top of page

Episode 5 : The Existence of Gaia Pt 2

 Hello everyone and welcome to the Infinite Harmony Podcast. I’m Your host Jackie Dragon. Today we’ll be continuing the conversation about the Existence of Gaia. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the first episode in the series,  I recommend going back and giving a listen, as we cover some fundamental ideas that set the stage for the conversation today, or if you prefer, just jump on this thread and follow it down the rabbit hole to wonderous world of Gaia.   Today we’ll mostly be looking into the work of Stephen Harrod Buhner and his book, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm.  This book has touched me in    so many different ways. In fact, when I began this podcast, I considered calling it The Golden Thread Podcast but sadly the name was always taken. I had wanted the title to represent my experience with the work of studying philosophy and myth, the following of these threads of knowledge to something beyond knowledge, to the felt sense of harmony with the universe. The idea of The Golden Threads is something that appears in Taoism, more often referred to as a Golden Path. When I read this book again, I re-discovered the chapter “Following the Golden Threads”

It begins with the idea of following a feeling, a feeling of being touched by the universe. The Golden Thread is what touches us. Coined by Poet William Stafford , who was inspired by William Blake, who’s own poem reads…

“I give you the end of a golden string Only wind it into a ball, It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate Built in Jerusalem’s wall.”

The threads of knowledge, that lead to Heaven’s Gate, the place beyond knowledge, beyond knowing. Everything about this book is one of those threads for me, and I can say with certainty, was one of the first books that helped me to understand the view of the Animist, whose work is in the place beyond knowing. The place where the felt sense of being pervades. And today that’s what we’re going to talk about. The sensory experience of life and what it means to be alive. 

Reflecting on the sensory experience of life opens a door to understanding existence in a way that transcends the mere accumulation of knowledge. It's about engaging with the world in its rawest form, feeling its rhythms, and recognizing the interwoven nature of life through sensation. By opening our senses to nature, we experience the world not as a collection of inanimate objects and separate entities, but as a vibrant, living whole. It's a place where we can  experience the aliveness of everything — from the smallest blade of grass to the vast, sprawling forests. This perceptual shift is more profound than its description, and far more difficult to attain than one might think. It marks a departure from the analytical and often detached modes of understanding that dominate much of our interaction with the world.

In exploring the imaginal realm and the intelligence of plants, Buhner invites us to reconsider not only what it means to be alive but also how we define intelligence and consciousness. As we dicussed in the first episode of the series, plants, with their intricate networks of communication and symbiotic relationships, offer a model of existence that is both deeply connected and profoundly communicative. Their silent wisdom speaks to a form of knowledge that is not bound by language or human-centric concepts of cognition. Let us remind ourselves that life expresses itself in a myriad of forms, each with its own way of perceiving and engaging the world. By embracing the animist's work — this feeling beyond knowing — we open ourselves to a more empathetic and compassionate relationship with the natural world. It's a journey towards understanding that to truly know the world, we must feel it, be part of it, and recognize our place within the tapestry of life that envelopes us. This is not just about expanding our intellectual horizons but about deepening our capacity to experience and cherish the mystery and beauty of existence itself.

So for today and only today, welcome to The Golden Threads podcast.

Early on in his book, Buhner shares a story about an experience with his grandfather that stirred something deep inside me. A memory of certain experiences I also had as a child that I had forgotten about, an experience I would ask friends about who would just look at me like I was weird, experiences I dared not ask the adults about a child. Until I read Buhner’s book, I thought I was alone.

  Buhner says “My grandfather was sitting at his desk . . . and I was walking along the hallway, going outside to play, when I caught a glimpse of him and stopped at the door of his room, hesitating tentatively on the threshold. Then, for some reason that day, my internal world quieted in a way I had never before experienced. I became aware of a special quality to the sounds in the room. Silence itself took on a penetrating quiet-sound of its own, like a word filled with deep meaning which has reached out and touched the very foundations of the self. Every tiny noise emerging in that magical silence took on, itself, a special kind of sound, a special kind of meaning. It seemed to me that I could hear, truly hear, for the first time: the creak of the chair, the slight rustling of drapes, the movement of my grandfather’s hands among his papers, his breathing—and the simple, quiet susurrus of my own inhale and exhale. Each sound seemed almost to shimmer and each and every one of them resonated deeply inside me. I felt some kind of communication coming out of those sounds into me."

I had similar experiences as a child, seemingly random, where time would stop for me. I was always alone, and in those moments the silence that Buhner describes would become deafening. A sensation would come over my body as if I were moving through time itself, almost water-like in its viscosity, I would become aware of my heartbeat and aware of my body and existence in a way that was entirely foreign and magical to my everyday life. Suddenly everything had meaning and purpose, and yet I was too young to understand that meaning, but only trust it. Everything felt safe, and alive, and I felt together with the universe. There really was nothing to understand. Everything felt as it should be. These experiences became more and more rare as I grew older and eventually ceased all together.

I recently asked my 18 year old niece if she ever had an experience as a child that felt like an altered state of consciousness, specifically one where time felt different. She too could remember feeling that way. For her, it was almost like the world was reaching out and touching her, a soft pressure on her skin, in addition to the strange lucidity and timelessness that accompanied it. Perhaps you remember such a thing. Perhaps at one point we’ve all experienced it.

Buhner, too, would later discover that he was not alone, quoting experiences written by the already mentioned Stafford, Manual Cordova Rios, Henry David Thoreau, or Albert Hoffman, whom he quotes as saying “As I strolled through the freshly greened woods filled with bird song and lit up by the morning sun, all at once everything appeared in an uncommonly clear light. Was this something I had simply failed to notice before? Was I suddenly discovering the spring forest as it actually looked? It shone with the most beautiful radiance, speaking to the heart, as though it wanted to encompass me in its majesty. I was filled with an indescribable sensation of joy, oneness, and blissful security.”

This story is the beginning of Buhner’s commentary on the social order, of human perception and how it’s become caged within the walls of our contracted senses, of the many faults of reductive science, and on the deep and complex nature of plant and animal intelligence, and of course, on the soul of Gaia herself.

Before Buhner takes his inquiry into the nature of intelligence and perception beyond humans, he first takes us through a process of understanding what happened to our own perception in hope that we can return to the state he so eloquently describes as feeling as if we are a part of a living, breathing, aware, intelligent universe. He illustrates the importance of staying connected to our environment, that in fact, every living organisms has the means to sense and feel and connect to its environment, to take in information about its surrounding and determine how to interact with literally everything around it and can differentiate between itself and what is outside of itself, and hence, has a capacity for self-awareness. A trait that we all to often solely associate with being human. This, he says, is one of the fundamental problems we have as a society. Its why we can clear cut forests and decimate populations of fish and factory farm. Its why we externalize all of our waste and problems upon the environment with little sense of what it does to us as a species. The problem with humans, he says, is that we’ve disconnected ourselves from everything around us. In order re-connect with the sensations of this intelligent universe, he offers an idea that again, took be back to my childhood and brought profound meaning to some of the challenges I’ve faced as a human who now lives in nature. 

See, as some of you know, I’m from Chicago, a city of three plus million people, a city that is constantly moving and makes an awful lot of noise. I grew up in an old two story brick building, and behind me was a three story building with a dozen families and a slum landlord, rampant with barking dogs and domestic battles and televisions blasting war movies all night long. Never mind the sound of the ambulances and helicopters and the constant flow traffic from all the major streets surrounding us. A moment of silence was impossibly rare. Now, how does one sleep in a place like this? Or do homework? Or focus on anything? Well, if you’ve grown up in an urban environment you know the answer. You figure out how to block it all out. Now, if you haven’t grown up in a city, imagine yourself in a busy cafe or restaurant with a friend you haven’t seen in a few years. At best you’ll spend an hour or two focused on your friend, reminiscing about old lovers or good times and laughing and feeling connected. The whole time you’re there, dozens of other conversations are happening, people are slurping their spaghetti and aperol spritzers, waiters are taking orders, and you’re mostly oblivious to all of it. How do we do this? How is it that we live in a world that is bombarding us with sensory information, often louder than anything found in nature, and we’re not just curled up in a ball on the floor trying to make it stop?

This ability we have is what Buhner describes as sensory gating. He writes thoroughly about the science of sensory flow and the chemicals involved, and the roll of the unconscious mind in filtering what is necessary stimulus, which is prioritized first and foremost with information we deem threatening, and stimulus that the brain considers novel. There variability of sensory gating in humans. We have a propensity to look for norms and label what we find outside the norm with hyper and hypo labels like ADHD, but sensory gating and perception is fundamental to our development through the various stages of being a conscious entity. Buhner’s book provides incredibly in depth reasoning, cited information and science behind his research and I recommend reading the book. 

What’s important about Buhner’s sensory gating observation is how it interferes with our relationship to the natural world, and how through the conscious effort of attention,  we can open our senses to the living communication of plants and animals once again, by accessing what he calls the metaphysical background of the world.

I expect we will talk a lot about attention in this podcast, as a superpower of consciousness and one of the most effective ways to develop ourselves as humans. 

Buhner describes three methods or practices of opening the sensory gates to the metaphysical background of the world, all requiring our attention and overriding our habituated templates of perception that we have become used to. The first method involves “Focusing on a specific task that demands greater sensory sensitivity” and here Buhner uses the example of sitting next to a plant and focusing on the all the minutia of its detail, colors, shapes, qualities, and most importantly, how it feels.

Now let’s pause here for a moment. How often have you asked yourself, how does this plant feel? How many times have you attempted to experience the feeling of something that doesn’t seem to be in an emotional state?  The mystical ability of empathy in humans seems simple in comparison. We can see and interpret the emotions of other humans by the way the look, or their actions, and find our nervous systems regulating or empathizing with theirs. We feel them. But a plant? Or a fire hydrant for that matter? 

This ability, to feel mother earth, our planet, to feel the vibrations and essence of all that surrounds us, this is the beginning of developing a deep knowing that our planet is far more than just a mechanistic inanimate structure, or a series of events that happenstance life. This planet is caring for us, all of us. It is alive.

I’m planning to do a series on Architect and Animist Christopher Alexander’s magnum opus “The Nature of Order” in the near future,  but in all honesty, I’m still working my way through it. Alexander is one of the more interesting and esoteric Architects I’ve ever encountered, and in his first book, much like Buhner, he deeply discusses and takes us through a process of looking at inanimate objects and asking how they feel. To Alexander this is the key to building a world worth living in. He accesses the metaphysical background of the built world so that his creations better reflects the true essence of our humanity, and, also like Buhner, Alexander dissuades us from the reductive thinking of efficiency and time preference over a deeper connection to the world we inhabit. He begs us to re-think architecture from the perspective of feeling. Anyone who’s lived in an old city and watched the older brick and grey stone buildings replaced with the clean square paneled monoliths, void of any sense of aesthetic like I have, can relate to this. There are some places that just feel right, old brick in the cold cities of the north, shiplap craftsmen houses on the Atlantic coast. A place has a feeling and a life to it, and guides us to build what is already there, waiting to be built.

But Buhner is asking us not just to consider our dwellings and sidewalks, but everything, the feelings of a natural world that, at first glance, we may not consider to even have feelings.

So again, Buhner walks us through an exercise. If you care to, you’re welcome to do it now. He says…

“Let your eyes wander around the room you’re in until something catches your attention—desk, pen, cup; it doesn’t matter what it is. It is just, for whatever reason at this moment in time, interesting to you. It appeals in some way. Now. Look at it carefully, note its shape, notice its color. Really look at it; let your visual sensing take it in. Let your eyes touch the thing as if they were fingers capable of extreme sensitivity of touch. Immerse yourself in seeing the thing that has caught your attention. Now, ask yourself, How does it feel?” 

“In the tiny moment of time that follows that question, there will be a burst of feeling, an “intimation of mood or feeling” as Goethe once described it. Your nonphysical touching has just felt a part of the exterior world. There’s a specific and unique feeling experience that occurs whenever this question is asked about something that is acutely observed. What stands revealed is a dimension to things beyond height, width, and breadth. There is a feeling dimension to them.  .”

Now, he says, as you immerse yourself in the essence of how your object feels, ask yourself, “how do I feel?” He asks us to notice these sensations as we move from feeling what is outside of us to noticing how that thing makes us feel? Once might suggest a parallel to the yogic practices of meditation and contemplation where the practitioner attempt to feel the qualities of a single point of concentration until there is no differentiation between what is outside and what is inside.

   This seemingly mystic yogic ability is hopefully an idea we will revisit again and again, that the distinction between the self and the environment is actually an illusion. That the distinction between outside and inside are just a matter of perception, and not just in a philosophical space, but also a physical space. Where does outside end and inside begin? Your skin? Is not the air you in IN-hale and EX-hale a perfect metaphor for the illusory nature of this experience? The point is, that we could not exist without the environment just as we could not exist without lungs or air to breathe with the lungs. The more we can dispel the myth that there is an out there, that we are somehow separate from the trees we cut down for our houses and the fish we eat for dinner, that our garbage is essentially not our problem because it goes out here somewhere where we can’t see it, that every organism and entity on this planet is essential to our existence, the closer we will get to experiencing the metaphysical nature of our world, and the closer to harmony we will feel in these bodies here on earth.

Once we can grasp our capacity to intertwine our feeling state with the natural world around us, to dissolve the “environment” and feel into just how deeply we are a part of all the living things around us, we will experience the deeper mysticism of this intelligence that is life on earth. We become comfortable with these shifts in consciousness and consciousness itself as a variable state, moving through waking and dreaming, through gated and non-gated sensory perceptions, through being of the world , and within it. Specifically we begin to understand what Buhner calls Gaia’s Mind and the dreaming of Earth. 

He begins by discussing the very idea of reading and writing as a shift in consciousness. In one of the more remarkably simple yet astute ideas of the book, he takes us through a process of reading passages from some of his favorite authors and tuning into the felt senses of the writing, noticing how our sensory gates open to experience the writing. The authors, he says, learn to combine the visual and felt senses into a sensory medium known as synesthesia. 

To illustrate I’d like to read a passage from one of my all time favorite works of literature, “A Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin. In the scene I’m about to read, a benevolent business tycoon in New York City is showing a painting to a handful of guests, including the Mayor. The artist’s name is unknown, and the painting is no ordinary painting. It goes like this…

“The painting was of a city at night, as seen from above, and though they recognized some things they knew, most of it was unfamiliar, because there were lights by the billions, actually sparkling, moving along distant roads in thick concentrations the likes of which the viewers had never imagined, moving along the rivers, and through the air. The city they saw looked real, of inconceivable scale, and frighteningly like their own.  One woman nearly fainted when, upon close examination, she saw a tiny pair of legs scurrying along under an open umbrella. They were able to see in perfect detail. The bridges, of which there were hundreds, had lighted and glowing buildings suspended from their cateenaries and stacked upon the roadways as on the Ponte Vecchio. The view changed, as if they were flying past it, and they felt like birds gliding above quiet streets and deep canyons that were mysteriously three dimensional. They experienced a pleasurable vertigo like that of walking on a country road in fall as torrents of leaves float in a rush of wind, flooding air with new depth, putting the scene under water, and banishing gravity.

This city enabled anyone who looked at if from afar to soar above it, to rise effortlessly, to know that despite its labyrinthine divisions it was an appeal to heaven simpler in the end than the blink of an eye.”

Notice now where your mind and body were just then, if you, just as the characters in the book, were flying across the painted city, transported into a two dimensional painting that became alive. Were you there? Could you feel it? Buhner asks us to observe how we not only see in our minds eye what is being described, but literally transport ourselves into the writers world and feel what is there, as if the writing becomes another reality. Certainly anyone who has read a good book knows the feeling of being transported inside the writing, into the world as if a dream, forgetting entirely where your body actually is, be it sinking into your own comfortable couch or crammed into an airplane for four hours.  

Winter’s Tale is one of my favorite books, because it is a book that so accurately and magically describes New York City as a place, but asks us to draw out the “metaphysical background” of the city in every paragraph. The author Helprin is also asking us to see beyond the ordinary into the secret kinesis of the city and its inhabitants, of the great rivers and bays that surround it, of the Atlantic mists that engulf it. When we have these experiences with writing, Buhner says we are experiencing the opening of our gating channels, and this opening of our gating channels is an alteration in consciousness. And that it’s quite natural, and akin to a dream. A writer is dreaming the scenes we read just as we dream the scenes written. The writer feels the scene and its characters and places and imbues the writing with those feelings.

Buhner goes on to draw the same comparisons in music. He writes, “A good songwriter crafts the melody line of the song in such a way that the emotional structure of the sound progression mirrors the lyrics to the song. The emotional tones in the melody mimic the meanings of the story that the lyrics tell. So, at a level far below that of language, the feeling meaning of the story goes inside you, into a very deep, dreaming place. Into the place where your deepest feelings reside. And there it changes who you are, just as all good stories do. Because music bypasses the linear mind—using nonlinguistic sound structures rather than the more structured language you find  in books, it bypasses many of the filters that culture imposes on people.”    


As a musician myself, I’ve experienced what he means, and can say that music has moved me in feeling even more than writing. There is nothing more mystical then embarking into an unknown jam session with accomplished musicians, listening and responding in this language that has nothing to do with words, whose meaning cannot be precisely defined, but felt to the core. How does one define or explain a melody line or guitar solo? If there’ any phish fans out there you know what I’m talking about. Hopefully I’m not throwing myself under the bus here as a Neo-hippie, but I’ve been a fan since the 90’s, and despite having heard some of the songs dozens of times, the band never plays the song the same, and each show is a unique expression of a different quality or feeling of each song played. Its like watching a movie where there is rough idea of a script, but every time you see it, the lines change, but the scene is the same.

Music tugs on our heart strings like nothing else. We all know how certain songs can take us back to the dreaming of our childhood, becoming forever associated with a time or place or person. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever hear the Doobie Brothers without thinking of my dad, or hear “Under the Bridge” and not think of my first “party” at a friends house in 8th grade. To Buhner is just another example of the feeling state that lies at the core of our perception, beyond the rational mind and linear thought. He gives a great example of how music can be beyond explanation with the word “funk”

Now. I like funky. Deep down in this Chicago boy, lies a whole heap a’ funk.

But what is funk? You know what I’m talking about, but to sit here and describe or explain it without diving into some deep metaphor about purple velvet, swagger, saxophones and 70’s Cadillacs with my face all scrunched up like I’m really happy and gassy at the same time… and that still doesn’t quite catch it. You can’t notate funk on sheet music, because it can’t be reduced to notes and timing. Its all feeling. 

Can you feel what we’re talking about here. Our ability as humans to dream and speak beyond language, to transport our consciousness to other worlds through books, music, and storytelling. Where are we when we dream? If aliens came down and saw humans sleeping everywhere, would they know we were alive? We live even in our dreams, don’t we? Now imagine that the Earth is in a perpetual state of dream even in her waking. Can you touch her dream? Can you sense it? Can you feel it? When you ask how a plant feels, or a rock, and allow that state to touch your own, secrets unravel. We enter new states of being.   

Its from these places that we reach the secret kinesis of the world and its metaphysical background. We reach the realm of the Fae, London Below, the upside-down, we use the porpentine to find the land, walk through the closet into Narnia,  we tumble downt the rabbit hole, discover the door to midworld…   We find the world that exists just beyond the veil of reality where we so often reside, and from there we travel with with a new found sense of feeling from and for the world and our relationship to everything in it. It’s from this place, that Buhner invites us to find a deeper meaning to our experiences and what he calls a metaphorical language to describe them.

He begins the chapter called “The Sea of Meaning” with a few quotes, one of which by Masanobu Fukuoka, where he is quoted to say:


“Everyone seems to believe that human thought and emotions are the products of the human mind, but I think otherwise. . . . When people see a green tree, they all think that green trees are beautiful. Trees leave a sense of peace. When the wind ripples the surface of the water, the spirit becomes restless. Go to the mountains, and a sense of the mountain arises. Travel to a lake, and one feels the spirit of the water. All these emotions arise from nature. Go anywhere nature has been disturbed and I doubt that anything but disturbed emotions will arise.”

So what is it to find the meaning within our feeling states? Well it begins by noticing how the places and beings around us make us feel when we take the time to feel them, to sense them. Now we’ve mostly talked about opening our sensory gates to experience the beauty of the world, but the world is built upon the polarities of existence, as we’ve discussed, and we must inevitable open ourselves to all aspects of our living world. To illustrate, I’ll read another scene from Winter’s Tale, one that elicits an entirely different feeling that the first.

“On a late spring morning, Peter Lake went to the nearest tenement door and swung it open, expecting to see as if from a high hill a great city in winter laid out before him in a cold dawn. Someday, perhaps, he would. But now there was only darkness and a sickening smell. He cautiously negotiated a flight of stairs and came to a landing. Cord and twine had been tied all about the banisters. Children playing, he thought. He saw in the blackness that the dark walls were scratched and gouged. This was a horrible place, far from water, sky, or sand. He would have left and forgotten it had he not for some reason been impelled to go up one more flight of stairs. He was in the heart of the building now, as far away from the light as if he had been deep in the grave. He was just about to turn around when suddenly he became motionless with the graceful and quick self-restraint of a hunter who has stumbled upon his prey. A child stood before him, not an ordinary child, or so he hoped. It could not have been more than three or four, and was dressed in a filthy black smock. Its head was enormous, shaven, distorted. The brows and crown protruded as if to burst. In back, it was the same. Peter Lake winced. This creature, standing in the rubble, had its hand in its mouth, and was leaning against the wall, staring blankly ahead. Its jaws trembled, and the hideous swollen skull rocked back and forth in convulsive movements. Peter Lake’s instincts told him that there was not much life left for it to live. He wanted to help, but he had no experience or memory to guide him. He could neither leave nor stay. He watched it shake and bob in the near-darkness until, somehow, he fell reeling back into the light.”

Though this is just another scene in Helprin’s novel, we know all to well that this scene is common place in our world. The first time I went to Peru I spent a day in the the city of Pullcalpa. Though this large and fairly poor city is far from the worst place to live on Earth, being in a radically novel place, unlike any city in America, my gates were wide open and the feeling of the place was strange and uncomfortable. The makeshift dwellings and business, garbage rolling through the streets, everything just a shade of broken and the chaos of the Moto-taxis and cars. It was not what I would call beautiful. I could appreciate the culture, the people and their resilience, their simplicity and tender hearts, and though I look through the lens of a middle class American, beyond the lens was a feeling of disharmony. Rare was the tended garden, or the elegant sense of design or pattern, just sprawling city and the waste it brings.

And certainly here in North America we can find the same feelings, walking the now abandoned project tenements of my home Chicago, driving through the massive cow factories of the central valley, the mono crops growing in what was once the Mesopotamia of our continent, and watching it slowly erode into a waterless desert. Compare the feeling of a garbage ridden dead end alley to a sequoia. A sprawling airport to the vast fields of Yosemite. We must learn to map our feelings of the entirety of our existence here on Gaia and be wiling to develop a complete sense of seeing and feeling the deeper realities available to us. In this way we touch the world with something deeper than our hands and feel, and we let the world touch us.      

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be able to talk to animals, to have a secret language with them that could make even the fiercest tiger my friend, or call the hawks down from the sky to my shoulders. Admittedly as a child if felt like more of a desire for command over them, but as I got older I realized what I desired even more was friendship with the natural world, and that even the power we do have through our animal husbandry just missed the mark. Even more than that, was a desire to feel like I wasn’t alone in the universe. 

Humans have done quite well at declaring their independence from each other, we’ve declared our autonomy and discovered our unique expression as a self reflective being and in doing so I often find myself feeling utterly alone. No one understands me, or really gets it the way I do. And I’ve talked to a great many friends who feel the same way. The idea that nature can reach out and touch us, is intelligent, alive and with us on this journey… it is the very substance that filled the voids created by a human centric world. 


To reach this state we must abandon the idea that the world exists primarily for humans. To this Buhner writes:

“We literally can’t see the deeper dimensions of Earth if we remain in a human-oriented frame. For we then tend to think that the oil in the California hills is, and always has been, there for us. We believe that there is something unique about our intelligence, that we, in our billions, are intrinsically more important than the plants that grow in our yards. Foundationally, the thinning of boundary between self and other is crucial. The complete elimination of it is, at times, a necessity. It is only then that it is possible to experience the other inhabitants of this scenario from inside their own lives. Understanding emerges, only at such moments, that the human world and its concerns are as unimportant to the other life-forms here as the mosquito you just swatted is to you. It changes things. For the first time the arrogance of the human perspective vanishes. It’s possible then to see just how thoroughly it biases nearly every aspect of science . . . and how much it alters nearly every human intervention into the ecological functioning of the planet.”

This is the door to what Buhner calls the Imaginal Realm and the Dreaming of Earth.

You know, at the Church of Infinite Harmony we ordain Land Stewards. Our ministers dedicate themselves to the preservation of all beings in the Gaian System, from the largest to the smallest. If I were to describe their divine power, it would be to see beyond into the deeper patterns of the natural world and become a co-creator in Gaia’s elegant design. Land Stewards choose their place in the world and they learn that place.

As the Senior Land Steward of Liberty Arising, one of my hopes is to someday drive back some of the overbearing invasive species that have overtaken the land and allow the Native California Chaparral to regain its foothold in our fields. When I feel into the mustard weeds, foxtails and ragweeds there is a deep felt sense of an army marching into my home unwanted, attempting to install their own culture over mine. When I leave the fields and ascend into the hills of chaparral to the East, the mosaic of California Sage Brush, Ribbonwood trees, the myriad of wildflowers and most of all, the ancient coast live oaks beckons my soul to sit down and share a story, to learn their ways and offer mine. I feel home with them. I feel as if we are kin. 

Curare is the common name for a collection of South American alkaloid arrow poisons that would eventually be used by their North American brethren in the 1940’s as the first anesthesia. Like many medicines in South America, it was used by various tribes and each tribe had it’s own recipe, and depending on the region, the plants used would vary. Some tribes would use as many as a dozen plants to create these paralytic poisons. They also had remarkable healing properties for certain infection. There are a handful of quotes from South American medicine men, when initially asked how it became known that such a combination of plants would have a desired effect, the answer was simply, “the plants told us”

How did humans ever deduce the healing properties of thousands of plants across hundreds of ancient cultures without microscopes and lab coats? And how did we get to a society where now our medicines have gone from teas and poultices made of real plants to pills and bottles of pink stuff that tastes like bubblegum, arguable the strangest substance to ever be called food. When did the answer to our ailment cease to be just outside of our back door and be only available by prescription.

Granted, the refinement of modern medicine by science has saved countless of lives, but these technologies are not exclusive to pharmaceuticals, and more importantly, not as arcane as they would like us to believe. The point is not to rant about big Pharma… there’s plenty of other podcasts and pundits who can tell you that. Its to remind ourselves that long before we relied on specialists and medical authorities to tell us how to take care of ourselves, we spoke with the plants. They’ve been helping us for thousands of years, but we’ve also been helping them.

One day I was staring at the 10 acre field on the north side of our property, where the mustard weeds    were in full bloom for the third time this season, depriving the soil of essential nitrogen and creeping upward toward the chaparral. Then I looked to the west at a community of Sagebrush that held their ground and I noticed something. Everywhere the land was flat, the invasive dominated, and everywhere there was just some topography, be it a mound or a swale or a more obvious change in elevation, the chaparral remained strong.   

It was as if I could suddenly see into the past, and I watched the humans run their machines and level this massive field, likely for their horses to graze in and run in, as I know the land was a horse ranch in prior iterations, or perhaps once farmed generations back. Our altering of the land changed things. It had taken me 10 years of gently staring into the metaphysical background of this field, to see the connections between things and the flow of time that binds them. The land steward trains themselves to build what Buhner calls a “perceptual database” through a continual touching of the world through our feeling sense, and what we master through our training is an understanding of the complexity of life, of Gaia and of ourselves as an emergent property of our mother earth. We become agents of Gaia and agents of the creative forces that drive us. When we look at it that way, when we truly grasp the undeniable creative synergy that we are capable of, that our success can only be measured by the health and success of our planet, then we are compelled to move with her and not against her, to ask the question of what it truly means to move with her, to see her and be seen by her, to express her will as ours. It almost sounds a little religious, and perhaps it is, but at the same time it is an ultimate expression of freedom, freedom of the utterly unique set of feelings and perceptions that we carry, married to a great set of feelings carried deep within the Dreaming of Earth. 

In our next episode we’ll embark on the final leg of our trilogy and ask the question, if the Earth is in fact alive, is it possible that we humans are part of a much greater ecological plan. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and I look forward to hearing from you. As always, feel free to ask questions or offer feedback in our forum at , which will include the transcripts of each episode for quotes and references.

If you’re interested in supporting this podcast, or our work, you can become a donating member of the church of infinite harmony. You can donate any amount you want, once a month or as often as you want. As a non-profit organziation, this podcast and our organization are supported by your donations.

12 views0 comments


bottom of page