In a nutshell, biodynamic farmers believe they can fertilize soil by preparing special concoctions containing herbs such as chamomile, dandelion, yarrow, and oak bark which are stuffed into animal parts such as intestines and stomach linings and then buried in the earth. Mind you, it's not to allow these ingredients to break down and integrate into the soil - it's to "absorb specific cosmic energies."
In this paper by Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D. of Washington State University explains: "The chemical elements contained in these preparations were said to be carriers of 'terrestrial and cosmic forces' and would impart these forces to crops and thus to the humans that consume them."
As you may have already guessed, these processes weren't developed through scientific methodology, but through Steiner's practice of meditation and clairvoyance.
Steiner was an Austrian mystagogue who died in 1925. A self-proclaimed clairvoyant and occult “scientist”, he founded a schismatic branch of Theosophy (an occult-based mysticism that has been condemned by the Church) known as Anthroposophy. Calling it a “spiritual science,” Steiner defined Anthroposophy as “a path of knowledge leading the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe.” Steiner believed people could be trained to allow their higher spiritual self to overcome the material world and come into direct contact with “higher spiritual truths” (the occult). He also believed in reincarnation, karma, gnomes, and a host of other esoteric philosophies.
Not surprisingly, his bizarre farming methods include other non-scientific practices. "These include the use of cosmic rhythms to schedule various farm activities and nutritional quality 'visualization'," Dr. Chalker-Scott writes. "This latter practice uses legitimate chemical analyses such as chromatography as ways to study the 'etheric' life forces in plants through 'sensitive crystallization' and 'capillary dynamolysis' – techniques that are again not scientifically testable."
Believe it or not, this bizarre concept is catching on with some of the world's most renowned wineries now farming biodynamically!
How can this be?
Chalker-Scott posits that the incorporation of legitimate organic practices into Steiner's original ideas has given many the false impression that biodynamics works.
"Many of these [organic farming] practices – no-till soil preparation, use of compost, polyculture – are effective alternative methods of agriculture," she writes. "These practices often have demonstrated positive effects . . . . Combining beneficial organic practices with the mysticism of biodynamics lends the latter a patina of scientific credibility that is not deserved."
And because many of the research articles that compare biodynamic with conventional agriculture fail to separate the biodynamic preparations from the organic practices – positive results are had and everyone thinks biodynamics works.
The result? We now have occult-based farming.