Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Understanding the organization of animals; the feeding of animals and humans
The Agriculture Course. Lecture 8 of 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Koberwitz, Silesia, June 16, 1924:
MY DEAR FRIENDS,
This is our last lecture, though we may still be able to supplement it a little in the discussions, according to your needs. As far as possible in the short time, I want to add a few more explanations to complete what I have said, and to give a few more practical hints. These practical matters are, however, extremely difficult to clothe in general formulae or the like. They, most of all, are subject to individualization — to a kind of personal treatment. Today especially, we shall therefore have to acquire the necessary spiritual-scientific insight to begin with, for this alone will enable you to act with individual intelligence in the several measures you have to take.
Think how little insight there is nowadays in this most important question: the feeding of farm animals. Such a state of affairs cannot be much improved by however many detailed instructions for feeding. But I am convinced it will be much improved when our agricultural training tends more to the development of true insight on the fundamental question: What is the essence of the feeding process? Today I would like to contribute a little to this end.
As I have already told you, the significance of nutrition for the animal, and for man too, is to this day thoroughly misunderstood. The coarse idea that the foodstuffs are received from outside and then deposited in the organism is altogether wrong. That is what they imagine nowadays, more or less. True, they conceive all kinds of transformations in the process, and yet, fundamentally speaking, that is how they think. In a crude way they imagine, somewhere inside there are the foodstuffs. The animal absorbs the food — deposits inside it whatever it can use, and excretes what it has no use for. Accordingly, they argue, we provide for such and such essential constituents. We must see to it that the creature is not over-burdened with stuff. We must see to it that the food it gets is as nutritive as possible, so that it can use a relatively large proportion of what is contained therein.
True, they also distinguish between substances nutritive in the narrower sense of the term, and those which — as they say — assist the combustion-process in the body. (The materialists are fond of making such distinctions also). On this distinction they found all manner of theories which they then apply in practice, though as you know, the upshot always is that some of it works and some of it decidedly does not — or it only seems to work for a limited time, and is then modified by this or that ...
And how should we expect it to be otherwise? They talk of combustion-processes inside the body. In reality there is not a single combustion-process in the body. The combination of any substance with oxygen inside the body has quite another significance than that of a combustion-process. Combustion is a process in mineral or lifeless Nature. Quite apart from the fact that a living organism is essentially different from a crystal of quartz, what is commonly called combustion in the body is not the dead combustion-process which takes place in the outer world, but is something altogether living, nay, sentient.
Precisely by expressing themselves in this way, and thus leading people's thought in a fixed direction, scientists bring about widespread confusion in practical life. The man who first speaks of “combustion inside the body” is only speaking loosely — in a slipshod way, if you will. If he has the true facts in mind, his speaking loosely will do no harm, provided he still acts correctly, out of true instincts or tradition. After a time, however, the same loosely worded phrase gets taken hold of by the disease of “Psychopathia professoralis,” as I have often called it. They — the professors — transform what at first was only a slight slipshod way of talking into a brilliant theory — I really mean it, brilliant. And when people begin to act according to these theories, they no longer hit off the reality in the very least. The things they then talk of are altogether different from what actually occurs when you have animals to look after. It is a characteristic phenomenon of today. They set to work and do something utterly different — something that does not fit in at all with what is actually taking place in Nature. In this domain especially, we should take pains to observe what the point is.
Let us remember the outcome of our last lecture. The plant, as we saw, has a physical body and an ether-body, while up above it is hovered-around, more or less, by a kind of astral cloud. The plant itself does not reach up to the astral, but the astral — so to speak — hovers around it. Wherever it enters into definite connection with the astral (as happens in the fruit-formation), something available as foodstuff is produced — that is to say, something which will support the astral in the animal and human body.
If you see into the process, you will readily observe in any plant or other entity, whether or no it is fit to support some process in the animal organism. But we should also understand the opposite pole. This is a most important point; I have already touched upon it, but now that we wish to create the foundations for an understanding of the feeding-process, we must bring it out once more with special emphasis. As we are now concerned with the feeding problem, let us begin with the animal.
In the animal there is no such sharply outlined threefolding of the organism as there is in man. True, in the animal also, the nerves-and-senses organism, and the organism of metabolism, and the limbs are well marked — sharply divided one from the other; but the middle, rhythmic organism more or less melts away — at least, in many animals it does so. Something that still comes from the sense-organism passes into the rhythmic; likewise, something that comes from the metabolic organism.
We should describe the animal rather differently from man. For man, we speak quite exactly when we describe this threefold nature of the body; for the animal, however, we should rather speak as follows: There is the nerves-and-senses organization, mainly localized in the head. There is the organization of metabolism and the limbs — organized in the posterior parts and in the limbs generally, yet also permeating the whole body. And in the middle of the creature the metabolism becomes rhythmic — more rhythmic than in man; while on the other hand the nerves-and-senses system also becomes more rhythmic, and the two melt into one another. In other words, the rhythmic part of the animal does not come into being so independently as in man; it is a more indistinct sounding-into-one-another of the two outermost poles (Diagram 18).
Hence, for the animal we should really speak of a twofoldness of the organism — such, however, that the two members meet and mingle in the middle. That is how the animal organization arises.
Now, all that is present as substances in the head-organization is composed of earthly matter. (So it is in man, too, but let us confine ourselves to the animal for the moment). Whatever matter there is in the head is earthly matter. Already in the embryo-life, earthly matter is guided into the head-organization. The whole embryonic organization is so arranged that the head receives its materials from the Earth. There, then, we have earthly substance.
On the other hand, all that we have as substantiality in the organization of metabolism and the limbs — permeating our intestines, limbs, muscles, bones, etc. — comes not from the Earth at all. It is cosmic substantiality. It comes from that which is absorbed out of the air and warmth above the Earth. This is important. You must not regard a claw or a hoof as though it were formed by the physical matter which the animal eats somehow finding its way into the hoof and being there deposited. That is not true at all. In actual fact, cosmic matter is absorbed through the senses and the breathing. What the animal eats is merely for the purpose of developing its inner forces of movement, so that the cosmic principles may be driven right down into the metabolic and limb system— into the claw or hoof, for instance. Throughout these parts, it is cosmic substantiality.
Precisely the opposite is true of the forces. In the head — inasmuch as the senses are chiefly stationed there, and the senses perceive out of the Cosmos — in the head we have cosmic forces; while in the system of metabolism and limbs we have to do with earthly forces — cosmic substances and earthly forces. (As to the latter, you need only remember how we walk; we are constantly placing ourselves into the field of earthly gravity, and in like manner, all that we do with our limbs is bound up with the earthly).
This is by no means a matter of indifference, in practice. Suppose you are using the cow as a beast of labor. It needs its limbs for the work. Or if you use an ox as a laboring beast — it is important to feed the animal so that it gets as much as possible of cosmic substantiality. Moreover, the food which will pass through the stomach must be suitably chosen and arranged, so as to develop copious forces — forces sufficient to guide the cosmic substantiality into the limbs and bones and muscles, everywhere.
Likewise we need to be aware: whatever substances are required for the head itself — these must be got from the actual fodder. The foodstuffs — assimilated, passed through the stomach — must be guided into the head. It is the head, not the big toe, which depends on the stomach in this respect! Moreover, the head can only assimilate this nourishment which it received from the body if it is able at the same time to get the necessary forces from the Cosmos. Therefore we should not merely shut our animals in dark stables, where the cosmic forces cannot flow toward them. We should lead them out over the pastures. Altogether, we should give them the opportunity to come into relation with the surrounding world by sense-perception too.
Think of an animal standing in the dark, dull stable, and receiving — measured out into its manger — what the wisdom of man provides. Such an animal, getting no change in this respect, and it can only get the proper change in the open air — how different it will be from one that is able to make use of its senses, its organ of smell, for instance, seeking its food for itself in the open air; following its sense of smell, following the cosmic forces through its sense of smell, going after the food, choosing for itself, unfolding all its activity in this finding and taking of the food.
Such things are inherited. The animal you merely place at the manger will not reveal at once that it has no cosmic forces; for it still inherits them. But it will presently beget descendants which have the cosmic forces in them no longer. In such a case, it is from the head that the animal first becomes weak. It can no longer feed the body because it is unable to absorb the cosmic substances, which, once again, are needed in the body as a whole.
These things will show you how futile it is merely to give general instructions: “Feed thus and thus, in this case and in that.” We must first gain an idea: what is the value of such and such methods of feeding for the whole essence of the anima's organization?
Now we can go further. What is contained in the head? Earthly substantiality. Cut out this noblest organ of the animal — the brain — there you have so much earthly substance. In man, too, in the brain you have earthly substance. Only the forces are cosmic; the substance is earthly. What then is the function of the brain? It serves as an underlying basis for the ego. The animal has not yet the ego. Let us hold fast to this idea: The brain serves as an underlying basis for the ego, but the animal has not yet an ego. Therefore the animal's brain is only on the way to ego-formation. In man it goes on and on — to the full forming of the ego.
How then has the brain of the animal come into being? Take the whole organic process — all that is going on in there. That which eventually emerges as earthly matter in the brain has actually been excreted; it is excretion — excretion from the organic process. Earthly matter is here excreted to nerve as a basis for the ego. Now, on the basis of this process in the metabolic and limbs system — beginning with the consumption of the food and going on through the whole distributive activity of the digestion — a certain quantity of earthly matter is capable of being led into the head and brain. A certain quantity of earthly substance goes through the whole path, and is at last literally deposited — excreted, separated out — in the brain. But it is not only in the brain that the substance of the foodstuffs is deposited. Whatever is no longer capable of assimilation is deposited already on the way, in the intestines.
Here you encounter a relationship which you will think most paradoxical, even absurd at first sight, and yet you cannot overlook it if you wish to understand the animal organization — and the human too, for that matter. What is this brainy mass? It is simply an intestinal mass, carried to the very end. The premature brain deposit passes out through the intestines. As to its processes, the content of the intestines is decidedly akin to the brain-content. To speak grotesquely, I would say: That which spreads out through the brain is a highly advanced heap of manure! Grotesque as it may be, objectively speaking this is the truth. It is none other than the dung, which is transmuted, through its peculiar organic process, into the noble matter of the brain, there to become the basis for ego-development.
In man, as much as possible of the belly-manure is transformed into brain-manure, for man as you know carries his ego down onto the Earth; in the animal, less. Therefore, in the animal, more remains behind in the belly-manure — and this is what we use for manuring. In animal manure, more ego potentially remains. Just because the animal itself does not reach up to the ego, more ego remains there potentially. Hence, animal and human manure are altogether different things. Animal manure still contains the ego-potentiality.
Picture to yourselves how we manure the plant. We bring the manure from outside to the plant root. That is to say, we bring Ego to the root of the plant. Let us draw the plant in its entirety (Diagram 19).
Down here you have the root; up there, the unfolding leaves and blossoms. There, through the intercourse with air, astrality unfolds —the astral principle is added — whereas down here, through intercourse with the manure, the ego-potentiality of the plant develops.
Truly, the farm is a living organism. Above, in the air, it evolves its astrality. Fruit-tree and forest by their very presence develop this astrality. And now when the animals feed on what is there above the Earth, they in their turn develop the real ego-forces. These they give off in the dung, and the same ego-forces will cause the plant in its turn to grow forth from the root in the direction of the force of gravity. Truly a wonderful interplay, but we must understand it stage by stage, progressively, increasingly.
Inasmuch as these things are so, your farm is in truth a kind of individuality, and you will gain the insight that you ought to keep your animals as much as possible within this mutual interplay — and your plants too. Thus, in a sense, you mar the working of Nature when you take your manure not from your own farm animals, but get rid of the animals and order the manure-content from Chile. Then you are playing fast and loose with things — neglecting the fact that this is a perfect and self-contained cycle, which ought to be maintained, complete in itself. Needless to say, we must arrange things so; we must have enough and the right kind of animals, so as to get enough manure — and the right kind — for our farm. Or again, we must take care to plant what the animals which we desire to have will like to eat instinctively — what they will seek out for themselves. Naturally, here our experiments grow complicated — they become individual, in fact.
Hence, as I said, we must first indicate general guidelines for individual treatment. Much will remain to be tried out. Then useful rules of conduct will emerge; but all of these will proceed from the one guideline: to make the farm, as far as possible, so self-contained that it is able to sustain itself. As far as possible — not quite! Why not? The concrete study of Spiritual Science will never make you a fanatic. In outer life, within our present economic order, it cannot be fully attained. Nevertheless, you should try to attain it as far as possible.
We can now find the concrete, specific relations of the animal organism to the plant — that is, to the organism of the fodder. Let us first see it as a whole. Observe the root, which develops as a rule inside the earth. There the manure permeates it, as we have seen, with a nascent ego-force — an ego-force in process of becoming. Through the whole way it lives in the Earth, the root absorbs this nascent ego-force. The root is assisted in absorbing this ego-force if it can find the proper quantity of salt in the Earth. Here then we have the root. Simply on the basis of the thoughts we have already placed before us, we can now recognize it as that foodstuff which, if it comes into the human organism, will most easily find its way, in the digestive process, to the head.
We shall therefore provide root-nourishment if we must assume that substance — material substance — is needed for the head, so that the cosmic forces working plastically through the head may find the proper stuff to work upon. What will it remind you of when this is said: “I must give roots as fodder to an animal which needs to carry material substance into its head, so that it may have a live and mobile sense-relationship, i.e. a cosmic relationship, to its cosmic environment.” Will you not immediately think of the calf and the carrot? When the calf eats the carrot, this process is fulfilled.
You see, the moment you express such a piece of knowledge — if you are actually aware what a farm looks like, what it is like in practice — your thoughts will turn at once to what is actually done. You need only know that this is the real mutual process.
Let us proceed. Now that the material substance has been conveyed into the head — now that we have served the calf with the carrot — the reverse process must be able to take place. The head must be able to work with will-activity, creating forces in the organism, so that these forces in their turn can work right down into the body. The carrot-dung must not be merely deposited in the head. From what is there deposited — from what is there in process of disintegration — force-radiations must pass into the body. Therefore you need a second foodstuff. Having now served this member of the body, you need a second foodstuff which in its turn will enable the head to fulfill its proper function by the remainder of the body.
Suppose, then, I have given carrot-fodder. Now I want the body to be properly permeated by the forces that are able to evolve out of the head. Now I need something in Nature that has a ray-like, radiating form, or that gathers up the ray-like nature in a concentrated “tabloid” form, so to speak. What shall I use, then, as a second foodstuff? Once more, I shall add to the carrot something that tends to ray out in the plant, and afterwards gathers-in its ray-like force in concentration. So my attention is directed to linseed or the like. Such is the fodder you should give young cattle. Carrots and linseed, or something that will go together on the same principle — say, for instance, carrots and fresh hay. These will work through and through the animal — mastering its inner processes — setting it well on the way of its development.
Thus, for young cattle, we shall always try to provide fodder such as will stimulate the ego-forces on the one hand, and on the other hand assist what passes downward from above — the astral radiations which are needed to fill the body through. Assistance of the latter kind is rendered especially by long and thin-stalked plants, left simply to their own development — that is to say, long grass, etc., that has grown into hay — whatever is long and thin-stalked and goes to hay (Diagram 20).
In agriculture we must always learn to look at the things themselves, and of each thing we must learn what happens to it when it passes, either from the animal into the soil, or from the plant into the animal.
Let us pursue the matter further. Suppose you wish the animal to become strong precisely in the middle region, where the head organization — that of nerves-and-senses — develops more towards the breathing, and on the other hand the metabolic organization also tends towards the rhythmic life, and the two poles interpenetrate. What animals do you wish to become strong in this region? The milk-giving creatures — they must grow strong in this middle part. For in the production of milk precisely this requirement is fulfilled.
What must you care for in this case? You must see that the right cooperation is there between the stream that passes backwards from the head — which is mainly a streaming of forces — and the stream that passes forward from behind, which is mainly a streaming of substance. If this cooperation is taking place, so that the streaming from behind is thoroughly worked through by the forces that flow from the fore-parts backward, good and copious milk will be the outcome. For the good milk contains what has been specially developed in the metabolic process. It is a metabolic preparation, which, though it has not yet passed through the sexual system, has become as nearly as possible akin — in the digestive process itself — to the sexual digestive process. Milk is a transformed sexual gland secretion. A substance which is on the way to become sexual secretion is met by the head-forces working into it and so transforming it. You can see right into this process.
If now we wish the processes to form themselves in this way, we must look around for foodstuffs working less toward the head than the roots, which latter have absorbed the ego-force. At the same time, since it has to remain akin to the sexual force, we must not have too much of the astral in it — not too much of what tends towards blossom and fruit. For a good milk-production we must therefore look to what is there between the flower and the root: that is, to the green foliage: all that unfolds in leaf and vegetable foliage (Diagram 21).
If we want to stimulate the development of milk in an animal whose milk-production we have reason to believe could be increased, we shall certainly attain the desired end if we proceed as follows. Assume I am feeding a milk cow — according to the prevailing conditions — with vegetable leaves or foliage or the like. Now I want to increase the milk production. I say to myself, it surely can be increased. What shall I do? I shall use plants which draw the fruiting process — the process that takes place in flower and fertilization — down into the foliage, into the leafing process. This applies for instance to the pod-bearing or leguminous plants, notably the various kinds of clover. In the clover-substance, manifold elements of a fruit-like quality develop just life leaf and foliage.
Treat the cow in this way and you will not see much result in the cow herself, but when she calves (for the fodder-reforms you introduce along these lines generally take a generation to work themselves out), when the cow calves, the calf will become a good milk-cow.
One thing especially you must observe in all these matters. As a rule, when the traditions of old instinctive wisdom vanished from this sphere, a few things were maintained, just as our doctors have maintained a few of the old remedies. Though they no longer know why, they have kept them on, simply because they always find them helpful. Likewise in farming, certain things are known out of old tradition. People do not know why, but they continue to use them, and for the rest, they make experiments and tests. Thus they try to indicate the quantities that should be given for fattening cattle, milk cattle and the like. But the whole thing turns out as it usually does when men begin to experiment at random — especially when their experimenting is left to mere chance.
Think what happens, for example, if ever you have a sore throat at a place where you are among many people. Everyone who is fond of you will offer you some remedy. Within half an hour you have a whole chemist's shop! If you really took all these remedies the one would cancel the other out, and the only sure thing is that you would suffer indigestion, while your sore throat would be no better. The simple measures that ought to be taken are thus transformed into great complication.
So it is when you begin experimenting with all kinds of fodder. You begin to use something. In a certain direction it goes well, in another it does not. Now you add a second fodder to it, and so you go on, and the result is a whole number of standard fodders, each of which has its significance for young cattle or fattening cattle as the case may be, but it all becomes very complicated, and today no one can see the forest for the trees. They have no longer any comprehensive vision of the relationships of forces which are involved. Or again, the effect of the one thing is such as to cancel the other out.
This is happening very widely, especially among those who have acquired a little learning by their academic studies, and thereupon go out and try to farm. Then they look up their textbooks, or they remember what they learned: “Young cattle should be fed so and so; cattle you wish to fatten should be fed in that way,” and so on. So they will look it all up. But the results will not be very great, for it may easily happen that what you look up in the textbook will clash with what you are already giving of your own accord.
You can only proceed rationally by taking your start from a way of thought such as I have now indicated, for this will very largely simplify the animal's food, and you will gain a comprehensive view of what you are doing. For instance, you can see quite clearly and straightforwardly that carrots and linseed together will work in this way. You do not make a general confusion. You have a clear and comprehensive view of the effects of what you give. Think how you will stand in your farming work if you do things in this way quite consciously and deliberately. Thus you will gain a knowledge, not for the complication but for the simplification of the fodder problem.
Much — indeed, very much — of what has gradually been discovered by experiment is quite correct. It is only unsystematic, lacking in precision. Precisely this kind of “exact science” is not exact at all in reality, for many things get muddled up together and no one can see through them clearly; whereas the things I have here exemplified can be traced right down into the animal organism in their comparative simplicity, in their comparatively simple mutual effects.
Now take another case. Let us look more toward the flowering nature and the fruiting process that arises in the flower. But we must not stop short at this. We must also observe the fruiting process in the remainder of the plant. Plants have a property which endeared them especially to Goethe. The plant always has throughout its body the inherent potentiality of its specialized parts. For most plants, we put into the earth that which appears as potential fruit in the flower. We plant it in the earth so as to get new plants. With the potato, however, we do not do so. We use the “eyes” of the potato. And so it is in many plants: the fruiting tendency is not only there in the flower. Nature does not carry all her processes to the final stage.
The fruiting process, where Nature has not yet carried it to the final stage, can always be enhanced in its effect by processes which are outwardly similar, in one way or another, to the external process of combustion. For instance, if you chop up and dry the plant for fodder, the stuff you get will be more effective if you let it steam a little — spread it out in the sunlight. The process that is there as an inner tendency is thus led a little farther toward fructification.
There is a wonderful instinct in these matters. Look at the world with intelligence and you will ask: Why did it ever occur to human beings to cook their food? It is a very real question, only as a rule we are not prone to question the everyday things with which we are so familiar. Why did men come to cook their food at all? Because they by and by discovered that a considerable part is played, in all that tends toward the fruiting process, by all such processes as cooking, burning, heating, drying, steaming.
These processes will all of them incline the flower and the seed (yet not only these; indirectly the other parts of the plant also, notably those that lie toward the upper region) to develop more strongly the forces that have to be developed in the metabolic and limb-system of the animal. Even if you take the simple flower or seed — the flower and seed of the plant work on the metabolic or digestive system of the animal. And they work there chiefly by virtue of the forces they unfold, not by their substance. For the metabolic and limb-system requires earthly forces, and in the measure in which it needs them it must receive them.
Think of the animals that pasture on the alpine meadows, for example. They are not like the animals of the plains, for they must walk about under difficult conditions. The conditions are different, simply through the fact that the earth's surface is not level. It is a different thing for animals to walk about on level ground or on a slope. Such animals, therefore, must receive what will develop the forces in the region of their limbs, i.e. the forces that have to be exerted by the will. Otherwise they will not become good laboring animals, nor milk-animals, nor fattening animals.
We must see to it that they get sufficient nourishment from the aromatic alpine herbs, where through the cooking process of the Sun, working toward the flowers, Nature herself has enhanced the fruiting, flowering activity by further treatment. But the necessary force can also be brought into the limbs by artificial treatment, notably if it is anything like cooking, boiling, simmering, or the like. Here it is best to take what comes from the fruiting, flowering parts of the plant, and in this way it is especially good to treat such plants as tend from the outset to the fruiting and the flowering — plants, that is to say, which develop little leaf and foliage but tend at once to develop flower and fruit. All that in the plant-world which does not care to become leaf and foliage, but rather grows rampant in the flowering and fruit-bearing process— that is what we ought to cook.
For themselves, too, men would do well to observe these things. If they did so, we should have less of those movements which take their start from people who find themselves — all unawares — upon the downward slope, the inclined plane of laziness. They say to themselves, no doubt, “If I spend the whole day with petty manipulations, I can never become a true mystic. I can only become a true mystic if I am restful and quiet. I must not always be compelled — by my own needs or by the needs of those around me — to be up and doing. I must be able to say to my surrounding world: I have not the energy to spare for all this outer work. Then I shall be able to become a true mystic. Therefore I will endeavor to arrange my food so that I may become a thorough-going mystic.” Well, if you say that to yourself, you will become a raw-food crank. You will have no more cooking. You go in for raw food only.
These things are easily masked; they do not always emerge in this way. If someone who is well on the inclined plane to mysticism of this kind becomes an uncooked-food crank — and if from the outset he has a weak physical constitution — he will make good progress, he will become more and more indolent, i.e. mystical.
What happens to man in this respect we can also apply to the animal. Thus we shall know how to make our animals quick and active. For the human being, however, other things too can occur. He may be physically strong and only afterwards become so “cranky” as to want to be a mystic. He may have strong physical forces in him. Then the processes he has within him — and, moreover, the forces which the raw food itself calls forth in him — will develop strongly, and it cannot do him much harm. For as he eats the raw food he will summon the forces which would otherwise remain latent and create rheumatism and gout. He will summon them to activity, he will develop them and work them and thus grow all the stronger.
Thus there are two sides to every question, and we must realize how all these things are individualized. We cannot give hard and fast principles. This is the real advantage of the vegetarian mode of life. It makes us stronger because we draw forth from the organism forces which would otherwise be lying fallow there. These are, in fact, the very forces that create gout and rheumatism, diabetes and the like.
If we only eat plant food, these forces are called into activity to lift the plant up to human nature. If, on the other hand, we eat animal food from the outset, these forces are left latent in the organism. They remain unused and as a result they will begin to use themselves, depositing metabolic products in various parts of the organism, or driving out of the organs and claiming for themselves things that the human being himself should possess, as in the case of diabetes, etc. We only understand these matters when we look more deeply.
Now let us come to the question, how should we fatten animals? Here we must say to ourselves: As much as possible of cosmic substance must be carried, as it were, into a sack. Oh, the pigs, the fat pigs and sows — what heavenly creatures they are! In their fat body — insofar as it is not nerves-and-senses system — they have nothing but cosmic substance. It is not earthly, it is cosmic substance. The pigs only need the material food they eat, to distribute throughout their body this infinite fullness of cosmic substance which they must absorb from all quarters. The pig must feed, so as to be able to distribute the substance which it draws in from the Cosmos. It must have the necessary forces for the distribution of this cosmic substance.
And so it is with other fattened animals. So you will see: Your fatstock will thrive if you give them fruiting substance (further treated, if possible, by cooking, steaming, or the like) and if you give them food which already has the fruiting process in it in a rather enhanced and intensive degree — for instance, turnips or beets, enlarged already in Nature by a process going beyond what they had in them originally — turnips or beets, that is to say, which by enhanced cultivation have grown bigger than they were in the wild.
Once more, then, we can ask ourselves: What must we give to the animal we wish to fatten? Something which will help, at least, to distribute the cosmic substance. It must therefore be something that tends already of its own accord toward the fruiting nature, and that has received the proper treatment in addition. This condition is on the whole fulfilled in certain oil-cakes and the like. But we must not leave the head of such an animal quite unprovided for. Some earthly substance must still be able to pass upward through this “fattening cure” into the head. We therefore need something else in addition — albeit in smaller quantities, for the head in this instance will not need so much. But in small quantities we do need it. For our fattening animals we should therefore add something of a rooty-nature to the food, however small a dose.
Now, there is a kind of substance — indeed, it is pure substance which has no special function. Generally speaking, we can say, the root-nature has its special functions in relation to the head; the flower in relation to the metabolic and limb-system, and leaf or foliage in relation to the rhythmic system with the substantial nature that belongs to it in the human organism. But there is one more thing whose help we need because it is related to all the members of the animal organization, and that is the salt-nature. Very little of the food — whether of man or beast — consists of salt!. From this salt-condiment you can tell that it is not always quantity that matters, but quality. This is important. Even the smallest quantities fulfill their purpose if the quality is right.
Now, there is one thing of importance I should like to paint out, and I beg you to make exact experiments on this — experiments which could well be extended to an observation of human beings, at any rate of those who incline toward the food question. You know that in modern time (relatively speaking, it is only a short time since) the tomato has been introduced as a kind of staple food. Many people are fond of it. Now, the tomato is one of the most interesting subjects of study. Much can be learned from the production and consumption of tomatoes. Those who concern themselves a little with these things — and there are such men today — rightly consider that the consumption of the tomato by man is of great significance. (And it can well be extended to the animal; it would be quite possible to accustom animals to tomatoes). It is, in fact, of great significance for all that in the body which — while within the organism — tends to fall out of the organism, i.e. for that which assumes — once more, within the organism — an organization of its own.
Two things follow from this. First, it confirms the statement of an American to the effect that a diet of tomatoes will, under given conditions, have a most beneficial effect on a morbid inclination of the liver. In effect, the liver, of all organs, works with the greatest relative independence in the human body. Therefore, quite generally speaking, liver diseases — those that are rather diseases of the animal liver — can be combated by means of the tomato.
At this point we can begin to look right into the connection between plant and animal. I may say, in parenthesis: Suppose a person is suffering from carcinoma. Carcinoma, from the very outset, makes a certain region independent within the human or animal organism. Hence a carcinoma patient should at once be forbidden to eat tomatoes. Now, let us ask ourselves: What is it due to? Why does the tomato work especially on that which is independent within the organism — that which specializes itself out of the organic totality? This is connected with what the tomato needs for its own origin and growth.
The tomato feels happiest if it receives manure as far as possible in the original form in which it was excreted or otherwise separated out of the animal or other organism — manure which has not had much time to get assimilated in Nature — wild manure, so to speak. Take any kind of refuse and throw it together as a disorderly manure- or compost-heap, containing as much as possible in the form in which it just arose — nohow prepared or worked upon. Plant them there, and you will soon see that you get the finest tomatoes. Nay, more, if you use a heap of compost made of the tomato-plant itself — stem, foliage, and all — if you let the tomato grow on its own dung, so to speak, it will develop splendidly.
The tomato does not want to go out of itself; it does not want to depart from the realm of strong vitality. It wants to remain therein. It is the most uncompanionable creature in the whole plant-kingdom. It does not want to get anything from outside. Above all, it rejects any manure that has already undergone an inner process. It will not have it. The tomato's power to influence any independent organization within the human or animal organism is connected with this, its property.
To some extent, in this respect, the potato is akin to the tomato. The potato, too, works in a highly independent way, and in this sense: it passes easily right through the digestive process, penetrates into the brain, and makes the brain independent — independent even of the influence of the remaining organs of the body. Indeed, the exaggerated use of potatoes is one of the factors that have made men and animals materialistic since the introduction of potato cultivation into Europe. We should only eat just enough potatoes to stimulate our brain and head-nature. The eating of potatoes, above all, should not be overdone.
The knowledge of such things will relate agriculture in a most intimate way — and in a thoroughly objective way — to the social life as a whole. It is infinitely important that agriculture should be so related to the social life.
I could go on, giving many individual guidelines. These guidelines are only the foundation for manifold experiments, which will extend, no doubt, over a long period of time. Splendid results will emerge if you work out in thoroughgoing tests and experiments what I have given here. I say this also as a guideline for your treatment of what has been given in this lecture course.
I am in entire agreement with the strict resolve which has been made by our farmer friends here present, namely, that what has been given here to all those partaking in the Course shall remain for the present within the farmers' circle. They will enhance it and develop it by actual experiments and tests. The farmers' society — the “Experimental Circle” that has been formed — will fix the point of time when in its judgment the tests and experiments are far enough advanced to allow these things to be published.
Full recognition is due to the tolerance which has been shown, which has allowed a number of interested persons, not actually farmers, to share in this Course. They must now recall the well-known opera and fix a padlock on their mouths. Do not fall into the prevalent anthroposophical mistake and straightway proclaim it all from the housetops. We have often been harmed in this way. Person who have nothing to say out of a real or well-founded impulse, but only repeat what they have heard, go passing things on from mouth to mouth. It has done us much harm. It makes a great difference, for example, whether a farmer speaks of these things, or one who stands remote from farming life. It makes a difference, which you will quickly recognize.
What would result if our non-farmer friends now began to pass these things on, as a fresh and interesting chapter of anthroposophical teaching? The result would be what has occurred with many of our lecture-cycles. Others — including farmers — would begin to hear of these things from this and that quarter. As to the farmers — well, if they hear of these things from a fellow-farmer, they will say, “What a pity he has suddenly gone crazy!” Yes, they may say it the first time and the second time. But eventually — when the farmer sees a really good result, he will not feel a very easy conscience in rejecting it outright.
If, on the other hand, the farmers hear of these things from unauthorized persons — from persons who are merely interested — then indeed “the game is up.” If that were to happen, the whole thing would be discredited, its influence would be undermined. Therefore it is most necessary: those of our friends who have only been allowed to take part owing to their general interest and who are not in the Agricultural Circle must exercise the necessary self-restraint. They must keep it to themselves and not go carrying it in all directions as people are so fond of doing with anthroposophical things.
This principle, as our honored friend, Count Keyserlingk, today announced, has been resolved upon by the Agricultural Circle, and I can only say that I approve it in the very fullest sense. For the rest — except for our final discussion hour — we are now at the end of these lectures. Therefore perhaps I may first express my own satisfaction that you were ready to come here, to take your share in what has been able to be said and in what is now to become of it by further work. On the other hand, I am sure you will all agree with me in this:
What has here taken place is intended as real, useful work, and as such it has the deepest inner value. But you will bear in mind two things. Let us now think of all the energy and work that was needed on the part of Count and Countess Keyserlingk and all the members of their house to bring to pass all that has come about in this Course. Energy, clear, conscious purpose, anthroposophical good sense, purity and singleness of heart in the cause of Spiritual Science, self-sacrifice and many another thing was necessary to this end. And so it has also come about — I imagine it is so for you all: what we have here been doing as a piece of real hard work, work which is tending to great and fruitful results for all humanity, has been given a truly festive setting by our presence here. We owe it to the way our host and hostess have arranged it all. In five minutes' time you will have another example of their festive hospitality.
All that has been done in this way — last but not least, the cordial kindness of all the people, working in the house — has placed our work in the warm and welcome setting of a truly beautiful festival. Thus, with our Agriculture Conference we have also enjoyed a real farm festival. Therefore we offer Countess and Count Keyserlingk and all their house our heartiest and inmost thanks for all that they have done for us in these ten days — for all that they have done in the service of our cause, and for their kind and loving welcome to us all, which has made our sojourn here so pleasant.