Nature and Spirituality Terms
By Selena Fox
Animism: ancient philosophy that views everything in Nature
as having an indwelling spirit/soul, including the plants, rocks, waters,
winds, fires, animals, humans, and other life forms. Animism is the foundation
of shamanism and has been considered the earliest form of human religion
on planet Earth.
Earth-centered Spirituality: honoring the spiritual
interconnectedness of life on planet Earth, often as Mother Earth or Gaia,
but sometimes as a gender neutral Earth Spirit. Sometimes called Earth religion
and Gaian (Gaean) religion. Related EcoChristian form is Creation-Centered
Ecofeminism: feminist environmental philosophy that draws parallels
between the oppression of women and the oppression of Nature by patriarchy
and which advocates the spiritual and political liberation of both.
Goddess Spirituality: revering Nature and honoring the Great
Goddess in one or more of Her many forms. Usually polytheistic and sometimes
multicultural in practice. Usually incorporates feminist
Heathen: Another name for Pagan. Many contemporary practitioners
of Teutonic Nature religions prefer this term for themselves and their
Nature Religions: religions that include an honoring of the
Divine as immanent in Nature. May be pre-modern, modern, or post-modern in
philosophical orientation. Usually polytheistic, animistic, and pantheistic.
Include traditional ways of various native peoples of the Americas, Africa,
Asia, Australia, Polynesia, Europe, and elsewhere; religions of ancient Pagan
cultures, such as Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Minoan, Assyrian, Celtic, Teutonic,
and others; and contemporary Paganism.
Nature Spirituality: honoring the spiritual interconnectedness
of life not only on Planet Earth, but throughout the Universe/Cosmos; more
encompassing term than Earth-centered Spirituality because it also includes
Celestial religions; used by some as synonymous with contemporary Paganism
and by others as also including interfaith blends, such as those that combine
Paganism with EcoChristianity or EcoBuddhism.
NeoPagan: Contemporary Pagan.
Pagan: pertains to a Nature religion or a practitioner of an
ancient and/or contemporary Nature religion; also used to refer to a Nature
Spirituality, Earth-centered Spirituality, and/or Goddess Spirituality group
Pantheism: the Divine as immanent; the Divine is in everything
and everything has a Divine aspect.
Panentheism: Pantheism that also includes a transcendent component
conceptualized as the Sacred Whole or Divine Unity.
Polytheism: honoring Divinity in two or more forms. Can be belief
in/worship of multiple aspects of a particular deity; of the Divine as Goddess
and God; or of many Goddesses, Gods, Nature Spirits, and/or other Divine
forms. Some, but not all, polytheistic Nature religions acknowledge an
all-encompassing Divine Unity.
Shaman: an adept who serves as healer and spirit world communicator
for her/his tribe or community. Sometimes known as a Medicine person. This
role is tribal culture/community defined.
Shamanic Practitioner: someone learning and working with shamanistic
heing practices for self-development, and in some cases, also for helping
others. Sometimes known as a Medicine worker. This role is
Shamanism: animistic spiritual healing practices usually involving
ecstatic trance and spirit world journeys by adepts. Forms of shamanism include
Traditional, which are rooted in specific indigenous tribal peoples cultures,
and Multicultural, which are contemporary forms that integrate old and new
spirit wisdom ways from more than one culture.
Wiccan Spirituality: contemporary paths rooted in one or more
Nature folk religions of old Europe. Also known as the Old Religion, the
Craft, Wicca, Wicce, Ways of the Wise, NeoPagan Witchcraft, and Benevolent
Witch: Some Wiccan practitioners use the word "Witch" for themselves
in connection with their spirituality to bring back its pre-Inquisition use
in Europe as a term of honor and respect meaning "medicine person/medicine
worker," "shaman/shamanic practitioner," "wise woman/man," "priestess/priest
of the Old Religion." Other Wiccans refuse to use the word "Witch" because
of later negative definitions of the word which led to its use as a tool
of Pagan genocide and religious oppression in Europe and North America for
hundreds of years. During the "Burning Times" of the Middle Ages, bigots
in power changed its definition, making it a term linked with evil, and used
it as a brand to mark and exterminate folk healers, those who refused to
convert to state-sanctioned forms of Christianity, political rivals, and
others. Contemporary usage of the word "Witch" by non-Wiccans is diverse
but in recent years has been changing in academia and elsewhere to reflect
the growing public awareness and understanding of Wiccan Spirituality's
reclaiming of the word.
© 1994, Selena Fox, Circle, PO Box 219, Mt. . Horeb, WI 53572 USA;