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Spring forest lane. Image by Peter Ellis shared under a Creativ Commons, By Attribution licence.
Ravished by Sweetness-The Spiritual Sustenance of Nature
June 04, 2021
We head out of doors in search of the sacred and the spiritual in nature—from cicadas to forest bathing.
Periodical cicada. Image by Dr. Elizabeth Medina-Gray, shared under a Creative Commons By Attribution license.
Ravished by Sweetness June 04, 2021
This summer, the entire country is looking to emerge from our Covid-19 restrictions and return to what now passes for normal. And in some parts of the country, this summer is also about another kind of emergence -- the once-every-17-year appearance of periodical cicadas. In the Northeast and parts of the Mid-West, the trees ring with their singing, and the streets, sidewalks, gardens, and parks are filled with their cast-off shells. Depending on your point of view, they are miraculous or migraine-inducing; a wonder or a whopping pain. Either way, could we have conjured a more perfect metaphor for our first almost post-Covid summer? A look at the cicada’s long history of spiritual resonance that crosses cultures and faiths.

You can read a companion piece by producer Kimberly Winston's at Religion Unplugged.

Douglas Pfeiffer, Ph.D. Professor of fruit entomology at Virginia Tech. He is an expert in integrated pest management and the structure and function of insects. He received his Doctorate from Washington State University, his Masters from North Carolina State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts.

Douglas Pfeiffer. Image courtesy Virginia Tech Dept of Entomology

Douglas Pfeiffer
Virginia Tech Dept of Entomology

Jeremy Biles, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His areas of research include the Philosophy of religion, theories of sacrifice, surrealism, excess, eroticism, and ecstasy.

Jeremy Biles. Image courtesy of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Jeremy Biles
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Josh Shoemaker, MA. Entomologist and former adjunct faculty member at Arizona Christian University. He has a Master's degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska, and in Apologetics from Biola University, He is the author with Gary Braness of God & the World of Insects from Lampion House Publishing.

Josh Shoemaker. Image courtesy Josh Shoemaker

Josh Shoemaker

Cover of God and the World of Insects by Josh Shoemaker. Courtesy Lampion House Publishing
God and the World of Insects
Lampion House Publishing


David Rothenberg,​​​ Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Humanities in philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a prolific author and musician. He received his doctorate from Boston University and his undergraduate degree from Harvard College.

David Rothenberg and Cicadas, Image courtesy David Rothenberg.

David Rothenberg and Cicadas

Cover of Bug Music by David Rothenberg. Courtesy macmillian Picador
Bug Music by David Rothenberg
macmillian Picador

Spring forest lane. Image by Peter Ellis shared under a Creativ Commons, By Attribution license.
An Invitation to Wander in the Woods: Forest Bathing and it's Shinto Origins. June 04, 2021
Long before smartphones, social media, and screen time, the Japanese Ministry of Health promoted immersing in nature to counter the negative effects of stress.  The prescription known as  Forest Bathing was described as a healing practice that would restore balance.  Decades later health research confirms its benefits in reducing blood pressure, stress hormones, and boosting immunity. Today the practice attracts a global following and is growing in popularity in the United States.  What makes it different from hiking or exercising outside? In this segment, Washington-DC-based author and certified Forest Bathing therapist Melanie Choukas-Bradley takes host Amber Khan on a guided tour at the Woodend Sanctuary at the Audubon Naturalist Society headquarters in Washington, DC.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, Author of The Joy of Forest Bathing: Reconnecting with Wild Places and Rejuvenate Your Life

Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary

Melanie Choukas Bradley
"The Joy of Forest Bathing" by Melanie Choukas Bradley and Lieke van der Vorst. Courtesy Rock Point
The Joy of Forest Bathing
Rock Point


As forest bathing or forest therapy grows in popularity, Melanie Choukas-Bradley offers listeners a preview of the experience. From the invitation to wander in the woods to a closing tea ceremony, Choukas-Bradley encourages listeners to adopt what she describes as a ‘wild home’ in nature. She is a trained, certified guide who attended training in Japan to bring the practice home.  Among the benefits, say practitioners and some researchers, are relaxation, less stress, and fostering a deeper connection with nature. Forest bathing began in the 1980s and is known as shinrin-yoku, which means "taking in the forest."  Proponents argue it is rooted in the ancient Shinto tradition of purification.

Our theme music is by MC Yogi,

Princeton Cicada Beat was performed by our guest David Rothenburg with John Wieczorek on precision.

Additional music for this episode is:
Ancient Winds
, and River Flute by  Kevin MacLeod/Incompitech,
and Mind Body Mind and Belle Anette by Blue Dot Sessions
under Creative Commons By Attribution 4.0