Nature Based Paganism?


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----more----Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. My name's Mark.

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: And today we're talking about nature based paganism. What is nature-based paganism? What the point of nature-based paganism and how are, how can we, pursue a nature based practice as a part of, practicing our science-based pagan approach?

Yucca: That's right. And we'll get in a little bit to what is nature and why is that important as well?

Mark: Right. Yeah. always the best first thing to do when you're talking about anything is to define the terms. So, we'll, we'll jump into that right away. when we first. Conceptualized this podcast, the idea was, you know, we are we're Earth oriented pagans. there are some folks who self identify as pagans who are not as focused on the Earth, who are focused on gods Or particular pantheons of bygone cultures that they're working to reconstruct or.

Yucca: magical practices or things like that.

Mark: kinds of magical practices, certainly, or,

Yucca: The occult in general.

Mark: yes, or work with, spirits that they. I believe they have influence over and can, you know, make arrangements with there's a lot of different ways of coming at this sort of broad umbrella of, practices that we call paganism. But we're very clear that we, like, I believe most pagans are really oriented towards the Earth, which means nature.

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: The, the difference in our approach is that we are rooted in science and critical thinking. And therefore, rather than sort of a romantic kind of Bambi,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Disney-fied sort of orientation to nature. We're really about the real nature. That's, that's here and out there and in our own bodies and very excited about all the, the manifestations of life here on Earth.

So that's, that's where we start from that. we are products of, and participants in. This tremendous complex, interesting, amazing, beautiful fabric that occupies planet Earth's biosphere sphere that comprises planet earth biosphere, really. and of course, therefore is also supported by the substrate of the rest of the universe.

Right? All the, all the amazing physics of the rest of the universe.

Yucca: Yeah, we're part of a solar system. That's part of keep going up and up and up, you know, go past Laniakea to Cosmic Web and on. But I think that you said something really, really important that is that we are part of nature. I think that's a really, really important place to start because in our language we often talk about humans and nature. And we talk about things being natural versus human-made. And we create this line in this distinction, in our minds, which doesn't always serve us. And certainly in today's world, where many of us are living in. An urban centric society. Even those of us who aren't in an urban environment who live in a rural environment, our culture in our society is still very urban based in which we have really tried to strengthen and define that line of human versus nature.

Now we've built a concrete wall and reinforced it with steel to try and say this were two different things. And yet we really, really aren't. And when we can start recognizing that our lives are very enriched.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah. There's a lot to be said about where that line came from and where the romantic ideas of nature stem from. I mean the whole, the romantic movement of the late 18th into the early 19th century. Has a tremendous influence over not only our understanding of our relationship with the natural world, but also particularly the, the, the eventual development of modern paganism. You know, the idea of wild, beautiful nature outside of the city, as you know, something to be exalted. And, in many cases, emulated, if you look at some of the big romantics like Byron, for example, he thought that being kind of a rude, irresponsible, abusive wild man was, a way of reflecting his net, his natural state.

Right. The truth is that even the modern environmental movement has been, has been rooted in a lot of that romanticism. And it's only in the past 20 years in my experience. And I've been working in environmental stuff or longer, much longer than that. Has begun to climb out of this kind of romantic idea of, of nature with a capital N equating to this sort of romantic good.

And instead understanding it as a set of complex living systems that are interpenetrated with one another and whose. behavior and manifestations may be very beautiful and very interesting. they can also be very terrible and destructive and, still very interesting.

Yucca: Yeah.

And really all of that at once nature, isn't all. What is it? Red in tooth and claw.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: And, but it's also not all rainbows and butterflies, right? It's a, there's a combination going on there. so we feel that, I mean, I guess that it would be a little bit more pugnacious to say it this way, but we could have called this podcast. Reality-based paganism.


Mark: Because that is certainly our intent. Our intent is to root our spiritual understanding and practice in the empirical objective nature of reality of the world that we live in of our nature, the nature of ourselves as homosapiens organisms, as the, observable phenomena that take place around us, that we are a part of the fabric of.

And so even though it's really easy to get sucked into the romance of planet earth, because boy, you look at that, that blue marble photograph hanging out there in space. And it's pretty easy to want to cry. You know, it's just so beautiful, but it's important for us to, to, to go beyond that. You know, we can hold that in our hearts, but to go beyond that and really do what we can to encounter nature, to, to understand it as best we can and to find not only the big wonder in, you know, That pale blue dot hanging in a Sunbeam from as viewed from Saturn, but in the, the tiny miracles, the, the, the never ending list of tiny miracles that comprise nature and earth, nature and life here.


Yucca: Okay.

Mark: So that's what this episode is about. This episode is about, Kind of getting a handle on what do we need? I mean, when we say that we're a nature based religion and then how can we best make that more real, make that more true for ourselves and for the way that we live our lives, because I can say for myself, it's enormously satisfying to do so.

it brings, just a deep abiding sense of, of joy. to feel so connected to what we are and where we come from and what makes us.

Yucca: Yeah. And in addition to that joy, also some very practical health. Differences when we are connecting in with the, with what our bodies are built for, so that fresh air and that sunlight and all of that stuff that now is getting, we were talking about before we started recording is actually getting prescribed to people, right?

You go for your forest bay, they ignore your time on the beach or whatever it is.

Mark: right, right. Which to, some people sounds really silly. There's a reason why people go to the beach. There's a reason why people go for wa for hikes in the woods. I mean, when you think about it in, in the true abstract, why would any organism do that? Burn calories for no reason, other than to be in a particular place and then burn more calories packing up and going home. And the answer is.

that it does real stuff for us, real beneficial stuff that we can feel in our bodies. And that's why we go hiking. It's why we go to the beach. It's why we go to beautiful places in nature on vacation, because that natural beauty. Means something, it has an impact on us, organically, not just, not just on our minds, but on our actual physical beings, which remember, as we've said over and over again are the same thing.

Yucca: Yeah. Okay.

Mark: So another thing that I can say about this is that. Getting connected in with nature also kind of helps us with our, our value priority. when we understand ourselves as part of a greater whole and as part of concentric circles of greater wholes, meaning not just families, but societies, not just societies, but entire ecosystems, not just entire ecosystems, but systems stretching out beyond the plant.

All the way to those, you know, very, very large structures, beyond the galaxy, beyond the supercluster, part of what that can do for us is it can help us to get our priorities straight around what we think is important and what's worth fighting for. one thing that the atheopagan path that I follow is very explicit about is that we consider activism to be.

An integral part of what we do because we have responsibility to one another. And so whether it's as little as simply voting when the time comes to do that, or whether it's a lot more in terms of contacting representatives that are going to make decisions, talking with other people about how we feel about things working to make the world a better, kinder, more sustainable, more, More happy place, becomes something that is not arbitrary, but he's a natural outgrowth of our understanding of where we are And who we are.

as humans.

Yucca: And that can come from or be supported by the relationship with our environments.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: So, and. On the one hand, you know, learning on a very intellectual level about how these things work and what we're finding out. And the latest research that is that's powerful on the one hand, but just having the actual relationship, the experience with, with our environments with nature.

So to say, can. Really strengthened that.

Mark: Yes, because you look with some with, with markedly different eyes, when you have that, that understanding, and you look at a tree, for example, and I hate even to say a tree because it's so generic, I'd rather, you know, stipulate some particular kind of tree, like a maple tree. Right? Well, here's an organism.

Rooted in the ground, where, from which it's drawing water and nutrients, and it's doing kind of a dance with a whole bunch of microorganisms in order to get its needs met and to meet the needs of those microorganisms as well. And then it, it deploys solar panels all over itself. And charges itself up every day.

Turn in many cases, turns those panels in order to follow the sun, as it moves across the sky. I mean, this is a remarkable thing. This is something that humans have figured out how to do in a, in a limited capacity only in the past 20 years.

Yucca: And in working with its neighbors can actually literally change the weather

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: it.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: So releasing VOC that ended up becoming cloud condensing, nuclei, and increasing the rain and changing the temperature on the ground, which then changes the way that the local wind patterns are working. Like all kinds of just incredible interactions.

Mark: Right. Right. And the more we understand about that, the more remarkable it becomes. And so it's not just the, the romantic appreciation of the fact that it also happens to be breathing out pure oxygen, which is something that we find useful.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: And, and also, processing carbon dioxide, which is something that we find less useful.

but that it's, it's going through all of these extraordinary processes at every level of its existence, underground above ground, and then kind of in the canopy, above the surface of the ground, and its relationship with the atmosphere. And that's just a tree. This is one tree.

Yucca: Yeah. Now let's start talking about the lichen growing on that tree. And the mycelium connecting it to another one and on and on and

Mark: communities of animals that depend on.

its seeds, for nourishment and its branches for various kinds of shelter and nesting opportunities. And, Yeah. the. There's a reason why there are certain kinds of species in different biomes that we refer to as Keystone species, because they are so essential to the living creatures that live in those areas where I am.

It is the California live Oak. because if you removed all the California live Oaks from this place, we would have an ecological crash. Unlike any that we've seen so far in this local region, because of the dependency of so many organisms on that particular species of tree.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So all of this is very cool and, we should not undersell the, The overlap between the spiritual impulse and the very cool factor, you know, part, part of the reason why we feel moved spiritually by things is because they're amazing. They're just, they're so extraordinary, that they, they give us a big emotional.

Jolt just by realizing them. And that's true of every religion. I mean, if you believe that Jesus died to what, whatever to, you know, mitigate our failings, then that's kind of amazing. I mean, if you believe that you have these inherent sin and that you've been accumulating more of them ever since you arrived on the planet.

but that this death 2000 years ago, wipes it all out. As long as you say the right words and believe them in your heart. That's amazing. I mean, I don't believe it at all, but if it were true, it would really be amazing.

Yucca: Well, and it still has the same emotional impact if you believe at whether it's true or not in terms of the emotional impact, right?

Mark: Yes, exactly. So, but the reason why I said we could have called this podcast, reality-based big aneurysm is that nature is real

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: nature exists. We are nature. There isn't anything that isn't nature and,

Yucca: So even when we put in the roads, even when we build our foundations and our buildings and all of that, that's not locking the nature out. nature is still, I mean, it, it is what it is, we're changing it, but that's also what we do as animals that are part of this.

Mark: Yes,

Yucca: And we're not the first ones,

Mark: no.

Yucca: architecture, farming, warfare, all these things that we like to think of as being only human, we might do it in a very unique human way, but these things have been around for millions of years.

Mark: Yes. mostly by ants.

Yucca: Yes. And so I've been doing all of those things, some other kinds of creatures too, but answer, just answer amazing.

Mark: They are really, They're really amazing. And so one of the. Approaches one of the orientations that can be really useful as we pursue nature-based paganism is to understand ourselves as part of nature. And so if you do live in a big city, look around, look at all the structures that have been constructed by this particular kind of organism and these amazing machines and, and communication devices and all this stuff.

It it'll give you a renewed appreciation for just how amazing humans are in the romantic view. It's often nature versus humans, right? And you have to pick a side. You either you're either with nature and therefore kind of anti-human or you're with the humans and nature is always trying to kill you. And so you want to control it and tame it and.

reduce its its power, which good luck with that. but a, in a more factually correct approach,

Yucca: Integrated.

Mark: an Integrated. it's an integrated approach and all of it is nature. And so understanding ourselves as natural creatures can help to fill us with wonder at the Marvel of what we are. Because humans are extraordinary organisms,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: extraordinary organisms.

They're they're unlike anything that we are familiar with anywhere in the universe, in terms of what we do, what we're capable of, we are just these really, really remarkable critters.

Yucca: Yeah. And there's some pretty incredible creditors and other life forms that we partner with on, without even realizing it. Talking about the urban environment. I don't recall the professor's name at the moment, but put forth the idea where basically he was looking at the urban environment and this species that tend to come along with us in an urban environment.

So thinking about your, rats and pigeons and Dan D lions and things like that, and noticing that these are almost all species that come from. Caves or the entrances to caves

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: and noticing that there's a, there's a lot of parallels there between our architecture and who comes along with us and what systems we end up building that, that create environments for these other creatures that we actually live symbiotically.


Mark: Hm.

Yucca: And the symbiosis doesn't just have to be mutualistic symbiosis, right? We've got parasitic and commensal relationships if commensal actually even exists. the idea that one organism isn't effected by the other organism as a, as a hard sell.

Mark: Yes.

but that, that our urban environments are these really special.

Yucca: Environments and some of the functions might be a little bit broken compared to other systems where you might the resource cycling. When I say broken, that's what I'm talking about. Not that any moral judgment on it, but on its functional. what is it actually doing? Some of those systems might be a little bit broken, but they're still, there's still a beauty and wonder in that and we're still.

Part of it. All of our biological functions are still going on whether or not we acknowledge them.

Mark: Sure. Sure. I mean, the disadvantage that humans have is that because we do things so quickly. We don't have the advantage of thousands or millions of years of slow evolution in order to balance the efficiencies of the system. Right? So we have huge mounds of waste that we. Have any real way of processing, right?

We have, pollutants of various kinds that, can cause various impacts that we find, disadvantageous not only to ourselves, but also to the natural world. And we don't, we haven't figured out how to solve them.

Yucca: we as individuals live for such a short period of time. From an ecosystem's perspective that we don't clock that, that something's not right.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Right. Many of us are living in incredibly degrading ecosystems that are very, very sick, that are missing huge pieces that they evolved with. But to us it's just normal because we don't remember.

Right. We don't remember the megafauna or we don't remember whatever it is.

Mark: You know, I,

Yucca: don't yeah.

Mark: you know, I can say though that in my own lifetime, I have seen the crash of the insects and I've seen a dramatic decline in the number of birds. Just just from the time when I was a child to now observationally, I can see it. when I was a kid, when you traveled your windshield got covered with insects and you had to clean it off every couple of hundred miles, and that's just not the case anymore.

the sheer density of organisms of that sort is, has crashed.

Yucca: Yeah. And we're worth different ages, but even within my lifetime, I've recognized that in my area.

Mark: Yeah, so. You know, one of, one of the problems that humanity has is that, in many ways we're not very grown up, but, I have a friend who's,a land conservation professional. Who's worked in various kinds of environmental protection for a long time. And she refers to, to humanity as a toddler with a gun. not really understanding the capacity of the damage that we can do, and just sort of staggering around and shooting,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: but all that uplifting stuff said, are still pretty incredible and we are also many of us. Inclined to try to repair the damage and to reach new balance with the, the, the balance of the natural world that we are a part of. And that is very much to our credit because. It's entirely possible that we could be intelligent creatures that just didn't care and would just drive our way into extinction.

And maybe we are that may, maybe, maybe that is going to happen, but I don't believe it.

Yucca: I don't either.

Mark: I think humans are far too adaptable And nature is tough.

Yucca: And I, I understand the impulse to throw up one's hands and say, oh, humans were just to cancer where it's just terrible. And I'm going to, I'm just going to bury my head in my phone and look at my tick talk or whatever, and just ignore it and just hate on humans. But that, to me, that's not. Rewarding. Like, it might be easier in some ways, but,

Mark: Okay.

Yucca: but it's missing out on a lot.

It is missing out on a lot on the one hand, particularly because misanthropy means that you're, you're throwing out all of the amazing stuff that humans do, that, you know, the art and the dance and the music and the architecture and the technology, and just all, all of The extraordinary, extraordinary things that we do that are really worthy of appreciation. The friendship with, with your dog?

Mark: yeah, well, there's a 50,000 year relationship.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: that's that one's been going on for a long time. people, well, wonder why there are so many different kinds of dogs? Well, it's because we've been breeding them for various particular purposes for a super long time and continue to do so for various appearance traits. yeah,

Yucca: yeah. Corgi just means short dog. They are, Welsh and there's a lot of sheep and whales and they're hurting dogs and they got short so that they wouldn't get kicked in the head. Cause you know, you don't get to breed quite as much and have pups when keep getting kicked in the head. But if you're just underneath the height being kicked by sh by, some sheep, then you survive longer.

Mark: That's funny,

Yucca: why we have, and now of course, people like the look, so they make them even shorter and longer and all of that. But originally short dogs were just because they were short, they didn't get kicked.

Mark: Sure, sure. Yeah. and You know, you look at Huskies and Newfoundlands and stuff like that, or. Dragging dogs and you know, the various kinds of border terriers and border collies that are used for various sorts of. You know, hurting, and then you've got all the terriers and other sort of rat catchers and kind of pest control dogs.

you know, none of that happened by accident. All of that happened because there were particular needs that humans had and dogs were able to fulfill that role in humans, worked to make the dogs as adapted to those particular needs as possible. I mean, you think about a doctor. DocSend means Badger hound and they were designed to dig into holes in the ground.

Mark: So they're long and skinny and go in and get badgers.

Yucca: You know, as we're talking about this, I wonder we were talking about it from this very human perspective of, you know, how did the dogs change to fit us? I wonder if anyone has ever looked into, how did we change to fit our canine companion?

Mark: Well, there are certainly several, human traits that. Strongly lean towards attraction to animals that have, you know, big brown eyes and they're sort of, you know, positioned mostly on the front of their heads so that it looks more like a human face. you know, we, we have, we have this whole off factor that we, that we have when it comes to babies, puppies, kittens, baby seals, raccoons, there's all kinds of.

All kinds of that. And I'm sure that some of that was strengthened as we built relationships with dogs over time.

Yucca: yeah. Which that, that attraction to the, I can tell you as a parent that exists so that we keep taking care of the, of our offspring, because. Sometimes they're really real tough to take

Mark: Oh yeah.

Yucca: right there. I mean, you're just like, oh my goodness, you will not stop screaming at me. Why am I risking my life? Because you're just so cute.

I can't help it.

Mark: Right. Yeah. And there's this

Yucca: our ancestors who didn't have that, well, their offspring didn't make it.

Mark: right, right.

Yucca: That's gotta be way prehuman.

Mark: Sure. And there's this cascade of, of hormones and neurotransmitters that reinforces that whole. Sense, which is why other people's kids can be infuriating, but your kids are the most wonderful thing in the world. Yeah.

Well, you know, this is, this is the way of things and this of course gets us into trouble when you have mixed families, because you have, you know, the so-called evil stepmother phenomenon, right.

Because. The one that is not an actual blood parent of this child, doesn't have that cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters, and doesn't feel the same way about the child that, that others do, some do some don't. And So that, you know, can create, a sense of abandoned mentor or a hard relationship.

Yucca: So it's going to say that we went a little far afield from our topic, but we actually didn't. This is all talking nature. Yeah.

Mark: it's, it's all it. Well that, that's the thing about talking about nature is that there's nothing you can talk about that isn't dead,

Yucca: Yeah, except for the fictitious or purely theoretical.

that's, what's one of the things just vocabulary. That's always bothered me about the supernatural. What, how could supernatural possibly exist if nature is everything that is

Mark: Right,

Yucca: right. That just means we don't understand. Or, you know, beyond the laws of physics. Okay. Well that just means that our laws are wrong.

Mark: Yeah, or incomplete.

Yucca: Yeah.

and this is actually an argument that's made by fists and, and so-called supernaturalist pagans within the pagan community is, oh, no, no, it's not supernatural. It's just stuff we don't understand yet. I always come back to Ockham's razor, which is that the simplest explanation is, the most likely one to be true.

Mark: And so if you heard a God say something to you, the odds are much better than that generated inside your brain, then that an actual disembodied intelligence with magical powers said it to you. but that's an argument for another day.

Yucca: that is, yes.

Why don't we circle back and talk about some things that people can do too, to build or strengthen that relationship with Nick.

Mark: Okay, that sounds great. I mean, we did an episode back in may called pay attention. And I think that that's really kind of the core principle of all of this. And in order to pay attention, you need to not only paying attention is it's actually a very well-crafted term because there's an expenditure of effort and the bandwidth of your consciousness.

That's required in order to successfully pay attention. If you're just cruising along, looking at your phone or listening to the radio and driving, and you're not carving out, at least part of your sensorium to be paying attention to what's happening in nature around you, then.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean, you're always going to miss some of it anyway, because a lot of it's microscopic a lot of it's happening at timescales that you can't really perceive, but

Yucca: you're saying one thing, you might not be able to be seeing the other thing. Yeah.

Mark: yes. So there are always choices, but the easiest way to be better at paying attention to nature is to make time for it. Don't try to split your time between doing, saying, well, I have a beautiful drive on my commute home, so that's my nature time. Well, that's great. And if you're really appreciating the aesthetics of nature as you drive home, that's a, that's a good thing.

That's food for the soul, but that isn't the same thing as actually just sitting for five or 10 minutes and. Watching the sun go down or

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: observing one of those trees or an anthill or, raccoons nesting under your house, which happened to me once or, or whatever it happens to be pigeons, pigeons, wandering around on the sidewalk, interacting with one another and, you know, looking for, for food. There's a lot to be seen and you'll be surprised at how there's a,

there's, there's a sense of joy that can come from that kind of observation, just, just from taking the time and paying attention for a little while.

Yucca: Yeah. And, and really making it about that. Taking out the headphones, leaving your phone either in your pocket or better yet in the house. You know, if you're not needing to be on call for an emergency or something like that. And, and really, really setting that time aside to, to be present. So not as, not as a moment.

That's important too, right? Taking that time to close your eyes and go in yourself and really self-reflect. But, but to open your eyes and look around and maybe let that transition between what you're experiencing is self and outside. Let that start to blend in your mind a little bit in your awareness as you take it.

What what's around you and reserve the judgment. If you're seeing the, the ants moving around on the driveway or whatever, it is, just, just hang out with that. and, and you were touching on this as well marked, but, but making it, That dedicated time, maybe even literally scheduling it in, makes it more part of the routine.

So part of the routine to tune in, to opening our eyes, to pay attention, and this could take different forms we've shared on here before some of our own practices. I do a star time, and. So at least twice a day, going out and being present. and of course, sunset and sunrise, the time is always changing every day, but that's also really amazing if he can build that into your schedule and then you're, and then you're noticing those changes.

If, when, you know, where's the sunsetting and rising from and the, how is the moon different each day? And, oh, look, you're seeing it. It's the middle of the day, because remember the moon's out in the daytime half of the time. It's not just at the night. Can you, when, can you see that? Or when did the birds start talking in the morning before the sun comes up for most of them, but not all of

Mark: it is.

Yucca: Right? Listen, who's talking. Before Dawn and who's talking after it.

Mark: If you have. Like a bird feeder sitting and watching the bird feeder And watching the interactions of the birds at the bird feeder, is amazing. It's really cool. And, if you're interested, you can get, a guide and learn what the different species of birds are that are coming to your, to your bird feeder.

but that isn't, that isn't obligate Tori. you can just appreciate them as birds. Without knowing the particular details of how they operate, which is a broad range of different sorts of behaviors. that, that bird species have, I mean, think about it. The difference between a hummingbird and an emo,

Yucca: yeah.

Yeah. Completely. This wildly different.

Mark: right? I like emos they're dinosaurs.

Yucca: Yeah. They're all dinosaurs.

Mark: Yeah.

we were looking at pictures of. Hummingbird nests and hummingbird hatchlings. So if you're looking for a little like emotional, pick me up at some time at some point, just look up how adorable this little, absolutely tiny little naked hummingbird chicks are.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: little ITI creatures.


Yucca: Anyways, but yeah, and the different species have their different behaviors, but different individuals do too. And even though a lot of them look very similar, if you're coming back to the same spot with the same population of birds, with enough observation, you can start to. You can start to recognize individuals based on their behavior.

How are they interacting with each other? Is there that one that is always just a little extra aggressive, you know, it was always pushing them off and the birds do that anyways, but you know, or is there the one that trusts you a little more, that doesn't care that you're nearby or all of those things.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And, in some really interesting cases, you can, You can develop relationships with some of them. my friend Lexi, has crows. They kind of follow her around and they bring her tiny things. that's pretty cool. I mean, you've, you've, I need them for a while and they decide, well, all right.

You're one of us. And a part of what we do amongst ourselves is we bring shiny things.

So here have a piece of glass.

Yucca: Corvids are amazing.

Mark: They are.

Yucca: There, can be stinkers too.

Mark: Oh

Yucca: good memory. And if you piss them off they'll they'll remember.

Mark: Yes, they will.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So, I guess, to sort of wrap this episode up, the thing that we're encouraging is first of all, that you build a relationship with nature nature, as it actually is nature, as it encompasses the entirety of what we experience, because we are part of it. And our works are a part of it, as well as, all the extraordinary.

Examples of what is not human that move through our lives all the time, even in the city.

Yucca: Mm.

and in order to do that, you have to make. You have to decide that as a part of your practice, you're going to carve out that five minutes a day or 10 minutes a day or whatever it is. And it is immensely rewarding to do so.

Mark: Sometimes at first it seems like, well, nothing happened and I'm not sure why I'm going to keep going with this. some of that is because you haven't really learned to see. And some of it is because, you know, you may just not have had luck that day. There may not have been a lot going on. So if you keep a journal

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: of what you've observed,what's the word for that?

A phonology journal, I think,

Yucca: Okay.

Just to see what you've observed. Just jot down what you've observed. Okay.

Mark: Three candidate geese flew across the sky. there's a trail of ants across the sidewalk. the grass is turning brown. even, even just those simple, simple kinds of things. You'll find that if you continue with this practice, the list will get lost.

You'll be noticing a lot more things and over time you'll notice. Well, Okay.

The grass, the grass got really, really brown, but then after the first rain, all this new grass started coming in

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: and you hear a part of that process. All of a sudden, you, you are an observer of, of this change. That's happening, the changing of the guard among the ground.

Individuals, the individual, the individual organisms may have died, but they germinated in their new seeds. And now that there's some water to feed them, uh they're they're now replacing the ones that died. and that's a profound thing. When you think about it, the, the generational change of a whole set of organisms.

Yucca: And also how our small little actions that we might not think anything. Might influence that and be a part of that. Right. Did you leave a chair out and did the grass not die under that chair where it was a little bit shaded as to sun was the summer sun was beating down on it or all of these different things that, that are little, little actions to us that just help highlight our connection to the whole community.

Mark: Right, right, exactly. Because feeling connected with everything is the root of the spiritual impulse, you know, having an understanding of what our place is in the universe, what we're doing here, what we're a part of. All of that is really all inspiring and it can come through little moments, not, it's not just, you know, the sort of earth shattering coming around the corner and seeing the grand canyon for the first time kind of experience.

It's also the little things, the little changes over time. And being aware that we are a part of all of this, and we were evolving eater internally, as well as, you know, in the same way that everything external to us is going through its process and changing and dying and growing and reproducing and doing all that stuff.

Yucca: So we hope you have the opportunity to set that time aside.

Mark: Yes, I think you'll find it really rewarding if you, if you give it a shot. and I know how it is. We're all very busy, but five minutes is five minutes, you know, it's, if we choose not to take five minutes, it's because we choose not to take five minutes. It's not that we don't actually.

Yucca: And if you're too busy for the five minutes, you probably really need those five minutes. Maybe take 10.

Mark: Exactly. Exactly. If you don't have time for five minutes, take 10.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Cause you really, you get, you know, get off your feet and,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: look around.

Yucca: Once again. Thank you, mark.

Mark: Thank you. Yucca wonderful conversation with you. Thank you so much. We'll see you next week on the wonder science-based paganism.

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