Sun Forces in the Winter Earth – Reading 2


“I want you now to follow me in a brief line of thought. I give it merely by way of example, but it will show you the path that must be followed. Take the annual plant which grows out of the earth in spring and passes through its yearly cycle. And now relate the phenomena which you observe in the annual plant with other things — above all with the custom of peasants who, when they want to keep their potatoes through the winter, dig pits of a certain depth and put the potatoes into them so that they may keep for the following year. If the potatoes were kept in an ordinary open cellar, they would not be fit to eat. Investigations have proved that the forces originating from the interplay between the sunshine and the earth are contained within the earth during the subsequent winter months. The dynamic forces of warmth and the forces of the light are at work under the surface of the earth during the winter, so that in winter the after-effects of summer are contained within the earth. The summer itself is around us, above the surface of the Earth. In winter, the after-effects of summer work under the earth’s surface. And the consequence is that the plant, growing out of the earth in its yearly cycle, is impelled to grow, first and foremost, by the forces that have been poured into the earth by the sun of the previous year. The plant derives its dynamic force from the soil. This dynamic force that is drawn out of the soil can be traced up into the ovary and on into the developing seed. So you see, we arrive at a botany which really corresponds to the whole physiological process, only if we do not confine ourselves to a study of the dynamic forces of warmth and light during the year when the plant grows. We must take our start from the root, and so from the dynamic forces of light and warmth of at least the year before. These forces can be traced right up into the ovary, so that in the ovary we have something that really is brought into being by the forces of the previous year.

Now examine the leaves of a plant, and, still more, the petals. You will find that in the leaves there is a compromise between the dynamic forces of the previous year and those of the present year. The leaves contain the elements that are thrust out from the earth and those which work in from the environment. It is in the petals that the forces of the present year are represented in their purest form. The colouring and so forth of the petals represents nothing that is old — it all comes from the present year.

You cannot follow the processes in an annual plant if you take only the immediate conditions into consideration. Examine the structural formations which follow one another in two consecutive years — all that the sun imparts to the earth, however, has a much longer life. Make a series of experiments into the way in which the plants continue to be relished by creatures such as the grub of the cockchafer, and you will realise that what you first thought to be an element belonging to the present year must be related to the sun-forces of the previous year. — You know what a prolonged larval stage the cockchafer passes through, devouring the plant with relish all the time.

These matters must be the subject of exact research; only the guiding principles can be given from the spiritual world. Research will show that the nature of the substances in the petals and leaves, for instance, is essentially different from that of the substances in the root or even the seed. There is a great difference between a decoction prepared from the petals or leaves of plants and an extract of substances found in roots or seeds. The effect of a decoction prepared from petals or leaves upon the digestive system is quite different from that of an extract prepared from roots or seeds. In this way you relate the organisation of man to the surrounding world, and all that you discover can be verified in a purely material sense. You will find, for instance, that disturbances in the process of the transition of the chyle into the etheric organisation, which is brought about by the system of heart and lungs, will be influenced by a preparation decocted from the petals of plants. An extract of roots or seeds influences the wider activity that works on into the vascular system and even into the nervous system. Along these lines we shall discover the rational connection between what is going on within the human organism and the substances from which our store of remedies may be derived.”

R. Steiner, Fundamentals of Anthroposophical Medicine, Lecture 2, 27 October, 1922, CW314