• Jennifer Jewell

THE POWER OF BOTANICAL MYTHOLOGY with MATT HALL


Matt Hall is a husband, father, and gardener deeply interested in how our cultural mythologies can produce and support cultures of connection and respect across species and beings OR cultures of disconnection and disrespect writ large. He works as a researcher at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His books “Plants as Persons” and “The Imagination of Plants” work to highlight myths and cultural narratives across time which center plants as animating and heroic beings in their own rights and to the benefit of us all.

Mythological texts that Matt plumbs in his research include the Hindu Vedas, Mahabarata, Puranas, the book of Genesis, the Norse Eddas, the Zorastrian Bundahisn, ancient Chinese and Japanese myths, the Finish Kalevala, the Mayan Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam of Chumayel, and creation stories and myths from the north American Acoma and Zuni traditions, as well as Incan and Aboriginal Australian mythology.


Follow along with Matt's work at SUNY PRESS website: https://www.sunypress.edu/p-6730-the-imagination-of-plants.aspx



Join us again next week when we start a two part series looking at the beauty, agency and heroism of plants and their faunal companions through the imaginative eyes and handwork of two artists beginning with Colleen Southwell of the Garden Curator based in Australia. Join Us then.


RELATED EPISODES INCLUDE:



- NAVIGATING BY PLANTS, ULI LORIMER

- GROWING AND BUILDING EMPOWERMENT, FRAILTY MYTHS

- EMILY DICKINSON'S GARDENING LIFE, MARTA MCDOWELL



THINKING OUT LOUD this week..

SO.....


The idea of Botanical Mythology and how we position plants and the botanical world in our most valued cultural stories is such a strikingly effective measurement for how we value and treat them. And seeing this can of course also show us how in changing the way we story these beings works hand in hand with changing our mindsets, which is the only really effective method I know for changing our behavior. We Change our behavior if we really believe something to be true. It was about half way through my interview with Matt that I had one of those lightbulb moments of THIS was part of my point in starting Cultivating Place – I wanted to change how we talk about, and how we routinely hear others talk and think about plants and this plant garden life. Centering the value of the botanical world for its own sake, elevating its importance and prioritization in each of our lives elevates the way we all see and feel together in this world view. Together we grow stronger in our resolve to work and think on behalf of this priority in our world.

So thank you for listening along here – for participating in this Cultivating Place garden level world view. If you value these conversations and dialogue, I so appreciate whatever support you might want and be able to share. Share the podcast with friends, share your reviews and ratings of the podcast on Apple Podcasts or whatever your podcast platform is, follow and share your thoughts with Cultivating_place on Instagram, OR share a financial donation – one time or recurring monthly – large or small – by following the SUPPORT button line at the top right hand corner of every page at CultivatingPlace.com.

And thank you for an one of these kinds of shares – they help this podcast continue to grow stronger every season.


The idea of Botanical Mythology and how we position plants and the botanical world in our most valued cultural stories is such a strikingly effective measurement for how we value and treat them. And seeing this can of course also show us how in changing the way we story these beings works hand in hand with changing our mindsets, which is the only really effective method I know for changing our behavior.


We change our behavior if we really believe something to be true. It was about half way through my interview with Matt that I had one of those lightbulb moments of "THIS was part of my point in starting Cultivating Place". I wanted to change how we talk about, and how we routinely hear others talk and think about plants and this plant garden life. Centering the value of the botanical world for its own sake, elevating its importance and prioritization in each of our lives elevates the way we all see and feel together in this world view. Together we grow stronger in our resolve to work and think on behalf of this priority in our world.

So thank you for listening along here – for participating in this Cultivating Place garden level world view. If you value these conversations and dialogue, I so appreciate whatever support you might want and be able to share. Share the podcast with friends, share your reviews and ratings of the podcast on Apple Podcasts or whatever your podcast platform is, follow and share your thoughts with Cultivating_place on Instagram, OR share a financial donation – one time or recurring monthly – large or small – by following the SUPPORT button line at the top right hand corner of every page at CultivatingPlace.com.

And thank you for any one of these kinds of shares – they help this podcast continue to grow stronger every season...

Matt and I sat down for this conversation early this past spring – before the Covid-19 worldwide pause. He recently wrote to give me an update – I wanted to share some of that here with you!

"Kia ora Jennifer,

So much has happened, it feels like we’re living in a different world. Where to start?

Like everywhere on the planet, the pandemic has had a significant effect on our lives here. As a parent with two young girls under 5, our 5 weeks of lockdown was fairly intense. Juggling my full time job and looking after two kids, while my wife also worked full time on finishing a documentary series on water, meant that things were hectic. We worked in shifts of 4 hours, while the other had the girls, and then swapped over. Lockdown meant that we were only able to go for 1 walk a day in the local neighbourhood, so during my ‘shifts’ with the kids we did spend quite a bit of time in the garden. What a blessing to have this space! I really felt for anyone without an outdoor space – and strongly feel that outside space should be considered a basic essential for housing.

Having the girls at home meant that I didn’t get any time for research, but I really enjoyed spending this additional time with them. In the garden we got involved with plenty of tree climbing, flower picking and pressing, and the girls helped me plant some winter vegetables (kale, silverbeet, red cabbage). They are both also very keen on wielding the hosepipe! As I say in the episode, we’re also very fortunate to live on Wellington’s south coast, so on our daily walk we were also able to walk to our local beach and spend time clambering over drift wood, identifying seaweed species and finding paua shells. Of course, the lockdown was an emergency response to a global crisis, but part of me really misses the tranquillity of that time, and just spending time outside with my children. Would it be so difficult to create a society in which that was a norm, rather than feeling like a massive privilege?

Here in Aotearoa we’re also in a blessed situation of having effectively eliminated COVID-19, so life has slowly got back to some semblance of normal. The pandemic situation hasn’t had an impact on the broad focus of my research, but it has helped me remember that examining our relationship with nature is one of our most important tasks right now. I feel like it’s opening up opportunities to do things differently. Whether we’ll take them or not is a different matter. "


As always - together we grow....better.

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