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Post: June 4, 2012
Update: July 5, 2015

One Bite at a Time

Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered

from the Question Line Duo

Summer is for reading!

One of the biggest pleasures of reading is getting to go on an adventure. In Machaelle's three autobiographical books, she takes you along on her adventure, teaches you a thing or two along the way (understatement!) and gives you a new perspective on your own journey.

For the summer, we're highlighting these autobiographies. It's our "One Bite" version of a summer book club! Now, let's start at the beginning . . .


Behaving tells the story of how Perelandra began. Machaelle self-published the first edition in 1981 and sold a few copies directly to folks she met at the talks and workshops she was giving at that time. Those folks shared their books with friends and next thing you know, Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered appeared in a book review in South Africa. Folks started writing to Machaelle to purchase books by mail and things started taking off. Behaving is now in its third edition, and is available as an ebook.

It wasn't that long ago that most everyone's first introduction to Machaelle's work was through Behaving. Now, people enter through many doors (and windows!). So we have a feeling there are lots of you who have never read Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered. And we bet a lot of you old timers, like us, haven't read it in a while — or haven't read the most recent edition. Sometimes it's good to go back and find our roots again. Remember why it is we were so drawn to Perelandra and Machaelle's work in the first place — or perhaps discover what's behind that ETS bottle our friend gave us last month — where did that come from? or the Digestive System Balancing Solution or MAP or the Nature Program Essences. . . . If you know Perelandra from the label on a bottle and have never read Behaving, you are in for a wonderful discovery. And if you are one of those people who have read this book more than once already, you know how every read is a brand new discovery.

We've both been working at Perelandra for over 20 years, and we know how easy it can be to get lost in the wealth of information, the excitement of new products and processes. We thought reading Behaving would be a great way to kick off the summer — to go back to the beginning and remember what's at the heart of all this co-creative stuff we do, the bottles we juggle, the soil-less gardens we create and the gardens we harvest.

On the Question Line, folks often tell us how they first learned about Perelandra and how that moment changed their lives. The stories of how and when one of Machaelle's books landed in your hands are as varied as all of you and we always enjoy hearing them. So rather than give you a bulleted list of what's in Behaving, we want to each share our personal experience of the first time we read this book and what it meant to us.

From Beth:
The first time I read Behaving I was still in high school. One of those rare moments when a teenager listens to their mom as they hand over a book saying,"I think you'll really enjoy this." Turned out she was right! Reading about how Machaelle was treated as a child made me angry, but like so many people I was also impressed and encouraged by her determination to make some damn fine lemonade from a bunch of sour lemons. Then she got to talking about and talking to nature. Things started to make sense, and a whole world of possibilities opened. Because she didn't tell me, "I survived and learned from some horrible crap and now I can talk to nature — aren't I special?!" She told me that I could talk to nature too, that anyone can. And nature not only would talk back, but wanted to! That there could be balance in the world, and the environment. That if we listen to nature we aren't doomed. Then she took it a step further and laid out the tools to get started. Of course, my understanding was based on my limited years of experience. Over the years, when I have read and re-read Behaving, I've learned new things about form and nature and possibilities. Like an introductory course on life and working with nature intelligence.

From Jeannette:
In 1992, I left Virginia and my entire life behind and headed for Central America. Planning to be away 6 months, I had to choose carefully what I packed and what I left behind. A close friend lent me her copy of Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered and insisted I take it along. Never in a million years could I have imagined the importance of having that one small item in my bag at that time. As I began reading Machaelle's story, I couldn't imagine where it was taking me. Her trials, her pains and her life experiences touched me and her resilience inspired me. And when nature came into the picture — YES! I knew it. I just knew this. Finally. Someone was talking about it — about nature, about talking to nature — in a way that went beyond what I had read, learned and experienced. I traveled all the way from Virginia, where for years I had lived less than 50 miles from Perelandra, where a friend and acquaintances worked part time, but I didn't actually learn anything about Machaelle's work until I landed in the middle of a rainforest in Central America.

It turned out, to my surprise, the woman I was working for had also read Behaving, had a copy of MAP on her coffee table and Machaelle's book, Flower Essences on her bookshelf. She was blazing a trail of her own with her work in traditional herbal medicine and health, and Machaelle's work played a part in that. We talked about the principles in Behaving — talking to nature to ask for help in what we were doing. So now, not only was I reading Behaving, it was literally leading the way for me in a whole new understanding of how the world worked. I always knew I could talk to nature. My grandmother taught me that when I was a child. It was a natural, matter of fact thing in my mind. But I also knew not too many others felt that way. As an adult, I learned about Native American practices and philosophies, and how to talk to nature in prayer-like ways. And in Central America I learned how Mayan elders and healers spoke to nature and their prayers and ways of honoring nature. And there, thousands of miles from my home, sitting in the middle of a rainforest studying ancient information, I learned how to have a conversation with nature from a woman writing about her garden in Virginia. I learned that nature would talk to me — and make sense! And give me useful information, and teach me. And I didn't have to hear voices, didn't have to meditate or go into some weird trance, didn't have to pretend I had any real experience of what it was like to be a Native American or a Mayan or a Celtic pagan raised in a different culture at a different time. I didn't have to know anything about what I was in a past life. Talking to nature wasn't about fairies or being all mysterious and "hooey wooey." I could just climb up a hillside with a couple of regular people wanting to learn how to save and propagate useful plants and ask nature how to take this seed from a plant that was completely foreign to me and get it to germinate. I could ask, "Do we start this plant from a seed or do we transplant a sapling?" And I could still learn about "spiritual things" and discover how nature fit into that part of my life in a way that was within my reach, sensible and practical. From Behaving, I learned that whatever I was doing, nature was always there too, right there listening and responding. From Machaelle, through Behaving, I learned that nature was a friend and a teacher ready to take my hand and walk through life with me. All I had to do was turn and ask.

As we were writing this for you, it felt kind of odd telling our personal stories and not talking about the story told in Behaving. But then we realized — that's the magical thing about Behaving. It is Machaelle's extraordinary story of her life, and when you read it, it sparks the extraordinary in your own life.

Everything Machaelle and nature offers us through Perelandra is personal. As she explains so well in her essay, Celebrating the Power of the Individual, we can each apply this knowledge in our own lives and contribute in "small" and "big" ways to a stronger, more balanced planet.

Now that you've heard from us, we would love to hear from you. So many people have told us Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered changed their life. We encourage you to go to our web page about Behaving and submit a review to tell us and everyone else what Machaelle's first book means to you, here.

Here's what some other folks had to say:

I had *just* finished this author's book on Essences (another 5-star one in my opinion, though I haven't gotten to writing that review yet), when I felt drawn to reading her personal story. And what a story it is! Watching her grow from introspective, imaginative child to "How in the world did she survive all that?" teen, to awe-inspiring woman of nature, Machaelle Small Wright takes you on a spiritual journey you will not soon forget. And she does it with wonderful self-effacing humor and a down-to-earth grittiness that draws you toward her, rather than dismissing her as someone unusual. She states we ALL have this potential within us, and I'm prone to believe her (from my own experiences.) So if you are interested in how to live more in harmony with our world, period, or just like reading a good story — this book has it . . . Get it. Read it. And never be the same (in a GOOD way! :) — deelited2, Amazon review

Oh my goodness, if you think this is a book just about fairies, or gardening, think again. Actually just get the book, it'll knock your socks off regarding your reality re Nature.. hint.. It's all Nature.. asphalt, polyester, living in Manhattan.. This book will inspire you to reconnect to your roots (ha ha) by redefining the world we live in. MSW's 30 yrs plus contribution to this planet as a co-creative researcher/scientist/gardener is one of the most useful, brilliant, radical, yet seemingly normal tools that you could have to make your life more livable, enjoyable. This book will shift your reality indeed, for the better. — peachy, Amazon review

This is a must read for everyone who values life, ALL life, and it's relationship to the universe. It will change your perspective on everything and you will never look at nature the same way again. Kudos to Machaelle Small Wright for bringing this information to us at such a crucial time in the history of the earth. — DDB, Amazon review

If you want to read a chapter now, you'll find a free excerpt here.

As you pack your bag for summer vacation, or load up your Kindle or iPad with your summer reading list, include Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered. Every time you read Behaving, you will learn something new that will expand how you think, how you interact with the world around you and most importantly how you interact with nature.

Good reading,
Jeannette & Beth

Purchase or submit a review for Behaving here.

Read an excerpt of Behaving here.