Astrality around the Flower – Reading 1
“Let us look again at the plant, how its physical body emerges and grows, how the glow of the astral body surrounds its top and how its ego is at the centre of the earth. Let me point out once more what is essential about this matter. What is this astral body really doing when it envelops the flower from without? It does something significant for the life of the plant, and we shall understand this if we look more deeply still into the spiritual structure of our earthly existence.
In the last lecture we learnt that there was a time when the earth and the sun formed one body. Man was already there, though living under entirely different conditions from those of today. He possessed a dim clairvoyant consciousness; and his organism was such that he could live in that earth-sun substance. Today he is so organized that, when a sunbeam falls on his eye he “sees,” that is, he sees the sunbeam which penetrates to him from outside, and he sees by means of this sunbeam. This was not the case at the time when man was still one with the earth, in the sun. He then saw the sunbeams from within; he saw the soul-forces which permeated the sunbeams. What were these soul-forces? The forces permeating the sunbeams are the same as the forces within our astral bodies. Physical light is but the external body of the astral light which radiates from the sun, and the astrality gleaming about the upper part of the body of a plant is connected inwardly with the astral outpourings coming from the sun. You have wishes and impulses of will, because you possess an astral body in the case of plants it is desire, feeling, and will that play round the blossoms.
What does that which plays round the plant desire? It desires to absorb the soul of the sunbeam, and with the soul its purest part — its ego; and it is a continuation of the sunbeam that passes through the plant to the centre of the earth. The activity of the plant’s ego comes to expression in this action of the sunbeam’s spiritual content as it passes through the plant to the centre of the earth. Thus spirit, plant, and sun work together. The spiritual forces of the sun are, indeed, constantly brought to the earth. And by what means? By means of the astrality playing around the blossoms of the plants, the astrality which yearns for the soul element of the sunbeam, absorbs it and passes it downwards through the plant’s body into the earth. What is brought about externally in the physical world through the sun’s rays is only one side of its activity; the other is what goes on in the soul of the plant, which longs for the soul of the light streaming towards the earth in the rays of the sun.
Let us now try to understand the practical result of these things. Imagine a man of the distant future who perceives in each plant this ardent desire to absorb the soul-power of the sun. Such a man will possess, at a higher spiritual level, something that the animal has at a lower level when, grazing in a meadow, it chooses the plants which are suitable for it and ignores the rest. An unconscious instinct, but reality it is higher spirits, which guides the animal. The man of the future will approach plants which are suitable for him in a conscious manner; not, as now, when he considers which provide the best substances for his body. He will then stand in a living relationship to each plant, for he will know what they have absorbed also passes from them to him. Eating will not be for him a lowly activity, but an act consummated with soul and spirit, for he will know that what he eats is the external form of something spiritual. In our immediate age, when men know little about the living soul-relationships between themselves and the world, all kinds of substitutes are made use of. Why have the Initiates of all ages urged people to say grace before eating? The grace should be a token of the recognition that, together with the food, something spiritual enters into man.”
R. Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man, Lecture 3, 6 August 1908, CW105