Caring for and Healing the Earth

Philosophy of Caretaking

Communicating With the Insect Beings

Mike Pedde

As a preamble, I would like to relate a true story from the book "Rediscovery" by Thom Henley:

The staff work all day to set up the four tipis for Rediscovery Four Corners in the high Colorado valley, and the Ute elders who oversee the project are satisfied. The tipis are aligned exactly north, east, south, and west: they each have their proper coloured prayer flags fluttering from the pole tops, and each tipi rests exactly equal distance from the others and the central fire pit. But now, as the sun sets on the eve before the camp opens, the staff find a large red-ant mound inside the east tipi. Obviously the children cannot bed down on top of fire ants, so the east tipi must be relocated: therefore the other three tipis will have to be moved accordingly. The staff will have to work all night to have camp ready for the first arrivals in the morning. "Don't do anything more tonight," a Pueblo Indian elder and cultural director for the program says calmly, "I will talk to the ants in the morning." "Talk to the ants?" someone asks, unbelieving. "Yes, they are our ancestors. They helped us emerge from the underworld by providing us with food to grow big and strong while they stayed small. They have helped me find my way many times when I was lost." The Pueblo man speaks with such conviction that he almost overcomes some of the staff's scepticism. "Can you talk to them now?" someone asks impatiently. "No, they are still active and will bite," comes the sensible answer. "I will talk to them in the morning."

The predawn light has not yet penetrated the eastern tipi when the Pueblo elder places a pinch of cornmeal beside the ant hole and rests his head on the mound as if it were a pillow. "Dear ants," he whispers into the tiny hole, "I'm sorry to have woken you so early, but I've brought you some breakfast and I've come to ask of you a favour. We have made a mistake and put a tipi over top of your house. I ask this, not for me, but for the children who arrive today. Could you please move your house?" The staff erects a tarp under a pinon pine to temporarily house those participants not able to sleep in the east tipi. The tarp is never used. Hours later, the ants carry the last of their eggs out from under the tipi edge into a new hole four metres away. The children move in on schedule.

I first read that story a long time ago, and a few years later came upon a similar situation. The house in which I was living was shared with two small children, and some hornets made a nest in the ground in the back yard. I was concerned because the children wouldn't understand the ways of the hornet people, and so I went out one morning just before sunrise with some sweet food, and did as the elder had done. I spoke to the family of the hornets and explained about the children and that we needed not cause each other harm. Within a day the hornets were gone and we never saw them again......



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