This is a recent post made by my student and friend Lydia. She attended a "root birthing" with me this autumn and received an experience that I could never have found the words to teach to her. In all of the great wisdom I've gained from my human teachers and all that I've attempted to share, there is never any more adequate way to transmit the essence that occurs between human, plant, and the act of gathering. It must be felt to be learned and really it's what we're doing it for. Sure, the medicinal properties of Burdock Root are important and the "how-to" of digging and preparing and admistering it are much needed information, but, from my view, that is the lure.
The things that the plants can do for us, their healing gifts, their medicine. This is how we're led. A wise woman I knew told me this about a conversation between Siddha yoga guru Baba Muktananda and an attendee at his ashram;
A man once asked Baba
"Is it ok that I came here, partly, to meet a woman? Is this the wrong reason? I'm feeling guilty, my intentions weren't pure, should I leave?" And Baba said, "God doesn't care why you come. What's important is that you do and God will do the rest."
Once we step into it. Start the dig. The information is generated as an effect of the exchange and is multidimensional and so difficult to express in language, although what Lydia has shared here conveys that she met with this sympoeitic space between plant and human on this day when, from all apperances, we were merely digging Budock root.
Sympoeisis is derived from the ancient Greek σύν or sún: together, and ποίησις or poíēsis: creation or production; creating together, making-with, in contrast but not opposed to autopoiesis or self-creating or producing. Autopoiesis in this sense arises from the sympoietic exchange and evolution with self-creation or self-agency occurring or materializing as a part of sympoeisis. As Donna Haraway explains in her book,“Staying With The Trouble”, “Sympoiesis enfolds autopoiesis and generatively unfurls and extends it.” Sympoiesis was first termed by M. Beth Dempster in her 1998 master’s thesis in Environmental Studies and Planning at the University of Waterloo who defined it as “Sympoietic (collectively-producing) systems do not have self- defined spatial or temporal boundaries. Information and control are distributed among components. The systems are evolutionary and have the potential for surprising change. Since they cannot be identified by boundaries, sympoietic systems must be identified by the self- organizing factors involved in their generation.”
Herbalism is sympoetic. Plant medicine is sympoetic. Gaia is sympoetic.
Words from Lydia:
"Last week was my first experience harvesting Burdock root. During the first dig, the burdock root broke from misusing the shovel. Prior to my second attempt, teacher Lisa shared wisdom of the caring craft of this particular harvest. We identified mother Burdock from the children (from which we 'birthed'), then a circle/square was designed around the stem(s) and leaf of 1st growth Burdock and, finally, we began the full compassionate dig.
Mindfulness is important when utilizing a tool such as a shovel. When pulling back, the shovel-head has great potential to break the root, however, when pushing forward it allows for the soil to loosen which then should provide protection of the root!
Once established, let the tedious patient work commence.
(Could this be plant/root/earth spirit magick?)
With intermittent uses of hands and shovel, working cool Earth, and tickling gnomes, we managed to achieve to the end (or the beginning) of the root.
After a successful responsible harvest, we continued the ending process of triple washing and scrubbing of roots in cool water, then chopping and into solvent for tincture.
Though the majority of the process required patience with the tedious, i found myself feeling fulfilled, rewarded and gained more respect for plants/herbs and learned more about the responsibilities of being human.
Currently, im undergoing root work and as much as i'd like to enhance the pace of healing, the work has efficacy when not rushed. Beauty and potentially good things are associated with the art of patience. "We dig down into deep dark to rise up." "All we need is a little patience"- Guns N Roses"
To follow Lydia and her work as an herbalist, root digger, and champion hemp actvitist on Intsagram: @hempnoesis