Every carbon atom in our bodies has at one time passed through the chloroplast membrane of a plant.
Plants are the placenta of all animal life, from when the humans (homunculus, humus, hence "earthlings") were a mere wisp of dream in a chancy future.
Love and strife, Empedocles maintained. The sieve of selection and the fandango. Fit survival, but also the peacock's tail, exuberance, excess. A great swirling, and a song arose. Katydids, cicadas. Munching on green. Autophagia really. Or eating the god.
And the gods fought back: alkaloids, CNS poisons, tryptamines, beta-carbolines, lianas snaking from the canopy. Fungi garnered the recycling trade. Partnerships, parasites, nothing standing still.
Oils, terpenes, carbohydrates, even protein, the main course of the teachings. And beyond, like a graduate school, "secondary metabolites," the poisons, the medicine.
Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis)
The Original Prohibition, our first drug law.
To plant people everywhere, certain plants are regarded with a special reverence: the sacred plants, sharing something of godly nature. That which had been attacked, that which resisted, the rebels, "thus far and no further shalt thou come."
Plants represent immediacy, a seamless suchness. No comments. No philosophizing, no rationalizing. Just the Fact. The Buddha once preached a whole sermon by holding aloft a flower. Kasyapa understood and smiled.
We can find the songs in ethnopoetics, or hear the prayers from those who have maintained the archaic connection, but it's all in Milton:
O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant,
Mother of Science, Now I feel thy Power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their Causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest Agents, deem'd however wise.
There was a great taming, leaching the tannins or cooking out the cyanide: acorns, cassava, breeding the tame ones. Women's work. Root gatherers and kitchen chemists. A few of the god-plants entered the chagra, the circle, like barbarian nomads finding a fertile valley, but mostly they stayed wild, became a specialty of those daring to eat wildness, the bitter. Plants with a voice: the Tree of Knowledge.
In loving memory of Dale Pendell
Sometimes poison is the medicine. Sometimes the action of this medicine is as gentle as waking up, but sometimes the world as you know it is dissolved in a torrent of seeming madness, so that another world might become visible.
Dale passed on January 13th about an hour or so before sunrise.
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!
Here at Mantis Hill we miss him terribly.
I continue to look to his words for wisdom, beauty, magic… and consolation.
I hope you will do the same.
— Laura Pendell