By Lynn Pacifico

I follow the old religion, a spiritual practice that experiences divinity within nature and perceives nature as the sacred feminine or the Great Mother. For me, the main tenets are to live in harmony with natural laws, to respect all life, and to protect the earth.

“I have found the Goddess in myself and I love her fiercely.” (Poet Ntozake Shange.)

When younger and studying nature and wilderness arts, I learned to look to the natural world to understand myself better and how to live a healthier, more balanced and vital life. But life has changed, and, no longer getting to the country often, I am reliant on finding the magic in nature in downtown Manhattan where I live.

“There are more ions in the woods than in the field; more on a sunny day than on a cloudy day; and more where the ground has a high radioactive content. Plants are nature’s most prolific source of negative ions for they conduct the negative energy of the earth into the air by ejecting it from the tips of their leaves.” (Gunther B. Paulien, The Divine Prescription and Science of Health and Healing.)

According to the Gaia hypothesis, the earth will regulate itself if left alone. We call unmanicured nature wild, but wild implies out of control. A more accurate description is free. Both the ancients and our city fathers set apart natural areas or fields for us to maintain our relationship with mother nature, but our two downtown fields, one built on by NYU, and JJ Walker Park, now covered in field turf for the exclusive use of league sports, are no longer available to Village residents.

Free nature carries more of mother’s vital life force and that is exactly what we are lacking. Physics explains our world as a construct of electromagnetic energies that hold the physical in place. Our mother’s alkalizing negative ions are more powerful and healing in the beauty and peace of free nature.

“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore: if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity—then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.” (David Suzuki.)

Life is designed to commune regularly with nature’s energetic grid. When visiting Hudson River Park, I relax on the grass lawn and listen to the birds and breezes. I have seen lost raccoons, many magnificent birds, and watched the antics of rat families. I was able to do this because I went late at night. (At the time, I had a large well-trained dog who kept me safe.) 

Healing and energizing for us, our interactions with nature also stimulate its life-giving energies. At the start of this year’s greening, the residents of the West Village were out in droves, looking for open, soft, sunny/shady spots to relax in. The most natural part of the river park is a lovely but small grass and clover lawn next to the parkway. But, as well-cared for as it is, the only time it is quiet on the lawn is when the light is red and the traffic is stopped.

Where can I go nearby on a sunny day when, not only our neighbors, but the entire world is out …all visiting here, to find a little quiet spot in nature? Every single part of Hudson River Park can be saturated with people on a nice day.

I am asking those in positions of power to stop further building on open city-owned land downtown, and to please create more park where possible. We need more nature.

Lynn Pacifico is a fourth generation Villager, who loves nature, dogs, and New York City.

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