For me, it begins with the breath.
On the inhale my lungs filled with air, I become aware that the oxygen now inside me was once released from trees nearby or thousands of miles away, and I pause as I hold in the wonderment of life. On the outbreath I exhale carbon dioxide, releasing from my lungs a necessary component for plant life. This is an intimate relationship we share with plants, an intersectional interdependence that has evolved over thousands of years.
Even before there were gardens, humans had formed relationships with plants, learning from and interacting with them in their natural environments. Plants were teachers of death, rebirth, and healing. They provided shelter, spiritual growth, medicine, and food for all beings born to this planet. As humans stopped migrating, plants valued for medicine, food and beauty were brought closer to home and cultivated for a life outside of their natural and native environment. Present day gardens now blossom on windowsills, patios, rooftops and in containers of all shapes and designs.
Whether one tends flowers, nurtures trees, vegetables, or cacti, working with plants offers us an opportunity to witness spiritual realms, because plants live their lives with transparent beauty. Gardens offer opportunities to witness birth, maturation, death and rebirth. They allow us to witness the savage beauty and the great mystery that animates us all through this shared living planet.
If one wants to experience hopefulness, I might suggest nurturing a seed from a shell into a tiny sprout and watch it mature into a leafy plant. That plant, nurtured through its life, participates in cleaning and filtering the air, producing the chemical balance we humans need to breathe.
In the garden my eyes close and I feel safe. My bare feet connect to Earth mingling with the mycelium while my energetic roots ground into crystalline layers, then deepen into the molten womb of the mother.
I breathe in and out to her rhythms tapping deep into my cells, resuscitating my soul. I follow this maternal consciousness up into my body, surrendering my weight to my knees already folded in prayer. My hands connect with the flesh of leaves, petals, and fruit. They gentle the soil and prepare it for the seasons to come.
I breathe in Death.
Coming into balance, with more than what is me.
The first garden I recall was my Grandmother's. It was her herb garden, a quiet space off the back porch hugging the entry of the home, which was through the kitchen. I remember her guiding me to take a little from the plants that looked healthy and generous. In contrast, my mother’s garden was a collage of color and fragrance. Roses were her summer jewels, displayed on table tops and sometimes in vases my sister and I were not allowed to touch. Alas, I’ve never readily followed rules and I presently work hands on with flowers and plants as an aromatherapist, photographer and animist minister.
Written by Kristina L Daniels, Edited by Wolfgang Michael
For more information, find me at KristinaLdaniels.com, or at Five28_hz on Instagram.