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The Earth's Passage Through Its Former Planetary Conditions

A Lecture By
Rudolf Steiner
Kassel, June 24, 1907
GA 100

Lecture IX from Theosophy and Rosicrucianism, 14 Lectures by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, delivered from the 16th to the 29th of June 1907. This lecture was delivered at Kassel on the 24th of June, 1907. From greatly abbreviated stenographic notes, unrevised by the lecturer. Lecture 9 of 22 from the volume: Human Development and Cognition of Christ The volume of the Complete Edition of the works of Rudolf Steiner containing the original text of the this lecture, among twenty-two others, is entitled: Menschheitsentwickelung und Christus-Erkenntnis. Theosophie und Rosenkreutzertum. Das Johannes-Evangelium. (No. 100 in the Bibliographical Survey, 1961).

This English edition of the following lecture is published by permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

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THEOSOPHY AND ROSICRUCIANISM

14 Lectures by Dr. RUDOLF STEINER, delivered from the
16th
to the 29th of June 1907.

From greatly abbreviated notes not revised by the lecturer.

IX.

THE EARTH'S PASSAGE THROUGH ITS FORMER PLANETARY CONDITIONS.

In continuation of yesterday's sketch on the planetary evolution, let us now add some further explanations. We have already explained that our earth once passed, through a Saturn, a Sun and a Moon condition. Let me now describe to you these successive states of existence, as they are usually described in occultism. When speaking of the soul's development along the path of knowledge, we shall be able to understand many things which can now only be advanced hypothetically.

If we consider the Saturn state of existence, that condition of our earth lying millions and millions of years before the present time, we find that it presented an aspect greatly differing from the one which is taken for granted through our present physical conditions. Above all, we should bear in mind that man, the most perfect being we know, has passed through the longest course of development. You will therefore hear the description of a course of development which greatly deviates from the Haeckel-Darwin theory of evolution, but the advantages of this purely materialistic theory may be gathered from my book, “Haeckel, the Riddles of the World and Theosophy”.

The first thing to be grasped is that the most perfect beings are those who passed through the longest course of development, and the most perfect being of all is man, especially the physical body of man. All other beings in our environment have not attained to the perfection of man's physical body, which has taken longer than all others for its development. If we look back through spiritual vision, we therefore find that the first foundation of man's physical body was laid upon Saturn. The whole universe, with all the beings and objects which it; contained; influenced the first state of the earth's existence. The present human beings on our planet still possess all the organs which were formed upon Saturn and they are the most perfect parts of man's physical body, namely, the sense-organs. These apparatuses can be grasped from a purely physical aspect and their first foundation was, then laid. Of course, you must not think-that the eye existed on Saturn in the same form in which it exists to-day. But the first foundation of the eye, the ear, of every sense-organ and of all the other purely physical apparatuses of the human being appeared on Saturn. The only activities existing upon Saturn which may still be found to-day, are those which pertain to the mineral kingdom. (Crystallizations, etc.)

Upon Saturn, the human being existed in the form which was the first foundation of his physical body, everything, else, the blood, the tissues, etc. did not then exist. Physical apparatuses constituted the first basis of man's physical body. Even as the emerald, the mica, etc. arise through physical laws and develop in the form of cubes, hexæders, etc., so at that time forms developed which resembled apparatuses and which existed upon Saturn in the same way in which crystals now exist upon the earth. The activity of Saturn's surface essentially consisted in a kind of reflection which went out into the universal space. The Beings in Saturn's environment who were scattered in the universal spaces sent down their influences. Something which we may call the “cosmic aroma” was also then strongly developed. Only a few phenomena of the present day may give you a feeling for what took place upon Saturn; for example, when you hear an echo in Nature, the sound of this echo can convey to you something which went streaming out of Saturn as the result of the impressions which it received. These conglomerations of forces resembling apparatuses which threw back pictures in the universal space, formed the first foundation of that which developed later on as the eye. In a similar way we might follow the development of everything else. What you now have within your body, was once upon Saturn a physical kingdom, which sent out into the world's spaces the reflection of the whole cosmos in a manifold manner.

Myths and legends preserved this knowledge far more clearly than one generally supposes. The Greek myth of Chronos and Rhea, proceeding from the Eleusinian Mysteries, preserved for example such a truth; it contains, however, a great displacement of facts, due to the way in which the Greeks viewed the great cosmic connections. This myth tells us that Chronos sent down his rays and that these rays then returned to him in many forms; this explains the picture of Chronos devouring his children.

Now you must not think that the Saturn mass was as firm and solid as the physical bodies of to-day; even water and air do not give you an idea of Saturn's fundamental substance. When speaking of bodies in occultism, we speak of solid, liquid and gaseous bodies. And if we speak of the elements, in the old manner, they correspond to that which modern chemistry designates as the “aggregate conditions” of matter, for you must not think that the men of olden times, when speaking of the “elements”, meant the same thing as we do. Then there is a higher “aggregate state”, designated in ancient occultism as “fire”, a better meaning is however, conveyed by calling it “heat”. Even physics will be obliged to recognise that what is designated as heat, may be compared, with a kind of fourth aggregate state, with another kind of substance differing from air and water. The Saturn mass was not even condensed to the state of air it consisted of purified heat, and its activity resembled that of the heat contained in your blood, for it was connected with inner life-processes. The physical processes upon Saturn were real life-processes. Saturn consisted of heat-substance, of an immensely fine volume which may be designated as neutral, if compared with our present substances.

If we wish to study the Beings who inhabited Saturn, we must realise that the Beings whom we now see moving about upon the earth, then possessed only the first beginning of a physical body; they were embodied in heat-substance, and their activity consisted in a current of heat which moved about. These currents constituted the deeds of the Beings who filled Saturn with life. Even as to-day you are able to make a table, so these Saturn-beings did their work by producing currents of heat. Nothing else could be observed of these Beings. A greeting exchanged upon Saturn was as if two currents of heat moved to and fro, exchanging their forces.

The Beings who passed through the human stage upon Saturn did not possess a physical body as their lowest member, for they did not descend into matter so deeply as to require a physical body. Their lowest member was the Ego, even as to-day our lowest member is the physical body; then came their Sprit-Self or Manas, their Life-Spirit or Buddhi, their Spirit-Man or Atma. In addition they developed an eighth, ninth and tenth member, which must be included.

Theosophical literature calls these members which the human being has not yet developed, the “Three Logoi”; in Christianity they are called the Holy Spirit, the Son or the Word, and the Father. We may therefore say: Even as the human being now consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body and Ego, Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man, so these Beings living upon Saturn, who in regard to their connection with the earth may be compared with the present human beings, consisted of Ego, Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man, of the Holy Ghost, the Son or Word, and the Father. The theosophical terminology designates them as “asuras”. They are the Beings who from the very beginning implanted into the physical foundation of man's body the feeling of independence, of Ego-consciousness and of Ego-feeling. You could not use your eye in the service of the Ego had your eye's foundation not been prepared at that time, so that now you are enabled to place your eye at the service of the Ego. These members were therefore prepared by the Spirits of the Ego, also named the Spirits of Egoism. They gave us the wisest thing of all, when developed in the right, way. But everything of the highest nature becomes perverted into its opposite-if it is not developed in the right way, because then it exercises the most harmful and destructive influence. Man could never reach that high stage which we designate as human dignity, had not these Spirits of Egoism implanted, in him the Ego-feeling. There have always been Beings who followed an evil course, and consequently we must say: The Beings who implanted the Ego into man and who are now upon a stage of development greatly surpassing the human one, those Beings to whom we may look up as the highest of all, gave their Ego as an offering of self-renunciation and sacrifice; but the others followed the development of their Ego in a selfish manner.

In striving after freedom and human dignity we bear within us the influences of the Spirits of the Ego who followed the good path, and we bear within us the seed of evil, because the influence of the Beings who fell away continued to be active. This contrast has always been felt. Christianity itself makes a distinction between God the Father, whom it considers as the most highly developed Spirit of Saturn, and his opponent, the Spirit of all the evil Egos and of everything which is radically immoral, the Spirit who fell away upon the ancient Saturn. These are the two representatives of Saturn.

Even as after death we encounter other forms of existence, so a cosmic body, such as Saturn, passes through a kind of intermediate state, a kind of sleep-condition, before it enters into a new condition; it passes through a “pralaya” in contrast to a “manvantara”, so that we have a kind of resting, passive condition, of the planet, between the Saturn and the Sun state of existence. The whole planet then emerges in a new form from its sleeping state, which is, however, a spiritual one.

Saturn thus emerged as the Sun, and a considerable transformation had taken place. Upon the Sun, a great number of the germs which had already developed upon Saturn and which are still developing within us to-day, were permeated by an etheric body. During such a planetary transition something evolves which may be compared with the fruit of a plant, which we lay in the earth; it decays, but it forms the foundation of a new plant. Thus everything which developed upon Saturn arose again upon the Sun with a new foundation and it became permeated with on etheric body.

There were also other beings who had remained behind upon the mineral-physical stage, and they can be compared with the present mineral kingdom. The Sun absorbed them as a kind of subordinate kingdom of Nature, but at the same time another kingdom was raised to the stage of plant-man.

You obtain a right conception of the Sun-atmosphere if you imagine a thick, chemical gas, no longer representing a merely reflecting body, but one which absorbed everything which came raying towards it, and after having transformed it, reverberated it in the same way in which plants now reverberate colours. The plant forms its green colour and other substances and returns them to the cosmic spaces. That which lived upon the ancient Sun cannot be compared with an echo, nor with a reflected image, as in the case of Saturn; in regard to the beings embodied upon the Sun, we come across a phenomenon which can only be compared with a kind of fata morgana, with atmospheric phenomena resembling coloured pictures. Such phenomena which can only be perceived to-day in certain regions of our globe, can give you an idea of how these plant-bodies could be perceived. You must imagine that your bodies revealed certain fata morgana-like processes, through which your present bodies could pass as if through air. You were then as transparent as a fata morgana — but this phenomenon did not only consist of light, but also of tones and smells whirring through the gas-sphere of the Sun.

Whereas the beings living upon the Sun could shine like the fixed stars of to-day, the ancient Saturn kingdom of the beings who had remained behind, could be observed like a dark mass, like dark forms against the light, like obtuse caverns in the body of the Sun, which disturbed its harmony. Particularly in regard to the “cosmic aroma” these retarded beings mixed into it sensations which provoked all kinds of evil smells. Myths have retained a recollection of this, for they relate that the Devil leaves behind an evil smell. As it progressed, the Sun really left behind a dark part, and the sun-spots which are visible now, are the remnants of the: ancient Saturn kingdom which once existed upon the Sun. Hypothetically these spots should be explained exactly as we explain them now; for all these explanations are valid.

In a short sketch you thus have the earth's sun-existence painted, as it were, from its material aspect. Let us now see who were the Beings who attained the human stage upon the Sun. They would have to be described as follows: Their lowest body is the astral body, then comes the Ego, the Spirit-Self, the Life-Spirit, the Spirit-Man or Atma, then the Holy Ghost in the Christian meaning, and finally the Son or the Word. They did not have the Father, for this member was only developed during the Saturn era. These Saturn Spirits meanwhile rose to a still higher stage, and now they stand far above the human being.

The Leader of the Sun Spirits, in so far as He exercised the highest influence upon the earth, the representative of the Spirits whose highest member was the Son or the Word, is the Christ, in the esoteric meaning of Christianity. His is the real regent of the earth, in so far as the earth is based upon the Sun state of existence. Upon the Sun, Christ would not yet have been called by that name. The old form of Christianity always taught this truth, and the difference between genuine Christianity and the exoteric form of Christianity, which is in so many cases based upon misunderstandings, is that the older form of Christianity exerted all its thinking power and applied every conception in order to understand that high Being Who took on human shape in. Jesus of Nazareth. The ancient form of Christianity wished to gain a conception of what lay at the foundation of this mystery, and no wisdom was too high for it, or too complicated. It explained the Being of Christ within Jesus of Nazareth in accordance with this truth. Many a passage in the Gospel of St. John can only be understood if you grasp it from this aspect. It suffices to draw attention to one point: If you take the words, “I am the Light of the World” literally, these imply that the Christ is the great Sun Hero, and that the Light which belongs to the Sun constitutes His being. We designate the whole hosts of Spirits whose Leader is the Christ as the “Fire Spirits” and we say: The ASURAS or the EGO SPIRITS reached the human stage during the Saturn era. During the Sun existence the FIRE SPIRITS or the LOGOI whose highest representative is named the Logos or the Word, reached this stage. For this very reason, Christ is named the “Word” that existed in “the beginning”, and the “beginning” designates in the Bible a definite point of departure in the cosmic evolution.

Again we have an intermediate condition, a kind of sleeping condition for the whole cosmic body, and then it begins to shine forth, again as the ancient Moon.

You must imagine that in the beginning the present Earth and the present Moon formed one body with the Sun. Only when the Sun began to shine forth again, one part of the Beings separated from it with their own environment, so that two celestial bodies arose. One of these bodies, the Sun, begins to develop into a fixed star, and the body which separates from it begins to circle around it. The ancient Sun thus divided itself into two parts: the more highly developed substance remained behind upon the Sun, and the less perfect substance was eliminated. Consequently, that which once pursued the same course, because there was only one body, now followed two separate courses: the Sun path and the Moon path. The Sun path was the one which developed upon the Sun-body, whereas the Moon developed its own world. You could reconstruct the ancient Moon by mixing together the present earth and the present moon; this would enable you to form a conception of the way in which the ancient Moon was constituted. Both physically and spiritually the present Moon is far below the Earth in regard to its quality, and the Earth separated from the Moon just because it needed better conditions of life for the Beings Who lived upon it. The Earth developed beyond the stage it had reached during the Moon existence, but its best part remained behind upon the Sun,

What was the aspect of things upon the ancient Moon? The Beings who had passed through a preparatory stage upon Saturn by developing the physical foundation of the sense-organs, transformed these organs upon the Sun by permeating them with an etheric body; the sense organs thus became centralised, and the first basis of the organs of growth reaching as far as the glands could unfold upon the ancient Sun under the influence of the etheric body, this was a final product of the Sun existence.

Upon the Moon, the astral body was added in a similar manner. Everything astral first existed in the surroundings; the Fire Spirits had an astral body as their lowest member. The Beings upon the Sun resembled plants; for instance, they could not move from their fixed places. Although the whole body of the Sun was gaseous, you must imagine air-strata of greater density which were the bodies of these human plants. But now the astral body of man was added; this gave rise to the first foundation of a nervous system. The kingdom which had reached the plant stage of development upon the Sun, passed over to the animal stage, to a stage resembling that of animals. The physical ancestors of man upon the Moon thus possessed three bodies: the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body, yet they greatly surpassed the most highly developed apes of our planet; they were human animals which no biology can describe, an intermediate kingdom between man and animal. Our present vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms only developed later; but even as there were human animals, so we must admit the existence of an intermediate kingdom between plant and animal; plants with a kind of sentient capacity, plants which literally squeaked if one touched them. These plant-animals could, never have grown upon a mineral soil, such as the present soil of the Earth; in fact, this mineral soil did not exist upon the Moon. Its mass did not consist of the present rocky substances, not even of loose soil. Comparatively speaking, the Moon's foundation consisted of a mass resembling a mash of cooked spinach or salad, and in it a kind of mineral plant. The whole foundation of the Moon was therefore of vegetable nature. A peat bed of to-day would resemble the kingdom which existed at that time as an intermediate kingdom between our plants and minerals. There were no rocks, and anyone walking over the ground would have walked over such a peaty ground or vegetable foundation, and. analogously you may think of rocks in the form of woodened portions within this mass.

The plant-animals grew out of this whole foundation, and above them, in the Moon's environment which may be designated as “fire-air”, moved those beings who were man-animals. Imagine the whole atmosphere filled with saltpetre, carbon and sulphur gases; the Moon-men lived in this fiery air which you would thus obtain. Occultists always knew of the existence of this fire-air, and under older conditions of the Earth it was even possible to produce this fire-air artificially. This is only possible to-day in a very restricted circle, but this knowledge has been preserved in genuine alchemy. Consequently, if you road in Goethe's “FAUST”, “Let me produce a little fire-air”, this touches the depths of occultism. Fire-air enwrapped the Moon; this was its atmosphere.

We can understand this Moon-existence even better if we add another fact.

Upon the Moon there was a kingdom of plant-minerals, of animal-plants growing out of this vegetable-mineral soil, and then there were the animal-men moving about upon it. But upon each stage there are beings who remain behind — you may, if you like, say that they did not “pass”. This is the case not only at school, but also in the great course of development; where a pupil may have to repeat a class. These beings who did not “pass” appear in future stages of development in very peculiar conditions. Such stragglers of the plant-minerals who did not “pass” still exist in parasites, for instance in the mistletoe. It cannot grow upon mineral soil, because it was accustomed to grow upon a vegetable-mineral soil. It proves a fact resembling that of a pupil who did not move on to a higher form; except that the case of the beings who remain behind in the cosmic development is far worse. Particularly in the North we come across a myth which describes this; you are all acquainted with the northern myth of Baldur and his death through Loki.

The Gods were frolicking about in the Aesir's home and in their games they hurled about all kinds of objects. Baldur had just before had dreams foreboding his early death, and the Gods were therefore afraid to lose him. The Mother of the Gods had taken an oath from all living and inanimate beings and they had all promised that they would never hurt Baldur, and so the Gods enjoyed the game of throwing all manner of weapons against Baldur. Loki, the opponent of the Gods, had discovered that ONE being, who was considered to be harmless, had not made any promise, and this was the mistletoe, which lay in hiding somewhere in the distance. Loki obtained the mistletoe, gave it to the blind god Hodur, who threw it at Baldur; the mistletoe wounded Baldur, for it had not sworn the oath, and Baldur died.

This myth indicates that that which is invulnerable upon the Earth can only suffer harm through that which has remained behind from another existence as something evil. In the mistletoe people saw something which had entered the present state of existence from an earlier one. All the beings now living upon the earth can only suffer harm through that which has remained behind from an earlier one. All the beings now living upon the Earth are connected with Baldur. But it was otherwise upon the Moon; consequently that being which had remained behind from the Moon was able to kill Baldur. All the various customs connected with the mistletoe arise out of this foundation.

We should also consider the Moon existence from another aspect, from the spiritual one. The Moon Beings who had reached the human stage must be described as beings whose lowest member was the etheric body, their second one the astral body, then the Ego, Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man or Atma, and then they also had the Holy Ghost. They no longer had the ninth member pertaining to the Fire Spirits upon the Sun. The highest of the Moon Spirits who had reached the human stage is called the “HOLY GHOST” in Christian esotericism. In the early, original form of Christianity, the threefold Godhead was therefore intimately connected with the evolution of the earth. The Holy Ghost is a Spirit who is above man and who is able to inspire him in a direct way.

Thus you may see that the Moon Spirits now stand above the human being. They are also called “Lunar Pitris”, “Moon Fathers” and “Spirits of Twilight”. The whole host belonging to the Holy Ghost is called in Christian esotericism the Host of Angels. The Angels are the Spirits immediately above man, who passed through their human stage upon the ancient Moon.

The life of the animal-men and of the plant-animals upon the Moon differed from that of the beings who developed out of them upon the Earth. The movement of the Moon, which had already severed itself from the Sun, was quite different from the movement of the present earth around, the sun. The ancient Moon circled around the Sun in such a way that it always turned the same face towards it, even as the Moon to-day always shows the same side to the earth. The Moon thus turned only once around its own axis, while circling around the Sun. The Moon Beings were therefore dependent upon the Sun in quite a different way than is the case with the present earthly inhabitants. During the Moon's whole epoch of revolution around the Sun, it was always daytime on one of its sides, and a kind of night upon the other. The Moon Beings, who were already able to move about, wandered in a kind of circle around the Moon, so that they passed through one epoch in which they stood under the influence of the Moon. The time in which they stood under the Sun's influence was their time of procreation. For there was already a kind of procreation. The Moon-men could not as yet express joy and pleasure through sounds; their expressions had a more cosmic significance. The sun-epoch was the time of ardour and passion, and it was connected with a great screaming on the part of the Moon Beings. This still exists to-day in the animal kingdom.

Many other things have remained from that time. You know how one tries to investigate the true reason for the birds' migration, why they circle around the globe in a certain manner. Many things which are mysteriously concealed to-day, can be understood if the whole course of earthly evolution is borne in mind. There was a time when the lunar beings could only procreate when they wandered towards the Sun: this may be called their epoch of sexual life. General processes of lunar life expressed themselves in sounds at certain seasons of the year; and at other times, the beings upon the Moon were dumb.

We have thus learned to know the earth's passage through the three preceding conditions of its existence: that of Saturn, of the Moon and of the Sun.




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