What is Earth Medicine? Certainly, it means different things to different individuals, communities, and cultures. My notion of Earth Medicine begins with the Hermetic principle (i.e., we can learn everything we need to know about the microcosm by observing the macrocosm, and vice versa).
But “medicine” goes beyond intellectual knowledge. What interests me is the relationship between micro and macro; the idea of tending that relationship and keeping it vital. Bring healing to one and you necessarily bring healing to the other. Care for the Earth, and you honor your body as a temple. Bring healing to the Self and the Earth naturally brightens as well.
That delicate balance has a downside: It can be our undoing, if we’re not mindful. I remember listening to a master teacher in my spiritual lineage tell us that the chaos and suffering in the world is the collective projection of our internal misery. “This is the mess that happens when we think with our brains instead of with our hearts,” he said.
As much as I wanted to disbelieve that sobering idea, I feel the truth of it. It’s one of the reasons I cling so tightly to my rituals and meditation … so far, my best tools for making sure I can contribute something resembling peace and beauty to the world even when life feels rough.
At various times, the “micro” of our bodies might feel more accessible to us. So we nourish the body, and the Earth benefits. Other days, we feel moved to tears by the radiance of a flower or the vastness of an ocean. So we take some time to honor Nature, and we ourselves feel those positive effects. Either angle offers an entry point into the system as a whole. We just need to listen to our bodies and to the Earth to know where to begin.
For instance, start with the trees that tower overhead. Or the clouds that dance their reflection down a lazy river. Start by embracing what you value about yourself. What we learn when we go quiet enough to hear these graces speak shows us how we are meant to live, how we might thrive, and how we can show up more fully in our humanity.
Because this micro-season (late Summer into early Autumn) always takes complete possession of my senses and my imagination, the choice right now is simple: I start with the Earth. I absolutely have to get my feet (preferably bare) on the ground (preferably grass or dirt) as often as possible. And my assumption is that biological imperative isn’t happening in a vacuum.
In other words, if I feel a powerful need to be with the Earth, there’s something within me that is also needed by the Earth, especially in this season. The Earth isn’t just our medicine. We are meant to be medicine for the Earth as well. To what extent we can, we must answer that call.
Some days, “answering” simply means “noticing.” Other days, it means purposefully setting aside time to have a heart-to-heart with terra firma. And still other days, we come together in ceremony or ritual, to mark the changing of a season or celebrate the gift of life this planet makes possible.