TODAY’S THE DAY!!! Preparation 500!   September 22, 2010 @ 7:28 A.M.      Burying cow horns on the Autumnal Equinox – SPIRITUAL MANURE!

Here is the very essence of Biodynamics.  Preparation 500 is the burying of cow horns, probably the most visible and controversial of the nine preparations.  To be a Biodynamic farmer you must be certified by Demeter USA, and Demeter USA is an absolute follower of Rudolf Steiner.  Demeter USA requires the use of preparation 500 and 501 at least annually.  There is no such thing as being “Biodynamic lite”.

 A Biodynamic practitioner obtains a cow horn, stuffs it full of cow manure and buries it on or around the autumnal equinox.  On or around the spring equinox, it is dug up and the “horn manure” is made into a highly diluted (homeopathic) spray that when applied to your fields enlivens it with cosmic forces. It’s all bull manure to me, but Biodynamic farmers like Mike Benziger claim they use Preparation 500 “because it works!”

 But don’t trust me; let’s go to the original material: What does Herr Steiner have to say during his Lecture Four, June 12, 1924, pages 64-74.  This is a longer post than most, and there are more quotes from Steiner, but understanding preparation 500 is at the center of Biodynamics and we should deal with it as completely as this format will allow.   But first, a note for Americans by Herr Steiner when he was asked the following question following the lecture:

 “Where can we get the cow horns?  Do they have to come from Eastern or Central Europe?”

 Steiner:  “Life in Africa, Asia, and Europe has a totally different significance than life in America.  So it is possible that horns from American cattle would have to be treated somewhat differently to make them effective.…”   (Most cows after three or four years of living in one place) “belong to that land, unless they are Western cattle.”³   Note 3 says “Western cattle may adapt more slowly because their bodies are especially “dense”; the bodies of human beings in America are described by Steiner as being “very, very, dense” (1921, Jan. 6).”


 “You see, if we want to manage things properly in the various domains of agriculture, it is certainly necessary to have insight into the way substances and forces work, and also into the way the spirit works.…  We must recognize that fertilizing must consist of enlivening the soil, so that the plant is not in dead soil…”

 “Have you ever thought about why cows have horns, but certain other animals have antlers?  Remember that I said that something living need not have (cosmic) forces that only stream outward, it can also have forces that stream inward.  What happens at the places where the horns and hoofs grow?  At these places the streams (cosmic forces) are especially strongly turned back inward, and the outside is particularly strongly shut off.  All outward communication, such as can occur through skin or hair, is completely ruled out.  In this way, the development of the horns and hoofs is connected to the form and development of the animal as a whole.”

 “Antler formation is something totally different.  In the case of antlers, the streams (cosmic forces) are not directed back into the organism; instead the antlers serve as outlets so that certain streams can be led outward for a ways and discharged there.”

 “A cow has horns in order to send the formative astral-etheric forces back into its digestive system, so that much work can be accomplished there by means of these radiations from the horns and hoofs.  So you see, there is something inherent  in a horn that makes it well-suited for reflecting living and astral influences back into the activity of the interior.  In a horn you have something that can radiate life, and even astrality. 

“Next let us take the manure, in whatever form is available, and stuff it into a cow horn, and bury it in the ground at a certain depth – I would say between ¾ and 1 ½ meters … You see, by burying the cow horn with the manure in it, we preserve in the horn the etheric and astral force that the horn was accustomed to reflect when it was on the cow.  Because the cow horn is now outwardly surrounded by the Earth, all the Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity.  The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them.  If the horn is buried for the entire winter – the season when the Earth is most inwardly alive – all this life will be preserved in the manure, turning the contents of the horn into an extremely concentrated, enlivening and fertilizing force.”

 “Once the winter is over, we can dig up the cow horn and take the manure out of it… After spending the winter underground, the cow horn contains an immense astral and etheric energy, which you can now use by diluting the contents with ordinary water, which should perhaps be warmed up a bit.”

 “The next thing to do is to spray the substance over your plowed fields, so that it can really unite with the soil…. If you manage to supplement your usual manuring with this kind of “spiritual manure,” you will soon see what fertility will result.”      Underlining added

 I have three comments:

 1.  Why is it that I try to quote Steiner as much as possible and Biodynamic practitioners never do?   Because I don’t think anyone would believe me if I tried to paraphrase him.  Steiner’s words clearly and forcefully demonstrate a lunacy that  must be experienced firsthand to believe.

  Why do all the practitioners speak in broad generalities which I call “Biodynamic Speak” such as “yes, it’s a little strange, but it works because my vineyards have never been healthier or my wine has never been better,” but never speak directly to what Steiner said?  Because of what I call the TV test.  Could Bart Araujo, Kevin Morrisey or Mike Grgich stand in front of national television cameras and talk about  burying the cow horn so the “Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity? (thus)  The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them.”  They’d look like fools, which is why they all utilize Biodynamic Speak and never directly quote Steiner.

 2.  Preparation 500, and the other eight preparations, have no history before Steiner.  I have not found any mention of burying a cow horn in past farming cultures or as ancient practices from past civilizations.  Supporters claim that Biodynamics is based on old farming practices, forgotten and abandoned with the onset of the industrial age.  As far as I can tell, these claims are false, because Biodynamics is completely the unique creation of Herr Rudolf Steiner.

 3.  I believe it is correct to call this animal sacrifice.  Not just any animal will do.  The horns shouldn’t come from an animal killed at the slaughterhouse, it has to be a cow, the cow must have given birth at least once, and it should have lived in the surrounding area for several years.  I assume the rest of the animal is used, but that is not the point.  A Biodynamic farmer’s protocol is to kill the cow for its horns and then ritualistically bury them in the ground for six months in the belief that it will make their crops grow better.

 So there you have it, preparation 500 and the very essence of Biodynamics.

Stuart Smith

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  1. Scooter says:

    I pee on my vines on cold nites, they seem to like it.

  2. jdee says:

    Hey what if I crap in my shoe and ware it all winter and then bury it next to my vines on the the first day of spring right after I take some acid and have sex with the neighbors goat while the dogs watch and lick their balls. Will I be able to climb my vine and meet the ogre and steal his golden goose?

  3. Sam says:

    Good comments, Hugh and Stu

    I am no scientist, but about the last descriptor I would use for the scientific community would be “dogmatic”. And I would not say that science automatically disclaims something just because they can’t explain it. By its very nature, science develops theories, and then uses the scientific method to either prove or disprove those theories, right?

    But you are right that we can’t stamp our feet and blindly believe the world is flat. There was lots of evidence from the time of Aristotle to the time of Columbus that pointed to a spherical earth…and the first circumnavigation of the globe proved it without a doubt. The difference, in my opinion, (getting back on topic), is that BD had failed to do this…it makes claims, but does not provide any evidence. And given enough time and enough supporters, what was once crazy-talk will become a valid, accepted farming system, even though much of it goes against basic common sense.

    We know that different irrigation regimes is a large contributing factor to the quality, yield, canopy size, and overall health to a vine in any particular growing season. In side by side replicated trials, different irrigation regimes will result in statistically significant differences in our crop, canopy, etc. However, I would venture to guess that if BD grower Bob followed preparation 500 perfectly in one block, and then next door filled a work boot with chicken poop instead, all else being equal, I would bet his quality, quantity, and canopy would all be the same. My point it that those BD growers with fantastic wines would likely still produce those fantastic wines without all of the superior claims on the effects of hocus pocus. So why continue to practice those elements of BD that cause so much discomfort (those that don’t pass the “TV” test?)

    Stu, thank you for this forum, and all contributors, thanks for the good discussion.

    • hughthewineguy says:

      Firstly, I’d be surprised to find too many biodynamic producers out there irrigating, because despite it’s effect upon the plant, irrigaiton doesn’t make as good a wine as dry farming your vines. Science has managed to prove that biodynamic compost has better fermentation temperatures and better microbial activity. That is something that is easy to understand, and measure, as it is linear. When there are so many uncontrollable variables, as in real live vineyards, then things aren’t easy to measure, because it is non-linear. The scientific method would have you break things down into manageable bits, and study those to get an idea of the whole. But immediately this means that you are assuming that it is not in the interrelatedness that the important stuff happens. I know from first hand experience that things like chiropractic and acupuncture work. Science says they don’t. Is it possible to prove any of these things inside of the current scientific paradigm? No, apparently not, otherwise it’d have happened. It can prove quality, yield and canopy, however, but how does it gauge the relative health and vigor of a plant in the face of pest and disease pressure? Its inbuilt tolerance? That takes years for someone who has worked with the plants to develop a FEELING for.
      For me, drinking wine’s the same, I couldn’t give a shit about how it analyzes, its about the feeling I get.
      Because science can’t prove something, does it mean that it’s all ‘crazy-talk’ or could it suggest that science needs a better model? THAT to me is common sense. Question the methods of questioning as much as you question the results, especially when you plain old ain’t coming up with data that says anything at all and basing decisions on that.
      I know that some of the most clued up, and respected industry-wide, winemakers I know choose to use biodynamics. Why? Because, despite there being the burden of (lack of) proof resting against it, in their professional opinion it is biodynamics that makes the difference. Mike Weersing, of Pyramid Valley said “When I first encountered biodynamics I thought it was way too out there, I didn’t approach it from a spiritual perspective, I came to it as an empiricist. I wanted to make the best wine I could and saw it working for others.” In my opinion, shared by many, he will be making the best pinot in NZ when his vines become mature, and will continue to use all these aspects of biodynamics that don’t pass this ‘TV test’, because he knows and trusts in something other than science. He doesn’t DISbelieve in science -and neither do I- but he also sees its limitations.
      If you need science to prove everything before you accept and trust it, you will have a poorer life than that which is possible.

  4. harvey posert says:

    Come visit Raymond which has just biodynamisized…many goats and just as many laughs.

  5. Mike Duffy says:

    Gosh, I hope nobody buried their horns at 7:28 AM, as the actual Equinox (Pacific Time) was 8:09 PM on the 22nd.

    It could be BioDynamic Disaster! :)

  6. Andy says:

    wow… that cow horn / manure stuff sounds so cool I am going to bury it in my yard and then spray it on myself in the spring. I want some of Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays to stream into my inner cavity!!

    Seriously, thanks for this blog– nice job

  7. Sam says:

    I don’t know, Mr. Smith.

    “Could [they] stand in front of national television cameras and talk about burying the cow horn… They’d look like fools…”

    Give it a couple hundred (or thousand) years and anything is believable…glad you are challenging this now, Mr. Smith, before it takes hold.

    • Hugh says:

      Before it takes hold?!
      How about we challenge the way science has taken hold of the public perception of so many fields of knowledge, which it is unable to explain and so denounces? I don’t seek to belittle the scientific community in the fashion they seem to be unable to restrain themselves from doing to others, EVERTHING needs some taking with a grain of salt. Their dogmatic belief that unless they have proof of something it ain’t worth anything truly becomes tiring. There was a time when looking at things in a reductionistic fashion was immensely useful to humankind, and iot is still useful in some regard. But, many things remain unknown and to be unable to recognise possibilities beyond what we have now, to me, is as bad as stamping one’s feet and saying the world is flat and refusing to consider any other possibility unless you can prove it inside of ‘the rules’ as they existed at that time. Do we need life in its entirety to be defined by today’s scientific principles? Is that really the best we can do?

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      I don’t disagree with what you have to say, but aren’t you making a blanket statement. What about using your judgment and experience to sort out the complete BS from the unknown? Let me use an example: I say with absolute conviction that I saw the sun rise this morning in the west. You did not see the sun rise so what do you say of my claim? You know from your life experience and knowledge of the material world that the earth revolves around the sun and that the sun spins on its axis in a certain way and that for the sun must rise in the east or all that you know must be rejected. No matter my credibility, is there any doubt that my statement is false; doesn’t your BS meter red-line at my claim? Or will you fall back on your comment and accept the possibility that maybe, just this once, in spite of all that you think you know of the universe, the sun may truly have risen in the west – after all you didn’t see that it didn’t?

      Steiner openly admits that “spiritual science” is derived from intuition and perception, so can you honestly read what Steiner wrote and say that it isn’t all BS? To accept Steiner and Biodynamics you must reject all the sciences as we know them today. Yes, there are many things in this world we don’t understand and yes as science advances it occasionally reverses itself – or do you think P.T. Barnum was right, “there’s a sucker born every minute?” Unfortunately, I do.

    • Vini says:

      Well, I suppose the Luddites have every reason to be heard too….

      However, I must point out that Science is NOT a belief system…it is only a criteria for providing support for your theories (which is basically what Stu points out below). Claims that are not able to be proved are merely ‘nice ideas’ and should be treated with some suspicion, and not accepted merely because someone (ANYONE) just says it’s “so”.

      It is fine that there are competing views on how the Universe works, but there’s no compelling reason to reject that which our experience has already taught us. Period.

    • Isotope says:

      Hugh, I know that Stu and Vini comment below, and Stu makes a nicely worded hypothetical but jeez, the scientific community belittles everyone?

      I’ve learned much about biology, soil, microbiology and genetics. So much so that I probably would have to spend 6 to 7 minutes explaining what I do to you to make you understand.

      99.99999% of the time, a person, and I would bet you would too, will “shut-off” after 10 seconds of explanation of what I do.

      How about all you people who believe everything is possible stop belittling science by ignoring it.

      You could do the work to understand why science isn’t a belief.

      You could find scientists to talk to about their “dogma” since flexible perspectives are clearly “dogma” while unwavering religious belief is not.

      I know it’s easiest to assume that science, and their deranged mad scientists can’t see the forest through the trees, and don’t understand why everything like Chi/Qi, Bio-D, and flying teapots are possible.

      I know, I’m a big jerk, a person that belittles, because *you* won’t do the work, as you state saltily that you are tired, perhaps you should be too tired to comment as well…

    • hughthewineguy says:

      “Steiner openly admits that “spiritual science” is derived from intuition and perception, so can you honestly read what Steiner wrote and say that it isn’t all BS? To accept Steiner and Biodynamics you must reject all the sciences as we know them today.”

      WHY must I reject science?? It has its place, but like all things, it ain’t perfect. As science grows -as is happening in quantum mechanics- it is having to accept things that it previously didn’t:

      Hmmm, there’s this thing called ‘The Field’ that supports the existence of everything.

      Doesn’t sound very scientific, but quantum physicists embraced that paradigm- to look at the stuff they want to look at, they need more than ‘there’s matter and energy’.
      Science will get there. One day. But somehow we’re still stuck on the fact that it’s biodynamics that needs to prove itself using today’s science?
      Are we so sure that conversely it is not science that is lacking? Cos scientists themselves seem to think so..

      Biodynamics is not ‘just accepted because someone said ‘so’.

      It is the result of many, many years working at drawing together age old teachings about herbs and plants, and applying that knowledge in a manner that noone had considered before, which takes more thought than perhaps it’s possible to comprehend INSIDE OF A SCIENTIFIC PARADIGM.
      I’m not calling anyone to reject anything, but to realise that science and our knowledge and experience based on that are really just in a stage of infancy, do we really think we know everything already? Come on.

      @Isotope Where did I say science belittles everyone? I said they belittle others. Such as the biodynamicists. Who said I ignore science? I say you can’t disprove something simply by not being able to collect meaningful data.
      The principles of scientific research and questioning existence are to be applauded, but if science isn’t a belief, then why do people get so rabid when there’s a suggestion made that there could well be some flaws?
      Christ, the biodynamicists shrug that shit off all the time, and say ‘sure that’s your view, based on your understanding’.

      As for:

      You could find scientists to talk to about their “dogma” since flexible perspectives are clearly “dogma” while unwavering religious belief is not.
      You know, I just can’t be bothered responding to that, because it’s inflammatory DRIVEL which had nothing to do with anything I said! So that means you’re being “a big jerk, a person that belittles,” and a DICK who posts exactly the kind of responses that make me tired.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Most of the Biodynamic growers I know irrigate their vineyards, so I have no idea why you think they all dry farm, because it just isn’t so. I hope that you’re not trying to compare dry farming in northern Europe to California. Most European vineyards get summer rains to sustain the vines, unlike my dry farmed vineyards that get their last rain in early April and not another drop until mid-October.

      You’re giving me the complete Steiner propaganda about how ever thing is inter-connected and so we shouldn’t look at the building blocks of life. Have you actually read Steiner? Do you believe what Steiner says about the universe and cosmic forces and the Atlanteans and their airships? Do you really believe that Sun Flowers should be call Jupiter flowers because the color yellow in plants comes from the planet Jupiter or that the red color in plants comes all the way from Mars? Do you really believe that that cow horns channel the cosmic forces of the universe down into earth, and that antlers direct the cosmic forces outward. Hugh, do you really believe this?

      I agree that science doesn’t know everything, but science doesn’t make up answers like Steiner did. Science is always challenging, and is always being challenged, unlike Biodynamics that hides behind the hoax of “spiritual science.” Do you really think you can equate Rudolf Steiner with the likes of an Albert Einstein? Steiner was a fraud that held séances to speak with the dead, he was a liar when he said Atlanteans could grow replacement fingers, arms and legs, and further lied when he claimed they could travel by airships powered by germinating seeds and yet you believe him when he, and only he, claims that cow horns channel the cosmic forces of the universe down into the earth. Those preparations are not based on some ancient teachings of a long lost civilization, or the successful farming method of another society – they are a complete fabrication of a fraud.

      Is it too much for Biodynamics to prove, using real world science, what them claim?

    • hughthewineguy says:

      Well, I know very little of Californian wines, apart from the fact that noone here bothers importing them here because they certainly don’t represent value for money, but in NZ I would be suprised if there were more than a handful of biod vineyards that are irrigated.

      I have no problem accepting that Steiner said/wrote/did some loopy stuff, but he’s not alone in many of his views on the energetic aspects to the world, which exist and persist in many cultures that predate even Plato. I don’t have to believe everything that he said to make use of the salient points any more than I have to deride a scientist who makes a choice to believe in God, which is a choice they are free to make despite the fact that there will be some of their peers who flap their arms about over the fact.

      Einstein was left behind by a large section of the scientific community when, with the advent of particle physics, he chose to ignore this new field of endeavour in favour of general relativity. Still today there’s no happy marriage between the two, which both insist that the universe abides by a set of governing principles yet are literally incongruous, and the best the scientific community have to date is string theory, which by their own admission exists in a philosophical realm without scientific evidence …..due to the problems that the incongruity between quantum physics and general relativity created. They say that if it is disproven then noone should believe string theory. But they have no way of testing it.

      I’d also point out that you’re the one asking for comparisons between Einstein and Steiner here, not me, and as for the comment:

      “Is it too much for Biodynamics to prove, using real world science, what them claim?”

      it makes me sigh and shrug my shoulers because you have missed my (repeated) point that if science can’t solve their own problems because they lie outside of their own theoretical framework, what use is there to trying to prove biodynamics using the same?
      When science grows up a bit more, because thats what science does, then maybe. And then that’s all it would be. Maybe.

      Good luck, I will discontinue my efforts here because I haven’t seen any indication that my point will sink in anytime soon. Have another read and another think, and I wish you well in your endeavours.

  8. Edith Kodmur says:

    Yippeekaiyay…we’re in Kansas City, so we’ll have to hurry and find a Missouri cow to help the local vineyards. Spritual manure, indeed! Keep up the good work.

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