ForeWord Reviews

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Green Psychology

Cultivating a Spiritual Connection with the Natural World

Foreword Review — July / Aug 1999

Who speaks on behalf of the earth? Who tells of the degradation, the pollution, the exploitation of her? Who calls for change? Since the sixties, a number of cultural movements upholding an ecological world view and advocating a bioregional, sustainable lifestyle have emerged. As a result, herbal, homeopathic and natural medicine; shamanistic practices; deep ecology; ecofeminism; social ecology; environmental ethics; ecopsychology; ecotheology; green economics and the neopagan revival have all taken on the earth’s and, not surprisingly, our own cries for health and balance.

Psychologist Ralph Metzner is the well-known author of Maps of Consciousness, The Unfolding Self and Well of Remembrance. All of his works are extensively researched and written with scholarly clarity balanced with heart-felt compassion and personal experience.

In conjunction with writing Green Psychology, he visited the Mayan Lacondon people and participated in their ceremonies. He also dove into alchemy known for its axiom “as above, so below,” providing tables of microcosm/macrocosm correspondences that help the reader to easily understand the relationship of the individual to the earth. As Metzner worked with the psychic symbolism of the elements, he concluded that a change in our attitude toward the elements and nature is both necessary and desirable. This is a key to transformation. Vision quests and prayers provide experiences of change. Metzner extensively explores the mystical greenness of Hildegaard von Bingen’s visions, the role of psychoactive plant medicine, the psychopathology of the human-nature relationship, historical roots of the split between humans and nature, the black goddess, green god and wild human traditions and more.

Green Psychology accomplishes things that few environmental books have—it involves the reader on more than the intellectual level; it personalizes the global issues on a deep, inner level; it allows one to embrace the shadow side of our industrialized past; it brings myths to life in a renewed way; and it weaves poetry to stir the heart and imagination. The notes and bibliography at the book’s end point to rich exploration for those inclined. The epilogue serves an urgent purpose in raising the quintessential question “is humankind really going to extinguish itself?” Metzner has created a superb presentation about the psychological darkness of secret and forbidden worlds, bringing up both the dark and the light side of our collective consciousness and historical past, and pointing the way that stirs individual responsibility and personal involvement.
Of all the other writers preaching about and berating our environmental participation, perhaps it will be the psychologist, a Ralph Metzner, who awakens the sleeper. He brings his light of understanding, training, intuition, experiences and compassion to his new book. He invokes a green psychology, transforming our relationship to the earth.

Sophia Tarila