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FOUNDATIONS AT THE PERIPHERY:
RUDOLF STEINER'S OBSERVATIONS ON STAR KNOWLEDGE
9 Feb. 1906
We need to back only a few thousand years, to a time when the doctrine of reincarnation and karma had spread throughout most of the Earth. Only among the cultures descended from the Semites had this teaching receded more or less; otherwise we find it everywhere at that time. People who were discouraged by their destinies would say to themselves, `This is only one life among many; what I prepare in this life will bring its rewards in another.' People at that time continuously looked toward the worlds above.
This perspective existed everywhere, even among the Chaldean priests. The stars expressed soul and spirit to them; The stars were really the bodies of spirits. All of space was alive with spiritual beings. They spoke of the changelessness of the laws, according to which the stars moved, as they did about the will of the spirits whose bodies are the Sun and the planets. Human beings lived at that time by constantly directing their souls upward to the spirit. The external works performed by human beings on the Earth were primitive, while, on the other hand, the universe around them was permeated with the workings of the spirit to a high degree. We find there a highly spiritual view of the world alongside a primitive material culture.
Then came an age when outer, material culture became increasingly cultivated, when the globe was conquered by a materialistic culture. Human eyes were supposed to rest on the objects of physical life. But the thinking of the wise Chaldean priests, the students of Hermes, and the disciples of the ancient Rishis was directed toward spiritual life. For all of them, repeated earthly lives were a fact. Humanity would look away from that fact for awhile. It was intended that every human being pass once through an incarnation without knowing of repeated Earth lives. This era was being prepared for eight hundred years before the beginning of Christianity. This condition is receding gradually during our time. Those who are familiar with esoteric streams today are aware that Christianity must begin again to teach of reincarnation and karma. (121, pp. 41-42)
16 Apr. 1906
For spiritual science the question, how does life originate? Cannot be asked at all: but only the question, How did dead matter come about? I have already tried to make it understandable for you with an example. Look at coal; it is nothing more than stone, and yet if you could go back millions of years in the evolution of our earth, then you would establish that what is now in coal originates in enormous forests of fern which have been carbonized. What then is coal? It has originated from whole forests; the dead coal of today was then fully alive,
Could you look at the bottom of the sea, you would find sundry structures of calcium. If you were to observe sea creatures you would see that these creatures are constantly secreting calcium. This calcium shell is what remains as solid material. You have here again dead matter as product of the living. Had you developed the supersensible organs of perception so as to look back far enough in the earth's evolution, you would find that all dead matter comes from the living, that even rock-crystal and diamond, all dead matter whatever, comes from living matter. In external Nature petrifaction is a similar process to the formation of the bony system in us. You know that there are also fish which have not yet a bony system. With man, too, you find in earlier conditions not yet bones, but cartilage. Every bony system is a sort of incipient lifelessness in man. It is the same process of solidification.
In this sense you have to imagine also the living body of the earth. The whole earth-body is a living organism. The right question is therefore; How has dead, lifeless matter arisen? One of the most senseless questions is: How has living matter arisen out of dead matter? - because living matter was first and dead matter secreted itself as petrifaction, as hardening. Thus there was once life in our entire body of the earth, and the life that existed formerly when there was as yet no dead matter was originally living matter. (120, pg. 7)
29 Apr. 1906
Today we want to discuss the functions ascribed to certain spiritual beings called `luciferic'. We will encounter their strange connections with humanity. We will begin with the fact that the science of thinking (or reflection) did not begin before the eighth or ninth century before Christ. Anyone who studies the history of philosophy knows that it began with Thales of Miletus, who lived about 600 B.C. Employing natural scientific observations he once predicted an eclipse of the sun, which was an extraordinary achievement in those days. The philosophy of western logic we have had only since the time of Aristotle. Before that there was no teaching concerning thinking because thinking itself, the abstract intellect, dawned only between 600 and 800 B.C. Of course, the seeds of it were already present in the Atlantean race. It is true that we have an astronomy from the Chaldeans, the ancient Egyptians, and other Oriental peoples, but their astronomical knowledge originated in a deep underlying aptitude for clairvoyance. (121, pg. 117)
In the last century, since Frederick the Great, we have been developing at a pace ten times faster than in the thousand years from Charles the Great to Frederick the Great. Evolution will continue at a correspondingly faster rate.
Mercury is the body of certain great beings, one of which incarnated in Gautama Buddha. (121, pg. 122)
These changing conditions of the Earth which determine the times of rebirth , are themselves determined by the passage of the Sun through the Zodiac. Eight centuries before Jesus the Christ, the vernal equinox fell with the Sun in the sign of the Ram. Reference is made to this in the legend of the Golden Fleece and in the name of the Lamb of God - the Christ. 2,160 years before that, the vernal equinox fell with the sign of the Bull, a fact expressed in the cults of the Egyptian Apis or the Mithras Bull in Persia. 2,160 years before that again, the vernal equinox fell with the Sun in the sign of the Twins and we find this expressed in the cosmogony of the very ancient Persians, in the two opposing figures of Ormuzd and Ahriman. When the civilization of Atlantis was destroyed and the age of the Vedas was beginning, the Sun at the vernal equinox was in the sign of Cancer, inscribed thus: 69 indicating the end of one period and the beginning of another.
There has always been some consciousness among the peoples of the Earth of their relation to the heavenly constellations. The great periods of human civilisation are subject to the heavenly cycles and the movements of the Earth in its relation to the Sun and stars. This fact explains the different characteristics of the various epochs and gives new meaning to the incarnations occurring in them. 2,160 years is approximately the time needed for the accomplishment of a male and a female incarnation - that is to say for the two aspects under which the human being gathers all the experiences of one epoch. (53, pp. 75-76)
At the second stage of clairvoyance, dreams become precise and clear. The geometrical and symbolic figures employed as the sacred signs of the great religions are, properly speaking, the language of the creative Word, the living hieroglyphs of cosmic speech. Among such symbols are: the cross, the sign of life; the pentagram or five-pointed star, the sign of sound or word; the hexagram or six-pointed star (two interlaced triangles) the sign of the macrocosm reflected in the microcosm, and so forth. At the second stage of clairvoyance, these signs - which we today delineate in abstract lines - appear full of colour, life and radiance on a background of light. They are not , as yet, the garment of living beings, but they indicate, so to say, the norms and laws of creation. These signs are the basis of the animal forms chosen by the earliest Initiates to express the passage of the Sun through the Zodiacal constellations. The Initiates translated their visions into such signs and symbols. The most ancient characters employed in Sanskrit, Egyptian, Greek and Runic scripts - every letter of which has ideographic meaning - were the expressions of heavenly ciphers. (53, pp. 78-79)
The period which preceded the lunar one is referred to as the solar. At that time of evolution everything was pure solar life. Occultism sees the sun as a fixed star which had previously been a planet and similarly it recognizes the earth as a planet destined to become the sun of a future cosmic system. (53, pg. 106)
But this does not exhaust the relationships of the earth and the planets. We in fact can divide our present terrestrial stage into two parts. During the first it came about that our blood is red. What has given us our red blood? During the separation of the earth and the sun, this globe composed of fluid substance was shot through by other fluid forces emanating from the planet Mars. Before this passage of Mars not the slightest trace of iron existed on this earth. In fact, that is the result of this passage; all substances containing iron such as our blood have been subjected to the influence of Mars. Mars has colored the substance of the earth. And the appearance of red blood is the result of its influence. That is why the first half of earth evolution is referred to as the period of Mars.
At that time, iron was a fluid substance and the metals only hardened later on. Mercury is the only metal which has not yet solidified. When this will have happened the soul of man will have become totally independent of the physical and astral imaginative vision will have become conscious. This fact is connected with the forces of Mercury which influence the second part of the Earth evolution during which they will densify and finally become solid. The Earth is both Mars and Mercury. And it is this which the Initiates have woven into our language by indicating that the days of the week belong to the planets of our evolution: Mars and Mercury are placed between the Moon and Jupiter. (53, pp. 107-108)
14 June 1906
[Where modern astronomers see only celestial mechanics, the ancient Chaldean magicians felt the harmony of the heavens' depths as a divine, living being. When they observed Mercury, Venus, the moon or the sun, they saw not only the physical light of these heavenly bodies, they perceived the planets' souls as belonging to living beings, and they felt their own souls in connection with these great beings of the firmament. They saw the influences of these beings as attraction and repulsion, in a constant streaming, flowing divine will, and they heard the music of the spheres as a harmonious echo of the human microcosm.
Ptolemy's map of the heavens is usually placed next to that of Copernicus then the former is declared false. This, however, is not true. Ptolemy's map is of the astral plane where the earth forms the centre and that of Copernicus is of the physical plane with the sun at the centre. Ptolemy's system will be rehabilitated in an epoch yet to come. ] (84, pg. 140; précis by RSWB)
28 June - 11 July 1906
The first thing which we should bear in mind is that the other worlds are not to be found in other places, but we are surrounded by them in the same way in which we are surrounded by the physical world and they permeate the physical world. After death, man consequently does not travel to other places, but he simply changes his way of looking at things, his consciousness changes. When we die or become initiated, the same thing happens as in the case of a blind-born person who suddenly acquires the power of sight; he too will not be transferred into another world, but he simply acquires a new sense. After death, we are not surrounded by a new, completely different world, but the senses for the perception of the physical world are eliminated and we perceive instead things which escaped our notice before, which had remained concealed to us until then. (122, pg. 6 )
In occultism we say: Upon the physical plane a lie is a lie, but upon the astral plane it is a murder. Matters namely stand as follows: Whenever you relate something, you produce the corresponding thought-form; but also the thought which you relate rays out a thought form. If your thought-form corresponds with it and agrees with it, then the two forms flow together upon the astral plane and strengthen each other. You thus strengthen the life of the being you are talking about. But in the case of an untruth, the thought-form streaming out of your words does not correspond with that which goes out from the thing itself; the forms collide and destroy each other. An untruth, a lie, thus has a life-destroying, killing effect on them. (122, pg. 9)
The events on the physical plane have their origin in the spiritual worlds. What produced the changes in the fauna and flora of Central Europe since the past 1500 years? Spiritual Beings and the not incarnated human souls! The physical is the expression of purely spiritual processes.
Even as the stones of houses do not accumulate of their own accord and become a house, so the animal kingdom cannot change of its own accord. Everything that changes within the animal kingdom proceeds from the astral plane, at least as far as the warm-blooded animals are concerned. Everything that undergoes a change in the vegetable kingdom is directed from the sphere of Devachan. Natural science traces back changes in the animal kingdom to adaptations to external life-conditions. But to use the word adaptation is a make-shift. For it is the work of Spiritual Beings. Natural science can never discover the true causes for such transformations; a clairvoyant can see them.
There are Beings concerned with the transformation of the vegetable and animal kingdoms of the earth. Man also cooperates in this, when he lives in Kamaloka and Devachan. Nothing ever happens by `miracle', everything is determined by lawful, ordered influences.
Even as upon the physical plane the human spirit gradually formed communities and states out of small tents and huts, so he also transforms the fauna and flora in Devachan. We ourselves prepare the nest where we are born. In Kamaloka, to be sure, man works upon the different animal species. (122, pp. 24-25)
In this connection we must speak of a cosmic event of greatest importance, without which the soul could never have incarnated. This is the exit of the moon from the earth. The moon severed itself from the earth and formed a secondary planet. Formerly, moon and earth were one planet. Thus the evolution of the earth and the evolution of man are closely connected. What the astronomer sees of the moon, is not the whole moon, for everything in the world also has its soul. The moon went out of the earth with all its forces, with its whole aura, or its astral part.
This event stands in closest connection with everything which one calls fecundation and procreation. The ancient Greek Mysteries still knew this. In the Lemurian age the sexes began to separate; before that time human beings were hermaphrodites. There was no act of fecundation and conception; procreation took place in a manner which has been preserved in certain lower living beings. The separation of the sexes coincided with the separation of the moon. This applies to all living beings. At that time, certain forces were eliminated from the earth, which had given men the possibility to bring forth descendants without the aid of another being. These forces were eliminated through the exit of the moon. At that time the earth plus moon circled round the sun. But the moon maintained the old movement of the earth-moon planet, for it does not turn round its axis as does the earth. Even as the moon of today always turns the same side to the earth, its `sun' and never the back side, so at that time the earth-moon planet always turned the same side to the sun.
Sun, moon and planets are also inhabited by beings. In a still earlier time, sun, moon and earth were one body, and everything which now exists in the form of human beings, animals and plants, still lived together with the sun. At that time man still had a quite etheric form of a very fine substance and he lived a kind of plant existence. Animal forms and human forms arose much later, for at that time everything still stood at the stage of plant-existence.
These sun-plants were of course entirely different from the plants of today. Nevertheless one may say that with their blossom they strove towards the centre of the planet, i.e. the sun, and their roots stretched upwards. When the sun severed itself from the earth, the plants turned completely round and again turned their blossom to the sun. From that time onwards the blossom stretched upwards and the root downwards.
The animals only made a right-angle turn, when the moon left the earth. Man made a complete turn, so that he is a reversed plant, even as the plant is a reversed human being. (122, pp. 30-31)
[Naming of the days of the week according to the evolutionary Planets. Copernicanism correct for physical, Ptolemaic system correct for astral, reality.] (122, pp. 32-33, précis by RSWB)
25 Aug. 1906
In the course of time certain Beings have been particularly revered. For example, in Persia in 3000 B.C. the Twins (Gemini) were specially revered; between 3000 B.C. and 800 B.C. the sacred Bull Apis (Taurus) was revered in Egypt and the Mithras Bull in Asia Minor. After 800 B.C. another Being came into the foreground and the Ram or Lamb (Aries) was revered.[Examples]This means that there were three successive periods of civilization, each associated with important happenings in the heavens. The Sun takes his course in the sky along a particular path, the ecliptic, and at the beginning of Spring in a given epoch the Sun rises at a definite point in the Zodiac. So in the year 3000 B.C. the Sun rose in Spring in the constellation of the Bull; before that in the constellation of the Twins, and about 800 B.C. in the constellation of the Ram. This vernal point moves slowly backwards round the Zodiac year by year, taking 2,160 years to pass from one constellation to the next, and people chose as the symbol of their reverence the heavenly sign in which the vernal Sun appeared. If today we were able to understand the powerful feelings and the exalted states of mind which the ancients experienced as the Sun passed on into a new constellation, we should understand also the significance of the moment when the Sun entered the sign of Pisces. But for the materialism of our times no such understanding is possible.
What was it, then, that people saw in this process? The ancients saw it as an embodiment of the forces of nature. In the Winter these forces were asleep, but in Spring they were recalled to life by the Sun. Hence the constellation in which the Sun appeared in Spring symbolised these reawakening forces; it gave new strength to the Sun and was felt to be worthy of particular reverence. The ancients knew that with this movement of the Sun round the Zodiac something important was connected, for it meant that the Sun's rays fell on the Earth under quite different conditions as time went on. And indeed the period of 2,160 years does signify a complete change in the condition of life on Earth. (4, pp. 35-35)
26 Aug. 1906
All activity, all work, had its beginning at some time long ago. There were as yet no pyramids, not even any tools. Everything existed in the form given to it by gods, or, as materialists would say, by the forces of nature; and man was set into the midst of it all. Now, however, most of our surroundings are the work of man. Thus the Earth is always being transformed by man. This will go on increasingly, and what man cannot accomplish here, he carries out in the period between death and rebirth. Thus our own evolution is tied up with the changes of the whole Earth. The structure and evolution of the Earth are the work of men on higher planes, and the more highly man succeeds in developing himself, the more quickly and perfectly will the transformation of the physical Earth, and its flora and fauna, advance. (4, pp. 44-45)
29 Aug. 1906
Fabre d'Olivet, who has investigated the origins of the Book of Genesis, once used a beautiful simile, comparing destiny with a natural process. The valuable pearl, he says, derives from an illness: it is a secretion of the oyster, so that in this case life has to fall sick in order to produce something precious. In the same way, physical illnesses in one life reappear in the next life as physical beauty. Either the physical body becomes more beautiful as a result of the illness endured; or it may be that an illness a man has caught from infection in his environment is compensated by the beauty of his new environment. This may seem a startling connection, but it is a fact. The same general law holds for the history of man's evolution. (4, pg. 69)
In the Fourth Round the Sun and Moon came forth again as one body, and now the Earth began to form itself. At this point an important event occurred: an encounter with the planet Mars. The planets interpenetrated, the Earth going through Mars. At that time Mars possessed a substance, iron, which the Earth lacked, and Mars left this iron in the Earth in a vaporous form. But for this occurrence, the Earth would have had to remain as it was, possessing what was already there. Man would have risen as far as the animal kingdom, as it then was; he would have breathed warmth, but he never would have acquired warm blood, for there is iron in the blood. In fact according to occult science, the Earth is indebted to Mars to such an extent that the first half of its evolution is called Mars. Mercury has an equal significance for the second half. Hence in occult science the terms Mars and Mercury are used in stead of Earth. [repeat of days of the week list above] (4, pg. 84)
31 Aug 1906
Then came an immensely important event: Earth and Moon separated. The smaller body of the Moon split off from the Earth. Now there were three bodies: Sun, Moon, and Earth. This had far-reaching consequences for all living beings: the Moon carried off with it the great part of the forces the human beings and animals needed in order to reproduce themselves. Each individual now had only half the fertilising power he had previously possessed, and the result was a gradual emergence of the two sexes. Man had now to receive the fertilising power of another being like himself. This was the Lemurian epoch, that of the third Root-race.
During this period, too, matter began to become harder and more solid. Shortly before the separation of Earth and Moon denser deposits had been formed, and after the separation cartilaginous substances, leading towards bone formation, began to appear in the bodies of men and animals. The solidity of bones developed, in correspondence with the solidifying of the Earth's crust.[details] The human form at that time was something like a fish-bird-animal. Most of the Earth was still watery and the temperature was still very high. This watery element contained in solution much of what later became solid - our present day metals, for instance, and other substances. Human beings moved in it with a swimming, floating motion. They were well able to endure the tremendous heat which reigned on Earth; their bodies were still constituted of a material which corresponded to the prevailing conditions, and in this way they could live. (4, pp. 89-90)
1 Sept 1906
In future times yet another, quite different, picture of the world will prevail. Generally we hear that Copernicus taught only two things: that the Earth revolves on its own axis and that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is seldom noticed that he taught also a third form of movement - that the whole solar system moves onward in a spiral. For the present this fact will be left aside, but in the future humanity will return to it. Copernicus stood on a frontier, and the old outlook was still strongly present in him. (4, pp. 101-102)
2 Sept. 1906
A comet is an assemblage of Kama, desire-substance, without the corresponding spiritual substance. The comet gets as far only as the astral body. The visibility of comets arises from the powerful friction caused by the astral body passing through etheric substance. (4, pg. 146)
The Moon is inhabited by those physical beings who have remained behind at an earlier stage of evolution: Luciferic beings. On the Old Moon there were beings who had fallen so far into evil that they could not take part in further evolution. They established themselves on the Moon. These malevolent beings are evident especially in the waning Moon; when the Moon is waxing they are less harmful. Some dreadful beings inhabit the Moon, but there are also favourable beings, actively concerned with growth and birth. (4, pp. 146-147)
4 Sept. 1906
The third stage is called learning the occult script . There is in fact such a script, through which one can penetrate more deeply into things. An example will show you more exactly what I mean. With the close of the old Indian civilisation a new civilisation began. The symbol for such an evolutionary stage is the vortex. These vortices exist everywhere in the world. They occur in the nebulae - the Orion nebula, for instance. There, too, an old world is dying and a new one being born. When the Indian civilisation was coming into its being, the Sun was in the sign of Cancer; during the Persian civilisation in Gemini; during the Egyptian civilisation in Taurus; during the Graeco-Roman civilisation in Aries. (4, pg. 134 )
26 Oct. 1906
Thus the whole cosmos lives in the form of a crystal. In the same way the whole cosmos is expressed in the living substance of a single being. The fluids coursing through it are, at the same time, a little world, and a counterpart of the great world. And when substance has become capable of sensation, what then dwells in the sensations mirror the cosmic laws, so that each separate living creature senses within itself microcosmically the whole macrocosm. The sentient life of a simple organism is thus an image of the life of the universe, just as a crystal is an image of its form. The consciousness of such living creatures is, of course, very dim. But its vagueness is counterbalanced by its far greater range, for the whole cosmos glimmers in the faint consciousness of an elementary being. In man there is only a more complicated structure of the same three bodies that are found in the simplest sensitive living creature. (5, pg. 19)
26 Nov. 1906
First, we have the solid state. The esoteric term for it is the `earth'. In using this term, however, the esotericist does not refer to the actual soil of the fields but to its solid condition. All solid components of the physical body - the bones, the muscles, and so forth - are termed `earth'. The second state is fluidity; the esoteric term for it is `water'. Everything fluid - blood, for instance - is called `water. Thirdly, we have the gaseous state, `air' in esoteric terminology.
The esotericist goes on to consider higher and subtler substances, more delicate states beyond air. In order to understand this better, we must consider, for example, a metal such as lead. In esoteric terminology, lead is `earth'. If subjected to immense heat it melts and becomes `water' in the esoteric sense. When it vaporizes it becomes `air' in the esoteric sense. Any substance can thus become `air' in its final state. If air is more and more diffused, it becomes increasingly delicate and reaches a new state. The esotericist calls it `fire'. It is the first state of ether. `Fire' is related to `air' in the same way that `water' is related to solidity. A still more delicate state than `fire' is called `light ether' by the esotericist. Continuing to a still higher state, we come to what esotericists call `chemical ether', which is the force which enables oxygen, for example, to link itself with hydrogen. A still more delicate state than `chemical ether' is `life ether'.
We thus have seven different states in esotericism. Life in any substance ultimately can be attributed to the life ether. In esoteric language , what lives in the physical body consists of earth, water, and air. What lives in the etheric body consists of fire, light ether, chemical ether and life ether. While physical body and etheric body are united, they are at the same time separated. The physical body is permeated by the entire etheric body; similarly the astral body permeates the etheric body. The astral element can descend as far as the state of `fire', but it can no longer mix with `air', `water', and `earth'. The physical, on the other hand, can ascend only as far as `fire'. Let us make clear that the physical as vapour or esoteric `air' ascends to `fire'; in the vapour we sense the `fire's' diffusing force. The physical ascends to `fire', the astral descends to `fire', and the etheric body occupies the central position between the two. (6, pp. 25-27)
30 Nov. 1906
The third stage is Asana, which involves completely conforming the body's posture to certain cosmic streams. When a feeling for such things was still alive, cultic structures were built, for example, with the main altar always facing east. Because of the sensitive physical organization of Indians, the direction of their physical stance in space is significant. There is, as a matter of fact, a different stream flowing from north to south than from east to west. In the Yoga initiation, the position of the body is significant, because the Indian's body is much softer, and any particular position will exert a greater influence on such a person. (121, pg. 137)
Learning the esoteric script follows this third stage for the pupil. If we really want to live in the astral world, we must know the esoteric script. There are many things in the world constructed according to the shape of a vortex.
This spiral we find in the Orion nebula as well as in the form of living beings. Human and animal embryos have a spiral form in the early stages of their development. One part is a picture of the physical; the other part, which spirals around and into the first, is the astral. The start of a new stage in human history is also symbolized by the sign of two spirals joined together - this is the zodiacal sign of Cancer. When the ancient Indian subrace originated after the submergence of ancient Atlantis, the Sun rose on the first day of spring in the zodiacal sign of Cancer. When we learn to read the esoteric script, we learn to orient ourselves in the astral world. (121, pg. 142)