Environment: 3 Ways a Place can Have an Impact on your Well Being

Grounding Religion. A field Guide to the Study of religion and Ecology.
Edited by Whitney Bauman, Richard Bohannon and Kevin J. O’Brien.
Routledge, 2017, $32.70 paperback ISBN-10: 1138194018 ISBN-13: 978-1138194014
reviewed by Drs. Susanne van Doorn

environment
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#1: Environment the Power of Place

When I visited Stonehenge last summer, I felt the power of place. The stones, grey and giant, were statements of Mother Earth. How I longed to enter this sacred circle. You are only allowed to do that when you pay big money.

environment
Stonehenge
Photo: Jurgen van Nijnanten

Why was I so overwhelmed? First of all the stones where huge (sometimes size does matter). Second of all, the energy of the place felt like a sanctuary.

“The mapping of the sacred is always a mapping of social power… Sacred places mark “hierarchical power relations of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion, appropriation and dispossession” (page 104).

It was only after reading this book that I could get a grip on how many aspects are involved in the intertwining of Ecology and Environment.

environment
Cartoon: McHumour.com

I selected this book for a Mindfunda review because I was intrigued by the fact that religion is grounded in a specific place. Sacred Geography by Paul Devereux was the first book I read about it. The book Paul has written takes a shamanic perspective.

Grounding Religion is a book, aimed at students. I had not realized that when I requested the review copy. But I enjoyed this book and learned a lot.

It is written in an easy accessible language and has some interesting questions in each chapter that will enrich your way of thinking even if you have left college decades ago just like me.

 

Or as Thomas J. Watson said: “The Ability to ask the right Question is more than half the battle of finding the answer

 

 

#2: Ecology

Did you know that Ernst Haeckel, A German biologist, coined the term Ecology? He is also the first one who envisioned the evolution of species as “a Tree of Life“.

 

environment
Tree of Life
Haeckel

This book offers sixteen chapters divided over three parts. Part one is concerned about giving definitions. And as in many cases finding the one right definition for a concept is not possible. But the discussion in the book informs you of all the aspects involved in religion and ecology.

Part two makes things a little more personal. This part does not focus on the general definitions but on gender, on race and on the power of place.

Part three explores the Key Features like globalization and its devastating effects, animals technology and so on.

After reading this book, I felt like it opened a whole new concept of inter-relations for me. You as reader get a clear view on the multitude of variables that play a role in concepts regarding the environment.

 

#3: Environment Dreams Merapi Volcano

Each chapter discusses a case study. One of the most appealing case studies in my eyes is that of the Merapi Volcano.

Merapi volcano
Art: Raden Saleh

 

The Merapi Volcano is situated on the pacific “ring of fire”. Three of the major plates: the Eurasian, the Australian and the Pacific ocean plate. It is the so called “supermarket of disasters”.

“The interesting case is how science, religion and culture interpret these natural events differently, creating different and frequently conflicting approaches to deal with them” (page 51).

Mbah Maridjan was the spiritual gatekeeper who talked to the spirit of the volcano. In 2010 he was found death, killed by the hot ashes of the erupting volcano.

The BBC wrote about it on its website: “To us, Maridjan is as important as Merapi. Now that he’s no longer around, who’s going to look after Merapi?” Wanto, 56, a farmer, told AFP news agency.

The case study of this chapter contains an interview with Sumarno, a man who has the ability to hear the messages from the mountain. He describes a typical dream he gets before the volcano erupts.

“Me: Can you tell me why you have never moved away from your village during the eruption? Don’t you fear death?
Sumarno: I believe that anybody can die at anywhere, anytime…. I am always told in a dream what to do before the Merapi erupts.
Me: Who told you? The spirit of Merapi?
Sumarno: Usually an old man in a pious Muslim outfit (baja koko)… They come to me mostly after prayer (shalt).
Me: Merapi volcano is different from other volcanoes because it is extremely active, The dead people’s souls are taken by Merapi; they are working for Merapi*.

*I only quoted a only selected fragment of the text. Me refers to the writer of this chapter “Religion and Disaster: The Merapi volcano eruption” Najiyah Martiam

Your Environment: Conclusions

PRO

  • The book offers some nice questions that makes you re-evalute your surroundings. For instance: Does nature teach morality? and as writer Lomborg has suggested in The Skeptical Environmentalist: might the solution(s) to environmental problems we experienced today be embedded within technology? And isn’t it about time that theology reconsiders their view on animals?
  • I can only conclude that this book will trigger your mind. The assignments for students are appealing and all the books mentioned will make your book-loving heart sing.

The Death of Nature, by Carolyn Merchant shows how the dichotomy inherent in our culture has been an inheritance of the 16th century vision of the brute environment with the civilized culture on top of it.

On Animals by David Clough reconsiders the place of animals in Christian Theology.

Landscapes of the Sacred written by Belden Lane invites us to use our personal experiences to highlight “sensory exchanges” between places and people.

And these are just some examples. Each chapter is filled with numerous good references to interesting books.

  • The book is very easy to read. No difficult, dry definitions you’d have to plough through and re-read before you can understand what it is that the withers want to say;
  • The case studies are very interesting.

CON

  • It’s a book aimed at students. Even though it means that you get value for money: a lot of information about all the aspects concerning the inter-connectiveness of earth and religion.

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

Mindfunda Free Give Away’s

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you get a book filled with 10 tips to better remember your dreams and a book about a mutual dream experiment for free. I hate spam as much as you do and I will guard your email with my life. Once a month you will get the latest news on the subject of dreams, mythology an spirituality and about my latest courses (because i have to pay the bills to, just like you do).

This posting is categorised as Dreamfunda:  
Everything you need to know about dreams. Practical How to’s, the latest scientific research, the most commonly used ways to attach meaning to dreams. This and more is given to you for your everyday use in this part of Mindfunda

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


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Odin: Ongoing Original Inner Wisdom

Odin is the Norse Father God. This blog is about my new online Norse Mythology course that starts March 20, the first day of spring.

Odin the Father

Being brought up Catholic, my young mind attached godly wisdom into the image of a Father God. This Father god, somewhere up high, was an old grumpy guy, with a beard.

As soon as I read in the bible that he had ordered a father to sacrifice his only son, I became very suspicious about this Father God.  I liked mother Mary much more.

Odin is a father god of the human beings on earth, but also of Baldr. The way Odin endeared me was that he sacrificed his own eye into the well of Mirmir.

In this course we will investigate these tory about the murder of his som Baldr and how that resonates with our own feelings of betrayal when something you valued more than life itself has gone lost.

Odin and the Well

In order to gain inner wisdom Odin sacrificed an eye in the well of Mirmir. Whenever you dream about eyes, whenever you dream about wells, you should definitely be signing up for this course.

On the forum you will be able to share those dreams with your fellow students. In the dream incubation that is included in this course, you will visit the well, and draw the water of life out of the Well of Remembrance.

Your inner knowledge is available to you. All you need to do is to consciously lift this knowledge up from out of the darkness of the well of remembrance into the daylight.

Odin and the Ravens Huginn and Muninn

If you have a connection with ravens as totem animal, this is the lesson for you. Odin had two ravens:

Huginn and Muninn,
Every day
They fly over earth ground.
I fear for Huginn,
That he may not return,
But even more  I fear
For the loss of Muninn.

The Elder Edda

odin
Photo by Eamon Maguire

 

Huginn is usually associated with thought, and Muninn with memory. You will most certainly understand why thoughts can be like birds, flying in and out of your head.

Losing your memory is like losing yourself. yes, I know that we are more than the  addition of our past experiences. But there are core-memories your sense of self is build around. We will explore this in this lesson of the course.

Odin and the Sacrifice

We are surrounded by data. Big Brother Google is bringing you every website about every subject you are curious about.

Little entrepreneurs like me have to give away knowledge for free, in order to get paying customers. And we do that, because it is in our genes to help people get the best out of themselves.

Odin would have thrived in an age like this. Not only did he sacrifice an eye to gain wisdom. He also hung himself on the tree of life for nine days.

On the Yggdrasil he made the ultimate sacrifice to unveil the magic knowledge of the runes.

odin
Runes

We will not be getting into the oracle of the runes, but we will be exploring magic in our own dreams, visions and lives that can tell us something about our life’s destiny.

Odin and the Yggdrasil

Last but not least, another theme in this course will be the Yggdrasil and its nine realms of being, the nine days that Odin hung himself. What is the spiritual value of number nine?

What does this magic number mean in your own life and in your own dreams? How many of the different reams of Yggdrasil do you recognise from films, from books, from poetry, or from dreams?

 

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


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Yggdrasil: Tree of Life, Portal to Nine Worlds

Yggdrasil, Tree of Life in Norse mythology, is an appealing topic. Several years ago, I was part of a panel discussing this tree of life.

During this panel, any people had emotional stories to tell. Stories about how they have beautiful, inspiring dreams about trees, that connect them with nature. Stories about how mad they are that we screw up nature like we do.

Today I will share a book review about Yggdrasil, based on an analysis made by Maria Kvilhaug. Maria has a master degree in Old Norse mythology and initiation rituals.

The Seed of Yggdrasil. Deciphering the hidden messages in Old Norse Myths
by Maria Kvilhaug
Whyte Tracks 2013
Hardcover $77.99, Kindle Edition $43.03
ISBN 13: 978-8792632289
ISBN 10: 8792632289
Reviewed by Susanne van Doorn

 

 

Yggdrasil
Buy the book using this link and support the good work of Mindfunda

Yggdrasil and Comparative Mythology

It is so natural for me to compare mythologies worldwide. People have the same challenges everywhere. The same problems to solve. So one naturally assumes people have myths about similar problems.

But since the star from Joseph Campbell has faded, so has the trust in comparative mythology. You know that I am a big fan of Campbell, but I agree that not every story is a hero story.

Campbell was known to have “cherry picked” myths, so he could build the mono myth theory.

Maria Kvilhaug uses the same comparative mythology in her book. And I must say, just like Campbell’s books are nice to read, so is hers.

She is a “Pantheist”: “there is an ultimate unity behind the many gods, and that they are united in a single source” (page 635).

Yggdrasil and Edda

In 1643, the Edda, composed of several stories, was given to Bishop Svensson. He immediately recognised the value of those papers. Verses written by Snorri Sturluson in 1243.

At this time, Snorri was afraid that the young people would forget their rituals.

Yggdrasil

“Snorri had a clear and outspoken agenda with his work. He realised people were beginning to forget the myths of their ancestors” (page 21).

But the pagan gods, initiations and rituals are being described as devilish, satanic. Maria explains how the verses are written with respect (or fear?) for the church.

Yggdrasil as parable

A parable is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.

Maria invites us to interpret the Edda as if it is an illustration of possible behaviours within the world.

Yggdrasil
Artwork: Welcome Images

 

In this way, Yggdrasil becomes a symbol of the human body. A representation of the tree-shaped nervous system, or the vascular system in our body.

Yggdrasil and The Eagle

At the top of the Yggdrasil, there is an eagle “and he knows much” (p 163). At the bottom of the Yggdrasil, there is a serpent coiled by the roots, eating them away.

 

Yggdrasil

 

Maria suggests that the eagle is a symbol for the all-knowing observer. Being a spiritual atheist, I am not so inclined towards a god/goddess who observes all.

But being a diabetic, I know from periods were I have suffered a low blood sugar level, that there is something in me that tells me that there is something wrong. My inner eagle. It tells me to go look for food/sugar when I notice that I start to see things unclear.

YGGDRASIL AND the snake

My old friend snake (read more about it in Amazing Animal) is a symbol of our connection to the earth. Remember how in Genesis Eve is being tempted by a snake?

Yggdrasil
Snakes in Prague, photo by Susanne van Doorn

 

If our human psyche is wired to seek its own way, not ruled by laws and prescriptions from God(s), there might be a psychic need to embrace the snake as part of our personality.

Remember how in the Matrix agent Smith compares humans to a virus?

“You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure” (The Matrix 1999).

Maybe that is the snake eating at the roots of our Yggdrasil. I always thought it was an excellent summary of the Catholic concept of the original sin. We humans are bad. It eats us. We try to cure it but destruction of the world seems unstoppable.

Yggdrasil and Odin

Norse god Odin is important to me. I met an Odin-like one-eyed wander in a dream once. I bought him some good food, because I assumed he was alcoholic. When I got outside I looked under his big hat and became scared to death. He only had one eye! His missing eye was uncovered…

Maria interprets Odin as “The Universal Spirit”. A shared unconscious, like Jung‘s collective unconscious. It reminds me so much of the religious concept I embraced when I was a child. I used to think that god was the sum of all the good in all the people on the earth.

Yggdrasil
Georg von Rosen
Odin, the Wanderer

 

Odin his name means Poetry, Spirit or Frenzy. “Obviously, we have all qualities within us. The Spirit is that what gives us breath and inspiration, which is exactly  what Odin is said to have given to men and women alike. The Poetry is equivalent of the mind, that within us which creates the stories that are our lives, and the Frenzy is our passion, our desire, that with drives us forward and makes us seek, rebelling against everything that limits the fullness of being” (page 643).

Yggdrasil and the Goddess

In the seventies there was a rumour that we once had lived in a matriarchal society. A society ruled by women. This was never the case. But femininity, and the importance of females for the survival of any community is clearly embraced in this book.

“To the initiate of the Mysteries of Isis, the myth is a parable of the quest for salvation” (page 39).

Yggdrasil

Did you know there is a maiden that sleeps at the roots under Yggdrasil? She dreams up the world. This made me think about Anne Baring her assumption that the Cosmos itself is dreaming.

Conclusion

PRO

  • So much information about Norse Mythology. Information about Odin and his origin, about the number nine and the number three. Information about Freya, wife of Odin and all the other famous gods.
  • So much information about history. Because mythologies of different countries are compared you get a view good history lessons too.
  • The difficult poetry of Edda is made so much more understandable by Maria. Even if you do not agree with her interpretation, you are going to learn so much about mythology and its place in the current world.
  • If you like witches this book will have some intriguing chapters about “The Witch Before Time” and “The Way of the Wand Witch”. Women were important in the Viking age, even though they were not supposed to be warriors.
  • The female/Goddess is honoured in this book. You will find out much about

CON

  • The contents page is not right, at least not in my print of 2013. From paragraph 2.2 pages have started to shift. This means that paragraphs or chapters you are looking for are one or even two pages further in the book. This is a sloppy mistake which is uncalled for in such a marvellous book.
  • The font used is extremely small, which makes it less attractive to read.
  • It is a huge book that contains 677 pages. You will have to take your time to read it.
  • The price is for some people a bit high: $77.99. But if you are infatuated with Norse Mythology it is definitely worth your while.
  • There is a biography but not a subject index at the end of the book. Being a book-addict I know which book contains what information but I refuse to bother my brain with the memory of page numbers. So I am a big fan of subject indexes to easily look up things in the multitude of books that have gathered in my house.

Mindfunda verdict:
8/10

Here is an link to buy on Amazon if you enjoyed this review,
and like to support our work. We appreciate your help!

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


(Ready for more free Mindfunda content on ‘#MYTHOLOGY‘?

The Body of Poetry: Sculpting Curves into Words

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Read More

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This is a Mindfunda book review about "The Mythic Dimension", a compilation of essays written by Joseph Campbell, dusted off and reprinted in a paperback. It will help you unleash ...
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Comments or suggestions? Share your thoughts:

We hate Spam as much as you do, your information is safe with us and we will not provide your data to others. To authenticate you are human, you are kindly asked to opt-in on periodic updates as the Mindfunda Monthly.

Please check the appropriate boxes below.

keep me posted on newsno mail please

st. Patrick’s day, three reasons to join the fun

st. patrick’s day

st. Patrick’s day… The Irish people remember st Patrick on the day he allegedly died. March 17. Who was this guy and what did he do with snakes? Why is everything green on  st. Patrick’s day? And why should we care about this folklore event? Read on to find out. Continue reading st. Patrick’s day, three reasons to join the fun