The Sacred Earth edited by Jason Gardner – July BBBR

The Sacred Earth: Writers on Nature and Spirit
Edited by Jason Gardner
New World Library, 1998
172 pages

This month’s Bargain Bin Book Review is a collection of quotes from various nature writers’ previously published works, ranging from Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold to Thomas Berry and Paul Shepard. The general theme is spirituality, and what makes Nature sacred; however, the many ways in which “sacred” manifests for the writers are lovely to read. The book is divided into four sections: experience, texture, practice, and belief, and this creates a nice progression of thoughts from one subtheme to the next.

The editor, Gardner, made some very nice selections. Some, like Leopold’s “green fire” in a dying wolf’s eyes, are fairly well-known. However, he also did some digging into more obscure works from some of the writers, and while hardcore environmentalists may be familiar with most of the writing, there were some surprises for me, and no doubt for other readers as well. The topics that the writers covered included all of Nature, from animals and plants, to the weather, to the stars and other heavenly bodies. Yet while many of the quotes spoke of connection and immersion in Nature, and even identification with it, a few spoke of personal disconnection, and distraction, and wishing for better connection. And, of course, the general cultural disconnect from Nature found in the United States was critiqued a number of times. But it was the ones that showed that even these dedicated writers had their off days made me feel better for not being connected to Nature 24/7.

This would be a lovely collection for those pagans for whom Nature is the central part of their paganism. There’s a wealth of quotes for inspiration, and perhaps even for ritual recitation. However, it’s the imagery conveyed in the words that really touched me, and this didn’t require formal meditation, or ritual practice, to appreciate. This is one of those books that you can pick up and open at random, and find something lovely inside.

Five pawprints out of five.

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