Welcome to the June 18, 2005 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.
It has been a little over a month since our last newsletter, “Tongues of Fire: Pentecost, Kundalini and the Ways of the Holy Spirit”. Here at Satya Center, big changes are underway.
We are moving, and at the same time we are receiving recognition from some important print publications, including Prediction Magazine in the UK, and Lilipoh Magazine in the US, and have just established a new nonprofit organization, called the Satya Institute. More on these developments in our next newsletter in July.
So it has been difficult for us to respond quickly to all your emails, but we are delighted to hear from you all. We will be back to a more normal newsletter schedule by mid to late July, and at that time the newsletters will once again include links to new Satya Center content and important news stories from around the Web. We thank you for your patience during this tumultuous transitional period.
At the end of the month, we are moving from our current location in suburban Pleasantville, New York, just 40 minutes north of Manhattan to a new home in Hudson Valley farm country, in Claverack, New York.Claverack is a small town located about 40 minutes south of Albany in Columbia County, 2 ½ hours from Manhattan and 2 ½ hours from Boston. We are just five miles from Hudson, which has a train line going into Manhattan, so we feel this is a great location for us.
If you want to call us directly, our new phone number is 518-672-4584. If you are going to be in the area, call us to schedule a time to come by and see us at 258 Roxbury Road, in Claverack. Our official grand opening is in August, but we’d be glad to see you at any time!
Our new home is surrounded by farms, and will provide Jane with opportunities to grow her biodynamic herb garden, and expand the range of products offered as Jane’s Homemade herbal toiletries and teas.
Here’s Jane’s report on her garden and its transplantation:
"The garden here at Satya Center, had finally become a mature, wild and busy place in spite of a cold wet and cloudy spring. Late spring brought extreme heat and sun, moving into drought conditions even though the low lying parts of our yard were still wet from all of last year’s rain and snow. And with that heat came the weeds! This year some plants showed up incredibly early, and other spring plants came late. Most gardeners and farmers we know, say there's no such thing as 'normal' anymore, when it comes to the weather.
The last couple of months, we were so busy trying to find a new home, I couldn't imagine how we were going to move the garden with so many other tasks. But our dear friends and farmers Jean Paul Courtens and Jody Bolluyt of Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, New York, came to the rescue. JP and Jody are Satya Center contributors, and their most recent article is “Why I Farm Organically”. Roxbury Farm is the largest organic farm operating as a community sponsored agriculture project on the East Coast, feeding more than 900 families in Albany, Manhattan, the Bronx and the New York city suburbs of WestchesterCounty.
We faced the dismal prospect of losing our entire biodynamic herb garden, which has taken six years to nurture to its present mature state, but JP and Jody volunteered to dig up and transplant our perennial herbs, medicinals and flowers onto their farm until I could prepare the land at our new place.
We first met Jean-Paul in Manhattan, in 1991, when we lived in Greenwich Village, where Jean-Paul began delivery of biodynamic vegetables from the original Roxbury Farm CSA, which was located in Claverack, on Roxbury Road, just about a half mile from our new home.
This was our introduction to biodynamic farming and gardening, to the best tasting vegetables we had ever eaten, and to the fascinating spiritual world of the mystic, educator and agriculturalist Rudolf Steiner, who invented the biodynamic farming method, established the Waldorf School system, and wrote dozens of books about spirituality, agriculture, education and art during his long, fruitful life. He is the father of the anthroposophical spiritual system of health and wellness that underpins the editorial philosophy of Lilipoh Magazine, now one of Satya Center’s content partners. Since then, I have studied biodynamic gardening methods and discovered the joys that a spiritual approach to gardening can bring. Now, in my garden’s most dire moment of need, our biodynamic farmer friends had provided a providential solution to our crisis!
So on a lovely spring day in April, Jean Paul came down with Melody Horn and Phaedra Tettero-Crosby, two of his apprentices from the farm, and we all got to work digging.
I could hear JP giving lessons to them as they dug, everything a part of their summer farm education. Curtis tackled the chocolate mint, (my favorite and one of the mainstays of my 'Jane's Homemade' herbal tea mixes) which was more plentiful than ever, since I encouraged it to take over a large plot for the last two seasons. I directed, identified plants, watered the newly dug up plants with flower essences to ease their transition. We spent the better part of a day digging up plants and putting them into trays, filling up almost as large an area as half of the garden with a break for lunch under the trees.
I must admit it was traumatic, seeing things uprooted like that, sensing the nature spirits dismay at our removal of their friends and companion plants. Curtis spent a lot of time sending Reiki to not only the transplants but to the garden in general, so as to try and restore harmony during this difficult transition.
I remember six years ago, on June 1, waiting for the telephone company under the tree where we ate lunch, pulling weeds out of what had been an old garden on this property many years before. I recall smelling a sweet smell as I worked, not sure what it was, and coming across amidst the weeds a single lone lavender colored bearded iris which I dug up and planted in a safe spot, only to cultivate it over the years from one iris to about fifty, with many rhizome 'babies' going to neighbors, friends and fellow gardeners.
At that time, we had just moved from a small Manhattan apartment, where I suddenly started collecting seeds, the impulse for a garden was so strong, even though at the time, I had no idea where I would have one. I started looking around at NYC community gardens, hoping I could have a plot in one of them, and through serendipity and synchronicities, work brought us up outside the city to a place where I could have a garden. I remember joking about how our first garden here, was twice the square footage of our apartment we'd just left. And now, this day transplanting the gardens of Satya Center, found us with gardens which had more than doubled since that first garden begun six summers ago.
The whole transplanting event this April, is a good metaphor for our own uprooting, moving north to another place, with new and unfamiliar spirits, sounds and smells. For place defines us perhaps even more than our chosen careers, neighbors and loved ones in ways that are subtle and pervasive, and not always conscious. We are often drawn to a place which will either nurture us, and/or help to release old emotions and energies which need to be brought to the surface. Nature spirits and the natural world can help us to evolve spiritually, to grow into and understand our role as earth stewards and guardians of Love for one another and for the planet.
Those of you who know Curtis and I will be amused at the synchronicity that we are moving to a place on Roxbury Road! The new house has a fireplace in the living room with “Roxbury House” etched into the hearth. It is right around the corner from the original Roxbury Farm CSA, before they moved the farm to new land a bit further north. There are friends right around the corner, a sheep farm across the street, a commercial dairy farm down the road and two other biodynamic CSA farms each less than a mile away. One of them is the new Farm at Miller's Crossing (where the original Roxbury Farm was) and Hugh Williams' Threshold Farm CSA, well known for his apples and other biodynamic fruit.
We are also happy our new home is near Chris Stearn and Betsy Cashen, who live around the corner from our new home in Claverack. Betsy is an anthroposophical nutritionist and a Satya Center contributor, whose most recent article is “Earthly and Cosmic Nutrition”.Chris is a long-time student of anthroposophical models of spirituality, health and wellness and agriculture and is the chief baker at Hawthorne Valley Farm, the largest biodynamic farm on the East Coast, located about a ten minute drive from our new home in Claverack in Harlemville, where a beautiful new Waldorf School attracts students and their families from all over the country to the growing and vibrant anthroposophical community in Columbia County.
We look forward to serving the Columbia County community in every way we can. We are sure that our herb garden will grow and thrive with a little help from our friends, and we look forward to sharing all the new biodynamic herbal products with you in the future.
We feel incredibly blessed to be able to make this shift, explore new pastures, see our beloved Catskill mountains out the front windows and make plans for new SatyaCenter gardens and Jane's Homemade products in our new home.
In the meantime, my garden has become three 200 foot row beds up at Roxbury Farm, and our dear friends are keeping watch over them, during what has been a drought spring, by irrigating and careful planting.
As soon as we move, it will be time for me to go over to Roxbury Farm to check the transplanted beds and do some weeding, some Reiki and shower some loving onto my old garden favorites in their new home. By the time we transplant them to our new home, next spring, the Satya Center gardens will have doubled in size again – and I will be busy tending the plants at Roxbury Farm and at Satya Center on Roxbury Road."
Happy Full Moon Summer Solstice
Jane and I wish you all a most blessed Full Moon and Summer Solstice!
The night of Tuesday June 21st, a few hours after midnight on the East Coast, the Summer Solstice occurs simultaneously with a Full Moon at approximately one degree of Capricorn. The Sabian Symbol for that Moon placement is “An Indian chief claims recognition and power from the assembled tribe”, indicating a moment of high diplomatic drama, the issues surrounding the individual’s assumption of personal power, and the social forces that come into play at that crucial moment in life. The cosmic climate encourages each and every one of us to step forward and acknowledge our own Higher Purpose. We are given substantial spiritual support at this time to take the giant step required of us when we surrender to our Higher Selves.
The Indian chief is symbolic of the Higher Self and the assembled tribe represents the horde of mental considerations, positive and negative emotions, likes and dislikes, and patterns of behavior or seeds of karma forming the egoistic personality. We are each being called upon this Summer Solstice Full Moon to make a commitment to follow our own Path of Spirit, no matter where it may lead us.
This is the moment of spiritual initiation known as “Crossing the Rubicon”, symbolized by the six of wands in the Tarot deck, often called “Victory”. When Julius Caesar had conquered the Germans, the Celts and the Gauls of Northern Europe with his army, he was part of a Triumvirate ruling Rome that consisted of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. When Crassus died, Pompey turned the Senate against Caesar, declaring him an enemy of the State and asking him to surrender his command. Caesar realized that to fulfill his destiny and follow his star he would have to plunge the Roman Empire into a Civil War. He ordered his troops to cross the Rubicon River, separating his province from Italy. The rest is history.
As this Full Moon moment of personal empowerment unfolds in the two cardinal signs of Capricorn and Cancer, a Mars-Jupiter opposition in Aries and Libra creates a Grand Cross in the sky, adding a further touch of high drama to the energy of this highly charged month. There is no doubt that we will all be challenged by this celestial configuration which guarantees a substantial amount of resistance to our efforts to cross our own personal Rubicons in every area of our lives.
It is important to be prepared for this and to exercise strength with gentleness, combining a steadfast will with equanimity, avoiding undue anger and conflict wherever possible, because the conditions for overly aggressive actions will be omnipresent.
Simultaneously, the Summer Solstice is the time of one of the year’s most important Seasonal Festivals, presenting us with a golden opportunity for spiritual growth at one of the most sensual and delightful of all yearly festivals. Midsummer is the midpoint and shortest night of the year. In the Northern hemisphere, the earth reaches the point in its orbit when it is tilted furthest toward the Sun. From this day forward, nights grow longer, and days shorten. Traditionally, hilltop bonfires were lit in European countries to strengthen the power of the Sun, flaming disks were thrown into the air, and wheels of fire were set spinning downhill at nightfall. The Summer Solstice has long been considered an ideal time to gather healing herbs, long before breakfast, at dawn, while the dew still stands on the petals. Fern and fern-seed were often gathered in European communities to channel the solar forces at their maximum. Golden solar flowers such as St. John’s wort, mugwort and mistletoe, the golden bough, were worn as garlands.
In Foundations at the Periphery: Rudolf Steiner’s Obervations on Star Knowledge, Steiner discusses the spiritual significance of the summer solstice. “The time when the outer macrocosm exercises the greatest effect on the earth is the time of the summer solstice, midsummer,” Steiner explains. “Many accounts of olden times connected with festive presentations and rituals remind us that festivals like these take place at the height of summer; that in the midst of summer, the soul, in letting go the ego and merging with the life of the macrocosm, surrenders in a state of intoxication to the impressions of the macrocosm.”
By immersing oneself in the intoxicating sights, smells, and tastes of the blossoming earth during mid-summer, one can achieve unity with the natural world, with the spirit of the Earth, and with the cosmos. For the Earth at this high point of summer is fully engaged in “exhaling” the life force energies that create and nurture and sustain life forms during their growth cycle which is peaking at this time and is also most closely connected to the cosmic forces originating in the stars which are crucial to nourishing earthly plants and animals during their peak growth period.
“Just as man draws in the air and exhales it, so that it is alternately within him and outside him, so does the earth inhale its soul during the winter,” says Steiner in his lecture on the Michaelmas Festival. “And during the time of mid-summer in the height of summer, the soul of the earth has been exhaled entirely; breathed out into the wide spaces of the universe. The body of the earth is then, as it were, ‘empty’ and does not contain the earth-soul; the earth shares with its soul in the events of the cosmos, in the course of the stars, etc. For this reason Winter Mysteries existed in ancient times, in which one experienced the union of the earth-soul with the earth. There were Summer Mysteries too, in which it was possible to perceive the secrets of the universe, when the soul of the initiate followed the soul of the earth out into the cosmic spaces and shared in its experiences with the stars.”
Thus, paradoxically, through participation in the sensual superabundance of the mid-summer festivals, the individual becomes one with the Earth Spirit in its soaring moment of connection to the cosmic forces dwelling among the stars, and partakes of the cosmic unity that feeds the swelling growth of summer, filling the air, the water and the earth with living organisms from the microscopic to the macroscopic, all at the peak of their vitality.
Jane & I wish you a blessed summer solstice and fun summer season. May all your senses be exhilarated, your senses quickened and your spiritual path enlivened. Wishing you joy in all things. We close our newsletter with a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh. A good little meditation that can be done anywhere, anytime, throughout the day and night to bring calm to the mind and to be present to your life.
Breathing in, I calm,
Breathing out, I smile
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know it is a wonderful moment.
--Thich Nhat Hanh
All photos by Jane Sherry from the top: View showing the Catskills on a hazy day from the hill behind the house; Our Satya Center Garden showing thin-leaved coneflower, anise hyssop, calendula & marigolds; (left to right:) Jean Paul, Curtis and Melody who is searching for st. john's wort amidst the weeds and last year's turnip greens gone to flower; Starting the garden in 1999 by covering lawn with wet cardboard and compost using the 'no-till' method; Bearded Iris; Phaedra with the many boxes of bearded iris, motherwort, and echinacea bins behind her; Roxbury House view out the front window; Silica Preparation being sprayed into the atmosphere during the rising morning sun; St. John's wort flowers.