|Seward Park, Seattle, WA|
Occasionally when you identify as a Pagan (or Neo-Pagan, or follower of an "earth-based religion" - whatever flies your broom...), you'll get the question, "So does that mean you worship trees and dirt and stuff?"
Let's first look at the word "worship":
vb, -ships, -shipping or -shipped, -ships, -shiping or -shiped
1. (Ecclesiastical Terms) (tr) to show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate (God or any person or thing considered divine)
2. (tr) to be devoted to and full of admiration for
3. (intr) to have or express feelings of profound adoration
4. (Ecclesiastical Terms) (intr) to attend services for worship
5. (tr) to honour
6. (Ecclesiastical Terms) religious adoration or devotion
7. (Ecclesiastical Terms) the formal expression of religious adoration; rites, prayers, etc
8. admiring love or devotion
9. dignity or standing
So essentially, to worship something or someone means to show or have respect/adoration for it. But really that question is more intended to mean "do you believe trees are GOD?" Which sounds silly when you put it that way, but that's what they're asking.
And when I think about it - the answer to both aspects is YES. As a Pagan, I believe that there is a sacred/divine aspect to all of nature and what nature (including us) can create ourselves. If you consider God/Goddess/Deity/Spirit created everything in existence - and the act of creation is what makes deity, Deity - then you cannot separate the Creator from the Creation. If you wish to respect the Creator, then you must also respect the Creation.
It is this complete lack of respect for Creation that has landed our environment in such a perilous condition. If your holy book says God put you in charge of what It made, gifting it to you, then where does it say that you should treat that gift like garbage? To overuse, abuse, and ruin it? How does that show respect for the Creator? It doesn't.
If you want to show respect for an artist you like, you don't trash their work - you support it, purchase it, take care of it. The work is not the artist, but the artist is part of the work. Similarly, our children are not us, but we are part of them. The past is building the future, which is right now and everything else. All life is in a state of interdependent balance. There is an intricate pattern of life that must be acknowledged wholly - it cannot be separated simply to suit your own will.
So yes, you can say I worship trees and dirt and stuff. I find the divine all around and within me, and my path is one of respect and responsibility.