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Nature Religion: Reuniting Religion and Nature

By John Halstead

[Snip] What is a Nature Religion?

The terms “nature religion”, “earth religion” and “earth-centered religions” are used more or less interchangeably to refer to those religions which are defined primarily by their relationship to the natural environment. Not all forms of Paganism are nature religions. The category of nature religions includes many indigenous religious, those forms of Paganism and feminist spirituality which are concerned primarily with nature generally or with the local bioregions specifically, those forms of neo-animism and neo-shamanism which view humans as a non-privileged part of a more-than-human community of beings, and those forms of environmental protest that Bron Taylor calls “Deep Green Religion”.

Michael York writes that nature religions share “a this-worldly focus and deep reverence for the earth as something sacred and something to be cherished.” According to York, nature religion is part of a wider post-modern protest against the modernist separation of nature and the sacred. There is a fundamental theological divide running through most religions separating matter from spirit. York calls these “gnostic” religions, which he contrasts with “nature religions”. In the latter case, nature is neither fallen nor a prison from which we must escape.

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