Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Spiritual Hierarchies
GA 110

Lecture VIII

Düsseldorf, April 17, 1909

To-day we have reached a point in our description of the higher Beings and their relations to our world and solar system, which, to the men of the present day who have received their ideas about the world from ordinary popular science, would seem the most impossible of all; for we shall have to touch on things of which the modern scientist can have no idea. This is naturally not the result of any feeing of opposition; but if one is firmly grounded in Occultism one can survey from this standpoint the facts of modern science. In what has been said in these lectures you will nowhere find anything which contradicts the facts of modern science, but naturally the harmony is not always easy to establish. But if you have the patience to follow it all, you will gradually see how all the separate facts combine to form one stupendous and harmonious whole.

Much that has been mentioned in these lectures has been also demonstrated from different standpoints, in lectures held in Stuttgart, and in Leipzig; and if you take those lectures and compare them superficially with each other, you may indeed find some contradiction between this or that expression. This happens only because it is my task to speak in these lectures not of speculative theories, but about the facts of clairvoyant consciousness, and because facts appear in a different way when they are considered from one side or from another. To use a comparison — a tree you are painting from one side will appear different when you paint it from the other side, yet it will still be the same tree. It is the same with descriptions of spiritual facts, when the light is turned on them from different sides. Certainly, if one starts with one or two ideas only, and builds a whole system upon them, it is easy to form an abstract system; but we are working from below upwards, and the unity of the whole will first be revealed in the crown. With each statement you must reflect in what sense, and in what direction it has been made.

When it is said, for instance, in a popular work, that the air and gas on Jupiter are as thick as tar or honey, and that from the point of view of spiritual science this is a grotesque idea — the turn of phrase which I used was intended to convey its grotesqueness — one can from the standpoint of the science of the present day certainly answer: do you not know that modern physics can produce air of such thick condition that it will be as thick as tar or honey? Certainly, this is a self-understood fact in science; but this is not the point, for these studies do not move along these lines. That which science calls air can certainly be thickened to that extent; but for the observations of spiritual science it is nothing more nor less than that other fact, that water can be made to become as hard as a stone — to become ice. Ice is certainly water, but the point is whether one considers the things in their living functions or in the lifeless, inanimate sense of modern science. It is self-understood that ice is water; but if someone who is accustomed to have his mill turned by water throughout the whole year was advised to move it by the means of ice, what would he say? Thus, we have not to do with the abstract idea that ice is water, but what we have to do is to comprehend the universe in its activity. Here quite different standpoints have to govern as to what one entertains in the abstract about purely material metamorphoses in relation to density. Just as one cannot move a mill by means of ice, one also cannot inhale air which is as thick as honey. This is what we have to consider in the study of spiritual science. For we do not look on the world globes in the way they are considered to-day as lumps of matter of different sizes moving about out there in universal space; and in which the modern astronomical ‘mythology’ sees only material globes. We consider them in their living soul and spirit existence, in other words, we consider them in their completeness. Thus in this completeness we have to consider that which we call, in the spiritual scientific sense, the origin of each single globe.

As an example of the origin of a heavenly body, we shall choose that ancient Saturn from which, we know, our evolution started. I have already told you that ancient Saturn was, fundamentally speaking, as large as the whole of our solar system. We must imagine ancient Saturn not merely as a material globe, for we know that it had nothing as yet of the three conditions of matter which are called to-day solid, liquid and gaseous, but that it consisted only of warmth or fire. And now let us imagine that this primeval globe of warmth is the circle a, b, c, d.

You remember that we said: when the Saturn globe had evolved to the Sun globe, there distinctly appear encircling it, those Beings, who form the Animal circle or Zodiac, but I indicated at the time, that, even though they did not surround it so compactly as they did in the Sun existence, that they were already there on ancient Saturn. Thus, around ancient Saturn we must think of the Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim wielding their power, and they are to us, in the spiritual sense, the Zodiacal circle. Thus the line A-B-C-D represents for us the Zodiacal circle, in a spiritual sense.

You will ask how this agrees with the modern definition of the Zodiac. We shall see that it agrees with it completely. But you must represent it to yourselves as follows. Imagine that you could place yourself on some definite spot of that ancient Saturn globe. If you now lift your hand and point upwards

with your finger, over that place is the region of certain Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. If you move on, and point to some other place, it will be another region of other Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim; for these three groups of Beings form a circle around the ancient Saturn. Suppose that you wanted to indicate the direction in which certain Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim are to be found. They are not all alike; but each one is very distinctly different from the other, they are all individualised, so that one indicates different Beings when one points with the finger to different places. And to be able to indicate the right Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, one marks the spot by a certain constellation of stars. This is then a mark or sign. In this direction one would say are the Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, called Gemini, in another those called Leo, and so on. These are signs to show the direction in which certain Beings are. We must consider those separate constellations as such signs. They are something more, but we must first be clear, that when we speak of the ‘animal circle’ or Zodiac, we have to do with spiritual Beings

The Thrones were the first to exercise their activity upon that fire formation which was ancient Saturn. The Thrones had progressed so far in their development, that they could let their own substance stream out. They let their warmth substance percolate, as it were, into that Saturn mass. Through this, those forms originated around it which we have called, somewhat grotesquely, eggs — but they really had that shape.

You may now ask: How is it really with that substance? Did warm sub-stance exist from the beginning? What was there already, we can only describe as a kind of neutral universal fire, which is, fundamentally speaking, one with universal space, so that I might as well say: formerly there was only the space which had been separated off, and then on to its surface percolated that which can be called the warmth substance of ancient Saturn. In the moment when this warmth substance was infused into Saturn, the Beings with which we are concerned, came into action on both sides. We have shown that, in the interior of Saturn, we find the Exusiai, or Powers, or Spirits of Form; the Dynamis or Spirits of Motion or Mights; and the Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom. These are active in the interior; from outside, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones are active; and the result is a conjoint action of the Beings inside, and outside Saturn. It was said in an earlier lecture that we can distinguish the inner soul's fire, which is felt as an inner comfortable warmth, from the outwardly perceptible fire. This neutral warmth is really within the Egg forms. Opposed to it we find the soul warmth, spread around it, radiating into it from outside, but as if holding itself back. It is as if the soul's warmth radiated from outside, but held itself back from the neutral fire within. The really perceptible warmth is pushed back from within. So that the egg of warmth which is drawn in Diagram I is really shut in between two currents; an external (x) stream of soul-warmth, and a stream of inner (y) warmth, which could be perceived by external senses. Only that which is in the interior, is warmth, physically perceptible. And now through the action of the inner and outer warmth, each of these Saturn eggs begins to rotate. Each of them circles round, and comes in turn under the influence of each of the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim, which are out in space. And now something very strange happens.

Each egg in its wanderings, comes back to the point where it was first formed. When it reaches this point it remains stationary, it cannot go any further. Each egg has been formed on some definite spot, then wanders round the circle and is stopped when it returns to the place where it has been created.

The production of those eggs of warmth lasts, however, only up to a certain time; it then ceases and no more eggs are formed. Now when all those eggs are stopped at a certain place, they fall over each other. When they have covered each other up, they form, so to speak, one single egg. Thus on the point where the eggs were originally created, they come to rest. And, naturally, from the moment when no new ones are formed any more, they all meet and in the end, cover each other. Thus a globe is formed. This globe is naturally formed only by degrees. It is the densest part of the fire substance, and that which in a narrower sense is now called Saturn, (for it stands on the spot where the Saturn of to-day is). And as in a certain sense everything is a reflection, the whole process has been repeated in the origin of our own earth. Even the Saturn of to-day originated in such a way that it was actually stopped at a certain place — not exactly at the spot where the ancient Saturn was stopped, because for certain reasons things always shift a little, but the process of formation of the present day Saturn is the same. Thus a small Saturn-globe is born from the large all-embracing one, through the joint action of the universal powers who belong to the Hierarchies.

Now let us consider that point at which all those globes came to a stand-still on primeval Saturn. About this the sages of primeval wisdom taught the following: On ancient Saturn the first foundation of the human physical body was formed. That first foundation was really formed of warmth, but in that body of warmth were already contained the germs of all the future organs. At the point where the first movements which had been produced were brought to a stop, was formed the germ of that organ of the human body which, when its movements were one adjusted, later changed the whole mechanism of the human body from rest to movement — this is the heart. Here, from the first stimulation to movement, arose the beginning of the heart; but this could only originate because at that same point the movement was brought to a standstill. Through this, the heart is that organ by which, when it ceases to beat, the whole physical body and its functions are brought to rest.

Each member of the human body was given a distinct name in ancient speech. The heart was called the Lion within the body. Primeval wisdom said: to which direction of the Zodiac must one point, if one wishes to indicate the region out of which were laid the first foundations of the human heart? They pointed upwards, and named the Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim who acted from the region of Leo (Lion). Man received the first outline of his physical body projected from out [of] universal space, and the region of his body, which he was accustomed to call inwardly, Leo, was also called the region of Leo out in the Zodiac Thus are these things connected.

Thus also have all the other foundations or germs of the human organs been formed by the Animal Circle or Zodiac. The heart was formed by Leo the Lion. Near the heart, the cage of the ribs, which is necessary for the protection of the heart, was called the breastplate. In the beginning a region had naturally to be formed before the inclusion of the heart. Another name for the breastplate arose, which was taken from an animal who had received such a breastplate from nature — Cancer, the Crab; that which is out in space is really called ‘breastplate,’ a protection which the Crab has from nature, hence that region was called ‘the Crab.’ It lies on one side of the Lion. The other regions of the Zodiac were named according to the same principle. In fact, it is man projected outwards into universal space who has given these designations to the Zodiacal circle. But it is not always so easy to discover the original intention, in the transformed names, as for example, with the Crab. The name has not always been transmitted in a direct line, so that one has to return to the original sense if the meaning is to be made clear.

We shall pass over the disappearance or dissolving of Saturn; we shall now describe how its evolution progressed after it had passed through the Pralaya. After the Saturn formation had dissolved, a new evolution, or new formation, began. What first took place was exactly the same as that which had formerly taken place on Saturn. When the whole formation of Saturn had been repeated in this way, a second formation began, after the centre had been reached. We are now advancing towards that stage of development which we generally designate as that of the primeval Sun. Just as, formerly, the Thrones sacrificed themselves, so now, another grade of the Hierarchies are making the sacrifice, namely, those Beings whom we call Spirits of Wisdom. The Thrones are Beings of greater power; they could let their own physical substance stream from them, their warmth substance. They could pour out the substance of Saturn from their own bodies — as has been described. The spirits of Wisdom were only able to give an etheric body, which is not so dense. Man already had the foundation of the physical body; the Spirits of Wisdom gave him now his etheric body. This happened, as it were, in a second circle. I shall now draw this in Diagram III. This represents the original size of the ancient Sun. It has shrunk in comparison to the former larger circumference. Because it has shrunk it has grown denser; inside the Sun there is not only warmth-substance, but also condensed warmth-substance, gaseous-air substance. Now, from the surrounding circumference, along with the previously mentioned Beings, the Spirits of Wisdom are working upon the Sun: together and within the globe of the Sun the Spirits of Form, and the Spirits of Motion are carrying on their activity. The following now happens, which is similar to what happened on Saturn. Certain currents are created by the surrounding spirits — the Spirits of Wisdom and the Thrones. These currents are somewhat denser than those which were produced by the Thrones alone. Inside, the mass contracts, and a ball of mist is now compressed between those two streams.

This globe is different from the Saturn globe, because in reality Saturn with all its beings consisted only of warmth, but this globe is now interpenetrated by ether, by a body of ether. Although it is as dense as gas, it is interpenetrated by an ether-like body. Therefore, the whole of this globe is alive; it is a Being inwardly alive. Whilst Saturn was a being which was in motion inwardly, which was full of mobility, until its motion was brought to a standstill by the Lion, Jupiter, (one can also call it Jupiter, for the planet seen in the heavens as Jupiter is a reproduction of that which was formed at that time as part of the Sun) Jupiter is inwardly living. Such was the ancient Sun. The balls which now begin to circle round it, are living balls, living creatures.

Now, instead of the Lion, imagine another region of the Zodiac where those balls were originally stimulated and called into being; I called this region that of the Eagle. In this region occurred the first stimulation into life of the Sun-globe, of that living being within cosmic space. Now, when this living globe had once completed its circle and returned to its starting point, to the region of the Eagle, something else comes into operation. Whilst the globe had first begun to be inwardly alive at this point, when it reaches the same point again it is killed through the same influence which originally called it to life. One ball after another was killed. When they all had been killed, and no new ones were produced, the life of the ancient Sun also came to an end. Its life consisted in the production of new balls, which, after circling round, covered each other at the point they started from and were killed by forces entering from universal spaces.

This ‘sting of death,’ which the life of the ancient Sun received from universal space, was felt as the sting of the scorpion. Therefore that region where they were killed is called the ‘region of the Scorpion.’ At this point the constellation can be seen which rouses dead matter to life: the Eagle and also that wherein work the forces which kill: the constellation of the Scorpion

We can therefore say: in the region of the Lion are those forces of the Zodiac, which brought the original life of the germinal physical human body to rest; in the region of the Scorpion are these forces which had the power to kill life as such. We shall get to know the correspondence to modern conditions, which are differently constituted, but this can only be explained gradually. A thick veil or Maya has been drawn over the original conditions.

Let us proceed. We need not describe the next conditions so much in detail, for the meaning of these designations and the whole procedure has now grown clearer. But one thing must yet be recalled to your mind which is the following.

When you consider Saturn, you would be quite mistaken if you imagined it to be a globe such as could be compared with any other world's globe, with Jupiter or Mars, for instance. What is there is nothing more than a space of warmth. And you can see it in the way you do only because you are looking at it through an illuminated space of light. Just think, how would a thing that is unilluminated appear if you looked at it through a space full of light? It would appear bluish to you. You can observe this with common candle-light; it looks blue in the middle and around it there is a kind of radiance. I say this, being conscious that I run the danger of appearing to be talking nonsense in the opinion of the whole school of mechanical optics of modern times. But it is a fact. Modern physics does not know why the whole space of heaven appears blue. It seems blue, because in reality it is dark, is black, and is seen through illuminated space. All that is dark, seen through light, appears blue. Therefore, Saturn seems a blue globe when you look at it. All that has been said agrees completely with the facts of science, but not with the fanciful theories which are imagined. It would lead us too far if I explained to you why the ring formations of Saturn also arise because of this, because with each Saturn we have to do with a neutral space of warmth, a stratum of soul's warmth, and with one of physically cognisable warmth. Thus the illusion arises, when one observes those different strata through illuminated space; it is as if one saw a globe of gas with a sort of ring of dust around it; it is but an optical delusion, for Saturn is to-day but a body made of the substance of warmth.

These things can naturally only be said, when speaking to Anthroposophists, elsewhere they would be incomprehensible. Each Saturn must be regarded. as a being consisting of warmth substance, and everything connected with it is to be explained from that standpoint. Each Jupiter, which is nothing else than a Solar stage of development, is a form consisting of gas and warmth. So it is with the Jupiter of to-day which is a repetition of the former Jupiter, the ancient Sun. Certainly the conditions of space and motion do somewhat change. For the Jupiter of to-day is not on the same spot as the former one was, but essentially it is the same.

Now we go further and must explain Mars in the same way. We must explain it as a large globe cooled down to the density of waters, and we must also see in it a point, where a ball of compressed water has formed, and become differentiated from the surrounding much thinner water. It is formed by the same process, as Jupiter, all the single balls of water which are produced on its circumference are at a certain point again brought to a standstill. Just as the movement is hindered on Saturn by the Lion, on Jupiter or the Sun by the Scorpion, which brings death, so on Mars these balls of water are also stopped; only the details are a little different on Mars. The Mars of to-day is a repetition of the ancient Moon. It stands on the same place to which the boundary of the ancient Moon extended. It is the other part of the ancient Moon; one part is our own Moon, which is but a shell; but the living part of it, which represents its other pole is Mars. When speaking of Mars as the third condition of our planetary development, this condition corresponds to that of the ancient Moon. Mars was essentially a body of water. On Mars, or the ancient Moon — call it as you will — the astral body was organised into man, so that he received his first consciousness. The body of that man consisted of the moon substance or moon-water. Just as the body of the man of to-day is formed out of the substance of the Earth, so was the body of the man of that day formed of fire, air, and water. According to the densest substance in him, you might have called that man the water-man. He became this especially, because the astral body was infused into him. He was not yet a man with an Ego, but a man with astral endowments. This entrance of the astral took place because, at a certain place, the stimulus was again given. Then what was on the circumference moved round and returned to the place where it had started from. This was the region of the Zodiac which is designated as the Waterman. So that you have to see in the Waterman that sign of the Zodiac which gave consciousness to man on the ancient Moon or ancient Mars after he had circled once around its circumference..

And now we pass on to the earth, this is the fourth evolutionary condition. The first three are a repetition one of the other; a Saturn is formed, then a Sun is formed, and leaves behind it a Jupiter; a Moon is formed, and leaves behind it a Mars; and last the earth appears, and all those things I have described; the departure from it of the Sun, and of that dross-like part which is our present Moon. You know that the first foundation for the Ego was prepared in old Lemuria, when the present Moon separated from the earth. This was only possible because once again from the surrounding circumference the impulse to rotation was given. Then, that which had received the stimulus, after having rotated once, was ripe to receive the earliest beginnings of the Ego germ. This happened in Lemurian times, and we here point to that part of the Zodiac which is called the Bull, the reason for this being, that man, during the time these names were given, had very concrete and very clear feelings. This name originated in the Mystery teachings of Egypt and Chaldea. It is there that the origin of this designation is to be found, and it is only in real Occultism that the consciousness of the true significance of the Word exists at the present day. The first stirring of ‘I am’ finds expression in speech, in tone; but all tone-formation is related in a certain way which cannot be touched on here, but which every Occultist knows, and which may be explained some time in more intimate lectures; all tone formation has a very definite relation to the processes of propagation, which you can perceive in the fact that the voice of the male changes when sex maturity is reached. There is here a hidden correspondence. All that is associated with these faculties and processes of the human being, was comprised, for ancient consciousness, in the bull nature of man. And. the name given to that particular constellation has its origin in the fact that it has now the same importance for the earth which Lion had for Saturn, Scorpion for the Sun, and Waterman for the Moon. With the Egyptian age, came the third post-Atlantean period of civilisation. The first was the old Indian, the second the old Persian, the third the Egyptian. These periods of civilisation are the corresponding repetitions — as we have often repeated — of the whole processes of development of the earth. The Lemurian epoch was the third epoch of the earth. Therefore Egyptian Occultism repeats in a spiritual reflection the essential parts of the occurrences of Lemurian times. That which happened in Lemurian tunes was best known by the Egyptian mystery priests, for it is reflected in the special features of the Egyptian civilisation. Therefore the culture of Egypt was closely related to the constellation of the Bull, and to the cult of the Bull generally.

Thus you see, that it is not all so easy to indicate the real events which happened during the origin of our heavenly bodies, and all connected with them. For how do celestial bodies originate? Our Saturn, our Jupiter, our Mars have in fact originated thus, that at first spheres were formed on them. One after the other of these is killed, and when nothing more is called into life, all the spherical forms, which previously constituted the shells, finally mass together into a body, and this becomes the visible Planet. In fact, any such celestial body as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, originated thus, that at first a kind of shell was formed. This shell, through the agglomeration of the special forms, was condensed to that formation which then is revealed visibly in space. You have here no mechanical process taken from the dreary Kant-Laplace theory about the world's creation, but you have the living origins of those formations springing from the spiritual interaction of the Hierarchies, as we see them to-day in the heavenly bodies, in Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.