A Hidden Language

April 21, 2019

 

Open your eyes, your ears. 

Taste, touch, smell, see, hear the world around you.

There is magic waiting.

When you study the workings of the natural world, when you learn about the Plant People and the flora and fauna of your region and those beyond your lands, when you watch the sun and the moon and the stars as they move across the sky throughout the year, something happens. 

 

You no longer need your calendar to know what month it is. You no longer need a clock to know the time. You no longer look out into the forest, or at your feet, and see simply plants. And you realize, no longer are you separate from, different from, the world outside your door. No longer are your ancestors who depended on these very things, this very information that you are now not only collecting but understanding, a thing of the distant past. They are awakening within you. Their memories, their wisdom, are stirring in your blood and your bones as your eyes open and see nuances they were once blind to, as your ears open and hear languages they once could not comprehend. 

Now as I drive along forested roads, or walk in parks, I look around me and I see there-- dandelion, plantain, chickweed, purple dead nettle, henbit, rose, watercress and lamb's quarters, stinging nettles and white-blossomed yarrow, sweet gum maple and white oak and usnea and tulip poplar and reishi and wisteria and willow... These are food and medicine and allies that my ancestors, your ancestors, once knew intimately. Depended upon for survival. Their biological code is a part of my, our, biological code. Their cells are our cells, their nutrients built and sustain my body which will break down and nourish their bodies in return. 

 

Now as I look to the sun, I know what time in the afternoon it is and how long there is until sunset and even what season it is. Without thinking, without calculations, with as simple a glance as one would use to check the time on a watch. Watching the moon, depending on the phase she rises sooner or later, can be seen just barely during the day or is out all night, or is just a sliver paired with the evening star as the sun sets. I feel my body shift with her. Expanding, contracting, shedding blood and coming into fertility. I sense others around me become calmer or more excitable, chaotic, and can guess her phase. I can even predict now how many days until the full moon, the new moon. The stars even tell me the time of year. Where is Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the constellations of my childhood? Where does Orion hunt the sky? Where is last year's lover's favorite star, pulsing rainbow? Is it Winter or now Summer? I still cannot navigate by them, or know all their names, but that is to come. This is a start, a beginning, a new relationship forming. 

 

Open your eyes and you will see. Open your ears and you will hear. A whole world is waiting for you, a language without words waiting for you to decipher its code-- a code you know, deep in your earthly bones and blood made of iron from stars as they died-- because this code, this language, is the mother-tongue of us all. Whatever our creed, our nationality, our heritage, our upbringing, we are born with the capacity to understand and speak the language of the natural world and all its dialects. We must just remember. 

 

But how? How do you learn the language? How do you learn to see? It is as simple as opening your eyes, and your ears, and taking time. Make the time as you go about your day to stop, and look, and listen. When you know what time it is and what season, what month, where is the sun in the sky at different points during the day where you live? Over time you will just learn their correspondence. Take ten minutes and research how to tell time (and direction) with a sun dial, even easier and more applicable is to look up how to use the width of your hand to measure how many hours until sunset. 

 

Look to the sky whenever you go outside. Where is the moon? What phase is it in? Check your moon phase calendar to double check if it is waning or waxing. The more you do this, the more you look to the sky as often as possible, every day even, it will come naturally. You'll learn the patterns, you'll just know. It comes slowly, and naturally. Eventually you won't have to look up the phase, or how many days until the Full Moon. You'll just, know. You can simply look outside and see. Do you know any constellations? What part of the year are they in the sky? Are they present all year but shift position? Some constellations are hidden for half the year. Some ride high in the summer and low near the horizon in the winter. Learn new constellations. Learn their patterns. And listen, too. What birds are singing? Why did they stop? Is the dove silent or the jay calling out because a hawk is flying overhead, or because you are walking too loudly through the forest? 

 

They say a hunter's best friend is a blue jay. 

 

Look to your feet, look above your head. In your yard, on the side of roads and near ponds and on trails and in parks. Do you recognize any plants? Learn how to identify common weeds and easy to find edibles and medicinals in your region. Learn the poisonous plants to stay away from. Know their look-a-likes.

 

Remember, "Queen Anne has hairy legs", and water hemlock is smooth-skinned and deadly. 

 

As you learn common, easily identifiable plants, look for them. Sit with them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Learn (read books! and ask the plants themselves~) what they treat, how they should be eaten, what offerings they like, what they taste like-- taste can help you identify what properties they have (are they bitter, or astringent? Aromatic or mild?). If they have a sting or poison, what medicine comes from that? And what can you use to treat it? (Ferns and Burdock often grow by nettles and can help relieve their sting-- and yet their sting has potent medicine). Some plants like energywork. Some plants like stories and songs. On that note, learn their song. Everything in creation has a song. That's part of the language you're learning. Listen.

 

And when you travel or move to a new area? You keep looking and listening and feeling and you learn what grows there, and what doesn't. You learn how the sky is different, the position of the sun, the weather, the animals that live there and their lives played out in the dirt, the song of that land. 

 

Remember, this is your birthright. This is your mother-tongue.  

Blessed remembering, wildlings. 

 

~Juniper Wren 

 

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© 2017 by Femme de la Foret // Aileen Peterson

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