OK – let’s go from here, that we are talking about a form of gardening that goes beyond normal ego-functioning gardening.
Going beyond the rational
Preceding the mystical
Rational gardening would seem to me to be oriented around the person, the personal, the little self. It would follow well laid down scientific rules, eg NPK, and find things like biodynamics quite off the wall and magical. Humanity has followed this sort of gardening for much of the 20th century, and begun pushing it even further into rationalism with genetic mutation of plants in order to try to “help” the potential world food shortages. We have also managed to completely mess up the Earth to an extent that it is now impossible to stop the climate change and its consequences by following a “rational approach”.
James Lovelock said this 20+ years ago and again more recently. His views are now understood in many scientific circles to be an accurate prediction of our future.
In order to survive humanity must go beyond the limitations of the rational and proceed actually into the mystical. The Transpersonal is one way of doing this.
Human beings have learned to become conscious of “self” with a small “s” but are still very chary of admitting to “Self” with a big “S”, despite the fascination with psychology that has been prevalent since Freud. “Psyche” is the Greek word for soul, so psychology is soul-ology but there are few practitioners of psychology who dare to admit that.
Eco-psychology has become fashionable and more prevalent over the past few years as folk have realised the reality of global warming and climate change … and the human beings are the cause of these changes.
In order to move out of rational thinking to a transpersonal approach to gardening one needs to be aware of the soul … the anima … in everything, not just in human beings. This can be difficult if you find it hard to allow that things other than humans have consciousness and awareness, even if you cannot understand it.
The transpersonal perspective would be that all Life has consciousness and awareness, although it is different from what we know as humans.
As transpersonal practitioners, in order to work with our clients, we ask rather than tell. As transpersonal gardeners we do the same. Most of us have worked with active imagination … perhaps wanting to believe that it was all in our heads J … so we have some experience of discovering things that our rational minds had not thought of. Active imagination is one of the techniques transpersonal gardeners can use, those of us with a shamanic bent would call it journeying.
When I was training with Ian & Barbara we were always told to ask … in AI work to ask whatever it was we encountered on the journey, be it animal, plant, tree, person, unicorn, goddess or whatever. In gardening I do the same. If I want to know what the soil needs I ask it; if I want to know what a plant needs I ask it. When designing the garden here I spent time with the spirit of place of this land, the is house and garden, and asked her what she would like. I also said to her that I would like various things, like a wildlife pond and to grow my own veg, and asked how she felt about that. We talked, negotiated, discussed, and found we both liked what the other proposed. Everyone who comes here loves the place and the garden so I feel the SoP and I did a good job J.
That can sound off the wall to some people. How can you talk to a garden? A plant? A place? Let alone a spirit … J. Well, you can. And, no, I don’t need sectioning nor anti-psychotic drugs et al. How do you climb over this tremendous hurdle to enable people to believe they can talk to things that don’t look at all like themselves?
We’ve done a reasonable job of the same problem that used to occur between White Man and any other race on this planet. Remember the pictures of “natives” hung in cages? The prejudices against “monkey-man”, “ape-man”, “black-man”, “Chink”, “Nip”, even the “gooks” of the Viet Nam war, etc, etc? Well, sooner or later, human beings are going to have to get over their prejudices against what is not human and discover that they can speak with these creatures, even with spirits.
The transpersonal has a role here in helping this to happen, overcoming people’s fear that they are mad, nuts, abnormal, if they speak with plants. Remember all the guffawing and mickey-taking about Prince Charles talking to his plants? Good use of and training in active imagination – provided it is not dumbed-down into being all in one’s head – is one way of doing this.
When people actually experience communicating with a tree, a plant, and are not laughed at for doing so, they find themselves full of joy, full of awe, they love it. Doing this in the garden, their own garden, is a safe place to begin. Perhaps some practitioners may be able to run some seminars and workshops in their own gardens where people can come and begin to experience this.
This takes me to expanding consciousness and embracing the mystical.
Mysticism – the word comes from the Greek mystikos, meaning an initiate of a mystery religion – is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Active imagination is a way of beginning to learn how to do this.
The word “human” comes from two words, “Hu” meaning god and “man” from the Sanskrit “manas” meaning thinker. So human roughly translates as god-thinker. As such, we will be able to communicate with the divine … and, in so doing, with all of divine creation. We will acquire “mystikos”. But it’s a lot of work to get there. Gardening, caring for the little piece of the Earth that we are guardian to, is a wonderful way of learning how to do this, how to communicate with all Life. Opening one’s mind to the possibility even of communicating with something not-human is the beginning of communicating with, gaining conscious awareness of, ultimate reality, god, whatever you like to call it.
This opening, this turning from the obsession with “self” outwards to the willingness to know not-self, is the key to acquiring mystikos, to knowing the mystical. Transpersonal ways and paths can help us find our way there. Gardening is one of these ways.