Web Niche on Biodiversity & Conservation Biology

Welcome to my Web Niche on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology (BCB) the department I work in at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town. Biodiversity is the variety of forms of living organisms at various levels and Conservation Biology is the study of how we can prevent species and habitats being lost while still maintaining sustainable human societies. I teach Landscape Ecology and Ecological Informatics.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Seeking a “Green” religion

In my last Blog I discussed why society puts a higher value on a Medical Doctor than an Environmentalist, Ecologist or Climatologist. This has not always been the case, many if not most pre-Christian societies were immensely respectful of the environment. Such societies often recognized that phenomena such as the sun, earth, moon, sea and weather as well as objects such as trees, mountains etc possessed personalities and were to be worshiped as deities. For the Egyptians the gods Shu, Geb, Ra and Nut represented the atmosphere, earth, sun and sky. The weather and sky was especially rich in Gods with Wikipedia listing no less than 82 – see my links. Interestingly Africus is the Roman deity for wind, while the Khoikhoi had Tsui (Tsui'goab) who multi-tasked and did magic, rain and thunder affairs. These gods represent religions that were deeply sensitive of the natural world and respectful of the cycles of life and death in all its manifestations. The “Mandala”, although Hindu in origin is representative of the significance of cycles that these religions share and is usually, but not exclusively depicted as a circle. The circle has come to represent neither a beginning nor an end, and an equality and balance of all elements of the earth. The directions North, South, East and West of the circle have come to represent the Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The commonness of these four elements is embedded in the rituals practised by Celts to the Shaman, and universality of the circle depicted in the artwork of the Aborigine to the Khoikhoi. Few people who have visited the Stonehenge Circle on the Salisbury plains of England leave the site unmoved and are a testimony to the spirituality that such a place generates.

If you interpret such religions in the context of Climate Change and a sustainable environment, its seems that these ancient folks knew a thing or two; why else would they pay so much reverence to the atmosphere and weather? The worshipping of a plural society of gods and goddesses certainly hedges your bets and recognizes equality of gender. Further a suit of “Pagan” values is clearly evident in the “scientific” principles of Gaia (that is why it is named after the Greek deity that oversees the earth). The emergence of Neo-Paganism as a religion is a claimed re-discovery of spirituality (and eschews materialism) and provides for an intimate respect for nature. Consequently Neo-Paganism more directly embraces the paradigm of “think globally act locally” than the big three religions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths which are more concerned with self-preservation (eternal saviour) than saving the earth. So just possibly Neo-Paganism provides the emergence for a “Green Religion” that recognises climate change.

A


Adad
Afa (mythology)
Africus
Aktzin
Alignak
Altjira
Ami-Te-Rangi
An (mythology)
Ani (Etruscan divinity)
Anshar
Anu
Ao (mythology)
Apu-Hau
Ara Tiotio
Atua I Kafika
Atutuahi
Awha

B


Baal
Badessy
Baiame
Binbeal
Bunjil

C


Chac

D


Daramulum
Dievas (Lithuanian god)

Dievs (Latvian god)

Dyeus

E


Ehecatl
Eitumatupua
Enlil

F


Fa'atiu
Fisaga

G


Gardaitis

H


Hadad
Hau (mythology)
Hau Marangi

I


Indra

J


Jupiter (god)

L


La'a Maomao
Laufakanaa

M


Mamaragan
Manannan mac Lir
Mata Upola
Matagi
Matuu
Mextli
Mug Ruith

N


Negafook
Nganga
Notus
Numakulla

O


Olorun

P


Paka'a
Perkele
Pluvius
Pērkons

R


Raka Maomao

S


Sabazios
Set (mythology)
Shango
Shina-Tsu-Hiko
Shu (Egyptian deity)
Svarog

T


Tawhiri
Tengri
Teshub
Tinia
Tlaloc
Torngasoak
Tsui
Tua-Uo-Loa

U


Ua
Ukko
Ungud
Uranus (mythology)

V


Varuna
Viracocha

W


Wuluwaid

Z


Zephyrus
Zeus
Zibelthiurdos
Zu (mythology)

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