“What?” You ask, “Loving where you live? That doesn’t start with a ‘B’!”
(Oh, but it does…)
(Really, I promise, you will see!)
“And by the way,” You say, “You are posting this a day early!”
(Well, yes–yes I am, guilty as charged, because the last time I tried to do a timed auto-post, WordPress was naughty. Of course, it might have been operator error…)
Bioregion: An area with similar natural characteristics, including plant and animal life, human culture, climate, and continuous geographic terrain. Varies by scale, from a larger ecoregion (akin to a biome), to a very localized bioregion, depending on the features being considered–smaller bioregions nest into one another, and into larger ecoregions, and can overlap as well.
Bioregionalism: Emphasizes the bioregion as the basis for a healthier co-existence between human culture and the natural environment and sees humanity and its culture as a part of nature, and calls upon people to build positive, sustainable relationships with their bioregion.
Spiritual Bioregionalism: Considers the bioregion, and its inhabitants (including people, past and present) as the originating inspiration for religious and spiritual beliefs. Uses both the ideas of human cultures and ecology as the framework for a personal (though share-able) and organic religious tradition. Is firmly rooted in the idea of “spirit of place” and celebrates the cycles of nature in relevance to individual bioregions, as well as those personally relevant in an individual’s culture.
I talk about bioregionalism with some regularity on this blog…
- “My Paganism is a religion of location. Modern terminology might call it bioregionalist or topophilic. More traditional terminology might say that it is based in the idea of “spirit of place” or by the Roman idea of genius loci.“
- “We love where we live because it is our home, and part of our theology is the idea that we should strive to enter into a positive relationship with the land where we reside. Loving where you live is not passive–it is as much of a relationship (and requires just as much work) as a significant other…“
- “Every one of us lives in a unique ecosystem with a unique history. Our ecosystem can strengthen us, can teach us, can shape us…if we let it. If we know how to talk to it–and more importantly, if we know how to listen to it.“
But I’ve never really spelled out the particulars too specifically (and yes, I gave this term to my beliefs, Google implied that it hadn’t been taken yet). The idea of Spiritual Bioregionalism isn’t entirely new–it overlaps in some ways with concepts such as deep ecology, bioregional animism, or ecological/natural polytheism. The choice of the name though, is based in the simple fact is that my Paganism is based in the spiritual exploration of what I find compelling in humanity’s ideas and ideals and what I connect with in my unique ecosystem. It all starts, and ends (though it can go to plenty of places in between), with the spirit of place…the spirit of MY place.
Spirit of place is defined as the tangible (buildings, sites, landscapes, routes, objects) and the intangible elements (memories, narratives, written documents, rituals, festivals, traditional knowledge, values, textures, colors, odors, etc.), that is to say the physical and the spiritual elements that give meaning, value, emotion and mystery to place.
Spiritual Bioregionalism (as I conceive it) is bound to a single idea–showing responsibility towards the environment and ALL of its inhabitants (including fellow humans) and respecting their capacity for self-determination. It is centered in the notion that the bioregion can take the place of a central deity (without being a deity, unless you wanted it to be one), and be interacted with and celebrated using traditional human ideas of godhood. This interaction may (or may not) include belief in gods–whether it be one god, shit tons of gods, or no gods at all, and whether the nature of belief in said gods is literal, symbolic, or non-existant, whether said gods are a historical or created pantheon (or are the natural features of the bioregion themselves). Spiritual Bioregionalism calls upon us to worship (or not) in any way that brings ecstasy and reverence while honoring the cycles and stages of the bioregion and its inhabitants, and may or may not include the practice of magic (however one chooses to believe in it).
Practically speaking, it might call upon us to go outside more, to get to know our land base and our native species, to volunteer in our communities, to be a lessatarian, to utilize the local farmers market and eat consciously and mindfully, to thrift store more and buy new less, to have a garden, to pick up trash on the beach or at the park, to forage more, or to only eat meat that one can hunt or fish, etc. Magically, it might mean getting to know your local plants and animals for use in or with rituals and spells, to find a spot to commune and communicate with on a consistent basis as our energetic base. Religiously it might mean that we develop new relationships with the genus loci or that we get to know them through traditional cultural names and norms. It might also mean that the Army-Navy football game is just as much of a holiday as Samhain–hey, I’m a former sailor that works on a giant ship and lives in a Navy town…don’t judge. And it might mean something totally different.
Because, I am sort of the only adherent right now (though I suspect I know of a few people that might qualify). I only really know what it means for myself and my family at this point. But, there’s a ton of room to spread out and grow if you want to hang out in a bioregion nearby!
And if you don’t, that’s okay too.