Dr. Patrick MacManaway

(shared from patrickmacmanaway.com)

The Most Important Conversation in Agriculture – Dialogue with the Spirit of Place

For our ancestors and still many around the world today, the reality of the Spirit of Place or Genius Loci, its subtle defining personality and its profound influence on all things that live and occur there, was and is taken for granted – a core assumption in a perceptive and integrated cultural paradigm.

Most of the rest of us would at least be open, even if only philosophically, to the reality of plant intelligence, and animal intelligence is apparent to all of us.

We should remember also the sentience below our feet, the intelligence of mycorrhyzal fungi, and of all those in the rich tapestry of soil life.

Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird in their now classic book ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ presented us with numerous reports of observations and experiments on plant responses to directly expressed human emotion and also to music, repeatedly showing beneficial growth and health when nurtured within a harmonious environment with a positive emotional atmosphere.

These observations are personal and commonplace if you are attuned to them – what is it about the green-fingered ones in our families and community that simply brings that extra brightness and life-fullness into the green house and garden and around the house plants at home ?

What is that Green Fingered Thing ?

There are many ways in which to both ask and answer this question, if we take it as a serious and perhaps an important one.

What indeed are the parameters of human presence and behaviour, of our attitudes and perhaps the tone of our spirit, that has a direct and significant effect on plant health and growth – on their rate and vigour of germination, on their root to shoot mass ratio, on their ability to withstand frost, pests and blight, on their natural ability to produce optimum yield and on their subsequent flavour and storage quality ?

– if we can observe, and learn, and apply –

What benefits might we see both as direct results experienced and then as an expanding ripple of awareness following ?

A Shropshire farm client this year reported the largest ears of wheat ever seen in two generations on his farm – and also a 50% reduction in calf mortality, with no explanation apparent other than the energy balancing work that we had done on the farm and its’ landscape at the beginning of the season – remediating stressful patterns caught up and residual in the atmosphere and matrix of place memory.

Patterns of thought and feeling of all tones and colours, footprints in the sand, awareness and memory of mining and excavations, of battles and land disputes, of the many overlapping uses and demands of the place from history into the present.

A place can get dis-spirited just as we can, over time slowly or sometimes by an event of sufficient intensity to remain within the subtle fabric of consciousness there.

After only one visit and initial correction to the landscape energies on an organic dairy farm in Gloucestershire, a penalising mastitis rate dropped by 60%.

Subsequent incremental remediations and enhancements during the season – blessings really – came with enhanced density and vigour of grazing pastures, and record levels of both milk fat and protein.

Green Fingers are not just for the green house – green fingers are for the farm…

One of the greatest gifts we can give as humans is the gift of undivided, fully loving attention.

When we give this to those around us, they and the space between us becomes filled with life and energy. We feel better – we like it. We create an energy field within which things can thrive.

The same applies when we extend our loving attention to the animals in our life – the feelings of both parties are enhanced and the connection between them becomes intensified, creative, and bonding.

We naturally extend our loving attention to our companion animals – but what of those animals in agriculture – in our food chain ?

An Australian client commented that he had maintained a personal relationship with one of his cattle after nursing him through a short illness early on.

Despite running for the season with the rest of the herd, he seemed to thrive on the extra attention that he continued to receive, even if only a nod and a wink in passing – by season’s end, his weight had increased by double the average of his herd companions.

For all of history as an agricultural society, we have directed our attention to enhancing plant and animal fertility, health and productivity – by giving attention to the vitality and health of every part of the growing system. Increasing the richness and productive capacity of spaces both small and large. Increasing the intensity and diversity of life there.

Our current culture has chosen to look primarily at bio-chemistry and at pure chemistry to understand living systems, and enhancements have become progressively more sterile in nature and effect, in paradox to the natural life forces inherent in both soil and plant.

Whether applied in a conventional farm, or an organic one, or a biodynamic one, the effects of applying loving attention and clearing and balancing the subtle energies are of equal benefit however – no either or instead of – and really just an opening of awareness to, and engaging with the many intelligences – the many spirits – of our environment – as they are.

The spirit of the land, of the place itself, the spirit of soil and water, of the plants, the animals – the spirit of the farm, all in relationship with the spirit of the farmer workers and farm families there.

I have had Australian farmers, 30 at a time, sitting in meditation in a ploughed field communing with the consciousness of their soils biology.

Blessing wells to enhance irrigation measures, creating intentional boundaries and tuning field by field for a season’s crops, seeking a loving marriage between the land and beings living and growing there…

Working with homoeopathy, with radionics, with dowsing and earth-acupuncture – there are many techniques for engaging with the flow and balance of life energy in landscape and for balancing and creating right relationship between the essential spirit of all parts.

Some understandings and techniques come to us from old systems rich in wisdom, others from new understandings gifted to us through our progressive technology. In the simplest of terms, all of them come down to different ways of saying “I love you” to the community of life and intelligence involved.

A subtle energy preparation was tested alongside both biological and chemical treatments in national potato trials in Scotland.

In a trial group of four plots in the category of ‘Under the Soil Treatments’, the ‘love in a bottle’ gave the highest total yield of all.

A Warwickshire forage farm reported grass growing almost two months before neighbouring farms had reached the necessary soil temperature to allow for summer growth.

I have been party to 10 – 30% increases in potato yields and 20% yield increases in wheat crops.

The implications of bringing our attention to understanding subtle energies and creatively engaging with the intelligence and life forces of landscape suggest enormous potential for our agriculture as well as for our experience of participating in it.

Perhaps we will remember the beating of parish boundaries, the dancing of May, the blessing of fields and harvest not only as folk tradition, but as serious engagement in a co-operation that literally sustains life.

We can find new forms and expressions for what is probably an ancient and universal awareness – forms that are whole hearted and contemporary for all of us today.

Meanwhile, you might like to try a little elf and gnome whispering there at home…

…and see what happens.


Patrick featured in a 2013 video on ABC Australia. Sadly, the video has now been removed, but you can read a transcript of the interview by clicking here.

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