[permaculture] the gardener's shadow falls both ways

Tripp Tibbetts slowfoodguy at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 13 15:29:36 EST 2009

Let's rewind for a second here, because there seems to be some ongoing confusion about what exactly we're discussing.
In my original post under the "US National Permaculture conference" thread, I began by debating the absolute need for an individual to take a PDC in order to practice permaculture.  I think the final answer to that was, no, but it almost always helps.  OK, cool.  I'll try to take one as soon as I can.  Next, in a post under the "Thoughts on PDCs - Was US National Permaculture Conference" thread, I introduced the idea that some "freaky interesting things have happened to me since I discovered permaculture."  I then invited anyone interested in talking about that kind of thing off-line for further discussion.
This line of discussion was then continued ONLINE, and has drawn some fire as an inappropriate part of the permacultural world.  (Apparently even in this setting!)  Repeatedly the idea that I would be teaching New Age, Aquarian thinking in a PDC setting, if not nipped in the bud now, has been fabricated out of thin air.  Remember, I was the one presenting the idea that a PDC wasn't even necessary for one to "get" permaculture.  (I had already discovered that connection to spirit, in an utterly mind-bending, paradigm-shifting way, and wondered if that was the mind-blowing, life-changing experience folks were crediting to their PDC experience.)
I just thought it was really interesting that one could come to recognize a spiritual nature in the universe through science and resource economics, and wanted to talk about it.  The idea that I even HAVE a spiritual nature is still very foreign to me!
But Lee, your post makes a lot of sense, and I want to thank you for finally touching on what I was hemming and hawing about in the first place.  I was starting to get the feeling that that more indigenous connection to the spirit had somehow been missed by a whole bunch of people who were claiming some pretty intense experiences!  How could that be?
Is the subject just still a little taboo?
It's that tangible reawakening of the spirit and deep connection to Nature that I think of as the beginning of a new age for humankind.  A completely different relationship with the natural world, not based on economics of scarcity, but on Gaia's bounty.  Maybe not capitalized 'New Age' in the Aquarian sense.  But I have to be honest, we haven't even touched on the freaky interesting things I originally brought up...yes, this time off-list, please.
Tripp out.

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.
-Chinese proverb

--- On Sun, 12/13/09, Lee Flier <leeflier at comcast.net> wrote:

From: Lee Flier <leeflier at comcast.net>
Subject: Re: [permaculture] the gardener's shadow falls both ways
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 7:13 PM

Tripp Tibbetts wrote:
> I don't believe any of us are post-poning the joy of that connection.  If you don't feel it, you don't feel it.  Fair enough.  But I'd like to propose that the anti- sentiment is at least as dogmatic in nature as what I've been talking about.  Hard-line science and Darwinian gradualism produce a certain type of superiority and inherent condescension that one usually only sees in the certainty attending religious faith.  It's a brutal irony that afflicted me as recently as a year ago.

I'm not advocating "hard-line science and Darwinian gradualism."  Now 
it's you who's being dualistic. ;)
> I think as long as we subscribe to a Cartesian dualism that delineates practicality and spiritual belonging-ness, we certainly will never fully understand the connections reported by Fukuoka, Einstein, Stamets, DaVinci, Newton, Galileo....not exactly a bunch of teleological flakes.

Thank you for making my point for me.  ALL of those guys came to their 
understanding of connectedness and spiritual belongingness *as a result 
of* direct observation of the natural world.  And I'd be very surprised 
if anyone came away from a PDC not having a greater spiritual awareness, 
but not because anybody taught it to them directly.  Thinking 
permaculturally just inherently seems to lead to that.

But how that awareness and understanding manifests itself is going to be 
different among different cultures and different individuals, whereas 
directly observable things will not.  If you can demonstrate something 
in practical terms and it will feed people, that's something anyone can 
see regardless of their cultural or individual background.  The rest 
will take care of itself.

So, if a student at a PDC gets the urge to talk to plants, they should 
go right ahead.  If members of the class want to organize a sub-event 
like a dance or a sweatlodge, great.  But as an *instructor,* one 
shouldn't force any of these things on students, but simply let that 
awareness emerge and manifest itself however it does, if it does.  And 
certainly as an aid worker in a vastly different culture (which a lot of 
permaculturists go on to be), one should never enforce one's own 
spiritual direction on anybody else.  Whatever practical good you might 
do will be lost at that point.

If you feel that you have to shove spiritual awareness down somebody's 
throat in order for them to "get it," then it's you who doesn't trust 
that the natural world is the work of the divine and that this will 
become apparent when one learns to observe its patterns.
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