Jacqui Murray recently wondered in a comment on another post: how would primitive people know which plants could be useful for healing? I replied that the one way of learning about plants which I’ve seen reported by indigenous people from various cultures worldwide is that the plants talk to the healers, and tell them what they can do for people. Martin Prechtel describes in detail how the process works for him in Secrets of the Talking Jaguar. When I heard about this communication with plants as a standard way of learning about them, my thought was that I must not be meant to be a shaman, because I’d never had such an experience.
Years later, Kim Upton presented a suggestion. When you are preparing food, ask the vegetables how they would like to be prepared. I’m the kind of wacky person who will try anything if there is no harm and the commitment is negligible, so naturally that very evening I talked to some basil from my own garden. It was a bit awkward, considering that I intended to eat said basil, but it turned out that the basil had no desire but to nourish me. That was all. It wanted wholly to be of benefit to my being, was thrilled by the possibility that I’d soon be masticating it to green pulp. It turns out that plants do not have the strong egos of humans, and don’t have the slightest care for their individual welfare. What an astonishing find.*
In following years I planted lots of basil, but it always got devoured to the stem by grasshoppers. I didn’t even bother to plant any this year. I occasionally attempted to engage my vegetables in conversation, but grocery store produce doesn’t have much to say. Once in a while something will tell me to use some five-spice powder, which is kind of funny, since no one in our house particularly likes five-spice. But a tiny bit is nice, when requested by the food upon which it is to be sprinkled.
This year for the first time we were able to amass enough capital to purchase a share in Shepherd’s Valley CSA, based in northern Lyon County. While preparing dinner tonight, I was captivated by the onion I received from them this past week. It was the most perfect onion I’d ever seen, with several inches of green at the top. It had a presence I couldn’t ignore, so I paused and held it in my hands and inhaled the delicate aroma. I saw sunlight, and thought of how fresh this onion was. It would be best to save the greens and use them raw, perhaps in the slaw I’ll make with the copious amount of cabbage we’ve received. But the bulb I wanted to cook, and as I looked into it with my eyes closed and my heart open, I saw a smiling face, a woman, radiating love. Was she who pulled this onion from the earth? I was overwhelmed by the love emanating from this fabulous allium. I think that was all it wanted to tell me, that it had been grown and harvested into the pure light of love. I felt love energy entering my hands as I chopped the bulb.
Yes, it sounds silly. If you want to commune with plants, you have to be willing to risk the ridiculous. It is, after all, talking to vegetables. But, oh, what a rush! I recommend it for everyone. What do your vegetables have to say to you?
*A gold star to any reader who notices that that story was in one of my earliest posts, written by Veronica. I gave it to her, but now I’m taking it back. She won’t mind.