GreenSpirit ebook series, 2012

Reviewed by George Polley


One of the things I like about the GreenSpirit Community is its focus on the interconnectedness of all life, and learning to celebrate and pay attention to the ways in which we are interconnected. As Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, we all “inter-are”.

Contrary to what we may have have learned, humans are a part of nature, and are in no way separate from or, as Judeo-Christian tradition has it, superior to it. In fact, our belief that we are put here to dominate and use nature as we see fit has brought us to the precipice of destroying the world in which we live, move, and have our being.

For the contributors to this book, there is no “us” and “them”, there is only “us”. As Marian Van Eyk McCain notes in her introduction, when she learned that in Native American cultures, other species are referred to as “all our relations”, she immediately “felt the sheer rightness” of the term, hence the title of this book. Of the book, she writes that it is “a book that specifically honours all those other life forms with whom we share the planet. They are all our relations. How we treat them, how we perceive them and feel about them and interact with them – and the extent to which we respect them – is . . . “a measure of our true humanity and a measure of our true worth.” Along with these other life forms “we make up the delicate web of life that makes this place of life livable and beautiful.” 

When we observe our surroundings attentively, we open ourselves to learning many things we would otherwise miss. What might we learn from a poisonous snake that lives under our small house? Marian Van Eyk McCain has much to say about this from an experience she had with one. In “Whale”, Eleanor O’Hanlon writes about her encounter with a gray whale mother and her calf in the San Ignacio lagoon within Mexico’s Viscaino Biosphere Reserve. This is a sharing between this mother and her calf and the humans in Cuco Fisher’s boat. “No wild creature can make a greater gesture of trust than to bring you her newborn and allow you to touch it,” she writes of her encounter; “this mother is bringing me what is most precious to her.” In the truest sense, this was – and is – a meeting. It is also, in Eleanor O’Hanlon’s terms, Eden which “is not simply a mythical place, or a metaphor for original innocence, or an outworn and divisive religious symbol. [It] is a state of being, [to which] we are free to return every time we know ourselves again in deep communion with the rest of life.” 

“All Our Relations” is packed with good ideas and information about the world in which we live and in which we are a part. It is also a most enjoyable read.

Contributors are: Marian Van Eyk McCain, Helen Moore, Susan Meeker-Lowry, David Abram, Stephanie Sorrell, Eleanor O’Hanlon, Sky McCain, Kathleen Martin, Hilary Wilmshurst, Clea Danaan, Rupert Sheldrake, Suzannah Stacey and Franziska Holmes.

This book is free for GreenSpirit members (in the members area of the GreenSpirit website). Or click here to buy the book online.