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Anthroposophical Spiritual Science and Medical Therapy
GA 313

Lecture VIII

Dornach, April 18, 1921

Today's lecture will be an assortment of various topics I would like to add to what I have already said to you, including reference to our remedies. I would like to begin by saying that processes related to the mineral element that affect the human being can be interpreted similarly to the way done yesterday regarding the plant world. However, the insights we must gain here are more complicated, because as soon as we move on to the mineral world we are no longer dealing with definite, self-contained entities encountering each other, as was the case with plants and the human being; instead we are dealing with a realm in which one object passes directly into the other, so that it is difficult to make distinctions.

In the preparation of remedies—to this you must pay particular attention in our remedies—it is not merely a question of using some substance or other; the process in which the substance lives must be captured in another process. Thus when the effect of some remedy is known to you, it is often a matter of taking the effect you evoke on one side and damming it in from the other. You can see this clearly, for example, with the remedy we prepare from lead and treat in a certain way with honey (you will find this process described in detail elsewhere). You can see how the effect of lead must be held in check in one direction by the effect of the honey. Lead exerts a very strong influence on the formative process proceeding from the ego in the human being. We have spoken of the fact that in the head formation of the human being—or, said better, in the head formation proceeding from the human being—there lies a physical influence, but also an etheric imprint, an astral imprint, and an ego imprint. We said that the ego essentially imprints itself into the system of movement. The effect of lead works especially strongly on this imprint of the ego and takes place in conjunction with the astral imprint.

In the effect of lead we have a force of nature that is extraordinarily well-hidden, and for occult observation it is of exceptionally deep significance to experience this effect of lead. The effects of lead are extraordinarily important for the human being before he prepares to descend into physical life. This is when the effects of lead must be taken into account. Indeed, lead acts not only in the ways we know, but it has effects that are the polar opposite as well.

Figure 1

These polar effects radiate in from the cosmos, whereas those known to us radiate into the cosmos from the earth. This could be represented schematically like this. If this is the surface of the earth, the lead activities known to us radiate outward from the earth (see figure 1, arrows); the polar opposite effects stream in from all sides. They have no center from which they radiate, for they are not central forces but forces operating from the periphery (red). These peripheral forces are especially concerned with the formation of the soul-spiritual in the human being, and their domain must essentially be left when the human being prepares to descend into the earthly sphere. Hence in the earthly sphere lead is induced to unfold its opposite forces, and these are the poisonous ones. Everything connected spatially with the soul-spiritual in the human being, that is everything that can be spoken about in relation to space, is poison in the human organism.

This is a universal mystery to which one cannot pay too much attention. The meaning of the concept of poisoning must be sought here. We have to do with a strong stimulation, a powerful excitation of these ego-imprinting forces in human nature. Everything that arises in lead poisoning tends to destroy the form of the human being in so far as he is an ego. It dehumanizes him. In fact, all the symptoms of lead poisoning terminate in an individual gradually passing into nothingness corporeally. These symptoms include failure of the voice, stupor, and syncope, and attest to the fundamental destruction of the inborn formative force in the human being. Of course a person dies before this point is reached. The human formation is being destroyed from the upper human being, which is the polar opposite of the lower human being. What in greater quantities acts destructively in the upper human being acts in small quantities—in dilutions—constructively in the lower human being.

At this point I would like to interject something. I believe the never-ending conflict between homeopathy and allopathy will not be set right until one is able to enter into a study of man's constitution as given by spiritual science. On the one hand, the rich treasure of experience does not—or at least, should not—allow us to doubt the principle of homeopathy; on the other hand, people who are not in the habit of judging purely by experience but are swayed by all sorts of prejudices and opinions about the human organism cannot easily understand that what can make a person ill in larger doses in smaller doses makes him well. The homeopath is always more of a phenomenalist than the allopathic physician, who is always swayed in his therapeutic rationale by all sorts of prejudices. The facts are not fully revealed by this simpler statement, however. They are discovered only when we say: what makes a person ill when working in large quantities in the lower system will make him well when working in small quantities if its effect can proceed from the upper system and vice versa. This restatement of the homeopathic rule is the means to set right the conflict between homeopathy and allopathy.

Let us return now to the attempt of preparing a remedy from lead and honey. You can see how lead, greatly diluted and acting from below up, works against the destructive force acting on the human form. This is part of lead's effect. However, if one tries to build up this ego-shaping force, one transfers the activity of the ego into the physical organism and, while making the patient healthy bodily, one renders him psychically weak regarding everything that should work from below upward, that should work even organically. This weakening can go so far that one may, on the one hand, restore the individual to his human form, as it were, having been led by certain processes of disease to use the effect of lead because the formative processes are lacking. On the other hand, one may easily undermine the forces proceeding from the ego and astral body—especially those from the ego—when one causes the individual to develop his formative forces again. You could say that one brings about a cure for what the individual has not acquired, or has acquired only incompletely on entering life, but one weakens him regarding what he ought to do organically for himself during life. The effect of the honey when added to the remedy, however, opposes this weakening, that is, it strengthens the forces radiating from the ego. You see, in arriving at such a remedy, it is essentially a question of gaining insight into what is really taking place in the human being.

If we wish to understand the effects of the mineral element in the human being, however, we must look at the general effect of the mineral in the earth. It is necessary first to become acquainted with the significance of salts in the evolution of the earth. The significance of the salts in earthly evolution is that the earth actually produces them. In salt processes we find what the earth brings into being. In developing salts, the earth builds itself up. And when we turn from the salts to the acids—looking, for example, at the acid's element present in the watery earth regions, we have the earthly process corresponding to, though the polar opposite of, the inner digestive process in the human being, that is, the digestive process beyond the stomach.

We need to study all these processes taking place in earthly development, inasmuch as they represent a relation between acids and salts. When we consider the process that develops from bases through acids to salts, which can be observed outwardly today in chemistry, we see that, regarded in this way, the process leading from base to acid to salt coincides with the earth-forming process.

Figure 2

This process is essentially a negative electrical process. To put it more exactly: this process, expressed in its external, spatial aspect—i.e., as a process working its way out of the spiritual into the physical—can be represented schematically as follows. We have here an effect proceeding from the bases through the acids to the salts; it is indicated only in its direction here (see figure 2, red arrows), but it is actually a process of deposition expressed schematically. Now, when we express this process in reverse, passing from the salts through acids to bases, we must always remove these lines of deposition. They would act in a compressing way, and the opposite radiations appear, which radiate out (see figure 2 on right, arrows). Then we have to do with a positive electrical process. If you look at this sketch, I believe you will hardly doubt that it has been drawn by nature herself. Just look once at the anodes and cathodes and you will find this picture sketched by nature herself.

Now, if we approach the metallic process, that is, if we approach the metals themselves, we find in the metals that element by which the earth “unbecomes” (“ent-wird”) most, if I may use this expression, though it has long disappeared from the German language, despite the fact that it corresponds to reality: werdenentwerden—to become—to unbecome. With metals we find the tendency for the earth to disintegrate, to shatter in pieces, rather than the tendency to preserve or consolidate themselves in the earthly kingdom. They actually represent the “unbecoming” or passing away of the earth, and as a result they develop hidden radiating events, concealed even to external observation. You have this radiating effect everywhere. It is very important to observe this wherever we approach the metallic element with our interpretations of nature in an attempt to derive remedies.

It is especially interesting to study individual metals from this viewpoint. Such a study leads us to the viewpoint represented outwardly by this table of the mineral remedies we consider valuable. To arrive at these things it is necessary to gather everything yielded by such a correct interpretation of observations. They will be reliable, because we have prepared only those remedies that have their basis in a comprehensive interpretation of observations. Here we can elaborate on this interpretation, for I am really not concerned with simply repeating this list to you. Any additions that have to be made can be given in a written exposition. At some point this will have to be done. I am less concerned with repeating this list than with guiding your thoughts in the direction that could lead to such a list in the first place.

Let us now study the metals—I would prefer to say: the metallic nature—from this viewpoint. There we find what I have just described as a radiation, and it is present in the most varied forms. It can exist in the emanating form of radiation, destroying the earthly and passing into cosmic space. This is especially the case with the lead-activity. Through this lead-activity the human being has implanted into his organism those forces that would like to disperse him into the world. This dispersing into the world is an aspect of lead-activity, so that we can best regard this effect as a radiating one. Such radiating effects appear in a different way in other metals, for example, magnesium. This can be seen clearly and is the basis for the role magnesium plays in the teeth. Through the human organism this must be brought to the point of a metallic activity. This actually happens, but the radiation must then be able to metamorphose itself again. And when this radiation has metamorphosed, it becomes what I would like to call simply “direction.” The radiation is now only “direction,” what happens, however, is an oscillation, a pendular movement to and from this direction.

We must study such effects in the healthy and sick person. In the healthy person, these radiating effects are present in the radiations of the sense organs, as remnants, you could say, of the life before birth, of prenatal existence. These are always present. What radiates from the sense organs consists basically of after-effects of lead, in which lead itself is no longer present. These radiations occur throughout the entire organism wherever there is sense activity. Nerve activity, that is, the functional activity going on in the nerves, has its basis essentially on a weakening of the sense activity in this direction. This activity is therefore based on a weaker radiation. You can see from this why I said in my book, Riddles of the Soul (Von Seelenrätseln), that it is difficult to describe the actual nerve-sense activity, because I would first have had to introduce everything I have now presented to you.

In this oscillatory process, this pendular movement, in which the radiation is only considered in regard to its direction, we have to do with what functionally underlies all breathing in the human organism, in fact all rhythmic activity. Rhythmic activity is based on setting up such pendular movements, on setting up a movement more consolidated in itself than the movement of radiations. Among the metals or metallic nature, tin, for example, has such a movement. The beneficial effect of tin in fairly high potencies on everything that bears upon the rhythmic system is based on this fact.

This radiating, pendular movement can be modified further, however, and this third modification is of great significance. This third modification maintains its direction and also its pendular motion only latently. On the other hand, it consists of spheres continually forming and dissolving in the direction of the radiation. What has an effect on the metabolism in the human being depends on these forces, and among metals it is iron that develops especially these forces. Hence the iron in the blood works against the effect of metabolism as a third metamorphosis of the radiating activity.

Figure 3

When we are dealing with the first metamorphosis, the effect is especially on everything that organically concerns the ego; when dealing with the second metamorphosis, the effect is organically on everything that concerns the astral body; and with regard to the third metamorphosis, the effect is organically on everything related to the etheric body (see figure 3).

Now let us go further. What develops there as the continuous “radiation of spheres”—if I may call it so—must be continually received because it acts, in a sense, from the upper human being toward the lower. It only goes as far as the etheric. Now it must also be received by the physical by means of a force acting polarically, for something that envelops the spheres from outside must come to meet such a sphere-formation. The sphere must be taken hold of and enveloped (see figure 4).

Figure 4

It can be that the sphere-formation and this enveloping action are approximately balanced. This is naturally the case in a normal person, where everything that works downward from the upper human being is counterbalanced by the effect of the lower human being on the upper. This adjustment takes place especially in the damming-up activity of the heart. When this balance is disturbed, however, the metal that can bring equilibrium is gold, au rum. This restores the balance between this enveloping process and what lies in the middle. One will have to use gold when disturbances of the circulation and breathing occur that do not appear as results of something else; that is, when the causes are not to be found in the rest of the organism, gold will be applied. If, on the other hand, you notice that the causes proceed from a region other than the boundary between the lower and upper human being, you will be led to say, “There are not enough of these enveloping material processes coming from the individual to meet the more etheric-spiritual processes taking place here.” And if the activity you find here lies more toward the inside, in the digestive processes beyond the intestinal wall, you will assist this enveloping process by applying copper.

This leads us to the ways of using copper, which is included among our remedies. It is generally used in connection with a form of malnutrition manifesting outwardly in disturbances of the circulation that are consequences of the malnutrition. If we are dealing with circulatory disturbances that cannot be regarded as results of malnutrition, then we give gold; if circulatory disturbances are connected with malnutrition, we use copper.

Now, there must be counterprocesses also for the other processes of radiation, material counterprocesses to the etheric-spiritual processes. Consider the process that we must now regard as an inner process, which brings about this pendular movement, this oscillation. When it becomes abnormal, when it grows too strong, it can be observed in everything constituting the digestion, in working through the absorbed food by the intestines, and, coming more to the outside, all that is situated on this side. This therefore includes what occurs in sexuality, for example. The sexual processes are radiations from the human being that run their course in this way (see figure 3) like the staff of Mercury. This played a part in establishing the ancient so-called symbols. If what is active here is not to degenerate, it must be opposed by material, formative forces holding it in check and preventing this degeneration. These formative forces are essentially to be found in mercury. We are here pointing to a realm in which it is extremely important to bring together what I said in the last course with what a more inner study now teaches us. If you bring these two things together you will have the whole process before you. This is now something that plays entirely into the astral, arising through such pendular, radiating movements and through the corresponding counter-images. It now passes over entirely into the astral (see figure 3).

We may also be concerned with the actual radiation process that is present in the human organism in the most manifold ways. On the one hand, we find this process in everything that radiates out through the skin, in everything that has this directional radiation in it. We find this process in everything that causes urination, in everything that has an evacuating action in the human being. Just as in the gastrula stage of embryonic development the outside is drawn inward, so in this radiation we have to do with something that acts toward the outside through the skin but that also takes on the opposite direction and works in the processes causing urination and bowel evacuation. Usually we find the polar process expressing itself in an opposite direction, but here we have something that is, in a sense, reversed and yet similar. You see, one must not try to treat things in the world schematically. Errors always arise when we start from theories. It is impossible to start from a theory and not succumb to error. Thus if someone says to himself, “Polarity is at work in the world,” and then proceeds to construct a scheme or formula for polarity, saying that polarity must act in this or that way, he will be able to coordinate certain series of facts but he will have to abandon his formula in the face of other phenomena, where things are different. If only we could gain insight into this terrible tyranny exerted by theorizing in science!

Of course, one must be willing to make theories, for otherwise it would be impossible to coordinate any realm of phenomena. At the same time, however, one must be willing to drop one's theory in the right place and penetrate further to the point where this theory has no more value. Natural science must also pay heed to this. If one wishes to work on the theory of evolution in an outer sense, one must keep to the outer theory, modifying it where necessary. If one wishes to understand the human being from within, one must keep to what anthroposophy has to offer. But neither an anthroposophical nor an anthropological theory can be applied in any other way than by leaving it behind at the right point and passing into the other domain. With what we call anthroposophy, of course, we enter the soul-spiritual domain and return again to outer, sense-perceptible phenomena. You can observe how, in my early writings, I followed this path as a matter of course, and how in my more recent writings I am now trying to embrace the other domain as well. Only fools find devious contradictions in this and so construct their idiotic attacks. Then German journals, run by people who are incapable of judgment, publish idiotic attacks as a serious discussion on anthroposophy.

The point is that we must take into account this process that can be described as a radiation, as I have just done. Then we have to work against this, and we can do so by appealing to the opposite radiation, one active in silver, for example. In this connection we must realize that silver must be applied as an ointment if it is to have an effect on the kind of radiation that expresses itself through the skin; however, it must be injected in some form if it is to deal with the other activity that follows the direction of evacuation in some way. Here you have what I might call a “guideline” for the particular way in which to handle such matters. Basically, just as much depends on the way such things are handled as on the quality of the remedy.

This study has led us to the remedies, and I would like to conclude it with some comments in reply to questions that have been posed. If I have not been able to complete our program this time, I must ask you to excuse this due to the shortness of time. If you pay attention to my method of answering questions, however, I believe you will see from it that I have tried to shape the lectures of the last few days so as to lead to the answers to these questions. To demonstrate this, I will select a characteristic question that someone has posed. It was asked about the widespread popular notion that women during menstruation have a kind of withering effect on flowers nearby, particularly if they touch them. This notion has its basis in reality, though it has not been observed often enough and is therefore frequently overlooked. All you need to do is to take the view of the human being that we have developed here, and you will find the inner cause of this phenomenon. Just consider that what works in the flower and the formation of the blossom strives upward from the earth; in the human being, what corresponds to this blossoming force works from above downward. This is certainly a cosmological-organic polarity. You need only picture that this normal process striving upward in the blossoms of plants is the opposite of the human process working from above downward (see figure 5). There must be a balance, and this is present in the normal human being.

Figure 5

Now picture the forces from above downward intensified, which is what manifests during menstruation. Then you have an intensification of forces in the human being that work against the blossoming forces of plants. So you see how an understanding of the connection of these facts enables you, if you proceed in this way, to understand this remarkable relationship that finds expression in popular views surviving from ancient, instinctive perceptions.

Here is another question: “What can one do for a type of asthma that starts with cramp state and includes among its symptoms a surplus of blood below and a deficiency of blood above?” How do we treat this form of asthma? What is going on in such a case? In such a case, the nerve-sense process has slipped down into the breathing process. This is nothing other than an excessive activity within the breathing process, and clearly this excessive activity is due to the slipping down of the nerve-sense process. You must work against this polarically; you must approach from the other side. You must oppose what has entered from outer nature with forces that have the opposite direction. You call forth such forces when you introduce the acid process through the skin, that is, by giving carbonic acid baths or other acidic baths. These will be especially beneficial in asthmatic diseases of this type. If you keep in mind the other things I have spoken about, you will be led to use many other remedies as well.

Now, a question has been asked about milk injection in cases of excessive mucous discharge. This procedure has indeed caused tremendous astonishment and satisfaction in clinics. From what I have presented in these lectures about milk secretion you will readily see that in a large number of cases this treatment is connected with what I said. You need only recall what we said about the secretion of milk: that it is also a sense-process, but one that has slipped down deeper. I have already described the abnormalities that arise there. Now, directive forces remain, of course, in the secreted product. This is a process in which what has taken place within the organism continues. If you now inject a patient with milk, you can obviously work against a process that depends on fairly similar things. This is a case in which empirical chance has in fact worked in an extraordinarily ingenious way, for this treatment has only been discovered by chance, that is, by experimenting. It is generally of the greatest importance to look into the metamorphosis of a process. If a person cannot gain insight into how processes are metamorphosed, he will be unable to judge the simplest things correctly.

A question has surfaced about the causes of colds, of all those things designated by the somewhat diffuse concept of a “cold.” Here also a sense activity is displaced, pushed down into the breathing activity, but now in a different way from before. The secretions that arise are only reactions to this. This is something that takes place in the organism more toward the surface, something that continually takes place within the organism through the interaction of the nerve-sense activity and the metabolic activity. This is going on inside continually. You should not be surprised that these things are treated by the simplest methods, with poultices and the like, in which a kind of nerve-sense activity is inserted where otherwise it is not present. All poultices and so on push a nerve-sense activity into the organism, an activity that is half-conscious and otherwise would not be there.

Figure 6

I have also been asked how muscle forces are related to bone forces. Their relationship is such that the effects that have come to rest or are dying in bone forces are in full movement in muscle forces. Bones are simply transformed muscles, not in the genetic sense, but from the point of view of the idea. For this reason it is really absurd to look for a genetic connection between bones and muscles, or even between cartilage and bone. Many people have correctly drawn attention to the difficulty of finding a genetic connection here. Bunge, for instance, has pointed to this difficulty in finding a genetic connection between cartilage and bone, but he has not, of course, pointed to the source of this difficulty. It is due to the fact that there is a metamorphosis here. Just picture, however, the time when the whole muscle formation has not yet passed into the organic-visible sphere (see figure 6, red). This is also the case with cartilage formation, only much less so. Picture the time when the muscle and bone formation are still undifferentiated (see figure 6, light). When differentiation proceeds into this state of undifferentiation, these processes are subject at the same time to polarity, and it is naturally extraordinarily difficult to detect this metamorphosis. You can detect an outer, genetic metamorphosis only if, in the differentiation of one tissue from another, polarity does not have an essential effect during the transformation, but the original direction is maintained. When polarity immediately exerts influence on differentiation, quite another structure will naturally result, and this will no longer resemble the first.

We will address some of the other questions in the next lecture. There is however a question which I beg you to recognize as typical for questions which lead to a realm where confusion sets in strongly and where one ought to avoid drawing analogies. The question is whether one could construct something like a spectrum of taste, going from sweet through bitter, sour, chalky, to salty, and then also perhaps a spectrum of smell. There is so little objectivity regarding taste and smell, in fact, that it is especially useless to try to find analogies. Such things are of minor significance in practical application. On leaving the domain of the eye and ear and passing into the domain of taste and smell, we come into a totally different realm. In visual perceptions one has to do with revelations entirely from the etheric world, whereas in the processes of smell and taste one has to do with something involved very powerfully in material processes, in effects of substances, in metabolic processes. Thus in passing over to these sense activities, one can keep to the more robust processes that come to expression in metabolism.

Another question has been posed that deals with a significant principle: “Can a human being, without taking anything, produce out of himself bromine, morphine, iodine, quinine, arsenic, and other remedies?” This is a question that leads to very deep foundations of man's whole organization. One cannot produce the substances, but one can produce the processes. It can be said emphatically that one is, of course, quite unable to produce the substance ‘lead’ in oneself. However it is quite possible to produce the lead process in oneself from out of the etheric and then to let it radiate into the physical body. Here it may be asked whether it is not possible then to dilute a substance homeopathically to such a degree that by this process I try to work into the etheric body, calling forth this process of ‘self-metallization,’ of ‘self-radiation,’ that corresponds to a process of metallic radiation? In a certain sense this is absolutely possible, but it is a matter of advancing to the process of radiation that proceeds from the metallic element.

If you remain stuck in the allopathic way of thinking, you cannot approach these things, of course. You must think of them as follows: The radiating forces of magnesium are present in the process of tooth formation. These are forces that have a significance for the whole human organism, for the teeth are pushed out of the whole human being. You may use magnesium salt, any magnesium salt—magnesium sulphate, let us say—applying it in such a way that you put aside all allopathic approaches and prepare an especially strong dilution. Here we are led to the necessity of using quite high dilutions. You now have a twofold effect: you have first the effect of magnesium that basically stops where the teeth are. In the normal person the magnesium forces do not extend beyond this region. You must intensify them so that they extend their effect further, irradiating the whole human being. One can achieve this especially well by using the salt, magnesium sulphate, for this furthers the magnesium radiation even into the head forces. You allow it to radiate back from there. In fact, this process that proceeds from the etheric—remaining in the etheric by this homeopathizing process—is called forth where one has only the forces but not the substance, where one has proceeded from a totally different substance. You know, of course, that magnesium sulfate has been used empirically here, but one will only be able to use it rationally if this connection is borne in mind. It will then be noticed that one can depend on the sulfate only halfway; one must also depend on the magnesium for the other half, so that anyone who believes another sulfate would do as well will be making a mistake. This is the sort of thing that results if one proceeds from considerations that are supported only by the methods of the outer sense world and a combining intellect.

I would now like to point out briefly that all these matters that have been presented to you must be studied in the following way: In order to get behind the effects that must be observed, one must first select single features; then, however, one must see them again as a whole. With these lectures in particular, I am requiring you to exert yourselves to see things in their interrelationships. And now I would like to suggest how you might do this. I have been asked, for example, about exophthmalic goiter, Graves' disease. You may turn to what I explained in the first lecture on curative eurythmy, where I pointed out that the thyroid gland is a brain that has not attained completion. If you recall this and notice how the forces that act abnormally in Graves' disease tend toward the thyroid gland and, in doing so, produce all the other symptoms associated with Graves' disease, you will find how to work against it by measures that oppose this overly strong tendency of the human being to become a “head.” Here we are led to what is to occupy the next lecture. We are led to see that such conditions can really be opposed beneficially by significant movements, especially by significant movements associated with consonants. And you will achieve results in the initial stage of Graves' disease if you thoroughly apply what we have just spoken about in the curative eurythmy lecture. You see, in connecting all these things you must also look in that direction. We will not bring these studies to a close with these lectures but will continue with them another time. There is still one lecture remaining, however.