Spring Meeting – 2006

Spring Preps in Oregon – 2006 Meeting

 

start_ceremonyWali: Focusing Our Intentions

You are part of the creative process here, the inspiration for this as we were looking for ways to celebrate, to atune, to deepen our commitment and understanding, to set the tone for our digging of the preparations.

We are living in a time of some peril for our planet. Probably just about everybody here works with the earth in one fashion or another. That’s a special privilege — a privilege that many no longer get to participate in. We have seen the disconnect that happens between the people on the earth and the earth. We are blessed as people who touch the earth and know the earth and are consciously developing our attunement to nature and to our work. Coming with that blessing is a responsibility. We have some wisdom, some experience (just a little bit) but that little bit – it’s important that we find ways to share it out with our neighbors and our friends, with strangers. Particularly, it’s important for us to dedicate ourselves to the healing of the earth. That’s what this ceremony is about.

Last fall was stage one of a three-part ceremony. For stage one, people brought soil from their own gardens and farms to symbolically represent the earth that they work and love or appreciate. We held our soil in prayer with intention for healing for the planet. Then one by one we each put our soil into a ceramic crock. We buried in the ground all of our soil and all of our prayers together. Now it’s time to unearth it, in the spring of the year, just as with all the other preparations. Now this isn’t a preparation. This is a harmonization of our energies and our intentions but it can be profound if we want it to be. What we’ll be doing today is unearthing it. Then one by one, in a circle, we will go forward, pick out just a little bit of soil. We will hold it in our hands and it will be the focus of all our prayers and intentions. And we are going to take it to wherever we want on the planet and there you can spread it out. You can make you own little ceremony with it . That’s the third part of this ceremony.

Sharing back the co-mingled soil.

Sharing back the co-mingled soil.

As you go and get your soil, if you want to say something – say something. If you want to sing something – sing something. I you want to do it in absolute silent, which can be very beautiful and incredible powerful, do that. If not a word is spoken, that’s perfect too. If you feel moved – do it. The other thing that can go along with this, after we get the soil, each of us stand together with our soil and let’s each person to make a commitment to themselves to some little act that you can do this year that’s helpful – helpful to the planet. You don’t have to save the rainforest in Brazil all by yourself; it might as simple as blessing your doorstep plants. It might be something you’ve wanting to do for years but just haven’t mustered the gumption. This is the opportunity to make a little pledge to yourself to go do it and we will know that we’ve each gone out and done something and the world’s a little better for it.

Beth: Horn Manure

This is the preparation made from cow manure, from the cows right here on this farm. I remember my very first biodynamic meeting, there was a much older woman, about 70 years old, teaching me. She made sure that I got down and started stuffing horns with my hands right away. They were all watching me, a city girl, to see if I would faint. This is a special preparation, the cow manure by itself is — there are real reasons why the cow has been a sacred animal the world over. That cow, any cow, is able to take in energies like a digestive organ for the whole earth. Steiner speaks about the nature spirits — he says they rejoice when the cow manure falls down upon the earth. Those spirits that live within the earth, he says you can sense the joy in the landscape when the cows are fertilizing it. That cow has the capacity to take cosmic forces into itself, into its digestion and then just work them over within its own being so that the manure is thoroughly impregnated with the forces of the animal, with the forces of the cosmos.

Counting the horns to make sure we found them all!

Counting the horns to make sure we found them all!

Then, when we put it into the horns. Every living being has integrity to it and it circulates life forces within itself. Rudolf Steiner says that the horns of the cow are places on the cow where it’s own forces start to exit and to go out into the world. This does happen with the deer – those bony antlers on the deer that go deep within the inside of the deer — the deer actually sends its own forces out into the environment to sense what is going on out there. The cow does not do that. It doesn’t have bone; instead it has its own fingernail-like covering. And what the horn does is it turns those forces back into itself. It doesn’t send the forces out. So you get this wonderful manure – everything that goes through the cow is just permeated with all these wonderful fertility forces. And then we put the manure into the horn that still has this capacity to reflect forces back into itself. The manure, it just smells and its watery and its going places, but the cow horn brings it back into itself and binds it into itself. So then we take that cow horn and then we put it down into the earth, into the humus layer, (it’s important that it be in the living layer of the earth and not down lower). There the horn takes into itself the working over of cosmic forces, which the earth itself is doing. The earth absorbs very important forces during the course of the spring and fall.

So this preparation is what we are going to use. When it’s used, it will be stirred, the water will be potentized for an hour without stopping and so it will be released and spread all over the earth.

Randall: 503 Chamomile Preparation

The chamomile preparation is prepared in the cow intestine. The forces in the solar system are those of Mercury related to calcium and sulfur — it has a relationship toward stabilization of nitrogen, which within the compost increases soil life in order to stimulate plant growth. Steiner indicates that chamomile assimilates calcium in such a way that treated manure has a more stable nitrogen content. It has the added value of kindling life of the earth so that the earth itself will have a wonderfully stimulating effect on the plant. Above all you will create more healthy plants – really more healthy plants – in this way.

We bury the prep in a clay pot so it's easier to find. This year, ants set up a nest in the prep. First time that's happened! But we think the prep is lower quality as a result.

We bury the prep in a clay pot so it’s easier to find. This year, ants set up a nest in the prep. First time that’s happened! But we think the prep is lower quality as a result.

Dave adds: We can think of the compost preps as bringing “force centers’ to the compost pile that are analogous to the organ centers in animals. And so this prep is analogous to the organs of digestion. It is prepared in the animal’s digestive organ using an herb that we know is beneficial for digestion. We might think of digestion as providing energy but actually it’s the opposite – digestion takes energy. During digestion, we have to take the substance that came from a previous life form and strip off the individuality so that we can infuse it with our own individuality. When that process is not effective, you get foreign proteins entering the body and that is the cause of allergies. So digestion has to completely destroy the previous individuality and, at the same time, hold onto the living forces that would otherwise escape, molding them to make the new individual. Digestion is hard work! We have internal organs to do this but the plant relies on organs that are external – in this case, the soil food web — to do this job. So adding this process to the compost brings it to the soil and provides this valuable support for the plant.

We bury the prep in a clay pot so it’s easier to find. This year, ants set up a nest in the prep. First time that’s happened! But we think the prep is lower quality as a result.

Renata: 506 Dandelion Preparation

Rudolf Steiner said that just having the dandelion grow on your land is very beneficial. He called it “the messenger sent from heaven”. The dandelion is really a sense organ that perceives and draws down to earth the silica in the cosmos, in the atmosphere surrounding the earth; it senses and mediates between those two.

And if we look at the plant itself, we really can see that it is a sense organ, always listening to the earth, and always receiving from the cosmos. It has a very deep, straight root, called a cosmic root. And the leaves begin just under the surface of the earth. It’s a biannual so in the sun of the first year, the blossoms of the second year are being formed just under the surface in the earth itself. In the second year, during the spring and summer, these blossoms are being pushed up one after one another. The stem is hollow, a cosmic stem, for receiving cosmic impulses and sending them down into the earth. In the walls of the stem, as well as in the root, is this bitter, milky sap in which silicic acid is always suspended, always kept fluid. Unlike the horsetail plant, for example, the silicic acid never goes into the plant; the plant never goes into a real hardening process. Only the blossom that goes into seed formation, there you can see the hardening but the rest of the plant always is fully imbued with these life forces.

When the leaves come out for the first time, in the first year, they lay rather close to the earth, forming a rosette, almost like an ear down into the earth, yet creating a vessel. When the stem brings up the flower head, it grows up quite straight for the first time. There is a purity about it, a virginity. And that is when we want to pick it. It is a Compositate so the little flowers in the middle stand very close to one another in a tight cluster that is called the “bull’s eye”. This shows us that it is a first day opening. Then in the evening it closes up again, and the second day, it opens fully, each little flower stands by itself open to the cosmos and I think that is when fertilization happens. (Bockemuhl says that dandelion is not fertilized by pollen or by insects, but that the species-forming process happens by purely vegetative forces.)

This plant stands between heaven and earth and it has a correlation – this is our “eye” between the cosmos and the needs of the earth. In the leaves, we see this perfect balance between expansion and contraction – this relates to our ego forces. As a Compositae, the individual flowers are really formed out of where the petals are fused and that is the highest form of plant development, the highest stage of plants reach. That’s again a call to us to overcome the lower, animal forces and develop the ego forces that are truly human. And of course, all these individual flower blossoms working together in one flower is a good picture for our human social awareness.

After unearthing, the prep is cleaned to separate from the surrounding dirt.

After unearthing, the prep is cleaned to separate from the surrounding dirt.

I want to say something about the stems again. As the stem grows up with its blossom, it grows up toward the cosmos but when it blossoms for the second time, it lays down in a cow-like gesture. Something is happening inside the flower head; it goes to seed. The little sepals that were fused are sloughed off – it takes 10-12 days. When the seeds are ready, the stem will right itself and meet the cosmos again. When you see the seed bowl, it’s actually a real bowl receiving the cosmic influences. Then the seeds start spreading and form little satellite dishes. There’s an inversion happening with the seed floor and then this seed ball looks like a starry cosmos. So the dandelion has a strong relationship with earth air, light, warmth. While it rains, it’s as if something was waiting and when the sun comes out again – whist – there’s this accelerated growth happening.
So we pick the flowers in the spring, in the morning, after they have opened with this “bull’s eye” and then we wrap it in the mesentery. The mesentery also is the sense organ for the digestive system in the cow. So we put these two organs together, one from the plant world, one from the animal. In the agriculture course, there is an indication that it would first be hung in the tree for the summer, but we bury it in the ground after summer. Even if you hang it during summer, you bury it in the earth during fall so it can be permeated with the earth forces that have been enlivened and informed from the cosmos. From what it has drawn from the earth, it informs our preparations so that we can participate in the tasks of the cosmos.

Heike: 502 Yarrow preparation.

Klett says that this is about sulfur and potassium, sulfur is important for the making of protein. Of course, we know that this prep is connected with the kidney and bladder system because we stuff a deer bladder. But the deer is also connected with the cosmic through the horns. Unlike the cow horns that reflect back into the cow, the deer horns come out of the skeleton and are an antenna into the cosmic. And the sulfur principle in the prep is the one that is reaching into the cosmos and bringing the cosmos into the earthly realm.
Steiner talks about the four elements that are necessary for protein building, C, O, N, H. But sulfur is necessary in order to bring about the protein building. He says the yarrow is the plant that actually combines all these things. He says sulfur is the mediator of the spiritual with the earthly realm. “You take common yarrow (or milfoil) a plant, which it is generally quite easy to obtain. In any place where it does not grow, the dried plant can be used. This yarrow is a wonderful work of creation. (The same is true of every plant, but if we compare yarrow with any other flower, we realize how particularly wonderful it is). It contains that substance with which, as I told you, the spirit moistens its fingers when it wishes to send carbon, nitrogen and other substances to their places in the organism where these are needed. Yarrow is like the ideal model which some creator of plants must have had before him when he had the task of bringing sulfur into its true relationship with other vegetable substances. One may say, the spirits of Nature have never brought the distribution of sulfur to such perfection as in yarrow (milfoil).”

So it is the plant that stands and connects with the cosmic but it also has its feet in the earthly because the potassium is the polarity to sulfur. Klett says potassium is really a very earthly element; you could call it a representative of the earthly realm altogether. It is, as all physical substances, subject to physical, calculable laws that we can study in physics and chemistry. If dissolve potassium salt in water, it will completely dissipate as a salt. The property of the water will have changed according to the quantity of the salt. If the water is warmed and evaporated, the salt is again formed, exactly the same way, quantity and crystal structure. The laws of the physical realm are finite and can be calculated. From this, we say that the physical realm is dead. It is highly disconnected from the spiritual origin.

Potassium stand out for another property. It is very slightly radioactive as it appears in the earth’s crust. It underlies the decay. What does that signify? Potassium is a physical substance at the border to the sub-natural world, the sub-sensory world. The nature of potassium as representative of the salt forming elements can be understood as a link to the sub-nature. In contrast to the salt, sulfur, the substance that the spirit moistens its fingers with, is a link to the super-sensory, super-natural world. So we find the yarrow in the interaction of a very extreme polarity. The interaction of sulfur and potassium forces as they occur in yarrow seems to be the fundamental basis for an ideal formation of protein.

I want to add that the kidney/bladder system is connected with nitrogen and also with the astral world. Astral forces reside in proteineous matter; yarrow rules the astral world under the auspices of Venus. It’s a Venus plant (also called Venus eyebrows) the umbrel (it’s actually a Composite) looks like an eyebrow. So it’s an important substance to put into the compost for the right formation of protein.

Dave: 505 Oak Bark Preparation

We’ve talked about how the different compost preparations are analogous to organs in the animal. Different centers of forces in the animal are reproduced in the compost pile so that we have the same kinds of forces developing in the compost. Some of that is obvious. You can say “Oh yeah, an animal has organs of digestion”, so we have a prep that’s associated with intestines and digestion. That’s obvious. But some of them are not obvious to me at all. Steiner talked about the head as being a part of the body where things are concentrated and brought together. I would not have thought of that as being one of the functions that an animal has. But it’s true – that is what has to happen. For a living being to work, it’s got to be able to concentrate, to bring stuff together. The head is doing that. In a way, it’s bringing in the most subtle and refined things because it’s bringing in sensory perceptions. There are other implications too – what’s inside the head becomes the least able to expand or grow. The brain, unlike the rest of the body, doesn’t regenerate if it gets seriously damaged.

Oregon white oak in winter. The form is spherical and the branches constrained, as if growth has to push against an invisible restraining boundary.

Oregon white oak in winter. The form is spherical and the branches constrained, as if growth has to push against an invisible restraining boundary.

Inside the head of the animal, we put oak bark. Oak bark is rich in calcium. If you look at the shape of trees, you see that a maple tree, for example, is trying to grow straight up. But an oak tree is gnarly and scrunched, it’s like there’s an invisible barrier that it bumps up against. The calcium creates that kind of sucking in, drawing in. That whole form is taking place in the oak tree. We’re in an oak grove now – take a look.

This particular preparation is bringing in calcium and calcium is pulling things together. For the growing plant that’s important, because if the growing forces are too attenuated, the plant gets weak and puny and succumbs to disease. But keeping those forces concentrated means that the plant will grow up healthy and strong. That’s how Steiner describes this preparation – as a way to prevent disease building up.

Inside the head of the animal, we put oak bark. Oak bark is rich in calcium. If you look at the shape of trees, you see that a maple tree, for example, is trying to grow straight up. But an oak tree is gnarly and scrunched, it’s like there’s an invisible barrier that it bumps up against. The calcium creates that kind of sucking in, drawing in. That whole form is taking place in the oak tree. We’re in an oak grove now – take a look.
This particular preparation is bringing in calcium and calcium is pulling things together. For the growing plant that’s important, because if the growing forces are too attenuated, the plant gets weak and puny and succumbs to disease. But keeping those forces concentrated means that the plant will grow up healthy and strong. That’s how Steiner describes this preparation – as a way to prevent disease building up.