Yarrow

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Mark
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Yarrow

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MICHAEL BATE
Michael Bate is former head gardener at the Weleda gardens in Ilkeston. He is also a member of BDA Certification Standards Committee.

To practise biodynamics, Rudolf Steiner indicated that it is not enough to use only the horn preparations, but the manure must be treated to revitalise the soil and replenish the forces that are used up in the course of growing. Of the six plants he suggested to be used in very small quantities to achieve this, three are from the Composite family. This is not surprising for the members of this family take their flowering to the highest development. Each flower is an inflorescence made up of many individual ray and tube flowers where the five petals are not united but grown together and the five stamens are likewise together and grown with the petals. They are an example of the individual growing in harmony with the community, as a pointer to the harmony of all the elements of the farm, or of the farm in its total environment.
Rudolf Steiner begins with Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. He commends it as a model for bringing sulphur and potassium into relationship with the elements of protein and also for how beneficial it is merely by its presence.

When we first come across Yarrow, we are amazed at how humble but steadfast it is, how down to earth it is, getting on with growing at its own measured pace It does not flaunt itself or draw attention to itself but just remains firm and solid, needing a closer inspection to reveal its true nature. It is like the person at a party that we do not really notice but replenishes everyone's drinks and nibbles to keep things flowing!

It is spread throughout Europe, in Asia as far as the western Himalayas and has thrived when introduced in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. It is very adaptable, growing in all kinds of soil; even pure clay, waysides, railway embankments, nearly everywhere inhabited by man. It climbs mountains, and does not mind drought, heat, cold, or snow but does not tolerate waterlogged conditions, and avoids the tropics. The seeds are achenes, typical of the Compositae; they are small dry thin-walled fruits. They need light to germinate and retain good germination capacity for three years. They stay on the plant for a long time surrounded by the involucre and drop now and again or when disturbed by animals and sheep.

A small rosette of deeply incised leaves forms by the autumn but the flowering stem does not shoot up until the following summer, growing up to 80cm. The main root is not long or wide and there are many long thin adventitious roots. These do not have hairs, and the plant relies on symbiotic mycorrhizae for the absorption of water and minerals- thus belonging to a network also benefiting other plants by its presence. From the rootstock, which is only a few centimetres tall, Yarrow forms stolons that grow horizontally and make rooting flowering shoots from the nodes.

The dark red to violet colouring at the base of these stolons shows the flowering impulse going right down into the root sphere.
The leaves, with their subdivisions, immediately show the influence of warm air and light by almost completely bypassing the stemming and spreading phases - the petioles rapidly diminishing and the leaflets tightly clasped to the central vein. They come alternately and sparsely up the rigid stem. The leaves then form a regular metamorphosis ending in a point. The stems remain strongly lignified with very fibrous tissue right up to beneath the flowers and mean that if you try to pull the flowers off, the whole plant may come with them! They do not branch much but separate out at the top to make a slightly curved corymb that makes a lot of people confuse Yarrow with the umbellifers.

The flower bud is surrounded by dark green to dark grey edged bracts, covered in fine silver hairs; these remain closed, hiding the transitions to fruiting. Each flower has five round small female white to carmine red ray flowers that open first, followed in the middle by approximately ten-pointed yellowish tube flowers. Clustered together, these composite heads form a "super flower."

After the fruits are formed the plant turns brown and the stems and seed capsules often persist intact right through the winter. If we eat our way from the roots to the flowers, we find that every part is salty and bitter with an aromatic and herby scent. No nectar is produced so insects are attracted by the scent, although the plant can pollinate itself.

The ash contains silica and an extraordinary amount of potassium. A blueish essential oil, oleum millefolii, richest in the inflorescence is one of the main constituents of the plant, along with resins, bitters, achillein-a tannin, salicylic acid and a light sensitive material.
Anthocyanin is a flower colouring whose red appearance pervades the whole plant-rootstock, stolons, stem, leaf midrib, and ray flowers; it is known that this substance can transform light into warmth - providing yarrow with a kind of coat allowing it to survive in colder environments.

Medicinally, Yarrow is used to stimulate the metabolism, the appetite, strengthen the stomach and enhance liver function. However, Yarrow gets its Latin name from the fact that Achilles used it to staunch the wounds of his soldiers in battle and stop haemorrhages.
It has always been known for its wound healing properties. Rudolf Steiner made it part of the Weleda medicine called Menodoron for regulating menstruation, He also indicated it for weaknesses of the astral body, exhibited by cramps Sulphur is always together with other substances; the sulphur process is found wherever substances are refined until they become an image of something spiritual; indicating e spiritual formative principle at work, especially obvious in the flowering very much associated with warmth and volatilising. We see this strongly in Yarrow in the super flowering, the colour that permeates the whole plant right down to the stolons, the oils with taste and scent, and in the deeply incised leaves.

The potassium process, always associated with vegetative renewal (the tendency to create mass concentrated into sturdy forms, predominantly apparent in early growth of stems and leaves where plant substances are built up and densified), we see here accentuated in the rigidity of the stems right into the spreading out of the inflorescence structure; the sprouting from the stolons, the holding back of development until midsummer, and the persistence of the plant skeleton These two processes are very much intertwined in Yarrow The plant also shows its remarkable adaptability in the way it copes with its environment.

How to preserve and enhance these qualities for the compost/ manure? By putting the flowers into a stag's bladder! But that is another story...

1. Principles of Biodynamic Spray and Compost Preparations, Manfred Klett 2006 Floris
Mark
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Glen on Yarrow

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What is the role of the yarrow preparation?

In the Ag course piece (Lecture 5) – for me the main line in this text is “it can set right all troubles which are caused by any weakness in the astral body, “…… The real question that arises from all of RS statements about the preps energetic activities is ‘How is this achieved?’ Does it strengthen the Astral body, or does it effect the relationship between the Astral body and the Etheric? ………..

The medical lectures give a good picture of the kidney bladder system, as the place the World Astrality is received and processed into our metabolic / physical being. If this process is malfunctioning then all manner of psychological problems will arise for the individual, not to mention the physical problems such as stones, shrunken kidney, and nitrate poisoning.

My ‘Equisetum and Fungus’ article gives a RS look at the kidney, but in this case RS is suggesting Equisetum (Eq Av) rather than Yarrow. In this exploration we can see Eq Av is used to stimulate the Internal Astral activity against the ‘World” Astral. So we can say of Eq Av “it can set right all troubles which are caused by any weakness in the astral body,”. Also, however this is done in a very different way by Yarrow than that done by Eq Av……. Lievegoed – gives a very good image of the Yarrow prep, with the outcome being that 502 ‘opens up the Etheric to the inward moving Astrality’.

In the medical lectures RS talks in several places of how the Physical and Etheric bodies block off the Astral and Spirit from combining with them. It is Yarrow that opens up the Etheric body, so that the Astrality can be received. This is a Venus gesture, where the Venus creates environments and situations for people to interact. Observe your Libran and to a lesser degree your Taurus friends. 502 is creating space for something to occur, rather than strengthening the Astrality to push through the barrier, which is more of a Eq Av activity.

Nettle comes into this play, as well, by harmonising an overly active Astrality that is too strong and over powering / pushing the Etheric. I see it as pulling the Astral off, while Yarrow is opening from below, to receive the ‘fructifying’ astrality.

These three preps ‘harmonise the middle’……The role of the stag in particular, as the polar complement to the cow, has the metabolic processes, created by the interplay of the metabolic Astral \ Cosmic Substance and the metabolic etheric / Earthly Forces, that work forwards and are then reflected back to the metabolism by the cow horns – in the stag, flow outwards via the antlers, providing it with a sensitive metabolic clairvoyance.

This is also true of a source of clairvoyance in humans. Hence the stag has a particularly fine relationship to the integration of the astrality, and this is concentrated in its kidney bladder system.

I could go on how Potassium and Sulphur are elements of the Etheric / Astral interplay from my chemistry, but that is a more complicated story.

So with 502: “it can set right all troubles which are caused by any weakness in the astral body,” by opening the Etheric from below, to receive the astrality when it is too weak to penetrate deeply enough to combine with the Etheric.This action will influence all manner of insect attacks, pollination problems, as well as fruit sizing and flavour issues.

Regarding Potassium (K) and Sulphur (S) – see AllinOne Periodic
We find K as an electrolyte in the inner cellular fluids, as well as part of the electrical conductivity in the nerve synapse. As an alkali element it is also functional in the flowing of water within a living system. So it is an element that controls the energetic movement (astrality) within the water sphere (etheric).

We see this imaged in the Energetic Periodic Table in two ways. At the second stage of the organisation we see K as helping the Cosmic Etheric work into the World Etheric, imaging its water controlling activity, and suggesting a very good point to activate if one wishes to ‘make rain’. While at the third ‘Manifest’ stage of the Periodic organisation, it is on the positive cation side of the Astral arm. This emphasises its role in the conveyance of the life energy – EM – within living organisms, both within cells and nerve synapse .

In both cases we see K working with the Etheric Astral interface.

Sulphur on the other hand is found as a chemical catalyst in many biochemical functions within living systems. RS characterises it as the ‘oil’ that allows the elements of protein to function together or not. Too much S and we have Hysteria – too loose interaction of the bodies – and too little S, and we have autism – the bodies become stuck. S is a facilitator of living processes within the physical sphere.

In the Energetic Periodic Table (EPT) , at level two, it is the element of how the Internal Astrality incorporates into the Cosmic Physical sphere. Hence this is the Astral stimulus for ‘things’ to integrate into matter. What ‘things’? At level three of the EPT Sulphur is on the Negative Anion side of the Etheric arm. This brings its Astral / movement active of level two into the ‘Manifest’ Etheric sphere, hence the ‘things’ it is moving is the Etheric, meaning S helps the life processes work into the Physical sphere.

Yarrow by working with these two elements, helps the Etheric and Astral work together, but from the Etheric side of the equation.
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Enzo's contribution on yarrow / 502

Post by Mark »

"In the animal and human worlds, yarrow is able to improve everything that stems from a weakness of astral body. This ability derives from its connection with Venus and with the Virgin. Let us not forget that our astral body has a point of connection with the physical body in the kidneys which are the bearers of the forces of Venus within us." Commentary p175

"In this drawing is the whole history of humanity and in the middle is the 502, the preparation that opens the door between Heaven and Earth, between macrocosm and microcosm... When we put a seed in the soil the yarrow preparation allows the ancestral archetypal force (spiritual principle) and the idea (soul force) to approach fully and to manifest completely in the plant that will emerge. The yarrow, in other words, is the door of life from the point of view both of the substance and the form. ... A full understanding of this preparation requires, however, a grasp of at least four points of view. The preparation of yarrow, seen in its connection with potassium, acts on the physical level on the roots and supporting tissues bringing a vertical impulse in the woody part of the plant. From this point of view all the plants that are unable to carry themselves such as the vine and cucurbits betray a lack of these forces. We have said that yarrow is linked to Venus that acts on the physical level in cellular nutrition and maximising the impact of food. On the etheric level 502 favours the whole cosmic nutrition of the soil. In this sense it is more associated to Mercury II, the formative forces of vortices. On the astral plane it promotes flowering. 502 is the basis of the homeodynamic product that we called ‘Pro Flowering’. On this level the descent of the idea into the seed is also favored. On the spiritual level 502 connects the plant with its Ego Group." Commentary p178-9
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