Rev. Shirley Ranck

The Grandmother Galaxy

Home / Session 3 – The Environmental Imperative

Session 3 – The Environmental Imperative

Resources:  Spiral Four

Materials:  Journals and pens; newsprint and marker; a plant, flowers, or sea shell on the chalice table.

Chalice Lighting:  Light the chalice and read the poem by Homer on page 95.

Reflections:  Allow up to five minutes for questions and comments that may have come up since the previous session.

Introduction:  Read or present in your own words the following:  Spiritual traditions which honor the earth—our second imperative as we continue into this new century.  Our problem with the earth has much to do with our fear of death.  In the old agrarian traditions death was a natural part of the life cycle.  The dead became part of the rocks and the trees and the rivers.  As male gods took over in mythology and men took over in society, they perceived the old Goddess of transformation and death to be the most dangerous aspect of the old religions.  She was the crone, symbol of the fierce old woman.  She had to be destroyed so that death could be conquered.  Recycling was no longer good enough.  We had to escape the cycle and live forever in some supernatural realm.   Earthly life became but a preparation for eternal life.  Gradually the earth, this life, our physical bodies, all became denigrated, compared unfavorably with the life of our so-called immortal souls.

Our challenge is to reclaim this earthly, bodily life as sacred, as the only precious life we have.  We need to reclaim the image of the Old Woman who brought transformation and death as a part of the cycle of life.  We need to stop seeing ourselves as immortal souls separate from the rest of life.  That means we have to stop pitting ourselves against nature because we can’t win that way.  To destroy the resources of the planet is ultimately to destroy our own life support system.

Journaling:  Have the following questions on newsprint:

  1. What does it mean to you to perceive the earth as sacred?
  2. What is your favorite connection with the natural world—mountains, ocean, animals?

Allow about ten minutes for the writing.  Put responses on newsprint and discuss.

Break

Information:  Read or present in your own words the following:  Perceiving the earth as sacred means taking seriously our own seventh principle: that we affirm respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  Sophia Lyon Fahs was a woman who stood on the threshold between the old world-view of patriarchy and violence, and an emerging scientific world-view of cooperation and peace.  Well-known as a leading Unitarian religious educator, she created a renaissance of wonder for many hundreds of children and teachers of religion.  She was also a major thea/ologian, perhaps not recognized as such because she was a woman.  Fahs was a woman who was not afraid to question.  If you read Chapter 7, you will see how she challenged the biblical tradition.  She also did something else: she looked to the sciences for help in understanding her world.  She discovered and wrote about interdependence decades before we proclaimed our seventh principle. In 1952 Fahs wrote, “Scientists are developing a growing respect for all living things, and have discovered that cooperation with nature rather than ruling over it leads to humanity’s larger good.  We live in one world where not only are all people related but the total cosmos is one interdependent unit in which all the smaller units from human to animal, from vegetable to mineral, and on down to the tiniest particles of electrons and protons, mesons and photons in the cosmic rays, are of one kind.  Altogether we are a unified cosmos.”

Journaling:  Have the following question on newsprint:  How have you been influenced by the sciences?  Allow about ten minutes for writing.  Put responses on newsprint and discuss.

As part of the discussion tell the group that the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans was organized in 1987 to affirm and celebrate pagan or earth-based spirituality.

Extinguishing the Chalice:  Extinguish the chalice and read the following:  “Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe: I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.  For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.  From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.  Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold—all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.  Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.  And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not unless you know this mystery: If that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.” (in Starhawk, 1989)