Earth Day, 2012
As for morality, now that they are looking biologists are finding what we would call animal morality in many animals. Neuroscientists are discovering mirror neurons in not only human brains but animal ones as well. Empathy is hard wired into us, and people without it, no matter how high they rise in corporate America or politics, are scientifically speaking, deeply defective human beings. Darwin has been shown to have been right: morality is an evolutionary expression of life on earth. Now E. O. Wilson, who once helped popularize the "selfish gene" idea has realized it is unable to describe a great deal of what exists in life, including ourselves. His new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, turns away from Richard Dawkins, back to Darwin.
As we learn more and more about our world, Earth Day becomes increasingly a day to venerate, and yet is now increasingly ignored or turned into a day for corporations to hawk faux-green crap.
I think only spiritualities of sacred immanence are capable of doing earth justice, and I think that we, as Pagans, have a responsibility to act and speak in defense of this planet that has blessed us into existence. If anyone can it is we who can argue for and sometimes introduce others to a direct experience of the sacrality of the earth. Only then can we really appreciate the deep truth in Leopold's observation in his marvelous A Sand County Almanac:
This song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all... On a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen...and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it - a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.
Another man whose spirit was as open as Leopold's to what our world is expressed another dimension of this truth, for no single account can encompass what is ultimately beyond words. Robinson Jeffers wrote:
To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things-earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars-
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality-
For man's half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant-to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
Gus diZerega is a Gardnerian Elder with over 25 years practice, including six years close study with a Brazilian shaman. He has been active in interfaith work off and on for most of those 25 years as well. He has conducted workshops and given presentations on healing, shamanism, ecology and politics at Pagan gatherings in the United States and Canada. Follow Gus on Facebook.
Gus blogs at Pointedly Pagan.