14 June, 1924 Koberwitz
My dear friends,
The further course of our studies must be based on such insight as we have already gained into plant-growth, and into animal Formations too. Aphoristically at least, we must now consider a few among the spiritual-scientific ideas that relate to harmful plants and animals and to what are commonly called plant diseases. These things can only be studied in concrete detail. Very little can be said in general terms; they must all be specifically dealt with. Therefore, to begin with, I will give examples which — taken as the starting-point for your experiments — will lead you on to further instances.
First let me deal with weeds and harmful plants in general. We are not so much concerned to define “weeds.” We only want an insight into the problem, how to rid a given field or area of plants which we do not want to have there. You know, one sometimes has strange harkings-back to one's student days. Thus I endeavoured, though with no great enthusiasm, to look up a few text-books to see how they defined “the weed.” Most of the authors, I found, if they tried to define what a weed is, described it thus: “Everything that grows at a place where you do not want it is a weed” — a definition which certainly does not take us very far into the essence of the matter.
Indeed, we shall have little good fortune in considering the essence of “weeds” as such — for the simple reason that in Nature's judgment a weed has just as much right to grow as a plant which we find useful. These things must be looked at from a somewhat different point of view. The simple question is, how can we rid a certain field or area of what will naturally grow there through the prevailing conditions of Nature, while we do not want it there?
We can only answer this question by taking into account what we have dealt with in the past few days. I showed how we must strictly distinguish between the forces that are there in the growth of plants — forces which, though they come from the Cosmos, are first received into the earth and then work from the earth upon plant-growth. As I said, the forces which are mainly due to the cosmic influences of Mercury, Venus and Moon (though they do not work directly from there planets, but by the round-about way of the Earth) — these are the forces we must consider when we are tracing what produces the daughter-plant after the mother-plant and so on in succession. While on the other hand, in all that the plant derives from the surrounding sphere, from that which is over the earth, we must perceive the workings and potentialities which the more distant planets transmit to the air, which are in this way received.
Moreover, speaking in a wider sense we may say: All the forces that work into the earth from the near planets are influenced by the chalk-or limestone-workings of the earth, while that which works from the surrounding sphere is influenced by the workings of silica. Although the silica influences proceed from the earth itself, nevertheless they transmit what proceeds originally from Jupiter, Mars and Saturn — not what proceeds from Moon, Venus and Mercury. Nowadays, people are altogether unaccustomed to take these things into account. They pay the penalty for their ignorance. Indeed, in many regions of the civilised world a heavy penalty has been paid for this ignorance of the cosmic influences — ignorance both of the cosmic influence when it works through the air through all that lies above the level of the ground, and of the cosmic influence when it works from below through the mediation of the earth. They have had to pay the penalty for this lack of insight.
It happened in widespread regions of civilisation. (It may be of no concern to you, but it is a very grave concern for many people). They had exhausted all the resources that were once upon a time applied. They had exhausted all that had been done since ancient times by an old instinctive science. Not only the soil of the Earth was exhausted — the traditions too were exhausted, though sometimes simple peasant folk would lend a helping hand. So it has come about: far and wide, the vine plantations have been subjected to the ravages of the grape-louse, 1Phylloxera vastatrix and they are pretty helpless against it. I could tell you a tale of the editorial offices of a Viennese agricultural paper in the 1880's. They were approached from every side to find a remedy against the grape-louse, and they were at a loss. For by that time the plague had grown acute. These things cannot be treated thoroughly by the scientific methods of to-day. They can only be dealt with effectively by entering into all that can be known along the lines which we have indicated here.
Let me show it diagrammatically (Diagram 11). Imagine this as the level of the earth's surface. Here we have all the influences that come in from the Cosmos — from Venus, Mercury and Moon — and ray back again, working upward from below. Everything that works in the earth in this way causes the plants to bring forth what grows in a single year and culminates in seed-formation. From the seed a new plant arises, and a third, and so on. Once more then: everything that works from the Cosmos in this way flows out into the reproductive forces — into the sequence of generations.
On the other hand there is all that which comes by another way — above the level of the earth — all that which comes from the forces of the distant planets. Diagrammatically we can draw it thus: it represents all that is transformed in the plant so that it spreads out and expands in the surrounding circle. Here therefore we have what makes the plant look thick or bulky — i.e. what we can take away as nourishment, because a continuous stream reforms it, ever anew. I mean, for example, what we take from the apple- or the peach-tree—the fleshy fruit which we consume. All this is due to the influences of the distant planets.
Such insight alone will tell us how to act if we wish to influence the plant's growth in a particular way. It is only by taking these varied forces into account that we gain an idea, how we can influence the plant's growth. Now a large number of plants — notably those which we ordinarily count as weeds — are greatly influenced by the workings of the Moon. These are often medicinal plants. Precisely among the “weeds,” so-called, we often find the strongest curative herbs.
What do we know of the Moon in ordinary life? We know that it receives the rays of the Sun upon its surface and throws them back again on to the earth. We see the rays of the Sun reflected — we catch them with our eyes — and the Earth, too, of course, receives These rays from the Moon. It is the rays of the Sun which are thus reflected, but of course the Moon permeates them with its own forces. They come to the Earth as lunar forces, and so they have done ever since the Moon separated from the Earth.
Now in the Cosmos it is just this lunar forte which strengthens and intensifies all that is earthly. Indeed, when the Moon was united with the Earth, the Earth itself was far more living, fruiting, inherently fertile. When the Moon was still one with the Earth there was nothing so mineral as we have to-day. Even now, after its severance, the Moon works so as to intensify the normal vitality of the Earth, which is still just enough to bring about the growth in living creatures. The Moon intensifies it, thus enhancing the growth process to the point of reproduction.
Whenever a being grows, it becomes larger. In this process the very same force is at work as in reproduction. Only in growth it does not go so far as to bring forth a fresh being of the same species. It brings forth cell upon cell. That is a feebler reproductive process — one that remains within the limits of the single entity. What we commonly call reproduction is an enhanced growth-process.
Now the Earth by itself is still just able to transmit that feeble reproductive process which growth represents; but it has no power, without the Moon's assistance, to produce the enhanced growth process of reproduction. Here it requires the cosmic forces shining in upon the Earth through the Moon — and, in the case of certain plants, through Mercury and Venus too. As I said, people commonly imagine that the Moon merely receives the Sun's rays and throws. them down on to the Earth. In considering the Moon's effect they only think of the Sunlight; but that is not the only thing that comes to the Earth.
With the Moon's rays the whole reflected Cosmos comes on to the Earth. All influences that pour on to the Moon are rayed back again. Thus the whole starry Heavens—though we may not be able to prove it by the customary physical methods of to-day—are in a sense rayed back on to the Earth by the Moon. It is indeed a strong and powerfully organising cosmic force which the Moon rays down into the plant, so that the seeding process of the plant may also be assisted; so that the force of growth may be enhanced into the force of reproduction.
However, all this is only there for a given district of the Earth when it is Full Moon. When it is new Moon, the country does not enjoy the benefit of the Moon-influences. It only holds fast in the plants, during the new Moon, what they received at the Full Moon. Indeed, we should attain important results if we only tried to see what progress we could make by using the Moon, let us say, in sowing — i.e. for the very earliest germinating activity within the Earth. So the old Indians used to do until the nineteenth century. They also sowed according to the phases of the Moon.
However, Nature is not so cruel as to punish man forthwith for his slight inattention and discourtesy to the Moon in sowing and in reaping. We have the Full Moon twelve times a year, and that is adequate for a sufficiency of the full-Moon influences, i.e. of the forces that quicken the fruiting process. If on any occasion we perform what tends to fertilisation, not at the full Moon but at the new, it will simply wait in the Earth till the next full Moon. So it gets over our human errors and takes its cue from great Nature.
This is sufficient for men to make use of the Moon all unawares. But that is all — and we get no farther along these lines. Treated in this way, the weeds will demand their rights just as much as the vegetables, and everything grows confused, for we are strangers to the forces that regulate growth. We must first enter into them. Then we shall know that by using the fully evolved Moon-force we work for the reproduction of all vegetable life, i.e. for that which shoots up from the root, right up into the seed-formation. Thus we shall get the strongest of weeds if we let the kind Moon work down upon them — if we do nothing to arrest its influence upon our weeds. For there are wet years when the Moon-forces work more than in the dry. The weeds will then reproduce themselves and increase greatly.
If on the other hand, we reckon with these cosmic forces, then we shall say to ourselves: We must contrive to check the full influence of the Moon upon the weeds. That is to say, we must only let work upon them the influences coming from without — not the Moon influences, but those that work directly. Then we shall set a Limit to the propagation of the weeds; they will be unable to reproduce themselves. Now we cannot “switch off” the Moon. Therefore we treat the soil in such a way that the earth is disinclined to receive the lunar influences. Indeed, not only the earth, but the plants; too (i.e. the weeds) can thus become disinclined to receive the lunar influences. We can make the weeds reluctant, in a sense, to grow in earth which has thus been treated. If we attain this end, we have all that we need.
You see the weeds growing rampant in a given year. You must accept the fact. Do not be alarmed; say to yourself: Something must now be done. So now you gather a number of seeds of the weed in question. For in the seed the force of which I have just spoken has reached its final culmination. Now light a flame — a simple wood flame is best — and burn the seeds. Carefully gather all the resulting ash. You get comparatively little ash, but that does not matter. Quite literally, for the plants thus treated by letting their seeds pass through the fire and turn to ash, you will have concentrated in the ash the very opposite force to that which is developed in attracting the Moon-forces.
Now use the tiny amount of substance you have thus prepared from a variety of weeds, and scatter it over your fields. You need not take especial care in doing so, for these things work in a wide circumference. Already in the second year you will see, there is far less of the kind of weed you have thus treated. It no longer grows as rampantly. Moreover, many things in Nature being subject to a cycle of four years, after the fourth year you will see, if you continue sprinkling the pepper year by year, the weed will have ceased to exist on the field in question. Here, in fact, you will make fruitful the “effects of smallest entities,” which have now been scientifically proven in our Biological Institute.
Much might be attained in this way. Quite generally speaking, you have far-reaching possibilities if you really reckon on these influences which remain unconsidered nowadays. Thus, for the dandelion which you need as I explained yesterday, you can perfectly well plant it where you want it, and use the dandelion-seed. Repeat this fire-process with it, prepare your little pepper and scatter it over the fields. Then you will have the dandelions where you want them, and at the same time keep the fields, thus treated with burnt dandelion, free of the dandelion plant.
People to-day will not believe it; such things were known and mastered once upon a time by an instinctive farming wisdom. They could plant together, in circumscribed areas, whatever they wanted to have. They knew of these things instinctively.
In all these matters, I can only give indications, but as you see, these indications are capable of direct practical application. And as there is still the prevailing judgment — I will not call it prejudice that all things must be subsequently verified, good and well! Set to work and try to verify them. If you do the experiments rightly, you will soon see them confirmed. If I had a farm, however, I should not wait to see them verified. I should apply the method at once, for I am sure that it will work. So it is for me. Spiritual-scientific truths are true in themselves, we need not have them confirmed by other circumstances or by external methods.
Our scientists have all made this mistake of looking to external methods to verify these truths. In the Anthroposophical Society, too, our scientists have done so. They at least should have known better; they should have known that a thing can be true in itself. However, to get anywhere nowadays we must always verify things externally. It is no doubt a necessary compromise; in principle it is not necessary. One knows of these things inwardly. They stand inherently, by their own quality — that is how one knows them.
To take another illustration. Suppose I have something manufactured by fifty workers. I say to myself: I want to produce three times as much, therefore I will employ 150. Now comes a clever fellow and declares, I do not believe that 150 workers will produce three times as much; you must first put it to the test. Let us suppose you make the experiment. You get your work done — whatever it may be — first by one, then by two and then by three people, and now you tell statistically how much the three get done between them. Well, if so be they spent their time in chattering, they may have done even less than the one worker. Your premiss is wrong; your experiment has proved the opposite. But it proves nothing in reality. If you are working exactly, you must consider the other case with equal exactitude. If you do so, whatever is inherently true will beyond doubt be outwardly confirmed.
Thus we can speak, more in general terms, of the harmful plants or vegetable pests of the field. But we can no longer speak so generally when we come to the animal pests. Let me choose one example — a characteristic instance, whereon you can make your experiments and see how these things are confirmed in practice.
There is a very good friend of the farmer — the field-mouse. What do they not try to do to fight against it! Read of it in the agricultural text-books. To begin with, all manner of phosphorus preparations were used; then, other things, such as the “Strychnine-Saccharine” preparations. Nay, an even more radical method has been proposed, namely, to infect the field-mice with typhus. Certain bacilli, harmful only to rodents, are added to mashed potatoes and the bait is distributed. Such things have also been done — at least, they have been recommended.
So they try to get at these happy, simple-looking little creatures in untold ways — by methods which do not look very humane, to say the least. They try to attack the mice once they are there. I think even the State is being set in motion. When you attack the mice in this way, it is no good unless the neighbouring farmer also does so, for they only come back from the neighbouring field; and so the State must be called in to see that everyone is compelled to drive the mice away by standard methods. The State will have no modifications. It makes its regulations once for all. Once it has judged a method right — no matter whether it is so or not — it decrees that everyone must do it. It issues general regulations.
All these are mere external rulings and experiments at random, and one has an underlying feeling: the experimenters themselves are not quite happy about it. For in the end the mice always come back again. What we need to do in this case is also not quite applicable on a single estate by itself, though to some extent it may help even then. It will not be very easy to carry out. One will have to work towards a general insight, so that one's neighbours too will do it. (I venture to say that in the future we must look far more to intelligent insight than to police regulations. That will be progress in our social life).
And now, imagine that you do the following: You catch a fairly young mouse and skin it, so as to get the skin. There you have the skin of a fairly young mouse. (There are always enough mice albeit, they must be field-mice if you wish to make this experiment). But you must obtain this skin of the field-mouse at a time when Venus is in the sign of Scorpio.
Those people of olden time, you see, were not so stupid with their instinctive science! Now that we are passing from plants to animals, we come to the “animal circle” — that is, the “Zodiac.” It was not called so in a meaningless way. To attain our end within the plant world we can stop at the planetary system. For the animal world, that is not enough. There we need ideal that reckon with the surrounding sphere of the fixed stars, notably the fixed stars of the Zodiac.
Moreover, in the growth of plants the Moon-influence is well nigh sufficient to bring about the reproductive process. In the animal kingdom, on the other hand, the Moon-influence must be supported by that of Venus. Nay, for the animal kingdom the Moon influence does not need to be considered very much. For the animal kingdom conserves the lunar forces; it emancipates itself from the Moon. The Moon-force is developed in the animal kingdom even when it does not happen to be full Moon. The animal carries the force of the full Moon within it, conserves it, and so emancipates itself from limitations of time.
This does not apply to what we here have to do; it does not apply to the other planetary forces. For you must do something quite definite with the mouse-skin. At the time when Venus is in Scorpio, you obtain the skin of the mouse and burn it. Carefully collect the ash and the other constituents that remain over from the burning. It will not be much, but if you have a number of mice, it is enough. You can easily get enough.
Thus you obtain your burned mouse-skin at the time when Venus is in Scorpio. And there remain, in what is thus destroyed by the fire, the corresponding negative force as against the reproductive power of the field-mouse. Take the pepper you get in this way, and sprinkle it over your fields. In some districts it may be difficult to carry out; then you can afford to do it even more homoeopathically; you do not need a whole plateful.
Provided it has been led through the fire at the high conjunction of Venus and Scorpio, you will find this an excellent remedy. Henceforth, your mice will avoid the field. No doubt they are cheeky little beasts; they will soon come out again if the pepper has been so sprinkled that a few areas remain unpeppered in the neighbourhood. There they will settle down again. Undoubtedly the influence of it rays out far and wide; nevertheless, it may not have been done quite thoroughly. But the effect will certainly be radical if the same is done in the whole neighbourhood.
I venture to think that you will have considerable pleasure in such things. You may begin to find your farming very tasty — like certain dishes are when they have been a little peppered. So we begin really to reckon with the influences of the stars without becoming superstitious in the least. Many things afterwards became mere superstition, which were originally knowledge. You cannot warm-up the old superstitions. You must make a fresh start with genuine knowledge. This knowledge, however, must be gained in a spiritual way — not through the mere physical world-of-the-senses.
This is the way to treat the earth, if you have to combat field vermin which can be reckoned in any sense among the higher animals. Mice are rodents; they are included among the higher animals. But you will not do much with the insects in this way. Insects are subject to different cosmic influences. Indeed, all the lower animals are subject to different cosmic influences than the higher animals. And now for once allow me to tread upon thin ice and mention the nematode of the root crops as an example; so you will have something near at hand.
The so-called “beginning” of the disease is seen in the well known swellings of the rootlet and in the limpness of the leaves in the morning. That is the external sign. Now we must remember that this middle part (it is the leaves that here suffer a change) absorbs the cosmic influences from the air; whereas the roots absorb those forces which come into the plants from the cosmos via the Earth.
What happens now, when the nematode appears? The absorption of cosmic forces which should normally be going on in the region of the leaves is pressed downward, into a region where it eventually comes near to the roots. Diagrammatically speaking, we may say (Diagram 12), if this be the surface of the earth, and this the plant, then — in the nematode-infested plant — the cosmic forces which should be working up above are working down here below. This is the real phenomenon. Certain cosmic forces are sliding too far down. Hence, too, the outward appearance of the plant. But this too gives the animal the power to receive within the earth, where it must live, the cosmic forces upon which its life depends. For it would otherwise have to be living in the leaves. (The nematode is a wire-like worm). But it cannot live up there, for the earth is its natural domain.
Some living creatures, nay, all living creatures have this peculiarity: they can only live within certain limits of existence. You try to live in an air whose temperature is seventy degrees centigrade, hot or cold, above or below zero. You cannot do it. You depend on a certain temperature. Above and beneath this level you can no longer live. Nor can the nematode. It cannot live if the earth is not there, nor can it live unless the cosmic forces are there at the same time. Otherwise it would have to die out. Thus, for each living creature, there are quite definite conditions. The human race too would die out if it were not for certain conditions.
Now for the creatures that evolve in this particular way, it is important for the cosmic element which normally makes itself felt only in the Earth's surrounding sphere, to come right down into the Earth. Moreover, these influences take place in periods of four years. The nematode is something highly abnormal. To recognise its nature, we might equally well investigate the cockchafer-grubs which come in cycles of four years. The forces are the same in both cases. The very same forces which give the Earth the tendency to unfold the potato-seedling — these forces the Earth also receives for the formation of the cockchafer-grubs, which occur with the potatoes every four years. Wherever this is so, we have a four years' cycle. Though it does not apply to the nematode itself, it certainly applies to what we must do in counteracting it.
In this case you do not take part of the insect as you do with the mouse. You must take the entire insect. An insect like this, which settles harmfully in the plant-root, is altogether an outcome of cosmic influences; it only needs the Earth as its underlying basis. Therefore you must burn the whole insect. It is best to burn it; that is the quickest way. You might also let it decay; possibly this would be even more thorough, only it is difficult to collect the products of decay. But you will certainly attain what you need by burning the whole insect.
Now it is necessary to perform this operation when the Sun is in the sign of Taurus. (If need be, you can keep the insect and burn t when the time comes). This, you sec, is precisely the opposite of the constellation in which Venus must be when you prepare your mouse-skin pepper. In effect, the insect world is connected with the forces that evolve when the Sun is passing through Aquarius, Pisces, Aries and Gemini and on to Cancer. In Cancer it appears quite feebly, and it is feeble again when you come to Aquarius. It is while passing through these regions that the Sun rays out the forces which relate to the insect world.
People are unaware what a specialised thing the Sun is. The Sun is not really the same when in the course of a year or a day it shines on to the Earth from Taurus, or from Cancer, or the other constellations. In each case it is different. It is comparative nonsense to speak of the Sun in general terms — albeit, pardonable nonsense. We should really speak of Aries-Sun, Taures-Sun, Cancer-Sun, Sun, and so on. For the Sun is a different being in each case. moreover, the resultant influence depends both on the daily course on the yearly course of the Sun, as determined by its position in vernal point.
If you do this — if you thus prepare your insect-pepper — once again you can spread it out over the beet-fields, and the nematode will by and by grow faint — a faintness you will certainly find very effective after the fourth year. For by that time the nematode can no longer live. It shuns life if it has to live in an earth thus peppered.
In a strange way we come again to what was formerly described as “Wisdom of the Stars.” Modern astronomy serves as a mere mathematical orientation, nor can we put it to any other use. It was not so in former ages. Time was when they saw in the stars something from which they could take their direction for earthly life and work. Such science is utterly lost to-day.
In this way, therefore, we can also hold the animal pests at bay. It is important for us to come into relation to the Earth in this way. We must be aware of these things. On the one hand, it is right that the Earth should receive the faculty to bring forth plant-life out of itself. This faculty the Earth receives, as we have seen, mainly through the Moon- and watery-influences. But that which is in the plant — nay, that which is in every living being — also carries within it the seed of its own annihilation.
Just as water on the one hand is a sine qua non of all fertility, so on the other hand, fire is an absolute destroyer of fertility. Fire consumes fertility. Therefore, if you treat by fire in the proper way that which is normally treated by water to bring about fertility in the plant-world, you will bring about destruction — annihilation in the household of Nature. These are the things you must consider. A seed will develop fertility far and wide through the Moon-saturated water; likewise a seed will develop forces of annihilation far and wide through the Moon-saturated fire — and altogether, through the cosmically-saturated fire, as we have seen in the last example.
After all, our reckoning upon this great force of dispersal (while pointing out the precise effects of time in the process) need not seem utterly strange to you. The force of the seed always works in dispersal and expansion. Hence, in the force of annihilation too, it works far and wide. Expansive power lies inherent in seed-nature. It is the very property of the seed to have this power of dispersal; so, too, the pepper we prepare in this way has a real expansive power. (I only call it pepper on account of its appearance. The preparations generally look like pepper).
It only remains for us to consider so-called plant diseases. Properly speaking, we cannot really say “plant diseases.” The rather abnormal processes which occur as plant-diseases are not diseases in the same sense as in animal diseases. (We shall understand the difference more exactly when we come to the animal kingdom). Notably, they are not at all the same kind of process as in human diseases.
Properly speaking, disease is not possible without the presence of an astral body. In an animal or human being, the astral body is connected with the physical through the ethereal. There is a certain normal condition. The astral body may be connected more intensely with the physical (or with any one of its organs) than it should normally be. In such a case, the ether-body falls to provide a sufficient cushioning or “padding,” and the astral body drives into the physical too strongly. It is under these conditions that most of our illnesses arise.
Now the plant has in it no real astral body. Hence the specific way of being which can occur in the animal and in the human being, does not occur in the plant. We must be well aware of this fact. Thus we must first gain an insight into the question, what is it that can bring about illness of plants?
You will have seen, from my descriptions, how the whole earth in the plant's environment has an inherent life of its own. With all this life in the Earth — albeit not so intensely as to bring forth plant forms, yet nevertheless with some intensity — manifold forces of growth and faint suggestions of reproductive forces are present all around the plant. Moreover, there is all that which is working in the Earth under the influence of the full-Moon forces, mediated by the water. Here is a wealth of significant relationships.
You have the Earth — the Earth which is filled with water — and you have the Moon. The Moon, letting its radiations pour into the Earth, makes it to some extent alive in itself; awakens waves and weavings of the ethereal within the Earth. It does so more easily when the earth is saturated with water, and with greater difficulty when the earth is dry. You must remember, the water is only a mediator. It is the earth itself — the solid, mineral element — which must be made alive. The water, too, is mineral. There is of course no hard-and-fast line. Thus we must have the lunar influences in the soil.
Now the Moon-influences in the soil can also become too strong. This can happen in a very simple way. You need only call to wind a thoroughly wet winter, followed by a thoroughly wet spring. Then the Moon-forces will enter the earth too strongly. The earth will become too much alive. Once more, you will have an over intense vitalisation of the earth. I will indicate it by making little red dots (Diagram 13) where the earth is too strongly vitalised by the Moon. If the little red dots were not there — if the earth were not over-vitalised by the Moon — plant-life would grow upon it, developing normally up to the seed: corn, for instance, growing upward to the seed.
If the Moon imparts precisely the right vitality to the earth, this vitality will work on and upward till the seed develops. Assume now that the Moon-influence is too strong; the earth is too much vitalised. Then it will work too strongly from below upward. That which should only occur in the seed-formation will occur at an earlier stage. Precisely when it is too strong, it will be insufficient to reach to the top. Through its very intensity, it will work itself out more in the lower regions. As a result of the strong Moon influence, the seed-formation proper will have insufficient power.
The seed receives something of dying life into itself, and through this dying life there arises, as it were, above the soil — above the primary level of the earth — a secondary level. Although it is not earth, the same effects are there — above the proper level — and, as a consequence, the seed (the upper part of the plant) becomes a kind of soil for other organisms. Parasites and fungoid growths arise all manner of fungoid growths.
Thus we see the forming of mildew, blight, rust, and similar diseases. The over-intense Moon-influence prevents what should work upward from the earth from reaching the necessary level. The true force of fertility depends upon the Moon's influence being normal. It must not be too intense. It may seem strange, but it is so: this result is brought about, not by a weakening but by an over intensity of the Moon-forces. If we merely theorised about it instead of looking at the process, we might reach the opposite conclusion, but we should be wrong. Perception shows it as I have now described it. What, then, should we do?
We must somehow relieve the earth of the excessive Moon-force that is in it. And we can do so. We need only perceive what works in the earth so as to deprive the water of its mediating power; so as to lend the earth more “earthiness” and prevent it from absorbing the excessive Moon-influences through the water it contains. We can achieve this result. Outwardly, it all remains just as it is. But we now prepare a kind of tee or decoction — a pretty concentrated decoction of equisetum arvense. 2Mare's-tail, horse-tail, shave-grass This we dilute, and sprinkle it as liquid manure over the fields, wherever we need it — wherever we want to combat rust or similar plant-diseases. Here again, very Small quantities are sufficient — a homoeopathic dose is quite enough.
Once more you see how the several fields of life work into one another. Understand the strange influence which equisetum arvense has upon the human organism through the function of the kidneys, and you will have your guiding live. Needless to say, you cannot merely speculate. Nevertheless, you have a guiding line, and you will now investigate how equisetum works when you transform it as described, into a kind of liquid manure, and sprinkle it over the fields. You need no special apparatus. It will work far and wide, even if you only sprinkle a very little, and you will find it an excellent remedy. Strictly speaking, it is not a medicament, for in the true sense of the word a plant cannot be diseased. It is not a healing process in the proper sense; it is simply the opposite process to the one I described.
So you must learn to see into the workings of Nature in all her different domains. Then you will really take the processes of growth in hand. (We shall afterwards see the same for animal growth — animal normalities and abnormalities). To get the growth-processes in hand — that is the really important thing. To experiment at random on these matters, as is done to-day, is no real science. The mere jotting-down of isolated notes and facts — that is no science.
Real science only arises when you begin to control the working forces. But the living plants and animals — even the parasites in the plants — can never be understood by themselves. What I said in our first lesson when I referred to the magnet-needle is only too true. Anyone who thought of the magnet-needle alone — anyone who looked in the magnet-needle itself for the causes of its always turning northward — would be talking nonsense. We do not do so; on the contrary, we take the whole Earth and assign to it a magnetic North Pole and a magnetic South. The whole Earth must be included in our explanation.
Just as we draw in the whole Earth to understand the properties of the magnet-needle, so, when we come to the living plants, we must not merely look at the plant or animal or human world; we must summon all the Universe into our counsels! Life always proceeds from the entire Universe — not only out of what the Earth provides. Nature is a great totality; forces are working from everywhere. He alone can understand Nature who has an open sense for the manifest working of her forces.
What does science do nowadays? It takes a little plate and lays a preparation on it, carefully separates it off and peers into it, shutting off an every side whatever might be working into it. We call it a “microscope.” It is the very opposite of what we should do to gain a relationship to the wide spaces. No longer content to shut ourselves off in a room, we shut ourselves off in this microscope tube from all the glory of the world. Nothing must now remain but what we focus in our field of vision.
By and by it has come to this: scientists always have recourse, more or less, to their microscope. We, however, must find our way out again into the macrocosm. Then we shall once more begin to understand Nature — and other things too.
Question: Can the method given for the nematode be applied to other insects? I mean, to any kind of vermin? Is it permissible without further scruples to destroy animal and plant life in this way over wide areas? The method might be greatly abused. Some limit ought surely to be set, to prevent a man from spreading destruction over the world.
Answer: As to its being permissible, let us assume for a moment that such a thing were not permitted. (For the moment I will not speak of the ethical — occultly ethical — question). If such procedures were not allowed, what I have repeatedly hinted at would inevitably follow: agriculture would go from bad to worse in civilised countries. Not only intermittent periods of local starvation or high prices would occur, but these conditions would become quite general. Such a state of affairs may well be with us in a none too distant future. We have thus no other choice. Either we must let civilisation go to rack and ruin on the earth, or we must endeavour to shape things in such a way as to bring forth a new fertility. For our needs to-day, we really have no choice to stop and discuss whether or no such things are permissible.
Nevertheless, from another point of view, the question may still be asked; and from this aspect we should rather consider how to establish once more a kind of safety-valve against misuse. It goes without saying that when these things are generally known and applied, abuses will be possible; that is quite evident. Nevertheless, it may be pointed out that there have been epochs of civilisation on the earth when such things were known and applied in the widest sense. Yet it was possible for those among mankind who were in earnest to keep these things within such bounds that the misuse did not occur.
Abuses did indeed occur in an epoch when far graver abuses were still possible, because these forces were universally prevalent. I mean during the later periods of Atlantean evolution, when a far greater misuse occurred, leading to grave catastrophes. Generally speaking, we can only say that the custom of keeping the knowledge of these things in small circles and not allowing it to become more general, is justified; but in our times it is scarcely possible any longer. In our time knowledge cannot be retained in limited circles; such circles immediately tend in one way or another to let the knowledge out.
So long as the art of printing did not exist, it was easier; and at a time when most people were unable to write, it was easier still.
Nowadays, for practically every lecture — however small the circle where you hold it—the question is immediately raised: Where shall we get a shorthand writer? I do not like to see the shorthand writer; one has to put up with him, but it would be better if he were not there (I mean the shorthand writer, not the person, needless to say).
Must we not also reckon, on the other hand, with a further necessity—namely, the moral improvement of all human life? That alone can be the panacea against abuses—the moral upliftment of human life as a whole. Admittedly, when we consider certain phenomena of our time, we might become a little pessimistic; but in regard to this question of the moral improvement of life we should never tend to a mere contemplation of facts. We should always try to have thoughts that are permeated with impulses of will. We should consider what we can really do for the moral betterment of human life in general. This can arise from Spiritual Science. Spiritual Science will have nothing against it if a Circle is formed which will act from the outset as a means of healing against possible abuses.
After all, in Nature too it is so: everything good can become harmful. Think for a moment: if we had not the Moon-forces below, we could also not have them above. They simply must be there; they must be working. That which is requisite and necessary in one sphere in the highest degree, is harmful in another. That which is moral on one level is decidedly immoral on another. That which is Ahrimanic in the earthly sphere is only harmful because it is in the earthly sphere. When it takes place in a realm that is but a little higher, its effect is definitely good.
As to your other question, it is quite right: the method I indicated for the nematode applies to the insect world in general. It applies to all that portion of the animal world which is characterised by the possession of an abdominal marrow and not a spinal marrow. Where there is spinal marrow, you must first skin the animal. In the other case, the whole creature should be burned.
Question: Did you mean the wild camomile?
Answer: This camomile, with the petals turned downwards. (As in the drawing, Diagram 14.) It is the “Chamomilla officinalis ” — growing wild by the wayside.
Question: Do you also take the flower of the stinging-nettle?
Answer: Yes, and you can take the leaves too — the whole plant at the time when it is flowering — only not the root.
Question: Can one also take the dog camomile that occurs in the fields?
Answer: That is a species more akin to the right one than the garden camomile which is now being shewn. The latter is quite useless. The one you refer to is also sometimes used for camomile tea. It is far more akin to the right one, and may be used if need be.
Question: I take it the camomile growing here along the railway track is the right one?
Answer: Yes, that is the right one.
Question: Will what you said of the destruction of weeds apply also to water-weeds?
Answer: Yes, it applies also to plants that grow out of the swamp or out of the water; it applies to water-weeds. In such a case you must sprinkle the banks with the pepper.
Question: Can underground parasites, as, for instance, the cabbage root-fly, be combatted by the same means?
Question: Can the remedy for plant-diseases also be applied to the vine?
Answer: It has not yet been tested — I, too, have not tested it and little has been done in this direction occultly. I can only say, I am convinced the vine could have been protected if one had gone about it in the way I have indicated.
Question: What of the so-called grape leaf-fall disease or downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola)?
Answer: It can be combatted in the same way as any other kind of rust, mildew or blight.
Question: Is it legitimate for us as anthroposophists to resuscitate vine-growing?
Answer: To-day, in many respects, Anthroposophical Science can only be there to say what is. The question of what ought to be is more difficult as yet, for many spheres of life. I knew a good anthroposophist friend who possessed extensive vineyards. However, he used a considerable portion — not all too large a portion — of his annual profits to send out postcards through the world preaching abstinence. On the other side, I had a friend who was himself a strict abstainer, and who, moreover, was very generous to the anthroposophical movement throughout his life. He was, however, responsible for the placards you see everywhere an the tramcars — “Sternberger Cabinett” (a kind of champagne). Here, then, the practical question becomes rather ticklish. You cannot get all you want nowadays. Therefore I said, it is the cow-horns which we take from the cows to bury in the earth. As to the bulls' horns which we might don, to run up against all and sundry in a bull-at-the gate fashion — by so doing we might easily cause harm to Spiritual Science.
Question: Might not the bladder of the stag be replaced by something else?
Answer: No doubt it may be difficult to get stags' bladders; and yet — how many things that are difficult are not done in the world! One might of course try if one could not replace the bladder of the stag by something else; I cannot say at the moment. Maybe there is a species of animal somewhere — indigenous, perhaps, to some very limited territory in Australia for instance; but I can imagine nothing similar among the European native animals. In any case it would have to be an animal bladder. I cannot recommend you immediately to think of finding substitutes.
Question: Must the position of the stars always be the same for combatting insect pests?
Answer: It will have to be tested. I said that the whole series is important from Aquarius to Cancer. Undoubtedly, within these limits, a variation among the constellations for the different kinds of lower animals will be significant. It must be tested.
Question: Did you mean the astronomical Venus, for the field mice?
Answer: Yes, that which we call the evening star.
Question: What “constellation of Venus with Scorpio?”
Answer: Whenever Venus is visible in the sky with the Scorpio constellation in the background. Venus must be behind the Sun. Question: Has the burning of potato haulms any influence on the thriving of the potatoes?
Answer: The influence is so slight as to be practically negligible. There is indeed an influence; there is always a certain influence, whatever you do with any organic relic. It influences not only the single plants, but the entire field. But the influence is so small as to be practically negligible.
Question: What do you mean by “Rindergekröse” (bovine mesentery in Lecture 4)?
Answer: The peritoneum (“Bauchfell”). That surely is the generally accepted meaning of “Gekröse”
Question: Is it the same as “Kuttelflecke” (tripe)?
Answer: No, it is not the same. The peritoneum is meant.
Question: How should the ash be distributed over the fields?
Answer: I said just what I meant. You do it as though you were sprinkling pepper into something. It has so great a radius of influence that it is quite sufficient if you simply walk over the fields and sprinkle it.
Question: Do the preparations work in the same way on fruit trees?
Answer: Generally speaking, all that I have said applies to fruit culture also. A few things, still to be considered, will be given tomorrow.
Question: It is the custom in farming to give the farmyard manure to turnips and the like. Is the specially prepared manure important for cereals also, or should the latter be treated differently?
Answer: Existing customs can surely be retained, at any rate to begin with. The point is simply to add what I have indicated. As to other usages of which I have not spoken, you surely need not begin by representing everything as bad — trying to reform everything. Truly, I think you can continue the methods that have proved good, and supplement them with what has been given. I should, however, state that the influence of the methods I have indicated will be considerably modified if you use manure that is rich in sheep or pig dung. The effect will not be so striking as it will be if you avoid using sheep and pig dung to excess.
Question: What if one uses inorganic manures?
Answer: Mineral manuring is a thing that must cease altogether in time, for the effect of every kind of mineral manure, after a time, is that the products grown on the fields thus treated lose their nutritive value. It is an absolutely general law.
Precisely the methods I have given, if properly followed, will make it unnecessary to manure oftener than every three years. Possibly you may only have to manure every four or six years. You will be able to dispense with artificial manuring altogether. You will do without it if only for the reason that you will find it much cheaper to apply these methods. Artificial manure is a thing you will no longer need; it will go out of use.
Nowadays, opinions are based on far too short periods of time. In a recent discussion on bee-keeping, a modern bee-keeper was especially keen on the commercial breeding of queens. Queens are sold in all directions nowadays, instead of merely bring bred within the single hives. I had to reply: No doubt you are right; but you will see with painful certainty —if not in thirty or forty, then certainty in forty to fifty years' time — that bee-keeping will thereby have been ruined.
These things must be considered. Everything is being mechanised and mineralised nowadays, but the fact is, the mineral world should only work in the way it does in Nature herself. You should not permeate the living Earth with something absolutely lifeless like the mineral, without including it in something else. It may not be possible tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow it will certainly be possible, quite as a matter of course.
Question: How should the insects be caught? Can they be used in the larval state?
Answer: You can use the larvae and the complete winged insect equally well. It may only involve a slight difference in the constellation. The proper constellation will move to some extent in the direction from Aquarius to Cancer as you pass from the winged insect to the larva. For the insect itself, the proper constellation will therefore be more towards Aquarius.