If you've read some of my past columns, you'll already know that I'm a huge tree hugger—and also that I believe all witches must be, almost by definition. We must be environmentalists and defenders of the earth and pioneers of sustainability. But don't take it from me. In Wiccan Beliefs and Practices, Gary Cantrell writes:
Wicca is a religion based on harmony with nature and all aspects of the God and Goddess divinity. It is a veneration of our Earth. We understand that our world is in the midst of an ecological disaster in the making and that our atmosphere and our water have been polluted to the extent that major expenditures of effort and money are now required to even begin to repair the damage. Fortunately, some steps are finally being taken to stop the destruction of the ozone layer and to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. […] While there may be no immediate solutions to these problems, they are issues of which we as Pagans and Wiccans must be acutely aware." http://www.llewellyn.comWhich brings us to Earth Day. Whether you celebrate International Earth Day on the Spring Equinox and combine it with your Ostara celebrations or follow the more conventional April 22 date is irrelevant. The important message is that you begin to take part in Earth Day activities more and more throughout the entire year. Here are some ideas, magical and mundane.
Reduce use of pesticides and harmful chemicals in the environment. Need help? Check out our 2009 Herbal Almanac for an article on "Nature's Pest Control" for natural insect repellents in your garden. You'll also find articles on organic cosmetics and other DIY beauty tips you can try at home. To get the real story on store-bought cosmetics and the questionable ingredients they contain, check out the Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. Remember that when it comes to cosmetics and personal products, the words "organic" and "cruelty-free" are meaningless when put on a label, as those are not regulated terms. Watch for the leaping bunny logo instead, which provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development: www.leapingbunny.org.
Think about your use of electricity. In our 2009 Green Living Guide, there's an article about a group of friends who do a month-long electricity fast every winter. (Yes, that means no refrigerator either—but luckily in the winter, the back porch is cold enough for your leftovers!) Think about doing an electricity fast (to the extent that you are able) for Earth Day or for the whole month. Think about hanging your laundry to dry instead of using the dryer. Wash your dishes by hand instead of the dishwasher. Unplug your electricity vampires—appliances that suck energy even when they're turned off. And find out where your local electricity comes from so that you are more aware of the impact of your usage.
Get out into nature—should be a no-brainer for a witch, right? Well this time instead of casting a circle or chatting with tree nymphs, connect with the land on a physical level as well as the energetic level by selecting an area and cleaning it of trash and litter. (And then yes, what the heck, cleanse its aura as well and perform some warding techniques.) Hopefully future visitors to your area will feel the energetic effects of what you've done and not be so quick to litter there again. If you'd like to be an ongoing steward of an area, consider "adopting" a stretch of highway or a park. You can also do this type of charity work with your local Pagan group to raise its profile and inspire goodwill toward Pagans in the community.
Get involved in community gardening or local farming through a CSA. In Sacred Land, Clea Danaan writes, "Most of the food in supermarkets comes from giant agribusiness conglomerates. These corporations control farms, acting as the only purchaser of the farmer's produce as well as the supplier of the farmer's seed, fertilizer and other supplies. The farmer sees very little of the money we pay at the supermarket; most of the purchase price of food goes to packaging and marketing. That money, along with additional government subsidy, pays for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Agriculture today is the largest polluter and uses the most petroleum of any industry. […] Growing your own food keeps more funds in your pocket as you do not pay for shipping, packaging, or other extra costs—just the food and your time spent in the garden. […] What you cannot grow, purchase from local farmers or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Eat seasonally to save money and live more in tune with the land; seasonal veggies taste better and have more nutritional value."
Continue to do all the obvious stuff too! Drive less, change your light bulbs, check your tire pressure, carpool, remember your reusable shopping bag when getting groceries, recycle all the plastic items you can, recycle ALL glass, aluminum, tin and paper… you know what to do, people! Have a lovely and green Ostara.