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The Soul of Nature:
The Meaning of Ecological Spirituality

Copyright 1996 by Lynna Landstreet. See contents page for full permissions.

16: Conclusions and endnotes

In conclusion, we must remember that the single most important aspect of ecological spirituality is in providing the why of environmental activism. Why should we care? Why should these issues matter to us? Why should we be willing to keep working, keep fighting, keep caring, in the face of constant setbacks, defeats and ridicule? What gets us through?

It is at those moments that the deeper questions call out to be answered, that we need the assurance of something vaster, older, deeper, than our individual selves:

O stars, lend us your burning passion.

O silence, give weight to our voice.

We ask for the presence of the spirit of Gaia.[60]



  1. Fraser, Charles, quoted in John McPhee, Encounters with the Archdruid: Narratives about a Conservationist and Three of his Natural Enemies. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971, pp. 95 & 103. Return to text.
  2. Mitchell, Kara, The Wildlands League, personal communication. Return to text.
  3. Graber, Linda H., Wilderness as Sacred Space. Washington, DC: Association of America Geographers, 1976. Return to text.
  4. This, and all dictionary definitions that follow, come from Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993. Return to text.
  5. LaChappelle, Dolores. Sacred Land, Sacred Sex -- The Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life. Silverton, CO: Finn Hill Arts, 1988, p. 118. Return to text.
  6. Ibid. Return to text.
  7. Seed, John, "To Hear Within Ourselves the Sound of the Earth Crying," in John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming & Arne Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1988, p. 6. Return to text.
  8. Foreman, Dave. Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. NY: Harmony Books, 1991, pp. 52-53. Return to text.
  9. Macy, Joanna. Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1983. Return to text.
  10. Ibid, p. 16. Return to text.
  11. Ibid, pp. 28-29. Return to text.
  12. Ibid, pp. 24 & 27. Return to text.
  13. Seed, Macy, Fleming & Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain. Return to text.
  14. Baudino, Gael, Strands of Sunlight. NY: Roc, 1994. Return to text.
  15. Starhawk (Miriam Simos). The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. NY: Harper & Row, 1979. pp. 77-78. Return to text.
  16. Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1957, p. 17. Return to text.
  17. Young, Dudley. Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1991, p. xxi. Return to text.
  18. Ellis, Peter Berresford. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. London: Constable, 1992, pp. 41 & 198. Return to text.
  19. Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An Encyclopedia of the Irish Folk Tradition. London: Prentice Hall Press, 1991, p. 244. Return to text.
  20. Green, Miranda. Animals in Celtic Life and Myth. London: Routledge, 1992, p. 1. Return to text.
  21. Laurie, Erynn. A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts. Seattle: Eschaton Press, 1994. Return to text.
  22. Laurie, Erynn. Message posted on Nemeton-L, Wednesday, April 19, 1995. Return to text.
  23. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p. 116. Return to text.
  24. For an excellent account of this transition, see Merchant, Carolyn. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980. Return to text.
  25. Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics. Boston: Beacon Press, 1982, pp. 7-8. Return to text.
  26. Scarce, Rik. Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement. Chicago: The Noble Press, 1990, p. 34. Return to text.
  27. Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. "The Dead Pan." Cited in The Pocket Book of Quotations. NY: Pocket Books, 1942, p. 263. Return to text.
  28. LaChappelle, Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, p. 121. Return to text.
  29. Jeffers, Robinson, "Credo." Cited in The Pocket Book of Quotations. NY: Pocket Books, 1942, p. 12. Return to text.
  30. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p. 13. Return to text.
  31. This story appeared in an interview with Starhawk in some feminist magazine, which I cannot for the life of me find right now. Return to text.
  32. Walker, Barbara (ed.). Out of the Ordinary: Folklore & the Supernatural. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1995. Note that to the best of my knowledge, this is not the same Barbara Walker who has written several books on feminist spirituality. Return to text.
  33. Ibid, pp. 5-6. Return to text.
  34. See Sessions, George, "Deep Ecology and the New Age Movement," in George Sessions (ed.), Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. Boston: Shambhala Books, 1995. Return to text.
  35. See Churchill, Ward, Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1994. Return to text.
  36. Sessions, George, "Deep Ecology and the New Age Movement"; LaChappelle, Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, p. 121-123. Return to text.
  37. For a good introduction to Wicca, and to neo-paganism in general, see Adler, Margot, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. Return to text.
  38. "The Charge of the Goddess." Precise origin unknown, but thought by many to have been written by Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner in the 1940s or 50s. Widely published; see for example Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, p. 77. Return to text.
  39. Adler, Drawing Down the Moon, p. 411 17. Return to text.
  40. See Biehl, Janet. "The Politics of Myth." Kick It Over, no. 23, Spring 1989. My article in response, which the editors somewhat confusingly titled "The Politics of Atheism," appeared in the following issue. Return to text.
  41. See Fortune, Dion, The Goat Foot God (NY: Samuel Weiser, 1936), The Sea Priestess (NY: Samuel Weiser, 1938), Moon Magic (NY: Samuel Weiser, 1940). Return to text.
  42. See Richardson, Alan (ed.). Dancers to the Gods: The Magical Records of Charles Seymour and Christine Hartley, 1937 1939. Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1985. Return to text.
  43. Seymour, Charles. In Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki (ed.). The Forgotten Mage: The Magical Lectures of Colonel C.R.F. Seymour. Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1986, p. 135. Return to text.
  44. Kelly, Aidan, Crafting the Art of Magic: A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1991. I do not support all of Kelly's theories by any means, but on this particular point, I believe he is likely correct.Return to text.
  45. Seymour, Charles. The Forgotten Mage. p. 207. Return to text.
  46. See Naess, Arne, "Self-Realization," In Sessions, Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. Return to text.
  47. Devall, Bill, and George Sessions. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1985, pp. 90-101. Return to text.
  48. Seed, John. "Anthropocentrism." Appendix E in Devall & Sessions, Deep Ecology, p. 243. Return to text.
  49. LaChappelle, Dolores. "Ritual is Essential." Appendix F in Devall & Sessions, Deep Ecology, p. 247-48. Return to text.
  50. Lone Wolf Circles. Full Circle: A Song of Ecology & Earthen Spirituality. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1991. Return to text.
  51. See Guha, Ramachandra, "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique," in Environmental Ethics vol. 11, no. 1 (1989). Return to text.
  52. LaChappelle, Dolores. Earth Wisdom. Silverton, CO: Finn Hill Arts, 1978. Return to text.
  53. LaChappelle, Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, pp. 274-302. Return to text.
  54. Seed, Macy, Fleming & Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain. Return to text.
  55. Churchill, Indians Are Us?, pp. 234-37. Return to text.
  56. Churchill, Ward, in Derrick Jensen, Listening to the Land: Conversations About Nature, Culture and Eros. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1995, pp. 161-62. Return to text.
  57. Seed, John, "Invocation," in Seed, Macy, Fleming & Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain, p. 7. Return to text.
  58. Hufford, David J. "Beings Without Bodies: An Experience-Centered Theory of the Belief in Spirits." In Walker (ed.), Out of the Ordinary. Return to text.
  59. See Evernden, Neil, The Natural Alien: Humankind & Environment. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985, pp. 3-14, on the dangers of utilitarian arguments. Return to text.
  60. Seed, John, "Invocation," in Seed, Macy, Fleming & Naess, Thinking Like a Mountain, p. 7. Return to text.



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