This month (April 2014), we are excited to have T. “Turtle” Turtlington here in Nevada City. While he’s here, he will teach several classes at HAALo: one on Garden Planning by Lunar Cycle and a 3-part drawing class series. More details follow this conversation between Kathy Frey, communications designer at HAALo, and Turtle.
KF: How/when did your connection to plants and otherwordly things open up?
TTT: Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, I didn’t really start-off with any kind of, even remote, connection with plants… in fact it was quite the opposite. So, when I rebelled (as every good kid should!), I naturally headed straight for the hills, specifically to the forests of Southern Appalachia in The Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
I moved “back to the land,” which happened to be a 365 acre EcoVillage. My first contact with Nature was through permaculture, organic farming and gardening. A few years into this I came across a teacher named Frank Cook, a traveling herbalist, visionary, medicine-man, who led walks and taught classes about “re-connecting” with our plant allies.
It was through Frank that I learned the art of fermentation, specifically making herbal meads and elixirs. The practice of this craft gave me a much deeper connection to the plant allies and how to work with them. It really broadened my horizons and taught me how to “listen” to them. Frank became a very good friend of mine, and we traveled and taught a lot together.
He is probably the single greatest influence upon me becoming a teacher! It was due to his passing that a younger generation of healers, herbalists and the like jumped up to begin teaching and leading… someone needed to fill his shoes, and his shoes were SO big, his presence SO great that it has taken dozens of us to do so!
KF: Where do your passions reside most of the time?
TTT: In my Heart! (laughing) No, I joke… I’m passionate about so much that they just seem to kind of swirl around me. I love music, art, science, history, consciousness, sacred geometry, mysticism, the “occult,” alchemy, reading, gardening, astronomy, astrology… and I suppose I just sort of blend them together and roll them all up into one big School!
Which is what I have been most passionate about for the past year or so… The Mathemagical School of Art, Design and Natural Phenomena was created as a foundation… a vehicle really, for bringing forth all of these passions. The ancient Greek philosophers had The Academy, and I found it odd that that died with Plato, and so I opened the Mathemagical School with the subtitle: “An Academy for the Exploration of Divine Number and Sacred Geometry.” It’s a Nomadic Mystery School, really.
KF: What’s your favorite part about teaching?
TTT: Talking. (laughs again) Well really, it’s the look of “Aha!” in peoples’ eyes when they put it all together. You know, we’re all so fond of saying things like: “We already know everything, we’re just remembering it.” Well, why can’t I just remember it all, already?!
It’s a slow thing, and we do know it all, and when I teach a class on Lunar rhythms and how it relates to plant growth and gardening, it all suddenly makes sense! It’s so simple, and we are struck with that feeling of how the Universe is “Perfectly Beautiful” in its design, and that through our intuition and genius, we can participate in creating something really incredible! Seeing students come to that feeling within themselves makes me feel really, really useful.
KF: What special gifts do you bring to teaching?
TTT: Um… I suppose I smile a lot when I teach. I like to bring a little humor to the process. Make it fun! Teaching geometry for example, it doesn’t have to be hard. “Keeping Math Weird!” That should be the School’s motto or something! Is it math or is it art?
It’s both, but I meet people all the time through my classes and presentations that are freaked out by these words! You’d be surprised; those two words can make people nervous! So you have to approach the subject very gently, and with just a bit of excitement and fascination, and then take it into “awe”… because we’re talking about the fundamental forces and patterns that create Universes! At that point, it would take a really “turned-off” person to be bored by this approach to Math.
KF: What are you learning and studying in your life right now? What’s piquing your curiosity?
TTT: I’m really interested in the whole nature of “frequency”… vibration. It’s really Everything! Everything is vibration! Every thing is made up of vibrating molecules, and this is what makes up our physical reality! The ancient traditions all understood this, and coded it into their texts and spiritual writings.
Well, Sacred Geometry is one way to “map” these realms of frequency and vibration. Sound, color, proportion. These are all aspects of the cosmic vibration, and Music, Art and Math are systems used by us as the cosmic technicians to bring Harmony into the Cosmos.
KF: Why should people take your classes? What might open up for them?
TTT: I started the Mathemagical School with the goal of reaching artists, architects, healers, designers, yoga-teachers, gardeners, farmers, musicians… These are the people who shape culture. If we can bring this concept of Art-Science-Spirit as a unified practice — if we can bring “Cosmic Whole-ism” into the minds and ideas of those who are shaping our future — then Harmony will be implicit in their results. It has to be… it’s just how it works.
So, yes, take these classes, everyone! Because we are all, in one way or another, the designers of the future! Whatever you do, you are part of the solution. And getting a grip on astronomy, moon calendars, sacred science, spiritual mathematics, herbal elixirs, plant-spirit medicine, meditation, et cetera, et cetera is going to really help when it comes time for you to lend your voice and vision to the collective process of bringing balance back to the world.
On Tuesday, April 8, Turtle is teaching SUN, MOON AND STARS: Understanding Solar Movement, Lunar Rhythms, and Planting Calendars at HAALo, 6–8:30pm. Read more details and sign up here.
The Drawing From Plants: Learning to See class series takes place April 11, 15 and 18. Arrive promptly at HAALo at 1pm to walk from there. Classes are 1–2:30pm and can be taken individually or as a series. Read about the specific classes and sign up here.
T. “Turtle” Turtlington is a gardener, artist, alchemist and mead-maker. He studies the natural rhythms of both Earth and Sky, in an attempt to wed Art and Science. His tools are the compass, a shovel, paintbrush, and pen.
He has studied extensively with geometer and architect Keith Critchlow, in his Kairos Program. He attended the Goethean Studies program with alchemist and biodynamic researcher Dennis Klocek, at the Rudolf Steiner Collage (2002). In 2003 he learned, and later co-taught, the art and technique of herbal elixirs and medicinal meads with the late Frank Cook, and he sits on the Board of Directors of Plants and Healers International, a non-profit focused on maintaining the legacy of Frank Cook.
In 2013, Turtle started The Mathemagical School of Art, Design and Natural Phenomena, through which he teaches the practical applications of Divine Number and Sacred Geometry.