Roberts, Elizabeth and Amidon, Elias, eds. Earth Prayers from Around the World: 365 prayers, poems, and invocations for honoring the Earth. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991) Index of first lines. Source list.
ISBN: 0-06-250746-X

Being of a poetic nature but fond of quoting, I'm always on the lookout for sources of good invocations, prayers, chants and meditations. This book is a wonderful resource for the open-minded. It is a collection of earth-related poems and prayers taken from every religious and literary tradition.

If you're the kind of pagan who objects to borrowing from Judeo-Christian traditions, don't bother with this book. Along with the Navaho morning chant and Doreen Valiente's Charge of the Goddess you will find Gerald Manley Hopkins and the Breastplate of St. Patrick.

But look at the included prayers with an unbiased eye, and you find them full of meaning for us all. For instance, Alla Renee Bozarth's "Bakerwoman God" appears to be Christian. But looking closely at the actual symbols, it could just as easily be about the Mother Goddess and her blood-power to remake the world:

Drop me in your special juice in pieces.
Drop me in your blood.
Drunken me in the red flood.
Self-giving chalice swallow me.
My skin shines in the divine wine.
My face is cup-covered and I drown.
What a powerful invocation of the sorrows of our Mother, the Earth, is in Jane Pellowski's adaptation of the Anima Christi:
Passion of Earth, strenghten me.
Resurrection of Earth, empower me.
Good Earth, hear me.
Within your wounds, hide me.
Never let me be separated from you.

Nor do the Christians have all the best prayers. In fact, they are outnumbered by Native American, Eastern, pagan, primitive and poetic voices. For instance, the short poem by Lew Welch:

Religion is Revelation:
all the Wonders of all the Planets striking
all your Only Mind.

Guard the Mysteries!
Constantly reveal them!

The book, designed for people of all faiths to honor the earth, is divided into eleven sections. Of special interest for ritual work are "The Elements", useful for quarter calls, "Blessings and Invocations" for invocations, "Cycles of Life" for seasonal rituals, and "Praise and Thanksgiving" for, well, praise and thanksgiving. Not that these categories are definite: I used "Bakerwoman God" (from "The Elements") for a Candlemas and for a Lammas ritual, and "We join with the earth and with each other" ("Healing the Whole") makes a perfect invocation. "The Daily Round" section is full of ideas for graces and other special purpose prayers, as is "The Ecological Self." Activists whould take special note of "The Passion of the Earth," "Healing the Whole," and "Benediction for the Animals", but you don't need to be an activist to meditate on their lessions.

The introductions are a wonderful 'call to prayer' or at least mindfulness, for the earth, as a commonality between all religions. The authors have taken great care to choose well-balanced, well written entries, suitable for reading aloud, meditations, group work, and just generally sparking ideas. Even if you don't use it for readings, you may want to page through it to get your own creative juices going.

The work would have been improved by an index by author and/or by theme, but the index by first lines, and the included 'Calendar of Earth Prayers are helpful tools.

Be prepared to bookmark the selections you find especially personal, but be aware that you may need distinctive markers, as this is a treasure-trove of readings. It's an expensive work, but for the meditator or routine user of prayers it's worth it. A responsible, lyrical selection.

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