My first exposure to cocreative gardening came in the early 1980s when I read The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation by W. I. Thompson. I didn’t understand it at first; my imagination was filled with visions of fairies, elves and all sorts of magical creatures hiding in the woods and pastures …and gardens that surrounded my home.
‘I can do this’ I thought, so I proceeded to try and open myself to whatever communications these little creatures might offer. After years of fruitless attempts to see and hear something, anything, I gave up. I was tired of thinking I wasn’t good enough, pure enough, in touch enough, something enough and decided to just believe the entities existed and maybe one day I would become enough of whatever it was I lacked.
I grew many gardens through the years, mostly using organic methods. I made raised beds, double-dug beds, circle and star-shaped beds and of course, straight rows. I shoveled countless loads of all sorts of animal manures. I talked to my plants, my tools, the soil, the rocks and even the occasional crow, rabbit and groundhog—offering them what they needed and asking they not take all the produce.
In the early years of my gardening, I did not like the feel of dirt on my hands. Then, without my realizing it, I came to delight in the soil; I began to relish in the smell and feel of garden dirt alive with nutrients, free of manufactured chemicals and additives. It was clean, sacred and it grew vegetables and fruits that I could eat right off the plants. I was proud of it. These things became such a delight for me that I didn’t think much about contact with Nature spirits. I knew in my gut they were there, and audible or visual proof was no longer an issue.
Despite my years of airy-fairy, gut-level beliefs, I have always had a strong logical side as well. I like to know the how and why of things. And so, in the late 1990s when I found Machaelle Small Wright’s Perelandra Garden Workbook, I was thrilled. At last, a nuts-and-bolts version of working with Nature intelligences that I could do successfully.
Communication is Key
A few years later, I was back on my family’s land with acres available and a powerful tiller as my ally. As soon as I read how to get started, I immediately went outside on a cold winter night early in 2003, stood wrapped in a blanket in my front yard, and declared out loud to Nature that I wanted to work with together cocreatively, starting first on a vegetable garden and then eventually all over. I felt excited and anxious.
Machaelle’s methods use kinesiology to get information, and this was something I could relate to. I had exposure to kinesiology through chiropractic care and from a college class. Trusting myself to use it and get accurate answers was another matter. Never mind my doubts, I decided I should simply forge ahead, cut myself some slack, go with what I got and see what happened.
Not content with a small garden, I went big, 50 x 99 feet big. My garden was huge compared to anything I had ever planted before. I spent hours asking questions of the Deva of the garden and all the Nature intelligences involved with the garden. I made a large chart with the rows laid out and plant varieties marked and color-coded. I was psyched for my big adventure.
Collaborating with Insects
I tilled and hoed and raked and shed blood and sweat but no tears—only joyous labor. I was occasionally plagued by biting insects, so I decided to talk to them directly. I recognized the god in blood-sucking insects and decided this recognition and a fair warning was enough to ease any guilt over their death, should they continue their attacks on my flesh. About half the time, the little guys would actually go away with my first warning. I was amazed.
My first year working with Nature produced a bountiful garden that inspired me to continue using the cocreative Perelandra methods. It wasn’t a perfect garden by any means, but the whole idea is to restore balance, and that can take a while. The second year was more spectacular and even impressed the hard-core skeptics that I had let in on my little cocreative secret. The teasing, chiding and derisive comments ceased.
I now know in a tangible way that Nature has been there waiting for me since I first learned of Findhorn many years ago. It only took me being ready for our relationship to sprout, blossom and grow before the path could be revealed.
Deborah Denmark lives in Cullowhee, NC, where she will be finishing a degree in Natural Resource Conservation Management in May of 2009. During the summers, she often teaches ceramics and weaving at Camp Merrie Woode in Sapphire Valley. She spins yarn, knits, crochets, has backpacked 230+ miles on the Appalachian Trail, has five grown children and nine grandchildren and a tenth on the way. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.