Book Review: Sacred Actions by Dana O’Driscoll

It is through the combining of human reverence and thoughtful action with the outer energies of the land that the sacred is awakened.

Dana O’Driscoll

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Quite simply, this is a beautiful and thoughtfully practical book. The author, a practicing Druid, permaculturist, and sustainable living educator, explores how those of us on an earth-centred spiritual path can find ways of bringing our lives into greater alignment with our values. Taking as her ethical basis the fundamental permaculture principles of earth care, people care and fair share, she invites the reader to gently examine how they can make both large and small but significant changes to begin living more sustainably and regeneratively.

In traditional cultures around the world there is very little distinction made between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘mundane’, yet in our modern world separation of the spiritual from the day to day is routine, as people become increasingly disconnected from the land which nourishes and supports them. The reweaving of the spiritual into our everyday lives and finding ways of living in a manner that reaffirms our care for the earth forms the basis of what the author here terms ‘sacred action’. Far from being an intellectual exercise in thinking about how we relate to Mother Earth, this book is full of hands-on practical suggestions and tools to help the reader make genuine shifts.

The book is structured around the eightfold seasonal wheel of the year, beginning at the Winter Solstice with an examination of the ethics of care, and moving through each festival with suggestions for appropriate practical action, ritual and activities connected with the seasonal cycles. For example at the Summer Solstice, a time of abundance and growth, the focus is on examining choices regarding the food we eat, sourcing ethical, seasonal food and cultivating gratitude. Permaculture teaches us to ‘Use small and slow solutions‘ in order bring about real, lasting change, and this very accessible handbook embraces this philosophy, encouraging the reader to make small changes that can become habits, before expanding our projects as we increase in skill and confidence.

I learned that my actions can’t just be sacred when I walk into a forest and honor the spirits there by using ritual – my actions have to be sacred when I am going to work, paying my bills, spending time with my family, and buying food, or when I’m deciding how to spend my money

Dana O’Driscoll

Permaculture with its ethos of emulating natural, resilient ecosystems in designing our environments, and Druidry with its reverence for the earth, are natural bedfellows, sharing the ethics of living regeneratively, giving back to the earth, social justice, and building of community. This book does a heartfelt job of exploring the connections between these practices and encouraging practitioners of earth-centred spirituality to live the wisdom of their traditions in their everyday lives. The message is, even city dwellers who cannot go off grid and grow all their own food can take sacred action. I will certainly be recommending this book to my students in future.

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