Herbs, Gardening, & Honoring Mother Earth



Pardes Botanicals

Devotional Gardening rooted in the Hebrew Mystical Tradition


All words native to the Hebrew language reduce to a 3 letter verb, that is to say, a simple expression of energy. The Tetragrammaton is itself a composite of the past, present and future tenses of the verb "to be." The Ancient Hebrew language is an elegant expression of reality which speaks essentially in terms of the fluid relationship between one form of energy and another, all of which resides within and is an expression of the ultimate Verb of Verbs.

It is a tenant of the mystical tradition that "No location has been emptied of Havaya*," and for the devout gardener, divinity is nowhere more tangible than in the garden. Devotional gardening calls upon every sense to be available to the still small voices singing the desire of growing things. Its demands are that we "see what we see, and not what we think we know, " as Steven Rich remind us in his "High Desert Testament." Expertise is dismissed in lieu of listening for the pulse of life expressing itself within the moment of attention to the devoted garden acolyte. The practitioner strives to learn more about soil and plant, not for the sake of executing those procedures which will produce optimum results, but in an effort to ask more refined questions within the context of the "knowing" that resides in the place.

Being attentive to the "knowing" of even a little piece of earth calls forth an alchemical transformation of all that grows within that vicinity, including oneself. One who has tasted the produce from a Devic garden or been treated with healing herbs or flower essences raised within its consciousness has experienced this alchemy.

The Pardes Garden, located in Crestone, Colorado, is dedicated to the devotional growing of medicinal and aromatic herbs and flowers. It is part of a larger intentional sanctuary - "Pardes Midrasha" - for the integrative practice of Deep Ecology, Music and the Hebrew Mystical Tradition. Pardes Midrasha offers celebrations, workshops, herb talks and wildcrafting walks throughout the year. Please call us for a current schedule or check our website for a listing of times and locations (www.bewellweb.com/pardes).

Products from the garden are available through a small mail-order catalog called "Pardes Botanicals." We make medicinal tinctures, infused therapeutic massage oils, teas and healing essences and well as carrying apothecary supplies and obscure, sustainable, garden products. The "Pardes Botanicals" catalog can also be viewed on our website. A seasonal hardcopy catalog can be had by calling the number below.

As we complete our greenhouse (hopefully by Spring) we will be offering live potted seedlings including St. John,s Wort, Motherwort, Lyreleaf Sage, Milk Thistle, Mint, Comfrey and indoor beauties such as Henna, Heliotrope, Gardenia and Patchouli.

Our phone number is (800)720-9116, or locally, (719) 256-4821.

*a pronounceable transposition of the 4-lettered Name


Shahna Lax is a Hebrew scholar, garden mystic, herbalist and flower essence practitioner. She is the Mashpia of Pardes Midrasha in Crestone, Colorado. Shahna Lax <pardes@bewell.net>




High Altitude Gardening

97% of crop varieties extinct!

By Laura Syperda, printed in the "Crestone Eagle", January 1996.


All gardens begin with the seeds; and so I will begin this year's series of gardening articles with a discussion of same. The call to preserve biodiversity through planting open-pollinated varieties and saving the resulting seed is critical at this time on the planet. Of the cornucopia of reliable cultivated food plants available to our grandparents in 1900, today 97% are gone - EXTINCT ! The world today relies on just one hundred and fifty food plants and only 20 of those produce 90 percent of our food. We need only contemplate the Irish potato famine of 1846 to realize that the loss of genetic diversity can lead to a rendezvous with extinction - OF US.

There has been a systematic erosion of genetic diversity by the seed industry through the introduction of hybrids (the seeds of hybridized plants will not breed true and therefore cannot be saved for next year's crops). The central commercial appeal is that they can patent hybrids as proprietary and thereby own control and profit from them. The multinational seed companies are now furtively pursuing what may be the most sinister final act of the millennium - the "Gene Push." In Europe the major seed companies have banded together to form The Common Catalog, an officially sanctioned listing in which only patented varieties may be sold legally. In reality this means solely the patented, genetically altered corporate hybrids. It is illegal to buy, sell or trade varieties that have not been listed in the Common Catalog! In Europe 3/4 of the traditional vegetable seeds are at risk of extinction because of the hybrid monopoly.

In this country farmers and scientists are now unable to exchange germ plasm freely as has been customary throughout human history. With the addition of a seed certification law, farmers are now commonly prevented from even saving their own seed or selling modest quantities to a neighbor.

Only five major companies today dominate the home gardening seed market and in Europe only three companies control 80%. American gardeners would be puzzled to find their catalog orders going to the parent companies of Monsanto, Royal Dutch Shell, Upjohn, Sandoz, Imperial Chemical Industries, (ICI) and Ciba-Geigy, entities more likely to be associated in the public mind with prescription drugs and gas pumps than gardening.

With genes now being patented by large multinational corporations in anticipation of the "Gene Revolution", access to the genetic pool is a high stakes game whose outcome will determine that complete control of the world food supply. It is not going to be a free lunch.

And so it falls to us, the backyard gardeners, to maintain diversity of genetic plant life by cultivating open pollinated varieties and saving the seed. The SLV Seed Savers Exchange has over sixty varieties of such seed, lovingly raised in this high altitude desert we call home. These tried and true varieties will be made available to valley gardeners at the first SLV Seed Savers Exchange meeting on February 10th at 11AM. (For location please call Laura at 256-4028). We'll be sharing seed from the seed bank, exchanging seeds we've grown as well as sharing cultivation information to maintain varietal purity. Everyone is welcome, even if you've never gardened before. Before you order your seeds for 1996 come see what your friends and neighbors have to share.

One of Winter's lovely pleasures is to curl up before a fire and leaf through our seed catalogs, dreaming of the splendid gardens we'll grow come summer. The following seed catalogs are committed to open-pollinated, untreated seed and to maintaining what's left of the precious biodiversity on this planet. Please give them a try.


P.O. Box 772

Port Townsend, WA 98368

(360) 385-7455



18001 Sharer Ranch Rd.

Willits, CA 95490

(707) 459-6410



1324 Red Crow Rd.

Victor, MT 59875

(406) 961-4877



2509 N. Campbell Ave., #325

Tucson, AZ 85719

(520) 327-5821



3076 N. Winn Rd.

Decorah, IA 52101

(319) 382-5990



P. O. Box 15700

Santa Fe, NM 87506

(800) 957-3337



P. O. Box 1048

Hailey, ID 83333

(208) 788-4363


(Portions of this article were reprinted from "Seeds of Change, the Living Treasure", by Kenny Ansubel.)

Maintained by Linda Joseph - Last Updated: May 26, 1996.

All contents copyright (C) 1995, 1996, Manitou Institute.




9-9 EST Weekdays , 9-6 EST Sat. & Sun.

30 Irene Street

Torrington, CT 06790-6658

Tel: (860) 482-3638




135 North 10th, P.O. Box 307

Montpelier, ID 83254

Voice 800-269-8563

Fax: 208-847-0467



Seed Savers Exchange - Non-hybrid vegetable seed sources

Seed Savers Exchange is an organization that publishes a book that lists sources for all non-hybrid vegetable seeds available from retail and/or wholesale outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Last year's book was over an inch thick. You do not order seed directly from Seed Savers, but their service provides you with the phone numbers and addresses to contact those who sell the specific seeds you want to buy and a brief description of each seed variety. Lots of choices.

Annual U.S. membership fee in Seed Savers is $25.00. All memberships include SSE's Yearbook, Summer Edition and Harvest Edition.

To join, send your check for $25 to Seed Savers Exchange, 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA 52101. They'll be happy to have you. This is an organization devoted to preserving non-hybrid varieties, and the stablity of the organization depends on their memberships. It's well worth the annual membership fee for those serious about growing their own food, and now with the "terminator" technology, it is important to support a group like this.


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