Friday, December 5, 2014

Feature: Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation by Patricia Damery

Today, we have an interview with Patricia Damery, the author of Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation, as well as an excerpt from her book.
What inspired you to write the book?
During the time that I was a candidate in training to be a Jungian analyst, I met with a series of unbelievably huge obstacles from the outside as well as within myself. Originally I suspect I wrote the book out of anger and protest! Nothing in my psychological training prepared me to meet these obstacles. Concurrently, my husband and I had a serious farming crisis that made us more predisposed to successfully trying the unconventional farming practices of Biodynamic agriculture.

As I wrote, however, the anger changed. I realized the commonalities in my analytic training and in our farming represented a very different paradigm, one that is spiritual and brings hope of meeting the psychological and environmental issues in the world today. I began to see how our environmental issues are psychologically and spiritually based, and I wanted to do something to tell people about it.
How long did it take you to write the book?
I wrote the book over a period of about eight years. Originally it was in protest, as I said, but as I wrote and rewrote, it transformed into something else. That took a while!
For those who haven't heard about it, could you tell us a bit about biodynamic agriculture?
Biodynamic agriculture is a system of farming developed originally by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 to address the fact that seeds were no longer keeping as they had in the past. It is a system that utilizes all the practices of organic farming but goes further in working to restore balance through bringing animals and their manures back into farming, treating the farm as an individuating unit also related to its ecosphere, and working to increase the vitality of soils and the living beings of the farm, including the farmer.
For those who haven't heard about it, could you give us a short summary about the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner and Carl Jung?
Steiner and Jung were contemporaries who never met and had little good to say about the other. However, they were both deeply influenced by the scientific approach and philosophy of Wolfgang von Goethe. The bedrock of Steiner and Jung is in Goethe’s approach to what he called the living substance, essentially a spiritual perspective that is more receptive to the self and the natural world. Both Jung and Steiner championed an approach to this living substance which Jung called active imagination and Steiner termed imaginative cognition. What is known is set aside in order to directly perceive what is present. Only then is rational thinking applied.
In one sentence, how would you describe your book?
Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation is an autobiographical account of a psychoanalyst-in-training and owner of a failing farm as she adopts spiritual principles which redefine the nature of the self and reality as a whole.

EXCERPT:



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Patricia Damery is an analyst member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and in private practice. She grew up in the rural Midwest and witnessed the demise of the family farm through the aggressive practices of agribusiness. With her husband Donald, she has been a Demter certified biodynamic organic farmer for ten years, where they grow grapes, raise goats, and grow and distill lavender and other aromatic plants. Her articles and poetry have appeared in the San Francisco Library Journal, Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche, Psychological Perspectives, and Biodynamics: Working for Social Change Through Agriculture.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A psychological and spiritual reckoning, Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation, by practicing Jungian analyst and Demeter certified biodynamic organic farmer Patricia Damery is tightly woven tale of wisdom, insight, courage and integrity.

One thread of Farming Soul is about redeveloping a relationship to the land – Mother Earth – and a path into subtle energy through biodynamic agriculture and the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. This path contains continual echoes of Damery’s childhood on a Midwestern farm. It integrates stories from across a lifetime – six generations in working the land – and the reclaiming of her connection to the soil she inhabits.

Another thread is about Damery's professional path of becoming a Jungian analyst, a path filled with review committees and unexpected and unorthodox teachers. It offers perspective on the complicated dynamic of the therapist/patient bond and individuation, and a personal account of when one must step out on one's own.

Uniquely blending psychology, spirituality and agriculture into a soul-nourishing and thought-provoking read, Farming Soul is a courageous offering that will help reconnect us to our deeper selves, the often untouched realities of soul, and at the same time ground us in our physical relationship to self and Mother Earth. 

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