Plant between Animal and Mineral Natures – Reading 1


“But the process of plant formation is not a process which can be regarded only as a result of the physical action of the earth or of the counteracting forces of light. It goes further than that: just as the plant in very truth contains both the physical and etheric bodies in itself so also in the upper region where the extra-telluric sphere and the earth sphere meet, there is, connected with that vegetable nature, a cosmic-astral principle. We might express it thus: the plant grows and tends towards a formative animal process which it, however, does not attain. The interior of the earth is so to speak saturated with the formative plant process, but where the atmosphere meets earth there is also a pervading formative animal process which is not carried to its end, a process which the plant grows towards but fails to reach. This process we may behold in action, weaving as it were above the blossoming vegetation, and we may be aware that it encircles the whole earth. This process is centralised in the animal itself, where it is interiorised. The process which takes place weaving above the flowering plant world and which forms a circle around the earth sphere is centred in the animal itself and is removed into its interior; and the organs which the animal possesses and the plant lacks are simply what they require in order to unfold from a centre an effect that is exercised from without towards the plant.”

R. Steiner, Spiritual Science and Medicine, Lecture 15, 4 April 1920, CW312


“Consider the stratum of plant life that covers the earth’s soil, i.e. the entire content of vegetation. We must understand that this flora which grows outwards from the soil towards cosmic space, is not only sent out from the earth, but is also drawn outwards by forces that are in continuous operation, and as essential to the growth of plants as the forces working from the earth itself. There is a constant interaction between the forces passing into the plant from the earth, and those acting on the plant from the cosmos outside the earth. What is the essential factor in this interaction that permeates our whole environment? Should these cosmic forces attain their full expression and take full possession of the plant, and should the planets not ensure that these forces can withdraw again, then the plant in its growth from the stalk to the blossom and seed would have the perpetual tendency to become animal. There is a tendency towards animalisation. But this tendency, which expresses Cosmic forces passing into the plant, is counteracted and balanced by the opposite tendency towards suppression of the plant-nature in mineralisation.

would thus emphasise the essential nature of plants: it holds the balance between the tendency to salification, to the deposit of mineral constituents within the vegetable substance, i.e., to mineralisation; and on the other hand to self-ignition, to animalisation. This is what is perpetually at work in external nature.”

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