Category Archives: Health and wellbeing

‘The Handbook of Bach Flower Remedies for Animals’ by Enric Homedes

This is a most welcome book as in my experience animals respond extraordinarily well to Flower Remedies and it will give confidence to many people who would like to use them on their pets. Continue reading

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‘Love Letter to the Earth’ by Thich Nhat Hanh

It has been said before that we will not protect what we do not love. In this sweet book, Thich Nhat Hanh not only shows his love for our beautiful planet, but fully explains how the planet is lovable. He reminds us of Earth’s many blessings and leaves us with practical examples of how it behoves every one of us to create a loving relationship with her. Continue reading

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‘Stories of the Great Turning’ edited by Peter Reason and Melanie Newman

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

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‘Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path to Self-Discovery’ by Mark Coleman

This book describes itself as offering a path of self discovery in Nature. There is an introduction by Jack Kornfield, who commends the author for providing a way to: be joyful, see anew, be amazed. It has about forty sections, mostly of three or four pages, with a short teaching session, followed by guidance for a meditation. Continue reading

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‘Nature’s Due: Healing Our Fragmented Culture’ by Brian Goodwin

For Brian Goodwin, intelligence, meaning and subjectivity are inherent in nature, not restricted to the human realm. As a scientist, Goodwin is well equipped to show us how this can be so, though he calls on folk stories as well as scientific studies to help him convey the message. His argument equally implies that all our stories, arts and other cultural creations also arise from the endlessly inventive, emergent, unpredictable reality which is Nature. Continue reading

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‘People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities’ by F. Kaid Benfield

As well as easy access to the places we go to for shopping, services, leisure and socializing, human beings need comfort, cosiness, connectedness, clean air, beauty, lovability, safety, atmosphere, diversity and other subtle qualities of place that are hard to name but which we all recognize with our hearts. This book is about turning our existing cities into dense, mixed-use urban environments with high ‘walkability,’ excellent public transit, cycle paths etc., along with greening and revitalizing run-down neighbourhoods and finding ways to retrofit existing suburbs to cope with changing demographics, changing work patterns and dwindling natural resources. Continue reading

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‘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

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‘Rewild Yourself: Becoming Nature’ by Rachel Corby

In recent years, as modern life causes more and more of us to become emotionally disconnected from the Earth upon which all our lives depend, we are realizing that it is not just the land we live in that needs rewilding but our own selves. This means finding ways to break down all the artificial boundaries that we humans have tried to place between ourselves and the rest of Nature. It means recognizing that we are—and always have been and always will be—an intrinsic part of the Earth, cells in the body of a living planet. Furthermore, it means re-learning how to live our daily lives out of that knowing. It means coming back ‘down to Earth’ in the truest sense of that phrase: consciously re-immersing ourselves in every way possible in the natural world that surrounds is, both without and within. That way lies healing—for ourselves and our planet. Continue reading

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‘Sweat Your Prayers: Movement As Spiritual Practice’ by Gabrielle Roth

Gabrielle Roth’s dance system or ‘the five rhythms’ isn’t about definite steps, but about responding directly to music and moving however you feel. The five rhythms are supposed to be the five basic types of process which underlie all music, even though they are often found mixed together. Continue reading

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‘Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth’ Edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way. Continue reading

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‘Don’t Even Think About It: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change’ by George Marshall

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

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‘A Brush With Nature: Reflections on the Natural World’ by Richard Mabey

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

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‘The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ by Iain McGilchrist

This is one of the most important books that I’ve read. I heard Iain McGilchrist talking about it on the radio when it was first published and just knew I had to read it. It’s a weighty tome (both in size and content), covering both the structure of the brain and how the brain’s structure and function has shaped Western culture. McGilchrist is eminently suited for the task, as he taught English at Oxford University before training as a psychiatrist and is therefore able to express complex ideas in simple, attractive ways. Continue reading

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‘Wild Mind: A Field guide to the human psyche’ by Bill Plotkin

Plotkin, an eco-psychologist and wilderness guide well known for his earlier books Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, turns his attention now to a complete and holistic re-visioning of psychology. Rather than focusing on pathology and dysfunction as most psychologists—except perhaps the Jungian ones—have done, his focus is on wellness. Not just wellness in the sense of being ‘normal’ and well-functioning but in the much wider and deeper context of our existence as just one species among many and just one aspect of ‘all-that-is.’ Continue reading

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‘The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light’ by Paul Bogard

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.
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‘Blue Mind’ by Wallace J. Nichols

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

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‘Breathe into Being: Awakening to Who You Really Are’ by Dennis Lewis

This book is a good introduction to that most fundamental constituent of our life, breathing. It is short, with 75 brief chapters, most of which contain practical advice and a breathing exercise, plus many wise words on embodied spirituality.
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‘Working with the Labyrinth: Paths for exploration’ by Ruth Sewell, Jan Sellers and Di Williams

Interest in working with labyrinths is on the increase and this book is written to give interested people ideas about how to develop them–in both portable and permanent forms. Examples in the book include labyrinths in hospitals, schools, universities, hospices, spiritual centres and public spaces. The book also covers personal development issues such as the use of labyrinths for stress management and self-care. Continue reading

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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

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‘The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future’

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

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‘Becoming Animal: An Earthy Cosmology’ by David Abram

An essential first step in repairing the damage we have done to the planet and to ourselves may be to go back to basics and, literally, to come to our senses.
Not only must we fully re-inhabit our animal bodies but we must also become aware of our vital interconnectedness with all other creatures. And for tutoring us and inspiring us in these twin tasks I have never met a better teacher than David Abram. Continue reading

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‘Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice’ by Cormac Cullinan

South African lawyer Cormac Cullinan describes all the ways in which human laws and governance systems need be designed to promote human behaviour that contributes to the health and integrity not only of human society, but also of the wider communities, and of the Earth itself. Continue reading

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‘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

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‘A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle: Revelations of Indigenous Wisdom–Healing Plants, Practices, and Stories’ by David Young, Robert Rogers and Russell Willier

 pbk 328 pp               North Atlantic Books 2015  ISBN: 978-1583949030    Reviewed by Richard Adams ___________________________________________________________________________________ Russell Wilier is a North American healer. He was born in northern Alberta into the largest group of first Nations people in Canada – the Cree. … Continue reading

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‘Come Down to the Wood’ by Judith Bromley

Judith Bromley’s book is unlike anything I have ever read. I would say that I have experienced it rather than read it. As she led me through the seasons of a single year, I found myself wanting it not to be autumn but to continue to be summer. I found myself engaged in the process of gauging the height of the sun, and the point in the valley where the sun never shines. I felt really glad that the populace don’t have access to ‘our’ wood, and that it remains undisturbed and sacred. Continue reading

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‘Soil, Soul, Society: A New Trinity for our Time’ by Satish Kumar

Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Ghandi, Rabindranath Tagore and E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar outlines a spiritual vision of sustainability in which we can learn from Nature as well as about Nature. Offering practical guidance for how we can achieve this vision, Satish teaches that only love and reverence and not fear will lead to long term sustainability. Continue reading

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‘The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew’ by Penny Billington

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.

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‘The human in the Universe’ (Kindle edition) by Niamh Brennan

This ebook is about the Universe Story (the story as revealed by science from the Big Bang to the present day) and how it can inspire us in our lives and help to create a better world. Continue reading

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‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ by David Abram

Part personal story, this book begins among the bright green terraced rice paddies of Bali as the author sets out on a study tour through Asia to document the relationship between magic and medicine. Rather than travelling as an academic, he goes simply as a magician, using his own well-developed magic skills to make a collegial connection with the various sorcerers and shamans he meets along the way. Soon, however, he begins to discover the deeper truths of the shamanic role in community, which is to be the knowing, sensing bridge between the community and the greater reality, both psychic and organic, in which all our human communities are embedded. Continue reading

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‘Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding’ by George Monbiot

Rather than seeing the bare hills of mid-Wales as beautiful in their remoteness George Monbiot sees them as ruined, ‘sheepwrecked’ landscapes and re-imagines them as they once were—and could be again—thickly forested and rich with wildlife. His biggest dream is the restoration to completeness of fractured ecosystems by the eventual re-introduction of the wolf, the lynx and other large mammals to our British landscapes in the same way as this is already being done in other parts of Europe and in certain areas of North America. Continue reading

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‘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.
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‘Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life’ by Richard Louv

Dazzled and seduced by 21st century technology, our children—and we ourselves—tend to spend so much time staring at screens nowadays that there is no time left for a walk in the woods, for gazing dreamily into the night sky or even for enjoying some peace and silence. Following on from Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, this third book from Richard Louv is a huge and marvellous collection of ideas and resources aimed at getting families of all ages back outside and interacting with the rest of Nature. Continue reading

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‘The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder’ by Richard Louv

Whereas Louv’s earlier book Last Child in the Woods pointed out the problem of Nature- Deficiency Disorder in children, Louv’s new book The Nature Principle points out that adults themselves can suffer from the same disorder—and many already are. Though we tend to forget it, we too are animals; we co-evolved with the natural world and we need it as much as ever. Being isolated from green and growing things predisposes us to a range of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, behaviour disorders, depression and a lack of connection with community and place. We ignore these warnings at our peril. Continue reading

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‘All Our Relations: Green Spirit Connections with the more-than-human world’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain

A book that specifically honours all those other life forms with whom we share the planet. They are all our relations. How we treat them, how we perceive them and feel about them and interact with them – and the extent to which we respect them is a measure of our true humanity and a measure of our true worth. Continue reading

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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

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‘Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness’ by Mary Reynolds Thompson

The thoughts and emotions that are stirred awake in us when we walk in a desert landscape have a different quality from those engendered by a walk in the depths of a forest. Different again are the ideas and images that come to mind when we marvel at a mountain peak or stand in a high place and look across a valley. And when we gaze out at the ocean or sit on the bank of a fast-flowing river or find ourselves in the middle of a grassy field, the inner scene changes again. In this unusual book, Mary Reynolds Thompson studies these deep connections between the Earth’s primary landscapes and what she calls the ‘soulscapes’ of our inner lives and how this connection can be used for emotional healing and spiritual transformation. Continue reading

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‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

It is so easy to become fearful, isolated and despondent about the enormity of the environmental and social challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing. This book tells us how we can sustain ourselves through these challenges and live positive, compassionate and hope filled lives Continue reading

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‘The Universe Story In Science and Myth’ by Greg Morter and Niamh Brennan

This book describes our planet’s whole evolutionary journey from the Big Bang to the present day, as revealed to us by science. It then goes on to explain why the story is so relevant for our time and to discuss some of the many inspirations we can draw from it. Continue reading

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‘Urban Acupuncture’ by Jaime Lerner

Most urban spaces and buildings in the West are designed and built with no sensitivity whatsoever to these subtle energy currents. Which is why Jaime Lerner’s book is called ‘Acupuncture’. It is all about bringing life back into dead spaces and restoring the flow of energy to places where it has been blocked or stifled. Lerner, who was three times mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and is also an architect and a popular advocate for sustainable and liveable urbanism, describes how some city planners have worked to restore life and dynamism to ailing urban areas.
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‘Re-enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World’ by William Ayot

William defines ritual as activities that bring about a change: “symbolic actions through which we can give our soul or psyche an important message”. He says that from ritual we can receive clear and potent messages; have a sense of belonging, but most importantly receive the gift of connection with Nature, with the other-than-human. Ritual can put us in direct connection with the mysterious, the numinous, the Other. Continue reading

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‘Climb up to the Moor: Moorland Life through the Seasons of the Year.’ Words and pictures by Judith Bromley with selected paintings by Robert Nicholls

This book about the moorland of the North Yorkshire National Park is a feast for the senses. Everyone reading it will certainly want to experience the moorland as Judith has. She walks there in every season: observing, watching, writing and painting. Each month she describes the impact on all of her senses of what is above her head, below her feet and within her field of vision. By itself the language that she uses paints glorious pictures in our minds, but the written words are accompanied by stunning paintings of the places she describes. Continue reading

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‘Feeding Orchids to the Slugs: Tales from a Zen Kitchen’ by Florencia Clifford

Working as a Zen cook in a Buddhist centre in Wales, this author begins to learn more about who she really is, not just through being part of the community but also through creating and serving meals. This is a beautifully-crafted book, part personal journey, part reflection on life and part cookbook Continue reading

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‘The Triumph of Seeds: How grains, nuts, kernels, pulses and pips conquered Nature and shaped human history’ by Thor Hanson

Just as William Blake talked about seeing the world in a grain of sand, Thor Hanson is able to see the whole world in a seed. And through his writing, he opens that world to us. From the tiniest, almost invisible seed of an epiphytic orchid to the forty-pound coco de mer, seeds come in all shapes and sizes and colours and employ an amazing diversity of methods for dispersing themselves and finding their way to somewhere they can germinate and grow. On that search and that settlement of seed into soil, now rests the whole of life on land—our own human lives included.
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‘Other Than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind’ by Kamalamani

The decision to have – or not to have—children, says this author, is “a private decision with global consequences.” Her book is intended to help those who are involved in making the decision whether or not to remain childless and includes all genders, creeds, cultures and the different reasons for considering this. Her greatest inspiration came from Stephanie Mills’ graduation speech, during the time when the population explosion began to cause concern. Stephanie said, “I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is have no children at all.” Continue reading

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‘Healing this Wounded Earth: with Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope’ by Eleanor Stoneham

The book is a call to action – to heal our wounds and our fractured society, and most importantly halt the violence we are inflicting on this planet before it’s too late. The author points out that, through increasing urbanisation, most of us have lost contact with the land and the soil and as a result part of our soul has died. She writes from a Christian perspective but draws on the wisdom of other religious traditions as well. She assures readers that her message is for those of all faiths or none: what matters is that they possess ‘the honesty of intention’ She tackles big questions such as how we move into a new era of social responsibility, lay the foundations of a just society and reform our economic system so that we value people and not money.
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‘Earth Calling: A climate change handbook for the 21st century’ by Ellen Gunter and Ted Carter

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

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‘Saved by the Sea: Hope, Heartbreak and Wonder in the Blue World’ by David Helvarg

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.
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‘Nature Spirituality from the Ground Up: Connect with Totems in Your Ecosystem’ by Lupa

This author is an ecopsychologist with a counselling practice, and her specialty, which she describes as ‘bioregional totemism’ takes a much wider and more holistic approach than many of her colleagues. She calls it a self-created, spirit-centred neoshamanic path. It begins with a reminder that everything we touch came in some way from a natural source and that: …even living in the middle of the city, I spend every moment immersed in nature. ” Continue reading

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‘Farming to Create Heaven on Earth’ by Lisa Hamilton

American writer and photographer Lisa Hamilton had been investigating global food production for many years when in 2003 she was invited by Shumei, a Japanese spiritual organisation (shumei.org), to interrogate their approach to farming, Natural Agriculture. Continue reading

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‘The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth’ by Bruce Lipton

This book about the dynamics of intimate relationships and their potential as a vehicle for personal growth has two things that make it different from other books on relationships: (a) it is written by a biologist and underpinned by science, and (b) it addresses the connection between personal love and planetary healing. Continue reading

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