After many hours of sharing stories with Nancy Poer under the spreading shelter of the Live Oaks near the Ranch barn, Doctor Tobias Handschin, a pediatrician who runs an artist retreat center in Stockton CA. had to set off for work. CG & Hermes Work our young Astrosophy friend, currently studying with our dear Brian Gray, went up to Nancy’s house, while I prepared for the BD conference.
That night I dreamt that the robots working for the 1 percent, had enslaved all the Biodynamic farmers putting them to work to keep certain sections of the earth a paradise garden exclusively for them. We were kept from directly interacting with each other, but I found a way to make up songs based on Spiritual Science that let us communicate as we worked the land. Thru this sacred music we were able to connect with the elementals who gave us clues on what to do so that the cosmic forces we were bringing in would eventually spread out, like a ripple in a pond, to spiritualize the whole Earth – redeeming it from the adversarial powers that seek to condense & deaden all life. I awoke with a shiver to the sound of a Hoot owl.
And at the break of day, CG, Hermes & I, set out for the 6 hour road-trip North West to Live Power Farm for theBDANC Michaelmas Fall Gathering. The twisty turny climb up & down the mountain ranges, thru miles of orchards – mostly almond, walnut & pistachio trees, past village vistas like beautiful Clear Lake, CA., was filled with majesty & wonder. We couldn’t stop exclaiming ‘WOW, O WOW, look, look’, at the wondrous topography, so different than the planes of our beloved Heartland region.
Covelo CA. is in a volcanic caldera valley, surrounded by the many mountain ranges of Round Valley. Mountains have always held a special place in the soul of humanity. Is it their rugged vastness? Their vast grandeur & solitude? Is it the challenge of climbing them? Do mountains loom large in our mind because they are the closest point to heaven here on Earth? The ancients believed that that gods ruled from the top of mountains, which formed the foundation of the world, providing a resting place for the firmament.
Moses received the 10 commandments etched on stone tablets from Mount Sinai, also called Horab which means thorny mountain? Mohammad obtained his first revelation just outside of Mecca in the Hira cave of Mount Jabal al-Nour which means “Mountain of Light”. Why did the Transfiguration of Christ Jesus happen on Mount Tabor (which means camp or navel)?
Mountains are a powerful force, which sparks the creation of new worlds in an attempt to describe them.
But this particular Mountain Valley has a dark history which I learned from a conversation during one of our meals.
The Yuki Tribe, one of many indigenous Tribes of Round Valley, part of Mendocino County, CA., called themselves “Ukomno’om” meaning “Valley People” before the arrival of the Europeans. But starting in 1848, due to the California Gold Rush, white immigrants flooded into the Valley, increasing the settler population from 1,000 to well over 300,000 in little more than a decade – The sudden influx of miners, strained the space & natural resources of the 400,000 Native Americans who had been peacefully living in the area for many generations.
Long ago, thousands & tens of thousands of years, the glaciers swept down the eastern slope of the Mountain ranges in Mendocino, carrying with them trees which were four times the size of the giant redwoods which now tower above the valleys. Stumps, with a vast acreage of roots, can still be found nowadays hidden in the forest depths, indicating the mammoth growth of those primeval days.
Extraordinary landslides must have occurred. Volcanic action threw up ridges, out of which many coal seams cropped, especially along the Eel River, which the miners wanted.
And so it was that from these splendid heights, with its majestic vista of peace & beauty spreading far to the horizon, Round Valley, then became ‘stolen valley’ — for I was told, that those far-off purple hills are dotted with the unmarked graves of thousands of murdered native peoples — killed not in the heat of mountain quarrels, but one by one, thru years of greed & prejudiced malice, with cold, slow, deliberate purpose, because the Native people born in Round Valley chose to maintain their right to live there & refused to allow the theft of their stock, the burning of their homes, & the systematic persecution in the courts, to turn them from their birthright. And for that they were murdered. The woman raped & the children sold into slavery.
Later when the Gold Rush was raging, many other tribes were dumped into the Valley. They were rounded up from the far corners of California, some of whom were traditional enemies of one another, which added to the hostile social environment in the concentration camp conditions. Every mountain pass into this paradise holds this horrendous memory.
Gloria & Stephen Decater took on this painful legacy, seeking to remediate the land thru Biodynamics; humbly acknowledging the Indigenous people who lived there before them.
Before we left Gloria took us to a magical place where the ‘future potential’ radiated out – divined by Anna Pogacnik, the daughter of Marko, who uses earth healing techniques similar to acupuncture by positioning carved stone pillars, on the ‘lithopuncture’ points of the landscape. Fox, bear & wild boar come to the spring there on a regular basis.
Steve came to Covelo in the early 1970’s to work side by side with Alan Chadwick, the famous horticulturist, & was instrumental in establishing the gardens at both the University of California in Santa Cruz & in Covelo. After Chadwick’s death in 1980, Steve was the one that carried the work forward, training apprentices & maintaining the farm in Covelo; welcoming & inspiring countless classes of children & their teachers over the years.
When we pulled up, dear Gloria welcomed us with a delicious lunch sourced from the farm, & put CG & I up in the tiny house nestled in amongst the pear orchard. Hermes was the 1st of many to set up camp in the field across the way. Charles Nodolf the stalwart land manager/apprentice at Live Power, who stayed on the farm all thru Covid & thru the harrowing fires that blacked the sky for many weeks, brought a vase of flowers in while we were eating, & basically did everything to make the weekend flow.
Folks started pouring in; cooking in the kitchen; as well as outside in the brick oven, built by Gloria’s son Alexander; families, & many farmers with their apprentices, coming from near & far.
Keith & Jes Michalak, & Eric were in from the Golden Rule Gardens at Ridgewood Ranch & the Agrarian Collective.
Luke Frey, a true philosopher who does the Biodynamics for his families famous Frey Vineyards, helped lead the prep making withguru Harold Hoven, founder & director of the Raphael Garden at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA.
Alexandra Kravetz & Raphael Smadja came in from Elster Ranch in Grass Valley. Alexandra & Michael Aldinger lead the workshop on ‘Sequential Spraying’ (more about that later)
Michael Adams, from Nurturing Seed Farm – a community farm that has been growing &selling food & medicinals in & around Willits CA. in Mendocino County since 2010.
Serendipity brought me together with Willow Summer, Biodynamic farmer for the Three Springs Community Farm in Bodega CA. when we were both attending the AAP training at Kimberton Camphill this Summer. I was driving in from the airport & there she was at the side of the road; we stopped to talk & I immediately felt like we were sisters. It was sweet to be with her again. Willow & her husband Lew brought a fine crew of young apprentices to the event. What a joy to work alongside them & learn about their dreams for the future.
There was a wonderful presence from the regional Waldorf Schools. Betsyann Gallagher is Gardening Teacher for Marin Waldorf School, Katja Wishart also taught there. Christy Barron is 3-4 grade teacher at Waldorf School of Mendocino County. Gloria feels very much called to continue to make Live Power a teaching center for children young & old.
It was a pleasure to meet so many people like Julia Bernardini, working with Orland Bishop at a Retreat Center called Peaceful Valley Sanctuary.
Jodi Geren was the main cook for the weekend, coming up from San Francisco where she runs Four Barrel Coffee, assisted by former Live Power Apprentice Ali Anderson.
As folks were arriving, I set up for my presentation to be offered that evening for the Front Range Anthroposophical Café in Gloria’s living room, next to the memorial shine for her beloved husband Stephen Decater – the quiet Power behind the horses for the farm – who crossed the threshold 4 November 2021, prompting me to bring the theme of ‘Bridging Heaven & Earth’ to the Festival weekend.
The topic Friday Evening for the Front Range was: The “Cognitive Ritual” of Anthroposophia – Living into the New Mysteries’, which brought an interesting dimension to the Biodynamic component we were living into. I asked: What is the difference between the Sacramental Communion (the gesture of bringing Heaven to Earth – the 1st Michael Revelation: Spirit to matter), & the Cognitive Ritual (Rising in our thinking to meet the spiritual world – the second Michael Revelation: Matter to Spirit), & why are they both important for us today?
Here is the link for my presentations on the Front Range Anthroposophical Cafe.
It was a bit bizarre being online with people from all over the world while folks were gathered a few feet away in the kitchen. But I was able to join them after our amazing community conversation redeeming cyber space, which ended up turning toward the spiritual scientific research around the Corona crisis – Very enlightening.
And then to end the evening, Charles took me out into the field amongst the campers where we had a magnificent view of the starry night sky. I have only experienced this kind of piecing clarity with the Milky Way popping, a few times in my urban life. I was speechless & filled with awe & reverence.
Stay tuned as we continue the ‘Festival of Life’ adventure tomorrow if time allows as we are heading over to the Zinniker Farm for a prep day…