"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." —F. Scott Fitzgerald
Thursday, December 31, 2015
"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you." —F. Scott Fitzgerald
T-shirt of the day: "One Tequila ... Two Tequila ... Three Tequila ... Floor!"
Rudolf Steiner: "Alcohol only arose after the Atlantean epoch to help man to become individualized. It closes man off from his higher capacities and encloses him in himself. But now all civilized people have reached that stage, so that alcohol is an unnecessary evil today. Through its use one loses the ability to get along with others and to understand them. Alcohol is especially harmful for esotericists since its use changes all developed higher forces into forces of the personal ego, repeatedly locks it into itself. By consuming alcohol one prepares a fertile soil for hosts of spiritual beings, just as a dirty room gets filled with flies."
The Evolution of the Earth and Man and the Influence of the Stars. Lecture 12.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 18, 1924:
Rudolf Steiner: Good morning, gentlemen! Perhaps someone has a question?
Question: Why does lightning not come in a straight line? — instead of zigzag. Should it not take a straight line?
Dr. Steiner: So — the questioner thinks that when lightning is released from the air, as I described last time, it ought to come in a straight line. But it takes a zigzag form, and can that be explained? Yes, one can indeed explain it.
Let us consider again the explanation I gave of how lightning actually comes about. I told you that lightning comes out of the overheated air, the overheated universe, the overheated cosmic gas. I said that there is no question of lightning arising from some sort of friction of the clouds. Clouds, of course, are wet, and if you want to produce miniature lightning with laboratory apparatus, everything must first be wiped absolutely dry. It must not be supposed, therefore, that lightning is a true electrical phenomenon that comes about from the friction of dry elements. It is known that when one rubs glass or sealing wax one produces electricity, and so people think that if clouds rub together — well, then there'll be electricity there too. But that is not so. What happens is this: As a consequence of the inner overheating of the cosmic gas, the warmth living in the cosmic gas comes out in the way I have described. Through the fact that the air exerts less pressure toward one side or another, the radiation of the overheated force goes toward that side, and lightning flashes.
Now, let us imagine that we have this happening somewhere. In consequence of the greatly overheated cosmic gas — not clouds — the lightning flashes out. And it is quite correct to think that it should stream out in a straight line.
But you see, it is like this. Picture to yourselves: If an accumulation of heat is present somewhere, it is generally not alone; there are similar accumulations in the neighborhood. In fact, if the Earth is here, let us say, and one looks up there and lightning begins where a concentration of heat exists, then in the neighborhood there are other accumulations: they are not all at one single place. You can imagine, of course, that these accumulations of heat are connected with the Sun's radiations to the various places. Now there are these heat accumulations along the entire path of the lightning, and while it is streaming out it snatches up these other accumulations in its course. So it shines here, then over there, and so on. It takes all the other accumulations with it, and so it moves quite irregularly, and gets this seemingly zigzag formation. The lower it descends, the more it does move in a straight line. There are no longer these heat accumulations; they were higher up. The zigzag of the lightning comes about because it does not arise in one single spot, but from where the heat accumulations are strongest and then it carries the others along on its way. That's similar to when you're out walking and you meet an acquaintance and take him along with you, then the two of you pick up another one, and so on. So that's the story of the lightning.
Now perhaps someone has another question?
Question: Could we hear something about the origin of volcanoes?
Dr. Steiner: That's a question that can't be answered quite so quickly. I will lead you to the point where you can find an answer to it. For if you read present-day books you can certainly find all sorts of ideas on the origin of volcanoes, but if you read older books, lying farther back in time, you find other views, and in still earlier books again other views. People have never inquired into the real origin of the Earth, and so views on volcanic phenomena have changed in the course of time. As a matter of fact no one has been able to form a true idea of how these fire-erupting mountains originated.
One must go very far back if one wants to understand this. Otherwise one cannot grasp how it happens that at certain spots on the Earth fiery, molten masses come out. One will be able to form an idea of it only if one first of all rejects the dictum that the Earth was once a balloon of gas, that it became more and more solid, and that there is fire in the interior which for some reason or other comes out here or there. That is a convenient explanation, but it brings us no nearer to an understanding.
I'll tell you a little story. It's a long time ago, more than forty years, that we made a certain experiment in the laboratory of the geologist Hochstetter of Vienna. He is long since dead. We produced a substance that contained — among other things — a little sulphur. We didn't put it all together, but this is what we did: here someone had a bit of the stuff, there someone had a bit, over there a bit, and so on, and we hurled, we shot the substance, all of us, toward a certain point. In this way there arose a little globe with all sorts of hills which was curiously like the Moon seen through a telescope. Thus at that time in Hochstetter's geological laboratory an experiment was actually made by which a small moon was created. The surface of the Moon as it is seen through a telescope had come out quite wonderfully. The whole thing looked just like a little moon. Above all one could realize that a cosmic body need not originate as gas, but can actually be flung together from all corners of the universe. Nor can we explain our Earth in any other way than by its being thrown together out of the universe.
Now in connection with this I want to explain something that is little spoken of today but which is nevertheless true. You hear it said everywhere, don't you, that the Earth is a globe, has formed itself as a globe. Now actually it is not true that the Earth is a globe! I will explain to you what the Earth really Is. It is only fantasy that the Earth is a globe. If we picture the Earth's true form as a regular solid, we come to what in science is called a tetrahedron. I will draw it for you, naturally only in perspective. A tetrahedron looks like this:
You see there are one, two, three triangles and here in front the fourth triangle. Can you picture it? It stands on a triangle, a triangle is underneath; and on that triangle, the base, are three other triangles; that forms a little pyramid. That is how we picture a tetrahedron. We must be clear that four triangles are joined to one another. We must stand it up on one triangle and the other three range upward like a pyramid. That is a perfectly regular solid.
But now imagine that I round out the surfaces of these triangles a little, then it becomes a little different. Now it stands on what has become rounded but yet is still free. And the sides of the triangles which formerly were straight lines are now rounded too. Can you picture that? So now there arises a form which is actually a tetrahedron become round! And you see, our Earth is actually such a rounded tetrahedron.
This can even be established to the extent of finding the edges, the sides of this Earth-tetrahedron. It is like this: suppose I draw the Earth as it is often drawn, on a flat plane — then here would be North America, here South America, between them Central America; over here we have Africa; here we have Europe. And there is Asia Minor, the Mediterranean, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, in fact Europe. Up here we have Scandinavia. There is England and over there is Asia. So we have Asia here, Africa here, Europe here, and America here.
Now the South Pole is here, and around the South Pole in particular there are many volcanic mountains. There is the North Pole. And now it is like this: we can trace a line that goes from Central America, from the Colima volcano, down through the mountains that are called the Andes, down to the South Pole. It is rounded, but actually though rounded it is this edge of the Earth. Then it goes on from the South Pole, goes over here past Africa to the volcanic mountains of the Caucasus. Then the same line comes over here, past Switzerland, over the Rhine and arrives here.
If you follow this line, which looks like a triangle, you can compare it with this triangle here. And so, if you take this portion of the Earth, it is the base of a tetrahedron.
Just think, the base of a tetrahedron! Now: how do we come to that point there? Well, we have to go through to the other side of the Earth. But I cannot draw that, I would have to make everything round. If I were to make it round, I would come to the point just over there in Japan. Thus if I mark the tetrahedron, here we have Central America, here the South Pole, here the Caucasus, and over there, which one cannot see, would be Japan.
If we picture the Earth in this way, we have it existing in the universe as a rounded-out pyramid that sends its apex over there to Japan and has its base here, containing Africa, South America, and the whole Southern Ocean. So the Earth stands in the universe, curiously, as such a rounded-out tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid. That, gentlemen, is actually still the form of the Earth!
And now if you take these lines that I've drawn forming the tetrahedron, you find that most of the volcanic mountains are located along the lines. You have these frightful fire-belching mountains of which you've often heard over in South America, in Chile and other places, then around the South Pole; and then you have the mighty ones in the Caucasus. And when you come over here, we don't have so many in our part of the continent, and yet it can be shown that the fiery mountains were once here, but are now extinct. For instance, when you drive along the stretch of road from northern Silesia to Breslau, you see a mountain standing conspicuously alone which is still feared by the people of today. If you examine its rocks, you find this dreaded mountain standing there is simply an extinct volcano. Similarly we have extinct volcanoes in many parts of Germany.
And now let us go further. We have only marked out the base. Then we have lines everywhere that go over toward Japan. Yes, and you see, along all these lines one would always be able to find volcanoes on the Earth's surface! You can see that if someone would sit down and draw the most important volcanoes, not on a flat surface, but so that they formed a solid, he would get this shape of the Earth. Strangely, the volcanic mountains give us the lines that make the Earth into a tetrahedron.
So now, if you do not picture the Earth as originally a ball of gas which then became condensed — that's the convenient opinion which people hold — if you explain it as having been formed by substance flung from all sides, then you must admit something else. If the Earth is a tetrahedron, a regular solid, you'll have to explain it by imagining that a great master geometrician with plenty of knowledge had actually pushed the Earth together from outside, along the lines which we still see today. Now imagine that I draw this tetrahedron, that I first fling this triangle in here from the periphery, then this triangle, then this, and then the one up above. I make it as small boys do: they cut out four triangles, tilt them together from outside and then glue them together to form a tetrahedron. And the Earth too has originated like that, it has been flung together as triangles from outside.
Now watch the boys when they paste the triangles together: where they join the sides they must be careful to apply the paste or the glue evenly. As to the Earth, at the places I've shown you — South America, then here toward the Caucasus, and over here through the Alps, and so on — there the Earth was originally “cemented” together! But one finds when one examines the mountains that there it has, so to say, been joined rather badly; the sides don't quite fit together. If in particular we trace the mountains that go over here from the Caucasus through our Carpathians and Alps, we can show from the form of the mountains that they have not yet quite grown together. The Earth actually consists of four pieces flung out of cosmic space and joined together, four pieces which then form a tetrahedron, and along the edges there are still, as it were, places not tightly closed. At these leaky places it is possible for the cosmic heat from the Sun to get into the Earth more than at other places.
Now, when the Sun's power enters into these places beneath the surface of the Earth, they become hotter and get soft — as is always the case when things, even metals, are consumed by fire — and they make an outlet for themselves in the direction of those places which are not properly fastened together. Then through the combined cosmic action of the Sun and the “cemented” places of the Earth there arise these regular volcanoes, the fire-belching mountains.
However, volcanoes are found at other places too. Etna, for instance, and Vesuvius do not, it is true, lie along these edges; where they are, no such line passes through. In fact, the very volcanoes that are not located along the principal lines are especially instructive, for one can learn from them what causes the eruptions to occur.
You see, it can always be shown that when things like fiery eruptions happen on the Earth, they are connected with the constellations, the relation of the stars to the Sun. An eruption can never occur unless at some particular place the Sun is able to shine more strongly than usual because it is not covered by other stars. If it is covered by other stars, as is generally the case, then the sunshine is normal. Starlight is everywhere; one must not think that the stars are not up there during the day, it is just that we don't see them. In the old city of Jena where people had time to do such things, where so many German philosophers taught, where Haeckel lived too, there is a deep cellar with a tower above it, open at the top. If you go down into this cellar in the daytime and look up through the tower it is all dark inside, but you see up above the most beautiful starry sky. When it is daytime, and clear and bright outside, you can see the most beautiful starlit heavens, with stars everywhere.
But when the stars are in such a position that the Sun can develop its heat to full strength, when they do not obstruct the Sun, then the Sun's forces of warmth shine down upon some special places. These are the places where, after the Earth had been fastened together, later volcanoes arose. They came about later. On the other hand, those that lie along the edges of the tetrahedron are the original volcanoes.
Now, sometimes a man who has no place in the ordinary life of science discovers quite useful things in this direction. Perhaps you've heard, or at least the older ones among you, of a certain Falb? He was neither an astronomer nor a geologist nor geographer nor natural scientist, but a former priest who had given up his calling — run away from it! He devoted himself especially to a study of star constellations and whether they really have an influence on the Earth. He came to the opinion that constellations are connected with volcanoes, that when the influence of the Sun is supported by the stars in a certain way, a volcano erupts. He maintained further that floods also come about for the same reason, because the situation attracts water: beneath, the heated mass; above, the water.
And he contended still more: that in the mines the miners suffer most of all from so-called firedamp, that is, when the air in the mines catches fire of itself. He asked himself how this could happen. He decided that for this to happen the stars must aid the Sun activity by giving it full play. Then the Sun shines too strongly into the mine, and the air in the mine ignites. Therefore, said Falb, if one knows about mining conditions, one ought to be able to say when firedamp may be expected in the course of the year. So he made a calendar and indicated when according to the constellations firedamp must occur somewhere. Those were the so-called critical days which he marked in his calendar.
This calendar has been printed many times and Falb's critical days are still there. Now what was to be expected when these days were reached? Either the eruption of a volcano, or an earthquake (an earthquake is a subterranean wave, subterranean overheating), or a flood, or firedamp. Now, gentlemen, I was present once at an amusing little incident. You see, this Falb was very clever, he had been able to light upon these facts, but he was also very conceited, frightfully conceited. As you know, to be learned is no protection from vanity. And the following happened. About forty years ago I was at a lecture given by Falb. He went with great pompousness and a well-pleased expression up to the podium and began his address. He said: Yes, this very day the stars are in a position from which one can expect the occurrence of considerable firedamp. At that moment the door opened and a messenger from the “New Free Press” entered and handed him a telegram. Falb stood up there with his long patriarchal beard and said: “It must be something important if they send it to me straight to the lecture room!” He took out his knife and cut the telegram open and read: “A terrible firedamp has occurred!” Now you can imagine the publicity he got! Falb had just said, “Firedamp could happen today” and the messenger brings the telegram! “You see,” he said, “one gets proofs laid on the table!” Those were his words. But the whole thing smelled of show business. Falb knew quite well that firedamp was due: that was correct. But he went early in the day to the office of the “New Free Press” and left word that if such a telegram came, they should send it immediately to the lecture hall.
That is one of the tricks to which bad speakers gladly resort — though usually in a milder form! I am quite pleased to relate the story so that audiences may be warned to be a little cautious and not simply to accept everything. The clientele that Falb had at that time rustled with silk dresses and tuxedos: it was a very distinguished one. But you should have seen how impressed they were by his performance! However strongly he might have voiced his opinion in words, the audience would never have been so convinced as they were by the entry at exactly the right moment of the messenger with the telegram. People would much rather be convinced through external events than by what can be put into words.
So one can say that at certain places, namely, at the edges of this tetrahedron, the Earth is actually not quite joined together. It is exposed therefore to the cosmic warmth of Sun and stars, and the consequence is that those lines showing active volcanoes can be drawn. Outbursts of volcanic fire can, of course, occur at other spots too.
But now does this imply that the interior of the Earth must necessarily be molten fire? That is what is constantly maintained. Actually there is no other proof of it than the fact that it becomes warmer and warmer the deeper one sinks a shaft into the Earth. Still, one cannot go very deep. Moreover, with this increase of warmth as one descends into the Earth there is likewise an increase of pressure. Whatever might be dissolved by the heat and become fluid is pressed together again by the pressure in the interior. If the Earth were really molten inside then something else would not be in accord. One can consider, for instance, the weight of the Earth. It is naturally hypothetical, since the Earth floats freely in the universe and cannot be weighed. In order to weigh it, one would have to have it on top of another, gigantic Earth, for if there is to be weight there must be something that attracts, that develops gravity. One could calculate how much it would weigh from how it attracts other bodies; in fact, such a calculation has been made. But if it were possible to weigh the Earth one would find that it is far, far heavier than it would be if it were fluid inside. Goethe for this reason vigorously attacked the idea that the earth was molten fire inside.
Now when one knows how the Earth has been created, when one sees that it is really an incompletely fastened tetrahedron, there is then no need to picture it as molten inside and to suppose that at certain times, one wouldn't know why or wherefore, it must suddenly erupt fire — like a moody, hysterical person! If the Earth were molten inside, one would have to fancy that it is actually a little crazy — like a man who is insane and at any sudden moment begins to rage; one doesn't know when the moments will occur. But this is not true of the Earth. You can always show where the warmth comes from: that it comes from outside, that at this moment such powerful heating occurs, not at all very deep in the Earth, that it forces an outlet for itself.
So the fire when Vesuvius or any other volcano erupts originates only when the cosmic temperature has become fiery. It always takes a little time before the effect is seen. The particular constellation of stars, for instance, must first work upon the Earth for a time.
But that also follows from certain facts which I have already related here in quite a different connection. Suppose here is a part of the Earth: the Sun's rays strike upon it powerfully, and underneath, something develops that later seeks an outlet through an eruption or an earthquake.
You see, what I drew first, the powerful warmth going down into the Earth: people don't feel that, because they don't pay attention. At most, a few people go about the place where as yet there is no hint of volcanic activity though the effects of the Sun's activity are already present in the air, and these few have violent stomachaches, others have headaches, migraine, others find that their heart is disturbed. But people put up with all that in a vague fashion and take no notice. But the animals, as I have said in another connection, which have more delicate noses, finer organs in this respect, perceive what is happening and break away. The people, in spite of their stomachaches and headaches, don't know why the animals have become so restless and are running away. But after a few days the earthquake comes, or the volcanic eruption. The animals have fled because they already scented what was coming; human beings are so coarsely organized in this respect that they are not aware of the event until the whole business is on top of them.
You can see from this that something is already happening a long time in advance before the final event takes place. What is happening is the streaming in of a bit of cosmic heat. But you can still put a question. You can say: This cosmic heat only heats the ground, and where the Earth contains substances that are easily inflammable there could of course be ignition ... but why should it all flare up instantly? Here I'll tell you something else. When one goes to Italy, to the places between Rome and Naples, particularly to the neighborhood of Naples, and to the islands and peninsulas on the coast, the guides always delight in showing one the following experiment. They take a piece of paper and light it and hold it so — in a moment smoke begins to come out of the Earth! The Earth smokes — why? Because the air becomes warm from the burning paper and so becomes lighter and expands. The warmth caused by the Sun's heat streams out of the Earth as smoke. This is very interesting to see. One lights a piece of paper and instantly the Earth smokes at that spot.
Now think of that enlarged to giant proportions: the Sun heating not only the ground below, but also the air above — and you have Vesuvius. And when the latter has once established itself — well, then the beginning has been made, and the process continues in places that are especially favorable to it. It is interesting to realize that those very things that take place on Earth irregularly are caused by the whole of cosmic space.
Now I told you that when we flung out that sulphur substance during those days in the geological laboratory, we produced something that really looked like a little moon. And so when one observes the real Moon, whom our little moon actually resembled, one gets the idea that it too has been flung together out of the universe. That is one idea one gets.
The other idea is established through spiritual scientific investigation, namely, that the Moon has actually been thrown together in the cosmos, mainly from the Earth. What does that imply? Well, we did that too in the laboratory. First we threw together such a cosmic body out of substances. Then we attacked it from all sides, flinging material against it from outside, and lo and behold — it became more and more like a moon. And what has one got then? Well, one has the whole process. The main mass of the Moon was cast out from the Earth, and once it was there, fine matter from every part of space was flung against it. Fine matter is always present in the universe — it falls down in the meteors — it is always being flung out. And so one has the origin of the Moon. These things are all connected.
The development of science, you know, is sometimes remarkable. A monument stands today in Heilbronn — certainly it is rather dreadful as a work of art, but still it stands there and represents Julius Robert Mayer. If you hear about him in science today, you learn that he was a pioneering genius through his researches in the 40's of the last century into the nature of the action of heat. Julius Robert Mayer was born in Heilbronn, practiced there as a doctor, and went about without being particularly noticed. The scientists of the time paid no special attention to him. And although today he is described everywhere as a highly gifted pioneer in physics, at that time when he sat for his medical examination at Tubingen he failed it. If you made investigations, you would come on the remarkable fact that the majority of men who later became geniuses failed earlier in their examinations. And this was also the fate of Julius Robert Mayer. By the skin of his teeth, he managed to get through and become a doctor. But no one considered him remarkable during his lifetime — in fact, quite the contrary. He became so enthusiastic about his discovery that he talked of it everywhere. Then people said that his mind was wandering and put him in an asylum. His own generation put him in a madhouse, while posterity looks upon him as a great genius and puts up a monument to him in his native town.
It was Julius Robert Mayer who as a result of thought and investigation asked how it was that the Sun, which gives us so much heat, does not become cold. He said to himself that it does not become as cold as it ought to become after always giving out warmth. He thought therefore that comets, an immense number of comets, must continually rush into the Sun, hurled toward it from the universe. They are very fine, tenuous bodies, but they rush into it. It is true that they rush into the Sun. The Sun is very different from what the physicists of today imagine. They would be very astonished if they were to approach it: they would not find fiery gas but they would find something that causes any earthly substance to be sucked in and disappear. The Sun is an empty space that exerts suction. It is not a globe of gas. It resembles a pearl in the universe, a suction globe with nothing in it that one looks for, but which continuously absorbs this mass of comets. The fine etheric structures of the universe, which are almost spiritual, are continuously being sucked in by the Sun as nourishment. We still see today, therefore, this dashing against the Sun. This should draw our attention, gentlemen, to something important.
You see, when one arrives at the fact that the Earth is really a tetrahedron — well, if one has been obliged to study such forms and to note the number of sides and corners, one realizes that a certain knowledge of geometry is necessary to understand how to construct them. They don't come about so simply. Boys enjoy doing it, making these tetrahedrons, cubes, octahedrons, icosahedrons, dodecahedrons, the five regular solids. The boys like to put them together from sheets of cardboard, gluing the pieces together, but one needs geometry for it. Now the Earth is formed in this very way out of the universe — formed from knowledge of geometry, in this sense, not formed through calculation, but with knowledge — for it is regular! You can infer from this that there is really geometry in the world, that everything is in accord with geometry. That is true. Real science shows us something that I have always stated, namely, that thoughts are spread out in the world, thoughts are everywhere, and only those people don't find them who have none themselves!
It is very praiseworthy, is it not, to be a free and independently thinking person? And yet it is slightly ridiculous to find the expression “freethinker,” which has appeared in modern times, in the 19th century. Thinking independently: that is very good, but many in their freedom have misused this expression “freethinker.” And the men who have felt themselves to be the freest thinkers were just those who had the fewest thoughts, who simply repeated what other people had said. An Englishman made a delightful remark: he said, “Free thought does not mean that people have thoughts, but that they are free from thought” — a remark that has been much quoted. What is a freethinker? A freethinker is one who is free from thinking! Well, in science one must endeavor not to develop such freedom from thought, or else nothing will be achieved. The actual form of the Earth could long ago have been discovered — the fact that it is not a completely spherical cabbage-head, but that it has something of the shape of a tetrahedron!
Knowledge of the Earth is related to knowledge of man. Man imitates the universe in his own form. He copies the universe in his head, and so the head is round up above like the round universe. Below, where the jaws begin, there are quite remarkable structures: they come from the triangular earth. In the jaw formation you find triangles everywhere, they come from below, from the triangular Earth. With both, men copy the universe: they have more or less rounded heads above, and the Earth-forces reach up from below.
Look for it sometime. You will find in most varied ways man's tendency (and animals) to triangular formation in the jaws; this comes from the Earth. Forces work upward from the Earth and imprint the triangle into him. And the universe works downward from above and molds the rounded form. It is very interesting!
That is knowledge that may be gained if one penetrates genuine science correctly. If one is free from thought, then one talks all sorts of nonsense. And in our time all sorts of nonsense is talked; that cannot lead to an understanding of what things are in their reality.
So, gentlemen, let us speak further about this next Saturday.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
|The Book of Kells, circa 800, showing the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John|
A Gigantic Butterfly Crop Circle formation (530 Meters x 450 Meters), the Biggest Crop Circle Ever, has appeared in the Netherlands, near a town in southern Holland called Goes, on the 8th of August 2009.
Rudolf Steiner, to the workmen building the second Goetheanum. October 8, 1923:
Well, gentlemen, have you had any ideas? If not, I will talk to you about something which links up quite well with matters I have already discussed.
In observing Nature — as a rule people do so rather without thinking — the moment we begin to reflect about the things of Nature, so much points to the presence of the spiritual that our curiosity cannot fail to be aroused regarding the actual working of this Spirit, we cannot help becoming curious about it. In the case of the beavers' lodge and other such things I have repeatedly drawn your attention to the amount of spiritual activity to be found in Nature. Now today I am going to point to something further.
At a certain time in summer when man walks in the open and sees the lovely iridescent play of butterfly wings, he does not stop to query the origin of this manifold many-colored fluttering of butterflies moving so freely.
You see, this is even of great practical significance. In fact, I am convinced that were we to attempt new experiments in the field of aeronautics, here in our Goetheanum precincts, they would not be staged as they are when based on materialistic science. Experiments are continually being made based on the flight of birds, dragonflies, and so forth, but experimenting along the lines of butterfly flight has never been considered. Aviation, however would only assume its right form could it on a large scale base its experiments on the butterfly flight. But people today do not think of this, because they are unable to discern the true facts. Even in regard to the practical side of life these things are only grasped rightly when the spiritual is considered.
Now today I am going to point out something regarding butterflies which does not really belong to aeronautics, but which will shed light on the subject.
You see, a butterfly does not start life as such, but evolves by means of a very complicated process. We will start from the fact that when autumn approaches the time is now ripe for the butterfly to lay an egg. Thus the starting point of the butterfly is the laying of an egg. It is not a butterfly that comes out of this egg. What emerges from this egg is not an ordinary butterfly — the swallow-tail, for instance, which looks like this (drawing) — but something which is commonly called a grub; in other words, a caterpillar is hatched. Now this caterpillar is hatched from the egg. Here is its head, here at the other end the sting (drawing), and it crawls around lazily. Outwardly it appears to be a sluggard. Inwardly, however, it is far from sluggish, for from its own body it spins threads out of which it forms a hard covering. Gradually the caterpillar completely disappears into this covering, and disintegrates; thus it spins itself a cocoon which it attaches to a tree where it hangs. It first attaches the threads and then vanishes into the cocoon. So we first have the egg, then the caterpillar, and now the chrysalis — for that is its name. This chrysalis remains suspended for a certain length of time, after which an opening appears in some part of it and the butterfly emerges.
Thus before the butterfly exists as such, four things are required. First of all the egg, secondly the caterpillar, thirdly the chrysalis, and fourthly the actual butterfly. The egg is laid in some place. The caterpillar crawls around, the chrysalis remains quite still, and the butterfly gaily flutters forth into the air. It can then lay another egg and the same story is repeated in the course of the year. This is what happens.
Now, people see this and learned folk explain it by observations under a microscope or other such means. The matter, however, is not so simple. One has to take into account where and how the egg can live, how the caterpillar and chrysalis live, and finally how the butterfly lives. If the egg is to reach the stage of hatching out a caterpillar, it above all requires moisture — often just a drop in which a little salt is dissolved. No egg can thrive without a certain amount of humidity in which salt is present. For this reason the butterfly's instinct must lead it to lay the egg where it will find moisture containing some salt. Otherwise nothing happens. What I am telling you in regard to butterflies applies also to bees. It is likewise necessary for bees to lay their eggs where salt — even if very little — has penetrated. It suffices for mist to seep in, as mist always possesses a certain amount of saline moisture. Nature comes to the rescue. Such things do not always dawn on human understanding. Nature indeed is far cleverer than man. The egg, however, always requires moisture containing a certain amount of salt. This is necessary to the butterfly, too, as it enables the caterpillar to be hatched. So the egg just requires this moisture containing salt; it has no eyes, so sees nothing and just lives for itself in a world of total darkness. The moment the caterpillar is hatched it meets the light and remains in it. It has some organs, has reached the light, and now becomes quite another kind of creature than it was as an egg. The egg has entirely transformed itself into a caterpillar. Inner sensation is produced in the caterpillar because it is exposed to the light and has sense organs. Such things are made evident in the case of certain phenomena. You have no doubt noticed the astonishing fact when a lamp has been lit that all sorts of insects flutter around in the room, feel drawn to the light, and are even so stupid as to hurl themselves into the flame and get burnt. Why is this? Of course this does not happen in the case of the caterpillar, but it has the same urge. I may say that the caterpillar is drawn to the sunlight by the same urge as that felt by the insect who plunges into the candle flame, only the caterpillar cannot rise to the Sun. Could it rise from the ground and fly to the Sun, very soon we should no longer have any caterpillars. They would all fly up and away to the Sun. For that is their urge; only gravity binds them to the Earth. So when we see a caterpillar we know that it really has the urge to follow the light. This is impossible, so what does it do?
Just imagine that here is the beam of light and here the caterpillar (drawing). As the caterpillar crawls along, it spins a thread in the pattern of the beam of light. It spins in exact accordance with the beam of light, and at night when there is no light it rolls up the thread. It spins it out in the sunlight and rolls it up again at night. In this way it forms its sheath. The caterpillar completely surrenders to the light, it dies in the light. Just as the insect surrenders to the flame, so the caterpillar dies into the light, but being unable to reach the Sun it does not enter the sunbeam. However, it spins its own body into these threads and so forms the cocoon — as threads spun in this way are called. The silkworm spins the silk according to the light, so when you take its silk you can certainly say: This is spun light! Earthly matter is spun in the pattern of light rays, and when you come across a chrysalis you are really seeing pure sunlight spun around this earthly matter in the pattern of the sunbeam. We have now reached the point where spun light surrounds the chrysalis, and naturally something different occurs from what occurs in the case of the insect which burns by plunging into the flame and so can accomplish nothing further. In the short time the insect takes to hurl itself into the flame, could it but spin such a cocoon modeled on light, a new animal would arise from the fire. This is only hindered by the burning. By reason of this it is interesting to learn the real impulse of the insect which flutters around the room at night and plunges into the flame. Its urge is indeed to propagate itself and perish in order to re-emerge as a new being. Only it deceives itself because it cannot create a cocoon so rapidly. The caterpillar, however, has the time to create this sheath, to hang it up, so the Sun forces, imprisoned inside, can now create the butterfly which is then able to fly out and enjoy the activity of a Sun-being.
This is the way to observe things in Nature. First, quite a significant idea is implied in what I have told you. One might think that the insect by plunging into the flame just has the urge to perish, whereas this is not the case. It wants to reappear in another form. It would fain be transformed by the flame. This is always so in death. Death does not annihilate, but when it comes about in the right way it transforms the creature. This is the first thing we see. The second is the deep connection between all things in outer Nature. The butterfly you see is created out of light, but light had first to take up matter, form a case and be turned into threads inside the chrysalis. All animal entities are created out of light. This applies to the human being as well, by reason of the fertilization of the female ovum. A sheath encloses the light within the mother's body, so the human being is really created by this light. So the possibility arises for man to be born out of light. Thus we see how the butterfly arises from light which has first been imprisoned.
Now, the butterfly flutters about in many different colors. These colors are seen to be prevalent where the light is most effective. In regions where the birds have wonderful colors the sun has greater power. What effect is produced by the action of imprisoned sunlight? In every instance, color is produced, and this applies to the butterfly as well. The butterfly owes its color to the action of imprisoned light. The butterfly is understood only when viewed as a complete creature of light, which light is responsible for its manifold colors.
But you see this cannot be accomplished by the Sun alone. The matter stands thus: In the case of the egg, we see that moisture and salt play their part. Salt is earthy moisture in water. So we can say that to thrive, the egg needs earth and a little water. The caterpillar creeps into the light. By nature the caterpillar cannot thrive in just earth and water (in other words, dissolved chalk and water) but it requires moisture, water, and also air. This moisture and air the caterpillar demands is not merely the physical substance required by the egg, but in this moisture lives what is known as ether — what I called the ether-body in referring to the human being. The caterpillar acquires an ether-body through which it breathes. This ether-body enables it to take in the spiritual element present in air. The egg is still entirely physical, whereas the caterpillar already lives in both physical and etheric, but this it finds difficult as it contains far too much earthly matter. When the content of the caterpillar comes into contact with the light, one sees that it spins the light out of itself in the form of a cocoon. The caterpillar has an urge toward the light, but it is held back by the strong forces in it. It cannot deal with this task. Its urge is to soar, to pour itself into the light and to live there. So what does it do? Well, it isolates itself, envelops itself in its sheath along with the sunbeams. In the chrysalis the caterpillar altogether isolates itself from the physical earth forces. Inside the chrysalis where the grub has vanished, astral forces are now present — no longer earthly or etheric forces, but astral forces which are entirely spiritual and live in imprisoned light. Imprisoned light always contains spiritual astral forces, and these create the butterfly. As the butterfly consists entirely of astral forces it can now fly about in the air, which was impossible for the caterpillar. It can follow the light. Being no longer subject to gravity, the butterfly can simply follow the light. Through its surrender it has eliminated gravity, to which it is no longer subject. So it can be said that it has matured as far as the ego. It is an ego in which we see the butterfly flying around. We humans have our ego inside, whereas that of the butterfly is outside. The ego is actually light and is responsible for the butterfly's color.
In thinking this over, there is something that must be clear in your minds. You are continually saying “I” to yourself. What does this signify? Every time you say “I” to yourself a little flame lights up in your brain, only it is invisible to ordinary sight. That is light. When I say “I” to myself I kindle this inner light. In saying “I,” I kindle the selfsame light that colors the butterfly's wings! It is really most interesting to note that when I say “I” to myself, could I allow this “I” to expand over the whole world of Nature, it would be light. It is only my body that keeps this “I” imprisoned. Were I able to let it expand, this ego, this light, would permit me to create real butterflies. The human ego actually has the power needed to create real butterflies and insects in general. You see, men imagine everything to be so simple, but in olden times when people had knowledge of these things, they spoke accordingly. In ancient Jewish times a word such as Jahve had the same meaning as “I.” In old Hebrew, Jahve could be pronounced only by the priest, because he had been prepared to understand its significance. For as he spoke this word he saw himself surrounded by a flight of butterflies. If he failed to do so he would know that he had not spoken with true inner feeling. But when he pronounced the word with right inner feeling, he saw actual butterflies. He could not impart this to others, however, for it would have unbalanced their minds. He had first to prepare himself for such an experience. It is nonetheless true.
Well, gentlemen, how can this be explained? Just picture a large eiderdown filling the space between the reading desk and the point where I am standing. The down inside is rather sparse. So from where I stand I try to push on toward the desk, pressing the down together. But I am unable to reach the desk: I have to stop halfway, because I cannot compress the down any further. I cannot reach the desk, but can feel pressure when I lean against the eiderdown. In the same way, gentlemen, you have the urge to express the “I” — in fact to produce real butterflies, because the ego consists of light. But this you cannot do. Instead, you feel the resistance just as I do when I press forward. This is due to your thoughts. Your thoughts impede you from creating real butterflies by means of light. The ego thinks thoughts, and these thoughts are really just pictures of the butterfly-world.
You see, the same thing would happen today as in ancient Jewish times when just anyone who said Jahve could have seen the whole of the butterfly-world. People would have said: “Of course he is crazy!” It would moreover have been true had he been too immature to behold spiritual things. But today if one states that the “I” and light are identical, that light when imprisoned creates butterflies, and that the same thing in our specially adapted brain creates thoughts, again people will say: “The man is mad!” All the same it is true, and this is just the difference between truth and mere madness! So when we see the bright butterfly in the air we must realize that the same impulse works upon us when with the right inner feeling we say “I.” Neither the butterfly nor even the higher animal can say “I,” for in their case the ego works from outside. When you see a lion, it is the animal's buff color that its ego works upon from outside. The whole world of nature is responsible for the lion's existence. Because we think from within outwards we do not acquire our coloring from outside, but acquire from within the color of our skin, which, in painting, it is very hard to reproduce. Our “I” with the help of the blood is responsible for giving our body this wonderful human tint, only reproduced in painting when one succeeds in mixing and blending all the colors correctly. You see Nature is forever at work on the creature, but she works in a spiritual way. I have told you here that there must be a transition from moisture containing air to light. Now here is the chrysalis living in air and light; as caterpillar it lived in water and air; here as chrysalis in air and light; then it shuts itself off more and more from the light which is imprisoned, and it turns to the astral, which now works upon it.
Just take another look at this: caterpillar and chrysalis. Now think of an animal not able to spin threads from its own body, Let us imagine a special kind of caterpillar which, having become such, has the urge to reach the light but is unable to do so because its body cannot spin threads. The animal cannot turn its body into one capable of spinning threads outside. The caterpillar really spins itself to death. It ceases to be, for its whole body is consumed in the spinning. An empty framework is all that is left. But suppose you had an animal that did not possess the physical substance with which to spin. What will the creature do if it is in this plight, if exposed to strong light? It cannot spin a cocoon for itself. What does it do then? It will do the spinning inside its body, and what it spins will be the blood vessels! The blood of such an animal which lives in the air is inwardly spun, just as the butterfly, or rather the caterpillar, spins the cocoon outside. We should then have an animal which as it lived in the air-water element would have a blood system suited to that element. If it lives for a time in the light it alters the form of its blood vessels; they become quite different. It now spins them inside its own body because it cannot spin outside. Now let us make a clear picture. Imagine there is an animal that breathes through gills — as it must in water — and that this animal moves in the water by means of a tail. Then his blood vessels extend into gills and tail. Thus the animal swims in the water, where it can even breathe. The fish has gills, with which it is possible to breathe in water. But imagine the animal often rises to the air, gets out on the bank, or the pond itself dries up. Then it is more exposed to the light and loses the watery element. New regions appear where it must have light and air instead of water and air. What does the animal do then?
Now look — I will draw this with dots. The animal withdraws the blood vessels from the gills, which increasingly vanish, and it spins these blood vessels in here. The animal spins its own blood vessels, and those which were directed to the gills are now inserted here. The blood vessels formerly belonging to the tail are withdrawn, and thus feet are grown. The blood vessels formerly in the tail now go to the feet, enabling them to walk, and they are spun differently from those in the tail. You can see this in Nature — this is a tadpole, and that a frog! The frog starts life as a tadpole with tail and gills, and can live in water. When it reaches the air it inwardly performs what the caterpillar does outwardly. The tadpole, which is a frog able to live in water, spins a network out of its own blood system. This spreads out in its body, and what once formed part of blood vessels and gills now becomes lungs. Where gills once were, we now have lungs, spun there by the animal. In place of the tail we have feet and, as the movement of the blood has already evolved a heart, these feet move by means of the blood circulating from heart to lung. So the same path from water and air to air and light, followed by caterpillar to chrysalis, is also taken by the frog in its elements of air and water. In this case, however, air penetrates, as the animal must be exposed to both air and light. Light and air create lungs and legs, whereas water and air create fish tails and gills.
The fact is that activity not only takes place within the animal, but the whole cosmic environment always plays its part as well.
What attitude is taken by the scientists? What did we do in trying to make our picture? Well, gentlemen, what we have done is to look at the world. We have viewed the world as it is and have observed Nature! What does the scientist do? Generally speaking he takes scant notice of Nature when he seeks to discover these things. Instead, he starts by going to an optician and ordering a very powerful microscope. It will not be taken out into the world of nature, where it would be of little use, but will be shut up in a room where butterfly eggs will be laid. The scientist has little feeling for the butterfly fluttering in the light. He puts the egg on a specially prepared plate and observes it through the microscope (drawing). He keeps his eye on it and takes note of what happens to the egg after he has dissected it. Nature no longer acts, but the scientist cuts up little bits and examines the particles flattened out on a piece of paper under the microscope. These tiny particles cut with a razor blade are examined, and investigation is based on just that. This is how investigations are often made today. Think of a university lecture. The professor assembles as many people as possible into his study and allows them in turn to view what he has dissected. Of course, he often takes them for outings as well, but has little to say about what exists out-of-doors because he does not know much about it. His entire knowledge consists in what he sees under the microscope after having chopped up little bits and pieces. What wisdom does he acquire in this way? He discovers everything already present in the egg only in infinitesimal quantity. Well, gentlemen, that is all one can find when one begins by chopping it up with a razor blade and examining it under the microscope! One forgets all that is active outside in air, light, and water. We just have the little specimen all ready and place it under the microscope. It is impossible to investigate in this way. All one can say is that the butterfly lives in the open, and here under my microscope I already have the whole butterfly in miniature.
Today people no longer believe what follows, but formerly they would say: Here we have a woman called Annie who has a mother called Maria. Now Maria gave birth to Annie. Very well, but the entire Annie was already present in the ovum inside the mother Maria. So we must imagine it thus: here is the ovum of Anna and here the ovum of Maria in which is Anna; but Maria herself derives from Gertrude, who is Annie's grandmother. Now if Annie's ovum was contained in Maria's, it must also have been in that of Gertrude. Now Annie's great-grandmother was Katie; so the ovum of Annie, Maria, and Gertrude must have already been present in that of Katie, and so it goes on right hack to the first ovum of all, which is Eve's. So people said — it was of course the easiest solution — that a person alive today was already present in the egg-cell of Eve. This was known as the theory of pre-formation. The theories we still have today are just a little more nebulous. They no longer reckon on going back to Eve, but the idea is identical, and they have not really progressed if they say: The whole butterfly is already present! And light, air, and water — which, after all, play their part — are no longer considered.
You see, when one considers the scientific method pursued by the professor who takes people into his study to demonstrate these very learned matters — which in regard to Nature's activities are mere folly — one realizes that, after all, light, air, and all the rest should be taken into account! The professor ignores all this and enters his dark room where artificial light is introduced, when possible, so that daylight may not disturb the microscope. And the thought comes to us: Good gracious! He still believes in the egg as containing everything; and present-day science just dismisses all the rest. It is all shelved and has nothing left to do. Contemporary science no longer has any knowledge of what works in air, light, and water; it knows nothing at all about it. You see, this is something which already sorely rankles in our social life — this fact that on the one side we have a science that really disregards the entire cosmos and only has eyes for what can be seen through the microscope and, on the other side, a State that takes no interest in a pensioner nor has further use for him beyond paying his pension. The same thing applies in the case of the scientist who extracts means of nourishment from Nature, but no longer understands its working and only concerns himself with the microscope, in other words just with parts. Science today really regards the whole cosmos as an idler who has been pensioned off. This is a dreadful state of affairs, for the masses are unable to see any further. The general public says: these are the people who ought to understand such things. One already thinks of turning tiny children into scholars, and they are sent to school to be taught. From then on today they make great efforts to learn. Up to the age of twenty-seven or twenty-eight they keep on studying; surely what they acquire must be the truth! Naturally, the general public cannot form an opinion and allows itself to be guided in these matters by the “learned,” and has no idea that what is taught no longer has any connection with Nature. Nature is referred to as someone now “on the shelf.” Thus the whole of our spiritual life is being swamped, and the time has now come when we must emerge. We do not progress, for the simple reason that the general public finds it easier to accept what it hears. The truth today is told only by Anthroposophy! Nowhere else will you hear what I have just told you. Nobody will say such things. The general public simply pays no attention to them any longer. Anyone saying them is considered mad. It really is mad that this should be so! It is not the really mad who are considered so, but anyone speaking the truth is deemed mad. People really view this the wrong way 'round.
In this connection I will tell you another little story. There was once a medical commission that arrived at the entrance of a lunatic asylum, where they wished to do some research. They found a man by the door who received them in such a way that they took him to be the director or the doctor in charge. So they said: Will you be so kind as to take us around your cells and explain everything? So the man at the door took them around the cells, explaining each case, saying: Here is a mental case who has remarkable visions and hallucinations along with epileptic fits. In the next cell he explained that this patient suffered from abnormal impulses of the will. He described it all quite clearly. They then came to the genuine lunatics who suffer from obsessions. You see, he said, here is a case who is always being pursued by ghosts, and here another who is pursued by human beings, not ghosts. Now I will take you to the worst case we have. So he took them to the greatest lunatic of all and said: This man suffers from the fixed idea that he is the Emperor of China. Of course this means that ideas have solidified in his head. Instead of these ideas just remaining as thoughts, in his case they have solidified. He explained this with great precision and added: But you must realize, gentlemen, that this is nonsense for I myself am the Emperor of China!
You see, he had explained everything. He had led them around, but instead of leading them to science he had led them by the nose. For he himself was mad. He had told them that the other man was mad because he believed himself to be the Emperor of China, whereas he was that himself! The Commission had been conducted round by a complete lunatic.
Thus where science is concerned it is not always possible to discern whether someone is mad or not. You would be surprized by the cleverness of some things lunatics tell you when you come into contact with them. For this reason the Italian natural scientist Lombroso has stated that there is no hard and fast distinction between genius and madness. Geniuses are always slightly mad, and madmen always possess a slight amount of genius. You can read about it in the little book called “Genius and Madness” published in a popular edition.
When one is sane of course he can distinguish between genius and madness. But today we have reached the point where whole books can be found — such as Lombroso's — where science itself states that it is impossible to distinguish genius from madness. Of course this state of affairs cannot continue, or spiritual life will be completely swamped. Nature, now neglected, must once more be reckoned with. Then one will notice the development from the egg to the caterpillar, and from the caterpillar to the chrysalis. One will see how light is imprisoned there, as in us it is imprisoned: the gaily colored butterfly darting forth. This is what I wanted to link with what we have already discussed, so that you may see how light contains creative spirit. For the worm or caterpillar has first to disappear for the butterfly to arise. It arises inside where the caterpillar has perished. The spirit creates. In every instance matter must first be destroyed and vanish, thus enabling the spirit to create the new being. This same thing applies to humankind. Fertilization signifies that matter has first been destroyed. A minute quantity of this destroyed matter remains, and here spirit and light create the ego in man.
If you give this a little thought you will grasp what I have told you. Instead of going on blindly, observe the tadpole and the frog and realize why the latter has a heart, lungs, and feet, and why the tadpole can swim in water. All these things are interconnected. The matters we shall be studying further will show you that a genuine science which understands them can arise only out of Anthroposophy.
Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors' eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
In Life-Threatening Times
You spirit of my life, guarding companion,
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.
Du Geist meines Lebens, schützender Begleiter,
Sei Du in meinem Wollen die Herzensgüte,
Sei Du in meinem Fühlen die Menschenliebe,
Sei Du in meinem Denken das Wahrheitslicht.
Sei Du in meinem Wollen die Herzensgüte,
Sei Du in meinem Fühlen die Menschenliebe,
Sei Du in meinem Denken das Wahrheitslicht.
Steiner translation by Robin Mitchell. Thank you, Robin!