Naturalistic Traditions: All Things April

Naturalistic Traditions: All Things April April 1, 2012

Earth Day Flag. Image courtesy of the author.

What can a naturalist celebrate in April?

This post is part of Naturalistic Traditions, a column exploring naturalism in Pagan ways.  This column will cover seasonal celebrations, historical and contemporary movements, and ritual practices.

Natural cycles

April falls between the Equinox and the upcoming Cross-quarter.  Those in the Northern Hemisphere experience the coming of spring, while those in the Southern Hemisphere hail the autumn.  April is therefore a month of balance between the forces of winter and summer, and a time when the power of life explodes into fullness or wanes in its glory.

Neopagan traditions

There are no Solstices, Equinoxes, or Cross-quarters (High Days or Sabbats) that fall within April this year, but attunement to the cycle of nature continues.  One may take this month as a time for action between sacred festivals, especially in conjunction with Earth Day or Genocide Awareness Month (see below).

Civic, scientific, and philosophical traditions

April is full of special days to celebrate.

First off, April 7th is World Health Day.  This celebrates the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948.  It’s a global campaign inviting everyone to focus on a single health challenge of global importance, with the goal of initiating collective action.  This year, the theme is “Aging and Health: Good Health Adds Life to Years.”

Second, April 20th is the birthday of Marcus Aurelius.  This Roman emperor (born 121 C.E.) was also a philosopher of Stoicism.  This ancient and largely naturalistic philosophy sought serenity within the world of action by concerning oneself only with what was within one’s control: one’s choices.  The emperor Marcus Aurelius kept a personal journal of reflections while on his military campaigns, and this was published after his death as The Meditations.  It remains a classic today, and paints a poignant picture of a man wrestling with his own emotions and duties.

Earth Day, by Snugg via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)April 22nd is Earth Day.  This day has been gaining steam since its inception in 1970, and is now celebrated by over 175 countries.  It’s intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for our natural environment. Google “how to celebrate Earth Day” to find no end of ideas for activities.  Here’s a list of 15 ways to celebrate Earth Day.  My personal favorite is to spend the day as a “trashmonk“, picking up trash as a form of meditation and devotion.  I find it calming, centering, and rewarding.  Sometimes I even chant a hymn to the Earth Mother as I go along.

Here are lyrics for an Earth Day Anthem set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”:

Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment
Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love through out all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love through out all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world

Last but not least, the entire month of April is Genocide Awareness Month.  Six genocides have memorial events in April (6th – Bosnia, 7th – Rwanda, 17th – Cambodia, 19th – Darfur, 21st – Holocaust, 24th – Armenia).  This makes it a month for awareness, reflection, and action.  You can find 30 things to do during Genocide Awareness Month from the Holocaust Museum Houston.  Or, if so inclined, organize your own Genocide Prevention Ritual.

About the author

B. T. Newberg portrait

B. T. Newberg has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective since 2000.  After experimenting with Agnosticism, Buddhism, Contemporary Paganism, and Spiritual Humanism, he currently combines the latter two into a dynamic path embracing both science and myth.  He is the editor of a community blog for naturalistic spirituality called Humanistic Paganism, which just published an anthology called Year One with over a dozen contributing authors.  After growing up in Minnesota, and living in England, Malaysia, and Japan, B. T. Newberg currently resides in South Korea with his wife and cat.

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