Published twice a year by the Anthroposophical Society in America Editor

Published twice a year by the Anthroposophical Society in America
for its members and friends
H enry Barnes,
Editor
All communications should be addressed to the editor, 211 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10016. Copyrights
and all other rights are reserved by the Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America. Responsibility for
the contents of the articles contained herein attaches only to the writers.
A utumn, 1965
Number 2
CONTENTS
WHAT IS THIS
“ANTHROPOSOPHY” ABOUT? .... Frederick C. Heckel
A NEW APPROACH TO THE
PROBLEMS OF SOCIETY ................ Ralph Courtney
MICHAELMAS REFLECTIONS ...............Danilla Rettig
LITTLE MYTHS ............................... Albert Steffen
THE DIGNITY OF THE EARTH .... Hermann Poppelbaum
CHRISTMAS IN HOSPITAL ...................... Rex Raab
TRACE ELEMENTS...................... Anna Koffler, Ph.D.
THE BIO-DYNAMIC MOVEMENT
IN OUR TIME .............................. Herbert Koepf
MORALITY AND THE EXPERIENCE
OF KNOWLEDGE ............................John Gardner
BEWARE OF LSD .................... Franz E. Winkler, M.D.
A VOICE OF ANTHROPOSOPHY............ George O’Neil
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
WHAT ISTHIS “ANTHROPOSOPHY” ABOUT?
Frederick C. Heckel
“Just what is this ‘Anthroposophy’ for which your Journal
exists?” Such a question, whether definitely formulated or
not, must certainly arise at times in the minds of a number
of our readers. To give a complete answer would, as many
other readers know, take volumes. For that, one can only
point to the numerous books and lectures of Rudolf Steiner
who presented us with this world view.
Yet the person with a genuine interest in finding out more
about it would seem, in all fairness, to be entitled to some
characterizations of that wide and deep subject, however
much one hoped that he would look into it on his own
account. Looking at it from the point of view of the single,
questioning individual new to the matter, one might perhaps
then say:
It certainly is a fact that most people know inwardly, even
though they could never prove it to anybody else, that there
is a Spiritual World, a world of objective realities in the
realm of thought, feeling and will. They “sense” the inter­
weaving between this creative world and the world of outer,
tangible phenomena. They may well have wondered why
it should not be possible to study this “inner” world just as
carefully, without inner bias and prejudgment, as the true
and dedicated natural scientist studies the sense world around
him.
Speaking from experience, experience that anybody can
duplicate, one could add:
You can find in what is presented by Anthroposophy
(taken to begin with, by all means, as no more than a work­
ing hypothesis), reasonable, entirely non-subjective explana­
tions of those “inner” aspects of existence we referred to
above. They reduce to a scientific order not only the phe­
nomena of inner experience but also the interrelationships
of the material kingdoms and that all-pervading realm which
the Greeks referred to as the Archetypal World.
We can gather the subject matter into two larger cate­
gories. There is, first, the method, the techniques of re­
search used in such investigation. These are referred to in
many places in Rudolf Steiner’s work, although the basic
book here is his Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its
Attainment. To characterize this book, even crudely, would
be a bigger piece of work than there is room for in these
pages. It would not be unfair to it, though, to point out that
an essential factor in the self-training outlined there is a great
strengthening of the forces of the will — along with a
sharpened discernment. So, obviously, personal feelings,
likes and dislikes of every shade, are taken out of the field
of observation.
One might, from the point of view of this brief discussion,
include all the rest, the larger body of Dr. Steiner’s work,
under a heading something like “Research Data” or “Investi­
gational Results.” As those who have had contact with
Steiner’s voluminous writings know, this was an occultist
who did not confine himself to studies of the supersensible
worlds. He held that “the test of any occult teaching is
whether it meets the practical problems of the time in which
it is given.”
So we have, among other things, the Waldorf Pedagogy
or Rudolf Steiner Methods of Education. This can be in­
vestigated quite conveniently by first-hand observation of the
growing number of Steiner schools in many parts of the
world. These tend to be schools whose reputation and
standing in their communities is such that more and more
parents, who often have no concern with the anthroposophical
world view as such, send their children to them simply
because they are such good schools. There is also a special­
ized Curative Pedagogy which has attained notable success
and recognition in its ability to help children in need of
special care.
There is also the Bio-Dynamic Method of Farming and
Gardening. In the experience of the undersigned he has
encountered no other “organic” approach to the feeding of
mankind which compares with it in terms of completely solid
scientific foundations and practical workability.
Nor can we omit Rudolf Steiner’s analysis (and the guide­
lines toward a solution) of the “Social Question,” seething
ever more furiously and disastrously since the time after
World War I when he was most active in this field. That
side of his work has been perhaps more neglected not only
by the world at large but (always with active exceptions)
by his own pupils, than any other of his contributions. In the
light of the results in other fields where his practical sug­
gestions have been taken up, this can be regarded as need­
lessly tragic.
His contributions to the Art of Healing, developed in col­
laboration with physicians and carried further by physicians,
are another aspect of Rudolf Steiner’s research that has
borne fruit of measurable, and in another sense immeasurable,
value. And the list could be lengthened. But the idea here
was simply to give our hypothetical interrogator some pic­
ture of “what Anthroposophy is about.” We have not even
Page 2
touched on the basic matters of Dr. Steiner’s anthropo­
sophical work in pure philosophy, history, religion or the arts.
One thing must still be mentioned: Dr. Steiner never, so to
say, “threw ideas at people’s heads.” He held that no
knowledge was of benefit unless it was actively desired,
“asked for.” Thus, for instance, Waldorf Education, the
farming and gardening methods, etc., were all formulated and
presented because specific people, somewhere, had asked for
this information.
Rudolf Steiner believed in, and abided by, principles em­
bodying the fullest spiritual freedom.
A NEW APPROACH
TO THE PROBLEMS OF SOCIETY
Ralph Courtney
Differences of opinion and conflicts of interest are bound
to arise in the life of society. The problems they present
are usually approached from the side of law-making
government which has only one set of tools to work with.
Either things have to be left as they are, or a law must be
passed about them. The result is that in order to meet the
alleged needs of society, thousands of laws are passed at
every session of Congress and these are supplemented by
innumerable administrative rules and regulations. The same
legal network is to be found in every country of the globe.
No matter whether a nation has a socialist, a communist,
or a democratic regime, or is ruled by a personal dictator,
the laws and regulations of a centralist political government
tell citizens what they may or may not do.
The aim of this law-making activity is to solve what has
become known as the social problem, that is, the problem
of establishing the right social relationships between the in­
dividual human units of society. Yet, in spite of all the laws
that have been passed since the founding of this and other
countries, the social problem still remains unsolved. If laws
alone could solve it, one would expect the people of the
United States, living in freedom under a liberal Constitu­
tion, by this time to be enjoying ideal social conditions.
One thing that is conspicuously lacking in the law-making
process of today is a set of rules by which to determine what
social issues should be decided by laws and what other social
issues should be left to the individual citizens to make their
own free choices. Under the political centralism of the day,
almost any law can be passed that is supported by a sufficient
number of power-groups, regardless of its cultural, political,
or economic consequences. But when the passing of law after
law over a period of years, fails to create social satisfaction,
the conclusion is inescapable that something is wrong with
citizens’ expectations of what the law-making process, alone,
can do. And there must be a reason why the law-making
machinery designated by the word “government,” has come
to be synonymous in popular imagination with corruption,
waste, futility and almost all the derogatory words that are
to be found in the dictionary.
The task of the law-making bodies in the United States
is also complicated by the existence of two mutually con­
tradictory ideals, both of which have received universal recog­
nition. One is the ideal of Liberty and the other that of
Equality. Thus the same government of the same social
order is expected to uphold freedom of choice on the one
hand and, on the other, to be the guarantor of a compelled
equality. Any new approach to the social problem must
deal with this contradiction.
Only one answer to this aspect of the social problem has
been put forward by a modern writer. In the early decades
of this century Rudolf Steiner called attention to the exis­
tence of three functional aspects of social life. Every society,
he pointed out, comprises a cultural sphere, a life of rights
and an economy. In a social order thus functionally de­
centralised, there is a natural division of labor. The cultural
side of society supplies the culture, the economy looks after
production, consumption and distribution and the political
sphere lays down the laws governing rights.
By decentralising society according to its functional aspects,
instead of placing all its functions under the domination of
politics, Steiner points to a new approach to the social prob­
lem. For the principles of freedom and equality no longer
contradict each other when they are applied in separate
social spheres. In the spheres of cultural matters and in
business, men could be allowed to exercise freedom of choice,
so long as their actions do not violate common rights. At the
same time, their common rights would be upheld by a
separate sphere which is outside the cultural and economic
life, namely, the sphere of rights. In the United States, the
common rights that belong to all citizens equally, are, of
course, the rights to Life, to Liberty and to the Pursuit of
Happiness.
In a functionally decentralised society, the most important
right in the cultural sphere is the right to cultural liberty.
In the sphere of business, the right that is most essential is
the right of association to further mutual economic interests,
while in the political sphere it is the right of all citizens to
be treated as equals in any and all acts of government. Since
the power of government in a decentralised society would be
limited to equalitarian rights legislation, it could not be used
to create special privileges for power-groups. Steiner points
out that the political sphere in which all citizens are equal
as voters, should only rightly concern itself with matters
such as common rights in which this status of equality con­
tinues. Equality in the social sense, according to Steiner,
does not mean equality of persons, but only equality in the
possession of the same common rights.
Dr. Steiner outlined his social views in a book called in
English translation, “The Threefold Commonwealth; the
Social Question in Its True Shape.” At the time of its ap­
pearance, Steiner’s book was hailed as a significant departure
from the growing socialistic and centralist trends of his time.
Today, nearly a half century later, the world has tried poli­
tical centralismin all its forms. In none of its metamorphoses
has this centralism shown itself to be a happy solution of the
social problem, or even a working hypothesis that has pro­
duced anything but increasing social chaos.
A remarkable phenomenon in the social fabric of the
United States is an area from which all laws have been
excluded. This is in the cultural field of religion. As far as
this example goes, it confirms Steiner’s point of view that
only individual liberty can deal satisfactorily with the cultural
aspect of the social question. In his “threefold” social order,
Steiner suggests that this freedom from political regulation,
save for the maintenance of common rights, should be ex­
tended to all cultural fields. It goes without saying that the
cultural opinions of private citizens are not regulated in the
United States. By the same token, it would be logical to
hold that the habits arising from these opinions should also
be free from regulatory laws. The State might set up gen­
eral cultural standards, or subsidise the individual’s educa­
tion, but its acts in the cultural field should not be such as
to interfere with the citizen’s freedom of choice, even in the
matter of selecting his schools.
As for the social ills that are usually ascribed to business,
it could also be pointed out from the decentralist point of
view, that these ills are due, not so much to lack of laws
protecting rights, as to the multiplication of special-privilegecreating laws that either violate common rights or stand in
the way of their vindication. In Steiner’s “threefold” social
order, the spheres of culture and business would operate on
their own, but would belong to the social order as a whole by
becoming the instrument through which the life of common
rights is maintained.
During the past half century, political centralism has in­
creasingly taken over the cultural and economic sides of social
life in all countries. It has attempted to manage them in
the national interest. Apart from the fact that this manage­
ment has been bungling and inefficient, it has created
cultural-politico-economic national units throughout the
world. These centralised units have, in turn, become the
carriers of the imperialisms of both the East and the West.
Far fromspreading brotherhood, as the advocates of socialistic
centralism would have us believe, these increasingly cen­
tralised bourgeois and communist states have spread fear
and antagonisms. For as soon as the political element of
power puts itself behind the national culture or the national
economy, these otherwise harmless spheres take on the aspect
of political enemies in the eyes of their neighbors. When
they are invaded by forces not natural to them, these spheres
also become the instruments of imperialism. A culture that
is strong in its own right is often welcomed and even imitated
by those around it. Similarly, private business, conducted
without government help, normally gives both buyer and
seller a profit.
A relaxation of international tensions would follow national
decentralism without waiting for disarmament. It would
begin as soon as politico-economic imperialism ceased to be
a threat. If governments would stop spending money for
cultural propaganda outside their own borders and would
no longer give financial and diplomatic aid to their national
Page 3
business, a re-orientation of international relations would be
bound to follow. When private trading replaces imperialism,
foreign credits would have to be arranged through private
banking institutions, instead of governments. Tariffs would
have to be adjusted to meet the needs of a private economy
managed by the business sphere itself. The result would
doubtless be an economy of exchange, instead of an economy
of competing imperialisms. Yet, neither the value of the
home markets in the eyes of foreigners, nor the fact that
foreigners would have to buy in these markets in order to sell,
would be changed. Although the gradual transformation of
society into the decentralist pattern would require a larger
and more flexible judicial system, for the maintenance of
common rights, a compensating advantage would be that the
present regulating bureaucracy of society would no longer be
needed. If governments did not intervene in business affairs,
foreign exchange rates would be self-adjusting on the basis
of balances of payments.
The efficiency and success of a country that abandoned
imperialism for private trading might induce other nations
to reconsider their positions. It is not impossible that even
communist states, with the removal of the threat of politicoeconomic imperialism on the part of others, might see the
wisdom of abandoning some of their dreams of worldconquest, in order to settle for the prospect of general worldprosperity all round.
The down-grading of imperialism, to which even its
socialistic centralist promoters pay lip-service, is a new phe­
nomenon in history. In all previous ages, imperialism was
the normal social pattern. The imperialism of very early
times, bore a cultural character. Political power was used
to spread the worship of local tribal deities. Among the
centralists of today, it has transformed itself into an im­
perialism of the politico-economic type. Political power is
now chiefly used to help the national economy. This help
may have been useful in former times, but it now awakens
equally powerful counter-forces and in modern times the
wars, as well as the preparations for them, are seen to be
as expensive and almost as devastating to the homeland as to
its enemies.
The law-making process that goes on in every human
society cannot meet the needs of those living together in
the body social because of its own limitations. It can make
laws about rights in which all men are alike, but society
needs the free expression of human talents in the two creative
fields of culture and business. At the same time, the rights
and liberties and the interests of others must be safeguarded
by common rights.
Whenever the making of laws in domestic society falls into
the hands of power-groups, the social illness that this pro­
duces is similar to the effects of imperialism in the affairs of
nations. It means the use of political power to promote
special cultural or economic interests. The nature of im­
perialism is to use military and diplomatic pressures to im­
pose its culture or business on other peoples. Similarly, in
domestic society, cultural and economic groups are able to
Page 4
use political power to impose their special interests on other
members of the social order. When political centralism is
discarded as a system that will only produce antagonisms
and wars, the alternative will be functional decentralism.
MICHAELMAS REFLECTIONS
Danilla Rettig
During the Michaelmas season the most beautiful forma­
tions appear in the sky. At evening the colors are deep
violets and reds. The clouds take on the appearance of
great ships. A lavender sky with pink-tinged clouds, numer­
ous and in separate puffs, greets one at dawn. The clouds
shine the way trout shine when coming to the surface in a
clear mountain pool.
Dawn and dusk bring a message to Man from outer Nature.
Is there some element of Truth in us, or do we struggle to
find it in vain? The waxing and waning of darkness and
light with the resulting colors remain an impression long
afterward. He who would, can perceive his deeds, and the
deeds of others, wax and wane before the imagination as
colors. But the colors shine and form themselves as did the
trout-like clouds, into a moral architecture.
Dornach, Switzerland, 1964
LI TTLE MYTHS
Albert Steffen
SCHOOL VISIT
While, at a teaparty, they were telling about the deeds of
a truly good and wise man, a little girl with delighted eyes
said suddenly that she had dreamed about him. He had
come into her school and had spit in all directions — where­
upon every kind of toy had appeared: jumping-jacks, lead
soldiers, puppets that put on plays, little horses, tiny see-saws,
and trains that could take you everywhere; flowers and bushes
that grouped themselves into gardens, balls and little barrels
that resounded, little rockets that went off and left stars
hanging on the heavens. . . .
“And what did your teacher say to this magician that came
into your classroom?” someone asked the child.
“Oh, he didn’t even notice him,” she declared.
WALK THROUGH A LIBRARY
I was walking with my favorite teacher through the stacks
of a library and saw, in place of the familiar books, prepara­
tions in alchohol, skulls in fur caps, helmets and hoods,
trousers hanging from hooks, and historical puppets out of
which sawdust was running. Most of the things were hung
with black and with good reason. I had no desire to uncover
them.
Suddenly — in the middle of the room upon a starembroidered carpet — I saw a child. He laughed and
stretched out his arms to me. I held him up high in the air
and showed him to my teacher.
“I know him already,” he laughed gaily. “He is my own
poem.”
IN THE DISTRICT OF CHILDREN’S SOULS
A child who had died found that his cradle, that is to say
his coffin, (such mistakes are understandable) was too small
to lie in. His hands and feet hit against the sides, and so he
wanted to get up and look for a more comfortable bed.
Raising himself up in his little shirt, he discovered that he
was standing in a garden landscape. Flowerbed ranged upon
flowerbed. Many boys and girls wandered about through
various districts, each according to his liking, now among
bluebell blossoms, now purple violets, now through golden
lilies.
A larger child stepped up to the smaller one and taught
him how to take apart the shrine in which he had lain into
many little sticks and put them together crosswise into a
fence.
It was astonishing that so tiny a coffin could provide the
countless number of little pickets with which an endless
region could be encompassed.
Translated by Christy Barnes
SPIRITS OF THE SPHERES
Two lovers flew from earth toward heaven and, borne on
the wings of faith, began a-journeying from star to star. On
every star they visited they were given a mantle which
wrapped itself about themwith ever new harmony and luster.
They only noticed that the tone and color, and with these
their feelings, had changed as they sat in the presence of the
golden angel at a crescent-shaped table in a bright spheric
room and heard the angel say: “You have found that blue
leads to death, yellow to birth, green to dwelling on the
earth and red to heavenward journeying. Therefore you
seek the light from which every color sprang, never resting
till you found yourselves in this my home.”
Then looking into the spheric mirrors all about them, the
pair saw two spirits enter, a taller one, “I!” cried the lover,
and a smaller one, “I!” cried his beloved. They knelt before
the golden angel. He laid his hands upon their heads, and
the pair awakened.
THE CROSS-SHAPED TORCH
Christian sat in prison reading his mother’s message:
“Peter was buried alive when a bomb burst, James was
drowned at sea, John was shot down in his airplane. And
you? Do you still have food and drink?”
“O my brothers,” he thought and saw the first to his right,
the second to his left, the third above him. There they
dwelt. And suddenly he saw that their dwelling places were
the beams of the cross. And the cross was borne by Christ.
“Christ,” he spoke, “Thou art my bread and my wine.”
And lo! the cross became a torch that filled all the Occident
with light.
Translated by Marjorie Spock
THE DIGNITY OF THE EARTH
Hermann Poppelbaum
The rise of modemscience has been linked with a degrada­
tion of the earth. No apology is needed to make this sound
less shocking. Yet nothing can mitigate the fact. The place
of habitation which — according to medieval ideas — was
given to mankind as a sign of its exalted position in the
cosmos, has been deprived of its prominence and relegated
to the class of a satellite.
Much has been written about the admirable refinement of
observation, measurement and calculation which succeeded
in bringing about this triumph of objective knowledge over
prejudice. Although the average student cannot fully realize
the amount of scholarly work which resulted in the dethrone­
ment of the earth, he can still clearly conjure up the pro­
found disappointment which medieval man must have felt.
He can understand the secret resentment which has lingered
for centuries under the surface of an external acknowledge­
ment. Here is a form of truth which was bound to shatter
human pride as perhaps none before.
For what did it mean for man that he could no longer
believe in the eminent position of the earth as a centre
around which the universe revolved? It meant that with the
recognition of the inferior order of his assigned dwellingplace man had to feel how little the Creator seemed to care
whether he was offended by his humiliation or not.
This humiliation of man has been intensified in our age
by the disclosure of further infinite stellar spaces around the
solar system, the discovery — not only of the enormous size
of the galaxy to which “we” belong — but of numerous
further galaxies which in their extension have made the
earth fade from insignificance to downright nothingness. The
earth’s rank was lowered in a few decades from an “only
medium-sized” planet to the utterly negligeable position of
a speck of dust caught in the whirling dance of incom­
parably larger masses circling around, with breath-taking
distances of empty space between. The earth was hopelessly
outrun, outdistanced and outsized, leading a tragi-comic
comer-existence of obsolete pretensions, with all that existed
on it.
Page 5
Rudolf Steiner, who has probed more deeply than any one
prior to him into the human meaning of historical changes,
pointed out that this very humiliation in the status of man
and of the earth was actually an exalting of man’s power to
understand the physical universe. This did not come as a
cheap consolation but as a noticeable gain in self-consciousness. And thus modern man, when he acknowledges the
findings of science, lives by virtue of a strange paradox:
deprived of his prominence in the cosmic order he can still
glory, and this more than ever, in the possession of those very
powers of cognition which disillusioned him about his stature.
However crushing the defeat of his ambition he can still
show greatness by the way in which he has “taken” the blow.
This was the test to which the spirit of the new age sub­
mitted modern man. He had to show which was dearer to
him, — the hidden pride of being an entity for which the
heavens cared, or the love for truth of the searcher who
faces his dethronement and, with it, the dethronement of the
earth. Only an attitude of soul which is ready to give up
bias and to accept unwelcome facts can pass such a test.
Humanity at large has passed the test; but every indivi­
dual, educated or not, has in his own way to face it again.
He has to show individually whether he can be loyal to the
verdicts of his own reason or prefers to acquiesce only out­
wardly and to foster secret reservations. Nor must we over­
look more far-reaching consequences. Every progress in
knowledge is fraught with them. They are not realized at
once but dawn upon mankind only later to the degree that
the new discovery sinks in and becomes, at last, a common­
place. The same faculty of reason which infers from the
earth’s minor size its negligeability has taught man to ques­
tion the rank of his moral judgments. But this took time.
The Copernican revolution occurred in the 16th century; the
consequences for man’s moral stature were not fully felt
until the end of the 19th. It then became time to build a
system of Copernican ethics, to round out a world view in
keeping with astronomical enlightenment.
This time-lapse makes us understand why Rudolf Steiner’s
deed of restoration of man’s moral status could not have
been achieved before the time in which the Philosophy of
Spiritual Activity was actually written and appeared. Its
publication was in 1894, the same “end of the century” period
when the most ruthless analysis of man’s soul seemed to
expose the biological and animal roots of his ethical strivings.
It was the period when meanness and wickedness became
better understandable than goodness; when the small town
scandal and the personal-catastrophe became textbook
examples of human ethical problems. Now it was time to
trace the true roots of man’s creative virtues to a healthier
ground. This is what Rudolf Steiner undertook. He found
these roots in man’s striving after knowledge, — the same
type of fact-facing knowledge which in science has pro­
duced such marvelous results. He recognized thinking to be
a self-sustained spiritual activity through which man pene­
trates to the being of the world. On the title page of the
book in which he undertook the re-discovery of thinking and
Page 6
of the freedom and dignity of man there stand the words:
Supersensible observations according to the methods of natural
scientific inquiry. It was the “redemption of thinking” in
the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity which opened the door
to a science of non-material worlds. It was as if an in­
justice done to man’s image had been set right and redressed
by continuous and ardent inquiry.
Thus, from a persistent application of modem methods,
arose the beginning of a fuller knowledge of that twinsecret which the two words “Man” and “Earth” encompass.
No fashionable half-truths and no returns to past allegiances
were here allowed. But a rigorous training begun by natural
science was continued in an extended field. The full image
of Man thus arrived at could not fail to include a restored
picture of the Earth.
Anthroposophy is an extension of knowledge which has
found its strength in humbleness towards the Earth. The
danger of gliding back into a pre-scientific spirituality is
avoided, and the earthly faculties of man are resolutely put
to use.
It is fascinating to look back on the road traveled in three
centuries. Three milestones mark the course we have come.
First came the dethronement of the earth, but it did not at
once reveal how deeply it affected the dignity of man. Bio­
logical evolutionism then uprooted the older conceptions of
man’s spiritual origin and undermined his central position in
the universe. Psychoanalytic interpretations at last attacked
man’s self-respect to the point where the human race seemed
discredited. Who ever could hope that at the end of it
all, the “obscure” earth and the “negligeable” being of man
would one day shine forth in an unexpected radiance all of
their own?
It is not a question of doubting scientific findings about
sizes and motions and letting secret resentment overwhelm
the soberness of fact. There is no escape into a superstition,
no going backwards, no sudden introduction of a revelation
from outside which cancels man’s effort as an independent
knower. It is merely a challenge to realize what the astro­
nomical picture means, and what it cannot possibly mean.
It may be good, in the first place, to recognize that the rele­
gation of the earth to a body of minor size need not in itself
have deprived the earth of its special role and rank for the
sole reason that sizes are not indicative of rank and im­
portance. The mere existence of plant seeds ought to tell
us that. In the second place, the transfer of the gravita­
tional center from the earth to the sun does not make the
earth less important for the solar system.
It was Giordano Bruno who had the presence of mind to
grasp the fact that in a certain sense the Copernican change
could be regarded also as a new elevation of the earth. For
him the new picture of the sun-centered system meant that
the earth, removed from the center though it appeared, was
made to join the ranks of heavenly bodies, as a brother-being
in their midst. This strange planet, though whirled along by
ubiquitous gravitation, was indeed also relieved of its dreary
subservience to the heavens above and placed back among
the lofty host, as a small member, it is true, but an indis­
pensable one, with a rank and task of its own. It was odd
that a fact which the great Bruno so clearly recognized
should, soon after him, have fallen into oblivion, and given
way to the “speck-of-dust” conception. This latter poses
as modesty, but in reality falls victim to the customary fallacy
of a materialistic age, which takes undersize for unimportance
and allegiance for subservience.
The question, then, which modem consciousness will have
to face, is to inquire into the rank and role of a planet
which is admittedly not of first magnitude. The position of
the earth may well indicate something of that humbleness
which foreshadows a future higher state, comparable to the
servant in the oriental story who is a king in disguise. And
why should it not be a sign of greater dignity to hold a
minor outward position which prepares for greatness, than to
impose upon the spectator with nothing but great bulk?
There is more dignity in taking the risk that one may pass
unrecognized.
This is exactly the way in which the earth, according to
Rudolf Steiner’s deepened insight, leads its life amidst its
larger fellow-beings.
The peculiar position of the earth among other planets
comes from a gradual dissociation from the more exalted
cosmic ancestry from which it sprang. The earth had to
separate from the sun because she could not keep pace with
the development of this great star with which she had been
previously linked. Again at a later phase, the earth had to
throw off the moon because the hardening substances had to
be shed in order not to be a hindrance for her development.
Thus the earth is kept at a moderate “earthly” pace of
progress while the sun goes far ahead and the moon becomes
a hardened shell dragged along behind.* In the light of
such a description, the fallacy of a conception emphasizing
mere size vanishes, and the individuality of the earth
emerges. Yet the most remarkable feature in the spiritual
scientific picture of the earth’s story is that each of its
chapters is at the same time a step in the development
of man. Here, at length, the co-relationship of earth and
man is fully brought to light. The earth travels the path
of her destiny by gradually individualizing herself as she
loosens her ties with her cosmic companions. Man, in
following each step in his still cosmic embryology, becomes
more and more an exclusive child of the maturing planet.
Each phase in his development endows him with a riper
organization. Finally, he can recognize himself as a separate
individual while the earth under his feet crystallizes into a
mineral, shell-covered globe.
Indissolubly linked with man’s self-discovery, in his rela­
tion with the new-found planet earth, is the penetration of
*Rudolf Steiner, Occult Science: an Outline, Anthroposophic Press, New
York.
the true meaning of his connection with the animal kingdom.
The recognition of the continuity which links up man’s
development with that of the animals need not be taken as
an offence to man’s dignity. The relationship needs only to
be rightly understood. Animal forms have a general tend­
ency to develop an ever more complicated and elaborate
equipment. In a sense the higher animals surpass man in
the intricacy of their bodily tools; the extremities are the
most striking example. Compared with the perfection of
the paw, the horse’s forefoot, the bird’s wing and the fish’s
fin, the human hand is undeveloped and infantile. Even the
head preserves more of its embryonic character than that of
any mammal. Man has been, as it were, “held back” in his
bodily development while the animals have “shot forward”
at each corresponding evolutionary stage. Following up this
point of view, it appears how right Goethe was when he
called man the universal prototype of the higher animals.
Potentially man has had the animal forms within him but
his evolution has never been fully arrested at any one point
along the way. Less specialized and perfect than the
animals around him, he has not been limited in the possi­
bilities for spiritual and moral growth. The development
which leads toward man is not a continuation of the laws of
animal evolution, but a transformation of them. It is an
entirely new direction of evolution. It is strange to find that
modem comparative anatomists and even paleontologists
came to give man this kind of central position among his
lower brethren, just after astronomy had to deprive the
earth, man’s place of action, of her dominating place among
her sister spheres. It seems that the placing of man in the
midst of the circle of animal forms tells that part of the
story of the earth which astronomy must of necessity overlook.
Even the third humiliation which is felt when we contem­
plate the hard battle which man’s higher strivings wage with
his lower propensities resolves itself in the light of the new
insight. What seems a depressing fact contains the germ of
man’s greatness. It is the pledge of man’s continual growth.
The incorporation of lower strivings within him may become
a spur for his transformation. That he can fall into greater
depravity than any animal is only the inevitable shadow
which accompanies him on the path towards light.
Thus, in spite of the three humiliations man’s pride has
suffered, it can now be said that man’s eminent and unique
position is re-established. At the same time he recognizes
the sense in a development which puts the major burden
upon that being who is expected to achieve most. With this
we can approach a point where the unique place of the
earth among celestial bodies can be clearly discerned. It is
that place which grants to those who dwell on earth the
recognition of their deeper nature and task. But it is a recog­
nition which has to battle continually against the error of
confusing the earth’s size and position with its significance,
of confounding man and animal, and of misunderstanding
the role of evil. This threefold error tries to veil the subtle
manifestation of the earth’s rank and replace it by a cheaper
conception into which the laziness of our mind tends to slide
Page
7
back. To see the earth as a speck of dust means to fall
victim to mere magnitudes and to leave out of account the
individuality of a heavenly body. In the unregenerate
Newtonian conception of the solar system, the individual
bodies are whirled off by gravity which does not care about
the objects in its grip. On the stellar scale we have become
accustomed to hear about the creation of new star systems
by collisions which give retarding stars a physical impulse
to new enkindlement. There is no individuality in all these
bodies. Even a so-called Nova is nothing new. The cosmos
at large is disinterested in the destiny of an earth which is
commonplace and unimportant. This is the picture upon
which our imagination falls back when we fail to make an
effort to grasp the role of individual differences among suns,
planets and moons. It is the impulse of the earth which can
awaken us from the dream of an endless and faceless change.
It is the earth, too, which provides the possibility for
human kind to develop in a direction which is contrary to
that of its animal brethren. Man inserts himself into the
field of gravity as the only being who resists deformation.
His shape manifests the potentialities of the earth just
because he is the only being who makes full use of it. If we
recognize this we cease to misunderstand the continuity which
links man’s anatomy with that of the higher vertebrates.
For continuity need not involve the abiding by the same
laws. Nature opened up a new possibility when she em­
barked upon a new direction to be followed by man. It can
be regarded as a special gift of the earth that man in this
sense can read his own story and recognize what he is.
Commonplace evolutionary theories fail to recognize the clear
contours of man which separate him from his animal back­
ground. These theories are indeed comparable to those stages
midway between sleeping and waking where the objects
around us merge their outlines with fallacious jigsaw con­
tours running across the real ones, a “figure and background
fallacy” as a fashionable trend in psychology would say, but
in any case a phenomenon of sleepiness.
The earth also protects man, by its subtle inspiration,
from a misunderstanding of the role of the evil which is
embodied in every member of mankind. It is not the com­
position of the soul and its being made of “low stuff” which
matters, but the challenge to mold this stuff into a higher
form of manifestation. To the secrets of the earth belongs
this insight which is fraught with risk: that without the in­
clusion of evil strivings there is no human existence. This
does not recommend, of couse, that such knowledge be taken
with a tone of resignation as if in shrugging the shoulders
at something inevitable which we nevertheless regret. Rather,
such knowledge provides a description of the full being of
man as he is on earth with a recognition of those elements
which keep him here, not as a transient guest, but as an in­
habitant who works at the transformation of his abode.
The earth is set off from its cosmic surroundings by this very
inclusion of a seemingly hostile ingredient which refuses to
give itself up unless it is allowed to take part itself in the
transfiguration. How much more realistic is such a picture
of man than the bloodless generalities of a cheap idealism
Page 8
which speaks of the virtues of man without reference to the
destructive potencies which are there as a counterpoint!
Here again is a new definition of the earth. It is the place
where such deepened cognition of man can germinate and
where the student can recognize that the way to call things
by their true names steers right between the Scylla and
Charybdis of sentiment and blasphemy on either side. It is
the earth herself which gives man the strength to steer such
a course and to recognize his way for what it is: one neither
of flattering praise which weakens him nor of cynical admis­
sion which stirs him to revolt.
In a spiritual cosmology which is acceptable for a modem,
which means an earth-conscious mentality, the earth itself is
restored in a sense, but with a vaster meaning, to its central
role. In fact, we can find, in Rudolf Steiner’s description,
that all cosmic evolution has a center of spiritual gravitation
which is the preparation of the earth for its rank. Man feels
this dimly in the secret revolt which the three humiliations
of science have touched off within his soul. The penetration
into the spirit background of the earth’s cosmic ancestry
reveals the previous phases of the solar cosmos as aiming at
and working for the gradual growth of the earth into a new
center. Expressed in imagery the truth would appear as
follows: the faces of all the superhuman beings directed
toward the earth and mankind, look down from all sides
upon the “chosen star” and bless it.
It is a Christmas picture. The gravitational center, in its
spiritual meaning, finds its location on the earth. The same
truth is expressed more directly and fully by Rudolf Steiner
where he describes how the exalted Being who previously
dwelt on the sun took it upon Himself to choose His abode
on earth. It is the world-changing transfer of the cosmic
focus from higher mansions to a humble one which also acts
as the secret impulse of deepened self-recognition in man.
To see how the ages of the world have spent their best forces
in building man means to get an inkling, however poor, of
the keystone nature of Christ’s appearance in the flesh. That
man should be allowed to meet Christ on earth, — whether
physically in Palestine or spiritually at a later time, does
not make an essential difference — this event, nonetheless,
gives the final touch to the dignity of the earth as the stage
of action where the incomparable is to happen. It also shows
how and why the dignity of man is inevitably bound up
with the dignity of his place of habitation. The implantation
of the Christ impulse into the spirit nature of the earth acts
as a seed which guarantees the regeneration of this unique
place in the cosmos. No entanglement in the fallacy of the
theories of physical magnitudes can blur the recognition of
this truth once it is grasped. The ascent of man toward
humanity, ever more deeply understood, meets with the un­
limited confidence of Christ as he descends toward him.
The Copernican shift of the physical center of gravitation
to the sun is counter-balanced by the equally realistic descrip­
tion of another “shift” which gives back to the earth the
pristine and indispensable role which the creators of man
intended for it.
CHRISTMAS IN HOSPITAL
The sister and physician end their round.
New treatment, medicine or needle prick
the nurse administers with softened sound.
The night has fallen on the sleeping sick.
One patient only cannot close his eyes
but suffers silently his agonies.
His gaze descries within the lamp-lit room
a ceiling hung with sprigs of misteltoe,
bright holly berries gleaming through the gloom
that hugs the walls, and past the long bed-row
a fir-tree decked with candles and with apples,
its branches casting silken shadow-dapples.
He pictures through his pain: “While Asgard plays,
sly Loki in his giantess disguise
gives Hodur blind a mistle-dart which slays
his brother Baldur, radiant and wise.
The gods are plunged in gloom. ‘Baldur is dead:’
I feel the darkened forces of my head.
With plucking of the Tree of Good and Ill
the Serpent paralyses Paradise:
I feel the deadened power of my will.
The priest, preceptor, knight who nail the Christ
are cruel like the holly-prickle dart:
I feel the weakened healing of my heart.
Creation groans from deeds of gods and men,”
the patient ponders in his suffering;
“Should I desire to be exempted, then?
And yet I die in want of comforting.” —
The ward begins to fill with pulsing tones
that warm the sick man’s body to the bones,
and angel-nurses come in company,
their movement-melodies themselves a balm,
to light the candles on the Christ-mass tree
suffusing stern solemnity and calm.
One plucks a star resplendent in her brow
and hovers it above the topmost bough.
Now the physician and his famulus
appear, advancing to the tree; the last
of these two carries a caduceus,
a wand entwined with serpents self-enclasped.
One touch of this caduceus, and all
the apples hanging on the fir-tree fall.
But when the head physician superposes
his cross of black above the staff of snakes
the barren branches blossom into roses.
Then the aspirant from his mantle takes
the Patients’ Record Book of Destiny.
The doctor reads; prescribes accordingly.
He bids the nurses pick the apples up,
compound a potion from their juice and pips
with thigh-bone pestle in skull mortar-cup,
divines it with the serpent-rod, then sips,
instructing his apprentice first to take
it to the patient who remains awake.
The ministrant extends the skull to drink:
“This medicine irradiates the pain
of darkness in your head if you will think:
the forces of the star create my brain.”
The sick man sips a compound sorrow-sour,
discerns the sunlight at the midnight hour.
The other strikes the cup-skull with his rod,
transforms it to a crystal chalice-well,
cries: “This medicament draws down from God
the purifying fire of Michael
which burns the wisdom of the serpent’s eyes,
empowering the will by sacrifice.”
The patient quaffs a liquid igneous
and feels his illness veer towards the good.
The doctor comes and cures him with his cross:
“The strength of spirit courses through the blood
that knows the nails of Golgotha forever
join matter to the spirit, do not sever.”
The elixir in the crystal skull-bone-grail
he then invites his ministrants to share
among the other human beings that ail,
with movements moulding singingly the air;
each single drop is like a balm applied
to pricks of conscience and to wounds of pride:
“In life or death, in waking or in sleep,
in health or sickness, thinking or in will,
the lightest height preludes the darkest deep,
the greatest good translates to foulest ill
without the Christus, lifter of the curse,
the great physician of the Universe.”
Rex Raab
Page 9
TRACE ELEMENTS:
A HELP TOWARD UNDERSTANDING
RUDOLF STEINER’S CONCEPTS OF
AGRICULTURE AND MEDICINE
Anna H. Koffler, Ph.D.
In the last issue of Journal for Anthroposophy there was
abeautiful article by the late physician, Dr. Christoph Linder,
on “Rudolf Steiner and the Art of Healing.” He pointed
to the fact that the recognition of the existence of an
objective knowledge of the spiritual world opens the greatest
vista for medical science, “namely a knowledge of body,
soul and spirit, and how they interpenetrate each other, that
goes far beyond the attempts of modern science and psy­
chology.” And he continues: “The student will find that
nothing in this knowledge of the supersensible is in contra­
diction to medical science today. . . . Anthroposophy deals,
among other things, with the study of creative, dynamic
forces as they are related to physiological processes.” At the
close of his article, Dr. Linder asks, “Why is it that this great
impulse (Rudolf Steiner’s contribution to medical knowledge)
is still so little known by the medical profession as a whole?”
He answers by saying that many reasons can be brought
forward, one of which is that “the achievements of synthetic
chemistry are miraculous within their own field and over­
shadow the discoveries of spiritual science that are far more
significant but less conspicuous.”
In the last few years, however, there has been a break­
through in the realm of chemistry, a breakthrough to the
recognition of the importance of the dynamic effects of very
small amounts of metals found everywhere in nature: in
the soil, in plants, animals and man. They are the so-called
trace elements.
What are trace elements? Trace elements, or minor ele­
ments as they are sometimes called, are such elements as
iron, copper, zinc, tin, nickel, cobalt, chromium, boron, silicon
and others which are constantly present in the fluids and
tissues of higher animals, plants and man in very small and
varying amounts. They are often present in traces only, hence
the name trace elements. Often they are so minutely distri­
buted that even the best of our instruments can not measure
them, yet they exert physiological effects. Those elements
which occur in comparatively large quantities are called
major elements, as, for example, carbon, calcium, potassium
and others.
The presence of trace elements in plants, animals and man
has been known for a long time. Reference is here made
not to ancient wisdom but to modem scientific knowledge.
Copper in plants was already described in 1816 and the
presence of manganese was recorded even earlier. Zinc was
first described in plants in 1877 and boron ranks as one of
the oldest known among the trace elements, mentioned as
early as 1857, around which time nickel and cobalt were also
discovered to exist in plants. Relatively early it became
Page 10
known that trace elements were present also in animals and
man.1 These findings were recorded, as so many scientific
data are, without realisation of their physiological importance.
Interestingly, the first impetus to study trace elements
came from the fertilizer industry. As this industry expanded
in the United States on an unprecedented scale, it became
clear that the most common inorganic fertilizers, such as
Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N-P-K) came from
the factory loaded with impurities due to traces of metals
stemming from the equipment, the air, water, etc. Once
applied to the soil they, of course, mingle with a variety of
other materials. One began to realize that some of the
physiological effects upon crops might be due to them.
Interest in this aspect of soil fertility grew to such an extent
in the years after World War II that, as early as 1948, the
Chilean Nitrate Education Bureau had already published
the 4th edition of its Bibliography of the Literature on the
Minor Elements and Their Relation to Plant and Animal
Nutrition.2 But even so, the interest remained primarily
academic; articles published by agriculturalists and plant
physiologists were read by a relatively small group of special­
ized scientists.
But the fire smoldered below ground. Starting about 1962
many articles dealing with the role of trace elements in the
metabolism of plants, animals and man began to appear.
Suddenly there were many publications about the importance
of trace elements in agriculture; about their relationship to
health.
Dr. Steiner had, however, already spoken on many occa­
sions about trace elements. In his Agricultural Course, 1924,
he points, for example, to the significance of silicon in a way
which opens a completely newvista. In his medical lectures,
Spiritual Science and Medicine (Geisteswissenschaft und
Medizin), he explains the role of iron in such an encompassing
manner that one feels his indications to have far surpassed
the total results of modern scientific endeavors. Nevertheless,
a door has been opened in contemporary scientific knowledge;
the first steps have been taken.
At the end of December, 1964, the first Interdisciplinary
Symposium in the Earth and Medical Sciences — Medical
Geology and Geography — was held during the 131st con­
vention of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (A.A.A.S.) under the very capable leadership of
Professor Harry V. Warren, Professor of Geology at the
University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. This
convention took place in Montreal. Beside Professor Warren,
the participants were Mrs. Helen Cannon of the U.S.
Geological Survey, the discoverer of the uranium mines in
the United States on the basis of “plant indicators” provided
by the character of plant life; Dr. Arthur Furst, Institute
of Chemical Biology, University of San Francisco; Dr.
R. F. J. H. Pinsent, M.D., Chairman of the Research Com­
mittee of Council, The College of General Practitioners,
Birmingham, England, and the writer of this article in her
capacity as Professor of Pharmacognosy at Ohio Northern
University, Ada, Ohio.
It was a very gratifying fact thus to see representatives of
several branches of science on this panel. To the best of my
knowledge, this was the first interdisciplinary symposium in
the 131 years since the beginning of the A.A.A.S. conven­
tions: perhaps a first step toward jumping the barriers of
specialization. There are interdisciplinary symposia already
announced for the 132nd convention! Spiritual scientific in­
vestigation, it is true, goes much farther than the partici­
pants in the 1964 conference were able to carry the subject.
Rudolf Steiner points to many terrestrial interrelationships
and beyond this to our relation to the cosmos as a whole.
None of the 1964 participants reached out to the stars; none
brought out the relationship of lead to Saturn, iron to Mars,
or copper to Venus as L. Kolisko has done in many experi­
ments following suggestions by Dr. Steiner,4, 5 but one must,
nevertheless, be grateful for the points which were developed.
with their roots and accumulate trace elements not found in
the shallower layers of the earth. When these plants die,
the upper layers of the soil become enriched with these
elements. Bio-Dynamic compost utilizes weeds. A recent
report in “Chemical Abstracts” about work done on Tashkent
soils in Russia bore out the fact that the total and available
content of manganese increased with depth in correlation
with the humus content of the soil, which increased from
2.99% in the upper part of the soil to 4.84% at 78 cm.
depth.8 Our own work9brought out the fact that some plants
such as Yellow Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria) or Rue
(Ruta graveolens) growing side by side accumulated dif­
ferent amounts of copper irrespective of the copper con­
tent in the upper layers of the soil in which they grew.
Some of the “worst weeds” such asCanadian Thistle (Cirsium
arvense) had the highest trace element content.
All the participants agreed on the great physiological
effects of trace elements. Scientific literature today is full of
work done along this line. Many reports testify to the effect
on crops due to the addition of trace minerals to soil or to
foliar spray application. The yields of certain crops increase,
in others more seeds are formed. A rise of a special enzyme,
cytochrome oxidase, was observed in cabbage, increased starch
formation in potatoes, more grape sugar in grapes, and so
on and on. An infinite variety of physiological and morpho­
logical changes have been cited. These reports bear out that
a slight change in trace mineral concentration may mean
the difference between a beneficial and a toxic effect. The
danger involved in using such trace element solutions or
sprays without great understanding and utmost care is obvious.
The danger is potentially even greater than the haphazard
use of pesticides and most readers are probably familiar with
Silent Spring, the stirring book by Rachel Carson on the
latter theme.6
Many of the so-called weeds have enjoyed an age old
reputation as medicinal plants. Modem medicine and
pharmacy have concentrated on extracting the so-called
chief constituents from plants, and, if at all possible, imi­
tating them in synthetic preparations. But here again the
trace elements can serve as guiding-lights. All plants con­
tain trace elements. Is it so absurd to think that the healing
effect of a plant is due not only to the chief constituents,
but to the syndrome of their constituents: to the plant as a
whole? Modern science is discovering that the trace element
content in plants differs in root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit and
seed. It is also discovering that the accumulation of trace
elements even in the same organs of plants of the same age
differs at different periods of the day. Investigations of vari­
ous human and animal organs show a varying affinity of
certain organs for certain trace elements.
But do not these findings concerning trace elements — if
consequently thought through — point to the great miracle
of life in all its implications and interrelationships? Does one
not come to the conclusion that the balance of nature is so
wonderful that man can not improve it by one-sided applica­
tion of even the finest fertilizer mixtures? Surely, soil condi­
tions today in many instances, due to misuses and abuses, are
such that emergency measures are necessary, but do not all
these findings point to the soundness of those methods which
work with the earth as a living organism with which plants,
animals and man are intimately connected? And is this not
the starting point for Bio-Dynamic agriculture?
Let us take a further example. Manganese plays an im­
portant role as an activator of enzymes catalyzing various
stages of plant respiration. In his book, Trace Elements in
Plants,7 Stiles points out that the oxidation of carbohydrates
to carbon dioxide and water, which is the most usual type
of respiration in plants, involves a long series of reactions.
These reactions require manganese in many of their steps.
Modern agriculture tries to get rid of weeds in order to raise
crops which can be harvested more easily and more eco­
nomically. But weeds often reach into deeper layers of soil
Viewed in this light one stands in greatest awe before
the many indications Dr. Steiner gave for specific uses of
certain medicinal plants and certain minerals to cure specific
illnesses. The reader is referred to the medical lectures by
Dr. Steiner and to such books as Heilpflanzenkunde (Lore
of Medicinal Plants) and Sieben Metalle (Seven Metals) by
Wilhelm Pelikan.10, 11 Unfortunately, these books are in
German and, to my knowledge, have not yet been translated.
In the introduction to the first volume of his Heilpflanzen­
kunde Pelikan writes that when Rudolf Steiner inaugurated
the anthroposophically oriented art of healing in 1920, he
made it clear that we must gain an understanding of the
mutual relationship of man and nature from which we draw
our remedies. He threw light upon these relationships in
the most encompassing manner. But, as is the case with the
whole of Anthroposophy, these relations are not presented
on a silver platter. One must work and study very hard;
one must re-orient one’s thinking. It is possible that the
study of the marvelous effects of trace elements will spur
on some investigators to probe deeper.
Modem usage of medicinal plants in the sense of spiritual
science is not simply going back to the instinctive usage of
healing plants by the ancients. It must, as Pelikan points
out, be based on the understanding of the threefold plant
Page 11
and the threefold human being. The leaf processes and the
rhythmical processes in man, the root process and the
human sense-nerve system, the flower-fruit process and the
metabolic systemmust be considered as corresponding polari­
ties, according to Dr. Steiner.
Coming back to the Symposium on Medical Geology and
Geography: it was possible to raise the question, “In the
light of modem trace element investigations, does it not make
sense to accept as sound a tenet of homeopathic medicine,
namely the working with exceedingly small, no longer meas­
urable amounts of medicines for optimal health effect?”
Dr. Steiner spoke on several occasions of homeopathy and
homeopathising processes. For example, in lecture three of
Spiritual Science and Medicine he calls attention to the ex­
ceedingly small mineral content of beneficial spas. He says
that one is confronted in these spas with a homeopathising
process which shows that the dynamic mineral is separated
from the forces which we can observe quantitatively, in­
cluding measurements by means of various instruments.
In this process new forces become available as the mineral
is freed from its original connection by homeopathising. Still
greater insights are given in the subsequent lectures. Spiritual
Science and Medicine, like many of Dr. Steiner’s works, is
truly interdisciplinary. New light is shed on the realms of
botany, geology and other subject fields.
The participants in the Symposium pointed to the many
dangers to our health stemming from the imbalance in our
food supply. Geological and geographical conditions can
combine to produce soils and vegetable matter with widely
differing amounts of trace elements. Water lines put in
without knowledge of structural and sedimentary geology,
can introduce an excess of trace elements into the water
supply. Pollution, due to various insecticidal and herbicidal
sprays and exhaust from automobiles can change the trace
element content of foods. The latter is particularly true
of lead. — For years the German anthroposophical physician
Dr. Wilhelm zur Linden has pointed to the role of lead from
automobile exhaust in polio — Dr. Pinsent reported on
studies undertaken by the British College of General Practi­
tioners. Its members are being recruited to do field research
in epidemiology in their home communities. A study of the
valley of the Tamar River, which divides Devon from
Cornwall and in which mining has been carried out for
centuries, has suggested that high mineralization was a pos­
sible factor behind an unusually high cancer mortality
rate in this area.
An extensive report on the Symposiumby Professor Warren
was published in “Science,” of April 23rd, 1965. The Sym­
posium was highly publicised and many press reports about
it have appeared. Professor Warren has for many years
pioneered for a better understanding of the relationship of
geology and health. He has untiringly pointed to the changes
in trace element contents of different plants due to the
composition of soil and the surroundings in which they
grew.12
Students of Anthroposophy will find in the scientific in­
Page 12
vestigation of the role of the trace elements many con­
necting links to anthroposophical concepts in agriculture and
medicine. These connections will need patient elaboration.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Underwood, E. J. Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition.
2nd Ed. Academic Press, Inc., New York, 1962.
2. Bibliography of the Literature on the Minor Elements and their Relation
to Plant and Animal Nutrition, Fourth Ed. Chilean Nitrate Educational
Bureau, Inc., New York, 1948.
3. Rudolf Steiner, Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin. Verlag Zbinden &
Huegin, Basel, Switzerland, 1937.
4. Kolisko, L. Physiologischer and physikalischer Nachweis der Wirksamk
eit kleinster Entitaeten. (1923-1959). Arbeitsgemeinschaft anthro
posophischer Aerzte. Stuttgart, Germany.
5. Kolisko, L. Sternenwirken in Erdenstoffen. Der Jupiter und das Zinn.
Mathematisch-astronomische Sektion am Goetheanum, Dornach, Schweiz,
Stuttgart, 1932.
6. Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. 5th Printing. Houghton Mifflin Co.,
Boston. The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1962.
7. Stiles, V. Trace Elements in Plants. 3rd Ed. At the University Press,
Cambridge, 1961.
8. Yakubov, K. Z. and Al. The Distribution of Ca, Mn and Mo in Soils
and the Plants Polygonum corarium and Rumex Transchanicus. Chem.
Abstracts, 60:1060, 1964.
9. Koffler, Anna H. Trace Element Investigations of Medicinal Plants.
Jnl. Am. Inst. Homeopathy 56:279-82, 1963; 57:48-54, 193-96, 262-64,
331-34, 1964.
10. Pelikan, Wilhelm. Heilpflanzenkunde. Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer
Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach, Schweiz. Vol. I. 1958, Vol. II. 1962.
11. Pelikan, Wilhelm. Sieben Metalle. Hybernia Verlag, Dornach/Stuttgart,
1952.
12. Warren, Harry V. Health and Geology. Western Miner and Oil
Review, August 1960.
THE BIO-DYNAMIC MOVEMENT
IN OUR TIME
Herbert Koepf
It is now almost forty-two years since the Bio-Dynamic
work in farming and gardening began to unfold. It started
with a series of eight lectures given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner
at Koberwitz in Silesia at the request of practical farmers
and gardeners. In March, 1965, we commemorated the day
when, forty years earlier, the founder of modem Spiritual
Science left the physical plane. The agricultural movement,
which received the name “Bio-Dynamics” soon after it was
started, is one of the last of the many cultural impulses origi­
nated by Dr. Steiner to come into existence. Having the
task of developing and fostering improved methods in farm­
ing and gardening, the Bio-Dynamic movement finds its job
in a very practical field of human life. Its value in our
economic and cultural system is therefore to be measured
by the practical answers it can give to concrete questions.
But to be truly practical, these answers must, in the long run,
be based on genuine biological concepts called forth by the
ideas of Spiritual Science. Farming, which has already
suffered much under the impact of one-sided, non-biological
concepts, needs a change of approach.
At the time, when the Bio-Dynamic method was started
many more farms than there are today were still fairly com­
plete biological unities raising a variety of crops and animal
stock and providing self-contained feed-fertilizer circuits of
living substances. Fertilizer programs and also pest and
weed control were still, to a great extent, based on tradi­
tional techniques. Only a relatively fewof the many processes
and chemicals now employed in refining, fortifying, condi­
tioning, processing and preserving food were known. Help
was provided at a time when the powerful impact of modem
chemistry and technology on food production was not yet
fully effective. The engine which drove things to become
what they are today gained great strength during the past
thirty to fifty years. This is what we intend to discuss
briefly here.
If we ask a farmer what his grievances are, he is likely
to speak about economic problems rather than biological
ones. It is economic factors which largely control farm
management. In this country, about 1/5 of the farmer’s
net income is government support. When compared with the
figure of 100 in 1949, the price index for farm products in
1962 was 79. That part of the population which will find
its livelihood in farm work is expected to be reduced to half
of its present number by 1980. One man using machines
plows more acres than ever before, feeds more animals and
transports an increased amount of tonnage of products and
supply materials. This trend will continue. Too little time
is left to the farmer for patiently watching the living beings
he works with. He does not have enough time to let his
decisions gradually ripen. It is largely economic pressures
which make farmers change into managers of chicken, corn,
tobacco or cattle industries. Anticipating, as it were, a
situation which was only then beginning to arise, Rudolf
Steiner, in the very first lecture of the Agricultural Course,
spoke briefly about the fact that the true economic principles
of agriculture need to be discovered if farming is to thrive.
“No one can judge agriculture who does not derive his
judgment from field and forest and the breeding of cattle.
All talk of economics which is not derived from the job
itself should really cease.” This calls for organizing farm
work according to the inherent laws of the farm organism
itself.
In our modern agriculture, economic factors are increas­
ingly put ahead of biological ones. In the thirties it was
soil erosion resulting from over-cropping for quick cash
returns, which called for a change in the common malprac­
tices. After the second World War, farmers and gardeners
in this country were flooded with an increasing stream of
chemicals for fertilizing and for weed and pest control. This
trend, which will continue, was described in detail by C. J.
Pratt in the June 1965 issue of “Scientific American.” This
is what he has to say about the economic aspects of ferti­
lizers: “Of all the short-range factors capable of increasing
agricultural production readily — factors including pesticides,
improved plant varieties and mechanization — the largest
yields and the most substantial returns on invested capital
come from chemical fertilizers.” We do not analyze this
statement as to what is true or false. But we envision here
one of the basic forces which fashion farming in our days
and will continue doing so for some time in the future.
The Bio-Dynamic farmer wants to organize his farm ac­
cording to the need for conservation and what the life condi­
tions of plants and animals are. In this endeavor, many in­
novations, for instance new machines, building designs, and
plant varieties of modern farming prove to be helpful to him.
But there are also conditions which work against what he
actually wants to do. How can he cope with the economic
pressure we spoke about? There is an answer, based on
the history of the Bio-Dynamic movement. Bio-Dynamic
farms and commercial and home gardens are concentrated
mainly in Western and Northwestern Europe and the North
American continent. There the movement spread from its
beginning. In some countries, a remarkable line of biodynamically grown products are now offered to those in­
terested in getting them. This Bio-Dynamic movement,
although only recently beginning to gain the respect of of­
ficial science, also stimulated research in organic farm man­
agement, the search for biological disease and pest control
and interest in real quality of food production. Although
Bio-Dynamic farms and gardens are scattered in other parts
of the world too, most of them are located in those areas
where food production has undergone the most drastic
changes as a result of modern technical and chemical prac­
tices. In other words, B.D. farms are to be found where the
negative side-effects of modern farming systems are strongest.
However, this should not be considered the main factor
which influenced the occurrence of B.D. farms. It is rather
the fact that both of the modem systems (technological and
Bio-Dynamic) call for skilled people with good vocational
training. It is true that many turned to Bio-Dynamics because
they still had some traditional feeling for the value of the
method. But this only helped them to get interested. To
continue, requires professionalism. Now, after 40 years’
work done by Bio-Dynamic farmers in countries with highly
developed farm systems, it can be stated that well-operated
farms have done and still do well with this method. But its
success thus far has been based on the skill and idealism of
the individual gardener or farmer. If the movement is to
spread to any great degree, more is required. One will have
to find new approaches to organizing the relation between
producer and consumer in a way that suits them both. Little
has been achieved thus far in this respect. Much more is
needed in such a basic application of the economic principles
of agriculture.
Let us turn now to a few examples of Bio-Dynamic con­
cepts and see how they compare with those commonly
accepted. In the fourth of his agricultural lectures, Rudolf
Steiner speaks about fertilizing the soil. “For many plants
there is absolutely no hard and fast line between the life
within the plant and the life of the surrounding soil in which
it is living. . . . To manure the earth is to make it alive, so
that the plant may not be brought into a dead earth and
find it difficult, out of its own vitality, to achieve all that is
necessary up to the fruiting process. The plant will achieve
more easily what is necessary for the fruiting process if it is
immersed from the outset in an element of life. Funda­
mentally, all plant growth has this slightly parasitic quality.
Page 13
It grows like a parasite out of the living earth. And it
must be so.”
When the plant builds its body, using solid, liquid and
gaseous substances given by earth, water and air, these sub­
stances are brought to a higher level of organization than
they held while outside the plant. They become part of a
living system. This systemhowever, is open to the influence
of its environment. Fertilizing the soil must be more than
just adding a few inorganic elements. It actually means
that the substance which surrounds the roots must be en­
livened. A well-ripened compost is organized substance.
It does not contain elements in excess; rather, they are pres­
ent in almost optimum proportions, it contains food for the
soil life and growth regulating factors, it has a crumbly and
sponge-like consistency from having been chewed and di­
gested by myriads of primitive animals. Gardeners appreci­
ate a compost with this structure. It contains the BioDynamic preparations as organizing factors, etc. When it is
added to the ground, it will not only furnish nutrients but
also stimulate a multitude of bio-chemical, chemical and
even physical processes needed to create optimum conditions
for the roots of the growing plant.
One may ask: “What is wrong with chemical fertilizers?
After all, they increase the yields.” The answer is that,
using these materials is, in too many cases, a one-sided
measure. It may be worth while discussing this matter
briefly. Thanks to the progress of chemistry, one has learned
about the elements of which plants consist. It soon became
clear that some of them, like phosphorus, potash, etc. are
furnished by the soil. Why not add such elements to the
ground instead of depleting it?
Applications of some of these chemical substances in­
creased the yields considerably. A new concept, that of
arbitrarily manipulating organisms was born: one determines
what their building bricks are and uses one or more of these
bricks to manipulate the living whole. Even today relatively
few people realize that this is a double-edged concept. How­
ever successful it may appear in the beginning, it is nonbiological in its essence. It was still a primitive approach
when only a few so-called major nutrients were used as
fertilizers. As time went on, the list of those needed grew
longer. What one did in the beginning was successful
because Nature herself took care of the remainder which
had not been taken care of by man. But side-effects showed
up. Such side-effects are impaired growth and nutritional
value of plants, a declining capacity of the soil to properly
transfer these fertilizers to the plant, increased susceptibility
of plants to pests, diseases, etc.
To avoid bad side-effects, fertilizing, above all, must en­
hance and strengthen the life-functions of the soil, which will
then regulate and balance the nutrient supply.
During the last few years, the Biochemical Research
Laboratory, together with others, has worked mainly on
improved methods of soil fertilizing. Thanks to the work
done for a number of years by Mr. Michael Scully in the
Page 14
Mid-West, a working and economically feasible system of
farm composting has been worked out which meets the
special requirements in that area. At another place, an im­
proved compost mixture is now in production which is good
with respect to the quality of the compost, the nutrient
formula and its fitness for modern farm machinery. Current
research deals with the physiological effect on plants of
herbs used for the Bio-Dynamic Preparations and of organic
fertilizers and substances which occur in the stubble and roots
left in the field after harvesting. It should be emphasized,
however, that this country is badly in need of many more
large-scale research programs to check on the present gigantic
waste of organic fertilizers and the mining of natural soil
productivity than our small group can dream of accomplish­
ing at this time. There is a definite need to rebuild the
circuits of living substances in Nature which have been
destroyed in many places by so-called modern systems of
growing food.
The questionable scheme of manipulating living organisms,
to which we have referred, can be found in many meta­
morphoses. Here are a few examples. The present com
rootworm calamity in the Mid-West could be adequately
checked if one would quit growing com continuously. Con­
fining large numbers of animals in mechanized feeding outfits
entails sanitation and disposal problems. The Winter 1965
issue of “Bio-Dynamics” gives detailed examples of bad sideeffects of one particular compound, nitrate. Many other
effects of life-manipulation could be cited. Again and again
one finds Goethe’s words confirmed: “Nothing happens in
living Nature that is not in relation to the whole.” These
words find practical application in Bio-Dynamic farming
and gardening, which is based on an insight into the mutual
relations of soil, plants and animals. It is one of the tasks
of our Bio-Dynamic work to correct one-sided approaches.
What we mentioned about soil fertilization, is one example
only in this respect. But the significance of the impulse in­
augurated over forty years ago can be clearly recognized
today.
MORALITY AND THE EXPERIENCE
OF KNOWLEDGE*
John Gardner
I tried in The Experience of Knowledge** to demonstrate
that real knowing, the knowing of reality, can be bom only
of a slowly maturing experience that involves the whole man.
What I should like to suggest now is that a purely cerebral
form of knowledge which fails to elicit the student’s whole
power of response not only fails to lay hold on the reality of
events but also has important consequences for the student’s
moral development. The more clearly we visualize all that
should enter into full-fledged cognition, the more readily can
we trace out these consequences.
*From The Waldorf School News, by kind permission.
**Proceedings, Number 14, Spring 1962, The Myrin Institute, Inc.
Let us imagine that a junior high school student has been
brought along ever since kindergarten with the idea of looking
at the here and now in a quite factual way. He is trained
to be logical and ‘critical’, as the saying goes, in the thoughts
he forms about facts. The natural inclination towards in­
living and in-feeling have been ignored by the pursuit of what
contemporary Western adults call knowledge. Can we not
see what will be the result?
We shall have before us a young person trained in a super­
ficial alertness and a deeper unresponsiveness, a person who
takes an impersonal attitude towards both facts and thoughts.
He will not be personally involved. He will not be self­
active. The world of appearances will pass before his outer
eye. The ‘stream of consciousness’, in the form of miscel­
laneously associated ideas, will pass before his inner eye.
He will attach himself intimately with neither. He will
develop an amoral attitude towards all that comes to him as
knowledge, which is to say, towards himself aswell as towards
people and things.
The amoral attitude that develops from the superficial
experience of knowledge is the feeling of irresponsibility.
Moral irresponsibility is the consequence of psychological
unresponsiveness. The words themselves showthe connection.
For one who views the world externally, it may seem con­
cretely real; yet it is on the way to becoming unreal. Nothing
is quite real which does not produce inner conviction. Inner
conviction is a summarizing experience of feeling and will.
But a purely external world is unexperienceable. An un­
experienced world does not “signify’, is therefore insignificant;
and a world without significance is essentially unreal, for all
its gross materiality. The knower of such a world shares in
its unrealness. He is more mirror than man, in his knowing.
Here we have the original breach of contract, the original
deception. We have young persons trained to say ‘I know’
when they do not know, and who do not even suspect the
existence of a difference between what they call knowing and
real knowing. Such persons deceive themselves when they
assume that they know; and from self-deception they have
not far to go before they can, with scarcely a twinge of con­
science, deceive others. For an unreal student in an unreal
world, plagiarism and cheating do not seemparticularly im­
portant. The way is short from this kind of untrustworthiness
in student days to misrepresentation and fraud as an adult.
“To thine own self be true”, Shakespeare said, “And it
must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be
false to any man.” Acquiring knowledge is the main business
of education, and in our time education is the business in
which young people are mainly engaged. How true to himself
is the elementary and secondary student in his pursuit of
knowledge?
He is scarcely true at all, since he is educated to observe
without feeling, and to arrive at externally suggested or
compelled conclusions without the intuitive confirmation that
should result from complete experience. He is wthout
conscience in his knowing. “In the uttermost meaning of
the words,” Emerson said, “thought is devout, and devotion
is thought. Deep calls unto deep.” But of the modem
student, who follows his modem teacher, it were truer to
say: Surface calls to surface; the world-process externally
viewed calls to superficial powers of cognition. The inner
man remains inactive and asleep, unrealized and therefore
unreal.
Between a somewhat unreal self and a somewhat unreal
world what is more natural than an unreal relationship, one
that shifts and dissolves in an ephemeral sort of way? Such
a relationship is the basis for untrustworthiness, fraud, and
deception of every kind. Does not ephemerality of rela­
tionship go far to explain why some house-builders, some TV
repairmen, some auto mechanics will say they have done the
job, when in fact they have only gone through certain routines.
These ‘good people’ do not mean to do evil! They are simply
somewhat numb and uncaring towards reality. And because
they have a vague bond with the real world, either outside or
inside themselves, fairly minor desires or impulses can steer
them to wrong-doing. When full responsiveness lapses, the
sense of moral responsibility grows anemic. In this weakened
condition the least factor of laziness or selfish desire will
suffice to lull it to sleep or abrogate it entirely.
We have suggested that when the act of cognition leaves
the deeper self untouched, both that self and the world which
that self knows become ephemera. Integrity of self and
reality of world are lost at the same time. It is therefore no
wonder that the bonds uniting such a self with such a world
will loosen. Superficiality of contact means loss of firm
adherence, the beginning of slipperiness, shiftiness, untrust­
worthiness. But there are also other moral consequences of
the aborted act of cognition.
Observe, for instance, that the desire of the self to ex­
perience full self-activity in knowledge is part of an equally
fundamental desire: for the self to transcend itself in experi­
ence of the Other. As it ordinarily lives in the world today,
the self feels confined by its own narrowness, vulnerable
because of its own weakness, lonely because of its isolation.
And it is bored. The self seeks release. It seeks a larger
strength. It seeks surprise, entertainment, adventure. It seeks
love.
Release, recreation, and reinforcement for the self should
properly come from contact with the Other; and this contact
is properly made through the act of knowledge. But when
knowledge is on-looking rather than in-working, there is no
flowing of the self into the Other, or of the Other into the
self. The self must therefore look for another way out of its
prison. And this is the beginning of a whole new category
of immoral tendencies and deeds. The thrill-seeking that
ends in drug addiction, eroticism, violence, and so on, may
be traced back to the central fact that knowledge has lost its
savor. The savor of knowledge depends upon the degree to
which the self shares in the actual life of what surrounds it:
becomes as strong as granite, as subtle as water, as joyful as
air, in knowing these objects.
Page 15
The self will out. Drugs, sex, speed, violence seemto offer
ways out; but the trouble with all of them is that their ways
are illusory. At the end of each adventure lies not freedom
but chains. Every purely sensual thrill leaves sensibility
deadened. Every escape builds a tighter prison.
True knowing, deeper knowing, intuitive-participatory
knowing is the proper thrill for the spirit of man. When it is
realized, sensual experience is lifted to spiritual experience.
But when it is not realized, other joys fall into disorder.
They are on the way to becoming immoral appetites.
Rudolf Steiner said that “Love is the experience of another
being in one’s own self.” If this be true, love requires two
things. It calls for a genuinely active self, and it requires
that this self reach beyond itself to adopt other beings into
its experience. But we have just shown that education usually
tends to leave the self inactive and that it does not help the
individual to transcend himself in experience of the other.
Thus education does not generally encourage the unfolding
of love.
The moral consequences of this failure to develop a loving
relationship between self and world include the loss of mean­
ing in life, loss of the aptitude for freedom, and loss of
creativeness. In tracing these consequences, we shall en­
counter other characteristic results which are becoming the
very signature of our time.
A man is replenished through love. As Emerson said,
“What a man loves, that he has . . .” When one loves the
world he lives in, the people he meets, the work he does, he
is filled with positive content which makes him generous and
charitable. And since “to him that hath shall be given,”
his overflowing plenitude is a blessing gladly received and
returned in kind by others.
But the man who does not love has not this same fullness.
He is like a well in which the water not only does not over­
flow as a spring, but in which the water level is progressively
dropping. This man looks upon the world around him ex­
ternally, and so finds nothing in it to touch his heart; for
while externalities can be important if they manifest or
betray some secret, if there be no inwardness behind their out­
wardness, they prove insignificant. The truly insignificant
cannot be loved.
When love fails, the well-spring of the affirmative self dries
up. The receding waters create a kind of suction which we
may call negative selfhood, or selfishness. The self does not
flow outwards into life, but seeks to draw life towards itself.
It tries to fill its lack of being by much having. And this is
a characteristic of modem, Western man. He is addicted to
possessions. He seeks happiness through acquisition: of
money, power, prestige.
The difficulty is, a drying spring cannot be replenished by
the pouring in of water, but only by renewed upwelling.
No amount of desire to possess things can make up for the
failure to love things. “What a man loves, that he has; but
by desire he robs himself of that love.”
Page 16
Selfishness is one of the tendencies most often seen in
modem youth, and most to be deplored. This selfishness
develops, I believe, in persons who are not full enough of
love to overflow into generous thought and action. Such
persons are unawakened by the world around them because
they view this world as an externality, as a Thing and things.
This way of viewing is acquired through education.
A selfish person is moved by the pang of inner emptiness.
This emptiness is a state of non-being inside him. Non-being
is a hunger that asks to be fed. The only food that would
genuinely still the hunger of non-being is being. But our cul­
ture, which in general is very hungry, instead of recognizing
what is wrong and learning how to remedy it, hastens still
further along the road which brought it in the first place to
hunger instead of satisfaction. It turns even more avidly to
external things. It develops an insatiable appetite for ma­
terial goods and services. But though the entire earth be
exploited and devastated in pursuit, satisfaction cannot be
reached in this way, for externality is itself non-being, and
the destroyer of value.
Who does not love, cannot create. And the man who can
neither love nor create is no real man. To become creative
one must know how to pass beyond one’s personal limits and
take inspiration from the Other. And then one must know
how to find the way back, allowing inspiration to flow
through oneself into deeds of execution. To bring power
from beyond the self into the self for the enhancement of
self-activity, this is to become creative. This is the gain of
right cognition, and the loss to be expected from wrong
cognition.
“The man who can enter and leave at will is at home,”
said George Macdonald. Through right cognition man finds
the way out of himself lovingly and back into himself
creatively, and thus makes himself at home, as a free man,
in the universe.
BEWARE OF LSD*
Franz E. Winkler, M.D.
Editor’s Note: This is the full text of an article which ap­
peared in a somewhat more condensed form in THIS WEEK
magazine several years ago. Its theme and message are more
urgent today than ever.
So overwhelming are the political and technological events
of our day that by comparison the most vital issues of the
mind seem all too insignificant. Thus the rank and file of
our citizens have remained almost entirely unaware that a
small but highly influential group of people rely increasingly
on drug-induced inspiration.
This development is of nationwide importance for two
reasons:
1) a nation’s mind is shaped and guided by sentiments of
its cultural and intellectual leaders, sentiments which today
•Reprinted from THIS WEEK Magazine. Copyright 1960 by the United
Newspaper Magazine Corporation.
are not too seldom born of a drug-induced consciousness.
2) Some enthusiasts conduct a person-to-person campaign
in the conviction that mind-changing drugs, if used at all,
would bring about a better world. This conviction was
clearly stated by Aldous Huxley in an article published in
the Saturday Evening Post of October 18, 1958 under the
title “Drugs That Shape Men’s Minds”. “My own belief
is that . . . this new mind-changer will tend in the long run
to deepen the spiritual life in the communities in which
they are available. That famous revival of religion . . .
will not come about as the result of evangelic mass meetings
. . . it will come about as the result of bio-chemical dis­
coveries that will make it possible for large numbers of men
and women to achieve a radical self-transcendence and a
deeper understanding of the nature of things. And this
revival of religion will be at the same time a revolution . .
If a prominent man like Huxley uses such glowing words,
it seems that the time is ripe for ordinary citizens to take
note at last, and ask the question: Are these mind-changers
friends or foes?
Among the mind-changing drugs used in groups or
“churches,” the best known are Mescalin and Lysergic acid
Diathylamide (LSD), derived from poisonous mushrooms,
diseased grain or their synthetic equivalents. These and
similar chemicals are under investigation by scientists, some
of whom consider a public debate at this time premature.
From a traditional point of view they are correct; but the
absolute power that mind-changing drugs can give to a few
experts — no less human than the rest of us — ought to
make us pause to think.
Is not the very existence of such drugs — undoubtedly to
be followed by even more powerful ones — a warning that
we can no longer consider science a goddess and her servants
infallible priests? Ours is a scientific era, an era in which
the majority looks with a touching child-like trust to the
few endowed with specialized skills. And indeed, most of
these specialists are brilliant, devoted scholars who cannot
be blamed for the doubtful course on which modern science
has embarked during the last decades. The blame rests on
those of us who have burdened our specialists with a respon­
sibility so heavy that it can only be borne by all.
Today science is the greatest power on earth; its future
course can be truly beneficial for the human race, but only
if guided by public conscience; if left to a few specialists it
is bound to become a merciless tyrant. What, after all, is a
specialist? A man who knows his job. He need not be a
chemist or physicist, he may be a business man, laborer or
lawyer. Thus we can all be experts in one sphere or other.
Why, then, do we look up with such awe to the few whose
specialties are beyond our immediate scope?
Not that we should begrudge them the respect and grati­
tude which they so fully deserve, but we should also consider
the natural limitations of the too highly gifted. Usually the
more deeply a person penetrates into one of life’s aspects,
the greater will be his difficulties in seeing life as a whole,
and the more imperative his need for constructive criticism
on the part of ordinary people.
Science is not a domain of specialized intellect alone —
its course affects civilization as a whole, and its is therefore
the responsibility of all who are willing to think. Just as the
ordinary citizen, although excluded from classified informa­
tion is nevertheless duty-bound to influence world events by
virtue of his constitutional rights, he must also usehis common
sense to participate, at least in thought, in the no less vital
affairs of scientific developments. Unless he does this, he
may one day find himself confronted with irreversible facts
such as drugs capable of changing his consciousness added to
his drinking water or essential foods.
We cannot help but wonder how far off the time may be,
when some well-meaning scientists with the help of equally
well-meaning politicians will introduce a drug that may
reduce juvenile delinquency to a mere whisper of rebellion
and — incidentally — normal consciousness to the state of
a contented cow. True, such a step may require public
approval but who in our day can withstand authority allied
with the persuasive power of promotion unless he has
conscientiously followed the course of events long before
they reach their critical state! Unless we stop acting as a
mass and learn to think as individuals, we shall lose our
freedom as certainly as if we were to make Mr. Kosygin
our next Secretary of Defense.
The time is later than we think, but not too late, provided
the average American learns to exert his thinking to limits
of his possibilities, and starts to do so with the problem of
mind-changing drugs.
Let us first look at the medical application of LSD and
Mescalin, and see if common sense can contribute anything
to specialized information. In an article published November
8, 1959 in “This Week,” Joe Hyams writes that encouraging
results have been obtained in a number of alcoholic cases
who have proved inaccessible to the more traditional forms
of therapy. Our own experience obtained from interviews
with patients, psychiatrists and lay-therapists confirms Mr.
Hyams’ claims.
This is information for which we depend on psychiatric
sources but need not be specialists to form our opinion on
the nature of such success. Anyone closely acquainted with
an alcoholic — and who, today, is not — will be able to
make the following observation: the typical alcoholic is in­
capable of communicating fully with his fellow men except
when in a state of intoxication. Whenever his loneliness
becomes intolerable, he will resort to drink. Since, however,
alcohol destroys not only his inhibitions but also his conscious­
ness, his communications with other people — usually also
drunks — are distorted and end in embarrassment and further
withdrawal. Eventually, thoroughly discouraged, he will
resort to lonely drinking, which is no less than the abondonment of his selfhood to living death.
What the layman cannot find out by himself, and for
which he must rely on such information as given in this
Page 17
magazine for example, is the effects LSD and similar drugs
have on the patient’s mind. From our own experience we
would say the effects are two-fold:
1) LSD lowers as Mr. Hyams points out, “the barrier
between the conscious and unconscious, permitting the patient
to look more deeply into himself.”
2) It reduces his inhibitions and thus, temporarily breaks
down the invisible walls he has built to protect himself against
the world which he fears and yet seeks. In this, LSD differs
from alcohol in one important aspect only: it leaves the
patient’s personality intact, so that he can — possibly for the
first time in his life — communicate with another person as
a rational human being.
There can be no doubt that increased self-knowledge
coupled with the tremendous joy of breaking through the
walls of loneliness may affect a long respite from the urge of
drink. Yet, again, we need not be physicians or psychologists
to realize that a person who, without the help of an intoxi­
cant is incapable of living with himself and his fellow-men,
must have been sick before he ever tasted his first drink.
Mr. Hyams, knowing this well, writes that LSD without
effective psychotherapy “would be useless, possibly danger­
ous.” But the question must arise: do we possess an effective
form of psychotherapy for the alcoholics? Let us disregard
here the AA and some other groups of devoted lay-therapists.
They have one thing in common: the memory of grace re­
ceived and the hope of becoming a vehicle to the same grace
for others. No one, not even the most down to earth scien­
tist can dispute their amazing feats of healing.
But professional psychotherapy is another matter. Its ideas,
though refined, are basically not different from those seen in
our television plays, movies and fiction. Modern psychology
sees in a neurotic patient primarily a person whose balance
between conscious (social) and subconscious (desire) life is
disturbed, whose healing depends on the fulfillment of his
repressed wishes. Yet, this philosophy which rules our
thinking, far from giving rise to a sane generation, has re­
sulted in a frightening increase in alcoholism, narcotic addic­
tion and juvenile delinquency.
No, the alchoholic at least, has a quite different problem:
his conscious and subconscious ambitions in life are greater
than the strength of his spiritual nature. Dimly aware of the
true cause of his illness, he craves for help which strengthens
these spiritual resources. Unscientific? Maybe. But ask
any truly cured alcoholic for the cause of his recovery, and
you will find in his reply little mention of science.
But why speak of all this when our topic is LSD and
Mescalin? Because the real purpose of this article is to pre­
vent more disappointment and heartbreak. For, nothwith-st
anding such cautioning remarks as conclude Mr. Hyams
article, an almost fierce hope is spreading among alcoholics
and their friends. A physician interested in such a problem
is confronted almost daily with the question: Do you know
of that new drug which will cure alcoholism? For such is
Page 18
man’s nature that he will see what he longs to see, and over­
look what he does not want to know, especially when the
former is the message of a whole article and the latter con­
tained in a few words of caution. But to an alcoholic another
shattered hope may be the last.
Thus, if we want to avoid countless tragedies, we all, lay­
men as well as physicians, must face this fact: alcoholism is
not only a disease of the body, it is also an illness of the soul.
LSD and Mescalin compel the patient to lower his guards
against his own subconscious mind and the world around
him. The doors to his heart are open at last, and this may
well be a step in the right direction. But his fate will be
determined by what will enter through those open doors.
If it is no more than hypnotic suggestions or the usual trivi­
alities of some of today’s psychotherapy, his respite of hope
— and soberness — may well end in an irreversible relapse.
Summarizing I would like to say: every medical develop­
ment has its inevitable hazards. Whenever such development
aims at artificially changing the human mind, these hazards
are especially serious, and become the concern of all thinking
people. I feel, however, that whenever a new venture is
motivated by a sincere wish to help the sick, it will, if
pursued with a measure of humility on the part of the
physician and the greatest possible understanding on the part
of the public, eventually work for the good.
However, we are confronted with an entirely different
situation where attempts are made to change human con­
sciousness artificially for the attainment of religious or artistic
aims. What actually happens in an LSD or Mescalin induced
state of mind?
I shall give you a picture condensed from a considerable
number of similar experiences related to me by sane and
reliable people. Some time after the intake of the drug,
physical objects begin to lose their rigidity and seem to
become animated. In the words of a noted author: “All
things, even the very stones were vividly alive. Everything
communicated with everything else, wordlessly but eloquently
and intimately and with perfect balance and cadence washed
in . . . the great tides and swells of the pervading living
harmony.” Gradually the drug seems to separate its user
from his body and make him one with the universal whole.
All other creatures become his brothers and sisters and the
kinship he feels fills him with compassion, happiness and
hope.
Yet this is not all, for on the climax of the experience the
ecstatic becomes aware of the existence of God. Small
wonder that our idealists want everyone to join in the drug
induced ecstacy. “What wrong can there be,” so they argue,
“in an experience which brings about awareness of God,
brotherly love and creativity.” And, indeed, if God had
planned to populate the earth with angels rather than with
men, but had failed to achieve this goal for lack of LSD,
our dreamers would be right.
Yet, provided we are at all willing to seek for the meaning
in the course of history, our interpretation of God’s master-
plan must differ from theirs. Apparently it is the struggle to
find God, to develop the capacity for love and creativity
which is the purpose of human existence. It is this struggle
which alone can make man grow; take it away and you will
warp his soul.
At the risk of sounding sanctimonious I must, at this point,
refer to the Bible. Why? Because whenever a religious
problem is raised, the logical point of reference in a JudeoChristian civilization is the Bible. One of its most impressive
stories is the tale of Christ’s temptation. In it Jesus is
offered rulership over the earth. Keeping in mind the
biblical concept of Christ as one with the Omnipotent
Divinity, such an offer must seem absurd except for the
following consideration: His physical rulership would auto­
matically do away with spiritual blindness, hate and lack of
creativity. To a compassionate being — maybe even to a
god —such an offer could be tempting indeed. But it would
interfere with the meaning of man’s mission on earth which,
according to all major creeds, is to reach his lofty goal
through moral efforts.
A state of consciousness in which vision of God, a feeling
of brotherhood and increased creativity is brought about
effortlessly by a drug, may well have dire consequences for
the human soul. In earlier eras such attempts would have
been called a sin against the Spirit of Creation, also called
the Holy Ghost.
But let us leave the last word on religion to the theologian,
and turn once more to psychology. Allegedly cautious use of
LSD (and Mescalin) is harmless for healthy individuals.
Little as one person’s opinion may count, I emphatically dis­
agree with this view. To me, at least, definite changes were
noticeable, even in people who had taken the drug only
once or twice. If these changes can be described at all, they
could be compared with the increased heat and radiance
of a lamp which bums its fuel too fast. The drug adds
nothing to the personality; it simply whips it into higher
gear, and this can and probably must cause eventual dis­
integration.
Not all which is new is progress, least of all when it con­
cerns the human soul. Maybe Browning had an inkling of
conditions to come when he said, “It is an awkward thing
to play with souls and matter enough to save one’s own.”
A VOICE OF ANTHROPOSOPHY
A BOOK REVIEW
George O'Neil
Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield, Wesleyan University
Press, 1965. $5.00.
There is a new book out to enjoy and to pass on to friends.
A fascinating yam, ruggedly honest, and as tough going in
spots as any lawyer, physicist, theologian, or better-world
liberal would want. Owen Barfield brings an extraordinary
assortment of gifts: a steel-trap legal mind, a poet’s link
with the spirit of speech, and an uncanny eye for people.
And he is able to weave it together in a haunting story pat­
tern. One can understand Wesleyan Press being willing to
risk the off-beat substance, the Anthroposophy. More writers
of this caliber and artistry, and what a different, what an
other world it would be! For those, that is, who belong to
the future, and search out the seed-points of things to come.
Barfield has done a half a dozen volumes on language,
history, and the evolution of consciousness as reflected in
men’sways of using thought. Worlds Apart, the most recent,
was a study of water-tight mental compartments among pro­
fessionals. A delightful weekend dialogue-war, one that can
be read aloud for the sheer joy of the characterizations, the
babel of separate tongues in current disciplines. Unancestral
Voice carries on. Burgeon, the lawyer-linguist host, again
tells the story. The dialogue continues, but stepped up. The
problem: the creative mind’s relation to his own source of
illumination. And isn’t this the gist of Rudolf Steiner’s con­
tribution? Must not the productive man today find his own
individual intuitive voice of ideas. Isn’t this the survival
question?
The topics and themes we must leave to the reader’s
adventure. But one point deserves mention. The composi­
tion of ideas treated is beautifully organic, living. The book
grows. It roots in raw social facts, such as the swamp of
sexuality seeping into culture, the delinquency of kids with­
out tradition and authority during the time they need to
respect it, and crime and the virulence of the pro and con
among those who would meet it. After the facts come the
riddles of time and evolution and the actual meaning of
history — changes in human beings from age to age. The
book culminates then on the blossoming of the human spirit,
the crisis today in science, in thinking. The outlook is dim
or radiant depending how we choose. And the choice —
there’s no question there — is prejudice or insight. Open­
ness to new ideas. The result of such an unfolding develop­
ment of thoughts is the after-effect on the reader. Because of
the viable form, they can live on and work. The book
digests well.
As a story-telling device we are introduced to 16th cen­
tury Maggidism. A little known biography of Joseph Karo
is quoted. A lawyer-mystic in whom the voice of the angel
spoke. Burgeon’ssource of intuitive ideas progressively grows
objective, becomes a dialogue within the mind. He person­
ifies it. In this way Anthroposophy, the knowledge that
the spirit of man generates to lead him into the spirit of the
world, can be introduced in novel form. And it has charm.
The Meggid, as he names the entity, is lovable. And he or
she (one is not sure which) is often provoked by Burgeon’s
thick-headedness. One thing this sort of device permits is
to show in picture form the stages by which the intuitive
process develops. — First in the quiet of the morning hours
the Voice speaks. Speaks in pure thought, which must be
translated into awkward earth words. After various courtings
and encounters, it sinks deeper. During the history dis­
course on shipboard (taking off from Toynbee) Burgeon
really “gets going.” He is surprised at his own eloquence
and learning, begins to realize he’s been helped in the
debate on theology and Timelessness. A third phase comes
in the crisis among the scientists in the lecture hall. Burgeon’s
young friend has been worked into a corner during his lecture
on the Crisis in Micro-Physics. Can inspiration work at a
distance . . . as a field-effect. It is a dramatic moment,
especially for the future of science. So runs the illumination
of the man Burgeon.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Frederick Heckel: former staff reporter of the NewYork Times;
editor Proteus magazine; currently associated with Alice Heckel
in editing Bio-Dynamics, quarterly published by the BioDynamic Farming & Gardening Association, Inc., R.D. 1,
Stroudsburg, Pa. 18360.
Ralph Courtney: former Chief European Correspondent of the
New York Tribune; author and lecturer on social questions;
leader of the Threefold Farm community, Spring Valley, N. Y.
until his death, July 1, 1965.
Danilla Rettig: poet, eurythmist, teacher in the Waldorf school
movement.
Albert Steffen: poet, dramatist, novelist, essayist. Author over
70 published volumes. Editor, 1921-63, of weekly periodical
Das Goetheanum. President, General Anthroposophical Society,
1926 until his death, July 13, 1963.
There will be difficulties for some. The language is pure
English. The provenance of the substance is Steiner’s
German. Much seems strange at first until one remembers
that for good translation the writer must return to the same
sources from which the original stemmed: the idea. But this
more or less is the theme of the book. Perhaps the science
of things of the spirit will first flourish here on the wings of
the Western word. The Meggid as angel of the logos would
care for that.
Hermann Poppelbaum, Ph.D.: author of Man and Animal,
Anthroposophical Publishing Co., London, 1960; A New
Zoology, Philosophical-Anthroposophical Publishing Co., Dor­
nach, 1960; Man’s Eternal Biography, Adonis Press, re-issued
by Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1965, and other works.
Member of the Vorstand, General Anthroposophical Society;
leader National Science Section, School for Spiritual Science,
Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland.
Another difficulty may be raised for others. That of
acknowledgement of source. In Worlds Apart Sanderson
does acknowledge at length and sharply his Steinerian source,
and wrestles with the question of how long an idea or per­
ception must live in you before it becomes indigenous. Here
Steiner goes unmentioned, although the Meggid on the final
page reveals itself as the voice of Anthroposophia. Does this
separate the teachings from the name? But the writer
stands by his life-work. A novel emerges from the man.
What one has experienced in one’s fibers is one’s own.
And the source stands written in broad script for all with
the sense to see.
Anna Koffler, Ph.D.: Professor of Pharmacognosy, Ohio North­
ern University, Ada, Ohio.
For members and friends the book has special value. The
language of Anthroposophy was re-formed every decade
during Steiner’s life. It was part of his genius to achieve
this. Today too, to live and work, spirit must find new
formulations. For study-circles and talk-sessions we’ve been
provided with a fine challenge to learn how Anthroposophy
can sound in the 60’s and 70’s. And how it can be spoken
to and be received by ears atuned to the patois of the day.
Page 20
Rex Raab: poet, architect, designer. Author of Not to Imagine
is to Die, Adonis Press, New York.
Herbert Koepf, Ph.D.: Director Bio-Chemical Laboratory,
Spring Valley, N. Y.; Professor of Soils, on leave from Hohenheim College, Germany.
John Gardner: Faculty Chairman, Waldorf School of Adelphi
University; Director, Waldorf Institute for Liberal Education,
Adelphi University.
Franz Winkler, M.D.: practicing physician; author Man, The
Bridge Between Two Worlds, Harper & Row, New York, 1960
(paperback, 1965); President, The Myrin Institute for Adult
Education, Adelphi University.
George O’Neil: essayist, lecturer, teacher.
SUBSCRIPTIONS:
$1.00 for members of the Anthroposophical Society.
$1.50 for non-members.
Additional copies 50 cents each.
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