Jasper van Brakel

Jasper van Brakel, former head of Weleda North America, will lead the pioneering social enterprise funder in its next phase of innovation.

RSF Social Finance has named Jasper J. van Brakel, former president and CEO of Weleda North America, its new CEO effective March 19. In addition to offering proven leadership—van Brakel built Weleda’s brand in the U.S. and Canada and oversaw substantial growth—he brings impact-driven investing experience and a deep connection with RSF’s values to the position.

“When I heard that RSF is looking for a new leader, I was immediately excited and intrigued,” van Brakel said. “The people who are most inspiring to me are those who take a radical idea and execute it brilliantly in the interest of the whole, bringing ideals from 30,000 feet to ground level, where they can truly work to bring about change. That’s what RSF does as an organization, and it’s what all of RSF’s donors, investors, borrowers, and grantees are doing.”


The UK website Wallpaper* (which covers architecture, art, design, and more) has a concise appreciation: "Rudolf Steiner’s Goetheanum in Switzerland is a philosophical masterpiece."

One of the largest reinforced concrete buildings of its time, the Goetheanum has an enigmatic design that combines the charismatic volume of Gaudí, with the zeal of an Orthodox onion dome and the command of a Brutalist masterpiece...

Steiner applied Goethe’s laws of metamorphosis to architecture, designing each part of the building as a cog in the greater machine with a greater purpose: colonnaded corridors circulate the main auditorium like devoted veins transmitting information into the heart of the vessel and cavernous staircases peel out like organ pipes sculpting the movement of sound..

There are a number of fine photographs François Coquerel. Read more...

If you missed the live webinar presented by AWSNA and the ASA: Who Are The Honey Bees? with Alex Tuchman (beekeeper, educator, farmer and writer) and Gunther Hauk (a Waldorf gardening teacher, biodynamic gardener, and beekeeper for over 40 years) from Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary--

Click here to view or listen to the recording and download supporting materials.

At least three individuals are doing notable work to help us know and feel our place in the cosmos. Mary Stewart Adams directs a "dark sky park" in Michigan and has given many talks and webinars on events among the stars. Hazel Archer Ginsberg is active in the Chicago branch and produces a blog and website, Reverse Ritual, following Rudolf Steiner's original impulse for the Calendar of the Soul. And Jonathan Hilton continues the work of Willi Sucher through the Astrosophy Research Center and regular presentations on the stars and humanity's evolution.

The latest of these takes its start for 2018 from the "supermoon" of New Year's Day, explores the background of the regions known as the Twins and the Archer, and leads back to the first foundations of our human existence. Read more...
[Update: And a next one is already online, Epiphany and Pluto.]

Mistletoe harvesting

Mistletoes are flowering plants, but they don’t form a root and they are wholly dependent on food from the host tree. Their leaves are permanently green, but not optimised for photosynthesis. The material and quality of mistletoe is thus shaped by the mother tree, without which it could not exist.

Just a hundred years ago an extract of mistletoe was first used for treatment of cancer. Dr. Ita Wegman was guided by the research of Rudolf Steiner. The website SwissInfo.ch has published a beautiful series of pictures on the harvesting and preparation of this important medicinal plant, along with a short commentary on its unusual properties.

Eliant logo

Eliant, the independent non-partisan organization that represents anthroposophical initiatives in the public sphere in Europe, held a successful conference in Brussels November 28th: Towards a healthy digital ecosystem: Values, Competences & Responsibilities.

Digital technology is becoming increasingly pervasive in everyday life and raises questions about the role of technology in business, politics and everyday life. Its implications for the healthy development of children and young people must be urgently assessed.

Europe needs citizens with motivation, tolerance, creativity, empathy and common sense – competencies that must be developed from an early age as a result of interactions between humans.

Available online is a collection of scientific references in English and German. These include:

  • “A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens”
  • 20 Theses from the perspective of Brain Research
  • The Brain — A Mediating Organ, by Thomas Fuchs
  • Screen Dependency Disorders: A New Challenge for Child Neurology
  • Tablet Totalitarianism: How an Obsession with 'Screen Time' Misses the Point
  • Too Much Facebook Causes 'Virtual Autism' Claim Experts

and much more.

photo by Ksenia Avdulova

RSF Social Finance, the leading funder of food hubs in the U.S., has loaned $1.56 million to Whitethorne LLC, a new subsidiary of the nonprofit Hawthorne Valley Association that will expand production and distribution of the Hudson Valley farm’s in-demand line of biodynamic and organic sauerkraut products.

Whitethorne will continue to sell its lacto-fermented vegetables and probiotic drinks under the Hawthorne Valley Farm brand. The handcrafted products are already available from market stands and retailers all over New York City and throughout the Northeast. The for-profit spinoff, combined with the capital infusion, will allow HVA to scale up both the kraut business and its impact.

“This is an important move for Hawthorne Valley as it will greatly enhance our ability to produce a quality product, increase our purchases from local and regional farmers, and generate additional income to support our main campus’s educational, research and cultural programs,” said Martin Ping, HVA’s executive director. “Our original 1500-square-foot production room for the kraut products was almost literally bursting at the seams.” Read more...

“Chef and farmer Eric Skokan of Black Cat Farm Table Bistro was shoveling out the duck house several years ago when he had an idea. In order to avoid triggering his gag reflex, why not create a portable shelter for the birds to move around his fields and fertilize his crops?” So opens a lengthy story in boulderweekly.com under a handsome picture of dug-up cow horns.

Jim Fullmer, executive director of Demeter Association, Inc., the only biodynamic certifier in the country is quoted: “The biodynamic system is just the original idea of an organic system. That is what it was supposed to be. Not a list of materials that are allowed or prohibited, [which] is what organic has become.”

“At Black Cat, Skokan and his wife and business partner, Jill, grow more than 250 different vegetables and raise sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys and geese on 130 acres spread between three different plots of land in Boulder County. At the lowest point of production in March, about 65 percent of the Bistro’s menu comes directly from the farm, Skokan says. At the height in the fall, it hovers around 95-97 percent.” Sounds delicious, and good for the Earth!

Bobby Matherne's distinguished series of Digestworld book reviews, including dozens of works by Rudolf Steiner, takes a timely (Hallowe'en, All Saints Day) look at the new SteinerBooks Collected Works edition of The Connection between the Living and the Dead. Editor Christopher Bamford introduces this large topic.

In Christopher Bamford's Introduction one can find gems of insight and wisdom acting like a trailer for an upcoming blockbuster movie, a movie which will feature each of us in our time between death and a new birth. Bamford illustrates a special process happening then in which we will each receive our I-consciousness, our own individuality. He points to an earlier knowledge of this process in the Middle Ages, and calls it "the triumph of spiritual existence over bodily existence."

The lavishly illustrated review is here, the book at SteinerBooks is here.

Mary Stewart Adams has done several well-regarded webinars, one preparing for this summer's eclipse. She also just gave a pre-conference in Phoenix, Arizona, "The Deeds of Rudolf Steiner Written in the Stars," which led into the Anthroposophical Society's annual gathering.

Her home base is a "dark-sky park" in Michigan, and it, too, is recognized as outstanding. The International Dark-Sky Association reports that

Headlands International Dark Sky Park has been recognized with the 2017 International Dark Sky Place of the Year Award. ... [It] offers visitors a protected nighttime wilderness to experience first-hand the beauty and inspiration found in the natural nightscape. But Headlands really shines in its efforts to provide programs that put visitors in touch with our heritage of human inspiration cast by the stars.

Located near the northern tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula, on the shore of Lake Michigan, Headlands International Dark Sky Park safeguards the human imagination by preserving access to both the night sky and the stories it holds. “Since the most ancient ages of humanity the highest achievements in art, literature, architecture, science, poetry, and agriculture have been and continue to be inspired by our human desire to understand our place in the celestial environment,” said director Mary Stewart Adams.


The special Michaelmas webinar, Hearts Are Beginning To Have Thoughts, with Rev. Patrick Kennedy is available now online, video and audio (and PowerPoint slides). To access the video recording, click here. To listen only, click here. Patrick teaches at the Christian Community Seminary in Spring Valley, NY. — Thanks to all who offered donations to help make this webinar and others like it possible! To donate to ASA Programs, please click here.

"On 21 June 2017, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament adopted a joint report on "a new skills agenda for Europe." ECSWE (The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education), together with other partners and its national members has successfully lobbied committee members to include amendments calling for an age- and development-appropriate media-pedagogy. This is an important step for the European Waldorf movement. If adopted in the plenary in September, the report will allow us to initiate a debate on how to teach digital skills in an age- and development-appropriate way." More on this story...

For the NBC Today Show, Maria Shriver recently prepared a report on the One Gun Ranch in Malibu, CA, where biodynamic agriculture is at the heart of nutrition, healing the earth, rescuing animals, and teaching kids who may not know where food comes from.

The Today Show crew responds to a report on BD by Maria Shriver (second from right)

Bobby Matherne has thoughtfully reviewed scores of volumes of Rudolf Steiner's work in his wide-ranging Cajun-based e-newsletter. This month he explores Volume 2 of the Selected Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American precursor of anthroposophy. Reading Emerson's Self-Reliance at 18, he says, "I was never the same. Everything I experienced afterward took on new meaning and importance in the light of Emerson's powerful searchlight which flooded my soul." Read the review here.

Huffpost contributor Carol Smaldino recounts a truly holistic experience of food, wine, landscape, and well-formed concepts of a biodynamic vintner near Lucca, Italy. "We were at the Tenuta di Valgiano, with Laura di Collobiano, proprietaria (owner)... Laura 'had me' at two expressions; actually it was more than that. One was the title of this piece, that 'wine is the liquid expression of the landscape.' The second, equally as important, was, 'It's not money that makes good wine. Wine is the project of a lifetime.' ... In addition, Laura spoke about the use of pesticides. She and others in the field of biodynamic farming see themselves not as 'fighters of disease but as creators of health.' It was fascinating to hear how it can be practical to be healthy, practical to cooperate with other farmers and makers of wine in an atmosphere where people are glad for the variety of products, realizing that no one person or azienda can do or make everything. And it turns out the 70% of agriculture in Lucca is in fact biodynamic, encouraging also." Read the whole article here.

Ibrahim Abouleish (23 March 1937 - 15 June 2017) was born in Egypt, but went to study in Austria, where he became a successful researcher. Having met anthroposophy, biodynamic farming and his wife there, his concern about his own country kept growing. He returned to Egypt and bought 70 hectares of barren desert land, which he gradually transformed into fertile fields, using biodynamic farming principles. Over the years numerous – independent and associated – farms were added, as well as production and training centres, medical institutions, a kindergarten, a school, a university, research and cultural institutions, to form what is now Sekem, the «miracle in the desert» that is known all over the world and has won many awards.

Ibrahim Abouleish was small in stature, delicate, kind, warm-hearted, attentive, sensitive but strong and determined – and he had a big soul! His vision, which he purposefully put into practice, was not restricted to physical achievements but included social forms that reflect the dignity of each individual, a future associative and sustainable economy and a deepened understanding between east and west, Islam and Christianity, made possible by anthroposophy. I bow with reverence, gratitude and love to his earthly achievements. | Gerald Häfner, Goetheanum, from Anthroposophy Worldwide 7-8/17

Matthias Girke (photo: Heike Sommer)

Matthias Girke is the newest member of the Executive Council at the Goetheanum. On April 8th, 2017, the members of the General Anthroposophical Society confirmed the proposal to include the physician and clinic co-founder from Berlin. He has been head of the Medical Section at the Goetheanum since September 2016.

As the School of Spiritual Science and headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society, the Goetheanum has been undergoing a reform process for several years. Contemporary forms for a globally active membership-society and closer ties to people active in anthroposophic institutions, companies and organizations are the main objectives for the transformation of a society founded in 1923.

Members of the executive council are re-elected every seven years; the council and the leaders of the eleven special sections of the School of Spiritual Science have formed the Goetheanum leadership for several years. And the representatives of the Anthroposophical Societies in the respective countries are increasingly involved in the decision-making processes at the Goetheanum.

An internist from Berlin, Matthias Girke's has medical competence in internal medicine, diabetology, and palliative medicine. He is also a recognized public contributor concerning Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture. He was a co-founder and senior physician at the Havelhöhe Community Hospital in Berlin, and a long-term board member of the anthroposophic physicians and anthroposophic medicine organizations in Germany.  [From goetheanum.org]

Here and Now: Transforming Ourselves, Transforming Our World 2018 Fall Conference and AGM New Orleans, October 5-6-7 with Joan Sleigh & Orland Bishop

General Anthroposophical Society Annual Meeting

Thu, Mar 22 2018 to Sun, Mar 25 2018
Location: Dornach, SWITZERLAND

at the Goetheanum [more]

The Celestial Signature of the Spiritual New Year

Fri, Apr 06 2018 7:30 AM to Sat, Apr 07 2018 5:10 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

An Astrosophy Workshop for Easter 2018 with Mary Stewart Adams [more]

Transforming Trauma

Fri, Apr 06 2018 7:00 PM to Sun, Apr 08 2018 1:00 PM
Location: Chestnut Ridge, NY

A for those working in the helping professions with biographical counselor, Margli Matthews [more]

Exploring Body, Soul & Spirit, a Deeply Relational Journey of Self-Development

Wed, Apr 11 2018 2:30 PM to Sun, Apr 15 2018 1:00 PM
Location: Sauk Centre, MN

The new three-year certificate program in Anthroposophic Psychology begins with a seminar open to all [more]

Begin a Vegetable Garden

Sat, Apr 14 2018
Location: Chestnut Ridge, NY

With Mac Mead [more]

Is the Heart Moved by the Blood, Rather Than Vice Versa?

Walter Alexander has written a concise report for Pharmacy and Therapeutics Community Online on the work of Branko Furst, MD, in The Heart and Circulation: An Integrative Model (2014). It begins with what few lay people may know: that "Attempts to replace failing hearts permanently with fully mechanical ones, after years of experimental and clinical trials, have largely been abandoned because of high patient mortality..."

In the face of the entrenched paradigm that the heart pumps the blood through the body, Dr. Furst "marshals the evidence against the standard propulsion pump model and presents an alternative that may open new avenues for understanding circulation and, ultimately, pharmacotherapy."

The article is available online and an illustrated PDF is available to download. It is written for professionals but is well worth working through.

To challenge the prevailing paradigm in any field is difficult, and in the case of heart function, with its notoriously complex dynamics, myriad of interrelated influencing factors, and vast diagnostic and therapeutic implications, it is a prodigious undertaking. Dr. Furst has provided more than 800 supporting references in his book and the journal article. It is far beyond the scope of this article to fairly represent the range of this content. However, we will attempt to review the basic argument and rationale for such a challenge and give the reader a compass for delving more deeply into the underlying research.

[Update:] The publication in a peer-reviewed journal of this article opposing the “heart-as-pump” model and crediting Rudolf Steiner with its early mention represents a breakthrough to the conventional medical community.

The Guardian has a lengthy new article in its "sustainable business" section: "Biodynamic farming is on the rise – but how effective is this alternative agricultural practice?" It focuses on Apricot Lane Farms and opens,

When John Chester, a filmmaker from California, quit his job to become a farmer, he didn’t do it out of a desire to “feed the world”. Instead, he says: “I’m trying to feed my neighbors – and if everyone did that, we would be able to replicate this.”

The article includes extensive comments from Elizabeth Candelario, co-director of Demeter USA, the nonprofit certifier of biodynamic farms and consumer products.

Critics are heard whose point is that biodynamics was not developed using the "scientific method."

While the more spiritual and unconventional aspects of biodynamics don’t appeal to all farmers, for some, a personal connection to the land is crucial to their agricultural practice. “You may find some who practice biodynamic because it is a sound agronomic system that delivers real benefits to the farm like healthier soil, better crops, more vibrant ecology,” Candelario says. “You may also find some biodynamic farmers who would agree with all that plus they may describe their personal relationship with their farm that speaks to a deeper connection with the farm and its place in nature.”


Herbert Hagens has again kindly provided dates for following the 52 verses of Rudolf Steiner's Calendar of the Soul through the fifty weeks from Easter 2017 to Easter 2018. You can view and print out his suggestions from this PDF.

Steiner created the Calendar of the Soul in 1912, and you are also most welcome to read or reread here the special section of being human that greeted that centennial. Gertrude Reif Hughes explained:

“The course of the year has its own life,” said Rudolf Steiner in the 1918 preface to his Calendar of the Soul. As human beings we can “unfold a feeling-unison” with it. We can breathe out with the earth, from spring’s sprouting and blossoming to high summer; then we can follow the earth’s in-breathing as it moves through autumn to the depths of winter. The fifty-two verses of the Calendar, one for each week of the year, follow the year’s cycle, and allow us to perceive the changes around us in terms of our own inner activity. The verses alert the soul, says Steiner’s preface, to “the delicate yet vital threads ... between it and the world into which it has been born.” Coleridge called those threads “the one life within us and abroad.” Robert Frost wrote of inner and outer weather. The Calendar connects them at a deep level, an esoteric one.

You can view available editions and translations at SteinerBooks.

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