I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. ~ Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux
Our focus this month covers a multiplicity of spiritual and religious practices under the umbrella terms “earth-based” or “earth-centered” traditions. In these traditions, connections to the earth, its elements, seasons, and cycles, form the basis of ritual celebrations, ethical actions, and meaningful living. As Unitarian Universalists, we express an element of earth-centered spirituality in our seventh principle, which promotes and affirms “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
While there may be some shared practices among earth-centered traditions, such as calling the four directions, there are many, many different ways in which people have expressed their spiritual connection to the earth. There is no standardized dogma, nor centralized religious body. Native American spirituality is one broad, earth-centered tradition with its own plurality of expression by tribe, region, and time. Paganism, or the more contemporary neo-Paganism, is another broad grouping of earth-based spirituality, which includes the Wiccan, Celtic, and Shaman traditions among many others. Some understand paganism as rooted in the pre-Christian European indigenous cultures. While there are vast differences of expression, common threads include the sacredness of the earth as the centering source of spirituality, practices of gratitude for the abundant gifts from the earth, and living in sustaining, reciprocal relationship with the earth.
Centering the earth in spirituality conveys important values and practices, which can teach us all to pay attention to the gifts of the earth that sustain us all.