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The intimacy of the earth

by Pamella Gonzalez

Editor’s note: This post is Pamella's final project from the 2022-2023 school year. Her moss tapestry was woven on a loop, with materials including dried moss, preserved over time, and hand sewn together, and kitchen twine dyed different shades of green.

A woven tapestry of moss

In the years leading up to my time at ArborVitae I was feeling very disconnected from myself. I felt untethered and struggled to feel connected to anything. Through this time I put all my efforts towards cleaning my vision; recognizing the ways in which the “weeds” were overtaking my garden. I began to study the ways in which the earth moves through cycles, the way in which the earth teaches us how to live in harmony and honor change. The more time I spent committed to seeing these connections, the fog began to clear. The earth became my teacher. The land became my mirror, she began to reflect the ways in which I was living disconnected from nature. Mother Nature ~ she leads by example, finding grace in the promise of change, and flowing with the mystery of tomorrow. Suddenly I was able to see the ways in which my troubles were grounded in my resistance to change and an undetermined future. As summer lead to fall I began to make peace with these truths. I stopped gripping at last season’s leaves and allowed the wind to carry them away. Deciding to come to herb school felt like a commitment to this newfound truth. I had not a clue as to what would happen next, but knew that I needed to be there. 

On our first day of class we were asked to invite an herb into the circle. In that moment my mind went straight to moss. I had spent the summer hiking throughout the Scottish Highlands, mesmerized by the density of the moss covering everything. Everywhere I looked there were luscious little worlds at my feet. Moss is a reflection on the ways in which we overlook our blessings. Moss sends messages of resilience, of fortitude, a reminder to keep our visions expansive. As a small detail that sometimes blends in to the scenery, if we allow ourselves to look closer, moss allows the remembering to dream big and stay in gratitude. This step into herb school helped me to embody these moss messages. As the months passed and I was exposed to many different herbalists, and my visions and dreams grew bigger and bigger. My scope of possibility expanded. For the first time I was living in a space where I had no idea what was to come next and felt empowered by the unformed potential. 

A second image of the woven tapestry of moss.

The ways in which I am changing feel so true to my nature and have given me a sense of purpose. I feel as if I am starting to understand what it means to find home in myself. This walk home has evolved through many chapters, and while I am committed to offering up my discomfort to find this home, the walk towards the center of your self can feel quite lonely at times. Through building relationship with the natural world, it is made clear that there is no such thing as being alone. As my senses have become attuned to the subtlety of the world around me, I have become more aware of the ways in which I experience intimacy in every thing that I do. Why are these connections lost? Why has romantic intimacy become paramount? Through these reflections I have recognized that the language and expectations that I had placed on my ideas around intimacy were misguided and watered down. In longing for connection I had hoped to be seen and supported, inspired and in love in a place of reciprocation. The lessons being passed down to me are teaching me to listen deeper, to look closer. As my body meets the earth, as raindrops kiss my cheeks, as branches wave to me, as the fragrance of jasmine touches my nose, I am beginning to realize that intimacy and connection are blessing me in every moment. 

This herbal lens has shifted my foggy disconnected vision to a bright and inspired groundedness. I am beginning to understand true intimacy. As I step out in to the world, now I can feel deep connection with the land. Getting quiet, looking closely, challenging my comfort, its all a part of the journey that seems to be cracking me open. I feel like a seedling having just busted through the darkness of the cold winter soil. As the sun hits my leaves and I feel family all around me, I realize there is no place to feel alone in this world.


Pamella Gonzalez is a second-year student at ArborVitae. Find her on Instagram @pamellagonzalez


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