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Knowledge of Soul and Spirit
GA 56

XII. Sun, Moon and Stars

26 March 1908, Berlin

Tips to the close coherence of the human being with the physical life appear repeatedly. If we find such hints in scientific writings about variations of the grain prices within certain periods and one points in this regard to the changes of the glaciers or of the water gauge of the Caspian Sea, it seems at first sight that one could not relate these things seriously. However, always-new relations as well as also their confirmations are found. One will still be able to ascertain many facts and some mistakes will have to be eliminated, but science has furnished evidence for the mysterious interaction. Many such events relate to the activity of the sun, among other things also to the increasing and decreasing number and size of the solar spots. Their maxima and minima appear with a certain regularity. After about 11 1/9 years, such a maximum can be determined in each case. Furthermore a comparison of the observations which have been done up to now shows that, perhaps, one could also calculate on a period of twenty-two and a half years.

One cannot deny changes of the climatic conditions, caused by the activity of the solar spots. It seems that a maximum of the solar spots causes a decreased heat emission of the sun, which causes big changes then in nature. Thus, for example, the good wine years followed themselves in indeed varying distances of eleven years. How the 35-year period of Brückner's (Eduard B., 1862–1927, geographer, meteorologist, glaciologist and climate scientist) climate variations relate to it, is not yet determined scientifically.

Science also relates the ice ages—it assumes four of these immense changes of the face of the earth—to the solar activity and the position of the earth's axis. Thus, the wholly mechanical thinking relates the events on the sun to the earth evolution. In other times, one regarded these matters in another way which science discounts with its feeling of superior wisdom.

However, what we must feel if we see how one of the greatest scholars and such a careful thinker like Aristotle speaks of the fact that according to ancient doctrines the stars are gods. All remaining that folk lore tells about the gods is worthless and added by the people. Aristotle expressed himself with care concerning this doctrine, but he treats it as something that one must face with esteem and reverence.

Such an echo of ancient wisdom on which the modern naturalist looks down with a shrug has also survived in astrology in mutilated, brainless way, however, it leads still back to the old wisdom of humanity. It is not easy to make clear what such old wisdom contains. Today the human being regards the stars and the earth as wholly physical bodies wandering through the space. He says that it was a childish idea to think that the other world bodies could signify anything for the human destinies. At that time, one felt just different if one compared the human being with the remaining world. One did not think of bones, muscles and senses, but of the feelings and sensations that lived in him. The stars were to him the bodies of spiritual-divine beings, and he felt penetrated by their spirit.

Whereas today the human being recognises that mechanical forces are effective in the solar system, at that time he saw mental-spiritual forces working from star to star. The great initiates taught not wholly mathematical forces, but effects based on wholly spiritual forces from star to star.

It is quite comprehensible that this world feeling has changed in our materialistically coloured worldview, but only someone who believes that the view of the last fifty years is valid for good, can close his heart against the idea of that which lived in the not materialistic but spiritual experience of the world. This also applies to the view, which puts the earth in the centre of creation.

In the context with the existence of Christ on earth one explains that this earth is only a grain of sand among the other stars and, hence, nobody can assume who is not prejudiced in terrible hubris that just to this unimportant earth a divine being descended. Not from nothing, this change took place. At that time, the human beings raised their eyes to absorb the spiritual content of the space, and were not yet far advanced concerning the control of the physical space. With the emergence of the materialistic worldview, the physical world has been conquered most extensively. We do not want to criticise, but to understand how this change took place. It was initiated for a long time, but just in the 19th century, it made miraculous advances.

The modern worldview faces us crystal clear in Kant and his followers. The picture that they made of the origin of the solar system is known in general: in order to illustrate the formation of a heavenly body, one pours a drop of oil in some water in a vessel. One brings it in a rotary movement. Smaller and bigger spherical parts thereby separate. As well as here these oil particles, the worlds went adrift from the primeval nebula.

I only need to mention that in the 19th century the admirable advances of the natural sciences and astronomy corrected the worldview of Kant and Laplace and continued it in changed form, however, the main features remained the same. The great discovery by Kirchhoff (Gustav Robert K., 1824–1887, German physicist) and Bunsen (Robert B., 1811–1899, German chemist), the spectral analysis, also seems to confirm this, while they could detect a big number of those mineral materials that compose our earth on the other heavenly bodies. On the sun itself, one has detected more than two thirds of all known elements. It is very typical and more significant that one of the best experts of this worldview (Simon Newcomb, 1835–1912, Canadian astronomer) pronounced the sentence: if one pursues the figure of the world edifice, it turns out that the primeval nebula formed with a necessity similar to that of a functioning clock, which shows that one has winded up it once.

You can visualise the emergence of the world body by that experiment. However, the logical thinking demands to think all things to an end. Then it turns out that one has forgotten something, namely just the most important by which the globules separate. By the movement that the experimentalist carries out! However, one forgets him applying the results of this experiment to the hypothesis of the emergence of the heavenly body. One completely ignores this “trifle” with the worldview proven this way. One wants to know nothing about the experimentalist. Without being opponent of modern natural sciences, you can put this question to yourselves.

One can completely stand on the ground of scientific thinking without forgetting the uncomfortable experimentalist. He is the spirit who stands behind everything, the sum of the spiritual beings who reveal their nature in the phenomena of the sense-perceptible world, as the results of exact research of spiritual science can show them. Spiritual science does not need to deny anything that modern science has investigated. It admits its results completely, as far as these are obtained by strict and objective observation, experimentation and thinking. It recognises the necessity of such, only to the sense-perceptible world directed research. However, it also knows that the time has come where humanity must be pointed to the fact that the spirit is the reason of all matter and that the matter is the external expression of the spiritual beings.

Spiritual science looks not only at the mechanical processes of attraction and repulsion; it examines which spiritual forces correspond to them. In order to gain a living picture of the plant according to its method at first, one has to proceed as follows:

The plant turns its root downward, its stalk upwards. We see two forces active, one of which assigns itself to the centre of the earth whereas the second tries to wrest the plant from the earth's tentacles. Someone who does not look at the plant only with the outer eye realises how root and blossom show the expression of both forces. Supersensible forces of attraction and repulsion are active here. The former ones come from the earth, while the other forces shine down from the sun. If the plant only faced the solar forces, its development would happen very fast, it would develop leaf by leaf and atrophy, if the other force were absent, the restraining force working from the earth.

Thus, the plant becomes the result, the expression of the forces of sun and earth. We do no longer regard it as a separated thing. It appears as a being that is a member of the entire earth organism, as the hair is a part of the human organism. The earth becomes a living entity, a manifestation of the living, of the spiritual, as the human being is the expression of soul and spirit.

The animal is more independent, not as plant and hair only a part of an organism. It owes its partial independence that the animal soul ensouls it. This is, in contrast to the human soul that is an individual soul, a group soul. The animal is its revelation and relates to it like the finger to the entire organism. The animal is thereby less tied to the earth organism.

In order to understand this, one must think that the spiritual research recognises the forces of attraction and repulsion as the earthly images of that which corresponds in the spiritual to these forces causing the planetary motions, which the Kant-Laplace worldview knows, with all its later modifications and additions, like gravity. These as well as its consequences arise as facts of the sensuous observation of the things. Their spiritual prototype that causes and carries the physically discernible appearance is also a fact, which arises as a result to the exact spiritual research. The animal group souls orbit their planets, and thereby the animal realm is independent from the planet. Any planet has its plant realm in common with the solar system with which it is connected. However, any planet has its own orbital forces and thereby its own animal realm, as far as it is able to have the animal realm.

If one looks at the human being now, one must draw the attention to a fact that is deeply significant. As an embryo, the human being is subject to the lunar influence. The human embryo needs ten lunar months for its development. Lunar forces control it, as long as the human being does not yet appear as an independent being. The creative plant forces that press forward to the blossom and fruit are solar forces. The human body depends on the moon as far as it concerns its form. These formative forces relate to the solar forces in a certain way. Sun and moon form the contrast of life and form necessary for the human development. If only the persisting lunar forces were effective, any other development would be excluded and a kind of lignification would take place, while the solar forces solely would lead to combustion. The light that shines from the moon is not only reflected sunlight, but it contains formative forces. The sunlight is not only light, but forces of light, of too intense light, so that the human being would be immediately very old after his birth [if he were exposed to it only]. The human form is the result of the moon, his life that of the sun.

The spectral analysis can recognise the mineral-chemical compounds of the sun, not the spiritual forces of vitality, which flow down to the earth. With the help of the telescope, one sees the moon only as stiffened heavenly body, not the formative spiritual force. In the sun, the physical researcher recognises glowing gas masses, flooding movement, metals surging up and down, solar spots and protuberances, but not the body of a spiritual being, the regent of the processes of life. This is a chapter of a new research that only starts developing and has to conquer field by field only. Nevertheless, these things are of the highest significance.

Goethe is one of the first modern naturalists who saw more than only mechanical-physical processes in the light without receiving acknowledgement. Already years ago, on the occasion of a birthday celebration of Goethe I pointed to the fact that Schopenhauer deplored bitterly that those who celebrated Goethe did very wrong by him concerning his theory of colours. The scholars speak only reluctantly about that. For the physicist it is more a nice, poetic but impossible thought compared to the wholly physical theory of colours. However, spiritual science stands completely different towards that. If once the time is ripe to understand Goethe's theory of colours properly, one will also realise that the light consists not only of seven basic colours, of material oscillations, but that behind the earthly light life is flowing down from the sun. Then one also understands what Goethe meant if he says of the rainbow colours that they are deeds of the light.

From the stars, from the sun and moon flow not only light beams, but spiritual life streams down to us. As long as one only sees the physical light, one cannot understand this, because one can guess the spiritual only with artistic imagination, can experience it in the sensuous-extrasensory beholding as a picture by spiritual research.

The human being is a multi-membered being. If he sleeps, only his physical and etheric bodies rest in the bed. The astral body with the ego separates from the lower members and lifts out itself in the spiritual world. It receives forces, more elated ones than the human being gets from the sun and moon during the day.

Because the astral body is integrated in the much lighter substantiality of the astral world, the stars can influence it stronger. As in the wake state the physical forces work on the physical body, the stars work on the astral body now, because the human being is born out of the universe, by the same universal spirit as the starry sky.

If we raise the eyes to the sun, moon and stars that way, we can understand which forces work there, get to know the spiritual in the universe.

We cannot guess a manlike universal God, however, we can guess the spiritual forces behind the universal nebula and realise only in which way the worlds originate. We start experiencing the forces of leading beings behind the working forces.

Schiller thought also that way calling to the astronomers who investigate the physical stars only: “Do not chat so much to me about nebulae and suns! Is nature only great, because she gives you to count them? True, your object is the most elated one in space; but—friends—the elated does not live in space.”

If we look only at the outer forces, we do not find the elated. However, if we search the spiritual, and return from the immense universe to ourselves, we are able to see a drop of the spiritual life in ourselves that flows through the space.

If we face the heavenly bodies with such attitude, we understand Goethe's word better: oh, what they would be, the countless millions of suns, if they did not reflect themselves in the human eye and did not delight a human heart at last?

It could sound presumptuous, and, nevertheless, it is modest if we understand it properly. If we look up at the sun from which life streams go out it works so powerfully that we could not stand them if the lunar forces did not paralyse them. Thus, we see the spirit in the universe; however, we know that we have organs with which we can perceive the spirit in the universe. Then we let it reflect in the organs as the sun is reflected to which we can also not see directly, but its shine is reflected in the waterfall, as well as it is expressed in Goethe's words where he lets Faust say, after he has led back him again to the life on earth:

I am content to have the sun behind me.
The cataract there storming through the cliff—
the more I watch it, the more is my delight.
From fall to fall it swirls, gushing forth
in streams that soon are many, many more,
into the air all loudly tossing spray and foam.
But see how, rising from this turbulence,
the rainbow forms its changing-unchanged arch,
now clearly drawn, now evanescent,
and casts cool, fragrant showers all about it.
Of human striving it's a perfect symbol—
ponder this well to understand more clearly
that what we have as life is many-hued reflection.

(Faust II, Verses 4715–4727)