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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Nature and Spirit Beings
Their Effects in Our Visible World
GA 98

Part II

VII. The Influence of Other Worlds on the Earth I

8 February 1908, Stuttgart

Today, we want to look at some details of the occult world. Some of what will be said today will build on the observations we made last time. Some of it is meant to broaden your perspective in the direction we headed the last time, allowing us to see more and more how the space around us is alive and spiritualised by supersensible facts and supersensible beings.

Last time, 1In the lecture dated 7 December 1907, GA98-02-03—The relation of the Human Being to Nature. we observed how the different realms of nature that surround us—the mineral, the plant, and the animal kingdom—contain beings who we can call group-Egos. We have explained how underlying the animal world are group-Egos, self-contained individualities, or, one could say, personalities, who can be found on the astral plane and how they, as it were, encircle the Earth.

We have seen how the plant-Egos are located in the centre of the Earth. We did not name a particular location where the group-Egos of the minerals are located, as they reside in the higher regions of Devachan.

From this you will have seen that beings are constantly around us, through which we walk all the time, who penetrate us, and who live in the same space as we do. For example, an animal group-soul that belongs to a whole group of similarly shaped animals is able to pass through us. This is because in the astral the principle of penetration, of permeability, holds sway, in contrast to our physical world where the principle of impermeability prevails.

First, I would like to add a note in order to expand on what was said before. Previously, you have seen that we have to think of a plant’s root as its head stuck in the ground; then the stem grows out of it and develops leaf by leaf, and so on. Depicted schematically, we would have to search for the group-Egos at the centre of the Earth. What we see with our eyes is the plant’s physical body. This is embedded into what we call the etheric body of the plant. What is the characteristic of the plant’s etheric body? Everything we know as the etheric body has, as a characteristic, the property of repetition. Where the etheric body as such is active, the principle of repetition rules. We see how in the plant, growth leaf by leaf is repeated. Why? Because underlying this repetition is the power of the etheric body. In a human being too, this principle of the etheric body holds sway. For example, we find it in the spinal cord, where it attaches itself ring by ring. Indeed, when the clairvoyant observes the plant in its entirety, he sees the etheric body underlying the whole plant, but above it, the plant is enveloped by astral clouds. Thus, we see the physical body of a plant, which consists of roots, leaves, and so on, saturated by the etheric body and surrounded from above by a kind of glow-light, or astral light. And the astral that works on the plant produces its completion in blossom and fruit. If the etheric body only had an effect, then the plant would endlessly unfold leaf by leaf; the astral body brings this to a close. The etheric body will be subdued, so to speak, by the astral. Clairvoyantly, we can see the Ego of the plant as if it were a sheath 2Re: “like a sheath” refer to the drawing: “Astral substance above the plant” in a previous lecture, dated 6 December, evening, GA98-02-06. that extends to the centre of the Earth.

When you approach the plant from the outside, you will first see only the physical and etheric bodies. The glow surrounding the plant is part of the astral atmosphere of the whole Earth. Thus, you can see how the spiritual, as it were, washes around the globe. The sequence of the spinal marrow vortices, is the effect of the etheric body principle that you have within yourself. This is brought to a close by the strongly intervening astral force which surrounds the spinal cord. As the astral body unfolds, the spinal vortices are closing themselves off as cranial bones. Thus, one could actually track the collaboration of the etheric with the astral everywhere in the world. Underlying this is a mystery, namely the secret that everything alive must be dampened, or, as it were, killed by the astral. The purpose of this killing in the astral is to bring the etheric to a close. If we imagine it as a powerful effect, then it is called Azote. 3Azote: Expression for nitrogen (N), ‘Azote” French for Nitrogen, from the Greek “A” = not and “zoe” = life. Thinking spiritually, Azote means the force in the cosmos that prevents the etheric unfolding with an overabundant power without ever coming to an end. The call to that which is alive to become conscious, is based on the power of Azote, for without the astral there would be no consciousness.

Everything spiritual also has its expression in the physical, just as for a spiritual observer all physical matter is nothing but the embodiment of the spirit. Spiritually speaking, we have now seen the collaboration of the continuously developing etheric, and the astral that holds back the etheric, and contained in the holding back is consciousness.

If you observe the interaction of the two substances contained in our air, oxygen and nitrogen, you will find the physical expression of this as it applies to humans and animals. The oxygen in our air is the embodiment of the etheric, the great life-body of the Earth. You would devour yourself in a vehement life if you breathed only oxygen. You would be old right away after your birth, so to speak. Consciousness as such couldn’t develop in the way it exists for human beings and animals. Therefore, the developing life, the oxygen principle, must be subdued. It is being subdued by the admixture of nitrogen. This regulates and limits the effect of oxygen. If you only breathed nitrogen, you would die instantly. The interaction of both creates the balance that moderates life so that it can become conscious. The physical embodiment of Azote is the power that finds its expression in nitrogen. Thus, you are learning the spiritual background of what you continuously take in and what you give out.

You now have an example of how all life comes into being through the establishment of a balance between opposing powers. This equilibrium between two powers can also be seen in the larger cosmos, for example in our solar system. Thus, we arrive at a chapter where we can point out that our solar system does not only represent a range of bodies of physical substance, but that all those bodies that belong to our system, are in the physical world solely as an expression of something spiritual. Just as you have a physical body that belongs to a soul, likewise, every planetary body belongs to something of “soul” and of “spirit”; and the spiritual sheaths of the individual world bodies are very varied.

If one could look at our Earth clairvoyantly from the outside, one would see not only rocks, and so on, of material substance, as well as animal and human shapes walking around in between, but above all, the group-souls of plants, animals, and so on. This is already a spiritual population on our Earth. Furthermore, the clairvoyant would see the individual human souls, the folk-soul, and so on. In any case, one must not imagine the spirit of a celestial body simply as a sphere in space with a spirit and a soul, but rather as a complete spiritual population that forms an entity and resides on this celestial body. And all these individual spirits, group-souls and so on are, in a sense, subordinate to one we can call a leader. And all of this together corresponds to the total spirit of our Earth, to the one we call the Earth-spirit.

Even from these hints, you can see that the spiritual life of a planet is complicated. We now endeavour to delve deeper and deeper into the details of the spiritual life of a planet. You must be patient; we will always progress a bit further.

Today, we can follow our planetary system a bit further, remembering that our Earth was not always like it is now and that it only became so through slow evolution. As you are aware, Earth was a different planet prior to becoming Earth. We call the earlier embodiment of our Earth the “old Moon.” This is not our current Moon, which is only a fragment of it. Even earlier, the Earth was what we call the Sun-planet. This does not, once again, refer to the current Sun. Even earlier, our Earth was Saturn. What is the relationship of our current Sun to the old Sun, when our Earth was still the Sun?

The position of the Sun in the cosmos was not like it is nowadays, because then a sun, separate from the Earth, did not exist. That which you all were at that time was the preparation for the current physical, etheric, and astral body that lived within the old Sun itself. The first rudiments of the physical body had been given on Saturn, the rudiments of the etheric body on the Sun, the rudiments of the astral body on the Moon, and then it is on the Earth that the Ego is added. If you put this together with the current state, then you will understand how you have lived on the old Sun. Your life consisted only of a physical and an etheric body. Your Ego was not yet in the body and neither was your astral body. If you wish to imagine the old Sun-life, you will gain an idea of this if you imagine that all of you here have suddenly fallen asleep. The physical and the etheric bodies will remain seated on the chairs, while the astral body and your Ego floats in the air above you. The conditions on the Sun were permanently like this—that’s how it used to be on the old Sun. You floated around the Sun, following behind your Ego and your astral body, governing and leading from above what was below. Your physical body, of course, was not like it is today. If you imagine it like today’s plants, you will gain an idea of what the physical body was like. Flesh, in the present sense, didn’t yet exist. What you had was a kind of plant life. But it was impossible for the Sun to hold onto such a shape because then an Earth with such human beings as you are today could never have emerged.

During the transition to the Moon, those beings capable of bearing the solar existence needed to split off from the Earth, because the solar existence was swift and fast-paced. As a result, the Sun, with all of those substances that necessitated a fast-paced, rushing life, split itself off from the Earth. Hence, the Sun took along with it all those substances and beings that developed swiftly, and Earth was left behind with all those beings that were not able to cope with the rapid pace. The human being was one of those beings. The best of all beings and substances on the old Sun separated and took on a life of their own. We see, in the fiery, gaseous masses of the current Sun, the bodies of highly exalted beings, who have developed far beyond human beings. They are able to endure today’s Sun-existence because they are already so far advanced that they no longer need to live within a body. The Sun is an existence that developed out of a planetary existence—it is a fixed star, as it is called in occultism.

A fixed star is an advanced planet that has ejected anything that couldn’t keep up. The higher entities have founded an existence for themselves on the fixed star. Each fixed star has arisen from a planet. Advancement, or upward movement, is also taking place in the cosmos. Our Earth, too, will go through the following embodiments: it will become Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. On Venus, Earth will have already reached a kind of fixed star existence. We will transform ourselves, together with the Earth, into beings of a higher kind, who will be able to endure the fixed star existence.

As we have seen, a fixed star comes into being by a planet expelling its bad materials and beings and retaining the better substances and beings to lead them upwards to a more exalted existence. You might ask: if such a fixed star continues to advance upwards, what will become of it then? What will become of the Sun with all the sublime beings?—First of all, there is still a while to go, because what happens next will be that our Earth will once again unite with this Sun. But then there will be a further separation because our Earth will gradually become a fixed star. Once our Earth has reached its Venus or Vulcan-existence, then, what the Sun is today will also slowly have become something different. What will become of a Sun?—A sun becomes what we see today glittering down from the sky as the Zodiac. The higher stage of development of a Sun is that it unfolds into a Zodiac. A Zodiac consists of twelve constellations: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. For the materialistic astronomer, these are simply group pictures. Though the clairvoyant knows, that they have not simply been placed into space, but that their constellations correspond to spiritual beings who are grouped around in this belt in the sky. Once beings have completed their sun-existence, they will become such a Zodiac. This too goes through a kind of evolution.

The Zodiac is known today as a particular spatial order of certain stars, which is related in a certain way to our life and existence—but it was not always this way. It has developed out of a type of nebulous substance. Imagine the old Saturn that once represented the Earth, then evolved into the Sun, the Moon, and finally became today’s Earth. Saturn was already surrounded by our Zodiac, but the stars in our Zodiac were not distinct then, and the matter was like foggy rain. With the advancement of Saturn to the Sun and to the Moon, the matter grouped itself together and the constellations lit up.

Where did this Zodiac, that surrounded Saturn at that time come from, and which will vanish because it will have served its purpose as soon as our Sun becomes a Zodiac? Now, you can imagine that Saturn was preceded by other evolutionary stages. An earlier Sun, that shone above the earlier embodiments of our Earth when it was Saturn, had sacrificed itself and had become this Zodiac. When we look from an occult perspective at this Zodiac, we can see that it has only come about through a great sacrifice. Substances and beings that preceded our existence have sacrificed themselves and formed this Zodiac, initially as a nebulous formation of matter and then as a grouping of stars. That which was described to you as the creative entities of our beings, all of that was united with the old Zodiac when Earth was still Saturn. All those sublime beings, who had already passed through a higher stage before, had to work downwards; they streamed out the rudiments of the physical body. This is what exists as the secret of the genesis of the world: that all beings will ascend from beings that receive, to become beings that produce and create. It is the aim of beings to become creators.

Once they have ascended from “receiving” to “giving”, the beings gather together in a Zodiac. The matter for the first rudiments of a human being’s physical body flowed from the Zodiac. Thus, we learn to look more and more into the cosmos and at what floats through it. And the physical bodies appear to us to be only the physical expression of higher spiritual beings. Those higher spiritual beings have exuded matter through their will. This is the powerful, magical work where the will becomes so strong that it can pour out substance. The substance that rained down out of these beings, who were called upon to create this matter on the old Saturn, has transformed itself over time into our present physical body. We call those exalted beings the Thrones or the Spirits of Will, who have developed to such a height that they were able to trickle down the cosmic rain that was the first rudiment of the physical human body.

This is another new point we would like to capture, there will come a time when a confluence of all these viewpoints comes about. But one must have patience to discover all the details, so that by and by a more complete picture of the greatness of the cosmos emerges.

We now move on from these global spaces to another chapter. We will return to that point in our Earth’s evolution where the Sun has separated itself off from our Earth—to where once, in the pre-historic past, the Sun and Earth were still forming one body. The Sun, together with the higher developed beings, left our Earth behind as a setting suitable for us slower-developing beings. The Sun then shone on the Earth from the outside. The Sun beings are sublime and powerful beings, but they are creative in a different way than the Thrones, the spirits of the Zodiac. What streams from the Sun to the Earth is light. This is also an enormous deed, but it is cosmically less than the trickling down of matter itself.

What we call the Moon today was originally still united with the Earth. Our Moon was created by the shedding of less developed substances and beings that were still connected with the Earth. If Earth had kept the Moon in itself, then our development would also not have proceeded correctly. The development would have become too slow. Earth would have become, so to speak, mummified like a statue. Life would have perished. Too much would have been killed off, and eventually, the Earth would have become a field of the dead. That is why the Moon had to depart, and the Earth, which remained, was able to maintain balance. As a result, the Sun and Moon are now affecting the Earth from the outside; they maintain the Earth’s equilibrium so that human evolution can take place. Everything is kept in balance through opposing forces. Only by both opposing forces, those of the Sun and of the Moon influencing Earth, was the human Ego able to gain a foothold in mankind. And now recall our first elementary description of the human being. A human being consists of a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an Ego. The Ego works on the astral body and transforms it into Manas, the etheric body into Buddhi, and the physical body into Atma or Spirit-Man. But it would have been impossible for this development to happen right from the start. Here, the Sentient Soul, the Rational Soul, and the Consciousness Soul had to insert themselves. These sheaths that lie between the human body—the physical, the etheric, and the astral body—and the spirit—Manas, Buddhi, and Atma, were temporary transformations. Now the Ego, at its level of spiritual development, integrates the Spirit-Self, Manas, into the astral body. Everything that happens now is purely the work of Manas or the Spirit-Self. But that was not long ago—we did not start doing this until the Atlantean era. However, it had been prepared earlier, albeit unconsciously, through the three middle sheaths: the Sentient Soul, the Rational Soul, and the Consciousness Soul.

When the human being came over from the Moon to the Earth, he consisted of only three bodies: the physical, the etheric, and the astral body, and a bridge had to be built. The human being was not able to build such a bridge by himself; he needed help. In Lemurian and Atlantean times, work on it had already been done unconsciously, as you are now working consciously on this. First work was undertaken on the astral body, and the Sentient Soul emerged. Then work was done on the etheric body and the Rational Soul emerged. Finally, work was even done on the physical body out of which the Consciousness-Soul unfolded, which came about by enabling the physical body to drive its physical organs outwards. With this development, the clairvoyant stage of Atlantean consciousness transitioned into today’s consciousness. Thus, as a manifestation the Consciousness-Soul will be lit up last.

Only in the old Atlantean times did man gain the maturity to work on himself. Who helped him during that time when the human being wanted to evolve out of a being that had a physical, etheric, and astral body into someone who possessed a Sentient-Soul, a Rational-Soul, and Consciousness-Soul? We will understand who helped when we look at our Earth-development, how it happened through the Sun, Moon, and so on. As you know, Earth has separated itself from the Sun and has sent out the Moon. The Sun had highly exalted beings who were so advanced creatively that they were able to send light into the cosmos. I have often mentioned that not only may one have to repeat a grade in school, but also in cosmic development. The human being had come so far as to be able to endure on Earth, and the higher beings had come so far that they could endure life on the Sun. The beings who live on the Sun today had a human existence previously. But during this initial development, some beings had fallen behind, for whom it was impossible to complete their set tasks. They could not yet readily live on the Sun. If they had gone there, they would have fared badly—the human being also would not have been able to endure it. However, these beings stood between the Sun-gods and human beings. For this reason, they had to obtain a different world body where the conditions were suitable for their existence. In fact, these beings were also taken care of during cosmic development. Even before our Sun separated Earth from itself, our Jupiter separated himself from the Sun at about the same time. Later, after the Sun had already released the Earth, our current Venus separated itself from the Sun, and even later, our current Mercury separated from the Sun.

Thus, for those beings who had not kept up, planetary existence stages were created, and they now inhabit those planets. At the time when the Moon also separated from Earth, a very occult process took place in our karmic development, called the Passage of Mars through our Earth, which is very difficult to explain. Indeed this process is extremely difficult to explain because when the Earth was still connected with the Sun, the Mars substance was within the Earth. The Sun then separated itself from the Earth, and Mars stepped out, leaving behind the substance known as iron on Earth. Mars, too, became a location for those beings who had fallen behind. These Mars beings are the initiators of the development of the Sentient Soul. If they had not exerted their influence on our planet, then the Sentient Soul would not have been able to form itself. This illustrates to you the importance of those beings who we pointed out at the beginning of this lecture, and who spiritually belong to the physical substances of the solar system and stand in an interrelationship with what we have within ourselves.

Just as the Sentient Soul has been stimulated by the Mars beings, so has the Rational Soul been stimulated by the Mercury beings, and the Consciousness Soul by the Jupiter beings. Already at the time when the Sentient Soul, the Rational Soul, and the Consciousness Soul were stimulated, the impulse was given to set Manas into motion. Because this too still needed an initial impulse. Once it was in flow, the human being could, so to speak, take his development into his own hands.

This happened in the last third of Atlantean time. The initiators were those beings who resided on Venus. Thus, you will be able to gain an idea of the interactions between the various parts of our planetary system. We must remember that the human being has brought along his physical body, his etheric body, and his astral body. Then three more sheaths develop: the Sentient Soul, the Rational Soul, and the Consciousness Soul, and eventually Manas. The Consciousness Soul has its strength from Jupiter, the Rational Soul has its from Mercury, the Sentient Soul has its from Mars, and the Spirit-Self has received its impulse from Venus. Thus, you must look up at the relevant stars if you want to track down the forces within yourself. Man is a complicated being; he has come into being because the powers of the cosmos have converged within him. Finally, all of this shall be presented in a picture. Imagine, someone would see here on the wall a small Sun spectrum, a rainbow, i.e. the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Imagine that this is not projected onto the wall but only visible in the sun-dust. This is what you would look at first. Then, when you investigate how this comes about, you would see how the sunlight enters the room through a crack and that through different contraptions, through a prism, or through another type of light-breaking substance, this spectrum, this “spectre” comes about. You cannot remove it, but if you take away the separate parts of it that are outside the spectrum, then the spectre disappears. Take the outer light away—gone is the ghost—take away the prism, the wall with the light— and the ghost disappears. It had formed itself purely as a result of outside influences.

When a clairvoyant looks at a human being, it is the same with him as it is here with the spectrum. Man is actually nothing in and of himself, for what the clairvoyant sees, where the human being stands, are forces from Venus, from Mercury, and from Mars. Take away the Venus forces—and the human being vanishes. Take away the influences of Mercury and Mars —and the human being vanishes. The clairvoyant sees the human being as a convergence of cosmic forces. For the clairvoyant, the only thing that solely remains real in this spectre is the “Ego”. This working “Ego” is the true reality; it is the reason for everything flowing together; it works on the absorption of all such influences. Under the gaze of the clairvoyant, all converging streams disappear, leaving solely the “Ego” behind as the only truth. This Ego, that so few people nowadays recognise as reality, is the only thing that remains. What the physical perception considers to be a human being, is in reality only a ghost whose individual parts are held together by the almost magnetic force of the Ego. Everything about the human being, apart from the working Ego, is an optical illusion.

Now we have gone through a thought process together. Please, now transform this into a feeling, because only then will this become truly valuable. Go through the world with this feeling. Imagine our earthly beings dissolved into ghosts, apart from the Egos working within. When you feel this, you feel what the materialistic mind calls existence, reality, dissolve like a mist, and you will see the true reality in the spiritual Ego. Only then will you feel something of what, in the Oriental world-view, is meant by the expression “Reality is Maya.” All other talk is just phrases. If one starts right away with the phrase, “The world is Maya”, then this is an absurdity. We do not even want to say the word Maya without first having gained this kind of sentiment through such an observation.

You will now have gained a certain idea about what true occult training with its long preparation aims for. You see, it is actually quite a blatant phrase to tell people that existence is only an illusion. First, such contemplations need to proceed patiently and calmly so that the spiritual sensations become ignited. First, we all want to learn to pronounce the words we need in the proper way. To a large extent, our words are spoken only like empty sounds by people, whilst these words indeed, when they were spoken in those cultures where they originated from, were connected with deeply meaningful feelings.

Such an observation that shows us what Maya is, and that shows us the true reality inside the illusion, first pours into our soul what we must extract as a feeling from Theosophy. Therefore, it is necessary that you not only leave with knowledge but also with an emotional tone, with this emotional colour that falls on such a word. In this way, the imaginative observation joins with what we take along into life, what lives within our soul as an emotion, as a feeling.