Anthroposophy is the name given, by Rudolph Steiner, to the philosophy he taught, based on his insights from spiritual science. Taken as a whole, these teachings are among the best that Europe has produced throughout along cultural development; nothing so good has appeared in the fifty years since Steiner was alive. Anthroposophical medicine is hardly known in England except to a handful of doctors and a larger number of private devotees. What does it amount to and why is it so little known?
Steiner stands out firstly for insisting that knowledge gained from insight: instinct and experience are not only as valuable as logical reasoning, but take precedence over it. Thus, common sense is more important than even the most highly trained intellect, and is relied on more heavily by almost everyone. His medical principles stem from a beautifully simple view of the nature of life, which he sees flowing in and through not only creatures that are obviously alive but through any natural mineral or substance from which living things draw their nourishment and landscape. This notion is portrayed in his paintings, which depict this flow of energy and colour as forming and shaping the structure of living things like a dynamic blue-print.
In the human organism Steiner saw three forces at play. One is the metabolic generation of energy and chemical work, in organs that tend to be hot, soft and shapeless; this influence he saw as acting from the belly upwards, rather like a formless fire. The next force is much colder and more rigid, the shaping and organising force that tends to act from above downwards through the nervous system. Bringing these two strongly contrasting influences to bear on each otheris the third force which is rhythm, ebbing and flowing through the body with every breath and heartbeat. This Steiner represented as a figure of eight, weaving around the two other forces and and uniting them.
The more one thinks about this three-part model of the human body, the moreattractive and informative it can become. Steiner used it to show how imbalances between the three components enabled different physical disorders to develop. He went a lot further than this, however. By studying herbs, animal products like honey and crystalline minerals like silica he discovered how each could bring a corrective influence to bear according to its own nature.
Minerals, for example, are particularly striking for their crystalline form — much more rigid and orderly than the human form; crystalline minerals therefore have value in disorders where there is insufficient formative discipline in the body. Honey, on the other hand, being a formless storehouse of metabolic energy, can help in the opposite case where there is too much rigidity or too little metabolic activity to balance it. Iron, the main mineral component of the blood, assists in disorders where the rhythmic element is weak or ineffective.
Having devised a way of understanding and treating our bodily functions Steiner went on to consider our human relations and emotional life. Here he emphasised the importance of full self-expression and complete communication,for which he found words quite inadequate. Instead he taught the use of painting, drama, speech and an entirely new language he called eurythmy — the expression of sound through movement. All these are employed to the full alongside sound nourishment, herbs and other anthroposophical medicines to correct the balance of a seriously deranged life.
What to do
1. Write to Weleda (U.K.) Ltd, Heanor Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire DE7 8DR for more details of anthroposophical principles and medicines. They are the sole manufacturers and distributors in the UK, and put a lot of effort into public information and education.
- Rudolf Steiner House
35 Park Road
- Weleda (U.K.) Ltd
- Training Centre and Courses
Park Attwood Clinic
Tel: 01299 861 444
- Anthroposophical Medical Trust