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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Theosophy of the Rosicrucian
GA 99

IX. Planetary Evolution I

2 June 1907, Munich

We shall most easily understand the progress of humanity through the three incarnations, Saturn, Sun, and Moon, preceding the Earth, if we add a further survey of man in sleep, in dream.

When man is asleep the seer beholds the astral body with the ego enveloped in it as though floating over the physical body. The astral body is then outside the physical and etheric bodies, but remains connected with them. It sends threads, as it were, or rather currents into the universal cosmic body, and seems partly embedded in it. Thus in the sleeping man we have the physical, the etheric and the astral body, but this last sends out tentacles towards the great astral universe.

If we picture this condition as an enduring one, if here on the physical plane there were only human beings who had the physical body interpenetrated with the etheric body, while above hovered over them an astral soul with the ego, then we should have the condition in which mankind existed on the Moon. Except that on the Moon the astral body was not strongly separated from the physical body; it sank down into the physical body just as strongly as it expanded into the cosmos.

But if you picture a state of sleep where no dream ever comes then you have the condition in which humanity existed on the Sun. And if you now imagine that the human being has died, that even his etheric body is outside him, united to the astral body and ego, but yet that the link is not quite dissolved, so that what is outside, embedded in the whole surrounding cosmos, sends down its rays and works upon the physical substance—you then have the condition in which mankind existed on Saturn.

Below on the cosmic globe of Saturn there was only what we have in our purely physical body; it was surrounded, so to speak, by an etheric astral atmosphere, in which the egos were embedded.

Human beings were already actually in existence on Saturn but in a dull, dull consciousness. These souls had the task of maintaining in an active and mobile state something that belonged to them down below. They worked from above on their physical body, like a snail fashioning its shell; they acted from outside, just like an instrument, on the bodily organs. We will describe the appearance of that on which the souls above were working; we must give some little description of this physical Saturn, of Saturn in general.

I have already said that the part of the physical body elaborated then was the foundation of the sense organs. The souls outside worked upon the Saturn surface, upon what lived in man as rudiments of the senses. They were actually in the cosmic space surrounding Saturn below were their workshops, there they worked out the types for eyes and ears and for the other sense organs.

Now what was the fundamental quality of this Saturn-mass? It is hard to characterise, for we have scarcely a word in our language which is suitable; our words are quite materialistic, they are only adapted to the physical plane. There is one word however, that can express the delicate work that was carried out there. One can denote it with the expression: Reflection. The Saturn globe in all its parts had the quality of reflecting everything, such as light, tone, perfume, taste, that reached it from without; all was thrown back again; one perceived it in cosmic space as a reflection in the mirror of Saturn. One can only compare it with the effect of looking into the eye of our neighbour, when our own picture looks out from it towards us.

Thus all the human souls were aware of themselves, but not only as a picture in colour they perceived themselves in taste, in scent, in a definite feeling of warmth. Saturn was thus a reflecting planet. The human beings living in the atmosphere threw their essence and being into it and out of the pictures that then arose, the rudiments of the sense organs began to take form, for they were pictures that worked creatively.

Imagine yourself standing before a mirror from which your own figure confronts you, and that this figure begins to create, is not a dead form as in our modern lifeless mirror. There you have the creative activity of Saturn, there you have the kind of way the human beings lived on Saturn and accomplished their work.

This took place below on the Saturn globe; up above, the souls were in the deep trance consciousness of which I spoke yesterday. They knew nothing of this mirroring, they only occasioned it. In this dull trance consciousness they had within them the entire cosmic All, and thus the whole cosmic All was mirrored from their being. They themselves, however, were embedded in a basic substance of a spiritual nature, they were not independent but were only a part of the spirituality surrounding Saturn. They could not therefore have a spiritual perception, higher spirits perceived by means of them, they were the organs of perception for other spirits.

A whole number of higher spirits were in the surroundings of Saturn; all those whom Christian esotericism has called Divine Messengers, Angels, Archangels, Primal Forces, Powers of Revelation. All these were contained in the Saturn atmosphere. Just as the hand belongs to the organism so did the souls belong to these Beings, and just as little as the hand has an independent consciousness, so little had they at that time a consciousness of their own. They worked out of the consciousness of higher Beings, the consciousness of a higher world; they thus fashioned the forms of their sense organs, which then became creative, and they also moulded the Saturn substance. You must not think of this substance of Saturn as being as dense as the present human flesh. The densest condition that it could attain at all was not as dense as our present physical air. Saturn became physical, but only reached the density of fire, of warmth, the warmth in which our modern Physics no longer admits any matter to exist. Warmth, however, for the occultist is a finer substance than gas it has the characteristic of continuous expansion. And since Saturn consisted of this substance it had the power of spreading from within outwards, of raying out everything, of reflecting. Such a body radiates everything; it has no need to keep it all within itself.

Saturn was not a uniform substance but of such a composition that one could have perceived a differentiation, a configuration. Later the organs became rounded into cell-like balls, only that cells are small and those were large—as if you took a mulberry or blackberry. You could not as yet have seen on Saturn, for the reflecting process threw all light that came from outside back again. Within this Saturn mass all was dark, only towards the end of its evolution was it somewhat illumined. A number of beings were present in the surrounding atmosphere of Saturn; not only you yourselves were active on your sense organs. For the soul of man was not yet so far developed as to be able to work alone, you worked in conjunction with other spiritual beings, under their guidance, so to speak.

Certain beings worked on Saturn as independently as modern man; they stood then at the human level. They could not be formed like modern man, for warmth was the only substance of Saturn. In respect of their intelligence, their ego-consciousness, however, they stood at the level of present man though they could form no physical body, no brain. Let us observe them somewhat closer. The present-day human being consists of four members: Physical body, Etheric body, Astral body and the Ego, and, prefigured in the ego, Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man (Manas, Budhi, Atma). The lowest, although of its kind the most perfect member on the Earth planet, is the physical body.

The next higher is the etheric body, then the astral body and the ego. Now there are also beings who have no physical body, whose lowest member is the etheric body. They have no need of the physical body in order to occupy themselves in our sense world; in compensation they have a member which is higher than our seventh.

Others have the astral body as their lowest member and in compensation a ninth, and again others who have our ego as lowest member, have in compensation a tenth member. When we consider the beings who have the ego as lowest member we must say that they consist of:

  • Ego
  • Spirit-Self
  • Life-Spirit
  • Spirit-Man.

Then come the eighth, ninth and tenth members, that which Christian esotericism calls the Divine Trinity:

  • Holy Spirit
  • Son or Word
  • Father.

In theosophical literature one is accustomed to call these the three Logoi.

These beings, whose lowest member is the ego, are those who come into special consideration for us in the Saturn evolution. They were at the stage where humanity stands today. They could exercise their ego under the quite different conditions that I have described. They were the human beings of Saturn and the ancestors of our present humanity.

They irradiated the surface of Saturn with their ego-hood, their external nature, they were the implanters of ego-hood in the physical corporeality that was forming on the surface of Saturn.

Thus they made it their care that the physical body was prepared in such a way that it could later become the bearer of the ego. Only such a physical body as you have today, with feet, hands and head and the sense organs incorporated in it could be ego-bearer on the fourth stage, the Earth. To this end the nucleus of it had to be already implanted on Saturn. One also calls these ego-beings of Saturn, Spirits of Egoism. *[Later called by Dr. Steiner, Spirits of Personality.]

Egoism has a two-fold character; it is excellent and desirable or obnoxious and evil. If at that time on Saturn and on the succeeding planets the essential nature of egoism had not been again and again implanted, man would never have become an independent being who can say “I” to himself. Into your bodily nature there has been instilled ever since Saturn the sum of forces which stamps you as an independent being, cutting you off from all other beings. To this end had the Spirits of Egoism, the Asuras, to work.

Among them are to be found two kinds, apart from slight deviations. The one kind has elaborated egoism in a noble, self-reliant way, and has risen higher and higher in the perfection of the sense of freedom: that is the rightful independence of egoism. These spirits have guided mankind through all the successive planets; they have become the educators of men towards independence.

Now on each planet there are also Spirits who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress. You will recognise a law from this: If the most outstanding fall and commit the “great sin” of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all.

The noble sense of liberty has been reversed into wickedness, into its opposite. Those are the Spirits of Temptation, and they must be taken gravely into account; they lead to the evil side of egoism, even today they are still in our environment, these evil Spirits of Saturn. All that is bad draws its power from these Spirits.

When each planet has completed its evolution and becomes spiritual again, it is, so to speak, no longer in existence. It passes over into a condition of sleep in order to come forth once more. So too was it with Saturn. Its next incarnation is the Sun, a Sun which you would obtain if you were to mix together as in a cauldron all that is on the sun, the moon and the earth, together with all the terrestrial and spiritual beings. The Sun evolution is distinguished by the fact that the etheric body drew into the prepared physical body below. The Sun has a denser substantiality than Saturn, it is to be compared with the density of the present air. The human physical substance, your own body which you formed for yourselves, is to be seen on the Sun interpenetrated by the etheric body. You yourselves belonged to a body of air, as on Saturn to a body of warmth. Your etheric body was already down below, but your astral body with your ego was enveloped in the great general astral body of the Sun. And there you worked down into the physical and etheric bodies, just as today in sleep when your astral body is outside it works upon the physical and the etheric body. At that time you were elaborating the first rudiments of all that today are organs of growth, metabolism and reproduction. You were transforming the elements of the sense organs from Saturn, some of which maintained their character, while others were transformed into glands and organs of growth.

All organs of growth and organs of reproduction are sense organs taken hold of by the etheric body and transformed. When you compare the body of the Sun with Saturn you find a certain difference. Saturn was stiff like a reflecting surface, it rayed back everything that it received of taste, smell and all sense-perceptions. This was not so in the Sun. Whereas Saturn rayed back everything direct, without taking possession of it, the Sun permeated itself with it, and then rayed it back; being able to do so by virtue of having an etheric body. Its body, penetrated by an etheric body, did as the plant does today with the sunlight. The plant takes up the sunlight, permeates itself with it and then gives it back again. If it is put in some dark place, it loses its colour and languishes. There would be no green colouring matter without light. So it was with your own body on the Sun, it permeated itself with light and with other ingredients too, and as the plant sends back the light after having drawn strength from it, so did the Sun once upon a time ray back the light after having worked it over inwardly. But it not only permeated itself with the light, but with taste, scent, warmth, everything, and radiated it out again.

Hence your own body too was at the stage of the plant on the Sun. It had not the appearance of a plant in the modern sense, for this has only been formed on the Earth. What you bear within you as glands, organs of growth and reproduction, were upon the Sun as mountains and rocks are upon the Earth today. You worked upon them as one nowadays tends and cultivates a little garden. The Sun radiated back the ingredients of cosmic space, it shone in the loveliest colours, a wonderful tone rang forth, an exquisite aroma streamed out from it. The ancient Sun was a wonderful being in cosmic space. Thus at that time on the Sun men worked at their own substance like certain creatures, corals for instance, work from outside on their structure. This took place under the guidance of higher beings, for there were higher beings in the Sun's atmosphere.

We must concern ourselves with one special category who then stood at the level reached by men today. On Saturn we have the Spirits of Egoism who implanted the sense of freedom and self-reliance and stood at the human level. On the Sun it was other beings, who had as lowest member, not the ego but the astral body. They possessed astral body, ego, Spirit Self, Life Spirit and Spirit Man and the eighth member, named in Christian Esotericism “Holy Spirit,” and finally the ninth member, the Son, “the Word” in the sense of St. John's Gospel. They had not as yet the tenth member and instead of this they had a lower member, the astral body. These were the Spirits who were active on the Sun, they guided all astral activity. They differ from modern man inasmuch as man breathes air, since air is in the earthly environment; these Spirits, however, breathed warmth or fire.

The Sun was itself a kind of being of air, surrounded by that 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 Esotericism Archangels. And the highest evolved Spirit Who was on the Sun as Fire Spirit, Who today 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 on to the 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 under foot.” For the Earth is the Body of Christ. And when men who eat bread, taken from the body of the earth, walk upon the earth, then they tread under foot the Body of Christ. Take these words quite literally, as all religious documents must be taken. Only one must first know the true meaning of the letters and then seek for the spirit.

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 the 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. Thus they worked as dark wedges within the Sun-mass, they had learnt nothing in addition to what they had on Saturn. Just as in the human body you do not find glands and organs of growth everywhere, but the body is interspersed with dead parts which have been incorporated, so was the Sun interspersed with these dark wedges.

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 sunspots. They are the last vestiges of Saturn, which remain in the shining sun-mass as dark portions. Our occult wisdom discloses the hidden spiritual sources of physical facts. Physical science substantiates the physical causes of the sunspots through its astronomy and astrophysics; the spiritual causes, however, lie in that residue remaining from Saturn.

We now ask what kingdoms were there on Saturn? Only one kingdom, the last traces of which are contained in the present mineral. When we speak of man's passing through the mineral kingdom, we must not think of the present mineral. The last descendants of the Saturn mineral must far rather be seen in your eyes, ears and other sense organs. Those are the most physical, the most mineral parts of you. The apparatus of the eye is like a physical instrument and even continues unchanged for some time after death.

The single Saturn kingdom progressed on the Sun to a kind of plant existence. Man's own body confronts us there growing like a plant. What was left behind as Saturn kingdom was a kind of mineral kingdom of the Sun, which had the form of stunted sense organs which could not reach their goal. But all these beings on the Sun, these developing human bodies, had as yet no nervous system within them. That was incorporated for the first time on the Moon by the astral body. Plants too have no nervous system. It is an error of physical science when it ascribes one to them.

But the astral bodies, especially those that proceeded from the Fire Spirits, sent a kind of stream into the substance that was down below as physical and etheric bodies. These light streams divided in tree-like forms. Their last traces are to be found in densified form as the organ we call the Solar Plexus. This goes back to the ancient in-streaming on the Sun, densified to substance and hence the name Solar-plexus.

You must picture the bodies which you had on the Sun as if currents from above streamed into you, currents interlaced as a branching tree. Thus the Sun is represented in the numberless interlacings which are your solar-plexus. These branches were represented in German mythology as the World Ash, which, however, means very much besides.

Then the Sun passed into a sleep-condition and was transformed into what in occult science we call the Moon. In this we have to do with yet a third incarnation of the Earth, which will again introduce to us a directing Central Spirit.

As the highest Regent of Saturn, the Ego Spirit appears to us as the Father God, the highest God of the Sun, the Sun-God, as Christ, so will the Regent of the Moon-stage of the Earth appear to us as the Holy Spirit with His Hosts, which in Christian esotericism are called the Messengers of the Godhead, the Angels.

We have completed two Days of Creation, which in the esoteric language are called:

  • Dies Saturni
  • Dies Solis

To them we must add: Dies Lunae (the Moon-Day).

The existence of a directing Godhead of Saturn, Sun and Moon has always been known.

The words Dies = Day and Deus = God have the same origin, so that Dies may be translated either Day or Godhead. One can just as well say for Dies Solis Sun-Day or Sun-God and mean by both the Christ Spirit.