I have heard about the power of smoke on seed germination, such as after a forest fire, about 15 years ago… seeds that need to be scarified to sprout may be given a softer treatment: smoking, or smudging, and the result is the same. Is it just the fire, the smoke, the combination of fire and smoke that bring the seeds to life after a bush fire? Sometimes it appears that smoke can be a substitute treatment for a harsher germination promoter like fire.
Sample of a research on smoke
I kept this interest alive and let it stay in my consciousness until this year when I got introduced to a liquid that is smokey… some call it smoke-water. The product can greatly stimulate plant growth, among others. Here is a good link to the smoke-germination subject: http://anpsa.org.au/seed.html An extract follows:
Research in South Africa and Western Australia has shown that smoke is a critical factor for promoting germination of seeds in areas subject to bushfires. The following articles outline some of the general principles involved:
On a large scale, an apparatus like that below can be used to apply smoke to batches of seed. However, this is not particularly practical for the average home propagator.
Diagram from Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Short Report No.48
One practical method of applying smoke treatment is the use of smoked water as a pre-treatment where seed is soaked for 12 hours in a 9:1 water:smoke-water solution. Smoke water can be produced by bubbling smoke through a container of water for about 60 minutes after which the solution is frozen until needed. However, even this is a bit messy…”
So, what is in the smoke? Some 10 years ago, a friend told me that she had all sorts of health problems as a young child, including having a congenital cyst or growth on top of her head. The local healer included a daily exposure to smoke and this lasted for weeks. Of course this is something that is usually done along with other treatments. But the use of smoke has been a phenomenon especially among indigenous cultures, from food to agriculture, from worship to healing, especially for cleansing of energies. “Luop”, “palina” are among practices still being done by local folks to reverse negative situations and to remove negative energies or factors. Rituals in religious practices also use smoke through incense, herbals and others.
Some Science on Smoke
Recently there was an article written about smoke in relation to seed germination: http://news.discovery.com/earth/plants-smoke-growth-fire.html : SMOKE’S PLANT-BOOSTING POWERS FOUND. The gist is this: Scientists are zeroing in on the molecules in smoke that help plants grow. Here is another one… http://www.redandblack.com/news/prof-researches-plant-growth-caused-by-smoke/article_3f257560-8f1f-5a58-ab88-67301c812fa2.html : Prof. researches plant growth caused by smoke.
And another: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/30/science/la-sci-smoke30-2010mar30 which says… Smoke linked to stronger, thicker plant growth… Researchers find that chemicals in smoke called karrikins trigger plant genes associated with light sensitivity. The findings could have implications for commercial farming and fire recovery.
Indeed one can see more articles written (popular or scientific) on the subject in the internet. Visit the following for more:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168945209001824 Karrikins: A new family of plant growth regulators in smoke
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/305/5686/977.short A Compound from Smoke That Promotes Seed Germination
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/np900630w Butenolides from Plant-Derived Smoke: Natural Plant-Growth Regulators with Antagonistic Actions on Seed Germination
http://www.uv.es/jgpausas/teach/3469-Keeley1998Ecology79.pdf SMOKE-INDUCED SEED GERMINATION IN CALIFORNIA CHAPARRAL
http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/selections_3_29_10.shtml How smoke helps plants recover after fire
Why my current interest in smoke?
I am intrigued by the “quantum” aspects of smoke… something beyond the chemicals in smoke, on the esoteric or mystical nature of smoke. Some articles that I recently encountered are given below:
http://tribalglobe.com/freshnews/tag/ancient-knowledge/ : The Ancient Art of Smudging
http://www.entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=357 : Ancient Psychoactive Incense and Preparations
The subject is vast. Literature is equally overflowing. Suffice to say here that the science behind smoke can give explanation to the effectiveness of indigenous practices. Smoking partially releases the ether of a substance and in that ether resides the mystical power, the opposite or enhanced effect of the substance. There is interaction between the fire and the other substances and related practices, but also with the intention and nature of the healer her/himself. Burning can be also done biologically, and that is why microorganism are considered the firehouse of the soil. Thus the power of the compost, and our bodies, as our digestive system orchestrates transformation together with microorganisms and enzymes in the gut. It is also in these venues where transubstantiation or transmutation occurs, or where the nature of an element is altered to become an entirely different element (imagine how silicon may become phosphorus; milk from blood). Through smoke the principle of ”like cures like” or of homeopathy is also actualized where the opposite effect may be imparted for as long as the preparation is very dilute and potentized. Imagine for example that coffee which is a stimulant can be the cure for mental hyperactivity.
One could look at the quantum phenomenon of smoke this way also… the organism is a product of a series of contraction and expansion. The property of the part (example fruit-seed) may be opposite to the other part which represents expansion (example leaves). Thus, the pepper fruit’s spiciness is countered by the plant’s leaves, the durian flesh’s smell is countered by the shell that contained the flesh, etc. There are many examples of these polarities which have been tapped by people of long ago. A favorite link which deals with biodynamics and contains this discussion is http://oregonbd.org/Class/Mod3.htm
The similarity of the effect of ash and smoke in healing is something that I would like to explore further. Ash is what remains after burning while smoke is the one that goes into the air/ether. In Agnihotra-Homa Therapy the ash is a major product with great and varied uses. Here is an extract from an article on Agnihotra in Compas: http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/magazines/global/challenging-water-scarcity/experimenting-within-farmers-worldviews
Comparative experiments have been carried out to test the impact of Agnihotra. These experiments have been reported in Madan and Manohar (1990). Dr. B.G. Bhujbal of Pune’s M.J.P. Agricultural University has conducted experiments in germinating grape seed and rooting grape cuttings treated with Agnihotra. He reported that seeds germinate in 21 days whilst the control sample took 6 months to germinate. Cuttings treated with Agnihotra developed better roots than the control sample. Dr Ramashraya Mishra experimented with the germination and development of wheat plants. He compared the growth of plants treated with hotra, those grown in the traditional way, and those in a control sample.
Similar trends have been observed among my students who did their thesis on agnihotra.
More next time.