Like many other aspects in the biodynamic approach to agriculture, there is no one single pre-determined path towards deeper understanding of the essence of seed regeneration. In fact, the journey into this topic seems quite complex at first and individuals must choose what they need to take from the discussion. More importantly, it is wise to rely on one’s own understanding based on personal experience and observations. Our goal here is to briefly introduce several perspectives and raise awareness around basic principles and tools for developing self-knowledge on this subject.
During the early part of the 1900s, as the industrial era was becoming visibly dominant in Europe, Rudolf Steiner was in close communications with farmers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. These men observed how there was a distinct trend towards deteriorating viability and vitality of food crops. It was from this need to revitalize the land and the crops that Steiner delivered his eight lectures on agriculture. The lectures were meant as a basis to further research and understanding, not as a final piece of work.
Martin and George Wilhelm Schmidt
One of the early pioneers who picked up where Steiner left off was the German farmer and researcher, Martin Schmidt. He was affiliated with the Natural Science Section of the Goetheanum near Basel, Switzerland. Schmidt applied the usual organic practices as well as the biodynamic spray preparations, and he also meticulously took seeds out of each head of rye, one at a time, and recorded where on the head of rye each seed had come from. The next generation of rye was then examined to determine whether any differences had occurred from plant to plant. The best plants were then subjected to the same careful sorting and the experimentation process continued. Martin’s son, George Wilhelm Schmidt, joined in this work and gradually the patterns began to emerge.
Seeding Time Determines Cosmic Influences
One key aspect of the Schmidt research was the realization that planetary alignment at the moment of placing the seed in the ground played a crucial role in overall plant vitality. The first soil contact at seeding time determines the etheric influence. These men went on to conclude that when the Moon plus one or two planets were in the same part of the Zodiac at the time of planting, their combined energetic influence greatly added to a predictable outcome. Warmth forces brought nutritional quality; light forces brought disease resistance; earth forces brought yield increase and water forces helped germination rates.
By working in harmony with these natural rhythms, gained through many decades of observation, the Schmidt family have been able to develop among other things seed strains that are resistant to drought.
Enzo Nastati’s Teachings
The second and perhaps even more complex discussion of biodynamic seed regeneration is the research under taken by Enzo Nastati in Italy. In his 1999 book, The Regeneration of Seeds and New Plants, Nastati acknowledges how Mother Nature is losing her vitality partly due to what humans have done to the environment and plant breeding, but also due to the Earth’s own evolutionary path. While Nastati brings a Christian interpretation to his understanding around the nature of etheric forces, his reasoning is focused on the role of the constellations and their spiritual connection with plants.
Rather than wait for an auspicious moment when the planets are aligned in constellations that ensure optimal cosmic forces, Nastati uses seed baths made with the appropriate biodynamic preparations to bring in these desired transformative forces. These biodynamic preparations play a mediating role between the spiritual realms and the physical one.
Twelve Plant Stages
Nastati goes on to elaborate on his explaination that there are 12 stages of plant development, not just the four stages of root, leaf, flower and fruit. Each of these stages correspond to a constellation in the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus and Gemini influence the vegetative forces; Cancer, Leo and Virgo influence the nutritional value; Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius gather the forces of dissolution and death; and Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces act on the process of incarnation. Thus, the Zodiac represents a cycle during which the form becomes manifest, withdraws, is concealed and is preserved.
In terms of assessing seed quality, Nastati considers not only the planetary and astrological situation at the time of planting, but also the mood of the farmer at the time of sowing, and whether the plant producing the seed was grown within range of harmful electromagnetic energy fields.
In summary, while the most direct way to activate the connection with the inner and outer planets is through the use of the planting calendar, the use of biodynamic preparations in the form of seed baths is often more convenient and allows for greater flexibility.
Note: Reinhard Rosch in Eastern Ontario is in the process of translating the German text, Methods of Seed Regeneration According to George Wilhelm Schmidt. This English translation will be available on our calendar web site. Copies of The Regeneration of Seeds and New Plants by Enzo Nastati is available through Mark Moodie Publications.
“The Earth is a living organism, but life originates from the Cosmos. In the light of this it becomes necessary to implement all the measures that foster communication between Earth and the Cosmos.” — Enzo Nastati
Article by Rosemary Tayler and Cesar Gomez, 2015
One of the core principles in biodynamic agriculture is the sacred connection between the Cosmos and Earth. Rudolf Steiner firmly believed that working with the land depended upon working in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of the star systems and the planets. There is a “right time” to plant, to hoe and to reap such that this timing ensures better quality and quantity of produce. Accordingly, the farmer/gardener must be in tune with these natural rhythms and patterns. The focus of this article is to explore the rhythmic patterns and timings of the planet Venus and their implications on agriculture.
The symbol for the planet Venus is the same glyph used in biology and medicine to represent the female: a circle resting on a cross. The circle is infinite, no beginning, no end; it represents eternity, perfection and wholeness. This same circle with a dot in the middle is used to represent the Sun A. The angles of the cross correspond to the four directions of the compass (north, east, south and west) and to the four elements (earth, water, air and fire). The point where the horizontal line meets the vertical line represents the intersection between Cosmos and Earth. In summary, the symbol for Venus D-- represents the bringing of spirit into matter.
Sacred Geometry of the Venus/Earth Cycles
Being closer to the Sun than Earth, Venus takes some 224.695 Earth days to complete a full orbit. Sidera is Latin for star. Thus, the sidereal cycle, that is the time taken for Venus to complete a full cycle around the Sun and return to the same spot, is 224.695 Earth days or one Venus year. Earth orbits the Sun in 365.242 days, implying that for every eight orbits of the Earth around the Sun, there are thirteen orbits of Venus.
Venus is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Only the Sun and Moon are brighter. Like the Moon, we see the Sun’s light increase and decrease as it reflects off Venus along her path around the Sun. From our Earth-based perspective, Venus takes approximately 584 days to travel back to the same spot in the sky (synodic cycle). There is some variation in this cycle; it ranges between 580 to 588 days. During half of this time, approximately 292 days, her light increases (waxing) and during the other half, her light decreases (waning).
Synodic Venus Phase Cycle
Once every 584 days (about 18 months), the Sun comes between Earth and Venus. This exact intersection is called the Full Venus [point G] or the superior conjunction of Venus. Venus is behind the Sun and she is invisible from Earth.
Approximately 292 days (about nine months) later, Venus appears in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. This configuration is called the New Venus [point A] or the inferior conjunction of Venus. Ancient Meso-American astronomers tracked the path of Venus and recorded seeing her as a small dark speck when she was directly in front of the Sun. This Sun/Venus eclipse is also refered to as Venus transiting the Sun.
In summary, there are approximately 584 days between two inferior conjunctions or one Full Venus cycle. This New Venus to New Venus synodic cycle from our Earth-centred vantage point is similar to the cycle between one New Moon and the next New Moon. The superior conjunction of Venus is similar to a Full Moon event.
Morning Star / Evening Star
When Venus is travelling out from behind the Sun and her superior conjunction [point G], towards her inferior conjunction [point A] in front of the Sun, she is visible from Earth for several months around sunset. In this waning phase, Venus is called the Evening Star.
After the inferior conjunction [point A] in front of the Sun, she becomes visible before sunrise as the Morning Star and begins her waxing phase.
Retrograde and Stations
From our vantage point, when Earth is moving faster in its orbit compared to the speed of Venus in her orbit, it appears to us that Venus is moving backward, or retrograde. This is much like travelling on a faster moving train that passes a slower moving train going in the same direction. The slower moving train appears to be travelling backward.
From our vantage point, when Earth appears to be moving at the same speed as Venus, we perceive Venus to be stationary. Thus before going retrograde there is a stationary period. Stationary retrograde is the point where Venus moves from direct to retrograde [point K], and stationary direct is the point where Venus moves from apparent retrograde motion to direct or forward motion [point C].
Venus spends approximately 40 days and nights moving in this apparent backward direction, that is retrograde. In eight Earth years, Venus appears to move backwards five times. Many ancient astronomers including Johannes Kepler and Sir Issac Newton understood this forwards and backwards dance by Venus. They charted the course of Venus over time and plotted the famous five-petalled rose pattern of the Venus cycle.
A most unique quality about Venus’s orbit is that it is the most circular of all the planets in our solar system. It is this consistency that generates her beautiful repeating patterns.
The cosmic dance between the Venus and Earth rhythms is so harmonic that this 5-to-8 ratio has been applied to buildings of a spiritual nature throughout the ages, by many cultures and places around the world, including the great pyramids of Egypt, the Mayan pyramids as well as cathedrals throughout Europe.
Eastern and Western Elongations
While Native American stargazers paid close attention to the New Venus to New Venus cycle, they also made careful observations of this planet’s greatest eastern [point I] and western elongation [point E]. In theory, the greatest eastern elongtion is equivalent to the last quarter and the greatest western elongation is equivalent to the first quarter (similar to our lunar phases).
The Meso-American astronomers constructed observatories and temples with specially-placed windows from which they observed these eastern and western elongations. The timing of these elongation moments was carefully recorded for thousands of years.
El Carocol—This is one of several sacred places where the Mayans built observatories aligned with Venus’s position in the sky. This particular observatory near Chichen Itza is also aligned with the summer solstice sunrise and winter solstice sunset.
These ancient stargazers also noted the relationship between maximum elongation and brightness of this planet. A little over a month (37 days) before and after Venus reaches her inferior conjucntion [point A], she reaches maximum brightness as the Evening Star in her waning phase [point J] and as the Morning Star in her waxing phase [point D].
While it is generally understood that Venus is the brightest star in the sky next to the Sun and the Moon, we now understand that this luminosity varies slightly with its position with reference to the Sun and Earth. Her maximum brilliance occurs twice during one Venus cycle, that is, ten times in every five Venus cycles. This tenfold pattern blends harmoniously with the fivefold image Venus portrays in her five-petalled rose pattern.
According to Hunbatz Men, in his book, The 8 Calendars of the Maya, the ancient Mayan people developed and used over 17 different calendars, all of which were synchronized with the sacred calendar, the Tzolk’in. These calendars were based on astrological observations such as the solar and lunar cycles as well as those of other planets, including Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn. Observational records of these planetary cycles in relation to Earth were made over hundreds even thousands of years and from this work their calendars were refined and perfected. Hunbatz Men emphatically points out that the Mayan people firmly believe that “...our relationship with nature is firmly connected to our perception of time.”
Venus’s Message for Farmers
Based on ancient mythologies, Venus represents the feminine and fertility. Speaking of fertility, our planet is currently at a turning point with respect to health and well-being of the myriad of pollinators, including the honey bees. With the extensive use of pesticides and herbicides throughout the world, there is a direct correlation to a depletion of these pollinators that is closely approaching a critical point. Acknowledging their vital role to transform flowers and stamen into fruit and seed and protecting these pollinators is a clear and undeniable message Venus brings to us today.
Two additional teachings Venus offers are the supreme gifts of beauty and consistency. Her rose-pattern cycle is uncannily identical to the five-petaled flowers of the dicotyledons (flowering plants whose seed have two embryonic leaves or cotyledons). During a period of eight years, five synodical Venus/Earth rotations complete one full cycle. After this eight-year period, the sixth rotation of Venus begins approximately at the same place that the first period started. Consistency and beauty create a sense of harmony that goes beyond words. The beauty of these flowers with five sepals and five petals are a reminder of this spirit/matter connection that Venus reflects.
The properties of the Golden Mean reflect the Venus/Earth cycle of eight Earth years compared to five Venus years. This ratio has not only an aesthetic appeal but also a practical application. When building a barn, house or shed, this golden ratio of five to eight can be incorporated into its dimensions.
It is also worthwhile to observe what goes on during the retrograde periods of Venus. It may be time to inwardly reflect on one’s values, one’s goals, one’s sense of self-worth, at a personal level, a farm level and at a community level. How can we enhance fertility? How can we honour our feminine powers?
Given that Venus takes care of blossoming and how flowers grow, how can we consciously connect with this energetic impulse from the Cosmos?
How is Venus speaking to you? What is she guiding you to perceive? Appreciate? Enjoy? Reflect? Value? What sort of harmonic rhythm can we introduce into our lifestyles to honour this cosmic connection? How has our relationship with nature shifted as we observe and experience each Venus cycle?
Steiner teaches that the most powerful astronomical times occur when Venus is directly behind the Sun, that is, in a superior conjunction and at the same time in the constellation of Scorpio. The following chart outlines one eight-year Venus cycle and identifies when Venus is in Scorpio. Steiner taught that pest control using an ash preparation was best applied when Venus is in Scorpio and behind the Sun.
Article written by Rosemary Tayler and Cesar Gomez, 2015
Overview of Seminar by Enzo Nastati in Kentucky
Starting on October 18, 2013, Enzo Nastati presented a five-day seminar on Homeodynamics at Foxhollow Farm in Kentucky. This program was one of two given by Nastati in the United States that month. As a researcher, practitioner and teacher, Nastati’s mission was to introduce a few key aspects of his agricultural work to North American biodynamic farmers and educators. Paul Salanki from Loon Song on Manitoulin Island attended the Kentucky seminar. On January 18 and March 12, 2014, Salanki delivered presentations summarizing Nastati’s discourse to two groups of biodynamic farmers here in Ontario. The following is a brief overview of key points from Salanki’s talks.
Daily Format of the Nastati Seminar
After decades of learning and research, Enzo Nastati brought a wealth of experience and understanding to these lectures in North America. With a strong background in esoteric sciences, sacred architecture, homeopathy and agriculture, as well as many years of study of the works of Rudolf Steiner, Nastati was eager to share his thinking on many levels.
Salanki and other participants had been invited to bring questions to this seminar. The focus of the talks was based partially on these queries. Daily lectures went from 9 to noon, followed by lunch with the formal program resuming at 1:30 and running until supper at 5. Evening discussions were of a spiritual nature.
Being non-conversant in English, Nastati spoke through an interpreter. Accordingly, the discourse proceeded at a slower pace; however, given the complexity and newness of these teachings, these delays facilitated the assimilation process on the part of the participants.
Moving Forward from 1924
When Rudolf Steiner was first asked to give a course on agriculture, he had envisioned giving three sets of lectures. Unfortunately, he only completed the first set of eight lectures before his health declined and he crossed over to the other side in 1925. Based on his extensive study of Steiner’s Occult Science and many other lecture series, Enzo Nastati has attempted to take Steiner’s work further and develop what these missing lectures might have contained.
Moreover, critical influences such as electromagnetic frequencies, radioactive pollution, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer runoff, industrial waste, significant variations in weather patterns and increased susceptibility to invading species and diseases were not as present in 1924 to the degree that they are with us today. Nastati feels that this post-industrial shift calls for greater resiliency and protection of plant, animal and human beings and a consequent shift in biodynamic agricultural techniques.
The Cosmic-Earth Connection
Nastati follows Steiner’s emphasis that the cosmos and the Earth are mediated by the role of the individual. Our goal as humans is to increase this capacity to know, to understand and to create a greater sense of harmony and balance.
The Egyptian goddess, Nut, goddess of the stars and the cosmos, is the root of the words “nutrition” and “nutrients.” The current use of these words is focused mainly on the physical; we have lost focus of their deeper meaning. Both Nastati and Steiner emphasize that nutrition means something coming not from us, but from the cosmos.
Biodynamic farmers look out to the cosmos as a source of nutrition. In Nastati’s words, “We look beyond the physical limitations. Some might say this is impossible. Yet working with preparations, making preps enables us to connect to higher powers.”
Lecture seven in Steiner’s Agricultural Course gives details about making Horn Manure and Horn Silica preparations, which according to Nastati, are a form of spiritual science. Horn Manure (BD500) aids the Earthbound energies, that is, it can be used just before planting seed in the ground to help strengthen these formative forces. Horn Silica (BD501) assists the cosmic or skybound energies.
In Kentucky, Nastati gave specific directions when making up these two preparations into liquid sprays. This information is clearly presented in his book, Growing in Drylands with the Homeopathic Method.
For best results, those living in the Northern Hemisphere were advised to first stir the Horn Manure preparation counterclockwise to add increased vigour and growth to the plants, while the Horn Silica preparation should be first stirred clockwise. For practitioners living in the Southern Hemisphere, the initial stirring is reversed: the Horn Manure preparation is first stirred clockwise while the Horn Silica is first stirred counterclockwise. Thus, the directional instruction for making the Horn Silica preparation spray coincides with the direction that the planets and stars appear to move in the sky based upon one’s position on Earth.
Given the challenges in modern farming compared to how things were in Steiner’s time some 90 years ago, stronger, more highly energized preparations are needed to deter these forces. Nastati and his research colleagues have introduced methods that transform the preparations into more highly energized ones. In particular, they have spent many years testing the efficacy of further diluting the standard biodynamic preparations before spraying them on the land and on the plants.
This dilution schedule is based on homeopathic principles found in alternative medicine. One basic principle in homeopathy is “The more dilute, the more powerful.”
These tools developed by Nastati have produced remarkable results, including better quality, enhanced flavour, increased storage life and nutritional value. In terms of quantity, Nastati notes that there are increased yields due among other things to a better adaptation of these plants to unfavourable climactic conditions.
In summary, Enzo Nastati believes that the agricultural teachings by Rudolf Steiner are preliminary steps. We must go beyond what we already know and seek new ways to bring greater harmony and balance to the land, the plants and the animals. Further reading of books and lectures by Enzo Nastati are available on the Mark Moodie Publications website.
“The Earth must be considered to be much more than a base on which to grow crops, a substratum that often hinders our work, hosting various weeds and pests. The Earth is a living being, a mother that fondly and generously grants us her fruits, a creature that must maintain a proper equilibrium in order to survive―one that we are destabilising through chemical agriculture and pollution.” — Excerpt from the Foreward of Homeodynamic Cultivation Handbook by Enzo Nastati
Article written by Rosemary Tayler, 2015