You can find witches and environmentalists who say that gardens are bad; gardens change the ecosystem and require too much [water, compost, weeding, mowing, take-your-pick]. And, I get all of that. And I can get pretty rhapsodic in the woods, on a river bank, up in the mountains, at the liminal space between water and sand at the shore, in places that haven't been gardened.
And, yet. And, still.
For me, gardening is a way of being in deep relationship with the land. Gardening Hecate is as much a part of the land as is Bossy Cardinal, Gentle but Gigantic Bluejay, Ancient Oak, the Fireflies that Eat the Mosquitoes, and the Moss That Grows Between the Patio Stones. I dig my fingers into the soil, I place seeds where I want them to grow, I sit and listen to the land and figure out what it wants. And, then, we cooperate.
My garden does for me what Ram Dass' book did for so many of my generation: My garden calls to me to Be Here Now. I can be thinking of work, family issues, politics, the frustrations of Living While Female in the Patriarchy, and then go out to sit with the maple, and the ostrich ferns, and the Japanese Temple Pines and, all of a sudden, a few hours have passed, I'm completely at peace, and I've engaged in a spiritual practice as old as womankind. I can go out to weed the herb bed and the containers of mint, and bergamot, and lemon grass, and, somehow, I come away feeling as if I've wreaked at least a bit of order (such as it is) in this tiny corner of a universe constantly balancing between mad, creative, chaos and lovely, secure, order. I can walk around and smell the lilacs, the just-about-to-bloom sage, the tarragon ("dragon's wort" to my witchy mind), and the French thyme, and come inside high as a kite, as mad as any worshiper of Dionysus, intoxicated by the simple over-stimultion of the connection between the cells on the inside of my nose and the neurons in my brain.
And, so, I am a gardener.
May it, if you wish it, be so for you.
Photo of tarragon in the herb bed by the author. If you copy, please link back.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."