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  The Solanaceae - I

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By: Wilhelm Pelikan
The Solanaceae are an important family. Among them are medicinal plants with powerful actions, and also many poisonous plants. The num­ber of species in this family is about 1700. The poison produced by these plants is just as characteristic of the family as their morphology; the expe­rienced analyst is able to identify an unknown plant as one of the Sola­naceae from the chemical nature of the poison it contains, just as a botanist with a feeling for form is able to do from the external form of the plant. The type comes to expression in physical substance as well as in physical form.

This brings us to the mystery of why poisons develop in the plant world. In earlier chapters, some aspect or other has been mentioned of certain areas where a solution to the mystery may be found; but as the Solanaceae are poisonous to such marked degree, we will attempt, at this point, to consider more fully the nature of this mystery.


The plant world is the great nourisher of all that lives. Through it, all higher forms of life on earth are given sustenance. At the same time the plant also has need of the kingdoms that lie above it. It is "animal-depen­dent", for example. I discussed this in general terms in the introductory chapters on archetypal relations between plant, animal and man, 1 and also considered it in some detail in the chapters on the Papaveraceae 2 and on carnivorous plants. 3 It is all a matter of give and take in this world, as Goethe once put it so neatly.

Now it would seem that this gracious law of life is contravened in the case of poisonous plants, plants which threaten death to those who come to them for nourishment.

One explanation which has been offered is that every living being could continue to exist only by defying an environment that was indiffer­ent if not hostile. The battle for survival, fought on all fronts with no quarter given, is said to have forced some plants to find their own way of ensuring continued existence, by producing poisons, just as other plants used thorns and prickles, deterrent colors, symbiosis with aggressive insects, or whatever the weapon might be.

Measures of this type, taken by nature to protect her creatures, become null and void, however, when a poisonous plant comes face to face with an animal which through adaptation and selection in the struggle for sur­vival has become immune to its poison. It has been shown that insects may become immune to poisons with extraordinary rapidity, even to the most powerful pesticides the chemical industry can produce. And even the most poisonous plants have animals that feed on them with impunity. Non-poisonous plants greatly out-number poisonous ones; surely this demonstrates that this great majority survives perfectly well with no weapons whatsoever. Grazed meadows are more flourishing than un­grazed ones. Experience has more than clearly shown that life comes forth in superabundance, and with all its riches can well afford to let every level of life give itself in sacrifice, to provide the foundation for a higher form of life, whilst still retaining sufficient for its own needs. It is by this very act of sacrifice that it then receives, from the higher forms of life, the things which uphold and assure its own existence. The "gentle law" rules throughout life on earth; all forms of life exist with and for one another, on a basis of give and take. "One must yield up one's own existence, in order to exist" — this statement made by Goethe refers to the mystery of human development, but it also applies to the kingdoms of nature.

Ich danke dir, du stummer Stein,
und neige mich zu dir hernieder:
Ich schulde dir mein Pflanzensein.

Ich danke euch, ihr Grund und Flor,
und buecke mich zu euch hernieder:
Ihr halft zum Tiere mir empor.

kh danke euch, Stein, Kraut und Tier,
und beuge mich zu euch hernieder:
Ihr halft mir alle drei zu Mir.

Wir danker dir, du Menschenkind,
und Lassen Fromm uns vor dir nieder:
weil dadurch, dass du bist, wir sind.

Es dankt aus aller Gottheit Ein-
­und aller Gottheit Vielfalt wieder.
In dank verschlingt sick alles Sein.

In gratitude, silent stone,
I incline myself towards you:
I owe to you my life as plant.

In gratitude, soil and flower,
I stoop down towards you:
You helped me to attain animal life.

In gratitude, stone, plant and animal,
I bend down towards you:
Together you helped to make Me.

In gratitude we also, child of man,
We kneel in homage down to you:
For we are here because you are.

Divineness in the simple,
Divineness in the manifold
    let echo forth their thanks.
In gratitude all being is entwined.

Thus Christian Morgenstern, in his poem Die Fusswaschung (Washing of the Feet), expresses insight into the nature of man as well as into nature herself.

The answers which natural scientists have been giving to this day, on the question of the essential nature of poisonous plants, have thus failed to satisfy. Basically, such answers merely serve to demonstrate the inade­quacy of the questions asked. One of the fundamental insights in the Goethean way of looking at nature is that with regard to nature one should never ask "Why," but rather "How." So the question is not why the bull has horns, or the bee its venom. What we need to grasp is how, out of the whole formative-forces nature of those two organizations, the devel­opment of a horn, or of a sting, arises. We must not endow nature with human purposiveness and intentions, for that leads either to banality — say, that the tail of the lizard is so marvelously well designed to amputate itself, in order to let the animal escape to safety if gripped by that tail — or else to a strange mysticism which tries to reduce to the common human standard the powers which create the universe.

We must observe nature and become convinced, in our inmost heart, of the validity of the law which states that the life and existence of every single creature, of every species, rests securely upon many acts of giving and taking, that a thousand different threads, some visible, some deeply hidden, harmoniously interlink each species with all other levels of life. Having grasped this, we may then direct our attention to the relations between plant and animal. The poisonous plant is poisonous to the animal; it withdraws from the general pattern of give and take, the strength of freely giving virtue, which is so much a part of plant nature. Poisonous plants are not, of course, toxic in relation to the normal plant world; unhin­dered and undiminished, all kinds of other, non-poisonous plants grow up around them. One aspect in the nature of the poisonous plant must there­fore be a relation to the animal world which contravenes the normal rela­tion between plant nature and animal world.

The poisonous plant forms poisonous substances; they are produced by the life-process of the plant, and bear the imprint of its specific nature, for each family of poisonous plants has its own specific poisons. Again we must avoid that misleading question as to why. This question gave rise to the thought that those substances — for must they not have a purpose? — were reserves for future growth; but then it was found that complete removal of the parts of the seed containing poison did not have any effect whatsoever on germination. If we inquire into the how of poison forma­tion, we find that life produces them, but only in order to eliminate them. The class of plant poisons we are specifically considering in this chapter on the Solanaceae, the alkaloids, a class including some of the most powerful toxins in the plant world, are substances discharged from metabolism. They are combined with plant acids to form salts and eliminated in insolu­ble form into dead and dying cells and tissues. They drop out of the anabolic current of life. The plant, then, does not need these substances. What it does need are the processes in which they are the waste. The poisons are connected with catabolic activity.

The plant poisons have been separated out from anabolism, and this may also occur where anabolism has "gone astray". The poisons are wholly in material form, they may be isolated, analyzed, crystallized and their formulae established; in short, they have all the characteristics of dead matter. The life-bearing substance of plants, living protein, the womb from which all plant matter arises, resists all attempts to define its nature in terms of matter. It cannot be analyzed, nor synthesized. Protein is inevitably broken up and killed if one analyzes it. All life is always whole, it may be separated into parts, but never be put together again from its components. Each component remains a component only for as long as the idea of the whole lives within it. Once this is gone, only fragment remains, not a component. The fragments may then be analyzed or syn­thesized by modern chemical methods. Today they are certainly known — 27 amino acids. Some of these amino acids show a striking resemblance to plant alkaloids. This points to natural processes of dying off, or at least devitalization, which from living protein produce substances that are broken fragments, or else interfere with anabolism to such effect that "dead" matter is formed, like the alkaloids for example. It is not the con­structive, anabolic plant life which produces them, but rather something which infiltrates into this plant life as an opposite, paralyzing principle which finally causes death. This "something" must, however, have a lot to do with the plant species; for alkaloids related in their chemical composi­tion are found in related plant species. The Solanaceae, for example, pro­duce closely related poisons in the deadly nightshade, the henbane, the thorn-apple, the mandrake, and in scopolia; this type of poison appears in no other plant family. In the same way the alkaloids of the Papaveraceae, of poppy and celandine, of fumitory, blood root, prickly poppy and fumaria, are similar to each other and quite typical of the Papaveraceae.

Plant poisons thus obviously give expression to an "inner form", a form which is part of the essential nature of the plant, and proper to it, just as the external form does, which finds expression in shape, growth, color, scent, etc. One may be called the impress, the other the expression of one and the same essential being.

What are the processes which produce the inner form, the form impressing itself in the development of poison?

The lower plants which are given up wholly to vegetative life, the mosses, algae, and ferns, are almost entirely nontoxic;** they certainly con­tain no alkaloids. The more the plant world advances into the develop­ment of strong flowering processes, the more are poisons produced. The Liliaceae, Ranunculaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Papilionaceae, Umbelliferae, Rubiaceae, Solanaceae and Scrophulariaceae are families with many, many poisonous species. All these plant families stand out with highly intensive and typical flowering processes. The tropics with their proliferating superabundance of blossoms produce many times more poisonous plants than our latitudes. The vegetation of the far north, on the other hand, and the flora of high altitudes, are almost free from poisonous species. Plant families with inconspicuous flowers, with flowers less prominent than their leaf growth, for example the grasses, orachs and amentaceous plants, include only few. Plants living in water, and above all in the sea, are also largely non-poisonous.

So we see: less flowering means non-poisonousness; excess of flower­ing goes towards poison-producing processes. The typical poison plants have flowering processes that are too powerful, too early, or abnormal in some other way.

Now we must consider how the plant touches the kingdoms of nature above and below it not just physically, but also in its essential nature, so that it truly stands midway between mineral and animal. It has a root organ because there is a mineral world, a flowering organ because there is an animal world. Also the development of the flower puts an end to the purely plant-like form of existence, limits it and cancels it out. Otherwise the plant would be growing on indefinitely, leaf-determined, multiplying entirely by vegetative reproduction. The flower process is, of course, more than just the opposite principle to the green leaf process; it actually arises from it, so that in spite of all metamorphosis leaf nature is still evident in every floral form. A delicate equilibrium must be constantly maintained, therefore, between the building-up principle of vegetative growth and the destructive principle of the flower, between leaf nature rhythmically reproducing itself without end, sprouting and growing on and on, and the transfiguration of the flower, revealed only when the plant "yields up existence in order to exist".

Let us take a look at some of the very poisonous plants and their flow­ering. The henbane lives at first in tremendous proliferation of leaf and shoot. But into this swelling herbage there enters the flowering process, boring its way in, one might say, much too early, before the level of refinement has been reached which leads to the inflorescence. The vigo­rous growth which has only just started comes to a stop, ceasing alto­gether; a tortuous form, painfully cramped, comes forth in lateral branches, a strange mixture of leaf and flower elements, and the gloomy maws of flowers unwind in spiral sequence. On its winter wood, Daphne mezereum ignites the many fleeting flames of early blossoms, before a single leaf is seen. A ravishingly sweet scent, perceived from a distance, before the shrub comes into view, reveals the ardent nature of a flowering which that very evening will be gone, greyish brown and withered, like ashes when the flames have died down. The shoot of the pheasant's eye comes up full of sap in early spring, airily dividing into feathery, delicate leaves, and at once sending forth from numerous buds those very large, glowing yellow, sun-like flowers. How can such a delicate little plant bear so many flowers! The scarlet fly agaric, a lower plant, but to be counted among the flowering forms, goes straight into fungal flower from the root, with no green leaf element between; but there belongs to it the dying and decaying leaf principle which has dropped down from the beeches under which the fungus is growing. And that is how we must see ergot, too, the plant appearing as a parasite in the ears of rye, as a caricature of its flowering and fruiting processes.

A process coming close to the plant level of life in every flower and whenever a plant comes into flowering, a process held subtly in balance, must therefore be increased beyond its usual limits if the normal plant is to become a poisonous plant. This process must be connected with animal nature, for the flower is the gesture made by the plant towards the animal level of life, the organ through which the plant "acknowledges" the exis­tence of the animal world. Now the animal has the advantage over the plant that it not only possesses a physical and etheric organization, but has been given an astral body (soul body), out of the astral sphere. The flow­ering of plants, and also quite generally the development of poisons, give expression, therefore, to the relation of the plant world to the world of astral existence.

Let me quote the scientist who has explored soul and spirit. In a lec­ture given on March 22, 1923, Rudolf Steiner describes the astral sphere of the plant as follows: On the surface of the earth we have the physical organization of the plant; it is interpenetrated by its etheric body. Unlike animal and man it does not have within it an astral body (soul body); the astral sphere of being does touch it, however, from above, in the region of the flower. As a rule, plants do not take the astral element into themselves, the touch suffices, they live in interaction with the astral. Through this, they are able to go beyond leaf growth and develop flower and fruit. In the direction of fruiting and flowering, plants live in interaction with the astral. In interaction, not in union. In poisonous plants, the situation is dif­ferent. In them, the astral enters into the plant sphere of life (which is physical and etheric), and combines with it. Poisonous plants like the deadly nightshade or the henbane absorb this astral element in greater or lesser degree. They bear it within them, though as a "subordinate" princi­ple, not as forces which form organs, as in man, for instance. Otherwise the plant would become an animal, if not a man. This astral element is in "a kind of pressed state" within a poisonous plant. In his series of lectures Initiate Consciousness, Rudolf Steiner gave a similar description of the ordi­nary plant in its physical and etheric constitution. It is physical and etheric as it grows from the soil, but around flower and fruit flows the general cosmic astrality. This hovers above the plant like a cloud. There are plants, however, which with one part or another absorb the astral from the cosmos. This causes them to become poisonous. The difference, say, between the violet and the deadly nightshade is that the violet develops its fruit as a structure determined entirely by etheric principles, whereas the deadly nightshade absorbs the astral in the fruit. That gives the fruit its poisonous character: "The same thing which entering into the animal kingdom gives to the animal its astral body, making the animal a sentient being, also makes the plant, if it enters within it, into a poisonous plant."

Yet another aspect is described by Rudolf Steiner in the 19th lecture of the series entitled Spiritual Science and Medicine. There he speaks of plants which resist the immediate earth forces. This means that the relation between physical and etheric is different in those plants. Some of the formative forces are thus left free, because they do not link up with the forces of the earth. Plants like these link up more strongly with the supra-vegetative sphere, the astral, and correspondingly less with the infra-vegetative, the earthly, mineral element. Plant growth leading to non-poisonous, and above all to food plants, uses a certain sum total of earth forces in building up the plant, working on them with the organization of formative forces. If the plant resists the earth forces, then its organization of formative forces is exposed to the cosmic forces of the astral sphere coming from outside the earth when it reaches the end of its building-up phase and develops flower and fruit. This is the pattern on which the deadly nightshade is built. This plant strives, even in the root, towards interpenetration with cosmic astrality, and finally achieves it in the berry. One might say it de­sires to become an ensouled being, and above all to have perception. It gets hold of formative principles which should really culminate in the forming of an eye. In the sense organs, and particularly in the eye, the organization is physically and etherically lifted out of the sphere of bodily existence, is given over to light forces from outside man, and permeates the organ thus formed with the sentient soul-body.

So here we have the real solution of the puzzle of poison. It is most deeply satisfying to our human powers of cognition to find that poisonous plants do not owe their existence to a wayward whim of nature, nor to the evil inspiration of powerful entities, but may be seen within the context of normal plant life, albeit as a one-sided development, where a basic note which is normally present is coming through rather too powerfully.

Poison means gift. (The German word for poison is Gift.--Translator.) In the English language, 'gift' still means a present today, and a gifted child is a talented child. The poisonous plant is more gifted with a power than its non-poisonous fellow. It is, so to speak, "more spiritual". Within its physical, perceptible body appears something which is supra-sensible, because its astral principle is impressed into the physical body. And so the poisonousness of a poisonous plant "stares one in the face" if one develops the sensitivity to perceive the language of form in the plant world. The Solanaceae are a marvellous illustration of this.

According to Goethe, the ordinary plant is, quite literally, "both sensi­ble and supra-sensible", for the form which may be perceived makes "visible" also part of what is not sensible in the plant. In the Solanaceae we perceive more of that supra-sensible aspect. But physical perceptibility is not the proper sphere for that "more". If a higher, spiritual region becomes effective in a lower region, it will always prove poisonous in that region, unless the principle which is taking effect descends by the pre­scribed sequence of stages which links the two in a manner "appropriate to the world". The astral can live with full justification only in a body appropriately structured, i.e. the body of an animal or a human being. This alone has the manifold organs to offer a suitable home to such astral elements. The body of the lion, for example, with its sense organs, rhyth­mic system and metabolism, is wholly and entirely the physical vessel for the lion form of soul, which may therefore fully and rightly incarnate within it. A deadly nightshade, a henbane, are not provided with those marvelous animal organs which go far, far beyond the only organ of the plant, the leaf. A leaf is open to the world, and made for infinite contact, but not for closing-up within itself. For the plant, the cosmic remains without; for the animal organ, it becomes interior, invaginated. Having become interiorized, this cosmic principle is then able to receive into it the cosmic astrality, for the organ is now indeed a "house" for the astral. "Plant astrality" on the other hand can enter into the physical form of the plant only in abnormal fashion, and it can do so only with certain aspects of its actions. The dynamic relations arising from this, and the abnormal substances produced by these, form the basis for the medicinal action of reme­dies made from those plants. The abnormal interaction of the members of being within the plant has its correspondence in abnormal relations between the mem­bers of being in man. Such an abnormal substance will cause a shift in rela­tions between members of being and therefore a toxic effect in a healthy person. In a sick person, on the other hand, it may put right again what has become a pathological configuration of the members of being, and thus prove beneficial. A substance of this type may fit into a pathological configuration of members of being as a key fits into a lock.


Let us now try and show how the Solanaceae are a visual demonstra­tion of what we have been describing, so that we may actually see, have tangibly before us, what in other plants may be perceived only with the eye of the mind and spirit.

The Solanaceae nature is realized mostly in herbaceous plants, with few shrubs and practically no trees. The type is in fact "resisting the immediate forces of earth" (a tree is "upturned earth"), resisting even in the roots which often swell up into thick tap roots or adventitious tubers, and at other times remain soft and pliable. Grafting experiments have shown that these roots are to a considerable extent the site where alkaloids are formed. (Tobacco grafted on tomato roots, for instance, produced leaves almost free from nicotine; on the other hand tomato shoots grafted onto tobacco roots became poisonous and contained nicotine.)

The Solanaceae, then are mostly herbaceous plants. They grow rapidly and vigorously, and are bursting with vitality. As the deadly nightshade or the thorn apple start into rapid upward growth, one might well expect them to continue into trees, so vigorous is their early develop­ment. Take an unsuspecting person and show them the main shoot of a deadly nightshade plant partly hidden behind a tall sheet of hardboard, or a non-transparent cloth, so that only about two handbreadths are visible above the ground. Ask them to guess how tall the hidden plant may be, and they will always give it the height of a very tall sunflower at least. Great is their astonishment when the hardboard or cloth screen is removed. It is obvious that growth has stopped short, that the main shoot has come to a standstill. Growth has been diverted into lateral shoots and these in turn have suffered the same sudden inhibition. Now all is inflo­rescence, with the flowering process taking hold before the plant could fully live as a herb. What we are seeing here is the battle between two principles, a strange growth pattern combining sprouting leaf element and, pressed into it, an overpowering flowering principle. To get a feeling for the unusual events which have occurred here, try and imagine the umbel of a carrot, say, forced down into the foliage almost down to ground level, and the two structures merged in growth. Then we would get something similar to what has come about in the world of the Solanaceae. The whole is like an illustration of the statement that in the poisonous plant the astral combines far too strongly with the plant sphere, "visibly" boring into it. The more intensive this process, the more poisonous is the plant species concerned. This will become apparent as we go on.

The form of the flower in the Solanaceae is the result, in many cases, of very deep invagination. Cups, bells, deep slim tubes, or dark narrow throats are found in the more poisonous species of the family: scopolia, deadly nightshade, thorn apple, tobacco, and mandrake. Strong, over­powering scents often combine with this, and spotted or dirty shades of color.

A gloomy coloring frequently rises up from the root, a sooty violet which may lighten into a dirty brown higher up the stem. Or gloom pours outward from the dark maw of the flower. The darkness of night has become embodied in this family. This also finds expression in the flow­ering times (at night for tobacco and Datura species) or in the way in which flowers seek out darkness, often by complicated movements, when coming into flower (Belladonna, scopolia). Clairvoyant perception of this note of darkness and night probably gave rise to the Germanic-Celtic name of the plant, Nah-skado.*** This refers to harmful nocturnal elemental beings, and the German Nachtschatten (nightshade) derives from it.

However, not all the Solanaceae show such strongly spastic gestures, nor is the astral as deeply involved in all of them. In the many plants belonging to the Solarium, Physalis and Capsicum genera, among them the tomato, potato, woody nightshade (Solarium dulcamara), eggplant, paprika, and winter cherry, the etheric is stronger and pushes back the astral; the flowering process is still an intensive one, but it is more "in the proper place". Shoot and foliage are allowed to run their full course. The flower is no longer so deeply invaginated, but forms a bowl, a shallow disk, or at most a shallow funnel. In conjunction with this, much weaker poisons are produced, and as the fruit and tuber ripen they even become non-poisonous and are important foods.

The Solanaceae may thus be divided into two major groups. In the first group, which is "highly spastic", we have the very poisonous plants with their typical Solanaceae alkaloids; the second group, which is much less strongly taken hold of by the astral principle, contains a much weaker poison, solanine (and related compounds). This is a peculiar type of sub­stance, found only in the Solanaceae; it stands between the glycosides and the alkaloids, and is half glycoside, half alkaloid.

To get a visual image of the two groups, we might compare the hen­bane, a plant that is all cramped up, with the long and slender branches, fragile and unsupported as they are, of the bitter-sweet. In the latter, leaf and shoot attain their full potential; when their growth has come to an end, the flowers appear, in orderly fashion and on their own, not mixed up chaotically and grown together with the leaf element; shallow, open flowers offer themselves to view. The type has succeeded in resolving the spasm which in the henbane forces the elements in upon one another. Parallel to this, the plant becomes less poisonous.

We have now used various angles to describe the abnormal involve­ment of the astral sphere in the Solanaceae. With its catabolic action on living protein, this produces the alkaloids, poisons which in turn are able to act upon the sphere of the human astral body, and particularly on its relations to the sensory organization. In many and different ways, they force the astral body out of it normal relations to the physical. The soul is filled not with sensory contents, but with abnormal consciousness, with images reflecting no external reality which are experienced as hallucina­tions, as visions. It was not for nothing that the henbane, mandrake and thorn-apple were used in the ointments, potions and fumigants of medieval witchcraft. Their toxic action forced the supra-sensible members of man's being out of the body which was tied to the earth and to gravity — often in a manner representing a considerable danger to life. The result was the experience of "levity", a sensation of floating weightlessly and of flying. The sensory experiences which make us aware of the daylight world were replaced by astral experiences, though these were of a type belonging to a lower astral sphere, where desires, drives and appetites may appear most vividly portrayed; in short, a "Walpurgis Night sphere" might open up. Here we come up against the whole problem of "magic potions" and of narcotics.

The fascination which narcotics hold for mankind today will be under­stood in its full extent only if one knows the different stages of human con­sciousness and their metamorphoses, and how they arise out of each other; and if one knows how to appreciate, nurture and prepare the levels of con­sciousness of the past, the present, and the future. Today's wide-awake consciousness is entirely prosaic in content. The contents are based upon the experiences of the physical senses which show us a world of material things, devoid of spiritual content, though at the same time a world in which we may move in complete freedom, able to discover our own spirituality. Behind this day-consciousness lies the atavistic remnant of an older con­sciousness, a dream-consciousness, a night-consciousness. Once this did as in a dream follow the spirit as it wove through all things. Then man experienced the rich fullness of world creativity, and felt himself to be a part of a weaving world of spirit. The stories of Paradise tell us of this world. Deep needs for development have brought man out of this world, and out of the consciousness which revealed it to him, into the present form of consciousness and the world as it is experienced by this. This loss was painful and the longing is still great to return to the old form of con­sciousness, at least occasionally. But meanwhile the spirit has become more strongly bound to the members of the body, and man has become much more intensely engaged with the physical senses and their catabolic processes (he has lost the tree of life, and eaten of the tree of death, the tree of knowledge); to recall the old form of consciousness has become more and more difficult. Powerful agents would be needed to induce the spirit and soul members of man's being to disengage themselves again. Such agents did become available, in the poisons of narcotic plants. These lead to the threshold of death and loosen the structure of the members of being because they themselves have arisen through abnormal interaction between spiritual and physical spheres of being. In this way they make possible abnormal, hallucinatory and visionary experiences, though these belong to a very low and inferior spiritual region. The narcotics addict poisons not only his body but also his soul, and he is dangerously weakening his spirit.

The road to a healthy development of higher levels of consciousness lies forward, not back. From the spiritual emptiness of a sensory con­sciousness developed in a mortal body with its death-forces, those higher levels of consciousness lead man on into a new fullness of spirit. The road lies through a strengthening of the wide-awake, ego-conscious day-con­sciousness, into a living, weaving world of images, where the true images (imaginations) of spiritual realities allow us to experience the spirit as it weaves and is creatively active in all that comes into being. The misguided longing of the addict may thus find its healthy counterpart — and cure. In writing his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, Rudolf Steiner has — among many other things — done a great therapeutic deed.

* Translation from the German of the first part of the ninth chapter in the author's Heilpflanzenkunde (Botany of Medicinal Plants), Vol. 1; published with the kind permis­sion of the author and of the publishers, Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum/Dornach, Switzerland, whose permission should be sought for reproduc­tion. Translator: R.E.K. Meuss, F.I.L., reprinted from B.H.J. July 1975.

** The only exception are the fungi; but then they are flowering processes from their very root processes, and to excess; one might call them "root flowerers". They lack the rhythmical principle of plant life, the assimilative greenness.

***In Nordic mythology Skadi was the daughter of Thiassi, the winter giant killed by Thor.


1 Pelikan, W.(1970) Archetypal relations between plant and man. The British Homeopathic Journal, 59, 163. Disease process and medicinal plant. Ibid., 59, 163. The member of being in man and nature. Ibid., 59, 224.

2 Pelikan, W.(1973) The Papaveraceae. Ibid., 62, 117.

3 Pelikan. W.0973) "Carnivorous" plants and medicinal plants. Ibid., 62, 241.

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