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RUDOLF STEINER'S OBSERVATIONS ON STAR KNOWLEDGE


1907

16 Feb. 1907

“Eight hundred years before Christ's birth, the Sun entered the sign of Aries, the Ram or Lamb. Every year it moves a little bit further. The Sun now rises in the constellation of Pisces at the vernal equinox. During the first age people believed that the Lamb brought them every kind of well-being, the salvation of new forces in the spring. They even connected the savior with this image. During the first ages of Christianity, they had as a symbol the cross with the Lamb. Before the Sun was in the zodiacal sign of the Lamb at the beginning of spring, it was in the sign of Taurus, the Bull. At that time the Egyptians worshipped Apis, and the Persians worshipped the Bull of Mithras. After the flood, the Sun stood in the sign of Cancer, the Crab.” (121, pp. 157-158)

22 Feb. 1907

“The Atlantean culture seems to have disappeared, leaving no trace. What happened? We can see it in the sky. Approximately eight centuries before Christ's birth, the Sun rose in the sign of Aries. It moves through one zodiacal sign in the course of 2160 years. Around the year 800B.C., the Sun moved into the constellation of Aries, the Ram or the Lamb. Humanity felt that the new constellation brought it the new fertility of springtime, the good renewed. Therefore, we see that they thought the Lamb or Ram - Aries - was important. There is much that points to this. In the legend of the Argonauts, for example, the Golden Fleece plays such a role. Christ was even called the Lamb of God. People in this way expressed their devotion to the symbol of the Lamb. Earlier the Sun was in the constellation of the Bull, Taurus; therefore, the Egyptian and Persian cultures worshipped the bull. Even earlier the Sun passed through the sign of the twins, Gemini, which correlates with the great role played by duality in the Persian teaching of Ormuzd and Ahriman. Traces of this are still found even in ancient Teutonic culture. Still earlier the Sun passed through the sign of Cancer, the Crab. That was the era following the advent of the great Atlantean flood. A spiral had completed itself in the spirit.” (121, pp. 171-172)

22 Apr. 1907

“Before the Lemurian age the sun, moon and earth, united in one body, moved forward in terms of the zodiac. Time was measured following this movement. For this reason, the twelve signs of the zodiac are characterized as the heavenly clock and drawn as such.

“A planet alternates between pralaya, a cosmic night, and manvantara, a cosmic day, just as we alternately pass through day and night. The planet passes through the signs of the zodiac during both pralaya and manvantara; for that reason the twelve signs of the zodiac are counted twice, just as we also count two times twelve to equal twenty-four hours. The hours symbolize the signs of the zodiac.”(84, pg. 22)

8 May 1907

[“When Pythagoreans wanted to express the four members of the human being, they expressed the harmony in the ratio 1:3:7:12.”

Physical body: 12 - zodiac fundamental tones

Etheric body : 7 - planetary fundamental tones

Astral body : 3 - sun, moon, earth fundamental tones

I : 1 - fundamental tone not mentioned

Planetary fundamental tones are given in ascending musical scale in evolutionary sequence, i.e. Saturn, Sun, Moon, etc.

“There is an expression in occultism: the twelve goes into the seven, which means that the physical body is constantly becoming more like the etheric body.”] (84, pg. 43-44; précis by RSWB)

22 May - 6 June 1907

“The only correct view of the physical human body is to say that it corresponds with the extent of man's kinship with the mineral kingdom around him. But you must realise that this member of man's being is the one that can least of all be conceived of as separate from the cosmos. The forces working in the physical body pour in from the cosmos. Think of a rainbow. If a rainbow is to appear, there must be a particular combination of sunlight and rainclouds. The rainbow cannot be absent if this combination between sunlight and rainclouds actually exists. The rainbow is therefore a consequence, a phenomena brought into being from without. The physical body too, is, in a way, a pure phenomenon. You must look in the whole surrounding universe for the forces which hold the physical body together. Where, then, are we to find, in their true form, these forces which cause the physical body to have the appearance it has? Here we are led to higher worlds, for in the physical world we see the physical body as a phenomenon only. The forces which give rise to this phenomenon lie in a very lofty spiritual world. We must therefore give some study to worlds which exist as truly as the physical world exists.

“When the occultist speaks of higher worlds, he means worlds that are around us all the time, only the senses for perceiving them must be opened just as the eyes must be opened for the perception of colours. When certain senses of the soul, senses which lie higher than the physical senses, are opened, the world around us is pervaded by a new revelation known as the astral world. Rosicrucian Theosophy calls this world the Imaginative World - but `Imaginative' here denotes something much more real than the ordinary implication of the word. There is a constant flowing and ebbing of pictures; the colours that are otherwise chained to objects are involved in myriad transformations within the astral world. In the movement that has linked itself with Rosicrucianism this world is also called the `Elemental World'. These three expressions therefore: Imaginative world, Astral world, Elemental world, are interchangeable.”

“A still loftier world, revealed to yet higher senses, is that of the `Harmonies of the Spheres'. This higher world penetrates into the world of pictures and colours. It is called ` Devachan', `Rupa Devachan', or also the `Mental world'; in Rosicrucian terminology it is known as the world of the `Harmonies of the Spheres' or the world of Inspiration, because sound or tone is the medium of the inspiration when the corresponding senses have been opened. In the movement that has linked itself with Rosicrucianism, this world has been called the `Heaven world'. Lower or Rupa-Devachanic world, Devachan, the world of Inspiration, the Heaven world - these again are one and the same.

“Still another world, revealed by even higher senses, is known in Rosicrucianism as the world of true Intuition, but `Intuition' here has a much higher reality than is contained in the word as used in everyday life. True Intuition is a `merging into' other beings, so that they are known from within themselves. In the movement that has linked itself with Rosicrucianism, this world of Intuition has been called the `world of reason'; it is so far above the ordinary world that it casts a shadow-image only into the world of men. Intellectual concepts are faint and feeble shadow-images of the realities in this higher world. In addition to the physical world, therefore, there are three other worlds. Behind the forces which hold the physical world together there are forces which are to be found in the highest world, the world of Intuition. In comparison with the `nature-forces' in this highest world, everything that the physicist discovers in the physical world is like so many faint shadow-images. For every concept you have, say of a crystal, or of the human eye, you would find, in this higher world, living Being. A concept in the physical world is the shadow-image of Beings in this highest world. Thus the physical world is built up by forces which manifest, in their true form in Arupa-Devachan - to use the theosophical mode of expression.” (125, pp. 19-21)

“Occult investigation reveals that the human being returns to incarnation within an average period from 1,000 to 1,300 years. The reason for this is that the human being may find the face of the earth changed on his return and therefore be able to have new experiences. The changes on the earth are closely connected with certain constellations of the stars. This is a most significant fact. At the beginning of spring the sun rises in a certain zodiacal constellation. The sun began to rise in the constellation of Aries (the Ram) 800 years before Christ; before that epoch it rose in the adjacent constellation of Taurus (the Bull). About 2,160 years are required for the passage through one constellation. The circuit through the whole twelve constellations is known in occultism as a Cosmic Year.

“The peoples of antiquity were deeply sensible of what is connected with this passage through the zodiac. With feelings of awe and reverence they said: When the sun rises in spring, nature is renewed after her winter repose; nature is awakened from her deep sleep by the divine rays of the vernal sun. And they connected this young, fresh power of spring with the constellation from which the sun was shining. They said: This constellation is the bestower of the sun with its new vigour, it is the bestower of the new, divinely creative power. And so the Lamb was regarded as the benefactor of humanity by men who lived in an epoch now lying 2,000 years behind us.

“In the epoch preceding 800B.C. the sun was passing through the constellation of Taurus; in Egypt we find the veneration of Apis the Bull, in Persia the veneration of the Mithras Bull. Earlier still, the sun was passing through the constellation of Gemini, the Twins; in Indian and Germanic mythology we find definite indication of the Twins; the twin goats drawing the chariot of the God Donar are a last remnant of this. Then, finally, we come to the time of the Atlantean Flood. An ancient culture passed away and a new culture arose. This was designated by a particular occult sign, the vortex, which is the symbol of Cancer and to be found in every calendar.

“Thus the peoples have always had a clear consciousness of the fact that what proceeds in the heavens runs parallel with the changes taking place on the earth beneath. When the sun has completed its passage through one constellation, the face of the earth has changed to such an extent that it is profitable for the human being to enter a new life. For this reason the time of reincarnation depends upon the progress of the vernal equinox. The period required by the sun for its passage through one zodiacal constellation is the period within which the human being is twice incarnated, once as a man and once as a woman. The experiences in a male and female organism are so fundamentally different for spiritual life that the human being is twice incarnated, once as a woman and once as a man into the same conditions of the earth. This makes an average of 1,000 to 1,300 years between two incarnations.” (125, pp. 54-56)

“The Sun was itself a kind of being of air, surrounded by the substance which had previously formed Saturn - fire, warmth. The part that had densified had formed the gaseous Sun, and what had not densified was a surging sea of fire. These beings could live on the Sun and inhale and exhale warmth, fire; they were therefore called the Spirits of Fire. They stood at the human level on the Sun and they worked in the service of humanity. One calls them Sun Spirits or Fire Spirits. Man at that time was at the stage of sleep-consciousness, the Sun-Fire Spirits had already the ego consciousness. Since then they too have developed further and ascended to higher degrees of consciousness. One calls them in Christian Esoteriscism Archangels. {? Perhaps indicating this on the Sun, with them as Archai on Moon and Exusai now, on Earth: RSWB} And the highest evolved Spirit Who was on the Sun as Fire Spirit, Who to-day is still active upon the Earth, with very highly evolved consciousness, this Sun or Fire Spirit is the Christ. In the same way the most evolved Saturn Spirit is the Father God.

“Christian esotericism knows that there was incarnated in the body of flesh and blood of Christ-Jesus precisely such a Sun-Fire Spirit, and indeed the highest, the Regent of the Sun Spirits. That He might come to Earth He had to make use of a physical body, He had to live under the same earthly conditions as man, in order to be able to manifest here.

“Thus on the Sun we are concerned with a Sun-body, as it were, a body of the Sun planet with Ego-Spirits, who are Fire Spirits, and with a Regent of the Sun, the most highly evolved, the Christ. While the Earth was the Sun, this Spirit was the central Spirit of the Sun; when the Earth was Moon, He was more highly developed, but he remained with the Moon; when the Earth was Earth, He was very highly developed and remained with the Earth. He forms thus the highest Planetary Spirit of the Earth. The Earth today is His Body as at that time the Sun was. Therefore you must take St. John's words literally, `Whoever eats my bread, treads me underfoot.' For the Earth is the Body of Christ.

“One thing more. Not all beings within this Sun-mass came to the stage of evolution of which I have spoken to you. Many stayed behind at the stage of Saturn existence. They could not receive into themselves what streamed in from cosmic space and send it back after receiving it; they had to send it back direct, they could not permeate themselves with it. These beings therefore appeared on the Sun as a kind of dark intermixture, as something that could not send out its own light. Since they were enclosed in the Sun-mass surrounded by a mass sending out its own light, they worked as dark places. We must therefore distinguish between those places in the Sun which radiated out into cosmic space what they had received, and those which could radiate out nothing.

“Our present sun is the descendant of the Earth-Sun-body, it has cast out the moon and the earth, and has retained the most advanced part. What was present in the former Sun-body as relics of Saturn are still to be found in the present sun, as the so-called sun-spots. They are the last vestiges of Saturn, which remain in the shining sun-mass as dark portions.” (125, pp. 100-101)

“Now followed a short recapitulation of the first three conditions on a higher level. First the Saturn existence, then the Sun, and then the Moon once more split off and circled round the other body. But this Moon still had the Earth within it. Then comes a further highly important change. All that is Earth threw out of itself the present moon. That means the worst substances and beings, the unserviceable, and these are contained in the present moon. All that was flowing watery substance in the Old Moon, is frozen on the present moon (that can be proved by physical means); and what was capable of developing further remained behind as Earth.

“This separation happened millions of years ago, in the old Lemurian time. And from those ancient Moon-beings, which have been described as plant-mineral, plant-animals and animal-men, have arisen the present plant, the present animal and the man who has become able to receive into himself the Ego which formerly hovered around him and was united with the Godhead.” (125, pp. 113-114)

“This repetition of the Moon-cycle was for the Earth, if one may say so, an evil period of its evolution, for considered spiritually, the ego-hood implanted into the human body consisting of physical body, etheric body and astral body, but without the refining power of thought. During the time when the Sun had already withdrawn and the Earth had not yet cast out the Moon, man was in a condition in which his astral body was the bearer of the most savage lusts, for every bad force was implanted in him and there was no counterbalance.

“During this passage through a veritable hell, and under the influence of the departed pure Sun forces (not only of the physical sun, but also of the Sun-beings, who had withdrawn to the Sun) the recapitulating Moon gradually matured so far that it could throw out the terrible instincts and powers, and retain on the Earth whatever was capable of evolving. With the departure of the present moon all those sensual forces went away; therefore in the present moon you have the remains, in its spiritual significance, of all the evil influences which were at that time present in the human realm; and therefore too the moon is looked upon as having a detrimental influence.” (125, pp. 118-119)

“And now how did the Earth appear, after having freed itself from the Moon? It had formerly been surrounded by fire-mists, as in a seething steaming vessel, and then by degrees the dense watery vapours withdrew. The Earth was now covered by a very thin hardened crust, beneath which lay a bubbling churning sea of fire, the remains of the fire-mist of the former atmosphere. Then gradually tiny islands emerged, the first beginnings of the present mineral kingdom. Whereas on the Moon a plant-mineral kingdom still existed, there now appeared the earliest foundations of our modern rocks and stones in consequence of the hardening, mineralising of this mass.” (125, pp. 121-122)

“Now you must be clear that in the man the stronger influence on the etheric body emanates from the moon and the stronger influence on the physical body from the sun. In the woman the opposite is the case, the physical body is influenced by the forces of the moon and the etheric body by those of the sun.” (125, pp. 127-128)

13 Sept. 1907

“Just as our souls relate to our bodies, so wisdom relates itself to light that streams out into cosmic space. You see, the relation between light and wisdom is not an image that has been contrived. It is based on fact. Thus is it to be explained that religious documents speak of light as a symbol of wisdom.” (7, pp. 7-8)

“In the ancient Pythagorean philosophy, as you know, there is mention of the harmony of the spheres. By sphere we are to conceive cosmic space, space in which the stars are hovering. This is usually considered to be a contrived image, but this is again no poetic comparison, rather it is a reality.” (7, pp. 8-9)

“Our present Saturn received its name in ancient times when the wise ones would still give meaningful names to things. It was given its name out of its very nature. Today, this is no longer done. Uranus, for example, does not have such a justified name since it was discovered later.

“What we see in the heavens as Saturn today stands in relation to our earth as a child to an old man. One day Saturn will become an earth. Just as unlikely as it is that the old man developed himself from the boy who stands next to him, so unlikely is it that the earth developed itself from the Saturn that stands in the heavens today. It is the same with the other heavenly bodies. The sun is such a body as the earth once was; it has, however, advanced. Just as the boy stands near the old man, so the various planets stand in the heavens. They are at various steps of evolution, which our earth, now in its fourth embodiment, has partly undergone already, and will partly undergo in the future. The planets, however, stand in a certain relationship to each other, and the occultist expresses this relationship differently from the way the astronomer does today.

“You know that the earth revolves around the sun, that Mercury and Venus, as sisters of the earth, also revolve, and you know that the sun itself moves. Now occult astronomy has carried on exact investigations of this relationship. It has investigated not only the movement of the earth and the other planets, but also the movement of the sun itself. Here one comes to a definite point in cosmic space that is like a kind of spiritual center around which the sun, and with it our earth and all the planets, turn. The different bodies, however, do not move equally fast. It is just this relationship of the speed of their movements to one another that occult astronomy has determined. It proceeded from the fact that when we view Mars. Venus, and so forth, these heavenly bodies move at a certain speed, but the whole starry heaven is seemingly resting motionless. In the sense of true occult research, this repose is only apparent. In reality, this starry heavens moves a definite distance in one hundred years, and this distance through which the firmament progresses is designated as the basic number. If you assume this movement and compare the planetary movements with it, we find that Saturn's movement is two and one-half times that of Jupiter's; Jupiter's is five times that of Mars; Mars's, twice that of the Moon. Saturn's movement, however, is 1,200 times that of the whole celestial dome.

“Through the relationships of the different speeds of the planets, the fundamental tones of the harmony of the spheres arises that sound through the cosmos. The School of Pythagoras was thus justified in speaking of a celestial harmony. With spiritual ears one can hear it. When you spread a fine powder as evenly as possible on a thin brass plate and then stroke its edges with a fiddler's bow, the powder moves into a definite line pattern. All kinds of figures will arise depending on the pitch of the tone. The tone effects a distribution of the material. These are called Chladny figures. When the spiritual tone of the celestial harmony sounded forth into the universe, it organized the planets into their relationships.” (7, pp. 9-12)

15 Sept. 1907

“Actually, there is justification for speaking of evil only where fivefoldness appears. When, one day, medicine will make use of this, it will be able to influence beneficially the course of illness. Part of its treatment would be to study the illness in its development on the first and fifth days after its onset, on the separate days on the fifth hour past midnight, and again during the fifth week. Thus it is the number five that determines when the physician can best intervene. Before that there is not much else he can do than let nature take its course, but then he can intervene, helping or harming, because what can justifiably be called good or evil then flows into the world of reality. It is possible in many areas to show that the number five has meaning for outer events.

“A man's life consist of periods of seven years - from birth until the change of teeth; puberty; seven or eight years later; toward thirty, followed by seven year periods throughout the rest of his life. When, one day, he will take these periods into account and consider what had best come toward or stand aloof from him, he will come to know much about preparing a good old age for himself. He can thus bring about good or evil for the remainder of his life. In the early periods of life a great deal can be done by observing certain laws of education. Then, however, there comes an important turning point. This also may become a regression if he is turned loose in life with complete confidence too early. The accepted principle of today that sends young people out into life early is harmful; the fifth period should be passed before this happens.

“Seven is the number of perfection. Observation of man himself will make this clear. Today he is under the influence of the number five insofar as he can be good or evil. As a creature of the universe he lives in the number four.” (7, pp. 42-43)

“To complete these remarks let it be said once more that in the fifth week, on the fifth day, or in the fifth hour we can find important things that can be missed or made good. In the seventh week, on the seventh day, or on the seventh hour (or in a definite number relationship, say, 31/2 because seven is also in this number), something can happen through the thing itself. On the seventh day of an illness, for instance, a fever will take on a definite character; this might also occur on the fourteenth day. These things are always based on number relationships that point to the structure of the world.” (7, pg. 45)

16 Sept. 1907

“Modern astronomy is supported by two postulates of Copernicus, but a third has yet to be taken into account. Copernicus said that the sun also moves. It advances in a spiral so that the earth, following the sun, moves in a complicated curve. The same is true for the moon that revolves around the earth. These movements are far more complicated than is assumed in elementary astronomy. You see here how the spiral has significance for celestial bodies, and these describe a form with which men will one day identify themselves.” (7, pg. 57)

14 Oct. 1907

“Today we will only concern ourselves with the six Amshaspands together with their hosts, and the twenty-eight to thirty-one Izeds together with theirs, for both these are of outstanding importance for the whole of human life. Anyone who sees into the spiritual world knows the answer to the question: `What do these beings on the astral plane do? What do they do all the time?' It would be quite wrong to believe that these Spirits are there merely to form groups and to sing. One might easily think, from some theoretical descriptions, that they were only ranged in tiers to form choirs. That would be a very tedious existence for these Spirits! It is not just a question of forming living groups, but these Beings all have their tasks, their mission in the plan of the world. Those whom the Persians called Izards were also known to the old Germanic tribes. The Trottens and the Druids also knew them, only they counted them differently. Some reckoned them to be thirty or thirty-one, some as twenty-nine. Those spirits whom the Persians called Amshaspands are higher spiritual Beings whose sole task is to preside over and guide the forces of nature around us. What takes place in nature so that plants grow and animals thrive, so that man can live, those forces around us which we call light and warmth, electricity and magnetism, nerve-force, blood-force - these are far from being unspiritual forces. To regard them as such would be materialistic superstition. These forces are the outward expression for spiritual Beings. The mighty powers of existence, light, air, warmth, electricity and the chemical forces which permeate the world are the outward expression of the Amshaspands and their hosts. The Amshaspands work within them. They are, so to say, simmering close to the world. They are `behind the scenes' for sense perception. You can perhaps see what I mean by the example of an operator who works behind the scenes with strings and wires; thus the forces of nature are the marionettes, and behind them are spiritual Beings. And it is dire superstition which recognises only the marionettes and has no idea that spiritual Beings are behind them.

“If all six of the Amshaspands were at work with warmth and light and so on, that alone would not bring into existence the structure of our world; the Amshaspands have to be helped by lower spiritual Beings, subordinate Beings who carry things into effect. These are the twenty-eight Izards, who have a very remarkable organisation. If one watches for days at a time, one sees that the six Amshaspands are at work all the time, uniformly, tirelessly. But the subordinate twenty-eight Izards have a limited working time. They relieve each other, so that on one day one sees one category at work, on the second day the second category, on the third day the third, and so on, and this is what makes it possible for the world to go forward. When in spring a specific species of plant makes its appearance, the Amshaspands are at work. But it is always one of the six that takes its turn at leadership, the others are active too but they have not the lead. After a while one of the others takes over the lead. Thus when a plant species is produced, the Amshapands are working at the distribution of the great natural forces; but that everything is exactly what is needed, as, for instance, the climate on any particular day, and other things, that is brought about by the category of Izard concerned. And the plants would not get any further if on each day there were not a different category of Izard; after twenty-eight days the first category comes back again. That is actually how the spiritual is organised, that is the work of the Hierarchies on the astral plane.” (123, pp. 8-10)

“Now it is extremely interesting to follow the whole process not only in man but outside in nature. For man is of course modeled upon nature, from the constellations of mighty nature outside him. If the earth had a different sun, one around which the earth did not take a year to circle, a different moon, one which did not unfold its four phases in a month, man would look quite different; for all these things are closely connected. Light and air work differently according to the point from which the sun shines upon the earth.

“Why is this? It is because the apparent advance of the sun is related to the fact that the Amshaspands in turn relinquish leadership. From month to month through six months the Amshaspands take their turn at leadership. That is connected with the passage of the sun through the Zodiac. We have one period of administration by the Amshaspands in the summer months, the other in the winter months. One of the Amshaspands has to work for two months every year, and under their control the Izards work in turn, in exact correspondence with the phases of the moon. Hence the moon needs twenty-eight days to pass through its four phases and return to its original position. The circuit of the moon marks the regulation of the period of work of the Izards, the circuit of the sun the regulation of the period of work of the Amshaspands. Thus the formation of the human brain, with its twelve pairs of nerves, is connected with the yearly circuit of the sun. The twelve nerves of our brain correspond to the twelve months, and the twenty-eight nerves of the spinal cord correspond to the twenty-eight days which make up the circuit of the moon. And because, when the earth was newly formed out of the Old Moon, a new organisation had to come about, the correspondence is not exact; man is served by additional Izards. If a month had thirty-one days, actually all the thirty-one Izards would work on man; the present distribution is not quite right. These Izards regulate the functions of the body as distinct from the head, and thus the functions of the bodily organs are in fact connected with the rulership of the Izards.” (123, pp. 13-14)

19 Oct. 1907

“The subject of our study to-day will appear at first comparatively remote; nevertheless, these things can interest us in a certain sense even for our everyday life. The motif of to-day's lecture will be what is called by a name borrowed from ancient times, namely, Chaos. What this word really refers to lies even behind what we understand as Heaven. Not only the wonderful old Grecian myth speaks of Chaos when it says that the most ancient Gods were born out of the Chaos; the legends and myths of other nations too are acquainted with this Chaos, albeit under a different name. In the Norse Saga we find it designated as Ginnungagap, the Yawning Abyss, from which there arises on the one hand the cold Niflheim and on the other hand the hot Muspelheim. The beginning of the Bible also refers to it in the words: `In the Beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth; and the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the waters.'

“'The Earth was without form and void” - these are only other words for the Chaos out of which the highest Spiritual Beings are born. What is the Chaos? With these old words for very lofty concepts things have taken a strange course in human evolution. For a long time past men have lost the right feeling and right conception of them; they no longer know what was meant when such words were said.” (126, pg. 1)

“Likewise it is useful to enter deeply into the thoughts of John van Helmont, a contemporary of Amos Comenius, who was also a Rosicrucian. Van Helmont can help us explain what we mean by the word `Chaos'.

“We are all familiar with the word which many people believe to be very old - the word `gas'. Without further ado one might imagine that the word was as old as any other. Gas and `gaseous' were unknown concepts before the time of Comenius and Helmont. Helmont was the first; he invented the word `gas'. It was in 1615 that he wrote the work in which this word first occurs.

“When one uses a new word, one must have some definite occasion to do so. Helmont was the first to give to mankind the idea, the concept of a gas which is current to-day. What occasion had he for the concept of a gas? When you heat water, and cause it to evaporate, water-vapour or steam arises in the first place. Steam is not yet a gas; it is something you can still see with your eyes. It is the same substance which was formerly there in the water, divided there into finer particles. You can divide the great majority of substances into vapour. But you can heat them still further. By further heating you can get a condition where the substance is no longer visible; it has passed over into quite another form. It was in the case of carbonic acid gas that Helmont first realised the nature of the gas. Helmont came to the idea that among the states of substance there is also the gaseous state, and in his work Ortus Medicinale we find the following sentence: `This spirit which was hitherto unknown, I will name with a new name: Gas.' We can learn a great deal from this sentence. Helmont calls what he describes as gas, `Spiritum', that is, a Spirit. That is to say, the transparent substance he has constituted is for him the instrument of a spiritual being. He sees in it the expression for a spiritual being, and he calls this Spirit by a new name: Gas. He was well aware that when the gas was cooled, strange cloudlike phenomena appeared. The gas became vapourous and watery again. To him the gas was a transparent and clear foundation from out of which something more dense and condensed arises. In contemplating this world he said to himself: How did all this that is here, originally come to be? Originally it arose from something that one cannot see, from out of which, however, as from a gas, the Universe was formed. Once upon a time, the whole Universe was Spiritum, purely spiritual. As the clouds of misty vapour are formed out of the gas, so out of the transparent, radiant, unclouded infinity of the Spiritual, all things that now exist emerged.

“Van Helmont had this thought: - the gas is very thin, transparent; the light goes through. You do not even divine its existence. But in relation to the world-origin, even the gas is a condensation. Nevertheless, one can understand, one can conceive the cosmic origin and foundation of all things if one regards the gas as a parable thereof. You can gain an idea of the Spiritual if you imagine that the gas is itself a vapour of the Spirit, just as the steam is vapour of the gas. We are thus led by Helmont to a living conception of Space, not empty and infertile like the concept of Space for the many to-day, but a concept of Space appearing infinitely fertile, bearing countless seeds. The infinitude that is spread is the seed from out of which we issue. Everything that is in the world is Space condensed; it is the infinite Spirit who shows Himself to us in place of a mere empty space.

“Imagine how originally the pure, spiritual transparent Space was there. What happened in this pure transparent Space? In this same Space is also the extended gaseous air. As the thoughts that rise from our soul, when they are spoken in the word, bring the air around us into vibration, and every word shapes itself into forms in the air, quite silently and unseen by us, so did the Spirit of God hover over the waters. Into the waters the creating words of the Godhead were spoken. Now let us imagine the empty widespread cosmic Space; fertile, rich in seeds, and resounding into it, the Word of the Godhead, working formatively into this Space.

“But the Chaos works not only in the beginning of world-evolution; it works on and on; it is present even to-day.

“This Chaos is at the same time the essential reason of the constant and ever-present fertility in Nature. Chaos is working in manure, in all that is cast out; and unless, at some time or other, you mingle Chaos with the Cosmos, further evolution is never possible.” (126, pp. 5-10)

28 Oct. 1907

“But another event took place, concurrently with the separation of the sun and moon from the earth - as you have heard on various occasions. I refer to the passage of Mars through the earth. The substance of the two cosmic bodies Mars and Earth was at that time so thin that the substance of Mars could pass through the earth, and there was left behind in the earth a substance which it did not have before, iron. If you go through all the various conditions of the ancient Sun and Moon, you will find no trace of iron; iron first came about through the transit of Mars through the earth. And it was that event too which enabled red blood to be formed. What was the consequence of the permeation of the earth with iron? The earth became fiery, became permeated with an atmosphere of warmth.

“And now we come to a thought which I beg you to take hold of with precision. Imagine that all the warmth which is present in the bodies of men and animals inhabiting the earth today were living as an atmosphere of warmth around the earth. Then you have approximately the state of the earth immediately after the separation of the moon.

“The earth-beings did not yet possess warmth, but warmth surrounded the whole globe, it was still outside. Thus we can think of the earth at this time as a body still fluid, a body in which the other metals were present in solution in a variety of ways, and which was surrounded by a sea of fire, or warmth. Into this sea of warmth the sun sent its rays of light from without. For the occultist light is by no means merely physical, but it is the bodily expression of the spirit. It is because these sun-Spirits in the sun-rays are taken into the earth-warmth that there is first formed the common soul, the common astral body of all mankind and the higher animals.” (124, pp. 8-9)


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