Jackson, S. Wesley “Wes” (1936–)

      Further Reading


      Fundamental Jaina Views

      Jainism and Social Activism

      Contemporary Jaina Environmentalism

      Further Reading

    James Bay Cree and Hydro-Quebec

      Further Reading

    James, William (1842–1910)

      Further Reading

    Japanese Gardens

      Further Reading

    Japanese Love of Nature

      Further Reading

    Japanese Religions

      Further Reading

    Jataka Tales

      The Great Monkey Jataka (Mahakapijataka)

      Further Reading

    Jeffers, John Robinson (1887–1962)

      Further Reading

    Jesus and Empire

      Further Reading

    Jewish Environmentalism in North America


      Tu biSh’vat – “Jewish Earth Day”




      Other Trends

      The Land

      Challenges and Conclusions

      Further Reading

    Jewish Intertestamental Literature

      God’s Good Creation

      God Sustains Creation

      Types of Intertestamental Literature

      The Human Relationship with Nature

      Ecological Responsibility

      The Effect of Sin on Nature

      The Redemption of Nature

      Further Reading

    Jewish Law and Animal Experimentation

      Further Reading

    Jewish Law and Environmental Protection

      Bal tashchit (“Don’t destroy”)

      Tza’ar ba’alei chayyim (“The suffering of living things”)

      R’shut harabim (“Public domain”)

      Hilkhot sh’kheinim (“The laws of neighbors”)

      Further Reading

    Jewish Law and Genetic Engineering

      Jewish Legal Perspectives on Genetic Engineering of Animals and Plants

      Jewish Ethical Perspectives on Genetic Engineering

    Jubilee and Jubilee 2000

      Further Reading

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Judaism and Sustainability

      Further Reading

    Judaism and the Population Crisis

      Further Reading

    Judaism and Paganism

    Jung, Carl Gustav (1875–1961)

      Further Reading

    Jung, Carl – A Perspective

      Further Reading


    Kabbalah and Eco-theology

      Sefirotic Play


      The Earth or Cosmos as Divine Body and Image

      God’s Image in the World

      Rabbinic Roots and Modern Branches

      Dualism and Repairing the Cosmos


      Contemplation and Ritual


      Further Reading

    Kalash Culture (Northwestern Pakistan)

    Kaphirintiwa – The Place of Creation (Central Africa)

      Further Reading

    Kapu in Early Hawaiian Society

      Further Reading

    Kasama Spirit Sites (Northern Zambia)

      Further Reading

    Kawabata, Yasunari (1899–1972)

      Further Reading

    Keepers of Lake Eyre (South Australia)

    Kenya Green Belt Movement

      GBM Approach to Development

      Vision and Mission

      Core Projects


      Conservation of Local Indigenous Biodiversity: The Current Focus


      Further Reading

    Khoisan Religion

      Further Reading

    Kimbanguism (Central Africa)

      Further Reading

    Kline, David (1945–)

      Further Reading

    Klingenthal Symposia

      Further Reading

    Knowledge, Knowing and Nature

      Further Reading

    Kogi (Northern Colombia)

      Further Reading

    Koliada Viatichei

      Further Reading

    Korean Mountains

      Further Reading

    Krishnamurti, Jiddhu (1895–1986)

      Further Reading

    Kropotkin, Peter (1842–1921)

      Further Reading

    Krueger, Fred (1943–)

      Further Reading

    Krutch, Joseph Wood (1893–1970)

      Further Reading



      Further Reading

    Ladakh Buddhism

      Emptiness and Interdependence

    Ladakh Project

      Living Religion

      The Role of Monasteries

      Wisdom and Compassion


      Further Reading

    LaDuke, Winona (1959–)

      Further Reading

    Lake Pergusa (Sicily)

      Natural History

      Religious History

      Environmental History

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Lakota Sun Dance

      Further Reading

    Land Institute

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Law, Religion, and Native American Lands

      Further Reading

    Le Guin, Ursula K. (1929–)

      Further Reading

    Leary, Timothy (1920–1996)

      Further Reading

    Left Biocentrism

      Further Reading

    Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm (1646–1716)

      Further Reading

    Leopold, Aldo (1887–1949)

      Further Reading

    Levertov, Denise (1923–1997)

      Further Reading

    Lilburn, Tim (1950–)

      Further Reading

    Linnaeus, Carl (1707–1778)

      Further Reading

    Lopez, Barry (1945–)

      Further Reading

    Lost Worlds

      Further Reading

    Lovelock, James (1919–)

      Further Reading

    Luo (Kenya)

    Lyons, Oren (1930–)

      Further Reading


    Maasai (Tanzania)

      Further Reading

    Maathi, Wangari

    MacGillis, Sister Miriam

    Macy, Joanna (1929–)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Magic, Animism, and the Shaman’s Craft

      Animism and Perception

      Magic and Shamans

      The Contemporary Magician

      Further Reading

    Maimonides (1135–1204)

      Further Reading

    Makapansgat Cobble

      Further Reading

    Makewana the Rainmaker (Central Malawi)

    Mbiriwiri – The Sacred Rainmaking Drum

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Måldhåris of Gujaråt (India)

      Further Reading

    Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834)

      The Principle of Population, Nature, and Society

      Malthus and Religion


      Malthusianism and Environmentalism

      Further Reading

    Mammy Water (West Africa)

      The Academic Discourse on Mammy Water

      The Python

      Woman and the Color White

      Red and White

      Long Hair

      Women with “Wild,” Long Hair

      The Deities and Their Priesthood

      Mammy Water and the Monotheistic Religions

      Further Reading

    Mandailing People (Sumatra)

      Further Reading

    Manifest Destiny

      Further Reading

    A Manifesto to North American MiddleClass Christians


      The Individualistic Model

      The Ecological Model

      Christianity and the Ecological Model

      A Call to Action

    Manser, Bruno (1954–2000) and the Penan of Sarawak

      Further Reading

    Marshall, Robert (1901–1939)

      Further Reading

    Martial Arts

      Further Reading

    Mary in Latin America

      Further Reading

    Masons, Fraternal Order of

      Further Reading

    Masowe Wilderness Apostles

      Further Reading

    Matsuo Basho¯ (1644–1694)

      Further Reading

    Matthiessen, Peter (1927–)

      Further Reading

    Maya Religion (Central America)

      Further Reading

    Maya Spirituality (Guatemala Highlands)

      Further Reading

    Mayan Catholicism

      Folk Catholicism

      Catholic Action

      Further Reading

    Mayan Protestantism


    Mayan Spirituality and Conservation (Western Highlands, Guatemala)

      Further Reading

      The Significance of Sacred Sites

      Actual Status of Sacred Sites

      The Commission of Sacred Sites

      The Chicabal Volcano and Lagoon

      Management as Protected Area

      The Sacred Dimension is Taken into Account

      Further Reading

    McDonagh, Sean (1944–)

      Further Reading

    McFague, Sallie (1933–)

      Further Reading

    McKenna, Terence (1946–2000)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Melanesia – Eco-Missiological Issues

      Further Reading

    Melanesia – New Religious Movements

      Further Reading

    Melanesian Traditions

      Further Reading

    Memoir and Nature Writing

      Further Reading

    Men of the Trees (East Africa)

      Further Reading

    Men’s Movement

      Further Reading

    Merchant, Carolyn (1936–)

      Further Reading

    Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley) (1927–)

      Further Reading

    Mesoamerican Deities

      Further Reading

    Mesoamerican Sacrifice

      Further Reading

    Mesopotamia – Ancient to 2000 B.C.E.

      Further Reading

    Michell, John (1933–)

      Further Reading

    Middle Earth

      Further Reading

    Minakata, Kumagusu (1867–1941)

      Further Reading

    Miwok People

      Further Reading

    Mitchell, Elyne (1913–2002)

      Further Reading

    Miyazawa, Kenji (1896–1933)

      Further Reading

    Moltmann, Jürgen (1926–)

      Further Reading

    Mongolian Buddhism and Taimen Conservation

      Further Reading

    Mora, Pat (1942–)

      Further Reading

    Moro Movement (Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands)

      Further Reading

    Mother Earth

      Further Reading

    Mother Earth and the Earth People (Trinidad)

      Further Reading

    Mother Nature Imagery

      An Ancient Tradition of Imagery in Western Religion and Culture

      Mother Nature as Good, Bad, and Hurt

      Ecofeminist Critique

      Nature Spirituality

      Significance of Mother Nature Imagery

      Further Reading

    Motion Pictures

      Nature as an Instrument of God

      Nature as a Metaphysical Realm

      Nature as Religious Storyteller

      Further Reading


    Mount Nyiro and the Samburu (East Africa)

      Further Reading

    Mount Rushmore

      Further Reading


    Messner on Everest and Cosmos

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Mountains and Rivers Sutra by Japanese Soto Zen Master Dogen Kigen (1200–1253)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Mt. Hiei (Japan)

      Further Reading

    Muhammad, The Prophet of Islam (570–632)

      Further Reading

    Muir, John (1838–1914)

      Further Reading

    Müller, Friedrich Max (1823–1900)

      Further Reading

    Murie, Olaus J. (1889–1963)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Music and Eco-activism in America

      Further Reading

    Music and its Origins

      Further Reading

    Music of Resistance

      Further Reading

    Muti and African Healing

      Further Reading

    Muti Killings

    Mutwa, Credo (1921–)

      African Origins

      Culture and Nature

      Indigenous Knowledge

      Alien Encounters

      Folk Religion, Fake Religion

      Further Reading


    Naess, Arne (1912–)

      Further Reading

    Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement)

    Naropa University

    Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1933–)

      Further Reading

    National Council of Churches, Eco-Justice Working Group (USA)

    National Parks and Monuments (United States)

      Further Reading

    National Religious Partnership for the Environment

      Further Reading

    Native American Church

    Native American Languages (North America)

      Land Loss and Language Loss

      Endangered Languages, Endangered Species

      Further Reading

    Native American Spirituality

      Further Reading

    Natural History and Indigenous Worldviews

      Further Reading

    Natural History as Natural Religion

      Further Reading

    Natural Law and Natural Rights

      Further Reading

    Natural Law Party

      Further Reading

    Nature Fakers Controversy

      Further Reading

    Nature Religion

    Nature Religion in the United States

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Ndembu Religion (South-central Africa)

      Further Reading

    Neo-paganism and Ethnic Nationalism in Eastern Europe

      Further Reading

    Neo-Paganism in Ukraine

      Further Reading

    Neo-Wessex Archeology

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Network on Conservation and Religion

    New Age

      Further Reading

    New Religious Movements

      Further Reading

    New Zealand

      Further Reading

    Nhat Hanh, Thich (1926–)

      Further Reading

    Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844–1900)

      Further Reading

    Nile Perch

      Further Reading

    Noble Savage

      Further Reading

    Noble, David F. (1938–)

      Further Reading

    Noble Savage and the “Ecologically Noble” Savage

      Further Readings

    North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology [and the] North American Coalition on Religion and Ecology

      Further Reading

    Nursi, Said (1877–1960)

      Further Reading

    Nyau – A Closed Association (Central Africa)

      Further Reading



      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Olson, Sigurd F. (1899–1982)

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Open Land Movement

    Ortiz, Simon J. (1941–)

      Further Reading

    Oshmarii-Chimarii (Mari El Republic, Russia)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Ouspensky, Pyotr Demianovich (1878–1947)

      Further Reading

    Ovid’s Metamorphoses

      Selected Myths Synopses:

      Deucalion and the Flood

      Daphne and Apollo

      Io and Jove

      Europa and Jove

      Echo and Narcissus

      Apollo and Hyacinthus


      Cinyras and Myrrha

      Venus and Adonis

      Ovid’s Influence

      Further Reading


    Pacific Islands

      Further Reading de Coppet, Daniel and Andre Iteanu, eds. Cosmos and Society in Oceania. Oxford: Berg, 1995.

    Pagan Calendar

      Further Reading

    Pagan Environmental Ethics

      Further Reading

    Pagan Festivals in North America

      Further Reading

    Pagan Festivals – Contemporary

      Further Reading

    Pagan Music

      Further Reading

      Burning Times

    Paganism and Judaism

    Paganism and Technology

      Further Reading

    Paganism in Australia

      Further Reading

    Paganism – A Jewish Perspective

      The Image of Nature

      The Resurrection of the Spirits

      Nazism, Paganism and Environmentalism

      Justice Opposes Nature’s Cruelty

      Un-Jewish or Anti-Jewish?


      Further Reading

    Paganism – Contemporary

      Further Reading

    Paganism – Mari (Mari El Republic, Russia)

    Paiute Culture

      Further Reading d’Azevedo, Warren L., ed. Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 11, Great Basin. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1986.

    Paleolithic Art

      Further Reading

    Paleolithic Religions

      Further Reading

    Paleolithic Religions and the Future

      Interpretive frameworks

      Implications for the future

      Further Reading

    Palmer, Martin (1953–)

      Further Reading



      Further Reading

    Pantheist Association for Nature – PAN

      Further Reading

    Papua New Guinea

      Further Reading

    Parliament of the World’s Religions

      Further Reading

    Pauli, Wolfgang (1900–1958)

      Further Reading

    Payutto, Phra Dhammapitaka (1939–)

      Further Reading

    Peat, F. David (1938–)

      Further Reading

    Penan Hunter-gatherers of Borneo

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Perennial Philosophy

      The History of the Idea of a Perennial Philosophy

      Perennialism Today

      The Perennialist Diagnosis of Modernity and the Ecological Crisis

      Traditionalist Perennialist and Neo-Perennialist Prescriptions

      Further Reading



      Further Reading

    The Philippines

      Further Reading

    Philosophy of Nature

      Further Reading

    Pilgrimage to Sripada (Sri Lanka)

      Further Reading

    Pinchot, Gifford (1865–1946)

      Further Reading

    Planetary Dance

      Further Reading

    Plastic Medicine Men

      Further Reading

    Pogacˇnik, Marko (1944–)

      Further Reading

    Pollution Beliefs in South Africa

      Further Reading

    Polynesian Traditional Religions

      Further Reading

    Polynesia – New Religious Movements

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Population and Consumption – Contemporary Religious Responses

      Further Reading

    Population, Consumption, and Christian Ethics

      Further Reading

    Power Animals

      Further Reading

    Prairyerth Fellowship

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Prayer and the Contemplative Traditions

      Prayers of Address

      Contemplative Prayer

      Further Reading

    Prigogine, Ilya (1917–2003)

      Further Reading

    Primate Spirituality

    Prince Charles (1948–)

      Further Reading

    The Process

      Further Reading

    Process Philosophy

      Further Reading

    The Protestant Ethic

      Further Reading


      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Pure Brethren

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Pygmies (Mbuti foragers) and Bila Farmers of the Ituri Forest (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

      Current Anthropological Understandings

      Further Reading


    Quaker Writers in Tasmania (Australia)

      Further Reading


    The Qur’an

      Further Reading


    Radical Environmentalism

      Shades of Radical Environmentalism

      Binary Associations Typical of Radical Environmentalism

      Green Anarchism, Daoism, and Paganism



      Ecofeminism and Feminist Spirituality Movements

      Animal Rights and Animal Liberationism

      Breakout Box Begins: Rodney Coronado and the Animal Liberation Front

      Criticisms and Responses

      Further Reading

    Raëlian Religion

    Rainbow Family

      Further Reading

    Rainbow Serpent (North Wellesley Islands, Australia)

      Further Reading

    Rainforest Action Network

    Rainforest Information Centre

    Rainforests (Central and South American)

    Ralegan Siddhi

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Raphson, Joseph (1648–1715)

      Further Reading

    Rappaport, Roy A. (“Skip”) (1926–1997)

      Further Reading




      Ecological Ethic

      Rastafarian Activism

      Further Reading

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Raymo, Chet (1936–)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Reclus, Elisée (1830–1905)

      Further Reading

    Redwood Rabbis

    Regan, Tom


      Awakening to the Earth

      From the Rainforest Information Centre to Earth First!

      Consciousness Change and Re-Earthing Ritualizing

      Staying Connected

      Shiva’s Mountain

      Further Reading

    Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo (1912–1994) – and Ethnoecology in Colombia

      Life and Work

      Nature and Society among the Kogi and Desana


      Further Reading

    A Religio-Ecological Perspective on Religion and Nature

      Further Reading

    Religion and Ecology Group, American Academy of Religion

    Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation

      Further Reading

    The Religious Environmentalist Paradigm

      Everything is Interconnected

      Critical Voices

      Further Reading

    Religious Naturalism


      Religious Naturalism

      Religious Naturalist

      Further Reading

    Religious Society of Friends

    Religious Studies and Environmental Concern

      Religion and Ecology in the American Academy of Religion

      Religion and Ecology Beyond the Academy

      The “Religions of the World and Ecology” Conferences

      Breakout Box: Critical Perspectives on “Religions of the World and Ecology”

      Further Reading

      “Culminating Conferences” and Targeting the United Nations

      The Forum on Religion and Ecology

      Further Reading

    Restoration Ecology and Ritual

      Further Reading

    Restoring Eden


      Further Reading

    Rexroth, Kenneth (1905–1982)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading d’Aquili, Eugene G., Charles D. Laughlin, Jr. and John McManus. The Spectrum of Ritual. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

    Ritualizing and Anthropology

      Types of Rituals

      Ritual and Nature

      Further Reading

    River Ganga and the Clean Ganga Campaign

    Rock Art – Australian Aboriginal

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Batwa/Pygmies (Central Africa)

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Chewa (Central Africa)

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Hadzabe/Sandawe (Eastern Africa)

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Northern Sotho (Southern Africa)

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Sintu

      Further Reading

    Rock Art – Western United States

      Further Reading

    Rock Climbing

    Rolston III, Holmes (1932–)

      Further Reading

    Roman Britain

      Further Reading

    Roman Catholic Religious Orders

      The Benedictine Tradition

      The Franciscans

      The Dominicans

      The Jesuits


      Other Religious Orders

      Further Reading

    Roman Catholicism in Latin America

      Further Reading

    Roman Natural Religion

      Religion and Nature in Art

      Further Reading

    Roman Religion and Empire

      Further Reading

    Romanies (Gypsies)

      Romanies and Other Religions

      Further Reading

    Romanticism and Indigenous Peoples

      Further Reading

    Romanticism in European History

      Further Reading

    Romanticism in European Literature

      Further Reading

    Romanticism – American

      Further Reading

    Romanticism – Western toward Asian Religions

      Further Reading

    Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712–1778)

      Further Reading

    Rubber and Religion (Belgian Congo)

      Further Reading

    Rubber Tappers

      Further Reading

    Ruether, Rosemary Radford (1936–)

      Further Reading

    Rumî, Jalaluddin (1207–1273)

      God and Creation

      Love as a Dynamic Force


      Further Reading

    Russian Mystical Philosophy


      Gumilev’s Biocosmic Theory of Ethnogenesis

      Other Developments

      Further Reading

    Rustlers Valley (South Africa)


    Saami Culture

      Further Reading

    Sabbath-Jubilee Cycle

      Historical Context and Hebrew Biblical Background

      Christian Biblical & Theological Considerations

      Further Reading

    Sacramental Universe

      Further Reading

    The Sacred and the Modern World

      Further Reading

    Sacred Geography in Native North America

      Definitions of the Sacred

      Sacred Geography in Native North America: General Features


      Further Reading

    Sacred Groves of Africa

      Further Reading

    Sacred Mountains




      Deity or Abode of Deity

      Temple or Place of Worship

      Paradise or Garden

      Ancestors and the Dead



      Revelation, Transformation, Inspiration, and Renewal

      Further Reading

    Sacred Sites in England

      Further Reading

    Sacred Space/Place

      Further Reading

    Sagan, Carl (1934–1996)

      Background and Career

      Scientism and Religion


      Further Reading

    Saharan Pastoralists

      Further Reading


    Salvadoran Reflection on Religion, Rights, and Nature

    Samia Culture (Western Kenya)

      Further Reading

    San (Bushmen) Apocalyptic Rock Art

      Further Reading

    San (Bushmen) Religion

      Further Reading

    Sanders, Scott Russell (1945–)

      Further Reading

    Santa Fe, New Mexico

      Further Reading

    Santal Region (India)

      The Santal Sacred Grove

      Santal Religious Culture: Seasonal Festivals and Rites

      Santal Material Culture

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Saro-Wiwa, Kenule Beeson (1941–1995) and the Ogoni of Ogoni

      Further Reading

    Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement

      Further Reading


      Further Reading


      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph (1775– 1854)

      Further Reading

    School of Living

      Further Reading

    Schumacher, Ernest Friedrich (1911–1977)

      Further Reading

    Schweitzer, Albert (1875–1965)

      Further Reading


      1. The Physical World: Matter and Energy

      2. The Biological World: Life

      3. Nature and Culture: Human Life

      4. Worldviews: Causes, Meanings, Values

      Further Reading

    Science Fiction

      Alien Environments

      Alien Messiahs

      Allegories and Prophecies

      Further Reading

    Scientology – In Two Scholarly Perspectives

      Further Reading

      Further Reading

    Scopes Trial

      Further Reading


      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Scything and Erotic Fulfillment

      Further Reading

    Sea Goddesses and Female Water Spirits

      Europe – Sirens, Sprites, Melusine and Undine

      Africa: Mami Wata (Mammy Water)

      Brazil: Iemanjá

      Alaska: Sedna

      Indonesia: Ratu Kidul

      Further Reading

    Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

    Seattle (Sealth), Chief (ca. 1790–1866)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Seed, John (1945–)

      Further Reading

    Seeds in South Asia

      Further Reading

    Senoi (Malayan Penisula)

      Further Reading

    Serpents and Dragons

      Further Reading

    Sexuality and Ecospirituality

      Further Reading

    Sexuality and Green Consciousness

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Shamanism – and Art

      Use of Visual Patterns

      Cosmological designs and function

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Ecuador

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Neo

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Neo (Eastern Europe)

      Neo-shamanism in Eastern Europe

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Southern Peruvian Andes

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Traditional

      Further Reading

    Shamanism – Urban

      Further Reading

    Sheldrake, Rupert (1942–)

      Further Reading

    Shepard, Paul (1925–1996)

      Further Reading


    Shiva, Vandana (1952–)

      Further Reading

    Shomrei Adamah

    Shona Women and the Mutupo Principle

      Further Reading

    Shoshone (Western North America)

      Further Reading

    Siam’s Forest Monasteries

      Further Reading

    Sierra Club

      Further Reading

    Sierra Treks

      Further Reading


      Further Readings

    Silko, Leslie Marmon (1948–)

      Further Reading

    Sisters of Earth

    Singer, Peter

    Sittler, Joseph A., Jr. (1904–1987)

      Further Reading

    Sivaraksa, Sulak (1933–)

      Further Reading

    Sjöö, Monica (1938–)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Slavic Neo-Paganism

      Further Reading

    Slavic Religion

      Further Reading

    Smuts, Jan Christiaan (1870–1950)

      Further Reading

    Snakes and the Luo of Kenya

      Further Reading

    Snyder, Gary (1930–) – and the Invention of Bioregional Spirituality and Politics

      A New (Old?) Religion and Politics

      Buddhist-Animist Spirituality and Deep Ecology

      Anarchism, Bioregionalism, and Radical Environmentalism

      Criticisms and Rejoinders


      Further Reading

    Social Construction of Nature and Environmental Ethics

      Further Reading

    Social Ecology

      Further Reading

    Social Philosophy

    Social Science on Religion and Nature

      Religion: Good or Bad for the Environment?

      The Social Science Approach

      Religion and Environment

      Environment as Religion


      Table 1. Zero-Order and Partial Correlations

      Immanent Sacredness Environmental Self-Identification Environmental Issues Concern Proenvironmental Behavior

      Table 2. Linear Regression Results

      Environmental Self-Identification Environmental Issues Concern Proenvironmental Behavior

      Further Reading

    Soelle, Dorothee (1929–2003)

      Further Reading

    Sohappy, David (1925–1991) – and Salmon Spirituality

      Further Reading

    Soka Gakkai and the Earth Charter

      Further Reading

    Somé, Malidoma Patrice (1956–)

      Further Reading

    Southeast Asia

      Further Reading

    Space Exploration

      Further Reading

    Spinoza, Baruch (1632–1677)

      Further Reading

    Spirit and Nature

      Further Reading

    Spirit and Nature Walking Paths

    Spirit of the Sage Council

      Further Reading

    Spretnak, Charlene (1946–)

      Further Reading

    St. Katherine’s Monastery (Mt. Sinai, Egypt)

      Further Reading

    St. Francis of Assisi

    Starhawk (1951–)

      Further Reading

    Steiner, Rudolf (1861–1925) – and Anthroposophy

      Further Reading

    Stevens, Wallace (1879–1955)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Stone Circles

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Storytelling and Wonder

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Sun Worship

      Further Reading


      The Endless Energy of Surf “Stoke” [Hening]

      Surf and Ancient Peruvian Culture [Hening]

      Surfing in Hawai’i [Hening with Taylor]

      Surfing Spirituality and Experience [Taylor with Hening]

      The Surfrider Foundation and Groundswell Society [Hening and Taylor]

      Surfing into the Future? [Taylor]

      Further Reading

    Sustainability and the World Council of Churches

      Further Reading

    Swadhyaya (1920–)

      Further Reading

    Swedenborg, Emanuel (1688–1772)

      Further Reading

    Swimme, Brian (1950–)

      Further Reading



      Further Reading

    Tantrism in the West

      Further Reading

    Target Earth



      Further Reading

    Tawhid (Oneness of God)

      Further Reading

    Technological Immortality




      Further Reading

    Tehri Dam

      Further Reading

    Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1881–1955)

      Further Reading

    Thai Buddhist Monks

      Further Reading

    Theme Parks

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Theosophy and Ecofeminism

      Further Reading

    Thoreau, Henry David (1817–1862)

      Further Reading

    Tibet and Central Asia

      Further Reading

    Tikkun Olam – A Jewish Imperative

      Further Reading

    Toland, John (1670–1722)

      Further Reading

    Tolstoy Farm

      Further Reading

    Torres Strait Islanders (Australia)

      Further Reading

    Totemic Practices in Borgu (West Africa)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Traditional Ecological Knowledge

      Origins of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and its Development as a Field

      Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Science

      Significance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

      Further Reading

    Traditional Ecological Knowledge among Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

      Further Reading

    Transcendental Meditation

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Transpersonal Psychology

      Further Reading

    Tree Music

      Further Reading

    Trees – as Religious Architecture

      Further Reading

    Trees in Haitian Vodou

      Further Reading

    Trees (Northern and Middle Europe)

      Further Reading

    Trees – Sacred

      Further Reading

    The Trickster

      Further Reading

    Tucker, Mary Evelyn

    Tu B’Shvat

    Tukanoan Indians (Northwest Amazonia)

      The Yurupary Cult



      Further Reading


    U’wa Indians (Colombia)

      Further Reading

    UFOs and Extraterrestrials

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Umehara, Takeshi (1925–)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    United Nations

    United Nations’ “Earth Summits”

      Further Reading

    Universal Pantheist Society

      Further Reading

    Universe Story

    University of Creation Spirituality – See

    Urban Reinhabitation – CERES as Case Study (Australia)

      Further Reading

    Utopian Communities

      Sects and Cults

      Principles of Religious Communes

      Further Reading


    Valuing Nature

      Further Reading

    van der Post, Laurens (1906–1996)

      Further Reading

    Vegetarianism and Buddhism

      Further Reading

    Vegetarianism and Judaism

    Vegetarianism and Kabbalah

      Further Reading

    Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935)

      Further Reading

    Vegetarianism, Judaism, and God’s Intention

      Further Reading

    Venda Religion and the Land (Southern Africa)

      Further Reading

    Venda Witch Beliefs (Southern Africa)

      Further Reading

    Virgin of Guadalupe

      Further Reading

    Virtues and Ecology in World Religions


      Further Reading

      Virtue and Ecology in Christianity

      Virtue and Ecology in Judaism

      Virtue and Ecology in Islam

      Virtue and Ecology in Hinduism

      Virtue and Ecology in Buddhism

      Virtue and Ecology in Confucianism

      Concluding Observations

      Further Reading



      Further Reading


    Walker, Alice (1944–)

      Further Reading

    Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823–1913)

      Further Reading

    Washat Religion (Drummer-Dreamer Faith)

      Further Reading

    Waskow, Rabbi Arthur (1933–)

      Further Reading

    Water in Islam

      Further Reading

    Water in Zoroastrianism

    Water Spirits and Indigenous Ecological Management (South Africa)

      Further Reading

    Watkins, T.H. (1936–2000)

      Further Reading

    Watson, Paul (1950–) and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

      Further Reading

    Watsuji, Tetsuro (1889–1960)

      Further Reading

    Weather Snake

      Further Reading

    Wenger, Susan (1916–), Yoruba Art, and the Oshogbo Sacred Grove

      Further Reading

    West Africa

      Further Reading

    Western Esotericism

      Systematic Definition

      Esoteric “Disciplines” and Their Historical Development

      Further Reading

    Whales and Japanese Culture

      Further Reading

    Whales and Whaling

      Further Reading

    White, Lynn (1907–1987) – Thesis of

      Further Reading

    Whitehead, Alfred North (1861–1947)

      Further Reading

    Whitman, Walt (1819–1892)

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Wicca – Dianic

      Further Reading

    Wilber, Ken (1949–)

      Further Reading

    Wilderness Religion

      Further Reading

    Wilderness Rites of Passage

      Structure of a Typical Wilderness Passage Rite

      Elements of Wilderness Passage Rites

      Further Reading

    Wilderness Society

      Further Reading

    Williams, Delores S. (1937–)

      Further Reading

    Williams, Terry Tempest (1955–)

      Further Reading

    Wilson, Edward O. (1929–)

      Further Reading

    Winter, Paul (1939–)

      Further Reading

    Wise Use Movement

      Further Reading

    Women and Animals

      Further Reading

    Wonder toward Nature

      Further Reading

    World Conference of Indigenous Peoples (Kari Oca, Brazil)

      Indigenous Voices from Kari Oca

      Further Reading

    World Council of Churches and Ecumenical Thought

      Further Reading

    World Heritage Sites and Religion in Japan

      Japan’s World Heritage sites

      Shugendô Mountain Asceticism

      Mythmaking Potential of World Heritage

      Wakayama’s Environmental Crisis

      Enlisting the Help of Local Bureaucrats and the Media

      Spiritual Eco-tourism


      Further Readings

    World Pantheist Movement

      Further Reading

    World Wildlife Fund

    World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

      Further Reading

    Wright, Judith (1915–2000)

      Further Reading


    Xhosa-Speakers’ Traditional Concept of God

      Further Reading


    Yakama Nation

      Further Reading



      Further Reading

    Yoeme (Yaqui) Ritual

      Further Reading

    Yoga and Ecology

      Further Reading

    Yolngu Ceremonial Architecture (Australia)

      Further Reading

    Yolngu Waters of Being (Australia)

      Further Reading

    Yoruba Culture (West Africa)

      Further Reading

    Yuchi Culture and the Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project (Southeastern United States)

      Further Reading

    Yunnan Region (Southwest China and Montane Mainland Southeast Asia)

      Sacred Knowledge

      Sacred Space


      Further Reading


    Z Budapest (1940–)

      Further Reading

    Zen Buddhism

      Further Reading


      Further Reading

    Zimbabwe Spirit Mediums, Guerrillas, and Nature

      Further Reading

    Zimbabwe’s Matopo Hills

      Further Reading

    Zion Christian Church (South Africa)

      Further Reading


      Nature-related Doctrines

      Human Mythology Involving Nature

      Purity and Pollution in Relation to Nature

      Worship and Celebration Connected to Nature

      Further Reading

    Zulu (amaZulu) Ancestors and Ritual Exchange

      The Importance of Ritual Exchange in Zulu Sacrifice

      Obtaining Mystical Power through Commodity Exchange


      Further Reading

    Zulu (amaZulu) Culture, Plants, and Spirit Worlds (South Africa)

      Plant-use in Training and Healing Activities

      Plant-use and Witchcraft

      The Social Uses of Plants

      Plants, Wealth, and Power

      Plants and the Fluid Boundaries between Spiritual and Natural Worlds

      Further Reading

    Zulu (amaZulu) Smelting

      Further Reading

    Zulu (amaZulu) War Rituals

      Further Reading


Jackson, S. Wesley “Wes” (1936–)

Wes Jackson, a pioneer in modern methods of environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture, cofounded The Land Institute in 1976 and continues to serve as its president.

Jackson was born in 1936 on a farm in the Kansas River Valley near Topeka, Kansas. He earned a B.A. in biology from Kansas Wesleyan University in 1958, an M.A. in botany from University of Kansas in 1960, and a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University in 1967. He established and served as chair of one of the country’s first environmental studies programs at California State University at Sacramento. After returning to Kansas in 1976, Jackson co-founded The Land Institute with Dana Jackson.

Jackson’s work at the Land Institute has been devoted to research and teaching in the area of sustainable agriculture. His “eco-agrarianism” is founded upon the idea that agriculture should mimic the way that an undisturbed ecosystem operates in a given place. Thus, since the natural ecosystem of the Kansas prairie is a polyculture of grasses, mostly perennials, Jackson’s initial research at the Land Institute has worked at developing high seedyielding perennial grains and growing cultivated polycultures. His ideas have expanded to a vision of Natural Systems Agriculture (NSA) which encompasses not only agricultural techniques that are, in Jackson’s words, “native to this place,” but also a consideration of the economic and cultural feasibility (and necessity) of shifting to NSA.

While Jackson is highly critical of Western religious views – particularly Christian views – that uphold an instrumental view of nature as an object to be exploited for short-term human gain, he draws regularly upon biblical and theological imagery in advocating a biocentric worldview. For example, the title of an early collection of essays, Altars of Unhewn Stone (1987) recalls the Exodus 20:25 injunction that Moses build an altar of unhewn stone “for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou has polluted it” (in Jackson 1987: 9). In other words, the imposition of human technology upon nature is desecration. He likes to point out that the first commandment of the Bible is to “dress the land,” and he frequently speaks of his fascination with Mennonite and Amish farming practices as models (albeit flawed) of land stewardship. More recently in an essay, “The Changing Relationship Between the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life” (2000), Jackson finds in the biblical story of Eden, both a metaphor for human alienation from nature and a possible solution to that alienation, viz., to humbly subordinate the fruit of the tree of knowledge (technological/scientific manipulation of the world) to the tree of life (nature’s wisdom).

More positively, as an evolutionary biologist, Jackson has been attracted to the thinking of process theologians such as John B. Cobb, Jr., and has participated in conferences with and sponsored by Cobb and the Center for Process Studies. Like Cobb, Jackson promotes a biocentric ethics based upon a panentheistic view of the fundamental interrelatedness and inherent value of all entities.

Jackson’s work, writing, and speaking have gained international attention and earned numerous awards, including: a Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment (1990); MacArthur Foundation, MacArthur Fellow (1992); and the Right Livelihood Award (2000).

Paul Custodio Bube

Further Reading

Jackson, Wes. “The Changing Relationship Between the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.” The Land Report 68 (Fall 2000).

Jackson, Wes. Becoming Native to This Place. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

Jackson, Wes. Altars of Unhewn Stone: Science and the Earth. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1987.

Jackson, Wes, Wendell Berry and Bruce Colman, eds. Man and the Environment, New Roots for Agriculture, Meeting the Expectations of the Land. San Francisco: Friends of the Earth, 1980.

See also: Back to the Land Movements; Berry, Wendell; Cobb, John; Christianity (7f) – Process Theology; Land Institute; Process Philosophy.


Fundamental Jaina Views

The Jaina religion originated in India at least 2500 years ago. It is currently practiced by approximately four million persons in India and several hundred thousand others scattered across the globe. Jainism espouses a philosophy that emphasizes the pervasiveness of life forms and advocates a religious practice rooted in a nonviolent ethic. Jainism posits a living universe, uncreated, and eternal. In this sense, it can be deemed non-theistic. It holds a voluntarist stance, emphasizing that one’s individual, selfgenerated karma determines one’s present and future reality.

This worldview began with the teachings that informed the religious development of Mahavira, the great Jaina leader who lived during the same period as the Buddha, around the fourth century B.C.E. Mahavira himself is said to have arrived at his definition of life through direct observation:

Thoroughly knowing the Earth-bodies and waterbodies, and fire-bodies and wind-bodies, the lichens, seeds, and sprouts, he comprehended that they are, if narrowly inspected, imbued with life (Acaranga Sutra I:8.I.11–12).

The earliest known Jaina text, cited above, lists in detail different forms of life and advocates various techniques for their protection. The text states that “All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure, unchangeable, eternal law” (I.4.1). The Acaranga Sutra mentions how to avoid harm not only to animals, but also to plants, by not touching them, and to the bodies that dwell in the Earth, the water, the fire, and the air. For instance, Jaina monks and nuns must not stamp upon the Earth, or swim in water, or light or extinguish fires, or thrash their arms in the air.

In the later philosophical tradition, Umasvati’s Tatt- vartha Sutra (ca. 100) states that the universe is brimming with souls weighted by karmic material (dravya), many of which hold the potential for freeing themselves from all karmic residue and attaining spiritual liberation (kevala). These souls constantly change and take new shape due to the fettering presence of karma, described as sticky and colorful. By first accepting this view of reality and then carefully abiding by the five major vows (nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, sexual restraint, and nonpossession), the Jaina aspirant moves toward the ultimate goal of liberation. At the pinnacle of this achievement, all karmas disperse and the perfected one (siddha) dwells eternally in omniscient (sarvajna) solitude (kevala).

Umasvati explains how careful action will help ensure one’s rebirth in a higher realm. Violent action might thrust one down into one of seven infernal regions or hells; auspicious action might elevate one to one of the eight heavenly regions. The highest spiritual action can only be undertaken in the middle realm, Earth or Jambudvipa, by human beings. If effective, one’s meditation and careful observance of nonviolence might release one into a state of perfection, the siddha loka, where one dwells eternally experiencing energy, consciousness, and bliss, while retaining one’s sense of individuality, symbolically represented by ascent to the summit of one’s own mountain peak.

According to Umasvati’s Tattvartha Sutra, 8,400,000 different species of life forms exist (1994: 53). These beings are part of a beginningless round of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Each living being houses a life force or jiva that occupies and enlivens the host environment. When the body dies, the jiva seeks out a new site depending upon the proclivities of karma generated and accrued during the previous lifetime. Depending upon one’s actions, one can either ascend to a heavenly realm, take rebirth as a human or animal or elemental or microbial form, or descend into one of the hells, as a suffering human being or a particular animal, depending upon the offense committed.

The Jainas were careful to observe and describe the many life forms that they hoped to spare. They catalogued them according to the number of senses they possess. Earth bodies, plants, and microorganisims (nigodha) are said to possess the sense of touch. Earthworms and mollusks are said to add taste to touch. Crawling insects add the sense of smell. Moths, bees, and flies add sight. At the highest realm, Jainas place animals that can hear and those that can hear and think, including reptiles, birds, and mammals. Santi Suri, a Jaina writer of the eleventh century, summarizes this assessment of different life forms in the Jiva Vicara Prakaranam, a text of fifty verses. He makes clear that all forms of life, from clods of Earth to human beings, have “life, breath, bodily strength, and the sense of touch” (Suri 1950: 163). Hence, all must be protected.

Santi Suri’s Jiva Vicara Prakaranam lists types of life, frequency of appearance, and cites an approximate lifespan for each. For instance, he states that hardened rock can survive as a distinct life form for 22,000 years; “water-bodied souls” for 7000 years; wind bodies for 3000 years; trees for 10,000 years, and fire for three days and three nights (1950: 34). Each of these forms demonstrates four characteristics: life, breath, bodily strength, and the sense of touch (1950: 163). Earth, water, fire, air bodies, which comprise material objects such as wood or umbrellas or drops of water or flickers of flame or gusts of wind all contain jiva or individual bodies of life force. Moving from the elements to descriptions of plants, he lists various plant genres, with precise detail given for plants with fragrance, hard fruits, soft fruits, bulbous roots, thorns, smooth leaves, creepers, and so forth. Santi Suri includes passages that urge one to restrict the use of specific plants, with special attention paid to determining avoidance of doing harm to plants that harbor the potential for even greater production of life forms.

He then describes two-sensed beings, possessing touch and taste, which are said to live twelve years and include conches, cowries, gandolo worms, leeches, earthworms, timber worms, intestinal worms, red water insects, white wood ants, among others (1950: 15). Three-sensed beings live for 49 days and include centipedes, bedbugs, lice, black ants, white ants, crab-lice, and various other kinds of insects (1950: 16–17). These beings add the sense of smelling. Four-sensed beings, which add the sense of sight, live for six months (1950: 35) and include scorpions, cattle-bugs, drones, bees, locusts, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, moths, spiders, and grasshoppers (1950: 18). At the top of this continuum reside the five-sensed beings, which add the sense of hearing and can be grouped into those who are deemed “mindless” and those who are considered to be sentient. This last group includes the denizens of hell, gods, and humans. Various lifespans are cited for fivesensed beings, which Santi Suri describes in great detail: land-going, aquatic, sky-moving, and so forth. The detailed lists by Santi Suri and his later commentators present a comprehensive overview of life forms as seen through the prism of Jainism. As such, they have presented a view of life that presages later environmental theory, resonating in its attention to detail with such writers as Aldo Leopold.

Jainism and Social Activism

The Jaina worldview states that the material world itself contains feelings and that the Earth feels and responds in kind to human presence. Not only do animals possess cognitive faculties including memories and emotions, also the very world that surrounds us can feel our presence. From the water we drink, to the air we inhale, to the chair that supports us, to the light that illumines our studies, all these entities feel us through the sense of touch, though we might often take for granted their caress and support and sustenance. According to the Jaina tradition, humans, as living, sensate, thinking beings, have been given the special task and opportunity to cultivate increasingly rarefied states of awareness and ethical behavior to acknowledge that we live in a universe suffused with living, breathing, conscious beings that warrant our recognition and respect.

The Jainas were quite assertive in making their minority religious views known in areas of India where they gained ascendancy. Many of the southern kingdoms of Karnataka offered protection and patronage to the Jainas, who won several concessions regarding public laws designed to encourage vegetarianism and discourage hunting (Saletore). Jainism exerted profound influence throughout this region from 100 to 1300. In the northern kingdoms of Gujarat, they experienced a golden era when Kumarapala (r. 1143–75) converted to Jainism. He encouraged the extensive building of temples, and under the tutelage of the Jaina teacher Hemacandra (1089–1172) became a vegetarian (Cort 1998: 100). He enacted legislation that reflected Jaina religious precepts regarding the sanctity of all life. In the north central area of India, Jincandrasuri II (1541–1613), the fourth and last of the Dadagurus of the Svetamabara Khartar Gacch of Jaina monks, traveled to Lahore in 1591 where he greatly influ- enced the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. Akbar protected Jain places of pilgrimage and ordered noninterference with Jaina ceremonies. Most remarkably, he forbade the slaughter of animals for one week each year (Babb 1996: 124). The Jainas tirelessly campaigned against animal sacrifice, which is now illegal in most states of India. Mahatma Gandhi, the most well-known leader of modern India, was deeply influenced by the Jaina commitment to nonviolence and adapted it in his campaign for India’s political independence from Britain.

For various reasons, it might seem logical for Jainas to become active in India’s burgeoning environmental movement. The Jainas have been great protectors of life within India. They have inspired legislation to protect animals over the course of centuries, and have been influential in the modern government of India. Though the great struggles to ban ritual slaughter of animals and to free India from colonial rule have largely been won, Jainism is well equipped to face the new challenges faced by India as it continues to pursue a course of rapid industrialization.

Contemporary Jaina Environmentalism

The Jaina community has undertaken some steps toward including environmental issues within their religious discourse. L.M. Singhvi, a noted jurist and Member of Parliament, published a small book titled Jain Declaration on Nature in 1990. It quotes Mahavira’s warning that observant Jainas must be respectful of the elements and vegetation: “One who neglects or disregards the existence of Earth, air, fire, water, and vegetation disregards his own existence which is entwined with them” (in Singhvi 1990: 7). Singhvi himself writes that “Life is viewed as a gift of togetherness, accommodation, and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents” (Singhvi 1990: 7). Stating that there are countless souls constantly changing and interchanging life forms, he goes on to note that “Even metals and stones . . . should not be dealt with recklessly” (1990: 11).

Several Jaina organizations have taken up the cause of environmentalism, regarding it as a logical extension of their personal observance of nonviolence (ahimsa). The Shrimad Rajchandra Kendra near Ahmedabad announced in 1990 plans to operate a news service to “supply information on different Jain environmental projects and on ecology issues generally to the 450 Jain newsletters and magazines in India as well as abroad” (Ahimsa Quarterly Magazine 1991: 5). Reforestation projects have been underway at various Jaina pilgrimage sites, such as Palitana in Gujarat, Ellora in Maharashtra, and Sametshirkhar and Pavapuri in Bihar. At Jain Vishva Bharati in Rajasthan, a fully accredited university, the Ahimsa Department offers a specialization in ecology. In December 1995, the department co-sponsored a conference entitled “Living in Harmony with Nature: Survival into the Third Millenium.”

Topics included the environmental crisis, ecological degradation, and unrestrained consumerism. A conference held at Harvard University in 1998 examined the topic of Jainism and ecology, and included representatives and scholars of various sects of Jainism. These activities reflect some ways in which the tradition has been newly interpreted to reflect ecological concerns.

At first glance, the Jaina tradition might seem to be inherently ecologically friendly. It emphasizes nonviolence. It values all forms of life in their immense diversity, not merely in the abstract but in minute detail. It requires its adherents to engage only in certain types of livelihood, presumably based on the principle of ahimsa. However, if we look at both the ultimate intention of the Jaina faith as well as the actual consequences of some Jaina businesses, we might detect a need for in-depth critical analysis and reflection. First it must be noted that the observance of ahimsa must be regarded as ancillary to the goal of final liberation or kevala. Although the resultant lifestyle for monks and nuns resembles or approximates an environmentally friendly ideal, its pursuit focuses on personal, spiritual advancement. In a sense, the holistic vision of the interrelatedness of life is no more than an eco-friendly by-product.

In terms of the lifestyle of the Jaina lay-person, certain practices such as vegetarianism, periodic fasting, and eschewal of militarism might also be seen as eco-friendly. However, some professions adopted by the Jainas due to their religious commitment to harm only one-sensed beings might be environmentally disastrous, such as stripmining for granite or marble, unless habitat restoration accompanies the mining process. Likewise, how many Jaina industries contribute to air pollution or forest destruction or result in water pollution? The development of a Jaina ecological business ethic would require extensive reflection and restructuring, a tradition well known within the Jaina community. Nonetheless, the Jaina community, despite its relatively small numbers, is extremely influential in the world of Indian business, law, and politics. If Jainas speak with a united voice on environmental issues, their impact can be quite profound. Due to their perception of the “livingness” of the world, Jainas hold an affinity for the ideals of the environmental movement. The Jaina observance of nonviolence, as practiced by monks, nuns, and lay-people, has provided a model for a way of life that respects all living beings, including ecosystems. The Jainas are well suited to reconsider their traditions in an ecological light, particularly because of their successful advocacy against meateating and animals sacrifice, as well as their success at developing businesses that avoid overt violence. Many Jainas identify themselves as environmentalists. Through a rethinking of contemporary industrial practices, and concerted advocacy of environmental awareness through religious teachings and the secular media, the Jaina tradition might help bolster the environmental movement not only in India but also throughout the world.

Christopher Key Chapple

Further Reading

Ahimsa Quarterly Magazine 1 (1991).

Babb, Lawrence. Absent Lord: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Chapple, Christopher Key, ed. Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Chapple, Christopher Key, ed. “The Living Cosmos of Jainism: A Traditional Science Grounded in Environmental Ethics.” Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 130:4 (Fall 2001), 207–24.

Chapple, Christopher Key, ed. “Toward an Indigenous Indian Environmentalism.” In Lance Nelson, ed. Puri- fying the Earthly Body of God: Religion and Ecology in Hindu India. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Chapple, Christopher Key. Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Cort, John E. “Who is a King? Jain Narratives of Kingship in Medieval Western India.” In John E. Cort, ed. Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Jacobi, Hermann, tr. Jaina Sutras: Part I, The Akaranga Sutra, The Kalpa Sutra. New York: Dover, 1968 (1st edn, 1884).

Saletore, Bhasker Anand. Medieval Jainism with Special Reference to the Vijayangara Empire. Bombay: Karnatak Publishing House, 1938.

Singhvi, L.M. The Jain Declaration on Nature. London: The Jain Sacred Literature Trust, 1990.

Suri, Santi. Jiva Vicara Prakaranam along with Pathaka Ratnakara’s Commentary. Muni Ratna-Prabha Vijaya, ed.; Jayant P. Thaker, tr. Madras: Jain Mission Society, 1950.

Umasvati. That Which Is (Tattvartha Sutra): A Classic Jain Manual for Understanding the True Nature of Reality. Nathmal Tatia, tr. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994. See also: Ahimsa; Gandhi, Mohandas; Goshalas (Home for Aged Cattle); India; Jataka Tales; Religious Environ- mentalist Paradigm.

James Bay Cree and Hydro-Quebec

For the James Bay Cree people of northern Quebec province in Canada, the watershed event was the decision in

1971 to develop the hydro-electric potential of their rivers. Facing one of the largest energy development projects ever built, the Cree people and their Inuit allies in the Hudson Bay area demanded recognition of their Aboriginal rights and went to court to assert their authority over the land.

The James Bay hydro project was a watershed event also for the evolution of Aboriginal land claims in Canada, and for the critique of large development projects. A powerful coalition of environmentalists and Aboriginal leaders, assisted by a well-publicized and prolonged court case in 1972–1973, was successful in initiating public discussion on some of the themes important in this volume: the role of humans in the environment, and the idea that humans can be a part of nature. The events triggered public discussion on the notion of a traditional ecology in which humans and nature are in a symbiotic relationship, with mutual obligations leading to “respect,” a central idea in the relations of many Amerindian groups with nature.

The Cree and the Inuit found not only a receptive public, but also a court sympathetic to their cause. They were successful in obtaining an injunction to stop development in 1973. However, this decision was overturned only a few weeks later by a higher court, forcing the Cree and Inuit to the negotiating table for the surrender of their Aboriginal claims and to open the way for hydro development. In 1975, the Cree and Inuit signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first of the modern comprehensive land claims agreements in Canada. Under the Agreement, the Cree and Inuit obtained ownership rights to areas around their communities, exclusive hunting and fishing rights over a large territory, regional self-government powers, cash compensation and other privileges, in exchange for allowing Hydro-Quebec, the power company, to proceed with development.

The 1975 Agreement, signed under duress, left the Cree leadership with strong and ambiguous feelings about development. In the 1980s, the Cree allowed a series of alterations of the original hydro development plans. But in 1993, the Cree successfully fought and blocked a multibillion dollar extension of the James Bay hydro project, known as the James Bay II or Great Whale development after the name of the Grande Baleine (Great Whale) River which is to the north of the James Bay I development.

Subsequently, in 2001, the Cree leadership signed an interim deal for the development of the Rupert and Eastmain rivers to the south of the James Bay I development. The action triggered a bitter fight that pitted community leaders against one another, with the chief of one of the directly affected communities, who was initially a key supporter, declaring, “I have little enthusiasm for going down in history as the Waskaganish chief who signed the death warrant for the Rupert River” (Montreal Gazette,

10 December 2001). As long as undeveloped hydroelectric potential exists in the region, these battles are likely to continue. But the important questions for our volume are, who are these Cree people who talk about rivers as if they were alive, and what is their belief system really like?

The eastern James Bay Cree are part of the largest Aboriginal group in Canada. Their lands cover a good part of the boreal forest zone that stretches across Canada, and part of the northern plains. The Cree groups of the boreal forest were traditionally hunters, and many of them still obtain a large part of their protein diet from the land. Their hunting ethics and belief systems are rich, and have been documented extensively by anthropologists such as Harvey Feit, Richard Preston, Adrian Tanner and Robert Brightman.

The central belief of the James Bay Cree and some other groups of the boreal forest is that animals make themselves available to hunters who treat them properly. Those who break rules of proper conduct are punished. This punishment usually takes the form of hunting failure, and it can be individual or communal. For example, the Chisasibi Cree believe that the disappearance of caribou from their area for some seventy years is related to a disastrously large and bloody hunt that took place in 1914 when the repeating rifle first became available (Berkes 1999).

The rules of proper conduct are expressed as practices to follow, such as practices of showing respect for the animal. For example, the bones of important animals have to be disposed of in certain ways, as in placing of beaver skulls on trees. Tanner lists the many ways in which the Mistassini Cree show respect for black bears, from hunter’s initial approach with an attitude of humility, to offerings made to the dead animal, to the butchering, consumption of the meat, and the disposal of the remains. Some of the rules are expressed as practices and attitudes to avoid. For example, it is widely believed that fish will avoid a person who boasts about his/her skills and previous successes. How do they know? Because the land is alive and animals are sentient beings.

Religion may be broadly defined as encompassing issues regarding the meaning of human life and engagement with transcendent powers, such as forces that impinge on people’s lives. Most Cree are Christians, but their “religion” in the above sense indicates a belief system that differs considerably from the mainstream Western society. The Cree believe in a nature that pulsates with life and meaning. Their ecology is spiritual, rather than impersonal and mechanistic. Landscapes “know” people, rather than people knowing the land. Animals control the hunt and can retaliate by “returning the discourtesy.” Humans, animals and other beings in the environment share the same Creator; hence, just as one respects other persons, one respects animals. Social relations such as mutual obligations and reciprocity are extended to nonhuman nature. Respect and humility are important, and

Cree culture is rich in rituals that symbolize respect and remind the hunter of his/her ethical obligations.

Fikret Berkes

Further Reading

Berkes, Fikret. Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Management. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis, 1999.

Brightman, Robert A. Grateful Prey: Rock Cree Human– Animal Relationships. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Preston, Richard J. Cree Narrative: Expressing the Personal Meanings of Events. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 1975. (Revised edition, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002.)

Richardson, Boyce. Strangers Devour the Land. Toronto: Macmillan, 1975. Reprinted: Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green, 1991.

Tanner, Adrian. Bringing Home Animals: Religious Ideology and Mode of Production of the Mistassini Cree Hunter. London: Hurst, 1979.

See also: Aboriginal Environmental Groups in Canada; Harmony in Native North America; Indigenous Activism and Environmentalism in Latin America; Indigenous Environmental Network; Inuit; Traditional Ecological Knowledge; Traditional Ecological Knowledge among Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

James, William (1842–1910)

William James, the oldest of five children born to Henry James, Sr., and Mary James, was immersed from his youth in the family’s romantic hopes to find spiritual significance in the natural world. The elder James read the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg’s works extensively, lectured widely on his idealistic solutions to contemporary religious and social issues, and firmly believed that the material world was a mere shadow compared to the reality of spiritual forces that would bring about a more righteous and democratic society. In his young adulthood, William resisted these spiritual insights, especially when he began his own career in the wake of Darwinism by studying chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and medicine at Harvard in the 1860s.

The young James did not remain satisfied for long with the scientific and secular insights that surrounded him during his first career steps in the New Psychology. A traumatic personal crisis signaled his return to the issues his father had taught because he felt repulsed by the notion that material nature possessed only mundane physical reality. Although he worked in mainstream professions, as a teacher at Harvard throughout his career and as a respected and popular psychologist, philosopher, and social commentator, his own commitments remained on the margins because of his drive to understand spiritual meanings in nature.

James’ commitments remained fairly muted in his first major publications. He wrote his influential Principles of Psychology (1890) “from a natural science point of view,” with comprehensive references to the experimental psychology of Europe and America and with a working assumption that reflected the scientific orthodoxy that mental life could be understood with physical explanations. However, his guiding motivation was to find the relation between brain and mind, between things material and impulses immaterial.

Those interests grew even as the psychology profession took an increasingly laboratory orientation in the 1890s. James quickly turned his attention to philosophy and to spiritual, psychical, and other exceptional experiences of human consciousness. He expressed his commitment to religious belief against the withering criticism of agnostics in his declaration of the importance of a “Will to Believe” (1895) in ideas that satisfy our need for commitment even when they cannot be empirically verified. He wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) to document the extraordinary depths of personal religion and to showcase the profound impact of belief on human saintliness and mystical insight. In the essays collected as Radical Empiricism (1912), James proposed to show the intimate relation between subjective ideas and empirical objects. In A Pluralistic Universe (1909), he argued for looking at the world in terms of the multiplicity of its empirical parts, without losing the sense of purpose derived from religious worldviews. James is perhaps most famous for his theory of Pragmatism (1907), which proposed that usefulness and practical action should be the way to measure the worth of ideas, and he was particularly interested in showing how pragmatism could endorse religion’s ability to motivate and sustain.

In his work, William James did not dismiss science, but he proposed that its insights, along with those of religion, were all useful as paths for increasing our awareness of human possibilities embedded in our physical frames. With these commitments, he anticipated twentiethcentury humanistic psychology and the flowering of personal spiritualities that have flourished across denominational lines in the last few generations. His influence is perhaps best expressed with the image he used in The Varieties: our normal waking consciousness is only a doorway to some other cosmic consciousness, of which we occasionally get glimpses, especially with the help of religious geniuses. And so, by the end of his life, James found a way to express his father’s commitments in more secular terms; like a psychologist, he investigated the human mind in its relation to the brain, but with his spiritualist drive, he proposed that those physical, psychological facts are just a first step in comprehending profound spiritual meaning.

Paul Jerome Croce

Further Reading

Barnard, G. William. Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

Croce, Paul Jerome. Science and Religion in the Era of William James, Volume One: Eclipse of Certainty, 1820–1880. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Gerald Myers. William James: His Life and Thought. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.

Ralph Barton Perry. The Thought and Character of William James. 2 vols. Boston: Little Brown, 1935.

Simon, Linda. Genuine Reality: A Life of William James.

New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998.

Taylor, Eugene. William James on Exceptional Mental States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

See also: Ecopsychology; Perennial Philosophy; Swedenborg, Emanuel; Transpersonal Psychology.

Japanese Gardens

Garden design has been a spiritual art form in Japan for a thousand years, one in which the Japanese have explored various conceptions of nature. Influenced by both Buddhism and Shinto, the aesthetic complexity of Japanese gardens has been seen as a sign of the Japanese reverence for nature. However, the relationship between Japanese gardens and what we call “nature” is complex and raises questions about the specific quality of love of nature in the Japanese tradition.

There are various types of artistic Japanese gardens. The first type we can call “symbolic.” Starting in the Heian Period (794–1186), gardens were constructed as representations of various types of spiritual realms. In some cases they suggested the paradise of Pure Land Buddhism. In other cases, influenced by Shingon Buddhism, they were topographic mandalas, cosmic diagrams of ultimate reality. Still other gardens suggested the fabled Daoist islands of immortals. In all cases the assumption is that there can be a direct correlation between the natural world and the divine, and that conscious human design can in a sense make the sacred present in the concrete world of trees and ponds.

In the medieval period (1186–1603), Zen Buddhism became the primary influence in Japanese gardens. A new form of garden developed, which we can call “microcosmic.” These gardens represent life-like scenes of nature in a miniature way. Perhaps the finest example is at the temple Daisen-in in Kyoto, where a composition of rocks about three-feet high suggests a huge mountain and a waterfall, with a narrow bed of gravel suggesting a river and isolated rocks serving as islands. There is also a large rock clearly signifying a boat. The scene presented is not one of some paradise distinct from this world but rather a realistic setting in the mountains. But religious reality is not absent because, as Buddhism’s Heart Sutra says, “form is emptiness and emptiness is form”: this very world is ultimate reality. The gardens are not merely clever miniatures but religious microcosms. They cultivate in the viewer a state of mind liberated from conventional assumptions about space and time, large and small, near and far.

Another garden form is the “dry landscape” (karesan- sui) or rock and gravel garden. The most famous example is at the Zen temple of Ryo¯ an-ji. This garden is about the size of a singles tennis court and consists of a flat expanse of gravel broken only by five earthen mounds that hold a total of fifteen rocks and some moss. There are no trees or flowering plants. Some observers have said the mounds represent islands in a sea, mountain peaks breaking through cloud cover, or even a mother tiger leading her cubs across a river. But this type of garden is not realistic or representational. Because of that we might be tempted to call such gardens “abstract,” but they are not abstractions from the concrete world of nature but rather elemental distillations of it. The basic components of Japanese garden design – rocks, plants, and water (in the form of flat gravel) – are concentrated into their most elemental form. As with the microcosmic gardens, the rock garden is meant to be viewed from a veranda of the temple bordering one of its sides. Meditation on the rocks and gravel is considered particularly conducive to the stillness and open awareness prized in Zen.

Late in the medieval period another form of garden developed in association with the Way of Tea (chado¯ ). The tea ceremony (cha-no-yu) developed out of the drinking of tea in Zen monasteries, a custom brought from China that helped meditating monks remain awake. Eventually, a highly ritualized form of serving tea to a few guests developed. The ceremony became a kind of choreographed dance of enlightenment. Each person brings to the occasion an absolute focus on the present based on a deep tranquility and a recognition of the unlimited value of every moment. The tea house is simple and natural, exemplifying the aesthetic ideal of wabi (aesthetic rusticity and tranquil appreciation of the simple and natural). The approach to the tea house and the ceremony needed to cultivate a spiritual state of mind, and tea garden (roji) developed in order to accomplish this. The garden does not function to display conventional beauty, but to nurture a meditative state of mind: it is spiritually therapeutic. It works by having the viewer walk through a garden that is highly subdued, usually only rocks, moss, and some evergreen plants organized in a subtly aesthetic way. Once the participant enters the tea house, the door is closed and there is no view of the garden, for now he is to focus all attention and value on the tea ceremony.

In the seventeenth century the “stroll garden” developed. As in the tea garden, the viewer walks through the landscape, but these are larger gardens in which spring blossoms and fall colors provide a rich but still subdued beauty. The most exquisite example is Katsura villa, just outside of Kyoto. Walking through the garden, the viewer encounters a variety of aesthetically composed scenes in a subtle rhythm of stimulation and quietness, turns and pauses. The garden exhibits the two major aspects of a Buddhist worldview: change and interrelationship. Subtle framing techniques emphasize the interrelatedness of rock, water, tree, and building, while stone steps and bridges tie together divisions in garden areas. Strolling through Katsura is like walking in a holy cathedral, a sculpture park, a landscape painting by Monet, and Walden Pond – all at once.

These various types of Japanese gardens demonstrate the beauty and religious significance of nature. But from a Western perspective we can ask whether they are “natural.” Japanese gardens are minutely maintained, with pine trees trained to appear like old trees growing on a mountain cliff (including tying branches to a pole and pulling them down so they are horizontal, as well as plucking older needles so the tree is very open). This approach to design we can call “formal naturalism.” It is formal because the design and the maintenance of the garden reflect a preconceived ideal of what a garden should look like – very little is left to grow on its own. But it is naturalism because the design is based on naturalistic principles. Rather than the stiff symmetry of formal French gardens, Japanese stroll gardens display a more dynamic asymmetrical balance, and they are intended to reflect the essential nature of the objects.

Western observers have tended to distinguish “nature” from that which has been subject to human control, and in this sense Japanese gardens are certainly not natural. But we need to recognize the assumptions at work in Japanese aesthetics. In East Asian religion, the ideal is to act according to our nature, but our nature is obscured and distorted by our desires and delusions. Left by themselves, humans do not act according to their nature. It takes rigorous spiritual training to uncover our true nature. A similar idea is at work in garden design. The gardener training the pine tree is not distorting the pine but helping it manifest its true nature, which is exemplified by trees subjected to centuries of harsh conditions on a mountain cliff. In addition, nature and culture are not assumed to be separate spheres. Humans are part of nature, and culture is interrelated with nature’s processes. The question is whether individual behavior and particular cultural activities conform to nature’s ways or to human self- centeredness. Thus the “idealized” nature in Japanese gardens can be considered to be the true nature of nature.

There is, however, a significant limitation in Japanese garden aesthetics. As John Elder has pointed out, Japanese gardens tend to put high spiritual value on specific, often walled-in spaces. This concentration of value runs the risk of devaluing all that is outside the confines of a garden. The technique of “borrowed scenery” (shakkei) integrates the garden with its surrounding landscape (for example, by using trees in the garden to frame a distant mountain peak). In addition, Buddhism proclaims that all places interpenetrate and all of the phenomenal world is the Absolute. But for most viewers, the garden remains a special place of beauty and value, and the mundane world they return to when they leave the garden is left neither to our sense of natural wildness nor cultivated according to formal naturalism. All too often, it is subject to human exploitation and degradation.

David Landis Barnhill

Further Reading

Berthier, François and Graham Parkes. Reading Zen in the Rocks: The Japanese Dry Landscape Garden. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Elder, John. “Wildness and Walls.” In Following the Brush: An American Encounter with Classical Japanese Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.

Holburn, Mark. Ocean in the Sand – Japan: From Landscape to Garden. Boston: Shambhala, 1978.

Ito¯ , Teiji. Space and Illusion in the Japanese Garden. New York: Weatherhill, 1973.

Kuck, Lorain. The World of the Japanese Garden: From Chinese Origins to Modern Landscape Art. New York: Weatherhill, 1968.

See also: Aesthetics and Nature in China and Japan; Buddhism; Buddhism – East Asia; Eden and Other Gardens; The Fall; Gardens in Islam; Gardening and Nature Spirituality; Japanese Love of Nature; Japanese Religions; Zen Buddhism.

Japanese Love of Nature

Renowned Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki claimed in Zen and Japanese Culture that Japanese demonstrate a unique “love of nature,” especially as conveyed through such arts as painting, landscape gardening, the cultivation of bonsai, and haiku poetry. Japanese religious traditions have shaped this “love” of nature, even though it is not necessarily as unique or thoroughgoing as Suzuki’s idealized representation made it out to be.

In the mythology set forth in the Kojiki (712) and

Nihon Shoki (720), heavenly kami create the Japanese archipelago, as well as basic forces and components of nature, many of which are kami in their own right. From early in their history, Japanese have regarded particularly awe-inspiring parts of their natural surroundings as kami. They have demarcated distinctive trees, rocks, waterfalls, and even entire mountains as kami or the dwelling places of kami. Through Shinto practices Japanese align themselves with benevolent kami (or placate malevolent kami), thereby harmonizing themselves with the life-sustaining energies that course through nature. Further, Shinto rites of purification serve to maintain or, if need be, restore harmony with those energies.

Buddhism has further influenced Japanese attitudes toward nature. Doctrines of rebirth have subverted rigid boundaries between humans and other parts of nature, as have doctrines of “Buddha-nature” (bussho¯ ) and “original enlightenment” (hongaku) as a kind of innate buddhahood in not only humans but also other animals, plants, and even, to some exegetes, inanimate parts of nature. Cosmological schemes deriving from Kegon (Ch. Huayan) Buddhism have situated humans in a universe characterized by total interdependence. Zen Buddhists often claim that seated meditation (zazen) both reduces the epistemological distance between the practitioner and nature (hence the rhetoric of “becoming one” with nature or things therein) and eradicates entanglement in rational analysis and volitional effort, thereby fostering “naturalness” in the sense of spontaneity. In fact, the closest Japanese equivalent to “nature,” shizen, literally meaning “self-so,” or “in the manner of itself,” connotes spontaneity in the sense of things expressing themselves in accordance with their natures when not affected by human intervention.

Some writers have argued that these dimensions of Japanese religions generate both a love of nature and a firm basis for environmentalism. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the Japanese “love of nature” has distinct limitations.

First, the nature loved from the Japanese religioaesthetic perspective is nature simplified or reduced to its essence. It is a distilled, refined, and miniaturized nature, evident in minimalist rock gardens, carefully pruned bonsai trees, the suggestive brush strokes in landscape paintings, and epigrammatic haiku poetry. This is stylized, not wild, nature. In fact, Japanese have usually gazed at wild nature – with all of its mysterious and often destructive powers – from a distance, as something to be avoided, pacified, or tamed.

Second, Japanese generally regard only awe-inspiring features of nature as sacred (in the sense of being kami), not nature more broadly, and hence rigorous protection of nature in Japan has not extended much beyond those special features.

Third, as an adverbial expression indicating a certain mode of being – whether of natural entities or human action – shizen exists in any biosphere, pristine or polluted, sustained or destroyed.

Christopher Ives

Further Reading

Asquith, Pamela J. and Arne Kalland, eds. Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. London: Curzon Press, 1997.

Bruun, Ole and Arne Kalland, eds. Asian Perspectives of Nature: A Critical Approach. London: Curzon Press, 1995.

Callicott, J. Baird and Roger T. Ames, eds. Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989.

Suzuki, Daisetz T. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973.

See also: Aesthetics and Nature in China and Japan; Buddhism – East Asia; Japanese Gardens; Japanese Religions; Matsuo Basho¯ ; Religious Environmentalist Paradigm; Whales and Japanese Cultures; Zen Buddhism.

Japanese Religions

To trace how “nature” was experienced and expressed in the history of Japanese religions is no simple matter. It was not before the end of the eighteenth century, when the Japanese scholars of Dutch Learning (Rangaku) translated “natuur” into shizen, that the Japanese had for the first time managed to form a terminological equivalent for the Western concept of nature. It was during the Meiji (1868–1912) era that the categories of “nature” (shizen) and “culture” (bunka) were fixed in their verbal expressions in Japanese, not only as distinct but also as polarized conceptions. The term shizen had been borrowed much earlier from the Chinese, but the Chinese term (pronounced by the Japanese as jinen) was used to mean the spontaneous power of self-development as well as the results that came from that power. This idea is drawn from a Daoist point of view which is apt to perceive nature as a cosmic whole in which human as well as “divine” dimensions are integrated.

That the ancient Japanese did not have an equivalent term for the Western term “nature” does not necessarily mean that they had no recognition of the phenomenon, which is today called shizen. The Japanese, for most of their history, preferred terms such as mono or ametsuchi (tenchi), which are semantically more comprehensive than the term shizen. The term mono includes not only “things” but also “deities” (such as Omononushi, the great deity of the Miwa Shrine in Yamato), “souls” and “spirits”; and the term ametsuchi which literally means “heaven and Earth” is another alternative concept to refer to what the

Japanese now call shizen. With respect to the term mono, it has been repeatedly asserted by some scholars that the ancient Japanese recognized natural phenomena as manifestations of kami (deities), which opens up the possibility of comprehending nature as a plurality of kami.

According to Japanese mythology as narrated in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters, completed in 712) and the Nihonshoki (also known as Nihongi, Chronicles of Japan, compiled in 720), natural phenomena are themselves the offspring of kami. This animistic view of nature might have been influenced by the beliefs of the peoples of the Jomon (ca. 4000 or 3000 – 250 B.C.E.) and Yayoi (ca. 250 B.C.E.–250) periods, and developed later into the religious tradition now designated by the term Shinto. In those texts, animistic spirits were individualized and deified as natural deities of, for instance, the sun (Hirume, the original name of Amaterasu), the moon (Tsukiyomi), the mountain (Yamatsumi), and the ocean (Wadatsumi). The Kojiki and Nihonshoki also indicate the worldview of early Japan, in which the dwelling place of the celestial deities (Takamagahara), the world of living beings (Ashihara no nakatsu kuni) and the underworld of the dead (Yomi no kuni) are not detached but contiguous, so that the inhabitants of the three worlds can easily interact. The mythology in these documents tells that Omononushi, sometimes assuming a serpent form and at other times taking on human shape, married a human maiden, and became the tutelary deity of the Miwa clan. In this perspective, nature, human society and the spiritual world are so close as to be inseparable. From this point of view, Byron Earhart once described “the closeness of human beings, gods, and nature” as one of the characteristics of Japanese religions, saying that “mortals, gods, and nature form a triangle of harmonious interrelationships [that] is a cornerstone of Japanese religions” (Earhart 1982: 7–8).

This harmony might have originated from a Japanese cosmogony in which there is no creator god but rather a plurality of kami coming into existence one after another generated by other kami. This is manifested especially in the work of the divine couple Izanagi and Izanami, who came together to give birth to the eight islands of Japan and the various kami who came to populate the islands. It may be worth contrasting this procreation seen in the ancient Japanese myth to the Judeo-Christian cosmogony, which is focused on a single creator God. The contrast here seems clear, between what might be characterized as the “cosmogony of creation” in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the “cosmogony of generation” in the Japanese tradition. The “cosmogony of creation” is based on the notion of God as the single Creator, the transcendent origin of creation, while the “cosmogony of generation” as expressed in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki puts special emphasis on the notion of musuhi (the generative force), which is immanent in all beings.

In his analysis of the Kojiki, Maruyama Masao noted that, in addition to this contrast, the dominance of “becoming” (naru) is one of the characteristics of what he calls the “ancient substratum” of Japanese thought, a characteristic he opposed to the “artifice” or “making” (tsukuru) prevalent in the West. Although caution must be taken so as not to oversimplify these two ideal types, it nevertheless seems to be worthwhile to contrast “becoming” with “making” as illustrating the difference between the “cosmogony of creation” and “cosmogony of generation.” Maruyama, in this regard, took two deities, Taka-mi-musuhi-no-kami (“High Generative-Force Deity”) and Kami-musuhi-no-kami (“Divine GenerativeForce Deity”) as the most important in Japanese cosmogony. Both deities symbolize the power of “generation/ becoming,” by which various kami “naturally” come to existence one after another, which explains the immanent relationship among kami, human beings, and nature.

As to this “ancient substratum,” we should not overlook the Sino-Korean influences on Japanese views of nature, especially that of Daoism (dôkyo in Japanese). Scholars such as Fukunaga Mitsuji, Yoshino Hiroko, and Arakawa Hiroshi, for instance, have persuasively asserted the strong and comprehensive influence of Daoism as well as onmyôdo (the way of Yin-Yang) on the Kojiki and Nihon- shoki, especially in the section of cosmogony of those texts. Daoism, which emphasizes harmony with nature, was adopted by the ancient Japanese people and became part of the Japanese religious heritage so that the Daoist cosmological theory provided the idiom for expressing ideas that were already a central element of Japanese indigenous religion.

It might be safe to say that Japanese religions, from the beginning, generated an intimate view of nature among the Japanese, teaching that nature is full of spirits and, therefore, not essentially dissimilar to human beings. This view of nature reached an apex in the Heian period (794–1192), when literary and aesthetic appreciation of nature pervaded among the Japanese, especially the noble class. The sentiment of the era is typically expressed in the phrase mono-no-aware, literally, “deep feeling over things,” which was used in the literature, prose and poetry of the era to express an empathic sentiment felt in experiencing beauty, melancholy, and ephemerality throughout nature and human life. This term also indicates the interrelationship between mono (things) of the outer world and aware (feelings) of the inner world, a spiritual and aesthetic ideal based on a sensitivity toward the harmonious world as a whole.

There is no doubt that the Japanese worldview, which conceives of nature as the totality of human and divine existence rather than the opposite of human culture, has been sustained and intensified by Chinese epistemologies conveyed by Daoism, Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism. It is not only in Japan but also in China (and Korea) that the unification of humanity with nature has become a religious, as well as artistic, ideal. Arguing that magic in Japan is a “natural” science at the interface of nature and culture, Josef Kyburz points out that the idea of fusion with nature, and, by extension, with the cosmic whole, has been pursued in Japanese (and Chinese) culture as “the absolute ideal of existence, as a way of life and, ultimately, as the realization of the cosmic Principle” (Kyburz 1997: 261), sophisticated by Daoism and Zen Buddhism. The former provided a concept for the cosmic principle (or “Way” – Chinese dao; Japanese ), while the latter, emphasizing the identification of the soul with the universe, taught how to awake, through intense contemplation, a complete sympathy with nature, a sympathy in which humans and nature, present and eternity, life and death, are no longer contradictory.

The fusion of the animate and inanimate permeated Japanese culture so widely and deeply that natural phenomena such as mountains, rocks, stones, the sound of blowing wind and even the chirping of insects came to be regarded to have sensuous connotations which help humans to be aware of their own inner nature (or Buddhanature). Most religious sites in Japan, then, are not detached from their natural surroundings: rather, sacred centers such as Kumano and Ise, the buildings of which form a part of the landscape, have been regarded as a Pure Land or the Eternal Center of Heaven and Country, and have become centers of pilgrimage and devotion where the Japanese people from all strata of society visit.

Another example of the closeness of nature and humans, or the spiritual world and human society, is the continuity of yama (mountains, forests) and sato (village). It is well known among the Japanese folklorists that the most sacred mountains in Japan have two shrines: the yama-miya (shrine on the top of the mountain, the abode of the yama no kami, kami of the mountain) and the sato-miya (shrine at the foot of the mountain, the abode of the ta no kami, kami of the paddies). This dual system is considered by Yanagita Kunio to be the prototype of ancestor worship of Japan. According to him, it has been believed throughout Japan that “in the spring the Yama-no-kami descends to the farming settlements and becomes the Ta-no-kami and ascends again into the mountains at the end of autumn to become Yama-no-kami once more” (Yanagita 1970: 74). This cycle of kami was so closely related to the cycle of four seasons and rice planting that

[i]f there was an idea that instead of crossing into the Buddhist Paradise, the souls of our ancestors remain in a quiet, calm place in our land to return at a fixed time each year, then instead of in early autumn when the rice stalks are starting to flower, would not that time be when [human beings] are preparing to plant rice seed beds and their hearts are sensitive as they hopefully await the return of the

Kami? (Yanagita 1970: 75).

Arne Kalland and Pamela Asquith also point out that yama denotes not only the “outside” of sato but the “inside” of the other world (or the spiritual world), a zone of transition. In this sense, mountains or wilderness, being “betwixt and between,” have been regarded as potentially dangerous areas inhabited by deities and spirits, and they, consequently, become ideal sites for religious exercises such as meditation and pilgrimage.

If we may imply an animistic view of nature in the expression “nature of life” (nature is full of life) and a pantheistic notion of nature in the expression “life of nature” (all nature can be seen as one holistic life), the worldview of the Japanese people can be seen as composed of two distinct dimensions, penetrating into each other from the ancient times to the present. The mythical and religious representations of nature in Japanese culture mentioned above have formed the Japanese concept of nature. The Japanese see nature as something that always contains harmony or order. Every natural thing, mountains and rivers, rocks and trees, thunders flowers and winds, and insects, can be seen as a living god, which altogether compose the harmonious cosmos.

As a part of the cosmos, humankind also should live harmoniously within nature, which is transitory and temporary like the cycle of the seasons. Not only nature but also human life are seen as temporary phenomena inescapable from the cycle of transmigration. The self of a person who prefers to live in close communion with nature, instead of opposing it, then, is dissolved in and assimilated with cosmic order, or the “true self.” The construction of capitals such as Nara and Kyoto is a notable example of the practical means to bring about the identification of human space and nature.

The natural order of the harmonious cosmos is, however, not always benevolent to human beings; it also easily becomes so malevolent and dangerous, represented by fierce deities such as kami of storm, thunder, and pest, as to cause disasters. To calm and soothe a malevolent kami (aramitama) and make it into a benevolent kami (nikimitama, or nigimitama) requires a ritual pacification. This ritual transformation of chaos into harmonious cosmos affects both nature and human society, because both are mutually reflected in each other.

As we have seen, Japanese religious traditions see nature as immanently divine, and, as a result, consider the correspondence between external beauty and internal equilibrium as axiomatic. Regarding nature as divine and sacred, the Japanese people did not consider nature as inferior or opposed to human beings. They preferred to live embedded in nature, expressed in such ways as flower arrangement, the tea ceremony, literati art works, and Zen painting, all of which, in this perspective, however, are not necessarily equivalent to nature as it is. Rather, nature, as religiously and aesthetically signified in the Japanese history, is a kind of abstraction of an idealized world including human beings as well as kami.

Since the middle of the nineteenth century, modern Japan has been eager to adopt and absorb Western scientific and technological ideas in which the concept of “human as subject and nature as object” is central (MorrisSuzuki 1998: 36). It brought the Japanese a disintegrated idea of nature: objectified nature as resources for national industrialization, and imagined nature as the “heart of the Japanese culture.” Both are symbolized in the phrase of wakon yosai (Japanese spirit, Western knowledge). The former idea of nature easily pushed the Japanese people into serious environmental degradations (massive pollution), while the latter has been emphasized more and more in the course of modern constructions of national identity as “anti-modern” and “anti-West.”

It has been said that a “love of nature” is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. If so, how do we account for such environmental degradations as the Minamata disease and the itai-itai disease taking the Japanese “love of nature” into consideration? We must further contextualize the Japanese concepts of nature to clarify how nature (jinen, shizen) has been experienced, imagined, and idealized in Japanese history.

Yotaro Miyamoto

Further Reading

Anesaki, Masaharu. Art, Life, and Nature in Japan.

Westport: Greenwood Press, 1971.

Asquith, Pamela J. and Arne Kalland, eds. Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. Richmond: Curzon, 1997.

Colligan-Taylor, Karen. The Emergence of Environmental Literature in Japan. New York and London: Garland, 1990.

Earhart, Byron. Japanese Religion: Unity and Diversity. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1982 (3rd edn).

Kalland, Arne and Pamela Asquith. “Japanese Perceptions of Nature: Ideals and Illusions.” In Pamela J. Asquith and Arne Kalland, eds. Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. Richmond: Curzon, 1997.

Kyburz, Joseph. “Magical Thought at the Interface of Nature and Culture.” In Pamela J. Asquith and Arne Kalland eds. Japanese Images of Nature: Cultural Perspectives. Richmond: Curzon, 1997.

Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. Reinventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. New York: Sharpe, 1998.

Yanagita, Kunio. About Our Ancestors: the Japanese Family System. Fanny Hagin Mayer and Ishiwara Yasuyo, trans. Tokyo: Yushodo, 1970.

See also: Aesthetics and Nature in China and Japan; Ani- mism; Buddhism – East Asia; Daoism; Japanese Gardens; Japanese Love of Nature; Kawabata, Yasunari; Matsuo Basho¯ ; Mt. Hiei (Japan); Religious Environmentalist Paradigm; Sacred Mountains; Umehara, Takeshi; Watsuji, Tetsuro; Whales and Japanese Cultures; World Heritage Sites and Religion in Japan.

Jataka Tales

Jataka or “stories from the earlier births (of the Buddha)” is a collection of around 550 stories. They depict many of the former lives of the Buddha when he was a bodhisattva, a being on the way to become a Buddha. In many of his previous lives he was a human being, but interestingly, in many others, the celebrated founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was a noble and good animal.

Many of the Jataka stories belong to a literary genre that uses stories about animals to convey to humans lessons about life. In some of the Jataka stories animals are made to exemplify values celebrated by Buddhism such as loving kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna). Buddha as a gazelle is willing to give up his life to save a pregnant gazelle. His altruistic behavior persuades the king to abandon hunting altogether thereafter (story number 12). In another life the Buddha was a self-sacrificing rabbit, who jumped into the fire to give himself up as food for a guest (story number 316).

The Jataka stories illustrate the doctrine of rebirth. Each story is introduced by a “story of the present,” which narrates the circumstances in which the Buddha told the story of one of his previous lives, and ends with the Buddha identifying the persons in the story in their present rebirths. Although the doctrine of rebirth is generally accepted in Buddhism, most people have no memory of previous lives. Buddha, however, distinguished himself by being able to remember a large number of them. He was able, therefore, to remember many lives as an animal. This illustrates the Buddhist doctrine that humans and animals are part of the same rebirth realm; there is no absolute difference between humans and animals.

The Jataka text, which in the English translation makes up more than 1800 pages, is part of the Pali Canon of the Theravada Buddhists known as Tipitaka or “three baskets.” Jataka stories are, however, found in the texts of all the main Buddhist groups. The oldest of the Jatakas were composed from around the third century B.C.E., but many were composed several centuries later and the collection incorporated into the Pali Canon is from around the fourth century. Although it is a later part of the Pali Canon, it is one of the most popular ones. Themes from the Jataka were used to decorate the Buddhist monuments and are among the oldest motifs in the arts of India. Monks often use Jataka stories, in their sermons, to teach ethics to lay people. The purpose of the stories is to entertain and to

The Great Monkey Jataka (Mahakapijataka)

In the past when Brahmadatta ruled in Benares, the Bodhisatta (later to become the Buddha) was reborn as a monkey. He came of age, complete in length and breadth, became strong and vigorous and lived in the Himalayas in the company of eighty thousand monkeys. On the banks of the Ganges a mighty mango tree (some say it was a banyan tree) was rising up like a mountaintop, with branches and forks with dense shade-giving foliage. Its sweet fruits with divine aroma and taste were as large as water jars. The fruits from one branch fell on the ground, from another into the Ganges, and from two other branches into the main trunk of the tree. The Bodhisatta while eating the fruits with the flock of monkeys, thought: “The fruit falling from the tree into the river will some day be a hazard to us.” So that not even one fruit from the branch above the water was left, at the time of flowering when the fruits were no bigger than chick peas, he made them eat and throw away the fruits.

Nevertheless, one ripe fruit hidden in an ant’s nest was not discovered by the eighty thousand monkeys. It fell into the river and was caught in the upper net of the king of Benares who was bathing for amusement with a net set up above and below him. When the king had played the whole day and was going away in the evening, the fisherman who was taking up the net saw the fruit, and not knowing what it was, showed it to the king. The king asked: “What is the name of such a fruit?” “We do not know, Sir.” “Who will know?” “The forest workers, Sir.” He had the forest workers called and learning from them that it was a mango, he cut it with a knife and had first the forest workers taste it, then ate some himself and thereafter shared some with his women and companions. The taste of the ripe mango pervaded, and remained in, the whole body of the king. Possessed by desire for the flavor, he asked the forest workers where the tree was, and hearing that it was on the river bank in the Himalaya, he had several boats joined together and went upstream by the route shown by the forest workers. Later (the exact number of days is not told), when they arrived at that place, the forest workers told the king: “Here is this tree.” The king stopped the boats and went on foot with a large group of people. Having the bed prepared at the foot of the tree, he ate some mangos, enjoying the many marvelous flavors, and laid down.

They placed a guard in each direction and made a fire.

When the folks had fallen asleep, in the middle of the night, the Bodhisatta arrived with his flock. Eighty thousand monkeys moving from branch to branch ate mangos. The king awakened and seeing the flock of monkeys, woke up his men and called on the archers saying: “Surround these monkeys who eat the fruit so that no one escapes, and shoot them. Tomorrow we will eat mangos with monkey meat.” The archers obeyed by saying “very well,” surrounded the tree and stood with arrows ready.

The monkeys saw them and not able to escape feared for their lives. They came to the Bodhisatta and asked: “Sir, the archers have surrounded the tree and declare ‘We shall kill those fleeing monkeys.’ What shall we do?” and stood shivering. The Bodhisatta said: “Have no fear. I will save your life.” He comforted the flock of monkeys, climbed a branch going straight upward, went along another branch that stretched toward the Ganges, and jumping from the end of it one hundred bow lengths, he landed on the other side of the Ganges on the top of a bush. While coming down he measured the distance, saying “that much is the distance I have come.” He cut a creeper at the root, stripped it, and said: “So much will be fastened to the tree and so much will stay in the air,” and so estimated the two lengths, not considering the part bound to his own waist. He took one end of the creeper and fastened it to a tree on the bank of the Ganges. The other end he fastened to his own waist, and then jumped the length of one hundred bow lengths with the speed of a cloud torn by the wind. However, he was not able to reach the tree. Seizing a branch of the mango tree firmly with both hands, he gave the sign to the flock of monkeys: “Quickly step on my back and go to safety by means of the creeper.” In that way the eighty thousand monkeys escaped after first having greeted him and apologized. At that time Devadatta was also a monkey and in that flock. He said: “Now is the time to get rid of my enemy.” He climbed up a branch, gained speed, and fell on the Bodhisatta’s back. The Bodhisatta’s heart broke and a strong pain arose. Devadatta who had caused that great pain, went away, and the Bodhisatta was alone.

The king was awake and had seen all that happened to the monkeys and the Bodhisatta. He lay down thinking: “This is an animal, yet he brought about the well-being of his flock without regard for his own life.” When the day broke, being pleased with the Bodhisatta, he thought: “It is not right to destroy this king of the monkeys. I will bring him down in some way and take care of him.” So placing the row of boats below on the Ganges and making a platform there, he made the Bodhisatta come down slowly, laid him down on his back, dressed him in yellow robes, bathed him in Ganges water, had him drink sweetened water, and had his body purified and anointed with expensive oil. He put an oiled skin on a bed, made him lie there and sat down on a low seat. Then he spoke the first verse.

You made yourself a bridge for them, so that they safely crossed

What are you then to them, great monkey, and what are they to you?

The Bodhisatta heard him and spoke these verses to instruct the king:

I am the monkey’s king and lord, the guardian of the flock

When they were overwhelmed by sorrow and terrified of you

I jumped the distance, one hundred bows outstretched a thin rope of creeper was firmly bound around my waist impelled by the wind like the tearing of a cloud I jumped towards the tree unable to reach, I grasped at a branch and held it with the hands

And as I hung stretched between the creeper and the branch the monkeys together walked across on foot to safety

Therefore no fetter pains me and death will not cause me pain

Happiness brought I to those over whom I used to rule

This simile for you, O King, is made to show you clearly that of the kingdom, the draught bullocks, the army and the city is happiness to be sought by the knowing king

The Bodhisatta in this way instructing and teaching the king, died. The king calling his minister, said: “Give this monkey king a burial service like a king.” He ordered the women to come to the funeral in red clothes with disheveled hair and with torches in their hands as the retinue of the monkey king. The ministers made a funeral pile with a hundred cartloads of wood. They performed the funeral of the Bodhisatta in a kingly manner. Thereafter they took the skull and came to the king. The king had a burial mound made at the place of cremation, had lamps lighted there, had it honored with incense and flowers, and had the skull inlaid with gold. He had the skull placed on the point of a spear in front of the burial mound and honored it with incense and flowers. Thereupon he went to Benares, had it placed on his own gate and had the whole city decorated. He worshipped it for seven days. Finally, taking it as a relic, and establishing a shrine, he honored it with incense and garlands as long as he lived. Established in the teaching of the Bodhisatta, he gave alms and did meritorious deeds, and ruling his kingdom with righteousness, he became destined to heaven.

Translated from Pali by Knut A. Jacobsen convey moral teachings. Several types of stories have been included in the Jataka: fables, fairy tales, anecdotes, short stories, sayings and pious legends. Many of Jatakas were not of Buddhist origin and many of them are also found in non-Buddhist Indian literature.

The Jataka stories contradict some of the classical doctrines of the Buddhist traditions about animals. An animal rebirth is usually considered bad (durgati) because animal life contains more suffering than happiness. Animals are unable to produce religious merit, they cannot progress effectively on the path to nirvana and they are not admitted as members of the sangha (community of monks). Critiques of the possibility of constructing a Buddhist environmental ethic usually neglect the Jataka stories. However, some of the stories tell about humans who are impressed with the altruistic acts of animals. They describe humans caring for animals and animals caring for humans. In one story Buddha in a previous life, as an ascetic, brought water to animals in a time of drought, and the animals in gratitude brought him food (story number 124). Some Jatakas describe friendship between animals, thoughts and deeds of humans are ascribed to animals, and some stories make animals seem similar to, or, even better than humans. The Jatakas might teach us to recognize the humanness of many animals, an implication of the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth.

Knut A. Jacobsen

Further Reading

Chapple, Christopher Key. “Animals and Environment in the Buddhist Birth Stories.” In Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Ryuken Williams, eds. Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997, 131–48.

Jacobsen, Knut A. “Humankind and Nature in Buddhism.” In Eliot Deutsch and Ron Bontekoe, eds. A Companion to World Philosophies. Oxford: Blackwell, 1977, 381–91.

The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births. 6 vols. E.B. Cowell, ed. London: The Pali Text Society, 1957 (1897).

Winternitz, Maurice. A History of Indian Literature, vol. II. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983, 108–51.

See also: Animals; Buddha; Cetacean Spirituality; Dolphins and New Age Religion; Elephants; Hyenas – Spotted; Islam, Animals, and Vegetarianism; Nile Perch; Hinduism; India; Serpents and Dragons.

Jeffers, John Robinson (1887–1962)

John Robinson Jeffers was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. His father, a noted seminary professor, sent him as a child to boarding schools in Switzerland for training in languages and literature – Greek, Latin, French, German, and English. Undergraduate studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles were followed by graduate studies in literature, medicine, and forestry at the University of Zurich, the University of Southern California, and the University of Washington. Jeffers married Una Call Kuster in 1913 and settled in Carmel, California, the following year. Twin sons, Garth and Donnan, were born in 1916. In 1919, Jeffers helped build Tor House, a stone cottage he and Una designed, on a barren bluff above the sea. The skills he learned as a stonemason were used throughout his life, first on Hawk Tower, which he completed in 1925, and then on additions to his home.

An earnest but unremarkable poet in young adulthood, Jeffers became a poet of great power. The transformation occurred in his early thirties, when he was building Tor House. Like other artists and intellectuals of his generation, Jeffers was shaken by the breakdown of civilization occasioned by World War I. Working outdoors day after day, however, with the vast ocean before him and the massive continent behind, helped him see beyond the world’s sorrows and achieve a new understanding of humanity, nature, and God.

Humans, Jeffers came to believe, are not qualitatively superior to other forms of life. Unfortunately, however, most people believe otherwise. Indeed, anthropocentricism is so ingrained that when people think about the past, they think primarily of human history; when they think about the future, they dwell on human destiny; and when they think about the present, they privilege human needs. Narcissism, as such, is a mental disorder, the antidote for which is a recognition of the “transhuman magnificence” of the natural world. Nature, Jeffers asserted, is supreme. As he said in “The Place for No Story,” referring to the rugged landscape of the Big Sur coast, “No imaginable / Human presence here could do anything / But dilute the lonely self-watchful passion.” Earth itself, Jeffers believed, will outlast its present affliction – human dominion – and return to a state of wild beauty. Meanwhile, an appreciation of nature can lead to an experience of God, who is all there is:

We that have the honor and hardship of being human / Are one flesh with the beasts, and the beasts with the plants / One streaming sap, and certainly the plants and algae and the Earth they spring from, / Are one flesh with the stars. The classifications are mostly a kind of memoria technica, use it but don’t be fooled. / It is all truly one life, red blood and tree-sap, / Animal, mineral, sidereal, one stream, one organism, one God” (“Monument’).

Jeffers’ pantheism has several unique features, the most significant of which is his doctrine of divine suffering. Whereas most theistic systems imagine God as a perfect being who, at an ultimate level, experiences eternal peace, in Jeffers’ view God purposely endures unending torment. As he says in a letter to Rudolph Gilbert (29 November 1936), “If God is all, he must be suffering, since an unreckoned part of the universe is always suffering. But his suffering must be self-inflicted, for he is all; there is no one outside him to inflict it.” Such a God, fierce as a hunting hawk, is not inclined to kindness. Indeed, “He has no righteousness / No mercy, no love” (“At the Birth of an Age”).

The implications of this and other tenets of his vision were explored by Jeffers in seventeen volumes of epic, dramatic, and lyric poems written in a forty-year career.

Titles of major books include Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems (1925), Cawdor (1928), Thurso’s Landing (1932), Be Angry at the Sun (1941), Medea (1946), The Double Axe (1948), and Hungerfield (1954). Though always controversial – for his imputed misanthropy (he called his philosophy “Inhumanism”), his opposition to war, his tales of madness and cruelty, and his unyielding commitment to the principles of environmentalism – Jeffers had a profound impact on a wide range of readers, who found in him one of the few poets of the modern age who spoke authentically in the vatic mode. When David Brower was working with Friends of the Earth, for instance, he established a journal called Not Man Apart. The title came from the concluding lines of a poem by Jeffers, “The Answer”:

Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man

Apart from that, or else you will share in man’s pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken.

James Karman

Further Reading

Brophy, Robert. Robinson Jeffers: Myth, Ritual, and Symbol in His Narrative Poems. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University Press, 1973.

Everson, William. The Excess of God: Robinson Jeffers as a Religious Figure. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.

Jeffers, Robinson. The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, vols I–V. Tim Hunt, ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Karman, James. Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California. Ashland, Oregon: Story Line Press, 1995.

Zaller, Robert. The Cliffs of Solitude: A Reading of Robinson Jeffers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

See also: Abbey, Edward; Death and Afterlife in Robinson Jeffers & Edward Abbey; Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front; Radical Environmentalism.

Jesus and Empire

It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of nature in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and the canonical and extra-canonical traditions associated with his name. Scholarly debate continues concerning which of the particular sayings and actions ascribed to him accurately record his life and teaching. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that Jesus’ invocations of the natural world to represent the “basileia (kingdom/ reign/dominion/rule) of God” and teachings associated with it, reflect Jesus’ historical origins as a first-century Galilean peasant, his agrarian context, and the socio-political conditions of his day. Archeological excavations, literary testimony drawn primarily from the New Testament Gospels and other roughly contemporary literature, especially the Gospel of Thomas, and the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, help to place Jesus in his social agrarian context.

In literary form and content, biblical and extracanonical witnesses to Jesus’ connections with nature illustrate their continuity with pre-Common Era Jewish and Ancient Near Eastern traditions, especially those associated with the Hebrew Bible and intertestamental prophetic and wisdom literature. Thus, for example, the canonical Gospels draw on Hebrew tradition when they portray Jesus in natural landscapes associated with sacred Israelite history, especially the Exodus, and divine interventions on Israel’s behalf (e.g., wilderness [Mk. 4:12–13; 6:31–44 par.; 8:1–10 par; Matt. 4:1–11 par.;

Jn. 6:1–15, 22–71; also 1 Cor. 10:1–5]; mountain [Mk.

3:13–19 par.; 6:46 par.; 9:2–10 par.; Matt. 5:1–7:28;

Matt. 28:16–20]; sea [Mk. 4:35–41 par.; 6:47–51 par.; Jn.

6:16–21]), thereby winning for Jesus pride of place in sacred tradition. These depictions coincide with profiles of other Jewish figures from first-century Palestine, the most familiar of which is John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1–6 par.; Jn. 1:19–34), who chose similar symbolically charged settings to express their self-understanding and divinely appointed historical role. Josephus comments that a variety of figures appeared in the first century leading followers into the wilderness “so that there God would show them signs of imminent liberation” (Jewish War 2.259; Antiquities 20.168; Acts 5:36–37). Many of these styled themselves after Moses, presumably in fulfillment of prophetic expectation (thus Deut. 18:18), and consequently were active in sacredly charged geographies. Thus, one led his followers to Mt. Gerizim, to initiate a Moses-inspired revolt against Roman overlords (Antiquities 18.85–87). Another, Theudas (Acts 5:36; Josephus, Antiquities 20.97–98), led a crowd across the Jordan River, imagining himself as Moses leading his people to liberation. Josephus (Jewish War 2.261–63; also Ant. 20.169–71) names “the Egyptian” as leading his followers “through the wilderness to the Mount of Olives,” a place associated in the Hebrew Bible with the apocalyptic “Day of the Lord” (Zech. 14:1–4, 9). The Qumran Community chose to express geographically its religious political identity as the true people of God divinely nurtured in the wilderness to express its rejection of an allegedly corrupt Temple establishment.

While New Testament witnesses similarly deploy sacred landscape to express larger theological and political meanings of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and teaching, it is unlikely that the historical Jesus deployed nature associations as programmatically as these contemporary figures. Nevertheless, the historical Jesus’ associations with nature are theologically and religiously charged. Whether in parables (e.g., Mk. 4:1–9 par.; G.Th. 9; Mk. 4.26–29; 4:30–32 par; G.Th. 20; Matt. 13:24–30; G.Th. 57;

Matt. 13:47–50; G.Th. 8; Lk. 12:16–21; G.Th. 63; Lk.

13:18–19 par; G.Th. 96; Lk. 15:3–7 par; G.Th. 107; Jn.

10:1–18; 15:1–7), wisdom sayings (Lk. 8:16 par; G.Th. 33;

Lk. 14:34–35 par.; Matt. 5:45; 7:9–12; Jn. 7:37; 8:12) and moral instruction (Mk. 11:23 par.; G.Th. 48/106; Lk. 6:43– 45 par.; G.Th. 45; 6:47–49 par.; Matt. 6:19–34 par.; G.Th.

76; Matt. 17:24–27), prophetic and apocalyptic pronouncements (Mk. 8:11–12 par.; 11:12–14 par.; 13:24–29 par.; G. Th. 111; Lk. 12:54–56 par.; G.Th. 91; Lk. 13:6–9;

13:34–35 par.), discipleship instructions (Mk. 1:17 par.; Lk. 10:2 par.; G.Th. 73; Lk. 12:4–7 par., Matt. 10:16; Lk. 10:3) or more general descriptions of the typical rural settings of his daily life in and around Galilean towns and villages (e.g., Mk. 1:14–20 par.; 1:35–39 par.; 2:1 par.; 2:13 par.;

2:23–28 par.; 3:7–12 par.; 6:31–32; 6:53–55 par.; Jn. 6:15;

Lk. 6:17–19; 8:1 par.; 9:13–15 par.; 9:58 par.; G.Th. 86;

Matt. 9:35; Jn. 21:1–14), the natural world forms the indispensable backdrop for understanding the teachings and fate of the historical Jesus and later theological portraits of his significance.

These texts represent a complex history of development at the oral and written stages of transmission, often bearing the imprint of post-Easter/early Christian agenda. The historical Jesus’ representations of nature are best understood against a backdrop of economic and societal degradation of Galilean peasantry under the reign of Herod Antipas (ruled 4 B.C.E.–39), client of the Roman imperial regime and as a religio-political response to it. Jesus’ portraits of nature share with other pagan, especially Stoic and Cynic, critics of Roman domination an affirmation of life lived in conformity with nature as a means to nurture a dissident social identity. Jesus’ idiosyncratic proclamation of the kingdom of God and the representations of nature associated with it imply a pointed politics. This becomes especially clear once interpreted against the backdrop of propagandistic imperial celebrations of Roman rule as bringing about a peaceable natural and civil world order blessed by the gods (see for example, Virgil, Eclogue 4). Attention to political context corrects a too romantic interpretation of Jesus. Championed especially in the nineteenth century by Ernest Renan, and echoed regularly in contemporary reconstructions, such portraits celebrate Jesus as a rugged “back to nature” individualist favoring unmediated access to God via the natural world over against the corrupt and artificial institutions of an established moribund Jewish religion. Scholars rightly criticize such interpretations for their anti-Judaism and anachronistic individualism. Relating Jesus’ interpretations of nature to his political context also resists an anachronistic translation of Jesus’ teaching into apolitical theological categories which, while relevant to the modernist secular divide between religion and politics, is foreign to ancient religion.

During Jesus’ lifetime, Galilee underwent radical social and economic transformation under the reign of Herod Antipas. Herod’s ambitious building and promotion of his Galilean capitals, Sepphoris and Tiberias (founded ca. 18), as philo-Roman cities, together with his creation of a mint, resulted in the monetization of an economy hitherto centered on material exchange and enabled the imperial administration to realize its goals of taxation and Roman control over the Galilean hinterland. Monetization drew elites to settle in Herod’s cosmopolitan cities and to govern their rural estates as absentee landlords, and simultaneously resulted in subsistence farmers losing ancestral land through debt and subsequent indenture. Many of Jesus’ parables present indebted rural peasants laboring under absentee landlords (Mk. 12:1–12; G.Th. 65; Lk. 19:11–27 par.; Lk. 12:41–46 par.; Lk. 16:1–9) who amass fortunes from surplus production (Lk. 12:16; G.Th. 63). Jesus reflects his economic setting when he deploys release from debt and generous loaning as potent religious metaphors (Matt. 6:12; Lk. 6:29–35; G.Th. 95; see also Lk. 3:11).

When considered against the straitened conditions of the Galilean hinterland, Jesus’ observations of nature to illustrate the abundance of God’s kingdom become especially pointed and counterpolitical. He reflects his association with Hebrew Bible and Intertestamental Wisdom traditions (especially Proverbs; Sirach; Wisdom of Solomon) – an early text represents him as an emissary of Wisdom (Lk. 11:33–35 par.; compare Wis. Sol. 7:27–28)

– in his instructional depictions of the natural world. In the beauty of the lilies of the field more glorious than the elite clothing of King Solomon (Lk. 12:27–32 par. G.Th. 36), and in God’s care of the natural world (Lk. 12:6–7, 24–26 par.), he discovers illustrations of God’s generous reign and freedom from material anxiety. The natural “commons” owned by all and none become sign of this reign and token of its hidden omnipresence, generosity, and potency (Lk. 17:21; G.Th. 3; 77; 113). This is in marked contrast to contemporary imperial representations of divinely appointed rule located in the splendor of cities and cultivated landscapes, which are controlled, owned, and manipulated by propertied, finely clothed elites (Matt. 11:8 par.; G.Th. 78). Jesus discovers in the divinely arranged natural world, which unconditionally and generously gives its gifts to all, the pattern for a renewed sociality rooted in the sharing of the Earth’s abundance (Lk. 11:5–8, 11–13 par.). The politics of unconditional generosity becomes especially sharp when interpreted against the backdrop of first-century codes of honor, patronage, and clientship designed to preserve traditional hierarchies and the power of social elites. Jesus inverts commonplace political associations of God’s kingdom with the stately image of the cedar and oak tree (Ezek. 17:23; 31:10; Dan. 4:12) when he represents God’s realm as the bush that bursts forth from a tiny mustard seed and gives shelter to birds (Lk. 13:18–21 par.; G.Th. 48). Jesus’ self-portrait in the saying, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Lk. 9:58 par.) may be a further political burlesque addressed against the palatial splendor of “fox” Herod’s (Lk. 13:82) glittering cities (“Sepphoris” is derived from the Hebrew word for bird). Jesus acknowledges that in the monetized Herodian world one is obliged to pay taxes to Caesar. But he subverts its larger religiopolitical claims by observing that it is finally to God that all is owed (Mk. 12:13–17 par.: G.Th. 100). This obligation arises from abundant divine provisions bursting forth from Earth (Mk. 4:1–9 par.; G.Th. 9), sea (Matt. 13:47–50; G.Th. 8), and sky (Matt. 5:45). Jesus’ invocations of nature and his invitations to learn from its example thus become the means of challenging and contesting absolute Herodian/Imperial and religious claims on Jesus’ listeners, and the social codes that keep Galilean overlords in power, and become exhortations to embrace a countercultural logic that anticipates unexpected social outcomes (Lk. 6:20–26, 27–31 par.; G.Th. 54; 69), subverts traditional hierarchies (e.g., Mk. 10:13–16; Lk.14:26 par.; G.Th. 55), and expresses a counterimperial order of God’s beneficent reign (e.g., Lk. 14:16–24 par.; G. Th. 64).

Harry O. Maier

Further Reading

Cotter, Wendy. “The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven.” Toronto Journal of Theology 8:1 (1992), 38–51.

Edwards, Denis. Jesus the Wisdom of God: An Ecological Theology. New York: Orbis, 1995.

Freyne, Seán. Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels: Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

Galinsky, Karl. Augustan Culture: An Interpretive Introduction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Herzog II, William R. Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.

Hughes, J. Donald. Pan’s Travail: Environmental Problems of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Kloppenborg Verbin, John S. Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.

Oakman, Douglas E. and K.C. Hanson. Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.

Sawicki, Marianne. Crossing Galilee: Architectures of Contact in the Occupied Land of Jesus. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000.

See also: Christianity (2) – Jesus; Christianity (3) – New Testament.

Jewish Environmentalism in North America


Environmental and ecological issues have deep roots in Jewish civilization, going back at least to the commandments in Leviticus 25 to let the land rest and to other agricultural laws. The consciousness that such texts are connected to environmental issues is however new, and it remains a controversial phenomenon within parts of the Jewish community. Twentieth-century sources of inspiration include the works of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the pro-vegetarian mystic and chief rabbi of Palestine; Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972), who wrote paeans to the Sabbath and to the sense of place, wonderment, and nature in his numerous works; and A.D. Gordon (1856–1922), the theoretician of Zionist labor who emphasized spiritual unification with land. Starting from these expressions and from the appreciation of nature that has always been a part of the Jewish tradition from Psalms to Job to rabbinic midrash and medieval thought, Jewish environmentalism has sought to embrace the scientific and spiritual insights of ecology, and to transform Jewish practice based on these insights.

The Jewish environmental movement in North America was in many ways motivated by the revival of back-tothe-land values in the 1960s and 70s. However, whereas for the majority of the counterculture movement these values were an expression of 1960s radicalism, for Jews there was the additional and powerful influence of Zionist idealism, which since its inception also emphasized returning to the land. Especially after the 1967 Arab–Israeli war, which generated a huge outpouring of sympathy and identification with Israel among unaffiliated Jews, the motif of return to the land became a bridge that connected progressive Jewish activists with the Jewish community from which they were often estranged. For the decade and a half following, there seemed to be a profound harmony between environmental and Zionist values.

Tu biSh’vat – “Jewish Earth Day”

Perhaps most emblematic of this nexus of values is the growth of the primary Jewish environmental event to which most Jews have been exposed, the Tu biSh’vat seder, often labeled “Jewish Earth Day.” Falling in the early spring two full moons before Passover, Tu biSh’vat (“the fifteenth of the month of Sh’vat”) generally coincides with the first sap rising in the fruit trees in the land of Israel. Because in rabbinic Judaism this day was labeled the “New Year for the Tree,” seventeenth-century mystics created a ritual meal or seder of fruit and nuts for the day that celebrated the “Tree of Life” that sustains the universe. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) applied these motifs in the 1950s to championing Tu biSh’vat as a day for planting trees in the land of Israel.

One of the early moments of awakening to environmental issues in the Jewish community came when rabbis and Jewish activists drew on the symbolism of the JNF campaigns to create the “Trees for Vietnam” reforestation campaign in 1971 in response to the use of Agent Orange by the U.S. In 1976, Jonathan Wolf in New York City created and led one of the first modern environmental seders, incorporating liturgy from the Kabbalists with information from Israeli environmental groups like Neot Kedumim (“Ancient Fields,” a conservancy group devoted to biblical species), and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). By the late 1970s, Jewish groups around the country were innovating rituals for Tu biSh’vat that connected biblical and rabbinic teachings with material from the Kibbutz movement or JNF and with current environmental concerns. In the 1980s dozens of homemade Tu biSh’vat liturgical books or haggadot modeled after the Passover seder were being used around the country to celebrate trees and to talk about local and national environmental issues, the Earth and ecology.


The pioneers of environmentalism in the Jewish community who began these innovations were a quirky lot that often focused on a strongly ideological reading of the tradition. Many of these figures, including Wolf, who founded Jewish Vegetarians of North America in 1976, were deeply committed to vegetarianism. Notable among this group alongside Wolf is Richard Schwartz, who published Judaism and Vegetarianism in 1982 and followed this with Judaism and Global Survival in 1984. Roberta Kalechofsky began turning out tracts on Jewish vegetarianism in 1985 through her press, Micah Books.

As with most things Jewish, a large part of Jewish environmental work has consisted of investing Jewish practice with ecological meaning through sermons, teachings, and books. Two early writers were especially influential, Eric Freudenstein (1970) and Rabbi Everett Gendler (1971). Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the leaders in this area, starting with his work Seasons of Our Joy (1982), which follows the liturgical calendar through the changes in the Earth. Waskow’s work reached a wider audience than Schwartz’s, and was part of a trend now called “Jewish Renewal,” which involved uniting values associated with 1960s or New Age spiritual countercultures with Jewish practice. In the same year, Rabbi Robert Gordis of the Conservative movement published his article “Ecology in the Jewish Tradition,” while David Ehrenfeld, a scientist affiliated with Rutgers University, organized the first-ever Jewish Environmental Conference with Rabbi Gerry Serotta of Rutgers Hillel (the Jewish campus organization). Ehrenfeld’s seminal conference brought together most of the people mentioned in this section. Rabbi Everett Gendler also influenced a great many activists and teachers during this period, both through his teaching and his farming. In 1983, Waskow founded the Shalom Center, which over time increasingly turned its energy from nuclear weapons to environmental issues. The Shalom Center is now one of the primary organizations in North America and the world that promulgates an activist ecological understanding of Judaism.


During the 1990s publishing burgeoned in the area of Judaism and ecology. In 1991 and 1992 the Melton Center for Jewish Education published two issues of its journal devoted entirely to ecology and the environment under the editorship of Eduardo Rauch. Rabbi Arthur Green’s seminal work on the contemporary meaning of Kabbalah, Seek My Face, Speak My Name (1994), included discussions of both ecology and vegetarianism. Shomrei Adamah published numerous volumes during these years, including Ecology and the Jewish Spirit (1998). Waskow edited or co-edited the important collections Trees, Earth and Torah (2000) and Torah of the Earth (2001). The 1998 conference on “Judaism and the Natural World,” part of the Religions and Ecology conference series produced by Harvard University, led to the publication of Judaism and Ecology (2003).

Careful readers of the many works that now exist will find much to criticize: the more scholarly material is often written by Judaic specialists who have not studied ecology, whereas much of the popular material is written with a superficial knowledge of Judaism. Nonetheless, there are valuable insights in all of the above-mentioned works.

Two books deserve special mention. The first is Jeremy Cohen’s treatment of the use of the verses in Genesis about dominion in Christian and Jewish civilizations, “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It” (1989). While Lynn White popularly analyzed these verses to be the source of anti-environmental trends within Western civilization, Cohen marshaled exhaustive documentary evidence to argue that cultural and intellectual trends do not support White’s thesis. The other important work is Evan Eisenberg’s Ecology of Eden (1998), which examined the cultural significance of the biblical tropes of garden, mountain, and so on, in the light of ancient environmental crises faced by Mesopotamian civilization. Eisenberg, an independent scholar with broad interests in cultural evolution and musicology, also advocated increasing urban density as a method for minimizing the negative impact of the human population on ecosystems. Additional scholarly work in both North America and Israel, including articles by David Seidenberg and by Eilon Schwartz of the Heschel Center for Environmental Awareness in Israel, focused on creating a theology of nature and an eco-theology of Judaism that taps into the sources and roots of the Jewish tradition.


By the end of the 1980s, through the work of Wolf, Schwartz, Waskow, and others, substantial networks of people were involved in some activity that connected Judaism and ecology. Some of the most important work was done by “L’OLAM” (whose name means both “Forever” and “For the World”), which was created in Manhattan by Wolf under the guidance of Rabbi Saul Berman at Lincoln Square Synagogue, a liberal Orthodox shul and by Ken Amron of Conservative Congregation Ansche Chesed. L’OLAM expanded throughout the New York City region between 1984 and 1989 with the help of Susie Tanenbaum and others, growing from a social action committee to a network of over a thousand people from dozens of synagogues and organizations who cared about Judaism and environmentalism.

In 1988, Shomrei Adamah (“Guardians of the Earth”) burst on the scene as the first national Jewish organization devoted to environmental issues. Founded by Ellen Bernstein in Philadelphia, Shomrei Adamah produced guides to Judaism and the environment such as Let the Earth Teach You Torah (1992), which was one of the works that initiated the field of Jewish environmental education. Shomrei Adamah captured the imaginations of environmentally concerned Jews around North America and quickly supplanted groups such as L’OLAM on the national level. However, even as regional groups like Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington D.C. (founded in 1990) sprung up to do grassroots organizing, the national organization pulled away from involvement with political issues, leaving a gap between national, institutional groups and grassroots organizations which would continue to be a source of tension even after national Shomrei Adamah ceased to be active.

Shomrei Adamah-DC and L’OLAM continued their activist work, but the tension between local groups and Bernstein’s organization kept resources from being developed and utilized in a unified and cooperative way. During this time, other regional groups like the Northwest Jewish Environmental Project in Seattle (NWJEP or NJEP), founded in 1997, took a decidedly different approach. While Jewish identification with the Earth and Jewish environmental activism had gone hand in hand up until then, these new groups focused on making nature a source of Jewish identity and explicitly deemphasized political activism. The roots of this approach can be traced back to Jewish hiking groups and to the national network of such groups, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America (founded in 1988).

In 1993, The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) was formed to bring the Jewish environmental movement into the mainstream. COEJL filled the vacuum left by Shomrei Adamah, working with other religion-based groups under the umbrella of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) to achieve these goals. Unlike earlier groups, which were created by activists or organizational entrepreneurs, COEJL was founded by three institutions: The Jewish Theological Seminary (of the Conservative movement), the Religious Action Center (the lobbying arm of the Reform movement), and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (previously the National Jewish Relations Advisory Council), the national umbrella for the Jewish Community Relations Councils that can be found in most metropolitan areas. Led from 1995 to 2003 by Mark X. Jacobs in Manhattan, COEJL’s work was characterized by lobbying, national campaigns in coordination with NRPE, and the development of curricula such as “Operation Noah,” which examined the theme of biodiversity in Jewish texts (1996).

To a large degree during the 1990s, the model represented by COEJL dominated Jewish environmental work. COEJL held annual national conferences that spawned regional networks, and COEJL subsequently began to provide money for staff to organize regional affiliate groups. By the turn of the twenty-first century there were over 25 such groups in the US and Canada, including Jews of the Earth in Boulder Colorado (founded in 1999), the Jewish League for Environmental Awareness in Ventura County California, and other similar groups. COEJL also established affiliate relationships with some independently founded groups like Shomrei Adamah-DC, though in some places, such as New York City, COEJL tried to develop its own networks independent of existing Jewish environmental groups.

COEJL’s national conferences also attracted many locally focused environmental activists who were seeking community with other Jewish activists. Building a movement from these networks proved difficult for COEJL though because of tension between the direct action approach many activists favored, and COEJL’s more institutional approach. While often this was a question of strategy, in some instances a more fundamental conflict arose, between those within Jewish institutions who emphasized using environmentalism as a way to connect Jews to Judaism, and independent activists who thought sustainability issues and ecology were paramount.

For most of the people involved with Jewish environmentalism, however, Judaism, environmental action and social transformation were all fundamentally important and interconnected. The movement for Jewish environmental education was one of the chief meeting grounds where these concerns were given equal weight. The Teva Learning Center, founded in 1995, has been the flagship of this movement. Under the leadership of Adam Berman and then Nili Simhai, Teva (“Nature”) continues to bring committed activists and educators together with dayschool and Hebrew school students at sites in New York and Connecticut. Teva trained many of the people who started environmental programs or retooled traditional nature programs in schools and Jewish summer camps throughout Canada and the United States; through its trainings, it also played a critical role in disseminating the work of environmental educators and ecological thinkers. Several other camps and camping programs, such as Camp Towanga in California, also made contributions to this field.

Other Trends

While the mainstreaming of Jewish environmentalism sometimes led to the marginalization of certain types of activism, new projects continued to be initiated on the edges of the community. One of the last efforts undertaken by L’OLAM was the campaign to stop the Trans-Israel Highway, which according to activists would destroy huge tracts of land and push Israel’s development toward an automobile-centered culture. This campaign, led from Israel by Dr. Uri Shanas and spearheaded in the United States by Corri Gottesman, along with many others, brought together a broad spectrum of Jewish activists who had a more overtly political approach than COEJL. In this same vein, one of the most innovative moments in Jewish environmentalism was the Tu biSh’vat seder of 1996 created by the “Redwood rabbis,” Naomi Steinberg, Margaret Holub and Lester Scharnberg, in which a hundred Jewish activists trespassed onto land owned by Pacific Lumber Company to “illegally” plant redwood trees in civil disobedience against clear-cut harvest practices that have caused significant ecological and economic damage in Northern California. A number of activists like Ramona Rubin and Barak Gale graduated from these actions to other projects that challenged Jewish institutions to oppose corporate practices.

One of the trends in new Jewish eco-activism is “eco-Kashrut,” which has been catalyzed at the discussion stage by people like Rubin in Santa Cruz California, and Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin in Eugene Oregon, as well as by Arthur Waskow. All three have also been involved in campaigns against corporate globalization. The term eco-Kashrut, which signifies the inclusion of environmental and labor standards in the laws that determine what is kosher, was coined by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a grandfather of the Jewish Renewal movement. Another trend is signaled by the term “ecoZionism,” which attempts to connect Jews in North America to Israel through environmental issues or through involvement with green Kibbutzim (see below). In Israel itself, North American Jews, such as Devorah Brous of Bustan L’Shalom (“Orchard for Peace”), have played critical roles in many environmental organizations, and in all aspects of environmental work.

One important nascent phenomenon has been the blending of Native American and shamanistic ideas and rituals with Jewish practice in the teachings of people like Gershon Winkler in New Mexico and Gabe Goldman in the Northeast. Another trend has been the development of Jewish ecofeminism, which was first discussed in print in a special issue of Bridges journal called “Jewish Women and Land” (Fall 1995). Recent colloquia and academic panels in this area have been organized by Irene Diamond. Among the most significant contributions of any one individual are the environmental films of Judith Helfand, whose film about thalidomide and her family, “A Healthy Baby Girl” (1996) connected Jewish and health issues with the environment and corporate practice. Helfand subsequently produced “Blue Vinyl” (2001), a “toxic comedy” about the siding industry and its environmental impact, creating a model for bringing activism to the mainstream community.

The Land

While most Jewish environmental work focused initially on finding ways to celebrate the Earth through Jewish texts and ritual, a handful of people also began to experiment with intentionally living on the land as Jews. Rabbi Everett Gendler started an organic farm in Andover Massachussetts as a way to understand the cycle of nature within the Jewish holidays in the early 1970s. In 1970, a collection of olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) from North America, Europe and South Africa, took over Kibbutz Gezer in Israel’s coastal plain and turned it into a vegetarian environmental community. Mike Tabor organized a prototype communal farm in Pennsylvania called Kibbutz Micah in 1972 with the support of the Fabrangen minyan and Jews for Urban Justice in Washington D.C. Tabor grew up on one of the many socialist-influenced Jewish agricultural communities in North America that once existed in places such as Vineland New Jersey and Petaluma California, though there is little evidence that those earlier communities had a strong influence on Jewish environmentalism as a whole. By the 1980s other experiments in rural Jewish community, like Shivtei Shalom (“Dwellers in Peace”) in Oregon, were underway. Many North American Jews were also heavily involved in the Green Kibbutz initiative in Israel, and remain instrumental in the ecological education programs of communities like Kibbutz Gezer, in central Israel, and Kibbutz Keturah and Kibbutz Lotan, both in the Negev desert. Most of the stateside intentional communities were short-lived experiments, with people often returning to urban areas afterward. The Jewish population that does live in rural areas has nevertheless become an important birthing place and testing ground for new forms of Jewish environmental work. Communities in New England, for example, have continued the tradition of the Conference on Judaism in Rural New England, founded 1982, for over twenty years, and synagogues in Northern California have supported their rabbis’ and members’ activism on behalf of forests. In 2003, the first new intentional Jewish farming community in many years was inaugurated in Western Massachusetts, under the leadership of the Lubavitcher community and the direction of Shmuel Simenowitz from Vermont. Calling itself Eretz Ha’Chaim (“The Land of Life”), this organic farm is also the fruit of a slowly growing trend within the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community to emphasize organic diet and healthy living.

Challenges and Conclusions

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Jewish environmental movement had made substantial inroads into the institutions of the Jewish community but the push to mainstream this movement appeared to have stalled. Numerous local chapters of COEJL failed to establish themselves, and growth into new synagogues has been slow. While the tension between mainstream organizers and grassroots activists remains an issue, the greater challenge appears to be to find effective ways to transform communities and lifestyles.

The question of transforming lifestyles faces the entire environmental movement, of course. The Jewish community, however, faces unique challenges as well. One central issue, especially for outreach to the Orthodox community, is that environmental discourse often sounds “pagan” and is therefore regarded with suspicion. This struggle is partly a legacy of the nineteenth-century rationalists who interpreted Judaism as antithetical to “nature religion,” though the trend toward anti-biblical and anti-monotheistic rhetoric among some environmentalists reinforces these fears. Furthermore, the connection between Israel and the ecology of the land, which once strengthened Jewish environmentalists everywhere, has now become a point of serious conflict. While some people see the Israeli settlers as the ultimate expression of going back to the land, others perceive the diminution of human rights in the Palestinian territories as the ultimate desecration of the land. Moreover, the emphasis one finds in most Diaspora Jewish communities on the land of Israel and the state of Israel also diverts attention from land issues outside of Israel.

Despite such challenges, the past few decades have brought “the consciousness of the Earth” into Jewish ethical thought and ritual and will continue to exercise an influence over the evolution of Judaism. Whether these will lead to a transformation of the way people live in the Jewish community may well depend on two things: the development of a coherent and comprehensive ecological understanding of Judaism, and the development of broader social and technological trends that will allow our society as a whole to live in a sustainable way.

David Seidenberg

Further Reading

Bernstein, Ellen, ed. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998.

Bernstein, Ellen. The Tree’s Birthday: A Tu B’Shvat Haggadah. Philadelphia: Turtle River Press, 1988.

Bernstein, Ellen and Dan Fink, eds. Let the Earth Teach You Torah. Philadelphia: Shomrei Adamah, 1992.

Cohen, Jeremy. “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Diamond, Irene and David Seidenberg. “Sensuous Minds and the Possibility of a Jewish Ecofeminist Practice.” Ethics and the Environment 4:2 (2000), 185–95; repr. as “Recovering the Sensuous through Jewish Ecofeminist Practice.” In Arthur Waskow, ed. Torah of the Earth v.2, Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000, 245–60.

Elon, Ari, Naomi Hyman, and Arthur Waskow, eds. Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.

COEJL, ed. Operation Noah: Texts and Commentaries on Biological Diversity and Human Responsibility: A Study Guide. New York: COEJL, 1996.

COEJL, ed. To Till and To Tend: A Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action. New York: The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, 1995.

Freudenstein, Eric G. “Ecology and the Jewish Tradition.” Judaism 19:4 (1970), 406–14; repr. in Milton R. Konvitz, ed. Judaism and Human Rights. New York:

W.W. Norton, 1972, 265–74; and Marc Swetlitz, ed.

Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia, PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 29–33.

Gendler, Everett. “On the Judaism of Nature.” In James A. Sleeper and Alan L. Mintz, eds. The New Jews. New York: Random House, 1971, 233–43.; repr. in Marc Swetlitz, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 53–8.

Gordis, Robert. “Ecology in the Jewish Tradition” Mid- stream 28: Aug.–Sept. (1982), 202–21; repr. in Judaic Ethics for a Lawless World. New York: JTS, 1986; and Marc Swetlitz, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia, PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 47–52.

Green, Arthur. Seek My Face, Speak My Name. New York: Jason Aronson, 1994.

Jacobs, Mark X. “Jewish Environmentalism: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges.” In Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, 449–80.

Kinberg, Clare, ed. “Jewish Women and Land.” Special issue of Bridges 5:2 (1995).

Rauch, Eduardo, et al., ed. Special Issues on Ecology of The Melton Journal 24 and 25 (1991 & 1992).

Schwartz, Richard. Judaism and Global Survival. New York: Vantage Books, 1984; New York: Lantern Books, 2002.

Schwartz, Richard. Judaism and Vegetarianism. Smithtown: Exposition Press, 1982; New York: Lantern Books, 2001.

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Waskow, Arthur, ed. Torah of the Earth, v.1 and 2. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000.

Waskow, Arthur. “What is Eco-Kosher?” In Down to Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1995, 117–43.

Waskow, Arthur. The Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays. New York: Bantam, 1982; Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition; Ecokabbalah; Ehrenfeld, David; Gordon, Aharon David; Hasidism and Nature Mysticism; Hebrew Bible; Israel and Environmentalism; Judaism; Judaism and Sustainability; Judaism and the Population Crisis; Kabbalah and Ecotheology; National Religious Partnership for the Environment; Paganism and Judaism; Paganism – A Jewish Perspective; Redwood Rabbis; Tikkun Olam – A Jewish Imperative; Vegetarianism and Judaism; Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook; Waskow, Rabbi Arthur.

Jewish Intertestamental Literature

The theology and literature of Judaism in the Second Temple Period (ca. 200 B.C.E.–100 C.E.) was very diverse. Nevertheless many perspectives about nature were widely shared among various Jewish sects. The biblical view of nature is the foundation, but some concepts are further developed, particularly the eschatological hope for nature.

God’s Good Creation

Intertestamental Judaism continued the biblical emphasis that God created all material and spiritual things (2 Macc. 7:23; Sir. 18:1; 2 En. 48:5; T. Levi. 18:9). This is the starting point for a theology of nature. God created everything according to his wisdom (2 En. 33:3). He is the “author of beauty” (Wis. 13:3). He established the orderly patterns of nature, such as the paths of the heavenly bodies and the changing seasons (2 En. 48:4–5; 2 Bar. 21:4–11). Wisdom is present in all of creation, including heaven, Earth, and the netherworld (Sir. 24:3–7). Only God the Creator should be worshipped rather than any creature (Wis. 13; 15:18–19).

All of nature is good and serves purposes intended by God (T. Naph. 2:8; T. Iss. 3:8; Sir. 39:16–35). All creatures are “desirable” and “meet a particular need” (Sir. 42:22– 23). This does not necessarily mean that all creatures are beneficial to humans, since God uses nature both to bless the righteous and curse the wicked (Sir. 39:22–28). God is praised for his beautiful creation (Sir. 33; 39; 43). The hope of a future bodily resurrection, particularly common among Pharisees, implies the goodness of the material creation (2 Macc. 7:11, 29; 1 En. 51:1–5; 2 Bar. 50:2–4; Sib. Or. 4.181–187). However, there is an ambivalence about the body for Jewish writers influenced by Platonic thought. Philo, for example, sees the spirit as superior to the body (QG 2.56).

God Sustains Creation

God is in control of creation and is actively involved in the operation of nature. He sustains creation and “holds all things together” (Wis. 1:7; Pss. Sol. 5:9–10). The way God providentially oversees nature differs in various works: 1) God directly causes natural events (Sir. 42:21–43:33; 1 En. 101:6). 2) Angels, acting as God’s representatives, control weather, movements of stars and other aspects of nature in accordance with God’s will (1 En. 75:1–3; 80:1; 82:7–20; 2 En. 3–6; 11–17). 3) God designed nature to be autonomous, yet obedient to his will (1 En. 2–5; 69:16–25; Sir. 39:28–31; Wis. 16–19).

Many works stress the consistent and perfect operation of nature. In apocalypses with a heavenly journey, the visionary learns the hidden secrets of the operation of the cosmos. The Astronomical Book (AB, 1 En. 72–80) describes the movements of the heavenly bodies in great detail. The unchanging patterns are completed “with precision” according to God’s “commandments” (1 En. 72–75; 79:1–2; cf. Pss. Sol. 18:10–12; Sir. 16:27; 18:1–4). The

Book of Parables (BP, 1 En. 37–71) describes a cosmic covenant that God made to guarantee the consistent operation of the cosmos (1 En. 69:16–25).

Types of Intertestamental Literature

Jewish non-canonical literature from the Second Temple Period (ca. 200 B.C.E.–100 C.E.) is vast and theologically diverse. Variations in theological perspectives are due to different biblical interpretations, the growing oral Law tradition and varying degrees of Hellenistic influence. Many works are pseudepigraphical – written from the perspective of a great historical religious figure, such as Moses, Enoch and the Patriarchs of Israel.

There are several types of Jewish religious literature in this period: 1) Histories were often written with a polemical purpose: 1 Maccabees (1 Macc.) and 2 Maccabees (2 Macc.) describe the Maccabean revolt and exalt the Hasmonean priest-kings. Josephus’ Antiquities (Josephus, Ant.) cover Jewish history from biblical times through the destruction of Jerusalem (70) to help the conquering Romans better understand the Jews. 2) Wisdom literature is patterned after biblical wisdom books, but reflects Hellenistic influences: Wisdom of Solomon (Wis.) and Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach (Sir.). 3) Apocalypses were common because the occupied and oppressed Jews hoped for God’s intervention at the end of history to bring deliverance from suffering and a golden age. 1 Enoch consists of five books written by multiple authors over 200 years: Book of Watchers (BW, chs. 1–36), Book of Parables (BP, chs. 37–71), Astronomical Book (AB, chs. 72–82), Animal Apocalypse (AA, chs. 83–90) and Epistle of Enoch (chs. 91–107). Other important apocalypses include 2 Enoch (2 En.), 2 Baruch (2 Bar.), 4 Ezra (4 Ez.) and Sibylline Oracles (Sib. Or.). 4) Legends and expansions on biblical stories often included significant apocalyptic sections: Jubilees (Jub.), Life of Adam and Eve (LAE), Apocalypse of Moses (Apoc. Mos.) and Tobit (Tob.). 5) Psalms show pious Jewish reflections on the conquest of Jerusalem in the first century B.C.E.: Psalms of Solomon (Pss. Sol.). 6) Testaments combine ethical wisdom and apocalyptic predictions in the form of the pseudepigraphical final words of a dying religious leader: Assumption of Moses (As. Mos.) and Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, including Levi (T. Levi.), Judah (T. Jud.), Issachar (T. Iss.), Zebulon (T. Zeb.) and Naphtali (T. Naph.). 7) Philo’s philosophical writings and allegorical biblical com- mentaries argue that Platonic and Stoic ideas can be deduced from the writings of Moses: Eternity/De Aeternitate Mundi (Aet), Creation/De Opificio Mundi (Opif), Questions and Answers on Genesis (QG) and Life of Moses (Mos). 8) Qumran sectarian writings from the Essene community near the Dead Sea include biblical commentaries, apocalypses and ethical rules for the community: Thanksgiving Hymns (1QH), War Scroll (1QM), Manual of Discipline (1QS) and Cairo Damascus Document (CD).

Harry Hahne

The consistency and obedience of nature to God’s design is an example for humans to emulate (1 En. 2–5; 101; Sir. 16:24–17:24). The luminaries “do not alter” their paths and “do not transgress,” unlike people who sin and rebel against God (1 En. 2:1–2; 5:3).

Creation shows God’s glory. The wise person contemplates and understands the created order. Reflection on nature shows that God created nature, teaches ethical lessons, and encourages praise of the Creator for his glory reflected in nature (1 En. 101; Sir. 17:8–10; 43:1–5; Wis.

13; 2 Macc. 7:28). God’s wisdom gives understanding of the cycles of nature, seasons, patterns of the stars, characteristics of various animals and healing virtues of plants (Wis. 7:15–22; 1QH 1:11–12; 1 En. 2–5).

The Human Relationship with Nature

The biblical theme that God gave humanity dominion over nature (Gen. 1:26–28) is prominent in Intertestamental literature (Sir. 17:1–12; Jub. 2:14; 4 Ez. 7:11; 2 Bar. 14:18– 19). God commanded humanity to “cultivate much of the Earth and enjoy an abundance of its fruits” (Josephus Ant. 1:110). Since men and women were created in God’s image, they are entrusted with responsibility over nature. “The Lord appointed him over everything as king, and he subjected everything to him in subservience under his hand” (2 En. 58:3). Dominion includes not only animals as in Gen 1:26, but even heavenly bodies which God created to serve people (4 Ez. 6:45–46).

But human dominion is not a license to exploit nature. Humans are accountable to God for how they exercise dominion over nature, comparable to how a governor responsible for a territory reports to the king (Philo, Opif 83–88; cf. 2 En. 58:3–59:6). Sira and Philo minimize the impact of the Fall on the human relationship with nature. Human superiority over animals continued after Adam’s sin (Sir. 17:2–4; QG 2.56).

There are different views about whether God created the world for its own sake or for the benefit of humanity. Many works see all creatures as desirable and good for their own sake, even when they have no positive benefit for humans (T. Naph. 2:8; Sir. 39:16–35; 42:22–23). But some later works indicate that the world was made for the sake of humanity (4 Ez. 7:11; 2 Bar. 14:18–19), particu- larly the righteous of Israel (4 Ez. 6:55–59; 2 Bar. 15:7;

21:24; As. Mos. 1:12–17).

Land theology is important in this period, although not as prominent as in the Hebrew Bible. The land has great value and significance. The people of God have a special and profound connection with the land of Israel. The land of Israel is holy, blessed, good, and more precious than other lands because it is God’s own possession (Wis. 13:3–7; Tob. 14:4, 5; Jub. 13:2, 6; 1 En. 27:1; 89:40; 2 Bar.

65:9–10; 71:1; Sib. Or. 3:266). Even in war the land must be honored (1QM 2). The biblical laws of Sabbatical and Jubilee years (Ex. 23:10; 25:4–6; Lev. 25:8–22) require the land to lie fallow every seventh and fiftieth year (1 Macc. 6).

Since the land is holy, God’s people must be holy in order to dwell in the land (Jub. 15:28; 20:4; 50:5; Wis. 12:3–11; 1QS 1:5; 8:3). The land is defiled by the sins of those who dwell there (Jub. 7:33; 16:5–6; 23:18; 4 Ez. 9:19–20; 2 Bar. 44:9). Persistent sin causes God to remove his blessing from the land so it becomes less fruitful and even desolate (Jub. 23:18; CD 2:9–11; 4:10; 2 Bar. 62:4–5; 66:2–5). The Qumran sectarians believed that the land was unclean because of the disobedience of Israel to God. Hence God preserved the sect as a righteous remnant in the wilderness to purify and “atone for the land” (1QS 8:7, 10; CD 2:9–11; 4:10). Apocalyptic writings (including those at Qumran) look forward to an eschatological time of perfect righteousness, often associated with the messianic kingdom, during which the land will become superproductive (Pss. Sol. 17:26–28; 2 Bar. 71:1; 1 En.


Apocalyptic writings extend land theology to include the entire created order. Human sin defiles the Earth (Jub. 7:33; 16:5–6; 23:18; 4 Ez. 9:19–20; 2 Bar. 44:9). Wide- spread evil prior to the Flood and in the last days causes profound changes to the natural order, such as altered seasons and changes in the growth of plants (2 En. 70:5–7; 1 En. 80; Jub. 23:14–16; 4 Ez. 5:1–13).

Because of the human dominion over nature and the close solidarity between the people and the land, God often uses nature to judge wicked people. Weather, famine, pestilence, wild animals and other aspects of nature can be instruments of judgment (Sir. 39; 43; Wis. 16:1–6; 1 En. 100:1–13; Philo, Mos 96–146). God uses suffering caused by nature to urge people to repent (Wis. 12:8–11). Throughout Israel’s history, nature joined with God to defeat the enemies of God’s people (Wis. 5:17–23). God punishes idolaters through the very creatures they esteem as gods (Wis. 12:27). Many writers anticipate a period of cosmic disasters and intense suffering that will precede the coming of the Messiah and the new age (Jub. 23:23; 2 Bar. 70:8; As. Mos. 10:5–6; Sib. Or. 3:672).

Ecological Responsibility

Many Jewish writings hold humans and fallen angels accountable for sins against nature. The stress on obedience to all the commandments of the Torah (Sir. 24:23; T. Jud. 26:1; As. Mos. 12:10; Tob. 4:5; 2 Macc. 6:8–

7:1) implicitly includes the commandments regarding responsible care for animals and the land.

Specific ecological sins are also described. Some social ethics lists include a concern for the treatment of animals (Sir. 7:22). “Have compassion on all, not only human beings, but also dumb animals” (T. Zeb. 5:1). Do not ignore the needs of an animal in distress, but have sympathy for its pain (Josephus, Ant., IV.8.30). 2 Enoch has a strong concern for animal rights. The subjection of nature to humanity is balanced with an accountability to God for proper treatment of animals (58:3–59:6). “Human souls he will judge for the sake of the souls of their animals” (58:4). God will judge people according to how they have treated animals. During the judgment, animals will accuse the people who have mistreated them: “Every kind of animal soul will accuse the humans who have fed them badly” (59:6). Specific sins against animals include inadequately feeding domestic animals, improperly preparing animals before killing them for sacrifice, harm done to animals in secret, and “despising any of the Lord’s creatures” (52:6; 59:1–6). Sinning against an animal harms a person’s soul much like harming or murdering a human (59:1–5; 60:1).

Gentiles as well as Jews will be judged for sins against nature. God will judge people for abusing nature and for ungratefulness for God’s material provision. “You nations and tribes are guilty . . . because you have used creation unrighteously” (2 Bar. 13:11). God provides for the physical needs of people, but they are ungrateful and deny that the blessings of the natural world come from God (2 Bar. 13:12).

The wickedness of the pre-Flood era included ecological sins. In the Book of Watchers (BW, 1 En. 6–11), fallen angels (“Watchers”) and their offspring, the Giants, commit numerous sins against nature. In their insatiable hunger, they crave more produce than people can grow. As a result they eat people and “sin against birds, wild beasts, reptiles, and fish” (1 En. 7:5). The word translated “sin against” suggests a violent assault on the animal kingdom, since “they poured out much blood upon the Earth.” Their offense was not merely eating animals, which was not of itself sinful to most Jews. They committed an excessive and violent assault against the animals, so that they ate everything in sight. The proper balance of creation was upset so that animals and the defiled Earth itself cry out to God for release from oppression (1 En. 7:6; 9:3). The Flood was a divine judgment to cleanse the Earth of this wickedness.

Jubilees claims the ecological sins and other evil of Watchers, humans and animals resulted in the divine judgment of the Flood. Even animals are accountable for violating God’s design and thus were wiped out by the Flood (5:2–3). Humans were accountable for ecological sins when they “sinned against beasts and birds” (7:23– 24). Jubilees also has a concern for the proper treatment of plants. In the instructions Noah gave his sons after the Flood, he tells them not to pick the fruit of new plants for three years and to offer the fourth year’s fruit as an offering to God (7:35–37). The reasons are both ethical and pragmatic: “you will be righteous and all that you plant shall prosper” (7:37). Proper treatment of plants is a moral and spiritual requirement that results in more productive crops as part of God’s blessing.

Several writings show that the biblical laws of Sabbatical and Jubilee years were often followed during this period (1 Macc. 6; Josephus, Ant., iii 12.3.282–283; Philo, QG 3.39; Jub. 50:1–4). During these special years the land was to lie fallow and no produce was to be gathered. The land should be treated with respect and care rather than used selfishly by humans. These laws show respect for the cycles of plant life and faith that God will provide material needs when people honor the land. In the Jubilee year, real estate is to be returned to its original owners, as a reminder that land belongs to God, not individuals.

The Effect of Sin on Nature

Although some works stress the perfect operation of nature, most see creation as corrupted by sin to some degree and at least partially changed from God’s original design.

Wisdom books (Sir. and Wis. Sol.) and some heavenly journey apocalypses (AB; 1 En. 1–5) stress the perfection and consistent operation of nature. “Creation serves you who made it” (Wis. 17:24). Wisdom 1:14 says there is no evil in nature and no impact from evil spiritual forces. Sirach 17:1–12 modifies the Genesis story to minimize the impact of the human Fall on nature. Death was part of the original creation, not the result of the Fall (contra Gen. 2:17; 3:19). God created Adam and Eve to live only “a few days, a limited” time. God’s pronouncement that humans would return to dust is not a punishment for sin (Gen. 3:19), but a part of God’s original intention. The human dominion over nature was not diminished or changed by the Fall. AB stresses the perfect consistency of the movements of the heavenly luminaries and patterns of the weather (1 En. 72:1–80:1; cf.1 En. 2–5; Sir. 16:27; 18:1–4).

In these works, everything continues as it has since creation, and human sin has not affected the operation of nature.

However, many works stress that creation was in some sense corrupted by sin, so it no longer operates entirely as it did before the Fall. This view is particularly common among apocalypses. There is a tension between God’s reign over nature as his good creation and the cosmic disorder that sin introduces.

One major stream points to human sin as the cause of the corruption of creation. There are several views of the source of the damage to nature: 1) the Fall (Jub.; 4 Ez.; 2 Bar.; Ap. Mos.); 2) widespread evil in the pre-Flood generation (Jub.; 2 En.; BP); 3) human sin throughout history (BW; AB; 4 Ez.; 2 Bar.); and 4) increased human sin in the eschatological era (AB; Jub.; 4 Ez.; 2 Bar.).

In many Jewish writings, the human Fall had a profound effect on the natural world. Nature was profoundly changed when Adam disobeyed God, since humans were given dominion over nature (4 Ez. 7:11). This concept originates with Gen. 3:16–19, which describes the curse resulting from the Fall: death, pain of women in childbearing, and the curse on the ground resulting in the need of hard labor to grow crops (Jub. 3:24–25; 4:28; Apoc. Mos. 14:2; 25:1–3; 28:3; 4 Ez. 3:7; 7:15; LAE 26:2). Some works go beyond Genesis and ascribe all suffering, plagues, injuries, sickness, famine and even unpleasant weather to the Fall (Jub. 23:12–15; 4 Ez. 7:12–13; LAE 34:2; Apoc. Mos. 8:2). The nature of animals changed after the Fall, so they rebelled against human dominion (Apoc. Mos. 24:4–6) and lost the ability to speak (Jub. 3:28; 12:25–26).

Human sin throughout history also corrupts creation. It is not merely ecological sins that harm the environment, but also the overall spiritual state of humanity. Sin “defiles,” “spoils” and “pollutes” the Earth so that it needs cleansing (Jub. 7:33; 16:5–6; 23:18; 4 Ez. 9:19–20; 2 Bar.

44:9). Throughout Israelite history, the land was cursed or blessed depending on the sin or righteousness of those who dwelt in the land (Jub. 23:18; 2 Bar. 61:7; 62:4–5). In the pre-Flood generation human sin was so profound that “all the Earth changed its seasons and every tree and every fruit changed their seeds” (2 En. 70:5–7). The increase in sin in the last days will be accompanied by profound cosmic changes (1 En. 80; Jub. 23:14–16; 4 Ez. 5:1–3).

Due to the solidarity between humanity and nature, when humans sin, the natural world is corrupted and when the people of God are righteous, the land is prosperous. Several factors account for this solidarity: 1) Human beings were created from the dust of the Earth and thus share a natural, material dimension with nature (4 Ez. 7:62, 116; cf. Gen. 2:7). 2) In some works, the world was made for the sake of humanity (4 Ez. 6:55–59; 7:11; 2 Bar.

14:18–19; 15:7; 21:24). 3) Most importantly, God gave humanity dominion over nature. Thus, as in Genesis 3:15–19, when humanity fell into sin, nature suffered as well (4 Ez. 7:11). Nature is affected whenever humanity fails to live as God intended, since humanity is the caretaker of the world.

Another important stream explaining the corruption of nature is the fallen Watcher tradition. The seminal passage is 1 En. 6–11, which is an expansion of Gen. 6:1–4. The motif is also found in later sections of 1 Enoch (Animal Apocalypse [83–90], BP, AB), as well as 2 Enoch and Jubilees. The problems of a corrupt world are blamed on the fall of the angels (“Watchers”) rather than fall of the first humans. The sinful actions and teachings of the Watchers “corrupted” or “defiled” the Earth (1 En. 10:7–8, 20; 106:17; 2 En. 18:4). Their fall introduced death, disease, birth defects and psychological disorders to creation. It produced cosmic irregularities, such as aberrations in the movements of heavenly luminaries, earthquakes, crop failures and disturbances among animals (1 En. 6–16; 69:11–12; 2 En. 70:7). Even animals were corrupted by the Watchers and began to pervert the way of life that God intended, possibly indicating that some animals became carnivorous (Jub. 5:1–3; 1 En. 69:1–15). In some works, these aberrations were corrected after the Flood (2 En.

70:7), but in others the effects were permanent (1 En. 69:12).

The material world is generally not considered inherently evil or “fallen” in Second Temple Jewish writings. Nature is usually a victim of the sins of humans or fallen angels. The personified Earth cries out in pain for release from the harm done to it (1 En. 7:6; 9:2; 87:1; 106:17; Jub. 4:3). Nature is corrupted and oppressed by sin, but it does not become evil itself. Nevertheless, in a few instances some parts of nature disobey God’s design and are held morally accountable (1 En. 17–36; 80; Jub. 5:2–20). But this is an aberration due to the influence of human and angelic sin in the pre-Flood era or the end of history, not the normal state of nature. Philo goes further than most writers of this period to emphasize the superiority of spirit over body (QG 2.56). Nevertheless, he does not go as far as later Gnostics, who see the material world as inherently evil.

The Redemption of Nature

The diversity in Jewish Second Temple literature is most marked in eschatology. In wisdom literature and other works that see no cosmic impact of sin, there is no need for the redemption of nature since creation already works perfectly (Pss. Sol. 18:10–12). Apocalypses that describe the perfect, hidden workings of nature (AB, BP) generally imply this will continue as long as the world exists. Despite the sins of the Watchers, the perfect cosmic patterns will continue “forever,” “unto eternity, till the new creation” (1 En. 69:16–26; 72:1). In this view, although there will be a new creation, it is not due to any defect or damage in the present creation. In wisdom literature, the world will be saved by increasing the number of wise people, rather than through an eschatological divine intervention (Wis. 6:24).

Yet a significant number of Jewish writings expect that one day God will deliver creation from the damage caused by sin. The prophetic hope of an eschatological “new heavens and Earth” (Isa. 65:17–22; cf. 11:6–10) was expanded during this period, particularly in apocalyptic literature. In the new age, the natural world will be redeemed and transformed into great glory.

There are several views of how the new creation will come: (1) God will create a new Earth (Apocalypse of Weeks [AW, 1 En. 91, 93], AB). (2) The present creation will be transformed (BW; Pss. Sol. 17). (3) Some works combine both ideas without resolving the tension (Jub.; BP; 4 Ez.; 2 Bar.). The primary focus is the character of the changes to nature rather than how God will bring them about. Sometimes “new creation” refers to the renewal and cleansing of creation rather than a destruction of the present world and the creation of a new one (4 Ez. 6:13–28; 7:30–31; 2 Bar. 32:1–6). Jubilees 1:29 defines “new creation” as the time when “heaven and Earth and all their creatures shall be renewed.” Even Philo refers to a new creation without this world being destroyed (Aet 75–85).

There will be fundamental and permanent changes in the operation of nature in the new age. The damage done to nature by the fall of humans and angels and by ongoing human sin will be reversed. The curse on the ground from the Fall (Gen. 3:15–19) will be removed. Death, suffering and disease will be eliminated (1 En. 6:16; 45:4–5; 69:26–

29; 2 En. 65:8–10; 4 Ez. 6:25–28; 2 Bar. 73:2–7) or humans will live extremely long lives (Jub. 23:26–28). Plants will produce many times their normal fruit without painful human labor (1 En. 10:17–22; 2 En. 8:2–7; 2 Bar.

29:3–8; Sib. Or. 3.744, 750). Wild animals will become tame and obedient and will no longer harm people (Jub. 1:29; 2 En. 58:4–6; 2 Bar. 73:6). The heavenly luminaries will become brighter and perfectly consistent in their movements (Jub. 1:29; AW). The description of the transformed creation evokes images of a return to Eden in which the last things will be like the first things or even greater (T. Dan. 5:12–13; T. Levi. 18:10–11; Ap. Mos. 28:4).

Many works expect the resurrection of humans, which affirms the value of the material realm to God (4 Ez. 7:32; 2 Bar. 32:1–6; 1 En. 51:1–5; 2 Macc. 7:11, 29; Ap. Mos.

10:2; Sib. Or. 4.181–187). The resurrected bodies of the righteous will be transformed into great glory (2 Bar. 51:3–5). Although some works emphasize the eternal spiritual existence of the souls of the righteous (1 En. 103:3; 2 Bar. 51:1–16), many promise a material dimension to the eternal state of the righteous. Their glorified bodies will enable the righteous to dwell on the transformed Earth (1 En. 51:5; Ap. Mos. 13:2–4; Sib. Or. 4.187– 190). Even references to the souls of the righteous can be accompanied by descriptions of the transformed Earth and the expectation that the righteous will have access to both heaven and the new Earth (1 En. 45:3–6).

Nature will only be perfected when humanity becomes righteous and obedient to God’s will (1 En. 10:17; 45:3–6). This will happen either during a temporary messianic golden age (1 En. 91:13; Jub. 1:28–29; 23:24–30; 4 Ez.

7:29; 2 Bar. 29:3–8) or in the eternal new creation (1 En.

10:25–32; 91:16; 4 Ez. 7:31–33; 2 Bar. 44:12–15). Nature can only function as God designed when humanity lives as God intends, due to the human solidarity with nature and the human dominion over nature.

Harry Hahne

Further Reading

Argall, Randal A. 1 Enoch and Sirach: A Comparative Literary and Conceptual Analysis of the Themes of Revelation, Creation and Judgment. SBL Early Judaism and Its Literature. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.

Betz, H.D. “On the Problem of the Religious-Historical Understanding of Apocalypticism.” Journal of Theology and the Church 6 (1969), 146–59.

Cohen, Jeremy. “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1989.

Collins, John J. Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age.

Louisville, KY: Westminster, 1997, 196–221.

Collins, John J. Seers, Sybils and Sages in HellenisticRoman Judaism. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1997, 317–38.

Davies, W.D. The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine. Berkeley: University of California, 1974.

Hahne, Harry Alan. The Corruption and Redemption of Creation: The Natural World in Romans 8:19–22 and Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2004.

Murphy, Roland E. “Wisdom and Creation.” Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985), 3–11.

Stone, Michael E. Features of the Eschatology of IV Ezra. Harvard Semitic Studies, no. 35. Frank Moore Cross, ed. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989.

See also: Creation Myths of the Ancient World; Creation Story in the Hebrew Bible; Fall, The; Hebrew Bible; Judaism.

Jewish Law and Animal Experimentation

Judaism is fundamentally a religion of law and posits regulations governing virtually every facet of human endeavor. The ultimate source of this corpus of law is divine legislation transmitted through both the Written and Oral Law. To this were added numerous rabbinic enactments and decrees designed to prevent encroachment upon biblical prohibitions as well as to promote human welfare and the well-being of society.

In light of the comprehensive nature of the areas of conduct regulated by Jewish law, the apparent absence of normative regulations governing animal experimentation might well be regarded as indicative of the absence of serious ethical concern for the welfare of members of the animal kingdom. But this is demonstrably not the case, for, in Jewish teaching, there is no dearth of nomoi designed to protect and promote animal welfare. The most obvious example of a regulation having such an effect is contained in the verse “If you see the ass of him that hates you lying under its burden, you shall forbear to pass by him; you shall surely release it with him” (Ex. 23:5, see also Deut. 22:4). The selfsame concern is manifest in the prohibition against muzzling an ox while it threshes in order that the animal be free to eat of the produce while working (Deut. 25:4). Similarly, scripture provides that both domestic animals and wild beasts must be permitted to share in produce of the land that grows without cultivation during the Sabbatical year. Talmudic exegesis understands Genesis 9:4 and Deuteronomy 12:23 as forbidding the eating of a limb severed from a living animal. Jewish law teaches that this prohibition is universally binding upon all people as one of the Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah. Sabbath laws contained in both formulations of the Decalogue reflect a concern which goes beyond the mere elimination of pain and discomfort and serve to promote the welfare of animals in a positive manner by providing for their rest on the Sabbath day: “But the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord your God, on it you shall not do any manner of work . . . nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle . . .” (Deut. 5:14). Even more explicit in expressing concern for the welfare of animals is the verse “. . . but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your ass may have rest” (Ex. 23:12). Nevertheless, it does not necessarily follow that a general obligation to be kind to animals, or, minimally, a duty to refrain from cruelty to animals, can be inferred from any of these biblical regulations or even from all of them collectively. These regulations have been understood by some of the Sages of the Talmud as establishing particular duties, not as expressions of a more general duty.

Yet, Judaism most certainly does posit an unequivocal prohibition against causing cruelty to animals. The Gemara, BT Baba Metzi’a 32b, declares that assistance not encompassed within the ambit of the commandment concerning “unloading” (p’rikah) a burden carried by an animal is required by virtue of a general biblical principle prohibiting cruelty to animals.

It is nevertheless probably incorrect to conclude that concern for “tza’ar ba’alei chayyim” (pain of living creatures) is predicated upon a legal or moral concept of animal “rights.” Certainly, in Jewish law no less than in other systems of law, neither the animal nor its guardian is granted persona standi in judicio (i.e., the animal lacks capacity to institute judicial proceedings to prevent others from engaging in acts of cruelty of which it may be the victim). In all likelihood, the rationale governing strictures against tza’ar ba’alei chayyim is concern for the moral welfare of the human agent rather than concern for the physical welfare of animals; the underlying concern is the need to purge inclinations of cruelty and to develop compassion in human beings. Thus, Maimonides, in The Guide For the Perplexed, (3:17) states that the duty with regard to tza’ar ba’alei chayyim is set down with a view to perfecting us that we should not acquire moral habits of cruelty and should not inflict pain gratuitously, but that we should intend to be kind and merciful even with a chance animal individual except in case of need.

The concern expressed in rabbinic sources is that cruelty to animals consequentially engenders an indiscriminately cruel disposition. Acts of cruelty mold character in a manner that leads to spontaneously cruel behavior. Tza’ar

ba’alei chayyim is forbidden because cruelty is a character trait that is to be eschewed. Practicing kindness vis-à-vis animals has the opposite effect and serves to instill character traits of kindness and compassion.

Since the concern is for the moral and spiritual health of the human agent rather than for the protection of brute creatures, it is not at all surprising that concern for tza’ar ba’alei chayyim is less than absolute.

The most obvious exception is the slaughtering of animals for meat, which is specifically permitted by scripture to Noah and his progeny: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you” (Gen. 9:3). Maimonides regards this exception as circumscribed by the provisions surrounding the requirement for ritual slaughter in order to eliminate pain.

Jewish law, at least in its normative formulation, sanctions the infliction of pain upon animals when the act that causes pain is designed to further a legitimate human purpose. This is evident from two rulings recorded in Shulchan Arukh. The Rema (R. Moses Isserles, 1530–1572) on Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 24:8, rules that, prior to slaughtering sheep, the wool covering the area where the neck is to be slit should be removed in order to enable the act of slaughter to be performed in the prescribed manner. Shakh (R. Shabtai ha-Kohen, 1621–1662), Yoreh De’ah 24:8, extends the same requirement to the slaughter of fowl and requires that feathers be plucked from the throat of fowl prior to slaughter. Rema, Shulchan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer 5:14, states even more explicitly:

Anything which is necessary in order to effect a cure or for other matters does not entail [a violation] of the prohibition against tza’ar ba’alei chayyim. Therefore, it is permitted to pluck feathers from geese and there is no concern on account of tza’ar ba’alei chayyim. But nevertheless people refrain [from doing so] because it constitutes cruelty.

A somewhat modified position is espoused by R. Yosef T’umim, Pri M’gadim, Orach Chayyim, Mishb’tzot Zahav 468:2. Pri M’gadim reports that his advice was sought by an individual who maintained exotic birds in his garden and was fearful that they might take flight. The interlocutor sought a ruling with regard to the propriety of breaking “a small bone in their wings” in order to render them incapable of flight and prevent financial loss to their keeper. Pri M’gadim’s response was negative for, in his opinion, “tza’ar ba’alei chayyim, other than in case of great need, is forbidden.” Apparently, Pri M’gadim distinguishes between ordinary “need” or “benefit” and “great need” and sanctions tza’ar ba’alei chayyim only in the latter situation. In a similar vein, T’shuvot Avodat haGershuni no. 13 quotes a certain R. Tevel the Physician as declaring that tza’ar ba’alei chayyim cannot be sanctioned for purposes of realizing “a small profit.”

There is also some controversy with regard to the nature of the need or benefit that is deemed to warrant causing pain to animals. Issur v’Heter he’Arukh 59:36 permits tza’ar ba’alei chayyim only for therapeutic purposes, including procedures necessary for the treatment of even non-life-threatening maladies. Thus, Issur v’Heter apparently regards tza’ar ba’alei chayyim which is designed to serve other needs (e.g., financial profit) as improper and forbidden.

Among latter-day authorities, R. Yitzchak Dov Bamberger is quoted by R. Jacob Ettlinger, T’shuvot Binyan Tzion no. 108, as asserting that Rema permits tza’ar ba’alei chayyim “only when there is need for medical purposes even for a patient who is not dangerously ill, but we have not found that he permitted tza’ar ba’alei chayyim for financial profit.” Rabbi Ettlinger himself, however, distinguishes between “great pain” and “minor pain” and permits minor pain for other “definite” benefits as well. R. Eliyahu Klatzkin (1852–1932), T’shuvot Imrei Shefer no. 34, sec. 1, adopts an intermediate position in stating that Rema intended to permit tza’ar ba’alei chayyim for medical purposes or for purposes of similar importance and necessity, but not simply for the purpose of financial gain. Nevertheless, the majority of rabbinic authorities regard financial gain as a legitimate “need” or “benefit” which, at least as a matter of law, may be fostered even in face of resultant pain to the animal.

Despite his ruling that plucking feathers from a live bird for use as quills is permitted as a matter of law, Rema adds the comment that people refrain from doing so because of the inherent cruelty involved in this practice. The immediate source of both this caveat and the normative rules regarding the plucking of feathers is the fifteenth-century rabbinic decisor, R. Israel Isserlein, T’rumat haDeshen, P’sakim uK’tavim no. 105.

The talmudic source cited by T’rumat haDeshen is an anecdote concerning R. Judah the Prince related by the Gemara, B.T. Baba Metzi’a 85a. R. Judah suffered excruciating pain for many years until the pain subsided suddenly. In the following narrative, the Gemara explains why the suffering was ultimately alleviated:

A calf, when it was being taken to slaughter, went and hung its head under Rabbi [Judah]’s cloak and cried. He said to it, “Go, for this were you created.” [In heaven] they said, “Since he has no mercy, let suffering come down upon him.” . . . One day Rabbi [Judah]’s maidservant was sweeping the house; some young weasels were lying there and she was sweeping them away. Rabbi [Judah] said to her, “Let them be, as it is written ‘And His tender mercies are over all His works’ (Psalms 145:9).” [In heaven] they said, “Since he is compassionate, let us be compassionate to him.”

Reflected in this account, and in the halakhic principle derived herefrom, is the distinction between normative law and ethical conduct above and beyond the requirements of law (lifnim mishurat hadin). In its normative law, Judaism codifies standards applicable to everyone and makes no demands that are beyond the capacity of the common man; but, at the same time, Jewish teaching recognizes that, ideally, human beings must aspire to a higher level of conduct. That higher standard is posited as a moral desideratum, albeit a norm which is not enforceable by human courts. Not every person succeeds in reaching a degree of moral excellence such that he perceives the need and obligation to conduct himself in accordance with that higher standard. Those who do attain such a level of moral perfection are obliged, at least in the eyes of Heaven, to conduct themselves in accordance with that higher standard. No human court can inquire into the degree of moral perfection attained by a particular individual and, hence, such a court cannot apply varying standards to different persons. The heavenly court, however, is in a position to do so and, accordingly, will punish a person who does not comport himself in accordance with the degree of moral perfection which he has attained.

R. Yechiel Ya’akov Weinberg, S’ridei Esh, III:7, hastens to point out that Rema’s cautionary statement with regard to normatively permitted forms of tza’ar ba’alei chayyim should not be construed as applicable to medical experimentation. In a short comment, S’ridei Esh rejects the application of Rema’s remarks to medical experimentation for what really are three distinct reasons: 1) moral stringencies beyond the requirements of law are personal in nature; a person may accept stringencies of piety for himself but may not impose them upon others; 2) elimination of pain and suffering of human beings takes precedence over considerations of animal pain; 3) the concern for avoiding pain to animals even when it is halakhically permitted to cause such pain is germane only at the cost of forgoing benefit to an individual but not when benefit may accrue to the public at large.

S’ridei Esh’s comments are in opposition to the view expressed by Chelkat Ya’akov, I:30, sec. 6, to the effect that, although medical experimentation upon animals is certainly permissible as a matter of law, nevertheless, in accordance with Rema’s caveat, it is proper to refrain from inflicting pain upon animals even for such purposes. More recently, a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Israel, R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Tzitz Eli’ezer, XIV:68, found no difficulty in supporting medical experimentation upon animals but urged that pain be minimized insofar as possible.

R. Judah Leib Zirelson, Ma’arkhei Lev no. 110, draws a much broader distinction between the conduct frowned upon by Rema and other uses to which animals may be put without breach of even the “trait of piety” commended by Rema. According to Ma’arkhei Lev, the crucial factor is the element of necessity. Quills may be removed from dead fowl as readily as from live ones. Hence, plucking feathers from a live bird is an entirely unnecessary act of cruelty, even though the act itself serves a human purpose. However, in a situation in which there exists a need which otherwise cannot be satisfied, it is not improper to cause discomfort to animals, and refraining from doing so does not even constitute an act of piety. R. Judah was punished, asserts Ma’arkhei Lev, because his sharp and impulsive remark was entirely gratuitous.

In conclusion, it may be stated that Jewish law clearly forbids any act that causes pain or discomfort to an animal unless such act is designed to satisfy a legitimate human need. Accordingly, all authorities agree that hunting as a sport is forbidden. Although many authorities maintain that it is not forbidden to engage in activities that cause pain to animals in situations in which such practices yield financial benefits, there is significant authority for the position that animal pain may be sanctioned only for medical purposes, including direct therapeutic benefit, medical experimentation of potential therapeutic value and the training of medical personnel. A fortiori, those who eschew the latter position would not sanction painful procedures for the purpose of testing or perfecting cosmetics. An even larger body of authority refuses to sanction the infliction of pain upon animals when the desired benefit can be acquired in an alternative manner, when the procedure involves “great pain,” when the benefit does not serve to satisfy a “great need,” or when the benefit derived is not commensurate with the measure of pain to which the animal is subjected. Even when the undertaking is designed to promote human welfare, there is greater justification for causing the swift and painless death of an animal than for subjecting it to procedures that cause suffering to a live animal.

Judaism recognizes moral imperatives that establish standards more stringent than the standard of conduct imposed by law. According to the view of most authorities, those moral imperatives should prompt humanity to renounce cruelty to animals even when the contemplated procedure would serve to promote human welfare.

Medical experimentation designed to produce therapeutic benefit to humankind constitutes an exception to this principle and is endorsed by virtually all rabbinic authorities. Nevertheless, as stated by R. Eliezer Waldenberg, it is no more than proper that, whenever possible, such experimentation be conducted in a manner such that any unnecessary pain is avoided and, when appropriate, the animal subject should be anesthetized.

J. David Bleich

Further Reading

Bleich, J. David. Contemporary Halalchic Problems, vol. 3. New York: Ktav Publishing/Yeshiva University Press, 1989.

Rosner, Fred. Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law. Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2001.

See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition; Maimonides; Vegetarianism and Judaism.

Jewish Law and Environmental Protection

Jewish law or halakhah is a living legal tradition whose history reaches back to ancient biblical times. Like any other system of law, the course of the halakhah’s growth and development has been shaped by the practical issues facing its adherents. The modern preoccupation with environmental protection is largely a reaction to the dangers posed by relatively recent technological change. The halakhah was first codified around the year 200 in a legal compilation called the Mishnah. Rabbi Joseph Caro composed its last major codification, the Shulchan Arukh, in the sixteenth century. It is therefore hardly surprising that “environmental protection” per se does not constitute a well-defined category in Jewish law. Furthermore, in recent times the halakhah has nowhere achieved jurisdiction over questions of governmental policy such as land-use, emissions standards, etc. Of late, the halakhah’s creative energies have been devoted to solving pressing issues of personal importance to the faithful (e.g., medical ethics) rather than to forging theoretical stands on issues of state policy which would not be binding on any presently existing government. Nonetheless, traditional halakhic literature includes rulings and principles that offer a firm foundation for the development of a comprehensive Jewish law of the environment. A number of concepts and principles from Jewish law are of immediate relevance for environmental concerns.

Bal tashchit (“Don’t destroy”)

According to Deuteronomy 20:19–20,

When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them . . . Only trees which you know do not yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siege-works. (New Jewish Publication Society of America translation. Unless otherwise indicated all subsequent quotations have been translated by the author.)

These verses are understood in Jewish law as prohibiting all wanton destruction of fruit trees, in times of peace as well as in war. Although purposeful destruction of fruit trees is permitted for various economic and other reasons, it has always been frowned upon and thought to bring misfortune. For instance, when Rabbi Ya’akov Emden (d. 1776) was asked whether a grapevine could be uprooted to allow for the planned expansion of a synagogue, he suggested that they replant the vine elsewhere rather than destroy it outright.

The law against destroying fruit trees is seen as offering a biblical foundation for the legal principle of Bal tashchit (Hebrew for “don’t destroy”), a very broad prohibition of the wanton destruction of anything that may be of utility to human beings. Bal tashchit may be understood as placing an important limitation on usual notions of legal ownership. Mere ownership of natural resources does not allow one to waste them. This limitation reflects both the theological notion that all that exists ultimately belongs to God rather than to humans, as well as the ethical principle that one must avoid destroying resources that are potentially valuable to other human beings. In the words of the anonymous thirteenth-century Sefer ha-Chinukh, righteous people love peace and rejoice in the welfare of others . . . they would not destroy a single mustard seed in the entire world, they are distressed by any loss or destruction they see, and if they can save [something], they will save anything [that they can] from destruction with all their strength (commandment 529, in some editions 530).

Tza’ar ba’alei chayyim (“The suffering of living things”)

Tza’ar ba’alei chayyim is the Hebrew expression for the prohibition against causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Several biblical commandments are generally understood as involving this principle (e.g., helping with the unloading of an overburdened animal [Ex. 23:5], coming to the assistance of a fallen animal [Deut. 22:4], and the prohibition against muzzling an ox while it threshes [Deut. 25:4]). Rather than reflecting a concern for the interests of animals themselves, considerations of tza’ar ba’alei chayyim are usually seen as being ultimately educational in nature. They are aimed at discouraging cruelty and promoting the virtues of kindness and mercy among human beings. Nonetheless, tza’ar ba’alei chayyim frequently serves as factor in halakhic decision making, and several legal controversies have developed around its application. Rabbi J. David Bleich, a contemporary scholar, cites a spectrum of authoritative opinions ranging from those who would permit suffering to be caused to animals for the sake of financial gain, to those who prohibit the infliction of pain upon animals when the desired benefit can be acquired in an alternative manner, when the procedure involves “great pain,” when the benefit does not serve to satisfy a “great need,” when the same profit can be obtained in another manner, or when the benefit derived is not commensurate with the measure of pain to which the animal is subjected (1989: 236).

Some authorities permit animal suffering only for medical purposes. It should be pointed out that death, especially death caused by painless ritual slaughter, is not always viewed as involving suffering. While these considerations find their most obvious modern applications in connection with the ethical dilemmas of industrial farming and animal experimentation, they may also extend to issues involving the treatment of animals in the wild (i.e., Judaism’s longstanding abhorrence of hunting for sport).

R’shut harabim (“Public domain”)

Various halakhic rulings deal with the protection of public spaces. These are mostly concerned with the damages and fines that must be paid by those who compromise other people’s safety by digging holes and creating other obstacles in public places. An anecdote quoted in the Talmud from the Tosefta (an ancient legal compilation of rulings not included in the Mishnah) may indicate how halakhic discussions of r’shut harabim may bear on modern worries regarding the misuse of public resources:

It happened that a certain man was clearing stones from his own property onto r’shut harabim. A pious man found him, saying, “Fool, why do you clear stones from a domain which does not belong to you onto your own property?” [The man] laughed at him. Some time later, after the man had to sell his field, he walked through the very same r’shut harabim [where he dumped the stones] and stumbled [on them]. He said, that pious man spoke well to me [when he said], “Why do you clear stones from a domain which does not belong to you onto your own property?” (BT Baba Kama 50b).

Hilkhot sh’kheinim (“The laws of neighbors”)

The legal category known as hilkhot sh’kheinim regulates, among other things, activities in one’s own private domain, which may adversely affect people living in neighboring domains. It is a promising source for antipollution legislation in the halakhah. Summarizing some of these regulations, Moses Maimonides (d. 1204) wrote in his authoritative legal code, the Mishneh Torah,

One who made a threshing-floor within his domain, or set up an out-house, or does work producing dust or dirt and the like, must distance them so that the dirt or out-house odor or dust does not reach his fellow, in order not to harm him (Kinyan, Hilkhot Sh’kheinim 11:1).

Similar rulings regulate noise and thermal pollution. Serious health hazards, including tanneries, graves, animal carcasses and permanent threshing floors, must be located at least fifty cubits (about 25 meters) outside of town.

Halakhic prohibition of environmental hazards and nuisances is not absolute but rather reflects a need to balance the conflicting interests of the various parties involved. For instance, in regard to noise pollution, the Mishnah states:

When a shop is in a courtyard, [a neighbor] may protest and say to him [i.e., to the shopkeeper], “I cannot sleep because of the noise of those entering and because of the noise of those leaving [your shop].” When [an artisan] makes wares and goes out and sells them in the market, [a neighbor] may not protest and say to him, “I cannot sleep because of the hammer’s noise, or because of the noise of millstones, or because of the noise of children [being instructed by a teacher in his home]” (BT Baba Batra 2:3).

Here the neighbor’s need for quiet must be balanced against the artisan’s need to make a living, and vice versa. The technical details of traditional Jewish regulations of environmental hazards often reflect pre-modern conditions and pre-modern knowledge of environmental science and public health. However, the rabbis themselves have always been aware of the dynamic nature of the empirical foundations of their rulings. In regard to the measures required to avoid damage due to particular sources of noise, Rabbi Moses Isserles (d. 1572) wrote, “they should be estimated by artisans and experts.” Similarly, today’s halakhic authorities are usually quite willing to accept the validity of up-to-date scientific opinion in such practical matters.

For over two thousand years, halakhic scholars have worked at developing and refining a conceptual framework that strikes a balance between the various needs of individuals and communities and which defines the legitimate use of animals and other natural resources. A brief encyclopedic entry could not begin to relay the subtlety and sophistication achieved in halakhic discourse. Judaism can make a crucial contribution by applying the ideas and principles of the halakhah to the legal and ethical quandaries posed by contemporary environmental concerns.

Berel Dov Lerner

Further Reading

Bleich, J. David. Contemporary Halakhic Problems, vol. III. New York: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1989. Chapter nine offers an extended discussion of animal suffering in Jewish law.

Diamond, Eliezer. “How Much is Too Much? Conventional versus Personal Definitions of Pollutions in Rabbinic Sources”. In Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word.

Cambridge, MA: Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, 2002, 61–80.

Freundal, Barry. “Judaism’s Environmental Laws.” In Ellen Bernstein, ed. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998, 214–24.

Gerstenfeld, Manfred. Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment: Mapping and Analysis. Jerusalem: Reuben Mass, Ltd., 1998, chapter three.

Rakover, Nahum. “Ecology in Judaism.” Encyclopedia Judaica Decennial Book 1973–1982. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing, 1982, 227–9.

See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition; Judaism and Animal Experimentation; Judaism and Sustainability; Kabbalah; Vegetarianism and Judaism.

Jewish Law and Genetic Engineering

How does the Jewish tradition relate to the modern phenomenon of genetic engineering? To answer this question, we need to understand how Jewish tradition views the natural world and human interactions with the natural world. Jewish tradition takes a very positivistic view of the natural world, stressing how each progressive step in the creation of the natural world was “good” in the eyes of God the Creator (Gen. 1:1–25). After the creation of man, with his free will and his ability to alter the creation, the Bible informs us that it was all “very good” in the eyes of God (Gen. 1:31).

Jewish tradition posits that humans were created, in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:27) to be a partner with God in mastering and perfecting themselves and the natural world. For example, the Bible commands humans to “replenish the Earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the Earth” (Gen. 1:28). Rabbi Akiva demonstrated to the Roman general, Turnus Rufus, that the works of man, as finishing touches to the creation, are better than the unfinished works of the Creator (Midrash Tanchuma – Tazri’a 19).

While Jewish tradition assigns humans the God-given obligation to manipulate nature in order to bring benefit to humankind and the world, it also recognizes that humans can negatively interfere with the creation to the point of destroying themselves and the natural world. God placed limits on human activities both in the form of the laws of nature and in the form of religious laws.

Where does genetic engineering fit in with the Jewish perspective on humankind and the natural world? Only recently have humans learned how to circumvent the natural laws in order to manipulate and transfer genetic material between different species. The ethical implications of this newfound “freedom” will be discussed further on. First, we will discuss the Jewish religious laws that are relevant to bioengineering. We will focus on two main categories of genetic engineering: 1) Medical procedures which can save and prolong human life; and 2) Procedures which can modify the characteristics of plants and animals allowing greater productivity, improved nutrient content and enhanced aesthetic qualities.

Beginning with the first category, Jewish tradition places supreme importance on pikuach nefesh – the preservation of human life. Judaism obligates its adherents to violate all prohibitions except for murder, idolatry or adultery to preserve human life. Therefore, the utilization of genetic engineering to save or prolong human life is certainly permitted and may be required as long as the likely effectiveness of the procedure would justify the risks involved. Genetic engineering that constitutes a threat to human life is likewise prohibited. The second category, where pikuach nefesh is not a factor, is more complex, requiring further separation into halakhic (legal) and ethical perspectives.

Jewish Legal Perspectives on Genetic Engineering of Animals and Plants

The two areas of Jewish law most frequently encountered in genetic engineering of animals and plants are kashrut (prohibited foods) and kilayim (prohibition of mixing different species of plants and animals). Relative to genetic engineering, these laws are only concerned with the transference of genetic material across species boundaries, not within the same species. The kashrut laws, (Lev. 11:1–47) delineate between species of animals which Jews are permitted to eat and those which are not kosher. When genetic material from non-kosher species of animals are mixed with kosher species of plants and animals, does this render the receptor non-kosher? Rabbinic authorities consider genetic material that is separated from, or synthesized from, the parent organism to be essentially “inert,” in other words independent of the defining characteristics of the parent organism. Therefore, genetic material from non-kosher species is not itself considered non-kosher and does not render the new host organism non-kosher.

The biblical prohibition of kilayim, which forbids the mixing of different species of animals and plants, appears in Leviticus 19:19: “Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” The prohibition of kilayim applies only to the act of mixing different species and does not forbid the usage of the products of this mixing (except for the prohibition on intermixing grapes with certain plant species, where it is forbidden to derive benefit from the product as well). Furthermore, according to almost all rabbinic authorities, the prohibition of kilayim applies only to Jews. Most rabbinic authorities rule that the prohibition of kilayim is restricted to the specific acts of interbreeding spelled out in Leviticus 19:19. Therefore, the non-sexual transfer of genetic material between different species of animals or between animals and plants is not prohibited. The transfer of genetic material between different species of plants is less clear, and there is some disagreement among rabbinic authorities as to the permissibility of performing certain types of genetic engineering on plants.

The legal allowances are consistent with the general principle that anything not explicitly prohibited in the Bible and Talmud is assumed to be permitted. In the words of the early nineteenth-century commentator Rabbi Yisrael Lifshutz, “Anything which we have no reason to prohibit is permitted, without having to find a reason for its permissibility. For the Torah does not mention every permissible thing, but rather only those things which are forbidden” (Tiferet Yisrael on Mishnah Yadayim 4:3).

Jewish Ethical Perspectives on Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering crosses God-created boundaries that were until recently closed to humankind. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to the effects (spiritual as well as physical) of genetic engineering on humans and their environment. As discussed above, the extreme importance placed on the preservation of human life may require us to cross these boundaries. The ethical implications of non-life-preserving aspects of genetic engineering are less clear.

Does genetic engineering in non-life-preserving situations violate the “spirit of the law” of kashrut or kilayim, or otherwise negatively interfere in God’s creation, even if it does not violate the letter of the law? One approach may suggest that it does. For example, the twelfth-century sage Nachmanides writes in his commentary on Leviticus 19:19 that one who mixes two different species is “changing and denying the Divine Creation of the world.” The thirteenthcentury author of “Sefer HaChinukh” writes on the prohibition of mixing species, “all that God did is intended for the perfection of that which is needed in His world . . . and the species should not be mixed, lest it detract from the perfection and there won’t be (God’s) blessing.” The eighteenth-century German Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes in his commentary on the Bible:

[T]he Torah must consider this law (against mixing different species) which God implanted in the organic world of nature to be of the very highest importance for our human and Jewish calling, for it has interwoven consideration of it (the prohibition of mixing different species) in the whole of our life. Not only does it forbid us actual interference with this law by the prohibition of interbreeding animals and grafting trees, the unnatural crossing of species of plants and animals which are of different species in nature, but in our whole association with the organic world – as sowing and planting, at the use of animals for work, at using materials obtained from animal and vegetable sources for our clothes, and at the food we eat . . . It teaches us to keep such order that brings to our minds again and again the great law of “keeping species separate,” and its greater Lawgiver (author’s translation).

A second, more liberal approach finds less if any ethical objections. Most contemporary Jewish authorities take a permissive but cautious position on genetic engineering. Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg, for example, believes that we should proceed with genetic engineering as long as it “does not violate halakhic prohibitions or lead to results that would be halakhically prohibited” (Wolff 2001: 9).

In conclusion, Judaism posits that the natural world, as created by God, started out as intrinsically good. Humans were given the mandate to perfect themselves and the natural world as a partner with the Creator. To fulfill this task, humans may manipulate the creation, but only within certain limitations – these being defined by the natural and religious laws given by the Creator. The defining ethical criteria is that all of the permitted actions must bring the world closer to perfection and not further away. For the sake of preserving human life, genetic engineering is certainly permissible, and may even be obligatory. Aside from situations where human life is at stake, the majority of rabbinic authorities rule that most forms of genetic engineering do not violate the Jewish religious laws. There is disagreement as to the ethical permissibility of certain areas of genetic engineering. As genetic engineering continues to advance and expand around the world, there is a great need for further research and discussion among Jewish authorities in order to address the legal and ethical issues involved.

Jubilee and Jubilee 2000

Jubilee is derived from the Hebrew Sabbath laws and marks the seventh Sabbath year. While the Sabbath or Sabbatical year was a year of rest for the land (Ex. 23:10– 12; Lev. 25:1–7) and loan forgiveness (Deut. 15:1–18), the Jubilee year aims to reverse the effect of debt slavery and debt-related land loss through slave redemption (Lev. 25:39–42) and land restoration every fiftieth year (Lev. 25:8–28). These practices stress divine ownership of the land, on which Israel is tenant, but which it does not own. There is, however, no extant historical evidence of such a national Jubilee and Jewish sources reveal considerable complexity on this issue.

The Catholic Church established a recurring Jubilee year beginning in 1300. The year 2000 was one such year. “Jubilee 2000” was a campaign of heightened calls for international debt relief supported by Catholic and many mainline Protestant churches. The movement became worldwide, ecumenical beyond the boundaries of established churches. Most of its local and grassroots leaders were women. After the year 2000, there are continued efforts for debt relief through follow-up campaigns. The rhetoric of “Jubilee 2000” and related initiatives foregrounds the welfare of human beings, but recognizes the existence of humans as densely interwoven with the land as well as the destructive side effects of large international debts on the environment. Some contemporary Jewish voices are reticent about Christian applications of Jubilee. Other voices have raised questions about the viability of complete debt relief. While there remain questions about the application and interpretation of the Jubilee concept, its concerns touch at the core of human and environmental exploitation.

Marion Grau

Further Reading

Akiva Wolff

Further Reading

Ucko, Hans, ed. The Jubilee Challenge, Utopia or Possib-

B’Or HaTorah, Science, Art & Modern Life in the Light of

the Torah 12 (2001) (contains several relevant articles on genetic engineering).

Comstock, Gary L. Vexing Nature? On the Ethical Case Against Agricultural Biotechnology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.

Druker, Steven M. Are Genetically Engineered Foods in Accord with Jewish Law? Fairfield, Iowa: Alliance for Bio-Integrity, 1997.

Wolff, Akiva. Jewish Perspectives on Genetic Engineering. Jerusalem: Jewish Environmental Perspective, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2001.

See also: Animal Rights in the Jewish Tradition; Environmental Ethics; Globalization; Jewish Law and Environmental Protection; Judaism; Radical Environmentalism; Seeds in South Asia.

ility? Jewish and Christian Insights. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997.

United States Catholic Conference. A Jubilee Call for Debt Forgiveness: A Statement by the Administrative Board of the United States Catholic Conference. Washington, D.C., 1999.

See also: Jewish Intertestamental Literature; Judaism; Sabbath–Jubilee Cycle.


Judaism is the religious civilization that evolved out of the religion of ancient Israel, taking its shape as a scriptural religion during the Second Temple period (516 B.C.E.–70 C.E.). In subsequent centuries, Judaism developed in response to changing historical circumstances and through conversations with other civilizations, especially Islam and Christianity. A variegated religious civilization, Judaism has harbored diverse conceptions of nature, reflecting the socio-economic circumstances of the Jewish people, changing intellectual conventions and modes of thought, and the internal debate within Judaism about the meaning of being Jewish.

The Bible is the foundational document of Judaism. While the biblical text reflects events, cultic rituals, social legislation, prophetic teachings, historiography, and poetry of ancient Israel, the biblical text was edited in stages during the Second Temple period. Regarded as canonic scripture, the biblical text was believed to be divinely revealed and authoritative, a Torah or “divine instruction.” Given the complex process by which the Bible came into existence, the sacred text we have reflects both the life of ancient Israel during the First Temple period (roughly from 1200 B.C.E. to 587 B.C.E.), as well as the emergence of Judaism as a scriptural religion in the Second Temple period. Whereas in the First Temple period, ancient Israel communicated with God through sacrifices and prophetic oracles, in the Second Temple period communication was carried on increasingly through the study of God’s revealed Torah. Especially after 70 C.E., when rabbinic Judaism came into existence, the revealed Scriptures provided information about God’s created world and determined how one must treat the physical environment, nonhuman creatures, the human body, and other human beings. In Judaism approaches to God’s creation are framed through the prism of revealed scriptures.

Israelite religion was both a product of the Ancient Near Eastern milieu as well as a critical rejection of it. In the Bible, therefore, the Israelite God, Yahweh, is depicted both as part of nature, resembling other Ancient Near Eastern deities, as well as the Creator of nature who has complete control and power over nature. The degree to which God is or is not part of nature demarcated the boundaries between Israelite religion and the neighboring culture, since the worship of nature as a divine entity in itself was viewed by biblical prophets as idolatry. The tension between the belief in God’s transcendence, on the one hand, and the belief in God’s immanence, on the other hand, was never resolved in Judaism. It continues to inform Jewish thinking to this day, giving rise to diverse understandings of nature.

From the rabbinic perspective, the belief that nature is created by God means that the created world, or “nature,” is good and that underlying its multiple forms there is a fundamental unity. The biblical creation narrative in Genesis provides the general outline of the creative process: an undifferentiated reality becomes increasingly differentiated through the process of separation – the separation of light from darkness, upper from lower waters, land from sea, plant from animal life, humans from other animals, and finally, woman from man. The formation of boundaries in the act of creation is adduced by scholars as the rationale for the distinction between the sacred and the profane, the permitted and the forbidden in the legal parts of the Bible. Thus the prohibition on mixing different seeds in the same field, the interbreeding of diverse species of animals, the wearing of garments of mixed wool and linens, and the differentiation between clean and unclean foods are all traced back to the setting of boundaries at the moment of creation (Lev. 10:10–11; 19:19; Deut. 22:11).

Having created the universe, God continues to sustain it and govern it. Thus nature itself reflects God’s goodness, generosity, glory, greatness, and kingship. The greatest expression of God’s concern for the world is the revelation of the divine will in the form of Law to the Chosen People, Israel. The revealed Torah defines the ideal: what ought to be and what Israel should do in order to attain the ideal. The very revelation of the Torah indicates that although nature is good, it is neither perfect nor holy. Nature can be perfected and made holy, only when humans, who are created in the image of God, treat nature in accord with the will of God. In this regard, humans can be viewed as partners of God in the caretaking of nature.

The Hebrew Bible is the earliest articulation of the principle of stewardship toward nature. Created out of the Earth (adamah), the human earthling (adam) is also made in the “image of God” (tzelem elohim) (Genesis 1:26). As a created being, the human is part of nature, but as a recipient of divine command, the human is able to transcend nature by emulating God. The relationship between the human species and the natural world is, therefore, complex: on the one hand, the human species is privileged over other creatures, but, on the other hand, the human is given responsibility toward nature. If humanity is to emulate God, humanity must govern nature with intelligence and benevolence, as a good steward does, while never forgetting that God and not humanity is the true King of the universe. Thus the divine command to the first earthling “to fill the Earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28) should be understood as something other than a license to exploit and destroy the Earth, in light of humanity’s role in another verse which states that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). This verse spells the biblical understanding of the human task: only by observing God’s will can the human be a true steward of nature, ensuring the wellbeing of God’s creation. If originally, the protection of the Garden of Eden was a holy task, presumably to be accomplished effortlessly, after the sin, the tilling of the land was to be done with pain and suffering (Gen. 9:17–19), indicating the separation between the human earthling and the soil from which he was created.

The belief that nature is created by God facilitates interest in and reverence toward the natural world. The more one observes the natural world, the more one comes to revere the Creator. Psalm 19:1 expressed the point poetically: “The heavens are telling the glory of God/and the firmament proclaims his handiworks.” Psalm 148 depicts all of creation as engaged in praising God and recognizing God’s commanding power over nature. Nature also fears God (Ps. 68:9) and observes the relationship between God and Israel, expressing either sorrow or joy at the fortunes of the Israelites (Joel 1:12; Amos 1:2; Jon. 3:7–9; Is. a 14:7–8). No matter how much the Bible recognizes the majesty of nature the biblical text never revels in nature only for its own sake. Nature is not an end but always points to the divine Creator who governs and sustains nature in his goodness and generosity. The biblical emphasis on orderliness of creation explains why the Bible does not glorify wilderness and why the cultivated field is the primary model for the created universe in the Bible. The Bible does not despise wilderness (after all, the wilderness is the location of revelation), but the Bible clearly links the aridity of the desert with divine punishment and the dialectics of blessing and curse. The successfully cultivated land manifests the presence of God in the life of the people, and, conversely disloyalty to God incurs divine punishment in the form of loss of life’s necessities.

Descriptions of nature or figurative usages of nature’s forces to teach a religious lesson abound in the Bible. In one famous parable, fruit trees and vines willingly serve the human in ritual observance by providing oil, fruit, and wine (Judg. 9:8–13). Conversely, nature does God’s bidding when it serves to punish and destroy the people of Israel if they sin; ungodly behavior leads to ecological punishment. Since God is the sole Creator, it is God’s prerogative to sustain or to destroy nature (Ps. 29:5–6; Zech. 11:1–3; Hab. 3:5–8). Nature itself becomes a witness to the covenantal relationship between Israel and God and the ongoing drama of righteousness, chastisement, and rebuke. Mostly the Bible emphasizes divine care of all creatures: God provides food to all (Ps. 147:9); God is concerned about humans and beasts (Ps. 104:14–14; 15:16); God’s care is extended to animals that can be used by humans, such as goats and rabbits (Ps. 104:18) as well as to lion cubs and ravens that do not serve human interest. Because God takes care of animals, they turn to God in time of need (Ps. 104:21; 27; Job 38:41).

The people of Israel, with whom God entered an eternal covenant, are the paradigm of the stewardship of nature sanctioned by scripture. Various land-based commandments express the belief that God is the rightful owner of the land of Israel and the source of its fertility. The Israelites who till the land are but God’s tenant farmers who are obligated to return the first portion of the land’s yield to its rightful owner in order to ensure the land’s continuing fertility and the farmer’s sustenance and prosperity. Caring is extended both to vegetation and to animals. In war-time, fruit-bearing trees must not be chopped down while the city is under siege (Deut. 20:19). While this commandment indicates a human perspective, it also indicates that the Bible recognizes the interdependence between humans and trees, on the one hand, and the capacity of humans to destroy natural things on the other. In terms of treatment of animals, the Bible prohibits cruelty to animals and commands instead that animals be treated with love; thus killing of a bird with her young is forbidden, as is the yoking of an ass and an ox together (Deut. 22:10). Some commentators understand this as a way to emulate God’s attribute of mercy and follow the overarching commandment “Be holy as I the Lord am Holy” (Lev. 19:2). The prohibition to boil a kid in its mother’s milk (Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21) is also explained by later Jewish sources as an attempt to prevent cruelty in human beings.

The doctrine of creation is also the basis of the most unique aspect of the biblical approach toward nature: the notion of imposed rest – the Sabbath. Viewed as completion of the act of creation and a celebration of human tenancy and stewardship, the Sabbath imitates God’s rest. Hence, on the Sabbath humans must neither create nor destroy and only enjoy the bounty of God’s creation. As an “island in time,” to use Abraham Joshua Heschel’s apt phrase, the Sabbath disrupts the eternal cycles of nature, reminding the observer that nature is created by God and must be treated in accord with God’s laws. The command to rest on the Sabbath is extended not only to humans but also to domestic animals (Deut. 5:13). In the Sabbatical year (sh’mitah or “release”), rest is extended to the land, illustrating the biblical connection between moral quality of human life and the vitality of God’s created nature (Lev. 25:2ff.) On the Sabbatical year the land’s produce is given to all creatures equally, not just the poor and servants, but also the stranger, and all the domestic and wild animals. In all times, the corner of the field, the gleanings of stalks, the forgotten sheaf, the separated fruits and the defective clusters are to be given to those who do not own land – the poor, the widow, and the orphan. In the Jubilee year (Yovel) a more extensive land reform is offered on the ground that “The land cannot be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine, and you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23). In the Jubilee year all slaves are to be freed and returned to their families (Lev. 25:11). By observing the Sabbath year the soil itself becomes holy and the person who obeys the commandments ensures the religious-moral purity necessary for residence in God’s land (Lev. 26:3–12). According to the Torah and the rabbis, exile is conversely caused by failing to let the land rest (Lev. 26:14ff.). However, the institution of the Sabbatical year was itself a subject of dispute by the rabbis after the fall of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and many further rulings were introduced to ease its economic hardships.

The Bible was edited and canonized during the Second Temple period, when the Near East was dominated by Hellenistic culture. The encounter of Judaism with Hellenistic culture was uneven: all Jews were affected by Hellenism, but not to the same degree. A major aspect of the encounter with Greek culture was the rise of Jewish philosophical reflections about the cosmos as a whole. The main question for the Judeo-Hellenistic philosophers was where can the Wisdom of God be found and how can human beings access it. Building on the Wisdom stratum of the Bible, Jewish philosophers identified God’s Wisdom with the Torah and wondered whether Torah/Wisdom pre-existed the world or whether it too was created like the heaven and the Earth. Aristobulus of Paneas (mid-second century B.C.E.) held that Wisdom/Torah existed prior to the heaven and the Earth and that God’s power extends to all created things, and is therefore immanent in the world. The anonymous author of 2 Maccabees was the first to state that God created the world ex nihilo, thereby proposing a philosophical solution to a problem not yet recognized by the biblical text itself. The book of 4 Maccabees (first century B.C.E.) was the first Jewish text to cite the Stoic definition of Wisdom and identify it with the Torah. That notion, but without the Stoic reference, was also shared by Joshua, son of Ben Sira (early second century B.C.E.), the author of the Wisdom of Ben Sira. The identification of Torah and divine Wisdom entails that those who study Torah possess a deeper understanding of nature, and conversely, that the study of nature itself yields a deeper understanding of God’s revelation.

Philo of Alexandria (ca. 15 B.C.E. – 40) elaborated these ideas in his doctrine of Logos. Echoing Middle Platonism, Philo envisioned the Logos as an intelligible world of Ideas, the paradigm of all things as well as their causes. The Logos is the first entity to be created by God in a nontemporal process. The physical world as we know it was created out of matter, but it is not clear whether matter itself is created or uncreated according to Philo. The immanent Logos produces the laws of nature, but since God created these laws, God can also change them, if God so desires. This claim makes miracles logically possible. In his prolific biblical commentaries, Philo interpreted the biblical text allegorically, thereby turning description of natural entities into abstract philosophical and/or ethical ideas. Thus, while Philo articulated a philosophy of nature, he had little interest in the description or the operation of the natural world itself.

The desire to understand how the natural world works is found in the apocalyptic literature produced by sectarian Jews from the third century B.C.E. to the second century C.E. While this literature has not been integrated into rabbinic Judaism, it indicates how interest in nature flourished among Jews during the Second Temple period. Thus, for the apocalyptic visionaries, divine Wisdom resides not in the perceptible world but in the heavens and access to Wisdom was to be given to individuals through revelatory experiences that “disclose” or “reveal” the mysteries of the natural world. A telling example is I Enoch, a collection of several apocalyptic compositions, the oldest of which dates to the third century B.C.E. The hero, Enoch, is depicted to have undergone experiences that transport him to the heavens, to places of light and fire that were not accessible to any other human. In the extremities of the cosmos, Enoch encounters angels, namely, “the leaders of the heads of thousands who are in charge of the whole creation and in charge of all the stars . . .” (chapter 75:1). These angels reveal to Enoch information about the structure of the universe and about God’s government of history, answering questions which the Book of Job claimed to be out of reach of humans (Job 38), especially in regard to the punishment of the wicked (the “Fallen Angels” in I Enoch) and the reward of the righteous in the end of time. The revelations about the cosmos are intrinsically linked to eschatology.

Though the discourse on angels is an attempt to explain how the universe is ordered and how it works, the narratives are not intended as mere theory, but are directly related to the calculation of the calendar, a hotly debated issue among the Jewish sects in the late Second Temple period. In I Enoch, a solar calendar of 364 days is presupposed and the primary goal of the composition, called “the Astronomical Book,” is to prevent sin due to calendar error. Enoch’s eyewitnessing and understanding of the heavenly bodies, under their angelic leaders, is meant to impart the right knowledge in this regard. In the “Animal Apocalypse” of I Enoch (chapters 85–91) the figures of biblical history are represented by animals, for example, Adam is a white bull; Cain and Able are black and red bullocks. These are not descriptions of the perceptible natural beings but a coded language about the political reality during the Maccabean revolt (167–164 B.C.E.), using animals as allegories. If read as a political allegory, this section in I Enoch states that ultimately judgment is at hand and that heavenly angels will dispose of the Gentile rulers as they originally disposed of the “Watchers.” Victory is in the hands of God and his angels and the resolution involves a resurrection beyond this life, even if it is located on Earth.

A different type of cosmological speculation is found in the anonymous Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), whose time of composition was probably the first century, while the Jerusalem Temple was still in existence. Unlike I Enoch, here the mysteries of creation are to be found not in the extremities of the universe, but in understanding the linguistic process that underlies divine creation: God created the universe through speech. The units of creation are the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten Sefirot, the ten “extensions” or “depths” (omaqim), which together constitute the thirty-two “Paths of Wisdom.” As a linguistic product, the cosmos is to be decoded not through biblical exegesis but through independent wisdom (i.e., gnosis) accessible to the sectarians who produced the text. While the obscure Sefer Yetzirah did not become part of standard rabbinic curriculum, its ideas would become the foundation for philosophic and kabbalistic speculations about the origin and structure of the universe in the Middle Ages.

With the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., the robust Jewish sectarianism came to an end, and the rabbis, the heirs of the Pharisees, became the sole interpreters of the Jewish tradition. A small scholarly elite, the rabbis articulated the ideology of dual Torahs – one Written, one Oral – both of which were believed to have been revealed by God to Moses at Sinai. As authoritative divine command, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah together constituted halakhah (literally, “the Path” or “the Way),” signifying Jewish Law as a whole.

The rabbinic corpus encompasses conflicting attitudes toward cosmological speculations. R. Akiba and his disciples were reticent about them and considered the “Account of Creation” (ma’aseh b’reishit) esoteric lore that was “not to be expounded before two people” (Mishnah Chagigah 2:1). Speculations about “what is above, what is beneath, what is before, and what is after” were to be limited to a small elite (Mishnah Chagigah 2:1). By contrast, R. Ishmael permitted such speculations (JT Chagigah 2:1 77c). The rabbinic commentary on Genesis known as Genesis Rabbah includes extensive cosmological discussion. Ascribed to the sages Shammai and Hillel, who lived prior to 70, Genesis Rabbah includes debates about the precise order of creation. According to the School of Shammai the heavens were created first, and then the Earth, while the School of Hillel maintained the reverse order (Genesis Rabbah 1:15). Likewise the School of Shammai maintained that the intention (“thought”) of creation was at night and the act by day, whereas House of Hillel maintained that “both intention and act took place by day” (Genesis Rabbah 12:14). By the second century, the dominant view among the rabbis was that “both were created together like a pot and its cover” (Genesis Rabbah 1:15) and that “the intention was both by day and by night while the fulfillment was with the waning of the sun” (Genesis Rabbah 12:14). In these speculations, special attention was given to the creation of light, since according to the biblical narrative the sun was not created until the fourth day. The anonymous sages opined that the luminaries were created on the first day, but they were not “suspended” until the fourth. Rabbi Jacob and R. Eleazar were of the opinion that the light created on the first day was a special light with which “one could see from one end of the world to the other” but it was hidden away and reserved for the righteous in the time to come because of the future corruption of the world in the days of the flood and the tower of Babel” (BT Hagigah 12a).

Unlike the apocalyptic literature that speculated about nature on the basis of revelatory experiences, the rabbis develop their ideas on the basis of close reading of the biblical text, on the assumption that the revealed text contains the Wisdom of God. Insisting on God as a sole Creator, the rabbis intended to refute the view, common among Jewish sectarians, that God was not alone in the creative process and that the angels were involved. The rabbis also rejected the notion, prevalent among the Gnostics, that the material universe was created by a lesser and evil deity. According to the rabbis, the angels were created by God (Genesis Rabbah 1:3; 3:8), and it is stated that “all agree that none were created on the first day, that no one should say that Michael stretched out [the firmament] in the south and Gabriel in the north, and the Holy One, blessed be he, made its measurements in the center.” The angels themselves were created either on the second day or on the fifth day (Genesis Rabbah 1:4).

In the rabbinic corpus knowledge of nature is subordinated to practical and ethical concerns. For example, observation of celestial bodies that several rabbis such as R. Yochanan ben Zakkai, Gam’liel II and Joshua ben Chananya were reputed to have was directly linked to calculation of the lunar-solar calendar. Astronomical information about the motions of celestial bodies, the four seasons, the planets, the Zodiac, and even comets is directly related to calendar. More importantly, the interest in nature is linked to the moral-religious vision of rabbinic Judaism: communication with God is possible only through Torah and requires the cultivation of the proper virtues through observance of divine commands.

The rabbis were concerned about the relationship between revealed morality (prescriptive law) and the laws of nature (descriptive laws), but even here one can identify diverse and conflicting views. One theme highlights the regularity of nature and its indifference to human concerns: “nature pursues its own course” (olam k’minhago noheg) (BT Avodah Zarah 54b). Accordingly nature is independent of the revealed Torah and the laws of nature are different from the laws of the Torah. A contrary viewpoint, however, holds that the natural world is contingent upon the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people; had they rejected the Torah, the world would have reverted to primeval chaos. The link between nature and the moral conduct of humans is expressed in yet a third view that original natural order was perfect but suffered a radical change as a result of human original sin (BT Kiddushin 82b). And a fourth view posits “the animals of the righteous” as models for human conduct. Presumably these animals do not sin, because they know intuitively what the law is and what is required of them, and they know how to apply the Torah to the world in which they live. Since the “animals of the righteous” live in perfect harmony with their Creator, humanity has much to learn from them, not only in terms of the principle of observing God’s will but also specific lessons (BT Pesachim 53b). Finally, there is a rabbinic teaching not only that animals observe the moral laws, but also that all of nature is perceived as fulfilling the will of God in the performance of its normal functions (JT Peah 1:1).

Biblical legislation served as the point of departure for the rabbinic sanctification of nature. For example, the protection of fruit-bearing trees in the Bible became the foundation of the rabbinic principle “Do not destroy” (Bal Tashchit). The biblical injunction was extended to cover all destruction, complete or incomplete, direct or indirect, of all objects that may be of potential benefit to humans. A sweeping legislation of environmental regulations is legitimized by appeal to this principle: the prohibition of cutting off of water supplies to trees, overgrazing of the countryside, the unjustified killing of animals or feeding them harmful foods, the hunting of animals for sport, species extinction and the destruction of cultivated plant varieties, pollution of air and water, overconsumption of anything, and the waste of mineral and other resources.

Similarly, the merciful treatment of animals is elaborated in order to produce the righteous personality that could stand in the proper relationship with God. Thus the prohibition on seething a kid in its mother’s milk becomes the basis of an elaborate system of ritual separation of milk and meat products, which are explained as an attempt to prevent cruelty in humans (Deuteronomy Rabbah 6:1). Merciful treatment of animals is but one way by which Israel is separated from the surrounding pagan culture and becomes a holy nation. Scripture forbids cutting of a limb from a living creation even to feed it to dogs, even in the case of animals that are not to be eaten at all because they are unclean. The rabbis interpreted this law as applicable to all humanity, not just the Jewish people. The rabbis prescribe particular modes of slaughter which are performed with a sharp, clean blade so that they will be swift and relatively painless. The concern for unnecessary suffering of animals (tza’ar ba’aley chayyim) illustrates how the rabbis interpreted the command “to be holy as I the Lord am holy” so that Israel could stand in a covenantal relationship with God.

Attainment of religious perfection concerns not just how one treats another human being, but also how one cares for the human body itself. The rabbis had much to say about the operation of the human body and the rabbinic corpus is rich in details about the skeleton, the digestive organs, the respiratory system, the heart, the genitals, and other organs. The material includes both accurate description as well as fanciful material and it is totally lacking in graphic illustration. The discussion pertains primarily to physical disfigurements that disqualify men from the priesthood, with rules concerning menstruating women, and with other sources of ritual pollution. The rabbinic corpus also includes informative claims about embryology, diagnoses of diseases, and a host of medications and hygienic strategies for prevention of dis- ease. Likewise, there is extensive detail about animal physiology as it relates to embryology, sacrifice, and other issues. The physician is viewed as an instrument of God, treated with utmost respect, and several Talmudic scholars were themselves physicians.

Precisely because the natural world is God’s creation, the value of nature in Judaism cannot be simply utilitarian: the natural world does not belong to humans, but to God, and the world was created not for the sake of human needs but for God’s sake. On the basis of Isaiah 43:7 the rabbis expressed this point succinctly when they stated that “Whatever God created, He created for His own Glory” (Pirkei Avot 6:12; BT Yoma 38a). The worship of God is expressed through the exclusive commitment to the Torah and its commandments. It is precisely because the rabbis made Torah study the highest value, that their attitude toward nature was complicated. On the one hand, the rabbis made the study of Torah a substitute of interest in nature, and on the other hand, it was from the Torah itself that one derives the values and ethical standards that guide one’s treatment of nature.

The Judaism of the rabbis became normative after the redaction of the Talmud in the sixth century. During the Middle Ages, rabbinic Judaism underwent further changes as a result of the interaction between Judaism and two other civilizations: Islam and Christendom. In medieval Islam, Jewish life was profoundly transformed when Jews turned from agriculture to commerce, trade, arts, and crafts as part of a comprehensive process of urbanization. In medieval Christendom, the Jewish estrangement from the land was even more pronounced because feudal regulations excluded Jews from land ownership. Although in some parts of Europe Jews were granted estates as late as the thirteenth century, in general Jews were increasingly forced to engage in money lending, pawnbroking, and trade, merchandising and the sale of second-hand goods.

Frequent expulsions and voluntary migrations further estranged Jews from land cultivation, turning the agrarian past into a distant memory. No longer practiced, the prescribed land-based rituals of Judaism fueled the hope for the ideal messianic age in the remote future when the exiled people would return to the Holy Land. For two millennia Jews continued to dream about their return to the land while they waited for divine intervention to bring it about. Until that time, Jewish life was to be shaped by the norms of rabbinic Judaism, whose comprehensiveness enabled Jews to remain loyal to their religious tradition, despite the loss of political sovereignty and in the face of hostility and discrimination.

The comprehensive lifestyle articulated by rabbinic Judaism made the sanctification of nature a major concern of Jewish religious life. Ironically, it was precisely the comprehensiveness of rabbinic Judaism that enabled the Jews to live meaningfully outside the land of Israel and defer the return to the Holy Land to the remote messianic future. In this regard the Torah became a substitute for nature and the land of Israel became an ideal, spiritual reality. In daily prayers, the Jewish worshipper sanctified nature by expressing gratitude to the Creator “who in his Goodness creates each day.” The prayers recognized the daily changes in the rhythm of nature – morning, evening and night – and recognized the power of God to bring these changes about. Similarly, the blessings that Jews are required to utter when they witness a storm or observe a tree blossoming bear witness to God’s power in nature. Even the natural functions of the human body are blessed, as is food that God provides to nourish the body. By means of these blessings all acts from which the worshipper derives either benefit or pleasure are consecrated to God. To act otherwise is considered a form of theft (BT Berakhot 35a).

The consecration of nature through prescriptive acts was compatible with the attempt to fathom how the natural world works. In Islam during the ninth century, Jewish scholars were confronted once again with Greek philosophy and science, now available in Arabic translations. The desire to understand how nature works and how God governs his created world was now carried out in the context of Aristotelian and Neoplatonic philosophies. In general, the medieval study of nature was a bookish activity, dominated by the determination to understand the causes of things and it presupposed the standard Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmology of the Middle Ages.

In medieval cosmology, the Earth was in the center of a finite and spherical cosmos within which there was a sharp distinction between celestial and terrestrial realms. The former comprises concentric orbs and is made of refined ether; the latter comprises the remaining space, which is occupied by the Earth and its atmosphere and in things consists of various combinations of the Four Elements (Water, Earth, Fire, and Air). Both realms are made up of matter and form but they exhibit different types of motion: the heavenly bodies are engaged in unceasing, perfect, circular motion, whereas in the terrestrial realm things are undergoing constant change due to generation, growth, and corruption, constantly exchanging one form for another. All terrestrial processes are driven by the motion of the heavenly spheres which are living and intelligent, and possess souls. The intellects of the heavenly bodies are the Separate Intellects that emanate from God. (Whether God is the First Intellect or the First Cause outside the series of emanated Intellects was a debated issue among philosophers-scientists.) Among the earthly individuals, only human beings have the potential to perfect themselves because they, like God, possess an intellect, having been created in the “image of God.”

While medieval Jewish philosophers were genuinely interested in understanding how nature works, their reflections were not divorced from the study of the revealed Torah. Elaborating the notion that the Torah is identical with the Wisdom of God, the philosophers presupposed that in principle there could be no genuine contradiction between the truth revealed in the text and scientific knowledge about the world; both were believed to manifest the wisdom of God. The order of the cosmos was itself the ultimate reality and the highest human task was reverently to perceive it. God is the supreme telos of the universe, the intelligent and intelligible apex of the entire cosmos, accessible through philosophy and through prophecy, which according to these philosophers was the ultimate cognitive attainment. Apparent conflicts between Judaism and science emerge either because a nondemonstrable scientific theory is adopted, or because the biblical text is not interpreted in accord with philosophy and science.

Moses Maimonides (1138–1204), the most influential of medieval Jewish philosophers, is a case in point. He equated the rabbinic “Account of Creation” (ma’aseh b’reishit) with the science of physics as taught by Aristotle and his medieval Muslim interpreters. Accordingly, for Maimonides the biblical creation narrative had to be understood as follows: “water” refers to undifferentiated primeval stuff. Parts of this “water” were given different forms, resulting in a fundamental division in the material components of the universe. The “upper waters” are equated with Aristotle’s hot exhalation, while the “firmament” (raqi’a) is the lower stratus occupied by the cold exhalation, and the “oceans” refer to the elemental waters found on Earth. However, most commentators on Maimonides in subsequent centuries understood the process of creation to refer to the stratification of the atmosphere, and read the biblical text in line with Aristotle’s Meteorology.

The Jewish rationalist philosophers did not agree on the interpretation of the creation narrative, but they agreed that the Torah is a philosophic-scientific text that manifests the laws by which God governs nature. Since God is absolutely one, in God there is no distinction between what God knows and what God does. Divine activities in the physical environment manifest divine wisdom and God’s continued care for the world, that is, divine Providence. The philosophers studied the natural world in order to understand the mind of God, emphasizing orderliness, stability, and predictability of nature. The human ability to understand how God works in nature was ascribed to the human capacity for reason, which the philosophers equated with the “image of God” mentioned in Genesis. By virtue of reason, humans are able to understand the orderliness and purposefulness of nature which the rationalist philosophers interpreted in accord with medieval Aristotelian cosmology and physics. The medieval philosophers regarded the study of God’s created world as a theoretical activity whose reward was the immortality of the rational soul, or the intellect. Through the study of nature the philosophers came closer to God and attained the ultimate end of human life – the knowledge of God.

Though Maimonides accepted Aristotelian science in regard to the sublunar world, he rejected Aristotelian astronomy as non-demonstrable knowledge. He also totally discredited the science of astrology and viewed it as a challenge to the Jewish understanding of human freedom. In the thirteenth century, however, other Jewish scholars were more forthcoming in accepting astrology and participated in its study along with the study of astronomy in the court of Alphonso X, “the Wise” (1252– 1284). They were largely responsible for the construction of the Alphonsine Tables for computing planetary positions that remained popular until the mid-seventeenth century. As for the science of astrology, most Jewish philosophersscientists in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries accepted it as valid and practiced it to prognosticate future events and to heal the sick. The most sophisticated Jewish astronomer-astrologer was Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides) (1288–1344) who designed an instrument to measure the relative distance of celestial objects, the Jacob Staff, which remained in use by European navigators until the mid-eighteenth century. In the second half of the fourteenth century, Jewish philosophers, such as Isaac de Lates, Prat Maimon, Jacob Farisol, Nathanel Kaspi and Solomon ben Judah of Lunel, would apply the science of astrology to the interpretation of the biblical text in a concerted effort to show how biblical practices can be understood as mediums to draw the spiritual energy of the heavens to Earth, especially for the benefit of Israel. Some scholars who were engaged in the study of astrology, such as Gersonides, also insisted that the intellectual perfection attained through the knowledge of natural processes enables the intellectually perfect to transcend natural causality.

The assumption that natural phenomena must be understood in light of the Torah, since the Torah is the blueprint of creation, was shared by rationalist philosophers and by kabbalists alike, but the latter revived and elaborated the esoteric, quasi-scientific lore of the Greco-Roman period, especially the emanationist cosmology of the neoPlatonists. Focusing on the linguistic aspect of the creative act was the primary focus of the kabbalistic approach to nature. On the basis of Sefer Yetzirah and its cognate literature, kabbalists equated the “building blocks” of the created world with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Understood as units of divine energy, the various permutations of the Hebrew letters accounted for the diversity of nature. Nature, in other words, was understood as an information system, a linguistic text that could be decoded and manipulated by anyone who grasped its “grammar.” The one who knows how to decode nature because he possesses the knowledge of the invisible occult forces of nature created by divine speech, could understand and manipulate the physical environment and effect changes in it. Hence, Kabbalah, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was closely associated with magic, astrology, and alchemy. Furthermore, the one who decodes the mysteries of nature could affect and impact God’s inner life, reunifying the feminine and masculine aspects of the Godhead that were pulled apart by the Fall of Adam. Kabbalah yielded two seemingly opposing attitudes toward the natural world. On the one hand, kabbalistic texts abound with organic symbols that take their inspiration from the natural world. Organic symbols such as the Pomegranate and the Cosmic Tree captured the integrity and vitality of the Godhead which is beyond the ken of human, rational, discursive knowledge. However, precisely because kabbalists considered nature as a mirror of God, they were not as interested in the natural world as a physical reality and made nature into a symbolic system. The corporeal manifestation of this divine reality, namely, nature as we know through the senses, was even regarded in many texts as evil, to be transcended and spiritualized. By interpreting nature symbolically and by textualizing nature, Kabbalah further alienated Jews from the natural world, denigrating the physical. On the other hand, by trying to understand the occult powers of nature, Kabbalah also manifested a “hands on” approach to nature, leading the kabbalist to engage in the manipulation of nature in order to cause rainfall, heal the sick, or ease childbirth. Much of what might be called magical ritual in Kabbalah involved asking for or creating the possibility of blessing and redemption, for the Jewish people and for the world. In both approaches toward nature, Kabbalah remained committed to the primacy of humanity in the created order, because the human is the primary manifestation of the image of God in the created order.

In the early modern period (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries), medieval Jewish Aristotelianism declined as a creative schema for the interpretation of Judaism, replaced by Kabbalah. During the sixteenth century, kabbalists in the Land of Israel (most of whom refugees of the Spanish expulsion in 1492) delved deeply into the mysteries of the origin of the universe. On the basis of a close reading of Sefer haZohar, the central kabbalistic text, Isaac Luria (1534–1572) fathomed the mysteries of life itself. The act of creation in Kabbalah reflects processes that take place within the Godhead. According to Luria, creation began with an act of self-withdrawal (tzimtzum) to make room for a non-divine reality; the world came into existence through a dialectical process in which divinity gives birth to itself with the active help of the human intention. The Lurianic cosmogonic myth focused on the conception, impregnation, birth, suckling, and maturation of the divine Gestalt in an attempt to explain the mystery of life and chart the moral task for human beings, especially Israel. According to Lurianic Kabbalah, the goal of human life is to liberate the divine sparks that are now trapped in the material “husks” or “shells” and thereby repair and restore the now imperfect divinity. The Lurianic speculations about the origins of life and the origins and destinies of human souls further removed these mystics from the empirical reality, even though kabbalists instituted new rituals based on symbolic meaning of natural objects such as fruits and vegetables.

Lurianic thought spread outside the land of Israel during the seventeenth century, although it was still known to a relatively few number of Jews. The complex cosmogonic myth, however, provided the ideology of the Sabbatean movement, a mass messianic movement whose messianic claimant, Shabbtai Tzvi (also “Sabbatai Zevi,” 1626–1676) challenged the authority of rabbinic tradition and even converted to Islam. In Sabbatean ideology, articulated by Nathan of Gaza, natural beings, such as serpents and crocodiles, are turned into mythical representations of the realm of Evil (the Sitra Achra). Presumably, the descent of Zevi into it, in order to destroy Evil from within, explains his dramatic mood swings, antinomian actions, and even his conversion to Islam. The symbolic approach to nature was even shared by Jewish philosophers-scientists in Renaissance Italy who availed themselves of new empirical knowledge about plants, animals, and minerals. Their massive new observations of the natural world were still interpreted within the linguistic doctrines of Kabbalah, and guided by the magical belief that nature could be manipulated through the manipulation of language, a belief that Jewish scholars such as Judah Moscato and Abraham Portaleone shared with Renaissance luminaries, such as Marsilio Ficino and Cornelius Agrippa.

No less threatening a challenge to rabbinic Judaism came from the skeptic philosophy of Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) in Amsterdam, a son of ex-conversos, who challenged the identification of Torah with Wisdom that was in place in Judaism since the first century B.C.E. For Spinoza, the Bible was a human document and not a revealed text. As such, the Bible had no true scientific information about God or about the material universe but only information about ancient Israel’s political life and teachings about interhuman relations. Denying the ontological gap between the creator and the created world, Spinoza argued for the existence of one substance, which can be known either through extension or through thought. Spinoza’s monism, which might have been influenced by Kabbalah as taught by Abraham Cohen Herrera, identified God and nature; it also challenged the possibility of miracles, including the miracle of divine revelation. Concerned with religious conformity at a time of great intellectual upheaval, the Jewish community of Amsterdam could not tolerate Spinoza’s challenges and expelled him in 1656. In modern times, the Zionist movement of secular nationalism adopted Spinoza as its hero and formally lifted the ban on him, and Spinoza’s monism helped inspire the deep ecology philosophy of Arne Naess. The upheavals and challenges of the seventeenth century did not destroy traditional Jewish life, but gave rise to another revival movement in Eastern Europe during the eighteenth century – Hasidism. On the basis of Lurianic Kabbalah, Hasidic theology treated all natural phenomena as ensouled: divine sparks enlivened all corporeal entities, and not just human beings. The divine sparks seek release from their material entrapment. Through ritual activity, the Hasidic master attempts to draw closer to the divine energy, the liberation of which will result not only in the sanctification of nature but also in the redemption of reality and its return to its original non-corporeal state. The worship of God through the spiritualization of corporeal reality (avodah bagashmiyut) became a major Hasidic value, complementing the general deemphasis on Torah study. Hasidic tales were situated in nature rather than in urban settings, encouraging the Hasidic worshipper to find the divine sparks in all created beings. Yet most Hasidic masters were not primarily concerned with the well-being of the natural environment or with the protection of nature. To reach their spiritual goals, Hasidic meditative practices attempted to dissolve the corporeality of existing reality (bitul hayesh) and eliminate the identity of the one who meditates on nature (bitul ha’ani). While Hasidic thought ranged from panentheism to acosmism, the spiritualizing tendencies of Hasidism were disconnected at the extreme from any concrete concern with the natural environment.

Kabbalah, Hasidism, and traditional Talmudism (which reached ever-greater intellectual sophistication in the early modern period) contributed to the bookishness of Jewish culture and to the alienation of traditional Jews from the natural world. It was this alienation from nature that the proponents of Jewish Enlightenment (maskilim) cited as the reason for Jewish backwardness and inability to integrate into modern culture. For the advocates of Enlightenment, only a return to nature could facilitate the normalization of the Jews, which was the condition for their emancipation and integration into modern society.

On the national and institutional level, the extension of human rights to Jews in Western Europe in the early modern period was also in the interest of the modern nation-state and in accord with the principle of modern democracy. As a result of the emancipation, Jews could now enter the universities and turn their intellectual energies into the study of nature, at the expense of Torah study. Many Jews flocked to the newly discovered natural sciences such as chemistry and biology, which promised to improve the human condition through progress and accumulative knowledge. Some Jews converted to Christianity in order to be able to hold academic positions, and even those who remained nominally Jewish found in the scientific study of nature a substitute for traditional

Torah-study. In the nineteenth century individual Jews contributed immensely to a plethora of natural sciences but they did so as individuals and not as members of Israel.

In Hebrew literature of the nineteenth century, nature was often celebrated as the source of redemption for the deformed, uprooted, and “unnatural” Jew. The tension between the modern return to nature and the allegiance to sacred scriptures became most evident in the Zionist movement. For Zionism, the return of the Jews to nature was an integral part of the return of the Jews to their national home after two millennia of exile. Through the return to nature the Zionist movement was to re-create a new “muscular” Jew who derives vitality from the cultivation of the soil rather than from the study of sacred texts. Ironically, the return to nature necessitated first the conquest of nature, both of the physical environment and the human agent. As a backward province of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine was a place where the pioneers had to battle against nature, be it “wetlands” (bitzot) or “wasteland” (sh’mamah) as well as battle against their own physical weakness and inexperience in land cultivation. Through the conquest of nature, possession of the land was supposed to legitimize the Jewish claim for the land against the claims of another budding national movement

– that of the Palestinian people. The ongoing conflict between the two movements would be waged not only over the land itself but also over scarce natural resources, especially water. Even the act of planting trees, which was promoted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) as a central patriotic ritual that would lead to the redemption of the land (ge’ulat ha’aretz), would become a point of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. By the same token, the awareness that without water no nationalism can thrive has also led to innovative cooperation between Israeli and Jordanian governments.

The ideology for the Jewish return to nature was articulated by the spiritual leader of Labor Zionism, Aharon David Gordon (1856–1922). Settling in Palestine in 1904, he joined the agricultural settlements in order to create a new kind of Jewish life and Jewish person. He viewed humans as creatures of nature but warned that humans are in constant danger of losing contact with nature. For Gordon, the regeneration of humanity and the regeneration of the Jewish people could come only through the return to nature and the development of a new understanding of labor as a the source of genuine joy and creativity. Through physical, productive labor humanity would become a partner with God in the process of creation. Rejecting the traditional Jewish focus on Torah study, Gordon viewed labor as a redemptive act, provided that the means humans employ are in accord with the divine order of things, that is, with nature. Gordon’s “religion of labor” was a transvaluation of traditional Judaism.

In 1948 the State of Israel was founded in an act of defiance against the decimation of European Jewry in the Holocaust, the growing militancy of the Palestinian nationalism, and the British Mandate. The relationship between Judaism and nature came to the fore in the modern Jewish state. On the one hand, intimate familiarity with the landscape of the land of Israel, its flora and fauna, and concern for the preservation of the physical environment are very popular among secular Israelis. Nevertheless, activities related to the natural world have not usually been legitimated by appeal to the religious sources of Judaism. Even when the Bible is employed to identify plants and animals in the land of Israel, it is often not treated as a revealed text but as a historical document about the remote national past. There are, however, Jews who are anchored in the Jewish tradition who tend to link their love of the land of Israel to a certain religious nationalist vision rather than to love of nature. Their ideology finds support in the teachings of Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the first Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in the Israel, who saw in secular Zionism the beginning of Israel’s religious redemption. Religious nationalist parties now promote outdoor activities for their constituents, but these activities are rarely grounded in the sensibilities of the environmental movement.

Today there are many varied Jewish responses to environment issues. The State of Israel boasts a vigorous environmental movement, whose largest organization, the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI), was founded in the early 1950s as a nonprofit organization intended to protect the state’s natural assets. SPNI serves as a focal point for all Israelis concerned with the quality of life and the preservation of the country’s natural and historical heritage through a network of 25 field study centers located in various geographical areas throughout Israel. Through hiking and field study, SPNI attempts to consecrate nature, without particular reference to God. At the beginning of the twenty-first century a new nonprofit organization, “L’Ovedah ul’Shom’rah: Forum laS’vivah baYahadut” (“To Till and to Protect”: Forum for Ecology in Judaism) was organized in order to involve the religious sector in Israel in environmental issues, and add a Jewish religious perspective to the current environmental discourse.

Whereas Israel supports a vigorous environmentalism, the creative weaving of Judaism and environmentalism is more characteristic of American Jewry. Jewish environmentalism in the U.S. combines several groups. There are Jewish baby-boomers who were disenchanted by the suburban synagogues in America, and found their spiritual solace in the environmental movement. Some of them wound their way back to Judaism in the 1970s and 1980s as part of the Jewish Renewal Movement. These activists attempted to integrate their Jewish and environmentalist commitments by mining the Jewish tradition for its ecological wisdom, highlighting the agricultural origins of Jewish life in ancient Israel and urging Jews to reconnect with the rhythm of nature that was the basis of many biblical festivals. A second group is comprised of Jewish thinkers, rabbis, and educators who responded to the accusation that the Judeo-Christian tradition was the direct cause of the current environmental crisis. These apologetic responses showed that the accusations were based either on misunderstanding of biblical sources or a lack of familiarity with the rich post-biblical Jewish tradition. And a third group are Jews who devote their creative talents to the articulation of spiritual and political environmentalism, although their audience is not the Jewish community and their goal goes beyond the “greening” of contemporary Judaism.

Since 1970, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Humanistic Jews created a lively Jewish discourse on ecology, proving that Judaism can be part of the solution of our environmental crisis rather than part of the problem. In 1993 the Coalition for Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) was founded as an umbrella for 29 organizations in the institutional Jewish community that were interested in environmental issues. The mission statement of the organization blends moral principles (such as “environmental justice,” “responsibility toward future generations,” and “prevention of harm”), with democratic principles (such as “the citizens right to know,” “public involvement in decision making,” and “equitable distribution and responsibility”), and with public policy issues (such as “energy independence,” “governmental compliance,” and “US leadership in protection of global environment”). The legislative agendas that flow from these principles in regard to waste management, testing of consumer products, pollution prevention, energy conservation, global climate change, Endangered Species Act, protection of public lands, and sustainable development are all linked by COEJL to traditional Jewish sources.

One main inspiration for Jewish ecological thinking is Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972). A scion of a Hasidic family who received modern university training, Heschel was rescued from the Nazis and settled in the U.S. in 1944. Until his death he inspired scores of alienated American Jews to find their way back to the sources of Judaism in order to heal the atrocities of modernity that culminated in the Holocaust. Heschel’s ecologically sensitive Depth Theology spoke of God’s glory as pervading nature, leading humans to radical amazement and wonder. It viewed humans as members of the cosmic community and emphasized humility as the desired posture toward the natural world. Recognizing human kinship with the visible world, Heschel celebrated God’s presence within the world but he also insisted that the divine essence is not one with nature. God is simultaneously transcendent and immanent. Under the directorship of Eilon Schwartz, an American-born environmentalist who settled in Israel, Heschel’s ecological teachings are being translated into concrete educational programs at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership in Tel Aviv. These programs impart ecological literacy, reverence to nature, democratic values, and communal activism. The leadership program trains Israelis of various professional pursuits to implement the vision of sustainability in Israel and to address preservation of species, coastal destruction, wetlands, water and air pollution, and waste management.

These activities in the U.S. and in Israel clearly indicate that Jewish environmentalism does exist today. At the grassroots level, in particular, Jewish individuals are raising environmental issues and organize educational activities to bring the ecological insights of Judaism to the attention of other Jews. The festival of Tu biSh’vat, which celebrates the birthday of trees, is now celebrated in many communities as a “Jewish Earth Day,” and Jewish newspapers regularly report on environmental issues in connection with this festival. There is also a growing body of scholarly literature written by rabbis, Judaica scholars, and educators that makes it possible to teach college-level courses on Judaism and ecology. Judaism is also represented in the interreligious dialogue of religion and ecology. Nevertheless, in America environmentalism and ecological protection are still relatively marginal concerns of the organized Jewish community. Jewish collective concerns often focus on the physical and spiritual survival of the Jewish people rather than the survival of the Earth and natural habitats. Justifiably, Jews are preoccupied with the protracted Israeli–Arab conflict, relations between the State of Israel and the diaspora, Jewish–Christian dialogue, pluralism within Judaism, gender equality, and most recently the resurgence of antiSemitism.

Ironically, the main challenges to Jewish environmentalism come from within. In Israel and in America, the religious sources of Judaism do not inform the identity of most Jews, and secular Jews do not appeal to them in their attempt to address environmental concerns. Furthermore, the Jewish ethics of responsibility presupposes a sense of belonging to a community which is larger than the individual self. But the successful integration of Jews into modern society entailed the disintegration of the Jewish community and the erosion of Jewish communal solidarity. In industrialized countries, social mobility meant accumulation of wealth often accompanied with a consumerist lifestyle that undermines sound ecological conduct. And if this were not enough, Jewish environmentalists themselves are not unanimous on the recommended course of action and its justification within Judaism.

Jews who come to environmentalism from a Jewish religious commitment face other challenges. Wishing to ground Jewish ecological thinking in the religious sources of Judaism they must come to terms with the discourse of contemporary environmental philosophy and ethics which is largely, albeit not exclusively, secular. Bridging the gap between these two discourses is not easy, since it requires considerable interpretative skills on the part of Jews and a willingness to understand Jewish legal and textual reasoning on the part of non-Jews. Religiously committed Jews must become familiar with a vast literature whose worldview and philosophical assumptions may not only conflict with the beliefs of Judaism but are also in some cases self-consciously neo-pagan. This is especially evident in nature-based feminist spirituality that promotes goddess worship in order to overcome the deterioration of nature allegedly caused by the “Judeo-Christian tradition.” Likewise, the biocentrism of deep ecology stands in conflict with the anthropocentric stance of Judaism, which is the basis of its ethics of stewardship and responsibility toward nature. Yet, traditional Jews can also find a nascent but growing environmental discourse that is inspired by religious values and sensibilities.

In conclusion, the Jewish tradition is rich with ecological insights and can make a distinctive contribution to the dialogue of religion and ecology. The principle “Do not destroy” can provide religious support for a range of environmental policies such as conservation of natural resources, prevention of water pollution, reforestation, proper disposal of waste products, energy conservation, recycling, and reduction of material consumption. All of these policies highlight human responsibility toward the physical environment and assume that humans are not the owners of the Earth and its inhabitants but only part of a larger interdependent whole.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Further Reading

Aubrey, Rose, ed. Judaism and Ecology. London: Cassell Publishers, 1992.

Ben-David, Orit. “Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space.” In Eyal Ben Ari and Yoram Bilu, eds. Grasping Land: Space and Place in Contemporary Israeli Discourse and Experience. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997, 129–45.

Bernstein, Ellen, ed. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998.

Biers-Ariel, Matt, Deborah Newborn and Michael Fox Smart. Spirit in Nature: Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trail. New York: Behrman House, 2000.

Cohen, Jeremy. “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Carrier of a Biblical Text. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Eisenberg, Evan. The Ecology of Eden. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.

Elon Ari, Naomi Mara Hyman and Arthur Waskow, eds. Trees, Earth and Torah: A Tu B’Shevat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.

Felix, Yehuda. Nature and Man in the Bible: Chapters in Biblical Ecology. New York: The Soncino Press, 1981.

Frank, Daniel H. and Oliver Leaman, eds. History of Jewish Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

Frank Daniel H. and Oliver Leaman, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Gerstenfeld, Manfred. Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment: Mapping and Analysis. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and Rubin Mass, 1998.

Helfand, Jonathan. “The Earth is the Lord’s: Judaism and Environmental Ethics.” In Religion and Environmental Crisis. Athens, GA and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1986, 38–52.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1956.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. The Sabbath: The Meaning for Modern Man. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991 [1951].

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Man is Not Alone. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Young, 1951.

Isaacs, Ronald H. The Jewish Sourcebook on the Environment and Ecology. Northvale, NJ and Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998.

Kay, Jeanne. “Concepts of Nature in the Hebrew Bible.”

Environmental Ethics 10 (1988): 309–27.

Lamm, Norman. “Ecology in Jewish Law and Theology.” In Faith and Doubt: Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought. New York: Ktav, 1972.

Levy, Ze’ev and Nadav Levy, Ethics, Emotions and Animals: On the Moral Status of Animals (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim Publishing House and Haifa: University of Haifa, 2002.

Longergan, Stephen C. and David B. Brooks. Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict. Ottawa: International Development Research Center, 1994.

Matt, Daniel C. God & the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony Between Science and Spirituality. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights, 1998.

Neusner, Jacob. Genesis Rabbah: The Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis: A New American Translation. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985.

Neusner, Jacob, trans. and ed. Genesis and Judaism: The Perspective of Genesis Rabbah: An Analytical Anthology. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985.

Novak, David. Natural Law in Judaism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Ravven, Heidi M. and Lenn E. Goodman, eds. Jewish Themes in Spinoza’s Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

Samuelson, Norbert M. Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism and Global Survival. New York: Atara Publishing, 1987.

Schwartzchild, Steven S. “The Unnatural Jew.” Environ- mental Ethics 6 (1984): 347–62. Reprinted in Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader. Martin D. Yaffe, ed. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001.

Sirat, Colette. A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Swetlitz, Marc, ed. Judaism and Ecology: 1970–1986 Sourcebook of Readings. Wyncote PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990.

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava, ed. Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. “Nature in the Sources of Judaism.” Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 130:4 (2001), 99–124.

Waskow, Arthur. Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought, 2 vols. Burlington VT: Jewish Lights, 2000.

Waskow, Arthur. Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex and the Rest of Life. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1995.

Wyschogrod, Michael. “Judaism and the Sanctification of Nature.” The Melton Journal Spring (1991), 5–7. Reprinted in Martin D. Yaffe, ed. Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001, 289–96.

Yaffe, Martin D., ed. Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001.

See also: Creation Myths of the Ancient World; Creation Story in the Hebrew Bible; Deep Ecology; Eco-kabbalah; Eden and Other Gardens; Eden’s Ecology; Ehrenfeld, David; Gordon, Aharon David; Gush Emunim; Hasidism and Nature Mysticism; Hebrew Bible; Israel and Environmentalism; Jewish Environmentalism in North America; Jewish Intertestamental Literature; Jewish Law and Animal Experimentation; Jewish Law and Environmental Protection; Jewish Law and Genetic Engineering; Judaism; Judaism and Sustainability; Judaism and the Population Crisis; Kabbalah and Eco-theology; Maimonides; Naess, Arne; National Religious Partnership for the Environment; Paganism – A Jewish Perspective; Paganism and Judaism; Redwood Rabbis; Spinoza, Baruch; Tikkun Olam – a Jewish Imperative; Vegetarianism and Judaism; Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook; Waskow, Rabbi Arthur.

Judaism and Sustainability

The Jewish tradition relates to motifs in many guises that recur in the modern sustainability discourse and the policies that eventuate from it. As defined in The World Commission on Environment and Development publication Our Common Future, sustainability policies aim to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (1987).

A variety of classical Jewish sources offer a specific vision of “religious sustainability” (i.e., following divine commandments) as the main precondition for the physical and moral survival of humanity in general and the Jewish people specifically.

One aspect of this view is expressed in the biblical narrative of the separation of Abraham and his nephew Lot. They have too many flocks, herds and tents for the carrying capacity of the land (Gen. 13:5–13). When Abraham suggests that Lot choose grazing resources elsewhere, he selects the Jordan Valley, prime land due to the availability of water. Lot pitches his tents near Sodom, a town whose inhabitants are so wicked that it is destroyed by God (Gen. 18). Lot and his daughters just manage to survive by fleeing upon divine instruction (Gen. 19).

This narrative is one among many indicating that moral factors are even more important for sustenance than economic or environmental ones. A key biblical motif connected to this is that the endowment or withholding of rain depends on whether the Israelites fulfill God’s commandments (Deut. 11:17; 1 Kgs. 8:35–36; Isa. 5:5–6;

Zech. 14:17).

The Jewish tradition also devotes much attention to the continued availability of natural resources. A biblical commandment forbids the Israelites to destroy fruit trees when laying siege to a city (Deut. 20:19–20). This prohibition is discussed in great detail in rabbinical literature, which extends it to all wanton destruction, including one’s own possessions. The Talmudic sage R. Zutra declares it forbidden to make uneconomical use of fuel (Bavli Shabbat 67b). The leading medieval scholar Maimonides states that it is preferable to give clothes to the poor than to put them with the dead in the grave (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Mourning 14:24).

The laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years prescribe rest for the land, which the Bible says is not human beings’ but the Lord’s (Lev. 25:23–24). This view is also expressed in the biblical narrative of the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice to God. His offering is defective because he does not offer the best from his crop and the “owner merits the best” (Gen. 4:3–5).

Several times the Bible mentions cycling and recycling, which are other important elements of the modern sustainability discourse. God tells Adam that he is dust and that he will return to dust (Gen. 3:19); thus his body will become available again as a natural resource. The theme of humans seeing themselves as dust frequently recurs in the Bible (Ps. 3:16, 30:10; Job 10:9, 30:19, 34:15; Eccl. 3:16). Material recycling is found in the building of the tabernacle in the desert when, inter alia, the people’s jewelry is recycled for making religious objects (Ex. 35:20–29).

Today awareness is growing that excessive consumerism endangers sustainability. Several classical Jewish sources view conspicuous consumption in a negative light. The Bible says that it may lead to idolatry or forgetting God (Deut. 8:12–14, 31:20, 32:15–18; Isa. 2:7–9,

22:12–14). Similar motifs appear in the Mishnah, an edited version of the oral laws passed down through the generations, which was compiled early in the third century. There the sage Ben Zoma says: “Who is rich? The man who is happy with what he has” (Pirkei Avot 4:1). The sage Hillel denounces gluttony, saying: “The more flesh, the more worms” (Pirkei Avot 2:7). A Talmudic source considers gluttony particularly inappropriate for sages (BT Pesachim 49a).

On the other hand, consumption based on normal use of the Earth’s resources is encouraged. Those who have planted a vineyard without harvesting it are free from mobilization in times of war (Deut. 20:6–7). Maimonides considers moderation to be advisable and disapproves strongly of both extreme desires and asceticism, as we can read in Maimonides, Introduction to Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4.

There are also many aspects or motifs of dematerialization in the Jewish tradition. The invisible God who speaks to Abraham is non-material. The Ten Commandments forbid sculptured images (Ex. 20:4; Deut. 5:8). The Israelites are told to concentrate sacrifices in a single location, the Temple in Jerusalem. The Bible says repeatedly that these offerings are ineffective – even odious – if they are not accompanied by obedience to God (1 Sam. Ch.15; Isa. 1:11–13; Amos 5:22–25). After the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70, this religious dematerialization goes further: prayer replaces animal sacrifice. The Talmudic sage Rabbi Elazar says that prayer is greater than sacrifices (BT B’rakhot 32b).

Another important motif – durability – emerges in the biblical narrative stating that the Israelites’ clothing and footwear did not wear out while crossing the desert after the Exodus (Deut. 8:4, 29:4; Neh. 9:20–21).

Intergenerational equity is a central element of the modern sustainability discourse. In the Jewish tradition there are many references to the relative well-being of successive generations, including in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:5–6; Deut. 5:9–10).

Ancestral merit influences future generations. The merits of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are frequently mentioned in pleas for mercy in the Bible and Talmud (Jer. 31:15–17). In the Talmud, later generations are often considered less meritorious than earlier ones (BT Eruvin 53a; BT Yoma 9b). The sage Rabbi Zera says: “If the earlier generations were angels, we are humans; and if the earlier generations were human, we are like donkeys . . .” (BT Shabbat 112b). Several rabbinical texts encourage the planting of trees, which will benefit future generations (BT Ta’anit 23a; Leviticus Rabbah 25:3; Yalkut Shim’oni on Kedoshim 615).

Maintaining biodiversity, another important element of the modern sustainability discourse, is a frequently recurring motif in Jewish sources. Such a concern may be indicated by God’s bringing all animals to the man in paradise to be given a name (Gen. 2:19–20). Through this “due diligence” action of taking an inventory of all creatures and giving them names their identity and specificity are recognized.

The tale of paradise shows that animals were not threatened by the first humans, who were vegetarian (Gen. 2:15–16). The narrative of Noah who, upon divine instruction, gathers specimens of all animal species into the Ark, is a further paradigm of biodiversity (Gen. 6–7). Neither will man and animals threaten each other in the Latter Days (Isa. 11:7–8; Hos. 2:20). According to the Talmud, all creatures have a place in God’s world, irrespective of whether they are of use to humans (BT Shabbat 77b; BT Avodah Zarah 3b).

Reading the above texts together with many others illustrates how classical Judaism – in the framework of its theocentric worldview – relates to major elements of behavior and thought which reappear in the modern sustainability discourse.

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Further Reading

Gerstenfeld, Manfred. Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies/Rubin Mass, 1998.

World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

See also: Israel and Environmentalism; Jewish Environmentalism in North America; Sustainability and the World Council of Churches.

Judaism and the Population Crisis

Jews are rightfully concerned about rapid population growth since many current global problems, including hunger, resource depletion, energy shortages, pollution, global climate change, poverty, and unemployment all have significant connections to population. However, there is also great concern in the Jewish community about reduced Jewish birth rates and assimilation. The National

Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000–2001, which was released in September, 2003, estimated that there are 5.2 million American Jews, 5 percent less than the 5.5 million counted in the 1990 population study. It found the rate of intermarriage to be rising steadily, with 47 percent of Jewish newly-weds marrying non-Jews, a 4 percent increase from 1990. It also found that of all American Jews currently wed, one-third were intermarried.

How should Jews respond to population-related issues? Many Torah teachings stress the importance of having children.

The first commandment in the Bible indicates the duty of procreation – “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the Earth . . .” (Gen. 1:28). Later, this commandment was repeated to Noah after the flood had destroyed most of humanity (Gen. 9.1).

The blessing of fertility was extended to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17:16). Through Isaac, Abraham was to be blessed with seed as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore (Gen. 15:5). This blessing was repeated to Jacob, in the early years of his life (Gen. 28:14) and also later (Gen. 35:11). The principal blessing that Torah personalities conferred on their children and grandchildren was that of fertility. This was true of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob (Gen. 28:3), Jacob’s blessing to Manasseh and Ephraim (his grandchildren) (Gen. 48:16), and Jacob’s blessing to Joseph (Gen. 49:25).

There are also many Talmudic statements that stress the importance of having children. For example, Rabbi Joseph said, “One who does not have children, it is as if he has diminished the Divine image, since it is said ‘In the image of God made He man’ (Gen. 1:27) and this is immediately followed by ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28)” (Shapiro 1979: 71–2). The school of Shammai taught that the duty of procreation was fulfilled when one had two sons (since Moses had two sons), while the School of Hillel taught that one should have a boy and a girl, since we are to imitate God and the Bible states, “male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27).

Despite these teachings, can Jews ignore connections between population increases and hunger, resource depletion, pollution, global climate change, and other current problems? While Judaism emphasizes the importance of procreation, there are justifications in the Bible for limiting procreation when resources are scarce:

1. While in Egypt, Joseph had two sons during the seven years of plenty, but no additional children during the seven years of famine (Gen. 41:50). The biblical commentator Rashi, interprets this to mean that when there is widespread hunger, one should not bring additional children into the world.

2. According to the Talmud, Noah was commanded to desist from procreation on the ark, since it contained only enough provisions for those who entered the ark.

3. It can be argued that when Adam and later Noah were commanded to “Be fruitful and multiply,” the Earth was far emptier than it is today. Hence, the commandment may no longer apply.

Judaism teaches that those who have no biological children can give “birth” in other ways. For example, the Talmud states that if someone teaches Torah to his friend’s child, “it is as if he gave birth to him,” as it is written: “These are the offspring of Aaron and Moses . . .” (Num. 3:1). The Talmud points out that the verses which follow only list the sons of Aaron, yet the Torah calls them the “offspring” of both Moses and Aaron! This is because Moses taught them Torah, and through his teaching, states the Talmud, he became their spiritual parent.

There need be no inconsistency between working for Jewish survival and global survival, in the area of population growth. A Jew can have a large family and still help reduce poverty, hunger, and pollution by working for a more just, humane, and environmentally sustainable world.

A Jew who has few or no children can work for Jewish survival by striving to increase Jewish commitment through example, teaching, and writing. Judaism teaches that our good deeds can be our main offspring.

While helping Jews who wish to have large families, the Jewish community should also strive to create a more meaningful, dynamic, committed Jewish life, and also work for a global society that conserves resources, practices justice, seeks peace, and reduces hunger and poverty, thereby lessening people’s perceived need to have many children. Finally, while working for a more just and equitable sharing of the Earth’s abundant resources and improved conditions for the world’s people, we should also help make others aware that this is the most effective way to move the world to a more sustainable population path.

Richard H. Schwartz

Further Reading

Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism and Global Survival. New York: Lantern, 2002.

Shapiro, David S. “Be Fruitful and Multiply.” In Fred Rosner and J. David Bleich, eds. Jewish Bioethics. New York: Sanhedrin Press, 1979.

United Jewish Communities. National Jewish Population Survey 2000–2001. Released in 2003.

See also: Abortion; Fertility and Abortion; Judaism; Judaism and Sustainability; Population and Consumption – Contemporary Religious Responses.

Judaism and Paganism

– See Paganism and Judaism; Paganism – A Jewish Perspective.

Jung, Carl Gustav (1875–1961)

The psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and self-named “analytical psychologist” Carl Gustav Jung was born on 26 July 1875 and died on 6 June 1961. Born near Basel, Switzerland, over the last sixty years of his life he lived, worked – and died – near the banks of Lake Zurich. Although he is often coupled with his one-time mentor Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) in discussion of his life and work, this association, although pivotal for Jung, lasted only from 1905 to 1913 and is grossly overemphasized in the extant literature. Jung’s “analytical psychology” is comprised of six separate but interconnected theories: 1) the complex theory (1902); 2) the theory of psychological types (1913, 1921); 3) the vitalistic theory of a biologically based phylogenetic unconscious (1909, but revised in 1916); 4) the theory of the collective unconscious, originally called “the Land of the Dead” (1916); 5) the theory of the dominants (1917), borrowed from the work of the neo-vitalist botanist Johannes Reinke, or Platonic archetypes (1919) of the collective unconscious; and 6) the principle of individuation (1916).

Jung’s own unique theoretical formulations about nature, human and otherwise, were in fact a major departure from Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud’s outlook was decidedly atheistic (“a godless Jew,” as he termed it), materialistic monist, and urban. He rejected religion and mystical experience as symptoms of mental disorder and his vast corpus of writings virtually ignores the place of the natural world in the life of human beings except as a source of fear and unpredictability (hence the neurotic need for illusory protection of religious concepts). Jung’s, on the other hand, was deeply rooted in the philosophy, magic and mystery cult initiatory practices of Hellenistic paganism, German Romantic science and its roots in natural philosophy (Naturphiloso- phie) and nature mysticism, vitalism (materialistic dualism), Aryan solar mysticism, and occult sciences such as alchemy, astrology, spiritualism, and divination (such as the I Ching and oneiromancy). Indeed, the theories and practices of Jung’s post–1913 analytical psychology are so deeply rooted in these nonscientific traditions that one scholar, Wouter Hanegraaff of the Netherlands, argues in his magisterial New Age Religion and Western Culture:

Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought that Jung’s contribution consisted in his ability to present an esoteric worldview in psychological terms, thereby providing a “scientific” alternative to occultism. More importantly, he not only psychologized esotericism but he also sacralized psychology, by filling it with the contents of esoteric speculation. The result was a body of theories which enable people to talk about God while really meaning their own psyche, and about their own psyche while really meaning the divine (1996: 513).

As essentially a German Romantic esotericist, to use Hanegraaff’s characterization, Jung believed in a nonDarwinian evolutionary process in which humans were at the biological and spiritual apex of the Great Chain of Being. Echoing his beloved Romantic natural philosophers (Naturphilosophen) Schelling and Goethe, Jung believed that living nature, in both its material and mental/spiritual mirrors of an underlying unitary reality or substance, manifested, or was shaped by, fundamental organic types known as “archetypes” (archetypi, Urtypen, Hauptypen, Urbilden, and so on). The dynamic forces of nature and mental/spiritual life emerged from the tension of essential polarities, and hence the internal logic of Jungian psychology is firmly anchored in this principle (conscious/ unconscious, extraversion/introversion, thinking type/ feeling type, ego/Self, anima/animus, and so on). Jung’s main rhetorical device for presenting evidence – analogy – echoes those of ancient Greek philosphers and the German Romantic natural philosophers. Like the Naturphilosophen, Jung believed individual organisms and nature as a whole to be telologically ordered rather than a product of mechanistic causal forces. Nature was self-productive and organic, gestating and evolving, and Jung, like his Romantic forebears, often expressed opinions that hinted at his Spinoza-like belief that God and nature were one (Deus sive natura).

However, unlike Goethe and the other Naturphilo- sophen, Jung esotericized these concepts in unique ways. For example, from alchemy Jung adopted the belief that all nature, organic and inorganic, was “alive” in the sense that it was constantly evolving toward a more highly complex and perfected state of being. Jung believed that human consciousness coevolved with matter, and that through the distillation of psychological processes in individual humans not only nature, but also God, could be redeemed. Jung also believed in ideas associated with nineteenth-century German ideas associated with Aryan Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil) mysticism. As with heredity in the biological realm, the non-living geological world also had a kind of “memory” and could influence the form and behavior of biological entities, including humans. For example, Jung reinterpreted the erroneous observations of the early twentiethcentury anthropologist Franz Boas about how the environment changes skeletal structure across generations as evidence that the blood/life-force of Native Americans in the American soil could actually make European immigrants to America look “Indian” within just two generations.

After being exposed to the neo-vitalist Gustav von

Bumke (1844–1920) in medical school in Basel in the late 1890s, and later to the works of neo-vitalists such as Johannes Reinke (1849–1921) and Hans Dreisch (1867– 1941), Jung adopted his belief in vitalism, a form of materialistic dualism, in which it was believed that there were two rule books for the physics of matter, one for life and the other for non-life. Living things were animated by a special life-force (Lebenskraft) that Jung termed libido. Despite the total rejection of vitalism as a viable biological hypothesis by 1930, Jung never recanted his belief in it.

Richard Noll

Further Reading

Hanegraaff, Wouter J. New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.

Noll, Richard. The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung. New York: Random House, 1997.

Noll, Richard. The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Richards, Robert. The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

See also: Ecopsychology; New Age; Perennial Philosophy; Philosophy of Nature; Romanticism (various); Transpersonal Psychology; Western Esotericism.

Jung, Carl – A Perspective

Jung was one of the most influential of early twentiethcentury psychological interpreters of culture; Peter Homans credits him with articulating many of the most important issues in psychoanalysis. His intellectual contexts were those of many of early twentieth-century European intellectuals – including widespread interests in spiritualism, Gnosticism, alchemy, tribalism, and “natural beings” (Naturvölker). Most of his writings were extraordinarily packed with careful research and reflection, and their extent is remarkable. Even to try to catalogue the various ways in which he approached Homo religiosus (humankind as innately religious) could commandeer a huge volume (see the many relevant essays in his Collected Works).

While many entries in this encyclopedia refer to practical, everyday issues in what we lightly refer to as “the real world,” others relate to less immediately tangible ideas. Since Jung died in 1961, for instance, we cannot expect him to treat concrete ecological concerns that only arose later. Nevertheless, his name is often mentioned in New Age contexts, even within new-ecology circles, as having provided important underpinnings for why those with strong ecological agendas hold them. Consequently on the most important Jung website, mounted by Donald Williams, there is an extensive list of links to “Environment and Science” sites.

Jung’s somewhat Romantic primitivism – I am referring to his enchantment with primordial cultures of antiquity or with his own day’s Third World peoples he visited – highlighted important values regarding a highly idealized version of nature. While nature was represented somewhat simplistically and naively as “a patch of green or a blossoming tree” (Jung in Sabini 2001: 155), for the factory worker of mass society, it and the relationship of “primitive” cultures to nature were constant referents in his attempts to reconcile traditional (often ancient) and contemporary modes of human existence (see his work originally published as Modern Man in Search of a Soul [1933], and Meredith Sabini’s collection of Jung’s statements on nature).

Jung claimed that highly self-conscious and rational moderns have suppressed wrongly the voices of the unconscious, instinctual being-in-the-world that characterizes Natural Man. That suppression can be dangerous in that the physical-biological-instinctual has guided human existence for a far longer period within human existence than rationality. The latter may have to be revised extensively when nature/fate redresses the series of catastrophes that our age has unleashed: overpopulation, global military applications of technology such as the hydrogen bomb that can obliterate the majority of life forms within a day or two, or the unbridled pollution of air and water and indeed Earth itself, all in the supposed “natural” evolution of “progress.”

“Progress” in Jung’s own Modernist day often entailed a sort of capitalist individualism that has come increasingly to seem only a feature of greedy right-wing politics, so we need to be aware of the specific historical-sitedness of any mentor from the near-past. To be sure, for Jung, individualism – a developmental strengthening of the personal ego – was not the same as what he called indi- viduation. That refers to intimate connection with an ultimately-self-transcendent archetypal Self that encompassed the millennial coextension of all humankind, always experienced within the specific social features of one’s own day and locale. While Jung has been tarred with the “Platonic idealism” brush, he was careful to stress the embodied manifestation of archetypes rather than Plato’s spacey abstractions.

This archetypal Self represented not a greedy “me first” attitude but a sense of participating in primary significances represented variously in literature, the graphic arts, drama, religion, attitudes toward nature, and dreams. Jung was not anti-social, but certainly gave priority over the society to the individual’s inner experience within a supportive commonweal. Indeed the social context was never left out of Jung’s thinking, even though his immediate therapeutic work was always with individuals (whose names were and mostly remain today strictly shielded, as compared with Freud’s hints and disclosures).

Jung was less interested in the anthropologists’ recovery of ancient lifeways (including religion and relationship to nature) than in the feeling dimension that learning about them could evoke. He felt confident that moderns could recycle the wisdom of the ancients in contemporary (and often primarily interior) manifestations, an opinion that deeply influenced Joseph Campbell. Frequently speaking out against urbanized configurations of Western society, Jung rejected their too-conscious manipulations of the human spirit (psyche). Too much consciousness or rationality, he suggested, might well lead to ignorance of the underlying moral consequences of developments within the natural and technological sciences – and some decades after Jung’s death, we can now recognize the results of such ignorance and overreaching on all sides of our culture.

Jung promoted a “back to nature” lifestyle (illustrated most frequently in terms of having a garden, as noted above) in his own (we now see: patrician) lifestyle at his weekend retreat at Bollingen outside Zürich, where he built by hand a stone tower, bas reliefs, and living spaces, and apparently appreciated being photographed in his shirtsleeves chopping his own kindling with a Swiss machete (shown in several “Here’s the Real Jung” publications).

Beyond the apparently shallow dimensions so played up in the biographies that worship “guru Jung,” however, it is pretty clear that Jung would have supported deep ecology as expressed by Gottlieb: “enlarging our sense of our own selfhood” (Gottlieb 1996: 518) and rejecting definitions that might separate “human beings from the rest of the natural world” (Gottlieb 1996: 517). But that world may be almost unintelligible to our own day that now trivializes or lacks appreciative connections to the traditional worlds of fairytale, myth, and folklore – even though such folk materials establish (usually at a very young, impressionable age) basic cultural understandings of the relative merit of humankind within the world of nature.

Jung’s references to dreams as “pure nature, needing human reflection and discernment” (Jung in Sabini 2001: 19) would surely strike participants in the social and natural science portions of the contemporary world as ridiculous. But Jung was less impressed with contemporary progress than with the continuity of civilizations across time and space, and especially with giving high priority to the ancient past (especially alchemy, where he found many profound psychological and religious insights), not the present – his emphasis representing a nostalgic aspect of many early twentiethcentury thinkers that now seems increasingly suspect as colonialist. His refusal to shirk looking at the dark side of human personality and culture leaves him looking occasionally like a mischievous trickster, and may explain why institutional theologians were so suspicious of his thought with respect to religion, which they do not associate with humor.

A very large number of publications discuss Jung and spirituality/religion/psychology. In 1990, Murray Stein reflected that James Heisig’s 1973 bibliographical essay had listed 442 items, but suggested that subsequently the quantity had increased by a factor of at least three or four (Stein in Moore and Meckel 1990: 3). Gottlieb is right on target in suggesting that Jung always emphasized the soul/psyche/spirit, often in a manner that made orthodox Christians uncomfortable, especially when he unveiled some of the vast symbolic networks present in the Mass or crucifixion (as in Jung on Christianity, ed. Stein 1999). Moore and Meckel note that Jung was tarred and praised simultaneously; an instance of the former: “in a recent fundamentalist Christian publication Jung and his school of psychoanalysis were excoriated as being dangerous enemies of Christianity” (Moore and Meckel 1990: 1); Richard Noll, from the position of history of science, treats Jung as being “a charismatic leader” (1994: 17) who set about to establish a mystery cult (1994: 141). Nonetheless, Ellenberger reports that the Protestant pastor at his memorial service praised him for “staying the overwhelming flow of rationalism [and for giving] man the courage to have a soul again” (1970: 678–9), and he has been extensively influential in the field of pastoral theology – the care of souls. A neo-Jungian thinker of much power, James Hillman, has grounded some of his pro-ecological writings in Jung’s work.

David Tacey observes that Jung initially seems to be “antagonistic to Western religion, anti-church, and in favor of personal mysticism” – but he quickly adds that Jung was “far more complex than this populist perception” (Tacey 2001: 17). Indeed part of that complexity was that “the master did indeed cultivate the image of prophet and wise man actively and systematically,” and thereby became “a mentor of the New Age whether we like it or not” (Tacey 2001: 30; see also David Tacey, “Jung and the New Age – A Study of Contrasts.” The C.G. Jung Page, 1998. Accessed on 02.21.03). Certainly he had little appreciative to say about institutional Christianity: Charet notes that “instead of going to church on Sundays, Jung studied Kant” (1993: 127).

Tacey correctly understands the importance of Jung for New Age developments of what Jung called the “religious attitude” – which was of much more interest to him than corporate religious institutions – what we today refer to as “spirituality” (2001: 102). Certainly this is the religiosity reflected in the volume that the 82-year-old Jung excluded from publication within his Collected Works; the partly autobiographical Myths, Dreams, Reflec- tions (Sonu Shamdasani [1995] shows how greatly its original manuscripts and stenographic notes differ from the subsequently revised, edited, and expanded redactions into several languages).

This work has become “a spiritual document of our time”; it became the capstone myth about the founder of Jungian psychology (Charet 2000: 211). Just what Freud rejected, Memories, Dreams, Reflections emphasizes – but then for Jung, humankind is not just religious due to an inauthentic syndrome tinged with neurotic sexuality (Freud’s view), but “man is naturally religious”; Jung can refer readily to “the natural function of religion” (Ellenberger 1970: 724, 734). Within the last sentences in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung writes that “there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. [. . . T]here has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things” (Jung 1973: 359).

The sphere of the religious is especially the realm where the huge transcendental and universal encounters with transpersonal forces/beings and their expressions occur: the realm of the archetypes and their manifestation in the peculiar historical contexts of all people. The range of New Age religious incorporations of Jung’s thought vary from the strictly-secular to those like the 25-year-old organization, Journey Into Wholeness, which understands “Jung’s psychology [as] an alternative to the rationalistic materialism of our culture to which even religion has fallen victim.” And “The Jungian–Christian Dialogue” promotes a meeting of Jungian psychology with Christian philosophy, theology, and spirituality.

For many “religious Jungians,” Jung’s “spirituality without religion” (Tacey 2001: 45) “merges almost effortlessly with ecospirituality, the worship of nature spirits, paganism, pantheism, and Wicca” (Tacey 2001: 179). But against the claims of Richard Noll’s The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, others reject decisively claims that Jung sought to become the much-worshipped high priest of a psycho-religious cult.

Likewise, Jung’s own materials must now be carefully distinguished from those of the generations of Postand Neo-Jungians (largely excoriated in Tacey 2001: ch. 4, “American New Age Jungian Inflation”). Already in 1981 Marilyn Ferguson, in The Aquarian Conspiracy, reported a survey of New Age people who listed overwhelmingly Teilhard de Chardin and C.G. Jung as their most-important international spiritual idols. But Tacey, who provides this reference, is quite aware that what a few New Agers at most might have actually studied would be at best a few passages in Myths, Dreams, Reflections. And many applications feature the shoddy pop-psych represented by Casey’s Making the Gods Work for You.

Jung was a figure upon which many psychological projections have been made – especially rather negative projections upon Jung (“devilish!”) by various institutional religious establishments. In an essay written for The

C.G. Jung Page on the Web (1998), Tacey notes that there are then also ways in which one might “find the New Age to be non-Jungian or even anti-Jungian in a number of important respects.” Nonetheless, Jung’s vision of the universe and human psychology within it have supported many ecological visions stressing a “one-world” framework.

William G. Doty

Further Reading

Casey, Caroline. Making the Gods Work for You. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.

Charet, F.X. “Understanding Jung: Recent Biographies and Scholarship.” Journal of Analytical Psychology 45 (2000), 195–219.

Charet, F.X. Spiritualism and the Foundations of C.G. Jung’s Psychology. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Ellenberger, Henri F. The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic, 1970.

Gottlieb, Roger S. “Spiritual Deep Ecology and the Left: An Attempt at Reconciliation.” In Roger S. Gottlieb, ed. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. New York: Routledge, 1996, 516–31.

Heisig, James. “Jung and Theology: A Bibliographical Essay.” Spring (1973), 204–55.

Jung, C.G. “The Function of Religious Symbols.” In William McGuire, ed. R.F. Hull, tr. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Collected Works 18.560–77. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Jung, C.G. “On Spiritualistic Phenomena.” In William McGuire, ed. R. F. Hull, tr. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Collected Works 18.697–756. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Jung, C.G. “Religion and Psychology: A Reply to Martin Buber.” In William McGuire, ed. R.F. Hull, tr. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Collected Works 18.1499–1513. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977.

Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Aniela Jaffé, recorder and ed. Richard and Clara Winston, trs. New York: Vintage-Random House, 1973 (1961).

Jung, C.G. “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass.” In Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. Psychology and Religion: West and East. Collected Works 11.296–448. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Jung, C.G. “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle.” In Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. The Structure and Dynamic of the Psyche. Collected Works 8.816–997. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Jung, C.G. “On the Nature of the Psyche.” In Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. The Structure and

Dynamic of the Psyche. Collected Works 8.343–442. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Jung, C.G. “Letter to Père Lachat.” In Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. Psychology and Religion: West and East. Collected Works 11.1532–57. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Jung, C.G. Answer to Job. In Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. Psychology and Religion: West and East. Collected Works 11.593–758 (also printed earlier as a single volume). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

Jung, C.G. Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Collected Works 9/II (particularly, “Christ, A Symbol of the Self”; “Background to the Psychology of Christian Alchemical Symbolism”). Michael Fordham and Herbert Read, eds. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969.

Jung, C.G. Alchemical Studies. Collected Works 13. Adler Gerhard and Herbert Read, eds. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Jung, C.G. “Alchemical Symbolism in the History of Religion.” In William McGuire, ed. R.F. Hull, tr. Psychology and Alchemy. Collected Works 12.516–54. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Jung, C.G. “Religious Ideas in Alchemy.” In William McGuire, ed. R.F. Hull, tr. Psychology and Alchemy. Collected Works 12.516–54. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Jung, C.G. Modern Man in Search of a Soul. W.S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes, trs. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1933.

Moore, Robert L. and Daniel J. Meckel, eds. Jung and

Christianity in Dialogue: Faith, Feminism, and Hermeneutics. New York: Paulist Press, 1990.

Noel, Daniel C. “Jung’s Anti-Modern Art of the Mandala.” In William G. Doty, ed. Picturing Cultural Values in Postmodern America. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995, 69–88.

Noll, Richard. The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Sabini, Meredith, ed. The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2001.

Shamdasani, Sonu. “Memories, Dream, Omissions.” Spring

57 (1995), 115–37.

Shamdasani, Sonu. Cult Fictions: C.G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Stein, Murray, ed. Jung on Christianity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Stein, Murray. “C.G. Jung, Psychologist and Theologian.” In Robert L. Moore and Daniel J. Meckel, eds. Jung and Christianity in Dialogue: Faith, Feminism, and Hermeneutics. New York: Paulist Press, 1990, 3–20.

Tacey, David. Jung and the New Age. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge-Taylor & Francis, 2001.

[In the selections of Collected Works, the numbers following the volume numbers refer to the long-established paragraph numbers in the Princeton University Press edition, not to pages.]

See also: Campbell, Joseph; Deep Ecology; Ecopsychology; Jung, Carl Gustav; New Age; New Religious Movements; Transpersonal Psychology.


Kabbalah and Eco-theology

Jewish mysticism is fundamentally concerned with cosmology and cosmogony, the origins and the process of creation, and the holism of creation in all its aspects, as well as the processes within divinity that sustain the world. Jewish mysticism has taken many forms throughout history, but the tradition we call Kabbalah became fully crystallized in the thirteenth century with the publication of the Zohar (“The Book of Radiance”). Kabbalistic literature spans many centuries and is incredibly diverse and complex; here the focus will be on themes within Kabbalah relevant to eco-theology.

While the literature of Kabbalah is vast, certain themes are persistent. Kabbalah is founded on the idea that the commandments of the Torah are given for the sake of restoring or healing the whole cosmos and reuniting it with the Infinite. As such, Kabbalah is the primary thread within Jewish tradition that imagines a purpose for the Jewish covenant, and hence, an intention within the divine will that embraces the more-than-human world, beyond both Israel and humanity. As Seth Brody wrote, “The kabbalist’s goal is to become a living bridge, uniting heaven and Earth, so that God may become equally manifest above and below, for the healing and redemption of all” (1993: 153).

Two fundamental kabbalistic principles provide a strong foundation for Jewish eco-theology. One is that “there is no place empty of God,” (leyt atar panui miney) that is, the presence of God can be found in every single creature and being. The other is that “the whole world is blessed because of us” (kula alma m’varkhin b’ginan) that is, the actions of the righteous bring blessing to the whole of creation and to the Earth and all its creatures, as well as to God. Moshe Cordovero (1522–1570, Palestine) elucidated the meaning of this principle in his work Or Ne’erav (“Sweet Light”):

Being involved in this wisdom, a person sustains the world and its life and its sustenance. And this is what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai [the main protagonist of the Zohar] explained in saying that “the world is blessed because of us” . . . for involvement with divinity causes cleaving, and when the human cleaves to the One who flows/guides the world, he causes the flow [of divine energy] necessarily, and

. . . causes to flow upon the world a great flow (1965: 32).

One of Cordovero’s most popular works, Tomer D’vorah (“The Palm Tree of Deborah”), sums up the human task as follows: “This is the principle: he should cause life to stream forth to all” (from the Hebrew, 1969: 21; see also 1974: 82). While there are many approaches to understanding Kabbalah, if one focuses on this principle, one finds a fertile ground in which to root contemporary Jewish eco-theology.

In addition to this foundation there are also several areas in Kabbalah which may be drawn upon for developing an ecological ethics, including views regarding the ethical treatment and moral standing of other animals and other species, the contemplation of the natural world as a revelation of divine presence, and the extension of the idea of God’s image from humanity to creation itself.

On the cosmological level, a number of characteristics of Kabbalah are equally significant for contemporary ecological thought. The holographic complexity that characterizes most kabbalistic texts is resonant for any theology of nature that attempts to account for contemporary science. For ecofeminism, the kabbalistic emphasis on balancing or uniting male and female at all levels, and the acknowledgement of the feminine aspect of the divine, are also intriguing, even though these texts generally maintain gender hierarchy. Finally, the sensuous way that Kabbalah understands cosmogony is echoed in the significance attributed to playfulness in contemporary ecopsychology.

Sefirotic Play

The Sefer Bahir (“Book of Brightness,” ca. twelfth century), the earliest articulation of what later came to be called Kabbalah, declares in a parable that when the king began building his palace (that is, when God began creating the world), a spring gushed forth. When he saw the spring, he said, “I will plant a garden, then I will delight (or “play”) in it, and so will all the world” (§5, Kaplan 1989: 3). Creation is seemingly both God’s act of delight or play, and a gift of delight to all the creatures.

The playful garden that the king planted is described later in the Bahir as the Tree of Life. This Cosmic Tree is defined in later Kabbalah as a particular pattern called the Sefirot (singular: Sefirah), which are together the image of God, or what Gershom Scholem (1991) called “the mystical shape of the Godhead.” The Sefirot are regarded alternatively as divine attributes, essence, emanations, instruments or vessels; different perspectives are emphasized by different kabbalists. The kabbalists in general found God by tracing back the pattern of God’s unfoldment (to borrow David Bohm’s term) through the levels of emanation, from one Sefirah to the next, and from one world to the next. These levels represent the way in which divine energies such as love and judgment, male and female, hidden and manifest, and so on, are balanced and made manifest. Everything has within it the essence and image of those supernal levels. The unifying concept in Kabbalah is that the structure of each “holon” manifests the Sefirot and so bears witness to the image of God. (“Holon” is Ken Wilber’s term for the way the nature of every being reflects the whole of what he calls “the Kosmos.”) At each level and within each entity, the kabbalists saw the pattern of the Sefirot, in a manner that we might call fractal or holographic.


Kabbalah embraced a holistic view of the universe which called for the expansion of divinity into the physical world. Kabbalah represents the theological science (in the medieval sense of the term) that draws all the worlds, including dimensions of God and nature, into one realm, one whole. “Implicit is a notion of sacred cosmology . . . The kabbalists’ faith involves a hierarchy of worlds that are ontologically higher than the material world” (Krassen 1999: 137). The work of the kabbalist is to draw the higher worlds into the lower and to unite the lower with the higher.

This tendency is most pronounced in the radical cosmogony that some texts propose: the universe is regarded as the shards of an original creation that shattered while it was still in the realm of the divine, carrying “sparks” of divinity into what became the physical realm. Each of these sparks is some part of the divine that has been alienated from its root. Human beings provide the vehicle to repair this brokenness and reunite the sparks with the whole. Equally important, the process that begins creation is understood to be a contraction of God, called tzimtzum, which makes space for the world to emerge. Isaac Luria (1534–1572, Palestine) in particular used images of birth to describe this process, suggesting quite literally that the universe or nature is somehow commensurable with God in the way that a child is with its mother.

These tropes teach that the human purpose in creation is to unify all realms of being with and within the divine. The kavanot or opening incantations that kabbalists added to their prayers expressed this purpose: “for the sake of the unification of the Holy One and the Shekhinah.” One of the most beautiful expressions is found in the remarkable opening prayer of the original Tu biSh’vat seder (a kabbalistic ritual meal in honor of the Mishnaic New Year for the trees, interpreted as the cosmic Tree), which is found in the book Chemdat Yamim (“Treasure of Days”, seventeenth century):

O God who makes, and forms, and creates, and emanates the upper worlds, and in their form and pattern you created their model on the Earth below; You made them all with wisdom, upper ones above and lower ones below, to join together the tent to become one . . . And this day is the beginning of your works, to ripen and renew . . . May it be Your will that the merit of our eating the fruit, and meditating on the secret of their roots above, you will bless them, flowing over them the flow of desire and energy, to make them grow and bloom, for good and for blessing, for good life and for peace . . . And may the Whole return now to its original strength . . . and may all the sparks that were scattered by our hands, or by the hands of our ancestors, or by the sin of the first human against the fruit of the tree, be returned to sustain in might and majesty the Tree of Life. “Then the trees of the forest will sing out,” and the tree of the field will raise a branch and make fruit . . . (translated and abridged by the author; for a complete translation see Krassen 1999: 148–51).

The purpose of wisdom, i.e., Kabbalah, is to both recognize and reestablish the pattern of the divine image, called here “joining the tent to become one.” One way to understand the holism of Kabbalah in modern terms is to consider the idea of the “more-than-human world.” This terminology was coined by David Abram to keep reminding us that “Nature” is not “out there” but also within, and that human society is part of the natural world. Conceptually, both God and nature are more-than-human; in certain moments, the distinction between the two is dissolved in the overwhelming power of being. This happens in Kabbalah through the sanctification of the world around us by holy acts. Every deed is an act of compassion for creation, as well as a fulfillment of tzorekh gavoha, the “need on high,” in the divine realm.

The Earth or Cosmos as Divine Body and Image

There are several themes in Kabbalah that relate to the idea that nature as a whole participates in divinity. Shekhinah, the “indwelling presence” which is the feminine dimension of divinity, is also called “the image which includes all images,” that is, the images of all creatures above and below (Zohar 1:13a). The Shekhinah, as the source of all divine shefa or overflow that reaches the lower worlds, is the image of God that is closest to the Earth:

R’ Eliezer said to him: Father, didn’t they learn above that there is no body and no substance? He said to him: My son, about the world-to-come it was said, for that is a supernal [i.e., purely immaterial] mother, but below there is the body of this world, which is the Shekhinah below (Tikuney Zohar §70, 131a).

The Shekhinah in some sense represents “Nature.” The Kabbalah’s conception of nature, however, is vastly different from both science and Gaia-spirituality. Compared to classical scientific determinism, nature in Kabbalah is potentially free and self-willing. But, unlike what one finds in the neo-pagan celebration of nature as MotherGoddess, nature Shekhinah must become united with the worlds above and hence with the transcendent. Hence nature is creative but it is not self-creating. According to some texts, this unification ends with the feminine being reabsorbed into the masculine, while others depict the feminine attaining equal stature, “eye-to-eye” with the masculine.

Whatever these images mean on a practical level, they imply an ambivalent relation to the natural world, which is insufficient in itself and needs to be redeemed. For this reason, Elliot Wolfson (2002) doubts whether Kabbalah has value for eco-theology. Seth Brody, Daniel Matt, Arthur Green, among others, however, find these tropes to be powerful grounds for creating an “eco-Kabbalah.”

Kabbalah conceptualized the cosmos as both tree and as Adam Qadmon (“primordial human,” sometimes translated “divine anthropos”), thereby connecting the divine image, the tree, and the cosmos itself through Adam. While some texts connect Adam Qadmon primarily with the upper or originary realms only (especially with the crown Sefirah, Keter), others see it as the macrocosm which inscribes the divine image onto the whole of creation. The former dualistic perspective (discussed below) and the latter holistic perspective can sometimes be found in the same text. This complexity suggests that a wholesale adoption of kabbalistic cosmology into a theology of nature cannot work without a re-reading of the texts.

Nevertheless, there were particular authors who consistently emphasized the inclusion of the Earth and the creatures in the divine image. Yosef ben Shalom Ashkenazi (fourteenth century Spain), for example, calls this “the secret of Adam HaGadol (the great Adam)”, explaining:

The human being should be called a small world, for in his form he is like all [the creatures of the world] – the human, formed of “the dirt of the ground” [Gen 2:8], included in himself the seal and structure and likeness and image of all ten Sefirot and all that is created and formed and made from them (1984: 36).

The Earth itself includes the seal and structure and image of God that became part of Adam. God’s image in Adam not only unites the whole of creation, but also carries within itself each created species and individual, that is, the entire diversity of creation. Isaiah Horowitz (1562–1630) similarly taught that God’s purpose in creating humanity was to unite the diversity of creation with God’s image: “ ‘The end of the thing’ [Eccl. 12:13] is Adam, who was created last . . . Adam was created at the end so that he could include everything in his image and likeness” (1996: 216).

God’s Image in the World

If the Sefirot are the soul of the world, then the substance of creation is sometimes treated as the body: “The ten Sefirot . . . are clothed in ten things that were created on the first day, and these are: skies and land, light and darkness, abyss and chaos, wind and water, the measure of day and the measure of night” (Tikuney Zohar §70:120a–b). At the same time, the pattern of the Sefirot at the highest level is the guarantor that every subsequent level is also an image of God. For example, the Sefirot, the angels, the animals of the Ezekiel’s chariot (human, lion, eagle, and ox), and the four elements are seen as manifestations of the same pattern at different levels (Horowitz 1996: 152).

Kabbalah also uses the letters of Yod Heh Vav Heh (which spell the holiest name for God, also known as the Tetragrammaton) to represent the structure of the Sefirot. Seeing these letters in a thing expresses the idea that God’s image or presence is manifest through that thing. For example, in Tikuney Zohar (a series of meditations on the first verses of Genesis, written in the style of the Zohar) each limb of the human body is an image of this name; each human being as a whole person is understood to be an image; and the diversity of humanity as one species is also an expression of God’s image, mapped on to YHVH (146a).

This trope was not limited to the human realm. The human species as a whole is further seen as one letter in the name formed by the spectrum of animal species represented in the chariot. Similar correspondences were drawn with respect to the bodies of other creatures like birds and fruit trees, and to other dimensions of the physical and supernal worlds like the colors of the rainbow, thereby relating various senses, spectrums and dimensions to YHVH. In general, those creatures which were seen as uniting the upper and lower worlds represent an image of God in the world, along with those symbols of human culture whose explicit purpose was to create unification, like the Torah and the Mishkan or Tabernacle.

On the largest scale, the four letters of the name YHVH were seen as corresponding to the multi-level process of emanation, becoming well-defined in the Kabbalah of Moses Cordovero according to four worlds or stages of being: emanating (Y), creating (H), shaping (V) and acting (H). From this perspective, the entirety of creation, embracing all the levels, is conceived to be an image of God. While in general all creation is in some sense part of God, some texts emphasize that the lower creatures are essentially part of God’s name. For example, the Zohar (in a later strata) explains:

In the secret of the ten Sefirot, all is included in this image of Heh. In this secret were created and fixed all these lower beings, and for this [reason] it’s written, “Elohim said: Let us make/N’SH in our image as our likeness” [Gen. 1:27] – literally “let us make/N’S the letter Heh, with all these that are existing below and are united in her, in her image, truly (Zohar Chadash, Sitrey Otiyot B’reishit, “Secrets of the Letters of Creation”).

When the physical dimension of being is not conjoined with the higher levels, then the final letter of God’s name, the Heh, is as it were missing, and the image of God is diminished. While Kabbalah mostly focused on specific manifestations of the Sefirot and God’s image, the image of God ultimately embraced the breadth and diversity of creation.

Rabbinic Roots and Modern Branches

Many elements found in Kabbalah are rooted in classical rabbinic texts. The raw material for kabbalistic cosmology includes the midrashic idea that the upper beings or heavens were created in God’s image, as well as the idea that the human body is a complete microcosm of the Earth. A second-century esoteric teaching, a tradition known as Shiur Qomah, delved into (“The Measure of the Body”) and held that God’s body was similar in structure to the human body but measured in the ancient equivalent of lightyears. This tradition provided a critical element that allowed Kabbalah to make a connection between God’s image and the physical cosmos. Even the expression “there is no place empty of God” is Talmudic in origin.

The classical texts, however, never made a connection between the structure of the cosmos, the human microcosm, and the image of God, and they explicitly stated that the lower beings or the creatures of the Earth were not created in God’s image. Kabbalah, on the other hand, penetrated the boundaries between heaven and Earth and between upper and lower realms, projecting the image of God, either directly or through various analogues, onto the “lower beings.”

Contemporary scholars such as Green and Seth Brody understand these texts to be the product of imaginations that embraced the diversity of creation; a paradigmatic text from the Zohar related to this theme has been translated by Matt (1996: 134). Krassen explains,

Nature is neither a source to be exploited for utilitarian benefits nor a sentimental vestige of the past to be romanticized by poets and naturalists. It is rather an ultimate link in a chain of divine manifestation that directly emerges from the divine source of life (137).

Other scholars like Hava Tirosh-Samuelson doubt that the intention of Kabbalah goes beyond the play of textuality and linguistic interpretation. While the author of this essay supports the former view, in either case, Kabbalah provides a powerful model for any contemporary theologian wanting to express the religious meaning of our encounter with the diversity of life. Applying these principles to eco-theology, as Green and Arthur Waskow do, if the image of God is an image of the diversity of life, then God’s image is diminished every time human beings cause another extinction.

Dualism and Repairing the Cosmos

According to some cosmologies, especially within Lurianic Kabbalah, the human of the Genesis story is born into an already shattered universe. This perspective led some kabbalists to a dualistic understanding of creation in which the connection between the Earth and imago dei is rejected. For example, in one Zohar passage, we read, “Adam Qadmon, even though his body is made from dirt, it’s not from the dirt here . . . Adam Qadmon has nothing from this world at all” (Zohar 3:83a).

This cosmology could be characterized as a “dual Earth” theory, where the element from which the primordial human is created is entirely derived from an anti-physical (or ante-physical) Earth. Nevertheless, even though the image of God is not expressed through the originary physical universe, our human bodies still have the potential to express the divine pattern, and this can only happen in completeness in the physical world. (This position radically divided Kabbalah from medieval Jewish philosophy.) In Lurianic doctrine, this is called raising the sparks to their root in divinity and purifying them from their materiality, and is called berur han’tzotzot. Through this process, the original brokenness of creation could be repaired; this is seen as the purpose of our existence. Thus, whereas rejection of the natural world is a possible consequence of Gnostic dualism, even within the most dualistic interpretations of Kabbalah, the purpose of humanity is to be engaged with the physical world and to bring redemption to the entirety of creation.


Because Kabbalah saw the redemption of the cosmos as something that could happen through every interaction with the world, some kabbalists developed an acute sensitivity toward other creatures, asserting for example that only one knowledgeable in Torah and engaged in the deepest contemplation of raising the sparks should be allowed to eat meat.

One of the foundations of kabbalistic ethics is that all creatures deserve and require respect. One seminal concept in Kabbalah is the idea of reincarnation; for many kabbalists this included the possibility that human beings could reincarnate as animals. But the seeds for this idea of respect are independent of the concept of reincarnation and can be found already in the classical rabbinic idea that everything has a place and one must despise nothing in the world. Cordovero, who developed this principle further than any other kabbalist, wrote:

One should train himself . . . to honour the creatures entirely, in whom he recognizes the exalted nature of the Creator who in wisdom created man. And so all creatures, the wisdom of the Creator is in them

. . . It is evil, too, in the eyes of the Holy One if any one of His creatures are despised. It is therefore written: “How great/rabu [diverse] are your works” [Ps. 104:24] – [this means] very important/rav ... (Cordovero 1974: 78; see also 71, 83–5).

Cordovero stressed that showing mercy and respect and bringing beneficence upon every aspect of creation is what it means to become like the Creator: “One’s mercy should extend to all creatures, neither destroying nor despising any of them. For the Supernal Wisdom is extended to all created things – silent, growing, moving and speaking [i.e., mineral, plant, animal and human]” (Cordovero 1974: 83).

The wisdom of the Creator is found in the pattern of the Sefirot. When a person imitates this pattern, they allow the influx of divinity to reach each and every being, according to Cordovero. He wrote that this principle has strong practical implications:

One should not uproot anything which grows, unless it is necessary, nor kill any living thing, unless it is necessary. And he should choose a good death for them, with a knife that has been carefully examined, to have pity on them as far as possible (Cordovero 1974: 84; see also 78).

Differing broadly from normative halakhah or Jewish law, Cordovero understood other creatures not in terms of human need, but rather in terms of the need of each living thing to fulfill its divine purpose. Human use must “elevate them higher and higher . . . for [only] then is it permitted to uproot the plant and kill the animal . . .” (Cordovero 1974: 78).

This deep understanding of ethics extended even to the interpretation some kabbalists gave to the prohibition against idolatry. Yosef Ashkenazi, who was quoted above, explained that the sin of idolatry is that it separates the worshipped thing from the divinity that comprises the whole:

Since all the existences, from the upper ones and the lower ones, all of them are tied into his great, mighty and awesome name, blessed and holy be, therefore he warned [Israel] to not worship them in separation from his name – only in the name of YHVH [as] one

. . . (1984: 148, 41b).

Here as elsewhere, the unity of being, which is concomitant with the presence of divinity in all being, is the root of the extraordinary proto-ecological sensibility displayed in Kabbalah.

Contemplation and Ritual

Kabbalists reconciled the unity of being with the diversity of creation by seeing every aspect of the world as simultaneously cloaking and revealing the divine. They found the Sefirot and the letters of God’s explicit name everywhere, and reached the spiritual dimension of things by engaging with the traces of the divine in the physical world. This engagement happened mostly through the projection of language and text onto the world, and thus focused on ideas at least as much as it focused on phenomena. However, the Lurianic doctrine of raising the sparks also focused the mystic’s consciousness on the depth within real physical things. Elevation of the sparks required direct contact with the physical world, through ritual and mystical intentions in any physical act. It engendered a deeper respect for the intrinsic value of other creatures and things than one finds in normative Judaism. The implication of kabbalistic theurgy (ritual or magic which operates on or affects divinity) was that proper intention and consciousness could reveal the divinity underlying all phenomena and unify phenomena with their source. The potential to create a phenomenology of holiness was made manifest by Chasidism in the eighteenth century. These ideas also inspired many Jewish thinkers, both in the Renaissance and the early modern period, to use Kabbalah to reconcile theology and science.

Some modern kabbalists gave full expression to the power of contemplating and understanding nature that is hinted at in Kabbalah. Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935, Palestine) wrote:

Contemplate the wonders of creation, the divine dimension of their being, not as a dim configuration that is presented to you from the distance but as the reality in which you live. Know yourself and your world . . . find the source of your own life, and of the life beyond you, around you, the glorious splendor of the life in which you have your being. The love that is astir in you – raise it to its basic potency and its noblest beauty, extend it to all its dimensions, toward every manifestation of the soul that sustains the universe . . . (1978: 207).

For Kook, the meaning of Kabbalah was found within the lived experience of the natural world. He wrote that from the knowledge of God, “there radiates . . . a love for the world, for all worlds, for all creatures, on all levels of their being. A love for all existence fills the hearts of the good and kindly ones among creatures, and among humans” (1978: 226). Kook’s theology may even be called biocentric, in the broadest sense, as further evidenced by his encomiums on the theory of evolution. Kook gave a directive to his students to embrace the natural world in the words quoted above, a directive that may be realized in part by contemporary work that unites Kabbalah with ecology.


Looked at over the course of its entire history, Kabbalah is a process which has led to an increasing embrace of the more-than-human world as divine in all its aspects. No particular text or moment in the history of Kabbalah completes the manifestation of this potential, but the trajectory of Kabbalah’s evolution points in this direction. The cosmogonic, ethical and spiritual dimensions of Kabbalah are all fundamental to any eco-theology or theology of nature in Judaism.

David Mevorach Seidenberg

Further Reading

Ashkenazi, Yosef ben Shalom. Moshe Hallamish ed. Perush L’parshat B’rei’shit (Commentary on Creation in Genesis). Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1984 (Hebrew).

Brody, Seth. “Human Hands Dwell in Heavenly Heights: Contemplative Ascent and Theurgic Power in Thirteenth Century Kabbalah.” In R. Herrera, ed. Mystics of the Book: Themes Topics and Typologies. New York: Peter Lang, 1993, 123–58.

Cordovero, Moshe. The Palm Tree of Deborah. Louis Jacobs, trans. New York: Sepher Hermon Press, 1974.

Cordovero, Moshe. Tomer D’vorah (Palm Tree of Deborah).

Jerusalem: Or Yiqar, 1969 (Hebrew).

Cordovero, Moshe. Or Ne’erav (Sweet Light). Jerusalem: Kol Y’hudah, 1965 (Hebrew).

Elon, Ari, Naomi Hyman and Arthur Waskow, eds. Trees, Earth and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999, 113–62.

Green, Arthur. EHYEH: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow.

Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2002.

Green, Arthur. “A Kabbalah for the Environmental Age.” In Tikkun 14: 5, 33–40. Revised in Hava TiroshSamuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, 3–15.

Horowitz, Isaiah. The Generations of Adam. Miles Krassen, trans. New York: Paulist Press, 1996.

Kaplan, Aryeh, trans. The Bahir. York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1989.

Kook, Abraham Isaac. Abraham Isaac Kook. Ben Zion Bokser, trans. New York: Paulist Press, 1978.

Krassen, Miles. “Peri Eitz Hadar: A Kabbalist Tu B’shvat Seder.” In Ari Elon et al., eds. Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999, 135–53.

Matt, Daniel C. God and the Big Bang: Discovering

Harmony Between Science & Spirituality. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1998.

Matt, Daniel C., ed. The Essential Kabbalah. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996.

Matt, Daniel C., ed. & trans. Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment. New York: Paulist Press, 1983.

Scholem, Gershom. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead. Joachim Neugroschel, trans. New York: Schocken Books, 1991.

Seidenberg, David. “The Cosmic Tree and the Human Body.” In Ari Elon and others, eds. Trees, Earth and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999, 263–75.

Seidenberg, David. “Crossing the Threshold: God’s Image in the More-Than-Human World.” Doctoral Dissertation. Jewish Theological Seminary, 2002.

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. “The Textualization of Nature in Jewish Mysticism.” In Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, 389–96.

Wolfson, Elliot. “The Mirror of Nature Reflected in the Symbolism of Medieval Kabbalah.” In Hava TiroshSamuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, 305–31.

See also: Depth Ecology; Eco-kabbalah; Hassidism and Nature Mysticism; Holism; Israel and Environmentalism; Judaism; Jewish Environmentalism in North America; Paganism and Judaism; Perennial Philosophy; Vegetarianism and Judaism (adjacent to Vegetarianism and Kabbalah); Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook; Waskow, Rabbi Arthur; Wilber, Ken.

Kalash Culture (Northwestern Pakistan)

Numbering approximately three thousand people, the Kalash are refugees scattered throughout roughly fifteen hamlets in the northwestern corner of Pakistan. Descending from the Indo-Europeans, they have dwelled in the mountains of the Hindu Kush for at least four millennia and have maintained indigenous pagan traditions. Through Muslim oppression at the end of the nineteenth century, most pagan people in Afghan’s Kafiristan (formerly Nuristan – kafir meaning “infidel”) either perished or adopted the majority religion. Among the three communities that now inhabit the last Kalash valleys in Pakistan, the Chitralis and the Katis both converted to Islam. It is the Kalash alone who still maintain original festivals and customs that relate to spiritual perceptions embedded in the environment.

According to one Kalash myth that indicates the value placed in nature, it is said that at the beginning, a very long time ago, gods, spirits, humans, animals and plants lived together and spoke the same language. This is the Kalash way of portraying the interrelation between humans, nature and the gods as co-dependent. The interconnection between humanity and the environment is expressed through the idea of an original common language shared by all.

Kalash polytheism is centered on ten central figures: their father-god Koda (Sajigor or Imra), a war-god Gish/ Guisch, Imra’s messenger Moni, a fortune-god Bag(u)isht, the god of peace Arom, the rain-god S(o)uteram, the winegod Inthr, the grain-goddess Dizane who also protects men in battle, the fecundity goddess Nirmali who protects pregnant women, and the goddess Kshumay/Kshoumaï who presides over the fertility of the goats. Through the gods’ essential identity with nature, Kalash polytheism suggests a form of pantheism in which everything is considered divine, and life is not understood as something separate from nature.

However, for the Kalash the sacred is understood vertically with a value scale that concerns each domain of life determined by the people’s mountainous habitat. At the top are the gods who dwell in the sky. They are followed by the mountain’s summit where the fairies live. It is these who intervene in human life and allow the shamans to predict the future. For instance, through dreams they indicate where the hunter will find game. Various tales concern the intercourse between fairies and human beings, and a person who displays strange behavior may be considered to have been born from a human–fairy union. The mountain’s mid-regions are understood as an intermediary domain in which the sacred and the profane are mixed. Women are forbidden, and possibly this is a more recent custom that develops from Muslim influence. Nevertheless, women are still respected; they have rights and are free, even though they appear to have lost their former status. It is in this more liminal region where men engage in hunting and erect altars for the gods. Finally, as the lowest level, valleys represent the impure world par excellence. Here are the places for cemeteries and menstrual houses. While husbandry is the men’s preserve and occurs in the higher habitats, the agriculture of the valleys is more the concern of women and is comparatively depreciated. The subterranean regions associated with roots, graves and, further, underground caves represent pollution in contrast to the ethereal heavens, so that the deeper one goes into the Earth, the more impure a state of being is involved.

This conception also determines the nobility of animals and vegetables themselves. For instance, goats are considered more sacrosanct than cows as they graze farther in the heights. The Kalash refuse to eat eggs and beef because of their impurity. These criteria are equally applied to the houses: chimneys are the most sacred place in a house as they are constructed in a wall which is built against the mountain. Similarly, the roof is the most sacred place of the goatshed. While the Kalash celebrate a great number of festivals, the spring celebration of Joshi in May is the most important. This is a time when men can reach the top of the mountain, kept by fairies during the winter, and try to obtain their benevolence. The dehar or shamans are said to have taught this code to men during the Golden Age.

The mountaintop is also the final this-worldly destination of the post-mortem soul. From here, fairies raise a bridge so that a horse may take the soul across to live in a golden house. It is difficult to know when this myth originated and whether it was influenced by Islamic culture. It is, however, reminiscent of some European developments, for instance the myth of Asgard in German and Scandinavian mythology.

In the importance of sacrifice to the Kalash, nature often plays a significant role. The chief sacrifice for the gods is the goat. From among the natural register, two plants are particularly important: the juniper, which is the only easily combustible plant that grows in the mountains, and the oak, which is considered holy. The oak’s persistence and presence in the heights links it with the gods. It is used in fumigation and purification rituals.

For the Kalash, nature is central to their relationship with the sacred. They read the signs and portents embedded within the landscape as if it were itself a divine book. Their concept of religion is that of an open contract, and every year each individual renews his or her engagement with the gods of nature during the winter solstice. This renewal is not prescribed through inherited dogma but constitutes a voluntary act through which the individual accepts a personal responsibility for the community’s relationship with the divine. Among the more important characteristics of individual life is the person’s social behavior, with one of life’s aims being the development of a generosity that future generations will recall.

The Kalash, however, are today in danger. Apart from the inroads of Islam, which has already influenced their culture, myths and customs, the Kalash must also face modernism and its accompanying ecological imbalance. The future of this small community is uncertain.

Anne Ferlat

See also: Faerie Faith in Scotland; Pantheism; Polytheism.

Kaphirintiwa – The Place of Creation (Central Africa)

According to Chewa and Nyanja tradition from Malawi and Zambia:

High above the clouds lived God Chiuta (the Big Bow), the only High God. Down below, the Earth was dry and sterile as there was no rain.

God Namalenga (the Creator) gathered the clouds together and covered the sky. God Mphambe (the

Lightning) made a flare of fire in the sky and thunder roared in the mountains of Dzalanyama. The lightning hit the rocks and broke them into pieces. The wind and rain swept the mountain top leaving a clean and soft surface; stones rolled down the mountain and sat at its foot to witness God’s power. Then God Chiuta lit the rainbow across the sky, touching the clouds. In the pouring rain, with the sky wide open, God himself came down with man and woman and all the animals. They descended at Kaphirintiwa. They stepped gently onto the soft surface and walked on the Earth for the first time. Later this surface hardened and became rock and their footprints were left on the stones as witness for the generations to come . . . Plants and trees grew big and strong and so was formed the dense thicket of bush of Kasitu, the sacred grove in which the mother shrine of the Chewa prospered (Boucher 2003; for other versions of this story see Werner 1906: 70–1; Ntara 1973: 8–9; Schoffeleers and

Roscoe 1985: 19–20).

Schoffeleers and Roscoe have argued that this is the most ancient of the central African creation stories. Subsequent writers have suggested that it may have been passed down to farmer communities from the autochthonous hunter-gatherers. This could indeed be the case as oral traditions state that there was an ancient hunter-gatherer settlement at Kaphirintiwa and surface archeological observations have confirmed this. Kaphirintiwa has therefore been a special sacred place for as far back into prehistory as we are able to see. The Kaphirintiwa creation myth is filled with symbolic messages and observations upon how the current social order came to be. Schoffeleers and Roscoe have discussed these meanings, while here I focus on the place of Kaphirintiwa itself.

The site of Kaphirintiwa is not simply a mythical place. It lies on top of the Dzalanyama mountain range near to the border of Malawi and Mozambique. Kaphirintiwa itself is just inside Mozambique. When approaching the site from Malawi, about two kilometres before Kaphirintiwa is a sacred forest with a sacred pool. This is known as “the gateway.” Here offerings must be left and only those who meet the conditions necessary for visiting Kaphirintiwa may pass beyond this point. The traditional conditions are that one should not have washed, shaved or engaged in sexual relations for seven days before the visit (the period of time may have been longer in the past).

Proceeding beyond “the gateway” the landscape opens up to a long upward slope of undulating rock. At the top of this slope is a second sacred forest known as Kasitu. Tradition states that it was in this forest that the first great central African rain shrine was founded on the site of an ancient BaTwa settlement (the BaTwa were the former hunter-gathering Pygmy inhabitants of the region). The shrine is no longer maintained and its exact original location within the forest is now forgotten. What is known is that the shrine persisted here for many centuries before it was moved down the mountain to Msinja in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. As at Msinja, there is a sacred pool near to Kasitu. Today, a traditional custodian still looks after the place and it is not unusual in times of trouble for people to travel to Kasitu today to make offerings.

Immediately below Kasitu to the west, on the Mozambiquan side of the Dzalanyama range, is a flat platform of rock with a group of egg-shaped rock monoliths at its centre. This is the place where it is believed that God, all the living creatures and the first human couple fell to Earth in the great thunderstorm. The platform of rock is pitted with shallow holes and it is these features that are said to be the impressions made when all of the feet fell into the soft rock. These imprints are evoked in the name Kaphirintiwa, which is translated “the hill that leaves traces behind” by Ntara (1973: 8).

B.W. Smith

Further Reading

Boucher, Claude. Digging our Roots: The Chamare Frescoes. Mua: KuNgoni Art Crafts Centre, 2003.

Ntara, Samuel J. The History of the Chewa (Mbiri Ya Achewa). Weisbaden: Frank Steiner, 1973 (originally published in 1950).

Schoffeleers, J. Matthew and Adrian Roscoe. Land of Fire: Oral Literature from Malawi. Limbe: Montford Press, 1985.

Werner, Alice. The Natives of British Central Africa.

London: Constable, 1906.

See also: Creation Myths in the Ancient World; Makewana the Rainmaker (Central Malawi); Rock Art – Chewa (Central Africa).

Kapu in Early Hawaiian Society

Hawaiians were aware of the breeding seasons and the biological diversity of the fauna of their islands. This required keen observational powers and ability to recognize the importance of what was seen. These observational powers may have grown out of necessity. There is evidence that the first Polynesian settlers in Hawai’i had a negative impact on the ecology and landscape of the islands. These perturbations included extinction, presumably by overhunting (impossible to verify since Hawaiians brought with them the dog and the Polynesian rat). Thus of 11 species of large flightless birds of the Family Anatidae (ducks) only one remains today. Although many forest birds used for feather cloaks have also gone extinct since 1848, (e.g., yellow and black mamo for feather capes, yellow and black o‘o used for feathered cloaks) these did so only after the introduction of mosquitoes and avian malaria which continues to drive native bird declines in the islands today. Techniques to take feathers but leave the birds alive had been developed and used for decades if not centuries.

Still, it is under the scenario of natural resource decline and loss that the ho‘o kapu and Kahuna systems are likely to have coevolved. The importance of kapu is seen in the meaning of the original Royal Hawaiian coat of arms, on which are two kapu signs; two poloulou or taboo sticks (white balls with staffs) and a triangular flag (puela) lying across two alia or spears which is a sign of tabu and protection.

By the late sixteenth century, burgeoning native population densities of the islands (between 500,000 and 800,000 depending on the model used) required innovation to feed their masses. The only way to avoid further biological extinction problems was to enhance dependence on agriculture, aquaculture, marine resources and placement of strong kapu on taking of those resources to stop over harvest.

The kapu system of prehistoric Hawaiian culture served as a control on action. The term has the dual meaning of taboo on the one hand and sacred on the other. It is likely that the kapu system of prohibitions taught by the Kahuna arose for reasons concerning control of the common people, a need to provide warning about attitudes or behaviors considered dangerous to health or society in general, and a need to control access to the natural resource base of economic and survival importance.

The Kahuna were priest educators, overseers of what was passed on to the next generation and innovators of new technologies when called for. The Kahuna system of prehistoric Hawai’i served as an educational and technical arm of the culture similar to how technical schools serve modern Western Society. Examples are seen in the Kahuna who taught canoe building, hale (house) building, navigation, and farming or fishing techniques among others. Associated with each endeavor were specific gods to whom one had to pay tribute, thought and prayer.

The spiritual taboo on activities important to everyday survival of the people and the culture gives insight into the strictness and rigidity of thought, and the harsh environmental conditions that had to govern the minds, spirit and bodies of those who created it. The conservation of this thought would occur through time if encoded and passed on from one generation to the next in chants, dances and as a part of the spoken folklore. Because it worked well to protect the culture against actions by members that hurt the tribe at large (e.g., overharvesting of fish), and because the island microcosm as the known physical universe of the tribe could be just as unforgiving, such finality of thought and decision seems justified. Remote and isolated island systems afford no easy escape so a loss of the culture or a significant portion of it might take place if the

kapu were not observed rigorously over time.

Agriculture and aquaculture required a system to pass techniques and technology to the next generation. To verbally codify this knowledge system into the religious order of the day and frame it within kapu restrictions ensured its survival. Linking daily activities to kapu-based systems could do this. Examples are seen with regard to activities that followed the 29½-day Hawaiian lunar calendar. Planting, fishing, harvesting and even cloth making and prayer were observed on strict schedules.Thus, pre-contact Hawaiian culture became highly structured, governed by strict religious customs that helped protect the natural and political environment. For example, some days were simply “off limits” (kapu) for fishing. Upon fear of death, dismemberment and scattering of one’s iwi (bones) preventing one from finding peace as a kupuna or revered ancestor of the family, one did not fish on kapu days at all. Some months were also kapu, fishing was avoided in April and May for specific species. Only eight of the days in any month would be considered good for fishing. An exception occurred during the Makahiki (the winter months celebration for the primary god Lono and the period when the Chiefs collected the tribute as a form of taxation) when fishing in general was avoided. These harvest restrictions occurred during spawning periods, enabling the resource to reproduce and replenish itself, providing a continual food source.

The Kahuna related this special knowledge to the gods and to natural elemental forces the gods controlled. Examples can be seen in the teaching of the daily and monthly kapu and maintaining the rituals, and in special dietary restrictions such as the kapu ‘ohi‘a, which forbade eating from certain food patches during a famine (were these seed sources that needed protection?). Women were generally under many more kapu than men, including many food restrictions considered to be embodiments of the primary male gods Kane and Kanaloa (pig, most bananas (kapu mai‘a), many fish, coconuts, most foods used sacrificially). Women could not enter Heiau (places of public ceremony) or even household shrines, could not participate in central religious practices, and could not prepare or grow kalo (taro). Many kapu were set aside during the Makahiki along with war, sailing on the ocean, making of cloth (tapa), drum playing, and farming. Even the kapu of the lunar cycle were set aside, heiau were closed and religious services were suspended.

But the dual kapu-kuhuna system collapsed in the postcontact world after the discovery of the islands by Captain James Cook in 1779. The collapse was driven by the introduction of Western cultural ways, including Western religions proselytized by priests who did not appreciate the unique cultural function of either the Kahuna or the kapu systems. The Hawaiian people themselves may have come to distrust the kapu system when they noticed that the breaking of strict rules by foreigners had no apparent consequence. In addition, foreign gods seemed stronger since foreigners had better technologies, clothing and tools. The reliance on Western law grew to dominate the culture.

Today, Hawai’i struggles with the loss of the culture and the kapu system and what this loss has meant for Hawaiian marine and terrestrial resources. There is no replacement of the religious context in which Hawaiian resource use and conservation took place. The result is a disconnection between conservation of limited resources, the current system of Western-based laws, and the growth potential and anthropogenic impact of large human populations. This has resulted in the Hawaiian Islands becoming known as a “hotspot” in scientific circles for species loss. Fully 28 percent; of all United States Endangered Species Act listings occur in Hawai’i, which is now a microcosm of what is happening in the world.

William Steiner

Further Reading

Abbott, Isabella Aiona. La‘au Hawai’i: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1992.

Johnson, Rubellinte Kawena. Kumulipo: The Hawaiian Hymn of Creation. Honolulu: Topgallant Publishing Co., 1981.

Kamakau, Samuel Manaiakalani. Tales and Traditions of the People of Old. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1991.

Kent, Harold W. Treasury of Hawaiian Words. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1986.

Lawrence, Mary Stebbins. Old-Time Hawaiians. Honolulu: Patten Publishing Co., 1939.

Pukui, Mary K. and Alfons L. Korn, trs. The Echo of our Song: Chants and Poems of the Hawaiians. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1973.

See also: Hawai’i; Pacific Islands; Polynesian Traditional Religions; Surfing; Volcanoes.

Kasama Spirit Sites (Northern Zambia)

Kasama town sits on top of a low sandstone ridge a few hundred meters above the forested plains of northern Zambia. Immediately east and west of the town, along this ridge, are areas of massed boulders. In places these boulders are so massed that they form a labyrinth of small and winding passageways. The densest areas of rock each have a name and these names refer to a series of spirits who are believed to dwell in the rocks, in the water sources and unusual natural features in the area. The Bemba who live in this area today refer to these spirits collectively as ngulu. There are more than a dozen ngulu living within a thirty-kilometer radius of Kasama town.

Beliefs in general spirits of natural forces and ancestral spirits are almost universal amongst Bantu-speaking groups throughout central Africa, but the ngulu are somewhat different. As noted by Andrew Roberts, these are not forces of nature or spirits of dead people: rather they represent the land in which they have their abode. The unusual nature of these spirit creatures may reflect an ancient origin. The Bemba say that they found these spirits already living in the area when they arrived (probably some time in the first millennium). If this is correct then the beliefs may have been passed down from the autochthonous hunter-gatherers of the area: the Batwa (or Pygmies). Some support for this comes from the fact that this area has more Batwa rock art sites than the whole of the rest of central Africa taken together.

Whatever their origin, each ngulu has a particular site of residence. Where this is a rock, it is usually in a group of boulders with a dark crevice between them. People will visit these places to speak with the spirits and it is believed that the spirits often answer. The reason for visiting the spirit is usually to ascertain and overcome the reason for illnesses within the family or for misfortunes. There is a hierarchy to the spirits, with some recognized as more powerful than others. The less powerful spirits, such as Mwankole, Sumina, Chama and Kaponyansuli can be approached with little preparation, but, to approach the more powerful ones such as Mwela, Changa and Mulenga (and formerly Chishimba), extensive preparations are needed. Traditional preparations include not shaving, not washing and abstaining from sex for a period of a week before the visit.

When visiting an ngulu people traditionally wear white cloth and bring white gifts such as flour, traditional beer, white beads and white clay called mpemba. Sometimes a white chicken will also be slaughtered. The descriptions of what happens when one consults with an ngulu vary from person to person. Many people describe how, when they approach those ngulu who dwell in the rocks, the rocks will open up and they go inside and speak with the spirit. Sometimes people say that the ngulu appears in the form of an animal, bird or lizard. The python and other large snakes are among the most common forms described. All agree that particular ngulu do not stick to one form, each can take a variety of forms. Sometimes only the voice of the ngulu is heard. On other occasions ngulu may fail to appear at all.

The power of the ngulu is believed to extend beyond its place of residence. People are sometimes spoken to by the ngulu in dreams and, on rare occasions, people may be possessed by the ngulu. This reaching out of the power of the spirit is particularly true of the strongest spirits such as Changa. Today people continue to come from many hundred of kilometers away to give offerings to and to consult with the spirits around Kasama. One particular spirit, Mwankole, has become a place of pilgrimage for those afflicted with AIDS. In the mid-1990s a former Minister of Tourism was possessed by Mwankole and, following tradition, he went to the dwelling place of the spirit, cleaned it, and built a small grass-roofed structure in the site. Under this structure he placed a range of offerings to spirits. Sometimes such offerings will appease the spirit and the possession will end. At other times, as in this case, the possession leads to death.

As well as the personal interactions with the ngulu there is (or was) also a formal curatorial structure for the Kasama spirits. Each ngulu had a keeper who looked after its dwelling places, sweeping the area clean and so on. Only a few ngulu have keepers today. These local custodians fell under a spirit priest with the title of Kamima. Kamima was a key spiritual adviser to the Bemba paramount chief Chitimukulu. The position was inherited according to the matrilineal principle, and the village of the Kamimas is known even today by the name of the title. Kamima was charged with looking after all the ngulu and, before the rains each year, he had to conduct rituals at each spirit site in order of importance, culminating at Changa. The last time that these ceremonies were performed in their traditional manner was in the 1950s. Today the Kamima performs rituals only in times of particular need, or if requested by the Chitimukulu.

B.W. Smith

Further Reading

Roberts, Andrew D. A History of the Bemba. London: Longman, 1973.

Sheane, J.H. West. “Some Aspects of Awemba Religion and Superstitious Observances.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 36 (1906), 150–8.

Smith, Benjamin W. Zambia’s Ancient Rock Art: The Paintings of Kasama. Livingstone: National Heritage Conservation Commission, 1997.

See also: Rock Art – Batwa/Pygmies (Central Africa).

Kawabata, Yasunari (1899–1972)

Kawabata Yasunari was a Japanese novelist, short-story writer, literary critic, and aesthetic theorist. His youth was filled with loneliness and death. Both parents died when he was young, then the grandmother he lived with passed away, as did his sister, leaving him with his blind grandfather. At first he wanted to become a painter, but in school he studied Western and Japanese literature. His early story Izu Dancer (1927) was highly regarded, and Snow Country, his most celebrated book, was published in 1938 (and revised ten years later). In 1968, he became the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Four years later he died of an apparent suicide.

Kawabata’s novels are distinctive in many ways.

Perhaps more than any other Japanese writer, he fused traditional Japanese aesthetics with a modern sensibility of alienation, ennui, and even depravity. His works display an exquisite sensibility to both nature’s beauty and its spiritual dimension. His descriptions of the natural world are highly sensual, detailed, and realistic, yet they also have an ethereal character that suggests a deeper dimension: a metaphysical immensity and stillness that encompasses the human drama and elicits yearning and inexplicable sorrow. Much of the rich meaning in his novels is found in the mood and atmosphere evoked (as in the classical no¯ drama) as much as the plot or characters. Commentators often note that the characters in his novels tend to merge with nature. At the same time, the characters often remain distant from each other, suggesting paradoxically both the failings of modern relationships and an ideal of a pure love heightened by yearning and unsullied by physical consummation. Indeed, one of his central themes is purity. But perhaps most of all, his writings are characterized by the joining of beauty and sadness (the title of one of his novels), both in his depictions of love and his aesthetic metaphysics.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Japan, the Beau- tiful, and Myself, Kawabata offered insight into his own aesthetics by commenting on qualities of classical Japanese literature and art. He praised the Shinkokinshu¯ , the great thirteenth-century poetry collection, for its “elements of the mysterious, the suggestive, the evocative and inferential, elements of sensuous fantasy that have something in common with modern symbolist poetry” (1969: 44), words that astutely describe his own novels. This aesthetic is closely related to the ideal of yu¯ gen (“mystery and depth”). Originally a Chinese Daoist term for the essential color of the universe (deep purple), it suggests the subtle and melancholy beauty of a reality that exceeds our grasp. This metaphysical dimension is not a separate realm: the natural world of form and color is never negated or transcended but rather is enriched by a deeper reality to which it is always connected (similar to the Daoist notion of non-being).

In his Nobel speech, Kawabata extolled the classical aesthetic of mono-no-aware, a tranquil sorrow at the transience of what is beautiful and fragile, a sentiment found in his own works. He also pointed to the asymmetrical aesthetic of Japanese gardens as an art form that can suggest the vastness of nature. So too, the small, spare room used for the tea ceremony evokes limitless space, as well as the austere elegance of wabi. Throughout the speech, Kawabata also highlighted the significance of Zen Buddhism to traditional Japanese aesthetics and to his own.

His metaphysics of nature is seen in the famous opening scene of Snow Country, in which the protagonist, Shimamura, is startled to see the eye of a beautiful woman reflected in the window. Her eye merges with the mountainous background “into a sort of symbolic world . . .” (1956: 15). The train moves through a long, dark tunnel into that world as “the depths of night turned white with snow.” Whiteness, the traditional Shinto color for the ideal of purity, permeates the novel and is significant in part because “White is the cleanest of colors, it contains in itself all the other colors” (1969: 51). At one point the purity of white is set off against the color of yu¯ gen, displaying Kawabata’s ability to evoke simultaneously the erotic and the metaphysical: “The brightness of the snow was more intense, its seemed to be burning icily. Against it, the woman’s hair became a clearer black, touched with a purple sheen” (1956: 48).

Kawabata’s sense of the beauty of nature, the intimate relationship of humans to nature’s metaphysical dimension, and his use of classical literature are revealed in the final scene of Snow Country. A building is in flames amid the night snow. As the sparks rise to the sky, Shimamura gazes at the “terrible voluptuousness” (1956: 134) of the River of Heaven (the Milky Way), which the poet Basho¯ had made famous in a haiku. From the building, Shimamura’s lover Komako carries out another beauty who had entranced Shimamura from a distance. At that moment, “his head fell back, and the Milky Way flowed down inside him with a roar” (1956: 142).

David Landis Barnhill

Further Reading

Gessel, Van C. Three Modern Novelists: So¯ seki, Tanizaki, Kawabata. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993.

Kawabata, Yasunari. Beauty and Sadness. Howard Hibbett, tr. New York: Knopf, 1975.

Kawabata, Yasunari. Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself. Edward G. Seidensticker, tr. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1969.

Kawabata, Yasunari. Thousand Cranes. Edward G. Seidensticker, tr. New York: Knopf, 1958.

Kawabata, Yasunari. Snow Country. Edward G. Seidensticker, tr. New York: Knopf, 1956.

See also: Aesthetics and Nature in China and Japan; Buddhism – East Asia; Daoism; Japanese Love of Nature; Japanese Religions; Zen Buddhism.

Keepers of Lake Eyre (South Australia)

The Keepers of Lake Eyre (KOLE) are an intercultural collective maintaining an anti-uranium protest enclave at Lake Eyre in the South Australian desert. Part of a reenchantment-seeking radical ecology movement, KOLE members are generally young eco-pilgrims committed to the rights of Aboriginal peoples and the natural environment. Acting under the authority of inspirational Arabunna elder “Uncle” Kevin Buzzacott, their enclave (otherwise known as the Arabunna Coming Home Camp) is situated 180 kilometers north of Roxby Downs where Western Mining Co (WMC) work one of the world’s largest copper/uranium deposits. KOLE oppose WMC’s operation which constitutes a major threat to both arid lands ecology and Aboriginal culture in the Lake Eyre region. WMC’s growing demands on underground water sources in one of the driest regions on the planet has had a devastating impact on Aboriginal peoples (especially Arabunna and Kokatha) since such sources feed the precious springs around the Lake Eyre region essential for their cultural survival.

In 1997, the South Australian government handed WMC control of Aboriginal Heritage (sacred sites) over 1.5 million hectares of the state – in a region (Billa Kalina – the area between Coober Pedy, Maree and Woomera) already suffering the consequences of experiments conducted at the start of the nuclear era (atomic weapons testing in the 1950s), and sited to become a nuclear dumping ground (the planned national radioactive waste dump). Buzzacott’s Going Home camp was established on 26 March 1999 to coincide with the official opening of WMC’s Olympic Dam Expansion Project – a project licensed to draw up to 42 million litres of water per day from the Great Artesian Basin.

Water, bored by WMC to mine and mill uranium, lies at the heart of the matter. According to the KOLE website (www.lakeeyre.green.net.au):

Arabunna tell of a time, not long ago, when the springs flowed strong and there was enough water for everyone. Now the Land is getting drier and drier, the Kangaroos and Emus are scarce, there are fewer Custodians than ever and the Sacred Springs are dying, some have already gone.

As for Buzzacott, Lake Eyre “is hurting and it’s calling

. . . If you feel strong in spirit to save the Old Lake then be there. We invite you to come with your strong spirit.” Responding to the call, hundreds of inspirited activists bestowed with the title “Keepers of Lake Eyre,” have gravitated to the region surrounding the vast inland salt lake. KOLE formed in Adelaide in early 1999. Again, their web-site states that Keepers are “very recent additions to a long line of Custodians and Protectors of Lake Eyre,” and that their goal is to “support and further the upkeep of Arabunna Law [which] demands the protection of Arabunna Country, Culture, Spirituality and People.” Furthermore, Keepers are said actively to perform “the responsibilities we all have for Mother Earth and her life giving resources.”

Under the authority of Arabunna elders, proactive non-Aboriginal “custodians” are thus educated about the culturally significant Mound Springs, engaging in activities – blockades, vigils, fund raisers and educational workshops – through which their identification with, and attachment to, this threatened region is enacted. Through their rites and communities of protest, they commit to defending country that they have come to know and experience as sacred.

As an intriguing dimension to this story, the sacrality attributed to the region by inhabitants from diverse backgrounds, is extended to uranium itself – a reality reminiscent of other sites of environmentalist/Aboriginal solidarity, such as that which transpired at the now stalled Jabiluka project in Kakadu National Park opposed by the Mirrar. In these cases, far from being evil or malign, uranium is considered sacred – which is true so far as it remains untouched, “pure.” In such circumstances dialogue occurs between local mining, beleaguered indigenes attempting to maintain obligations toward country, and non-indigenous environmentalists who believe that unearthing uranium constitutes the violation of an environmental taboo. For both, uranium’s unearthing is dangerous – amounting to desecration. Possessing a mixture of science and Aboriginal religion, they hold the view that uranium should not be tampered with, it must “stay in the ground” – its disturbance, removal and milling presaging disaster, sickness and ruin.

KOLE is one of many new intercultural alliances evidencing post-colonialist sensibilities in Australia. With their proactive ecologism effected under indigenous cultural and religious authority, the political and spiritual dimensions of their opposition to existing practices are inseparable. For non-indigenes, a level of custodianship is conferred. Activist Rufus describes his experience at the camp in 1999:

Every day we would sit around the fire and Uncle Kev would describe his vision of the future, or what he thinks are the steps we need to take to create the future that we want to live in. His ideas were progressive in the sense that anyone who comes out here to this bit of land and feels the spirit of the old lake and dances on the land, they’re welcome. And you feel the call to defend it (Interview with the author, May 2000).

Dwelling beside the Lake on and off since its inception, doing “whatever it takes to look after the land,” young environmentalists Marc and Izzy have become “Keepers of Lake Eyre.” According to “Uncle Kevin,” says Marc,

Lake Eyre is calling, and it’s calling us back. The old spirits are calling us to come and protect the country and look after the country. So we need to be there to make sure nobody comes in and stuffs up the country. So basically we sit on our hill that overlooks Lake Eyre. We keep an eye on Lake Eyre (Interview with the author, May 2000).

Such activists have come to identify closely with threatened nature – establishing, through ethical action, a legitimate right to belong.

Graham St John

See also: Aboriginal Dreaming (Australia); Australia; Mother Earth.

Kenya Green Belt Movement

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is an innovative, community-based, development and environmental organization with a focus on community mobilization and empowerment for sustainable development and especially for environmental conservation. The movement seeks to improve the livelihoods of communities, alleviate poverty, and promote the rights of women, and it has done so by focusing especially on tree planting and environmental conservation. Professor Wangari Maathai founded the GBM in 1977. Her work and the movement received international acclaim when in 2004, at the age of sixty-four, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Maathai initiated the movement under the auspices of the National Council of Women of Kenya, where she interacted much with rural women. During these interactions she realized that women were faced with a problem of insufficient fuel wood after years of woodland destruction to pave the way for cash-crop farming. It was therefore easy to craft together Green Belt Movement and work with rural women on a project that addressed their immediate need for fuel wood.

After 25 years of working with the Green Belt Movement, the founder/coordinator of the movement, Professor Wangari Maathai, was elected to parliament after the December 2002 elections. She was then appointed Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife. The renowned environmentalist has gained world acclaim through her selfless contribution to local, national and global issues on environmental concern. She has been working very closely with other global greens and by the time of her appointment to the government, she was (and still is) a member of Mazingira Green Party which she helped to found. The Green Belt Movement is currently nurturing the Society of Greens project, through which it is working hard to capture the prevailing environmental awareness in Kenya.

The primary energy behind the movement is rural women, who work to save and protect their immediate natural environment and especially biological diversity of plants and animals threatened with extinction. Although women are the main driving force, men and children are also involved in the planting and caring of trees, especially on school compounds. Even then, men plant trees more as an economic investment for the future, while women and children plant trees to meet the currently felt needs of communities. These needs include wood-fuel, fencing and building materials, fruits for better health – especially for children – shade and aesthetic beauty. Traditionally, trees and nature in general were highly valued in African religion. In my community, with which I am very familiar, use of biodiversity was a specialized discipline where men and women had distinct relationships with all the various life forms. For instance, when building or fencing, branches of trees or coppices of coppicing trees were cut by men, but not the whole tree. Women would only collect dead dry wood for firewood. Ficus spp. is especially valued for spiritual purposes and would not be cut down under whatever circumstances. A variety of other species were regarded as peace trees and therefore conserved for these purposes. Parts of these trees would be used in peace building, especially during tribal or clan conflicts.

Unfortunately, these cultural environmental ideals were lost during the colonial period when traditional religion was effectively phased out and replaced with the conventional religions. Most Kenyans today are Christians, and members of the GBM constituency are almost 100 percent Christian. It is for this reason that GBM uses the biblical story of creation to reach out to the hearts of communities and show them that God, after all, created human beings after all the other members of the living and non-living community because human beings could not survive without them. All vegetation, animals and birds, waters and the atmosphere can do very well without human beings. But human beings cannot live without each of these. This approach helps in enabling people to understand that even though the Bible says that human beings were given dominion over the rest of the creation, they must be disciplined in using the resources they have been endowed with since their eventual exhaustion means eventual death to human beings. And this effectively prepares people for a change in mindset from dominion to stewardship of God’s creation. This again introduces a new jurisprudence where human beings consider themselves as co-creations of God with vegetation, animals and birds, and relearn to accord them due respect. This new jurisprudence is rooted in the indigenous way of life where people respected nature and viewed themselves as part of the greater whole of the universe. They controlled the way they extracted resources from their immediate environment and had their way of life (including spirituality) woven closely together with the environment. Although global warming is not a well-known issue or motivation among the rural women, trees also contribute as a carbon sink for greenhouse gases.

The religious teaching of the Green Belt Movement is informed by the fact that close to 90 percent of Kenyans are Christians, these having closed their eyes to their culture and embraced Christian spirituality completely. The dominant Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian denominations are promisingly receptive to the teachings on environment and actually preach this in their churches. They also encourage their adherents to participate in activities that heal the Earth like planting trees in church compounds and on their farms. However, there has been marked indifference in some of the evangelical churches, who view the Green Belt Movement as controversial because it encourages people to think about the Earth as they think about heaven! Again this attitude is slowly waning as people are confronted by the harsh ecological realities of their actions embodied in constant droughts and famines, floods and landslides. All of these calamities are contributing to much destruction and loss of life.

GBM Approach to Development

The community-based approach of GBM enables it to address all people in the community, and in that way development efforts become a truly communal effort. Project implementation is done in close partnership with communities, which are provided with the financial and training back-up they need to improve their capacity. GBM also monitors, evaluates and reports on the progress of the project to donors and friends. Members of local communities provide labor, local expertise, knowledge and follow-up, which are valuable aspects of community involvement in project management. Communities are also partly responsible for the sustainability of projects.

Vision and Mission

The vision of the Green Belt Movement is to create a value-driven society of grassroots people who consciously work for continued improvement of their livelihoods. The mission is to mobilize community consciousness for self-determination, equity, justice, environmental conservation and improved livelihood securities (food, shelter, education, health, employment, and human rights), using both civic and environmental education and tree-planting projects as the entry point.

One of the unique attributes of the Green Belt Movement is that it is a value-driven organization committed to the principles and values of sound environmental management. Such values are well articulated by the Earth Charter, which resulted from the efforts of many sectors of civil society in the years after the United Nations “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Many of the principles of the Earth Charter reflect the values and ethical philosophy of GBM. That is partly why GBM was happy to accept an invitation to promote the Charter in the African region. The values of GBM include: working to achieve accountability, integrity, commitment, transparency, reverence for life, and intergenerational responsibility. Others are the spirit of volunteerism and service to the common good, a deep desire for self-fulfillment and dignity, and a love for a greener, cleaner environment. Through its educational seminars, the organization also encourages a strong motivation for self-betterment, a thirst for self-knowledge and self-empowerment, and a desire to improve oneself. Other values include a personal commitment and dedication to serve communities. These values are not new; they are also shared by many organizations committed to development and societal transformation.

Core Projects

To achieve its vision and mission, GBM developed a program that incorporates Four Core Projects:

Tree planting on public lands

The objective of this project is to inculcate, within community members, the culture of planting trees as well as protecting local biological diversity of plants and animals and commonly owned resources such as forests, green open spaces, riparian and road reserves, wildlife and sites of cultural significance.

Promotion of food security at household level

The objective of this project is to assist communities in analyzing and understanding the threats to their food security as well as learning and practicing simple agricultural techniques. This would enable them to consistently provide adequate farm-sourced food of high nutrient value and variety to their households. The project aims at enhancing farmers’ knowledge of local biodiversity, indigenous dietary principles, indigenous crops and their role in food security, organic farming and other techniques for improving productivity and food processing.

Advocacy and networking

The objective of this project is twofold. First, to bring actions of poor governance and abuse of the environment into the national and international limelight; secondly, to rally resistance against such anti-environmental actions and thereby stop violation of environmental rights. There is a strong synergy between advocacy and civic and environmental education, and therefore GBM adopts an integrated approach in the implementation of the two projects. When individuals and communities understand the causes and consequences of injustices (through civic and environmental education) they are driven to advocate a more equitable order – be it social, economic or political. Advocacy and networking is done both at the local and international levels. Within Africa, a Pan African Green Network has been formed, partly to promote green consciousness in the region. GBM has reached 36 organizations in 15 African countries where it is hoped that a strong environmental movement will eventually emerge, especially in Eastern and the Horn of Africa regions.

Civic and environmental education

The objective of this project is to raise awareness concerning primary environmental care so as to enhance knowledge, attitudes and values that support sustainable grassroots socio-economic and ecological welfare. The aim is to make people more responsible in matters affecting their livelihoods as well as those of the wider community. The course emphasizes the responsibility of the current generation to those in the future, the need for a self-regulatory jurisprudence and the principles articulated in the Earth Charter. This project also attempts to show the connection between culture and spirituality and environmental conservation.


The GBM has empowered local communities to implement activities such as mass action events to protest destruction of forests, privatization of open public green spaces in urban centers and the destruction of watershed areas. GBM has recorded much success in advocacy work, especially in saving public open lands including Karura Forest, Uhuru Park, Gevanjee Gardens and Kamukunji grounds in Kenya. Local green belt womens’ groups have also saved many local open spaces in the rural areas. GBM’s persistent and consistent advocacy work partly contributed to the government’s decision to introduce an Environment Management and Coordination Act (1999), which is a new law to protect the environment. A Forest Bill has been drafted and a Land Commission, which has finished its report and handed it over to the president, was established to look into Kenyan land laws and make recommendations.

At the end of 1998, GBM commenced an organizational development process and produced a strategic plan

(2000–2002). With that, Phase I (1977–1999) was closed. Phase I had facilitated the establishment of 6000 women tree nursery groups throughout the country, especially among farming communities. The groups mobilized over 100,000 rural women, who in turn mobilized their communities to plant trees, especially on their farms.

One of the major achievements of GBM in Phase I was mass planting of twenty million trees. Other achievements include the fact that many women no longer need to walk long distances to collect firewood since it is now produced on their own farms. Some women have also adopted energy-saving cook-stoves to promote family health and energy conservation. Such technologies particularly reduce respiratory tract diseases. The planting of many fruit trees has contributed to the betterment of nutrition and health, especially among children. Therefore, a firm foundation has been laid on which GBM will further achieve community development. For their extension work during Phase II, women will continue to be financially compensated by GBM, but this will be done through purchase of seedlings surviving after transplanting on public lands. This will generate some income for the women extension workers.

Conservation of Local Indigenous Biodiversity: The Current Focus

GBM decided to focus on planting of trees on public lands because these can easily be conserved to become in situ seed and gene banks. Also, the GBM emphasizes the benefits of conservation of biological diversity and effective carbon sinks. Since much of the local biological diversity is on public lands such as forests, local hills, riverbeds, highways, etc., it becomes necessary to educate the public that, contrary to popular opinion (influenced by system of governance), public lands, and the biological diversity in them, are a common heritage. These resources should therefore be protected and conserved and not allowed to be extracted or privatized by greedy and corrupt individuals at the expense of the common good of communities and future generations. To address the threat of lost biological diversity, soil erosion and seeds of food crops, GBM has encouraged women groups to form community networks, which are a culmination of many years of training and empowering communities, to take charge of their environment and their livelihoods. The networks represent a unique way of empowering communities so that they can protect forests and sources of biological diversity near them, collectively. Training of these networks has encouraged many communities to get involved in the protection of sites of interest near them, such as sacred forests, watersheds, catchment areas, indigenous food crops and wildlife. Kaya Forests on the Kenyan coast are one example of such sacred forests. The local people protect the forests with the assistance of the government, but the essential principles underlying the protection bid are cultural/spiritual. The local people still practice their spiritual and other cultural activities in the forests and these form the basis of the protection of the forests. Besides these networks, GBM also trains local leaders like the clergy (mainly from the Anglican and Presbyterian churches), progressive farmers, and teachers, so that they can work alongside the women networks. Activities of these networks also contribute toward poverty reduction, especially since poverty has become both a symptom and a cause of environmental degradation.

During Phase I, and despite GBM’s persistent appeal to plant indigenous trees, plants and food crops, many farmers opted for exotic species of trees. This was because they perceived indigenous trees as having a disadvantage of delayed material benefits, due to slow growth. Communities also felt that some indigenous trees create large canopies that take up too much arable space on farms. Besides, farmers felt that indigenous trees are not as easily commercialized as the exotic trees introduced during the colonial era for quick commercial exploitation. Even then, this disadvantage is compensated by the value of the rich biological diversity, which indigenous species encourage under their canopy. Therefore, indigenous trees have a higher environmental conservation benefit. GBM continues to concentrate on planting them on public lands.

GBM has a great capacity to mobilize large numbers of community members to work for the environment on a voluntary basis, and indeed it is impossible to compensate women groups for all the extension work that they do. But much of that work is done through the spirit of volunteerism by the networks and tree nursery groups. In mobilizing thousands of people in the rural areas, GBM commits a lot of energy to environmental conservation and improvement of livelihoods.

Each network is being encouraged to establish a Community Environment Fund (CEF), which will sponsor environmental activities. Activities will include the local demonstration center, renewable energy-saving technologies, purchase of seeds and vegetative stocks, exchange visits, farm work and provision of water and other inputs. The network would also be able to facilitate training and exchange of information and advice among other actors. The CEF could also serve as a source of capital for innovative economic initiatives started by the members of the network. This would be cheaper than bank loans, which are often inaccessible to women and the poor without collaterals.


Individuals and communities can change their world by the little they can do to contribute to the greater whole. Green Belt Movement was recognized as a case of good practice in Johannesburg during the United Nation’s 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Through the film, A Quiet Revolution, the work of the

Green Belt Movement was further acknowledged, along with other initiatives in the world, for its capacity to mobilize the masses and their human resources to focus on changing their world for the better. In the decades to come the profile and influence of Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt model will certainly grow and spread even more widely as a result of the international attention brought on by the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gathuru Mburu

Further Reading

Maathai, Wangari. “Bottlenecks of Development in Africa.” A paper presented at the 4th UN World Women’s Conference in Beijing, China. 30 August–15 September, 1995.

Maathai, Wangari. “The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.” Nairobi, Kenya: Environmental Liaison Centre International, 1988.

The World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

See also: African Religions and Nature Conservation; Christian Environmentalism in Kenya; Earth Charter; Sacred Groves of Africa.

Khoisan Religion

The Khoisan peoples of southern Africa are click language-speaking foragers and herders, who have been in the region and have interacted with each other culturally and genetically for thousands of years. As a result, any clear ethnic, cultural or linguistic distinctions between the two groupings that comprise them – the huntinggathering band-organized Bushmen (or San) and the cattle-keeping, clan-organized Khoekhoe (or “Hottentots” as they used to be called, pejoratively) – have become difficult to draw. A number of the Bushman groups speak either Khoe or Khoe-derived languages, such as the Hai// om of Namibia, who speak Nama (a Khoe language), or the Nharo (Naro) of Botswana, whose San language has pervasive Nama influences. A number of historical Khoekhoe groups of the Cape, who have now all disappeared, lost their cattle through ecological and political pressures and assumed a hunting-gathering economy and mode of production. Conversely, some Bushman groups of northern Namibia and Angola have acquired cattle. In the past, San also used to work as servants and herders for cattle-keeping Khoekhoe.

Religion is one of the cultural domains of the Khoisan peoples that reveals how closely interrelated the San and Khoekhoe have become over the course of their longstanding association. Here similarities and convergences outnumber differences, the latter reflective, in significant ways, of the two diverse socio-economic patterns of the herders and foragers. Thus, Khoekhoe ritual and myth include a concern with cattle; for instance, myths tell of how cattle were acquired by the Khoe people’s ancestors (and lost to the Bushmen) and fresh cattle dung was used in death purification ceremonies by the Nama (who had a strong concern with taboos and ritual danger). Khoekhoe myths also tell of early chiefs and warring clans, a theme absent from Bushman myth and belief wherein the concern is more with game animals and ritual aspects of hunting. The large, meat-rich game animals, the eland, gemsbok or giraffe, are the animals that are most prominent in San rock paintings and they stand at the symbolic and ritual center of the initiation ceremonies of numerous Bushman groups, as well as the trance-curing dance, as the source of n/om (the healing potency employed by the shaman-curer).

Despite such divergences in content and emphasis, however, the two people share one religious system. This is evident, more than anywhere else, in the two groups’ supernatural beliefs and in their myths and folklore, which, in her recent comprehensive catalogue of Khoisan folktales, the German folklorist Sigrid Schmidt treats as one oral tradition. The preeminent figure on the Khoisan mythological landscape is the trickster, who may be a human-like being – such as Haiseb (or Haitsi-aibib) of the Nama or Paté of the Nharo – or he may bear the traits of an animal. He may assume these either sporadically, when he transforms himself into an animal – for instance, into a mantis, such as Kaggen (Cagn) of the /Xam – or his animalian traits may be a permanent aspect of his being, such as the pan-Khoisan Jackal, who is especially prominent in Khoe folklore. The Khoisan trickster was an ambiguous blend of mischievous or evil prankster, culture hero, protector and even god. In the last capacity he stood opposed to the Khoisan-wide creator god, whom the Nama called Tsui-//goab (“Wounded Knee”) and the Nharo N!adi (or Hise) and for whom the !Kung had as many as eight different names, each associated with different attributes. He is associated with the sky and the rain and, according to a widespread traditional Khoisan belief, his “village in the sky” is the destination of the souls of the dead.

The principal protagonists of the trickster were the people of the mythological past, who were either the early humans or animals with human traits and capabilities. They were beset by such social problems and moral shortcomings as food, greed, marital strife and in-law tensions. These converged in the widespread “woman-as-meat” story plot, that is, of a man coming to realize that his wife is a game antelope – that he has “married meat” – and subsequently killing and eating her for her meat, with the collusion of his relatives. This Khoisan-wide story is an expression of the symbolic equivalence of hunting with sex and marriage. The moon and other stellar bodies were frequently personified in Khoisan myths and were mystically charged, and the portentous story of the angry moon, who punished the hare-child for disbelieving and distorting the moon’s message to humankind of immortality, is one of the key myths in Khoisan mythology. Another shared story myth motif, and the basis for elaborate and especially melodramatic and frightful tales, is cannibalistic ogres threatening, chasing, killing and devouring humans, especially maidens.

In the sphere of ritual, male and female initiation rites are found among all of the Khoisan groups, although the degree to which they are ritually elaborated varies, with Khoekhoe favoring the male rite, through greater ritual elaboration, and Bushman groups favoring the female one. (Again, we may perhaps explain this difference in economic terms, as herding and foraging are economic patterns in which men and women, respectively, play the more prominent roles.) While the trance-curing dance appears to be exclusive to the Bushmen, its basic ritual and mystical modus operandi, of calling on the aid of the spirits of the dead, is pan-Khoisan. So is the transformation of spirits and humans into animals, a trait that is especially well developed in Bushman ritual and belief (and reflective of their closeness and their spiritual attunement, as hunters, to animals).

Commonality of the Khoisan religious tradition is evident also when one compares it to that of their Bantuspeaking neighbors. Here one notes two striking differences: the absence, in Khoisan religion, of witchcraft and sorcery beliefs and practices, and of any forms of ancestor worship; indeed, instead of worship, what one finds is an attitude of wariness or aversion toward dead persons, and proscriptions about uttering their names. Also absent are totemistic beliefs, which are found among some Bantuspeaking peoples (for instance, the various Tswana tribes, neighbors to many Kalahari Bushman groups).

We should note, however, that some Bushman groups have adopted one or another of these elements of Bantu ritual and mythology, and the Nama-speaking peoples today, despite having retained their myths and tales and many beliefs, are all Christians (and have been for many generations). This reveals a basic structural element of Khoisan religion, resilience and adaptability, along with a certain lack of orthodoxy and tolerance of other beliefs. These traits are consistent with the structural qualities of flexibility, openness and resilience, which Khoisan – especially Bushman – societies have displayed for centuries and millennia.

Mathias Guenther

Further Reading

Barnard, Alan. “Aspects of Khoisan Religious Ideology.” In Alan Barnard. Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A Comparative Ethnography of the Khoisan Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Bleek, Wilhelm H.I. Reynard the Fox in South Africa, or, Hottentot Fables and Tales. London: Trübener & Co., 1864.

Hahn, Theophilius. Tsui-//goam: The Supreme Being of the Khoi-khoi. London: Trübener & Co. 1881.

Schapera, Isaac. The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa: Bushmen and Hottentots. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1930.

Schmidt, Sigrid. Catalogue of the Khoisan Folktales of Southern Africa, 2 vols. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag, 1989.

See also: San (Bushmen) Apocalyptic Rock Art; San (Bushmen) Religion (and adjacent, San (Bushmen) Rainmaking).

Kimbanguism (Central Africa)

Kimbanguism originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), and has now spread to many countries in Africa and beyond. The movement takes its name from the founder Simon Kimbangu who was born in 1889 at N’Kamba, a small and isolated village in the Lower Congo, some 200 miles from the capital Kinshasa. He grew up in a church founded by the British Baptist Missionary Society. But in 1918 Kimbangu believed he received a call from God to go and look after his people, for God was telling him that the Europeans had been unfaithful to the call of Christ. On 6 April 1921 Kimbangu began his ministry of healing, and extraordinary scenes followed, with vast numbers flocking to N’Kamba to hear his message and to be healed. Kimbangu healed in the name of Jesus Christ, and stood up against local sorcerers. But the large numbers pouring into N’Kamba were too much for the Belgian colonial power, which feared a political uprising. A state of emergency was declared and in September 1921 Kimbangu was arrested, flogged, and sent into exile in Lubumbashi: 1500 miles from his home. He died in solitary confinement on 12 October 1951. The persecution of Kimbanguists was severe, but through trials and tribulations their following grew. The movement is now officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ on Earth through his Special Envoy Simon Kimbangu and is a member of the World Council of Churches.

According to his followers, Simon Kimbangu taught a very close respect for nature. Independent witnesses tell a variety of stories which substantiate this claim, and provide evidence that Simon Kimbangu’s approach was distinctive. Kimbangu stressed that human beings are themselves a part of nature. Flora and fauna are a part of the environment to which humans belong. As such, a special respect for nature is required. Animals are seen as close neighbors whilst plants are to be used with due deference. The indiscriminate destruction of the natural environment is not permitted.

Nowhere is Kimbangu’s own attitude to nature more clearly seen than in his teachings on the primate cousins of human beings. Kimbangu strictly forbade any of his followers from killing or eating other primates. The reasons he gave for this edict, which remain strictly enforced among his followers to this day, are instructive, and, while we must always guard against the dangers of anachronism, they mark him as a prophet in the area of primate conservation. Kimbangu used several arguments to support his claim that primates are our cousins. In the first place, he taught that we share a common ancestry with other primates. To kill a primate is to kill a cousin and such an act would be intolerable: indeed tantamount to murder. Second, Kimbangu pointed to the way that, when left to fend for ourselves in the forest, we mimic the activities of our primate cousins. We are forced in survival to forage like them: indeed to become as them. This demonstrates, said Kimbangu, our commonality. Thirdly, he said that nowhere is the human-like quality of the primate world seen more clearly than when human beings, in their sinful activity, point a rifle at primates. For when this happens, primates look the hunter in the eyes, cower, bow down, and whimper in distress. They act, in other words, as humans. Fourth, Kimbangu taught that it is part of God’s plan to unify humans and animals. One day we will lie down with the lion in peace, and this cautions us against treating nature as a servant instead of cousin. For all these reasons, Kimbangu strictly forbade the killing of primates. It is particularly interesting to note a predominantly nature-based, rather than theological, reasoning of Kimbangu in this regard. In a region well known for its eating of primate meat, Simon Kimbangu’s teaching is all the more remarkable, and the taboo extends into the life of his estimated ten million followers today. Kimbanguists today are found in central west Africa, as well as Kenya, in the United States, and in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and France.

If the teaching and practice of Kimbanguists toward primates is unusual and instructive, then further examples of their positive attitude to nature can be seen. The holy mountain of N’kamba in the Belgian Congo is an example, seen elsewhere in African religions, of the importance of sacred place. Shortly after Kimbangu’s death in 1951, his followers began constructing a temple on the site where his ministry had begun. The 37,000-capacity temple that now stands on the holy mountain was built with the help of ordinary believers, many of whom literally carried rocks and stones several kilometers to the site. At the same time as the building program, Kimbanguist followers went to strenuous efforts to maintain the environmental surrounds of the village. A number of sacred trees, important sites in Kimbangu’s own ministry, and sacred groves, were preserved. And while there is an element of subjectivity in such remarks, N’kamba is a remarkable place: quiet and peaceful, full of lush trees, and a gentle breeze. Small wonder then that Kimbanguists themselves today proudly call the village “N’kamba New-Jerusalem.” The village receives large numbers of visitors. Many of them go to bathe in a site where they believe there is holy water: and both this water, and the very soil from N’Kamba, is taken elsewhere for healing. This material dimension is thus an important theme of the movement. The whole site of N’kamba is seen as holy ground by the Kimbanguists and, as such, shoes are always removed around the village complex: a sign of respect not only for the prophet and his God, but also for the very land on which he and his followers walked. In this Kimbanguists mirror some traditional African religious attitudes to nature in which land and belief were inextricably linked. The fact that such an approach is now cause for some wonderment is testament to the severe environmental crisis now reaching Africa.

Another example of the close relationship of Kimbanguists to nature can be seen in their headquarters in Kinshasa. In the compound humans move alongside animals in a curious harmony: a stark contrast to the huge, bustling, and now pollution-ridden city of Kinshasa. A crane lives in the compound, for no other apparent reason than that it looks beautiful and is an animal cousin. Other animals fare likewise. There are ponds with fish, which are regularly fed and which, it seems, are only used as a supply of food if necessary. A sermon preached by one of Kimbangu’s sons, Papa Diangenda Kuntima, extolled the virtues of looking after animals. One day, stopping at a pond at the headquarters in Kinshasa, he began to throw bread into the pond to the fish, saying how important it was to feed and preserve the livelihood of fish and other creatures. Such attitudes are most unusual in modern Africa, particularly so in a country which has seen much of its population on the edge of starvation for a decade or more.

Faith Warner Richard Hoskins

Further Reading

Hoskins, Richard. Kimbanguism. London: Hurst & Co., 2003.

Martin, Marie-Louise. Kimbangu: A Prophet and His Church. London: Blackwell, 1975.

See also: African Independent Churches (South Africa); African Religions and Nature Conservation; Congo River Watershed; Sacred Groves of Africa.

Kline, David (1945–)

David Kline, an Amish dairy farmer and writer, lives in Holmes County, Ohio. His vision of nature is rooted in the Anabaptist heritage which he describes in an essay: “God’s Spirit and a Theology for Living,” in Creation & the

Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World. Kline says:

If one’s livelihood comes from the Earth – from the land, from creation on a sensible scale, where humans are a part of the unfolding of the seasons, experience the blessings of drought-ending rains, and see God’s spirit in all creation – a theology for living should be as natural as the rainbow following a summer storm (2000: 69).

Kline’s first book, Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal (1990), is a collection of natural history essays he wrote originally for Family Life magazine, an Amish journal read mainly within Amish communities. The essays, which describe wildlife on and around Kline’s 120acre farm, are grounded, he says, in a belief “in nurturing and supporting all our community – that includes people as well as land and wildlife” (xxi).

Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm (1997), like the earlier book, includes short essays that explore the varied life forms on the Kline farm. In addition, Kline describes the joy he finds in the shared farm-work of a community made up of non-Amish neighbors, as well as the families in his own congregation. The exchange of labor that makes possible a kind of farming that does not depend on expensive technology reminds Kline, he says, “of a river – serene and beautiful, yet within its gentle flow is great strength” (204).

Kline’s writing examines the joys of simple living, informed by “plain” Amish values. He joined with friends, family members, and neighbors in the spring of 2001 to begin Farming Magazine: People, Land, and Community. In the magazine’s first editorial, “Letter from Larksong,” named for the Kline farm, he says, “the true test of a sustainable agriculture will be whether we can romance our children into farming.” To accomplish that, Kline says, farms must be profitable, farmers must not be overwhelmed with work, and farming must be fun. Much of Kline’s writing explores this fun, grounding his faith and hope in the songs of birds, the changing seasons, and the fellowship found in work done together for a common good. With his two books and Farming Magazine’s growing circulation, as well as increasingly frequent speaking engagements, Kline’s call for a spirituallygrounded, sustainable agriculture has begun to reach well beyond Amish communities.

William Nichols

Further Reading

Kline, David. “God’s Spirit and a Theology for Living.” In Calvin Redekop, ed. Creation & the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Kline, David. Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Kline, David. Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal. SanFrancisco: North Point Press, 1990.

See also: Christianity (6c3) – Anabaptist/Mennonite Traditions.

Klingenthal Symposia

In October 1995, Pax Christi, France, through its Commission on the Protection and Management of the Creation chaired by Dr. Jean-Pierre Ribaut, also Director of the Environment Division at the Council of Europe, organized the first in a series of symposia on Ecology, Ethics and Spirituality at the Klingenthal Castle in Alsace, France. These symposia aimed for a dialogue between scientists and representatives of different spiritual and ethical approaches, and were remarkable for the breadth of different perspectives they brought together, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Shintoist, Bahá’í, Australian Aborigine, African Animist, Native Canadian, Brazilian and Peruvian Indian, Finish Sami, MaterialisticUniversalist and Masonic. Leading scientists shared their views and explored common interests with those on the spiritual side, or sometimes combined the two. The first symposium issued the Klingenthal Appeal calling for united efforts to inspire respect for nature and sustainable management of resources, harmonizing scientific, aesthetic and spiritual approaches. This first symposium was followed by a series of more thematic Klingenthal Symposia applying the same approach, on water, source of life (1997), soil, cultures and spiritualities (1998), trees and forests (1999), and animals and fauna (2001). Each explored the environmental and scientific challenges under the theme and the perspectives and contributions that each form of spirituality could bring to those challenges. The proceedings of the symposia have been published by the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humanity.

Arthur Dahl

Further Reading

Bourguinat, Élisabeth and Jean-Pierre Ribaut. L’Arbre et la Forêt: Du Symbolisme Culturel à . . . l’Agonie Programmée? Charles Léopold Mayer, ed. Dossiers pour un Débat No. 111. Paris, 2000.

Caïs, Marie-France, Marie-José Del Rey and Jean-Pierre Ribaut. L’Eau et la Vie: Enjeux, Perspectives et Visions Interculturelles. Charles Léopold Mayer, ed. Dossiers pour un Débat No. 97. Paris, 1999.

Lamar, Rabah and Jean-Pierre Ribaut. Sols et Sociétés: Regards Pluriculturels. Charles Léopold Mayer, ed. Dossiers pour un Débat No. 116. Paris, 2001.

Ribaut, Jean-Pierre and Marie-José Del Rey. The Earth Under Care: Spiritual and Cultural Approaches to the Challenges for a Sustainable Planet. The Klingenthal Appeal and Contributions from the October 1995 Symposium. La Librairie FPH, Dossiers pour un Débat No. 73 bis. Paris, June 1997.

Knowledge, Knowing and Nature

Among the complex interrelations between religion and nature a dynamic currently being recognized connects “knowledge,” “knowing” and “nature.” Three factors, 1) what is known at any time, 2) how we know it (epistemology) and 3) how we participate consciously in what we know, are all interconnected with the ongoing changes in the physical world. Knowing is dynamic and has efficacy. Recent philosophy of science has generated epistemologies (theories of knowledge) relating to how we know nature as seen from the perspective of the natural sciences. Religion acknowledges that in some ways we can know the divine and also the inmost reaches of the human person, as well as the outside world that we know as nature, so there are theological epistemologies. In recent developments “spirituality” has begun to be distinguished from “religion” as relating more centrally to the inner experiences of the self and the divine from which the religious traditions have arisen and on which their dogmas and institutions are based; thus a major focus within the academic discipline of contemporary spirituality concerns moment-by-moment experience of life, meaningfulness, wholeness and energy. Investigation of the kind of knowledge involved in this expanded knowledge base, along with how we know it, is leading to the recognition of spiritual epistemologies. Each type of epistemology corresponds to a view of the world, of nature, and of how we humans are related to nature: depending on the worldview held, so will be our implicit attitude and explicit action toward nature.

The Modern Period, through the dominant influence of the natural sciences from Newton onwards, has inculcated in us the sense that we know nature as outside of ourselves and as other than ourselves. This worldview is currently associated with much exploitation of nature. Faced with the now life-threatening issue of how to sustain a world that is ecologically unsustainable, many are reexamining the concept of nature and finding it not only more complex but more all-encompassing than had been assumed within the Newtonian worldview. The academic study of spirituality, still a relatively new field in 2003, is playing an important part in defining what nature is. The examination of the concept of nature is itself a factor in changing how we deal with nature. “Nature” is coming to be known as not only the external, physical/material environment, as investigated by the techniques of the natural sciences, but also as a much more complex reality with manifold depths and relationships yet to be discovered. There is increasing acknowledgement that we humans are part of nature, not separate from it: we are integral to nature and therefore inseparable from its future. Ecology recognizes this, highlights human responsibility for caring for nature and emphasizes that whatever degradation we inflict on nature impacts back on us. Theological worldviews and epistemologies on the whole corroborate this ecological perspective and it is becoming incorporated into popular thinking. But there is an urgent need to go beyond this and some have done just that. It is being recognized that between ourselves and nature there are not only the now obvious external and physical connections but also equally important interior relationships and activities. These internal relations are not superficially evident; they are not visible or detectable by what we know as objective “scientific” investigation. To know what nature is from the inside and so to understand and work with our internal connections with nature, we have to investigate who we are and what we can know of ourselves not only on the physical, biological, mental and psychological levels but also as spiritual beings. It is with this deeper investigation that spiritual epistemologies are generated, first in the form of modes of knowing the deeper levels of the human self and then, integrated with this, as modes of knowing the cosmic order. The results of such investigation “from the inside” are expressed in an expanded concept of nature, for nature itself is multidimensional, while the concept of “nature” is seen to be a human construct which changes in relation to what we know about it.

Western science has been successful in mapping, as it were, the configurations of nature, according to what it acknowledges as the physical world and using methods appropriate to that. Western psychology, up to and not including the Transpersonal Movement, has mapped the levels of the human person according to what it acknowledges as its field. These levels are seen now, from within this new field known as Transpersonal Studies, as the lower, or less-evolved levels of the human being. In the East primarily – although there are some striking Western examples also – the higher domains of the human person have been mapped meticulously by pioneers who have been there (i.e., the mystics, seers and sages, who have based their theories and teachings on their own experience). Significantly, there are criteria of verification appropriate to these teachings on a par with the verification criteria accepted within the scientific community. Data coming from these sources not only can, but now also needs to be, integrated with the Western “scientific” findings on the outer nature, to present a more complete, deeper and fuller understanding of what “nature” is.

According to the particular worldview or theory of existence one holds, so one will act toward the goal envisaged in that theory. Believing that material nature is the only reality (as in Western science), the goal, psychologically, is the development of the individual. Accordingly, the ego and its security (particularly the egos of dominant groups) are being prioritized, along with what appear to be the best social and material structures and institutions to support that goal. In the adult egocentric mode of existence, which is where most of us are, other persons and nature will by definition be experienced as other, as “not-self,” as potentially threatening and to be defended against, dominated, and eventually overcome; hence further division, exploitation and the prospect of self-destruction. By contrast, from a center of consciousness higher than the ego, as in the case of the explorers of the higher domains, other persons and nature are experienced as not other than the self. From the higher levels of awareness the lower levels and domains can be integrated, and their structures and energies used consciously as instruments of the higher.

Integrating the findings of spiritual investigation, intelligence and creativity with the findings of the natural and human sciences extends the notion of consilience (E.O. Wilson) to open up new horizons and latent possibilities. With such a reciprocally enhancing and integrated worldview, knowing who we are in relation to nature, knowing what we know and participating consciously in what we know, we can identify where change is needed in ourselves and in what we are doing to nature. Articulating this next stage in the religion/nature dynamic itself generates both strategies for change and energy to implement them.

Felicity Edwards

Further Reading

Wilber, Ken. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: Spirit in Action.

Boston and London: Shambhala Press, 1995.

Wilson, E.O. Consilience: Unity of Knowledge. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

See also: Conservation Biology; Wilber, Ken; Wilson, Edward O.

Kogi (Northern Colombia)

High in the folds of the world’s largest coastal mountain massif, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, live three Chibcha-speaking Amerindian groups: the Ijka (or Arhuacos); the Sanka (or Arsario or Wiwa); and the Kogi (more properly called Kaggaba). Of these, the Kogi/Kaggaba have remained the most “unacculturated,” true to their traditions and beliefs, and pursuing an environmentally aware and instructive spirituality. They are, however, under increasing pressure from the outside world, yet they retain an intense commitment to isolation.

The Sierra (called Gonavindua, or “snowfields” by the Kogi) is a vast, three-sided pyramid, starting at sea level and rising to a staggering 5770 meters. Situated near the Equator, it has minimal seasonal temperature and rainfall variation. Altitude determines almost everything, from tropical rainforest below to snowfields and glaciers at its peaks. It is rather like the world in miniature, encompassing almost every known kind of natural environment – at each particular level. For the Kogi, this vast territory (covering 12,000 km2 above a 300-meter level) becomes more sacred the higher one goes.

The 6000–7000 Kogi live a slightly austere and rigorous, but profoundly content and rewarding, life. They reside in isolated settlements in the 1000 to 2000-meter levels, with even more isolated homesteads at other levels, where they care for their sloping garden-fields of (depending upon altitude) plantains/bananas, beans, cucumbers, manioc, corn, and fruit trees. Animal protein consumption is minimal. Cotton is grown for their white garments; men weave the clothes, women weave baskets (for everyday carrying purposes as well as sacred ones). No shoes are worn as footwear is forbidden. The regular but tightly controlled use of the leaves of the sacred coca plant is a marker of manhood, a method of spiritual communication, and the mark of “civilization.” (Chewing coca leaves as the men do has only a weak chemical affect, much like betel nut, and helps them to stave off hunger, handle altitude sickness, and supplement their diet).

This extremely self-sufficient lifestyle – with only carefully considered inputs (such as iron blades and spades) from the “outside” world – sustains the Kogi population, who are ruled by hereditary lords and sacred priests. The latter, the Máma(s), the enlightened ones, are the focal point of life: the populace gear their lives and thoughts to assist them. The Máma(s) exist to look after them, but more importantly, to pursue the arduous and unremitting religious tasks of ensuring harmony and the continuation of all plant, animal and human life on Earth and indeed, the continuation of Earth (as a living entity) itself.

The Máma(s) follow the Law of Hába Gaulchováng (the Great Mother), who created all things in Alúna (“Thought,” a pre-conscious/conscious state that all Máma(s) aspire to regularly attain) in the depths of the vast primordial sea before Munsá (the “Dawning”/Creation). The material world, pre-created by the Thoughts of the Great Mother before the Dawning, must follow her laws of Nulúka/ Yulúka (“harmony,” “balance”) to continue. Acutely aware of the interrelationships between the weather, climate, plants, animals and humans, the Máma(s), from their vast cosmos that is still nonetheless a miniature at the heart of the larger world, pursue regular and profound deprivation to attain the required levels of consciousness and purity. Such pursuit is necessary to perform the incessant prayer, oration and ritual gift-giving that ensure the protection and continuation of harmony and balance on Earth. The

Kogi sometimes call themselves the “Elder Brothers,” and assume that the innumerable societies of “Younger Brothers” outside of the Sierra around the rest of the conceived world know that their priests, the Máma(s), are dedicated to essential tasks on behalf of all.

Learning to become a Máma is possibly the most arduous priesthood training of any society on Earth. Preferably chosen by divination, the young candidate (usually male but sometimes female) is ideally taken at birth (and certainly before reaching the age of five) and raised in almost complete darkness in a cave or specially constructed darkened hut, for two consecutive nine-year periods. Some, wanting to go deeper, may continue for a third nine-year period. Raised in a re-creation of the world of Alúna in a womb-like dark sea, the young kuívi (initiate, “abstinent”) is taught the Laws of the Great Mother, the rules and balances of the non-material and material worlds, and the sewá (“alliance” gifts/prestations) necessary for required harmonies.

Ritual postures, movements, chants, lineages, geography and the natural “sciences,” botany, biology, astronomy, meteorology, cosmogony and cosmology, religious and spiritual analogy, history, divination, confession procedures, ethics, dream interpretation, plant growth, animal behavior, sensory deprivation, healing, curing, medicine, time-cycle manipulation, ritual language – and many more topics – are taught and learnt. All of this occurs while seeing almost nothing and living on a special diet not far removed from perpetual starvation. Much of this intense training is likened to the Great Mother’s precreation in the darkness of Alúna of the kalguashija (“model,” “essence,” “image”) of all living things before their actual physical creation with the Dawning. But those who emerge from this training are very special, often gifted beyond normal human abilities and expecting to live to 90 years, which they believe is their allotted span. Coming out of their training darkness, once they make adjustments to the shock of the material world, another Máma will now present the young male with his poporo (the small gourd to contain slaked lime to accompany the taking of coca leaves), which is also a symbol of manhood and with profound religious significance that he must have with him at all times. He can then take a wife, and his life’s work can begin, not just for his people, but for all things in the world.

Kogi/Kaggaba society seems to stand slightly apart from many traditions of northern South America, and they themselves feel that they should remain so because of their strongly held beliefs in their unique and special position with regard to the essential balancing of elements necessary for the continuation of life on Earth. Although forming a fascinating amalgam of ancient pre-Colombian Tairona cultures from the coastal areas of northern Colombia, the Spanish conquest and eventual domination and destruction of the Tairona cultures in the sixteenth century forced survivors to retreat higher into the Sierra (around 1600), and into areas already peopled by Chibchaspeaking cultures. Tairona priests, Noamas, linked up with sacred Máma(s) high in the Sierra, and a modified sacred culture was developed, under the latter’s control, which eschewed material cultural trappings, and hid golden objects from the intruding Spaniards.

In Kogi belief, disregard shown by the “Younger Brother” for the Laws of the Mother equals disrespect for maintaining the living world in good health. This disrespect and greed makes the Máma’s work more difficult, and may lead, if not stopped, to the end of the world. This end could come in the form of fiery Teiku – a burning, sun-like fire/heat (Teiku is also the sun, who is also a Máma) which will create immense destruction (analogous to one early Kogi story which relates that some of the first ancestors appeared in the Sierra to escape an earlier fiery end). Today, the Kogi are under pressure of Christian missionization, but they still deliberately retreat into isolation in the belief that, through their life-way, they sustain the whole cosmos.

Kirk Huffman

Further Reading

Alan Ereira, A., The Elder Brothers: Heart of the World.

New York: Vintage, 1993.

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. The Sacred Mountain of Colombia’s Kogi Indians. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1990.

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. “The Great Mother and the Kogi Universe: A Concise Overview,” Journal of Latin American Lore 13:1 (1987), 73–113.

See also: Ecology and Religion; Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo – and Ethnoecology in Columbia; Tukanoan Indians (Northwest Amazonia); U’wa Indians (Columbia).

Koliada Viatichei

The Viatichi cultural center was established in Moscow in 1995 through the initiative of N. Speransky (a Ph.D. in physics and math), who goes by the pagan name Velimir. In the fall of 1998, the small Viatichi community, comprised of well-educated Moscow intellectuals, united with the Koliada community to form the larger Koliada Viatichei community. This is a faction within Russian neopaganism which strives to recreate a pre-Christian Slavic wisdom that avoids any alien influences and borrowings.

Speransky rejects as unacceptable for Slavs the esotericism and Eastern flavor of the popular teachings of Nikolai and Elena Rerikh. Likewise, he rejects Christianity for its historical connection to the “Semitic ideology.” Yet, unlike some other Russian neo-pagans, Koliada Viatichei is negative toward Nazism and criticizes it for its esoteric and occult bias. It also censures anti-Semitism as destructive. Speransky is skeptical toward any primeval “Aryan civilization,” treats Vedic literature as an alien heritage (while some Russian neo-pagans look to it as part of their own Slavic-Aryan roots), and rejects the Book of Vles as a forgery.

In their concerns for Russian traditional culture the Viatiches demonstrate a strong sense of Russian nationalism, alongside a conspiratorial view of the non-Russian world. They reject Western “technocratic civilization” as “destructive” and oppose it with Russian ancestral values and an ecological worldview. Paganism is identified as an ecophilic ideology which should be promoted at the state level. Speransky argues that salvation is to be gained through the maintenance of a careful and healthy relationship with the natural environment and through preserving the cultural heritage of one’s ancestors. Critical of high technology and consumerism, he foretells a collapse of Western civilization, followed by a clash between “white” and “yellow” races in the twenty-first century, and calls for a struggle against both Eastern teachings and Christianity in favor of a renewed Russian pagan faith. He praises “Russian folk Christianity” for its break away from the “Semitic ideology,” a break that is considered to have cleansed the “Russian faith” and made it healthy once again. Accordingly, this faith is destined to a final victory over Christianity, a victory which will lead Russia to a great future.

The Viatichi teaching is based on the Manichean idea of an eternal struggle between Good (Belbog) and Evil (Chernobog). Curiously, both gods are thought to have made a contribution to the creation of man, Chernobog building his body, and Belbog awarding him an everlasting soul. Hence, the belief is that humans have an inherently dual and divided nature.

Speransky recognizes variability in Slavic pagan beliefs, with each tribe having its own gods and sacred places. He argues that great thinkers have periodically managed to integrate these beliefs into a uniform pantheon of Pan-Russian deities, but that this has always been followed by a collapse and dissolution. He believes that a new era is coming which calls for a restoration of a uniform system of Slavic beliefs. But this system should be polytheistic, to account for the complexity of the world with its multitude of good and evil forces. Nevertheless, a Russian “Great Goddess” – “Mother Earth” – is at the center of his teaching. Borrowed from Russian folklore, this idea of a close relationship between humans and a nourishing native soil is said to call up deep emotions toward the land and a willingness to defend it by all means. This Great Goddess is identified with the “Motherland-Russia.”

More recently, Speransky has developed an appreciation for Lithuanian neo-paganism and has begun advocating its teaching of “Darna,” or “life in accordance with the Earth and with the ancestors, which provides a feeling of happiness and is welcomed by the gods.” Accordingly, he has revised his earlier dualistic views from seeing the polar forces as conflicting to a view that recognizes them as complementary and mutually reinforcing. His appreciation for prehistoric peoples and “folk culture” approaches a romantic conception of the “noble savage,” and he advocates self-restriction, refusal of consumerism, and a rural lifestyle, as the way to find a new balance between humans and nature. Not avoiding politics, however, he continues to warn that “Russia is pressed by a fatal evil,” and points out that pagans have to defend the Russian land, finding strength and energy in tradition and in the old Slavic gods who will ultimately determine the future.

Victor A. Shnirelman

Further Reading

Shnirelman, Victor A. “Perun, Svarog and Others: The Russian Neo-Paganism in Search of Itself.” Cambridge Anthropology 21:3 (1999–2000), 18–36.

See also: Neo-paganism and Ethnic Nationalism in Eastern Europe; Oshmarii-Chimarii (Mori El Republic, Russia); Russian Mystical Philosophy.

Korean Mountains

The Korean peninsula is a rugged mountainous land, looking from the sky more like a storm-tossed ocean than a placid lake. The rivers that tumble out of those mountains usually do not have very far to go before they reach the ocean. The traces of their short journeys across the peninsula’s rocky surface are much less impressive than the broad floodplains left behind by the rivers that shaped the civilizations of China and India. Mountains, more than waterways, have dominated the physical landscape the Korean people have inhabited for centuries. Mountains have dominated the religious landscape as well, shaping Korean concepts of nature and of how they should interact with it.

When Koreans look at mountains, they see not only mountains but also the sky behind and above them. Those mountains and the sky above them have inspired both reverence and apprehension in those who lived beneath them. Koreans believed that nature was filled with willful entities which could, for example, provide or deny rain when crops needed it and could send diseases to afflict humanity or cure those already afflicted. Since mountains and the heavens were the features of nature that Koreans found most impressive, it is the behaviors of mountain spirits and heavenly spirits that Koreans have been most anxious to influence through ritual. The oldest accounts of religious activity on the peninsula, going back almost two millennia, describe rituals honoring and imploring spirits in the heavens above and the mountains below.

Koreans have traditionally assigned different functions to terrestrial and celestial spirits. Mountain spirits, including not only mountain gods but also mountain-dwelling tigers and even particularly impressive trees or stones found on or near mountains, have often been enlisted to serve as tutelary gods for villages. Even today, despite the changes wrought by decades of modernization, it is still possible to find a rope placed around a particularly old and large tree on the edge of a village, or an informal altar formed from a pile of stones off to the side of a mountain path, to signal the presence of a guardian spirit. Moreover, most Buddhist temple complexes still include a small shrine to the local mountain spirit behind the main worship hall.

Until Christianity introduced Koreans two centuries ago to the notion of a God in heaven who cared for those on the Earth below, celestial spirits have tended to be viewed as too far above the human realm to be interested in maintaining an ongoing protective relationship with an individual human community. Though a few villages have adopted celestial spirits as tutelary deities, the gods of heaven, including such celestial bodies as the sun, the moon, the planets, and certain constellations, have usually been conceived more as judges and administrators than as protectors. The Big Dipper gods, for example, collectively determine how long human beings will live as well as whether an unborn child will be male or female. There is often a shrine to the Big Dipper gods not far from the shrine to the mountain god in a Buddhist temple, but the Big Dipper shrine is for individual petitions for a change in fate and does not provide the same general protection to the shrine precincts that the mountain spirit shrine does.

Korea’s folk religion assumes that rituals and prayers can persuade planets and stars, or at least the spirits they represent, to change a decision in a petitioner’s favor. Neo-Confucianism, which began to dominate upper-class culture in Korea from the fifteenth century, denied that objects moving through the heavens possess the ability to make decisions. It also denied conscious intent to mountains, trees, and rocks. Nevertheless, Neo-Confucianism agreed that there is a strong link between the way humans and nature behave.

Neo-Confucian philosophers insisted that human beings were an integral part of the natural world and therefore human behavior affected the behavior of other natural objects and natural forces. If human beings acted in accordance with the patterns of harmonious interaction, which constituted the natural order, then nature would function in predictable and beneficial ways. On the other hand, if human beings pursued individual selfinterest at the expense of the common good, they injected disharmony into the universe. The result would be natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and droughts. The impact individual behavior could have on nature varied according to the political status of the individual actor. A king’s selfish behavior was more likely to cause natural disasters or ominous phenomena such as an unpredicted comet or meteor shower than was the inappropriate behavior of a peasant.

In addition to providing spirits to be cajoled and worshipped, and portents to warn against inappropriate behavior, nature also provides settings for some religious activities. The indigenous Korean belief in mountain spirits combined with the imported Chinese belief in geomancy to make mountains a favored location for spiritual cultivation. Geomancy holds that there are invisible channels of energy beneath the Earth and that certain locations have particularly high concentrations of that energy. By the ninth century, Koreans were building Buddhist temples in foothill locations believed to be best situated to tap into that underground energy as well as gain the favor of particularly powerful mountain spirits. Though Neo-Confucians claimed to be skeptical of the power of mountain spirits, when they began establishing rural academies in the sixteenth century they too often selected locations on the lower reaches of mountain slopes. In the twentieth century, two mountains with particularly strong geomantic properties and guardian spirits, Mt. Kyeryong in the center of South Korea and Mt. Moak in the southwest, have attracted adherents of new religions in large enough numbers to concern the government.

These new mountain-based religions have not expressed much explicit concern over the state of the environment that surrounds them. Instead, Buddhists and Christians living in Korea’s crowded cities (South Korea is now over 80 percent urban) have been at the forefront of the environmental protection movement. Since the early 1980s, Buddhists emphasizing the traditional Buddhist respect for all forms of life and Christians emphasizing respect for all that God has created have joined forces with secular activists in a broad coalition called the Federation of Environmental Movements. Their focus has been less on protecting mountains per se than on protecting the waters that flow from those mountains and that are lifelines for all city-dwelling creatures.

Not all the gods Koreans worship are deified natural objects. Nor do all Korean religious activities take place in a forested mountainside. Nevertheless, any account of Korean religion that neglected the worship of stars and mountain spirits, the reliance on astronomical phenomena for moral guidance, or the appeal of mountain settings to the devout would be incomplete and misleading.

Don Baker

Further Reading

Chang, Chong-ryong. “Patterns and Practices of Village Rites.” In Korea Foundation, ed. Korean Cultural Heritage, Vol. II: Thought and Religion. Seoul: Korea Foundation, 1996, 166–73.

Choe, Chang-jo. “Study of How Koreans View and Utilize Nature.” Korea Journal 32:4 (Winter 1992), 26–45.

Keum, Jang-tae. “Mountains in Korean Thought.” In Korea Foundation, ed. Korean Cultural Heritage, Vol. II: Thought and Religion. Seoul: Korea Foundation, 1996, 36–41.

Mason, David A. Spirit of the Mountains: Korea’s SanShin and Traditions of Mountain-Worship. Seoul: Hollym, 1999.

Park, Seong-rae. Portents and Politics in Korean History.

Seoul: Jimoondang, 1998.

See also: Mt. Hiei (Japan); Sacred Mountains.

Krishnamurti, Jiddhu (1895–1986)

Krishnamurti was a religious teacher whose life reads like a legend, but is well documented. Born in a lower-middleclass traditional Brahmin family in a small town called Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh (India), he was picked up in 1909 by the leaders of the international Theosophical Society in Adyar, Chennai. Mrs. Annie Besant, the then President of the society, predicted that Krishnamurti would be a world-teacher who would give a new interpretation of religion for the scientific age. She adopted him and sent him to England for education.

In 1922, Krishnamurti had his first spiritual awakening under a pepper tree in Ojai, California in the form of a mystic experience in which he felt one with everything around him. This mysterious “process” went on intermittently throughout his life and has been a subject of much conjecture. From 1922 to 1932 Krishnamurti went through an intense period of inquiry, questioning all the Theosophical teachings he had accepted until then and dropping what appeared to him to be false. In 1929, he dissolved the organization set up around him and returned all the properties donated for his work, saying, “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect” (in Lutyens 1990: 78). The essential philosophic difference lay in Krishnamurti’s perception that there is no path to truth, which contradicted the Theosophical belief that all religions were paths to the same truth. Ironically, despite this parting of ways with the Theosophical Society, Krishnamurti became a world-teacher, lecturing and holding dialogues worldwide to convey his teachings until his death in Ojai, California in 1986. He also started schools for children to realize his vision of education. To him science and religion were two complimentary quests of humanity, the former for discovering the order that manifests itself in nature, and the latter for discovering order within our consciousness.

To Krishnamurti, religion is not belief in some concept of God, acceptance of a code of morality, or the performance of rituals; it is the flowering of virtue in the consciousness of a human being. Virtue is order in consciousness in which there is love, compassion, peace, nonviolence, happiness, joy and beauty. Since virtue is a state of consciousness, it cannot be practiced through will and decision. It arises, naturally, through the ending of the disorder that human beings experience as violence, fear, sorrow, and conflict. This disorder has a cause that can be perceived and eliminated since it is based on illusions created by our own memory and imagination. It can be ended through the perception of what is true and what is false. But truth is not merely an idea – it comes into being through a deep, undistorted and holistic perception of reality. This quest for truth is the essence of religion, for without it there is no wisdom or virtue. Wisdom requires freedom from illusion, which comes from self-knowledge and not through the acceptance of ideas. In his words, “The ignorant man is not the unlearned but the one who does not know himself ” (1955: 17).

Truth does not come from an intellectual quest, but mysteriously, in a flash of insight. That is why it is pathless and is not dependent on a Guru. A Guru can point out the truth but cannot create perception in the disciple. The individual is both the teacher and the student and totally responsible for her or his own learning. Further, since truth is the unknown, it cannot be pursued or sought or spread through the word. One must keep the mind open and not block insight. This requires living with questions, without any conclusions, observing everything keenly like a true student wanting to learn about life by watching it, without interfering with what is taking place or judging it and without creating boundaries of what is possible and what is not possible. He called such a learning state one of choiceless awareness. It starts from the ground of not knowing and can be shared with fellow-inquirers in what he termed the art of dialogue.

Krishnamurti had a deep love for nature, which he considered an essential part of a truly religious mind. All Krishnamurti schools and centers are located in sites of tremendous natural beauty, because contact with nature creates a sensitivity which is conducive to a religious quality in the human mind. Krishnamurti maintained that there is a universal consciousness which connects all of nature, but we separate ourselves from it by living in a self-created, narrow, limited world of our own thoughts. To realize our oneness with nature, it is necessary to understand the thinking process and not let it become selfcentered. He talked about the need to live with a silent mind which uses thought only when it is necessary and is not driven by it. He taught that there is an order and intelligence everywhere in nature and that the observer can learn to live in harmony with that order if he does not separate himself from the observed. There is disorder only in human consciousness and it originates from an egoprocess that can be ended through self-knowledge. With the ending of disorder comes a natural order which is not enforced. The religious quest can thus be regarded as a quest for discovering what it means to live with a consciousness that is in complete harmony with the order of nature. He called it the art of living. Commenting on our relationship with nature, Krishnamurti wrote:

We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the Earth. If we could establish a deep abiding relationship with nature we would never kill an animal for our appetite, we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds, heal our bodies. But the healing of the mind is something totally different. That healing gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree, and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden by the clouds. This is not sentiment or romantic imagination but a reality of the relationship with everything that lives and moves on the Earth . . . If we could, and we must, establish a deep long abiding relationship with nature . . . then we would never slaughter another human being for any reason whatsoever (Krishnamurti 1987: 80).

Krishnamurti pointed out that all disorder that we see in human society is a projection of the disorder in our consciousness and there can be no fundamental transformation in society unless the individual transforms his or her consciousness. Therefore self-knowledge is an essential requirement for all human beings and not merely a specialization for the religious person. Religion to him was something integral to daily life, which when separated from it becomes an escape:

It is our Earth, not yours or mine or his. We are meant to live on it helping each other, not destroying each other. This is not some romantic nonsense but the actual fact. But man has divided the Earth hoping that in the particular he is going to find happiness, security, a sense of abiding comfort. Until a radical change takes place and we wipe out all nationalities, all ideologies, all religious divisions and establish a global relationship – psychologically first, inwardly, before organizing the outer – we shall go on with wars. If you harm others, if you kill others, whether in anger or by organized murder which is called war, you, who are the rest of humanity, not a separate human being fighting the rest of humanity, are destroying yourself (Krishnamurti 1987: 60).

P. Krishna

Further Reading

Holroyd, Stuart. Krishnamurti – The Man, the Mystery and the Message. Rockport, MA: Element, 1991.

Jayakar, Pupul. Krishnamurti. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti to Himself. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

Krishnamurti, J. Freedom from the Known. London: Gollancz, 1972.

Krishnamurti, J. The Education and Significance of Life.

London: Gollancz, 1955.

Lutyens, Mary. The Life and Death of Krishnamurti.

London: John Murray, 1990.

Sanat, Aryel. The Inner Life of Krishnamurti. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1999.

Skitt, David, ed. Questioning Krishnamurti. London: Thorsons, 1996.

See also: Huxley, Aldous; Hinduism; India; Theosophy.

Kropotkin, Peter (1842–1921)

The Russian prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was one of the leading geographers of his time and a central figure in the history of anarchist thought. His ideas have had an enduring influence on decentralism, regionalism, and alternative technology, and later thinkers such as Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford and Paul Goodman have looked to him for inspiration. More recently, he has been recognized for his influence on the radical environmental movement and more specifically as the most important theoretical forefather of green anarchism. Kropotkin’s most famous concept is the idea that evolutionary advances throughout the natural world are promoted best through mutual aid, cooperation, and symbiosis. His social theory, including his view of religion and other institutions, is grounded in this view of nature.

Kropotkin sought to refute the Social Darwinist idea that social inequalities are the result of a competitive “struggle for survival” that is inescapable because it is rooted in nature. He observed that animals have social instincts with evolutionary value, and that symbiotic activity is more useful for survival than competitive and antagonistic behavior. Similarly, he saw the “struggle for survival” in human society as being primarily a cooperative social project of adapting successfully to the challenges of the environment. Mutual aid is thus a “factor of evolution” both in nature and in human society. In effect, the social instincts of animal communities are raised to the level of rational action and moral choice in humanity. Ethics therefore has a naturalistic basis, for ideas of good and evil relate ultimately to that which either contributes to or threatens the survival and wellbeing of the community.

For evidence of the efficacy of social cooperation, Kropotkin cites the practices of tribal societies, free cities and cooperative communities over the ages. This history inspires his anarchism, which has as its goal a system of social cooperation free from the state, capitalism, and other forms of hierarchical, concentrated power. He envisions a future cooperative society rooted in a scientific understanding of nature and society that understands mutual aid between human beings as a continuation of the larger tendencies of natural evolution. He recognizes the destructive instincts of humanity as being every bit as natural as the cooperative ones, but he considers them to be anti-evolutionary forces whose effects should be minimized through benign environmental influences.

Kropotkin applies these ideas concerning evolution, science and ethics in his analysis of religion. He sees religion as having two opposed dimensions. On the one hand, it has expressed the human tendency toward mutual aid and solidarity, thus furthering social evolution. He sees the religious precept of doing to others as one would have them do to oneself as only the developed form of the ethics that pervades nature. In his view, both Buddhism and Christianity differed from all previous religions by replacing cruel and vengeful gods with “an ideal mangod” who taught a religion of love. He credited Shakyamuni Buddha with introducing such concepts as universal compassion and kindness, love for one’s enemies, sympathy for all living beings, contempt for wealth, and the equality of all human beings. He saw Christianity as a very similar but “higher” teaching than Buddhism, noting that Jesus (unlike Buddha, who was a Prince) came from among the ordinary people, and early Christianity showed a strong identification with the oppressed. He also argued that although Buddhism and Christianity were a break with previous religions, they were merely universalizing principles that were practiced within tribal religion, which applied principles of love, equity, and disinterested generosity within the bounds of the tribe, and which had their natural basis in the evolutionary value of mutual aid. Kropotkin saw the other, anti-evolutionary dimension of religion in its role providing powerful (albeit declining) support for the system of domination, particularly in the case of Christianity. He contends that Jesus’ original message of universal love and social equality was deemphasized and thereby undermined by his later followers and scriptural interpreters and eventually destroyed with the establishment of a hierarchical Church (thus paralleling similar developments in Buddhism). Thus, Christianity was originally a revolt against the Roman Empire, but the Empire triumphed. Despite the egalitarian and communist tendencies of early Christianity, the Church became the avowed enemy of all such tendencies. In Kropotkin’s view, Roman law and the hierarchical Church were the two forces that undermined the spirit of the freedom and instilled authoritarianism in European culture.

At the same time, according to Kropotkin, Christianity profoundly shaped the European view of nature. In his view, the religions of Egypt, Persia and India (except Buddhism) saw nature as a conflict between good and evil. He contended that this dualistic “Eastern” idea influenced Christianity and contributed to the belief in a moral battle between good and evil within the person and in society. Such beliefs, he says, reinforced tendencies toward repression and persecution. Moreover, the Church condemned the scientific study of nature and supported revelation, as opposed to nature, as the sole source of moral guidance. Kropotkin conceded that within Christianity the importance of human social instincts and human reason in the discovery of moral truth were recognized in Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy, in Renaissance religious thought, and in other tendencies. However, he contended that on the whole the Church continued to stress the evil, fallen quality of both nature and human nature, and the need to look to God and revelation for salvation from them.

For Kropotkin, religion plays either a positive evolutionary role, to the extent that it continues tendencies in nature toward mutual aid and solidarity, or an antievolutionary one, to the extent that it allies itself with systems of domination. Furthermore, he saw a strong connection between the social functions of religions and their conceptions of nature. Religions that emphasize universal love and social equality generally have a positive view of the natural world, whereas religions that are allied with social hierarchy and domination propagate highly negative views of nature and justifications for dominating it.

John P. Clark

Further Reading

Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.

London: Freedom Press, 2002.

Kropotkin, Peter. “Anarchist Morality” and “Modern Science and Anarchism.” In Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets. New York: Dover Publications, 1970.

Kropotkin, Peter. Ethics: Origin and Development. New York and London: Benjamin Blom, 1968.

See also: Anarchism; Anarcho-Primitivism and the Bible; Bioregionalism and the North American Bioregional Congress; Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front; Green Politics; Radical Environmentalism; Social Ecology; Snyder, Gary.

Krueger, Fred (1943–)

Fred Krueger is an Eastern Orthodox Christian who has been deeply involved in creating numerous Christian environmental organizations, coordinating interreligious conferences on nature and the environment, writing on

Christianity’s ecological perspective, lobbying congress on forest issues, and facilitating workshops and backpacking trips in nature.

Krueger became involved in eco-theology through his involvement with a Californian new religious movement turned Orthodox quasi-monastic order, the Holy Order of MANS (HOOM), and a sub-group, the Eleventh Commandment Fellowship (ECF) dedicated to what the order’s leader, Vincent Rossi, deemed the 11th Commandment: “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof: Thou shalt not despoil the Earth, nor destroy the life thereon” (see Nash 1989: 97 for a 1939 version of the 11th Commandment). Inspired by the ecological insights present in Eastern Christianity, the ECF’s mission was to stimulate ecological thinking and action throughout Christianity. The group played a significant role in the first North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology (NACCE) in 1987, of which Krueger was a founding member. Following the conference, much of Krueger’s (and the ECF’s) energies were shifted to building NACCE as an organization.

Krueger left his role as executive director of NACCE and editor of their magazine Firmament in 1993 and became the director of the Christian Society of the Green Cross, a ministry of Evangelicals for Social Action in order to promote ecological concern among conservative Christians. Krueger was also part of the editorial board for the group’s quarterly, Green Cross. When Green Cross became a part of the Evangelical Environmental Network, Krueger moved on to develop Opening the Book of Nature (OBN), a program whose roots lay in earlier ECF wilderness backpacking trips led by Krueger. Convinced that direct experiences of nature would help people of faith recover a lost spiritual heritage and convert them to an ecological viewpoint, these trips became the framework for OBN, one of Krueger’s current projects. OBN programs (workshops, weekend wilderness retreats, ten-day backpacking trips) are designed to help Christians “discover the spiritual lessons in creation” (OBN Newsletter) and the value of wilderness.

Another Krueger-led group, the primarily Jewish and Christian Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation (RCFC), is the activist arm for OBN. Founded in 1998 it has supported forest conservation legislation, lobbied Congress, created important religious statements on the value of wilderness in conjunction with the Wilderness Society, and worked with the World Bank to protect the world’s forests.

Krueger also publishes environment-related resources gathered from the pope, the Green Patriarch Bartholomew, and other religious figures. Through his publications and organizations, by drawing on nature-experiences as well as scripture, historical theology, early Christian figures, Orthodox saints, and “prophets” like George Washington Carver and John Muir, Krueger has spread the Christian ecological message to a wide range of Christians from selfidentified “tree-hugging, Jesus freak” evangelicals and Pentecostals, to urban Episcopalian psychiatrists, to an array of Catholics, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians.

Laurel Kearns Matthew Immergut

Further Reading

Krueger, Fred, ed. A Nature Trail through the Bible: An Ecological Tour of Key Passages. Santa Rosa, CA: Religious Coalition for Forest Conservation, 2004.

Krueger, Fred, ed. Why the Ecological Crisis is a Moral Crisis: Pope John Paul II and the Environment. Santa Rosa, CA: Religious Coalition for Forest Conservation, 2003.

Krueger, Fred, ed. Orthodox Patriarchs and Bishops Articulate a Theology of Creation. Santa Rosa, CA: Religious Coalition for Forest Conservation, 2003.

Krueger, Fred, ed. A Cloud of Witnesses: The Deep Ecological Legacy of Christianity. Santa Rosa, CA: Religious Coalition for Forest Conservation, 2002 (4th edn).

Nash, Roderick. The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

See also: Christianity (6b1) – Christian Orthodoxy; Eleventh Commandment Fellowship; Evangelical Environmental Network; North American Conference on Christianity and Ecology [and the] North American Coalition on Religion and Ecology; Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation; Sierra Treks.

Krutch, Joseph Wood (1893–1970)

During the 1950s and 1960s, Joseph Wood Krutch gained recognition as a nature essayist. His best-known books include The Twelve Seasons, The Desert Year, and Voice of the Desert. These writings marked a vocational shift for Krutch, who had previously distinguished himself as a theater reviewer and a Professor of English at Columbia University. Depicting a profound yet fragile spiritual kinship among living things, they also culminated a personal spiritual pilgrimage.

Krutch was born into a nominally Episcopalian family in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1893. By his teen years, he was an agnostic with a budding interest in science. This interest flagged during Krutch’s undergraduate years at the University of Tennessee because he increasingly sensed a conflict between scientific materialism and the values that Western humanistic traditions upheld as foundations of meaningful existence, such as individuality and free will. He turned to literature as a means of resisting scientific reductionism.

Krutch vigorously defended humanistic values while building his career as an essayist following graduate study at Columbia. In his first book, The Modern Temper (1929), Krutch asserted that to affirm the reality of consciousness, morality, and free will was to “live spiritually” in an age when traditional religion had apparently failed. This endeavor seemingly entailed alienation from other beings, as Krutch also wrote there that it was “better to die as men than to live as animals” (Krutch 1956: 169).

Krutch’s spiritual vision soon became more expansive. Regular visitors from New York to the Connecticut countryside after 1925, he and his wife settled there in 1932 and became avid observers of animals and landscapes. The region inspired Krutch’s first nature book, The Twelve Seasons (1949), which introduced his belief in the kinship of life with a recollection of perceiving an inscrutable but unmistakable joyfulness in the songs of frogs on a spring evening. This experience suggested to Krutch that evidence of the kind of mental life he valued exists throughout creation, and that humans and other animals “belong equally to something more inclusive than ourselves” (Krutch 1949: 10).

The Krutchs relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 1952, and most of Krutch’s subsequent books treated environments of the American southwest. These works further developed the idea that manifestations of consciousness, emotion, and purposefulness in different creatures form a variegated sacred center in nature, which may redeem a robust sense of human potential.

Though Krutch called his faith “a kind of pantheism,” it falls short of pantheism because creatures whose lives appeared unconscious and programmed – notably ants and dandelions – fall outside this sacred center. The prevalence of these creatures underscored for Krutch the tenuousness of mindful qualities and the need for their continual affirmation.

Krutch’s faith is an anthropocentric naturalism that identifies the sacred not with nature’s otherness or unity, but with parts of nature that sustained a cherished (and culturally specific) vision of humanity. His beliefs parallel some strands of modern naturalistic theology (especially as developed by empirical theologians of the Chicago School), and despite their limitations, present a suggestive contrast to the holistic spirituality of many nature writers.

Paul Wise

Further Reading

Krutch, Joseph Wood. The Modern Temper: A Study and A Confession. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1956 (1929).

Krutch, Joseph Wood. The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calender for the Country. New York: William Sloane, 1949.

Margolis, John D. Joseph Wood Krutch: A Writer’s Life. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1980.

McClintock, James I. Nature’s Kindred Spirits. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

See also: Abbey, Edward; Pantheism.



An ancient and pre-Christian symbol, taking the form of the serpent, spiral, cross, or knot, the labyrinth has recently experienced a resurgence of interest among New Age spiritual groups. Labyrinths are physical and metaphorical, favored by civilizations in Greece, Egypt, India, and Indonesia. They are also a favorite image of modernist writers, particularly philosopher Freidrich Nietzche and Louis Borges. Lima de Freitas notes that, in modern times, the labyrinth represents “the existential dilemmas of modern urban man, who finds himself trapped in a prisonlike world and condemned to wander aimlessly therein” (1987: 411). The labyrinth symbolizes a path through which the soul must find its way. In Geography of the Imagination, Guy Davenport calls the labyrinth “a life symbol” for the twentieth century.

Labyrinths are found in a variety of physical settings; they are found as stone patterns and drawings in caves, entrenched into hillsides, cut into turf-mazes or trimmed hedges, carved into stone obelisks, and set into the floors of medieval churches and cathedrals. One of the most famous labyrinths is in the floor of Chartres cathedral in France, which has proved to be the basis for a special eponymous design, the Chartrain, a maze of four quadrants, eleven paths, and a center rosette set within a circle. The labyrinth can also be traced to the familiar Celtic knot design. The Hopi of the American southwest use the labyrinth in their Man in the Maze symbol to represent life’s journey.

While labyrinths are constructed by humans, they symbolize and explain natural processes that have been celebrated in ritual for centuries: birth, death, fertility, the sunrise and sunset, planting and harvest. They also are tied to female Earth deities, as the center of the labyrinth is a hole, an empty space that is filled when the penitent walks the path. It thus represents the womb.

In his study of maze imagery, Craig Wright points out that there are two basic maze designs: the multicursal, those mazes where a choice of path is necessary, and the unicursal, those with only a single path leading to the center (2001: 3). Like the cathedrals in which many of the Christian labyrinths are found, the labyrinth itself employs principles of sacred geometry in its construction and connotation. As George Lesser points out, sacred geometry presumes that the universe is created by God as a rational system “and therefore mathematical conception, the highest manifestation of divine wisdom, is imitated, in a mystic way, by the sacred building and its precinct which thus become a reflection of divine order, harmony, and beauty” (1957: 3). Geometric figures, such as the circle, the polygon, and the five-pointed star, are sacred because they refer to mystical numbers and symbolic concepts in numerology. The basic shape of the labyrinth is a circle divided into four quadrants. These represent the cardinal directions north, south, east, and west. In the symbolic cross labyrinth, the vertical axis links the underworld to heaven. As with the cross in traditional Christian iconography, in the labyrinth the cross “reconciles opposed directions and divided drives at its center” (de Freitas 1987: 417). The Christian maze, found primarily in naves of French and Italian medieval churches, was approached and entered from the west. The penitent moves eastward, and the symbolism is potent – east is the dawning of the day, the spiritual rebirth in the faith (Wright 2001: 19). Typically, the Christian labyrinth contains eleven tracks within its circumference, symbolizing “sin, dissonance, transition, and incompleteness” (Wright 2001: 23). “It extends beyond the number of the Commandments,” writes Wright, “yet does not attain that of the Apostles or of the months of the year” (2001: 23). The center rosette is often construed to be a symbol of the Virgin Mary, writes Lauren Artress (1995: 58).

The knot shape represents Ariadne’s thread and memory. In Greek myth, Ariadne helped Theseus to escape the labyrinth of the Minotaur at Crete. When the thread is knotted, it must be unwound, thus it illustrates the difficulties that must be overcome in the soul’s movement toward salvation. The serpent shape, often found on prehistoric rock drawings, is most directly related to pathways and the promise of freedom or release at the end of the journey. The spiral labyrinth illustrates two basic movements, inward and outward. It can be associated with life processes of ingestion and energy. The spiral is also a powerful archetype that represents time, the cycle of the seasons, and the arc of life. Lauren Artress stresses that the spiral is “the whole.” Neo-pagan religions, such as Wicca, revere the circle in ritual. Women’s dream quests make use of dancing, chanting, dreaming, healing, and blessing inside the circle, often using candles, incense, or flower petals to connect to nature and her ancient and sacred powers.

The introduction to Wiccan teachings composed by Starhawk (Miriam Simos), Spiral Dance (1979), takes its name from the ritual clockwise cyclic dance around the perimeter of a sacred circle. Helen Raphael Sands writes that the spiral dance most often associated with the labyrinth is performed in a group in which the dancers link hands. Called “Tsankonikos, meaning ‘from Tsakonia,’ a town in the Peloponnese,” the dance is “connected with the labyrinth and Geranos, the Crane Dance that Ariadne is said to have taught Theseus on the island of Naxos after their escape from Crete” (Sands 2001: 70). Thus, it is clear from Artress, Starhawk, and Sands that the ancient symbol of the labyrinth has taken on a new life in women’s religious practices.

Marguerite Helmers

Further Reading

Artress, Lauren. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool. New York: Riverhead, 1995.

Davenport, Guy. Geography of the Imagination. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. de Freitas, Lima. “Labyrinth.” The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 8. Mircea Eliade, ed. New York: Macmillan, 1987, 411–19.

Lesser, George. Gothic Cathedrals and Sacred Geometry, 2 vols. London: Alec Tiranti, 1957.

Sands, Helen Raphael. The Healing Labyrinth: Finding Your Path to Inner Peace. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s, 2001.

Starhawk. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.

Wright, Craig. The Maze and the Warrior: Symbols in Architecture, Theology, and Music. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

See also: Epic of Evolution; (and adjacent, Epic Ritual); Reclaiming; Spirit and Nature Walking Paths; Starhawk.

Ladakh Buddhism

The harvest lies in golden stacks in the terraced fields. Rooftops are bright orange with apricots drying in the sun. Across the valley, a monastery clings to the side of a mountain. Above, rocky slopes rise to the snows of a glacier. This is Ladakh or “Little Tibet.” I first came to this remote region in the Indian Himalayas in 1975. I found a culture so harmonious, so attuned to the needs of people and the environment, that it was unlike anything I had ever known. The Ladakhis exhibited an exceptional sensitivity in managing their environment and a keen awareness of their place in the natural order.

I had never before met people who seemed so emotionally healthy, so secure as the Ladakhis. The reasons are, of course, complex and spring from a whole way of life and worldview. But I am sure that the most important factor was the sense of being part of something much larger than oneself, of being inextricably connected to others and to one’s surroundings. The Ladakhis belonged to their place on Earth. They were bonded to that place through intimate daily contact, through knowledge about their immediate environment with its changing seasons, needs and limitations. They were aware of the living context in which they found themselves. The movement of the stars, the sun and moon were familiar rhythms that influenced their daily activities.

This sense of interconnectedness, in large part, emanated from the Ladakhis’ Buddhist beliefs and practice. Even today, everything in Ladakh reflects its religious heritage. The landscape is dotted with walls of carved prayer stones and chortens, fluttering flags whisper prayers to the winds and always, on some distant height, rise the massive white walls of a monastery. Buddhism has been the traditional religion of the majority of Ladakhis since approximately 200 B.C.E. Today all sects of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism are represented, under the overall spiritual leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The villages where I have lived are Buddhist, but in the capital almost half the population is Muslim. In addition, there is a small group of Christians numbering a few hundred. Relations among these three groups have changed in recent years, but when I arrived in 1975 they all showed profound mutual respect and an easygoing tolerance.

Emptiness and Interdependence

One of the central elements of Buddhism is the philosophy of sunyata. The use of the term “emptiness” or “nothingness” to define sunyata has led many Westerners to think of Buddhism as nihilistic. Yet, we are not being asked to deny the “existence” of the world, but to alter our perception of it. Tashi Rabgyas, one of Ladakh’s leading scholars, explained it to me like this:

Take any object, like a tree. When you think of a tree, you tend to think of it as a distinct, clearly defined object, and on a certain level it is. But on a more important level, the tree has no independent existence; rather, it dissolves into a web of relationships. The rain that falls on its leaves, the wind that causes it to sway, the soil that supports it – all form a part of the tree. Ultimately, if you think about it, everything in the universe helps make the tree what it is. It cannot be isolated; its nature changes from moment to moment – it is never the same. This is what we mean when we say things are “empty,” that they have no independent existence.

It is said that the universe is like an endless river. Its totality, the unity, does not change, yet at the same time it is in constant motion. The river as a whole exists, but you cannot say what it consists of; you cannot stop the

Ladakh Project

In 1975, Helena Norberg-Hodge established the Ladakh Project to help counteract the negative effects of conventional development in Ladakh. She eventually founded the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), which now has branches in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Ladakh. ISEC acts as the parent organization for the Ladakh Project, while also running a number of other programs aimed at promoting locally based alternatives to the global consumer culture.

The Ladakh Project has worked with thousands of Ladakhis in hundreds of villages to help strengthen and rebuild the local economy and cultural self-esteem. ISEC provides Ladakhi leaders with information about the impact of conventional development on other parts of the world while exploring more sustainable patterns of development in Ladakh itself, based on the use of local resources and indigenous knowledge. Genuine information exchange between cultures is part of what Norberg-Hodge calls “counter-development” – countering development myths with accurate information about its impacts.

ISEC’s “counter-development” work includes collaborating with a number of Ladakhi organizations, many of which ISEC helped to establish. With the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDG), ISEC set up one of the largest renewable energy projects in the “developing world.” Through establishing the Centre for Amchi Medicine and assisting The Amchi Association, ISEC also been helping Ladakh’s traditional doctors, or amchis, to keep their ancient knowledge alive. ISEC also works closely with the Women’s Alliance of Ladakh (WAL), a rural women’s organization, which now has over 5000 members from around the region.

During the tourist season ISEC runs daily workshops as part of the Tourist Education Programme. The workshops are focused around a showing of the film Ancient Futures (an award-winning film based on the book by Norberg-Hodge) followed by a facilitated discussion. These workshops help tourists to see beyond surface impressions of Ladakh and associate the changes they see in their own communities with the same economic forces that are eroding Ladakhi culture and sustainability. ISEC also sponsors Ladakhi community leaders to come to the West on “Reality Tours,” which serve to balance the glamorized image of modern, urban life that is spread through advertising, television and tourism.

ISEC’s Ladakh Farm Project offers the opportunity for foreigners of all nationalities to live and work with Ladakhi families for a month during the summer. For participants, the project provides invaluable insights into both the strengths of the traditional culture and the forces threatening to undermine it. For Ladakhis, having foreigners show such interest in their way of life reinforces a sense of pride in their culture, which, because of the widespread images of the Western consumer culture, many now look up upon as primitive and backward.

Similarly, these foreigners often reveal a growing interest in the West in spiritual values which also helps to strengthen Ladakhi self-respect. This work encourages the young people of Ladakh to maintain respect for their own religion, which in turn helps to counteract feelings of alienation and inferiority.

In part because of ISEC’s work, a new sense of confidence has emerged in Ladakh and development is now seen in a different light; while in the world outside, the story of Ladakh helps to highlight some of the foundations necessary for a sustainable future for us all.

Helena Norberg-Hodge

flow and examine it. Everything is in movement and inextricably intertwined.

Living Religion

In traditional Ladakh, religion permeated all aspects of life, inseparable from art and music, culture and agriculture. People were deeply religious. Yet, from a Western point of view, they appeared strangely casual about it. This apparent paradox struck me particularly strongly in 1976 when his holiness the Dalai Lama came for a visit – the first one in many years. For months before, the sense of anticipation grew. People painted their houses, printed prayer flags, and stitched new clothes, they even dismantled their elaborate headdresses washing the turquoises and corals and refurbishing the felt backing with bright red cloth. It was to be the Great Wheel, or Kalachakra,

Initiation, performed on the banks of the Indus. Long before the event, villagers from all over Ladakh started streaming in, some coming by bus or truck, thousands more walking or riding for days to reach the capital.

By the middle of the week-long teaching, the numbers had swelled to forty thousand. The air was charged with intense devotion, and yet amazingly at the same time there was almost a carnival atmosphere. One minute the man in front of me was lost in reverence, his gazed locked on the Dalai Lama; the next he would be laughing at a neighbor’s joke; and a while later he seemed to be somewhere else, spinning his prayer wheel almost absentmindedly. During this religious teaching – for many of those present, the most important event in their lifetime – people came and went, laughing and gossiping. There were picnics and everywhere children – playing, running, calling out to each other.

Attending the ceremonies was a young Frenchman named Mcleod Ganj who had studied Buddhism in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s residence in exile. He took his new religion very seriously and was shocked by the Ladakhis. “These people are not serious. I thought they were supposed to be Buddhists,” he said scornfully. Even though I knew there was something wrong about his reaction, I was not sure how to respond. I too had grown up in a culture in which religion was separated from the rest of life. It was something a small minority did on Sunday mornings, solemnly and seriously, but that was all.

In Ladakh on the other hand, the entire calendar is shaped by religious beliefs and practices. The day of the full moon, which always falls on the fifteenth of the Tibetan lunar month, is when the Buddha was conceived, attained enlightenment and died. Every other week of the month also has religious significance. The tenth day, for instance, marks the birthday of Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Tibet from India. On this day villagers gather in one another’s houses to eat and drink while reading religious texts. For nyeness, in the first month of the Tibetan calendar, people assemble to fast and meditate together in the gongpa, or monastery. On holy days, the family often prints new prayer flags. Cloth in the five holy colours – red, blue, green, yellow and white – is pressed onto inked carved wooden blocks. The new flags are placed on top of the old, which are never removed, but left slowly to disintegrate, spreading their message on the winds.

Every house is filled with reminders of the region’s Buddhist heritage. The kitchen stove is decorated with spallbi, an elaborate knot with no beginning and no end – the knot of prosperity. It is one of the eight lucky symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, which are often depicted in frescos in the guest room. In addition to the prayer flags strung from corner to corner on every rooftop, there is often a large flagpole in front of the house. This tarchen signifies that the house chapel contains all sixteen volumes of the basic Mahayana text, the Prajnaparamita, or books of “perfect wisdom.” On one of the exterior walls, you may also see a little balcony with three chortens (stupas) – one orange, one blue, and one white – symbolizing wisdom, strength and compassion.

Symbols from earlier indigenous religions have also been incorporated into present-day Buddhism. On the roof is a lhato, a little chimney of mud topped with a bunch of willow branches and a wooden arrow. This is for the protective deity of the house. It contains a vessel filled with grains, water and precious metals that are changed every New Year to assure continued prosperity.

The Role of Monasteries

On a broad societal level, monasteries provided “social security” for the community, ensuring that no one went hungry. If an individual family found itself with too many mouths to feed, any number of sons – usually the younger ones – became monks. In the monastery they were provided for by the community in exchange for religious services. The process of give and take between the monastery and village sustained a rich cultural and religious tradition.

On a number of occasions throughout the year, the monasteries are home to important ceremonies and festivals involving several days, even weeks of ritual and prayer. During Yarnas, which takes place in summer, the monks stay indoors for up to a month, to avoid unwillingly treading on and killing insects. One of the biggest events of the year is the Cham dance, during which the basic teachings of Vadjrayana Buddhism are enacted in theatrical form and an effigy of the enemy of all people – the ego – is ceremoniously killed. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of villagers from all around would come to watch the monks dancing in splendidly colourful masks, representing various figures of the Tibetan pantheon, all of which have a deeper symbolic meaning.

Wisdom and Compassion

For me, the most profound expression of Buddhism in traditional Ladakh lay in the more subtle values and attitudes of the people, from the simplest farmer to the most educated monk. The Ladakhi attitude to life – and death – seemed to be based on an intuitive understanding of impermanence and a consequent lack of attachment. Again and again I was struck by this attitude in my Ladakhi friends. Rather than clinging to an idea of how things should be, they seemed blessed with the ability to actively welcome things as they are. The conception of reality was circular, one of constant returning. There was not the sense that this life is the only opportunity. Death is as much a beginning as an end, a passing from one birth to the next, not a final dissolution. Unlike in the West, “good and bad,” “fast and slow,” “here and there” were not seen as sharply different qualities. In the same way, Ladakhis did not think in terms of fundamental opposition, for instance between mind and body or reason and intuition. Ladakhis experience the world through what they call their semba, best translated as a cross between “heart” and “mind.” This reflects the Buddhist insistence that Wisdom and Compassion are inseparable.


When I first arrived in Leh, the capital of Ladakh, it was a lovely town. It had only two paved streets and a motor vehicle was a rare sight. Cows were the most likely cause of congestion. The air was crystal clear, so clear that the snow peaks on the far side of the valley, 30 kilometres away, seemed close enough to touch. Within five minutes’ walk in any direction from the town centre were barley fields, dotted with large farmhouses. Though it was a district capital of 5000 people, Leh had the feeling of a village; everyone greeted each other.

In the last three decades I have watched the capital of Ladakh turn into an urban sprawl. Now the streets are choked with traffic, and the air tastes of diesel fumes. “Housing colonies” of soulless, cement boxes have eaten into the green fields and spread into the dusty desert, punctuated not by trees but by electricity poles. Piles of rusty metal, broken glass and discarded plastic packaging fill the gutters. Billboards advertise cigarettes and powdered milk. The once pristine streams are polluted, the water undrinkable. For the first time, there are homeless people in Ladakh and crime is increasing.

This sudden modernization of Ladakh brought many economic changes which led to an increasingly centralized and urban society, and in which job opportunities became scarce and power was in the hands of a few. Competition for jobs and political representation therefore increased and this started to divide the previously peaceful Ladakhi society. Ethnic friction between local Buddhists and Muslims – unheard of previously – escalated to open violence in 1989.

The influx of Western influence also brought with it glamorized images in the media of a Western consumer culture. The impressions from films and advertisements were of a life with almost infinite wealth and leisure. This one-dimensional view caused young people to feel that their rural lifestyles were shameful and backward. This led to a rejection of their own culture and a desire to imitate the consumer culture.

In traditional Ladakh I knew a society in which there was neither waste nor pollution, a society in which crime was nonexistent, communities were healthy and strong, and a teenage boy was never embarrassed to be gentle and affectionate with his mother or grandmother. As that society begins to break down under the pressures of modernization, the lessons are of relevance far beyond Ladakh itself. We urgently need to steer toward a sustainable balance – a balance between urban and rural, male and female, culture and nature. The Buddhism that has shaped the culture of Ladakh – teachings of interdependence and wisdom and compassion – can help lead us in the right direction toward a more sustainable and harmonious future.

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Further Reading

Badiner, Alan. Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism and Ecology. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1990.

Norberg-Hodge, Helena. Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh. London: Rider Books: 2000.

Sivaraksa, Sulak. Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1992.

Watts, Jonathan, Alan Senauke and Santikaro Bhikkhu, eds. Entering the Realm of Reality: Towards Dhammic Societies. Bangkok: Suksit Siam, 1997.

See also: Bon (Tibet); Dalai Lama; Tibet and Central Asia.

LaDuke, Winona (1959–)

Winona LaDuke is an enrolled member of the Bear Clan Mississippi Band of the Anishnabeg. Author, environmental activist, and two-time Green Party vicepresidential candidate, all of her numerous roles are directly informed by Anishnabe religion and culture. Hers is a land-based understanding of the world, and her particular land base is that of the forest of the White Earth Reservation in Northeastern Minnesota (USA). From her successful struggle against James Bay’s hydro-electric development in the 1980s, to her ongoing reclamation of lost land for White Earth Reservation, LaDuke has become an international voice for indigenous environmental activism.

Born in 1959, in East Los Angeles, to Vincent (a.k.a. Sun Bear) and Betty (Bernstein) LaDuke, she left the west coast to get her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in Native Economic Development, later receiving a Master’s in Rural Development from Antioch College. It was at Harvard, at the age of 18, that she encountered and became active in Native American political activism. She is her father’s daughter in terms of her identity and culture; she moved to the White Earth Reservation, where her father was born and raised, in 1981, where she has since remained, and immediately became involved in the community and its struggles. She eventually founded the Honor the Earth Fund, an organization that funds indigenous environmental activism, and the White Earth Land Recovery Project. Sun Bear became a spiritual guru of sorts, attracting a mostly white audience, while receiving criticism from some Native Americans who resented his capitalizing on their sacred ways. Like her father, she serves as a conduit between native and white cultures, most obviously as Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, and as a representative of indigenous communities around the world to white society. Yet, unlike her father, LaDuke believes that each culture and community must develop its own ways and stay true to them. While not explicit in any criticism of Sun Bear, LaDuke’s own philosophy and practices betray a clear deviation from and disapproval of his behavior; for LaDuke, different communities can and should work together yet must always remain distinct.

LaDuke and the Anishinabe see the need for a diversity of perspectives; there is not even a single Native American perspective. To maintain its integrity and power, each community must have its own ways, which must be based on the land on which that community lives. LaDuke’s religion and culture are directly related to her activism; she asks: How can a forest culture exist without a forest? As an Anishinabe, she believes activism should be community-based, that is, it should be land-based, a point argued in All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999). As the title indicates, LaDuke and the Anishinabe believe the entire natural world is related to humankind and is animate (i.e., alive and with spirit) and should be treated accordingly.

For LaDuke, indigenous worldviews and ways of life are fundamentally different from the dominant contemporary American worldview. The native worldview asserts the authority of what she calls “Natural Law,” which is the highest law, trumping all others. This “Natural Law” is cyclical and dictates a state of balance that results in sustainability, whereas “Industrial Law” is linear and ultimately destructive. In contrast to industrial society’s treating of symptoms alone, “Natural Law” advocates a systemic approach that searches out the sources of problems and recognizes the interconnectedness of all things. LaDuke sees the contemporary source of environmental and social problems as industrial culture’s insatiable consumption, and works to turn society away from that accumulation-based thought and conquest-driven behavior toward a system of conservation and harmony governed by “Natural Law.”

LaDuke is an advocate of decision making based on the teachings of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, which stipulate that all actions should be considered in light of their impact on the seventh generation from now. The influence of this can be found in her own environmental activism and observed in her novel Last Standing Woman (1997), a recounting of seven generations of Anishnabeg.

Becky O’Brien

Further Reading

LaDuke, Winona. All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999. LaDuke, Winona. “Learning from Native Peoples.” In Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka, eds. The New American Crisis: Radical Analyses of the Problems Facing America Today. New York: The New Press, 1995,


South End Press Collective, ed. Talking About a Revolution: Interviews. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1998, 67–79.

Taylor, Bron. “Earthen Spirituality or Cultural Genocide: Radical Environmentalism’s Appropriation of Native American Spirituality.” Religion 17 (1997), 183–215.

See also: Anishnabeg Culture; Black Mesa; Devils Tower, Mato Tipi, or Bears Lodge; G-O Road; Holy Land in Native North America; Law, Religion, and Native American Lands; Manifest Destiny; The Sacred and the Modern World; Sacred Geography in Native North America.

Lake Pergusa (Sicily)

In the center of the Italian island of Sicily, in a place that was known in antiquity as Sicily’s “navel,” lies one of the world’s most remarkable natural and cultural wonders: Lake Pergusa. A salinated body of water, it has turned deep red approximately every 15 to 20 years during the past century as a part of a dramatic biochemical cleansing process. Its reedy banks also serve as a major resting place for migrating and wintering birds coming from all over Europe.

Hailed in the literature for more than two thousand years as a marvel of flora and fauna, the lake was considered by the Romans to be the mythological spot where the goddess Persephone was abducted into the underworld, and was the site of an important religious center dedicated to the grain deity Demeter and her daughter Persephone during the period of Greco-Roman colonization of the island. Today, Lake Pergusa faces an environmental threat from an auto racetrack that has been built around its entire three-mile perimeter.

Natural History

Located in the Province of Enna, five miles from the mountain town of Enna in a vast grain-growing region of Sicily, Lake Pergusa is one of only two natural lakes that remain on an island that was famed in antiquity for its wetlands. From a geological standpoint, Pergusa’s basin is tectonic in origin, meaning that it formed eons ago due to the sudden sinking of the Earth’s rock layers. The lake is fed only by rainwater and tricklings coming from the subterranean levels, which carry minerals that make its waters slightly salinated and sulfurous. Italian scientist Sergio Angeletti has noted, “This lake represents a marvelous example in microcosm . . . of the formation of the ocean four to five million years ago” (Angeletti in Cimino 1985: 1).

The lake periodically undergoes a remarkable reddening phenomenon due to the presence of a red, sulfuroxidizing bacteria (Thiocapsa roseopersicina) that lives in its waters. During summer months of years in which the sulfur content reaches a critical level, the bacteria proliferate to such an extent that the lake’s waters turn either partially or entirely a deep red color. Over a period of several weeks, the bacteria act to reduce the sulfur level; they, in turn, are eaten by a tiny, transparent crustacean, and the lake returns to its normal color. The phenomenon, which has only been documented since the twentieth century, was studied in 1932 by Italian scientist Achille Forti, who dubbed Pergusa “the lake of blood” (Forti 1932: 36–86). Sicilian environmentalists are not sure whether this occurrence is part of the lake’s natural cleansing process or a response to environmental distress, therefore it is not known how long the reddening has been taking place.

Lake Pergusa is a major wet zone in central Sicily and an important resting and wintering spot for migratory birds from all over the Mediterranean. The lake is the most important area in Sicily for the wintering of ducks and coots, hosting, on average, approximately 50 percent of the total number of water birds found in all other Sicilian natural lakes and artificial basins. Swans, herons, flamingos, and cranes, are among the many other water species that have made Lake Pergusa their home.

Religious History

The discovery of the archeological site known as Cozzo Matrice, whose name means “Hill of the Mother,” has provided abundant evidence that Lake Pergusa was once the location of an important religious center dedicated to female deities going back at least as far as the Bronze Age. This plateau, located less than a quarter of a mile from the lake, has revealed ceramic material dating to as early as 4000 B.C.E., as well as a settlement featuring circular and elliptical huts overlooking the lake, dating to 2500 B.C.E. Such circular kinds of enclosures, which archeologist Marija Gimbutas has noted were constructed throughout Paleolithic and Neolithic Europe for ritual purposes to symbolize the “womb” of the female divinity, suggest that this site was probably sacred to a goddess or goddesses from very early times. A Bronze Age layer (ca. 1700–1300 B.C.E.) has furnished a great deal of cult-related material.

A later Greek layer, dating to the fifth century B.C.E., during the height of the Greek colonization of the island, has revealed the stone remains of a sanctuary and statuettes of the goddess Demeter, or possibly Persephone, as well as other sacred objects. At other villages near the lake

– Zagaria, Juculia, and Jacobo – statuettes representing Demeter and Persephone have also been found dating from the sixth to third centuries B.C.E. The religion dedicated to these two goddesses was characterized by elaborate festivals celebrating Sicily’s agricultural cycle, particularly as it related to the production of wheat and barley, as well as mystery rites centering on the human seasons of birth, growth, death, and reincarnation. While Demeter was the goddess of growth and abundance, Persephone was a goddess of both budding spring and death/the underworld. Archeologists generally agree that the indigenous Sicilians at Lake Pergusa, and up in the nearby mountain town of Enna, easily adopted this Greek religion because it probably resembled their own native tradition.

In antiquity, Lake Pergusa was only one of many craters of water fed by underground streams that were a unique part of the Sicilian landscape. Regarded with fascination, such craters were associated with the underworld. The religious connection between Lake Pergusa and the nether realms is particularly strong in the work of Ovid, who, writing in the first century during the period of Roman occupation of the island, named it as the precise place where the goddess Persephone (the Roman Proserpina) was separated from her mother, Demeter (the Roman Ceres), abducted by Hades (the Roman Pluto and lord of the underworld), and taken to his subterranean abode, where she became his bride.

In The Metamorphoses, Ovid further described Lake Pergusa as a remarkable place filled to profusion with water birds and wildly blooming flowers. The historical veracity of his description is confirmed by Enna’s historian Enrico Sinicropi, who as recently as the 1950s similarly described the lake as “an Eden . . . part of a powerfully enchanted panorama where dream is easily confused with reality” (Sinicropi 1958: 72).

Many of Lake Pergusa’s natural characteristics – its subterranean streams, water birds, and flowers – undoubtedly had deep religious significance for the ancient dwellers of Sicily, and provide clues as to why Lake Pergusa was probably considered a sacred spot associated with female divinity and the underworld from very early times. The water bird, in its various species, was considered an epiphany of female divinity going back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods all over the world. Flowers have also long been associated with the sacred feminine. Moreover, if the lake had been turning red in antiquity, it most likely would have been seen as a living manifestation of the “menstruation” of the female deity, much as appearances of red in nature have been perceived the world over from time immemorial. This element may have led to the lake’s association with Persephone, a goddess also of young womanhood and menarche, or first menstruation.

Furthermore, sulfur, one of the minerals in the lake’s waters, was considered by the Greeks to be a magical substance associated with the underworld that would drive away the spirits of disease. Sicilian commentator Francesco Potenza Lauria, writing in 1858, noted that Pergusa’s waters had many medicinal qualities and could be used to treat afflictions such as hemorrhoids, rheumatism, and skin lesions. Since antiquity, sulfurous bodies of water all over the world have been bathed in and ingested by sick people to treat a host of maladies. One can therefore imagine that Lake Pergusa was similarly used as a pilgrimage site for healing and healing-related rituals.

Environmental History

Today, Lake Pergusa hardly resembles the Eden it once was. In 1957, the Province of Enna began constructing an auto racetrack, known as the Autodrome, around the lake’s entire perimeter. Such a project violated laws prohibiting construction so close to a body of water. The concrete and asphalt barrier of the structure prevents the lake from expanding and contracting naturally.

Additionally, waters from the rock layers that would otherwise go to fill the lake basin are continually being drained by two large wells that were built by local authorities in 1963, as well as numerous wells from private houses that have been illegally constructed around the lake in the last several decades. The lake has progressively become filled with sediment, vegetative residue, and polluting run-off from the Autodrome. Every year, it continues to dry up. Before 1860, its maximum depth was approximately twenty-one feet; today it is less than three. Its perimeter, which measured five miles at the beginning of the nineteenth century, is now less than three. Lake Pergusa is disappearing.

The wildlife around the lake is also in decline. Pollution, along with hunting and fishing, have resulted in the profound diminution of the populations of aquatic birds that nest there, as well as most of the species of fish that once filled its waters. Many of the species once found in and around the lake have disappeared.

A crusade to save Lake Pergusa began in 1980, when Maria Cimino, a Sicilian native and long-time resident of Enna, founded the Enna chapter of the World Wildlife Fund. Cimino has been working tirelessly to see that the lake is restored and that the Autodrome is removed from its banks, despite political resistance from the racetrack’s promoters, who include local political decision-makers and – many citizens privately contend – those involved in organized crime. She has received anonymous phone calls threatening her with death unless she ceases her environmental activism, and has been the subject of unflattering graffiti on public walls.

Cimino successfully campaigned to have hunting prohibited at the lake and, in 1991, to have the lake and its environs declared a “natural reserve” of the highest status. However, for every victory she and a handful of environmental allies have achieved, there have been new setbacks. For example, in 1995, the regional government of Enna downgraded the status of the reserve from “total” to “special” in order to bypass certain laws. Illegal activity involving building around the lake has continued to be authorized by local politicians, and the regional Minister of the Environment has frequently neglected to intervene, despite protest by activists. Proposals that Cimino has submitted suggesting activities and projects for turning Lake Pergusa into an eco-tourist attraction have been ignored.

“I believe that Lake Pergusa is an immensely sacred place,” Cimino said to reporter Sylvia Poggioli, in a story on Lake Pergusa that ran on America’s National Public Radio in March 2001. Cimino herself is a practicing Buddhist, as are several other activists working to save the lake. This small group has conducted several Sur Ngo ceremonies – Tibetan Buddhist offerings to the local spirits

– on behalf of the lake over the past several years. Since 1996, a growing number of Americans of Sicilian descent who are involved in the neo-pagan and women’s spirituality movements have become interested in the lake as a sacred locale, as well, and have similarly conducted prayers for the lake’s survival both on site and at various places in the United States. Among these individuals are Italian Americans who practice “stregoneria,” or Italian witchcraft, which many claim to be a survival of Italy’s pre-Christian religions dedicated to Demeter, Persephone, and other Greco-Roman deities. One American scholar, Marguerite Rigoglioso, has organized an activist campaign on the lake’s behalf in the United States and has created a website to support the environmental effort.

Meanwhile, Cimino has persisted in her activism. In 2001, she created a “Scientific-Technical Committee to Save Lake Pergusa,” which includes experts from many disciplines whose expertise could be applied to an eventual restoration project. The World Wildlife Fund Enna has submitted a request to the European Community to provide international funds for the lake’s restoration, and Cimino’s committee has solicited proposals from the Italian and international scientific and technical communities for projects to remove the racetrack and restore the lake basin and its vegetation. The committee is now seeking government approval and public and private funding to enact these projects.

The total desiccation of Lake Pergusa would be an environmental catastrophe for an agriculturally important island that, in the past two centuries, has already experienced the loss of many of its lakes, rivers, and springs – as well as much of its rainfall – due to deforestation. As Pergusa continues to shrink, the most important event taking place at the Autodrome may well be the race against time. Meanwhile, Persephone’s sacred lake, which may well be claimed in part by the Mafia, serves as a striking living metaphor for the “abduction” of nature at the hands of the contemporary “underworld.”

Marguerite Rigoglioso

Further Reading

Cimino, Maria. “Che cos’e’ il Lago di Pergusa” (What is Lake Pergusa?). Report presented to the Assessore Regional al Territorio e Ambiente, Enna, Sicily, 5 March 1985.

Finley, M.I. A History of Sicily: Ancient Sicily to the Arab Conquest. London: Chatto & Windus, 1968.

Forti, Achille. “Il lago di sangue a Pergusa in Sicilia e la prima piaga d’Egitto.” Il Naturalista Siciliano 8 (1932) 36–86.

Gimbutas, Marija. Civilization of the Goddess. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.

Gimbutas, Marija. Language of the Goddess. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1989.

Grahn, Judy. Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.

Kingsley, Peter. Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and the Pythagorean Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

Ovid. The Metamorphoses. Mary M. Innes, tr. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1955 (1970).

Rigoglioso, Marguerite. Mysticism, Mother Worship, and Misogyny in the Navel of Sicily: A Spiritual History of Enna, Lake Pergusa, Demeter, and Persephone. Ann Arbor, MI: Bell & Howard Information and Learning, 2001.

Sinicropi, Enrico. Enna nella stora nell’arte e nella vita.

Palermo: Antonio Renna, 1958.

See also: Gimbutas, Marija; Greco-Roman World; Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Roman Natural Religion; Sacred Space/ Place.


The Lakota, (known historically as the Teton, Sioux and Dakota) are composed of seven tribes: Oglala (They Scatter Their Own), Sicangu (Burned Thighs, also know as Brule), Oohenunpa (Two Kettles), Itazipco (Sans Acrs, Without Bows), Hunkpapa (End of the Camp Circle), Sihasapa (Blackfeet), and Mnicowojou (Planters by the Water). As they moved west out of Minnesota, they became nomadic hunter-gatherers whose resource base included a large number of game animals, particularly the buffalo, but also elk, deer, and other mammals, as well as seeds, fruits, roots, and tubers. They also traded or raided for agricultural products such as corn and squash with the native peoples to the east. The appropriation of the horse after European incursion to the Americas extended their geographical range and increased their food supply. Rifles increased successful hunting of fur-bearing mammals and allowed the Lakota to engage in the fur trade as early as the second half of the eighteenth century. This trade expanded as late as the 1850s.

Anthropology and Lakota oral tradition provide a variety of explanations for the origins of the Lakota and their geographical location on the Plains. According to Lakota oral history, the Lakota emerged from under the Earth in the Black Hills, the spiritual center of their universe, and were the first people in existence. The Black Hills, along with other locations, are therefore part of a sacred geography that encodes Lakota oral and written history and to which important pilgrimages continue to be made.

According to archeology, linguistics and ethnohistory, the Lakota, not yet differentiated into their current political configuration, came to the western Plains from what is now southern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeastern Iowa. They migrated to the Plains by the latter 1700s. The western migration of the Lakota was a response to European immigration that pushed tribes such as the Anishnabe (Ojibwa) further west as well as an attraction to abundant game, especially the buffalo, a key spiritual and nutritional resource with which they have a special relationship. The decline of buffalo numbers, as well as of other game and vegetal resources, was due to overhunting, deliberate destruction of food resources to restrict the movement of the Lakota and other Plains groups, and disruption of habitat and loss of grazing land through European immigration and then settlement.

This decline was apparent by the 1840s, and the buffalo all but disappeared from the Western plains by the time of the last hunt in 1883. At the same time the United States began restricting the Lakota to reservations in violation of earlier treaty agreements. Lakota lands were further diminished through government legislation (the Allotment Act), which assigned specific amounts of land to individual Lakota and sold off “surplus” lands. This policy continued up until the 1930s.

The Lakota have no word for religion. Belief in and interaction with the sacred are not restricted to certain times, places, or activities, in contrast to Western belief systems in which sacred and profane are important binary oppositions. The Lakota held and continue to hold that all is sacred (wakan), although certain objects, activities, and even persons are imbued with more of this sacrality than others. This sacrality can also be sought and obtained by such means as prayer, fasting, self-sacrifice, and generosity. Thus, all of nature is sacred, while certain places, events, and relationships may be more sacred than others. Thus many contemporary Americans see the world in terms of sacred times and non-sacred times and attempt to draw a careful distinction between Church and state while Lakota do not make these divisions. To express these different worldviews, some Lakota say that Whites have “religion” while Lakota have “spirituality.”

The Lakota believed and continue to believe that maintaining moral bounds, expressed as doing things “in a good way” is key to success in hunting and in all of life’s endeavors. The Lakota did not and do not live in a world of total ecological harmony or mystical participation with all beings: rather they seek balance in the world through reciprocity. At the same time the Lakota remain highly pragmatic in determining causes for disasters in the world, such as the near-extinction of the buffalo, and seek remedies that will serve the needs of future generations.

According to Lakota oral history, the Lakota were granted their spiritual and social organization from a sacred person, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, who gave the people, at a time of starvation, the sacred pipe along with a promise to teach them the rituals and morality required for living as a united group. This pipe links the Lakota to the buffalo as generous relatives who would give their very lives to sustain their kin. The Lakota’s buffalo relatives would express familial generosity by providing food and many other useful products.

Religious revelation through personal quest, dreams, and visions remains an important part of this highly charismatic belief system. Thus Lakota spirituality is not a static set of dogma and precise rituals, locked in a past that can only be duplicated. Rather, it is a dynamic belief system, respectful of and linked to past practices but highly adaptive in addressing contemporary needs. Spiritual leadership comes through the spiritual and life experiences of individuals who take up these roles for the good of the community. Their authority is affirmed by their success in prayer, their good lives, and the allegiance of others who also seek the “wakan” (holy) through their leadership. While the belief system is unified by a common set of rituals and key symbols, there is freedom for individual variation and innovation, always monitored by elder spiritual leaders and general participants.

The key metaphor for Lakota culture is kinship or relatedness. Thus the term “to pray” is also the term used to address someone as a relative. The Lakota see their relationship to their relatives, whether through blood, marriage, or adoption as a sacred responsibility. This kinship extends not just to humans but, most importantly, to the entire universe. Ritually, the Lakota re-create the sacred cosmos that is coterminous with the natural and supernatural world through marking out and praying toward the cardinal directions, the heavens and grandmother Earth (unci maka). Colored flags and the arrangement of participants in a circle make physical this cosmic map. Rituals call on “wakan” entities to help the participants in various tasks and trials. Voluntary suffering and flesh offerings are offered in exchange for this divine patronage. Lakota stress that spirituality should not be used to enhance one’s own prestige. Rather, spirituality and ritual should benefit relatives, and indeed the entire universe. One frequently hears prayers for the protection of creation, the cessation of pollution, the survival of endangered species, peace in troubled areas of the world, and harmony in the universe. Lakota will also frequently stress that all peoples pray to the same God, and, while maintaining their distinctive beliefs and rituals, also see a unity of all spiritual traditions expressed in their own spiritual hospitality. Lakota prayers are ended with “Mitakuye Oyasin,” a prayer for “all my relatives,” which includes the cosmos.

Lakota do not treat these religious aspirations as poetic spiritual expressions. Spiritual commitment must be carried out through action. They disdain outsiders who come to the reservation to engage in romantic spiritual escapism, because such outsiders are not enveloped in the Lakota kinship network sewn together by complex ceremonial and practical obligations and exchanges.

“Ecology” is a relatively recent formulation that does not appear as a social and spiritual movement in the early descriptions and transcriptions of Lakota beliefs as such. Throughout their history and especially during the period of White contact, the Lakota were certainly and acutely aware of issues now labeled as ecological. Some of the issues they faced were conservation of faunal and

floral resources, and, with the coming of Whites, new catastrophic diseases, diminution of their land base, reacquisition of resources such as water, timber and land, preservation of spiritual resources, and care for a rapidly increasing population.

The Lakota recognize that their beliefs and rituals have diffused to other native and non-native groups. In contemporary discussions of their own culture, Lakota move between the poles of universalism and particularism in dealing with the spread of their beliefs. For example, the four colors used in rituals to symbolize and mark out the four directions of the universe are also interpreted today to represent the four “races” of humanity: red, white, yellow and black. At the same time there is lively debate over how far non-Lakota and especially non-Indians should enter into the ritual life of the Lakota. Universalists argue that because the four colors are included in a sun dance or a sweatlodge or a yuwipi all people must be welcome; others hold that these “ways” were given particularly to the Lakota and can only properly be used by the Lakota. Particularists point to numerous examples of exploitation of Lakota rituals for money or individual prestige. Between the poles of exclusion and inclusion, particularist and universalist, there is a gradient: many Lakota welcome non-Indians provided they are respectful, do not try to assume leadership roles or try to control the ceremonies, and do not begin conducting the ceremonies on their own. Some Lakota will give ceremonial leadership for specific rituals to non-Indians: others maintain a total prohibition of non-Indian involvement, excluding even the observation of spiritual events. Essential for participating in Lakota ceremonies are the relationships one has developed with the praying community. When one is welcomed at a ceremony, it is because of relationships that have already been established and which all parties wish to be strengthened.

Lakota spirituality is not restricted to interaction with spiritual beings or the classic rituals so well known to the outside world: sun dance, sweatlodge, vision quest, yuwipi, keeping of the soul, making relatives, lowanpi, throwing of the ball, buffalo sing. Belief extends to medicinal practices that combine practical cures with spiritual inspiration, to hunting, and even to warfare. Interaction with family members is a sacred duty; children, the elderly, and the disabled are traditionally highly sacred personages and are to be reverently cared for. Treaties, especially the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 are considered sacred, as are certain geographical locations. The illegal confiscation of the Black Hills cannot be compensated for by the U.S. government’s offer of a monetary settlement; contemporary Lakota are to regain territory that is rightfully theirs, not because of its real-estate value but because of its spiritual meaning.

Participation in Lakota spirituality is increasing in visibility and number of participants as more and more

Lakota leave Christian denominations to return to Lakota practices or publicly combine both Lakota and Christian beliefs. The complex set of Lakota beliefs generally referred to as “traditional” stresses the connectedness of all reality and the importance of respect and generosity in dealing with a universe of relatives and relationships. At the same time, contemporary Lakota have inherited a daunting set of challenges including the traumatic legacy of nineteenth-century warfare; the loss of land and subsequent restriction to diminished reservation areas; forced assimilation and loss of language promoted by Church and state; and an increased population suffering from poverty, poor diet, new diseases, and alcoholism, with very little healthcare.

To address such challenges, Lakota spirituality incorporates not only rituals and prayer but also legal action by tribal agencies and grassroots groups dealing with sovereignty, environmental protection, forestry, water purity, and restoration of buffalo herds on reservation lands. Protests, political action, and alliances with individuals and groups who can assist them, provide an ongoing reinvigoration of Lakota spirituality and culture (elements which Lakota do not separate) on its path to wholeness. Today, the spiritual force of Lakota traditional practice combines with the pursuit of sound ecological practice to produce a sense of connectedness with and responsibility to a universe of interrelationships that should be honored and fulfilled with generosity. The goal of these interrelationships is summed up by the Lakota term Wolakota: to be in right relationship with all of creation. Through relationship the Lakota pursue a future of ecological integrity that is, at root, a spiritual endeavor to care for all relatives with generosity.

Mitauye Oyasin

Raymond A. Bucko

Further Reading

Deloria, Vine, Jr. Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact. New York: Scribner, 1995.

DeMallie, Raymond J. “Sioux until 1850.” In Raymond J. DeMallie, ed. Handbook of North American Indians: Plains Volume, vol. 13. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2001, 718–60.

DeMallie, Raymond J. “Teton.” In Raymond J DeMallie, ed. Handbook of North American Indians: Plains Volume vol. 13. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2001, 794–820.

DeMallie, Raymond J., Jr. and Douglas R. Parks, eds. Sioux Indian Religion: Tradition and Innovation. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

Ostler, Jeffrey. “ ‘They Regard Their Passing as Wakan’: Interpreting Western Sioux Explanations for the

Bison’s Decline.” Western Historical Quarterly 30:4 (1999), 475–98.

Powers, William K. Oglala Religion. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

Swagerty, William R. “History of the United States Plains Until 1850.” In Raymond DeMallie, ed. Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 13. William Sturtevant, ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2001, 256–79.

Wedel, Waldo R. and George Frison. “Environment and Subsistence.” In Raymond J. DeMallie, ed. Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 13. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2001, 44–60.

See also: Bison Restoration and Native American Traditions; Black Elk; Indigenous Environmental Network; Indra’s Net; Holy Land in Native North America; Lakota Sun Dance.

Lakota Sun Dance

Lakota people gathering for the annual Sun Dance of the Wakpamni Lake community on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota would not be likely to say the words “nature,” “environment,” or “ecology.” These words would be perceived as terms belonging to the discourse of the dominant culture, and it would be routine for traditional Lakota people to suspect that such words would be employed to extend and maintain colonizing policies toward indigenous peoples and their plant and animal relatives. While Sun Dancers at Wakpamni clearly recognize that they are participating in a ceremony once belonging to nineteenth-century ancestors who lived as prosperous buffalo hunters on the northern plains, their participation in the Wakpamni Lake Sun Dance is no nostalgia trip, no reenactment of a once-glorious past. It is an intense engagement with the present in which their ancestral relatives such as the eagle nation and buffalo nation, along with the rock people and tree people, are fully interactive with the human community gathered for this renewal of life’s fundamental relationships. These contemporary-traditional Lakota people also know implicitly that the utilitarian ethos of the dominant culture, which is founded on the paired belief in individualist subjectivity and an objectified “natural” world, represents an outlook that is decidedly antithetical to the ceremonial meaning of Sun Dance. Therefore, Sun Dancing is an act of cultural and political resistance to the aggressive force of the dominant culture in the present moment, and it represents continuity with many past moments of such resistance.

The dominant North American culture perceives Lakota Sun Dancing as so utterly “other” that it serves as a primary signifier of an indigenous difference that is both exotically fascinating and fundamentally threatening.

Both Canadian and United States governments took legal steps to suppress Sun Dancing in the late nineteenth century, and full liberty to practice Lakota Sun Dancing was not regained until after the mid-twentieth century. Sun Dance represents the clash between the colonizing (“civilizing”) interests of European-derived cultures bent on conquest of the “land” and the holistic outlook of indigenous peoples focused on keeping kinship with their plant and animal relatives. The extraordinary revival of Lakota Sun Dancing since the 1960s indicates that this conflict between two lifeways is far from over.

Suppression of the Sun Dance in the 1880s and opposition to its renewal in the 1960s centered on the practice of piercing as ethically objectionable to the dominant culture

– it was considered barbaric. Piercing is performed most commonly on the flesh of the upper chest or of the upper back of male dancers and wooden or bone skewers are inserted through the pierced flesh. Thongs at the end of a rope are attached to the skewers and the rope is connected to the central tree (when piercing the chest) or to one or more buffalo skulls (when piercing the back). To dance until the flesh gives way is understood by the dancers to be a voluntary act by which a ritual reciprocity with the spiritual powers of the universe is carried through so that life-enhancing benefit ensues for the entire kinship system of the dancers – recognizing that such a system extends eventually to the whole created order. Lakota holy men told James R. Walker in 1896 that female dancers were not pierced. “A man or a woman or a child may dance. But for women and children the dance is done differently. They are not attached to . . . the pole as men are” (Walker 1991: 181). Contemporary female dancers often participate in the reciprocity of piercing by making a “flesh offering” of very small slices of skin taken from the upper arms and ritually presented at the sacred tree in the center.

The piercing of Sun Dancers dramatizes the “otherness” of the Sun Dance, and this “otherness” both attracts outsiders who wish to appropriate an exotic ritual for their own subjective adventures, and offends those for whom religion and ethics are cultural categories of European origin and for whom praying is not a matter of dancing and piercing but of thoughts and rhetoric. The implicit parallelism between the piercing of Sun Dancers and the crucifixion of Jesus as paired instances of vicarious suffering was apparent to nineteenth-century Lakota people, but abhorrent to the culture-bearers of a European Christianity representing the leading edge of “civilizational progress.”

The ethical character of piercing derives from a traditional understanding of hunting as a ritual transaction between related “peoples.” The buffalo people give away their lives to their relatives, the hunters, and the hunters are obligated to emulate their relatives, the buffalo people, with similar acts of generosity, including the ritual reci- procities enacted in the annual Sun Dance. The voluntary flesh-and-blood sacrifice of buffalo relatives is ritually acknowledged by the voluntary flesh-and-blood sacrifice of the Sun Dancers – the wounding of the piercing is a kind of death and the release from the skewers brings regenerative power to the community. Chased-by-Bears, a leader of nineteenth-century Lakota Sun Dances, told Frances Densmore in 1911, “A man’s body is his own, and when he gives his body or his flesh he is giving the only thing which really belongs to him” (in Densmore 1992: 96). Environmental ethics might be construed to be truly compatible with an ethic of piercing that keeps kinship with all the relatives of the environing world. Nevertheless, traditional Lakota people can readily suspect that the acquisitive voice of the dominant culture with its concern about strategies to preserve its dominance may govern even environmental discourse in the form of analyses, calculations, and predictions which are subjective projections by humans regarding orders of being perceived as dependent and subordinate. Unless this voice is perceived by Sun Dancers as the language of kinship or give-away, it is not understood to be truly ethical. To become ethical it must acknowledge that plant and animal relatives have their own moral voice, and this implies an awareness of the sacredness of such kinship relations and a willing participation in the ritual acts which give embodied expression to this awareness and which sustain the interpersonal bonds of those kinship relations on a cosmic scale.

The ethics of kinship expressed in the give-away of piercing is crucially connected to the noetic dimension of visions and dreams. The classic instance of a Lakota dream-vision is related by Nicholas Black Elk to John Neihardt who published it in Black Elk Speaks in 1932. Black Elk’s “great vision” came to him at age nine in connection with an illness. His dream-vision takes the form of a shamanic journey to a sky world above the mundane world of earthly existence. Dreams and visions are generically characterized by the power of metamorphosis through which beings and elements in the visionary experience change form in dramatic and revelatory ways. Black Elk’s dream-vision is stocked with extraordinary metamorphoses. In an early episode he meets six “grandfathers” who embody the powers of the four quarters of the world along with sky above and Earth below. Each of the six instructs Black Elk, gives him gifts of power, and undergoes metamorphosis into an animal form – the sixth changing into a likeness of Black Elk himself.

In one of his dream-vision episodes, Black Elk describes how the camp of people he is leading transforms into “buffalo and elk and even fowls of the air” (in DeMallie 1984: 126). In an aside to his narrative, Black Elk explains to Neihardt that this metamorphosis means “that the Indian generations have dreams and are like unto the animals of this world. Some have visions about elks, birds, and even gophers or eagles. People will be like the animals

– take the animals’ virtues and strengths” (1984: 127). Not only Lakota persons but all humans dream, and the universality of dreaming consciousness with its characteristic signature of metamorphosis fosters the recognition that our kinship relations extend well beyond the strictly human community. Lakota Sun Dancers understand that Sun Dancing engages these kinship reciprocities and opens the door of dreaming consciousness to a psychic depth beyond the merely human.

Many traditional Lakota people are concerned about the diffusion of their Sun Dance to locations beyond their reservations, so that the ceremony is being held in contexts outside the rootedness of a specific Lakota community. Another concern is the inclusion of people whose ancestry and cultural identity is European-derived. Such persons are politely but routinely excluded from becoming Sun Dancers at the Wakpamni Lake Sun Dance, whereas persons with indigenous ancestry from other North American peoples are readily accepted into the ceremony as Sun Dancers. These distinctions point to the way Sun Dance continues to sustain Lakota identity. Despite the end of buffalo hunting by the 1880s and the federal prohibitions instituted at that time, Sun Dance was such a critical factor for Lakota survival that it was maintained clandestinely for most of a century. Today, Sun Dancers continue to dance in the real world of kinship relations and of give-away reciprocities, so that the sacred relatedness of all the powers in the world is renewed. Moreover, Sun Dancing is a way of resisting the unreality of the world of commerce, industrial pollution, commodification of plant and animal relatives, and corporate claims of responsible environmentalism. To permit persons of the dominant culture to participate as dancers in this ceremony would confuse the resistance character of Sun Dance and dilute its clarity as a cultural signifier.

Dominant-culture persons are not rejected altogether from the ceremony. At the Wakpamni Lake Sun Dance there are a number of roles that are open to male and female persons of European ancestry, including ritual roles. One of these is the handling and smoking of the sacred pipe handed out to the community from the dancers at intervals throughout the ceremony and which signifies the dancer-generated benefit being given away to the larger kinship circle. Another is the opportunity to make a “flesh offering” at the time that community members who are not dancers may offer sacrifice of themselves in the same form as with female dancers which involves small slices of skin taken from the upper arms and presented at the sacred tree in the center. In these ways, the universal scope of kinship relations expressed by the Sun Dance is ritually extended even to dominant-culture persons whose identity is potentially destructive for the kinship relations being renewed.

In an attempt to represent here the voice of Lakota Sun Dancers, it should be noted that they would, on grounds of sound historical precedent, suspect that the discourse operative in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature will more likely resemble that of the dominant culture than that of an indigenous culture. It follows from this assumption that a voice representing Sun Dance may be expected to justify in these pages its relevance to the environmental issues of said discourse. A suitable rejoinder to this expectation comes from Black Elk in another of his side comments to John Neihardt in 1931.

They [the white men] couldn’t get along with us and they did not look after us. The birds and other animals are the only race that we really get along with. We, [the] Indian race, and the beings on this Earth – the buffalo, elk, and birds in the air – they are just like relatives to us and we get along fine with them, for we get our power from them and from them we live. The white people came on this continent and put us Indians in a fence and they put another fence somewhere else and put our game into it. When the buffalo and elk are gone, the Great Spirit will look upon the whites for this and perhaps something will happen (in DeMallie 1984: 127).

Traditional Lakota people would likely conclude that the dominant culture’s addiction to a materialist trajectory featuring economic “growth” signifies a profound religious emptiness. Their prescription for this condition, following the religious and ethical logic of Sun Dance, would be a turning to new (or old) dreams and to giveaway dances in the hope of recovering kinship relations and the renewal of the world.

Dale Stover

Further Reading

DeMallie, Raymond J. The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk’s Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Densmore, Frances. Teton Sioux Music and Culture.

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

Mails, Thomas E. Sundancing at Rosebud and Pine Ridge. Sioux Falls, SD: Center for Western Studies, 1978.

Stover, Dale. “Postcolonial Sun Dancing at Wakpamni Lake.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 69:4 (2001), 817–36.

Walker, James R. Lakota Belief and Ritual. Raymond J. DeMallie and Elaine A. Jahner, eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

See also: Dance; Lakota; Black Elk; Devils Tower, Mato Tipi, or Bears Lodge; Ghost Dance; Sun Worship.

Land Institute

For more than 25 years, the Land Institute has pioneered research in sustainable agriculture, attempting to address (as their publications like to say) the problem of agriculture, as opposed to the problems in agriculture. That is to say, the Land Institute has been dedicated to the question of how to switch from an agriculture based upon extraction of the Earth’s resources to an agriculture based upon preserving those resources.

Co-founded by Wes and Dana Jackson in 1976, the Land Institute’s original research project is located on 28 acres of native Kansas prairie, near the city of Salina. Various areas of research include an internship program, a 150-acre Sunshine Farm project neighboring the Land’s headquarters, a Rural Community Studies Project at Matfield Green (120 miles southeast of Salina), the annual Prairie Festival, as well as the institute’s original and ongoing research in Natural Systems Agriculture. Recent grants in the 1990s have allowed the Land institute to become the center for a Natural Systems Agriculture project that will have worldwide reach.

Natural Systems Agriculture (NAS) looks to the “wisdom of nature” to provide clues for developing a sustainable form of agriculture. On the Kansas prairie, NAS attempts to mimic the natural polyculture of perennial grasses by cultivating plots of perennial grains that have been bred to produce seed yields comparable to monocultural annuals such as wheat and corn. This polycultural approach preserves the prairie ecosystem: it supplies its own nitrogen, eliminating the need to add petroleumbased fertilizers; it preserves moisture in the soil; it minimizesvulnerabilitytodamagecausedbyinsectsanddisease, eliminating harmful chemical controls; and it reduces soil erosion. In a word, NSA is a paradigm shift that moves away from the model of extractive economy to that of cooperation with and imitation of nature’s wisdom. As the Land’s website says (pun surely intended), “Natural Systems Agriculture would leave the ground unplowed for years and use few or no chemicals, solving many environmental problems at their root.”

The goal of the Sunshine Farm is to run a productive farm, as much as possible, on the sun’s energy. This is done by producing the energy needed to run the farm (e.g., electricity, fuel for tractors, and fertilizers), using wind, bio-diesel, and other solar energy sources on the farm itself, rather than importing energy produced by an extractive economy. One interesting dimension of this experiment is that the farm carefully monitors the amount of energy that goes into and out of the land in order to provide a truer accounting of the farm’s environmental and economic impacts.

The Rural Community Studies program is conducted at Mattfield Green, a small town in tall-grass prairie country of Chase County, Kansas. Using a refurbished elementary school, the Institute hosts meetings and conferences to explore “ecological community accounting” that monitors the extent of reliance upon an extractive economy versus reliance upon an ecologically sustainable economy. In addition, the Rural Community Studies program has also developed “place-based” curricula that are being implemented in a consortium of three school districts, involving over 180 teachers and 2000 students.

The annual Prairie Festival is a public celebration and educational outreach event that invites scientists, environmentalists, philosophers, religionists, artists, and writers, to reflect upon and celebrate the meaning of the prairie in its agricultural, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. Many visitors camp at the Land Institute for the weekend and attend lectures, workshops, performances, dances, and an evening bonfire where all are invited to “meet, visit, and make music” together.

The underlying vision of the Land Institute can be found in its mission statement, which says in part,

When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper . . . By consulting Nature as the source and measure of that membership, The Land Institute seeks to develop an agriculture that will save soil . . . while promoting a community life...

Consciously shaped by the religious ideals of people like Aldo Leopold, E.F. Schumacher, and Wendell Berry, the Land Institute’s vision is one of the mutual interrelatedness of humanity and nature that affirms the intrinsic value of the ecosystem and human responsibility to learn from, honor, and preserve that value. Significantly, the Land Institute has been a major model and inspiration for other bioregional movements and their attendant spiritualities.

Paul Custodio Bube

Further Reading

Jackson, Wes, Wendell Berry and Bruce Colman, eds. Man and the Environment; New Roots for Agriculture, Meeting the Expectations of the Land. San Francisco: Friends of the Earth, 1980.

The Land Report (published three times a year by The Land Institute).

See also: Back to the Land Movements; Berry, Wendell; Conservation Biology; Jackson, S. Wesley “Wes”; Leopold, Aldo; Restoration Ecology and Ritual; Schumacher, Ernest Friedrich.


Landscapes that reflect religious beliefs do not easily lend themselves to categorical definitions. Part of the difficulty is that the words “religion” and “landscapes” each possess a long history and many meanings. Further, there is a wide range of phenomena to which the phrase “religious landscapes” may refer. Yet, if any universal traits exist, it is that such places tend to be material and express values embedded in them by individuals and groups. Values are generally transmitted and maintained through story. Many of these stories pertain to beliefs about the nature of the universe and the human place or role within it.

The term “religion” has been and remains notoriously difficult to define. Tylor and Frazer described it as a belief system. Freud saw it as illusion, while to Durkheim it was the source of social cohesion. Otto focused on the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Here, the root of religion was understood to be “the holy,” something experienced by people through emotions of both fearful awe and reverent attraction. Geertz framed religion as a cultural system of meaning. Scholars have offered other definitions in addition to these.

A similar problem exists with “landscapes.” The word originated among Germanic peoples in medieval times or earlier, when landschaft were tracts of land primarily distinguished one from the other on the basis of kinship relations and customary law regarding land-use rights. This sense of community and connection to particular places was incorporated into paintings after the 1600s. While retaining traces of these earlier meanings, landscape generally came to refer to a picture of natural inland scenery or to the presence of such scenery in the background of a portrait or figure-painting. It was sometimes applied to intangible settings such as those of dreams or visions as well.

Religious landscapes may be comprised of natural features, built features, or a combination of the two. Some may be understood in terms of the sacred and profane, and some cannot. Some act as axis mundi, and some do not. This was a term frequently used by historian of religion Mircea Eliade to describe the idea of a center, generally conceived as a pole or line linking upper, earthly, and lower realms. Religious landscapes commonly link the local to the cosmological. They may be geographically fixed or mobile. Their scale may range from that of a country or region down to a household ritual space. Some, but not all, are the sites of contested identities. Here, in the process of struggling for dominance, groups may attempt to control the physical appearance of a specific place, including its symbolic content and meaning. And some religious landscapes, but certainly not all, express primarily religious beliefs.

Such landscapes may be comprised of natural features like rivers, groves of trees, mountains, or caves. There are Hindu conceptions of the Ganges, wooded locales important to “New Agers,” Shinto and Buddhist places associated with Mt. Fuji, and the subterranean labyrinth of paleolithic Lascaux, just to name a few. Lascaux dates from approximately 27,000 years ago, and is famous for its wall paintings depicting animals and humans apparently participating in ritualistic trance-states. Other landscapes, like those presented by temples, mosques, and churches, are fully fashioned by humans. Alternatively, natural and built elements may be interwoven, as at Stonehenge and Hua Shan, the latter of which is a mountain range in China with ancient and ongoing Daoist and Buddhist associations.

Sites may be designated as sacred in contrast to the rest of the landscape, which is considered profane. The word “sacred” derives from the Latin “sacer,” translated as meaning “to set apart.” “Profane,” also derived from Latin, refers to that which is in front of, and thus outside of a temple; due to its location beyond holy precincts, it is by definition not sacred. The ideas of Mircea Eliade play a key role here too. Drawing from work by scholars like Durkheim, he claimed that a dialectic or creative tension exists between the sacred and the profane, and that these categories of understanding and experiencing the world are common to all people. However, understandings derived from this particular cultural tradition cannot necessarily be generalized to other contexts. In most, if not all, Native American traditions prior to Euro-American contact there is no sense of sacred separate from profane; the entire world is suffused with spirit and/or permeated with spirits. A lack of division between sacred and profane exists in conceptions of Buddha-nature, the Dao, and Brahman, among others.

The overwhelming majority of religious landscapes manifest symbols of cosmological truths that are communicated through story, and many of these places serve as axis mundi. Winchester Cathedral is a geographically fixed site. Shaped like a Latin cross, its architecture is suggestive of the Trinity. It is also reminiscent of situations that unfolded upon Calvary Hill in Jerusalem – a city that serves as an axis mundi for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. One might look to the Lakota traditions for another example.

Tipis were traditionally set in circles called tipospaye, and each tipi itself was circular. The circle represented community, the cycle of seasons, the great dome of the sky, and the cycle of life. Although unlike Winchester in their mobility, each tipi and tiyospaye was similar to it in that each was homologous to an axis mundi. It is important to note here that not all religious landscapes act as axis mundi. In To Take Place (1987), Jonathan Z. Smith convincingly challenges Mircea Eliade’s assertions in this regard by undertaking a telling examination of Australian Aboriginal myths and Mesopotamian ziggurats.

All landscapes by definition, and thus all religious landscapes, present a vista or scene to the eye. Their scale may vary widely. Ancient Chinese understood the vast territory they inhabited to be sacred. Across that land were mountains, altars, and other features associated with ontological beliefs. Nested within this widespread landscape were regional landscapes, and smaller places yet were framed within those. The Imperial City of any given time period contained its landscapes of cosmological beliefs, as did towns and villages. Households, too, encompassed religious landscapes. Typically these took the form of family shrines dedicated to ancestors.

Some places testify to contested identities. The Javanese temple of Borobodur stands as a case in point. It was built by a Hindu dynasty, with a layout and symbolic content reflecting its cosmology and social structure. When Buddhists kings succeeded in taking control of the area, they transformed the temple into a wonder of Buddhist iconography. However, the original edifice was not entirely destroyed in the process. Today, elements of both religious systems remain visible, literally etched in stone.

There are religious landscapes that do not necessarily reflect embedded values about the nature of the cosmos and the human place within it. What about when secular or profane space becomes sacred, as it has at former Nazi concentration camps, at places like Gettysburg and Wounded Knee, at the Oklahoma City or New York Towers terrorism sites, or when a mountain is transformed into a sculpture of famous American presidents? These are all deemed special and set aside as sacred, but not necessarily on the basis of spiritual experiences or ideas.

Religious landscapes are highly complex phenomena. Categorical definitions are problematic, and hence must be applied with caution. Taken as a whole, however, they may be generally understood as physical sites, as expressing convictions about the nature of the universe through story, and as sites of related human activities.

Joel Geffen

Further Reading

Capps, Walter H. Religious Studies: The Making of a Discipline. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.

Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane. Willard R. Trask, tr. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1959.

Holm, Jean and John Bowker, eds. Sacred Place. Themes in Religious Studies. London: Pinter Publishers, 1994.

Olwig, Kenneth. “Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 86:4 (1996), 630–53.

Smith, J.Z. To Take Place. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.

See also: Anthropologists; Eliade, Mircea; Sacred Geography in Native North America; Sacred Mountains; Sacred Space/Place; Stonehenge; Trees – As Religious Architecture.

Law, Religion, and Native American Lands

The appropriation of North American native lands has been accomplished, as well as contested, over the last five centuries by means of complex culturally embedded assumptions concerning law, religion, and nature. While military conquest and outright theft have certainly played an important part in the loss of tribal lands, even more crucial have been the various legal and religious traditions animating the worldviews and negotiating positions of both colonizers and native peoples.

In the twentieth century, opposition to the legally secured control of native lands increased significantly. Tribal governments, individuals and intertribal groups frequently challenged the historic loss of native lands, employing strategies arising out of Congressional legislation, changes in the political climate, and their own marshalling of legal, political, cultural and economic resources. Since the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978, a variety of claims invoking the sacredness of traditional lands have been brought both to the bar and into the channels of public opinion. These challenges to the means of American territorial expansion, or to what the Court of Claims in United States v. Sioux Nation (1975) referred to as “rank and dishonorable” action on the part of the government, have achieved limited success. Nevertheless, they raise a number of ongoing issues for the federal as well as tribal governments, not to mention the constituents they represent.

America’s legal expropriation of native lands has its roots in the worldview of Renaissance Europeans. When Christopher Columbus first reached the island he called San Salvador in 1492, he was careful to display the royal standards, offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and secure witness from his first officers that he “was taking possession of this island for the King and Queen.” The efficacy of the brief ritual employed to claim the island for his Castilian sovereigns depended on two assumptions about the Christian Church’s station in the world. First, since the Church was universal in scope – there being no other means by which humans could gain salvation – Catholic thinkers such as Pope Innocent IV also claimed that the Church held a universal authority over temporal affairs. This doctrine had already served in efforts to subordinate European political power to that of the Church, and during the crusades it gave justification to the conquest of Muslim lands by Christians.

Second, since Christians had a duty to reclaim Muslim lands in order to extend the domain of the Christian religion, they also had a duty to bring the religion to those in the newly discovered regions of the world, a point that Nicholas V emphasized well before Columbus’ first voyage. In Romanus Pontifex (1455), Nicholas connected the Church’s goal of universal salvation with Portugal’s exploration of new territory along the western coast of Africa.

This we believe will more certainly come to pass, through the aid of the Lord, if we bestow suitable favors and special graces on those Catholic kings and princes, who, like athletes and intrepid champions of the Christian faith, as we know by the evidence of facts, not only restrain the savage excesses of the Saracens and of other infidels, enemies of the Christian name, but also for the defense and increase of the faith vanquish them and their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest parts unknown to us, and subject them to their own temporal dominion (in Davenport 1967: 21).

For many Christian Europeans, although conquest was not in itself a just form of war, the retaking of the holy lands from the Muslims, and the spread of the gospel, were. Thus territory to be gained through crusade would be land reincorporated into Christian civilization.

As European exploration led to the Americas, this same doctrine of the Church as the provider of universal salvation shaped articulation of the “law of discovery.” The only limiting factor, Alexander VI said in Inter Caetera (1493), on the claiming of land by one “Christian prince,” was whether the land was already in “actual temporal possession of any Christian owner” (in Davenport 1967: 62). Even such staunch opponents of Spanish lust for gold as Bartolemé de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria understood the need for the extension of the Christian message to the New World by Christian princes. Vitoria, whose views appeared posthumously in De Indis et De Iure Belli Relectiones“Lectures on the American Indians and the Justness of War” (1557) – was successful at least in countering prevailing views enough to persuade emperor Charles V that the Spanish should treat (negotiate) with Indians, rather than launch war against them upon failure to heed the requerimiento to convert to Christianity, as had been the case in the decades after Columbus’ first landfall.

Undergirding the theory of the spread of Christian political power was also a theory of human nature, evident in the thinking of Spanish and Portuguese Catholics, but perhaps even more explicit among their Protestant English rivals – who made use not only of Christian ideas but also of the Germanic land laws inherited from the AngloSaxons. On this theory, the role of humans in a sinful world is to rise above their sinful inclinations through the discipline of work. Both biblical tradition and natural law theory endorsed the human transformation of nature. Columbus took pains to describe the people of the Indies as indolent, a point that continually frustrated him in his attempts to employ Indians as laborers in the gold streams, and evidently to minimize for him the horror of native loss of life as the islands underwent their rapid depopulation.

Although the Catholic French held much of North America for two hundred years, their own colonizing strategy, or lack of it, bypassed the acquisition of native land in favor of a general claim to royal title and offers of protection for the tribes, by which they maintained their dependence on native hunters and trappers. North America’s English colonizers, however, did employ the theory of the Christian use of nature, though glossing it in decidedly non-Catholic ways.

John Locke, in his Second Treatise of Government (1689), drew on both biblical exegesis and the Germanic freehold tradition that shaped the view of private property found in English common law, explaining that land was free, held in common and without explicit title, until it had been transformed by labor. This transformation by labor gave both right to the laborer and value to labor’s results. As Locke expressed the Christian use of nature, labor also functioned as a divine mandate.

God, when he gave the world in common to all mankind, commanded man also to labor, and the penury of his condition required it of him. God and his reason commanded him to subdue the Earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something on it that was his own, his labor (Locke 1948: 17).

Thus, permanent occupancy, the transformation of natural resources into wealth through the application of systematic labor, and the individual holding of particular parcels of land, all became the normative markers of title in North America. The English accordingly saw nothing in the life-ways and subsistence economies of native tribes that gave them claim against the appropriation of land under the colonizer’s flag.

In the early years of the American republic, a mixture of laws and practices kept the process for taking native land legally uncertain. Following the Revolution, New York State treated with the Oneida and other members of the Iroquois confederacy for the acquisition of several million acres in the western half of the state. Individuals also acquired land on their own, while the Trade and Intercourse Acts (1790–1802) mandated that states and individuals could not bypass the federal government’s role in regulating trade with Indians. The discovery of gold in Georgia in the aftermath of the Redstick War (1813–1814), and the influx of white settlers onto Muskogee (Creek) land, created a social crisis in the south that spurred the development of legal doctrines having lasting effects on native land. Although the Northwest Ordinance (1787) had earlier held that “the utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians, and their lands and property shall never be taken without their consent,” the confusion of law and the public’s desire for southern land made Indian consent a malleable constraint.

On the one side, President Andrew Jackson – who defeated the Redstick Creeks in the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend, and ended Muskogee resistance to white encroachment in the southeast – championed the right of the states to deal with Indian tribes as they saw fit. Jackson also employed a heavy hand in articulating the old doctrine of the Christian use of land. In his “Second Annual Address to Congress” (1830), for instance, while explaining the rationale for removing the Choctaws from their Georgia lands, he asked

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion? (in Richardson 1901: 521).

In the hands of the populist Jackson, legitimating native lands appropriation thus became a simple exercise of common sense.

On the other side, Chief Justice John C. Marshall – often regarded as setting out an Indian doctrine antithetical to that of Jackson – played a singular role in establishing the legal mainstay of U.S. and tribal relations. Rather than championing Indian interests, however, as a strong federalist, he was most concerned to weaken the states rights position advanced by the Jacksonian Democrats.

In Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), which concerned conflicting claims to land acquired from the Piankeshaw tribe of Illinois, Marshall made clear that the English monarch’s title to native land based on the doctrine of discovery had been taken over by the United States. The idea of Christian discovery acknowledged that natives at the time of discovery were sovereign nations, but this sovereignty was limited as a claim to title, since tribes did nothing more than occupy their lands. They thus fell short of the criteria for the possession of property that Locke and other Christians deduced from the Bible and natural reason. For Marshall, falling short of title still gave Indians rights of use and occupancy, but these rights were circumscribed, since their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished, and their power to dispose of the soil at their own will, to whomsoever they pleased, was denied by the fundamental principle that discovery gave exclusive title to those who made it (in Cohen 1971: 292).

In trying to systematize the contending frameworks of law concerning Indians inherited by the United States, Marshall certainly could have reflected on the adequacy of the doctrine of discovery’s theological underpinnings. He explicitly chose to avoid this task, however, saying “It is not for the Courts of this country to question the validity of this title, or to sustain one which is incompatible with it.” Instead, if the principle has been asserted in the first instance, and afterwards sustained; if a country has been acquired and held under it; if the property of the great mass of the community originates in it, it becomes the law of the land and cannot be questioned (in Cohen 1971: 292).

As legal scholar Peter d’Ericco has commented, Marshall wound up “allowing power to justify itself” (d’Ericco 2000: 28). Marshall concludes as a legal positivist – encouraging subsequent Indian jurisprudence to rest complete with a narrow consideration of the constitutionality of government action.

In the years of national expansion the United States entered into 370 treaties with tribes, which Marshall framed in his second consideration of Indian lands as “domestic dependent nations” (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 1831). Marshall’s oxymoronic term carried important implications. The federal government was to negotiate with tribes as it did with foreign, sovereign nations, but at the same time the federal government played the superior role in determining the interests and needs of its dependents, or “wards” in Marshall’s terms.

Some 60 percent of the treaties ratified by the Senate provided for the transfer of lands. Although the superiority of Christian use slipped into the background as the explicit legal justification for these transfers, the sentiments were never really submerged among the American public, nor from the worldviews of those Americans administering the western reservations on which posttreaty Indians were confined after the Civil War. In restricting tribes to reservations, reform-minded whites had long hoped to instill Christian values, a national task Congress first undertook in the Civilization Fund Act (1819).

In the 1870s, this desire became explicit federal policy when President Ulysses S. Grant authorized the administration of western reservations by the various denominations. Virtually all Americans at the time saw the “Indian problem” as the perpetuation of Indian cultural patterns and land use incompatible with those of the larger society. One eager editorialist for the Yankton Press and Dakotan appealing to the broad public sentiment in favor of the 1874 gold rush into the Black Hills, wrote of the Lakotas:

What shall be done with these Indian dogs in our manger? They will not dig the gold, nor let others dig it . . . They are too lazy and too much like animals to cultivate the fertile soil, mine the coal, develop the salt mines, bore the petroleum wells or wash the gold. Having all these things in their hands, they prefer to live as paupers, thieves and beggars; fighting, torturing, hunting, gorging, yelling and dancing all night to the beating of old tin kettles (Jackson 1966: 8–9).

Reformers – unlike editorialists who advocated extermination or imprisonment for native tribes – believed that through education, technical training and religious indoctrination, the clash of civilizations could be ended, and the loss of life diminished. As Colonel Richard Henry Pratt – who oversaw the first post-Civil War experiments in Indian boarding schools – put it, reformers would need to “kill the Indian to save the man.” The complete intermixture of religious indoctrination with the development of agrarian and capitalist individualism common to the reformers’ aims is evident in the words of Congregational minister Lyman Abbott, who argued in 1885 at the third of the Lake Mohonk Conferences of Friends of the Indian that “The post office is a Christianizing institution; the railroad, with all its corruptions, is a Christianizing power, and will do more to teach the people punctuality than schoolmaster or preacher can” (Prucha 1978: 35).

The normative notion of the industrious, individual owner of property had its culminating impact on the loss of tribal lands in 1887, when Congress approved Massachusetts Senator Henry Dawes’s General Allotment Act. The act – which did not, initially at least, affect the lands of certain tribes, notably those of the Lakota (Sioux) on the Plains, the Cherokees and others removed to Oklahoma in the 1830s, nor the Pueblos in the Southwest – gave the president authority to subdivide treaty-designated communal lands on a fee-simple basis. Accordingly, following a 25-year agricultural apprenticeship, heads of household were entitled to 160 acres – the same size plot available to whites (following a five-year apprenticeship) under the 1862 Homestead Act – while other Indian individuals received smaller plots. The enormous surplus of tribal lands remaining after subdivision was then offered to the American public. In theory the Dawes Act would promote the productive enterprise of Indian individuals and incorporate them into the life-ways of civilized society. In practice, within a short time it led to even greater land loss and impoverishment, as land-holders were pressured to lease non-used fee-simple lands to non-Indians, a practice resulting in the checkerboard patterns of use and ownership visible on many reservations today. Before Congress abandoned the allotment system in 1934, the act diminished treaty land by 86 million acres, some 60 percent of Indian lands held in 1887.

The tribes were certainly not passive in contesting the loss of their land base, and just as the encroaching whites employed in addition to organized violence a synthesis of religious worldview and legal mechanisms in order to gain control of native land, tribes relied upon a variety of symbolic, ritual and legal strategies to cope with that encroachment. Law itself was an arena in the conflict of native and European culture, and although in some places law governing land emerged through a process of translation between tribes and colonizers – as in the pays d’en haut of the upper Great Lakes prior to the Revolution – for the most part tribes found themselves required to accept, and to function within, the imposition of European legal philosophy. The mixture of Roman, Saxon and Christian traditions was being secularized by the seventeenthcentury colonial era, and the emerging positivism conflicted greatly with tribal assumptions about law as consensus, as sacred, and as shaper of tribal identities and resource economies.

As Europeans made initial contacts with North American tribes, many engaged the colonizers with rituals of incorporation. By bringing gifts and offering hospitality, they extended to the newcomers the web of family relationships governing so many of their own tribes. Interesting to note, Columbus, who received numerous gifts from the Tainos and other islanders, consistently misrepresented these acts in his journals, often ascribing the native willingness to give to simplicity of mind, acknowledgement of a socially inferior position, or a child-like ignorance of the real value of both resources, such as gold, and the land itself.

Two crucial elements of the European and American notion of title: exclusive use and alienation through contract, proved quite foreign to the traditions of native tribes. Tribal lands were generally held in common, although members of more permanently settled Eastern or Southwestern tribes passed their cultivated fields on to individual family members – as among the Iroquois women who were the primary users of fields.

Crucial features of tribal cosmologies linked communal and individual well-being to the land. Tribes rehearsed their rightful occupation of particular territory through sacred accounts, which might depict – as with the Hopi – their ancestors’ migration or emergence from under the Earth, or their creation from pieces of the Earth by a superhuman being – such as the Anishinabeg (Ojibwa) hero Nanabozho. Once given land on which to dwell, the ancestors in these stories are also often given instruction on how to uphold social relations and how to make a living on the land, instructions that emphasize the people’s continued dependence on the benevolence of other life forms or superhuman powers. Frequently, these instructions came from ancient figures, such as the Cheyenne prophet Sweet Medicine, or Deganawidah – the Iroquois Peacemaker – who brought from the Creator the constitution establishing the Haudenosaunee confederacy.

Tribes also developed a wide variety of rituals in order to mark these relations of dependence upon the land, which established or renewed their bonds when broken by human action, the passage of time, or mysterious causes. In addition, tribal members observed elaborate systems of proscription – taboos – governing the essential activities of hunting, planting and harvesting, and ensuring that individuals would not disturb the web of agreements by which animals and plants consented to offer themselves up to meet human needs. Through traditions of myth, ritual, community identity and moral action, then, tribes were often not easily inclined to see themselves in positions to sell land or extinguish title to other human beings, but rather as dependent upon the greater-thanhuman power embodied in the land.

Treaties for land transfer were typically troubled affairs, given the coercive tactics white negotiators frequently adopted in order to acquire signatures from some segment of a tribal community, and – by the 1820s – considering the military superiority that generally backed the U.S. design upon land. Only a small faction of the Cherokees, for instance, approved the signing of The Treaty of New Echota (1835), which divested them of their lands in Georgia, and resulted in their removal west of the Mississippi.

At the same time, tribes often took steps to incorporate treaties within their understanding of the sacred obligations binding them to the land. The Haudenosuanee wampum belt marking such treaties as the first one signed at Fort Stanwix, New York (1768), extended to the British membership in the confederacy’s “covenant chain.” The widespread formalizing of treaty negotiations through the smoking of pipes, for the native participants at least, carried the promises aloft as prayers. Even contentious treaties, such as The Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek (1867) with the Kiowas and Comanches, and The Fort Laramie Treaty (1868) with the Lakotas and Arapahos, came to define particular treaty-defined territory as a crucial aspect of tribal identity.

Apart from Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), in which arguably the most successfully acculturated of the tribes failed to obtain the Marshall Supreme Court’s protection from white encroachment on treaty lands, Indians were generally unable to make good use of nineteenth-century courts to counter land loss. In addition to the cultural barriers impeding western tribal members’ mastery of legal arcana, in 1863 Congress also prohibited the Federal Court of Claims from hearing treaty-related suits. This required tribes to seek redress directly from Congress itself, which was seldom interested in reversing itself on questions of land, or in giving up its “sovereign immunity.”

Instead, tribes and factions in large numbers engaged in religious renewal to provide strategies to cope with the devastating consequences of land loss. Prophetic movements arose across the country between the Revolutionary era and the early twentieth century, inspiring political leadership and animating occasional militant campaigns. The prophetic movements, such as those of the Delaware Neolin in the 1760s, or the Shawnee Tenskwatawa in the early 1800s, were grounded in the visionary experience of individuals who had learned from sacred beings that white domination did not necessarily entail the tribes’ permanent alienation from traditional life-ways and territory. Military leaders such as Pontiac, Tecumseh, and Blackhawk, were inspired by these movements to resist encroachment, and in some cases formed broad pan-tribal alliances to stem the tide of settlers into the Ohio River valley and other contested eastern regions.

Others preached coexistence or isolation, and drew – like the Seneca prophet Handsome Lake at the beginning of the nineteenth century – on visions to help them articulate a revamping of traditional religious and cultural practices. In some cases, these movements targeted aspects of traditional culture: witchcraft, or women’s leadership; in others they focused on white influence as the source of contemporary social turmoil and loss of land. Many, as with Wovoka – the Walker Lake Paiute leader of the Ghost Dance whose teachings spread across western reservations in the 1880s – blended traditional tribal theology with aspects of Christianity. As in the dominant society, apocalyptic visions were widespread, in which worldtransforming floods or fires restore Indians and animals and sweep away the whites too numerous for Indian bullets. In some cases prophetic teachings about the erosion of land or the loss of game animals could be incorporated within traditional individual and communal understandings of ritual. Since one function of rituals related to important agricultural or hunting resources was to petition for the annual return of the resource, some religious leaders turned to ritual solutions to restore land or game lost to American expansion. In other cases, such as that of Handsome Lake, although preservation of tribal lands was key to his message and politics, it receded under the power of his apocalyptic vision, where he foresaw believers in his Gaiwiio – the “Good Word” – ascending to heaven following the destruction of the Earth.

In one of the last of these renewal movements, the Crazy Snakes, the charismatic Muskogee orator Chitto Harjo urged his militant followers to retain traditional culture and reject allotment. In addition to engaging federal troops in 1901, and the Oklahoma National Guard in 1909, Harjo’s group also undertook legislative campaigns, Washington lobbying, and succeeded in securing a U.S. Senate investigation of allotment efforts in Oklahoma, though not in halting the subdivision of Muskogee land.

The legal status of Indians, as individuals and as members of distinct political communities, changed over the course of the twentieth century in ways that affected land questions. The Supreme Court held in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903) – in which Kiowa and Comanche plaintiffs complained that allotment could not proceed without the approval of three quarters of the adult male tribal members – that Congress had always exercised “plenary authority” over Indians. This absolute power was “a political one, not subject to be controlled by the judicial arm of the Government” (in Prucha 1990: 203). Thus Congress certainly had power to make and break treaties as it determined necessary, and this exercised power confirmed that the Allotment Act’s subdivision of treaty lands was constitutional. In 1920 however, in acknowledgment of Indian service in the First World War, Congress did approve jurisdictional acts for many tribes, waiving sovereign immunity concerning treaty claims, and offering tribes some theoretical means of redress before the Court of Claims.

Contradictory impulses shaped federal Indian lands policy making during the twentieth century. One was an explicit overturning of the Christian assumptions that had led to the acquisition of native lands and the dissolution sought for native cultures. The 1934 Wheeler-Howard Indian Reorganization Act, with its roots actually in the Hoover administration, mandated the most systematic reversal in Indian policy in American history. Under John Collier – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s appointment to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs – the federal government first advanced as goals the protection of tribal lands and culture. The Indian Reorganization Act ended allotment, restored surplus tribal lands not yet sold off to the public, and allowed for the purchase of additional tribal lands. Collier, who through exposure to the Pueblos had become a forceful advocate of Indian religious liberty and the necessity of preserving traditional cultures, saw tribal lands as a key ingredient to the health of Indian societies.

The “Indian New Deal” was contested by whites and by many tribes – such as the Navajos, who refused to implement some of its provisions – and subsequently judged harshly by those who argued that it remained a form of tribal domination. Nevertheless, it set the stage for a serious revision of the conditions under which Indians had been living since their first confinement to reservations, and sparked greater effort by Indians to master the legal and political machinery used to control their land.

The second impulse animating twentieth-century Indian policy was far more consistent with historical trends than was Collier’s New Deal. In the era after World War II, first the Eisenhower and then other Republican administrations replaced Collier’s policies of cultural preservation with “termination” or “emancipation.” For tribes such as the Klamath, Menominee and Potawatami, Congress made use of its plenary power to abolish trustee/ ward relationships, dissolve tribal status and end federal responsibility for Indian people – resulting in the “urban relocation” of one quarter of the native population by the mid-1960s.

The primary means Congress offered tribes to contest acquisition of their lands reflected both trends in federal policy. Collier’s hope to address the injustice of tribal land expropriation bore fruit only following his departure, when, in 1946, President Harry S. Truman approved the creation of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) to make a final disposition of land claims. Tribes readily took the opportunity to bring their grievances forward. By the end of the commission’s original five-year mandate, all 176 federally recognized tribes and bands had filed at least one claim. By 1978, when the commission finally dissolved, it had examined nearly four hundred, and authorized restitution in over one-third of these.

While the ICC focused national attention on native land grievances, and the $818 million it awarded the tribes was a significant sum in total if not per tribe or per capita, its very purpose – to settle grievances through financial compensation – conflicted with the land-restoration goals of many tribes. Unlike the seventeenth-century Manhattans, who supposedly gave up their island for a few trinkets, tribal treaty negotiators often appreciated the value of the dollar – Cornplanter and Red Jacket, for instance, the Seneca rivals to Handsome Lake – each received cash grants and annuities as personal compensation for signing The Treaty of Big Tree in 1797. Others, like the Lakota Red Cloud, who argued to his dying days that the Black Hills were worth far more than any government official was prepared to offer him, held out for the largest sums possible for their people. Nevertheless, most Indians did not see the swap of land for money as an ideal market transaction. Many tribes took up the opportunity to file with the Commission because it was the only means available for addressing their concerns, and in hopes that it would be simply a first step toward restoration of some portion of their land base.

The case of the Western Shoshones illustrates the limitations facing tribes as they dealt with the Commission and the courts. The Western Shoshones’ Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed in 1863, was primarily a treaty of “peace and friendship,” in which the Shoshones agreed to allow the U.S. to develop telegraph and rail lines, establish outposts and engage in mining and farming on their lands – nearly 25 million acres comprising most of Nevada, and adjacent lands in Utah, Idaho and California. The treaty remains the only formal agreement worked out between the government and the Western Shoshones for the disposition of their land, yet clearly omits any provisions for limiting territory, qualifying title or establishing reservation boundaries. In spite of subsequent resource and urban development, the majority of Shoshone land remains within the public domain, since the federal government administers 87 percent of the state of Nevada’s land base.

Under advisement of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, members of the Temoak band filed the original Shoshone claim with the ICC in 1951 (Western Shoshone Identifiable Group v. US). The claim – which sought compensation for the “taking” of tribal land – remained unendorsed by most Shoshones and their tribal councils throughout its history, since they were not party to the claim, and the Temoak plaintiffs had no authority to represent other Shoshones. In 1962, the ICC ruled that although the U.S. had not signed any agreement dealing with the issue of Shoshone title, a history of “gradual encroachment of whites, settlers and others” had effectively deprived the Shoshones of any valid claim to continuing title. Accordingly, the Commission awarded the Shoshones, without interest, a figure based on an 1872 valuation of the land – a date with no significance in Shoshone history, but one that allowed the government to overlook the payment of royalties related to mining claims filed in the area under the 1872 General Mining Law.

Although the ICC lacked the necessary jurisdiction to settle questions of title, the courts have generally held subsequently that the ICC award for “taking” created the presumption that the land was actually taken. Shoshone organizers created the Western Shoshone Sacred Lands Association in 1974 in order to pursue the title question directly. In a ruling on the related case of Shoshone ranchers Mary and Carrie Dann (United States v. Dann, 1984), the federal district court held that Shoshone “aboriginal” title remained good until the final 1979 Court of Claims hearing on the ICC award. For the Supreme Court in 1985, the only issue needing adjudication was simply whether or not the Shoshones – who had refused the award – had actually been paid and the government’s obligations therefore discharged. The Kafkaesque course of the Shoshone claim through the judicial system was acknowledged by the Court of Claims itself, which noted that “if the Indians desire to avert the extinguishment of their land claims by final payment, they should go to Congress” (Temoak Band v. United States, 1979).

The procedural focus in the courts’ consideration of the Shoshone land claim – or those of most other North American tribes, for that matter – have sharply limited the extent to which tribes can expect an adequate weighing of their arguments for a just solution to the appropriation of their lands. In the case of the Dann sisters – who have, since 1973, been charged with violating the Taylor Grazing Act (by not obtaining livestock grazing permits) on land their family has made exclusive use of since “time immemorial” – the courts have been content to reemphasize the assumptions about the relation of native people to their lands contained in Marshall’s “doctrine of discovery” and the Dawes Act, assumptions dependent upon the Christian worldview for their plausibility. The high courts’ legal positivism is an interpretive mechanism that has obscured the Christian grounding of federal Indian law, without abandoning it, or bringing it into any critical juxtaposition with the worldviews of Indian plaintiffs.

Another legal front in the contest over tribal territory opened in the aftermath of the civil rights era, one focused specifically on native claims about the sacredness of land. In 1978, as the ICC ended its work, Congress passed – with little debate and by a large majority – a law that seemed to many to open the door to some form of land control for tribes, and even its potential return. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) noted the long history of religious persecution that had accompanied the U.S. policy of civilizing Indians and opening their lands, and required federal agencies to report on how they could ensure that they were not prohibiting Indians from the “free exercise” of their religion. The act specifically underscored the prominent role that land plays in native religious life; its promoted authors – like John Collier in the preceding generation – the belief that this was a role the federal government should respect as part of its trustee relationship to the tribes.

Although AIRFA’s sponsor in the House, Rep. Morris Udall, cautioned the leery that the law would have “no teeth,” many tribes and interested parties quickly filed land-related suits under the act. These cases reflected a broad range of concerns: prohibited access to ritually significant sites, resource development of sacred areas, insensitive administrative and management priorities. Some, such as the Navajo Medicine Men’s Association in Badoni v. Higginson (1980), the Eastern Cherokees in Sequoyah v. Tennessee Valley Authority (1980), and both the Navajos and Hopis in Wilson v. Block (1983), sought to constrain federal land agencies from damaging specific sacred sites; others – as with a group of Lakota and Cheyenne religious leaders in Fools Crow v. Gullet (1983) – aimed to prevent states from controlling Indian religious practitioners. Common to all these cases, Indian plaintiffs argued that fundamental features of their religious liberty were threatened by government policy.

In some cases the land concerned – administered by a state parks department, or the National Park Service – was small in scale, and the impact of protecting Indian religious practice could be weighed against the interests of other visitors to the park. Sequoyah, however, with its challenge to the TVA’s flooding of the Little Tennessee River, and Wilson – in which Navajo and Hopi medicine men were concerned about the Forest Service developing a ski resort in the San Francisco Peaks – showed that AIRFA-fueled challenges might have a significant economic impact, and raised red flags on the part of development-minded politicians and resource industry groups, especially in the western states with their large acreages of multiple-use public land.

While AIRFA aided traditional Indian religious practice in some ways, the courts in general have rejected its ability to dictate land agencies’ management of “what, after all, is the government’s land,” as Justice Sandra O’Connor concluded in Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective

Association, 1988 (489 U.S. 439, 454). In the AIRFA land cases the courts have consistently chosen to read “religion” and “religious liberty” in a very restrictive sense. In Sequoyah the court concluded that Cherokee claimants were motivated by “cultural” and not religious concerns – in spite of the fact that the Tellico dam would destroy both a burial ground, and the ceremonial center of Cherokee life – the place of their emergence in this world. Sequoyah also established the courts’ practice of narrowing sacred land claims by maintaining that government infringement on religious liberty must stem from a directly coercive intent.

In First Amendment case law the courts have historically relied on several tests to determine whether government infringes on religious liberty: whether the affected religion is genuine, whether belief is sincere, whether government action causes a burden, and whether government exercises a “compelling interest” to override religious liberty. Traditionally, the courts have found indirect infringement sufficient to rule in favor of claimants, but in AIRFA cases – and not simply in the land cases – the courts have declined to restrict government infringement, even when – as O’Connor also noted in Lyng

– it would so clearly destroy an Indian religion.

Observers have remarked that the high court holds a normative view of religion as something best exemplified by Christianity, which consistently prevents it from recognizing the legitimacy of native religious practices and understandings foreign to mainstream American culture. In Badoni, for instance, the court held that Navajo rituals performed at Rainbow Bridge were not essential to Navajo religious life because they were held infrequently, and not attended by sufficient numbers of Navajos – as though weekly church services provided the justices with their template for viewing ritual. Perhaps the most telling expression of this majoritarian bias to advocates of Indian rights was Justice Scalia’s admission in Employment Division v. Smith (1990),

It may fairly be said that leaving accommodation [of Indian religious practice] to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices not widely engaged in, but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself (494 U.S. 872, 891).

With the courts so frequently unable to aid Indians seeking control of sacred places or the return of traditional lands, tribal and pan-tribal organizations have turned to political forums. The Shoshones, the Lakotas and others have approached Congress in the last couple of decades, with little result. In the Shoshone case, although Congress could consider the transfer of public lands back to the Shoshones, it has been unwilling to do so, given concerns for precedent, for the enormous wealth which modern gold mining has extracted from tribal land, and for the vast spaces necessary for Department of Defense and Department of Energy activities in Nevada.

Likewise, following the Supreme Court ratification of the Lakota ICC award for the taking of the Black Hills (United States v. Sioux Nation, 1980) – the ICC’s largest single award – the Lakotas were also unsuccessful in generating sufficient interest on the part of Congress. Black Hills Steering Committee coordinator Gerald Clifford was able to get a bill to Congress, sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Senator Bill Bradley, in 1985 and again in 1987. For Clifford and many other Lakotas, the return of the Hills was a religious cause. “Our first priority,” he said of the committee’s work “must be to keep faith with our sacred traditions. The Lakotas were placed around the Black Hills for a purpose by God . . . and it is a moral imperative that we reject the selling of land” (Lazarus 1991: 416). Bradley also framed his support in religious terms of embracing the nation’s highest values and respecting Lakota traditions, which many had come to say accounted for their origins as a people from beneath the Hills. The bill provided for the creation of a Sioux Nation National Park on public lands as well as for compensation in addition to the ICC award of $106 million. Although the bill received the co-sponsorship of Senator Daniel Inouye, chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on Indian Affairs, Inouye said it would also need support of home state legislators in order for him to bring it to the committee, a support never provided in deference to non-Indian constituents interested in preserving the existing Forest Service multiple-use policy. Western states’ opposition to both the Shoshone and Lakota claims invoked the ironic threat of what Justice O’Connor framed as “de facto beneficial ownership of some rather spacious tracts of public property” (485 U.S. 439, 454) should Indians become able to dictate public lands policy to the larger society.

On a few occasions tribes have been successful in obtaining the return of sacred lands from the federal government, but this has generally required strong presidential endorsement of legislation, or the issuing of an executive order. President Richard Nixon, who replaced “termination” with “self-determination” as the goal of federal Indian policy in 1970 – prompted in part by Indian activists’ eighteen-month occupation of Alcatraz Island – responded to Yakama Nation appeals for the return of a portion of Mount Adams, in 1972. The Washoe, Navajo, Havasupai and Warm Springs tribes also benefited from the reversal of government policy during the Nixon era.

Most widely noted at the time, Nixon intervened on behalf of the Taos Pueblo in their long-running struggle to regain control of Blue Lake, issuing a presidential order for its return in October, 1970. The lake – from which the Taos people emerged onto this world in mythical times, and which is the site of yearly pilgrimages, had been included in the Kit Carson National Forest, created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Its return – and Nixon’s personal interest in land restoration – encouraged native grassroots activists, tribal leaders and legal advocacy groups to persevere in the use of legal and political channels in spite of the ongoing obstacles presented by the courts and Congress. Nevertheless, tribes have found presidential support as difficult to obtain as congressional. The 500 thousand acres of land actually restored in the last few decades, when measured against the 110 million lost just due to allotment, might fairly suggest that the tribes face insurmountable hurdles in resolving the issue to their satisfaction.

In the years since Nixon, one finds even fewer bright spots. Congress did approve creation of the Zuni Heaven Reservation in 1984 (Public Law 98–498). President William J. Clinton was willing to use his authority – enacting Executive Order 13007, “Indian Sacred Sites” – to protect Indian land-based religious practice, although the courts have not yet weighed in on its ability to provide injunctive relief for sacred lands or to legitimate additional land-return campaigns. In addition, Congress has passed several laws in the wake of the judicial defeats trailing the AIRFA cases, such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1994), and the National Historic Preservation Act (1996), which have offered some oblique protection, and if not land return, at least some potential of greater tribal participation in the management of sacred sites on public land.

Increasingly, though, tribes and native organizations have employed three additional strategies to promote land return, in an effort to bypass the limits of their ward-like reliance upon the federal legislative and judicial systems. First, native people have been able to marshal the post1960s shift in popular culture to build a larger public consensus around the idea of land return. The Romanticist underpinnings of the 1960s counterculture and the 1970s environmental movement – invoking the noble savage tradition of real Indians as model human beings closer to nature than their alienated, urban Indian and non-Indian counterparts – provided native activists and cultural leaders with an opportunity to address wider and more sympathetic forums than in earlier periods. This has often merely resulted in the politics of celebrity gesture – such as Marlon Brando’s refusal of his 1972 Academy Award for “The Godfather,” in solidarity with the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Nevertheless, tribes have also been able to advance their arguments through celebrity-endorsed media ventures, as in Robert Redford’s narration of the two documentaries on the Western Shoshone claim, “Broken Treaty at Battle Mountain” (1974) and “To Protect Mother Earth” (1991).

Alliances with environmental groups have also developed in the last twenty years, overcoming some of the initial resistance to native land-use issues held by groups such as the Sierra Club. The Shundahai Network, for instance, coordinated by Shoshone elder Corbin Harney, is a grassroots organization combining the energies of west coast anti-nuclear advocates with proponents of Ruby Valley treaty rights, and devoted to civil disobedience, education and advocacy efforts at federal nuclear facilities such as the proposed Yucca Mountain waste repository site located in the middle of Shoshone territory.

In southern Arizona, members of the San Carlos Apache reservation in 1989 enlisted the “Apache Survival Coalition,” a broad network of outside support, to assist them in their opposition to the Mount Graham International Observatory – sponsored by the University of Arizona, and by international research institutions such as the Vatican Observatory, the Arceti Observatory and the Max Planck Institute. Conflicting agendas, and differing perceptions of what makes Mount Graham sacred among supporting groups and within the San Carlos tribe kept this network from providing sufficient unified political pressure to cancel the project, which the Apache Survival Coalition maintained would disturb the Gaans, elemental powers of the universe residing within the mountain (Taylor 1995; Williams 1998).

A second front has emerged as tribes and pan-tribal groups have obtained international attention. Bucking Justice Marshall’s presumption in Johnson v. McIntosh that tribal sovereignty does not extend to relations with foreign powers, delegates from the Iroquois, the Lakota, Western Shoshone and other tribes have appealed directly to international law in appearances before such institutions as the European Parliament and the World Court. As part of an emerging global movement of indigenous peoples, American Indians have also appealed to the Organization of American States and the United Nations – which has provided support for the development of non-governmental organizations, such as the American Indian Movement’s International Indian Treaty Council. Appearances before the UN Commission on Human Rights have led to the publication of scathing indictments of federal Indian policies. A 2000 ruling by the OAS’s InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights finds the United States in violation of several counts of international human rights law in regard to its dealings in the Western Shoshone Dann sisters. However, the limited extent to which the United States wishes to acknowledge the authority of international bodies over its internal affairs indicates the questionable short-term utility of these efforts. Should the global indigenous movement gain increasing international support, however, the United States may prove more amenable to tribal claims – just as it had to accommodate 1950s demands for civil rights in order to present itself as a principled opponent of communist totalitarianism.

More immediate as a strategy for land restoration, though less satisfying as a measure of justice, is the willingness of tribes to make increased use of the real-estate market. Alaska tribes since the early 1970s have fashioned themselves as corporations and used money obtained through the Alaska Native Lands Settlement Act (1971) to purchase additional lands, and to develop their resources. Other tribes have also used ICC awards to purchase at current market values historically or culturally significant acreages. Eastern tribes were able to argue that the original Trade and Intercourse Acts made invalid land transfers, as the Penobscott and the Passamoquoddy did in 1980 against the state of Maine.

Nationally, the development of nonprofit land trusts has also served the aims of tribes. Organizations such as the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, The Cultural Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land have provided the nexus of capital and real-estate experience to enable tribes to recover historically significant portions of their traditional lands. The Nez Perce have purchased traditional sacred lands in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains to provide the basis for a tribally managed wildlife preserve. Other tribes, such as the Mashpee at Bufflehead Bay, are engaged in joint administration of refuge lands with state and federal authorities. In northern California the Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Area involves eleven coastal tribes, along with state conservation agencies and a land trust, in the creation of the nation’s first intertribal land reserve. While these reserves are all small in scale, they speak to the seriousness of tribal aims, and to the long-term nature of tribal goals. In the most fundamental way, they are testimony to the failure of United States policy, which hoped through the instillation of Christian values and the insertion of native individuals into the marketplace to abolish tribal links to the land.

Students of Indian law have formed conflicting evaluations of the history of tribal land loss. For some, such as Wilcomb Washburn, the legacy of this history is not, when the American story is compared with those of other colonial powers, as bleak as it may seem on first count. Resistance, opposition, and some success in the courts and legislative halls of the conqueror show that the tribes have faced a more enlightened foe than they might have done. Others, such as Felix Cohen – famous for his comment that Indians, like Jews in Nazi Germany, function as “canaries in the coal mine” of the legal order – offer a somewhat darker reading of the tradition. On both of these accounts, however, the tribes remain dependent on the good graces of those outside their communities. That land remains a significant motivating force within these communities, however, is due less to public largess or legal achievement and more to the determination of the tribes themselves to retain the animating spirit they have long found in land.

Matthew Glass

Further Reading

Brodeur, Paul. Restitution: The Land Claims of the Mashpee, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Indians of New England. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1985. Cohen, Felix. Handbook of Federal Indian Law. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971 (1942).

Columbus, Christopher. The Voyage of Christopher Columbus: Columbus’s Own Journal of Discovery, Newly Restored and Translated. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992.

Cornell, Stephen. The Return of the Native: American Indian Political Resurgence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Crum, Steven J. The Road on Which We Came: A History of the Western Shoshone. Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, 1994.

Davenport, Frances Gardiner. European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648. Gloucester, MA: 1967 (1917).

Department of the Interior. Implementation Report, Executive Order 13007 – Indian Sacred Sites. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1997. d’Errico, Peter. “John Marshall – Indian Lover?” Journal of the West 39:3 (Summer 2000), 19–30.

Deloria, Vine, Jr. and Raymond J. DeMallie Documents of American Indian Diplomacy: Treaties, Agreements and Conventions, 1775–1979. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

Deloria, Vine, Jr. and Clifford M. Lytle. American Indians, American Justice. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983.

Dowd, Gregory Evans. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745– 1815. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Dussias, Allison M. “Squaw Drudges, Farm Wives, and the Dann Sisters Last Stand: American Indian Women’s Resistance to Domestication and the Denial of Their Property Rights.” 77 North Carolina Law Review 637, 1999.

Fixico, Donald. Termination and Relocation: Federal Indian Policy, 1945–1960. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986.

Gordon-McCutchan, R.C. The Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake. Santa Fe: Red Crane, 1991.

Gulliford, Andrew. Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions. Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2000.

Hanscom, Greg. “Tribes Reclaim Stolen Lands.” High Country News, 3 August 1988.

Hargrove, Eugene C. “Anglo-American Land Use Attitudes.” In Ethics and the Environment. Donald Scherer and Tom Attig, eds. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall, 1983, 97–113.

Irwin, Lee. “Freedom, Law, and Prophecy: A Brief History of Native American Religious Resistance.” The American Indian Quarterly 21:1 (1997), 35–55.

Jackson, Donald D. Custer’s Gold: The United States Cavalry Expedition of 1874. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966.

Jacobs, Wilbur. Dispossessing the American Indian: Indians and Whites on the Colonial Frontier. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1985.

Johnson, Troy. The Occupation of Alcatraz Island. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

Jorgensen, Joseph. “Land is Cultural, So is a Commodity: The Locus of Difference among Indians, Cowboys, Sod-busters and Environmentalists.” Journal of Ethnic Studies 12:3 (1985).

Kelley, Klara Bonsack and Harris Francis. Navajo Sacred Places. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lazarus, Edward. Black Hills/White Justice: the Sioux Nation Versus the United States, 1775 to the Present. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government. J.W. Gough, ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1948.

Martin, Joel. Sacred Revolt: The Muskogee’s Struggle for a New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.

Michaelsen, Robert S. “Dirt in the Court Room: Indian Land Claims and American Property Rights.” In David Chidester and Edward Tabor Linenthal, eds. American Sacred Space. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, 43–96.

Newcomb, Steven T. “The Evidence of Christian Nationalism in Federal Indian Law: The Doctrine of Discovery, Johnson v. McIntosh, and Plenary Power.” New York University Review of Law and Social Change 20:2 (1993).

Oakes, Jill, et al., eds. Sacred Land: Aboriginal World Views, Claims and Conflicts. Winnipeg: Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, 1998.

Prucha, Francis Paul, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Prucha, Francis Paul. Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian,” 1880–1900. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978.

Richardson, James D. A Compilation of Messages and Speeches of the Presidents, 1789–1897. Volume II. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901.

Rosenthal, Harvey D. Their Day in Court: A History of the Indian Claims Commission. New York: Garland, 1990. “Sioux Nation Black Hills Act: Hearing Before the Select Committee on Indian Affairs.” United States Senate, Ninety-ninth Congress, Second Session on S. 1453,

16 July 1986. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1986.

Sutton, Imre. Irredeemable America: The Indians’ Estate and Land Claims. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1985.

Taylor, Bron. “Resacralizing Earth: Pagan Environmentalism and the Restoration of Turtle Island.” In David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal, eds. American Sacred Space. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, 97–151.

Vecsey, Christopher, ed. Handbook of American Religious Freedom. New York: Crossroad, 1991.

Vecsey, Christopher and William A. Starna, eds. Iroquois Land Claims. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1988.

Wallace, Anthony F. C. The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca. New York: Random House, 1969.

Washburn, Wilcomb E. Red Man’s Land/White Man’s Law: A Study of the Past and Present State of the American Indian. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

Wilkinson, Charles. American Indians, Time and the Law.

New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

Williams, Robert A. “Large Binocular Telescopes, Red Squirrel Pinatas and Apache Sacred Mountains: Decolonizing Environmental Law in a Multicultural World.” In Readings in American Indian Law: Recalling the Rhythm of Survival. Jo Carrillo, ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

Williams, Robert A., Jr. The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

See also: Anishnabeg Culture; Black Elk; Black Mesa; Bison Restoration and Native American Traditions; Casas, Bartolomé de las; Devils Tower, Mato Tipi, or Bears Lodge; Ghost Dance; G-O Road; Haudenosaunee Confederacy; Holy Land in Native North America; Indigenous Environmental Network; LaDuke, Winona; Lakota; Lakota Sun Dance; Manifest Destiny; Miwok People; Mother Earth; Peoyte; The Sacred and the Modern World; Sacred Geography in Native North America; Shoshone (Western North America); Spirit of Sage Council; Yakama Nation; Yuchi Culture and the Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project.

Le Guin, Ursula K. (1929–)

Ursula K. Le Guin is known primarily for her science fiction and fantasy novels, but she also has written children’s books, poetry, translation, and essays. These literary interests were formed by the intellectual and multicultural environment of her youth: her father was the famous anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber who with her mother wrote the classic ethnography, Ishii in Two Worlds (1961).

Her writings exhibit some of the standard themes of science fiction and fantasy: the heroic quest, the possibilities and problems of technology, and the potential of magic and paranormal consciousness. But her work is distinctive and significant in a variety of ways. The imaginary worlds she creates have an uncommon anthropological richness. She is more concerned with detailing social psychologies and the intricacies of culture than presenting technological marvels. Indeed, she has described her work as “social science fiction.”

But it is more accurate to call it “ecosocial” science fiction because Le Guin is a master at revealing the relationship between culture and nature. She makes clear how the specifics of the natural world shape the societies that inhabit them, although not in a simplistic, deterministic way. Similarly, the political ideologies and social values of a society are shown to be directly related to their conception of and behavior toward the Earth. Her imaginary worlds exhibit a wide range of connections between nature and culture, and frequently her novels present two or more cultures in conflict over their relationship with nature. The reader thus comes to recognize various possibilities for healthy and destructive correlations between nature and culture.

The result has been numerous incisive critiques of contemporary social structures and their ideologies of nature. The most explicit critique is found in The Word for the World is Forest, written in response to the Vietnam War. In it, an aggressive and ultimately self-destructive Captain Davidson attempts to exploit an Eden-like setting populated by smaller native humans that live in harmony with nature.

In her view of nature and culture, Le Guin has been deeply influenced by Daoism. References to the Daodejing (Tao te ching) and the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) are used to illustrate her view of natural harmony, her anarchist political philosophy, and themes such as dream and unreality. In City of Illusions, which takes place in future North America, the “Old Canon” that helps guide the protagonist is the Daodejing. There is also a “New Canon,” Thoreau’s Walden, and people who follow the teachings of the two canons are called “Thurro-dowists.”

Feminism has been increasingly important to Le Guin’s thought. She has been fascinated by the complexities of gender, most famously in The Left Hand of Darkness. In that work, the Gethenian people are neuter until they undergo “kemmer” (estrus), at which time they may become either male or female. Since then Le Guin has become more deeply and outspokenly feminist, seen especially in Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences and her collection of essays Dancing at the Edge of the World.

Feminism has influenced Le Guin’s concern with the issue of the “Other.” Her work celebrates diversity in both nature and culture while at the same time recognizing continuity within “the community of all life.” Both a sense of absolute otherness and the denial of difference lead to destruction. Instead she affirms both difference and connection – among humans and between humans and nature. This is seen, for instance, in “Buffalo Gals,” in which Myra, a girl, is adopted by the First People (animals, particularly Coyote). She ultimately takes on a double personality in which both her human identity and her “animal” identity are retained.

This concern with otherness is tied to her “ethic of communication.” Communication with others, including those in the natural world, is possible and necessary. In particular, we need to overcome our “deafness” to those who have been given no voice, including women, children, so-called primitive people, and the wilderness (see “Women/Wilderness” in Dancing and the introduction to Buffalo Gals).

Her pacifist, anarchist social philosophy is found in a number of works. Always Coming Home, set in the future in California, is a pseudo-anthropological presentation of the Kesh, a simple, egalitarian society living in relative harmony with nature. In The Eye of the Heron, the People of Peace organize their society along explicitly Quaker principles. Le Guin has described her utopian views as yin compared to the yang of Western civilization (“A NonEuclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be,” in Dancing). Such a utopia is based on a sense of communal identity rather than rational structure. Neither static nor progressing toward some end, it manifests organic and unpredictable process. It arises not from power centers but from margins. Imperfect, it is full of potential. As the subtitle of The Dispossessed makes plain, it is an “ambiguous” utopia.

Her Daoist, ecofeminist, and anarchist views are ultimately rooted in a vision of nature as deeply interrelated. Coyote, perhaps, captures this best in Buffalo Gals, where she sings “one of the endless tuneless songs that wove the roots of trees and bushes and ferns and grass in the web that held the stream in the streambed and the rock in the rock’s place and the Earth together” (Le Guin 1987: 56).

David Landis Barnhill

Further Reading

Armbruster, Karla. “Blurring Boundaries in Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight’: A Poststructuralist Approach to Ecofeminist Criticism.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 3:1 (1996), 17–46.

Le Guin, Ursula K. Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places. New York: Grove Press, 1989.

Le Guin, Ursula K. Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Pres- ences. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1987.

Le Guin, Ursula K. Always Coming Home. New York: Harper, 1985.

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Eye of the Heron. New York: Harper

& Row, 1978.

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Word for the World is Forest. New York: Berkley, 1976.

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York: Ace Books, 1969.

Walker, Charlotte Zoe. “Ursula K. Le Guin.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, 2003.

See also: Anarchism; Bioregionalism; Daoism; Ecofeminism; Snyder, Gary; Trickster.

Leary, Timothy (1920–1996)

Timothy Leary is most famous for his promotion of the “nature religion” interpretation of psychedelic experiences. After earning a doctorate in psychology (UC Berkeley, 1950) and authoring a highly innovative and influential theoretical system (Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, 1957), Leary was appointed Lecturer at Harvard in 1959. Ambitious, idealistic, eager for an intellectual revolution, the brilliant young psychologist found his calling while summering in Mexico in 1960, when he ingested psilocybin mushrooms and underwent the first of his several hundred psychedelic voyages. Leary’s intellectual contributions were obscured by the social tumult that ensued, including Harvard’s controversial firing of Leary and his collaborator Richard Alpert in 1963, their subsequent campaign to “turn on” the world, arrests and legal battles, a dramatic escape from prison, exile abroad, and recapture, to name just some.

In brief, Leary believed that psychedelic drugs bring into consciousness neurological information that is ordinarily filtered from awareness. This information, encompassing all levels of structural organization within the nervous system (sensory, cellular, molecular, atomic), has existed for thousands, millions, even billions of years and retains an historical record that can reach awareness during psychedelic experience. For example, Leary proclaimed that on LSD one could experientially recapitulate biological evolution (encoded in neural DNA) back to life’s origin, and physical evolution (encoded in neural atoms) back to the Big Bang. Thus, psychedelic users could experience subjectively the same phenomena that scientists study objectively.

Leary contended that mystics who lived in prescientific times interpreted such experiences with nonscientific concepts. In a manner later popularized and developed by Fritjof Capra and others, Leary proclaimed that religious mysticism and scientific method often arrived at identical conclusions – with mystics using the language of supernaturalism. For example, whereas mystics interpreted past-life recall as reincarnation, Leary explained this as recollection of one’s evolutionary past archived in DNA. (Leary himself actually charted a family tree based upon LSD-induced past-life experiences.)

Resisting the temptation “to impose old models, premature theories,” Leary endeavored to modernize such models with the language of science. In this spirit, he “translated” the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Tao Te Ching using the naturalistic concepts of science. His 1966 psychedelic version of the Tao, for example, included such poems as “The Serpent Coil of DNA” and “Prehistoric Origins of DNA,” and others paying homage to experiences of atomic energy and the sense organs.

When psychedelic drug use exploded into a mass phenomenon around 1964, it became clear that the drugs would soon be outlawed. Preparing a legal challenge to protect psychedelic drug use under the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, Leary deliberately embraced the supernaturalistic language that previously he had resisted. Setting the stage for a legal showdown, Leary founded a religious organization (League for Spiritual Discovery), produced public “religious celebrations” in which he ceremoniously enacted the roles of Jesus and the Buddha, and wrote books and essays brazenly trumpeting supernaturalism.

Ironically, although Leary’s promotion of supernaturalism failed to persuade the jurors for whom it was intended

– his legal strategy, used to defend himself against marihuana charges, failed in 1966 and, on appeal, in 1967 – it did persuade legions of impressionable young seekers to imbibe the sacrament and interpret their experiences with the language, if not the concepts, of supernaturalism. Ultimately, Leary’s charismatic influence further enshrined psychedelic experience in the mysticism, occultism, and anti-scientific primitivism from which he had initially labored to wrest it.

Having failed to win legal protection on grounds of religious freedom, and disappointed at what he regarded as the anti-intellectual supernaturalism promoted partly by his own rhetoric, Leary upon release from prison in 1976 pointedly abandoned supernatural rhetoric and struck an almost confrontational scientism in his return to the public eye. Ever the prolific author, lecturer, and media celebrity, Leary helped popularize life extension, space colonization, and the computer revolution in his championing of his new calling, Science.

Although Leary never promoted activism to protect the natural environment, he blamed urban-industrialism not only for aesthetic and environmental pollution but also for alienating city-dwellers from the “cellular wisdom” he believed psychedelics revealed. Consistent with his style of addressing problems with elements of both avoidance

(passive) and approach (active), Leary’s favored remedy involved the theme of exodus. At the height of his influence in the mid-1960s, for example, Leary’s new religion counseled initiates to “drop out” of urban-industrial culture, adjoin as tribal colonies in intentional rural communities, supporting themselves through handicraft. The drop-outs would thus occupy a social-environmental niche left vacant by “Man’s lemming-like rush to the cities” and “the insane society of adults around you rushing to enslave itself to machines.” With his colleagues and friends, Leary attempted to establish colonies in Millbrook, New York, in Zijuatanejo, Mexico, and in several Caribbean island nations, but each project, opposed by government or imploding onto itself, was short-lived. (Upon release from prison in 1976, Leary transmuted the exodus theme in championing the cause of space migration, which involved leaving Earth to inhabit colonies in outer space.)

How history will judge Timothy Leary remains yet to be determined. In life, he often was condemned by conservatives as an irresponsible Pied Piper emblematic of all that was threatening about the cultural changes of the 1960s, dismissed by political leftists as unserious and irrelevant to their cause of Socialist Revolution, and even distrusted by many in the otherwise sympathetic counterculture who suspected that his flamboyance and media savvy signified insincerity, attention-seeking, or snake-oil salesmanship. But the cultural changes of “The Sixties” have largely been assimilated, making Leary’s “radicalism” seem relatively mild by contemporary standards; with the fall of the Soviet Union and the left’s increased recognition of the practical challenges of maintaining a socialist cure that is clearly better than the capitalist ills for which it is prescribed, the leftist movements that promised imminent Revolution in the 1960s seem unserious and irrelevant themselves; and the personal demeanor that aroused excessive veneration in some and excessive doubt in others in the counterculture will exert diminishing impact, biasing posthumous judges less strongly than it biased Leary’s contemporaries and thus allowing his ideas to receive a fairer trial in the future.

Joseph Kasof

Further Reading

Horowitz, Michael, Karen Walls and Billy Smith. An Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1988.

Leary, Timothy. Flashbacks: An Autobiography. Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1983.

Leary, Timothy. The Politics of Ecstasy. New York: Putnam, 1968.

Leary, Timothy. Psychedelic Prayers after the Tao te Ching.

Kerhonkson, NY: Poets Press, 1966.

Leary, Timothy, R. Metzner and R. Alpert. The Psychedelic

Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. New York: Citadel Press, 1964.

See also: Ayahuasca; Beat Generation Writers; Entheogens; Ethnobotany; Huxley, Aldous; New Age; Perennial Philosophy; Peyote.

Left Biocentrism

Left biocentrism or left ecocentrism (the two terms are used interchangeably), is a theoretical tendency which has been unfolding within the deep ecology movement since the mid-1980s. It has been called “the left wing” of the deep ecology movement. Left biocentrists (left bios) support the eight-point Deep Ecology Platform drawn up by Arne Naess and George Sessions. They see this Platform as a key component of the existing deep ecology movement, which should therefore not be subject to unilateral changes by any individual deep ecologist. Necessary changes to the Platform, so that it can evolve, must be sorted out collectively within the movement. Left bios see their work as endeavoring to strengthen the deep ecology movement. “Left” as used by left biocentrists, means anticapitalist and anti-industrialist, but not necessarily socialist. Industrialism is seen as having a capitalist or a socialist face. The future economic and political organization of an ecocentric society is seen as a subject of necessary and ongoing discussions.

Many left biocentrists (myself included) came to this perspective from a left-wing background. As we became aware of deep ecology we saw the importance of moving beyond the human-centered values (anthropocentrism) of the anarchist, social democratic, communist, and socialist traditions, and became aware of the need to put the Earth first. This meant to identify and express solidarity with all life. Some within this group of people had been working on a broadly defined “left” deep ecology path, but were using different names to describe it (e.g., “deep green theory” (Richard Sylvan), “radical ecocentrism” (Andrew McLaughlin), “revolutionary ecology” (Judi Bari), “green fundamentalism” (Rudolf Bahro), “revolutionary ecocentrism” (Ken Wu), etc.). All these left deep ecology supporters, and others not mentioned, would believe that although deep ecology pointed us in the needed new philosophical direction, it had yet to evolve a practical political program in opposition to industrial capitalism.

Others drawn to left biocentrism were responding to the theoretical and practical work done in its name, or were drawn to it because they opposed the “accommodating” stance of much deep ecology toward industrial capitalism. The influence of the internet has been important, not only for the dissemination and exchange of writings, but also for making possible a “left bio” discussion group, which in 1998 collectively produced a ten-point Left Biocentrism Primer. The Primer provides a starting point for left biocentrism, but it is also a work in progress, like that of deep ecology itself.

Left bios believe that the Earth belongs to no one and should be a non-privatized Commons. They call for a global redistribution of wealth, oppose economic growth and consumerism, and practice voluntary simplicity. There is a bioregional not a global focus. Social ecology, eco-Marxism, and ecofeminism have important insights, left bios believe, but are nevertheless seen as unduly human-centered in orientation.

To facilitate collaboration left bios distinguish between “primary” and “secondary” contradictions. The primary contradiction resides in anthropocentric industrial capitalist society. Secondary contradictions over other issues, such as vegetarianism, remain but are accepted so that people can unite and focus on the primary contradiction.

Spirituality is also critical in left biocentrism. Point six of the Primer states:

Left biocentrism holds that individual and collective spiritual transformation is important to bring about major social change, and to break with industrial society. We need inward transformation, so that the interests of all species override the short-term self-interest of the individual, the family, the community, and the nation.

Left biocentrists believe that, in order to try and turn around the ecological “Armageddon” and to prevent the coming social disaster, a profound transformation is required in our relationship to the Earth. This will include resacralizing nature so that people come to see the Earth as alive and part of themselves. A future Earth-centered society will need to be organized around an ecocentric morality that has an essential spiritual or sacred dimension and is not based on economics.

The discussions among left biocentrists about what it means to advocate the resacralization of nature are ongoing and contentious. Some left bios, including myself, have been influenced by atheism or the Marxist tradition that sees organized religion as an “opiate,” while other left bios have some kind of relationship to various institutional religions. Left bios usually draw a distinction between “institutional religion” and “spirituality.” Resacralizing the Earth is seen as a concern with spirituality, not with establishing some new institutional religion.

Left biocentrism is interested in what should be our relationship to the spiritualities of Aboriginal cultures, in particular animism. The basic idea that the Earth is alive, and that plants and animals have their own intrinsic spirits and values, has in the past acted as a restraint on human exploitation. However, animism, which sustained hunter/gatherer societies over thousands of years, was still ultimately human-centered, perhaps a form of “deep stewardship,” and this did not prevent the now documented extinctions of fauna in the Americas, Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Deep ecology, which is not human-centered, must build on but go beyond an animistic “seventh generation” consciousness to resacralize all species on Earth.

Millions of people around the world use religion as their ethical guide. These religions help shape how people interact with the natural world through different cultures, and the place of humankind within these cultures. Religions differ in this regard and an important part of any deeper ecological work is endeavoring to understand this, so as ecologically to engage with existing religions. There are ongoing discussions on the differences between, as well as within, the Abrahamic and the Vedic religions in regard to ecological consciousness. Within deep ecology, for example, a number of writers have been influenced by Buddhism. The concern with self-realization in deep ecology seems analogous to the Buddhist sense of the interconnected self with the universe. E.F. Schumacher, himself a Catholic, outlined in the early 1970s in his book Small is Beautiful what he called a “Buddhist economics,” seeking to move societies away from capitalist consumerism as a false identity basis, to an identity based on the cultivation of personal inner growth. The theoretical tendency of institutional religions is a concern for left biocentrism and has come more to the foreground with the prominence of a variety of religious fundamentalisms (e.g., Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu) that seem lacking in any ecological awareness. Religious fundamentalists want to resacralize human societies, not the natural world. In order for industrial capitalism to commodify the Earth, Earth-based spirituality had to be undermined. Left biocentrists believe that addressing this is a crucial part of any engaged green politics in the twenty-first century.

David Orton

Further Reading

Bahro, Rudolf. Avoiding Social & Ecological Disaster: The Politics of World Transformation. Bath, UK: Gateway Books, 1994.

McLaughlin, Andrew. Regarding Nature: Industrialism and Deep Ecology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Naess, Arne. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle.

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Sylvan, Richard and David Bennett. The Greening of Ethics: From Human Chauvinism to Deep-Green Theory. Cambridge, UK: The Whitehorse Press; Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 1994.

Taylor, Bron, ed. Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995.

See also: Anarchism; Bioregionalism; Bioregionalism and the North American Bioregional Congress; Deep Ecology; Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front; Radical Environmentalism; Schumacher, E.F.; Social Ecology; Snyder, Gary. of thought, imagined in order to organize the material world. In contrast to Newton’s axiom of deterministic and reliable patterns of space and time, Leibniz thus argues for a philosophical doctrine that became prominent in twentieth century thought under the name “philosophy of life.”

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm (1646–1716)

Further Reading

Kocku von Stuckrad

Leibniz lived in a time of great revolutions. It was a time that brought about the fundamental paradigm shift related to the mechanistic theory of Isaac Newton. Leibniz, likewise, was striving for a scientific and even mechanistic model for interpreting nature, but he combined this attitude in an interesting manner with less deterministic and more organistic explanations. Because Leibniz’s system of thought is scattered in many small texts that are not sufficiently edited even today; and because Hegel had dismissed Leibniz’s philosophy as arbitrary, haphazard, and incomplete – in fact, it is often said that Hegel’s philosophy is the completion of Leibniz’s – his thoughts have long been underrated, and it is only today that his ideas are newly appreciated.

At the center of his thinking lies the so-called philosophy of monads. The term “monad,” which Leibniz most likely took from cabbalist and vitalist Franciscus Mercurius von Helmont and Giordano Bruno, reflects the non-material essence of any living creature: God, the angels and every human’s soul, the sensual ability of animals and plants, even microorganisms, are monads. Every monad is singular and different; there are no identical monads. Thus, Leibniz’s fundamental idea is not a general one like “spirit” or “matter” but the individual itself. The individual monads are the only inseparable units of life and they follow their own plans. Leibniz says, “The monads do not have windows” (Leibniz 1898: 219) which means that they cannot be influenced from outside. The monads are, in a way, spiritual entities that are capable of developing and acting. What we see in the material world is not reality but mere illusion. The monadic reality lies hidden behind the empirically sensible. But since the monad owns a body, this body is a perfect representation of the hidden entity.

No monad can be distinguished or separated from its bodily appearance; even if the body dies, the monad lives on, at least in a sleeping form. The harmonic and exact relationship between monad and body connects Leibniz’s metaphysics and his philosophy of nature. Thus, the Cartesian dualism of res cogitans and res extensa is overcome. Furthermore, the cosmos is conceptualized as a living creature, or, in Leibniz’s words, “There is nothing deserted, nothing sterile, nothing dead in the universe” (Leibniz 1898: 257).

Another of Leibniz’s conclusions is imperative: according to his theory, space and time do not exist independently of one another. Instead, they are idealized patterns

Jolley, Nicholas, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings. Robert Latta, tr., ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1898.

Rutherford, Donald. Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Savile, Anthony. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to

Leibniz and Monadology. New York: Routledge, 2000.

See also: Perennial Philosophy; Philosophy of Nature.

Leopold, Aldo (1887–1949)

In a 1947 address, “The Ecological Conscience,” conservation scientist and writer Aldo Leopold succinctly identified the dilemma facing those who understood the cultural significance of the emerging ecological worldview.

No important change in human conduct is ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphases, our loyalties, our affections, and our convictions. The proof that conservation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct lies in the fact that philosophy, ethics, and religion have not yet heard of it (in Flader and Callicott 1991: 338).

Leopold would soon thereafter incorporate the passage, in modified form, in his landmark essay, “The Land Ethic,” the capstone of his posthumously published A Sand County Almanac. “In our attempt to make conservation easy,” he would add, “we have made it trivial” (Leopold 1949: 210).

In a post-World War II world harshly awakened to the social and environmental impacts of new technologies, Leopold’s statement resonated with clarity. The conservation movement of the early twentieth century was roughly understood to be a response to destructive and inequitable resource-use practices, driven by short-sighted economics and lax (or nonexistent) governmental policies. Looking forward, Leopold identified the need to deepen that movement, to “touch the foundations of conduct.” In defining his land ethic Leopold sought to expand conservation’s scope, and so preclude its marginalization. For Leopold, conservation entailed more than just smarter resource management. It posed a fundamental challenge. It sought a closer “harmony” between people and nature, informed by science, woven into culture, inspired by ethics and spiritual insight. In the very act of compiling “The Land Ethic,” Leopold defined this challenge and broadened the conversation about the ethics of the human–nature relationship.

In the decades after its publication, “The Land Ethic” became a core text and starting point for those concerned with the ethical and spiritual dimensions of conservation and environmentalism. There is irony in the fact. Aldo Leopold was not a philosopher or theologian, and well appreciated his own limitations in posing such essential questions. Trained as a forester, founder of the then-new field of wildlife management, an innovative thinker in land management and conservation planning, Leopold only occasionally ventured into the higher conceptual realms of his work. When he did, however, he brought to the task his vast field experience, scientific understanding, extensive reading, abiding interest in history, and strong personal commitment to land stewardship. Reticent on matters of the spirit, his life work as a conservationist and teacher nonetheless led him to the ultimate expression of “The Land Ethic.”

In his extensive published and unpublished corpus, Leopold rarely alluded to his personal religious beliefs. He grew up in Burlington, Iowa, in an ostensibly Lutheran family of German descent, but he was not a churchgoer. His wife, Estella, whom he met while working as a young forester in the American Southwest, was a devout Catholic, but the Church played a minor role in their married life and the lives of their children. How is it, then, that one of the key progenitors of environmental ethics came to develop such acute sensitivity to the moral aspects of conservation?

The biographer can only connect scattered dots: Leopold as a boy hunter along the Mississippi River in the 1890s, absorbing lessons of responsibility and respect for game from his father Carl (whom Leopold later memorialized as “a pioneer in sportsmanship”); Leopold as a student, struck by the statement of a Native American speaker, that “Nature is the gate to the Great Mystery” (“The words are simple enough, but the meaning unfathomable”) (Meine 1988: 35); Leopold as a young forester, watching the “green fire” dying in the eyes of a mother wolf that he and his colleagues had just shot, and sensing “something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain” (Leopold 1949: 130).

Late in Leopold’s life, his youngest daughter asked him directly about his belief in God.

He replied that he believed there was a mystical supreme power that guided the universe, but this power was not a personalized God. It was more akin to the laws of nature. He thought organized religion was all right for many people, but he did not partake of it himself, having left that behind him a long time ago (in Meine 1988: 506–7).

His son corroborated this view. “I think he . . . was kind of pantheistic. The organization of the universe was enough to take the place of God, if you like . . . The wonders of nature were, of course, objects of admiration and satisfaction to him” (in Meine 1988: 506–7).

Perhaps the closest Leopold came in print to describing his own spiritual stance came in an early essay, “Goose Music.” He asked, “What value has wildlife from the standpoint of morals and religion?” His answer referred obliquely to a boy . . . who was brought up an atheist, [but who] changed his mind when he saw that there were a hundred-odd species of warblers, each bedecked like the rainbow, and each performing yearly sundry thousands of miles of migration about which scientists wrote wisely but did not understand. No “fortuitous concourse of elements” working blindly through any number of millions of years could quite account for why warblers are so beautiful. No mechanistic theory, even bolstered by mutations, has ever quite answered for the colors of the cerulean warbler, or the vespers of the woodthrush, or the swansong, or – goose music. I dare say this boy’s convictions would be harder to shake than those of many inductive theologians (Leopold 1953: 171).

Leopold did not identify himself as “this boy”; he did not have to.

Although such expressions surfaced only occasionally in Leopold’s writing, this abiding regard for the beauty, diversity, and healthy functioning of the natural world suffused his work as a resource manager, scientist, writer, and teacher over a forty-year professional career. As a product of the Progressive Era conservation movement, he caught the spirit of the times – the connecting of ethics and governmental policy though political reform, the respect for the role of science in the management of resources, the blending of social responsibility and personal commitment. As he advanced in the new U.S. Forest Service, Leopold had his youthful idealism tested and tempered. But he also found that work to be a rich source of insight, along with his broad-ranging literary interests.

By the mid-1920s, Leopold was working out his first extensive considerations of conservation philosophy. He was influenced in particular during these years by the Russian philosopher Pyotr Ouspensky, whose book Tertium Organum Leopold specifically drew upon in framing his own emerging ecological worldview. Ouspensky’s near- vitalist notion of a living Earth (“ ‘Anything indivisible is a living being,’ says Ouspensky”) (Ouspensky 1920: 201) dovetailed well with Leopold’s field-based appreciation of the complex interrelations of the landscape of the American Southwest. Fusing Ouspensky’s holism with insights from his own ecological research, Leopold gave expression to his latent biocentrism:

Possibly, in our intuitive perceptions, which may be truer than our science and less impeded by words than our philosophies, we realize the indivisibility of the Earth – its soil, mountains, rivers, forests, climate, plants, and animals, and respect it collectively not only as a useful servant but as a living being, vastly less alive than ourselves in degree, but vastly greater than ourselves in time and space – a being that was old when the morning stars sang together, and when the last of us has been gathered unto his fathers, will still be young (in Flader and Callicott 1991: 95).

Leopold delivered these thoughts in a 1923 manuscript entitled “Some Fundamentals of Conservation in the Southwest.” Over the next 25 years he would return to the broader dimensions of conservation philosophy, intermittently but steadily, in a series of published and unpublished essays and addresses. Their titles provide a sense of the progression and extension of his thoughts in these years: “The Conservation Ethic” (1933), “Conservation Economics” (1934), “Land Pathology” (1935), “Engineering and Conservation” (1938), “Conservation Esthetic” (1938), “A Biotic View of Land” (1939), “Ecology and Politics” (1941), “Conservation: In Whole or In Part” (1944), “The Ecological Conscience” (1947). Weaving and reweaving themes involving the interrelated social, economic, political, and cultural aspects of conservation, and demonstrating the practical limits of the dominant utilitarian and anthropocentric approach to conservation, these writings were points along the way toward the synthesis of “The Land Ethic.” In these writings, Leopold rarely alluded directly to the religious “foundations of conduct.” Only with that final synthesis did he expressly issue his challenge to philosophers and theologians to join the effort.

Even as he was defining and testing his conservation philosophy, Leopold was putting it into practice as a scientist, teacher, policy-maker, and practitioner. Over the last twenty years of his life, he made basic contributions in a number of applied conservation fields. He brought ecological perspectives into the established fields of forestry, agriculture, range management, and soil conservation. He was the preeminent leader in the then-new field of wildlife management. He laid important foundations for the future practice of ecological restoration in both his professional work at the University of Wisconsin and in his personal commitment on his “sand county” farm. Of the latter he wrote:

On this sand farm in Wisconsin, first worn out and then abandoned by our bigger-and-better society, we try to rebuild, with shovel and axe, what we are losing elsewhere. It is here that we seek – and still find – our meat from God (Leopold 1949: viii).

Following publication of “The Ecological Conscience,” Leopold received a response to the essay from an academic colleague, Max Otto, a prominent Unitarian thinker with whom Leopold was acquainted in Madison, Wisconsin, where both lived. Otto’s remarks spoke well for a new generation of leaders, from varied faiths, beginning to focus on the same post-war dilemmas that Leopold identified in his essay.

I value . . . a quality in your paper which I can only call spiritual. You have a philosophy of wildlife management which is itself a philosophy of life . . . I’m sure that your argument is sound, and I wish religious people – church people, I mean – could see it to be part of religion to enlist in your cause. I’m afraid most of them do not see life in these terms (in Meine 1988: 500).

In the decades that followed Leopold’s death in 1948, more and more “religious people” would come to see “life in these terms” and would enlist in the cause of promoting closer harmony between people and the larger community of life. Into this conversation, Leopold injected insights from the revolutionary new science of ecology, while pointing out in clear terms the essential role that philosophy and ethics had to assume. With the publication of “The Land Ethic” in A Sand County Almanac, Leopold provided a bulwark against the trivialization of conservation.

Curt Meine

Further Reading

Callicott, J. Baird. In Defense of the Land Ethic. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1989.

Flader, Susan and J. Baird Callicott, eds. The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays by Aldo Leopold. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

Leopold, Aldo. Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. New York: Oxford University Press, 1949.

Meine, Curt. Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Ouspensky, Pyotr. Tertium Organum: The Third Canon of Thought, a Key to the Enigmas of the World. Nicholas Bessaraboff and Claude Bragdon, trs. Rochester, NY: Manas Press, 1920.

See also: Biocentric Religion – A Call for; Callicott, Baird; Conservation Biology; Darwin, Charles; Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front; Environmental Ethics; Gaia; Marshall, Robert; Natural History as Natural Religion; Ouspensky, Pyotr Demianovich; Pantheism; Radical Environmentalism; Restoration Ecology and Ritual; Watson, Paul – and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society; Wilderness Society.

Levertov, Denise (1923–1997)

Denise Levertov’s lifelong concern with the experience of mystery began in childhood. Educated at home, Denise, and her older sister Olga, came of age in an eclectic religious atmosphere. Her father, a Hassidic Jew from Russia, converted to Christianity and immigrated to England to become a priest in the Anglican church. Her mother, raised a Welsh Congregationalist, descended from the Welsh tailor and mystic Angel Jones of Mold.

In 1948, Levertov immigrated to the United States and became a distinctive voice in the tradition of American poetry during the second half of the twentieth century. In the late 1960s, Levertov’s active participation in the anti-war movement led to poetry explicitly engaged with the collective awareness of the war in Vietnam. In the 1970s, Levertov struggled to balance the drama of public injustice with an emerging interest in the affinities between her religious and ecological concerns.

Asked what the term “religious” meant to her (in a 1971 interview with William Packard) Levertov pointed to a sense of awe: “The felt presence of some mysterious force, whether it be what one calls beauty, or perhaps just the sense of the unknown” (in Wagner 1990: 19). During the 1980s, in a phase of her career devoted to a meticulous and sophisticated development of organic form, Levertov refigures this force in terms of the elusive but persistent mystery of the Christian Incarnation.

In the final books of poems – Evening Train (1992), Sands from the Well (1996) and the posthumous This Great Unknown: Last Poems (1999) – Levertov’s celebration of the nonhuman world is inextricable from the intensity of her religious faith. As she insists in one of her essays from this period, “to witness nature is not simply to observe, to regard, but to do these things in the presence of a god” (Levertov 1992: 249). Levertov works toward a “conscious attentiveness to the non-human” as well as to “a more or less conscious desire to immerse the self in that larger whole” (Levertov 1992: 6). Eschewing the American impulse to recreate the self by returning to its primal source in nature – a position that, for Levertov, reinforces an inward, individualistic, and exclusive ethos – Levertov seeks mystical surrender. With art understood as an ongoing affirmation of faith in the unknown, Levertov suggests that the creative act of poetry affirms the possibility of living with the natural world.

Mark C. Long

Further Reading

Gelpi, Albert, ed. Denise Levertov: Selected Criticism. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993.

Levertov, Denise. The Stream & the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes. New York: New Directions, 1997.

Levertov, Denise. The Life Around Us: Selected Poems on Nature. New York: New Directions, 1997.

Levertov, Denise. New & Selected Essays. New York: New Directions, 1992.

Sakelliou-Schulz, Liana. Denise Levertov: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1989.

Wagner, Linda Welshimer. Critical Essays on Denise Levertov. Boston: Twayne, 1990.

Wagner, Linda Welshimer. Denise Levertov: In Her Own Province. New York: New Directions, 1979.

Wagner, Linda Welshimer. Denise Levertov. New York: Twayne, 1967.

See also: Christianity (6c4) – Anglicanism; Memoir and Nature Writing; Wonder toward Nature.

Lilburn, Tim (1950–)

Tim Lilburn is a Canadian poet, essayist, and teacher of philosophy. Born into a Protestant working-class family in Regina, Saskatchewan, he was profoundly affected in his early twenties by the anonymous Middle English book of mysticism The Cloud of Unknowing and other classics of “negative contemplation.” He taught in Nigeria, worked for social-action projects, and became a Jesuit. In the late 1980s he left the Jesuit order, distancing himself from Catholicism but continuing to adapt ideas and terminology from its contemplative texts. He worked as a farm laborer for three years, and later became a teacher of philosophy and literature at St. Peter’s College in Saskatchewan.

Colorful, buoyant, wide-ranging from the vernacular and the hyperbolic to the lyrical and the elegiac, the poems in Lilburn’s three earlier collections show influences as diverse as Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Beats. In his next three collections, Moosewood Sandhills (1994), To the River (1999), and Kill-site (2003), his exploration of human struggles to interact with the natural world moves into the foreground. As dramatized in Moosewood

Sandhills, Lilburn spent two years living on the land, where he dug a root garden, slept in coyote dens and deer beds, wandered and watched. Themes of this book and his two subsequent collections have been elaborated upon in Lilburn’s collection of essays, Living in the World as If It Were Home (1999).

A key to Lilburn’s writing is a conviction that infinitude has wrongly been seen as belonging to divinity alone; for him a single blade of grass is also beyond comprehension, infinitely compliciated. Moreover, our longing for the “stupendous manyness” and “apparently limitless play” of nature is analogous to our longing for divinity. “The eros for the world, I believe,” Lilburn has written, “unfolds in the same way as dialectic and the eros for God have been understood to unfold” (Lilburn 1999: ix). Lilburn sees naming as an inevitable part of an erotic longing for the world, but also as something to be doubted, truncated, and deemed incomplete, before it resumes. Steeped in the thought of Plato, the Desert Fathers, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus, Lilburn has adopted a vocabulary from such sources (ascesis, apophasis, penthos), but he also often employs phrases such as “unspeakable otherness,” “intentionless idiosyncrasy,” “astounding particularity,” “fretful proximity,” “muted, protean regard,” “carefully attentive befuddlement,” “insistent and adoring incomprehension.” His poems and his essays are unique in their blend of fecund natural detail and radically adapted contemplative language. While their focus is not on particular environmental issues, they are fueled by a strong questioning of dangerous assumptions about human power and knowledge, and by an underlying advocacy of our need to move beyond centuries of errorfraught interactions with nature. “Looking with care and desire,” Lilburn says in a note to Moosewood Sandhills, “seemed a political act” (Lilburn 1994: 9).

Lilburn has also served a valuable role in editing two anthologies of prose by poets poised on the intersections among literature, nature, ecology, and philosophy: Poetry and Knowing: Speculative Essays and Interviews (1995) and Thinking and Singing: Poetry and the Practice of Philosophy (2002).

Brian Bartlett

Further Reading

Lilburn, Tim. “The Provisional Shack of the Ear.” Interview with Shawna Lemay. In Tim Bowling, ed. Where the Words Come From: Canadian Poets in Conversation. Roberts Creek, British Columbia: Nightwood, 2002.

Lilburn, Tim. Living in the World As If It Were Home.

Dunvegan, Ontario: Cormorant, 1999.

Lilburn, Tim. Moosewood Sandhills. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1994.

See also: Canadian Nature Writing.

Linnaeus, Carl (1707–1778)

Often called the “father of taxonomy,” Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish naturalist whose monumental Systema Naturae (multiple editions starting in 1735) established the basic strategy for the naming and classification of plants and animals used by Western science. He is thus one of the key figures in the development of modern biology. His philosophy of nature was strongly marked by the natural theology of his era (i.e., he understood nature as a comprehensive rational system that had been designed by an intelligent and benevolent God). Thus his prodigious efforts to collect and catalogue various species from around the globe, as important as they were to the scope and conceptual organization of modern biology, were regarded by him as profound acts of piety.

The son of a Lutheran minister, from an early age Linnaeaus demonstrated an exceptional ability to observe and catalog details about natural phenomena. While preparing for a medical career, he began to study botany and aggressively pursued the collection and classification of European specimens. In 1735 he completed his medical degree and published the first version of what would become his most important work, Systema Naturae. A few years later, he became a professor at Uppsala where he practiced medicine among the Swedish aristocracy, expanded his studies of plants and animals, and developed elaborate gardens that illustrated his ideas. Students and admirers often assisted this process by sending him exotic specimens from their travels around the world. Although Linnaeus published books and essays on a wide range of topics, his most important works concerned classification. He would revise and supplement Systema over much of the rest of his life – notably adding materials on animals and non-European materials as they became available to him. Eventually, it became a multi-volume work that established Linnaeus as one of the leading naturalists of Europe.

Linnaeus’ famed system aimed to simplify the existing practice of using long Latin descriptions for plants and animals by substituting a shorthand strategy that consisted of a generic name and a specific modifier – or “binomial nomenclature.” Linnaeus also believed that the naming of species should be integrated into a larger system of natural order based upon common physical characteristics. To do so he created a multileveled system of classification that moved from the general to the specific. With some modifications and additions, this is still the basic classification system used by biologists today: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, and the two that name the organism, Genus and Species.

Like many of the era’s naturalists, Linnaeus was an enthusiastic exponent of natural theology and would bracket his published works with biblical quotes and paeans to the Almighty. Typically, Linnaeus linked theology to the legitimization of natural science, the task of classification, and hopes for a better future. For example, in the preface to a 1753 study of plant species, he noted, the WORLD is the Almighty’s theater . . . we must research these creations by the creator, which the Highest has linked to our well-being in such a way that we shall not need to miss anything of all the good things we need . . . [E]ach object ought to be clearly grasped and clearly named, for if one neglects this, the great amount of things will necessarily overwhelm us and, lacking a common language, all exchange of knowledge will be in vain (Linnaeus in Koerner 1999: 93).

Yet in spite of his Lutheran heritage and dutiful churchgoing, he was not orthodox in terms of belief. The theological faculty at Uppsala often accused him of conflating God and nature in ways that approached pantheism, and private writings exhibit doubts about doctrines such as the atonement, resurrection, and an afterlife. Thus he is perhaps best understood as a transitional figure whose rhapsodic theism in published works gives way to private doubts and naturalistic views of humanity that are in many ways decidedly modern.

For example, while Linnaeus largely recapitulated the medieval view that human beings stood at the head of the “Great Chain of Being” (i.e., the top of the hierarchy of organic life), he was a significant player in the process through which philosophical and theological concern for the “rational animal” (i.e., in classical and scholastic thought) became the study of a type of particularly clever ape under the aegis of natural history. In the tenth edition of Systema Naturae (1758), he introduced three of the enduring terms in the taxonomy of human beings – Homo sapiens, Mammalia, and Primates. Implicit in these categories was Linnaeus’ conviction, articulated throughout his later writings, that there were no significant physical characteristics that distinguished human beings from apes. In a letter to a friend, he noted, “If I were to call man ape or vice versa, I should bring down all the theologians on my head. But perhaps I should do it according to the rules of science” (Linnaeus in Frangsmyr, et al. 1983: 172). Although more cautious than later biologists, his classification strategy ultimately took aim on one of the inherited conceits of the Western tradition, that human beings were outside of the natural system by virtue of their rational or spiritual qualities.

Subsequent generations have hailed Linnaeus as one of the great “system builders” in biological science whose achievements are analogous to Newton’s influence on physics. In Sweden this reverence has been even more pronounced. During the nineteenth century, reverential biographers and public celebrations of his achievements elevated him to the status of national hero, and more recently, the country has undertaken the careful restoration of his beloved gardens in Uppsala. In England and America various Linnaean Societies continue to advance the study of nature. And of course, every student in a basic biology class pays a kind of tribute to Linnaeus by learning to name and categorize species using the basic principles that he established. In terms of religion, the legacy of Linnaeus is more ambiguous. The theological beliefs that sustained his philosophy of nature would be deemed largely irrelevant to subsequent generations of biologists, particularly after the Darwinian revolution. Some religious conservatives, however, still invoke his ideas on the fixity of species to bolster their attacks on evolutionary concepts. On the more liberal side of things, the spirit of Linnaeus’ natural philosophy is perhaps more influential than the content. At once scientifically rigorous and theologically reverent, his efforts remain a source of inspiration for at least a few Homo sapiens that also fancy themselves Homo religiosus.

Lisle Dalton

Further Reading

Frangsmyr, Tore, Sten Lindroth, Gunnar Eriksson and Gunnar Broberg, eds. Linnaeus: The Man and His Work. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Koerner, Lisbet. Linnaeus: Nature and Nation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

See also: Darwin, Charles; Science.

Lopez, Barry (1945–)

Born in New York in 1945, Barry Holstun Lopez spent most of his first ten years in California, returning to the West after college at Notre Dame for graduate studies in folklore in Oregon. Deciding for a life of writing rather than an academic career, he settled on the McKenzie River in western Oregon. His writing is primarily in the genres of short stories and natural history essays; he has received literary awards for both and is one of the leading U.S. contemporary ecological writers.

Best known among his non-fiction works are Of Wolves and Men, Arctic Dreams, and the collection of essays, Crossing Open Ground. His fiction includes Desert Notes, River Notes, Field Notes, and Winter Count. Central to all his work is the landscape – whether of Oregon or other parts of the U.S. West or the Americas, the Arctic or Antarctic. Whatever the location, his work aims to create a palpable awareness of a landscape that is rich in details and in mystery, in facts and in meaning. In “Landscape and Narrative” he describes an external and an internal landscape.

The external landscape is the one we see – not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its wealth, its geology, the record of its climate and evolution” (Lopez 1989: 64).

Both the external and internal landscapes become comprehensible only by understanding the relationships between and within them, which requires sensuous participation as well as mental reflection. It is the patterns that he believes inhere in these relationships that create a meaningful, trustworthy universe.

To draw the reader into the experience of a particular landscape, Lopez fills his books with scientific information about geography, plants, and animals, including their migration and socializing patterns; as well as information about humans: their mythic stories and artistic creations and their differences (e.g., between Eskimo and European orientations), their scientific research and technological developments, their expeditions – and his reflections on all of these. A New York Times review of Arctic Dreams said that it is “a book about the Arctic North in the way that Moby-Dick is a novel about whales” (Kakutani 1986). I think there are many ways in which this is not true. Although Lopez’s goal is certainly to discover more about humans through his explorations of the land, the landscape does not serve primarily as a springboard to reflect on human meaning; rather, it is only by deeply understanding the whole process of which humans are an interrelated part that they can come to understand themselves. He reports that as he traveled through the Arctic, he came to the realization “that people’s desires and aspirations were as much a part of the land as the wind, solitary animals, and the bright fields of stone and tundra. And, too, that the land itself existed quite apart from these” (Lopez 1986: xxii). Humans can be understood, then, only as part of the landscape.

This land that exists apart from humans can be approached imaginatively, though not definitively. Lopez could be accused of anthropomorphism as he imagines what it would be like to be a wolf or when he says of migrating geese, “They flew beautifully each morning in the directions they intended, movements of desires . . . In that hour their lives seemed flush with yearning” (Lopez 1986: 158). However, rather than collapsing animals into humans, what he is trying to do is open our human imaginings to the full and rich Umwelt, or life-world, that a wolf has quite beyond our imaginings (Lopez 1978: 285) and enable us to allow for the mystery that geese too may have desires, not known by us.

Lopez seldom speaks directly about religion in relation to this quest for openness to the world, though his works are filled with a sense of “something more” (as Williams James defined religion), which one comes upon in the landscape, even though it remains elusive. Nor do his works invite a translation into religious tenants. Such categorization loses the rich reality of humans fully living in and with the landscape, within which the sacred reveals itself. He says he hopes his writing will “contribute to a literature of hope” (Lopez 1998: 14), which seems to depend on humans beings recognizing their place in and responsibility to the whole and the spiritual meaning that is rooted in the whole, which lies beyond human ability to comprehend or control.

Whatever evaluation we finally make of a stretch of land . . . no matter how profound or accurate, we will find it inadequate. The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle than we can know. Our obligation toward it then becomes simple: to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard . . . To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there (Lopez 1986: 228).

Lynn Ross-Bryant

Further Reading

Aton, Jim. “Interview with Barry Lopez.” Western American Literature (Spring 1986).

Kakutani, Michiko. “Review.” New York Times 12 February 1986, C21.

Lopez, Barry H. About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

Lopez, Barry. Crossing Open Ground. New York: Random House, 1989.

Lopez, Barry H. Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1986.

Lopez, Barry H. Of Wolves and Men. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978.

See also: Memoir and Nature Writing.

Lost Worlds

Remote, unexplored or allegedly “disappeared” regions of the natural and cultural world have been prominent subjects of mytho-poetic discourses throughout human history. The multifarious conceptions concerning “sunken cities,” “islands,” or “continents,” and similar “lost worlds,” have been (and still are) prominent examples for the construction of “utopias,” “paradises,” and “El Dorados.” They have led to influential motifs in colonial expansion or exotic imaginations about foreign countries and civilizations, and in many instances, evolutionary myths with historical, geographic or socio-political facets come into play.

In his dialogues Timaios and Kritias, the Greek philosopher Plato presented the famous account of a mythic island called “Atlantis,” using it mainly as an elucidation for certain socio-political ideals set in a once perfect and abundant commonwealth (Plato indeed used to incorporate mythic illustrations in his philosophical writings). Following this paradigmatic story, which includes a final destruction of the island with its spiritually declined population by nature catastrophes (flood and earthquakes), Atlantis gradually surfaced as one of the most popular mytho-geographical and nature-historical images in the utopian genres of the West. Following the corresponding literary output of modern Theosophic/ esoteric “visionaries” like Helena P. Blavatsky (The Secret Doctrine [1888]), Edgar Cayce (various clearvoyant “Readings” related to Atlantis) or James Churchward (The Lost Continent of Mu, The Children of Mu, both in 1931), and others, many of today’s esoteric traditions have incorporated the idea of sunken islands into their mythic topography and history of Earth’s past and future. Culture heroes of primordial times (the “Builders”) are associated with these sunken islands, and in many esoteric eschatologies Atlantis is supposed to “return” again one day from the bottom of the “Atlantic” Ocean (as well as its legendary companion “Lemuria” or “Mu” in the Pacific Ocean), when a millenarian harmony is finally to be restored on “Mother Earth”.

As in the case of Ignatius Donnelly’s prominent Atlantis: the Antediluvian World (1882), and up to the present time, countless attempts have been made to identify and locate Atlantis, and to relate the Atlantis-legend to other mythic accounts of various religious traditions in order to prove its historical truth – for example, to the mythic “Aztlan” of the Aztec mythic records about the origin of the “Mexicans.” Sometimes, the “lost world” mythology of Atlantis, Mu, Thule, and the like, is combined with the global dissemination of the whole human race – or at least certain “superior” parts of it, as in some strands of (Neo-) Nazi esotericism. A similar nativistic reconstruction of a “lost world” can be found in revisionist strands of Neo-Hindu thought, when the ancient Indus Valley civilization is presented as “the” grand culturegiving (and supposedly “Vedic”) source for all humanity – with high technologies, and the like. Until today, innumerable books and web-pages are devoted to such “lost worlds” – themes or aspects thereof – including ideas about living subterranean or submarine remnants of the legendary “Atlanteans,” or even quite anomalistic ideas about an inhabited “hollow Earth” (cf. Childress & Shaver).

In the modern Space Age, however, the “lost world” idea is expressed not only in such “earthly” terms, but also on an interplanetary or even intergalactic level – espe- cially in the modern fantasy (cf. H.P. Lovecraft) and science-fiction genres. Obviously, the frontiers of today’s “terrae incognitae” have moved more and more into outer space. However, Lucian’s (Lukianos of Samosata; ca. 120–180) eye-twinkling “records” in his True Stories – a collection of biting satires on the Greek utopian genre – relate miraculous “travels” by sailing ship to some kingdoms of the solar system and, thus, display quite an ancient prototype for contemporary science-fiction utopias and Star Wars-scenarios up in the skies.

With their spiritual reinterpretation of the Space Age cosmology, contemporary religious ufologies clearly display a postmodern “re-enchantment” of the heavenly reigns with “Angels in space suits” (see Clark 1998). Here, the earthly Atlantis/Mu-theme is often reappearing in particular association with “extraterrestrial” Space Aliens as primordial culture heroes who supposedly colonized these mundane regions with the use of superior technologies (space and air travel, genetic engineering, etc.), unknown energies, and paranormal faculties (cf. the once relatively famous Californian “Sunburst” community around Norman Paulsen in the 1980s). The impact of Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned (1919; with three follow-up volumes), propounding the idea that “we are property” of some superior Alien race, has additionally shaped this line of thought which is still very popular in modern religious ufologies (cf. “Ashtar Command” or Claude Vorilhon’s “Raëlian Religion”) and in various other esoteric cosmologies and “channelings,” as well as in the so-called “Ancient Astronauts” theories or “paleo-SETI” discourses of Erich von Däniken, Robert Charroux and similar “fringe” archeologists and “Fortean” students.

However, this seemingly contemporary tie between a superior scientific or technological control over nature and the Atlantis-theme (e.g., E. Cayce) can already be found in Francis Bacon’s Nova Atlantis (1626/27), where he describes a utopian island with an ideal commonwealth: in a wonderful socio-political setting, the scientists of “Bensalem” developed devices for “flying in the air,” as well as “ships and boats for going under water”; they also used scientific experiments to breed “new animals” and “perfect creatures” by hitherto unknown means, all in service to the inhabitants’ utilitarian needs (“Happy are the people of Bensalem”). Combining pious recourse to transcendence with an empirical and rational pursuit of truth, spiritually and scientifically “enlightened” reason is presented to serve “perfect” human hedonistic control over nature.

In a similar vein, most of the “lost world” myths idealize the “perfect society” in all dimensions – comprising justice on the societal and individual plane, economic well-being and abundance, scientific and spiritual enlightenment, control over nature, and, at the same time, harmony with nature, as well as the use of advanced, but ecologically harmless (“green”) technologies and “free energies.” Despite apparently “modern” technological issues, this alludes strongly to the archetypal “once upon a time” image of the paradisiacal “Garden”: Its representation by mytho-logic is a ubiquitous religious method to stage important human ideals, norms, hopes, as well as paradigmatic warnings – even if the mythic reappearance of the lost paradise is put into an imminent, or distant, millenarian future.

In the end, therefore, the most successful search for Atlantis and its alleged siblings, once “forgotten” and “sunken” during the course of Earth’s natural history, will locate these “lost worlds” not so much topographically somewhere on the globe, but rather in the religious, mythic and utopian creativity of the human mind.

Andreas Gruenschloss

Further Reading

Bacon, Roger. “The New Atlantis” (Nova Atlantis, 1627). In The Harvard Classics, vol. 4. New York: Collier, 1909 (also available on the internet).

Charroux, Robert. Forgotten Worlds. New York: Walker, 1973.

Childress, David Hatcher and Richard Shaver. Lost Continents and the Hollow Earth. Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999 (reprint).

Clark, Jerome. The UFO Book. Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1998.

De Camp, Lyon Sprague. Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature. New York: Dover, 1970 (1954).

Donelly, Ignatius. Atlantis – The Antediluvian World. New York: Dover, 1976 (1882).

Goodrich-Clark, Nicholas. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York: New York University Press, 2002.

Paulsen, Norman. Sunburst: Return of the Ancients.

Goleta, CA: Sunburst, 1980.

See also: Earth Mysteries; Fascism; Proto-Indo-Europeans.

Lovelock, James (1919–)

James Lovelock, a professional research biologist and Fellow of the Royal Academy, is best known as the author of the Gaia hypothesis, a proposal that the Earth be viewed as a single physiological system. Lovelock began to develop the Gaia hypothesis in 1965 while he was working with NASA to test for life on Mars. Realizing that the lack of atmosphere was evidence of a lifeless Mars led him to recognize the vital importance of life in maintaining the improbable chemical balance of the Earth’s atmosphere. Working out the details of this insight, he published a full argument for his hypothesis in his 1979 book, Gaia: A

New Look at Life on Earth. The initial response from the scientific community was mixed – some, such as the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, denounced the hypothesis as unscientific. However, the effect on the popular imagination was strong, and the name Gaia quickly became identified with the emerging environmental movement – especially as it sought to address global issues. Lovelock continued to work on Gaia, using computer modeling to simulate global processes; and he set forth the complete theory in his 1988 book, The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth. From the beginning he has had a number of allies in developing Gaia theory including the microbiologist Lynn Margulis, who identified the specific role of microbial life in maintaining homeostasis of the planetary system. Gaia theory has persisted and refined itself, and now has many adherents amongst other biological scientists in spite of its initial poor reception.

Gaia has had a particular appeal to religious thinkers. Lovelock reports that two-thirds of his mail related to Gaia theory asks about the relationship between Gaia and God. While Lovelock has been supportive of theologians and other religious thinkers using Gaia theory, he has personally taken a more reserved stance. He identifies himself as an agnostic and does not support the idea that Gaia theory provides warrant for the existence of a particular divinity. However, he has argued that the holistic aspects of Gaia theory inspire a sense of wonder and devotion to the Earth system and an understanding of the human role within it.

Lovelock is above all an independent thinker, as displayed by his often tense relationship with the environmental movement. Environmentalists have expressed concern that Gaia theory undermines the magnitude of the environmental crisis by suggesting that the selfregulation of the system will compensate for human destruction. Lovelock actually suggested that Gaia theory gives insight into how human actions disrupt not only local environments, but also the global regulation system itself. However, Lovelock has distanced himself from environmentalists who display suspicions of science and technology, himself advocating primarily technological responses to environmental problems. He often credits the environmental movement with a dogmatism that undermines the free inquiry of science. While he was one of the first scientists to identify the quantity of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the Southern atmosphere, he found himself initially on the industry side of the ozone debate of the late twentieth century. As a result, he was cast as a lackey of industry. Although Lovelock later embraced the environmentalist side of that debate, he holds that he was motivated by clear science rather than political commitments.

Grant Potts

Further Reading

Lovelock, James. Homage to Gaia: The Life of an Independent Scientist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Lovelock, James. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000 (3rd edn).

Lovelock, James. The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1988.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorian Sagan. Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution. New York: Copernicus, 1997.

See also: Epic of Evolution; Gaia; Gaia Foundation and Earth Community Network; Gaian Mass; Gaian Pilgrimage.

Luo (Kenya)

– See Hyenas – Spotted; Snakes and the Luo of Kenya.

Lyons, Oren (1930–)

As Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, Oren Lyons has been a clear, persistent, and respected voice for the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy), and for indigenous people throughout the world. He has effectively carried the message of an environmental crisis facing indigenous ways of life to larger human communities. His personal life story spans a wide diversity of experiences including athletics, hunting, fishing, painting, public speaking, activism, writing and serving as a traditional leader. He has had several careers including a tour of duty in the army, a commercial artist, a professor, and an ambassador to the United Nations for the Haudenosaunee.

Lyons, whose clan name is Joagquisho, was born in 1930. He was raised on the Onondaga Nation Territory in upstate New York. During his youth he learned Haudenosaunee ceremonial practices, which included their game of lacrosse. He also learned to hunt, fish and live fully with respect for the natural world. From 1951–1953 he was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army. In 1957 he was the goalie for the undefeated lacrosse team at Syracuse University and made the All American Lacrosse Team, playing with Jim Brown, who would go on to profootball fame. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in 1958, he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a freelance commercial artist. During this time he also worked for Norcross Greeting Cards, Inc., supervising 250 artists and technicians.

In 1967, at the request of Clan-mothers, he gave up his career and returned to the Onondaga Nation to be raised as a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. The Onondaga Nation Territory, near Syracuse, is the Central Fire of the Iroquois

(or “Haudenosaunee”) Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee are the last remaining traditional indigenous government, still in charge of their lands, that is recognized by the United States. It is still run by the Longhouse system of clans, which are overseen by Clan-mothers, Clan-chiefs, sub-chiefs, and male and female Faithkeepers. From 1971 until the present he has been a Professor of American Studies at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

Lyons has been present at many of the most significant recent events for indigenous people. In 1972 he accompanied a peace delegation of the Haudenosaunee to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., which had been taken over by the American Indian Movement (AIM). In 1973 he led a Haudenosaunee delegation to the Lakota Nation during the standoff at Wounded Knee. In 1977 he was instrumental in organizing a group of Native American leaders to speak at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. This momentous event is the subject of the book Basic Call to Consciousness. He has continued his work at the UN and helped to establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival. He is a co-founder of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth, which is an annual council of traditional grassroots leadership of Native American nations. In 1990 he was a negotiator between the governments of Canada, Quebec, New York State, and the Mohawk Nation over the crisis at the Mohawk community of Oka. He then led a delegation of seventeen American Indian leaders to meet with President Bush in Washington in 1991. In 1992 he organized a Haudenosaunee delegation to attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Lyons was a founder of the Haudenosaunee Environmental task force. In 2000, along with co-chair Henry Lickers, he won the EDA, Region 2Environmental Quality Award of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Also in 2000 he was a plenary speaker in the Global Environmental Youth Convention held in Lund, Sweden.

Oren Lyons has been featured in many important media events. In 1992 he was the subject of a one-hour documentary by Bill Moyers titled “Faithkeeper.” He has appeared as a major speaker before the U.N. in New York and Geneva. He has appeared on Larry King Live and the Charlie Rose show and has been a featured speaker on various film projects including the acclaimed series “The Native Americans” produced by TBS in 1992. He wrote the story and script for the film Hidden Medicine that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999. In 2001 he sat down in public with the famous author and friend Peter Matthiesson to discuss “Perspectives on Spiritual Law and Human Responsibility” at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University. Lyons is well known to some of the most respected entertainers in the film and music industry. He consistently uses his visibility to emphasize those things most urgent to him; namely the survival of indigenous people, their traditions and the perpetuation of creation.

He is known also for his lifelong commitment to the game of lacrosse. It was originally a Haudenosaunee game and is still played as a healing game among the Longhouse people. Since 1983 Lyons has helped organize the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, which has competed in the World Games. Over the last twenty years the Iroquois Nationals have steadily risen in the world rankings. The effect of their performance among the world’s top teams has been an increasing pride among the Haudenosaunee youth. In 1993 he was inducted into the Lacrosse National Hall of Fame. In 1998 he was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In 2003 he was inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame at the University of Rhode Island’s Institute for International Sport.

In 1992 Lyons, along with John Mohawk, published his most important scholarly work titled Exiled in the Land of the Free. Through his efforts in educating America’s leaders the U.S. Senate passed resolution #76 in 1987 which formally acknowledges the “contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution.” Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin counseled with Haudenosaunee leaders to discuss effective governmental structures. Resolution #76 goes on to reaffirm the continuing government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the U.S. In 1992 he was formally recognized in the U.S. Senate for his work.

Lyons was awarded two honorary doctorates. The first in 1987 by the City University of New York Law School at Queens College, and the second in 1993 by Syracuse University. In 1994 he was given the First Annual National Museum of the American Indian Art and Cultural Achievement Award by the Smithsonian Institution. In 1995 he was given The Elder and Wiser Award for “Selfless efforts on behalf of the human family,” which was presented to him by Rosa Parks at the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights and Self-Development. For many years Lyons has been working with the business and government leaders in Sweden on their ambitions to become the leading nation in Europe on sustainable development. For his efforts in Sweden he was named Honorary Adult Friend of The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child in 2002.

Lyon is currently Chairman of the Honoring Nations Advisory Board, which is a granting agency administered through the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. He is also board-member of The American Indian Law Alliance; The American Indian Institute: the Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth; The International Lacrosse Federation (ILF); The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse; The Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders; The Institute for the Preservation of the Original Languages of the Americas; and the American Indian Ritual Object Repatriation Foundation.

Oren Lyons has spoken to world-famous environmentalists, artists, academics, businessmen, politicians, entertainers, and athletes in world forums. He is equally well known to traditional leaders among various indigenous communities all over the world. He has traversed this world with a critical eye on all that serves to degrade and destroy the natural world. His message of peace is that human beings can no longer afford to act irresponsibly toward creation; nor can people of the First World continue to disregard the messages coming from indigenous people. Lyons has listened to indigenous people from all parts of the Earth and his conclusion is that we have a very short time in which to turn our world from its present destructive path. Human beings are routinely defying the natural laws of creation – something that they can no longer afford to do. It will inevitably lead to our own destruction unless we can find a suitable response to the present malaise of the human spirit.

Philip P. Arnold

Further Reading

Lyons, Oren and John Mohawk, eds. Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, Indian Nations and the U.S. Constitution. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Press, 1992.

See also: Haudenosaunee Confederacy; Holy Land in Native North America; Law, Religion, and Native American Lands; Mother Earth; Religious Studies and Environmental Concern; Sacred Geography in Native North America; United Nations’ “Earth Summits”.


Maasai (Tanzania)

Historically, Maasai were semi-nomadic pastoralists who lived in Tanzania and Kenya. Nature and its elements have been and remain central to Maasai religion, even as Maasai lives and livelihoods have changed in response to colonialism, nationalism, development interventions, Christian evangelization, education and other processes. These processes have also exacerbated regional, social, cultural and thus religious variations among and within Maasai sections (large territorial groupings). Moreover, although many Maasai, in addition to keeping livestock, now cultivate small farms, work for wages, and pursue other modes of economic diversification, most still remember and uphold their long-standing history and ideals as semi-nomadic pastoralists. Their close customary relationship to and dependence on the environment for their sustenance and social reproduction was expressed in many aspects of their religious beliefs and practices, including: their concept of their deity (Eng’ai), their sacred symbols and colors, their holy mountains and trees, their attitudes toward wild and domestic animals, and their prayers and praise songs. Although many of their beliefs and practices continue today, this entry is written in the past tense to acknowledge the changing circumstances of their lives.

Maasai believed in one deity, Eng’ai (also spelled Ng’ai, Nkai, and Enkai), who was understood primarily, although not exclusively, in feminine terms as the divine principle that created and nurtured life on Earth. Eng’ai also meant “rain” and “sky,” and was addressed through many metaphors such as Noompees, (“She of the growing grasses”) and Yieyio nashal inkilani (“My mother with the wet clothes”) that emphasized wetness, darkness, motherhood and growth, and thus reinforced the association of Eng’ai with fertility and femaleness. According to most myths and proverbs, Eng’ai resided in and was one with the sky, and had a dialectical relationship of mutual dependency with enkop, the land or the Earth: Kerisio Eng’ai o Enkop, “Eng’ai and the Earth are equal.” Together, Eng’ai and humans, the Sky and Earth, created and nurtured life; there was a necessary unity and complementarity between them. All natural phenomena, especially those concerned with the weather, were attributed to the interventions of Eng’ai and read as expressions of divine power and judgment – rain as blessing, drought as displeasure, thunder and lightening as anger, rainbows as approval, and comets as portents of bad luck.

Both Eng’ai and humans had the ability, through their actions, to alter their relationship. This agency is evident in one set of myths that describe how, because of human jealousy and greed, Eng’ai ended the flow of cattle to Maasai from the sky and distanced (but did not separate) herself from them. The dynamic relationship between humans and Eng’ai also shaped how Maasai understood and invoked Eng’ai in their daily lives, and the almost complete lack, at least historically, of a distinction between the sacred and secular worlds. Although most Maasai men tended to pray only on special occasions to Eng’ai, Maasai women prayed throughout the day, from the early morning when they milked their cattle to their last waking moment at night. During their prayers, women sprinkled some milk on the ground for Eng’ai, raised their arms and heads to the sky (sometimes clutching grass in their hands), and entreated her for continued protection, preservation, expansion and prosperity of the family and herds. Women also sang prayer and praise songs to Eng’ai when gathered together for chores and rest, or at ceremonies and celebrations. Through their prayer and songs, women maintained a daily, ongoing relationship with Eng’ai, and took responsibility for ensuring that Eng’ai bestowed continued blessing and bounty on their households.

In addition to the constant intercessions of women, Maasai also tried to influence and understand Eng’ai’s actions through their iloibonok (oloiboni, singular), male ritual leaders who had the powers of prophecy and divination. According to Maasai myths, iloibonok were direct descendants of Eng’ai, beginning with the first oloiboni, Kidongoi, who became the apical ancestor of their sub-clan, Inkidong’i. They were always seen as “outsiders” to some extent, and their powers were viewed with a mixture of fear and fascination. There were major Iloibonok who had superior powers of prophecy and divination and large followings. They were called upon to appeal to Eng’ai in times of great crisis such as prolonged drought, warfare, or sickness, and some even served as Maasai “chiefs” during the early colonial period. In contrast, the minor Iloibonok usually did not prophesy, but performed divinations at the request of individual clients to investigate more mundane, everyday problems such as the occasional ill health of people and livestock. The primary method of divination was to shake stones and other objects from a gourd or horn, then analyze them with the complex Maasai numerology of auspicious and inauspicious numbers. Iloibonok also provided charms and amulets for various purposes such as to ward off sickness or to ensure the success of a cattle raid by junior men. Finally, in times of crisis and concern, Maasai men and women held elaborate ceremonies to entreat Eng’ai for help. These usually involved prayer and praise songdances, the ritual slaughter, roasting and consumption of cattle, the brewing and imbibing of honey beer, and special prayers using elements of nature associated with Eng’ai such as milk, honey, grass, and water (discussed below).

As pastoralists, Maasai were concerned with having sufficient grass and water to feed their livestock. Not surprisingly, then, grass and certain liquids (milk, spittle and honey) featured in their religious entreaties, practices and ceremonies as near-sacred symbols of and gifts from Eng’ai. Grass was a sign of welcome and peace. It was often held in the hands, tied as a sprig to one’s clothing, placed in the neck of a calabash, or draped on someone’s shoulders as they were being blessed. Milk, like cattle, was a gift from Eng’ai, and symbolically associated with women (who produced, processed and controlled its distribution) and fertility. It was sprinkled on the ground at the beginning of each milking, on humans from a calabash with grass in its mouth for blessing, and offered to family, visitors, and even strangers. To spit on a person (usually their head or hands) or a thing (such as a gift) was to bless them or express reverence. New-borns were spat on constantly, elders spat into the hands of juniors to bless them and wish them well, and ritual participants often spat a mixture of milk and water on whoever was being honored, prayed for, or blessed. Honey signified the sweetness of Eng’ai, and honey beer was also often spat on people as a sign of blessing.

These and other natural elements were associated with and expressed in the meaning and use of colors in the Maasai religious cosmology. White (of milk, animal fat, and the white cumulus clouds that appear after a rain storm) was a sign of blessing, peace and contentment. White chalk was often used to draw special protective designs on the face, legs or torso of certain ritual participants; they were also sometimes anointed with animal fat. Maasai spoke of Eng’ai Naibor, the “White God,” or the “God with the white stomach.” A stomach was white and content from being filled with the milk that was Eng’ai’s gift to Maasai. White beads also featured in Maasai beadwork.

Black (of the dark rain clouds) was a particularly holy color. Black cloth used to be worn by fertile women, and is still worn by people in holy or liminal states (such as newly circumcised boys and girls, or prophets and prophetesses) to entreat Eng’ai’s special protection. Eng’ai was referred to as Eng’ai Narok, the “Black God,” when she was being helpful, kind and compassionate. Black bulls were required for the sacrifices made at major age-set ceremonies and the dark blue beads (which were cate- gorized as black) worn by married men and women marked the sanctity of their marital bonds. Charcoal was often used to make symbolic black markings and designs.

The meaning of red (of blood and ochre) was somewhat contradictory. On the one hand red clothing (formerly leather rubbed with ochre, now red cloth) and skin (achieved by rubbing a mixture of ochre and cow fat) were considered a distinctive marker of Maasai ethnic identity. As the color of blood, red signified kinship, life and vitality. On the other hand, red could express anger and destruction. When the actions of Eng’ai were seen as harmful and vengeful, she was called Eng’ai Nanyokie, the “Red God.” Red was also associated with fire and the relentless heat of the dry season. Red for Maasai was, it seems, the color of power, which had the potential to be creative or destructive, or even both – destroying in order to create. Finally, many other nature-associated colors – the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the orange of the sun – appeared in meaningful patterns and arrangements in the elaborately beaded ornaments, jewelry and clothing crafted by Maasai women. Thus Eng’ai was sometimes referred to as Parmuain, “Multicolored God.”

Maasai also symbolically associated trees and mountains with Eng’ai. Trees and shrubs were called olcani, which also meant “medicine.” The roots, bark and leaves of certain trees and shrubs were used as medicine to treat specific diseases. Since disease and death, like health and birth, were derived from Eng’ai, the power of olcani to heal and protect was understood as a divine intervention mediated through human knowledge and practice. In addition, oreteti, a species of parasitic fig tree, was believed to be particularly sacred. The oreteti tree spreads and grows by lodging its seeds in the cracks and crevices of other trees. As a result, its branches extend in all directions and its many roots entangle and hang down in coils from the host tree from sometimes-great heights. Oreteti often have water in their trunks and fissures, its sap is a reddish color, and its leaves contain a milky white substance. Maasai saw these vertical thickets as links growing from the sky and Eng’ai down to the Earth and humans; they were therefore considered holy places where people could be closer to Eng’ai. Maasai men and women visited these holy trees either alone or in groups to pray, worship, and plead to Eng’ai for rain and other blessings. The leaves, bark and branches of the oreteti tree were also used in religious ceremonies and prayers.

Certain mountains also figured in Maasai religious cosmology and stories as the homes of Eng’ai or her descendants. Oldoinyo Orok, the “Black Mountain” (Mt. Meru) was recognized as holy and a home of Eng’ai. Oldoinyo Oibor, the “White Mountain” (snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro), was sometimes referred to as the home of the first human, Naiterukop (“She who creates the earth”). Oldoinyo Leng’ai, the “Mountain of God,” is an active volcano that still spouts smoke and ash in the Rift Valley.

Its occasional eruptions signaled the wrath of Eng’ai. Nonetheless, ritual delegations of barren Maasai women (olamal), led by elder men, regularly visited Oldoinyo Leng’ai to pray to Eng’ai to bless them with children.

As part of their reverence for nature as Eng’ai’s creation, Maasai also treated wild and domestic animals with respect. Cattle, of course, were prized as the primary source of food, social worth and Maasai identity. Each animal was distinguished by name, based on its colors, size, and other physical features. Goats and sheep were also marked as individuals, although with less fanfare and prestige. Historically, Maasai did not hunt or eat wild animals, including the large herds of wildebeest and zebra that roamed their plains. Lions, however, were hunted by junior men for protection and prestige. Snakes were usually left alone, and there was a belief that certain very prominent men returned as black pythons. Birds were never eaten, but certain species were killed so that their bodies and feathers could be used to create elaborate headdresses for newly circumcised boys.

Nature and all of its elements, as described above, were reflected and expressed in Maasai prayers and praise songs. As an example, take a woman’s dance song recorded by Jan Voshaar and transcribed in his book Maasai, Between the Oreteti-Tree and the Tree of the Cross. The chorus invoked both Eng’ai and the Earth: “We pray to Eng’ai and Earth, iyioo. God of many qualities. O Multicolored God, let me (us) pass where the calf was slaughtered for rain, give me also someone to sit with.” The ensuing verses mentioned sitting under shady trees, begged Eng’ai to give children to all women, and invoked “The oreteti tree of the white clay so sweet; Sweet at the time of ritual.” One verse asked Eng’ai to “Give me that which is yellow and that which is white,” referring to the first milk and the last milk of both mothers and cows. Another series of verses spoke of the duality and complementarity of Eng’ai and the Earth: “To the two expanses I pray; I pray to God’s expanses that comes as equals” (1998: 226–7).

In conclusion, Eng’ai’s relationship to humans was seen in and understood through nature. Since Maasai had no concept of the afterlife, they focused on leading good and holy (sinyati) lives in the present so that Eng’ai would be pleased and bless them with good health, children and cattle. The focus of their religious beliefs and practices was thus on maintaining the complementarity between Eng’ai and humans, between the sky (or heavens) and the Earth, and correcting – through daily prayers and ritual ceremonies – any transgressions or disturbances that occurred to this relationship.

In recent years, this relationship has been more difficult to maintain as the tremendous, cumulative losses of land and key water supplies to game parks, commercial agriculture, and settlers have converged with a long history of inappropriate development interventions to undermine pastoralism as a viable livelihood and to force Maasai to seek other ways of supporting themselves. Moreover, these colonial and post-colonial interventions have also privileged Maasai men as economic and political actors, thereby disenfranchising Maasai women from their historical rights and powers. In response to these dislocations, many Maasai women have embraced Christianity as a way to enhance their spiritual powers and critique what they perceive as the increasingly materialistic, secular and amoral practices of Maasai men. Maasai religious beliefs and practices have been encouraged, modified, disparaged, or prohibited, depending on the denomination and attitude of the missionaries and church involved.

Dorothy L. Hodgson

Further Reading

Århem, Kaj. “A Folk Model of Pastoral Subsistence: The Meaning of Milk, Meat, and Blood in Maasai Diet.” In Anita Jacobson-Widding and Walter Van Beek, eds. The Creative Communion: African Folk Models of Fertility and the Regeneration of Life. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1990, 201–31.

Århem, Kaj. “Why Trees are Medicine: Aspects of Maasai Cosmology.” In Anita Jacobson-Widding and David Westerlund, eds. Culture, Experience and Pluralism. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1989, 75–84.

Galaty, John. “Ceremony and Society: The Poetics of Maasai Ritual.” Man 18:2 (1983), 361–82.

Hodgson, Dorothy L. Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Hodgson, Dorothy L. “Engendered Encounters: Men of the Church and the ‘Church of Women’ in Maasailand, Tanzania, 1950–1993.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41:4 (1999), 758–83.

Hollis, Alfred C. The Masai: Their Language and Folklore.

Freeport, NY: Book for Libraries Press, 1905.

Olsson, Tord. “Philosophy of Medicine among the Maasai.” In Anita Jacobson-Widding and David Westerlund, eds. Culture, Experience and Pluralism. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1989, 235–46.

Voshaar, Jan. Maasai: Between the Oreteti-Tree and the Tree of the Cross. Kampen, Netherlands: Kok Publishers, 1998.

See also: Sacred Mountains; San (Bushmen) Religion; (and adjacent, San (Bushmen) Rainmaking); Volcanoes.

Maathi, Wangari

– See Kenya Green Belt Movement.

MacGillis, Sister Miriam

– See Genesis Farm.

Macy, Joanna (1929–)

One of the outgrowths of social and environmental activism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has been a reevaluation and reappropriation of the various religious traditions of the world. “Engaged Buddhism” utilizes Buddhist concepts such as codependent co-arising (in Sanskrit, Pratîtya Samutpâda), compassion (karunâ) and wisdom (prajñâ) as a basis for ethical action in the world. Many Buddhist practitioners understand their relationship with the natural world in terms of interconnectedness and mutuality of being. These ideas are used to describe both experiences of unity with the natural world, as well as to provide an impetus for action on behalf of it.

Joanna Macy, one of the founders of the Institute for Deep Ecology, combines Buddhist teaching and practices with General Systems Theory in workshops and classes that she leads around the world in order to facilitate personal and social transformation, especially in regard to environmental issues. She promotes what she refers to as the “Great Turning,” from an industrial growth society, to a life-sustaining civilization.

Through working with Tibetan refugees, she became acquainted with Tibetan Buddhist monks and was formally introduced to Buddhist thought and practice. After returning to the United States, she pursued and completed a doctoral degree in which she explored the relationship between Buddhist notions of interdependence and mutual causality and systems thought (Macy 1991). She spent several years in Sri Lanka where she worked with Theravadan Buddhists of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement who were engaged in efforts to help rural villagers to become communally and ecologically selfsustaining. Buddhist insights and practices are found throughout her work.

Macy began to do what she came to call Despair and Empowerment work as a result of her involvement with the Nuclear Freeze and Disarmament campaigns of the 1960s through 1980s (Macy 2000). She developed group exercises and role-playing scenarios that were designed to enable people to acknowledge and express their pain, grief and despair for the world and then to harvest that passion and compassion to bring about the changes necessary to diminish or rid the world of those things which threatened it. Her book, Despair and Power in the Nuclear Age, as well as its revision (with Molly Young Brown), Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World, grew out of this work and contains a collection of these exercises and role-playing scenarios, as well as an explanation of some of the principles behind Despair and Empowerment work.

In Macy’s work, the notion of interconnectedness is what enables persons to feel pain for the world and one another, and is also the source of strength for addressing the crises facing the world:

I have been deeply inspired by the Buddha’s teaching of dependent co-arising. It fills me with a sense of connection and mutual responsibility with all beings. Helping me understand the nonhierarchical and self-organizing nature of life, it is the philosophic grounding of all my work (Macy, www.joannamacy.net).

In Buddhism, the practice of meditation is to break through the illusions the mind creates about the nature of reality. Macy’s work builds upon this idea through the use of role playing and exercises designed to help workshop participants to see the world as it is, not only its interconnectedness, but also the destruction of the environment and species extinctions. Her work is designed to cut through the illusions constructed by the individual mind and society that serve to deny the reality of the environmental crisis. But that practice is an engaged practice, addressing environmental and other social issues:

The vitality of Buddhism today is most clearly reflected in the way it is being brought to bear on social, economic, political, and environmental issues, leading people to become effective agents of change. The gate of the Dharma does not close behind us to secure us in a cloistered existence aloof from the turbulence and suffering of samsara, so much as it leads us out into a life of risk for the sake of all beings. As many Dharma brothers and sisters discover today, the world is our cloister (Macy, www.joannamacy.net).

Macy uses the imagination in the form of role playing and rituals in order to look closely at the actual conditions of the world. This use of the imagination is a way to move people beyond mental numbness to experience the reality of the global environmental situation. One example of this is the Council of All Beings, which Macy and John Seed developed to ritually reconnect human beings with other species and natural forces.

Craig S. Strobel

Further Reading

Macy, Joanna. Widening Circles. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2000.

Macy, Joanna. Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.

Macy, Joanna. Despair and Power in the Nuclear Age.

Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1983.

Macy, Joanna and Molly Young Brown. Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 1998.

Seed, John, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Arne Naess. Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings. Philadelphia, PA and Santa Cruz, CA: New Society Publishers, 1988.

Strobel, Craig. Performance, Religious Imagination and the Play of the Land in the Study of Deep Ecology and Its Practices. Unpublished dissertation. Berkeley, CA: Graduate Theological Union, 2000.

See also: Buddhism – Engaged; Buddhism – North America; Council of All Beings; Deep Ecology; Deep Ecology – Institute for; Epic of Evolution; Gandhi, Mohandas; ReEarthing; Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (Sri Lanka); Seed, John.


Magic is, broadly speaking, an attempt to violate the natural exchange of energy. It seeks an operative shortcut, the getting of more for an output of less. In this sense, the practice of magic appears to be anti-nature – especially the “demonic” magic of the medieval grimoires that seeks to suspend the laws of nature and accomplish superhuman ends. Traditionally, magic represents a category of attempts to tamper with the natural flow. In this sense, it has an affinity with the efforts of technological engineering and civilization’s wish to tame or harness the natural world as a resource for exploitation.

But if magic represents a violation of the natural order, a transgression of the linear laws of equal exchange, contemporary science’s emergent theories of complexity argue that the cosmos is more alinear than linear. Complexity theory studies retrodictively the processes by which something becomes more than merely the sum of its constituent parts. In like manner, as magic seeks to generate power through ritual and spells, in principle the word when correctly spoken becomes more than itself. In the fullest sense, the word expresses the physical being or essence of the thing it describes. Consequently, magic may be thought of as a “science of the word” – a notion that appears to its fullest in the logos prologue to the gospel of St. John.

Another understanding of magic, apart from illusion for the purpose of entertainment, posits it as the production of effects in the world by means of invisible or supernatural causation. It may also be considered as action that is based on belief in the efficacy of symbolic forms. But once again, the essential idea remains the notion of securing something of greater value in exchange for something whose intrinsic worth is less. This need not necessarily involve the supernatural. For instance, for a nominal outlay of electrical energy and telephonic financial charges, two people on different sides of the planet can engage in conversation and as such may be considered involved in an act of magic. This allows recognition of how technology itself represents a violation of the natural law of exchange. For the Greeks, techne referred to the “art of craft,” and magic and technology were both the patronages of the god Hermes. As French theologian Jacques Ellul explains, technique is not only a reference to machines but also to “the logic of manipulation and gain that lay behind machines” (in Davis 1998: 144).

In its traditional sense, magic has limited concerns. These include the healing and preventing of disease, the finding of lost or stolen articles, identifying thieves and witches, gaining vengeance and the warding off of evil influences. An early distinction was made between magic and religion – with magic operating by constraint; religion, through supplication. Following a structuralfunctionalist approach, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) accepted a radical distinction between religion as a communal mater and magic as a non-congregational affair between a practitioner and a client. But Marcel Mauss (1872–1950), following a different line of structural-functional theory, in his A General Theory of Magic (1902), reasoned that magic is indeed a social phenomenon but one that makes use of a universal force or mana, an available spiritual power. In other words, for Mauss, magic or mana refers to the genuine effectiveness of things.

In contrast, and following what Graham Cunningham (1999) considers an emotionalist approach, Bronislaw Malinowski (1884–1942) denied Mauss and considered magic not as a universal force but as a power located within the individual magician. It amounts to a substitute technology in primitive society in which scientifically established knowledge is otherwise unavailable. Consequently, for Malinowski, magic is primarily a question of psychology: where knowledge or technology is lacking, it offers psychological relief. Malinowski also distinguished between religion and magic in which the Church is understood as the central community and magic as what exists on the fringes of communal activity. He argued that magical acts are expressions of emotion – particularly emotions that are connected to either possession or powerlessness. Such acts or emotions for Malinowski are in reality mental obsessions.

It is, however, the English anthropologist James G. Frazer (1854–1941), classified within the intellectualist school, who developed the distinction between magic and religion into one of progressive historical stages. For Frazer, magic is part of the earliest level of human development and arises from the human desire to control nature. It is, however, formulated on fallacious understandings of cause and effect. The successive stage of understanding reputedly develops with the realization concerning the ineffectiveness of magical rites and that the laws of magic do not really exist. Control of nature was then placed under the jurisdiction of supernatural beings (gods or spirits) beyond human control. Frazer called the moment when humanity turns to supplication of such forces as the beginning of the stage of religion. However, he posits a third stage, that of science, which is marked by the discovery of the correct laws of nature. As an evolutionist, Frazer expected that both magic and religion would cease to exist as science continues to develop.

Frazer argued that the two laws of magic are imitative and contagious. Imitative or homeopathic magic operates according to the “law” of similarity, that is, the belief that like produces like. Results are achieved through mimicry. In contrast, contagious magic is governed by the “law” of contact – the use of materials that have been in contact with the object of magic. Here, we find the belief that people can be influenced even by remote touch. To these two “categories” of magic, Frazer added a third, namely, the use of items that symbolize the intended object.

Another emotionalist discussed by Cunningham in theorizing magic is Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). One of the clearest contemporary articulations of the Freudian position is that of Faber (1996) who insists that magic in the hands of an adult signifies a regression to infantile fantasy. Belief in magic is seen to root in what is considered the “primary narcissism” of the symbiotic stage of individual development. It amounts accordingly to a form of regressive fusion to the time of unconditional love between mother and child. However, in contrast to this psychological approach is that of the symbolists. Mary Douglas, in Purity and Danger (1966), claims that the tendency to dismiss ritualistic sacramental religions as magical and consequently not truly religious is a prejudice that selects the prophetic-Protestant model of inner experience as the paradigm of authentic religiosity. But symbolists consider that magic offers a workable framing of experience in a local context. Nevertheless, modern Western culture has shown an increasing tendency to distrust ritual or symbolic activity of any kind – including magic.

Interest and belief in magic have been present since the beginnings of Western culture. Manuals of magical recipes were formulated in the Middle Ages under the name of grimoires. These sought to conjure demonic entities in order to achieve ends that are beyond ordinary human means. Essentially, grim moiré magic seeks to suspend the laws of nature. This, in turn, developed during the Renaissance into hermetic magic in which a spiritual endeavor was added to the efforts of the magician who now sought to develop an internally personal divine nature. The modern history of magic begins with the late eighteenth century through the rise in Western Europe of dilettante interest in occultism and interaction with Freemasonry as well as the emergence of publicly recognized magical groups. Three literary works became seminal at this time: Ebenezer Sibley’s Celestial Sciences (1784), Francis Barrett’s The Magus (1801), and a work published by Count de Gebelin that connected the Tarot with the Egyptian Book of Thoth. Barrett’s work functioned as the textbook for the group that had gathered around him. It in turn influenced an ex-Catholic seminarian, AlphonseLouis Constant, who, under the name of Eliphas Levi, published in the 1850s Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, History of Magic and Key of the Great Mysteries that purportedly revived the entire Western magical tradition. Levi invented the terms occultisme (“hidden wisdom”) and haut magie (“high magic”) and claimed for magic both antiquity and potency. He insisted that magic is the only universally valid religion. Levi is responsible for rediscovering both the Kabbalah and the Tarot, and he is a foundational inspiration for Rosicrucians, ritual magicians and contemporary witches.

Levi had adopted the Freemasonic idea that the human race had been created as part of the divine. Consequently, the divine nature is arguably still present and something one can contact – chiefly by going back into the past, foremost to Egypt. In other words, Levi changed the concept of old magic that sought the gods into a search for self-knowledge and self-empowerment. His ideas, along with those of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and the magical formulas of Barrett, coalesced with the founding of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 1880s. This last, under the leadership of Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, who assumed leadership in 1897, developed a ritualistic worldview system of Western magick. The Golden Dawn promoted the Hermetic principle of correspondence between the microcosm as the human being and the macrocosm as the universe. Its standard practices involved invocation (the “calling down” into the self of a cosmic force) and evocation (the “calling up” of magical forces from the depth of the self). The Order taught that the trained will is capable of achieving anything, and this led to the contemporary understanding of magic as the changing of consciousness according to will (usually attributed to Dion Fortune). The Golden Dawn’s most famous member was Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) who formulated Thelemic Magic (from Greek thelema “will”).

Most modern magical groups have been inspired from the Knights Templar (a quasi-monastic, magical fraternity formed in 1118 to protect Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims) and the kabbalists (developing from ancient Hebrew sources in Babylon in the early Middle Ages and culminating with Moses de Leon’s thirteenth-century Book of Zolar). A third influence comes through the fourteenthcentury tarrochi cards (Tarot). As a system of popular divination, Levi, Crowley and A.E. Waite combined the Tarot’s modern form with kabbalistic symbolism. Contemporary Western magic seeks the production of desired effects at will through harnessing hidden forces within the universe. Sybil Leek understands magic as the employment of various techniques (e.g., incantations) by which human beings can control and manipulate supernatural agencies and/or the forces of nature to produce a desired effect or result. Magicians and magical groups inevitably employ ritual as a tool to focus the concentration and power of the individual or group. They maintain an essential secrecy or “social invisibility,” employ hidden ancient wisdom, and retain roots in the pre-Christian world.

Implicit in much of the Western magical tradition is an anti-nature bias, the violation of the natural law of exchange or the laws of nature. Magical endeavor can be seen as the human wish to tamper with the natural flow. In principle, it differs little from the manipulation and control of technology – allowing the nature/culture or nature/ technology or nature/magic divide that has been articulated by Freud in his Civilization and Its Discontents. Nevertheless, a counter-tradition can be traced again to the Middle Ages that understood “natural magic” in distinction to “demonic magic” – including the manipulation of people through curses (i.e., black magic). Consequently, opposed to demonic magic of both nefarious and exalted ends is the domain of natural magic – essentially, operation within the “laws of nature” as they are found and encountered. Del Rio, in his Disquisitiones Magicae of 1606, explained natural or physical magic as none other than knowledge of the deepest secrets of nature. In the Middle Ages, natural magic was essentially the science of the day.

Most traditional magical practice descends from NeoPlatonism as a system of spiritual development that can be traced through the Martinists, the Illuminati, the Rosicrucians, the Freemasons and the Golden Dawn. In contrast, many modern-day Witches and neo-pagans do not link magic with the supernatural. It is instead viewed primarily as a series of techniques that alter consciousness in order to facilitate psychic activity. Magic has become a psychological endeavor rather than a supernatural one. Along with modern-day ceremonial or thelemic magic(k), a more recent development is that of Chaos Magick (Peter Caroll, Phil Hine) that employs a chaos paradigm and the individual image to obtain a state of gnosis.

In the cultural matrix of the West, the magician can assume the role of magus, wizard, sorcerer, thaumaturge and, more recently, shaman. The etymological origins of these various designations and their different historic trajectories allow us to understand a variety of different emphases. The magus or magician per se is concerned with power and its development vis-à-vis people, nature and spirit. The wizard, by contrast, pursues wisdom or knowledge rather than controlling or manipulating force in and of itself. The sorcerer is a “caster of lots,” which he or she engineers through techniques of enchantment or incantation. In many respects the sorcerer or enchanter is similar to the shaman – both engage with the other-world and its denizens, and both may do “battle” with spirit beings. But the shaman’s pursuit is always social and ultimately on behalf of his or her grounding community. With the sorcerer, on the other hand, magical work is solitary and motivated by self-interest. It is the thaumaturgist, however, who, as a “worker of wonders” is less the seeker after power, wisdom, control or conflict but essentially after the miraculous. And in contrast to techne or achieving psychological states of mind, thauma or the miracle reveals a further dimension of magic and one that opens it to the natural that may not automatically be apparent with the technological.

While the Greek term thauma is of obscure origin, its English equivalent “marvel, miracle” and cognates (“smile,” “mirror” and “admire”) reveal an underlying dynamic of appreciative reflection. The miraculous is not a denial or transgression of the natural but its mirror image. It introduces the possibility that the magical can be an integral part as well as counterpart to nature rather than an operative that contravenes fundamental natural laws. And as the etymological root behind the “miracle” complex suggests, magic as the miraculous engenders “smiling”; it is an occasion for “laughter.”

Michael York

Further Reading

Cunningham, Graham. Religion and Magic: Approaches and Theories. New York: New York University Press, 1999.

Davis, Erik. TechGnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information. New York: Harmony/Crown, 1998. Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger. Harmondsworth:

Pelican Books, 1970 (1966).

Faber, M.D. New Age Thinking: A Psychoanalytic Critique.

Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1996.

Freud, Sigmund. Civilization, Society and Religion: Group Psychology, Civilization and Its Discontents and Other Works. The Penguin Freud Library 12. London: Penguin, 1991.

Greenwood, Susan. Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology. Oxford/New York: Berg, 2000.

Hutton, Ronald. Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Witchcraft. Oxford: University Press, 1999.

Levi, Eliphas. History of Magic. A.E. Waite, tr. London: Rider, 1913.

Mathers, Samuel Liddell MacGregor. The Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Solomonis). New York: Kegan Paul, 1909 (1888).

Spence, Louis. Encyclopaedia of Occultism. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1960.

Waldrop, M. Mitchell. Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. New York: Touchstone, 1992.

See also: Complexity Theory; Ecology and Religion; Magic, Animism, and the Shaman’s Craft; New Age; Paganism – Contemporary; Shamanism (various); Wicca.

Magic, Animism, and the Shaman’s Craft

Animism and Perception

Although the term “animism” was originally coined in the nineteenth century to designate the mistaken projection of humanlike attributes – such as life, mind, intelligence – to nonhuman and ostensibly inanimate phenomena, it is clear that this first meaning was itself rooted in a misapprehension, by Western scholars, of the perceptual experience of indigenous, oral peoples. Twentieth-century research into the phenomenology of perception revealed that humans never directly experience any phenomenon as definitively inert or inanimate. Perception itself is an inherently relational, participatory event; we say that things “call our gaze” or “capture our attention,” and as we lend our focus to those things, we find ourselves affected and transformed by the encounter – the way the blue sky, when we open our gaze to it, reverberates through our sensing organism, altering our mood and even the rhythm of our beating heart. When we are walking in the forest, a particular tree may engage our awareness, and if we reach to feel the texture of its bark we may find that our fingers are soon being tutored by that tree. If the bark is rough and deeply furrowed our fingers will begin to slow down their movements in order to explore those ridges and valleys, while if the trunk is smooth, like a madrone, even the palm of our hand will be drawn to press against and caress that smooth surface. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, in his classic work, Phenomenology of Perception, suggests that the primordial event of perception is always experienced as a reciprocal encounter between the perceiver and the perceived, an open dialectic wherein my sensing body continually responds and adjusts itself to the things it senses, and wherein the perceived phenomenon responds in turn, disclosing its nuances to me only as I allow myself to be affected by its unique style, its particular dynamism or active agency.

Merleau-Ponty’s careful analyses of perception revealed, contrary to our common ways of speaking, that the perceiving self is not a disembodied mind but rather a bodily subject entirely immersed in the world it perceives. His later work underscored the reciprocity of perceptual experience by pointing out the obvious (yet easily overlooked) fact that the eyes, the visual organs by which we gaze out at and explore the visible field, are themselves entirely a part of that field; they have their own colors, like the color of the sky or the grass. Similarly, the hands with which we touch things are entirely a part of the tactile field that they explore – since, of course, the hand has its own textures, its own smooth or rough surfaces. Hence, when we are touching another being, feeling the texture of a tree-trunk, or caressing a boulder with our fingers, we may also, quite spontaneously, feel our hand being touched by that tree, or our fingers felt by that stone. Similarly, when we step outside in the morning and gaze across the valley at a forested hillside, if we attend mindfully to the vision we will sense our own visibility, will feel ourselves exposed to those trees, perhaps even feel ourselves seen by that forested hillside. Perception, according to Merleau-Ponty, is nothing other than this reciprocity, this mutual reverberation and blending in which the surrounding terrain is experienced by me only to the extent that I feel myself caught up within and experienced by those surroundings.

Such a description neatly echoes the discourse of many indigenous peoples, such as the Koyukon people of central Alaska, who claim that they live “in a world that watches, in a forest of eyes” (Nelson 1983: 14). Oral, indigenous peoples from around the world – whether hunters or rudimentary horticulturalists – commonly assert that the land itself is alive and aware, that the local animals, the plants, and the earthly elements around them have their own sensitivity and sentience. They claim that the earthly world we experience also experiences us. And hence that we must be respectful toward that world, lest we offend the very ground that supports us, the winds and waters that nourish us.

If the phenomenological study of perception is correct, however, then these claims need not be attributed to a “projection” of human awareness onto an ostensibly inanimate and objective world; they are simply a way of speaking more in accord with our most direct and spontaneous experience of the perceptual cosmos. Far from being a distortion of our actual encounter with the material world around us, the animistic discourse of so many indigenous, place-based peoples is likely the most practical and parsimonious manner of giving voice to the earthly world as that world discloses itself to humankind in the absence of intervening technologies.

When the natural world is perceived not from the spectator-like position of a detached or disembodied intellect, but rather from an embodied position situated entirely within that world, one encounters no aspect of that world that is definitively inert or inanimate. “Animism” remains a useful term for this highly embodied, and embedded, mode of perception. In this sense, “animism” may be said to name a primordial mode of perception that admits of no clear distinction between that which is animate and that which is inanimate. Rather, every phenomenon that draws our attention is perceived, or felt, to be at least potentially animate. Each perceived thing has its own rhythm and style, its own interior animation. Everything moves – although, clearly, some things move much slower than other things, like the mountains, or the ground underfoot.

A short, haiku-like poem by Gary Snyder neatly illustrates this style of awareness:

As the crickets’ soft, autumn hum is to us so are we to the trees as are they to the rocks and the hills.

Each entity in this poem has its own dynamism, its own rhythm – and yet each rhythm is vastly different, in the pace of its pulse, from the others. Nevertheless each entity is also listening, mindful of the other rhythms around it.

To such an embodied, and embedded, perspective, the enveloping world is encountered not as a conglomeration of determinate objects, but as a community of subjects – as a relational field of animate, active agencies in which we humans, too, are participant.

Magic and Shamans

Such an understanding of the animistic style of perception common to indigenous, oral cultures is necessary for comprehending the vital role played by shamans, the indigenous magic practitioners endemic to such placebased cultures. For if awareness is not the exclusive attribute of humankind – if, indeed, every aspect of the perceivable world is felt to be at least potentially alive, awake and aware – then there is an obvious need, in any human community, for individuals who are particularly adept at communicating with these other shapes of sensitivity and sentience. The shamans are precisely those persons who are especially sensitive and susceptible to the expressive calls, gestures and signs of the wider, more-than-human field of beings, and who are able to reply in kind. The shaman is an intermediary, a mediator between the human community and the more-than-human community in which the human group is embedded. This wider community consists not only of the humans, and the other animal intelligences that inhabit or migrate through the local terrain, but also the many plant powers that are rooted in the local soils – the grasses, and herbs (with their nourishing and medicinal characteristics, their poisonous and mind-altering influences), the trees with their unique personalities, and even the multiform intelligence of whole forests; it consists as well of the active agency and expressive power of particular land forms (like rivers, mountains, caves, cliffs), and of all the other elemental forces (the winds and weather-patterns, the radiant sun and the cycling moon, storm clouds and seasonal patterns) that influence, and effectively constitute, the living landscape.

The magic skills of the shaman are rooted in his or her ability to shift out of his common state of awareness in order to contact, and learn from, these other powers in the surrounding Earth. Only by regularly shedding the accepted perceptual logic of his culture can the shaman hope to enter into relation with other species on their own terms; only by altering the common organization of her senses is she able to make contact and communicate with the other shapes of sentience and sensitivity with which human existence is entwined. And so it is this, we might say, that defines a shaman: the ability to readily slip out of the collective perceptual boundaries that define his or her culture – boundaries held in place by social customs, taboos, and especially the common language – in order to directly engage, and negotiate with, the multiple nonhuman sensibilities that animate the local Earth.

As a result of his or her heightened receptivity to the meaningful solicitations of the wider community of beings, the shaman tends to dwell at the very periphery of the human settlement, at the very outskirts of the village or the camp. The indigenous magician’s acute sensitivities often render him unable to dwell, or even linger, in the midst of the human hubbub; only at the edge of the community is he able to attend to the exigencies of the human world while living in steady contact with the wider, and wilder, field of earthly powers. The shaman is thus an edge dweller, one who tends the subtle boundary between the human collective and the wild, ecological field of intelligence, ensuring that that boundary stays a porous membrane across which nourishment flows in both directions – ensuring that the human community never takes more from the living land than it returns to the land, not just materially, but with prayers, with propitiations, with spontaneous and eloquent praises. To some extent, every adult in the human community is engaged in the process of listening and attuning to the other presences that surround and influence daily life. Yet the shaman is the exemplary voyager in the intermediate realm between the human and more-than-human worlds, the primary strategist and negotiator in any dealings with these earthly powers. By his constant rituals, trances, ecstasies, and “journeys,” the shaman ensures that the relation between the human and more-than-human realms remains balanced and reciprocal; that the living membrane between these realms never hardens into a static barrier shutting out the many-voiced land from the deliberations of the human collective.

Further, it is only as a result of continually monitoring and maintaining the dynamic equilibrium between the human and the more-than-human worlds that the shaman typically derives his or her ability to heal various illnesses arising within the human community. Disease is commonly conceived, in such animistic cultures, as a kind of disruption or imbalance within a particular person, and yet the source of this disequilibrium is assumed to lie not in the individual person but in the larger field of relationships within which that person is entwined. A susceptible person, that is, may become the bearer of a dis- ease that belongs not to her but to the village as a whole. Yet the ultimate source of such community disequilibrium will commonly be found in an imbalance between the human community and the larger system of which it is a part. Hence the illnesses that beset particular individuals can be healed, or released, only if the healer is simultaneously tending, and “healing” the relative balance or imbalance between the human collective and the wider community of beings. The shaman’s primary allegiance, then, is not to the human community, but to the earthly web of relations in which that community is embedded – it is from this that his or her power to alleviate human illness derives – and this sets the local shaman apart from most other persons.

The term “shamanism” is regularly used, today, to denote the belief system, or worldview, of such cultures wherein the shaman’s craft is practiced. Yet this term is something of a misnomer, for it implies that the person of the shaman stands at the very center of the belief system and of the culture itself; it suggests that the shaman is revered or perhaps even worshipped by the members of such a culture. Yet nothing could be farther from the case. We have seen that the shaman is quintessentially an edge-dweller, a marginal figure, one who straddles the boundary between the culture and the rest of animate nature. It is not the shaman who is central to the beliefs of that culture, but rather the animate natural world in all its visible and invisible aspects – the expressive power and active agency of the sensuous and sensate surroundings. And thus the worldview of such a culture is not, properly speaking, “shamanistic,” but rather “animistic.” It is first and foremost in animistic cultures – cultures for whom any aspect of the perceivable world may be felt to have its own active agency, its own interior animation – that the craft of the magician first emerges, and it is in such a context that the shaman (the indigenous magician) finds his or her primary role and function, as intermediary between the human and more-than-human worlds.

The Contemporary Magician

Finally, a few words should perhaps be said, here, about the role of the magician in modern, technological societies. After all, the modern conjuror’s feats with rabbits, doves, or tigers hearken back to the indigenous shaman’s magical rapport with other species. Indeed, virtually all contemporary forms of magic may be shown to derive, in various ways, from the animistic mode of experience common to all of our indigenous, hunting and foraging ancestors – to the experience, that is, of living within a world that is itself alive. Moreover, it is likely that this participatory mode of sensory experience has never really been extinguished – that it has only been buried beneath the more detached and objectifying styles of per- ception made possible by a variety of technologies upon which most moderns have come to depend, from the alphabet to the printing press, from the camera to the computer. In the course of our early education, most of us learn to transfer the participatory proclivity of our senses away from the more-than-human natural surroundings toward our own human symbols, entering into an animistic fascination with our own humanly generated signs and, increasingly, with our own technologies. And as we grow into adulthood, our instinctive yearning for relationship with an encompassing sphere of life and intelligence is commonly channeled beyond the perceptual world entirely, into an abstract relation with a divine source assumed to reside entirely outside of earthly nature, beyond all bodily or sensory ken.

Yet even a contemporary sleight-of-hand magician still makes use of our latent impulse to participate, animistically, with the objects that we perceive. Magicians – whether contemporary sleight-of-hand conjurors or indigenous tribal shamans – have in common the fact that they work with the participatory power of perception. (Perception is the magician’s medium, as pigments are the medium for a painter.) Both the modern sleight-of-hand magician and the indigenous shaman are adept at breaking, or disrupting, the accepted perceptual habits of their culture. The indigenous shaman practices this in order to enter into relation and rapport with other, earthly forms of life and sentience. The modern magician enacts these disruptions merely in order to startle, and thereby entertain, his audience. Yet if contemporary conjurors were more aware of the ancient, indigenous sources of their craft (if they realized, for instance, that indigenous shamans from many native cultures already used sleight-of-hand techniques in their propitiatory and curative rituals), then even these modern magicians, too, might begin to realize a more vital, ecological function within contemporary culture.

In an era when nature is primarily spoken of in abstract terms, as an objective and largely determinate set of mechanisms – at a time when eloquent behavior of other animals is said to be entirely “programmed in their genes,” and when the surrounding sensuous landscape is referred to merely as a stock of “resources” for human use – it is clear that our direct, sensory engagement with the Earth around us has become woefully impoverished. The accelerating ecological destruction wrought by contemporary humankind seems to stem not from any inherent meanness in our species but from a kind of perceptual obliviousness, an inability to actually notice anything outside the sphere of our human designs, a profound blindness and deafness to the more-than-human Earth. In such an era, perhaps the most vital task of the sleight-ofhand magician is precisely to startle the senses from their slumber, to shake our eyes and our ears free from the static, habitual ways of seeing and hearing into which those senses have fallen under the deadening influence of abstract and overly objectified ways of speaking and thinking.

Yet perhaps such magic is also, now, the province of all the arts – the province of music, of painting, of poetry. Perhaps it falls to all our artists, today, to wield their pigments and their words in such a way as to loosen the perceptual habits that currently keep us oblivious to our actual surroundings. In any case, the craft of magic is as necessary in the modern world as it was for our indigenous ancestors. For it is only by waking the senses from their contemporary swoon, freeing our eyes and our ears and our skin to actively participate, once again, in the breathing cosmos of wind and rain and stone, of spiderweave and crow-swoop and also, yes, the humming song of the streetlamp pouring its pale light over the leaf-strewn pavement, that we may have a chance of renewing our vital reciprocity with the animate, manyvoiced Earth.

David Abram

Further Reading

Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Vintage, 1997.

Duerr, Hans Peter. Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary Between Wilderness and Civilization. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985.

Kane, Sean. Wisdom of the Mythtellers. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1994.

Lame Deer, John and Richard Erdoes. Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1968.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Colin Smith, tr. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962.

Nelson, Richard. Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Phillippi, Donald L. Songs of Gods, Songs of Humans. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1982.

Prechtel, Martin. Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.

Snyder, Gary. No Nature: New and Selected Poems. New York: Pantheon, 1992.

Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990.

Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall. Reindeer Moon. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

See also: Anarchism; Animism; Animism – A Contemporary Perspective; Bioregionalism and the North

American Bioregional Congress; Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front; Eco-Magic; Hundredth Monkey; Radical Environmentalism; Snyder, Gary.

Maimonides (1135–1204)

Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimun, also known as Rambam) is arguably the premier philosopher and theologian of Jewish history. As one of the most influential thinkers, Jewish, Christian or Muslim, of the medieval period, not only in theology but also in medicine and law, the ecological profundity of his work, long overlooked, is only beginning to be understood. Maimonides, uniquely in Jewish thought, challenged the primacy of humanity within the order of creation, asserted that there is complete equivalence between human and animal emotions, and believed that creation as a whole is the only dimension of being which has intrinsic value.

In his most important work, The Guide for the Per- plexed, Maimonides suggested a model of the cosmos that is parallel to the Gaia hypothesis. Maimonides admonished his reader, “Know that this whole of being is one individual and nothing else,” adding that the whole of creation is “a single being which has the same status as Zayid or Omar,” in other words, endowed with a heart and a soul (1:72, 184). In keeping with Aristotelian cosmology, Maimonides emphasized that all of the spheres of the heavens were “living beings, endowed with a soul and an intellect” (2:4, 259), yet with respect to the entirety of being, all the other spheres were seen by him as mere organs of the whole, while the outermost sphere was the heart of the cosmos.

For Maimonides, the idea that the universe was an organic whole was a fundamental scientific fact. This, according to Maimonides, led to a direct understanding of God’s relation to the world, for “[t]he One [God] has created one being” (1:72, 187; see also 2:1, 251). Maimonides believed that in order to develop the intellect “in God’s image,” one needed to understand this truth scientifically by studying the more-than-human world.

I have already let you know that there exists nothing except God, may He be exalted, and this existent world, and that there is no possible inference proving his existence, may He be exalted, except those deriving from this existent taken as a whole and from its details (1:71, 183).

Maimonides’ emphasis on natural theology laid the foundation for the development of scientific method in the West. In contrast with the Kalam school and with most theologians of his time, Maimonides asserted that “demonstrations . . . can only be taken from the permanent nature of what exists, a nature that can be seen and appre- hended by the senses and the intellect” (1:76, 231; see also 1:71, 179).

For Maimonides, this perspective also had direct metaphysical and ethical implications, for “the individuals of the human species, and all the more so the other species, are things of no value at all in comparison with the whole [of creation] that exists and endures” (3:13, 452). His ideas about the wholeness of creation profoundly influenced the Church, especially Thomas Aquinas, as can be seen in Summa Theologica (1a, q.47, art.1, 1:246) and Summa Contra Gentiles (part 1, ch. 64, 3:213, paragraph 10; also

3:212, paragraph 9).

Maimonides rejected the idea that humanity was the final end of creation, rejecting also the idea that other creatures exist to serve human pleasure: “It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes . . .” (3:13, 452). In this respect, his thought contrasts sharply with most other medieval Jewish thinkers, like Sa‘adyah Ga’on or Bachya ibn Paquda. Maimonides held that this was the view delineated within Genesis itself, explaining the word “good” used in chapter one of Genesis to mean that each creature has something like intrinsic value (3:13, 453). The phrase “very good” (Gen. 1:31), indicates the overwhelming value of “the whole.”

Maimonides arrived at this interpretation after concluding that there can be no telos for creation: “[E]ven according to our view holding that the world has been produced in time, the quest for the final end of all the species of beings collapses” (3:13, 452). In a later chapter, he derived a remarkable conclusion from this idea: “[T]he entire purpose [of God’s actions] consists in bringing into existence the way you see it everything whose existence is possible . . .” (3:25, 504). This formulation, fundamentally congruent with Spinoza’s cosmology, is also compatible with those who understand evolution to be “directed” toward diversity.

Maimonides held that animals and humans were equal in their capacity to feel and imagine. This understanding was integral to his interpretation of the commandments:

It is forbidden to slaughter [an animal] and its young on the same day, this being a precautionary measure to avoid slaughtering the young animal in front of its mother. For in these cases animals feel very great pain, there being no difference regarding this pain between [humanity] and the other animals. For the love and the tenderness of a mother for her child is not consequent upon reason, but upon the activity of the imaginative faculty, which is found in most animals just as it is found in [humanity] . . . (3:48, 599; see also 1:75, 209 and

2:1, 245).

Some modern interpreters have downplayed this passage by emphasizing another passage where Maimonides states that the prohibition against causing pain to animals is meant to create good habits in people (3:17). However, he is clear in that passage as well that compassion is enjoined for individual animals. In general, and in contrast with other philosophers and theologians, Maimonides minimized the differences between humanity and other animals. Maimonides also explained that instrumental reason by itself merely makes human beings into very dangerous animals (1:7, 33). He further taught that the instruction to “dominate” in Genesis 1 was neither a commandment nor an imperative, but merely a description of human nature (3:13, 454).

For Maimonides the uniqueness of human nature is found in the capacity to apprehend the divine. This is humanity’s perfection (1:1–2, 23–4) which only a few individuals reach. Yet even this quality, along with the “hylic intellect” (1:72, 190–1), makes human beings “merely the most noble among the things that are subject to generation,” since the spheres and the heavens far surpass humanity in their capacities (3:12, 443).

Much in Maimonides is also problematic for contemporary thinkers. As an Aristotelian, Maimonides had a strongly negative attitude toward the sense of touch (2:56, 371; 3:8, 432–3), which is incompatible with the phenomenological approach to the Earth that is taken by many eco-philosophers. In the same vein, he rejected imagination as inferior and espoused an intellectual elitism that remains controversial. Nonetheless, his rejection of anthropocentrism and espousal of a holistic cosmology are starting points for any eco-theology based on the biblical traditions. As we say in the world of traditional Jewish study, “From Moses [the prophet] to Moses [Maimonides], there is no one like Moses.”

David Mevorach Seidenberg

Further Reading

Maimonides, Moses. The Guide for the Perplexed. Moses Friedlander, tr. New York: Dover Books, 1980.

Maimonides, Moses. The Guide for the Perplexed, vol. 1 &

2. Shlomo Pines: University of Chicago Press, 1963. See also: Animals; Animals in the Bible and Qur’an; Aquinas, Thomas; Holism; Judaism; Spinoza, Baruch.

Makapansgat Cobble

What can be regarded as the world’s oldest known “art object” was found in 1925 in a cave at Makapansgat, South Africa. This small waterworn cobble of ironstone was clearly brought into the site from some distance away, and one can only assume that the Australopithecine (a type of fossil hominid) who did this around three million years ago was attracted not only by the cobble’s reddish color – red is the color most attractive to both apes and humans (as was shown by Desmond Morris’ experiments with Congo, the chimpanzee who liked to paint) – but also and especially by its entirely natural resemblance to a human face: one side has two symmetrically placed small cavities in it, like a pair of sunken eye-sockets, above a simple mouth. This “face” was in no way artificially manufactured, but its accidental resemblance to a face is so striking that it seems certain the object was noticed and brought back to a dwelling place as an important possession. This was a giant step for hominids – apparently they were seeing a face that was not a face, they were responding to an image, they were indulging in a primitive form of symbolism. The discoverer of the cobble, Wilfred Eitzman, a schoolmaster, speculated that it might have been “the god of these early people” or “their god or fetish.”

In most primates, a direct stare denotes self-confidence and the possible prelude to an attack by an aggressive individual, so that monkeys become disturbed when they are stared at or even just presented with drawings of two eyes. Chimpanzees have been known to avoid looking at a toy with large black eyes, while gorillas see the twin discs of binoculars as a threat. In other words, the face pattern with two staring eyes has specific meanings. Where humans are concerned, it is known that up to the age of three months, an infant has a tendency to smile when presented with a full human face, even that of a stranger.

In experiments, copies of the Makapansgat cobble have failed to elicit any significant response from apes; but apes are not Australopithecines, and since even chimpanzees have been observed to wear blades of grass and to paint parts of their bodies with white clay, as well as to hoard objects and carry single stones for several days, one can hardly doubt that Australopithecines were capable of similar behavior and much more. It can never be proved that that they saw a face in the Makapansgat cobble, but the balance of probability is surely that this stone was indeed seen as significant, since it was brought into the site; and that significance is most likely to have come not only from its color and shape, but also and primarily from its natural resemblance to a human face.

Paul G. Bahn

Further Reading

Bahn, Paul G. “Face to Face with the Earliest ‘Art Object.’ ” In Matthias Strecker and Paul Bahn, eds. Dating and the Earliest Known Rock Art. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1999, 75–7.

Dart, Raymond A. “The Waterworn Australopithecine Pebble of Many from Makapansgat.” South African Journal of Science 70 (1974), 167–9.

See also: Art; Paleolithic Art; Paleolithic Religions; Rock Art (various).

Makewana the Rainmaker (Central Malawi)

Makewana – literally meaning the mother of children, but intended to convey the meaning: mother of all people – was among the most powerful of central African rainmakers. Makewana presided over a rain/shrine complex that spread across much of central Malawi. Makewana was seen as having direct access to God; without her it was believed that there would be no rain and women would be barren. It is said that she could never cut hair because to do so would be to “cut the rain.” Her powers were so highly regarded that during the early part of the nineteenth century she received annual tribute from as far as modern Zimbabwe. The tribute was in the form of precious materials such as ivory, and it said that Makewana slept on a bed of ivory tusks that was covered with dark cloths to hide its whiteness. Nothing near Makewana could be white as this would affect the coming of the rain.

Oral traditions state that the first Makewana was a priestess named Mangadzi Banda who is said to have been the mother of Mwali, the wife of one of the early Karonga chiefs. It is said that Mangadzi stayed at Msinja. If we accept this, we can put a tentative date on the time of Mangadzi. The Karonga chiefs were of the Phiri clan, a clan who are credited with founding the first Malawi state. A combination of oral traditions, chiefly lineages and archeological evidence, has been used to argue that the Phiri clan were a group who arrived in Malawi from Luba country (in the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Mangadzi must therefore have lived at least five hundred years ago.

Matthew Schoffeleers has argued that the rain shrine complex was already well established by this time and has made the compelling argument that, for many centuries before the arrival of the Phiri clan, a rain shrine system had existed under the control of Mangadzi’s Banda clan. This could take the founding of the rain shrine complex as far back as the later centuries of the first millennium. Oral traditions state that the first rain shrine was on a mountaintop known as Kaphirintiwa and that it was only after many centuries that the shrine was moved down to the plain near Msinja where Mangadzi is said to have stayed. We can be sure that at Kaphirintiwa there would also have been a rain shrine and a rain priestess who would have conducted similar rites to those conducted in more recent times by Makewana, but we cannot be sure that these ancient Banda clan rain-priestesses were known by the name Makewana. I will confine myself here to what we know about the Makewanas who lived at Msinja in recent times, but I expect that much of this will hold true even for the early Banda clan rain priestesses.

Makewana was a spirit medium, the keeper of the Msinja rain shrine and a prophetess. When one Makewana died, the people would wait, sometimes for many years,

Mbiriwiri – The Sacred Rainmaking Drum

Mbiriwiri – literally the drum of good tidings – is a sacred drum that was fundamental to the practices of rainmaking in the central Malawi rain shrine system.

There are a number of accounts of the origins of the drum. Almost all agree that it originally belonged to the BaTwa – the former Pygmy inhabitants of central Africa. Some say that it was taken from the BaTwa by force in battle, others that it was found lying near the sacred pool of Malawi a few kilometres from the shrine of Msinja. That it is extremely old is beyond question.

Mbiriwiri is a cylinder-shaped double-ended drum. It is made of wood and its tympanums are made from monitor lizard skin (Varanus sp.). The monitor skin is symbolically important: the creature is associated with and shares the name of the supreme god – Chiuta. It is believed to live in the sky above the clouds and its falling to Earth brings thunder, lightning and rain. Half way between the tympanums is a hole that is closed with a plug. The sides of the drum are decorated with geometric designs that are not understood today. The designs echo those in the BaTwa rock paintings of the area.

The traditional keeping place for mbiriwiri was a special hut at the Msinja rain shrine, in central Malawi. In this it was stored resting on two poles and covered with dark (ideally black) cloth. Each year it was covered with reddish oil. The drum was only taken out of the shrine to be beaten at the start of the rainmaking ceremony or for repairs. Only a special functionary called Tsang’oma – meaning the beater of the drum – was allowed to handle the drum. Another functionary, Kapanga Banda, was charged with providing new monitor lizard skin for the drum when needed.

To start the rainmaking ceremonies, Tsang’oma (which is here an inherited title and does not refer to a traditional healer) would be called upon to beat mbiriwiri. The ceremonies would then last some days and if rain had not fallen by the end of the ceremonies then Tsang’oma would be blamed. He would be taken to a rock called Dzanzi several miles from the Msinja shrine, bound and his head wrapped in a black cloth so that he could not see. He would then be placed in a natural hole in the rock and a sharpened stake of hardwood would be driven into the top of his skull and down as far as his chest or sometimes right through his body. A tooth was taken from the body and placed in mbiriwiri through the hole in its side. It is said that the drum makes a distinctive noise when moved and that this is the sound of many teeth rattling inside it. The rattle is likened to the name: mbiriwiri.

When Ngoni invaders sacked the shrine at Msinja in the 1860s it is recalled that the Tsang’oma of the time fled with Mbiriwiri to a place inside Mozambique. While it was in Mozambique it seems that he had a squabble and this led to the drum being thrown down onto a large flat rock and broken. The man who broke the drum was executed. The drum was repaired and the teeth were replaced inside it. Today the drum is kept at a new shrine at a village called Tsang’oma, in Malawi. Today the drum is still kept on poles and covered in a dark cloth. It is never brought out into the open as it is said that the drum has become too powerful, and that if it were taken out there would be no rain.

B.W. Smith

Further Reading

Ntara, Samuel J. The History of the Chewa (Mbiri Ya Achewa). Weisbaden: Frank Steiner, 1973 (originally published in 1950).

Rangeley, William H. “Two Nyasaland Rain Shrines.”

Nyasaland Journal 5:2 (1952), 31–50.

Van Breugel, J.W.M. Chewa Traditional Religion.

Blantyre: Kachere Monograph 13, 2001.

See also: Pygmies (Mbuti foragers) & Bila Farmers of the Ituri Forest; Rock Art – Batwa/Pygmies (Central Africa); Rock Art – Chewa (Central Africa); San (Bushmen) Rainmaking. until another woman appeared at Msinja who was clearly possessed, who uttered strange prophesies and who could answer a set of secret questions. No Makewana could ever marry, as Makewana was the wife of God (Chiuta). When God came down to Earth to visit Makewana he would do so in his snake manifestation: Thunga. It is believed that Thunga most often took the form of the python and therefore pythons were kept in baskets within the shrine of Msinja. Once a year, at the culmination of the girl’s puberty rituals (chinamwali), Thunga would ceremonially sleep with Makewana and thereby bring fertility to the young maidens. In this ceremony a man named Kamundi Mbewe would stand in for Thunga. Kamundi also could never marry. Makewana could never become pregnant as to bear a human child would prove her infidelity to Thunga. Any Makewana who became pregnant was therefore killed.

Makewana’s hut was near the Msinja spirit shrine. The spirit shrine was a small round hut made out of grass that is said to have been a replica of the original shrine at Kaphirintiwa. Between the hut of Makewana and the spirit shrine was the hut of the sacred drum: Mbiriwiri. Around this sacred area was a large village made up of a network of functionaries who all serviced the shrine. It is said that no one at Msinja planted crops or worked so as to provide for their own needs; their sole job was to service the shrine. Their needs were provided for out of the tribute that was brought to the shrine.

Makewana was assisted in her duties by the Matsano – literally meaning the chief’s wives. The Matsano were a group of girls or women (oral sources disagree) who had felt the call to join Makewana. They lived in a series of huts behind the hut of Makewana. They were also known as the wives of God and were also not allowed to marry. Any man caught sleeping with a Matsano was put to death. Beyond the Matsano was the hut of Tsang’oma: the beater of the drum. It was the task of Tsang’oma to beat Mbiriwiri upon receiving Makewana’s command. This would be the signal for all to gather to witness Makewana prophesy or make rain.

The rainmaking ceremony was known as Mgwetsa. In this ceremony Makewana would go to a nearby pond called the pool of Malawi and she would submerse herself in the pool for three days. The area around the pool was sacred and only Makewana could go there. The trees around the pool could not be cut and no one was allowed to fish in the pool, drink or wash in it. All animals and birds around the pool were also sacred and protected. This pool is sometimes called the pool of the ancestors and it was thought to be one of the places where Thunga could appear. In the public part of the Mgwetsa ceremony Makewana and the Matsano (the exact role of the Matsano is contested) would dance and throw water into the air. Offerings, such as black animals, would be made at the shrine. It is said that there would be a torrential downpour even before the ceremony was complete. If rain did not fall then Tsang’oma would be blamed and killed.

The shrine complex declined in power in the late nineteenth century after it was ransacked by Ngoni invaders. Livingstone records that Msinja was in a very poor state in 1867 after repeated raids. At this time Makewana fled to the north. In the colonial period attempts to restore the shrine faced difficulties because the old tribute system that sustained Msinja could not be reestablished. A Makewana named Kandiwona is said to have appeared, but failed the tests and was therefore driven away. She remained in the area and married, but soon after burnt herself to death in her hut. Msinja is still a functioning shrine today though its influence is now limited and local. It becomes important only in times of drought. A recent keeper is a widow but she does not consider herself to be Makewana.

B.W. Smith

Further Reading

Morris, Brian. Animals and Ancestors: An Ethnography.

Oxford: Berg, 2000.

Ntara, Samuel J. The History of the Chewa (Mbiri Ya Achewa). Weisbaden: Frank Steiner, 1973 (originally published in 1950).

Rangeley, William, H. “Two Nyasaland Rain Shrines.”

Nyasaland Journal 5:2 (1952), 31–50.

Schoffeleers, J. Matthew. Guardians of the Land, Essays

on Central African Territorial Cults. Salisbury (Harare): Mambo Press, 1978.

See also: Kaphirintiwa – The Place of Creation (Central Africa); Pygmies (Mbuti foragers) & Bila Farmers of the Ituri Forest); San (Bushmen) Rainmaking.

Måldhåris of Gujaråt (India)

A Måldhåri (pronounced as Maa-l-thaa-ri, “th” as in the) is a semi-tribal pastoralist. The Måldhåris are primarily based in the arid to semi-arid regions of Sauråshtra and Kutchchh, including the protected Gir wildlife sanctuary area, in the state of Gujaråt, India. Mål connotes precious wealth; here, it is implied for the wealth of livestock – mainly buffaloes, cows, sheep, goats, camels, and horses – and dhåri means the one who has, keeps, or raises such wealth. There are nomadic, semi-nomadic, and settled (non-nomadic) Måldhåris. They have been known for raising high-quality and drought-resistant breeds of buffaloes and cows for their milk and its by-products.

The Chåran, the Rabåri, the åhir, the Bharwåd, the Mér, and the Kåthis are the major Hindu Måldhåris. There are also a few Muslim Måldhåris, such as the Makaråni and the Siddi, groups who earn their livelihood as Måldhåris. They all have diverse beliefs, myths, rituals, and festivals. Thus, the Måldhåris are primarily an occupational community rather than a singular religious or cultural group. However, it is this occupation and the resulting kinship, tangible and intangible relationship with livestock, spatial and biophysical transactions with place, traditional ecological knowledge, and myths that seem to tie them together. These themes also help us understand the relations between their religion (beliefs and values) and ecology.

While a large percentage of the Måldhåris engaged with livestock rearing are illiterate, most of them, especially those living in the Gir wildlife sanctuary’s forest area and its fringes, are very knowledgeable about the region’s natural patterns and processes. Sharing of skills, stories, and social norms takes place through intergenerational interactions around daily chores and simple acts of leisure like sitting and conversing around bonfires in late evenings. Everyone in the household plays a significant role in subsistence activities and maintaining cultural traditions. Through such lifestyle they have developed a strong bond with their mål, family, kin, other Måldhåris, the land, and the plants and animals found in their local area. Such interactions and the resulting bond often translates into reverence for both their cherished mål and nature, upon which their own way of life closely depends. Different Måldhåri groups share many religious traits.

There are references of them in the Hindu volumes of the Vedas, the Purånas, the Ramåyana, and the Mahåbhårat. They mainly worship and attend rituals and festivities related to the Goddess Durgå or Bhawåni who is worshipped in many different forms of local deities. They also worship Lord Krishna and, especially celebrate with grandeur his birth-date, Janmåshtami. In religious and cultural festivals they perform with devotional songs, group dance called garbå, and couple-group dance of rås. Their prayers and aarti (devotional offering) also acknowledge their reverence and gratitude for Mother Earth. For many Måldhåris bhom or bhoomi (the land, Earth) is a very dear entity. They worship and value it; they understand that their socio-economic worth is dependent upon it.

Myths and stories surround the origins of this people. It is commonly believed that the ancestors of the Måldhåris came to Gujaråt and particularly to the Sauråshtra region along with Lord Krishna when he moved from VrindåvanMathurå area (in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India) and established his rule with Dwårkå as its capital (in the western tip of the Sauråshtra peninsula). This is significant since many Måldhåris worship Lord Krishna (whose was also known as Gopål – the protector and keeper of cows) as their thåkur (lord or figurehead) or kul-guru (clan or ancestral teacher). Another story claims that the Måldhåris, as cattle herders, precede the times of Lord Krishna. It explains why they also worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Pårvati (or Bhawåni). According to this myth, Lord Shiva and Goddess Pårvati needed a keeper for their camel. Goddess Pårvati created a person out of clay under a Samadi (a Prosopis) tree and Lord Shiva gave life to it and was called Såmod. He was married to an angel named Rai and their descendents are the Måldhåris, particularly the Rabåris.

The underlying significance here is the deep-rooted, life-giving association with land and the nurturing capacity of trees or vegetation with the mythical overtones of gods, goddesses, and angels. Such myths provide a basis for reverence and continued faith in nature and power of supreme beings in giving life and sustenance. Such faith and values are then celebrated by the community in the folk-dances, especially garbå and rås, performed with gaiety and music around an idol of the goddess during the nine-night festival of Navaråtri. Such faith in and connection with nature are also reflected in daily religious performance (pujå) or family events around the year. Some Måldhåris, especially the Chårans, are bards and folk-singers. They share much of their wisdom and experience through folklores and folk-songs. Many of these expressions also have mythological and spiritual dimensions revealing their veneration for nature and God.

As Hindus they follow the lunar calendar and associate their religious practices with the full or new moon and changing seasons. Such association with temporal cycles also link them to the cosmic events that help them remember their place and role in the larger universe. Based on their experience with natural and human-created calamities and change, they believe that the ecological crisis results from lack of faith and immoral ways. At the same time they also believe that in this impermanent world, only their good karma, the fruits of well-performed duties, will go with them (their soul) when they die. Such grand perspectives are often manifested in their reverential attitudes and ethical behavior toward land, animals, people, and life.

From cultural celebrations and rituals to social traditions and economic practices they link their mål, the land, and gods or goddesses in a very intimate and often sacred manner. Often, they are seen as one and the same. What the Måldhåris believe from a “religious” point of view is often reflected in their views on nature and its quality. In a study on the Gir’s resource management issues and landscape quality, when asked about their views on nature, they typically described “Nature” as mother, their “very own soul” and acknowledged that “everything” is due to her. They are especially captivated by the Gir’s natural beauty and other values which, in turn, add to their respect for the land and attachment to their way of life. Many Måldhåris often pay respect to smaller shrines, trees, rocks, and some water-bodies of religious and cultural significance. A notable aspect of this relationship is their view that nature’s diversity is key to their very survival and emotional bond with the place. This is often manifested in their folklores as well as daily rituals. Such bonding needs to be understood better as it may prove to be vital for nature conservation.

All these rich cultural, social, and spiritual traditions and beliefs do not necessarily reduce the issues that the Måldhåris engaged with pastoral activities today face. They are similar to other pastoralists like the Gaddis in the lower Himalayas of North India or the Maasai pastoralists of East Africa. With increased focus on industrialization and urbanization, harsh climatic patterns, financial debts, and lack of insurance or extension facilities, their way of life is being marginalized. Many Måldhåris continue to abandon their traditional pastoral vocation and, willingly or otherwise, adjust and survive in an urban-industrial economy that is alien and often degenerating to them. This often leads to social and kin disintegration. Women and children usually get the rough end of the deal.

The world is facing many resource problems as well as spiritual perturbation, and these seem to be linked. The microcosmic life and times of pastoralists in general and the Måldhåris in particular reflect this reality. The Måldhåris’ way of life may also show a way out. Pastoralism brings these people in close contact with structure and functions of nature and nonhuman living beings. Time, intergenerational interactions, community interdependencies, stories and myths, rituals and festivals, disasters, uncertainties, simple joys, majestic settings, temporal rhythms, and relationship with the local and regional landscapes are the forces that hone their very body, mind, and soul. Therefore, a unique worldview and nature religion emerges that leads to ecological knowledge and valuable, environment-related skills.

Shishir R. Raval

Further Reading

Desai-Abdi, Roopa. Maldharis of Saurashtra – A Glimpse into Their Past and Present. Bhåvnagar, Gujaråt, India: Excel Industries Pvt. Ltd. and Suchitrå Offset, 1993.

Grim, John A. “Indigenous Traditions and Ecology.” Earth Ethics 10:1 (1998).

Raval, Shishir R. Perceptions of Resource Management and Landscape Quality of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park in India. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1997.

Vorå, Vasudev, S. Gadhavi and R. Vorå. (In Gujaråti) Måldhåri ni Vimåsan (The Dilemma of Måldhåri). Lok Yatra Series 10. Råjkot, Gujaråt, India: Hind Swaråj Mandal, 1990.

Wilberforce-Bell, Harold. The History of Kathiawad from the Earliest Times. London: W. Heinemann, 1916.

See also: Hinduism; India; San (Bushmen) Religion.

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834)

Thomas Robert Malthus was an Anglican clergyman, educator, and essayist whose ideas have exerted a powerful influence on Western thought in a number of areas, most notably demography, political economy, and biology. His most famous and controversial work, Essay on the Principle of Population (first edition, 1898), is considered one of the seminal sources of classical economics and strongly influenced other disciplines as well, notably evolutionary biology. At the heart of Malthus’ thought was a vision of nature that emphasized inevitable limits and persistent suffering, and as a clergyman he was obliged to contemplate the religious implications of this harsh conclusion. He did so by developing a distinctive theodicy, grounded in utilitarian thought, as well as an ethics of moral restraint aimed at controlling population pressures. And while some of Malthus’ views reflect the parochial concerns of his church and era, his general interest in the relationship between nature and religion resonate in contemporary debates about environmentalism, economic development, and human values.

The Principle of Population, Nature, and Society

Malthus’ most famous and enduring idea, the population principle, starts from two simple postulates. First, that food is necessary to human existence. Second, that the “passion between the sexes” stays at a constant level throughout human history. Recognizing that sexuality quickly begets children that must be fed, Malthus quickly builds to his famous principle – “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man” (1976: 21). Put in mathematical terminology, “population, when unchecked, increases in a geometric ratio . . . [s]ubsistence increases only in an arithmetic ratio” (1976: 118). Critics charged that Malthus did not have the statistical evidence to warrant such a precise mathematical equation, but his main point was well taken. Any population is naturally beset by a “struggle for existence” as various individuals and groups vie for limited resources. In human societies, Malthus argued that the principle of population frustrated any attempts at a comprehensive amelioration because population would always be racing ahead of society’s ability to nourish itself. For even the most civilized nations, especially at the lower strata, life was beset by “checks” – disease, vice, starvation, natural disasters, and other forms of misery – that painfully brought population back to levels that could be fed. Malthus thus opposed the optimistic hopes of reformers such as William Godwin, who felt that society free of crime, war, poverty, and disease could be achieved.

While Malthus believed that the population principle was a universal natural law, he recognized that its severity varied somewhat according to historical circumstances. In some societies, it brought on spectacular cycles of boom and bust, whereas in others it might only impact the lower classes during severe economic downturns. Ultimately, he hoped that his Essay would help decision-makers (government officials, parents, educators, etc.) put policies into place that would soften and reduce the checks, even though he felt very strongly that no society could completely eliminate them.

Nature then, for Malthus, was essentially composed of contradictory forces that vexed human existence (later thinkers like Darwin would apply this reasoning to all organic existence). On the one side was an expansive tendency linked to sexual reproduction that increased populations. On the other was limiting tendency (a finite food supply, the diminishing capacity of land to produce food) that led to deprivations, competitive struggle, and for many, early mortality. Small wonder that Thomas Carlyle would dub the classical economics that built from Malthus “the dismal science.” At the most fundamental level, nature guaranteed suffering and pain that even the most civilized and orderly societies could not eliminate.

The prescriptions to reduce suffering that Malthus offered made him a controversial and often reviled figure. He asserted that direct efforts to help the poor (welfare payments, etc.) were in vain because recipients tended to use the resources to have more children who ultimately would be vulnerable to the checks. Instead, he argued that the English poor laws should be reduced or eliminated and that “moral restraint” (sexual abstinence) ultimately would be a better curb to the population principle because it addressed the root of the problem.

Malthus and Religion

Malthus was educated during an era when many prominent British natural historians were Anglican clergymen. Although some of his early teachers came from dissenting traditions, his primary education (at Cambridge) and career (as a country minister in Surrey) were steeped in Anglican orthodoxy. Malthus’ thought was strongly marked by the era’s natural theology that argued “through nature up to nature’s God.” In the most general sense, natural theologians maintained that the natural world was the harmoniously and intelligently designed masterwork of a benevolent, caring, providential God.

But how could one reconcile the pain and suffering that extend from the population principle with the “power, goodness, and foreknowledge of the Deity”? Especially now that the scope of natural evil had been enlarged to include all populations, all societies? Malthus was much troubled by this problem and devoted two chapters of his Essay and later writings to developing a theodicy that encompassed the population principle.

According to Malthus, “The original sin of man is the torpor and corruption of the chaotic matter in which he may be said to be born” (1976: 118). Furthermore, life was to be considered the mighty process of God . . . for the creation and formation of mind, a process necessary to awaken inert, chaotic matter into spirit, to sublimate the dust of the Earth into soul, to elicit an ethereal spark from the clod of clay (1976: 118).

Thus the pressure articulated by the population principle was part of a great series of “excitements and impressions” by which the Creator, acting through “general laws;” awakened “sluggish existence.” At the level of human society, the cruel “checks” so seemingly incongruent with theism were the very means by which a benevolent God elicited thoughtfulness, preparation, diligence, moral excellence, compassion, and ingenuity – in short, those habits of mind and behavior that secured improvement. Ultimately, the rational thought and exertion developed to alleviate the “partial evils” brought by the population principle resulted in an “overbalance of good” that benefited society.

Malthus linked his theological views to a utilitarian philosophy holding that a good society maximizes pleasure and eliminates pain for the greatest number. Like other utilitarians, Malthus saw the gratification of passion and desire as the foundation of human happiness, and thus entirely natural and good, except when overindulged. Typical of Anglican utilitarianism of his era (which had little regard for birth control), Malthus felt that the greatest scope for pleasure would be secured by restraining and/or redirecting passion until sufficient resources could be secured to safely enjoy the pleasures of life, chiefly, family and moderate consumption. Thus throughout his writings, Malthus endorsed moral restraint, “dictated by the light of nature and expressly enjoined by revealed religion,” as the best means of addressing the population principle (1826: IV, 2, 19).


Malthus’ ideas, particularly after they were used to legitimize the rolling back of legal reforms designed to ameliorate the condition of the poor, became anathema to a variety of religious and political movements that championed the less fortunate. Radicals like Marx and Engels argued that Malthusianism was not so much a natural principle as a political ideology that inhibited the development of a more just, caring, and egalitarian society. According to this perspective, poverty and want were not rooted in “natural” conditions but in the greed and political shortsightedness of the more privileged classes. Liberal responses were more complicated. While most joined the radicals in rejecting Malthus’ pessimism about comprehensive social amelioration, many, following the lead of John Stuart Mill, acknowledged Malthus’ basic diagnosis of the human condition. Thus many liberals differed from Malthus only insofar as they held out greater hopes for increasing the production of food and/or regulating population through birth control and family planning – thereby tempering and perhaps eliminating the cycles of misery that plagued human history.

The relationship of religion to these anti-Malthusian trends is varied and complex. Many of the radicals dismissed traditional religion (revealed and supernatural) and Malthusianism as allied forms of reactionary political ideology – and perhaps could look to the popularity of Malthus among socially conservative Anglican clergy as suggestive evidence of this alliance.

Others, especially Christian socialists and religious liberals, insisted upon the rejection or modification of Malthusian pessimism in the name of ethical duties to help the poor and reduce human suffering. Likewise, much anti-Malthusianism sentiment emerges out of the loosely codified faith in progress that emerged during the Enlightenment. Thus in various utopian schemes and economic philosophies, poverty and want are not permanent social conditions but technical problems that can be solved or market inefficiencies that can be corrected – thereby transforming a suffering world into a place of peace, plenty, opportunity, and surplus.

Malthusianism and Environmentalism

With the rapid increases in human population over the course of the twentieth century (and projections for the twenty-first) many economists, environmentalists, and policy specialists, especially in the “limits to growth” camp, have revisited Malthus’ ideas and used them to frame contemporary discussions of overpopulation and food supply. Although these efforts generally include a strong emphasis on birth control and eschew explicit theological content, they are often infused with a moral and prophetic urgency, reminiscent of Malthus. For example, American biologists Paul and Anne Erhlich have repeatedly argued that the world is overpopulated and that food production in many regions is already at full capacity or environmentally unsustainable. They contend that the basic solutions to this potentially disastrous situation will entail a fundamental shift in human values and attitudes, especially those that concern reproductive behavior, economic growth, technology, the environment, and conflict resolution. In a more general way, writers like John Rohe and Garrett Hardin use Malthus to introduce contemporary discussions of natural limits, overpopulation, economic planning, and environmental management.

Malthus’ ideas are still widely discussed and debated by environmentally concerned people of diverse religious faiths. Perhaps his views remain current because his population principle framed some of the central concerns of human existence in ways that are easily grasped, yet powerful in their implications. The causes of human suffering, the limits to population, the consequences of sexuality, and the hope for a just and sustainable economic system all find articulation in his writings. A conscientious prophet for some, a reactionary ideologue for others, Malthus continues to cast a long shadow over discussions of religion and nature in the modern era.

Lisle Dalton

Further Reading

Hardin, Garrett. Living Within Limits. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Malthus, Thomas Robert. An Essay on the Principle of Population. London: John Murray, 1826. Sixth edition, based upon the second edition of 1803. Available online at http://www.econlib.org/library/Malthus/ malPlong1.html; accessed 28 May 2003.

Malthus, Thomas Robert. An Essay on the Principle of Population: Text, Sources, and Background Criticism. Philip Appleman, ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1976.

Rohe, John F. A Bicentennial Malthusian Essay: Conservation, Population and the Indifference to Limits. Traverse City, MI: Rhodes and Easton, 1997.

Winch, Donald. Malthus. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

See also: Abortion; Breeding and Contraception; Environmental Justice and Environmental Racism; Fertility and Abortion; Fertility and Secularization; Judaism and the Population Crisis; Population and Consumption – Contemporary Religious Responses; Population, Consumption, and Christian Ethics.

Mammy Water (West Africa)

Mammy Water is a Pidgin English name with different spellings (e.g., Mami Wata, Mammywater, Mami Wota, etc.) in West African coastal areas and near major bodies of water (e.g., rivers, lakes, and lagoons). The people refer to their highly localized divine waters as Mammy Water (e.g., Nigeria’s late Igbo novelist, Flora Nwapa, and the Yoruba musician and artist, Twins 77). A scholar, Mrs. Chinwe Achebe, wife of the Nigerian author and Nobel Prize nominee, Chinua Achebe, asserted that:

Nne Mmiri is a female deity with variants of local names, e.g., Idemili . . . With the arrival of Europeans to this part of the world, “Nne Mmiri” became known as “Mami Wota” – a translation which enabled the local inhabitants to communicate the existence and exploits of this female deity to foreigners (Achebe 1986: 15).

Foreigners were slow to accept the notion of a water goddess. The conquerors of territories were more interested in the Earth than in water. Together with the English name, a chromolithograph depicting a woman with long hair and snakes was introduced in the 1920s, spread quickly, gained popularity and is commonly identified as Mammy Water. Furthermore, native artists utilize the foreign image, an African icon, in their own renderings of water spirits, adding to an academic controversy.

The Academic Discourse on Mammy Water

A psychiatrist indebted to Judeo-Christian and Freudian interpretations of the icon’s snakes first explored connections betwee