In the hustle and grind of daily life, it’s too easy to lose sight of the things that are most important. We need ways of remembering what really matters. That’s the main point of spiritual work. It’s about remembering.

Practices

Here are some things that I do, to help me remember.

I meditate daily. This helps me remember who I am, what I am, the nature of consciousness.

I bake bread weekly. This helps me remember that I must provide for my family. It connects us to history, culture, agriculture, science, and the natural world.

I celebrate a cycle of observances (sabbats or holy days) known as the Wheel of the Year. This helps me remember the rhythms of Mother Earth.

I take an active role in my community. I do faculty development. I make art. I write. These are all spiritual practices for me.

Beliefs & Values

I believe all life on Earth evolved from one single-celled organism. I believe the atomic elements which make up our planet (and our bodies) were forged in the nuclear furnace of a star. I believe that the universe expanded from a single point about 13.8 billion years ago.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? My beliefs are, essentially, modern science. I want my practice, and my life, to be grounded in truth, as much as possible, and I believe science gives us a good shot at that. I also believe there are manifold mysteries we have yet to understand, which is consonant with my understanding of how science works. I value that mystery. It’s exciting.

I also value direct experience as a way of knowing the world. This should go without saying, but sadly it doesn’t. In my view, we’re all scientists, and life is a process of inquiry.

I believe humanity faces numerous ecological challenges, and that the continuance of our high-tech civilization is very much an open question. We need a revolution in our relations to the Earth, and insofar as religion represents an attempt to deal with ultimate issues, I feel this becomes a religious question. The broad environmental movement would be enriched by a religious dimension, and our future as a species may depend on embracing eco-justice as an aspect of religion.

I value the Earth as a system in which we exist and participate, upon which we depend for all the good things we enjoy in life, including life itself. I experience the Earth as sacred, or strive to. It’s a matter of remembering.

Community & Identity

Although I’m something of a spiritual rogue, since 2010 I have been an active participant (and now a co-organizer) in a local group called New Orleans Lamplight Circle, which is a Pagan forum for discussion, activism, education and ritual celebration.

Yes, I am one of those Earth-centered, nature-loving, tree-worshiping Pagans you may have heard about. But contemporary Paganism is a very broad category. It was only in 2020 that I found my spiritual home in the emergent tradition of Gaianism.

Here’s what that means to me:

I know, love, and participate in Gaia, Mother Earth, mother of us all. She is (no less than) a symbol for the co-evolutionary, interconnected ecosystems of the planet, a system of systems, and the only home we have ever known. Rocks are her bones; water, her blood; air, her breath. I am her child, her lover, her victim. She birthed me; she sustains me; she will consume me in time. I am a cell in her body. All of human history is but one chapter in her story. To experience her as sacred is crucial to a life well lived. To her I pledge my life and my loyalty. I am an Earth-worshiper. I am a Gaian.

For more about this path, see Gaianism.org. If any of this sounds interesting to you, please do get involved. In the New Orleans area, sign up for the weekly newsletter of the Crescent City Gaian Guild for notices of meetings and other opportunities.

Candles on Summer Solstice Altar

If you want to know more about my perspectives on religion and spirituality, you could read my column, A Pedagogy of Gaia or my book, Spinning in Place, or my other writings.