Since the beginning of agriculture, there has been an effort to determine when the best time is to do various agricultural activities: from sowing seeds to harvesting, but also matters concerning animal breeding and care, management of forests and more – according to the “stars.”
Since Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Course, there has been a great deal of interest in this matter, in biodynamics, as he suggested that the heavenly bodies, in particular the sun, moon and planets, have an enormous influence on the growth and ripening of plants. He outlined in some detail, his perspective, while referring to the peasant wisdom contained in various farmer’s calendars and almanacs.
In particular, Steiner spoke of how the planets influence plants and the zodiacal stars influence animals. He spoke of how the sun and the moon influence the weather.
(Geo-centric view of things!)
In 1912/13 Steiner published his first calendar, with his own approach, based on his own research into the influences of the various heavenly bodies through the passage of the year, especially on human consciousness. Focus was on helping individuals get a sense for the more objective spiritual in the course of a year. It turned out to be a singular, one-year publication in this format.
Calendar of the Soul
In 1918, Steiner reduced the scope of the calendar to focus on the “meditations” he created for every week of the year – to assist individuals to live-into the soul mood of nature, the earth and cosmos during each week.
During the Agricultural Course, Steiner was in conversations with several individuals about creating an agricultural calendar, based on his indications. However, this did not come about, despite Lili Kolisko’s work in developing substantial research over many years on the influence of the moon and various planets and astronomical phenomena on plant growth, productivity and health.
An astronomical calendar was published by Elisabeth Vreede starting in 1929/30 and continues to this day under the name of “Star Calendar” but carries neither the indications of the calendar of the soul, nor any of the indications (other than astronomical) that were part of the 1912/13 calendar. It also does not contain any agricultural indications.
Since then, several individuals have published agricultural calendars, related to anthroposophy and biodynamics: in particular starting in 1948 Franz Rulni – who had attended the Agriculture Course and was a farm-adviser (consultant) to many early biodynamic farms, published the first biodynamic agricultural calendar until 1978. In 1963 Maria Thun started to publish her now famous biodynamic calendars, although based on an entirely different framework than Rudolf Steiner had suggested. Later others began to publish biodynamic agricultural calendars taking over Thun’s fundamental approach and have continued with this to this day. There are yet others, who simply produce astronomical calendars without practical agricultural indications – nor with the soul / spirit indications such as in the Calendar of the Soul – but market themselves as related to biodynamics. The “anthroposophical calendar” (“Anthroposophischer Kalender” – only available in German) published by Christine Cologna is an exception, in that she combines many of Steiner’s indications in terms of the Calendar of the Soul and various images for each month, but also includes Thun’s theories.
(Franz Rulni calendar 1948 – 1979)
In my courses, I try to make sense of this history in a very matter of fact and practical fashion. I focus on (A) what Rudolf Steiner actually suggested, (B) what you and I can actually observe and (C) what I sense as a professional farmer (and as a consultant for biodynamic farmers): What is actually realistic for farmers and gardeners to do with and regarding cosmic (chronobiological) influences in their professional farming operations, based on my 4 decades of working with this issue.
In the courses and in my consulting, I go over carefully the grand polarity of influences, stemming from sun, moon and planets, that Steiner suggested in detail in his Agriculture Course (and elsewhere) and how I have seen this to be born out in practice. I also discuss openly, transparently and without prejudice, the various “biodynamic” calendars created since Steiner’s time, how they are aligned or not with Steiner’s suggestions and what can be put into practice effectively from them (or not) in our modern times, in my view. I have worked with many gardeners and farmers on this issue, both in North America and Europe and share openly my experiences and theirs working with the cosmos.
In 2014 I attempted, for the first time (and just for a very small group of friends and clients), as an experiment: to create a calendar for a whole year based on Steiner’s actual indications, including particularly the cosmic influences on plants (tendencies) that Steiner suggested and how one might work with them practically – and integrated: a variety of further suggestions Steiner made to help us experience the essential nature of the spiritual and soul qualities of the cycles of time through the year, including the qualities of the days of the week, the calendar of the soul (about the qualities of each week) and the monthly virtues.
Cautiously, I also added indications for practical work with perennials, in particular grape vines, as it was a specific attempt creating a calendar for grape growers in this case. In the future I may produce a more comprehensive calendar, for farming and gardening, either online or available as a pdf.
The purpose is solely to see if we can gain, using all of Steiner’s suggestions carefully, a deeper and practical relationship to these chronobiological-cosmic influences on our soils, crops and animals – and ourselves – based on an authentic effort at both inner spiritual work and outer practical efforts at renewing agriculture.