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The Defensive Aloe

There is an aloe in my garden I admire. With spiny fronds that protrude and odd wedges for leaves it looks like a kind of immobile alien.  Viewed from a distance the word curmudgeon comes to mind.  As a plant, the aloe looks defensive. That is because it is, with a supreme elegance. Its adaptions to the harshness of its surrounding are genius.

It is covered in small sharp thorns. Underneath the thorns is a thick waxy skin that prevents it losing moisture. Inside the frond is viscous foul tasting goo that, as a child, my mother would put on my nails to prevent me biting them. When a frond dies it withers and then folds downward to protect the stem- a kind of ever replacing armor.

The aloe that occurs from southern Africa all the way to the Arabian Peninsula (and even makes an appearance in Madagascar) has been perfectly shaped by its environment.

Like the aloe, our patterns of defense have been perfectly shaped by our environment. There is sophistication to a defense mechanism.  Rage, disassociation, isolation were born in us for a reason. Passivity or hyperactivity as a means to feel safe was constructed by the complex maneuvering of the psyche.

To understand and even admire our defense pattern is to step towards wholeness. To thank it for its necessity rather than loathe you for its presence is an invitation to be more yourself.  Not perfect, but on a journey of growth.

At certain times of year, out of the fortress of the aloes defenses, rises a beautiful flowered frond. This is the aloe’s essence. And from this frond, a multitude of beautiful birds come to feed- mirroring the beauty of the aloe’s fronds with the beauty of the birds themselves.

Love your defenses. They protect your essence, which is so beautiful that it can’t help but attract others to it.

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