By Hugh J. Courtney
Among the many mysteries which Rudolf Steiner presents in his Agriculture Course, one of the most baffling is found in the second of these eight lectures and reads as follows: “As I said just now, the man of today may know–though this knowledge too is very scanty–he may know how the air behaves in the interior of the Earth. But he knows practically nothing of how the light behaves in the interior of the Earth. He does not know that the silicious–that is, the cosmic–stone or rock or sand receives the light into the Earth and makes it effective there.”
In this passage, Steiner is laying the foundation for use of the Horn Silica preparation we now call BD501, and most importantly, he identifies silica as the carrier of the cosmic forces within Nature and the Earth. In that same paragraph, Steiner goes on to say, “Whereas that which stands nearer to the earthly living nature, namely the humus, does not receive it; it does not make the light effective in the Earth. It therefore gives rise to ‘light-less’ working. Such things must be penetrated with clear understanding.”
Thus, in the last half of this brief paragraph, Steiner has also given us the reason for the Horn Manure. Anybody practicing biodynamics has no trouble recognizing the humus-building quality of Horn Manure, which is often referred to as BD500.
In reality, using BD500 is the first and foremost task in biodynamic practice. Unfortunately, using BD501 is far less common, as I learned quite a few years ago, when I took up Josephine Porter’s work of making and distributing the biodynamic preparations after she passed. When I first began that work, one of the things that immediately concerned me was that while people were ordering BD500 and the biodynamic compost preparations (BD502-507), the Horn Silica preparation was rarely being ordered and only in extremely modest amounts.
Given Steiner’s direction that the Horn Manure was to work from below upward and the Horn Silica was to work from above downward on the plants, it was troubling to me that perhaps biodynamic practitioners were taking an incomplete approach in their biodynamic efforts. Such an approach could yield results much less than Steiner had hoped for in agriculture.
Initially, my concern focused on the possibility that my production of this preparation was falling short of using the best materials and techniques. I explored numerous sources of silica and paid close attention to Steiner’s indications, most particularly that the silica preparation not be excavated until late autumn.
Many years ago, in an effort to address some of my concerns, Harvey Lisle, a soil scientist, who also served as Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Biodynamic Association, performed a number of sensitive crystallization tests on multiple Horn Silica samples using the protocol developed by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. Those tests made it clear to us that under no circumstances should one leave the Horn Silica buried in the Earth after the winter solstice. We observed that the pattern of forces created in the crystallization of the silica changed from a harmonious picture of forces raying in from the periphery for Horn Silica excavated at the proper time to one of disharmony and chaos when the silica had purposely been left in the Earth after the winter solstice. It was a most convincing lesson learned.
As it turned out, my concern about the efficacy of the Horn Silica that I was producing was unfounded. While practitioners might order the BD501 initially, there was seldom a repeat order, because most often they never got around to using it. The most frequent excuse was that they were simply too busy and there wasn’t enough time to apply this spray preparation.
As it turned out, many who failed to use the Horn Silica on a regular and consistent basis had been influenced by Australian BD leader Alex Podolinsky as well as by some European BD experts. These various individuals considered the sun force in the Western Hemisphere as being too strong. They suggested that with such a strong sun force, BD501 might not need to be used to the same extent as was practiced in Australia and Europe. Perhaps this was a reason the use of Horn Silica was so modest.
In my opinion, our failure to develop the use of Horn Silica in North America is one of the major reasons that biodynamic progress has been so unimpressive in this part of the world. We need to understand the importance of the two spray preparations, namely Horn Manure and Horn Silica. And we need to recognize that Steiner gave both of them to the biodynamic community for good reason–they are tools to balance the living earthly and cosmic forces. Without diligent use of Horn Silica, the cosmic forces are sorely lacking.
Grasping the importance of the Horn Manure preparation is very easy when the evidence of humus build-up can so clearly be seen in a relatively short period of time.
However, grasping the importance of using Horn Silica requires the use of our imagination to understand how, as Steiner says, “the light behaves in the interior of the Earth.”
My imaginative efforts have allowed me to develop the following interpretation. We take some form of silica, be it quartz, orthoclase or felspar, grind and crush it into a fine powder, moisten it with good clean water, pack it into a cow horn, bury in the Earth for the summer, and then dig it up in late fall. We then take a minuscule quantity of this Horn Silica, stir it in water, and spray it out as a fine mist over the plants in our gardens or fields.
Why did Steiner want us to spray the vegetation in this fashion? Because, in my understanding, it is the stomata on the underside of the leaves of the plants that breathe in this fine mist which contains the cosmically-charged silica droplets of water.
These cosmic forces breathed in by the plants are then carried down to the roots. Anyone examining the root structure of plants cannot help but marvel at the whiteness or lightness to be seen in those roots. Are they shining the cosmic light into the surrounding rocks, stone and sand within the Earth in a process still awaiting our understanding? Is it possible that the nodules on the roots of leguminous plants are a transmutation of cosmic light energy?
Without using Horn Silica, the ability of the silicious content of the soil to absorb cosmic forces is slowly diminishing. Steiner gave us a very complete set of tools so that the Earth may be healed. We must use the Horn Silica so that the cosmic light forces can work within the Earth to the same degree that the
Horn Manure works on the soil’s earthly forces.
Agriculture Course by Rudolf Steiner, Adams translation, Steiner Press, 1958.
Hugh Courtney - Writer, Mentor, Teacher, Researcher
In addition to contributing articles, Hugh Courtney has taken on the advisory role of forecasting favourable and unfavorable times for this calendar. He has devoted more than 40 years to perfecting the art of making biodynamic preparations. Taking a cue from his own mentor, Josephine Porter, who declared, “These preparations are no secret, I will teach anyone who wants to learn how to make them,” he has mentored hundreds of people on the finer points of making quality preparations.
Ever concerned about keeping this special art form alive into the future, in 2009, Hugh founded Earth Legacy Agriculture, LLC to provide quality preparations for discerning practitioners. www.earthlegacyagriculture.com