"Spiritual Gardening"
($13.27 from Amazon.com)



May 26, 1998

Dear Friends,

I am honored to be featured in the summer issue of the Sounds True Catalog. Sounds True, located in Boulder, Colorado is a leader in presenting ancient wisdom teachings from current teachers. Just reading the catalog is an education in itself.

My latest work is an audio teaching tape set called SPIRITUAL GARDENING: Cultivating Love Through Caring for Plants (2 tapes, 3 hours, $18.95). I expand upon the ideas in my book, Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening, incorporating thoughts about historical shifts in man's attitude towards nature, meditation in the garden, and spiritual connection with nature in ancient wisdom traditions.

I chose a photograph by Clive Hicks for the cover of the tape set. It's a Green Man (or possibly a rare Green Woman), an ancient symbol of man's oneness with nature. To me she looks like a green Madonna, her serene face looking out from her mass of hair made of sacred golden oak leaves. The image is from the 14th century stone vaulting of the nave of Exeter Cathedral in England.

I have enclosed a copy of an interview with me that appears on page 5 of the Sounds True catalog. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Thank you for your outpouring of love and appreciation for Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening. Your letters continue to touch me and make me happy that the book touched you. Growing Myself is now out in paperback for $10.95. Please ask to order it in your local bookstores if you do not find it on the shelves. Thank you for taking part in spreading the message.

Please call 1-800-333-9185 to order the tapes or a free catalog.

Very sincerely,

SOUNDS TRUE INTERVIEW Summer 1998 catalog

From the houseplant craze of the '70s to the eco-spiritual awareness of the
'90s, Judith Handelsman has been a perennial source of inspiration and
practical wisdom on the symbiotic relationship between humans and the plant kingdom. She is the author of the bestselling Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening and creator/host of the upcoming cable network series Inner Gardens. Judith lives and tends her plants in Laguna Beach, California.

ST: Judith, your newest work is an audio program titled Spiritual Gardening. Please define "spiritual gardening."

JH: Gardening can provide an opportunity to slow down, be still, breathe, and connect with another form of life. For me, it is an experience of communion; I become one with this precious life in my garden, and it heightens my experience of love in the world. And that is what spirituality is all about: growing in love.

ST: What is the historical tradition for finding sacred experience in gardens?

JH: Before the rise of Christianity, nature and especially trees, were widely
worshiped in many different cultures and times. In the worship of Apollo, the priests of ancient Greece purified themselves at length before venturing to a sacred oak grove and calling out questions. According to legend, the trees answered back in human voices. The Celts and their shamans, the Druids, considered every oak tree to be endowed with sacred powers. Even in Christian times, we have such legendary figures as St. Francis and Hildegard of Bingen speaking of plants and trees as divine wonders. Today in our culture, communication and connection with plants is looked upon as a superstition. But we are still in the minority. For indigenous cultures all over the world, connection with nature is inseparable from their spirituality. We're the ones who have lost this deep-seated reverence for the plant world.

ST: How did we lose it?

JH: From the time of the industrial revolution, when some would say that
technology has become our God, we have gradually become more and more disconnected from nature. Now most people live an urban lifestyle, which is the most disconnected of all. We don't follow the seasons any more, because we're not growing our own food. There are an awful lot of kids out there who think food grows out of packages!

ST: What do plants have to offer us spiritually?

JH: Plants, trees and gardens can totally transform your life. You can enter
into relationship with plants, and they can actually mirror your interior
state of being. If you learn to bring peace to your garden, the isolation and
separation between you and the world melts away. All that remains is a
connectedness that's very comforting. Really what I'm talking about is a way of experiencing union. If you can slow yourself down and bring supreme awareness when you are sitting under a tree, or watering your own garden, you will feel the energetic generosity of the plant life around you. Plants are cleaning our air, but they are also pouring out unconditional love all the time. If you actually tune into trees, if you start sensitizing yourself to the idea that trees are sentient beings, living and breathing with an underlying intelligence, it can completely change your life.

ST: What are some of the practices you teach in Spiritual Grdening?

JH: You must begin by slowing down, both in the garden or when you are taking care of plants in the house. Be mindful of the pace of your movements and breathe deeply in and out. Be still, and be present. How can you experience the generosity of plants if you are in a hurry to water them before you go to work? Here's another little practice which has to do with observation. Now, observation is a tremendous key to gardening. What I recommend is that you always have a plant right by the kitchen window sill which you can really observe. By practicing observing this plant every day, you can develop the ability to really look deeply at the life around you. You stare at the plant, just stare. You don't really have to do anything. You can have a real breakthrough in consciousness this way.

ST: You are known as the lady who talks to plants. And this is a common enough image in our culture, but it is generally associated with eccentric
blue-haired old ladies, who are really just talking to themselves. And I'm
sure many readers are wondering: In what way can we talk with plants?

JH: Anyone who gardens knows you can talk to plants. At times I do talk out loud to the plants, or I may talk to them with my thoughts. At times they do give me an insight, or I am given a feeling, or I am filled with so much love that I can hardly stand it. And I am awash in peace and safety and security and acceptance. When you take care of plants on an ongoing basis, they take care of you.


What Gardens and Plants Can Teach You About Love

A garden is more than a place of beauty. It is a sanctuary for your spirit that hearkens back to antiquity, when gardens and forests were part of our common spiritual tradition. On Spiritual Gardening, bestselling author Judith Handelsman opens the gate to this secret medicine available to us all: the kinship of plants. "All the issues of life and death reveal themselves through observing and caring for plants," teaches Judith Handelsman illustrating her point with magical stories that will leave you in no doubt that you can communicate with your own plants, whether you live in the country or in a high-rise apartment with a house plant on the window sill. On Spiritual Gardening, this longtime gardener and spiritual seeker shows how to find and cultivate our own "inner garden" through the wisdom awaiting you in every leaf, stem, and flower. 2 cassettes / 3 hours



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