When You Heal the Earth, You Heal Yourself

Last year, the Siberian American shaman, Jade Grigori, gave me a key shamanic teaching: that when you seek to heal yourself, you must heal the Earth, because we are the Earth. This short essay revisits some of that original conversation from May 2021, and shares some insights from my own issues with physical pain and its surprising responsiveness to my campaigns to cut down the Asian bittersweet vines strangling our woods.

It was Jade who taught me about the explicit link between healing the Earth and healing yourself. Jade is the Siberian American shaman who has taught me a lot over the years about shamanism. We have been friends since the early 2000’s when we both lived in Sedona, Arizona. Though I confess to being a bit of a lazy daisy student! (I wasn’t really a student in any formal sense, just an occasional appreciator of his gifts).

[from my May 2021 interview with Jade Wah’oo Grigori] “Whatever our state or condition is, is expressed as a state or condition of the Earth. And whatever the condition of the Earth is, is experienced as our state and condition. So it kinda like bridges, so that as we set forth a healing of the Earth, we heal ourselves. And if we seek to heal ourselves, we must heal the Earth, because we are the Earth.”

I confess that as I struggled with physical pain in the year since I learned this from Jade, I have not applied this teaching in any deliberate way, despite the fact I have a very blatant metaphor staring me in the face! As the pain has limited my ability to work, binding and constraining me, getting worse every time I think I’ve found a pocket of freedom so that I feel like it’s closing in on me, and sometimes literally cinching tight like a strap across my knee or down my hip–the Asian bittersweet vine is doing the very same thing to the trees and shrubs in our forest.

But in the past month or so, as I’ve gotten over my reluctance and fears about going into the woods alone to cut down vines, I’ve noticed something. Every time I cut a patch of vines, I feel significantly better afterwards! The pain comes back, usually by the next day. But I’m beginning to think Jade is speaking not just in metaphoricals but literals. I have a lot more work to do on our woods, but it’s really giving me pause.

The rest of that excerpt is interesting too, and I’ll share it below. For context, we were talking about a beautiful blue macaw feather that he gave to me during a healing ceremony many years ago. The feather is invested with Grandfather Fire in its feminine aspect (the feather being blue and yellow, whereas the masculine aspect uses a blue and red feather) as well as with my own life force energy, which empowers the feather as a tool for purification. Specifically, it acts almost like a divining rod, pointing me to places on the Earth which need healing in order that I might find healing. Honestly, I had forgotten that part until I went back to find the clip. Like I said, I’m not a very good student!

[from May 2021 interview with Jade Wah’oo Grigori] “So in a way, there is a little bit of a mandate with this, is what I’m hearing you say,” I said. “There is,” he said. “Interesting,” I said. “And so the fact that I didn’t know that consciously, I’m just curious. Do think that this, since I have a very strong connection with this [the feather] has probably guided me subconsciously to places where healing can happen for both me and the Earth?” “No doubt,” he said.

When I asked him to clarify where the power in the blue macaw feather (or any shamanic object) resides, he explained that the object is invested with my life force power together with Spirit, like air in a balloon.

[from May 2021 interview with Jade Wah’oo Grigori] “If you would imagine that you blew up a balloon. All that air is part of your air, so that’s you in there. Only here we’re not dealing with air, we’re dealing with power, life force charge,” he said. “Ah,” I said. “So your life force charge of your soul is invested in that feather, which enables Spirit to have a residing place. Because Spirit requires the embodied presence of power to be known and present.”

This combination of an object and a strong life force energy provides a place for Spirit to reside in the world. I think that this is one of the basic fundamentals of shamanic technology! Just as sound requires atmosphere in order to be heard (because you can’t hear sound in a vaccum), Spirit is frequency that must be transmitted through soul to be known in the world.

[from my May 2021 interview with Jade Wah’oo Grigori] “Spirit is frequency,” he said, and then sung a clear tone. “And the medium through which Spirit transmits is soul. Soul you can imagine as a membrane, like a balloon, filled not with air but with life force charge. And so the more intensely charged your life force is within that membrane (the soul), the more dynamic does your spirit sing its song.”

Falling in love with native plants and ecology helped me to work up the resolve to tackle the Asian bittersweet vines by myself (Michael has way too much on his plate to help much). Now, as I move through the underbrush, I go slowly, ducking around or cutting my way through the brambles–multiflora rose, greenbrier, blackberries–keeping an eye out for spiderwebs, making noise to flush out any creatures so that we avoid any unwanted confrontations (with bears or snakes or skunks!). Tracing the Asian bittersweet vines down from their dense green leafy foliage up high, I seek the vines as thick as my finger, sometimes as thick as my wrist. I cut with my loppers, or sometimes with my folding hand saw, as close to the ground as I can. This year, I’m not using poison, mostly because I hate it, but also because I’ve found many permanently dead vines that Michael cut in years past. They don’t always regenerate. I’m following up with the vines I cut earlier this year, pulling off any new suckers and shoots when I see them. We’ll see if this works over time. But I suspect that cutting them at the height of summer during a heat wave rather than in the spring helps kill them outright.

While entering the thicket is a slow process, making the cuts is swift, and after that the results are rapid and dramatic! Within a week, masses of leaves high up in the trees are turning brown. Within a month, the dead vines create an opening in the canopy that lets through a surprising amount of light! Next year, the trees will put on new growth in the space created by the vines’ absence. I feel a growing sense of courage and resolve as I tackle our woods. My fear, helplessness and overwhelm recedes. Perhaps this too is part of the medicine.

Anyone out there trying to work with Earth healing and personal healing without an invested blue macaw feather might have a slightly different experience than I have, but surely the overarching principle applies: Heal the Earth and you heal yourself. If you are interested, you could talk more about this with Jade: https://jadegrigori.com/.

PS – The featured image for this post was taken by me after I pointed the feather straight at a vine-covered tree in our back lot and identified my next liberation project! The feather almost literally pointed itself. But when I went to try to get to it, I smelled a skunk, and backed off… lol. Maybe tomorrow.

PPS – I did go out the next day and cut down all the vines! The skunk and I kept our distance. I smelled him a little bit, but I was singing and talking and just trying to keep our boundaries.

Until next time!

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