The Agriculture Course
12 June 1924, Koberwitz
As you have seen, the methods of Spiritual Science seek in agricultural as in other matters for a comprehensive vision over a wide range, of the character and activity of spirit in Nature whereas a materialistically inclined science has entered more and more into small units and restricted spheres. Even if in agriculture the units concerned are not always of microscopic order as in some of the other sciences, yet agriculture usually concerns itself with the workings within restricted spheres and with what can be inferred from these limited observations, but the world in which man and other earthly creatures live can by no means be judged from a narrow standpoint. To adopt this standpoint as is done by contemporary science in relation to agriculture is, in view of the real facts of the case, rather like attempting to gain knowledge of the whole being of man by observing his little finger and the tip of his ear, and trying to reconstruct the whole from these two features. We must oppose to this — and never was the task more necessary than today — a real science which will go out in search of the wide range of cosmic relationships. How greatly the scientific ideas current today or, at any rate, a few years ago, stand in need of correction, can be seen from the absurdities which not so very long ago prevailed in the matter of human nutrition. Everything was very scientific — it was all scientifically proved and no objection could be taken to any of the facts adduced. It was taken as scientifically proved that a man weighing from 70 to 75 kilograms required about 120 grammes of protein a day. This was regarded as scientifically established. Today no man of science would give credence to such a proposition. Everyone knows nowadays that 120 grammes of protein are not only not necessary but would actually be harmful, and that man is at his healthiest when he is taking about 50 grammes a day. In this case, science has corrected itself. It is known today that if too much albumen or protein is consumed, it produces poisonous by-products in the intestines. If we examine not only the particular periods in the man's life when albumen is administered to him but his life as a whole, It will be found that the hardening of the arteries (arterio-sclerosis) which takes place in old age can be attributed primarily to the poisonous effects of overdoses of albumen. Scientific investigations of man, for example, often go wrong because they only take account of the moment. A normal human life lasts longer than ten years and the harmful effects of the seemingly beneficial causes which they seek to promote often do not emerge for a long time. Spiritual Science is less likely to fall into such an error. It is true, I do not wish to echo the facile criticism so often levelled at science today on account of such rectifications as I have just exemplified. I can see quite well that this rectification was necessary. But on the other hand, it is equally facile to fall upon Spiritual Science when it seeks to enter practical life, because it is obliged to lay stress upon the larger connections of life, and because its eyes are open to those more attenuated forces and substances which play into the spiritual, and not merely to the coarser forces and substances of matter.
This applies in every respect to agriculture and particularly to the question of manuring. Now the very phrases used by scientists in dealing with this question show how little they understand of the significance of manure in the economy of Nature. A phrase very often used is: “The manure contains the nourishment for the plant.” I mentioned the subject of nutrition earlier just to show you how science has of late been obliged to review its own position on the subject of human nutrition. Science had to correct its own errors because it started with an erroneous view of the nutrition of anything living.
The old view was, if I may express myself quite freely — I hope you will not be offended — that the most important thing about nutrition was what one ate every day. It is quite true that what one eats is important, but the greater part of it is not there for the purpose of being taken into the body and deposited there as substance. This greater part has to give over to the body the forces which it contains in itself and thus stimulate the body into activity. The greater part of what is taken up as substance in this way is eliminated again from the body. What matters, therefore, is not whether a certain weight of matter in certain proportions undergoes digestion, but whether we are able to take up in the right way, with the food we eat, the active forces therein. For we need these active forces when we walk or work, or even more when we use our arms. On the other hand, that which the body needs in order to fill up, to enrich itself, as it were, with substance (the substance being continually discarded and renewed during the course of every seven or eight years) is absorbed for the most part through the sense-organs, the skin and the breathing in a highly-attenuated state and only becomes densified in the organism. The body absorbs it from the atmosphere, densifies and hardens it, so that for instance it can be cut off as hair and nails. The schematic formulation: “Food taken in, passage through the body, wearing away of the nails, peeling of the skin, etc.” is quite wrong. It should run: “Breathing, highly-rarefied absorption through the sense-organs (even through the eyes), passage through the organism, excretion.” What is absorbed through the digestion on the other hand becomes important because its “inner mobility” (Regsamkeit) is set free, just as when fuel is burned. It introduces into the body those forces which open the way for the will to act in the body.
Now it really makes one despair when, in face of this truth, which is the simple outcome of spiritual investigation, one sees the attitude adopted by modern science which maintains precisely the opposite view. One is tempted to despair because it makes one see how difficult it is to find any meeting-ground whatsoever with modern science on all the most important subjects. Yet such an understanding will have to come, otherwise where its views were applied to practical life science would simply lead us into a blind alley. For science is unable to understand certain things even when they are under its very nose. I am not speaking of the experimental side of science. What science says here is, as a rule, true. The experiments have a definite value, it is the theorising about them which is bad. And it is unfortunately on these theories that suggestions for practical application are based. All this makes one realise the difficulty of finding a meeting-ground. However, an understanding will have to be reached and in the most practical spheres of life, among which we must reckon Agriculture.
If these things are to be rightly handled, it is necessary to gain insight into the mode of activity of substances, and forces, the dynamic and of the spiritual too in every part of agriculture. A child who does not know what a comb is for will bite into it or otherwise misuse it. In the same way, we shall make quite a wrong use of things if we do not understand their essential being and their specific functions.
To make the matter clearer, let us take the case of a tree. A tree is different from an ordinary annual plant which remains at the merely herbaceous stage. It surrounds itself with rind and bark, etc. What then is the fundamental nature of the tree as opposed to that of an annual plant? In order to answer this question, let us compare the tree to a mound of soil which has been piled up and is exceptionally rich in humus, i.e. which contains an exceptionally large quantity of more or less decomposed vegetable matter, and includes perhaps some decomposing animal matter as well (See Diagram No.7).
Let us assume that this is the mound of soil, rich in humus, and I will make in it a crater-like depression; and let us take this (indicated in the second part of the drawing) as the tree, the more or less solid part being outside, while inside grows that which goes to build up the tree as a whole. It may strike you as strange that I should place these two things side by side, but they are more closely related than you may perhaps think. The reason is that soil such as I have described, soil containing plenty of humus, i.e. substances in course of decomposition, bears etheric life within it. And this is the point. When soil is so constituted as to have etheric life within it, it is on its way to becoming the outside covering of the plant, but does not in fact develop so far as to become bark. Now imagine (although, of course, this does not happen in Nature) that such a mound of soil, with its humus content has, by means of its etheric life, raised itself to a higher form of development and wrapped itself round the plant. For if any part of the earth is raised above the general level, if the outer separates itself from the inner, then that which is raised above the normal level will show a definite tendency to life, a distinct tendency to be penetrated with etheric life. This is why, if you want to make inorganic soil more-fertile by mixing it with humus-like substance or with any sort of decomposing refuse, you will find it easier to do so successfully if the soil is heaped up into mounds. For then the soil itself will have the tendency to become inwardly alive and plant-like. The same process takes place in the formation of a tree. The soil bulges upwards, as it were, and surrounds the plant with its own etheric life. Why do I say this? The reason is that I wish to waken your consciousness to the fact that there is an intimate kinship between what is enclosed within the contours of the plant and that which comprises the soil round the plant. It is untrue that the life of the plant stops short at its outer sphere. The actual life is continued, particularly from the roots, into the soil and in many cases, there is no sharp boundary between the life within the plant and that in its immediate environment. In order to have a fundamental understanding of a soil which is manured or similarly treated, one must know that manuring consists in a vivifying of the soil so that the plant may not be planted in dead soil. A plant will more easily develop from its own vitality what is necessary for fruit formation if it is planted in something already alive. Fundamentally all plant growth is slightly parasitic in character; it grows like a parasite on the living earth. And it must be so. In many parts of the earth we cannot rely on Nature herself to supply a sufficient quantity of waste organic matter to enable the soil adequately to revivify itself by decomposition of such matter. In those places, therefore, we must assist the growth of plants with manure. This necessity, however, arises least of all in districts containing so-called “black soil,” for here Nature herself has seen to it that the soil is sufficiently alive.
You will see from all this what is really happening; but there is something further which must “be understood. One must learn — and this may not always be pleasant — to enter into a personal relationship with everything that comes within the sphere of Agriculture, and particularly with the work connected with manure and manuring. The job may seem to be an unpleasant one, but you cannot do without this personal relationship. Why? Well, if you consider the nature of any living being, you will find the reason. Every living being always has an inner and an outer aide. The inner side is inside some kind of skin, the outer side is outside that skin. Let us begin with the inner side.
The inner side of every living thing has. not only streams of force which go outwards in the direction shown by these lines (see Diagram 8) but it also has streams of force which go inwards from the skin, which are pressed back. Now an organism is surrounded on the outside by streams of all kinds of forces. There is something which expresses very exactly although in a “personal” way the relationship which must be established by the organism between its inner and outer side. All the forces working inside the skin, all that stimulates and maintains life, must — pardon the phrase — inwardly smell, must have an inward stench. Taken as a whole, life itself consists in this that what is generally diffused as a scent is instead held together so that the scent is kept inside and does not stream outwards too strongly. An organism must therefore allow as little as possible of its scent-producing life to escape outwards through its skin. Indeed, one might say that the healthier an organism, the more it will smell inwardly and the less it will smell outwardly. A living organism and particularly the plant organism (apart from the flower) is designed not to give out scent but to take it in. And if we consider the beneficial influences on a meadow full of fragrant aromatic flowers, we shall begin to notice how living things mutually support one another in Nature. This fragrance of flowers which is diffused and which is something different from the odour of mere life, issues from sources of which we shall become aware later, and it acts on the plants from outside. One must enter into a personal, living relation to all these things, only then are we really one with Nature.
Now the main thing to understand is that manuring and the like must consist not only in conveying a certain degree of aliveness to the soil, but also in enabling the nitrogen to spread through it, in such a way that with its help the life is carried along certain lines of force as I showed yesterday. In manuring, therefore, we must bring sufficient nitrogen into the soil to enable the life to be borne into the organic structure of the soil which is to bear the plant. This is the task, but it must be carried out exactly and properly.
Now here is a very significant hint: when purely mineral matter is used for manure, it never reaches the earth element, but at best only the water element in the soil. You can produce with mineral manures an effect in the watery part of the earth, but you will not achieve a vivification of the earth element itself. Plants, therefore, which are under the influence of any sort of mineral manure will exhibit a type of growth which betrays that it comes from water which has been activated, not from the solid element which has been vivified. The best way to approach these things will be to take the most unassuming and often despised kind of manure, viz. compost. Here we have a means of vivifying the soil. We include in compost all kinds of neglected refuse from farm or garden, mown grass, fallen leaves, and the like, nay, even to the remains of dead beasts, etc. These things should by no means be despised, for they retain something not only of the. etheric but even of the astral elements. And that is important. In a compost heap, all contained in it is actually pervaded not only by living and etheric but also by astral elements. These are present to a lesser degree in solid or liquid animal manure, but they are more stable, more settled — especially the astral element only we must make use of this stable or settled character in the right way. The action of the astral element upon nitrogen is hindered wherever the etheric element is too ebullient. A too powerful sprouting of the etheric life hampers the astral element in the compost heap from doing its work. Now there is in Nature a substance which I have already mentioned from varied angles which is extremely useful in this respect, and that is the chalky or limestone element. If, therefore, some of this — preferably in the form of quicklime — is introduced into the compost heap, we get the following special result: without causing the astral element to “volatilise” as it were too much, the etheric element is taken up by the quick-lime and the oxygen is absorbed as well. In this way, the astral element is brought to a Wonderful activity. This leads to a very definite result: in manuring the soil with compost, we are giving over to it something which has the tendency to carry the astral element directly into the solid element without the detour through the etheric element. In this way, therefore, the earthly element is thoroughly “astralised” and thereby becomes penetrated with nitrogen. This result, indeed, very much resembles a certain process in the human organism — a plant-like process — so plant-like in fact that it does not proceed to fruit formation, but stops at the stage of leaf and stem formation. What we give over to the soil in the compost has its parallel in that process which brings about in the food we eat that “mobility” of which I spoke before (see Page 24). We bring about a similar activity in the soil when we treat it in the manner described. Soil prepared in this way will be especially suitable for producing plants which, when they are eaten by animals, will continue to bring about a similar activity in their organisms. In other words, we shall do well to manure our meadows and pasture lands with this compost, and if we carry through the process carefully, with strict regard for the other proceedings and ingredients, we shall succeed in obtaining good fodder, which, when mown and dried, preserves its quality. I should like to remind you that to take the right steps, one must look into the nature of the whole process, and finding the right thing to do in any particular case will, of course, depend to a great extent upon having the right feeling. This feeling, however, develops, when we look into the whole nature of this compost process. For instance, if the compost heap is left alone the astral element in it will begin to spread in all directions. It will then be a question of developing the right personal relation to the heap in order to find out how it can be made to retain its smell within it. This can easily be done by putting down a thin layer of the compost material and covering it with peat moss, then adding another layer and so on. In this way, we hold together that which would otherwise “volatilise” itself as smell. Nitrogen, indeed, is a substance which in all its modifications is eager to spread out into all directions. And now it is held back. By this I wish to indicate how necessary it is to treat the whole “agricultural-individuality” in the light of the conviction that etheric life and even the astral principle must everywhere be poured out over it to make our work effective.
Now following this trend, we can take a further step. Have you ever wondered why it is that cows have horns, while certain other animals have antlers? It is a very important question. Yet what science has to say about it is quite one-sided and based on externals. Let us consider why cows have horns. I said that the forces within a living organism need not always be directed outwards, but can also be directed inwards. Now imagine an organic entity possessing these two sets of forces, but which is unformed and lumpish in build. The result would be an irregular, ungainly being. We should have curious-looking cows if this were the case. They would all be lumpish and unformed, with rudimentary limbs as at an early embryonic stage. But this is not how a cow is constructed. A cow has horns and hoofs. Now what happens at the points where horns and hoofs grow? At these points an area is formed from which the organic formative forces are reflected inwards in a particularly powerful way. There is no communication with the outside as in the case of the skin or hair; the horny substance blocks the way for these forces to the outside. This is why the growth of horns and claws has such a bearing upon the whole form of the animal.
Things are quite different in the case of antlers. Here the streams of forces are not led back into the organism, but certain of them are guided for a short distance out of the organism! there must be valves, as it were, through which the streams localised in the antlers (we can speak of streams of force, just as we can speak of streams of air or liquid) can be discharged. A stag is beautiful because it stands in intense communication with its environment by reason of its sending outwards streams of certain of its forces; by this it lives within its environment and takes up from it everything which works organically in its nerves and senses. Hence the nervous nature of the stag. In a certain respect, all animals which have antlers are suffused with a gentle nervousness. This is clearly to be seen in their eyes.
The cow has horns in order to reflect inwards the astral and etheric formative forces, which then penetrate right into the metabolic system so that increased activity in the digestive organism arises by reason of this radiation from horns and hoofs. If one wants to understand Foot-and-Mouth disease, i.e. the retro-action from the periphery to the digestive tract, one must know of this connection. Our remedy for Foot-and-Mouth disease is based on the recognition of this. In the horn, therefore, we have something which by its inherent nature is fitted to reflect the living etheric and astral streams into the inner life organs. The horn is something which radiates etheric life and even the astral element. Indeed, if you were able to enter into the cow's belly, you would smell the current of etheric-astral life which streams inwards from the horns: and the same thing is true of the hoofs.
Now this gives us a hint as to the measures we may recommend for increasing the effectiveness of ordinary stable manure. What is ordinary stable manure really? It is foodstuff which the animal has taken in and which up to a certain point has been assimilated by its organism, thereby stirring into activity certain dynamic forces in the organism. Its main use has not been to increase the amount of substance in the organism, for after having had its effect, it is excreted. It has become permeated with astral and etheric elements. The astral element has filled it with nitrogen-bearing forces and the etheric element with oxygen-bearing forces. The substance which emerges as dung is permeated with these forces. Imagine now: we take this substance and pass it into the soil in some form or other (the details will be dealt with later). Thus, we add to the soil an etheric-astral element whose proper place is in the belly of the animal, where it produces forces of a plant-like nature. For the forces which we produce in our digestive tract are of a plant-like nature. We should be extremely thankful that we get such a residue as dung, for it carries etheric and astral forces from the interior of the organism out into the open. These forces remain with it, and it is for us to keep them there. In this way, the dung will act in a life-giving and also astralising way on the soil, not only on the water element in it, but especially on the solid (earthly) element. It has the power to overcome what is inorganic in the earthly element. Now what is passed over to the soil will necessarily, of course, lose the form it originally had when taken in as food, for it has to go through an inner organic process in the metabolic system. There it enters upon a phase of decomposition and dissolution. But it is at its best just at the point where it begins to dissolve through the workings of its own astral and etheric elements. It is then that the parasites, the micro-organisms make their appearance. They find a good feeding-ground in which to develop. This is why the theory arose that these parasites are themselves responsible for the virtues in the manure. But they are only indications of the condition of the manure. If we think that by inoculating the manure with these bacteria we shall radically improve its quality, we are making a complete mistake. Externally there may seem at first to be an improvement, but in reality, there is none. I shall deal with this point later. For the moment, let us continue with the matter in hand.
Let us put manure just as it comes to hand into a cow-horn, pressing it full, and bury it at a certain depth — say 1½ to 2½ feet deep according to the soil, which should not be too sandy or clayey. We can choose any spot where the soil is in good heart. Now by thus burying it with its filling of manure, we preserve in the horn that function which it would normally exercise in the cow's body, that is the reflecting of the life-giving and astral elements. Through the fact of its being surrounded with earth, all the currents of etheric and astral forces stream into its interior. These forces attract all the astral and etheric elements from the surrounding soil, and the manure contained in the horn becomes inwardly quickened with these forces in the course of the winter season when the earth itself is most alive. ®or the earth is most inwardly alive during the winter. All these living forces are preserved in the manure and thus there is a highly concentrated, life-giving manuring force in the contents of the horn. Then (in spring) the horn can be dug up and its contents removed. Those of you who were present at Dornach when last we made this experiment will remember that you were able to convince yourselves of the fact that when the manure was removed it was completely odourless. It was quite striking. The manure no longer smelt at all, though naturally it began to do so a little when it was mixed with water. This shows that all its odour had been concentrated and worked up within it. You have here a tremendous astral and etheric power which you can utilise by taking the content of the cow horn after its period of hibernation and diluting it with water which perhaps should be slightly warmed. As regards quantities and dilution, I have ascertained by repeated observation that an area of about 1500 square yards (near one-third of an acre) can be served with the contents of such a cow horn, diluted in about half a bucket full of water. The whole of the contents of the horn must be thoroughly united with the water. You must begin to stir it briskly round the edge of the bucket, until a crater is formed, in the middle reaching almost down to the bottom. At this point, suddenly reverse the movement thus causing the liquid to swirl round in the opposite direction. If you do this for an hour, the ingredients will become thoroughly mixed. You must remember what a really small amount of work is entailed in this. Besides I can very well imagine that some of the less occupied members of a farming community would derive particular pleasure from stirring manure, at any rate to begin with. It would be splendid work for the son or daughter of the house, for it is a very agreeable experience to find that a faint scent develops from what is at first completely odourless. It is extremely beneficial for a man thus to establish a relationship with the work he is doing, instead of studying Mature in a large way as it were with the help of a Baedeker.
The next thing to do is to spray the mixture over tilled land so that it can get thoroughly into the soil. Small areas can be treated with an ordinary syringe, larger areas will naturally call for the employment of specially constructed machines. But once we have learned to combine this kind of “spiritual dung” with ordinary manure it will be found that very great fertility will be produced. In particular, it will be found that these things are capable of still further development, for in addition to the measures I have gust indicated, we can proceed as follows:
Again, we take a cow-horn and fill it in the same way, not with manure this time, but with quartz or flint or even orthoclase or feldspar that has been ground to powder and mixed with water so as to form a thin paste. Then instead of leaving the horn in the ground throughout the winter, we leave it there over the summer, take it out in late autumn and keep it till the following spring. Its contents, which have been exposed to the. summer-life of the earth, are then emptied out and treated in the same way as has been described in connection with the dry manure, except that much smaller quantities are required. Thus, a pinch of the contents of the horn about the size of a pea or even of a pin's head can be diluted in a bucket of water; the main thing is that it must be stirred for an hour, as before. And if you use this mixture for spraying the plants (not pouring it on to them but finely sprinkling it) you will see, particularly in the case of vegetables and the like, that this has the effect of supplementing and reinforcing that which works out of the soil through the cow horn manure. And if, as would not be amiss, the practice was extended to whole fields — it would be easy enough to devise machines which would sprinkle the liquid over whole fields — then you would see how the cow-horn manure was pressing up from below, the other drawing from above, neither too weakly nor too strongly. And this could have a wonderful effect, particularly on cereals.
Now these things are derived from a wider range of experience than those which result from the point “of view which would seek to construct a whole human being theoretically from his little finger. Let us not underrate the results obtained. For to tell the truth what is generally meant by making a farm productive is to make it as paying a proposition as possible. Nothing else matters very much. Unconsciously at any rate the farmer is always pleased when by some method or other he has achieved big results — big potatoes, outsizes, something inflated and swollen. His research goes no further than this. And yet this is not what matters most. What matters most is that the food which is put before man should be that which is most beneficial to him. You may grow the most splendid looking fruit in field or orchard, but it may only fill a man's stomach and not really benefit his inner organic existence. Modern science simply has not found the way to supply man with the food which will support the life of his organism.
You will see that what Spiritual Science has to say on the subject is very different, for it has for its background the whole economy of Nature. The principles are drawn from out of the whole. That is why the particular indications have a decisive bearing upon the whole. If farming is practised in this way, it cannot but result in giving the best both to man and beast. Indeed, as everywhere in Spiritual Science, the study of man is the starting-point; man is taken as the basis. Thus, practical hints can be given as to how man may best sustain his human nature. This is what distinguishes our way of looking at things from those usual to-day.
QUESTION: Should the dilution be continued in arithmetical progression?
ANSWER: Certain experiments must be made in this connection. The probability is that as the area increases, larger quantities of water and proportionately fewer cow-horns will be required. So that with a comparatively small number of the latter it is possible to fertilise large areas. We had twenty-five cow-horns and these served for a fairly large garden. We took one horn to half a bucket of water. Then we began again with a whole bucket to two horns. For the remaining area, which was somewhat larger we took seven horns to seven buckets.
QUESTION: In stirring the manure for large areas can one use a mechanical stirrer or is this not permitted?
ANSWER: Here, of course, it is a question either of adhering strictly to stirring by hand? or else of gradually slipping into all kinds of substitutes. There is no doubt that stirring by hand is something quite different from mechanical stirring. Prom a mechanistic point of view this would not be conceded, but just consider all the delicate movements, even the sensations that are imparted by the hand, and ask yourselves whether this could be conveyed into the mixture by a mere machine. Not many people believe in this difference, and yet it has been noted in medicine. Believe me, it is not — immaterial whether a medical remedy has been prepared by hand or not. Man imparts something to the things he handles and works upon. I hold this to be particularly true of the Ritter remedies with which some of you are acquainted. As you know, some people are loud in their praises of these remedies while others declare that they have no particular effect. They certainly do produce an effect, but I am firmly convinced that if these medicines were marketed generally in the usual way they would lose something essential from their effect, because it matters very much that the doctor should be in possession of them and hand them directly to the patient. When the act of giving the medicine takes place within this limited circle, the doctor brings to it a certain enthusiasm. Now, you will tell me that enthusiasm carries no weight. True it cannot be weighed. But it vibrates into the remedy. Light acts strongly upon these remedies. Why should not enthusiasm work upon them? The Ritter remedies are particularly powerful in this way. Enthusiasm can do wonders. If. however, the thing is done merely then the effect will gradually wear off. This is the difference “between what emanates from the human hand (and a very great deal emanates from the human hand) and what comes out of a machine. Besides, one could come to find so much enjoyment in stirring this cow horn mixture that after a time one would cease to think about machines for mixing. It should come to be a light and pleasant job for a Sunday afternoon instead of dessert and if you have invited plenty of friends you will get the most splendid results.
QUESTION: The distribution of half a bucket of water over an area of a third of an acre will surely be a little difficult. If the number of cow-horns is increased, the difficulty of handling will be increased not in the same ratio but at a greater rate. This will make the distribution more difficult. Is it permitted to add more water or should the ratio of half a bucket to each cow-horn be retained? Must you take half a bucketful for an area of a third of an acre?
ANSWER: It is possible to do this. But then I think the method of stirring would have to be changed. After stirring one cow-horn in half a bucket of water, you can dilute the mixture with more water, but then you must stir again. I think, however, it would be better to calculate how much less than one cow-hornful is needed for half a bucket of water. The great thing is that the ingredients should be thoroughly mixed, and for this it is not enough simply to pour the mixture into more water. If the mixture is still thick and has not been thoroughly stirred into the water, no real interpenetration can take place. In the case you mention I think it would be better to mix the half bucket of water with less than one cow-hornful.
QUESTION: If the liquid still contains solid parts, could it be strained so as to be more readily distributed with a spray?
ANSWER: I do not think that will be found to be necessary. If properly stirred the mixture will be more or less milky and there will be no need to trouble about the presence in it of any solid particle. It can easily be sprayed. Plain cow manure is the best but I do not /' think one need bother to strain it. The chances are that solid particles that may be present will do no harm and may even do good, since as the result of the concentration and subsequent dilution what works is not the substance itself, but its dynamic radiation. You need not fear that because of a solid particle in the mixture your potato plants will bear long halms with nothing on them.
QUESTION: I was only thinking about the use of the spraying apparatus.
ANSWER: Yes, it can be strained. It will do no harm. One could contrive a filter on the spray.
QUESTION: Should the substance taken from the horn be weighed in order to get at the right proportion? Is the bucket you speak of a Swiss pail [i.e. approximately 9 litres — 2 gallons.]) or a litre measure?
ANSWER: I took a Swiss milking-pail. The whole experiment was carried out with just whatever one had before one at the moment. It should now be worked out in relation to weights and measures.
QUESTION: Can the horns be used several times, or must they always come from freshly slaughtered animals?
ANSWER: We did not put this to the test, but my impression is that they could be used three or four times in succession, but that after that they would not work so well. It-is just possible that under certain circumstances if the horns, after being used for three or four years, were placed for a time in a cow-stable they might serve for another year. But I do not know, however, how many cow-horns one may have at one's disposal on a farm, so I can make no definite pronouncement on the question.
QUESTION: Where can one procure the cow-horns? Should they come from districts in Eastern or in Central Europe?
ANSWER: It does not matter where they come from so long as they are fresh and are not taken from the waste dump. The curious fact remains, however, that — paradoxical though it may sound — life on the western part of the globe is quite different from life on the Eastern part. Life in Europe, Africa and Asia is not the same as life in America. It may therefore be that in certain circumstances, the horns of American cattle need different treatment in order to be effective. The mixture made in these horns might have to be somewhat thicker, more condensed. The best of all is to take horns from the district in which one is working. There is a powerful relation between the forces in the horns taken from a district and the other forces at work in this district. The forces of foreign horns might work against the things in the home soil. It must also be borne in mind that cows which supply the horns very often do not originally come from the district in question. But this difficulty can be got over. If the cow has fed on a particular soil for three or four years, i.e. has lived in it, it belongs to that soil unless it originally came from the West.
QUESTION: How old should the horns be? Should they come from an old or from a young animal?
ANSWER: This is a matter which will have to be ^tested, but my impression is that the best horns are those taken from an animal midway between youth and old age.
QUESTION: How big should the horns be?
ANSWER: (Dr. Steiner drew the size on the blackboard.) About 12 to 16 inches, i.e. the usual size in cattle from the Allgäu district.
QUESTION: Does it matter whether the horn is taken from a castrated ox (bullock) or from a male or female animal?
ANSWER: It is highly probable that with an ox's horn the method would not work at all and that with a bull the effect would be relatively weak. That is why I have always spoken of cows' horns and a cow is generally a female!
QUESTION: What is the best time for sowing cereals?
ANSWER: The answer to this question will come out when I come to the sowing of crops. The time of sowing, of course, plays a very important part, and very different results are obtained according as to whether it takes place at a lesser or a greater distance of time from the winter months. If you sow at a short period of time from the winter months you will get crops with great powers of reproduction, if at a longer distance, you will get crops rich in nutritive value.
QUESTION: Can the cow-horn manure be distributed with sand? Has rain any significance in this connection?
ANSWER: One can certainly use sand. We did not try it, but there is no reason against using it. With regard to the effect of rain, this is something which only further research can establish. We may assume,1 however, that rain produces no change and may even strengthen the effect of the manure. On the other hand, the forces in the preparations are so highly, concentrated that one might easily imagine the impact of a falling rain-drop causing them to be dissipated. The action in question is a very delicate one and all this must be taken into account. There is no objection to spreading the cow-manure with the help of sand.
QUESTION: In storing the cow-horns and their contents, how are harmful influences to be kept away?
ANSWER: As a general rule more harm is done by trying to keep harmful influences away than by leaving them alone. Take for instance the modern craze for disinfecting, which in all spheres has been carried much too far. In the case of our own medical remedies, for example, it was found that if every possibility of their becoming mildewed were to be averted, methods had to be employed which actually reduced the healing power of the remedies. Now I do not pay much regard to these tiny crusts which people consider harmful. They do not do so very much harm. Instead of combating them with methods of drastic cleanliness, it is much better to leave them alone. We used to cover up the horns with pigs' bladders to prevent the earth from getting into them. I do not recommend any special cleaning of the horns. We must, remember that dirt is not always “dirt.” If you cover your face with a fine coating of gold, the gold will be “dirt.” Real dirt on the other hand can sometimes act as a preservative.
QUESTION: Should we take any special measures to strengthen the tendency of the seed to be “driven into chaos?”
ANSWER: One can strengthen it but there is no need to do so, because if seed-formation comes about at all then there is always a maximum of “chaos.” It therefore does not need to be strengthened. Any necessary strengthening must be done to the manure; but it is not necessary for the seed formation. We could, of course, do something by making the soil more siliceous. For it is through silica that the cosmic forces work which have been absorbed into the earth. One could do it in this way, but I do not think that it is necessary.
QUESTION: How large should the areas be on which the experiment is made? Would it be necessary to do something to preserve the cosmic forces until the new plant comes forth?
ANSWER: For these experiments, it is relatively easier to lay down the broad lines to be followed. The actual proportions will have to be worked out in individual cases. In answer to this question I suggest the following experiment. Let us plant two experimental beds with wheat and sainfoin respectively. Then, if silica has been added to the soil, you will be able to observe that the wheat (a plant whose natural and permanent tendency it is to produce seed) is being hampered in its seed formation. In the case of the sainfoin you will also see that the seed formation is either completely suppressed or is retarded. In such “experiments you can always take the effects on the cereal as the basis for comparison with the corresponding effects on sainfoin as representing leguminous plants. In this way, very interesting experiments can be made in seed-formation.
QUESTION: Does it matter how soon the diluted substance is used on the fields?
ANSWER: Indeed it does. The cow-horns can usually be left in the ground till they are wanted, even if this means leaving them all the winter. If, however, they have to be kept on into a part of the summer after they have been there all the winter, we should have to put them into a wooden box padded with peat-moss so as to
retain the strong concentration of the substance. But in no circumstances should any dilution of the preparation be kept in hand. The stirring must take place not very long before it is used.
QUESTION: In dealing with winter crops should one use the horns three months after they have been taken out of the ground?
ANSWER: On the whole, it is best to leave them in the ground until one uses them. If they are to be used in early Autumn, they should be left in the ground till the moment when they are wanted. The. manure will not suffer through this.
QUESTION: Is there no danger that in using a very fine spray the atomising of the liquid will cause the loss of the etheric and astral forces?
ANSWER: By no means. These forces are very closely bound up with tne liquid and in general it may be said that there is less danger of the spiritual escaping from us than the material.
QUESTION: How should the cow-horns containing the mineral preparation be treated when they have been in the ground all through the summer?
ANSWER: It will not hurt them to take them out and keep them wherever you like. So long as they have “summered” in the ground, you can even throw them out in a heap anywhere you like, and even let the sun shine on them. This may even do them good.
QUESTION: Should the horns be buried at the spot which is later on to be manured, or can they be buried all together in any other spot?
ANSWER: It will make so little difference that it is not worth considering. The best way is to choose a spot where the soil is fairly good, i.e. not too mineral in content but having some humus, and bury in one place all the horns that will be needed.
QUESTION: What is your opinion of' the use of machines in farming? Some people say that machines should not be used.
ANSWER: This is a question which cannot be answered from a purely agricultural standpoint. There can be no doubt that in our present social life, conditions being what they are, to ask whether one should use machines is rather out of date. No farmer nowadays can dispense with machines. Of course, not all the activities on a farm are as akin to the most intimate processes of Nature as is the act of stirring which we have been discussing. And just as it would be impossible to obtain this intimate contact by purely mechanical means, so in other matters too Nature sees to it that where machines are unsuitable, one cannot achieve much with them. In seed-formation, for instance, machines cannot help much as this is done by Nature itself. One cannot, of course, do without machines today, but I would point out that in farming there is no need to become “machine mad” and always get the latest machinery. Anyone who does so will probably be far less successful in his farming than if he had gone on using his old machine until it was no longer of any use. These, however, are questions that do not strictly belong only to agriculture.
QUESTION: Can the given quantity of cow horn manure diluted with water be used for half the area for which it was intended?
ANSWER: In that case, you will get a growth which is luxuriant, i.e. the same result which I mentioned before in another connection. In the case of potatoes, for example, the growth would become rank, the stems would spread too far and the tubers would remain small; there would be what are generally known as “rank patches,” if you apply too much of the substance.
QUESTION: What about plants intended for food where a luxuriant growth is wanted, e.g. spinach?
ANSWER: Even in this case I think we should only use the half bucket of water to one cow-horn. We did so for an area which, as it happened, was used as a vegetable garden. This is the optimum. Where larger areas are put under one plant a much smaller proportion (of horn to water) will be required.
QUESTION: Is it immaterial which sort of manure is used, whether from cows, horses or sheep?
ANSWER: For this particular procedure cow-dung is undoubtedly the best. But it is worth enquiring into the question of the use of horse-dung. If one did use horse-dung one would have to wind some hair from the horse's mane around the horns. The horse has no horns, but the force that resides in its mane could be brought into activity in this way.
QUESTION: Should the spraying be carried out before or after the seed is sown?
ANSWER: The right way is to do it before the sowing of the seed. Actually, we are waiting to see what difference it makes, because this year we started rather late and a certain amount was done after the sowing. We shall see, therefore, whether this has any ill-effects. But the obvious thing is to do it before the seed is sown, so as to reach the soil first.
QUESTION: Can the cow-horns used for manure also be used for the mineral preparation?
ANSWER: They can, but not more than three or four times. After that they lose their power.
QUESTION: Does it matter what persons carry out this work, or can it be done by anybody?
ANSWER: That, of course, is a question, though one which will nowadays bring a smile to the lips of many who hear it asked. Let me remind you of the fact that flowers in window-boxes will flourish under the care of some people while with others they wither and die. These are simple facts. These things that are seen to be due to human influence, though they are outwardly inexplicable are yet inwardly clear and transparent. Moreover, they will come about as a result of Meditation — when the human being prepares himself through his meditative life as I explained yesterday. When we meditate we enter into a new relationship with the nitrogen, the substance which contains the “Imaginations.” We enter upon a state in which such things can become operative; upon a state in which we confront quite differently the whole world of plant-growth. Such effects are not so obvious today as they were in the past when these things were recognised. For there were times when people knew that by a certain inner attitude they actually fitted themselves for the care of the growth of plants. Nowadays these delicate and subtle influences are overlooked, the presence of other people disturbs them, as is bound to happen when one is constantly moving about among people who disregard such things. This is why it is so easy to refute their existence. I therefore hesitate to talk freely of such. thing's before a large audience, because they can so easily be refuted on the basis of the present conditions of daily life. A particularly ticklish question was raised in the discussion we had the other day as to whether parasites could be combated in this way, i.e. by methods of mental concentration and the like. There is no doubt that if one sets about it in the right way one can do such things. The period lying between the middle of January and the middle of February is that in which the forces which have been concentrated inside the earth are most powerfully unfolded. If we were to set this period aside as it were as a festal season and undertook these acts of concentration, then we should be able to bring about' such effects. As I said, it is a ticklish question, but a question which does admit of a positive answer. But thi3 activity must be undertaken in harmony with the whole of Nature. One must realise that it makes all the difference whether an exercise of concentration is carried out in mid-winter or in midsummer. We get hints of this in many popular sayings. Among the many things, which, as a young man, I proposed to do in my present incarnation, was the writing of a so-called “Peasant Philosophy,” which would describe the conception the peasants have or all the things that touch their lives. Such a book could have been a very beautiful work, and could have refuted the charge of stupidity often levelled against the peasant. A wonderful and subtle wisdom would have emerged, a sublime philosophy which, even in the words that it has coined, would “bear witness to the most intimate contact with the life of Nature. One is amazed to find how much the peasant knows of what is actually going on in Nature. It is no longer possible today to write such a “Peasant Philosophy” — too much of the real thing has been lost. Forty or fifty years ago this was not so, for in those days there was far more to be learned from the peasantry than from the Universities. Things were different then; one lived with the peasants on the land, and if those who wore broad-brimmed hats, who introduced the present socialistic movement, did come along, they were looked upon as oddities. The younger members of my audience can have no conception of how greatly the world has changed during the last thirty or forty years. So much has been lost of the beautiful folk dialects, and even of the genuine peasant philosophy, which was m a sense a cultural philosophy. Even in the peasants* calendars there were things which one can no longer find in them. Moreover, they looked different; there was something homely about them, I remember one, printed on very poor paper but with the signs of the planets done in colours and with a small sweet stuck on the cover, which the owner could lick before he opened the book. This made the book tasty and of course the people used it after one another.
QUESTION: Where large areas are to be manured should one simply go by one's feelings in judging of the number of cow-horns to be used.
ANSWER: I would not recommend this. In such cases one must use one's common sense. My advice would be this. First go by your feelings, and once you have obtained satisfactory results begin to tabulate them in figures which can then be used by other people. I would also advise anyone who has a natural gift for judging by his feelings to do so. but when talking to other people he should not decry the value of the figures he has tabulated. As a matter of fact all these things should be translated into exact calculations. This is really necessary nowadays. We need cow-horns to carry out this work but not “bull-headed” people to advocate the methods. This is just what may easily bring us up against a certain amount of opposition, and I would therefore advise you in this case to adjust yourselves to current thought.
QUESTION: Can quick-lime be used in a compost heap in the proportions usually prescribed?
ANSWER: The old method will have very good results, but requires the following qualification. In sandy soil one needs rather less quick-lime, in marshy ground rather more because of the formation of oxygen.
QUESTION: What about digging up and turning over the compost heap?
ANSWER: This will certainly do it no harm. But, of course, after doing so you must cover it up again with
a layer of earth. Peat or peat-mould is particularly good as a protection.
QUESTION: What kind of potash is it which can be used during the transition from old methods to the new?
ANSWER: Potash of magnesium (Kali magnesia).
QUESTION: What is the best use which can be made of the manure which is left over after the horns have been filled? Should it be put on the fields in the autumn so as to be there to go through the “winter-experience,” or should it be kept till the spring?
ANSWER: I must make it clear that this method of manuring with cow-horns is not a complete substitute for ordinary manuring. It must be regarded as an extra which enhances the action of the ordinary manure, which continues to be used as before.