The Timeless Wisdom of the Pagan Understanding of Nature  


(A response to Dr. Lubna Sarwath’s “Abhorrence for Wastefulness and Exhortation for Moderation inThe Qur’an”)

As any thoughtful person understands, and as every Pagan knows, the destruction of our world is our destruction and our self-destruction, which is not just sad or wrong, but is a Mortal Sin, A Sin of the First Order committed Against the Gods who are themselves the many spirits and focus of Nature and Life.  We Pagans understand that in our mindless destruction of Nature we are killing the very Gods themselves, Our Sources of Being.

Long before the modern monotheistic religions became ascendant in the world, and claimed the hearts and minds of the people, the people of the world were Pagans.  My own people were and are Pagans.  My ancestors, descendants of Jebe, Genghis Khan’s most brilliant general, whose male progeny would forever carry the title, “Prince of the Niemans” were Pagans, who as Pagans, fought and won The Great Holy War at the Battle of Grunwald defeating the Teutonic Knights who sought to impose Christianity over us.  Eventually Christianity would win, and so too Islam, as the Tatars, as we came to be called, were coerced and forced into conversions.  We never actually completely submitted to the Monotheistic Monarchies, but in secret and sacred places, still practiced the Old Pagan ways, which eventually had to be incorporated into the non-Pagan faiths:  the Burning of the Straw Man in March, The Blessings of the beasts and eggs in Spring, the Fastings and the Sacrifices, particularly that of the Sacred Lamb.  So too the belief in the interpretation of dreams, in the reading of omens, in magic and in mysteries, in destiny and in prophecy, in holy places, in scared trees and stones, and in spirits.  Thatthese beliefs still dwell amongst the people of all nations shows us that Paganism has never been fully eradicated.

And forever at the heart of our religion was the worship and adoration of nature born of the knowing that it is from nature we came.  It was the Monotheists, with their belief in One single God who created man first, and then woman, and then the earth and its creatures and gave to human’s dominion over all living things that caused humanity to cast off its natural reverence for nature.  It was the Monotheistic religions that told Man he had some right to exploit the earth and its creatures, to use them as he chose, for his own ends and for his own selfish needs.  After all, if there was but one God, and that God created living beings in his own image, then all else was an inferior otherness.

That the Pagans saw it otherwise is reflected in the wonderful story of “Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle”  As the tale goes, Gluscabi, the first man, lived with his grandmother, Woodchuck beside “the big water.”  One day Gluscabi, seeing some ducks on the water, decided to take his canoe and bow and arrows and go hunting but a wind came up and it turned his canoe and blew him back to shore. The wind came again and again turned his canoe back.  In frustration, and in order to do and get what he wanted, Gluscabi decided to stop the wind from blowing.  In order to do this, he had to go to the place where Wuchowsen, the Eagle who made the wind, lived.  After a long, trying journey he finally arrived at the mountain peak where the Wind Eagle lived.  Gluscabi called out to him “Grandfather”

He flattered the bird by telling him how well he made the wind flow.  “But” he said,
“ it seems to me that you could do an even better job if you were on that peak over there.”The Wind Eagle looked over toward the other peak. “That may be so,” he said, “but how would I get from here to there?”Gluscabi smiled. “Grandfather,” he said, “I will carry you.”  Gluscabi made a strong strap from the bark of a tree and wrapped it around the eagle in order that he might carry him to the other peak. But he wrapped the carrying strap so tightly around Wuchowsen that his wings were pulled into his sides and he could hardly breathe.He began to walk toward the other peak, but as he walked he came to a place where there was a large crevice, and dropped the Wind Eagle into the crevice, upside down so that he was stuck there.

“Now,” Gluscabi said, “it is time to go hunt some ducks.”

He walked back down the mountain and there was no wind at all. When he got home, hetook his bow and arrows and went back to the bay and climbed into his boat to hunt

But the air was very hot and still and he began to sweat. The air was so still and hot that it was hard to breathe. Soon the water began to grow dirty and smell bad and there was so much foam on the water he could hardly paddle.  When his grandmother comes to realize what he has done, she chastises him:  ““Oh, Gluscabi,” said Grandmother Woodchuck, “will you never learn? Tabaldak, The Owner, set the Wind Eagle on that mountain to make the wind because we need the wind. The wind keeps the air cool and clean. The wind brings the clouds that give us rain to wash the Earth. The wind moves the waters to keep them fresh and sweet. Without the wind, life will not be good for us, for our children, or our children’s children.”

He walked through the fields and through the forests and the wind did not blow and he felt very hot. He walked through the valleys and up the hills and there was no wind and it was very hard for him to breathe. He came to the foothills and began to climb, and he was very hot and sweaty indeed.

At last he came to the to the mountain where the Wind Eagle once stood, and he went and looked down into the crevice. There was Wuchosen, the Wind Eagle, wedged upside down.

Then Gluscabi climbed down into the crevice. He pulled the Wind Eagle free and placed him back on the mountain and untied his wings.

In this story, the wisdom of the Pagan Native Americans, regarding how humans should respect rather than attempt to control nature for their own selfish interests and needs becomes clear.  It is a lesson told around campfires and passed on from generation to generation.

Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.


Join Our News Letter



Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News