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lundi, 03 décembre 2012



Claude Gilois


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Perhaps the best way to describe Rudolf Steiner is to call him a “Jack of all trades and master of none” or perhaps a master of all.  

Rudolf Steiner had made a contribution in several disciplines before he began his research in agriculture late in life, in 1922, three years before his death.  It was only in 1924 that he presented the results of his work to a few farmers, probably no more than 20 or 30, gathered at Chateau de Koberwitz near Breslau, now in Poland.


His work on biodynamic farming is consigned in a small, but condensed book “Agriculture Course: the Birth of Biodynamic Methods” often disconcerting, a sort of Bible that has not yet revealed all its secrets, this has led many people to dismiss his ideas on the grounds of dubious scientific content.  This is the anachronistic aspect of the theory that has lead some critics to reject his ideas on the basis of dubious scientific value . But is it really possible to detach the rational part of his theory from the spiritual and sometimes mystical l aspect of Steiner personality? Not so sure…


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Rudolf Steiner: His youth


Rod Steiner was born in 1861 in the Hungarian mountains, now part of Croatia. His father was a stationmaster and his mother a housemaid, before she became a telephone operator.  He studied at the Vienna Institute of Technology but he did not complete his studies.    When he was nine years old, Steiner had his first vision; he saw the spirit of a deceased aunt asking for help.  At the time of the vision neither he nor his family knew that the woman had died.   His first spiritual master was an herb gardener with a passion for occultism.


Rudolf Steiner: The intellectual


There is no doubt that Steiner had above average intelligence. When he was nine he was fascinated by a book on mathematics and later on in life he wrote  “I owe it to geometry to have discovered happiness”.   To earn a living he became full time tutor of a child handicapped with hydrocephalus. Within five years the child had caught up with other children and went on to become a doctor.  At night, he frequented all sorts of underground establishments where he met genius bummers aspiring to their slice of glory, he also wrote for art revues.


Rudolf Steiner: with Goethe and Nietzsche


At the age of 30 he became editor of the scientific work of Goethe. Steiner spent five years in Weimar, the capital of “the age of enlightenment” working on the fascinating but lesser known aspect of Goethe’s work on evolution of shapes and colours.  He also met Nietzsche, dazed and dying, and was approached by Nietzsche’s daughter to edit his work.  He started to classify documents but he failed to reach an agreement with this abhorrent woman who went on to become a Nazi.


Rudolf Steiner: The philosopher


In 1891, he gained a Doctorate in philosophy from the university of Rostock in Germany and wrote about Goethe and Nietzsche.  In 1894 he published “The Philosophy of Freedom; A Modern Philosophy of Life Developed by Scientific Methods”, but he was swimming against the tide at a time when materialism was triumphant in philosophy and sciences. He argued for the existence of a spiritual world that would be accessible by scientific and rational methods - the book was flop.   However, this is the book that perhaps best summarized the global philosophy of Steiner and provides the common thread underlying his work including biodynamic agriculture.


Rudolf Steiner: The tormented erudite


At the turn of the century, Steiner was still searching his path and he moved to Berlin; he could be described as suffering from “intellectual schizophrenia”.   He became passionate with biology and appeared, at one time, the guru and the loudspeaker for the well-known biologist, Ernst Haeckel, the apostle of Darwinian revolution. The snag was that Haeckel was an unadulterated materialist but Steiner did not despair and tried to covert him to his ideas of spirituality.  Another paradox in Steiner’s life was to teach the history of sciences at a University of Marxist obedience from which he would eventually be dismissed for his spiritualistic ideas. 

Rudolf Steiner: The theosopher

In 1990, Steiner gave a series of conferences to the Theosophic Society in Berlin. This branch of occultism was enjoying a revival in the Western world in 1875 in the hands of Helena Blavatsky, a leading name in the ‘New Age’ movement. Theosophists seek to understand the mysteries of the universe, they believe in the unity of the universe, humanity and divine.  It is a modern occidental syncretistic version of ancient traditions arising from Hinduism and Buddhism.  For the first time Steiner had an audience and he became a ‘star’ travelling widely throughout Europe to give conferences. 

Rudolf Steiner: The mystic

At that time Steiner was accused of backtracking by joining the theosophists. He fact, he was doing his coming out. He had an audience and he could now expose his true beliefs without fear of being ridiculed. Since adolescence, Steiner had gone into visionary trances, the content of which he published in several books (totalling thousands of pages) such as Initiation, Cosmic memory or Occult science.  He travelled in astral worlds, in previous lives, and met angels. One can only describe these books either as a gigantic hallucination or as poetic and grandiose mythology.

Rudolf Steiner: The anthroposopher

In 1913, he left the theosophical movement as he could no longer get on with the chief theosophist, a notorious paedophile who became besotted with a young Indian who he thought was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Steiner went on to create a new organisation, the Anthroposophic Society that postulated the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible through direct experience and inner development. Steiner wanted the head office to be grand but Munich refused the building permit.  He moved to Donach in Switzerland but war broke out in 1914 while the building, called the Goethaenum, was being erected in scalloped wood decorated with bizarre frescos.



The Goethaenum

Rudolf Steiner: The play writer


The artistic dimension is another facet of his personality; he painted, sculpted, and played music. In 1912, he wrote and staged a play for which he created the costumes, the decors and the sets. He went on to write three more plays, all performed in Munich.  He created, with his second wife, Marie Von Sivers, Eurhythmy, an artistic impression in which movements relate to the sounds and rhythms, every emotion felt is then translated into body movements - feelings of joy, sorrow, and anger can be expressed in this way.

Rudolf Steiner: The politician

In the chaos that emerged from the war, Steiner designed a new political system, ‘Tripartition’ in which society would organise itself into three tiers. The first would include erudite and artists to direct the moralistic ethos of the world. The second tier would deal with the economy and the third tier would include the state and politicians.  The nazi Hermann Hesse signed the manifesto, but in 1922 the Nazis attacked his meetings and Steiner narrowly escaped a group of Fascist thugs in a Munich hotel.  He gave up politics the following year.

Rudolf Steiner : The doctor

As the Antroposophical Society was created, so was   anthroposophical medicine. Steiner opened several clinics, sanatoriums and psychiatric institutes. It was about treating the ‘etheric body’ and the ‘astral body’, which are responsible for the physical disorders. They can be considered as intermediate between the intelligent soul and the physical body, Central to the concept of medicine is diet, the use of plants but also colours and crystals from the planetary system.

Rudolf Steiner: What is left today

It would be totally wrong to reduce Steiner’s work mainly to Biodynamics.Today, the Anthroposophical Society has 52,000 members in 50 countries. About 10,000 institutions around the world work on the basis of anthroposophy that covers medicine, education and agriculture; farms, homes, schools and training centres are established all around the world.

 It is sometimes referred as a soft sect. 

Next wek: Biodynamics: the theory




BIO-DYNAMICS: RUDOLF STEINER : VINS & TERROIRS DU MONDE. OPINIONS, HUMEUR ET HUMOUR SUR LE VIN., je l'ai trouvé insteresante, j'aurais aimé qu'il soit plus grand mais je saeis si court est bon est deux fois bon. Félicitations pour votre poste .

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