Biodynamic Agriculture speaks with a Forked Tongue

Have you ever wondered why BD people do not make sense once their explanations move beyond the basic BD actions? Why they flit off into religious and faith based stories filled with elemental beings, angels and other unproven dimensions?

It is because ‘they’, as a movement do not have a co ordinated understanding, due to one central concept not being widely understood.

Dr Steiner’s story of manifestation is so vast that only small parts of it can be told at any one time, and his use of words and their translation, makes for confusions. The ‘Great Confusion’ is the use and meaning of the ‘Cosmic Ether’ and how this relates to the Etheric Formative Forces and the Ethers.

 The ‘Cosmic Ether’ is ‘all the forces coming from above’. This includes forces coming form the stars, planets and Earth’s magnetic field.  When RS talks of the plant kingdom, he emphasises that due to the plant only having an internalised  life / etheric body, inside the physical structure; ( and therefore the Astral and Spirit activities of the planets and stars work primarily externally ). The plant experiences all the World forces as one thing and so can be described as a collective term (2).

He then unfortunately, calls the four processes, arising from these external spheres within the life body, the Etheric Formative Forces (EFF) or the ethers. So when there is an assumption that the Cosmic Ether is exactly the same as the etheric formative forces,  all sorts of further assumptions follow on. Markedly that BD is seen as a polarity of the Cosmic Etheric from above and the Physical Earthly from below.  Variations on this theme have developed over time. The formative activity of the Spirit is given over to the Etheric, and so this story does not work with the Spirit as a active force in nature.

Sadly, these assumptions regarding the EFF do not fit with the majority of the Agriculture Course RS gave. So the followers of this story, ‘set aside’ everything in that course except, the most basic and practical suggestions. Given their story is incomplete they then go on to make up all sorts of fill in Anthroposophical explanations which demands ‘faith’ to believe in. We then have a BD religion.

This ‘cosmic ether’ based concept gained a foothold from 1924 and was not effectively questioned until 1951. It seems the Goetheaneum coup, following RS death, and world war 2 had a lot to do with this error not being openly addressed earlier.

The big point is, this view has been questioned continually from 1951 till 2000 by very leading members of the BD community, and mostly by those who have been influenced by the developments of understanding made by the Apop medical community. (1)

The story they promote is that the stars provide the archetypal formative resonance of all the species of life we find on Earth. These forces are altered as they move through the planetary spheres, including the Earths magnetic field, to be received by the Earth before being reflected back from the Earth and manifesting as the lifeforms we see today. This provides a fourfold activity – Stars, Planets, Atmosphere and Earth – that can then be seen in all the various levels of manifestation we have before us. This approach allows for ALL of the Agriculture Course to make sense, and to be applied in a thorough and innovative way.

These folks have listened to the few comments RS made about the Cosmic Ether being a conglomerate activity of the Stars, Planets and Atmosphere, in the medical lectures. The ethers only appear once the star and planetary activity pass through the atmosphere.

Due to the rampant growth of Biodynamics since the 1970s, the relative isolation of the BD groups prior to the internet, and the minimal formal education of most of BDs practitioners and educators, the first simplified, polarity view of BD understanding – seen only in lecture 1 –  has resurfaced. Thus, depending on who you talk to you will get one or other of these stories.

The key difference is one makes rational sense and the other does not. One calls on you to believe all sorts of faith based descriptions, and the other asks you to believe a view of creation supported by science. Even though most scientists have not thought that far yet.

So when confronted with a BD enthusiast , look for which story they are telling you. Is it a two sided story or four sided? The weight of educated BD leaders over the last 90 years is for the four sided story.

A key question to ask is, What is the role of the Spirit in your story?” If they answer it only works to provide self consciousness for the human. (3) Walk away, you have a BD religious zombie in front of you……….

(1) The Problem of the Etheric Formative Forces  –  Glen Atkinson

(2) Fundamentals of Therapy  –  Steiner and Wegmen

(3) The Spirit in Biodynamics – Glen Atkinson 

author – Glen Atkinson,  an independent student and researcher of Dr Steiner’s Agriculture Course since 1976. see