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Earth Centered Spirituality- A New Age of Paganism!

   Sun, December 17, 2006 - 11:12 AM
There are many definitions for the word "pagan" which comes from
Indo-European roots meaning one who lives close to nature. In this
sense, even Jesus Christ was a pagan. It was written that Jesus went
into the wilderness often, and encouraged his followers to do
likewise. Jesus knew living close to nature gives a person a sense of
connectedness to the land and can provide insight to some of the
great mysteries of life.

The mysteries of life are timeless and many religions have been
built around the idea that these can be taught and "dogmatized."
Today, we see people from various religions (including Christian,
Jewish and Muslim) seeking a way to connect with nature and learn
her secrets by seeking the "old ways". The old ways are those that
date back to a pre-christian era and include traditions which have
been passed down over the centuries as part of the cultural
traditions of indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Indigenous peoples and their cultural traditions include every
continent and people. These cultural traditions have intrinsic
qualities that help those who learn them connect with the earth
upon which they live. In the United States, we are seeing a new
age of paganism.

People of all religious faiths are learning these "pagan" traditions
to help them reconnect with Mother Nature. These people are
being referred to as "pagans" or "neopagans", though they haven't
necessarily "given up" their religion to become pagan. Rather, they
are incorporating these earth-based traditions and concepts into
their belief systems to give a sense of wholeness and connectedness
to their lives.

Many of these earth-based traditions lend themselves to a
heightened sense of spirituality. The Sweat Lodge or the Vision
Quest are practiced by indigenous peoples throughout the world and
are examples of these practices.

By participating in these traditions we not only feel a sense of
connectedness with the earth, we also learn about the diversity of
those who share the planet. It is a beautiful experience to meet
and experience diversity with the understanding that it is natural
and can bring harmony to each of our lives. Human diversity can be
modeled after the diversity we see in nature. Nature abounds with
diversity and is strengthened by it. Appreciating human diversity
can strengthen us as well. Pagan traditions serve to emphasize our
relationships with nature and each other and stregthen our bonds.
Understanding this makes us more open and accepting of these
traditions and the differences we find in those who share this planet.

One group which promotes this form of paganism is the Earth Gatherings.

The Earth Gatherings is a group of diverse individuals who plan events
which celebrate the seasonal changes (and these are open to the public).
The group shares common goals for their events;
1. to connect with Mother Nature
2. to connect with each other
3. to promote indigenous cultures
4. to have fun

Two of these events,the Mother Earth Gathering (Summer Solstice)
and the Middle Earth Gathering (Autumnal Equinox), provide the
opportunity to for people to gather, appreciate diversity, and bring
peace and harmony through understanding into our lives. We share,
discuss, teach, lead, contemplate and work together to become
better stewards of the planet on which we live.

We do not expect people to give up who they are and what
they believe. We only ask that people come and share our
experience with respect for the traditions and beliefs of others.

This, we hope, will lead to world progress through understanding
and will nurture our relationships with each other and Mother Nature.
It will bring a heightened sense of belonging and connectedness to
each other and the land upon which we live. It may even help
people understand the timeless mysteries which many of our spiritual
teachers throughout time have tried to teach us. This new age of
paganism can provide tools to help us better understand and live in
our world.



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