Working of substances and their forces

From Anthroposophy

In the study of Man - the human being, the current worldview of (materialistic) mineral science and medicine focuses on the mineral element Earth. The human being and its physiology and functioning is regarded solely as a physical material or mineral functioning.

Spiritual science considers Man as made up of multiple bodily principles (along the different planes or worlds of consciousness) and three main subsystems, so as a threefold being. Considering four bodily principles (physical, etheric, astral bodies and the Human 'I') and three subsystems, Man is considered in a four by three dimensional framework - see Man: an integrated view. This includes supersensible or invisible astral and etheric influences (that are cosmologically related to the zodiac and planets) in layered effects working on the complex four by three structure.

This topic page approaches the above from the angle of substances as known in chemistry, but taking into account the Force substance representation. Physical substances are not just mineral but linked to spiritual influences and formative forces. This is also described with the image of the Golden Chain, or the image of the spiritual waves that chrystalizes or results in the physical (re The two etheric streams#1911-12-30-GA314)

Specifically, this page zooms into how oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon (chemical elements O, N, H, C) work in the human being, in their combination of the most important processes that are related to substances such as silica, calcium, sodium, calcium (chemical elements Si, Ca, Na, Ca).

This is closely related to ao human breathing and the intake of substances (eating and drinking) and the alchemy of the Earth:

  • 'coarse' human breathing brings in oxygen and nitrogen that combine with fluid carbon and give rise to processes generating carbonic acid and cyanic acid (and releasing carbonic acid gas). Following these two streams leads us to the human faculties of thinking and willing, to links with the moon and the sun.
    • following the carbonic acid (soda) stream: this 'flows up' to combine with sodium and iron to carbonic iron and links Man to the moon. This is why 'soda in the head-nerve' is linked to thinking.
    • following the cyanic acid stream: this 'flows down' to combine with calcium oxides (lime) to generate cyanide and links Man to the sun. The cyanide is connected to our bones and 'willing'
    • lateral link: air consists of nitrogen that is a result of the separation of the Sun (and hydrogen cyanide) and oxygen that is a result of the separation of the moon (carbonic acid)
  • with 'fine' human breathing is meant that Man does not just breathe air, but also breathes in etherically through the pores and the whole body, that way taking in influences from the Earth and the cosmos. These spiritual influences are invisible but can be related to the workings of chemical elements that appear in extremely high dilution (see potentization) all around us.
    • Two very important processes on Earth are related to silica (and quartz) and calcium oxides (lime), and these processes or influences play a major role in the subsystems of the human being (1920-03-29-GA312).
      • lateral link: in terms of physical substance, the current mineral Earth consists mainly of silica, feldspar and mica. Rocks as deposit of former plant life, limestone as deposit of former animal life - see Earth#substances.
  • the intake of substances in the metabolic subsystem makes for the generation of hydrochloric acid through the combination of chloride and hydrogen.


  • key relationships or dependencies used as shorthand. Note these are oversimplications and just to be used as pointer links.
    • [soda or sodium carbonate <-> thinking <-> head-nerve subsystem] <-> consciousness
    • [cyanide-forming force in Man <-> willing <-> metabolic limb subsystem] <-> freedom
  • importance is not appearance or location of a physical substance, but it's functioning and working effect
    • "the essential thing is not the actual presence, here or there, of a substance. The point of importance is what the substance is doing, what significance it has at some particular place in the organism" (1924-01-04-GA316, see Spiritual scientific physiology#1924-01-04-GA316, this is explained with CaCO3 in the long bones of the skeleton)
    • "the essential thing is not in the least that here or there this or that substance is found .. what is important is that it is there in order to be active from there" (1921-04-11-GA313, this is explained with silica being found in the human hair and urine, but for very different reasons and functions).

silica and lime

silica and lime - two currents of life (1924-06-07-GA327) - see oa Schema FMC00.423, FMC00.467 (and FMC00.542)

  • silica - silicon
    • silicious substances: ao combined with oxygen in quartz chrystals and mineral quartz constitutes 27-28% of our Earth's crust, also horsetail (equisetum) contains 90% of silica finely distributed ...also present in an extremely fine state of distribution in the atmosphere ... so: "half of what we meet on the Earth consists of silica, half of the Earth that is at our disposal is of silica."
    • with oxygen removed one has the chemical element silicon
    • silicious substances are an essential constituent of numerous medicaments, practically everything that shows itself in abnormal conditions of the senses is influenced in a peculiar way by silicon, that is: that which shows itself in the senses, including the inner senses as in calling forth pains in the organs of the body).
    • formative forces or planetary influences from Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (the distant planets beyond the Sun)
    • when plants become foodstuffs and serve as nourishment for the higher kingdoms to a large extent
  • sodium - limestone
    • chalk or limestone substances and all related limestone, potash, sodium substances.
    • formative forces or planetary influences from Moon, Mercury and Venus (the planets near the Earth)
    • influence plant and animal kingdom
    • renewal, everything connected with the inner force of reproduction and growth

Inspirational quotes


The way in which the modern chemist investigates substances will never lead to a knowledge of the cosmic tasks of these substances. And without knowledge of the cosmic tasks of substances it is quite impossible to know the tasks of substances that are introduced into the human being.

1924-07-21-GA319 (describes that a chemical mineral substance has to be related to the processes that take place in that substance)

Matter is something which is never at rest; it merely represents what is, actually, a ‘process.’ That which enters into the organism as external physical substance has to be taken up by it and overcome.


when we speak of silica we mean the arrested process ... silica and calcium are processes come to rest .. that plays a very significant part outside in the cosmos ... and the entire nature of our earth .. and work upon [the human being] the process of chalk-formation that has come to rest in limestone ... [editor: and the silica process has come to rest in quartz]

1905-09-29-GA093A quote on Twelve Conditions of Consciousness#1905-09-29-GA093A

.. we can ask why higher beings manifest themselves in an ant heap. But if formic acid had not been introduced, the whole Earth would have been different. The foreseeing wisdom of higher intelligences was aware of the moment when formic acid had to be brought into the Earth.


Schema FMC00.542 illustrates the process of breathing air and the two streams of oxygen and nitrogen combining with liquid carbon in the human body and giving rise to processes generating carbonic acid and cyanic acid. Click twice and open in new tab to enlarge.

  • from the intake of oxygen (remnant of the separation of the moon): the carbonic acid stream 'flows up' to combine with sodium and iron to carbonic iron (and links Man to the moon); this is why 'soda in the head-nerve subsystem' is linked to thinking.
  • from the intake of nitrogen (remnant of the separation of the Sun: the cyanic acid stream 'flows down' to combine with calcium oxides (lime) to generate cyanide (and links Man to the sun); this links to the limb system and willing.

Note this schema focuses on the stream of coarse breathing of air as part of the middle rhythmic subsystem of Man. The silica and calcium processes (see above head and below the figure) are polar opposites related more typically to the head-nerve and metabolic-limb systems, though these processes work in the whole human body and affect all three subsystems (see 1921-04-11-GA313 and 1920-03-29-GA312 and other schemas).


Schema FMC00.467 provides an overview table on the four main chemical elements oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen - and sulphur, their alchemical correspondences and inter-relations. Rudolf Steiner calls "carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and sulphur the four sister-substances in the economy of nature". Compare with Schema FMC00.163 on the Alchemy topic page.

Added also are silica (as in quartz) and calcium oxides (as in lime) - see also Schema FMC00.423 and variants


Schema FMC00.423 summarizes the polarity between silica/quartz and calcium oxides (or slate <-> lime) on Earth, they provide a sandwich substrate for the alchemy of the four elements that carry the spiritual influences.


Schema FMC00.589: shows an illustration of the formative forces in the human being.

On the left is shown how the stream of cosmic influences works from the I downwards and flows through the various bodily principles of the human structural make-up. If there are any unbalances causing illness, these can be compensated for through therapeutic substances from the plant or mineral kingdom that work on the etheric and mineral physical bodies, as represented by the small arrows. See more on healing with plants and healing with metals.

On the right is shown the working of oxalic acid that is transformed in the human body into formic acid. Both oxalic and formic acid are needed by the human etheric and astral bodies. They can be seen as representatives for the etheric and astral domains, and the plant and animal kingdom produce these substances by natural excretion. The light grey arrows show the process of the astral and etheric body transforming these organic living substances into lifeless mineral matter. What matters to the I-organization is the process of transition and the effect of the formative forces of these substances, not what they represent as mineral matter with the chemical formulas given.

shows an illustration of the formative forces in the human being. On the left is shown how the stream of cosmic influences works from the I downwards and flows through the various bodily principles of the human structural make-up. If there are any unbalances causing illness, these can be compensated for through therapeutic substances from the plant or mineral kingdom that work on the etheric and mineral physical bodies, as represented by the small arrows. See more on healing with plants and healing with metals. On the right is shown the working of oxalic acid that is transformed in the human body into formic acid. Both oxalic and formic acid are needed by the human etheric and astral bodies. They can be seen as representatives for the etheric and astral domains, and the plant and animal kingdom produce these substances by natural excretion. The light grey arrows show the process of the astral and etheric body transforming these organic living substances into lifeless mineral matter. What matters to the I-organization is the process of transition and the effect of the formative forces of these substances, not what they represent as mineral matter with the chemical formulas given.

Lecture coverage and references

Overview coverage

The subject matter covered on this topic page is of such 'broad generic' [*] importance that is it appears in Rudolf Steiner's lectures across the whole body of the GA, in lectures to doctors on medicine, in the agriculture course, in the lectures to workmen .. and hence the same 'pointers' are used everywhere, even in references to the bones of Christ-Jesus and the workings of the Christ Impulse in Man on Earth. The student of anthroposophy will surely have encountered many references to 'cyanide' or 'soda', to the forces of quartz (eg in honey, see Bees) and silica and limestone.

[*] - With 'broad generic' is meant that these are fundamental principles of the alchemy of nature as it also works in Man. The descriptions link to substances but also to the macrocosmos of moon, sun and planets as these are the related influences.

Because one always needs to start somewhere, this page proposes a limited set of the best key lectures as an entry door to the broad subject matter. These lectures provide a foundation to initialize one's understanding. This is than deepened by study of many complementary aspects from various lectures that 'fill in' and develop one's progressive insight.

Note the below is a proposal put forth, not intended with any authority as final or exhaustive, there may be other key lectures or approaches to optimize this (suggestions always welcome).

Set of key foundational lectures for study, to initialize one's foundation:

  • first set: 1923-10-GA351
    • 1923-10-27-GA351: the most important of the four
    • 1923-10-10-GA351: breathing air, cyanide, link sun and moon
    • as the two above provide such important sketch, then also study the intermediate
      • 1923-10-20-GA351: earth, lime and soda
      • 1923-10-24-GA351: thinking and willing, regular necessity and irregular freedom
  • second set
    • 1920-03-29-GA312: polarities - silicic acide and carbon dioxide process
    • 1921-04-11-GA313: basis for silicic acid process - polarities again - silica and calcium in head, chest, ..
    • 1924-07-21-GA319: silicic acide process in nerve-sense subsystem
  • thirdly:
    • GA027, Ch. 14 and Ch. 20

Reference extracts


First of all one must understand what these celestial bodies are and how this is connected with the Earth; and on the other hand one must understand that everywhere in these celestial bodies there is somethingspiritual. The size, position and so on, that doesn't make much difference. … We must be able to see first of all, from which components these heavenly bodies consist, what they actually are. We must ask ourselves, what one would find there, if one would drive up with an airship.

[Man breathing air – oxygen, and nitrogen with carbon]

With all this one must start now again from the human being. We have discussed again and again how Man is dependent on his whole environment: You breathe in the air, you breathe out the air again. When you breathe in the air, you get into your body what is outside in your environment. The air that is outside is oxygen and nitrogen. This is itself an air-like, a gas-like body. And this oxygen is absolutely necessary for our life: we need oxygen. And we need it in such a way that we breathe it in darkly at night and breathe it in during the day so that the sun's rays pass through.

We would not live if we did not have the oxygen of the air. But this oxygen of the air is mixed with another gas: with nitrogen.

Do we also need nitrogen?

This nitrogen [in the air] goes always [like] ‘in brotherhood’ together with the carbon. Carbon is in the coal, in the diamond, in the graphite .. but carbon is also in us. Only it is liquid in us, floating around.

So in there (see drawing) is the nitrogen, which I have drawn in red; now I want to draw in blue for the carbon. This is also everywhere inside, so that the red is everywhere together with the blue, the carbon. This is something very strange: You carry inside you, in your legs, your feet, your arms and hands, in your stomach, in your liver, in your kidneys, in your spleen, in your heart, carbon and nitrogen together - nitrogen, as it is in the air, and completely liquid carbon, as if you were to dissolve coal and this black would float in the water. That's what you have in you.

[danger that hydrocyanic acid (and hence cyanide) will form]

But that's actually a dangerous story. If somewhere carbon and nitrogen are next to each other, there is always the danger, if the right conditions are there, that they form (hydro)cyanic acid; because hydrocyanic acid consists of what I have drawn here red and blue in the diagram. So you walk around, and while you walk around, there is always the danger that hydrocyanic acid will form in you. So everywhere where I have drawn blue, there is always a danger that hydrocyanic acid will form throughout the whole person.

[cyanide-forming force in Man <-> Sun <-> metabolic limb subsystem <-> bones]

And because the bones have lime, the prussic acid can also bind with the lime; then a cyanide-calcium compound is formed, then cyanide is formed. You know that cyanide is the most technically perfect way to poison yourself. There is no better means than cyanide for this.

But there is always a danger in Man that he will form prussic acid and cyanide. This must be, for if you did not have this disposition in you to form cyanide, you would not be able to walk and move your arms. The power to move, to move your arms and legs, comes from the fact that you are constantly exposed to the danger of forming cyanide.

Now this cyanide wants to form in us continuously and we prevent it continuously! This is our life as a moving human being. Even the movement of blood depends on our preventing the formation of cyanide. Our movements come from this resistance to the formation of cyanide. And our will actually stems from the fact that it is constantly compelled to prevent the formation of cyanide and hydrogen cyanide in us.

Well, cyanide is not formed, because if it were formed, we would be poisoned. But at any moment we have within us the possibility of cyanide forming and we have to prevent it. Of course, there is not much cyanide that wants to form, but something would come together in life if it were to form. And this force that lives in the cyanide that wants to form, this force connects Man on Earth with the sun. So that continuously what lives in the cyanide flows up from Man into the sun. So you can say when you look up to the sun: I have a connection with the sun; and the force that lives in me for the reformation of the cyanide that wants to form continuously in my body, this force, it goes up from the earth to the sun.

If you have here the Earth and here the sun; then such cyanide currents go continuously from Man to the sun, and from the sun currents go back again. From Man to the sun flows this dissolved cyanide, and from the sun flows back again that which the sun makes from this dissolved cyanide.

And this distance is twenty million miles - one mile is counted as seven and a half kilometers. If now a light is lighted on the sun, we see it only, because the light needs so long to come here, very much later. So with a world body, which is so far away from us, we are in connection simply by the fact that we emit this force, which is constantly striving to form cyanide. Especially in our bones there is something like a cyanide source, like a source of cyanide.

If this were not the case, we would be very peculiar people on earth. If we did not have this connection with the sun, then we would also look up to the sun and would say: Yes, this is a world body that does not concern us at all. We would see that plants grow, but these plants could not grow if this cyanide did not go back and forth.

So we would look at the sun and we would not know what kind of relation it has to Man. This relation, which I have told you now, people today do not know either, of course, but they feel that they belong to the sun. And they feel it very strongly. For when the sun goes down - especially in the old times, when people lived more healthy, slept at night and watched during the day, it was still like that - then man feels that he does not absorb the sun so much. There the cyankali is only in him, but only in small quantities; then he falls asleep. It is indeed the sun that always wakes Man up and puts him to sleep. It is only because Man retains something that he can commit the mischief of continuing to create or not creating during the night, but continuing to enjoy himself. But also the forces we raise in the night come from the connection of these forces with the sun. And I would like to say: If on the earth itself somewhere prussic acid is formed - for example in certain plants prussic acid is formed -, if therefore on the earth itself prussic acid is formed, then this sun power gets the plant on it, so to speak, that it causes what actually wants to be caused in man all the time.

In order for it to form (and it must form, because prussic acid contains nitrogen), nitrogen is needed in the environment. And the sun needs nitrogen so that it can act on us in the right way. We could not stand on Earth as human beings if the sun did not have the nitrogen through which it can act on our limbs, on our digestive organs.

[head <-> carbonic acid + iron <-> Moon]

But with the head it is quite different, with the human head. In the lungs, nitrogen is useless; it must pass through the lungs. In the lungs only oxygen is of any use. And if the oxygen passes through the lungs, then the part that then goes to the head must not go so fraternally to the nitrogen. The oxygen that goes to the head must rather go to the carbon. And instead of hydrocyanic acid being formed towards the feet, carbonic acid is now continuously formed towards the head - I will make this purple in the drawing.


  • towards the feet man forms hydrocyanic acid [marked in red],
  • ·towards the head he forms carbonic acid [purple]. If we had to breathe in carbonic acid, we would have to suffocate; but we need it in our head. This is a very interesting thing: our head needs the carbonic acid.

Now you are all familiar with carbonic acid. You have certainly all had such a fizzy lemonade or such a water that mousses: there are the beads inside, these gas beads. That is often carbonic acid, because in carbonic acid waters, the carbonic acid is inside and rises in little beads. You could not think, gentlemen, that you would have no use for your head at all, if you did not have in your own body very small beads constantly rising through the blood.

Just as in the fizzy lemonade in the bottle the pearls shoot up, so tiny pearls are continuously going up in you towards your head. You could not use your head for anything if you were not such a bottle yourself, so to speak. One thirteenth to one fourteenth of the weight of your own body is taken up by the blood. So you can imagine: You are actually such a bottle, in which instead of the effervescent water blood is filled, and there float, striving upward, quite exactly as with the effervescent water, only much smaller, these pearls, as in the lemonade bottle. The head would not be able to think if these pearls were not continuously rising in you.

But now this carbonic acid must not be idle in your head. You can well imagine yourself to be such a bottle in relation to your blood, and there the pearls rose up to your head. Now you have the carbonic acid in your head, these bubbles, just like in the fizzy lemonade bottle. If you have too little in your head, you fall asleep; so you need it in your head.

But this carbonic acid, it comes into contact in your head - nowhere else -  but it comes into contact in your head, in connection with the iron in your blood. The iron is everywhere in the blood. But the iron that is in the blood in your hands cannot do anything with the carbonic acid; only in your head does the carbonic acid come together with the iron.

And I would like to say: they kiss in the head, become very intimate with each other, the iron and the carbonic acid; and from there the iron passes through the veins into the whole blood. The carbonic acid then carries the iron into the whole blood when it has come into contact with it in the head. Iron and carbonic acid can only have a rendezvous in the head; but afterwards, when they have had their rendezvous, they can walk around in the whole blood. Therefore, if a young girl becomes pale and has too little iron in her blood, it means that too few rendez-vous are taking place in her head, too little tryst between iron and carbonic acid. The girl does not have the strength to let enough iron and carbonic acid come together in her head.

Now you have probably heard of such carbonic acid waters and have drunk some yourself. Such carbonic-acidic waters - they are called iron-acidic waters - are particularly healthy. You see, where there are iron-acid bodies - there is a great deal of carbonic acid water in the earth - nature exercises this in the earth, so that what man forms in his head is continually formed in the earth. There are large ferruginous springs in the earth here and there. People are sent there when their own head has become too weak. For every human head is such a ferruginous spring, and even an iron sourling, carbonic acid iron, continues to form in there. As many you sit here, so many springs are you. Only when one lumbers quite heavily through the winter, then his head becomes weak, and then the carbonic acid iron content in his head becomes weak. He feels something like what many people feel then in the spring, he feels something like when his blood is no longer going properly - of course, when he has lumbed!-He feels weak in the head and must be sent to a carbonic-acid bath, so that he gets through the stomach and from there through the head what he should actually form himself through a more solid life. -The ferruginous springs are not so rare: there are so many, as humans are on the earth! So we have what we need in iron in our blood through this carbonic iron.

Now, however, we have to form it ourselves continuously in our head. But in the same way we have to prevent it at the moment when it wants to develop, just as we have to prevent prussic acid. It must only begin to form.

You know, today the chemists are just talking about it: Well, we can bring iron and carbon and oxygen together and get carbonic acid iron. That must be there then, this carbonic acid iron. But this is not how it happens in life! Just as there is a difference between a stone and a piece of your liver, just as there is a difference between what the chemist makes in the laboratory as carbonic acid iron and what exists in your head as iron, as carbonic acid iron. That lives! That is just the difference, that it lives.

And you see, from this carbonic iron, which is in your head, currents go continuously up to the moon. Just as the cyanide currents go to the sun, so these currents go up to the moon and back again, which Man develops by having the power in himself to control the carbonic iron.

Think that you can look up to the moon and say to yourself that the moon has a lot to do with your head.

And so it is also, if you come to any region - I want to say, for example, Sauerbrunn in Hungary or Götsch in Styria, Gießhübl and so on; in Switzerland, I think, there are also some - if you come there, it is a place where through the earth the moon can work best on the earth, because only there such waters arise. So that we see there how the earth and the man on earth are connected with the sun and the moon by coming to it: After the sun go the cyanide currents controlled by man, after the moon go the iron-carbonic acid currents controlled by man.

[plant growth and full moon <-> carbonic acid]

If one were reasonable, one would investigate all such things properly. This is not done today. You only have to consider that the plants on earth need carbonic acid all the time. Carbonic acid is there as we humans and the animals exhale carbonic acid. The plants, which are on the earth, do not breathe in oxygen, but carbonic acid. The oxygen they throw away, the carbon they keep in themselves. Therefore the plant is built on the carbonic acid. But this whole process develops best in the plant in such a way that the plant can develop out of the carbonic acid, because this is connected with the power of the moon when the moon is full. On the other hand, when there is a new moon, it develops less. And so it is always a basic condition for the plant that it is illuminated by the full moon. The growth sleeps at new moon and develops particularly strongly at full moon.

There you have also explained the influence of the moon in the "old superstition"! One has observed such things of course already in former times, when the people had still no science. Therefore you find of course everywhere in the old farmer rules hints on it, how important the full moon is for the plant growth.

And you see, one should not only talk about the relations of the individual celestial bodies among each other, but one should start from that, how this actually expresses itself on the earth among the people.

Man, as you have now seen, has extraordinarily much from the moon and from the sun. Man owes to the moon that he can use his head. To the sun man owes that he can use his heart and his legs and hands. Just as we must have the ground under our feet so that we can walk on it, so that we do not always fall down, we must have the sun and the moon, because to think we need the moon, to walk we need the sun, the power of the sun. When we walk in the night, we walk by the stored up sun power, which we have received during the day. We need these celestial bodies!

[Before separation of Earth from Sun and Moon]

Now, however, if you know so much, that is, you know what I have said now, then you will also be able to say to yourself: Yes, in former times, how was it then? - I have told you about the earlier times, there the sun and the moon and the earth were one single body; they have separated only in the course of the time. So today we have the sun, the earth, the moon, that is three bodies, distributed in the space of the world. In former times we had the sun, gigantic; inside it was the earth and inside the earth was the moon itself. They were stuck into each other (it is drawn).

So if we go back in the evolution, we come to a point where the thing was as if we were all very powerful and would now begin here in the assembly to pack up the whole earth, load it on a world carriage, drive quickly to the moon, put it into the earth, into the Pacific Ocean, and afterwards we drive with the earth and the moon, which we have packed up into the Pacific Ocean, quickly into the sun: then we would again have brought about the state which once was. Only all substances of the earth and all substances of the moon would immediately take another form than they have now. But that was once so! And when this was still so, there was not such an air as it is now, but there was prussic acid on the earth. There was hydrocyanic acid and carbonic acid everywhere in the sun.

You will say: But there was no real oxygen; man cannot live in hydrogen cyanide and carbonic acid! Yes, as Man is today, he could not live there either; but at that time Man had no physical body. There he lived as a soul in this structure, in this heavenly body, which was sun and earth and moon at the same time. And we simply come back, if we look at the matter correctly, to the fact that the whole world body composition was different at that time, that when we still lived in the sun, we naturally did not live on oxygen, but lived on hydrogen cyanide and carbonic acid. Hydrocyanic acid gave us the sun, in which we lived inside; carbonic acid gave us the moon, which was inside the earth.

Today, the only thing that remains of all this is the nitrogen in the air, which we can't live on either, and which is left over from the hydrogen cyanide. The huge prussic acid air of the sun has left us the nitrogen, as the sun and the earth have separated. So the nitrogen is left behind from the hydrocyanic acid. And the oxygen, it has remained behind from the carbonic acid, after the moon has come out. So that we can say: Our air, our ordinary air, which consists of nitrogen and oxygen, has not existed forever, it has only existed since the time when the sun separated from the earth. And since the moon has separated from the earth, the oxygen has come.

But now it goes on! I have told you, there is actually only a little oxygen in the air, 21 percent about, and quite a lot of nitrogen. Well, I also told you: The sun is big, the moon is small; the oxygen we got from the moon, therefore there is less of it in the air; the nitrogen we got from the sun, therefore there is a lot of it in the air, because the sun is much bigger than the moon. So you can see it, so to speak, in the air by its nitrogen that the sun is larger than the moon, because we have the nitrogen from the sun, the oxygen from the moon.

But I have told you further: The carbonic acid consists of carbon and oxygen. The carbon, which is in the black coal, is there; the oxygen is in the air. Now I have told you that when the moon left the earth, oxygen was created. But from the carbonic acid, the carbon material was formed, which remained in the earth; that is the hard coal in the earth. So you think, today we dig the hard coal out of the earth. What do we have to say to ourselves if we don't just drill in the earth like earthworms, but enlighten ourselves as to how this hard coal came into being?

Once the moon went out of the Earth, gave the oxygen to the air and the coal to the ground. We must really say: You, moon, you have given us abundantly, how you have left the earth; you have not only shirked, how you have left the earth; you have left us in the air the oxygen and in the earth the coal! - So the moon is actually a very fine fellow in the universe outside; because when it was still with us, it entertained our souls by always developing carbonic acid itself; it left that behind for us. And outside he left us the carbon and in the earth the hard coal. He did not shirk like a thief, leaving nothing behind or even taking it with him, but he made the physical man possible in the first place. Before there was no physical man, but only a spiritual man in the sun with moon and earth.

And even earlier the Earth and the sun have separated. The sun supplied the earth with prussic acid, actually with cyanide. This is what you need to live if you are spiritual, that is, if you do not have a physical body. One must have hydrocyanic acid in the environment, where one cannot use it, if one is to live as a physical human being. The prussic acid dissolves the physical man immediately. But the sun is also such a fine person: it has left us in the air the nitrogen, as it is gone then, separated; and in the earth it has left us the cyanide and other cyanide compounds. These consist of carbon, nitrogen and potassium - potassium is a substance that shines as finely as silver - or calcium. This sun, then, has left us nitrogen in the air, also some carbon, but this has not become hard coal, but lives in the plants, this carbon; but calcium it has separated and from it come the limestone mountains, the Jurassic and so on. The fact that we have a solid earth at all comes from the fact that the sun was once with us and went out into the space of the world and left us the lime. The moon has left us the stone coal, the sun has left us the lime in the earth. The moon left us the oxygen in the air, the sun left us the nitrogen in the air.

And so the earth is formed out of sun and moon. And after it is formed, we look up and see the sun and the moon. But when all this was still together, when sun, moon and earth were in each other, man could live only as a soul-spiritual being, could not live differently! At that time, yes, man was able to live nevertheless as a soul-spiritual being, in spite of the fact that he never got a physical body, because oxygen and nitrogen and all that was not there. But today, when we bring cyanide into ourselves, as we are on earth, it destroys all our movements and life forces in our body. And the bad thing is that there is always a danger when someone poisons himself with cyanide that it will take the soul with it and the person, instead of being able to live on in the soul, will be distributed in the whole world and especially in the sunlight.

If anthroposophical knowledge would spread, no man would poison himself with cyanide. It would not even occur to him! That poisoning with cyanide occurs is only the consequence of the materialistic world view, because people believe: dead is dead, no matter whether one suffers death through cyanide or through inner dissolution. But it is not indifferent! If one suffers death through inner dissolution, then soul and spirit have to go the usual way into the spiritual world; they just live on. But if you are poisoned by cyanide, then the soul has the intention to go along with every particle of the body and especially to spread out in the nitrogen and to dissolve in the universe. This is the real death of soul and spirit. If people would know that soul and spirit is the real human being, they would say: We cannot possibly cause this terrible explosion, which is then caused in a fine way in the whole universe, when a human being poisons himself with cyanide. - For every man who poisons himself with cyanide, he connects himself in an incorrect way with the current that goes from the earth to the sun. And if one had the right instruments, one would have to see a small explosion in the sun every time a man poisons himself with cyanide. And the sun becomes worse by it. Man corrupts the universe and also the power that flows from the sun to the earth when he poisons himself with cyanide. When man poisons himself with cyanide, it is so that he actually ruins the sun! And so it is with every cyanide poisoning.

And that is already something which creates a real - not such an artificially created - religious mood, but which creates the really religious mood that man knows: I belong to the universe, and what I do continuously creates influences in the universe. - It is just that this has been completely forgotten by people, that this is so and that people do not know at all: The nitrogen that is in my environment was created by the sun; the oxygen that is in my environment was created by the moon. - And therefore a real science is basically no longer there today. There is no real science any more! The real science takes the other world bodies to help. And so people look up at the stars through their telescopes, they only calculate, but they do not know that, for example, between every iron particle, of which millions swim around in our blood, between every iron particle in our blood and everything that happens in the moon, there is an intimate connection. And so it is that, for example, a pale-addicted young girl cannot develop a proper relationship to the moon and thus gets completely out of the world context. So that such a pale-addicted young girl, for example, loses her memory, everything that relates to the head, and that thereby that living relationship does not develop, everything that, as I have told you, should develop between iron and carbonic acid - all this is not present in the pale-addicted young girl: the head becomes empty of thoughts.

But again, if man is not able to fight properly what cyanide wants to develop in his body, then too much lime is deposited in the bones; the bones become brittle, and little by little even the lime pushes into the veins, into the blood veins: everything in man becomes brittle. Man can no longer develop the right relationship with the sun. But this must be. Man must develop his right relationship to the sun through that which lives in his movements, in which the bones have their important part. Yes, it is so, that if man thinks nothing, is too lazy to think, then the moon gradually does not care for man! Then man becomes dull, stupid. And if the man does not go at all, lies down in bed, then the sun does not care about the man. Then man becomes dull and dull and sluggish and sluggish with respect to his limbs. Whether one is quite lazy in movement or whether one is quite lazy in thought depends on his relationship with the sun and the moon. If one is good friends with the sun and the moon, then one likes to think and to walk around and to work. If one is bad to talk with sun and moon, then one stops thinking, and then one has also no joy in going around and in working. But man is already quite intimately connected with the sun and the moon. If you ask one or the other today about what he has learned from all that one can learn today - one tells you how to work with the microscope, the other tells you how to look at the sun and moon with the telescope, the telescope, how to calculate the angles, how many distances there are, that the sun has sunspots, that it has a corona around it, how the nebulae rise - he tells you all that.

If you ask me what the connection between the heavenly bodies is, then I can tell you the same, because I have also learned what the others have learned. But if a living science is to come out of it, then I must tell it to you in such a way that it finally comes down to the fact that the human walking and standing is connected with the sun; that is just living science and the other is dead science, living science and dead science! This living science and this dead science, that is just the difference between the Goetheanum and, let us say, a present-day university. If you come to a present-day university, they tell the young medical man, if any body combines with the oxygen, it burns. So you have a candle; there's all kinds of fuel, fats, there you have the flame and there these substances combine with the oxygen of the air. And that's combustion, combination of substances with the oxygen of the air, so combustion. And then the professor goes on to say: In man there is also combustion, because there is carbon in there, the oxygen is inhaled, combines with the carbon; in man there is also combustion. - And so the professor tells you about combustion in man. But this is just as much nonsense as when someone says: Your liver has gone terribly bad, I'll cut you one out of wood and put it in you. - Yes, that is a dead liver! But man needs a living liver. And when you light a candle, you have a dead combustion; but the combustion that is inside man is a living combustion! Just the same difference as between a candle and the living combustion in man, is also between a living liver and a liver of wood. So when the professor says that combustion takes place in man, he is not talking about the real man at all, but about one he has carved out of wood. That is all nonsense! The combustion itself is alive in man. And this is the great difference between the combustion that is outside, the dead combustion, and the living one that is inside the man. But they look at the combustion in the same way, they say: outside the fat, the tallow or something like that burns in the candle, and inside the carbon burns to carbonic acid - it is a complete nonsense! It is the same nonsense as saying that one could just as well make a liver out of wood or stone. That would be a dead liver! One cannot have such a combustion in the body as in a candle, but a living combustion is there in the human being and it differs from what is otherwise called combustion, just as the liver differs from a piece of wood. Therefore, I distinguish these expressions that ordinary natural science uses from combustion and so on; I say it only by explaining at the same time that this is a living combustion. Already in the word, when one says, in the body a combustion takes place, in the word lies a nonsense, because everybody thinks: The same as with the candle goes on in the human being. - Even when you say the words, you are talking nonsense.


What is the significance of comets with a big tail?

Dr. Steiner: Well, we must remember what I have just said recently. I want to repeat some of what we said a few hours ago, a few lectures ago, and remind ourselves of some things.

[Thinking and willing]

If we consider the human being, we must say that two things are necessary for his whole life, especially for his spiritual development.

  • First, that the carbonic acid goes up to the head. Man is constantly secreting carbon into himself. One can actually say that Man, in so far as he is a solid body, is built up of carbon. So Man is constantly excreting carbon from himself. Now, this carbon would eventually become such in us that we would all become black columns. We would become black columns if this carbon were preserved. We need it to live, but we must continually transform it again so that it becomes something else. This is done by the oxygen. Now, finally, we exhale the oxygen with the carbon as carbonic acid. There is carbonic acid in the air we exhale. But you need this carbonic acid. You also find it when you have seltzer water, for example, and inside the beads there is carbonic acid. This carbonic acid, which is not exhaled, constantly goes up to the human head, and we need it so that we are not stupid, so that we can think; otherwise swamp gas, which consists of carbon and hydrogen, would go up to the human head. So we need carbonic acid to think.
  • Now I have already indicated what we need for will, for willing. So let's start with walking, moving our hands, moving our arms - that's where this willing actually begins: we always have to form a compound of carbon and nitrogen and dissolve it again and again. But cyanogen, this cyanogen or cyanic acid, must constantly enter our limbs, so to speak. It then combines with potassium in the limbs. Cyanide is formed, but it is immediately dissolved again.

o  In order for us to be able to live at all, we have to be constantly poisoned and again detoxified and dissolved. That is the secret of human life: Carbonic acid on the one hand, cyanide, which is combined with potassium, on the other.

o   Every movement, with every finger, has the effect: some cyanic acid is formed, and the thing is then such that we dissolve the thing again immediately by moving our fingers. So that must also be there in the human being.


But everything that must be there in Man must also be there in the universe outside, must somehow be present in the universe outside. It is now the case that the comets have been investigated again and again. And it is precisely with the comets that a kind of, I would say, small history has taken place in the anthroposophical movement. I once gave lectures in Paris and said, purely from inner knowledge, that there must be some cyanic acid in the comets; that cyanic acid is present in the comets. Until then, scientists had not yet pointed out that cyanic acid was present in comets. But then a comet came shortly afterwards. It was the one you are talking about. And it was precisely on this comet that it was discovered, with the more sophisticated instruments that had not been available before, that there really is cyanic acid in the comet material! So that one can point to it when people always ask:

Has Anthroposophy predicted anything? Yes, this discovery of cyanogen in the comets, for example, was quite obviously predicted. It has happened in many other ways, but in the case of the comet it was quite obvious. Well, there is no doubt today, even among external scientists, that in the comet's atmosphere, in the comet's air - the comet is actually made of very fine material, it is actually only ether, only air - there is cyanic acid inside.

Yes, what does that mean? It means that the same thing that we have to form continually in our limbs is also inside the comet's atmosphere.

Now think how often I have said here that the egg is formed out of the whole universe - that is to say, human beings, animals and plants too: in being formed out of the egg, they are formed out of the whole universe. I would like to explain this to you by means of man himself, so that you may understand exactly what significance these comets actually have in the whole universe.

[Greeks – Sparta and Athena]

Let us start from something historical - it may seem strange to some, but you will see that what you want is best explained by this.

Centuries before Christianity was founded, there was an ancient people in what is now Greece, the Greeks. The ancient Greeks did so much for intellectual life that even today our grammar school pupils have to learn Greek, because it is believed that if you learn Greek today you will become a particularly clever person. Well, the Greeks have really achieved a great deal, but they didn't learn Indian or Agyptian, they learned Greek. People want to express in this way that the Greeks have done a great deal for intellectual life - we have already spoken about this - and this is shown in the simple fact that we cultivate Greek with our grammar school pupils. The Greeks themselves only taught their children Greek, even though they did so much for intellectual life.

Now there were mainly two tribes in Greece which were of special importance, but which were very different from each other;

  • one were the inhabitants of Sparta,
  • the other those of Athens.

Sparta and Athens were the two most important cities in Greece. In addition, there were a few others that were also important, but not as important as Sparta and Athens. So the inhabitants of these two cities were very different from each other. I will leave aside the other differences today, but they were already different in that they behaved quite differently in speech.

  • The Spartans always sat quietly together and talked little. They did not love talking. But when they did talk, they wanted what they said to have a certain meaning. Because, after all, a person cannot always say something meaningful when he is babbling, they kept silent when they had nothing important to say, and always spoke in short sentences. These short sentences were famous throughout antiquity. People talked about the short sentences of the Spartan people, and the ones that became famous were often tremendous sayings of wisdom.
  • It was already not so with the Athenians. The Athenians loved a beautiful speech; they loved it when one spoke beautifully


  • The Spartans: Short, measured, calm in their speeches
  • The Athenians, they wanted to speak beautifully. They learned the art of oratory; by speaking beautifully, they already babbled more; not as much as we do today, but they still babbled more than the Spartans.

What was the difference between the much-talking Athenian and the less important and powerful Spartan?

It was based on education. The art of education is studied very little today. But what I am saying was based on education.

The Spartan boys in particular were educated quite differently from the Athenian boys. The Spartan boys had to do much more gymnastics: Dancing, wrestling, all kinds of gymnastic arts. And the art of oratory, the actual gymnastics of the tongue, was not practised at all by the Spartans. They let the speaking come all by itself.

And everything that lies in speech is formed through the other movements of the human body. You can observe it correctly: If a man moves slowly, measuredly, in a properly gymnastic manner, he also speaks properly. Especially when a person walks with steps that are orderly, then he also talks orderly. Of course, it depends on the child's age. When a person gets podagra in old age, it doesn't matter any more; he has already learned to talk. It depends on the time when one learns to talk. But the Spartans attached great importance to the practice of gymnastics, and they supported this gymnastics by rubbing oil into the bodies of the children and coating them with sand; then they made them do gymnastics. The Athenians also did gymnastics - gymnastics was done all over Greece, but much less - and they made the older boys do tongue gymnastics, oratory. The Spartans didn't do that.

Well, that has a very specific consequence. You know, when these little Spartan boys did their gymnastics with their bodies oiled and rubbed with sand, they had to develop a lot of inner warmth - a lot, a lot of inner warmth. And when the Athenians did their gymnastics, it was something very special among the Athenians. If it had been a day like today and the boys hadn't wanted to do their gymnastics outdoors with the Spartans, well, that would have happened! The gymnasts, the teachers, would have treated these boys properly! When the Athenians had a day like today, so stormy, they gathered their boys more inside the rooms and let them do their oratory. But they called them out when the sun was shining wonderfully, when everything was sparkling. Then the Athenian boys had to do their gymnastic exercises outside. For the Athenians thought a little differently than the Spartans. The Spartans thought differently: Everything that the boys did in terms of movement had to be done from the inside of the body; it didn't matter if it stormed and hailstormed and rained and blew outside. One said to oneself: this must come from the human being himself.

The Athenian said differently. He said: We live from the sun, and when the sun wakes us up to revive us, then we want to move; when the sun is not there, we do not want to move. -Thus said the Athenian; therefore the Athenians looked to the external heat of the sun. The Spartans looked at the inner heat of the sun, which man himself had processed, and the Athenians looked at the outer sun, which shines beautifully on the skin - the skin was not rubbed with sand, at least not as much as with the Spartans, but there the sun should work the skin. That was the difference. And when today's schoolbooks talk about the difference between the Athenians and the Spartans, all you really get is the idea that something wonderful must have happened, why the Spartans were quiet and measured people who were also very hardened, and why the Athenians practised the art of oratory, which was then further developed by the Romans. People today cannot do history and natural science at the same time. History speaks for itself, and natural science speaks for itself. But if I tell you

The Spartans rubbed their boys with oil and sand and then let them do their Spartan arts in all weathers, and the Athenians, they did not rub their boys so much with sand and oil and otherwise did their oratory in the interior of the Palestine - then you know how this difference between the Spartans and Athenians, who were neighbours, was actually brought about by natural facts.

So we say, if we have the earth there (there is a drawing) and the sun here: if we look at the sun as it shines, and there is the Athenian, then the Athenian comes into being; and if we do not look so much at the sun, but at what the sun has already done in man, and look at the more inner warmth, then the Spartan comes into being. You see, history and natural history are combined. That is how it is.

So now we can say: if man looks to develop warmth within himself, then his language becomes short and measured. - Why? Because he turns with his whole mind more to the universe. But when man lets himself be illuminated by the sun, as the Athenian does, then he turns less to the universe with his intellect; then he turns more inward with his intellect, and outward with his warmth; the Spartan:

with the warmth inwards, with the intellect outwards. And from the intellect the Spartan has learned the language of the universe; it is wise, it has been formed in him. The Athenian did not learn the language of the universe, but only the movement of the universe, because he abandoned himself to gymnastics in the warmth of the sun.

When we look today at what remains of the Spartans, we say to ourselves: Oh, these Spartans reproduced the wisdom of the world in their short sentences. - The Athenians began to express more of the inner understanding of man in their beautiful phrases. That which the Spartans had in their language has to a great extent been lost to humanity; it has disappeared in Greece with the Spartans. Today man can no longer live with the language of the universe. But what the Athenians began to do: beautifully winding sentences - it grew up, especially in Rome, with fine talk. And the Romans at least still talked beautifully. In the Middle Ages, too, people learned to talk beautifully. Today, however, people talk terrible sentences. You only have to look at the details - well, you could take any other city, but in Vienna, for example, the elections have been going on for weeks: Yes, they don't talk nicely, but terribly, a whole deluge of speeches, but not nicely! And that is what has gradually become of what was still cultivated, albeit beautifully, by the Athenians. Nothing comes out of man. The universe, truly, does not make electoral speeches - but man makes them! The Spartans did not make electoral speeches; the Spartans expressed in their short sentences how the universe speaks. They looked up at the stars and thought: Man is running around in the world like this and is a "speedster". The star moves slowly, so that it does not move slowly or quickly, but always evenly. Then the proverb came into being that has remained for all time: Haste makes haste - and so on. The star does reach its destination! And so the Spartans learned a great deal from what is out there in the universe.

And now we can move on to something that I have already noticed here with you, we can move on from warmth to light. I would like to say the following about warmth. Consider that if a person has to develop a great deal of warmth, then he must become a strong person. And if a man has the opportunity to be in the sun a good deal, he should become a man who talks a good deal. Now you only need to look at geography a little: Go to Italy, where people are more exposed to the sun, and you will see what a talkative people they are! And go to the north, where people are more exposed to the cold: Yes, there you can sometimes get into despair - people don't talk, because if you always have to develop inner warmth, that drives away the inner impulse to talk. For example, here with us it sometimes seems almost funny when a person comes from the north; he stands up to talk - yes, then he stands, but he doesn't talk yet. Isn't it true that when an Italian agitator steps onto the platform, he already talks before he is on it and he still talks when he is already down there, it goes on and on, it just bubbles up! When a Nordic man, who has to develop a lot of warmth because there is no external warmth, is supposed to speak: such a Nordic man, he stands there - one comes to despair, because he doesn't begin at all; he wants to say something, but he doesn't begin at all. That's the way it is: Inner warmth drives away the desire to speak, outer warmth stimulates the desire to speak. Of course, all this can be transformed through art. The Spar¬tans did not do this through the outside, but through their own racial character. They developed this racial calm - even though they were neighbours with the Athenians - because they mixed a lot with people coming from the north. Among the Athenians, for example, there were very many who had mixed with the Athenians from hot regions in a racial way; this is how they developed the flow of speech. So there we see how even the oratorical man is connected with the sun and with warmth. Now we go to the light.

[Example animals]

Here we need only remember something I have already told you. Think of a mammal. A mammal internally develops the germ into a new mammal. The germ is carried inwardly by the mother animal; everything happens inwardly. Let us take the butterfly. I have told you: the butterfly lays the egg, the caterpillar crawls out of the egg, the caterpillar pupates, the cocoon is formed, and from the cocoon the sunlight expels the butterfly, which is multicoloured. On the other hand, look at the mammal (it is drawn), this mammal develops the new animal quite hidden in its uterus. There again we have two opposites, wonderful opposites. Look at yourself: The egg is uncovered. When the caterpillar crawls out, the light is already coming. The caterpillar, I told you, goes to the light, spins its cocoon, the shell, so that it becomes a pupa, according to the light, and the light in turn calls forth the butterfly. And the light does not rest and does not rest, gives the butterfly its colours. The colours are caused by the light; the light treats the butterfly.

On the other hand, take the cow, the dog. Yes, the little boy inside the mother's uterus, in the womb, cannot have the outer light, is completely enclosed in darkness from the outside. So it has to develop inside, in the darkness.

But nothing that lives can develop in darkness. That is simply nonsense if you believe that something can develop in darkness.

But how is it actually here with history?

Let me give you a comparison. One can hope that when the earth becomes very poor in coal, it will be possible to use direct solar heat for heating through some kind of conversion; but today it is not yet possible to use solar heat directly for heating. Perhaps it will not be long before we shall find out how to do it; but to-day we use coal, for instance. Yes, coal is nothing other than solar heat, only solar heat that flowed to earth many, many thousands of years ago, got caught in wood and was stored as coal. When we heat, we bring out of the coal the solar heat that has accumulated in the earth thousands and thousands of years ago.

Yes, don't think that only coal behaves towards the sun in the way I have just described! Other beings behave towards the sun in the same way as I have just described, namely all living beings. If you now look at a mammal, you must say: The mammals, every small young animal has a mother animal, this again a mother animal and so on. They have always absorbed the heat of the sun; it is still inside the animal itself, it is inherited. And just as we bring the heat of the sun out of the coal, so the little child in the mother's womb now takes the sunlight, which is stored up there, from within. - Now you have the difference between what comes into being in the dog or the cow and what comes into being in the butterfly. The butterfly goes straight away with its egg into the outer sunlight, lets it be worked entirely by the outer sunlight until it becomes the colourful butterfly. The dog or the cow are just as colourful inside, but you can't see it. Just as one does not yet perceive the heat of the sun in the coal - it must first be coaxed out - so one must first coax out of the dog and the cow, with the higher view, what is inside in the way of stored-up light. There is stored-up light inside! The butterfly is colourful from the outside; the sunlight has worked on it from the outside. Yes, in the dog or the cow there is, I would say, invisible light everywhere inside.

What I have described to you could be easily ascertained by men today with our perfect apparatus, could be proved in their laboratories, if they wanted to. Men should only make a laboratory once, completely dark, totally dark, and then they should compare in this laboratory a newly laid egg and a cow's or dog's germ in its early state, then one would see that through the glare which can arise in the dark room, this difference which I describe, definitely shows itself. And if one were to photograph what one does not see with the eyes - the eyes are not sensitive to this - one would be able to prove that the butterfly egg has the yellow spectrum and the dog's and cow's egg the yellow spectrum in photography. These things which one can see spiritually - one does not need the exterior if one can see them spiritually - will be proved with perfect instruments.

Now we can say: The butterfly is formed in the outer sunlight, the cow or the dog is formed in the sunlight which is stored up inwardly in the being.

Thus we have learned the difference between

  • the warmth which works externally, which makes man talkative, the light which works externally, which produces the many colors in the butterfly, and
  • the warmth within, which makes man dumb, measured, - the light within in a being which gives birth to living young, which must receive the light internally.

And now we can pass from there to what is the subject of our question.

[End parenthesis Greeks]

Now there are also things which Man needs in his inner being, but which he must not develop in excess in his inner being, because otherwise he would die over it. And cyanic acid is one of them.

If Man were to produce the little cyanide that is there all the time, if he were to produce cyanide all day long - well, that would not work, it would be too much. Man does form a little cyanide within himself, but very little.

But he also needs something from outside; he absorbs it with what he breathes in. It is not much, but Man does not need more.

Well, this cyanide is not present in the ordinary air. If comets did not appear from time to time, there would be no cyanide in the air. Comets and then these meteors, shooting stars, which, as you know, whiz through the air so numerously in midsummer, bring this cyanide. And Man actually takes his strength from it.

[people who have become weak in their muscles]

Therefore, people who have become weak in their muscles must be sent into air which has not only become fresh from the Earth, but has become fresh from the whole universe, which has experienced meteoric influences. And this is so that, for example, people who suffer from what used to be called emaciation, people who have become weak in their muscles and in whom this weakness occurs especially toward spring, are sent in autumn into this air which has become fresh from the universe. In spring nothing can be done; therefore such people die most easily in spring. One must take precautions for such people, because one can actually do something for them only in autumn.

When in summer the meteoric forces with the small amounts of cyanide, which come in from the universe, deposit their cyanide, then, when August ends and autumn comes, one can see to it that these very people with their weak limbs now come to those areas where most of the cyanide has been deposited. Then the limbs become strong again. So, in the case of people in whom one notices that the next year will be something very bad for them, because they will become weak, one should actually take precautions, because one cannot do much with the external things in the spring.

One should say to oneself: When spring comes, I give such people, depending on how weak they have become, the juice of certain plants, for example the juice of blackthorn. If you keep this - you know the tart, sour plant - and bring this juice into such a person, who becomes weak in the spring, through the mouth, by ingesting it, then you can keep him through the spring and summer.

Yes, why? You see, when the sap of blackthorn is given to a person internally or when he ingests it, this sap of blackthorn forms all kinds of salts. They go to the head and take the carbonic acid with them. Then we make the head inclined to bring this person through spring and summer. And in the fall we have to bring him to a place where he is able to take the other things that have to go to the limbs. Carbonic acid goes to the head; you can teach him that through blackthorn. If we are lucky enough to have brought such a person through the summer, we can take him to a suitable region in the autumn - not for a particularly long time, but for two or three weeks he should stay in such air, which is known to have received meteoric influences - then it is so that the person there, having been strengthened during the spring and summer, really gets the strength of his limbs again.

There you have the two effects directly next to each other. There you have

  • the Earth effect, which is actually a moon effect, the Earth effect in the blackthorn juice,
  • and there you have the world effect in what the comets, and if there is no comet, the shooting stars have left behind - with them it is the same, only small; but there are just many - what works in from the universe.

As you have

  • in the dog germ the stored sun warmth,
  • in the human germ the stored sun warmth,
  • in the butterfly with its relation light from the universe,
  • as you have in the protected eggs warmth from the universe, from the sun,

so you have also in yourself inwardly human warmth, which you must develop inwardly in your substance and which stimulates just the opposite than the outer warmth.

[Regular (<-> necessity) and irregular (<-> freedom) influences]

Thus we can see everywhere how in Man there is an alternation, but how also in the whole universe there is an alternation: sometimes the things outside must come from the universe, sometimes from the inside of the Earth or of Man.

Now you will say: Yes, certain things are regular; but they alone cannot effect that which they are supposed to effect. Day and night change regularly; they bring about the one thing that goes out from the Earth. –

Well, the comets appear more or less irregularly; the shooting stars also. With the shooting stars such a regularity is also not present as with the rest. If an astronomer wants to observe a solar eclipse, then he can find exactly the time, when it begins - this can be calculated -; it belongs to the regular, but does not work from the sun. So he can go to a starting point first, and he still manages with a solar eclipse. If he wants to observe the meteoritic swarming of the shooting stars at a time, he must fit the whole night, wait, otherwise he cannot find them. That is just the difference from what comes irregularly from the universe to the Earth.

Now you can raise an interesting question. You can say: The comets, which are connected with the cyan - what is connected with our will in our human being, these comets, they appear irregularly; soon one comes, then it is not there for a long time.

It always gives rise to superstition in people; it is precisely that which does not always appear that makes them superstitious when it does come. In the sunrise and sunset only the formerly believing human minds have seen the divine; later, superstitious minds have dreamt all kinds of things about the comets.

Now you can raise the question: Why is it not also so with the comets that, as at certain hours in the morning in the year the sun appears, also a comet appears?

Well, if that were the case, if just as regularly as sunrise and moonrise and moonset the comet could always come and disappear regularly with its tail, then we human beings would have no freedom; then everything else in us would be as regular as sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset. And what is connected in us with this regularity in the universe, that is also natural necessity in us. We must eat and drink also with regularity, one must sleep with a certain regularity. If the comets rose and set as regularly as the sun and the moon, then we could not begin to move arbitrarily, but we would have to wait: we would be in rigidity; the comet would appear - then we could go! If it disappeared again, we would come again into a rigidity spasm. We would have no freedom. These so-called astray stars are what give freedom to people from the universe.


And so we can say:

  • That which is necessary in man, hunger, thirst in their course, sleep, waking and so on, that comes from the regular phenomena;
  • that which is arbitrary in man, which is freedom, that comes from the comet-like phenomena and that gives man the strength for the force that works in his muscles.

In more recent times, people have completely forgotten to look at what freedom is in man. People no longer have any sense of freedom. That is why people in modern times have become completely obsessed with that which is only necessity. Now people express in their festivals how they are minded.

They have, for example,

  • the festivals for necessity: Christmas, Easter; but they have dropped
  • the autumn festival, the Michael festival, because these are connected with freedom, with the inner strength of man.

And so people actually study at the comets at most the material. The other, they say: Yes, one can know nothing about it.

And on the one hand you see today that people shun freedom; on the other hand you see that they have no right mind, no reason for studying the irregularities in the universe. If they were not there, there would be no freedom.

So that we can say: The Athenians, they understood what was inside the human being. This made them talkative.

On the one hand, materialism has become terribly talkative. But this also makes it insensitive, dull for all that where one can become strong for the meteoric influences. Therefore, the feast of St. Michael is at most a peasant holiday, and the other feasts are something that is connected with the necessities, although they are no longer observed as they were in the old times, because one has generally forgotten the connection with the spiritual world. In this way, everything becomes transparent. When people will again understand how beneficial the comet influence is, they will probably remember that they like to celebrate some festivity in autumn in order to have a kind of freedom festival. This belongs to the autumn: a kind of Michael's festival, a kind of freedom festival. People today let this pass because they have no understanding for it at all; they have no understanding for freedom in nature outside, therefore also not for freedom in Man. You see, the honorable lady moon and the majestic lord sun, sitting on their thrones, they want to have everything measured, because they have no right sense for freedom in the universe, in the universe. It must be of course also. But the comets, they are the heroes of freedom in the universe; therefore, they also have in themselves that substance which in man is also connected with activity, with free activity, with arbitrariness, with activity of will. And so we can say: If we look up to the sun, then we have in it that which is always rhythmically playing within us, the heart and the respiration. If we look to a comet, then we should actually make a freedom poem every time a comet appears, because this is connected with our freedom! - We can say: The human being is free, because in the universe for these gushers in the universe, the comets, there is also freedom. - And as the sun owes its nature mainly to the acid character, so the comet owes its nature to the cyan character.

You see, there one comes to the nature of the comets, and this is an extraordinarily significant connection, as one sees that suddenly in the whole universe there is also something which lives, but which lives so similarly as we humans. So one can also say: With the Spar¬tans, with them there was more sense for the withdrawal from the sun, and therefore they have also appreciated everything that - this has not originated from external arbitrariness - what was connected with the universe. And Lykurgos, the legislator of Sparta, let make eiser¬nes money. In the textbooks you find: Lykurgos had iron money made, so that the Spartans should remain Spartan. - This is nonsense. In truth, Lykurgos was instructed by those who still knew these things in Sparta. It is told that the comets contain cyanogen bound to iron, and therefore he had iron minted in Sparta as the symbol for the comets to money. This was something that came out of wisdom; while the other peoples went over to the gold coinage, which expresses that which is more in the sun, the image of the solar life in us. Thus it is that one sees that in the customs of the ancient peoples there is still something more of what one knew of the universe.


title: Effects of Substances in the Cosmos and in the Human Body

I will just try to connect my remarks with what I said last time and then build further on it. I will go over it again very briefly. We heard that everything which takes place with regularity in the universe, for instance, day and night, the course of the sun or the sequence of the seasons, is all connected with what is necessary in human life. The regular intake of food is necessary within the rhythm of sleeping and waking; the regular rhythm of breathing, circulation of the blood, and so on, is necessary.

When we consider all this, we see that it is connected with what can be calculated through Astronomy.

On the other hand, all that which happens less regularly — which certainly can be calculated but still happens less regularly, for example, comets and meteors — all these phenomena are connected with what is free will in Man, with what gives rise to free will in Man.

[iron <-> free will]

First and foremost we must turn our attention to a substance which is particularly important, which is abundant on the earth and indeed in the universe, and is present in the meteors which fall on the earth. This substance is iron. Iron exists in such abundance on the Earth that the whole of our modern culture and civilisation may be said to be based on it. Just think of all the purposes for which iron is used! It is only quite recently that people have begun to manufacture all sorts of things from substances other than iron. During the last two centuries all the great advances, as well as our social conditions, have been due to iron. We must assume that iron is everywhere present in the universe because when anything falls to the earth from the heavens, it is found to be of iron.

Now let us consider the iron in our own bodies. It is very remarkable that at the beginning of his earthly life the human being drinks a substance which contains practically no iron — namely, milk. The mother's milk contains hardly any iron. So we can say: it is only in the course of his life that man begins to take in iron with his food. What does this mean? Think of a baby: it kicks a lot and certainly dreams; but it has neither independent thought nor any free will in the real sense. In the measure that it attains freedom of will, its instincts call for iron.

Iron is really necessary for free will. And if you come across a Man who is hoarse or has a very weak voice and you want to know what is really the cause of it, you must above all find out if he is getting enough iron, for a Man who gets too little iron shows this in the lack of will as expressed in speech. When you come across a Man who can literally bellow when he is talking, you need not worry whether he is getting enough iron. But in the case of a Man who can hardly make himself heard, you are perfectly right to consider how far iron is lacking. Man's need of iron for his free will is shown outwardly. We can therefore easily understand that the iron which is everywhere present in the universe and in the Earth is connected with man's free will.

Now everything that happens influences everything else and we must be clear that iron alone does not form us or the universe — otherwise we should be iron men ... which would certainly make for strength, but if we were iron men we could not do many other things. So we must look for something which can form compounds with iron.

[soda or sodium carbonate <-> thinking <-> head-nerve subsystem]

I told you recently that soda is especially important for everything in us that has to do with thinking. For soda is sodium carbonate and sodium carbonate has a stimulating effect upon the head. Everything that is connected with our thinking, with our head, with our inner light, has to do with soda. You will remember that I recently explained this.

In order that a substance like soda may be present in us

  • we must take in the oxygen contained in the air. This we do in breathing, for the air consists of oxygen and nitrogen — of many other things too but they play a less important part. We take in the oxygen with our breathing.
  • What about the carbon? We form carbon in ourselves out of the food we take.

Carbonic acid is formed and we then get carbonate of soda. Soda is very important for our heads. We have sodium carbonate — soda — within us, and it is all the time passing into our heads. In propagation, too, it has its part to play as I once told you. So you see soda is of great importance to us.

And now I will tell you something else. I spoke to you once — it was some time ago — about colours. The chief colours are to be seen in the rainbow: violet, blue, green, yellow, then orange and then red, in order. These are the colours of the rainbow. Nature creates these colours in the rainbow, but man can also create them by admitting just a tiny shaft of light through the window of a dark room. (Sketch.) Here is a window, here a small hole where the shaft of light enters. Here you place a glass prism so that the light passes through it and in this way you can get the colours as in the rainbow. You can then project them on a wall.

Now this succession of colours, this spectrum which appears here in the prism, as in the rainbow, has this peculiarity: it is only properly shown when one uses a glass prism, or sunlight. When one uses other bodies, one does not get this sequence of colours but only single colours. For example, under certain circumstances it can be dark everywhere, except for a fine yellow line in the middle. How is this? If you put sodium into a flame and let it burn in the flame, then you get this yellow line, not the red line, but the yellow. Thus when you take a flame, let the light pass through a small hole and take a prism, you do not get a spectrum of the sun, but a yellow line. When you take a tiny bit of sodium and bring it into this large space (sketch) you get the fine yellow line. There need not be much sodium — everywhere there are these fine yellow lines — even the very tiniest amounts of sodium give these yellow lines. ...

Sodium is widely, very widely spread in the universe. If you ask yourselves, why is sodium so widespread, then you must answer: in order that this sodium carbonate, this soda, can come into existence. It is spread everywhere in order that human heads can exist. Iron is everywhere present in the universe in order that we can have free will. Sodium is everywhere in order that we can have heads. Were sodium not present in the universe, it would be quite impossible for us to have heads.

Now what must be present in order that we, as human beings, can have heads?

There must be carbonic acid, that is to say, carbon and oxygen; and there must be sodium.

We take the oxygen from the air and the sodium from the universe. Sodium, as I have told you, is present everywhere in the universe. These must be present, in order that we may have heads.

Carbon we have in ourselves. It is all the time being created in us from our food; only it is transformed because we do not want to be dead carbon men, but living men, who destroy substance and then re-create it. And especially we create carbon.

You see now that in this way, if these things were present which I have described, we could have heads and we could have our free will.

[metabolic limb system <-> chlorine and hydrogen combine to form hydrochloric acid]

But how would this free will help us as earth-men if we had not arms and legs so that we could use it?

We must also be able to nourish ourselves. In order that we can be built up from the materials of the Earth, we must be able to take in food. This depends on the fact that we have in our lower organs something similar to what we have in our breathing. We breathe in oxygen; we breathe out carbonic acid gas. If we did not breathe out this carbonic acid, then the plants would not have carbon, for it is taken from the carbonic acid of men and animals. Thus plants are formed by what is breathed out by men and animals. Moreover, the oxygen takes our carbon away — it combines with our carbon. But first we must produce the carbon, we must first have it. To this end we must take food. Oxygen is frightfully greedy for carbon. If we did not give up our carbon to the oxygen, we should at once get fits of suffocation when the carbon cannot get out — that is to say, when the carbonic acid cannot get out. We should suffocate at once. Oxygen is really greedy. Our stomach must also take in food. Just as the oxygen takes up carbon and carbonic acid is formed, so must our stomach greedily take in carbon. Our stomach literally craves for food.

Now we might imagine that if oxygen were in our stomach, it could get out through the mouth and nose. The oxygen is there inside: it absorbs the carbon. There must thus be something in the stomach which also serves the process of the taking of nourishment. And so there is: a substance very like oxygen is in the stomach and is continuously being secreted, namely, chlorine.

I have told you already that soda is used for bleaching and especially for washing. But chlorine is also used for bleaching, is in fact, contained in washing blue. It also is a material which has light in itself, which carries light. Chlorine is very similar to oxygen.

In the breathing organs it is the oxygen of the air which continuously extracts the carbon from our bodies. In the stomach there is chlorine which, because it is greedy, frightfully greedy, similarly attracts to itself all hydrogen. And together with the hydrogen it forms hydrochloric acid.

This hydrochloric acid flows about in our stomach and it is greedy for food. When we take food into our mouths it must first be dissolved by the acid in the saliva — ptyalin. This ptyalin is similar to hydrochloric acid. Then, when the food gets to the stomach, there is pepsin, which is somewhat similar to hydrochloric acid. But pepsin is hydrochloric acid which is alive. It absorbs food greedily. If a man has too little hydrochloric acid he has a bitter taste in his mouth. Why? Because hydrochloric acid takes up all foodstuffs greedily and dispatches them to all parts of the body. So when the hydrochloric acid does not work properly, the food which a man has eaten remains in the stomach. Then he has a bitter taste in the mouth when it comes up as gas, and a coated tongue. Some hydrochloric acid must always be active inside us, especially if we are to build up our limbs.

And so we can say: Iron would not really help us unless we could use it in the operations of free will. We must build up our limbs. In order to do this, chlorine and hydrogen must combine to form hydrochloric acid. We must have this in us.

Now consider: Apart from all else, you have everywhere in your bodies hydrochloric acid, and carbon, and much else. You must look at man like this. If this is a man (sketch), there is hydrochloric acid everywhere. This must take up tiny particles of iron from the blood. Then a man can develop a free and powerful will. So much depends upon how a man combines the iron in himself with what comes from the hydrochloric acid, from the chlorine. This process must always take place in the right way. Now it can happen that young girls at puberty have to expend so much energy that they have not enough left to combine the hydrochloric acid with the iron. Then, on the one hand, there is iron which makes them heavy and cannot combine with what comes from the chlorine because there is not enough energy to make this possible. It is useless simply to give iron to such a girl; for very likely she has enough iron already. She has anaemia, which young girls get, not because they have too little iron, but because the iron cannot combine with the chlorine. So you see this power to combine the iron with the chlorine must be developed in us.

Now think of iron and then look out into the cosmos. Iron is connected with Mars. Mars is really the creator of iron in our planetary system. Man is related to Mars and the forces of Mars in many ways. I have already spoken about these things and shall do so again. Iron is connected with Mars. When we ask: What is it that has a great influence on a man when he does not properly produce his hydrochloric acid, when his stomach does not function properly, we find that it is Mercury, the planet Mercury, which is connected with chlorine. So that in the case of a young girl who is anaemic, we can say: the Mercury forces (which should work on the stomach and its appendages) and the Mars forces are not working well together. Mars creates in us those forces which make it possible for us to have iron. Mars must be there in order that we may have the power to use iron. And iron must be there in order that we may have the power to exercise free will. Mars gives us the power of the iron; meteors, since they are all the time giving up iron to the air, supply the substance of iron. Mars is that body in the cosmos which enables us to use in the proper way that iron which the meteors and comets bring to us in an irregular manner. It is actually the force of Mars together with that of the comets and meteors which enables us to speak. ... People just take human speech casually, and see nothing special in it. They do not really think, indeed they cannot really think, because they turn their attention to something which is not reality. Quite trivial matters are evidence of this. Just recently we have had a fire alarm test here. Naturally in such tests everything is done as it would be in the case of an actual fire. The Catholic Sunday paper announced that there had been a real fire here which was soon extinguished. You see, people are willing to think about something that didn't happen but not about something that did! That is just what is peculiar today: people think about all kinds of things that have never happened and have no inclination to think about what did. But a man who is always thinking about things which haven't happened loses all sense of reality. And that is so general nowadays. It is crippled thinking ... after all, when people continuously lie what is it but crippled thinking!

Thus free will in man is produced by the Mars force and comet force. This, however, must work properly with the Mercury force within him. It is Mercury which causes in our stomach the right hydrochloric acid combination.

Just as we make use of soda in our heads, so in our stomachs we use what comes from hydrochloric acid. Soda gives light to the head, and also to the embryo which is, for the most part, head.

When the human being reaches puberty, the hydrochloric acid is taken over by those parts which are connected with the stomach. And if the hydrochloric acid combines with the soda which is everywhere present, we get ordinary salt. In our heads we need soda, with which we also bleach. In our stomachs we need ordinary salt. This is not only taken in with the food but is always being created, so that down there in the body too there may be light. For both soda and salt are carriers of light, are transparent to it.

Now it is not without purpose that we add salt to our food. We salt our food in order to adjust ourselves properly to nature because we always secrete rather too little of our own salt. Thus the Mars force and the Mercury force must work together properly; if this happens, the iron that is necessary in our limbs will be at the disposal of our will, and we shall be able to use them with healthy, free will.


You can see in the case of an anaemic girl, for example, that what comes from the stomach and depends on hydrochloric acid does not properly combine with the iron. Now we must investigate, and perhaps it will be found that the fault lies with iron — perhaps there is too little iron (which may well be the case in anaemia); or perhaps there is too little chlorine (which may also be the case). Then we must try to remedy this. But the trouble in most cases is that the two do not combine: Mars and Mercury in the human being do not combine. That is usually the cause of anaemia.

In modern medicine people always want to find a single cause of disease ... but diseases may look identical outwardly and inwardly be quite different! If a girl has anaemia we must not only ask: has she too little iron? too little chlorine? ... but we must also ask: or do they not combine properly? If the girl has too little iron, we must see to it that she is given iron in the appropriate form. Well and good, but that is not so easy as it seems. For if, as usually happens, iron is introduced into the stomach, the chlorine must have the inclination to combine with this iron, otherwise the iron is left in the stomach, passes away through the bowels and does not get into the organism. Thus a way must first be found of bringing the Mercury force, the chlorine force, into the human being. And so it is of great importance not simply to give the iron as iron, but to introduce the iron into the stomach in such a form that it may somehow be taken up by the chlorine. But for that purpose a special medicine must be prepared, for example from spinach. Spinach contains iron. One can also make a medicine from other things, for example from aniseed and so on; but especially from spinach — not as ordinary spinach though it may also help if eaten just as it is. ... A medicine must be prepared from the iron in spinach, for it is then in a form in which it can be properly taken up by the blood. So, in a case where one finds that there is too little iron, one must try in this way to introduce more. But the disease may also be due to the fact that there is too little fat in the stomach to create hydrochloric acid. A certain scientist has discovered that in anaemia too little chlorine is created and so the disease has also been given the name of Chlorosis. But the real connection is not understood. One must not just try to introduce hydrochloric acid into the stomach for perhaps there is already enough of this, especially if it is brought in from outside. But what is important is that the chlorine should be produced in the stomach itself, that the stomach should have the capacity to produce chlorine. Man needs his own chlorine, not that which is introduced from outside. And for this it is necessary to introduce into the stomach something prepared in a special way from copper. This will make the stomach more capable of creating chlorine. ... So you see, things must be looked at from all sides. Usually in anaemia it is not the iron which is lacking, or the chlorine, but the trouble is due to the fact that the two cannot combine. Mars and Mercury in man cannot come together.

In the cosmos, between Mercury and Mars, stands the Sun (diagram). Just as Mars is connected with iron, so is Mercury connected with quicksilver or with copper. If when there is a lack of chlorine one needs the Mars forces, and when there is a lack of copper the Mercury forces, so when the two cannot come together one needs to strengthen the working of the Sun forces which lie between them. For it is the Sun force in man which brings chlorine and iron together. And this Sun force can be stimulated by giving gold in tiny quantities. When one tries to cure with gold — naturally in specially prepared forms because otherwise it lies in the stomach and is not absorbed — one can bring Mars and Mercury together again.

So you see, in illnesses of this character three kinds of medicine come into consideration. One cannot cure the disease merely from its name, but one must give a preparation of copper or of iron taken from a plant, from spinach for example. Or gold — in the appropriate form — may be necessary to bring them together. It amounts to this — when one only knows what happens here on the earth, one can know nothing essential about man ... and things that outwardly appear to be identical are called by identical names. But that is just as if we wanted to use a razor for cutting meat, simply because it is a knife. ... Anaemia's are not always the same. One form is due to poverty of iron, another to poverty of chlorine; and a third form is due to the fact that they do not harmonize properly ... there are different kinds of anaemia, just as there are different kinds of knives — razors, table-knives, pen-knives. But people always tend to mix everything up. A man may say of the condiments on the table that they are all additions to food, and so he salts his coffee, since salt is a condiment and so is sugar! This is on a par with the people who proclaim to the world: anaemia is anaemia. It is just as nonsensical as saying: condiment is condiment. For when one tries to cure an anaemia that is due to disharmony by means of iron, one does the same as when one salts coffee.

You see, it is a matter of looking for something which is not just at the end of one's nose. It can be said with truth that our science has progressed a nose's length, for when one looks in a microscope, one always knocks one's nose! In life it is not so simple. It is said of a man who does not see something that he sees no farther than his nose. (Those people today who are always looking through microscopes, they also see no farther than their noses). ... But one must look up to Mars if one wants to see what is important in ordinary iron. Why? The connections can only be discovered by looking out into the cosmos. It is not poetical fiction to say that Mars has this or that power. It is not that one develops a sort of dim, vague clairvoyance which looks up to Mars, but one must get to know many things: one must learn to understand the Mars force in man and then one can really speak of Mars; otherwise not. And so it is with the other planets. We can for example say: it will always be found that when something is inwardly lacking in a human being — as in the case of anaemia when the iron cannot be assimilated — this is connected with an irregular working of Mercury in the organism. If something is outwardly lacking, this is connected with an irregular working of Mars.

There are, for example, girls who suffer from anaemia at puberty — this means that something is inwardly not as it should be. The Mercury force is too weak and we must strengthen it by means of the gold forces.

There are also boys — you know, with boys at puberty something happens outwardly, namely the change of voice; sometimes a hoarseness appears; while with girls something happens inwardly — the periods commence. This hoarseness corresponds to the anaemia of girls — boys of course may suffer from it too and in that case there is also something wrong inwardly. But when the change in the voice does not take place properly and a certain hoarseness appears, as is often the case, then the real culprit is not the Mercury force, but the Mars force. Although iron comes not only from Mars but from the meteors, one must in any case strengthen the Mars forces — and this may be possible with gold. You see, the onset of puberty expresses itself in quite different ways: with girls, in that they come more under the Mercury forces; with boys, in that they come more under the Mars forces and are inclined to get hoarse; or if they are not always hoarse they become so every winter.

These things must be investigated by spiritual science today. The other sciences have no idea at all of these things. When anaemia is caused by a poverty of iron, for example, it is a matter of introducing into the stomach in the appropriate way that which, in the plant, brings about the right divisibility of iron. We only really get to know the nature of Man when we relate it to the whole of the cosmos. This is infinite, but we must realise that all the stars of heaven have their particular influence on Man. This is of the utmost importance.


oxalic acid and formic acid

But Man of today has no longer a true idea to what extent the processes of nature are images of the divine. I should like to give you an instance of this, one which is probably well known to any of you who have learnt a little chemistry. I should like to show you how those men who still held to some extent to the view that natural events and processes of nature are pictures of the divine, formed a concept of science.

Let us take quite a simple experiment, which can be easily made by any chemist of today. Let us take a retort and pour into it oxalic acid, which can be extracted from clover, and mix with the oxalic acid an equal part of glycerin. We then heat the oxalic acid and glycerin and obtain carbonic acid, which vanishes, and what remains over is formic acid. The oxalic acid is transformed in losing carbonic acid into formic acid. I beg you to take note: oxalic acid, formic acid, and this carbonic acid which dies away. If you go into the laboratory in which you have your retorts you as a modern chemist can easily make such an experiment.

Now this was not the case with the man of the Middle Ages; he would have looked at once to two things. He would have said: oxalic acid, yes, that is most predominant in clover but oxalic acid is at the same time to be found to a certain extent in the whole of man's organism, especially in that part of the organism which embraces the organs of digestion, the liver and the spleen. Thus when you consider a human organism, where we have the digestive tract, we have especially to do with those processes which are under the influence of oxalic acid.

Now that goes on in such a way that the human organism exercises an influence on this oxalic acid, which exists especially in the lower body of Man and has there its significance, an influence is exercised similar to that which is exercised upon it in the retort through the glycerin. A glycerin influence works also in the human body.

And now just think of this. Under the influence of this glycerin working there passes into the lungs, and into the air that is breathed, this transformed product, formic acid; and man then breathes out carbonic acid. We drive it out with the expired breath, this carbon dioxide. You can compare the retort with the heated mixture of glycerin and

  • oxalic acid quite well with the human digestive tract, and
  • the part where the formic acid flows we can compare with the lungs, and
  • there where the carbonic acid gas disperses is the expired breath, carbonic acid coming from the lungs.

Now, however, man is no retort. The retort simply shows in a dead way that which exists in man in a living and feeling way. It is correct, however, that if man were not able to develop oxalic acid in his digestive tract he would be unable to live; for that would mean that his etheric body would have no basis in his organism. If Man was unable to transform oxalic acid into formic acid his astral body would have no basis in his organism. Man requires for his etheric body oxalic acid. For his astral body he requires formic acid; and he does not merely require these substances, he also requires that activity in his organism which consists in the transformation of oxalic acid into formic acid. This view must be acquired by the modern physiology.

That is one question which a natural scientist of that time, standing before his retort, asked himself:

How does the external process which I perceive in the retort or any other chemical arrangement, how does this process take place in Man?

And the second question was this: How does this process take place in great nature?

For concerning this process, which I have chosen as an example, the natural scientist of that time would have said: I can turn my gaze outwards to the Earth, over which the plant world is spread. Now, of course, radically speaking we find oxalic acid chiefly in sorrel and in the plants of the clover family, but in reality oxalic acid is spread out everywhere in the world of vegetation, though often only to be found there in homeopathic doses. Oxalic acid is everywhere in the vegetable kingdom, and we find homeopathic traces sometimes of this if we turn our attention to the ants, for they approach rotting wood in order to get to the oxalic acid there. This army of insects, often so tiresome to man, transforms what is spread out everywhere in the meadow in the plants, in the whole vegetable covering of the earth, into formic acid; and we actually breathe in formic acid, even if only in small doses; we continually breathe this, and we owe this to the work of the insects on the plants, who transform the oxalic acid of the plants into formic acid.

The medieval natural scientist said: In man we have this process of transformation from oxalic acid into formic acid, but in the life and activity of nature this transforming process is also present. These two questions were put by the medieval natural scientist with reference to every process which he met with, every experiment he made in his laboratory. There was one thing characteristic of these medieval scientists which to the man of today is quite immaterial. It is thought today that anyone can work in a laboratory and make investigations whether he be a good man or an evil man. That does not matter a bit. He has the formulae and can make analyses and syntheses. Anyone can do it. But in those days when nature was regarded as the work of the divine, whether the divine in man or the divine in the great world of nature, the following demand was made: The man who investigates in this way must at the same time be filled with inner piety. He must be in a position to turn his soul and spirit to the divine spiritual element of the world. It was clearly understood and to them it was a fact, that he who prepares himself for his experiments as if preparing himself for a sacrificial offering, who becomes really inwardly glowing through the exercises in piety preparatory to his experiments, discovered that his experiments led him, on the one side into the revelation of man, and on the other into the investigation of the great world of nature. Therefore inner goodness, inner morality was regarded as a preparation for investigation. Experiments in the laboratory were so regarded that the scientist considered that the questions which he asked were gladly answered by divine spiritual beings.

Herewith I have characterized that transition which took place from the spirit of the old Mysteries to that which the Mysteries in the Middle Ages were still able to be. Much pertaining to the old Mysteries was preserved traditionally, even in the Mysteries of the Middle Ages; but that which constituted the real greatness, let us say, even of the later Mysteries, whether the Samothracian or Hibernian, that which was the real greatness of these Mysteries, could no longer be attained in the Middle Ages.

Traditionally, we find preserved right on into our own days something of what was known as Astrology. Traditionally something was preserved of what was known as Alchemy; but we know nothing today — and even in the 12th to 15th centuries very little was still known — of the conditions of true astrological and alchemical knowledge.

No one can acquire Astrology through thought or empirical research, as it is called today. If those who were initiated into the ancient Mysteries had been asked whether by means of investigation and thought one can learn Astrology, they would have answered: You can no more learn Astrology through thinking or empirical research than you can learn the secrets of a man by those means if he does not reveal them to you. Just imagine for a moment that there was something which one man knew and which no one but he knew; and that someone thought he would like as an experiment to try and find it out, or would think about it in order to discover it. As you see, that would be absurd; and to experience astrological things through thinking, or experiments, or by observation would have seemed to one of those ancient men just as absurd as it would seem today that a man should seek to investigate by means of experiment the secret of another human being. For these ancients knew that the Gods alone knew the secrets of the stellar world: the Gods, or as they were called later, the Cosmic Intelligences. The Cosmic Intelligences know the secret of the stellar world, and they alone can tell it. Therefore the student had to follow the path of cognition which leads to an understanding intercourse with the Cosmic Intelligences.

The real true Astrology depended upon a man's attaining this possibility of understanding the Cosmic Intelligences. And a true Alchemy did not then depend as it does today on a man's experiments and calculations, but on his learning to recognize the spirits of nature in the processes of nature, so that he could have intercourse with them; so that the spirits of nature could tell him how the processes took place and what really happened. Astrology in the oldest times was not a spinning of thoughts; nor investigation by means of observation; it was intercourse with the Cosmic Intelligences. Neither was Alchemy in those olden times an investigation through observation nor was it calculation; it really was intercourse with the spirits of nature. This it is necessary to know. If we had gone to an ancient Egyptian, and especially to a Chaldean of very ancient times, he would have told us: “I use my observatory in order with the help of my instruments to be able to hold converse with the Cosmic Intelligences.” A man who, being a medieval natural scientist, a pious scientist in the Middle Ages, stood before his retort and scientifically investigated on the one hand the inner being of man, and on the other the weaving and working of the great world of nature, this medieval investigator would have said: “I am experimenting because, through my experiments, the spirits of nature speak to me.” The Alchemist was one who evoked the spirits of nature. Everything regarded later as Alchemy is simply a decadent product. Everything which in ancient times was Astrology was the result of intercourse with the Cosmic Intelligences.


If we look back into those alchemical laboratories of the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, and even into the 13th century, we really look into. a deep tragedy; and this tragedy of the Middle Ages, this tragedy of those earnest seekers is not described in any history book in the right way, because no one can look so deeply into their souls.

But those real investigators of the Middle Ages who sought in this way to investigate nature in man and the cosmos in their retorts, they all had very evolved Faust-like natures, for they all felt one thing very deeply: When we experiment the divine spirits of nature speak to us; the spirits of the earth, the spirits of water, of fire, the spirits of the air. We can hear them in their whisperings, in their murmurings, in their peculiar flowing, humming sounds, which then pass over into harmonies and melodies, and in order to withdraw again into themselves. Thus melodies reveal when events of nature occur. Men stood before their retorts. They deepened themselves, as I have said, as pious men in that which then transpired in their experiments. Then in such a process wherein was experienced the metamorphosis of oxalic acid into formic acid, when they questioned this process, then it was that the spirits of nature answered them. They could as it were use the spirits of nature for investigating the inner being of man. The retorts began to speak to them through colour-phenomena; they felt how nature spirits of the earth, the nature spirits of water, arise out of the oxalic acid, make themselves felt, and all this then passes over into forms of humming melody, and into harmonies which then drew back again into themselves. In this way was experienced the process which results in formic acid and in carbonic acid.

When they experienced with their being this transition of colour into sound, they could enter into that which they learnt through their laboratory experiments about the great world of nature and of man. Then they had the feelings: “These things of nature, these processes of nature still reveal something of what the Gods are saying, they are pictures of the Gods, pictures of the divine;” and they then applied it inwardly for the advantage of mankind.

In all these epochs the art of healing was to a high degree intimately connected with their knowledge of the universal cosmos. Let us suppose that a man holding such a view had the task of developing therapeutics, the science of healing, and saw a human being before him. Now the same external complex of symptoms can bring about the most manifold conditions and causes of diseases, but with the method such as that which was employed in the Middle Ages (I do not say that one should use them today, because naturally things alter in the course of time) but with such a method one might say: When a certain definite complex appears in a man, it shows he is not in a position to transform in his body sufficient oxalic acid into formic acid. He has somehow become too weak to bring about this transformation of the oxalic acid of his body into formic acid. One might perhaps give him a remedy for this by giving him formic acid so that thereby one helps him from outside to produce the formic acid himself.

Now you might have such a diagnosis for two or three people who cannot produce formic acid, so they are treated with formic acid and that helps them considerably. But then you might have another patient in whom similar symptoms appear; if you give him formic acid it does not help him; but the moment you give him oxalic acid, that helps him immediately. Why? This is because this deficiency of force lies in another place. It lies where the oxalic acid should be transformed into formic acid. In such a case one who thought in the sense of these medieval investigators would have said: “The human organism under certain conditions, if one simply gave it formic acid, would say: ‘I do not require this formic acid for my lungs so it goes into the breathing and the circulation, I seek to be affected in quite another place. I seek to be affected in the sphere of oxalic acid, there I will myself transform it into formic acid. I do not require formic acid for I have to make that myself.’”

So you see these things are all very complicated; but the whole question as regards the work of an alchemical investigator worthy of the name — for of course much stupidity has been intermingled with this — the whole attitude of an alchemical investigator was, continually to regard the healthy nature of man as being in intimate connection with the sick part of a man. All this led to nothing else than intercourse with the spirits of nature. These medieval investigators had the feeling: “I have intercourse with the spirits of nature;” but they knew that in more ancient times humanity had had intercourse with the Cosmic Intelligences, and that this was cut off from them.


section that preceedes the quote below is on: Albumen#1923-12-30-GA233

In the human being we may see working together, first of all the forces that are the physical-central forces of the Earth. These forces work in all the organs of the human being. But everywhere in him work also, in an opposite direction, the forces that stream in from all sides, the etheric forces. Look at the liver, for example, or the lungs: you will only understand them when you know that in them are working together the forces that come from the centre of the Earth and the forces that come in from every direction from the circumference of the Universe. Then we have also certain organs that are permeated by the astral body, or again by the I-organisation, whilst others are less permeated by these higher members. In the condition of sleep, of course, the human being as a whole has not his astral body and I-organisation in him at all. Now imagine that some organ, let us say one of the lungs has through some circumstance become too strongly affected by the forces that stream in everywhere from the Cosmic All. The lung will in consequence become diseased, for a certain harmony and balance is necessary between that which works in the lung from the centre of the Earth and that which streams in upon it from all parts of the circumference. If you can succeed in finding mineral substances which will provide a counterpoise in the lung to the too strongly working etheric forces, then you will have a remedy wherewith to eliminate their over-activity. The reverse may also happen. The etheric forces may become too weak, and the physical forces that work from the centre of the Earth grow correspondingly too strong. This time you will search the whole kingdom of the plants to discover something that shall strengthen the etheric forces in the organ where they are weak; and then you will have your remedy for this condition. It is quite impossible to find even the slightest remedy by an observation of the physical body alone, for the physical body of man has in itself no ground for telling anything about its own constitution. The so-called normal process that goes on in the physical body is a process of Nature. But the process that goes on in illness is likewise a process of Nature. If you have what is called a normal healthy liver, you have a liver in which processes of Nature take place. And if you have a liver in which there is an abscess, you have also a liver in which processes of Nature take place. The difference can never be found by investigating the physical body. All you can do from investigation of the physical body is to establish the fact that the appearance is different in the one case from the other. You can learn nothing of the cause. If you have an abscess on the liver, you will only be able to discover the cause of it when you know that in such a case, for example, the astral body enters much more powerfully into the liver than it should. What you have to do is to drive out of the liver the astral body, which has taken possession there too strongly. From all this it is clear that there is really no possibility of speaking about the healthy and the diseased human being in a way that accords with the facts, unless we go beyond the physical body and include also in our consideration the higher members of man's being. We shall indeed only regain a pharmacology when we go beyond the physical body, for the nature of illness is simply not demonstrable from the physical body alone.

At the present time my purpose is merely to set forth these things in their historical aspect and connections. It must, however, be pointed out that with the gradual dimming and darkening of that which has been brought over from olden times, all real knowledge of the human being has died right away. And now to-day we are faced with the necessity of acquiring once again a knowledge of the human being. Such knowledge will be attainable when we are once again in a position to understand the relationship of the human being to the surrounding kingdoms of Nature.

Suppose, then, we take our start from the I-organisation of the human being. If, through initiation science, we have attained to imaginative cognition and are able to perceive the I-organisation of man, then we may ask ourselves:

With what portion of the human organism (in its present state) does this I-organisation stand in especially near relation?

It stands in an especial relation with all that is mineral in the human being.

  • Hence when you receive into yourself some essentially mineral substance, — for example, when you take some salt on your tongue — it is the I-organisation in you that immediately pounces upon this mineral substance. And as the substance is carried further into the body, all the while, — even when the salt substance is in the stomach — the I-organisation remains with it. The salt goes still further, it undergoes various changes, it passes through the intestines, — never once does the I-organisation leave hold of her salt! They behave like two closely related things, two things that belong to one another: the I-organisation, and the salt that enters the human being.
  • It is quite another matter when you eat, for example, a poached egg, or any substance of a similar — albumenous — consistency. The I-organisation is very little concerned when you have a piece of poached egg on your tongue. Afterwards, as it slips down into the stomach, the astral body concerns itself with it, but again only to a very small extent. Then it goes further. And now, first the etheric and then the physical body begin to act intensively upon it. They break down within you the albumen that you receive into your organism with the egg. The egg itself is now made entirely of mineral within you. It is broken down and destroyed. All life is driven out of it. It is destroyed within you. At the walls of the intestines the albumen substance that you have taken into you from outside ceases to be albumen in any sense, becomes entirely mineral in character. And now it passes over into the I-organisation; from this point the mineralised albumen is taken up by the I-organisation.

Thus, the I-organisation concerns itself only with what is mineral. And all mineral substances are changed through its action; in the human organism they become different from what they were outside it. No mineral substance can remain the same within the human organism as it is outside. The I-organisation has to look after this in a very thorough manner. Nor is it only such substances as cooking salt and the like that are seized upon by the I-organisation and inwardly changed to something quite different.


The human being is surrounded by a certain condition of warmth, but that external condition of warmth must never be allowed to penetrate the human being. You can never have your finger full of that which is all around you as external warmth. This warmth can but act as a stimulus, you yourself must create and produce the warmth that you have within you. The moment you are merely, so to say, an object and do not yourself create your own warmth or cold, but let the warmth from outside extend its influence into you exactly as it does into any external object, — in that moment you become ill. The external warmth, — not even a substance, but the warmth itself makes you ill. Suppose you have here a towel or a sponge, and over there is a fire. The warmth of the fire, which can spread out all around quite easily, will permeate the towel or the sponge. The towel or sponge only carries a little further the radiating warmth of the fire. When, however, the warmth of the fire reaches the skin of the human being and acts upon the senses, stimulating them, then it must no longer simply spread in this way; then the reaction must come, the inner warmth must be created from within. If a person catches cold, his condition results from the fact that he has not merely let himself be stimulated to create his own inner warmth, but has let the external cold enter to some extent beneath the skin. Thus he does not take his place in the world as a fully active human being who fills himself with his own activity and his own impulses, but plays rather the part of an object that lets the activities and influences of the outer world pass through him. That is the essential nature of the I-organisation that it takes up into itself what is mineral and completely changes it from within, converting it into something altogether different.

Not until we have died does the mineral turn back again into the mineral of external Nature. So long as we are alive on the Earth, and have the mineral enclosed in our skin, so long does the I-organisation continue to change it perpetually. Similarly, whatever we take up into ourselves that is of a plant nature is perpetually changed by the working of the astral body. It is in everything of a mineral nature that the I-organisation brings about a thorough metamorphosis; not merely in the solid mineral, but also in the liquid and gaseous mineral, and the mineral that is in the state of warmth or heat.

Of course, when we speak in quite an ordinary way, we may say: Here is some water. I drink it. Now I have the water inside me. The truth is, however, that the moment my organism receives the water, then by reason of the action of my I-organisation, the water inside me is no longer the same as the water outside. It only becomes the same again when I give it off in the form of perspiration, or in some other way convert it into water. Inside my skin water is not water, it is living fluid.

In this manner we shall have to alter our thought about a great many things. Today I have only been able to give you small indications. Think them over.

  • Think how the albumen has to be broken down and disorganised in order that it may be exposed to the influences of the whole macrocosm.
  • Think how the water I drink becomes in me living fluid and is no longer the inorganic water it was before, but is water permeated by the I-organisation.
  • Think how, when you eat cabbage — outside you it was cabbage, inside you the astral body receives the cabbage into itself and transforms it into something new.

And here we come to the consideration of very important processes in the human body. We learn to perceive how we have in our metabolic system processes that are only one evolutionary stage removed from the metabolisms that we have, for example, in our brain — the metabolisms that go to make up the nervous system, and so forth. I will speak further on this tomorrow and make clear, in connection with these processes, the radical difference between men of the 12th and of the 20th century. We shall thus come to see the necessity for new impulses to enter in, if there is to be progress in the understanding of health and disease, and if the knowledge of man is not to die out altogether and nothing more ever be known of the healthy or of the diseased human being


If we are to understand such forces and the connection of the human organism with the cosmos and with the three kingdoms of nature around man on the earth, we must cultivate a different kind of natural science from what is cultivated today. I will give you an example.

You all know that formic acid comes from ants. Certain things are known by chemists and pharmaceutical chemists about formic acid, but the following is not known. A forest in which no ants are carrying on their work causes great harm to the Earth through the roots that are falling into decay. In the organic fragments that are falling into dust the Earth goes to pieces. Just think of wood from which the vegetative process has gone and which has passed over into a kind of mineral condition; it is pulverized, is falling into dust. But when the ants are doing their work, formic acid in an extremely high potency is always present in the soil and in the air within the area of the forest. This formic acid permeates what is falling into dust and the connection of the formic acid with the dust safeguards the development of the earth; the dust is not just scattered away in the universe but can provide material for the earth's further evolution. Substances which seem merely to be the excretions of insects or other forms of animal life are seen, in very truth, to be the saviors of the further evolution of the earth when we know what their true function is.

The way in which the modern chemist investigates substances will never lead to a knowledge of the cosmic tasks of these substances. And without knowledge of the cosmic tasks of substances it is quite impossible to know the tasks of substances that are introduced into the human being.

What formic acid does in external nature, quite without being noticed, is going on all the time within the human organism. And so I said in another lecture that the human organism must always have a certain quantity of formic acid in it because the formic acid restores the physical substances that are succumbing to the process of growing old. In certain cases it may be found that the patient has too little formic acid in his organism. It is essential to know that the different organs must each have different quantities of formic acid. When we discover that some organ has too little formic acid, this substance must be introduced into the organism. There will be cases where the introduction of formic acid gives no help, others again where it is a very great help. There may also be a case where the organism strongly resists the direct introduction of formic acid but will be inclined, when its oxalic acid content is increased, to manufacture formic acid itself, out of the oxalic acid. In cases where nothing can be done with formic acid, it is often necessary to apply an oxalic acid cure, because formic acid is produced out of the oxalic acid in the organism. This is only one indication of how necessary it is not only to understand the nature of the organs with definite contours but also the nature of the fluids, the fluid process outside in the cosmos as well as within the human organism. This must be known in all detail.


All these things are also done in modern medicine, and considered extraordinarily important. In fact, the first thing they do nowadays is to check the urine for protein and sugar. This immediately gives an indication if the person has perhaps one disease or another.

Or take the following. You see, if we want to have a healthy head, and after all this is not entirely unimportant for physical human beings here on Earth - people want the head to be healthy, for they believe it to be the most important human organ, so they want to have the head healthy - if we want to have the head healthy, we must bring a substance that is continually produced in us, oxalic acid, through the chest up into the head. A healthy head must have a certain amount of oxalic acid. We produce the oxalic acid ourselves, just as we produce the alcohol we need. But the head has to work properly in turn, so that oxalic acid may be produced. If it does not work properly and the acid remains below, we get a head that is anaemic, and the oxalic acid is taken up into the urine and discharged.

So you see, gentlemen, that even today, a completely ordinary chemical analysis of the urine indicates the most important diseases. But the chemistry we have today did not exist in the past. Medicine did however exist in times gone by.


Hence we shall never understand plant life unless we bear in mind that everything which happens on the Earth is but a reflection of what is taking place in the Cosmos. For man this fact is only masked because he has emancipated himself; he only bears the inner rhythms in himself. To the plant world, however, it applies in the highest degree. That is what I should like to point out in this introductory lecture.

The Earth is surrounded in the heavenly spaces, first by the Moon and then by the other planets of our planetary system. In an old instinctive science wherein the Sun was reckoned among the planets, they had this sequence: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Without astronomical explanations I will now speak of this planetary life, and of that in the planetary life which is connected with the earthly world.


Turning our attention to the earthly life on a large scale, the first fact for us to take into account is this. The greatest imaginable part is played in this earthly life (considered once more on a Large scale, and as a whole) by all that which we may call the life of the silicious substance in the world. You will find silicious substance for example, in the beautiful mineral quartz, enclosed in the form of a prism and pyramid; you will find the silicious substance, combined with oxygen, in the crystals of quartz.

Imagine the oxygen removed (which in the quartz is combined with silicious substance) and you have so-called silicon. This substance is included by modern chemistry among the “elements,” oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulphur, etc. Silicon therefore, which is here combined with oxygen, is a “chemical element.”

Now we must not forget that the silicon which lives thus in the mineral quartz is spread over the Earth so as to constitute 27-28% of our Earth's crust. All other substances are present in lesser quantities, save oxygen, which constitutes 47-48%. Thus an enormous quantity of silicon is present. Now, it is true this silicon, occurring as it does in rocks like quartz, appears in such a form that it does not seem very important when we are considering the outer, material aspect of the Earth with its plant-growth. (The plant-growth is frequently forgotten).

Quartz is insoluble in water — the water trickles through it. It therefore seems — at first sight — to have very little to do with the ordinary, obvious conditions of life. But once again, you need only remember the horse-tail — equisetum — which contains 90% of silica — the same substance that is in quartz — very finely distributed.

From all this you can see what an immense significance silicon must have. Well-nigh half of what we meet on the Earth consists of silica. But the peculiar thing is how very little notice is taken of it. It is practically excluded to-day even from those domains of life where it could work most beneficially.

In the Medicine that proceeds from anthroposophical science, silicious substances are an essential constituent of numerous medicaments. A large class of illnesses are treated with silicic acid taken internally, or outwardly as baths. In effect, practically everything that shows itself in abnormal conditions of the senses is influenced in a peculiar way by silicon. (I do not say what lies in the senses themselves, but that which shows itself in the senses, including the inner senses — calling forth pains here or there in the organs of the body).

Not only so; throughout the “household of Nature,” as we have grown accustomed to call it, silicon plays the greatest imaginable part, for it not only exists where we discover it in quartz or other rocks, but in an extremely fine state of distribution it is present in the atmosphere. Indeed, it is everywhere. Half of the Earth that is at our disposal is of silica.

Now what does this silicon do?

In a hypothetical form, let us ask ourselves this question. Let us assume that we only had half as much silicon in our earthly environment. In that case our plants would all have more or less pyramidal forms. The flowers would all be stunted. Practically all plants would have the form of the cactus, which strikes us as abnormal. The cereals would look very queer indeed. Their stems would grow thick, even fleshy, as you went downward; the ears would be quite stunted — they would have no full ears at all. That on the one hand.


On the other hand we find another kind of substance, which must occur everywhere throughout the Earth, albeit it is not so widespread as the silicious element. I mean the chalk or limestone substances and all that is akin to these — limestone, potash, sodium substances. Once more, if these were present to a less extent, we should have plants with very thin stems — plants, to a large extent, with twining stems; they would all become like creepers. The flowers would expand, it is true, but they would be useless: they would provide practically no nourishment.

Plant-life in the form in which we see it today can only thrive in the equilibrium and co-operation of the two forces — or, to choose two typical substances, in the co-operation of the limestone and silicious substances respectively.

[planetary formative forces]

Now we can go still farther. Everything that lives in the silicious nature contains forces which comes not from the Earth but from the so-called distant planets, the planets beyond the Sun — Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. That which proceeds from these distant planets influences the life of plants via the silicious and kindred substances into the plant and also into the animal life of the Earth.

On the other hand, from all that is represented by the planets near the Earth — Moon, Mercury and Venus — forces work via the limestone and kindred substances.

Thus we may say, for every tilled field: Therein are working the silicious and the limestone natures; in the former, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars; and in the latter, Moon, Venus and Mercury.

[plant life]

In this connection let us now look at the plants themselves. Two things we must observe in the plant life. The first thing is that the entire plant-world, and every single species, is able to maintain itself — that is to say, it evolves the power of reproduction. The plant is able to bring forth its kind, and so on. That is the one thing. The other is, that as a creature of a comparatively lower kingdom of Nature, the plant can serve as nourishment for those of the higher kingdoms.

At first sight, these two currents in the life and evolution of the plant have little to do with one another. For the process of development from the mother plant to the daughter plant, the granddaughter plant and so on, it may well seem a matter of complete indifference to the formative forces of Nature, whether or no we eat the plant and nourish ourselves thereby. Two very different sets of interests are manifested here. Yet in the whole nexus of Nature's forces, it works in this way:

  • Everything connected with the inner force of reproduction and growth — everything that contributes to the sequence of generation after generation in the plants — works through those forces which come down from the Cosmos to the Earth: from Moon, Venus and Mercury, via the limestone nature. Suppose we were merely considering what emerges in plants such as we do not eat — plants that simply renew themselves again and again. We look at them as though the cosmic influences from the forces of Venus, Mercury and Moon did not interest us. For these are the forces involved in all that reproduces itself in the plant-nature of the Earth.
  • On the other hand, when plants become foodstuffs to a large extent — when they evolve in such a way that the substances in them become foodstuffs for animal and man, then Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, working via the silicious nature, are concerned in the process. The silicious nature opens the plant-being to the wide spaces of the universe and awakens the senses of the plant-being in such a way as to receive from all quarters of the universe the forces which are moulded by these distant planets. Whenever this occurs, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are playing their part. From the sphere of the Moon, Venus and Mercury, on the other hand, is received all that which makes the plant capable of reproduction.

To begin with, no doubt this appears as a simple piece of information. But truths like this, derived from a somewhat wider horizon, lead of their own accord from knowledge into practice. For we must ask ourselves:

If forces come into the Earth from Moon, Venus and Mercury and become effective in the life of plants, by what means can the process be more or lese quickened or restrained?

By what means can the influences of Moon or Saturn on the life of plants be hindered, and by what means assisted?

1925-GA027 Ch. 14
1925-GA027 Ch. 17

Title: Knowledge of Substance as a Basis for the Knowledge of Medicaments

Anyone who wishes to assess the action of therapeutic substances must have an eye for the effects of forces which arise when a substance is introduced in some way into the human organism, and which shows certain activities external to the latter.

A classic example is to be found in formic acid. It occurs in the body of ants as a corrosive substance causing inflammation. Here, it appears as a product of excretion. The animal organism must produce this in order to carry out its activities appropriately. The life lies in the excretory activity. Once it has been produced, the excretion no longer has a task within the organism. It must be excreted. The being of an organism does not lie in its substances, but in its action. The organization is not a conglomeration of matter, it is an activity. Matter carries in it the stimulus to activity. Once it has lost this stimulus, it has no further meaning for the organization.

In the human organism, too, formic acid is produced. There, however, it has its importance. It serves the I organization.

The astral body separates out parts, which tend to become lifeless, from the organic substance. The I organization needs this transition of organic substance to the lifeless state. But it is the process of transition which it needs, not the result. Once the substance which is on the way to the lifeless state has been produced, it becomes a burden within the organism. It must either be separated out directly, or it must be dissolved in order to be eliminated indirectly.

If something which ought to be dissolved fails to be dissolved, it will accumulate within the organism and may then constitute a foundation for conditions of gout or rheumatism. There, the formic acid as it arises within the human organism can act as a solvent. If the necessary amount of formic acid is produced, the organism will remove those products tending to the lifeless state in the correct manner.

If the force to create formic acid is too weak, rheumatic and gouty conditions arise. By introducing formic acid into the organism from outside, we support it, by giving what it is unable to create for itself.

We learn to recognize such modes of action by comparing one substance with another with respect to the way in which they continue working in the human organism. Take oxalic acid for example. Under certain conditions it turns into formic acid. The actions of the latter represent a metamorphosis of oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is an excretion of the plant, just as formic acid is of the animal. The creation of oxalic acid in the plant-organism is an activity analogous to that of formic acid in the animal, which means that the creation of oxalic acid corresponds to the domain of the etheric, and the creation of formic acid to the domain of the astral.

The diseases which reveal themselves in rheumatic and gouty conditions are to be ascribed to a deficient action of the astral body. There are other conditions which present themselves such that the causes, which in gout and rheumatism stem from the astral organism, lie further back in the etheric organism. In which case there arise, not only congestions of forces towards the astral, which hinder and obstruct the I organization, but also retarding effects in the etheric, which the astral organization is powerless to overcome. These reveal themselves in sluggish activity of the lower abdomen, in slowing of the liver and spleen activity, in stony deposits of gall and the like.

If oxalic acid is given in such cases, the activity of the etheric organism is supported in the appropriate way. Through oxalic acid the etheric body is reinforced; for that force of the I-organization is transformed by this acid into a force of the astral body which then has a strengthened effect on the etheric body.

Starting with such observations, we can learn to recognize the healing effects of various substances on the organism.

  • The study can start with plant life. In the plant, the physical activity is permeated by the etheric. In studying the plant, we learn to recognize how much can be attained by means of etheric activity.
  • In the animal-astral organism, this activity is carried over into the astral. If as etheric activity it is too weak, it can be strengthened by adding to it the etheric activity from a plant-product, introduced into the body.
  • Animal nature forms a basis for the human organism. Hence, it can be considered the same as the animal, within certain limits, where the interplay between the human etheric and astral bodies is concerned.

By the use of therapeutic substances from the plant kingdom, we shall thus be able to remedy a disturbed relationship between the etheric and astral activities.

But such medicaments will not suffice when anything in the physical, etheric and astral organization of Man is disturbed, in connection with interplay with the organization of the I. The I-organization must direct its activity to processes which are tending to become mineral. Therefore, in these conditions of illness, only mineral substances will be useful as remedies. In order to get to know the remedial effects of a mineral, we must discover how far the substance can be broken down, for in the organism the mineral introduced from outside must first be broken down and then built up again in a new form by the body's organic forces. The healing influence must consist in this breaking down and building up process. The outcome of it must lie in the direction that a deficient activity of the organism is taken over by the activity of the medicament given.

Take the case of menorrhagia. Here the power of the I organization is weakened. It is expended one-sidedly in the formation of blood. Too little is left of it for the power to absorb the blood into the organism. The path, which the forces in the organism that incline towards the lifeless realm should take, is unduly shortened because these forces work too violently. They exhaust themselves half-way. We can come to their assistance by administering calcium in some combination to the organism. Calcium cooperates in the production and formation of the blood. The I activity is thus relieved of this sphere and can turn to the absorption of the blood.

1925-GA027 Ch. 19

excerpts of cases where something is said about oxalic acid

For the Melilotus to take effect, it was also necessary to assist the astral body and I-organization, by drawing them together. This we sought to do by the addition of oxalic acid, derived from Radix bardanae. Oxalic acid works in such a way as to transform the activity of the I-organization into that of the astral body. In addition, we gave oral remedies in very diluted doses; with the object of bringing the excretions into a regular connection with the influences of the astral body. We tried to normalise the excretions directed from the head organization by means of potassium sulphate. Those processes that depend upon the metabolic system in the narrower sense of the word, we sought to influence by potassium carbonate.


These perceptions led to the following treatment: we had to pave the way for the ego-organization to the physical and etheric bodies. We did this by compresses with a two per cent Oxalis solution on the forehead in the evening, compresses with a seven per cent solution of Urtica dioica on the lower abdomen in the morning, and compresses with a twenty per cent solution of lime blossom on the feet at midday. The object was, in the first place, to tone down the vital activity during the night; this was brought about by the oxalic salt, which exercises within the organism the function of suppressing an excessive vital activity. In the morning we had to ensure that the ego-organization could find its way into the physical body. This was done by stimulating the circulation. The iron effect of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) was applied for this purpose.

Finally, it was desirable to assist the penetration of the physical body by the I-organization in the course of the day. This was done by the downward drawing action of the lime blossom compresses at midday. We have already referred to the headaches to which the patient had become subject, with their intensification at the forty-sixth year of life.

1925-GA027 Ch. 20



  • seven main minerals: Ca, Cl, Mg, K (potassium), Na (sodium), S (sulphur), P (phosphorus)
  • Earth consisting of felspar, silica, mica
    • felspar: K, Na, Ca * AlxSiyOz
    • mica: X2Y4-6Z8O20(OH,F)4
      • with X: K, Na, Ca (and others)
      • with Y: Al, Mg, Fe
      • with Z: Si, Al
    • silica: quartz Si02/4

Related pages


the human being

References and further reading