Let us listen deeply to stories of the keepers of the Earth, the Indigenous peoples. Through examining the stories and cultural practices of Indigenous peoples, we can see the ways in which we are deeply connected with nature at the core of our being.
The Story of the Batak People of Palawan, Philippines, and Kiaruwá
The Batak people are an indigenous tribe of northeastern Palawan, a large island on the southwestern side of the Philippines. The Philippines is a country located in Southeast Asia that is made up of over 7,000 islands. The Batak people of northeastern Palawan recognize that all living things carry a soul or a life force, which they call kiaruwá. In “Towards a ‘common logic of procurement’: Unraveling the foraging-farming interface on Palawan Island (The Philippines),” anthropologist Dario Novellino (2011) writes, “[To the Batak], Kiaruwá is the vital principle enlivening plants and animals and everything seen as animate. On another level, kiaruwá is described as the intangible miniature of the body that retains the same features as the physical body; it is the source of consciousness, volition and agency” (p. 109). The Batak people believe that the energy that ignites that spirits of the natural world also invigorates the human spirit and fills us with consciousness and free will. The Batak hold the belief that their main food source, rice, depends upon the relationship between their own human kiaruwá and the kiaruwá of the rice: “Germination of rice seeds and the health of rice plants are said to depend on people’s ability to concentrate the life-forces (kiaruwá) of rice” (Novellino, 2011, p. 112). Here, the thoughts and energies of the Batak people lie in direct relationship with the rice seeds, their own energies, natural elements, and the energies of those in their community.
Next time you walk around the natural landscape near your home, Taylor Pearon invites us to ask ourselves:
“Where did your ancestors walk, and do they now whisper? At what point in this cycle are we now? For those of us who did not inherit much, or any, connection to our lineage – how can we rightfully participate within these realms, rituals, and rites of passage?”
Let nature be your guide through this contemplative process, and consider the ways in which nature communicates with our hearts and spirit through patterns and images that subtly appear through texture, shape, color, sound, taste, and smell.
Novellino, D. (2011). Towards a ‘common logic of procurement’: Unraveling the foraging-farming interface on Palawan Island (The Philippines). In Barker, G., & Janowski, M. (Eds.), Why cultivate?: Anthropological and archaeological approaches to foraging—farming transitions in Southeast Asia (pp. 105-119). Cambridge, United Kingdom: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.