Light and Weight – Reading 2


“Look at a growing plant, for instance. Follow the growth of its stem upward from the earth’s surface, and the growth of its root downward. Right there are two opposite tendencies within the plant: a striving upward and a striving downward. And if today we were far enough along in scientific research — so often used for less important matters — to use it for such a thing as the growth of a stem upward and the growth of a root downward, we would find the connections in the universe that would then finally explain the totality: humanity and the world, microcosm and macrocosm. For we would find that everything connected with the stem’s upward growth has some relation to the unfolding of the sun’s forces in the course of the day, in the course of the year, even beyond the year. And we would find that everything connected with the root’s downward growth has some relation to the moon’s forces and the moon’s changes. If therefore we look at a plant properly, we already come to see through its form a relation between sun and moon. We have, so to speak, to extract the simple image of a plant from the whole universe, from all the forces in the universe.

Someone who is really observant will never see the root other than striving downward into the earth and at the same time rounding itself. The root rounding itself into the earth — that is the picture of the root that one must have, the rounding form pushing into the ground. We must see the stem differently as it unfolds in an upward direction. Someone who combines sensitivity with observation will have the definite feeling that the stem strives to stream out as a line. The root wants to unfold in a rounding, circular direction; the stem wants to unfold in a linear direction. That is the archetypal form of the plant. And in the linear striving upward we must see the presence of sun forces on the earth. In the root’s striving toward roundness we must see the presence of moon forces on the earth.

Now let us look further. We think of the sun as being at a great height and of the plant as streaming to reach it. But the plant does more than just reach upward; it reaches out in width, it creates peripheries. And we find within its upward striving that something else is active, at first just at its top in the blossoms we find the forces of Venus working with the sun forces. Then as blossoms unfold below, as leaves come, moving inward from the periphery, we find the forces of Mercury working. On the one hand if we want to understand the structure of the plant as it pushes toward the Sun, we must see that the sun forces are helped by the forces of Venus and Mercury.

On the other hand we must realize that these forces alone would not be able to form the plant. With them alone, the plant-being would in a certain sense only attain a compact, solid form. For it to unfold as one sees it, for instance, in the most extreme example in a tree, there are forces working everywhere counter to the Venus and Mercury forces: namely, the forces of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Thus in addition to the basic polarity of sun activity and moon activity, there is also the activity of all the other planets in the universe.

In the plant you have the entire planetary system in front of you. It is right there on the earth. And perhaps it is not so ridiculous that a scholar — a half or three-quarters scholar as Paracelsus was — made such a statement as this: “When you eat a plant you’re eating the entire planetary system. For all those forces are contained in it.” Paracelsus said it like this: With the plant you eat the whole heaven.” The world is indeed formed in such manifold variety that one does have in one’s immediate environment the forces of the entire macrocosm — in growth, in structure, in the disposition of all living things.”

R. Steiner, Pastoral Medicine, Lecture 8, 15 September 1924, CW318