Thou pretty herb of Venus tree
Thy true name is yarrow
Now who my bosom friend must be
Pray tell thou me tomorrow
When our son, Dylan was four or five years old, he watched Bambi over and over, must have been 100 times. The stag was an incredible symbol of the male protecting his family. Recently, I lost my mate of thirty-eight years. I wanted to share some observations of the connection to the stag and yarrow in the ceremony that came about on our small homestead here on New Year’s Day and on January 6, the Epiphany. About ten years ago, KC (Kent James Carson) and I decided we wanted to start using the Three Kings Preparation on our place (a set of preparations created by Hugo Erbe based on the gifts of the three wise men). We took turns on New Year’s Eve, grinding the gold, frankincense, and myrrh in a marble mortar and pestle an hour before midnight, enjoying the wonderful aroma of the tree resins. KC was not used to staying up late, so it was a special time to do this ceremony together, taking turns every ten minutes with the grinding. Little did we know that he would die ten years later on New Year’s Eve day. Recently, we had discussed where we wanted our ashes spread as well as other end of life issues. He had lost his father a couple of years ago, and we felt we needed to get our affairs in order as we were getting older. KC wanted his ashes spread on the compost pile, and I agreed that it was also what I wanted, instead of a trek up a mountainside in New Mexico where we had met years ago. It seemed right to be part of the land here on our homestead where we had gardened for over thirty-three years and worked so hard. His ashes came back on Jan 6, the Epiphany, which is the day that the Three Kings is stirred and sprayed in a prayer ceremony.
We invited friends who had gardened with us and eaten our foods to participate in the biodynamic stirring, then in mixing his ashes with finished compost and sprinkling it on all of the areas of our five-acre homestead and finally in burying an urn at the head of our old grandmother horse’s grave in a sacred grove we had planted for our animals. There was a celtic cross of stones over her grave. We placed a piece of slate and a special stone from our friends’ farm in the Ozarks that looked like a horse’s skull with crystals all over the top of it The final part of the ceremony was walking the perimeter of the land and sprinkle the water from the Three Kings Preparation, stirring outwardly while saying prayers every fifty feet We ran out of written prayers, as well as daylight, about halfWay around, and then sang songs the rest of the way, till the circle was complete. The songs became more joyous and less solemn as we neared completion. Our son paced the steps and sprinkled the water.
About a year before, there was an old stag that was dying of old age who came into the back field. KC went to the game warden, who lived a couple of houses down, and asked him to come over. Our nine year-old grandson cried when the old stag was shot, but it was explained that it was his time and it was humane to put his suffering to an end. I moved the bones out of the field to the side. In that same spot, I was thrown by my young horse when she stepped on a stick and it snapped. It was not her fault, but I have not ridden since. It was several months before my bruises healed and my sixty three-year-old body had lost its confidence on a horse. Right before Christmas, we had hung the old stag’s skull near the entrance to our door. I remember KC saying, “You know most people hang deer skulls as a symbol of their hunting prowess. This is a geriatric stag.” It now seems symbolic of him to me. It faces east toward the sunrise. My eldest daughter was with me as we walked the grounds before people arrived for the ceremony. In the sacred grove, I had planted a tulip poplar at the foot of old Fancy Nancy’s grave. There were deer droppings all over the grove, and the tree had been completely girdled by a stag rubbing the velvet off its antlers. We also had an old bench there, rotting away, as well as a cedar tree, several black locusts, and autumn olives, which perfume the air in May. I had planted alfalfa and wild violets there on Nancy’s grave, but only yarrow was growing there, which I had not planted. It only grows in one other place on the farm. Yarrow is one of the biodynamic compost herbs related to the stag’s bladder and helps bring trace elements to plants for their best nutrition. A few days after the ceremony, I was leading the horses (Rosy and Sage) past the sacred grove. They are the daughter and granddaughter of Fancy Nancy, who is buried there in the grove. As they passed the grove, they both reared at the same time, waving their hooves in the air as if in response to the energy there. In all the years that I have been leading them together, they had never done that.
According to Flower Power: Flower Remedies for Healing Body and Soul Through Herbalism, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, and Flower Essences by Anne McIntyre: The name yarrow is apparently derived from heiros which means sacred, because of the plants association with ceremonial magic. Yarrow was thought to be richly endowed with spiritual properties, so it is preserved in temples and treated with special reverence. Its healing effects on the blood was seen as an ability to influence the’ life-blood’, the essence or ego that is carried in the blood. It was used as an amulet or charm to protect against negative energy and evil, capable of overcoming the forces of darkness and being a conductor of benevolent powers. It is also believed to be a love charm and to be ruled by the planet Venus. In folklore, a maiden who places yarrow under her pillow and repeats the rhyme above will dream of her future husband. In China yarrow stalks were used to awaken the spiritual forces of the super conscious mind during ritual divination using the I Ching. When KC and I first met, before the kids, we used the yarrow stalks in that I Ching meditation ritual. It seems to me that there are symbols and memories everywhere I look on this small farm, and he is all around me … wrapped in every leaf and breeze. I do not need to go anywhere to visit his grave. He is all around me here, and I am grateful for all his love! My son Dylan and I found a sandstone slab called “Teal” that looks like wood and had it engraved with his name and dates and a heart and rose with the simple words “We Love You” on it. We will put in the sacred grove on concrete piers to honor all the beautiful stone and other masonry work he did over the years. It will be a place to meditate, talk, sing to him, and play my flutes.
Hugh Courtney of the Josephine Porter Institute (JPI) sent me a verse by Rudolf Steiner, which is a great comfort as I daily make my way into working alone here in the gardens:
I was united with you.
Stay now stay united in me.
So shall we speak together
In the language of eternal Being.
So shall we work together
Where deeds find their fulfillment
So shall we weave in the Spirit
Where human thoughts are woven
In the Word of eternal Thought.