The Agricultural Course

Because many people were asking for a deeper understanding of agriculture, Rudolf Steiner decided to hold a series of lectures in Koberwitz, in 1924. There he developed a new understanding for agriculture from a spiritual scientific perspective.

Paths leading to Rudolf Steiner’s lecture-course on agriculture

Carl Graf von Keyserlingk

During the years preceding Steiner’s lecture-cycle on agriculture, he became involved in various places with farmers and their concerns. Their acquaintance with the contents of anthroposophy awoke the question what anthroposophical spiritual reseasrch could mean for their concrete professional work.

Carl Graf von Keyserlingk (1869-1928) was the important figure for the beginning of a method of working on an anthroposophical basis. He was responsible for 18 estates comprising 7,500 hectares, belonging to the sugar factory “Vom Rath, Schoeller und Skene” to the south of Breslau. In 1920, the Count with his family moved to the mansion of the Koberwitz estate. Besides this, since the beginning of the 1920s, Breslau und Koberwitz were the places where the life-paths of a number of personalities met. They were involved with the inception of Steiner’s lecture-course on agriculture, and through this stimulation their life’s work was determined.

On 22nd May, 1922, Immanuel Voegele (1897-1959) and Erhard Bartsch (1895-1960) sent an announcement to interested farmers. In a letter sent to Steiner, they wrote: “Farmers belonging to the anthroposophical movement fervently wish to work out of the recognition of the life-necessity of their profession and what anthroposophy means for the fulfilment of this, to work in their realm in a contemporary, spiritual-scientific manner. The first step to realise these aims would happen if you, most esteemed Dr Steiner, would give in a course or a sequence of lectures the general spiritual-scientific bases and the specific indications necessary to deal with agricultural questions.” The lecture-course was then prepared by a group of people. Count Keyserlingk collected both the human and professional questions and passed them to Rudolf Steiner.

A second path leading to the agricultural lecture-course was taken from the Goetheanum by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (1899-1961) and Günther Wachsmuth (1893-1963). In 1922/23 various farmers approached Steiner for advice, because they saw the increasing degeneration of seeds and of many cultivated plants. In this respect, the interest of Pfeiffer and Wachsmuth was more directed to the etheric formative forces.