The knowledge about medicinal antiogenic plants and their conservation, in addition to the spiritual experience of the Sacred Fire are some of the most powerful moments of the Envision Festival that you will be able to experience, find out who is behind these great initiatives…
From February 27th to March 6th, the best of the festivals will take place in the south of Costa Rica, in Uvita de Osa: “Envisión 2023”. Undoubtedly an event that for more than a decade has generated an incredible impact on the society that has enjoyed it.
It is a festival that has it all: art, international music, yoga and movement classes, the inevitable surf, dancing while watching the sunset on the beach, wellness and spa, authentic local food, workshops, important knowledge from The Living Library and ceremonies filled with spirituality such as the Sacred Fire.
The Living Library
Precisely, on this occasion we are going to detail everything about The Living Library, founded in 2016 in Las Tumbas de Barú, which is a center for the conservation and preservation of antiogenic plants, medicinal plants, some with psychoactives. They have already been participating in the Envisión Festival for some time, and are the same creators of the Sacred Fire, a space where people accompany the lighting of a bonfire, appreciating the moment with indigenous exhibitors and speakers, time for tranquility in a sacred, spiritual place in the jungle by the sea, incredible, right?
We spoke with Christopher Norris, the creator of The Living Library and Sacred Fire activities, he and his team also bring the library to life outside of the festival. Norris, is the main ethnobotanical curator and founder of an extraordinary botanical reserve in the South Pacific zone of Costa Rica.
As we mentioned before, The Living Library is a living seed bank, a center of education and a great service for the local community and for future generations. “It is a focused passion project. We have dedicated ourselves to giving sanctuary to sacred plants and the wisdom of indigenous people who have carried this knowledge for thousands of years,” Christopher said.
Norris’s concern in founding the Living Library was largely due to environmental degradation, overexploitation, and the need of preservation for many World Heritage medicinal plants that are in danger of extinction, as are the older plants that are still alive and represent the last of their kind.
For him, each of the tribal elders exists as a living encyclopedia that, “if they cannot find the luminous students to carry their multigenerational knowledge, it will be lost when they perish.”
In his opinion, the pillars of his work are community, integrity, preservation and education. “We must remember that these medicinal plants are the property of the indigenous communities from which they were derived,” he added.
At The Living Library, they ensure that the cultural knowledge associated with rare plant species is passed on by acting as a bridge between ethnobotanists, forestry experts, conservationists and tribal communities, inspiring a new era of balance in the relationship with our ecosystem. Therefore, they link forms of thought from the autochthonous to the modern, with a strict guardianship as a pillar of the union.
What was your inspiration?
When asked what inspired him to create the Living Library, Christopher replied, “We are catapulted into action by the need to document, study, and carry these vital forms of healing to future generations. If we fail, we will be known as the Generation responsible for dropping down the torch that has been passed through millennia”.
This center is dedicated to educational workshops that inspire and empower the local community. They offer “Hands to the Soil” workdays that allow the community to learn traditional ways of using native plants for food and to cure illnesses. In addition, they celebrate together as a family in prayer at a traditional Mesoamerican steam lodge called a Temazcal. They keep inviting local leaders to give workshops on native plants, their uses and the honorable service of alleviating the suffering of all the inhabitants of the earth.
What other festivals besides the Envision Festival have you been involved with?
Norris assured that in none, the offering of this sacred space is only in Costa Rica and for its people. They seek to repay the support they have received from the local community by organizing a sanctuary within the Envisión festival and for its sponsors.
How many people are working with the Living Library and the Sacred Fire?
As Christopher Norris put it, they are a multinational group of conservationists, tribal elders, community leaders, and local students who are creating an ethic of stewardship of our environment. They are fully supported by donations from the community, which recognizes the importance of their work and commitment to high integrity. Many tribal nations have entrusted them with plants and knowledge of great cultural value.
Future goals and objectives
Among its objectives is seeking alliances with other cultural centers around the world to expand their capacities and raise awareness about the great task they perform. In Christopher’s opinion, it is essential to establish the necessary network to obtain the greatest impact in the preservation of the various endangered plant species and to empower the people who will take their message globally.
More details about the creator of the Living Library and the Sacred Fire
Christopher Norris comes from a farming community in southern Mississippi, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. He arrived in Costa Rica in search of alternative forms of healing after suffering an industrial accident that caused 75% of his body to be burned; thanks to the natural medicines available in the Central American country, he recovered from an extreme case of PTSD and taught others how to heal themselves.
Previously, he was a specialist manager in the nuclear, coal and other industries. After ten years in that career, he was forced to change everything due to his disability by the industrial explosion. Because of what he lived through, he has been motivated to cultivate and preserve natural medicines, which for him and many people are considered sacred, due to the fact that they have been cured with them.
The Living Library, was born from a great responsibility to reduce suffering in the world and is as special as the Sacred Fire, together they will be in the Envision Festival known like an awakening of the soul.
The location of the Living Library is in Las Tumbas de Barú, on the southern Pacific slope of the Talamanca mountains. It represents one of the least botanically studied ecosystems in the country. You can learn more about Christopher’s magnificent work through his networks, on Instagram thelivinglibrary_costarica and his website: Ethnolibrary.org.