Earth Day Mysticism
by Linda Nathan
Supposedly if people restore their ancient connections with the earth,
The earth lies defiled
Care for the environment ~ Climate change ~ Earth religion
What do these words all have in common?
And it’s almost here. On Saturday, April 22, the United States will observe the 53rd annual Earth Day along with an enormous Earth Day network in around 184 countries worldwide. And this year's theme? Can you guess it? "Celebrate Diversity Month!"
Originally founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin to highlight and promote environmental issues, the event has since become worldwide. The day focuses on many educational and community service aspects, including tree planting, pollution cleanup, and education about wildlife and the earth. “To its credit, the day has brought some major change in policy such as the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.”[i]
But there is another, darker side of Earth Day though, as many widely celebrate it as a religious event, with invocations to the earth and celebrations of "oneness." A key element underlying these darkly religious views is the widespread use of marijuana and psychedelics for Earth Day closely aligns with what has become an international counterculture celebration known as “420 Day.”
April 20 Global“ Marijuana ‘420’ Day" Celebration
"420 Day" is pot culture slang for celebrating marijuana and hashish around 4:20 pm on April 20. The title arose when five California high school students designated it as their time to meet and take marijuana. Now such “hash bashes” take place all over North America and as far afield as Mexico City, London, Australia, Slovenia, and Cypress with events focused on liberalization and legalization.
But despite its popularity and all the hype, marijuana can wreak devastating damage. Numerous studies and organizations are exposing its harmfulness to both adults and children. Our booklets, The Cross & the Marijuana Leaf and Psychedelic Seduction, available at Lighthouse Trails Publishing for only $1.95 each, thoroughly lay out the issues. See also AALM.info and Everybrainmatters.org.
The widespread pagan religious movement going on now is not unique to our times, but it is unique in the dynamic and rapid way many Eastern and Western philosophies are continually converging and mutating into strange new hybrids. Following are some of the most common.
Cosmic Evolutionary Thought. One of these major hybrids is the marriage of science and occultism into mystical evolutionary thinking and the new physics (based on Eastern religion. This popular view sees humanity as on the verge of a new evolutionary step leading to planetary salvation through a global civilization based on a single consciousness integrating all earth systems. The earth is seen as a "living organism" (sometimes called Gaia) that is developing a "global brain. "Achieving this global unity is now the focus of many, whose efforts range from shaping education to encouraging worldwide mass meditation. Lately, transhumanism has become a major part of this thrust.
The search for meaning in both science and religion, the emptiness of purpose in materialism, and a desire for spiritual power all contribute to the popularity of this view. A flood of ideas and techniques now focuses upon this longed-for evolutionary leap of consciousness to personal godhood and the fulfillment of all desires. And Earth Day is the perfect rallying point.
Here are a few glimpses into other of these metamorphosing philosophies that coalesce around Earth Day.
Creation Spirituality. After his expulsion from the Roman Catholic Dominican Order, Matthew Fox was ordained by the Episcopal Church in 1994. He “urges Christians to move beyond a theology based on sin and redemption toward a “creation spirituality” with nature as the primary revelation.”[iii],[iv] Fox founded the University of Creation Spirituality in California and is known for his “Techno Cosmic Masses.”
Eco-feminism / Feminist spirituality. Feminists love the idea of Mother Earth and of being goddesses themselves. Women's spirituality movements are exploding in North America, including within mainline Protestantism. What began in the 1960s as a women’s reform movement within established religions today is frequently linked with the rapidly emerging modern goddess or Gaia cult (more below). This approach to femininity generally resists Christian forms of earth stewardship and promotes the belief that non-Christian mystical experiences bring environmental awareness. The spiritual heart of the movement is a belief in women's divinity and spiritual and psychic powers.[v]
Gaia, the Earth Mother. One popular form of pagan earth worship came from well-known atmospheric scientist James Lovelock more than 20 years ago—the concept of Gaia. “The premise of Gaian theory is that the Earth itself is a superorganism both living and divine.”[vi] Now some influential scholars see it as a new scientific model for the biological and environmental sciences.[vii],[viii]
Native American spirituality. The rise of Native American spirituality and its spread, including throughout the Christian Church, is yet another example of the popularity of earth mysticism.[ix] The book Muddy Waters: An Insider’s View of North American Native Spirituality clearly contrasts the biblical view with the Native American view. The author, a Christian, is the daughter and granddaughter of medicine men. It’s available at Lighthouse Trails Publishing.
The Bible’s View. The Bible though takes another, far less popular view about the problems with the earth.
The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Isaiah 24:5 (ESV)
Robert Sirico of the Action Institute summed it up well in 1994:
"There is no Commandment against littering, but there is a very straightforward one about worshiping false Gods"[x]
Our novel, The Glittering Web, is a Christian thriller based on the true story of our own rescue from earth spirituality. We wrote it "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Ephesians 3:10–12 (ESV)
[ii]Kjos, Berit, Under the Spell of Mother Earth. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992, 146.
[v]Points 1 to 3 and this summary taken from article by Alison Lentini, Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal on Gaia: A Religion of the Earth, Vol. 16:1, 1992, 21–22.
[vi]Sirico, R. “The False Gods of Earth Day.” https://acton.org/public-policy/environmental-stewardship/eco-spirit/false-gods-earth-day
[vii]Spiritual Counterfeits Project, P.O. Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704. See SCP Journal on Gaia: A Religion of the Earth, Vol. 16:1, 1991.
[ix]See Muddy Waters: An Insider’s View of North American Native Spirituality, Lighthouse Trails Publishing.
Photo by Casey Horner, Unsplash