I've been investigating early spiritual belief systems as reflected in European archaeological remains. This is a tricky topic - it's a bit like trying to imagine the original landscape after the developers have moved in, built high rises and parking lots and created a water-park. But it can be done. As I've been pondering Nature-based religions I'm struck by a couple of things. The first is how primal they are. Anyone can experience a state of wonder when looking at a flower - if you allow yourself to do so. Anyone can feel at one with the Natural world and its beauty, if we pause. The next step is the most challenging for us, though. If we accept that Nature is huge and that we are part of it, then we become part of the miracle. The trouble is we have to see that we're only a small part. Very small. We will die, like the flower, and our ultimate "value" is not in whether or not we leave behind copies of ourselves or our achievements for the next generation. Perhaps the flower will be eaten by an animal; perhaps it will decay and power the next series of plants. Who can tell? It serves its purpose one way or another. That's a very threatening idea to the ego-based consciousness that currently runs the human race. The ego wants to be validated. And that may be a clue. The powerful modern religions of the western world tend to focus on the stories of individuals: Moses, Jesus, Mohammed - even the Buddha in that belief system that isn't a religion. When we shift from the appreciation of Nature to focus on a specific life story (Jesus and the saints; the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, etc.) we make the belief system more accessible, more personal. That's good. But we feed the ego of the worshipper as we do so. To say "I am like Jesus and will try to be like him" is very different from saying, "I am part of the vast miracle that is Nature". Humans have been around for a very long time, but the distinctive male-based monotheism that characterizes the West has not been around for very long. 5000 years seems to be the upper calculation. Perhaps it was that way of seeing which led us astray?