This is an essay from Earthbound Farmer’s Almanac.
Tell me, or better yet, tell yourself that I might better hear you…how do you legitimize communion? Is it something we do? Is it something that happens to you? Is it easily categorized and where does it live in your body? I will not be proposing any perfection of methodology here. The devastation that is Imperialism and the American colonial project has worked tirelessly to physically and psychically divorce BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People Of Color) from traditional practices of union: with land, with kin, and consequently ourselves. There have been several ways in which I have begun the undoing of this inherited, incarnate hurt: not first and not last (this isn’t orderly work) is reconnecting with the land of which I am ancestrally wrought. The circumstances that led to my first spring on a budding farm are as simple as friends needing a reliable hand. The dynamics complicated by implied power and ownership. It must be said; white land owners - you need to actualize more in terms of decolonization. You need to atone for implicit harm and actively dismantle internalized patriarchal hierarchies that occur within diverse collaborative work. You need to cede land back to BIPOC. Still, the complexities of this relationship persist. I am happy to be learning and growing within a greater collective that includes a diverse population of plants, animals, and organisms. To find myself living and working land in the place where my ancestors have traversed and lived and loved and bled and weeped, has shaken fruit from my limbs and without a thought, seeds are sown into that heroic history.
What I am continuing to grasp from months of reintegration of myself into the colectivo ultimo* is an unrefined understanding of organic connectivity. I am here to destroy the manufactured borders that separate my humanity and the rest of the natural world. Immutable social ideologies and oppressive governments have burdened and corralled human dynamism; that which situates us within living does the diabolical work to sever us from the syncopated rhythm of the universe. The entire universe is singing a song both for and because of itself. Not unlike a choir that requires many voices, and humanity is one of them. There is no calculating where to join in, there is only to start. The how of that beginning is not to be dictated, there is only sharing within it. As a detribalized Indigenous person, I am winging it. I don’t have a traditional healer. I have to seek guidance in many; my family, friends, the land, and the collection of histories that reside within me. I am creating ceremony, intuiting initiation, and developing an internal ear for the eternal ‘I'. This is something anyone can do and everyone deserves, you need only follow that desire. (p.s. You don’t need to borrow from any other culture - trust/create your own!)
The exhausted efforts of qualifying and quantifying where humanity ends and ‘the environment’ begins serve as a function of disconnect. Its demands our environment represent itself to us, suggesting there is something we need proven to us. I have been asking what does it look like to actively rewrite that narrative? Can we lean into the expectation that some necessary characteristics of the nature of existence endure only in formlessness, and cherish that? Something I keep returning to is how when I try REALLY hard to hear some sound, of an unknown source, I end up kind of sabotaging my ability to listen.
Having made contact has lead me to ask, ‘how can I be a babe in the woods, provoke my own instinctive wonder, and develop that practice as a method of resistance?’ Not against methodology, against an accepted standard of reality that works to secure the boundary between humanity and nature. I want to see what we are raising, be it plants or livestock, for the first time, as often as I can manage, as a practice to enliven the sense of existing; ‘inhabiting’. When seeds germinate, trees shed leaves, fungi grows, that is all part of an on going conversation that is constantly happening around us. It is very important we realize this conversation includes us, in fact, it desires our participation. As our climate changes with increasing severity, so we too must mirror that intensity in the pursuit of every avenue that puts humanity back into a participatory role. My ambition here, towards a slow and intimate re-introduction to a type of sense which is so precious it should remain unnamed. The beautiful nature of this experience is untamed, boundless, and faceless but unlike a mystery.
As for systems of stewardship leading to a certain level of success (whatever the goal is) of course there is rhyme, reason, and important calculations to be made. But, bear with me here, there was a time before said systems. There was a before time of unknowing; the accumulation of the knowledge that has created the bases of land stewardship is the result of ancestral missteps and corrections. We literally had to watch, feel, fall in love, fail, and begin again and again and again to be here. Moments of apprehension -“Ah-ha!”- within an experimental practice breed a certain hunger necessary for endurance. There is sustainable joy to be accessed within those moments. We need to learn to love watching paint dry. Dedicate the attention and presence it takes to have a deeply understood grasp on the different factors that effect whatever we are cultivating to the point of intuiting needs. Then beyond intuition to the point of becoming; where in the needs of the land are experienced as our own, because they literally are. This is not a suggestion of abandoning valuable collected knowledge, it is an appeal towards the embodiment of euphoria within it. Euphoria as a consequential reality of stewardship. As a particular renewable bliss in belonging to and with the land. This euphoria has all at once mocked, courted, and comforted me during this time of rehabilitation. It facilitates wonder and desire beyond the property line, and beyond the corporeal.
In my mind it resembles double-dutch. Maybe it's been years, a decade, a lifetime, generations even, since I’ve remembered my body can do such things. Maybe you don’t know what double dutch is. I don’t mean to argue it's simple to learn, or an effortless jump into such a cadence. I will suggest the simple joy and exhilaration that is observed when one does (even for a moment), without calculation and with passive observation, find that rhythm -it is worth every attempt that precedes it. It animates the spirit and we may take heart in having the experience. To seek this connectivity with land, animals, comrades, is to seek something outside of colonial banality for me. It is a part of reclaiming a history that was stolen from me, that my family hid from me, and first hid from themselves as a method of survival. My survival is rooted in something else.
*Spanish for ‘ultimate/final collective