I am a magically minded person who looks at the world with an animist's perspective as I mindfully acknowledge and honor the lives of the others I encounter, from the large elementals to the tiny devic energies underfoot. I talk to my plants and hug the trees. I call out greetings to the geese as they pass overhead and stop to help the earthworm stranded on the sidewalk. There is a message in the visit from tiny hummingbird hanging on the breeze, the crow cawing loudly in the tree, the surprise sighting of a garden snake, and the colorful dragonfly lighting on a grass head. The outdoors holds both magick and mystery, and I immerse myself in its beauty whenever I am able to.
Our brains evolved in nature. When we leave our man-made environments and return to a natural setting, we are able to step out of the busyness of our lives and leave our worries behind. Being outside is a magickal, full-on sensory experience that quiets worry, eases anxiety, and grants the spirit peace.
When we immerse ourselves in a natural setting, it boosts health by strengthening the immune system. Step into nature and you step into beauty. The act of catching sunlight in your eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, breathing in the scent of the green world from the smell of the dirt to the fragrance of flowers, or having natural sounds fill your ears, like the call of birds, the chatter of squirrels, or the rattle of the wind through the trees, are experiences that foster healing feelings of serenity and joy.
While forest bathing and hiking are popular nature therapies, gardening in your own yard, if done mindfully, becomes a vehicle to immerse yourself in nature and foster a relationship with the natural world. If you have never tried gardening you might be surprised by how therapeutic the experience is. When you take up gardening, working under the sky with the sun on your arms and your hands in the dirt, it engages all of your senses to create a place of refuge and solace. Being out in the fresh air doing yard and garden work lifts outlook and elevates mood. The activity tones muscles and makes the body feel good, and when done mindfully, the overall experience fills the heart with a joyful sense of purpose that inspires creativity and helps us rediscover our sense of wonder.
When we take an area of land under our care we nurture a reverence for nature that allows the heart to swell with gratitude every time we invest ourselves in the work, because it doesn't matter if you are a first-time gardener or a veteran—there is always something new waiting to surprise and inspire. The simple joy of discovering the seed that you planted sprouted, the surprising beauty of a mound of clematis that opened overnight, or the delicious taste of a ripe, home-grown tomato you plucked fresh from the vine deepens satisfaction and improves our sense of well-being. Step into the garden and we step out of worry and into nature's grace.
The wisdom of an ancient practice waits in the garden. If you follow an earth-based spirituality, you will find the act of gardening creates sacred space and puts nature back into the center of your practice. By caring for plants and being aware of their life cycles, we become aware of the turning of the seasons and sync with the natural rhythms. The garden becomes a window into the workings of the Universe and allows us to sense the thrumming webs of power. It is in the garden we connect to the deepest parts of our being as we become a witness to the miracle of life unfolding right before our eyes.
If you have never gardened before, you may want to start by taking a few chosen plants under your care. Identify and research each one, making note of their individual needs so that you may provide what each needs to thrive. Visit them often. Talk to your plants and shower them with attention, and soon you will find you have made a friend that may become a helpful ally in your magical practice. While some plant allies provide food or medicine, others provide ingredients to empower ritual, potions, incense, bath magick, candle dressing, and wash water. When we use ingredients from a plant that we help to grow, we delve into an ancient craft laden with wisdom and knowledge, a craft that deepens spirituality as it acts a bridge to the past to help us see beyond modern restrictions as it links us to a reality in which we are able to recognize and interpret the magickal connections all around us. The garden then becomes a liminal space where we may go to meet Deity or converse with the Universe.
My garden is my church. Step into the garden and I step out of time and into sanctuary. Being in my garden allows me to leave the troubles of the modern world behind and take up the practice of the old ways. In my garden I find peace and joy. It is in my garden where I find magick. You, too, can create your own personal outdoor sanctuary, a place of safety and wellness to nourish your soul and help you foster a relationship with your local energy web. For more ideas on how to design and implement a garden plan for your very own personal sanctuary garden, pick up my new book, Backyard Garden Witchery, a guide to help you manifest a magickal space outside your door. Backyard Garden Witchery contains a collection of meditations, exercises, and an extensive list of garden plants and their magickal properties with suggested uses to empower your magickal practice.
By designing your own unique garden setting, and implementing features that speak to you personally, you will manifest a sanctuary to nourish your soul. Keeping a flower garden, an herb garden, a vegetable patch, or even tending a collection of patio pots allows interaction with nature and opens a doorway for us to experience her amazing wonder. By working, and planting, and tending the earth, the garden becomes a liminal space to nourish our spirituality and connect us to the larger world. When you become a gardener, you become an artist working with nature to create amazing beauty, and as life sprouts and grows under your care, it opens the heart to wonder and solace as it provides flowers or herbs to use in your practice, or food to nourish your body, and the results bring an incredible sense of accomplishment. Gardening is a remarkable rewarding experience that has nourished mankind since the beginning of time. It has the power to change your life. If you have never gardened I hope you give it a try.
Laurel Woodward (Portland, OR) has been a witch for 20 years and is also a tarot reader. She has written for magazines and ezines on the subjects of healthy living, organic gardening, sustainable living, and the magick of ...