Book Review: ‘Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation’
Author and Jungian analyst Patricia Damery and her husband Donald grow grapes and heather in California’s Napa Vally where their biodynamic farming practices and spiritual attention to the land have brought them a rich harvest. That harvest, as described in “Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation,” is simultaneously agricultural, psychological and transcendent.
“Storytelling opens us to aspects of ourselves that we override in every day life,” writers Damery in the book’s introduction. “It weaves both teller and listener into a larger fabric, suggesting correlations and increasing understanding.”
Damery’s story echoes John Muir’s words, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” Going out and going in intertwine in Damery’s journey where the lessons learned en route to becoming a Jungian analyst complement lessons learned in the vineyard.
Rudolf Steiner, the father of biodynamic agriculture, wrote that “All of nature begins to whisper its secrets to us through its sounds. Sounds that were previously incomprehensible to our soul now become the meaningful language of nature.”
We discover through Damery’s holistic journey that Steiner’s words also apply to the process of discovering one’s true self. Damery quotes an old Tewa prayer to Mother Earth and Father Sky that includes the lines, “Weave for us a garment of brightness that we may walk fittingly where birds sing, that we may walk fittingly where grass is green.”
Damery’s memories, dreams and reflections are woven from the warp and woof of her experiences arising out of analysis, meditation, shamanism and farming. “I understood,” she writes, “that the ‘garment of brightness’ from the Tewa song was being woven for me, and that, in time, perhaps I could ‘walk fittingly’ on this earth.”
Farmers, psychologists and other seekers on the path will find many correlations between their own journeys and the one that so beautifully unfolds in “Farming Soul.” Damery’s garment of brightness is kind lamp for eager eyes.