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Giving Thanks to the Elementals

by Hugh Courtney, 2017 Celestial Planting Calendar

In our use of a biodynamic calendar, one of the first things we learn is to pay attention to the nature of the constellations as the Moon travels through the Zodiac each month and year. We understand early on that we will likely have better results if we plant tomatoes in a Fruit period rather than in a Root, Leaf or Flower period. Going a little deeper into the meaning of the constellations, we learn that each of these plant organs also relates to a fundamental characteristic of the various constellations with Fruit equated to the element of Fire; Root to the element of Earth; Flower to the element Air; and Leaf to the element Water in a rhythm that repeats itself three times throughout the solar year. Each of these elements―Fire, Earth, Air, and Water―is viewed according to ancient wisdom as a condition of matter or material substance. Everything in the physical world manifests with one or a combination of these material conditions. 

The concept Earth encompasses everything deemed a solid substance. Water encompasses everything of a liquid nature. Air encompasses all that is of a gaseous nature. Fire encompasses everything possessed of warmth. It should be noted that present day material science no longer recognizes the concept Fire as a condition of material substance, allowing only the three conditions of Earth, Water and Air to exist in any scientific calculations. 

We are assured by Steiner in his numerous lectures that behind the visible world of matter there can be found an infinite number of spiritual beings who stay busy ensuring that the physical world continues to exist. Steiner, using the terms of traditional wisdom (or folklore), speaks of  “very useful” elemental beings referring to Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs and Salamanders. 

Each of these groups of beings has responsibility for a particular domain of the conditions of matter with Gnomes concerned about Earth, Undines about Water, Sylphs about Air and Salamanders about Fire. Steiner often uses the term Fire Spirits for the latter beings. He repeatedly indicates that without the work of these various elemental beings the plant world could not exist. 

Those of us not gifted with Steiner’s clairvoyance generally bring a hefty skepticism to the concept of elemental beings because we have been conditioned through modern education to disregard anything that cannot be perceived with the senses. Without capability of being weighed, measured and counted, such things as Steiner describes obviously do not exist to the modern well-educated person. Nevertheless, Steiner urges that recognition by humanity of the existence of elemental beings is absolutely vital to further the positive evolution of planet Earth and all that exists thereon, including human beings.  Besides Steiner, there are more than a few other people who seem able to perceive elemental beings.
One such individual was Hugo Erbe (1894-1953), who was a serious student of Steiner, a dedicated biodynamic practitioner and ultimately someone who could converse easily with elemental beings, having experienced their presence onward from his early childhood. Erbe became deeply disturbed by the disruption experienced by the elemental kingdoms after the plethora of atomic and hydrogen bomb testing and he worked with great diligence at developing new biodynamic preparations to address this disruption. Altogether, he developed a total of 21 different preparations; each one aimed at solving specific problems in agriculture which he felt could not be fully addressed by the original biodynamic preparations introduced by Steiner.


In particular, two of Erbe’s preparations are intended to foster a cooperative working relationship with the elemental kingdoms. The Three King’s Preparation (HE8), consisting of gold, frankincense and myrrh in a special solution, and made and applied at a particular time of the year, was intended to create a circle of protection within which positive elemental beings find both nourishment and sanctuary, while barring entry to malevolent beings. The Harmonizing Preparation (HE9), consisting of sunflower oil, salt, egg whites, honey, cow’s milk and red grape juice specially blended with wheat grits or whole wheat flour and applied during the season of Michaelmas (September 29), is intended as an expression of gratitude to the elemental beings.  

Another person who had a direct awareness of elemental beings was Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (1899-1961), who was largely responsible for bringing biodynamic agriculture to North America. Pfeiffer, in his 1941 presentation “Elemental Beings in the Spiritual World – The Bearers of the Lower Forces in Nature,” noted the following: 

“It is a peculiar reality, not just accidental, that the elementary world of North America is more easily accessible than the elementary world of Europe, except for certain regions of Scotland, Norway and the Swiss mountains. ... The elemental beings in Europe are in general older and more experienced. The American elementals as compared with the Eastern ones are relatively ‘young.’ ... As a matter of fact the elemental beings are nourished or starved by thoughts or feelings. The celebration of a ritual has an educational value to them. ... In general the elemental beings which have had the chance to follow the stream of the old mysteries in the center of Asia westward to Europe, finally a being connected with the mystery of Golgotha, are very refined beings filled with energy, harmony, peace, balance and health. Beings which have not had this influence are weaker, easier to disturb and so forth. Especially the lack of reverence among the peoples of any continent of the earth tends to make the elemental brings rather uneducated and naughty. ... It seems to be a great task to improve this spiritual undernourishment of the North American elemental world.” 

Pfeiffer recommends several steps to address this challenge: 
1. Open the human mind to the spiritual situation in the elemental
    world and the struggle these beings have in North America; 
2. Educate to increase the desire for beauty and harmony; 
3. Educate to develop feelings and thoughts of harmony, balance
    and construction;  and finally, 
4. Develop a spiritual school conducted by those persons 
    conscious of order where a ritual can be celebrated in which
    the elementals participate. Such a center needs to be free of all
    desire, including the impulse to become powerful. 

How then do we in our biodynamic practice rise to the challenge of working with the elemental beings? What can those of us who are still lacking the clairvoyant abilities of Rudolf Steiner, Hugo Erbe or Ehrenfried Pfeiffer do to answer Steiner’s call to recognize and work with the elemental beings? Of course we can continue our own efforts at spiritual development which can benefit from Steiner’s guidance in that regard. In the meantime, we can simply start a dialogue of recognition and acknowledge that these beings do exist and actually thirst for our awareness. 

One additional conscious step we can each take individually is to address the elemental beings directly at any time we stir or apply a biodynamic preparation. In other words, we each in our own way can consciously include the elemental beings when we apply these preparations. A thought that is worth holding is that these preparations constitute very positive nourishment for the elementals and they furnish powerful tools for these beings to use in accomplishing their work with the plant kingdom. 
An excellent starting point for creating a ritual to include the elementals, which each of us can implement on our own, is available in the Sequential Spray Technique which employs all nine of Steiner’s preparations in one form or another. This technique addresses the needs of each of the groups of elemental beings within the full spectrum of all the preparations. 

If beyond our individual use of this technique we arrange with others in the biodynamic community to participate with us at the same time of the year, say at St. John’s Day (June 24), we would already be fairly far down the path toward establishing a center such as Pfeiffer wished. Such a center does not require a physical, geographic location; it simply can be established in our hearts especially when accompanied by our deeds. In fact, Pfeiffer actually referred to such a center as a “cult of the heart.” 

If we also take up the use of both the Three Kings Preparation and especially the Harmonizing Preparation and incorporate them as part of our biodynamic practice each year, we will go a long way towards gaining the cooperation of these elemental beings as Steiner deemed so necessary. One of the most powerful aspects of using the Three Kings Preparation is to realize that dozens if not hundreds of people throughout the world are applying this preparation all at the same time. Such a concerted effort sets up a mighty resonance between each participating site that has to have a profound effect. If we also commit to using the Harmonizing Preparation during the time between Michaelmas and the Thanksgiving holiday (Canadian or American matters not), a further resonant energy will be created that may let the elemental world know that there are at least some humans who are acknowledging their presence and their role. 

Beyond the seasonal use of a Sequential Spray Technique, incorporating both the Harmonizing Preparation and the Three Kings Preparation in the yearly approach to our biodynamic efforts can go a long way in establishing a North American Biodynamic Elemental Cult of the Heart.

Sequential Spray Technique - involves a rhythmical application of all nine of the biodynamic preparations (including Barrel Compost, BD500, BD501 and BD508) over a two or three day period with all sprays preferably applied when the Moon is in a Leaf/Water constellation (for lack of moisture) or in a Fruit/Fire constellation (when moisture is excessive). 

For availability of HE8 & 9, contact Earth Legacy Agriculture, L.L.C., PO Box 72, Woolwine, VA 24185 USA; via e-mail at; or phone: 276-930-1377

Hugh Courtney - Writer, Mentor, 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, along with his grandson, Jeremiah Proctor, Hugh founded Earth Legacy Agriculture, LLC to provide quality preparations for discerning practitioners.

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