Earth wisdom

The nuances observed by specialised vocabularies are evaporating from common usage, burnt off by capital, apathy and urbanisation. The terrain beyond the city fringe has become progressively more understood in terms of large generic units (‘field,’ ‘hill,’ ‘valley,’ ‘wood’). It has become a blandscape.*
Robert Macfarlane

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.**

The thousands of old words in Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks
come from noticing,
People noticing the variety and subtleties of their world and
creating words for these, words for:
weather, water, holes in the ground, rocks, trees, frosts …
Gathered and listed by Macfarlane as lands –
Listing because we are forgetting,
Forgetting because we are disconnecting;
Forgetting our ancient mother, as the psalm proffers, and
disconnecting from or forgetting ourselves as a result.
Macfarlane is helping me to remember, as is
Robin Wall Kimmerer, from
her own experiences as a Native American, who shares with me today
how the guidelines of the Honourable Harvest –
Including ‘Never take the first, never take the last,’
Take only what you need,’
‘Never take more than half’ – are not written down or even
spoken often, but are
reinforced in small acts of daily life.^
I cannot hope to be as knowledgeable as Macfarlane who
walks back and forth through landscapes, or to be as traditioned and heritaged as Wall Kimmerer,
But I will keep reading to learn, I will
stop to notice a sunrise or sunset, I will look for the first
flowers of Spring, and be alert to the scents of nature as the year warms up,
I will notice the waves along a shore, walk transfixed by the
majesty of trees, be deeply moved by the sway of
a grass meadow, trying to remember in many small ways
I am the earth and the earth is me.

We don’t have to figure out everything by ourselves: there are intelligences other than our own teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world could be.^

*Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks;
**Psalm 138:15,16;
^Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.

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