Joseph Hakim Anderson

Seven Chants for Seven Plants

At the Damanhur community in Italy there is a project to record the music that plants make. Hooray for creative explorers the break open the commonly held delusion that the non-human world is non-sentient simply because its life is not like ours!

 

I have been on a parallel track, exploring an intuitive process for learning songs from plants. Working with Julie Charette-Nunn, my mentor and teacher, I am learning to listen to plants, to breathe with them and hear their songs. Through this process music and words are coming. I don't have, and don't believe I need, objective evidence that these songs literally "come from the plants." What I do assert is that they come from a partnership; not 100% mine or 100% theirs: it's a collaboration.

 

Last weekend while I was at Julie's land on Whidbey Island I was given seven chants from seven plants: nettle, apple, cedar, Douglas fir, rose (two varieties), and daffodil. They are sweet and moving and I want to share them with you!

 

Nettle:

We are healing you from outside in

We are healing you from inside out

We are healing you

This after getting a light playful sting from a nettle I touched. I've learned this is a healing sensation, stimulating the bloodflow and bringing greater awareness. So as so often happens the healing begins with a surface touch and continues with an internal response of movement and rising energy.

 

Apple:

Sacred dancer under apple tree

Apple blossom in your hair

I am calling you to care

I have my history with apple trees, and recognize a line from a Yeats poem as well. This chant is a challenge to my habitual ways of thinking about myself and I like that.

 

Cedar:

O dark one, o ancient one

I call forth from your crevices your healing power

I call forth from my crevices my healing power

O dark one, o ancient one

Connected to what I'm learning lately about Cedar: that healing can only come from who I am.

 

Douglas fir:

You bring sacred animals

Running through me

Transforming me

Healing me

Healing others through me

Sacred bear and wapiti

Bison, lion running free

Running through me

Transforming me

Healing me

Healing others through me

You bring sacred animals

This was at Julie's "power animal tree", a Douglas fir where I have encountered many creatures familiar and new.

 

Rose hips:

Rose hips, rose hips

Open up your wisdom lips

So we can see your beauty fair

We can see your beauty rare

O rose hips, rose hips

Open up your wisdom lips

So we can smell your perfume sweet

Where spirit and creation meet

O rose hips, rose hips

Open up your wisdom lips

And we will dance and we will sing

All around you in a ring

O rose hips, rose hips

Open up your wisdom lips.

As this song came to me I was embarrassedly aware of the connection between rose hips, "wisdom lips" and female labia. Julie had the same reaction and it delighted her. So here it stands.

 

Wild rose:

I want you to sing for me

I'm singing loud and clear

But the humans can't hear

I want you to sing for me

 

I want you to speak for me

I'm speaking loud and clear

But the humans can't hear

I want you to speak for me

 

I want you to be with me

Hold me with finger and thumb

And the word swill come

I want you to be with me

At Damanhur they are recording plant songs - but we aren't listening. Channeled through human energy, human voice, and human language, communication becomes possible.

 

Daffodil:

We are only here to say

Flowers blossom every day

New life blossoms every way

Breathe that in, breathe that in

 

We are only here because

Nothing stays the way it was

Nothing can and nothing does

Breathe that in, breathe that in

There were daffodils everywhere on Julie's land this weekend. I was feeling some sadness at their impermanence, the impermanence of everything, including these last few months of transformation that are so dear to me. "Breathe that in."