I once had a conversation with a friend of mine about what might serve as a possible basis for a series of annual, Pantheistic observances or ‘holidays’ one might wish to partake in, if they felt so inclined. I thought it was a great idea, but it also raised a ton of conflicting thoughts in my mind as well. The following is an excerpt taken from that discussion.
“We’re a capitalist, consumer-based society now, run by corporations, pharmaceutical companies, greed-driven bankers and power-hungry politicians. Because of this, I believe we’ve lost our sacred connection to the land and to the earth—that poignant, meaningful connection that our agrarian ancestors once had. As farmers and livestock owners, they lived close to the earth and honored the cycles of Nature and commemorated the passing seasons. They earned their bread based on its rhythms and were intimately involved in its processes.
Their survival was literally dependent upon staying in touch with Mother Gaia and they cherished her and celebrated her many blessings in ways that we could never understand… and yet, it is my contention that we should envy this former relationship and emulate it in our own lives as well. Sadly, nowadays, thanks to advancements in farming, agriculture and industrial technologies, we don’t even have to leave the house, we can literally go weeks without seeing the stars or the sun and moon and all of our needs are readily met.
And yet, what do we do with this new found freedom and modern blessing? We waste it by watching TV and entertaining ourselves, continuously distracting ourselves with movies, television shows and video games. Living our lives vicariously through others whom we idolize (actors and actresses), obsessing over professional sports and other useless activities and perpetually going to work to make ends meet, where we are very often again found indoors, conducting almost all of our business and affairs amid unnatural, enclosed, artificial settings and environments.
If and when we do go out, we can very easily go to the nearest restaurant or grocery store, buy fancily prepared, pre-packaged, ready-made meals and food that has already been significantly processed. In this way, we bypass the natural relationship that every other animal has with its food or prey and its environment. Everything is done for us, so that we have no emotional connection to the food we eat or the land around us and no understanding at all of the sacrifices that are aptly made to sustain us.
We have no personal connection to the organisms that make up the food of our diet and little to no knowledge of where it comes from… i.e. we take no part in the natural process of gathering or hunting for sustenance. The only relationship we have to our food is one of a mindless consumer, with no gratitude or understanding of the flora and fauna that fuel us… just a primitive awareness of our own personal needs, with a total disembodied mentality and a huge emotional disconnect, in terms of the source and process or means by which it is eventually allowed to reach us. This is a great travesty in my eyes and it has contributed to the desensitizing of our species, as we become further and further detached from Nature.
As Pantheists, what can we do to rekindle that sacred and vital connection to the earth? In your personal life, how many of you observe certain rituals that are Earth-centered? How many of you pay homage to the cycles of Life and commemorate and honor the changing seasons and recognize and consider the tangible affect they have on our lives? Are you in touch with the Life that surrounds you? Or are you, like so many others, apathetic and indifferent… to the weather, to the stars above you and all the wondrous, celestial events that occur readily, day after day?
Are these things important to you, or do you feel detached and disconnected in your houses and apartments, preoccupied with your ‘busy’ and ‘important’ lives as consumers, utterly dependent upon the corporations and utility companies and grocery stores, to provide all of your needs? Humility and gratitude are salubrious and life-extending… and in my opinion, constitute the healthiest natural state we can ever hope to achieve and something I think we should all try to cultivate, foster and maintain.
But how can we do this in our modern society? It is structured in such a way, that we naturally become petty, complacent and distracted with entertainment, materialism and a plethora of things that simply do not matter. Perhaps a new form of ritual and celebration is the answer to this. As Pantheists, what should we observe and what is relevant in terms of Earth-centered holidays and festivals? Should we follow the template of the Pagan cultures that came before us, who held these things in such high regard, or should we make up our own observances, based on pertinent days that are significant to us and annual times of the year that mark certain transitions and shifts in the seasons?
If so, which celebrations or customs would you find particularly important? What connects you to the natural world and what do you find noteworthy, in terms of celestial events and the cycles and patterns of Nature? Can we learn from the Pagans? Should we create our own unique observances and rituals to maintain our relationship to the earth and all of her inhabitants? Especially the ones that feed us and allow us to live?
I’m going to play ‘devil’s advocate’ for a moment in order to pose a serious question: Given that the vast majority of us are no longer living in an agricultural society that is dependent upon the notable marking of the lunar calendar, the grain/harvest cycles and the various solstices and equinoxes that note the passing seasons and the changes in weather patterns… with all of these things considered, what, if any, purpose and meaning is there to be found in celebrating these things in the context of a modern, technologically advanced society such as the one in which we live today?
These things were an important, even fundamental aspect of the ancients’ way of thinking/way of life, for a specific reason; their crops, their harvest, their very survival throughout the long winters depended upon it… but since we have the innovations that we have now, with the science of meteorology, radar scans, media weather reporting and mechanized farming techniques, with tools and equipment that operate independently and autonomously, and through the subsequent manipulation of our environments and surroundings (building houses and structures that provide protection and warmth in the winter and coolness and shade in the summer), and since we are no longer at the mercy of Mother Nature and the elements (at least in a general sense), does it not seem in many ways obsolete and irrelevant to mark the passing of the seasons, except as a way of keeping track of time?
What are the practical benefits (if any), of such observances and rituals and how is it in any way useful or significant to us today, as Pantheists, as humans, etc., other than just to associate ourselves with archaic and outdated traditions, maybe in an effort to appeal to our innate desire for purpose, connection, ritual and celebration?” The question remains open-ended, but as far as specific rituals, observances and practices to incorporate into our lives, if I were to attempt to institute something formal and consistent, I would say that these may involve anything you choose to do that helps to center and ground your mind, body and spirit and strengthen your relationship to Nature.
Likewise, whatever allows you to experience the numinous… e.g. star-gazing is a common practice among Biopans, as well as hiking, camping, gardening, or anything related to ecology and the outdoors. Meditation in a quiet, wilderness setting. Strolling along a beach or exploring a forest. Waking up early to watch a glorious sunrise—or similarly, taking time out to watch it set. Practicing stillness, mindfulness, deep breathing and contemplation. Listening to peaceful, life-affirming music or practicing Yoga or Tai Chi. All of these things are wonderful tools to realign your thinking and recharge and refresh yourself (to live in harmony with yourself and with all other sentient Life forms is the ultimate goal of Biopantheism).
In terms of specific holidays or observances, many Biopans already follow the Pagan tradition of trying to align themselves with the cyclical patterns of Nature, by honoring the solstices and the equinoxes annually and observing the changing seasons with simple, personal and practical rituals to mark and commemorate the passage of spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and so on. This may involve anything from cleaning your house, to exploring a new hiking trail or planting a tree… but it should include actively taking part in something that allows you to really see, smell, taste, touch, hear and feel the tangible changes in the weather.
There is no worship in Biopan, only a heartfelt desire to live closely to the earth, to respect all organisms and stay in communion with Nature. By modeling our lives after the rhythms and flow of the Life cycles and the seasons, we ‘tune-in’ to the heartbeat of God and effectively purify ourselves from all destructive patterns of thinking. By observing Nature closely, we remain humble and aware of our personal relationship to everything else on the planet. Biopantheists seek only harmony and balance, peace and equanimity… as these things are vital and necessary in order to unify ourselves and progress and evolve as a species. To flourish and thrive, to co-exist and sustain ourselves in order to live up to our fullest potential—this is the goal and the motivation of all Biopantheists and the purpose of this ‘meta-religion.’
Likewise, there are an exceptional amount of what one might call ‘luminaries’ from the past who deserve to have their names and lives justly remembered annually. Honorable men and women who have served the causes of science and humanity, by contributing in a significant and meaningful way to Pantheistic thought and philosophy. These beautiful and resplendent souls were generally misunderstood and rejected during their lifetimes, many of whom only received notoriety and praise posthumously.
Some, like Newton, Einstein and Tesla were surely recognized by their contemporaries, yet their ideas and inventions were also usurped and manipulated by the powers that be, for the sake of money, greed and control. Others like Galileo, Giordano Bruno and Hypatia were imprisoned, tortured and executed by the Church, as their ideas and influence threatened the status quo of the power structure, condemning them to a lifetime of persecution ending in horrible and excruciating deaths (Bruno was tortured and then burned alive and Hypatia was dragged through the streets, stripped naked and ripped to pieces by an angry mob of Christians).
These noble and intelligent men and women were seen as heretics and blasphemers of God, all of their books and writings systematically burned and destroyed, their teachings vehemently suppressed and denied. But miraculously, sometimes through the slanderous reports of their enemies, knowledge of them and their deeds survived. Certainly, if one wanted to, they could adopt the birth days or death days of these outstanding and exceptional human beings and mark and remind themselves of their notable contributions and enduring sacrifices, by incorporating their teachings and aspirations into some form of practical ritual or memoriam, that would serve as an exercise in education and further our awareness and personal growth as Pantheists.
Along the same lines, solar and lunar eclipses, meteor showers and other celestial phenomenon could also be deliberately and intentionally observed and a practical celebration or ritual organized around them to make it an exciting and noteworthy community event. Earth Day, Darwin Day, Arbor Day and National Wildlife Day, are all relevant and worthy holidays already in place and widely recognized by the mainstream, which could easily be incorporated into an annual festival with a Pantheistic application in mind.
These writings represent my sincere desire to bring all of these things into focus and create a concrete, codified establishment that can provide the education, the inspiration and the insight needed to help all of those out there who may be earnestly seeking meaning, fellowship, connection and purpose, but are unable to articulate and describe exactly what it is they want or need. It is my contention that this philosophy, in some form or another, will one day become the dominant belief system of all human beings– indistinguishable from math or science and ubiquitously known and understood by all Earthlings, obscuring and surpassing all traditional religions… and eventually, making obsolete the Abrahamic faiths, which have caused so much atrocity and harm historically.