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 9 January 2024

Nature Disconnect in 7 "Easy" Steps (Part 1)

In 2005 the American author Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder to describe the increasing alienation of children from the natural world.1 Although his book was primarily about children and nature he later wrote of the malady as a condition of modern life for adults also.

Louv is not alone in describing the damaging effects of nature disconnection. The Priest, author, and self-proclaimed geologian Thomas Berry noted the environmental destruction being wrought upon the Earth and the impact this had on humans. He wrote that,

‘If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants, our sense of gratitude, our willingness to recognise the sacred habitat of habitat, our capacity for the awesome, for the numinous quality of every earthly reality.’2

If disconnection from nature is not good for us, or if the earth grows inhospitable towards us, then can reconnecting help alleviate that?

Yes, it can.

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (translated as forest-bathing and recognised world-wide as nature-therapy) recognises nature disconnection as having a damaging impact upon human health in today’s world. The remedy, unsurprisingly, is time spent in nature. One of the pioneers of research into the beneficial effects of shinrin-yoku is Yoshifumi Miyazaki, professor at Chiba University.

Miyazaki notes that for a substantial time in our evolutionary history we were part of nature, and so ‘our bodies are adapted to nature.’  Yet, he states, ‘In recent years, stress-related diseases have become a social problem on a global scale. Without even realising it, we are over-stimulated and stressed by today’s (human) made world, and that makes our bodies more susceptible to disease.’3 Miyazaki (and now, many other forest-therapy researchers) are re-discovering the benefits of nature connection.  

It could be argued that our separation from nature is our fundamental alienation.

So, why did we4 disconnect in the first place? How did this come to be? After all, for at least 95% of Homo sapiens existence we were intimately connected with and part of nature. How did we come to be disconnected?

What follows is an attempt to discover the answer to this question. It did not happen all at once; the process began around 10,000-12,000 years ago and has continued ever since, and is ongoing. Nor is there any single cause. A number of steps have been taken. Some of these steps were giant strides, and others more of a shuffle. Occasionally along the way a step away from nature has sometimes been followed by a step back toward nature. Also, it must be said that the sobriquet Easy should not be taken literally – it just seemed to fit the phrase. Some of these steps surely would have been difficult and even involved conflict and loss of life.

A caution. This step-by-step outline is not a definitive, nor an authoritative, one. It is simply an attempt by the author to make sense of what has happened.

Let’s begin the journey.

Step 1. The Agricultural Revolution

Following the last Glacial Maximum there was a brief period of warming interrupted severely by a drop in earth temperatures during what is known as the Younger Dryas. With the ending of this cold period and a warming of the planet bringing us into the Holocene epoch several regions around the world, notably the Fertile Crescent, began to experiment with the domestication of plants and animals.

Up until then (around 12,000 years ago) Homo sapiens had been evolving upon the earth from around 200,000 – 300,000 years ago and the genus Homo for approximately 2.5 million years.5 During all that time humans had been intimately connected with, and part of, nature. So much so, that humans would not have been able to make a cognitive distinction, let alone articulate any distinction. We lived primarily as hunter-gatherers, although there were massive variations on that theme in different regions of the planet.6

The shift to agriculture necessitated a settled lifestyle. This lifestyle was at odds with the nomadic lifestyle of following herds or moving because of seasons and differing vegetation and fruit growing regions. Humans took the first steps away from a direct interaction with the natural seasons, plants, animals, and cycles.

Domestication of plants and animals helped to shift our human perspective away from an inter-dependency with nature towards a domination of, and control of natural cycles. In turn, this began to play havoc with how we perceived nature. Nature was now something other. Nature now began to be seen as external to us.

It is worth noting here that although the Agricultural Revolution had a beginning (albeit spread over centuries) it has not yet ended. We humans are still attempting to totally dominate and control plants and animals. Daniel Quinn refers to our form of agriculture as ‘totalitarian agriculture’ because it ‘subordinates all life-forms to the relentless, single-minded production of human food.’7

Step 2. Anthropomorphising of Nature Spirits

Whether humans in ages past believed in specific spirits associated with different animals, plants, and geographic features (such as mountains, rivers, lakes etc) or that these contained their own energies are often debated.

Over time these nature spirits came to be personified as human-like. Today we might think of these spirits as elves, leprechauns, sprites, trolls, fairies, dwarves, or such. However viewed, this step of anthropomorphising the natural energies and cycles of the world supported humans thinking of ourselves as superior to, and separate from, the rest of nature.

Although we had not yet come to have complete agency over the earth, the earth’s processes began to be regarded as being driven by human-like spirits.

It is debatable as to which of these first two steps was the prior step. Trying to discover the answer to that is of little relevance, they probably co-emerged, and more than likely influenced each other.

Nevertheless, by at least 10,000 years ago human beings had already embarked upon the journey of disconnection from nature.

Next Steps

Over the next couple of weeks this blog will consider the next five steps: 3. Gods and Goddesses; 4. Duality, Patriarchy, and Sky-gods; 5. Monotheism and Transcendence; 6. The Reformation and the Rise of the State, and; 7. Scientific Revolution and Techno-philia.


1. Louv, Richard, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder, Workman Publishing Company, New York, 2005.

2. Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the Earth, Counterpoint, Berkeley, California, 1988.

3. Miyazaki, Yoshifumi, The Japanese Art of Shinrin-yoku, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2018.

4. The use of we here needs to be explained. I use we to mean the westernised culture that has its roots in Europe. However, since the age of colonisation and more latterly globalisation, (we)stern culture has come to dominate the entire world, although a number of indigenous/traditional and nature-based societies manage to hold onto their beliefs, values, and worldviews against tremendous odds.

5. A number of different species of the genus Homo have now been identified. To name just a few: H habilis, H erectus, H ergaster, H neanderthalensis, H naledi, H denisovensis, and at least half-a-dozen others. Our species (H sapiens) is the only one still existing.

6. See Graeber & Wengrow, The Dawn Of Everything: A new history of humanity, Penguin Books, UK, 2022 for a thorough, and somewhat controversial, examination of our “prehistory.”

7. Daniel Quinn, Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? 5 October 2013.

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