Earth Path: Grounding our Spirits in the Rhythm of Nature

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From time immemorial, artists and poets, prophets, and shamans have drawn strength and inspiration from walking the earth. In The Earth Path, bestselling author Starhawk takes the reader on a journey into the heart of the natural world, showing how we can have a more intimate connection with the world that surrounds us.

Institutionalized religions have sacred texts — messages written in holy books that are the inspiration for their beliefs and rituals. But the sacred texts for ...

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From time immemorial, artists and poets, prophets, and shamans have drawn strength and inspiration from walking the earth. In The Earth Path, bestselling author Starhawk takes the reader on a journey into the heart of the natural world, showing how we can have a more intimate connection with the world that surrounds us.

Institutionalized religions have sacred texts — messages written in holy books that are the inspiration for their beliefs and rituals. But the sacred texts for Wicca, like other ancient native or indigenous traditions, are written in nature — in the magic circle of the elements: air, fire, water, and earth. With The Earth Path, Starhawk, an activist, ecofeminist, and leader in the women’s spirituality movement, places you in the center of that magical circle. As you become attuned to the rhythms of the earth, your thinking will shift from focusing on isolated objects to marveling at the multitude of interconnecting patterns and relationships in nature. These patterns and connections can hold the key to your own spiritual renewal and restore your sense of responsibility for preserving this world that nurtures and sustains us.

Filled with awareness exercises, inspiring meditations, and magical rituals, The Earth Path not only teaches the reader to respect the ecology of our natural world, but shows how to spiritually connect with and channel the powers inherent in nature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans and followers of Starhawk (The Spiral Dance; etc.), a founding member of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, will welcome her latest offering. Well organized, each chapter contains reminiscences of personal and group experiences, exercises and suggestions for prayer and ritual. Many of her tenets apply not only to those interested in the practice of Wicca but to readers seeking a better understanding of the world around them: "Once we have learned to hear, then we can begin to understand. And only after we understand do we begin to speak, to intervene." Yet she astutely cautions: "To change a drum rhythm in a group of drummers, you first have to match it and join with it. But when you are within a system, part of the whole, that system is also changing you. It is difficult to maintain your own rhythm and not simply become part of what you are trying to change." Starhawk presents an array of exercises and practices for sharpening observation and listening skills. She engages readers' spirits and minds through her illustrative storytelling, offering ways to communicate more fully with the world and suggesting ways to act. While those unfamiliar with her passion for protest may find themselves distracted by the all-too-frequent appearance of her political soapbox, they will appreciate her tools for connecting with nature. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060000929
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,252,098
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Starhawk is the author of nine books, including her bestselling The Spiral Dance, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and Webs of Power, winner of the 2003 Nautilus Award for social change. She has an international reputation, and her works have been translated into many different languages. Starhawk is also a columnist for and ZNet. A veteran of progressive movements who is deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism, she travels internationally, teaching magic, the tools of ritual, and the skills of activism. Starhawk lives part-time in San Francisco, in a collective house with her partner and friends, and part-time in a little hut in the woods in western Sonoma County, where she practices permaculture in her extensive gardens and writes.

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Table of Contents

List of Exercises, Meditations, and Rituals vi
Acknowledgments ix
1 Toward the Isle of Birds 1
2 Seeds and Weapons: How We View the World 15
3 The Sacred: Earth-Centered Values 29
4 Creation: What Every Pagan Should Know About Evolution 41
5 Observation 50
6 The Circle of Life 70
7 Air 76
8 Fire 97
9 Water 131
10 Earth 156
11 The Center: The Sacred Pattern 185
12 Healing the Earth 215
Notes 231
Select Bibliography 238
Resources 243
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First Chapter

The Earth Path
Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature

Chapter One

Toward the Isle of Birds

On a hilltop in the coastal mountains of northern California, I meet with my neighbors just before sunset on a hot day in July to go to a fire protection ritual. All summer long, our land and homes are at risk for wildfire. In the winter, we get eighty to a hundred inches of rain in a good year, and trees and grasses and shrubs grow tall. But no rain falls from June through September, and in summer the land gets dry as tinder. A small spark from a mower, a carelessly tossed cigarette, a glass bottle full of water that acts as a magnifying lens can all be the beginning of an inferno that could claim our homes and lives.

We live with the constant risk of fire, and also with the knowledge that our land needs fire, craves fire. This land is a fire ecology. All the trees on it evolved in association with forest fires. The redwoods, with their thick, spongy bark, withstand fire. The madrones and bay laurels and tanoaks resprout from root crowns to survive fire. Fire once kept the meadows open, providing habitat for deer and their predators, coyote and cougar. Fire kept the underbrush down, favoring the big trees and reducing disease. The Pomo, the first people of this land, burned it regularly to keep it healthy. As a result, the forest floor was kept open, the fuel load was reduced, and fires were low and relatively cool. But now the woods are dense with shrubby regrowth, the grasses tall and dry. A fire today would not be cool and restorative, but a major inferno.

Below us is the small firehouse that belongs to our Volunteer Fire Department. We can look around to the far horizons and see our at-risk landscape. Deep canyons are filled with redwoods and Douglas firs, with bay laurel and madrone and vast stands of tanoak filling in the open spaces left where stands of giant conifers were logged a hundred years ago and, again, fifty years ago. The tanoaks are bushy, with multiple small stems that create a huge fire hazard. Big-leaf maples line the stream banks, and black oaks stud the open hillsides where fifty years ago sheep grazed. Tall stands of grasses in the open meadows are already dry and ready to burn. Once the meadows would have stayed green all summer with deep-rooted native bunchgrasses, but a century of grazing favored invasive European grasses that wither quickly in the summer heat. Small homes fill the wrinkles in the landscape, most built twenty years ago by back-to-the-landers out of local wood and scrounged materials. On the high ridges, we can see evidence of the latest change in land use, a proliferation of vineyards. Behind us is a huge fallen tree -- a remnant of the 1978 wildfire that started just over the ridge and burned thousands of acres.

We begin by sharing some food, talking and laughing together, waiting for everyone to arrive. Then we ground, breathing deeply and with great gratitude the clean air that blows fresh from the ocean just a few ridges over. We imagine our roots going into the earth, feeling the jumble of rock formations and the volatile, shifting ground here just two ridges over from the San Andreas fault. We feel the fire of the liquid lava below our feet, and the sun's fire burning hot above our heads.

We cast our circle by describing the boundaries of the land we wish to protect-- from the small town of Cazadero in the east to the rancheria of the Kashaya Pomo in the north; from the ocean in the west to the ridges and gulches to the south of us. We invoke the air -- the actual breeze we can feel on our skin; the fire, so integral to this landscape yet so dangerous to us now; the water, the vast ocean now covered in a blanket of fog, the sweet springs that feed the land; the earth herself, these jumbled ridges and tall forests.

In the center of the circle is a small bowl. One by one, we bring water from our springs and pour it into the vessel. My neighbors know exactly where their water comes from. Each of us has spent many hours digging out springs, laying water pipes, fixing leaks.

"This is from a spring beyond that hill that flows into Camper Creek that flows into Carson Creek that flows into MacKenzie Creek that flows into Sproul Creek that flows into the South Fork of the Gualala River ..."

We offer the combined waters to the earth with a prayer of gratitude -- great gratitude that we live in one of the few places left on earth where we can drink springwater straight from the ground.

The Earth Path
Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature
. Copyright © by Peter Starhawk. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2005

    Earth Path

    I'm halfway through this book. I initially was researching paganism when i found this book and it instantly caught my attention. The book is really well written and easy to follow, i find myself smiling constantly with the little insights she interjects. Great Read, Can't wait to get to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2009

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