Every month in this Year of Truth series I wait until the last minute to write the piece as it is marinating in me. I am okay with this because creative pursuits are a subtle and energetic relationship to life that have their own rhythm. And because truth is as much a physical resonance in the body as it is an awakening in the mind, listening for it is becoming my lived art.
Back in January, I felt the aspects of biomimicry that I’d want to write about in September were sacred geometry (trees, leaves, bark, reptilian or human skin), and seasonal moments to celebrate like the summer and winter solstice and the spring and fall equinox. I had attended an incredible winter solstice celebration at a local Audubon society which left me mesmerized by the lively fire sparks swimming through the air synchronistically like a school of minnows finely tuned to one another. The geometry of this was a small example of the fractal genius nature expresses in everything from ferns and peacock feathers to snowflakes and crystals.
When I think of biomimicry I think of tech industries figuring out ways to profit from and appropriate the gifts of nature rather than witnessing and holding these gifts in reverence. It’s no wonder, given the definition of biomimicry as:
The design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes.
I have no doubt that there are countless scientists who utterly adore the natural world for all its limitless inspiration, and I know much too little about tech developments to weigh in on the boundaries or lack thereof in the relationship their efforts may have to the spiritual essence of nature, but we can do better to appreciate and honor the mysteries of the natural world around us, sustaining us and all life.
Now, after having had the wonderful experience of listening to Robin Wall Kimmerer speak about What Does the Earth Ask of Us? I am able to disengage any fears I have on behalf of the Earth (about profiteering or appropriation) from the fortified resolve I currently feel to align my response-ability with the gifts I receive from her. This image of leaves that Dr. Kimmerer shared in her lecture is both an example of sacred geometry (especially if looked at with a magnifying lens) and an example of honoring the spiritual essence of these great beings–with a sky blue backdrop and an auric glow around each carefully held representative of the whole.
Biomimicry first came to my attention through a TED talk I watched about 10 years ago by the founder of the Biomimicry Institute. Here is a quote from her website:
Consider the intricate interliving that characterizes whole systems, communities like tidal marshes or saguaro forests. In ensemble, living things maintain a dynamic stability, like dancers in an arabesque, continually juggling resources without waste.”
–Janine Benyus, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
The idea of dynamic stability and not wasting (anything) is extremely inspiring to me. And, with the truths of my heart chords strummed awake by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s messages of “raise a garden, raise a ruckus” and “give the Branson prize to the trees”, and “the generous resilience of the plants show us how to get back up and keep going”, I am ready to feel more humbly aware of the gifts our Mother Earth gives us and, like a petulant child coming to her senses, more carefully attend to my responsibility to her.
I truly was not going to make this post a report of Dr. Kimmerer’s work, but her years of intimately observing nature and conducting scientific research are the best example I can think of for expressing to nature that she is seen, appreciated and loved — a dynamic and sacred practice we can all try to imitate each new day. As a few women shared in the small group breakout (everyone with first names beginning with the letter K was a woman), Robin’s words are like wind at our backs, supporting the truth in our bones to get going in the work that needs doing.
Touching the earth in gratitude each day takes but a moment. This builds on itself into a practice of reciprocity. Breathing with nature, with our fascinating, adaptive, resilient brethren, we learn how to give and receive. And while this giving and receiving practice may have begun in kindergarten, it is a skill that we may never perfect, so we must keep trying with the best teachers alive.
If our ancestors could easily name and be nourished by 100 different plant species when humans collectively understood the natural world to be sacred, and today we can easily name and be zombified by 100 different corporation species–that, as Dr. Kimmerer says, “have more legal rights than birch trees or blue jays,” what is it going to take for us, together, to each do our part in the Great Turning, expanding upon and honoring the Rights of Nature?