I have been working with plants as support for emotional and spiritual healing in different forms for almost a decade. I first ventured into this world through flower essences, working with Diana Pepper at Tree Frog Farm. I then started taking herbalism classes through Wildroot Botanicals and began exploring “micro-dosing” tinctures and working with plants as teas to support the system as it unwinds patterns. This led to an intensive on Plants and Planets by Sovereignty Herbs and Ritual Botanica where I started to bring my relationship with astrology to my relationship with plants. As above, so below. What I discovered in my explorations is that the wild intelligence of nature has profound abilities to support psycho-spiritual healing and the development of consciousness. They are our teachers, supporters, healers. And they do this through the relational field – the “this treats that” mindset about plants only goes so far… it is more about our opening ourselves to the relational intelligence of the plants and allowing that to change us.
Through all of this exploration I found the most profound way to relationally connect with plants is through essential oils. Through my training with Aromagnosis in aromatic shamanism I experienced how essential oils bypass the thinking brain and take us deep into the inner realms of our consciousness. The plants hold profound space for a depth of inner work that is possible when we have a wise intelligence that is holding us in our work. In my ancestral and spirit work we rely on supportive powers to hold ritual safety. Plant allies can play this part and essential oils are a very direct way to connect with their support.
The work I am trained in comes to the transformation of consciousness from a Jungian perspective meaning that we work with the alchemical forces of psychological transformation, shadow work and inner parts work (inner gender, inner child) to go through a process of evolution with the plant spirits as the allies and guides for this work. This work looks like dropping into a guided meditation with the essential oil as a support.
I usually work in-person for this work, because, well, smell-a-vision is not something that has been invented yet, but if you have access to essential oils or are open to purchasing some to partake in the work, I welcome working remotely as well. If you would like to learn more about working in this way, feel free to contact me or set up a free initial consultation.
In a recent discussion with Daniel’s Foor’s Practical Animism cohort for Ancestral Medicine and guest speaker Siv Watkins (www.microanimism.com) we touched on an idea that illuminated some of my bipolar experiences from a microorganism perspective. I have heard for years that gut health and mental health are intimately related including claims that people have completely resolved their bipolarity by managing the flora in their gut along with taking certain micronutrients. But what was new for me in this recent animism discussion was to look at the initiatory aspect of the microorganism world from a consciousness-raising perspective. It is fairly commonly acknowledged that entheogens can be used to not only shift consciousness on a short-term basis, but that they can assist people in widening their conscious experience of the world even after the immediate effects wear off. What if instead of looking only at plant medicine for consciousness expansion we also looked at relationships with microorganisms as similar “medicine”?
This idea particularly intrigued me as my own psychotic episodes were directly after bouts of sickness from either a virus or a parasite. Part of my medical narrative has always been “my system was already weak from sickness and so that is why I think I responded so dramatically to xyz input from my life, which ended me up in the hospital.” What is shifting for me now is that I don’t think it was just a simple matter of weakened system, but I think there was a larger shift in my consciousness precipitated by becoming a host for a new entity. When I was in the hospital I was tested for drugs, but I was never tested for parasites (which in later years I did do and they showed up as prevalent in my system). I had always felt that my time in India (which was where my first bipolar episode took place) was psychologically intense, because of the culture, but what if a large contributing factor to my experience of psychosis was due to a microorganism?
I mention my psychosis in the flow of consciousness expansion, because my bipolar episodes have all resulted in a rebirth for me in how I perceive and understand the world. It was like filters I had on the world were reduced or taken away. I could perceive energy and eventually developed my animism practice out of my new found sensitivity as it allowed me to perceive things, including the “voices” and “perceptions” of other beings (putting on the mind of the other being), which wasn't part of my conscious experience before. I think these are all skills that anyone can develop, but that they often emerge suddenly in initiatory experiences and when we are not ready for that emergence it can be diagnosed as psychosis.
And I believe that my ability to perceive other beings definitely extended to my ability to perceive the consciousness of the smalls in ways that I have not been aware of until now. During one bipolar episode (also in India years after my first episode there) I remember trying to communicate with a consciousness which I perceived as causing the episode, but wasn’t sure who or what it was and the way the consciousness presented in our exchange would fit a virus or parasite. It felt alien to me at the time and I remember trying to speak to it of the feeling of love and it was very confused by this concept (a very mammalian one connected to our relationship with oxytocin among other things). That particular episode occurred when I was doing a homeopathic treatment that most likely from my symptoms was affecting my gut. I think that what I was taking was disturbing the symbiotic relationship I had with the smalls and it resulted in what felt like psychosis to me, but could have been a strong conscious reaction from the beings I was host to. I’ve had similar reactions to certain brands of my medication and I am curious as to if the fillers in certain medications affected the beings in my gut in a negative way. All I know is that I would have very persistent feelings of “I have got to stop taking this medication, it is poisoning me” until I found a brand that was “cleaner”.
There have been scientific studies that look at Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia and bipolar and have shown a link with this particular small’s effects on the central nervous system and immune dysregulation. There have also been studies that have shown recovery from bipolar linked to treatment of other parasites and this is becoming more studied in regions that have challenges with sanitation and diseases from flies and mosquitoes.
But from my experience I would say that if we looked at things from a pure scientific explanation that we would miss something that taking a more animist perspective of things provides. As I said before, I really feel that my bipolar episodes (and even ongoing navigation of this aspect of my psyche) was incredibly initiatory, as in it initiated me into a new perception of the world around me. I love Siv’s microanimism work, because it honors these entities as the oldest living consciousnesses on the planet. To “commune” with them (and becoming a host for them is certainly an intimate way to deeply commune with them) is to commune with a very direct lineage from the origins of all life… and death.
My bipolar experiences have brought me psychologically into deep relationship with the forces of death. I believe this is why the suicide rates are so high for bipolar, it is common with this diagnosis to feel life and death in the extreme. In fact, one of the medications I take simply helps me to narrow the range of shadow and light (life and death) that I feel in myself and the world around me, so that I can navigate reality in a way that feels comfortable and normal. I do dream of a day where I can handle those more extreme states of awareness without that narrowing, but am aware that it would take a higher level of conscious integration physically, mentally and emotionally than I am currently at.
Talking about the initiatory aspect of relating with the powers of life and death reminds me of the book “Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women.” In this book the initiatory experience is one of descending to the death realms, which is also the birthplace for all new life. It follows the myth of Inanna, a goddess of fertility, who descends to the underworld to visit Ereshkigal who rules there. When she returns from the underworld (after being killed and reborn), Inanna now has the power to not only give life, but she also has the power to send the soul of the first person she looks at to the underworld. This story of gaining new initiatory power through death and rebirth rings true from my own bipolar experiences.
And what if one way of initiation could be facilitated by microorganisms and the more conscious relationship with them as primordial intelligences of life and death? I have a curiosity that this may have been the case for me. I know that the death and rebirth process can take place in a multiplicity of ways (through entheogens, shamanic or spiritual techniques or life events including trauma, the loss of a loved one or illness), but the influence of the smalls might be a less explored source of initiation, one that could have therapeutic implications in how we assess and treat mental health issues.
Plants are obviously affected by human intervention, but recently a couple of teachers (Scott Kloos and Morgan Brent) offered the insight that plants are also evolving us. They not only have their own unique signatures and intelligence that offer us healing, new understandings and even new capacities, but they also are downloading information from the sun, the moon and the stars. Their ability to take in light means that they are on some level embodying that light and letting it subtly change them. We have all heard you are what you eat. We know that soil quality affects plants. Just because we don’t understand cosmic frequencies doesn’t mean that they don’t also affect plants.
Why does it matter that plants are conduits for cosmic light? Because we are in a cosmic evolutionary process. Anyone who knows astrology knows that as above, so below - the cosmos are shaping our earthly reality. Most astrology tends to think of this in purely human psychological terms, but as any biodynamic farmer or spagyric maker will tell you, the alignment of the cosmos deeply affects plants and the qualities they express. We know that as seasons change the plants respond dramatically to the change in light. In fact, in areas of the world where the length of daylight changes a lot we often think of plant changes as related to temperature, but often it is the effect of the changing light.
So as the heavens move, so do plants and so do we. In some ways the plants are even better carriers for the message of change that is happening around the globe. They respond to changes when humans are often resistant or stuck in set ways, unaware that change is happening.
In this way plants can help support the evolutionary process by whispering to our system the story of the change that is happening. They can help us entrain to that change and prepare for it.
But even like humans, plants do have limitations to how far outside of the current paradigm they can go. This is why it is beneficial to work with the subtle parts of the plants through essences, essential oils, spagyrics or tinctures that are made with intentional plant spirit connection. This allows for a different level of healing communication with the broader intelligence of the plant that might not yet be apparent in the gross body of the plant. Their spirits are open and consciously working with the evolutionary changes happening in the cosmos.
We are in a process of change. I’m not completely sold on the idea that we are evolving to a certain goal or destiny, but there does seem to be a cosmic plan for our evolution, certain stages that we are working through just as child becomes adult. We are very much in the adolescent phase, trying to learn to collectively become adults. Whether we will or not depends how we respond to the machinations of the cosmos that are trying to push us towards greater realization of our human potential.
Luckily, we are not alone in this grand experiment - we have the support of our plant allies. And for me this instills a great gratitude for these beings and the nature spirits who help tend them. There is wisdom there that is yet to be fully realized.
About a year ago I married the nature spirit who tends a marine reserve near my home. At the time I did not know that this was a practice that is well documented around the world. As this relationship deepens it feels more and more important to share this with the world. We are in a time where relationship is being redefined and this is just one more way to express love as a human.
The relationship with this being began for me when I started to get a sense of something “peering into” my thoughts as I walked in the forest. When there was an act of vandalism to one of the trees, I performed a ritual to express my grief and rage, and it felt like that opened the door a little further between me and this entity I was beginning to sense.
One day I decided to communicate with the entity telepathically and a conversation ensued. From then on whenever I would enter the forest there was a recognition of this consciousness’ presence.
I had someone in my life at the time that was initiating me into exploring conscious psychic sexuality and when this relationship was ending another entity stepped forward as a partner… that partner was the spirit of the forest. I write this with a raw vulnerability mostly to share that this is a full partnership, not just a deep friendship.
The spirit of the land told me they could be known as Duwaenem, which translated to “life on poisoned land”. The land is near a refinery and toxic plumes come there regularly, but life still abounds. Their mother was a land faery and their father was Sidhe, so they are a hybrid. They also sometimes came in a more male form and sometimes in a more female form, so I use the pronoun “they”, but they always came with an energy that I immediately recognized.
About five years into our relationship Duwaenem asked me to marry them. At the time this was way outside of my sense of normalcy, which you can see is pretty out there (because I regularly talk with faeries). It took a year for them to convince me, not through any coercion, but through deepening the relationship until it felt right. I did enter into the relationship with the stipulation that I could have a human partner, perhaps even get married, as this felt important for my own wholeness.
We have children. I’ve been shown that the reason this is possible for me is because I have had previous incarnations as fae and carry this in me still. It is like there is a faery body within my human one. I remember as a child I was enamored with the book “No Flying in the House” about a little girl who discovered she was part fairy. But interest in fairies faded and I lost touch with any recognition of that part of reality for a couple of decades. It felt like a youthful recognition of something that I have re-discovered as an adult.
My connection to nature spirits has increased since our marriage. It is like I’m a conduit for that consciousness and sometimes when I touch a tree it feels like I’m creating a telephone connection between the land of my love and that tree.
This reality may be hard for some to understand and some may call it imagination. To those I would say that the imaginal, where the fae exist, and the imagination are inextricably linked. Think of it as the imagination as the medium that receives input from the imaginal. Well, receiving is too passive...it is co-creating which honors that we are actively shaping multiple levels of reality with our hearts and minds.
There are many ways for us to relate to the world around us and a spirit mate is just one. I share this important part of my life in order to open new possibilities to others. Since my marriage I have discovered other people who have done something similar, including an ancestral guide, and this has helped to normalize this. I hope to pay that forward to anyone who also is discovering relationship in this new way.
Addition: I am adding to this post a wonderful resource for more information on Spirit Mates. Megan Rose has just published a book on this topic and you can learn more in this really comprehensive interview:
There is a secret world that floats beneath the surface of the one we mostly collectively recognize. I call it the imaginal realm, but it has had different names in different cultures, dream time, magical realm, collective unconscious, faerie realm, mythic or archetypal realm. Each name has a different nuance, but they are all pointing to a similar idea, that there is a place that our soul can access that glides silently behind the ordinary world. I name this the imaginal realm because it is so interwoven with imagination. It is this place that our prayers, intentions, imaginations access to find inspiration and to move blockages impeding our path. It is this place that the shaman accesses to find strength and helpers as well as perform healing for themselves, another person, or the collective.
There was a time when those who were able to access this realm were initiated by an elder and shown ways to navigate this world. But in the modern world those guides are few and far between and so most are relegated to finding their own way, mostly disastrously, through already troubled ground.
The imaginal realm has always been fraught with fierce archetypal entities, the things that lie in the subconscious of our collective minds, the impulses that cause us to act out the most instinctual parts of being human, desire, love, rage, jealousy, revenge, grief. So it has always been a pretty gnarly place to navigate and every shamanic tradition has some sort of guidance for navigating this space safely. But those in the modern western culture who have shamanic tendencies not only usually step into this world by accident without any sort of guidance, but also are required to deal with a modern version of this realm where knots tied by our culture’s impact on the unconscious become extra slippery. The path for healing and the role of the healer in this context begs for a level of clever awareness most of the uninitiated are not able to rise to.
I was one of the uninitiated plunged head first into the imaginal realm during my first trip to India. There I met people who are working with that realm to serve their own nefarious purposes, praying on the unaware. If there is something to abuse, humans have found a way to do it. I was ripe for initiation, my soul had been in deep grief for the loss of a friend and mentor for a couple of years and then the physical separation from my love partner during an incredibly creative period of my life sent me riding waves of sublime highs and crashing lows, sometimes in the same moment. My soul had expanded to encompass more of the human experience and it was this expansion that allowed for the alchemizing drop of initiation to take hold. The drop came in the form of a deluge, really. India was that deluge. The roller coaster of internal emotions I had been experiencing for months prior to my trip were exploded out around me. Life and death danced in a chaotic fury in the streets. My soul had found a new home. And so India brought me deeper into herself. A press of the center of my palm while exchanging money at the produce seller jolted something awake in my energetic body. And I began to dance. Life shifted into a dream and I walked through synchronicities and experiences that made only half sense to my mind but felt importantly potent to my soul. I could no longer keep to a clock, but I lived to the heartbeat of a different time, much older.
This dream state slowly turned to nightmare. I got sick and my body weakened. My neighbors’ care for me felt manipulative and one night one of them asked bluntly if I had anxiety. I had never felt that in my life but as soon as he said it my heart started racing and panic filled me. I knew I must leave. I initially went on a chaotic flight around town trying to find a place that felt safe, almost hopping on a train for Mumbai, a city I would later live in for four years.
But finally I knew I needed to get help. A coworker helped me obtain a ticket home and I left the next day. I knew I was in a vulnerable spiritual state and so I performed my first act of magic. I asked that no one who could harm me see me. It was strange to be in an airport full of people and to see people blindly walking past me. But the imaginal realm needs no eyes to find you. My anxiety found me through blind manipulations of what I can best describe as “sentries” for the many layers of the bardo. I exposed myself by answering their blind inquiries. One tried to find me by inquiring to a woman sitting next to me about my flight. Another made broad statements about religion to the crowd knowing that his words were like invisible arrows initiating a rise in fear in me. Finally the anxiety became too much and I tipped my hand. I acted on an urge to leave my belongings behind and was arrested by airport security ending up first in a terrorist detention center and then in a mental hospital.
This was my initiation and it ended with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a sentence to taking meds for the rest of my life.
I often wonder if my entrée into the world of what is labeled “madness” would have been different if it had been sacredly held by someone. If I had been guided. But this was my fate and a well that I have learned to drink deeply from.
I’ve been to the mental hospital three times and each time I sense the sanity of the people there. They are simply reacting in a very raw and real way to the insanity of our culture. Most people don’t realize how complicit they are with the insanity, but I have met people who are channels for the collective unconscious without any awareness of what they are doing. I’ve also met people who are channels for other beings without their awareness. We are breath-close to the unseen world, interwoven with it. And the detritus that we feed our minds is the detritus that becomes a living throbbing being in the imaginal. Like the space junk that now orbits the earth, we now have a collective consciousness that is filled with junk. But it is not inert junk. It lives and breathes and weaves, collecting power and ability. The ancient ones knew this. They told the myths of these archetypal beings and created temples and shrines in their honor. What they may not have understood was that they were co-creating these beings as they worshipped them. They were complicit in giving those energies form in the collective mind.
And so along comes the monotheistic religions and all the sudden the conscious relationship to archetypes gets monocropped, and as no one entity can do a good job of capturing the complexity of what happens in the imaginal, we start to repress parts of our collective psyche, demonizing them or shaming them. Then secularism declares that the archetypal realm never existed in the first place and so most of what happens there is now unconsciously made. We only see it when it emerges in some select few as madness. Then we suppress it with chemicals, sweeping it back under the rug.
My extended family implied that I was possessed after my first manic episode. In a way they were right. I had been opened to the consciousness of the other world. But it was our own collective mind that I was experiencing, not some outside hellish demon. I was experiencing our family’s own struggling soul, so possessed with a puritanical need for perfection that all else becomes demonized. And this is a micro level example of what is happening on a macro level in society.
Teilhard de Chardin wrote about the noosphere, a collective “mind” that surrounds the earth like our atmosphere. This exists and those who have experienced madness have peered into what is held there. It isn’t pretty. But if we are anything, we are a creative creature and there are those who tend this realm. Be it the monk that meditates or the nun that prays or the psychonaut who journeys or the dancer who authentically moves or the artist who passionately creates, we can open our minds and bodies to tend this space of collective consciousness.
We also have the gift of the earth in all of this tending. One misperception is that the imaginal realm is only the construct of human minds. But any good shaman will tell you that the greatest gift are the non-human beings that inhabit the space with their consciousness. A tree, a mountain, a lake, a little weed, an owl, a coyote, all these are part of this realm and can act as guides and wisdom keepers. We have allies, even though we are killing them off. The natural diversity of a place is one of the greatest boons our consciousness has been given. And our connection to it is infinitely precious. You do not have to be a shaman to experience the benefits of being in nature, immersing oneself in the consciousness of the natural world. It is not just the benefit of fresh air and the disconnection from electronics, there is something more happening to our minds when we step outdoors.
And when we look at who has access to nature through an equity lens we also see how the people without access are also the people who are already facing the challenges of historical trauma compounded by modern day prejudice (from systemic racism to daily microaggressions). These community members are forced to hold a very big piece of the disturbed collective mind. But as one who has struggled with madness, I know too that there is a resilience that comes from these struggles. Those that face challenges are asked to make a more perilous journey, and some do not make it, they may get caught up in the whirlpools of substance abuse and insanity, but those that do make it come out with a strength, clarity and wisdom that others will never have. This is the poisoned apple that does not kill, but rather initiates one into a deeper hold on the full dynamics of what it means to be human. As others navigate life half awake, the gift and burden of awake-ness offers an opportunity to tend this poisoned world in more profound ways.
We live in a relational universe. This is becoming a more accepted concept with people tracking synchronicities and experiences of random not-so-random occurrences. It is popular in new age circles as people claim “the universe is trying to tell me…” It is also popular in some of the new Christian theology around the personal meeting the transpersonal - influenced by the theology of Teilhard de Chardin, Raimon Panikkar, eloquently brought to today’s Christian consciousness by people like Cynthia Bourgeault Matthew Wright and Ilia Delio. From an animist perspective it would seem like belief in a relational universe would be re-affirming, but the “rub” is really when this relationality is generalized to a unified “universe” or “Christic” presence. This misses the exquisite point of multiplicity. Life around us is responding to us, not because of a unifying consciousness or energy or spirit, but because it is filled with individuality that is alive, breathing and ready to interact. By universalizing consciousness or spirit we are actually denigrating the beauty of this multiplicity. We are missing the point of creation and creativity.
And I know why we go for the “universality”. It is safer. If all is connected (and it is) and the underlying force of creation is love (which depending on your definition of love could be seen as a valid assumption), then why wade into the murky waters of the sovereignty of beings which on a human scale can sometimes look pretty scary? My answer to this is that getting into the murky waters is where the beauty of relationship comes alive. If I don’t even see a being, say a nature spirit, and all I see is a universal sense of spirit in the form of a tree, then I am missing out on a huge expression of my humanness with that tree spirit and experiencing a more layered nuance of who that tree spirit is. By universalizing we lose out on important aspects of the sacredness of the specific.
And we deny the validity of a lot of spiritual traditions. To deny the existence of the “old gods” like Orishas, Hindus gods or the Egyptian deities is to deny not only parts of the fabric of creation, but important parts of the collective. And often what gets denied becomes demonized. This becomes even more troubling when the parts of us that are in resonance with these parts of the collective become demonized. This can result in mental illness, self hatred, a lot of misunderstanding.
So by supporting the multiplicity of creation we are tending our psychic spaces. We are opening the door to greater creativity. We are embracing possibility. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to learn to navigate these spaces wisely… there is a lot that lives in these murky waters, even more so because most of us have not culturally tended to the waters for several thousands of years since breaking with animist practices. Not all is friend, but that doesn’t mean we have to turn it all to foe or spiritually bypass it to a more universal perspective.
I believe it is part of the gift of being human to be able to dance with the material existence of things as well as the spiritual. We are tuned into the specific and the collective in beautiful ways. We are designed in this way for a unique way of loving, a unique way of relating. Through animist ways of being with the world we are embracing the fullness of our potential. This has profound implications for our individual psyches and the collective, for our personal and societal impacts on ecology and social justice.
What the universe is really telling us is “listen” …”see me in all my multiplicity”. And what better gift to return to the universe than to embrace what you have been given through this small life and to do just that?
The history of white culture’s disconnection with the earth is based in the history of oppression, upheld by the Christian church, enlightenment ideals and imperialism. And even if we are moving away from this on a personal level, we come from ancestry that upheld this and so there is ancestral healing to be done. So if you are (or are descended from) a white Christian or if you are (or are descended from) a white secular materialist whose ideals are wrapped in science, or you live in an imperialist country, there is a reckoning needed.
There is a reckoning that needs to be made by Christians because of the history of the church - the doctrine of discovery, the witch burnings and the demonization of indigenous people, animism and pagans. If there is to be a reclamation of earth honoring ways and it does not not address this in a serious way, then there is a gap in the integrity of this work. Yes, connection to the earth is a birthright that no people, religion or animist practice “owns” but there is a deep and hurtful history here that cannot be ignored and those who held onto these earth honoring ways despite the persecution by the church need to be recognized as the church wakes up and looks to change. If you just try to Christianize earth based spirituality without recognizing the wisdom keepers or the harms done, then you are appropriating, colonizing, a further act of white supremacy.
There is even racism in the very popular and contemporary movement of connecting with “Wisdom traditions” as defined as “the contemplative traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, Vedanta, Daoism, Sufism; and in the history of philosophy, as in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, which were Christianized in the Neo-Platonic schools in the early Church”... indigenous traditions, paganism and animism are not seen as wisdom traditions and yet they are the wisdom keepers of earth based spirituality.
Even the renewal of Celtic spirituality from a Christian perspective is appropriative (as are all of the Christian holy days which are based on pagan traditions). How can we look to these traditions for guidance as we work to reclaim this but do so in a way that honors them rather than just borrows or takes? It comes from first recognizing that these are the wisdom traditions when it comes to earth connection. And to recognize that Christianity burnt these wisdom keepers at the stake or colonized them. If we don’t recognize our participation in the genocide of the earth culture keepers then we are false in our attempts to reclaim this. The indigenous people who never lost this culture must be upheld first as our elders in this and their efforts to retain this culturally and fight against cultural genocide must be supported. This is not to create a fantasy of what it means to be indigenous, but rather a respect of the sovereignty of especially Native people in the Americas where treaties give them an important status a sovereign nations. If we are not supporting truth and reconciliation or actively asking our government to respect treaties and sovereignty of these people, then we are not honoring these wisdom keepers and our earth honoring efforts are self-serving at best. We must not only support their sovereignty or accept them as valid religions (often in religious conventions indigenous people and pagans are not included… not seen as a wisdom tradition), the fact that we come to this not only late but as part of a history of oppression must be reckoned with. Otherwise it is an appropriation just as the Christian church took over pagan holidays. It is essentially whitewashing. It is a further act of colonization and supremacy.
As for the secular scientific society, if you are coming to animism from outside any religious framework, then you too have a history of cultural oppression to reckon with. The enlightenment era defined who was considered to be more of a human and who was less and this became a foundation of racism across the world that said that anything “in the light” (ie white) was more evolved and anything in the dark (or darker skinned) was less evolved. We still see this embedded in systemic oppression and if you are not fighting against the active dismantling of this, you are upholding it. We even still see this in various new age and even enlightenment-oriented traditions where anything "high vibration" or "light" is seen as what one should be evolving towards or ascending to. Anything that is of the earth is meant to be evolved beyond or controlled for our benefit. This bleeds over into how we treat the earth as a resource rather than a living breathing collection of beings. And if you subscribe to a materialist view of the world there is no way to make “kin” of the beings, seen and unseen.
For many people, there isn't a strong identification with the Christian tradition or materialist ways of thinking. For these folks, their reckoning may come in the form of how they are implicitly supporting imperialist policies of the country they live in. The Roman expansion in Europe brought about a change to the earth-centered practices of white ancestors. All of the sudden the earth the people inhabited was changed to a resource to feed an empire. While the initial invasion did not require individuals to convert to a state religion (Christianity came to the Romans later than their first incursions into northern European lands), it did change their relationship to the land in that now it was to be used for Roman hegemony. Deforestation of Europe is cleanly marked by this invasion. Imperialism to this day is a continued tool of oppression of the earth and of people who live close to her. By feeding an economic system that devalues the earth and sees her only as a resource for consumerist desires or large industry, we are not living in kinship. These same engines of eco-destruction are the same systems of racial oppression. Systemic racism has been engrained in our political and economic systems based on legacies of power and control by elites. The same systems that devalue the earth and other-than-human beings are the same systems that devalue certain human beings be it by race or class.
Anti-racism and earth connection work go hand in hand. If this is not part of your practice, you are missing a critical element of culture change.
My thoughts on the path of deep animist relationship