Reflection on the Fellowship of Preparation-Makers Conference
March 3-5, 2017
By Uli Hack
When you plan a conference, you hope that that attendance will be great enough to cover the fixed cost of the event. At first the sign up looked slow, but in the end, we had to say no more, as we were at the capacity of the hall.
I was very pleased, as just about everybody signed up for the extra Friday workshop, that included all Preparations, while Saturday and Sunday were an intensive on the Horn manure 500. Hugh Courtney and Lloyd Nelson gave an overview of all Preparations. Even for me as a longtime Preparation maker, I could get some pointers to do a better job. For instance, the stinging nettle could stay longer in the ground, to fully experience the following summer; and the horn silica 501 could also stay until end of November, rather than my traditional unearthing at Preparation day near Michaelmas. The Yarrow 502 should be in the bladder for a full year, which some Preparation makers achieve by drying the flowers from the previous year. It still leaves some questions on how I achieve these improvements, but the educational part of the Preparation days was also important to me.
Another interesting part was that horn silica 501 could be sprayed immediately after applying the horn manure 500. Jeff Poppen showed me where in the agricultural lectures it says “Immediately after”. For some it had been practice to spray the horn manure 500 in the evening and the next morning spray the horn silica 501. The horn silica 501 can be coupled with the equisetum tea 508. The Horn manure is sometimes coupled with the barrelcompost, or with the compost Preparations via the Prepared 500. (Demeter International does not currently like that idea, even though this was very successful in Australia.)
In the afternoon, we did a hands-on stirring of seven pails without knowing what is in which pail, and we were asked to sense which Preparation was in which pail. The list of Preparations used was on the blackboard and it was: just water; barrel compost; horn manure 500; horn silica 501; valerian 507; equisetum 508; and Hugo Erbe Preparation #9. As I would classify myself not as overly sensible to figure this out by the forces within each pail, I was stumped by the first pail that I stirred, as I could not put down anything definitive, except that I have no feelings that would give any indication what it might be. On the next few pails it got easier, and they gave me the sensations that helped me guess what it might be. After stirring a few of the other pails, I got fairly sure that my first pail was the water. In the end, I was pretty pleased with my results, as I guessed most of them right, I just had switched around the Equisetum 508 and the Hugo Erbe Preparation # 9. I have to say that this was an extremely interesting exercise for me, and in hindsight I wish I would have brought the warm water in a barrel, so that the water-temperature would be the same in all pails, so that this would not throw off the sensations by feeling different water temperatures. As we all stirred with our bare arms, stirring towards the heart (counterclockwise with our right arm, and clockwise with the left), I felt that the most sensible spot on my arm was the inside of the wrist. Hugh Courtney said that whoever stirred in that exercise is now connected to the Preparations. Unfortunately, not all could stir within that short timeframe.
In the evening, Jonah Evans talked about the Christ in Agriculture, a subject that is close to my heart and deeply connected with my sense of the biodynamic work. As our world is ageing and slowly dying (that is why we need the preparations to help the cosmic influences manifest on earth), we work on creating a new earth in which the second coming of Christ will manifest. In the Bible, this is called the new Jerusalem. One virtue that was emphasized was that we need to cultivate is the virtue of gratitude. In my opinion, everything we eat is either a plant or animal life given up in order to nourish us. The only exception is milk, which can be considered pure love. So, gratitude really makes sense.
The next day we had Chris Boettcher and Jeff Poppen talk about their experiences with horn manure. Chris brought out how all the biodynamic preparations work as a whole together with the agronomic practices, and so it is harder to single out the effects of the horn manure. His soil-life and soil structure are amazing, and he is at par regarding yields with his conventional neighbors. Jeff Poppen brought out how we grow all the vegetables out of thin air (it contains the N, C, O, H and S, which are the main elements of all carbohydrates) take to market and actually get paid money for it. He had amazed me with his way of spreading his wisdom. He gives a monthly talk, hosts the Southeast Biodynamic Conference, writes regular columns for the newspaper (some of which are published in two books), and also appears on a local tv show to share his way of farming. Wherever he goes, he takes some preparations with him, as he says, they are no good in my storage, they need to go to the people.
A sensory exercise followed, before we went to the farm for the evaluation of the twelve horn manure samples selected. Simultaneously, half of the group inspected the horn manure pit, to see the difference between horn manure in a new cow horn, and one in a horn has been used many times. It was quite noticeable that the transformation in the new horn is a bit slower than in the older horn. It was also nice for me to get confirmation from Hugh, that my old horns are still working, as the blood forces indicated by the reddish color were still strong. Back to the horn manure samples testing, it was a bit overwhelming at first, and so it was good to be instructed to rate them again after having evaluated all of them. We intentionally did not compile numerical results, but rather took time to let people speak about their impressions and the rating they gave. This was very interesting, as some worked with a pendulum. It was also interesting that quite a few people noticed that my twenty-five-year-old Preparation did not have the same energy as my current one, and even though my current one rated fairly good, there was also one person who could not feel any energy from it. This would not have shown up in a numerical compilation We did not want to rate one preparation against the other, and so this open discussion was really great.
The dinner was accompanied with the generous donation of wines from four wineries.
The evening was a social organized by Gabi Boettcher. First, she made us aware of the four different elementals in the piece from Beethoven she was going to play. When she played it, she just blew me away seeing her fingers dance on the keys. Eric followed with the trumpet, and I can only marvel at the talent in that family. Then a little Gnome visited the audience through the curtains of the kitchen. After that it was off to dancing Polonaise and playing musical chairs. It gave us a wonderful new way of connecting with each other through that childlike element.
On Sunday, we wrapped up the preparation evaluation and also had the plenum. But my big anticipation was the ceremonial part of the preparation sharing, that Wali is so talented in leading. We each went to hold preparation 500 in our hands and were instructed to give them all our wishes for the world, and prayers. Then we proceeded as a group in the spiral to the center of the room, where the ceremonial bowl was placed, and we all emptied our hands into it. Then the bowl was mixed, and each of us took out a handful again, containing all the prayers of all of us, to take home. Some of us like to mix it in with our own horn manure storage, so that every time we spray, those prayers go out with it. It was followed by learning and singing the Alleluia (Pachelbel). Wali “warned”, that some might experience some “powerful divinity,” and I think most of us did, with quite a few tears of joy and wonder.
This conference has given us so much information, but I think the even stronger aspect is the Inspiration it gave us, to help us carry out what we want to do. I was really inspired, and it seemed that most people felt the same. This reminds me of what I had heard before, that when we meet together in these larger groups with our US friends, then the next higher hierarchy of angels (the archangel) can inspire us.
Next year’s conference is tentatively planned to be held at Jeff Poppen’s Farm in Tennessee.
(Photos by Sarah Weber of the Biodynamic Association.)