by Sam Shryock
John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, wrote “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe (My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911).” In the book of his unpublished journals he is credited for saying, “Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate” (John of the Mountains, 1979).
Contemporary Pagans feel that human beings have become tragically disconnected from the natural world and our natural selves as a result of the desacralization of nature. They see a trend in our modern industrialized world to become separated from nature to become observers rather than participants in the Divine creation. Spiritual practice is based on the idea of reconnecting to the Divine creation, thereby connecting to the Divine. As Susan Greenwood wrote, “Instead of alienation from a merely objective world, we [Pagans] experience kinship and participation in nature. Instead of alienation from a merely objective world, we experience kinship and participation in nature.” (The Nature of Magic, 2005). Pagans recognize the Divine in everything around them and practice a spirituality that seeks to spiritually integrate with it. By reintegrating with the universe, we become reintegrated with the Divine. By reconnecting to the universe, we learn to interact with it.
We seek to heal this rift by reconnecting with the sacred dimension of nature and returning a sense of mystery to the world. This is sometimes referred to as “re-enchanting the world”. This spirituality is a countercultural response to the disconnection seen by developing nations for Divine creations. They see this especially demonstrated in how nature has been desacralised in both our thoughts and our deeds. An enchanted world is one where anything can happen and often does. That hasn’t changed in the Industrial Era, but our ability to see it has. People will only see what they believe is possible, and if you believe enchantment is impossible, you can look right at it and you’ll never see it.