In various world cultures, the ungulate horned beasts have always been revered for their seemingly supranormal nature, and phenomenal aspects, not only from a biological and anatomical perspective but from a spiritual and mythical incline as well. The Celts worshipped Cernunnos, the horned god, the caves of Lascaux, France are painted in earth pigments of primordial beasts wearing horns and fauna with antlers, the Hindu still consider the cow to be sacred, and herding cattle are regarded as integral to African desert societies, the Aryans of the hyperborea held great mystique over the now extinct Aurochs, the predecessor of todays bovine family, and the Sami call their reindeer sacred. Myths and stories about in Scottish highland culture of the white stag, while other masculine horned creatures are to be found portrayed in northern Scandinavian lore, Thor’s goats, Audhumbla, there is something mysterious and awe filled about these beings, and it is in truth that the magic mushrooms grow in the dung of horned and hoofed ruminants, i.e. cattle, goats, bison, etc. The horns and hooves are essentially made of the same material, it is a derivative of hair, an article in itself to show the mythical allegory of long strong hair and importance of hair to the ancients would be needed to go further into such a subject, but this one is about the horns, and of one animal in particular, the cow.
The cow is the primordial giant, and even when megafauna walked the earth like mammoths, and cave bears, there was the aurochs, a massive animal that was much more muscular and larger framed than the modern cattle, it was wild and ate its sustenance from the forest, not grasslands and meadows. It also fought and had quite a veracious bout of testosterone fueled aggression and defense which inevitable would have helped it to survive many ages against predators like dire wolves, and sabertooths. The modern hindu ox is probably the closest we have to the ancient aurochs genetically speaking, and the East Indians know exactly why the cow is to be considered so important, and what this essay is all about. That is, the special forces and effects of the cow horn, and in this case, how that relates to agriculture.
At this time in my life, I have chosen to be free from a nomadic existence and settle into a more sedentary albeit homely sort of lifestyle. Adhering to old principles of seeking land, and connecting deeply to one bioregion. Farming has been a strong tie of tradition for me in the last five years, and the culmination of which I have landed for the year on a biodynamic farm based on the principals of rudolf steiner’s teachings. Steiner was a strong proponent of raising cattle, and using all parts of domestic livestock in what he referred to ‘the biodynamic preparations. On a biodynamic farm, all life functions as a single organic unit, and the farm is an entity in a balanced state that can use everything made from upon it and the grows within its bounds. The animals are incorporated as coworkers, and plant mixtures are made to ensure the health of the soil. Such herbs like valerian, dandelion, yarrow, nettle, horsetail and chamomile, as well as cow manure, crystal powdered quartz, and oak bark are all packed into horns. The horn as a central tenet of biodynamic farming is what I wish to highlight here.
Steiner, and later, his proponents and teachers of biodynamic agriculture espoused that horns carried the latent force of the cows digestive system. The sheathed horn of the free range cow, that eats a biologically appropriate diet is connected via the lymphatic system to the four stomachs and the rumen of the cow, that means that the horn as an agent of digestion, and enzymatic breakdown of nutrients happens on the outside of the body as well as on the inside, or as above and so below. The cattle horns are linked to the gut system, and so carries the memory as well of the food processing, and alchemical breakdown of the prima materia, so to speak. The grass, tubers, insects, vegetables, clay and grain amongst other things that cattle eat on a daily basis move through all the stomachs, and are chewed a second time as cud, then cycles through the stomachs again. The horns act as a post-mortem replication of the digestive tract, as they serve as a carrier for fermented plant substances like the earlier herbs described, the fresh manure, and ground up mineral like the silicate of the quartz. When buried underground in the auspicious times of right alignment, usually around the winter solstice, and coinciding with other planetary and lunar events, they begin to work their magic, and literally alchemize the matter within into something altogether different. A potent soil, biodynamically rendered, aged, and transformed by bacterial microbes, life enriching nitrogens and a varied flora in its microbiome. The horn does this because it had stored the processing power of the nervous and digestive system within its capillaries, and still ‘lives’ to a degree even when off the animal. Further, the horn must be from a female cow, or sow, who has already given birth, whose hormonal shifted has triggered lactation and the chemical compounds that literally transform a calf into a mother cow. The inside core of the horn which is mostly porous bone is also useful, and one friend has suggested its potential use as a water filtration system, as it can collect pollutants or toxins from water free flowing through its cavity. The spiraled shape of the horn also would activate and charge the water as it pours or drips through it.
Besides the biopreparations, there are a slew of other practical and cosmic importances of the cow horns, that should be spoken of. The horn serves as a conduit for orientation in cows, as they roam fields, forest, and meadows in search of grass
and habitation. A cow with fully developed horns will be much more in tune with his or her natural environment, that is because the horns acts as a kind of bio-antenae to geographically position itself in space, in this case, the cultivated and feral land. With the horns, a cow is about to locate water, like dowsing with rods, it is the same concept, their are magnetically polarized and have an electrical force that pumps with the blood and water constantly running through the horns. In nature, like substances attract, and thus the horns will aid the cow in finding ponds, streams, springs or watersheds to drink from. They may also help in finding salt deposits, because of the mineral attraction of keratine and absorption of hair with soluble saline/silica substances, like certain rocks or the equisetum, a.k.a. horsetail plant.
Horns act as defense mechanisms and usually can be found with many scars and battle wounds on them, because they are used to fight other bulls for dominance over their harem. Dehorned cattle often lose this hierarchical structure of dominance, like the pecking order, and will often still fight but end up injuring each other to greater degree as they ram each others stomach region, even so as it sometimes will cause still birth. A cow without horns can prevent the population growth, and increase death rates of other cows. So the male horns represent the active, protective and aggressive force, while the female horns represent the nourishing, provider force, after they have calved. They can be used accordingly in agri-spiritual practice.
Two horns on the head also serve as sensory attachments, and are used to detect minute changes in weather, and danger. A cow with horns will often be seen to find a low valley or sheltered spot when inclement and storming weather is approaching, one without will merely sit down in place in confusion and not move unless further instigated by his herd. Therefore the horns are as indicators of the mood of the weather, such as they are used biodynamically with lunar and stellar alignments, they are cosmically connected to the spatial realm that is influenced by non terrestrial forces. The spiral of the horn can be found in many other animistic forms, like the spiral of an ammonite or snail shell, mesquite tree rings, the flower of life in the central flowering bud of a dandelion, and so show an inclination to sacred geometry in their expression. A further few notes about the properties of horns would include their use in instrument and tool making, and as a vessel. Below I have prepared some drinking horns and raw cored horns for use in the plant composts. By boiling the horns I was able to remove the boney core for use in filtering, and therefore gain the sheath for craft and agricultural use. By sanding and polishing them I could expose the mutli-colored grain of the horns as a particularly gray or ruddy colored horn can reveal streaks of blue, purple, red, orange, and gold. Sealed in wax, they can be used to hold ale, and have been traditionally drunk from with mead, in old Viking and Teutonic iron age societies.
The horns seem to be one of the most sensitive parts of the cow, next to the genitals of course. If you have ever tried to grab the horns of a cow, male or female, they often pull their head away before you have a chance of touching them. They can perceive movement just like our fingers and extremities touch the boundaries of our personal space bubbles, and define our surroundings by how we move within it. I am experimenting with creating a horn dust that also serves a cosmic/fire/fruit principle when applied to plants, that may help in producing better harvest of fruiting plants or healthier and more expressive orchard trees. The marrow inside the horns can also be rendered chemically similar to ashing, by making a ‘bone sauce’ whereby marrow (fat) that is inert inside the bone of the horn can change substance when heated from without, in an iron pot surrounded by fire and allowed to drip out of the bone and be collected subterraneanly. This makes a carrion smelling liquid substance that can be flicked onto bushes, trees and around the perimeter of herbs gardens to protect from browsers and grazers like deer, rabbits, and raccoons. Even after death, the cow horns are still defending territory.
Such are some of the miraculous properties of horns and their use in the field of agriculture and pagan traditions. New methods for the use of horn are still surfacing, and the importance of this relics of transformational power are only still loosely understood.