Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth

“Living in harmony with the earth brings good fortune.” – Taoist proverb

Learn more about connections, harmony, and how you can strengthen your bond with earth and it’s energy, and nature and trees, from Feng Shui expert and educator, Maureen Calamia.

Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature, and TreesFirst, I must start with a question: Are we living in harmony with the earth? Thought you’d say that. Then it follows that we aren’t destined for good fortune, as a species.

We are more and more disconnected to the rhythms of nature. Research shows that we spend roughly 90 percent of our time inside. We pay more attention to the Dow than the Tao.

As a species, we’ve lost the ability to communicate and understand nature as we once did. We do not understand the impact of our modern lives on Her. And She is in pain and despair.

But although we cannot change our species, we can certainly change how we, as individuals, interact with the earth.

Good feng shui is more than what we see
In feng shui, we know that the land is the most important aspect of good feng shui. It is the land that provides fresh water and fertile soil for crops, hills for protection and gentle winds. These are the physical attributes of the land, but there are invisible attributes as well.

Vibrant land emanates a strong, positive energy that, if we could see it, would be a rainbow of translucent, bright full-spectrum light. When we see land like this, we “experience” it with all of our senses.

On the other hand, we also quickly identify places that are damaged and neglected, not just with our visual sense. These places project a dull, dark aura that drains or even threatens our sense of vitality.

There is so much more to the earth than our eyes can see and if we pay attention, we can feel it.

Talking to trees
Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature and TreesHave you ever been drawn to a tree? Like most people, when we were children the trees were part of our play. We climbed that huge oak in our yard. We snuggled between its branches. We even talked to our tree. Our lives were surrounded with magic!

Being feng shui practitioners and enthusiasts, we tend to be more sensitive than the general population. We know how it feels when a neighbor cuts down a tree. Perhaps a local wooded lot has been bull-dozed. It’s painful because we feel the pain.

In his book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben says, “When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.”

The consciousness of nature speaks to us through the nature spirits and elementals within the landscape, the trees, the flowers, even mountains and rocks. We can connect, feel and learn.

So, when is the last time you connected?
If you are like me, you have regular communication with nature, with trees, which is sometimes through words, but often through images and feelings.

If you don’t, then here are some words of advice: get out there and start now. You will be amazed at the connection and guidance you receive.

Below is some guidance on how to start:

  1. If you have a tree that you are drawn to, then go to it. If not, scan the landscape and feel your way to a tree.
  2. As you approach, ask for permission to connect and wait for a sign. You may get an image in your mind, a feeling in your heart, or perhaps you will hear a bird start singing. If you get a clear no, then honor it and find another tree or come back another day.
  3. If you get a yes, then approach the tree. Sensitize your palms by rubbing them together and then lay your hands close to the tree, hovering just an inch or two from the bark. (Some people prefer to lay their hands on the tree. Others lay their backs against the trunk. Whatever feels right to you).
  4. Be still, quiet and observe. You may ask a question in your heart. It can be a personal question or even a question about the tree, the surrounding area, the habitat.
  5. When you are done, give gratitude to the tree, perhaps a hug!

There is so much to gain when we look beyond the physical. We gain a greater depth and perspective to our lives and the life of Gaia. Our individual acts move us all closer to understanding and respect for Her. And life is magical again!

Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature and Trees

 

Maureen CalamiaMaureen is author of Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life. She is also founder of the Luminous Spaces Feng Shui™ School using the Re-Nature philosophy based on the premise that we need to restore nature back into our lives, our homes, and spirits.

This Feng Shui is for the Birds

Have you seen a bird today? Did you hear its song? Did you know that birdsong helps plants grow? The presence of birds and their songs lifts our spirits and raises the energy of our spaces. Keep reading to learn more about how to make your garden both feng shui and nature friendly by Alisa Rose Seidlitz.

You’ve probably heard that for good Feng Shui it is essential to get clutter cleared away, yes? Keeping clutter around usually drags us down. So you may be surprised to learn that sometimes, in some places, keeping “clutter” is literally essential for sustaining LIFE. Keeping it in our gardens and for the birds, that is!

As the seasons change, birds are migrating and clean-up is in full swing in the garden. However, did you know that leaving some clutter, some ‘mess’, greatly helps the birds?

Birds and Nature, Alisa Rose SeidlitzBirds feed on bugs and worms they find on plants, in healthy soil and mulch, on berries and other fruit, and on the seeds which form after flowers finish blooming.  What we consider messy areas needing clean-up are actually great foraging places for birds. In fact, birds depend on finding these sources of nourishment more than ever now.

Due to multiple factors, including urban expansion, drought or flooding, and use of pesticides, there’s much less available to feed upon in the wild. So our gardens become crucial habitat and food resources for birds, pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and other wildlife.

By doing less, by reframing what you consider mess, and by letting the ‘clutter’ stay awhile, you can truly help!

In urban environments and even in the suburbs, birds, like all living beings (including humans!) still need at least some ‘wildness’ to thrive!

A wide variety of plants provide seeds which birds need and enjoy.

  • Instead of deadheading (removing) spent flowers, leave the seed heads in place for birds to dine upon.
  • Instead of raking or sweeping away fallen leaves, let them stay on the ground, as birds love to forage there.
  • Leave thickets of plants, even dry-looking, with spent flowers and all, as shelter.
  • Dried flower stalks, too, offer great perches to keep birds safe, even during wintertime.

In addition to making meals, the ‘mess’ in your garden makes bird nests! They use dried grasses, twigs, plant stems, leaves, bits of bark, grass clippings and even animal hair to make their homes.

Birds and Nature, Alisa Rose Seidlitz     Birds and Nature, Alisa Rose Seidlitz    Birds and Nature, Alisa Rose Seidlitz

The above photos shown here were taken at Ashby Community Garden in Berkeley, California – a delightful, free-flowing, rustic and bountiful place, where food for humans grows, along with a smorgasbord of yummies for our fellow creatures. With soft and permeable sheet-mulched pathways and deep, healthy soil, this pollinator garden has continued to thrive despite the drought.  Birds, butterflies, native bees and others abound among various yarrows, salvias, scabiosa, yellow dock, echinacea, buddleia, feverfew, sunflower, asclepias, tithonia and lavender, to name just a few plants which have free and ‘messy’ range. At one point recently, scores of little birds (finches, perhaps?) sat on a dry fennel stalks, eating well and loudly singing out their gratitude!

During dry weather, in every season, please remember to put out a bit of water somewhere in your garden for birds and pollinators (yes, pollinators also need sustenance year ’round), and of course do lighten your load of clean-up chores by leaving it for the birds!

That’s the BEST Feng Shui!

  
Alisa Rose SeidlitzAlisa Rose Seidlitz is a longtime Ecological Garden Designer, Certified Green Building Professional, GreenAP for Interiors, Graceful Lifestyles Certified Interior Re-Designer, Flower Essence and Reiki Practitioner. Read more about Alisa Rose.

Got that Good Feng Shui Buzz

Have you got that Good Feng Shui Buzz?!
The buzz of happy bees, that is!

Feng Shui considers balance, elemental simplicity, and nature – and what better way to think about the garden than about the benefits and balance bees can bring to your world. By Alisa Rose Seidlitz

As consultants and practitioners, we know that Feng Shui’s essential purpose – to help us live in sync with nature’s elements, energy flow, and universal cycles – supports our overall health and well being.

We know that the elemental world, and the literal Wind and Water aspects of a site, help promote and determine our well being, or lack thereof.

We understand that Feng Shui is about the relationship of our built environment to the natural world around us.  And the garden is of course part of the built environment!

We know that Everything Is Connected.  In the long-run, our personal Feng Shui can only be as good as the health of the world around us. Spaces and places where bees thrive indicate that people can thrive there, too. A space which supports bees, where there is ample bee habitat, supports the best Feng Shui. (Most bees absolutely do NOT want to sting you.)

Bee Beautiful, Do Good

Beauty in one’s surrounding contributes a vital aspect of good Feng Shui. Places where bees thrive contribute beauty to our personal spaces.  And I feel that it’s safe to say that those of us, who care about Feng Shui, care about Life. Having a good Feng Shui garden – even one flower pot which supports bees – helps the Feng Shui of the wider world, which in turn helps us all.

Truth or Consequences

No matter what other Feng Shui actions we take, enhancements we make or cures we place, to have harmony at home and at work, isn’t it imperative that we live in harmony with our other-than-human, fellow planetary residents?

The truth is we need bees. In fact, because they’re the most effective pollinators in the world, plant and animal life depends upon them!

Alisa Rose SeidlitzMost likely due to multiple environmental factors, mainly pervasive pesticide use, but most likely also massive global use of radio frequencies as such as microwaves (from cell towers and other sources) and manmade electro-magnetic fields, bee populations have declined alarmingly.

Scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a toxic combo of pesticides and fungicides which are contaminating the pollen that bees collect to feed their hives, causing a great decline in the bees’ ability to resist infection. Even the pollen from weeds and wildflowers gets contaminated with these toxic chemicals, despite the fact that those plants were not the specific target of spraying.

Bringing Back Good Health for Bees and Good Feng Shui

Would you like to help bring back the bees, create the best Feng Shui and have a healthy garden, too?  Whether in the city or countryside, what YOU do in your space definitely counts! No matter the size of your garden – even if you don’t have an in-ground garden at all – you can help the bees and your Feng Shui, from a window sill. A garden box or pot is all you need!

So, to get started:

FIRST and FOREMOST – Stop all pesticide use.
Hand weed, or pour boiling water over them, if you must get rid of weeds. Remember, a weed is usually simply a plant in a place where we don’t want it growing. Many so-called weeds are actually nutritious and healing herbs, who’s flowers bees love! Bees LOVE Dandelion and Clover (2 wonderful medicinal herbs)!

Buy ‘clean’ plants and seeds whenever possible. Use organically grown plants and seeds when available.  The most toxic set of chemicals, called neonicotinoids, are still used by wholesale plant growers and local nurseries, as well as sold in products as plant food.  These poisons are systemic, saturating the treated plant and its neighbors, from roots to flowers, and have disastrous effects on butterflies, ladybugs and earthworms, too.

Ask nursery staff if their plants are treated. If there aren’t any ‘clean’ plants, cutting off the first set of blooms will significantly reduce the bees’ exposure.

Request that the places where you shop stop using neonicotinoids, and remove plants and products with them from their shelves!

Use native plants which are local to your region. Did you know that there are some 1,500 native bees in California, United States alone?  However, renowned bee researcher, University of California at Berkley Professor Gordon Frankie, has found that incorporating some exotics, on the basis of their bee attraction qualities, can actually help the native bees thrive.

Choose single petal flowers in a wide variety of colors, with a variety of shapes and sizes. Bees come in lots of sizes, too!

Alisa Rose SeidlitzPlant in groups or clumps of flowers for swaths of bee territories, if space is available. If not, you can still have flowering beauty and nourishment for both the bees and yourself using a window planter box. Potted plants may be placed in any sunny, wind-protected spots.  Spaces and places where bees thrive indicate that people can thrive there, too.

Design your space or garden box so the bees are at least somewhat protected. Bees like sunshine and shelter from harsh wind. And like butterflies, bees appreciate a source of swallow water; use a small saucer for example.  In addition, not all bees live in tree hives or beekeeper boxes. There are ground dwelling bees who need to access soil, so if you can, it’s a good idea to leave a patch of bare, uncultivated earth for them, without mulch. Some bees live in tree holes and cavities. Mason bees like mud!
Seasonal Changes – Autumn and Winter

Make your blooms cover as many seasons as possible, to supply the bees throughout the growing year.

Autumn is a particularly important time for all bees.  Bees mate during autumn, the queen bee then hibernates, and honey bees staying active in their hives during winter. They all need nectar for energy and pollen for protein.  So, makes sure they have healthy habitat even in autumn and winter.  Autumn is a great time to be planting spring blooming bulbs to get the next year’s bees off to a great start.

Alisa Rose Seidlitz

There is huge variety of bee plants, some to suit every aesthetic. Many have multiple species and bloom thru several seasons. Check with a good local plant nursery for specifics for your area. (Remember to ask for neonicotinoid-free plants)

And oh yes, the less concrete or other pavement, the more space for the bees!

 

Alisa Rose SeidlitzAlisa Rose Seidlitz is a longtime Ecological Garden Designer, Certified Green Building Professional, GreenAP for Interiors, Graceful Lifestyles Certified Interior Re-Designer, Flower Essence and Reiki Practitioner.  Read more about Alisa Rose.

Nine Essential Plants for your Feng Shui Garden

With Feng Shui it is all about placement however some elements are so powerful they will help improve the energy almost anywhere you use them. Plants are a force that expresses vitality and pure life essence in your space, not to mention that they purify the air that you breathe. Read more from Shelley Sparks, plant and Feng Shui expert

Everywhere there are plants there are people who have interpreted their meaning in the human life. From China we get these special plants that can help enrich our lives in particular ways.

1. One of the first plants that most people think in Feng Shui gardens is Bamboo. It represents fidelity, wisdom, flexibility, cooperation and wisdom. It can be used anywhere these qualities are desired or anywhere the there is a special need to lift the ch’i as the way the bamboo grows is particularly good for that.

2. Another ubiquitous symbol of Chinese gardens is the Pine Tree. It represents resilience, longevity, integrity, and dignity. It can be placed wherever you need to remember the big picture. It is always welcome near the front door where it will remind you daily of the stellar attributes that you can acquire.

Lotus, Plants and Feng Shui, Shelley Sparks3. Few flowers are more beloved than the Lotus. Beside its beautiful shape and fragrance, it has spiritual significance as the Buddhists view it as a symbol of enlightenment, that which we all can achieve with our good works and pure hearts. It also symbolizes perfection, purity and integrity.

4. Peonies are the national flower of China. They represent luck, aristocracy, honor, and wealth so they are particularly favored for wealth and career placements.

5. Plum Trees represent brotherliness, charm, friendship and particularly the return of spring. These trees signal the end of darkness and the announcement of new beginnings.

6. Pomegranate Trees, because of their many seeds, represent fertility. One client who was considered infertile attributes her two children to the garden plan that included these trees.

7. Orange trees, indeed most citrus, have a deep connection to wealth, abundance, and good luck.

8. Orchids represent nobility, culture, and graciousness, which are the qualities of a gentleman. They support all these wonderful qualities in a partnership.

9. The Daylily is a symbol of maternal love and fertility. In China, it is a symbol of filial devotion so it can be used anywhere the love of mother or that type of support is desired.

 

Plants have so much to teach us and using ones that have special significance reminds us every day of the particular potential for expanding in love, joy, health, and abundance.

 

Shelley SparksShelley Sparks is a Feng Shui expert, licensed Landscape Architect and passionate gardener. Read more about Shelley.

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