From the Author
In writing this book, I discovered the most important theme running through the history of rituals related to the earths seasons is renewal. The wheel turns and the old season gives way to the new, the old year to the new, the old life to the new. Each planting of seeds promises new possibilities. Each harvest brings sustenance for yet another year. Each fallow time regenerates the life of the soil. The sun deities retreat and return. The grain goddesses are lost and restored. The vegetation gods die and rise again. The cycle of life goes on and on, birth after death after birth. Perhaps what all the rituals celebrate is this ongoing-ness of life: the miraculous natural world that makes it possible and our abiding connection to it.
For the ancients, the interdependence was clear. When the people fasted on the eve of a new seasons beginning, they purified not just their own bodies, but the land itself. The fires that encouraged the fecundity of the land also made its people fertile.
For us moderns distanced from the earth by technology, the interdependence is not as clear. And we are paying the price: in polluted air and water, in soil erosion, in deforestation, in global warming. How different the condition of the planet might be if we allowed ourselves to be renewed at each turning of the wheel of the year, if we took the time periodically to celebrate the beauty and bounty of nature.
From the Back Cover
"Exciting, reverent, infused with uncommon good sense, In Natures Honor explores the common ground of our rituals and the impetus that has moved us to invent and perform them. This book brings earth and heaven--and our odd position between the two--more comfortably and more sympathetically together. In prose that is fresh and engaging, Montley offers us a cultural, anthropological and mythological study of the rituals that mark the thermal and solar seasons. The books deep learning is lightly handled as background history to the feasts we celebrate. For each festival under consideration, Montley provides private practices for individuals and formal rituals for larger faith communities. Her rituals are complete with narrations, litanies, dramatic enactments, songs, poems and essays. She even suggests ceremonial food and symbolic activities appropriate to the feast. If you have ever been surprised by an unexpected need to worship and wondered why, and perhaps how, then here is your book. It is rich and inspiring. It is itself a celebration." --John LHeureux, author of The Miracle
"Folklore and customs from around the world, history, mythology, food and religions old and new, plus moving contemporary rituals for large and small gatherings--this lovely book has it all. Highly recommended for anyone who feels a connection to our Mother Earth." --Barbara Ardinger, author of Finding New Goddesses
"Montleys compendium of rituals provides marvelous examples of how people around the world celebrate the seasons of the year and seasons of their lives. This is a collection to consult often as faith communities, smaller circles and individuals seek to honor and make meaning of the earth." --Mary E. Hunt, co-founder of WATER, Womens Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual