My hand on a beloved Northern Cedar in my woods…and a seedling.
Excerpt from “My Mother’s Hands”
“Over the course of our history, humans have used nearly thirty thousand plants for food and medicine. Most of these plants grew wild. The places where we first evolved into a gathering species were likely the open patches in dense African forests. In the sunlit gaps within the canopy, left behind by the tramplings of large animals, we gathered useful herbs and palms and berries. To bear witness to nature’s abundance demanded the invention of new languages. In elaborating techniques to process plants and finding words to describe the flavors, we invented culinary incantations. We learned to speak and cook in synthetic form. It was an approach beyond the intellect, and so, the first cuisines had an aesthetic of chance. We felt at home in the dark. It was as if our manifold cultures sprang directly from the earth itself.”
I believe it was more than chance that led women to the healing properties of plants and trees of the forest. I think our learning “sprang directly from the earth”. In my experience trees and plants speak to us not through words but through our bodies and we are naturally drawn to the plants that we need to protect us from disease and to help us heal. The problem we face is that we need to re-learn how to become “receivers,” and we can’t do that until we re-establish our broken connection to the Earth Body we abandoned long ago, unless we were/are Indigenous peoples who even today are wed to the land, and can still hear her speak.