What is a poison? Water is a strong poison if you consume it by the bucketful in a short time; and what today is poison could have the most beneficial effect if rightly administered. It depends always on the quantity, and under which circumstances, one takes a substance into oneself; in itself, there is no poison.
In Africa there is a tribe who employ a certain breed of dog for hunting. But there is a fly in those parts carrying a poison deadly to the dogs that they sting. Now these savages of the Zambesi river have found a way of dealing with this sting. They take the pregnant dogs to a district where there is an abundance of tsetse flies and let these animals be bitten, choosing the time when they are just going to whelp, with the result that the puppies are immune and can be used for hunting.
Something happens here which is very important for the understanding of life — a poison is taken up into a life process, where a descending line passes over in an ascending one, in such a way that the poison becomes a substance inherent in the organism. What is thus taken from external nature strengthens us and is of use to us.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – The Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death – Berlin, 13nd December 1906
Translated by Violet E. Watkin