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Part I Light Metabolism
In our seven presentations on the path through nature, I pointed to the polarity between the path of knowledge or the path of pure spiritual activity, and the path through nature. I described the path of knowledge as the one that is involved in the actual investigation of the knowledge process and the thinking activity that is connected with this. Polaric with this is the path through nature. The path through nature in itself has a polarity. One pole is the path through outer nature, and the other is the path through inner nature–a path through human nature. We culminated the path through human nature with the seventh presentation. We discussed in imaginative fashion the carbon process, the oxygen process, the nitrogen process, and the hydrogen process. We related these images to the metabolic physical activity of the human organism.
In order to approach the metabolic system and the path of substance through man, we referred to the four steps that Rudolf Steiner has given. These four steps are the actual digestive process that lies between the mouth and the taking of substance into the blood. This is step number one. Step number two is the weaving activity that exists at the point of the taking up of substance into the blood and weaving it into the rhythmic/respiratory-circulatory system. Step number three is involved with the transformation of substance, where this substance is brought into the sphere of the activities that alternate between the kidney, the brain, and the actual respiratory process. Step four, we pointed to the processes where substances are penetrated by the activities connected with the senses, liver, spleen, and gall.
These four steps lead us to knowledge of substance. Important to note is that this is just one aspect of these four steps. With light metabolism, we now have to take up step number two. This second step through man is very much connected with light metabolic activities. The substance metabolic processes are penetrated by all the activities of the four steps through man. In the case of light metabolic activities, there are relations with step number one, but we will be concerned primarily with step number two. This is the step where life enters the human organism as a result of light metabolism. We have to approach the activities which enter the rhythm of the blood and the breathing processes. We can say that step number two has to do essentially with light metabolism and life, step number one with substance and its transformations in metabolism. At each step the other steps have their role, but we have to focus on the essential aspects and activities of each step. To repeat, we can say that in the case of our last presentations we considered the path of substance through the four steps in man, remaining within the metabolic system. Now we wish to gradually take up the problem of step number two as it relates itself to light.
If we are to speak of light, we have to begin to make some distinctions. The light that we say we see, in fact we don’t see. We see lighted objects. The process by which we are able to see light requires a supersensible cognitive faculty. Light is an etheric element. It weaves itself within the outer physical world. It penetrates the outer physical world, and what essentially we have as the outer light phenomena is actually a reflective process. It is not a direct perception of light itself. If we look at a lighted lamp, we have another light or type of light. In the lamp or light bulb we have a light that comes out of a transformation of physical substance through warmth and tension. The lamp light is more of a physical light. This is a second aspect of light. A third direction in which we can look at light is the light within the human being. This light has to be brought in relationship to the outer supersensible light processes and the outer physical generated light. The inner light is not so ethereal, but is more related to what we call the astral. As we note, there is an etheric light but there is also an astral light. The light of consciousness is connected with the astral. It is the inner light ether process that is connected with life. Hopefully we can consider and clarify some of these distinctions. A final light is that associated with outer fire or burning processes.
If we begin by looking at the human being, and make a saggital section (a section from right to left) of that human being directly through the head, we will then find that the brain is swimming in a vessel of water. The brain is surrounded with water. In the middle of the brain we will see two kidney-like structures where the outer curvature of the kidney is toward the center and the inner curve is actually pointed outwards. These are cross sections of the two major ventricles. If they are seen in three dimensions they are highly complex, but in a saggital section the ventricles look like a variant of a kind of bean-like or kidney-like structure. From the ventricles flows an aqueduct that goes down into the spinal cord itself. From the aqueduct there is an opening so that fluid can flow from the ventricles into the space around the brain, the subarachnoid space. This meningeal space is full of spinal fluid, which also runs down to the vertebral canal. This fluid is continually created. The fluid is created within the ventricles of the cerebrum. In the vascular plexuses in the ventricles the spinal fluid is “cried” into the ventricles. It flows down through the aqueduct and into the spinal cord itself. Some of the fluid escapes through openings into the surrounding cerebrospinal spaces. This is a continual process of formation and a continual process of circulation. The cerebrospinal fluid finally is reabsorbed (“sucked”) into the venous system to pass once more into the heart. So that we have a fluid created out of the blood capillaries in the ventricles. It circulates in the ventricles down the spinal cord out into the subarachnoid spaces, and is reabsorbed into the circulatory system again. This is a very active process of circulating the “tears” of the brain. We can compare this circulation of fluid with something comparable in the kidney. The ventricles are like two everted kidney structures. The fluid system recirculates in the brain continually, also like processes in the nephrons and tubules of the kidney. In the case of the kidney, we have two bean-shaped structures with the hilus towards the center of the body, and the greater curvatures oriented laterally. If the two kidney calacys and ureters are united we have something that resembles the ventricles and central canal of the central nervous system. In the kidneys we have a “tear formation,” a circulatory and reabsorption process. Each kidney is made up of millions of nephrons. A nephron is like an eye-cup with a tuft of blood vessels in the middle of the cup. The tubules are elongate extensions of the cup. An immense amount of blood flows through the tufts (glomerular capillaries). Fluid is “cried” out of the blood–is taken up into the cup of the nephron (the glomerulus), and “tears” flow down in the tubules. About 98% of the “tears” are reabsorbed to re-enter the circulatory system, just as the cerebrospinal fluid re-enters the venous system. The bladder, with its negative pressure, sucks a small amount of “tears” into the bladder. What arrives in the bladder is about a tenth of a percent of all that circulates through the kidney and is “cried” by that kidney. What passes from the blood into the glomeruli, and then into the tubules, is for the most part breathed back into the blood system. The reabsorption of the “tears,” the “filtrate,” is like a breathing. This is again a lively system that has somewhat of a mirror within the cerebrospinal fluid circulation process of the central nervous system. Important to note in relation to the kidney is there is a tremendous blood flow. There is a great deal of a lymph-like substance which is formed in blood passing through the glomeruli. This fluid is called a filtrate. I would suggest calling the filtrate “tears” to emphasize an active process–and a process connected with our soul, though not conscious. This is very much a mirror picture of what one can find in the central nervous system.
Now it would be important to compare what happens in the bladder with what happens in the bowel. In the case of bowel contents, we know that there is usually an evacuation once a day. For the most part the bladder is emptied about four times a day. In the case of the bowel, we see that there is a possibility of a kind of fermenting, a growth process to occur. Bacteria can live and multiply in the bowel–there is time–but not in the case of the bladder. Everything that passes through the bladder is in a much more rapid process than in the case of the large intestine. We have a mirror of this, then, up in the head and in the central nervous system . The cerebrospinal fluid is in continual flow while the brain substances turn over slowly, particularly the myelin (which Rudolf Steiner points to as a mirror excretional substance comparable to feces). In fact the excrement of the brain and spinal cord is eliminated extremely slowly.
As we look at the brain, which is removed from the general body by sitting in a water bath in the head, we can notice that the kidneys have somewhat of a similar relationship . They sit outside the peritoneal space embedded in fat. The kidneys are located in the retroperitoneal space on both sides of the spinal vertebral column. The kidneys, like the central nervous system, stand somewhat apart from the more life-vegetative processes of the body (the functioning inner organs). They are similar to the flower in the plant kingdom, which sits slightly removed from the vegetative process. The brain-spinal cord and the kidneys are like flowering objects existing in relation to the other vegetatively active organs of man’s body. The brain swims in fluid encased in a closed vessel; the kidneys are embedded in warmth of fat. The location of the kidneys is near the vertebral column and near the back musculature outside the peritoneal cavity. As the brain is subject to the forces of buoyancy, the kidneys are subject to the forces of earth and weight but penetrated by warmth. The suction of the bladder draws the fluid from the kidneys and calyces (like the calyx of a flower) down the ureters and into the bladder. In the skull, the venous blood vessels suck the cerebral-spinal fluid back into the circulatory system. What is formed as fluid in the brain is sucked back into the circulatory system; the same is true of the kidney system, but a small portion is sucked into the bladder to be eliminated. All fluid is carried back into the circulation in the brain. This is not true of the kidneys. The result is that some life forces are freed in the domain of the kidney and become available for light processes in the body.
In the case of the large bowel, there is also an eliminative process mirrored in the brain. Again, the brain holds the excrement (myelin), while the bowel is emptied. Once more, forces are freed in the region of the bowel. Those forces also become available for light processes. Rudolf Steiner indicates that a kind of ether-formative brain develops in the region of the bowel with the elimination of feces.
The formative forces from the bowel, as well as the active forces from the kidneys, are available for soul activities connected with the brain and consciousness. Brain formative processes and brain associative processes (see association fibers) are possible because of the eliminative activities of bladder and bowel.
The basic organic consciousness and waking consciousness are very much concurrent with the “tearing” process, the fluid-formation processes of the kidney and brain. Note should be taken that the cerebral-spinal fluid, as well as the glomerular fluid, is an activity connected with the blood. Secretory activities out of the blood permit a freeing of forces important to light metabolism, connected not so much with organic formative activities but more with conscious processes in relation to the senses and waking consciousness. The secretory activities of the blood in relation to brain and kidneys form an essential part of waking consciousness. The eliminative activity of bladder and bowel furnishes organic formative activities essential to structuring the brain for normal reflection consciousness. In the case of waking consciousness, light weaving is available for soul activity because of the secretional and reabsorptive processes. In the case of brain formation, light activity works formatively, derived from eliminative activities of bladder and bowel. This is all part of light metabolic activity.
Another approach to the brain and the kidney system would be to speak to the embryological development in relation to Earth evolution. First, it might be well to consider the brain as a kind of egg-shaped form in Hyperborean-Lemurian times. It swam in a watery mist. A gland-like living structure with activities that we now carry on in our lower abdominal system and our senses grew up out of the brain substance. This is known as the eye of the Cyclops. During Hyperborea, as the sun exited from the Earth, the human the eye was formed, drawn away from a gland-like sense organ, the third eye or Cyclops eye. As the moon exited during Lemuria the ear was formed, out of the gland-eye sense organ. The Cyclops eye contained all the senses, plus rudiments of what later became the inner organs of man . The eye and the ear became connected with the brain. Above, swimming in the environment, was a kind of pineal-intestinal-sense-warmth-metabolic organ (third eye). This organ shriveled away to later become the pineal gland. At that time it was a sense organ of warmth as well as light (functioning metabolically). Hearing was a kind of metabolic process. As the relationship between the earth, moon, and sun became what it is today, the sense organs of light (the eyes), and the sense organs of sound (the ears), unfolded. At the same time as the cosmic environment began to change and the gravitational forces began to unfold, the earth also began to influence man. The result was the Fall. The major senses separated out of the sense-gland organ to become related to the brain, and the other inner organs fell into man’s chest and abdomen. There then unfolded a kidney-like structure very near to where the ear was formed in the head. The pineal began to shrink, and in its stead began to develop the lower organs. As evolution progressed, the structure that developed in the region of the ear began to descend through the human body, through the thoracic region and into the abdominal region. The kidney thereby had actually three different forms. The first form near the ear is called the pronephros. The next kidney near the thorax is known as the mesonephros. The final kidney, the mesonephric kidney, settled in the abdominal region. The kidneys fell and evolved as the pineal shrank, as the ear established itself, and the eyes, and then gradually the thoracic and abdominal organs unfolded. Development was such that the senses began to relate themselves to the environment, and the lower abdominal organs and limbs began to relate themselves to the earth. With this, the kidney went through its descent, descended out of the head and into the region of the abdomen. At the same time as the kidney was descending, a section of the developing intestinal canal unfolded a vessel form from which there grew limb-like entities. At the upper end of these limbs budded the calyces which then came into relation with the descending kidneys. The kidneys descended to the calyces like a butterfly to the calyx of a flower.
If we look at the kidney in its outer form, it resembles very much the ear. Something of the memory of the ear form is therefore present in the kidney. The whole embryo in its first form appears as an ear. However, the kidney in its inner structuring is much more like an eye. The glomeruli are like the cup of the eye with its hollowed out concavity. Tufts of blood vessels descend into the concavities in the glomeruli . This configuration is very much reminiscent of the form that we find in the formation of the optic cup with its vasculature. The retina has the blood vasculature in front of the neural tissue. We find the vasculature sitting in the concavity of the eye, though pushed back to permit light perception to take place. We then can say that the kidney actually bears the impress of the eye and the ear. There are actually processes connected with the kidney that are similar to that of the eye and the ear. We will have to uncover this. We speak of the ear as related to sound, to that which is astral. We have to say the same of the kidney. We have to speak of the eye as connected with the light and the etheric processes of man. We have to say the same for the kidney. In the outer form and in the inner smaller construction, therefore, the imprint of these two members can be found. It is essential to speak of this when we refer to the kidney, as we have to speak not only of the astral and the astral radiations, but also the astral light processes which include etheric elements. I hope we can develop this as we go on.
Now, if we are to take another view of the relation between the brain and the kidney, we have to again consider embryological development. If we take a cross section of the developing embryo at a very early stage, we can place the placenta at the bottom. We can let the vessels that grow out of the placenta ascend and then ray out in a kind of bough form that one can say one has a kind of a trunk and then a bough-like structure. Above this there is the developing neural tissue of the brain and the spinal cord. It is developing like a bough of a tree. As a kind of cloud above the bough or neural tissue stands the amnion. From below the placenta radiating up into this tree-like structure, we can speak of the dark earth. With the amnion above, and the neural structure, we can speak of the reflection of the heavenly world forming the brain and neural structures. Another imaginative way of speaking would be to say that we look at a tree and see the trunk rising out of the placenta, rising out of the earth like the umbilical structures and the associated intestinal organs. From above we see the heavens in the amnion bringing about the bough of the tree, or the neural-brain structures of the embryo. Into the bough we would have to weave the astral being of the birds and light. It is of just this bird-like activity in relationship to the bough of the tree or the brain that we have to speak. This bird-like activity is taking place in the amnion and is essential to the formation of the brain and the spinal cord.
To be true, we do not find birds in the amnion, but bird-like activity, astral activity, astral-formative activity. In the amnion is activity of an animal nature, a bird nature, like a watery process that occurs in the tree and in the bough, in the air and the light. Just as the brain is held in the light element of the fluids and weaves in the breath of the human soul, in the same way the watery process courses through the bird so that the bird can be related to air and light. Thus we can speak of a kind of tree-like intestinal structure that grows out of the placental-earth, and a bough-like nerve-brain structure that grows down out of the heavenly amnion.
If we look at a further developing embryo, we will find the future bladder growing out of the distal (back) end of the intestinal canal, out of the earth-related intestine. The ureters and calyces grow out and up from the bladder. The descending nephric structure, first the pronephrus, then the mesonephrus, and then the metanephrus, settles onto the two calyces, like a butterfly descending onto a flower. Here we do not have to do with a tree, but we have rather to do with a plant that is in blossom. We would have to speak not of the permanent trunk system of a tree, but rather of the evanescent annual plant with its blossom and continual life living process in the air, in the light, in the warmth, and in the fluidic processes of the stem. The bladder/kidney system, in unfolding, is more like the annual process of a flowering plant than the deciduous process of the tree. There is a continuous life process connected with the kidneys. Into this picture we have to place the butterfly, which is an astral being living in air, light, and warmth. The full-grown butterfly is called an imago, an image-light-physical-being which can approach the blossoming plant. This can serve as an imagination that lives in relationship to the kidney, ureters, and bladder. Here we speak of the plant and the butterfly. In the case of the brain and spinal cord, we speak of the bird and the tree. One is annual, continually in movement and change, the other is much more permanent. This gives a lively comparative imaginative picture of these two type of structures within the human organism. Hopefully, we can follow this imagination out in our further discussions and in our further considerations in relation to light metabolism.
Part II Light Metabolism
We have, in our first discussion about light metabolism, pointed to a methodology for developing knowledges related to man’s inner makeup. This we have done by pointing to the human developing organism, to the human organic makeup, and then to areas in nature that can elucidate a given aspect of man’s constitution. In this first discussion we pointed to the brain in relationship to the bird, and to the kidney in relationship to the butterfly. We should like to continue the considerations of the butterfly and bird as before; however, we might well add the human lung next as we consider light metabolism. Let us begin with the butterfly.
We have noted three or four steps in the unfolding of the butterfly. Rudolf Steiner has spoken to this developing butterfly on numerous occasions. In Man as a Symphony of the Creative Word, there is a particularly important description of the unfolding of this animal being. The egg of the butterfly is laid on a leaf of a plant. There is usually a specific relationship to the type of butterfly and to a given plant. Something of an ego-like element is here evidenced; an astral component plays into the whole world of the animal. When such specifics are involved as we find here in relationship to the plant and the butterfly, a kind of ego-like quality can be pointed to. In this case, we see the butterfly laying the egg in a kind of gelatinous substance that adheres to the leaf of a specific plant. The egg is not laid on the earth but on the living plant, in the domain where there is air, warmth, and, particularly, light.
The whole unfolding of the butterfly is in the midst of life, with light and warmth playing a very major component. Out of the egg emerges the caterpillar. The caterpillar is twelve-segmented, a kind of a zodiacal cosmic reflection in the metameric configuration of this animal. The animal then is able to leave the leaf and wander to the stem. The animal is able to breathe substance through its being, through pore-like openings, taking in the life, in the warmth and light inherent in the breathing process. The substances of digestion come from the plant world. We all know that leaf and green leaf substances are consumed by the caterpillars. The caterpillar then in the gradual transition of caterpillar to chrysalis attaches itself to a little twig. The segmented animal begins to wither away. As this withering begins to unfold, a silk-like substance is spun out of the body of the caterpillar. We can imagine the caterpillar taking in light and out of the light spinning a proteinaceous material, silk strands. We can imagine the light working in the caterpillar bringing about a proteinaceous material, which is the secreted substance. Silk is a proteinaceous material.
It becomes a skeletal excrement following the path of light as light penetrates and weaves through the being of the caterpillar. As the covering or shell is spun, there is a very major transformation of the caterpillar into a dried-up, shriveled, skeleted entity. This skeleted being again comes into life with a twelvefold body configuration. There is a head with mostly eyes, a three-segmented thorax, and a nine-segmented abdomen. The eye-head we would not consider in the twelvefold being. The head is an extension of the first three segments. The eyes are not true eyes. In the very long protrusion, called a proboscis, there exists the possibility of the butterfly entering the reproductory portion of a plant. There the butterfly, the imago, can get hold of the nectar.
At the same time, the butterfly brings substances from the male component of the flower to the female component. All this can occur after the skeleted form of the chrysalis has emerged again into the light and warmth of the day. The chest of the imago contains something of the circulatory system, a tube that runs into the abdominal area. Nine segments of the former caterpillar come to make up the abdomen of the butterfly. Reproductory organs are at the terminal end of the butterfly. Wings usually come out of the thoracic segments, and legs above and below the segments. The wings and major veins are supportive structures in which there is a very fine proteinaceous substance which then unfolds the fine pigments, colored pigments. Dust is given off by the wings. All this develops within the chrysalis in the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Light brings this about. The final form of the butterfly is that of a three-segmented-chest being with head eye extensions and the nine-segmented abdomen with reproductory organ extensions. All this is related to the working of light. A mighty cosmic planetary activity goes on in the precipitated-light proteinaceous material of the chrysalis. Out of this cavity of precipitated light emerges a kind of colored being which lives in the light, breathes air, produces the most delicate substances, lays eggs, and is able to mediate the dual component of a flower. The butterfly is able to bring elements from the flower’s male-like component, the stigma (fine proteinaceous substance), to the female-like organ, the style with the ovule. The light being, the imago, color penetrated, unites the two polarities in the plant which are also light-determined. This is not a procreative process, but a kind of a light process that is enacted in the warmth and air in relationship to the butterfly and the flower. The flower emerges from below upwards with the calyx giving rise to the flower, by the working of light. The almost winglike flying element of the flower–the petals, with style and stigma, can receive the butterfly which descends out of the warmth and light. The two light entities, the butterfly and the flower, unite so that a kind of heavenly male and heavenly female element can be united. The process is in no way a sexual process. It is a light-warmth cosmic process.
We can now look at man. It is well to consider, as we did before, that during the embryonic period, a future bladder outpouching develops at the far end of the intestines towards the anus. Out of this outpouching, two filamentous structures arise and grow to become the future ureters and calyces. The bladder is like a trunk-earth form out of which grow two small plant stems that develop into the calyx of the flower or the calyces of the kidneys. The kidneys descend from the embryonic head to settle on the two calyces. The kidney structures go through four developmental steps. As with the butterfly, there are four stages. We have the primary mesenchyme of the developing human germ, which gives what we can call the pronephros, which is located near the future human ear. The ear and the pronephros are connected with the gill arch system of the early embryo. Slowly the pronephros migrates downward to become the mesonephros. The mesonephros contains the first germs of glomeruli and tubules, millions of them. The glomeruli and tubules are almost like little flowers with small stems. The flowers or cups, the glomeruli with the tubules, we can say are like little buttercups in which slowly blood vessels begin to find a relationship, inserting themselves as tufts of capillaries into the buttercup glomerulus tubules. Slowly the mesonephric kidney descends with blood vessels and nephrons towards the calyces to become the final mesonephric kidney.
In the mesonephric kidney we have endless numbers of buttercups in which the butterfly capillaries have descended. Like butterflies, these fine tufts of capillaries descend into the glomerular cups with tubules. These fine capillary vessels are in a way similar to the fine structure of the butterfly. The whole process by which the glomeruli and tubules develop out of a kind of a mesenchymal sea is like a flower process, and the descending of the capillary tufts into the glomeruli is very much like the descending of the butterfly into the flower. This is all a light process.
The four steps in forming the kidney–the mesenchyme, the pronephros, the mesonephros and the metanephros–are like the four steps in the development of the butterfly. The kidney and the butterfly are both related to light for the sake of this development. In the finest way, the kidney is pulled out of the region of the ear and the arches of the embryo. There is a descending towards the thoracic region, and then the final locations where the two kidneys unite with the two calyces that have grown upward out of the bladder. The kidneys are full of millions and millions of little butterflies within the cups. All this is connected with the light process that is related to the kidney. It is the light formative process, not the light metabolic process, that brings this all about, but it is all connected with light and should be taken into consideration.
Just as we have considered this coming forth of the kidney, somewhat mirrored in the development of little butterflies, we can find another butterfly, this time quite large and formed within the human brain. This butterfly is a reflection of the light activity working formatively within the brain. This brain butterfly weaves an image of light activity in the brain configuration like the silk strands that are woven to form the chrysalis. This butterfly we can find by looking down on the brain from above. We can imagine an outline in the visual tract, in the region of the pituitary. These tracts fan out further posteriorly, radiating into the visual cortex. The visual cortex is located in the occipital lobes of the brain. The nerve fibers running posteriorly and fanning out into the occipital lobes are like the fine filamentous structures of the giant butterfly wings. This fine filamentous structure of the optic nerve tracts and radiations is like the wings attached to a body constituted by the hypothalamus with the pituitary hanging below. We consider the occipital cortex as very similar in process to the fine pigmentary process in the wings of the butterfly. We might imagine the human eye with optic tracts as similar to the foreportion of the butterfly with the eyes composed of ommatidia . The reproductory organ I would not put in the posterior region of the brain (the occipital cortex) where, by analogy with the butterfly, we might expect to find it (as an extension of the butterfly abdomen), but rather I would imagine the pituitary gland as a homologous structure with the reproductory organs of the butterfly. Therefore we have the eye with the optic tracts, the optic radiations, and the occipital cortex as a kind of butterfly winged being with the reproductory organ below in the pituitary. This giant butterfly is all connected with light and light formative activity. Without the light, such fine nerve structures, delicately-formed nerve structures, would not come about.
Now let us go to the bird in relationship to the human brain. We pointed out the continual flow of fluids in the brain, and we have also considered the flow of fluids through the birds. There is no true intestine in the bird. There is a crop, and then gradually substances pass through the bird. There is no true lung. There are actually air sacs in the marrow of the bird’s bones. There is something very fine and transparent about the bird’s makeup. Feathers are there, and the colors, again all suggesting a very fine form of metabolism. In this we can see the whole bird nature given out of air and light. Solid and watery elements pass right through.
If we think of the brain we have to consider that it is formed within a shell. The chrysalis stage would seem to correspond with what occurs within the egg and shell of a bird as well as the skull. The bird begins with the whole process of re-creation within the animal being of another bird. Only after the egg is laid in the nest in nature, in the tree, in the bough, does outer light, air, and warmth play an essential role. In the case of the bird, the first two stages of the butterfly are bypassed. The phase of the egg and caterpillar are carried on within the bird itself. It is only when the shell emerges, and the kind of protective outer layer is present, that an inner embryonic development can occur as the egg is laid. Animal warmth, outer warmth, light, air, all contribute to the unfolding. It is well known that the whole shell of the egg is a very important breathing, inspiring organ for the developing bird embryo. When the bird is born, there is often relatively little in the way of feathers. Feathers develop in relation to light and air, and the color does too. In the butterfly we have a more complete form of the animal being within the chrysalis before birth. At birth, we have a true image of the animal being of the butterfly; therefore we call it the imago. The bird is not woven into a covering of spun light like the butterfly. That is why the bird has to give itself over to air and light for its final unfolding. The egg is not woven of light as is the case with the chrysalis. This light is lacking in the bird, this is lacking in the egg, but becomes evident and is working in the final development of feathers and pigmentation of the feathers. The various colors of the bird depend on the light metabolic activities of the animal, just as is the case with the butterfly.
If we want to grasp relationships between the bird and the human being, we can consider the general processes of the brain and skull. To bring the bird in relation to the brain we have to think imaginatively. To do this we can consider the structures of the brain connected with smell. Start with the olfactory organ in the nose and go posteriorly into the olfactory bulb. They can be imagined as a fine beak with a head. From there the nerve fibers pass backwards into the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the hypothalamus to form the body of our brain-bird. The fibers then fan or wing out into the temporal lobes. This bird-brain is a reflection, a reflection of the light process in smell. We have a fine fiber beak and head in our smell organs and a bird body on the center of the brain. The wings are constituted by the temporal lobes. The temporal lobes become winglike, extensions, lateral extensions of the birdlike configurations that are present in the olfactory nerves, bulbs, fiber tracts, and the windings of the hippocampus and the corpus fornicus. The reproductory organs of the bird could be placed in the region of the pineal gland. This gland is shrunken away so that there is no reproductory activity in the brain, but at one time, in cosmic man of Lemuria, the pineal gland was a metabolic, sense-reproductory organ. The forces of reproduction have been extracted from the gland to make reproductory-psychological processes possible (mental imaging). Life processes extracted from the pineal have resulted in a bone structure that we can find within the skull itself. The sphenoid bone, which looks so much like an insect and a birdlike bat structure, we might consider as a bird that has fallen out of the brain and the pineal gland to become the forces which construct the sphenoid bone of the skull. This has its counterpart in the kidney, which has fallen out of the auditory region. The kidney has fallen into the abdomen, taking with it life which is active in the metabolic region of man. In another way, we have the birdlike nerve structures connected to the brain and the sense of smell with the dead pineal, while sphenoid bone becomes a dead image of a more living bird-brain. I would like to suggest that some of the remaining life of the bird-brain is used in the life of our hair. Thus the use of hair to construct bird configuration in ancient hair dress.
The story that I like to carry in relationship to this bird-brain with the pineal is that of the eagle with the wren on its back. The wren can ascend into the light, the warmth and light of the sun. The little bird can even take off to have his wings tinged by the fire and light of the sun. The story might well be referring to the physiological development of the birdlike structure in connection with the olfactory tracts, that is the destruction of the pineal gland by light and warmth. Below the bird-brain we have the bone-bird that has fallen out of the light and warmth to form the sphenoid bone of the skull. The bird-brain is a delicate “bird” and the bone-bird (the sphenoid) is a more earthly being. It is like the comparison between the humming bird and the eagle.
In the foregoing considerations we have been concerned with the unfolding of the neural structures, endocrine structures, and bone structures. We have considered organic structures imaginatively and tried to find something similar in the animal kingdom. It might be well to take another step and consider the relationship of the human lung to the human brain. At the same time we can consider the unfolding of the frog. The frog lays its eggs in waters that are generally warming in spring and are well illuminated but have heavy grass growth in the midst.
Here the light can be taken up by the reeds and grasses. The toad or frog lays its eggs near these plant structures (like the butterfly and the leaf) because of the warmth and light in the life of the water. The egg develops into a tadpole. The tadpole is a kind of metabolic being that is almost all limb or tail, having a little body and essentially no head. The body is composed of gill-arches and gills, to which is attached a tail. Water moves through the gills in order to nourish the animal as well as furnish the needed oxygen and airy elements. The tail is used to move. On the one hand, we can see the tadpole as a kind of metabolic entity; on the other hand, we can see it as a kind of respiratory circulatory being. The circulatory system is connected with the gill arches, which in man are formed in the region of the jaw, neck, and upper thoracic region. We can watch this little animal emerge in the light-penetrated and warming waters where the eggs are laid in a proteinaceous jell. They are little moving-pulsing animals. They have gill arches that are very much related to the circulatory process. The circulatory and respiratory processes are combined. Within the domain of the water, the life-giving water, which is light penetrated so that weeds can grow, these tadpoles attach themselves to the plant structures. Once attached to the plants, the weeds and reeds, they begin to go through an amazing transformation. A pore opens at the anterior end so that fluids can circulate through the animals. The water then goes through the pores and through the animals. The water then goes through the pores and through the gills. An inner circulation develops. Slowly the tail begins to withdraw. From the anterior pore, where circulation develops, a small limb structure begins to emerge, and slowly a headlike form unfolds. The lower limbs then develop as the tail disappears. As this marvel takes place, there is a complete change in the whole circulatory-respiratory system. The gill arches disappear. The forces of the gill arches take the blood into the limbs, so the limbs unfold while the forces of the gills work to unfold the head system and lungs. As the gill arches disappear and the gills are covered over, the forces that form the gills become active to transform the digestive organs into the lung and help develop the brain in the head of the animal. The result is that we have an animal where the force of the gills help develop the brain, the lungs, and the breathing process. The forces of circulation that were involved in the gill arches begin to penetrate the limbs, to form limbs, metabolism, and the possibility of movement.
The gill arch system is two times sixfold. Again a kind of cosmic mirror system works to transform the gills and the gill arches. It is light that works in the cosmic system to bring about the changes. Limbs fall out of the light process for movement, while the brain and lung arise for sensing and respiration by air. The pulsating movement of the tadpole disappears, the tail disappears, and the head develops, taking some of the forces that are connected with the tail into the region of the head so that a nervous system develops. All this is immense metamorphosis. This metamorphosis of the tadpole into the frog, Rudolf Steiner relates directly to the light. The passage can be found in the first lecture he gave in Deeper Insights in Education, in Stuttgart, September 1923:
Again, look at a tadpole with its resemblance to a fish; it breathes with gills and has a fish-like tail to swim with. The creature lives wholly in the watery element, the watery-earthly element. Then the tadpole develops into a frog. What happens? The blood vessels leading into the gills wither away, and the whole blood system is rounded off inwardly. Through this rounding off, the lung arises. The veins leading to the fish-like tail also wither away, but others elongate into legs so that the frog can hop about on land. This wonderful transformation of a system of blood vessels that at first feeds the gills and tail, this extraordinarily artistic transformation into lungs and limbs, is a truly marvelous process. How is it brought about? The first system of blood vessels, which feeds the gills and tail, is produced by the earthly-watery element; the second is produced by the watery-airy element that is permeated glitteringly with light.
Again we are looking into nature, looking at a miracle of transformation through light. A twelvefoldness can be seen to rule in the depth of this animal, the tadpole. A kind of a heart-lotus expression is hidden here. It is hidden within the gill-arch system of the tadpole. It is evident in the twelve segments of the caterpillar. These two animals of twelve are transformed into another form by the working of light. The transformation of the tadpole into the frog, Rudolf Steiner indicates, is a mirror process that can be found within human being in the unfolding of the lung. Light is a determinative factor.
To find some relationship with the human lung, we have to go to embryology. We have, in our last discussion, spoken of the embryonic intestinal canal, which rises out of the placenta like the trunk and bough of a tree. With the progression in embryological development and the unfolding of the placenta, the trunk is made up of the umbilical cord with the vitelline arteries and veins. The primordial intestinal tract is like a crown of this trunk. We pointed out that at the far end of the tract the bladder structure emerges ecologically. In the mid-section of this tract we have buds that come off like grapes on a vine, giving rise to the pancreas and liver. The foresection of the primitive gut gives rise to outpouchings that ultimately result in the esophagus with stomach, on the one hand, and, on the other, a separating off of buds, which slowly develop into the larynx, tracheobronchial tree, and the lung. If you look at the lung buds in the early phase, they are quite similar in configuration to what one can see in the human brain as it unfolds embryologically in the neural crest. Budlike structures in the neural crest structure gradually evolve into the complexity of the brain, on the one pole, while the lung enfolds many grapelike structures, on the other. This is a wonderful polarity, with the pharynx and the larynx mediating between. The lung bud gradually grows into the bronchial tree on the one side, with the many outpouchings resembling a kind of bunch of grapes. The lung-grapes, or alveoli, are received and taken up by capillaries of the circulatory system, so that we can say that the grapes of the lung are received in cuplike receptacles of capillaries. Ultimately, the fine alveolar sacs of the lung are very similar to small grapes which are encased in a very delicate cup of blood. We might think of grapes surrounded by the light of the blood, which is radiated from the heart. As the lung grows down into the light of the blood, there is an extension of the lung into the larynx above. If we turn the larynx, the bronchi, and the lung with alveoli upward, we can speak of a pulmonary tree (whose light shines from the heart through the blood enveloping the alveoli). We even speak of the respiratory tree. As this tree develops in man, separating off from the gastrointestinal tract, its glandularity is lost. There unfolds polarically into the region of the brain the whole winglike cerebrum of man. If we look at the fiber tracts of the cerebrum, bridged by the corpus callosum, we can easily imagine a set of wings that are ascending above as the lung and the bronchial tree die away below.
This lively imaginative picture is related to the light radiations of fibrous tracts of the brain, and the fall of the lung out of light and into air and water. The light of the frog and the water of the tadpole can come to mind.
Now take the respiratory tree with the larynx, and turn it invert it. You can have the larynx next to the earth and the bronchial tree rising with the alveoli or the air sacs standing up in the air. This is all encased in a fine, the most fine, layer of blood, the pulmonary capillaries that surround the alveoli. In the middle of this tree covered with blood, we can place the heart itself. The mirror of the heart in the tree is what develops in the middle of the trunk. The tree ascends in the light while the circulation of the crown descends into the earth through the middle of the tree. The root of the tree is like an extension of the light process from the crown. All this might be contemplated in the light of what Rudolf Steiner has indicated as a working of light in the transformation of the tadpole into the frog.
This, then, completes our imaginative contemplation of three animals in nature and three major organ systems within man. All the organs and animals we can consider as expressing the workings of life-light. This is not yet the working of light metabolic activity but is the formative working of light in the human organism and in nature.
Part III Light Metabolism
We discussed the human organism in relationship to certain animals, particularly insects, in order to see if we can not get some insight into the problem of light–light formative activity and light metabolism as such. In order that we can continue a fairly consistent course following the same path, I believe that it is important to lay out some kind of an outline.
Let us begin by considering the four major organs of man. These have been spoken to again and again as the lung, the heart, the liver, and the kidney. There are certain auxiliary organs, namely the brain and the womb, which have to be taken as polaric development out of the four major organs. The digestive process, on the one hand, and the sense organization, on the other, play into the activities of the four major organs and the polaric extensions of them. So far we have discussed the kidney in relationship to the butterfly and found some relation to the brain. We have discussed the lung in relationship to the tadpole and frog, also referring to the brain. In every case, we have indicated that light has played a major formative role. Similarly, we have discussed the bird in relationship to the brain. In order to continue this process of relating organ to animal, let me try to lay out the following scheme. Let us remain with the kidney and its association with the butterfly, although I would like to suggest that we also look into the firefly as a part of understanding the kidney. In the case of the liver, it might be well to look at the bee, in the case of the lung, the ant, and in the case of the heart, the bumblebee. We could choose other animal relationships which are not of the insect group (the arthropods). These animal relationships could cast another view on the major organs. With the kidney, we might connect the snake (a reptile), with the liver the fishes, with the lung the amphibians and birds, and in the case of the heart, the mammals. I would like to propose that the insect relationship to the organs points to the endocrine organs or glands, which are related to the major organs. This way we can relate the reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals with qualities of the major organs (insects can be included), but it would be well to find a relationship with endocrine glands and the insect world. The reason for suggesting this approach is to indicate that there is a certain astrality living in the animal kingdom, which then in the case of man is at work in the organs. This astrality works formatively in the activity of the organs and brings about psychological counterparts. In the case of the insects, my inclination would be to consider their relationship to light, their working in light, to find how the major organs, but more so the endocrine glands, function in relation to life, light, consciousness, and the ego. How the insects relate themselves to man is not so easy to perceive, and they have often been set aside or not considered at all. My effort here is to look to the finer structure of the workings of the major organs to find insect-human relationships, but I would like to progressively try to associate the human endocrine system with the insect world and the activities of light.
The extensions of the four major organs into the brain and the womb or reproductory system should be considered briefly. The lung extends its activity into the brain by considering the activities of light and air. The work of light on the tadpole brings about the transformation into the frog with its respiratory and circulatory system. The play of light and air in the world of the bird raises the lung system into the brain sphere. The polar process of forming the womb out of the heart-circulatory system belongs to the domain of the mammalia. In the mammalia, the reproductory processes have been drawn inward. The light and warmth of the sun lives within the animal, within the heart system. This requires an auxiliary heart organ in which the embryo can unfold. We can take the heart in its relationship to the mammalian circulation and drop some of the life and light (warmth as well) into the reproductory system, and the womb of the woman will develop or the prostate in the case of the male. The mammalian mammary gland unfolds outward from the heart, while the womb and prostate unfold inward, all as an offshoot of the heart system. The heart extended outward nourishes; unfolded inward it permits bringing forth of kind. This is an inner sun process. The reptiles, fish, and amphibians depend on the outer sun to bring forth their kind. The bird requires outer light and animal warmth. The mammals carry the warm and light within, thus requiring the development of mammary glands and uterus or prostate.
Let us now continue with the organs and their relationship to the insect world before turning to the endocrine organs. Let us review some typical qualities of the insect, particularly the butterfly. Insects typically lay eggs. Somewhere in their development they may evidence metabolism–repetitive formations or segments as in the case of the butterfly caterpillar. This means that they have a repetitive form quality, which is metamorphosed into less obvious expressions. The metameric configuration of the caterpillar stage of the butterfly is typical. There are twelve segments. They are obvious. We might consider that these twelve segments are a reflection of the twelvefolding of the zodiacal star world. It is not every insect that shows this metameric configuration, either in the caterpillar, larva, or any other stage. Often in the adult, the metameric quality is totally lost. However, that this rhythmic, repetitive form expression is present even in some of the insects at a given stage, seems to me to be important and points to a delicate form expression of astral-etheric activity. It is part of an archetype. For the most part, insects have six legs often attached to their thoracic region. They are also often winged creatures at one stage or another. This cosmic number in the metameric configuration and the six-legged unfolding with wings, seems to me to point to a rhythmic and also an air-light process at work in the life of the insect. This form of working of air and light in such a direct fashion is possible for man only in higher states of consciousness. However, such a refined working of light and air in man does indirectly work into the finer processes of the human organization, those which serve consciousness and, particularly, ego consciousness.
Another aspect of the insect is seen in looking at the exoskeleton. That is, there is an exterior skeleton with an interior of life. The outer skeleton is made up of chitin. This is a carbohydrate substance that is very close to the cellulose material of a plant. Therefore, in the case of the insect, we have an animal, but we have a plant metabolic activity which comes to expression in the exoskeleton, made of the same material as the plant. As the plant is the expression of the working of light in relationship to the earth, we would have to say that the exoskeleton of the insect is the expression of light of an intense kind in the domain of an animal in which there is an intense plantlike activity present. However, the plant substance, the cellulose, is not drawn out of the earth, but out of the air. The skeleton is a plantlike etheric entity that comes out of the cosmos, lives in relationship to the insect, and gives the insect a plant covering. All of this is the working of light and air, of the most delicate kind.
To be true, some insects live not only in relationship to light, but also to darkness. However, the working of light we have to see manifest in the exoskeleton, with the darkness or the inner life process of the animal hidden with this exoskeleton.
This plant relationship that is evidenced in the exoskeleton of the insect is a great interest because it suggests that there might well be a mineral relationship as well. I would like to think that in the ommatidial eyes, the hexagonally formed elongate bodies, manifold in number, point to the mineral world. These are not true eyes. They are an extension of the respiratory system into the front of the insect, the bee or butterfly. It is as if the very earth mineral kingdom of the crystal has been transformed and transposed into the front of the insect animal. There the light can take hold of animal crystal-like extensions of the airy-plant exoskeleton. Therefore, in the exoskeleton, we see something of the plant nature as it relates itself to air and light, while in the structuring of the ommatidia, we can find the mineral crystal raised into the domain of the insect by the working of pure light. The hexagonal form of the quartz crystal, of course, comes to mind. The ommatidia have the hexagonal form in cross section. The animal kingdom is very much expressed in the being of the insect in so far as there is reproduction and movement.
The various pigmentation processes of the insects would also have to be considered as an expression of warmth and light, just as we see the same in the flower of the plant. We can say, in a way, that it is the flower process and the pigmentary process of the insect that unite the world of the insect and the plant and bring them together in a kind of a holy wedding.
The ego stage of the insect, or the human kingdom stage of the insect, I believe, can be found in the four stages of development. I would suggest that there are four stages of development in the insect which reflect in the physical, etheric, astral, and ego configuration of the human being. There is something of an ego nature that can be found at work in the insect world. For the most part I am here referring to the butterfly in order to elucidate this aspect. I refer to the butterfly because Rudolf Steiner has given indications concerning this matter in Man as Symphony of the Creative Word. We can say that at the egg stage of the butterfly we have something of an earthly element. It is during the earth evolution that we have the birth of the human ego. Something of an ego nature is at work for the insect when the egg is placed on the leaf of a living plant. The more astral, or, we can say, the astral organizational being of man can somewhat be seen in the metameric, plant-like, but animal being of the caterpillar. The zodiacal configuration in the twelve metameres might be considered a number indication of this relationship. In the case of the ego, the great starry world and the manifold eggs laid on the leaves would be a correspondence. If we go on now to the chrysalis, to the windings and the light forms of the shell or the cocoon that develops next, it seems to me to suggest the working of the evolution of the sun. The light weavings of the Sun evolution themselves bring forth a kind of enclosure where there can be a physical covering of precipitated-woven light. The chrysalis or cocoon would seem to be a perfected expression of the Sun evolution. Finally, in the case of the imago, or the animal butterfly being, this is a delicate skeleted entity. It is almost totally built out of a plant substance. It is the imago, or the mature butterfly, emerging out of the chrysalis that is the fourth stage, or the Saturn reflection in the life of the butterfly. Here we have to look at an animal that has a skeleton of chitin, is made almost all of air, with a metabolic process that brings forth the fine, powdery, colored substance on the wings of the insect. The imago is almost like a physical phantom being becoming apparent in air, warmth, and light. It is woven by light metabolic activity pointing to a metabolic activity of a distant past.
In this way, we might consider that the butterfly from egg to imago is reflecting the origin of the human kingdom from ancient Saturn. All of this might be seen as the delicate workings of the physical organization of an entity in relationship to a human-ego impulse. In this sense, the insect might be seen in relationship to man, but in a very delicate and deep-lying impulse, the ego impulse. The distant starry world, the Zodiac, the Sun, and the planetary workings, have to be seen in the gradual unfolding of the insect. Somewhat of a similar process would have to be considered in relationship to man as the ego unfolds. This ego unfolding is already anticipated in old Saturn. Another way of saying it would be that, within the insect world, we can find something of an ego expression in a very refined phantom form, particularly in the butterfly.
Now if we look to man and look at the general organs of man (we have enumerated them as sixfold–the brain, the lung, the heart, the liver, the kidney, and the womb), we would have to ask if there are not also organic structures that surpass the general coarser organization and point to a much finer and much more refined development as in the case of the insect. I believe we find this in the endocrine system of the human being. The endocrine system is one that allies itself with the human ego, with the human ego being as reflected in the
blood-circulatory system. The endocrine system is related on the one side to light, as it is needed in consciousness, and on the other side as it is needed to sustain life. The play between a vegetative side of the endocrine system and a waking side of the endocrine system can be reflected in the insect, on the one side, and the flowering-blossoming plan like element on the other. It is to the endocrine system that we might address ourselves if we are going to consider another aspect of the insect world. This can be done in relationship to the human organs by looking for the endocrine processes that are connected with the major organs in man. The major organs, then, are more connected, not with the animals that have overshot evolution (pointing to the higher ego) but remain connected with those animals which are very much within evolution. These animals portray organic, organismic earthly structures in relationship to the astral principle. Our organs, then, would have to be seen as a reflection of an astral working, of an astral-physical working as in the case of the general animal kingdom. The endocrine system would have to be seen as an etheric-astral and particularly ego working, as we have tried to indicate in the case of the insects. The insects overshot evolution.
What I am indicating here is a way in which we can look at the endocrine system in relationship to the major human organs. The major human organism we can see related to the general animal kingdom, and the endocrine glands, which live in relation to those organs, can be seen in relation to the insect world, to the arthropods.
Perhaps it would be of value now to delineate this relationship, to suggest the relationship of the organs and the endocrine glands, so that we can continue our discussion of the animal kingdom in relationship to the organs and the endocrine system.
If we start with the brain, we notice that we have two major endocrine organs that are attached to the brain. The two endocrine organs that can be found there are the pineal and the pituitary glands. We have already spoken to these two glands and related them to the butterfly and the bird. However, as we have noticed, these glands are actually an extension of the lung process and even the kidney process in relation to the head. If we now look at the human lung, and look at it as a major organ, we can find that there are two endocrine glands that are connected with the lung. There is the thyroid gland and, embedded within this, the parathyroid glands. If we turn to the liver, we have the pancreas which has two basic endocrine organ cells. They are known as the alpha and beta cells of the pancreas. As the thyroid and parathyroid are related to the lung, so are the alpha and beta cells of the pancreas related to the liver. If we now go to the kidney, we have an endocrine gland which also is twofolded. We have the suprarenal or the adrenal gland, which has a cortex and a medulla. There is no question that the adrenal is connected to the kidney. If we now look to the heart, this becomes a little more difficult. One would have to ask, what is the endocrine organ that is connected with the heart? My first inclination would be to look to the thymus, but this wastes away, and I would like to suggest that this wastes away just at the time that the reproductory-endocrine system of the human being begins to awaken. I would suggest that the endocrine counterpart of the heart is found in the ovaries or gonads of the woman and the testes or the gonads of the male. Certainly we know of the relationship between the male endocrine system and the development of the speech apparatus. In the woman, the extension of the heart into the mamma or breasts is related to the activity of the female reproductory system. The outward direction in the development of the mamma or breasts of the woman, finds an inner counterpart in the development of the lowered speech in the male. The lower pole extension of the heart has entered into the metabolic system as a kind of an auxiliary heart system where we have the womb and the ovaries in the woman and the prostate and testes in the man. By this means, woman and man become male and female.
In summary, we have the organ of the brain with two glands, the pineal and the pituitary. We have the lung with two endocrine glands, the thyroid and the parathyroid. We have the liver with the pancreas, in which are embedded two types of gland cells, the alpha and beta cells. Then we have the kidneys with the adrenal glands, which are twofold in the cortex and in the medulla. The heart organ has part of it fallen away–the womb in the woman, the prostate in the male–as auxiliary organs. Associated with these organs, we have the two types of gonads. Let us ask if there is any indication that the major organs, not necessarily the endocrine organs, are connected with the fourfold unfolding as in the case of the insect. I believe there is. We can find a fourfold unfolding in the case of the four major organs–that is, the kidney, lung, liver, and heart. There actually are four stages of development. This I would now like to set forth, indicating that there is a fourfold development and that possibly the final unfolding of each organ is actually connected with an endocrine organ.
Let us start with the kidney. We have already indicated that it comes forth in four stages. The first is that it is a kind of a mesenchymal entity lying near the human ear embryologically. It begins to accumulate as pronepheros in the region of the ear, descends into the thoracic region as mesonepheros, and settles into the abdominal region as the metanepheros. We have already likened this development to the unfolding of the butterfly. I would like to suggest we look at the firefly as well. In the case of the lung, we can also speak of a fourfold unfolding. At first the lung is actually a part of the enteric canal. It unfolds and buds off of the enteric canal as a living entity, to become a kind of fetal lung, which is separated from the enteric canal. There is a flow of amniotic fluid in and out of this lung on a regular basis. The next step is the development of the respiratory lung. This we have at the time of birth when the life leaves the lung, the fluids stop flowing through the lung, and the lungs begin to be able to take on a respiratory activity. The lining of the lung is changed. Fluid disappears.
Structures and definitive forms begin to appear. There are many indications that the lung is actually not mature and does not mature until nine or ten, or even into the beginning of pubescence. This is the last stage of unfolding, the fourth. At this time, the lung then begins to become a kind of a soul-like organ used for breathing, just when there is the birth of the future human soul organism. At the same time there is an awakening of the thyroid gland. Those who have watched the unfolding of pubescence know that at the same time there is an unfolding of the limb muscle-bone system that is so much connected with the parathyroid gland. Here we have four stages in the developing lung.
If we now go over to the liver, we know that at first we have a metabolic living entity in the yolk. There is, at first, a yolk liver. This gives rise to the unfolding and developing of the enteric canal out of which then buds the liver. We can call this the enteric liver. This unfolds as a potential to begin to receive the sustenance that gradually comes from the placenta. At this point I would say that we have the placental liver. For the most part the enteric canal is bypassed and the nutrition goes to the circulation directly into the fetal organization, but some nutrition begins to nourish the liver itself, as is true of the whole human organism. The placenta is actually an extension of the liver that originated in the yolk. The placental liver can actually be considered the second stage of development. The yolk liver and the enteric liver might be considered together as the first stage. In the third stage, we come to the digestive liver.
This is the time when the fetus is born, to become a new born, and for the first time the digestive activity begins to develop. At first milk is given because the digestive liver is not yet active This develops over a five to six month period. Only slowly and after months and gradually towards the end of a year does the liver unfold sufficiently so that it becomes part of the digestive process, it becomes an actual digestive organ. As this progresses, the liver also then begins to develop the activities that are commensurate with the movement processes, so that not only does digestion develop in relationship to the liver, but, in the final stage, the liver is able to serve the walking process. Out of this the speaking and thinking processes also have to be interdigitated into the liver. All of this points to what I would call the unfolding of the movement liver, or the final stage of the liver. As this movement process or soul-like activity connected with the liver unfolds, there is an unfolding of the endocrine activities of the pancreas, of the beta and alpha cell activity of the pancreas. This is very much connected with the metabolic activities reflected in the blood as a part of the human ego-organization.
And if we look to the final major organ, the heart, we can also see four stages in development. The first stage is actually that of the pericardial sinus. This develops around the cephalic end of the embryonic plate as encephalization is developing. As we know, the pericardial sinus then descends into the chest region. Through this sinus flows the fluids that first come from the yolk sac and then from the gradual unfolding placenta. This is the second stage. I would say, this is the sinus heart that develops into a circulatory heart. The circulatory heart is connected with the pericardial sinus that has descended into the thoracic region of the embryo, and through which flow fluids connected with the yolk sac. We do not yet have an outer organ that we can say is a heart. Only with the development of the placenta, does the heart develop as a specific organ within the flow of fluids and within the pericardium. As the placental heart is a third stage, the fourth state awaits digestion-respiration and movement. The first two processes are those of digestion and respiration. Slowly movement and conscious soul processes begin to develop, and all of this I would say is the final expression of the development of the heart. At the same time, there the sexual differentiation of the human being has taken place and is connected with the conscious soul processes. In the male there is more of an intellect to unfold and in the female more imagination. The gonadal differentiation of the endocrine glands are here very important. These, then, are the four stages in the development of the heart.
With this outline, we can now progress further, taking up the animals in relationship to the organs. I would like to suggest that we pursue the fish in relationship to the liver, the reptile or the snake in relationship to the kidney, and the mammalian in relationship to the heart. I believe it will be helpful to look at the bee, the ant, the bumblebee, and the firefly insects before going further with the endocrine system. I will await the further development of the insects, that is, the bumblebee and the firefly, before I pursue the fourth section in light metabolism. Then we can consider the firefly in relationship to the adrenal gland, the bumblebee in relationship to the human gonads, the ant in relationship to the thyroid, and the bee in relationship to the pancreas.
Part IV Light Metabolism
We have been considering the animal kingdom, and particularly the insects, in relation to man. We have been doing this in order to form a basis for light metabolism. We might think that light metabolism is a subject that can be handled in itself, but, in pursuing the subject over many years, I have not found any real introduction to the problem in man. The best that I can see or have been able to find so far, is to consider the animal kingdom in relation to light and then potentially to consider the human organs that are very much connected with light. The thesis that we are pursuing here is that the endocrine system is the major system involved with light, though it does not exclude the other organ systems. In Light Metabolism III, I laid out a bit of a scheme suggesting that we look at the endocrine organs in relationship to the major organs in the human body. A quick review is to relate the thyroid and parathyroid to the lung, and the pancreas (with the alpha and beta cells) to the liver. The breasts as glandular organs are not endocrine organs. They are, however, connected with the heart. The adrenal glands we have related to the kidneys. The adrenal gland has the cortex and the medulla. At the one pole we have suggested that the brain is an extension of the lung into the head. With the brain we have connected the pineal and the pituitary. At the other pole we have an extension of the heart into the prostate and the uterus. I have contemplated that the gonads are an extension of the breasts into this lower pole.
This relating the endocrine organs to the major organs is one aspect of the endocrine system. Another aspect is to categorize the endocrine organs that are more connected with light and those that are more connected with life. The light-related endocrine organs could be considered to be the pineal, the parathyroid, the alpha cells of the pancreas, the medulla of the adrenal gland, and the male gonads. The endocrine organs more related to life could be considered to be the pituitary, the thyroid, the alpha cells, the adrenal cortex, and the female ovaries.
We will have to go into each separate endocrine organ, as well as each major organ, in order to permit everyone to get a better understanding of these organs. Our method for gaining a deeper comprehension of the endocrine organs, as well as the major organs, is to consider animals (insects) in nature.
We have already considered the butterfly. We have related this insect to the kidney, in the fine tufting of the glomerulus, and to the refined optic tracts of the brain. The bee we have tended to liken to processes that are involved with the liver, and the ant activities with the lung. We have the specific indication from Rudolf Steiner, when he pointed us to look at the tadpole, which is metamorphosed into a frog by the working of light. This light activity, Rudolf Steiner indicates, works to bring about the lung formation. We have likened the transformation of the water animal (the tadpole) to an air animal by the working of light, to the transformation of the liver into the lung. There are other indications by Rudolf Steiner pointing to the relation of light to man, and we can slowly take up these indications.
Now I would like to consider the firefly in relationship to the adrenal gland. Then we will take up the gland itself. Before focusing in on the firefly, I would like to look at the insect world in broader terms. The insects belong to the group of animals called Arthropoda. There are two major groupings of Arthropoda. One is called the Brachiata, which are a group of insects that live in the water. The other larger group of insects are the insects called the Tracheata. They are airborne insects and have trachea, or breathing tubes. The twofold aspect of the arthropods reminds one of the tadpole and the frog. One type of being is more connected with water and the other with air. There are about 500,000 species of insects. The largest group of insects are called the Coleoptera, which means that the insects have wing covers or wing jackets. It is just this group of insects that has more species than all the other animal species put together. If we take the Coleoptera, or even all the insects, the arthropods, we are dealing with an immense variety and a very extensive group of animals. They are so extensive that it is very difficult to realize what a great role they play in the life of nature and especially in the life of the plant world. They are important to our planet. Since most of these animals are very small, they are almost out of sight, and therefore out of mind. It is this extensive insect world to which we turn.
The insects are very much connected to light. Rudolf Steiner has spoken of the butterfly and its relation to light and warmth and the bee as well. Here we are going to take up consideration of the firefly, which is an insect of the Tracheata group but belongs to the group called the Coleoptera. I have had a difficult time delineating the type of firefly that we have here in this area of the world. It is certain that the firefly belongs to the group of Tracheata and to the order of the Coleoptera. Let us again for a moment just look at the whole insect world and the general plan of this phylum of arthropods. There are four main characteristics that belong to this group. First, they all have what is called an exoskeleton made of chitin. This is, as noted before, a substance that is the basis for wood in the plant kingdom. Second, they have an alimentary canal of various types. The third characteristic is that the heart system is dorsal. This means that if an animal is on the horizontal, the heart is in the upper part of the back of the insect. On the ventral abdominal or the lower side of the animal, the major nerves are to be found. There may be a nerve net. This nerve system is the fourth characteristic of all insects including the firefly.
Some further aspects of the insects within this phylum, the Arthropoda, is that the insects all have antennae, generally two. All these insects have three pairs of legs–that is, six legs. Nearly all insects have two pairs of wings. Their respiratory process is typified by having trachea, that is, little openings or orifices on the body surface which lead into air sacs with the body. These animals also have what are called nephric or Malpighian tubules. These are tubules that act in a way equivalent to the kidney excretory activity in higher animals and man. The nephridia empty into the intestine to form a part of the excretory process.
If we go further, we can speak to the specific group, the order of the Coleoptera, which are typified by having what is called elytra or wing cases. These wing cases are a metamorphosis of the two anterior wings of the general insect group. This densification of the anterior wings to form a kind of hard chitinous casing, is typical of this whole group and gives the typical quality to what we know as the beetles. Again, it might be noted that the Coleoptera is the largest species entity within the insect kingdom. Again, it is very astonishing to think how ubiquitous, how extensive, how unperceived the whole beetle family is if one takes a total view of nature.
Now if we focus on the firefly or the glowworm, it is not so easy to come to a real definition. The firefly belongs to two families within the phylum Coleoptera. One family is more connected with the real glowworm, the other more with the firefly, but in both of these families a glowworm can be found. The true firefly family, as far as I can tell, is the Elateridae family. This family is related to the click beetle. The group that we are concerned with is called the Pyrophorus. This term points to the fact that we are dealing with an animal that phosphoresces. In this family there is a glowworm stage. This means that there are female fireflies who may not develop their wings, and who in fact glow. They can have a wormlike appearance. Also, there are pupa within this family which also glow and phosphoresce.
Their pupa are therefore called glowworms.
As far as I can tell, the true glowworm belongs to the family called Malocodermidae of the tribe of Lampyridae. The genus of the Lampyridae that has fireflies is called Luciola. My understanding is that this genus contains the true glowworm. Here there are fairly large wingless insects that have extensive glowing of their abdomens. As far as I know, this is the genus which is found in the tropical climates in the southern hemisphere. The female without wings is called the glowworm.
Let us now go to the genus Pyrophorus, which has all the qualities of the insect group. They have antennae, three pairs of legs, trachea, nephridia, and four wings (two of which are wing cases or elytra). I found it quite difficult to get a careful view of how they develop. My understanding is that the eggs are laid in a crumbling substance from plants, that is, shriveled leaves, bark that has fallen to the earth, dried grass, etc. All this organic matter can serve as the basis for the laying of eggs. The eggs, as far as I have been able to tell, are laid in spring. Animals hatch from the egg. There is the development of a larva or a caterpillar. Next there is an encasement of the larva or the caterpillar to form the pupa. This pupa goes through a transformation to become a full-grown beetle that eats its way out of the case to become a glowworm or firefly. I can not get any indication that this is a process that occurs within a colony. Thus it is a fairly scattered process where females lay their eggs. As far as I can tell, there is no colony process as in the case of the bee or the ant. In this regard, the development of the beetle or the firefly is much more like the butterfly or somewhat like the bumblebee. The animal, when full grown, or when it comes out of the case, is fairly near to full-grown. I take it there is slight growth. I have not been able to determine if there are continual molts so that there is a growth within the exoskeleton. Within this genus, as far as I can tell, the females tend to be wingless. Some of the eggs glow and some of the pupa glow, but the female glows only from the abdomen near the fat organs, which usually are on the last three or four abdominal segments. Again, this is a segmented animal, as is true of all the insects. The segmentation may have a relationship to the cosmic number twelve. I have already indicated this in the previous considerations. There is a rather brief period of development. I could not discover the number of days and weeks, but the development appears to be rapid and short. The season stretches from late spring through midsummer to fall. At St. John’s time here, the firefly activity is at its zenith. The unfolding of the insect is then during the warm period of the year. The eggs have to remain through the winter. The activity of the animal is not during the day, when there is warmth and light, but is during the evening and night. It is during the sunset period that one can so well see the activities of this animal.
Watching fireflies is very interesting. Their activities are often near the woods or at a place between open fields and woods. They also appear where there are a good number of bushes and berries. Just as the sun is setting and the warmth penetrates the atmosphere around the plants as midsummer is on the way, these fireflies begin to appear. Often there is a kind of pulsing in their light, while they rise and sink, that is like a breathing process in the environment in which they are active. This quality of the rhythmic system in this insect activity lifts the whole being of the insect out of the metabolism. The cool glow of the light places this activity into the metabolic sphere where the light process is not a result of fire or burning. The term “firefly,” is, in fact, a misnomer.
What strikes me about the firefly are the wing cases and the organ that produces the light. The light organ is within the fat deposits in the abdomen. These deposits are very near the trachea or the breathing orifices of the surface of the animal. Many theorize that it is the nerves of the ventral nerve system that excite the lighting process. It is as if the nerve process becomes light. Characteristic of the light is that it is a metabolic light, it is a cool light. It is produced at night. Many say the light production is very much connected with the sexual practices of the animals concerned. The substance that becomes lighted is called luciferin. The chemical structure involves not only carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, but also sulphur. Chemists describe the light process by pointing to the activation of electrons within the luciferin. Activated electrons result in the emission of what are called photons or light particles. This line of thinking is typical biochemical thinking.
My suggestion in relation to the lighting process of this animal is to see that it is part and parcel of a casting off process. It might be considered to be a kind of phantom light excretion into the atmosphere. It is an element that is somewhat cast off in the form of light. In the case of the butterfly, another kind of a phantom element is liberated when the fine pigmented scales and dust are loosened in the atmosphere from the butterfly wings.
A way to contemplate this firefly, I believe, is to place it in connection with the butterfly and the bee. As we have indicated, the butterfly is exceptionally connected with light and warmth. The light forms the whole being of the insect and produces the scales with pigment on the wings of the butterflies. It is because of these scales that the butterfly is called Lepidoptera. This means wings with scales. I like to think that it is the light process that brings the whole metabolism of the butterfly to the surface to produce these wonderful colors and pigments. These are then cast into the atmosphere as kind of phantom. This substance can be used by higher spiritual beings. If we look now to the bee, which has a transparent wing, it is called Hymenoptera. I would like to think that the light metabolic process that appears in the scale of the butterfly wing, now has been metamorphosed in the bee so that, within the bee, we can find the formation of honey out of nectar and the secretion of the wax from the abdomen. The honey process I see as an interiorizing of the light process that brought about the scale and the color particles on the surface of the butterfly. The bee is an entity which has moved into the sphere of the plant, forms its hive or nest within the heartwood of the tree. The bee is a being of light and warmth, but has descended out of the upper reaches of the tree (with light and warmth) and has descended into the hollow of the trunk of the tree. The honey and wax likewise have fallen into the bee, away from the surface, where, in the case of the butterfly, the scales and color pigment are formed.
If we look to the firefly, we can consider that this insect has fallen further towards the earth. It forms its basis for reproduction on plant substance that has fallen out of life and which rests on the earth. It requires the warm season of the year in order to develop. It does not migrate as in the case of the butterfly. It does not form a specific temperature as in the case of the bee in the hive. It overwinters in the form of eggs, which then hatch and develop with the coming of a warmer climate. A certain moisture and warmth are needed for this. The animals are not daytime beings, as is the case with the bee and the butterfly. They are nocturnal, and their activity is largely confined to this. These animals or insects are related to the light and warmth of the night. If we now look at this light, moonlight, I would like to suggest that we have a degree of warmth around the animal, but the light that works in this animal is a cool light. In the production of the scale pigment and powder on the butterfly wing, we have the working of a warm light. In the bee, this light and warmth is interiorized and works in the forming of honey and wax. In the firefly, this light works on the surface as cold light to form wing cases. There is also an interiorizing of the chemistry process so that the chemical-metabolic activity enters now into the fat-light organ of the abdomen. Here we do not have the casting off of substance as a kind of phantom in the atmosphere (pigments and scales). There is not a production of substance that can be used to nourish others (honey and wax). There is a casting out of light forms, light phantoms, into the night at the height of summer. It is as if something were breathing out at night, ascending into the reaches of the cosmos in the form of light. It is as if the earth is sending light back into cosmic space, sending light as a kind of phantom element into the cosmos. This is the result of the fact that this insect group takes cold light, which is materialized in the wing cases, and carries light into inner fat organs of the abdomen. This inner light brings about a light substance which, when enlivened, can liberate light which is cool. This type of light and light substance is related more to basic human consciousness than to human activity. We might consider light–light of the moon–as more formative than sunlight. The former gives rise to wing cases that are more dense and material. At the same time, this moonlight helps bring about a chemical process which gives rise to light. This giving forth of light is a kind of re-creating activity by the firefly, who through metabolism is able to bring forth light. We can speak of a metabolic light phantom cast into the cosmos. Here we do not speak of a light that sets something on fire, but of light that is metamorphosed metabolism. Metabolism becomes a kind of a chemical light process, a physical chemical light process that is once more given back at nighttime to the cosmos. As the sun, at its heights, sends light to the earth at midsummer, the night answers with moonlight and the glowing light of the firefly.
Part V Light Metabolism
In order to develop this section, I think it might be well to lay out a schema for the development of major human systems out of which the various organs differentiate. Let’s start out with Saturn evolution. Rudolf Steiner describes the origin of the human senses.
First the senses were sevenfold, and only became twelvefold during the development of the earth. The senses during Saturn were endowed with wisdom, then light, and finally love. They were used by spiritual beings. Characteristic of the Saturn evolution is this laying down of the senses for man. The human kingdom is born in this evolution, but carries the consciousness of the mineral world. On Sun evolution the human glandular system was created. A living configuration came into being: all was life. As much as light could radiate through the purely living, it is possible to speak of life and light. This was a time when the animal kingdom was born, but the consciousness of what was created was that of the plant. So on Saturn the human kingdom is born, on Sun the animal kingdom. On Saturn we have mineral consciousness; on Sun we have a kind of plant-like consciousness.
As we move on to Moon evolution we have the birth of the nerve-sentient substance. Substance can bear life as well as sentience. The plant kingdom is born; the consciousness of Moon is that of the animal kingdom. We can say that the gland-life of sun becomes nervelike sensitivity on Moon. So as we progress, we have man as a kingdom born on Saturn, animal as a kingdom born on Sun, and plant as a kingdom born on Moon. The beings who live in the senses, the gland-life, and the nerve-sentience live within the hierarchical world. These beings who work into these various substance entities come forth to constitute a kingdom within the sphere of the higher spiritual world. The working of the different spiritual beings into the organ systems–sense, gland and nerve–brings about the varying states of consciousness: trance consciousness on Saturn, sleep on Sun, and dream on Moon. What determines the nature of the different organ systems is dependent on the various substances given into creation with each evolution. The physical is given on Saturn, etheric on Sun, and astral on Moon. The physical is transformed into different states: warmth on Saturn, airy on Sun, and watery on Moon. The physical gives rise to the senses, the etheric to glands, and the astral to nerve elements. These structures can be in the warmth, airy or watery state.
With Earth evolution we have the coming forth of the circulatory system. There is a warmth circulation on Saturn, but we don’t actually have a watery-solid circulatory process until the Earth. The heart is a result of the circulatory process. It is not a beginning. However, we can image the whole of Saturn on a very lofty level, containing something of a heart-like activity in the function of the senses. It isn’t until Earth that we have an actual heart organ born as a physical structure out of the circulatory activity. On Saturn the whole sense element can be imagined as a cosmic heart process. The whole of evolution of our earth can be imagined to be born out of a circulatory-sensing heart organization. Evolution is “spoken” from the heart of the cosmos.
With this survey we have the senses, the glands, the nerves, and the circulatory system as a basis for further organ development. With this background let us quickly turn to the structures in the abdominal region, and, in particular, the kidney and related structures. If we look at the human being, laterally (from back to front), we can note the vertebral column (containing the spinal nerves) and the back musculature. There is nothing in back of the vertebral column that is a mirror of the limbs in front. The bone structure of the spinal structures is surrounded by muscle and skin. Just in front of the vertebral column, we have the so-called retroperitoneal space and the retropleural space. The retropleural space is not a true space but a potential space. The retroperitoneal space contains adrenal gland, kidneys, and the reproductory organs and glands. It’s within this space that we can localize the kidney and the adrenal glands, which we want to speak of.
The adrenal glands and the kidneys lie embedded in fat, just in front of the vertebral column and musculature. The nerve element derived from the Moon evolution exists in strands in the spinal canal within the vertebral canal. The bony structure of the entire vertebral column is a derivative of the sense process that came into being on Saturn. The musculature of the back is a derivative of the blood system that originated on Earth evolution. Now, if we go anteriorly, we come to the fat substances and the non-structured tissue substances in which the kidney and adrenal glands are embedded. The adrenal gland is interestingly made up of two types of tissue. One type is a glandular tissue: it constitutes the cortex. Within the cortex is the medulla, which is made up of neural tissue, the other type of tissue. The cortical tissue is a derivative of embryonic, germinal mesenchyme, and the medulla is a derivative of argentiffin cells, which have their origin in the enteric embryonic canal. Of great interest is that we have in the adrenal gland an organ that echoes from Sun evolution. Within the cortex we have a nerve gland. The nerve in the medulla is not made up of fibers, but, rather, glandular-like cells. So that we have in the medulla of the adrenal something that is of nerve, but also gland-like in nature. If we proceed further to the kidney, we now have an organ, and we have to ask what its nature is. I would like to suggest that the kidney is a derivative of the sense system that goes back to Saturn. We know that the kidney originated near the human ear, descended from the head into the thoracic area in the mesonephric kidney and tubular system, and finally settled in the abdominal region, forming the mesonephric kidney. It seems to me this points to the sense origin of the kidney. However, in this case, the kidney descended and tended to migrate into the human organization. The kidney retains its relationship with the sense system in so far as it is extraperitoneal, and it is related to the vertebral column and is located in the retroperitoneal space. This means that the kidney remains in relationship to the outer world, to the sense system, but here the sense system that has turned inward. I would like to suggest the kidney is almost like a more recent unfolding of the sense system. The adrenal gland precedes it. In the case of the adrenal gland we have nerve elements that point back to Moon evolution, and gland elements that point back to Sun evolution. In the case of the kidney we actually have a sense organ that has descended, interiorized itself, does not contain neural tissue, does not contain gland tissue, in its outer configuration resembles the ear, and in its inner configuration resembles the eye. Its origin is from the nephric ridge, which arises near the ear and descends through the entire embryo. So we can say it has a sense origin. It has no neural component. It has actually no gland component. The tubular system and the calyces of the kidney are derivatives of the enteric canal. The kidney somewhat mirrors the adrenal gland in so far as it came into existence during the Hyperborean, Lemurian-Atlantean times. The kidney points back to Saturn, progressing through the evolutions while losing glandular and neural components. The kidneys become sense organs related to the Earth evolution. This all is evidenced by the cortex of the kidney descending from the region of the ear and uniting with the calyceal-tubular system, which arises from the enteric canal in the region of the abdomen. The enteric canal arose as an organ system that is connected with Earth evolution.
If we look at things this way, we then have a kidney that is actually a sense organ pointing back to Saturn, but is very much connected with the Earth and the whole earth domain. The adrenal gland is an organ that points back to evolutions of Sun and Moon while being formed during the Hyperborean-Lemurian unfolding of Earth. These two structures, the kidney and the adrenal gland, are situated, embedded within fat and earth warmth, near the vertebral column and the musculature of the back, which came into existence so that man might have an erect posture.
Previously we spoke to the nature of the kidney. We’ve indicated before as here that the kidney went through three major steps in development. I would like to suggest four. The first step of the kidney is pure mesenchyme; its next phase of unfolding is the pronephros, then the mesonephros, and finally the metanephros. I have related these four stages with the unfolding of the butterfly. This is a very pure form of astral activity connected with this process. I likened the final imago stage of the butterfly to the tufts of the blood vessels that sit within the glomerulus of the nephrons . The warmth-light elements that weave around a butterfly we might consider as forming and bringing about the very fine capillary tufting that dips into the nephron of the kidney. The origin of the tubules, the tubule collecting system, the calyces, and the ureters all rise out of the embryonic digestive canal– the distal end. This unfolding of the ureters, calyces, and tubules can be imagined as an ascending animal form with an open mouth. The mouth of the animal takes in the butterfly tufting that comes from the anterior (upper) pole of the embryo. This ascending of the calyceal to the collecting system which culminates in the nephron, I would liken to the snake which winds its way, opens its mouth to take hold of the butterfly, but contains the butterfly capillaries within its mouth. The nephron corresponds with the mouth of the snake.
With this picture of the kidney we have two very polaric impulses. On the one hand, we have something of a very refined light structure, which descends from the head into the abdominal region as refined butterfly vasculature tufts. On the other hand, we have the wiggling forth out of the earth of the snake tubules, ascending towards the light, taking hold of the butterfly tufts. The earth is soft-watery and very living, but dying away.
Above the kidney, so constituted out of the activities of the snake and the butterfly, we find the adrenal glands. As is known, we have two different configurations of the adrenal gland. We have a triangular, sunlike configuration on the right adrenal, and a moon configuration on the left adrenal. I would like to suggest that these two configurations of the adrenal glands actually point back to a time in earth evolution that is a significant one well to pursue. There is a time in evolution when the moon and sun were still combined with the earth. This was the time of Hyperborea, just shortly after Polaria. Rudolf Steiner indicates that as we look at this period in evolution, with a progressive gaze to Lemuria, we gradually find the separation between the air and the watery earth. The earth is a watery, gelatinous structure in which there are fish or amphibian-like forms. Out of this arises a chalice flower form (like the concave kidney form) influenced on the one side by the sun, and on the other side by the moon. I would like to suggest that the sun activity during this time is reflected in the configuration of a structure like the right adrenal gland, while the moon activity brings about the crescent adrenal form in the chalice. The two structures were gland-light structures connected with sensing and reproducing (old pineal organ). There follows the time when we have a gradual falling out of the lowest animal forms into the earth domain. There is the development of the snake, which Rudolf Steiner indicates appeared within the watery earthly domain. This is the time when the human ureters were formed. That is, the activities that cast out the snake into the earth are the same activities which bring about the development of the ureters and the tubule-collecting system of the kidneys. Rudolf Steiner indicates that a light weaving and breathing developed in the airy domain. In one passage in Egyptian Myths, Rudolf Steiner likens the light activity in the chalices to fireflies who create light which is sent out into the cosmos. It’s for this reason that I would like to suggest that as we’ve looked to the butterfly in relationship to the kidney, we look to the firefly in relation to the adrenal gland. These insects, the firefly and the butterfly, we relate to the constellation of Scorpio. We can say it’s the time in which light weaves and breathes, bringing about the upper form of man, gradually drawing the upper organs out of the lower. The upper organization of man, with organs and light-constructed glands, came into existence. Rudolf Steiner indicates that feet, ankles, shanks, knees, thighs, and the hip girdle were in the process of forming. All of this was being formed within the watery mass of the earth, while above we have the beginning of higher organ formation. Slowly a head-chest organization developed. This upper structure was very much the primal pineal organ. In our present considerations, the archetype of the pineal gland is upper organs of man which are coming into existence with the breathing in air-warmth and the weaving of light. The later pineal and thyroid glands ascend out of this, while the pituitary and adrenal glands descend. These upper structures have not yet been fully drawn out of the human organization at this point. The activities of the warmth and light swirl about the human being. The kidneys are more like a lung-brain and only slowly descend to have the brain and lungs drawn out of the kidneys. The adrenal glands follow the descent of the kidneys as they unite with the collecting system, calyces, and ureters. The adrenals fall out of the archetypal pineal gland organ. I’d like to suggest that the weaving of the light of the Sun and the weaving of the Moon as it exists within the structure of the Earth brings about the two adrenal glands (the pineal organ). But then, as the Sun and Moon exit the glands, the kidneys follow the course of Earth influence. Slowly solid earth develops in the midst of waters. There is a falling away of the earthly element. There is a descending into matter. Reptiles and amphibians come into existence. The snake is born, and within man the light organs and kidneys follow the Earth. Slowly man becomes erect and can stand on earth, but the mineral-plant and animal kingdoms have been excreted out of the human configuration. The processes of excretion give rise to breathing, urinating and defecating.
What’s important to me is that Rudolf Steiner detailed these developments so carefully. He has described the unfolding of the lower human configuration by the forces of the Zodiac. He has pointed out how the working of the constellation of Pisces constitutes the human feet, Waterman constitutes the shanks, etc. What I’m trying to follow up here is the point where the constellation of Scorpio began to form the insects. The insects and insect configuration that are molded out of the workings and weavings of light bear a close relation to the glands and organs which formed at a similar time.
Now let us focus on the butterfly and the beetle. The butterfly is a being totally given over to the sun, the light and the warmth. It forms the fine wing structures and is a typical insect, constituted with a chitinous exoskeleton, and having ommatidial eyes. The eyes point to the mineral kingdom, the exoskeleton to the plant kingdom, the wings to the animal kingdom, and the four stages of development to the human kingdom. This butterfly development we can see unfolding in the light and warmth of the sun but totally anchored in the domain of the living plant. The butterfly is a higher plant, a flying plant. If we look to the firefly, the coleoptera, we begin to see a densification of the whole process. It’s as if what had occurred in the butterfly had been made more earthy. The wing cases of the beetle bespeak this densification. We pointed out how the beetle has a metabolic activity that brings light, firefly light. I would like to compare this with the functioning of the adrenal gland, which is a fallen light-gland. The adrenal gland does not give forth light, but it can secrete substances into the human blood stream. Life is pressed out of the gland. Light can remain for consciousness. This pressing of secretions into the blood is a basic life process that is needed even for sleep consciousness. Just as the firefly has a metabolic activity, this is typical of the insect world, it is able to create a metabolism that transforms life into light substance and light. Light is given off at night during the time of sleep.
For a moment now let’s go to the adrenal gland. The cortex is made up of three layers. The outer layer is called the granulosa. It contains hormonal substance very much connected with mineral metabolism. The middle layer is known as the vesiculata and is full of fatty substance. And the inner layer is called the reticularis. It contains hormonal substances, fat substances associated with the gender of man. The medulla contains substances connected with the amino acid
metabolism, and is very much connected with conscious life.
The gland is extremely interesting. We can say it is largely constituted of a fatlike substance. All the cortical layers have a great deal of cholesterol, the inner layer amino acids. The function of the outer aspect of the gland is connected with life, and the inner with consciousness. We can say that the human being secretes substances from the cortex into the bloodstream. This is essential to the life processes of the human organization and the consciousness of sleep. When the medulla secretes adrenaline, an epinephrine-like substance, in the bloodstream, there is an awakening process. In this gland we see the polarity between consciousness and life, or light and life, in a most dramatic way. It is expressed physiologically.
Somewhat of a survey of the chemistry of fats might be of interest. First, let us again mention that adrenal glands and kidney lie embedded in the fat. The adrenal gland itself is largely fat that has been transformed into gland. The fatty substance so much connected with the adrenal gland is cholesterol. In order to come to an appreciation of cholesterol, I’d like to suggest that we consider fats in a fourfold way. First, we have the fatty acids which are 16 to 30 carbon strings –if we look at fatty acids in a molecular-atomic fashion. I consider this fat substance to correspond with the physical. Next, we have the oily fats or the turpenes, which are a lengthy repetition of the fatty acid chains with a few cyclical structures interdigitated. I consider the turpenes and oils as fat substances related to the etheric world.
Then, we find the neutral fats which have a threefold makeup. Neutral fats are triglycerides. They often are connected with nerve tissues. There is a basic three-carbon glycerol structure with lengthy chains of fatty acids. The triglycerides, when combined with phosphorus and precipitated, become the substances that encase nerve fibers. Neutral fats point to the astral component in the fat metabolism. Now, if we come to cholesterol, we have a basic configuration that we call the cyclopentaphenanthrene nucleus, with varying substances attached to this nucleus. This basic structure is made up of four rings. This fatty substance, connected with the ego organization active in metabolism, is the basis for the configuration of all the adrenal steroids. It is this basic fat structure that is metamorphosed into various forms that give rise to the various steroids that we find connected with the adrenal gland. We find aldosterone, which is called a mineralocorticoid. This is a variant of basic steroid form and is connected with the mineral or physical in the body. We have the glucocorticoid or cortisol that is a variant of the basic steroid configuration. This is connected with carbohydrate metabolism. And then we have the steroids that are connected with maleness and femaleness. The adrenal glands secrete both male and female hormones. We can say, then, that all the secretions from the adrenal glands are very much connected with metamorphosis of the basic structure–that is, the cyclopentaphenanthrene configuration. We have four cyclical structures and varying types of linear-chain structures attached. It is as if we had a fourfold structure that radiates out into different configurations. This is an imaginative construction, or an imaginative or fantasy transformation of this molecular structure. I would further imagine this configuration to be a fourfolded radiant sun. In the middle of the gland we have a metabolic process going on which is connected with protein metabolism. Adrenalin-like substances result and are secreted into the bloodstream.
These substances are continuously pressed into the circulation, but there is also a rhythmic fluctuation. There’s a gradual rise or increase in the secretions from 2:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M. The rate of secretion falls towards 2:00 P.M., to decrease even further by 8:00 P.M. Once more there is a slow increase to 2:00 A.M. This is a slow rhythmic-pulse-respiratory process within the metabolic gland system. This is a basic diurnal rhythm that is connected with our sleeping and waking. I like to compare this rhythmic activity to the rhythmic-like activity of the fireflies as they rise and fall producing light. The firefly gives forth light, the human being in secretions gives forth a continual human phantom creation.
We might look at the destiny of the cortisol substances. Once they are secreted in the blood, some are carried and bound to plasma protein. They stay connected with life. Others are destroyed very actively. Others are conjugated to become a part of the bile production process in the human being. Some of the substances have a half-life of ten minutes. Some of them, such as the sex steroids, have a very long half-life that may be in terms of 24 to 36 hours.
We know that the life stresses bring a stimulus to the adrenal glands to maintain the basic life processes. We know that when the soul awakening is needed, there is a secretion of the medullary component of the adrenal gland.
What all this speaks to, it seems to me, is what Rudolf Steiner has indicated. With change in consciousness, thinking about a gland, or on a gland, there are changes in the gland. With consciousness drawn to the organ or gland, there is an inner secretory process that occurs. With this, there is a pressing out of substance from the gland–with a liberation of forces for consciousness. In the case of the adrenal glands, something of this activity can be imagined without a great deal of difficulty.
Part VI Light Metabolism
In this discussion I would like to take up the reproductory system in relation to the bumblebee.
If we go back to our discussion about the adrenal glands and the kidney, I tried to suggest that we might consider the firefly in relation to the adrenal, and the butterfly in relation to the kidney. Our discussion centered around the possibility of viewing the adrenal gland as a gland-nerve organ, related to the activity of the sun and moon at the time of old Lemuria. I further suggested that the kidney might well be considered to be a sense organ . The line of thought which led to this perspective of the kidney I related to the stages of kidney development and the fact that the pronephros began developing near the ear early in embryological unfolding. We follow the descent of the kidney from the region of the ear through the stages of the pronephros, mesonephros, and metanephros, into the region of the abdomen. This last stage of the unfolding kidney is actually quite important to our considerations in this section, where I will try to take up the reproductory organs in relationship to the bumblebee .
Now let us quickly go over cosmic evolution in relationship to the human organ development as we did in the last section, Light Metabolism V. There we noted the unfolding of the senses on old Saturn, the unfolding of the glands on old Sun, the nerves on old Moon, and the circulatory organism unfolded during Earth evolution. My suggestion is that we consider that the internal organs–lungs, liver, spleen, etc,. are in fact sense organs which have not developed on the surface. Sense organ unfolding began on Saturn but progressed through evolution. As the eye grew into the head out of the working of the Sun, by analogy the liver grew into man out of the digestive earth process of Lemuria.
Now let us progress further looking at the organs of the body below the neck. We can do this by dividing the human torso, between shoulders and hips, into a thoracic and an abdominal region. We know that the diaphragm divides these two regions. The indication from Rudolf Steiner is in fact that these two regions developed from different impulses, from different cosmic activities. Rudolf Steiner, in the cycle Egyptian Myths, tells how the human organization of the torso, connected with the spinal and vertebral columns, is in fact revealed in the mysteries connected with Isis and Osiris. Rudolf Steiner indicates that the nerves of the abdominal region are connected with Osiris forces. The nerves of the chest are related to Isis forces. These are astral forces, formative elements that live in the cosmos but work into the etheric. Rudolf Steiner indicates how the spinal nerves are a reflection of the working of these formative elements described as Isis force systems and Osiris force systems. The fourteen upper nerves and the fourteen lower nerves are a reflection of the phases of the moon. Here astral activities flow into the etheric, which lives in the play between Sun, Moon, and Earth. There are twenty-eight phases of the moon. The twenty-eight days of the Moon, as it moves around the earth creating an etheric sphere into which sun forces can stream, is mirrored in the twenty-eight spinal nerves of the spinal cord system.
Now, if we have divided the trunk system of man into what is above and what is below the diaphragm, we can look at the torso from posterior to anterior, that is, in saggital section. If we begin with the back, we have already pointed out that we can find musculature, the vertebral column, and the spinal column, which is a column of nerves within the vertebral column. If we progress anteriorly, posing the archetypal configuration, anterior to the vertebral column we find a space or a potential space. In the case of the abdominal region we find the retroperitoneal space. This space is exposed to the earth force systems. This space does not exist in the thoracic region of the human being. What should be in this space has disappeared and fallen into another region. We will take this up in just another minute. Anterior to the space just described, is the space enclosed by delicate membranes. In the case of the chest we have the pleural space enclosing the lung. In the region of the abdomen we have the peritoneal space, which encloses the intestines, the liver, the spleen, and the gall. In both the chest and abdominal region we find spaces in which organs are enclosed by fine membranous structures. The fact is that there are two membranes with a potential space in between. Occasionally the space is realized with air or fluid accumulations. The accumulation of air or fluid in these potential spaces occurs in diseased states, so that we can in fact identify these as spaces. They, in fact, and for the most part, exist only as potential spaces. Small amounts of fluid are continually secreted into these spaces but it is quickly reabsorbed. Again, the chest as well as the abdomen region have inner organs enclosed in these sheaths. These organs have grown out of the embryonic enteric canal and have pushed their way into the enclosed spaces very much like the eye has pushed its way into the skull.
In front of or anterior to these membranous spaces, we find the heart in the chest and the reproductory organs, the uterus and the prostate, in the abdomen. The heart is an invagination into the thoracic region, formed by the pericardium which originated in the region of the head. The pericardium begins as a sinus around the forebrain of the embryo and descends into the chest region. It is a kind of an invagination from the region of the head. Blood fluids flow through the pericardial sinus. Vessels form and out of this the heart can form.
In summary, then, we could say ideally we have the posterior-anterior spacial configuration as follows. We can first see the back with the musculature and the vertebral bodies which enclose the spinal column. Anterior to this, we have a potential or realized space. There is potential retropleural space and an actual retroperitoneal space. Anterior to this space, we have organs enclosed by a double-layered covering. Above the diaphragm, the lung is enclosed; below, the diaphragm, the liver, spleen and gall. Anterior to the enclosed lung, we find the heart, within an enclosed space, which is an invagination from above. Below the diaphragm, we can find the reproductory organs–the uterus and prostate as invaginations. This latter invagination we will develop a little later.
Now let us look at the chest region, where we can find a potential space. Nothing is located there. In the case of the abdominal region, we have the kidney and the adrenal gland occupying this space. In fact, in addition, we can find the womb, in the case of the woman, or prostate in the male, as well as the reproductory glands in this space. A way in which we might consider the reproductory glands and even the womb and prostate is to consider that they originated in the chest region in the retropleural space but descended into the abdominal area.
To follow the descent of the reproductory system out of the chest region and into the abdominal area is in fact not so difficult. If we call to mind the stages of the development of the kidney from pronephros to mesonephros to metanephros, we have to note that the pronephros disappeared somewhere in the region of the head. The mesonephros that developed in the thoracic area, and the urogenital ridge, also disappear. The urogenital ridge developed early embryologically and unfolds with the mesonephric tubules. The mesonephros disappears or descends out of the thoracic region to give rise to the seminiferous tubules of the male testes. The mesonephrotic tubules totally disappear in the female. From the urogenital ridge we find the origins of the ovaries and part of the testes plus the genital organs. However, the glands (ovaries and testes) and the organs (uterus and prostate) leave the retropleural space of the thorax and descend into the retroperitoneal space of the lower abdomen. In the case of the male, the testes descend into the sac that evolves outside of the abdominal cavity altogether. What we are describing here is the disappearance of glands and organs from the chest region. They disappear from the chest, and descend and occupy the retroperitoneal space in the abdomen of both male and female. I do not know if it is too important to follow every germ layer that is involved in this process. However, I do believe that it is most important to get a general view of the fact that the glands and organs related to reproduction fall out of the thorax and enter into the lower abdominal region of man. The reproductory glands and organs, like the adrenal gland and kidney, occupy the space which is outside the peritoneal cavity. This space is more subjected to the earth force systems than the intraperitoneal space.
As we look to the origin of the heart, and the impulses that transform a part of the circulatory vessels into the heart, we have to contemplate the pericardial sinus. The sinus originates at the anterior end of the embryonic plate in the region of the neural crest out of which the brain evolves. The force systems in the pericardial sinus descend with the sinus into the chest region to transform vessels into heart. My inclination is to consider the sinus as the origin of the force system connected with the metamorphoses of the neural canal. The same force system in the chest region gives rise to the metamorphosis of the blood vessels. I would like to suggest that the placenta at the posterior end of the embryo gives rise to the reproductory organs that are invaginated into the abdominal region. This is a similar image of the process that occurs in relation to the heart. In this way, the placenta carries impulses to create the reproductory organs (uterus and prostate) as invaginations into the abdominal region. Both uterus and prostate are muscled organs like the heat. To be true, the prostate is a glandular organ as well. However, the principle of transforming circulatory vessels into organs appear in the lower body to some degree.
While we see this unfolding of organs in the lower trunk of the human being, we can see that organs and life process have disappeared from the upper regions. Above, it is the play of light that holds sway and, below, the workings of life. We can consider light above, and, below, life and darkness.
Above, we find this light processes holding sway. Soul light activity is located in the thoracic region where there is a centralization of the rhythmic system. In the abdominal region we have the element of life which is so important for nourishing, reproducing, and sustaining. There is a differentiation between the upper chest and lower abdomen. The story of this differentiation is beautifully told if we look into Rudolf Steiner’s description of the Osiris myth and its relationship to the unfolding of the human organization. Rudolf Steiner points out how the light weaves and works through Hyperborea-Lemuria and into Atlantis. There, light activities assert themselves in the region of the chest. The life and processes of darkness assert themselves in the lower region of the abdomen and limbs. The differentiation between the two (light and darkness) are very much connected with the play between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. In fact, we can say the interplay of the Sun, Moon, and Earth is what is responsible for the configuration of the chest and the abdominal regions of the trunk. With time, the head comes forth above and the limbs below. We can also say that the original division is a chaliced plant-abdominal structure anchored in the watery earth, and, above, delicate insect light structures located in the chalice like a light respiratory process. The secret of this unfolding, as I understand it, was kept as one of the profound mysteries in the mystery centers of Egypt. Here the secrets of Isis and Osiris were disclosed to the initiate as he could come to see the coming into existence of the human configuration. What is astonishing is that Rudolf Steiner has placed this mystery in an open forum so that many of us can contemplate and investigate how the human configuration came about.
What I have tried to add to the description given by Rudolf Steiner in the cycle Egyptian Myths, is that as the abdominal-chaliced-flower form came in to existence, lower animal forms began to weave into the watery earth. Higher animal forms also came into existence, notably the animals which would lend themselves to domestication–the bull, the lion, and the eagle all in transformation in relation to the configuration of the trunk and head of man. These animal forms are more connected with mans upper configuration. What I have tried to entertain in our discussions of light metabolism is, in fact, that while these higher animals (vertebrate mammals ) are born in the weaving light as upper man unfolds, there is a more delicate light weaving in pure life (without darkness) that permits the unfolding of the human gland-endocrine organs and the insects. This is a very refined working of light into the human organization. This is like the old and the new Sun activity again unfolding the gland system that had its origin on old Sun evolution; the old Sun workings create endocrine organs more connected with life, while the new Sun activity (with the Moon) brings about glands more related to consciousness (for example, the life of the adrenal cortex and the nerve conscious activity of the adrenal medulla). At the same time, we have the pushing out from man of those activities, which gives rise to the insect world. The organs unfold in relation to the major animal configuration, and the endocrine glands in relation to the insect forms.
If we go now to the insect world, I would like to develop some thoughts in relationship to the bumblebee. In order to do this, let us take a bit of a perspective and create a vista in regard to insects that we are considering. Let us start by considering the butterfly. The butterfly creates the fine ethereal substance that is the result of the workings of light and warmth ether elements. We have tried to find connections with this fine working in the kidneys themselves. Let us for example, contemplate hemopoietin as an endocrine function of the kidneys. What we can further note is that the butterfly is a being subject to the elements of the seasons, to the flow of temperatures and to a life sequence of nature. The kidneys are exposed to the flow of our seasons and weather (astrality). At the same time, the kidneys are likewise exposed more to nature-earth forces than are the organs that are located in the peritoneal cavity. If we look to the liver, we can consider this organ connected so much with metabolism, particularly with the metabolism of carbohydrate and protein. The pancreas as a gland and associated endocrine activities lie in close proximity. Both structures, liver and pancreas, lie removed from the world. The rest are within the peritoneal cavity. In the structuring of the liver we have an echo of the hexagonal cells of the honeycomb. We can liken processes of the liver with those connected with the bee. The whole hexagonal system of the liver, filled with juicy, sweet, and proteinaceous substances, might be compared with the beehive. We might think of the islets of Langerhans as the cells of the queen bee directing influences for the sugar sweet substance of the liver. We even find a worker activity in the liver-bile activity. As in the liver we have a colony of organized activity, in the cells of the islets of Langerhans we have a cell, or group of cells, where the queen has its nest. Important is that we have here a certain social configuration. With the liver, with the pancreas and the islets of Langerhans, we have a beehive-like configuration. We have a sustained temperature as in the case of the beehive. The bee produces wax and sugar substances–produces configurational activities as well as metabolic substances. We can say the same thing for the liver and the pancreas, which are located within the peritoneal cavity, within the confines of the human being that is so much connected to the ego-organization. Something of an ego-organizational activity can be also encountered in the beehive. Something of an immense working of life goes on in connection with the liver, as in the beehive. There is an activity in warmth and darkness. For a more intense working of light, the bee has to enter the light, which still has to be penetrated with warmth ether.
To progress further, we have related the firefly to the adrenal gland. We have contemplated that the adrenal gland in its relation to the kidney can give a vague reminiscence of the condition of Hyperborea and Lemuria. There we might contemplate the Sun activity giving rise to a light gland sitting in the chalice of the kidney, creating an angula form (the form of the right adrenal). When Moon activity waxes, a crescent gland of light forms in the chalice of the kidney. (The left adrenal is crescent in form.) Because of the location of the adrenal glands, they are much more influenced by earthly events (consciousness, activities, and earth forces directly). In the adrenals we do not find the intense workings of warmth and light. Earth and reflection of light weaving play more into the activity of the adrenals. The same thing we find in the firefly, whose life is in the evening and at night. The play of light from the firefly relates one insect being to another.
However, the social process of the firefly is not apparent. The night and the Moon are evident in the life of the firefly. The whole process unfolds with the increasing light and warmth of the sun; the unfolding of the firefly is connected with the height of light and warmth of summer, but the activity of the firefly appears with the cooling of the evening and the darkness of night. Something of the function of the adrenal gland is very much echoed here.
Now if we turn to the bumblebee, we find that this is a typical insect. It has four stages of unfolding. It develops during the warmth of the summer. The life of the bumblebee is one of rapid growth and unfolding, it is one of immense activity and rapid decline. Within a two to three month period, we have the unfolding of the bumblebee, from the stage of the dormancy to growth, activity, and death. A dormant egg unfolds in the warmth, becomes a queen who then nurtures other dormant eggs which unfold into workers. All of this is a very rapid process leaving no community. Only cells in a dormant potential remain for the next year. The bumblebee unfolds, not so much in relationship to light but more in relation to the warmth. The warmth is an earth warmth as the bumblebee evolves in some hollow of the earth where there is debris. Leftover nesting materials from other animals, dying substances from the plant world, and even excreta of some ,animals, serve as a basis for constructing a comb. The comb may contain debris as well. The bumblebee has the exoskeleton of the chitin. It has ommatidious eyes and it has the fine wing structures. All of this speaks to a kind of a light element. The color of the body is often dark or black with some lighter elements woven in. But the whole body is wrapped in hair. What to me is significant, is that we do not have the giving forth so much of wax, but rather we find the growth of hair. This insect creates some wax and some honey but nothing like the honey bee. What we have is an immense production of hair, and service to the pollination of plants which require the long proboscis of the bumblebee. The bumblebee is like a burly fellow who remains within the earth, who remains full of life but lives a very short period. The service to the plant world with a proboscis that is almost as long as the whole animal fulfills its function in life. Then the bee dies away. This insect is very much a being of light, even though it is connected with warmth and is very much connected with the earth. The light process is evident in its makeup, but the life element is one of very rapid appearance and rapid disappearance.
If I were to imaginatively describe the functioning of the ovaries, with the eggs, the development of the follicles, and then the expulsion of the egg, I think we can almost see a mirroring of the life and activity of the bumblebee. New life follows after the death of the more recent ovulated egg. The egg and follicle unfolds and vanishes; eggs in a vegetative state remain. We have an even more dramatic mirror in the case of the testes. There is an even more rapid unfolding of the sperm with a short life and hardly an unfolding. The processes of life predominate in both the ovaries and testes: it is almost rampant. Warmth is a critical factor, but darkness is very much a part of these glands, which originated out of the weaving of light .
In conclusion, then, I have tried to see the reproductory organs descending out of the chest, out of the region of the retropleural space. They descend into the extraperitoneal space and come under the influence of earthly forces. Likewise, I think it is of value to imaginatively follow the falling away from pure light and warmth ether in the case of the butterfly and the bee, to darkness and earthliness in the case of the firefly and the bumblebee. In this way we follow a light process which brought forth the glands on old Sun. These glands still remain basically with the light processes, but unfold gradually through the influences of subsequent evolution. We can follow the descent of the glands, the endocrine glands, into earthly and dark provinces of existence. At the same time, we can follow trends in the insect world with a degree of fantasy imaging.
Part VII Light Metabolism
In our previous discussions and considerations we have developed the line of thought that the reproductory system has very much fallen out of the thoracic area of man, out of the supradiaphramatic area. We have indicated that the urogenital ridge and the mesonephric structures of this region have fallen into the pelvis to give rise to organ systems. We can perhaps follow this a little further.
If we look at the thoracic mesonephric structures of the human embryo, we notice that they disappear. The metanephric kidney develops in the abdominal region, the mesonephric structures in the case of the male gives rise to the tubules, and the rete testis to the future testes. In the case of the female, the mesonephric tubules and the mesonephric duct, also called the Wolffian duct, disappear. In the female, there is a development of the Mullerian duct system, near which arise the ovarian structures. Gradually, as the Mullerian ducts fuse, they give rise to the uterus. The reason for mentioning this difference in the gonadic and reproductory organ origin of male and female is to indicate that the male still retains something of an embryological history in relationship to his gonads and his reproductory organs. This is not the case in the female. She brings forth something de novo. We can say from this that, in a way, the male impulse carries more of a past in his organic makeup than does the female. The female has something of a newer impulse.
Let us now, for a moment, look at the gonads of the male and the female. In the case of the female, the gonads lie in the retroperitoneal space of the human pelvis. They originate in relationship to the Mullerian ducts. The ovaries are encased in a kind of tunic and inside there is a glandularity. The ovaries are made up of many germinal follicles. Some argue that the number of germinal follicles or primitive female eggs are fixed at the time of birth. Others claim that there is a life and division so that new follicles form. Whatever the case, we can say that there is not an overabundance of life in the ovaries. There is a sustaining, there is an evolution of cellular germinal substance into cells and into germinal cell structures, so that we can speak of primary follicles or primary eggs which give rise to enlarging, growing follicles. In a mature adult, if we look at the ovary, we will see that it is made up of an ever-ascending and -descending process in terms of the primary follicle. There is an evolution into a Graafian follicle, in which the ovum is contained in the center of the follicle. Then the Graafian follicle ruptures to extrude the ovum or the egg into the abdominal cavity, only to be taken back into the ostea of the uterine tubes. There is a further progression of the ruptured follicle to form a corpus luteum, which then regresses and becomes an atrophic follicle and finally a corpus or a skeleton of the very lively active corpus luteum. We might think that we can see here a full range of a rising-waxing moon: a full moon with the mature follicle, and the complete corpus luteum formation, and then gradually there is a shrinking, like a waning moon. There is the formation of the involuting corpus luteum and the development of the corpus albicans. The whole process is continually running a course from one month to another. There is an ascending activity with the development of the Graafian follicle and a descending process retrogressing into the corpus albicans. However, all of this occurs quite removed from the world, though somewhat under the influence of the earth and earth forces which are at work in the pelvis. The ovarium process takes place within the retroperitoneal cavity of the woman. The egg ascends into the coelom (or into the heaven) only to be taken up again into the tubes and moved into the uterus. In the uterus the ovum is implanted to become an embryo or it is extruded with menses. For the most part it is considered that an ovary gives off an ovum per month at the time of ovulation. How exact this is I am not certain. It might be that more than one ovum is given off and that the whole idea may not be quite as accurate as it is claimed to be. The reason for raising doubt is that there might be a more active process in relationship to ovulation than is considered today.
In relationship to the insect world, I have suggested that we see the rapid development and falling away of the bumblebee that is not in a colony, as a nature image of the rise and fall of the human ovarian follicular process.
If we now contrast the male gonad, we see that it has its origin with the mesonephric system. It gradually unfolds. The testes descend into the retroperitoneal space and are then gradually carried exterior to the pelvis into the outer world, into the scrotum. The direction of unfolding is one of no longer being contained in the pelvis. The male gonads are placed into the world, into the domain of earth force systems, in a much greater degree than in the case of the female. Now if we look at the structure of the testes we can say that it does not have such an enclosed form as the ovary, particularly if we look at the testes in cross section. There is an echo of the kidney radiational forms. We can note that the testes’ center mediastinal areas and then the seminiferous tubules ray out like a raying sun. There is something of a radiational, extravasating, exuding, casting-off expression in the anatomical configuration of the testes. Much of the testicular tissue arises from the genital ridge area and descends with the mesonephros. As noted before, the epididymis and the rete testis are a part of the testes and have their origin in the mesonephric system. As already indicated, this disappears in the case of the female, although on a very exact examination there seems to be a small segment of the mesonephric system that does play a part in the development of the female gonad. However, I believe it is important to see that with the male there is the descent of the mesonephric system in the retroperitoneal space into the pelvis and out of this space to descend into the scrotum. In the scrotum, the testes are subjected to earth forces. On the other hand, one can find the ovary more removed from the outer world.
The male gonad functions very differently than the female. Both have endocrine functions, which we should probably take up. We have already indicated that the gonadal hormones are metamorphoses of the endocrine substances that are made in the adrenal gland–all connected with cholesterol metabolism. The male testes do not go through the cycle of events with the cellular structural changes of the ovary. Sperm are formed and ejaculated. It is of great interest that the female cycle occurs unconsciously. There is little to be done to alter the development of the follicle and the extruding of the ovum. In the case of the male, there is a more conscious relationship with the whole spermatic process. Spermatozoa are ejaculated with sexual activity. This all brings the whole process into a much more conscious domain as far as the male is concerned. There is every indication that spermatozoa are also produced and reabsorbed, die away, without sexual activity. However, in the case of the more conscious sexual activity, the sperm are forcefully ejaculated by the whole muscular system that is a part of the male reproductory system. So that we can say that there is a very active process with the male. There is the rapid production of the spermatozoa. The spermatazoa are either reabsorbed or ejaculated. In the case of the female, the whole process quietly goes its own way without the intervention of consciousness. Also of great interest are the numbers involved with the ovary and the spermatazoa. Our general thinking is that one cell, one ovum, is developed each month. This is extruded into the abdominal cavity. In the case of a normal ejaculum, one is generally speaking of millions of cells, millions of sperm. This is an amazing contrast with the single ovum that plays a part in the female reproductive metabolic system. This rapidity and number of spermatazoa production bespeaks an incredible activity of life forces. This dispersion of life into manifold cell production, with rounding or encapsulating, is like a system more connected with the moon. The more radiational, rapid, dispersing life process of sperm production seems more connected with the sun. We thereby could liken the ovary to the moon and the testes to the sun.
An interesting line of thought in regard to the ovaries and the testes, is to consider the rounded, enclosed, and enveloped ovum in contrast to the elongate threefold configuration of the sperm. The sperm is said to have a head, a body, and a tail. With conception, we can consider a threefold element enters into the egg to disperse it so that it is fractured and can be a receptacle of a threefold human impulse. The contrast and configuration of the ovary and the testes bespeaks something of the ultimate contrast of the ovum and the spermatazoa. The rounded encapsulated form of the ovary, the radiational dispersing configuration of the testes, seem to be followed down into the final form of the ovum and sperm. Two very different force systems are operative in the two gonadal organs.
Here I would like to suggest that we are dealing with light configurational activities. The moon configurational activity bears form and roundness, in contrast to the sun configurational activity to be seen in radiation and dispersion. In both cases we are dealing with formative light processes, even if we are dealing with the light activities at work in form. I would still consider this a part of light metabolic or light formative metabolic activity.
Again, it would be worthwhile to consider that both the ovaries and the testes are under the influence of the earth. The ovary sits in the pelvis where earth forces are still at work, and the testes located in the scrotum are very much more influenced by the earth forces. Warm and cold, in particular, play a significant role in relation to the testes. In cold weather the testes are drawn up to the abdomen, and in warm they descend and fall away from the abdomen. In each case there is a connection with the outer warmth and cold. The female gonads have very little warmth to influence their activity. The female makeup is much more self-contained, with a moon-like rhythm. In the male makeup, the sun, with its determination of warmth and cold, has a great influence.
Now let us turn to two major organs connected with reproduction, the uterus and the prostate. Here it may be well to look at the general structure of the womb or even the embryogenesis of the womb. The uterus arises from the Mullerian ducts, which become fused. A muscular organ evolves. The muscles are capable of being stretched and still can contract when the birth process takes place. It is amazing to imagine to what extent these muscles can be enlarged and stretched as in the case of pregnancy. They later once again return to normal. The uterus has two extensions in the form of the tubes with fimbriated ostia or openings. To look at the uterus and tubes can remind us of what can be seen by looking into the mouth of the human being and imagining the eustachian tubes which run into the ears. This pharyngeal-eustachian tube-ear configuration resembles very much the uterine-tubular osteal-fimbria configuration of the female genital tract. Again, this reproductory tract is formed from the Mullerian system. Essentially it does not bear a relationship with the pronephric system or the mesonephric system that originate above the diaphragm in the upper region of the human being. The female system arises much more from the influences that are connected with the pelvis. Something of the sun radiational system that is connected with the human thoracic cavity is carried in the testes all the way through the pelvis into the scrotum. In the case of the female, one sees everything originating in the ovaries and in the reproductory tract, connected with the more moon-like activities that are related to the pelvis. Again, the uterus is largely muscular. However, it has a glandular makeup that is connected with the inner lining of the uterus. This lining goes through continual changes through the course of the month. There is a building up of a glandular lining filled with blood, and then this lining is sloughed off. There is a huge amount of material that is built up and sloughed off, in the case of the female. The ovary does not seem to share this intensity of activity. This intense building up and sloughing would seem to be more in the case of the male. This intense life activity is more to be seen in the testes. Again, if we go back to the uterus, we see that the glandularity of the uterine lining, the inside of the uterus, is built up and extravasated once a month.
In the case of the male we have the homolog of the uterus in the male prostate. This is also a muscled organ penetrated throughout with a glandularity. The gland and the muscle is not separated to such a degree as in the case of the uterus. In the prostate the glandularity is not a lining but is interdigitated into the musculature like a plant rising up into the atmosphere . The glandularity of the prostate produces prostatic fluids and hormonal substances. The lining of the uterus also produces secretions and hormonal substances. The prostate again does not go through a monthly cycle but is much more under the control of the more conscious conceptual activity of the male. There is a continual production of prostatic secretions. When there is not sexual activity, there are other forms of eliminating the glandular secretions. Of considerable interest is the fact that in the case of the female, with menopause, the uterus tends to shrink away. In the case of the male there is a tendency with age for the prostate to grow and enlarge .
If we look at the prostate and uterus in terms of musculature, we see that both are constructed of involuntary musculature. In contrast, the heart is also involuntary musculature on the way to voluntary musculature. Here in the reproductory system we see, in the lower abdomen, contractile organs, muscle organs that function quite involuntarily.
If we look to the origin of the muscle impulse in the formation of the uterus and the prostate, I would like to think that we have to look at the placenta. It is the placenta which gives rise to these muscle organs. The allantois that develops in the early embryo moves out with an impulse which gives rise to the placenta in the female uterus. At the time there is an inner impulse in the embryo–from the allantois–called the cloaca, which then becomes the basic glandular impulse of the uterus or prostate. I would like to suggest that, just as we have the pericardial sinus at the anterior end of the human embryo, which at first is active to give rise to the brain formation and later the heart, so, in the case of the placenta, we have the impulse that is working in connection with the allantois giving rise to the cloaca, which in turn becomes an impulse for the development for the prostate and the womb. Another way of thinking of this is to consider the pericardial sinus, which becomes the pericardial cavity, as creating space for the heart. The placenta is actually a heart organ that develops in the womb during the gestational period. This is carried into the sphere of the allantois and the cloaca, which creates space for the prostate and uterus. The further extension of the placenta and cloaca is to carry the impulse for the heart formation in the pericardial cavity. The cloaca and placenta carry the impulse to the formation of the heart as a derivative of the circulatory system. We can then find the muscle process arising in the placenta as a result of a kind of a heart blood organ formation process that unfolds in the womb itself. The female womb then becomes an originator of a muscle impulse in the formation of the prostate, the womb, and the heart. We might consider that the uterine placenta bears the impulse for the entire muscle system of the human being. As the pericardial sinus gave rise to the spherical brain system, drawing it out of the spinal system (out of the embryonic membranes), this same sinus then moved down to give rise to a space system in which the impulse of the womb could be received to form the heart itself.
It is important to follow the movement and activity of the pericardial sinus. It is connected with the unfolding of the space where the heart can unfold. It does not give rise to the heart. The heart impulse arises from the womb. The womb of the mother carries an impulse which gives rise to the muscle systems. The muscle system arises out of a kind of heart organ, the pregnant uterus with placenta, which works during embryogenesis. This heart organ system is the uterus when it is pregnant. It would seem to me we can say here that we have the play of light and darkness. Light plays into the head region of the embryo, the anterior cephalic region. The cephalic end of the embryo, when light works, gives rise to space in which metabolic nerve, metabolic substance, can unfold to form a brain. This pericardial sinus contains a kind of light space impulse. This is next carried into the chest. There the pericardial sinus makes it possible for the circulatory system to unfold a kind of limb muscle system, whose origin lies within the womb itself. This womb impulse is transferred into the placenta, carried over into the allantoic vitteline vessels, and then carried into the cloaca to give rise to the prostate and uterus. The uterine-placenta is carried further into the actual formation of the muscle structure of the heart. In the case of the womb-prostate, we have the unconscious musculature, the involuntary musculature. In the case of the heart, the muscle becomes striated. I would like to think that it is just here in the case of the striated musculature, with light and dark bands, that we can contemplate the interweaving light and darkness. The creating of space in the head and the thoracic region out of the pericardial sinus, I would like to suggest, is the weaving of light. In the case of the development of the muscles, the muscle system develops out of the womb of the mother and then into the fetus is an impulse of darkness and metabolic activities. Here again, the weaving of light. In the evolving of the organs of the brain, heart, and striated musculature, light is at work. It is darkness working in the placenta-womb (moon-earth) that fills the head with the brain metabolic substance, and the pericardial chest region with metabolic muscle substance.
If we follow this light and darkness working, we can do the same in looking at the sperm and the ovum. The sperm carries something of the threefold light impulse in terms of threefolding of the sperm. With conception, a light impulse is taken into the darkness, into the ovum. The pure living element of the ovary is darkness. When sperm and ovum unite, the ovum is fractured, bringing something of the light principle to the pure living ovum. The chaos that follows in the ovum permits the incarnation. The threefold light impulse of the spermatozoa, and the unifying single life element of the ovum, meet to create a basis for the incarnating of another soul.
We can follow the working of light as the various hormone substances, male and female testosterone and estrogen substances, come about in the respective gonads. We can imagine how light brings about the forms we have in the chemical structures, the configurational structures, of these two hormones. I would like to suggest that it is the working of light that brings about the configurational change (male), but it is the life that actually is the basis for this activity (female). The endocrine function of the two gonads is very much connected with life, but the light works in such a way that there is a differentiation in the final structured substance. We might talk at great length in order to unfold this differential aspect of this working of light in the production of the hormonal substances of male and female. An effort to begin this has already been undertaken in the case of the corticosteroids.
I would now like to skip to the spider, which, it seems to me, is well to be considered in relationship to the reproductory processes of both male and female, but perhaps more so in the case of the female. In order to do this, let us start out again with the whole domain of the insect. The spider is of the animal group called the arachnida. By some, the spider is still placed in the insect group. What I think is important is that we can consider all the insects, the arachnida, and the scorpion as part of the phyllum Arthropoda. This means that all these animals have articulating jointed extremities. They have exoskeletons, have segmented somites, a coelom, are symmetrical, and have an oral-anal configuration. The insects that we have been considering are of the group Brachiata. I would like to focus on this aspect of the Brachiata for a moment. All of the insects we have discussed so far, be it the butterfly, bee, etc., all belong to the group that have the possibility of relating to air. This means that they have bronchia, they have a trachea, and they have air passage configurations. What I would like to suggest is that all of these air passage configurations develop out of the branchial-gill arches. In man, the branchial-gill arches are very much connected with the unfolding of the neck, the larynx, the thyroid, the heart, and the pulmonary system. In other words, what we are dealing with here is a group of animals that have something of the whole respiratory-metabolic-circulatory process that finds its counterpart in the human being in the region of the breathing and the neck configuration. What is important in man is that many processes have fallen out of the region of the neck and chest. These processes have fallen into the reproductory-endocrine processes of the abdominal region. The human neck and chest region is a signature of the working of light in the insect. This light working has in man constituted the gland-endocrine system. These animals do not fall into a purely reproductive-metabolic sphere, but remain in relation to the breathing circulation of the human vascular system. Important to consider is that man has this branchial gill-arch system. It is present in embryo. What unfolds out of the arch system is, on the one side, connected with the birds and mammals–the lion, bull, and eagle, and on the other side, with the insect. The higher organs of the chest are connected with the mammals and birds, the endocrine organs with the insects.
If we follow on with the insects, we have insects which are more light related and those that are less light related. We have spoken of the butterfly and bee in relation to light, while we have related the firefly and bumblebee to darkness. The ant we have related to the earth and darkness, the spider to earth and light. We have yet to take up the scorpion, and will now come to deal with the spider.
If we focus on the honey bee as a fulcrum, we see that the honey bee is an entity with a chitinous skeleton. It has a metameric makeup, it has the usual animal inner organ makeup, it has the ommatidia, and it has transparent wings. The bee consumes plant substance, which it makes over into honey, it produces wax, and it has a poisonous sting substance. If we ascend from the bee to the butterfly, we note that there is no sting, there is no wax formed, there is no colony as with the bee, but there is a formation of the wing colors and the scales on the wing. The butterfly has no capacity to produce a poison. If we now descend from the bee to the ant, we have a typical insect that generally has no wings. It produces no honey and no wax. The wax formation is transformed into work activity forming colony possibilities within the earth or of the earth. Poisonous substances are continually secreted into the earth itself. We might think that the ant continually stings
the earth to keep it living, with a soul quality.
If we look at the firefly, we have a wing-cased being, a coleoptera. This is an insect, which now does not live in the light as is the case with the bee and the butterfly, but more in the darkness as in the case of the ant. This insect does not form colonies as the bee and the ant. It lives much more in a solitary fashion, living in the warmth of the summer but carrying on many of its activities in the night and in the darkness. We do not have honey produced, we do not have a wax produced, and we do not have any poison produced. What we do, however, have is a production of light. If we follow from the butterfly, the bee, and the ant, to the firefly, we have a kind of falling out of light into a darkness with the production of a chemical light process. In the bumblebee we have gone further, indicating that we have an insect which is a solitary living being, lives a short period, has an exoskeleton, and has a kind of fur on the skeleton as well. It is a kind of an earthly astral being that appears in this insect group. Here forces of light are used for honey production as well as poison production.
If we now go over to the spider, which I would like to connect with the genital reproductory process both male and female, we can again look at its makeup in relationship to the insect. It has the chitinous skeleton. It is actually segmented, but confluences are formed so that the spider has a cephalic and an abdominal polarity. The segments of the insect world are twofolded so that we can see a fore and an aft.
The segmentation is not apparent in the structure of the body but appears in the legs. The being of the spider shows the cosmic-planetary relationship in the legs. Each leg becomes sevenfold. The limbs, normally of earth, turn to the planetary workings. The spider does not have wings, but rather spins a web. We can say the web is a wing structure implanted in the plant kingdom, in the mineral kingdom on the earth. The web is an extension of the limbs. The legs, sevenfold in segmentation, have the web as its extension. The spider’s web becomes a wonderful manifestation of radial and circular configurations, as if we were dealing with star radiations and planetary movement processes. We can say that the script of movement, the production of silk of the spider, is an amazing expression of its cosmicness immediately attached to the earth and plant structures. In this animal, a further expression of the fall out of light, though still a product of light, is the disappearance of the antenna.
A most interesting aspect of the spider is the creation of poison. Now, it is not the sting as in the case of the bee, the bumblebee, and the ant that is in question. The poison has invaded the anterior end of the insect. The insect prey, always animal, is injected with the poison. A digestive process occurs with the poison. The injection of the foreign proteinaceous substance into the prey occurs within the spider web. Then the prey is encased within a garment of silk. After the prey is digested, it is then taken in, in fluid form. Remarkable and astonishing is that the spider consumes no solid substance. Everything is predigested and is liquid. The poison gland in the head has a muscle that presses the poison into the prey so that digestion can occur outside the spider in the domain of light, air, and warmth. The cosmos does the digestion.
Many of the insects spin a cocoon and create an encased pupal stage. The spider spins its web and then a cocoon around its prey as it is being digested. The spider also lays eggs in the web and encases them in a silken cocoon. Then, in the warmth, light, and air, the egg develops. The egg develops into an embryo and hatches out of the womb web of secreted light. The unfolding of the spider is not that of the four stages of the true insect. There is an imperfect insect development. One has the egg formation that is placed in the cocoon, the silk womb, from the outset. A wormlike larval stage does not appear. This phase occurs within the cocoon as well as the phase of the pupa. Out of the cocoon pupa stage emerges the spider. This is at variance with the usual insect development. Here one has an imperfect development. It is as if this being has an etheric but mostly an astral working. We here are dealing now not so much with the etheric but a very lofty astral activity. The spider is full of an astral working to the point that almost all of the activities are connected with a kind of poison production. This type of development, it seems to me, places this animal in the sphere where the creative impulses act out of the very depth of existence. We can hardly speak of an etheric realm. We have to speak of a rather profound astral realm, where impulses are brought over directly into the physical. This is commensurate with the picture of an animal that catches its prey, another astral being (with some etheric plant substance), and produces poison that dissolves the the preyed-on animal, which is is dissolved with the same forces that produce poisons on a plant. The spider produces poison and a proteinaceous silk element that is laid into the domain of nature on the mineral or plant. Its essential nature points to the heavens and the domain of the stars, where death holds the upper hand.
With this image of the spider, it seems to me, we have something of a similar picture when we consider the effect of the spermatazoa on the ovum. The sperm carries this immense astral element when it arrives. Its prey, the ovum, dissolves. This begins the possibility of a transformation that will admit of an even more lofty impulse than is attained when the spider takes hold of its prey. In the case of the human being, it is the sperm that enters into the ovum, a proteinaceous substance, to create a kind of chaos. The sperm is almost like a poisonous digestive substance. The ovum is digested so that the zodiacal and star world can actually enter into relationship with the impregnated ovum.
It is in this way that we might think of the arachnida, the spider, living out of a tremendous depth of astral spiritual existence. The spider works into the greatest depths of earthly materiality and substance. The spider brings about a condition in which form, configuration, and new being can come into existence. This imprint of form and being, it seems to me, is well expressed in the spider web, which contains the eggs wrapped in silvery white webbing, the silk of the spider. Here we have a perfect expression of the light that has become form, and the substance of the egg which becomes new being.
Part VIII Light Metabolism
In our previous considerations, we have been following the development of the reproductory and gonadic structures in relationship to the lower abdominal makeup of the human being. We have indicated that in order to understand light metabolism and its relationship to this domain, we would have considered how light has to work to create, in nature, the animal structures, particularly the insects (this includes the arachnada and the scorpion). We have yet to discuss the role of the scorpion in relation to the reproductory tract.
If we would now look to the unfolding that is connected with the thoracic structure of man, we begin to ascend in man’s configuration.
We can begin to discuss structures that sit on top of the diaphragm. Most of the previous structures we considered lay below the diaphragm in the pelvis, and, in the case of the male generative organs, the structures lie below the pelvic region. The unfolding of the human thoracic structure is a very interesting one. It is detailed fairly carefully in the Egyptian Myths, where Rudolf Steiner discusses the gradual changing relationships between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. If we go back to this time of existence, this time of evolution of the Earth’s history, we might get a little more firm foundation for what we now want to consider.
Let us begin with Earth evolution. First we have the Polarian period of development, a kind of mirror image of Saturn evolution. Next is the Hyperborean period of evolution, which is a mirror or reflection of cosmic Sun evolutionary period. The third phase is the Lemurian period, a mirror reflection of the Moon evolution. The Atlantean period is the time when Earth evolution actually begins. If we look to Polaria, we have the Earth mirror of Saturn, best described as a unity. Everything that today surrounds the earth out to the sphere of Saturn, was then contained within the Earth. The Earth was, in fact, this huge structure. During the Hyperborean period, we have a development that produces a twofoldness. We have a duality. We have the Sun exiting, and we have the Earth remaining with the Moon. It is high and lofty Elohim beings that bring about evolution connected with the extraction of the sun from the earth. Remaining with the Earth is the Jehovah Elohim Being, who tends what is to occur in regard to human evolution so that Earth can find its proper relationship with man. At the time of Hyperborea, the human higher membering (ego and astral) and his ether body are very much connected with the lofty, higher spiritual domain. This is only slightly touched by the warmth substance of the earth. With the exit of the Sun, we have a kind of earth-warmth, with light ether unfoldment. On the Earth we have a kind of circulatory-warmth condition. Above the Earth weaves light. A polarity is established between light and warmth. Spiritual Beings weave in both. It is the Jehovah Elohim who is active in the warmth. Slowly out of this warmth an airy state develops and then, with the earth-moon, a watery condition evolves. With the earth-moon liquid-warmth state, extremely base conditions, with fallen spiritual beings, develop. In this earth-water there is an unfolding of fish, the amphibians, and the beginning of the reptile development. The Jehovah Elohim weaves into this base element, forming the lower pelvis and limb nature of man. It is into this that the Jehovah Being works so that the potential of a higher human form appears. It is in the third period, that of Lemuria, that this lower configuration of man, with his feet, legs, and pelvis, is drawn closer to the earth, while above it swims, in light, a delicate light-head configuration. This light-head configuration is like the light weaving into an earth-blossom-leaf form, a chalice with a blossom. The next step in Lemuria is that the Jehovah Elohim withdraws the dross Moon elements. This results in the very coarse elements, which are playing into the lower animals and the human limb structure, being drawn away so that the animals can begin to establish themselves within the earth. At the same time, a definite sphere is established between the earth and the Moon. It is in this interrelationship that the Jehovah Being is working. We have to see the Archangel Michael working as well, in all of these processes. As the Moon exits, what has fallen out into the depths of the earth is raised so that the human configuration of the pelvis and the limb structures are not quite so animal and dense. The flower form with the light element within it also metamorphoses so that some of the flower form becomes connected to the digestive organs, but into the upper reaches of the light-form the beginning of a breathing process occurs. There develops a separation between the airy and the watery states. What is in the airy domain tends to develop above the diaphragm. The abdominal organs evolve more in the watery sphere. A kind of atmospheric man evolves with the thoracic organs configured in the air and the abdominal organs in the water. The solid earth process calls forth the lower limb. What was a kind of a light-form weaving in the blossom in Hyperborea, in Lemuria, becomes a kind of a sunlike round head form. Below the light-head appears the movement of the airy element forming the chest and respiratory organ, the lung. Into the light-form that configures the head, a metabolic activity streams out of the earth and up into the head. At the same time there is a continual falling away and a pressing away of the life that rises upward, so that the head which lies above the chest region does not contain too much in the way of life. It is the working of a higher animal-astral activity that holds back the life and organismic structuring of the region above the diaphragm.
It is in the weaving of light, the activities of the Sun in relationship to the Earth, and then the activities of the Moon, that we have the gradual division of thoracic and abdominal spaces. Lung-breathing activities are established above the diaphragm. The present relationship between the sun, moon, and earth come into existence. The pressing away of the life element in the thoracic region permits sun forces with life, light, and warmth to enter into the region. This permits the breathing process to be instilled. It is in the breathing-breath process that the human soul being can then be incorporated into the structure that we have just described. My suggestion is to consider the sphere between the sun and earth, with the original exit of the sun, as a sphere in which Osiris, the original Osiris, wills and works. Elohim Beings are busy creating this sphere. The lower region of the earth-moon that contains the dross is very much configured by the Being of Jehovah. It is this task that Michael serves. With the gradual evolution of the human configuration so that he develops an abdominal and a chest differentiation, I would like to suggest that we see the Archangel Michael busily at work. He serves the being of Jehovah to gradually press away the lower dross elements from man, permitting a lower configuration to develop, and then, as gradually the Moon establishes a specific region in relationship to the Sun and the Earth, Michael begins to work strongly to permit the breathing process to come into existence. With the creation of the breathing process, Isis is born out of the original Osiris. The Typhonic death process enters into life so that the soul of man can enter into the breathing process directly. Osiris then is reborn in relation to Jehovah in the sphere established between Moon and Earth. I am inclined to see Michael busy here. The breath is developed during the later Lemurian, early Atlantean time. Michael, working with the Jehovah Elohim, permits the dross to fall away and permits the birth of Isis out of original Osiris-sun-Elohim activities. Isis is born of the Original Osiris, as Michael works with the Jehovah Elohim, while Typhonic astral forces come into existence from the astral cosmos. Osiris is then reborn of Isis in the region of the working of Moon and Earth. Michael carries the new Osiris working up into the region of the upper chest to establish the larynx as a male principle. I would like to imagine Michael at work with the Jehovah Elohim, bringing forth a new Osiris working in the region of the larynx, which is at this time a cosmic activity.
The Typhon activity that slays the original sun-Osiris life is brought about by the astral workings of the archetypal beings who work from the highest starry heavens. They are often expressed as the lion, bull, eagle, and man. It is these Beings, which are very close to the soul of man, which work to create the organic structures of the chest region. The lion, bull, and eagle forces work for the birth of man with the human soul. We can say that the lion forces work into the creation of the heart. We can say that the eagle forces are at work in the creation of the lung. I like to consider that the thymus and larynx are created in connection with the forces of the bull. It is in man with his actual speech organization that we can picture the working together of the three beasts: the lion, eagle, and bull in the creation of the lung, heart, and thymus-larynx.
What we are now describing, then, is the gradual working together of these astral archetypal animal beings with man. These astral-beasts are very close to man and must serve man in order that he can become manifest in the word, in the speech process. The Being of Typhon, or we can say the astral elements that are connected with the workings of these three animals, so serve and transform life in such a way that the human soul can be born as a living soul and then gradually as a waking soul in speech. This follows the gradual erection of the lower limb forms. All of this that we have described has to be considered as connected with the working of the Elohim, as well as the Archangel Michael.
Now let us begin to look at some of the thoracic structures, or just begin with the configuration of the thorax. If we look at the thorax from the front, and open the chest wall, for the most part we perceive only lung. It is the lung that fills most of the thoracic space. As we said before, behind the lung there is only a potential space. We can call it the potential retropleural space. It is here that we have the primordial excretory, gonadal, and endocrine structures that fall away with embryological development. We can consider that the forces at work in this region are freed to be used for other purposes, namely, soul life. This is the first set of forces that are not used in the chest and are liberated from organic activity.
Again, let us look at man from the front. If we peel away his chest wall, we again see the lung filling the spaces. The potential space behind the lung has been eliminated because its constituents have fallen away. Now, if we focus on what we can see from the front again, we see a little bit of a heart in a triangular area almost sitting in the middle of the lung on top of the diaphragm. In the case of the child, we would see the thymus gland lying on top of the heart. If we remove the thymus and the heart, we would see the esophagus with some nerves and some small lymph nodes filling a space behind the heart. This space, which contains the thymus in front, the heart in the middle, and the esophagus and the nerve behind, is called the mediastinum. We have the anterior mediastinum, the middle mediastinum, and the posterior mediastinum. We can say, to the right and left of the mediastinum is the lung. The thymus gland, which constitutes the organ in the anterior mediastinum, gradually shrinks away after reaching its maximum size in pubescence. Slowly over a period of years, the thymus shrinks away to become two relatively small lobated structures in this anterior chest region. So the thymus shrinks away in the anterior mediastinum, just as we saw the mesonephric and the urogenital ridge structures shrinking away from the retropleural space during the embryonic period. From this, we can have the impression of a continuous dying away in the region of the chest. I take it this corresponds with the myth of the Egyptian period, where Typhon, the whole breathing process, the whole astral animal process connected with the human soul, entered into this region to press back life and organ growth.
Now, if we continue to look at the individual structures that we have spoken to–the lung, the heart, the thymus, and the larynx, we have some further interesting observations to make.
If we first look at the lung, we notice that it is an outgrowth of the intestinal canal. It grows as a gland out of the intestinal canal, and begins to fill out the chest region. The whole vascular system enters into the lung-gland structure like the gill arch systems that we find in the lower animal. It is only the middle gill arch system that constitutes the main vascular structures in adult life. The first gill arches generally fall away with their vascular structures constituting the neck. The lower gill arches fall away all together, permitting the vasculature to merge into the pulmonary-lung system, as the lung unfolds from gland to an airy-delicate organ structure. As the lung-gland unfolds from the intestinal canal, and is penetrated by the vascular system, it gradually begins to lose its connection with the intestinal canal. A tube begins to ascend towards the pharyngeal area of the embryo, developing the tracheobronchial system–we can say, a kind of a treelike structure. An airy breathing structure develops, producing a kind of a pulmonary tree structure within the gland organ that slowly begins to lose its life. The tracheobronchial tree then begins to unfold. At its upper end, or its anterior end, the organ that becomes the larynx begins to appear. Slowly the death element enters the lung so that lung tissue is no longer glandular. The lung becomes emptied of fluids that enter and flow in and out of the lung through the tracheobronchial tree. Slowly the bronchial tree begins to develop cartilaginous structures, and at the pharyngeal end of the embryo we have the unfolding of the larynx. The larynx is largely a cartilaginous structure. Only one bone of the larynx becomes calcified. Thus we have a retaining of a kind of an early living state in the whole tracheobronchial tree and even in the larynx, except for the single bone (the hyoid bone), even if a death impulse works into the whole respiratory organism. This rounded, at first glandular structure of the lung, we can say is a kind of an Isis creation. As the more physical, cartilaginous element unfolds, a kind of an Osiris gesture makes its appearance. The elongate trachea, with the almost pelvic-like structure of the larynx, bespeaks something more of a masculine or male principle, particularly if one places the tongue hanging over the brim of the trachea. It is almost as if one is looking at the pelvic structure, with the male genitalia sticking out having a corresponding configuration in the tongue. From Rudolf Steiner, we have the indication and the suggestion also that we have a masculine element in the larynx and tracheal tree, which is associated more with the female, Isis element of the unfolding lung. The lung dies away giving up life, going from an Osiris condition to an Isis one. The male element reasserts itself producing the larynx. The tracheal-larynx-tongue configuration is a masculine impulse. It is less rounded than the lung structure. The masculine impulse brings more bulk, such as the cartilages and the larynx itself, if compared with the lung. As we said before, if we look in the mouth, eustachian tubes, and ears, we have a mirror of the configuration we can see in the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ostia with the fimbria. So we can see a female impulse that rises out of the lungs and the breath, rising into the pharyngeal area. The larynx furnishes a kind of male impulse so that one can always and continually have a birth process in the aural-pharyngeal-nasal area of man. This is where a continual impregnation and birth process is occurring as a kind of an etheric structure in the activities of speech. What rises from the lungs through the tracheobronchial tree and through the larynx, is a male impulse which then is received by the female configuration in the pharynx and eustachian tube. In the act of speaking, there is a continual birth process occurring with that which is fecund or is appropriately impregnated so that a birth process can occur in speech. Again, what is important is to see how the organ that develops as a bud from the life tree of the intestinal tract dies away. In the death process, we have the development of the tracheobronchial tree, a less living structure than the original living gland. And finally, we can see the development of the larynx, which passes from life and gland to cartilage and finally creates a single bone. We can say that all this is still living, but much has died away.
In this unfolding, again we have the counterpart of what we saw in the retropleural space. There we have the total elimination of structures of the mesonephros and the urogenital ridge. In the case of the lung, we have a dying-away process that again permits an exchange and birth process to occur into the circumstance where life has been pressed back. There is a dying-away process of the liquids and cellular material that originally constituted the gland of the lung bud. Here the soul and consciousness can be incarnated. If one takes the lung out with the trachea, and the larynx with the tongue, and looks at them from the side, it is possible to image a bird with wings, a long neck, a bit of a head, and a beak. This bird is a mirror imaginative picture of the whole lung-tracheal-larynx and lingual system. I would like to suggest that we see the working of an eagle-like entity in the construction of this organ-complex. The cosmic eagle entity is at work here, permitting a structure to be born, to be light-filled, and to die away, again so that man can be born as a soul. It is in the weaving of light, forming these structures, that the soul can be breathed into man. In speech, man can out of this sphere recreate himself. Eagle forces are at work here.
If we now look to the heart structure in the middle mediastinum, we again can contemplate an organ that somewhat dies away. We can come to this view by considering the pericardial sinus which originates first in the cephalic end of the embryo and then ducks down into the chest. The sinus creates a space for the living fluids of life, the circulatory-circulating fluids, to accumulate. It is in this pericardial cavity that these living fluids gradually die away. Out of the living fluids, the heart structure, which is largely muscle, forms. The heart is made up of striated musculature. This muscle also resembles smooth musculature. Further, the heart muscle on the one side can be transformed into the nerve, as we see in the Purkinje system. On the other side, a kind of a glandular organ forms, which today has been found with some endocrine functioning in the auricles of the atria. The muscle elements that develop out of the living fluids in the pericardial sac have little life. When injured, they die away. They can not regenerate. The nerve element, of course, does not regenerate, and finally the glandular element of the auricles of the heart are hardly to be noted as true living gland organ. All of this bespeaks an organ that has fallen away from the original, living life fluid that flowed through the pericardial cavity in the early embryonic life. All has somewhat died away.
The living prototype of the heart structure that retains immense life can be seen in the placenta, which is part of the uterine structure during the time of pregnancy and during the time of embryonic development. The real muscle impulse in the fetal circulation lies within the uterus and the uterine placental activity. This impulse works via the fluids and into the pericardial cavity where the strucuring of the heart takes place. This forming of muscle out of the living fluid and blood is a dying process. What is all alive and active in the uterus and the placenta, dies away in the heart. Forces of life are withdrawn for the birth of the soul. The impulse of death in the living fluid comes out of an astral cosmic zodiacal lion process. It is a lion process that has a relationship of man.
In a very imaginative way, we can visualize the lesser circulation that comes out of the adult heart and goes up to the head. If we now look at the lion and turn the heart with the circulation upside down, the heart can appear like the lion’s head and the lesser circulation like the lion’s collar of fur. The lesser circulation can be imagined as the collar, with the lion’s head and mouth as a heart. The lion has his heart in his mouth. The greater circulation extends anteriorly in the case of the lion, already encompassing the nearby victim before the lion has even approached the victim physically. The lion’s head and senses can be visualized as the major circulation. The lion is all heart and circulation. This imaginative construct of the circulatory-heart of the lion points to the lionlike influence that is at work in the cosmos and, in man, is at work in the structuring of the heart. These lion forces structure the human heart so that heart forces remain for the soul and are not completely used in structuring the physical organ of the heart. When heart and soul forces work totally to structure an organism, the lion is the result. The working of man with the lion forces results in an organic structure, the heart, where all forces are not used up for the organism alone. Therefore, man belongs to the lion, bull, and eagle.
The image we can have is that of the lung dying away through the workings of the astral forces connected with the eagle and man. The heart, in a way, dies away from its first amazing lifeful entity in very early embryonic life, through the forces and activities of the lion and man.
If we now look at the thymus gland, we are looking at another outgrowth of the enteric tract of the embryo. It forms in very early embryonic life, extending from the region of the trachea, near where the thyroid gland also arises. It gradually extends and fills a significant volume of the human thorax. At the outset, it is decidedly glandular, but gradually loses this glandular outpouching structure to develop a much more lymph node-like configuration. The structural tissues appear to be endodermic in origin. The cellular structure that fills the spaces is much more lymphoid in origin. Either the lymph cells develop as a metamorphosis of the pure glandular element, or they actually enter the thymus gland during the course of embryological development. The gland is noted to be able to produce red blood cells and other blood cell components very early in life. Gradually the thymus comes to be constituted of lymphoid tissue. Very interestingly, the mature gland contains what is called Hassall bodies. These are rounded concentric structures with some lymphoid tissue in them, some vascular structures, cyst formations, and, at times, calcium deposits. The Hassall bodies are distributed throughout the thymus gland, which is made up of various lobules. There are two major lobes, but they are broken down into lobules. The lobules have a cortex, which is full of lymphocytes, and the medulla, which is made up of much more supportive tissue, vascular tissue, and the Hassall bodies. In the thymus we have something of a mirror image of the spleen. Instead of having the germinal centers and very lively vascular medulla constructs of the spleen, we have in this organ medullary tissue which is much less alive.
If we look at the size of the gland, we will see that it is quite a large gland embryologically and in early life. It grows larger and reaches its maximum size in the prepubertal period. As puberty arises, it begins to shrink away, as the other glandular elements, endocrine glands in particular, begin to unfold. The thymus itself begins to shrink. In adulthood, the gland can shrink to a half, third, or quarter of the size it was at the time of early pubescence.
Here again, with the thymus, we have a falling away of life. We have the tremendous life of the thymus gland falling away. Life is liberated. The life of the gland is held back, and life forces are liberated for the soul. Another aspect of soul life (intellectual soul) can unfold. I would like to consider that it is the cow or bull force system working with man that holds the life of the gland in check.
Cosmic bull or cow forces at work in man embryologically bring forth the restrained life of the thymus. The forces that constitute the thymus and the intellectual soul, if they were at work constituting an organism, would produce a cow. One has not only to think of the cow and bull with their earthly weight, but the finer life process liberated in the creation of milk and the reproductive forces in the bull. Thymic activity I would think is the fine life activity of the cow and bull, while the heavier and weightier activities contain force systems which help constitute the larynx. (Listen to the moo of a cow or the bellow of the bull.) The light forces of the cow and bull work as well to support the soul so that soul-life element can be active, particularly in speech. This is a tremendous transformation of life into soul-life. This permits the forces of life to rise in an upward direction, making nearly everything in the thoracic region ascend towards the head. This is an ascent of the substantiality and the life in the thoracic region up into the realms where the spirit holds sway, in the head. The force systems of Taurus are at work in the thymus-larynx and have to serve the archetype of Man.
What we have contemplated here is how the lion, bull, and eagle, as cosmic zodiacal astral beings, work formatively in conjunction with man in the breathing chest region to bring about the four constructs that we have discussed. We have considered the falling away of life and reproductory life out of the chest. We have imaged four organs that serve the soul of man. As in the region below the diaphragm we find the sentient soul, the sentient body unfolding, here in this supradiaphragmatic region we see the rational soul, the intellectual soul unfolding. Here we can speak of the Gemutsseele unfolding–the reasoning soul that then can ascend to a spirituality that lives in the head. We might consider that it is for this reason that forces are freed for recreative activity that is present in speech. The rational soul, the intellectual-soul, the Gemutsseele that lives in the region of the thoracic cavity, of which the Greeks spoke, is very important. This is the whole region where social process can occur. It is just this region in which we see the bull forces at work, where there is a transformation of the larynx in the male with the change of voice at the time of pubescence. In the case of the girl, it is more the cow at work, the female element at work, bringing forth the glandular tissue in the unfolding of the breast. In both cases, we see not just the reproductory processes, but we see a nourishing and a creative process unfolding. This creativeness and nourishment are of a considerable lofty domain, for the sake of humanity who is nourished with milk and who needs to be nourished by the creative word.
All of these structures that lie above the diaphragm are connected with the weaving and working of light. Perhaps we can say that it is not only formative light principles at work here, but that there is also a light principle involved that permits the human soul to begin to function slightly more consciously. Soul-life can be present where there is life, but the life is dampened, is held back by the Typhonic process (human astral-animal activity) that permits the birth of the human soul. In considering the chest region, we can look out to the rather large animal structures that we think are so very earthly, but in fact we have to look to their inner workings. We can see that they are very much the constructs of light that have been hidden in the darkness of animal flesh. In the case of our insects, we see the light that is manifest in the dark, in the forms. Insect life is quite distant from our soul. We hardly find a relationship with them. As we feel a relationship with the lion, bull, and eagle, we might consider that we, in this feeling, evidence something of what is at play in the soul in relation to the organs of our thoracic cavity. I wonder if our interest in having a bird in our house, a cat or a dog, grows out of this feeling. The lion, bull, and eagle we might see reflected in these pets that we often keep at our side. As we live and weave in the light process, in the pulsing-breathing process, it may be that we can find companionship with these animals in a way that we do not in the case of the lower animals, the insects and the lower vertebrates.
We might consider that by looking at the animal kingdom in this way–that is, in relationship to the human being and to the weaving of light, we might begin to embark on a new path that permits us to find our way into the cosmos. We might establish once more a relationship with the starry world where the very animal working within us, the astral workings, can be sensed streaming from the stars about us in the heavens.
Part IX Light Metabolism
In our last considerations, we have tried to sketch the gradual arising of the abdominal limb system and then the respiratory system. We can image that the thoracic, abdominal, and limb systems have arisen out of (fallen out of) the cosmic head. The fall occurred during Polaria, Hyperboria, and Lemuria. Man, we might say, was originally all head, all cosmos: all was within spiritual beingness. Out of this sank the lower system of man, the abdominal limb system (with the chest included). Slowly the rhythmic-respiratory system (the thorax or chest) had to be raised out of the abdominal-limb system–later in Lemuria. We have tried to detail this. We have indicated how out of the chest region of man, the whole urogenital ridge has disappeared. The lung system bespeaks the death of the liver organ gland. The lung is raised by light out of the liver. The thymus, as a gland, dies away. We can see that the heart ascends into the chest region. It is a derivative of impulses from both the head and the posterior portion, embryologically speaking–that is, from the placenta. We have a chest that in the back is made up of bone, muscle, and nerve. There is a digestive tube which goes through the posterior mediastinum. The heart lies in the middle mediastinum and the thymus in the anterior mediastinum. The thymus essentially shrinks away, and the esophagus becomes an insignificant tube so that the life of the posterior and anterior mediastinum can be used for other faculties, for other activities. The life from the anterior and posterior mediastinum can be used for an ascending process of the soul. The heart remains as an organ concentrated in the chest. The heart is the result of polaric activities, but is placed in a domain where several physical organ structures have largely disappeared. All that we have in front of the heart is a space created by the vanishing thymus. In back of the heart is a space that has the esophageal tube passing through it. The remainder of the thoracic cavity is occupied by the lung, which in itself is largely minute air spaces delineated by vasculature. The lung is full of minute “air spaces,” the lobules and the alveoli.
Now we will focus on this makeup of the thoracic cavity. The bone, muscle, and nerve are located posteriorly. Then comes the retropleural space, from which organs have been evacuated. This is followed by the posterior mediastinum, which is largely evacuated, the middle mediastinum with the heart in it, and the anterior mediastinum, also evacuated. We can see that the thoracic makeup is full of so-called potential (etheric) spaces. Organs have disappeared.
We have the potential for the working of life and life activities of organs which are no longer present. The urogenital ridge has disappeared. The force systems of the abdomen have taken up these structures and produced the kidney and the gonadal structures, as well as some of the reproductory structures of male and female. In the case of the thymus, a diffuse activity results from the disappearance of the thymus. The general lymph gland tissue becomes more type-specific, we can say, where there is a diffuse working from the thymus. The etheric thymus produces much more a type-specific cellular material known as T cells, which today we consider to be related to the immunological imprint of the individual. I would like to suggest that this is an expression on an organic level, on the physical level of intellectual-soul activity. This gives every person an individual script in the metabolic activities of the lymph system. However, we can still consider that much of the life from the thymus is freed and can still be made use of by the human soul (Gemut activity). The same can be said for the life that would have developed the urogenital ridge structures in the thorax. We also have the force systems that have been liberated from the esophagus. I would like to suggest that from the involution of these organs, an ascending construct can come about. This construct is a simplistic expression of the metamorphosis of the diverse organ force systems which have disappeared and involuted in the chest. This simple structure we call the neck of man. If we look at the neck of man, we can begin again with muscle, bone and nerve. Next we find the esophagus, the larynx, and then the thyroid. This view of the neck indicates, I would like to suggest, a higher metamorphosis of what is unfolded in the chest through organic involution. This might serve as an interesting way of looking at this structure, the neck.
Let us again look to Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth evolution. Previously we related the sense system to Saturn, the gland system to Sun, and the nerve system to Moon. Here let us not relate the nerve system to Moon evolution, but the metabolic-digestive system. The metabolic-digestive process is an activity just as the gland function is activity and the sense system is activity. Let us follow these activities into the region of the neck: metabolic-Moon activity, gland-Sun activity, and sense-Saturn activity. I would look to the thyroid gland as a mirror of the sun-gland working. The esophagus could be considered as a correlate of Moon-digestive activity. The larynx might be contemplated as a mirror of Saturn-sense activity. These organs are not definitive structures, but they are essentially simple and, in a way, primitive and underdeveloped. Most essential is the activity–the processes and not the structures.
From Rudolf Steiner’s indication, we can look not only to activities and functions that are connected with these evolutions, but to organ structures as well. There are organ structures which are important. There are very definite forms created as a result of these evolutions. A very profound expression of the forming of organs as a result of evolutions has been given by Rudolf Steiner in the cycle entitled The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit (1911-1912. Here he indicates that, from the working of the evolutions as penetrated by Lucifer, we have not just the unfolding of processes (in senses, gland, and digestion), but the formation of basic substances which can then be used by the soul-spirit for outer expression. Rudolf Steiner indicates that we have Luciferic spiritual beings working to create the bone substance out of our circulation (formed during Earth evolution). It is the Spirits of Form, Luciferic Spirits of Form, that are at work to create bone substance. These beings are essential in the Earth evolutionary period. If we go back to the Moon evolutionary period, we find Spirits of Motion who then become Luciferic and bring forth the muscle substance on earth out of the Moon evolutionary activities. If we look to Sun and the spiritual beings of Sun, Spirits of Wisdom who become Luciferic during earth evolution, we see they transform what is gland process into nerve. Therefore, the play of forces that have given rise to bone, muscle, and nerve we can say are the workings of Lucifer. We also have the play, the forces, and the activities of spiritual beings that have given rise to the activities of senses, gland, and digestion where Ahriman now plays his role. All this is active in the neck. In speech, the human spirit-soul can be active. A creative ego process is played out in the recreative process of the word. Life streams out of the chest and up towards the neck. There, with the help of spiritual beings, the human ego can recreate the higher image, inspiration, and intuition of man in speaking .
If we look at the larynx itself, we have the mighty imagination and metamorphosis that has been given by Rudolf Steiner in the lectures for the curative eurythmists. This is a highly complicated metamorphosis. I suspect that it can be done in many, many different ways, and I would like to suggest one way in which this metamorphosis can be considered. If we start with the back of the head, the ear, the occipital bones, perhaps some of the parietal and temporal bone, we can say that some of this system falls down into the chest-shoulder region to form the scapula, the vertebral bodies, and the rib cage. The dense processes as seen in the back of the head, in the occiput, in the parietal and temporal region, particularly in the region where the ear is located, becomes much more delicate as we picture the unfolding and descent of the scapula with arms out of the region of the back of the skull . The ribs become even more refined. The more delicate structures fall out of the back of the head. If we consider the back of the head as formed out of sentient body activity and the front of the head by sentient soul activity, we can then consider that in the chest region there is much less in the way of sentient soul body working, to create the dense structures in the thoracic region. There is much in the way of sentient soul activity refining everything in the region of the chest giving rise to the scapula, arms to hands, and then the finer rib cage.
If we keep this line of thought in relation to the metamorphosis given by Rudolf Steiner, we might envisage how the heaviness of the upper palatal region and the jaw fall out of the skull and into the region of the lower lumbar and sacral area. Finally, we might image the pelvis as the lower region of the skull that has actually dropped out of the head and into the pelvis with the jaws corresponding to the limbs. In this way the region from the temporal bones down, including the jaws, can be imagined as falling out of the region of the head-skull, and being drawn into the region of the pelvis and lower limb. We see no rib structures at all in the anterior abdomen. A few floating ribs are behind. Rudolf Steiner has indicated that the astral body works intensely upward from below, forming, to a certain degree, the dense pelvis and the lower limb system of man. This is commensurate with saying that the astral body and sentient body work from below up and from the fore to the back, creating the lumbosacral vertebral column, the pelvis, and the lower limbs. The sentient soulness is expressed in the abdominal region where there is no bone formation whatsoever. Our bowel region is totally exposed to the outer world without any cartilaginous or bony covering. The whole region around the lower limbs is devoid of substantiality so that the limbs can move. I consider this to be the working of the we have nerve, muscle and bone as actual substantial structures. These are structured entities filled with substance. When these structures are used by man, substances of imagination, inspiration, and intuition are created. It is just this higher substantiality that is important in the activities occurring in the region of the neck when man speaks. The organ, structures of bone, muscle, and nerve are minimal; the higher form of substance is maximal.
If we again look at the neck, the posterior neck, we see that there is muscle substance surrounding the vertebral column. The column is bone. Within the vertebral column, we have nerve substance. These are structures that can be used for soul-spiritual activity in speaking (which makes use of imagination, inspiration, and intuition), in the word process. In the anterior neck, we then have the sense organ of the larynx. (It senses the flow of air and warmth). We have the thyroid gland in front of the larynx. The digestive tube is behind the larynx. The only thing that we have left out in this whole picture is the circulatory process, which remains in movement in the neck and never forms an organ except for the hyoid bone. The vascularity of the neck is considerable, particularly in the thyroid gland. In a way, we can consider the circulatory process as primary, and the bone, muscle, and nerve structures as physical derivations. There is a very lively circulatory activity related with the esophagus, larynx, and thyroid.
What we can come to is a reduction of that which is essentially organic in structure and process. Everything is reduced to a minimum in the region of the neck. We have the available force systems that become available out of the chest system. These freed forces, life forces, can become available out of the chest system. These freed forces, life forces, can be drawn up into the region of the neck. The weaving of light brings about this upward metamorphosis of the neck. This occurs during Lemuria with the activity of the sun after the exit of the moon.
As we know, the neck makes it possible for man to have a head that turns, but also a head that can remain still while the remainder of the body is in movement. We have a neck so that there is a dam between the lower rhythmic-metabolic systems and the head. The head is removed, has been pulled into the light. We can also say that the neck is an area of man where physical activity and substantiality is reduced to a minimum. There are essentially few actual organic structures and organic activities in the neck region. Here it is that a recreative process can occur. The life systems that originally belonged to the urogenital ridge, esophagus, thymus, and lung can be conceived and grow as they pass through the larynx, being born in the act of speech. The child of the heart as well rises. The Spirits of Will give auric form to the birth of speech. This is a rather astonishing contemplation of the whole region in the neck where speech takes place. It is quite commensurate with Rudolf Steiner’s description of the coming about of physical structures through the working of the higher spiritual beings and Lucifer. It is commensurate with Rudolf Steiner’s indications about the senses, the glandular activity, and the digestive activities that also belong to man, which originated with Lucifer and now have fallen into the domain of Ahriman. In our neck region, then, we have
sentient soul. Again, the sentient soul is expressed by the refining process in anterior man, working from back to fore, while the sentient body works from fore backwards creating the much more dense structures (vertebral bodies), pelvis, and large bones of the lower limb. In the chest region we can also see the refining process as is evident with the anterior skull.
If we now look at the region of the neck, it is here that Rudolf Steiner seems to hint that the intellectual soul becomes active. It is here that I would like to consider that the more refined structures of the chest are reduced to even more refined entities. This can be seen in the trachea and in the larynx. I take these structures as a metamorphosis and refinement of the thoracic structures. Rudolf Steiner has given the indication that in the trachea one can see the turning around of the rib cage, making a much more refined structure. The tracheal cartilages can be considered as a metamorphosis, a transformation of the rib cage into cartilage. The rib cage has to be rotated 180 degrees and shrunken. What is the sternum located anteriorly, is located posteriorly in the trachea. What are the ribs passing forward in the rib cage, have to rotate 180 degrees to face backwards and have to shrink to become tracheal cartilages. I like to think that the intellectual-soul, working with forces liberated from life and growth in the chest, can bring about the metamorphic structures of trachea and larynx.
As for the larynx, I would like to image that one rotates the right scapula 180 degrees to form the left thyroid cartilage. The cornu of the thyroid cartilage can be considered as the analogue of the coracoid process of the scapula. The left scapula would then have to be rotated around 180 degrees from the left scapular region to the right thyroid cartilage. The arms and hands can be pictured passing into the middle of the larynx, into the inner structure of the larynx, rotating with the scapulae right to left and left to right. The thyroid cartilage, the cricoid, epiglottic, and arytenoid cartilages can be envisioned as a metamorphosis of the scapula, arms, and hands. The whole domain of the upper extremity would have to be seen as refined etheric structures that project posteriorly in the human being, with only small physical structures present in the larynx. The claviculi could be rotated 180 degrees to become the hyoid bone of the larynx.
Now this is just one aspect of the metamorphosis. I would like to contemplate making it even more complicated. Next can be imaged the upward rotation of the right lower limb to form the left mandible. The lower limb structures (the tibia, fibula, and feet bones) ascend, metamorphosing into the little ossicles, the malleus, incus and stapes of the ear. The left lower limb would then become metamorphosed into the right mandible, with the same lower limb bone structures metamorphosing into the bones of the right ear. The remainder of the pelvic structures are metamorphosed into the vault of the pharynx.
All of the foregoing metamorphoses are refinements of all of the limb structures involved. The structures of the larynx, pharynx, and ear are all embedded in a sea of etheric forces where forces have not been used for growth and complete ossification. The result of this contemplation and metamorphic meditation is that we then have a whole limb system protruding posteriorly around the region of the neck. We have man as a totally articulated ether being in this region. We can consider that in the actual speech organs, the whole of man is metamorphosed, and the speech activity is bound up with this etheric man.
The one other component to be considered is the indication from Rudolf Steiner that the brain sinks, descends into the region of the thyroid gland, and that the thyroid gland is a metamorphosis of the anterior brain system. With this, the whole man is metamorphosed into the region where there is the least evidence of anything that is really the human. The neck, as a little column, is the region of the unmanifest, of the etherically active human being.
Another way of looking at this is to see a column of air rising from the lung into the pharyngeal area. The larynx lives and senses–walks–on this column of air. The trachea with the larynx is like a male organ construct with the column of air rising into the female receptive organ of the pharynx. The larynx is a sense organ. Also, air begins to form the column of air that passes through. Pictures of air movements and vortices look like little embryos. In the pharynx and remainder of the oral cavity with teeth and lips, the conceptus of this region is spoken into the world. There is a uniting of male and female components with a childbirth process in the speaking itself. This is quite commensurate with the indications given by Rudolf Steiner that Isis can be related to the lung, Osiris to the larynx, and Horus to the heart. When the heart is evident in the word, then Horus is born on the outstreaming, spoken word. The basis of our discussions here, our descriptions, then become the mysteries, the secrets as they are unveiled in the Osiris-Isis Myths. This whole process, as Rudolf Steiner has articulated it, came into existence in Lemuria. It is here that man goes from a being of silence to a being who can then recreate himself in the outer word. Speech comes forth and is redeemed in the process as recreative activity is raised out of darkness and into the light.
Located in the region of the larynx as already noted is not only the thyroid, but also the parathyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a gland that is a derivative of the intestinal tract. Embryologically, it arises from the intestinal tract and develops as an extension of the intestinal tract, now not like the lung or the liver, but as a metamorphosis of the digestive organ into a gland organ structure. Therefore the thyroid can be considered an extension of the digestive
tube into the domain of an endocrine organ. This organ has to serve the light processes of man. The thyroid is not completely a gland or lymph gland nor is it a typical organ, as, for example, the brain. There are lymph structures as well, in the thyroid, as secretory components typical of secreting glands. This gland is just in front of the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple).
The parathyroid gland is actually four little glands set into the thyroid gland, which is bilobate or two-lobed. The parathyroid gland is a derivative of the pharyngeal pouch system and is not completely of the same origin as the digestive gland. Respiratory-circulatory impulses are at work in the pouches. The parathyroid structures are carefully hidden in the thyroid gland. The parathyroid is more connected with the breathing process, we can say, with the gill arch system evidenced in the fish and respiratory unfolding. This is all connected with the branchial pouch, branchial arch system, or the gill arch system, which brings the breathing astral activity into relation with digestion and metabolism. The thyroid is more with the digestive-metabolic system. The parathyroid is more with the breathing system. (The dual origin of the pituitary may well be evidenced here.)
With these two embryologically different organs, I would like to carry the thought further. The thyroid gland is connected with a breathing system so that the digestive-metabolic processes retain a relation with the respiratory process. Metabolic processes need to be shot through with breathing processes as in the case of oxidative activities (aerobic metabolism). This results in a certain breathing metabolic activity that streams throughout the whole organism in a way very similar to the thymus activities penetrating the whole lymph system. The breathing process that streams out of the thyroid as a result of the thyroid secretions into the blood, results in a kind of light breathing system in the whole metabolic organism so the whole organism can become the bearer of a certain conscious working. When the thyroid does not function, man develops a kind of slowed-metabolic-degenerative process. The picture of myxedema emerges in the hypothyroid. Cretinism is an illness where the vegetative system is aging rapidly. It occurs in early life when the thyroid is not secreting into the blood (an ego light process) while the metabolic processes are not transformed for the sake of intelligence (soul light process).
If we now look to the parathyroid gland, we have a gland that is connected much more concentratedly with the activity of the bone system. With inadequacy of the parathyroid gland secretions, we have the bone that does not continue its flux, which is a kind of respiratory metabolic activity with precipitation and absorption. There is a problem with a certain density setting into the bone, with a lack of breathing in bone process as the result. With hyperparathyroidism, overactivity, we have the secretional process of the parathyroid hormone substance into the blood, a gradual thinning of the bone, and excretion of phosphorus in the urine. At the same time, the whole phosphorus activity in the body comes into disorder. The phosphorus process, which is connected with calcium (producing bone), with the movement activities (muscle system), and with the formation of myelin substances in the nerve region, all of this can be affected when there are problems with the parathyroid gland. The picture we have here is that the actual solid structure of the nerve, muscle, and bone is all affected by the working of the parathyroid gland. Secretion of parathyroid substance into the blood results in a respiratory-metabolic activity in these systems. A lack of activity in the gland results in a certain degeneration in the activities of the nerve, muscle, and bone systems of man.
In order to contemplate this from a nature standpoint, I would like to suggest that we think of the thyroid in relationship to the ant and the parathyroid gland in relationship to the wasp. With the thyroid, with the secretion of the thyroid substance into the blood, we have one pole. And with the other, we have the respiratory-metabolic penetration into the inner organs, into the inner processes of man. There is continual organ metabolic activity going on in the human organism. If the organism is not penetrated by metabolic breathing, in the thyroid process there is an inclination just to fall into a rather degenerate, vegetative state, and death will supervene. To me this is quite consistent with the indications Rudolf Steiner has given of the ant who instills the formic acid into what is dying away in the decaying of the wood and other structures of nature. Formic acid keeps the earth alive, penetrated by astral activity. I would like to suggest that this is a very similar to the processes that are going on in the relationship of the thyroid and the metabolic processes in man .
If we now turn to the wasp, we have an insect which is of great interest. It is in the group of the hymenopterous animals, with very transparent wings. The wasp fulfills the criteria of the insect. The wasp has a digestive apparatus, a circulatory system, and has tracheal air passages. It has two antennae, two eyes, six legs, mandibles, and an exoskeleton of chitin. The wasp follows somewhat in the footsteps of the bee. However, it is less light-involved than is the bee. One group of wasps, about 800 species, are classified as solitary wasps, the so-called Eumenidae. They are solitary and do not build nests. They often will bore their way into the earth. As solitary creatures, they suspend eggs from the vault of their little cell. Then they sting caterpillars for the nourishment of the eggs, so that the eggs can unfold and become a caterpillar, chrysalis, and imago. The social wasps build nests. The nests are the metamorphosis of the woody substances of nature. Instead of producing wax, which is so much a reflection of the transformation of the oils of the plant kingdom, the wasp transforms the woody substance. There is a fall from involvement with light-warmth-oil substance into the woody, dense, heavy substance of the plant. The wasp derives its substance from the cellulose and weaves it into paper. It produces a kind of dead substance and weaves the cells (hexagonally) into a paper nest. (It is like the dead intellect which needs to have paper and writing for its unfolding.) Eggs are laid into the cells and nourished with caterpillar substance strong with formic acid. A larval and chrysalis stage take place within the cell, and the imago then emerges. All of this is connected with living, but the living dying (cellulose) of the plant. The wasp is connected more with the dying aspects of the plant, taking the substance of the plant to build the nest. Into this slightly dying process, the wasp (astral) enters. The activity of the wasp in the slightly dying-away plant that is structuring cellulose seems to me another picture of the penetrating of what has not died away, but is still living and tending to death. This life-death process is like a breathing-metabolic activity in bone. The formic acid produced by the wasp, the sting of the wasp, is again the entry of an astral impulse into the domain of life and death. In the case of the cellulose, we do not have the higher forms of the plant substance taken up, as in the case of the bee, but the lower forms. Here we then see not the rapid dying away process in the case of rot or catabolism in man, but the living process that has to be continually reconstituted and reassembled so the form can be retained. In this sense, I would like to suggest we might consider the wasp as active in the region of the plant cellulose world, maintaining form and structure with its activity, with its sting of formic acid. In the same way, we see the parathyroid gland in man bringing forth its secretions and stings so that the bony configuration, the muscle configuration, and the nerve configuration can be maintained.
Part X Light Metabolism
It may be good to summarize so that we can again orient ourselves. We have journeyed through quite some lands. We have considered the embryological development of the human being on numerous occasions. This casts the human organism into a more mobile configuration with a continuous plasticizing. I tried to point out how one organ structure may arise out of another. One organ is changed through embryological development. Through embryological development, one organ may be seen in relation to another in a progressive evolutionary fashion. In order to keep the organism mobile, we have to refer to an organ from one aspect and then from another. For example, we have spoken of the brain in relationship to the butterfly, but we have also done the same with the kidney. At another time we have talked about an organ relationship to a vertebrate animal, and at another time to an arthropod. At one time we can look at an organ from the aspect of the senses and at another time from an aspect of function or process. All at this requires a certain fluidity and flexibility in our thinking and imaging.
We can take a fairly broad perspective of what we have been doing since we started with light metabolism. We began with the brain. We related the brain to several animals and then progressed to the lung, the liver, the kidney, and the reproductory system. Recently, we have reascended to the lung, the larynx, and back up into the brain. This contemplation of the human organism follows a path where we consider the unfolding of the human organism out of an archetypal head form. This is a fall out of the head. The progression is a fall into the pelvis or lower abdominal limb system and then a rising out of this. We have traced this fall and rise in the human organization while contemplating evolution and the unfolding of the animal world. The role of the Osiris-Isis Mystery has been woven into this.
Throughout, we have indicated the role of light in bringing about the ascending organization of man. Only slowly have we approached the activity of light and also activity of life. As we progress now, we will try to look more and more closely at the weaving and working of light.
Let us again turn to earth evolution, to the beginning of the earth when we can say man was all head. If we now look at the head, we have to consider the senses, the nerves, the brain, and the skull. This is a very advanced form of the head. If we look to the beginning of the earth evolution, we have to consider that the spiritual being of man was within the atmosphere, within the spiritual world. The senses rose into the spiritual world, while part of the head was more within the earth domain. Mankind had a common earth head of pure living warmth. This polarity between the earth head and senses spirit organization was there only very faintly at the beginning of the earth. As soon as the Sun exited (Hyperborea), the senses organization was much more in the periphery (used by other spiritual beings). The
airy-warmth head remained with the earth. At that time the senses were filled with life. The senses were sense and life process together; a circulating-breathing- nourishing-warming process was in place. The whole was a kind of circulating warmth process, a kind of warmth circulatory activity that later gave rise to the circulatory-vascular system. Only at a later stage did the heart originate, but to begin with man was a warming-circulation-breathing-sensing-nourishing being. The processes of man’s senses, the pineal organ, were used by other spiritual beings.
If we make a next step, we can image that on the earth side there was a falling out of the head and the senses. A liver- like organ fell towards the watery earth (early Lemuria), while the pituitary organ unfolded more towards the senses, the pineal senses. The sun that had exited worked strongly in the pineal (pituitary) senses, and the
moon-earth contained an airy-head and a watery liver. Only as the moon exited (middle Lemuria) did the more middle region, the chest region of man, begin to unfold. We have detailed this with the unfolding of the lung, larynx, and heart–with the elimination of lion, bull, and eagle processes from man. We have connected this with the Osiris-Isis-Horus mysteries. The chest region and organs rose out of the watery earth, while the kidneys and lower reproductory organs fell. At the same time, the reptiles, amphibians, and lower fishes were cast out of man. The sense system of man, the eye and ear of the pineal sense organ, began to unfold. Smell metabolic organs and processes matured. The unfolding of the upper senses (smell, sight, hearing) in the pineal (the third eye) resulted from the working of the light-ether element from the sun into and through the air. At the same time, the more refined ether states–light, tone, and life ethers–began to work into the atmosphere, earth, and man to bring about further organismic unfolding. There was a falling out of the light and into life with the fall of the earth and lower organism of man. Darkness arose while, at the same time, a higher ether unfolding progressed (with outer planets). The moon exited so that what had been pulled into the earth could then begin to reascend. We have the development of an atmosphere. The development of the air conditions, with the water solid below and the finer ether states far above, became the final configuration that evolved at the time of Atlantis. What we presented in terms of the developing human being, is that organs fell out of the cosmic head into the abdominal region. Then an ascent began with the birth of the chest and a final configuration of the human head, which is no longer the cosmic head, but an individual head which can in activity reach into the cosmos. The kingdoms, the nature kingdoms, were cast out (excreted), and we have focused on the vertebrates and the insects.
The way in which we have tried to think about this is that man casts a certain element out of himself, a certain astrality. The result is that a more refined astrality can develop so that man can gradually evolve as a soul. The astrality cast out gives rise to the animal kingdom. Into this astrality incarnates the retarded beings who then develop the different animal species. Within the human being there is a refining of astrality. We can speak of an astral organization that is inclined to follow the denser constructs in the human organization. The astral that is drawn into the limbs and the unfolding of the inner organs (such as the liver, spleen, and something of a kidney) becomes the sentient body. The astral that evolves in man is known as the sentient body.
As man descends out of the cosmos with the help of spiritual beings, there comes the impulse for further individuation. There comes the impulse of the human ego. There is a tendency for each single man, each single being that constitutes man, to bring forth a type within himself. The result is the potential for the incarnation of an individual (a species-like being), which we call the human ego. In order for this to happen, the limb structures, that is, the bone, muscle, and nerve, have to be so constituted that they are very much connected with the human astral organization. These limb structures are articulated into the abdominal region as legs, into the chest region as arms, and into the head region as senses. This permits the ego to enter the astral or sentient body, so that organic structures can unfold that will serve the soul (walking, lower limbs; speaking, arms; thinking, upper senses). The astral organization guided by higher spiritual beings gives rise to, as already indicated, the bone, muscle, nerve, and senses. Lower spiritual beings play into these structures, the legs, arms, and senses, when man, as an ego being, is able to come into movement. At the same time, the inner organs are being structured, as we have just indicated, so that the astral body has organs that serve the sentient body. The sentient body is connected with the descent of man’s organs out of the cosmic head and into the lower regions of the body and earth. At the same time, there is an impulse for organs to unfold that are of a more refined nature. These organs unfold to serve the sentient soul, not the sentient body. For man to become a “living soul,” the sentient soul organs have to develop. This development requires the working of light. Sentient-soulness is connected with light processes and gives rise to some of the endocrine organs that we have been discussing. We have, in the lower body, the endocrine organs of the pancreas, the adrenal glands, and the male and female gonads. These we have linked with the sentient soul. These organs we have considered to be structured out of a kind of sentient soul process. They permit the human soul to evolve out of the sentient body. This is an augmented working of light processes into the lower dark regions of the human organization, into the darkness.
As the sentient-soul organs develop, there is a light working that tries to bring structures out of the abdominal region of man into the chest region so that the intellectual-soul can find a footing in the human organism. We have indicated that one side of this light working is the casting out of the mammals (lion, bull, and eagle) with the resultant lung, heart, and larynx. At the same time, there is a higher light process at work that permits organs to unfold for the intellectual soul. The glands that develop in relation to this soul activity are the thymus, thyroid, and parathyroid. The possibility for intellectual soul activity we have related to the unfolding of the organs of the chest, which later tend to melt away and make life forces available. The melting away of organic structures further permits the activity of speech to evolve, centered in the larynx.
All of this belongs to the weaving of light. The bringing forth of the sentient body structures in the abdominal region, the further bringing forth of the organs in the chest and head, as well as endocrine development, is all a light process. The endocrine organs appear as higher light process within the light process that unfolds the other organs–liver, spleen, kidney, lung, and heart. These later organs tend to serve life and sense activity.
Our final step is back to the region of the head where we first started. We have structured the lower system of man and the center region, and now we have to structure the individual head organism. When we started the earth evolution, we had a kind of cosmic man, a kind of cosmic head organization. In this cosmic head was contained all of the spirituality of mankind. Now what we have to do is see how the actual individual head is structured and, particularly, how the brain is structured. This is a further working of light. This is connected with the light that comes from higher etheric spheres. This higher form of light arises from spheres beyond the sphere of the sun. This higher form of light draws forth the head out of the abdominal and chest region. We now can consider the unfolding of the brain. The senses, nerves, and final physiognomy of the head are structured even after the inner organ, the brain, comes into existence. As we know in human development, the head is filled out by the brain. Only later are the senses, nerves, and physiognomy finalized. Let us turn to the first steps in the final structuring of the upper reaches of man ‘s organization: the appearance of the brain and that which becomes the skull with some muscles, nerves, and senses. The structuring of the eyes, nose, ears, chin, etc., comes later (this takes up to 30 years after birth). Before this, the brain with the pineal and pituitary has to be structured, as a working of the higher light processes. This working of a “super-light” activity we will have to relate to the more refined ethers that unfold after the exit of the sun. These more refined ethers are the ethers of light, tone, and life. (They evolve out of and beyond the sun-astral sun.) These more refined ethers have a counter or polaric reflection in and about the earth. These latter ethers come to fall into the earth itself, and appear in the working of electricity, magnetism, and gravity. The human brain has to be wrested from these lower forces in order to be able to reflect the working of these refined ethers. This is accomplished by secreting and excreting brain substance into water. The brain in the cerebrospinal fluid is carried by the ether forces connected with the planetary world (more inner planetary world). We can image that the waters of Atlantis were raised into the region of an ascending head. Into these waters the brain is brought forth out of a metamorphosis of the pineal and pituitary glands, while something of the inner process from the lower abdomen was drawn up into the brain. At the same time, a portion of the lung activity comes to penetrate the waters that carry the brain (see the arachnoid structures). The supralight process (Luciferic processes) draws elements of the liver and lung into the head, while the glands, pineal and pituitary, dwindle to become organs to serve the workings of light (pineal) and life (pituitary).
The reason for speaking of these two types of light is to note that we have a light (light-ether) that can become connected with life processes as chemical-ether process. The supralight is connected with the etheric, which is penetrated by consciousness, by the astral. The latter serves activities of the intellectual to consciousness soul. It is a “supralight” element that comes out of ether-light and is evolved as tone ether. This we can speak of as light of consciousness. We can speak of this as a light that serves consciousness. It is this astral-light working that we have to consider when we are talking about the development of the brain and particularly the endocrine organs of the pineal. A chemical-ether process is connected with the pituitary.
As we follow this development of light, ether-light, into a kind of astral supralight process, this permits us to divide the endocrine organs into polaric considerations. We can describe those endocrine organs that serve consciousness and those that serve life. We can speak of supralight endocrine organs and life-light endocrine organs. These organs serving consciousness we have listed as the pineal, the parathyroids, the pancreas (beta cells), the adrenal (medulla), and the male testes. The other pole is where light is transformed to serve life. From this side of light working, we have the endocrine glands that serve life. These glands are the pituitary, the thyroid, the pancreas (alpha cell), the adrenal (cortex), and the female ovary.
We contemplated the mammals, the amphibian, the fish, and the reptiles (vertebrates) that are connected with man. These we brought in connection with our inner organs and the senses. To be true they are organs that support life, but they can be considered to function in relation to our senses. As Rudolf Steiner has indicated, these inner organs are in fact sense organs and serve the soul as such, not only the life processes of the human body. This gives quite a new picture of man, indicating that our major organs, liver, spleen, gall, etc., are connected with senses, with the inner senses or deeper sense life. The endocrine organs are more connected with life that supports the soul and light that supports consciousness (the spirit).
With this view, we can say that much of our organs is actually the working and molding of light. The light weaving is very much connected with the upper senses, and life more with the inner organs and endocrine glands. Just as the light working influences glands serving life and consciousness, so the same may be said about our inner organs. Both the brain and liver are inner organs, the brain serving consciousness and the liver more life. The liver can be seen as a sense organ (taste) while the brain is pressed outside the skull to form a portion of the eyes. In this way, the brain serves as an organ connected with the senses. It is the workings of light which bring about these differences in man’s organ makeup.
Let us now think of the unfolding of the brain as it is there to serve the development of the human intellect and the capacity to think. The brain has to serve the soul, to develop a conscious sense life. At the same time, this brain has to be structured to serve man’s faculty of reason. This is a faculty of the soul higher than the intellect.
Reasoning is a creative process. It is often not realized. It is a supraphysical process, but requires a fine structuring of the organism (the brain). In order to gain an impression of this brain development, let us again take a path to look out at the animal kingdom.
If we look at the brain, we can find that it is an organ full of nerve fibers. We will develop the configuration of these nerve fibers and nerve tracks later. For the moment let us imagine an organ that is filled with a net of nerve fibers that are nothing but condensed light. Not only is the brain constructed of condensed light (fibers), but there is a darkish fatty excrement which surrounds the fibers (myelin). The brain carries its own excretory process within it and at the same time it carries the excrement. The light fiber surrounded by dark substance is supported by a very lively metabolic process carried on in the gray matter (cells) of the brain. Already we have imaged that the light fibers in the brain are connected with the bird and the butterfly. We imaged the bird and the butterfly at the outset of our contemplations. Something of the excretory process in the brain we would have to associate more with the lower organ functions in our abdomen, the bowel. The amphibian and reptilian animals can be considered (eg., snake, casting off his skin). We have repeated a number of times that in the excretory process of the large bowel, there is an elimination of substance with the formation of an etheric brain in the abdomen. The etheric brain is drawn upward to structure the brain fibers or brain light.
This etheric-abdominal brain is drawn up out of the darkness to work formatively on the brain in the domain of light (of supra light). It is the myelin, the myelin substance, the excretory structured substance of the myelin, that in fact sustains the refined configurations and convolutions of the human brain. Again, at this point we might leave off going into the structuring of the brain, only to indicate its relationship with the lower excretory process. The excretory processes that are at work in the lower organs create an etheric organ that can work to form the brain so that the brain can serve a much higher life.
Next we should consider the life processes that are connected with the brain and the substantiality that fills out and permits metabolism in the brain. Elsewhere we have pointed out how the major animal beings of lion, bull, and eagle are cast out of man. They are cast out so man can form more delicate structures: the heart, lung, and larynx. In the case of the brain, we would have to look for an animal being, which is also cast of of man. However, we have to find, as in the case of the brain, how a mammalian animal was cast our and then raised into the watery sphere. As the brain rests within water, we can seek an animal of intelligence that lives in water. We quickly come to an animal that is a very major interest in our time. This is the dolphin. The dolphin in recent years, at least since the 1950s, has become a major interest to many scientists, and to many psychologists and psychiatrists. The humanity involved in the dolphin and man’s relationship with the dolphin, this great sense of relatedness of man and animal, has been studied by many, particularly by Dr. John Lilly. He has undertaken extensive research in regard to this whale.
Let us note that the dolphin is a mammal. It is an animal that gives rise to living young. They have to be nursed. Next we have to note that the dolphin is a vertebrate. It has a spine, but it has lost its limbs. This whale lives in the upper reaches of the oceans. It has to come up continually for a breath. The animal has a definite relation to light and air so that it has to surface very regularly and frequently. The animal is filled with fat. The fat and oil process is particularly located in and near the jaw (fathead). The hearing sonar system has developed to great perfection. Of great interest to many is the fact that the dolphin has a brain that is about the size of the human brain. The structuring of the brain and the cerebellum begins to approach the complexity of the human brain. Interesting is that, even without a limb structure, the cerebellum of the dolphin approaches the complexity of the cerebellum of man. The cerebellum is a mirror, a structural mirror, for all the complex movements that man is able to undertake. The movement process of the dolphin, as we know, is also highly complicated. The dolphin’s movement is an amazement for those who have watched them leap into the air and perform somersaults, twists, and the like. The dolphin can move, jump, rise into the air, and return to water. The capacity of the dolphin to step out of the water into the air, and move with grace, is astonishing. This great movement capacity of the dolphin in reflected in the cerebellum. The affinity of man to the dolphin appears mirrored in the dolphin’s cerebrum, as well as the cerebellum.
The next astonishing aspect of the dolphin is that most of the other senses are not well developed. The sense of sight and the sense of smell and taste are almost absent. There is very little sight. The movement sense is developed in so far as it is reflected in the cerebellum. The sense that is most strongly developed in the dolphin is that of hearing. Much has been said about the sonar system of the dolphin. The dolphin appears to be created very close to the domain of sound, tone, and music.
The dolphin has been depicted in Greek times as an animal who carries a young man on his back. The man carries a lyre. This image of man and music is related to the dolphin. The music works to create the ear, works metabolically and elevates the dolphin towards man. Not only light, but music works into the entire makeup of the dolphin, raising the dolphin towards man. Interesting to me is that the dolphin seems to be subject to sounds that more approach noise. The finer refinements of music, tone, harmony, and word, which belong to us, do not seem to approach the dolphin in the same way as in man. I would like to suggest that the dolphin is raised into light and sound, but also gives evidence of having fallen into the domain of the mechanical where noises play more of a role. With this the animal has fallen out of the spiritual world, though it is still evidence of the working of the world of tone, music, and sound, while man has ascended in light into the higher world of sound. The structuring of the dolphin, the auditory apparatus and the whole metabolic activities of the dolphin, are wonderful evidence of the working of this tone and sound world. In the case of the dolphin, the tone world lays the foundation for the metabolism of fat, the organs of movement, and the organs for hearing. The close relationship to man begins to unfold as we consider how man is also a creation of the world of tone, of music, and of sound. The human ear, but more so the whole structuring of the human organization and, in particular, the head and the metabolism of the brain, is all evidence of the working of sound, tone, music, and harmony. The human ear is not structured to hear the high pitches and frequencies of the dolphin. We have had to develop a sonar system out of the mechanical world in order to approach the sounds heard by the dolphin. We have developed soul faculties rather than the sonar sensing system of the dolphin.
We are now contemplating the raising of activities that were once in the chest of man. These activities, metabolic activities (recall the thymus and the bull), are raised in man into the head. These activities become metabolic activities of the brain. The dolphin gives some hint in the outer world, in the animal mammal world, of what man has to carry on as a much more refined activity in his own brain metabolism and organism of hearing. What the dolphin has in metabolism, movement, and hearing, the human being has to do in brain metabolism, but more so he has to raise the metabolism to an even higher level, so that the faculties of thinking, of intellect and reason, can have an organic basis.
It seems to me that it is quite a wonderful and impressive picture to image the dolphin with a young man with a lyre on his back. This might serve as an archetypal image of the unfolding of the human brain.
The later unfolding of this organ, the brain, occurred during the time of Atlantis. It is a time when man in his configuration, senses, life processes, and soul evolved the capacities for walking, speaking, and finally thinking. During Atlantis, thinking in particular was rescued. This is a deed of the highest spiritual world. The rescue of thinking is connected with the Christ event. This we have spoken over many times, but here we are focusing on the organ required for thinking as well. The activities of Jehovah and Michael have to be drawn into this contemplation. Man’s organism, which is there for this higher soul activity, unfolds during the time of Atlantis. The brain appears in man for a refined soul working, while more coarse processes are given to our brother, the dolphin. The dolphin swims in the waters with metabolism movements and hearing activities of a less refined nature. Man carries these activities in his soul in a much more refined form, reflecting them in the brain. Man can reflect his movements of thinking in the organ of the brain so that he is able to become conscious of thoughts. The dolphin would need the human activities of the rider (man riding the dolphin) and the lyre (man playing the lyre) in order that a proper instrument of reflection could be created, for the dolphin to carry on higher activities. At present the dolphin can only find his higher reflection and completion in man.
Another wonderful mystery involved in all this development is that we can turn to the mysteries of antiquity. These mysteries of human development can be brought into the immediacy of our time. We can contemplate what went on in these old mysteries. We have related the mystery of the human spinal cord to the Mystery of Isis and Osiris. The riddle of the Sphinx points to the evolution of the human chest. Our next step is the secret of the human head, the human brain. This secret points to the Greek Mysteries and the Mystery of the Hebrews. This will have to be taken up next. At the moment, we are considering the mighty mysteries that speak to the unfolding of the human head. Here we can take up the Greek Mysteries. We can look to the Greek Mysteries as the mysteries of the weaving and working of light (as well as warmth). Rudolf Steiner gives adequate indications of the role of light in the Greek cultural epoch.
We might turn to the mystery center at Delphi. This is connected with the whole Mystery of Apollo, with the Mystery of Delphinus. Delphinus is easily translated into dolphin. Delphinus, Delphi, dolphin, all belong together. They all point to this amazing mystery of the unfolding of the human organ that permits intelligence, intellect, and finally reason. This mystery points back to Atlantis, but also works at a further evolution. It would take too long, but it could be very helpful to unravel the old myth connected with Delphinus, the dolphin, and Apollo. This might be taken up in the light of the unfolding of the wonder of human intelligence and the organ to serve it. We might contemplate the Mysteries of Delphi, the Greek Mysteries of Delphi, the mysteries of the dolphin, to come to a view of the unfolding of human intelligence. It is the Greek cultural period and the mysteries of Greece that we would then have to look at in order to gain a delicate and important further understanding of the considerations that we are undertaking here.
The story of the unfolding of human intelligence would not be complete without pointing to the two organs, the pineal and pituitary. We have already related the pineal to the bird with the airy-feathery-wing-color activity that rises as a kind of color crystal process of light at work in the bird. We can look at this in relation to the pineal. Next we can turn to the pituitary, which we have connected to the butterfly, indicating that the pituitary is a kind of life organ that falls out of the butterfly as the butterfly ascends into the light and becomes nothing but pure dust, a pure phantom, physical form. The pituitary falls out of this ascending light process to descend into life (see Man as a Symphony of the Creative Word). The working of the pineal and pituitary we can take up in our next consideration, particularly if we take up the whole nerve configuration of the human brain.
Part XI Light Metabolism
In our last considerations, we suggested that we have followed a path whereby we can gradually come to speak of the mysteries of antiquity, as we unfold the workings of light in man. We have spoken to the Mysteries of Egypt, of Isis-Osiris, in relationship to the human reproductory processes. These reproductory processes, of course, are not only sexual but they are spiritual and creative, as, for example, we have in the word. The last time we spoke to the Mysteries of Greece, to the sanctuaries of Delphi, to the mystery of the unfolding of the human mind and human thought. Since then I have been given a poem by Gerald Karnow who found the following words by Elizabeth Hey:
If only my thoughts were dolphins,
fast and free.
Untaught by morals and encumbered by speech,
Fresh as the waves that trouble on the beach,
I would be gay and consequentially.
My thoughts are more like anchovies, I see
How rigid tail and mouth, link each to each
Immutably and logically they reach,
The present, past and future thoughts of me.
In our last consideration, we pointed to the dolphin. We carried the picture of a young man riding a dolphin, with a lyre in his hand. This picture of man riding a dolphin with a lyre in hand may not be as far-fetched as might seem. In a recent publication on neuroanatomy by Nauta and Firetag,* an area of the brain is described, which is near the commissures of hippocampus. This area of fibers is called the Lyra of David. This is a lyre-like structure near the hippocampus. It is also called the psalterium. It is surprising to find today in a neuroanatomy text a description of a structure that reminded someone of a lyre. These fibers are located above the region of the fiber tracts connected with the human ear, near the hippocampus and near the region of the corpus callosum. I cite this reference in detail since Rudolf Steiner indicated that what he had to tell about the human being, his makeup and function, could be validated if current science were researched in detail. What we are speaking of here, the lyre-like structure in the brain, is a detail spoken to in a passing, fleeting reference in a neuroanatomy text of our present day. This could support our image of the dolphin with the man, and a lyre would carry this as a picture of the unfolding of the human brain in relationship to the Greek Mysteries.
We have to look further to the development of the human brain in reference to the Hebrew Mysteries. We will take this up in Light Metabolism 12.
We ended our last considerations pointing to the pituitary and the pineal. And we can structure this present consideration around the polarity of the pineal and pituitary. In order to do so, I would first like to recapitulate where we have been and where we are going.
We started out with the head of man, pointing to the beginning of earth evolution. We considered how the structures of the lower abdomen and limbs fell out of this head, which was actually a weaving warmth circulatory organ. The limbs and abdominal-limb system fell out of this head, while, on the other hand, senses began to evolve in relation to the circulating head structure. We have followed the evolution of the “life” organ, the liver, out of the abdomen, out of earthly water living substance. This was at the time of Hyperborea on the way to Lemuria. Then we followed an ascent into the region of the chest. In the chest, we considered the heart, lung, and larynx and continued up into the region of the human head. In the region of the head, we contemplated the skull and have looked inside at the brain. In our considerations we have connected the bird, the butterfly, and the dolphin with the brain. In the chest region, we have associated the lion, bull, and eagle with the chest and chest organs. In the abdomen, we have looked to the fish, the amphibians, the reptiles, and the snakes. We have tried to think how the liver can be connected with the tadpole, and the lung with the frog. This is an indication Rudolf Steiner gave to teachers. He pointed to the fact that light is at work in transforming the tadpole into the frog, or we can say transforming the liver into a lung. We then ascended from the region of the lung into the head, into the inner confines of the head. Therefore, we started with a vast cosmic head, considering it somewhat in relationship to the circulatory process. In fact, the circulatory process fell into the earth while the fall was occurring. We can say the heart gradually formed out of the circulation. Out of the circulatory process that evolves a heart (through the activity of Karma process), digestive-eliminative-reproductory and limb systems develop.
Now, let us follow this course again. We started out with the head region, speaking of the pineal and the pituitary. We descended into the region of the abdomen, taking our path with the descent of the kidney, that is, the pro-, meso-, and metanephros. As this progressed, we contemplated the working of light that drew forth the gland-endocrine system, particularly the adrenal glands and the gonads–male and female. In the process, we also transiently looked at the pancreas with its alpha and beta cells, which unfolded out of the enteric canal. We have cogitated the bee in relationship to the pancreas, the firefly in relationship to the adrenal and the spider, and the bumblebee in relationship to the gonads. In our ascent into the chest region, we took up the ant in relationship to the parathyroid and the wasp in relation to the thyroid glands. All the way through we have tended to follow the metamorphosis of the butterfly. The processes of the butterfly we have contemplated in relation to the endocrine system in the head, pineal on the one side and pituitary on the other.
So with these considerations of endocrine glands, we have imaged a counterpart in the insect in the outer world. Our approach has been to look at the higher animal kingdom with a spinal vertebral system more in relation to the larger inner organs. From this point of view, the large organs are more connected with the spinal nerve vertebral system, while the endocrine gland system is more related to the sympathetic nerve system. This division between spinal-vertebral and sympathetic nerve systems we have mirrored in the vertebrate and the invertebrate animals in nature.
The endocrine system or the gland organ that formed on ancient sun has still remained very much in relationship to light. We have also indicated that the endocrine glands can be grouped in relationship to life. We have suggested that the endocrine glands that are more related to light and consciousness are the pineal, the parathyroid, the beta cell, the medulla of the adrenal, and the male reproductory gonad. On the life side, we have placed the pituitary, the thyroid, the alpha cells, the adrenal cortex, and the female gonad. So we have created a polarity within the endocrine system, indicating that part of the working of light in man is structuring endocrine organs so that they function more in relationship to the light that belongs to consciousness. The polarity is to be found with those organs that belong to the inner life of the human organism. In the insect world, we can say that there are insects that connect themselves more with light and air and other insects that connect themselves more with water and life. We began this polarity by taking up the tadpole and the frog, which Rudolf Steiner related to the working of water-darkness and air-light. Rudolf Steiner pointed to the fact that the tadpole living in water, when subjected to light, becomes the frog who is able to live in the air and on solid earth out of water. We can see something of the same thing in the mosquito. The larva stage occurs in water after the eggs are laid in water. They then progress into the stage of the fly, so that we have a winged insect. They start out in the watery domain and step over into the airy light. This polarity between the watery life and the airy light, we have already indicated as a polarity below and above the diaphragm. We have related life below the diaphragm and more light airy element above the diaphragm. We can as well consider this polarity between the pituitary and the pineal so that we can trace this basic duality within the brain itself. It is this polarity which I would like now to consider in this section of Light Metabolism.
It is possible to divide the brain. We find this division in general anatomy when we consider the brain in relation to the skull. If we place the brain in the skull, we have a division that is called supratentorial or subtentorial. That is, we have the division of brain that lies above the tentorium and which lies on the floor of the skull, and a second division of the brain, which lies below the tentorium in the region where the cerebellum sits. One might ask, what is it that has brought this major division between the supra- and subtentorial regions? I would like to suggest that it is light and life.
The cerebellum with the brain stem and the pons lie in the subtentorial region (in the region of the occiput of the skull). The cerebellar hemispheres with the mid-brain rise up into the region of the temporal parietal and frontal regions of the skull. This basic division, within the skull, of what is above and below the floor is carried deeply into the structuring of the brain. We can consider four major sensory fiber tracts in relationship to the brain, and they can be seen in the polarity which we were just speaking about. At the same time, I would like also to return to animals, and animals which can express something that we carry within us. We look outward to find a correlation.
First, I would like to speak of the tongue with the fiber tracts associated with taste, and the ear with the auditory and cochlear nerve associated with hearing. The nerve fibers and tracts lead to the subtentorial regions of the brain. I would like to place in polarity with these the nerve tracts connected with smell and sight. These nerve tracts lead to supratentorial regions of the brain.
Let us begin with the vestibular auditory process. We have before connected this very much with the dolphin and with movement. We have indicated that, in the formation, in the creation of the dolphin, we have something cast out of man. Man now carries dolphin activity in his soul as a higher faculty. He dissociates the metabolic and the movement processes from the perceptive faculties of space-balance as well as tone-harmony and speech. The dolphin processes, the metabolic movement process, becomes connected with the structuring of our senses and then, out of this, comes the soul faculty for perceiving space and sound–and movement as well. The vestibular processes that are connected with the semi-circular canals are also connected with the spinal tracts and the cerebellum. The auditory nerve tracts are connected with nuclei lying within the brain stem, and with radiations into the cerebellum via the pontine fibers. The spinal-cerebellar and the auditory-pontine cerebellar tracts are all in the part of the brain below the tentorium. This swims with the brain and spinal cord within the cerebrospinal fluid. The light tracts of movement of the dolphin we can imaginatively concretize in the fiber tracts of the spinal-cerebellar system and the auditory-cochlear cerebellar system. The wonderful hearing process, and the movement and activities of this animal, we can imagine as light strands that have been concretized in the nerve fiber tracts of the spinal-cerebellar tracts, as well as the auditory and cochlear nuclei, pontine, and cerebellar radiations. In man all these tracts remain stationary. Nothing of the movement of the dolphin can take place. The movement and the auditory process of the dolphin are concretized out of light into fiber tracts, and the actual movement processes are given over to man for his unfolding of his soul and intellectual development. What we might contemplate here is that in the subtentorial region of the skull in the brain stem and in the cerebellum we have fixed fiber tracts, which permit man a higher unfolding.
Outwardly, the wonderful movements of the dolphin, the metabolic activities in the dolphin, have been transformed in man for higher faculties. At the same time, something of the hearing and movement process of man can be mirrored in the wonderful nerve fibers of the specific nerves of the senses, the nuclei, the pontine structure, and the cerebellum.
The processes of metabolism and movement can be imaged or depicted in light strands that are concretized into nerve-fibers. These are woven into the sensory fibers of taste, hearing, and movement. These fibers, concretized light fibers, structure the nerves and tracts of the brain stem, the pons, and the cerebellum. The fibers are like fine stem fibers leading to the plant organs of nuclei and cerebellum. Cross sections of nuclei and the cerebellum appear as the growth of plant structures. The cerebellum and associated structures are related to life and mobility. Light is evidenced in the hearing process where the brainstem nuclei have not grown into the mighty structure of the cerebellum. The same thing can be said of all the nuclei that lie in the brain stem. They have not grown into mighty structures like the cerebellum. They permit the evolution of higher structures that appear in the cerebral hemispheres.
So we might relate the dolphin, his movements, his metabolism, to the neural structures that lie below the tentorium. We can now go on to consider the neural structures connected with taste. Taste can give us an insight into life, just as the auditory-vestibular process can relate us to sound, movement, and space. If we look at the taste buds and nerve fibers in the tongue, we find that they run from the tongue into the brain stem. We again have a sense organ structure which has nerve fibers leading from the sense organs to the region below the tentorium within the skull. The nuclei for the senses of taste lie in the brain stem. This is a sense that is connected much more with life than with light. If we look at the fish and ask what is the fish made up of, we can say that the fish is actually nothing but an expression of moving taste, a moving tongue. The fish, as indicated from spiritual science as well as from ordinary science, are very sensitive to elements of taste. It is the taste element that guides the migration of fish.
It is the taste that governs many of the movements. Taste and movement are at one in the fish. It is almost the same with the tongue. The extension of taste activity into the brain via the nerve fibers, can be visualized in light strands and compared to the movements of a fish in relation to taste. In the case of the fish, the fish actually moves to the object. In the case of taste, the movement is abstracted from the tasting process so that one has an actual experience of taste and not only movement. The fish, in its movement in the realm of water, in the whole domain of nothing but life, with slight exposures to light and some relationship to air, it seems to me gives a wonderful outer image of the processes of taste. Even the lateral line system in its construction in the fish somewhat resembles the configuration of the taste bud of the tongue. It is not too difficult to imagine the tongue with its taste buds swimming and traveling in the watery domain, in the fluids of digestion. Digestion becomes taste, movement in the actual watery digestive processes. However, in man, the tongue-fish is transformed into a tongue-brain and can no longer move in the waters of life.
We then have two animals, the fish and the mammalian dolphin. Both are subject to the domain of water and life. They can serve as a reflection for what we have in the neural structures that are connected with the organs of hearing, movement, spacial positioning, and tasting. The movement of the dolphin, the rising to the light and out of the waters of life, can remind us very much of the breathing airy process that is connected with respiration as well as movement and hearing. The swimming fish, alive and moving in the waters of life, can easily remind us of the human tongue, anchored but serving, with the proper nerves and nuclei, as a basis for tasting.
Let us move on to the supratentorial region. We can consider the upper two senses with this region. These two senses are the sense of smell and the sense of sight. The sense of sight we can easily relate to the activity of the bird. The eagle with his eagle eye is all eye. The eye with the beak and claw, with a certain heaviness, can lead us with a certain imagination of the region of the brain that sits in the skull just above the tentorium. We might imagine the eagle with his eye bent forth reaching into our own eyes, while the feathers and the legs drift behind, extending into the region of the occipital lobes. The piercing eye gesture, the movement with an airy wing element and extending back into the feathers of the posterior reaches of the bird, we might think of as imaged in the visual radiations that terminate in the visual cortex, in the occipital region of the brain. The wonderful movement, the airy light elements that enter into the eagle as he flies toards his prey, the wonderful filling out of the plumage with air and light, the further development of the color process of the feathers, we can all abstract and concretize into the fine fiber light threads that make up the fiber tracts of the optic radiations of the brain. It is this imaginary bird nerve structure in our eye and the optic radiations that we can contemplate in the structuring of the brain. We can say we have taken all of the heaviness of the eagle, we have taken all that is beak-like, we have taken all the heaviness of the feathers, we have taken all of the bonyness of the airy-formed skeleton away from the eagle, and made this into our visual perceptive process, while the light is concretized into nerve fibers. We have excluded from our soul the heaviness of the eagle. Instead we can make visual imagery as a soul event in the process of perception. The eagle has to see, has to move and fly. We merely have a fly through the light and air with the wings of the visual process. The eye and the optic radiations with visual cortex can mirror this process. Our activity in relation to our eyes and all other movements are transformed into the images that we bring forth in our soul because we have a mirror in the visual apparatus. In all of these movements, the eagle is sentenced to in the actual activity of movement.
We can then image that we have a delicate light bird structure in our head, at the base of our brain located supratentorially. Above it, rises even finer structures needed to mirror the visualization process. The imaging process is like the little bird on the eagle’s back who can rise to great heights. This little bird in our case is actually the unfolding of our cerebral hemispheres with the capacity to image in the visualization process.
Now let us continue our contemplation of our second sense in relation to the supratentorial region. We can turn to the sense organ of smell and the nerve tracts in relationship to this sense. I believe we can continue our image now not of an eagle but of a delicate bird that lives in the sense of smell. Here everything that is taken up is transformed into a kind of an inner airy warmth and movement as we find in the light of a hummingbird with variegated plumage. The delicate bird is sentenced to fly to whatever is smelled. The bird has to fly in the wafting wind penetrated by light and smell substances in order to find its homing destiny. The sense of sight fades in the bird; the sense of smell becomes ever more important. It is the sense of smell that governs the migration of these animals. From elsewhere we have the indication that it is actually the star elements that the animal can smell. It may well be the light radiations themselves that are taken up and smelled by the bird. The odoriferous light is determinative of the movements that are connected with migrations. The sun with its seasonal activity plays into this.
In the case of our cerebrum, we have extracted all of these movements that birds are forced to make. We transform movement into sensing. We have created light threads that are concretized in the fibers of our cerebral construct. If we trace the sense of olfaction, the sense of smell, through the vertebrate kingdom, we find in the lowest forms that the whole brain is almost all smell brain. It is called rhinencephalon. It is formed in the lower vertebrates. This is particularly true of the reptilian group. As we ascend the evolutionary line, the rhinencephalon or the smell brain shrinks. What unfolds is the process called temporalization. Here the temporal lobe develops and the rhinencephalon shrinks. In man, all that we have left of the rhinencephalon are the two small olfactory bulbs. In the case of reptiles, these are in fact the entire brain. As the olfactory bulbs dwindle in man, the temporal brain or the lateralization process of the brain unfolds. On top of this unfolds the cerebral hemispheres. The hemispheres with the many associations of fibers can be seen as the metamorphoses of the sense of smell. The bird that has to fly in every direction in man is placed aside. His soul can carry on the light movements that are merely mirrored in the constructs of the cerebral cortex and the associational fibers. He makes thoughts instead of colored wings.
This temporalization and cerebralization that occurs in man at the expense of the dwindling of the rhinencephalon, I think is well expressed in the image of the youth with the lyre in his hand. The toning, sounding, lyring man takes the sounds and ascends with them into the heights of the cerebrum. He takes the smells, metamorphizing them into the light tracts, into the fiber tracts that are needed to reflect what then man can carry on in his soul in the act of pursuing intellectual activity. Intellectual activities then become the transformation of the metabolism into light fiber strands and the light metabolic eliminative processes connected with the formation of myelin. The image we have to add to the youth with the lyre in his hand is the image of the man who as minstrel carries the lute in his hand while he sings with the ascending song. Here knowledge process arises out of music, harmony, and word, and requires the mirroring in the cerebrum for conscious reflection.
With this contemplative activity we can come to a kind of polarity with the senses of smell-sight and hearing-taste. Both poles have a potential for metamorphosis to a higher region. The sense of taste, hearing, and movement, though physically placed in a lower region of the brain, has the potential for a higher metamorphosis. Idea activity is associated with harmony and word, which rest within the hearing processes. As we can discover image-forming capacity as a metamorphosis out of sight and associative activity out of smell, so we can consider idea process is a lofty metamorphosis of the word grasped through the ear by hearing.
To me this all bespeaks a polarity between what occurs in life in connection with watery domain in the earth, and what is connected with air and light. The chemism of taste and tone rests with the earth, while the wafting of color and smell in sight raises us into the cosmos. The whole structure of the human brain and skull is based on this polarity. We see this polarity reflected in the endocrine structure of the head. The outer skull shows a duality, the brain structure shows a duality, and the endocrine processes within the head also shows this polarity. These two endocrine organs, the pineal and the pituitary, give further evidence of their tendency to be subjected more to light or to life. They remain consistent with a basic polarity which is at work in the human head.
Let us look at these two endocrine organs. They are made up of fibers and some secretory cells. What is of a secretional activity in early life is replaced by calcium deposits as pubescence arrives. If the pineal is not calcified, we do not have pubescence. If the pineal is destroyed, we have fairly immediate pubescence. Therefore we see that there is actually a polarity between life and development or light processes reflected in the activities of the pineal. The pineal is what is called a vestigial organ. It is an organ that shrinks away with development. It seems to have very similar qualities to the thymus gland, which also has to melt as the human being develops. In the space of its involution lies its possibility of soul spiritual activity. It is probably for this reason that the philosophers had a sense for this. At the beginning of our current era, it appears that Descartes was able to perceive that somethng was able to play around the pineal gland in the act of cognition. That is why he located the seat of the soul in the area of the pineal gland. The pineal has, in occult traditions, played a central role in trying to lay a foundation between the soul and the body. Rudolf Steiner detailed this relation in his lectures early in the century.
The pituitary gland is much more of a “life” organ. The organ itself carries a duality. Posterior pituitary is called the neurohypophysis. It grows down from the brain. The anterior pituitary was thought at one point to grow in from the intestinal mucosa, but now is seen to derive from the ectoderm of the embryo. The anterior pituitary, more life-filled, is derived from the surface of the human organism. It secretes substances into the blood. So far we can enumerate seven different secretions. The posterior pituitary has one or two secretions.
The pituitary is usually seen as a master gland in the body. I would like to suggest that, as we find an endocrine-secretory activity in the lower organism, we look for a reflected secretion of endocrine substance into the blood from the pituitary. As we have an unfolding development and excretion of an ovarian cell with consequent endocrine activity of the ovarian follicle, we look to a mirroring of activity in the pituitary gland. Rather than speak of “feedback” mechanisms between ovary and pituitary, we might rather look to a mirroring between the activity of the lower organ process with secretion, and a cessation of secretory process in the pituitary gland. What is generally considered to be a mechanical interrelationship of the pituitary gland with the other glands can easily, from our vantage point here, give way to an understanding of the interrelation of “life processes” in the glandular system. The pituitary mirrors–does not master but mirror–the life activity of the other glands. It mirrors an activity, not consciousness. The pineal, on the other hand, is more of a mirror for the light and more conscious activities which play between the soul and the organism. The more light-filled mirroring in the pineal gland corresponds to the raising of consciousness from the ganglionic nervous system to consciousness of the spinal-reflex nervous system.
If we consider the pituitary and the pineal as a duality, the pineal has to involute while the pituitary secretes. The pituitary itself has a polarity. One pole of the pituitary is neural construct, the posterior pituitary, and the other, the anterior pituitary, is more a living glandular organ. These polarities reflect the polarity within the endocrine system and the polarity within the pineal and the pituitary itself. With this we can see that the organism is full and full of polarities. It is interesting that the polarity between the anterior and posterior pituitary can be reflected in the circumstance of the liver and the lung. The liver lies below the diaphragm, the lung above; the liver is more living, the lung is more soul-like. The same thing might be said of the posterior and anterior pituitary or the pineal and the pituitary. The posterior pituitary even has a portal system which reminds one very much of the liver. We have pointed to the polarity in the entire endocrine system in the makeup of the glands, and even a polarity of the endocrine glands in the head.
Much more attention would have to be focused on these latter aspects of the functioning of the pineal and the pituitary, and this can be gone into at a later time. Much more detail in biochemistry, neurophysiology, and endocrine-physiology has to be taken up in order to describe this more adequately. We can not do that at this time.
It would seem, in summary, that it is well to see the structuring of the entire skull in a duality, the entire brain in a duality, and the pineal and the pituitary in a duality. I would like to suggest that we see here the interplay between light and life. The pineal is more connected with light, the cerebrum more connected with light, and the skull cap is connected with light. In the case of life, we can say the pituitary, cerebellum, and the brain stem are all connected with life, and so is the subtentorial region of the skull.
It will be recalled that, at the outset of Spiritual Science and Medicine, Rudolf Steiner suggested that we contemplate the skull in relationship to tractive and weight-bearing impulses. The supertentorial tractive forces remind one of the upper part of the skull. The weight-bearing forces, the gravitational forces, are much more evident in the jaw and in the base of the skull. Our first contemplations of superterrestial forces in opposition to terrestrial forces now can be metamorphosed into contemplations about light and light metabolism. Light and weight are transformed into light and life in these contemplations. At the same time, we can consider that light permits the unfolding of soul activity.
*Walle Nauta, Fundamental Neuroanatomy, W.H. Freeman and Co., 1986
Part XII Light Metabolism
In our last consideration, we looked at the polarity of the skull and the brain–the pineal and pituitary. We discussed the supratentorial and the subtentorial region of the skull. I suggested that we consider the subtentorial region of the brain as living more in connection with life, and the supratentorial region more in the domain of light. In a similar way, we compared the polarity between the pituitary and the pineal. The pineal we related to light, and today, even in conventional physiology, the pineal is light-related. The pituitary is more connected with life-endocrine metabolic activities. The pituitary is today thought to be the center of life, a kind of master gland in the body. This is not totally out of line with the reasoning here. Instead of considering the pituitary as a master gland, we have taken the polarity between the two glands as suggested by Rudolf Steiner, who posed the possibility of a tension between the pineal and pituitary. Our considerations have taken up the polarity between these glands in the head and the glands in the remainder of the organism.
We looked at four senses that are very much localized in the head, though not exclusively so. We spoke of the organs of taste and hearing with the associated fiber tracts and nuclei. These latter structures are located in the subtentorial region of the brain. The eye with the visual cortex, and smell with the temporal cortex, are more connected with the supratentorial region of the brain.
If we go back to our original considerations, in history and evolution, we indicated that man was a kind of a circulatory-heart being at the time of Polaria and Hyperborea. He then developed a light-working at the time in which there was a materialization and a kind of fall, when the whole process of evolution descended. Man had a headlike organ that consumed fire-light entities. There then unfolded organs that fell into the abdominal region and finally into the limbs. At the same time, we contemplated that there was an ascending evolution that helped develop the lung as a light-related organ. A next step was a further ascent of the brain above the lung as a result of the working of a kind of a supralight process. It is the supralight process that I would like to follow out now in speaking of the further development of the brain. To define the supralight, I would say it is a light process that is penetrated and subject to soul-spirit activity. It is a light process in which the spiritual-soul being of man is intimately working, particularly as a conscious agent. Another way of saying it would be to indicate that there is an astral element weaving into the light element, or the light ether element, so that the light ether element is not only connected with light and life, but also very much with soul and spirit. It is the working of the soul-spirit light formative activity that we have to consider with the evolution of the brain. This supralight, or the ether elements connected with astral ego principles, I associate with the ether, substances taken out into the cosmos at the time that the sun exited the earth in Hyperborea. I try to consider that this ether element, with the astral and the unborn ego, became the important formative agent in the further unfolding of the human brain.
We can, from this perspective, contemplate the basic structures that seem to be more formed out of life, while other parts of the brain, related to sight and smell, are elaborated more out of light or supralight. This light has penetrated smell and sight more than it has taste and movement. In the case of hearing, we have every indication that there are higher activities in hearing and lower forms of hearing, but hearing is very intimately related to life. If we look at the higher functioning of the human organization, in the brain, we could look for a higher metamorphosis of both hearing and smell, which permits us to contemplate the higher structures of the brain. Here supralight is active. Rudolf Steiner has indicated this and spoke of a spiritual ether light in contrast to astral light. The higher evolution of sight, smell, and hearing we can consider in relationship to the unfolding of the cerebral hemispheres formed by the activities of supralight. The cerebralization of the brain can be viewed as evolving out of a higher activity of sight, smell, and hearing. The higher form of brain configuration, I try to think of as very much related to the supralight process. The term supralight is my own designation for this higher ether that works formatively in the brain. The domain of this light is called the world of reason.
From Rudolf Steiner’s indications, smell can be seen as transformed into a higher associative activity, sight transformed into image-producing activities, and hearing into word-thought activities. I would like to follow this line of thought so that we can cogitate the cerebralization as structured out of a metamorphosis of smell, sight, and hearing. In order to do this, we have to turn to the world outside of us.
Rudolf Steiner has given the interesting indication that the human being can be looked at as a cosmic cell. I would like to suggest that one can look at the human brain in this way. We can look at the individual cell and place this in a cosmic context. The way I have imaged this is to consider the whole zodiacal circle as a kind of outer covering of a sphere, of a cell. The Zodiac is like an envelope, where light rays into a center and appears as if coming from the center. Rudolf Steiner indicates that the sun is an entity in the heavens where light is concentrated. Light flows into the center from the zodiacal periphery, but we only see physical concentration of light in the sun. The sun becomes a window where light is concentrated and can be seen by physical perception. Light as such is supersensible; it flows from the circumference to a center to re-expand into the periphery. It is elastic. The Sun is like the nuclear center of the cell, while the zodiacal circle is like the surrounding membrane of a huge and immense cell. The light streams from the zodiacal circle, and even the surrounding stars flow in towards the Sun. We can think of the light creating canniculi in the cell-stream from circumference to center and vice versa. Scientists recently have found minute canniculi that run from the surface of the cell towards the nucleus. The kind of cytoplasmic streaming from periphery to center and back from center to periphery, might be compared with the streaming of light from the periphery towards the sun, which then radiates the light outward again. The earth in relation to this image furnishes the substances that permit the cosmic cell to become sense perceptive. We might consider the cell as a perfect mirror of the entire cosmos. The human brain is somewhat similar to the cell and the cosmos. If we place the entire zodiacal circle on the surface of the cerebral hemispheres, we can find the homunculus that is said to be projected on the surface of the brain at the location of the motor and sensory cortices. We might think of the anterior motor cortex as a reflection of the zodiacal starlight, while the sensory cortex is a reflection of invisible starlight of daytime. The humanized zodiacal circle is projected onto the surface of the human cerebral cortex. The whole zodiacal circle is imaged on the cerebral cortices, in the same way as we can image the brain as a small mirror–like the cell of the giant cosmic cell. From the star cortex, the light streams inward in the middle of the brain where we find the lenticular nuclei, as well as the hypothalamus. We might think that there is a sun center in the brain, while the cortex is more like the star-studded heavens. The remainder of the cortex is constituted like the multifaceted heavens that surround us at night.
In this fashion, we might image the giant cosmic cell contracted into the form of our brain. The brain, in this way, is a mirror image of the heavens itself. I like to think of the light streaming from the cortex down into the organism constructing the corticospinal tracts, known as the pyramidal tracks, which cross in the region of the brain stem. On the other hand, I like to think of the fiber tracts located in the middle of the brain as structured by peripherally streaming light. These are the thalamocortical tracts whose origins are in the spinothalamic bundles. In this way, we can visualize the radiation of light from the periphery to the center and the center to the periphery. The condensed materialized light in the nerve fibers is to be found in the centripetal pyramidal tracts, or the corticospinal tracts and the thalamocortical tracts. The centrifugal fibers make up the thalamocortical radiations. (See any conventional neural anatomy text.) I like to think of the motor fibers, or the light streams from above downward, as involved with the human ego, whereas the tracts that ascend from below upwards (the corticospinal tracts) are more involved with human astral organization. Rudolf Steiner, as we know, has indicated the polaric workings of these two entities in man. I would like to consider that these two members are active in these two major fibrous tracts connected with the brain, and particularly with cerebralization of the hemispheres.
With this bit of difficult imagery, we can then build the cerebralization process out of a horizontal plane where we can place sight and smell constructs above the plane, and hearing and taste below the plane. The encephalization process or the cerebralization process, we have to connect not so much with the plane, of above and below, but much more into the domain and force systems of the heavens. We have to bring the whole starry world in connection with the human brain itself. One way to cogitate this is to consider that the senses of taste, hearing, sight, or smell all have to do with waking consciousness, though one sense is more awake than another. If we want to transform these sense activities into a higher form of light working, we have to look then not to what approaches us from the day consciousness, but from what approaches us out of the night consciousness. I would like to suggest that our processes of imaging (that is a higher form of sight), of association (that is a higher form of smell), and wording or thinking (a higher form of hearing), lie in dream-sleep consciousness. We have to wake up to these activities, and we need the brain mirror for this. These all have to do, not with the activities of daylight and outer sun activity, but rather with night light, more with the star arid moon activities. Star activities, star forces, can be related to imaging, associating, and think-wording. Those force systems can be associated with the metamorphosis of the four sense activities we have spoken of.
The evolving of hearing into a higher faculty might be sought in the Greek Mysteries. The Orphic Mysteries were connected with music, tone, and the lyre. The picture of the dolphin carrying a man with the lyre in his lap is a picture of the higher form of hearing (music, harmony, and word) so that hearing can go inwards and be recreated in a higher form in thinking-word process. The inward conceptive process in inwardizing of sight and sound was connected with the mysteries of King Minos. In the Legend of King Minos arises the secret where the light and sound of day is taken into the tangles and the labyrinth of thought. In this legend we can follow the evolution of hearing, as well as sight, into a higher condition. The Greek Mysteries are very much connected with the elaboration of sight and hearing into a higher and inward soul faculty connected with thinking.
This development of the motor and sensory cerebral cortex, along with the association fibers, we can relate to the senses of sight, smell, and hearing. They have been metamorphosed into a higher form. It is the task of the mysteries to help bring about this development of the human cerebral cortex, which serves man’s faculties of imaging, auditing, and associating. The cortex has an outer layer of convoluted gray matter. There are fibers running under the surface of the convolutions. Towards the middle of the brain, as already noted, we have the various nuclear structures. From the center to the periphery and vice versa, run many radiating fibers. Mixed with these radiating fibers run horizontal fibers, the so-called association tracts. The above-noted fibers, which are located just under the cerebral cortex, maintain the convolutions of the cortex. The fibers which hold these convolutions in a fixed form are called the U-fibers. These are extremely important fibers. They are myelinated fibers. They are fibers that hold the structure of the cortex, which can become so highly individualized. They give the individual configuration to the outer surface of the brain. It is my understanding that Rudolf Steiner was particularly impressed by these fibers and, in a quote which I can not find at the moment, he spoke to the importance of the discovery of these U-fibers. He indicated that with their discovery, he could then present The Threefold Social Order to the world. This detailed structuring of the brain, and the knowledge thereof, as a basis for being able to speak to outer social structuring is impressive. It is my understanding that these U-fibers were first described in the early teens of this century. They have been well investigated since.
Let us take the fiber structures of the cerebral cortex, the radiate fibers, and finally the U-fibers and transform all these fibers into streams of light. We can think of the entire brain fiber tracts as the interweaving of streaming light. The cells of the brain, the gray matter (the pyramidal cells, the astrocytes, the oligodendrocytes, etc.), we can image as stars that radiate the light streams. The brain through this image process becomes a star-studded heaven with endless rays of light. The multitude of the stars of the heavens becomes the multitude of cells of the cortex. The stars send their light into the center of the cosmos, and during the day we see the stars as concentrated light in the sun, where then light re-expands into the heavens making light visible to us. This star light, the supralight of the stars, we can think of as structuring the human cerebral organization. It is the human soul-spirit in its inner working and thinking, in the cognitive thinking process, that gives an indication of the supralight process of the stars, which structures the cortex of the human brain. I would take it that it was the mysteries of Greece which permitted man to become aware of this mighty supralight (ether-light not astral light), which works so that man can come to individualized man–a person.
In order to further pursue the secret of the cerebral hemispheres, I believe we now have to turn to the Mysteries of the Hebrews. It is in speaking of these mysteries, and particularly of Abraham, that Rudolf Steiner indicates we finally come to the structuring of the human brain so that man is able to think arithmetically, think with an absolute accuracy. This means that man has to have his brain structured in such a way that no outer sense gives rise to the mental processes. Rudolf Steiner indicates that Abraham was the first man in history who was able to think arithmetically. This means that the senses that belong to movement, to limb activities, to spatial experience or the night senses, no longer enter consciousness. The movement activity of limb and blood have fallen away; all that remains are the abstracted activities of arithmetic: addition, subtraction, etc. What is needed is a mirror for these abstracted activities of movement so that the abstracted movements can appear in consciousness. The first man to acquire this mirror in the cerebral cortex is Abraham. He is able to abstract, accurately. Abraham, through his initiation by Melchizedek, acquires the faculty to structure his organism, his brain, so that he is able to reason mathematically. The sleep senses (movement, space, equilibrium) are the basis for an abstracted activity that appears as arithmetical ability, which comes to the light of day by the proper structuring of the cerebral cortex. Rudolf Steiner, in his discussions about the St. Matthew Gospel, has researched this area of human spiritual-physical evolution.
We can imagine the human being, in his soul-spiritual activity, traversing the starry world, taking the light in his soul to configure the anterior aspects of the brain. The result is that he no longer is awake to the sense of movement, space, and life. Man in his pre-earthly life (with the help of the whole spiritual world) takes hold of the stars and the radiant starlight so that he can configure the brain in such a way that the reasoning activity of arithmetic can take place in consciousness. Movement activity becomes arithmetic activity and enters consciousness because of the particular structuring of the brain. I take it that this was the task of Abraham. This was his initiation. This was the necessity in order that man can act as a reasoning being in total abstraction, removed from the senses of usual day consciousness and, at the same time, carrying on the lawful activities of arithmetizing. I would call this being able to carry on arithmetical-mathematical logic. For this to occur consciously, there is need for a special and individual configuration of the human brain.
This mystery of configuring the brain, I would like to bring together with the Mystery of the Ram. We can begin with the picture of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The sacrifice is rejected. What is not done is to sacrifice a human being in order that human higher faculties can be unfolded. Man is spared. The life of another human is not needed. Rather, man needs to cast an animal nature out of his being: the ram needs to be sacrificed. Natural animal clairvoyance has to be given away, has to be materialized in an animal form.
To carry on spiritual activities similar to arithmetical reasoning required, I take it, before Abraham, the sacrifice of another human being. One might think that the ether forces of the sacrificed individual (particularly when very young) were needed to enter into arithmetic logic before Abraham. Another view would be to say that the zodiacal forces of the Ram, or the Lamb, are needed, so that man could develop lawful-logical soul-spiritual activities on earth. The sacrifice of the ram can be then seen as the sacrificial activities that stream to man out of the starry world, so that he can think arithmetically, and structure the organism for conscious reflection. The animal appears as a sacrificial beast, as a symbol-reality in existence. Man can spare his fellow man, but a sacrificial activity does need to occur in existence for the sake of lawful soul-spiritual activity. Man’s first lawful activity on earth becomes that of mathematical reasoning through Abraham. Abraham did not sacrifice Isaac, but he did sacrifice a ram.
If we look at the ram, its skeleton, we realize that the ram is a vertebrate. It is a mammal. The ram, a sheep, is a being who can live on the sparsest of life. Often infertile mountains and unfruitful earth become the source of nutrition for this animal. The animal is a ruminant and stands on its toes. Therefore it is called an ungulate. It is a being that rests in the horizontal and is able to take up cellulose and vegetative material. It is a ruminant, so that the material that is taken in is brought forth again and digested and recast by a repetitive working. I like to think of a toed animal like the cow as a being who is being raised into a fairly lofty realm. Though materially heavy, the ungulate stands as it were on the tiptoes in relationship to the earth. By eating the sparse plant life, we can say the ram is an animal who in a way lives on the earth that is almost dead. Sheep can graze on terrains that will not give sufficient life for other animals. So we might consider that this is an animal who is raised, almost as if slightly lifted, above the earth and yet can take what is almost dead earth and make new life. With its molars it is able to grind out the little life that is given to it from the grasses and simple vegetation of the hills and valleys, where oftentimes there is no lushness. I realize that many do live where there is sufficient vegetation, but it is quite possible for the sheep to live on an earth that is, in a way, dying away. The sheep who lives in the upper reaches of mountains, in the light and in the air, is like a human being who in his thoughts is able to raise himself above the earth into regions of existence where almost no substance is needed except the barest of mineral earth, the air, the light, and hardly even the element of warmth.
It is interesting that the sheep or the ram is a horned animal. The sheep horn arises not from the skin or from the skull, as other horned animals, but from a germinal center that lies between the bone of the skull and the dermis (skin). The sheep have what is called subcutaneous horns. As the horn develops, the subcutaneous ossification unites with the skull, but the origin is between the bone and the dermis. It is as if the sheep horn lies between the cow horn, which grows out of the skull bone, and the reindeer horn, which grows out of the skin. The sheep horn is, as it were, in between the cosmic epidermic horns of the deer and the more earthly bony horns of the cow. The sheep or ram horns can spiral around and then wind themselves outwardly. We have the indication from Rudolf Steiner that the reindeer horns are sensitive to the entire cosmos. Cows horns reflect what is inwardly cosmic and ray the cosmic back into the animal. In the case of the sheep, we have a kind of balance between what lies in the cosmos and what lies within the animal itself. The ram can become a symbol of a being which lives between what is outside and what is inside. This being can sustain itself, hardly touches the earth, but also does not completely unite with the cosmos. In a way, the qualities of this animal bespeak something that has become soul life for man. Man is able to reach inwardly to become active in arithmetic and relate this activity to an object that appears in the outer world. The ram with its horn can become a picture of what man enacts in his mathematical activity in relation to the world. Objects of the outer world can be observed. Man can dip inwardly and bring to the outer object an exact activity. The perceived object and the inwardly structured activity can be brought in relation to one another; the mathematical representation is like the ram’s horn, which grows out of the cosmos and the inner workings of the animal.
Another aspect of the sheep to consider is their acuity of smell. What is known of the sheep is that the pads on the surface of the feet secrete smell substances so that other animals can follow the line of smell and continue a course set by the lead sheep. It is interesting that there is a certain self-herding quality to this sense of smell.
At the same time, we also know that the sheep are of such a nature that they need man. They need a herdsman. The bee has its queen, the sheep needs the shepherd. We have noted this close relationship with the dolphin and man. We also have ths extremely close relationship between the sheep and man. It is not possible to think of sheep without man or man without sheep. The activity of smell that exists in the sheep so that they know where to go, I would say in man has been raised into a higher faculty of reason where man is able to raise smell into associational consciousness. Sheep find their way by smell, man by linking one perception with another, one idea with another. As sheep need the herdsman, so too the human soul needs the activity of herding, linking and directing.
Again let us look at the horns of the ram and then at the ventricular system of the human brain, seen in saggital section. We can be surprised to see that the ventricles look like horns. In man, the horns have been transformed into a fluidic condition, whereas the more substantial aspects of the horn have been transformed into light processes of consciousness in man. The ram’s horns have become the light consciousness process in man, in man’s inward activity, in his soul. Man carries his watery horns in his ventricular system in the brain, while his soul lives in the supralight, which, in the case of the ram, structures the horn and lives in the sense of smell.
If we look at the sheep’s wool with its fat, its hair, and the whole fatty metabolism that is involved, we might next look to a further correspondence with the brain. Many of the nerve fibers in the brain are wrapped in fatty warmth substance. This is not so different from the sheep, which is wrapped in fatty warmth substances as well. Light at work in the sheep brings forth intense hair fiber process. These hair fibers, the wool, are wrapped in warm fat substance, like the nerve that is wrapped in myelin. What in the case of the sheep is the wool and fat substance is transplanted into man’s head, transplanted into the head of man where the nerve-fiber light becomes wrapped in fat. Many of the fibers of the cerebral cortex are wrapped in fat. These help form the scaffolding of the brain.
We can think that Abraham had the task to establish man’s proper relationship with the domain of the ram–with the sphere of Aries. He was able to weave light formative force into the life of his organism as a prototype for the human being who is able to arithmetize. Abraham sows the seed for mankind, in order that man can carry on the inner light activity in mathematical thought. He inwardizes part of what, in the ram, has become purely physical and somewhat coarse, as can be seen in the horns and wool. Man carries on this process in his soul as a being who weaves a golden fleece.
With this tortuous line of imaging, we can try to see that the Mystery of Abraham is evident when we look on man and his relation to the ram, to sheep. The shepherd at night with the sheep in the fields becomes a wonderful portrayal of the human soul who inwardizes what shines in starlight upon both shepherd and beast. As we gaze over the fields, with sheep, shepherd and starlight, we come upon a scene in nature that has been taken into his soul. In man’s soul the scene has become potential for mathematical thought. This is a supralight process that points to the mysteries connected with Abraham and leads to the mysteries connected with Christianity.
In conclusion, may I quote from Rudolf Steiner (Foundations in Esotericism, p. 224): “When as yet man had no intellect, it was possible for the active light of the Godhead to pass through him and illuminate objects. The human being was the mediator for the Godhead. The latter wished by means of light to make the solid objects visible. Because the light passed through him, man himself was formed.”