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Braiding Sweetgrass book recommendation

Braiding Sweetgrass

By  Robin Wall Kimmerer

“A hymn of love to the world.”

Written from the wisdom of indigenous traditions and botanical science, this book articulates many of the founding principles of Novasutras, echoing the themes of agaya and ubuntu throughout (though, of course, not using these specific terms). Better still, it does so in a way that is beautiful, soul-stirring, informative, and deeply personal.  Kimmerer braids together the work of a scientist in love with her subject, a keeper of indigenous wisdom and story, and vital connection to the sacredness of nature.

Dr. Kimmerer speaks of the Earth’s wounds, and the power in doing healing work:braidingsweetgrass_pb_cover_mech_background_rgb_300

“Restoration is a powerful antidote to despair. Restoration offers concrete means by which humans can once again enter into positive, creative relationship with the more-than-human world, meeting responsibilities that are simultaneously material and spiritual. It’s not enough to grieve. It’s not enough to just stop doing bad things.”

You can see Dr. Kimmerer speaking about just a tiny fragment of this beautiful work, and the history the Potawatomi people, at the 2014 Bioneers conference:

(Learn a little more about Martha, and the passing of the passenger pigeons, here.)

The Honorable Harvest

Dr. Kimmerer also gave a TEDx talk on the concept of “The Honorable Harvest,” a set of practices that embody abiding in agaya and ubuntu (explained in more detail in the chapter by that name).

The basic rules of the Honorable Harvest:
  1. Never take the first one
  2. Ask permission, and heed the answer: take only that which is freely given
  3. Take only what you need (and never more than half of what is there)
  4. Use everything that you take
  5. Minimize harm
  6. Be grateful
  7. Share with others (humans and other beings)
  8. Reciprocate the gift

Thanksgiving Address

Additionally, there is Kimmerer’s insightful explanation of the “Thanksgiving Address” (or “Words That Come Before All Else”) in the chapter “Allegiance to Gratitude.” This recitation could be adapted and adopted as a practice before Novasutras gatherings, as it so beautifully brings people into harmony for doing the work of a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu. As Kimmerer notes, do not regret when it goes on “too long,” as this just means that we have so very much for which we can be thankful!

Please read this book, share it with your friends, and rejoice in its powerful lessons for abiding in ubuntu and agaya!

Mishkos kenomagwen: Sustain the ones who sustain us, and the earth will last forever

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