Magnolia is the sign of Spring for me. Sure, crocus comes out earlier - but they are more like a precursor of Spring, a brightly colored teaser to let us know we have some more ways to go before we can fully let our guard (and winter coat along with our hypochondriacal tendencies) down.
As the glory of magnolia is fading and the anticipation for cherry blossom is swelling in the air, I think of where I am today and how I relate to the world, and how my existence as this particular human being is influenced by so many factors. I am an immigrant from Japan, and I have been living in the occupied Lenape Territory on Turtle Island, known to most of us as Brooklyn New York, for almost 20 years.
The way my heart squeaks both in joy and nostalgia with the idea of pink sea of cherry blossom petals is strongly influenced by where I am now, and where I am not. The bittersweetness can only be felt as there is a sense of loss, a fading memory of my childhood along with the ways in which my people live; I am far from my homeland. The fondness to stand under the linden tree in bloom, however, is rather a newly developed pleasure seeking behavior I cultivated in Prospect Park where my family goes to wander. You can find me on the side walks of New York City, as I just stop to breathe in rather loudly - the scent of linden is quiet, and it takes a little bit of focus to take in enough to bring back the warm days at the park when I learned about my new favorite tree with my young daughter.
When we practice flower essence (and other alternative healing modalities in general), the reason why we cannot look at human beings as a machine is exactly because of this; we are not only our body and mind - we are also made with spirit, and spirit does not operate based on logic. Our experiences are alchemical reactions of all of these factors combined, and there is no objective way to find out how each person experiences anything. We can put words to it - but does that really explain the entire experience with all its memories that also gave rise to that experience? How about the view points of our parents and ancestors which shaped our view points? What about cultural forces that sway these view points consciously and subconsciously, and the entanglement of that and our predisposition to these influences based on other factors such as I mentioned before?
There is a joke, that my answer to most questions are “it depends”. The ability to practice healing modalities does not rely only on intellect; rather, it is often the suppression of the ‘knowledge’ to give space for the feelings we perceive from the clients to come through, then we can articulate the perceived findings with the clients by using our intellect to find the most suited course of treatment.
As I am writing this, I smile to myself - because it is silly of me to write this as though this only applies to healing practices. This is a life choice we make.
The earth is teaching us, especially those of us who operate from Western perspective, that our current ways of industrialization, commercialization and linearization is not suitable for life on earth, even for humans who created the system. This system solely relies on our intellect devoid of empathy. The minds that had been commercialized for centuries can only perceive nature and its teachings from the capitalistic points of view, even with the most sincere intentions - Colonialism, Imperialism and White Supremacy are like the smog in the atmosphere, one of the teachers from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond mentioned in the training - that our systems are so inundated with its toxicity, we fail to see our own actions, often subconscious, are also filled with its toxicity. The industrialized society suppresses the spirit in each of us, in turn, makes us blind to all the spirits that are around us. We learned to consider other life forms to be without intelligence, and declare war to the natural world determined to conquer its ways and all its inhabitants to submission. We have forgotten that the life is about reciprocity, the balance of giving and receiving; and the capital gain and bottom line will never satisfy our innate desire to connect with spirits in all living forms.
It makes me think when I see kinds of slogans ‘Save the Earth’ and such, as the ever fertile Earth is not in need of our protection; it is us, who needs the protection from our own actions. How arrogant of us to think that we are the one who can save the Earth, how infantile of us not to see we are at the mercy of Mother Earth’s power at any given moment. Super storms and wild fires are not problems for Mother Earth - they are problems for humans. With her powerful wrath, just as Kali Ma would, she can teach us lessons that might put all of us out of our misery. For her long life span, these occurrences are just a tiny blip in her existence - for us homo sapiens along with other living creatures who call this planet ‘home’ however, we might end ourselves if we do not learn the lessons of her ways - reciprocity and balance.
Healing begins here with the understanding of connection between all things; between humans, animals, water, plants, soils, microbes, our histories, and hopefully, our brighter collective future.
Aki Hirata Baker is a Flower Essence Therapist, energetic healing practitioner, Reiki Master Teacher, meditator, community activist, food lover, healing & spiritual guide, artist, serial business owner, urban farmer, domestic violence survivor, mother to Saya, Shintaro & San, and wife to Ronald. Her current project is MINKA brooklyn, a center for wellness & holistic living, which she co-founded with her business partners. MINKA brooklyn continues the legacy of the COMPOUND brooklyn, the COMPOUND COWORK, and Adopt-A-Farmbox; creating inclusive communities that are self-sustaining and empowering individuals to evolve to their best possible versions of themselves.