Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah Part 3 of 3 – What & How I Do Ritual and Ceremony

October 21, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

The third and last question of this series, and my favourite to answer for myself – What do you do? (The previous two segments can be read here – Part 1, Why I do Ceremony & Ritual; Part 2, When and Where I do Ceremony & Ritual)

Rua Lupa, Searching for Apples

Rua Lupa, Up in an Apple Tree

There is a whole lot I can cover here that could very well make up a book. As I was writing this piece I had to remove large portions as I went because it was getting too in-depth and much too large; So it will be more of a glancing summary instead which I feel doesn’t really do justice to what is covered. Over time I hope to present each one in full proper detail.

From here, what is viewed as ritual and ceremony can differ greatly, which is mostly why I prefer to refer to it as customs. I don’t really go for pomp and pizazz when it comes to personal acts. I find that sort of thing is most appropriate at major events for keeping a crowd’s attention. For when it is just me, it is simple actions and acknowledgements in my mind in that dedicated moment. Most simply as a basic meditation where I just take a moment and let it all sink in. Sometimes words or gestures come to mind that seem the most appropriate and do them. Over time this can get refined, but I try not to let it become a solid set of actions or routine as I feel that can take away from the experience of the moment. Having things come up unexpectedly and going through as it comes makes it always feel fresh, new and as a result am more awake and aware of what’s involved. In so doing I get a greater sense of connection, relevance, and fulfillment. That way I avoid the “going through the rhythms” rut that many rituals and ceremonies can find themselves in over time. Meaning is often lost in rigid rituals and reasons for doing them can then become lost too. More fluidity and adaptability to new encounters is something that I feel helps a tradition grow and blossom. That is where customs come in.

What is found to be a small consistency becomes a custom that can come to be expected, but not mandatory. As examples here are some of my daily customs: Moving snails, worms, caterpillars, and june bugs off the sidewalk;

Hornet Nest on Stairway. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Hornet Nest on Stairway. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

For my morning walks, sitting a moment in the bend of the creek taking in the surroundings in an awareness meditation; Document my local environment through the seasons and weather events with photographs and journaling; Collecting dead specimens found during my excursions and presenting them in a shadow box to share in the diversity of life around our immediate area; Picking up trash on our way to school is a custom my child and I partake in, as well as looking into the creek and seeing what we can find on our way back home later in the day; Observing the hornet nest each time we go by it to see if anyone is home and counting them (They’re quite friendly. Had even pet one – it seemed to have thought the act undignified. So long as you don’t disturb the nest or try to harm them hornets can co-exist with humans, just like honey bees, with the exception of ‘aggressive’ species i.e. Killer Hornets. These non-aggressive hornets are great as they’ve kept pest species down in our little garden and pollinated the flowers). But these customs are not always done, just more often than not and sometimes are expressed in different ways. Such as doing a walking meditation or leaning against a tree for my morning meditation instead of sitting, or looking for the hornets in the garden instead of in their nest.

The biggest custom I have is following The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah,

The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah (Complete Harmony Within Nature)

The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah (of Complete Harmony Within Nature)

Thus I actively endeavor to ensure all my connections within Nature are harmonious; in everything I do and use; maintaining an awareness of and respect for our interconnections; and creating a lifestyle that reflects this. It being a process that is continually improved upon with no end point. The expression of The Three Basic Tenets can develop in various ways and gradually change over time, but the prevailing undercurrent would remain as a recognizable custom. With respects to this I’ve recently acquired a Permaculture Designer Certificate so that I can better accomplish harmonious connections within Nature.

Energy of Fire. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Solar Energy of Fire. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Energy transfer, as mentioned in the second segment of this series, is a prominent moment for ritual and ceremony. One such moment that is highly valuable to us is fire. Fire is a popular representation of energy because it is itself the release of energy originating from the sun. For when I’m about to start a fire, if the participants are unfamiliar with energy transfer, I like to have a small unscripted teaching on the energy pyramid, ending with, “This wood that is about to burn was once a living tree that harvested the energy of the sun. So when this wood burns, it is not the fibers of a dead tree being consumed. It is the fibers of a dead tree releasing the energy of the sun.” Once the fire is lit I like to say this little poem that expresses how we are connected to what we are witnessing, “Light from wood is light from sun. This energy, within everyone.” So yes, we are in essence solar powered.

The most direct way we personally experience this energy transfer is eating – taking in solar energy to power ourselves. But prior to eating is much opportunity for ceremony. The first being harvesting/foraging.

Picking Apples Up In An Apple Tree.

Climbing Apple Trees to Pick Apples

So a garden (potted indoors and raised beds outdoors) and maintaining that garden is part of my ceremony and ritual. Along with that is forays into wilder areas where I can hunt and forage as I go, incorporating an awareness meditation throughout my excursion. In peak season I often go out just for that purpose – lately being apple and choke cherry picking. For foods that I am unable to grow or forage for I skip to my local farmer’s market buying what will be soon eaten and stock piling what I can for off season. Just the search for local, sustainable food sources is part of my ritual, and always continue that search to replace what is of yet not local or sustainable. This comes with experiments in homemade goods, another ritual of mine, of which goes into the second opportunity for ceremony prior to eating – preparing food. While working with each ingredient (I also do this for everything else I make, such as clothing and equipment. For clothing I’ve been experimenting with local alpaca fibers) I meditate on where each comes from, how it was grown and gathered to end up in front of me, and how it will soon be very much a part of me. Then the last part – Eating. Before every meal you can say or do a little something to acknowledge the energy transferring from what is dead before you to be energy you use. Below are two examples of words that can be said before a meal, one more casual, the other more involved.

Appreciation Of All
“Before we eat, lets embrace in a web of life in a moment of silence to appreciate this food, where it came from, the effort taken to prepare it, and those we’re sharing this meal with.” … “Let’s Eat!”

We Are The Land
“When we eat food, we are eating of the land. What we take in becomes part of us and in turn we become part of the land our food comes from. We are not separate from the land, we are the land. When we speak it is the land speaking. Each, one voice among many, singing the land’s song. Let us all respect ourselves by respecting the land, remembering our connections and being grateful for them.”…”Connected to All”

This solar energy is continuously transferring from one organism to the next, and that means organisms are continuously dying in the process of sustaining the living. I live in a cold climate that has a short growing season, so I can’t grow or source vegetative food locally year round and neither am I able to obtain all my sustenance solely from vegetation. Therefore I consume some meat now and then to be healthy and I take my part in that process very seriously. I grew up on a farm that raised and butchered its own meat; I can’t do that where I am now so I get my domestic meat from a local farmer who has free-range livestock, and is just as serious as I am about the matter. My significant other hunts – I have yet to obtain my hunting license and plan to rectify that as soon as reasonable, but we both shoot traditional bows, having little interest in guns.

Hay bale Winter Target Practice. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Haybale Winter Target Practice. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

From the words of my spouse, bow hunting forces you to engage in greater depth to be successful in your hunt. You have to learn the behaviours of the animal you are pursuing and be ever more patient and skilled just to get close enough to have a shot (unlike in gun hunting where none of this matters so much). My spouse feels that this is very connecting to our part in the circle of life – you are now a direct participant, instead of just a consumer disassociated with where your meat comes from.

It can easily be considered a sacred act and very involved ceremony, where you have to change your sleeping pattern to be where you need to be at dawn and dusk; You dress in your ceremonial garb to better perform your part; You’ve practiced your role in order to execute the ceremony with propriety and there is the classic sacrifice at the end. The sacrifice of one life to sustain another. For hunting or butchering there really are no words that can be said when directly participating in this part of the life cycle. There is just silent acknowledgement of what is done, a very solemn moment.

This subject of death relates to our own life stages. For the easily determined life markers I’ve only so far developed two of the five – Bonding (Wedding Ceremony), and Dispersal/Burial.

In the Dispersal/Burial Ceremony the body is buried – no cremation, no embalming, no metal casket, nothing to prevent decomposition – as to allow the energy in the body to be consumed by other life, just as the person that had lived had consumed the energy from other things that once lived – continuing the cycle. Having the body wrapped in a shroud, or in a simple wooden or wicker casket, or buried as is are simple (not to mention affordable) ways to bury the dead that allows for the body to disperse. The words of the ceremony elaborate on this cycle of life and death and how without death there would be no life. Instead of a tombstone a tree is planted in memory – ideally of a species the departed was fond of. If a marker with a description is still desired a small engraved boulder or a small pillar can be used along side the tree. Burial grounds would reclaim old fields and reforest them.

The Bonding ceremony involves planting a tree at the ceremony and a year after it where you live to commemorate your love and watch it grow as your love grows beyond the ‘honeymoon’ phase. The focus of the ceremony itself is on the teachings of the seasons as a reference for the events in a relationship: The warmth and long days of summer, as love coming easy; The fruits and harvest as the bounty of sharing a common goal; The cold and long nights as the trials and struggles that need to be overcome; and new life and play of spring, as rejuvenation in the love for each other. For the Bonding Ceremony there is a public and personal option to choose from.

The ritual and ceremony of the other easily determined life markers, Birth, Puberty, and Conception, are not yet developed in my practice and tradition when it comes to personal events. But is forming gradually as I personally experience and study these events through what is revealed through science and the different customs and cultures throughout the world. Even the Dispersal and Bonding ceremony are liable to change as new information arises along with developing for global function.

Each of the eight solar ceremonies touches on one of the life stages for public ceremonies.

For public ceremonies I have no “closing the circle” or other such forms of beginning a ritual or ceremony. And without that there is an interesting effect – there is no inside or outside, and with that there is little of “us vs them”. There is a lot of the sense of inclusion and openness to passer-bys. So my ceremonies and rituals are always striving for that open and inclusiveness, which being in such a way makes it have the potential for a great deal of variety. The most common form is a loose gathering with either a central or polar focal point.

As mentioned in the previous installment the solar events are described as the cycle of night and day along with involving the life stages most applicable to these events. The following is a summary of these interrelations and what is done during these solar events:

Symbolism (Symb) and Actual Activities (Act)

Equilux: Birth & Infancy
Symb: Day and night is equal and going into longer days symbolizes the dawn of the year. Dawn itself being symbolic of new beginnings making it a moment to celebrate those experiencing new beginnings. Especially expecting mothers/parents and possible new arrivals.
Act: Providing nest building materials for Birds and small mammals having offspring. For humans, baby clothes and other family products are gifted to expecting parents to prepare homes for family life. People with new homes have house warming parties, and those who are renovating may receive care packages that assist in the project.

Translux: Children
Symb: The morning of the year, when the day is young and life is abundantly active. This is reminiscent of young life.
Act: Most every other animal who hasn’t already given birth are doing so at this time. This would be the time when human infants would be born in the Kalendar for most regions of the world if procreation was commenced after Transequinox. It is encouraged to take quality time with children by together learning through discovery – of surroundings, the environment, the world, and beyond.

Lux: Puberty & Youth
Symb: The year’s noon. The brightest part of the year with the longest days, evoking the energy and fervor of youth. This being the moment of most light in the year, themes on light and what we can see are abundant such as optical illusions and rainbows.
Act: In youth comes puberty, the mark of entering adolescence – becoming a young adult, making it a moment for discovering and celebrating self expression in whichever form it may take, especially gender expression. Youth are provided opportunity for self discovery and preparing for adulthood responsibilities. Trick of the light/optical illusions are presented to challenge young minds to question everything they see before accepting what ever is presented in front of them as reality. And therefore be better prepared to engage in the world, learning about the world, and not falling victim to those who would take advantage of ignorance. Because even if ignorant would be capable to engage in such a way to enlighten themselves without assistance or having to learn the hard way. Dressing up in a rainbow of colours is a fun expression for this time of year.

Transequinox: Young Adult
Symb: The year’s evening, and the warmest part of the day and year, bearing the first fruits and maturing life. Represented as the evening it is considered to be a moment for togetherness, companionship and wooing; as well as celebrating the development of strengths and skills of young adults – those maturing in life.
Act: Competitions are held of various skill sets and strengths – involving creative, physical and mental challenges. Fledging youth “test their wings” by “leaving the nest” and striking out on their own; Courtships are had during the competitions; Young adults are encouraged to take these moments to bond with a significant other, and there are Bonding Ceremonies (weddings) for those who find themselves ready to announce their commitment to each other. Those prepared for starting a family actively procreate between Transequinox (Young Adult) and Equinox (Middle Age) in order to have child around Translux (Child) when the weather is more gentle on the young.

Equinox: Procreation & Middle Age
Symb: Half daylight, halfway through life. The Dusk of the year.
Act: Those prepared for starting a family actively procreate between Transequinox (Young Adult) and Equinox (Middle Age) in order to have child around Translux (Child) when the weather is more gentle on the young. Individuals of this age group celebrate achievements and hard-earned knowledge by passing what they’ve learned down to others. Sharing knowledge (tales of skill gaining, and learning through failure) especially for the Nox Mensis (dark months), engaging the younger in mind games so that they may gain wit, and providing a knowing hand in preparing for tough times. Apprenticeships can be started and those with the experience house and teach students.

Transnox: Old Age
Symb: The days are shorter with nights growing longer – the late night of the year and late years of life.
Act: This is a moment for acknowledging old age (‘Getting mossy around the edges’) and beyond. The skeletal character Virid-os (“Green Bones”), its bones overgrown with vegetation and colonized by small creatures, uses dark humor to bring up uncomfortable topics such as death and decay. The character is somewhat apathetic, but takes pleasure in its potential to nourish other life, sometimes offering up parts for use. Transnox encourages discussion about typically uncomfortable topics; to consider those who have come before us and what they have imparted on the next generation; and for really thinking about things that you may have not considered before – this is done to think and act on things you want to do before your death. Elders reminisce and youngers listen to learn what they can. Prepare for your own death with funeral plans and wills. Celebrations focus on the death phase in the circle of life by having the harvest feast themed on how the nourishment from them is sourced from what has died.

Nox: Death & Conception
Symb: This is the longest night of the year, and death is considered the “darkest time” in life. This is also when the days begin to get longer so new life is celebrated as well. The subject of death and conception connects to the subject of deep ancestry, the origins of life and the celestial bodies that life depends on.
Act: This is a solemn moment to remember those who came before us, whose bodies have provided the earth with nourishment. That nourishment providing a richer environment for new life. Those who have successfully conceived since Transequinox, now being past the first trimester when pregnancy is most at risk of miscarriage, announce the news and are celebrated along side those who have dispersed. The cycle of life and death renewed. The Cosmic History is retold and celebrated during these longest nights of the year when you can take a moment to look up at the night sky and appreciate what is before you.

Transequilux: Gestation
Symb: The days are getting longer, making it a moment to prepare for new beginnings of the up coming symbolic dawn of the year – Equilux.
Act: As the year is about cross into the ‘day’ part of the year, there are many themes on preparing for the new beginnings. Households begin to thoroughly clean out the old and unused to donate, reuse and salvage as well as downsizing in how much you own to what is truly used and needed. This is especially done for those that have conceived, preparing their home for the new member of the household. The arts are celebrated with art shows, performances, and craft fairs to fill in the still long nights, and is an opportunity for apprentices to show what they’ve learned in the past few months and sell some of their products. This is also a good time for crafting items for expecting parents.

A lot of the details are exempt from this summary, and some are still in development – being slowly tweaked and built upon over time to function on a global scale yet be open enough to adapt to regional differences. Hopefully I’ll be able to express each of these in greater detail through the coming seasons so that those interested would be fully able to participate as the solar event comes around.

When it came to making rituals and ceremonies it forced me to ask myself a few things beyond the five I’ve presented in this series that really helped me come to be comfortable in my skin, grow as a person and act on my beliefs. I still ask these questions and I still learn from their answers and develop from them, and sometimes those answers change in unexpected ways. I also think its important for everyone to ask them too.

What do I believe? How and why did I come to those beliefs? Should I reconsider what I believe? Do my actions reflect my beliefs? If they don’t, what beliefs do my actions express? Should I change my beliefs to reflect my actions, or should I change my actions to reflect my beliefs? (if changing actions) How can my actions be meaningful? What would the desired outcome look like? Do I need to reconsider both my actions and beliefs toward something else entirely?

 

What really motivates me to not only do this, but to share it has been well summarized by the last set of quotes from the short documentary “OVERVIEW” by Planetary Collective which I’ll close with,

“We are seeing very clearly that if the earth becomes sick, then we become sick. If the earth dies, then we’re going to die. People sense that somethings wrong, but they’re still struggling to go back and find what the real roots to the problem are. And what I think needs to come is a realization its not just fixing an economic or political system. But its a basic world view. A basic understanding of who we are that’s at stake.” “…and a part of that is to come up with a new story, a new picture, a new way to approach this, and to shift our behaviours in such a way that it leads to a sustainable approach to our civilization as opposed to a destructive approach.” “On a grand scale basically we’re all living in this one ecosystem called earth, and everything you do on one side of the ecosystem effects the other side and that is a new way of living for most of humanity.” “We humans are responsible for ourselves and we are endangering our future. Then we got to learn how to do it differently and to go forward into a sustainable period; And right now that seems very difficult, very difficult to see how that’s going to be. But we got to work on it.”

 

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Sacred Defiled Places

June 8, 2013 by Categorized: Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

The Witch’s Craic by Sir Hectimere

Last weekend I had the privilege to participate in a spiritual retreat at my UU church. The first day of the retreat there was a lively discussion about sacred moments. It turns out that a large portion of the group had been to Hana, Hawaii. Listening to each person’s story, it became evident to me that the key feature of each was the place. It got me to thinking about a profound sacred space I stumbled upon during my service in the military.

I was stationed in Italy, and during an excursion to the mainland, I broke away from the group and began exploring a small city on my own. The city had been built around this large hill, and my curiosity as to what was on the top of that hill grew unbearable. I began winding through the streets, getting closer to where the city ended and the foliage began. Towards the threshold between the city and the rest of the hill was a small cathedral. I remember the sense of awe as I stood within the marble structure and gazed as pink light splattered through stained glass upon marble statues. On one side were representations of Catholic saints, and on the other side Roman gods. I found this peculiar and interesting, and somehow more determined to explore the hill.

I left the cathedral and began on the winding path into the hill side. The vegetation was lush and the green canopy of leaved branches protected me form the Mediterranean’s summer sun. With each step the land felt more alive and thriving. Yet a solemnity hid within archways and caverns that scattered along the way. I dared venture into some of them, but only a few steps and the darkness overwhelmed me and I hurried back out to the shaded canopy of the road.

On the top of the hill was a small museum. Unfortunately, my Italian was poor, and I could not understand what it was about. I later brought a friend with me who spoke Italian. He said the museum was dedicated to the temple of Apollo. My friend also said the place was used as a torture chamber during Mussolini’s rule. This explained the strange mixture of the sacred and the defiled I sensed when first exploring.

While telling my story, the minister picked up on the mention of the sacred and defiled, and said they often come together. I now think about the moments where I have stood on blood soaked ground here in the Palouse, where both Nez Perce and Euro-American blood were spilled. There are often two sides to the story depending on who is telling it. There is the narrative of the glorious expansion of manifest destiny on the Euro-American side, and the tragic loss of life in defense of their home on the side of the Nez Perce. To the local Euro-American culture these places are forgotten, but to the Nez Perce traditionalists the sacred and defiled are a potent mixture that cannot be ignored or forgotten and which they draw power from.

Since we are called No Unsacred Place, I thought this topic particularly relevant to our discussions. In the tradition of Cartesian dualism, western society often views the sacred and defiled as being on two ends of a spectrum, leading to the assumption they are mutually exclusive. However, as my experience teaches me, they co-exist in the same place and even harmonize together to create awe and power of their own.

What are some of the sacred defiled places you have encountered?

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Ehoah Bioregional Quiz, How well do you know the place in which you live?

May 31, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters.

In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars.

Looking at one galaxy we find an average star that hosts eight unassuming planets – four gas orbs, and four rock orbs.

But one of these planets is very different.

It is suffused with life, and that life is diverse as a result of the different environments this planet holds.  Yet, even with all this diversity none of these life forms would exist  without the intricate interconnections of a vast network of life-sustaining processes.  This larger system is, itself, composed of many smaller networks of life – each local system is a vital part of the whole.

What do you know of your local environment?

 

Ehoah Phrases

Here are thirty four questions to evaluate your awareness and literacy of the greater place in which you live:

 

SKY

1) Point to the nearest Pole (north or south pole).
Answer: The nearest pole can be determined by watching the shadows of a tall object in the open. Marking where it is at daybreak, midday (where the view of the sun is at the highest point in the day), and before nightfall. Where the shadows were during the day is the direction of the nearest pole,with the midday shadow pointing straight in that direction. If within the Tropics (are between the Borealis and Australis Sol Axis) this only works during the shorter days of the year.

This will not work if right on the equator as both poles are the same distance. Or if right on the Australis Sol Axis during Australis Lux (Pecora-Giraffa 1/December 21), or if right on the Borealis Sol Axis during Borealis Lux (Reptilia-Anguis 1/June 21), as the turning view of the sun is directly overhead during these times, only casting shadows in the east-west directions.

 

2) Name a constellation and find it in the night sky.
Suggestion: Find a star chart or ask a stargazer. Note: It can be a constellation recognized in whichever culture in the world

 

3) What is the current moon phase?
Suggestions: Read up on the moon and take a look outside, or find a lunar calendar
Hint: the moon can sometimes be seen during the day

 

4) Point to where the horizon crosses the sun at daybreak and nightfall on the equinox/equilux.
Hint: This is due east and due west; Suggestion: Go out during daybreak/revertosol (‘turn to sun’) and nightfall/avertosol (‘turn from sun’) on either equilux or equinox to see

 

5) Where does the horizon cross the sun on Lux (longest day of year) and Nox (longest night of year)?
Hint: The sun appears closer to the equator of the earth during the shortest days of the year, and appears closer to the poles for the longest days of the year; Suggestion: Go out during daybreak/revertosol (‘turn to sun’) and nightfall/avertosol (‘turn from sun’) on Lux & Nox to see

 

6) Today, where does the west horizon cross the sun at nightfall in relation to due west?
Hint: It shifts north-west and south-west at different times of year

 

7) From what direction do storms generally come?
Suggestion: Keep an eye to the sky

 

8) What is the region’s average rainfall?
Suggestion: Find a mean total precipitation map or The Weather Network Statistics for your area

 

EARTH

9) Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt?
[answer]

 

10) Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move?
Suggestion: Talk to local geologist or find geology map

 

11) How high above sea level are you?
Suggestion: Find a topographic map

 

12) What water body or water course does your runoff feed into?
Suggestion: Go out and follow the flow

 

13) What is your local watershed?
Suggestion: use a topographic map. [Wikipedia, Watershed]

 

14) If you live near the ocean, when is the next high tide?
Suggestions: Talk to local fishermen and enjoy more frequent walks on the coast

 

15) What is your ecosystem type? 
Suggestions: Find a ecosystem map of your area or talk to a biologist

 

16) How long is the growing season in your area?
Suggestion: Find a hardiness zone map, or a gardener

 

17) What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you are?
Suggestion: Find a Field Guide for your area and/or a gardener

 

18) Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available.
Suggestion: Find an Edible Plants Field Guide, or a gardener

 

19) Name five birds that live where you are. Which are migratory and which stay put?
Suggestion: Find a birding book or a birder

 

20) What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude?
Suggestion: Find an Atlas

 

21) Name a place on a different continent that has similar sunshine/rainfall/wind and temperature patterns to your area.
Suggestion: Find an ecosystem map

 

22) Name 3 species in your area that are threatened or endangered
Suggestion: contact your local wildlife agency

 

HISTORY

23) What primary geological processes or events shaped the land in your area?
Suggestions: Read up on local geology or talk with a local geologist

 

24) What extinct species once lived in your area (within the last thousand years)?
Suggestion: Talk to a local biologist or ecosystem related agency. Can also research extinct species of your continent

 

25) Name three wild species that were not found in the area 500 years ago but are now present. Name one exotic species that has appeared in the last 10 years.
Suggestion: Talk with local biologist or ecosystem related agency

 

CULTURE & CIVILIZATION

26) How did/do the indigenous people of the area sustain themselves?
Suggestion: consult local indigenous people, an archeologist or historian or their books

 

27) Are there any culturally significant geological features in your area?
Suggestion: Talk to local archeologist or cultural heritage agency

 

28) What valuable minerals can be found in your area?
Suggestion: Talk with local geologist or find a geological map

 

29) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.
Suggestion: If not in remote location ask your municipality

 

30) Where does your electric power come from and how is it generated? 
Suggestion: Read up on or talk with your electrical provider

 

31) When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?
Suggestion: If not in remote location ask your municipality

 

32) What happens to the items you recycle from your neighborhood?
Suggestion: Ask your municipality

 

33) Where is the closest source of significant pollution?
Suggestion: Take a look at your local industries

 

34) Where does your garbage go?
Suggestion: If not in remote location, ask your municipality

 

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Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Equal Length of Night & Day

March 19, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Nature in the News.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring
During the Borealis Equilux (this year on March 20) the equator is facing directly toward the sun, making the sun’s rays hit the two hemispheres equally causing equal lengths of day and night worldwide. At noon along the equatorial line virtually no shadows will be cast. Globally on this day, the point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk is due east and west. Making it a good time to figure out landmarks that aid in direction throughout the year or building projects that are reliant on the sun’s rays.

Ehoah-Globus_Borealis-Equilux

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons – Modified, Northward Equinox

For Borealis it will be going into longer days seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun higher and higher north; and for Australis there will be longer nights with the daily turning view of the sun lower along the north horizon. At the poles, it marks the start of the transition from 24 hours of nighttime to 24 hours of daylight in Borealis, and vice versa in Australis.

Global-Conditions_Borealis-Equilux

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons – Modified, World Average Air Temp. & World Precipitation Levels

 

Where the majority of earth’s population is (at and north of the Borealis Sol Axis – Tropic of Cancer with the addition of Southern & Western Europe) spring is in full effect with new leaves and flowers coming in and wildlife either expecting or just receiving the next generation. Farther North of the Borealis Sol Axis and the other regions of Europe winter is dissipating, either just beginning its thaw or in full flow feeding the watercourses and watertable.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is beginning to reach the equator, moving toward the Borealis Sol Axis

South of the equator it is overall getting darker, colder and the precipitation is lessening.

What are The Seasonal Customs

In Borealis, most of the temperate climes are celebrating the beginnings of spring, where eggs are a common theme. For the warmer climes of Borealis, spring is in full effect with winter as history. Both climes have themes this time of year that celebrate life – particularly new life; and with the longest nights well behind, themes of a new day often symbolized as dawn. Because of these occurrences many regions regard this as a time for new beginnings, thereby it marks the New Year for their respective calendars.

Various celebrations around the time of Equilux include: Accepting the many experiences life holds in its many forms in dishes symbolically flavoured as different emotions; Bonfires and festivities on the full moon nearest Equilux; Decorating and splashing each other with bright colours; Acceptance of raucous and pranking behaviour; Getting outside for extended periods with camping and other outdoor recreational activities; Egg Painting; Growing sprouts and starting harvest vegetation to plant; Courting customs and rituals by young adults to gain better chances at obtaining a spouse; House cleaning and symbolic rituals to shed away the darkness of winter, ‘evil’, or bad luck; as well as enacting rituals for fertile land and good harvest to come.

A growing custom that is well received is putting out loose fiber balls among the trees or other easily found places for birds to use in their nest building. For a festive touch these can be brightly coloured fibers or the loose shape made to look like a bird or other recognizable seasonal shape.

Not much is known of the seasonal festivities of Australis due to it being heavily Christianized – with old traditions being mostly abolished and replaced with Christian festivities done at the same time as done in Borealis even though it is out of season. Depending on the climate of each region it can be assumed that most harvesting is done around this time of year and has potential for light ceremonies and festivals in response to the growing dark. There are some earth based traditions that have taken root in Australis that accommodate for seasonal celebrations. Two of which are referred to in the Australis Chart. If there are any other known seasonal festivities that are in Australis, please comment below so they can be accounted for.

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Holi

Early February – Late March

Full moon nearest Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

Chahārshanbe-Sūri

Early March

Last Tuesday before Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Nowrūz

Late March

Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Ostara, Alban Eilir

Late March

Equilux

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Europe

German

Equilux

Late March

Equilux

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Sham El Nessim

Late March to Early April

First Sunday after full Moon Following Equilux (originally on Equilux)

Gregorian calendar

North Africa

Egyptian

Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Chaitti, Basoa

Late March to Early April

1st Day of Chaitra – Either Equilux or the first morning after the new moon after Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

April Fools, poisson d’avril, prima aprilis, aprilsnar / Sizdah Bedar

Early April

April 1 / 13th day after Nowruz (Equilux)

Gregorian calendar /

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Mabon, Alban Elfed

Late March

Equinox

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Nations

Neopagan

Equinox

Late March

Equinox

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

 

GLOBUS

World Water Day – on March 22

International Day of Forests – on March 21

World Citizen Day – on March 20

For World Citizen Day, there is a related on going petition to the United Nations Ambassadors about achieving a globally recognized world passport #WorldPassport #WorldCitizen

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Cultural Quandaries: We Are In Space

March 4, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

Earth and Sun from Space
(Image Credit: NASA)

This is a continuation of the “Referencing the Sun” post. Many views were expressed there after and some excellent points made. This post will take the extra step out to describe the bigger picture of our relationship with the cosmos, and hopefully better describe what I had been trying to express before with better understanding thanks to the responses made.

Many have expressed that speaking of the sun rising and setting is completely fine in that is how it appears to us on earth. This takes a very regional outlook, you are here and this is how you see things. Everything else is out there and the happenings out there are not something to overly concern yourself with because it doesn’t impact you. Well, I’ll argue that because it is out of our purview makes it all the more important to bring it in our view; because what happens with the moon, sun and the other side of the earth does impact us. On the largest scale this becomes all the more apparent when asteroids are poised to strike our planet, on the smallest scale the spinning of our planet causes winds, winds that carry everything that we express into the air. Winds that all creatures share in breath. That from earth the sky looks vast and seems impossible to fill it with things that change it. Which from space this ocean of air looks extremely fragile – seen as a thin line that just barely covers the surface of the planet, protecting everything on earth from certain death of the harshness of space.

We often have the perspective of being on earth and everything else in the cosmos is out there, far in the distance. But not only are we of the cosmos, with our molecules originating from the “chemically enriched guts” of an exploded ancient star, we are very much in Space right now. Some describing this as being on Spaceship Earth “…finite and lonely, somehow vulnerable, bearing the entire human species through the oceans of space and time.”- Carl Sagan

Knowing all this it seems awkward to not describe our relationship with the cosmos in a way that reflects this.

To engage in a way that brings all these interconnections into focus aids in not only feeling that connection, that is described in many various ways through philosophy and religion; but in this feeling brings to the forefront a need to work interconnectedly for the well being of ourselves through the well being of the planet. That is the root reason for the topic of ‘referencing the sun’ to establish that interconnection of the cosmos beyond the experiences of our immediate location. “The beauty of seeing earth as a planet as opposed to being down here among it is a wonderful experience – to then start to get into what we call the big picture effect or overview effect.” – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo Astronaut. The overview effect has been described as follows, “to see things that we know but don’t experience which is that the earth is one system, we’re all part of that system, and that there is a certain unity and coherence to it all.” – Frank White.

 

ADDENDUM
(11 Artiodactyla 7 A.E. – 1 November 2013 C.E.)

Here is a short film of earth spinning in space from an on earth perspective.
It is fun while watching to figure out which direction the earth is spinning -
it creates a new appreciation of our view from our planet.

 

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Colloquial Quandaries: Referencing the Sun

January 8, 2013 by Categorized: Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

This is a new addition to a set of non-linear series first addressed in Blog Beast. Colloquial Quandaries is a sub-series of Cultural Quandaries in that it specifically addresses the colloquial in our culture – our way of speech.

East Bluff Dawn by Rua Lupa

In this addition of Colloquial Quandaries the topic of referencing the sun will be discussed, particularly the common phrases ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’.

The Cosmos series narrated by Carl Sagan in episode 10, minute 44. (It is best viewed from minute 32 to have a good understanding of the circumstances of the time in reference and its influence in modern times.) Tells of how a Greek philosopher by the name of Aristarchus (310 BC – ca. 230 BC) deduced that the earth turns on an axis and goes around the sun along with the other planets. But the people of the time suppressed this revelation which later had been brought up again and credited to Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) which referenced Aristarchus in his manuscripts, but suppressed the reference in the published version. It has been 2200yrs since Aristarchus’s time and we still reference our world as if the earth is the center of it. We talk of the sun rising and the sun setting. Our language still portends that the earth does not turn.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing? That is a possibility. Yet I argue that terms and their associations can have unintended profound impacts on society. History already shows this with Aristarchus and the lack of acknowledgement of his findings – ‘the sun rises, everyone knows that’. Its not too hard to imagine this to occur again when so many people already easily forget world influencing history. History has a habit of repeating itself when not ingrained in the cultural memory. Sunrise and Sunset is what is still ingrained in the cultural memory. Most everyone under the age of 13 (perhaps even 14) believes that the sun rises and sets, and don’t question otherwise because that is what everyone around them says. There are also a surprising number of adults who have forgotten this not long after their school years, slipping into accepting what is said – the sun rises. Hypothetically, if there were to be a sudden global catastrophe (i.e. An asteroid) or societal crash (i.e. The Dark Ages) where society would have to build up again like that from the loss of the Library of Alexandria, at least there would be less to build up from if the colloquial terms are accurate to reality. The commonality of these phrases in our language make it another hurdle in learning about how our world works. And it is an unnecessary one.

I believe that a new phrase or term, what ever it may be, that is true to the nature of things will greatly aid in our society connecting to the greater world and universe. Having a better intrinsic understanding from early on in life gives an early start to being able to grasp the bigger picture – one less wall to climb in having to reassess our world view of how things work. There is much more to gain than lose in such an endeavour.

Should we not try to encourage our language to be accurate to what is really happening?

What word or phrases could we use instead?

Are there other terms used with regards to the sun, earth, day or night, that are misleading?

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Directional Invocations, Palouse Style

December 17, 2012 by Categorized: Earthly Rites.

This last week, along with Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse‘s new minister and  the Green Sanctuary Committee, I’ve been busy devising a Winter Solstice Celebration. It has been a few years since our church has hosted such a celebration. The last time was an attempted fusion of religious naturalist sensibility with neopagan structure with an injection of local ecological awareness.

Warm Winter Sun Bath from Wikimedia Commons

This year, the minister is taking the lead with a focus on the darkness and with children participating to “return the light.” The service will be more universalist in approach and should prove to be a new experience for anyone who has attended our past Winter Solstice Ceremonies. If any readers are in the Pullman, WA & Moscow, ID area I encourage you to attend. (More information is available here.)

We still have some logistics to work on, and my part is the acknowledging of the directions. This is a tradition I have adapted and adopted over the years. Unlike many neopagan traditions, the directions are not assigned to any color, season, element, or gender; instead, the focus is on how the directions relate to my life-place (in this case, the Palouse). Most times I improvised these acknowledgements, but I felt a more formal touch was required and have written a variation for the upcoming service:

East

Called by impulse to survive,
the salmon lay eggs in the east
the mountains give birth to
sacred rivers cutting pathways in the earth.
The Palouse stretches into the east
where the sun bursts each morning.

North

Called by impulse to survive,
the geese fly from the North.
The north brings us the snow
wrapped within the sacred darkness.
The Palouse stretches into the north
with the cold embrace of transformation.

West

Called by impulse to survive,
the salmon swim from the west.
Clouds come from the west,
carrying sacred rain in their bosoms.
The Palouse stretches into the west
where the sun sinks each evening.

South

Called by impulse to survive,
The geese flew to the south.
The south awaits patiently
for the return of the sacred brightness.
The Palouse stretches into the south
with the warm embrace of transformation.

Humanity

We mourn with the land
as our industry confuses the seasons;
as our neglect threatens the survival of many species;
as our ignorance has blinded us from our deep humanity.
We gather here to touch our deep humanity through celebrating
the land as our flesh and the sky as our breath.

One thing the keen observer might notice is that I start in the east and go counter-clockwise instead of clockwise as some might expect. The reasoning behind this is to follow the path of the earth around the sun and not the perceived path of the sun in the sky. Given our understanding of the Earth’s gravitational pull around the sun, I feel counter-clockwise is more appropriate.

Anyone with knowledge of Pacific Northwest ecology might identify with the imagery I’ve invoked:

  • On this side of the Continental Divide, rivers flow east to west.
  • Salmon are a vital traditional food staple of local indigenous people and restoring salmon population is an important conservation effort.
  • The geese have prominent migration patterns during the changing of the seasons.
  • The warm winds often come from the south, and the cold winds often come from the north.
  • The semi-arid climate of The Inland Northwest is a product of the Cascade Rainshadow which results in cold air on the west of the range pushing warm air over to the east.

I felt it necessary for the closing to speak directly to the impact of humanity in the environment, but to end with a positive focus of re-cultivating humanity’s sacred place within the ecosystem.

I hope this serves as a practical example of how sacred ecology builds new rituals, ceremonies, and traditions from the landscape and local ecology where one lives. Also, it can be easily applied to already existing traditions. The idea is to ground religious events with local ecological awareness.

Six Seeds by Alison Leigh Lilly

I would be delighted to hear others’ comments on:

  • How do you integrate local ecological awareness and identity into your ceremonies, rituals, traditions, and celebrations?
  • If you where to use the above example as a template what features of your life-place’s unique landscape and ecology would you be compelled to include and why?
  • What role does local ecology play in your personal spiritual identity? (Whether it be Wicca, witchcraft, neodruid, Asatru, religious naturalist, Unitarian Universalist, deist, polytheist, neopagan, or any other philosophy or spiritual system.)

For me, the key to 21st century sacred ecology is to combine creative inspiration with practical knowledge of your surroundings. If you feel so moved and inspired, be free to take my words and rewrite them to be specific to your life-place and your relationship with its unique ecology. Or share a unique short sample of poetry, prose, or prayer you have created to express the intimate relationship you have with the land around you.

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Earth and Nature Holidays – April 2012

March 31, 2012 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Sustainable Energy (2012)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy in order to “increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use, for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, sustainable development and the protection of the global climate, and to promote action at the local, national, regional and international level” to work towards ensuring energy access for all and to protect the environment through the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, cleaner technologies and newer energy sources. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.

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Keep America Beautiful Month

  • “In 1953 a group of individuals formed an organization called ‘Keep America Beautiful‘ aimed at reducing the amount of littering on public lands, highways and waterways, encouraging Americans to take pride in America. It is the nation’s largest volunteer based community action and education group. Since its conception, it really has grown in leaps and bounds with campaigns and promotions such as:
    - ‘Close the Loop, Buy Recycled’ U.S. EPA partnership
    - Web-based educational tools, including Clean Sweep U.S.A
    - ‘Back By Popular Neglect’ PSA campaign

    “Each April is Keep America Beautiful month drawing attention to the campaigns and research done by Keep America Beautiful and their three primary areas of focus: litter reduction, waste minimization, and beautification.” (from ecofriendlydaily.com)

National Garden Month

  • “Every April communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate gardening during National Garden Month. Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Join the celebration and help to make America a greener, healthier, more livable place!” (from the official website)

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International Holidays

  • April 7World Health Day
    “Every year, World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of concern for WHO. The topic of World Health Day in 2012 is Ageing and health with the theme “Good health adds life to years”. The focus is how good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities. Ageing concerns each and every one of us – whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor – no matter where we live.” (from the official website)
  • April 12Yuri’s Night
    “Yuri’s Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In 2004, people celebrated Yuri’s Night in 34 countries in over 75 individual events. Locations have included Los Angeles, Stockholm, Antarctica, the San Francisco Bay Area, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and the International Space Station. The goal of Yuri’s Night is to increase public interest in space exploration and to inspire a new generation of explorers. Driven by space-inspired artistic expression and culminating in a worldwide network of annual celebrations and educational events, Yuri’s Night creates a global community of young people committed to shaping the future of space exploration while developing responsible leaders and innovators with a global perspective. These global events are a showcase for elements of culture that embrace space including music, dance, fashion, and art.” (from Wikipedia)
  • April 15 – 21World Creativity and Innovation Week
    “World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 is a celebration of our ability to get new ideas, use imagination and make new decisions to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too. Do what you can, do what you like. There’s only one rule: do no harm.” (from the official website)
  • April 15 – 21International Dark Sky Week
    “International Dark-Sky Week (IDSW), held during the week of the new moon in April, is a week during which people worldwide turn out their lights in order to observe the beauty of the night sky without light pollution. This event was founded in 2003 by Jennifer Barlow of Midlothian, Virginia, and its popularity and participation increases every year.” (from Wikipedia)
  • April 18World Heritage Day
    “World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.” (from the official website)
  • April 22Mother Earth Day

    “The proclamation of 22 April as International Mother Earth Day is an acknowledgement that the Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity. International Mother Earth Day provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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On the Function of Time on the Magic of Place

March 23, 2012 by Categorized: Restorying the Sacred.

Some permutation of us travels to this camp every year: 65 to 80 Witches on a heart-shaped island in a frozen lake in Wisconsin. We reconnect to this land and each other, feeling the magic of the snow-covered landscape. The experiences I have in those five days could fill this column for the rest of the year.

Every place has its sacredness and magic–which is the whole point of No Unsacred Place–but I wonder about the function of time in the magic of place. There have been a few opportunities, over the years, to travel to “our” island in the summer months. I’ve been unable to attend, but I doubt I would’ve been brave enough to go even if I could’ve. How many times in stories do the glittering castles and glamorous gowns of night revert to dilapidated shacks and dirt-stained rags when viewed in daylight? If I visit the island in summer, would I recognize its magic? Would it recognize me?

snow-covered path through trees

Photo by Leora Effinger-Weintraub, 2009, under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Our winter gathering on the island has a contained, condensed feel, as an acorn wrapping itself in its shell. We cram tremendous activity into a short timespan, and although we have the run of the island, the often harsh realities of Wisconsin winter mean that, in practice, we tend to restrict ourselves to a few buildings, the spaces between, and, for the brave among us, the frozen surface of the lake itself. We are cradled. Cocooned. We love those places dearly, but do we truly know the whole of the place?

When we dwell in a place, we form a deep, special bond with that place. We know all of its faces and moods. We sense its rhythms and know if they are off. Seeing through its disguises, we know its continuity. Our love for it may not be glamorous, and we run the risk of that love becoming stale, but it is deep and abiding.

When we return to a place year after year, but in only one season, we form a bond of a different kind. Our relationship is to the time of our return as well as to the place. We feel ourselves connected to the place and ourselves as we are now, as we were when first we arrived, as we hope to be in the returns to come, but not necessarily to the place and ourselves as we are at different phases of the year. It can be a shallow love, but is also fierce and passionate, helping us maintain an eager newness that lessens the likelihood of taking the place for granted.

Do we stand up differently for places we love in all seasons than for those we merely pass through from time to time? If ecological catastrophe threatened the island, how would I stand up for it differently than I would my home, or than would the people who call the area around the island home? Would I dare to join whatever measures were enacted to defend it? Would I dare not to? How can we harness the best of both kinds of relationships in defense of the places that, at the end of the day, we all just want to love and treat well?

We encounter place in both space and time. Nothing is truly unchanging. We can but meet the place with our full selves, as we are at every moment, and let that moment meet us, as well.

person walking across frozen lake

Photo by Leora Effinger-Weintraub, 2009, under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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Earth and Nature Holidays – March 2012

March 2, 2012 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Sustainable Energy (2012)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy in order to “increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use, for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, sustainable development and the protection of the global climate, and to promote action at the local, national, regional and international level” to work towards ensuring energy access for all and to protect the environment through the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, cleaner technologies and newer energy sources. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.

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International Holidays

  • March 14International Day of Action for Rivers
    “March 14 is the International Day of Action For Rivers and Against Dams. Every year hundreds of people around the world lift their voices to celebrate the world’s rivers and the thousands of people who struggle to protect them. The International Day of Action For Rivers is a day to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration. It is a day to take to the streets, demonstrate and demand improvements in the policies and practices of decision makers. It is a day to educate one another about the threats facing our rivers, and learn about better water and energy solutions. Above all, it is a day to unite – by acting together, we demonstrate that these issues are not merely local, but global in scope.” (from the official website)
  • March 20Vernal / Autumnal Equinox
    Religious and spiritual traditions all over the world celebrate the autumnal/vernal equinox as a holy day in the cycles of the seasons.
  • March 22World Water Day
    “International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. On this page, we present a brief overview of the different themes that have been the focus of World Water Day celebrations.” (from the official website)
  • Mrch 23World Meteorological Day
    “The United Nations’ (UN) World Meteorological Day is annually held on or around March 23 to remember the World Meteorological Organization’s establishment on that date in 1950. World Meteorological Day often features various events such as conferences, symposia and exhibitions for meteorological professionals, community leaders and the general public. Some events aim to attract media attention to raise meteorology’s profile. Many countries issue postage stamps or special postage stamp cancellation marks to celebrate World Meteorological Day. These stamps often reflect the event’s theme or mark a country’s meteorology achievements.” (learn more here)
  • March 31, 8:30 – 9:30 PMEarth Hour
    “Hundreds of millions of people, businesses and governments around the world unite each year to support the largest environmental event in history – Earth Hour.

    More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011 alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action for the planet. Without a doubt, it’s shown how great things can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

  • March 1Baba Marta (Bulgaria)
  • March 1International Day of the Seal (USA)
  • March 1National Pig Day (USA)
  • March 1Mărţişor (Romania)
  • March 1St. David’s Day (Wales, International)
  • March 3Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) (Japan)
  • March 4 – 10Sea Week (Australia)
  • March 5National Tree Planting Day (Iran)
  • March 11 – 17National Groundwater Awareness Week (USA)
  • March 12Arbor Day (China, Taiwan)
  • March 14Dita e Verës (Summer Festival) (Albania)
  • March 17St. Patrick’s Day (Ireland, International)
  • March 17 – 23National Water Week (Nepal)
  • March 19Tree Hugging Day (USA)
  • March 20World Frog Day (USA)
  • March 21Nowruz (Persian New Year)
  • March 21International Day of Tree Planting (Belgium)
  • March 21National Tree Planting Day (Lesotho)
  • March 21Festival of Trees (Netherlands)
  • March 21Arbor Day (Portugal)
  • March 22North American Wildlife Celebration (USA)
  • March 24National Tree Planting Day (Uganda)

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – January 2012

January 1, 2012 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

~

International Year of Sustainable Energy (2012)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy in order to “increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use, for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, sustainable development and the protection of the global climate, and to promote action at the local, national, regional and international level” to work towards ensuring energy access for all and to protect the environment through the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, cleaner technologies and newer energy sources. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.

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International Holidays

  • January 1New Year’s Day
    Many cultures celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new around the time of the winter solstice, with festivities around the world focusing especially on the final day of the internationally accepted civil calendar.

    New Year’s Eve also corresponds to the annual date of the zenith of Sirius, the brightest visible star that can be seen from earth. Sirius reaches its highest point in the sky around mid-night (half way between sunrise and sunset) on the eve of the new year.

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National Holidays Around the World

  • January 1National Tree Planting Day (Tanzania)
  • January 2Ancestry Day/Forefather’s Day (Haiti)
  • January 2 – 4Cassé Gâteau (“Breaking the Cakes”) (Vodou)
  • January 10Save the Eagles Day (US)
  • January 14Makar Sankranti (Hinduism)
  • January 25Pusiaužiemis / Kirmeline (“Day of the Serpents”) (Lithuania)

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – December 2011

December 1, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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International Holidays

  • December 5International Volunteer Day
    The United Nations celebrates the thousands of volunteers working across the globe to help foster sustainable human development, many of whom are involved in environmentalism and conservation.

    “IVD [International Volunteer Day] offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions – at local, national and international levels – to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Over the years, rallies, parades, community volunteering projects, environmental awareness, free medical care and advocacy campaigns have all featured prominently on IVD. Apart from mobilising thousands of volunteers every year, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme works closely with partners and governments to establish national volunteer programmes to create structures that foster and sustain local volunteerism in countries. Through the Online Volunteering service volunteers can take action for sustainable human development by supporting the activities of development organizations over the Internet. Every day thousands of people are volunteering, online or on-site, contributing to peace and development and working to achieve the MDGs.” (from the official website)

  • December 10Human Rights Day
    As the #Occupy movement has spread world-wide, environmentalists and protesters alike see the relationship between protecting the environment and upholding basic human rights. Celebrate 63 years since the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    “This year, millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. They took to the streets and demanded change. Many found their voices using the internet and instant messaging to inform, inspire and mobilize supporters to seek their basic human rights. Social media helped activists organize peaceful protest movements in cities across the globe – from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York – at times in the face of violent repression. Human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. As a global community we all share a day in common: Human Rights Day on 10 December, when we remember the creation 63 years ago of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (from the official website)

  • December 11International Mountain Day
    “International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands. This year’s International Mountain Day theme will focus on Mountains and Forests. It aims to raise awareness about the relevance of mountain forests and the role they play within a Green Economy as well as in climate change adaptation measures. Healthy mountain forests are crucial to the ecological health of the world. They protect watersheds that supply freshwater to more than half the world’s people. They also are the home of untold wildlife, provide food and fodder for mountain people and are important sources of timber and non-wood products. Yet in many parts of the world mountain forests are under threat as never before and deforestation in tropical mountain forests continues at an astounding rate. Protecting these forests and making sure they are carefully managed is an important step towards sustainable mountain development.” (from the official website)
  • December 20 – 25Winter Solstice / Summer Solstice
    Religious and spiritual traditions all over the world celebrate the winter/summer solstice as a holy day in the cycles of the seasons. Many holidays, such as Christmas and Hanukkah, are heavily influenced by the seasonal tides and have given rise to local customs such as Las Posadas and the Night of the Radishes in Mexico and Guatemala, and Junkanoo in the Bahamas.
  • December 31New Year’s Eve
    Many cultures celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the new around the time of the winter solstice, with festivities around the world focusing especially on the final day of the internationally accepted civil calendar.

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Green Holidays Around the World

  • December 3World Conservation Day (Autralia)
  • December 4Kamolo Day (Thanksgiving) (Marshall Islands)
  • December 6Farmers’ Day (Ghana)
  • December 8Blessing of the Waters Day (or, Beaches Day) (Uruguay)
  • December 10Ganga-Bois (Haiti)
  • December 12 – 14Agou-Arroyo (“Feeding the Sea”) (Haiti)
  • December 31Hogmanay (Scotland)
  • December 31Ōmisoka (Japan/Shinto)

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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The Shape

October 27, 2011 by Categorized: Natural Reflections.

(Originally written for my blog two years ago. Images courtesy of wikimedia commons)

 

As I cross my fingers and toes and murmur “Safe, safe, safe” to myself the airplane lifts, we take off and rise up abouve the river valley, passing over low mountains once as tall and mighty as the Rockies … or nearly so. Now they are withered and wind scored, worn down to their very bones. Overgrown with dust and sagebrush, bare rock thrusting out of the crust of the Earth and into a perfect Indian Summer sky.

I know this Province like I know my own body. I recite the names of rivers and lakes, peaks and towns like an invocation as we pass over. There runs the North Thompson River winding up a green valley surrounded by brown hills and low mountains. There is Salmon Arm; the Monashee Mountains give way to the Kootenays before we pass over the Arrow Lakes stretching up to the North and out of sight.

The Land grows greener as we move east. The green glorious peaks of the Kootenays give way to the snow caped Rockies. Rising up like great waves upon an angry sea of earth, stone, snow and forest, the Rockies are an impressive sight to behold whether you are flying abouve them or standing at their roots, in the shadows of the great mountains.

Along the way one shape stands out to me. Repeating again and again. This is the shape of a streambed reaching out and through the land, the shape of the tops of ridges, of tree branches. This is the shape of the valleys far below, cutting their way into a mountainous landscape.

I touch my heart, my lungs. I trace my circulatory and nervous systems. Finding within myself the same shape reflected and repeated. This shape, this sacred geometry, this doodle of Nature reminds me that my beating heart is made of the same stuff as the Land below. Created by the same Hand, born of the same Womb. I feel as if I can trace those distant streambeds and ridges with the same intimacy as I would follow the course of my blood from heart to fingertip and back again. This shape repeats itself, passing before my sight, upon the land, and within my own flesh.

I lean against my window and allow myself to drift into a light doze and then find myself slipping into a dream state, I dream of being handed a white branch of cold flame. Is it the shock of the searing cold of this silver flame that wakes me, or the turbulence that sends my forehead smacking against the window?

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Earth and Nature Holidays – October 2011

October 4, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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Energy Awareness Month

  • “The 2011 Energy Awareness Month theme is Turn Words into Action; Turn Action into Results. Wise energy attitudes, behaviors, and organizational decisions ensure results. Take time to review your daily routine to conserve energy, empower others to take action, and join together to save energy and money. Participate in site-specific energy action programs, expand existing activities, and align efforts with your agency’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP). Now is the time to act with urgency to achieve a clean and secure energy economy and save taxpayer dollars. Turn awareness into action. Turn intent into investment. Turn opportunities into outcomes.” (from the official website)

World Vegetarian Awareness Month

  • “Make a difference this October by informing others about the benefits of vegetarianism. You will be helping to create a better world because vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, save animals’ lives and help to preserve the Earth. It’s easy to get involved. Display our free, colorful, informative poster in your community. You can post it at a local store, office, coffee shop, library, school or other suitable location. Use it as a great way to start a discussion about the benefits of vegetarianism with the people in your life.” (from the official website)

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International Holidays

  • October 1World Vegetarian Day
    “World Vegetarian Day was established as an annual celebration to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism. The day was originated by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978. October 1st is the official date, however if necessary, individuals may schedule their event on a nearby date instead.” (from the official website)
  • October 2World Farm Animals Day
    “World Farm Animals Day takes place on October 2nd, which honors the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, an outspoken advocate of non-violence towards animals. WFAD observances are hosted by volunteers in communities in all 50 U.S. states and 2 dozen other countries. Participants include animal advocacy groups and individual activists- anyone and everyone who cares about animals is encouraged to join us in this global outcry. In addition to promoting a vegan lifestyle, the 2010 observance will reveal the ways that animal agribusiness manipulates the government, institutions, and a well-meaning public in order to sell more cruel products.” (from the official website)
  • October 3World Habitat Day
    “The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. This year, World Habitat Day will be celebrated on 3 October 2011 and the Global Celebration will be hosted by the Government of Mexico. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. The United Nations chose the theme Cities and Climate Change was chosen because climate change is fast becoming the preeminent development challenge of the 21st century. Indeed, no-one today can really foresee the predicament in which a town or city will find itself in 10, 20 or 30 years time. In this new urban era with most of humanity now living in towns and cities, we must bear in mind that the greatest impacts of disasters resulting from climate change begin and end in cities. Cities too have a great influence on climate change.” (from the official website)
  • October 4World Animal Day
    “World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. It is intended as a day of celebration for anyone in the world who cares about animals. It is not restricted to any one nationality, creed, religion, political belief or ideology.” (from the official website)
  • October 15International Day of Rural Women
    “The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes ‘the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.’ At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 it was suggested that 15 October be celebrated as ‘World Rural Women’s Day,’ on the the eve of World Food Day, in order to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security. ‘World Rural Women’s Day’ has been celebrated, primarily by civil society, across the world for over a decade.” (from the official website)
  • October 16Blog Action Day
    “Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. For 2011, our Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, so our topic of discussion for this year will be food. We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, whilst too much is causing a generation of new health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living. Food is important to our culture, identity and daily sustenance and the team at Blog Action invite you to join us to talk about food.” (from the official website)
  • October 16World Food Day
    “Price swings, upswings in particular, represent a major threat to food security in developing countries. Hardest-hit are the poor. According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty. FOOD PRICES – FROM CRISIS TO STABILITY has been chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme to shed some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable. On World Food Day 2011, let us look seriously at what causes swings in food prices, and do what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest members of global society.” (from the official website)
  • October 17International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
    “The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the General Assembly, by resolution 47/196, designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries – a need that has become a development priority. 17 October presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty. Participation of the poor themselves has been at the center of the Day’s celebration since its very beginning. The commemoration of 17 October also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty. The theme of the observance this year is ‘From Poverty to Decent Work: Bridging the Gap’.” (from the official website)
  • October 27World Paper Free Day
    “Paper is a costly crutch and one that may be handicapping your office more than helping. Research shows that we will have close to 10x more information in 2011 compared to 2006, which means that organizations with paper based processes and archiving will drown in paper. Going paperless will therefore not only help the environment, but make an organization more efficient with easier and simultaneous access to valuable information from across the organization. Last year over 57,000 people participated in the first World Paper Free Day. Grow this group and bring your office into the 21st century without the paper trail.” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – September 2011

September 1, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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National Honey Month

  • “Americans consume nearly 1.5 pounds of honey per person annually – mixing it into sweet and savory recipes, adding spoonfuls to tea and other beverages, and drizzling it over biscuits, toast and muffins. Consumers can choose from hundreds of honey varieties, each with a special flavor characteristic. These varietal or “mono-floral” honeys result from the bees gathering nectar from flowers of only one type of plant. Honeys may range from clover and eucalyptus to orange blossom, buckwheat and sage. Generally, lighter colored honeys are milder in flavor, while darker honeys are usually more robust. Local beekeepers are a great source for single varietal honeys, selling their products at farmer’s markets and specialty stores. Visit the honey locator at www.honeylocator.com to find a floral source specific to your area. Explore honey’s versatility, benefits and deliciousness, and have a sweet National Honey Month!” (from the National Honey Board website)

Organic Harvest Month

  • “In 1992, the Organic Trade Association implemented ‘Organic Harvest Month’, a widespread promotion of organic food and agriculture through regional and local events. The objective of Organic Harvest Month is to highlight organic agriculture and the growing organic products industry. September is also an ideal time for consumers and retailers to celebrate the bounty of the organic harvest. Events and celebrations of all shapes and sizes take place across North America, in parks, schools, stores, farmers’ markets and at restaurants. Events in the past have included Gastronomic Walking Tours, Organic Country Fairs, organic-themed barn dances, special displays and tastings at supermarkets and special pull-out sections in local newspapers.” (from the Organic Trade Association website)

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International Holidays

  • September 16 – 18Clean Up the World Weekend
    “The campaign’s flagship event is Clean Up the World Weekend, held on the 3rd weekend in September each year. In addition to uniting millions in global environmental action, Clean Up the World Weekend serves as a celebration of participants’ year round activities. By promoting their achievements internationally, Clean Up the World focuses public attention on global community concerns for the environment and how each individual can make a positive contribution to a cleaner and healthier world.” (from the official website)
  • September 16International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
    “In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (resolution 49/114). States were invited to devote the Day to promote activities in accordance with the objectives of the Protocol and its amendments. The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.” (from the official website)
  • September 17International Coastal Cleanup Day
    “Over the past twenty-five years, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean on just one day each year. They have recorded every item found, giving us a clear picture of the manufactured items impacting the health of humans, wildlife, and economies. As our 2011 report demonstrates, the body of data from the International Coastal Cleanup has inspired action to rid the ocean of harmful trash. During the amazing signature event each September, hundreds of thousands of volunteers from countries all over the world spend a day picking up everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to lost fishing nets and major appliances. Because trash travels to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways, they don’t just work along ocean beaches; these dedicated folks slog through mud and sand along lakes, streams, and rivers, too, often working far inland.” (from the official website)
  • September 18World Water Monitoring Day
    “World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. In 2010, over 200,000 people in 85 countries monitored their local waterways. Celebrate with us on September 18, or host your World Water Monitoring Day anytime from March 22 until December 31!” (from the official website)
  • September 21International Day of Peace/Peace One Day
    “In September 1999 I [Jeremy Gilley] founded the film project Peace One Day to document my efforts to create an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence with a fixed calendar date. In 2001, Peace One Day achieved its primary objective. United Nations General Assembly resolution (A/Res/55/282) was unanimously adopted by UN member states, formally establishing an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence on the UN International Day of Peace, fixed in the global calendar on 21st September. With the day in place, Peace One Day’s aim now is to institutionalise Peace Day across the world so it becomes self-sustaining. Not only has Peace Day been proved as a catalyst for broad-ranging civil society action by individuals and groups in every country of the world, but also for life-saving activities. As a key driver towards the institutionalisation of Peace Day, Peace One Day is calling for and working towards a day of ceasefire and non-violence on Peace Day 21 September 2012 – a Global Truce. We hope this will be the largest reduction in global violence in recorded history, both domestically and internationally.” (from a letter from Jeremy Gilley, on the official website)
  • September 22 – 23Autumnal / Vernal Equinox
    Religious and spiritual traditions all over the world celebrate the autumnal/vernal equinox as a holy day in the cycles of the seasons.
  • September 22World Car-Free Day
    “Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society. But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to “normal” life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars. Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year.” (from the official website)
  • September 24Moving Planet: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels
    “The goal is to get moving beyond fossil fuels—both symbolically by pouring into the streets in the thousands on foot, bicycle and other means of sustainable movement, and politically by bringing powerful demands to our leaders that day to move beyond fossil fuels to a 350ppm world. Mobilizing for individual and community solutions will continue to be important—but one of the main goals for Moving Planet is to demand government action, especially in places where governments are stalling on climate action despite the overwhelming urgency of the science.” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – August 2011

August 5, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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International Holidays

  • August 1Lammas/Lughnasadh
    During the month of August and the late summer season, religious and spiritual traditions the world over celebrate sacred festivals of ripening and harvest. In modern Pagan traditions, the most widely known in the northern hemisphere are the Wiccan festival of Lammas, the Celtic/Druidic festival of Lughnasadh, and the Norse holiday of Freyfaxi, all of which fall on August 1. Among the indigenous peoples of North America, the Green Corn Ceremony marks the ripening of the corn harvest with dancing, feasting, fasting and other religious observances. (In the southern hemisphere, many modern Pagans celebrate Imbolc on the same date.)
  • August 9International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
    “The focus of this year’s International Day will be Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future. This theme highlights the need for preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures, including their art and intellectual property. It can also be used to showcase indigenous artists and cooperatives or businesses who are taking inspiration from indigenous peoples’ customs and the indigenous communities who may have participated or benefited from this.” (from the official website)
  • August 20International Homeless Animals’ Day
    “Organizations around the world come together on the third Saturday of August to raise awareness about the pet overpopulation epidemic. International Homeless Animals’ Day activities often include candlelight vigils, adopt-a-thons, microchip clinics, blessings of the animals, and heartfelt speeches given by council members, local veterinarians, humane officers and shelter personnel. Other activities include slideshows, rallies, dog walks, open houses, award ceremonies, live music, raffles, and games. To read about previous International Homeless Animals’ Day events, please visit our Newsletters page on our website.” (from the official website)
  • August 20 – 27World Water Week
    “From 20 to 27 of August, 2011, the World Water Week will take place in Stockholm, Sweden under the overarching theme “Water in an Urbanising World”. The World Water Week in Stockholm, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute, is the leading annual global meeting place for capacity-building, partnership-building and follow-up on the implementation of international processes and programmes in water and development.” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – July 2011

July 2, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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July Belongs to Berries Month

  • The month of July is a time to celebrate the exquisite, juicy flavors of berries of all kinds — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, you name it! Take some time this month to appreciate the nutritional and culinary benefits of berries. Add them to salad for a splash of color, eat them fresh (or frozen) for a sweet snack, or bake them into a pie for an amazing summer treat. Seek out local and organic sources of berries and get to know which berries grow in your bioregion.

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International Holidays

  • July 11World Population Day
    “World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, approximately the date on which the world’s population reached five billion people.” (from the Wikipedia page)
  • July 18Mandela Day
    Though Nelson Mandela is best known for his social justice work, Mandela Day is celebrated around the world as a call to action embodying justice and kindness of all kinds, and has grown to include conservation and environmental efforts as well as education and community service. “Mandela Day on July 18 is an annual international day adopted by the United Nations. It is more than a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy; it is a global movement to take his life’s work into a new century and change our world for the better. Mandela Day asks us all to embrace Madiba’s values and honour his legacy through an act of kindness. Who knows, it might leave you inspired enough to make every day a Mandela Day!” (from the official website)

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National Holidays Around the World

  • July 1David Bower Day (USA)
  • July 7Tanabata – Star Festival (Japan)
  • July 14National Tree Day (Mexico)
  • July 16World Snake Day (US)
  • July 19Marine Day (Japan)
  • July 22National Tree Planting Day (Central African Republic)
  • July 24 – 30Coral Reef Awareness Week (USA)
  • July 25Hurricane Supplication Day (Virgin Islands)
  • July 31National Tree Day (Australia)

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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Earth and Nature Holidays – June 2011

June 5, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

All over the world, people are celebrating and honoring earth, nature and environmental awareness and education in their communities. Here are just a few national and international “green holidays” to liven up your month.

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International Year of Forests (2011)

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness around issues of conservation, protection and sustainable management and development of forests all over the world. You can learn more about this project and related events on their website.
  • Highlighted as part of 2011 International Year of Forests, the UNEP also organizes the “Plant for the Planet” Billion Tree Campaign.

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Great Outdoors Month

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International Holidays

  • June 5World Environment Day
    “World Environment Day (WED) is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.” (from the official website)
  • June 8World Oceans Day
    On World Oceans Day people around the planet celebrate and honor the body of water which links us all, for what it provides humans and what it represents. “World Oceans Day provides an opportunity to get directly involved in protecting our future, through a new mindset and personal and community action and involvement – beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other planned activities help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the oceans.” (from the Wikipedia page) This year’s theme is: Youth
  • June 15Global Wind Day
    “Global Wind Day is a worldwide event that occurs annually on 15 June. It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change our world. It is also a day for discovery of the work that has already begun by pioneers around the world. In more than 75 countries around the world, wind farms are in operation, generating energy from a clean and renewable source.” (from the official website)
  • June 17World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
    “There is a close relationship between livelihood, ecosystem wellbeing and soils that are rich in biodiversity. Healthy soils produce life, and yet soil health depends a lot on how individuals use their land. What we do to our soils determines the quality and quantity of the food we eat and how our ecosystems serve us. Our increasing ecological interdependence also means enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere. Where well tended, soil biodiversity will be a resource for use by future generations, and for services that are yet to be discovered.” (from the official website)
  • June 20International Ride to Work Day
    A day when people all over the world are encouraged to ride their motorcycles or scooters to work to demonstrate the social and environmental value of small, low-fuel vehicles and to challenge cultural stereotypes about motorcyclists.
  • June 21Summer Solstice / Winter Solstice
    Religious and spiritual traditions all over the world celebrate the summer/winter solstice as a holy day in the cycles of the seasons.

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National Holidays Around the World

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Did I miss one? Leave a note (and a link, if you have one!) in the comments letting us know what “green” holidays you’re celebrating this month!

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