By Timothy Spearman
“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a book of hope and renewal very pertinent and relevant to our times. As we enter the field of fifth dimension consciousness, we are in fact entering a portal called the Gates of Paradise. As we spiritually evolve from the Living Hell to Purgatory, to Kingdom and finally Paradise, we pass through various stages of ignorance to progressive understanding. Best of all we come to know ourselves – who we are – which is the call to action recommended to us by many world-historical teachers, not least Socrates and Jesus.
Mary Quite Contrary as she is initially nicknamed in “The Secret Garden” is at odds with the world primarily because of self-loathing and misunderstanding of self and the world. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was influenced by Immanuel Kant, states, “The mind half creates what is sees” and “in our life alone doth nature live.” For Mary, she cannot perceive the beauty of the world and nature in the beginning because she doesn’t have the “key”, the clavis, the secret to understanding. But she later discovers the “key,” which has been left buried in the ground, in other words, buried in her subconscious. Upon discovering the key, she opens the Gates to the Eternal Paradise and enters in upon the “secret garden”.
There she commiserates with the birds and the buds and the seedlings struggling to be born. She skips rope among the bushes, shrubbery and trees until she is reborn into a world transformed, a world previously unknown to her because of her own state of ignorance, as author Burnett explains:
So long as Mistress Mary’s mind was full of disagreeable
thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people
and her determination not to be pleased by or interested
in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored and
wretched child. Circumstances, however, were kind to her,
though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push
her about for her own good. When her mind gradually
filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded
with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and
common little Yorkshire housemaids, and springtime
and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and
also with a moor boy and his ‘creatures,’ there was no
room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affected
her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and
tired. (Secret Garden, 338)
Burnett is spot on in recognizing that what she refers to as “disagreeable thoughts”, resulting from misapprehension and misunderstanding of self and the world have a direct bearing on one’s digestive functions, leading to diabetes, gastro-intestinal problems, or liver or kidney problems because the sound functioning of these organs is directly linked to “true identity”. If you are bipolar or not properly centered in yourself, as is the case with Mary Quite Contrary, Colin Craven and Ben Weatherstaff at the outset of the novel, then you will be plagued with mental and physical health problems, which each of these characters obviously is. Mary and Colin both have observable problems with their colour and pallor for instance, which directly stems from the anti-life philosophy each of them embraces, which causes their organ and body functions to malfunction, rendering them mentally and physically ill. Neither character responds well to natural elements like wind and fresh air in the beginning of the novel, which only exacerbates their poor health.
In fact it is only when Mary awakens in Colin an interest in a Paradise concealed in the hidden recesses of his psyche that he begins to come around to embracing a more life affirmative position, which causes him to no longer speak of the possibility of “death” and “dying” and living the life of an invalid confined to a four-poster bed that more closely resembles a coffin, in a bedroom that more closely resembles a mortuary.
When child of nature, Dickon, encourages Mary, Colin and Ben the gardener to delight in the wonders of nature and casts a magic spell on all assembled in the secret garden with his incantation and lucky charm, they are each calmed into a state of bliss in which for the first time in their lives they are truly able to commune with nature and experience the inner calm and peace that comes with it. Hence they come to have a deeper appreciation of the world through a deeper understanding of themselves. True identity leads to true understanding which leads to true love which leads to the true Gate of the Eternal Paradise. Once Mary and Colin enter the Gates of Paradise through the gate of the Secret Garden, Adam and Eve rediscover Eden and Paradise Lost becomes Paradise Regained, the devil is sent packing and the angel of light shines and dispenses light to all, the garden is blessed and they receive its blessings and everyone lives happily ever after in the Eternal Paradise.
Even Colin’s father, Archibald Craven, is redeemed from the Living Hell in the end, summoned back from self-imposed exile in Europe to his estate, where even he is let in on the secrets of the secret garden of the Eternal Paradise. Having felt abandoned by his deceased wife, he left a chain reaction of abandonment in his life, a veritable train wreck of abandonment, where his estate and the secret garden his wife so loved fell into neglect, where be buried the key or the clavis to the secret garden of the eternal paradise in the ground – symbolic of his own subconscious – abandoned his own child Colin, who became an invalid yearning for love, abandoned his niece, Mary, who had only just been made an orphan after her parents died of a plague in India, abandoned his old trusted gardener, Ben Weatherstaff, to tend to the grounds while letting the secret garden fall into dereliction and neglect. But in the end, there was a way out for each and every one of the characters in the novel through the discovery of a buried key, the clavis that opened the door to the Secret Garden of the Eternal Paradise. May we all find the hidden gate, and when we find it, may we all pass through the gate into the Eternal Paradise and reclaim the lost Garden of Eden we deserted and abandoned so long ago, when the first Adam and the first turned their backs on the Eternal Paradise and ventured forth out of Eden into the Living Hell. It’s time for the great return folks. Please accept the key provided by authors like Frances Hodgson Burnett. Read such books with perception and understanding and the key to the Eternal Paradise is yours. Do not let the key stay buried.