Did you know that soil is actually alive? Soil is rife with microorganisms in a beautiful symbiotic relationship with the plants that grow on it. Plants and soil microbes feed each other and communicate with each other. There is an amazing balance between the bacteria and fungi that contribute to the plants, nourishing them and providing immunity, mirroring the same thing that goes on in our gut.
If you haven’t seen the film on Netflix called Kiss the Ground, I recommend you do so. The revelations of soil science that it speaks about is rocking the agricultural world these days.
Over decades of practicing agriculture as an extractive business giving no thought to how the life in the soil nurtures the plants, we have decimated soils, turning farmland into deserts. Chemical inputs have destroyed the bacteria in the soil, and constant tilling disrupts the fungal mycelia network. The once rich soft soil has become hardened, unable to hold water or supply the plants with nutrients they can absorb, contributing to the vicious cycle of more and more chemicals added to try to squeeze out another meager harvest from the hardened depleted soil.
In recent years, farmers and soil scientists decided to go back to observing nature and see how they can imitate it to improve the condition of the farmlands. They made many fascinating discoveries in the process.
One thing they found is that you can control the weeds by changing the soil ecology. If you give the soil good nutrients and activate a healthy microbiome, soft gentle weeds grow from it. In poor soil, the spiky tough weeds like thistles dominate. Many of these tough weeds secrete strong enzymes through their roots into the soil to break down the dirt to render the minerals and other nutrients more available to the plants and bacteria. With more inputs of water and organic matter like compost and dung, the soil is transformed as more bacteria, fungi, and earthworms show up. The hard spiky weeds, their job done, fade out and are replaced by the soft weeds like mustard that are easily controlled or left to keep the ground covered until planting time. Then with regenerative agriculture, the weeds are crimped down rather than dug up to make a mulch cover that protects the seedlings and retains the water. A desert thus is restored to Eden.
So what is the state of the soil of our society? I see the soil of American society has become hardened with chemicals of materialism and an extractive economy, now devoid of life affirming human values. Thistles of hatred, racism, authoritarianism, and divisiveness have sprung up in abundance; the roots of these hard, spiky weeds are breaking the hard crust of pretense and indifference and bringing into our awareness the need for a deep change of our ways.
To heal our society we can open our hearts and reintroduce friendly “microbes” of nurturing thoughts, visions, and appreciation to proliferate in the soil of our collective consciousness. Then welcome the earthworms of wisdom and understanding to digest and transmute the ugly, the fear, the rage, and anger into compassion of loving kindness.
I observed Mother Nature responding to mass consciousness shortly after 9/11 when we were heading into the Iraq war. At that time there was a lot of anger and warlike mentality. Thistles sprang up in abundance that spring in the wildlands near where I was living. Thistles are spiky and mean and ugly looking, but amazing medicine to cleanse the liver, the organ where our angry emotions get stored. Mother Nature brought forth these plants that reflected our mass mentality of anger, plants that contained the very medicine to heal us.
What if every thing that arises in our lives, individually and in the collective, are there to heal us? Donald Trump has been riding on the surfacing of the anger and rage and fear of a great many Americans, doing a fabulous job of exposing the collective shadow of the nation. With that in mind, I can be in a space of love and appreciation, rather than fear, of the turmoil that is going on. This is the process of evolution. The breakdown of the old tree and the new life arising from its death. The extinction of the dinosaur that gave way to mammals arising.
We can all each take a breath and appreciate the gift – the invitation – to take all this trauma, the anger, the fear, the hatred, the grief, the pain – and transmute it all – offer it up to the Light. And think about the lowly creatures that do that for the Earth: the bacteria, the fungi, the worms, – these most primitive, elegant beings that we are repulsed by that do this wonderful function as the Earth’s “Essential Workers” making nutrients available to plants, sequestering carbon, detoxifying the soil and conditioning it for the plants to thrive. And we can thank the weeds that cover and protect the soil and show us what is going on beneath the surface.
Bacteria, fungi and worms live in our guts too. Yes, parasites live in us too. I wonder if some of these parasites are beneficial as well? At least they are there for a reason; that they have something to tell us, even if it is to let us know that we are out of balance somehow and that we need to change our internal terrain. Starting with our mind. Our thoughts and emotions create the chemical environment that determines which microbes flourish – the beneficial ones or the bad ones. The microbes affect our thoughts and emotions as well. The gut is where mental health and physical health intersect.
So to heal ourselves we must change our inner terrain, physically and mentally. And healing ourselves is the first step to healing the nation and healing the planet.
Just like with ourselves, to heal our country we must also heal the terrain. We must stop feeding the parasites of materialism and selfishness. Then soothe the inflammation of hatred and divisiveness with tolerance and compassion. Let’s bring in more beneficial life forms of love, compassion, hope and appreciation. These changes are not only possible, they are happening now. Just as the farmers are proving that gentle methods in harmony with nature are better for farming, so we can see how kindness can create a better society. Then we will see the thistles give way to mustards.