My Friends are Green
If one has a friend, what need has one of medicines?
More and more people are going back to using herbs for medicine. But is that back far enough? What if, to really heal, we need to go further, back to when healing with plants wasn’t just about “using” them?
Most of us only want plants for their bodies. If you use people, however, you don’t make many friends. What if friendship is what really heals?
It is ironic that the demand for chaga is due to a growing interest in “natural healing.” However, this is the antithesis of what natural healing is really about! Natural healing is about cultivating more balanced and harmonious relationships with ourselves and the world we live in. There is nothing balanced or harmonious about the consumerism driven and disrespectful way that chaga is being torn from the landscape.This is something that many people still don’t get. Our lack of health in body, heart, mind and spirit is largely due to how we interact with the world. We live in a society that is way out of balance, and as long as we continue to perpetuate the unsustainable paradigm that underlies the status quo, we will never really be healthy!
One of the many fallacies of the current Western world view is that we are individuals. It’s all about me! It’s OK to rape the ecosystem to provide me with what I want. In truth, there are no individuals. Our life depends on the life of our Earth Mother and all of the beings that we share this life with. Everything we do affects everything else and will inevitably come back to bite us if it isn’t done with respect and wisdom.
Michael Vertolli, “Chaga and the Wild Harvesting Dilemma”
It’s said that illness ultimately stems from disconnection. In other words, all sickness is lovesickness. And neither medicine, money, or sex is the cure. Screw a business associate and you might get paid. Screw an acquaintance and you might get laid. Eat a plant or animal and you might feed your body. You’ll still die of starvation — of your soul.
Not every culture thinks consciousness only comes with two eyes and legs. The idea that plants have no spirit, no feelings, and no ability to communicate might make our use of them seem less violent. After all, the word forage means “to pillage.” But for that convenience, we pay the ultimate price. Beneath our diseases of civilization lies the pain of isolation that this individualism breeds: the superficial relationships, the idea that we are alone this world. And that is ultimately what is slowly killing us.
“We can talk,” said the Tiger-lily: “when there’s anybody worth talking to.”
Alice was so astonished that she could not speak for a minute: it quite seemed to take her breath away. At length, as the Tiger-lily only went on waving about, Alice spoke again, in a timid voice– almost in a whisper. “And can all the flowers talk?”
“As well as you can,” said the Tiger-lily. “And a great deal louder.”
“It isn’t manners for us to begin, you know,” said the Rose, “and I really was wondering when you’d speak.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
The question is not whether plants are sentient, it’s whether we are. The world is like an iceberg: most of it is invisible. To think consciousness is contained in the body is like thinking there’s intelligence in a radio. The body is just a receiver. The same is true of a plant or mushroom. Don’t just “talk to the hand.”
Regardless of how conscious you consider plants to be, you can still regain relationship with the natural world, the panacea that kept our predecessors sane and healthy. It’s time to meet the neighbors!
To be clear, the issue is not whether or not you eat other living beings. We don’t have a choice about that. Since most of us no longer slaughter the beings we eat, this may sound strange, but being friends with someone doesn’t mean you don’t eat them. In fact, it may very well hurt them (the health of the system, that is) if you don’t.
In Chippewa tradition, it’s impolite to visit someone without eating: that is, without letting them feed you. The same goes for plants and even animals. Like it or not, the world runs on predation. It’s not whether but how. It’s time to eat the neighbors!
The word health means “wholeness.” The word eco means “house.” In order to be healthy, we have to realize that we ARE the earth. We’re not just renters; we’re the HOUSE. It’s this recognition of unity that will make or break us.
What would a mass society look like if it saw nature not as an object of domination and a source of resources but as a sacred mother, intelligent and alive? What would development look like if traditional worldviews were seen not as relics of a superstitious past to be transcended but as carriers of vital information about how to live on this planet? What would technology look like conceived as a servant of nature’s healing from the last five thousand years of damage?
Charles Eisenstein, “Development in the Ecological Age”
To heal yourself, know thyself. Know that every thing is sacred. For the key to wholeness is gratitude, and the doorway is love.