Category Archives: Nature Study

‘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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‘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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‘Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals’ by Nathan H. Lents

As twigs from the same branch of the same family tree, we have the same instincts, the same repertoire of feelings, the same traits, and many of the same behavioural tendencies as many other species. Such qualities as fidelity, loyalty, morality and altruism are alive and well amongst our quadripedal relatives and the lines dividing us from them are in fact very thin ones. This compact and comprehensive book describes many feelings and behaviours our non-human relatives share with us such as those relating to justice, sex, love, fear, grief, envy and jealousy. This is a readable, interesting and straightforward book backed up with an extensive collection of scientific references. Continue reading

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‘Eyes of the Wild:Journeys of Transformation with the Animal Powers’ by Eleanor O’Hanlon

An epic, personal journey to meet whales and wolves, bears and wild horses, guided by outstanding biologists and other observers who are renewing an ancient way of connection with the wild. 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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‘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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‘Darwin and God’ by Nick Spencer

This book explores specifically Darwin’s personal relationship with his God, how this changed over his lifetime and the emotional anxiety that his scientific discoveries caused him because of the impact he knew these ideas would have on religious belief. 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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‘Deep Green Living (GreenSpirit ebooks Book 6)’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain

This ebook on Deep Green Living is a collection of articles written by fourteen different authors and is in four parts. The first is about feeling our sense of place on the Earth, the second looks at our lifestyles, the third is about wildness and the final part discusses our relationship with the natural world. The intention of the ebook is to help us to find our place in the world and to inspire us to live in good relationship with the Earth and all beings. Continue reading

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‘Earthmind: Communicating with the living world of Gaia’ by Paul Devereux with John Steele and David Kubrin

This is a story of the new global consciousness that was inspired by the view of Earth from space and which was represented metaphorically by James Lovelock as the Earth goddess, Gaia. These events were contemporary with the awakening by ordinary people in the West to eastern wisdom in the 1960s and 1970s. It ushered in the New Age and Green revolutions. Ever since, there has been a much greater concern to care for our earthly environment and a slow development in human consciousness to see our lives in a more spiritual context. As Devereux says, “For a whole cultural attitude to alter, we have to change more than our industrial processes – we have to change our minds.” 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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‘Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology’ by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden

A physicist and a professor of molecular biology lead us into a new scientific world in which physics and biology talk to one another – and the results are very exciting. In the past quantum physics pretty much had the monopoly of physics, and biology was limited to the world of classical science. The experiments by which the quantum world was understood required very precise conditions which are not found in the messy world of Nature. However, as this book demonstrates life at every level depends on the movement of fundamental particles that are governed by quantum rules. Continue reading

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‘Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer

  Oregon State University , 2003, pbk 168 pp ISBN: 978-0870714993   Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk McCain  _______________________________________________________________________  I had often wondered what sacred object a Native American friend of mine kept in the small, beaded, deerskin pouch around her neck. … Continue reading

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‘H is for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald

I found this to be a searingly exquisite and highly informative work about a young woman’s relationship with a goshawk. Three strands weave their way throughout this eloquently-written autobiography. The first is the author’s grief after the sudden unexpected death of her father. The second is her life experience as a hawker and the third is her ever-emerging insights into the work of writer, scholar and teacher, T. H. White, as she contrasts his experiences of keeping a hawk with her own.
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‘Gossip from the Forest’ by Sara Maitland

In this beautifully written book, Sara Maitland sets out on a series of walks through ancient forest and woodland in Britain seeking the symbiosis between forests and fairy stories. She expresses a deep concern that the future of these two sources of healthy life experience is endangered. Continue reading

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‘Spindrift: A Wilderness Pilgrimage at Sea’ by Peter Reason

This is a book about a journey to find a different way of responding purposefully to the ecological issues of the present time. Peter Reason – husband, grandfather, former academic and sailor – sets out to sail around the West Coast of Ireland looking to encounter wilderness and thereby find a ‘right’ relationship with that which is not human. 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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‘In Search of Grace: An Ecological Pilgrimage’ by Peter Reason

Two vivid accounts of sailing pilgrimages the author recently undertook in his small yacht, Coral, from the southern coast of England to Ireland, and to the far north of Scotland. Yet his book is not simply a day-to-day account of things that happened or had to be done in order for him to reach various historical sacred places of interest. Its richness lies in his skill of including additional material, writers, and sharing thoughts and knowledge he has about Nature, and our interactions and relationships with her. Continue reading

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‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Whether working alone in her garden, facing a bunch of students in her classroom, out doing fieldwork in the forest or patiently learning, word by difficult word, the language of her ancestors, Robin Wall Kimmerer is awake and aware and open to new understandings. Through her, we see connections and relationships where we never noticed them before. As she tells her stories, they come alive for us until we can feel the sun on the wild strawberries, hear the ‘plink’ of maple sap into the buckets and marvel at the stately pecan trees that only fruit in certain years but when they do fruit, always do it in concert, in the same year. 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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‘Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World’ by Brian Walker and David Salt

Resilience thinking is based on making systems more adaptable, flexible and able to cope with sudden change, rather than trying to optimize their productivity. Continue reading

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‘The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies: The Definitive Guide to All Flower Remedies, their Making and Uses’ by Clare G. Harvey

Clare Harvey writes that Dr Bach told her grandmother that though his essences were complete in themselves in the future there would be the need for essences from all over the world. Over the last 30 or so years there has been a worldwide explosion of new essences so that from the first 28 discovered by Dr Bach there are now literally thousands. In this compilation the writer has collected over 3,000 essences and combination remedies and listed them by continent and producer with the explanations and applications provided by their suppliers. Each section has its own introduction and the whole provides a very comprehensive reference book. Continue reading

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‘The Living Mountain’ by Nan Shephard

The Guardian critic described this as ‘The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain. It is a tiny volume, hardly more than 100 pages of A5 and it describes one person’s experience of the Cairngorm mountains. Nan Shepherd, a lecturer in English at Aberdeen University, fell in love with the mountain which she could see from her childhood home. As an adult she walked the mountains many times until she learnt to understand them with all her being. Continue reading

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‘The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District’ by James Rebanks.

James Rebanks was born into a family which has farmed in Cumbria for at least 600 years and he learnt his shepherding skills from his grandfather and father from early childhood. As a young man he stretched his wings and went to Oxford, but that only made him more aware of the depth of his connection with the Lakes and farming. His book draws us into an extraordinary understanding of his small, remote upland world and its sheep and shepherds. 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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‘Gardening with the Moon & Stars’ by Elen Sentier

Growing plants, particularly as food, can enable wonderful insight into the processes of life. Biodynamics, which links our work as gardeners to our cosmic context and to microscopic processes is a powerful invitation to step into a sense of the sacredness and wonder of these processes. 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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‘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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‘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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‘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 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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‘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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‘The Secret Language of Animals: A Guide to Remarkable Behavior’ by Janine M Benyus

Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground. 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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‘The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World’ by Carl Safina

Set primarily in the sandy, windswept area around the author’s home at Lazy Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York and organized around the calendar year, this book includes beautiful, detailed observations of Nature and the changes that happen as the seasons slowly revolve. Plus it is interspersed with commentaries and descriptions of various field trips made to other places far north and far south. Witnessing and documenting this ‘natural year in an unnatural world,’ Safina shows how the problems of the environment are linked to questions of social justice and the politics of greed. Continue reading

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‘The Genius of Birds’ by Jennifer Ackerman

In this fascinating and intensively-researched book, Jennifer Ackerman delves deeply into the minds and abilities of our feathered companions and reveals some of the remarkable discoveries that have been made in recent years about the true nature and extent of avian intelligence. Once we learn to stop defining intelligence in terms of what we excel at and study birds on their own terms, there is a wealth of fascinating information to be gained. Continue reading

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‘Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals (Sacred Activism)’ by Linda Bender

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

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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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