Now when I first heard of some of the rituals and practices involved in this sort of activity, I thought my friends had gotten just a bit too far out, that is, until I began to understand what they were actually doing. This might be a stretch for some, but bear with me and I will try to encapsulate the odyssey for you. Having been a practicing shaman for most of my life, I know that ritual tools to have great power when they are imbued with spirit. What we believe often has the power to transform the world around us, for better and in certain cases for worse. Transformation requires the combined effects of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms all working in harmony. Perhaps the best short description I can give for Bio-dynamic agriculture is that it is like integrating shamanism into the way we care for the land and the creatures who are trying to make a living in the soil. The work we are able to perform as healers often depends on transforming objects, ideas and the feelings of our “patients” as well as the body. By our own words, actions and specific rituals that are rich with both meaning and content, we can access an occult (hidden) realm that is often neglected or ignored. I came to see this especially clearly when I attended a Catholic funeral about seven years ago. The ritual tools were all there. The candles, the incense, the water, wine, symbols of the four (six) directions, were all there, everything I am familiar with in my own practice. All the pagan rites were still being observed, just not with any mention of The Lady. The Lord was overrepresented and mother Earth, source of our earthly existence was summarily ignored. What I had formerly understood to be a complex series of rituals born to serve a patriarchal hierarchy became much more clear to me in a moment. It was the modern reflection of outright theft of traditional Pagan ceremony in the name of “Our father”. Realizing this made me far more comfortable claiming my own birthright as healer, guide and shaman. To undermine, ignore or belittle the power that I was born with only serves to hamper the development of the lives of others. You see, healers are primarily motivated by the desire to heal but what is interesting is that the more they succeed in healing others, the more their own healing is accomplished. In the same way, the bio-dynamic agriculturalist heals the soils, the land and the critters that depend on The Awesome power of a Fully Functioning Mothership and they, in turn, give back in ways that are often virtually unimaginable.
The machinations of a thousand years of monks have led to the gospels being translated into every language, the gold has been amassed, the temples of old have been torn down and resurrected as churches in the modern era, now all that is left is for the spirits of the old ways to die out, right? Not in my lifetime. The first few times I heard about Bio-dynamic agriculture, not enough was told to me to make any decision or form any opinion. More recently, I heard things that made me deny, question and finally accept the truth of the new perspective and unusual ways that make up this unique form of ritualized agriculture.
As many of my posts describe, there are eternal and intrinsic energies in each and every item on the planet, indeed in the entire cosmos. Ours is to develop ways of feeling, understanding and integrating the energies to aid us in our quest for union with the one, God if you will, or the Om, whatever you like to call it. Calling it mystical gardening would be inaccurate and misleading, there is less about this form of agriculture that is mystical than what takes place daily on the average commercial and chemical ridden farm. Many strange things combine in bio-dynamic agriculture, but none are strange once you understand the thinking behind them. Chemically, there may be elements in the soil that are not available for use by desired plants, or in some cases, they are completely absent and difficult to procure. By adding energy to a mixture, even mixtures as complex as soil, it can build up potential that is required to change the chemical availability of nutrients and/or introduce missing components that hold the necessary “excitement” required to become bioactive.
Think about a puddle on the side of the road. Don’t focus on the contaminants that are in the water, just sense the energy that a puddle might have. Next, think of a rushing brook, then a giant lake. The puddle has a certain character, the great lake has a different energy and yet another energetic signature emanates from the brook. Scientists tell us that each is mostly H2O, but one would be a fool to think that what appears to be chemically static is only capable of being one thing. That would be like expecting identical twins to be exactly the same in every aspect of their lives. Their unique perspective and differing experiences obviously change both their strengths and weaknesses, opinions and proclivities. So too with water, nutrients, compounds and our relationship with Mother Earth.
Many of the herbal combinations and remedies that are used in Bio-dynamic agriculture come from intuition, a deep understanding of the power of the Earth to heal itself and belief in the restorative powers of even the lowliest plants. Some have been passed down through the ages but in my opinion, there is plenty to be said for developing one’s own ability to formulate the tinctures that are best for your particular acreage and specific needs that are unique to your land. The ritualized actions that practitioners engage in only seem odd when you deny the power of the hidden world to effect change in the one we “normally” inhabit. One of the first things you learn about is the power of the vortex. Many of the mixtures that are used require seemingly endless mixing, but not just random stirring up. First a vortex is established, either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the energetic changes that one is trying to affect. The laminar flow that develops in a cohesive mixture rotating around an axis holds great power. Just call to mind, if you have seen it, the many Muslims circling the Al-hajar Al-aswad. Seven times the pilgrims circle the big black stone ans their energy is magnified through the process. Imagine the rushing river and the difference in energy between a left hand bend and a right hand bend. Once each and every molecule is flowing in a relatively uniform and cohesive way, the stirring reverses and the vortex collapses upon itself, imbuing whatever nutrients are in the water with lots of energy, oxygenating the mixture and enlivening it. Sometimes this stirring process continues for minutes, other times much longer. The energy one puts in is determined by how much energy is required to get hings to “go”. Not only are the mixtures formulated for specific results but the energy, in turn, increases the activity of the compounds contained in the water and helps them react with the organisms in the soil, the cells of plants and the soil itself.
Just as people can benefit from herbs and tinctures, so too soil and the organisms that reside there can as well. I realize that this is an incredible departure from the way many look at the soil and raising plants generally, but for those who have seen the results, it is self evident. Many of the mixtures are brewed or formulated during specific times, to increase their energetic potential. More and more people are learning about the powerful influence that moon cycles have on our lives. It is reasonable to assume that the plant world has similar relations with Grandmother Moon. Keep in mind that there are thousands of plants that make their living around us. Just categorizing them by root structure alone can give us great insight into the energetic character of them. Think carrot, onion and potato. The dandelion, like the carrot goes deep, breaks the soil and has a sweetness that soothes the palette and breaks through congestion, stagnation and over-rich flavors in foods as well as over used or broken down soils. The onion has the power to poke upwards and concentrate the sun into a distillation of both sharp and penetrating flavors. The structure and function of the onion, as well as many other plants that have bulbous roots and pointy leaves is unique because of the kind of plant that they are and the qualities that make them unique among the other plants in the garden allow it to concentrate energies unlike any of the other plants. So too, the potato works it’s wonders in unique ways, absorbing energy and flavors transforming it’s food into starchy roots for the long haul, hiding it’s production beneath the soil and away from the light of day. It is adept at borrowing flavors and richness from other foods. Although these are just a few examples, they begin to give one an idea of the rich medicine chest that practitioners have to work with. To each malady there is a foil, to every lack there is a source of abundance. Just as the herbalist comes to realize, often the best food for healing the body is growing within a few steps of the patient. Learning the life cycle of the plants in your area will be a good first step to learning about what they are able to bring to your unique combinations, tinctures and mixtures. An excellent source book to help one understand soils, their needs and ways to formulate treatments for strong healthy soils is A Bio-dynamic Farm by Hugh Lovell published by Acres USA.