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

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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.

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.

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“.


Tree of Life

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


  • 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.


  • 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.



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.

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Stonehenge and sacred geography

Just this week you found out that there is another collection of stones near Stonehenge. 4,000 years ago it was built. And it is covered with earth. Why? Nobody knows. It is not excavated yet. Scholars have been tracing it down for years using remote sensing and geophysical tomography.

Stonehenge ikea


The monoliths are buried in the ground. What is more attractive and mysterious as a hidden landscape of stones. Did they create a gate towards Stonehenge? Did they fence off the natural avenue that Stonehenge formed with Durrington Wall? There is something magical about stones. Some people claim stones vibrate energy that can heal. But the gigantic stones once moved by human beings are simply impressive.

The magic of stones

For years I wanted to visit Stonehenge. The mystical place where the sun was honored and the turning of seasons was celebrated. Paul Deveraux writes in his book Sacred Geography:

Sacred Geography

The Stonehenge Riverside project took place between 2003 and 2009. A little more light has been shed on the sacred geography of the area as a result… When the mosaic pieces of archeological findings were put together, a picture emerged of a place being used to celebrate the recent dead and the river Avon being used as a link with Stonehenge, a place of the ancestors’.

Mike Pearson

The Riverdale project was led by Mike Pearson, professor of archaeology at Sheffield University. He led the Stonehenge Riverside Project from 2003 to 2009. He has appeared in Stonehenge, a decade of discovery.



Stones used to build it are not only from the area but also from the Preseli hills in Wales. In that way uniting two ancestral circles in England. He explains how ancestors, astronomy and the mid winter sunset are the most important features of the magic of Stonehenge.

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Summer solstice: when the sun does not seem to move

summer solstice
art @ginnygaura.com

Summer Solstice. The day in the year that the sun seems to hang still in the air. Solstice originates from the Latin word Solstitium: sol = sun and stitium is to stand still.

Summer solstice

It has been celebrated ever since agriculture came into fashion, about 10,000 years ago. We all know that solstice was celebrated in places like Stonehenge. But what does it mean for dreams and dreaming? Do you remember the Mindfunda on Earth day? Here you can read it. Solar flames trigger the earth magnetic field. The earth magnetic field influences dreams and dream content. Stanley Krippner, professor of psychology at Saybrook University (see an interview with him here) found out that during the times of high solar flames the earth magnetic field responds and dream content changes. In his extrasensory perception experiments he found out that dreams that where telepathic often occurred on days with a low magnetic activity.

Summer solstice: research

Other research has been conducted by Russian researcher Shumilov. He looked at activity in the Earth’s geomagnetic field from 1948 to 1997 and found that it grouped into three seasonal peaks every year: one from March to May, another in July and the last in October. You can read more about this research here.

Some people can be very sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field. According to a man calling himself Harry Magnet you are more sensitive if you have a psychiatric disorder. That is a little troublesome, but I can understand his reasoning. Just like a magnet has poles, Harry assumes people also have magnetic poles that can be pulled by disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field. This is what Harry has to say about the summer solstice: “The general pattern was that my symptoms would get progressively worse for a month or two before the solstice (both winter and summer), then get better after the solstice. If your depression, mania, anxiety, or any other symptom changes with the seasons, this can be a sign of geomagnetic field sensitivity”.

Summer solstice: this year

At this years summer solstice (2015) the activity of the sun will be low, the highest activity are moderate flares. You can find out all about the strength of solar flames using this link here. So this solstice is good for telepathic dreaming. For engaging in your own mutual dreaming experiment (more info see here).

Enjoy your summer solstice. Honor the light and the dark in your life. they need each other. So much of our time is waisted trying to be perfect. Be like the sun these days: hang still in the air. observe, be nurturing.

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