I’ve noticed there has been an interesting trend with Neptune’s passage through Pisces correlating to a marked rise in what I’ve referred to as “pseudo-spirituality”; the *appearance* of something looking or sounding “spiritual” when it’s actually….not. So often a premise, philosophy, etc. gives off a false glamour – yes, as in the faerie kind – designed to allure; to hypnotize and captivate, but it offers very little to nothing in the way of true substance when broken down. With Saturn in Capricorn now marching toward its third and final sextile this year w/ Neptune in Pisces (exact on November 8, 2019), cutting the nonsense and separating the real from the bull in this regard is utterly en vogue at the moment.
I’ve written before about how this astrological alignment correlates to a sense of sane & grounded spirituality, but these days with earth-worship (why hello Saturn; our most terrestrial of planets!) becoming so popular I think we need to differentiate what it means to truly revere the sacred earth rather than just *appear* to worship it. There are many things that prompt my desire to broach this subject, but the most recent was when I came upon a booth selling things like crystals, incense, and essential oils along with blessed white sage and palo santo at a local country fair.
Why was this triggering, you ask? Because as of recent there is such a demand within the New Age, contemporary “shamanic”, and neo-pagan communities for these sacred plants they’re now being grossly over-harvested. How can it be true earth worship if we’re supposedly “all about the plants” and yet using them in our own personal spiritual practice when we’re not doing our due diligence to ensure they’re being sustainably and responsibly harvested? I’m not sure how it got to be this way, either – the fundamental foundations of most earth-based spiritual Paths (whether more in alignment with traditional indigenous ways or neo-pagan lineages) entails making use of what’s available in our local environment and developing a personal relationship with the plants that grow in our own backyard. Why and how have we lost this critically important context?
This is the hazard of people blindly exploring spiritual “trends” while failing to take the time to truly understand the root foundations they are built upon – is it any wonder that people are crying out about appropriation, colonialism, and capitalism in response? When it concerns spirituality – and far be it from me to police anyone’s personal Path which I believe is something strictly between the individual and Divinity alone – talking the talk is one thing, but walking it is something else entirely. Anyone can pay lip service to an ideal without actually taking the time and effort to check themselves regarding how they are applying it, and this is something we should all find universally problematic.
With sage plants in particular, what also puzzles me – besides how people have latched onto this herb as if it were the only etheric cleanser available – is why people don’t just grow their own. Seriously; sage is a hardy perennial in many climates that will grow back year after year – even if it’s too cold in our location to keep it outside all year long, it can be grown in pots and brought inside during the winter months. We can get years of service out of a single plant if we learn how to take care of it properly. We can even take cuttings off of it to grow whole new plants. Or just grow it as an annual and harvest & dry it before the cold & snow start blowing.
What’s that; you say you kill every plant you come in contact with? I realize this is going to be controversial and I certainly don’t mean this in any sort of jerky elitist way, but in all seriousness I do have to be real: Please rethink your spirituality if it revolves around reverence for plants & animals and yet you can’t/won’t tangibly show care for the land; specifically when a plant is being over-commercialized and over-consumed to where it has become a matter of grow your own or do without it.
Again, this is the difference between *saying* one believes in the *ideal* of Nature’s sacredness vs. having such reverence for it that one will bother to educate themselves and actually toil in order to ensure they are authentically walking their talk in this regard. I’ve heard cockamamie pseudo-spiritual ideas like the concept of only eating with one’s hands to get closer to the spirits of the plants we’re consuming, but if we’re *that* concerned about getting spiritually closer to the earth, then instead of focusing on nonsensical things like silverware usage wouldn’t it instead behoove us to learn how to grow a vegetable garden? 🤷♀️ It takes time and energy to raise a plant for our own consumption; whether we’re talking organic farm-to-table dining, medicinal usage, sacred smoke cleansing, or as a component of magick. But the sweat equity we expend preparing and fortifying the soil and raising that plant ourselves both establishes a sense of sacred reciprocity with the earth and gives us a tangible and personal connection to our spirituality that makes that plant’s holy Medicine all the more potent. While we might not all be green-thumb gardeners, it is important to take the time to learn about our plants and how we use them to – at the bare minimum – ensure we’re living in harmony with the land and our environment as much as humanly possible if our spiritual Path claims to respect Nature.
Regarding Palo Santo, the trees this wood is obtained from are endangered and it should only be harvested when trees or branches die of natural causes. And while we’re on this subject I should also mention Frankincense resin, which comes from an endangered tree as well. Frankincense is harvested by making cuts in the tree’s trunk and this damage makes it more susceptible to disease &/or predation from pests, which can in turn kill the tree. For both Palo Santo & Frankincense, if we insist upon using then it’s very important we obtain from sources that engage in responsible harvesting practices. If we can’t find a good ethical source or the carbon footprint involved in getting to our door is massive (which is the case for most of us since the trees only grow in very select locales), then please consider other alternatives. Remember that both indigenous peoples & pagans the world over have known for thousands of years how to make use of whatever Mother Earth provided in their local environment – we can consult any manual regarding the metaphysical properties of plants and come up with a whole host of potential alternatives that will suit our purposes without doing irreparable harm to the land. The core of any earth-based spirituality is to respect, protect, and live in harmony with flora and fauna and if we’re not doing this where the rubber meets the road, then our spiritual practice isn’t very legit now is it?