Involved in ancient things, the plant takes a while to awaken to your presence. But you stay with it, asking for help, for its acquiescence in coming with you as medicine... You feel yourself then looking at some ancient being, find yourself in some ancient story whose telling began long ago.
—From "Collecting Skunk Cabbage," Secret Teachings of Plants in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner
During our recent Geography of Hope Conference on Ancestors and the Land, many of the participants and presenters shared powerful personal stories of their family's relationship to the land. Over the next year, Black Mountain Circle will continue to explore this theme in a deeper way through a series of events. Some of the 2017 Geography of Hope presenters will return for day-long "circles" on the subjects of their stories. We'll also hold seasonal gatherings where we will continue to share our own personal stories in response to questions explored by noted storytellers.
This summer we will begin with a question about plants and ancestors: What plant holds significance in your ancestry? Is there a plant that was special, necessary, or important to one of your ancestors? Is there one plant in that you consider important in your life?
We encourage you to give these questions some thought and, if so inspired, share your story with us. For example, Steve's grandfather, Frank, held kale as the primary contributor to his long life of 91 years old. Kate's grandmother, Sarah, loved palm trees...which symbolized the new life she created when she moved her three children from Winnipeg to California after her husband died.
In further exploration of the important relationship between plants and people, Black Mountain Circle will host a gathering July 16 at Commonweal's Medicinal Garden in Bolinas to encourage participants to share their stories and to learn how native peoples and ancestors all over the world used herbal remedies and other plant-based treatments. Led by Edward (Redbird) Willie with help from Kyra Epstein.
Looking further at plants and people, Wendy Johnson and Arron Wilder will lead a day-long retreat on Arron's farm in Point Reyes July 30 (more information coming soon).
Steve Costa and Kate Levinson