Do you have to be an active Pagan in order to appreciate the inherent spirituality within nature?
The assumption made by many is that simply by opening up to the extraordinary transforming power of our natural world we are somehow regressing to ancient and arcane supernatural beliefs.
This of course is untrue but it is an attitude that has prevailed for several centuries and added to the sad and dangerous disconnect that the human race currently has with the very world that supports and sustains it.
A New Natural relationship
In her book Nature Reality From the Ground Up, author, artist and naturalist Lupa shows how by working with totems we can integrate more closely with the energies of the earth.
In the introduction to her book Lupa describes totems as
…archetypal beings embodying all the qualities of a given species of animal, plant, or fungus, among other beings of nature; they are not simply individual spirits but sort of the deity or great guardian of their species/groups.
The author advocates that readers who want to make this closer connection strive towards developing a closer understanding of the unique qualities that their immediate environment has. She refers to these areas as a ‘bioregions’.
A bioregion is defined in the book as an area that is delineated by common natural features; those such as hills and water courses as well as by various plant types that are uniquely prevalent within the area.
In truly understanding the way in which your own bioregion operates the author suggests embarking upon research into its history and topography from books and local museums. This information can be collated and then inserted onto a map of your own bioregion along with the inclusion of lines that delineate its natural borders.
Introducing the Totems
Lupa recommends that the reader understands the different types of totems that may frequent a bioregion. These include animal totems (and the author has a particular affinity with the wolf), plant totems as well as the underrated but environmentally vital fungi and lichens types.
Lupa also explains how such entities as totems that are directly connected to the land and its natural forces also can play a part in establishing that all-important resonance with the bioregion.
Each and every one of these totem types contain their own unique characteristics and in her book Lupa answers general questions that explain how a newcomer can work with those totems with which they are most naturally and closely suited.
In summing up her shamanic experiences drawn from twenty years of working with totems Lupa concludes that totems are more than simply creations of the active imagination and that they are
“…vibrant, intelligent, dynamic beings sharing the world with us as much as anyone else, and while we have forgotten what it is to be in nature’s community they have not
The totems are our allies in the reclamation process’ and that they patiently await our return to Nature spirituality.”
Nature Spirituality is very much a book of practical spirituality. It includes various exercises that are specifically designed to help the reader to psychically ground, connect to power spots and to access their resident totems.
It also includes guidance on how to use your self-designed bioregional map, engage in totemic celebrations, solar invocation and purifying rites.
As a book this is a comfortable and enveloping read – one which carries the reader along and presents them with an intelligent appraisal of a subject that many would dismiss as somewhat infantile.
Not many books, even those on Shamanism – or even Paganism for that matter, are quite as good as this one in explaining quite so clearly and concisely the form and function of totems as an aspect of nature spirituality.
If we all engaged a little more fully with the ideas contained in Nature Spirituality and practised some of the rituals, rites and meditations formulated by its author then our strife-torn planet would stand a better chance of healing.
Nature Spirituality offers a unique perspective on sacred environmentalism. It is a fascinating and highly significant exploration of a world of spirit of which very few in this modern world are consciously aware.