What is Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality?
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality (also called Creation Spirituality, Nature Spirituality, and Earth-Centered Spirituality) is a life-affirming spiritual focus based on Nature. It is an individualistic spiritual path, not a distinct organized religion. It is practiced by many who are members of mainstream religions, and by many who are not.
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality is an underlying element common to most religions. It is embodied in non-patriarchal aspects of indigenous religions throughout the world. It is an aspect of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Buddhism. It is found in the mysticism of Judaism (Kabbalah), Christianity (ecumenical mysticism/Wisdom Tradition), Islam (Sufism), and Baha'ism. And it is reflected in Unitarian Universalism.
Those on an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality path reject blind obedience to all human spiritual leadership and blind acceptance of any decreed dogma. Diversity of opinion is the norm. Each person explores his/her own path on the common journey--guided by compassion, reason, and experience.
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality reflects an emphatic love for, and desire to understand, Deity. It conceives Deity to be an unfathomable mystery: ultimately genderless, formless, and limitless. All definitions necessarily fall short. Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality emphasizes the ultimate oneness of Deity, but acknowledges a multitude of names, attributes, and forms of the primordial and eternal, omnipotent and omniscient, all-encompassing and universal Deity.
Many call Deity Yahweh, the Trinity, Allah, Brahman, or Adi-Buddha. Some call Deity Ch'i, the Great Spirit, or Mother Nature and Father Time. Others call Deity the Source, the Force, the Cosmos, the Absolute, or the Unity. Still others simply refer to Deity as the Mystery.
Many understand Deity in both masculine and feminine terms. (But "masculine" and "feminine" are not defined by patriarchal concepts: "masculine" is not aggressive and active; "feminine" is not receptive and passive.) Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality emphasizes that all God concepts are attributes of the One God, all Goddess concepts are attributes of the One Goddess, and together the One God and One Goddess make up God-Goddess (or Goddess-God)--the one genderless Deity.
God generally embodies the concepts of Being, Will, and Consciousness. He also represents the principle of duality: order and chaos. From Him come the gifts of free will, knowledge of self and others, knowledge of good and evil, and knowledge of life and death.
Goddess, on the other hand, generally embodies the concepts of Becoming, Power, and Conscience. She represents the principle of the eternal cycle. From Her come the gifts of peace, love, compassion, passion, inspiration, worldly knowledge, wisdom, conscience, truth, and justice.
Though never accepted as orthodox dogma, the feminine aspect of Deity is not alien to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. The Bible reflects that Deity was honored as female as well as male in ancient Israel and Judah, until Her shrines were destroyed and Her priests and priestesses killed at the behest of the patriarchal prophets. The Bible still honors the feminine aspect of Deity in the Wisdom Literature--Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, etc.
To the ancient Hebrews, the feminine aspect of Deity was Elath, which means Goddess; and Asherah, which means Tree of Life. In the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, She is represented in the feminine Sephiroth (divine attributes). She is Heh of Yahweh (YHVH or Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh), the Mother-Daughter of the Kabbalistic Tetragrammatan. She is Eloah (Goddess) who, in unity with Eloh (God), make up the genderless (gender-inclusive) Elohim. She is also Hokhma, which is the feminine Hebrew word meaning Wisdom; Shekhinah, the feminine Hebrew word meaning Powerful Presence; and Ruach, the feminine Hebrew word meaning Spirit.
Christians know Her as the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Holy Trinity. They also call Her Holy Wisdom (as well as Sophia and Sapientia, the feminine Greek and Latin words for Wisdom). She is also called the Paraclete, Grace, Justice, and Providence.
Sufis know Her as Allat Ruh Sakinah (Goddess Spirit Presence). Sufis consider Old Arabic Goddesses Al-Lat (Goddess), Al-'Uzza (Power), and Manat (Fate) -- the daughters of Old Arabic God Al-Lah -- to represent feminine attributes of the ultimately genderless (gender-inclusive) Deity.
Those with an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality focus celebrate Deity as creator, sustainer, and destroyer--providing the gifts of life, death, and rebirth. They also generally recognize Angels or Spirits to be emanations, guardians, guides, or messengers from Deity.
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality recognizes Deity to be transcendent (beyond all) as well as immanent (within all). There is nothing that is not Deity. Thus, all Nature is considered sacred--including all people and all animals. Consciousness of divine immanence fosters recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all aspects of Nature, and engenders awe and gratitude for the wondrousness of the Universe. And scientific theories about the Universe and life within it are thought of as tools to bring us closer to understanding both Deity and ourselves.
Those on an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality path acknowledge Deity to be beyond humanity's concept of good and evil, and acknowledge that divine gifts bring both benefit and harm. They recognize that all good and evil originate in the individual, but do not conceive of people as inherently evil. Each moment the individual chooses to do good or evil and is fully responsible for that choice. The good and evil one does will return to the doer as reward and punishment, but atonement is possible where there is regret and reparation made.
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality emphasizes a fundamental duty to respect all and harm none. Each person is valued as unique and as a child, temple, and part of Deity. Each person is our sister or brother. All people, however different they may seem, are to be treated as equals and with compassionate respect. Animals and other aspects of Nature are likewise valued.
To intentionally harm or disrespect the inherent rights of people (including one's self), animals, or other aspects of Nature is to do evil. Thus, sexism, racism, religious bigotry, homophobia, and other kinds of mistreatment, discrimination, or oppression are evil. Likewise, to needlessly or irreverently harm any animal or destroy its habitat is evil.
Those with an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality focus also recognize a duty to oppose injustice and aid those in need--particularly the sick, the disabled, the young, and the old. They also acknowledge a duty to practice conservation and to avoid and oppose environmental waste and abuses.
They seek peace within and without, and attempt to live in harmony with Nature. They strive to be self-reliant and empower themselves, as well as to challenge and better themselves. They desire to understand and love themselves. They want happiness for themselves--and for everyone.
Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality is family-centered, and recognizes that each person bears familial duties to children, spouse, and parents. Marriage is conceived to be a partnership of equals. Differences between men and women are celebrated; but the idea that differences in gender indicate superiority or inferiority of either gender is rejected, as is the idea of mandated gender-based familial or societal roles.
Those on an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality path follow the positive (non-harmful) aspects of their respective religious traditions. They also respect the positive beliefs and practices of all religious traditions, whether orthodox or unorthodox.
Those with an Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality focus recognize that one can have direct experience of Deity any time and any place. One can worship alone, as a family, or in a spiritual community. The cycle of life, the cycle of the seasons, and the lunar cycles are often celebrated. (The Sun and Moon, and their continuing cycles, are seen as symbols of Deity, and metaphors for human physical and psychological cycles.)
Worship of Deity may include prayer, meditation, chanting, or singing. Or dancing, drumming, ritual, or sacred drama. Indeed, celebrating the artist within, worship of Deity may be manifested in any kind of artistic expression. Worship of Deity may also include thanksgiving or penance offerings of candles, incense, or flowers. Or offerings of grain, fruit, or libations. Or it may include action offerings, such as giving food to the poor, demonstrating against social injustice, or picking up litter.
This calendar is intended to show how Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality is reflected in religious traditions of the past and the present. It is also intended to aid in reclaiming and exploring positive aspects of one's own religious traditions, letting go of harmful aspects, and learning about the traditions of others. May it inspire you to love Deity, Nature, and all humankind. Blessed be!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Permission to use and distribute this excerpt is granted for non-commercial purposes, provided the following information is included:
THE MYSTIC'S WHEEL OF THE YEAR
A Multifaith Calendar Reflecting Eco-Egalitarian Spirituality
© 2002-2012 Marija Miovski