Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

From Limestone to Lucifer
GA 349

II. The two basic principles of colour theory in red sky at dawn and dusk and blue of the sky.

21 February 1923, Dornach

To answer your last question properly, I'll say a few things about colours after all, to the best of my ability.9Rudolf Steiner had also spoken about the connections between red and blue, blood and nerve, in colour therapy in a lecture given on 5 April 1920, published in Spiritual Science and Medicine (GA 312), tr. not known, London: Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1948.

We do not really understand colours unless we understand the human eye, for people are only conscious of perceiving colours with their eyes. They know nothing about the way they perceive colours in other ways, though they do in fact perceive them not only with their eyes. Imagine a blind person, for example. He'll feel different in a room that is illuminated than in a room that is dark. This is so slight, however, that he'll not be aware of it. It is such a slight thing. It is actually very important for him, but he is not aware of it. Even a blind person could not live permanently in a cellar, for instance. He does need the light. And there is a difference if you put a blind person into a brightly lit room with yellow windows, for example, or into a dark room, or, if you like, a less dark room that has blue windows. This has a very different effect on life. Yellow and blue have a very different effect on life. But we only come to understand such things when we have grasped how the eye relates to colour.

From what I have told you on other days, you will perhaps have seen that two things are most important to the human being. Two things are most important in the whole of his organism. The first of these is the blood. For if human beings had no blood they would have to die immediately. They would not be able to renew their life moment by moment, and life has to be renewed moment by moment. So if you think of a body without blood, the human being is a dead object. But also if you think the nerves away. The person might look exactly the way he does now, but he would have no conscious awareness; he would not be able to have ideas, to feel, would not be able to move. So we must say to ourselves that man needs nerves if he is to have conscious awareness. He needs blood to be able to live at all. The blood is therefore the organ of life; the nerves are the organs of the conscious mind.

Every organ has both nerves and blood, however. Basically the human eye is really a whole human being, with nerves and blood. It is like this—if you think of this as the place where the eye emerges from the head [Fig. 6], there are small blood vessels present everywhere in it. Many small blood vessels spread out there. And many nerves also spread there. So you see, you have nerves and blood flow in your hand and also in your head. The situation in the eye is like this. Just think, the outside world, which is illuminated, acts on the eye. You see, you find it easiest to get an idea of the outside world when it is illuminated. And during the day the outside world in which you walk about is illuminated. But it is difficult to get an idea of this whole illuminated outside world. You get a true idea of it if you visualize it in the morning or evening half light, when you see the red dawn or dusk all around you. The red dawn or dusk are particularly instructive.

eye stalk
Figure 6

What exactly are the red dawn or dusk? Think of a sunrise [Fig. 7]. The sun is coming up. When the sun is coming up it can not yet shine on you directly. I am drawing the apparent process, as we see it. In reality the earth is moving and the sun is standing still, but it does not matter here. So the sun first sends its rays here, and then here. If you are standing there, you do not see the sun at dawn but the illuminated clouds. There are some clouds. And the light is really sitting on those clouds.

eye stalk
Figure 7

Well, gentlemen, what is this, really? It it is very instructive. The sun has not yet come up completely and so it is still dark here. All around you it is still dark and there, far away, are the clouds illuminated by the sun. Can you understand that? Standing here you are thus looking through the darkness that surrounds you and seeing the illuminated clouds. You see light through darkness. We are thus able to say: 'At dawn—and it is the same at dusk—we see light through darkness. And light seen through darkness—you can see this in the rosy dawn or at dusk—is red.' Light seen through darkness is red. We may say, therefore: 'Seen through darkness, light looks red.' Light seen through darkness is red.

Now let me tell you something else. Imagine dawn has passed, it is daytime, and you are looking out into the open air, the way it is today. What do you see out there? You see the 'blue sky', as it is called. It is not actually there, but you do see it. It goes on and on into infinity, but you see it as if it were a blue shell around the earth. Why is that so?

Well, you only have to consider what it is like out there, in the far reaches of cosmic space. It is dark out there. The wide reaches of the cosmos are dark. The sun is shining only on to the earth, and because there is air around the earth the sun's rays are caught and create light here [drawing], especially if they shine through watery air. So if you stand here in the daytime, looking out into the dark, you should really be seeing black. But you do not see black but blue, because the sun is illuminating it all around. The air and the water in the air are illuminated.

So then you quite clearly see darkness through light. You look through the light, through the illumination, into the darkness. We are thus able to say: 'Darkness seen through light is blue.'

There you have two of the basic laws in the theory of colour, and you can easily discover them in the world around you. If you really understand the red dawn and dusk, you'll say to yourself: 'Light seen through darkness is red.' If you look out into the black space of heaven in the daytime, you'll say to yourself: 'Darkness seen through light—seeing it is light all around you—is blue.'

You see, this perfectly natural way of looking at these things is something people always had until they became 'clever'. This view—that light through darkness is red, darkness through light is blue—was held by the ancients over there in Asia, when they were still as clever as I have told you on a recent occasion. The ancient Greeks still held this view. People still held it all through the Middle Ages, until they became clever; until about the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth century. And when they grew clever they began to consider things no longer in their natural way but thought up all kinds of artificial sciences. One man who thought up a particularly artful science of the colours was an Englishman called Newton.10Newton, Isaac (1642-1727), English mathematician and natural philosopher. See Steiner, R., Goethean Science (GA lc), tr. W. Lindemann, Spring Valley: Mercury Press 1988. Being very clever—you know how I use the term 'clever' now, which is in a completely serious way—being very clever, Newton said something like the following. If we look at the rainbow—for of course, if you are a clever man, you don't look at everyday things like dawn and dusk, when you get clever you look at especially rare things, things one should only understand when one has progressed a bit—well now, Newton therefore said: 'Let us look at the rainbow. We see seven colours in the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.' These are the seven colours one sees in this order in the rainbow [writing them up]. Looking at a rainbow you can easily distinguish these seven colours.

Newton made an artificial rainbow by darkening the room, covering the window with dark paper and making a small hole in the paper. This gave him a very narrow strip of light. Into this strip of light he put something we call a prism. It is a triangular piece of glass, looking like this [Fig. 8]. And he put a screen behind it. So he had the window there, with the hole, this small stream of light, the prism, and behind it the screen. And a rainbow appeared on the screen in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet—all these colours. What did Newton say to himself? Newton said to himself: 'There the white light is coming in; the prism gives me the seven colours of the rainbow. The seven colours of the rainbow are therefore contained in the white light and I only need to lure them out.' You see, that is the simplest explanation. You explain something by saying it is already present in something from which I then draw it out.

eye stalk
Figure 8

He should really have said to himself: 'Because I am not putting a regular plate of glass [opposite to the screen] but a prism, which has a surface at an acute angle like this, light is made red by darkness on one side, as I look at it. The red colour appears, and on the other side darkness is made blue by light, and the blue appears. And then there are various stages in between.' That is what he should have said to himself.

But at that time the way things went in the world always was that if one wanted to explain something one would look for all of it in the thing out of which one really ought to explain it. You'll agree that is the simplest way of doing it. So to explain how a human being comes into existence, one says: 'Well, he's already there in the egg in his mother, and he merely develops from this.' That is a fine way of explaining things, saying [gap in text]. We do not have it so easy, as you've seen. We have to involve the whole of cosmic space, and this then develops the egg from the mother. But modern science seeks to [gap in text]. Newton thus said: 'The sun already has all the colours in it, we only have to draw them out.'

But that is not at all the way it is. To produce the red colour at dawn, the sun must first shine on the clouds, and we must see the red through the darkness. And if the sky is to appear blue, this does not come from the sun at all, for the sun does not shine into it. It is black there, dark; and we see the blue through the earth's air which is filled with light. So in that case we see darkness through light and that is blue. What this means is that we should use proper physics; then people would see how with a prism you see light through darkness on one side, and darkness through light on the other. But they cannot be bothered. They find it best to say: 'Everything is in there in the light, and you just draw it out.' In that case we may also say: 'There was a huge egg once in the world, and the whole world was inside it, and we draw everything from that.' That is what Newton did with the colours. But in reality we can always see the secret of the colours perfectly well if we rightly understand the red dawn and the blue of the sky.

We must now go on and consider the whole thing in relation to the human eye and to human life as a whole. You all know that there is a creature that gets especially excited by red, that is, light acting through darkness. This is the bull. It is known that bulls get terribly excited if they see red. So that is one thing you know. And man also has a bit of bull nature in him. He does not get immediately excited on seeing red, but you will notice right away that someone who is living in a red light all the time does get a bit excited. He becomes a little bit bull-like. I have actually known poets who could not write poetry when their bodies were in their ordinary condition. They would always go and sit in rooms where the lamps had red shades. Afterwards they'd be excited and able to write poetry. Well now, a bull goes wild; and man may even grow poetic in this way, by exposing himself to red. It only depends on whether one does it from the outside or the inside, this livening up to write poetry! So that is the situation on the one hand.

On the other hand you'll also know that when people who understand such things want to make others who do not understand them especially tame, really humble, they use the colour blue, or the colour black, actually black. In the Roman Catholic Church, for example, when people are meant to grow humble in Advent, the church and above all the vestments are in blue. People grow tame, humble. A person then enters into an inner mood of humility. Especially if he has first been raging like a bull, which might have been the case during the carnival, for example; the proper Lenten fast is made to follow, with not just dark vestments [but actually] black vestments. The person then grows tame, having had his fling. Only the Lenten fast should be twice as long in an area where they in fact have two carnival Sundays. I don't know if that actually happens.11Reference to the town of Basel, where the carnival is held on a different date from elsewhere. People living there might therefore celebrate two carnivals. But you see from this that it has quite a different effect on people if they perceive light through darkness, i.e. red, or darkness through light, which is blue.

Consider the eye. You have nerves and blood in there. When the eye looks at something red, let us say at the dawn, or anything that is red, what does it experience? You see, when the eye looks at something red, red light passes through these very tiny blood vessels in the eye. And this red light has the peculiar property that it always destroys the blood a little bit. It destroys the nerve as well, for the nerve is only able to live if it is supplied with blood. When the eye comes up against the colour red, when the red comes in, the blood in the eye is always a little bit destroyed, and the nerve too. The bull simply feels, as it sees the colour red: 'Heavens! All the blood in my head is being destroyed! I have to do something to defend myself against this!' So it goes wild, for it does not wish to have its blood destroyed.

Well, this is a very good thing, however, if not for the bull perhaps, but certainly for people and other animals. For if we look at the colour red and our blood is a little bit destroyed, the body will on its part take action and see to it that we get a better supply of oxygen to the eye, so that the blood may be restored again.

Consider the marvellous process that takes place here. When light is seen through darkness, and therefore the colour red, blood is destroyed at first, oxygen is drawn from the body and the eye vitalized with the oxygen. We then know from the way we ourselves get lively in the eye that there is red out there. But if we are to perceive this red, the blood in the eye must first be destroyed a little bit, and the nerve must be destroyed. We have to send life into the eye, that is, send oxygen into it. And from the way our own eye comes alive, from the way it wakes up, we realize that there is red out there.

Now you see, this ability human beings have to perceive light that has turned red, always being able to take in light that has turned red, is really also the basis for their health. For the oxygen taken up from the body will vitalize the whole body, and people will get a healthy colour in their cheeks. They can really come alive.

This is the case not only for someone whose eye is healthy and who is able to see but also for someone whose eye is not healthy and who cannot see. For light is active in bright colours; man then comes alive in his head, and this vitalizing process will in turn affect the whole organism and give it a healthy colour.

It is certainly important, therefore, not to have people grow up in dark rooms where they might become dead and humble, but to let them grow up in bright rooms with red and yellow colour tones. With the help of the light they will then use the oxygen they have inside them to good effect. You can see from this that anything connected with the colour red really has to do with the development of the blood in human beings. The nerve is really destroyed when we perceive the colour red.

Now think of seeing darkness through light, that is, we see blue. The darkness does not destroy our blood; darkness leaves the blood intact. The nerve also remains intact, because its blood is unaffected. The consequence is that the person feels really well and at ease in himself. He feels really well inside because the blue does not attack his blood and nerves. And people are made humble in a way that is really quite crafty. For if the priests are up there at the altar in their blue vestments, or black vestments, and people are sitting below, looking at them all the time, then the blue vestments do not destroy the small blood vessels and the nerves in the eye, and they will, of course, feel terribly good in there. It is really calculated to make people feel good. Don't think they do not know this! For they do still have the old knowledge. More recent knowledge has only come when people were enlightened, as enlightened as Newton, for example.

We are thus able to say: 'Blue is the colour that makes people feel at ease inside,' so that they say to themselves—all of this is unconscious, but they say to themselves inwardly: 'It is good to live in this blue.' They sense themselves inwardly, whilst if the colour is red they feel as if something is entering into them. For blue we might say that the nerve remains intact, and the body sends its feeling of well-being into the eye and thus into the whole body.

Light through darkness = red
Blood destroyed. Oxygen drawn in from the body, with the eye vitalized

Darkness through light = blue
Nerve left intact and body sending feeling of well-being into the eye

You see, that is the difference between blue colours and red colours. Yellow is just a gradation of red, and green a gradation of blue. We are thus able to say that depending on whether nerve or blood is active in a human being, he will be sentient more of red or more of blue.

You see, this can be applied to pigments. So if I want to try and produce a proper red, a red colour for painting, I must produce paint containing substances which stimulate human beings to produce oxygen inside. Bit by bit we then discover that one actually gets red pigment for painting if one tries to find out how much carbon the different materials in the outside world contain. If I use carbon together with other substances in the right way, I discover the secret of getting the colour I use for my painting to be red. So if I use plant materials to produce paints,12Vegetable paints were produced in a specially set up laboratory, using methods suggested by Rudolf Steiner, and used for the paintings in the two domes of the First Goetheanum. In the 1930s, the Anthea Institute of Vegetable Paint Research in Domach produced and sold 16 colours and a medium. In recent years, vegetable paints have been produced again at the Vegetable Paint Workshop at the Goetheanum. it is above all important to organize the processes I use—grinding, burning, etc.—in such a way that I then have carbon in the paint in the right way. If I have carbon in it in the right way I get a light, reddish colour. On the other hand if I have materials that contain a lot of oxygen—not carbon, therefore, but oxygen—and I succeed in getting the oxygen into it as oxygen, I get darker colours such as blue.

If I perceive the living principle in the plant, I can truly produce the paints I need from it.

Just imagine I take a sunflower. It is very yellow, and therefore light in colour. Yellow is close to red-light seen through darkness. Now if I treat a sunflower in such a way that I somehow get the proper process that exists in the flower also into my artist's paint, I'll have a good yellow that will stand up well to external light. For the sunflower has stolen the secret of producing yellow from the sun. And if I manage to get the process which exists in the sunflower into my paint, and manage to get it thick enough, I can properly use yellow in my painting.

If I take another plant, a chicory flower, for example, which is blue—it's a blue flower that grows by the wayside; it grows in this area as well—if I have this blue plant and want to produce a pigment for painting from its flower, I find I cannot do it. It will not give me anything. [It will give me something], however, if I process the root in a suitable way; the process which actually makes the flower blue is in there.

If there is yellow in a flower, the yellow is produced in the flower itself. But if there is blue in the flower, the process is located in the root and merely pushes up into the flower from there. So in that case I have to use the root of the indigo plant, which gives me a darker blue, or of chicory, that blue flower. I have to treat it chemically until it yields a blue pigment for me.

In this way I can really study and work out how I may get the pigments from the plants. I cannot do this by following Newton who simply said: 'Ah well, it's all there in the sunlight; I only have to draw it out.' This would at most apply only to a purse. My purse must have all the money in it in the morning that I'll need to spend in the course of the day. This is how the really clever people imagine it to be, like a bag with everything inside it. But that is not the way it is.

You have to know, for instance, how the yellow is in the sunflower or in the dandelion. You have to know how the blue is in the chicory. The processes that produce chicory or indigo blue are located in the root; the processes that make the sunflower or the dandelion flower yellow lie in the flower itself. And so I must develop a live chemistry in which I imitate the flower processes of plants to get light colours and the root processes of plants to obtain dark colours.

You see, what I have been telling you is something that real common sense can discover. This business with the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet of the rainbow, on the other hand, is not something real, fundamentally speaking.

Now the historical event was as follows. In Goethe's lifetime everyone was already believing what Newton had taught: the sun is a big sack, and the seven colours, as they are called, are inside it. You only need to tease them out, and there you have them. Everyone believed that. It was taught then and is still taught today.

Goethe was someone who would not believe everything right away. He always wanted to see the things everyone was taught for himself. People generally say they do not believe in authority, but when it comes to believing in the things taught at the universities they are terribly apt to believe in authority today, believing everything they are taught. Goethe was not prepared to accept things just like that. He therefore borrowed the apparatus used to prove this—a prism or similar apparatus—from Jena University. He clearly thought of doing himself what the professors generally demonstrate, and see for himself how it was.

As it was, Goethe did not immediately find time for this, and kept the apparatus for quite a long while without getting round to using it. And then court counsellor Büttner,13Büttner, Christian William, naturalist and linguist, professor in Göttingen, court counsellor living in Jena, had lent his optical instruments to Goethe. Goethe told the story in the chapter 'author's confession' in Materialien zur Geschichte der Farblehre (material relating to the history of the theory of colour) (eighteenth century) in vol. 4, section 2 of Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften in Kurschner's National- Litteratur. who wanted to use the apparatus, ran out of patience and asked for the apparatus to be collected. Goethe then said: Now I must have a quick go at this!' He did at least look through the prism as he was packing it up. He said to himself: 'That white wall over there must appear in glorious rainbow colours when I look through it; instead of white there should be red, yellow, green and so on.' So he looked through the prism, looking forward to the colour display, but saw nothing. The wall was as white as ever, simply white. This really surprised him. 'What is behind this?' he asked himself. And you see, this was the beginning of his whole theory of colour. He said: 'I must check the whole thing again. The ancients said: light seen through darkness is red, darkness seen through light is blue. If I vary the red a bit it will be yellow; if I enhance the blue all the way to red, the blue will be green in one direction and violet in the other. These are gradations.' He then developed his theory of colour, and made it better than it had been in medieval times.

And so we now have a physicists' theory of colour with the sack from which the seven colours come, a theory that is taught everywhere, and we have Goethe's theory of colour, where the blue of heaven is properly understood, the red sky at dawn and at night is properly understood, as I have explained it to you just now.

But there is one particular difference between Newton's and Goethe's theories of colour.14It has to be remembered that the things said about the rainbow, which in themselves were only brief indications, were taken down imperfectly in shorthand, leaving gaps. In Goethe's theory of colour edited by Rudolf Steiner and published as part of Kürschner's National-Litteratur in 1897, the comment on Goethe's statement concerning the rainbow reads: 'The rainbow is a case of refraction, perhaps the most complex of all, with reflection involved as well. The light must pass through the drop, i.e. it is broken (refraction), but must then come back to us who are between the sun and the drop, i.e. it must be reflected.' Band V, S. 329 ff. in the German edition. Other people do not notice it at first, for they are following the physicists. They are taught Newton's theory of colour, which is printed in all the books. One can feel very clever as one pictures the way the red, orange, yellow, green and so on appear in a rainbow. But you see, the situation is that there isn't a prism anywhere! But people don't think about that [gap in text]. The Newtonians themselves are aware of this, but they don't admit it even to themselves. For as you look through the rain on the one side, you see the darkness through sunlit rain, you see the blue part of the rainbow on that side. But then one also sees the area in front where light is seen through darkness, and so on the other side one sees the red. So you must explain everything according to one and the same principle—light through darkness is red, darkness through light is blue.

But, as I said, on the one hand people see things the way the physicists explain it to them, and on the other hand they look at paintings produced with pigments. But now they don't ask how it happens that there is red and yellow and so on, they do not put the two things together.

Well, gentlemen, a painter must put the two together. Anyone who wants to paint must put them together. He must not only know: there's a sack, with all the colours in it—for he does not have that sack, nowhere does he have it. But he must find the right way of getting the pigment he needs from the living plant or other living matter, so that he can mix his colours in the right way, he must understand [gap in text]. And so the situation today is that painters really think about these things. There are of course also painters who do not think but just buy their paints. But the painters who think about the way one gets the pigments and how they may use them, they will say: 'Yes, Goethe's theory of colour is something one can work with. It means something to us. As painters we cannot do anything with Newton's theory of colour, the physicists' theory of colour.' The general populace do not put the two things—painting and the physical theory of colour—together, but the painter does! And he'll therefore love Goethe's theory of colour. A painter will say to himself: 'Dear me, those physicists—we don't bother with them. They talk of things in their own field. Let them do what they like. We stick to the old view and to Goethe's theory of colour.' Painters see themselves as artists and do not really think they should intervene in the theories developed by physicists. It would take an effort, and they would meet with opposition, and so on.

That is how things are today with what the books say about colours and the truth of the matter. Goethe simply had to defend the truth, and this drove him to rebel against Newton's physics and the whole of modern physics. And one can have no real understanding of nature without also arriving at Goethe's theory of colour. And so it is of course perfectly natural to have Goethe's theory of colour defended at a Goetheanum. But if you do not limit yourself to some sphere of religion or ethics but dare to intervene in the different subjects in physics, you'll have the whole gang of physicists after you.

So you see, defending the truth is really extraordinarily difficult in our time. But just try and consider the complicated way in which present-day physicists explain the blue colour of the sky! Now of course, if I start from the wrong premise and want to explain such a simple thing as that the blackness of space appears blue if seen through light, I have to produce a terribly complicated explanation. And as to the red sky at dawn or at night! The chapters usually begin by saying: 'Yes, the blue of heaven cannot really be explained today; one might, however, imagine one thing or another.' Yes, the way physicists think of the small hole through which they let light enter into the room, using darkness to examine the light, all this cannot explain even the simplest thing. And so it has come about that people no longer understand anything about colour at all.

If one understands that destruction of the blood and exactly because of this vitalization [gap in text]—for if I have blood destroyed by the light in me I call up all the oxygen I have in me, and I come alive, then human health arises. If I have darkness around me, or shades of blue all the time, well, then I want to vitalize myself all the time; I then vitalize myself too much and this very vitalization makes me grow pale, because I stuff myself with too much life. And so we can on the one hand understand the healthy ruddiness of a person from taking up oxygen, when the person really exposes himself to the light; and we can understand paleness as arising from continual carbon dioxide uptake. Carbon dioxide, the opposite of oxygen, wants to get into my head. And that makes me quite pale.

Today you have almost nothing but pale children in Germany for example. But it has to be realized that this comes from an excess of carbon dioxide. And when someone produces too much carbon dioxide—which is a compound of carbon and oxygen—he uses too much of the carbon in him to produce the carbon dioxide [Fig. 9]. So you then have all the carbon such a pale child has in him getting converted into carbon dioxide all the time. This makes him pale. What should I do? I must give him something that will prevent this endless carbon dioxide production inside him, so that the carbon will remain. I can do this by giving him a little calcium carbonate. This will stimulate his functions again—as I have told you before from a completely different point of view—and the individual then keeps the carbon he needs and does not convert it to carbon dioxide all the time. And because carbon dioxide consists of carbon and oxygen, the oxygen goes up to the head and vitalizes the head processes, the vital processes. If the oxygen is used up to make carbon dioxide, the vital functions are suppressed.

child with too much CO2
Figure 9

So if I take someone who is pale into a region where he gets a lot of light, he will be stimulated not to give his carbon up to carbon dioxide, because the light draws the oxygen up into the head. He'll then develop a healthy colour again. I can also use calcium carbonate to get this effect, so that I keep the oxygen and the individual has the oxygen available to him.

This is how one thing must relate to another. We must be able to understand health and sickness on the basis of the theory of colour. You can only do this if you use Goethe's theory of colour, for this simply fits in with the natural world in a natural way. You cannot use Newton's theory of colour for this, because it is just an invention and does not relate to the natural world at all. It cannot really explain the simplest things we see—the red sky at dawn and dusk and the blue sky.

There is something else I want to tell you. Think of the pastoral peoples of earlier times who drove their herds and slept in the open. In their sleep they were exposed not to the blue but to a dark sky. And stars beyond number were shining up there in the heavens. Imagine that dark sky therefore, with countless stars shining in it, and down below the sleeping human being. From the dark sky came a calming influence, and the people felt inwardly at ease in their sleep. The whole human being was penetrated by the darkness, growing inwardly calm. Sleep came from the darkness. But there were those stars shining on the people. And wherever a star's ray shone down, the human being became a little bit excited inside. Then a ray of oxygen would go out from the body. And the star rays were all met by rays of oxygen, with the human being having such oxygen rays running through every part of him. He then became an inner oxygen-mirror image of the whole starry firmament [Fig. 10].

The pastoral peoples of old thus took the whole of the starry heavens into their calmed bodies as though in images, images drawn by the rays of oxygen. They would then wake up. And they had the dream of those images. And this gave them their knowledge of the stars. They developed a marvellous science of the stars. They did not dream that the Ram was simply made up of so and so many stars, but they really saw the animal—the ram, the bull and so on—and so felt the whole of the starry heavens to be inside them in images. This has come down as poetic wisdom to us from those pastoral peoples, a wisdom which sometimes contains extraordinarily many things that can still teach us something today. And we can understand this if we know that the human being sends out a ray of oxygen to meet every ray of starlight, and becomes a whole heaven, an inner oxygen heaven.

man under starry firmament
Figure 10

The inner life of man is a life lived in the astral body, for in sleep he experiences the whole of the heavens. We would be in a sorry state if we had not descended from those pastoral peoples. All human beings are descended from ancient pastoral tribes. We still have an inner starry firmament today, purely by inheritance, to give us insight. We still develop this, though not as well as the ancients did, and in our sleep, lying in our beds, we still have a kind of memory of the way the herds people of old would lie in the fields and receive oxygen into themselves. We aren't pastoral people any more, but we still have something inherited, we still have something, though we cannot give it such beautiful expression because it has grown pale and dim. But the whole of humanity belongs together. And if we want to know the things which people still have in them today we must go back to those earlier times. All human beings everywhere on the earth have come from that pastoral state. And in their bodies they have inherited as much as has still come down to them from those pastoral ancestors.