Volume 29, Issue 3, 2019
Philosophy in an Age of Crisis, Part III
Healing in the Chthulucene
Becoming beyond Human with Medicinal Plants
The term “Anthropocene” is frequently used to refer to the present planetary epoch, characterized by a geological signature of human activities, which have led to global ecological crises. This paper probes at what it means to be human on earth now, using healing as a concept to orient humanity in relation to other species, and particularly medicinal plants. Donna Haraway’s concept of the “Chthulucene” is used as an alternate lens to the Anthropocene, which highlights the inextricable linkages between humans and other-than-human species. Healing can be viewed as a type of embodied orientation or engagement with the world, which has the potential to reach across boundaries of the skin, blur distinctions between self and other, and allow for both transpersonal and trans-species reconciliation. I focus my attention on Indigenous Shipibo healing rituals, and Shipibo concepts of healing that integrate humans within the ecosystem, and traverse species boundaries through communication with and embodiment of plant spirits. These healing rituals offer ways of coming into being within an ecology of selves—both internal and external, human and non-human—through listening and lending voice. I explore the potential for healing and ritual to work as a form of porous resistance through the internal blurring of binaries and hierarchical structures.