by Lili Kolisko
Experimental Studies from the Biological Institute of the Goetheanum
This essay on “Workings of the Stars in Earthly Substances” is only a small part of several years’ work in the Biological Institute at the Goetheanum. In it we have tried to penetrate into the Essence of Matter, to learn to know, the effects of the workings of substances, to set free the cosmic forces embedded in them and through a spiritual conception to restore what is earthbound to the universal spirit.
We refer to a series of articles on “The Mystery of Matter” published in “Natura” a periodical for the extension of the Art of Healing based on the spiritual knowledge of man. This essay deals with the same subject.
Stuttgart, March 30th 1927.
WORKINGS OF THE STARS IN EARTHLY SUBSTANCES
(The term “stars” is used here in the ancient sense, referring to all luminous bodies of the heavens, fixed and moving, and in these experiments refers directly to the Sun, Moon and planets.)
It is here dealing with the Mystery of Matter and opening up a path into a vast domain where wonderful things will be revealed to us, if we will but observe impartially the results of our experiments and acknowledge the pictures which Nature herself has painted. It is a treatise on science appealing to the Artistic Sense in man, which will enable him to approach with a feeling of reverence and awe a work of art depicting the influence of the stars in earthly substances.
It was Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy who gave us a new insight into the world of minerals, of plants and of animals. It was he who showed humanity the way back again from Matter to Spirit. The following essay is inspired by the teaching that Anthroposophy has to give.
All the substances around us are subject to the laws of gravity. Are all solid bodies however subject only to the earth-forces, or are they acted upon by other outside forces? Is it possible in fact for the stars themselves to influence and to work upon earthly matter?
It is difficult for a modern human to believe that a star, millions of mile distant from the earth, should be able to exercise an influence on it and yet it is so, the stars do influence earthly events.
In a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner to a body of natural scientists, one finds the following important statement: “So long as Substances are in a solid state, they are subject to the forces of the Earth, but as soon as they enter the liquid state, the planetary forces come into play”. This means, that the solid, unalloyed Iron, or any Iron salt is subject only to earth forces, but dissolve it in water and in solution it is subject not only to the forces of earth but also to the planetary forces of Mars to whom we owe the origin of Iron on our earth.
Unalloyed Silver or any Silver salt in its solid state is subject to earth forces, but when dissolved in water it is the Moon, that is working in the solution, for it is to the influence of the Moon in a remote past, that we owe the origin of Silver.*
* See Rudolf Steiner: An Outline of Occult Science. Anthroposophical Publishing Co., London.
Unalloyed Lead or any Lead salt in its solid state is subject to earth forces only, but when dissolved in water, it comes under the influence of Saturn according to the statements of Dr. Steiner.
We shall now proceed to describe a series of experiments which, up to a point, anyone can verify for himself. Why I am compelled to say “up to a point” will become apparent in the course of the essay. The preparations for the experiment are exceedingly simple. Except for the substances, only filter paper and a certain kind of glass cup are necessary.
We have been occupied with these experiments for a number of years. They were undertaken for other purposes, and are referred to in other publications.**
** “Physiologischer und physikalischer Nachweis der Wirksamkeit kleinster Entitäten Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum Dornach (Schweiz) 1923.
We employed for our experiments three solutions of mineral salts. Sulphate of Iron (Ferrum sulfuricum) Nitrate of Silver (Argentum nitricum) and Nitrate of Lead (Plumbum nitricum). We obtained the solutions by dissolving 1 gram of pure salt in 100 cubic centimetres of distilled water, which then showed the following qualities. The clear green crystals of Sulphate of Iron dissolve quickly, the water gradually becomes cloudy, is tinged with a light yellow and after some time a yellow sediment is deposited. According to Dr. Steiner’s statement we should have in this solution the influence of Mars, as well as that of the earth.
Secondly we dissolve Nitrate of Silver in the same way. The fine white crystals dissolve in the distilled water with the rapidity of lightning, we might say the water devours them greedily. Outwardly we cannot recognize the Silver solution, as the water remains colourless but this liquid is stated by Dr. Steiner to be under the special influence of the Moon.
Thirdly we dissolve Nitrate of Lead in the same way. The Lead does not dissolve as quickly as Iron and Silver. The Lead crystals have a milky appearance, they are not transparent and are heavier than the crystals mentioned above. The solution remains quite clear, we cannot find any visible difference between the mere water and the solution of Lead. In this liquid Saturn should be manifesting.
We now pour the respective solutions of Iron, Silver and Lead into the different cups and into them we dip the filter paper. The liquid is gradually absorbed by the filter paper and after some time reaches the maximum height, where it begins to form what we will term a picture. Such pictures show a great variety of forms and a discussion of the formative forces hidden in the salts of Silver must be reserved for another essay.
Plate 1 shows the photographic reproduction of a picture obtained from the Silver in solution. Below is shown a corresponding picture of the Iron in solution. The Sulphate of Iron shows only a narrow strip of brownish yellow edged with fine, wavy lines, it is unable to develop as many forms as shown in the Silver solution.
Of the Nitrate of Lead we have no picture, for there is only a fine white salt-line visible at the edge. Lead by itself produces no picture.
We will now go a step further and add to the Silver solution the Iron solution in equal parts. In a few moments a dark grey sediment appears and into this mixture of Silver and Iron solution we dip again a filter paper.
A wonderful picture rapidly arises, see Plate II. Is it possible that out of the two pictures seen in Plate 1 we get this wealth of form? Forces of which one never dreamt are revealed in the union of Iron and Silver. A continuous growth is shown in the picture, which can naturally be realized much more vividly if one is able to follow the experiment from beginning to end.
The liquid is absorbed by the filter paper and after ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, the first black arrow appears, to be followed by a second, a third, a forth, and so it proceeds. — The process unfolds itself before us in a marvelous manner and we see the results of the combination of Iron and Silver, or expressed in another way, the effects of the united influences of the Moon and Mars.
Hundreds of pictures were made in this way. Unfortunately they do not last. The Silver blackens and after some weeks the picture fades. It is necessary therefore to take the photographs immediately the experiment has been completed.
One never gets tired of repeating these experiments for the result is never the same; and why? From a chemical point of view nothing is altered in either the Silver or the Iron solution. The substances remain the same, the filter paper is also the same (To obtain results that can be compared with one another, it is necessary always to use the same paper). Yet we must find a way, by which we can explain this great variety forms.
For instance an all important fact lies in the difference produced by an experiment that is undertaken by day to one that is carried out at night.
Let us take an Iron and Silver solution as mentioned above and make our experiment at 11 A.M. A sunny day should be chosen and a glass placed near the window to have the benefit of the full daylight without actually being in the sun (Plate III). This picture gives us a harmonious impression.
There are few arrows to he seen. The colours are delicate changing from blue-grey to brownish-yellow, turning finally into a shimmering red. This describes the type of picture obtained if the experiment is made in day-light about midday; with an increasing light the forms decrease, and possibly no arrow forms will appear at all.
Beginning the experiment at 11 A.M. it should be completed by 3 P.M.
Now let us repeat the same experiment at night. At 11 P.M. we will place a similar glass, containing the same equal quantities of Silver and Iron in solution in the same place. It is a fine clear night in spring. The forming process goes on with a far greater rapidity than by day; by 3 A.M. the whole of the liquid is absorbed by the paper, the picture is finished (Plate IV). An enormous difference is to be seen in the two pictures.
One would like to say — it is merely a coincidence, it is too extraordinary to be true. But what possibilities open up before us if night and day produce results so varied. — We repeated these experiments very often and always with the same result. At night the process is accelerated and the forms created are of greater variety.
One objection may be here brought forward. What is there peculiar about the night? Is not the difference between day and night the same as between light and darkness and if so, why not make the experiment by day in a darkened room! We will answer the question by means of an experiment.
At 11 A.M. we have simultaneously one experiment going on in full day-light and another being carried on in a dark room, though the Sun is shining outside (see Plate V). From 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. the experiment is carried out and what do we find? Compare Plate III and V and we must acknowledge that many forms have appeared in the darkness, which are not to be found in the light; but compare the picture obtained by day in the darkness, Plate V, with the picture obtained by night at the window, Plate IV, and we discover that the forming powers of night are still greater, than those that worked in the dark room by day.
Now it is necessary to repeat the experiment also by night in the dark room. The darkness is still the same, therefore, if only the darkness is working, the night-picture in the dark room must be identical with the day-picture obtained in the dark room.
We look back again on Plate IV. The experiment was carried out at 11 p.m. near the window. At the same time we make an experiment in the dark room (see Plate VI). The picture obtained by night in the dark room, shows a greater wealth of forms, than the picture obtained by day in the dark room! We can therefore no longer say that it is only the activity of light and darkness and not the activity of day and night. Of course light and darkness have an influence too, they belong to the phenomena of day and night, but they are not the only causes of the differences in the forms produced by day and by night; all that happens in the cosmos during those two periods must be taken into consideration.
We come now to the third substance Lead, which by itself does not produce any picture. For a long time we tried to find a means whereby Lead too could manifest formative forces in a characteristic manner and in the mixture of Lead, Iron and Silver we at last succeeded. We will therefore make the same experiment with Lead added to the other two solutions.
Let us mix equal parts of Nitrate of Silver, Nitrate of Lead and Sulphate of Iron in the proportion of 1 gram to 100 cubic centimeters of distilled water, dip in the filter paper and put the glass containing the solutions in the same place near the window at 11 A.M., leaving it there until 3 P.M. See Plate VII. The picture is very dark, we notice only a few arrow-like forms and the forms are not the same as those produced by the combination of Silver and Iron, but we shall see them more distinctly later on.
The next experiment consists in placing the mixture of Silver, Iron and Lead in the same place near the window between 11 P.M. and 3 A.M.
See Plate VIII. There again we see, the night has greater formative power. Compare Plate VIII with Plate IV showing the corresponding experiment with Silver and Iron only.
In the dark room by day Silver, Iron and Lead give us a distinct picture of the workings of Lead. The arrow like forms which are produced by the combination of Silver and Iron are always sharply defined, one would like to describe them as “flying through the air”, then the Lead begins visibly to work and gives weight to the arrows. They no longer “fly” but give us rather the impression of “falling”, they are urged towards the earth. I cannot here do otherwise than explain one picture through the medium of another. Under the influence of the Lead the sharp edges disappear. The forms now appear ragged and broken. In the one instance (the mixture of Silver and Iron) one has the impression of a fresh youthful face, directly the Lead is added, the face becomes old, wrinkled and careworn.
I do not wish to be misunderstood and to hear someone say, that he expects to see on the one side the picture of a young face and on the other that of an old man, naturally that would be nonsense, but looking at the pictures intently, one can get some such impression as I have tried to put before you.
And last of all we put Silver, Iron and Lead in the dark room from 11 P.M. till 3 A.M. (see Plate X). In this picture we cannot help getting the impression of heaviness. — How massive, how gigantically plastic the forms look! Thus we get the most powerful forms in the dark room during the night-time.
The pictures one obtains by these solutions are again most varied in their forms. We possess a wealth of material but are compelled to make only a small choice of reproductions here, on account of the high cost of printing. If we are enabled to continue this series of essays, we are convinced that the abundance of proofs we are able to give, will remove every possible doubt in the minds of the reader as to the facts here described.
Up till now however there is still one thing we have been unable to demonstrate, that is that the stars are working in the formative forces. How is it possible to prove that there is the influence of the Moon in the Silver salt, of Mars in the Iron salt and of Saturn in the Lead salt?
By means of an experiment I am about to describe, we shall see unfolded before ourselves the Influence of the planets.
On the 21st November 1926 there were some very interesting planetary constellations. Something important was happening amongst the stars. At noon there was an upper conjunction of Sun and Venus, at 6 o’clock in the evening a conjunction of Sun and Saturn. Sun and Saturn were going to be in conjunction; what was more natural than that we should prepare to make several experiments with Silver, Iron and Lead during the time in question. For month we had studied the action of these substances in cooperation during the day and during the night. According to the statements of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, in a solution of Lead the powers of Saturn should manifest themselves. Now in the Heavens at the time given above, something particular is happening with Saturn. If in reality this planet so far from away earth, is in some connection with the Lead on earth, then surely the Lead solution must be influenced by other forces at the time the sun is standing before Saturn, than when this is not the case. Here was an experiment that could make our hearts beat quicker — would it be possible to penetrate into the secrets of the Cosmos, or not?
On the 21st November 1926 at 6 P.M. we dipped the filter paper into a solution of Silver, Iron and Lead. At this season of the year it is quite dark at 6 o’clock. It seemed likely therefore that we should have a picture similar to that shown on Plate VIII. To our great astonishment a long time elapsed and nothing appeared on the paper. In normal circumstances the first forms appear in ten or fifteen minutes. In this case more than a whole hour elapsed before the first forms made their appearance. At 11 P.M. the picture was finished (See Plate XI). Where are all the forms? Where is the Lead?
A remarkable result indeed and I must confess that I felt somewhat disconcerted at it, the more so, as I had expected, when undertaking the experiment, that if Sun and Saturn were in conjunction, then some particular force would be communicated to the Lead and the picture would be more powerful than ever. But I found the contrary to be the case. It seemed as if the Lead could not act at all. My abstract idea was corrected by reality.
The experiment was repeated at 12 P.M. midnight in the dark room. We knew that here the formative forces acted more intensely. Two hours later we looked to see what had happened. Again we were astonished at what we found. The picture was so remarkable, such a riddle, that we determined to make yet another experiment at 2 A.M.
Plate XII represents the picture obtained from the experiment carried out from midnight until 4 A.M.
Every possible defect in the carrying out of the experiment was guarded against. The arrangements were such, that under normal circumstances a picture similar to Plate X was to be expected. Yet what did we see? Instead of heavy, massive forms an utter blank. An invisible hand had blotted out the working of the Lead in my solution. And whose was the invisible hand? It was the Sun — the Sun had stood before the planet Saturn and here below on the earth the Lead could not manifest its activity.
When the Stars speak humans must stand still in silent awe.
Plate XIII represents the picture obtained from the combination of Silver, Iron and Lead in solution from 2 A.M. till 7 A.M. on that same morning. Slowly, very slowly and delicately are the forms returning. One can feel the Sun has ceased to cover entirely the planet Saturn. But even this picture has no resemblance with our usual forms.
After the Sun-Saturn conjunction, on November 22nd at 11 A.M. we again made an experiment with the Silver, Iron and Lead in the dark room and obtained the picture you see on Plate XIV.
That evening, November 22nd at 11 P.M. we again made an experiment with the Silver, Iron and Lead in the dark room and obtained the picture you see on Plate XV.
The conjunction of Sun and Saturn was over, normal conditions had returned and day and night gave to us again the customary well known beautiful forms.
The stars have spoken and shown us the bridge that spans the gulf from Earth to Heaven, from the material to the spiritual, to the matter that is penetrated with spirit. — If only people would comprehend the words of Rudolf Steiner in their true meaning, looking upon them as stepping stones on the road from Earth to the Cosmos, humanity would then be able to fulfill the mission ascribed to it by the Guiding Spirit of the Time.
Online works by Lili Kolisko:
- Working With the Stars In Earthly Substance
- Spirit In Matter – A Scientist’s Answer to a Bishop’s Queries
Online works by Eugen Kolisko:
- The Twelve Groups of Animals
- Elementary Chemistry for Children
- The Human Organism in the Light of Anthroposophy