Bd and Apop Med – How do they differ?

How do the world views of these two groups differ?

This is THE central question. Before we can see the gifts Apop Med has to give BD, first of all we have to identify where the differences of worldview are, and then how these can be ‘harmonised’.

The BDworldview is very difficult to nail down as any one thing. Many different stories can be heard all around the world. A large factor in this development is that in the pre internet world, the isolation of BD groups around the world, allowed for the creation of their own ‘individualised’ interpretation of a series of lectures, that even today are openly considered to be not understandable. There has been no conscious effort to harmonise all these approaches. Given there are several stories, there is a lot of confusion throughout the stories, which is why most ‘Biodynamic conversations’ of any depth, just fizzle out with no definite solution. This is leading to an increasingly ‘simplified’ version of Dr Steiner’s indications being presented, and next to no real development. Much of BD can be best described as organics with the preps.


A few things are consistent though, throughout most of the stories. It would be good to bring them all out into the open and look at each one. So please add your BD worldview to this discussion, if I have not adequately represented your understanding.


Most of BD, attempts to see the world within the confines of the threefold image, outlined in the first few pages of lecture 2. Something above, something below and something in between. Within this context most stories have the Astrality above the plant, being an inwardly moving contracting Silica force, bringing in the nutritive influences, with the physical and Etheric / Earthly Calcium processes coming from below, being an expansive reproductive growth force.

The plant manifests in between these two processes. Silica / 501 is used to strengthen the Above processes, and 500 is used to strengthen the below processes.


This is all very well, until we find that metabolic processes /the above, are indeed expansive, and nerve sense processes / below are contractive. This confusion finds its expression in conversations about the Cosmic and Earthly processes. The Cosmic Above and Earthly below, (lecture 1) is a ‘common sense’ explanation, however there are plenty of references in the literature to the Cosmic activity being in the soil, and the Earthly processes above. ( lecture 2) This is a source of significant confusion, when you only have two poles.


No matter which of these tracks taken, hardly ever are the Spirit forces or the Physical forces included in their theologies. Any discussion of the energetic activities is expressed as a polar interplay of only the Etheric and Astral.


On top of this, is a strong preference for the role of the four Ethers as THE energetic formative forces of plant growth. This bias looks back at Wachsmuth, and takes what they can from him. However, his worldview does not include the role of the Astrality or indeed the Spirit. He presents the Ethers as the Cosmic Above and The Physical as the Earthly Below. Hence for ‘the moderns’ to adapt Wachsmuth and honour the many RS references to the Astrality, the Ethers have been ‘adapted’, to fit the Etheric from below and Astral above approach. In practice, the Light and Warmth Ethers are accepted as working from above, and the Chemical and Life ethers work from below.


While the Ethers stories provide ‘external’ and ‘internal’ energetic influences on plant growth, RS gives scant reference to them and does not give any preparation indications as to how to influence the Ethers. They are only influenced by external sources such as Light Heat, watering etc. The second ‘problem’ with the Ethers is that all of the places I have read RS talking of the Ethers, they are always in the pairings of Light and Warmth verses Chemical and Life activities. While this fits into the threefold story outlined above, it does not fit with one of the main stories throughout the course, which is the Physical Formative Forces, (PFF – Cosmic Forces, Cosmic Substance, Earthly Forces , Earthly Substance ) which has the corresponding ‘Ether pairs’ polarized. The Warmth and Life Ethers would work in the soil, while the Chemical and Light Ethers would work in the atmosphere, in that context. RS does not say this. Thus the Ethers and the PFF work very differently.


Because the PFF do not fit the 3 fold / Ethers model, they are discarded, and never referenced in most circles, even though near on a third of the course is talking about them.


Another third of the course is addressing the question of all 4 energetic activities, and at least three of the preparations are described directly as influencing these activities. But in modern BD, beyond the use of the etheric and astral, the Spirit is ‘set aside’, and hardly ever are the preparations discussed as energetic body influencers. They are now most often presented as biological and mineral stimulants.


A significant problem for BD is the fact that the plant kingdom only has an incarnated Etheric body, while the Astral and Spirit activities remain external. Hence the importance of the Ethers. They can be the internally working energetic activities, given the Astral can only work as an impression force from outside. So the World Astral plays the role as a ‘cap’ that can be pulled inwards or pushed outwards, but not work internally, in plants. Therefore, when Equisetum is discussed as an astral stimulant, it is therefore assumed that it is stimulating the World Astrality. Yet when this plant is explored via the medical literature it is clear that it is an internal astral stimulant, against the World Astral ( amongst other things – NS astral , Metabolic Spirit, general astral body ). So how does that work for the plant? Confusion…….


I appreciate this is a ‘quick’ overview, so please add how your understanding differs.


To add in visualizing the story below have a look at this picture –


The Anthroposophic Medical view of Creation. ( as I understand it )

The medical view is made easier by Humans incarnating all four energetic activities. Therefore, it can be easily accepted that all 4 activities are active at all times.


In brief, the world activities of Spirit, Astral Etheric and Physical all work into the Human form. These form as sheaths that allow the internal systems to develop and differentiate further. The Physical body is identified into the threefold division as in Biodynamics, however there is a great appreciation of how the Nerve Sense system works right down and into the metabolic system, and vice versa. The BD view only goes half way.


The Medical view sees that each of these systems are an expression of all four activities. So the activity of the Nerve Sense system is an interplay of a resident contractive Cosmic activity ( of both the Spirit and the Astral activities, with the Spirit being dominant), with an expansive ‘transported’ metabolic process working upwards into this. Hence we can find Etheric and Physical processes in the Head region also. ‘Head health’ is a balance of this expansion and contraction, interaction. In the metabolism the same is true . The nerve sense ‘sourced’ Astral ( spirit secondary) works downwards into, and with the resident Metabolic Etheric ( physical secondary) to maintain the healthy functioning of the metabolism. These two major systems – nerve sense and metabolism – then work against each other to provide the stability of the rhythms of the middle ‘chest’ zone, which itself is an expression of the four activities.


RS talks of many layers of manifestation, with an example being the ‘organisations’. Where the Spirit incarnates, RS calls this activity the Ego, and where the Ego works upon the physical organism there develops the Ego organization, which is like an imprint of a thumb into clay. The thumb can be removed but the imprint remains, but in the case of the human form, if the Ego is not in its right relationship to this imprint, then the activity of that imprint can ‘misbehave’ . The same is true of the Astral created Air organisation, Etheric created water organisation and Physical created physical organization. These organisations are somewhat akin to the Physical Formative Forces described in the Agriculture lectures, however my sense is they are a layer into the physical, below the PFF.


Many of Dr Steiner’s descriptions of illness are framed within the language of the four energetic activities, even though it is not always clear and obvious, about which layer – external or internal – is doing what. Essentially though there is a clear image of World activities and internal activities. With the internal activities, there is always four activities at play, even though his discussion e.g. might only be talking of the Astral and Etheric activities in the kidney. It is understood the Ego and physical processes can ‘act up’ as well. The internal activities interact with themselves, with the activities of the opposite pole, as well as with actual and perceived ‘World activities’.


We can see from the sheer quantity and sophistication of the Apop Med literature that there is a more or less consensus on all the parts of this story, and how any particular disease process is manifesting. They have a functional model that allows for discussions to reach a ‘rational’ solution, which manifests as many remedies and therapies.


The big gift the Apop Med view has for BD, is that it clarifies the role and function of the Physical Formative Forces. Yes, plants do only have an incarnated Etheric body, however the 4 World activities do play right into the physical body as the Ethers and the Physical Formative Forces. However, RS talked mostly about the way the PFF act as the energetic manifesters of Life, and in the same manner as he talks in the medical lectures.


Just as the Metabolic Astral and Etheric are the dominant players in the human ‘Belly’, so in the BD language, the Earthly Forces and Cosmic Substance are performing the same processes, in the metabolic sphere of the plant. This is described clearly in lecture 8 with regard to animal nutrition, but once seen, RS also talks of these activities in the soil ( the rest of lecture 2) and in plants – throughout the whole course.


It seems to me, BD has only got half the picture, and so much of what was given to us remains a mystery, and confusing. We cannot stop at the Ethers, and the Etheric and Astral, we need to acknowledge the role of the 4 activities in every circumstance, and take the PFF seriously. Once we do this, the medical literature on Equisetum and the kidneys, for example, will make sense and provide not only a rational basis for us to understand fungal problems , but it also then points to further remedies we can employ to find truly Biodynamic solutions to the problems we face. We also then have the massive resources of the Anthroposophic Medical community at our disposal.