We are in Spring time and now we can devote ourselves to the preparation of our garden. In particular, being April dedicated to Venus, in this post I would like to make some considerations about the section of the garden dedicated to this Goddess, as critical component of the Hortus Arvalis (Arval Garden)
First of all, I think that it could be useful to provide some brief detail about the Hortus Arvalis. An Arval Garden is the place where the Arval Knowledge in embodied in botanical and Theobotanical terms. Its structure and organization should depict the harmony between the Nature, in her deeper essence, and the human spirit. This can achieved through the symbolic knowledge of the herbs and plants the garden includes, their placement and the sacred geometry the Garden represents as place of contact between the macrocosm and microcosm dimensions. In brief, the Hortus Arvalis is a sort of "Green Book" written with the symbols, letters and grammar of the Tradition where the Three Worlds (Inferi, Surface, Sky) can find the description of their communication and harmony.
Every plant and herb, through its placement within a precise sacred geometry, thus becomes a tool capable to catalyze benefits and energies deriving fom the contact and harmony between these worlds.
Being expression of the generating force of the Earth, the Arval Garden has a squared or rectangular shape: it will be divided into four main sectors whose division can be made with two lanes intersecting at the centre. In this way, the four main elements (water, air, fire, earth) are represented and the fifth element (quintessence) is placed in the middle as axial point.
I can just remind that the antique roman domus surrounded a hortus showing these characteristics with at the centre water as generating element (life) and axial-contact point with the Sky (water is simbolically an infernal element but this case involves the Rain, as water falling from the Sky). This tradition has been copied, maintained and used in the Middle Age in the cloisters with a well as axial point and contact between the inferi, the surface and the sky. In the Reinassance this tradition was at the base of the great hermetic, symbolic and botanic gardens.
The Sacred Geometry at the base of the Arval Garden is symbolically aimed to evidence and streghten the (more or less occult) properties of plants and herbs under the influence of the Divine Forces connected to them, the Sacred Astrology and the underworld providing nourishment to plants and herbs.
The Arval Garden represents therefore the link between planets, metals, plants, Deities, numbers, colors and musical notes. It should have the power to stimluate all the senses: in this way it become a perfect place to practice otium and spiritual purification. The Arval Garden usually includes the "Simples", or those herbs capable, without other ingredients, to produce effects: these herbs can be eaten, used for infusions, compresses, essences, pomades.
Every herb and plant is connected to a Divine Force according a precise correspondence: from these Deities the plants receive some signs, prints, symbols (Doctrine of Signatures) and above all characteristics, qualities, positive (or negative) properties, influences. Any part of the plant, like the human body, is consacrated to a specific Deity: Saturn-roots, Mercury-seeds and bark, Mars-stem and trunk, Pomona/Jupiter-fruits, Moon-leaves, Venus/Flora-flowers.
The Arval Garden is structured into four main sections, which may be divided in further sub-areas. These sub-sections may show particular geometrical shapes on the base of the principles of Geomancy, a divination science through the esoteric value of the geometric shapes and spaces where placing plants, herbs and flowers in order to obtain the better qualities and properties from them.
It is important to note that the bordering of the flowerbeds have a foundamentally symbolic value rather than an aesthetic one because, according to the Tradition, the plants used for the bordering must have the capabilities to avoid the dispersion of the properties of the plants included in the flowerbed
One of the four main sections in the Arval Garden is the Venus' Flowerbed. It should include: oregano, mint, verbena, alchemilla, prunella, artemisia, pomegranate, venus hair fern, moss, myrtle, columbine, orange, heather, violet, rose.
The perfumed herbs and those plants used for cosmetics are sacred to Venus, a Divine Force at the base of the essences, fragrances and perfumes.
This topic is rather long and I don't want to involve the reader in long and boring discussions. Anyway, it is important to do some remarks as conclusion for this post.
First of all, having even a minimal knowledge about the symbolic value of the plants, trees, flowers, and herbs included in an Arval Garden can contribute to regain a new respect for trees and plants understanding in the same time, the complex symbolic value of plants and gardens (also those in the medieval cloisters and the botanical gardens of the reinassance). It is important to understand that these places have a symbolic, religious and spiritual value before the aesthetic one. They are the representation of a particular vision of the Nature, the World and the Universe through a Traditional Language which often has been lost.
Moreover, I would like to evidence that everyone of us can make his/her own Arval Garden because not always it requires great space and high botanical skills. Everyone can make it also in a small scale. Taking care of these plants in an Arval Garden can be a way not only to produce our food, spices and essences through an useful physical activity, but also to gain personal peace and harmony. In brief physical and psychological wellness.