For nearly a century, the worldwide anthroposophical movement has been a catalyst for environmental activism, helping to bring to life many modern ecological practices such as organic farming, community-supported agriculture, and green banking. Yet the spiritual practice of anthroposophy remains unknown to most environmentalists. A historical and ethnographic study of the environmental movement, Eco-Alchemy uncovers for the first time the profound influences of anthroposophy and its founder, Rudolf Steiner, whose holistic worldview, rooted in esoteric spirituality, inspired the movement. Dan McKanan shows that environmentalism is itself a complex ecosystem and that it would not be as diverse or as transformative without the contributions of anthroposophy.
Introduction: The Ecology of Environmentalism
Rudolf Steiner’s Holistic Vision
Biodynamics and the Origins of Organic Agriculture
Anthroposophical Initiatives and the Growing Environmental Movement
New Economies for Environmentalism
The Broader Ecology of Camphill
The Boundaries of Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy’s Gifts to the Environmental Movement
Dan McKanan is the Emerson Senior Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School and the author of several books on religion and social transformation, among them Touching the World: Christian Communities Transforming Society and Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition.
“Throughout Eco-Alchemy, Dan McKanan’s sound judgment is evident. Without simplifying or exaggerating, but he gives space and respect to competing perspectives before offering a sensible middle position. All would be better if anthroposophists and ecologists would follow his wise opinions and recommendations.”—Robert McDermott, Professor of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, California Institute of Integral Studies
“Eco-Alchemy makes an important contribution to our understanding of the environmental movement and, more specifically, the role of agriculture within that movement. In this well-written and informative book, Dan McKanan demonstrates that Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy are critical to the evolution of contemporary environmentalism.”—Whitney Sanford, Professor of Religion, University of Florida