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July 25, 2008

The Magic Land by Julie Moir Messervy

A small and different kind of guide-book on gardening

If I were going to choose a single book as a guide for creating a healing place this, right now, would be the book.

It’s a small book, not much larger than my hand.  And it’s different than any gardening book that I’ve looked at before.  Instead of the lavish photos customary in so many garden books (including Messervy’s own Inward Garden) the text here is complimented by Barbara Berger’s whimsical drawings.  A cottage in a forest.  A castle in a forest.  A girl in a tree.  And there’s something about these drawings—they suggest possibilities.  And not just for grand gardens.  For more modest ones as well.  The text and drawings taken together offer a kind of template for creating a healing place—a way to begin.

At the heart of the book is a kind of vocabulary for creating healing place: seven archetypes or vantage points from which to discover and experience the earth.  These seven vantage points then become a language for creation.


Messervy writes: 

The archetypes represent places of meaning and magic that you occupy, consciously or unconsciously, in which you move, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually toward wholeness.

None of the archetypes are exactly new.  It’s not that.  It’s that her naming of them, her translation of them, and the style with which she presents them, well, all of this, for me, has made me aware of these elements in a new way.  I find myself looking at the landscape—and its potential for healing place(s)—differently. 


See also:
Six landscapes designed by Julie Moir Messervy, including Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., which is, it would seem, the first garden cemetery in this country.

And, from this site:
Reading and Healing Idea #4: Seven Archetypes for Reading the Landscape