ANIMALS & ELEMENTALS
ANIMALS & ELEMENTALS
Bringing Peace to Your Land
by Jacqueline Freeman
We started practicing biodynamics on our farm in 2003 after we read Hugh Lovell’s book, “A Biodynamic Farm.” I had started keeping bees and was intrigued by the concept of increasing vitality in every aspect of the farm. As I continued my biodynamic education, I felt a deepening understanding of all aspects of the farm becoming one living being.
This story was first intended to be about how to work with elementals but as it unfolded, I realized my husband and I work with animals in much the same way, inviting them to become their highest expression of themselves, and asking what brings peace to our land.
ACCESS TO NATURE
Much of my intuitive development came in the woods as a child. I grew up in a small New England town with forests, fields and ponds in every direction. I spent nearly every day studying plants and imagined I’d become a botanist. I felt delight in the company of weeds and flowers, bushes and trees, the muddy swamp and glistening pond, orchards and forest. I seemed to know their uses and what was edible. At 16 I discovered books on herbalism and foraging and found much of what I imagined was accurate.
One day in the woods, I found a tiny clay pipe with a raised initial on it. I was sure it belonged to a wee forest elf. That thought led me to imagining the woods were probably filled with other spirit beings as well.
To acknowledge the presence of the wee ones. I started calling my attention to noticing moments I felt my spirits lift. That was my first clue: to see and acknowledge what was present around me. The more I did this, the more I felt connected to the land. The breeze moving through field flowers, the trickle of the stream, birds flying across the sky, the old stonewall, slithery garter snakes, persistent beavers, frugal squirrels — everyone felt a friend.
My mother is deeply intuitive. She raised my sisters and me to listen to our intuition. She had relationships with wild birds that I marveled at. She’d call them to the back yard and they’d answer her whistle with their bird songs. I loved that! My mother’s acceptance of my relationship with the land has been profoundly appreciated.
As a child, I recognized that accepting the possibility of a miracle helped all manner of things to become real. It helps significantly to support children in recognizing their connection with the spirit world.
BECOMING PRESENT TO THE ELEMENTAL WORLD
At their simplest definition, the elements of earth, air, fire and water are the homes of elemental beings: gnomes in the earth, sylphs in the air, salamanders in fire, and undines in water. When invited and respected, they assist greatly in the evolution of the land and also our own human evolution.
Steiner describes the person we need to become to be able to interact with the elementals:
“Let us take a person who digests his impressions spiritually by thinking about them, and by forming concepts about the underlying spiritual foundation of the world. That is, a person who does not merely stare, but ponders over its nature, a person who feels the beauty of things and ennobles his impression. As a result of his spiritual activity, he redeems the elemental being that streams toward him from the outer world, thus raising it to its previous state. He releases the elemental being from its enchantment. Through our spiritual activity, we can release beings who are bewitched in air, water and earth and lead them back to their former condition.”
pg 52, Nature Spirits: Selected Lectures, Rudolf Steiner, 2007
Good directions! Become a person who ponders nature and who feels the beauty of things. Thoughtful consideration is an insightful prayer of connection whereby we work for the highest good of all. This is how we remember what is dear to our hearts and how we teach ourselves to become present to Nature’s creations. These are moments when ideas arise and, if right-minded, we have the blessed opportunity to act upon them.
I listen. I ask the tomato if she is ripe, the compost if it is ready to meet the garden beds, the cows if the grass is lush. These are easy questions because you can ask something of a specific tomato and develop your listening skills with sense confirmation. Pick the tomato and taste it.
If I get even a glimmer of response, I say thank you. Sometimes I see something so subtle it hardly seems real, a leaf flutter, or flicker of movement almost out of view. When I do, I am full of gratitude. I say, “Thank you for showing yourself to me.” If someone is there, they will feel acknowledged. If it was nothing, then it doesn’t matter. Risk embarrassing yourself.
I say thank you to every light speck on the periphery of my vision, each shudder of leaves that seems distinct from the rest of the tree, anywhere in Nature where I am suddenly surprised. Even if some of these moments are not spirit presences, good chance that others are and I don’t want to ignore or be disrespectful of anyone.
More often they suddenly show up when I am in the midst of something that holds my thoughts in an attentive but relaxed state, like gardening, folding clothes, watching birds.
I am especially keen to moments of surprise that catch my eye or ear. They often come during attentive, relaxed states like gardening, folding clothes, watching birds. Suddenly something calls my attention, or an idea pops in, like we should install a small pond under the hazelnut trees or plant sunflowers in the upper field. I make myself available to communications from the plants, elementals and animals and unexpected things happen.
Once while gardenin, I got a sudden alert that I should check the baby chicks penned in the front yard. A headcount found one missing. I circumnavigated the fence and found a tiny exhausted chick with her head and one wing caught in the chicken wire. Once I released her, I thanked the guardians who called my attention to this emergency.
Allowing yourself to be open to communications builds a language between you and the elementals. When I respond with action, like going to check the chicks, the elementals learn that I am receptive, reliable and consistent in my behavior and they are more likely to communicate further.
I don’t have a step-by-step plan. Instead I engage in an informal and light hearted process of listening to guidance and then I follow it. I open myself to seeing what is beyond first glance.
A LANGUAGE OF RELIABILITY
Whether it be an animal, a crop, an elemental or even a neighbor, the actions we take are similar. We develop a language of trust and reliability.
Steiner recognized the focal point a farm’s matriarchal cow provides. When we began our farm 20 years ago, our first cow, an untamed jersey-brown Swiss, was filled with fear and anxiety. My husband and I knew nothing about cows and she knew nothing about humans. I couldn’t imagine how we would enter into a true partnership with her.
Nonetheless, we started in, offering kindness. In every interaction, we represented ourselves as beings of integrity. When she showed fear, we reflected love back to her. Our behavior was consistent and reliable.
This was a good start, but weeks later she remained a bundle of nerves. We were still thinking like humans and that kept a distance between us.
To communicate with her, we needed to think like a cow.
One morning my husband took a lawn chair up into her field where he spent a few hours casually reading a novel, not acknowledging one bit her presence across the field.
Cows have a subtle curiosity and a man in a chair was more than she could ignore. From a hundred yards away, she stared. Then, over the next few hours, eating grass the whole way, she slowly inched her way closer. When she was 40 feet away, he closed the book and left.
The next morning he set himself again in the field. This time she started the day a mere 60 feet from him. She slowly made her way, bite by bite. By noon she was standing calmly behind him where she extended her nose and gave his back a thorough sniffing.
This didn’t happen overnight. She learned, at her speed, we were reliable, consistent, and we saw the goodness in her.
Over the next few months her eyes softened. While we hand-milked, she responsibly did her part to keep us safe. She let go of the wariness; she developed her own will and fulfilled her destiny by becoming a vital loving being. Wherever she stood, that was the center of the farm.
ANIMALS AND ELEMENTALS
Most people are unaware of the possibility of a relationship with the elementals, and so they ignore them. When we act in ignorance, the opportunity of our shared evolution is lost to all of us.
At first when I thought about our cow, my thoughts were bland. She was an enigma to me and I did not see her as remarkable. Yet every day my husband and I did something that drew us into relationship. We saw that she thrived on consistency, punctuality, sameness, and eventually she responded to kindness. We gave her that, robed in love. Over time, we all were changed by the process of falling in love.
My behavior is similar with elementals. Even though they seem mostly invisible, I know they are present around me. All my actions toward them are meant to open us to trust, kindness, joy.
To help you develop your ability to interact with the elementals, I will describe how that happens for me. I know it may not be everyone’s process, but this is what I know.
I start by praying (I still do this) that we have connection and communication and that I am best able to work with them for the highest good of all. That sets the stage. Like with many things, consistency and reliability are what give entry.
In some ways it’s like remembering your dreams. The average person says, “I don’t remember my dreams.” Of course they don’t. If they don’t look at them and give them credence in any manner, the ability to remember them gets submerged. But if we catch a glimmer of one at dawn and keep looking, eventually the door to dream memory opens again. Are dreams real? Do they deliver information to me? They can’t if I don’t recognize their presence in my life.
In the morning or at night as I lay in bed with eyes closed, I watch in my mind what emerges as I am in that prayerful state. I don’t censor and I don’t even seek. I just let whatever wants to show itself to me to do that.
I believe these elemental beings communicate with us far, far more than we give credit. We often dismiss because we expect them to show up with the solidity of a kitchen table! Yet they are quite present. At first we need to open our minds to even the littlest wisps of presence that comes through. They are like tiny knocks at our doors of perception. Eventually they may become quite visible (or auditory, or feeling). For me this came incrementally.
Over time they do become more “solid.” Once I walked into our bedroom and saw, for a split-second, a helpful house spirit fluffing up the pillows. I distinctly saw him for a moment (thank you!) and then I did not.
I could doubt this and say nothing happened. If I did that, no doubt this seeing would soon stop happening. That is what I think most folks do. On the other hand, when I acknowledge and thank him for showing himself to me, over time more of this happens.
Do you experience doubt when you ask a question of a non-human? How do you trust that the tiny voice you may hear is real? At first, believe every wisp of presence that knocks at a door of perception. Actual visibility comes incrementally. We dismiss lack of solidity, yet these elemental beings are as real as we are.
What kills this natural ability more than anything is doubt. This is the ephemeral world, after all, and doubt drains our will. Doubt weakens our spirit. Doubt sucks life out of us.
We have to make a huge leap of faith to get started. Risk looking foolish, even in your own mind (aren’t we the harshest judges?), and stick with it.
Be bold, let go of judgment, listen deeply and trust that what you sense has the distinct possibility of being real. Eventually it does.
DOORWAYS BETWEEN WORLDS
A doorway is any place that calls your attention with a sense of beauty, uniqueness, something extraordinary, a feeling present in the land, or a focal point that generates energy. This might be a tree hollow, a cavity in a stone wall, a thriving bee skep, a fountain in a fish pond. All of these generate energy and can be part of elemental communication. The way I most commonly identify elemental presence is when I feel my heart lift.
What do you do when you find a doorway? I assume someone is on the other side! I recognize the beauty or unusualness of the location and I acknowledge in my mind that I see this and know what this is. Or I may purposefully gift a leaf or feather in appreciation. In other words, “I recognize your work here and see this with amazement and awe.” This is how to add spark! Do something that demonstrates cooperation, delight or commitment. These traits are how we speak with elementals.
We introduce ourselves to them by being consistent in our work, like an faithful gardener works in the garden, showing up each day, tending with respect and devotion. Elementals recognize this and work alongside to complement your efforts.
An old aspen tree near the apple orchard died and, with dismay, we decided to cut it down before it fell on an outbuilding. We went to the tree and spoke to it, acknowledging the decades of important service this tree provided. I brought a crystal and leaned it against the tree overnight, inviting the tree spirit the next morning to be carried on the crystal to a new location where we were planting a new tree. Around the stump I placed a few small ceramic figurines and a metal frog sculpture and said a departing prayer.
Leaving these tokens was a way for me to express appreciation and extend an invitation to the elementals in charge of decomposure.
As far as the crystal and spirit moving ceremony, we made it up. You can do the same. We wanted to convey that we loved this tree, valued its contribution, and choose to be respectful. Isn’t that the core of biodynamics — respect and love?
A week later I was surprised to find the stump and area around it covered with a profuse celebration of hundreds of mushrooms! The elementals expressed their delight with a exuberant blessing of joy.
Walk around your land and notice what calls your attention as a demonstration of beauty. This is so important if we are to disenchant the elementals: Become a master of appreciation!
GNOMES IN YOUR COMPOST
Gnomes are the elemental beings who live below the soil and inhabit the minerals of the earth. Gnomes can easily be hindered and bound up within the earth; they really don’t like the feeling of confinement. When minerals break down, they experience a sense of release and freedom and that brings them pleasure. Biodynamic compost piles cause many mineral and alchemical interactions to occur which sends positive energy into the gnomes and enhances their development.
Gnomes move freely through the damp earth that surrounds roots. They conduct minerals to nourish the roots and, come spring when plants seek to emerge, the gnomes are the elementals that push the plants up out of the ground.
“The gnomes, in their wanderings through ore and rock, bear with them what has trickled down to them through the plants. They are the beings within the earth which carry the ideas of the whole universe on their streaming, wandering journey through the earth.”
pg 110, Harmony of the Creative Word
We can look at gnomes, for ways we can interact in the compost pile. Laying together all the components for a compost pile is a good task for the physical body yet there is so much more of ourselves to engage.
When we make compost with the biodynamic preps, we invite the elementals — the beneficent earth beings that hold nature’s intelligence. We ask them to bring their unique contributions to enliven the soil and create nutrient density in the food we grow.
As you gather materials and build the pile, use your imagination to invite them to participate. Senses are the language of elementals so open yourself to the dry rattle of brittle stalks and leaves, the slippery gush of tomatoes gone by, the pungent nostril-grabbing inhale of rotting cabbage. Add sweet-smelling manure to your pile.
Building a compost pile is a meditation and you can imagine the work of the gnomes as you build. Engage them with good spirit.
In a week or two, check your pile. Lift up the outer skin of straw that covers the pile and look for a slight dampness. That tells you there’s enough water for them to do their work promoting decay and changing vegetation to soil that will enrich the garden. Notice the exciting scent of decomposure that signals a healthy pile.
As we humans build and nurture compost piles, we have the opportunity to enliven the process with our will, adding love and appreciation for these elemental helpers and the process they bring about. As the individual materials in the compost pile break down, the human will — in cooperation with the gnomes — creates new substances that weren’t present before the pile was built. The pile will be full of the life-enhancing properties of decay.
Next time you visit your compost pile, take notice of all the life teeming in the shadowy world at your feet and thank the gnomes for their contribution.
WE PLANT WITH OUR THOUGHTS
For the first few years, every time I walked about our land, I saw messy unfinished tasks and work undone. That made me feel pressured and stressed. I didn’t see or look for beauty. My troubling thoughts were being planted in the land and causing pain to the unappreciated elementals.
After a disagreement one day, I went to work in the garden. Over the long afternoon, I reviewed the upset by replaying what was said and what I should have said. Alone in the garden, I let the spat continue in my mind, and for a few more days. Then, the next time I knelt down to weed, even though I wasn’t thinking of the argument, that was my first thought. With horror I realized I had been planting unhappiness in my beautiful garden and now it was taking root in me. I was feeding the elementals discord and division, anger and strife.
Our thoughts become the land. Earth holds the vibration of all that has been upon it. The earth bears witness to all that has gone before. Whether cognizant or not, the impulse is impressed upon the area. Indeed, as humans, we express and exude the results of our thoughts and actions in every moment,
Before you lay one knee to the ground, clear your thoughts. The vibration of damaged land affects the unprotected and vulnerable elementals.
These harm land:
Disrespect for life, anger, materialism, punishment, bitterness, refusal to forgive, a cold heart, harvesting without care, and monoculture. Surely there are more to add.
What do I sow? Am I quick to anger? Do I hold onto upset? Do I override my tender feelings? Do I ignore my surroundings? Do I get tangled up with authority? Do I refuse kindness?
One of the most important activities we can do is to make and apply biodynamic preps. Stirring, with attendant good will, loving thoughts and appreciation — is ongoing magic. Our good deeds disenchant elementals and bring evolution to us all.
BEES, BRINGERS OF JOY
Bees are elementals made visible. They are a living, breathing blessing upon the land.
Bees have a glorious role in creating the sound vibration of an area. Go outside and listen. What does your farm sound like? Does everyone who contributes to the fabric of sound have a home they are welcome in?
We have one area of our farm that we have never set foot in since we bought the land 20 years ago. We did this as a demonstration of commitment to the elementals’ presence. Every time I am nearby, I nod to it, as saying hello to a neighbor.
This makes me smile. I told my husband I have a low bar for happiness. But isn’t this what we are seeking? To find joy all around us?
As flowers come into bloom, ripe with pollen and nectar, thousands of bees arrive, each humming with intention. The sound of a flowering tree filled with bees is a celebration. The activity of bees collecting and moving pollen creates a harmonic that stimulates tree and plant growth, bringing good health to all.
When bees and other pollinators are not present with their gift of song, the health of the land is compromised. While a quieter forest may seem insignificant, removing frequencies of sound has great effect. The harmonic then has gaps in the vibration. Humans may not hear it but the forest certainly does.
When the sound of a dragonfly is lost, the sound tapestry is less rich. When a certain bird no longer sings, another frequency is lost. When the presence of bees is reduced or lost, the celebratory culmination of reproductive renewal is left wanting and the forest suffers a reduction in Life Force.
If you are lucky enough to have bees on your land, let them know they are loved and valued as bringers of joy.
As you walk your land, open your senses. You will, over time, notice other realms of activity.
One day I became aware of a thin tinkling sound in the background each time I walked past a certain area. It reminded me of water so I suggested to my husband we dig a ten foot wide hole and make a small pond there. Once installed, we built a fountain to increase the water sound, planted pond lilies and added small fish. Our task was done.
Over the next few days, everyone found it — birds, dragonflies, native bugs, honey bees, butterflies. Frogs in a nearby creek took three days to cross our pasture, and once they arrived, another new sound was added. I was very happy.
A few days passed and I walked down the path. As I approached the pond, I felt a surge of energy and that tinkling sound burbled into laughter. In my mind’s eye, I glimpsed undines, water spirits, in the arcs of fountain water.
At that moment I suddenly remembered 20 years ago, the first week we lived on our farm, we found an old well. We were tearing down a ramshackle building. While pulling up the floorboards we discovered an uncapped well 25 feet below. It had a glisten of oil sheen on the water which meant we would never use it, so we decommissioned it by filling it with clay and covered that with dirt. We discovered it in the morning and filled it by nightfall, and then 20 years passed. I had completely forgotten the buried well.
Undines are place sensitive, tied to water. Even though dirt filled the well and no water flowed, this was still their home, such as it was. They were essentially trapped in place.
In my mind, I had heard their tinkling call. I didn’t know why I felt the urge to put a pond there, I just knew we should.
It is important for us to listen to these messages because they nurture relationships and strengthen community with the unseen elementals. This helps us all evolve.
Because the elementals had taught me to listen, I acted upon a tiny idea and created a place for them, the very pond they were now delightedly swimming in.
I hope you feel encouraged to enjoy the company of all the beings who are present nearby and make their lives joyful, too
Friendly Haven Rise Farm