by Rev. Michaël Merle, reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Substance is under form or within it. Matter fills out the form and carries it. The outer manifestation from the inner appearance is substance.
Paracelsus understood that all medicine needs to separate into a specific process and then recombine where needed. He identified three primal processes and these are active in the Act of Consecration of Man. The three substances brought together in the Communion: water, wine and bread in the correct proportions, are healing medicine. Paracelsus described the sulphur-process which is a burning process, coming to ash. Sulphur is recognised as being an aspect of the Divine: when a substance containing sulphur gains an additional sulphur atom (usually in place of an oxygen) it is called thio… (e.g. in sulphuric acid we have hydrogen ions and the sulphate ion (SO42-) and when an oxygen in the sulphate ion is replaced by another sulphur it is then called thiosulphate, meaning divine sulphate). Paracelsus described the mercury-process which has the qualities of the god Mercury; it is a quickening process that is mobile and can carry something from one phase to another. The mercury process is most beautifully experienced in water which has a memory and can carry substances that can dissolve into it, and it then carries these dissolved substances. Finally, Paracelsus described the salt-process. Into the chalice at the altar the wine, or sulphur-process, is added followed by the water or mercury-process and finally a small piece of bread, or the salt-process, is added so that working together as a whole under the grace of transubstantiation they become a healing medicine.
Having described the substantiality of the quality bestowed on the earth and into the human being by the Zodiac, the substances work together in very clear ways. In each case there are four elements that work together, where one element is a fire-process, another an air-process, a third a water-process and a fourth an earth-process. When the four signs of the Zodiac that gifted these elements are plotted they relate to each other as a cross.
We begin with the four elements that make up the greatest mass of the human being: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. They are gifted by a water-process (biogen), an earth-process (geogen), a fire-process (pyrogen) and an air-process (aerogen) respectively: Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo and Taurus. Together these substances are known as the Sulphur Cross or the Life Cross or the Atmospheric Cross.
Carbon is the element that gives structure; it is form-giving. Everything that forms and is able to carry life must be formed from carbon. Therefore carbon can be seen as earth-forming or ‘geogen’ – geo for earth and gen for forming. It is misnamed as the word is derived for the old Latin word for charcoal. But charcoal is not pure carbon. When pure carbon burns the bonds between the carbon atoms are loosened and it combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and leaves no residue, no ash. This is what happens when a diamond is heated or burnt sufficiently, it vanishes into air. When charcoal is burned the carbon in charcoal also combines with oxygen and goes into the atmosphere leaving an ash of other substances in the charcoal that were the other components of the wood. Carbon and oxygen are thus clearly involved in a fiery process or a sulphur-process making up the Sulphur Cross. Oxygen is required for anything to burn.
Carbon mimics the bonding aspects of silicon. Silicon gave a sense of form on earth (through its relational capacity – especially to Oxygen) before carbon became active. But once carbon became active it perfected the form that silicon attempted to develop.
Carbon can form four equally angled bonds. It can form these bonds with other elements, e.g. with hydrogen to form CH4 or methane gas which is a very stable gas and occurs freely in the atmosphere. Methane is the primary expression of carbon. Carbon can bond with itself to form chains. The other bonds in these chains can be with hydrogen giving us ethane, propane, butane, pentane, hexane, heptane, octane, etc. as the number of carbon atoms increases.
Carbon can form rings
Carbon can form double and even triple bonds with itself
The nature of carbon occurs to give form and to give structure.
Where does carbon come from? It is created in dying stars. A star consists mostly of hydrogen. In a star two atoms of hydrogen are bonded to form helium. This atomic fusion process emits light and energy. Eventually all the hydrogen is used up and in the process of dying the atoms of helium undergo atomic reaction to form other elements of the periodic table. Carbon is thus created within a dying star and expelled into the universe. Carbon is thus the corpse of a star but on earth it becomes the body for life. Most of the Carbon on earth originates from the star CW Leonis or IRC +10216 at 310 light years away in the constellation of Leo. Our atmosphere contains about 724 billion tonnes of carbon while the oceans contain about 39 000 billion tonnes of carbon and about 100 million billion tonnes of carbon in the rocks of the earth of which the crust of the earth contains the majority of carbon-bearing rock. There are about 375 000 billion tonnes of carbon trapped in the earth’s crust derived from organic sources and these are: coal, oil and gas. There are about 40 billion tonnes of carbon in living things in the oceans and about 2000 billion tonnes of carbon in the living things on land. Carbon is most abundant in the rock of the earth and therefore should be named ‘geogen’.
In pure form, carbon can bond as diamond forming the hardest substance on earth but it can also bond differently to form graphite which is very soft and forms a perfect lubricant as the plates from which it is formed easily slide over each other.
The tiny town of Nördlingen in Swabia, Bavaria is built inside of the impact crater of a meteorite that struck about 15 million years ago. The impact of the meteorite created microscopic diamonds and the town is built of the rock containing these diamonds; the town is literally built of diamonds.
Carbon dioxide is the heaviest component in air. Carbon with oxygen is beginning to give air a taste towards life-substance, matter. It is the gas that most wishes to become engaged in a solid.
Hydrogen is the gift of Leo. The name hydrogen means water-forming. This is what occurs when hydrogen gas burns. However, hydrogen gas is formed in a burning process. It should therefore rightly be called ‘pyrogen’ or fire-forming. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe making up 76% or more of all elemental matter.
Hydrogen occurs in our blood which is made up of 85% water or H2O. This results in 9.4% of our blood by mass being hydrogen – it is very light compared to the oxygen.
Hydrogen has a capacity to create a very special inter-particle force between other elements of the Periodic Table, called a hydrogen bond. The most important hydrogen bond in the human body is in the DNA as it is the hydrogen bond that holds the two strands of the DNA together.
Hydrogen prefers to exist as a gas, H2. When it therefore bonds with heavier elements to form particles it transforms the particles to a gas. Examples are hydrogen bonding to carbon forming methane gas, when hydrogen bonds with phosphorus it forms phosphene gas and when hydrogen bonds with sulphur it forms hydrogen sulphide, which is a gas. It is only H2O that condenses to a liquid in its natural state at the earth’s surface. Water defies the principle of hydrogen to lift heavier elements into a gas. This is the gift of Scorpio and Aquarius working together to provide the miracle of water.
Oxygen is at home in the human blood although it is most predominant in the atmosphere. Oxygen is carried by the blood to every cell in the body. At the cell respiration occurs. Respiration is a sulphur-process, a burning process. Without respiration, life dies. Oxygen is required for respiration and therefore for life to exist. The correct name for oxygen should therefore be ‘biogen’, life-forming. This is a water-process.
Oxygen enlivens every earthly element. It is the carrier of life. This is the standard understanding of oxygen by science. This provides us with the understanding of why water is an essential element added to the wine in the chalice at the altar. An alchemical process takes place when the water is added to the wine. The mercury-process and the sulphur-process are held and to this is added the salt-process in the form a small piece of bread. The three healing processes are combined in the chalice.
Oxygen means acid-forming and was given this name because alkaline substances that are excessively oxidised become acidic. It derives its name from a process and not from a characteristic inherent in itself.
The earth’s atmosphere consists of 20% oxygen for which we have cyanobacteria to thank. These were the first organisms to extract oxygen from carbon dioxide, using the carbon and expelling the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Cyanobacteria have helped to create the atmosphere that enables life to exist. Only Mars and Venus contain any oxygen in their atmospheres but in very small quantities: Mars has 0.15% oxygen and on Venus it is negligible.
Oxygen occurs in two stable forms: oxygen gas, O2 and Ozone, O3. Ozone is poisonous but forms a barrier to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun at between 20km and 40km above the surface of the earth. Oxygen also has a protective quality as well as a life-giving quality.
The earth-forming, geogen, fire-forming, pyrogen, and life-forming, biogen, elements combine to form a carbohydrate. All three are involved in the sulphur-process or burning process: without oxygen nothing burns, hydrogen is fire-forming (formed out of the fire of the “big bang”). These substances that form the Sulphur Cross and form the atmosphere – the cross of the Zodiac that gives us an atmosphere – are mediated gifts of the first Hierarchy: the Seraphim, the burning ones, the Cherubim, the winged eagle, the winged lion, the winged bull and winged man – Scorpio, Leo, Taurus and Aquarius – the four signs of the Zodiac that gifted these elements, and the Thrones, thunder, lightning (which helps to form ozone). These elemental expressions are so much more than just chemical bonds. They carry a true understanding of Spirit into matter, a true substantiality.
Carbohydrates express as starch, sugar or cellulose. When carbon (geogen) is most active (the characteristic of carbon is active, not the atoms of carbon) the carbohydrate manifests as cellulose, giving form. When oxygen (biogen) is most active the carbohydrate manifests as starch, that abundance and life of the plant world. When hydrogen (pyrogen) is most active the hydrocarbon manifests as sugar and burns to give us energy.
Nitrogen makes up about 78% of our atmosphere. Together with oxygen, hydrogen and carbon these are the four active elements in our atmosphere. The other elements that occur in the atmosphere do not participate in any processes e.g. four of the noble gases, argon, neon, helium and krypton are more abundant than hydrogen, in the order presented. Carbon was more prevalent in the atmosphere at CO2 until plants began to extract it providing O2 that makes life possible. The carbon becomes stored energy in plants. Carbohydrates burn to give energy when the carbon to hydrogen bond breaks and the elements are released as carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas.
The human being is unable to take in nitrogen in the way that plants can. Plants take in nitrogen from the world around them, from the soil. One can rightly say that the cosmos rays into the plant to create it. Animals and humans take in spiritual source into themselves and create themselves from within.
Nitrogen provides movement. It is required in the plant within the seed because the seed must be released and must ‘move’ away from the parent plant. The seed is the only part of the plant that contains protein, plant protein.
Nitrogen is the gift of Taurus and has the quality of movement. Nitrogen moves independently in our atmosphere as N2 gas. While carbon bonds with oxygen or hydrogen to form carbon dioxide or methane, Some oxygen and hydrogen combine as water vapour. Nitrogen does not form bonds with other elements in the atmosphere.
Nitrogen is named because it forms nitre or saltpetre or potassium nitrate, so it was called nitre/nitron-forming. The splitting of the Divine Principle into a Niterine Principle and a Saline Principle as understood by Paracelsus, he recognised that nitrogen is part of the burning and moving principle. Its correct name should be ‘aerogen’ or air forming. Nitrogen endows animals with an airy, astral movement.
In the human body nitrogen forms nitric oxide and protein. Nitric oxide, NO, is the messenger to the muscles to relax. Without nitric oxide our muscles would contract and remain rigid following the carbon principle. Animals are able to move only because the muscles can relax. It is nitrogen that provides movement to animals. The cardiovascular system relies on nitric oxide for the blood vessels to dilate and constrict. The flexibility is given by nitrogen. Nitric oxide is required for the immune system to function. Nitric oxide is required for the peripheral and central nervous systems to function. Nitric oxide is manufactured in the brain by nitric oxide synthase. We make nitric oxide ourselves in one of our organs. Our organic work manufactures it, we do not take it in from the environment as food. It is not the cosmos raying into us, but rather the cosmos that exists within us that rays out. There is a connection between nitrogen and ensouling. The soul cannot enter into a being without the presence of nitrogen.
Nitrogen occurs in nature in ammonia, NH3. Ammonia received it name in Egypt where it was first recognised in a deposit of ammonium chloride near the Temple of Ammon and named after the god Ammon as the salt of Ammon.
When ammonia combines with a hydrogen ion, NH3 + H- to form NH4-. The essence is that a proton without an electron (H-) combines with a molecule of ammonia through what is called a protolytic reaction. NH4- is known as ammonium which can now bond with chlorine to form ammonium chloride.
Nitric oxide is very important to the functioning of the body and when we receive an infection the brain manufactures nitric oxide in response to the infection in order to boost our immune functioning. But when the infection is severe, and the brain is over-stimulated to produce nitric oxide, we are poisoned by the excess nitric oxide and die of septic shock. The excess nitric oxide reduces our blood pressure by over-relaxing the blood vessels to the point where we die. We need oxygen to provide energy to fight the infection and not the excess of nitric oxide. We could regulate our reaction to infection by breathing. Rudolf Steiner describes how the capacities of soul are supported physiologically, we feel in our soul when we breath – stop breathing and we stop feeling. We think because of the physiological functioning of the nervous system. We can take action because of the physiological functioning of the metabolic system. Our soul can only express in our body because it has the physiological support for that function of soul. When we panic, the body follows the path of the soul and reacts to the panic, the body does not react to the thing causing the panic. Thus, staying calm allows us to deal with the threat physiologically.
Nitric oxide brings a fluidity to our cardiovascular system and our nervous system and to our immune system that is vital for their correct functioning, but its primary function is in our muscles where it relaxes them so that they can contract to give us movement.
When nitrogen bonds with oxygen, hydrogen and carbon to form a protein, the characteristic of nitrogen dominates. The other three elements lose the possibility to dominate as they do in carbohydrates giving rise to three different forms of carbohydrate. The dominance of nitrogen changes the carbohydrate potential to a protein. Proteins are composed of amino acids. An amino acid is NH2 combined with CO2 that has combined with a hydrogen – an amino group, NH2, and an acidic carboxyl group, COOH, with a side chain that makes it a specific amino acid. The nitrogen in the protein activates something to give a capacity that a carbohydrate does not have. One outstanding capacity is the independence of movement. Therefore, a seed needs nitrogen to be able to leave the parent plant through an independence of movement and then activate the germination process which requires independent movement. The gift of Taurus is extraordinary.
The plant takes in everything from the atmosphere:
An ensouled animal takes in cosmic forces and produces the elements in its organs through organic activity.
We can now consider which protein is healthier for us to take into our bodies; the protein from plants which is formed from cosmic life or the protein from animals which is an expression of organic life.
We see in the images above as a cross.
When given their proper name these elements are: pyrogen, aerogen, biogen and geogen.
These four elements work together in partnership with each other to express life in plants and animals. In the atmosphere they do not work together, where they express their nature of burning. They are not found in combination in the mineral world (with a few aberrant exceptions). Rocks do not contain nitrogen because they lack the requirement to move. Nitrogen is a key component in explosives, the component to move it.
Christ is in the centre of this cross and in the periphery of the cross.
The activity of Christ is to create a centre. Christ works from the periphery to the centre in plants. Christ works from the inside out in the human being, but only when the human being can express it; otherwise the Christ-in-me remains invisible. We express the Christ-in-me. The cosmos radiates in, and the plant expresses it. We do not express the Christ unless it is expressed from within.
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