13 June, 1924 Koberwitz
My dear friends,
The preparation I indicated yesterday for the improvement of manure was intended, of course, simply as an improvement, as an enhancement. Needless to say, you will go on manuring as before. To-day we shall have to consider the manuring problem still further, in view of our necessary standpoint that whatever is living must be kept within the living sphere. Ethereal life, as we have seen, should never depart from anything that is in the sphere of living growth. Hence it was of great value for us to recognise that the soil out of which the plant grows and which surrounds the roots, is in itself a kind of continuation of growth within the earth. There is a vegetative plant-life in the earth itself.
In yesterday's lecture I even showed how we can imagine the transition from a thrown-up hillock of earth — with the inner vitality of its humus-content — to the rind or even the bark that surrounds the tree, enclosing the tree from the outside. Naturally enough, in modern time, when all insight into the great connections of Nature has been lost — as indeed it had to be — this insight too has gone. Science no longer perceives this common life — common to the Earth and all plant-growth—nor how it is continued into the excretion-products of life in the manure. Science no longer knows the working of this all-embracing life. Insight into these things had to be lost, increasingly as time went on.
Now Spiritual Science, as I said in yesterday's discussion, must not come in in a turbulent and revolutionary spirit, interfering with all that our time has achieved in the different domains of life. We must begin by recognising what has really been achieved. We must oppose or fight those things alone which rest on completely false premises — which are a mere outcome of the materialistic world conception. Meanwhile, in all the different spheres of life, we must try to supplement genuine modern achievement with that which can flow from our own, living conception of the Universe.
Therefore I need not spend much time describing how you should prepare manure — whether from stable manure, liquid manure or compost. In this respect — for the due preparation of manure and liquid manure — much has already been done. Perhaps we can say more of these things in this afternoon's discussion. I will only say this to begin with: The idea that in farming we are really exploiting the land is quite correct. Indeed, we cannot help doing so. With all that we send out into the world from our farms, we are taking forces away from the earth — nay, even from the air. These forces must somehow be restored. After a time, the manure substance whose inner value is so deeply connected with all that we need for the impoverished earth, must be subjected to a proper treatment, so as to quicken and vitalise it sufficiently.
Notably in the most recent times, many false judgments have arisen from the materialistic outlook in this respect. They are at pains to investigate the working of bacteria — the smallest of living entities. They ascribe to these minute creatures the virtue of preparing the right conditions and relationships of substance in the manure. They reckon first and foremost on all that the bacteria do for the manure. Brilliant, highly logical experiments have been made, inoculating the soil with bacteria. Truly brilliant! but as a rule they have not stood the test of time, for they have proved of little use.
These things, in fact, are done from a point of view for which the following is a just parallel: Here is a room; we find an extraordinary number of flies in it. Because there are so many flies, we say the room is dirty. But the room is not dirty because of the flies. On the contrary, the flies are there because the room is dirty. Nor should we clean the room by thinking out devices to increase the number of flies (imagining that they will eat the dirt up more quickly) or even to diminish them, or anything of that kind. We shall attain far more by tackling the dirt itself, directly.
So it is when we use animal excretion-products as manure. We must regard the minute living entities as occurring by virtue of the processes that arise of themselves, here or there in the dung substance. The presence of these creatures may therefore be an extremely useful symptom of the prevalence of such and such conditions in the dung-substance itself. But there can be no great good in planting them or breeding them. (Indeed, we might often do more good by combating them). In effect, for the living life which is so vital to agriculture, we should always remain in larger spheres, and even to these minutest of creatures we should apply as little as possible of atomistic forms of thought.
It should go without saying that such a statement ought never to be made unless we are able to show positive ways and means at the same time. No doubt, what I have now been saying is emphasized in many quarters. But it is not only important to know what is abstractly correct. If our correct knowledge is merely negative it generally helps us little; we must have positive principles to set over against it. That is the point in every case! If positive proposals cannot be made, we had better refrain from stressing the negative, for it will only tend to annoy.
A second thing is this: As a result of materialistic tendencies, once more it has been thought well in modern times to treat the manure in various ways with inorganic substances — compounds or elements. Here too, however, people are learning from experience. It has no permanent value. We must in fact be clear on this: So long as we try to ennoble or improve the manure by mineralising methods, we shall only succeed in quickening the liquid element — the water. Now for a firm and sound plant-structure it is necessary not only to quicken and organise the water — for from the water which merely trickles through the earth, no further vitalisation proceeds.
We must vitalise the earth directly, and this we cannot do by merely mineral procedures. This we can only do by working with organic matter, bringing it into such a condition that it is able to organise and vitalise the solid earthy element itself. To endow the mass of manure, or the liquid manure, with this kind of quickening or stimulus, is precisely the object of those inspirations which we are able to give to agriculture out of spiritual science. This quickening, this stimulation, can be given to any mass that is available as manure, provided always we remain within the sphere of life.
Spiritual Science always tries to look into the effects of living things on a large scale. It does not pry into the minute and microscopic, for that is not the most important. It does not primarily concern itself with the conclusions which are drawn from the minute — from microscopic investigations. To observe the macrocosmic — the wide circumference of Nature's workings — that is the talk of Spiritual Science. But we must first know how to penetrate into these wider workings of Nature.
There is a saying you will often find repeated in agricultural literature, in many variations. No doubt it arises from the experiences which they believe they have collected. It is to this effect: “Nitrogen, phosphoric acid, calcium, potash, chlorine, etc., even iron — all these are essential in the soil if plant-growth is to prosper there. Silicic acid, on the other hand, lead, arsenic, mercury” — and they even include soda in this category — “have for plant-life at most the value of stimulants or irritants. One may stimulate the plants with them, but that is all.” In this very statement, the men of to-day betray the fact that they are really groping about in the dark. It is a very good thing — as a result of tradition, no doubt — that they do not treat the plants as madly as they would do if they really followed this proposition. It is, as a matter of fast, impossible to do so.
What is the truth in this connection? Great Nature does not leave us so mercilessly in the lurch if we fail to take the silicic acid or the lead or mercury or arsenic into account, as she does if we fail to take into account her potash or limestone or phosphoric acid. Heaven provides silicic acid, lead, mercury, and arsenic — provides them freely with the rain. On the other hand, to have the proper phosphoric acid, potash and limestone-content in the Earth, we must till the soil and manure it properly. Heaven does not give these things of her own accord.
Nevertheless, by prolonged tillage we can gradually impoverish the soil. We are, of course, constantly impoverishing it, and that is why we have to manure it. But the compensation through the manure may presently become inadequate — and this is happening to-day on many farms. Then we are ruthlessly exploiting the earth; we let it become permanently impoverished. We must then provide for the true Nature-process to take place once more in the right way.
Those that are commonly called the stimulant effects are indeed the most important of all. Precisely the substances people think inessential are present all around the Earth — actively working, though in the finest and most tenuous dilution. Moreover, the plants need them just as much as they need what comes to them from the Earth. They draw them in from the world-circumference — from the cosmic circle. Mercury, arsenic, silicic acid — these substances the plants suck upward from the soil of the Earth after they have been rayed into the soil from the Cosmos.
However, we as human beings can utterly prevent the soil's receiving from the world-circumference, and raying outward in the proper way, what the plants need in this respect. If we continue manuring at random from year to year, we can gradually prevent the Earth from drawing into itself what it needs by way of silicic acid, lead and mercury, which are at work in the finest homoeopathic doses, if I may put it so — coming inward from the world circumference. These influences need to be absorbed into the growth of the plant, if it is really to receive all that it needs from the Earth. For which the help of all that comes from the world-circumference in this fine and delicate condition, the plant builds up its body in the configuration of carbon.
Therefore we need to treat our manure not only as I indicated yesterday; we should also subject it to a further treatment. And the point is not merely to add substances to it, with the idea that it needs such and such substances so as to give them to the plants. No, the point is that we should add living forces to it. The living forces are far more important for the plant than the mere substance-forces or substances. Though we might gradually get our soil ever so rich in this or that substance, it would still be of no use for plant-growth, unless by a proper manuring process we endowed the plant itself which the power to receive into its body the influences which the soil contains. This is the point.
The men of our time are altogether unaware how the minutest quantities will often work with great intensity, precisely where living things are concerned. Now, however, we have the brilliant investigations of Frau Dr. Kolisko on the effects of “smallest entities.” What hitherto, in homeopathy, was a blind groping in the dark, has here been placed on a sound scientific footing, and as an outcome of her work I think we may take it as proved that in the minute entities, in the minute quantities, the radiant forces we need in the organic world are really set free — provided only that we use these entities in the proper way. And in manuring it is not at all difficult for us to use the minute quantities in the proper way.
You will remember how we prepare the forces in the cow's horns, and how we add the preparations, as the case may be, before or after manuring. These forces and influences then assist the working of the manure itself. We add these forces, so as to assist the working of the manure, which, apart front these homoeopathic doses, is used in the proper way, as heretofore. But in other ways, too, we must still try to give the manure the right living property. We must give it such a consistency that it will retain of its own accord as much of nitrogen and other substances as it requires. For we shall thereby impart to the manure a tendency to that living vitality which will enable it to bring the right vitality into the Earth itself.
To-day therefore — more as a general indication — I shall mention a few more things in the same direction: preparations to add to the manure in minute doses, in addition to the cow-horn stuff'. The preparations we add to the manure vitalise it in such a way that it will then be able to transmit its vitality to the soil from which the plants are springing.
I shall mention various things, but let me say at the outset: if they should be difficult to obtain in one district or another, they can, if need be, be replaced by certain other things. Only in one case a substitute cannot be found, for it is so characteristic that the effect is scarcely likely to be found in the same way in any other plant.
From what I have said hitherto, we must provide for those things of the Universe which are above all important — namely, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur — to come together in the right way with other substances in the organic realm; notably with potash salts, for instance. As to the mere quantity of potash salts which the plant needs for its growth, no doubt a little of these things is already known. It is well-known that potash-salts (or potash, generally speaking) carry the growth rather into those regions of the plant organism which become rigid structure or framework in many instances, i.e. which bring about the formation of trunk or stem or the like. The potash-content will hold back the growth in forming strong and sturdy stems, etc. But it is very important — in all that takes place as between the earth and the plant — so to assimilate the potash content that it relates itself rightly, within the organic process, to that which really constitutes the body of the plant, i.e. to the protein substance. Here we shall be successful if we proceed as follows:
Take yarrow 1Achillea millifolium, — also known as Milfoll. —a plant which is generally obtainable. If there is none of it in the district, you can use the dried herb just as well. Yarrow is indeed a miraculous creation. No doubt every plant is so; but if you afterwards look at any other plant, you will take it to heart all the more, what a marvel this yarrow is. It contains that of which I told you that the Spirit always moistens its fingers therewith when it wants to carry the different constituents — as carbon, nitrogen, etc. — to their several organic places. Yarrow stands out in Nature as though some creator of the plant-world had had it before him as a model, to show him how to bring the sulphur into a right relation to the remaining substances of the plant.
One would fain say, “In no other plant do the Nature-spirits attain such perfection in the use of sulphur as they do in yarrow.” And if you also know of the working of yarrow in the animal or human organism —if you know how well it can make good all that is due to weaknesses of the astral body (provided it is rightly carried into the biological sphere) — then you will trace it still farther, in its yarrow-nature, throughout the entire process of plant growth. Yarrow is always the greatest boon, wherever it grows wild in the country — at the edges of the fields or roads, where cereals or potatoes or any other crops are growing. It should on no account be weeded out. (Needless to say, we should prevent it from settling where it becomes a nuisance — it may become a nuisance, though it is never actually harmful).
In a word, like sympathetic people in human society, who have a favourable influence by their mere presence and not by anything they say, so yarrow, in a district where it is plentiful, works beneficially by its mere presence.
Now you can, do the following. Take the same part of the yarrow which is medicinally used, namely, the upper part — the umbrella-shaped inflorescence. If you have yarrow ready to hand, so much the better. Pick the fresh flowers and let them dry, only for a short time. Indeed, you need not let them dry so very much. If fresh yarrow is unobtainable — if you can only get the dried herb — you will do well before using it to press the juice out of the yarrow leaves. (Even from the dried leaves, you can get the required juice by decoction). Water the inflorescence a little with this juice.
Now you will see once more how we always remain within the living sphere. Take one or two hollow handfuls of this yarrow-stuff, pressed pretty strongly together, and sew it up in the bladder of a stag. Enclose the yarrow substance as best you can in the stag's bladder, and bind it up again. There, then, you have a fairly compact mass of yarrow in the stag's bladder. Now hang it up throughout the summer in a place exposed as far as possible to the sunshine. When autumn comes, take it down again and bury it not very deep in the Earth throughout the winter.
So you will have the yarrow flower (it matters not if it be tending already towards the fruit) enclosed in the bladder of the stag for a whole year, and exposed — partly above the earth, partly below — to those influences to which it is susceptible. You will find that it assumes a peculiar consistency during the winter.
In this form you can now keep it as long as you wish. Add the substance which you take out of the bladder to a pile on manure — it may even he as big as a house! — and distribute it well. Nay, you need not even do much to distribute it: the radiation itself will do the work. The radiating power is so very strong that if you merely put it in — even if you do not distribute it much — it will influence the whole mass of manure or liquid manure or compost. (If we speak of radiating forces, the materialists will believe us, will they not, for even they speak of radium!)
The mass we thus gain from the yarrow has an effect so quickening and so refreshing that if we now use the manure thus treated, just in the way manure is ordinarily used, we shall make good again much that would otherwise become a ruthless exploitation of the earth. We re-endow the manure with the power, so to quicken the earth that the more distant cosmic substances — silicic acid, lead, etc., which come to the earth in finest homoeopathic quantities — are caught up and received.
Here again the members of our Agricultural Circle should make experiments; they will soon see how well it works. And now the question is (for we should always work with insight, not with lack of insight), the question is: As to the yarrow, we have learned to know it. Its homoeopathic sulphur-content, combined in a truly model way with potash, not only works magnificently in the plant itself, but enables the yarrow to ray out its influences to a greater distance and through Large masses. But the question remains: Why should we sew it up precisely in the bladder of a stag?
Here we must gain an insight into the whole process that is connected with the bladder. The stag is an animal most intimately related, not so much to the Earth but to the Earth's environment, i.e. to the Cosmic in the Earth's environment. Therefore the stag has antlers, the functions of which I explained yesterday. Now that which is present in the yarrow is intensely preserved, both in the human and in the animal organism, by the process which takes place between the kidneys and the bladder. Moreover, this process itself is dependent on the substantial nature or consistency of the bladder. Thus, in the bladder of the stag — however thin it is in substance — we have the necessary forces. Unlike the former instance (the cow, which is quite different), these forces are not connected with the interior. The bladder of the stag is connected rather with the forces of the Cosmos. Nay, it is almost an image of the Cosmos. We thereby give the yarrow the power quite essentially to enhance the forces it already possesses, to combine the sulphur with the other substances.
In this yarrow treatment we have an absolutely fundamental method of improving the manure, while all the time we remain within the realm of living things. We never go out of the living realm into that of inorganic chemistry. This is important to observe.
Now take another example. We want to give the manure the power to receive so much life into itself that it is able to transmit life to the soil out of which the plant is growing. But we must also make the manure able to bind together, still more, the substances which are necessary for plant growth — that is, in addition to potash, also the calcium compounds. In yarrow we are mainly dealing with potassium influences. If we also wish to get hold of the calcium influences, we need another plant, which — if it does not enthuse us like yarrow — also contains sulphur in homoeopathic quantity and distribution, so as to attract through the sulphur the other substances which the plant needs, and draw them into an organic process.
This plant is camomile (Chamomilla officinalis). It is not enough to say that camomile is distinguished by its strong potash and calcium contents. The facts are these: Yarrow mainly develops its sulphur-force in the potash-formative process. Hence it has sulphur in the precise proportions which are necessary to assimilate the potash. Camomile, however, assimilates calcium in addition. Therewith, it assimilates that which can chiefly help to exclude from the plant those harmful effects of fructification, thus keeping the plant in a healthy condition. It is a wonderful thing to see. Camomile too has a certain amount of sulphur in it, but in a different quantity, because it has calcium to assimilate as well.
Now once again you can look around you. The indications of Spiritual Science invariably consider the great and wide circles of life — the macrocosmic, not the microscopic conditions. Now you must trace, for example, the process which camomile undergoes in the human and animal organism, when taken as food or medicine. The bladder is comparatively unimportant for what the camomile must undergo in the human or animal organism. In this case, the substance of the intestinal walls is far more important. Therefore, if you want to work with camomile — as is the other case with yarrow you must proceed as follows.
Pick the beautiful delicate little yellow-white heads of the flowers, and treat them as you treated the umbels of the yarrow. But now, instead of putting them in a bladder, stuff them into bovine intestines. You will not need very much. Here again, it is a charming Operation. Instead of using these intestinal tubes as they are commonly used for making sausages, make them into another kind of sausage — fill them with the stuffing which you thus prepare from the camomile flower.
This preparation, once more, need only be rightly exposed to the influences of Nature. Observe how we constantly remain within the living realm. In this case, living vitality connected as nearly as possible with the earthy nature must be allowed to work upon the substance. Therefore you should take these precious little sausages — for they are truly precious — and expose them to the earth throughout the winter. Bury them not too deep, in soil as rich as possible in humus. If possible, choose a spot where the snow will remain for a long time and where the sun will shine upon the snow, for you will thus contrive to let the cosmic astral influences work down into the soil where your precious little sausages are buried.
Dig them out in the springtime and keep them in the same way as before. Add them to the manure just as you did the yarrow preparation. You will thus get a manure with a more stable nitrogen content, and with the added virtue of kindling the life in the earth, so that the earth itself will have a wonderfully stimulating effect on the plant-growth. Above all, you will create more healthy plants — really more healthy — if you manure in this way than if you do not.
I know perfectly well, all this may seem utterly mad. I only ask you to remember how many things have seemed utterly mad, which have none the less been introduced a few years later. Read the Swiss newspapers of the time when someone first suggested building mountain railways. What did they not throw at his head! Yet within a short time the mountain railways were there, and to-day no one remembers that he who devised them was a fool. Here, as in all things, it is simply a question of breaking down prejudice.
As I said before, if these two plants should he difficult to get in some locality, they might be replaced by something else, though it would certainly not be so good. Moreover, you can perfectly well use the plant as dried herb. On the other hand, most difficult to replace for its good influence on our manure is a plant which we are frequently not at all fond of — I mean, in the sense that you like to stroke what you are fond of. This is a plant we do not like to stroke — it is the stinging nettle. Truly it is the greatest benefactor of plant growth in general, and you will scarcely find another plant to replace it. If it should happen to be unobtainable in any place, then you must get it dried from elsewhere.
The stinging nettle is a regular “Jack-of-all-trades.” It can do very, very much. It, too, carries within it the element which incorporates the Spiritual and assimilates it everywhere, namely, sulphur, the significance of which I have explained already. Moreover, the stinging nettle carries potassium and calcium in its currents and radiations, and in addition it has a kind of iron radiation. These iron radiations of the nettle are almost as beneficial to the whole course of Nature as our own iron radiations in our blood. Truly, the stinging nettle is such a good fellow and does not deserve the contempt with which we often Look down on it where it grows wild in Nature. It should really grow around man's heart, for in the world outside — in its marvelous inner working and inner organisation — it is wonderfully similar to what the heart is in the human organism. The stinging nettle is the greatest boon.
Forgive me, Count Keyserlingk, if I become a little local in my references at this moment. But I would say, if ever it should be necessary in a certain sense to rid the soil of iron, you would do well to plant stinging nettles where they will do no harm. For in a certain sense the nettle plants would liberate the uppermost layers of the soil from the iron influence, because they are so fond of it and draw it into themselves. Though this might not undermine the iron as such, it would certainly undermine the influences of the iron on plant-growth in general. Hence it would undoubtedly be of great benefit to grow stinging nettles in this district. However, I only mention that in passing, to show you how important the mere presence of the stinging nettle may be for the growth of plants in the whole area around.
Now, to improve your manure still more, take any stinging nettles you can get, let them fade a little, press them together slightly, and use them in this case without any bladder or intestines. You simply bury the stuff in the earth. Add a slight layer of peat-moss or the like, so as to protect it from direct contact with the soil. Bury it straight in the earth, but take good note of the place, so that when you afterwards dig it out again you will not be digging out mere soil. There let it spend the winter and the following summer — it must be buried for a whole year.
This substantiality will now be extremely effective. Mix it with the manure, just as you did the other preparations. The general effect will be such that the manure becomes inwardly sensitive — truly sensitive and sentient, we might almost say intelligent. It will not suffer any undue decompositions to take place in it — any improper loss of nitrogen or the like.
This “condiment” will make the manure intelligent, nay, you will give it the faculty to make the earth itself intelligent — the earth into which the manure is worked. The soil will individualise itself in nice relationship to the particular plants which you are growing. It is like a permeation of the soil with reason and intelligence, which you can bring about by this addition of Urtica dioica.
What, after all, do they amount to — the customary modern methods of improving the manure? No doubt their first superficial effects are sometimes surprising, but the result will soon be that the alleged “excellent agricultural products” which you obtain thereby become mere stomach-filling for the human being. They will no longer have the proper nutritive power. You should not be deceived by the swollen size of any product. The point is that it should be inwardly consistent, with really nutritive intensity.
Now we may be concerned, here or there in our farming work, with the occurrence of plant diseases. I am speaking in general terms at the moment. Nowadays people are fond of specialisation in all things; therefore they speak of this disease or that. It is quite right to do so. If we pursue pure science, we must know what one thing or another looks like. Yet it is generally of little use for the doctor to be able to describe an illness ever so clearly. Far more important it is for him to be able to heal it, and in healing quite other points of view are important than those that the scientists generally have to-day in their description of diseases. We can attain the greatest perfection in the description of disease, we can know precisely what happens in the organism in terms of modern physiology or physiological chemistry; and yet we may still not be able to heal the disease at all. In healing we must proceed not from the histological or microscopic diagnosis, but from the great universal connections. And so it is in relation to plant-nature.
Moreover, plant-nature in this respect is simpler than animal or human nature; therefore our healing too can take — if I may say so — a more general course. For the plant world, we can indeed apply a kind of universal remedy. Indeed if it were not so, we should be in a very awkward position over against the vegetable world, as we often are over against the animals in veterinary work — of which, by the way, we shall still have to speak. This difficulty does not occur tn human healing, for a man can say what hurts him, while animals and plants can not. However, it is a fact that healing in this instance takes a more universal course. A large number of plant diseases, although not all, can be removed as soon as we observe them, by a rational improvement in our manuring, i.e. by the following methods.
We must bring calcium into the soil by our manure, But it will not be of use to bring the calcium to the soil by any channels that avoid the living sphere. To have a healing effect, the calcium must remain within the realm of life; it must not fall out of the living realm. Ordinary time or the like is of no use at all in this respect.
Now there is a plant containing plenty of calcium — 77 percent of the plant substance, albeit in a very fine state of combination. I refer to the oak — notably the rind of the oak, which represents an intermediate product between plant-nature and the living earthy nature, quite in the way I explained when I spoke of the kinship of the living earth with bark or rind. For calcium as it appears in this connection, the calcium-structure in the rind of the oak is absolutely ideal.
Now calcium, when it is still in the living state, not in the dead (though even in the dead it is effective) — calcium has the property which I explained once before. It restores order when the ether-body is working too strongly, that is, when the astral cannot gain access to the organic entity. It “kills” or damps down the ether-body, and thereby makes free the influences of the astral body. So it is with all limestone. But if we want a rampant ethereal development, of whatsoever kind, to withdraw in a regular manner — so that its shrinking is beautiful and regular and does not give rise to shocks in the organic life — then we must use the calcium in the very structure in which we find it in the bark of the oak.
We collect oak-bark, such as we can get. We do not need much — no more than can easily be obtained. We collect it and chop it up a little, till it has a crumb-like consistency. Then we take a skull — the skull of any of our domestic animals will do, it makes little or no difference. We put the chopped-up oak-bark in the skull, close it up again as well as possible with bony material, and lower it into the earth, but not too deep. We cover it over with peat-moss, and then introduce some kind of channel or water-pipe so as to let as much rain-water as possible flow into the place. (We might even do it as follows: Take a barrel where rain-water is constantly flowing in and out. Put in it vegetable matter such as will bring about the continued presence of some vegetable slime. Let the bony vessel which contains the crumbled oak-bark lie in the slime in the water). This, once again, must hibernate. Snow-water is just as good as rain-water. It must pass through the autumn and winter in this way. What you add to your manuring matter from the resulting mass will lend it the forces, prophylactically to combat or to arrest any harmful plant diseases.
So we have added four different things. All this requires a certain amount of work, it is true — yet if you think it over, after all it involves less work than all the devices that are pursued in the chemical laboratories of modern agriculture, which are also costly. You will soon see that from the point of view of national economy what we have here explained pays better.
But we shall also need something to attract the silicic acid from the whole cosmic environment, for we must have this silicic acid in the plant. Precisely with regard to silicic acid, the Earth gradually loses its power in the course of time. It loses it very slowly, therefore we do not notice it. Nor must you forget that those who only look at the microcosmic or microscopic and never at the microcosmic spheres, are unconcerned in any case about this loss of silicic acid; they think it insignificant for the growth of plants. In reality, it is of the greatest significance.
There is something you must know in this connection. For the scientists of to-day it will no longer argue such entire confusion on our part as it would have done a short time ago. Are not they themselves already speaking frankly of a transmutation of the elements? Observation of several elements has tamed the materialistic lion in this respect, if I may say so. Processes, however, that are taking place around us all the time are as yet utterly unknown. If they were known, people would more readily believe such things as I have just explained.
I know quite well, those who have studied academic agriculture from the modern point of view will say: “You have still not told us how to improve the nitrogen-content of the manure.” On the contrary, I have been speaking of it all the time, namely, in speaking of yarrow, camomile and stinging nettle. For there is a hidden alchemy in the organic process. This hidden alchemy really transmutes the potash, for example, into nitrogen, provided only that the potash is working properly in the organic process. Nay more, it even transforms into nitrogen the limestone, the chalky nature, if it is working rightly.
You know that in the growth of plants, all the four elements of which I have been speaking are involved. Hydrogen also is there, in addition to sulphur. I have told you of the significance of hydrogen. Now there is a mutual and qualitative relationship between the limestone and the hydrogen, similar to that between oxygen and nitrogen in the air.
Even externally, in a quantitative chemical analysis as it were, the relationship between the oxygen-nitrogen connection in the air, and the limestone-hydrogen connection in the organic processes, might well be revealed. The fact is that under the influence of hydrogen, limestone and potash are constantly being transmuted into something very little nitrogen, and at length into actual nitrogen. And the nitrogen which is formed in this way is of the greatest benefit to plant-growth. We must enable it to be thus engendered by methods such as I have here described.
Silicic acid contains silicon as you know, and silicon, too, is transmuted in the living organism — transmuted into a substance of great importance, which, however, is not yet included among the chemical elements at all. Silicon is transmuted. In time, we need the silicic acid to attract and draw in the cosmic properties. Now in the plant there simply must arise a clear and visible interaction between the silicic acid and the potassium — not the calcium. By the whole way in which we manure the soil, we must quicken it, so that the soil itself will aid in this relationship.
We must now look for a plant which by its own relationship between potassium and silicic acid can impart to the dung — once more, if added to it in a kind of homoeopathic dose — the corresponding power. And we can find it. This, too, is a plant which if it only grows among our farms, has a most beneficial influence in this direction. It is none other than the common dandelion (taraxacum officinale).
The innocent yellow dandelion! In whatever district it grows, it is the greatest boon; for it mediates between the silicic acid finely, homoeopathically distributed in the Cosmos, and that which is needed as silicic acid throughout the given district of the Earth. Truly this dandelion is a kind of messenger of Heaven. But if we need it especially — if we want to make it effective in the manure we must use it in the right way. To this end — it will almost go without saying at this stage — we must expose the dandelion to the influences of the Earth, and in the winter season.
Here, too, we must gain the surrounding forces by a similar treatment as in the other cases. Gather the little yellow heads of the dandelion and let them fade a little. Press them together, sew them up in a bovine mesentery, and lay them in the earth throughout the winter.
In springtime you take the balls out, and you can keep them now until you need them. They are now thoroughly saturated with cosmic influences. The substance you get out of them can once again be added to the dung, and in a similar way. It will give the soil the faculty to attract just as much silicic acid from the atmosphere and from the Cosmos as the plants need, to make them really sentient to all that is at work in their environment. For they of themselves will then attract what they need.
To be able to grow truly, the plants must have a kind of sensation. Even as I, a human being, can pass a dull fellow by and he will not notice me, so too all that is in the soil and above it will pass a dull plant by, and the plant will fall to Sense it; will not, therefore, enlist it in the Service of its growth. But if the plant is thus finely permeated and vitalised with silicic acid, it will grow sensitive to all things, and will draw to itself all that it needs.
We can easily bring the plant into such a condition that it only needs a limited environment — immediately around it in the soil — to draw to itself what it needs. But it is not good to do so. Treat the soil of the earth as I have now described, and the plant will be prepared to draw things to itself from a wide circle. Your plant will then benefit not only by what is in the tilled field itself, whereon it grows, but also by that which is in the soil of the adjacent meadow, or of the neighbouring wood or forest. That is what happens, once it has thus become inwardly sensitive. We can bring about a wonderful interplay in Nature, by giving the plants the forces which tend to come to them through the dandelion in this way.
And so I think you should try to create good manures, by adding these five ingredients — or suitable substitutes — to your manuring matter in the way indicated. Manures in future should not be treated with all manner of chemicals, but with these five: yarrow, camomile, stinging-nettle, oak-bark and dandelion. Such a manure will have very much of what is actually needed.
Now you have one more river to cross. Before you make use,of the manure thus prepared, press out the flowers of Valerian. 2Valeriana officinallis. Dilute the extract very highly. (You can do it at any time and keep it, especially if you use warm water in dilution). Add this diluted juice of the Valerian flower to the manure in very fine proportions. There you will stimulate it to behave in the right way in relation to what we call the “phosphoric” substance.
With the help of these six ingredients you can produce an excellent manure — whether from liquid manure, or ordinary farmyard-manure, or compost.
Question: When you speak of the bladder of the stag, are you referring to the male animal?
Question: Do you mean the annual or the perennial nettle?
Answer: Urtica dioica.
Question: Is it right to roof in the manure-pit in districts where there is much rain?
Answer: The manure ought to be able to stand any ordinary amount of rain. It is not good for it to get no rain-water at all. On the other hand, it should not be thoroughly washed out with rain; that, of course, would harm it. You cannot decide by hard-and-fast rules. Generally speaking, rain-water is good for manure.
Question: Should not the place where the manure is stored be walled-in and covered over to prevent the loss of the manure-juice?
Answer: In a certain sense, the manure needs rain-water. The only thing is, it might sometimes be well to keep the rain off a little by spreading granulated peat over the top. There is no purpose in keeping the rain away altogether by roofing it in. That would undoubtedly deteriorate the manure.
Question: If plant-growth is stimulated to such an extent by the manuring methods you have indicated, are cultivated plants and so-called weeds equally stimulated? Must any special methods be adopted to destroy the weeds?
Answer: In the first place the question is justified, needless to say, and I shall speak of the combatting of weeds in the next few days. What I have given you so far is favourable to plant-growth in general; you would not thereby put an end to the growth of weeds. On the other hand, it will make the plants far more secure against any parasitic pests that might occur. Here you have already the remedy against such parasitic pests as may occur in the plant kingdom. The combatting of weeds, on the other hand, does not arise out of the principles which we have hitherto discussed. The weed naturally shares in the general plant-growth. We shall yet have to speak on this subject. The whole thing is so intimately connected that it would not be well to pick out any special aspect now.
Question: What do you hold of the method of Captain Krantz? By piling it up in loose layers, and taking advantage of the spontaneous generation of warmth, the manure is also made odourless.
Answer: I have purposely refrained from speaking of what is already being done on rational lines. I wanted to give the inspirations which can come from Spiritual Science for the improvement of every such method. The one you refer to has many advantages, no doubt, but I believe it is comparatively new; it is not a very old method. And it may be this is also one of the methods which appear a dazzling success to begin with, but do not prove quite so practical in course of time. When the soil has its tradition, so to speak, everything will in a way refresh it; but when you apply the same method for a longer time, it is often as it is in medicine. When a medicament comes into the body for the first time, why, the most unbelievable medicaments are helpful the first time you take them! But then the curative effect is at an end. Here too it always takes some time before you recognise that it is not as you were first led to believe.
The one thing of importance is the spontaneous generation of warmth. The activity that must come into play for the generation of this warmth is exceedingly good for the manure; of that there can be no doubt. This activity cannot but lead to good results. Possible disadvantages might arise from the manure being piled up loosely; nor do I know if it is quite literally true, as you suggest, that it becomes quite odourless. If you do really get it odourless, it would indicate that the method is really good and beneficial. I believe it has not been tried for many years.
Question: Is it not better to pile up the manure above the earth than to sink it in a pit below the level of the ground?
Answer: In principle it is generally right to put it as high as possible. You should not, however, put it too high; you must still keep it in proper relation to the forces that are there beneath the earth. You cannot actually put it on a hillock, but you can build it up from the normal level of the ground; that will give you the most favourable height.
Question: Can the same compost methods be applied to the vine which has suffered so much in recent times?
Answer: Yes, but with modifications. I shall mention some modifications when I come to speak of fruit- and vine-growing. Generally speaking, what I have given to-day applies to the improvement of every kind of manure. I have indicated what will improve manure in general. The specific modifications of these methods for meadow- and pasture-land, cereal crops, orchards and vineyards still remain to be dealt with.
Question: Is it right to have the manure-ground paved or plastered?
Answer: From all that one can know of the whole structure of the earth and its relation to the manure, it would be utterly wrong. I cannot see why it should be paved. If your manure-ground is paved or plastered, you should hollow out a space all around so as to leave room for the interplay of the manure with the earth. Why deteriorate the manure by separating it from the earth?
Question: Has the ground beneath it any influence — whether, for instance, it he sandy or clayey? Sometimes the ground layer of the place where the manure is to be kept is covered with clay so as to make it impervious.
Answer: Undoubtedly the different kinds of earth will have their influence, according to their specific properties as kinds of earth. If there is sandy ground where you want to store the manure, it will be necessary to fill it in with a little clay. For the sand is pervious and will suck in the water. If, on the other hand, you have a very clayey soil, you should loosen it a little, and sprinkle in some sand. For a medium effect, always take a layer of sand and a layer of clay. Then you have both — the inner consistency of the earth kingdom and also the watery influences. Otherwise the water will trickle away. A mixture of the two kinds of earth will be the best. For the same reason you should not choose a ground of “Loess” to pile up your manure-heap — not if you can avoid it. “Loess,” or the like, will not be very helpful. In such a case it will be better to create in course of time an artificial ground for your manure-heap.
Question: As to the cultivation of the plants you mentioned yarrow, camomile, the stinging nettle — could they be introduced into a district by scattering the seed, if they did not happen to be growing there already? In cattle-farming we have generally assumed that yarrow and dandelion too are dangerous for cattle. We therefore wanted to exterminate these plants as far as possible — likewise the thistle. Indeed we are now engaged in doing so. I presume we should now have to sow them again along the edges of the fields, but not in the meadows and pastures?
Question by Dr. Steiner: But how should they be harmful as animal food?
Count Keyserlingk: Yarrow is said to contain poisonous substances. Dandelion is said to be not good for cattle.
Dr. Steiner: You should watch it carefully. On the open field, an animal will not eat it if it is really harmful.
Count Lerchenfeld: We in our district do the very opposite. We treat the dandelion as good fodder for milk cattle.
Dr. Steiner: These are sometimes mere prevalent opinions; nobody knows if they have ever been tested. It is possible, no doubt, that in the hay ... — it would have to be tested — I think, if it were harmful, an animal would leave the hay untouched. An animal will not eat what is not good for it.
Question: Has not yarrow largely been removed by the large doses of lime? Yarrow surely needs a moist and acid soil?
Answer: If you use wild yarrow, a very small quantity will suffice, even for a large estate. It has a peculiar, homoeopathic effect. If you had some yarrow in the garden here, it would be enough for the whole estate.
Question: I for my part have observed that the young dandelion, shortly before flowering, is very gladly eaten by all cattle. Afterwards, however, when it has begun to blossom, the cattle will no longer take it.
Answer: You must always remember the following: this, at least, is the general rule. An animal will not eat dandelion if it is harmful. An animal's feeding instinct is excellent.
You must also bear this in mind. We too, when we wish to stimulate something that depends on a living process, will almost always use what we should not use by itself. For instance, no one would eat yeast as his daily food; yet it is used in baking bread. A thing that even can act as a poison when consumed in large doses will, under other conditions, have the most beneficial effects. After all, medicines are generally poisonous.
The process — not the substance — is important. Thus I believe you can well get over your misgivings about the dandelions doing harm to your animals. So many strange ideas are prevalent. It is curious: here, on the one hand, the harmfulness of the dandelion is emphasised by Count Keyserlingk, while on the other hand, Count Lerchenfeld describes it as the best of milch-fodder. The effects cannot possibly be so different in two such neighbouring countries; one or another of the two opinions must be wrong.
Question: Perhaps it is a question of the underlying basis? My statement was founded on veterinary opinions. Ought we then purposely to plant yarrow and dandelion on our pasture and meadowland?
Answer: Quite a small surface will suffice.
Question: Does it depend on how long the preparations are kept with the manure, after taking them out of the earth?
Answer: Once they are mixed with the manure it is meaningless to ask how long they should be kept in it. But it should all have been done before the manure is spread over the fields.
Question: Should the manure-preparations be put into the earth all together, or each one separately.
Answer: That is of some importance. While the interaction is going on, the one preparation should not be allowed to disturb the other. Therefore it is well to dig them in some distance apart. If I had to do it on a small estate, I should dig them in as far as possibly from one another, so as to prevent their interfering with each other. I should look for the most distant parts around the edge of the estate. On a large estate you can choose the distances as you will.
Question: Does it matter if the earth above the preparations is overgrown, once they are buried?
Answer: The earth can do as it likes. It is quite good if it is grown over. It may even be overgrown with cultivated plants.
Question: How should the preparations be dealt with in the manure-heap?
Answer: I should advise the following procedure. Prick a hole about a foot deep, or a little deeper, in a large pile of manure, so that the manure can (lose up again around the stuff. You need not make it as deep as a metre, but the manure ought to be able to (lose up again round the preparations. For it is like this (Diagram 10): If this is the pile of manure, and you have here a little of the preparation ... it all depends on the radiations. The rays go out like this; it is not well if the stuff is too near the surface. The radiation is thrown back from the surface; it returns in a definite curve. It does not go outside, provided the manure closes up around the substance. Half a metre (about 18 inches) will suffice. If it is too near the surface, a considerable portion of the rays of force will be lost.
Question: Is it enough if you only make a very few holes, or should the preparations be distributed as widely as possible?
Answer: It is better to distribute them — not to make all the holes in one place. Otherwise the radiations may interfere with each other.
Question: Should all the preparations be put into the manure at the same time?
Answer: When you are putting the preparations in the manure heap, you can put in the one beside the other. They do not influence each other; they only influence the manure as such.
Question: Can the preparations all be put into one hole?
Answer: Theoretically, even if all the preparations were put into one hole, one might presume that they would not disturb each other; but I should not like to make this statement a priori. You can put them in fairly close together, but they might alter all interfere with each other, if you mixed them all up in a single hole.
Question: What kind of oak did you mean?
Answer: Quercus robur.
Question: Must the bark be taken from a living tree, or will a felled tree do?
Answer: As far as possible from a living tree; nay, more, from a tree in which you may presume that the “oak resin” is still pretty active.
Question: Is it the whole of the bark?
Answer: No, only the surface — the outermost layer of bark which crumbles off of its own accord when you loosen it.
Question: In burying the manure preparations, is it absolutely necessary to go no deeper than the fertile layer? Or could one bury the cow-horns even deeper?
Answer: It is better to leave them in the fertile layer. Indeed it may be presumed that in the subsoil underneath the fertile layer they would no longer provide fruitful material. You should, however, consider that the best possible condition would be provided by a layer of fertile soil as deep as you can find. Look for a place where the fertile layer is deepest — that will undoubtedly be the best. Beneath the fertile layer you will get no beneficial effect.
Question: Within the fertile layer they will always be exposed to the frost. Will that do no harm?
Answer: If exposed to the frost, they come into the very time when the earth, by virtue of the frost, is most intensely exposed to cosmic influences.
Question: How should you grind down the quartz or the silica? In a small grinding-mill, or in a mortar?
Answer: In this case the best thing will be to do it first in a mortar; and you will need an iron pestle. Grind it down in the mortar to a fine, mealy consistency. If it is quartz, having ground it down as far as possible in this way, you will even need to continue grinding it afterwards on a glass surface. It must be a very fine meal, and that is not easy to attain with quartz.
Question: Farming experience shows that a well-nourished head of cattle puts on substance which was lacking. There must therefore be a relation between the actual feeding and the absorption of nutritive substance from the atmosphere?
Answer: You need only observe what I said. In the absorption of food, the forces developed by the body are the essential thing. Thus it depends on the receiving of proper food, whether or no the animal develops sufficient forces to be able to receive and assimilate the substances from the atmosphere.
You may compare it with this: If you have a very close-fitting glove to put on, you cannot do it by sheer force. You wedge the glove out with a wooden instrument; you thus extend and stretch it. So too in this case; the forces have to be made pliant and supple. Such forces must first be there, for the creature to receive from the atmosphere what it does not get from the actual food. The food is there to stretch the organism, so to speak, thus enabling it to receive all the more from the atmosphere. This may even lead to hypertrophy if too much is taken, and you would pay for it by the shorter duration of the creature's life. There is a happy mean here, too, between the maximum and minimum.