Near a low foothill
At Heaven’s doorsill,
Where the trail’s descending
To the plain and ending…
Thus begins one the most well-known Romanian folk ballads. It is a poem about a shepherd and one of the sheep in his flock, who tells him that his companions are planning to murder him. Nevertheless, the shepherd does not sorrow over this, but calmly accepts his destiny and teaches the sheep what he wishes for after death.
This ballad is considered very representative for the peaceful people of Romania, which is said never to have fought a war of attack. Also it alludes to the deep connection of the Romanian soul with the spirit of the Carpathians: …Were my guests; my priests / Were the mountains high; / Fiddlers, birds that fly, / All birds of the sky.
The country has a balanced natural environment, between the Carpathian mountainous regions, the hilly landscape (especially in Transylvania), as well as wide cultivated fields and the Black Sea region with the Danube Delta. The last virgin forrests of the European Union are to be found in Romania, and there are numerous regions throughout the land where time seems to be standing still.
Romania is the second largest agricultural country in the E.U. (after France). Traditionally, Romanians were very much connected to the land, raising sheep and practicing small-scale agriculture. This could be an excelent starting point for biodynamics, as the land is pretty cheap and the soil very fertile.
As one third of the country is represented by mountains, and many young people love the Carpathians, some of which are still wild and unexplored. Romania has the largest bear population in the E.U., and wolves, deers, chamois and wild boars are very common too.
Romanians care very much about their monasteries, and many of them lie in remote hard-to-access areas. There are many places in the Carpathian region where one can lose one’s trail, and find total isolation for a period of time.
The population characteristic varies greatly, from very blond types to dark tanned people. The Romanian language is Latin-based, with 20 to 30 percent Slavic words. There are also German (Saxon) influences to be found in Transylvania, as well as many ancient monuments of Greek and Roman origin in the Black Sea region known as Dobruja (in Romanian “Dobrogea”).
Romanians could very much benefit from the experience of anthroposophists from Central Europe, for which they become easily enthusiastic, but lack the experience necessary for long-term involvement. The Romanian people is especially opened toward spirituality, and almost anything coexists with the traditional Byzantine Orthodox church.
In this part of Europe, nature medicine is very wide-spread, and people quite often make use of herbs to treat infections and illnesses. A great part of the population still lives in villages and people are very open to visitors. The atmosphere around the mountains is harmonious, so one can have a very peaceful experience in this quite feminine land. If you love simplicity and doing things yourself, this is the place to be.
Anthroposophy in Romania
There is a certain story of an anthroposophist (Emil Petrescu) who studied in Berlin in the beginining of the 1920s. On 5 March 1922 it’s said that Rudolf Steiner held a conference in Berlin, and the allocated room was by mistake full of students. Steiner let the students remain, but under the condition not to laugh during the conference. In the middle of the conference began Emil Petrescu suddenly to laugh loudly to what Steiner was saying. Rudolf Steiner looked a few seconds to him and said: You shall indeed become my pupil; and then he continued the conference. And so it happened.
Thus in 1928 the first Romanian anthroposophists founded the Society in Romania. Anthroposophy was later banned during the 45 years of the communist regime, which was imposed on the people.
Since 1990, some anthroposophical initiatives have been introduced to Romania (most notably Waldorf schools, which function by state financing and supervision). More than 150 books by Steiner have so far been translated and published, and there is a growing number of anthroposophists, which includes a large number of young people (in contrast to the Anthroposophical Societies from Central Europe).
Romanians are very interested in meditation techniques, and some have taken their spiritual path very seriously. There is however a need for a “Western” more practical model of involvement in organization building, which can surpass the thick state bearocracy and the constant lack of financing. There is a strong need to bring the know-how of anthroposophical practical activities to Romania, as people are very willing to learn.