Musings: SOS — Save Our Soil!
If you want to learn more about nature, bring a child into your life. My 18-month-old granddaughter, Bella, loves nothing more than walking outside, exploring sticks, stones and plants, and sifting dirt through her fingers. A gardener myself, I was amused to discover how quickly I rushed to keep the dirt off her hands and clothes, until I realized what an asset her love for soil would be. So I taught her to brush off her hands and keep the dirt out of her mouth, then let her spend all the time she wanted in my fall garden, sitting down and playing in the earth, and walking circles around the bushy parsley plants and Brussels sprouts taller than she was. In winter, we bundled up and enjoyed even more time meandering outdoors as her walking skills increased.
It was during these strolls that I finally noticed the difference between being and doing in nature. As an ambitious, goal-oriented person, accomplishment of the next task is never far from my mind. Yet, when walking with Bella, the goal is simply to be outside. I get to smell the air, see the plants, hear the birds and feel the mosaic of textures beneath my feet, all while watching this little being discover natural wonders for the first time over and over.
Naturalist David Santillo describes this as waking up your nature awareness and writes this issue about ten simple ways to raise your outdoor attentiveness and appreciation. Start by slowing down and not rushing the time you spend outside. “Then make like a rock and do nothing. Successfully do nothing in nature and you will quickly realize that there is never nothing going on in nature.”
Of course, much more than simply a source of wonderment, Earth is the living matrix we depend on for survival. All our food, water, air and life-sustaining sunshine arise from nature, as well as all the raw materials for our goods, housing and medicine. Without Earth to provide for us, we perish; yet somehow we live completely disconnected from this truth as we dump trash all over the planet and extract natural resources into oblivion, seemingly unaware of the damage and imbalance we inflict. A friend sent me cartoons about evolution. Two depicted our evolution as creatures crawling out of the ocean and morphing into humans dumping hazardous waste into the very same water we came from. What an ignorant legacy!
For most of us, modernization has brought 95% of our living and working activities indoors, so we have lost our day-to-day touch with Earth as a living, breathing being who responds, feels, gives and takes. In the 1930’s, 25% of America’s population lived on 6 million small farms, working the land daily. That number has since dropped to about 2% of the population living on 2 million farms, the majority of which are large agribusinesses growing commodity crops. Except in cities, walking is no longer a common form of transportation, and even our children have stopped playing outside, spending their free time indoors instead, attached to electronic devices. We are seriously nature deprived.
Getting down to earth is key to our survival on Earth. The very thing some mothers slapped our hands away from, refusing to let us get dirty or sit upon, actually sustains all life on the planet. Not only does most of our food grow in soil, but much of the massive workload of daily decomposition on the planet requires soil, without which, Earth would be overrun with carcasses in days!
Soil also supports the amazing world of fungi, including mushrooms, those healing and detoxifying superpowers whose secrets we’ve only barely begun to tap, as acupuncturist Marie Cargill points out in “A History of Medicinal Mushrooms” this issue. The poisoning of our soil worldwide with heavy doses of GMO pesticides and nutrient-depleting but profitable mono-cropping practices is a risky gamble we take with a resource as vital as our soil. It could take generations or even centuries to reverse soil damage, or in the case of GMOs, permanent and irreversible changes could result from tinkering with intelligences far beyond our own understanding and ability to control. Protecting our soil with organic farming practices is more important now than ever. SOS — save our soil!
Ironically, getting down and dirty is also the gateway for accessing the more etheric realms of vibrational medicine. The deeper your Earth connection, the healthier your natural vibration becomes. Throughout most of history, humans have had continuous contact with Earth through walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground. Grounding, also called earthing, involves putting your feet in direct contact with Earth through dirt, grass, stones, water, sand, trees, etc, where your body can harmonize with Earth’s negative electrical potential. Your immune system functions best with a healthy supply of electrons, which are absorbed by this barefoot contact. The more humans that are plugged into nature every second of the day, the more natural intelligence we are guided by, and the more likely to be evolving in a healthy way.
Another writer once pointed out to me that using “the” before the word “Earth” or “earth” objectifies Earth, further numbing our awareness of Earth as a sovereign, living being, just like you and me. “The” is never used before Venus or Mars in a sentence, so why do we do this to Earth? Lower case earth refers to soil, ground, dirt. If you’re talking about the planet in any way, shape or form, it’s Earth.
Language transmits powerful energy that shapes cultural attitudes and behavior. In “Stopping the Age of Extinction,” author Robin Wall Kimmerer proposes that we adopt new pronouns “ki” and “kin” to refer to all living beings of Earth. “When we speak of Sugar Maple, we say, ‘Oh that beautiful tree, ki is giving us sap again this spring.’ And for a plural pronoun, on a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter.’” These simple but beautiful words remind us of our kinship in the family of life with these beings. They bring everything back down to the humble majesty of earth.
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change holistic magazine. www.spiritofchange.org.
Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Soil
Musings: It’s Time For a Return to Plant Wisdom