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Archive for November, 2014

Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Eurythmy Prayer.

A Eurythmy movement to move alone or share with your loved ones.

 

For the dark earth that cradles the seed,

For the rain that brings forth the green leaves,

For the stars that give form to the flowers,

For the warm sun that ripens the fruit,

For all this goodness and beauty,

Father-mother God, we thank Thee.

 

This lovely table blessing lends itself beautifully to eurythmy, and can be done by beginners or experienced eurythmists. If you are inspired by the words, take a few moments to let the pictures come alive inside you. See the rich black soil moistened with rain, the seed hull softening until the tender roots and the first leaves unfold. Watch how the plant is held and supported in its life cycles through the cycles of nature. As you do so, practice concentrating your forces of attention and enlivening your thinking. Allow the experience of deep thanksgiving and gratitude flood your soul.

Would you like to try moving this in eurythmy? I will find it difficult to explain to you how to move this in language, but let’s give it a try.

The art and prayer of eurythmy entails letting the inner life of a poem become visible throughout your whole being–spirit, soul and body. As a eurythmist, you will easily feel that the living pictures of this prayer expand and contract throughout the entire poem. If you are only starting your eurythmy practice, you can move this with simple, breathing gestures. If you have already learned how to make the sounds of language come alive through gesture, you can weave the sound-gestures into your movements.

Because this is a poem about the gentle forces of a plant, you can allow your arms gestures to weave in living, etheric fields. Begin with the first four lines like this.

1: Dark earth—open. Seed–close

2: Rain—open. Green leaves—close

3: Stars—open. Flower—close

4: Warm sun—open. Fruit—close

Now go further, and use the different zones of below, middle and above to help your expression.

1. Begin with the first line: envision the dark earth and spread your arms wide below you, then picture the seed, and bring your hands together, cupped around a seed.

2. For the second line, raise your arms and spread them wide around you as you picture the blessings of rain, and then picture green leaves and stems and bring your hands together, cupped around the unfolding plant.

3. For the third line, lift your arms high to the stars, far beyond your hands, imagining the wisdom of geometric forces weaving a web around the earth. Then cup your hands around a flower, imagining its perfect miniature star shape.

4. Now imagine the deep warmth of a summer day, and spread your arms wide, and then gather that warmth and bring it to the fruit of the plant that will bear the new seeds.

Finally, after all of these polarities, the last two lines breathe differently. Now we focus on virtues of the soul instead of on nature forces. Spread your arms wide to open to goodness and beauty, and then imagine even larger universes for “Father-mother God.” Then,in this sequence, the word “we” becomes microcosmic, being personal and of this world, so bring your arms to your heart for “we.” And finally, lift your heart and arms to the heavens again for “thee.

Even such a simple exercise as this will be a great beginning for your eurythmy journey. You become enlivened in your mind, you feel the dynamics, and you move your body. You become quiet and attentive, and breathe more deeply.

Bring the verse into movement: If you would like to go even deeper with this process, you can start to move with your whole body, and walk backwards and forwards as you expand and contract. That is to say, when you walk backwards you can feel the great mysteries behind you, and when you walk forwards you find your way into the things of this sense world. It will suffice to take only one or two steps.

The dynamic power of language: You will notice that we began by experiencing the nouns. Now, to bring it even more alive eurythmically, notice the dynamic of the verbs in the poem, and how they carry the activity of the nature forces to the small plant. As you move from large to small, again and again, catch the energy of each verb in your movements. How is cradling different from ripening? As you walk forwards and backwards, use different images, different speeds and different energies to connect the universe and the plant.

Create a form for the movement: If you like, create spirals and star forms for the different lines as you move forwards and backwards

Beyond dance: making speech visible. Eurythmy actually unveils its true power once we start working with the sounds of language. If you are able to do a few sounds, begin with these:

For the dark earth that cradles the seed: D ā S (dark, cradles, seed) (S going down)

For the rain that brings forth the green leaves: R BF L (rain, brings forth, leaves)

For the stars that give form to the flowers: ST F L (stars, form, flowers) (S going up)

For the warm sun that ripens the fruit: S P F U (Sun, ripens, fruit) (S going up)

For all this goodness and beauty: Ah U U (all, goodness (down), beauty (up))

Father-Mother God, we thank Thee: Ah, ee, ee (father-mother-God, we (left arm up) Thee (right arm up))

Dear readers, please accept this bold attempt to describe for you in written text how to do a poem in eurythmy in the spirit it is intended—-as part of my commitment to find ways to empower everyone to weave eurythmy into their personal lives! Yet I promise you that the activity is hugely creative, joyful and regenerative if you join in a live class somewhere, wherever you live!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish you the best of holidays.

 

Thanksgiving for Living Food: Eurythmy and Biodynamics

 Report from the National Biodynamic Conference in Louisville, Kentucky

                                                 “Spirit is never without matter: matter never without spirit.”

     These words by Rudolf Steiner were never far from our minds at last week’s biannual National Biodynamic Conference in Louisville, KY, attended by 600-700 farmers, gardeners, physicians, microbiologists, pharmacists, ecologists, and economists. We were a mixed crowd of barefoot farmers, urban sophisticates and small-town families, gathered to address the urgent needs of our planet, our soils, our food systems and our bodies. Our focus was profound question of how to use the anthroposophically inspired insights of BD to teach us how to bring spirit and matter into right relationship. My husband and I were both presenters at the conference, offering eurythmy, lectures and workshops.
     A “sister movement” to Eurythmy, Biodynamic agriculture is a way of farming that understands how to work with the dynamic interplay of spirit and matter to create truly healthy ecosystems. Biodynamics has techniques far beyond the ethos of “do-no-harm:” it actually heals and revitalizes impoverished soils and enables plants, animals and humans to thrive.
     One of the fundamental understandings that inspires my work with eurythmy is the consideration of how spirit and matter are interrelated. Spirit is close to source, full of fire, consciousness and original creative intent. Matter is its image, its complement: matter is spirit that has evolved through time and space to become independent, cool and dense.
     In our eurythmy practice, we learn to ground ourselves in spirit self-awareness, and work out of that mindfulness into our body to create health and well-being. Through the practices of Biodynamics, we find other techniques to bring spirit and matter into balance. For instance, BD practitioners understand how to use the rhythmic interplay of spirit and matter that are revealed in the rhythms of the seasons, of day and night, of the moon and planets. They work with the forces of light and darkness, of crystals and manures, to enhance the effects of sunlight and photosynthesis and of darkness and soil heath.
     They also understand how to work with the forces of life, a field that is not yet accessible to conventional scientists. To be truly healthy, a plant must be filled with life forces, so it will have strong cells, build stems that can stand up in wind and rain, have long shelf lives and impart true vitality to animals and humans. This health is only created if the plant grows in healthy soil, rich in the microbial milieu created through the use of Biodynamic practices. Then the plant can perceive and absorb what is needs through the roots and transform light through the leaves. Soils treated with artificial chemicals and pesticides, on the other hand, create plants that are weak and sickly.
     My husband is a specialist in the making and use of compost, understanding how to take decaying plant and animal waste and turn it into rich, loamy humus, augmented by the powerful biodynamic compost preparations that inoculate the piles with homeopathic herbal remedies. His compost piles remind me of a holy altar, and he works with them like a priest, at the threshold of life and death. Plants grown in his soil feel confident in their ability to pick up soil nutrients through their root hairs: they grow strong and green and vital.
     This conference powerfully underscored the need for such an agriculture to address the needs of planetary ecosystems.  Not only the airs and the oceans, but also the soils are collapsing: scientists are speaking of a “silent spring of the microbial world.” This collapse has a statistically direct correspondence with the rise in allergies in children and adults. What we are doing to our soils is immediately revealed in what happens in our stomach. Conventionally grown food no longer offers true nutrition: I heard in this conference that we now must eat 5 oranges to receive the same nutritive value that our grandparents could get from one orange!
     It is not only bodily health that we get from food: Rudolf Steiner was once asked why is it so difficult for human beings to do their spiritual work?  And his answer—almost 100 years ago—was that the food itself did not impart the strength people need for their consciousness.
     My husband and I are so lucky to be able to share our life work in the parallel tasks of Eurythmy and Biodynamics. We are both stewards of the forces of life: I through the movement art of eurythmy and he through the tremendous art of service to the land in biodynamic agriculture.
     It was hugely inspiring to be able to share conversations, workshops, and friendship with this fellowship of BD practitioners. Whether in poverty or wealth, in cities or on the land, they share a deep commitment to serve the planet, including its soils, its plants, its animals, and its humans, through their loving hard labor.
     And I believe that through our consciousness of giving thanks when we eat, we sanctify the food and the spirit that has made it.
     Please join me in giving thanks for the web of spirit and matter, the foundation of our human existence.