Nature and the Real vs. the Metaphorical

We live at a time where it’s difficult to get one another’s undivided attention, which means that having someone put their iPhone down to look you in the eye must be a sign that they really like you.

And if you’re like me, your Facebook feed is filled with images of the natural world: woods, fields, mountains, beaches, all perfectly Photoshopped. Perhaps you, too, have experienced how easy it is to sit behind the computer and click “like” on Facebook images of the woods… instead of going out the door and actually getting into the damn woods.

And as someone pursuing an earth-based spiritual path, I can’t help but notice the trend by which we turn our supposedly sacred elements of earth, air, water and fire into metaphorical tableaus that are easily collaged and re-pinned on Pinterest.


We feel so entitled, so casual about the elements when clean drinking water always comes out of the tap, and the gas burner obediently lights when we turn the knob. And the paradox of resources is that value increases with scarcity. So you become a lot more mindful of water when, every time your ten gallon bucket runs empty, you have to haul it up and down the steep hillside to fill it. And you’re much more likely to worship fire if it starts being something that will actually save your life.

I realize the inherent contradiction of starting a website about nature and art in order to dismiss the value of representational nature art. But I guess what I’m saying is, if our search for the Sacred leads us to the natural realm, let us look for the experiences that are real, because the reality of nature is so much more reverence-inducing than the metaphors we humans make about it. And if you want to deepen your relationship with the element of Fire, don’t look at “sacred fire” collages on Pinterest… let’s go hang out in the woods with a bowdrill set.