I’ve been an organic farmer and herbalist for over thirty years, and one thing I know for certain is that the earth is mother to us all. Gaia, the primordial earth goddess from Greek mythology, symbolizes creation’s most potent and nurturing force, the source of all that grows and enriches the planet. I named my company, Gaia Herbs, after this dynamic, sustaining principle in reverence for the abundance she bestows day after day, whether or not we perceive or support it—and without asking anything in return. This is the ultimate expression of motherhood: limitless giving.
With this in mind, we wonder how life on earth got so sideways. Ayurveda, the age-old science of natural health from India, identifies the cause as pragya paradh, the “mistake of the intellect,” in forgetting who we are and what role we play in the grand scheme. As a result, our poor environmental choices create an endless cascade of consequences that feeds the destructive aspects of nature while overshadowing her creative side.
The remedy, I believe, is found through “meetings and awakenings.” The immutable symbiosis between the three p’s—people, plants, and planet—involves an ongoing process of meet-and-greet. We need real face-time with Gaia to get to know her, because how can you value and love something you don’t know or understand? We need to meet the herb kingdom face to face, heart to heart.
I’ve had the benefit of working the land and watching the magic happen as seeds grow into sprouts, plants, flowers, and fruits, culminating in seasonal harvest. If everyone had this experience, it would be impossible to deny the miracle of life and the loving-kindness of Mother Nature. That’s why we bring guests to the Gaia Herbs certified organic farm every summer to open their eyes to what’s really going on here on planet earth, literally at ground level.
Recently, when award-winning slam poet Dominique Ashaheed visited the farm, it stirred up powerful memories of her grandfather, who introduced her to the mysteries of the soil when she was a little girl. “He taught me how to genuflect in a garden . . . We wore dirty knuckles and wide smiles,” she wrote during her visit in the evocative poem/prayer, “How to Meet the Mother.” I’ll close with another excerpt that captures the interconnected intelligence of people, plants, and planet:
Nothing that grows purposefully asks the sun why she shines. The petals that open and close. Let me grow like that, let us grow like that. Let the music of our own becoming be familiar. Let us walk right up to the thing that can heal us, stretch out our hand and say, “Old friend, it’s been a long time.”
May we all learn to celebrate the bounty with which we are blessed. Thank you, Mother. Amen!