Old Midsummer Day today, a potent magical day, often associated with Fairies. There are stories that farmers would leave gates open so fairies could traverse their routes across the fields. It is also the Feast of St John the Baptist – the solar flowers of St John’s wort would be worn in garlands- don’t lose your head!
My friend Caroline Wise wrote this; I’d forgotten about the farmers leaving gates open for the Faer Folk to walk their lands. Next year I’ll make sure I do that for my garden.
In biodynamics people talk about elements and elementals but how many are brave enough to actually accept, or admit openly, that the Gnomes, Ondines, Sylphs and Salamanders they talk about are real, not archetypes to be talked about or some other thing that puts a distance between themselves and reality? The thesaurus gives the following for the word archetype … models, epitomes, prototypes, originals, prime, example. Most people only feel comfortable with the first of these words – models – and use it in terms of an idea, concept of the elementals, not that they are real beings. When Jung brought the word into the general vocabulary, through his main themes, he was certainly not meaning anything so narrow. He was taking archetypes as being the essences, the personifications and embodiments of Spirit … which is what the elementals that we work with in biodynamics are.
We may well see them as Arthur Rackham style figures. Don’t mock that nor think they are only for children and romantics. Rackham, like his contemporaries John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Dadd and others painted from life, they saw what they painted. Seeing the elementals as fairy folk should not denigrate them for us, nor make working biodynamically something to be ashamed of or hide from our friends. Our ancestors saw them, even going back only as far as the 1950s and 60s when my farming and gardening uncles introduced me to them. Awenyddion, British shamans such as my hard-working uncles and father were, have never been gab-mouthed about the things they see and do but they were always willing to talk to you if you really seemed interested and unlikely to mock or act superior.
It makes a difference to your life and the life of your garden if you are willing to open up enough to accept the elementals as real. I’ve met many folk who say, after a little time in my garden and maybe a cup of tea, “I wish I could see them …” It often sounds wistful and is usually in a semi-whisper. I do my best to assure them they can, if they really wish to.
That’s the thing. You have to really wish to and make sure the elementals know that you do. Then you have to learn to see. It’s unlikely the Faer Folk will put on a full Hollywood production! You have to be aware, to notice little things. It may be that you keep getting flickers of light at the corner of your eye, noticing things flashing past nut unable to keep up with them to see them. Often the elementals appear to be very fast to our untutored eye, we have to get out eye in. Part of learning to do this is not to write off flashes and flickers and unexplained things in the manner we’ve mostly been taught to do in modern society. You have to cut that mode of thinking and allow that there might be something unexplained happening, something the TV programmes can’t account for. Yes, there really is life beyond the stuff we’re given on the TV! What was it Hamlet said?
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
“as a stranger” … mmm! Yes, to us at first, the elements are strangers; we’ve not met them before, we have all the usually prickly, not-quite-sure feeling we get when we meet someone new that we can’t instantly fathom.
The Celtic tradition, indeed the tradition of most shamanic peoples, was that the stranger was always the guest, always welcomed, invited in, given food and shelter and warmth. That applied to all, including the Faer Folk. In those times the enemy was far more likely to be someone you knew rather than the stranger. That’s actually still true today; e.g. incest is far more likely to be committed by a family member than an outsider; however we now prefer to think of the stranger as being the enemy and this carries over to anything unknown including elementals.
To see the elementals you need to turn this habit of thought around; to follow Hamlet’s advice and give the stranger welcome. There are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our everyday philosophies. Allow yourself to see the flashes, query them gently, ponder on them, notice when, where and how they happen; make correlations in your own mind. Gradually there will be enough in your mind-cauldron to spark understanding and recognition. It’s not a kids’ instant gratification thing; it takes time and patience and work on your part but the result is so worthwhile.
Try it. Then next summer, next midsummer day when the sun begins to move on again from the solstice standstill, next 24th of June, you too can leave your garden gates open and ask the elementals to walk your land with blessings.