• THE BIG BARN . .


I have recently read the interesting introduction to Bentham and Hooker’s “Outlines of Botany.” The authors wrote, “The aptness of all botanical descriptions, like the beauty of a work of imagination, will always vary according to the genius of the authors ” but I doubt if Bentham and Hooker would have agreed with my conclusion of this rather rambling article.

I have especially looked up those flowering plants which in connection with certain additions from the animal kingdom are used in the treatment of our compost heaps.

The beautiful but unpopular DANDELION is to-day given a bad character and is certainly a troublesome weed in most parts of the world, but Rudolf Steiner knew the value of the innocent yellow Dandelion as a mediator between the silicic acid finely distributed in the Cosmos and that which is needed as silica throughout most parts of the earth.” “Truly,” he says, “the Dandelion is a kind of heavenly messenger.” I should like to add an older appreciation of the Dandelion. John Evelyn writing in 1099 says in its praise, “The French country people eat the roots of this plant, and it was with this homely sallet that the good wife Hecate entertained Theseus, unawares.”

CHAMOMILE. Matricaria chamomilla. This plant was dedicated by the wise men of Egypt to the sun and was said to be a sure remedy for all agues. In some countries to-day it is dedicated to St. Anna, the Mother of the Virgin Mary, and it is suggested that its Latin name is a fanciful derivation from the words Mater and Cara, i.e., the beloved Mother. “Diana! Have not I to make thee crowns, been gathering still fair-cheeked Eteria’s golden chamomile!”

MILFOIL. Achilles is said to have been the first to use Yarrow, (Milfoil) to heal his wounds. In more recent times this plant was reputed to have been dedicated to evil powers and used for divinations and spells-it was called Bad Man’s Plaything as its use induces visions.

There’s a crying at my window and a hand upon my door,

There’s a stir among the Yarrow that is fading on the floor,

A voice cries at my window, the hand at the door beats on,

But if I heed and answer them, sure hand and voice are gone! ”

“Possibly it was for this reason that the medicinal value of Yarrow was officially discarded in 1781.”

VALERIAN.” This plant was in such esteem in mediæval days. as a remedy,” says Mrs. M. Grieve in her ” Modern Herbal.” ” that it received the name of All Heal, which is still given it in some parts of the country. It has been suggested that the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin owed his irrestible power over rats to the fact that he secreted Valerian roots about his person.”

In speaking of the preparations, Dr. Steiner says:-“Truly the STINGING NETTLE is a good fellow–and really should grow round men’s hearts, for the world outside. In its marvellous inner working and inner organisation, it is wonderfully similar to the heart in the human organism. The Stinging Nettle is the greatest boon.”

EQUISETUM. “Look at the Equisetum. It has this peculiarity: it draws the Cosmic Nature to itself: it permeates itself with the silicious nature. It contains 90% of silica: it does not reveal itself in flower but in the growth of the lower parts.”

MILFOIL. “ Milfoil stands out in Nature as though some creator of the plant world had had it before him as a model to show him how to bring the sulphur into a right relation to the remaining substances of the plant. … like sympathetic people in human society who have a favourable influence by their mere presence and not by anything they say, so Milfoil works beneficially by its mere presence.

OAK. “The Calcium in the oak is an intermediate product between plant-nature and the living earthly nature. If it is to have a healing effect the calcium must remain within the realm of life. Ordinary lime is no longer in the realm of life.”

CHAMOMILE. “Chamomile has strong potash and calcium contents but has also a certain amount of sulphur but not to the same extent as milfoil, for it has calcium in addition. It therefore contains processes which can preserve healthy conditions in the plants and even those among which it grows.


A number of our readers have read Lady Eve Balfour’s book “The Living Soil,” briefly reviewed in these pages some time ago. Arising more or less directly out of the publication of this book, there was held in London on June 12th the Founders’ Meeting of a proposed “Soil Association.” We quote the following from the privately circulated report of the meeting:

“The weakness of our cause hitherto has been that it was split up into factions, each working separately, the very fragmentation that we all crit science. … We all have so much to learn and we can all contribute to the common objective, i.e., a better understanding of and obedience to Nature’s biological laws….. Our meeting proved that we can retain our individual outlook and yet work together.”

….”We are all agreed on the basic principles underlying this projectthat the soil is a living entity and must be studied and treated as such…. There is room for many differences of opinion within the ranks of any Society of the Living Soil. .. . It is the maintenance of the healthy vitality of the soil and all its products which is our objective.”

Of particular interest to bio-dynamic workers is the Panel of Experts formed to advise the Founders’ Committee. It consists of Lady Eve Balfour, Dr. G. E. Breen, C. C. J. Bullough, Esq., Professor Dalling, Henry Deck, Esq., Deryck Duffy, Esq., L. F. Easterbrook, Esq., Sir Albert Howard, Dr. Lionel Picton, Dr. M.C Raynor, D.Sc., F. H. Secrett, Esq., Friend Sykes, Esq., Dr. G. Scott Williamson, Capt. R. G. M. Wilson and Maurice Wood, Esq.

THE EXPERIMENTAL CIRCLE Two meetings of the Experimental Circle have been held since our last issue appeared. On Sunday morning, July 1st, the Circle met at Rudolf Steiner House in London—the first reunion since 1942. There was a very good attendance, helped by the fact that! the meeting was arranged to coincide with Mr. Deryck Duffy’s three agriculture lectures, for which many friends and members were spending the weekend in town.

This year the Agricultural Course comes of age, and before the meeting was opened for general discussion, Dr. Mier spoke for a few minutes, recalling most vividly and movingly those days twenty-one vears ago when Dr. Steiner gave the course, and the work of the earliest members of the Circle. We who begin with simplified instructions and ready-made preparations are apt to forget the debt we owe to these pioneers who first worked out experimentally the indications Dr. Steiner gave at Koberwitz in 1924.

Tributes were paid to Mrs. Pease, who for so many years has been a principal support and pivot of the bio-dynamic work in this country. For many members Bray has been rather inaccessible during the war, and everyone was particularly pleased that Mrs. Pease was able to come to London for the Duffy lectures and the Circle meeting.

Several members described their wartime farming and gardening experiences and Mr. Duffy gave some account of the Westhall Farm Schools, and the research work he hopes to initiate there.

There was a strong feeling among the members that some new positive and vigorous activity is required of us now that the paralysis of the war years is lifted. Partly as a wartime necessity this country has lately become compost-conscious, and is probably more open than it has ever been to new ways of thinking about the soil. It was agreed that the Experimental Circle should, from now on, meet at more frequent intervals, and that the members should try to bring to the September meeting some definite and practical suggestions for expanding and strengthening the agricultural work.

The second meeting was held at Rudolf Steiner House on Sunday morning, September 9th. Several constructive proposals were put forward by members.

Dr. Mier undertook to prepare a questionnaire to be sent to all members so that there might be available an up-to-date file of their numbers, their whereabouts and their activities.

Special interest was shown in Mr. Stuttaford’s plan for the establishment of a demonstration Bio-dynamic farm and training school in the London area, if possible near the new Michael Hall premises. A small group of members arranged to meet and study the possibilities.

The question of the relationship between the Experimental Circle, the Agricultural Foundation and the other Bio-dynamic groups in this country was raised by Mr. George Adams. It was proposed that there should be a weekend of meetings in which the situation could be reviewed, including a meeting of Foundation members and an open meeting for all groups and individuals associated with the Bio-dynamic movement. This was provisionally arranged for the weekend of October 20-21. Since then it has been found necessary to postpone the Foundation meeting, but the Experimental Circle, and probably other informal groups interested in the agricultural work, will meet during the week-end. Notices will be sent out when arrangements are complete.