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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Christian Mystery
GA 97

XXIX. Precious Stones and Metals and their Relationship to the Evolution of Earth and Man

13 October 1906, Leipzig

On an earlier occasion I spoke of the powers that lie dormant in every human being, powers that can be developed and raise man to a higher level of existence. 209See lectures given in Leipzig in June and July 1906, in Kosmogonie (GA 94), Engl, as ‘Extracts of 12 lectures, Leipzig 28 June–10 July 1906’ in Anthroposophical News Sheet 1946; vol. 14, 39-50. Just as the physical world is perceived with physical organs, so can the higher world be perceived with higher organs. At the time I spoke of the means, though only in a fragmentary way, by which human beings can gain higher vision. To take us forward to our theme, let us today consider certain means that are used in inner training.

New instructions have to be followed at every level. The things we are going to talk about today will not be sufficient on their own, but they are part of the process. One instruction given to prospective pupils is that one should develop a particular approach to the higher world, a moral approach. As a first step, we have to realize that just as we are sentient, so are animals sentient. But whilst people have individual souls, genera of animals have group souls. All lions, all sharks, all frogs and so on have a common soul. To put it another way: Whilst humans have their souls as an inner principle animal souls, with soul threads linking them, as it were, extend into the astral world. If you hurt a person, he alone feels the hurt. But if you hurt a lion, the group soul feels it, and this does not live on the physical but in the astral plan.

The aim of training is to find an approach, a feeling relationship to the animal souls on the astral plan. Let me give you an example. In some regions, the ancient Germans venerated the horse. They would put a horse skull at the top of their houses as a symbol. The choice of symbol shows that they had a specific relationship to the horse. Where did this originate? The horse only came into existence at a particular time. This animal genus evolved in the mid-Atlantean period, bit by bit, of course. This coincided with the evolution of cleverness. People may not have been clear in their minds about it, but they felt attracted to the horse the way a lover does to his lass. Arabs have a special relationship to their horses to this day. Mythology can give us some pointers. Thus clever Ulysses thought up a wooden horse. In this sense human beings will develop a feeling for the generic souls of different animals. When this comes to their conscious awareness, the relationship to the astral plan begins to open up.

It is also possible to develop a moral relationship to the plant world in this way. An occultist sees not only the beauty of a plant but senses something of a smiling or a sad face. You gain much from such moral feelings. If you develop such a moral relationship you enter into a relationship with the lower region of the devachan plan.

We can also develop a sensitivity for the dead mineral world. Rocks have a group soul on the devachan plan just as animals have a group soul on the astral plan. The souls of minerals live in the devachan, which is why human beings cannot reach them. Just as a fly running across my hand does not know there is a soul behind it, so do human beings not know that rocks have soul.

Now if stones have souls, you will also see that it is possible to have a moral relationship to them. A human, an animal body has desires, passions and drives. The plant body no longer has desires but it still has drives. The rock body has neither desire nor drive and thus is an ideal for us human beings, the ideal of letting our drives be made spiritual. This will be achieved in the far distant future for humanity. Human beings will then have bodies free from desires or drives. They will be diamond-like, no longer having inner drives, for these will then be controlled from outside.

A rock has this chastity today; it is matter free from desire. The occult pupil must develop such chastity here and now. In this sense, a stone is above animal, plant and man. An ancient Rosicrucian formulation begins with the words: ‘I have put the eternal creator word into the stone.’ Being chaste and virginal, the stone preserves this creator word in the depths of physical existence.

If we are able to enhance this inner response to the stone and make it a spiritual experience, we become clairvoyant in the highest parts of the devachan.

Let me now characterize the mineral world from another point of view. Let us go back to Atlantean times in earth evolution, such as we know it. The atmosphere was full of water vapour. Atlanteans also looked very different from present-day human beings. Even further back in time, on the Lemurian continent, where the temperature was extremely high, human beings were semi-aquatic creatures. All the minerals were also in a different state then. Lead could not possibly be solid then. There was also a time when gold was not yet a solid; this was when sun and earth were still one. When the earth separated from the sun, traces of this more subtle matter were still apparent. It coagulated, like all metals, and then existed as veins of gold in the rocks. Going back still further, we come to the time when precious stones coagulated. At that time coal was still transparent, existing in the form of diamonds. Physical conditions at that early time made this possible. Carnelian came into existence at another time, topaz at yet another time.

Now you need to remember that the human being had a soul at that time, but as yet no physical body. The condition of the earth was such in early times that it would have been quite impossible for a physical body to inhabit it. Human beings only had an ether body at that time. At a particular time, the potential for eyes developed in this ether body. The physical eye was only developed later by means of the ether body. All other organs were first differentiated and created out of the ether body. Every such ether organ development was triggered by desire. The astral body desired to perceive something, to see; it therefore acted on the ether body and out of this created the ether eye; the physical eye only differentiated out later. The etheric counter image arose in the mineral world, and this desire-free counter image is the chrysolite (olivine). Thus there truly is a close link between human vision and chrysolite. Occultists will therefore use stones for specific purposes. They are sentient of a sympathy that exists between vision and chrysolite and know how the stone may be used to influence some eye conditions.

The potential organ of hearing developed earlier than that of vision. In the mineral world, the idea of hearing arose chastely in the onyx. The sense of hearing is most closely related to matter in its purest form. Where sound waves move through space, the most subtle sound ether is present, also known as numbers ether or chemical ether. Other ethers are the warmth, light and life ethers. The subtle sound ether gave rise to the development of hearing and of the potential for the onyx. Let me remind you of the old man with the lamp in Goethe's Tale of the Green Serpent. His lamp changed all wood into silver, dead animals into precious stones, the dead pug dog into an onyx.

Carnelian developed with the sense of touch, topaz with the sense of taste, jasper with the sense of smell, beryllium came as the rational mind evolved, and the carbuncle stone when man grew able to form ideas based on images. There is a beautiful legend 210Interpretation of the grail found in Albrecht von Scharfenberg's ‘Jüngerer Titure’. See Uehli, Ernst, Eine neue Gralssuche S. 6 & 248; Stuttgart 1921. about Lucifer losing a precious stone from his diadem when cast down from the heavens—the carbuncle. It is indeed true that this precious stone evolved at the same time as the human ability to form ideas awoke, first of all in images.

The emerald evolved together with the solar plexus, which has to do with the involuntary, unconscious movements in the human body. The potential for the diamond arose at the earliest stage of evolution, when the first beginnings of the human physical body developed. You see how deep relationships go in the world. This is not superstition but wisdom.

Let me give you two facts from the rich field of occult studies. You know that some unions are on the moderate side. One particularly moderate group represents a trade—the printers. The editor of their journal was actually dismissed because he was very moderate. In the printing industry, workers and principals first met. People have no idea of how much they depend on their environment. Printers work with lead—which attacks more than just the lungs—and this affects the soul sphere, creating a particularly sober attitude to life.

Another example. I met someone who eventually became a good theosophist. A particular ability he had caused him concern. He publishes a journal and is able to find analogies quickly. A scholar looking for such analogies may well sit for months and not get anywhere. This person found what he wanted by just picking a book from his bookcase. His thinking had grown so independent that the physical brain no longer impeded it. This does, of course, also hold great dangers. ‘Where do I get this from?’ he asked me. I told him that he might possibly have a lot of contact with copper. And that was indeed the case. He was playing the French horn, an instrument that also contains copper. This was sufficient to produce such a powerful effect. You can see from this that everything in the world around us has a profound influence on the human being, and this is how metals and precious stones relate to the nature of the human being.

Questions and answers

(Question not taken down.)

Looking at plants with an artist's eye the situation is that this does indeed first of all have an effect on the astral body, whilst occult vision influences the ether body. An artist may well get in touch with the archetypes for many of his works, be they sculptures, paintings or melodies; you meet them consciously on the devachan plan.

What is gold?

When earth and sun were still a single mass and still wholly pure ether, everything was dissolved, and the degree of subtlety was like that of sunlight. Minerals could not coagulate then. It was only after the sun had departed and some of the pure sunlight had remained with the earth that this condensed into gold in the earth's veins. Gold is condensed sunbeam and directly connected with the sun.

Sapphire corresponds to the feet in humans. The feet are much more important than is usually thought. There was a time when the feet still had the ability to hold fast by means of a kind of suction, similar to the way a fly does it.

Opal corresponds more to a region from which the lung, too, has evolved.

Ruby has to do with the 'higher organ of the brain', as it is called, the organ of intuition.

Iron causes some excitation of sensual nature in man. When the earth met with Mars, this quality also entered into the blood. An occultist does not like to touch objects made of pure iron.

Question concerning Edward Bulwer's novel The Coming Race 211Bulwer-Lytton, Edward George, 1st Baron (1803–73). The Coming Race published in 1870. Was translated into German at the suggestion of Rudolf Steiner and Giinther Wachsmuth.

Everything that has existed on earth before will return. The vril power is based on something special. Today people can really only make use of the powers that lie in mineral nature. Gravity is mineral, electricity is mineral by nature. We are able to run railways thanks to coal. Something human beings are not yet able to use is the power that lies in plants. The power that makes the tall stems of wheat grow in a field is as yet a latent power. Human beings will make it serve their aims just as they do the energy of coal. And this is vril. It is the power fakirs use, and they live in an atavistic way—characteristic of the ancestral state.

Was Goethe an initiate?

Goethe's initiation took place between the time he lived in Leipzig (1765–1768) and his time in Strasbourg (1770–1771), at a time when he was close to death. He was not conscious of the fact, however. He only became aware of it in 1795. It had come up again in him as early as 1794, but only vaguely. At a moment of enlightenment he then wrote his poem Die Geheimnisse (the secrets), which has remained a fragment. He only truly revealed his beliefs in his Tale of the Green Serpent and the Beautiful Lily. His initiation on the physical plan was done by a particular individual.