The wasps found out how to make paper thousands and thousands of years ago, long before human beings arrived at it through their intellect.

In your history books at school you will have read about the tremendous importance for human evolution that is accorded to the invention of paper. The paper we write on — made of rags — has been in existence for only a few centuries. Before that, people had to write on parchment, which has a different origin. Only at the end of the Middle Ages did someone discover the possibility of making paper from the fibers of plants, fibers worn threadbare after having first been used for clothes. Human beings were late in acquiring the intellect that was needed for making this paper.

But the same thing (except that it is not as white as we like it for our black ink) was discovered long ago. The same stuff as is used for our present paper was discovered not just two or three thousand years ago but many, many thousands of years before our day. By whom, then? Not by human beings at all, but by wasps! Just look at any wasp’s nest you find hanging in a tree. Look at the material it consists of — paper! Not white paper, not the kind you write on, for the wasps are not yet in the habit of writing, otherwise they would have made white paper, but such paper as you might use for a package. We do have a drab-colored paper for packages that is just what the wasps use for making their nests. The wasps found out how to make paper thousands and thousands of years ago, long before human beings arrived at it through their intellect.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars – Lecture VIII – Dornach, 6th August 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

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