By Susan Kurz
Biography work is a little like making compost. With compost one chooses a place in the garden and begins to build a structure with varied organic materials: food scraps, grass clippings, leaves, cow manure (if you’re lucky), and straw are layered in a long, narrow mound left to transform through the seasons. If you practice biodynamic gardening, you might add small pinches of five herbal preparations to enhance the process and create a bridge between earthly, biological, and cosmic forces.
In biography work one gathers memories and experiences, both pleasant and painful, both digested and undigested, from life. One places them in a life chart or map continuously adding old memories and new insights as they arise during artistic exercises and in daily life. The artistic exercises are like the biodynamic preps opening the activity to a spiritual dimension. As with compost, once the foundation has been laid, even if one forgets it at times, the process still continues. Then we remember the compost, we dig into it to test the warmth. We rub it between our fingers and smell what once was rotting turning into an almost sweet humus. We turn it over to mix it and bring air into it, then leave it to develop further.
Once one begins biography work, the process is in place even between workshops and exercises. A memory, insight, or understanding emerges unexpectedly and we expose our life rhythms to the airy light of day, the mystery of night and to the wisdom of the cosmos. Looking at our life as though it is a film that we directed and starred in, leads to a new richness in daily life. We get as detailed as a scientist about the memories that we carry and share them with others who listen from a deep place of silence. Both the compost process and biography process transform substances — in the case of compost, material substances, and in the case of biography, soul substances. These substances that we live with unconsciously are transformed into fertile soil for the earth and for the soul as we bring the ordinary into a conscious process and release the extraordinary story of each individual life.