Forces that work from the head in childhood – Reading 1


“When we study human growth and development beginning with childhood, we discover that the head, as the part of the organism whose entire structure demonstrates its ossifying tendencies, constantly radiates forces that shape the skeleton and exert a hardening or stiffening effect on the entire human constitution. We gradually come to understand the tasks of the I and astral body with regard to the human head: the forces that cause internal hardening and the development of the solid parts out of more fluid structures radiate primarily from the head.”

R. Steiner, The Healing Process, Lecture 9, 24 July 1924, CW319


“Now we spoke yesterday of how far the formation of the head takes part in individual human evolution, how far the shape, the form of the human body proceeds from the forces which are to be found in the head. And we saw how the work of the head reaches a kind of conclusion with the change of teeth towards the seventh year. We should make clear to ourselves what really happens through the interplay between the human head, the chest organs and the limb organs. We should answer the question: what does the head really do in carrying out its work in connection with the chest-trunk system and the limb-system? It is continually forming, shaping. Our life really consists in this, that in the first seven years an intense forming force streams from the head right down into the physical form; and the head continues its aid by preserving the form, by ensouling it, by spiritualising it.”

R. Steiner, The Study of Man, Lecture 12, 3 September 1919, CW293


“Actually the child “thinks” very much more than does the adult. This may sound strange but it is true; only, the thoughts of the child are not conscious thoughts, they are absorbed into the organism, manifesting in its growth and formation. Especially in the earliest years of life, thinking activity is used mainly for the formative processes of the growing body. Then there comes a stage wherein the body does not need to use up so much of the formative forces, and thus they are, as it were, dammed back, and become the fundamental forces of memory. So memory emerges only when the organism requires less formative force for itself. The forces which supply the organic foundation of memory are the transformed growth forces and formative forces plastically at work at the beginning of life. Everything is fundamentally based on metamorphosis. That which we observe as a spiritual element, is only the re-spiritualisation of what worked in a more bodily way when the spirit incarnated into the material.”

R. Steiner,  Spiritual Science and Medicine Lecture 18, 7 April 1920, CW312


“Now let us take a look at the child. It is like this with a child. When he is born he differs from an adult not only in the way he looks – the cheeks are different, the whole form; the forehead looks different; I think you’ll agree the child looks different. Inside, however, he is even more different. The brain mass is more like a brain mush in the infant. And up to the seventh year, up to the time when the child gets his second teeth, the mush, this brain mush, is made into something truly marvellous. From the seventh year onwards the human brain is quite marvellously structured. The soul, the spirit has done this inside; the element of soul and spirit has done this inside.

But you see gentlemen, we would be unable to shape and develop this brain in such a marvellous way up to our seventh year if we were not all the time in touch with the world. If you have a child who is born blind, for instance, you’ll immediately see that the nerves of vision and with them a whole part of the brain remain a kind of mush. This is not beautifully developed. When someone is born deaf, the nerves of hearing, nerves that come from the ear and cross here [drawing on the board], after which they go over there, remain a piece of brain mush along the way. It is therefore only because we have senses that we are able to develop our brain properly in the first seven years of life.

But the brain does not develop anything for you that you might reach out and touch. You could of course stuff tangible materials up your nose, if you like, and into the brain – you would ruin your brain with this, but it would not lead to anything. All the matter we can reach and touch does not help you to develop the brain in the first seven years. It needs the most subtle forms of matter, like the subtle matter that lives in light, for example. Ether is what is needed.

You see, this is most important. We absorb the ether through all the senses. So what is it that develops all this activity coming from the head? The activity that comes from the head and also extends to the rest of the child’s organism does not come from the physical body. The physical body is not active in the marvellous development of the child’s brain; it is the ether body which is active. The ether body, of which I have told you that we still have it for two or three days after we die, is at work in the child. It makes the human being develop a perfect brain and thus become a thinking human being. We are therefore able to say that the ether body is active in our thinking.”

R. Steiner, From Limestone to Lucifer…Answers to Questions, Discussion 6, 4 April 1923, CW349