Spiritual activism is about being both ‘spiritually active,’ i.e. inspiring others, as well as being ‘spiritually grounded,’ i.e. being a compassionate activist with protests and practical action. It has ten chapters covering a wide range of territory, each ending with a case study featuring a well-known person who has been involved in spiritual activism such as Julia Butterfly Hill, Gandhi, Muhammad (pbuh) and Desmond Tutu.
‘Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence’ by Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen and Cliff Bowman
We have, in our western society, the god of science. So often we hear “scientists say…” in the press. And, for many people, this implies a statement of authority. But the problem is that western science is essentially value-less. This mind-set has led to such things as testing on animals, factory farming and the proliferation of deadly weapons. How did we get to this place and what can be done about it? Whilst the book covers a lot of territory, this is the key question it addresses.
‘A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom–Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories’ by David Young, Robert Rogers and Russell Willier
pbk 328 pp North Atlantic Books 2015 ISBN: 978-1583949030 Reviewed [...]
This would be a good book for study in schools because it offers scientific and technical information about ecology, sociology and psychology at a level that is very accessible. The author, a Scottish environmentalist, relates this to the inner life and thence the outward actions of all of us. Essentially, it’s a book about climate change and the human mind-set that has brought it about but continues to deny any responsibility. It also gives us constructive suggestions for a way forward.
As an environmental lawyer, Canadian writer David Boyd knows full well that much of the environmental news these days is bad news. However he also knows that although news tends to make more compelling headlines than good news, there is good news to be found. Although we have a very, very long way to go, it is a fact that: From air pollution to safe drinking water, from greener cities to renewable energy, we've made remarkable but widely underacknowledged progress. And his aim was to document as many examples of this kind of good news as he could fit between two covers.
Ranging as it does from in-depth explanations of neuropsychological processes to personal stories from surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors and others, this book is so impressively comprehensive that it could easily have been subtitled 'Everything you always wanted to know about our human relationship to water and lots more that you never even imagined.'
James Rebanks was born into a family which has farmed in Cumbria for at least 600 years and he learnt his shepherding skills from his grandfather and father from early childhood. As a young man he stretched his wings and went to Oxford, but that only made him more aware of the depth of his connection with the Lakes and farming. His book draws us into an extraordinary understanding of his small, remote upland world and its sheep and shepherds.
‘The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies: The Definitive Guide to All Flower Remedies, their Making and Uses’ by Clare G. Harvey
Clare Harvey writes that Dr Bach told her grandmother that though his essences were complete in themselves in the future there would be the need for essences from all over the world. Over the last 30 or so years there has been a worldwide explosion of new essences so that from the first 28 discovered by Dr Bach there are now literally thousands. In this compilation the writer has collected over 3,000 essences and combination remedies and listed them by continent and producer with the explanations and applications provided by their suppliers. Each section has its own introduction and the whole provides a very comprehensive reference book.
‘The Triumph of Seeds: How grains, nuts, kernels, pulses and pips conquered Nature and shaped human history’ by Thor Hanson
Just as William Blake talked about seeing the world in a grain of sand, Thor Hanson is able to see the whole world in a seed. And through his writing, he opens that world to us. From the tiniest, almost invisible seed of an epiphytic orchid to the forty-pound coco de mer, seeds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and employ an amazing diversity of methods for dispersing themselves and finding their way to somewhere they can germinate and grow. On that search and that settlement of seed into soil, now rests the whole of life on land—our own human lives included.
Most urban spaces and buildings in the West are designed and built with no sensitivity whatsoever to these subtle energy currents. Which is why Jaime Lerner's book is called 'Acupuncture'. It is all about bringing life back into dead spaces and restoring the flow of energy to places where it has been blocked or stifled. Lerner, who was three times mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and is also an architect and a popular advocate for sustainable and liveable urbanism, describes how some city planners have worked to restore life and dynamism to ailing urban areas.
In this book, Donnachadh describes his time in the Liberal Democratic Party, rising to the position of Deputy Chair and his subsequent disillusionment with corporate greed, politics and the wider economic system. The book is well researched and wide ranging; covering such subjects as tax avoidance, the press, politics and unfettered capitalism.
In recent years, as modern life causes more and more of us to become emotionally disconnected from the Earth upon which all our lives depend, we are realizing that it is not just the land we live in that needs rewilding but our own selves. This means finding ways to break down all the artificial boundaries that we humans have tried to place between ourselves and the rest of Nature. It means recognizing that we are—and always have been and always will be—an intrinsic part of the Earth, cells in the body of a living planet. Furthermore, it means re-learning how to live our daily lives out of that knowing. It means coming back 'down to Earth' in the truest sense of that phrase: consciously re-immersing ourselves in every way possible in the natural world that surrounds is, both without and within. That way lies healing—for ourselves and our planet.
‘Collected Papers of Michael E. Soulé: Early Years in Modern Conservation Biology’ by Michael, E. Soulé
This book contains skilfully collected presentations of the many faceted concerns of conservation combined with peer-reviewed scientific research in the broadest areas of biology, environmental studies and genetics. With well prepared overviews and summary paragraphs of the fourteen presented papers, the book serves as an essential text book for students of conservation biology and also as a fascinating general knowledge source for any layperson interested in the multitude of synchronous and symbiotic relationships within the plant and animal kingdoms and in the concept of the planet as a living, holistic being. It is a collection that would provide stimulating reading for anyone seeking deeper understanding of the ways in which the strands of the web of life are woven together.
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.
I have not always been a fan of Russell Brand’s comedy; the little I heard did not strike a chord with me. And so I was surprised to read his book Revolution which is both refreshing and insightful. Rather like the Court Jester of the Middle Ages who had the King’s ear – Russell Brand is the modern day Jester – telling us how things really are and prodding us to change.
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.
'Occupy Spirituality' is a superb dialogue between two important contemporary progressive Christian thinkers and activists. Though the subtitle partly suggests the book is focussed on the younger generation, there is nothing within the pages that is not relevant to us all, to the times in which we live and to the materialistic greed, bigotry and complacency that is bringing about the greatest spiritual crisis human and more-than-human life have ever faced. If this gives the impression this might a negative read, then it would be a wrong one. The book is truly inspirational. This is a spirituality that is prepared to get its hands dirty, to do something and work towards positive changes.
‘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.
With her whole-hearted commitment to celebrating the Earth and its cycles, Glennie Kindred delves into the living tradition of our Celtic ancestors and arrives at a magnificent collection of sacred ceremonies based on the eight Celtic festivals: the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the four cross-quarter points of Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas and Samhain. However, the celebrations in the collection are not in any way fixed or immutable; for her …they help us to discover more about ourselves and our intrinsic connection to Earth. Glennie believes we are free to celebrate the festivals in whatever way we choose, and her book is packed with suggested ways to do just this.
‘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.
Set primarily in the sandy, windswept area around the author’s home at Lazy Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York and organized around the calendar year, this book includes beautiful, detailed observations of Nature and the changes that happen as the seasons slowly revolve. Plus it is interspersed with commentaries and descriptions of various field trips made to other places far north and far south. Witnessing and documenting this ‘natural year in an unnatural world,’ Safina shows how the problems of the environment are linked to questions of social justice and the politics of greed.
Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground.
Lucy Moore, an environmental and public policy mediator with twenty-five years of experience, has written this book of what are basically ‘teaching stories’ as a way of sharing some of what she has learned in her work at the front lines of conflict resolution. Her work is done mostly in the American Southwest but the lessons we can learn from her are widely applicable to environmental conflict anywhere on the planet.
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.
‘Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth’ by George Wuerthner (Author, Editor), Eileen Crist (Editor) and Tom Butler (Editor)
Anthropocentrism, instead of gradually going away as so many of us have hoped, is sneaking in again by the back door. The people letting it in are not the familiar enemy who rip the tops of mountains and drill the Arctic but a small bunch of people who are billing themselves as the ‘new environmentalists’ (also known as ‘Anthropocene-boosters’) and who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
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
‘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.
‘Hosting Transformation: Stories from the edge of changemaking’ by Betsy McCall and Joos van den Dool
Education like all sectors of our economy and society is undergoing huge changes. On the pioneering edge of this process is a group of organisations across Europe exploring and experimenting with what education and learning might look like in these times. McCall and van den Dool have woven together threads of stories from many people hosting innovative educational experiences.
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.
Permanent Publications, 20141, 66 pp ISBN 978-1-85623-170-1 Reviewed by [...]