Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Cycles, Ceremonies, and Creeping Phlox: An Autoethnographic Account of the Creation of Our Garden

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Cycles, Ceremonies, and Creeping Phlox: An Autoethnographic Account of the Creation of Our Garden

Article excerpt

Introduction

Endings and beginnings, beginnings and endings. I have seen a few in the five years I've been sculpting and tending the garden my husband, Brian, and I co-created. As an ecofeminist, I embrace and practice my own unique form of Earth-based spirituality, and I have come to think of our garden as a gateway, or invitation, to my ongoing personal, spiritual transformation, and evolution. Ecofeminism is underpinned by, but is not limited to, liberal, Marxist, radical, cultural, and socialist philosophies, all of which are concerned with improving the human/ nature relationship (Merchant, 1990; Plumwood, 1993; Warren, 1993). Earth-based spirituality has three core principles, as described by Starhawk (1990): First, the Earth is alive, and we are an intricate part of the Earth. Second, everything is interconnected. Third, upon understanding these interconnections, we commit ourselves to creating a community that connects us to the Earth, and enables us to take action together to sustain the planet and its diverse life forms, including humans (Starhawk, 1990). The notion of interconnection contextualizes my usage of the term nature throughout this paper, positioned as a distinct entity but experienced as a "complex system of rhythms and interconnections of which human beings are a part" (Fullagar, 2000, p. 65). Myriad spiritual practices and paths have influenced me over my lifetime, including pagan, Indigenous, and Buddhist teachings. Earth-based spiritual practices, including ceremony, prayer, and contemplation, for me, are essential in establishing and maintaining a compassionate, mindful, and committed relationship with the planet and the entities that dwell upon it.

I am dedicated to the principles of Earth-based spiritual ecofeminism and feel connected and committed to nature as a whole; however, above and beyond wilderness settings, I have an especially intimate relationship with our garden. Raisborough and Bhatti (2007) believe the garden is a "politically charged place" (p. 474) and a space of agency for women. They claim it is a space in which women can gain empowerment, allowing them to reposition their "active and confident relations with others as well as their active relation to socially recognizable gendered norms" (p. 474). This autoethnographic exploration is a platform to reflect on personal experiences of empowerment, the process by which I secured increased control over my life and nurtured my capacities and potentiality in conjunction with support from others (Arai, 1997), that includes acts of patriarchical resistance and reproduction, in relation to nature, non-human others, and my partner in the garden.

Ecofeminism is a theory highly underutilized in leisure studies, having only been explored, to my knowledge, in a single paper by Fox (1994) more than a decade ago, yet it offers a valuable lens to examine gender and leisure. Ecofeminisms make important connections between differing forms of oppression and "attempt to remedy the way in which women and others have been historically and discursively marginalized by a patriarchal centre" (Fox, 1994, p. 42). Ecofeminism recognizes that everyone's needs, including the nonhuman world, must be taken into consideration in relation to all others in order to dispel dualistic thinking that "divides the world into hierarchical dichotomies with one aspect regarded as superior and the 'other' regarded inferior, recognizing instead the existence of multiplicities" (Mack-Canty, 2004, p. 158). In this way, ecofeminisms challenge leisure scholars to embrace multiple perspectives, strive to empower others, clarify the importance and complexity of leisure for humans and nature, deepen the appreciation of our own perspectives, and "[accounts] for the limits of our vision and the damage caused by the violation of those limits " (Fox, 1994, p. 52). Ecofeminisms bring a unique and inclusive approach to leisure studies, and I believe this paper to be socially and theoretically relevant to this special feminist issue of the Journal of Leisure Research in that it truly reflects a third wave feminist stance inclusive of nature as a living entity and partner in leisure. …

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