April 8, 2012

G is for gardens

Posted in Home and Temple, Pagan Blog Project 2012, Tending the Shrine at 7:42 pm by

For the Pagan Blog Project:

I was surprised a while ago, while reading a book on the garden in ancient Egypt, to learn that the people made gardens around the tombs. Surprised, but I can see it now, given the textual and iconographic depictions of the dead amidst the shade of trees, cool water, and greenery. And there were temple gardens as well, of course, but you don’t think of that, don’t envision that, as you walk around what remains of temple and tomb in today’s Egypt. The gardens are missing, along with the other adornments, the paint on the figures, the pennants flying, so all that’s left is the bones, majestic but bare. Philae is perhaps the exception, lovely with bougainvillea and sycamore figs, a hint of what might have once been.

Herodotus’s description of the temple at per-Bast speaks a great deal of the trees lining the canals and the roads and surrounding the sacred precinct. And I’ve seen Bast there in my mind’s vision, seated on a throne in Her pavilion, surrounded by moon-cast shadows, the murmur of the waters, and fragrance on the cooling breeze.

I have ambitions toward temple gardening myself, but limits on time, energy, money, and, to be honest, focus have been standing in my way. (Once, in a flash of brief-lived but intense passion, I asked Renenutet to help me fulfill my vision of my property as a garden paradise. Knowing me better than I did myself, She laughed at me.) So for the present, I’ve scaled back my ambitions. First priority is to maintain what I have, keeping the multiflora and wild raspberries somewhat in check, mowing and weeding, pruning and raking. And after that, to add a bit at a time: to create little nooks of beauty, a butterfly bush here, a wildflower patch there, miniature garden shrines to stumble upon.

I would love to have a glorious garden for Bast, full of color and perfume and bright wings of butterflies and birds. And maybe someday, piece by piece, I’ll have it.

Imagine this, but about forty times wider and with temple walls rising up above the greenery at the end of the road; I’d guess that would give us a fair image of the road to per-Bast according to Herodotus. (Photograph of Kitchner’s Island botanical garden, Aswan, from Wikipedia.)

Dua Bast, appearing in beauty! Nekhtet!


  1. RaasAlHayya said,

    April 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I have considered keeping a small indoor garden as part of my practice, but I am terrible at remembering to water plants. :(

    What would be the most important plant for you to have in your garden?

  2. Shefyt said,

    April 9, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Hmm, that’s a good question. So many to choose from! I really want a butterfly bush; they smell amazing, and butterfly habitat is good. I love irises too. And I need more lilacs! And I keep envisioning a garden especially for Bast, full of fiery colors: coreopsis, gaillarda, marigolds, day lilies, roses. Food-wise, I’d have to say tomatoes (which Bast also seems to like).

    So much for just one….

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