Commentary on the Agriculture Course

For english-speaking members of Albero della Vita and course participants past and present to assist each other to work with homeodynamic agriculture.
Mark
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Commentary on the Agriculture Course

Post by Mark » 14 Jan 2009, 16:12

Enzo's 330 page commentary on the Koberwitz agriculture course is done. (We received some funding for this from the BDAA Grange Kircaldy Trust and the Hermes Trust.)

It's good stuff. Those of you who know Enzo from the January 2008 course will have some idea of the flavour - great penetrating ideas gleaned from various areas of life, a few highly provocative parts, many pointing off to the most interesting sidetracks etc etc. I have learned some Italian along the way.

Does any one want a copy? Depending on the numbers who are interested the cost is between UK£18 and UK£24 which goes to cover the costs of the printing (which is high on small print runs), and translating. Some also goes to l'Albero della Vita to continue their excellent work.

I have made a few of the meetings available for download - random ones from the book to give a taster and ideally to lure you into buying the lot. There's the contents pages with meeting 1, meeting 3, meeting 8 and meeting 21

Mark
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Posts: 867
Joined: 12 Jan 2006, 11:26
Location: Forest of Dean, UK
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A Review

Post by Mark » 03 Feb 2009, 23:05

Commentary on Dr Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Course
ISBN 978-0-9517890-6-3

30 times between January 2001 and January 2005, a group met in northern Italy to study Dr Steiner’s ‘Spiritual-scientific Foundation for a Renewal of Agriculture’. The meetings were lead by Enzo Nastati. Notes were taken and these have now been translated into English.

So far as I am aware this is the third commentary that is available in English. John Soper and Glen Atkinson have previously made their work available - the latter at no cost. As with these previous two commentaries, the original lectures are tackled in the order they were given. But there are several distinctive aspects in these 320 pages.

First is the introductory meeting that offers an overall framework in which to place the complex that Steiner offered in 1924. This is a most fruitful comparison between the agriculture course and the historical trajectory outlined, for instance, in one of Dr Steiner’s basic works - Esoteric (or occult) Science. Whilst the comparison of lecture 2 with the Egyto-Chaldean period initially seems to stretch the importance of the ‘missing’ clay preparation, lecture 3’s parallel with the Greco-Roman period is a very illuminating. The fourfold model seems to be fit the ‘sisters of nitrogen’ very closely and placing sulphur at the centre of the cloister or the peak of the pyramid brings order to a very difficult lecture. Above all, the otherwise enigmatic cameo of the philosophers’ stone begins to assume the importance one would expect of this highly prized rock. Once one has noted that that which turns the base into the sublime is placed in the middle of this lecture anyone familiar with Steiner’s anthroposophy will realise why it is right in the middle of the Greco-Roman lecture.

One of the enigmas of the agriculture course is that it is totally free of any reference to Christianity. This can be seen as a blessing because it leaves this potential barrier out for those to whom Christianity is primarily associated with bigotry, smug moralising, wars and intolerance: who needs that when trying to get on with farming? However, it is an enigma here because of the importance that Steiner puts upon the ‘central event of humanity’s history’.

The pattern continues with the ‘preparations’ in lectures 5 and 6 as a path to a new three-folding in our own times, and on towards the ‘new Jerusalem‘ in the last two lectures. It even suggests why Dr Steiner spent an uncharacteristic amount of time talking about the hospitality of the Keyserlingk’s at the start of the first lecture: I now see this as reflecting the state of warmth in which one is nourished without effort as a parallel to the Indian era before Zarathustra initiated agriculture in the Persian epoch – itself seen in the twofold or polar relation between silica and calcium.

This leads us to a second characteristic of Enzo’s commentary - the unabashed and clear use of Christian imagery and language to elucidate Steiner’s lectures. If this is not resisted it can be highly illuminating in relation to the agriculture course, but also as a guide through esoteric Christianity as central, for instance, to the alchemists of old. One could use many illustrations of this but I was particularly struck by nitrogen’s role of bringing the cosmic images of Mary/Sophia to the sensitive farmer and plant, and by the trinity in relation to the planets and zodiac.

In harmony with the first rule of the Rosicrucian – that the free will of the individual is sacrosanct - the approach is taken that a person’s morality is his or her own business. However, this commentary is also run through with the conviction that the farmers’ morality is central to the success of their role. This role is shown to be more than the coaxing of food from the sunshine and soil for the markets, but as the sacred task of interacting directly with the laws of life in order to guide the evolution of humanity and of the ‘lower’ kingdoms. Between this conviction and the honouring of the free individual Enzo presents the ‘agriculture course’ as a path of initiation in itself. Farming becomes the ‘trail by Earth’, suited only to the most hearty, thoughtful and diligent who feel themselves called to look after the Earth. In this grand perspective, the details of the agriculture course find their proper context.

In order to keep the review short I would also just point to several other characteristics of this commentary. There are many details that fill out the merest hint in Steiner’s lectures. (Some are ones I would have liked to have had many years ago.) There is an enormous confidence in the assertions and discussion that make up these meetings. Again this can be a barrier or a relief depending on whether it is considered to be arrogance or confidence. Finally there are tools to move beyond the current state of biodynamics whilst remaining true to its foundations. There are many examples of this including Enzo’s own ‘homeodynamic’ preparations such as the different treatment of the equisetum preparation, the many clay preparations, and so much more.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to the following: those who have admiration for Dr Steiner’s approach but feel they could benefit from assistance in understanding many of the impenetrable details of the lectures: those who feel that the dignity of the sons and daughters of the soil is almost unrecognised: those interested in alchemy, nutrition, ecology and sustainability: those who would like the spirituality of their gardening and farming made explicit: those interested in the course of the Mysteries in modern times: those who wish to move on from 1924 and find an approach to the issues not then so dominant. But then I would recommend it – I have translated and published this book and will gain financially from any sales. It is available from me for UK£20 or in the USA for $30. The commentary is also available in Spanish and, of course, in its original Italian. Part of the income supports Enzo’s own research.

The books arrived from the printers at Candlemas 2009. Later in the week the annual public meeting at Dornach on biodynamic Agriculture begins. The subject is Steiner’s 1924 lecture series. I hope that Enzo’s commentary will act as a yeast to bring this event to life for all our sakes.

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