Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 2, 1972
Lecture 1, Part 1.2
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture segment
Contents of this Segment:
Sedge: an example of the natural process of soil building; Rudolf Steiner and other philosophers have questioned the trend toward destructive elements in agriculture; Balance in life and creation; Relationships and disrelationships as the essence of biodynamics; Verbosity does not serve, gardening is a spiritual journey; Becoming aware of nature's laws; Difference between forces of sun and moon; Horticulture is an art that uses the souls of living beings as its medium; Respect for all life.
Villa Montalvo Lecture Series
Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 1,
Cultivation, Part 2
... and that only such a thing known in terminology as sedge will grow. And so is the botany of God so perfect that this sedge will grow for some period of cycles, and in growing produces more than it requires, as nature always does. More than it requires. And after it has grown for some time, soil has begun to be produced and sedge cannot grow anymore. And grass can, and does, and does take over. And after a period, soil has begun to become lush, and herbage enters into grass. And then come all the other life matters of creation: birds, animals, insects. And cultured soil begins. This, of course, goes on forever in this scene.
That is just something of a very tiny entry into what is the vision of this matter, indeed Steiner’s view of this terrible word, biodynamics, which leaves everybody sitting, and organic growing, which of course, never existed until 1895. It has been growing, agriculture and horticulture, ever since we know about the Chinese of 5,000 years ago, followed by, of course, the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks and up through the enormous Italian and French and western cultures. And so it has evolved in this way and, of course, dis-evolved. But what such people as the philosophical people of fifty to a hundred years ago found was: “Oh, but surely man is trying to run nature. He is telling nature how to live, what to do.” And of course, at no time is this possible. We are children, and when we’re ninety we’re much more children than we are when we were two. Or God help us if we’re not.
And the view of these philosophical people when they saw vast road tracks and endless machinery and a whole lot of attributes that gave one no vision but divorcement from creation, they said to the people at large, they said, “Excuse me, but just a minute, should we not look where we’re going?” And the whole methods and thinking of these people which very much included my tutor, Rudolph Steiner, was, “Let us look into the great true knowledge of the science of creation.” And this is exactly what this vision is: that the whole world is governed by a pulsation, very largely connected with what we call the procedure of the planets, which you must realize goes much farther than that, of course. But that this pulsation is like breathing; it is in and out, relaxation and tension, the Sun rises and the Sun sets, the Moon rises and the Moon sets, and the cycles come and go. But none of them, mark, none of them are ever a repetition.
You know perfectly well that 1972 is not at all, so far, like 1971 was, nor any other year. It is a cycle of which we know something about, but it is not a repetition. It is another cycle. And of course it’s not only the year, it’s not only a month, it’s not only a day, it’s not only an hour; it is every moment. There is no time. And that the view of these thinkers is, that there is throughout life and creation, balance. The balance that comes from day and night, hot and cold, love and hate, this and that, yes and no. And that when you seek deeply into the great science of this matter, you can dissolve the balance of all problem.
That there is, throughout nature—and referring of course now to garden, horticulture—there is throughout nature plants which like plants, and plants which don’t like plants at all, birds which prefer certain birds and don’t allow other birds in their area but, “Keep out over there.” Likewise with insects, and of course, likewise, human beings. “I simply must see that person; I can’t live without listening to him. They absolutely fascinate me." "I don’t know what it is. Oh my God, no I’m sorry, I really can’t bear that person.” This is all biodynamics: relationships and dis-relationships. In some cases unaccountable, but always completely real.
And, of course, they change. They change all the time. Nothing is static. Indeed, when I got my pencil and paper as a reasonably well-brought-up child should, and started to write all these matters down while Steiner was going on: “Get those… Put that away, you idiot. Don’t you understand that I’m trying to give you a key?” And so, you see, these matters are very deep, and that behind the whole matter of the garden, first of all, is definitely, without question, a spiritual approach. If you like to call it soul, what does it matter? And that from that you begin to enter a balance which is entirely different.
You realize that you have not taken a piece of ground which you have bought for with some money and said, “That’s mine, I’m going to do this. Put a fence round, that’s mine. I’m going to grow that, and that, and that.” It doesn’t work, because we belong to totality. You can’t divorce yourself from totality. Or, at least you can if you’re prepared to pay the piper, and we’re not.
However, the vision of this biodynamics is this mathematics of understanding the true science of nature, of becoming visible and aware of the laws that operate between relationship and dis-relationship. You understand that, in a sense, that the Moon is magnetic, whilst the Sun, in a sense, pushes. And that when you become visible of this fact, the moment that you start the art of horticulture… For it is an art, but let us remember that we are dealing with life, that all other arts are man’s toys of the nursery: inventions of music, of painting, which are our exposition of our happiness of living, and a beautiful thing.
But the moment that you enter a garden, my God, we’ve got to beware. We are dealing with the souls of things that are alive, that live their life and are capable and total of living without our interference. And that we are the students of them. And therefore the whole vision of biodynamic growing is that you enter the garden because you love creation. You just want to grow fruit and flowers and you love the smell of soil, and creativity, and culture, and all the exquisite things that God gives us to live upon, and look at, and listen to, and enjoy.
And that whereas stupidly, at one time we were told, “Oh, a rabbit will eat the lettuce. That caterpillar eating the cabbage. Oh, poison it. It is monstrous.” The white cabbage butterfly, if you met it at the Belgian Congo, you’d fall down on your back and say, “That is the most exotic butterfly I’ve ever seen in my life.” And of course, it flies all over the place and everybody goes pssst [the sound of spraying]. And the thing was created by God, and it has a caterpillar, and what’s more is it goes through a most exquisite procedure…