In Nature's Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth

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Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 2005 - Religion - 379 pages
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In Nature's Honor explores the eight solar holidays that mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Each chapter begins with a history of the holiday--the ways in which it has been celebrated from ancient to modern times, its relationship to other religious and secular celebrations and its cultural and mythological foundations. This history is followed by recommendations for specific activities to celebrate the season that individuals, families or small groups can enjoy. The chapters conclude with formal rituals suitable for use in larger faith communities. These include scripted narration, songs, dramatic enactments, litanies of seasonal blessings, readings from poetry and mythology and suggestions for ceremonial food.

In Nature's Honor reconnects the modern spiritual seeker with the earth-centered practices of our ancestors. This work explores the seasonal rituals that celebrate the earth and our connection to it--which is not just physical but profoundly spiritual.

FROM THE AUTHOR
From the Authorz
In writing this book, I discovered the most important theme running through the history of rituals related to the earth's seasons is renewal. The wheel turns and the old season gives way to the new, the old year to the new, the old life to the new. Each planting of seeds promises new possibilities. Each harvest brings sustenance for yet another year. Each fallow time regenerates the life of the soil. The sun deities retreat and return. The grain goddesses are lost and restored. The vegetation gods die and rise again. The cycle of life goes on and on, birth after death after birth. Perhaps what all the rituals celebrate is this ongoing-ness of life: the miraculous natural world that makes it possible and our abiding connection to it.

For the ancients, the interdependence was clear. When the people fasted on the eve of a new season's beginning, they purified not just their own bodies, but the land itself. The fires that encouraged the fecundity of the land also made its people fertile.

For us moderns distanced from the earth by technology, the interdependence is not as clear. And we are paying the price: in polluted air and water, in soil erosion, in deforestation, in global warming. How different the condition of the planet might be if we allowed ourselves to be renewed at each turning of the wheel of the year, if we took the time periodically to celebrate the beauty and bounty of nature.
 

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Contents

Winter Solstice and the New Year
1
Imbolc Purification and Candlemas
44
Spring Equinox
91
Beltane and May
132
Summer Solstice and Midsummer
166
Lughnasa and Lammas
214
Autumn Equinox
253
Samhain All Souls and Day of the Dead
297
Common Ground
344
Index
363
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