Anthroposophy is a human oriented spiritual philosophy that reflects and speaks to the basic deep spiritual questions of humanity, to our basic artistic needs, to the need to relate to the world out of a scientific attitude of mind, and to the need to develop a relation to the world in complete freedom and based on completely individual judgments and decisions.
A more detailed description would possibly point to four basic aspects and levels of anthroposophy:
1. Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy, mainly developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It is born out of a philosophy of freedom, living at the core of anthroposophy.
2. It is a path of knowledge or spiritual research, developed on the basis of European idealistic philosophy, rooted in the philosophies of Aristotle, Plato, and Thomas Aquinas. It is primarily defined by its method of research, and secondly by the possible knowledge or experiences this leads to.
From this perspective, anthroposophy can also be called spiritual science. As such, it is an effort to develop not only natural scientific, but also a spiritual scientific research on the basis of the idealistic tradition, in the spirit of the historical strivings, that have led to the development of modern science.
On this basis, anthroposophy strives to bridge the clefts that have developed since the Middle Ages between the sciences, the arts and the religious strivings of man as the three main areas of human culture, and build the foundation for a synthesis of them for the future.
3. Anthroposophy also is an impulse to nurture the life of the soul in the individual and in human society, meaning among other things to nurture the respect for and interest in others on a purely human basis independently of their origin and views.
4. While rooted in a philosophy of freedom, developed as a method of spiritual research and an impulse to nurture a purely human interest in other people, it also has possible practical implications and as such lives as applied or practical anthroposophy in various "daughter movements" of anthroposophy.
The most developed of these daughter movements of anthroposophy are biodynamic farming, Waldorf schools, anthroposophical curative education and anthroposophical medicine.
The main organization originally built for the cooperation between anthroposophical organizations, institutions and companies is the civil association General Anthroposophical Society, having a centre in Dornach, Switzerland.
Source: Waldorf Answers
Biodynamic agriculture views a farm as an agricultural ecosystem whose goal is to operate as a self-contained and integrated system in the most holistic sense. Biodynamic farm management requires close attention to the living (bio) and energetic (dynamic) interrelation of the constituent parts of the agricultural system. This stands in stark contrast to a more reductionist view of conventional agriculture that focuses on individual parts (soil, animals, crops, even the farmer) in isolation from each other.
Studies have compared Biodynamic farming methods to both organic and conventional methods, and most studies suggest that Biodynamic farms have superior soil quality, more fertile and stable compost piles, stronger crop vitality, and decreased reliance or complete elimination of outside inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.
Source: Demeter USA
The biodynamic compost preparations 502-506 are added to the compost heap in small amounts when it is first made, while preparation 507, or liquid valerian, is applied to the outside layer of the heap by spraying or hand watering.
Compost preparations function together in the compost pile as change agents. In the composting process of the constituents in the pile, these preparations produce a compost that is uniquely sensitive to the needs of the plants on that particular farm consistent with the farm’s individuality. And, in this regard, their actions in the pile are very similar to the actions of homeopathic remedies seeking to bring balance to the whole organism.
BD #502 – Yarrow (Flowers of Achillea millefolium encased in a stag’s bladder, hung up in a tree over summer, then buried over winter.) Initiates life processes in the compost pile utilizing the forces of sulfur and potassium. Assists plants to uptake trace elements in extremely dilute quantities for nutrition supportive to proliferative growth.
BD #503 – German Chamomile (Flowers of Matricaria chamomilla encased in a cow’s intestine and buried over winter.) Stabilizes nitrogen in the compost pile such that it is available to plants for their continued growth through the interaction of calcium and potassium processes.
BD #504 – Stinging Nettle (Stem and leaves of Urtica dioica buried in wooden boxes or claypots encased in peat for 1 year) Organizes circulatory life in the plant through the processes of potassium, calcium and iron. Provides intelligence to the plant to seek the individual components of nutrition needed for optimal health.
BD #505 – Oak Bark (Bark of Quercus alba placed inside the skull of a domesticated animal, surrounded by peat and buried in earth over winter in a place where lots of rain water runs past) Provides healing forces to combat disease through a living form of calcium in the bark.
BD #506 – Dandelion (Flowers of Taraxacum officinale buried over winter in a cow’s mesentery) Stimulates relationship between silica and potassium so that silica can attract cosmic forces to the soil.
BD #507 – Valerian (Flowers of Valeriana officianalis extracted into water.) Provides the warmth of phosphorus to the compost pile engendering life of the pile, and proper utilization of phosphorous by the soil. Utilized independently in an atmospheric spray form, as a frost protectant.
Source: Josephine Porter Institute
Cow Pat Pit Preparation (CPP)
Cow Pat Pit is known as CPP and is a specialized type of compost. It refers to cow manure mixed with crushed egg shell and basalt dust, then put into a 12 inch deep pit lined with bricks. The dung is fermented, together with the preps 502-507, for a period of 3 to 4 months. It is applied in the evenings during the cooler months.
Source: Peter Proctor
Demeter International is the largest certification organization for biodynamic agriculture, and is one of three predominant organic certifiers. Its name is a reference to Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and fertility. Demeter Biodynamic Certification is used in over 50 countries to verify that biodynamic products meet international standards in production and processing. The Demeter certification program was established in 1928, and as such was the first ecological label for organically produced foods.
Certification is difficult to come by and must be renewed annually. Demeter’s “biodynamic” certification requires biodiversity and ecosystem preservation, soil husbandry, livestock integration, prohibition of genetically engineered organisms and viewing the farm as a living “holistic organism”. The certification verifies the fulfillment of the standards on behalf of the farmers, which in turn guarantees high quality food products to the consumers. This is rewarded by receiving a higher price for food certified with the “Demeter” label, ranging from 10-30% on average.
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (1899 – 1961) was a pioneer of biodynamic agriculture in Europe and America. He is most widely known for his innovative work in composting. He conducted extensive research on the preparation and use of biodynamic compost and was the inventor of BD Compost Starter, a compost inoculant. For many years Pfeiffer served as a compost consultant to municipal compost facilities.
In addition to his other accomplishments, Pfeiffer invented two methods of qualitative analysis: a method using a round filter chromatography (circular chromatography or chroma test) and the copper chloride crystallization method, developed together with Erika Sabarth.
In biodynamic agriculture, each farm or garden is viewed as an integrated whole, as a living organism in its own right. Like a human being, a farm is made up of many different organs and systems. When these are managed and brought together in a dynamic way, they interact positively with one another to support the health and well-being of the whole. And like a human being, each farm is unique, with its own personality and identity. The holistic expression of a farm’s unique potential is referred to as the “farm individuality.”
Source: Biodynamic Association
A pasture management system which relies on a diversity of grasses and herbs. This system is based on the work of the late Arthur Hollins and is practiced in Fordhall Farm. The variety and diversity of plants provides a healthy diet for livestock throughout the year and the tight root structure means that livestock can be wintered outdoors without ruining (or poaching) the ground. More information can be found here.
Horn Manure Preparation (BD #500)
One of the biodynamic spray preparations. Cow manure is placed inside a horn from a female cow and buried underground over the winter. It is dug up in spring, stirred rhythmically for an hour, and applied directly onto the soil towards evening.
Promotes proliferative growth phase of plants through increased root activity, increased soil life through beneficial bacterial growth, and regulation of lime and nitrogen balance in the soil. Helps in release of trace elements. Stimulates germination of seeds. (Source: Josephine Porter Institute)
Horn Silica Preparation (BD #501)
One of the biodynamic spray preparations. Ground quartz is placed inside a horn from a female cow and buried underground over the summer. It is dug up in autumn, stirred rhythmically for an hour, and sprayed as a fine mist directly on the growing plant early in the morning.
Enhances light metabolism. Stimulates photosynthesis and formation of chlorophyll. Influences color, aroma, and flavor of crops. (Source: Josephine Porter Institute)
Horsetail Preparation (BD #508)
One of the biodynamic spray preparations. A tea made out of the common Horsetail, Equisetum arvense, infused (and sometimes also fermented to increase its potency - see here) and used as a foliar spray.
Serves as a preventative to lessen the effects when conditions are conducive to fungus problems. Complements BD #501 and works well in conjunction with BD #505 to increase resistance to disease, pests, and pathogenic fungi.
Literally the study of phenomena (or appearance). There is an entire philosophy developed around understanding the world through perceptible phenomena (see here for more on the philosophical approach).
For the purposes of biodynamic agriculture, phenomenology references the work of Goethe and his idea that the way a phenomenon should be observed should suit and be sourced from the phenomenon itself.
In this way the human being is an active observer, involving his thinking in making sense of observations. Through practice, both observation skills and thinking can improve and it is possible to understand the world through the combination of both.
Picture forming methods
Picture-forming methods, developed at Rudolf Steiner’s suggestion, are an aid to pursuing a science of living things. They meet today’s need for high-quality foods from biodynamic cultivation and complementary medical therapies. In addition, scientific procedures that enable a phenomenon to be observed as a pictorial expression of the subject of investigation in its specific context can be characterised as picture-forming.
The common principle of this research procedure – chiefly copper chloride crystallisation, drop pictures, chromatographs and the circular chromatography – involves adding a sample to a system whose innate instability enables it to be affected by slight causes (non-equilibrium system) and reflects this effect in changes to a picture-forming process. The form thus created is then assessed in relation to the subject of research.
Picture-forming methods are not to be confused with so-called picture-producing procedures for visualising data. They do not produce quantitative results nor do they identify individual substances, but rather they serve, among other things, to characterise the quality of foods (e.g. distinguishing between conventional, organic and biodynamic cultivation methods) or water, and can be used in anthroposophical medical diagnoses.
- Copper chloride-Crystalization with addition and Blood Chrystalization
- Information for Doctors about Blood Chrystalization (German - English - Français)
- Capillary Dynamolysis
- Drop Picture Method
- Circular Chromatogram
In a dynamic situation, often there are two poles and a continuum between the two. For example between cold and hot, dark and light, expansion and contraction. It is usually important when observing a dynamic to look at the balance between the two poles and how and when the balance changes (hence dynamic).
The polarity, like the north and south polarity, provide orientation, anchor points from which to observe the dynamics of the situation.
In biodynamic agriculture, the understanding of opposites is also a major cornerstone of the philosophy. Balancing the opposites is necessary to create harmony. These opposites are referred to in many esoteric systems as "female" and "male"- Yin and Yang in the Taoist tradition. The female aspect represents the receptive nurturing, fertility principle, while the male is assertive and more outwardly active leading to the nutrition forming processes. Philosophically, these are seen as the moon force and the sun force.
Rudolf Steiner points out these primary streams of force are mediated in living beings by the substances which focus their activity on earth. The female stream of the Earth is mediated by the Limestone of our planet, while the male cosmic stream is mediated by the Silica in the Earth.
Source: Glen Atkinson
Prepared Horn Manure, 500P
Developed and widely-used by Alex Podolinsky in Australia, Prepared Horn Manure (500P) is made from Horn Manure (500) into which the six compost preparations (normally used for making the compost pile) have been added according to a specific method.
Using Prepared Horn Manure (500P) instead of traditional Horn Manure is a way of applying the six preparations (usually used in the compost) to areas where such compost is not, or infrequently used.
Prepared Horn Manure (500P) has been proven effective on grain and cereal crops, on pastures, market gardens, orchards and vineyards. We recommend using it whenever and wherever possible. This preparation replaces in one single spraying, the triple application of M. Thun's Barrel Preparation (CPP), followed by one spraying of plain "Horn Manure".
Prepared Horn Manure (500P) should be stirred for one hour, in the same way as for traditional Horn Manure.
Rudolf Steiner (1860-1925) was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the 20th century, he founded a spiritual movement, Anthroposophy, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of idealist philosophy and with links to Theosophy.
Steiner led this movement through several phases. In the first, more philosophically oriented phase, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science and mysticism. His philosophical work of these years, which he termed spiritual science, sought to provide a connection between the cognitive path of Western philosophy and the inner and spiritual needs of the human being. In a second phase, beginning around 1907, he began working collaboratively in a variety of artistic media, including drama, the movement arts (developing a new artistic form, eurythmy) and architecture, culminating in the building of a cultural centre to house all the arts, the Goetheanum. After the First World War, Steiner worked with educators, farmers, doctors, and other professionals to develop numerous practical initiatives, including Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine.
Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a more explicitly spiritual component. He based his epistemology on Johann Wolfgang Goethe's world view, in which “Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.” A consistent thread that runs from his earliest philosophical phase through his later spiritual orientation is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.
The Biodynamic Planting Calendar is not based on retrieving past knowledge, but on modern research by many different people, beginning in the early years of the 20th century and still going on today. This research is largely based on suggestions given by Rudolf Steiner.
Each researcher has found certain - often different - cosmic influences to be the dominant ones for their particular environment. For Lili Kolisko, it was the full moon cycle, for Maria Thun, it is the constellations. This illustrates one of the major tenets of a true understanding of, and working with, Nature; that each farm is an individual organism, and its location, climate, ecology, and the people working the land, are all variable factors. It is therefore important that each farmer experiments with different rhythms and cycles, each time observing and carefully noting the results. Sooner or later a pattern will emerge.
It is important, however, to realize that the planting calendar should never be the most important factor to consider when sowing, cultivating, or doing other agricultural work. In daily practice, the weather, soil conditions, lateness of season, and so on, must often override considerations of a cosmic nature.
Source: Peter Proctor
These are field sprays made from cow manure and quartz meal, known respectively as ‘Horn Manure’ and ‘Horn Silica’. Horn Manure is cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn. Horn Silica is finely ground quartz meal that spends the summer in the soil embedded inside a cow horn.
Source: Biodynamic Association UK
Three Kings Preparation
A preparation designed by Hugo Erbe to be sprayed in the 6th January each year.
For more information (including method) please see: http://www.biodynamic.org.uk/about-bdaa/library/the-three-kings-preparation.html