Nature Awareness Essay

3 03 2014

Nature awareness is very important for me and has been my favourite part of the Dedicant Path. I have enjoyed going out to spend an hour in nature every week between March and November (after which it was too cold and wet). I am very fortunate to live in an area that has beaches, parks, woodland and a nature reserve all within a mile of my home. Each week I went to a local park that is around 15 minutes from my house and which contains a nature conservation wetland area. I spent an hour observing and recording what was going on around me, noticing what had changed since the last time I was there and learning about the nature spirits. I spent some time meditating there for many of the weeks too. I often said hello to the nature spirits and Mother Nature when I was there and on one occasion the words “the graces of the Earth Mother” kept going through my mind. Spending this time in nature and discovering new things every week really felt like I was receiving a gift of grace from the Earth Mother. I constantly saw new things and learned more about the world around me. I saw many different types of birds including swans, seagulls, moorhens, coots, wood pigeons, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, woodpeckers, dunnocks, house sparrows, wrens, mallard ducks and a heron. I saw insects like bees, butterflies and dragonflies. I saw a Pipistrelle bat and many baby chicks. I learned the names of trees such as horse chestnuts and white poplar trees. When I engaged with one of the horse chestnuts in particular, I felt a definite sense of a presence there. Seeing the changes through the seasons gave me a very strong feeling of connection to the cycles of nature. I would have liked to have brought offerings with me each time but there were signs up saying not to feed the birds and other creatures because the food attracted rats. I did however manage to pick up litter a few times as an offering to the spirits of that place.

For me, honouring the Earth is a vitally important spiritual practice. As a Pantheist that views Nature and the earth as divine and sacred, I feel a duty to look after the world around me. As an Animist, I believe that all things are “minded” and that mind in some form extends all the way down to the smallest atom and up to the largest galaxy. Unsurprisingly then, I fully accept the Gaia hypothesis. I view the earth as a mother, the mother who creates me, sustains me and will one day draw me back into herself.

Over the past year I have tried to learn a lot about my local area. I have discovered that my water primarily comes from two nearby rivers (Dart and Tamar) and three reservoirs (Burrator, Roadford and Venford). I have learned that my waste water is exposed to the removal of solids and UV treatment and is returned to the sea via an outfall at Sharkham Point. I live next to the sea and the water quality here is good. I live in an urban area which is built over quite a few streams, but the nearest large rivers are the Dart and Teign and these act as watersheds. A significant portion of the area is also categorised as an “area of outstanding natural beauty.” The climate is temperate and the prevailing wind is from the south-west. We have mild winters here and it is also one of the sunniest parts of the UK. It is coldest in February, sunniest in June and dullest in December. Spring has the least rainfall and Autumn the most. Various fruits and vegetables are grown here but especially apples for cider, potatoes and maize corn. Because it is hilly, the county I live in tends to be used more for animal farming rather than crops. The soil of the area is primarily sandstone, with the two edges of the area being limestone. Most of the trees are deciduous broad-leafs.

I try my best to live in an environmentally sustainable way. I have chosen to be a vegan which is a very environmentally friendly way to live. I regularly recycle about half of my waste, including all paper, cardboard, glass, clothing, cans, jars and some plastic. I buy some organic items and I always make sure I switch off lights or electrics when they are not in use. For the last two years I have not had a car and have taken public transport instead, however recently I have got a new job which is in a location that is not practical to get to by public transport and so I have had to buy a car again. I have got much better this year at taking reusable bags with me when I go shopping so that I don’t get lots of plastic bags. In future I would like to make a lot more changes. Currently my power is mostly from fossil fuels so I would like to change my energy company to one that uses more green energy sources. I keep my heating down and have only been heating one room in my house this winter. I will be voting for the Green party at the next election and have signed up for an allotment so I can grow my own food when it becomes available. I regularly give to two environmental charities – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and The Woodland Trust and am considering becoming a member of a local environmental charity too. I want to move towards buying more local and seasonal food and am currently trying to buy more things second hand or from charity shops rather than brand new. I don’t recycle my food waste currently because the bags provided are not suitable and break too easily so I need to find an answer to that. I need to get used to using the computer more in order to cut down on my paper use. I also need to investigate ways of reducing my water usage. I hope that by doing these things I will be able to make more of a difference both at a local and global level.