image enhanced from original by Rua Lupa
This week we interview nature spiritualist Rua Lupa, creator of the naturalistic tradition called Ehoah.
B. T. Newberg: First off, what is Ehoah?
Rua Lupa: Ehoah is a philosophy and tradition that is based on being balanced within Nature. The word Ehoah is used to describe being completely balanced within Nature. Individuals who follow this tradition are called Seekers of Ehoah. Seekers of Ehoah feel that there is need to live more actively within Nature instead of exclusively focusing on the spiritual aspect of Nature. Images associated with Ehoah are made to symbolize this balance.
BTN: Is this a theistic tradition, with gods, goddesses, and so forth?
RL: Ehoah tradition and philosophy is a Nature Spirituality and therefore has no focus on any Gods, Goddesses or any ancestral culture, i.e Celtic or Norse. With no focus on these things, you as an individual are free to decide which God(s) and/or Goddess(es) to praise and worship, or none at all, and what ancestral culture to follow in your personal search for Ehoah.
The Three Basic Tenets are the basis of everything in the Ehoah Tradition. To be a Seeker of Ehoah you need only believe that these Three Basic Tenets hold true.
BTN: What are these Three Basic Tenets?
RL: Ehoah is an offshoot of Reformed Druidism (RDNA) by way of revising their Two Basic Tenets and adding a third tenet to the Reformed Druid’s Basic Two. Ehoah’s Three Basic Tenets are:
The added tenet is considered important because Seekers of Ehoah feel that there is need to live more actively within Nature instead of exclusively focusing on the spiritual aspect of Nature. Like that of the Reformed Druids, to be a Seeker of Ehoah you need only believe that these Three Basic Tenets hold true. In believing this, naturally you would actively work toward being completely balanced within Nature, physically and spiritually.
BTN: Could you explain a little of the significance of the Pa Kua mandala? What does it mean to you? How do you use it in your practice? What prompted you to create it?
RL: I was fascinated with Feng Shui and the Pa-Kua which is essentially a compass for organizing your life. So I decided to make my own.
The Ehoah Pa Kua in its early development naturally had the elements and the calendar incorporated into it. As I wanted Ehoah to revolve around Nature, I added the lunar changes, life stages, and the cardinal directions. The virtues seemed appropriate to add as I felt that everyone should benefit from trying to better themselves.
BTN: How did you choose the virtues?
RL: I chose those particular virtues, through asking myself what I wanted to instill in my own children. What nine things did I want to see in the generations after me? Through much thought and debate, I decided these were the best and aligned them with what seemed the most appropriate direction considering what was seasonally occurring and the stage of life represented.
Not to mention that I had researched in depth different cultural views of virtue and noted that it was considered a high valued element in any society.
As for the elements, when looking into the subject I had found that the when individuals were categorized as one of these four elements, some of them were really in between yet there was no place for them. So I made a place for these few between people.
Between Air and Fire is Stars, which also incorporates the Galaxy; Between Fire and Earth is Magma, which also incorporates metal; Between Earth and Water is Vegetation, which incorporates wood; Between Water and Air is Storm (Fog, Clouds, & Lightning). In the center is Spirit. To express this I designed the emblem so that the structure is better understood. This final elemental design is the foundation of the Ehoah Pa Kua.
BTN: What about the subjective feelings you experience working with the Pa Kua? And how has it helped you grow as a person?
RL: Human habit is to categorize and organize the world around you. The Ehoah Pa Kua does just that. Making the Natural World easier to understand and conceptualize. Using the Ehoah Pa Kua, rituals can be devised in respect to how Nature functions. Reminding us how interconnected we are in Nature and how we are very much a part of the big picture. This is what it has done for me as well.
image enhanced from original by Rua Lupa
BTN: What about the Year Wheel calendars?
RL: Before the Ehoah Pa Kua, I made the calendar. The calendar began from the Pagan Association contemplating creating a calendar for themselves because our climate did not work with the Celtic Calendar used to mark important dates, as the times spring was celebrated in the Celtic Calendar it was still dead of winter here. So I took it upon myself to make a calendar that worked, mostly because I could never understand why we use the Gregorian Calendar as it is a Solar year, but didn’t recognize the solar changes in its design. I had counted the days between solar changes and divided these days into months so that the solar change would remain at the beginning of the month. I had found that the months did not look anything like the Gregorian Months as the summer half of the northern hemisphere had 31 days a month and the winter half 30 days a month.
For a bit of creative fun, the colours from the emblem were then put on the calendar. It was found that the colours were accurate to the seasonal changes and complimented each other and were left with the final version.
All three calendars took about 2 years to complete.
I forgot to add how the Pagan Association reacted to the calendars (as they helped me kick it off).They loved it and found that it worked very well, but by the time it was complete, they had felt that it would be better for individual use rather than for the group as a whole. They explained that the point of the Pagan Association was to be inclusive to all paths and felt that this would create a feeling of exclusion to those who followed a different calendar. And therefore had left that idea of creating a new calendar behind them as a result. So instead of using the calendars I made, they put all sacred days and events onto the common Gregorian calendar for each different path that was involved so that everyone could celebrate the diversity. This I felt worked very well for what the group had wanted. I then asked about what I should do about the calendars I made, as they were completely nature-based and still useful (and after spending 2 years on making them, you do kind of get attached). They simply pointed out that I was making my own tradition and that I should keep doing so as they felt it was a very complimenting path to their group (at this point I hadn’t really put together the fact that I was creating a tradition and this was a bit of a new realization for me).
BTN: How do you use the calendars in your life, or your spiritual path?
RL: I use the calendar to make me aware of what is currently happening in Nature. Right now we are in Mensis Hinnuleus (month of the fawn), which instantly makes me aware that a) that is the constellation currently in the middle of our night sky (in the northern hemisphere); b) that fawns are currently being born or have been recently born, which also reminds me that I can keep an eye out for them when I see does; and c) It is the first red month so Lux is near (summer solstice for northern hemisphere) and we are in the summer half of the year.
BTN: How do you see a specifically naturalistic spirituality embedded in Ehoah?
RL: In terms of Naturalistic Spirituality, the stepping stones specifically address that, as each stepping stone has a physical and spiritual aspect. As well as the Ehoah Silva (not yet up on the site, but watch for it soon!).
BTN: You offer an unusual training program called the Stepping Stones. At first glance, this looks like a simple gardening program. But is it more than that?
RL: First off, I’d like to ensure that it is understood that the stepping stones are a completely voluntary option to follow and are not mandatory in any way; and that each individual can go about pursuing Ehoah in their own way.
That said, yes, at first glance the stepping stones would certainly look that way as the first portion of each has you do some physical activity and the second is more spiritually linked.
In the physical portion, the reasoning behind encouraging someone to find seeds from a wild plant and then grow it in your home is first – to realize that nature is always there and doesn’t have to come in an animated form of a mega fauna. And second, that without plants nothing we know on this planet would exist, so it is key to begin your learning with the primary life form. Not to mention that your local environment is completely determined by your local flora.
By understanding the needs and forms that your local plants grow, you gain much knowledge on why they grow where they do, how other life forms utilize it and how fauna activities revolve around it. Not to mention the direct benefits we have from them for air, food, water purification, medicine and aesthetics.
BTN: What about those who rent, move from place to place, or otherwise cannot keep a garden. How can they complete the Stepping Stones?
RL: Simple answer – an outdoor space is absolutely not necessary for you to follow the stepping stones. In fact, it explicitly states to utilize a pot and grow indoors. Most plants will do fine in a small pot in its first few years of life and someone in a life of continual moving shouldn’t feel encumbered by this. (I have two pots that each fit within one hand that are currently growing a white spruce and scots pine. The scots pine is over two years old and can stay in it for its entire life)
When it comes to the time when the plant requires to be planted in the ground a yard seems a mandatory thing, when it really isn’t the case. I myself live in an apartment and have planted several trees already since I moved here in the winter.
One option is to ask someone who has a yard if they would like to have your plant.
Another is to sell it at a market, i.e. Farmer’s Market, for a small price. A free give away sign wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but would likely get less experienced individuals that may not be good care takers or lead well experienced people to think your plant is somehow diseased or inferior (if you are moving that might be a good thing to add to the sign and lead more experienced people to take it off your hands).
A third option (and an admitted favorite of mine), is to guerrilla garden. For those not in the know, guerrilla gardening is pretty much what it sounds like. You plant your vegetation in rebellious areas, such as parks, alleys, vacant lots – pretty much anywhere soil isn’t used. You can easily learn more about it by looking it up online. There are a surprising amount of methods to accomplish this. I mostly do this either at night, or during the supper hour when it gets quiet outdoors. This is mostly because I can’t do the “wear a orange vest and hard hat” method (which works wonders I’m told, especially in urban areas) as I am in a small community where people would recognize that I am not a municipal worker.
So yeah, its a pretty simple process that in reality doesn’t require much from you, just an eager mind, a willing hand, and a little patience.
BTN: Last question – If you could sum up your path in one sentence, what would it be?
RL: The following quote is sometimes used to summarize the outlook of Seekers of Ehoah,
“There is no one right way, as there are many paths to the same destination, you just need to choose the path that feels most right to you, even if it means blazing it.”
Rua Lupa is the creator of the naturalistic path called Ehoah. She also founded the Sault Community Drum Circle, The Gore Bay Drum Circle on Manitoulin Island, and has been a board member of Bike Share Algoma. She loves the outdoors and enjoys sharing experiences with others of the same passion. She is a strong advocate of wild spaces with native species instead of traditional gardens because of a growing problem with invasive species and lack of space and sustenance for our native wildlife. She strives to learn and retain as much as possible about the natural world and how one can live in balance with the immediate natural environment. She endeavors to one day live comfortably with all basic needs met within the natural environment.
Check out Rua Lupa’s other articles:
Rua Lupa is back! This time she reveals her visionary naturalistic path called Ehoah. Don’t miss it: “Balance within nature: An interview with Rua Lupa.”
Appearing September 4th on Humanistic Paganism.
Appearing September 11th on Humanistic Paganism.
After posting the question “What does your spiritual practice look like?” to the Naturalistic Pagans email list, I was drawn to Eli’s response. I knew immediately we had to publish it. – B. T. Newberg
I have both practice and practice. I practice the small, daily and seasonal rituals that form the face of pretty much all religions, and I also have more long-term habits that reflect the spine of my personal spiritual beliefs.
Every morning when I wake up, I say good morning to place. I say:
“Good morning, Cosmos; good morning, Milky Way; good morning, solar system,” and so on down to “good morning, Eli.”
When I get in bed each night, I say my goodnights in reverse.
I say this grace before meals:
“Thank you to the plants and animals whose lives were taken to feed my body; someday, my body will feed your descendants. Thank you to the people who made this food and brought it to me; may we continue to nourish each other in ways that sustain this beautiful and sacred living planet.”
I have other small practices throughout the day, mostly tied to mindfulness and intentionality, the bedrocks of my beliefs.
Because we started out Wiccan, my wife and I honor the Wiccan Sabbats and Esbats as logical reflections of natural cycles. Our celebrations range from full-out ecstatic ritual, complete with circle-casting, divination, and power raising to simply going for a walk to appreciate what’s in bloom, what the weather’s like, or what the crazed neighborhood squirrels are up to.
I also try, inasmuch as a black-thumbed urbanite can, to live in balance with the living world around me. I choose local, seasonal, organic foods whenever possible. I compost and recycle. I grow a few food plants. In clement weather, I challenge myself to have as many car-free days as possible – and to expand my definition of “clement weather” to include as many days as possible. I donate my time, money, and energy to organizations whose work aligns with my values.
The place where these two types of practice most overlap for me is in cycling. I recently wrote a whole blog post about the spiritual aspects of cycling. It is a reflection of my deepest beliefs about the nature of the sacred and my part in it, and a ritual in itself.
I get all swoony just thinking about it!
Eli Effinger-Weintraub also talks about her practice of naturalistic spellcraft in a recent interview at The Secular Buddhist.
So there you have it. Now, readers, how about your response?
What does your practice look like?
Eli Effinger-Weintraub is a naturalistic Pagan rooted in the Twin Cities Watershed. She practices a mongrel brand of Reclaiming-tradition hearthwitchery influenced by Gaia theory, naturalistic pantheism, bioregional animism, Zen Buddhism, and the writings of Carl Sagan. But she tries not to think too deeply about any of that and mostly just rides her bicycle, instead. Eli writes plays, creative nonfiction, and short speculative fiction, often inspired by the visual art of her wife, Leora Effinger-Weintraub. She is also a mercenary copyeditor. Find her online at Back Booth.
Appearing August 28th on Humanistic Paganism.
Then, in two weeks: Rua Lupa is back! This time she reveals her visionary naturalistic path called Ehoah. Don’t miss it: “Balance within nature: An interview with Rua Lupa.”
Appearing September 4th on Humanistic Paganism.
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