[permaculture] permaculture spirituality (was: Message from the current President)
toby at patternliteracy.com
Thu Jan 25 22:57:14 EST 2007
On 1/24/07 6:51 PM, "Tracie Boellner" wrote:
> Too many points to respond to that really aren't relevant to this list, so I
> won't bore anyone with it. My apologies for posting my original response to
> the list. It was a kneejerk reaction, and I should have kept it to myself.
> Still searching for the facts,
> Tracie in Michigan
> ----- Original Message -----
Actually, I want to thank Tracy for posting her response. Mollison has been
very emphatic about trying to build that "wall of separation" between
permaculture and any specific spiritual belief system. He, and a lot of
others (myself included) feel that connecting Pc with a particular set of
spiritual beliefs, while strengthening its appeal to that group, would
diminish its ability to be universally adopted by those with other beliefs.
But there has gotten to be a fairly strong link between Pc and Earth-based
or New Age spirituality. I've met plenty of permaculture practitioners who
are devout Christian, Jewish, or other faiths, but rarely do they explicitly
express permaculture in spiritual terms. But I've been to plenty of Pc
gatherings that are strongly pagan/wiccan/New Age. (full disclosure: I'm
pantheist/Buddhist myself, if I've gotta give a name to it). Starhawk's
Earth Activist Training, for example, is a Pc certification course that is
strongly imbued with Earth-based spirituality. I don't know of any Christian
or Jewish PDCs. So why has Pc become linked with New Age beliefs?
The light went on with Tracy's post. If you'll pardon my returning to my
horticulture/agriculture theme: Horticultural societies, according to
anthropologists, tend to view all of nature as imbued with spirit. For them,
God is in the rocks, the water, the plants. In most cases, a different (but
ultimately interlinked) spirit is responsible for each place, each element,
each plant. Agricultural societies, on the other hand, tend to see spirit as
coming from someplace out of this physical world, usually a sky god or set
of gods not connected with a particular place on Earth. Permaculture is an
attempt to create a contemporary horticultural society; at least that how
I'm thinking of it these days. So although it can appeal to a wide variety
of people, it is going to have a large following among people who have a
horticulturalist's view of spirit. That means it's going to be difficult to
keep that wall of separation up. Horticultural practices and ethics will
naturally be drawn to (and may even inspire) a horticulturalist
spirituality. An important task for those of us who have an Earth-based
spirituality is not to create a sense of exclusion of other beliefs.
That's actually a natural thing for pagans. The Romans, for example, usually
allowed the people they conquered to continue worshipping their own gods.
Being polytheistic they naturally accepted the idea that there would be more
gods than the ones they worshipped. Each group could have its own as long as
they also recognized the Roman gods. They did become intolerant of Jews and
Christians because these monotheists would not accept the Roman gods, which
the Romans felt would both anger the gods and create political problems.
Polytheists tend to be pretty tolerant in this way; monotheists, less so.
Any other theories as to why Pc gatherings and courses often have a New Age
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