The subject of Sacred Stewardship seems ever more important as we move over the threshold of the millennium. Consciousness is awakening to our responsibility for the fragility of the Earth's ecosystem and the need to recognize and honor the interdependence of all of the life on this beautiful Earth. Vast changes are needed, and I've asked myself, "What difference can I make?" Gandhi said, "You must be the changes you wish to see in the world." So how do I become a steward?
My quest led me to Page Bryant. Page has authored ten books, including the recently published Spiritual Reawakening of the Great Smoky Mountains and Starwalking, Shamanic Practices for Traveling into the Night Sky. Over the course of thirty years, she has been an environmental activist and a psychic counselor and teacher of a broad range of metaphysical and spiritual subjects. Her interests include astronomy, physics, astrology, the psychology of ceremony, esoteric Buddhism, Native American spirituality, theosophy, numerology, sacred ecology, and ancient religions and cultures.
JR: What is Sacred Stewardship?
PB: To me, Sacred Stewardship implies a number of important things. First, I see the word stewardship as meaning "caretaker," "overseer," th us "protector." If we are talking about the Earth, then stewardship implies that every man, woman, and child has to first be educated and/or educate themselves about the planet in order to come to know and understand precisely what an ecosystem is. It means, of course, that everything in every kingdom of life - mineral, plant, animal, and human - is dependent upon everything else. Nothing is separate from anything else. Without trees, we would not have the oxygen we need to breathe, and without us, trees could not breathe; this "interrelationship" is, of course, but a small example of how life forms interact and are interdependent upon one another, which is what an ecosystem is all about. The food chain clearly accents the interdependency of all life. When we look at stewardship, therefore, we have to include interdependency in the equation. Second, the idea of the term caretaker suggests responsibility; each of us has the responsibility to care for the planet and all our relations in the kingdoms. This means we cannot partake of our resources unnecessarily. We cannot waste. We cannot kill animals for sport and expect always to have certain species with us. We cannot plunder and pollute Mother Earth. And perhaps most important, we cannot see ourselves as separate from all else - as superior life forms, if you will. Equality is the key not only to our own survival and that of our relations in the other kingdoms and the planet, but to the quality of life all can expect and enjoy.
On the other hand, the word sacred brings to mind words such as holy, blessed, inviolable, venerable, and spiritual. All these powerful words carry powerful implications. Coupled with stewardship, it becomes quite clear that Sacred Stewardship is a responsibility each of us has to Mother Earth. And it is a responsibility that each must share. There is power in numbers! Furthermore, Sacred Stewardship must be seen as an integral part of our philosophy of life, our spiritual practice, even our religion; I believe that any religion failing to emphasize the sacredness of the Earth omits the sacredness of life itself. Sacred Stewardship is a tool through which we can learn and grow when it comes to forming a solid, workable, practical sense of true values. Metaphysicians and New Age thinkers give a great deal of credence to the "at-one-ment" of all life. Sacred Stewardship gives us the opportunity to practice what we preach or, as the Native Americans say, "walk our talk."
JR: How can we use ceremony and ritual to "walk our talk" in Sacred Stewardship?
PB: Before we can become true stewards of the land, we have to view the land and the spirits that reside in and on the land as sacred. All life is sacred. Most people will readily agree with that on an intellectual level and adopt it as their truth. But that is not enough; we have to experience something in order to know its truth. Ceremony or ritual is a way we can experience the sacredness of life, the spirit of the Earth Mother. Ceremony is a means by which we can put ourselves in touch with the invisible worlds of spirits - the spirits of all that exists in nature. When we are engaged in ceremony, our intuitive faculties are open; our sensitivity is at its peak. Through ceremony, we create the opportunity to honor the lives in nature as well as to "communicate" with those lives individually and/or collectively, depending upon the focus and intent of the ceremony. Ceremony provides for us an occasion to act out what we know and believe to be true. It is a way we can engage our physical body, our mind, and our soul-self in an experience of adoration, attunement, and praise. So be it.
BECOMING A SACRED STEWARD
One way to honor the lives in nature and become a Sacred Steward is to recognize the cycles of the change of seasons - an awareness we have lost due to urbanization. The traditions of many indigenous cultures - ancient or contemporary - often pay homage to the wisdom of nature. Each season has a quality of energy that is reflected by the plants, animals, and minerals. By observing this information and honoring it, we can experience and know the greater truth of our part in the dance of nature. As we embrace this natural wisdom, we become more responsible for our "own garden." The solstice and equinox times show us when to slow down, to be active, to plant, and to harvest.
As we notice changes in our external environment, we can synchronize our internal environment with those values. We may not actually be planting and harvesting our food, but we certainly plant ideas, thoughts, and intentions; nurture and tend their growth, and harvest the results.
By becoming a Sacred Steward of one's internal environment a person begins to walk their talk. Ironically, when one walks in the consciousness of peace, compassion, and at-one-ment, very little talk is needed.
Page is soon to publish a children's book and is working on her first novel. For more information she can be contacted by eMailing: email@example.com
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