Starting Point

The (imaginary) starting point

At some point in the past, say around 1900, all food in the UK was produced by natural methods. This was 'by default', because there were no other techniques available - it was what we would today call 'organic'. People had done their best, slowly breeding better types of plants and animals, working out how to improve the soil with manure, to improve yields and fertility. People's bodies had adapted to eat this local diet over thousands of years.

Three main points can be made about this:-

Big Historical Picture

The Original Questions.
I wondered how discourse might have begun, and I imagine that the earliest humans had three major questions in their lives:-

History of Food

The point of this brief history of food is only partly about what we eat – my MSc dissertation was about food policy, and to fully understand and comment on policy, you have to look at the context in which the policy is being made, so I developed a “Context Analysis”.

The role of Government is to control, administer and influence the realm with their policies. My purpose in carrying out the context analysis was to try and establish a fair picture of where we have come from, who is involved, and what are the cultural roles of food and farming. I also hope to generate some ideas of what is likely in the future from this.

This had two main parts,

Green Movement

The Green Movement, Transition, and Extinction Rebellion

The Green movement is continually ramping up – from small beginnings to facing and protesting the genuine threat of extinction – perhaps people will start to take more (enough) notice soon

It began to take off in 1972 with the Club of Rome Report “Limits to Growth” (1972), following on from Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring” (1962), which brought the first changes to practices in the use of agricultural chemicals

Short History of Findhorn

Many people date the start of the New Age from November 1962, when Peter and Eileen Caddy lost their job managing a hotel, and went to live on a residential caravan site while they waited to get another job, and this eventually developed into the Findhorn Community (it is near Findhorn village, on the coast near Forres, about 30 miles east of Inverness in NE Scotland)

They lived there in obscurity with their 4 children for a few years, joined by their friend Dorothy Maclean. To pass the time Peter decided to start gardening, and turned over the thin layer of grass on the sandy soil, and sowed seeds in the exposed roots. He started gathering organic material from wherever he could – seaweed on the beach, damaged straw from farmers, dashing into the road with his shovel if horses went past, and composting everything he could find to feed the family.

History of the New Age

We live in an era of very rapid technical change, but when and how does this become a New Age ?

My Grandfather was born in 1900, when there were steam trains and steam ships, but almost everything else was done by hand or using horses. There were coal fires, and gas lights. The food was all organic – the chemical processes to create fertilizers and pesticides on a large scale had not been developed. There were newspapers and the postman delivered letters twice a day, but there was no radio or TV. There were the the first horse-drawn trams, but no buses or cars.

He lived to see men landing on the moon, supersonic flight, and motorways. This is perhaps as big a change as anyone has ever seen in their lifetime.

Since 1900, there have been a range of huge changes

Theosophy Offshoots

The Theosophical Society and its offshoots – the Wider Theosophical Movement.

This is a survey of the organisations which are active in the UK, and which originate from the Theosophical Society. They are in date order of founding. Most information is drawn from Wikipedia.

The Theosophical Society (TS) was founded in New York City, USA, on 17th November, 1875 by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. In 1883, Olcott and Blavatsky moved to India and established the International Headquarters at Adyar, Madras (TS Adyar - international TS website ) – The London Lodge was founded in 1878, and this became the Theosophical Society in England (TS - UK website ). These are described in more detail later.

Spiritual ages

It’s hard to write a spiritual history of the world over the last 150 years in 5,000 words.

It’s a story that has had it’s up and downs – during the wars there seemed to be no future, but then something shifted, and 40 years ago everyone cheerfully sang about “the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. Now perhaps we are older and wiser - the Dawning has cast light into some dark places and shown some unexpected and interesting features, but prospects for the planet and survival look darker again.

Initially I’m going to give a timeline and a brief description of the 5 main movements,

Foucault and Sex

Foucault, Sex, Discourse    

I am interested in the perspectives of Foucault. In his trilogy “The History of Sexuality”, Penguin Books, London, 1979, Foucault describes several key epochs where culture has changed due to changes in sexuality, which have happened in fairly unusual ways. It is a form of forensic history.

To attempt to summarise about 800 pages in half a page:-

Tooth fossils

This is a surprising and unexpected study, showing that the most interesting results can arise from the unlikeliest areas. (New Scientist, 19th April 2014).

Not long ago, when archaeologist found an interesting skeleton, they would clean the plaque off the teeth to examine them properly, just like your dentist does, and like we ourselves try to do with toothpaste and floss.

image of teeth - may be fossils