Tamed Spirits

Bees, Wild Myrtle and Greenhouse Berries

Photo by Kris Mikael Krister on Unsplash


I sit with my bare feet on the ground, watching bees dancing amidst the crawling weeds, small flowers, tiny leaves, and mushrooms. All the ground-level diversity envelops various insects, from crawlers to flying pollinators. The ground is teeming with life, and this is merely above the surface. With its many facets of life, all interwoven, the land is here, rigorously in flux, sustaining us, under her primal dialog with the cosmos.

With my bare feet touching the ground’s texture, I watch the organic flying pattern of the several bees around, a non-linear journey from one flower to the other, an elegant and expressive living route through the land. The bee’s sense-making reveals them different dimensions through alternative perceptive modes, like hearing the songs of the flowers, or maybe even feeling the entangling of the pollen’s wisdom with their tiny bodies.

The ground is swarming with stories, ancient and emergent ones, deep multilogs of life ever recreating itself.

In this ancient dance, between the tiny flowers, the ground, wind, scents, textures, melodies, and pollinators, there is no neglecting the mystery and divine entangling. These primal choreographies also incorporate the land spirits, the wild living earth energies that dwell in particular places since time immemorial.

Has an introvert, I carry a deep-felt reverence toward body-listening to lost stories. Not extraordinary heroic adventures, but the everyday sacred tales that are clustering around us. Especially those that may induce ridicule, shame, fear, or even that have been encapsulated in secretive whispers by the storytellers because of our hierarchical cultural mishap.

You see, none of this is more authentic or valid if measured or objectively studied. No product is created, no solution to be attained, no end goal — just bees flying in the sea of tiny flowers. Life.

Wild Myrtle or Greenhouse Berries

I live in a place called Myrtle Ground, but there are no myrtles here. The endemic wild myrtles are gone now; once a common flower, they disappeared altogether today. The myrtle’s small white flowers have been used in magical rituals for visionary opening and aphrodisiac fertility since archaic times. Their delicate petals and sturdy structure spoke of leaving the rational mind and returning to the heart, to natural innocence. Myrtles were handled toward unconditional love in initiation rites sending participants beyond the (rational) individual, unlocking empathy, generosity, love, and kindness. Unconditional love is always wisely innocent and the chimerical way to completeness.

Wild local plants, like the myrtles, live in the seasonal spontaneity of the cycles, profoundly grasping the deep natural changes of the land. Their presence and growth depend on their various and dynamic interrelations, weather, soil, or pollinators, to name a few.

Like other endemic local plants, they represent part of the true contextual wisdom of a place, adapted to a particular living landscape. There is no separation between them and the ground they hold, for they move and flow with the land. That is, until their human utilitarian perspective exclusively validates them: turning unuseful and neglected against the production narrative.

On the other hand, the modern greenhouse translucid membrane separates the berries that grow inside from the actual local conditions, severing the encompassing multi-contextual influence of place and seasons. Technological greenhouse intensive monocultures of domesticated berry species strive for excessive production and not merely abundance.

These artificial conditions disregard singular space and time, conditioning the porosity needed for the original and diverse dialogue of life to occur.

In southern Portugal, we have a vast greenhouse landscape, striping the whole ecosystem of its natural complexity, leaving the land and local communities bare and sterile, weakening the structure of life by degrading diversity. The place is no longer a sanctuary, and the local spirits were tamed or driven away. In the capitalist narrative, enough production is never a plentiful result, so the land keeps being colonized, striving for more, always more, whatever the costs or consequences. More berries, out of season, out of place, but more, exceeding, numerous. But not one wild myrtle or bee, for they are not useful and virtually uncontrollable.

Wild dialogues and academic narratives

But there are other kinds of membranes, cultural ones, specifically those that separate and validate different knowledge types. The western hierarchical cultural attitude of knowledge creation is sometimes a beastly controlling creature, building greenhouses everywhere, not acknowledging anything outside itself.

Most academic knowledge, to be accepted, must endure harsh mutilations to keep itself validated by inner scholarly axioms, specializing the specialist: working through objective facts, numbers, or statistics. Laboratory berries who live in a severed reality, though correctly seized and categorized (and put to good use, of course).

Within this academic, cultural setting, there is a deep shame and restraint of using words like “sacred” or “energy” and never, ever “land spirits.” Even imagination has to be rigorous to be able to be approved or recognized once again. These rigorous membranes only certify as accurate what neatly fits the controlled narrative inside. No bees or wild myrtles are allowed in, for it’s a sterile place where only monoculture and technological-life-dependent berries, similar to those already inside, can enter.

Etymologically speaking, the word rigor comes from Old French rigor “strength, hardness”, from Latin rigorem “numbness, stiffness, hardness, firmness; roughness, rudeness.” Membrane refers to the “thin layer of skin or soft tissue of the body,” from Latin membrana “a skin, membrane; parchment (skin prepared for writing).”

These rigorous membranes forgot the flow of multi-contextual porosity natural to living tissues, effectively separating dynamic living wisdom from its contexts, firmly stiffing it so that it can be validated. A deception that maintains the reductionist and objective perception of an (illusory) controlled world.

Western scientific and academic validation’s hard rigor numbs specific contextual wisdom, for it forces it to pass the impossible analysis of untarnished laboratory data, only possible inside a berry monoculture greenhouse. In modern western thinking, to the beastly controlling creature of knowledge creation that builds greenhouses everywhere, the ultimate endpoint reference is always located inside the glasshouse; shame and ridicule regulate the possibility of accessing the only door, the threshold of pure truth. All this contrasts with indigenous science epistemologies and ontologies of direct participation.

On the other hand, like myrtles and bees, wild dialogues encompass the complex living system they emerge (and submerge) from and are themselves; they change, evolve, have feelings, aren’t objective, and never universal. These dialogues pulse in primal rhythms, succumbing to the inner and outer seasons. This particular wisdom is not detail-oriented but porous to patterns from a singular place and time, and validation comes from lived experience.

I still sit with my bare feet on the ground, the bees are no longer here, but this is what they whispered to me.

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[Disclaimer: all these words and weaved concepts are birthed through my lived, biased, and always limited perception of things, not supposing to bring any absolute truth.]

By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, question weaver and dismantling global-colonial-technological-capitalism one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of seven books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
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Sofia Batalha

Sofia Batalha


Journeying 🌿 between inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art and writing.