I currently live in Topanga, California, up in the 1000-foot mountains just outside of Los Angeles. This area is Tongva and Chumash land, and as I look around at the natural splendor of the majestic rocky outcroppings, and oak-filled hillsides, I can't help but imagine what it must have been like when there were no cars or neighborhoods full of houses, just smaller villages and getting around by foot.
It helps me feel more humble and connected within the landscape, and I look for signs of Spirit everywhere I go even as so much of the landscape has been disturbed or neglected over the last few centuries. The Magic might be half-dormant, but it is still here.
In my vision, the Paradise Realm is this world with nature and all living beings in balance. A place where the plants glow brighter, the birds sing more abundantly, where the air shimmers with sparkle and life. In the Paradise Realm the nature spirits are alive. Humans live and move quietly, in awe of life and the surroundings. The Paradise Realm is where native plants grow in abundance so that birds, butterflies, and bees have plenty of seeds and nectar. It's a place where the Living God grows through the Earth. The Paradise Realm is the Garden of Eden, and recreating it is a great purpose as humans on this Earth.
This may sound like a fantasy, but it's quite real and quite doable. There was a time, before settler colonization, before human arrogance ran the show, when humans listened to plants and animals and worked together for the benefit of all. Humans weren't "above all," they were integrated within. They performed right work and right action to maintain and create more beauty, abundance, and health for the environment. We can live in the Paradise Realm in our own backyards. We can take the first baby steps of creation by listening to what our landscape needs, the flow of water on the landscape, the native plants, and growing wildlife gardens, just to name a few things. Every situation is different, but the energy is the same: what can you do with your human abilities to create a tangible and beautiful relationship to the land you inhabit? It's permaculture, it's spirituality, it's very practical and very grounded.
We can actually re-create the Garden of Eden in landscapes that have been virtually destroyed by centuries of human mismanagement. It takes the vision, the will, the knowledge, and the community, and the miraculous thing is that it can be done.
I didn't grow up around gardens and nature—I grew up in apartments in the suburbs. But I always remember the few times we went camping with my dad, mesmerized by the campfire, or out picking blackberries with my mom, and enjoying the ripe fruit, alive and fresh straight off the plant. As a kid I developed an interest in herbal medicine—mostly reading about it, and identifying a few plants in the suburban environment, and growing a few medicinal herbs in pots.
As I grew older, I began to appreciate more and more the perfectly balanced beauty of the natural world and did my best to find magic even in urban developments. I would ride my bike past the ugly apartments and climb the big oak trees lining the street, or sit at the edge of a drainage pond just past a parking lot and enjoy the sunlight glinting off the ripples in the water.
Finally my intuitions were confirmed when I traveled to South America in my 20's and experienced the buzzing aliveness of pristine environments, places where Spirits and Magic hadn't been stomped down and paved over. And now, that's what I would like to carry through in this life—to open people's hearts and eyes and show what is possible; that we can re-create Spirits and Magic through the natural landscape; we can rebuild destroyed ecosystems; invite back the pollinators and the wildlife; we can live in a world that is closer to the Paradise that the Earth once was, and can be again. We, humans, can be an integral part of this re-creation, and we can enjoy Spirit and Magic everywhere again.
Paradise Realm Education Portal
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Check Out Geoff on the Edible Activist Podcast
Geoff "Geo" Edwards is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and arts educator. And on any given day, you will find him in the garden, clinic or classroom. In this episode, Geoff paints a vivid story of, what he calls, a "rites to wellness" experience with one of his clients and how he integrates the three healing spaces into his practice, Nu Healing Arts.
Geoff Edwards brings his wisdom back to the show talking all-things ancestry and herbal healing. He has deepened his work, navigating this ancestral journey even further through the exploration of medical herbs, traveling to Costa Rica and Jamaica connecting with indigenous roots and farmers, and applying this to his Nu Healing Arts practice. In this episode, listen to Geoff speak on the importance of knowing what our grandparents grew, and what their parents grew, as a way to connect with our ancestors and to incorporate a diet that reflects our ancestral DNA.
"Twelve bookshelves about gardening in her head. We were daydreaming and she will sweep you off your feet and take your deeper in your daydream. Or gets you back on the ground, and course correct if necessary."
"It is lovely working together with Marjolein. She has so much knowledge about every type of garden: vegetable gardens, plants, herbs, and ornamental gardens. She knows exactly what you should and should not do. Everything about gardening is equally amazing, so you want to tackle every single thing at once. She makes sure that you don't take up too many different gardening tasks and gardening stays fun."
"Is it an investment? Yes. But this is not information that will be lost in a day. I will pass this on to my children, and they will pass it on to their children, and their children's children."
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