Man and the World of Stars
III. Man's Relation to the World of Stars.
3 December 1922, Dornach
In the course of our present studies I should like it to become increasingly clear that man does not belong to the Earth alone, to Earth-existence alone, but also to the Cosmos, to the world of Stars. Much of what there is to say in this connection I have, as you know, already said. I want now to begin with a brief remark in order that misunderstandings may be avoided.
Anyone who speaks of man's connection with the world of the Stars is probably always liable to be accused of leanings towards the superficial form of Astrology that is so widely pursued nowadays. But if what is said on this subject is rightly understood, the immense difference will at once be apparent between what is meant here and the amateurish interpretations of ancient astrological traditions that are so common today.
When we say that man, between birth and death, is a being connected with the Earth and earthly happenings, what do we mean by this? We mean that man owes his existence between birth and death to the fact that, in the first place, he takes the substances of the Earth into his metabolic system as nourishment and digests them; further, that through his breathing, and through the inner processes connected with his breathing, he is related in still another way to the Earth — that is to say, to the atmosphere surrounding the the Earth. We also say that man perceives the outer things of the Earth by means of his senses, perceives indeed reflections of what is extra-terrestrial — reflections which are, however, of a much more earthly character than is generally supposed. So that in general one can say: Man partakes of earthly existence through his senses, through his rhythmic system, and through his metabolic system, and has within him the continuation of the processes set in operation through this Earth-existence itself.
But equally there takes place in man a continuation of cosmic, extra-terrestrial processes. Only it must not be supposed, when it is said that an influence from the Moon, or Venus, or Mars, is exercised upon man, that this is to be understood merely as if rays of light are sent down from Mars or Venus or the Moon, and permeate him. When, for instance, it is said that man is subject to the influence of the Moon, this must be taken as an analogy of what is meant by saying that man is subject to the influences of the substances of the Earth. When someone passes an apple-tree, let us say, picks an apple and eats it, it can be said that the apple-tree has an influence on him; but we should not construe this so literally as to say that the apple-tree had sent its rays towards him. Or, if you like, when a man passes a meadow where there is an ox, and a week afterwards eats its flesh, we shall not at once form the idea that the ox has exercised an influence upon him. Neither must we picture so literally what is said about the influence upon man of the world of the Stars. The relation of the world of the Stars to man and of man to the world of the Stars is for all that just as much a reality as the relation of the man to the ox he passes in the meadow and the flesh of which he afterwards eats.
Today I have to speak of certain connections which exist between man and the worlds both of Earth-existence and of extra-earthly existence. If we again turn our attention to how man lives in the alternating conditions of waking and sleeping, we must first be clear that it is in the waking state that his reciprocal relationship to earthly substances and earthly forces is actually established. During waking life he perceives through his senses; during sleep he does not. Moreover he eats and drinks only when awake — though possibly some people would like to do so in sleep as well! The breathing process and the process that is connected with the breathing, i.e. the circulation of the blood, as well as the other rhythmic processes — these alone continue in man both in the waking and sleeping states. But they differ in the two states. I will speak later of the difference there is between breathing during waking life and breathing during sleep. To begin with we will confine ourselves to the fact that man is related to the outer world during the waking state through his senses and through his metabolism. We will consider this at first in connection only with things that are common knowledge.
Let us then start from the fact that during his waking state man takes foodstuffs into himself from the outside world, inner activity being promoted by the process of digestion. But it must not be forgotten that while, in the waking state, after the food has been taken, inner physical and etheric activity proceeds under the influence of the intaken foodstuffs, this physical and etheric organism of man is permeated by his Ego-organization and astral body.
It is also the case that during the waking state, man's Ego and astral ‘being’ take command of what goes on in the physical and etheric bodies in connection with the process of nourishment. But what thus takes place under the influence of the Ego and astral being does not continue during sleep. During sleep the physical and etheric bodies of man are worked upon by forces that issue, not from the Earth but from the cosmic environment of the Earth — from the world of the Stars.
It might be said — and not in a figurative sense for it has real meaning — that by day man eats the substances of the Earth and by night takes into himself what the Stars and their activities give him. In a certain sense, therefore, man is bound up with the Earth while he is awake and removed from the Earth while he is asleep; heavenly processes take their course in his physical and etheric bodies during sleep.
Materialistic science thinks that when a man is asleep, the substances he has consumed simply activate their own forces in him, whereas in reality, whatever substances a man takes into himself are worked upon during his sleep by the cosmic forces in the environment of the Earth. Suppose, for instance, we consume white of egg — albumen. This albumen is only fettered to the Earth through the fact that during the waking state we are permeated by our soul and spirit — our astral body and Ego. During sleep this albumen is worked upon by the whole planetary system from Moon to Saturn, and by the world of the fixed Stars. And a chemist who wished to study the inner processes taking place in man during sleep would have not only to be versed in earthly chemistry but also in a spiritual chemistry, for the processes then are different from those that take their course during waking life.
The Ego and astral being of man are, as you know, separated from the physical and etheric bodies during sleep and are not directly related with the world of the Stars; but they are directly related with the Beings of whom the Sun, Moon and Stars are the physical mirror-images — namely, with the Beings of the Hierarchies. Man asleep is a duality; his Ego and astral body — I could equally well say, his spirit and soul — become subject to the spiritual Beings of the higher kingdoms of the Universe. His bodies, the physical and etheric bodies, are subject to the physical reflections, the cosmic-physical mirror-images of these higher Beings.
Aware of himself as an earthly being, man has become more and more a materialistic philistine under the influence of intellectualism. Almost as aptly as the modern age is called the epoch of intellectual and scientific progress, it could be called the epoch of materialistic philistinism. For man is not conscious that he is dependent on anything else than sense-impressions coming from the Earth, the rhythmic processes set going in him by earthly processes, the metabolic processes also occasioned in him by earthly conditions. Hence he does not know his real place in the Universe. The factors in operation here are of tremendous complexity. As soon as the veil that is spread before man in order that he may see only the sense-world and not the spiritual world behind it, is drawn aside, life becomes extraordinarily complex.
It is found to begin with that man is influenced not only by those Beings and their physical reflections, the Stars, which can be directly observed, but that within earthly existence itself, supersensible Beings akin to those of the world of Stars have so to speak set up their abode in the earthly realm.
You know that the people of the Old Testament worshipped Jehovah — who was an actual Being, connected with what manifests in the physical world as Moon. It is of course more or less a figure of speech to say that the Jehovah-Being has his dwelling in the Moon, but at the same time there is reality in the expression. Everything pertaining to this Jehovah-Being is connected with the Moon.
Now there are Beings who ‘scorned’ — if I may so express it — to make the journey to the Moon with the Jehovah-beings when the Moon separated from the Earth, and who remained in the earthly realm. So that in a way we can divine the existence of the true Jehovah-beings when we look at the Moon. We can say: that is the outer physical image of everything that participates in a regular way in the World Order in connection with the Being known as Jehovah. But when we learn to know what takes place inside the surface of the Earth — whether in the solid or the watery states — we find beings there who have disdained to make their home on the Moon, and have in an irregular way made the Earth their dwelling-place.
Now the Moon-beings, as I will call them, have helpers. These helpers belong to Mercury and Venus, just as the Moon-beings belong to the Moon. The Venus-beings, the Mercury-beings and the Moon-beings form a kind of trinity. The so-called regular beings of this kind in the Universe belong to these Stars. But both in the solid and the watery constituents of the Earth, we find beings belonging, it is true, to the same category, but — one might say — to a different epoch of time. They are beings who did not share in the Earth's cosmic evolution.
These beings have an influence upon sleeping man just as the regular cosmic beings have; but their influence is pernicious. I must characterize it by saying: when a man goes to sleep, then in the condition between falling asleep and waking, these irregular Moon, Venus and Mercury-beings approach him and set about persuading him that evil is good and good evil. All this takes place in man's unconscious condition, between going to sleep and waking.
It is a shattering experience connected with initiation that beyond the threshold of ordinary consciousness things by no means without danger to humanity are encountered. People holding the materialistic view of life have no idea to what man is exposed between going to sleep and waking. He is actually exposed to these beings who persuade him in his sleeping state that good is evil, and evil good. The moral order on Earth is bound up with the human etheric body, and when man sleeps, he leaves his moral achievements behind him on the bed. He does not pass over into the state of sleep armed with his moral qualities.
Natural Science today is everywhere touching the fringe of things which need to be explained by Spiritual Science. You may recently have seen in the newspapers some interesting and thoroughly well-founded statistics. It was stated that criminals in the prisons have been found to have the soundest sleep of all. Really hardened criminals are never tormented during their sleep by bad dreams or the like. This only happens when they dip down again into their etheric bodies, for it is there that the moral qualities lie. It can much more easily happen to one who is striving to be moral, that through the constitution of his etheric body, he carries over something into his astral body and is then tormented by dreams as the result of comparatively trifling moral lapses. But generally speaking it is a fact that man does not carry over at all, or only to a very slight extent, the moral constitution he acquires during earthly existence but is exposed during sleep to the beings just referred to.
These beings are identical with those I have always designated as Ahrimanic. They set themselves the task of keeping man on the Earth by every possible means. You know from the book Occult Science that the Earth will one day pass over into the Jupiter condition. That is what these beings want to prevent. They want to prevent man from developing in a regular way together with the Earth and then passing over into the Jupiter condition in a normal way. They want to preserve the Earth as Earth and mankind for the Earth. Hence these beings work unceasingly and with great intensity to achieve the following. — You must remember that these are things that take place behind the scenes of existence — real processes that have been going on ever since there has been a human race on the Earth. — Man passes into the state of sleep in his Ego-being and astral-being. These Moon, Venus and Mercury-beings who are living unlawfully on the Earth, now endeavor to give man an etheric body composed of the Earth's ether whenever he is asleep. They hardly ever succeed. In rare cases of which I will speak at some later time, they have succeeded; but this hardly ever happens. Still they do not give up the attempt for over and over again it seems to them that their efforts might succeed, that they might surround, permeate a man while he is asleep and has left his etheric body behind, with another etheric body built up from the Earth's ether. That is what these beings desire.
If an Ahrimanic being of this category were actually to succeed in bringing a complete etheric body stage by stage into a man every time he slept, such a man would be able after death, when living in his etheric body, to maintain himself in that body. Otherwise, as you know, the etheric body dissolves in a few days. But a man to whom the above had happened would be able to continue existing in his etheric body and after a time there would arise a race of etheric humanity. That is what is desired from this side of the spiritual world, and then it would be possible by such means to preserve the Earth.
Within the solid and the fluid components of the Earth there are in very truth a host of such beings. Their desire is to make mankind into pure phantoms, etheric phantoms, until the end of the Earth's evolution, so that the normal goal of Earth-evolution could not be attained. And in the night-time these beings by no means lose courage; over and over again they believe that their efforts may succeed.
Now man today has quite a passably good intellect which has developed considerably at the present time when philistinism is on the increase. Man can certainly pride himself upon possessing intellect. But this intellect is not even remotely on a par with the intellect of those higher beings who desire to achieve what I am now describing to you. Let nobody say: ‘These beings must be fearfully stupid.’ They are certainly not stupid. Seeing that they work only upon human beings in sleep, there is nothing to deter them from believing that they might succeed before the end of Earth-evolution in preventing a large portion of the human race from reaching their future destinations — destinations bound up with the Jupiter embodiment of the Earth.
But one who is able to see behind the scenes of physical existence can perceive that these beings do sometimes lose courage, are disappointed. And the disappointments they experience are not experienced in the night, but by day. One sees, for instance, how these Ahrimanic beings suffer disappointments if one comes across them in hospitals.
Now of course the illnesses that befall men have one aspect that calls upon us in all circumstances to do everything we possibly can to heal them. But on the other side we must ask: how do the illnesses suffered by men arise out of the dark sources of natural existence?
Those illnesses which are not the result of external influences but arise out of the inner constitution of man, are connected with the fact that when the Ahrimanic beings have almost succeeded in making a man assume an etheric body that is not his normal one, then, instead of bringing the lawful working of the etheric forces into his physical body and into his own accustomed etheric body on waking, such a man bears into himself causes of illness. Through these causes of illness the true Venus, Mercury and Moon-beings protect themselves against the harmful influences of the irregular beings. Indeed if a man did not at some time or another get this or that illness, he would be liable to the danger of which I have just spoken. In any illness his body breaks down, collapses, in order that there can be ‘sweated out,’ if I may use the expression, whatever irregular etheric processes he has taken into himself through the Ahrimanic influences.
And a further reaction called forth in order to prevent man from falling a victim to this Ahrimanic influence, is the possibility of error. And a third thing is egoism. Man is not fundamentally intended to be ill, to fall a prey to error, or to be egoistic to an exaggerated degree. Egoism as such is again a means of holding man to the evolution proper to the Earth instead of being torn out of it by the Ahrimanic beings. This, then, is one order of beings which can be discovered behind the scenes of ordinary sense-existence.
One can form an idea of another order of beings by knowing that not only Moon, Mercury, and Venus have an influence upon man but that an influence is also exercised from beyond the Sun — from Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
You know from the lectures I gave in the so-called ‘French Course’ NoteNumPrinted under the title: Philosophy, Cosmology and Religion. An abbreviated version of ten lectures given by Dr. Steiner in Dornach, 6th-15th September, 1922. that the Moon is the physical reflection of those beings who bring man into the physical world. Saturn is the physical reflection of those beings who bear him again out of the physical world. The Moon draws man down to the Earth; Saturn draws him again into the Universe and then into the spiritual world.
Just as the Jehovah-Moon-God has Venus and Mercury-beings as helpers, so Saturn has Jupiter and Mars-beings as helpers in bearing man into the Cosmos and into the spiritual worlds. These influences and the influences connected with the Moon-beings work upon man in exactly the opposite way.
The influences of Moon, Venus, and Mercury upon us are predominant until our 17th or 18th years. Then later on, when we have passed our 20th or 21st year, an influence from Mars, Jupiter and Saturn becomes particularly active; only in later years does this come to the point of leading us out of earthly existence into the spiritual world. The inner constitution of man is, in fact, dependent upon this transition, as one might say, from the inner planets to the outer planets. Until our 17th or 18th years, we are dependent, for instance, upon the major blood-circulation which affects the whole body. Later in life we are dependent upon the minor blood-circulation — but these are matters which must be left for future lectures. At the moment we must pay attention to the fact that just as the irregular beings of Moon, Venus, and Mercury have their habitations in the solid and fluidic components of the Earth, so the irregular beings of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have the conditions for their existence — or, to speak pictorially, their habitations — in the warmth and in the air surrounding the Earth.
These beings have a great influence upon man during his sleeping state. But their influence works in exactly the opposite direction. The aim of these beings is to make man into a moral automaton — if I may so express it — into a moral automaton of such a nature that in his waking state he would not listen to his own instincts, his desires, or the voice of his blood, but would spurn all this and hearken only to the inspiration of these irregular Mars-, Jupiter-, and Saturn-beings. He would then become a moral automaton, without any prospect of a future state of freedom. That, then, is what these beings desire; and their influence too is strong, exceedingly strong. It is they who every night want to induce man to take the influence of the world of Stars into himself and never again the influence of the Earth. They would fain carry man right away from earthly existence. They desire — and have desired this ever since the human race first arose on the Earth — that man shall spurn the Earth, that he shall not awaken to freedom on the Earth — where alone this is possible. They desire that he shall remain a moral automaton as he was in the preceding metamorphosis of the Earth, in the Old Moon.
And in the middle, between these two hosts, of which the one sets its camp in the element of warmth and that of air, and the other in the elements of earth and of water — between these two opposing cosmic hosts stands Man. Life in his physical body conceals from him the fact that a fierce battle is waged in the Cosmos for possession of his being.
Today man must consciously find his way to such knowledge for it concerns him deeply and essentially. His very existence as a human being is constituted by the fact that forces are everywhere active around him, forces from the spiritual world. It is important for man today to have knowledge of his real position in the Universe.
A time will come when people will be far more justified in holding a poor opinion of our dark, materialistic knowledge compared with what will be known in the future about the spiritual reality behind the physical, than we are justified in saying that the scientific knowledge possessed by the Greeks was puerile, that they were mere children, whereas we have made splendid progress! In philistinism we certainly have made splendid progress and we shall have much more right to criticise when we can speak with full knowledge of this battle that is waging on the Earth for possession of man's being.
There are signs that a knowledge of these things must begin to spread in our time. It is certainly true that what I have told you today about the battle of the Ahrimanic and Luciferic beings in the Cosmos for the being of man is still hidden from the majority of people in the dark recesses of their inner nature. But these battles are now beginning to send their waves into that realm of existence of which men are clearly conscious. And today, if we are not to lead a sleepy existence in our civilization, we must know how to recognize the first waves that beat in upon us from those regions of the spiritual world which I have just characterized.
These two hosts — the Luciferic in the warmth and airy element of the Earth, the Ahrimanic in the solid and watery — these two hosts send their waves into our cultural life today. The Luciferic hosts are making their influence felt above all in outworn theology. In our cultural life, as an outflow of this Luciferic power, we encounter statements endeavoring to make Christ into a myth. The Christ descended to the Earth through the Mystery of Golgotha as a real Being, and that is naturally a truth that cuts right across the intentions of the beings who would like to make man into a moral automaton, without freedom. Therefore: Do away with the reality of Christ. Christ is a myth! You can discover in the literature of the 19th century, how clever and ingenious were the hypotheses of theologians like David Frederic Strauss, Kalthoff and those who merely echoed them, or better said, apish babblers like Arthur Drews! Everywhere the view is advanced that Christ is a mythological figure, a mere picture which has impressed itself upon man's imagination. — There will be many more attacks from these hosts — but this is the first.
The first waves coming from the Ahrimanic host in the solid and watery elements of the Earth press home the opposite view. In this case, Christ is denied and validity allowed only to the ‘simple man of Nazareth,’ to Jesus as the physical personality. Here again is a tit-bit presented by theology!
Making Christ into a myth — a purely Luciferic activity. Making the One who went through the Mystery of Golgotha into a mere man — even if endowed with every possible quality — a purely Ahrimanic activity. This, however, does not succeed at all easily, for the many testimonies and traditions have to be eliminated before producing this ‘simple man of Nazareth.’ Nevertheless this other tit-bit of theology is evidence of the onrush of the Ahrimanic breakers into human culture.
If these things are to be rightly assessed we must be able also to detect them behind the scenes of our ordinary existence on Earth. Otherwise, if men are not willing to turn their attention to what can be said today out of the spiritual world, they will become less and less able to judge such phenomena correctly, and these phenomena will then take effect in the sub-consciousness. It will become increasingly dangerous for men to surrender to the subconscious. Clear, thoughtful observation of what actually exists — a feeling for reality — that is the growing need of humanity.
Perhaps we can trace most definitely where this clear thoughtfulness, this sense of reality, must be applied, when we perceive the increase of such extraordinary phenomena as the theology which on the one hand denies Christ, and on the other hand makes Christ a myth. Such phenomena will become more and more prevalent, and if they are not to lead to corruption, humanity must acquire a clear, unswerving perception of the spiritual influences that are exercised upon the physical world, and particularly upon man himself.
I told you once before of the two men who found a piece of iron bent into a certain shape. The one said: “A good horse-shoe! I will shoe my horse with it.” The other said: “Not at all. It is a magnet and can be used for quite different purposes than shoeing a horse!” “I see nothing like a magnet about it,” said the other man. “You are crazy to say that there are invisible magnetic forces in it. It's a horse-shoe — that's its use!”
This is rather like the people today who are not willing to receive the knowledge that comes from the spiritual world. They want to “shoe horses” with everything in the world — if I may so express myself — because they will not acknowledge the reality of the supersensible forces. They want to shoe horses — not to make anything in which the magnetic forces are put to use. There was once a time — nor does it lie very far behind us — when a piece of iron so shaped would have been used for the shoeing of horses. But today this is no longer possible.
A time will come when in ordinary social life too, men will need what can be communicated from the spiritual world. Of this we must be mindful, and then Anthroposophy will penetrate not only into the intellect — that is of less importance — but above all into the will — and that is of great importance. Upon this we will ponder more and more deeply.