Ever since mankind has been on this planet, we have looked towards nature for healing for our mind, body, and our spirits. Every single culture on this planet, has their wise-women, or men. Their shamans, their tohunga, their sacred medicine people – be they male or female. And all of these healers, and wise people have had an innate relationship with the herbs, plants, vines, and trees that grow around them, with many of them being able to communicate with the plants themselves. The most publicized cases of these, would be with those of the ayahuasca plant. How it is sung to, spoken to, prayers or karakia, said over it before harvesting and before working with the plant.
But can plants talk to us? Can they? Many, many experiments have been conducted by real scientific minds on being able to communicate with plants, and to have them respond to us. It is common knowledge that speaking to your plants helps them to grow. Even school children have done science experiments on how plants respond to both kind words, and negative ones. A simple Google search will unearth heaps of articles and videos on this subject. It is said that even Prince Charles is known to talk to his plants.
Most gardeners talk to their plants as they plant them, or tend to them. They have a love affair with their gardens, be they vege or flower. Sometimes that is a love/hate relationship, but most avid gardeners are well aware they are working with, and encouraging, nurturing the growth of living plants. There is also an excellent documentary available on YouTube called “What plants talk about” which discusses the secret lives of plants, and trees. Is it really any stretch of the imagination that plants are able to respond to us, to understand the energies we put out to them? Is it?
Many New Zealanders have at the very least heard of the gentleman who will be my guest for these next couple of episodes. This gentleman is regarded by some as a bit of a controversial figure, not least because of his views on how NZ was settled prior to the arrival of the Maori in their great waka or canoes. An internationally known author, speaker, and documentary maker, Gary Cook is a leading writer on the special nature of the mystic realms that are to be found in New Zealand. He has has devoted many years of searching and writing of the wonders to be found within the islands of New Zealand and the South Pacific.
For many years Gary Cook was a regular contributor to a now defunct NZ magazine called Rainbow News, which was a spiritual, sort of new age type magazine that I used to devour eagerly, not because I believed in everything, or even actually most that was written in there, but because some of the articles resonated deeply with me. It was from that magazine that I first learned about the still relatively little known, Kaimanawa wall, deep in the middle of the Kaimanawa state forest.
Gary is a very, deeply spiritual man – both in touch with himself and with all aspects of nature around us, and it is on the subject of nature that this show will delve into today….
His extensive journeys and experiences allow him to share much of the deeper nature of the forests, the waters and the mountains that allows us all to connect with the natural order in a deeper and more meaningful way.
The author of three books in the Secret Land series, and others…. Gary is a regular contributor to Australian and New Zealand magazines offering readers unique glimpses of the sacred landscape of Aotearoa. He is a regularly requested speaker at conferences both here in NZ and overseas. He has also created a number of documentaries and DVD recording the songs of trees, plants, and pounamu or greenstone, and it is these that we will be touching on today, and next week:
“My journey into our past has taken me into the land in ways that have surprised me. I have touched the stone and the waters and in turn been touched by them, traced the outline of ancient carved symbols with the tips of my fingers and been moved and been taken beyond the story to the spirit that is of this land, of its past, of its many people of yesteryear, and now… Thus do the ancestors speak and thus are they honoured when we stand still and listen.”
Gary was with us a few weeks ago, talking about his experiences and research into the Patupaiarehe. We are very fortunate to have him back with us talking about his experiences, experiments, and learning into the field of music of the plants.
To begin with he will take us on bit of a journey to the last episode when he was on here with us, answering a question one of the listeners sent in for him about the fairy folk, or Patupaiarehe. Then we will go into some background about plants, and trees, and about plant blindness – what is that? Then in the next episode we will talk specifically about music of the plants…. So this will be a leisurely stroll, with a few detours, until we reach the heart of the subject. But, it is a delightful leisurely stroll in the shadowlands, with Gary sharing his wisdom, and experiences with us all. So, let’s walk with Gary, into this part of the shadowlands, and see what awaits us there….
Marianne: Before we start Gary, I have a question for you from a member of my FaceBook group of the same name as this podcast. Can you please ask Gary how I can make my garden fairy friendly? I don’t really know?
Gary: Well that’s an interesting question actually, cause anywhere – whether it’s a wild garden, or wild area, or a planted garden, anywhere is inviting to the elementals, and the fairy folk. I guess that one thing, I suppose that comes in to mind is, in gardens which have lots of flowers – which invite bees, and birds…. You know, for nectar. And, butterflies, and things like this…. And, I often think there can be a corner in the garden, which at a certain time of the year – or perhaps, all year around, has flowers, and colour. And, I think this is very, very inviting. But, other than that, just walking around the garden, and walking in forest, and walking across fields – anywhere like that, that’s where an awareness can take place. You can [inaudible]…. Oh perhaps I can’t see it?
And, as I may have mentioned in the – in our original chat, you don’t always see what is there, but you can certainly get a feeling of what is there. And, a knowing. And, you don’t have to see, as much as the desire may be there… And, I guess too, it’s how people interpret fairies. Whether they look upon…. Going right into the elemental realms, which are the elemental beings which look after all plants.
Moving up to the fairies, but, there are so many different types of fairies it’s interesting to, to actually pin down the fact that there are fairies with wings! ‘Cause, ancient literature, and medieval times, fairies did not have wings in the sense – ah fairies could certainly move through the sky. But, that was usually at times of what they call the ‘Grand Procession’. Which is the King and the Queen of that particular fairy realm, and that particular fairy mound in the UK…. They were observed, flying in a grand procession, once or twice a year.
But, other than that, it would appear that winged fairies came into Victorian times. And, when spiritualist groups, and things were taking a lot more notice of elementals, and beings in other realms. And, then of course, Walt Disney, of course…. Actually popularized winged fairies with Tinkerbelle, and things like that. So, of course…. But this is the fairy which intrigues little children….
And, the winged fairy is what they expect to see, and they may even – you know, see a fairy which is riding on the back of a bumblebee, or riding on the back of a dragonfly. So there are allsorts of stories like that. But, the stories that I’ve pursued, are in New Zealand of course, with the Patupaiarehe. And, these are more like Elven folk, or Gnomes, or in that category. Where they are very human, and in stature…. Ah well, much, much smaller, of course.
So, I find that often when I walk through the forest here at home, I sort of have an experience, that suddenly I have a heightened awareness, that there’s something there. And, I’ll stop and just say a word, even though I can’t see, or can’t hear anything. I’ll say a word. So, I think that this is the thing to introduce yourself, in your garden area – and, it’s not a matter of having anything in particular planted out, and but there just may be a place in the garden which is comfortable, for the fairy beings to appear, and be there.
So, there’s no…. I don’t think there’s any, um rule of thumb here, as far as that goes. But, I always remember years and years ago, when I first became aware of these realms, being told by an elderly lady from the isle of…. Sort of stuck…. Yeah, one of the islands where she was sort of fourth generation, or fifth generation seer. And, she had a wild area in her garden. She had a lot of garden, but there was a wild area, that she just let grow wild. And, didn’t tend it at all, and she said: “This is where they dwell, in the wild area.” That’s it. So, keep that in mind.
Oh, that’s a good response. I’ve actually heard that said about wild areas before, in a garden. Yeah, so that’s quite nice to have that reconfirmed. Thank you, I‘m sure that my group member will be very happy with that. What started you on this journey with the plant music, was it when you caught the sound of the pounamu singing?
No. No, no, no. So, you’re asking me then, what got me started? And, interested in plants?
I suppose that when I look back at the first talk that we had together, I mentioned in childhood, being very interested in forests, and trees, and things. And, that went right back, even when I was five or six years of age, and even right up into my teenage years, and of course, family situations change. And, you drift away from the beautiful, outdoor, rural forest areas, and into living in towns, and cities. So, I always had an awareness ah, and always a great feeling of being sort of at home, and being restful…. It’s a bit like when any of us can say…. Get away from our everyday work situation – whether it’s a day trip, a weekend trip, or whether it’s annual holidays, and we leave the environment where we spend most of our year. And we go, and we move within nature.
And, the tradition of course, within New Zealand is – for so many years, was the summer holiday. When everything closed down, and everyone packed up, and went away to the beach, or to the lake, or to the rivers, to camp out! And, this was a time when so many people had some incredible contact with nature. And, of course, being away for ten to fourteen days in that environment was always uplifting to people. And, I guess that psychologically you can say that was just being away from the pressures of the work environment, and everything else that goes on in the world. Just enjoying family time. Camping out, or caravanning, or staying in motels, or just cruising around in your mobile home. That was great! But, I always felt though, that in doing this – not that I did this very often myself. My family wasn’t into that.
My…. ah release…. Was just being able to walk in the park, etc. And, I’ve always enjoyed just ambling, or strolling. I’m not an intrepid tramper, and I’m not one of these people who put on their headphones, and run furiously through the forest, doing their training, their running, and things like that. I’ve always been fortunate to have lived in proximity to where there are trees, and there are parks. And, I often say to folk too, Marianne, that even if you live in the middle of the city. And, even if you just own a small town-house, or you’re living in an apartment building, there is always the opportunity to go, and be with plants, and trees. And, I cite cities like Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland, in New Zealand, and I know other cities – I’ve lived in other parts of the world. There’s always parks, and spaces where people can go, and hang out, and just walk, or sit quietly, and feed the ducks in the duck pond.
This has always been something which I think has been so beneficial to people. To be able to just walk within nature, like that. So, I guess for myself, I’ve always had the opportunities, and fortunately in the years that I’ve been married, and we moved around quite a bit, we always had…. We were always in proximity of beaches, rivers, and forests. They were just an easy, short drive away. Or sometimes, just a walk down the end of the road, and into a park. So, these places are very, very important…. And, even to plants within your own environment, and I say to folk – if you live in the middle of the city, and you live in a high-rise apartment, you can still have your plants. You can have your houseplants. As I see a houseplant over your shoulder, over there Marianne, behind you.
Two cyclamens, I have had them for about three years, and I love them.
That’s right, so we always have these. Not only do they add colour but there are a lot of plants, of course, that are beneficial within the closed living space, which help to filter the air. Which is through photosynthesis, which is very important. And, even those as I say, living in high rise apartments, you can have a little – few pots out on your balcony, which often people do. And, in the summer, they’ll grow a few tomatoes. They’ll also grow herbs, and…. Culinary herbs for the kitchen.
So, you can always have these contacts, even though we can’t get out, and walk in it, we can always have the contacts. And, it’s even therapeutic to watch a YouTube clip of just walking in nature, in the forest. It allows you to escape, and go back into places you may have enjoyed, either when you were a child, or in recent times when you were on holiday. So, bit of a ramble here, but I guess that um, we can always find a place to go to. And, even if it’s a bus ride, or a car ride, or on our bicycle if we’re living in an urban area. There’s always a place we can go to, and walk around, and open spaces are as good as a forest. Often we come across little parks in an urban area, that haven’t been greatly planted out with trees. There may be a few trees there. But, often it’s just an open space of grass, which they keep mowed, and a playground there for children to play in. So, these places are there, and I think we’ve got to grab that opportunity, whenever we can.
I remember, years, and years, and years ago…. And, these are things which come to mind – when I was a younger person, working in Queen Street in Auckland, in a shop there, as a shop assistant. And, one day, walking down the footpath in busy Queen Street, and I stopped on the side of the road there. And, I was gazing around the buildings, and I looked down at my feet. And, there growing out of a crack in the curbing was a plant, which I took in those days to perhaps, to be a weed. I didn’t know what sort of plant it was. And, I looked at this little plant, and thought – oh my gosh! This is how nature prevails. Even in the busy, busiest places, where there’s lots of people. Lot’s of traffic. Little plants will grow. Little plants are, and they’re always there. And, so I thought well that’s interesting, and that little plant is just as important as a big tree. Because, little plants like that also actually go through the process of photosynthesis.
And, start bringing in the sunlight, and synthesizing this, and taking the carbons out of the air. And, in their own little way – you know, half a dozen, or ten leaves, putting oxygen back for us to breathe. So, these are things to know. Do you even…. If we are walking sort of down a street somewhere, and we come across a little bank – or even a stone wall, and we see moss growing there! Gosh, so you know, we’re surrounded constantly by green, nature. You know what I mean? So, it’s always there. So [inaudible] little ramble.
Yes, and that’s a valid comment about the plant growing in cracks. And, I’ve often seen like little – usually it’s dandelion flowers, or something like that coming up through the cracks, and I always admire the tenacity of nature. And, how plants always find a way to survive, and thrive, in the most hostile environments.
That’s exactly right! Hostile, and also how um plants, and I particularly noticed down here, because we live on the edge of a small forest, which is on our land. Adjourns onto other forest. And, we have big gardens here, of course. And, which my wife Raewyn, tends. And, if we just leave things to go, as they should. It doesn’t take long before the trees from the forest area are dropped into the garden, which we are then maintaining and cultivating. And little seedlings like Rewa Rewa, and Manuka, are popping up all over. So it doesn’t take long for nature to prevail.
And, I remember when we first came to this land, over twenty years ago. There had been a slippage down the track, on the way to the river. And, it was a very bare area of clay, and things like this. Which went right down to the river. I thought, what on earth are we going to do with this? And, it was a lot of gorse growing there. I thought wow. This could be the time for an experiment. ‘Cause, I had read prior to coming to this land, that if you wanted to reforest in native trees, and you had gorse, to use the gorse to act as a nursery.
And then, this will allow native trees, or whatever you plant in there, to come back. Particularly the natives, ‘cause, it’s their natural habitat. And, so I just left the gorse there. I trimmed it on the track, but I just left it there to go, right down this cutting. And, there it grew tall, and beautiful yellow blossoms. And. now when I go back down there, after twenty years, I’ve got one or two bits of straggly gorse left! The native forest has come back in such a big way. Manuka, Kanuka, Rewa Rewa, young Rimu trees, and all of this.
So, nature always prevails! It’s worth knowing that things like gorse, instead of hacking it down, if you have the room to allow that space to sit for a number of years, and you plant your natives out in there, they’ll grow. And, of course, gorse requires a lit of light. And, when the native plants grow…. They’re searching for the light anyhow. And, they come up. And, they’ve got a higher canopy, and of course, they deprive the gorse of it’s light, and it just dies back.
Wow! Yeah that’s…. Now, isn’t there a name for that sort of agriculture? Is that bio… Oh gosh, I just can’t think of the name off the tip of my tongue. When you let nature just do it’s thing
Well, yes it’s…. It is…. Yes, that’s a wonderful thing to do, but a lot of people sort of don’t allow for that. As far as they are concerned a native forest, or native trees may not be what they want. And they may take – which they have over years, and years, and years…. And plant Pinus Radiata. Which incidentally, Pinus Radiata, and this was a tree they discovered, in the early nineteen-thirties, in America. And, in America it comes from California, and is called the Monterey Pine. And the Pinus Radiata is of course slated in New Zealand, as being the tree that we just grow very quickly. And, then chop down and plant more, which we’ve seen happen all over the place.
But in America, where the Pinus Radiata, or Monterey Pine comes from, it is a highly revered tree by the local Indian people. And, has such a high standing in their myths and legends, and their everyday life. So, I often say to people, don’t underestimate [what] Pinus Radiata does. I mean, on our land here, we have a couple of wild pine trees. Which have been growing, probably for many, many years. And, they’re going to grow until they’re probably eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old!
So these trees, which have been somehow or another sown, in the area of my land. I was not going to chop them out! Because they are trees. And, this is where we’ve got to revere trees. And, if we can work with existing trees such as Pine trees, and anything else – Wattle trees which have been planted as tree crops, and all those sort of things. We have a far, far better space to bring about a balance in nature.
Anyhow, so that’s the way I look at it, and I’d just like to insert that about Pinus Radiata, or I now like to call it the Monterey Pine. And, it is a very, very special tree in its own way. And, I have actually recorded music which I’ll talk about later, from the Monterey Pine. And, it’s just a beautiful song.
Sweet! And for me personally, I always find pine trees to be incredibly uplifting. The fragrance that their needles put out, or that the tree itself puts out, I find always puts me in an uplifted space, and it clears my energy.
No. No, I think that’s quite right too, because, what the trees are doing – they’re putting out – well virtually the essence of the tree itself, and it’s like the perfume of the tree. And, this enters into our bodies through inhaling, and walking in it. And, these things trigger various parts of activity in our brain. Which allows us to feel more relaxed, and at ease. And, this can happen in any forest. Whether it’s a pine forest, or it’s a forest that’s full of Kauri, or Rimu, or just mixed native. It can happen anywhere. Anywhere, there’s light growing like that, we can walk amongst the trees.
I remember walking amongst the Redwood plantations in Rotorua, which were quite vast. And, they were put in place, ninety, to one hundred years ago, with the view of looking at a sustainable crop. But, they’re such magnificent trees, and now eighty to ninety years old! They’re never going to be taken down for firewood, or timber for building, or anything like that. They’re just a joy to walk amongst. Here was an introduced species, which was established so well, and is now providing so much for people who like to walk, run, or ride through the forest.
That’s a really valid point, ‘cause, I know whenever I get the opportunity I’ll go for a walk in the bush. Soon as I get out of the car, and I’m in amongst the trees, it’s just like poof! You know? You just feel a difference; you just feel – I feel immediately relaxed…. Immediately, as soon as I can smell, that beautiful forest odour. It just grounds me right away!
Yeah. It’s also the same too…. We’ve got something else we can compare that to. It’s when we go to the beach, and it’s active on the beach. And, the beaches you’ve got down there, around Hawkes Bay, and around the Napier area, are all shingle beaches. But, just walking on the beach, you’re in the natural ozone, which is also beneficial to you, so anywhere within nature, that we can take the time…. And, even walking along the boardwalks there, in the main beach in Napier, or round the other side, round the shore there. Just ambling along. At the top of the beach there, there’s only little plants growing. You know, little succulents and things like this, which have incredible flowers in the season. And, so there’s a lot of plant life around the beach. And, also – I mean, just off the shore there, which we can’t see, of course, is all the plant life under the water.
Which is all the sea weeds, and things of that nature. And, likewise in ponds, and estuaries. Ah, down not far from where we live, we have the big Tauranga harbor. Well renowned for sea lettuce, which washes up ashore, when storms come in. So there’s so much growing also, when we go to the beach, under the water. And likewise, even when we go to the rivers, streams…. You’re walking around and you come to a little pool of water, which is not being disturbed too much by the water flow, and we look very closely, and we see all these little organisms – plant organisms, growing on the rocks. So, we’re surrounded by plants, and amazing thing Marianne, is that in recent times with ahh – neurobiology, which is the new science, which is studying the intelligence of plants. They have come up with a figure, which I find amazing.
They say that ninety-nine percent of all life in the biosphere of the planet is plant life! That’s ninety-nine percent so, there’s just one percent that we as humans, every other mammal, every other living creature, whether they fly, or whether they crawl underground, we just fit into one percent. So, we actually live on a plant planet. And, I think that’s why a plant planet is conducive, and always has been conducive to the other realms where the faery folk, and the elementals live. So, everything goes hand in hand. You know, within the biosphere I mean. It was just, you know, the complete sort of system we live in. And, of course now a days, we hear a lot about how the system is being damaged, and how it’s – we’re not caring for it as humans! But hopefully that’s all going to change as quickly as we can over the next few decades, and bring it back to a better balance.
Well, I don’t think we have much of an option now, do we? I think, we’re really at a major tipping point. But, I feel that the positive thing about this, is that so many people are awake now, and aware of things that are actually important to our continued survival. To the survival of all species actually. Well no! Humans may die out, but plants will live on, regardless.
That’s right, and also you know, for the survival of of all species, of course, everything on the planet relies on plants. And, not only do the plants provide us with the oxygen that we breathe, but they also filter the carbons out of the air. So it’s a two-way thing. We put out carbons which feed the plants, which is wonderful, we as animals, mammals, put out a lot of carbon. And, of course, that’s become a little excessive with the modern industrial age that we live in, but that’s something for another day.
So, we’re looking here at the fact that plants provide everything, within the biosphere of the planet, to sustain our lives. Not only is it because we are a carbon body, we are a carbon being. We rely on the oxygen for breathing. Ok. Now, the plants then supply us with all our food. Everything that we eat, has come from a plant source. Even though, there are those who will eat chickens, and fish, and meat. Which has…. Had been farmed.
All these creatures that we consume, they have grown up and come into maturity, by eating plants, and ok. So have humans. So, it’s interesting that, we just live on a plant planet. That’s it, you know when we suddenly start to think about this, and realize it. It’s like a little light bulb flashes on, and you think oh my god! Of course you do! Why didn’t I think about that twenty or thirty years ago? So, so many things we just take for granted. It’s a bit like, I’m referring to plant blindness. It’s a very interesting experiment that’s often done by Stephano – by Professor Stephano Mecurio. Who is a plant biologist at the University of Florence, in Italy.
And, when he started to give a talk to people, ah on the rostrum there, he’ll have a big picture on the screen there behind him. And, it’ll be a picture of grass, like a meadow, with trees in the background. And, he’ll say to the people, well what do you see here. And, they’re looking hard for what they can see. And, they can’t see anything!
Then, he’ll put up the next slide, which is the same picture, but this time he’s got a little herd, of five or six deer in the foreground. Now, what do you see? Oh we see the deer! Wow! And he puts on the first slide again, and says now look at this. Look at all those trees! Look at all the grasses! Living things, living beings, and you didn’t even see them. And, that’s what he calls, ‘Plant Blindness’. Where so many people just take trees and plants for granted. They‘re just in the background.
For some of us, thank goodness, they’re in the foreground of our life. But, for a lot of people, they’re just there. And, of course for some people, when they do see the tree, they look at upon it as being something – we can fell those trees, and cut them up for firewood. We can fell those trees, and build a house out of them. We can feel that tree, ‘cause, it’s blocking our view. We can fell that tree, because we want to plant an orchard. So, very little thought is actually given to that tree, and, to those trees. They’re just there. So this is what they term plant blindness. Taking things for granted, and if we do stop and think about it. It, it changes your whole perception when you suddenly realize this. And, I guess we’re all guilty of it.
I often say, as an example to folk. You head off to work in the morning, and you get out the front door, and you pat the dog on the head, and say hello. And, as you walk down the driveway, towards the front of your house, the pathway – the cat’s there, and you say hello to the cat. And, you’re walking past all the bushes in the garden, and it’s pretty down the side of the driveway. And, there’s a bird singing up there. You might glance up and notice it’s a thrush. And, you’ve acknowledged the animals. You’ve acknowledged the seeing the cat, and dog, and you’ve acknowledged the bird. But, you have not – most people haven’t acknowledged the tree.
The tree is just there! Once again, it’s in the background. So, that’s one aspect of plant blindness. So, I guess, because – I mean, I’m looking out my window here, and of course, we’re surrounded by trees, and paddocks. Well, grass, and gardens, and long distance views. All I can see is trees, and I’m quite at peace. Living in a place like this, and it’s just wonderful! There are those of course, who just don’t have that opportunity, but what I’m sharing with you today, will hopefully open up peoples to more opportunities for themselves, to actually not take trees, and plants for granted.
And, case in point. Where we do have indoor plants, we nurture them, we feed them, and water them – hopefully! And, we love and admire them, and we’ll talk to them too. And, it’s the same with intrepid gardeners, with vegetable gardeners, etc. When they’re out in the garden, planting seeds, or tending the broccoli, and things as they grow, they’ll talk to the plants. And so, actually is a jolly good idea. Because, plants can hear – we’ll go into that shortly. But plants can hear you, and they can respond. And, they respond with music of the plants.
It’s creating songs. That’s…. That’s their voice, so plant blindness is something that, if we are aware of that term, we can then apply it in our everyday life. And, hopefully people listening to our little chat, when they’ve finished and they have the opportunity to go outside, and the weather’s right – there’s not six foot of snow on the ground. To actually go to a tree, and just look at it, and put their hands out and touch the tree, and talk to it for goodness sake!