Feeding Green Fire


  • Jane Caputi Florida Atlantic University,




Aldo Leopold, green fire, ecofeminism, viriditas, Mary Daly, Mother Earth, integrity


Aldo Leopold’s experience with a dying wolf and vision of ‘green ?re’ has led to green ?re becoming a ubiquitous signi?er of environmental concerns, while also understood as carrying a spiritual signi?cance. To explore this conjunction, I put Leopold in dialogue with aspects of Native American philosophy and science, and ecologically minded theologians and philosophers Mary Daly and Val Plumwood, ?nding a common theme of integrity. To understand the symbolic signi?cance of green ?re, I employ a method drawn from Jungian studies, ampli?cation, ?nding parallel refer¬ences to green ?re in the theology of Hildegard of Bingen, alchemical symbolism, contemporary art, poetry, and popular culture, the nature writing of Robin Wall Kimmerer, and discourses and practices around biotechnology. These parallels similarly reveal green ?re to be a symbol of that integral life/death force, linked in turn to ‘Mother Earth’ or ‘Mother Nature’.

Author Biography

  • Jane Caputi, Florida Atlantic University,
    Jane Caputi is a Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Communication & Multimedia at Florida Atlantic University. Her most recent book is Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture. She also has made a short documentary film, The Pornography of Everyday Life and is now working on a new film, Green Consciousness: Re-Attachment to the Mother/Earth as well as a book on green fire.


Abraham, Lyndy. 1998. A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous (New York: Vintage).

Allen, Paula Gunn. 1986. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (Boston: Beacon Press).

Angermeier, Paul L., and James R. Karr. 1994. ‘Biological Integrity Versus Biological Diversity as Policy Directives’, Bioscience 44.10: 690-97. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1312512.

Art Chicago. 2010. The International Fair of Contemporary and Modern Art. Catalog.

Baring, Anne, and Jules Cashford. 1991. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (New York: Penguin Books).

Becker, Carol. 2000. ‘GFP Bunny’, Art Journal (Fall): 45-47.

Berry, Wendell. 1977. The Unsettling of America (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books).

Britton, Sheilah, and Dan Collins (eds.). 2003. The Eighth Day: The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac (Tempe: Institute for Studies in the Arts).

Cajete, Greg. 1993. ‘An Enchanted Land: Spiritual Ecology and a Theology of Place’, Winds of Change (Spring): 50-55.

———.2000. Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence (Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers).

Canan, Janine (ed.). 1989. She Rises Like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess by Contemporary American Women Poets (Freedom, CA: Crossing Press).

Caputi, Jane. 1978. ‘“Jaws” as Patriarchal Myth’, Journal of Popular Film 6: 305-25.

———. 2004. Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press).

———. 2007. ‘Green Consciousness: Earth-Based Myth and Meaning in Shrek’, Ethics & the Environment 12.2: 23-44. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2979/ETE.2007.12.2.23.

Chelland, Fran. 2010. ‘We Are All Made of Stars’, unpublished essay, February.

Chevalier, Jean, and Alain Gheerbrant. 1994. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (trans. John Buchanan-Brown; New York: Penguin Books).

Cohen, Jeffrey J. 2008. ‘Afterword: An Unfinished Conversation about Glowing Green Bunnies’, in Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird (eds.), Queering the Non/Human (Burlington, VT: Ashgate): 363-76.

Daly, Mary. 1973. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press).

———. 1978. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Boston: Beacon Press).

———. 1998. Quintessence… Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto (Boston: Beacon Press).

Di Prima, Diane. 1998 [1978]. Loba (New York: Penguin Books).

Eliade, Mircea. 1978. The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy (trans. Stephen Corrin; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd edn).

Emel, Jody. 1998. ‘Are You Man Enough, Big and Bad Enough? Wolf Eradication in the Us’, in Jennifer Wolch and Jody Emel (eds.), Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature–Culture Borderlands (New York: Verso): 91-116.

Fassler, Margot. 1998. ‘Composer and Dramatist: “Melodious Singing and the Freshness of Remorse”’, in Barbara Newman (ed.), Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and her World (Berkeley: University of California Press): 149-75.

Flader, Susan. 1974. Thinking Like a Mountain: Aldo Leopold and the Evolution of an Ecological Attitude toward Deer, Wolves, and Forests (Columbia: University of Missouri Press).

Haraway, Donna J. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge).

Izod, John. 2001. Myth, Mind and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Time (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Judson, Olivia. 2010. ‘Baby Steps to New Life Forms’, New York Times, 27 May. Online: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/baby-steps-to-new-lifeforms/?scp=1&sq=Judson,%20Olivia.%202010.%20%20%E2%80%98Baby%20Steps%20to%20New%20Life%20Forms&st=cse.

Kac, Eduardo. 2005. Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, and Robots (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511489464.

———. 2006. ‘Boulevard Alba’, enameled steel, 40 x 45 cm. Online: www.ekac.org.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2003. Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press).

King-Lenzmeier, Anne H. 2001. Hildegard of Bingen: An Integrated Vision (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press).

Leopold, Aldo. 1966. A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation from Round River (New York: Ballantine Books).

———. 1991. The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays by Aldo Leopold (ed. Susan L. Flader and J. Baird Callicott; Madison: University of Wisconsin Press).

Lerner, Gerda. 1986. The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press).

Levingston, Steven. 2001. ‘Jellyfish Gene Leaps from the Test Tube to Tickle Entrepreneurs’ Imagination’, New York Times, 18 January. Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/18/news/18iht-glow.2.t.html?scp=1&sq=Levingston,%20Steven.%202001.%20%20%E2%80%98Jellyfish%20Gene%20Leaps%20from%20the%20Test%20Tube%20to%20Tickle%20Entrepreneurs'%

Lomer, Beverly. 2005. ‘Hildegard of Bingen’, in Taylor 2005: 761-62.

Martinez, Ignacio, and Juan Luis Arsuaga. 2004. Green Fire: The Life Force, from the Atom to the Mind (trans. Michael B. Miller; New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press).

Matthews, Caitlin. 1991. Sophia Goddess of Wisdom: The Divine Feminine from Black Goddess to World Soul (London: Mandala).

Meine, Curt. 1988. Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press).

———.Correction Lines: Essays on Land, Leopold, and Conservation (Washington: Island Press).

———. 2010. Personal communication. 21 October.

Meine, Curt, and Richard L. Knight (eds.). 1999. The Essential Aldo Leopold: Quotations and Commentaries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press).

More, Max. 1999. ‘A Letter to Mother Nature’. Online: www.strategicphilosophy.blogspot.com/2009/05/its-about-ten-years-since-i-wrote.html.

———. 2009. ‘True Tranhumanism’. Online: http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/tabid/68/id/10685/Default.aspx.

Newman Barbara. 1998. Hildegard of Bingen Symphonia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press; 2nd edn).

Newton, Julianne Lutz. 2006. Aldo Leopold’s Odyssey (Washington, DC: Island Press).

Newton, Julianne Lutz, and Eric T Freyfogle. 2005. ‘Sustainability: A Dissent’, Conservation Biology 19.1: 23-32.

Oakes, John. 2010. E-mail communication. 18 February.

Oxford English Dictionary. 1989. (Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2nd edn).

Plumwood, Val. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (New York: Routledge).

———. 1998. ‘Wilderness Skepticism and Wilderness Dualism’, in J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson (eds.), The Great New Wilderness Debate (Athens: University of Georgia Press): 652-90.

Pollack, Andrew. 2010. ‘Presidential Bioethics Panel Gives a Green Light to Research in Synthetic Biology’, New York Times, 17 December.

Rasmussen, Knud. 1929. Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos (trans. W. Worster; Copenhagen: Gyldendalske, Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag).

Roach, Catherine M. 2005. ‘Mother Nature Imagery’, in Taylor 2005: 1107-10.

Schauffler, F. Marina. 2003. Turning to Earth: Stories of Ecological Conversion (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press).

Schipperges, Heinrich. 1997. Hildegard of Bingen: Healing and the Nature of the Cosmos (trans. John Broadwin; Princeton: Markus Wiener).

Shabecoff, Philip. 1993. A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill & Wang).

Shaw, Miranda. 2006. Buddhist Goddesses of India (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

Sjoo, Monica, and Barbara Mor. 1991. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2nd edn).

Taylor, Bron. 2010. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (Berkeley: University of California Press).

Taylor, Bron (ed.). 2005. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (New York: Thoemmes Continuum).

Thoreau, Henry David. 2004. ‘Walking’, in Roger S. Gottlieb (ed.), This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment (New York: Routledge, 2nd edn): 29-31.

Trussell, Denys. 2001. ‘Unmoving Pictures’, The Ecologist 31.2: n.p.

Varley, Helen (ed.). 1980. Color (Los Angeles: Knapp Press).

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. 1986. Merriam-Webster Inc.

Wilkinson, Richard H. 1994. Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art (New York: Thames & Hudson).

York, Michael. 2005. ‘Shamanism—Traditional’, in Taylor 2005: 1532-35.



How to Cite

Caputi, J. (2011). Feeding Green Fire. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 5(4), 410-436. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.v5i4.410