SPIRITUAL INDIVIDUALITIES OF THE PLANETS
given at Dornach, July 27th, 1923
a shorthand report, unrevised by the lecturer.]
I want to add to what has previously been said some explanation of
certain deeper foundations of world-mysteries of which in modern
civilisation all knowledge has been lost. To realise the loss we need
think only of the modern conception of the planetary system: that it
originated in some kind of rotating, primeval nebula, from which the
various planetary bodies were dispersed. The speculations derived
from this picture have led merely to the idea that there are no
fundamental differences between these heavenly bodies, and this is
the prevailing attitude towards them.
If the whole planetary system is comprised in the picture of a
rotating nebula, out of which the heavenly bodies gradually
separated, what essential difference is there between, for example,
the Moon and Saturn? It is of course true that very important
researches carried out during the 19th century into earthly
substances — particularly the minerals — have been able
to say a great deal about the material composition of the heavenly
bodies, and have worked out a certain kind of physics and chemistry
for them. This has made it possible for ordinary text-books to give
specific details about Venus, Saturn, the Moon, and so on. But all
this amounts to no more than making an image of — let us say —
the physical organism of man, leaving out of account altogether the
fact that he is a being of soul and spirit. With the help of
Initiation-science we must again learn to realise that our planetary
system, too, is permeated with soul and spirit. And today I want to
speak of the “individualities” and the individual
characters of the several planets.
We will think, to begin with, of the planet nearest the Earth, the
planet with whose history the Earth's history — though only in
a certain sense — is bound up, and which once played an
entirely different part in earthly life from the part it plays today.
You know from my book
Occult Science — an Outline
by George and Mary Adams, 1963. Rudolf Steiner Press,
London.] that there was once a cosmic age — relatively
speaking not in a very remote past — when the Moon was still
united with the Earth. The Moon then separated from the Earth and now
circles around it.
When we speak of the Moon as a physical body in the heavens, its
physical nature is only the external, the most external, revelation
of the Spiritual behind it. To those who have knowledge of both its
outer and its inner nature, the Moon in our universe presents itself
to begin with as a gathering of spiritual Beings living in great
seclusion. Outwardly, the Moon acts as a mirror of the universe; the
fact that it reflects the light of the Sun is evident to the most
superficial observation. So we can say: What comes from the Moon is
the light of the Sun which has shone upon it and is then reflected.
First and foremost, then, the Moon is a mirror of the Sun's light.
Now, as you all know, we see what is outside or in front of a mirror
but we do not see what is behind it.
The Moon is not the mirror of the Sun's light only, for it reflects
everything that radiates upon it — the radiations of the solar
light being, of course, by far the strongest. All the heavenly bodies
in the universe send their rays towards the Moon, and the Moon —
as a mirror of the universe — then radiates them back in every
It can be said, therefore, that the universe is before us in a
twofold aspect. It reveals itself in the environment of the Earth and
is radiated back by the Moon. The Sun's rays work with tremendous
power in themselves and also in their reflection from the Moon. But
every other radiation in cosmic space is also reflected by the Moon.
There is the manifested universe and there is also its reflection
from the Moon.
Anyone capable of observing the mirror-pictures thrown back by the
Moon in all directions would have the whole universe before him in
reflection. Only that which is within the Moon — that
and that alone remains, if I may so express it, the Moon's secret; it
remains hidden, just as what is behind a mirror remains hidden. What
is behind the outer surface of the Moon, in the innermost sphere of
the Moon, is significant above all in its spiritual aspect.
The spiritual Beings peopling this innermost sphere of the Moon are
Beings who shut themselves off in strict seclusion from the rest of
the universe. They live in their Moon “fortress”. And
only someone who, by developing certain qualities connected with the
human heart, succeeds in relating himself to the Sun's light in such
a way that he does not see the reflection from the Moon — only
for such a man does the Moon become as it were inwardly transparent
and he can penetrate into this Moon fortress of the universe. He then
makes the significant discovery that through the utterances, through
the teachings, of those Beings who have withdrawn into seclusion in
this Moon fortress, certain secrets can be revealed that were once in
the possession of the most advanced spirits on the Earth but have
long since been lost.
The farther we go back in the evolution of the Earth, the less do we
find the abstract truths that are the pride of present-day humanity.
More and more we find pictures, truths expressed in pictures.
We wrestle our way through the deeply significant truths still
preserved as a last echo of oriental wisdom in the Vedas and the
Vedanta philosophy; we press on to the primal revelations hidden
behind the myths and sagas, and we realise with wonder and awe that a
glorious wisdom was once possessed by men who received it without
intellectual effort as grace from the spiritual worlds. And finally
we come to all that was once taught to primeval humanity on Earth by
the Beings who have now withdrawn into the Moon fortress in the
universe, after leaving the Earth together with the Moon. A certain
memory was preserved of what these Beings had once revealed to the
peoples of a remote past — to men whose nature was quite
different from human nature as it is today.
If we succeed in fathoming this mystery — I will call it the
Moon-mystery of the universe — we realise that these Beings who
have now entrenched themselves in the Moon fortress were once the
great Teachers of earthly humanity; but all consciousness of the
realities, of spirit and soul hidden in this fortress has been lost.
What is still transmitted to the Earth from the heavens represents
only what the outer surface, the walls, as it were, of the Moon
fortress radiate back from the rest of the universe.
This Moon-mystery was one of the deepest secrets in the ancient
Mysteries, for it is the primal wisdom that the Moon enshrines within
itself. What the Moon is able to reflect from the whole universe
forms the sum-total of the forces which sustain the animal world of
the Earth, especially the forces that are connected with the sexual
nature of animals; these forces also sustain the animal element in
man and are connected with his sexual nature in its physical aspect.
So the lower nature of man is a product of what radiates from the
Moon, while the highest wisdom once possessed by the Earth lies
concealed within the Moon fortress.
In this way one comes gradually to a knowledge of the “individuality”
of the Moon, to knowledge of what the Moon is in reality, whereas all
other knowledge is only like information we could glean about a human
being from a pasteboard image of him displayed in some exhibition.
Such an image would tell us nothing whatever about the man's
individuality. Equally it is not possible for a science that
refuses any approach towards initiation to know anything about the
individuality of the Moon.
We turn now to Saturn. In earlier times Saturn was regarded as the
outermost planet of our system, Uranus and Neptune having been added
much later. We will leave them out of consideration now and think of
Saturn as a kind of antithesis to the Moon.
The nature of Saturn is such that he receives many diverse impulses
from the universe but allows none of them to stream back — at
all events not to the Earth. Saturn too, of course, is irradiated by
the Sun, but what he reflects of the solar rays has no significance
for earthly life. Saturn is an entirely self-engrossed heavenly body
in our planetary system, raying his own being into the
universe. When we contemplate Saturn, he tells us always what he
is. Whereas the Moon — contemplated in its external aspect —
tells us about everything else in the universe, Saturn tells
us nothing at all about the impulses he receives from the universe.
He speaks only of himself, tells us only what he himself is. And what
he is reveals itself gradually as a kind of memory of the planetary
Saturn presents himself to us as the heavenly individuality who has
steadfastly participated in whatever has come to pass in our
planetary system and has faithfully preserved it in his cosmic
memory. He is silent about the cosmic Present. He receives the things
of the cosmic Present into himself and works upon them in his life of
spirit and soul. True, the hosts of Beings indwelling Saturn lend
their attention to the outer universe, but mutely and silently they
receive the happenings in the universe into the realm of soul, and
they speak only of past cosmic events. That is why Saturn is
like a kaleidoscopic memory of our planetary system. As a faithful
informant concerning what has come to pass in the planetary system,
he holds its secrets of this kind within himself.
Whereas in endeavouring to fathom the mysteries of the universe we
should turn to the Moon in vain, whereas we must win the confidence
of the Moon Beings if we are to learn anything from them about cosmic
mysteries, this is not necessary with Saturn. With Saturn, all that
is necessary is to be open to receive the spiritual. And then, to the
eyes of spirit and soul, Saturn becomes a living historian of the
planetary system. Nor does he withhold the stories he can tell of
what has come to pass in the planetary system. In this respect Saturn
is the exact opposite of the Moon. Saturn speaks unceasingly of the
past of the planetary system with such inner warmth and zest that
intimate acquaintance with what he says can be dangerous. For the
devotion with which he tells of past happenings in the universe
arouses in us an overwhelming love for the cosmic past. Saturn is the
constant tempter of those who listen to his secrets; he tempts them
to give little heed to earthly affairs of today and to immerse
themselves in what the Earth once was. Above all, Saturn speaks
graphically about what the Earth was before it became Earth, and for
this reason he is the planet who makes the past unendingly dear to
us. Those who have a particular inclination towards Saturn in earthly
existence are people who like to be gazing always into the past, who
are opposed to progress, who ever and again want to bring back the
past. These indications give some idea of the individuality, the
individual character, of Saturn.
Jupiter is a planet with a different character. Jupiter is the
Thinker in our planetary system, and thinking is the activity
cultivated by all the Beings in his cosmic domain. Creative thoughts
received from the universe radiate to us from Jupiter. Jupiter
contains, in the form of thoughts, all the formative forces for the
different orders of cosmic Beings. Whereas Saturn tells of the past,
Jupiter gives a living portrayal of what is connected with him in the
cosmic present. But what Jupiter reveals to the eye of spirit must be
grasped with thoughtful intelligence. If a man does not himself make
efforts to develop his capacities of thinking, he cannot, even if he
is clairvoyant, approach the mysteries of Jupiter, for they are
revealed in the form of thoughts and can be approached only through a
genuine activity of thinking. Jupiter is the Thinker in our universe.
When efforts to bring clarity of thought to bear upon some weighty
problem of existence are unsuccessful because of physical, etheric,
and especially astral hindrances, the Jupiter Beings come to the help
of mankind. A man who has tried hard to apply clear thinking to some
problem but cannot get to the root of it, will find, if he is patient
and works inwardly at it, that the Jupiter powers will actually help
him during the night. And many a one who has found a better solution
for some problem during the night, as though out of dream, than
during the previous day, would have to admit, if he knew the truth,
that it is the Jupiter powers who imbue human thinking with mobility
Saturn, then, is the preserver of the Memory of our universe; Jupiter
is the Thinker in our universe. To Jupiter man owes all the impulses
he is able to receive from the spiritual present in the universe. To
Saturn he owes all the impulses of soul and spirit he can receive
from the cosmic past.
It was out of a certain intuition that such great veneration was paid
to Jupiter in the days of ancient Greece, when the human spirit lived
so intensely in the present.
A stimulus to the whole development of the human being is given also
through the part played by Jupiter in the cycle of the year. You all
know that as far as his apparent movement is concerned, Saturn moves
slowly, very slowly, round his orbit, taking some 30 years. Jupiter
moves faster, taking about 12 years. Because of this quicker movement
Jupiter is able to bring satisfaction to man's need for wisdom. And
when, at the cosmic hour of destiny in the life of a human being, a
certain relationship is established between Jupiter and Saturn, there
flash into human destiny those wonderful moments of illumination when
many things concerning the past are revealed through thinking.
If we look in history for occasions in the time of the Renaissance —
particularly during its last period — when there was a great
renewal of ancient impulses, we shall find that this was directly
connected with a certain relationship between Jupiter and Saturn.
But, as already said, Jupiter is in a certain respect impenetrable
and his revelations remain in the unconscious if a man does not bring
to them clear and active light-filled thoughts of his own. And that
is why in ancient times, when active thinking was still at a very
early state of development, the progress of humanity was in truth
always dependent upon the relation between Jupiter and Saturn. When
Jupiter and Saturn together formed a certain constellation, many
things were revealed to our ancestors in those days. Modern man has
to depend more upon receiving the memory of Saturn and the wisdom of
Jupiter separately in the course of his spiritual development.
We now come to Mars. It is difficult to find appropriate expressions
for these things, but Mars may be called the great “Talker”
in the planetary system. Unlike Jupiter, who withholds his wisdom in
the form of thoughts. Mars is constantly blurting out to the souls in
his sphere whatever in the cosmos is accessible to him — which
is not everything. Mars is the most talkative planet in our system,
and he is particularly active when human beings talk in sleep or in
dream. Mars has a great longing to be always talking, and whenever
some quality in human nature enables him to make a man loquacious, he
stimulates this tendency.
Mars does little thinking. He has few thinkers, but many talkers, in
his sphere. The Mars Spirits are always on the watch for what arises
here or there in the universe and then they talk about it with great
zest and fervour. Mars is the planetary individuality who in the
course of the evolution of humanity instigates human beings in
manifold ways to make statements about the mysteries of the cosmos.
Mars has his good and his less good sides — he has his Genius
and his Demon. His Genius works in such a way that men receive from
the universe the impulses for speech; the influence of his Demon
results in speech being misused in many and various ways. In a
certain sense Mars may be called the Agitator in our universe. He is
always out to persuade, whereas Jupiter wants only to
The planet Venus is again different. In a certain way — how
shall I put it? — Venus wards off the universe. She is
difficult to approach; she does not want to know anything about the
universe. Her attitude is that if she were to expose herself to the
external universe, she would lose her virginal nature. She is deeply
shocked when any impression from the external universe attempts to
approach her. She has no desire for the universe and rejects every
would-be partner. It is very difficult to express these things,
because the circumstances and conditions have to be described in
terms of earthly language. On the other hand, Venus is highly
responsive to everything that comes from the Earth. The Earth is, so
to speak, her lover. Whereas the Moon reflects the whole surrounding
universe, Venus reflects nothing at all of the universe, wants to
know nothing of it. But she lovingly reflects whatever comes from the
Earth. If with the eyes of soul we are able to glimpse the mysteries
of Venus, the whole Earth with its secrets of the life of soul is
there before us once again.
The truth is that human beings on Earth can do nothing in the secrecy
of their souls without it being reflected back again by Venus. Venus
gazes deeply into the hearts of human beings, for that is what
interests her, that is what she will allow to approach her. Thus the
most intimate experiences of earthly life are reflected again from
Venus, in a mysterious and wonderful way. In the reflection she
transforms everything, just as a dream transforms the happenings of
physical existence. Venus transforms the occurrences of earthly life
into dream-pictures. In reality, therefore, the whole sphere of Venus
is a world of dream. The secrets of men in their earthly existence
are transformed by Venus into dream-pictures of infinite diversity.
She has a very great deal to do with poets, although they are not
aware of it.
I said before that Venus wards off the rest of the universe. She does
not, however, repel everything in the same way. In her heart,
Venus repels what approaches her from the universe but not
what comes from the Earth. As I said before, she declines every
would-be suitor, but for all that she listens attentively to the
utterances of Mars. She transforms and illumines her dreamlike
experiences of earthly things with what is communicated to her from
the universe through Mars.
All these things have their physical side as well. Impulses go out
from these sources into what is done and what comes into existence in
the world. Venus receives into herself everything that comes from the
Earth and she listens always to Mars — but without any desire
that he shall be aware of having her attention. And from this process
— only of course the Sun is there to regulate it — spring
the forces which underlie the organs connected with the formation of
If we want to understand the impulses in the universe connected with
the formation of human speech, we must turn our gaze to this strange
life that weaves between Venus and Mars. When destiny wills it, the
relationship of Venus to Mars is therefore a factor of great
significance in the development of the speech or language of a
people. A language is deepened, imbued with the quality of soul,
when, for example, Venus is square to Mars. On the other hand a
language tends to become superficial, poor in qualities of soul, when
Venus and Mars are in conjunction, and this in turn has an influence
upon the people or nation concerned. Such are the impulses which
originate in the universe and then work into the earthly world.
We come next to Mercury. In contrast to the other planets. Mercury is
not interested in things of a physical, material nature as such, but
in whatever is capable of co-ordination. Mercury is the domain
of the Masters of co-ordinative thinking; Jupiter, the habitation of
the Masters of wisdom-filled thinking.
When a human being comes down from pre-earthly life into earthly
existence, it is the Moon impulse that provides the forces for his
physical existence. Venus provides the forces for the basic qualities
of heart and temperament. But Mercury provides the forces for
capacities of intellect and reason, especially of intellect. The
Masters of the forces of co-ordinative knowledge and mental activity
have their habitation in Mercury.
There is a remarkable connection between these planets and the life
and being of man. The Moon, which enshrines the Beings living in
strict seclusion, and reflects only what is first radiated to it from
the universe, builds and fashions the outer form, the body of man. It
is therefore by the Moon that the forces of heredity are incorporated
in his bodily constitution. The Moon is the cosmic citadel of those
spiritual Beings who, in complete seclusion, muse upon what is
transmitted in the stream of heredity flowing from generation to
generation by way of the physical.
It is because the Moon Beings remain so firmly entrenched in their
fortress that modern scientists know nothing essential about
heredity. From a deeper insight, and in terms of cosmic language, it
could be said that when at the present time heredity is discussed in
one or another domain of science, the latter is “Moon-forsaken”
and “Mars-bewitched”. For science speaks under the
influence of the demonic Mars-forces and has not even begun to
approach the real mysteries of heredity.
Venus and Mercury bring into the human being the karmic element that
is connected more with the life of soul and spirit and comes to
expression in his qualities of heart and in his temperament. On the
other hand. Mars, and especially Jupiter and Saturn when a man has a
right relationship with them, act as liberating factors. They
wrest man away from what is determined by destiny and make him into a
Biblical words in a somewhat changed form might be used as follows.
Saturn, the faithful custodian of cosmic memory, said: Let us make
man free in the realm of his own memory. Thereupon the influence of
Saturn was forced into the unconscious; man's memory became his own
possession and therewith he acquired the sure foundation of his
The inner will-impulse contained in acts of free thinking is due to
grace vouchsafed by Jupiter. It would be in Jupiter's power to rule
over and control all the thoughts of men. He is the one in whom we
find the thoughts of the whole universe if we are capable of gaining
access to them. But Jupiter too has withdrawn, leaving men to think
as free beings.
The element of freedom in speech is due to the fact that Mars too has
been gracious. Because Mars was obliged as it were to acquiesce in
the resolution made by the other outer planets and could not exercise
any greater coercion, man is free, in a certain respect, in the realm
of speech too — not entirely, but in a certain respect free.
From another point of view therefore. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn may
also be called the liberating planets; they give man freedom. On the
other hand, Venus, Mercury and the Moon may be called the
In the midst of all these deeds and impulses of the planetary
individualities stands the Sun, creating harmony between the
liberating and the destiny-determining planets. The Sun is the
individuality in whom the element of necessity in destiny and the
element of human freedom interweave in a most wonderful way. And
no-one can understand what is contained in the flaming brilliance of
the Sun unless he is able to behold this interweaving life of destiny
and freedom in the light which spreads out into the universe and
concentrates again in the solar warmth.
Nor can we grasp anything essential about the nature of the Sun as
long as we take in only what the physicists know of it. We can grasp
the nature of the Sun only when we know something of its nature of
spirit and soul. In that realm it is the power which imbues with
warmth the element of necessity in destiny, resolves destiny into
freedom in its flame, and if freedom is misused, condenses it once
more into its own active substance. The Sun is as it were the flame
in which freedom becomes a luminous reality in the universe; and at
the same time the Sun is the substance in which, as condensed ashes,
misused freedom is moulded into destiny — until destiny itself
can become luminous and pass over into the flame of freedom.