What is Bio-Dynamics?
A broad but simple definition of Bio-Dynamics is that it is an agricultural system based on sound organic practices that considers the immediate environment, and that all life on earth are a result of the forces streaming onto our planet from the planets and the Fixed Stars.
In the attempt to grow produce of optimal nutritional quality, Bio- Dynamics challenges the practitioner to view the environment as a wholistic system of life and each farming enterprise as an individuality in its own right.
Some further definitions;
'Sound organic practice' primarily means that soil fertility is maintained through composting, green manuring, crop rotation and diversification (with inclusion of animal manure at some stage of the process). Also that any remedial measures which may be necessary at any stage of production are sourced from living materials and are not harmful to the environment in part or whole.
The "environment" is understood in the widest possible sense. It is not only the immediate soil in which plants grow, but the landscape in general, the planet as a whole and the solar system in which this planet is moving. One is left with image of being a cosmic citizen all because one wants to grow cabbage!
It cannot be hoped to outline all the intricacies of Steiner's philosophy, however a short outline of some sections of it is necessary in order to work with the Bio-Dynamic understanding at some depth. For more deeper understandings of these concepts refer to the reading list.
In his eight agricultural lectures, Rudolf Steiner outlined a complex picture of our planet. He described it as a spiritual entity that sustains life, through its interaction with the creative energies and rhythms within the universe. This is a broad picture that covers cosmic streams of energy, planetary bodies, physical and subtle bodies of the earth, plants, animals and man, and the chemical elements particularly those of protein.
The most practical outcome of the course of lectures is a series of preparations used to help harmonise all these forces he described. These preparations, and the overall insights he gave into nature, are truly a gift to humankind. The preparations potentially give humankind the conscious control we have so long desired over plant growth, and for which we have had to resort to artificial and poisonous chemicals to achieve. These preparations help to balance the interplay between the physical and more subtle bodies of creation.
But, before we go into the
preparations we need to understand Steiner's view of the plants,
animals and humans.
EVOLUTION ON A PINHEAD
To fully answer the questions which are being asked of this book we need to quickly explore some aspects of RS world view. Most notably the structure and physical workings of the spiritual bodies. This is afterall the crux of this whole discussion. (Steiner books)
In line with most spiritual teachings, Rudolf Steiner outlined life on this planet as manifesting due to an interplay of spiritual 'bodies' and physical elements. These bodies have slowly 'evolved' through aeons of time.
He outlined in 'Occult science - an outline' (4), that creation has developed so far over a series of four great Eras. These Eras, which Steiner called the Ancient Saturn, Ancient Sun, Ancient Moon and our present Earth evolution, equate to the Yugas of evolution ,outlined in the Hindu scriptures. These being the Swarpa Yuga, The Dwarpa yuga, the Tretra yuga and the Kali yuga. Steiner suggests there are three more of these great ages to follow our present age, while eastern belief is that the Kali yuga, our present era is the last era of this cycle.
Within these great Eras there are sub cycles we can identify. There are three time scales to consider. There are the extremely long cycle mentioned above, the Eras. A secondary scale called the Ages. There are seven ages within each of the above long Eras.
Within each of these secondary ages there are seven internal cycles called the Cultural Epochs, of approximately 2165 years each in length. This time period corresponds to the time it tkes for the Precession of the Equinox to move through on equal constellation of the Zodiac. Hence the constellations describe the quality of the cultural ages.
Diagram 32 - Evolution ala Steiner
We are presently in the European Cultural Epoch of the 5th Post Atlantean Age of the Earth evolution Era..
During each of the large Eras of evolution new aspects of creation came into being. Most notably in each Era a new spiritual faculty or 'body', has been added to life on this planet. Both on a microcosm level in life forms and on a macrocosm in our environment. (5) So, in this fourth Era of evolution, the Earth evolution, life now potentially consists of a spiritual seed or Ego (the Spirit), an Astral or sense body, an Etheric or life body and the last to manifest, in this most recent period, the physical body. ( Also see 'The Big Picture' for an enlarged version of this.)
( As this is an essay using Anthroposophy as its base I have chosen to use the common Steiner term of the incarnated Spirit -The Ego. This is the higher self often referred to in modern texts. )
The four physical structures of life we have been discussing are seen as the 'homes' of the spiritual bodies. The Galaxy, where the formative forces of the Fixed Stars originate is the Cosmic & World home of the Spirit. Science tells us it is only the electro magnetic impulses coming from these stars that fills space. Otherwise it is 99.5% Hydrogen in a vacum.
The Solar system, the home of the planets is the 'World' base of the Astral body. This body is responsible for our sensations and psychological responses to life. As we will later it is primarily through studying the planets that we can observe the movements of our psychology.
The atmosphere has developed from the Earth. As the oxygen level has increased so it has been able to support an ever increasing diversity of life. This is the home of the 'World' Etheric or life body.
Naturally physical life takes place on the Earths surface.
These 'bodies' while finding their origin in our macrocosmic environment, have been internalised to varying degrees by each of the different kingdoms of nature. Each kingdom 'personalises' the 'bodies' in their own way. Thus giving us the many different manifestations of the life remaining on our planet. (The Physical and Macro carriers of the Bodies)
The Lemniscate - Cosmic Bodies, Earthly Life
Before we look at each kingdom of nature it may be of value to look at the process of incarnation. In the kingdoms of nature we are looking at the cross over point between the macrocosmic formative structure of Life and the microcosmic manifestation of Life. It is here the lemniscate becomes a useful model. ( Hubble photos) A lemniscate is the form created when a flat spherical plane is twisted in half. This in turn creates two surfaces or dimensions through a middle junction point, however the lines of connection between the two dimensions are never severed.
As Above So Below
The spiralling forms of life, which are mirrored at every level of the cosmos, provides a starting point. A running river moves continually through spiralling forms, which turn and twist eventually folding in upon themselves. It firstly twists to form a leminscate and then folds back under itself.
I imagine a spirit spark begins to spin in a centripedal motion slowly gathering speed and eventually creating a double ended spiral. Eventually one end of the spiral inverts in upon itself which in turn creates a leminscate in space. The top of the lemniscate is Cosmic forces and 'matter', while the bottom starts to collect Terrestrial forces and matter in its inwards spiralling motion. This spirit is essentially becoming a black hole in space attracting matter and light to itself. This spiralling motion gathers its own momentum until it folds in upon itself. Collecting more matter and forces, both Etheric and Physical into its physical body, until it starts to cast a shadow in space. The womb of women can be seen to be such an enfolded internalised life forming space, open to world out of which life again proceeds. ( This picture has been developed further elsewhere on this site.)
The connections between the
outer Cosmic Body and the internalised body are never severed.
Hence as the macrocosm moves, so life is moved.