George MacDonald

"The truth of the flower is, not the facts about it, be they correct as ideal science itself, but the shining, glowing, gladdening, patient thing throned on its stalk-the compeller of smile and tear....The idea of God is the flower. Its botany is but the ways and means-of canvas and colour and brush in relation to the picture in the painter's brain." George MacDonald

"His likeness to Christ is the truth of a man, even as the perfect meaning of a flower is the truth of a flower.... As Christ is the blossom of humanity, so the blossom of every man is the Christ perfected in him." George MacDonald

Mystic equals: ?
George MacDonald (1824-1905) lived in Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (home of my fathers). He was a writer, poet, Christian preacher & usually termed a mystic, although I'm not sure what this term really means. Usually, it seems to pop up whenever people don't understand what someone is saying, but are sure that it makes sense on some deeper, more spiritual level. A lot of people didn't understand what George was saying at the time, and often, when they did, he lost his job. This was when he was a preacher in Calvinist Scotland and England, and thought that a lot of Calvinism was 'just not on' as the Brits say. In fact, my favorite legend of MacDonald is that when he was first explained the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, he burst into tears (even though assured that he was of the elect.) He also believed lots of controversial things like that if you were in the clergy, you should be a Christian.........
George MacDonald had a farm
I confess, I have made the pilgrimage, along with Izzy & B to Huntley, and the farm where MacDonald grew up. I will boast that we sat in his kitchen and drank tea and walked around his garden. The people who lived in his farmhouse were kind to us besotted Americans and let us moon about. They even showed us a letter that MacDonald had written to his sister. I got the same sort of excitement mixed with melancholy that I felt when B & I walked around the Kilns on our honeymoon. We were looking for Lewis' Narnia, but it existed only in his head. In Huntley, along the Strathbogie river, we looked for the fairies from Carasoyn or Gibbie Galbraith from Sir Gibbie, but they weren't to be found. What we loved about Narnia, and all MacDonald's fantasies were actually the things that pointed to heaven. And we can't grasp heaven. It isn't here, (or there) in that sense; like trying to close your hands around mist. It's that longing for another country, again, Lewisian Joy. *Sigh*

MacDonald Primer

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. MacDonald, I recommend his children's fairy-stories. The Princess & the Goblin, (B & I saw that one done as a Christmas pantomime in Edinburgh), The Princess & Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind, & his shorter fairy-stories like The Light Princess, The Wise Woman, and my favorite, Photogen & Nycteris. His adult fantasies, Phantastes, & Lilith, are just incredible, and pretty much created a whole new genre of fiction. He wrote piles of 'adult fiction' which have been repugnantly edited and renamed by Michael Phillips. They resemble cheesy period Victorian romance novels, so caveat emptor, and all that. But the way he talks about Jesus is just wonderful, and so joyous. Often when I get bogged down by creepy theology, I return to MacDonald and he returns me to Jesus.

He influenced everyone from C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien & Madeleine L'Engle to Lewis Carroll (and me!) I hope you like old George. I wish I were reading him again for the first time.
And official thanks to B, the Elevens & Izzy, for first introducing us.


Anonymous said...

these are lovely words. I want to dream about them. yes. um.

Rosa said...

Are you trying to say "GO TO BED?"
okay. You're right.

b said...


Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.