Paganism is fairly vague on morality, in terms of how people should treat other people (apart from references to “an’ ye harm none” and just generally promoting being a nice person). But it is quite clear on one point – that the natural world is sacred and should be treated as such.
This is why some Pagans have come to celebrate Earth Day, a secular event originating from the 1970s, as an extension of their worship of the Earth spirits.
For the most part, I think this is a very positive thing. It reminds us of the very real threats to our world and its treasures, and also reinforces our respect and reverence for Mother Earth. That’s why today, when I made a prayer to Inari Okamisama (my patron deity), I prayed for the healing and protection of the world and for the wisdom to do my part to help the environment.
But there is one thing I worry about. When we pray, perform rituals or work magick, it’s all too easy to think, “That’s it, I’ve done my thing, no need to worry any more as the powers that be will sort it out.” But I can’t believe prayer works that way at all!
It’s like Aesop’s fable of the farmer and Hercules. The farmer was driving his cart when it became stuck in the mud. For hours, the farmer called to Hercules for help, but he did not come. Eventually, the farmer gave up and started to push the cart himself. At once, Hercules appeared and started to help. When the farmer asked why Hercules had not come before, the god reminded him that the gods only help those who try to help themselves first.
I think that prayer and ritual have the power to change the way we think and feel, and to give us the drive and inspiration to act – that’s how the gods speak to us. So from this Earth Day, I’m going to try to change my life in as many small ways as possible to do my bit. It’s not easy to live an eco-friendly lifestyle in this day and age – it requires planning, mindfulness and sacrifice. But each action I take, I’m going to try to stop and think, “Is there an alternative way of doing this that would be better for the environment?” And by trying to make my life a little more ecological, I’ll be bringing myself closer to the spirits of nature.