The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature

The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature

by Starhawk


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060000936
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/11/2005
Series: Plus Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 333,740
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.56(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

The Earth Path

Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature
By Jonathan Starhawk

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Jonathan Starhawk
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060000937

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.

Alexandra has made our fire charm -- a circle of bay laurel branches with a triangle lashed within. The triangle is the symbol of fire; the circle represents containment and also the cycle that we know someday needs to be restored. One by one, we come forward and tie on branches we have each brought from trees on our lands. Redwood, from a giant that has withstood many fires. Tanoak, suffering now from a fungal disease that fire might have cured. Madrone, of the beautiful peeling red bark, and buckeye in flower. They are as familiar as our human friends. We know them intimately, know when and how they flower and seed, have watched many individuals grow from seedlings. Some of my neighbors planted these hills after the 1978 fire, worked the creek beds to slow erosion, thinned and released the woods time after time. They know the boundaries of the soil types and the history of each patch of the woods. Ken and Alexandra bring small, uprooted firs, pulled out from a patch on their land where they grow far too thickly for any to get enough light to grow healthy and strong. Once fire would have thinned them -- now people do. We add herbs and flowers from our gardens.


Excerpted from The Earth Path by Jonathan Starhawk Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Starhawk.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
AmericanWomanAdvocate More than 1 year ago
Continuing her style of narration--combining personal experience with historical information, Starhawk has put together a beautiful, simple book on working with nature, and the elements of nature. Her focus here, however, is in integrating ourselves not only with the nature traditions, but also with the voices within the world. She aslo speaks of the difficulties of living this balance in an increasingly unbalanced world. Whether it is Monsanto's highly unethical (but perfectly legal) practice of suing organic farmers whose fields are contaminated by the company's hybrid seeds, or how the scientific community scoffs at the "Gaia theorists" and terms like magic and witchcraft. There are also several rituals throughout the book, which discuss working with specific natural elements (and the spirits therein). It is written in Starhawk's typical, straight-forward, yet passionate, tone that she lay the groundwork for her in her audio book, Earth Magic. A must-read for anyone who cares about the planet, no matter what your beliefs might be.
Cherrywood More than 1 year ago
This book really put how much we need the Earth into perspective for me. Before I read this I though, oh, nothing bad is happening. People are just over reacting. But now I see that you can help the Earth in manyyyy ways. And most of them are easy peasy. Also, this book tells you how to connect with nature, and see that you are a part of it. Not seperated like most peole think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD! No one who reads dthis book will be unchanged. Starhawk is a great writer, Witch, eco-feminist, and my HERO!!!
Hairflower More than 1 year ago
I guess I was looking for something a bit more useful, on the context. I got tired of reading about how in CA they do this and that. Who cares after hearing it once, I can remember what I read.... I just did not want to read about someone elses life, persay.... I wanted to read how to become more one with the earth and the things I can do to help with my enviroment, in the areas I can manage. I got some good concepts but most of them are for small knit cumminities of home area in CA..... well the rest of us do not live there... With the stream, or the hillsides. or the ominate fire dangers. I was not reall impressed. I am looking for something to help me figure these things out.
meraud More than 1 year ago
loved it. simple straight forward ways to reconnect with your surroundings.also makes you think about your impact on the enviroment and how unconnected we have become
earthlistener on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The somewhat smaller then usual print in the book made it somewhat more difficult read, I still found the book worth it. This book by Starhawk looks into ways of reconnecting both spirituality and physically back with the earth. Earth Path is not just a book about earth based spirituality; it¿s a book about how to eat, breath, and sleep earth based spiritual views throughout life. The author, Starhawk also talks about her personal experiences both on a personal level and a environmental level. This book is a long and careful read, but it a good one.
quantumbutterfly on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Starhawk is perhaps one of the best known of modern Pagan authors and certainly has been around for a long time, having originally publishing The Spiral Path in 1979. Her work has taken her far into the realm of political activism and earth healing, which are featured prominently in this book. She looks at the elements through a general lens of neowicca, and how they apply to personal as well as world-wide lives. Working with the classical elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, Starhawk gives details instructions as to how to connect further with the land around us and to start healing the damage that has been done by so many years of disconnection from the natural world. While you may not agree with her politics, the exercises for establishing those connections can be used by anyone who is looking to incorporate such work into their spiritual practices.
hearthfirecircle on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I was dissapointed that there weren't more practical suggestions for how to incorporate earth centered activism into my life. I tired of the appocalypic theology. However, her simple suggestions of spending time in the wilderness to observe and understand is extremely important and useful.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this as a nook book, listed as being out in January, and yet I can't read it on my nook. I'm giving this 5 stars even though I have yet to read it, as I don't believe it is the author's fault. I do feel a bit miffed at B and N though.