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Hocus pocus? Spirituality and soil care in biodynamic agriculture
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, Volume: 4, Issue: 4, Start page: 251484862097092
Swansea University Author: Anna Pigott
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In this article, I participate in efforts to re-imagine soils as lively, complex, more-than-human ecologies, by turning to the largely sidestepped subject of spirituality in agriculture. Spiritual knowledge practices rarely sit comfortably alongside technoscientific, productivist accounts of soil he...
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In this article, I participate in efforts to re-imagine soils as lively, complex, more-than-human ecologies, by turning to the largely sidestepped subject of spirituality in agriculture. Spiritual knowledge practices rarely sit comfortably alongside technoscientific, productivist accounts of soil health, and yet they can re-configure how soils are conceptualised and managed, with implications for relationships of care. Drawing on an extended period of learning with a Community Supported Agriculture project in south Wales, the article explores how care is cultivated through a non-conventional method of farming known as biodynamics, which incorporates astrological and spiritual principles. I suggest that biodynamic narratives and rituals encourage attentiveness to more-than-human agency and energy, to depth (not only underground but also above-ground influences of the air and celestial bodies), and to reciprocity between soil biota and humans. Biodynamic practices also make space for mystery, thereby resisting drives to measure and map, and offering possibilities for disrupting anthropocentric approaches to soil care. However, the example presented here also highlights how, despite biodynamic’s growing popularity, its spiritual elements have a tendency to be kept quiet, their presence sidelined by more familiar, secular, narratives. Nonetheless, I contend that if effective soil care demands more diverse knowledge practices than those that are currently obliterating critical soil communities at an alarming rate, then there can be much to learn from a touch of magic.
Soil, care, spirituality, biodynamic agriculture, more-than-human ethics
College of Science