From Foe to Friend

“Living wild species are like a library of books still unread. Our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning the library without ever having read its books.”

~John Dingell

I love this time of year, watching the Plants reemerge is magical.  Somehow, every year I forget how beautiful Bloodroot or Trout Lily are.  And I forget what it feels like to seemingly be bathed in purple as the Phlox and Bluebells emerge.  I delight when I see the Plants growing and see where they have moved and expanded or changed.  (Well, except for Grass, I do have a hard time with this Plant.  I am trying to work on my relationship.)  Recently, I discovered a new Poison Ivy or Sister Protectress patch growing near the road.  I was so excited, I ran in to get my camera.  I thanked ki.  (I know that Sister Protectress is adding another layer of protection around the Sanctuary.)  This is also the time of year that I see posts about the dangerous invasive Plants and how we need to eradicate them, such as Garlic Mustard.

The truth is I love Garlic Mustard (and I don’t actually eat this Plant).  To me Garlic Mustard is joyful and beautiful.  Last year, one of my beloved students was chosen by Garlic Mustard during the first weekend of HEARTransformation Apprenticeship.  She did not know anything about this Plant.  It was so wonderful to see someone looking at Garlic Mustard without preconceived notions, such as invasive or alien.  I wonder how different our relationships would be if we could keep our innocent perception when we meet someone new (human and non-human).

I do understand the thinking about “protecting” from invasive Plants.  Though, I feel this is a fear response for we want to believe that everything should stay the same.  We like to think that evolution ended before Darwin.  The truth is that evolution continues and has actually sped up.  And humans are part of the Landscape, we have always helped Plants travel.  It is my experience that so called invasive Plants appear for a reason.  Perhaps they are there to help teach us how to be good stewards or perhaps they are there because the Land needs them.  Or perhaps because humans need them.  Or perhaps some other reason we can not even imagine.

What I do know is that assuming we know what is right and pulling the invaders without asking the Plants or the Land continues the domination paradigm.  This is why I feel that if we want to be good stewards and really stand in our role as part of Nature, it is imperative that we learn how to communicate with Nature.

I have worked with many people who practice Permaculture or similar practices.  They do tend to spend much time observing (which is part of communication) and studying theories.  However, often they do not actually ask and connect.  Despite their best efforts and desire to be good stewards, they continue to work with the Land from a human framework.  Of course, we are humans so we will always have a human filter.  The idea of learning how to communicate with Nature is that we greatly reduce that filter.

Once we are able to communicate with Nature, we are able to move into co-creative partnership and that is how we become good stewards.  The Plants have lived on this Earth for much longer than humans.  They have lived through several major climate changes.  They are great adaptors.  They know how to live in community.  They can show us how to work with Nature so that all Beings can thrive, including ourselves.

Pam Montgomery refers to Plant communication as our birthright.  And this is true, we all innately know how to do this, though often we have been conditioned to think this is impossible or only for special people.  I often hear stories from people who say they talked with Plants or Faeries or Animals when they were little.  These were some of their best friends and somewhere along the way they stopped.  They miss that magic and continue to search for it.  My point is that this is something EVERYONE can do.  You may already know how.  Sometimes, we need some tricks or guidance to help.  I tell my students that my job is to help remove the conditioning and remind them of what they already know (or gnow).

If you want support, I am offering a couple opportunities this Summer.  One is a short Introduction to Plant Communication at the Horn Farm in York, PA and the other is a weekend long immersion into Plant Communication where you connect with your Plant Ally and experience many different forms of communication.  This is held at Heart Springs Sanctuary in Washington Boro, PA.  For those of you who want to focus on healing your separation of Nature and moving into co-creative partnership, the Organization of Nature Evolutionaries is offering a very special opportunity at Sweetwater Sanctuary in Danby, VT.  I am excited to co-lead this adventure with Pam Montgomery and Lauren Valle.  Sweetwater is one of my favorite places.  Every time I arrive there, as soon as the car door opens, I know that I am Home and I have to kiss the Earth with gratitude.

My dream is that everyone remembers how to communicate with Nature so that when we make decisions from where to build something to what Plants to plant to extracting resources, we can consult with Nature and determine what is the best for all Beings.  Some people are fearful about this possibility thinking that we won’t be able to do anything including eat.  However, I have found Nature to be incredibly generous (and forgiving) and usually when we work with ki, what we create is easier and more successful.

I do invite you before pulling out that “invasive” Plant, to ask first if this is the best interest of the Earth or that particular area.  Or ask why is this Plant there, what is ki offering?  And mostly, I invite you into this beautiful, magical world of Plants.