© Kat Morgenstern 2003
In classical Greek mythology, the Earth-Goddess Gaia brought forth all life on planet Earth. All the different species of fungi, plants, animals, insects and fish were her children, yet also a part of her body. Gaia breathed life into them all, and all were equally important. An interrelated web of life, each species dependent on all others. From her, all live proceeded and to her all must return. She was the womb and the tomb of life.
This co-evolutionary vision of life recognizes nature itself as the source and sustainer of all existence, the central hub of the wheel on which all the individual strands of life depend. Without her all encompassing nurturing, life would not be possible at all.
This ancient story is echoed in mythologies around the world. It stems from a time long ago, when mankind still had awe and respect for the forces of nature. But then a new belief spread like a cancer across the surface of the earth, deeming mankind to be the pinnacle of creation and demanding that we should take dominion over the earth, and over all that there creepeth...
2000 years later our inheritance is a world of exploitation in which other species are primarily considered for their economic value and everything is up for grabs, for a price, of course. We no longer even respect the God that once upon a time had installed such megaglomanic desires in our souls. Nowadays, we respect no Gods at all no more, neither ancient Earth Goddesses, nor stern Father Gods - our only belief is money, and as for omnipotence - well, we call that science.
Today, we want to play Gods ourselves. Co-creation takes place in the biotec labs where the descendents of Frankenstein fiddle about with molecules of genetic material as if they were legoblocks, dreaming up organisms that not even Gaia could ever imagine. And as confidence, egos and profits are swelling, respect for nature diminishes. Now that we can create lifeforms according to our fancies we all too easily disregard what has taken Mother Nature milllions and millions of years to evolve. More or less in passing we notice species disappearing, one strand of the web after another breaking and falling apart...
So where in the world can we go from here?
These pages are intended as a brief introduction to Ethnobotany. We hope to inform and provide resources for teachers and students as well as lay people who share an interest in the subject. But beyond simply engaging in a typical subject/object study we encourage you to take a deep, good look at the underlying issues with which we are confronted. Follow the links throughout these pages for various articles, resources and links on the subject.
(This website is an evolving project that is constantly growing and changing. Check back often for new articles and pages.)
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