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Spiritual Gardens
What is Meant by the Term Spiritual Garden?

August 12, 2009
John Stuart Leslie

I use the terms “Spiritual Garden”, “Garden Sanctuary” and “Sacred Garden” interchangeably, for they are all so interrelated that it is only useful to differentiate when the term is appropriate to the context in which it is being used.

Spirit is used as a generalized term for God, Universal Truth, Consciousness, Higher Power or any other supernatural form or creation that one chooses to align with their belief system.

spiritual garden with statuary symbolizing belief systemsWith that said, a Garden Sanctuary is a space thoughtfully designed to create not only an ambiance of peace and prosperity, but at a transcendent level, where one connects with the Spirit of the Garden, facilitating a connection between Heaven and Earth, the Divine and Human, the Self and Universal Spirit. It is a sacred outdoor space where you can retreat from the mundane world, relax and reawaken your connection with Spirit.

Gardening as an activity that symbolizes and represents the miracle of life in the form of a gardener growing something from a seed. There is something deep, a soulful connection to this miracle that when we garden, we experience this on a certain level.

Simple acts such as witnessing the flowering of a plant or eating a tomato from your own vine is spiritually nourishing. Spiritual gardens should not only be aesthetic creations, but must in some way, trigger the “spiritual experience”- that personal revelation connecting you to the larger whole. The feeling you get when gazing upon a flower, that its meaning mystically unlocks a key to its sacred symbolism revealed through ancient wisdom.















These thoughtful realizations can be achieved through profound awareness of the physical objects and their associated meanings. For example, let us say that we are going to plant a special tree in the garden. We are going to call this tree the “Tree of Life” as we have read about this concept.

In this context, the “Tree of Life” is used as a symbol and is obviously associated with that of a secret message. The term “secret message” is interchangeable with the word symbol, but a symbol generally has deeper meaning. A symbol is something that through its outward aspect or character represents something more profound than itself.

garden symbolizes the microcosm of our being

The flames of a fire for instance, can symbolize the sun, which itself has qualities of heat, illumination and creative or destructive powers. The sun is associated with giving forth life and power as well as being associated with gods of mythology who possess these same qualities. 

In a garden setting, elements or objects such as a light fixture, a luminary, fireplace or fire pit can be also related to the imagery of the sun.

A symbolic image therefore can be linked to many garden design applications depending on its purpose and placement within the space.

As Jack Trasidder states in his book, Symbols and Their Meaning,

“There is a connection between the power of symbols and their antiquity. There are some symbols or types of symbols that are so universally potent, so close to the very stuff of life, that there meanings tend to remain constant over time. We believe that on a personal level, that profound realities dwell beyond our rational objective knowledge, and that these “truths” are sacred forms of knowledge of the universe and of ourselves. Our connection, that we instinctively sense is behind the language of symbols, suggests that such truths are eternal and we yearn to have access to them. That is why we are attracted to various forms of symbolism, myth and legend.”

Trees have historical symbolism in many culturesIn order for someone to create and design their own sacred or spiritual garden space, the foundation must be in place. Certain basic design principles should be followed along with appropriate site planning principles that would apply to any location.

After the foundation is in place, the transcendental qualities are incorporated in such a way so that the garden builder can customize it to their needs. This is how one personalizes the garden. The elements chosen are not only imbued with their own inherent embodiments, but the garden builder adds their own spiritual intention in such a manner that the elements now have special meaning. The garden meaning has now become what the gardener associates with sacred.

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