N is for… Nature

What is nature?

In Pagan religions, we often say – especially, perhaps, when we speak to outsiders – that we revere nature or hold it sacred. We contrast this with other religions.

The problem is that, of course, we are not outside nature, and not outside that which we revere. I believe that I am part of nature, part of the cycles of nature, and the things which make me into me, and the things which make me human, do not cut me off from that. Similarly, some people postulate a divide between Creator and Creation, but I don’t believe that they can be separated in that clear way.

I have heard Pagans object to the keeping of ancient skeletons in museums or science labs, because they were buried in earth and should be ‘part of the landscape’. I think that this position is flawed, and that the flaw lies in the assumption that museums and labs are not part of nature and the cycles of life. They may prevent decay, but so does a peat bog. They may put bones on display, but so do many megalithic monuments. They may move bodies from their original resting place, but so do rivers, rodents, and tectonic plates.

This is not an argument that modern human developments are universally positive – but nor is nature; deadly nightshade, volcanoes, the hunting of prey. Nor is it an argument against seeking experiences of non-human nature. It is merely a reminder that humans are also part of nature.

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