During the week I was asked this question and I gave a pretty quick response. Many years ago we named our property Earth & Soul.
Donna & I are like chalk & cheese.
Donna is the earthy, practical one.
I am the airy, song-writing, spiritual one with my head in the clouds.
So, naturally, when we came to building cabins, the theme continued.
The Earth Cabin is built on the granite rock and closer down to the gorge.
The site of the Soul Cabin is softer, with less rock, and is closer to the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
There is a view, down through the trees, looking to the gorge.
Then I started to think about it.
The name Earth & Soul is deeper than just that.
Earth & Soul is 300 acres of natural granite belt bushland.
Cannon Creek crosses through the property meeting the Broadwater at the bottom boundary.
Over the years we have enjoyed the natural beauty.
I think for me that at times it has kept me alive.
Over the years we have developed over 18 kilometres of natural walking trails.
As my working life progressed, I found myself looking for more and more spiritual meaning.
There has to be more to life than this.
The top paddock, up near the gate, was cleared way before our time.
Only about 20 acres of the property has ever been cleared.
The top paddock, as we called it, about 7 acres of open field, had never fulfilled any farmer's dream.
For many years I have researched and studied the Tree of Life.
A model of life and energy and the cosmos from the Jewish Kabbalah.
In my search for meaning I found a new project.
I think I may be the first person on the Granite Belt to start putting rocks back in a paddock.
The Tree of Life Spiritual Walk became a reality.
Over the years, the open cleared area, once known only as the Top Paddock, has taken on significant spiritual feeling & meaning.
It is now a peaceful place to meander through the paths and to sit and take in the wonders of the universe.
Nevertheless, my search for spiritual meaning persisted.
A visit to the Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby introduced me to the Chartres Labyrinth.
Eventually I announced to Donna that I might build a labyrinth.
I recall a story about Noah's Ark.
God called to Noah and said "Noah, build me an ark".
Noah replied, "What's an ark?"
I think Donna's reaction may have been similar.
My spiritual interests in Kabbalah and the Tree of Life extended to tales of the Knights Templar.
This band of knights defended the temple in Jerusalem.
They became the architects and builders of many Cathedrals.
The 11 circuit Rose Labyrinth was designed and laid in the tile floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Some consider that it was designed as a pilgrimage for the knights when they could no longer return to the Holy Land.
The walking meditation returns to the spiritual centre, from the outside world, and then returns again.
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth sits in an open glade in the natural environment.
The circular pattern is enclosed by a surrounding perimeter of granite rocks.
Within the spiritual sanctuary of nature, this is a sanctuary for spiritual meditation.
The Earth & Soul Labyrinth continues to blossom and develop.
We built the Gazebo and the firepit area nearby.
Everything seems to work in a functional, interconnected way.
Then we thought, what are we going to do when we retire?
300 acres of natural beauty, 12 kilometres from town!
We built our natural, environmentally designed, rammed earth home on the property in 2009.
Our home is the display home for our builder, Shawn & Sandra Palmer (4th Pig Pty Ltd).
Visitor's fall in love with the quiet beauty and strength of the rammed earth.
Add to this the environmental design, set amidst the natural granite belt features.
The best way to describe the peaceful quality of a well made rammed earth building is to invite someone inside.
Sit down and feel the natural silence and warmth.
My natural desire is to then take the visitor for a walk down through Cannon Creek Gorge and to Doro's Hole on the Broadwater.
Our retirement solution was waiting for us.
The challenge was to become a business solution.
My challenge was to develop the dream organically.
This is the natural progression of my spiritual searching.
Our dream for the visitor is to offer an escape.
A retreat from the real world.
The Soul Cabin will retain the same design as the Earth Cabin.
We have added some colour to the walls.
A red line to represent the earth and the natural landscape.
A white line to represent the clouds and the spiritual dimension.
In the polished concrete floor there will be a fleck of red jasper.
The landscaping will be different and will probably include a smaller labyrinth in a garden setting.
There will be a tree line barrier between the Soul Cabin and the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
Seclusion & privacy will be assured.
Things are moving along quite fast.
As our sign on the gate says when you're leaving "Back to the real World."
regards... Mark & Donna
We are quickly moving from a Stonehenge type set of disconnected structures to a rammed earth building.
To be continued...
Since launching the Earth Cabin in May this year, Donna & I have had an amazing experience.
We have learned and grown.
Now, the building of the second cabin, the Soul Cabin has started.
Our builders are Shawn & Sandra Palmer of 4th Pig Pty Ltd.
(the 1st pig made of straw, 2nd of sticks, 3rd of bricks, 4th pig... rammed earth, naturally!)
This first 3 weeks of October we have made unavailable so we can make some serious building sounds. It is very exciting!
The intention is that all of the rammed earth earth walls will be completed in this period.
Donna & I can then focus on landscaping.
The big difference with the Soul Cabin is the addition of some colour in the construction of the walls.
We are also introducing some different colour into the polished concrete floor,
I see the two colours as representing the Earth & Soul theme, red for the earth and the white for spirituality and the sky.
This is the first wall of the Soul Cabin which we completed last Saturday, 9th October 2021.
So far, we have completed two wall sections and two columns.
There is a lot that will be happening this week and next week.
After that, Shawn & Sandra have building commitments elsewhere.
Construction will continue in the new year.
Hopefully we will be ready in time for the Apple & Grape Festival.
See you soon...
regards... Mark & Donna
Hi, I'm Mark Carter.