Anthroposophic medicine includes a range of interventions, both internal medications, external applications such as compresses, treatments such as massage and hydrotherapy, as well as more ‘social therapy’. Below are some descriptions of related therapies with some useful links for further information. See our Directory of Practitioners to locate practitioners in Australia, or go to our Training link to see what trainings are available in Australia or New Zealand. Some therapies are seen as directly developed by Rudolf Steiner and his colleagues, others are newer developments, or are recognisable mainstream therapies with an influence of anthroposophic understanding.
While we have in all the centuries of civilisation, been enamoured with the development of science and technology, and much invested in the developments that make ones work and living apparently easier and liveable. We have in the process been involved in the excesses of human endeavour that has come with a price.
If one were to look back in the last 5 decades, what is obvious is that, there is a growing disconnect with ones own relationships-be they professional or personal. The material development and wealth created has been at the cost of depleting warmth and kinship. In fact ones own disconnect with oneself has been the cause for a growing number of illnesses. While the illnesses have found favour with modern medical methods and treatment is available, the root of the problem does not get addressed well enough.
When understanding the illness is necessary, the understanding of the person with the illness is more important. The wisdom of the Human being is the bedrock on which rests the management and therapy of disease. Rudolf Steiner, ( 1861-1925) an Austrian spiritual scientist and Initiate, propounded the philosophy that today is called Anthroposophy. ( Anthropos- Human being, Sophia -Wisdom) The basis for all that is governing the planet earth, Man is at the epicentre of it. While we have been able to lord over the earth in our own way, we have to admit there are times when awe are challenged and completely non plussed by what we face.
Anthroposophy has its headquarters in the Goetheanum in Dornach Switzerland. This body governs the functioning of its different arms that encompasses General Anthroposophy, Anthroposophic Medicine, Eurythmy, Art Therapy, Biodynamic Farming, Economy, Architecture, Community, Pedagogy- Warldorf Schools, etc.
Lets look at what is the Human being
The Physical Body- it the “Annamaya kosha” as we refer to it in our country. This is something we share with all minerals and all objects the last broken down feature that is relatable to the earth. its condensed and hard and inanimate.
The other aspect of the human being is that which makes it live- a life force- we call it the Etheric or ether body- the “Pranamaya Kosha” . This is what we share with the plant word. a life force that keeps it alive and has the water as its element.
What gives movement and feelings is that which we share with the animal world- the “Monomaya Kosha” This gives movement and ability to feel and emote. This we refer to as the Astral body. this has air as its element as air is mobile.
The one feature that distinguishes man from all other objects and living things on the planet is the singular ability to think, choose, decide and judge. Surely man has come with a special ability to use intelligible speech. The ability to use all this is something that makes man a spiritual being on the planet, This is due to the Ego Body or the Ich – in German- Or the Vignanamaya Kosha. That which brings being into the Human being. This is related to the Warmth or Fire.
The presence of these four bodies or sheaths in harmony and working in balance provides for ease and health. The absence of balance between thee four will cause disease!
The presence of these four bodies or sheaths makes for a functioning human being.
Its now essential to understand the systems that are functional elements of the human being.
The three functional parts of the human being are:
Firstly, the Nerve sense system that streams from above down wards into all parts of the body thus governing the actions of the body of the human being. The thinking human is able to use this element to ensure that different part of the body are properly governed and moved to function.
Secondly, the human being is having the Rhythmic system that is in the middle comprising the heart and the lungs. These are the rhythmic organs that function incessantly in the body till death. the taking in of the air and purification of the blood with oxygenation is possible by the rhythmic activity of the middle system.
Lastly we have the metabolic movement or limb system. This in the lower aspect of the physical body also contributes to providing the necessary energy and fuel that is necessary for the functions .this is the part that actually makes what one consumes as food into something that is converted to something acceptable . a veritable “taking-ownership-of” situation in the body, that facilitates usage in different aspects of the body.
It is essential that the cold and clinical hardened part of the nerve sense system, the warming mobile Metabolic movement system are balanced well. This is a necessary prerequisite it ensure good health. Thus bringing about a balance in the functions of the three systems that ensures good health and the absence -needless to say-ill health.
The different arms of Anthroposophy encompass varied fields of human endeavour
- Anthroposophic medicine & Integrative therapies system
- Pedagogy- Waldorf Schools
- Agriculture- Biodynamic Farming
- Artistic therapy
- Curative education
- Camphill movement
- Community development
Dramatherapy is the intentional use of drama/theatre processes to express creativity, balance our soul life and to bring about psychological growth and change. By using our will in a much more energising way than the oppressive action-at-all-costs that is part of our lifestyle, and warming up our body for activity, we are ready to take on a role or to make a useful improvisation for self-awareness. Drama develops the self-reflecting and self-observing capacities of the individual. Because a participant is in a contained space, with a contract of safety, he is conscious that this is drama. At the same time a participant can be aware of any relevance the role or improvisation has in her life. The thinking powers are then engaged in reflection on the work achieved. The metaphorical work, sometimes using mask, puppetry and story, can give rise to the biographical understanding which in turn heals the soul. The catharsis experienced by Aristotle’s theatre-goers so long ago is available in a more conscious way in our time, individually or in group sessions.
Healing environments knowledge of the flow of energy in environments as well as in the human body enable the practitioner to create spaces that are non-toxic for the physical body, soothing and harmonious for the soul, inspiring and uplifting for the spirit. Education and assistance is given to create a healthy nurturing environment in the home and workplace.
Homeopathy and naturopathy
Natural Therapies are incorporated into Anthroposophic medicine and are achieving professional and public recognition. The disciplines of Phytotherapy, Homeopathy, and other natural therapies are enriched through the study of spiritual science to develop a refined perception in prescribing natural substances and other therapeutic options. A current prescribers training is being run by Irmhild Kleinhenz, see the training section. www.echamp.org
Massage Therapy both rhythmical and etheric massage use light rhythmical movements with a characteristic suction quality that gently and persuasively helps to re-establish a dynamic integration of the whole human being. Through essential elements of warmth and movement they stimulate the will to bring about healing. The Anthroposophic approach to massage was developed by Dr Ita Wegman and Rudolf Steiner in the 1920’s and joined later by Marguerite Hauschka. Etheric Massage has evolved out of this stream and was developed in Australia by Ulrike Faeste. Natural plant oils are used as a base with a wide range of herbal and metal substances.The massage includes forms for specific organs, such as the liver and kidneys which are deeply beneficial. See Directory of Practitioners for local contacts.
Medicine Medical knowledge and skilful diagnosis can be enriched through an understanding of the phenomena of illness and health. The goal is always to find the appropriate medical option that will integrate the patient’s personal needs in the context of their biography. All medical disciplines including surgery and dentistry are represented in Anthroposophic Medicine. The AAMA-hosted IPMT training is providing a programme for medical practitioners and allied health practitioners. www.ivaa.info
Nursing Throughout all phases of life, care is integral to healing. The anthroposophic nurse begins from the premise that the spirit is always health and that an illness is not accidental, but the chance to develop the patient’s biography further. Accompanying the patient during this phase with the right gestures of compassion, personal sacrifice and mediation the nurse can support the patient’s capacity to cope with discomfort and pain. By using traditional methods such as compresses, ointments and oils alongside medicinal substances the need for invasive intervention is often significantly reduced. Such nursing demands heightened perceptions and skills which are developed through the study and practice of Anthroposophy. Current PhD projects include a study of external ginger compresses. A group of Australian nurses are undertaking the current anthroposophic nurses training in New Zealand. www.anthroposophicnursing.org
Painting, Drawing and Sculpture Anthroposophic art therapy helps the patient to repair and reclaim lost balance and harmony. Beginning with the primeval element of creation, and using tools of colour, form and modelling with clay in a meditatively concentrated way, the patient can again unite all the parts, which have become disconnected. Through this, balance and wholeness can be regained. Australia has a number of art therapists, with two training schools. https://www.siennaacademy.com.au, www.webhealth.co.uk
Working pharmaceutically within Anthroposophy, we undertake the preparation and transformation of elements of the natural kingdoms through a variety of pharmaceutical processes and an attitude of soul, to bring forth preparations of therapeutic value. Australia is lucky to have an active anthroposophic pharmacist ,John Reed, at the Pennant Hills Pharmacy, Sydney.
Psychophonetics counselling and psychotherapy – extends conversational counselling to embrace direct experiences through body awareness, movement, visualization and sound work. The individual’s free will is engaged in the process of encouraging self-awareness, empowerment, healing and transformation.www.psychophonetics.com.au, www.anthroposophicpsychology.org
Speech therapy our humanity expresses itself through the gift of speech. Illness can render us speechless, or reduce our ability to express ourselves fully and thus weaken our experience of self in the world. Speech therapy uses sound, words, rhythm and gestures to strengthen the connection between body and soul and in so doing engages the will.
Therapeutic Eurythmy Through this innovative and highly developed movement therapy, specific exercises are prescribed and taught to stimulate the patient’s inner interest in a healthy awareness of movement. This is done through the use of particular elements of speech and music. The dynamics of healthy movement and stability of soul are awakened and consolidated in the patient. www.medsektion-goetheanum
An English-speaking course for Singing and Singing Therapy started in March 2018 at the “Kulturhof Sültemühle” and will now be continued at our new place in Nieperfitz. At the Raphael School for Singing and Singing Therapy, methods will be taught and abilities gained that will enable the student to learn how the singing voice can become a therapeutic tool and how singing can serve as an anthroposophic therapeutic modality, that addresses the development of all aspects of the human being as described by Rudolf Steiner.