Feb 3, 2014

Archetypal Awareness - The Garden

I had so many intentions to start January on the right foot with this blog and it just barely stayed alive. I'm vowing to preschedule better and get this up and running.

Today's archetype is The Garden.

When it comes to exploring the archetypes of the garden, both time and place need to be considered. In classical and even through renaissance times, the garden was a place of joy and earthly delights. Stories that involved young or new love often took place in a garden, with its symbolism of love and fertility. It is a location used often by Shakespeare, but even the love stories of the Ancient Greeks often had people meeting (and often consummating their relationship) in a garden.

As Christianity spread, the meaning of the garden became a symbol of perfection or paradise. It is a source of both tranquility and idealism (Eden-like) and suffering, anguish and solitude (Gethsemane-like). Both of these are depicted in the idea of The Secret Garden (book or musical - I'm non-discriminatory). If you think about well known stories that have scenes in a garden, it is common to see the garden be a place of peace and comfort for one character while secluding another.

If the garden takes place in a location like those of eastern cultures, a garden becomes more of a place of harmony, a location for a character to find balance within in themselves, in connection to the energies around them, and to rejuvenate the mind and body. It is a place where one can meditate, pray and engage in other activities that ground them in what is important in the world.

Finally, in contemporary times, a garden is a place for someone to tend. This often represents the way a person is digging into themselves, into their problems, not able to solve the world around them. It is often depicted as a sort of therapy, even if the character doesn't recognize it as such. Even in contemporary situations, the garden still has an inclination toward the philosophical (there's a really great post about how to incorporate gardening with a character here).


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I never thought about all the ways a garden could be used.

Crystal Collier said...

I've got two books that use garden scenes, and I'm thinking I'd better be careful about not overusing them. As for myself, my parents built a house in the foot of the mountains with a killer view off the end of their garden. I used to hang out there for hours on my thinking rock (boulder) and just study the sky. I can't think of a garden without remembering those days.

Rosalyn said...

There's some really fascinating stuff on garden iconography in Renaissance (including Northern) art and painting.

One archetypal symbol you don't mention here: virginity. There's a reason why the Virgin Mary is so often painted in a garden--and why the Victorians had a thing about women in secluded gardens (I guess that's a combination of the fertility and virginity thing--an enclosed garden was in theory more protected, right?)

Anyway, nice post. :)

Nicole said...

Neat post. I've always liked The Secret Garden.

Jessie Humphries said...

I never consider all the symbolism, but I've put a few gardens in my writing. Good to know. Thanks, Mrs. Seegmiller.