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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. For more on anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner from this perspective, see here, here and here.
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.)
BD #503 – German Chamomile (Flowers of Matricaria chamomilla encased in a cow’s intestine and buried over winter.)
BD #504 – Stinging Nettle (Stem and leaves of Urtica dioica buried in wooden boxes or claypots encased in peat for 1 year)
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)
BD #506 – Dandelion (Flowers of Taraxacum officinale buried over winter in a cow’s mesentery)
BD #507 – Valerian (Flowers of Valeriana officianalis extracted into water.)
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)