Unit Overview: The learner will be encouraged to consider and discover the daily, monthly and seasonal rhythms and movements of our planetary system and how they affect life on Earth. The ability to understand and utilise these rhythms and forces for land based activities are explored in this unit.
1.1 Illustrate our planetary system from a heliocentric and geocentric point of view
2.1 Describe the effect of moon rhythms on plant development
The Effects of the Moon
'In its 27 day orbit around the Earth, the Moon passes through the constellations of the zodiac and transmits forces to the Earth which affect the four elements: Earth, Light (Air), Water and Warmth (Fire). They in turn affect the four parts of the plant: the roots, the flower, the leaves and the fruit or seeds. The health and growth of the plant can therefore be stimulated by sowing, cultivating and harvesting in tune with the cycles of the moon' The Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar p26
2.2 Illustrate the phenomena of sun and moon eclipses
3.1 Demonstrate the ability to use the indications of a sowing calendar for land based activities
I would point to evidence of spraying Biodynamic preparations such as 500 and 501. Furthermore the compost preparations used consistently. Furthermore the harvesting of crops and the planning and development of the whole horticulture area.
3.2 Understand the use of the rhythms in practical agricultural activities on the holding
It is in no doubt that there are both daily, seasonal and even longer term rhythms that have been understood by humanity for countless centuries and which have inspired certain key monuments of civilisation such as Stonehenge. These rhythms are governed by the movements of the Earth. Across the world, different cultures have marked key seasonal points with buildings, sacred sites and festivals. Later these festivals were appropriated by such belief systems as Christianity and were formed into celebrations for different purposes. Eg. The shortest day December 21st was a pagan celebration marking the turning of the year, whereas it was to become associated with Christmas Day, the birth of Christ. There are numerous other examples. In Biodynamics, the natural rhythms that exist can be categorised into...
Morning - The Earth breathes out - the best time to apply nettle or comfrey plant 'teas' and also horn silica 501. The aim is to help plants grow upwards and outwards. At the Eyam site we stir and spray very early in the morning.
Evening - The Earth breathes in - Digging the soil ready for planting or for planting itself. Sprays intended for the soil, like liquid manures or horn manure 500 can be sprayed. The aim is for the soil to inhale the positive properties of the preparation so it can ultimately take effect on the plant.
Autumn The Earth breathes in - Sprays intended for the nourishment of the soil such as liquid manures or biodynamic soil sprays such as horn manure 500 or CPP should be used.
Spring and Summer The Earth breathes out. Spraying 501 is appropriate. The 'atmosphere' sprays are best used at this time.
At Eyam it is impossible to ignore the rhythms of the seasons because they have such a stark effect on the landscape. As the leaves fall in the autumn we busily gather the leaves and bag them up to rot down over the winter. These can be used as an addition to the compost heaps or used as a mulch. This helps to teach students about the recycling systems of nature and feeds into the notion of the farm organism as a whole entity. It also helps them understand the compost building process in the 'Compost Classroom'
It is useful to explore the 'Learning' section of the website, because it contains seasonal calendars for each of the crafts that we practice at the Eyam site. The seasonal 'wheels' demonstrate the ways in which seasonality can inform the curriculum across a range of areas. These have been designed to celebrate the natural resources that the seasons bring, and help students to understand how these resources might be used to create and build upon the site.
4.1 Explore the relationship between a traditional festival and the associated qualities of the season
Let us look at a traditional festival to explore the way that it links into the seasons:
Michaelmas falling on the 29th September is associated with the Autumn Equinox. It used to be said that the harvest had to be complete by then. This is linked with the onset of shorter days, less light and warmth and less growth. Saint Michael in Christian belief was a warrior angel and battled against the darkness and the Devil. This is where the name originated.
It is clear to see how the changing of the seasons and the seasonal rhythms that exist have morphed into other belief systems as time has gone on. Traditions and ancient festivals have been changed and given new meanings by different groups. From the perspective of the Biodynamic farmer, the more ancient reasons for such festivals are probably more significant. So we should probably focus on the harvest and the shortening day.
The seasonal rhythms of spring, summer, autumn and winter occur because the Earth orbits the sun at a slight angle. The start of each new season is marked by four special days:
Over time festivals have been developed around these dates.
4.2 Help to organise a festival on the holding
I arranged a festival to celebrate Candlemass. This was a successful event
© Brantwood Specialist School
Created by Jim Hildyard