The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Sacred to Ecclesial to Secular... and Back Again. (Part 2 of 2)

Part 1 of this blogpiece very briefly traced the journey from the sacred to the ecclesial and on to the secular within the European cultural tradition. Part 2 will briefly describe where this journey has brought us to and whether there are any signs of a return to Earth once again being viewed as sacred.

Viewed entirely through secular eyes the world becomes a collection of individual pieces that move and operate according to “scientific” laws. The Scientific Revolution (heralded in by the publication of Nicolas Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the heavens, in 1543) placed human beings largely as observers of a mechanistic, linear, objective world.

The Age of Discovery (alluded to in Part 1) and the subsequent tidal wave of colonisation of almost all parts of the globe by Europeans brought to the entire globe this highly secularised way of perceiving the world.

The Industrial Revolution (beginning - also in Europe - in the 18th century) did nothing to impede this world-as-object view. Indeed, this revolution took this view and ran with it. If the world is nothing more than a collection of disparate objects, then using those objects for the benefit of humans is the proper thing to do.

Cracks in this mechanistic view began to appear within science itself with the emergence of quantum mechanics and relativity theory only a little over 100 years ago. With respect to the purposes of this blogpiece the major importance of these scientific fields was the dismantling of the notion of the independent observer. A corollary of this was the recognition that the world, including us humans, was not a disconnected place.

One of the foremost of these scientists, Albert Einstein, recognised this when he stated that:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He (sic) experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Later in the 20th century, other scientific branches (e.g., biology, meteorology, ecology) would begin to come to similar perceptions. Although such recognitions were being made within the scientific community, the world as a whole continued to consider the world as secular.

The inventions of the Industrial Revolution and the technologies it spawned saw a rapid rise in material wealth and well-being (although many were excluded.) However, this has come at the enormous expense of the ecosystems of the world.

Environmental Movement

Although there had been many precedents, it was not until the mid-20th century that a widespread global environmental awareness began to infiltrate this secular world-view. Many consider the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, in 1962 to be the book that heralded this movement. Early environmentalism was still trapped within the secular model and tended to think of the environment as something out there. The environment was seen as needing protection, needing to be saved, or conserved. There was little sign that a return to a sacred view of the world was on offer.

Arne Næss, the Norwegian philosopher, published a paper in 1973 in which he coined the term deep ecology to mean a view that was more spiritual and intuitive than that of the mainstream environmental movement of the time. He claimed “that you feel, when you are working in favour of free nature, you are working for something within your self, that ... demands changes. So you are motivated from what I call ‘deeper premises’”

Deep Ecology took awhile to make an impact, and today it still struggles to sway mainstream environmentalism, especially as the climate change movement (with its tinge of anthropocentrism) has become almost synonymous with environmentalism.

Are there any other signs of a re-sacralising of the Earth?

Yes. The emergence of eco-psychology, especially since the 1990s, has had an important role in recognising that the human psyche is fundamentally shaped by our participation in, and partnership with, the more-than-human world.

Eco-spirituality (in many forms) has also been growing in recent years. Within the Christian faith the recent rise of Green Christianity has emphasised the concept of stewardship rather than ownership (or dominion) in Genesis 1.

Indigenous societies around the world have been offering a potent critique of secular Eurocentric world-views for decades. Notwithstanding the near total genocide that many of these cultures endured through colonisation, many have retained a strong connection with their strong nature-based values and insights. Some of us from within the European tradition are starting to wake up and to listen and learn.

In Europe there has recently been keen interest in re-discovering and re-kindling some of its pagan heritage. Much of this paganism had a strong sense of the sacredness of life and the Earth.

Nature Deficit Disorder is a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. In this book, and other writings, Louv lucidly outlines the intimate connection between our well-being and the amount of time we spend in nature. This, and the Japanese practice of Shinrin yoku (Forest Bathing) clearly bring to mind and body our deep need for a sacred connection with nature.

So, yes, there are indications that there may be the beginning of returning to our sacred roots, and our place in the wholeness (holy-ness) of nature.

Addendum: Nothing in either Part 1 or Part 2 of this blogpiece should be read as directing culpability at any particular institution or person. It is futile pointing the finger of blame at Christianity or the scientists of the 16th and 17th century. Nor does it make sense to mete out judgement upon the inventors of new technologies in the 18th and 19th centuries.

This blogpiece simply suggests an arc by which there has been a shift from a sacred view of the Earth towards a mechanistic perspective. Sadly, that arc has brought us to a position where the fate of humanity and the more-than-human world is at the mercy of humans.

Blaming and shaming serves only to further entrench the schisms between us. Polarisation can never allow us to heal ourselves. And, if we cannot heal the divisions between us, what chance do we have of finding wholeness (holy-ness) in the world?

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Sacred to Ecclesial to Secular and ... Back Again (Part 1 of 2)

Alfhol (tiny houses) built for
elves in Iceland.
When trying to make sense of the state of the world and the mess it is in, we surely must consider the ways in which our psycho-spiritual understandings have helped shape this mess. What follows is this author’s attempt to sense-make.

First, I must acknowledge the particular circumstances within which I was born, raised, and now function within the world. I recognise myself as being a member of the most privileged sector of humanity that has possibly ever lived. I have a western European heritage, am male, and was born in one of the most affluent nations in the world – New Zealand. Furthermore, I was born into that generation (baby boomers, 1946 – 1964) that saw massive advances in well-being and wealth.

Although I often may have rebelled against much of my cultural upbringing, I nevertheless have been privileged by it. The following thoughts arise from this socio-cultural perspective.


Even a cursory examination of humanity’s roots and ancient histories suggests that our ancient forebears understood (perhaps intuitively, or instinctively) that we humans are part of nature, not distinct from, nor even a privileged form of it. We participated in an intimately connected, symbiotic, inter-dependent community of all life on this planet. 

Life, and our part in it, was considered as a whole – undifferentiated. In this sense, all life was viewed as sacred, considered holy, or hallowed. Indeed, all these words – whole, holy, hallowed, plus health – derive from the same etymological root. This would indicate just how closely our ancestors understood the sanctity of all life.

But, what animated this life? It is easy to visualise early Homo sapiens, and generations following, pondering this question. Perhaps, around the communal fires, stories were told (some of them becoming famous myths and legends) that attempted to “answer” this question. The human quality of imagination no doubt was invoked and something beyond the immediately observable was posited.

A variety of spirits, sprites, demons, and other deities would have been spoken of around the fire. Many of these would have been imbued with human-like form, manifesting as elves, giants, dwarves, satyrs, nymphs, fairies, leprechauns, and other inhabitants of the forests, lakes, streams, mountains, and deserts. Many of these would later be transformed into gods and goddesses. No matter whether these were imaginal or not, in our early history these were primarily connected with a nature-based understanding of the world.

Furthermore, all people could recognise them and communicate with them. The job of shamans was to make these intra-natural (only later did they become super-natural) deities recognisable to the rest of the clan, group, or tribe.

There were places where it was known that these deities tended to inhabit and, so, early humans came to honour such places; e.g., forest groves, springs, mountain/hill tops, stone circles, caves. Such sites became sacred.

To our ancestors the world was known as a holy (whole) realm with many sacred sites and beings.

Sacred Become Ecclesial

However, things did not remain this way. Gradually the plurality of gods and goddesses were supplanted by the monotheistic god of Judeo-Christianity, and the shamans replaced by priests who interceded between people and god.

Spirituality was traded for religion. The sacred had become ecclesial.

Significantly, this monotheistic god did not reside on or in the Earth. This god was “booted upstairs” as the Buddhist and comparative religion scholar, David Loy, put it.1 Humanity’s view of what was holy and sacred was shifted radically from seeing ourselves as part of nature to a skyward gaze. Alongside this, the duality of Heaven (in the sky) and Hell (of or in the Earth) began to take hold. Thus, belief in, and hope for, the after-life became more consequential than the life here (in nature) and now.

These shifts ripped apart the recognition of the Earth and nature as being holy and endowed with sacred sites. The movement towards the Earth becoming a secular entity – totally devoid of any sense of sacredness – was underway.

Without a sense of holiness (and with life’s meaning being directed towards the after-life) the Earth began to be regarded as simply a resource that humans could exploit. Forests that once housed the fairy-folk could be felled. Lakes and streams where once water-sprites lived could be used as rubbish dumps. Hill tops, the home of giants, could be mined and dug into with abandon.

Within my cultural heritage this exploitation was not confined to Europe. The poorly named Age of Discovery2 began in the 15th century and exploitation and colonisation was exported throughout the world, with disastrous effects upon indigenous peoples and ecosystems in all the continents and oceans of the world.

The door leading towards a mechanistic, deterministic, Cartesian view of the world had been not just opened, but violently kicked in.  

God is Dead

‘Gott ist tot’ (God is dead) wrote Friedrich Nietzsche in 1882, although similar utterings had been made by others in the decades before Nietzsche made his now infamous claim. Not only did this statement inter God, but it also massacred any sense of spirituality and summed up, in just three words, the previous three centuries.

Following on from the age of discovery and the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution further imbued the world as simply a mechanical mixture of nothing more than ‘things.’ The conception of nature as a community of living energies was discarded. If it could not be observed and measured, then it was unworthy of consideration.

Even humans were not exempt from this idea. René Descartes famous dictum, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ implied a subject (I) entire unto itself, not needing connection with other humans to exist or to know oneself.

The secularisation of the world was well and deeply embedded.

God was dead. The sacred was lifeless. Nature was inert. The spirit world was exiled.

Next week’s blog will explore some of the symptoms of this secularisation and ask if the sacred can be restored?


1. David Loy, In Search of the Sacred, Tricycle magazine, 2017

2. Poorly named because Europeans discovered nothing that was not already known to one culture or another.

Tuesday 9 May 2023

An Inconvenient Apocalypse (Book Review)

The title of this book, An Inconvenient Apocalypse,1 evokes the 2006 book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth – US Presidential candidate Al Gore’s attempt to educate people about global warming. This book’s sub-title is Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity.

Little excuse then for not knowing that this book deals with climate change (global warming) and other matters.

However, you will not find any reference in this book to 1.5 degrees (or 2 degrees, nor any other temperature measure) of warming. There are no numbers like 420 ppm or how many Gigatons of carbon dioxide are emitted per year. No apocalyptic numbers at all.

That is because the authors of this book ask different questions than do the writers of most other books dealing with these apocalyptic times. Most other writers are asking questions such as: what does the science tell us, what are we doing, and what can we do about it?

Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen however, ask: who are we?

That simple question is far more significant that those that ask questions of what we have, have not, or will do.

In posing and attempting to answer this fundamental question, the authors have deliberately chosen the word apocalypse to form part of the book’s title. The word, the authors note, can have two meanings, each of which is germane to their thesis.

In contemporary English, apocalypse has the meaning of something cataclysmic, especially the coming of the end of the world.

The other meaning is suggested by the word’s etymology. Jackson and Jensen express it thus: ‘…from the Greek meaning a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden from most people, a coming to clarity.’

This is the message the authors wish to communicate. We are in cataclysmic times and that, to navigate these times, we must lift the veil on who we are. We must also gain greater clarity on the character of the systems we have devised over many hundreds of years.

Jackson and Jensen do not wish to point the finger at human designed systems and institutions such as capitalism, religion, or other ideologies, although these may be implicated as ‘accessories to the deed.’ Rather, they wish to walk and talk us through some inconvenient understandings related to physics, chemistry, and biology. Equipped with these understandings, the authors would like us all (individually and collectively) to come to realise that ‘no human system can ignore the forces of the larger living world, which are far more powerful than we are.’

If you are seeking answers to how to cope in apocalyptic times, or how to proceed, then you will find very few in this book. You will, however, be presented with an articulate formulation of many of the questions that are essential to ask.

Right now, the questions posed by Jackson and Jensen carry more potency than the answers we are being led to believe will resolve the predicaments we are in.

That is because we have been asking the wrong questions.

Jackson and Jensen ask new, and inconvenient, questions. Get the book and start asking the same questions.


1. Wes Jackson & Robert Jensen, An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity, University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana, 2022.

Tuesday 2 May 2023

How Did It Come To This?

It is said that “a picture tells a thousand words.” This blog is a series of pictures asking How did we come to this? Each is then answered with When this will do. I will let the pictures do the talking.

How did we come to this?                When this will do.