7 June 1924 – Beginning of the “Agricultural Course” on the Koberwitz estate of Count & Countess Keyserlingk – Founding of bio-dynamic agriculture by Rudolf Steiner.
By the time Rudolf Steiner was cajoled into presenting the Agriculture Course, he was well experienced in planting an ‘impulse’- the seeds of an idea, & witnessing the ensuing manifestation. Steiner’s Agriculture Course comprised just 8 lectures presented over a 10 day period in the Whitsun-tide of 1924, 7 to 16 June, at the small village of Koberwitz, Silesia (now Kobierzyce, Poland).
Count Carl Keyserlingk was an anthroposophist, & the estate manager of 18,500 acres at Koberwitz. He managed 18 farms, with more than 1000 workers. So Keyserlingk was keen for Steiner to present a course for farmers. There was some disquiet among the farmers because of the rapid change in agricultural practices in the wake of the supply of cheap synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer flowing from the adoption of the Haber-Bosch process for the ‘fixing’ of gaseous nitrogen which was first demonstrated in 1909 & which was then rapidly industrialized on a grand scale for explosives, & after WWI, for fertilizer.
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer’s account relates that: “Count Keyserlingk set to work in dead earnest to persuade Dr. Steiner to give an agricultural course. As Dr. Steiner was already overwhelmed with work, tours & lectures, he put off his decision from week to week. The undaunted Count then dispatched his nephew to Dornach, with orders to camp on Dr. Seiner’s doorstep & refuse to leave without a definite commitment for the course. This was finally given.”
Keyserlingk was the driving force behind the agriculture course. He was described by Elisabeth Vreede, who was at the course, as “one to whom farming itself was a priestly office” According to the Astrosopher: “Count Keyserlingk had realised the dire need for a complete revival of cultural methods”.
Steiner described his Agriculture Course as: “A course of lectures containing what there is to be said about agriculture from an anthroposophical point of view.” Steiner stated that “the contents of these lectures were to serve, in the first place, as working material for the Association of farmers which had just been founded in the Anthroposophical Society”. Steiner stressed the importance of practical demonstrations: “As to the farmers – well, if they hear of these things from a fellow-farmer, they will say, “What a pity he has suddenly gone crazy!” … But eventually when he sees a really good result, he will not feel a very easy conscience in rejecting it outright”. He empowered the Agricultural Experimental Circle (AEC): “enhance it and develop it by actual experiments and tests. The farmers’ society – the “Experimental Circle” that has been formed – will fix the point of time when in its judgment the tests and experiments are far enough advanced to allow these things to be published”. He stressed the importance of confidentiality: “No kind of communication was to be made about the contents of the Course until such time as the members of the Association felt impelled to speak out of the results of their own experimental work”. It was critical that a project development plan was set in place at Koberwitz for two reasons, firstly, because the Agriculture Course was never repeated &, secondly, although up to this point Steiner had engaged in a comprehensive schedule of travelling & lecturing, he was seriously unwell, & his public life & life itself were drawing to a close. The continuing vitality of Steiner’s agricultural ‘impulse’ was dependent on Steiner successfully passing the baton to others. The AEC began with 60 members of the Koberwitz Course (out of the course’s total enrollment of 111), with Ernst Stegemann & Carl Keyserlingk appointed by Steiner as chairmen.
By 1929, the Natural Science Section of the Goetheanum reported the positive news that the work of translating Steiner’s ‘hints’ was by then a global enterprise: “Dr. Steiner’s new methods for Agriculture have been investigated and applied on a practical and on an experimental basis.
Steiner was prophetic in much of what he taught. He presented the farm as “a living organism”. He spoke against a purely chemical view & a chemical reductionist view, & he insisted on the criticality of provenance. Long before the costs of nitrogen pollution were monetized, Steiner, with great vision, put it in a nutshell: “There is a big difference between nitrogen and nitrogen. He spoke of “the degradation of the products of agriculture” & observed that: “Nowadays people simply think that a certain amount of nitrogen is needed for plant growth, and they imagine it makes no difference how it’s prepared or where it comes from. Where it comes from, however, is not a matter of indifference.” Steiner urged the adoption of a holistic view, & he stated that “we’ve lost the knowledge of what it takes to continue to care for the natural world.” He urged his listeners to take “the macrocosmic approach”& to “see individual plants as parts of a single whole.” He was critical of the approach where living things are “neatly pigeonholed into separate species & genera”, adding: “But that is not how things are in nature. In nature, and actually throughout the universe, everything is in mutual interaction with everything else.”
“The most important thing is to make the benefits of our agricultural preparations available to the largest possible areas over the entire earth, so that the earth may be healed and the nutritive quality of its produce improved in every respect. That should be our first objective.” ~Rudolf Steiner
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1692 – Port Royal, Jamaica, is hit by a catastrophic earthquake; in just three minutes, 1,600 people are killed & 3,000 are seriously injured
1775 – The United Colonies changes their name to the United States
1776 – Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed to the Continental Congress a resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence
1843 – Deathday of Friedrich Holderlin, a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with & philosophical influence on Georg Wilhelm, Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm, & Joseph Schelling. Rudolf Steiner said he was a pupil of Plato in Karmic Relationships Vol. 1 lec. 12
1862 – The United States and the United Kingdom agree in the Lyons–Seward Treaty to suppress the African slave trade
1880 – Deathday of Karl Christian Planck who developed a completely original system of philosophy, based on the realistic view that thought should proceed from nature to the highest forms of existence in the spiritual life. His views were directly antagonistic to the Darwinian theory of descent
1914 – 1st ship passes thru the Panama Canal
1924 – Beginning of the “Agricultural Course” on the Koberwitz estate of Count & Countes Keyserlingk. Founding of bio-dynamic agriculture by Rudolf Steiner.
1980 – Deathday of Henry Miller, American novelist & essayist
1991 – Mount Pinatubo erupts, generating an ash column 4.3 miles high
Dear friends I will be off-line until Thursday 11 June
~whispering the hexagram in the sacred grove…
Friday 19 June 2020 – Front Range Anthroposophical Café presents:
Cosmic Rapture Grounded in Jubilant Hearts – From Summer Solstice to St. John’s-Tide –with Hazel Archer-Ginsberg
To pass the test of Summer we will explore many questions:
- What is the Spiritual Significance of a Solar Eclipse on Summer Solstice?
- How do we stand wakefully within the sublime mysteries of the Summer-Tide, to consciously embody ‘the spiritual wisdom of the gods’?
- Who is the mysterious Archangel of Summer?
- What is the secret to healing the ‘soul-fever’ so prevalent in society today?
Together we will work to strengthen our true “I”, enlivening our will forces.
We look forward to seeing you on Friday 19 June 2020 shortly before 6 pm (Pacific), 7 PM (Mountain) 8 pm (Central), 9 pm (Eastern).
Here is the link to our Anthroposophical Café and all you need to do to join us is click on it: https://zoom.us/j/294724669.
Warmly, Karen vann Vuuren, Tom Altgelt, Jamie York, and our growing circle of Café Friends – It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.