Journal Banner

Waldorf Journal Project 9: Water as the Medium for Life

Download the article: Water as the Medium for Life

Translated by Ted Warren

If we observe a tree trunk, for example an old, rugged oak trunk, we observe something that was once alive. Through the tree trunk, life still streams. But in the coagulated form before us, life has almost completely disappeared. As soon as the living parts of the plant become hard and stiff, the plant is removed from the living stream. In the forms created by the dying substance, we observe a life-stream in a coagulated condition. The dead or partially dead plant materials still serve life as a supportive base, and are thereby part of the totality of the living organism. New life can grow forth on the old, half-dead trunk’s coagulated formations. But where does it grow forth? Only there where something is still soft enough that there is a possibility for a streaming, rhythmical movement. It needs no more than a weak indication of such streams, but the possibility must be there.

The prerequisite for such a streaming movement to appear is liquid. The streaming, moving can also be air, for example in our lungs, but for the most part flowing liquids are the element of life. Solids are either a supportive base for the streaming, moving liquids or they are actually in a dissolved condition when taken into the moving life-stream. Of all of the liquids, water has a unique ability to enable life to unfold.


Water is a liquid that needs most warmth to become warm itself and holds warmth the longest. This quality has a decisive meaning for all life on earth. If we observe the earth in its totality we discover that the oceans take in the warmth from the tropical zones. In the streams of the oceans the warmth is pulled into polar regions, reducing the cold. Without the Gulf Stream Norway’s climate would be much like Greenland’s. If we think hypothetically about another liquid in the great oceans, a liquid that would easily heat up and therefore easily give off heat, then the great balance between the tropical regions and the polar regions would not take place, and all life on earth would soon disappear.
The same balance is also found in the atmosphere’s streaming water steam. Normally a liquid’s specific weight increases when it becomes colder, and the coldest layers sink. This is also true of water, but only down to a temperature of roughly +4° Celsius (39.2° F). Below that temperature water becomes lighter and the cold climbs upwards. Therefore ice always begins to form on the surface of water and not at the bottom. Warmth is thereby held through the winter to a larger extent than if ice formation began on the bottom. Without this special quality of water the whole earth would be quickly transformed into a golden desert, for the most part an ice-desert. But thanks to the element of water, life has an opportunity to unfold.

A very special water quality plays a huge role in the organism for human life. The human body’s idealtemperature is +37° Celsius (98.6° F). A little variance either way meansSpring ice encapsulating a shoot of a sapling sickness, liie-threatenmg conditions or even death. That temperature +37° Celsius (98.6° F) is the optimum temperature for water to become a little warmer. At this point the organisms of life and water’s qualities resound harmoniously together.
How does water relate to the solid substances? We find a special condition that enables water to optimally serve life. From the perspective of chemistry, water is neutral. But among the neutral liquids water has the highest ability to dissolve solid substances and to hold solid substances in dissolved or suspended conditions. Living organisms need many solid substances for nutrition. But first the solids must be dissolved or suspended in water.

Therefore when we try to better understand how life unfolds, we must continually observe water, especially the great water cycles over the entire globe. The water cycle is modified by daily rhythms and by the rhythms of the seasons. All too often we are tempted to observe a plant in an isolated situation. It has the streaming water within, but the specific qualities and movements of the streaming water are related to all of the daily and seasonal rhythms on the earth.

In a fast-running creek water takes on countless forms that change continually. These forms are closely related to the organic forms, especially in plant life. It is very difficult to hold a single streaming water form tightly in our mental images. That would also be unfair to the creek, for it does not stand still. But a stiffened result of the streaming activities can be observed in winter when the creek is frozen with ice. The unstoppable, formation movement is gone. In the swollen formations we can observe a stiffened picture of the “living” water movements.

Now it would be a great mistake to identify life as streaming water. Life is much more than streaming water. But the streaming water is a friend of life and a servant of life. It is life’s necessary medium.
When water begins to stream, an inner movement structure in the liquid arises immediately. The speed is greatest in the middle and less on the sides where water is slowed by friction. Let us now assume that a part of the water in the middle has a certain speed and the side parts have a slower speed. Two borders will arise at the places of transition. Quickly speed differences will arise in each part, also new places of transition, and so forth. Speed in flowing water therefore becomes gradually, steadily more rapid from the sides towards the middle, and the water formations that glide by each other can be as thin as the walls of soap bubbles. Therefore enormous surfaces arise. In every cubic centimeter of streaming water hundreds of cubic-meters of inner water surfaces can be formed.
The surfaces of these forms remain at the great surface tensions (which are also special water qualities). If a certain speed is reached whirlpools arise and the wondrous, ’’living,” streaming formations of falling stream.

Let us now consider the amount of water in a falling stream. We may ask: How much does it weigh? The answer is: 1.2 kilogram (2.65 pounds). What is the chemistry formula? Answer: H2O. In many life-situations it is the questions that are most important, and answers to these questions do not always tell us the most important aspects of streaming water. The weight of water is just a factor in the game. In the minute water takes on streaming movements, where the enormous inner surfaces arise in continuous formation transformation, it reaches more than ever the “field oflife.” I reference this reality intentionally by using the word “field.”

Now we can describe some experiments performed by Theodor Schwenk in his laboratories at the Weleda factory in Schwabisch Gmund, just outside of Stuttgart, Germany. Schwenk was an engineer who specialized in the streams we find in water and air.

The First Phase
A number of glass bottles with the same form are filled 2/3 with distilled water. At 7:00am the first bottle is shaken for four minutes and returned to its place with a label stating the time. At 7:15am the next bottle is shaken. All of the other bottles are shaken every fifteen minutes. Finally he has 96 (24 x 4) bottles standing in his laboratory. The only difference between the bottles of distilled water is that they were shaken at different times.

The Second Phase
The next day he takes 96 porcelain bowls and writes the 96 different times on them. He places a bit of wheat seed in each of them. (Biodynamic wheat seeds are best for this experiment.) Then he pours the distilled water from all 96 bottles in each corresponding bowl without allowing a minute’s pause between each. The bowls sit for two days. In each bowl there are many seeds that begin to sprout, and some seeds do not sprout.

The Third Phase
The following day he takes 96 new bowls and writes the time from each shaking in the first phase on the labels. Each bowl is filled with tap water. From each bowl in phase two he chooses 30 seeds that are all sprouting. He places them group-wise in the corresponding bowl with tap water. Only the seeds with sprouts are used in the remainder of the experiment. Now he has 96 bowls and in each of them there are 30 wheat seeds that have begun to sprout, and he lets them grow in the tap water for six days. The temperature, pressure, moisture and light are the same for every bowl in the room.

The Fourth Phase
By the end of the sixth day, the sprouts have grown to approximately 10 cm in height. He measures the height of all 30 sprouts in a bowl and finds the average height. The same is done for each of the 96 bowls and groups of sprouts. It turns out that the 96 sprout heights vary with up to 1 cm difference. He draws a curve where the original time of the shaking of the water is one factor and the average height of the sprouts is another factor. (A control is also done to weigh all of the sprouts. The average weight for the 96 groups is calculated, with the result being the same as the height measurements.)
Had he merely conducted this experiment and had only one curve, the conclusion would have already been very obvious. When he has calculated the average height of the 30 sprouts for each bowl (and all of the non-sprouting seeds are removed), one should assume that the 96 average heights would be the same. There would be a slight possibility for the 30 seeds that had the greatest growth intensity (that appears in the seed’s height and weight) accidentally ended up in the same bowl. The difference is too significant to allow coincidence as the explanation.

Meanwhile Schwenk and his coworkers have not only conducted one but a series of these experiments. The same experiment was conducted practically every day for seven years. In other words 2000 experiments have been made, resulting in 2000 curves. The curve’s maximum and minimum became clearer and clearer the more curves were drawn. The experiments indicated clearly that the sprout’s growth-intensity (measured by the height of the sprout and the weight after a determined time) is different according to the corresponding seed sprouting in distilled water that was rhythmically shaken at different times. If the distilled water was shaken at 2:00pm, it received a different quality as the medium for growth intensity than distilled water that was shaken for example at 3:30pm. This must relate to the earth’s daily rhythm. During every day the atmospheric conditions change (light, warmth, moisture, and so forth) in a cycle from sunrise to noon, sunset and midnight. Experiments show that water, when shaken rhythmically at a certain time brings in a greater “field” and thereby has new qualities according to the “field’s” condition. With rhythmical shaking, water enters a streaming movement. The enormous inner surfaces create a continual and never-ending form transformation. Therefore water becomes “sensible” for activities of the greater ’’field.” It becomes a more powerful medium for life.

Schwenk’s experiments show that there is a relationship that can be further explored. In his book Grundlagen der Potenzforschung (Weleda-Verlag, Schwabisch Gmund, 1954), Schwenk explains these experiments that provide a basis for new experiments on the “potencies” of materials.

Let us indicate some of these, iron sulfate for example. Schwenk used a 1% solution of iron-sulfate. He mixed an amount of it in the ten-fold amount of water and mixed the new mixture rhythmically. We call the first potency (Dl).

We take one-tenth of the amount and mix it with the ten-fold amount of water and mix it rhythmically. This is potency (D2). We continue this way until the thirtieth potency of iron-sulfate solution (D30). As the amount of iron-sulfate is reduced, the potency number is higher. After the twenty-fourth potency, one can assume that, according to normal molecule theory, we would not have a single iron-sulfate molecule in the mixture, as the tenth in the twenty-fourth potency is a higher number than the number of molecules. potencies over twenty-four are therefore considered identical with pure water. Further, we should expect a gradually reduced level of activity from Dl to D24. The experiments, however, show that this is not the case.

Schwenk carried out the above-mentioned series of experiments with a variation; to the water where the seeds sprouted he added a solution of iron-sulfate in different potencies from Dl to D30. The growth intensity curves he recorded were not identical with the corresponding curve for distilled water.
Clear differences, even for potencies above the twenty-fourth, appear. The difference between these curves and the water curves are equally reduced from Dl to D30. Three peaks of activity appear: the first, with the lowest grade of potency; second, with the twelfth potency; and third with the twentieth level of potency. And between these three maximums are two decisive areas of minimum activity.
We can conclude that when the amount of iron sulfate is reduced new activities appear that are clearly not bound to the amount of materials. The reduction is not indifferent. If we throw a handful of iron-sulfate in the North Sea, eventually an equally strong dilution will take place as with higher potencies. But the new activities that are bound to the amount of materials do not appear. They appear only as dilution gradually takes place and especially every time with rhythmical shaking, where the enormous inner surfaces appear in continual form transformation. (This is the case for potencies using water as the medium.) With the results of many experiments that are now carried out, it is unwise to deny the existence of these activities that are not bound to the original amount of materials.

Yet this is a new area of research where the work has just begun. It is a very long and precipitous journey from proving the existence of an activity to learning how to control and use it, for example in medicine. Some research is already published. Other experiments are not yet made public but are based on solid research. We can look forward to the further publications from Schwenk and other experimental laboratories.

Jorgen Smit was a class teacher at the RudolfSteinerskole in Bergen, a founding teacher of the Rudolf Steiner Seminariat in Jama, Sweden, and was for many years a member of the Vorstand in Dornach, Switzerland.