Recognizing Source: Indigenous Wisdom from Lyla June

These reflections are inspired by an interview with Lyla June at

In my journey an important lesson is recognizing sources. As I eat, I consider what is the source of this that sustains me? I consider it and give thanks to it, whether it is nearby and wholesome or distant and complicated. The practice inspires spiritual exercise to have a greater capacity to consider that question, as a complete answer is ineffable. Giving thanks to the source does a lot of things, one of which is remind with humility that we too are a source.

Much thanks to Lyla June for the leadership and wisdom she shares. Truth, faith, compassion.

Favorite excerpt from this great discussion:
“That’s what sparked my journey into traditional foods revitalization as well as language revitalization—because to truly change our relationship to food, we have to change the paradigm by which we live. Even the word “food” is a noun [in English]—it’s an object, it’s static, it’s lifeless, it’s dead. But in [Indigenous] languages, food is always a verb, in the sense that it’s derived from a verb. This is because for us, food is a dynamic, living process that is constantly in flux.

Can you give us an example of how food is dynamic?

As [a Native person] you are not just thinking about the nut you’re eating; you’re thinking about the ancestors who planted that chestnut tree 60 years ago with ceremony and with song. You’re thinking about how you burned around the chestnut tree to prevent overpopulation of the forest and to return nutrients to the soil and to smudge the trees—it’s a ceremony.

When you look at that nut, you’re thinking about the rains that came, and you’re thinking about the mycelium that nourishes and sustains the soil for the chestnut tree. You’re thinking about going out in the forest by the dozens and harvesting chestnuts as a community. You’re thinking about shelling them, grinding them, processing them, and mixing them with other foods to create superfood mixtures. You’re thinking about the spirit of that chestnut tree and how she’s like your mother. You’re thinking about how we planted chestnut forests with our bare hands and always spaced them far enough apart so the disease couldn’t travel through them, to keep them healthy. You’re thinking about the plants that are sisters and brothers to the chestnut that grow around the tree.

One reply

  1. cr0 says:

What do you think?