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Positive Energy for Upcoming Horticultural Symposium Lies Between Chambers and the Library

January 29, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

By Emily Drew '04
Photos by Eron Earley-Thiele

Jaan Ferree
Jaan Ferree

Jaan Ferree steps barefooted into the patch of grass in front of Vail Commons. She holds her two metal dowsing rods parallel to the ground. She looks to the sky. She asks, "May I dowse? Can I dowse? Am I supposed to dowse at this time?" When the dowsing rods open outwardly, meaning "yes," she forms another question. "Is there a labyrinth within one hundred yards of this site?" The rods pull together and cross. No, the earth says, there is no labyrinth energy here.

Ferree made her appeals in connection with Davidson's 2001 Horticultural Symposium, which will be held March 5-6 on campus under the theme "Artist in the Garden: The Interaction of Nature and Art." In addition to an all-star lineup of speakers addressing color theory, garden photography, and using plants to create visual art, the symposium will feature a temporary labyrinth.

Symposium committee members Joy McCain, superintendent of grounds at Davidson, and Liz Harris, a horticultural instructor at Central Piedmont Community College, called on Ferree to help them locate the right spot for the construction. Ferree, a self-described novice dowser, said she has the ability to recognize the locations of positive energies within the earth. After asking specifically worded yes or no questions, she receives an answer that is magnified in the reaction of the dowsing rods.

"There's no magic in this stuff," said Ferree of her spiritual interpretations. "The rods simply act as a hearing aid or a pair of glasses. They move by themselves, but they amplify what is in me." Ferree said that anyone has the potential to dowse, but that most people are hesitant. "We have so much that we cannot do because we set limitations on ourselves," she said.

Jaan Ferree
Ferree begins her search for a labyrinth.

Although dowsing can be used to search for oil, water, or energy, Ferree uses her talent to find sites of labyrinths, which she described as energetically predetermined paths conducive to spiritual growth.

Labyrinths are often mistakenly considered to be mazes. But whereas mazes are an area of weaving paths usually surrounded by hedges, a labyrinth is composed of one continuous path leading from an entrance to the center. Most importantly, a labyrinth is not a form of entertainment, but rather a form of prayer.

"A labyrinth is to be one with, rather than to go through," said Ferree. "It is beautiful in its simplicity."

Ferree cited the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, the Native American Serpent labyrinths in Ohio, and the Classic Greek Key Labyrinth to show that the practice of finding and creating labyrinths is ancient and universal.

Ferree, Harris, and a half-dozen other interested horticulturists spent three hours discussing labyrinths and scouring Davidson for earth energies. Ferree first dowsed in the yard between Commons and Belk, but said it was void of the necessary energy. Then she dowsed in the grassy circle between Chambers and the E.H. Little Library, and found the path of enlightenment. She said the area has the energy of a seven-circuit labyrinth, a path with approximately seven turns on the way to the center.

The group will create a labyrinth there, possibly outlined by Christmas lights, for the Horticultural Symposium. Registrants will be encouraged to walk the path to reflect and pray. Guests may also leave behind a small object to symbolize their participation.

The symposium will feature speakers Jenks Farmer, Peter Loewer, Bob Lyons, Elizabeth Murray, and Elsie Dinsmore Popkin. The event is limited to 375 participants, and the deadline for registration is February 23. For more information, call 704/892-3665 or 892-0583.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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