Why are animal organs used?

Biodynamic Preparations 002                                                     voodoo-on-the-vine.2758861.40

There is a helpful explanation on the use of animal parts on the Biodynamic Association website. [addendum May 2016 – this page has been changed and a new one is found here ]

The animal organs are chosen for the unique properties they possess as a result of their former function within the animal organism and serve as catalysts for bringing about the desired fermentation. For example, chamomile flowers are used medicinally to treat disturbances of the digestive tract. When making this particular compost preparation a section of bovine intestine (part of the animal’s digestive tract) is used as a catalyst in the fermentation. A clear affinity between chamomile flowers and this organ becomes apparent.

There is also a chart detailing the quantities of “organ material” needed per acre. These include skulls, bladders and lengths of intestines.

Screenshot (50)

As Jim pointed out before, the quantities are homeopathic. So even when gold is used as in the three kings preparation (only to be used on January 6th) it’s only a 15g quantity, so it is a bargain at £22.80.

You can buy a bag of 10 cow horns or just a single one, presumably for the lone biodynamic gardener. You can buy the horn manure at £4.20 for half a unit or £4.80 for a whole unit.

Why do I mention this? Because there are still people in Stroud who don’t believe the details of how biodynamics is carried out. Surely pictures of little bags of manure and a chart showing how many skulls to use per 300 hectares, and how many centimetres of “bovine mesentery” per 100 hectares on this official website are convincing enough?

Rudolf Steiner’s instructions are being followed closely by biodynamics enthusiasts. Organic methods are not good enough for them. They need the skulls and the bladders and the intestines, not to mention the astrology and the cosmic forces.

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11 comments

  1. Jim

    That’s ok then – I knew there would be a rational explanation.

    As so often the Steiners seek to give a veneer of science to what is merely magical thinking. The organs are said to act as catalysts. A catalyst serves to promote a chemical reaction which may normally occur only very slowly or require the input of a great deal of energy ( typically as heat ). A key feature is that the catalyst promotes the reaction but is not actually consumed by it, so a very small amount of the catalyst can promote a reaction in a very large quantity of the reagents concerned. One might almost say a homeopathic quantity of the catalyst ( but please don’t! )

    All very sciency but misleading. For a start there is no evidence that these preparations have any effect over and above those associated with organic practice. Also the BD advocates are splendidly vague about precisely what reaction is being catalysed and what constituent of the organ is acting as the catalyst. Furthermore for effective catalysis one of the key requirements is that the catalyst should be in thorough contact with the reagents. So for example a catalyst such as palladium might be deposited in minute quantities on an inert mesh through which the reagents are passed so achieving very high contact. Burying the catalyst in the corner of a field doesn’t quite cut it!

    So, more Steiner b*ll*cks I’m afraid.

    • Helen

      Thanks for the “science bit” Jim. I had kind of assumed people reading that quote from the website would see that it was nonsense, but perhaps that’s the problem; people really do think BD (and all Steiner’s nonsense for that matter) has some scientific basis.
      But surely a lot of people must just dismiss BD as hokum – harmless hokum. Just a bit of fun. But burying skulls and intestines is not really fun, is it? It’s deadly serious for the anthroposophists in charge who make their living from it, and they will go to great lengths to defend their reputations.

  2. humanisthousewife

    I once spoke to one of the local biodynamic farmers about why thY to what they do and how it works, and they said “we don’t know how it works, but we have to have faith that Steiner was right. The food grows well and tastes exceptional so that’s good enough proof”.

    • Helen

      Yes, I have heard that too, from someone who is a member of Stroud community agriculture. That is what they are told by the experts; it is the “intentions” that matter. Intentions are mentioned on the BD Association website too.
      As to whether it tastes exceptionally good, well, I don’t agree that is because it is BD. Steiner people do take a lot of care with food and what I have tasted has been very good indeed. But any decent ingredients prepared with care will be just as good.

  3. anna shelley

    Novalis Trust selling Box Woods for £100,000 ‘to preserve it for public use’ … Novalis trust put up razor wire to keep local residents out ‘for their own protection’ from the children at the Cotswold Chine school *who would apparently become violent (while walking in the woods).
    Helen, do you recall this dismal state of affairs? I thinks it’s incredible that Box residents now have to buy back a wood that was always free to roam in (perhaps I’ve got this wrong though) before Novalis took ownership …

    Best wishes to you and your research.

    Anna
    * each child receives £80,000 per annum in Govt funding (or used to when I looked into this) but the care workers are dismally paid etc. perhaps the money is reallocated to property developing.

    >

    • Helen

      Yes, I remember that. And I saw a report in the paper this week about the proposal to buy the woods back.
      I don’t know if there is any way of finding out how the money is allocated at Novalis. I am hopeless at financial stuff.

    • Jim

      But apparently now the trust wants to retain an interest in the land, and access for their children, whilst allowing Box residents access and pocketing £100,000+. Flexible principles.

      I gather before Novalis bought the woods they were privately owned but in a very hands of way so whilst access was unrestricted that could have changed at any time. At least ownership by a village trust should secure access but the continued involvement of Novalis would need to be clarified.

      From previous comments here and elsewhere by BD supporters I get the impression that there are two distinct groups. There’s the “I don’t know how it works but it does” group who just go with the muck and mystery angle. Then there are the Steiner zealots desperate to show their guru was a genius and who concoct pseudo-scientific arguments to prove it.

      Some organic food does taste better but only because it uses better, less commercial, varieties and is subject to less selection, transport and storage. Organic food produced to meet supermarket standards of uniformity and shelf life differs from non organic only in price.

  4. anon

    This girl writes a blog documenting what I can only see as being gradually drawn in to the madness –
    https://gardenapprentice.wordpress.com

    ” I certainly can’t claim to understand much of it, but I’m beginning to get a vague idea of what it’s all about. In his agriculture lectures, Steiner talked about eight different ‘preparations’ that sound utterly crazy but do follow some kind of sense. Two of these are the cows horns stuffed with silica and manure, which are then diluted in homepathic proportions and sprayed on the land. The other six are all the other things (dandelions, chamomile etc) which are inserted in to the compost heaps in very small quantities. They are all strengthening different spiritual forces and processes, and it’s pretty complicated. Whatever the subtle spiritual details are, I had a great time messing around with manure and digging a big hole and cutting up yarrow flowers and welcoming all these extra people to bring a lightness and extra life to the farm for an afternoon.”

    “Having reached the end of the agriculture lectures, I moved on to the next seminal work: Earth and Man, a collection of lectures given by Karl Konig, the founder of Camphill (and the grandfather of our very own Markus). He isn’t quite so impenetrable as Steiner, partly because he was speaking in the 1960s rather than 1920s, but it’s still pretty tough going trying to get my head round the migration of man and animals from Atlantis in Noah’s great flood, the relationship of different domestic animals to different ethers and zodiacal signs, and the notion that all animals were sort of shed off humans as they incarnated on to the earth. And that’s just the first three lectures in the book.”

    She starts by being attracted to the way of life and natural way of doing things; but by dropping in zodiac signs, incarnations, “evolution” amongst the very practical hard farm work, it becomes “normal”

    By the end of the blog she is completely immersed and says words to the effect that that if she had been told all the things at the beginning she would have run a mile and thought it was mad

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