Introduction to the Four Kingdoms: The Human Being, by Karen Davis-Brown (Talk given at the Southeast Regional Biodynamic Conference Saturday, September 24, 2016)
“Mere intellectuality is not enough; it does not get us deep enough. Nature’s life and flow are so fine and subtle that in the end they slip right through the coarse mesh of our rational concepts.” (R. Steiner, Agriculture Lecture 3, p. 56. C. Creeger and M. Gardner, tr.)
The soil, plants and animals of an agricultural individuality require human guidance and physical activity to fulfill their roles. They require human thinking, feeling, and willing, and the human ability to connect with, and in turn accept guidance from, the spiritual world. When this happens, all the beings – seen and unseen – who live and work on the farm can truly partner in the best possible way.
One way to think about the role of the human being on the farm is to understand the four kingdoms as “hierarchies.” Like we think of the three angelic hierarchies who have gone before us in their spiritual evolution, the human, animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms are moving forward in their own spiritual evolution, still manifesting in physical form.
As the hierarchy in between the angels and animals, plants, and minerals, we are called upon to be the heads, hearts, and hands for our fellow beings at this point in Earth evolution. The angelic hierarchies have no hands; the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms cannot “think”; so we need to take our place in being guided by, and guiding the beings with whom we live and work on our land.
The primary gesture we need to take to do this is one of partnership. My working definition of biodynamics, these days, is “partnering with the seen and unseen beings with whom we live and work.” Actually, it’s my definition for a meaningful life regardless of one’s vocation, but you get the point!
We can really only “show up” for these partners and fulfill our human role on the farm if we develop our capacity for observation with both our physical and spiritual senses. The inner and outer senses are then able to bring us, and to help us synthesize, the knowledge and wisdom we need both of the physical world and of the spiritual world. It is crucial to remember that a balance is needed between what mainstream science can tell us and what the spiritual world shares with us – both are important to complete the whole, holistic picture.
In order to bring this balance, the biodynamic practitioner’s personal spiritual practice and inner work is crucial. My spiritual practice and inner work, over the years, has broadened and deepened, to where now it doesn’t seem outwardly related to agriculture at all. But it is in the most fundamental sense, in that it develops my personal knowledge and understanding of the larger material and spiritual context of my work. I know that this is true for many others as well.
In my personal (not so humble) opinion, the part of our work where this inner work, capacity for observation, and taking our place as the human ego partnering with the other hierarchies and kingdoms on our farms is the most crucial, is our work with the preparations. In no other work on a biodynamic farm do the four kingdoms of mineral, plant, animal, and human – as well as the cosmic and earthly forces — work together in such an important and sacred way. Any experimentation and short cuts around the initial indications by Steiner need to be implemented with the highest level of integrity, humility, knowledge, wisdom, and objectivity, especially when they seek to change the rhythms he recommended or to eliminate the involvement of one of the kingdoms in order to make things easier, simpler, or “just because.”
Lastly, it is no accident that so much of our communal work, particularly that related to the preparations, centers on the four Christian festivals that coincide with the solstices and equinoxes of the solar year – Christmas, Easter, Saint John’s Day, and Michaelmas. The joy and celebration that we bring to the soil, plant and animal kingdoms, and to the angelic hierarchies, is a profound gift of gratitude that is ours alone to give.