20 Missions 1: Making Friends with Plants

Mission 1. Making Friends with Plants

Mission 1 involves making friends with nature where you live, in the form of plants. To make a start on this mission follow the same walk as much as you can over the period of a year and make a mind map of the plants you find and identify them. Draw a map on paper if you want to and become a ‘warden for the wild’ to keep an eye on them.

You might think ‘I live in the middle of a city, there’s no nature here.’ I assure you, there is. I have lived in London!

It just might need a bit of seeking out. Parks, graveyards, wasteland, people’s gardens and hedges, canal towpaths and waterways, cemeteries or even ‘inaccessible land’; there are all sorts of plants growing near you. And if you have a problem finding them, what a great opportunity for a bit of seed-bomb action!

In older times people lived in intimate relationships with the plants growing around them. We can still see this happening in cultures in the remaining Amazonian rainforests for example, where local people systematically and responsibly farm the environment around them and know every tree, bush and plant by its useful qualities, even their ‘spirits’. This, to my mind is proper gardening because it fully integrates the forest dweller with nature.

Amazonian and other forest dwellers have a great respect for their environment and live a truly sustainable life integrated with the life around them. In this respect they and other indigenous peoples are some of the few truly civilized cultures left on the earth. Such people still have their ‘senses’ intact and haven’t had them brutalised by the modern existence of ‘civilisation’. So lets define what these senses are.

The limits of sense

Our five senses are quite limited in the amount that they can perceive. Human beings can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum.

The electromagnetic spectrum is a ‘map’ of all the types of light that we can identify. It separates all the types of light by wavelength because that directly relates to how energetic the wave is. More energetic waves have shorter wavelengths while less energetic waves have longer wavelengths. Not all light is in the visible spectrum; the light you can see. There are many kinds of electromagnetic waves that you can’t see. The human eye is not capable of seeing radiation with wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. To see this type of radiation, we need different detectors to be able to render the radiation to our senses. X-ray machines, radios, mobile phones, and your television are all types of light detectors.

Sight: Your eye is a light detector. It detects white visible light, which contains all the colours of the rainbow from red to violet. This visible light corresponds to a wavelength range of 400 – 700 nanometers (nm) and a colour range of violet through red. The existence of a rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, a rainbow does not exist. You don’t look at a rainbow – as a human you create it. Your sight shows you the form of an object that exists within the limits of human perception and your brain interprets what you see.

Sound: Among young, healthy humans, the range of audio frequencies that can be picked up by the human ear is usually given as 20 — 20,000 Hz; however, the upper limit on that range tends to decrease pretty steadily with age. Your ‘absolute threshold’ of hearing is the quietest sound your ears are capable of picking up. This threshold varies from person to person, changes with age, and is largely dependent on the frequency of the noise being perceived and the ambient noise. It is also quieter than you might think. Normally it is also only 1% of the sound that is ‘out there’. That is of course not so true for the city dweller who develops personal screens to eliminate noise. Wild birds in cities have to sing 20% louder just to be heard over the traffic. This effort means they don’t live as long as ‘country birds’.

Touch: The sense of touch is complex, and involves the detection of everything from pressure, to itchiness, to temperature. Most of these sensations and their mechanisms remain poorly understood, they involve a range of nerves in the skin capable of responding to various forms of stimuli. Receptors in our bodies are not distributed uniformly, our fingers, lips and sexual organs have more touch receptors than other parts of our body.

Taste and smell: Researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 57 wine experts to give their opinions on what appeared to be two glasses of wine; one red, and one white. The wines were actually the exact same white wine; the red had simply been mixed with red food colouring. The experts proceeded to describe the red wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds, noting, for example, its jamminess, or the flavours imparted by its crushed red fruit. Incredibly, not a single expert noticed that it was a white wine.

So taste sensations for example can be over-ruled by information from another sense. Both taste and smell are determined by receptors on our tongues and upper digestive systems. These send messages to the brain by using receptor proteins that recognise ligands belonging to one of the five taste modalities: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami.

What does it mean when you can smell the colour blue? Some lucky people have a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a colour.

Sixth Sense

Many humans lucky enough to have their basic needs fulfilled are undergoing a philosophical shift which understands that consciousness, not matter, is the core component of our interconnected reality.

Given that ‘science’ seems to lead how humanity views the world, it should provide an unbiased and progressive description of our reality. Science though has been hijacked by a false philosophy of reality called materialism, so it has not ethically done its job of bringing spiritual truth into the mainstream mindset. Our culture is in a difficult place where many people are not as interested in ‘truth’ as much as having their own version of it validated by others.

Indigenous cultures and traditions have known about consciousness for centuries; however for the first time in our known history this new/ancient awareness is being embraced on a planetary scale. Hopefully it will reach a tipping point before the forces of ‘capitalist extractivism’ destroy all of the indigenous peoples, and their ancestral wisdom, in land grabbing for their resources.

Quantum physics, psychology, ecology and parapsychology have conclusively shown why we need to move to a post-materialist era of human consciousness. Scientists and laymen alike are awakening to this fact through not just the art of science, but also the art of experience. Simply, with the right type of perspective, we can open our minds and hearts to the symbolism that exists in our day-to-day experience, as well as the subtle and explicit synchronicities that occur throughout our lives.

Quantum science shows us that the atoms in our bodies are 99.999% empty space and are none of the ones we are born with, but they have all originated in a star. We are not nearly as solid as we think! Any interaction between our selves and our environment is an interaction between ‘fields of force’ or ‘matrices of energy’. We are essentially beings made of energy.

Scientists have begun to start figuring out what is really going on inside the cells of our bodies when we sense electrical fields. Qigong, Reiki, chi exercises and a multitude of other healing and spiritual practices are heavily based on being able to feel the energy that is flowing through all living things.

All living cells tend to have electrical fields along with a great many different animals are able to react and sense electrical fields. Even some types of human cells will move in response to an electric field during wound healing.

All of these led to a team of researchers to start wondering what was really going on inside of our cells that detect these energy fields. At the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, Min Zhao, had been leading a team of researchers in attempting to discover the first ‘sensor mechanism’ that resides in living cells that can detect electric fields. We all have ‘electric senses’.

There are more senses that reside in the human body than the traditional five. People are finally discovering an entirely new set of electric senses that may lead to an explanation of why some people are able to feel the flow of energy in other living things. Min Zhao stated that,

We believe there are several types of sensing mechanisms, and none of them are known.  We now provide experimental evidence to suggest one which has not been even hypothesized before, a two-molecule sensing mechanism.”

Other researchers including Zhao have been studying the different electric senses within animals in order to help pinpoint what causes us to react when we come into contact with any other energy field.

They have been focusing their research on both small and large animals. The small animals cells are amoebas and the large animals cells they studied are human.  They have already found out that there are specific proteins and genes that will move in a certain directions when exposed to an electric field.

Feeling energy or electric fields is more common than one might think.

“During the War in Vietnam, the American military was in search for talented, young men—trackers—that could navigate their way in stealth across the enemy terrain. Special Forces in the war department sent undercover experts to comb American Indian Reservations where they found countless brave young men who were more than adequate for the task.

Upon recruiting them, they carefully catalogued their abilities and talent’s and rapidly discovered that they were perfectly suited for the task.

Soon after the young men were recruited/enlisted, and after going through the countless rituals of joining the army, the skills and talents which were ever-present seemed to vanish. Confused the army started searching for answers and turned to some of the Native American elders who without hesitating answered how when their young men received the mandatory haircut after joining the military, they could no longer ‘sense’ the way they did before. Their almost supernatural abilities—their intuition—disappeared.

After more recruits were gathered from Native American tribes, they decided to perform tests and see what was going on, and whether ‘the length of hair’ had anything to do with their abilities.

After recruits were gathered, they let them keep their long hair and submitted them to tests in countless areas. After several tests where trackers’ with long hair competed against others with short hair, experts found how trackers with longer hair had access to something like a ‘sixth sense’ with an intuition much more reliable when compared to men with short hair”.

from: https://www.ancient-code.com/our-hair-is-an-extension-to-the-nervous-system-reason-why-native-american-indians-keep-their-hair-long/

With our modern electro-pollution in terms of mobile phone signals, wi-fi, all sorts of wavelength interference, many of us have completely lost access to our electro-sensitivities. Wild animals still retain it and for them it is a primary sense. Hunters and wildlife photographers will often purchase EMF blocking garments that allow them closer access to their prey or photographic subject. This is because in the ‘moment of excitement’ that comes before a kill (or perfect photo) creates a burst of EMF that the animal can perceive and they run away.

How to meet a plant

Plants too perceive. Under the soil their roots are usually joined to an information network of soil microorganisms classified as bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae and protozoa. Each of these groups has characteristics that define them and their functions in soil. Up to 10 billion bacterial cells inhabit each single gram of soil in and around plant roots, a region known as the rhizosphere. The  mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular host plant. The term mycorrhiza refers to the role of the fungi in the plants rhizosphere, its root system. Mycorrhiza also link plants and plant systems together.

Above the ground, plants are responsive to similar sensations as ourselves. They respond to light, sound, heat and cold and the visitations of insects for pollination and symbiosis. For example, many flowering plants excrete a hormone in reaction to a visiting bee. This creates a message for the next bee that this particular flower has ‘just been visited’.

So, part of this first mission of adopting plants where you live, is to meet a live plant in a totally sensory way.

Firstly, get yourself to a still place next to a plant of your choice. If you practice a non-dynamic form of meditation, quieten down with this. Visually enjoy the plant. Give it gratitude and thank it for being. You might enjoy studying or even drawing or painting the plant in this process of merging.

Our ability to ‘meet’ with a plant beyond this depends upon an ability to see beyond its physical form. Think about the plant and how it manifests though the seasons, visualise what it looks like through the year. Find out about it. You can put on a blindfold and gently touch it to get another insight, even with your tongue (although don’t do this with nettles etc unless you are kinky that way). Identify your plant (there are lots of apps and books etc for doing this) and research it using a search engine. Read up on its history and traditional uses and see if it is something you might integrate into your life through interaction with the plant.

In the following section ’20 Plant Friends’ I will introduce you to some of the plants I met.