Spiritual Ecology


References on Spiritual Ecology


Since the 1990s, spiritual ecology has been rapidly developing into a focus of academic teaching and research as well 

aspersonal and institutional action. The following are some of the best books on spiritual ecology:


Berkes, Fikret. 1999. Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resources Management. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis.

Carmichael, David L., et al., eds. 1994. Sacred Sites, Sacred Places. New York: Routledge.

Carroll, John E., and Keith Warner, eds. 1998. Ecology and Religion: Scientists Speak. Quincy, Ill.: Franciscan Press.

Edwards, Jo, and Martin Palmer. 1997. Holy Ground: The Guide to Faith and Ecology. Northamptonshire, UK: Pilkington Press.

Earth Ethics. Fall 1998. Religions of the World and Ecology: Discovering Common Ground. Earth Ethics Special Issue 10(1):1-32.

Khalid, Fazlun M. and Joanne O’Brien. 1992. Islam and Ecology. London: Cassell Ltd.

Kinsley, David. 1995. Ecology and Religion: Ecological Spirituality in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Gottlieb, Roger. 1996. This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. New York: Routledge.

Grim, John. 2000. Indigenous Traditions and Ecology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Nelson, John E., ed. 1996. Purifying the Earthly Body of God: Religion and Ecology in Hindu India. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Prime, Ranchor. 1992. Hinduism and Ecology. London: Cassell.

Rose, Aubrey. 1992. Judaism and Ecology. London: Cassell.

Sheldrake, Rupert. 1994. The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press.

Tobias, Michael. 1991. Life Force: The World of Jainism. Berkeley, Calif.: Asian Humanities Press.

Tucker, Mary Evelyn. 1997. “The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology.” Worldviews: Environment, Culture and Religions. 1(1):3-24.

Tucker, Mary Evelyn, and John Berthrong, eds. 1998. Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelations of Heaven, Earth, and Humans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press and Center for the Study of World Religions.

Tucker, Mary Evelyn, John A. Grim, eds. 1993. Worldviews and Ecology. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press.

White, Lynn, Jr. 1967. (March 10). “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” Science 155:1203-7.

Whole Earth. 1997. The Earth in Crisis: Religion’s New Test of Faith. Special Issue no. 91.

Wilson, Colin. 1996. The Atlas of Holy Places and Sacred Sites. New York: DK Publishing.


Enter the Anthropologists


Many anthropologists have published research relevant to spiritual ecology, even if they and others do not necessarily i

dentify it as such. Some of the highlights for a sample of pioneering works are given below. 188


Rappaport, Roy. 1984. Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People. 2d ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. The author provided the most detailed, empirical, and elegant application of the systems approach in ecological anthropology to document and explain the natural function of the supernatural. His fieldwork with the Tsembaga of Papua New Guinea is the first substantial ethnography in spiritual ecology. He analyzed Tsembaga ritual and warfare as mechanisms regulating the delicate balance between the human and pig populations to reduce competition between them. 188

Harris, Marvin. 1979. Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture. New York: Random House. Marvin developed cultural materialism as a research strategy within cultural anthropology. Materialism asserts that causal primacy most likely stems from the material conditions of existence, rather than ideas. Accordingly, materialism assigns research priority to the material over the mental.

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. 1971. Amazonian Cosmos: The Sexual and Religious Symbolism of the Tuka no Indians. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. 1976. “Cosmology as Ecological Analysis: A View from the Rainforest.” Man 11(3):307-18. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. 1999. “A View from the Headwaters.” The Ecologist 29(4): 276-80. The author argued that the Desana, a Tukano group, in the Colombian portion of the northwest Amazon, are intimately tuned into their forest and river ecosystems, not only through their subsistence activities, but also through their social organization, myths, rituals, and symbols. The author’s elaborate and penetrating analysis comes closest to a holistic cultural and spiritual ecology, which integrates materialist and mentalist approaches to culture-environment relations.

Nelson, Richard K. 1983. Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. For many years, the author has explored traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) and natural resource use, management, and conservation systems of indigenous peoples. He convincingly illustrates how their deep respect and reverence for the animals they hunt and fish tempers their relationship with their forest, lake, and river ecosystems. In part, this worldview derives from not drawing discrete boundaries between humans, nature, and the supernatural, but viewing and treating animals as humanlike kin closely linked with the spirit world. Taboos and rituals are pivotal in these relationships. For instance, there are special protocols for treating an animal when it is butchered, distributing parts to different persons, and disposing of unusable parts. All beings and things are potentially spiritual and sacred.

Lansing, Stephen J. 1991. Priests and Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Endangered Landscape of Bali. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. The author, with a multidisciplinary team of colleages in applied systems ecology and computer simulation, constructed a model of how temple priests in Bali regulate irrigation waters for wet rice paddies through their religious beliefs and rituals. He demonstrated the efficacy of the natural functions of the supernatural.

Berkes, Fikret. 1999. Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resources Management. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis. The author analyzes how traditional environmental knowledge; natural resource use, management, and conservation; and religious beliefs and practices are all interrelated in the case of the Cree Indians of James Bay in subarctic Canada.

Anderson, Eugene. 1996. Ecologies of the Heart: Emotion, Belief, and the Environment. New York: Oxford University Press. The author argues that sustainable use, management, and conservation of natural resources depends not only on rationality and hard facts, but also on beliefs and emotions. Traditional indigenous and other societies that invest heart and soul as well as mind and body in caring for their environment usually do so successfully. 190


Periodicals about Spiritual Ecology 


It is also noteworthy that since 1997, an entire international refereed academic journal focuses on aspects of spiritual ecology:  Worldviews: Environment, Culture, and Religion.  The purpose of this scholarly journal is to offer an interdisciplinary exploration of the environmental understandings, perceptions and practices of a wide range of different cultures and religious traditions.  Disciplines represented include anthropology, environmental studies, geography, philosophy, religious studies, philosophy, sociology, and theology (https://www.brill.nl).  Also a popular periodical, EarthLight: The Magazine of Spiritual Ecology, has been published for more than a decade now (https://www.earthlight.org).

The United Nations Environmental Programme sponsored publication of the monumental inventory Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity co-edited by Darrell Addison Posey and others based at Oxford University (London: International Technology Publications 1999).

Merchant, Carol 1992 Radical Ecology. Routledge, Cahapman & Hall Inc., New York

Merchant, Carolyn. 1989. Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Arne Naess, "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement. A Summary," Inquiry, 16 (1972): 95-100.

Harvey, Graham. 1997. Contemporary Paganism: Listening People, Speaking Earth. New York: New York University Press.

Chuang Tzu. Trans. James Legge. Ch. 22

Zenrin Kushu. The Way of the Zen. In A.W. Watts 1957:134

William James  1958:293. The Varieties of Religious Experience. N.Y.: New American Library

Bhagavad-Gita: Song of God. 1972. New York: New American Library. 3rd ed. Cohasset, Mass.: Ventura Centre. Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.