by Rev. Michaël Merle, reported by John-Peter Gernaat
What is this series of talks attempting to achieve?
We are considering the Christ-element in chemical elements. This means that we are gaining an understanding of how the spirit manifests in these material, chemical substances. So, what does this material substance express of the spirit? When we considered the Sulphur Cross we realised that when the spirit wishes to express itself in physical material movement, nitrogen must be present. This is a physical manifestation of a spiritual principle. Nitrogen operates most effectively in combination with its three partner elements, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. Each element brings a different principle that we see most clearly in the carbohydrates where each of the three elements brings a different characteristic to the carbohydrate when its principle dominates the other two elements. We look around us and carefully observe what we are seeing, when we can truly look at nature, then are the Divine forces manifesting in nature around us.
Going back to the introductory lecture, when we observed the four processes expressed by the Zodiac, we discovered that the first sign of the Zodiac to express the specific process – fire, water, air, earth – expresses the reality of the process and the next two signs express opposite aspects of the same reality. In the case of the aerogen-process Taurus expresses movement while Aries expresses shape and Pisces expresses activity. Movement rests in shape while movement is expressed in the activity of moving. The Sulphur Cross expresses the pure reality of the four processes. As we now begin to explore the next set of elements in the four processes and discover the aspect they express, we discover a different expression of life on earth.
We are observing the Mercury Cross – that which quickens – also known as the Oceanic Cross, and we shall quickly discover why. We are studying the expression of the signs of Gemini, Pisces, Sagittarius and Virgo.
When we observe water which, chemically is expressed as H2O, we find that it is not a substance that remains as stable molecules. Instead, water is constantly separating into two ions, a positively charged hydrogen ion, H+, (in other words, it leaves behind an electron to become a nucleus of one proton), and a negative charged hydroxyl ion, OH-, and then recombining into an H2O atom again. We observe hydrogen and oxygen in combination as fire-forming and life-forming, and we observe a process of manifestation and of non-manifestation, of creation and dissolution. It is in constant balance so that water looks stable, yet it is constantly in activity, in motion, in life. It is Lord Shiva dancing the dance of creation and destruction. Water constantly destroys itself and reforms itself.
In our oceans there are two ions that are most abundant and give the oceans the distinct salty taste. These ions are sodium ions, Na+, and chloride, Cl-. When sea water is evaporated the ions combine to form crystalline salt or NaCl, but in their natural environment they occur as ions. Chlorine prefers, always, to exist as an ion of chloride.
The manifestation of the characteristic of Virgo are the alkalis of which sodium and potassium occur in the top ten elements within the human being and of Pisces it is the halogens, of which chlorine and fluorine are the ones occurring in the human being. The characteristic of Virgo is receptivity, to the extent that the word alkali derives from the Arabic meaning ‘burn to ash’, and of Pisces it is activity, and in some cases reactivity, sometimes quite volatile reactivity.
Chlorine is named because of its yellow-green colour: chloros in Greek. Halogen means salt forming and a halide is a salt ion.
Chlorine is toxic to organic life and will react with organic life to form chloride, its stable non-reactive, but receptive form. Therefore, chlorine is used to purify water of harmful organic life-forms: meningitis, cholera, typhoid.
Fluorine also is dangerous, and it is stable as fluoride, which is used in toothpaste. Fluoride is an essential element in tooth, ivory and bone. The reactivity of fluorine becomes active engagement in fluoride.
When chloride combines with sodium It form common salt, but when fluoride combines with sodium to form sodium fluoride, it is poisonous and was used as a poison to kill cockroaches, but has, disastrously, been mistaken for sodium chloride and placed in the salt dispenser, resulting in deaths.
What is the activity that we recognise in chloride and fluoride? They partner with sodium and potassium. Once partnered an important action can occur.
The sodium and potassium ions are the receptive element. They carry the chloride and fluoride in order that they can do their work.
Within our body there are four principal places where liquid occurs:
95% of sodium ions exist outside of cells in the tissue fluid.
When these ions move into or out of cells they create a potential difference. Sodium ions move across the cell membrane into the cell 200 times per second. As quickly as these ions enter the cell they are expelled by what is known as the ‘sodium pump’ within our cells. 40% of the energy we use daily is used by the sodium pump system in our cells expelling sodium from the cells. Potassium is a ‘passenger’ that is passively carried out of and into the cells. The potential difference created by sodium and potassium in our nervous system creates a wave that looks electrical. It is along this wave that nerve messages move. We do not send electrical impulses along our nerves. This process that created the possibility for neural activity is not efficient, it is driven by the relationships between the elements. The human functioning is driven by relationships, not by efficiency. The potential difference that manifests as a wave creates the potential for activity. It is not the activity itself. It creates the possibility that bears the responsibility for activity. One can say that it is being completely virginal, to the extent that the process was recognised as burning to ash and gave to it the name alkali (from the Arabic). It gives up everything for something to happen. Virgo as an earth-process in this case becomes an ash process, it is that receptive, that freely giving. It is the last element in the process from fire to ash (earth) – Fire-Process, Air-Process, Water-Process, Earth-Process. Virgo is sacrificial so as to lay down a foundation on which activity can occur.
The activity is airy, it moves. These are the chloride and fluoride activities. Because together sodium and chloride form salt this is an oceanic-process.
When we consider what is dissolved in the oceans the percentages are:
The manifestation of spirit in what has been discussed thus far in the regard to the oceanic cross is: no activity without sacrifice.
Pisces was associated with the feet or activity while Virgo establishes the path for Pisces to walk. Virgo is that which can bear. Here are the Christ qualities of bearing and ordering (the life of the world – from the Act of Consecration of Man: “You who bear and order the life of the world”). Where there is order there is direction, there is a path.
There is a lot of chemistry represented in the Act of Consecration of Man including the bringing together of the three healing processes: the sulphur-process, the mercury-process and the salt-process in the chalice. These are the substances that we consume as the wine, the water and the bread (the tiny 1/10th of the host added to the chalice) added in the order of the sulphur-process, wine, the mercury-process, water, and the salt-process, bread. There are real, active chemical processes that happen in the chalice. Each single healing process is brought in the correct combination because the Act of Consecration of Man is the healing sacrament.
The relationship between the earth-process and the air-process of the Mercury (Oceanic) Cross is clear in that wherever the sodium and potassium ions occur there is always chloride and fluoride close by.
Sodium and potassium are vital in the human body and it they that give us the physiological possibility to think because they are the pathway for our nervous system. Rudolf Steiner makes it clear that our nervous system is a physiological expression of our capacity to think. Thinking is connected to the Mercury Cross. Feeling belongs to the activity of the Sulphur (Life) Cross because we breath in oxygen and have the nitrogenous capacity to move. Our feelings are expressed as movement. It is the cardiovascular system that is physiological expression of our capacity to feel. The Salt (Mineral) Cross is connected with our capacity to carry out our will. The Mercury Cross is also connected to will activity in the metabolic processes in the human being. Thinking and Willing are combined in the Oceanic Cross. There is a connection between our thinking and our willing.
Next we shall look at the fire-process of Gemini that expresses as expansion and manifests as sulphur and the water-process of Sagittarius that expresses as assimilation and manifests as magnesium.
Magnesium is the central element of chlorophyl, and it is chlorophyl that extracts carbon from the air, from the carbon dioxide (CO2) to release oxygen into the atmosphere that makes animal life on earth possible. Magnesium assimilates making the various processes possible.
The second and third most abundant elements in the oceans are magnesium and sulphur which occur, like sodium and chlorine, as a salt. Magnesium and sulphur form magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) (MgSO4) that also dissociate or dissolve in water to form the magnesium ion (Mg+) and the sulphate ion (SO42-).
Magnesium has a connection to our digestion, our digestive-metabolic system. Both Milk of Magnesia (Mg(OH)2) and Epsom Salts (MgSO4) are taken for digestive issues. Our digestive-metabolic system takes thought into action. Magnesium and sulphate are vital to the process of extracting nutrients from the food we take in. These elements provide the expansion and assimilation required for nutrient intake.
The four elements of sodium, chlorine (as chloride), magnesium and sulphur (as sulphate) for the salts of the ocean and therefore very much connected to a watery process, the quickening healing process called the mercury-process.
Magnesium is obtained from almonds, soya beans, cocoa and parsnips. Too much magnesium can cause lethargy, weak muscles and confusion.
Magnesium derives its name from the magnesium sulphate found in ancient Greece where the Magnetes, a tribe of people, lived, called Magnēsia, which forms part of the region of Thessaly. The Greeks called it salt of the Magnetes. Epsom salts was recognised in the 17th century in the waters of a well in Epson, England from where it derives its name. The scientist who named Epsom salts was Nehemiah Grew.
Magnesium oxide (MgO) is very heat resistant. The magnesium ion forms mild bases, such as milk of magnesium. When magnesium burns it burns with a bright white light. Magnesium that is essential for chlorophyl which the plant derives from the soil. We obtain magnesium from plants through ingestion.
There are four main functions of magnesium in the body:
Magnesium should never bond with phosphate in our body as this would block the working of magnesium in our body.
Sulphur has an affinity to light. As a result sulphur has a affinity to magnesium which burns with a blinding white light. Chemically speaking sulphur is the most active of all elements. It bonds with a multitude of other elements – it expands the number of relationships it engages with.
It helps to guide the nutritional elements, particularly proteins, to be taken up by the body. It accompanies nutritional intake. It therefore has a lot to do with our metabolic processes and it is a great prompter for other substances to work together. Magnesium helps to bring substances together while sulphur helps substances form relationships, thereby expanding their potential; making them more than they would be alone. Magnesium and sulphur work in coordination.
The name sulphur is derived from Sanskrit: sulvere, according to one source or shulbari, which means enemy of copper, because it does not react strongly with copper, according to another source.
Sulphur is connected to the Divine; the Vedics understood this and the Greeks still had knowledge of this. A number of substances will sacrifice an oxygen atom (the element of life) in their structure to replace it with a sulphur atom which then, chemically, gets them the name ‘thio’ in front of their name, i.e. ‘theo’ as in meaning Divine – the Godly particle has arrived. The sulphur-process is a process of the Divine which is different from the mercury-process and the salt-process. Sulphur was well known in the ancient world and the inspired Vedic idea was that it was associated with the Divine and therefore the two vegetables that contain sulphur were not used for cooking purposes: onions and garlic, because these vegetables over-excite (stimulates delusions of grandeur in) the human being.
Sulphur reduces inflammation. Sulphur is obtained from roasted coffee and peanuts. Sulphur adds flavour and smell to onions and garlic. Halitosis is caused by three chemical substances that each contain sulphur. Sulphur is released by substances that contain it when these substances die, which gives off the smell so often associated with sulphur.
Sulphur was known at the time of the writing of the Old Testament and appears fifteen times in these scriptures. It is also known as brimstone. It has the twin-like nature of Gemini in that it can be highly reactive and dangerous or completely essential to life.
The Mercury Cross can be shown as the desire of the four elements to make Sodium Chloride – NaCl – (table salt) and Magnesium Sulphate – MgSO4 – (Epsom salts). These salts have life and activity when dissolved. These elements that make up the Mercury Cross have a lot to do with movement in the body, one being our thinking component and the other our willing component.
The activity of these elements is very real when we observe the chemical elements operating out the Spirit that they are expressing. Chemicals are an expression of Spirit in pure material reality.
The Mercury (Oceanic) Cross is the cross of will and thinking. There is something to be said for the idea of the ocean being the place from which all life is born. Sodium chloride allows the pathway for thinking and magnesium sulphate allow the pathway for full digestion, extracting the nutrients and establishing what we need the energy for. The Mercury Cross is a quickening cross – quickening of the nervous system.
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