Boundaries of Ecology through the lens of Chicory.
There is much to sit and learn from these cycles of nature. We can perhaps view the Earth as one big living mirror, reflecting the mists of the mountains with the fog that can distort our vision. Rivers flow in the same direction towards vast oceans nourishing the land and sustaining flora and fauna. Our blood flowing through our veins with the beat of the heart, supporting us to awaken from our slumber.
Every time a tree falls to the Earth at the hands of humanity, another persons’ breath is affected..another creature finds its self homeless.
Many months ago, my Chicory plants were flowering in abundance, rambling wild across my garden path. Like a mythic creature, silently creeping its way around the ankles of those who pass by. I sat in amongst the tendrils of Chicory while the Bee’s collected the white pollen. Becoming a witness to the exchange of life between the two. Sharing space with their energy fields.
Then, I heard the voice of a Chicory flower.. a story of personal boundaries and how we as humanity have not respected the relationships of Ecology.
To some hearing the voices of plants may seems crazy… but as time goes on this will become a practice that is part of daily living. Our ancestors had a deep reverence and connection to the natural world and although they may not of actively heard the voices, the thread of inner knowing was strong. They lived in an animistic way- understanding that ALL things in nature were alive. They understood that if something was removed in nature, there would be a consequence of their actions. Somewhere along the way, this thread of inner knowing and kinship was lost. Today, some of us are trying to reclaim what was lost, and others are still caught in the spiral of disconnection and separation.
Looking at boundaries through a Druidic lens with the teachings of a Chicory flower in mind, I’d like to address something called a “nemeton”.
“The word "Nemeton" is related to Nemetona, the Celtic goddess of sacred groves. In other words, a nemeton is a sacred place located at a grove in a forest.” As I look deeper into this meaning of sacred space, a Nemeton is more that belonging to a place. It extends and touches everything and every person.
It’s a similar concept to the aura or energetic field, prana, chi, ki or mana , but the Nemeton is a different aspect again.
“There is a lot of cross-over between the concepts of the nemeton and the aura of a living thing, not least that they literally overlay each other. The purpose of the nemeton is something we are only beginning to get to grips with. What we have found so far is that it seems to be related to inter-connectedness. It seems to be the field that defines the region or sphere of influence that a living entity generates. This field of inter-connectedness can be opened or closed (softened or firmed up) to permit or block a connection with other nemeton fields (of which there are many inter-lacing fields from all living entities). When a connection is made then emotion, meaning and intent can be shared between co-operative entities, such as between a human and a tree. The overlapping of the respective nemeton fields provides the connection between the two, and permits the transport of “vibes”, intuitive thought patterns and imagery.” -Hedge Druid.
With this perspective of the Nemeton, sacred space is all around us. It surrounds the stones, the openness of deserts, the tribe of forests and the perimeters of human beings and animals. It creates a channel for the wind, it greets the sun with unity at the birth of each day and it welcomes the percussion of thunder as it clears the air.
Over time, the ideas of what is sacred and how we approach the sacred has been disrespected. This may not be intentional, but too many unintentional actions do have reactions. If we approach someone we don’t know with aggression, excitement or with a disrespect towards their personal space, what does the reaction look like? What does it feel like? Generally, the person on the receiving end, will take a step back and their guard goes up immediately. Their personal boundary has been crossed and their nemeton pierced. The same example can be used for a grove of trees that have been taken down to make way for a new road. Chainsaws painfully taking off limbs, as chemical distress signals are passed through the trees roots and canopies as they are under attack. Their natural defence mechanism a last attempt to survive.. only what hope do they have against a wild man wielding a chainsaw? Nemetons, sacred spaces being violated.
This theory extends to the greater web of life. As Seathl ( Chief Seattle ) a Susquamish chief wrote in 1854 “Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.”
The rate at which humanity is destroying the natural balance of nature is alarming. This conversation and concern has been sweeping across populations for many years. First Nations people have walked this earth in love and respect with a deep reverence for their mother for thousands of years. What they have had to endure at the hands of colonisers is horrendous and we must begin to walk the path of healing. Sacred places, spaces and ways have been deeply disrespected. From a spiritual and animistic perspective, Mother nature is hurting, her children are suffering. Personal boundaries have been trampled and covered in our own ignorance and self importance. This is not sustainable and it does not align with compassion, care, kindness and respect.
The arrival of coronavirus has shaken the world to its core. There have been devastating consequences that have affected people, mentally, physically and emotionally. Many theories have been floating around, many not helpful at all, and many are creating even more fear within society. Coming together, in love, support and unity is what is needed. Turning to the embrace of a gentle river flowing, can soothe a worried heart. But somewhere in amongst all of this, we as a collective must stop and look at our relationship with one another and re kindle our connection to the natural world. Walking in stewardship with the land and all those who depend upon it. Honouring the sacred spaces that dwells within EVERYTHING, caring for the Nemetons of others. It does require action.
Standing 1.5 metres apart from one another gives us an opportunity to respect the boundaries of others from a different perspective. It’s a metaphor.. one that Spirit has offered us… How do we respect the boundaries of Mother Nature? By giving a tree, a person, an animal, a place this space, indicates, I see you, I feel you, I respect you and I am listening. Then, we can hold each other so tight, nothing but love being the exchange. I look forward to the time when family can reunite and the days when humanity can stand together and say… “ Look where we are standing… and isn’t it beautiful.”
One last reading written by Peter Whollenben- The Hidden life of Trees.
“When trees grow together, nutrients and water can be optimally divided among them all so that each tree can grow into the best tree it can be. If you "help" individual trees by getting rid of their supposed competition, the remaining trees are bereft. They send messages out to their neighbors in vain, because nothing remains but stumps. Every tree now muddles along on its own, giving rise to great differences in productivity. Some individuals photosynthesize like mad until sugar positively bubbles along their trunk. As a result, they are fit and grow better, but they aren't particularly long-lived. This is because a tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it. And there are now a lot of losers in the forest. Weaker members, who would once have been supported by the stronger ones, suddenly fall behind. Whether the reason for their decline is their location and lack of nutrients, a passing malaise, or genetic makeup, they now fall prey to insects and fungi.
But isn't that how evolution works? you ask. The survival of the fittest? Their well-being depends on their community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well. When that happens, the forest is no longer a single closed unit. Hot sun and swirling winds can now penetrate to the forest floor and disrupt the moist, cool climate. Even strong trees get sick a lot over the course of their lives. When this happens, they depend on their weaker neighbors for support. If they are no longer there, then all it takes is what would once have been a harmless insect attack to seal the fate even of giants.”
With Nature and Love