‘Fruits of Eden’ by Patricia Damery

I have mourned the overdevelopment in California (the state where I was born) and the overdevelopment in Florida (the state where I grew up). In both cases, environmentally diverse and beautiful states have been ruined and badly compromised for the sake of tourism and development that left no stone unturned in raping the best areas first. The late Atlanta historian, Franklin Garrett, called this approach to land use within a city “municipal vandalism.” Insofar as California and Florida are concerned, I call it near-criminal destruction of the land.  Years ago, a minister said the real Garden of Eden was in west Florida. If that had proven true, it would have been paved over by now.

So I warn you, I supported this book before I even saw it.

I must also confess that I have known Patricia Damery online for years and enthusiastically reviewed her earlier books. This book comes from the front lines of climate change and bad land-use practices. So, I can’t help but show it to you in spite of my prospective biases. By the way, you can see an interview with Pat here. The book comes in two editions, one with the interior photographs in color, and the other in black and white.

From the Publisher

Damery – Napa Valley Register Photo

In Fruits of Eden, author Patricia Damery takes readers on a thirty-year journey, vividly recounting her citizen activism to protect the world-famous Napa Valley from the ravages of over-development, water plundering, government failures, greed, and damaging tourism.

Damery’s articulate and Illustrative voice is a powerful call that interweaves the story of her ranch with her history, reflections, marriage, and her husband’s onset of dementia. His Alzheimer’s began at the same time as pressure on the ranch’s sustainability became acute. Conversely, there is also great hope. The author’s relationships with colleagues in action for the valley, her children, her grandchildren and friends all share a deep love for this extraordinary place on the planet.

Over the decades Damery and her husband, Donald Harms, developed a way of life that respected the natural ecology of their land in the Napa Valley. They applied organic and biodynamic methods, left large parts in their natural state, and had a herd of goats that lived next to Patricia’s writing studio. Then climate change coupled with egregious overdevelopment overcame them, threatening to destroy their way of life. Destruction of native oaks caused erosion and groundwater depletion, insecticide use disrupted the balance of animal life, including beneficial insects, population density and tourism

I visited Napa Valley multiple times before the nefarious amongst us began turning it into hell. I don’t want to go back there again any more than I want to see again what the fools who created Daytona Beach have done to the once-precious land along the Atlantic coast. But with the help of books like Fruits of Eden and their from-the-trenches authors, maybe we can save some of the endangered Edens that remain.



Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”


Sunday’s medley (or possibly hash)

  • I’m happy to see that one of my favorite authors, Patricia Damery (Snakes, Goatsong) has a new book out, Fruits of Eden, about her ranch in Napa Valley and her fight against overdevelopment and bad stewardship of land and water. This richly illustrated book comes with color photographs, but it is also available in a money-saving black and white version here.
  • My wife and I have discovered an important truth about health. (You might want to write this down.) When two people live in a house, the sick one will start getting well at the same moment the well one starts getting sick. This provides a time when both people are out of it.
  • Since I enjoyed Donna Everhart’s The Saints of Swallow Hill, I’m trying another of her novels The Moonshiner’s Daughter. Plenty of grit in this one, too. It’s a little like “Thunder Road” without Robert Mitchum. (Don’t write that down.)
  • As a writer, I often wonder how other writers kill people–er, in their novels. Sometimes a busload of nuns blows up and if any of them have names at all in the narrative it’s unusual since they are often presented to readers as a group and mourned together. It’s more difficult when a major character dies. I finally know how it’s going to happen in the work in progress, but I’m avoiding writing the words. Until I write down what happens, it hasn’t happened.
  • Well, now that he was attacked by a coward, Salman Rushie’s name is showing up in op-ed pieces about getting a Nobel Prize. I think it should have happened already. One writer said Rushdie deserves the prize because he’s been a long-time proponent of our freedom to write. I applaud his stance–and his involvement with PEN America–but believe the prize should be based on the quality of his books, especially when his work is looked at over time.
  • I like this story in the Christian Science Monitor: “Speaking whale? Scientists are working on it.” Our lack of better communication with other animals always makes me sad because I think we are missing out on a rich body of knowledge and the opportunity for more loving and productive interactions. I think it’s probable that the voices of the creatures of the deep are saying more than “So long and thanks for all the fish.”


New edition of Patricia Damery’s ‘Farming Soul’

Leaping Goat Press has issued a new edition of Patricia Damery’s Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation, a unique look at our relationship with our psyche and the natural world. I enjoyed the first edition of this mythic book when it appeared in 2010. Now, with a foreword by Robert Sardello, co-founder of the School of Spiritual Psychology, Farming Soul will transform the lives of more readers drawn to its wisdom.

From the Publisher

farmingsoul2014In the Foreword to the second edition, Robert Sardello states, “What differentiates this book from being an autobiography is the invitation to enter a unique form of initiation, one that seems so suitable to this age, this time, our given circumstances, now. This story is really a myth, a myth of the future.” A psychological and spiritual reckoning, ‘Farming Soul’ questions theories and assumptions that date back to the early 1900’s and the days of Freud, assumptions which have too often separated spirituality from psychology.

Suffering the trials of her own individuation process, Patricia Damery finds answers through a series of unconventional teachers and her relationship to the psyche and to the land—answers that are surprisingly deeply intertwined. One strand of ‘Farming Soul’ is about redeveloping a relationship to the land—Mother Earth—being rooted in a particular place and being guided by the tenets of Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamic® Agriculture. Another strand is about Damery’s professional path of becoming a Jungian analyst, a path filled with review committees and unexpected and unorthodox teachers. It offers perspective on the complicated dynamic of therapist/patient bond and individuation, and a personal account of when one must step out on one’s own. Bringing together paths of spiritual, ecological, and psychological exploration, Farming Soul is a courageous offering that will help reconnect us to our deeper selves, the often untouched realities of soul, and at the same time ground us in our physical relationship to self and Mother Earth.

From my Review

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. Read the full review here.

Damery, a Jungian analyst and biodynamic farmer in the Napa Valley, is also the author of Goatsong and Snakes.

You May Also Like: New edition of ‘Snakes’ by Patricia Damery


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of heroes’ and heroines’ journey novels and paranormal short stories, including “Moonlight and Ghosts.” “Moonlight and Ghosts” was inspired, in part, by his experiences with meditation techniques and his work as a home manager at a center for individuals with developmental disabilities.






Got book lovers? Here are three Christmas ideas

If you still have some holiday shopping to do, here are a few of my favorites this year that might make for some very nice gifts:

goatsong “Goatsong” by Patricia Damery, il piccolo editions Fisher King Press (November 1, 2012), ISBN-13: 978-1926715766 – A wise view of the world through the eyes of a child, homeless women, a goats.

  • From my review: When you read Goatsong, you are breathing in fresh air off the Pacific ocean, smelling the sweet scent of the bay laurel, and cooling your tired feet in sacred streams flowing through old redwoods in the company of wise women who, without agenda, may well change you as they changed the ten-year-old Sophie in those old family stories about the town of Huckleberry on the Russian River.

sunlightshadow“In Sunlight and Shadow” by Mark Helprin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 2, 2012), 978-0547819235 – A combat veteran whose business is threatened by the mob falls in love with a young woman from a rich and influential family. Readers will discover a poetic view of New York  City played off  against the Mafia’s protection racket and the protagonist’s combat experiences as a behind-enemy-lines pathfinder.

  • From my review: Mark Helprin recalls post World War II New York City throughout In Sunlight and in Shadow with the accuracy and atmosphere of A Winter’s Tale (1983) and his protagonist’s combat experiences with the chilling combat detail of A Soldier of the Great War (1991).

vacancy“The Casual Vacancy” by J. K. Rowling, Little, Brown and Company (September 27, 2012), ISBN-13: 9780316228534 – Rowling steps away from teenagers and contemporary fantasy with a story about the people and politics of a small English town.

  • From my review: Winesburg, Spoon River, Grover’s Corners and Peyton Place reside so powerfully in the consciousness of readers as accurately rendered representations of small town life that their people, town squares, relationships and secrets are forever in our memory almost crossing the boundary from fiction into reality. The English village of Pagford in J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy belongs on this list.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including “Sarabande.”

Contemporary fantasy for your Kindle.
Contemporary fantasy for your Kindle.

Briefly Noted: ‘Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way’

“Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way,” edited by Patricia Damery and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, Fisher King Press; First edition (April 15, 2012), 196 pages

From the Publisher:

When Soul appeared to C.G. Jung and demanded he change his life, he opened himself to the powerful forces of the unconscious. He recorded his inner journey, his conversations with figures that appeared to him in vision and in dream in The Red Book. Although it would be years before The Red Book was published, much of what we now know as Jungian psychology began in those pages, when Jung allowed the irrational to assault him. That was a century ago.

How do those of us who dedicate ourselves to Jung s psychology as analysts, teachers, writers respond to Soul’s demands in our own lives?  If we believe, with Jung, in “the reality of the psyche,” how does that shape us? The articles in Marked By Fire portray direct experiences of the unconscious; they tell life stories about the fiery process of becoming ourselves.

Contributors to this edition of the Fisher King Review include: Jerome S. Bernstein, Claire Douglas, Gilda Frantz, Jacqueline Gerson, Jean Kirsch, Chie Lee, Karlyn Ward, Henry Abramovitch, Sharon Heath, Dennis Patrick Slattery, Robert Romanyshyn, Patricia Damery, and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky.

From Co-editor Patricia Damery

In a recent blog post, Patricia Damery (“Snakes,” “Goatsong”) mentioned that a guest at an event for this book asked why and how the chapters in this anthology came to be so interesting, to be more than simply personal stories.

Damery said, in part, that, “The personal stories in Marked by Fire are not journal entries but ones much further down the line, ones that have been “worked.” That is what analysis does: it takes the raw material of everyday life, the prima materia, and composts it, until it fertile ground, food for soul development. Although complexes may still be there, they do not obliterate contact with the Self or the Divine.”

These stories have a much wider application than analytical psychology, impacting everyone who appreciates the depth and scope of Carl Jung, comparative mythology, and the trials and joys of every seeker/self on the path.

You May Also Like: New York and Romance the Way We Were, my review of Mark Helprin’s “In Sunlight and In Shadow”


Kindle Edition

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels and the recent paranormal Kindle/Nook short story “Moonlight and Ghosts.” The story draws on Campbell’s experience as a unit manager at a developmental center.

Book Review: ‘Goatsong’ by Patricia Damery

Each chapter heading of Patricia Damery’s beautifully written novel Goatsong begins with the words “tell me about.” Sophie’s daughter Stacey is asking her mother to tell her the old and ever-changing family stories about the days she spent as a ten-year-old child with the three Goat Women on Huckleberry Mountain and was reborn into the fullness of the world.

Young Sophie’s single mother works as a waitress at an all-night diner and sleeps all day, sometimes alone and sometimes with the man she brings home: “Ma didn’t want me making noise during the day while she slept, so I left the house and did all kinds of things most kids would not have the opportunity to indulge in, you might say.”

That summer, Sophie meets Nelda, Dee and Ester on the mountain above the Russian River in northern California, and in the process of learning about herding goats, “logging in” garbage dumped alongside the roads, and dancing naked in the meadow, she discovers love and acceptance from her ad hoc surrogate family. Among other things, Sophie learns to see and acknowledge that which others often miss, roadside trash included.

Wise, practical and nurturing, Nelda knows the Goatsong. Strong, persistent and dependable, Dee takes exception to those who dump garbage on the mountain as well as those who won’t lift a hand to stop it. Forever taking notes as the women do their daily errands, the relatively silent Ester is a witness, logging in the garbage. She finds, for example:

“1 beer bottle, label torn and unreadable, green.
1 plastic freezer bag, Safeway, good condition.
1 16 oz. paper cup, 7-11, good condition.”

The three Goat Women, who know they are “undesirables” from the townspeople’s point of view, accept Sophie as one of their own during their daily adventures on a mountain that Damery describes with the prose of a poet. The novel is a hymn to nature and natural living as well as an eternal and memorable story. Original, unorthodox and wise, the Goat Women provide Sophie with an unfettered, practical and loving worldview that is absent at her home and school.

In their own way, the goats (Natalie, Boris and Hornsby) are also Sophie’s teachers. The author, who has run a biodynamic farm in the Napa Valley for the past twelve years with her husband, said on her blog this past summer that “Walking the goats is truly an art.” Damery brings her knowledge of that art into her novel, creating goat characters who are as three dimensional and essential to the story as the women.

In the introduction, Damery writes that “Goatsong is the mysterious combination of humility and that essential ability to climb above, like a goat, or a song. To know the Goatsong of tragedy, Nelda told me, is to be reborn.”

When you read Goatsong, you are breathing in fresh air off the Pacific ocean, smelling the sweet scent of the bay laurel, and cooling your tired feet in sacred streams flowing through old redwoods in the company of wise women who, without agenda, may well change you as they changed the ten-year-old Sophie in those old family stories about the town of Huckleberry on the Russian River.


a young woman’s difficult journey

Inspiring Blog Award Nomination

Thank you, Christine, for nominating Malcolm’s Round Table as an inspiring blog in yesterday’s post on your C. LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog. I’ve been enjoying your posts, especially those that focus on individual Tarot cards and the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey has been a long-time special interest of mine, so when others write about it, I usually find my way to their words.

Now, in the spirit of the Inspiring Blog Award, I’m supposed to tell you seven things about me.

  1. My website’s bio page says that I was raised by alligators in the Everglades. I’ve given this matter further thought, and suspect that it may not be true. I did enjoy reading  Karen Russell’s novel Swamplandia! (which was a deja vu experience) about a Florida theme park featuring alligator wrestlers, and I did grow up in Florida: I’m reasonably sure about these things.
  2. Among other things, I like anchovies and feta cheese on pizza. I had a boss who insisted on ordering pizza with pineapple on it on Friday afternoons to celebrate the end of the workweek. Ursula, I gotta tell you, I never understood the pineapple. Of course, most people don’t understand anchovies because (possibly) evil spirits brainwashed them when they were kids.
  3. The URL for this blog lists it under knightofswords. This is the Tarot card that signifies me for those of us who view the court cards as knights, queens, princes and princesses. The Knight of Swords is a card of wind and storms.
  4. My sun sign is Leo. I guess most of you have figured that out already.
  5. My introduction to myths and heroes’ journeys began in secondary school when I read every book I could get my hands on about the Arthurian legends. My favorite King Arthur book is T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.  So, no surprise that I would call this blog Malcolm’s Round Table.
  6. My writer’s muse is named Siobhan and she appeared as a character in my contemporary fantasy Sarabande and in my hero’s journey novel Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey.
  7. My first jobs were delivering telegrams and newspapers (though not at the same time).

Seven Blogs that Inspire Me

  1. Montana Outdoors
  2. Smoky Talks
  3. The Drawing Board
  4. Lingwë – Musings of a Fish
  5. In the Labyrinth
  6. Patricia Damery
  7. The Spiritual Edge

The Round Table

I’ve never been able to settle down and confine this blog to a tightly focused subject area. As an author, I’m going to talk about my books along with the themes and settings in them. This has led to a fair number of posts about Glacier National Park, the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey, the environment, and fantasy and magical realism. I also review books here and at Literary Aficionado. I’m glad Christine enjoys stopping by the Round Table, and I hope you do, too.


Contemporary fantasy for your Nook at $4.99.

A powerful story of motherhood, seasons and snakes

SnakesSnakes by Patricia Damery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Snakes, by Patricia Damery (Farming Soul, 2010) is a beautifully written novel about a woman coming to terms with family continuity as small farms are packed up and sold off at auctions to those who will never know who once lived there and made of them enduring homes.

Angela leaves the Midwestern farm her family has worked for generations because the roads and fields and traditions are, in spite of their deep values, confining to her coming-of-a-age soul. She attends college in California, receives a degree in biology, becomes a teacher, marries, and has a family. When teaching proves to be an unsatisfactory career, she focuses on her new and all-consuming avocation of weaving.

Snakes is a poetic meditation about the intertwined cycles of life and farming. It is also an evolving letter of love from Angela to her recently deceased father about life as it was, mundane and unexpected daily events, and, of course, the snakes. Snakes and the cycles of life are constant images throughout the book; snakes in the corn crib, snakes in the garden, snakes in the kitchen. We fear snakes, yet we also see them as protectors of the land and as symbols of the natural stages of everlasting life.

For Angela to come to terms with herself and the disintegration of families and farms, she must come to terms with snakes. Her weavings become her medium and her message, the storyboard of her life as it was and as it is, all the memories, dreams and reflections of a nurturing mother claiming her authentic role within the natural order of children and husbands, kitchens and bedrooms, warm tidal pools and freshly ploughed fields, and gardens where snakes live amongst the flowers.

View all my reviews

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” the story of an alchemist and shaman who journeys between heaven and hell in a world where each place can be mistaken for the other.