amid wild clovers

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Our first commissioned collection. It feels like such a gift… to me. Claudia, owner of a bulk food/herb/tea shop a town or two away wants us to collect lemon balm & red clover blossoms. Her parents are from Peru & as I am collecting the pink & lavender blossoms into the wicker basket, I am thinking of all of the cholitas (Peruvian women from rural areas still in traditional dress & engaged in indigenous wisdom and custom) who carted various herbs, vegetables, flowers from the campo (rural area). How they would bring their mantas (Andean woven textiles wrapped around the shoulders for carrying things in, like a sack) full of cosas (things), babies, extra clothes & food for the day at market and journey there and back. Many times they would simply unfurl their manta and make mounds of papas (potatoes), medicinal wild roots & leaves, and various other cosas on top of it resting on the earth.

 

How simple, transitory & divine those markets seemed. Those formidable women, sometimes so old it seemed as if they were carved out of the mountainside, sitting by their mounds from early early morning to late in the day – at times nodding off, chuckling with friends, imploring passersby to buy their cosas. And today I am doing the simplest act of pinching the spiked globes from atop wild clover plants.

Wild plants- how different they are in comparison to cultivated ones. The wild plants do not need me in the slightest. They offer a streamline connection straight to the source, our Great Mother Earth. They are feral & resilient &, in the case of clovers, packed with nutrients from deep in the soil.

 

I feel humbled as I pick these complex blossoms thinking of all the energy that went into their flourishing. I feel the abundance of the earth in such beauty, so freely offered streaming through my hand as I wander the mountainside finding patches beneath apple tree, beside blueberry bush, in swale & amid the wilder thickets of aster & ivy, locust & tall grasses. I feel humbled as I explore the land, basket in hand, feeling excitement pulse through me akin to how I felt as a youngin’ on an easter egg hunt.

 

I am here, we are here & I get to take part in the seasonal flowerings of wild plants – their harvest and distribution. I feel so blessed beyond rationale.

when loving has been forgotten, we must ~become~ again

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We become the things we care for, that we invest our time in, that we love
 because love is an act of expansion, an opening, a reaching toward. When we love, whether plant, person, place, etc, we extend ourselves to that object, becoming more than our bodies. Our concepts of our self & our awareness grow, and we merge or connect with that object of love. In some ways we have now become that object, or in sensing our connection with it, we have a tendency to have more empathy (or we feel what they feel more easily) with the beloved.

 

But what of a culture whose bottom line necessity has been made up to be survival through greed, overwork, one-up-manship & racing one another to an ethereal finish line time and time again? The finish line of monetary gain at all costs- even over the health of ourselves & our ecosystems? Cultural champions can be holistically strong, but they can also be way out of balance: never resting, the disease of over-work constantly taking hold; raised stress levels leading to a myriad of health conditions; a perpetual valuing of doing over being. And the earth, our larger body, in the scheme of a capitalistic, racing economy where one has to grab & take before the other is able to in order to get the share, is largely leaving our literal playing field of the ground we walk on dreadfully raped & pillaged, polluted and overlooked. In a word, the playing field is disrespected. The playing field is seen as a backdrop and as the culture’s main Father God says, The earth is here to serve you, it is seen as an eternal, limitless bank account where everyone has the bank number- it’s just a matter of who gets there first.

 

But the earth is not a limitless, eternally giving bank account for everyone to take from. The earth is a system, a living organism, a dynamic combination of finite and infinite resources playing together much in the same way our body is a largely mysterious system of interchanges amazingly keeping a healthy equilibrium. The earth is abundant, yes! But she is also kind of like your mother, who will give you everything, but not if you disrespect her, take her diamond and gold jewelry, cut off her hair, blow smoke in her face, inject her with dangerous toxins, spill harmful substances into her mouth and other orifices, and when you say you’ll take her for a massage, lace her with life-sapping chemicals leaving her body in a state of depletion & warfare. She is abundant & giving, our Great Mother, yet we must learn to work with her instead of treating her like some backdrop wishing tree that has no relationship to us beyond what we can get from her.

 

So we begin again to care, to see, to behave in relationship with, to love, adore, & worship, even, this being on whom we live and breathe and have our being. Take my body broken for you, eat it in remembrance of me, the Christ says, and I wonder- Isn’t this verse more apt in relationship with our Primordial constant mother, the earth? Instead of setting our spirituality on an ethereal God of total spirit who will nourish our spirit but not our body, what if we integrate and ground our spiritual leanings? The verse can then take on a literal meaning wherein our Great Mother says to us: take my body broken for you, eat it in remembrance of me. And, if every time we eat, plant a garden, & break bread, we see it as such a spiritual, sacred sacrifice she has made for us, giving us of her literal body so that we can continue to live. In this way she is our sustenance. Which of you can live without being a part of her in this way? Yet in remembrance, connection & union with our mother – how could we treat her with such sacrilege? With such ultimate disrespect?

 

I don’t believe we could. But we have fostered and nurtured religions and economic and political systems where the ones who make it to the finish line, chunk of mother’s flesh in hand first, make it to the bank & so continue to contaminate and control. Wherein the god-figure is a male and tells us the earth has nothing to do with us beyond being something we subjugate and have dominion over.

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Yet yesterday I planted the remaining holy basil plants into the garden and looked at the last one, a runt very small in size compared to the rest of the seedlings so far and I gave it a special place. I planted this little one in a container that I would take up to my room and I sang to the plant in worship as is the centuries old tradition in India. As I did I felt my heart & my being extend to include this plant in my circle of care. I felt myself expand in adoration to this little runt who through my love and the vitality in its DNA will grow to be big & strong, cared for and nurtured and will therefore bless me in turn with its medicine, its presence, its sweet juicy leaves. For you see, the earth & her beings are inherently giving. The Great Mother, like most of our own mothers, wants to give us every good thing. But first we must treat her with respect and see her for the gift she is. Let us sing along in adoration with this “Ave” as written by Diane Di Prima,

 

             you are the hills, the shape and color of mesa
you are the tent, the lodge of skins, the Hogan

the buffalo robes, the quilt, the knitted afghan

you are the cauldron and the evening star

you rise over the sea, you ride the dark

I move within you, light the evening fire

I dip my hand in you and eat your flesh

you are my mirror image and my sister

you disappear like smoke on mist hills

you lead me thru dream forest on horseback

large gypsy mother, I lean my head on your back

 

I am you

and I must become you

I have seen you

and I must become you

I am always you

 I must become you

 

For when we become something, when we extend ourselves out to see ourselves as connected or not-that-different than something, we are not apt to treat it any differently than we would want to be treated. And over time this leads to great care & a deep, abiding cherishing.

(i am, will get) strong (i think, i know)

I will get strong, I think, walking up all these hills all the time carrying water.
Everywhere I want to go there is a hill to go up or down, strengthening calves, honing balance and gaining skill dodging poison ivy, stepping on rock instead of slippery mud streaked path.
I am getting strong, I think, as I lift chicken after chicken in and out of the chicken tractor; slinging compost; creating garden bed; again, carrying water.
I will get stronger, I know, walking up and down these hills all the time carrying water.

A call from the earth heart: Let your actions be your song of gratitude ~~

For years I have been dreaming of some-day homesteading & it is a grand possibility that the day is here that this dream can begin in full. In groundedness. In partnership & possibility. I think the day is here that the land-based experimenting begins (for it will always be an experiment). The land beckons. The land needs me (and don’t I know how I need it!). It is continually amazing to me the things which are valued in our present culture. It is true we are divorced from the earth as a culture. Inherent in this problem is not technology (though without boundaries, this development contributes to this divide). It is an orientation toward the earth which does not value the things of the earth which are, which exist and have existed for millions of years. This is clean pure water & air. These are two things which our society treats as throwaway commodities. I remember living in LA and weeping, feeling such pain over the degradation and devaluing of water & air. As if there is anything more important. And land-use is tied up in this, too. For everywhere throughout the United States the government is funding  & subsidizing on a mass scale farm operations which are inherently damaging to the soil and water of the earth, which is our body & blood, too.

And so here, in this Appalachian homestead, to find pure water, clean air, good soil is like an unnamable gift that seemingly should be available to everyone (as it is so natural and inherent), yet is a scarcity. All over people complain of the city water and in many other countries, water is even more devastated. Yet why? How have we let it slip this far?

I am humbled to have the opportunity to caretake this land, to care for and enjoy & relish in this opportunity. Oddly enough the earth & the people groups most closely associated with life of the earth are the most often devastated. Why do you think this is? To me it seems to be because there is this greed-instict for more – an insatiable desire to dominate which has taken over people of the earth. Those that don’t have it or who don’t feed that part of themselves, who are more peaceable, less interested in expanding and taking over and who are more inherently of-the-earth up until now have continually gotten taken-over by this contingent that would seek to exploit & continue conquering & dominating. Up until now this dominating contingent has been able to continually spread out over the earth extracting resources, gaining in material wealth & therefore in control. But now the very resources of our planet, the fabric of the earth is crying out for us to listen, to stand, to call out this dominating streak, to change our ways and return to the earth. It is up to us what we will do and each of our actions makes a difference. All the difference in the world, in fact.

To have found a remaining place undamaged and into perpetuity placed into a land conservation is a dream-come-true. It is an unnamable vestige of the primordial gift humans have a right to on this planet. The gods of petroleum, the dollar, flashy shiny things like cars and new appliances, bigger less efficient spacious homes~ full of comfort and ease – these all attract the people of the earth away from this inherently rewarding life-style of tending the earth, caring for what already is. Let me ask, when will the material things ever be enough? Christmas after Christmas- or whenever!- of getting gifts- when will that one gift ever be enough? Or is there within the modern human an insatiable wanting for the next thing & the next (which is natural enough). But look at what happens if this desire-penchant is never examined or named. Everyone has plenty of things filling their homes, but what has happened to the clean air & water? What has happened to the beauty of the natural world?

Everyone is moving around so fast, maybe they couldn’t see it anyway. But has the speed & commodities of the culture taken us away from something inherent and very important to what it means to be human? I believe it has. And I believe the answer lies in returning to the earth. Returning to her rhythms, to relationship with her. Practicing listening to the land instead of placing our temporary, this-one-lifetime wills and desires into the mix. For if we do not listen, the earth is going to respond to us. She has all the gifts to give us, but if we do not start treating her with respect & loving her, the systems are going to fail. The things which we need to live (clean air, water & good food) are going to become scarce. Then the money, the car, the house will not matter. If we don’t have these very basic things, which now we take for granted, humans will not be able to inhabit this place any longer. It is time to wake up. This is a wake up call. Wake Up! Let these words impress upon you and see for yourself, from within, if they are true to you. If they are, ask yourself from within what the next step is for you. We must all begin seeing our true roots in mother earth. Enough of the divide, the divorce from her seeking only to consume. We must become active participants in the earth story. Planting, harvesting, sharing and tending. Experimenting in relationship with the earth. Then let our actions be our song of thanks for this great gift of being here.

natal dispositions on being human: what’s our genetic blueprint??

When were humans a part of the earth? I look at the squirrel here in the tree. A creature who eats nuts, climbs trees, buries nuts and seeds, sometimes forgetting them resulting in more trees growing from those seeds. The squirrel is a creature of its place, within the limits of its place & still geared there. What of the human? Has the human grown so far past the limits of its place as to not be of any place any longer, beyond those of its own creation like cities? Has the human, as a species, outgrown its limits? What influenced the human to become this way?

I watched a program the other night wherein a naturalist imprinted some just-born wild turkeys into believing he was their mother. As he walked around the forest with these turkeys throughout the first year of their life, he realized that they had a perfect genetic blueprint for the forest. They knew which animals to stay away from, which bugs to eat and when it was time to roost and, finally, leave the nest. From within, as if by a genetic clock, these animals knew inherently how to be an intimate, connected part of their place. And the world is richer for their presence.

Thinking of the genetic blueprint of the wild turkey which from within teaches it, inclines it toward its indigenous & connected, innate behaviors, I wonder what the genetic blueprint of the human is. What are humans naturally inclined toward, if anything? Are we naturally tribal species, looking to form social bonds, mating & living within community? Do we naturally tend and search for food and shelter, while managing and changing our external environment? Is there some genetic blueprint which causes us to do anything? Do we even have a same genetic blueprint, or throughout the span of evolution have we lost our wild innate characteristics becoming more influenced by social norms and external cultural trends?

The age of industry, petroleum & coal, extraordinary resource extraction and ultimately technology, which is supported through mineral extraction worldwide, have resultantly shifted our original behaviors as earth-connected indigenous groups into rootless, trending-toward-homogenous, global species. Work can be done & connections can be made faster. Food can be found at grocery stores. Water comes out of a tap and anything can be bought through an intangible and global webbing service called the internet. Something from one end of the globe can be had from the other end of the globe in a day’s time if you have the money and desire for it. Indigenous groups all over which do still exist have slowly been trampled and their land and customs exploited, erased or forgotten worldwide. These groups, which used to populate the whole earth, in this forgetting, are typically powerless toward this global homogenous dominating culture which controls the news and media which informs people’s ideas so many times the majority of people have no idea what is going on as a result of the spread of the culture of which they are a part.  It is my theory that human culture, rather than any innate biological blueprint exisiting within humans, influences and finally dominates human behavior.

Take an orphaned baby from China, for example. Perhaps this baby’s specific genetic blueprint dates back for the past 5,000 years within China. The baby’s grandparents for the past 20 generations have been Chinese. Yet, take this baby, which is adopted into the United States, and see if it behaves any differently than any other children also growing up in its same culture. In most cases, the child will on the outside look Chinese, but from within, will be from the United States. No lingering behaviors from China readily show themselves. The pattern of Chinese culture is not carried over with the child innately from birth. This seems to point to the fact that human culture holds so much sway that it is the most dominate behavioral factor in human action and thought.

I can also attest to this as I have stepped out of the mainstream human culture from which I grew. With each step, I faced external challenges which threatened or retaliated against me if I broke sacred cultural norms and internal props that had been set up within me perpetuating and regulating the culture’s continuance. Racial and other forms of discrimination, stereotyping, trends, news media all of these things are arms of the traveling culture, which is basically like an imprint from outside that forms inside of people as it influences and dictates behavior, thought & action.

And yet within myself, I do feel something rising that I would call my innate blueprint – whether from my physical genes or from my soul. It is the thing which I have been following all of these years- following past the gates of popular culture into a realm of individual arising. Sometimes I call it my soul-path, but, and this is the interesting part, even though I am following something from within, as I follow it, I find other people who are also following something from inside themselves and we seem to be on the similar paths.

This is a contingent of people who have earth-values, who see the things of the earth as inherently valuable and see past the façade of the mainstream dominator culture, which often exploits and neglects the earth. Mainstream values hold no sway over this contingent and it is with these people who come in all shapes & sizes & colors & professions that I feel an innate sense of tribe, of togetherness, of natural joining. If humans do have an innate genetic blueprint, I would name it as this: that we are all naturally indigenous (of a place) and that our innate desire is to care for this place, to tend it, be creative within it and to form community. That we desire what is good together and what is good for all of us, rather than searching for individual gain. That we care about the state of the earth, that there are wild lands and lands that are cultivated by humans so that we can have what we need. It is shaped inherently by an ethic of care and perpetuated and shaped by place-ness.

It’s curious to me that people of the earth can be so blind and, if not blind, still perpetuating actions which cause so much harm. I understand the cycle is hard to step out of, but it still surprises, shocks, angers, saddens me that this is the case. On this little piece of earth that I’ve recently joined here in the Appalachian mountains, as I till the soil and plant seeds and drink from pure creek, I feel a sense of peace in my own action, yet I still wonder at the rest of the earth, at the world and where it’s headed. And this leads me to think of our natural inclinations. Is culture the dominating force and, if so, how can we help each other shift it along when ideas and ways of being tend to be the things most heavily “set in their ways”? It’s imperative that we start caring for water & air & reducing our consumption while creatively interacting with each other and our environments. How do you see our innate characteristics? What, if anything, is our genetic blueprint pointing us toward?

an old poem written in the month of may years ago : on forgiveness

Forgive

For to give
Is
For tu nate

A natal disposition
Tuning into mission

And for giving
One
Self
Today

 so for tunes
One
To dance 

Writing from the heart is one of those things
When writing from the heart I don’t give a fuck what you think
There’s no outside seeking
when birthed from an inner feeling
when truth speaks there’s no need
for sideline squeaks
the girls got it in her back pocket
releasing all like a rocket
about to take off
ya heard
here’s the word straight from the source
be done with fear

forgive all

dance in the joyous celebration of life

throw off those fetters like you know how to

cast fear far from you

and chuckle like your brains melting from the heat of the center of the universe

don’t listen to anything I say

stop right now and go into your inner array

that’s the only way

to know