Relighting the Cauldron: Embracing Nature Spirituality for the Modern World is a book about connections. Primarily, it examines our connection to Nature. For many, this connection is tenuous. Yet through spiritual practices and exercises we can strengthen this bond which is beneficial to healing ourselves on all levels - physical, mental and spiritual. It is also about creating healthy and respectful connection to one another; recognizing ourselves as allies to those who value and revere Nature as the highest expression of Divine Source.
This book is about connection to ancestors. Each human is here today because of those who came before us. Our ancestor’s influence on us and our descendants, both for good and for ill, carries on whether we are conscious of that or not. By making these relationships conscious, we can heal negative ancestral and cultural patterns that cause massive personal and societal disconnection and suffering. Finally, it is a book about creating connection to spiritual sources of strength available to those who dedicate themselves to a Nature-based path with access to the mystic and otherworldly. This allows for a firm connection to Spirit that grounds and deepens our spirituality so that it may stand firm and nurture us during this fearful time of global climate change, economic disparity, and political polarization.
This book grew out of my experience attending the gatherings of the Parliament of the World’s Religions; first in 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then in 2018 in Toronto, Canada. I had the privilege of participating in and witnessing the profound possibilities that can take place when devoted spiritual people from different backgrounds, religions and traditions, put their differences aside to come together with the intention of healing humanity’s planetary ills. I was struck by the presence of many Indigenous people who gathered from across the Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, in order to share their practices, music songs, wisdom and beliefs. They were united in the conviction that now is the time that we humans must radically change the way we live and take a unified stand to defend the planet from the madness and destruction of modern life. Ours is a paradigm that is depleting resources, creating enormous human suffering, and endangering the balance of delicate biospheres, not to mention Indigenous homelands, cultures and ways of life. The chorus at the Parliaments centered around the message that Western people have to “learn to listen,” and be willing to be led by them, the people who have kept the sanctity of the Earth as their sacred duty since the dawn of the time. This, in spite of centuries of cultural and actual genocide.
This message resonated with me strongly due to my own background. With an undergraduate degree in anthropology, and as an ordained interspiritual minister and counselor, I have years of practice in Nature-based traditions. My background has enabled me to identify commonalities among those who practice Earth-based spirituality: Beliefs, practices and worldviews that amplify a connection to Nature’s healing power. I also recognize that these communities sometimes view each other with distrust and skepticism; challenges that must be overcome if our environmental advocacy is to be effective. These include the divisions inherent in the modern paradigm that maintains destructive systems of racism, sexism, colonialism, and materialism. These systems deplete our individual and collective health, sever our connection to Source, and disrupt the planet’s health and balance.
This book includes interviews from practitioners from a variety of Nature-based paths: Modern Pagans, Afro-Caribbean traditions of the Diaspora, Eastern traditions such as Taoism, various living shamanic paths, and others inspired by New Age beliefs. Nature-based spirituality goes way beyond the idea of being good “stewards” of the Earth. It is the deeply held understanding that our lives are intricately dependent on the life and well-being of Earth Mother Herself. Earth-based people the world over realize the Earth as a conscious entity whose core can be seen as a cauldron of internal fire vital for the maintenance of all sentient life. The occult maxim “As above, so below,” then applies. By cultivating our own vitality and life-force, whether we call it “Prana,” “Qui” or “Aché,” we reclaim this fire for ourselves. We can then connect with and unite with others doing the same thing, thus transforming the Earth. This is how we can collectively shift the paradigm and become effective agents of change.
One particular ceremony which I witnessed during my time at The Parliament gathering in Utah solidified this idea. It was held outside at the large teepee where Indigenous people gathered throughout the event. There, grandmothers from all four corners of the world came together in sacred ceremony to honor the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. This ancient prophecy from the Amazon says that at some time in the past, humanity split into two paths, that of the Eagle and that of the Condor. The Eagle path represented the way of the Northern hemisphere, embodying the masculine path of Logos - mind, industry, outward strength, individualism and materialism. The Condor path represents the Southern Hemisphere - the feminine path of Eros, the path of the Heart, self-less love, intuition and community. The prophecy stated that the start of this split coincided with the coming of the European people to the Americas. Over the next 500 years, the Eagle side of humanity would become so strong it would threaten to extinguish the Condor side.
In time, there was to be an opportunity for both people to come together bringing about a necessary rebalancing. At this time, both great birds, both wings of humanity, would fly in the same sky. This event would necessitate the rising of a new consciousness, a consciousness that acknowledges the inherent wholeness of our being and our interdependence with all of life and the Earth. The people who took part in that ceremony deeply believe this time is now upon us. This book is for all you who also believe that time is now.