Alan Chadwick and Joseline Stauffacher in Santa Cruz

Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Alan Chadwick at the Urban Garden Symposium,1974, Part 1


The Vision of Biodynamics


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Contents of this Segment:

Excerpts from Lindsey Robb and Robert Graves. Horticulture and agriculture are one and the same. Horticulture is the only art which is not artificial. Reverence and obediance are the important elements of Biodynamics. Man can create or he can destroy. He must respect the great laws of creation. The ancient origins of the horticultural art in China, Greece, Italy and France. The gardener's attitude of approach is all important in the results that will be achieved. One cannot have money as the basis of his horticultural work. If the attitude of approach is correct, then a cornucopia will be unleashed. Relationship and dis-relationship creates the balance within nature. Spiritual vision as well as food is the produce of the garden. Herbs exist for every ailment. Willow as the source for aspirin, tansey, and digitalis. Tansey surpresses hunger. All livings things contribute to nature's balance, and they deserve a place in the world. Soil is very delicate and must be respected. Biodynamics is not negative, but rather positive invoking reverence and obediance to the laws of nature. The importance of the garden in the field of education of children because it contributes to the development of individuality. Food should be spiritual as well as physical. It should be grown locally, not shipped hundreds of miles across the country. All gardens carry the possibility of pointing toward eternity, especially through the technique of the clairvoyer. A call to the members present to join together in creating a wave for the future. (18:52)



Full Text of this Lecture:



Alan Chadwick Lectures at the Urban Garden Symposium in 1974, Part 1

The Vision of Biodynamics


Greetings, and our gratitude to all of those, and particularly to Mr. John Donner (?), who has brought this together here today. I wish to read you two excerpts of very important people first. Lindsey Robb, in Altius, Citius, Longius:

“We have lost that essential unity with the soil. The breakup in this relationship is first indicated in the disregard of spiritual values, and sense of obligation and obedience to the creative powers of the universe.”

And Robert Graves, in a lecture to the Massachusetts Institute titled: The Defense of Human Culture:

“The decline of a true taste for food is the beginning in a decline in a national culture as a whole. When people have lost their authentic personal taste, they lose their personality and become the instruments of other people’s wills.”

Biodynamics is a word used by Rudolf Steiner as a vision in living. One of the great facets of that vision is the whole study of agriculture and horticulture. Let us say that all of horticulture is the basis of agriculture. Nobody can perform agriculture unless they completely understand horticulture. Well, there is no difference whatever between the two, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that there is. Horticulture is and always has been a craft. It is the great art. It is the only art which is not artificial. All the rest are toys of the nursery.

Within horticulture is the whole scene of man’s marriage with all other living things in the world. And this implication means a reverence and obedience to the laws that govern the whole of that matter. For man does not create or make any of those living things. But he has the purposes and the delights of living with them, utilizing them magnifying them, and in his own sense, of destroying them. The vision of Biodynamics in agriculture and horticulture is the great science, the knowledge and the understanding of the operation of those laws of God.

One of the enormities is that there is nothing modern about this system. It is as ancient as ancient. And it is as vast and far into the future as it is ancient and ancient. And that the whole basis of these systems, techniques and methods have come from antiquity: from the ancient Chinese—wherein we have histrionic [historic] records—through the Phoenician, the Egyptian, the Golden Age of the Greek, right up to the great cultures of the continents of the world, particularly through Italy and France into the enormous Classic cultures, gathering knowledge, gathering knowledge and putting it together and maintaining a perpetual motion of enchanting and exquisite culture.

The whole of this approach has been the foundation of a propagation of man’s further image of culture within himself: an uplift. That the importance within this area is very unquestionably the word “approach.” Why we put our foot upon the soil, why we should enter a gate and make a garden, why we should enter a field and build produce. The whole reason behind it is an instant result of what will take place, possibly forever, and this is the whole matter. For no garden, and no farm is for money. Neither is it for us. It cannot be. It is total. It belongs in eternity, and it belongs with nature. It is, unquestionably, in all cases, for totality.

And the whole magic that concerns what comes out of this approach is that instead of saying, “I will take this and get so much out of it”, in which case every fool will. You may take twenty acres and say, “I will get twenty thousand dollars,” and you will, that’s exactly what you can get, and it amounts to nothing. But you will take one acre and enter it with the vision of reverence and obedience of the laws of Nature and you will get a cornucopia that will never cease to flow, like a vast river. And you will have produce and production, not in edible quantity, but in happiness and creativity: total.

The whole of this is a symbol, that every living thing is in this world, not by us, that it must somewhere have a regard and consideration. And the vision behind Rudolf Steiner’s attitude in this is the matter of relationship and dis-relationship, for and against, black and white, hot and cold, summer and winter, even to the extent of good and bad: the balances that are within nature. In the whole herb world, is a herb for every matter that concerns man. The whole image of the golden age was the participation and the taking of food, not, not of course for physical fuel, but for spiritual vision as well as food. And here is the whole scene of the moral code of the influence of herbs. That every part of the anatomy is connected with the planets. And that every herb is governed by a planet or planets. And that there is not a single part of the body, or a single herb that does not have a relationship and a dis-relationship.

If your hair is falling out, there is an herb that will put the matter right. If your eyesight has gone or is going, there are herbs that will restore this matter. If your heart is troubled and out of balance, there are herbs. If you have an ache in a limb or a broken bone, there are herbs. What other matter has there ever been? It was the Greeks who discovered that the willow was their aspirin. That’s what the aspirin is today, and the Digitalis for the heart, and the Saturea.

And you must realize that Tansy is a dis-relator, in conjunction with (?). Tansy is one of those magical herbs that reduces the appetite, and so it is eaten at Lent.  “Tansies” were little cakes made with Tansy to stop you wanting to eat, and gave resuscitation to stand over a period of the Austro or Easter and Lent. And so the whole world of herbs is a magical director, a relator and a dis-relator, not only with man, but with every single living thing in the world: with slugs and snails and aphids and leaves and birds and animals and ants. They are all magical creatures, beloved by children, and must somewhere have a regard [respect].

For we cannot say, “This area of nature is taken from the world and given to us, for us, and everything is to keep out.” For it is impossible. For soil itself, and air and water, is the constitution of totality. It is dead butterfly wings. It is the skulls of animals. It is the live sand that falls off the face of rocks, and the exquisite leaves that make [leaf] mold. And all of them are a constitution of soil and air and water and there is no difference between any of those except our absurdity of names. Soil is as delicate as the most delicate plant. It is bruised, damaged and destroyed with the utmost ease. And we approach it like lunatics. We jump on it, run enormous weights upon it, and destroy it, because of selfishness.

The whole attitude of Biodynamics is in no way negative. It is not in any case telling anybody, “You must not use machinery, you must not use chemicals.” It is nothing connected with this at all. It is completely disinterested in that. It is completely positive. It is reverence and obedience or the total law by which everything in this world has ever lived. And it is an understanding and a knowledge of that enormous, unending matter. Therefore it is utterly positive. And all biodynamic gardens and farms cannot be but an immense symbol of this experience (?). And as a symbol, it is in itself, sufficient to be its educator.

And I would suggest the enormous importance of parents with children, with education. Is not the whole law of the garden and of nature, married together, the very initial basis of the whole vision of education. Is it not parents, holding children’s hands in all of these magical matters which are undiscussable, which are visceral. For everything that is total is of the invisible. And that this is of great import: that parents should take by the hand children into the garden, lead them into the magic of the garden, the effects of the magic of the garden, which no human being of themselves can instill into any soul. But the very soul of the individual does find the soul of totality in all subjects that it is dealing with. Thereupon the human (?) and indeed, is real in each individual. Out of which will form the classicality, and each individual will become a person of standing culture and classicism, and build as humanity.

That at no time should we or could we divorce children from the whole study that comes out of the life of the garden, the magics of. That for twenty-five years, fifty years and a hundred years is nothing in the creation of the magic of the garden. And that all the produce, all that is required of a family can with utmost ease can be grown in the smallest space. And is it not of great importance that we should have a knowledge of the labor and productivity and the magics of all matters that we live with.

Is it not important that all our food should be vital, that it should be spiritual food as well as physical food? And that it should have all the vitalities of the environment that we live in. That it should not be shipped for hundreds of miles, dried up in cases and tins and frozen to degrees of insanities whereby it contains nothing but appearance, but synthetic. And in this it becomes a huge lesson in the herbs which are vital; for all plants are herbs. And without this living with the garden, which is part of the home, we lose the whole concept of the word “vision”.

So whether it is a communal garden of great crowds and masses of people, or individual gardens makes no difference whatever. But to the whole basis of the garden is the great provisionment that is required physically, but beyond the whole of that, the vision of that matter which is eternal. And all gardens must have in them the basis of this construction of landscape. That you must have all the wonderful plants, all the flowers and vegetables and roots, and be overwhelmed with the joy and the pleasure and sustenance of them, and influence of the herbs as medical care. But beyond the whole of this must always be built into the garden the via, the clairvoyer, the clear vision, leading as a pathway for the eye through the garden, out over the hedge, into the forest, over the mountains into the stars forever.

And should it not be perhaps now, on this very portentous day when we meet here that we set up this reverence, this obligation to the obedience of the enchantment of the whole law of God with Nature. That the members here, numerous, will lead gardens and children, and people. For two-year-old and a hundred-year-old are all as equal belonging in the garden, in the enjoyment and the magic of it. And shall we not, perhaps, form this very day a procedure, a wave, a wave of culture that will re-enter life as a positive leadership of that which is joy, happiness, and reverence.


[Transcribed 2015 by M. Crawford and G. Haynes]




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