This is a question that lots of people have been asking me, specially our students in the permaculture design courses that we run in southern Europe, Portugal.

And actually I also have been asking that same question to myself.

Does it need an answer?  Lets see what it will come as I type in…

First impression is that I sense that lot´s of us have been traumatized by patriarchal religions, in such a way that all that sound´s like religion immediately creates a closing reaction to the topic.  Funny it is to see that the word religion comes from Religare which means to reconnect, to bind.  Wonder if one day these word will have the right meaning again.

But talking about spirituality and religion is something totally different. So for now I would prefer to keep religion away from these article.

Lets take a look into the spheres that the originals , Holmgren and Mollison,  proposed and see if they are separated or interconnected?


They are actually connected as we see from the black trinity flower  which already give us some hints to our answer.

Now lets look at 3 spheres that are not connected:


There are no interconnection here, still they are touching each other but not establishing connections. Wonder why the originals, Mollison and Holmgren didn’t use these mandala above to expose their fundamental ethics of permaculture…. maybe because there are no connections between them and they were sensitive enough to capture the world necessity where things in nature must be and actually are interconnected.

Is permaculture a spiritual movement or a secular science ?

There is a trick on this question , if we observe it well there’s a sense of separation that comes with the word ” or ” .

And if we read through the principles of permaculture from David Holmgren  we will see  – “integrate rather than segregate“, which is already saying that we are all welcome, I mean those that feel more connected to the spiritual world and those that are more connected to the material world. Another principle that says “use and value diversity” , in which I read again that we are all welcome in these culture independent of our colour, genre and background. Also in these principal “use edges and value de margins ” there is an invitation for going out of our comfort zone and meet people who are not from our sphere of interests, the edge between the so-called spiritual people and the materialistic one´s can create lots of new ideas.

As I type in it also comes to my mind the following question – where does the impulse to design comes from? From  the spirit or in our hands as we act ?

It happened already that depending of what am I designing it can start on one or in both, hands and spirit. But if we go deep we can also ask where does the need for design comes from?

I guess that to design something, a garden, a swale on a land, a house, a food forest, is to answer to a need that we have, that our body have and I believe our spirit also have.

Good food, shelter, and all basics needs properly designed  lead to a culture were stress  changes to love and respect. I feel that these world lacks of proper design, we are surrounded by systems that are obsolete and no longer serve humans, nature, and above all the interconnection between both. If we look around, wealth, transports, education, sexuality, housing, economy and so on, are all inhumanly design in such a way that is turning mankind in a very stressed specie, were greed seems to be the dominating value that eventually just leads to suffering.

And its all about bad design! Its time to redesign the World culture, time to reduce stress in all systems and restore peace among us again. Peace I believe is our natural value and love is the outcome of that.

I see that inside permaculture movement, in blogs, youtube comments, in social networks there is also a culture of hate and division, between those that claim it as a pure science and between those that are connected to the social/spiritual realm of the movement.

We are not so many out there willing to redesign the world with these incredible ethics, the earth care, the people care and the fair share, and with the principles that uncle Bill and David Holmgren left to us, as guidelines to make a new culture happen. We are all needed for these Big Turn, to make the critical number a reality, we have to cross the 100 monkey effect, believing that it is possible to live in a beautiful garden on earth.

For these to happen, we have to leave the answer for the question that names these article for each one of us to answer.

Permaculture is not in danger because of any hippies , neard´s, raggas, rocker´s, stoner´s, builder´s, gardener´s,  danger only exists on a mind that accepts fear as the base for it´s belief system. These minds are still seeing scarcity where there is abundance. These minds still live the age of separation, but if we look to the world and the advent of internet and social networking we see that we are much more connected with the global culture them 10 years ago, and I see it as the foundation for the Age of Connection replacing the fear based illusion of separation with a global sense of connection.

What we need to do rather than going old school as chose a party, political one, a sport team and so on, is to walk our talk, to exchange information between local and wider community’s, build more resilient networks and use these knowledge for creation instead of destruction.

Lets drop our swords and  make it happen!!

Pedro Valdjiu, From Terra Alta, Permaculture Courses center.