Planting the horn

Burying the horn manure

We filled and buried the cow horn manure shortly after the late October (Samhuin) full moon and treated the compost heap with the range of biodynamic herbal preparations.

These interesting and important experiences allow one to take stock of the relationship between the farmer and farm. As we buried the biodynamic cow horn manure this year, the autumn air seemed to hold it’s breath for a moment; a dog barked somewhere in the distance and in an unexpected moment of peace in the hectic round, memories of trips during the year to herb growers and medical researchers in Romania and Serbia, flooded back.

Despite the superficial disparities between our societies, there is to be had a very profound sense of the unity between herbalists everywhere, through our friends in the plant world. In biodynamics, our attention becomes focussed on the interconnectivity between our activity and the planet’s response to that activity, such as yielding to us the foods and medicines that we grow and collect. By first studying how we can benefit them, we can perhaps better recognise the connections between the plants that we take and the benefits they yield to us.

Although not formally trained, the workers who carry out these relatively esoteric biodynamic tasks here do so enthusiastically and do not want for explanations about what it is that we are doing. This is in stark contrast to many visitors to the farm, often scientifically trained herbalists, who rarely fail to ask for some logical explanation about biodynamic methods. Some words quickly cobbled together suggesting that biodynamic work is about lifting the farm’s spirit to the quest ahead are entirely inadequate to impart the message – but we all nod wisely. Humankind has uniquely raised itself over millennia from primitive animism and from superstitious awe of the supernatural, to seek the divine. Although there seems to be no ‘explanation’ of biodynamics in terms of our modern technological science, it is interesting to note that the less ‘lettered’ my colleagues, the more it seems that what we do is just an obvious or natural response to the task in hand.

Few intelligent observers will fail to notice that modern scepticism towards such ideals have led more to a cynical materialism. This is spreading descent into a hopelessness that taints the way in which we treat our planetary home in reckless and divisive ways. Such things can be learnt from living with plants and are some of the factors driving the biodynamic way of re-creating farming’s “living connections”. In biodynamics, as in herbal medicine, we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground and our heads out of the clouds; then we should be able to let the spirit soar beyond.

Recently, I read somewhere that medicine heals the spirit through the body, whilst music heals the body through the spirit. Herbalists know that we are not just creating and using chemicals in the plant (that’s modern orthodox pharmaceutical science) but that the action of herbs is, in some mysterious way, also spirit-healing. Biodynamics also looks for elemental forces, such as natural shapes and rhythms because the holistic (or ‘neuroimmunoendocrine’) level at which many herbs work is perhaps a physico-chemical basis of the spirit. The art of herbal medicine has always been dependant on that understanding, which has arisen, quite independently, in a huge diversity of indigenous cultures across human history. It is in this sense that the biodynamic inspiration is to systemise the process of true healing through herbs.