Intestines, Mesentery and
4th October 1947.
We shall discuss this morning the two
preparations which deal with dandelion and chamomile on the one hand,
and the intestine and the mesentery on the other. In doing so, I am
very much aware of our lack of knowledge and understanding of
everything connected with the metabolism of the human being and the
higher animals. The metabolic process, the process of digestion, is
still, for the scientist as well as for us who try to follow up
Spiritual Science, if we are honest with ourselves, hardly anything
but a mystery and a riddle.
I remember that Rudolf Steiner once said to
certain priests who asked him to speak about it, that what goes on
within the human — and he made a point of the human — digestive
tract, is only revealed there where the priests handle at the altar
the Holy Host. So one can imagine that one might have an idea, a
certain notion, of what takes place within as well as around the
intestines; but to know — this is still not possible for us.
Probably it will take hundreds of years of most earnest study before
the minute etheric, astral and spiritual processes which work there
right into matter, are revealed to us.
Therefore you will understand that when we
now speak about these preparations which are enveloped by the
intestines or the mesentery, one just tries to go in the right
direction, but one is very, very far away from reaching the goal. All
that I am going to say this morning must therefore be approached with
great care. I do not say that all this is so; I can only say I try to
understand it in this way; nothing else.
One has to ask oneself what these organs are
and in what relation they stand to one another. Usually one has a
general idea what the intestine is — this tube, into which we stuff
our food, and in which in some way or another, the food is digested.
And the mesentery, even for a professor of anatomy, is just nothing
but that on which the intestines hang.
Where do the intestines lie? They do not lie
in the abdomen. We can of course open the wall of the abdomen, but
you will never see the intestines, you will see the outer covering of
the intestines, but not the intestine itself. The mesentery lies in
the abdomen, but the intestine lies within the mesentery. What is the
space in which the intestines lie? It is the outer world. The
intestinal tube is surrounded by muscles and by connective
tissue. This connective tissue and the muscles are lined by the
Click image for large view
Outside you have skin, and between skin and
peritoneum you have muscles and so on. The peritoneum covers every
part of the intestines and the inner abdominal wall. The mesentery is
all the tissue which connects the different convolutions of the
intestines with the linings of the abdomen, but they can lie in any
kind of direction. (The German ‘Gekroese’ means something
In an animal, the intestine is nothing else
but a part of the outer world.
The peritoneal lining is
something completely different. When you study the whole comparative
anatomy of the peritoneum you begin to realise that in the animal and
human body there exist only two parts which, as regards their space,
belong to the inside of a body and are completely the animal's own.
They do not belong in any way to the outer world. These two things
are the inner linings and the inner holes of the heart, with the
blood vessels and lymph vessels, and the peritoneum. In the higher
animals and in the human being, these have no connection whatever
with outer space, They are completely cut off from outer space. All
the other organs take outer space into themselves.
Click image for large view
In the development of the animal from the
stage of the gastrula to that of the blastula, a kind of folding
process takes place, and this folding process proceeds until you have
a primitive animal which is nothing else but the outside, the
combined mouth and anus, and the intestine.
The outer world is drawn into the animal body and thereby creates the
intestine. From this intestinal tube there develops the liver, the
bladder, the pancreas, the lungs and so on.
Click image for large view
When you study the formation of the nervous
system, you also see the primitive outer layer of the human embryo.
This is surrounded by the amnion which contains water. The nervous
system develops as a result of the skin folding in, and this folding
process continues until eventually a cord is formed. The skin closes,
so that what was outside is now inside.
Therefore even the cavities of the nervous system are outer space; they
are watery space. This is very important.
Click image for large view
The blood vessels, the heart and the
peritoneum develop in the embryonic form itself, creating space, so
to speak, out of nothingness. You must imagine a convolution of cells
gradually building up a kind of hole so that the cells are outside
and an inner hole comes into existence. In this way is created within
the animal body a new space which has nothing to do with outer space.
This is only true of the peritoneum and the blood vessels. Therefore
it would not be wrong to say that the cavity of the peritoneum is of
the same kind of space as that within our heart and our whole blood
vessel system. That is the real inmost side of our existence, the
true counterpart of the outer world. If you use intestine and
mesentery, to make two preparations, you use two different kinds of
space qualities. We use in the intestine a part of the outer world,
whereas in the mesentery we use a part of the inner world of the
animal. Therefore you put into the one chamomile, into the other
If we study the comparative anatomy of the
peritoneum, we can ask where in the whole evolution of animals the
peritoneum comes into existence for the first time. The Echinoderms
are the first animals which have a so-called
‘Wassergefaess-system,’ which means a system lying
between the intestine — the endoderm, and the skin and nerves and
senses — the ectoderm.
The starfish, the sea-urchin — all the
echinoderms — have a very special form which you find nowhere else in
the animal kingdom. It is a fivefold symmetry. The echinoderms have a
very hard calcified outer layer, and the intestine is in the centre.
Between the skin and the intestine you have the
first stage of a mesentery. You have a definite impression that all
these animals are built not from within towards the outside, but that
their whole form derives from forces streaming from outside towards
the centre. Of course the echinoderm's body must be there as a
certain centre of activity to receive these forces, but I see these
forces as coming from outside. The sea-urchin, the starfish —
all the echinoderms — are actually nothing else but the most
wonderful image of the etheric forces freely working round some
centre. It is just in these animals that for the first time a space
is created within the peritoneum.
Click image for large view
All the echinoderms stand under the sign of
Taurus. If you now go to the opposite side of the zodiac, you come to
the sign of Scorpio, and here stand all those animals which are
amphibians. In these animals there is something which again shows the
fivefoldness, but in a different and not such a beautiful
Just imagine a frog which starts to hop. You
have the fivefold form as in the sea-urchin, but now the fivefoldness
is something quite different.
The amphibians and the
animals which for the first time in evolution develop breathing in
such a way that breathing becomes active, and in- and ex-haling
are related to a lung. In connection with this they develop legs for
the first time. There you have again the fivefoldness with its centre
inside working outwards; whereas in the echinoderms it streams from
the outside inwards.
Click image for large view
In these two groups of animals is revealed
the whole process of calcium and silica. Calcium is related to those
animals in which there is activity from the centre outwards. They
have a centre, and all the unfortunate things connected with our
being within a body, but they are able for the first time to sound
from within — even if this is nothing else but ‘Crak ... Crak
...’ That we take air into us and pour air out; that we exhale
and inhale; that we are so related to our astral body that we can
develop desires and wishes — these are the signs of
Although the echinoderms have a calcified
skeleton, they are built up by the forces of silica. It is not the
substance which gives the idea of calcium; it is the process. Silica
can use calcium as carrier. We must differentiate between the
direction of the forces — whether they come from within and go
towards the cosmos, or whether they stream in from the cosmos towards
You will remember that Rudolf Steiner
relates the process of chamomile to the process of calcium, and the
process of dandelion to the process of silica. To enhance silica, you
use dandelion, to enhance calcium, you use chamomile.
When you watch this picture and add a few
anatomical notes, you will see that in the intestine two processes
are going on: The intestine is lined with the so-called villi. For
ordinary science these are the organs which suck the food substance
out into the space around the intestines. This is rather as though
one were to say that when for instance a calf is sucking at the
udder, it gives milk into the udder. You have the udder (because the
intestinal villi are like an udder) and there around is the mouth of
the calf. The food comes into the intestine and science thinks that
the villi take food substance into them as if the udder would suck
the milk from the calf. But it is just the other way
In the intestines a process is going on
which stream in and not out. What streams in is secretory substances,
all the digestive juices and ferments which have to be mixed with the
food, so that the food can be continuously and completely destroyed.
The outer wall of the intestine is much stronger than any concrete
barrier. Nothing can go outwards through the wall of the intestine.
The secretions can penetrate the wall, but what we digest as food
does not penetrate physically through this wall. Behind the
wall are tiny holes connected with all the lymph vessels which line
the outside of the intestines. They join together into larger
lymphatic vessels and gradually they form the thoracic
What is the function of the lymph vessels? I
will try to give a picture: One should imagine that the lymph vessels
build within our abdomen a vast sea or lake. Downwards into this lake
streams what Rudolf Steiner calls a ‘cosmic nutrition
stream.’ The etheric forces which feed us and which stream into
us by means of our sense organs, eyes, ears, and even the skull,
these forces, gradually streaming down, turn into matter; but they
materialise actually only on the spot where they meet the ocean of
the lymph. Imagine that a rain of manna, of etheric substances,
streams through our sense organs into our body and falls lower and
lower; and this rain turns into substance. When it reaches this space
near the lymph vessels, it settles down, and it appears to us as if
the food substances have penetrated through the intestinal wall into
the lymph vessels.
Within the lymph vessels the ‘cosmic
nutrition stream’ becomes matter. From the food itself only
very few substances go through the intestinal wall. If you consider
the physical and the cosmic nutrition streams, and see how the
peritoneum is connected with the cosmic nutrition stream, and the
intestines with the earthly nutrition stream, you will understand
that you have two polar opposites: when you take the intestine and
stuff it with chamomile, or when you take the mesentery and bring
into it the plant dandelion.
These two plants also are polar opposites,
and yet they are closely related to one another. In trying to
understand the whole setting and nature of chamomile I always think
of two other compositae which are closely related to it, namely
calendula and arnica.
It is very interesting that the petals of
arnica are not equally developed, one or two of them being almost
always misshapen. When you go through these three flowers, you go out
of the watery succulence of calendula into the uprightness of arnica.
Chamomile is a flower which tries to fly away. It also has the
strongest scent of the three, a pungent, wonderful scent which
penetrates not only the flower, but right into the leaves. In
chamomile something tries to fly away from the earth. It is
this that you catch when you take the chamomile and put it into the
intestine. You use these airy, flying-away forces, this scent which
wants to go away from the earth, and you bring it into the most
earthly destructive surrounding, the wall of the
Then you put it into the soil where it is
surrounded by the cosmic summer forces when the sun shines on to the
snow. In these sausages the calcium processes are brought together.
The exhalation process of the chamomile is necessary so that the
central and centralised forces of calcium (radial as in the frog) can
really be brought to the compost heap and from there to the soil. You
catch the ‘desires of the calcium’ and you surround them
by that which contains our earthly nutrition stream and destroys it.
This you expose during winter to the cosmic summer forces under the
Dandelion is different. It is a plant with
hundreds of secrets. Who, as a child, did not love it? With its
‘clock?’ You will not find anything more expressive of
the workings of silica. Dandelion builds a kind of rosette on the
ground with its leaves, and then with a very succulent stem it grows
up, unfolding its fullness of yellow petals. From somewhere
quite different there comes down what I can only call the spiritual
silica process which builds the ‘clock,’ so that this is
created out of the whole cosmos. It would be quite wrong to use the
‘clock’ for making the preparation. You must take that
which is just ready to receive the ‘clock.’ This is the
We now take the flowers and put them into
the mesentery which is the carrier of the cosmic nutrition stream.
Within this cosmic nutrition stream the fructification process goes
on, developing the silica processes which you then give to the
compost heap, and from there to the soil.