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

Part II

IX. The Development of the Earth and Humanity

17 March 1908, Munich

When I last had an opportunity1See Lecture given on Munich, 15 January 1908, GA 98, Lecture 4. to talk to you, we raised our eyes to the firmament, to the planets that have a certain relation to our human organisation, to our immediate life. Today we want to take a closer look at the development of our planetary system, insofar as it is related to humanity. You might be aware that we basically look at all developments in the cosmos always from the perspective of human evolution. No matter how far we cast a glance back, we always do this with the intention of precisely understanding human nature. This forces us to look at the evolutionary history of our own nature from many different angles. As you may imagine, earlier stages of our Earth and other planetary bodies were no less complicated than our present circumstances. It is not possible to grasp with a few concepts the development of our system—one can only get closer to this development by approaching it from various starting points. It might look as if there are contradictions between the separate imagined pictures. But these are only the result of the occult facts being described from different perspectives. If one were to paint a picture of a tree from various angles, one could create a hundred paintings of that same tree, yet the pictures might all differ. Thus, to gain a comprehensive idea, one has to produce a description from different starting points, and when one has captured many characteristics, these will fit together like different photos from various spatial viewpoints.

Today, the Earth’s development will be described as it appears to the clairvoyant eye. We know that the present embodiment of our Earth was preceded by three others—Saturn, Sun, and Moon. We also know how we have to imagine the Saturn state. We cannot imagine that it had a material composition like our current material matter. We differentiate between matter: our solid matter—Earth; liquid matter—our water; gaseous matter—the air; and the first subtler state—the warmth-matter. If one had come close to the ancient Saturn, one would have noticed its existence only because it felt like entering a warmer space, like a baking oven. In this fire matter, the first rudiment of the physical body was brought forth. But this was only a mirror image, reflected back into space.

After a Pralaya (dissolution or resting period), the Saturn state developed into the Sun state. The matter densifies and becomes gaseous. The human body permeates itself with the etheric body, but everything is still a very thin gaseous matter. What exists of the physical and etheric bodies presents itself like a Fata Morgana, like a mirage, in this Sun.

After another Pralaya, the Sun state passes into the Moon state. The matter liquefies. The human being permeates itself with the astral body. A significant event took place during the Moon’s development. What was present in the Moon’s water matter was a mixture of our present Sun, the Moon and the Earth. But then came a time when a kind of Sun separated itself off, together with the finest and most vital substances and the highest developed beings. What makes up our present Moon and the Earth remained behind as the old Moon. In the moment of separation, those beings that were left behind hardened.

The whole Moon-globe became a semi-living world body. There, the lowest realm is located between the present mineral and plant kingdoms; the second realm is between the plant and animal kingdoms; and the third is between the animal and human kingdoms. What is now rock was once like the wood of trees. All the substances on Earth were like peat or spinach. The mountains were lignified. From this basic substance grew beings that were between our plant and animal kingdoms. The mistletoe has maintained its habit of growing on living substance, though at that time it had a dawning sensation that it no longer has as it degenerated. The third stage were the “human animals”. These were the ancestors of human beings. This form of the old Moon only developed after it had separated from the Sun and orbited around it.

Then there was a reunification and, after a Pralaya, our Earth appeared. Our Earth had to repeatedly go through the earlier Saturn, Sun and Moon states. Only then did it bring forth its actual Earth shape. That it was at first of a fiery composition is something that has been maintained as a halfway suggestion. Physicists say that the Earth developed out of a fiery state. But the fiery state wasn’t gaseous, it was a completely different substance than what physicists mean by gas. It was there that the first rudiment of the physical body was formed again. What appeared then was different from what had appeared in the Saturn state, in that it had already matured out of earlier states of Saturn, Sun, and Moon. It had now become a more complicated human rudiment, the result of the earlier states, made out of a subtle etheric substance. Earth consisted of a conglomerate of such human rudiments. It looked like a blackberry made from the most subtle warmth-matter. The Earth is nothing but a compilation of human rudiments in warmth-matter.

It is now incumbent upon me to give you an idea of what these first rudiments looked like. We must take as an aid what has remained of these first human rudiments until later times. It is now enclosed by other limbs of the human nature. Today it pulsates in us as the body-heat of the blood. This is the remnant of the first human rudiments. What appeared then as warmth lines has again been transformed considerably over time. A child has a soft spot on the top of its head—this is an opening that the human being had since ancient times. During the middle of human development, a kind of warmth-organ was protruding from this spot like a blazing radiation, like suction arms, like an etheric lantern—the cyclopean eye. However, it was not an eye but a warmth organ that the human being needed for orientation purposes. Mankind lived at that time in warmer and colder liquid elements, and this organ told him which environment was useful or detrimental to him. The organ is a reshaped version of an organ from the fire state of the Earth. One has to imagine strength lines running from it to the heart, an independent development without the other limbs, as these do not exist yet, so that it looked like a lantern with protruding suction arms radiating downwards, that will later become veins. This is the “warmth human”.

During the initial Earth’s warmth period, the Earth was still united with the Sun, the Moon, and other planets. Later, a densification occurs. The warmth-matter state becomes a gaseous one. This evolutionary stage is of great importance for the human being because the development of warmth into air was such that channels of air surrounded the energy lines of warmth-matter. During this Earth development, the respiratory circulation process emerged for the first time. Now comes a very important fact. Whenever thermal matter densifies into air-matter, it also dilutes itself into a still more subtle state, into light-matter. This was the case when Saturn formed itself into the Sun—the gaseous state was permeated by light, radiating into cosmic space. Likewise, that is how it was when the Earth densified itself into the air-matter state—it was completely permeated by light; it radiated into cosmic space.

The Earth, as it were, had become a sun. Light is also the initiator of something different—it penetrates into the dark warmth-matter. The first human rudiments were not radiant; at best one would have been able to feel them through differences in warmth. Now this whole system, this warm bloodstream, is surrounded by glowing and radiating light. This light settles into the human body—this is the nervous system. The strength lines, the structure-lines of the nervous system, are light that has taken on a shape. The brain was distributed around the fiery matter, around the lantern, as a light-power. The nervous system that perceives light, was once itself light. And the whole Earth radiated out into space.

The time came when, once again, the Sun peeled itself out of the Earth. The finest materials and beings formed an independent world body, so that our Earth circulated around the Sun. Connected with the removal of the subtlest materials was the densification of the remaining matter. The subtle radiant Sun body emerged on one side, on the other side the Earth matter becomes much more dense. The Earth moves into a watery state, thicker than our ocean water, because everything that is firm today was also contained in it. With the liquefying process a new element emerges. To the extent to which water appears, the music of the spheres, the cosmic sounds, are emanating from the cosmos and out of the Earth. This is not music such as ours today that travels through the air. The development of the Earth is now under the influence of cosmic music. The material substances separate out from a larger mass of undifferentiated matter. Under the influence of the music of the spheres, the Earth’s substances begin to dance. This is the differentiation of substances into purely organic substances, for example, into protein. This is how organic matter, the protoplasm, came about under the influence of the music of the spheres, like today’s Chladni sound figures.2Chladni sound figures are forms created by way of sound vibration. These are made visible by covering a metal plate with fine dust and using a violin bow to create vibrations. Discovered by the physicist Ernst Chladni (1756-1827). These substances, protein-like, sticky substances, are pushed into the earlier strength lines of the human rudiments. The cells, which today are considered to be the origin of organisms’ evolutionary history, arose much later only, when they were born of certain beings. The atom, too, is never primary—it is always what falls out of the whole. A whole is never put together out of individual cells. The whole process was assisted by the Moon‘s continued presence within the Earth’s body. The three human races who lived through those times are the Polar, the Hyperborean and the Lemurian race. Then the Moon separated from the Earth.

While the Moon was still connected with the Earth, something else arose. This was a time of continuous densification. Nearing the end of the Earth's connection with the Moon something special happened. The original fire was like our blood warmth, a living fire. The external fire emerged at the end of the Moon stage. What arose under the influence of this physical combustion, is understood best if one were to look at a burning physical corpse. What emerges as ash, is comparable with the residue of this earth combustion. This had a fresh impact on our Earth development. This is how everything mineral came into being. Out of the organic substances the mineral, the ashen, emerges like a darkening, like a dusk. Before this there were only protein-like substances. Now there are clouds of ash embedded in the protein. These ash clouds are integrated into the organic substances of all natural kingdoms; the plant, animal and human kingdoms.

If this development had continued, then everything would have become mummified and rigid. We have already mentioned the reason why the Sun and the Moon separated. The purpose of this separation was that if all the powers and beings had remained connected, then the human being would not have been able to obtain the living conditions that he has today. If the Sun had stayed connected with the Earth, the conditions would have been too rapid for human life. He would have grown old, right at birth. Only the highly developed beings were able to participate in such a vehement life development. They went with the Sun. The other beings had to firm up. But the firmness would have become complete—and therefore, the Moon had to be removed from the Earth so that the human being could be kept in the proper balance. The Sun gives the power of continuous living growth. The Moon impedes this development at a level suitable for the human being. The human being is in the midst of beings who develop much faster than he is and those who develop much more slowly. The Sun has taken on the development of life, the Moon the development of forms. The human being was given the opportunity to reshape the form that he had reached. Now he was prepared so that the germ of the “I” could sink into him. In this way, the development of the human being in the psychic-spiritual (soul-spirit) direction was instigated. This was at the end of the Lemurian era. From then onwards, here on Earth, the human being had to develop his I with the help of his other limbs. This development falls into the last Lemurian, the Atlantean, and our present time.

But the human I is only very slowly learning to take control of itself. At the outset, when the body was impregnated with the I, it could not yet have controlled its own development. If we follow the whole development of the Earth, we first see the Earth in a state of warmth. At that time it was not yet separated from the other planets that belonged to its system. Physics also knows of this starting point, but only in a physical sense. It talks about a dead gas ball. But from where life arose, it doesn’t say. One illustrates the origin of a planetary system by placing a drop of oil on water. Then the drop is sliced by a card and this is then turned around by a needle. One can observe small drops separating themselves. However, those experimenters are forgetting that they are standing there and are turning the needle. They do not explain how the experiment would proceed without them. Spiritual beings were connected with this gaseous body, with the warmth-matter. The reason why the planets separated out into globes is that on our Earth not only human beings were developing, but also beings that stand above and below mankind. On Old Saturn, beings already existed that went through their human stage there. Today, those beings have developed far beyond the human stage. The Fire Spirits on the Sun are at present two stages above humanity. Moon-men are one stage above human beings. The humans on Saturn were the Spirits of Personality. However, at the same time even higher beings lived there, who had been human beings even earlier. All of those beings remain connected to the planetary system.

The Sun separated from the Earth because higher beings, who required another setting, were connected to it. Had they remained on Earth they would have been delayed in their development. They needed fast speed. However, there existed not only beings who needed the Sun, but there was a whole range of diverse beings at different stages of development. Some beings pushed out Uranus for themselves, for other beings Saturn was created. Jupiter has become another setting. Jupiter emerged when the Earth had lit up already. In this way, one site after another was constructed according to the needs of the spiritual beings. When the Sun split off, it took along certain beings, who were unable to remain connected with the Earth, but were still unable to cope with the very fast pace of the Sun. These beings were more exalted than human beings, but not as mature as the other beings of the Sun. For these beings, the Sun split off Mercury and Venus, whose beings were in-between the Sun-beings and the human beings on Earth. These beings are the ones that directed and led the development of the I, when the I itself was not yet able to do this. The mission of the Earth’s evolution is to develop the I. Only when Christianity bears its most ripe fruits will humanity reach its stage. Venus beings worked through the astral or Devachan world, or incarnated themselves in humans and became their leaders. In a way that humans were not conscious of, they laid the germ for further human evolution into them. From a different viewpoint, they are called Luciferian beings. The Mercurial beings were also related to the Earth’s development. They were the first great mystery teachers. In secret, they led the training of the oldest initiates. Whilst Venus beings have a very long lifespan, Mercurial beings do not know anything about birth and death because they have developed Budhi. They remain fully conscious throughout birth and death.

Now we have talked quite a bit about how the Earth’s development proceeded, the purpose of the origin of the world globe and the human being. This is a new picture of evolution. By following descriptions from different viewpoints, one will gain a true image of reality. The moment one becomes dogmatic, one becomes unable to ever penetrate into real occultism. When trying to gain an overview, like the one given at the beginning of this lecture,3The overview mentioned here was included in the first edition of this lecture, but has been omitted from the current edition, as it is not a text by Rudolf Steiner. one will be able to slowly observe the spiritual life in its reality.