Six days before Earth Day, the banana stalk in the front yard fell over, spilling out unripe green bananas. That’s when I knew: a party was in order.
Some people say, “Every day is Earth day, so why celebrate?” So, those six days before Earth day were all Earth day too. Dozens of green bananas were boiled and fermented (that’s called fufu and it’s an African tradition.) Macadamia nuts were fermented into cheeses, and rice and beans into dosa batter. These ferments were carefully tended to and stirred each day. The carrots from the garden were harvested and pickled. The beds in the back garden were planned. The compost was sifted. The baby trees were collected. The flyer was designed. The people were informed. The green banana dough was baked with dosa batter into flatbreads. Everything was in order.
In the Mayan calendar, Earth Day this year fell on 3 Aj. (The Mayan calendar follows the human psyche through 13 day cycles and twenty archetypal energies. In this case, 3 is the tone, and Aj is the archetype. This Mayan cosmovision integrates humanity’s relationship to the Earth). Three is a number of stability, and Aj of the home, authority, as well as maize. Maize, or corn, is the sacred crop that stands firmly with its roots in the Heart of the Earth and its ears in the Heart of the Sky. It is a pillar of civilization.
On April 22, 3 Aj, 2019, the Earthlings arrived to the garden.
They planted a milpa: a traditional polyculture garden consisting of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicines. The quintessential companion planting consists of the Three Sisters: corn, beans, squash. The corn came from heritage seeds Claudia had gifted me from California. The beans came from an order of Johnny’s seeds from Maine. The squash was from a Guatemalan market. As we tilled the soil, a plethora of turmeric bulbs emerged. This milpa was already off to a great start. Other beds were planted with many vegetables as well: lettuces, cabbages, radishes, Mayan spinach.
The Mayan nanas (a name affectionately offered to the wise women) told me that all thoughts and ideas are seeds. We must be careful of what is in our mind, what we are planting in the garden of life. When the Mayans plant physical seeds, they are not asking that those seeds be regenerated many times over. They are soliciting. The difference is that when we solicit, we know there will be fruits. This is the same for our metaphorical gardens, too. We are all gardeners, whether we choose to recognize it or not.
My sister, Josie, was like an octopus in the kitchen with her arms whipping up eight different dishes. She sent the Earthlings on a treasure hunt: flowers of the colors white, red, yellow, and purple. I know this garden well, you see, so I offered Lena a clue. I lead her to the greenhouse where the arugala flowers bloom. She was so amazed to see so many tiny, edible flowers, and with great care and excitement, she picked them one by one and put them in a bowl.
More Earthling activities ensued. Cardamom was peeled and steeped. Cacao was chopped and frothed. The cushions and blankets were spread in a circle in the front garden. An altar in the center was erected. It was filled with the things we love the most. The cacao was ready to be served.
“I know you all love cacao, and you want it now, but I had some history to share,” I said. Cacao has always been an integral part of Mayan tradition. There were two crops most consumed by the Mayans: corn and cacao. Mayan women were the village leaders, maintaining order through their constant handiwork. They tended the milpas. They turned weeds into nutritious meals. They spun cotton and wove intricate and beautiful cloth. They sold at the markets. Life was a constant effort to cultivate the raw materials of the Earth and alchemize them into the beautiful and delicious creations of human imagination.
To balance these efforts, the men took the women’s creations and travelled far and wide. Their travels crisscrossed all of Mesoamerica sharing their culture’s wisdom. They followed the Mayan calendar, which is a calendar of human life, to grant them protection on their journeys. And do you know what they brought back from their journeys?
Cacao is a medicine: a seed that energetically opens the heart center. It is traditionally an integral part to Mayan spirituality and cosmovision. Mayans who still follow the old ways are continuously offering their abundance to their spirit world in an ongoing relationship to appease the ancestors and ensure that the fruit trees ripen and their cups are full.
And just because it’s Earth day, one last trick: If you allow your breath to become full, and your mind to become still, you can sense the very vibration of your heart. Does it feel familiar? It is the same vibration as the Earth.
That’s kind of what Earth Day is, right? You touch some soil and you plant some trees? You take nice pictures of your friends and submit them to Permaculture Vogue magazine.
That’s only half of what Earth Day is. The other half of Earth Day is the Golden Egg.
What on Earth is that, you ask?
The Golden Egg is the unstruck sound of the Heart. It is the seed each human cultivates inside of themselves. The heart is a plant in the garden of life, and it too must find its own way. Better to find the way than to be lost in the weeds! And sometimes the way is just a human’s journey to accessing their own heart space.
So maybe I should mention what immense gratitude I felt all day long. Or what amazing craft Josie exercised with our garden feast, or Seth’s masterful execution of the milpa, or Lena’s all natural facepaint creations, or Oliver’s mystic music and mantras. How grateful I am to share this planet with such exceptional human beings. How together, a milpa can be planted in a moment’s time and an eight course dinner is complete with edible flower garnish.
I don’t think Earth day is necessarily about Earthy things. It’s about love. It’s about putting the brakes on humanity’s existential crisis of self-destruction and discovering our wholeness. Love is not Earthly. It is universal, though it may be found in Earthly places, like the garden, the forest, or underneath the stars when the night is clear. And, quite simply, it can be found bound by the fleshy composition of a human heart. This is the uncovering of the Golden Egg.
So yes, every day is Earth day, as well as a day to tend to this metaphorical garden which we cocreate. I have found much wisdom in the lands of Guatemala where native people still uphold the Mayan culture. Through this ancestral wisdom, the lens of what holds value on this planet is cleaned daily. In a culture where love is at the center of everything, the sound of the unstruck heart rings clear.