Sunday, August 27, 2006

Meaning Of Being Nature-Based

Many Pagans talk about how theirs is a "nature-based" or a "nature-centered" religion. But what does that really mean? It seems to be a term that is used by many in the Pagan community but it has been used in so many contexts that I am wondering if it is being used without knowing the meaning behind it.

When people describe Paganism as a "nature-based" religion, I've always wondered which part of that term they are emphasizing. Is it a nature religion? Or is it based on nature? While there are several different directions that people could go in with the use of this term, there are a few common ones that are discussed again and again.[1]

If we pull apart the term and define it, maybe we will be able to better determine the meaning of the term. Following each word are several definitions that are in common use in dictionaries.

Nature - a creative and controlling force in the universe; the external world in its entirety

Based - a foundation; the fundamental part of something; a starting point or point of departure; to place or establish on a base or basis

Using these definitions, you could say that 'nature-based religion' means a religion that uses the external world in its entirety as a foundation for its teachings. Or it could mean establishing religious teachings based on the controlling force in the universe. These definitions do work but I think that they are rather vague because "external world" and "controlling force" could be considered anything.

When I think of nature, I think of the natural world around me: wildlife, the woods, lakes, etc. Therefore, when I think of a religion as "nature based" I think of it as being based on the cycles of the seasons, putting emphasis on the natural world for learning certain life lessons and putting emphasis on the Gods or deities behind the natural world.

To be continued….

[1] I will discuss this in more detail in another post


Penguin said...

I fully agree with your last paragraph/definition.
Although I believe the Goddess and God are the "controlling force", I know that what occurs with me is within and without.

Can't wait to read more!

peppylady said...

I feel each, let use the word relgion for the sake of argeement.
I feel that the christainty but to much effert in the afterlife and not enought time in the here now.
I feel different deites comes and communcated with us threw different parts of earth. Such as wind blowing through tree leaves and or creek trickling over rocks.
I never know how one may send a message to one self and sometime it may take some time, because we aren't listening.

Steph said...

I left the term "religion" behind when I became a heretic. Mine is not a religion but a form of spirituality which happens to be nature-centred. I do not subscribe to the belief of a creator nor do I worship one. It's a matter of the energies in everything and while I do utilise gods and goddesses it's their power and not them as a figurehead. Being one with the universe and all that crap.. ;)

I hope this makes sense, my head is pounding so I'm making little sense to myself.

Mike said...

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series, Sojourner, because that's something I struggle with. My connection to nature has declined in recent years, and I'm always looking for ways to reclaim that connection.

Grian said...

In my opinion there are so many ways to have a nature based path. I do not think practicing a nature based religion specifically means that you revere just the wilderness of nature.

People are natural. We live a life cycle and return to the Earth when it is over. I think having a nature based path reflects that one can find divinity within themselves (naturally because we are of nature) and in the natural world that is constantly around them without needing a clergy person to point the way for them inside of a church. (Though a Pagan temple would be lovely it is not a necessity.) It means that we understand certain aspects of life and creation that some others might not. For instance, we have an entirely different outlook on death than Christians do because we see it as a natural process and part of life itself. Most Pagans believe that animals have souls and are equal to human beings. Christians will typically tell you that is blasphemy.

The seasons and the cycles are, in my opinion, blueprints for enlightenment. Within these intricate processes are little clues left by the Creator that show us how to better our lives and reach a state that is closer to the Source. Whether or not you live in the depths of the woods you can utilize these metaphors and change your thinking for the better.

Just my opinion.

bharti jain said...

The explaination couldn't have been any clearer than explained above by you...think of it as the same way you was nice to read your post.