Sun Forces in the Winter Earth – Reading 1
“Towards the end of summer, the forces of the sun gradually extend down into the earth and are stored there. If you dig down in January, the warmth and all the other forces are still down there, five feet below the surface.
This is a remarkable thing. In summer, the sun is up there and gives warmth from outside. In winter, its forces extend a certain distance into the earth, and from there they stream back up again. If you were a potato stored down there, you would feel quite comfortable; you would not have to worry about heating, because, first of all, there would still be the warmth of summer around you and, secondly, the sun forces would radiate up from down below. These potatoes have a good time of it. In a way, they get to enjoy the sun now. In summer, they did not enjoy it much; it even caused they some discomfort. If they were creatures with heads, they would have had a headache from the sun. But if they are granted the privilege of being buried in the earth, the potatoes can really luxuriate in the pleasures the sun now provides.
From this you can gather that the sun affects life not only while it is shining directly on something, but also when its forces have been absorbed and retained somewhere.
Now, gentlemen, something peculiar happens. Remember I told you that when a being or substance is outside the earth it has a destructive effect; it is either poisonous like carbon dioxide in our earlier example or it produces scales and hardnesses like the sun. However, in winter the sun does not work on us from the outside. It works from the inside the earth where its forces are stored. There it regenerates also the reproductive forces, which in our time also come from the sun, not from direct radiation but from what is reflected by the earth during winter.
This is very interesting. Similarly, if we inhale carbon dioxide, it is poisonous. But we need it in the form that is inside the body. Without it we would not have any carbon, and without carbon we would not have any structure in our bodies. We need carbon dioxide inside us, where it is beneficial. But approaching us from outside, it is poisonous. The sun’s rays coming from the outside produce shells in animals. But if the sun’s rays are caught and reflected from inside the earth, then they produce life and enable animals to reproduce.
…Let us now look at plants. You know that some plants propagate through so-called cuttings. When these particular plants grow up, you can cut off a twig in the proper way and put this cutting into the soil, where it will grow as a separate plant. Certain plants can propagate this way. How is this possible? They can form independent life out of such a piece of themselves, because their seeds are in the earth in winter. This is indeed a very important aspect for plants. If you want them to grow properly, they must actually remain in the earth throughout the winter, so that they can emerge from it. Of course, there is also summer grain, but we can talk about that some other time. Most plants can grow only when they develop their seeds in the earth. Some bulbs can also grow in water, but that requires special measures. Most plants need to be placed into the earth where they can develop their growth forces.
What happens when a seed is put into the soil? The tiny grain now has the pleasure of absorbing forces the sun has radiated into the earth. This is more difficult for animals. Those that live in the soil, such as earthworms, easily absorb the sun forces there. This is why all animals in the soil or close to it reproduce their own kind very quickly. This is true of worms in general, and particularly of those that unfortunately enter the human intestines. They propagate extremely fast, and we must constantly make great efforts to hold them in check; sometimes this requires nearly all our life forces.
Plants can grow directly out of the soil. They have roots below, through which they push up. They develop leaves, then blossoms, and finally new seeds. However, as you know very well gentlemen, once a plant develops blossoms, it no longer grows upwards. This is very interesting. Its seed is placed in the soil, from where is develops leaves and blossoms. Then the growing process stops, and the plant quickly produces seeds. If it didn’t do it right away, the sun’s forces would reach only the petals, which are of course infertile. The plant would develop a huge, beautiful blossom of many colours, but there would be no seed. This is why at this stage the plant hurries to produce seed while there is time.
You see, the sun has the ability to make plants pretty when its rays reach them from outside. Flowers in the fields, for instance, receive their beautiful colours from the rays of the sun shining on them from above. However, just as the sun dries up and compacts part of the oyster into the shell, so it would eventually dry up and destroy the plants.
You can see this effect of the sun everywhere on the earth, especially in the hot regions near the Equator. There you will come upon birds of marvelous colour flying around. They are pretty because of the sun in the sky. Their feathers are all beautifully coloured, yet completely devoid of life forces. More than anywhere else, the life forces have withered away in the feathers.
The same thing holds true for plants. While they grow out of the soil, they overflow with vitality, which gradually fades away. Finally, they must gather up all of their remaining energy and focus it on the seeds. You see, the sun produces beautiful leaves and colourful blossoms, but in the process destroys the plants. The pretty blossoms do not contain any reproductive energy whatsoever.
What do plants do when you put their seeds into the earth? They do not simply cuddle into the sun-warmed soil, but extend their growth forces to the leaves; they extend them upwards. These green portions are developed by sun forces, by warmth, light and so forth. This is how the sun-forces the plants get from the seeds move upwards. The sun-forces reaching the plants from the outside, however, will destroy them in the process of creating very beautiful blossoms. The seeds have their vitality from last year’s sun warmth, which was stored up for them all winter long. The seeds do not come from this year’s sun; that is an illusion. This year’s sun creates beautiful blossoms. But the seeds contain last year’s sun forces, which were poured into the earth and which sustain the entire growth of the plant.
This would not be quite so easy for animals, which depend more on the sun’s warmth reaching them from the outside, from the earth, and renewing them. This is because animals do not absorb the sun forces as directly as plants do; the latter, as we have seen, also bear in their bodies and their seeds the sun’s warmth from the previous summer, warmth that had been stored in the earth.
This is a marvelously interesting phenomenon. If we look at it in the right way, we can say that plants and animals can propagate only through the effects of the sun. Yet the sun up there in the sky, away from the earth, is the very factor that destroys the reproductive capacity. This is just like in the case of carbon dioxide. If we inhale it, it will kill us. But if we carry it around inside us, it will enliven us. When the earth absorbs the sun’s rays shining in from outside, plants and animals are destroyed. However, when the earth can reflect back the stored sun-forces to its plants and animals from the inside, they are enlivened and stimulated to procreate. We can see this in plants; they produce seeds capable of reproduction only out of the sun-forces stored since the previous summer. The forces that make the new plant beautiful come from this year’s sun. This is generally true: inner qualities grow out of the past, but beauty is created in the present.”
R. Steiner, From Crystals to Crocodiles, 27 September 1922, CW347