The etymology of the word “apocalypse” means ‘to uncover and reveal.’ It is a revelation. And at this moment in time our society is facing the revelation of multiple imminent truths.
We are, right now, being given the opportunity to see a more complete view of what is behind the narrative of the dominant reality created by our current civilization and, in this sense, it is a time of great expansion.
It is also our chance to uncover the less known, but still living and thriving often on long held ancestral wisdoms, subcultures as well as those ancient, sacred cultures we have lost. And it is a chance to intentionally create a new world with what is good from the past and the compost of all that is now being deconstructed.
I don't prefer the Anthropocene or the Sociopocene. My favorite word for these times is the Chthulucene. A term coined by Donna Haraway in her book "Staying with the Trouble." Both Anthropocene and Sociopocene are too fatalistic for me, not that I don't enjoy being fatalistic when there are creative possibilities in doing so. But both the above terms feel like dead ends or boxes that deny the multidimensional, multi-origins, and infinite potential of the universe, including the potential that the beauty of humanity can be cultivated.
The ancient oracles were the priestesses and mystics that served their community by entering trance states to communicate with the gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome as well as many other regions in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. They had many names but often held the titles of “Sibyl” and “Pythia.”
This June I’ll be taking a return pilgrimage to my ancestral homeland of Italy. I am currently preparing for it by spending time in deep study and listening with my family lineage and ancestry. My grandparents were Italian immigrants and my relationship with them has had a profound impact on the shaping of who I am. I grew up in an immigrant and refugee community in the city of Utica, NY.
My time spent working with the people, plants, and their relationship has led me far beyond the first few steps I took with my plant ID books into the fields and forests. This is because plants are like that. And nature is like that.
They invite us into a system, a network, a community, or more accurately, they make us aware that we’re already in one.
This sounds so easy but for much of my life inhaling and exhaling came to me with great difficulty. I had severe asthma as a child that followed me up through adulthood. I relied on inhalers and antihistamines to keep breathing and suffered several lung infections every year.
To deepen my own study of plants and as a method of teaching students I have begun using a Planthenge. This is just a simple model that was inspired by the geometric layout of Stonehenge and the many other sacred stone circles of Celtic Europe, Carl Jung’s model of mandala consciousness, and Paul Bergner’s 4 directions model of studying plants.
The wheel of the year is turning once again and the season of Fall is beginning her gentle emersion with first few leaves descending toward the turning Earth. There is a new chill wafting on the morning air and the Canada Geese have us in their flight path as they embark on this year’s journey South. These signs and more tell us that the times they are a-changing. Many of us, including myself, experience seasonal allergies in the late summer and early Fall that will continue until the first hard, killing frost.
“Make sure and add some basilico!” Was a common phrase in the kitchen on Sunday at my grandparent’s house when I was growing up. Basilico is the Italian word for Basil. Whenever someone came to visit in the summer they would ask, “How’s your garden this year?” This meant, “Give me a garden tour so I can make sure you’ve planted your tomatoes and to see if they look as good as mine.”
The character, actions, and qualities of plants are not merely causal but are also relational. and learning about a plant with only the intention of knowing what it’s “used for” or what it’s clinical applications are allows us just to know one or two sides or angles of it’s full spectrum of being.