We celebrate biodiversity and its essential role in maintaining the health, vitality and interconnection of the natural world, as well as our place within it. We look at some new evidence for the Gaia hypothesis, and explore how art and science can work together to inspire both hearts and minds to care more deeply about the planet and its creatures. We talk a bit about language and ask the all-important question: if biological and cultural diversity is so important, why is it so hard? In our Pro extension, we talk more about the ethical and philosophical underpinnings of the environmental movement, as we wonder: should we save the earth for ourselves, or for its own sake?
In honor of Memorial Day weekend, we turn our attention to the mysteries of death, grief, and memory. What does it mean to honor our dead, and how does our relationship with loved ones we have lost shape our connection to the land in which we live? Can we acknowledge our sense of sacred ambivalence, and the tension between holding onto the past and looking forward to the future? We explore our connection with the land through sacrifice and burial traditions; we look again at our relationship with animals and how we experience loss; and we share some personal reflections on the spiritual meaning of grief as a path towards transformation.
We share an appreciation for our flora kin and explore how welcoming plants into our everyday lives and environments can improve our quality of life in many different — and sometimes unexpected — ways. We learn about how ordinary herbs might help treat cancer and calm nerves; we look at innovative new designs in art and technology that draw their inspiration from our green-leafed friends; and we ponder what plants can teach us about intelligence and cooperation in flourishing communities. In our Pro extension, we visit with the mighty giants of the forest and discover what lessons trees can teach us about faith and spiritual relationship.
We probe a little more deeply into the spiritual side of our relationship with the animals and plants who share the planet with us by exploring the role of familiars, fetishes and totems in cultures from all over the world. Is there a way to enlist the help of these beings to reconnect the natural and the spiritual, or maybe even rediscover how they’ve been connected all along?
In Episode 105 – Animal Kin, we discover that animals are people, too, and some of them share a lot more in common with humans than you might think! We take a look at how biologists are reexamining the question of animal intelligence in “bird-brained” corvids, and how someday soon you might be able to use a new iPhone app to talk to apes at the zoo. Plus, we learn how man’s best friend may have helped wipe out the Neanderthals, all the while grooming us to become obedient personal servants. After covering the fascinating discoveries of conventional science, in our Pro extension we take a walk on the wilder side as we look at research into psychic animals and animal psychics.
In Episode 104 Pro – Home Sweet Home, we ask: what does it mean to be at home in the natural world? And how do we make our homes to provide both intimacy and vision in an increasingly mobile society? We take a look at the stories of people who are working to reclaim their sense of home amidst the clutter of the past and moving forward into a future where smaller spaces mean more freedom. Plus, how can “green” spirituality give us insights into creating meaningful, beautiful homes?
In Episode 103 – Your Brain on Faith, we use our little gray cells to explore the connections between the brain, the body and the blessings of tranquility and creativity to be found in the natural world. We share some of the latest research into how our brains respond to natural stimuli; what new studies can tell us about why all of your creative friends are so weird and wonderful; and why our evolving understanding of the subconscious means you might not be as rational as you think you are – but that might not actually be a bad thing! In the Pro extension, we talk about if there might be a “god-spot” in the human brain that makes religious belief possible, and whether or not the atheists are right when they say you have to be crazy to believe in this stuff. Also, sea monkeys.