Book Review: Farming Soul ~ A tale of initiation

In Patricia Damery’s book, Farming Soul ~ a tale of initiation, I was curious to learn about growing dreamy crops of Lavender and tending to Grapevines with Biodynamic gardening practices, on their ranch overlooking the Napa Valley of California.  Seems like heaven on earth to me!  However this story is not just about growing romantic crops full of love!

Patricia also weaves in her personal dilemmas and her determined yet agonizing goal to be become certified as a Jungian Analyst over a span of several years.

Patricia describes in her book that Biodynamic gardening means to intentionally and intuitively connect to plants and the land, using mindful and meditative rituals and routines, while growing and harvesting plants according to Rudolph Steiner’s methods.

During her adult journey Patricia deepens her awareness of not only herself, but also of the ranchland around her. She becomes aware of how everything is interconnected, not only in her daily life and on the land, but her dream life too

Some of her most meaningful experiences happen during shamanic retreats and psychic mentoring. Yet it becomes her daily life living on their ranch that gives the space and synchronicity for deepened awareness to expand.

Life has dealt Patricia various key life events, spiritual awakenings and power struggles before she could actually claim her individuation as separate from the scrutiny of her analysts, spiritual mentors and others.

When Patricia recognizes the energy of her own confidence, she is then able to claim her selfhood and not only does her intuition strengthen, but so does her wisdom. It is then that she can look back at the struggles of her initiation.
(See below for more information about Patricia's book and lifestyle!)
For it is the conflicts and struggles that make us unique and resilient even in times that we don't feel the strength.  This of course all plays out in the larger aspect of our basic human need to belong and feel comfortable with our identity. 

Teachers and Mentors (supportive and challenging) are so important during our life journeys. They can help us to comprehend the complex issues and the constellations of our relationships in life, as well as help us to understand the emotional underpinnings of maturity.

In our modern society we will continue to need this guidance to understand and make sense of these experiences to help us normalize the journey through adulthood.

Hopefully stories like Patricia’s can reach out and inspire other people to honor their own journeys and notice the magic and spirituality contained within their own experiences!! 

As it is more common for women to consider our own stories and lives as insignificant, and not worthy of celebrating or sharing!

As a society we could all benefit by spending more time outdoors to reconnect to nature, in order to ground ourselves to the deeper cosmos of existence. 
When we can recognize that our inner and outer landscapes can be a symbiotic relationship, we can then use these as intentional or conscious reflections to guide us on a more meaningful journey of initiation.

It is in my learning that Carl Jung’s life work exploring the realms of psychology and spirituality of the deep unconscious provides, wonderful enriched and creative ways for us to understand the more complex aspects of human life. 

Reading and learning more about Jungian psychology has deepened my own creativity too! But not everyone has the time or interest to delve into this rich body of work. However it is also my experience that people do not always need to seek the intellectual or in-depth meaning of symbols or archetypes in an analytical way.

For even Patricia acknowledges her wish that, ‘practitioners of psyche’ will consciously incorporate ways of knowing or spiritual practices such as, ‘the old ways of relating to our earth with focused awareness and consciousness.’ Pg 114

After reading Farming Soul, and reflecting on Patricia’s story, I realize that her description about the process of Lavender distillation continues to linger within my psyche too.  

Patricia quotes from chemist and philosopher Primo Levi, that distillation is
”slow philosophic process, and silent occupation” which keeps you busy but gives you time to think of other things…“ page 93

She goes on to explain that, to extract the ‘essence of lavender’, the liquid is condensed into drops that collect in a flask. The oil rises to the top and hydrosol to the bottom.
Patricia explains, 
“The essence of lavender is a balance of opposites operating on our nervous systems as a tonic and a relaxant.  The beauty of it is that neither is forced on you. Your body decides which it needs and uses the essence accordingly.” Pg 93-94

So, I find that I too have allowed a ‘distillation of the essence Patricia’s story as I reflected not only on my own story of Individuation, but also the gift of having witnessed and celebrated the journey of several other women too!

I believe that just as the essence of Lavender provides two potential healing purposes (ex. tonic or relaxant), so do all ancient cultural archetypes and symbols, as they can provide more than one purpose of insight.

Our psyches will use what it needs, to guide or gift us during our human journeys. The symbols and archetypes remain there to be understood in new or deeper ways as we reflect on them during our whole spiraling lifecycle journey.

When conscious enlightenment happens, or intuition inspires us, we can choose to celebrate or grieve, and share these discoveries of new or deepened awareness, or keep the precious essence to ourselves!

So Patricia’s story reminds me more, that we need to increase social awareness for all people to honor and tell their own stories. Not only of overcoming the trials of childhood, but the trials of their own personal journeys of adulthood in our modern society. 

So much societal emphasis is naturally placed upon the memories of our childhoods and the passage into adulthood that supposedly, gives us permission to do more of what we want to do.

But it can be challenging to give our adult selves permission to explore, as well as see that it as okay to focus some attention on ourselves, or even venture in new directions despite the opinions of other people.

It is also common while we progress through adulthood, that many people often have experiences where they silently feel as if they are alone in the world and do not have a sense of belonging, despite being surrounded with people. We need to remind or acknowledge to each other that we are not alone!

In essence when we all allow our souls to stir and mingle, we can all benefit and seek understanding from other peoples trials and transformations.

There are many more people gardening soul, just like the way that Patricia is Farming Soul. There are even several more people just seeking soul-stirring experiences out in nature. Essentially we can all benefit by simply seeding our souls with meaningful spiritual rituals and practices as suggested by Patricia.

It is healthy to be curious and seek understanding ourselves deeper and connect with the creative life force energy to give our lives meaning and fulfillment.

For example, I am a home gardener. Rather than large crops, I only have one prolific Lavender bush in my front yard and one Grapevine mainly for shade that offers some yummy little grapes in my backyard.  But I fuss and learn from them each year, by trial and error and my garden yard gives me a whole lot of creative inspiration! 

Also, I proudly love my 3 compost bins. It is a place to transform my kitchen and yard waste into soil. The microorganisms are alchemy in action. As Patricia describes, "Compost holds the soul of the world".

My compost has long been a sacred place where I offer my personal prayers and let go of that which no longer serves me!  This is also where I can express gratitude for the alchemy that happens in my life!

So when we intentionally and intuitively tend to our plants and wild nature, we deepen our awareness, we feel interconnected and support one another on our journeys through life.

Spirituality in nature helps us to understand that we are all bits and pieces of one another and part of a larger soul stirring cosmic alchemy.

We are one and interconnected, despite living separately or apart. What one does, affects or inspires the other.  When we are conscious of this, we are stirring souls.

So when reading Farming Soul, it could be helpful to honor our own unique journeys, magical or spiritual experiences and teachers along the way! Then create  community, to acknowledge and support each other through these initiations!

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