The healing effects of Anthroposophy

The healing effects of Anthroposophy

26 March 2020 Matthias Girke 9528 views

The commemoration of the 95th Anniversary of Rudolf Steiner's death coincides with a special time: humanity is facing a pandemic threat with hitherto unknown effects on health, fundamental human rights, individual economic existence and the global economy.


Despite all the progress made in medicine, its powerlessness to meet this global challenge is also becoming apparent. The rapid spread of human disease is currently overshadowing concerns about the challenging climate crisis and the resulting disease of the earth, although the two are not independent of each other.

The beginning of spring will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of anthroposophical medicine. On 21 March 1920 Rudolf Steiner gave the first of twenty lectures in the medical course "Spiritual Science and Medicine", which founded the art of healing inspired by Anthroposophy. Thus, the healing effect of Anthroposophy developed as a path of knowledge "which would guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe". In contemporary medicine, we have remedies which, as "constructed" substances, have moved away from nature in order to influence and inhibit specific disease processes. In contrary to this, the development of anthroposophical medicines seeks the connection to nature and the cosmos in order to obtain its medicines pharmaceutically. The human being as a microcosm may experience the support of the healing powers through the macrocosm. In it lie the assistance which the sick person needs for his or her healing and which stimulate and promote self-regulation. Many medicines are derived from nature. We know effective remedies from the plant and animal world, the world of minerals and metals. As a result, not only a medical practice is developing which seeks the rational connection to nature and which in its healing turns to the forces of the macrocosm, but also an ecologically oriented pharmacy and art of healing. Finally, the problem of the pollution of nature and groundwater due to the increasing use of chemical medicines (cytostatics, hormone preparations, antibiotics, etc.) is becoming obvious. We also need an ecological reorientation in medicine, as we have long been calling for in other areas, such as agriculture, for example.

Insight and healing

The anthroposophical path of knowledge wants to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. But healing also connects man with the essence of the world, the macrocosm. This applies not only to medicines and external applications, but equally to eurythmy therapy and artistic therapies in which speech, music, colour and the material world take effect. In this way the relationship between insight and healing becomes clear: we have to distinguish between the conscious cognitive activity of the human being and the effectiveness of the healing processes taking place under the threshold of consciousness. Like day and night, these human activities face each other, especially since the healing processes take place particularly in sleep, in ancient mysteries in temple sleep.

Insight and healing now stand in an essential connection. Healing is an expression of the regenerative life forces of the human being. Hans Jonas has called it the "principle of life", the American neurologist Alan Shewmon speaks of the integrative unity of the organism, which regenerates and maintains it. These life forces experience a decisive transformation with the development of consciousness in the wakeful person. While life unfolds primarily in the metabolic limb system, the development of consciousness takes place on the basis of the nerve-sense system. Compared to the large metabolic organs, the nerve organisation does not have any obvious vitality, but on its foundation, consciousness develops. Life forces of our organization are metamorphosed into the forces of thinking. This decisive connection is becoming increasingly topical, for example, for child development: " school readiness” marks the threshold at which the child is capable through sufficient transformation of these forces to be able to summon up the appropriate attention and concentration. Now, for example, in the large study begun by Lewis Terman and carried out over several decades, and thus by several generations of researchers, a connection between the age of school enrolment and longevity has become apparent: too early enrolment in school and thus the development of intellectual awareness is accompanied by a shortening of longevity. The relationship of consciousness to the principle of life thus constitutes a current research task that is relevant to almost all fields of life in Anthroposophy.

With the awakening development of consciousness, we constantly deprive the organism of vital forces and therefore need regenerating sleep. The cause of illness therefore, lies in the capacities of the mind and soul. In the plant world these life forces have not awakened to consciousness. They can therefore become remedies for humankind. From this arises the therapeutic connection between the ill person and the healing powers of the natural kingdoms: What we, through our consciousness, withdraw from our organism as life forces and thus even lead it into illness, is balanced by the life forces that are effective in nature. The mystery of life forces, which sometimes appears as "soul life" and sometimes as organic life, embraces the healing connection between man and the kingdoms of nature.

Life and Light

The described transformation of life into the light forces of consciousness is described by Rudolf Steiner as the "etherisation of blood". While blood formation in the bone marrow has an enormous proliferative vitality (200-250 billion erythrocytes have to be produced every day), the mature red blood cells lose their cell nucleus, their ability to divide and thus visibly lose their life processes, only to die after an average of 120 days. Thus, a continuous sacrifice of life forces develops in the blood. In the area of the heart and its warmth, they transform into light forces, which can be experienced in the dreamlike consciousness of feeling and finally - on the basis of the nerve-sense system - in the awake, thought-clear light of consciousness. Rudolf Steiner has pointed out the relationship of this process to the mystery of resurrection. Through him man is connected with the mystery of Golgotha and can unite his ego with the world-ego. This development of consciousness characterizes the waking state of man; in sleep, in contrast, the higher members of the being illuminate the ethereal organization of man in a "sun-like" way and lead spiritual light into life.

Healing powers through Anthroposophy

The abstract, awake and information-hungry consciousness consumes life forces. Meditation is different, as it aims to lead from a life in thoughts to a life in spiritual beingness. This spiritual activity does not lead into the dying world of consciousness, but develops spiritual life forces that can have a healing effect on people. Already in the word "meditation" is hidden the other "mederi", i.e. "to heal", from which the name "medicine" is derived. In the awake world of consciousness, the spirit can consume life forces and thus lead to illness, but conversely, it can also heal through the living activity of meditation. The development of a not dead and abstract, but living light in cognition is connected with the effectiveness of Michael. It leads through the sensory phenomenon to the spiritual beingness. In contrast, the healing effectiveness of the spirit is related to the Raphaelic effecacy. Thus, the day spirit Michael and the quieter "night spirit" Raphael (his name is derived from the Hebrew rafa'-heal, 'el -God) accompany the metamorphosis of life and light.

Healing the levels of the being through Anthroposophy

Through insight, light develops in the everyday consciousness. If we have not yet understood or recognized something, we are in spiritual darkness. Doubt, sometimes helplessness and the search for meaning challenge us. With insight a new light develops, in that something "makes sense" and fills consciousness with new content. Through experiencing truth, security in the soul develops. On the other hand, insecurity and doubt lead to disease. The harmful effects of depression as night or darkness of the soul are well known by now. In search of the healing powers in the astral body, we find that they lie in the security, the search for meaning and orientation that arise with insight. In this respect, truth has a healing effect, while untruthfulness makes the soul weak and unwell. Devotional powers towards the truth, life convictions in which we can "believe", have a healing effect on the astral organisation.

Through insight not only a new light in consciousness is created, but also a connection to the world. It is not only an intellectual activity, but also builds bridges, connects and unites human beings with the world. In cognition we no longer distinguish between subject and object, both flow together. In this respect, the actual substance of insight is the love with which we connect ourselves to the insight gained. Under this aspect, love is the "substance" of cognition, which does not make us blind, but seeing, as Rudolf Steiner put it in the philosophy of freedom. Love impacts on the ethereal organization and the life forces of the human being. Many examples prove the healing effectiveness of human love. For example, social isolation is a risk factor for heart disease, unresolved conflicts can lead to cardiovascular events, and social relationships - in this case the popularity of children has an impact on their long-term risk of infection, thus conversely pointing to the importance of love as a healing force. Early childhood traumas are mitigated in their consequences by understanding, comfort and human warmth. Interest and a warm relationship with the patient are also of great therapeutic importance in palliative care.

After all, powers of courage and hope arise from insight: if we are "convinced" of something, if we understand the necessity of the situation and act out of this insight, courage and strength for action grow. "Becoming" lives in the activity of the human will, though incomplete, in the process of realization. In this respect, in deeds based on insight, forces of hope develop, as in the Foundation Stone Meditation, "that good may become, what from our heart we would found, what from our heads we direct, with purposeful action”. Hope has a healing effect on the physical body. Every healing needs hope. If the patient feels abandoned, his powers of healing dwindle along with his hope. The will to heal is filled with hope which supports the patient’s healing. From this Rudolf Steiner developed an essential connection which can be called the main law of the therapeutic relationship: "If through the individuality of the doctor the patient is simply brought to feel how the doctor is permeated by the impulse to heal, this gives the ill person a reflex which is then permeated by the will to recover. This will to heal and to get well plays an enormously important role in therapy, so that one can already say: there is already a reflection of the pedagogical, and in the pedagogical there is again a reflection of healing.”

Thus, on the one hand, Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge for the human being who wants to guide him to the spirituality of the universe, on the other hand, it has a healing effect on soul and body. In the year of the 100th anniversary of anthroposophical medicine, the healing effect of Anthroposophy is of particular importance. May it radiate into the next century of the healing arts, fructified by Anthroposophy.