Dreaming of a Magickal Garden
Article ID: 15051
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: April 29th. 2012
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I may not have added my usual ďÖas a Broke College StudentĒ onto the title of this essay, but I assure you that this essay can apply to broke college students as well as those older and younger. Why do I say that? Because, at the time of writing this, Iím still a broke college student myself (or, rather, a soon-to-be broke college graduate) . However, Iím sure this is something you all have thought about at one point or another, whether youíre still trying to envision this magickal garden or have already created it. And, as Iím currently enjoying a Goddess-sent burst of inspiration over my spring break (with plans for a quiet Ostara celebration tomorrow night) , I thought this might be a fun topic to talk about. I mean... spring is here in all its glory. What better topic is there than gardening?
Thereís something about gardening thatís, in my mind at least, inexorably tied to modern Witchcraft and Paganism. Perhaps Iíve tried to envision the wise women and men of old, with their herbal cures for nearly any known illness. Or perhaps Iíve been in my momís herb garden in our back yard, initially trying to get the dogs to stop eating the parsley then staying to linger and admire her huge lavender plant right next to the porch steps (Seriously, for a woman who doesnít follow a Pagan path, my mom is an amazing gardener) . And thereís the factor that Iím spending spring break with my grandparents and Grammy has this fantastic garden surrounding her house which, while not yet in full bloom, looks gorgeous. Whatever the reason, thereís something about gardening that calls to the Witch in me, and Iím sure itís called to the Witch or Pagan in you.
But a garden, particularly the garden of your dreams, isnít always the easiest to realize in real life, now, is it? Many of us donít own a house with a yard or space to make a garden, much less the garden we always dreamed of. Heck, to many members of the broke college student demographic, owning a house seems like a far-off prospect. For me personally, I donít plan on buying a house for at least a few years after college because I donít think Iíll have the funds for one. Along with that, we also need to account for all of the resources that go into building an amazing garden. Plants are not cheap. For example, Iíve been looking in a couple catalogs for lilac shrubs because I love lilacs. I love their fragrance, their flowers, their correspondences and that they can grow well in the area where Iíd like to live (Southern Minnesota) . However, purchasing a lilac shrub to put in my garden-to-be would cost me around $30-35. Now, multiply that by how many lilac shrubs Iíd like to put in my gardenóyeah, Iíd go bankrupt if I tried that right now.
Okay, so building a dream garden is rife with problems. Letís talk about how to make it go a little more smoothly.
Tip #1 is to do your homework. Seriously. Know what kinds of plants youíd like to have in your garden, what they require as far as shade/water/space, what their magickal properties and correspondences are, what kind of care they require, etc. In particular, you should research which hardiness zones they can and cannot survive in. The U.S., for example, has a map detailed with various zones relating to the climates plants can live in, ranked by number. Plant vendors and greenhouses should have the zones for the plant listed on the label/tag. The U.S. Hardiness Zone map has recently been updated to account for various climate changes, so I highly encourage you to check it out.
There are a number of Wiccan and Pagan books and resources on this particular subject matter. I think that nature is often at the heart of Paganism. Itís kind of a no-brainer that there would be a plethora of resources regarding magickal plants. The two authors Iíd recommend the most are Scott Cunningham and Ellen Dugan. Cunninghamís book Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs is one of the most comprehensive sources on the properties and correspondences of plants in magick. The knowledge he presents in this book ranges from plants Iíd have to travel the world to see like the Banyan tree to plants Iíd love to grow either as houseplants or in my dream garden like lavender. Combine that with his renown as a Wiccan author, and itís an absolute must. As for Ellen Dugan, sheís written numerous books on magickal plants and gardening. Her first book, Garden Witchery, was filled with tons of great information about gardening, and it was the only way I found about hardiness zones while I was reading about this. In addition, she shares numerous experiences sheís had with her own gardens and makes everything really accessible, along with covering a large range of gardening-related topics. Sheís my favorite author on the subject of magickal gardening.
Tip #2 is to talk to other people about starting up a garden. Even if not many people take well to discussions about magick and Paganism, gardening in general is often a good topic that few people will question. In addition, there are probably several people you know who have a keen interest or good experience with gardening. Remember how I mentioned my own mom in the beginning? Sheís definitely got a green thumb when it comes to gardening. Her flowers always come up beautifully, and her herb garden has fared well for the last few years. The lavender, in particular, has come up strong this year (though it might be going a little out of control) . This summer weíre planning on working on the flower boxes she has on our back porch together before I head off to start my summer job. And then thereís my grandma on my dadís side. Iíve been going to Grammyís house for as long as I can remember. And sheís always had a large garden with a variety of beautiful flowers. This spring break, in particular, sheís generously offered me her plant catalog as well as the chance to look at all of her gardening books. And weíve had a number of good chances to chat about gardening, which Iíve enjoyed immensely.
The only issue I can think of as Iím writing this is about how to handle talking about the Pagan aspects of gardening. While I think it wise to keep magickal and religious practices secret from those who would seek to do us harm because of what we believe, I still struggle slightly with the idea of leaving out certain aspects of discussion in order to keep the secret. Iím a big believer in honesty, a good virtue to uphold. Iím always eager to share my knowledge of and experiences in Wicca with others, perhaps to a fault. Realizing that not everyone will want to hear about this or accept my path, I often omit the more spiritual details of my passions when talking to those who donít know I practice Wicca. There are many times when I feel some guilt over keeping out these details during a discussion solely for the purpose of maintaining both the relationship and my secret, especially since Iíve read some books that look down on that. Yet, in some cases, I still feel it necessary, and the discussion will often prove worthwhile regardless of whether I share my path or keep it secret. Ultimately, this is your own decision, so please do what will work best for you.
Tip #3, my final tip, is the most important piece of advice I feel I can give right now, and that is to know your limits. Know your limits, strengths, passions and dislikes. As time has taught us, experience is one of the best teachers. And, if thereís anything experience can teach us, itís where we succeed and fail. I have a good friend, probably the only other close Wiccan friend I have at the moment, who respects my wish to garden but claims she can barely keep her houseplants alive. Iíve taken time to assess my own strengths and weaknesses to see if Iím cut out for gardening. I still donít have a definitive answer on that (not enough experience) , but that self-reflection has shed light on a number of aspects of my life I havenít fully considered until now. Whether considering a hobby in gardening or not, self-reflection is an important aspect to spiritual practice. If we donít know ourselves, how can we further grow in mind and spirit?
Wow! Talk about waxing philosophical. Still, I hope this has given you some inspiration. Is building that dream garden impossible? Maybe it isnít. Yet. It may not be feasible at the moment, but donít give up on that dream garden. With the right mindset, you can make anything (which I know sounds incredibly clichťd, but itís true) manifest.
So, happy gardening and Blessed Be!!
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