This book describes itself as offering a path of self discovery in Nature. There is an introduction by Jack Kornfield, who commends the author for providing a way to: be joyful, see anew, be amazed. It has about forty sections, mostly of three or four pages, with a short teaching session, followed by guidance for a meditation.
Growing plants, particularly as food, can enable wonderful insight into the processes of life. Biodynamics, which links our work as gardeners to our cosmic context and to microscopic processes is a powerful invitation to step into a sense of the sacredness and wonder of these processes.
In this useful book, Ingerman not only totally demystifies shamanism for the lay reader but shows how its various tools can also be used as a self-help toolkit by individuals. We can use it to bring our own mind body and spirit back into internal balance, provide our lives with new meaning and hope, bring ourselves back in balance with the rest of Nature and, most importantly of all, do our part in healing our damaged Earth.
‘Love in the Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating the Relationships We Need to Thrive’ by Carolyn Baker
Carolyn Baker is one of a growing band of writers who are facing up to the seriousness and scale of the ecological and economic collapse our planet is currently facing and 'telling it like it is.' The sort of world that humans might build out of the ruins of the old one will depend hugely, if not entirely, on our relationships. This includes our relationships with loved ones, with our neighbours and friends, with our children and our elders, ourselves, our bodies, our fellow creatures, the rest of Nature, and the Earth itself.
‘Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation For Conservation’ by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler (Editors)
As John Terborgh points out in his Foreword: One of the great challenges to be faced by conservationists now and in the future will be that of clarifying in the public mind the distinction between ecosystem services and biodiversity protection. A program can, in some cases, provide both. In this book we hear the voices of several dozen conservationists from around the world, including well-known spokespeople like Jane Goodall and George Monbiot, about how these challenges are being met.
SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva
This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book.
This is not simply a book about trees. It is a book about you and me and all of us and how we can draw on a reservoir of help and energy that we might not even realize is available to us—i.e. the help and energy of those silent, deeply-rooted companions whose presence we all tend to overlook.
Most of us are unaware of the extent to which humans are destroying the ecosystems of our planet's vast seas and oceans. But for David Helvarg, who loves the sea and loves to swim and surf and dive and really interact with the water—and who is also a trained journalist with deep passions and an enquiring mind—there is no way to ignore the tragedy that is happening in that vast, salty realm and to all who live there, from the tiniest krill to the largest whale. And no way to shirk the task of telling the world about it.
‘Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence’ by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola
We recognize the familial bonds we have with other animals, for like us they all have eyes and a heart and a brain and, despite vast differences of form, we are all variations on a theme. But a plant—well that is ‘something else.’ It is sedentary, fixed in place, lacking internal organs, lacking a face. To our anthropocentric human minds, plants are either commodities or decorations. We don’t see them for who they actually are: fellow beings with whom we and all other life forms share the vast co-operative adventure called life on Earth. For in fact, plants process information, just as we do. They sleep and wake, just like us. Like us, they can see, feel, touch and remember. They can also communicate with each other and with other organisms They just do it differently, that's all.
Sustainable World Sourcebook: Critical Issues, Viable Solutions, Resources for Action (4th Edition, 2014)
If you wanted a comprehensive yet succinct overview to present to someone with scant knowledge of social/environmental issues, to anyone interested in sustainability, or to a group looking for action ideas and/or discussion topics, this would be your perfect resource book. It is, in fact, a practical and inspirational one-stop shop for all things green. It covers social justice, energy, climate change, economics, communities and all aspects of the environmental issues that our world is currently facing. Inspirational and potentially attitude-changing.
By lighting up the Earth to the point where hardly anyone gets to see the stars any more we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of an experience that should be their birthright—but which, after a few generations, nobody is going to know is even possible. Also, since all living beings evolved on a planet where nights are dark, we are unthinkingly disrupting countless ecological systems and cycles that have existed since life began. This book chronicles its author's journey across the USA in search of really dark skies and his conversations with those he met along the way, including astronomers, who face increasing challenges from light pollution, and urban planners who are starting to look at how we might light our cities and towns more subtly and sustainably in order to preserve the darkness our bodies—and our souls—actually need for good health.
As the title suggests, this is not a book about climate science. It’s about humans and the weird but inescapable fact that we, as the species whose actions have contributed so heavily to climate change, seem utterly incapable not only of addressing the issue but even of admitting that it exists. Why? Why don’t we all join the dots and amend our lifestyles to lower carbon emissions? Marshall is convinced that the real answers to do not lie in the things that drive us apart so much as the things we all share: our common psychology, our perception of risk, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. This book, the result of years of research, provides a full and fascinating explanation of this phenomenon and what we might do about it.
‘The Herbalist’s Bible: John Parkinson’s Lost Classic Rediscovered’ by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal
The Herbalist’s Bible is a translation of a description of fifty of the 3,800 herbs outlined in John Parkinson’s ‘Theatricum Botanicum’. Parkinson, master herbalist to Charles 1, published his ‘Magnum Opus’ in 1640. It was never reprinted and is now an extremely valuable rare book. The recent publication of The Herbalist’s Bible makes this valuable contribution to the literature of Western Herbalism accessible once more. Unique amongst many herbal reference books, this book contains reproductions of the original manuscript complete with detailed line drawings, alongside a modern translation, including descriptions of therapeutic applications illustrated with high quality photographs.
‘Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms and Communities Worldwide’ by Juliana Birnbaum & Louis Fox
After an impassioned Foreword by Paul Hawken and some excellent explanations of Permaculture principles and ethics, this colourful and lavishly illustrated book takes us on a tour around the entire globe visiting no fewer than sixty different—and all equally inspiring—projects based either directly or indirectly on Permaculture concepts. These range from desert reclamation in the hottest, driest area in Jordan to the re-establishment of forest in India to educational urban farms like Melbourne's Ceres and from long-established communities such as Findhorn on the north coast of Scotland to a newly-established eco-village in Kenya.
In a collapsing world, it is no good surviving physically unless we can also survive—and help each other survive—emotionally and spiritually, and the aim of this book is to help us do just that. The first two-thirds of the book describe and explain, in 109 easy-to-read, wisdom-packed pages, the psycho-spiritual preparations that need to be made for the collapse that has already begun, and why, even though the collapse may be a long, slow process, it is so vital that we start making them. The last third consists of a carefully-chosen set of 52 weekly 'meditations' – in the sense of quotes and thoughts to be pondered upon – all geared towards helping us deal with the collapse of our old world whilst also saving and guarding the seeds we hope to plant in the new one that will—we hope—eventually rise from the ruins.
An inspiring collection of personal stories, told by sixteen people who are each, in their own individual ways, involved in working towards what Joanna Macy calls 'The Great Turning,' i.e. the movement away from the madness of our materialist, militaristic, industrial culture and towards the sanity of living sustainably and co-operatively on our planet.
This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell--unlike us--in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers "…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire." It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book.
Ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, there have been many more books on our desecration of the environment in the name of materialist profit. There is a massive amount of data in this book, also, about the harm we are doing to our Earth, but it is presented here in a readable way. And despite this despairing message of the Earth in peril, the final 80 pages of this book provide a guide to ways each individual can make a positive contribution to survival.
This book about the dynamics of intimate relationships and their potential as a vehicle for personal growth has two things that make it different from other books on relationships: (a) it is written by a biologist and underpinned by science, and (b) it addresses the connection between personal love and planetary healing.
Plotkin, an eco-psychologist and wilderness guide well known for his earlier books Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, turns his attention now to a complete and holistic re-visioning of psychology. Rather than focusing on pathology and dysfunction as most psychologists—except perhaps the Jungian ones—have done, his focus is on wellness. Not just wellness in the sense of being ‘normal’ and well-functioning but in the much wider and deeper context of our existence as just one species among many and just one aspect of ‘all-that-is.’
Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way.
As well as easy access to the places we go to for shopping, services, leisure and socializing, human beings need comfort, cosiness, connectedness, clean air, beauty, lovability, safety, atmosphere, diversity and other subtle qualities of place that are hard to name but which we all recognize with our hearts. This book is about turning our existing cities into dense, mixed-use urban environments with high ‘walkability,’ excellent public transit, cycle paths etc., along with greening and revitalizing run-down neighbourhoods and finding ways to retrofit existing suburbs to cope with changing demographics, changing work patterns and dwindling natural resources.
It has been said before that we will not protect what we do not love. In this sweet book, Thich Nhat Hanh not only shows his love for our beautiful planet, but fully explains how the planet is lovable. He reminds us of Earth's many blessings and leaves us with practical examples of how it behoves every one of us to create a loving relationship with her.
There is a lot we don’t know about water, and the research that Professor Pollack and his laboratory team have been working on is aimed at unravelling some of its mysteries. As well as gas, liquid and solid forms of water, they have discovered a surprisingly extensive fourth phase that occurs at any interface where water meets a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) surface. This research has far-reaching implications for health and healing, for renewable energy production, water filtration, desalination and a host of other things.
‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Whether working alone in her garden, facing a bunch of students in her classroom, out doing fieldwork in the forest or patiently learning, word by difficult word, the language of her ancestors, Robin Wall Kimmerer is awake and aware and open to new understandings. Through her, we see connections and relationships where we never noticed them before. As she tells her stories, they come alive for us until we can feel the sun on the wild strawberries, hear the ‘plink’ of maple sap into the buckets and marvel at the stately pecan trees that only fruit in certain years but when they do fruit, always do it in concert, in the same year.
Working as a Zen cook in a Buddhist centre in Wales, this author begins to learn more about who she really is, not just through being part of the community but also through creating and serving meals. This is a beautifully-crafted book, part personal journey, part reflection on life and part cookbook
This book describes our planet's whole evolutionary journey from the Big Bang to the present day, as revealed to us by science. It then goes on to explain why the story is so relevant for our time and to discuss some of the many inspirations we can draw from it.
‘All Our Relations: Green Spirit Connections with the more-than-human world’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain
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.
Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Ghandi, Rabindranath Tagore and E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar outlines a spiritual vision of sustainability in which we can learn from Nature as well as about Nature. Offering practical guidance for how we can achieve this vision, Satish teaches that only love and reverence and not fear will lead to long term sustainability.
Interest in working with labyrinths is on the increase and this book is written to give interested people ideas about how to develop them--in both portable and permanent forms. Examples in the book include labyrinths in hospitals, schools, universities, hospices, spiritual centres and public spaces. The book also covers personal development issues such as the use of labyrinths for stress management and self-care.
South African lawyer Cormac Cullinan describes all the ways in which human laws and governance systems need be designed to promote human behaviour that contributes to the health and integrity not only of human society, but also of the wider communities, and of the Earth itself.
Rather than seeing the bare hills of mid-Wales as beautiful in their remoteness George Monbiot sees them as ruined, ‘sheepwrecked’ landscapes and re-imagines them as they once were—and could be again—thickly forested and rich with wildlife. His biggest dream is the restoration to completeness of fractured ecosystems by the eventual re-introduction of the wolf, the lynx and other large mammals to our British landscapes in the same way as this is already being done in other parts of Europe and in certain areas of North America.
We are growing older these days. The late 70's is the life expectancy for men in the UK and added to this, the rapid culture changes we are facing, 50 can be seen as a new beginning rather than the start of a slow decline.
American writer and photographer Lisa Hamilton had been investigating global food production for many years when in 2003 she was invited by Shumei, a Japanese spiritual organisation (shumei.org), to interrogate their approach to farming, Natural Agriculture.
The book is a call to action – to heal our wounds and our fractured society, and most importantly halt the violence we are inflicting on this planet before it's too late. The author points out that, through increasing urbanisation, most of us have lost contact with the land and the soil and as a result part of our soul has died. She writes from a Christian perspective but draws on the wisdom of other religious traditions as well. She assures readers that her message is for those of all faiths or none: what matters is that they possess 'the honesty of intention' She tackles big questions such as how we move into a new era of social responsibility, lay the foundations of a just society and reform our economic system so that we value people and not money.
‘Climb up to the Moor: Moorland Life through the Seasons of the Year.’ Words and pictures by Judith Bromley with selected paintings by Robert Nicholls
This book about the moorland of the North Yorkshire National Park is a feast for the senses. Everyone reading it will certainly want to experience the moorland as Judith has. She walks there in every season: observing, watching, writing and painting. Each month she describes the impact on all of her senses of what is above her head, below her feet and within her field of vision. By itself the language that she uses paints glorious pictures in our minds, but the written words are accompanied by stunning paintings of the places she describes.
It is so easy to become fearful, isolated and despondent about the enormity of the environmental and social challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing. This book tells us how we can sustain ourselves through these challenges and live positive, compassionate and hope filled lives
Whereas Louv's earlier book Last Child in the Woods pointed out the problem of Nature- Deficiency Disorder in children, Louv’s new book The Nature Principle points out that adults themselves can suffer from the same disorder—and many already are. Though we tend to forget it, we too are animals; we co-evolved with the natural world and we need it as much as ever. Being isolated from green and growing things predisposes us to a range of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, behaviour disorders, depression and a lack of connection with community and place. We ignore these warnings at our peril.
Judith Bromley's book is unlike anything I have ever read. I would say that I have experienced it rather than read it. As she led me through the seasons of a single year, I found myself wanting it not to be autumn but to continue to be summer. I found myself engaged in the process of gauging the height of the sun, and the point in the valley where the sun never shines. I felt really glad that the populace don't have access to 'our' wood, and that it remains undisturbed and sacred.
Part personal story, this book begins among the bright green terraced rice paddies of Bali as the author sets out on a study tour through Asia to document the relationship between magic and medicine. Rather than travelling as an academic, he goes simply as a magician, using his own well-developed magic skills to make a collegial connection with the various sorcerers and shamans he meets along the way. Soon, however, he begins to discover the deeper truths of the shamanic role in community, which is to be the knowing, sensing bridge between the community and the greater reality, both psychic and organic, in which all our human communities are embedded.
An essential first step in repairing the damage we have done to the planet and to ourselves may be to go back to basics and, literally, to come to our senses. Not only must we fully re-inhabit our animal bodies but we must also become aware of our vital interconnectedness with all other creatures. And for tutoring us and inspiring us in these twin tasks I have never met a better teacher than David Abram.
This book is a good introduction to that most fundamental constituent of our life, breathing. It is short, with 75 brief chapters, most of which contain practical advice and a breathing exercise, plus many wise words on embodied spirituality.
Gabrielle Roth’s dance system or ‘the five rhythms’ isn't about definite steps, but about responding directly to music and moving however you feel. The five rhythms are supposed to be the five basic types of process which underlie all music, even though they are often found mixed together.
For Brian Goodwin, intelligence, meaning and subjectivity are inherent in nature, not restricted to the human realm. As a scientist, Goodwin is well equipped to show us how this can be so, though he calls on folk stories as well as scientific studies to help him convey the message. His argument equally implies that all our stories, arts and other cultural creations also arise from the endlessly inventive, emergent, unpredictable reality which is Nature.
‘The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ by Iain McGilchrist
This is one of the most important books that I've read. I heard Iain McGilchrist talking about it on the radio when it was first published and just knew I had to read it. It's a weighty tome (both in size and content), covering both the structure of the brain and how the brain’s structure and function has shaped Western culture. McGilchrist is eminently suited for the task, as he taught English at Oxford University before training as a psychiatrist and is therefore able to express complex ideas in simple, attractive ways.
This is a most welcome book as in my experience animals respond extraordinarily well to Flower Remedies and it will give confidence to many people who would like to use them on their pets.