The Happy Farmer
Singing and Biodynamic Practice
In April, 2002, about a dozen participants of the Goethean Studies programme, their friends and families met at a desolate, highly salinated piece of farmland about 2 hours east of Perth, armed with a water tank, a plastic bucket each and a jar of ‘500’ preparation (specially prepared biodynamic cow manure). We intended to spray the land annually as part of the on-going Veridian Project, in order to see what the effect might be.
Before we set out, we formed a circle and sang. We also stamped, clapped, laughed and generally had a jolly good time. Spirits were high. Hearts, heads and hands were connecting beautifully. Then someone suggested we pause for a moment to feel the energy in our fingertips, and from the earth beneath our feet. The energy was tangible, “streaming”, strong.
Ten minutes later we plunged those highly charged fingers into our buckets of diluted ‘500’ and stirred for an hour, before spraying. The water felt so energized. The preparation was obviously working. But I wondered- what about the human element? Had our singing and high spirits also charged the water?
Is there a connection between singing and farming?
Old cultures have known for thousands of years there is a connection. They intuitively knew how to ‘sing the land’. In Aboriginal Australia, the land and the song line were intricately interwoven. Every feature of the landscape had its living song. To keep the song alive was to keep the land alive. In other cultures, people still work the land with a song each day- from the potato fields of Jamaica to the beaches of the Pacific islands- or think of the old slave songs of the US cotton-fields. Sometimes the ‘song of the land’ may be heard through a musical instrument- the idyllic picture of the shepherd is not complete without a lyre or a flute, nor is a picture of the Swiss countryside complete without an alphorn or a yodeler. In ancient India and China the relationship between music and environment became a science. Certain melodies, ‘ragas’, and notes were reserved for certain weather patterns, certain seasons or certain times of day or month. The great Chinese emperors would never think to rule their empire without first tuning their orchestra to the great cosmic note, the ‘Huang Chung’- sometimes ten thousand players were required to harmonize the empire! Old cultures instinctively knew there was a relationship between land and song.
How can it be that song affects the land?
Well, for a start, singing makes you happy. Try singing when you’re down, depressed, worried, stressed. It lifts the spirits. It gets you into your heart and lungs, and out of your head. It gives you a voice to air your ‘stuff’. Even a sad song will provide comfort and tend to balance out the emotions. Singing forces you to breathe more. It literally forces your head/skull, dense with thought, worry and fear, to vibrate with music! Many cultures use singing as a means of raising consciousness. It fills the empty spaces, inside and outside, with life. It enlivens and energizes.
Singing also affects the environment. Even conventional science has shown that plants grow better when they ‘hear’ Mozart. The latest research tells us that certain ‘songs’, such as Gregorian chant and Sanskrit mantra can transform a living entity right down to its DNA structure. There is an ashram in India where mantras are played through loud speakers throughout the gardens. The ashram is an oasis of green, full of lush, exotic plants, while outside the gates it is treeless and barren. And Prince Charles admits to talking to his plants, so it must work! (He should try singing.)
Nature and singing have common roots. They are governed by the same laws. They complement each other. In music theory, the laws of harmony are governed by mathematical principles- simple ratios that are abundant in nature. You only have to look at the proportions of a tree or an insect to see music theory in action: the laws of harmony. The distances and speeds of the planets above are dictated by the same mathematical/musical principles. It is the ‘music of the spheres’- the cosmic symphony. Working with these laws, whether in nature, music, astrology or mathematics has a very harmonizing effect.
Now picture the typical modern farmer- surrounded by his noisy machines, tractors, harvesters, crop-dusters, armed with his pesticides and chemicals. Does the typical farmer sing? Or has the cosmic symphony been silenced within him? Does he prefer the dead, physical, chemical, to the living breathing, musical?
Biodynamic farming provides an alternative to the typical modern farmer. It goes beyond the lifeless, physical elements. It works with the living, breathing and, in a sense, musical: in that it takes the cosmic symphony into account. It uses the rhythms of the moon, sun and planets to its advantage. Its pinnacle is: man. Because only conscious man can take all the various living elements and rhythms and combine them so that nature healthily evolves in a way it cannot achieve by itself. It is truly the farming method for the Age of Consciousness. Ideally, biodynamic preparations are made and stirred by hand, not machine, so that everything that goes into the ground has been infused with the ‘stuff of man’: consciousness. The more conscious is man, the more successful is his biodynamic farm.
Singing. Only man can do it. It requires consciousness. It raises consciousness. The archetypical qualities of song are the hallmark of man. When man sings, he leaves his mark.
The biodynamic farmer wants to become more conscious and he wants his land to hear the cosmic song. Putting two and two together then, have we discovered (or rather, rediscovered) a new experimental ingredient to the biodynamic farm?
In attempting to raise his own level of consciousness and infuse his farm with cosmic music, the farmer may like to experiment with the simple art of singing. His ancestors have done it. Science shows it works. The only thing he has to lose is his shyness.
Once he has gotten the modern stereotyped message of ‘real farmers don’t sing’ out of his head, he may ask: “Well, what do I sing? What key? What language? Is Beyonce OK? Can I play my harmonica instead?” -to which the answer is: do whatever feels right. You too are part of the creation. The cosmos is always singing through you. When you stick your hand in a bucketful of fermented cow poo, the cosmic song becomes amplified. Listen for a while. Let the silence become alive. Then begin to tone or hum. What comes out? Have a giggle if you need to, then sing. Go with the flow. Keep open and light.
And whatever you do, don’t get too serious. You might be starting a new farming revolution, but you probably don’t want the neighbours to hear!
Paul Lawrence, 2003, edited 2020