Category Archives: Philosophy

‘Environmental Culture. The Ecological Crisis of Reason’ by Val Plumwood

The late Val Plumwood’s previous book Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (Routledge, 1993) is one of the foundational texts of eco-feminism. In Environmental Culture she has written a worthy successor. 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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‘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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‘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

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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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‘Shinto: A Celebration of Life’ by Aidan Rankin

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

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‘Sacred Gaia: Holistic Theology and Earth System Science’ by Anne Primavesi

As part of the development of a liberation theology, Anne Primavesi presents a critique of the view that biological evolution is driven almost exclusively by competitive processes and the way this has been carried over into the human SocialScape and used to justify the exploitation of humans and the natural world. Continue reading

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‘Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe’ by Bob Berman and Robert Lanza

Lanza is a cell biologist and his co-author Berman is an astronomer. What they are saying—and explaining very cogently in this book—is an updated but by now well scientifically backed version of the idea Bishop Berkeley was trying to promote back in the early 18th century, i.e. that there is in fact no objective ‘reality’ out there, independent of the consciousness and perception of living organisms. 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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‘Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man’ by Nina Lyon

This book on the Green Man—that ubiquitous but endlessly varied symbol that takes the form of a human face sprouting greenery—is impossible to pigeonhole and its message is hard to pin down in a few sentences. But the Green Man is unpindownable. Not just because his origins are so ancient and so complex but because he represents something that is still alive and real and omnipresent. Despite humankind’s efforts to ‘conquer’, ‘tame’ and ‘manage’ Nature, Nature resigns supreme—because of course we are Nature, subsumed within it, just like everything else in the living world. So what this author has produced, as a result of her journeying around the UK and other parts of Europe in search of the Green Man – and her amusing but often rambly and confusing meanderings through history, literature, folklore, religion, sex, magick, shamanism, metaphysics and endless speculative cogitation – is a book in which the Green Man is never pinned down, yet ever present. Continue reading

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‘Eternal Spring: Taijiquan, Qi Gong, and the cultivation of health, happiness and longevity’ by Michael W. Acton

Many Westerners who take up Eastern practices like Yoga and Tai Chi never really understand—or even take an interest in—the layers and layers of ancient, spiritual wisdom that underlie such practices. Knowing this, many authors and teachers pay but scant attention to the theory and focus only on the physicality. In other words, both instructor and student concern themselves only with the tip of the iceberg. ‘Eternal Spring’ is very different and Michael Acton a very different sort of teacher.
Continue reading

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‘The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community’ by David C Korten

David Korten wrote this book several years ago, but it is probably even more relevant – and urgent – today. He sees us at a crossroads, and the choice we make will result in either The Great Turning of the title, or The Great Unravelling. 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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‘Walking in Light: the Everyday Empowerment of a Shamanic Life’ by Sandra Ingerman

In this useful book, Ingerman not only totally demystifies shamanism for the lay reader but shows how its various tools can also be used as a self-help toolkit by individuals. We can use it to bring our own mind body and spirit back into internal balance, provide our lives with new meaning and hope, bring ourselves back in balance with the rest of Nature and, most importantly of all, do our part in healing our damaged Earth. Continue reading

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‘A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey’ by Matthew Fox

This book is primarily about Thomas Merton (31 January 1915 – 10 December 1968), a Trappist monk in the USA. But it is also about Creation Spirituality (as articulated by Matthew Fox) and Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic of the Middle Ages who influenced both Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox. It is a good way not only to understand Thomas Merton but also to see the strands of Creation Spirituality in Eckhart, Merton and Fox. Continue reading

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‘EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want’ by Frances Moore Lappé

When she was researching for her landmark book Diet for a Small Planet back in 1970, Frances Moore Lappé realized that it is we human beings ourselves who create the problems, such as scarcity, that we find so troubling. “While most of us think that ‘seeing is believing’… no, for human beings ‘believing is seeing.’ Our core ideas about how the world works determine, literally, what we can see and what we can’t.” 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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‘Ecology and Religion’ (Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies Series) by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker

These authors have spent many years studying world religions. Their particular interest is in the relationship between religion and ecology and between them, they have probably done more than any academics anywhere to bring religious and ethical perspectives into environmental discussions. The aim of this textbook is to bring the fruits of their thought and study to the coming generations. 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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‘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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‘Understanding Gregory Bateson: mind, beauty and the sacred earth’ by Noel Charlton

“Our most dangerous characteristic is our propensity to develop and rely on our conscious purposes…until we see the world as a network of relating, as a vast interrelated process of which we are dependent members, we will not be fit to survive in it.” (p.29). 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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‘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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‘Christian Animism’ by Shawn Sanford Beck

The churches have tended to regard creation as sacred only in so far as it reveals God to us and the focus is on our obligation to be responsible stewards rather than being in a real relationship with the rest of creation. Beck’s religious faith is important to him and he makes the case for Christian animism. The definition of animism that he uses is the attribution of a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena and he argues that this is that is compatible with Christian tradition and the Bible. Continue reading

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‘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

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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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‘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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‘Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan Christian Conversation: First steps in Interfaith dialogue’ Edited by Denise Cush

This book was inspired by a weekend gathering of Pagans and Christians in 2014 in which participants were invited to explore their prejudices and preconceptions, learn more about each other, and find common ground in ‘Celebrating Planet Earth’. It is divided into 3 main sections: Addressing our fears and prejudices, Possibilities for cooperation and The role of ritual practice, myth, music and poetry in each tradition and in inter-faith encounter. Each section has a number of chapters written by various participants and speakers who were at the gathering. Continue reading

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‘The Science of Oneness: A worldview for the twenty-first century’ by Malcolm Hollick

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

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‘The Universe Story’ by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry

Most cultures have creation stories. And for many centuries, those creation stories have served to bond people together in a shared sense of history and of destiny. Our modern, Western culture, with all its book learning and its technology and its scientific knowhow has long since outgrown tales of Adam and Eve and fig leaves and yet there has been nothing coherent to put in their place. For a long time now, we have been a people in need of a creation story. Continue reading

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‘Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse’ by Mary-jane Rubenstein

The concept of ‘multiverses’ – i.e. the idea that the universe we live in is just one in a vast or even infinite collection of universes – has been around in some form or another since at least the time of Plato. This book traces the history of this concept and discusses the different models now from the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory. Continue reading

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‘Collected Papers of Michael E. Soulé: Early Years in Modern Conservation Biology’ by Michael, E. Soulé

This book contains skilfully collected presentations of the many faceted concerns of conservation combined with peer-reviewed scientific research in the broadest areas of biology, environmental studies and genetics. With well prepared overviews and summary paragraphs of the fourteen presented papers, the book serves as an essential text book for students of conservation biology and also as a fascinating general knowledge source for any layperson interested in the multitude of synchronous and symbiotic relationships within the plant and animal kingdoms and in the concept of the planet as a living, holistic being. It is a collection that would provide stimulating reading for anyone seeking deeper understanding of the ways in which the strands of the web of life are woven together. Continue reading

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‘Deep Equality: Living in the flow of natural rhythms’ by Jocelyn Chaplin

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

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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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‘Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth’ by George Wuerthner (Author, Editor), Eileen Crist (Editor) and Tom Butler (Editor)

Anthropocentrism, instead of gradually going away as so many of us have hoped, is sneaking in again by the back door. The people letting it in are not the familiar enemy who rip the tops of mountains and drill the Arctic but a small bunch of people who are billing themselves as the ‘new environmentalists’ (also known as ‘Anthropocene-boosters’) and who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. 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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‘Living with Honour: A Pagan Ethics’ by Emma Restall Orr

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

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‘The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry’ by Rupert Sheldrake

The aim of this book is to encourage a fundamental and beneficial re-evaluation of the way the sciences are defined and practised in our modern world. It does so by carefully and systematically examining ten core beliefs that most scientists accept without question, all of which are in fact untested and untestable and which severely limit the ability of our modern sciences to respond convincingly to the challenges we face in the twenty-first century. 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 Prostitute State: How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought’ by Donnachadh McCarthy

In this book, Donnachadh describes his time in the Liberal Democratic Party, rising to the position of Deputy Chair and his subsequent disillusionment with corporate greed, politics and the wider economic system. The book is well researched and wide ranging; covering such subjects as tax avoidance, the press, politics and unfettered capitalism. Continue reading

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‘The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity’ by Ikhwan al-Safa

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

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‘Planet as Self: An Earthen Spirituality’ by Sky McCain

‘Planet as Self’ argues for a radical rethink of our relationship with Mother Earth or Gaia and points out how beliefs – scientific or religious – can so easily be mistaken for truths. Nothing less than a paradigm shift in our basic beliefs is called for. Continue reading

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‘Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth Centred Spirituality’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)

Possibly the first book ever to take Yoga in one hand and Christianity on the other and examine them both through the lens of an Earth-centred Spirituality. Is there, in fact, ‘green wisdom’ to be found within these two great traditions? If there is, then surely these need to be emphasised in this era of climate change and ever-worsening ecological crisis. 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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‘Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a way to get there from here)’ by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman

The thesis of Bruce and Steve’s brilliant new book, in a very small nutshell, is that there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that science has moved on but we haven’t. And we need to—fast! The good news is that we can do it because all the tools we need are right here, under our noses (inside our noses too, as a matter of fact). Continue reading

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‘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.
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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‘Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence’ by Jean G. Boulton, Peter M. Allen and Cliff Bowman

We have, in our western society, the god of science. So often we hear “scientists say…” in the press. And, for many people, this implies a statement of authority. But the problem is that western science is essentially value-less. This mind-set has led to such things as testing on animals, factory farming and the proliferation of deadly weapons. How did we get to this place and what can be done about it? Whilst the book covers a lot of territory, this is the key question it addresses. Continue reading

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‘Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter’ by Christian de Quincey

The American philosopher W.V.O. Quine once remarked that “Consciousness is to me a mystery, not one to be dismissed. We know what it is like to be conscious, but not how to put it into satisfactory scientific terms” (Quidities pp. 132-3). So consciousness, along with the whole subjective nature of our inner mental and spiritual life, gets left out of the scientific world picture. Thus, the orthodox account of evolution tells us that living beings emerged and developed as ever-more complex physical entities, but nowhere in this story is there a place for the subjective phenomena of consciousness. These seem to be of a different order of being entirely, and the only way of accounting for them is to imagine a kind of miracle whereby at some point in the evolutionary process complex physical systems produced a wholly different kind of reality, namely consciousness. Continue reading

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‘Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World’ by Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber’s Integral approach, which is intrinsically value-free, is a unique method for understanding pretty much anything in a fully comprehensive, multidimensional and holistic way. It has the capacity to break up socio-cultural and ideological logjams and may well be the best tool available, right now, for achieving religious tolerance, peace and (when applied to ecological issues) sustainability. Continue reading

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