Sun and Moon – Reading 3


“Spiritual forces stream down to the earth in the sun’s rays and that which determines the process of expansion in plant growth lives in this inner element of the sunlight. On the other hand all the processes of contraction, where the whole plant growth is drawn together into a point at the transition of the one leaf cluster to the other, and in the formation of the seed – all this is under the influence of the moon forces. And just as we see in the rhythmic interchange of sunshine and moonshine in the cosmos, so do we see the reflection of this in the budding plant which responds to the working of the sun in the expansion of the leaves. We see the moon forces in the phenomena of contraction in the plant. Expansion and contraction in the plant are the reflected image of that which pours down on the earth from cosmic etheric space in the interchange of the forces proceeding from the sun and moon.

Here already the gaze has expanded from the earth to the etheric spaces of the cosmos and we get an impression of how the earth nourishes her forces of fruitfulness and growth from what is flowing from the cosmos. We come to feel how through the plants we can enter into communion with the spirit of the sun and moon.”

R. Steiner, Essentials of Education, Lecture 4, 10 April 1924, CW308


“Consider a plant growing in the soil. If this is the soil and you want to have a plant, you take a tiny seed and put it in the soil. The whole plant, the whole life of the plant is concentrated in this tiny seed. What becomes of the seed? First of all the root. The whole life expands into the root. Then it contracts again and grows in contracted form, becoming a stem. It then expands again and leaves develop. The flower follows. And then it contracts again in the seed which will wait for the following year. We thus have expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction in the plant.

Every time the plant expands it is the sun which draws forth a leaf, for instance. Every time the plant contracts, being either seed or stem, it is the moon which causes the contraction. The moon is thus active there, between the leaves. If we have a plant therefore where the leaves have spread and the root has spread we can say it is first, in the seed, the moon, then the sun, moon again, sun again, moon again, sun and in conclusion moon. We can thus see sun actions alternating with moon actions, powers of sun and powers of moon. Looking at the field full of growing plants all around us we thus see the actions of sun and moon. As I have told you, when the human beings come into the world, the configuration of their physical bodies depends on the moon; their inner powers, the capacity to change themselves, depend on the sun. I spoke of this in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha.

You see, this is something people would have known in the past, but it has been forgotten. People would say to themselves: “When do we have the most powerful activity going on in the spring that enables plants to thrive and grow to be most beneficial for humanity?” “When sun and moon work together in the right way.” This is the case when the full moon sends all its rays to the earth for the first time, supporting the sun’s rays. This is when sun and moon come together and work together most effectively, the sun having its greatest power in the spring and the moon the greatest power every four weeks. Easter thus came on the Sunday dedicated to the sun, after the first full moon in spring. The people who set the date for Easter in the past knew that this was something to be fixed as the beginning of spring after the winter solstice.”

R. Steiner, From Beetroot to Buddhism, Discussion of 12 April 1924, CW353


“As the Druid penetrated into the relationship between what he saw on Earth and what streamed down from the heavens, he saw the whole processes of plant-growth and vegetation quite differently form the way in which they appear to our abstract thought of later days. If we can properly grasp the true quality of the sun, on the one hand the physical rays which enter our eyes, on the other the shadow with its various gradations, we come to realize that the spiritual essence of the sun lives on in the various grades of shadow. The shadow prevents only the physical rays of the sun from reaching other bodies, whereas the spiritual penetrates further. In the cromlechs which I have described to you, a small dark place is separated off. But it is only the physical sunlight which cannot penetrate there; its activity penetrates, and the Druid, as gradually through this activity he came to be permeated by the secret forces of cosmic existence, entered into the secrets of the world. Thus, for instance, the actions of the sun on plants was revealed to him; he could see that a particular kind of plant-life flourishes at a particular time when the sun is active in a particular way. He could trace the spiritual activity of the sun and see how it pours and streams into flower, leaf and root; and it was the same with animals. And while he was thus able inwardly to recognize the activity of the sun he also began to see how other activities from the Cosmos, for example, those of the moon, pour into it. He could see that the effect of the sun was to promote sprouting growth, with an upward tendency, and so he knew that is a plant as it grows out from the soil were exposed only to the sun, it would grow unendingly. The sun brings forth burgeoning, luxuriant life. If this life is checked and reduced to form, if leaves, blossom, seed and fruit assume a specific shape, if what strives towards the infinite is variously limited — all this has its origin in the activities of the moon. And these are to be found not only in the reflected light of the sun, for the moon reflects all influences, and these in their turn can be seen in the growth of the plant out of its root and also in what lives in the propagation of animals, and so on.

Let us take a particular instance. The Druid observed the growing plant; he observed in a more living way what, later on, Goethe observed more abstractly in his idea of metamorphosis. The Druid saw the downward streaming sun-forces, but he saw also the reflected sun-forces in everything that gives the plant its form. In his natural science he saw the combined activity of sun and moon on the root, which is wholly within the Earth and has the function of absorbing the salts of the Earth in a particular way. He could see that the action of sun and moon was quite different on the leaf, which, wrests itself out of the Earth and presses forward into the air. Again, he saw a different action on the flower, which pushes onwards to the light of the sun. He could see as a unity the activity of the Earth; to him, plant-growth and the being of the animal were also a unity.”

R. Steiner, Man in the past, the present and the future, Lecture 1, 14 September 1923, CW228