Stella Natura article 2008

Considera wants to assist in the research of 'planting by the stars'. Please limit your input to this discipline in this forum.
Mark
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Stella Natura article 2008

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Sherry Wildfeuer commissioned an article for the 2008 Stella Natura calendar. There's a new one in the 2009 calendar but I'll wait until that is off the shelves before posting that article here.

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In last year’s calendar, Sherry was good enough to mention the web site that I created to collate experiences you have had from using Stella Natura. In the same issue I was gratified to see one the main impetuses for the creation of the site – the dearth of scientific scrutiny of biodynamics – echoed in Jennifer Reeve’s article.

The site is called ‘Considera’ which is a cobbled latin version of ‘with the stars’. The activity of giving consideration used to mean looking for favourable conditions as encrypted in the relations between ourselves, the stars and planets.

The anthroposophical understanding is that the art of considering has evolved from listening to the direct communication of the stars to one in which we must calculate and experiment and consider our findings using the modern meaning of that verb. This is good and proper in at least two ways; first because when disciplined such science offers a way which is free of dogma. Secondly, it is one route out of the current scientific dogma of materialism.

However, my experience is that this anthroposophical understanding can mummify into its own dogma because it is not kept sufficiently alive by continual engagement. We surrender the issue to the authority of Dr Steiner or Maria Thun. I suspect that the sales of the agricultural calendars reflect new years resolutions to get organised, or a general good will towards the thesis, but that the majority end up with other Christmas presents as a coffee-table diversion.

Please don’t feel this is finger pointing. I say it is my experience because I have done the same: a second impulse for the Considera project is to try and receive a leg-up out of this trough for myself. I realised that I am not sufficiently focussed or of the calibre of Maria Thun, and I am unable to devote time to emulate her work. But perhaps there are more of us out there with similar thoughts who might each do one small experiment a year well enough to put our contributions together into something of genuine value.

Having created a site to collate and analyse the results of planting, it became clear that we had broken the back of investigating a second biodynamic practice which might benefit from communal attention – peppering. If you go to the site you will see a section dedicated to the method and results of peppering to moderate the unbridled assault of pests and weeds.

These two aspects precede the implementation of the original impulse to create Considera – the preparations. Like so many of those to whom I have talked, these enigmas grab our early attention to biodynamics. Like Getafix’s magic potions so much promise lies therein – promise of superior crops and hints of what lies beyond the interface between base materials and the processes of growth.

When I heard that Glen Atkinson’s innovations had been independently tested and that the effect of his preparations did not radiate, the path to scientific analysis seemed to open up. But only when I heard of a classical Hahnemannian homoeopath (Vaikunthanath Das Kaviraj) who had spent years working on plants did his fledgling material medica and repertory strike me as a promising form for this section of Considera. Here, I consider, we have a tool for evaluating what really happens to the agricultural individuality when biodynamic preparations are used.
And, as Goethe promised (or warned!) much assistance jumped into the slipstream of this initiative. For a first instance, having set up a page for people to submit and search through pertinent submissions it also proved useful to organise what various authorities have published about their experiences of the preparations. Now if you look at the ‘507’ page you can find the page primed with what half a dozen authors have found occurs on their fields when using valerian petal juice. And if you have any experiences to add you will be part of the collaboration. A second piece of good fortune was finding the research of a dozen innovators who have worked independently and on their own potentised formulations – a combined experience of over 200 years!

Many of you may feel some disquiet about this analytic tool – me too! It can never be a good farmer. By this I man to suggest that it can only approximate a ‘totality’ as oppose to a ‘whole’ – see Henri Bortoft for a satisfying key to this statement. In other words it is only analytical and cannot reason let alone have heart or limbs. It is just a tool – but one I hope you will find it genuinely useful. It is something like the tool I would like to have had decades ago when I first met biodynamics. If you feel anything similar and wish to contribute to it you will be welcome at any computer terminal because it is only in this manner that its usefulness will grow for future biodynamic growers.

Whilst aware of its limitations let me also say that it has contributed to my appreciation of biodynamics as a living whole. So much has come out the murk as a result of it, including those who realise that biodynamics is getting old. 83 years ago an amazing man unveiled clues to his contemporaries about a sane and satisfying agriculture. A lot of nourishment can still be had each time we chew on the foundations for a agriculture. But we have circled the Sun 83 times and the Moon has circled us 1000 times since Koberwitz. The whole zodiac has moved on a notch. In those 30 - 40,000 days we have had the second world war, 3 mile Island, Love canal, Chernobyl and Bhopal, ulcerations of the ozone layer, peppering of depleted uranium, and continuous intended and incidental pollution on a massive scale. To keep up with the stars, we farmers of the land and the ethers need to consider what the course would be now. How would the presence of a massive beneficial energy in the ethers and the confusion of pollution be constructed on the foundation we were given? I have some ideas and I only hope that they might meet with yours should you engage with Considera. Perhaps it has a small role in the next stage of our evolving conversations with the heavens.

Mark
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OK here's the 2009 one

Post by Mark »

"There are no plant diseases in the same sense as that in which we speak of animal diseases. If a plant is diseased it means that the normal contact between the plant and the universe has been disturbed."
Lilly Kolisko in Agriculture of Tomorrow

My plan was to share the best new planting experiences which had been submitted to the Considera project. However, although the potatoes upon which I reported last year were planted again to look for enduring effects, they were ploughed over by an unwitting colleague even before the wireworm and endless summer rains ruined the crop. So, to Considera’s knowledge, there was just one trial which came all the way through the tricky UK season of 2007– thanks Michel. What emerged from this series of radish plantings was not a crystal clear confirmation of the calendar’s suggestions but a few lessons about how demanding it is to run an experiment. Time to give up? No – but time to reflect on what is compatible with star planting – plan B.

What is it within each grower that must assert itself so an experiment can run despite the difficulties or so that disappointments don’t derail the process? The founder of biodynamics, Dr Rudolf Steiner, called this the ‘I’ because when such obstacles emerge one’s I is all that can turn things around. The self is also that part which can learn from such trials and try again. It is the I that endures and perseveres. The I plans and gathers determination to see it through.

Do plants also have an I ? The answer that Dr Steiner gave is wonderful if a little complex. He said plants do indeed have an I, but that this is shared with all other plants of that species. Each dandelion has the one ‘dandelion I’ in common. When a seed develops it communicates with this greater self. At this point lessons are learned from the growing season and identity is imbued into the new generation. Without this clear and strong contact the greater self does not learn and evolve, and the plants do not thrive.

If the I does not reside in each annual plant does it have a home? It does – in the zodiac. This word means the circle of Zoe. ‘Zoe’ is translated in English as ‘life’ but so is another Greek word, ‘Bios’. The Bios of biology is born, lives and dies. The Zoe of the zodiac is without death and is the mother of Bios. Lilly Kolisko’s quote could be rephrased: “If a plant is diseased it means that the healthy contact between Bios and Zoe has been disturbed.”

There are ways to assist the connection between the biology which we husband on our farms and gardens, and its life-giving home. Dr Steiner pointed out that the planets need to be favourably arranged with respect to their zodiacal origin – the province and meaning of Stella Natura. In addition the mix of warmth and moisture in the atmosphere will facilitate or hinder this communication. And the bridge needs to be anchored in the physical elements of the soil. One could picture this like a safe with several barrels in its locking mechanism, and we release the potential of a crop in proportion to the alignment we achieve. This is our goal.

What then are the hindrances to communication between star and field? One can be very literal and consider the impediments which occupy the intervening space – the pollution in the skies, the disturbances we have wrought in the weather and the static of our communications technology. But there are also the local impediments - the undigested wastes in the soils, the deathly load in our irrigation water, the loss of the receptive humus - and those which we send upwards such as the arrogantly forged mutant messages we force our seeds to carry to Zoe.

In this modern struggle we also have incredible tools to help us make a direct connection. Rudolf Steiner gave us a palette of preparations with which to begin to craft bridges between Zoe and Bios. As we work with them and become increasingly familiar with their roles and potential we can work as artists with our crops. Researchers and growers have a role to play here too – to study, to play and to share our results. Perhaps I can be forgiven for reminding you that we can do this too on the Considera site.

But we growers are also microcosmic analogues of the universe. We can act consciously in this realm if we are aware of what part within us corresponds to the macrocosmic aspect we wish to involve. We have mentioned the zodiac to which our I or spirit corresponds. Our soul with its weaving disappointments and joys corresponds to the planetary dance which is called the ‘astral’ after these ‘wandering stars’. Our vitality and thoughts live in the atmosphere which is also called the etheric.

If we are masters of our inner storms and phases, and if we become fully human as reflected in the whole zodiac (not just one or two constellations) then we can work directly with the plants’ I : a developed I can recognise and guide another willing I. We have brought a piece of the planets and the zodiac to earth in the fullness of our potential and with this we can forge teams with plants – consciously. This requires voluntary inner work which might be considered unworthy of our time compared to the paperwork which insists upon attention. Implicit in this are the inner hindrances we face – lack of clarity, laziness, disorganisation, hopelessness, and unsustained enthusiasm. But I would like to suggest that we are able to respond to the needs of Natura by being a part of this bridge between Zoe and Bios, each engaging according to our talents.

A last ingredient is important in any meeting between one I and another, and this has to do with respect. Such respect is manifest in attitude and in manners. A meeting really works only with lively interest in the other and with a sincere desire to understand. Sympathetic listening mixes with heartfelt expression of ones inner self.

Stella Natura is to be studied. The plants need to be planted and the field tended. These are the contributions of head and hand. The vital contribution of the heart is a loving interest in the children of Zoe.

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