The Spiritual Hierarchies
17 April 1909, Düsseldorf
Today we have reached a point in our description of the higher beings and their relation to our world and solar system that must seem most questionable to our contemporaries who get their ideas about the universe from popular science. We shall deal with matters about which the modern scientist has no idea whatsoever. But this is by no means the case with one who is firmly grounded in occultism because he is in a position to survey from his vantage point the various aspects of modern science. Indeed, you will not find any contradictions between what has been said here and the facts of modern science, although a reconciliation between the two realms cannot be easily established. If you have the patience to persevere, however, you will gradually see how the various facts are related to the whole.
Perhaps I should also mention that much of what has been dealt with here has been considered from a different standpoint in the lecture cycles held in Stuttgart and Leipzig. Taken superficially, you may find a number of apparent contradictions in the one or other cycle. This is so because in these lectures it is my task to speak not of speculative theories but about facts of clairvoyant consciousness, which appear in a different way when viewed from this or that angle. To use a comparison, the picture of a tree drawn from one side will look quite different from that drawn from another and yet, it is one and the same tree. The same is true of descriptions of the spiritual world drawn now from this, now from that side.
It is quite a simple matter, when one takes a few particular ideas as a starting point, to erect a complex abstract system. But we are working from below upwards and the harmonious unity of the whole will result as the crowning point. Above all, you should be aware of the particular angle from which the statement is being made.
Let us take an example. A popular work of science states that air on Jupiter must be as thick as tar or honey. Now it may be said that from the point of view of spiritual science this is absurd, yet from the modern scientific side one may retort, “Don't you know that modern physics can produce liquid air that is as thick as honey or tar in consistency?” Although this is a self-evident truth of science it is irrelevant to our considerations. What science calls air can be densified, there can be no doubt about that. For spiritual science, it is as valid as to state that water can be turned into something as hard as stone, namely, ice. Indeed, ice is water, but that is not the point. What matters is whether we learn to consider things in a living, functional way or in the dead manner of modern science. It is obvious that ice is water but what would someone do if we advised him to drive his mill with ice instead of water? The abstract concept that ice is water is immaterial; what matters is that we should learn to understand the universe in its dynamic workings. This requires quite different aspects from those involved in considering abstractly the purely material metamorphosis in connection with density.
Just as little as one can drive a water mill with ice, can one breathe air that is as thick as honey or tar. But this aspect is vital for spiritual science. For we do not consider the universe as filled with lumps of matter of varying sizes that move about in accordance with modern astronomical mythology; we endeavor to view the cosmos as a living soul and spiritual unity. Therefore, what we term the origin of the single heavenly bodies has to be viewed from this unity according to spiritual science.
Let us first consider the origin of ancient Saturn from which, as you know, our whole evolution stems. To begin with, ancient Saturn was as large as our whole present-day solar system, but we should not simply imagine it as a physical globe. You will remember that of the three physical states we have today, the solid, fluid and gaseous, nothing yet existed on ancient Saturn; there was only heat or fire.
Let us represent this primeval globe of heat by a circle (Figure 1). At this juncture where the Saturn globe develops into the Sun globe, we can clearly recognize the working of the beings who form the zodiac. I indicated, however, that the zodiac was already surrounding ancient Saturn, though not as compactly as during the old Sun development. We must, therefore, picture the activity of Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim, who spiritually represent the zodiac, around ancient Saturn. The outer circle represents the zodiac spiritually and you might ask how this tallies with the modern view of the zodiac. In the course of these lectures, we shall see that it agrees completely with it. You should picture it as follows.
Imagine that you could place yourself at some particular point on this Saturn globe. If you now lift your arm and point upwards, you have up there the realm of particular Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. If you move along the circumference and again point upwards, you would find other Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim above you. For these three groups of beings form a circle around ancient Saturn. Suppose you wanted to point to some particular Thrones, Cherubims, Seraphims. They are by no means identical like a group of twelve similar soldiers, for instance. They differ considerably from one another. Each bears its individual stamp, so that as one looks upwards from various points, one sees quite separate beings. So, in order to locate particular Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim, one denotes them by a particular constellation. It is like a signpost. In that direction over there are the Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim known as the Twins, over there, the Lion, etc. The constellations of the zodiac are more than mere signposts but, as a first stage, it is important to realize that, when we refer to the zodiac, we are speaking of spiritual beings.
The Thrones are the first to exert their activity on the heat structure that we denote as ancient Saturn. They have reached a stage of development that enables them to pour forth their own substance. They cause their own heat substance to seep into the mass of Saturn. That is how, as I have described, a series of "eggs” (perhaps a strange word to use, yet they have this form) appear all around this structure.
You might ask about the substance as such. Did a heat substance already exist? What existed before can only be described as a neutral cosmic fire that was fundamentally one with universal space. In other words, to begin with, there was only space. This was fenced in, so to speak, and now the heat substance of ancient Saturn was made to trickle onto the surface. As soon as the heat substance was poured into ancient Saturn, spiritual beings became active from two sides. We have mentioned previously that, here in the inner part of the Saturn space, we find the Powers or Spirits of Form, the Spirits of Movement or Mights, and the Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom. They are active from within. The Cherubim, Seraphim and Thrones are working from without and, as a result, a cooperation comes about between the beings working from without and those active from within.
In the first lecture, I mentioned that one can distinguish the inner, soul warmth, which is experienced as inner well-being, from the outer fire. The neutral fire is situated between them and is contained in these egg-shaped forms. Spread out above them is the soul warmth, playing in from outside but also slightly holding itself back. It is as if the radiating soul warmth were held back because of the neutral fire within; the perceptible warmth is pushed back from within. In fact, the warmth-eggs, as I have drawn them previously, are enclosed by two currents, namely, an outer stream of soul warmth and an inner stream of heat, which would have been perceptible to the outer senses. Therefore, only the inner part is composed of physical perceptible heat. Because of the working together of the outer and inner heat, the Saturn-eggs begin to rotate. Each single egg describes a full circle and comes, in turn, under the influence of the various Thrones, Seraphim and Cherubim situated at the periphery.
Then something strange occurs. On its journey, this egg finally reaches its place of origin again. (I am simply describing the observations of spiritual science.) When it reaches this point, it becomes stationary; it cannot go any further. Every egg is created at one particular point, travels around in a circle and is stopped at the point where it originated. The creation of eggs only lasts for a determined period of time; after this period, no further heat-eggs come into existence. When all the eggs have arrived and are stopped at one particular point, they fall on top of each other and form one single egg. Thus, a globe comes into existence at the circumference but, naturally, only in the course of time. This globe consists of the densest part of the fire substance, which in the narrower sense of the word is called Saturn because that is the position of our present planet Saturn.
As previous stages are in a certain sense repeated, so were whole processes repeated at the origin of our earth. Our present Saturn came about in a similar way; it was held back at a particular point, not at the same point as in the case of ancient Saturn, however, because things shift for various reasons. But the process of origin is the same. Thus, a small Saturn globe is born out of the mighty, voluminous original Saturn as a result of the working together of all the cosmic powers belonging to the hierarchies.
Let us consider more closely the moment when all the globes came to a standstill on ancient Saturn. About this, the sages of primeval wisdom said the following. The first inception of the human physical body was formed on ancient Saturn. The earliest foundations consisted of heat but all future organs were already present in seed form in that body of heat. We find the germ of the heart at the point where the initial motion is brought to rest. The heart is the organ in the physical body that, when it later begins to pulsate, ensures that all the functions of the physical body can also be brought to rest again. The origin of the heart is bound up with the first impulse to movement and also with the fact that, at this point, motion is again brought to rest. The heart, when it stops beating, is the organ by means of which the functions of the physical body are brought to rest.
In ancient languages each member of the human body was given a distinct name. The heart was called the Lion in the body. Primeval wisdom asked, “To which direction of the zodiac must one point to find the region where the earliest foundations of the human heart were laid?” They pointed upwards and named the Thrones, Seraphim and Cherubim who worked from that point, the region of the Lion. The first foundations of man were projected into the cosmos, and the part of his body that he was accustomed to call the inner Lion, also became the name for the outer region of the Lion in the zodiac. That is how these things are connected.
The foundation of the other organs in man have also been formed by the zodiac. The heart was formed by the region of the Lion. The cage of the ribs in the vicinity of the heart, the protective shield, was called the breast-plate. This had to be formed in a previous region before the heart was completed. Crab, or Cancer, was another name given to the breast-plate; it was taken from the animal that was endowed with a protection by nature. Hence, this region, situated on one side of the Lion, was called the Crab, or Cancer.
The other regions of the zodiac were named according to the same principle. In fact, the names of the various regions of the zodiac arose as a result of man being projected outwards into the cosmos. But it is not always easy to discover the original intention in that the names have been corrupted, as is the case with Cancer. In a number of instances the name has not been handed down correctly, and so one has to go back to the origin in order to obtain a clear picture.
We shall leave out of consideration how Saturn disappears, how it is again dissolved. Let us pass on to how evolution progresses after a pralaya has taken place. A new evolution now begins. The first phase is a repetition of what occurred on Saturn. A new formation begins after the mid-point has been reached. We now come to the next stage of development known as the evolution of the old Sun. In the same way, as previously the Thrones sacrificed themselves, we now have the sacrifice of another rank of the spiritual hierarchies, namely, the Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom. The Thrones are mightier beings; They were able to pour forth physical substance, heat substance. They were able to bring forth the substance of Saturn out of their own being. The Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom are only able to offer an etheric body, which is thinner. Man already possessed the foundations of a physical body, and an etheric body was now added to it by the Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom. This happened in a second circle, as it were.
This represents the original size of the old Sun; it has shrunk in comparison to the former larger circumference. Because it has shrunk, it has also become more dense and, as a result, we find inside the old Sun not only heat substance but densified heat, a gaseous, airy substance. The beings previously mentioned, together with the Dominions, now begin to work from the periphery and from the inside we have only the Powers and the Mights or Spirits of Form and Movement. The other influences come from outside.
The following process, similar to that on ancient Saturn, then occurs. Currents created by spirits at the periphery, but in cooperation with the Dominions, are set in motion. These currents are somewhat denser than formerly when only the Thrones were active. Inside, the mass contracts, and one globe of mist after another is produced between the polar activity of the two currents. This globe is different from the one on Saturn because Saturn, with all its beings, was composed only of heat, but this globe is permeated by ether, by a body of ether. Although only as dense as gas, it is interpenetrated by a body of ether, and as a result the whole globe is a living being, it is inwardly alive. Whereas Saturn was an inwardly dynamic being, full of mobility until it was brought to a standstill by the Lion, Jupiter—we can give it this name because the planet Jupiter as seen in the heavens is a repetition of a part that split off from the old Sun—is inwardly alive. Thus we have the old Sun; the globes move around in a circle, living globes, mighty living beings.
Instead of Leo, you must now picture another part of the zodiac where these globes have their origin, namely, the region of the Eagle. In this region we find the primary impulse that led to the creation of the Sun globe, the living being in cosmic space. When this living globe has completed its journey along the circumference, it returns to the region of the Eagle. But now something different happens. Whereas previously each globe was infused with life at this point, it is now, on its return, killed by the same influence that originally called it to life. One globe after another is slain. When all have been killed and no further globes come into being, the existence of the old Sun comes to an end. Life consists in the fact that new globes are created here; when they return to the same place, they are killed by cosmic forces. The sting of death inflicted by the cosmos on the life of the old Sun was experienced as the “sting of Scorpio.” Because that region inflicts also death, it is called the region of the Scorpion. In this constellation we have the Eagle, which brings dead matter to life, but also the place that sends forth the forces of death, Scorpio.
In the region of the Lion, we find those forces in the zodiac that brought the original life in the physical foundation of man to rest; in the region of the Scorpion, we have those forces that bring about death. We shall discuss the connection with present-day conditions later; this can only happen gradually. A thick veil or maya has been drawn over the original conditions.
Let us proceed. We need not describe the next stage in so much detail. The process will have become clear, but attention should be drawn to the following. You would be quite mistaken if you assumed the planet Saturn to be similar to other cosmic bodies, say like Jupiter or Mars. Saturn is only a sphere of heat. We only see it as we do because we perceive it through a light-filled space. Picture how an unilluminated object appears when seen through a light-filled space. It would appear bluish. You can observe this in a candle; the flame appears blue in the middle and it is surrounded by a kind of radiance. If you look at darkness through an illuminated space it always appears blue. I am quite conscious of the fact that I am running the danger of talking nonsense according to the modern school of mechanistic optics, but that cannot be helped. The fact is that this nonsense is correct. modern science has no idea why the sky looks blue. It appears blue to us because it is, in fact, the dark, black, and we see it through an illuminated space. Darkness seen through the light appears blue. That is why Saturn also appears as a slightly bluish cosmic body.
Everything said here agrees with the findings of modern science but not with the fanciful theories that have been constructed abstractly around them. It would lead too far afield if I were to explain to you, along the same lines, how the rings of Saturn arise. With Saturn one is dealing with three layers of warmth—a neutral layer, a layer of soul-warmth and a physical perceptible warmth. In looking at these various layers through an illuminated space, the illusion arises that we see a gaseous globe surrounded by a kind of dust ring. We are simply experiencing an optical illusion. Our present Saturn is a heavenly body still consisting only of heat substance.
These things can, of course, only be said in connection with things we have dealt with today; otherwise, they would not be understood. In dealing with Saturn we should bear in mind that it is a being composed of heat substance; that is the key to its understanding. Jupiter, which is merely a stage of solar existence, is a formation composed mainly of gas and heat. Of course, the spacial conditions and those of motion have altered. The present Jupiter is not situated where it formerly was. We must now proceed and deal in a similar way with Mars. It originated as the result of cooling of a gigantic globe down to the fluid state. Finally, it separated itself off from the general misty, watery mass into a compressed globe of water. Again, it came about through the fact that the watery globes that arose at the periphery were held back at a particular point. Just as the motion was impeded on Saturn by the Lion, and as death was inflicted on Jupiter by Scorpio, so now on Mars the watery globes are brought to rest. But on Mars the details are a little different.
The present Mars is a repetition of the old Moon. The old Moon reached as far up as the present position of Mars. That is one part of the old Moon; the other part is the present moon, which is a slag heap. The living part, which represents the other pole, remained with Mars after the former condition was repeated. In this sense, Mars is the third condition of our planetary development and corresponds to the stage of the old Moon. Mars is essentially a body of water. During this period of the old Moon— r old Mars, if you prefer—mankind received the astral body, in other words, the first form of consciousness. The body of man at that time consisted of a watery Mars or Moon substance. Just as today the human body is composed of earthly substances, so formerly man's body consisted of fire, air and water. According to the densest substance he contained, the man of that period could be termed a water being. He became so particularly because the astral body was injected into him. He was not yet an ego being, but one endowed with an astral body. This occurred because an impulse had been given at a particular place; it revolved around in a circle and returned to the point from which it had begun. This happened in the region of the zodiac known as Waterman. Man received his consciousness on the old Moon (or old Mars) in the sign of Waterman after one revolution had been completed.
We come now to the earth, which represents the fourth stage of evolution. The three earlier stages are repeated: A Saturn is formed; a Sun is formed and leaves a Jupiter behind, which is a repetition of the Sun; a Moon is formed, and a Mars is left behind. Then the earth emerges, as I have described it, severed from the sun with the part that is separated off as lunar slag. You recall that the first beginnings of the ego took place in ancient Lemurian times when the present moon separated itself off from the earth.
Again, however, that could only happen because an impulse was given from the periphery that resulted in one rotation being completed. Sufficient maturity had now been reached to receive the first beginnings of the ego. This took place in ancient Lemurian times, and one pointed to the constellation of the Bull. At the time such names were given, man still possessed feelings that corresponded to the reality involved. Such designations originated mainly in the secret doctrine of the Egyptians and Chaldeans. A consciousness of the true meaning of words is only present today in genuine occult circles.
The first stirring of the “I am” is expressed in speech, in sound. All sound-formation is connected in a particular way with the forces of procreation. This cannot be touched upon here but is familiar to every occultist. The breaking of the voice at puberty, for example, is connected in a definite way with the powers of propagation. There is a hidden relationship between them. Everything related to this sphere in man was summed up by ancient consciousness as the Bull nature of the human being. This is how the designation of this particular zodiacal sign arose. It was of the same importance for the earth as the Lion was for Saturn, Scorpio for Jupiter and the Waterman for Mars.
The third post-Atlantean period occurred in Egyptian times. The first was the ancient Indian, the second, the ancient Persian and the third, the Egyptian cultural epoch. These periods of civilization represent stages of repetition of the development of the earth as a whole. The Lemurian era was the third period of earth development. Egyptian occultism is, therefore, mainly a repetition in the form of a spiritual reflection of what occurred in Lemuria. What happened in Lemurian times was best known to the priests of the Egyptian Mysteries for these occurrences were reflected in the peculiar culture of Egypt. That is why Egyptian civilization felt a particular kinship with the constellation of the Bull and with the cult of the Bull in general.
So, you will now understand that it is by no means easy to describe the real processes that led to the origin of our heavenly bodies. How does a heavenly body originate? Our Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc., originated through the fact that, first, shells were formed. Each in turn was killed and when no further ones were brought to life, the global structures that formerly shaped the shells coalesced to form a single structure at the circumference. Celestial bodies such as Saturn, Jupiter and Mars came about because, originally, a shell, or skin, was formed; because the globes were laid on top of each other, the structure densified so as to become visible in cosmic space. Here you have no mechanical process according to the dreary theories of a Kant- Laplace, but a living picture of how, as a result of the spiritual workings of the Hierarchies, heavenly bodies such as Saturn, Jupiter and Mars originated.