We have the great pleasure of sharing with you a talk by Peter Illyn, “Goddess, Gearbox or Garden,” presented at the Wild Goose West festival earlier this year. Peter explores the “history of history” and the evolving use of stories and metaphors within Christianity to talk about humanity’s relationship with the natural world. What does it mean to be a “belly-button Christian” in a culture steeped in mechanistic and utilitarian metaphors for nature? How do we encourage others to nurture a sacred relationship with the earth? Peter explores all of these questions and more, sharing accounts of his own work as an environmental steward and activist. In our Pro Extension, we continue the conversation by exploring the history of Earth goddess worship throughout the world, and some of the environmental implications of nature worship today.
We explore the paradox of sacred space and our relationship with holiness through the places that we set aside for reverence and usefulness. Drawing on parallels with art and the philosophy of aesthetics, we delve into the process of “framing” as a way of highlighting the spiritual aspects of the ordinary world around us. What does it mean to say that “everything is sacred”? How does our relationship change when we transform space into place? We look at the profound ways that our pattern-seeking brains shape our understanding of sacred space in religious and secular ritual.
We are like a branch grafted onto the wrong tree, an organ transplanted into another body. We’re aliens in our own homes. But we cannot go back where we came from; we’d be aliens there, too. There is nowhere in the world that we really belong. Those of us of European descent who don’t live [...]
We check out the many amazing ways that people all over the world are embracing “green space” through architecture, infrastructure and landscaping, inviting the natural world back into our homes and businesses as a vital part of our efforts to live sustainably. From street-side city gardens to snail-inspired biomimicry, from a real-life Hobbit Hotel to a table lamp that runs on moss — we explore what it means to approach the process of “placemaking” as a way of connecting to nature and restoring our sense of sacred space. In our Pro Extension, we ponder the implications of granting legal rights to rivers and forests; plus, we examine the “religious” aspect of the debate over hydro-fracking.
Water is so obvious because it is almost everywhere — and where it isn’t, we notice its absence immediately. Water connects us. It is essential, a need all of us share and one that none can escape. What do I know about where my water comes from? What do I know about what’s done to my water before it comes flowing out of my tap? What do I put in my water before it disappears down my drain — soap, shampoo, cosmetics, laundry detergent, fragrances, fertilizers, pesticides? What do I know about my water table, and how fragile is it — is my neighborhood in danger of drought?
We continue our in-depth review of John Michael Greer’s new book, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology, with an exploration of the last three principles of spiritual ecology, as well as some intense discussion about magic and initiation from an ecological perspective. What can we learn from ecology as a “science of systems” about the deep spiritual truths that guide our lives? Why do Greer’s explanations of the Laws of Cause and Effect, Planes and Evolution miss out on some key insights? How does magic really work, anyway? We explore those questions and more in the second part of this exclusive FF&C Pro two-part special.
On the first Sunday in October, the Pope will declare Hildegard of Bingen a “Doctor of the Church” — a fancy title meaning, basically, that her writings are considered exemplary sources of Catholic theology and doctrine. Hildegard and an obscure Spanish mystic will get this honor this fall, and will be only the 34th and 35th persons to be so named in all of Catholicism. Most of the Doctors of the Church are obscure theologians, folks like Gregory Nazianzus or Peter Damian or Lawrence of Brindisi. Others are more recognizable: Thomas Aquinas, the Venerable Bede, and Augustine of Hippo are all members of this rather exclusive club. Before 1970, no woman had ever been declared a Doctor of the Church; Hildegard will be the fourth to receive the title, after Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse of Lisieux — all mystics, which is not surprising since throughout most of church history women rarely were recognized as theologians unless they were seen as mystics, that is to say, as visionaries who insisted that their authority as theologians and spiritual teachers came directly from God.