Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Spiritual Practice of Organic Gardening

I've discovered an interesting and sad thing in trying to get the word out about my book Sacred Land: Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political & Environmental Change (Llewellyn, 2007). There seems to be a fear or perhaps a disinterest among gardeners in talking about spirituality. I find this strange, because most gardeners I know would attest to the spiritual nature of their organic garden. Growing food and working with the land brings us face to face with Spirit, the Goddess, God, Life, the Powers That Be. But no straight garden blogger, radio show host, or magazine will talk about that. (Possibly it's the Goddess part that scares people? Is it safer to talk about God in the American garden?)

I think we dearly need a spirituality that includes the planet in order to save ourselves from our current environmental crisis. When the Earth is sacred, we will shift our values to live sustainably. We will stop the coal burning, gas guzzling, chemical spraying, and strip mining. We will honor our neighbors of all species. We will spend our money on living well in right relationship, and not killing ourselves, our children, and our planet.

These are goals most gardeners share, by nature of their reliance on and love for the soil, sun, and water that bless their hobby or profession. So what is it about naming the process of gardening integral, intuitive, and spiritual that leaves the gardeners so silent?

If you are a gardener, and you think gardening is a spiritual practice or brings you in contact with Spirit by whatever name, stand up and be counted. Our very lives may depend on it. I invite you to share your stories and thoughts here.


Courtney Putnam said...

While I don't consider myself a Gardener with a capital G, I have had many wonderful experiences with gardening and planting and being in nature. I find gardening very spiritual. Even as a kid, I remember playing in my dad's garden and believing that gnomes and elves lived in little tunnels in the earth, helping the roots of the plants forge their paths. I feel very connected, open, and receptive when I garden--and I have some of my best philosophical musings with dirt under my fingernails.

I think there is something quite profound about being so close to growth and resilience when gardening. I gain a feeling a strength when I see those "weeds" popping back up, realizing that even when life uproots me, I can re-root myself and grow again. "Weeds" are a wonderful symbol of strength and perseverance.

Great post, Clea.


Erika Hastings said...

Here is a beautiful quote along the lines of what you were talking about:

"We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything else will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."

-On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Conservation of the Earth's Resources, p.15