The November dispatch from the Wilderness of Wish
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Changing Light

photo: biodynamic horn perparation, Brian C 

Now that we have "fallen back" into winter, here at the Wilderness of Wish our minds have turned to rituals for holding light and warmth within us during the dark, cold days ahead. I asked Caitlin Van Dusen, our resident Anthroposophist, to muse on the changing light. 

In biodynamic agriculture, developed in the 1920s by philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner, autumn is when farmers make medicines for the earth containing fruits of the warmer months, which they bury underground for the winter and dig up in the spring. Among these are a cow’s horn filled with cow dung, a cow’s skull filled with oak bark, a cow’s mesentery filled with dried dandelions, and a stag’s bladder filled with dried yarrow flowers. The flowers are harvested in summer; as they ferment in the layers of the frozen ground their life force transforms, much as ours can during the winter months.

photo: Brian Graf, from the Wildlife Analysis series

Another ritual we love is the lantern walks that commemorate Martinmas, an ancient agrarian celebration that marks the end of fieldwork and the beginning of the harvest. Children carrying homemade candlelit lanterns parade through the evening, singing songs. Even today Martinmas is celebrated in Waldorf education, another of Steiner’s innovations. In addition to quite literally bringing light into the darkness, the ritual also reminds us that we each have a unique light within us, and that it is our task to carry this light into the world. 

photo: Martinmas lanterns via Kleas

Winter is the perfect time to cultivate our inner light, as one of our favorite poets, Stanley Kunitz, reminds us in his poem “The Layers”:

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes. 

You can find copies of The Wild Braid, Kunitz's reflections on a life of growing things, in the shop.

- Caitlin Van Dusen, Wilderness of Wish

Our cow-bone handled knives are for sale here

Our copies of The Wild Braid are available here

House sparklers are lit here (outside our studio)
Copyright © 2013 Wilderness of Wish, All rights reserved.

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