In November of 2012, the Feminist, Goddess Spirituality and Pagan community mourned the passing of foremother, author and activist Patricia Monaghan. She was a powerful and prolific writer, poet, academic and educator, and her work was highly influential to Goddess scholars, Goddess worshippers and Pagans everywhere. The delight and wisdom in her many books was a huge inspiration to my own progression on the Celtic Spirituality and Goddessian paths, and I am deeply honored to review “Magical Gardens”. Originally published in 1997, Patricia revised and expanded the original text, and it stands as a beautiful tribute to our timeless connection with the green world in joyful cultivation. Bracketed by earth-connected ancient tales, and myths that have blossomed from gardens and paradisaic Edens all over the world, this gorgeous book describes our reciprocity with nature, our endless innovation in creating gardens, and the transformative power of planting, tending and harvesting.
According to Patricia, there are three components to magical gardening: “becoming aware of traditions and narratives that hold insights into the connection between self and earth; becoming conscious of the earth’s special needs, the better to craft a connection to her; and becoming knowledgeable about specific plants and techniques that lead to gardening success - myth, mulch and marigolds, respectively.” “Magical Gardens “ covers the basics of sun exposure, soil type, climate, and best plants for your site; plus composting, controlling pests and weeds and caring for plants at all growth stages. We discover powerful magic and meaning at the heart of our cooperation with the green world, and find that we share these sacred spaces with Goddesses, Gods, elves, fairies and devas. Unlike other mainstream gardening manuals, we are guided to explore both ancient knowledge and modern resources to deepen our magical bond in co-creation with nature, and honor the seasonal cycles of the land with mindful meditation and blessings. Winter is a time to dream and plan the garden’s shapes, colours and plants that are personally meaningful; Spring to consecrate the soil and seedlings with petition-prayers to encourage and sustain new growth; Summer to perform the endless and enjoyable garden tasks; and Fall for harvesting, clearing, taking stock and taking care. Patricia reminds us that giving back to the soil with composting, mulch and other methods is the highest form of love and nurture, and that gardening itself is “prayer offered to the earth”.
Gardens enhance our spiritual connection to the land, and we are offered rituals for honoring nature’s cycles, earth spirits and our plant allies. Gardens are sacred green spaces for celebration and marking the transitions in our lives, and Patricia’s advice has inspired me to think about my own work with outdoor labyrinths in a new way, with the potential for public rituals, community happenings and even garden parties(!). She takes us on a marvelous tour of public botanical gardens devoted to magical themes, such as the Chicago Botanic Garden with its extensive Japanese gardens; re-creations of famous historical gardens such as the medieval herb garden at the Cloisters in New York City; and unique gardens by eclectic individuals such as Niki de Saint-Phalle’s Tarot Garden in Italy! So inspiring. My absolute favorite section (in line with my current “Earthing” practice!) is “Care of the Soil” which reverses negative perceptions about the soil, highlighting the many health and spiritual benefits from close contact to the ground of our being.
With beautiful themed designs for gardens that you can create in your own land, backyard or patio-space, “Magical Gardens” has easy-to-follow plans for an “Angel Garden”, “Fairy Garden”, “Sorcerer’s Secret Garden”, “Unicorn Meadow”, “Camelot Garden”, “Artemisia Glade”, “Kuan-Yin’s Garden of Mercy” and many more. With this amazing book, visionary Patricia Monaghan has left us with a treasury of sacred expressions that connect soil and spirit - messages from Gaia that integrate us harmoniously with nature’s cycles, and we hear her timeless words, “As you garden, let Gaia sing through you, testify with your actions to Her grand power. For there is nothing more important that you can do.”
Thank you Beloved Ancestor and Green Goddess Patricia!
This review originally appeared in SageWoman magazine, 2014
Pegi Eyers is the author of "Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community," a brand-new book that explores strategies for intercultural competency, healing our relationships with Turtle Island First Nations, decolonization, recovering an ecocentric worldview, rewilding, creating a sustainable future and reclaiming peaceful co-existence in Earth Community.