Monday, March 21, 2005

Review: Gaia Eros

Gaia Eros: Reconnecting to the Magic and Sprit of Nature
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
New Page Books, 2004
ISBN 1-56414-729-0

Gaia Eros is a collection of essays by Jesse Wolf Hardin, a writer, artist, activist and practitioner of Earth-centred spirituality. Wolf is the founder of the Earthen Spirituality Project, a river-canyon sanctuary in New Mexico where he has lived for over 20 years developing rich relationships and a deep sense of harmony with the land. There are 38 essays in this book. Each logically flows from the previous one, but they were all independently written and stand solidly on their own.

Gaia Eros is a book to be savoured. The prose is eloquently and thoughtfully crafted: each word and combination of words carefully chosen for their meanings as well as their emotional responses. At the end of each essay, I found myself wanting to close the book and simply reflect upon the words and thoughts presented before moving on to the next one.

In Gaia Eros, Wolf chooses to use the term New Nature Spirituality (NNS) to describe a collection of spiritual paths that form relationships with, and draw insight and instruction from, a living and inspirited earth. NNS, he says, encourages an interactive relationship with nature, not just the observation and study or it, nor the simple celebration of it.

Through personal anecdote and reflection, Wolf inspires the reader to move beyond the way he or she views the planet and foster a new, deeper relationship with the earth: One that is conscious, active, responsible, supporting and interdependent. He also suggests extending this relationship to others in our lives, and offers suggestions on how to do this.

A couple of aspects of the book did present problems for me. Because Wolf’s style of writing is informal and poetic, it means that he writes mostly in sentence fragments. This probably wouldn’t bother most readers, but the editor in me was increasingly distracted by it. Also, the last few essays are longer and more political. While still inspirational and often very worthy of reflection, they also sometimes bordered on preachy, especially when the focus of the essay was more about our responsibility towards the land than with seeking and building relationships.
Despite these drawbacks, Gaia Eros is an excellent book that easily belongs on the bookshelf of anybody seeking to connect more deeply with the living earth.

© 2005. This review originally appeared in the Ostara 2005 issue of WynterGreene.

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