Go back inside yourself and look: if you do not yet see yourself as beautiful [i.e., as participating in the Idea of Beauty], then do as the sculptor does with a statue he wants to make beautiful; he chisels away one part, and levels off another, makes one spot smooth and another clear, until he shows forth a beautiful face on the statue. Like him, remove what is superfluous, straighten what is crooked, clean up what is dark and make it bright, and never stop sculpting your own statue, until the godlike splendor of virtue shines forth to you…. If you have become this, and seen it, and become pure and alone with yourself, with nothing now preventing you from becoming one in this way, and have nothing extraneous mixed with your self… if you see that this is what you have become, then you have become a vision.
Four members of the Kaxinawá Tribe from the Brazilian Amazon state of Acre, on the borders with Peru, visited Kew earlier this week to bless the plants in a traditional ceremony.
Spiritual leaders (Pajé) Txana Ikakuru and Isarewe Huni Kunin led the traditional blessing ceremony. They were accompanied by Dani Shawarakani on her first trip outside the homelands of the Kaxinawá.
The Pajé chanted two separate blessings while seated on the Palm House floor, covered in a bed of leaves for the occasion. The blessing invoked the forest guardian spirits and was for all the plants of the world. Photo credit: RBG, Kew.
The banyan tree is central to several Asian religions including Hinduism & Buddhism. Banyan refers to many species of fig, but most specifically to the Indian banyan, Ficus benghalensis. Banyans also serve a practical purpose, as a shady place for merchants to meet – banya is from the Gujarati word for trader. The epiphytic tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground – a convenient metaphor for forces beyond human control, or struggle more generally. The banyan is sacred to Buddhists as a place of reflection. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have sat under a banyan for seven days, reflecting.