Being married to a farmer means that dirt tracked into the house is a way of life. Luckily, I like dirt. And I like living a life that keeps me close to the soil. Rudolf Steiner described the soul-like qualities of soil, and he spoke of soil as having an “inner life”—qualities we would normally attribute to sentient beings. Biodynamic farmer, researcher, and founder of the most popular biodynamic planting calendar, Maria Thun, described how soil has a rhythmic respiration process that takes place during the year. Imagine that in the wintertime, the earth has taken an in breath, and is almost holding its breath, deeply. With summer comes a giant exhalation. In biodynamic gardening, the horn manure preparation is sprayed in the evening when the soil is breathing in, and the horn silica preparation is sprayed in the early morning when the soil is breathing out.
If you’ve ever held in your hand a clump of finished compost or healthy, damp soil in your hand, it is easy to experience the aliveness of soil. A moist, humus-based soil smells ancient, finished, well structured, and to me, like home. The earthy aroma causes something deep inside me to feel settled and secure.
I invite you to see soil as a magical substance that is scientifically and spiritual complex.
Soil does so much more than prop up plants, it acts as a regulator of water, light, and warmth, it’s a storage place for plant nutrients, and in prairie grasslands and through intense balanced rotational animal grazing, soil acts as a valuable carbon sink. Ms. Thun describes the factors that when worked on by human beings, allow soil worked on by farmers and gardeners to take up cosmic forces from the farthest reaches of our solar system and beyond: clay (from rock), life (from the plant), and feeling (from the animal). Soil as a conductor of cosmic life forces might be a new and even outrageous thought for some, but it’s one biodynamic farmers have been integrating into their agricultural methods since the early 1920s, and this is the primary purpose of a biodynamic planting calendar. Rudolf Steiner talked about how when cosmic life forces properly integrate their way into soils through optimum biodynamic cultivation, the food grown for people and domesticated animals is changed. It becomes more than “mere stomach fillers,” but rather, when consumers, the food grown in enlivened soils helps us connect with thoughts that are coming from our highest and best self. Whether you agree or not, consider it!
Ms. Thun describes the factors that when worked on by human beings, allow soil worked on by farmers and gardeners to take up cosmic forces from the farthest reaches of our solar system.
I invite you to see soil as a magical substance that is scientifically and spiritual complex. While we are being busy human beings deciding who we shall vote for in 2016, what time we need to get the kinds to their next activity, how we will manage an illness, pay the bills, cope with climate change, and all of the other common stressors of Western life, let’s not forget the humble foundation of our existence. Next time you have the chance, take a big sniff of good healthy soil, I guarantee you it helps put things in perspective.
–“Editor’s Note” reprinted from the Summer 2015 issue of LILIPOH.