Each morning I go outside and ponder the old oak that stands on the side of the road. Each morning I say a blessing to it.
I’m beginning to shift my understanding of plants, even big plants like trees. No longer seeing them in gender specifics, but sensing into their being that which moves beyond the anthropomorphising of nature, of wildness.
I was at a Nettle weekend recently, and the folk attending where saying it is a ‘She’… I broke the mold, not out of bloody mindedness, but simply because I saw Nettle differently. Instead I referred to Nettle as ‘He’ calling it a warrior plant. Now, what I said then seems daft.
Shifting, shuffling and mutterings ensued usually with the “But <insert name of plant author/herbalist> says Nettle is a She”.
To paraphrase Wilhelm Reich “There’s an authority in your head, destroy it”.
A few folk came up to me privately after I had spoken the unutterable and said that they felt Nettle was a ‘he’… I wondered why they had not spoken up during the group session? Curious…
What is it with us always wanting to humanise the non-human world. To project our own brain-patterning and conditioning onto what we perceive to be ‘outside ourselves’.
I joked recently at a conference I was speaking at, that I am trying to un-name myself as well as un-name plants.
I try and un-name plants simply to be able to meet them deeply, intimately. That’s why I like travelling and finding plants that I have never met before.
My own prejudices, assumptions and projections take a back seat. I can’t meet a plant blind, which is what all this naming and anthropomorphising does. It makes us blind, dulls our perceptions.
As soon as we label, we no longer perceive or can meet that which we have bagged and tagged.
The old oak I mentioned earlier is dropping its leaves, turning inwards in preparation for the dark months, and it is at this time of year that the bounty of this beautiful, ancient graceful tree is shared with the rest of the world.
For humans it is the acorn that is offered as a gift for food. Deep nourishment, that requires a few days preparation to remove the tannins before it is ready to be crafted into delicious recipes.
Usually I find acorn recipes tend to be rather bland and boring. Most folk grind them into flour and add that to breads or as a thickener for stews and casseroles. For this acorn recipe I decided to do something a little different. Why not spice them up and pickle them.
So there I was starring at my freshly processed batch of acorns and wondering what on earth I could do with them. Then a flash of Pickled Walnuts came to mind. “Ah-ha” I thought. These crafty acorns had just revealed how they wanted to be preserved.
A few years ago I created my Spiced Pickled Acorn recipe, and even though I say it myself, it’s a bit of a smasher.