A few weeks ago I was tending to my garden and found that Earth stars had come to my yard. Earth stars are mushrooms that look like stars. The insides of the little ball are filled with spores and when it rains, they open up and scatter their offspring to their fates. The Blackfeet Nation said they were stars that had fallen to Earth and foretold miraculous events.
The fact that the Earth star is a mushroom makes me think of the recent discoveries that many different species of life in the forest are connected through fungi, especially as discussed in Suzanne Simard’s book Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. According to Simard’s book, in the forest, the Mother Trees, the elders, send nutrients to the young ones even as they are dying so that the next generation may live. My little back yard is halfway between yard, garden, and forest, and we have a very old Mother Tree in my yard and another in the yard right behind ours, near whose border I found the earth stars.
Perhaps my little Earth stars are telling me that, just as life in the forest is connected by fungi, we humans are connected to all beings, whether we consider them alive or not, in the cosmos.
Many people across many cultures and times consider every element of the universe to be alive. The stars and planets, the stones, mountains, oceans, rivers, landscapes, elements, and all else have a presence and a soul, are powered by the same life force that keeps our own hearts beating. Our era’s view of the universe as dead chunks of this or that burning, revolving, exploding, coming into being and disintegrating, exploitable and for purchase by the highest bidder is an anomaly in the history of our species.
Perhaps the old ones of our galaxy, the stars and planets billions of years older than our own sun and Earth, and even the dying stars about to explode are sending energy and nourishment to our souls, we young ones who know so little of how to care for our own planet. Perhaps they know we can grow up to be all we are meant to be, so that we can be the next generation of wise ones in a few million years.
Maybe the Earth stars, not only in my yard, but present on every continent except Antarctica, are one way the cosmos is telling us that it is on our side, that it will give us what it can to help if we will just look up in awe at the magnificence of the night sky, focus our time on healing and revering our Earth and all the beings on it, and learn to be content with having enough so that our planet can continue in its course. This idea makes me think of the landscapes that have been ravaged and laid bare by humans but come, almost miraculously, back to life in a couple of years.
But we are running out of second chances, environmentally and in other spheres. Being part of a living universe means we have more responsibility than if we were simply causing our own destruction in a void empty of other life. Being part of a living universe means we deprive all existence of the amazing feats of creativity and compassion that humans are capable of if we do not do what is needed to bring the Earth and ourselves back to the beauty and abundance of what should be life on our planet. I am taking my Earth stars as a sign that the universe still has faith we can do what we must and is willing to keep on sending us “nutrients,” whether that be inspiration from nature’s mystery, or new scientific or spiritual knowledge, or just comfort to keep going from a walk in the woods until we succeed in bringing our planet and species into harmony and wholeness.
As I rake my leaves over the next couple of weeks and break the pods to release their spores to fly free to their next destination, I will look up into the sky, wave and say “I see you! I hear you! Thank you!”’