Let's make one thing clear: Earth Day, which falls on Sunday, April 22, is an international awareness day for environmental causes. It isn't technically a Pagan holiday. First off, it isn't one of the eight sabbats (the equinoxes, solstices, and festivals that Pagans celebrate on a yearly basis). And it's certainly too young to be an O.G. Pagan celebration (the first Earth Day was held in 1970). But, that doesn't mean it's totally insignificant to people who subscribe to nature-based faiths. Despite its secular roots, Earth Day has come to be viewed as sacred by some.
As you probably already know, nature-based faiths, like Wiccanism and Paganism, worship, well, nature. So, in a sense, "every day is Earth Day," says Pagan author Deborah Blake. Thinking about preserving the Earth and holding it in reverence is part of the regular Pagan lifestyle.
But, according to Blake, that doesn't mean it can't be a special day. Earth Day is a chance for Pagans to show gratitude to nature, which Blake refers to as Gaia. "I would go out of my way on that day in particular to thank her for the gifts that she has given us — trees, air, birds, critters, the food we eat, the water that we drink, and all the other things that we tend to take for granted because they seem like they’re just there, but they are a gift," she says.
For some Pagans, Earth Day is just a small part of a larger commitment to environmentalism. On Earth Day in 2015, the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment was published. Those who signed it pledged to protect the Earth and honor the sacred relationship humans have with nature. "Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment by teaching how we are part of life on Earth, sharing rituals and ceremonies that foster bonds between ourselves and the rest of the web of life, and instilling a sense of responsibility for how we interact with the ecosystem," the statement reads. As of writing, the statement has 9,549 signatures.
Blake recognizes that people who follow nature-based faiths may believe they have a special responsibility to take care of the environment, but that doesn't have to be daunting. She says that anything you can do for the Earth — like cleaning up a park, starting a garden, or donating to an environmental organization — can make an impact. "I think people get frustrated about what they as individuals can do [for the environment], and Earth Day is a great reminder that it doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as little as using less water," Blake says.
Of course, since practicing nature-based faiths tends to be pretty individualized and subjective, it's up to each person to decide how to observe Earth Day. If you do anything this Sunday, Blake says to take a moment to "say thank you to your mother." And maybe it's a good chance to recycle those jeans you haven't worn since 2013? Just a suggestion.