of people stand in the midst of a beautiful green field, tightly and joyously hand-in-hand. A small bonfire burns gently in
the center of their Circle, sending its warmth and light all about. The Circle of people dance round the flame, singing and
chanting their special songs, and paying honor to the Earth in this religious rite. Their Earth-based religion has taught
them over the ages to respect and worship their world, and to love Her as something sacred.
Who are these Earth-worshipers?
An ancient Druid grove, or a Native American tribe? A band of Aborigines in the South Pacific, or perhaps a Coven of modern-day
urban Pagans? Over time many have practiced Earth-based religions, where our planet is revered as a Deity. The followers of
today's Earth religions still hold a special reverence for Mother Earth, but often do not have that same personal contact
with Her that their ancestors felt. We no longer listen to the wind to find our food; we don't speak to the clouds to ask
for rain. While we still may love and worship the Earth, we've outgrown many of our dependencies, at least the everyday dependencies
that have been replaced with modern-day conveniences. Where the Earth was once our Mother, a member of our immediate family,
perhaps to some She is now more like a distant cousin.
This distance sometimes causes
us to speak of the Earth in vague, macro terms. We worship what we call the Earth, but what exactly does "Earth" mean? Is
your kitchen table part of the Earth? Does it have an Earth Spirit? And what about the food you eat at that table? Is your
dinner part of the Earth too? Your favorite jewelry? Your copper plumbing? Your telephone wires? The answer here is obviously
yes, but it's not always easy to bridge the gap between broad spiritual concepts and tangible everyday things. Ordinary things
are sacred too and being ordinary makes them no less special. That same Earth essence living in the lush green forest also
lives in all the simple objects we see and touch every day. So, perhaps you can find an aspect of the Earth on the streets
you travel each day, even if those streets are filled with busy traffic. Perhaps you can find an aspect of the Earth within
your home-town, your neighborhood, your home, your own bed. If you see a bit of the Earth's Spirit in all things around you,
then you can revere and worship the Earth in a much more personal way, more face-to-face, more one-on-one.
Earth worshipers often hold
special reverence for natural settings, the woods, the beach, the mountains. But are things made by humans any less Earthly?
We too are part of the Earth, not something separate. We are linked to it, part of the same whole, and therefore so are the
things we build. We make things because it is our nature to do so, like a forest makes trees and like trees make leaves. So,
while you may discover the mysteries of nature by watching a river flow, you can also find a few lessons by watching a railroad.
Can the hot and cold knobs of your faucet help you understand balance between opposites? Can pondering your electrical outlets
give you new sources of energy? Can the telephone help you feel how all things link together? Can washing and waxing your
floor teach you anything about cleansing and protecting yourself from negativity?
Perhaps "worship" is not always
the right word for every situation. But you can certainly relate to and talk with every person, place and thing you encounter
in a very special way! Have an old comfortable chair? When was the last time you told it just how much you appreciate it?
Perhaps an "offering" of polish or oil for its wood would be greatly appreciated, like a back-rub for any hard-working friend!
Do you have a special place where children love to play, like a park, a field, a sandbox, a porch? Try thanking this special
piece of the Earth for the happiness it brings; ask it to continue providing its safe guardianship over our little loved ones.
Even thanking your parking space counts. This does not include asking for a parking space when you need one, but saying thank
you before you leave one. (There's a big difference between saying please -- and saying thank you!)
Not only can Earth worshipers
narrow their focus to recognize ordinary things, but we can also widen it too. Earth is but one of several planets orbiting
a single star. Do all the planets have Spirit the way the Earth does? Are they part of nature too? Some say that stones and
boulders and rocks are alive. What greater boulder could you find than one of our planets? Does our Solar System, this Coven
of planets orbiting the Sun, have some type of collective Spirit? (Can this help explain astrology?) Our star, like the small
bonfire burning gently in the center of our Circle, sends its warmth and light all about. A Circle of planets dance round its flame,
singing and chanting their special songs. But it is only an average star, one of many stars in an average galaxy, one of many
galaxies within a very, very big universe.
So, if we are part of a vast universe,
is my Earth religion somewhat self-centered? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on whether you recognize just how vast nature really
is. It is only natural that we hold most dear our "immediate family" of the Earth. Hopefully, we still recognize that we are
part of a much larger family, a community of all things, reaching out from across our kitchen table or across the galaxy,
tightly and joyously hand-in-hand. In this way, worshipping the Earth becomes a key that unlocks our relationship to all things,
whether vast or very small and simple.