An Interview with Judith Handelsman
by T. M. D'illon
Judith Handelsman, has been a professional author and freelance writer for 25 years. A philosopher and teacher, her current book Growing Myself: A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening was nominated for a 1997 Books For A Better Life Award and has been translated into Japanese, German, and Italian. Her audiotapes, Spiritual Gardening: Cultivating Love Through Caring for Plants was featured on the cover of the True Sounds catalog, summer 1998. She has appeared on Oprah, lectures, and conducts workshops.
Her philosophy, as expounded in her books and tapes, is called Inner Gardening. "When many people complain to me of having a "black thumb" I know it is because they aren't connecting with their plants. At first, interacting with a plant may seem strange, but in actuality it is a common sense way to deal with many gardening chores I believe one should relate to them as one would a pet. Plants are alive. They won't live on love alone, but it is the single most useful ingredient to combine with good light, watchful watering habits and careful cleaning and pruning."
Judith believes this interactive relationship takes myriad forms, and can include talking and singing to the plants. "In Growing Myself I refer to the blessing songs the American Indians sang when planting corn. The men and women, as couples, planted together They slept with the corn at night, after planting. The men often would sleep in the gardens at night and ‘sing up' the corn."
Judith follows a similar pattern in her personal gardening. "After I have laid the seeds and put them into a bed, I give them time to integrate. Then I sing a blessing song to them--taken from a song kids at Rudolf Steiner schools sing to bless their food. This is a part of sound healing. It's the same thing as using sound within yourself to balance chakras. For me, sound healing reaches a place in my nervous system that nothing else does. One can reach a state where it actually massages on the inside.
Judith sees no conflict between Inner Gardening and the clipping of flowers to make a flower essence. "You don't want to control or dominate — it is a sacred process. You want to offer yourselves together. You want to start blending with the life force, the energy. It is a reciprocal process. If you have healing INTENT, and ask a plant's permission, you stand a better chance of success."
She has been using flower essences since 1977. Judith attributes essence therapy with helping her and her fiancé making their recent decision to marry. The combination they took together consisted of Sticky Monkeyflower, Larch, Hibiscus, and Lady's Slipper. "They started working within a week," Judith recalled. "They just melted away resistance, melted away fears. My fiancé calls this formula the ‘openness' drops."
She has completed the pilot for a proposed cable TV series called "Inner Gardens" for the Odyssey channel which Judith co-wrote and hosted. A former monthly gardening columnist for Vogue and New Age Journal magazines, Judith has authored a highly-acclaimed children's book, Gardens from Garbage: How to Grow Indoor Plants From Recycled Kitchen Scraps. Her first book was Greenworks: Tender Loving Care for Plants. She is a former gardening correspondent for NBC All-News Network Radio. Look for her second guest appearance on an upcoming Oprah.
"My life work is to help the broadest cross-section of people reconnect spiritually to themselves, each other, and the natural world. I am dedicated to inspiring and educating audiences to live a life honoring the spirit and to grow spiritual love through meditation and caring for plants."
Judith Handelsman lives and gardens in Laguna Beach, California. She can be reached at (949) 494-6640; FAX (949) 497-2608. Visit her web site at www.here-and-now.org/judith.
from telephone interview February 18, 1999
P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA 95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163 fax: 530-265-0584
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