Category: What anthroposophists don’t usually say out loud

Musings from the anthroposophical potting shed

Picture a biodynamic gardener eating his lunch…

“Sometimes I wonder how it has it been possible for me to carry on with biodynamics and make a living from it, given that the advice I follow from Rudolf Steiner is truly bizarre, gruesome, and makes us sound like maniacs to non-anthroposophists, when they hear exactly what we do.

But where I live there are quite a lot of people willing to donate money, buy the veg, and defend Steiner methods even though they don’t know anything at all about anthroposophy. We like to describe these people as “tolerant, creative, part of an outward looking and dynamic community” – at least that’s how my fellow anthroposophist described them in the local newspaper this week.

A bit of flattery never goes amiss.

The important thing, I have found, when recruiting people to support biodynamics, (and my anthroposophical lifestyle) is not to tell people what it is at the beginning. It’s better if they find out later on when they have got involved with the lifestyle.  If they ask direct questions about why I do biodynamics rather than say, organic gardening, I have some useful answers;

  •  I say that it is the *intentions* of what I do that are important.(This sounds good, and saves having to mention specific benefits of biodynamics, which would be complicated because there is no scientific evidence that it has benefits above organics  – and when people find out it’s all in homeopathic quantities, there is quite often a sceptical look on their faces.)
  •  I tend to say it was *inspired* by Steiner rather than invented by him. ( Most people are too busy to trawl through the RS archive to find out how specific his instructions were – and also not everyone agrees that Steiner was clairvoyant, so we would lose quite a few recruits straight away)
  • I don’t mention the gory bits I do myself;  burying skulls and intestines and burning field mice. Or hanging up deer bladders filled with herbs. We basically do that when the joiners in are not looking. (I have a feeling this would put a lot of people off; I am not a vegetarian myself, but many of those who buy the veg boxes every week are vegans and vegetarians, and the blood and guts used to produce biodynamic veg would probably turn their stomachs)

Even if they do read about the details the joiners-in always deny that there are skulls and intestines and bladders  – they have never seen them, and it’s easier to believe such strange rituals are not taking place on their own patch. “Not in this town, they say – probably in Switzerland or out in California where they are more fundamental about everything. Not here.”

  • I do get some of the community agriculture people to help stir the manure in the big pot to stuff into the cow horns – they like a bit of fun when they come here, and it makes them feel involved. Also if anyone mentions the fact that biodynamics has some strange rituals, they can just laugh and say “yes, but it’s harmless”.

Besides all that stirring can be quite hard work, and we need to share the load.

My Biodynamic acres here are expanding. It’s amazing how many people will contribute financially when they are told it’s important to “preserve land” locally.

I don’t feel bad about not telling people the whole story of my gardening rituals.  If anyone accuses me of being secretive, I just say “there’s nothing to stop them asking questions”.

This is a good tactic, because no-one is ever going to ask me if biodynamics is part of some New Age type religion – it just wouldn’t occur to them.  They have never heard of anthroposophy because we don’t talk about it to the recruits, so they never ask about that. It’s just as well to keep quiet – the creed is hard to defend to people who don’t agree with Steiner’s version of reincarnation of the soul from black to aryan.

If anyone does get more curious and start asking specific questions, I describe anthroposophy as a “philosophy”; most people back off at this point because they don’t want to get into an intellectual discussion.

Philosophy, religion, what’s the difference? Just because there are all the hierarchies and angels, the reincarnation and karma, and because I consult the spirits as directed by Steiner in his lectures, doesn’t mean it’s a religion.

I do personally happen to believe in reincarnation, otherwise I wouldn’t be using Steiner methods. But that’s personal – no need to mention it outside anthroposophical circles.”