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Universe, Earth and Man
GA 105

Lecture IV

The Outer Manifestations of Spiritual Beings in the Elements. Their connection with Man. Cosmic partitions. The Myth of Osiris.

7 Aug 1908, Stuttgart

In our last lecture we spoke of various Spiritual Beings who supplement the different Kingdoms of nature that surround us in the physical world. We learnt that minerals and plants have an ego as well as an astral body; and our Spiritual view was enlarged to include a plenitude of realities besides those that our physical eyes can see and that can be comprehended by means of our physical intellect. We learnt, further, that high Spiritual Beings take part in man's evolution on earth; and that as regards individual men a yet higher grade of being takes a hand in this.

Spiritual Science maintains that each separate human being is complete ruler over his inner world, the world of his deeds, and of his will, between birth and death; but we know that the essential inner being of man has passed through many incarnations, and that in his present normal development man is incapable of working beyond one incarnation. Higher powers must co-operate to give the directing force necessary which is able to work, not only between birth and death, but also beyond death, from one incarnation to another. In Christian esotericism these Spiritual Beings are called Angels, and in Anthroposophical parlance Spirits of Twilight; they may also in accordance with Rosicrucian occultism be called the Sons of Life—all these designations will become clearer to you later. We also heard how communities of men—races and peoples—are guided by an order of Spirits called Archangels, or Fire Spirits; and, lastly, how that which goes beyond the limits of a community of people—that which finds expression in the “Spirit of the Age,” or Zeitgeist—is guided by the Archai, also called Spirits of Personality or Original Forces, or, in Theosophical parlance, Asuras. Spiritual Beings are at work everywhere in the world, and we must realize that three more kingdoms have to be added to those immediately around us. We will now try to give some idea of how it is with the more external manifestations of these Beings.

When we consider the earth from the ordinary physical standpoint we see it is made up of what we call earth, water, air, and fire. These are the four primary conditions of external matter. That to which Spiritual Science gives the name of “earth” is called “solid”; everything fluid (not only water but quicksilver, for instance) is called “water”; everything in the shape of gas, “air”; everything that can be perceived as having any degree of warmth is thought of as permeated with a finer substance, this we call “substantial warmth.”

Now the Spiritual Beings of whom we have spoken live in these various material elements, as if in external bodies. To anyone able to observe the world with clairvoyant vision that which is known as the fluidic element, especially water, is not only inhabited by the Beings we know as aquatic creatures, such as fish, but, in spite of the ever-changing substance, in spite of the fact that no solid form endures in this watery element, Spiritual Beings live in it, and are actually embodied in it in continually changing forms, although it is not possible to distinguish them with external vision. In this element live the Beings whom we have described as Angels, or Spirits of Twilight. Their physical body is in a form not represented by any solid, clearly defined corporation; and when old myths and legends tell of such water-beings it is no phantasy, but is entirely in accordance with reality.

Further, in that which we know as “air,” and particularly in our air, those Beings live whom we called Archangels. It is no fairy tale when in streaming currents of air, in the rushing storm, we see the bodily manifestation of this Spiritual Kingdom. (When I said that Angelic Beings dwelt in water it is preferably that form of water which permeates the air as watery vapour—fugitive and fleeting and dispersed in separate atoms, but in which clairvoyant vision sees the embodiment of Angels.)

In that which we know as warmth we have the embodiment of Beings known as the Spirits of Personality or Archai. As man is made up of these four elements: earth, water, air, and fire, he has mingled within him not only the four elements, but also the Beings we have just named; they fill his body to a certain extent, they pass in and out of his physical body just as material substances do.

The series of Beings connected with man is not exhausted with those I have mentioned. Still higher Beings have to do with the earth, the universe, and man, Beings who are at a higher stage even than the Spirits of Personality. There are Beings, for example, who stream towards us in the light for light to us is a still finer condition than warmth. Wherever there is anything that sends forth light we recognize in this light the garment of exalted Beings, those to whom Christian esotericism gives the name of Exusiai, or Powers, or Spirits of Form. It is they who give form to everything around us. Wherever things are seen with a distinct form this is due to the activity of these Spirits.

We now see that what is active in the evolution of our earth as the “Spirits of the different Ages, or Zeitgeists,” is controlled by the Spirits of Personality. The task of the Spirits of Form is still higher. We shall best understand what this is if we reflect that from the beginning of human evolution, that is, from the time when man experienced his first incarnation, the “Zeitgeist” has continually changed, that from among the many Spirits of Personality different ones have been the directors of succeeding ages; but beyond all that is accomplished by the “Zeitgeist” something else is active which goes through the whole of' earthly humanity. Since the mission of mankind first began on earth, Spiritual Beings have taken part in work upon humanity, and it is they we have to thank for the fact that we can be active as human beings. As if from a higher kingdom, the Spirits of Form have ruled from the beginning of the earth over that which appeared as the Spirits of Personality in the Zeitgeist; as Archangels in separate communities; and as Angels in regard to individual men; they are the principal guides and directors of all these Spiritual Beings. These Spirits of Form have the task of working on the earth as a whole, theirs is a planetary activity. Therefore when we go beyond the “Zeitgeist” to the Spirit of the whole of humanity we encounter the Spirits of Form.

Now you are aware that our earth, as a planet, is under the law of re-embodiment, just as man is. Previous to its present embodiment our earth was what is called the ancient Moon. What we now regard as the mission of the earth did not then exist. The mission of the Moon was different; each planetary condition has its own mission to fulfil within the mighty whole; nothing is repeated, everything is under the law of evolution. During that incarnation of the earth which we call Ancient Moon certain Beings had a duty similar to that of the Spirits of Form on the earth, and these are called, according to Christian esotericism, Spirits of Motion, or Virtues, or Dynamis.

If we go back still further in evolution we arrive at a planetary condition of our earth which preceded that of the Ancient Moon; this is, the Ancient Sun condition, which as you are aware has nothing to do with the globe we now see in the heavens as the sun. A very exalted principle ruled upon the Ancient Sun, as the Spirits of Form rule upon the earth, and as the Spirits of Motion ruled upon the Moon, this principle is named in Christian esotericism the hierarchy of the Spirits of Wisdom, called also Kyriotes, or Dominions. These Beings were in command during the Sun condition. We now come to a still earlier planetary condition, that of ancient Saturn and the Beings who at that time superintended the guidance of the world we call the Thrones, or Spirits of Will.

Thus we pass to greater and ever greater grades of' Spiritual Beings, to Beings who are not merely directors of something that changes—like the “Zeitgeist”—but who are concerned with the mission of planetary conditions that change only from planet to planet such as the Thrones, the Spirits of Motion, and the Spirits of Form. All these Hierarchies are continually in some sort of connection with us, although not in such close, directly perceptible connection as the lower Hierarchies. We will try by an example to show how these work into our earthly evolution, but in order to do this it will be necessary first to consider the evolution of the Angels, Archangels, and Archai.

These Beings are all greater than the man of today, but in the next incarnation of the Earth, which we call the Jupiter condition, he will be as great as the Angels are now; and he will continually expand to ever greater degrees of perfection. This is also the case as regards the evolution of the other Beings; they were not always what they are now, they also have passed through lower stages of development.

Take for example the Angels. In earlier times these passed through their human stage as we are now doing on earth; this was on the Ancient Moon, and it was because of the work they carried out upon themselves at that time that they have become the higher Beings they are now. In the same way Archangels passed through their human stage on the Ancient Sun; at that time they were Beings like us; today they have advanced two stages above us. The Archai had their human stage upon Ancient Saturn. They were one stage higher than the Beings who passed through their humanity on the Sun, and about three stages higher than man is today. But those Beings whom we call the Spirits of Form, whom we look up to and reverence as very exalted Beings, passed through their human stage in a past that it is impossible for us to conceive of. When the embodiment of the earth first began, when the earth was Saturn, they had already left their human evolution behind them.

What exaltation must fill our souls when we look in thought up to these Beings! But even they are under the law of evolution, and although on Saturn they were greater than the humanity of today, they rose through ever higher and higher stages of development during the Sun and Moon periods, and on to the time of the Earth, till at last they have attained to such a degree of expansion and have so large a field of activity that they no longer have need of a planet in order, on it, to find the substances through which they can exist.

Other Beings have need of our earth in a certain way; the Angels have need of water, the Archangels of air, and the Spirits of Personality of fire; but the Spirits of Form no longer require our planetary conditions, hence it was necessary for them, when our earth began its development, to find another dwelling-place, and that was why they separated from it. It was no merely mechanical splitting asunder of matter, but heavenly bodies separated off from each other in order to provide a dwelling place for Spiritual Beings.

Spirits of Form tore from the earth its finer substances; in this way the sun originated and now sends its light down to the earth from outside. In the sunlight the spiritual nature of the Spirits of Form streams down to us, hence I said that light is the garment of these Spirits. When we see the bright light of the sun streaming down to us we see in it the garment of these Spirits who send their guiding and directing forces to the earth from the sun, thus controlling the mission of the earth.

We have to think of the Ancient Moon as a heavenly body similar to our earth, that towards the end passed through a spiritualizing process. That which had been split asunder was blended once more, and converted into an undifferentiated condition. It then passed through a kind of cosmic sleep after which there emerged from the womb of the cosmos that nebulous etheric sphere which is the re-birth of the Ancient Moon. For us this is no material mass, but within this globe dwell all those mighty Beings whom we have designated as the Spirits of Motion, of Form, etc. Only the germ of man dwelt in this globe, as yet he had no ego; but all those Spiritual Beings who already had a certain degree of development behind them were intimately connected with this nebula.

How does the materialistic hypothesis explain the rise of the solar system from out this nebulous mass? There is an experiment frequently made in schools to demonstrate the course of this development. A small quantity of oil is placed in the middle of a heavier liquid and rotated by some simple mechanical device. It can then be observed how this globule becomes oblate, how drops break from it, how these form again into globes and circle round the larger globule; by this means we see, in small, how something resembling a planetary system originates through rotation. This acts most suggestively. Why should we not imagine that the same thing took place with the world? We can see demonstrated before us how, through rotation, the planetary system originates, we have it before our eyes. Only one thing is forgotten! Sometimes it is good to forget this one thing, but not in this case; here one has forgotten oneself! In this experiment, if there is no person there to rotate the axis no planetary system can be produced. If one thought rightly and logically one would have to suppose a gigantic human being in cosmic space who set the axis in motion like a mighty spit! Now it is obvious that there is no giant in space; but something else is there, the nebula is not merely matter, it is inspired and permeated by the Beings we have already mentioned who have certain requirements and aspirations.

One kind of these Beings animated one kind of' matter, and others another, and it was these who, when a certain degree of maturity had been reached, undertook to bring about separation, so that the higher beings went forth with the sun, and those who had need of earthly materials and forces remained behind upon the earth. Within this seething primeval body all these Spiritual Beings were active and they gradually formed that which today we know as our planetary system.

There were some, for example, who had not quite attained the goal which was that of the Spirits of Form; they were backward in their development. These Beings had progressed too far to make of the earth their dwelling-place, but were not sufficiently mature to go along with the finer substances to the sun. There were two principal classes of these Beings, and we shall later become acquainted with their effect upon the earth. For in the same way that the perfected and matured Powers shone in the sunlight upon the earth as Spirits of Form, and guided it from the sun, so did these intermediate Beings also direct the earth, but from a smaller horizon as it were, which was, however, an exalted one compared with the human standpoint. It was in this way that Venus and Mercury originated between the sun and the earth; these are inhabited by beings who are at an intermediate stage. The other planets of our system have separated off in the same way through other Beings having need of them as a field of activity.

Now let us again call to mind the time (in the Earthly period) when the sun went forth with its Beings; the earth remaining behind with all its potentialities, present humanity among them, who had not then reached their present stage. There were also other Beings belonging to the animal and vegetable kingdoms that had already gone through a certain amount of development in the previous embodiments of the earth, and these now reappeared germinally.

Let us to begin with consider man alone. Previous to this, when the sun was still one with the earth, mighty forces which proceeded from exalted sun beings were united with the earth, and worked upon man from within it. At first man was just as he came from the Old Moon, he had only just evolved from the seed, as one might say, and was to begin with furnished only with a physical, etheric, and astral body. The physical body was not so dense as it is now, it was more etheric and finer, and the ego was not yet formed.

Now, through the sun shining upon the earth from outside, and the sun-beings also working on it from outside, conditions on earth became completely changed. You can think of it in this way: as long as the earth was bound up with the sun, exalted Beings (who later went forth with it) were hampered in their own development, hence also in their powers, and power to govern—by the gross forces of the earth. But now that they had become free they could continue their evolution at a quite different rate from before, when they had to carry the very heavy weight of the earth mass with them. They freed themselves from the earth as regards their own evolution, and thus gained power to work on man more strongly from outside. Evolution would have been enormously accelerated through this, and human life would have been brought to an issue with extreme rapidity, if something else had not taken place. Man was unable to proceed at this rate of development, therefore from the totality of Spirits who existed previously, one, with his hosts, separated from the rest, and remained united with the earth.

The task of this Spirit of Form was to hold back and limit that which the sun forces had accomplished with their enormous acceleration, so that these sun Spirits did not work alone. If this Spirit of Form had remained connected with the earth and continued to work there, the whole earth would have grown stiff and hard, his influence would have been too powerful; therefore he took the grossest materials and forces and led them out of the earth; that which he thus led out of the earth constitutes our present moon. So this Spirit which had undertaken the duty of retarding and holding back the too-rapid development of humanity was now united with the moon.

Evolution went on the earth-beings and the moon-beings had separated. At this time the earth-beings came principally under the influence of two forces, one proceeding from the sun, the other from the moon. If man had come merely under the influence of the sun forces he would soon have grown old, almost as soon as he was born; whereas, under the influence of the moon alone he would have stiffened, become hard, and mummified. He could only develop rightly through the sun and the moon forces being balanced; he was placed upon the earth and, in a spiritual sense, beings and forces acted on him from outside in order that he might pass through his present evolution.

We have seen how man is led from incarnation to incarnation by the Beings we call Angels; but these Angels have no independence in the vast cosmos, they have higher directors who are the dwellers on the sun. Under the sole influence of these Sun Spirits all man's development would have been compressed into one incarnation; whereas under the influence of the moon alone nothing at all would have taken place. Through the co-operation of these two sets of Beings, that which gives man form he receives from the moon forces, that which destroys form and leads the eternal part of him through his various incarnations he receives from the sun. Thus if we do but consider it all spiritually we see that everything in the world has its appointed task.

We shall now consider for a short time somewhat more concretely what took place at that time upon the earth. We know that when man came over from the ancient Moon he possessed only his physical body, etheric body, and astral body. At the time of the separation of the sun the physical body had not progressed far enough for the sense organs to be able to perceive external objects. These had existed indeed from the time of Saturn, but man could not perceive external objects by them. Upon the ancient Moon man possessed organs which evoked pictures within him. The position at that time was approximately as follows. Imagine that one human being approached another, he could not have perceived the other's external form, but a kind of dream picture would rise within him; and by the form and colour of the picture he knew that an enemy drew near, and that he must flee from him. This was picture consciousness, and had a real relationship to the soul qualities of the Beings in a man's vicinity.

Objective consciousness only came to man gradually on earth. Though the sun as heavenly body was outside the earth, man could not at first see it, he perceived it only in pictures through an inner light. It is true that he did see in a certain sense, in a spiritually psychic way, the beneficial activities sent down to him by the Spirits of the Sun—he perceived these radiating in auric pictures, but they had nothing to do with present sense perception. Thus there was a time when the sun forces sent their light to man, although he could not see the external sun.

The separation of the moon from the earth took place somewhat later, and it was only at the stage of the moon's withdrawal that man was capable of acquiring the very first rudiments of an ego-consciousness, he only then began to feel himself as a separate being; with this came also the power to perceive the first faint loom of physical objects. You can easily understand that sight is connected with ego-consciousness, for as long as one cannot perceive an outer world one is not an ego. Therefore the first flash of ego-consciousness coincided with the first opening of man's eyes to external objects. This was connected also with the going forth of the moon. Previously, when the moon was still one with the earth, it directed the forces of growth of the individual between birth and death—it does so still, but now from outside. But in order that the life of man should not be shut in between birth and death, other forces had to approach him from outside; these were the sun forces. A continual interaction between the moon forces working from within, and the sun forces working from without, was associated with earthly development.

Try to picture vividly and exactly what happened next. So long as the sun was outside, but the moon still within the earth, man perceived the beneficial effect of the sun forces in inward pictures; he sensed the virtue of the sun forces, for these were always associated with the moon forces within the earth-body, and had an effect upon man's constitution although he could not see them. Then came the time when the moon also went forth from the earth. Man's senses were opened, and because of this he lost the power to perceive the soul and spirit part of the sun forces. Imagine the moment when Spiritual perception disappeared and the first beginnings of actual sight with an outer view of the sun began, although in fact man could not yet see the sun, for the earth was covered with dense vapour. As against his former dim clairvoyant perception, man was now able—if only gradually—to see the sun externally, although it was veiled by the density of the atmosphere. The beneficent effects of the sun were now withdrawn from man because of the advance in his development.

When the ancient Egyptian priests remembered this condition they gave the name of Osiris to the forces of the sun, those pure rays which man had perceived at one time through his dim clairvoyance. He now perceived Osiris no longer, and because of the cloudy envelope surrounding the earth external perception of the sun was not yet possible; what man had previously seen was dead. “Typhon the opposer had killed Osiris,” they said, and the forces which were active between birth and death, and as moon had left the earth, now sought that ancient Osiris with longing.

Slowly and gradually the mist receded—it had endured for very, very long periods, even down to the latter part of the Atlantean epoch; men now began to see the sun, but not as previously when all mankind had a common consciousness, the rays of the sun now fell on each individual eye when men gazed on the sun: “the dismembered Osiris.”

We are here concerned with a mighty cosmic event and when we were incarnated as ancient Egyptians we recognized a repetition of this cosmic event. The wise Egyptian priests had this in mind, and they described it pictorially as follows they said, “At the time the moon and the sun went forth from the earth man remained in the middle, balanced between the solar and lunar forces.” Up to that time there had been no sexual reproduction, there was what might be called virginal reproduction. The forces which ruled our earth passed over from the sign of the Virgin, through the Balance, into the sign of the Scorpion. Therefore the priests of Egypt said: “When the sun was in the sign of the Scorpion, and the earth in the Balance, his rays acted like a sting, stinging the sense organs to activity; thus Osiris was slain.” The emergence of external objectivity is the sting of the Scorpion, and came as something new; it was in contradistinction to the old virginal reproduction.

Then began the search, the longing of humanity for its ancient power, for the vision of Osiris.

We must not look merely for astronomical facts in such a myth as the myth of Osiris, but we must see in it the result of the deep clairvoyant insight of the wise priests of ancient Egypt. They embodied in this myth what they knew concerning the evolution of earth and man.

Actual facts concerning the higher Spiritual Worlds lie at the foundation of all myths, and today we have shown how such facts form the basis of the myth of Osiris.