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Soulful Reflections

August 3, 2015

By Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

For the last five years of her husband’s life, my neighbor sat next to him reading as he dozed in his recliner. He had been a feisty, skilled farmer. Now he barely spoke. The last Christmas he was alive, she made him his favorite cake: fresh apple cake with black walnuts. He ate one piece. Perhaps she knew on some level that he was dying. That January, he had heart surgery. He died 16 days later.

white rose farm - cow and calfI relate that image to my work on the farm this year. I am attending to the health of a loved one: the farm. I focus on keeping its rhythms going in the midst of chaotic weather. I remember how my father’s vital signs became erratic as he approached death with Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, he could no longer regulate his own temperature. He died the next morning.

Imagine the farm as a living organism, said Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture. The farmer brings the farm to life and orchestrates how animals and plants work together in harmony.

white rose farm - chicken in flowersWhen I came to the farm eleven years ago, the land had been rented for years. I worked hard to improve the soil. I fixed fences, repaired buildings, and planted trees, flowers, and herbs. I tended animals. I sold produce, meat, and eggs. I kept the words beauty, bounty, and balance as touchstones for my work. Two years ago, the farm’s energy changed; it began to feel whole, to have its own unique presence, its own soul. Visitors felt it; I did too. Now this farm is one in a worldwide network of biodynamic farms that promotes a connection between forces of Heaven and Earth as erratic weather buffets the world.

This year, we have had sudden, strong storms, driving rain, and circling tornado-style winds. May was dry and hot; June the rainiest month on record. Storms came unexpectedly; predicted storms dissipated before they arrived.

In his book, Climate: Soul of the Earth, Dennis Klocek notes that the Greeks found the concepts of wind, breath, soul, air, vapor, and vital principle all had an underlying commonality—they were all related. During the Middle Ages, he writes, the human soul was known as the “air body.” Likewise, the air, or atmosphere, was considered the soul body of the Earth. World-class gardener Alan Chadwick spoke of the importance of air in maintaining health in humans and plants.

white rose farm- geese and buildingI check the weather channel often. In June, the forecasters predicted one severe storm after another. They did not reference the soul of the Earth, nor have I heard anyone connect weather as an expression of the Earth’s soul with our own soul development. As I have worked in my garden this year, I have wondered: could they be related? What is the essential commonality?

“Nature…surely takes our breath away; old breath, stale breath, leaving us full of fresh Air. Life is curved, moves in swirls. Wind and Water borne. We are children of Earth’s Weather,” writes Skye ann louise Taylor in her book, A Monk in the Beehive.

white rose farm - sally with pigsPerhaps we now can take some responsibility for the soul of the Earth. I am now tending the garden and the animals to maintain the farm’s dynamic life force. I am working harder and getting less produce, but what is more important than the underlying rhythm of life itself​​? What are we without wind, breath, soul, air, vapor, and vitality? Other farmers are using hydroponics, greenhouses, and hoop houses to grow food under controlled conditions. They are growing food that feeds us physically. I now know that our souls are nourished when we grow and eat food that has a vital connection with the flow of energy into and out of the Earth.

Are we connecting with the life force that sustains the natural world? What can we do to right the imbalances that we have created in our culture and in our world? We must find our own soulful answers. Perhaps it is as simple as connecting with some aspect of Nature every day—a bird, a tree, a flower, vital food.

As we do our own soul’s work, we may restore our climate: the soul of the Earth.


Sally Voris farms at White Rose Farm in Taneytown, MD. Sally combines gardening, storytelling and writing, teaching and organizing. She has been recognized regionally and nationally for work sharing the stories of her home community of Elkridge and the Patapsco Valley. Sally completed a year-long part-time training program in biodynamic agriculture at The Pfeiffer Center in New York in 2008, and the farm was recognized as a mentor farm for the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Training Program (NABDAP) in 2010.

The photos are from the May 2015 Chesapeake BioDynamic Network meeting at her farm, courtesy of Ingrid Cowan Hess.

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