In line with most spiritual teachings Steiner outlined existence on this planet as manifesting due to an interplay of spiritual 'bodies' and physical elements. These bodies consolidate into specific forms, out of several streams of force or energy that are sourced from various spheres within the universe.

The four major bodies are the Physical, Etheric or Life body, the Astral - sensation or soul body, and the Ego or spirit body.

While an in depth description of these bodies and their relationship to the four kingdoms of nature could be entered into it will suffice here to refer the reader to "Occult Science" or to the introduction in "Healing Plants" by Peliken for an overview.

It can be said though that manifestation: IS in the mineral kingdom, LIVES in the plant world, EXPERIENCES through the animals, and COMPREHENDS ITSELF through humans. *

One important point to note with regard to the working of these bodies, is that in Man a major polarity of force exists between the Physical and Etheric bodies, moving upwards on one hand and the Astral and the Ego bodies on the other hand, moving towards the Earth. This polarity also exists within plants. However, while the Astral and Ego do not directly enter plants, their effects are nevertheless evident. (2)

Elements of protein and the spiritual bodies

The basic molecule of life is the protein molecule, and Steiner reveals, it is the four elements of this molecule, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Hydrogen, that carry these four bodies into manifestation. Carbon the basis of structure, is the seat of the physical form, Oxygen, the basis of life carries the Etheric body, while Nitrogen carries the Astral body providing sensation and Hydrogen, the Ego providing self consciousness. Sulphur and Phosphorus are seen as lubricators, much like oil is in a motor, that help these four basic elements combine into more complex substances.

Seen from this perspective, chemistry takes on a whole new light. What is suggested here is that only where these elements exist is it possible for these bodies to go. Therefore the chemical characteristics of any 'environment' suggests the potential spiritual activity of that environment.

The lower atmosphere that we live in is compounded of these elements to the approximate divisions of 16-20% Oxygen, 80% Nitrogen, and Hydrogen 0.2%, which at 100 miles up in the stratosphere changes to 99.5% (1) while the Carbon content of the air is around .05%. From this it is apparent that there is certainly a strong Astral presence in the 'normal' reality and that nitrogen could play a more important role that we are lead to believe.

Now looking at Oxygen we can see that it works in different levels on this planet. It is immediately apparent that oxygen (O2) is the substance that we breath. Our basic source is supplied to us through the plants - land and aquatic, who breath in Carbon Dioxide, hold the Carbon into themselves and then release the Oxygen into the air. We in turn, breath it in, combine it with Carbon from our bodies and release Carbon Dioxide. (CO2) This process enables us to continually renew ourselves every seven years. If it was not for the continual breakdown of Carbon we would become as rigid as coal. The plants form this carbon into wood which eventually is returned back to the earth.

It is significant to note that a forest grows to a height of say 150 feet and releases Oxygen into the atmosphere to that level. This in turn allows the Etheric sphere of the Earth to extend in a more concentrated way than say a modern pastoral landscapes, with an average foliage height of 4-10", for Oxygen production. This indicates the etheric life of that environment has to be markedly smaller. Can you feel and see the difference?

Where the Etheric is diminished the Astral moves into take its place. This can be seen in the plants and animals that inhabit any environment. The grasses with their blade like leaves in comparison to the palmate form of the fern suggests the difference in intensity of both light and heat, while rabbits could be seen to be replacing the birds of the forests.

We again met Oxygen in the form of Ozone (O3) at the Ozone belt. This belt in the stratosphere acts as a shield against the damaging cosmic and ultra violet rays of the universe. Without this oxygen based shield life can not exist on the planet.

This suggests that oxygen and therefore the Etheric formative forces physical influences, exist from inside the planet out to the rim of the Ozone layer. Looking at the Earth as a being (Gaia) within the body of the universe we develop the image that this region indicates the Etheric body of planet Earth. The Astral body extends to the rim of the planets and the Ego extends to the rim of the fixed stars. This then is the 'World' macroscopic dimensions of our reality.

The greenhouse gases

The major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), menthane (NH4), nitrous oxide (NO3) and Hydroflurocarbons. The main elements in these compounds are again carbon, nitrogen,oxygen and hydrogen.

With the Ozone layers breakdown and pollution in general, it is not that oxygen and its processes are disappearing, it is more that Oxygens' has a tendency to combine with other elements, to keep them in the sphere of life, thus being locked up by excessive amounts of Carbon, Nitrogen, Hydrogen and sulphur. In the case of CFCs, Chlorine is the main offender.

These elements are coming from a variety of sources. Carbon is being released for its traditional resting places as coal, oil and trees. So that what has taken millions of years for nature to take out of the atmosphere we have been pumping back in our atmosphere over the last two hundred years. Nitrogen and Hydrogen are being primarily released into the atmosphere through methane produced not only from industry but mostly as a result of agricultural production, as dung from animals and run off from nitrogenous fertilizes.

As these elements are released they combine with the available oxygen. As we are also cutting down the trees we are not only diminishing the world of its humus, and lessening the ability of the environment to keep up with the neutralization of these gases. We also create more through burn offs and replace the oxygen plant factory with a methane animal factory. As we pollute the lower atmosphere , excessive elements find their way into the upper atmosphere. Different elements find their 'new home' at different levels in the atmosphere.

The major element in Ozone destruction is Chlorine. Its action, in breaking off one atom of oxygen, could be likened to Aids, in that it destroys one Ozone molecule and then carries onto the next. It is the resulting O2 that can go on to recombine with other pollutants as well as not reflecting ultraviolet rays as effectively.

So what?

As the oxygen becomes locked up it leaves less free oxygen available for the free movement of the Etheric body. Suggesting that as pollution occurs it will influence the balance of the spiritual bodies and therefore plants, animals and human activity.

In the case of the Carbon. This being the main polluter of the industrialised regions, it suggests that the physical body will work more strongly than might be considered normal and that it will slow the activity of decarbonisation. This in turn will lead to a continued rigidification and earth boundness of the individual. Showing firstly in their thoughts and attitudes, then in their physical form. They will slowly turn to stone. RS suggests that cancer finds its beginnings in the improper workings of the Physical and Ego poles. Here the Etheric body is overcome by a too strong physical organism. These would naturally increase as Carbon increases in the environment.

As the influence of the Etheric body decreases, the astral moves into replace it. As nitrogen increases so it will strengthen the Astrals influence in the environment and in Humans, even further. Nitrogen and therefore the astral body are strong components in most plant 'poisons' Mind altering substances find their sources often in these alkaloids. These substances produce a greater sensitivity to psychological factors, the world of dreams and delusions. The astral world manifests our fears, joys and expectations as realities all within the imagination. In this action we can see that nitrogen tends to lift us away from reality. If Carbon turns us to stone then nitrogen will turn us to mist. On the positive side it enables humanity to conceive of realities beyond the physical and in turn a growing awareness of 'spiritual' experience will result, in the early stages at least.

People who are run down - weak Etheric - often experience an increase in psychological difficulties. By replacing missing vitamins and maintaining a good diet these disturbances come back into balance. Oxygen therapy is increasingly gaining acceptance as an important healer. Be it through pills or aerobic exercise.

Hydrogen is very elusive and while it carries the primal archetype to incarnation and carries awareness, it also acts as a dispersing or death force. The Astral and Ego, in their inward moving motion consume the etheric body. They use the etheric as fuel for their own activity and if they become too strong or if the etheric can not replenish itself they eventually fully consume the etheric and death occurs. One of the functions of sleep is that the Etheric body gets a break from the Astral and Ego and rebuilds itself. If they do not leave the Physical -Etheric organism at sleep, one dreams heavily and one awakes, exhausted. Drugs, including tea and coffee, stimulate the Astral over the Etheric and hence 'burn out' is experienced once this Astral stimulus recedes.

The Egos consumption of the Etheric occurs as one takes more responsibility in life, and draws on inner resources for authority and wilfulness, so increasing the ageing process. The Ego phase imaged in the plant is the seeding which often causes death or some degree of dieback. So as the hydrogen content increases so will early maturity and premature aging .

The Ozone

As suggested earlier, the Ozone layer is the outer boundary of the Earths Etheric body and just as the pollutants are consuming the Etheric body at this macro level, so in a similar way pollution is at the microlevel damaging Humans. As the Earths Etheric body becomes damaged it allows the Cosmic Astral to come into a sphere it is usually held out off. Physically this shows as more ultraviolet in the environment and the micro effects are increased. The ozone layer is part of the Earths lymphatic system and as it disappears so the individual lymphatic systems begin to disintegrate, giving rise to lowered immunity. The intensity of light is increasing and with it comes the corresponding natural consequences. Plants are flowering themselves to death, a greater range of heavy insects and pests are becoming endemic, while mental illness and physical sickness (are) will increase.

Spiritual considerations - Pollutions hidden agenda.

The logical and extreme outcome of the present situation is that the Oxygen on the planet will become totally 'consumed' by its sister elements. Nitrogen, Hydrogen and Carbon. Suggesting that it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the connection of the Etheric body with the Physical. Resulting in death, extinction actually.

On a personal level this may not be considered such a drama, but when this is applied to the whole planet, we are looking at this planet being unable to support Human life for some 50,000 to 100,000 years at least, if past experience is to be relived.

If we are to believe the great seers and mystics that have inhabited this planet, we are told that human birth is a very rare opportunity. It can take place on few planets within the entire creation. The opportunity offered by human birth is to develop further along the path of spiritual development and that this is the only plane that this development can take place. Once we leave the physical body we are firstly at the mercy of our astral bodies reality and held spiritually by the deeds and karma we have produced through our evolution. The Earth is therefore the place where we clean up our act.

If we are to further believe these teachings we are told that our journey through this plane is beset by forces of good and evil, and that the darker forces are continually attempting to lead us either into a purely material earthbound consciousness, devoid of spiritual reality or off the earth into a dream reality of nil responsibility and sense of purpose. Seducing us to sit under the mushroom, consumed in the fantasies of the Astral realm.

Both lead us from the path of individual and collective spiritual evolvement. It would seem that through the pollution of this planet both of these goals are being reached. If it reaches its ultimate goal of total annihilation of the life on this plane, then the souls that are destined to carry on their evolution on this plane, become stuck or trapped as wards of a dead planet, until nature achieves the balance again.

The Solution.

As stated, the primary element to be suffering in all this drama is the Etheric body and notably the oxygen in the environment. This occurs as much on a personal level as global. As the Ozone hole and pollution increases it will become increasingly important to consciously maintain and repair your etheric body as well as that of the planet. This can be achieved in a number of ways. As the external pollution has to get worse before it gets better. - If we stop polluting today it will still take at least 15 years for the present pollutions effects to be felt - it is your personal etheric body that is your immediate protection. Strengthen that through good nutrition. Bio-Dynamic or organic food, plenty of aerobic activity in one form or another and be sure you can get relatively clean air. Also plenty of sleep. All astral and ego stimulants such as drugs - of all forms - and sugar need to be kept to a minimum. It may become dangerous to eat the solanace family, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes etc. If your energy drains after eating them stop it and see if it makes a difference. Plant lots of trees in your immediate environment. As shade and as oxygen producers. Build up an etheric cushion to live under. Oxygen supplements, spiralina and wheat grass or other 'green' drinks will help. I question the use of too many denatured vitamins too. Eating meat increases the intake of Astral force and increases the drain on the Etheric body through its digestion. As these forces become in short supply this may need to be reconsidered. Computer and other technology are very damaging to your etheric body, so take care. Wear a hat and sun screen in summer whenever you go outside.

On a macrolevel. Just stop polluting. Keep your carbon output to a minimum. Do not support the ever spreading extensive cultivation of herd animals and plant trees. Heaps of them. They are one scientific solution!

Use the Bio-Dynamic preparations on your land. Especially the cow horn \ manure or 500 spray or Etherics 1000 for the soil. Put full sets of preparations into all compost heaps to regulate methane releases from this source. Increase the humus level of your soil through compost and through heavy mulching. This acts as a carbon sink for the environment as do trees. Grow shade trees over your garden. Leguminous trees will help to bind atmospheric nitrogen into the soil and aid soil fertility. 501 usage should be examined carefully. As the Ozone depletion and greenhouse gases take effect its use will need to be reduced. Formula spraying of this preparation, as is presently practiced in New Zealand could cause problems, as experienced by one Dairy farm in North Auckland a few years ago.

But most of all find the middle ground between getting stuck to the earth and floating away.

* Healing Plants - W Peliken 1 Nature of Substance - R Hauschka.

2 Biodynamics Decoded

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