Agriculture Lecture 5 – Introduction

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Again, let us try to keep in mind that we are here dealing with the birthing of an individual. It is the birthing of the individual of the farm. As we have already shared, it is hard to consider that we can have an individual farm without the individuality of man. Therefore, we have to look man, at his wisdom, in order to come to a culture, an agriculture that can give rise to a birthing process. This birthing process is for a given area on the earth. The individualization of the earth through man’s individuality means that the individual fragment of the earth could have singular qualities, but also universal qualities, like the human being. The individuality of man, as we noted, can be highly differentiated, at the same time takes part in a totality, so that each individual can say “I” to himself and at the same time participate in the “I-ness” of the world. This degree of individuation, at the same time universalization, becomes the task of the farmer.

This lecture deals with the preparations. I would like to suggest that the preparations are numbered after man. The line of thought could be as follows. Here number has to be used numerologically as a method of designating number meaning from an occult or esoteric point of view. Since I have not read anything about numerology in relation to the numbering of the preparations or ever heard others speak about it, this should all be taken in a tentative fashion. I would start out by suggesting the 500 series of the preparations, that is 500 to 507, are designations so that we start with the number of man. Five, Rudolf Steiner has spoken of as the number of man. It is his number in the fifth cultural epoch. It is to designate man of this epoch. As we know, Rudolf Steiner has revealed man’s cultural evolution that can be numbered from 1 to 7. The first cultural epoch is known as the Indian Cultural Epoch, the second is called the Persian. The third cultural epoch is the Egypto-Chaldean. The fourth is the Greco-Roman. The fifth is our own. The sixth is the cultural epoch to follow – the Slavic and the last cultural epoch is the seventh or the American. Rudolf Steiner speaks about the numbering of man numerologically in his lectures on Christology. There he speaks particularly of the number 5,000, the feeding of the 5,000. There he indicates that 5,000 is a designation for man of the fifth cultural epoch. The four numbers, that is the 5 and the three 0s point to the fact that the point of departure is the fourth cultural epoch. Rudolf Steiner has indicated that this is the way that occultists from time immemorial have used numbers. Numbers or a number can be used to designate an encompassing set of circumstances. By using number in this fashion, we can speak of the occult significance of numbers or the numerological value of number. If we deal with number in the same way, in relation to the preparations, we then can consider that our preparations are numbered after man, that is the fifth cultural epoch. What can be noted, however, is that there are only three numbers, a 5 and two 0s. If we follow the same reasoning as above, our point of departure here becomes the Egypto-Chaldean cultural epoch. This epoch is the time, as I have already indicated previously, when we can speak about the concern for the earth, of the dark earth, the substance of the earth. It is the time of the birth of alchemy. This takes us to the mystery and being of substance.

This mystery of substance, being of substance, we have already tried to touch on. I consider it all very, very tentative and a beginning. The beingness of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulphur we have tried to touch on in an anthropomorphic fashion. A great deal of deepening will be needed in the years to come in order to grasp the being of substance. This beingness we have to comprehend as we come to try to incarnate a “being” of a farm. As we have already considered, many view substance in a cosmological fashion, that means as an atom – a mechanical image. Here we are trying to make a transition or lay the basis for considering substance as being. This beingness we try to grasp in relation to the beingness as exemplified by the human individual – the individual human being. This points to a high degree of individuation. The individual quality reflects itself in the singular being of each substance. By this means, we have to consider new substance birth, just as we have to consider new human birth. We have tried to tackle substance birth where Rudolf Steiner has indicated that man is giving birth to new substance, new beingness. This, of course, is not an easy contemplation. Our trend in the fifth cultural epoch is not to think in this fashion.

With this said, let us quickly go over the man-numbered preparations. They can be listed as follows:

  • 500 – manure that has been placed in the sheath of a horn;
  • 501 – silica that has been placed in the sheath of a horn;
  • 502 – yarrow placed in the sheath of a bladder;
  • 503 – chamomile placed in the sheath of an intestine;
  • 504 – nettle placed in the sheath of peat-earth;
  • 505 – oak bark placed in the sheath of a skull;
  • 506 – dandelion placed in the sheath of the mesentery;
  • 507 – valerian which is scattered in the sheath of the air.

With this listing, we then have the sheaths and substances as original entities. The sheaths come from animal, plant (peat) and air. The inner substances all come from plants. Anyone in his right mind these days would have to be shocked at this consideration that one can place a plant substance into an animal membrane, into a sheath and then expose this to the workings of the earth and cosmos to make a preparation. To consider that this might be the way for unfolding preparations to govern soil management can easily appear as pure folly. If we are honest, I think this is a good place to begin with – foolishness. If we start with folly, then we have to see if we can make our way from what appears to be foolishness, foolishness in our time, foolishness of the fifth cultural epoch and progress to an appreciation of the deeper working of the cosmos, earth and the substances that have come into being in the plant and animal kingdoms. Here we are confronted with a totally new alchemic effort. Today after nearly 70 years of working with preparations, we have much evidence that the preparations work. So we can say empirically that all this is not just nonsense. At the same time, we can say that after 70 years of work with the preparations that our comprehension has hardly begun. We can easily ask, how was it for the early pioneers who had to base their work on the authority of Rudolf Steiner. This has to slowly give way to the incredible search to comprehend what was given. The preparations work. Those who acted on the authority of Rudolf Steiner found that they worked. The will of Rudolf Steiner could flow into these first initiators of a new agriculture. However, as time goes on, it will be more necessary to try to comprehend what has been given. Methodical work will be necessary. A research method will be needed to grasp the depth that is laid before us as indications in this course. Quite new knowledge of substance is needed.

Let us for a moment muse on the working of the preparations. We have already considered the preparation 500 and 501. The first preparation that we take up here is that of the yarrow. I would like to suggest that here again we consider a threefold working of these first three preparations. Let us consider further, mother and son (sibling). I would associate the mother principle, the matter-mother principle, with the preparation from the horn and manure, preparation 500. This preparation gathers the earth-mother nature to serve as a basis for plant life. The horn-silica preparation can be considered as a father principle. Preparation 501 guides the plant in its unfolding, so that it can serve as a basis for the nourishing of man and beast. The silica working from the cosmos via the earth brings the great heights of the cosmos to meet the depths of the earth. I would suggest that we can think of this as a father element. In the yarrow, we consider a sibling process, a son process. Yarrow works so that there can be an actual incarnation of “being” into the organism of a plant. A son sibling has to be born to the father and mother of earth and plant. A specific plant species has to incarnate. With this perspective, we can make our way to five other siblings – 503-507. These siblings, these agricultural siblings, are needed so that the earth can be guided to become the basis of individualization. The earth will in turn work into the plant and through the plant into animal and man.

Again let us start with the mother principle, with 500, the horned manure preparation. We are using a substance to bring the earth to the plant. We are dealing with a principle that has to enliven the earth in such a way that the plant can be born on the earth. It is for this reason that I refer to 500 in connection with mothering. That which helps bring the plant to fruition, particularly in the grain, is the preparation 501. The horned silica, animal influenced silica, works to bring the grain to maturity. The father-like working is necessary. The earth now has to nourish man and animal, not just give rise to another plant. The moon-water and the earth, mother the plant. The air-light-warmth and sun are active in fathering. The union of each plant species comes to work into the earth – moon born plant and the sun maturing life. The son-species differentiates the plant.

Therefore, as we talk about the preparations, we have to look to the plant organism and sibling species life. This anticipates the use of the preparations as we take them up one by one. Again, we have spoken of 500 as working through the earth to bring the earth to the plant, and we have spoken of 501 working to bring the cosmos to the plant so that the plant can fulfill its service to man and animal. These two preparations then point to the earth and to the cosmos. They also point to the plant. This means that we could give thought to the earth, the plant and even the cosmos as organisms. To accomplish this, let us consider life as a mother process. We have to consider how life processes are contained within a given entity, serve to support maturation and individualization.

So let us begin with life and speak of life in terms of processes. Rudolf Steiner has spoken about seven life processes. He has described seven life processes as follows: the life process of breathing, connected with Saturn, the warming process connected to Jupiter, and the nutritional process connected with Mars. Then follows the process of secretion-excretion connected with the Sun. The life process of maintaining is a Mercury process. Growing is a Venus life process. Finally the life process of reproducing is connected with the Moon.

These seven life processes I sense are being addressed as we move through the Agriculture Course. We began with the diaphragm of the earth and took up the process of breathing. The warming element was discussed in relationship to the inner and outer warmth of the earth. We went on then to the two nutritional streams. We looked at the sibling-metabolic activity – a maintaining process. With the preparations, we are concerned with excrement. The preparations are placed into excrement-manure. We have not yet addressed growth and reproduction, though it is mentioned at the outset in this lecture course.

With these seven life processes in mind, life processes that constitute the life of an organism, let us move onto the organism. This is necessary in order that we can further our discussion about the preparations, about the sheathes and the contents of the sheathes. In order to support our consideration of the organism, I would next like to turn to the deer and the cow.

We have already discussed the deer in its tendency to be an example of the radiational process. We have considered the cow as an expression of the enclosing, consolidating process. The extreme of radiation is explosion. The extreme of condensation, of consolidation is implosion. If either process occurs rapidly, that is radiation or condensing or enforced consolidation, we then come to destructive processes. These processes have to be controlled. The deer radiates out. The skin and blood want to rush into the cosmos. In the case of the cow, the skin becomes compact, withdraws from the outer world and forces – are concentrated within the animal. The result is the formation of bone. The head of the deer streams out through the eyes and antlers. The ear of the cow turns inward and the forces as well. We stand before two living animals, astral beings. We can use them on the one hand to understand that substance has to be astralized in two ways – to stream into the world via the antlers or into the organism, into the digestion reflected from the horns.

Organisms live in relation to an environment. If the life processes explode, the organism is eliminated. If the processes implode, the organism is excluded from existence in relationship to the surrounding world. Therefore, these two processes of radiation and consolidation have to be brought into relationship with one another. The basic processes considered here, radiation and consolidation, have to be in a balanced fashion.

Let us try to balance the radiational and the consolidative forces. In order to transform forces that radiate, forces radiating outward from a surface, we have to invert these forces and let them ray into the center of an organism. This means that radiational processes are inverted from the surface to the center – the interior of an organism. This is an inversion from the radial of the surface to a radial within the core of an organism. This is an inversion where we would have to think that the radiational goes so far out into the periphery that it returns to work towards a center. This can be thought if something physical and living streams out into the environment and is able to return to work towards the center of a physical-living organism. From the inner organs, there are radiations – astral-etheric radiations. They create a negative space, but one filled with activity. I believe that the stag bladder is a good example of a transformation from the antler radiation outwards to a vesicular bladder with inward radiating forces.

This radiational life has to be contained within a given structure – it has to be confined. If this does not happen, the organism will be lumpy. We arrive at the necessity of a boundary or a sheath. In order to evolve this sheath as a kind of a process and then a structure, we have to bring consolidative forces to bear on the radiational. This brings a boundary to the radiating. For this to occur, the consolidating forces have to be altered – have to be modified – a necessary dynamic. The radiational has to be contained – the compacted released. The two extremes have to be guided and balanced. The two extremes work to serve in forming. The consolidating force systems have to expand – cannot work in isolation. The radiational has to weave into the consolidative and the consolidative anchor the radiational. A warp and woof process has to occur. The balancing process is a dynamic. This results from the inversion of the radiational and the extroversion of the consolidative, (centrifugal and centripedal force systems). I would like to suggest that the expanding of the consolidative is an astral process, is the astral working into the etheric. The transformation of the surface radiational to a point radiational, I would suggest is the ego-etheric activity. Every organism needs the astral and ego working into the etheric. The etheric then can take up the physical to constitute a living organism with life processes – with metabolic activities – metabolism for physical existence. Metabolism requires life processes. The organism requires an astral-spiritual activity in order to have relatedness and individuation.

By this highly abstract, but thoughtful consideration of the organism, we arrive at a consideration where animal sheath and plant content become the basis for making our preparations, making an organ. The seven life processes are the life processes of an organism, but the organism has to be constituted so that it can live as a part of a whole and evolve individual characteristics. The soul and individual have to be able to modify the seven life processes. I am inclined to consider secretion as a soul astral process which modifies the life processes making relatedness possible. Excretion is a process which can make individuation a significant dynamic in life processes.

We have contemplated the nature of an organism and there, we can consider each preparation as a result of the working of an organism. The activity of each organism – preparation, we hope to carry over to the cultivation of the earth – the culture activity of the earth. This in turn can serve the plant. Let us keep in mind the earth constituted of the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and the thermosphere. The preparations work to cultivate these spheres, not just the lithosphere.

Now let us turn to the plant organism. We have been given some basic clues of how we might look at this organism. First, we have been told that the plant belongs to the earth and it also belongs to the cosmos. The earthly substances, that is calcium and silica, are bearers of cosmic-planetary processes. Moon, Mercury and Venus work via calcium. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn work via silica to form the plant. When we see a fleshy, rounded, water-filled living organization, then we are dealing with processes that flow via calcium. When we see a vine-like, entwining, more stem-like structure, then we see the workings of silica, earthly-cosmic processes. Both calcium and silica are always working in order to form a plant. The activity of one substance can predominate over the other. However, in order to have a plant as organism, both processes have to be taking place. By this route, we can see the plant as a member of the earth, but giving expression to cosmic workings.

Rudolf Steiner then indicated that we can read the form of the plant, not so much in its above the earth configuration, but its below the earth configuration. We can look at the root of a plant. If we have a ramified, more lateral weaving root system, an arborized root system, we can see the working of the earth. We can call this an earthly root configuration, if we find a more or less single root, with a few hairs, an essentially taproot system for a plant, we can speak of the workings of the cosmos. This is a cosmic root system. In these configurations, we can consider the planets, but I wonder if we cannot also consider that the Zodiacal-astral workings. They have reversed themselves and work not only from outside in, but from as it were, from the center of the earth, working to give rise to a radiational configured root. Then the zodiac works directly. The outcome is the more or less a single taproot

We have been given further indications of how to read the plant in relationship to the cosmos. We are told that when we see red color emerging in a plant, (I take it in leaf, flower or fruit), we have to contemplate the working of Mars. When white or yellow appear in the coloring of the plant, we have Jupiter workings revealed. It most probably is Jupiter working when white or yellow unfold in the root, the leaf, flower or fruit. Saturn, we are told, works to bring about the color blue. Finally, green gives evidence of the activity of the Sun.

Further, we are then told that we can look at a plant and consider its relationship to the course of time. Here sun-earth, sun-zodiac dynamics are at work. The sun-earth related plant is an annual. The more earth-zodiacal plant is a perennial. Yearly and durational are opposites. The sun and earth fires certain transientness. The earth and zodiac relationship furthers certain permanency. In considering the permanency, the earth comes into relation to the sun’s slow migrational life in relation to the zodiac – the Platonic year rhythm comes into consideration. For this we have to look into the far reaches of the star world. Duration is given to the plant via the great distances of the star world working from the earth into the plant.

Now we can further our consideration of the plant as an organism. We can move from its form, its root, to its color and to its time nature. We can also consider how we can read its form in relationship to a kind of breathing process. Here we come to the image of the earth that is breathed up and out. This gives rise to an earth hillock which streams into the plant to form the permanent bark and the structural systems of a plant or tree. We can consider on the other hand how the herbaceous descends out of the cosmos as a kind of inbreathed-radiant element from the far reaches of existence. The earth breathing out-upward-forming stem and branch is the one side of our plant-tree organism image. On the other hand, the breathing in of the herbaceous element of the plant out of the cosmos and in relationship to the earth, this furnishes the other pole of our image, of our imagination of the plant-tree. These two tendencies, the rising of the earth and the descent of the cosmos with the life of the plant between earth and cosmos, fill out a major image of the plant that is now not determined by planets and earth, but the entire cosmos in relationship to our earth. Just as we can consider earthly and cosmic root forms, so likewise in the trunk and bough of our tree plant, we can consider the earth and cosmos giving rise to the two-fold outer form of the tree.

Our contemplations concerning the organism of the plant have to continue with a concern for the siblings and their transformations. The siblings and their transformations, the bringing about of substance change, we have discussed in relationship to respiration. This gives the life of the organism in terms of substance transformation. This gives a possibility of comprehending the plant organism in its metabolism. This metabolism we discussed in relationship to respiration. In respiration, we find the soul-spirit impulse that works through breathing into materiality so that the metabolism of the organism bears a relationship to the soul-spiritual of a particular species.

 If we consider all these processes as part of the working of the organism, the plant, we then have to contemplate that this plant needs to serve man and animal in nourishment. We also have to contemplate that the plant can not come into being if the earth does not serve this plant. For this purpose, we next have to turn to the organism of the earth because it is to the earth (spheres) that we add the preparations. The preparations have to work into this earth organism so that this organism can serve the plant.

As we turn towards the earth and consider this earth organism, we should quickly mention the indications Rudolf Steiner has given in this lecture. He points out that the cosmos serves in giving substance to earth. The cosmos in rain, in homeopathic dilution, gives lead, arsenic, and mercury to the earth so that we do not have to be particularly concerned with these substances. Phosphorus should be added to this as the element given to the earth via the snow. There are other substances that we have to be concerned with in order that the earth can nourish the plant. Ordinarily what is said is that nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK) are the basis for plant existence on the earth. It is said that if we know the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content of the soil, we then have all our problems solved. This was the word in the thirties and forties of this century in regard to agricultural-soil management. Since then, trace elements have been added. This over simplistic view of the purely mineral nature of the earth, Rudolf Steiner transforms into a highly complex system of living activities.

Now let us for a moment turn to the earth as an organism, and let us consider the earth-culture as an organism. Since the whole earth is not fit for cultivation, for enculturing, we are confined to field, forest and pasture. We thereby restrict our activity to a small segment of the lithosphere – whose surface is only one-seventh of the entire surface of the earth. The other six-sevenths is water. It is not the prairie, the steep, not the mountain or swamp we are considering. We here are talking about a relatively small chunk of the earth. It seems to be important that we place our consideration in context and here we are focusing on a very small segment of the surface of the earth and a very thin slice of this surface.

Let us begin with soil. Let us threefold the soils for simplicity sake. There are sandy soils, clay soils and loam soils. Sandy soils are largely siliceous. It is particulate. (It is not only siliceous and particulate). Clay soil is, as we know, watery, semi-gelatinous. It is colloidal. Not only silica but also aluminum and calcium is present in clay. There are other elements present depending upon the type of clay that we are dealing with. It is essentially a very living, we can say, chemically metamorphic transformative substance. It appears that silica contributes to the living colloidal activity of clay. Finally, we have loam – black earth. All the foregoing substances are found in loam. In addition, there is decayed matter that comes from plant and animal life. This means that loam contains products from plants, the excrement from animals as well as the decayed residue from animals themselves.

At times we have a more sandy soil, a more loam soil or more clay-like soil. Ideally a soil should be balanced – sand, loam and clay should be balanced, but such is not the case. Soils vary depending on climate and vegetation. As we know, certain plants grow in certain soils. Therefore, not only soil management, but also planting practices are determined by the makeup of the soil and in turn influence the soil. We, of course, have to consider that the atmospheric conditions, the temperature conditions, the climactic conditions determine what can be planted and what can be grown, thereby changing the soil. We are just beginning to discover how much man can govern both the climate and the soil – the earth.

If we look at the sandy makeup of the soil, we have to think of the siliceous substances, which are actually a derivative of the oldest original earth condition or a volcanic product can be considered. Fire process, plant process lies behind the sandy soil. If we turn to the clay, we can be aware of a more recent origin. There is a colloidal-chemism present in clay so that we are much closer to the condition of our time. The calcium process inherent in clay brings us into the time of Lemuria and into Atlantis. Finally, if we look at loam, we have to consider how the plant life, how the animal life, how human activity then works into the earth loam makeup. We are closer to our time.

Now if we again look at the earth, we have to consider that the earth, the soil, is not just mineral. It is an organism full of animal life. This is particularly so in the case with loam soils. These soils result from the manures produced by animal as well as plant. If we look at the manures resulting from plant, from grass and tree, we have to think of the army of ants that transform the cellulose material into nitrogenous materials for our earth. Of course, in the woods and forests, we know that the ants play a role, but wherever there is plant life, we need the armed forces of the ant. (They should be the only armed forces needed on our planet.) They transform the cellulose, the lignified substance of the plant into something useful for the future of plant life. Leaf, branch, stem, root – the indigestible materials of the tree-plant world for animal and man become the nutriment for the ant. The ant transforms these substances to bring about more living substance for our earth – formic acid. The ant creates a foundation for humus in our soils.

If we go on and consider the soil of our earth, we have to then think of how the soil-earth needs the dung and excreta of our animals. Here it is the worm, again an animal, which takes the animal dung, digests it and brings about droppings rich in nitrogen. Without the worm, we would not have life on earth.

Thus we can be very thankful to the solitary worm that works its way into the manure of animals to bring forth living humus. We have to be thankful for the armies of ants that transform the dying off substance of the plant and tree so that we can have a step in our soil, in the earth, towards humus formation.

By these contemplations, we can see that the soil – earth as organism, which has to serve the plant, is an organism which is penetrated through and through by the ant and the worm (other micro-life as well). Without these animal beings, earth life would not be possible for man. Our soil-earth organism has to be thought of then as consisting of different soils, but also the dung of plant and animal life. This organism is alive with the activity of two major animals, which are the ant and the worm. Now that we have begun to contemplate the earth soil organism, that serves the plant and thereby man and animal, we have come to the point of asking how the soil can better serve the plant. How can the preparations serve the soil – the life of the soil?