About Formative Forces in the Plant WorldDick van Romunde
Translated by Jannebeth Röell
Illustrations by Elly van Hardeveld
A book review by Richard Katz
"The core teaching of this book is that plant study involves a deep penetration by the senses, mind and heart into the very activity of the formative forces. Dick van Romunde's book is the fruit of a life's work that spans more than four decades - his practice of plant observation as a meditative discipline. It is filled with precise botanical observations of many plants, and illustrated by excellent color drawings by Elly van Hardeveld. Yet, this is more than just another plant guide, for its emphasis is on the way that plant forms (morphology) reveal the working of formative forces in Nature."
What are formative forces? The author makes no attempt at an abstract definition. Indeed, there is only a brief introduction to the material, stressing the process of observation, rather than conclusions. We are invited to use the author's observations as examples for our own activity of discovery.
Nonetheless, I will attempt an introduction to the idea of formative forces, as an entry point for readers who may not be familiar with the philosophical underpinnings of this work, which are found in the writings of Goethe, Steiner, Pelikan and other researchers in Goethean and Anthroposophical plant science.
Formative forces arise out of the realm of life energies - the etheric body - known in various traditions as vital force (homeopathy), chi (Chinese medicine), and prana (Ayurveda). They are a counterpoint to the physical energies and substances studied by the conventional materialistic science of our time. This reductionist science explains the formation of a living entity, such as a plant, as the elaboration of DNA programming in the cells and other biophysical mechanisms. By contrast, a true living science recognizes the etheric formative forces that interact with physical substance. They are like the guiding hands of the potter that shape the clay as it turns on the potter's wheel. Yet, because they belong to a realm that is invisible to our ordinary sense impression, we only "see' these forces by their results, by studying the forms in nature.
The core teaching of this book is that plant study involves a deep penetration by the senses, mind and heart into the very activity of the formative forces. We cannot remain passive, detached onlookers with no relationship to that which we are observing. At the same time, our observation must be objective, in that it must be true to what we are observing, and not merely a projection of our inner moods or wishes (one of the problems with many so-called psychic "attunements').
8.75 x 6.5 inches