Author Archives: Elderwoman
Beginning with an evocative quote from the Tao to set the ambience for the material that follows, this work creatively holds many diverse areas in an integral manner covering, with a commanding scholarship, such fields as economics, psychology, cosmology, ecology and spirituality. It also displays a strenuous commitment to issues of social justice combined with a path-breaking reflection on sustainability in a larger evolutionary context, exploring the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme in the context of cosmology. Continue reading
This book is a collection of the columns which the author has contributed over the last twenty years to the BBC Wildlife Magazine. The articles cover a wide range of subjects, including birds, animals, plants, water, the seasons, writers about nature, depictions of Nature in art, sculpture in the wild, Nature in the city, ecology and the future, plus a few columns from abroad. Continue reading
Ranging as it does from in-depth explanations of neuropsychological processes to personal stories from surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors and others, this book is so impressively comprehensive that it could easily have been subtitled ‘Everything you always wanted to know about our human relationship to water and lots more that you never even imagined.’ Continue reading
As an environmental lawyer, Canadian writer David Boyd knows full well that much of the environmental news these days is bad news. However he also knows that although news tends to make more compelling headlines than good news, there is good news to be found. Although we have a very, very long way to go, it is a fact that: From air pollution to safe drinking water, from greener cities to renewable energy, we’ve made remarkable but widely underacknowledged progress. And his aim was to document as many examples of this kind of good news as he could fit between two covers. Continue reading
‘Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation For Conservation’ by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler (Editors)
As John Terborgh points out in his Foreword: One of the great challenges to be faced by conservationists now and in the future will be that of clarifying in the public mind the distinction between ecosystem services and biodiversity protection. A program can, in some cases, provide both. In this book we hear the voices of several dozen conservationists from around the world, including well-known spokespeople like Jane Goodall and George Monbiot, about how these challenges are being met.
SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva
This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book. Continue reading
Ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, there have been many more books on our desecration of the environment in the name of materialist profit. There is a massive amount of data in this book, also, about the harm we are doing to our Earth, but it is presented here in a readable way. And despite this despairing message of the Earth in peril, the final 80 pages of this book provide a guide to ways each individual can make a positive contribution to survival. Continue reading
This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell–unlike us–in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers “…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire.” It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book. Continue reading
An inspiring collection of personal stories, told by sixteen people who are each, in their own individual ways, involved in working towards what Joanna Macy calls ‘The Great Turning,’ i.e. the movement away from the madness of our materialist, militaristic, industrial culture and towards the sanity of living sustainably and co-operatively on our planet. Continue reading
In a collapsing world, it is no good surviving physically unless we can also survive—and help each other survive—emotionally and spiritually, and the aim of this book is to help us do just that. The first two-thirds of the book describe and explain, in 109 easy-to-read, wisdom-packed pages, the psycho-spiritual preparations that need to be made for the collapse that has already begun, and why, even though the collapse may be a long, slow process, it is so vital that we start making them. The last third consists of a carefully-chosen set of 52 weekly ‘meditations’ – in the sense of quotes and thoughts to be pondered upon – all geared towards helping us deal with the collapse of our old world whilst also saving and guarding the seeds we hope to plant in the new one that will—we hope—eventually rise from the ruins.
‘Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms and Communities Worldwide’ by Juliana Birnbaum & Louis Fox
After an impassioned Foreword by Paul Hawken and some excellent explanations of Permaculture principles and ethics, this colourful and lavishly illustrated book takes us on a tour around the entire globe visiting no fewer than sixty different—and all equally inspiring—projects based either directly or indirectly on Permaculture concepts. These range from desert reclamation in the hottest, driest area in Jordan to the re-establishment of forest in India to educational urban farms like Melbourne’s Ceres and from long-established communities such as Findhorn on the north coast of Scotland to a newly-established eco-village in Kenya. Continue reading
With her whole-hearted commitment to celebrating the Earth and its cycles, Glennie Kindred delves into the living tradition of our Celtic ancestors and arrives at a magnificent collection of sacred ceremonies based on the eight Celtic festivals: the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the four cross-quarter points of Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas and Samhain. However, the celebrations in the collection are not in any way fixed or immutable; for her …they help us to discover more about ourselves and our intrinsic connection to Earth. Glennie believes we are free to celebrate the festivals in whatever way we choose, and her book is packed with suggested ways to do just this.
‘The Herbalist’s Bible: John Parkinson’s Lost Classic Rediscovered’ by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal
The Herbalist’s Bible is a translation of a description of fifty of the 3,800 herbs outlined in John Parkinson’s ‘Theatricum Botanicum’. Parkinson, master herbalist to Charles 1, published his ‘Magnum Opus’ in 1640. It was never reprinted and is now an extremely valuable rare book. The recent publication of The Herbalist’s Bible makes this valuable contribution to the literature of Western Herbalism accessible once more. Unique amongst many herbal reference books, this book contains reproductions of the original manuscript complete with detailed line drawings, alongside a modern translation, including descriptions of therapeutic applications illustrated with high quality photographs. Continue reading
‘Occupy Spirituality’ is a superb dialogue between two important contemporary progressive Christian thinkers and activists. Though the subtitle partly suggests the book is focussed on the younger generation, there is nothing within the pages that is not relevant to us all, to the times in which we live and to the materialistic greed, bigotry and complacency that is bringing about the greatest spiritual crisis human and more-than-human life have ever faced. If this gives the impression this might a negative read, then it would be a wrong one. The book is truly inspirational. This is a spirituality that is prepared to get its hands dirty, to do something and work towards positive changes. Continue reading
As the title suggests, this is not a book about climate science. It’s about humans and the weird but inescapable fact that we, as the species whose actions have contributed so heavily to climate change, seem utterly incapable not only of addressing the issue but even of admitting that it exists. Why? Why don’t we all join the dots and amend our lifestyles to lower carbon emissions? Marshall is convinced that the real answers to do not lie in the things that drive us apart so much as the things we all share: our common psychology, our perception of risk, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. This book, the result of years of research, provides a full and fascinating explanation of this phenomenon and what we might do about it. Continue reading
By lighting up the Earth to the point where hardly anyone gets to see the stars any more we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of an experience that should be their birthright—but which, after a few generations, nobody is going to know is even possible. Also, since all living beings evolved on a planet where nights are dark, we are unthinkingly disrupting countless ecological systems and cycles that have existed since life began.
This book chronicles its author’s journey across the USA in search of really dark skies and his conversations with those he met along the way, including astronomers, who face increasing challenges from light pollution, and urban planners who are starting to look at how we might light our cities and towns more subtly and sustainably in order to preserve the darkness our bodies—and our souls—actually need for good health.
Sustainable World Sourcebook: Critical Issues, Viable Solutions, Resources for Action (4th Edition, 2014)
If you wanted a comprehensive yet succinct overview to present to someone with scant knowledge of social/environmental issues, to anyone interested in sustainability, or to a group looking for action ideas and/or discussion topics, this would be your perfect resource book. It is, in fact, a practical and inspirational one-stop shop for all things green. It covers social justice, energy, climate change, economics, communities and all aspects of the environmental issues that our world is currently facing. Inspirational and potentially attitude-changing. Continue reading
‘Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence’ by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola
We recognize the familial bonds we have with other animals, for like us they all have eyes and a heart and a brain and, despite vast differences of form, we are all variations on a theme. But a plant—well that is ‘something else.’ It is sedentary, fixed in place, lacking internal organs, lacking a face. To our anthropocentric human minds, plants are either commodities or decorations. We don’t see them for who they actually are: fellow beings with whom we and all other life forms share the vast co-operative adventure called life on Earth. For in fact, plants process information, just as we do. They sleep and wake, just like us. Like us, they can see, feel, touch and remember. They can also communicate with each other and with other organisms They just do it differently, that’s all. Continue reading
I have not always been a fan of Russell Brand’s comedy; the little I heard did not strike a chord with me. And so I was surprised to read his book Revolution which is both refreshing and insightful. Rather like the Court Jester of the Middle Ages who had the King’s ear – Russell Brand is the modern day Jester – telling us how things really are and prodding us to change. Continue reading
Most of us are unaware of the extent to which humans are destroying the ecosystems of our planet’s vast seas and oceans. But for David Helvarg, who loves the sea and loves to swim and surf and dive and really interact with the water—and who is also a trained journalist with deep passions and an enquiring mind—there is no way to ignore the tragedy that is happening in that vast, salty realm and to all who live there, from the tiniest krill to the largest whale. And no way to shirk the task of telling the world about it.
This is not simply a book about trees. It is a book about you and me and all of us and how we can draw on a reservoir of help and energy that we might not even realize is available to us—i.e. the help and energy of those silent, deeply-rooted companions whose presence we all tend to overlook.
‘Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World ‘ by Eric Dietrich
Have we not always been led to believe that religion is the purveyor of mysteries and all that is supernatural rather than natural? And have we not learned that science destroys mystery by discovering truth? In fact, as Dietrich—professor of philosophy at Binghamton University—so thoroughly and competently explains, religion is actually a biological phenomenon, a property emerging from the process of human evolution. Meanwhile science, we have all discovered, is what destroys our mysteries and reveals to us all that is real about the world. Continue reading
This would be a good book for study in schools because it offers scientific and technical information about ecology, sociology and psychology at a level that is very accessible. The author, a Scottish environmentalist, relates this to the inner life and thence the outward actions of all of us. Essentially, it’s a book about climate change and the human mind-set that has brought it about but continues to deny any responsibility. It also gives us constructive suggestions for a way forward. Continue reading
‘Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea,’ by Carter Phipps
We have, as a human race, to combat climate change, over population, the destruction of species and more. These have to be addressed collectively by humans, no one country or group can go it alone. How can we do this? This book provides sign-posts, sometimes answers, sometimes questions, but at least broad pointers to the ways in which we can integrate an overarching story to help us to address the pressing issues of today.
In the summer of 2010, Caroline Brazier co-led a week-long eco-therapy group in her Buddhist community’s retreat centre in the French countryside. At the conclusion of the week, she began to write down her thoughts and reflections. In her words, “This book is the result. An account of a group and of a summer, interwoven with the ideas and therapeutic theory which framed our work, it is an invitation to share, to join the exploration and to experience the process of engagement in a healing relationship with nature.” Continue reading
‘Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organisations & Society’ by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski & Betty Sue Flowers
I’ve always wondered what manner of ‘profound change’ it would take to alter how individuals think and act. Individuals make up society; if enough of them did change, that would mean society itself would undergo some kind of transformation. Thus it was with great curiosity and anticipation that I waded in and began absorbing the discerning logic and experiential wisdom the four experts had woven in and out of all kinds of background qualifications and assembled into one gigantic platter of prescriptions for how to make sense of who we are, how society functions, the consequences of our interactions and the kinds of scenarios that result because of the choices we make, both personal and public, at all levels of human conduct. Continue reading
Finally, I suggest that this book is for women just as much as for men. Partly because, as Matthew rightly says, we all have our inner masculine and inner feminine to honour. And also because the more understanding and dialogue there is between the sexes, the more chance there is for a sacred union between these two polarities. Although as he says, the dance between the two polarities never ends; they need to be in creative tension. Continue reading
Sheila’s book, Towards Wisdom, is in part autobiographical, exploring the author’s own journey of personal and spiritual growth through the membership of various groups and circles in which she has taken part over the years. It details the techniques and practices used in each of these and how they might be used by other groups or individuals, particularly groups of women entering — or already in — the second half of their lives. Continue reading
How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think. Continue reading
‘Hope for Humanity: how understanding and healing trauma could solve the planetary crisis’ by Malcolm Hollick and Christine Connelly
As can be verified from Google, it has often been said that “what we do to the planet we do to ourselves.” An even more chilling thought, however, is that what we humans do to ourselves we may also do to the planet. A significant proportion of us have, today and throughout our history, routinely inflicted the most horrifying suffering on each other, on scales from the individual to genocide, despite widely spread contrary teachings from the major religions and despite – or maybe because of – the power and sophistication of our mind. So what is it about Homo sapiens that makes us the scourge both of other species and of our own? Continue reading
“Ever felt stuck?” asks the publisher of this highly accessible book. “Here is an approach”, they claim, “..that helps us overcome obstacles, improve our relationships, supports our values, and moves us towards our goals.” For once, I’m pleased to say, the publisher’s blurb has not overstated its case. Continue reading
Jesse Wolf Hardin’s book bears an accurately descriptive title. Gaia, the living, conscious, inspirited Earth, and eros, the love of the Earth. Gaia Eros – Earth love. Its thirty-eight small chapters felt to me more like a collection of love poems than a series of essays. Unconnected by a logical, progressive unfolding of ideas, each is complete in itself like musical variations on a theme – the theme of Earthly love. Continue reading
The Kids’ Book of Awesome Stuff is filled with information, ideas, and activities to develop awareness in children that they are “…part of a wonderful web of life.” Grounded in scientific facts – including explanations of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion, evolution, photosynthesis – the book is engaging and inspiring and should leave any receptive young reader enthralled and sparkling with enthusiasm. Charlene Brotman’s accessible style and creative use of activity-based, interactive learning techniques combine with Jelia Gueramian’s friendly illustrations to make this book a treasure for children and adults alike. Continue reading
At the core of this book is a profound understanding of the state that Jocelyn Chaplin sets out to evoke, being in “the flow”, which lies within us all but which in the West is hard to make contact with and live from. Rooted in her childhood spent in the Sudan and Ghana, and her adult years as a political activist, scholar, artist and psychotherapist, her writing succeeds in synthesising all these strands of her life. Continue reading
This book opens with words from the Tao Te Ching “He who knows he has enough is rich” … and then continues … “We have some evolving to do. And quickly. We need to develop a sense of ‘enoughness.’” Continue reading
Emma is head of the international Druid Network and the author of ten books. She teaches courses worldwide, and lectures at universities and conferences on Druidry, environmentalism, healing, and women’s spirituality. Continue reading
‘Green Spirituality: One answer to global environmental problems and world poverty’ by Chris Philpott
From GreenSpirit member Chris Philpott comes a book, many years in the making, that is a compendium of attitudes and sources of wisdom about the spiritual basis of what it is to be green. In an inspiring Foreword, the author, scientist and activist Vandana Shiva suggests that this book could help us to rediscover what she calls a ‘spiritual sheet anchor.’ Continue reading
It is very appropriate that this book should have appeared in Darwin’s year (2009) and I started to write this review on the 150th anniversary day of the publication of The Origin of Species. Continue reading
When I was a child, everyone went to church (or chapel) on Sundays, or so it seemed. Spirituality and religion appeared synonymous. That is so no longer. The winds of change have blown hard in my lifetime, and you and I now live in a predominantly secular society – one of many in the Western world. But there is another strong weather pattern coming up against the wind. Religion may be in decline, but spirituality has never been so much in evidence. In a culture that now worships at the shopping mall yet comes away empty-hearted, there is a swell of yearning for a deeper connection – or a reconnection – with the sacred. Continue reading
Readers of GreenSpirit will be profoundly aware of the ecological stress now facing our planet as a result of human action, and of the call which many of us feel, to respond by embracing the earth more closely, connecting with it more intimately, so that we can know in our bones what is happening and respond more with our whole being. Many of us also feel that the underlying cause of what is happening is the progressive loss of any meaningful worldview within our society. Continue reading
This is not the first book I have read on the subject of simple living, but it is as yet, the only one which tackles the psychological implications of making life changes in as much depth as the practicalities. We all have some resistance to change, especially when the outcome runs counter to the attitudes and values prevalent in our materialistic society. To summon the energy and willingness to do this requires both awareness and effort (qualities which the author has aplenty). So, if you are willing this book could be a useful companion. Continue reading
Neale Douglas Walsch has probably done more than anyone in this last couple of decades to assist people in outgrowing their infantile images of ‘God’ as some old, judgmental, sky-dwelling patriarch in a nightie, and replace them with something closer to the Perennial Philosophy. His Conversations with God series of books and tapes has been remarkably popular, not least because his main tool is humour and he uses it so well. Continue reading
GreenSpirit member Adrian Smith sees the journey away from unquestioned tradition as forking into two slightly different paths. Continue reading
The story of this book is miraculous in itself. The fable and the message it so clearly contains date from over a thousand years ago. The origins of the story were Indian, but it was actually written down for the first time in the tenth century C.E. in Arabic by a Sufi order. It has since circulated through most of the Eastern religions; this edition is the first one in English. I found out about it through Isabel Carlisle, who converted it into play form and has used it in schools over the last few years. Continue reading
The overall theme and objective of this book is to illustrate that Jesus of Nazareth was green. Grabill shows, from a study of biblical translations direct from the Aramaic and quotations from texts long ago eliminated from the bible by church politicians, that Jesus would probably be at the forefront of the green movement were he alive and teaching today. Continue reading
The old mechanistic paradigm under which most of us grew up has trained our thought habits so thoroughly that those of us struggling to express an ecocentric worldview often find ourselves literally at a loss for words. For example, we hear ourselves using phrases like ‘walking outside in Nature,’ even though we know that Nature includes us also, whether outdoors or in. We talk about ‘caring for the planet’ as though it were a thing and separate from ourselves. And if finding a vocabulary for ecocentrism is hard, how much harder is it to live it? Continue reading
Like most people in the Western world, I’d had little or no exposure to Shinto, the ancient, traditional spirituality of Japan. It was never included in my mental list of wisdom traditions and, I am now ashamed to say, if I thought about it at all I’d dismissed it as merely a set of rituals that Japanese people traditionally observed out of habit rather than conviction. How wrong I was. Continue reading
‘Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow and Jazz in the Soul’ by Robert Forman
At the beginning of his book, Forman points out that: “the thought that you can be utterly ego-less , that you can remember to attend to your thought processes often enough to change them, that your guru is utterly egoless, that your everyday life is or will be complete and entirely easy and that these are or should be our goals, has been a damaging fantasy, at best, and counter-productive at worst…it is high time that we turned around and looked squarely in the maw of our own daydreams.” Continue reading
BBC presenter Peter Owen-Jones puts his finger right on the spot when he describes Mark Townsend as “a priest on the edge.” As he reminds us, edges are always the places in the biosphere where we find the most diversity and the greatest creativity. In the noösphere, the same applies. The edge is where one finds people bold enough to move out of comfort and familiarity, to seek, to question and to birth new ideas. Continue reading
Sally Andrew is a sublime storyteller. Her brand of delightful whimsicality is so captivating that I predict she is headed for literary fame in the coming years—and not only in her homeland of South Africa, either. Meanwhile, right now, her energy and passion are channelled into raising awareness about climate change and the need for urgent action to avoid eco-catastrophe Continue reading