Prep 500 – alchemical magic

On 29th September Paul and Jennie did the annual making of Prep 500 for all of us. I wasn’t there, I was walking on Exmoor with the 3rd year Rainbow Warrior students on their final workshop – I missed a great day but we all had a wonderful time on the moor too.

Prep 500 is cow manure which has been buried in a cow’s horn from autumn to spring equinox. As I said in a previous blog the cow’s four stomachs are magical … like the four processes of alchemy. These processes are …

  • nigredo (-putrefactio), blackening (-putrefaction): corruption, dissolution
  • albedo, whitening: purification, burnout of impurity; the moon, female
  • citrinitas, yellowing: spiritualization, enlightenment; the sun, male
  • rubedo, reddening: unification of man with God, unification of the limited with the unlimited

Although one cannot say this is exactly what happens inside a cow there are similarities that are worth taking into account in thinking about gardening and farming in a far wider sense than just growing food and flowers. Steiner certainly thought so.

The way I work with it is shamanic, through the way of the goddess, Mother Earth, the Lady of the Land.

This picture is like the ancient many-breasted Diana of Epheseus. For me, this is a form of the goddess, of the Lady Sovereignty … however you don’t have to believe this to do biodynamics J. I like this picture as amongst other things it shows the for kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and human in the form of the goddess’ dress. These four kingdoms are the four elements, and also the four processes of alchemy.

Gradually all things break down to soil, to the mineral kingdom … in gardening we call it composting. This is a return to the mineral kingdom, it is dissolution.

Vegetation grows out of the soil, is fed and watered by the soil, made of the reformed atoms of the soil. It is very much affected by the moon – as we know in biodynamics. It is a form of purification.

Animals feed on vegetation, so do we humans. We live because of the minerals breaking down into its component atoms, being eaten by animals and ourselves, and by eating the animals who have further processed the vegetables for us, made them easier for us to digest. Enlightenment and spiritualisation.

And then, after that, we come to the what happens when all these things come together … the unification of the limited with the unlimited, the unification of man with God.

Another way of doing the four processes of alchemy.

This picture shows the Lord and Lady of the alchemical wedding, the sun and the moon and the stars … the things that drive the processes of biodynamics although we don’t really know how they do this. 80-plus years of work and research show that they do, even the American Department of Agriculture has investigated it and said it found changes, differences, between biodynamic compost and the ordinary stuff.

The lord and lady hold two branches that form a horizontal cross that mark the four elements – earth, water, air and fire. These elements correspond to the four parts of a plant – roots, leaves, flowers and fruit.

All of these sets of fours correspond …

Nigredo Albedo Citrinato Rubado
Earth Water Air Fire
Roots Leaves Flowers Fruit
Abomasum Omasum Rumen Reticulum

So … Paul and Jennie made prep 500, stuffing fresh cow-pats into cow horns. They buried them in the pit, the good earth, the soil that is the skin of Mother Earth. Lying there the horns will be acted upon by the four elements – the earth, the rain, the air and the fire of the sun. The pull of the moon works on them too, and the stars, the constellations that the moon focuses every month. Over the dark time of the year, from autumn to spring, the horns lie in the womb of the Mother and gestate. Come the spring they birth into the new year to give up their magic substance, prep 500, that will help the soil to exchange their goodness with the plants.

Come the spring, we’ll dig them up and use that goodness on the land.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

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