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Communing with plants in the abundance of harvest

Gratitude to plants.

This is not a wafty, throwaway praise. This is an embodied knowing, a deeply felt thank you for the living, growing, seeding, podding, storing and shitting of plants. For their many giving parts.

Whether plants are in their own autonomy, in relationship with measureless earth others, or requiring peoples’ union to thrive, plants embody the feminine divine. Mother Country is the vessel in which all things are brewed, hotly or coldly, and plants are often the very fibres that enable the alchemy of such fermentations throughout life, into death and back across into life.

They are encasements of nourishment, wisdom holders, inebriation agents and great revealers.

But so much plant living has been violated by industrial food, energy and medicine capitalisms. Plants have been incarcerated, mined and used as gratuitous commodities. When welded to the dominant culture we devour them, we’re never fully satisfied, never fully full. Why? Is it our relationship with plants has radically changed under the spell and ideology of modernity’s project?

We have never had more food available to us in our short time as a species, but is it in this glut that gluttony occurs? That we are unfulfilled?

So many of the capitalisms that exploit plants are greenwashing capitalisms. Biofuels are the obvious example, but almost all uses of plants are a form of enslavement, within the machine of hypertechnocivility.

Domesticating plants, it has long been said, is the story of our own domestication. This is not always the same story as the process of becoming hypertechnocivil – that is, so industrialised to think we are the only species worth feeding – our food automated and chugged into cities, from where anthropocentrism powers over all life.

However, if we open to the ritual possibilities, the medicinal, magical and teaching properties of plants, can we call on our more expansive selves – the broader, mythological, transformative and cosmological potentialities of our selves – to take hold in our daily actions and processes?

This, we’ve found, is more possible when our foods, energies and medicines come from the gentle labours of our creaturely bodies. When we are ecological participants in loved biomes. When we are creatures of place. A loved homeplace.

When we walk for the plant gifts that make our lives possible, we cannot but step into the magical and divine realms of plants. From such a place both abundance and gratitude flow. We, people, can once again co-union with plants. It is deep in our cultural DNA that we live this way. It is lifemaking connected to ancestors. It refuses the severings of modernity.

Highly cultivated plants such as grapes thrive in conditions where people yearly prune their radical vines. In turn people thrive by eating the fruits created by the goddess herself.

Borlotti beans don’t need highly cultivated soil as they fix nitrogen in the earth and bring fertility to any earthly biome. Their colours delight us in the sun, under which we dry them to store for winter fuel.

Basil loves the full brunt of summer’s heat – a powerful herb and food medicine destined for almond pesto.

Ella, one of this week’s volunteers at Tree Elbow, communes with prune plums. We all delight in this prunus variety, also destined to be dried for winter’s cellaring and eating.

Volunteer Beau works alongside Blackwood with spelt from Burrum Biodynamics to alchemise this old grain into pasta to join the almond basil pesto for dinner.

Patrick sets up a tree net to catch acorns for their harvesting, thus stopping the midnight clang of hard little nuts landing on the water tank and waking the underworlders sleeping nearby.

Blackwood demonstrates his method of acorn shelling to his family and volunteers, using a nut cracker. Acorn meal will be used with spelt for winter pancakes and for the brewing of Patrick’s acorn beer (a recipe which can be found at the end of his re:)Fermenting culture book).

It has been a week of communing with plants, glowing in the gratitude of abundance, and savouring this time of harvest with volunteers and visitors, including Jess from Canada, who like Beau and Ella brought a joyful spirit to Tree Elbow.

The week finished with Wild Fennel – our local herbal medicine circle led by local witches, Catie and Zoe. Their beautifully facilitated plant medicine circle elegantly brought us all into deeper presence with the holy Tulsi, while we were warmed by the equinox fire in the garden at Tree Elbow.

A special thank you to Jordan for the pic of the plant circle, Catie and Zoe for the love and for the crafting back of the peoples’ medicine, and to Beau and Ella for your loving attention and joyous labours this week as SWAPs.

If you’d like to listen to a conversation between Catie and Patrick, tune into this episode of Reskillience.

We look forward to hearing from you which plant or plants you are present to right now. What herbal teas or medicine plant foods are you most grateful for? What is your latest herbal/harvest discovery?

In honour of Meg ‘Magpie’ Ulman

We gathered a few days ago to celebrate Meg’s 50th orbit around the sun, neopeasant village style.

As individuals or in small groups we spoke our praise of Magpie in heartfelt words and song, including ‘Clearing the inbox’ to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, created and performed by Meg’s frolleagues (friend-colleagues) at Melliodora – David, Ostii, Catie, Beck and Su.

We ate nourishing, potluck, home-tended/crafted food while we kept warm by the fire.

There were also many potluck poems, stories, and honourings shared into the night, including by Ruth,

and Trace,

and Maya,

who, like Catie, shared gratitude and love in a hand drawn card. Did you notice Catie’s worm font?!

Thanks Kim and Jordan for taking these pics, especially this one Kim, capturing Magpie in her nest of love ones.

We each expressed our love uniquely for Magpie, who’d returned that morning from three days and nights fasting and listening in the nearby forest by herself. While she was away, Patrick wove a love poem as long as Meg is tall, attempting to portray a little of her love- and lifemaking adventures, and their shared collaborations. (9min listen)

 

Four things about this recording: Firstly, if you haven’t heard of The Decameron referred to in this piece, you might want to get to know it, if only for the horny monks and nuns in 14th century plagued Europe. Secondly, Patrick’s piece ends with a recorder solo performed by Meg, which is situated towards the end of a newish Artist as Family song called Fish, which we’re still working on. Thirdly, in the piece, Patrick is referring to a virologist in Beijing called Dr Song, who he has been corresponding with. Maybe more on that in a future post. Fourthly, here is the bunny merkin-sporran Patrick made for Meg as an accompanying gift with his poem, which is mentioned (indirectly) in the piece.

Now, back to this Neopeasant Queen (née Jewish Princess).

Another piece delivered on the night was written by our old friend Pete O’Mara, who was MC for the night and who’d predicted Meg and Patrick’s suitability even before they’d met, 18 years ago, when Meg was just new to Djaara Country.

Thank you for the warmth and radiance you bring to life, Meg. You are a lit and giving hearth in the rebuilding of our village, and your love reverberates out into the living of the world.