Tales from the Underground:A Natural History of Subterranean Life by David W. Wolfe

Tales from the Underground:
A Natural History of Subterranean Life
by David W. Wolfe

If you dig into your back yard’s soil just a pinch, David Wolfe tells us the soil you retrieve between your fingers is from a unique underground realm, a surprise riddled dimension of life. In this book, Wolfe, a soil scientist at Cornell University, leads his readers through a fantastic tour of the subsurface biosphere, home to the tiniest of microbes, microscopic threads of fungal hyphae whose total length measurable in miles, not inches, billions of microscopic roundworms called nematodes, a dozen to several hundred earthworms, 100,000 to 500,000 insects, other arthropods, and staggering numbers of single-celled organisms can be found.

Larger species of subterranean life and assorted critical topics are also discussed. These include prairie dogs, a keystone species that prior to being the target of genocidal attack from settlers numbered in the billions, black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, the centrality of the nitrogen cycle and critical issues pertaining to the soil and ecology.

But here is what caught my eye:

As a homeopathic I am enthralled with the power of gemstone remedies such as Adamas, made from diamond, but also other gems such as Sapphire, Amethyst, Quartz Crystal, Ruby, and Emerald. What intrigues me is Wolfe’s discussion of the origin of life, seemingly a property emergent from inorganic crystals of which the gemstones are emblematic:

Introducing remarkable “extremophile” forms of life Wolfe argues that life on our planet most likely began not as is often thought in the primordial ocean but instead deep beneath the surface under extreme temperature conditions. Extremophile life seems to have sprung out of the earth itself, from clay crystals whose complex structure and chemistry apparently served in the evolutionary role of infra-structure template for the first, most primitive organisms. As increasing numbers of organic molecules such as those in amino and nucleic acids took over clay’s replication and synthesis functions the template could then be discarded.  Theorists speculate that clay made possible the very first sequencing of simple proteins and genes thanks to its unique properties.

The name given to the first man “Adam” in Genesis reflects our origins, an emanation from out of the earth. The similarly named, diamond derived Adamas addresses a profoundly existential question relating to our core identity: do I belong on this earth? As a substance diamond’s core consciousness expresses the dilemma of belonging vs utmost disengagement (that as a remedy it treats).  A collateral Adamas issue: “Must the experience of deep grief disable me from the experience of joy?” goes to the heart of our earthbound existence.

The technical term for the complex relationship holding between soil and the original spark of life is biomineralization, a vibrant, new field.

To further explore the gemstones and their deep meanings, Peter Tuminello’s lovely book, Twelve Jewels cannot be recommended highly enough.

 

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