Most BD practitioners generally see the compost preparations as being used as soil and growth regulators, with a vague sense they work on more subtle levels as well. Most recently their activity was publicly described as being due to their bacterial and enzyme content, which arose from a bacterial reaction between the internal substance and the sheath into which it was placed. Sadly there appears to be only a small conscious appreciation of them as substances which actively work with the spiritual as well as physical realms of the land and plants.
Some BD practitioners accept that healthy life is created through a balanced interplay of the various spiritual bodies however they have little understand how this is actually achieved. The basic assumption is that this is brought about by the spraying of preparations 500 and 501 as well as including the compost preparations in the manuring cycle. But even with this activity there are still situations , especially in the changeover phase, where imbalances are evident for some years.
The question arises 'Could these preparations be used in a more active manner to correct specific examples of imbalance?'
The answer is YES, however it is a rather complex process calling on the exponent to have a thorough experience of each preparation's activity, their influence on the spiritual bodies and the spiritual bodies' activity in the living organism, be it plant, animal or human. The more I work in this field the more I discover how rapidly plants come into situations in which various bodies are imbalanced. Imbalance is caused by soil quality, mineral imbalance, weather disturbance and general neglect. They all work simultaneously and at different times and combinations. Nature is a living moving organism. The BD preps offer us a chance to moderate these swings in balance which provide the difference between the success and failure of a crop.
The Horn Manure and Silica preparations can be seen as broad stroke preparations that powerfully and generally stimulate the two primary formative growth processes. Their activities are easily seen, and at times, work too broadly and on too many levels at once to be used as specific remedies. They act directly on enhancing one pole of the plant's activity or the other. This can inhibit their ability to be used frequently.
One of the basic premise of Biodynamics is that pests and disease are an imbalance in the workings of the spiritual bodies. Therefore to remove them one must remove the conditions which allow for the problem to be there in the first place. Hugh Lovel more recently has awakened me to the words that with the BD preps we are 'organising' otherwise unorganised energy. I have often imagined it as the four bodies being more or less integrated into each other. In harmony their integration is such that there are no 'holes' or 'vacuums' in them. As physical conditions deteriorate so the bodies being to separate. Vacuum holes open up and insects and disease are literally sucked into these holes. Once the holes are closed again the insects just go away. this coming and going phenomena I have experienced many times.
When using preparations as remedies, one attempts to apply sufficient influence to the environment that the conditions fostering the growth of the pest or disease no longer exist. While 500 & 501 do this, they also carry with them the power to unnecessarily activate only one area of plant growth, so symptoms of excessive use easily arise. In the case of 501 sunburn easily occurs as does the tendency for plants to take on the stature of the dry landscape or go off to seed. Leaves thicken and become waxy, and in some instances plants that normally have leaves in a downward facing nature stand upright.
500 in excess encourages leaf development and inhibits the flowering tendency of a plant.
These preparations tend to encourage whichever pole they govern and not to harmonise and balance the activity of the spiritual bodies. So their use, especially 501, should be made with discretion.
The 'compost' preparations act as a "second tier" of the same activity. From the model it is apparent that the 'outer planet' preparations are associated to the Silica prep, and the 'inner planet' preparations work with the Manure prep. The compost preps work more specifically than the 500 & 501 and appear softer in their action.
They appear to do the required job of bringing any specific activity back into the right relationship with the others, without affecting the essential nature of the plant,, so these preparations can be considered tools of dynamic husbandry. The decision to include 500 or 501 will depend on the severity of the problem.
Specialisation of these preparations can be achieved by their potentisation, however this is an area of extreme exactitude and should not be attempted by the novice. Imbalance easily occurs with prolonged and indiscriminate use of single potencies. see Garuda preparation products.
The compost preparations
One of the main limitations to the preparations being used as single preparations and as spiritual body balancers has been that there is no real work into establishing their independent functions. Also a science of spiritual activity has not been fostered within the Biodynamic movement over the last 70 years. Part of this is due to an inability for the Agriculture course to be understood in depth and discussed in a manner which allows for concrete conclusions to be drawn. This where I believe the Astrological model can solve these problems. By providing a frame of reference for Biodynamic ideas and methodologies it is possible to see how one piece of information fits in with other pieces so that some conclusions can be made. If nothing else as a basis for further practical experimentation.
While giving the making process of the preparations, RS also outlined the basic effects of each preparation. He also gave some of the chemical processes that occur in each. In two cases, he indicated the influence a preparation has on the spiritual bodies. However, he did not extend this to all of them. As this is an important aspect of the overall thrust of this work , I have made an initial attempt at extending the interpretation of each preparation to include their spiritual activity. A summary follows:
( It seems appropriate in this section to quote from Steiner directly. He was born with the Sun in the sign of Pisces with Mercury, the planet of communication conjunct Neptune, the planet of images. His method of communication, as you will see is very pictorial and imaginative.)
We have seen already how one level of activity can be associated to higher and lower levels. With the information we have accumulated already it is possible to produce the following diagram.
Level 4 to Level 5
This diagram shows the vertical movement up the Astrological spiral with the Biodynamic cross references added. It is apparent from these associations ( and the comments made by Dr Steiner and B Lievegoed ) that conclusions can be immediately drawn as to what the complete set of spiritual workings of the compost preparations might be. It is apparent that the outer planets preparations will most likely work on organising the Astrality and Spirit functions while the inner planet preparations would most likely organise the processes of the etheric and physical bodies activity. The middle preparations would tend to harmonise the interplay of the two overall spheres.
The Outer Planet Preparations
All that was said about this preparation was that it will stimulate the plant "to behave in the right way in relation to the phosphoric substance."
This is a seemingly vague comment, but seen in relation to comments regarding the other preparations, and seen in the context of the Astrological model several hints arise. Firstly being the Saturn preparation it has a relationship to the Fire/Ego pole. Phosphors as an element is active in the strengthening of the nervous system processes within living organisms, which is in turn a manifestation of the egos activity. In plants it is credited with creating strong root systems - the nerve sense pole. Valerian is a sedative and calmer of the nerve system. 507 has long been known as a warming preparation and is used for frost protection. 507 is also seen as a cover over the compost heap helping to contain the activity of the heap inside itself. In lecture 8 where RS talks of human nutrition we are presented with an image of the ego process (called Cosmic Forces) and how they act to cap or reflect back into the organism what has been rayed out to them from the Earthly Matter or terrestrial calcium, liberated from the digestive tract.
In "the Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine" by Hausemann & Wolff we are told phosphorus 'establishes "the connection of the ego to the substances of the body." "The astral body lives in opposites that can be best be seen in the concepts of sympathy and antipathy....hyper and hypopthyroidism etc. The ego has the task of standing in between them, but not succumbing to either" " In working from imbalanced states toward the development of those that are balanced the ego requires phosphorus"
All this information leads to the conclusion is that the Valerian preparation "Strengthens the Ego against too strong an Astral activity". It works with the element of Phosphorus.
This preparation was discussed in length bringing several interesting facts to light. Some of this discussion is alchemical in nature and scientific minds I have discussed it with find the transmutation of elements outlined here difficult to understand.
Dr Steiner says there is " a quantitative relationship between Limestone ( Calcium Carbonate) and Hydrogen, similar to that of oxygen and nitrogen". He goes on to say "that under the influence of Hydrogen, Limestone and potash are transformed into something like Nitrogen."
To gain some clarity on this statement we can remembering that at level four, we talked of the micro polarities that existed in the elements.
Fire - Ego - Hydrogen }
Air - Astral - Nitrogen ) }
Water - Etheric - Oxygen ) }
Earth - Physical - Carbon }
Here we see the same micro polarities occurring.
R.S. goes on to say "that the oxygen/nitrogen process occurs in the air, while the Hydrogen/Limestone (Carbon) process occurs in the organic process." He does not enlarge on this element "something like nitrogen" but goes on to discuss the transmutation of silicon in the plant into a substance not yet included in the chemical elements. Silicic acid is needed to attract the "cosmic influences" to the plant and this dandelion preparation "mediates between the silicic acid in the cosmos and that which is needed in a given district."
This preparation is " thoroughly saturated with cosmic influences. He suggests the plants will become "sentient to all that is at work in their environment", so they can attract to themselves what they need."
From the Astrological model this is the Jupiter (mutable) preparation and so is sitting in between the elements of Fire and Air. This suggests that some harmonisation of the ego and Astral bodies would be involved in its action.
This is a fascinating array of information I suggest from the two references he uses, Hydrogen-Carbon & Silicic acid mediation, we are left with the image of bringing heaven and earth to meet. More specifically, the elemental diagram outlined above would suggest this preparation will help the Ego (& Astral) to enter more strongly into the physical realm.
From the astrological model, 504s relationship to Mars places it in an intermediatary position between the elements of Air and Water, hence we can surmise that it works in some way between the Astrality and the etheric body, with an emphasis on the Astrality side of the equation.
The nettle preparation follows more conventional lines of thought. Chemically R.S. suggests this preparation incorporates sulphur, potassium, and calcium with a kind of iron radiation. Stinging nettle is known for its ability to concentrate elemental iron and is often used in early spring in soup as a tonic and blood purifier. Iron is the element of Mars in traditional association. Dried blood is extremely high in nitrogen content. In lecture three R.S. discusses the role of nitrogen as the carrier of the Astral and suggests it is "a very clever fellow". Again in the description of this preparation he uses the same images. Suggesting that this preparation allows " the Manure to become inwardly sensitive, we might say" "It will permeate the soil with reason and intelligence" that " will not suffer any undue decomposition's to take place, and no improper loss of nitrogen."
Later it is suggested that "The soil will individualise itself in a nice relationship to the particular plants in the environment"
From these descriptions we can conclude that the preparation harmonises and strengthens the working of Nitrogen and likewise the working of the astral in the environment, enabling the Astral to find its proper place. Through its activity of individualising the soil it is suggested that it encourages the harmonious workings of the Astral
These are the three outer planet preparations and, as can be seen, their activity is primarily focused on the balanced interplay of the Ego and Astral, in keeping with the overall activity of "501", the Silica preparation, and with the overall associations of the Astrological Model.
The Inner Planet Preparations
R.S. described this preparations' activity as "bringing sulphur into the right relationship to the other substances" and "correcting all that is due to the weakness of the Astral body"
Further he suggests it " reendows the manure to quicken the Earth (so) that the more cosmic substances of silicic acid and lead are caught and received."
Again we are given the picture of the astral body's interaction with the plant, but this time the preparation is aiding where the Astral body is weak and can not take a proper hold on the Etheric and Physical. Lievegoed makes the observation when talking of the invisible primary process of Venus, (it) " Opens the Etheric Formative Forces into a cup or chalice and nourishes what Mars thrusts into space."
Being in the inner planet polarity it would suggest that this preparation opens the Etheric to receive the Astral.
This preparation is described as "Helping bind the calcium substances to receive life to itself and transmit it to the environment."
The use of the word 'life' here is a reference to the Life body or the Etheric. So this preparation strengthens the Etheric body. Later R.S. suggests "It assimilates that which can chiefly help to exclude from the plant those harmful effects of fructification." Some light can be shone on the statement 'harmful affects of fructification' by looking elsewhere in the course,( lecture 6 ) to where R.S. was discussing the true nature of fungal attack. He suggested that fungus was caused by the processes of fruiting occurring at a much earlier stage of development than it otherwise should. From our model it can be seen that flowering and fruiting are activities of the Astral and Ego. So he is suggesting that this preparation will hold back the activity of the Astral and Ego if they occur to early by strengthening the Etheric body.
In summary this preparation
Strengthens the Etheric against the
Astral (& Ego)
R.S. was fairly straightforward with this preparation. He suggested " by bringing calcium into the soil it restores order when the ether body is working to strongly, that is when the astral cannot gain access to the organic entity. It dampens down the Etheric."
He describes the process as follows. " We use the bark of the Oak so that the shrinking is beautiful and regular and does not give rise to shocks in the organic life." More directly he suggested that this preparation "will lend forces prophylactically to combat or arrest any harmful plant diseases." Elsewhere RS commented that the bark of a tree should be seen as turned up Earth and that the stalks and leaves can be seen as small plants growing out of this earth.
In summary, it retards a rampant Etheric body by sucking it more tightly to the physical.
These inner planet preparations are concerned primarily with the activity of the Etheric and Physical bodies, helping them to find their proper place with regards the Astral and Ego, assisting the Horn Manure preparation 500 in its overall activity of harmonising the terrestrial sphere.
Putting the above information all together we have the following:
Practical experience has shown these preparations can bring balance between any irregularities in the working of the bodies ( see Case Studies)
I regard these preparations and the accompanying information as a real gift to humanity from Rudolf Steiner. They give the farmer and gardener access to a simple, safe tool kit that can heal and balance their environments. Using the view that all disease and pest attack, in plants and animal, are a result of an imbalance occurring in their physical/spiritual balance, we now have eight substances at our disposal that can consciously influence the way these bodies interplay and so a starting place for finding sensitive, purely BD remedies for pest and disease control.
These preparations are generally
inserted into a compost heap or liquid manure to balance the raw
Physical, Etheric, Astral and Ego forces released during these
Furthermore these preparations could be used individually and potentised homeopathically to further specialise their action, to harmonise imbalances as they occur during a growing period.
It is best for the novice to use the original preparation in addition to their sprays of 500 and 501 until experience is compounded. However a healthy sense of exploration and experimentation is certainly encouraged.