I avoid calling wild seaweeds “sea vegetables”. I’m not interested in any train of thought that leads toward domestication or aquaculture, and that begins with thinking of wild seaweed as a vegetable that can somehow be domesticated.
Occasionally I will come upon a tangled knot of kelp, usually several plants wrapped around and around and around the line stretching upward between a lobsterman’s weighted trap at bottom and the buoy on the surface. Unwrapping the kelp, I notice it is pale yellow, much like what happens if one throws a board on top of green grass for a few days. Well, what to do? Usually I cut the kelp off the line and discard it. No use bringing it home. After all, minerals is pigments, pigments is minerals. In the final analysis, this kelp unfortunately doesn’t make the grade.
When I look at photos of line culture for kelp (like the one at the start of this page), the kelp is growing thickly on the lines. It reminds me of those close-packed snarls and tangles I’ve found in wild kelp beds. I ask the aquaculturist, “How much line is required to grow a bushel of kelp?” “Eight feet,” comes the answer. Hmm…..I think to myself, it requires sixteen feet of line just to dry a bushel of kelp decently. That’s pretty crowded growing conditions! Reminds me of factory farmed animals in tight cages. When I listen to aquaculturists describing what they do, their process begins in a sterile solution that isn’t ocean water at all! It’s a mixture of chemicals designed to support only the plant that’s being cultured to attach to the hollow spools of fine nylon line. Once the plants have attached themselves to the nylon lines, the spools are taken to the aquaculture site, and the spools are slipped over the actual support ropes, and the nylon lines unwind in a spiral wrap onto the support lines.
The problem is that the kelp often grows more thickly than the natural spacing that occurs in a wild kelp bed, and often the location of the aquaculture operation is in much quieter water……a place where, in truth, kelp would usually not naturally occur. So what’s established, right from the start, is crowded conditions and less flow. That produces a lighter colored more delicate plant, lacking in substance, something I’ve seen growing in small patches in the upper part of my bay in early spring……and passed over. On Grand Manan where the harvesters talk about qualities of dulse, this would be the “passage dulse” that is lighter colored, growing in shallow quiet water in direct sun. It is harvested and ground as powder, and the powder is lighter colored than powders made from dulse that has grown in more turbulent waters, shaded by the cliffs on the Dark Harbor side of the island. You see, the kelp aquaculturist is intent on protecting the gear from storm waves, but the most vital kelp naturally grows in more turbulent conditions. Quiet water often has more petrochemical pollution and less flush. (Nori nets are stretched at the level where they will be uncovered during part of the tide cycle so that other competitive species will not grow on them, but this also means that nori, which is susceptible to taking up arsenic, will be vulnerable to petrochemical pollution floating on the surface of the water in the splash zone.) In short, I prefer to avoid dictating to kelp (or other seaweeds, for that matter) “where to grow”. I prefer to discover where kelp naturally prefers to grow, and make the effort to go there. That yields the highest quality.
But it’s more than that. Plants are forms of Intelligence. In order for you to understand what I mean, I need to tell you about….
A Time in my Life that was Formative to my Personality as a Seaweed Harvester.
I had read descriptions in essays by Michio Kushi about country bumpkins who nevertheless had real knowledge, and when they came to the city, there was a period of adjustment, but eventually their real knowledge became evident to those who knew them. That knowledge centered around the quality of cultivating emptiness/receptivity. One of them was trained while blindfolded to use a stick in martial arts, and he had become a famous baseball player who could hit home runs. With bases loaded in a situation where his home run (or not) would make or break the game, the count was ball three, strike two. The crowd was in uproar, the hitter asked for a blindfold “to shut out distraction” and he hit a home run. The other story was again, a country bumpkin who moved into a study house in the city, and he needed a job. There was a job for a typist, but he didn’t know how to type. He fasted to make himself empty/receptive, and he taught himself to type. He got the job, but the story doesn’t end there. Later that year, riding on a subway, the train stopped in a tunnel. He was the only person on the train who intuited that something was wrong. He broke a window, escaped from the train, and walked out of the tunnel. There was a fire on the train, and everyone else died. These stories about cultivating stillness and receptivity made an impression upon me. I began to understand that I was a soul who had incarnated into a vast library where the code was written in nature…..and nature could speak to the heart. My ability to be still and receptive aided me in reading the code that was written in nature……by listening to my heart. That was how it all started. I’ll explain:
When my three year old daughter was child-snatched, at first I felt that she had been kidnapped. When I realized that a friend of the mother was covering the mother’s tracks, I realized it was a child-snatch. It would be fifteen months before I saw my daughter again. During that time, one of my friends who was a wise witch said to me, “I’ll teach you how to dowse with your heart so that you can find her. First you have to drop the anger. That will just get in the way of your developing your heart as the fine instrument for dowsing which it truly is. In fact, your entire circulatory system, not just your heart, is the instrument. Each red corpuscle in your blood is a floating disk compass containing hemoglobin based on iron that aligns with energy fields. Chlorophyll is identical to hemoglobin in its molecular structure, except that it is centered on magnesium, so eat your greens! The body can easily make hemoglobin from chlorophyll, and this creates the basis for strong intuition….this strengthens your inner compass. You will be able to tell who is being truthful and helpful. Vipassana meditation will help you to quiet the internal noise. Once you have quieted, go down to the bay on a clear starry night. Open your arms wide like the horizon, and slowly turn to the four directions. You will begin to feel where she is.” I did this. Everything is “west” from Maine, but soon I was beginning to get a specific bearing on the western horizon, and I began to check that against maps. My intuition was opening up, and I was asking more intelligent questions. Late summer, I got in a car, drove the trans-Canada highway, dropped into California, and located my daughter. That winter, I lived at a school in San Francisco, learning structural bodywork in classes held on the weekends. During the week, I was a temp typist, and I was sent into all kinds of office situations by my office-temp agency.
One of the situations was working for Chicago Bridge and Iron Company in the “cash canyon” downtown skyscraper district. I asked the secretary I was sent to replace, “What is this company all about?” She replied, “Look at the photos that go ‘round on the walls. To begin with, these were the iron men who threw hot rivets pulled from the forge on the ground to a man high in the air catching with a funnel, and the relay would continue all the way to the top of the water tower tank they were building for a village or a city water system. Drill the hole, drive the rivet, peen it tight. When the oil age came, they started welding oil tanks and refinery systems. Now they also build nuclear reactor containment vessels.” At that point I said, “Nope. I don’t want to work here. I use water and gas, but when it comes to nukes, I don’t want to give my life’s energy to it.” The secretary replied, “Well, that’s what I told them. We worked out an arrangement where I only type their water and oil contracts.” “Well,” I said, “if they will have me with the same arrangement, maybe I’ll work here. After all, there’s something to be learned about CEO’s who are the enemy.” She laughed and said, “I’ll talk to my boss.” In a few minutes a stuffed shirt came out and made a sweeping gesture: “Have a seat. We’ll work it out.” In actual fact, I was typing for four CEO’s, and they didn’t talk to each other very much, so they didn’t understand that they weren’t giving me very much to do in an eight hour shift, or perhaps they simply didn’t have very many contracts for oil refineries and water tanks at the time. Much of their correspondence was with Halliburton and Bechtel. At any rate, I decided that it was best to look busy, and I decided to write my own stuff. After awhile, I went dry, and there was a little pause. Just then, the woman who taught shiatsu at the school came up to me and said, “Larch, I hear that you are an excellent typist. I’m part of a circle of healers that gets together with Gurudas, a homeopathic physician who asks Kevin Ryerson questions about flower essences while Kevin is in trance, channeling Dr. Bach of the Bach Flower Remedies. Shirley MacLaine had some adventures with Kevin, and she included those stories in her book, Out on a Limb. As you probably know, while Dr. Bach was in the body in England, he felt that there are underlying emotional and spiritual causes of disease, and he experimented with flower essences as a way of healing these underlying causes in his patients. He discovered 18 essences of English flowers by treating his patients. Then, toward the end of his life, he seemed to take on illnesses and experiment with healing himself until, at the end of his life, there were 36 essences in the Bach Flower Repertory. Now we are in hopes of being given 300 new essences for the American continent, and if you would like to help type up a rough draft of the channeling sessions, I’ll give you a tape, and you can go to work.” “Give me a tape,” I said, “I’m at your service.”
I went in to work, and when I found time, I plugged in a tape and put on the earphones. That winter, I had gone through three rounds of antibiotics, in an attempt to heal bronchitis. I knew that the underlying cause was the emotional turmoil I was feeling in relation to my daughter’s situation. Nevertheless, I had not been able to shake it off. The first words I heard on the tape came through Kevin from Dr. Bach: “Daisy works like a liquid tracheotomy. It gives the bronchial tubes instant relief.” There were daisies in the vase on my desk. I started chomping on petals. My bronchial tubes immediately relaxed and I sighed relief. I thought to myself, “Hey! They just demonstrated what they’re all about, and they paid me at the same time. I’ll work for you guys any time!”
The “guys” turned out to be Tom, an Irish bloke who always hung around up there in the ether close to Kevin while he was in trance. Tom had been an Irish pickpocket in his last life, and he served to keep up the humor and look after the channel’s body while Kevin was in trance and somewhat unaware of his surroundings. There’s a video called Out on a Limb, and in it, Kevin is sitting in Shirley’s kitchen while he’s trance channeling. He gets up and makes himself a cup of tea. Afterwards, he comes out of trance and Shirley says to him, “Amazing. You seemed to know right where everything was to make yourself a cup of tea.” Kevin didn’t remember any of it. He just remarked that Tom always looks after him while he’s in trance, and finally he said, “I’m just a human telephone.”
The other “guy” was John, and the healers said that he was the disciple John whom Jesus had asked to stay behind and work with the earth. Listening to John’s voice was like listening to an enormous intelligence that was being squeezed through the limitations of a computer translation app. Nevertheless, at the end of each session, John would give a benediction, and I would get chills that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck…..chills that I always get when I’m in the presence of something paranormal. I felt that I was in an enormous room without edges (there is no boundary in consciousness!), populated by intelligent entities who had been patiently working with the earth to help it evolve for thousands of years. They mentioned flower essences that had been developed by healers in Lemuria and Atlantis, civilizations long since gone but still present with us as thought forms that had been embodied into physical reality as flowers. The book I was helping to transcribe became “Flower Essences and Vibrational Healing” and the Flower Essence Society distributes the essences. The book is available here and flower essences may be purchased here.
At the same time all this was happening, Findhorn Community was publishing its book about growing vegetables in cooperation with the local spirits of a garden in Scotland, and I was intrigued by the process. Eileen was the meditating go-between who asked questions posed by Peter, the gardener, and relayed messages back to Peter from the devas of various plants in the garden. I began to realize that I, like Peter, was willing to serve the greater work of the evolution of this planet, wherever I happened to land. When I landed back in Maine that summer, there was a message from Tucson Co-op Warehouse: “Please gather 300 pounds of dry dulse for us.” That put me in the intertidal zone, and I thought, “Well, these are ancient wise plants, too. Why don’t I ask them some direct questions, and then shut up and listen with my heart, since that is the link?”
My friend Erek had sent me an article by Thomas M. Skovholt, “Feminism and Men’s Lives.” Skovholt wrote that female is the baseline genetic structure of life. Male is an overlay. A male fetus can revert back to female at different stages of its development if it fails to develop Y chromosomes, if it fails to produce testosterone, if external genitalia fail to develop, if internal genitalia fail to develop. There is no such thing as a female embryo reverting back to male. It’s an impossibility. After birth, a female can decide to become surgically and hormonally modified to become a male. At any rate, I was not surprised to discover, when I posed a question to the intelligences that operated in the intertidal zones way out on the islands that the voices that answered me resonated as feminine voices and feminine wisdom. Some days I would come off the water after a “session with the ladies” and remark that it sounded like a quilting bee. My women friends would kid me about going out there to join the “stitch and bitch”. However it went, I felt myself to be in the company of good, intelligent and caring feminine entities.
Imagine a world where all men come home from work feeling that way.
Later in the summer, I journeyed to Atlanta to visit a friend, and while I was there, I went over to Emory Universitiy and asked for a job. It just so happened that the horticulture department had a job for me, and I found myself alone in the president’s rose garden, manicuring the flowers. What could be more perfect? I’ll give you a taste of what the book I transcribed has to say about Koenign Van Daenmark, a double-alba rose that is a hybrid introduced in 1826: “Complete regeneration of the endocrine system and glandular discharges takes place with this essence. While it has no effect on specific diseases, it strengthens the immune system…..Roses were fully formed by the angelic forces before the fall from spirit. They are a biological prophecy created in full perfection, so no further development of this species took place in Lemuria. Roses are as a process or system of medicine to help return to the realms of the spirit. In contrast, other plants and flowers, even with the extended development in Lemuria, are still achieving a state of full perfection. Even recently hybridized roses like Koenign Van Daenmark manifest this state of perfection.” (p. 22)
After that experience, I came back home to Maine for the winter, and I worked for a local sea captain who had started a Christmas wreath business and become a millionaire. He put me to work buying fir tips and wreathes made from fir tips, and I realized that the herbalist’s doctrine of signatures held true for this tree that symbolizes Christmas. Each fir tip is in the shape of a cross, symbolizing the vertical energy that streams between heaven and earth, distributed on the horizontal plane through the hearts of people.
The following summer, once again I had to journey to California, to attend to the needs of my daughter. As I drove into California from the east, I was fasting, empty, and receptive—and I began to get images of the place where I would live. There was an apple orchard and a chicken coop in the back yard, and I sensed that the people were down to bottom in their energy, but nevertheless, they were good people. Upon arriving in Sebastopol, I picked up a want advertiser, and the first place I called turned out to be that place, complete with chicken coop and apple orchard in the back yard. The couple were musicians, back from a tour in Central America. They were road weary, but good, and they knew a man who had a retreat center. Within a week, I was fully employed, and that winter, people came in to the retreat center, dropped their clothes and told their stories, and I simply observed and listened. They were angels in disguise, teaching me lessons about this mystery we call “being human”. I simply remained open, willing to serve the higher intelligence as it appeared to me in so many disguises.
Later on in life, I would begin to understand that souls on the other side of the veil take time to reflect on their lives. Then they make sacred contracts with each other to “show up” on this side of the veil and play the necessary roles, giving each other an opportunity to learn the lessons that each individual soul needs for its evolution. How do we begin our soul’s work for this lifetime, on this side of the veil? Often it begins when we take a new name, apart from the name given us by our family of origin. I had taken “Larch,” and it was serving the purpose to propel me into realms where I could develop by taking a courageous stand. This writing is part of that. In this writing, I claim the most basic right: to be myself. If you stop to ponder it, we are constantly immersed in an educational, religious and political system that tries to make us all think alike, or not think at all. Well, stay tuned. I have some different thoughts that may be helpful discoveries, aiding you on your own soul’s journey.
Another way that we get a signal that it’s time to take our cue and play our part in this school for souls is when other people connect with us through the eyes, the windows to the soul. When someone looks me in the eye, I think to myself, “We obviously have gifts to give each other. Let’s see how quickly we can get down to it.” Then I decide if it’s my turn to say something, or my turn to just remain present and connected, and shut up and listen. Another signal is synchronicities. I’ve already given you examples of how those have appeared in my life, and there will be more. Now it’s time to get back to some of the nuts & bolts of seaweed.