The Plant Ego


“When the clairvoyant examines a plant he finds that the part visible in the physical world is nothing but a combination of the physical and etheric bodies of the plant. Imagine the surface of the earth on which plants grow, picture the root of a plant, the stem, the leaves, and flowers. That which grows has not in the physical world, like man, a physical body, an etheric body, astral body, and ego, but only a physical and etheric body. We must not conclude from this that the astrality with which we are filled, and which is active also in animals, is not active in the plant. To the opened eyes of the clairvoyant the plant is surrounded by a glow, and this comes from astral substances. It is this also which cooperates in the development of the flower. While the plant grows from leaf to leaf through the influence of the etheric body its growth terminates above in a flower through being surrounded by astral substance.

The clairvoyant sees every growing plant thus surrounded by astral substance, but there is something else connected with the plant, namely its ego. If we wish to locate the ego of a plant we must seek it in the centre of the earth. There the ego of all plants is to be found; this is an important and essential truth. Whereas we see the egos of animals in the circumference of the earth, we must turn to the centre of the earth for the egos of plants. In fact, when clairvoyant vision has attained to such a view of the plant creation the earth, which otherwise confronts man merely as a material structure, expands to an organism having its ego in the centre; this ego includes all plant egos.

The earth is ensouled by an ego and in the same way as your head is covered with hairs which grow from out your being, so plants grow from out the being of the earth, and belong to the whole organism of the earth. When one tears a plant up by the roots it hurts the whole earth, the soul of the plant experiences pain. This is a fact. On the other hand one should not think that the earth feels pain when a flower is plucked; exactly the reverse is the case. For example, when in autumn a reaper cuts corn the clairvoyant sees great currents of a feeling of well-being pass over the earth. Objections to this from the moral standpoint do not hold good. One might for example ask: Is it then a more trifling sin when a child plucks all sorts of plants uselessly than when a man transplants one carefully and with good intention? The fact remains the same: If a plant is uprooted the earth feels pain; if a plant is cut the earth feels pleasure. For the earth has pleasure in yielding up what it bears on its surface; also when animals pass over the earth grazing upon its plants the earth has a sensation of pleasure; much the same as a cow has when her calf draws milk. This is an absolutely occult fact. The sensation of the earth when plants spring from it and are beamed upon by the astral body is the same as that of animals when they yield their milk. These are not merely comparisons, but are actual facts. Anyone who with clairvoyant vision can see into the astral world still sees nothing of the ego of plants; to do this a higher clairvoyance is required, that by which it is possible to see into the devachanic world.”

R. Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man, Lecture 2, 6 August 1908, CW105