From Beetroot to Buddhism
X. Creating an astronomy based on the science of the spirit
5 May 1924, Dornach
Good morning, gentlemen! Has anyone thought of something for today?
Mr Erbsmehl: I wanted to ask why it is that people look at the starry heavens the way they do today when the ancient Babylonians looked at it in a very different way.
Rudolf Steiner: This question makes it possible to say something about the great change that has come in the way we look at the world. Dr Vreede 57Dr Elisabeth Vreede (1879–1943), member of the first Council of the General Anthroposophical Society and leader of the Section for Mathematics and Astronomy. is giving a course on astronomy here, and one can see how difficult it really is to cope with all the calculations and the mathematics.
To get clear about these things we must first of all realize that the people who lived in earlier times really were much more spiritual still than people are today. For quite a long time people still knew about effects that occur in nature that are really quite unknown today. I'll speak about a few things that go in this direction. It is impossible to understand what the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians sought to achieve with their science of the stars unless we know certain things that really are quite unknown today.
Rousseau still told the following story, for instance.
58This refers to a passage in H.P. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled:
'Deleuze has collected, in his Bibliothèque du magnetisme
animal, a number of remarkable facts taken from
Van Helmont, among which we will content ourselves
with quoting the following as pendants to the case of the
bird-hunter, Jacques Pélissier. He says that "men by
looking steadfastly at animals oculis intentis for a quarter
of an hour may cause their death; which Rousseau confirms
from his own experience in Egypt and the East, as
having killed several toads in this manner. But when he at
last tried this at Lyons, the toad, finding it could not
escape from his eye, turned round, blew itself up, and
stared at him so fiercely, without moving its eyes, that a
weakness came over him even to fainting, and he was for
some time thought to be dead."' (Paris 1817-18, Vol. I,
Pélissier, Jean Jaques (1794–1864), Due de Malakoff, French military leader who served in Spain, in the Morea and in Algeria. French ambassador in London 1858-9, later governor of Algeria.
The Rousseau referred to was not Jean-Jacques Rousseau He said that in Egypt, which does of course have a warmer climate, and we have heard strange things about it at our last meeting, he was able to make toads be immobile by looking at them in a certain way, staring into their eyes, so that they could not move at all. They were paralysed. This is something people have always been able to do in warmer climates such as Egypt. Rousseau was able to paralyse the toads and also kill them. He later wanted to do the same thing in Lyons. A toad was coming towards him. He looked at it, stared at it, and lo and behold! he himself was paralysed. He could no longer move his eye and was paralysed as though dead. People came and called a physician and he was given viper venom, a snake venom which got him out of the seizure, so that he was saved. The tables had been turned. You see, you only have to go from Egypt to Lyons and influences that come from creatures simply turn into their opposite.
We are thus able to say that there are influences connected with the human will, for what we had there was the activation of the human will. There are such influences, and these powers exist. For you see, something that existed a century ago still exists today and will continue to exist for as long as the earth continues. People no longer want to know about these things, however, and take no interest in them. But you see, gentlemen, this also relates to other things. To understand certain things we must take account of the place where they are done. It means we must consider the geography, in a sense. This is not the ordinary geography of today, for that only refers to ordinary things and not to influences going to and fro between toads and human beings.
Let me give you another example that goes in this direction. You see, van Helmont, a scientist living in the seventeenth century, 59Helmont, Jan Baptiste van (1577–1644), Flemish physician, chemist and physicist. still knew many of the things people used to know in the past. That earlier knowledge really only came to be lost completely in the nineteenth century. In the seventeenth century it was still quite strong, with the decline starting in the eighteenth century. Nineteenth-century people thought they were the first to be really clever!
Van Helmont was wondering how one might get to know more than is possible with the ordinary human intellect. Nowadays people do not give any thought to how one might know more than is possible with the ordinary human intellect, for they believe the human intellect can know everything. But van Helmont, who was a physician, did not think much of this human intellect. He wanted spiritual knowledge.
At the time, however, it was not yet possible to gain spiritual knowledge by developing mind and spirit the way we now try to do in anthroposophy. Humanity had not yet got that far. Van Helmont therefore used even earlier methods, and he did the following, though I would not advise anyone to copy him. You can't. And it would no longer have the effect it had in those times. Van Helmont did still do it, however.
You see he took a plant, a poisonous, medicinal plant. 60Monkshood, Aconitum napellus. See van Helmont's Demens Idea § 12. It is prescribed for certain diseases. He took it. Being a physician, he knew that this plant cannot be eaten, for it would kill one. But he took a quick lick at the root tip, the lower part of the root. He described the state he got into as follows. He said he felt as if his head had been completely cut out, as if he'd grown headless. He had completely lost his head. Of course, his head did not fall off, but he could no longer feel it being there. He was then no longer able to have the knowledge that came through the head. But his belly region began to function as if it were a head. And lo and behold, he received great enlightenment in the form of images, something we call imaginations in anthroposophy today, taking the form of images coming from the world of the spirit. This suddenly changed the whole of his life, a terrific change, for now he knew: It is possible not just to say things about the world of the spirit out of the intellect but really and truly to see the world of the spirit. It was not that he was not thinking by means of the nervous system which is present in the human limbs and metabolism; no, he saw, truly saw, the world of the spirit. He thus received imaginations of the world of the spirit.
This lasted for two hours. After those two hours he felt a little dizzy. Then he was well again. As you can imagine, this changed his life significantly; from this time onwards he knew that it is possible to see the world of the spirit. He also knew something else. He knew that the head with its thinking is an obstacle to seeing the world of the spirit.
We don't do what van Helmont did, which is to take a lick at a plant root — though there are some people who think we do, which, of course, is nonsense — but mental exercises are used to turn off the head way of thinking. The head is there only to receive what is perceived, seen, with the rest of the human organism. The same process is therefore brought about by using one's mind which van Helmont brought about by very ancient methods.
Now I won't tell you everything that would be required to tell you once again about training in the science of the spirit. That can be done on another occasion. But I am telling you this because of the question Mr Erbsmehl has asked. The two things I have told you about are connected with the influence of the stars. Today people completely refuse to believe that the stars have any influence, and no attention is therefore paid to these things.
Van Helmont found his life completely changed. He had enjoyed the experience and therefore wanted to repeat it, and he took several more licks at the tip of this plant root. But he did not achieve the same result.
What does it mean, that he did not succeed again? You see, it means that on the later occasions van Helmont did something or other that was not quite the same as before. Van Helmont himself could not explain it. Now I cannot, of course, tell you — read van Helmont yourselves and you'll find what I am going to tell you now — when it was that van Helmont took that first lick at the plant root, for he did not give the date. But in the light of what we know, through the science of the spirit, it is possible to say the following.
You see, the first time van Helmont took a lick at that root tip there must have been a full moon. And he did not take note of this. Later he did not take his licks at full moon, and then it did not succeed. Something stayed with him from that first time; he was again and again able to get a glimpse of the world of the spirit. But he never again experienced that enormous sudden change.
Being a seventeenth-century person, he no longer knew that this depends on the moon. He thought it was entirely due to the plant root. But in earlier times people knew this very well. And because of this people of earlier times were very much aware that the stars have a definite influence on the lives of people, animals and plants.
To investigate how such things happen we would have to say to ourselves: We may not eat poisonous plants, but we do eat plants, and also the roots of plants. And whereas poisonous plants can only be used medicinally, the other plants, which are not poisonous, are used for food. You see, gentlemen, it is like this. When you eat the root of a plant, this is under the influence of the moon just as much as a poisonous root is. The moon influences the growth of plant roots. This is also why certain plant roots are very important for people with a particular constitution. As you know, there are creatures living in the intestines, in the digestive organs; these are worms, a serious nuisance. Beetroot is a good food for people who easily get worms. When the beetroot gets to the intestine the worms get upset; they are paralysed and are then eliminated in the stools. You can see, therefore, that the root definitely has an influence on the life of these lower animals, the worms. Beetroot does not poison us but it poisons the worms. And again the situation is, and you can find this out, that plant roots eaten at full moon have greater power to drive out worms. This is certainly something that should be taken into account.
Now you see, we might say: When we study the root of a plant, the situation is that the plants give us something that has a powerful effect on the system of metabolism and limbs. People who have certain illnesses may even be helped a great deal by giving them a root diet, arranging things in such a way that the diet is taken at the time of the full moon and not at the time of the new moon.
Now you see, everything we are thus able to observe in plants also has importance for human beings, for human reproduction and growth. Children who have a tendency to stay small could also be brought on a bit with such a root diet, so that they'd grow better; only it needs to be done when they are young enough, between birth and the seventh year of life. Moon forces have a powerful influence on everything in the plant world and on anything connected with reproduction and growth in the animal world and the human world. But we need to study the moon not just by looking at it through a telescope but by studying what it brings about here on earth. People of learning among the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians — they were called initiates then — knew exactly: this plant is under the influence of the moon in such a way, this one in another way, and so on. They would not speak of the moon as a mere spherical body of ice up there in cosmic space. They saw the moon's influence everywhere. And the moon's influence is mainly apparent on the earth's surface. It does not go deeper. It goes just far enough to stimulate the roots of plants. It is not down in the earth itself.
You can find proof that the moon forces do not go down into the earth if you talk to people who go for a swim in the moonlight, for instance. They'll soon come out of the water again, for they feel as if they are sinking. The water is pitch black. The moonlight does not enter into the water, it does not go in more deeply anywhere, it does not connect with the earth. And so you see that the situation is such that animals and plants are under an influence of the moonlight that does not act from the earth but only from its outermost surface and as far as the roots of plants. This gives you your first information about the starry heavens. Let us now move on to the example I gave of Rousseau who was able to paralyse and indeed kill toads in a hot climate but was himself paralysed in the temperate region, in Lyons. What was behind this?
Well, gentlemen, you only have to consider this. When the sun shines on the earth, which is a sphere, or almost a sphere, the sun's rays are almost vertical in the hot region. Their effect is different there from the way it is in the temperate region where they come in at an angle, a very different angle. And just as growth and reproduction in plants and humans are under the influence of the moon, so are man's inner animal forces, which come to expression in the look of the eyes, under the influence of the sun. These animal forces, which are actions, depend on the sun. The sun's powers thus make it possible that people can easily fascinate, paralyse and indeed kill toads in Egypt, whilst they have to submit to the influence of the toads in the temperate regions. This therefore depends on the powers of the sun.
And you will also know that it is sometimes harder to think, that the whole inner life gets harder at times, and sometimes it gets easier. That is due to Saturn, depending on its position at the time.
The stars thus influence everything that happens in human, animal and plant life. Only minerals are the result of earth activities. A science that limits itself to the earth therefore cannot give real understanding of the human being. Nor can we know what the stars do if we do not look at their activities.
Just imagine — it is no longer so bad today, but it could happen in the past — that someone is a great statesman, if you like. One might have asked the people living in the same house, people who cooked his meals, like the cook, for instance, what the man did. The cook, who had no interest in the skills of statesmanship might well have said: 'He eats breakfast, eats his midday meal and his evening meal; otherwise he does nothing at all; he goes away the rest of the time, and apart from that he does not do anything.' She simply would not have known what else the man did.
Modem scientists also speak only of things they can calculate with regard to the stars. That is all they know. People of earlier times were interested in what else the stars were doing. And they therefore had such knowledge of the stars. They knew that the moon had a connection with the plant element in man, the sun to the animal part of man, and Saturn to the part of man that is wholly human. And so they would go on.
They would say to themselves: The sun therefore has a relationship to the animal in man. When the sun shines down vertically, people are able to have a strong influence on animals in the hot region.
Now you see, people in Europe have a strong relationship to horses, for example; but it can never be as close in Europe as it is with the Arabs, that is in the hot region, for you cannot have that relationship between people and animals in Europe. It has to do with the sun's rays coming down vertically, with the sun's actions.
Take this further, gentlemen. In Babylonia and Assyria people knew that certain influences, certain effects came from the sun. And they would observe the sun [drawing]. They said to themselves, there is the Lion constellation, and there, let us say, the Scorpion. Now there is a time of the year when the sun is in the Lion, that is, it covers it up, and one sees the Lion behind the sun. At another time the sun covers up the Scorpion, or the Archer, or some other group of stars.
The Babylonians and Assyrians knew that the effects people have on animals are strongest when the sun is in front of the Lion; they grow weaker as the sun moves on and is in the Virgin or the Scorpion. So they knew not only that the planets relate to what human beings do, but also that there was a relationship to the position of the sun — in front of the Lion or the Scorpion — for then these things would change.
What do people do today? They simply calculate: The sun is in the Ram within the zodiac, in the Bull, in the Twins, in the Crab, the Lion, the Virgin, the Scales, the Fishes and so on. They calculate the length of time when it is in that sign of the zodiac, and so on. They know that the sun is in the Fishes on 21 March but they do not know any more than that. The ancient Babylonians and Assyrians still knew, for example, that the human head is most free when Saturn is in a constellation called the Pleiades. They knew all this. They could easily judge it, for they lived in a hotter region than we do and developed a science through which they understood the whole human being in terms of the heavens.
So if we are able to say that this science was of that kind, that related to the human being — well, that science has gradually been forgotten. They would look at the planetary system, and also the fixed stars. They knew that depending on whether a star was in this or that position this would mean one thing or another for human life. They knew that when the sun was in the Lion it would have the strongest influence on the human heart.
The thing is like this. People then tried to see how it was with the minerals. They said to themselves: Only the earth acts on the minerals. But the minerals in the earth have not simply come into existence now; they have developed much earlier, and in earlier times they, too, were plants. You know that coal has come from plants. But not only coal but all other minerals have once been plants. Then the moon had an influence on them, and in even earlier times also the sun, and before that also Saturn. And when they wanted to know which mineral had in earlier times been under the influence of the sun they would test the effect minerals had on people. They found, for instance, that when the sun is in the Lion and has that powerful effect on the heart, you get the same heart action as if you give someone gold to take. They concluded from this that the sun once had a great influence on gold. Or when Saturn was in the constellation of the Pleiades, the biggest influence was on the human head. It came free. And they then tried to find out which mineral once, when it was still animal — for minerals were animals before they were plants — was most under the influence of Saturn. They found that this was lead. And so they discovered that lead also has the effect of making the human head more free. So if someone gets dull in the head, and this is because certain digestive processes that really should no longer happen in the head are done with the head, because of an illness, one must give him lead.
And so you have a metal for every planet. And the Babylonians and Assyrians would use this sign for the sun: ☉. And they also used this sign for gold. They knew, therefore, that now that we have the earth, the stars no longer influence the minerals, but they did do so in the past. They wrote the sun and gold like this: ☉. They would not write 'lead' either, but use the sign: ♄, which means both Saturn and lead. No one would have dreamt of writing 'Saturn' or 'lead' in ordinary letters in those old times. If they wanted to write it, they would put this sign: ☽. To write 'silver' they would put this sign: ☽. It meant both moon and silver. Thus the earth, in so far as it is metallic, was also seen in relation to the stars.
Well you see, gentlemen, that we really do not know very much about the human being and his relationship to the universe unless we are able to consider such things.
Let us move on. These things were generally known in antiquity. The thing is like this. When Christianity first spread, that knowledge existed also in the more southern parts of Europe. A book about the natural world still exists that comes from the early Christian centuries. It says many of these things. Today we have to know it properly again, otherwise we cannot sort out the confusing statements, for it is already fairly confused. But there is still much of the old wisdom. Then came the time when Christianity became a matter for the intellect only, giving up all else in favour of dogma. It was the time when all the old knowledge was eradicated in Europe. Between the fifth and the eleventh or twelfth centuries, everything was done to eradicate the old knowledge. And that has been largely successful. For, you see, it was like this. People who worked with the old knowledge in ancient Greece, Rome, Spain, that is, in southern regions, were already quite ruined in soul and body. The history of Rome at that time is really quite terrible. People's morals had completely deteriorated. They still had the old knowledge, but were no longer able to remain human beings, and we have the figures of absolute rulers like Nero or Commodus. 61Lucius Domitius Nero, Roman emperor 54–68. Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus (161–192), Roman emperor 180-192.
Commodus was a Roman emperor of whom I can tell you the following. Like all Roman emperors he was an initiate. The question is, what does 'initiate' mean in this case? It was like a title given to someone today. Every Roman emperor was automatically considered to be an initiate, because he was an emperor. This does show that knowledge was highly esteemed in those days. Only, except for Augustus, 62See note 20. the Roman emperors did not actually have that knowledge. But they did enter into the mysteries; they were even able to initiate others. At a certain level of initiation, the person to be initiated had to be struck on the head. This was a symbolic act. Emperor Commodus struck someone so hard that the individual fell down dead. This could not be punished, since it had been the emperor Commodus who did it. And the way they were as 'initiates', so they were also as human beings.
Further to the north lived peoples who were still completely uncivilized at the time, though later they developed the central European culture. But the ancient Germans later conquered Italy, Greece and Spain. Only those who worked with pure logic, using only the intellect, were able to keep their end up. That alone was to be dogma. The rest was to be disregarded. Thinking was limited to the most superficial level. And so it happened that the old knowledge was eradicated in schools and monasteries everywhere. And we can see how something of that Babylonian knowledge only reached Europe surreptitiously, as contraband, as it were. But it did not get far. In Babylonia that knowledge was still retained for a relatively long time.
Greek imperialism continued right into the Middle Ages in Constantinople. And you see, gentlemen, strange figures would often appear there. We sometimes see Polish Jews here with their caftans and ancient scrolls. They are not always well regarded but are profoundly learned in Judaism. Such figures would also arrive in Constantinople at the time when all knowledge was being eradicated. They would bring mightily large parchment scrolls on which many things were written. Now you see those parchment scrolls were taken from them in Constantinople and opened up. And so everything that came from Babylonia and Assyria was stored in Constantinople. No one paid any heed to it. And in Europe everything was eradicated. It was only when the empire perished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and later in medieval times that the parchments became available again, and all kinds of people would pinch them. They would then move around Europe. This is the source of everything people deciphered in those scrolls — not scholars at that time, but people of no great learning.
And so a little bit of knowledge spread abroad again in the Middle Ages. This little bit of knowledge served as a stimulus for others, and there could not have been a van Helmont, a Paracelsus, 63Paracelsus, Philippus Aureolus (1493?–1541), Swiss physician and naturalist, originally named Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim and known as 'the father of medicine'. and so on, if those people had not pinched the parchment scrolls, brought them to Europe and sold them for large sums of money. In this way, some things did reach Europe again. And quite a few secret societies still live on these things today. There are all kinds of orders — Freemasons, Odd Fellows, and so on. They would not have any knowledge if some had not come to Europe with the parchment scrolls which were sold for large sums of money at that time.
But people did not think much of that knowledge. A learned canon such as Copernicus 64See note 29. would not go to the people who had those scrolls. That was not done. You would have lost respect. And because of this the old knowledge also lost all respect. People like Copernicus then established the body of knowledge that is our modern science.
But something very odd happened then, gentlemen. The cream of the jest is that Copernicus established a particular science of astronomy, and it was a fact that he no longer knew the things people had known before, just as people do not know them today, but the people of later times were unable to understand even what he had said. Two of his theses were understood, the third was no longer understood. If one understands the two theses of Copernicus, one believes the sun to be at the centre, with Venus, Mercury, the earth and so on moving around it. That is taught in every school today. But if you understand the whole of Copernicus it is not like that at all, for Copernicus himself pointed out that there you have the sun [drawing], behind it Mercury, Venus, here the earth, and so on. In reality all of this moves through the universe in this kind of spiral movement. You can read about this in the works of Copernicus if you wish. So we have the strange situation that whilst Copernicus showed contempt for the old knowledge, people of more recent times did not understand him either. Some are now beginning to understand Copernicus, that is, they realize that he had three and not two theses. The third was difficult for people to understand. And so astronomy has gradually become what it is today — mere sums and calculations.
Now as you can imagine, the knowledge that remains from the past was not gained the way we want to gain knowledge today. We have to gain it in full clarity of soul today. The ancients had more instinctive ways. And it is really no longer clear what the ancients meant by knowledge.
An interesting example happened a few years ago. A Swedish scientist 65Svedberg, Theodor (1884–1971), Swedish chemist, wrote a book on matter in 1912; 1926 Nobel Prize winner. was reading an old book on alchemy. It said all kinds of things about lead, about silver — if you put together lead and silver, this happens, if you add gold, this happens, and so on. What did the scientist do? He said: 'This is what it says. Let's try it.' And he repeated these things in his laboratory, taking lead the way it is today, silver the way it is today, processing them with fire, as the book said — and nothing came of it! Nothing could come of it, for what he read were those symbols. He thought: "The symbol ☉ means gold; so I'll take some gold and process it chemically. This sign ♄ means lead; so I'll take some lead and process it chemically.'
Now the terrible thing was that the man, the alchemist whose book the Swedish scientist was reading, did not mean the metals in this case but the planets. He thought if one mixed sun forces with Saturn forces and moon forces — he was referring to the human embryo at this point — if sun and moon forces acted on the child in the womb, particular things would happen.
The Swedish scientist was therefore trying to do in a retort with the physical metals something which in the work of the old alchemist referred to the developing embryo in the womb. And that could not work out, of course, for he should have been considering development in the womb. Then he might have discovered what it was about. So you see how little the true nature of that old knowledge is understood today.
All this will show you how Mr Erbsmehl's question needs to be answered. The way of answering is really that we realize that whilst everything in modern science is good and right and proper, so that one can exactly calculate the position of a star and its distance from another star, one can look through a spectroscope, see the colours in the rays of light and draw conclusions as to the chemical composition of the stars, we have to study again how the stars influence life on earth. And it would be wrong to do it the way many people do today, simply taking the old books. It would of course be easy just to take those old books and find out from them what people no longer know today. But it does not serve, not even in the case of Paracelsus, for people do not understand him any longer if they read his works with present-day eyes. Instead we must learn to discover again how the stars influence human beings. And this is only possible through the science of the spirit, anthroposophical science of the spirit.
There one comes to study again not only the position of the moon but how the moon relates to the whole human being. You come to see that in 10 lunar months, 10 times 4 weeks, the child in the womb experiences the influence of the moon, experiencing it in such a way that the full moon is experienced 8 or 9 times during this period. The child is floating in the waters, and is therefore quite a different kind of creature before it is born, protected from the forces of the earth. This is the most important thing, that it is protected from the earth's forces and is above all under the influence of the moon. It is of course also under the influence of the other stars.
You see, that is what should happen, that at our universities and schools, even at primary schools in so far as it is possible, things are studied in a very different way, that above all the human being is studied, the human heart, human head, and in conjunction with this the stars. And at the universities one should first of all give a description of how the very tiny human seed develops into an embryo in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th week and so on. This we have, this description exists, but not the other description, of what the moon is doing during this time. We can only have a science of physical human development if on the one hand we describe what happens in the womb and on the other hand describe the doings of the moon.
And again, we can only properly understand the changing of the teeth, for example, in around the 7th year, if we not only describe how there is a milk tooth, with the other tooth growing beneath it, pushing up behind it, but have a sun science again; for this depends on the sun's forces.
Again, today people only refer to purely physical processes as human beings gain sexual maturity. But those processes depend on Saturn; we need a Saturn science. And so it is not possible today to describe each thing by itself the way it is done today. Then you get what happened in a hospital in a large European city. Someone came to this university hospital thinking he had a disease of the spleen. So he asked: 'Which department should I go to with a disease of the spleen?' He was told to go to some department or other. Unfortunately he also mentioned in passing that he had a liver disease, and he was told: 'You can't have that here, you need to go to another hospital, which is for people with liver diseases; we only have patients with diseases of the spleen.' He thus found himself between the two piles of hay, like the ass in the well-known story. The two piles were the same size, looking exactly the same. This is a famous picture logicians have produced for freedom of will. They said: What does an ass do when it finds itself between two piles of hay that are the same size and have the same scent? About to decide for the one on the left he thinks: the one on the right tastes just as good. About to decide for the one on the right he thinks: the one on the left tastes just as good. And so he goes to and fro and finally dies of hunger! That was the situation of the man with two illnesses. He did not know where to go and might well have died in trying to decide whether he belonged to the department for liver diseases or the department for diseases of the spleen.
I am just mentioning this in order to show that today everyone knows only about a very small piece of the world. But that means one cannot really know things today. If you want to know something about the moon you have to go to an observatory and ask the people there. But they know nothing about embryonic development. There you have to ask a gynaecologist, an expert in women's diseases. Yet he'll know nothing of the stars. The two things go together, however.
This is the great misery with modem knowledge, that each knows a piece of the world and no one knows the whole. This is also why science is so terribly boring when it is presented in public lectures. It has to be boring, of course, gentlemen, if people tell you only a little bit about something.
Let us assume you want to know what a chair looks like that is not here where you are, and someone tells you about the wood; but you want to know how the chair is made. You'll get bored when someone just tells you about the wood. And it is boring when you study anthropology today, which is the science of the physical human being, because nothing is said about what really matters. And if it ever is mentioned, it does not relate at all.
The science of the stars will only be as it should be when we combine it with knowledge of the human being. And that is the crux of the matter. This is the way in which I can answer your question properly today. It really is true that one needs to understand such important things as those I have told you about Rousseau and van Helmont, things that exist and cannot be at all understood in earthly terms. People have become materialistic even in the use of words. What did people call it when they spoke of someone being able to paralyse animals by looking at them? They called it magnetism. Yes, but later the word magnetism was only applied to iron, to the magnet. And when people speak as scientists today they say one should limit the word 'magnetism' to iron, and not abuse it. Charlatans will still speak of magnetizing people; but they have no real idea of what they are talking about. You need a science of the spirit to be able to see through such things.