IV. The Evolution of the Cosmos and Man
From the foregoing considerations it may be seen that the being of man is composed of four members: physical body, life body, astral body, and is composed of four members: physical body, life body, astral body, and the vehicle of the ego. The ego is active within the three other members and transforms them. Out of this transformation, at a lower level, are developed sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul. At a higher stage of human existence, spirit self, life spirit, and spirit man are formed. These members of the human being stand in the most manifold relationships to the whole cosmos and their evolution is bound up with cosmic evolution. By considering this cosmic evolution, an insight may be gained into the deeper mysteries of man's being.
It is evident that human life is related in the most diverse ways to its environment, to the dwelling place in which it evolves. By means of existing facts even external science has been forced to the opinion that the earth itself, this dwelling place of man in the most comprehensive sense, has undergone an evolution. It points to the conditions of earth existence in which the human being, in his present form, did not yet exist upon our planet. It shows how mankind has slowly and gradually evolved from simple states of civilization to the present conditions. Thus, science also has come to the opinion that a relationship exists between the evolution of man and that of his heavenly body, the earth.
Spiritual science1The term “spiritual science,” as is apparent from the context, is here synonymous with the terms “occult science” and “supersensible knowledge.” traces this relationship by means of knowledge that gathers its facts from perception sharpened by spiritual organs. It traces back the process of human development, and it becomes clear to it that the real inner spiritual being of man has passed through a series of lives upon this earth. Spiritual science thus reaches a point of time, lying far back in the remote past, when for the first time this inner being of man enters an external life in the present sense of the word. It was in this first earthly incarnation that the ego began to be active within the three bodies, astral body, life body, and physical body, and it then carried with it the fruits of this activity into the succeeding life.
If one goes back in one's consideration to this point of time, in the manner indicated, one then becomes aware that the ego meets with an earth condition in which the three bodies, physical body, life body, and astral body, are already developed and have already a certain connection. The ego unites for the first time with the being composed of these three bodies. From now on, it takes part in the further evolution of the three bodies. Heretofore, these bodies developed without this human ego up to the stage at which the ego came in touch with them.
Spiritual science must go still further back in its research, if it wishes to answer the following questions: How did the three bodies reach the stage of evolution at which they were able to receive an ego into themselves, and how did this ego itself come into existence and acquire the capacity to be active within these bodies?
An answer to these questions is only possible if one traces out the development of the earth planet itself, in the sense of spiritual science. By means of such research one arrives at the beginning of this earth planet. The mode of observation that relies merely upon the facts of the physical senses cannot come to conclusions that have anything to do with this beginning of the earth. A certain point of view, which makes use of such final conclusions, decides that all earthly substance has been formed out of a primeval mist. It cannot be the task of this work to enter into these ideas because for spiritual research it is a question of not merely considering the material processes of the earth's evolution, but chiefly of taking into account the spiritual causes lying behind matter. If we have before us a man who raises his hand, this raising of the hand can suggest two different ways of considering the act. We may investigate the mechanism of the arm and the rest of the organism and describe the process as it takes place purely in the realm of the physical. On the other hand, we may turn our spiritual attention to what is taking place in the human soul, to what constitutes the inner impulse of raising the hand. In a similar way the researcher, schooled by means of spiritual perception, sees spiritual processes behind all processes of the physical sense-world. For him, all transformations in the substances of the earth planet are manifestations of spiritual forces lying behind these substances. If, however, this spiritual observation of the life of the earth goes further and further back, it comes to a point in evolution where all matter has its primal beginnings. Matter evolves out of the spiritual. Prior to this, only the spiritual exists. By means of this spiritual insight, the spiritual is perceived, and on further investigation it can be seen how this spiritual element in part condenses, so to speak, into matter. Here we have before us, on a higher level, a process that may be likened to what would take place if we were observing a container of water in which lumps of ice were gradually forming by means of ingeniously controlled refrigeration. Just as we see here ice condensing from what was formerly water, so also, through spiritual observation, we are able to trace out the manner in which material things, processes, and beings are condensed from an element that was formerly spiritual. — In this way the physical earth planet has evolved out of a spiritual cosmic being, and everything material connected with this earth planet has condensed out of what was spiritually bound up with it previously. We must not imagine, however, that at any time all that exists of a spiritual nature is transformed into matter, but in matter we have before us transformed parts only of the primeval spiritual substance. Moreover, also during the period of evolution of matter, the spiritual remains the directing and guiding principle. It is obvious that the mode of thought that restricts itself to the processes of the physical sense-world, and to what the intellect is able to infer from them, is incapable of giving information concerning the spiritual element in question. Let us imagine a being having only the senses that can perceive ice, not, however, the finer condition of water, out of which ice is formed by means of refrigeration. For such a being, water would be non-existent, and only when parts of this water had been transformed into ice would the water be at all perceptible to it. Thus the spiritual part lying behind the earth processes remains concealed to anyone who admits only what exists for the physical senses. If, from the physical facts he observes now in the present, he forms a correct conclusion concerning earlier conditions of the earth planet, he merely arrives at that point in evolution where a part of the preceding spiritual element condensed into matter. This method of observation perceives just as little of the preceding spiritual element as it does of the spiritual element that holds sway, also at the present time, invisibly behind the world of matter.
Only in the last chapters of this work shall we be able to speak of the paths upon which man must travel to acquire the capacity for looking back, with spiritual perception, at those earlier conditions of the earth under discussion here. Here we only wish to indicate that for spiritual research the facts even of the remote past have not disappeared. When a being reaches corporeal existence, the substance of his body disappears with his physical death. The spiritual forces that have expelled these corporeal elements from themselves do not “disappear” in the same way. They leave their impressions, their exact counterparts, behind in the spiritual foundations of the world, and he who, penetrating the visible world, is able to lift his perception into the invisible, is finally able to have before him something that might be compared with a mighty spiritual panorama, in which all past world-processes are recorded. These imperishable impressions of all that is spiritual may be called the “Akashic Record,” thus designating as the Akashic essence the spiritually permanent element in universal occurrences, in contradistinction to the transient forms of these occurrences. It must be repeated, once more, that research in the supersensible realms of existence can only be carried on with the help of spiritual perception, that is, in the realm with which we are now dealing, only by reading the above-mentioned “Akashic Record.” Yet what has already been said in earlier parts of this work in a similar connection applies here also. Supersensible facts can be investigated only by means of supersensible perception; if, however, they have been investigated and are communicated through the science of the supersensible, they may then be comprehended by ordinary thinking, provided this thinking is really unprejudiced. In the following pages, information concerning the evolution of the earth will be imparted from the standpoint of supersensible cognition. The transformations of our planet will be traced down to the condition of life in which we find it today. If a person observes what he has actually before him in pure sense-perception, and then grasps what supersensible cognition has to say in regard to the way in which what exists at the present time has been evolving since time immemorial, he is then able to say, if he really thinks impartially: in the first place, the information imparted by this form of cognition is thoroughly logical; in the second place, I can understand that things have become what they now are, if I admit the truth of what has been communicated through supersensible research. Naturally, when we speak of logic in this connection, we do not infer thereby that it is impossible for errors in logic to be contained in some presentation of supersensible research. We shall here speak of logic only as that word is used in the ordinary life of the physical world. Just as logical presentation is demanded in the physical world, even though the individual person presenting a range of facts may fall into logical error, so it is also the case in supersensible research. It may even happen that a researcher who has the power of perception in supersensible realms may fall into error in his logical presentation, and that someone who has no supersensible perception, but who has the capacity for sound thinking, may correct him. Essentially, however, there can be no objection to the logic employed in supersensible research. Moreover, it should be quite unnecessary to emphasize the fact that nothing can be charged against the facts themselves on purely logical grounds. Just as in the realm of the physical world it is never possible to prove logically the existence of a whale except by seeing one, so also the supersensible facts can be known only by means of spiritual perception. — It cannot, however, be sufficiently emphasized that it is necessary for the observer of supersensible realms first to acquire a view by means of the above-mentioned logic, before he tries to approach the spiritual world through his own perception. He must also recognize how comprehensible the manifest world of the senses appears when it is assumed that the communications of spiritual science are correct. All experience in the supersensible world remains an insecure, even dangerous, groping, if the above-mentioned preparatory path is ignored. Therefore in this work the supersensible facts of earth evolution are first communicated, before the path to supersensible knowledge itself is dealt with. — We must also consider the fact that anyone who finds his way purely through thinking into what supersensible cognition has to impart is not at all in the same position as someone who listens to the description of a physical process that he himself is unable to observe, since pure thinking is itself a supersensible activity. Thinking, as a sensory activity, cannot of itself lead to supersensible occurrences. If, however, this thinking be applied to the supersensible occurrences described by supersensible perception, it then grows through itself into the spiritual world. In fact, one of the best ways of acquiring one's own perception in the supersensible realm is to grow into the higher world by thinking about the communications of supersensible cognition, for, entrance into the higher realms in this way is accompanied by the greatest clarity of perception. For this reason a certain school of spiritual-scientific investigation considers this thinking the most excellent first stage of all spiritual-scientific training. — It should be quite comprehensible that in this book the way in which the supersensible finds its verification in the outer world is not described in all the details of earth evolution as it is perceived in spirit. That is not what was meant when it was said that the hidden is everywhere demonstrable by its visible effects. The idea is, rather, that whatever is encountered can become entirely clear and comprehensible to man, if the manifest processes are placed into the light afforded by spiritual science. Only in a few characteristic instances will reference be made in the following pages to a verification of the concealed by means of the manifest, in order to show how it can be done at any point in the course of practical life.
If we trace back the evolution of the Earth by means of the spiritual-scientific method of research mentioned above, we come to a spiritual state of our planet. If we continue still further back on our path of research, we find that this spiritual element previously existed in a sort of physical embodiment. Thus we come upon a past physical planetary state that later became spiritualized and then, later still, through repeated materialization, became transformed into our Earth. Our Earth appears, therefore, as a reincarnation of an ancient planet. But spiritual science is able to go still further back and it then discovers the whole process repeated twice more. This Earth of ours passed through three preceding planetary stages, and in between these stages there lie intermediate stages of spiritualization. The physical element appears ever more subtle, the further back we trace the Earth's incarnations.
One may ask: How can a sound power of thought accept the existence of world stages lying so far back in the past, such as these that are spoken of here? This is a natural objection to the descriptions that are to follow. Our reply is that for anyone who with understanding is able to see the present hidden spiritual element in what is revealed to the senses, an insight into the earlier evolutionary states, however remote, presents no impossibility. Only for someone who does not acknowledge this hidden spiritual element finds that, in his perception of the present stage, the earlier ones are also contained, just as in his perception of a man of fifty the one-year-old child is still contained. But, you may say, in the latter case you have before you, besides the man of fifty, one-year-old children and all the possible intermediate stages. That is true, but it is also true for the evolution of the spirit as it is meant here. Whoever has come to an objective understanding in this field sees also that in a comprehensive survey of the present, which includes the spiritual, the past evolutionary stages have really survived, alongside the perfected stages of present-day evolution, just as alongside a man of fifty, one-year-old children are present. Within the earthly events of the present, the primeval happenings of the past may be seen if we are but able to distinguish between these different successive stages of evolution.
In the form in which he is evolving at present man appears for the first time during the fourth of the planetary incarnations characterized above, the actual Earth itself. The essential nature of this form shows the human being to be composed of the four members: physical body, life body, astral body, and ego. Yet this form would not have been able to appear had it not been prepared through the preceding processes of evolution. This preparation took place because within the previous planetary incarnation there were beings evolving who already possessed three of the present four human members — the physical body, life body, and astral body. These beings, who in a certain sense may be called our human ancestors, did not yet possess an ego, but they developed these three other members and their inter-relationships to the degree that made them mature enough later on to receive the ego. Thus the human ancestor, in the previous planetary incarnation, reached a certain stage of maturity in his three members. This state passed over into a spiritual one and out of it a new physical planetary state developed, that of the Earth. Within this Earth, the matured human ancestors were present, as it were, in a germinal state. Because the entire planet had passed over into a spiritualized condition and had reappeared in a new form, it offered to the embryonic human entities contained within it, with their physical, life, and astral bodies, the opportunity not only of developing again to their previous level, but also the further possibility, after having attained this point, of reaching out beyond it through the reception of the ego. The Earth evolution, therefore, falls into two parts. In the first period, the Earth itself appears as a reincarnation of the previous planetary stage. This recapitulatory stage, however, stands at a higher level than that of the previous incarnation because of the intervening stage of spiritualization. The Earth now contains within itself the germinal nuclei of the human ancestors from the previous planet. These at first develop to their previous level; then, when they have attained this point, the first period is concluded, but because of its own higher stage of evolution, the Earth can now develop the nuclei still further, namely, by making them fit to receive the ego. The unfoldment of the ego within the physical, life, and astral bodies is characteristic of the second period of Earth evolution.
In this way, by means of the evolution of the Earth, man is brought a stage higher. This was also the case in the previous planetary incarnations, for even in the first of these incarnations some element of the human being was present. Therefore, light is shed upon the human being of the present if his evolution is traced back to the distant past of the very first of the planetary incarnations mentioned. — In supersensible research, the first of these planetary incarnations may be named Saturn, the second may be designated Sun, the third, Moon, and the fourth, Earth. It must be clearly understood, however, that these designations must not, at the outset, be associated with the same names that are used for the members of our present solar system. Saturn, Sun, and Moon are to be names for bygone evolutionary forms through which the Earth has passed. 2In order to make clear the difference between the designations of the Planetary Evolutions and our present planetary bodies, which bear the same names, the following system has been worked out. Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan printed in italics with initial capitals designate the great cosmic planetary cycles of evolution. In the Sun evolution, after the separation of the main cosmic body into two parts, the designation is Sun and Saturn, spelt with initial capitals, but not with italics. In the Moon evolution, when a separation takes place, the remaining main body is spelt Moon, with an initial capital, the separating planetary sun is spelt with small letter. In the Earth evolution, the separated planetary bodies are spelt as is customary, that is, the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury with initial capitals; sun, moon, earth with small letters. (Tr.) The relationship that these worlds of the ancient past hold to the heavenly bodies constituting the present solar system will appear in the course of the subsequent descriptions. It will then become clear why these names have been chosen.
The conditions of the four planetary incarnations mentioned can be described only in outline, because the processes and the beings and their destinies upon Saturn, Sun, and Moon are truly as manifold as upon the Earth itself. Therefore in our descriptions of these states only single characteristic points will be brought out that illustrate how the Earth's states have developed out of earlier ones. We must also consider the fact that the further back we go, the more do these states become dissimilar to those of the present. Yet in characterizing them, they can only be described by employing mental representations borrowed from present earthly relationships. When, for instance, we speak of light, heat, or other phenomena, in connection with these earlier states, we should not overlook the fact that we do not mean exactly what is meant by these words, light and heat, at the present time, and yet this terminology is correct, because for the observer of supersensible realms something appears in these earlier stages of evolution out of which the light and heat of the present have evolved. Those who follow the descriptions given here will indeed be well able to gather — from the connection in which these things are placed — what mental pictures are to be made in order to have characteristic images and symbols for things that have occurred in the distant, primeval past.
To be sure, these difficulties become especially significant for the planetary conditions that preceded the Moon incarnation, for, during this latter period, conditions prevailed that still show a certain similarity to earthly conditions. He who attempts to describe these conditions has in this similarity to the present a certain starting point for expressing in clear mental pictures the supersensibly acquired perceptions. It is a different matter when the evolution of Saturn and Sun are to be described. What presents itself there to clairvoyant observation is very different from the objects and beings belonging at present to the sphere of human life, and this dissimilarity makes it difficult to the highest degree to bring the ancient matters in question within the scope of supersensible consciousness. Since, however, the present being of man cannot be understood unless we go back as far as the Saturn state, the description must nevertheless be given. Surely such a description will not be misunderstood by the one who holds the existence of such difficulties in mind and who remembers that much of what is said must of necessity be considered more in the light of an allusion and a reference to the corresponding facts than as an exact description of them.
A contradiction might be found between what is given here and in the following pages, and what is said on page 109 concerning the continuation of the past into the present. One might imagine that nowhere does there exist, alongside the present Earth state, a previous Saturn, Sun, and Moon state, or even a human form such as is described in this exposition as having existed in these earlier stages. It is true that Saturn human beings, Sun and Moon human beings do not move about side by side with Earth humanity in the same way as three-year-old children move about alongside fifty-year-old men and women, but within the earthly human being the previous states of humanity are supersensibly perceptible. In order to know this we must have acquired the power of discrimination and extend it to include the full scope of the conditions of life. The three-year-old child exists alongside the fifty-year-old man; similarly, the corpse, the sleeping, and the dreaming human being exist alongside the living, waking Earth man. Although these various forms of existence of the being of man — as they are at present — do not directly correspond to the various stages of evolution, nevertheless a genuine perception sees in such forms of manifestation these various evolutionary stages.
Of the present four members of the being of man, the physical body is the oldest. It is also the member that, in its own way, has attained the greatest perfection. Supersensible research shows that this human member was already in existence during the Saturn evolution. It will be seen in the course of this description that the form, however, which this physical body possessed upon Saturn was something quite different from the present human physical body. This earthly human physical body can only maintain its existence by reason of its connection with the life body, astral body, and ego, described in the preceding parts of this book. Such a connection did not yet exist upon Saturn. At that time the physical body passed through its first stage of evolution without having a human life body, astral body, or ego inserted into it. During the Saturn evolution it gradually matured so as to be able to receive a life body. To this end, Saturn had first to pass over into a spiritual state and then reincarnate as the Sun. During the Sun incarnation, what had become the physical body on Saturn unfolded again, as though from a germ of a past evolution, and only then could it draw into itself an etheric body. Through this insertion of an etheric body, the physical body changed its character. It was raised to a second degree of perfection. A similar thing occurred during the Moon evolution. The human ancestor, having evolved from the Sun to the Moon, received into himself the astral body, and thus the physical body became changed a third time; that is, it was raised to the third degree of its perfection. Moreover, the life body was likewise changed, and it stood now in the second stage of its perfection. Upon the Earth the ego was added to the human ancestor consisting of physical body, life body, and astral body. The physical body thereby reached its fourth degree of perfection, the life body its third, the astral body its second; the ego stands only in its first stage of existence.
If we give ourselves up to an unprejudiced examination of the human being, there will be no difficulty in correctly picturing these various degrees of perfection of the individual members. We need only in this connection compare the physical body with the astral. Certainly it is true that the astral body, as a soul member, stands at a higher stage of evolution than the physical body, and when, in the future, the astral body will have perfected itself, it will have a much greater significance for the entire being of man than the present physical body. Still in its own way the physical body has reached a certain climax of evolution. In this connection one need but think of the structure of the heart, organized in accordance with the greatest wisdom, the marvellous structure of the brain and other organs, even that of an individual portion of a bone, for example, that of the upper part of the thigh bone, the great trochanter. There is within the end of this bone a net-like or trestle-like structure of delicate bony fibers, formed in harmony with the laws of mechanics. The whole is fitted together in such a manner that, with the least amount of material, the most advantageous effect on the articular surfaces is attained, for example, the most suitable distribution of friction and as a result a proper kind of mobility. Thus in the various parts of the human body structures are to be found full of wisdom, and if we consider further the harmonious co-operation between the parts and the whole, we shall certainly find that it is correct to speak of the particular perfection of this member of the human being. In this connection, the fact that in certain parts of the physical body seemingly inadequate phenomena may appear, or that disturbances may arise either in the structure or in the functions, is of no importance. We shall even be able to discover that these disturbances are, in a certain sense, only the necessary shadow side of the wisdom-filled light that is shed over the entire physical organism. Now compare with this the astral body as the bearer of joy and sorrow, of desire and passion. Oh, what insecurity reigns in this body in respect of joy and sorrow, what desires and passions are enacted within it, often meaningless and running counter to higher human purposes! The astral body is only in process of acquiring the harmony and inner completeness that we already find in the physical body. In like manner it is possible to show that the ether body, in its way, appears more perfect than the astral body, but less perfect than the physical body, and an adequate consideration will prove that the essential kernel of the human being, the ego, stands at present only at the beginning of its evolutions. For how much has this ego already accomplished of its task of transforming the other members of man's being in such a manner that they be a manifestation of its own nature? What results from external observation in this direction is made more acute for those who understand spiritual science by means of something else. One may quote the fact that the physical body can be overtaken by sickness. Spiritual science is in the position to show that a great part of all sicknesses originates from the fact that the perversity and mistakes of the astral body are transmitted to the etheric body, and in a roundabout way through the latter destroy the complete harmony of the physical body. The deeper connection which can only be touched upon here, and the actual cause of many disease processes elude the scientific mode of observation that confines itself only to physical sensory facts. In most cases it happens that the damaging of the astral body does not produce pathological tendencies of the physical body in the same life in which the damage has occurred, but only in a subsequent one. Therefore, the laws that apply here have a meaning only for those who are able to acknowledge the repetition of human life on earth, but even if there is no desire to gain such deeper knowledge, yet the ordinary view of life shows that the human being indulges himself altogether too much in enjoyments and desires that undermine the harmony of the physical body. Pleasure, desire, passion do not reside in the physical, but in the astral body, and this is in many respects still so imperfect that it can destroy the perfection of the physical body. — We wish to call attention to the fact that no attempt is made here to prove by such arguments the statements of spiritual science concerning the evolution of the four members of man's being. The proofs are taken from spiritual research, and this shows that the physical body has passed through a fourfold metamorphosis on to higher degrees of perfection, and that the other human members, as already described, have undergone fewer transformations. We only wished to point out that these communications of spiritual research relate to facts the effects of which show also in the outwardly observable degrees of perfection of the physical, life, and astral bodies.
If we wish to form an approximately accurate pictorial idea of the conditions during the Saturn evolution, we must take into consideration the fact that during that period essentially nothing existed of the things and creatures that belong at present to the earth, and are counted among the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. The beings of these three kingdoms only came into existence in later periods of evolution. Of the present physically visible earth beings, only man existed at that time, and only that part of him, the physical body, as already described. At the present time, not only do these beings of the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms belong to the earth, but there are also other beings who do not manifest in a physical body. These beings were also present during the Saturn evolution, and their activity on Saturn as a sphere of action resulted in the subsequent evolution of man.
If one directs the spiritual organs of perception, not to the beginning and the end, but to the middle evolutionary period of this Saturn incarnation, a state appears consisting chiefly of “heat.” No gaseous, fluid, or solid elements are to be found there. All these conditions only appear in later cosmic incarnations. Let us imagine a human being with his present sense organs approaching this Saturn world as an observer. He would then experience none of the sense-impressions of which he is capable, except the sensation of heat. On reaching the space occupied by Saturn, he would only perceive that it had a condition of heat different from the rest of the surrounding space. He would not find this space uniformly warm throughout, but would find hot and cold regions alternating in the most varied manner. Heat would be perceived radiating according to certain lines, not straight lines, but in irregular forms, produced by the variations in heat. He would have before him something like an organized cosmic being, appearing in ever changing states, consisting only of heat.
For man of the present day it must be difficult to imagine something that consists only of heat, since he is not accustomed to recognize heat as something in itself, but to perceive it only in connection with hot or cold gaseous, fluid, or solid bodies. Especially the man who has acquired the ideas of modern physics will look upon the above way of speaking about heat as pure nonsense. He will perhaps say that there are solid, fluid, and gaseous bodies; heat, however, denotes only the condition in which any one of these three bodily forms finds itself. When the smallest particles of a gas are in motion, this motion is perceived as heat. Where there is no gas, there can be no such motion, therefore also no heat. — The matter appears quite different to the researcher in spiritual science. For him, heat is something about which he can speak in the same sense he can speak of a gas, of a fluid, or of a solid body; it is for him only a substance still finer than gas, and gas is to him nothing else than condensed heat, in the same sense that a fluid is a condensed vapor, or a solid body a condensed fluid. Thus the spiritual scientist speaks of heat bodies just as he speaks of gaseous and vaporous bodies. — If someone wishes to follow the spiritual researcher into this realm, it is only necessary to grant that there exists spiritual perception. In the given world of the physical senses, heat exists entirely as a state of a solid, a fluid, or gaseous body. This condition, however, is only the external aspect of heat, or its effect. The physicists speak only of this effect of heat, not of its inner nature. Let us try to disregard all effects of heat that we receive through external objects, and picture to ourselves only our inner experience when we say, “I feel warm,” “I feel cold.” This inner experience can alone give us an idea of the Saturn state at the period of its development described above. It would have been possible to pass through the whole of the space occupied by Saturn without finding any sort of gas that could exert pressure, or any sort of solid or fluid body from which we could receive an impression of light. But in every point in space, without any impression from outside, we would have had the inner feeling that here there exists this or that degree of heat.
In a cosmic body of such a character there are no conditions suitable for the animals, plants, and minerals of the present time. (It is, therefore, hardly necessary to state that what has just been described could never occur. A man of today, as such, cannot confront ancient Saturn as an observer. The exposition was only to serve as an illustration.) The beings of whom supersensible cognition becomes conscious while observing Saturn, were at a stage of evolution quite different from the present, sensorily-perceptible earth beings. Before this faculty of cognition beings appear who did not possess a physical body like that of present-day man. When we speak here of “physical body,” we must be careful not to think of the physical corporeality as it exists today. Rather, we must differentiate carefully between the physical body and the mineral body. A physical body is one that is ruled by physical laws observed today in the mineral kingdom. The present human physical body is not only ruled by these physical laws, but it is also permeated by mineral substance. It is impossible to speak of a physical-mineral body of this kind on ancient Saturn. At that time there existed only a physical corporeality governed by physical laws, but these physical laws manifested themselves only through heat effects. Thus the physical body was a fine, attenuated, etheric heat body, and the whole of Saturn consisted of these heat bodies. They were the first germinal beginnings of the present physical-mineral body of man. The latter fashioned itself out of the heat body as a result of the insertion into it of gaseous, fluid, and solid matter, which only came into existence later on. Among the beings perceived by supersensible consciousness when it becomes aware of the Saturn state and who, besides man, may be called inhabitants of Saturn, are those, for example, who have no need at all of a physical body. The lowest vehicle of these beings was an ether body; they had, however, besides this a higher member that transcended all the human vehicles. Man has as highest member spirit man. These beings have a still higher member, and between the ether body and spirit man they have all the members described in this book as belonging also to human beings: astral body, ego, spirit self, and life spirit. Just as our earth is surrounded by a sphere of air — an atmosphere — so was it also on Saturn, only this “atmosphere” was of a spiritual character. 3Instead of saying, “Saturn was surrounded by an atmosphere,” a precise mode of speech, in order to express exactly the inner experience of spiritual research, would have to say, “In becoming conscious of Saturn by means of supersensible cognition, this consciousness is confronted by a Saturn atmosphere,” or, “by beings of this or that sort.” The use of the expression: “this or that is present,” must be permitted, for this is also the usage employed for the actual soul experience in sensory perception, but we are obliged to keep this in mind in the following exposition; it already follows from the context. It consisted of the beings just mentioned and still others. Between the heat bodies of Saturn and these beings there was a constant reciprocal action. The latter submerged the members of their being into the physical heat bodies of Saturn and, although there was no life in these heat bodies themselves, the life of the beings in their environment was expressed, in them. They might be compared to mirrors, only it was not the images of the beings in question that were mirrored, but their life-conditions. Nothing living could have been discovered on Saturn itself, but through its activity Saturn vitalized the surrounding heavenly space by reflecting back, like an echo, the life sent down to it. The whole of Saturn appeared like a mirror of celestial life. Certain exalted beings whose life was radiated back by Saturn may be called “Spirits of wisdom.” (In Christian Esotericism they bear the name “Kyriotetes” or “Dominions.”) Their activity on Saturn does not begin with the middle period of its evolution just described, in fact, it had then already ceased. Before they had reached the ability to become conscious of the reflection of their own life from the heat bodies of Saturn, they had to develop these bodies to the point of being able to effect this reflection. Therefore their activity began soon after the beginning of the Saturn evolution. At that time the bodily nature of Saturn still consisted of chaotic substance that was unable to reflect anything — By considering this chaotic substance, one has transplanted oneself through spiritual perception to the beginning of the Saturn evolution. What is observable there does not yet bear sequent heat character. If we wish to characterize it, it is only possible to speak of a quality that may be compared with the human will. It is will, through and through. Thus we have to do here entirely with a soul state. If we wish to trace back the source of this will, we find that it originates from the emanations of exalted beings who brought their development, in stages that can only be divined, to such a height that they were able, when the evolution of Saturn began, to pour forth the will from their own being. After this emanation had lasted for a time, the activity of the already mentioned Spirits of Wisdom unites with the will. Thus will, previously wholly without attributes, now gradually acquires the ability to reflect life back into cosmic space. — These beings, who experience their supreme bliss in pouring forth will out of themselves at the beginning of the Saturn evolution, may be called the “Spirits of Will.” (In Christian esotericism they are called “Thrones.”) — After a certain stage of the Saturn evolution has been reached through the co-operation of will and life there begins the activity of other beings who are likewise present in the environment of Saturn. They may be called the ”Spirits of Motion.” (In Christian esotericism , “Dynameis,” or “Powers.”) They have no physical or ether body, but their lowest vehicle is the astral body. When the Saturn bodies have acquired the ability to reflect life, this reflected life is in a condition to be permeated with the qualities that reside in the astral bodies of the Spirits of Motion. The result of this is that it appears as though the manifestations of sensation and feeling and similar soul activities were flung out into celestial space from Saturn. The whole of Saturn appears like an ensouled being, manifesting sympathies and antipathies. These manifestations of soul-qualities, however, are in no way its own, but only the flung-back soul activities of the Spirits of Motion. — After this state has lasted a certain length of time, there begins the activity of still other beings that may be called the “Spirits of Form.” Their lowest member is also an astral body, but it stands at a stage of development different from that of the Spirits of Motion. Whereas these latter communicate only general expressions of feeling to the reflected life, the activity of the astral body of the Spirits of Form (in Christian esotericism, “Exusiai,” or “Authorities,”) is of such a nature that the expressions of feeling are flung back into cosmic space as though from individual beings. One might say that the Spirits of Motion cause Saturn as a whole to appear like an ensouled being. The Spirits of Form divide this life into individual living beings, so that Saturn now appears like an agglomeration of such soul beings. — In order to have a picture of this state, imagine a mulberry or a blackberry, and note how it is composed of small individual parts. For the observer of the spiritual world, Saturn, in the period of evolution just described, is similarly composed of a number of Saturn entities that, to be sure, do not possess a life and soul of their own, but that reflect the life and soul of the beings dwelling in them. — In this state of Saturn, beings now intervene who likewise have the astral body as their lowest member, but who have developed it to such a stage that it has the effect of a present-day human ego. Through these beings, the ego looks down upon Saturn from its environment and communicates its nature to the individual living beings of Saturn. Thus something is sent out into cosmic space from Saturn that appears similar to the activity of the human personality in the present cycle of life. The beings who bring this about may be called the “Spirits of Personality,” (“Archai,” “Primal Beginnings” in Christian Esotericism). They confer upon the small Saturn bodies the appearance of the character of personality. Personality does not exist on Saturn itself, however, but only its reflection, as it were, the shell of personality. The Spirits of Personality have their real personality on the periphery of Saturn. Just because these Spirits of Personality let their being be reflected back by the Saturn bodies in the manner indicated, the fine substance just described as “heat” is imparted to the latter. — In the whole of Saturn there is no inner life, but the Spirits of Personality recognize the image of their own inner life as it streams back to them from Saturn in the form of heat.
When all this occurs, the Spirits of Personality stand at the stage at which the human being is at present. At that time they pass through their human epoch. If we wish to look at these facts with an unprejudiced eye, we must imagine that a being can be “man” not merely in the form borne by man at the present time. The Spirits of Personality are “human beings” on Saturn. They do not have the physical body as their lowest principle, but the astral body with the ego. Therefore they are not able to express the experiences of this astral body in a physical and ether body like that of the present-day man; yet they not only possess an ego, but are fully aware of it, because the heat substance of Saturn brings it to their consciousness in reflecting it back to them. They are “human beings” under conditions different from the earth state.
In the further course of the Saturn evolution, events ensue that are different in character from anything existing heretofore. While up to the present time everything was a reflection of external life and sensation, now a kind of inner life begins. Here and there within the Saturn world a life of light begins, now flaring up, now darkening. Flickering glimmers of light appear in certain places, and in others something occurs like flashes of lightning. The Saturn heat bodies begin to glimmer, to sparkle, even to radiate. Because this stage of evolution has been reached, again certain beings have the possibility of becoming active. These are beings who may be called “Spirits of Fire,” (in Christian esotericism, “Archangeloi,” or “Archangels”). Although these beings have an astral body of their own, they are unable, at this stage of their existence, to stimulate it; they would not be able to awake any feeling or sensation if they could not work upon the heat bodies that had reached the Saturn stage already described. This activity exerted by them gives them the possibility of becoming aware of their own existence. They cannot say to themselves, “I exist,” but rather, “My environment permits me to exist.” They perceive, and their perceptions consist in the activities of light described as taking place on Saturn. These activities are in a certain sense their ego. This gives them a certain kind of consciousness that may be designated as picture consciousness. It can be thought of as a kind of human dream consciousness, only we must think of the degree of intensity of this dream consciousness as being much greater than in human dreaming, and we must realize that we are concerned not with unreal dream pictures surging up and down, but with dream pictures that have an actual relationship to the play of light on Saturn. — Within this reciprocal activity taking place between the Spirits of Fire and the Saturn heat bodies, the germinal human organs of sense are started on the path of evolution. The organs through which the human being at present perceives the physical world flash up in their first etheric inceptions. Human phantoms, as yet manifesting nothing but the primal light images of the sense organs, can be recognized within Saturn by means of clairvoyant perception. — These sense organs thus are the fruit of the activity of the Spirits of Fire, but the Spirits of Fire are not the only beings who participate in the formation of these organs. Together with these Spirits of Fire, other beings enter the field of Saturn, beings who are so far advanced in their evolution as to be able to employ these germinal senses to perceive the cosmic processes taking place in the life of Saturn. These beings may be called “Spirits of Love,” (in Christian esotericism, “Seraphim”). Were they not present, the Spirits of Fire could not have the consciousness described above. They behold the Saturn processes with a consciousness enabling them to convey these processes to the Spirits of Fire in the form of images. They forego all benefit they themselves might reap by perceiving the Saturn events; they renounce all enjoyment, all pleasure; they sacrifice all this in order that the Spirits of Fire might have it.
A new Saturn period follows these occurrences. Something else is added to the play of light. It may seem madness to many when we speak of what here presents itself to supersensible cognition. The interior of Saturn appears like a billowing and surging of sensations of taste; sweet, bitter, sour may be observed at various points within Saturn, and outwardly, into cosmic space, this all appears as tone, as a kind of music. — Within these processes certain beings again find the possibility of developing an activity upon Saturn. They may be called the “Sons of Twilight, or Life,” (in Christian Esotericism, “Angeloi,” “Angels”). They enter into reciprocal activity with the surging forces of taste present within Saturn, and through it their ether or life body takes on an activity somewhat similar to metabolism. They bring life into the interior of Saturn. As a result, processes of nutrition and elimination take place. They do not directly produce these processes, but through their activities the processes indirectly come into existence. This internal life makes it possible for still other beings to enter the sphere of this cosmic body, beings who may be designated “Spirits of Harmony,” (in Christian Esotericism, “Cherubim”). They bestow upon the Sons of Life a dull kind of consciousness, duller and vaguer than the dream consciousness of the present-day human being, a consciousness similar to that he possesses in dreamless sleep. This consciousness is of such a low order that man is not aware of it. It is present, however, and differs from day consciousness in degree and also in kind. Plant life at present also has this “dreamless sleep consciousness.” Even though this consciousness does not excite perceptions of an outer world as they are understood today, nevertheless, it regulates the life-processes and brings them into harmony with the outer cosmic processes. At the Saturn stage under consideration, the Sons of Life cannot perceive this regulating process; the Spirits of Harmony, however, perceive it and are therefore the actual regulators. — All this life-activity takes place in the human phantoms, already characterized. These phantoms therefore appear to spiritual perception as though endowed with life, but their life is only a semblance. It is actually the life of the Sons of Life. These Sons of Life make use of the human phantoms, in order, as it were, to unfold themselves.
Now let us consider these human phantoms with their semblance of life. During the Saturn period described, these phantoms have ever-changing forms, sometimes resembling this shape, sometimes that. During the further course of evolution these forms become more defined; occasionally they become permanent. The reason for this is that they are now permeated by the activities of the spirits who have to be taken into account already at the beginning of Saturn evolution, namely, the Spirits of Will (Thrones). As a result, the human phantom itself appears with the simplest, dullest form of consciousness. We must picture this form of consciousness as duller than that of dreamless sleep. Under present conditions, the minerals have this consciousness. It brings the inner being into harmony with the outer physical world. Upon Saturn, the Spirits of Will are the regulators of this harmony, and the human being appears like a small counterpart of the life of Saturn itself. What constitutes the Saturn life on a large scale, constitutes man, at this stage, on a small scale. This is the primary nucleus of what even in the modern human being exists only in a germinal state, namely, spirit man (atma). Within Saturn, this dull human will manifests itself to supersensible perception through effects that may be compared with “scents,” or “odors.” Toward the outside, toward celestial space, something is to be perceived like the manifestation of a personality that is, however, not controlled by an inner ego, but is regulated from without like a machine. The regulators are the Spirits of Will.
If we survey the preceding description, it becomes apparent that, starting from the middle stage of Saturn evolution described at the very beginning, the stages of this evolution might be characterized by comparing their various effects with sense-impressions of the present. It was said that the Saturn evolution manifests as heat, then a play of light begins, followed by a play of taste and tone; finally, something arises that manifests within the interior of Saturn like the sensation of smell, and externally like a mechanically acting human ego.
One might ask what the manifestations of the Saturn evolution prior to this state of heat are. What existed before cannot in any way be compared with anything that is accessible to an outer sense-impression. Prior to the state of heat, a state existed that the human being can experience at the present time only in his inner nature. If he gives himself up to ideas that he himself forms in his soul without the impelling impulse of an external impression, he has something within himself that physical senses cannot perceive; on the contrary, it is only accessible to higher perception. The manifestations that preceded the state of heat of Saturn can be present only for him who possesses supersensible perception. Three such states may be mentioned: pure soul heat, which is outwardly imperceptible; pure spiritual light, which is external darkness; finally, a spiritual state of being that is complete within itself and needs no external being in order to become conscious of itself. Pure inner heat accompanies the appearance of the Spirits of Motion; pure spiritual light, that of the Spirits of Wisdom; pure inner being is bound up with the first emanation of the Spirits of Will.
With the appearance of the Saturn heat, our evolution for the first time passes over from a purely spiritual, inner existence into one manifesting externally. It will be especially difficult for the present-day consciousness to accept the statement that with the Saturn state of heat what is called “time” first makes its appearance, for the preceding states are not at all temporal. They belong to the region that in spiritual science may be called “duration.” For this reason it must be understood that in all that is said in this work about such states in the “region of duration,” expressions referring to temporal relationships are only used by way of comparison and explanation. What precedes “time,” as it were, can only be characterized in human language by expressions containing the idea of time, for we must also be conscious of the fact that although the first, second, and third states of Saturn did not take place one after the other in the present sense of the word, we cannot do otherwise than describe them one after the other. Indeed, in spite of their duration or simultaneity, they are so inter-dependent that this dependence may be compared with a sequence in time.
By thus pointing to these earliest evolutionary states of Saturn, light is also thrown upon all other questions about the “whence” of these states. From the purely intellectual standpoint it is naturally quite possible, in regard to any origin, to continue asking about the “origin of this origin.” But this is not permissible in the face of facts. We only need to make this clear by a comparison. If we find traces in a road, we may ask what has caused them. The answer may be: a wagon. We can then ask further: whence came the wagon and whither has it gone? An answer founded upon facts is again possible. We might then ask further: who was sitting in it? What was the intention of the person who was using it? What was he doing? Finally, however, we shall come to a point where the questioning through the very facts comes to an end. Whoever continues to question, deviates from the original intention of the question. He continues the questioning mechanically. We can easily see in cases like the one just cited for the sake of comparison where the nature of facts brings an end to the questioning. In respect of the great questions of the cosmos this is not so easily seen. By really exact observation, however, we shall notice that all questions concerning the “whence” must end at the above described Saturn states. For we have come to a sphere in which the beings and processes no longer justify themselves through their origin, but through themselves.
The result of Saturn evolution is the development of the human germ to a certain stage; it has reached that low, dim consciousness spoken of above. It must not be imagined that the latter's development begins only in the last stage of Saturn. The Spirits of Will are active throughout all conditions of Saturn, but to supersensible perception the result in the last stage is most conspicuous. There exists no definite boundary line between the activities of the individual groups of beings. If it is said that in the beginning the Spirits of Will are active, then the Spirits of Wisdom, then another group of spiritual beings, it is not intended to mean that they were only active at that time. They are active throughout the whole of the Saturn evolution, but in the periods mentioned their activity can best be observed. The individual beings have then, as it were, the leadership.
Thus the whole of the Saturn evolution appears like a fashioning, a working over of what has streamed out of the Spirits of Will by the Spirits of Wisdom, Motion, Form, and so forth. At the same time, these spiritual beings themselves undergo an evolution. For example, after having received their life reflected back to them from Saturn, the Spirits of Wisdom stand at a different stage from that at which they previously stood. The fruit of this activity enhances the capacities of their own being. The result is that after the completion of such activity something happens to them similar to what happens to man in sleep. After their periods of activity on Saturn follow other periods during which they live, so to speak, in other worlds. Their activity is then turned away from Saturn. Therefore, clairvoyant perception observes in the described evolution of Saturn an ascent and a descent. The ascent continues until the formation of the state of heat; then with the play of light an ebb tide sets in, and when the human phantoms have assumed a form through the activity of the Spirits of Will, the spiritual beings have gradually withdrawn. The Saturn evolution slowly dies and as such disappears. A period of rest then occurs. The germinal human being passes over into a condition of dissolution, not, however, one in which it entirely disappears, but one that is similar to that of a plant seed resting in the earth, preparing to grow into a new plant. In a similar manner the human germ rests in the bosom of the cosmos, awaiting a new awakening, and when the moment of this awakening comes, the above described spiritual beings have acquired, under other conditions, capacities for working further upon the germinal human being. The Spirits of Wisdom have acquired the capacity in their ether bodies not only of enjoying the reflection of life, as they did on Saturn, but also the ability of letting life stream forth from themselves and of endowing other beings with it. The Spirits of Motion are now as far advanced as were the Spirits of Wisdom on Saturn. The lowest principle of their being was then the astral body; now they possess an ether or life body. The other spiritual beings have correspondingly advanced to a higher stage of their evolution. All these spiritual beings, therefore, are able to work upon the further evolution of the germinal human being in another way than on Saturn. — But at the end of the Saturn evolution the germinal human being was dissolved. In order that the more evolved spiritual beings may continue from the point where they ended their previous activities, this germinal human being has briefly to recapitulate the stages through which it passed on Saturn. This is to be seen by supersensible perception. The germinal human being emerges from its concealment and, through the forces that have been implanted within it on Saturn, it begins to develop through its own power. It emerges out of the darkness as a being of will; it advances itself to a being possessed of a semblance of life, of a soullike nature and other characteristics, until it reaches the stage of automatic manifestation of personality that it possessed at the end of the Saturn evolution.
The second of the great evolutionary periods alluded to, the “Sun stage,” effects the raising of man to a condition of consciousness higher than that which he attained on Saturn. Compared with the present consciousness of man, this Sun stage could, to be sure, be designated as “unconsciousness,” for it closely approximates the state in which the human being now exists during completely dreamless sleep. It might also be compared with the low degree of consciousness in which our plant world is at present slumbering. For supersensible perception there is no such thing as “unconsciousness,” but only varying degrees of consciousness. Everything in the world possesses consciousness. — The human being attains a higher degree of consciousness in the course of the Sun evolution because at that time his nature is invested with the etheric or life body. Before this can occur, however, the Saturn conditions must be recapitulated, as described above. This recapitulation has a quite definite significance. When the period of rest, of which we have spoken in the previous description, has come to an end, what was formerly Saturn issues forth out of “cosmic sleep” as a new cosmic being, the Sun. But as a result, the conditions of evolution are changed. The spiritual beings, whose activities on Saturn have been described, have now advanced to other conditions. The germinal human being, however, first appears on the newly formed Sun just as it was at the end of the Saturn evolution. It must first transform the various evolutionary stages that it had reached on Saturn, so that they conform with the conditions on the Sun. The Sun epoch, therefore, begins with a recapitulation of the occurrences on Saturn, but adjusted to the changed conditions of the life of the Sun. When the human being has developed to the point where the stage of his evolution acquired on Saturn conforms to the conditions of the Sun, the already mentioned Spirits of Wisdom, the Kyriotetes, begin to let the ether or life body flow into the human physical body. The more advanced stage that man attains on the Sun may be characterized by saying that the physical body, germinally formed already on Saturn, is raised to a second stage of perfection by becoming the bearer of an ether or life body. This ether or life body itself attains the first degree of its perfection during the Sun evolution. In order, however, that this second degree of perfection of the physical body and the first degree of perfection of the life body be attained, it is necessary in the further course of the life of the Sun that yet other spiritual beings interpose themselves in a way similar to what was already described for the Saturn stage.
When the Spirits of Wisdom begin to pour the life body into man, the Sun, previously dark, now begins to radiate. At the same time the first signs of an inner activity appear in the germinal human being; life begins. What on Saturn had to be characterized as an appearance of life, now becomes actual life. This pouring in of the life body continues for a certain length of time, after which an important change takes place in the human germ, namely, it divides into two parts. Whereas previously the physical body and life body formed one closely-bound whole, the physical body now begins to detach itself as a separate part. This detached physical body, however, continues also to be permeated by the life body. We have now before us a twofold human being. One part is a physical body worked upon by a life body, the other part is pure life body. This separation takes place during an interval of rest in the life of the Sun. During this interval, the radiation that had already begun is again extinguished. The separation takes place, as it were, during a “cosmic night.” This interval of rest is much shorter than the interval of rest between the Saturn and Sun evolutions, of which we have spoken previously. After the expiration of this interval, the Spirits of Wisdom continue to work for a time upon the twofold human being just as they had worked before on the single-membered human being. The Spirits of Motion then begin their activity. They let their own astral body surge through the human life body. As a result, it acquires the capacity to carry on certain inner movements within the physical body. These movements may be likened to the movements of sap in our present-day plants.
The Saturn body consisted solely of heat substance. During the Sun evolution this heat substance condenses to a state that may be compared with the present state of gas or vapor. It is the state that may be designated by the word “air.” The first appearance of such a state manifests itself after the Spirits of Motion have begun their activity. The following spectacle presents itself to supersensible consciousness. Within the heat substance something appears like delicate structures that are set into regular motion by means of the forces of the life body. These structures represent the human physical body at that stage of evolution. They are completely permeated by heat and enclosed by a mantle of heat. Physically speaking, this human being may be said to consist of heat structures into which air forms are articulated that are in regular motion. If we wish to keep to the above comparison with the plants of the present day, we must remain conscious of the fact that we are not dealing with a compact plant formation, but with a gaseous or aeroform structure, the movements of which may be compared with the movements of the sap in present-day plants. The gas appears to supersensible consciousness through the effect of light, which the gas permits to stream forth from itself. We might thus also speak of light structures that are perceptible to spiritual vision. This evolution then proceeds further. After a certain length of time a pause again ensues, after which the Spirits of Motion continue their activities until these are supplemented by the activities of the Spirits of Form, the effect of which produces permanency in the previously continuously changing gaseous forms. This, too, takes place through the fact that the Spirits of Form permit their forces to flow in and out of the human life body. Previously, when only the Spirits of Motion were acting upon them, these gaseous structures were in ceaseless motion, holding their form only momentarily. Now, however, they assume temporarily distinguishable shapes. — Again after a certain length of time there ensues a period of rest, at the end of which the Spirits of Form continue their activities. Then entirely new conditions arise within the Sun evolution.
We have reached the point where the Sun evolution has arrived at the central stage of its development. It is at this time that the Spirits of Personality — who had reached their human stage on Saturn — rise to a still higher stage of perfection. They surpass their human stage and acquire a consciousness that our present earthly humanity has not yet attained in the regular course of its evolution. It will reach this stage of consciousness when the Earth — that is to say, the fourth planetary evolutionary stage — shall have reached its goal and passed over into the subsequent planetary period. Man will then not only be able to perceive in his environment what at present is transmitted to him by the physical senses, but he will be able to observe in pictorial images the inner soul states of the beings in his environment. He will possess a picture consciousness; but at the same time retain full self-consciousness. His pictorial perception will not be dreamy and dull. He will perceive the soul pictorially, yet at the same time these soul pictures will be the expression of realities just as now physical colors and tones are expressions of realities. At the present time, a human being can only develop such perception in himself through spiritual-scientific training. The nature of this training will be dealt with in a later part of this book. — During the Sun stage, the Spirits of Personality acquire this perception as a normal part of their evolution. Because of this they become, during the Sun evolution, capable of working upon the newly formed human life body just as they worked upon the physical body on Saturn. Just as at that time heat reflected back to them their own personality, so now the gaseous shapes reflect back to them in resplendent light the pictures of their perceiving consciousness. They behold supersensibly what takes place upon the Sun, and this perception is by no means mere observation. It is as though something of the force that on earth is called love were making itself felt in the images that stream forth from the Sun. If we observe more closely with our soul powers, the reason for this phenomenon may be discovered. Exalted beings are now working actively in the light radiating from the Sun. These beings are the already designated Spirits of Love — Seraphim. They work, henceforth, on the human ether or life body in co-operation with the Spirits of Personality. By means of this activity, the life body itself advances a stage on its evolutionary journey. It acquires the capacity, not only to transform the gaseous structures within it, but to fashion them in such a way that the first indications of a reproduction of the living human being appear. Exudations are driven out, sweated out of these gaseous structures, which assume shapes similar to their maternal forms.
In order to characterize the further evolution of the Sun, it is necessary to draw attention to the important fact of cosmic history, that in the course of an epoch all the beings involved do not by any means reach the goal of their evolution. There are some who fall short of it. Thus during the Saturn evolution not all of the Spirits of Personality actually reach the human stage for which they were originally destined in the manner described. Likewise, not all of the human physical bodies, formed on Saturn, attain the degree of maturity that would have made them capable of becoming bearers of an independent life body on the Sun. The result is that upon the Sun there exist beings and formations that do not fit into its conditions. These have to retrieve, during the Sun evolution, what they failed to attain upon Saturn. Hence, during the Sun stage the following can be observed. When the Spirits of Wisdom begin to pour in the life body, the body of the Sun, as it were, becomes turbid — darkened. Structures are mingled with it that in reality would belong to Saturn. These are heat structures that are unable to condense properly to air. These are the human beings who have remained behind at the Saturn stage. They are unable to become bearers of a regularly developed life body. — The heat substance of Saturn, which remained behind in this way, divides itself into two sections on the Sun. One section is absorbed, as it were, by the human bodies and forms a kind of lower nature within the human being. This human being at the Sun stage thus takes into his corporeality something actually corresponding to the Saturn stage. Just as the human body of Saturn made it possible for the Spirits of Personality to rise to their human stage, so now this Saturn part of the human being performs on the Sun the same task for the Spirits of Fire. These Spirits of Fire rise to the human stage by allowing their forces to surge in and out of this Saturn part of the human being, just as this was performed by the Spirits of Personality on Saturn. This, too, happens at the central stage of the Sun evolution. At that time the Saturn part of the human being is so far matured that with its help the Spirits of Fire — Archangels — are able to pass through their human stage. — Another section of the Saturn heat substance acquires an independent existence alongside and in the midst of the human beings on the Sun. This then forms a second kingdom alongside the human kingdom, a kingdom that develops upon the Sun a fully independent, but purely physical, body, a body of heat. The result is that the fully developed Spirits of Personality cannot exert their activity upon an independent life body In the manner described. There are, however, certain Spirits of Personality who have remained behind at the Saturn stage. These had not at that time reached the human stage. Between them and the second kingdom, which became independent on the Sun, there exists a bond of attraction. Their behavior toward the retarded kingdom on the Sun must now be similar to the behavior of their advanced companions toward the human beings on Saturn. On the latter, the human physical body was alone developed. Upon the Sun itself, however, there is no possibility of a similar activity by the retarded Spirits of Personality. They, therefore, withdraw from the main body of the Sun and form an independent cosmic body outside of it. From it the retarded Spirits of Personality work back upon the beings of the Sun's second kingdom already described. Thus two cosmic bodies are formed out of the one that was formerly Saturn. The Sun has now in its environment a second cosmic body, one that represents a kind of rebirth of Saturn, a new Saturn. From this new Saturn, the character of personality is bestowed upon the second kingdom of the Sun. Hence in this second kingdom we are concerned with beings who have no personality of their own upon the Sun itself, but who reflect back to the retarded Spirits of Personality on new Saturn these spirits' own personality. By means of supersensible consciousness it is possible to observe the play of heat forces among the human beings on the Sun; these heat forces send their influence into the regular Sun evolution; in them may be seen the sway of the designated spirits of new Saturn.
During the middle part of the Sun evolution the human being is organized into a physical body and a life body. Within him there takes place the activity of the advanced Spirits of Personality and the Spirits of Love. A part of the retarded Saturn nature is mixed with the physical body, within which the Spirits of Fire are active. In the effects of the activity of the Spirits of Fire upon the retarded Saturn nature the precursors of the sense organs of the present earth man can be seen. It has been shown how even on Saturn the Spirits of Fire were at work forming germinal sense organs in the heat substance. In what is accomplished by the Spirits of Personality in co-operation with the Spirits of Love we can discern the germinal beginnings of the present human glandular system. — The work of the Spirits of Personality dwelling upon the new Saturn is not exhausted in what has been described above. They extend their activity not only to the above-mentioned second Sun kingdom, but they effect a kind of connection between this kingdom and the human senses. The heat substances of this kingdom flow in and out through the germinal human sense organs. Through this fact the human being on the Sun acquires a mode of perceiving the lower kingdom existing outside himself. This perception is, of course, only a dull perception, corresponding wholly to the dull Saturn consciousness of which we have spoken above, and it consists essentially of various heat effects.
Everything that has been described as existing in the middle of the Sun evolution lasts for a certain time. Then another period of rest begins, following which evolution goes on for a time in the same way until it reaches a stage when the human ether body is sufficiently matured to permit the beginning of a united activity of the Sons of Life, Angels — and the Spirits of Harmony — Cherubim. To supersensible consciousness, manifestations appear within the human being that may be likened to the perceptions of taste, which express themselves outwardly as tones. Something similar had to be described already for the Saturn evolution. Only here on the Sun everything, within the human being is more individual, fuller of independent life. — The Sons of Life acquire, as a result, the dull picture consciousness that the Spirits of Fire had attained on Saturn. In this the Spirits of Harmony are their helpers. The Cherubim actually perceive spiritually what is now taking place within the Sun evolution, but they renounce all the fruits of this perception; they forego the feelings produced by these wisdom-filled images that arise there; they allow these to flow into the dreamy consciousness of the Sons of Life as magnificent, magic visions. These Sons of Life in turn work the imagery of their visions into the human ether body, thus enabling it to reach ever higher stages of evolution. — Again a pause sets in; again the whole cosmos arises out of a “universal sleep,” and after a time the human being becomes mature enough to employ his own forces. These are the forces that streamed into him through the activity of the Thrones during the last part of the Saturn period. This human being now develops an inward life that manifests itself to consciousness in a way comparable to an inner perception of smell. Outwardly, however, toward cosmic space, this human being presents himself as a personality, yet as a personality not directed by an inner ego. It appears more like a plant giving the impression of personality. We have seen already at the end of the Saturn evolution that personality manifests itself like a machine. Just as at that time the first germ of spirit man (atma) was developed, which is still today only germinally present in man, so similarly here in the Sun period the primary nucleus of life spirit (buddhi) is formed. — At a certain time after this has occurred, another period of rest ensues; at its end, as in previous similar instances, human activity proceeds for a time. Then conditions arise that prove to be a new intervention of the Spirits of Wisdom, through which the human being becomes capable of experiencing the first traces of sympathy and antipathy toward his surroundings. In all this there is no actual sensation present, yet it is a forerunner of it, for the inner life-activity, which in its manifestation might be characterized as perceptions of smell, expresses itself outwardly as a kind of primitive language. If a pleasant scent, or taste, or glimmer of light is perceived inwardly, the human being expresses this outwardly by means of a tone, and this also occurs in regard to an inwardly antipathetic perception. — In fact, the actual meaning of the Sun evolution for the human being is gained by means of all the processes that have been described. This human being has now reached a higher stage of consciousness than on Saturn. This is the dreamless consciousness of sleep.
After a time, the point of evolution is also reached when the higher beings bound up with the Sun stage must pass on to other spheres in order to assimilate what they have acquired for themselves through their activities on the being of man. A major period of rest ensues, similar to that that took place between the Saturn and Sun evolutions. Everything that was fashioned on the Sun passes over into a condition that may be likened to that of the plant when its powers of growth lie dormant in the seed. But just as these forces of growth come to the light of day in a new plant, so, after the rest period, all life upon the Sun comes forth again out of the cosmic womb and a new planetary existence begins. The significance of such a pause, such a cosmic sleep, can be well understood if we direct our spiritual gaze toward one of the orders of beings mentioned, for instance, toward the Spirits of Wisdom. On Saturn, they were not yet far enough advanced to be able to let an ether body flow out of themselves. Only through the experiences they passed through upon Saturn have they been prepared for this. During the pause, they transform into actual capacities what previously had only been prepared in their inner being. Thus upon the Sun they are so far advanced that they can let life flow out of themselves and endow the human entity with a life body of its own.
Following the pause in outer activity, what was previously the Sun emerges again out of cosmic sleep, becoming once more perceptible to the powers of spiritual observation. It was previously perceptible to these powers, but had disappeared from view during the period of rest. A twofold element now appears within the newly emerging planetary being that shall be called the Moon. This Moon, however, must not be confused with the part of it that is at present the earth's moon. The first thing to be noted is that that part of the world mass which, during the Sun period, had detached itself as a new Saturn, is once more within the totality of the new planetary organism. During the pause, this new Saturn had again united itself with the Sun. Everything that was within the original Saturn reappears at first as one cosmic formation. The second thing to be noted is that the human life bodies formed upon the Sun were absorbed during the pause by what, in a certain sense, forms the spiritual sheath of the planet. Thus these life bodies do not appear at this time as something united with the corresponding physical human bodies, but these latter appear at first by themselves. They bear within their inner nature all that has been worked into them on both Saturn and Sun, but they lack an ether or life body. Moreover, they are unable to incorporate this ether body immediately into themselves, for during the pause the ether body itself has passed through a development to which the physical bodies are not yet adapted. — In order that this adjustment may be achieved, once more a recapitulation of the Saturn activities occurs at the beginning of the Moon evolution. The physical life of man recapitulates the stages of the Saturn evolution, but under quite changed conditions. On Saturn, only the forces of a heat body were active within the physical human being; now the forces of the acquired gaseous body are also active within him. The latter, however, do not appear at once at the beginning of the Moon evolution. At that time it is as though the human being consisted only of heat substance, while within the latter the gaseous forces slumbered. Then comes a time when the first indications of these gaseous forces make their appearance, and finally, in the last period of the Moon recapitulation of Saturn activities, the human being reappears as he was during his life-endowed state of the Sun. At this time, however, all life still appears as a semblance of life. Then a pause occurs similar to the short pauses occurring during the Sun evolution, after which the instreaming of the life body, for which the physical body has now become ripe, begins again. As in the case of the Saturn recapitulation, this influx takes place again in three distinctly separate epochs. During the second of these, the human being is so far adjusted to the new Moon conditions that the Spirits of Motion are able to employ their acquired ability. It consists in allowing the astral body to flow forth from their own essential nature into the human being. They prepared themselves for this task during the Sun evolution and, during the pause between the Sun and Moon evolutions, they transformed what had thus been prepared into the ability alluded to above. This influx of the astral body lasts again for a time, then one of the shorter pauses ensues, after which the instreaming of the astral body of the Spirits of Motion continues until the Spirits of Form begin their activity. Because the Spirits of Motion allow their astral body to flow into the human being, he acquires his first soul qualities. As a result, he now begins to accompany the processes, which occur in him through the possession of a life body and which during the Sun evolution were still plant-like, with sensations and to feel pleasure and displeasure through them; this remains a changing inner ebb and flow of pleasure and displeasure, until the intervention of the Spirits of Form. Then these changing feelings become transformed in such a way that the first traces of longing and desire appear in the human being. He seeks to repeat what has caused pleasure and strives to avoid what has caused sensations of antipathy. Since, however, the Spirits of Form do not give up their own nature to him, but only allow their forces to flow in and out of him, the impulse of desire lacks inwardness and independence. It is guided by the Spirits of Form and bears an instinctive character.
On Saturn, the human physical body was composed of heat, which on the Sun was condensed to a gaseous state, or air. During the Moon evolution, when the astral flows into the physical body, the latter attains a further degree of condensation at a definite time and reaches a state that may be compared with the density of a present-day fluid. This state may be called “water.” We do not mean by this, however, our present water, but any fluid form of existence. The human physical body now gradually takes on a form composed of three substantial organisms. The densest is a water body. This is permeated by air currents, and all this is permeated by the activities of heat.
During the Sun stage, too, not all organisms attain their full and proper maturity. As a result, on the Moon there are organisms that stand only at the Saturn stage, while others have only attained the Sun stage. Because of this, two other kingdoms arise alongside the regularly developed human kingdom. One of these consists of beings who have remained behind at the Saturn stage and therefore possess only a physical body, which, even on the Moon, is unable to become the bearer of an independent life body. This is the lowest of the Moon kingdoms. A second kingdom consists of beings who have remained behind at the Sun stage and who, therefore, on the Moon are too immature to incorporate into themselves an independent astral body. These form a kingdom intermediate between the one just mentioned and the regularly advanced human kingdom. — But something else takes place. The substances composed merely of the forces of heat, and those composed merely of air also permeate the human beings. Thus it happens that on the Moon the latter bear within themselves a Saturn and a Sun nature. As a result, a kind of cleavage arises in human nature, and through this cleavage, after the Spirits of Form begin their activity, some thing significant is called into existence within the Moon evolution. A cleavage begins in the cosmic Moon body. A part of the Moon's substances and beings separates from the rest. Two cosmic bodies are thus formed from one. Certain higher beings who, prior to this, were closely linked with the unitary cosmic body, now take up their abode on one of these parts. The remaining part, in contrast, is occupied by the human beings, by the two lower kingdoms just characterized, and by certain higher beings who did not go over to the first cosmic body. This latter cosmic body, occupied by higher beings, appears like a reborn, but refined sun; the other is now the actually new formation, the ancient Moon, the third planetary embodiment of our Earth that follows after the Saturn and Sun evolutions. The separating, reborn sun carries away with it, from the substances arising on the Moon, only heat and air. Besides these two substances, the liquid, watery state is to be found on what remains over as Moon. The result of this separation is that the beings, departed with the reemerging sun, are unhampered in their further development by the denser Moon beings. They are thus able to advance unhindered in their evolution. As a result they acquire a still greater degree of power with which to work down upon the Moon beings from their sun. These Moon beings likewise acquire new possibilities of evolution. The Spirits of Form, in particular, have remained united with them and have solidified the nature of passion and desire. This expresses itself gradually by a further condensation of the human physical body also. The former purely watery element of this body now takes on a viscous fluidic form, and the aeriform and heat formations condense correspondingly. Similar processes take place also in the two lower kingdoms.
In consequence of the separation of the Moon from the sun body, the former has the same relationship to the latter that the Saturn body once had to the entire surrounding cosmic evolution. The Saturn body was formed from the body of the Spirits of Will — Thrones. From this Saturn substance everything was radiated back into cosmic space that the above-mentioned spiritual beings, living in the environment, experienced, and by means of the succeeding events, the reflecting radiation gradually awoke to independent life. The whole of evolution depends first upon the severance of independent being from surrounding life; the environment then imprints itself upon this severed being as though by reflection, and then this separated entity develops further independently. — In this way the Moon body severed itself from the sun body and then reflected back its life. Had nothing else happened, the following cosmic process would have to be described. There would be a sun body in which spiritual beings, adapted to it, would have their experiences in the heat and air element. Opposite this sun body there would be a Moon body in which other beings would evolve with heat, air, and water life. The progress from the Sun to the Moon embodiment would consist in the fact that the sun beings would have their own life before them, like a reflection, mirrored back to them from the Moon processes, and they would be able to enjoy it — an experience that during the Sun embodiment was still impossible for them. — But the processes of evolution did not stop here. Something occurred that was of the deepest significance for all subsequent evolution. Certain beings, who were adapted to the Moon body, seized upon the will element — the heritage of the Thrones — that was then at their disposal, and by means of it developed their own life, which shaped itself independent of the life of the sun. Alongside the experiences of the Moon, which stand only under the sun influence, other independent Moon experiences occur — revolts or rebellions, as it were, against the sun beings. The various kingdoms that had come into existence on the sun and Moon, especially the kingdom of our human forebears, were drawn into these conditions. Thus the Moon body contained within itself, spiritually and materially, a twofold life: one that stood in close union with the life of the sun, and one that deserted it and went its own independent way. This division into a twofold life expresses itself in all subsequent events of the Moon embodiment.
What this evolutionary period presents to supersensible consciousness may be characterized in the following pictures. The entire fundamental mass of the Moon is fashioned out of a half-living substance that is at times in sluggish, at times in animated movement. A mineral mass of rocks and earth elements, like that upon which the present human being treads, does not yet exist. We might speak of a kingdom of plant-minerals, only we must imagine that the entire foundational mass of the Moon is composed of this plant-mineral substance, just as the earth today consists of rocks, soil, and other matter. Just as at present we have towering masses of rocks, so at that time harder portions were embedded in the Moon's mass. These may be compared with hard, woody structures, or with horny forms. Just as plants spring up at present out of the mineral soil, so on the Moon the second kingdom — a sort of plant-animal — sprang up, covering and permeating the Moon ground. The substance of this kingdom was softer than the ground mass and more mobile in itself. This kingdom spread itself out over the other like a viscous sea. The human being himself may be called a kind of animal — man. His nature contained the essential elements of the other two kingdoms, but his being was completely permeated by an ether and an astral body, upon which the forces of the higher beings emanating from the severed sun were active. His form was thus ennobled. Whereas the Spirits of Form gave him a shape through which he was adapted to Moon life, the sun spirits made of him a being lifted above that life. By means of the capacities bestowed upon him by these spirits he had the power to ennoble his own nature, indeed, to lift to a higher stage that part of it that was related to the lower kingdoms.
The processes that have to be taken into consideration here, perceived spiritually, may be described in the following manner. The human forebear had been ennobled by beings who had deserted the sun kingdom. This ennobling extended especially to everything that could be experienced in the water element. The sun beings, who were rulers of the elements of heat and air, had less influence upon this water element, with the result that two kinds of beings were active in the organism of the human ancestor. One part of this organism was wholly permeated by the activities of the sun beings; in the other part, the seceded Moon beings were active. Through this fact, the latter part was more independent than the former. In the sun-part, only states of consciousness could arise in which the sun beings lived. In the Moon-part there existed a sort of cosmic consciousness, similar to the ancient Saturn state, only now at a higher stage. The human ancestor thus beheld himself as a copy of the cosmos, while his sun-part felt itself only as a copy of the sun. — These two kinds of beings began a sort of conflict within human nature, and through the influence of the sun beings an adjustment of this conflict was brought about by rendering the material organism, which made an independent cosmic consciousness possible, frail and perishable. It was necessary now for this part of the organism to be eliminated from time to time. During this elimination and for a certain time thereafter, the human ancestor was a being dependent only upon the influence of the sun. His consciousness became less independent; he lived in it in complete surrender to the life of the sun. The independent Moon part was then renewed. After a certain length of time, this process was repeated again and again. The human ancestor on the Moon thus lived in alternating conditions of clearer and duller consciousness, and this alternation was accompanied by a metamorphosis of the material aspect of his being. From time to time he discarded his Moon body and renewed it again later.
Seen physically, a great variation appears in the kingdoms of the Moon described here. The mineral-plants, the plant-animals, and the animal-men are differentiated according to groups. This will be understood if we bear in mind that, because certain organisms have remained behind at each of the earlier stages of evolution, these organisms have been embodied, endowed with the most varied qualities. There are organisms that still display the characteristics of the first epochs of the Saturn evolution, some those of the middle periods, and some those of its end. This is also true of all the stages of the Sun evolution.
Just as organisms connected with the progressively evolving cosmic body remain behind, so is this also the case with certain beings connected with this evolution. In the progressive development up to the appearance of the ancient Moon, several grades of such beings have already come into existence. There are, for instance, Spirits of Personality who, even on the Sun, have not yet attained their human stage; there are, however, others who, on the Sun, have retrieved their failure to rise to this stage. Many Fire Spirits, too, who should have become human on the Sun, have remained behind. Just as certain retarded Spirits of Personality withdrew during the Sun evolution from the body of the Sun and caused Saturn to arise again as a special cosmic body, so also in the course of the Moon evolution the beings described above withdrew to special cosmic bodies. Thus far we have spoken only of the separation into sun and Moon, but for the reasons given above, still other cosmic bodies detach themselves from the cosmic Moon body that made its appearance after the long pause between Sun and Moon evolutions. After a lapse of time there comes into existence a system of cosmic bodies, the most advanced of which, as may be easily seen, is the new sun. In much the same way that during the Sun evolution — as has already been described above — a bond of attraction was formed between the retarded Saturn kingdom and the Spirits of Personality on the new Saturn, now during the Moon evolution a bond is also formed between every such cosmic body and the corresponding Moon beings. It would carry us much too far to follow up in detail all the cosmic bodies that come into existence. It must suffice to have indicated the reason why a series of cosmic bodies is detached by degrees from the undivided cosmic organism that appeared in the beginning of mankind's evolution as Saturn.
After the intervention of the Spirits of Form on the Moon, evolution proceeds for a time in the manner described. After this, another pause in outer activity ensues, during which the coarser parts of the three Moon kingdoms remain in a state of rest, but the finer parts — chiefly the human astral bodies — detach themselves from these coarser organisms. They enter a state in which the higher powers of the exalted sun beings can work upon them with special force. — After the rest period, they again permeate the parts of the human being composed of coarser substances. Through the fact that, during the pause, they have absorbed powerful forces in a free state, they are able to prepare these coarser substances for the influences that the regularly advanced Spirits of Personality and Spirits of Fire must, after a certain time, bring to bear upon them.
These Spirits of Personality have attained a stage at which they possess the consciousness of inspiration. Not only are they able to perceive the inner state of other beings in pictures — as was the case in their former picture consciousness — but they are able to perceive the inner nature of these beings as a spiritual tone language. The Spirits of Fire, however, have risen to the degree of consciousness possessed by the Spirits of Personality on the Sun. As a result, both kinds of spirits are able to intervene in the matured life of the human being. The Spirits of Personality work upon his astral body, the Fire Spirits upon his ether body. The astral body thus receives the character of personality. It experiences henceforth not only pleasure and pain within itself, but it relates them to itself. It has not yet attained a full ego consciousness that says to itself, “I exist,” but it feels itself borne and sheltered by other beings in its environment. Looking up to them, as it were, it can say, “This, my environment, gives me existence.” The Fire Spirits work henceforth upon the ether body. Under their influence the movement of forces in this body becomes more and more an inner life activity. What thus comes into existence finds physical expression in a circulation of fluids and in phenomena of growth. The gaseous substances have condensed to a fluid. We can speak of a kind of nutrition in the sense that what is absorbed from without is transformed and worked over within. If we think perhaps of something midway between nutrition and breathing in the present day sense, then we shall have some idea of what happened at that time in this respect. The human being drew nutritive substances from the kingdom of the animal-plants. These animal-plants must be thought of as floating, swimming in — or even lightly attached to — a surrounding element in much the same way the present-day lower animals live in water or the land animals in the air. This element, however, is neither water nor air in the present sense of the word, but something midway between the two — a kind of thick vapor in which the most varied substances, as though dissolved, move hither and thither in the most varied currents. The animal-plants appear only as condensed, regular forms of this element, often differing physically very little from their environment. The process of respiration exists alongside the process of nutrition. It is not like what occurs on earth, but it is like an insucking and outpouring of heat. For supersensible observation it is as though, during these processes, organs opened and closed through which a warming stream flowed in and out. Through these organs the airy and watery substances are also drawn in and expelled, and because the human being at this stage of his evolution already possesses an astral body, this breathing and nutrition are accompanied by feelings, so that a kind of pleasure occurs when substances that are beneficial for the building up of the human being are drawn in from outside. Displeasure is excited when injurious substances flow in or even when they only approach the human being. — During the Moon evolution there was a kinship between the processes of breathing and nutrition, as described. Similarly the process of visualization was in close correspondence with the process of reproduction. Objects and beings in the environment of the humanity of the Moon did not produce immediate effects on any kind of senses. Visualization was of such a character that images were evoked in the dull dim consciousness by the presence of the things and beings in its neighborhood. These pictures had a much more intimate relationship with the actual nature of the environment than present-day sense perceptions which, through color, tone, and odor, only indicate the external aspects of things and beings. In order to have a clearer concept of this consciousness of the Moon humanity, let us imagine this humanity as being embedded in the above described vaporous environment. The most manifold processes occur within this mistlike element. Substances now unite, now separate. Certain parts condense, others become rarefied. All of this occurs in such a way that the human beings neither see nor hear it directly, but images are called forth by it in their consciousness. These may be compared to the images of present-day dream consciousness. For example, when an outer object falls to the ground and a sleeping man does not perceive the actual event itself, but instead experiences the rise of some kind of picture, he might, let us say, believe a shot was fired. The only difference is that the pictures of the Moon consciousness are not arbitrary as are the dream pictures of the present day. Although they are symbols, not copies, they correspond, nevertheless, to the outer events. A definite picture appears with a definite outer event. The Moon humanity is thus in the position to direct its actions in accordance with these pictures, just as present-day humanity directs its actions according to its perceptions. Notice, however, must be taken of the fact that conduct based on perception admits of freedom of choice, while action under the influence of the pictures indicated is impelled by a dull urge. — This picture consciousness is by no means one by which only outer physical processes are visualized, but through them the spiritual beings ruling behind the physical facts as well as their activities are imaginatively perceived. Thus the Spirits of Personality become, as it were, visible in the objects of the animal-plant kingdom; behind and within the mineral-plant beings the Fire Spirits appear. The Sons of Life appear as beings that the human being is able to picture mentally without connection with anything physical; he perceives them, as it were, as etheric soul forms. — Although these mental pictures of the Moon consciousness were not copies, but only symbols of the outer world, they did have a much more important effect upon the inner nature of the human being than the present visualizations of man transmitted through outer perception. They had the power to set the whole inner being in motion and activity. The inner processes shaped themselves in accordance with them. They were genuine formative forces. The human being took on the shape these formative forces gave him; he became, as it were, a copy of his processes of consciousness.
The further that evolution continues in this manner, the deeper and more incisive is the change that in consequence takes place in the human entity. The power that proceeds from these consciousness-images is gradually no longer able to extend over the entire human corporeality. The latter divides into two parts, two natures. Members are fashioned that are subject to the formative effect of the picture consciousness, and to a great degree they become a copy of the life of mental images in the sense of the above description. Other organs, however, withdraw from this influence. The human being, in one part of his nature is, as it were, too dense, too much determined by other laws to be able to conduct himself according to the consciousness-pictures. These withdraw from human influence, but they become subject to the influence of the exalted sun beings themselves. A rest period precedes this stage of evolution, during which the sun spirits gather the power to work upon the Moon beings under wholly new conditions. — After this pause the human being is distinctly split into two natures. One of these natures, not subject to the independent activity of the picture consciousness, takes on a more definite form and comes under the influence of forces that, to be sure, proceed from the Moon body, but within which they arise only through the influence of the sun beings. This part of the human being participates increasingly in the life that is inspired by the sun. The other part rises out of the former like a kind of head. It is in itself mobile, plastic, and becomes the expression and bearer of the dull life of consciousness of the human being. Yet the two parts are closely bound together. They send their fluids into one another, and their members stretch from one into the other.
A significant harmony is now achieved through the fact that, during the time in which all this happened, a relationship between sun and Moon has been developed that is in accord with the direction of this evolution. — It has already been pointed out in a previous paragraph (see page 150) how, as a result of their stage of evolution, the advancing beings sever their cosmic bodies from the general cosmic mass. They radiate the forces in accordance with which the substances form themselves. Sun and Moon have thus separated from one another in accordance with the necessity of establishing proper dwelling places for the corresponding beings. This conditioning of substance and its forces by means of the spirit, however, extends further. The beings themselves determine certain movements of cosmic bodies and their definite revolution around each other. In this way these bodies come into varying positions in, relation to each other. If the location or position of one cosmic body in relation to another is changed, then the effects of their corresponding beings upon one another are also changed. This happened with the sun and the Moon. Through the movement begun by the Moon around the sun, the human beings come now under the influence of the sun activity, now they turn away from this influence and are then more dependent upon themselves. The movement is a result of the secession of certain Moon beings already described and the adjustment of the conflict brought about by it. It is only the physical expression of the spiritual relationship of forces created by this secession. The revolution of one body around the other resulted in the previously described changing states of consciousness in the beings dwelling on the cosmic bodies. It can be said that the Moon alternately turns its life toward and away from the sun. There is a sun period and a Moon period; during the latter, the Moon beings develop on the side of the Moon that is turned away from the sun. For the Moon, however, something else was added to the movement of the heavenly bodies. The retrospective supersensible consciousness is able to see how the Moon beings themselves revolve around their own cosmic body in quite regular periods. At certain times they seek out the places where they can expose themselves to the influence of the sun. At other epochs they migrate to the regions where they are not exposed to this influence and where they can, as it were, reflect upon themselves.
In order to complete the picture of these processes, we have also to consider that at this time the Sons of Life reach their human stage. The human being on the Moon cannot yet use his senses, the primal indications of which had come into existence already on Saturn, for his own perception of external objects. At the Moon stage of evolution, however, these senses become the instruments of the Sons of Life. The latter make use of these senses in order to perceive by means of them. These senses, which belong to the physical human body, enter in this way into reciprocal relationship with the Sons of Life, who not only make use of them, but perfect them as well.
Through the changing relationships to the sun a change occurs, as described, in the conditions of life within the human being himself. Things shape themselves in such a way that each time the human being comes under the influence of the sun, he devotes himself more to the life of the sun and its phenomena than to himself. At such times he experiences the grandeur and majesty of the universe as this is expressed in the sun existence. He absorbs this. The exalted beings who have their habitation upon the sun exercise their power upon the Moon, which in turn has its effect upon the being of man. This effect does not extend to the entire human being; it affects particularly those parts of him that have withdrawn from the influence of his own picture consciousness. Thus the physical and ether bodies especially attain a certain size and form, but in order that this may occur, the phenomena of consciousness withdraw. When, now, the life of the human being is removed from the influence of the sun, he is occupied with his own nature. An inner vivacity begins chiefly in the astral body, but the external shape becomes less conspicuous, less perfect in form. — Thus during the Moon evolution there are these two clearly distinguishable, alternating states of consciousness — a duller state during the sun period and a clearer state during the period in which life is more dependent upon itself. The first state is, indeed duller, but it is for that reason also more selfless. Man surrenders himself more to the outer world, to the universe mirrored in the sun. There is an alternation in the states of consciousness that may be compared with the alternation of sleeping and waking in the present human being, as well as with his life between birth and death on the one hand, and with the more spiritual existence between death and a new birth, on the other. The awakening on the Moon, when the sun period gradually ceases, should be characterized as a state intermediate between our present waking every morning and our being born. Likewise, the gradual dimming of consciousness at the approach of the sun period may be likened to an intermediate state between going to sleep and dying, for a consciousness of birth and death similar to the one belonging to present-day man did not yet exist on the ancient Moon. In a kind of sun-life the human being surrendered himself to the enjoyment of this life. He was, during this time, withdrawn from his own life. He lived more spiritually. Only an approximate and comparative description of what the human entity experienced in these periods can be attempted. He felt as though the causative forces of the cosmos streamed into him, pulsated through him. He felt as though intoxicated with the harmonies of the universe of which he partook. At such times his astral body was as though freed from the physical body, and a part of the life body was likewise withdrawn from it. This organism composed of astral body and life body was like a marvelous, delicate musical instrument upon whose strings the mysteries of the universe resounded, and the members of that part of the human being upon which consciousness had but little influence took on forms in response to the universal harmonies, for in these harmonies the sun beings were active. Thus, through spiritual cosmic tones this human part was given form. The alternation between the brighter state of consciousness and this duller one during the sun period was not as abrupt as is the alternation between waking and a completely dreamless sleep for man today. The picture consciousness, to be sure, was not as clear as the present waking consciousness; the other consciousness, in turn, was not as dull as the dreamless sleep of today. Thus the human being had a vague notion of the play of universal harmonies in his physical body and in that part of the ether body that had remained united with it. At the time during which the sun was not shining, as it were, for the human being, the imaginative thought pictures pervaded his consciousness instead of harmonies. Especially those members of the physical and ether bodies that were under the direct power of consciousness were then vivified. In contrast, however, the other parts of the human being, upon which the formative forces from the sun now had no influence, passed through a kind of hardening and drying out process. When the sun period again drew near, these old bodies disintegrated; they severed themselves from the human being and then, as though from the grave of his old corporeality, he arose, inwardly newly formed, although he was still insignificant in this new shape. A renewal of the life-processes had taken place. Through the activity of the sun beings and their harmonies the new-born body again reached its perfection and the process described above repeated itself. Man experienced this renewal as the donning of a new garment. The kernel of his being had not passed through an actual birth or death, it only had shed its skin, as it were, by passing over from a spiritual tone-consciousness in which it yielded itself up to the external world, to one in which it was turned more toward the inner life. The old body had become unusable; it was cast off and then renewed. This characterizes more exactly what was described above as a kind of reproduction, and of which it was said that it is closely related to visualizing activity. The human being has generated his kind with respect to certain parts of the physical and ether bodies. Yet there is no engendering of a daughter being completely distinguished from its parent, but the essential kernel of the latter passes over into the former. This kernel does not produce a new being, but brings itself forth in a new form. Thus the Moon human being experiences a change of consciousness. When the sun epoch approaches, his visualizations become duller and duller, and a state of blissful surrender pervades him. Within his quiet inner being resound cosmic harmonies. Toward the end of this period the images in the astral body begin to revive. Man begins to feel and experience himself. He experiences something like an awakening from the blissfulness and quiet into which he was immersed during the sun period. In this connection yet another important experience occurs. With the new awakening of the picture consciousness the individual man perceives himself as though enveloped in a cloud that had descended upon him like a being from the cosmos. He feels this being as something belonging to him, as a completion of his own nature. He feels it as something that gives him his own existence; he feels it as his ego. This being is one of the Sons of Life. He feels toward this being somewhat as follows, “I lived in this being even during the sun period of the Moon when I had surrendered myself to the glory of the cosmos, but at that time it was invisible to me. Now, however, it becomes visible to me.” It is also from this same Son of Life that the power proceeds that produces the activity performed by man upon his own bodily nature during the sunless period. Then when the sun period again approaches, man feels as if he himself became one with the Son of Life. Even though he may not behold him, nevertheless he feels himself intimately united with the Son of Life.
The relationship to the Sons of Life was of such a character that not each individual human being had a Son of Life for himself, but a whole group of human beings felt that one of these beings belonged to it. Thus on the Moon the inhabitants lived divided into such groups, and every group looked up to a Son of Life as the common group ego. The difference between the groups became apparent through each group having a different form, especially in its ether bodies. But since the physical bodies are formed in accordance with the ether bodies, the differences in the latter were imprinted upon the former, and the various human groups appeared as so many different types of men. When the Sons of Life looked down upon the human groups belonging to them, they saw themselves, as it were, manifolded in the individual human beings. In this way they experienced their own egohood. They mirrored themselves in the human beings. This was also the task of the human senses at that time. We have seen that these did not yet transmit any external objective perceptions. But they reflected the being of the Sons of Life. What these Sons of Life perceived through this reflection gave to them their ego consciousness. It was, however, the images of the dull, vague Moon consciousness that were aroused in the human astral body by this reflection. — The effect of this activity of man, achieved in reciprocal relationship with the Sons of Life, brought into existence the first traces of the nervous system in the physical body. The nerves represent a sort of extension of the senses into the inner nature of the human body.
From this description it can be seen how the three categories of spirits, the Spirits of Personality, the Fire Spirits, and the Sons of Life, are active upon the Moon man. If the main period of the Moon evolution — the middle evolutionary period — is considered, we may say that it was then that the Spirits of Personality implanted independence, the character of personality, in the human astral body. It is due to this fact that during the time when the sun does not shine on the human being, as it were, he can turn in upon himself, is able to fashion himself. The Fire Spirits manifest themselves in the ether body to the degree that this body imprints upon itself the independent human structure. It is because of them that the human being feels himself to be again the same being each time after the renewal of his body. A kind of memory is thus given to the ether body through the Fire Spirits. The Sons of Life work upon the physical body in such a way that it is able to become the expression of the now independent astral body. They thus make it possible for this physical body to become a physiognomic copy of its astral body. On the other hand, higher spiritual beings, especially the Spirits of Form and the Spirits of Movement, intervene in the formation of physical and ether bodies insofar as these develop in the sun periods independent of the autonomous astral body. It is from the sun that their intervention occurs in the manner described above.
Under the influence of such facts the human being gradually matures in order to develop in itself the germ of spirit self, just as in the second half of the Saturn evolution the human being developed the germ of spirit man, and on the Sun the germ of life spirit. Through this, all relationships on the Moon change. Through the successive changes and renewals human beings have become ever more noble and delicate. They have also gained in strength. As a result, the picture consciousness was increasingly preserved also during the sun cycles. In this way it acquires an influence over the formation of the physical and ether bodies that formerly happened only through the activity of the sun beings. What happened on the Moon through the human beings and the spirits united with them became more and more like the former achievements of the sun with its higher beings. As a result, these sun beings could increasingly apply their forces for the sake of their own evolution and because of this the Moon became ready, after a certain length of time, to be reunited with the sun. — Spiritually perceived, these processes appear as follows. The revolting Moon beings have been gradually overcome by the sun beings and must now adjust themselves by becoming subject to them, so that the functions of both are in mutual harmony. — This happened only after long preceding epochs in which the Moon cycles became shorter and shorter and the sun cycles longer and longer. A cycle of evolution now begins during which sun and Moon are again a single cosmic organism. At this time the physical human body has become wholly etheric. — When this is said, it must not be imagined that under such conditions we cannot speak of a physical body. What has been formed as physical body during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions still remains present. It is important to recognize the physical not only where it manifests outwardly physically. The physical can also be present in such a way that it can show externally the form of the etheric, and indeed, even show the form of the astral. It is important to differentiate between external appearances and inner laws. A physical body can become etherized or astralized, yet at the same time retain its physical laws. This is the case when the human physical body on the Moon has reached a certain degree of perfection. It becomes ether-like. When, however, supersensible consciousness — able to observe things of this kind — turns its attention to such an ether-like body, it appears to it permeated not by the laws of the etheric but by the laws of the physical. The physical is taken up into the etheric in order to rest there and be fostered as in a maternal womb. Later it appears again in physical form but at a higher stage. Were the human Moon being to keep its physical body in the grossly physical form, the Moon would never be able to reunite itself with the sun. By the acquisition of an etheric form, the physical body becomes more related to the ether body and it can, moreover, be permeated again more inwardly by those parts of the ether and astral bodies that, during the sun periods of the Moon evolution, had to withdraw from it. The human entity, which appeared like a double being during the separation of sun and Moon, becomes again a unified being. The physical becomes more soul-like, and the soul in turn more closely united with the physical. — The sun spirits, into whose direct sphere this unitary human being has now come, are able to work upon him quite differently from the time when they worked from without, downward upon the Moon. The human being is now more in a soul and spirit environment. Through this fact the Spirits of Wisdom can achieve a significant effect. They imprint wisdom in him. They ensoul him with wisdom. He becomes in this way in a certain sense an independent soul. To the influence of these beings is added that of the Spirits of Motion. They act especially upon the astral body in such a way that, under the influence of the beings described, it evolves a soul activity and a life of ether body filled with wisdom. The wisdom-filled ether body is the first germinal nucleus of what has been described in an earlier chapter as the intellectual soul in present-day humanity, whereas the astral body stimulated by the Spirits of Motion contains the germinal nucleus of the sentient soul. Because all this is brought about within the human entity in its increased state of independence, these germinal nuclei of the intellectual and sentient souls appear as the expression of spirit self. The mistake must not be made of thinking that, at this period of evolution, spirit self is something special, independent of the intellectual and sentient souls. These latter are only the expression of spirit self that signifies their higher unity and harmony.
It is of special significance that during this epoch the Spirits of Wisdom intervene in the manner described. They do this not alone in respect of the human being but also of the other kingdoms that have developed upon the Moon. When the sun and Moon again become united, these lower kingdoms are drawn within the sphere of the sun. All that was physical in them becomes etherized. Thus, just as human beings are to be found on the sun, so there are also to be found mineral-plants and plant-animals. These other creatures, however, remain endowed with their own laws. They feel, therefore, like strangers in their new surroundings. They appear with a nature that has little in common with that of their environment. But since they have an etheric form, the activity of the Spirits of Wisdom can extend to them also. All that has come from the Moon into the sun is now permeated with the forces of the Spirits of Wisdom. Therefore what is fashioned from the sun-Moon organism within this evolutionary period may be called the “Cosmos of Wisdom.” — When our Earth system, as a descendant of this Cosmos of Wisdom, appears after a rest period, all the beings coming to life again upon the Earth, springing forth from their Moon nuclei, show themselves filled with wisdom. Thus we see the reason why the present earth man, looking attentively at the things about him, can discover wisdom in the nature of their being. We can marvel at the wisdom in each plant leaf, in each animal and human bone, in the miraculous structure of the brain and heart. When man needs wisdom in order to understand things, that is, when he extracts wisdom from them, it shows that wisdom exists in the things themselves. For however much the human being might try to understand the things by means of ideas filled with wisdom, he would be unable to extract any wisdom from them were it not already embodied in the things themselves. Anyone who wishes by means of wisdom to comprehend things that, as he thinks, have not first received wisdom, may also imagine that he can take water out of a glass into which none has previously been poured. The Earth, as will be seen later on in this book, is the resurrected ancient Moon. It appears as a wisdom-filled organism because in the epoch described it has become permeated by the forces of the Spirits of Wisdom.
It will, it is hoped, appear comprehensible that in this description of the Moon conditions only certain transitory forms of evolution could be concentrated upon. Certain things in the progress of events had to be selected and emphasized for the description. This kind of description offers, to be sure, only single pictures, and the preceding descriptions of evolution may therefore seem lacking through not being woven into a web of definitely fixed concepts. In regard to such an objection attention may perhaps be drawn to the fact that the description has intentionally been given in less concise concepts. For it is not so much a question here of the construction of speculative concepts and ideas, but rather of a mental picture of what can present itself to the spiritual eye through supersensible perception directed to these facts. These facts do not appear in such sharp and definite outlines in the Moon evolution as is the case with the perceptions on our earth. In the Moon epoch we are concerned with vacillating, changing impressions, with fluctuating, mobile pictures, and with their transitions. Besides this, we must consider the fact that we are concerned with an evolution covering long, long periods of time and that in describing this, only momentary pictures can be seized on and fixed.
At the point of time when the astral body implanted in the human being has advanced him so far in his evolution that his physical body gives the Sons of Life the possibility of attaining their human stage, the actual climax of the Moon epoch is reached. At that time the human being also has attained all that this epoch can give him for his inner development on the forward path. The following cycle, that is, the second part of the Moon evolution, can be designated as one of ebb-tide. But it can be seen that with respect to the human environment and also to man himself something most important transpires just at this period. It is then that wisdom is implanted within the sun-Moon body. We have seen that during this ebb-tide the nuclei of the intellectual and sentient souls are engendered. Yet it is not until the Earth period that their unfolding and that of the consciousness soul occurs together with the birth of the ego, of independent self-consciousness. At the Moon stage, the intellectual and sentient souls do not yet appear as though the human being himself were able to express himself through them, but as though they were instruments for the Sons of Life belonging to the human being. If we wish to characterize the feeling that man had on the Moon in regard to this, we would have to say that he felt as follows. “The Son of Life lives in and through me; he beholds the Moon environment through me; he thinks in me about the things and beings in this environment.” The Moon man feels overshadowed by his Son of Life, he experiences himself as the instrument of this higher being, and during the separation of sun and Moon, when the Moon was turned away from the sun, he had a feeling of greater independence. At the same time he also felt as if the ego belonging to him, which had disappeared from his picture-consciousness during the sun cycles, now became visible to him. This was for the Moon human being what we might call alternation in the states of consciousness. This gave him the feeling, “In the sun period my ego soars away with me up into higher regions to sublime beings, and, when the sun disappears, it descends with me into lower worlds.”
A preparatory period preceded the actual Moon evolution. A kind of repetition of the Saturn and Sun evolution occurred at that time. Then, after the reunion of the sun and Moon in the ebb-tide period, two epochs can likewise be distinguished during which there take place, to a certain degree, even physical condensations. The psycho-spiritual states of the sun-Moon organism alternate with physical states. In these physical epochs the human beings, and likewise the beings of the lower kingdoms, appear in stiff forms, lacking independence, forms that were forecasts of what they were to become as more independent shapes later on in the Earth evolution. Thus we can speak of two preparatory periods of the Moon evolution and of two others during the time of ebb-tide. Such epochs can be called cycles. In what follows the two preparatory cycles, and that precedes the two cycles of ebb-tide — that is, in the time of the Moon separation — three epochs can also be distinguished. It is in the middle epoch of these three that the Sons of Life reach their human status. Prior to this there is an epoch during which all conditions lead to a concentration on achieving this main event. Then another epoch follows that can be described as a condition in which the beings become familiar with and develop the new creations. Thus the middle period of the Moon evolution is divided into three epochs. Together with the two preparatory and the two ebb-tide epochs, they make seven Moon cycles. It may thus be said that the entire Moon evolution runs its course in seven cycles. Between these cycles lie rest periods that have been mentioned previously. We shall arrive at a true conception of the situation only if we do not imagine abrupt transitions between periods of activity and those of rest. The sun beings, for example, withdraw, little by little, from their activity on the Moon. A time begins for them that, outwardly observed, appears like their period of rest, while upon the Moon itself, animated, independent activity reigns. Thus the period of activity of one kind of being extends into the rest period of other beings. If we take these things into account we can speak of a rhythmic rising and falling of forces in cycles. Indeed, similar divisions can also be observed within the seven Moon cycles described. We can then call the whole Moon evolution a great cycle, a planetary cycle; the seven divisions within one of these cycles, small cycles, and the divisions of these last again still smaller sub-cycles. This membering into seven times seven sections is already observable in the Sun evolution and is indicated also during the Saturn epoch. Yet we must consider the boundaries between the divisions as being blurred on the Sun and as being still more vague on Saturn. The boundary lines become more and more clearly defined the farther evolution proceeds toward Earth.
After the conclusion of the Moon evolution described in the foregoing sketch, all beings and forces concerned appear in a more spiritual form of existence, a form that stands at a quite different level from that of the Moon period and also from that of the subsequent Earth evolution. A being who possessed such highly developed capacities of cognition that he could perceive all the details of the Moon and Earth evolutions would not necessarily be able also to perceive what happens between the two evolutions. For such an individual, the beings and forces at the end of the Moon period would disappear as though into nothingness and after the lapse of an interim make their appearance again out of the dim darkness of the cosmic womb. Only a being possessing still higher faculties could follow up the spiritual events that occur in this interim.
At the end of the interval of rest from outer activity, the beings who had taken part in the evolutionary processes on Saturn, Sun, and Moon appear with new abilities and faculties. The beings standing above men have acquired, through their previous acts, the capacity to develop the human being to such a point that, during the Earth period following the Moon period, he can unfold in himself a degree of consciousness that stands one stage higher than the picture-consciousness possessed by him during the Moon period. Man, however, must first be prepared to receive what is to be bestowed upon him. During the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions he invested his being with a physical, life, and astral body, but these members of his being have received only the capacities and forces that enable them to live in a picture-consciousness; they still lack the organs and structure enabling them to perceive a world of outer sense objects as it is required for the Earth stage. Just as the new plant only develops what is inherent in the seed coming from the old plant, so in the beginning of the new stage of evolution the three members of human nature appear with structures and organs that make possible the development of picture-consciousness only. They must first be prepared for the development of a higher stage of consciousness. — This takes place in three preliminary stages. In the first stage, the physical body is raised to a level where it is possible to make the necessary transformation that can be the basis for an objective consciousness. This is a preliminary stage of the Earth evolution, which may be termed a repetition of Saturn at a higher level, for during this period, just as during the Saturn evolution, higher beings work only upon the physical body. When the physical body has progressed far enough in its evolution, all beings must again pass over into a higher form of existence before the life or ether body can also advance. The physical body must be remodeled, as it were, in order to be able, when it unfolds again, to receive the more highly developed life body. After this intermediate period devoted to a higher form of existence, something like a repetition of the Sun evolution takes place on a higher level for the purpose of developing the life body. Again after an intermediate period something similar happens for the astral body in a repetition of the Moon evolution.
Let us now turn to the events of evolution after the completion of the third of the recapitulation periods just described. All beings and forces have again become spiritualized. During this spiritualization they have ascended into sublime worlds. The lowest of these worlds in which something of these beings and forces can still be perceived during this period of spiritualization, is the same world in which the present human being dwells between death and re-birth. These are the regions of the land of spirits. The beings and forces then gradually descend again to lower worlds. Before the physical Earth evolution begins, they have descended so far that their lowest manifestations are to be perceived in the astral or soul world.
Everything human existing at this period still possesses its astral form. In order to understand this state of humanity, special attention should be given to the fact that man possesses a physical body, a life body, and an astral body, but that the physical body as well as the life body do not yet exist in a physical or etheric form, but in an astral form. What at that time makes the physical body physical is not its physical form but the physical laws that are present in it, although it has an astral form. It is a being ruled by physical laws appearing in soul form. This is also true of the life body.
At this stage of evolution the Earth stands before the spiritual eye as a cosmic being that is wholly soul and spirit, and in which the physical and life forces still appear in soul form. Within this cosmic structure everything that is to be transformed later into the creatures of the physical earth is contained in a germinal state. This cosmic Earth being is luminous, but its light is not one that physical eyes could perceive, even were they present, for it gleams with soul radiance only for the opened eye of the seer.
In this cosmic being something now takes place that may be called a condensation, which after a time results in a fire form appearing in the midst of this soul structure, a form similar to Saturn in its densest condition. This fire form is interwoven with the activities of the various beings who participate in evolution. What may be observed as a reciprocal activity between these beings and the celestial body is like an emerging from the Earth fire-ball and a reimmersing in it. Therefore the Earth fire-ball is by no means a uniform substance, but something like an organism permeated with soul and spirit. The beings who are destined to become human beings in our present form on the Earth are still in a condition in which they participate the least in the activity of immersion in the fire-body. They still remain almost wholly in the non-condensed environment. They still are within the bosom of the higher spiritual beings. At this stage they touch the fire Earth only with one point of their soul form, with the result that the heat causes a part of their astral form to condense. Through this fact, Earth life is enkindled within them, but the largest part of their being still belongs to the world of soul and spirit. Only through the contact with the Earth fire does the warmth of life play around them. If we wish to form a sensible-supersensible picture of this human being in the beginning of the physical Earth period, we must imagine an egg-shaped soul form, existing in the surroundings of the Earth enclosed by a cup at its lower end like an acorn. But the substance of the cup consists purely of heat or fire. The enkindling of life within the human being was not the only result of this enclosure in heat, but simultaneously with it a change in the astral body occurred. Inserted into it is the primal nucleus of what later becomes the sentient soul. Therefore, it may be said that at this stage of his existence man consists of sentient soul, astral body, life body, and physical body woven of fire. The spiritual beings who take part in human existence surge up and down in the astral body; through the sentient soul man feels himself bound to the body of the Earth. At this time, therefore, he has a preponderant picture-consciousness in which the spiritual beings manifest themselves. He lies within their bosom, and the sensation of his own bodily existence appears only as a point within this consciousness. From the spiritual world he looks down, as it were, upon an earthly possession about which he feels, “That is mine.” — The condensation of the Earth advances further and further and with it the characterized organizing of man becomes ever more distinct. At a definite point of time in its evolution the Earth becomes condensed to such a degree that only a part remains fiery. Another part has taken on a substantial form that may be represented as gas or air. A change now takes place also in man. Not only the Earth heat touches his organism, but air substance is drawn into his fire body. Just as heat has enkindled life in him, so air playing about him produces an effect that may be likened to spiritual tone; his life body resounds. At the same time the astral body detaches a part of itself; this becomes the primal nucleus of what appears later as the intellectual soul. — In order to form a picture of what is taking place at this time within the human soul, we must realize that beings higher than men surge up and down within the air-fire body of the Earth. In the fire Earth we have first the Spirits of Personality who are of importance to man, and when the latter is aroused to life by the Earth heat, his sentient soul says to itself, “These are the Spirits of Personality.” Likewise, the beings who have been called Archangels — in the sense of Christian esotericism — proclaim themselves in the air body, and when the air plays about the human being it is their activities that he experiences in himself as tone; the intellectual soul says to itself, “These are the Archangels.” Thus, at this stage man does not yet perceive through his connection with the Earth what might be called an aggregation of physical objects, but he lives in sensations of heat arising in him and in sounding tone; in these heat streams and tone waves he perceives the Spirits of Personality and the Archangels. He cannot, however, perceive these beings directly; he can only sense them through the veil of heat and tone. While these perceptions coming from the Earth penetrate his soul, still rising and falling within it are the images of the higher beings in whose bosom he feels his existence.
The evolution of the Earth now advances further and its continuation expresses itself again in condensing. The Earth receives the watery substance into its body, which now consists of three members — the fiery, the airy, and the watery elements. Prior to this an important event takes place. An independent cosmic body severs itself from the fire-air Earth. This becomes in its subsequent evolution the present sun. 4The early stage of our present sun, now spelt with small s. (Tr.) Previously, Earth and sun were one body. After the separation of the sun, the Earth 5Earth spelt thus, with a capital E, means the cosmic body containing the moon and other planets after the sun separation. (Tr.) still contains within it all that comprises the present moon. The separation of the sun takes place because exalted beings can no longer endure the matter now condensed to water in their own evolution and in their task for the advancement of the Earth. They extract from the general Earth mass the substance alone suited to their purposes and withdraw in order to establish a new habitation in the present sun. They now send down their activities from the sun to the Earth. Man, however, needs for his further development a place of action in which substance continues to condense.
The incorporation of the watery substance into the Earth body is accompanied by a change in the human being. Not only does fire stream into him and air play about him, but watery substance is incorporated into his physical body. At the same time his etheric part undergoes a change and he perceives it now as a delicate body of light. Previously he felt the streams of heat arising from the Earth, he experienced air pressing upon him through tones. Now the watery element also penetrates his fire-air body, and he perceives its instreaming and outstreaming as a flashing up and dimming of light. In his soul also a change has taken place. To the germs of the sentient and intellectual souls is now added that of the consciousness soul. In the water element the Angels are active; they are also the actual producers of light. The human being feels as though they appeared to him in light. — Certain higher beings who were previously within the Earth body now work down upon it from the sun; through all this there is a change in the effects on the Earth. Man chained to the Earth would no longer be able to sense the effects of the sun beings within himself if his soul were constantly turned toward the Earth from which he has received his physical body. An alternation now takes place in the states of human consciousness. The sun beings tear the human soul away from the physical body at certain times so that man now lives alternately within the bosom of the sun beings, purely as a soul, and at other times in a condition where he is united with the body and receives the influences of the Earth. If he is in the physical body, the streams of heat surge up to him; the air masses sound around him; the waters flow in and out of him. If he is outside his body, his soul is then permeated by the images of the higher beings in whose bosom he lives. — At this stage of its evolution the Earth experiences two alternating periods. During the one, it is permitted to weave its substances around the human souls and invest them with bodies; during the other, the souls desert it and only the bodies remain. It, together with the human beings, is in a sleeping state. It is entirely possible to say that at this time of the far distant past the Earth passes through a day and a night period. (This expresses itself physically and spatially in the movement of the Earth in relation to the sun as a result of the mutual action of the sun and Earth beings. In this way the alternation in the characterized day and night period is effected. The day period occurs when the Earth surface upon which man is evolving is turned toward the sun. The night period, that is, the time during which man leads a purely soul existence, occurs when this surface is turned away from the sun. It should not, however, be imagined that in that primeval epoch the Earth's movement around the sun was at all like that of the present. The conditions were then quite different. It is, however, useful to realize here that the movements of the heavenly bodies arise as a result of the relationships the spiritual beings inhabiting them bear to one another. The heavenly bodies are brought into such positions and movements through soul and spirit causes that the spiritual states are enabled to unfold themselves in the physical world.)
Were we to turn our glance toward the Earth during its night period we would see its body in a corpse-like state, for it consists in large part of the decaying bodies of human beings whose souls dwell in another state of existence. The organic, watery, and aeriform structures constituting the human bodies fall into decay and resolve themselves into the rest of the Earth mass. Only that part of the human body, which at the very beginning of the Earth evolution took form through the co-activity of fire and the human soul, and in consequence became continually denser, remains in existence like an outwardly inconspicuous germinal nucleus. What is said here about day and night should, therefore, not be taken to be at all similar to what is indicated by these terms at the present earth stage. If at the beginning of the day period the Earth again is a participant in the direct effect of the sun, then the human souls penetrate into the realm of physical life. They come in contact with the nuclei mentioned above and cause them to germinate so that the latter assume an external form that appears like a copy of the human soul nature. It is something like a gentle fructification that occurs between the human soul and the germinal human body. These souls thus embodied now begin also to draw in the surrounding air and water masses and to incorporate them into their bodies. The air is expelled from the organized body and then drawn in again; this is the first indication of what is later to become the breathing process. The water is also drawn in and then expelled; this is the origin of the process of nutrition. These processes are not yet externally perceived. A kind of outer perception occurs through the soul only in the already mentioned fructifying process. Then the soul feels dully its awakening into physical existence by coming in contact with the germinal body the Earth offers it. It hears something that may be expressed in the words, “That is my form!” and this feeling, which might also be called a dawning of the ego-feeling, remains in the soul during its entire connection with the physical body. The process of assimilating air, however, is felt by the soul as something entirely of a soul-spirit nature, entirely pictorial. It appears in the form of an up and down undulating tone-configuration that gives shape to the developing embryonic body. The soul feels itself surrounded completely by undulating tone, and it is conscious of how it fashions its own body according to these tone forces. Thus, at that stage, human forms took shape that are not observable by present-day human consciousness in an external world. They fashion themselves in plant and flowerlike structures of delicate substance that are inwardly mobile, appearing like fluttering flowers, and during the Earth period the human being experiences the blissful feeling of being fashioned into such forms. The absorption of the watery parts is felt in the soul as a source of power, as an inner strengthening. Seen from without it appears as growth of the physical human structure. With the waning of the direct effect of the sun the human soul also loses the power to control these processes. By degrees they are discarded. Only those parts remain that permit the above characterized germinal nucleus to ripen. The human being, however, forsakes his body and returns to the spiritual state of existence. (Since not all parts of the Earth body are used in fashioning human bodies, it should not be imagined that during the night period the Earth consists solely of decaying corpses and germinal nuclei awaiting to be wakened. All of these are embedded in other forms that take shape from the substances of the Earth. The condition of these will be shown later.)
The process of Earth-substance condensation now continues. The solid element, which may be called “earthy,” is added to the watery element. With this the human being also begins to invest his body with the earthy element during his sojourn on Earth. As soon as this investing process begins, the forces that the soul brings with it from the time it is freed from the body no longer have the same power as previously. Formerly, the soul fashioned the body for itself from the fiery, airy, and watery element according to the tones sounding around it and the light shapes playing about it. The soul is unable to do this with the solidified form. Other powers now intervene in the fashioning process. In the part of the human being that remains when the soul abandons the body, now not only a germinal nucleus is present, which is quickened by the returning soul, but an organism is present that contains also the vivifying force itself. By its severance, the soul does not leave behind on Earth merely a likeness of itself, but It also implants a part of its vivifying power into the likeness. When the soul reappears on Earth, it can no longer only awaken the likeness to life, but the quickening must take place in the likeness itself. The spiritual beings who affect the Earth from the sun sustain the quickening force in the human body although man himself is not on Earth. By incarnating, the soul feels not only the resounding tones and light shapes in which it senses the presence of the beings standing next above it, but through the intake of the Earth element it feels the influence of the still higher beings who have established their field of activity on the sun. Previously man felt himself belonging to the beings of soul and spirit with whom he was united when body-free. His ego still existed within their bosom. This ego now confronts him during physical embodiment while at the same time the surrounding world encompasses him. Independent likenesses of the soul-spirit nature of the human being were now on Earth, likenesses that, when compared with the present human bodies, were structures composed of delicate substantiality, for the earthy parts mingled with them only in the finest state, in a way comparable to the modern human being's absorption of the finely diffused substances of an object with his organ of smell. Human bodies were like shadows. Since they were distributed over the whole Earth, however, they became subject to the Earth influences, which varied at different points of its surface. While previously the bodily likenesses corresponded to the soul-men who animated them and, for that reason, were essentially similar to one another over the whole Earth, now variations appear among human forms. In this way what later emerged as race differentiation was prepared. — Coincident with the growing independence of the human bodily being there was a loosening of the previous close connection between the earth man and the soul-spirit world. When the soul now left the body, the latter lived on in a sort of continuation of life. — If evolution had continued in this way, the Earth would have had to harden under the influence of its solid element. Supersensible knowledge, looking back upon these conditions, perceives how the human bodies abandoned by their souls solidify more and more. After a time the souls returning to Earth would have found no usable material with which they might unite. All the substances suitable for the human being would have been employed in filling the Earth with the woodlike remains of incarnations.
An event then occurred that gave a different direction to the whole process of evolution. Everything was eliminated that could contribute to permanent induration in the solid Earth substance. At that time our present moon 6The early stage of our present moon, hereafter spelt with small m. (Tr.) withdrew from the Earth, and what had previously contributed directly to the fashioning of permanent forms in the Earth worked now indirectly in a diminished way from the moon. The higher beings upon whom this fashioning of form depends had decided no longer to bestow their effects upon the Earth from within it, but to bestow them upon it from the outside. As a result there appeared a variation in the bodily human structure that must be regarded as the beginning of the separation into two sexes, male and female. The human structures composed of fine substance that previously inhabited the Earth, permitted — through the co-operation within themselves of both these forces, the germinal and the engendering force — the new human form, their descendant, to come into existence. These descendants now transformed themselves. In the one group of such descendants, the soul-spirit germ force was more effective; in the other group it was the life-giving, engendering force that was more effective. This was caused by the weakening of the power of the Earth element through the withdrawal of the moon from the Earth. The interworking of both forces became more delicate than it was previously when it occurred in a single living individual. As a result the descendant, too, was more delicate, finer. He entered the earth 7The early stage of our present earth, hereafter spelt with a small e. (Tr.) existence in a delicately formed structure and only by degrees did the more solid substances pervade it. This gave the possibility for the soul — returning to earth — to unite itself again with the body. Now the soul quickened the body no longer from without, for this quickening occurred on the earth itself, but it united itself with it and caused it to grow. A certain limit, however, was set to this growth. As a result of the moon separation, the body had for a time become flexible, but the longer it continued to grow on the earth, the more the solidifying forces gained the upper hand. Finally, the soul was less and less able to participate in the organization of the body. The latter decomposed as the soul ascended to soul-spirit existence.
It is possible to trace how the forces that man gradually appropriated during the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions participate by degrees in human advancement during the fashioning of the earth just described. First, it is the astral body — which also contains both the life or ether body and physical body in a condition of dissolution within itself that is enkindled by the earth fire. Then this astral body is organized into a rarefied astral part, the sentient soul, and into a coarser part, the etheric, which is now affected by the earth element. With this the previously formed ether or life body makes its appearance. While the intellectual and consciousness souls fashion themselves within the astral human being, the coarser parts of the ether body, which are susceptible to tone and light, organize themselves within it. It is at the time when the ether body condenses itself still further, so that it is transformed from a light body into a fire or heat body, that the stage of evolution is reached in which, as described above, the parts of the solid earth element are incorporated into the human being. Because the ether body has condensed itself to the density of fire, it is now able through the forces of the physical body previously implanted in it to unite itself with the substances of the physical earth that have become attenuated to a condition of fire. It would, however, be unable by itself to infuse the body, which has become more dense in the meantime, also with the airy substances. Here, as indicated above, the higher beings dwelling on the sun interpose and breathe the air into it. Whereas man, by virtue of his past, has thus the power to infuse himself with earthly fire, higher beings guide the instreaming breath of air into his body. Before solidification, the human life body, as a receiver of tone, was the guide of the air stream. It permeated its physical body with life. This physical body now receives life from without. In consequence of this, this life becomes independent of the soul part of the human being who, by leaving the earth, not only leaves his germinal form behind, but also a living likeness of himself. The Spirits of Form remain united with this likeness; they lead the life bestowed by them upon the individual over to the descendants also after the human soul has left the body. Thus, what may be called heredity is developed. When the human soul appears again on earth, it feels itself in a body, the life of which has been transferred to it from the ancestors. It feels itself especially attracted to just such a body. As a result something is formed like a memory about the ancestor with whom the soul feels itself at one. Such a memory passes like a common consciousness through the line of descendants. The ego flows down through the generations.
At this stage of evolution, man felt himself during his earth existence as an independent being. He felt the inner fire of his life body united with the external fire of the earth. He was able to feel the heat streaming through him as his own ego. In these currents of heat, interwoven with life, the first tendency to form a blood circulation is to be found. The human being did not, however, quite feel his own being in what streamed into him as air. In this air the forces of the already described higher beings were active. But that part of the effective forces within the air streaming through him, which belonged to him already by virtue of his previously created ether forces, had remained. He was ruler in one part of these air currents and to the degree that this was so, not only did the higher beings operate in fashioning him, but he himself also assisted in his own formation. According to the images of his astral body he fashioned the air portions. While air thus streamed into the human being from without, becoming the basis of his breathing, a part of the air he contained developed into an organism that was then impressed into him; this became the foundation of the later nervous system. Thus man of that time was connected with the external world of the earth by warmth and air. On the other hand, he was unconscious of the introduction into his organism of the solid element of the earth; this element co-operated in bringing about his incarnation on earth, yet he was unable to perceive directly its infusion into himself, but could only perceive it in a dull state of consciousness in the pictures of higher beings who were active in this element. In such a picture form — as an expression of beings standing above him — man had previously perceived the introduction of the liquid earth elements into himself. As a result of the densification of his earth form, these pictures have now undergone a transformation in his consciousness. The liquid is admixed with the solid element. The infusion of this latter element also must thus be felt as something proceeding from higher beings acting from without. The human soul no longer possesses the power to infuse this element into itself, for this power must now serve the human body, which is built up from outside. Man would spoil its form were he to direct the introduction himself. What he infuses into himself from outside appears to him to be directed by the command of the higher beings who work on the fashioning of his bodily structure. Man feels himself as an ego, he has his intellectual soul within himself as a part of the astral body, through which he experiences inwardly in pictures what is taking place externally, and which permeates his delicate nervous system. He feels himself as the descendant of ancestors by virtue of the life flowing, through generations. He breathes and feels it as the effect of the higher beings, described as Spirits of Form, and he accepts what is brought to him through their impulses from the external world as nourishment. What is most obscure to him is his own origin as an individual. In regard to this he is only aware of having experienced an influence from the Spirits of Form expressing themselves in the forces of the earth. He was directed and guided in his relationship to the external world. This is expressed by his possession of a consciousness of the activities of spirit and soul taking place behind his physical environment. He does not perceive the spiritual beings in their own form, but in his soul he feels the presence of tone, of color, and other manifestations, and he knows that the deeds of spiritual beings live in this world of mental images. What these beings communicate to him, resounds to him; their manifestations are revealed to him in pictures of light. Through mental images received from fire and heat the earth man is most inwardly conscious of himself. He already distinguishes between his inner heat and the heat radiations of the earthly environment. In the latter the Spirits of Personality manifest themselves. The human being, however, has only a dim consciousness of what exists behind the radiating outer heat. He feels in these radiations the influence of the Spirits of Form. When powerful heat effects appear in the human environment, the soul feels within itself: “Now spiritual beings are sending their glow around the earth; from this a spark has been liberated, warming my inner being through and through.” — In the phenomena of light, the human being does not yet differentiate in the same way between the outer and inner worlds. When light images arise in the surroundings, they do not always produce the same feeling in his soul. There were times when he felt these pictures of light as something external. This was at the time when he had just descended from the body-free state into incarnation. It was his period of growth upon the earth. When the time approached for the fashioning of the germ for the new earth man, these pictures faded, and the human being only retained something like memory pictures of them. In these light pictures the deeds of the Fire Spirits, the Archangels, were contained. The latter appeared to man as the servants of the beings of heat who introduced a spark into his inner nature. When their external manifestations were extinguished, he felt them as memory pictures in his inner nature. He felt himself united with their forces, and this was indeed the fact. For he was able to act upon the surrounding atmosphere through what he had received from them. The atmosphere began to shine through this influence. This was a time when nature forces and human forces were not yet separated as they were later. What occurred on the earth proceeded to a large degree from the forces of man himself. Anyone who might have observed the processes of nature on the earth from the outside would not have seen in them merely something that was independent of the human being; he would have perceived in them the effects of human activity. The perceptions of tone took place in a different way for the earth man. From the beginning of earth life they were perceived as outer tones. Whereas the air images were perceived from without right up to the middle period of human earth existence, the outer tones could still be heard after this middle period. Only toward the end of life was the earth man no longer sensitive to them. The tone memories remained with him. In them were contained the revelations of the Sons of Life, the Angels. If the human being toward the end of his life felt himself united inwardly with these forces, then he was able by means of imitation of these forces to produce powerful effects on the water element of the earth. The waters surged in and over the earth under his influence. The human being had notions of taste only during the first quarter of his life, and even then they appeared to the soul like a memory of the experiences passed through in the body-free state. As long as he possessed this memory, the solidification of his body through absorption of outer substances continued. In the second quarter of earth life growth continued, although man's form was already completely developed. At this time he could perceive other living beings beside him only through their warmth, light, and tone effects, for he was not yet capable of visualizing the solid element. Only from the liquid element he obtained, in the first quarter of his life, the described effects of taste.
The external bodily form was an image of this inner soul condition of man. The parts that contained tendencies toward the subsequent head form were developed most perfectly. The other organs gave the impression of appendages. They were shadowy and unclear. The earth men, however, were varied in regard to form. In some the appendages were more or less developed according to the earthly conditions under which they lived. They were varied according to the earthly dwelling places of the human beings. Wherever the latter were entangled in the earth world to a greater degree, the appendages appeared more in the foreground. Those human beings who, as a result of their previous development, were the most mature at the beginning of physical earthly evolution, who right at the beginning — before the Earth had condensed to air — experienced the contact with the fire element, could now develop the head capacities most perfectly. These were the human beings who were most harmonious in their nature. Others were ready to come into contact with the element of fire only when the Earth had already developed the air element. These human beings were more dependent upon outer conditions than those described above who were able to feel the Spirits of Form clearly by means of heat and who during their earth life felt — as though preserved in a memory — that they belonged to these spirits and were united with them in their body-free condition. The second type of human being had only a slight memory of the body-free state; this type felt its relationship to the spiritual world chiefly through the light activity of the Fire Spirits, the Archangels. A third type of human being was still more entangled in earth existence; it was the type that could be affected by the fire element only when the Earth was separated from the sun and had received the watery element into its composition. The feeling of relationship to the spiritual world was especially weak in human beings of this type at the beginning of earth life. Only when the effect of the activity of the Archangels, and chiefly of the Angels, made itself evident in the inner mental life, did they feel this connection. On the other hand, at the commencement of the earth epoch they were full of active impulses for deeds that can be carried out in earthly conditions. These human beings were especially strongly developed in their appended organs.
Prior to the separation of the moon from the Earth, when the latter, through the presence of the moon forces, tended more and more toward solidification, it happened that because of these forces there were some among the descendants of the abandoned germinal human beings left behind on earth, in which the human souls, returning from the body-free state of existence, could no longer incarnate. The form of such descendants was too solidified, and, because of the moon forces, had become too dissimilar to the human form to be able to receive a human soul. Certain human souls, therefore, found it no longer possible under such circumstances to return to the Earth. Only the ripest and strongest souls were able to feel themselves equal to the task of remodeling the Earth body during its growth so that it blossomed forth bearing the form of a human being. Only a part of the bodily human descendants attained the ability to bear the earthly man. Another part, on account of the solidified form, was only able to receive souls of an order lower than the human being. A number of the human souls were compelled to forego Earth evolution at that time. They were, therefore, led to another course of life. There were souls who had been unable, even at the time when the sun separated from the Earth, to find a place in the latter. In order to develop further they were removed to a planet that, under the guidance of cosmic beings, had been severed from the common universal substance that at the beginning of physical Earth evolution was bound up with it, and from which the sun also had detached itself. This planet is the one whose physical expression is known to modern science as Jupiter. (We speak here of the celestial bodies, planets, and their names in exactly the same way as was the custom of a more ancient science. What is meant becomes clear from the context. Just as the physical earth is only the physical expression of a soul-spirit organism, so is that the case with every other celestial body. The supersensible observer does not intend to designate merely the physical planet by the name earth, not merely the physical fixed star by sun, but he has in mind a much wider spiritual connotation; this is also true when he speaks of Jupiter, Mars, and the other planets. The celestial bodies have changed essentially in regard to their configuration and task since the time spoken of here; in a certain respect, even their location in heavenly space has changed. Only someone who has traced back, with the penetration of supersensible knowledge, the evolution of these heavenly bodies right into the distant primeval past is capable of recognizing the connection between the present-day planets and their ancestors.) The souls described evolved further on Jupiter, and later on, as the earth showed an increasing tendency to become more solidified, still another dwelling place had to be fashioned for souls who, although they found it possible to inhabit these solidifying bodies for a certain length of time, could no longer do so when the solidification had advanced too far. For these a place on Mars was provided for their further evolution. Even at the time when the Earth was still bound to the sun and its air element had been inserted into its constitution, it became evident that certain souls proved to be unfit to participate in Earth evolution. They were too strongly affected by the earthly body configuration. Thus even at that time they had to be withdrawn from the direct influence of the sun forces. The latter had to act on them from without. For these souls, a place on Saturn was created for their further development. Thus in the course of Earth evolution the number of human shapes diminished; configurations appeared in whom human souls did not incarnate. They could receive only astral bodies in the same way the human physical and life bodies had received them on the ancient Moon. While the earth became a waste in regard to its human inhabitants, these beings colonized it. All human souls would have been compelled to forsake the earth finally, had not the withdrawal of the moon from the earth made it possible for the human forms — in which human souls at that time were still able to incarnate — to withdraw the germinal human being during their earth life from the influence of the moon forces that came directly from the earth and to let it mature within themselves as long as necessary until it could be surrendered to these moon forces. As long as the germinal human being then shaped Itself within the inner human nature, it came under the influence of the beings who had, under the guidance of their mightiest companion, separated the moon from the earth in order to carry the evolution of the latter over a critical point.
After the Earth had developed the air element within itself, there were astral beings, as described above, left over from the ancient Moon, who were greater laggards in evolution than the lowest human souls. These became the souls of the forms that had to be forsaken by human beings even before the separation of the sun from the Earth. These beings are the ancestors of the present animal kingdom. In the course of time, they developed the organs especially that were present in the human being only as appendages. Their astral body had to affect the physical and ether bodies in the same way that this was the case for human beings on the ancient Moon. The animals thus created had souls that could not reside in the individual animal. The soul extended its nature upon the inheritors of the forebear's form. The animals originating from a single configuration have a common soul. Only when the descendant under especial influences departs from the form of its forebear does a new animal soul commence its embodiment. We may speak in this sense in spiritual science in regard to animal souls of a species or group soul.
Something similar occurred at the time of the separation of the sun from the Earth. Forms emerged from the watery element that were no further evolved than the human being prior to evolution on the ancient Moon. They were able to receive the effect of the activity of an astral element only when this influenced them from outside. That could only occur after the separation of the sun from the Earth. With every repetition of the sun period of the Earth, the sun's astral element animated these forms in such a way that they constructed their life bodies from the Earth's etheric element. When the sun again turned away from the Earth, this life body dissolved into the common body of the Earth. As a result of the co-operation of the astral element of the sun with the ether element of the Earth there emerged from the watery element the physical structures that formed the ancestors of the present-day plant kingdom.
Upon the earth the human being has become an individualized soul-being. The astral body, which had flowed into him through the Spirits of Motion during the Moon evolution, became tripartite as sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul upon the earth. When his consciousness soul had advanced far enough so that during earth life it could form a body fit to receive it, the Spirits of Form endowed the human being with a spark of their own fire. The ego, the I, was enkindled within him. Every time the human being left the physical body he found himself in the spirit world in which he encountered beings who had given him his physical body, his life or ether body, and his astral body during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions and had brought them up to the level of the Earth evolution. Since the enkindling of the fire spark of the ego during earth life, a change had taken place also for the body-free life. Prior to this point in the evolution of his nature, man had no independence in regard to the spirit world. Within this spirit world he did not feel himself as an individual, but as a member of an exalted organism composed of the beings standing above him. The ego experience on earth now extends itself also into the spirit world. Man feels himself now to a certain degree as a unity in this world, but he feels also that he is constantly united with the same world. In the body-free state he finds again in a higher configuration the Spirits of Form whom he had perceived on earth in their manifestation through the spark of the ego.
With the separation of the moon from the earth, experiences that were connected with that separation developed also for the body-free soul in the spirit world. Only because a part of the shaping forces had been transferred from the earth to the moon was it possible to reproduce, on the earth, the human shapes that were able to receive the individuality of the soul. Through this fact the human individuality entered the sphere of the moon beings. The reflection of the earth individuality could only be effective in the body-free state through the fact that in this state also the soul remained in the sphere of the mighty spirits who had caused the moon separation. The process took place in such a way that immediately after the soul had forsaken the earth body it could perceive the exalted sun beings only in the reflected splendor of the moon beings. It was only after gazing at this splendor for a considerable length of time that the soul was sufficiently prepared to behold the sublime sun beings themselves.
The earth's mineral kingdom also came into existence through having been expelled from the general evolution of mankind. Its structures are what remained solidified when the moon separated from the earth. Only that part of soul nature felt itself attracted to these forms that had remained on the Saturn stage and is thus fit only to fashion physical forms. All events under consideration here and in the following pages occurred in the course of vast lengths of time. We cannot, however, enter here into a discussion of chronology.
The events described here present Earth evolution from the external side. When observed spiritually it can be said that the spiritual beings who withdrew the moon from the earth and united their own existence with it, thus becoming earth-moon beings, caused a certain configuration of the human organism to take place by sending forces from this cosmic body down upon the earth. Their activity was directed upon the ego acquired by the human being. This activity made itself felt in the interplay between this ego and the astral body, ether body, and physical body. As a result it became possible for man to reflect within himself consciously the wisely fashioned configuration of the world, to reflect it as though in a mirror of knowledge. It may be remembered in our description how, during the ancient Moon period, the human being acquired through the separation of the sun at that time a certain independence in his organism and a less restricted degree of consciousness than could be derived directly from the sun beings, This free, independent consciousness reappeared during the characterized period of Earth evolution as a heritage of the ancient Moon evolution. But this very consciousness, brought again into harmony with the cosmos through the influence of the earth-moon beings referred to above, could be made into a copy of it. This would have happened had no other influence made itself felt. Without such an influence man would have become a being in whom the content of consciousness would not have reflected the cosmos in the images of cognitional life through his own free volition, but as a necessity of nature. This did not occur. Certain spiritual beings took an active part in the evolution of mankind just at the time of the moon separation, beings who had retained so much of their Moon nature that they could not participate in the separation of the sun from the earth; they were excluded also from the activity of the beings who, from the earth-moon, directed their activity upon the earth. These beings with the ancient Moon nature were confined with their irregular development to the earth. In their Moon nature lay the cause of their rebellion during the ancient Moon evolution against the sun spirits, a rebellion that was at that time beneficial to the human being by its having led him to an independent state of consciousness. The consequences of the peculiar development of these beings during the Earth epoch entailed their becoming — during that time — enemies of the beings who, from the moon, wished to turn human consciousness into a universal mirror of knowledge under the compulsion of necessity. What on the ancient Moon had helped man to a higher state proved to be in opposition to the possibilities that had developed through Earth evolution. The opposing powers had brought with them, out of their Moon nature, the force to work on the human astral body, namely, in the sense of the above descriptions, to make it independent. They exercised this force by giving the astral body a certain independence now also for the earth period — in contrast to the compelled (unfree) state of consciousness that was caused by the beings of the earth-moon. It is difficult to express in current language how the activity of the characterized spiritual beings affected human beings in the indicated primeval period. We may neither think of this activity as something like a present-day nature force, nor as something like the action of one man upon another when with words the first man calls forth in the second inner forces of consciousness, through which the second learns to understand something or is stirred to perform a moral or immoral deed. The effect described as taking place in the primeval age was not a nature effect but a spiritual influence, having spiritual effects, transferring itself spiritually from the higher beings to the human being in accordance with his state of consciousness at that time. If we think of this matter as a nature activity then we miss entirely its true, essential character. If we say, on the other hand, the beings endowed with the ancient Moon nature approached the human being in order to “seduce” him for their own ends, we employ a symbolic expression that is good as long as we remain conscious of its symbolical character and are at the same time clear in our own minds that behind the symbol stands a spiritual fact, a spiritual reality.
The effect that proceeded from the spiritual beings who had remained behind in their ancient Moon state had a twofold consequence for man. His consciousness was divested of the character of a mere reflector of the cosmos, because the possibility was aroused in the human astral body to regulate and control, by means of it, the images arising in the consciousness. Man became the master of his knowledge. On the other hand, it was just the astral body that became the starting point of this control, and the ego, set above this body, became thus steadily dependent upon it. As a result the future human being was exposed to the continuous influences of a lower element in his nature. It was possible for him during his life to sink below the height at which he had been placed by the earth-moon beings in the course of world events. The continuous influence of the characterized irregularly developed Moon beings remained with him throughout the subsequent periods. These moon beings, in contrast to the others who from the earth-moon satellite fashioned human consciousness into a cosmic mirror but gave no independent will, may be called Luciferic spirits. These spirits brought to the human being the possibility of unfolding a free activity in his consciousness, but at the same time also the possibility of error, of evil.
The consequence of these processes was that man came into quite a different relationship with the sun spirits from the one for which he was predestined by the earth-moon spirits. The latter wished to develop the mirror of his consciousness in such a way that the influence of the sun spirits would be the dominant one in the whole of human soul life. These processes were thwarted, and in the human being the contrast was created between the sun spirit influence and the influence of the spirits with an irregular Moon evolution. Through this contrast the human being became unable to recognize the physical sun activity as such; it remained concealed behind the earthly impressions of the outer world. The astral nature of man filled by these impressions was drawn into the sphere of the ego. This ego, which otherwise would have felt only the spark of fire bestowed on it by the Spirits of Form, and in everything that concerned the outer fire would have subordinated itself to the commands of these spirits, this ego now — because of the astral element injected into it — exerted its influence also upon the outer heat phenomena. Through creating a bond of attraction between itself and the earth fire, the ego entangled man in earthly matter more than was predestined for him. Whereas previously he had a physical body, which in its principal parts consisted of fire, air, and water, and to which was added only something like a shadowy semblance of earth substance, now the body became denser because of the presence of earth substance. Whereas man existed previously like a finely organized being swimming, hovering over the solid earth surface, he was compelled now to descend from the earth's environment down upon such parts of the earth as were already more or less solidified.
That such physical effects could result from the above described spiritual influences becomes comprehensible through the fact of their being of the sort described above. They were neither nature influences nor soul influences acting from one human being upon another. The latter do not extend their effects as far into the bodily nature as do the spiritual forces that are here under consideration. Because the human being exposed himself to the influences of the outer world through his own visualizations subject to error, because he lived under the impulsion of desire and passion that did not permit of regulation by higher spiritual influences, the possibility of disease appeared. A special effect of the Luciferic influence, however, was that man could now no longer feel his single earth life as a continuation of the body-free existence. He received now earth impressions that could be experienced through the inoculated astral element and that united themselves with the forces destroying the physical body. Man felt this as the dying out of his earth life, and through it death, caused by human nature itself, made its appearance. With this a significant mystery in human nature is indicated, namely, the connection of the human astral body with sickness and death.
Special relationships now appeared for the human life body. It was placed in a relationship to the physical and astral bodies that, in a certain sense, deprived it of the faculties the human being had acquired through the Luciferic influence. A part of this life body remained outside the physical body, so that it could not be controlled by the human ego, but only by higher beings. These higher beings were the same who, at the time of the sun separation, had forsaken the earth under the leadership of one of their exalted companions in order to take up another dwelling place. If the characterized part of the life body had remained united with the astral body, man would have put supersensible forces to his own use that formerly were his own. He would have extended the Luciferic influence also to these forces. As a result man would have thus gradually separated himself entirely from the sun beings, and his ego would have become completely an earth-ego. Consequently, after the death of the physical body — indeed even during its deterioration — this earth-ego would have been obliged to inhabit another physical body — the body of a descendant — without going through a union with higher spiritual beings in a body-free condition. Man would have become conscious of his ego, but only as an earth-ego. This was averted by the above-mentioned event, involving the life body, caused by the earth-moon beings. The actual individual ego was released from the mere earth-ego to such a degree that man felt himself only partially as his own ego during earth life; at the same time he felt that his own earth-ego was an extension of the earth-ego of his forebears throughout the generations. In earth life the soul felt the existence of a sort of group ego right back to the earliest ancestor and man felt himself as a member of the group. Only in the body-free state was the individual ego able to feel itself as an independent being. But this state of separateness was impaired because the ego was afflicted with the memory of the earth consciousness, the earth-ego. This darkened the vision of the spirit world, which began to cover itself with a veil between death and birth as was the case for physical vision on earth.
The physical expression of all the changes that occurred in the spirit world while human evolution went through the described conditions was the gradual regulation of the reciprocal relationships of sun, moon, and earth, and in a broader sense also of the other heavenly bodies. The alternation of day and night can be emphasized as being one consequence of these relationships. (The movements of the heavenly bodies are regulated by the beings inhabiting them. The movement of the earth through which day and night occur was caused by the reciprocal relationships of the various spirits standing above man. In like manner also the movement of the moon was caused, in order that after its separation from and the revolving around the earth the Spirits of Form could act in the right way, with the right rhythm, upon the physical human body.) During the day the human ego and astral body worked in the physical and life bodies. At night this activity ceased. The ego and astral body left the physical and life bodies. They entered during this period entirely into the realm of the Sons of Life (the Angels), of the Spirits of Fire (the Archangels), of the Spirits of Personality, and the Spirits of Form. Besides the Spirits of Form, the Spirits of Motion, the Spirits of Wisdom, and the Thrones included at that time the physical and life bodies in their sphere of action. It was thus possible that the injurious influences, which during the day were exercised upon the human being through the errors of the astral body, could be repaired.
As the human beings now multiplied again on earth, there was no longer any reason why human souls should not have incarnated in their descendants. The influence of the earth-moon forces of that time permitted human bodies to develop, that were thoroughly fit to embody human souls. The souls who previously were removed to Mars, to Jupiter, and to other planets, were led to the earth. There was in consequence a soul present for every human descendant born within the cycle of generations. This continued through long periods, so that the soul migrations to the earth corresponded to the increase in the number of human beings. The souls who left the body at death retained in the body-free state the echo of the earthly individuality like a memory. This memory acted in such a way that when bodies corresponding to the souls were born on earth, they reincarnated in them. As time went on, there were among, the human offspring human beings who had souls coming from the outside, who had for the first time since the earliest ages of the Earth appeared again upon it, and there were others having earthly-reincarnated souls. In the subsequent period of the Earth evolution, there were fewer and fewer of the young souls appearing for the first time and more and more of the reincarnated souls. Nevertheless, for long ages the human race consisted of the two kinds of human beings resulting from these facts. On earth, man felt more united by a common group-ego with his forebears. The experience of the individual ego was, however, all the stronger in the body-free state between death and a new birth. The souls who came from celestial space and entered human bodies were in a different position from those who already had one or more earth lives behind them. The former brought along with them for the physical earth life only the conditions to which they were subjected by the higher spiritual world and by their experiences made outside the earth region. The others had themselves in previous lives added new conditions. The destiny of the former souls was determined only by facts that lay outside the new earth relationships. The destiny of the reincarnated souls was also determined by what they themselves had done in previous lives under earthly conditions. With reincarnation there appeared at the same time individual human karma. — Through the fact that the human life body was withdrawn from the influence of the astral body, in the manner indicated above, the conditions of reproduction also were not within the scope of human consciousness, but were subject to the dominion of the spiritual world. If a soul was to sink down to the sphere of the earth, the reproductive impulses of the human earth being appeared. To earthly consciousness the entire process was to a certain degree enveloped in a mysterious obscurity. — But the consequences of this partial separation of the life body from the physical appeared also during earth life. The capabilities of this life body could be easily increased by means of spiritual influence. In the life of the soul this expressed itself through an especial perfection of memory. Independent, logical thinking was at this period only in its very beginnings. The capacity of memory was, on the other hand, almost limitless. Externally, it was evident that the human being had direct knowledge — tinged with feeling of the active forces of every living thing. He was able to employ in his service the forces of life and reproduction of animal nature, and chiefly those of plant nature. He could extract, for example, the force that causes plant growth and employ it in much the same way that the forces of inanimate nature are used at the present time, for example, the way the forces slumbering in coal are extracted and employed to set machines in motion. — Also the inner soul life of man was changed through the Luciferic influence in the most manifold way. Many examples of feelings and sensations due to it could be given. Only a few instances, however, will be described. Prior to the advent of the Luciferic influence, the human soul carried out all its activities in line with the intentions of higher spiritual beings. The plan of all that should be accomplished was determined from the beginning, and to the degree that human consciousness was developed it could foresee how, in the future, evolution would be compelled to proceed in accordance with the preconceived plan. This prophesying consciousness was lost when the veil of earthly perceptions was woven over the manifestation of higher spiritual beings and the real forces of the sun nature concealed themselves in these perceptions. The future now became uncertain. With this uncertainty, the possibility of the sense of fear implanted itself in the soul. Fear is the direct result of error. — But we also see how under the Luciferic influence man became independent of certain forces to which he previously submitted himself without will. Now he could make decisions by himself. Freedom is the result of this influence, and fear and similar feelings are only the accompanying phenomena of the progress of man to freedom.
Seen spiritually, the way fear appears indicates that within the earth forces — under the influence of which the human being had come through the Luciferic powers — other powers were active that had followed an irregular course in evolution much earlier than the Luciferic powers. With the earth forces man absorbed the influence of these powers into his being. They gave the character of fear to feelings that would have manifested quite differently without the presence of these powers. These beings may be called “Ahrimanic.” They belong to the category called, in the Goethean sense, “Mephistophelian.”
Although the Luciferic influence made itself felt at first only in the most advanced individuals, it soon spread out also to others. The descendants of these advanced human beings intermingled with the less advanced described above. By this means the Luciferic power injected itself also into the latter. But the ether body of the souls returning from the planets could not receive the same degree of protection enjoyed by the ether body of the descendants of those who had remained on earth. The protection of these latter life bodies came from an exalted Being in whose hands rested the leadership of the cosmos at the time the sun withdrew from the Earth. This Being appears in the realm here under consideration as ruler of the kingdom of the sun. With Him exalted spirits who through their cosmic evolution had attained the necessary maturity migrated to the sun abode. There were, however, other beings who had not, at the time of the sun separation, attained such heights. They were compelled to seek other abodes. It was through these very beings that Jupiter and the other planets broke loose from the common world substance that originally composed the physical Earth organism. Jupiter became the dwelling place of the beings who had not reached maturity enough to attain the heights of the sun. The most advanced of these became the leader of Jupiter. In just the same way that the leader of the sun development became the higher ego that was active in the life body of the descendants of the human beings who had remained on earth, this Jupiter leader became the higher ego that permeated, as a common consciousness, the human beings who had originated from an interbreeding of the offspring of those who had remained on the earth and those other human beings who, in the way described above, had appeared upon the Earth only at the time of the advent of the air element and who had then gone over to Jupiter as a dwelling place. These human beings are designated by spiritual science as “Jupiter men.” They were human descendants who in that ancient time still had received human souls into their nature, but who at the beginning of Earth evolution were not mature enough to come in contact with the fire. They were souls standing at the stage midway between the realm of human and animal souls. There were also beings who under the leadership of one of their most exalted members had separated Mars from the common world substance as a suitable dwelling place. They exerted their influence upon a third kind of man, who had come into existence through interbreeding, the “Mars man.” (From this knowledge a light is thrown upon the origin of the planets of our solar system. For, all bodies of this system have originated through the various stages of maturity of the beings dwelling on them. It is, however, not possible here to enter into a discussion of all the details of cosmic organization.) The human beings who, in their life body, perceived the presence of the lofty Sun Being Himself may be designated “sun men.” The Being Who lived in them as “Higher Ego” — naturally only in the whole race, not in the individual — is the One to Whom later, when man acquired a conscious knowledge of Him, various names were given. He is the Being in Whom the relationship that the Christ has to the cosmos manifests itself to the human beings of our time. We can, in addition, distinguish “Saturn men.” With them there appeared a being as higher ego who with his associates had been compelled to forsake the common world substance prior to the sun separation. In this species of human being not only the life body had remained partly untouched by the Luciferic influence, but also the physical body.
In the case of the inferior kinds of human beings, however, the life body was not sufficiently protected to enable it to withstand the Luciferic influence. These human beings could extend the unruly power of their ego's fire spark to such a degree that they were able to call forth in their environment powerful, destructive fire effects. The consequence was a tremendous terrestrial catastrophe. The fire storms caused a large part of the inhabited earth of that time to perish and with it the human beings who had lapsed into error. Only the smallest part who had remained partly untouched by error was able to escape to a district of the earth that had remained until then protected from corrupting human influence. Such a dwelling place, which was especially appropriate for the new mankind, appeared in the land that existed on the spot of the earth now covered by the Atlantic Ocean. It was to this place those human beings withdrew who were most untouched by error. Only scattered human groups inhabited other regions of the earth. The earth region existing at that time, situated between modern Europe, Africa, and America, is called “Atlantis” by spiritual science. (In the corresponding literature reference is made, in a certain way, to the phase of human evolution characterized above that precedes the Atlantean period. The name “Lemurian age” is given to the period of the earth that preceded the Atlantean age. On the other hand, the age in which the moon forces had not yet unfolded their chief activity is designated the “Hyperborean.” Preceding this age there was still another that coincides with the very first period of the physical Earth evolution. In the biblical tradition, the period before the influence of the Luciferic beings was active is described as the age of Paradise, and the descent of the human being out of this region to the earth, and his subsequent entanglement in the world of the senses, as the expulsion from Paradise.)
Evolution on Atlantis is the time of the actual separation of mankind into the Saturn, Sun, Jupiter, and Mars men. Before that, there had been only the predisposition toward this separation. The division into waking and sleeping states had special consequences for the human being that appeared especially in Atlantean humanity. During the night, man's astral body and ego were in the realm of the beings standing above him — right up to the realm of the Spirits of Personality. By means of that portion of the life body not united with the physical body, the human being was able to have a perception of the Sons of Life (the Angels), and the Spirits of Fire (the Archangels). For he was able to remain united during sleep with the part of the life body not permeated by the physical body. The perception of the Spirits of Personality remained indistinct because of the Luciferic influence. Beside the Angels and Archangels, other beings also became visible to man when in the state described above, beings who, having remained behind on the sun and moon, could not enter earth existence. They had to remain in the world of soul and spirit. Man, however, drew them — by means of the Luciferic nature — into the realm of his soul that was separated from the physical body. Thus he came in contact with beings who worked upon him in a corrupting way. They increased the urge toward error in his soul, especially the urge toward the misuse of the forces of growth and reproduction that were under his control through the separation of the physical and life body.
It was possible, however, for individual men of the Atlantean period to entangle themselves to a small degree in the realm of the senses. Through them the Luciferic influence was transformed from an obstacle to human evolution into an instrument of higher advancement. Through this Luciferic influence they were in the position of unfolding the knowledge of earthly things earlier than would otherwise have been possible. In doing so, these human beings sought to remove erroneous ideas from their thought life, and through the phenomena of the world to fathom the original purposes of spirit beings. They kept themselves free from the impulses and desires of the astral body, which were only inclined toward the world of the senses. In this way they became ever freer from the errors of the astral body. This produced conditions in them by means of which they perceived only with that part of the ether body that was separated from the physical body in the manner described. In these conditions the physical body's power of perception was practically extinguished and the body itself was as though dead. These human beings were then completely united through the ether body with the realm of the Spirits of Form and were able through them to learn how they were being led and guided by the exalted Being Who held the leadership at the time of separation of sun and Earth. Later, through this exalted Being an understanding of the Christ unfolded itself in human beings. Such men were initiates. But since the individuality of man had, as already described above, entered the region of the moon spirits, these initiates also remained, as a rule, untouched directly by the Spirit of the Sun. He could be shown to them only by the moon spirits as though in a reflection. Thus they did not see the Being of the Sun directly, but saw only His splendor. They became the leaders of the other portion of mankind to whom they could communicate the mysteries they beheld. They trained disciples to whom they indicated the paths leading to the state resulting in initiation. The knowledge, previously revealed through Christ, could be attained by human beings only who belonged — in the way described — to the order of “sun men.” They cultivated their mysterious wisdom and the functions leading to it in a special place on the earth, which will be called here the Christ or Sun oracle — oraculum meaning the place where the purposes of spiritual beings are heard. What is said here about the Christ will only be understood if we keep in mind the fact that supersensible knowledge perceives in His appearance on earth an event that was foreseen for ages by wise men as taking place at some future time, wise men who were familiar, long before this event, with the meaning of Earth evolution. We would be in error were we to presuppose in the case of these initiates a connection with the Christ that was made possible only through this event. But they could comprehend prophetically and make their disciples understand that whoever is touched by the power of the Sun Being sees the Christ approaching the earth.
Other oracles came into being through the members of the Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter humanities; their initiates directed their vision only up to the beings who could reveal themselves in their ether bodies as the corresponding higher egos. There thus arose adherents of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars wisdom. Besides these methods of initiation, there were others for human beings who had acquired too much of the Luciferic nature to allow as large a portion of their ether body to be separated from the physical body as was the case with the sun men. Their astral body retained a greater part of the life body in the physical body, nor could they be brought, by means of the described state of initiation, to a prophetic revelation of the Christ. On account of their astral body, which was considerably influenced by the Luciferic principle, they were compelled to go through more complicated preparations, and then, in a less body-free state than the others, they were unable to behold the manifestation of the Christ Himself, but only that of other higher beings. There were certain spiritual beings who at the time of the sun separation had forsaken the Earth, but who had not yet attained a sufficiently high development to enable them to participate permanently in the sun evolution. After the separation of sun and Earth they withdrew a portion of the sun as a dwelling place. This we know as Venus. The leader of these spiritual beings became the higher ego of the above described initiates and their adherents. Something similar occurred in regard to the leading spirit of Mercury for another kind of human being. In this way the Venus and Mercury oracles had their origin. Certain human individuals who were affected most by the Luciferic influence were able to reach up only to a certain being who, with his associates, had been the earliest to be expelled from the sun development. This being has not a special planet in the cosmos, but lives in the environment of the earth itself, with which he has been again united since his return from the sun. The human beings to whom this being manifested himself as higher ego may be called members of the “Vulcan oracle.” Their eyes were turned more toward earth phenomena than was the case with the other initiates. They laid the first foundation for what appeared later on among human beings as “science” and “art.” The Mercury initiates, on the other hand, laid the basis for the knowledge of the more supersensory things, and to a still higher degree, this was done by the Venus initiates. The Vulcan, Mercury, and Venus initiates distinguished themselves from the Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars initiates through the fact that the latter received their mysteries more as a revelation from above, in a more finished state, whereas the former received their knowledge revealed more in the form of their own thoughts, of their own ideas. In the middle stood the Christ initiates. They received, together with the direct revelation, the ability to clothe their mysteries in the form of human concepts. The Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars initiates had to express themselves by way of symbols; The Christ, Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan initiates were able to make their communications in the form of definite concepts.
What was attained in this manner by the Atlantean humanity came about in an indirect way through the initiates. But the rest of humanity also gained special abilities through the Luciferic principle, because through the lofty cosmic beings certain faculties, which might otherwise have led to disaster, were transformed into a blessing. One such faculty is speech. It was bestowed upon man through his solidification within physical matter and through the separation of a part of his ether body from the physical body. During the time after the moon separation the human being felt himself at first united to his physical forebears through the group ego. This common consciousness, however, which united descendants with forefathers, was gradually lost in the course of generations. The later descendants had then an inner memory reaching back only to a not very distant ancestor, not any longer to the earlier forebears. Only in a state similar to sleep, in which the human beings came in touch with the spiritual world, did the picture of this or that ancestor emerge again in memory. Human beings, in certain instances, then felt themselves at one with this ancestor whom they believed had reappeared in them. This was an erroneous concept of reincarnation, which emerged chiefly in the last part of the Atlantean period. The true teaching about reincarnation could only be learned in the schools of the initiates. These latter perceived how, in the disembodied state, the human soul passes from one incarnation to another, and they alone could impart the truth about it to their disciples.
The physical form of man was, in the primeval past that is under discussion here, still widely different from the present human shape. It was to a high degree still the expression of soul faculties. The human being consisted of a finer, softer substance than the one he acquired later. What today is solidified was in the limbs soft, supple, and easily molded. A human being who expressed more intensely his soul and spiritual nature had a delicate, active and expressive body structure. Another with less spiritual development had crude, immobile, less easily molded bodily forms. Advancement in soul qualities contracted the limbs; the figure remained small. Retardation in soul development and entanglement in the world of the senses expressed itself in gigantic size. While man was in the period of growth, the body, in accordance with what occurred in the soul, assumed forms of a certain kind that to the present-day human mind must appear fabulous, indeed, fantastic. Moral corruption through passions, impulses, and instincts resulted in an enormous increase in the material substance in man. The present-day human physical form has come into existence through contraction, condensation, and solidification of the Atlantean; whereas before the Atlantean age the human being was a faithful copy of his soul nature, the processes of the Atlantean evolution bore the causes in themselves that led to the post-Atlantean human being who in his physical shape is solid and little dependent on soul qualities. (The animal kingdom became denser in its forms at much earlier periods of the earth than the human being.) The laws that lie at present at the foundation of form-fashioning in the kingdoms of nature are not valid under any circumstances for the more distant past.
Toward the middle of the Atlantean period of evolution a great evil gradually began to manifest itself within mankind. The mysteries of the initiates ought to have been carefully guarded from individuals who had not purified their astral bodies of error through preparation. When such human beings acquire a certain insight into mystery knowledge, into the laws by which the higher beings guide the forces of nature, they then place these laws at the service of their perverted needs and passions. The danger was all the greater, since human beings, as already described, came into the realm of lower spiritual beings who, unable to carry out the regular Earth evolution, acted contrary to it. These spiritual beings influenced human beings constantly by arousing in them interests that were, in truth, directed against the welfare of mankind. But human beings had still the ability to use the forces of growth and reproduction of animal and human nature for their own purposes. — Not only ordinary human beings, but also a number of the initiates succumbed to the temptations of lower spiritual beings. They went so far as to use the described supersensible forces in a way that ran counter to the development of mankind, and for this activity they sought associates who were not initiated and who — for lower ends — seized upon the mysteries of the supersensible working of nature. The consequence was a great corruption of mankind. The evil spread further and further, and since the forces of growth and reproduction, when diverted from their natural functions and used independently, stand in a mysterious connection with certain forces that work in air and water, mighty, destructive nature forces were unfettered by human deeds. This led to the gradual destruction of the Atlantean region through terrestrial catastrophes of air and water. The Atlantean humanity — insofar as it did not perish in the storms — was compelled to emigrate. At that time the earth received through these storms a new face. On the one side, Europe, Asia, and Africa received gradually the shapes they bear today. On the other side, America. To these lands went great migrations. For our present day the most important of these migrations were those that went eastward from Atlantis. What is now Europe, Asia, Africa, became gradually colonized by the descendants of the Atlanteans. Various folk established their abode in these continents. They stood at varying degrees of development, but also at varying degrees of depravity. In the midst of these migrating peoples marched the initiates, the guardians of the oracle mysteries. These guardians founded in various regions of the earth institutions in which the services of Jupiter, Venus, and other oracles were cultivated in a good, but also in an evil manner. The betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries exercised an especially adverse influence, because the attention of their adherents was chiefly directed toward earthly matters. Mankind, through this betrayal, was made dependent upon spiritual beings who, in consequence of their previous development, held a negative attitude toward everything that came from the spiritual world, which had evolved through the separation of the Earth from the sun. According to the capacity thus developed, they acted in the element that was formed in the human being through his having perceptions of the sense world, behind which the spirit is concealed. These beings acquired henceforth a great influence over many human inhabitants of the earth, and this influence made itself evident through the fact that the human being was more and more deprived of the feeling for the spirit. Since in these times the size, form and flexibility of the human physical body was still affected to a large degree by the qualities of the soul, the consequence of this betrayal of the mysteries came to light in changes in the human race in this respect also. Where the corruption of the human beings became especially evident through the placing of supersensible forces at the service of lower impulses, desires, and passions, grotesque human shapes were created, monstrous in size and structure. These were not able to continue in existence beyond the Atlantean period. They died out. The post-Atlantean humanity has fashioned itself physically after the model of the Atlantean ancestors in whom already such a solidifying of the bodily shape had taken place that this did not surrender to the influence of soul forces that had become contrary to nature. — There was a certain period of time in the Atlantean evolution in which, through the laws holding sway in and around the earth, conditions prevailed for the human form under which it had to solidify itself. To be sure, the human racial forms that had solidified prior to this period were able to reproduce themselves for a long time; nevertheless, the souls incarnating in them gradually became so narrowly confined that such races had to die out. Many of these racial forms, however, continued in existence on into the post-Atlantean period; certain forms that had remained sufficiently supple continued to exist in a modified form for a long time. Human forms that had remained flexible beyond the characterized period now became chiefly the bodies for souls that experienced intensively the detrimental influence of the betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries as already indicated. They were destined to die out quickly.
Thus, since the middle of the Atlantean period of evolution, beings had asserted themselves within the realm of human development whose activity affected mankind in such a way that it became acquainted with the physical sense world in a non-spiritual manner. In certain instances this went so far that instead of the true shape of this world manifesting itself, it appeared to the human being in phantoms, chimeras and illusions of all sorts. Not only was man exposed to the Luciferic influence, but also to the influence of the other beings about whom we have spoken above, and whose leader may be called Ahriman in accordance with the designation he received later on in the Persian cultural period. (Mephistopheles is the same being.) After death man came through this influence under powers that allowed him to appear also in that realm only as a being who is inclined toward earthly-sensory conditions. The free view into the processes of the spiritual world was by degrees taken away from him. He was obliged to feel himself in the power of Ahriman and to a certain degree had to be excluded from union with the spiritual world.
Of special significance was one oracle sanctuary that in the universal decline had preserved the ancient cultus in its purest form. It belonged to the Christ oracles, and on account of this it was able to preserve not only the Christ mystery itself, but also the mysteries of the other oracles. For through the manifestation of the most exalted Sun Spirit, the regents of Saturn, Jupiter, and other oracles, were also revealed. The sun oracle knew the secret of producing, for this or that individual, the kind of human ether bodies that were possessed by the highest initiates of Jupiter, Mercury, and other oracles. With the means at their disposal, which are not to be discussed any further here, counterparts of the most perfect ether bodies of the ancient initiates were preserved and later implanted into the individuals best fitted for the purpose. Through the Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan initiates, such processes could take place also for the astral bodies. There came a time when the leader of the Christ initiates found himself isolated with some of his associates to whom he was able to communicate the mysteries of the world only to a very limited degree. For the associates were the kind of human beings upon whom nature had bestowed physical and etheric bodies with the least degree of separation between them. Such men were the best suited, in this epoch, for the further advancement of mankind. Gradually they had fewer and fewer experiences in the realm of sleep. The spiritual world had become more and more closed for them. But they were also lacking the understanding for all that had unveiled itself in ancient times when man was not in his physical but only in his ether body. The human beings in the immediate neighborhood of this leader of the Christ oracle were the most advanced in regard to the union of the physical body with that part of the ether body that previously had been separated from it. This union appeared by degrees in mankind in consequence of the transformation of Atlantis and the earth generally. The physical and ether bodies of human beings coincided more and more with one another. As a result, the previous unlimited faculty of memory was lost and human thought life began. The part of the ether body bound to the physical body transformed the physical brain into the actual organ of thought, and only from that time onward did the human being feel his ego in the physical body. Only then did self-consciousness awake. At the outset, this was the case with a small portion of mankind only, chiefly with the immediate companions of the leader of the Christ oracle. The other groups of human beings who were scattered over Europe, Asia, and Africa, preserved in the most varied degrees the remnants of the ancient states of consciousness. They, therefore, experienced the supersensible world directly. — The companions of the Christ initiate were human beings with highly developed intelligence, but of all human beings of that time their experiences in the realm of the supersensible were the least. With them, this Christ initiate migrated from west to east, toward a certain region in inner Asia. He wished to protect them from coming in contact with the people of less advanced states of consciousness. He educated these companions in accordance with the mysteries revealed to him, and chiefly worked in this way upon their descendants. Thus he trained a host of human beings who had received into their hearts the impulses that corresponded to the mysteries of the Christ initiation. From this host he chose the seven best in order that they might have ether and astral bodies corresponding to the counterparts of the ether bodies of the seven greatest Atlantean initiates. He thus trained initiates to be the successors of the Christ initiate, of the Saturn, of the Jupiter, and of the other oracle initiates. These seven initiates became the teachers and leaders of the people who in the post-Atlantean epoch had settled in the south of Asia, chiefly in ancient India. Since these great teachers were endowed with the counterparts of the ether bodies of their spiritual ancestors, what was contained in their astral bodies, that is to say, their own self-wrought knowledge and understanding, did not extend to what was revealed to them through their ether body. They had to silence their own knowledge and understanding when these revelations strove to manifest in them. Then out of them and by means of them the high beings spoke who had spoken also for their spiritual ancestors. Except during the periods when these high beings spoke through them, they were simple men gifted with the degree of understanding and sympathy that they themselves had acquired.
In India there lived at that time a kind of human being which had preserved chiefly a living memory of the ancient soul state of the Atlanteans, a state which permitted experiences in the spiritual world. In a large number of these human beings there was also present a tremendous urge of the heart and mind to experience this supersensible world. Through the wise guidance of destiny the main body of this kind of men, representing the best sections of the Atlanteans, had reached South Asia. Besides this main body, other sections had settled there at various times. The Christ initiate already mentioned appointed his seven great disciples as teachers for this assemblage of human beings. They gave their wisdom and their laws to this people. For many of these ancient Indians little preparation was needed to arouse in them the scarcely extinct faculties that led to a perception of the supersensible world. For the longing for this world was a fundamental mood of the Indian soul. The Indian felt that in this supersensible world was the primeval home of mankind. From it he was removed into a world that is revealed only through the perceptions of the outer senses and grasped by the intellect bound to these perceptions. He felt the supersensible world as the true one and the sensory world as a deception of human perception, an illusion (Maya). By all possible means the human being strove to gain insight into the true world. He was unable to develop any interest in the illusory sense world, or at least only insofar as it proved to be a veil over the supersensible world. It was a mighty power that the seven great teachers exercised upon such people. What could be revealed through this power penetrated deeply into the Indian souls. Since the possession of the transmitted life and astral bodies endowed these teachers with sublime powers, they were able to act magically upon their disciples. They did not actually teach. They produced their effects from person to person as though through magic powers. Thus a culture arose that was completely permeated by supersensible wisdom. What is contained in the books of wisdom of India — in the Vedas — is not the original form of the exalted wisdom, which in the most primeval ages was fostered by the great teachers; it is but a feeble echo of this wisdom. Only supersensible retrospection can discover an unwritten primeval wisdom behind the written records. A particular characteristic of this primeval wisdom is the harmonious concordance of the wisdom of the various oracles of the Atlantean age. For each of these great teachers was able to unveil the wisdom of one of these oracles, and the different aspects of wisdom produced a perfect concordance because behind them stood the fundamental wisdom of the prophetic Christ initiation. The teacher, however, who was the spiritual successor of the Christ initiate did not present what this Christ initiate himself was able to reveal. The latter had remained in the background of evolution. At the outset, he could not transmit his high office to any member of the post-Atlantean civilization. The difference between the Christ initiate of the seven great Indian teachers and the Christ initiate of the Atlantean sun oracle was that the latter had been able to transform completely his perception of the Christ mystery into human concepts, whereas the Indian Christ initiate could only represent a reflection of this mystery in signs and symbols. This was so because his humanly acquired conceptual life did not extend to this mystery. But the result of the union of the seven teachers was a knowledge of the supersensible world, presented in a great panorama of wisdom, of which in the ancient Atlantean oracles only the various parts could be proclaimed. Now the great regencies of the cosmic world were revealed, and the one great Sun Spirit, the “Concealed One,” was gently alluded to — He Who was enthroned above those other regents who were revealed by the seven teachers.
What is meant here by the “ancient Indians,” is not what is usually understood by the use of that term. There are no external documents of that period of which we are speaking here. The people usually designated as Indian corresponds to an evolutionary stage of history that came into existence a long time after the period under discussion here. We are able to recognize a primal post-Atlantean epoch in which the characterized Indian culture was dominant. Then a second post-Atlantean epoch began in which the dominant culture, as spoken of in this book, was the ancient Persian; still later, the Egypto-Chaldean culture evolved; both of these have still to be described. During the unfolding of these second and third post-Atlantean cultural epochs, ancient India also experienced a second and a third cultural period. What is usually spoken of as ancient India originated in this third epoch. Therefore, what is presented here should not be confused with the ancient India of history.
Another aspect of this ancient Indian culture is what later led to a division of men into castes. The inhabitants of India were the descendants of Atlanteans who belonged to various human races: Saturn men, Jupiter men, and other planetary men. By means of supersensible teaching it was understood by these ancient Indians that it was not by accident that a soul was placed in this or that caste, but rather by self-determination. Such a comprehension of the supersensible teaching was facilitated especially through the fact that many human beings could arouse the above characterized inner remembrance of their ancestors, which, however, led easily to an erroneous idea of reincarnation. Just as in the Atlantean period the true idea of reincarnation could be acquired only by coming in contact with the initiates, in the most ancient India it could be obtained only by becoming in direct contact with the great teachers. The above-mentioned erroneous idea of reincarnation was spread most widely among the peoples who, as a result of the submergence of Atlantis, were scattered over Europe, Asia, and Africa, and because certain initiates, who during the Atlantean evolution had followed false paths, had also communicated this mystery to immature disciples, human beings mistook more and more the false doctrine for the true. In many instances these human beings retained a sort of dreamlike clairvoyance as an inheritance of the Atlantean period. Just as the Atlanteans entered the region of the spiritual world during sleep, so their descendants experienced this spiritual world in an abnormal intermediate state between waking and sleeping. Then there arose in them images of an ancient time to which their ancestors had belonged. They considered themselves reincarnations of human beings who had lived in such an age. Teachings about reincarnation that were in contradiction to the true ideas of the initiates spread over the whole earth.
In the regions of the Middle East a community of people had settled as a result of the long continued migrations that had spread from the west eastward since the beginning of the destruction of Atlantis. History knows the descendants of these people as the Persians and their related tribal branches. Supersensible knowledge, however, must go back much further than the historical periods of these people. At the outset we have to consider the earliest ancestors of the later Persians, from whom — after the Indian — the second great cultural period of the post-Atlantean evolution arose. The peoples of this second period had a different task from the Indian. In their longings and inclinations they did not turn merely toward the supersensible; they were eminently fitted for the physical-sensory world. They grew fond of the earth. They valued what the human being could conquer on the earth and what he could win through its forces. What they accomplished as warriors and also what they invented as a means of gaining the earth's treasures is related to this peculiarity of their nature. Their danger did not lie in the fact that because of their love of the supersensible they might turn completely away from the “illusion” of the physical-sensory world, but because of their strong inclination toward the latter they were more likely to lose their soul connection with the supersensible world. Also the oracle establishments that had been transplanted into this region from their homeland, ancient Atlantis, carried in their methods the general character of the Persians. By means of forces, which man had been able to acquire through his experiences in the supersensible regions and which he was still able to control in certain lower forms, the phenomena of nature were employed to serve personal human interests. This ancient people still possessed, at that time, a great power with which it controlled certain nature forces that later were withdrawn from all connection with the human will. The guardians of the oracles controlled inner powers that were connected with fire and other elements. They may be called Magi. What they had preserved for themselves from ancient times as heritage of supersensible knowledge and power was, to be sure, insignificant in comparison with what the human being had once been able to do in the far distant past. It took on, nevertheless, all sorts of forms, from the noble arts whose purpose was only the welfare of mankind, to the most abominable practices. In these people the Luciferic nature ruled in a special manner. It had brought them into connection with everything that led the human being away from the intentions of higher beings who, without the Luciferic influence, would have simply advanced human evolution. Those sections of this people who were still endowed with the remnants of ancient clairvoyance — that is to say, with the remnants of the above described intermediate state between waking and sleeping — felt themselves also much attracted to the lower beings of the spiritual world. To this people a special spiritual impetus had to be given that counteracted these characteristics. A leadership was given to this people from the same source from which the ancient Indian spiritual life had also sprung, that is, from the guardian of the mysteries of the sun oracle.
The leader of the ancient Persian spiritual culture who was chosen by the guardian of the sun oracle for the people now under consideration may be called by the same name that history knows as Zarathustra or Zoroaster. But it must be emphasized that the personality designated here belongs to a much earlier age than the historical bearer of this name. It is not a question here of outer historical research but of spiritual science, and whoever must think of a later age in connection with the bearer of the name Zarathustra, may reconcile this fact with spiritual science by realizing that the historical character represents a successor to the first great Zarathustra whose name he assumed and in the spirit of whose teaching he worked. — Zarathustra gave his people an impulse by pointing out that the physical world of the senses is not merely something devoid of spirit that confronts man when he comes under the exclusive influence of the Luciferic being. Man owes to this being his personal independence and his sense of freedom, but this Luciferic being should work within him in harmony with the opposing spiritual being. It was important for the prehistoric Persian to be aware of the presence of this spiritual being. Because of the Persian's inclination toward the physical sense world he was threatened by a complete amalgamation with the Luciferic beings. Zarathustra, however, had been initiated by the guardian of the sun oracle and through this initiation the revelations of the exalted sun beings could be imparted to him. In exceptional states of consciousness, into which his training had brought him, he was able to perceive the leader of the sun beings who had taken under his protection the human ether body in the previously described manner. He knew that this Being directs human evolution, but also that He could descend to the earth from cosmic space only at a certain point in time. In order that this might come about it was necessary that He should affect the astral body of a human being to the same degree that He affected the human ether body since the beginning of the interference of the Luciferic being. For that purpose a human being had to appear on earth who had retransformed the astral body to a condition to which this body, without Lucifer, would have attained in the middle of the Atlantean evolution. Had Lucifer not appeared, the human being would have attained this same condition much earlier, but without personal independence and without the possibility of freedom. Now, however, despite these characteristics the human being was to regain this same high condition. Zarathustra was able to foresee by means of his clairvoyance that in the future of mankind's evolution it would be possible for a definite human personality to possess such a required astral body. He knew also that it would be impossible to find the spiritual sun powers on earth prior to this future age, but that it was possible for supersensible perception to behold them in the region of the spiritual sun. He was able to behold these powers when he directed his clairvoyant glance toward the sun, and he divulged to his people the nature of these powers that, for the time being, were to be found only in the spiritual world and that later were to descend to the earth. This was the proclamation of the sublime Sun or Light Spirit — the Sun Aura, Ahura Mazdao, Ormuzd. This Spirit of Light reveals Himself to Zarathustra and his followers as the Spirit who turns His countenance from the spiritual world toward mankind and who prepares the future within mankind. It is the Spirit who points to the Christ before His advent on earth, whom Zarathustra proclaims as the Spirit of Light. On the other hand, Zarathustra represents in Ahriman — Angra Mainju — a power whose influence upon the life of the human soul causes the latter's deterioration when it surrenders itself one-sidedly to it. This power is none other than the one previously characterized who, since the betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries, had gained especial domination over the earth. Besides the evangel concerning the Spirit of Light, Zarathustra also proclaimed the doctrine of the spiritual beings who become manifest to the purified sense of the seer as the companions of the Spirit of Light and to whom a contrast was formed by the tempters who appeared to the unpurified remnants of clairvoyance that was retained from the Atlantean period. Zarathustra strove to make clear to the prehistoric Persian how the human soul, as far as it was engaged in the activities and strivings of the physical-sensory world, was the field of battle between the power of the Light God and His adversary and how the human being must conduct himself so as not to be led into the abyss by this adversary but whose influence might be turned to good by the power of the Light God.
A third post-Atlantean cultural period began with the peoples who, by participation in the migrations from Atlantis, had finally assembled in the Middle East and North Africa. Among the Chaldeans, Babylonians, Assyrians on the one hand and the Egyptians on the other, this culture was developed. Among these peoples the understanding for the physical world of the senses was evolved in a way different from that of the prehistoric Persians. They had developed, much more than others, the spiritual capacity that is the foundation for the ability to think, for intellectual endowment, which had come into existence since the last Atlantean epochs. It was the task of the post-Atlantean humanity to unfold in itself the soul faculties that could be gained through the awakened powers of thought and feeling that are not directly stimulated by the spiritual world, but come into existence by man's observation of the sense world, by becoming familiar with it, transforming it. The conquest of this physical-sensory world by means of these human faculties must be considered the mission of post-Atlantean humanity. From stage to stage this conquest advances. Although in ancient India the human being was directed toward this world by means of his soul state, he still considered this world an illusion and his spirit was turned toward the supersensible world. In contrast to this, there arose in the prehistorical Persian people the desire to conquer the physical world of the senses, but this was attempted, to a large measure, with the powers of soul that had remained as heritage of a time when man could still reach up directly into the supersensible world. In the peoples of the third cultural epoch the soul had lost to a large degree its supersensible faculties. It had to investigate the revelations of the spirit in the sensory surroundings and by means of discovery and invention of the cultural means, springing from this world, develop itself. Human sciences arose by means of research within the physical sense world into the spiritual laws standing behind it; human technique and artistic activities and the tools and instruments used to advance them were developed by recognizing the forces of this world and the need of employing them. For the human being of ancient Chaldea and Babylonia the sense world was no longer an illusion, but with its nature kingdoms, its mountains and seas, its air and water, it was a revelation of the spiritual deeds of powers standing behind these phenomena, whose laws he endeavored to discover. To the Egyptian the earth was a field of activity given to him in a condition which he had to transform through his own intellectual capacity, so that it bore the imprint of human power. Oracle establishments of Atlantis, originating chiefly from the Mercury oracle, had been transplanted into Egypt. There were, however, others also, for example, the Venus oracle. A new cultural germ was planted into what could thus be fostered in the Egyptian people through these oracle establishments. It originated with a great leader who had undergone his training within the Persian Zarathustra mysteries. He was the reincarnation of a personality who had been a disciple of the great Zarathustra himself. If we wish to adhere to a historical name, he may be called “Hermes.” By absorbing the Zarathustra mysteries he could find the right path on which to guide the Egyptian people. This folk, in earth life between birth and death, directed its mind to the physical sense world in such a way that although it could behold the spiritual world behind the physical only to a limited degree, it recognized in the physical world the laws of the spiritual world. Thus the Egyptian could not be taught that the spiritual world was a world with which he could become familiar on earth. But he could be shown how the human being would live in a body-free condition after death with the world of the spirits who during the earth period appear through their imprint in the realm of the physical-sensory. Hermes taught that to the degree the human being employs his forces on earth in order to act within it according to the aims of spiritual powers, it is possible for him to be united after death with these powers. Especially those who have been most zealously active in this direction during life between birth and death will become united with the exalted Sun Being — with Osiris. On the Chaldean-Babylonian side of this cultural stream the directing of the human mind to the physical-sensory was more marked than on the Egyptian side. The laws of this world were investigated and from the sensory counterparts perception was directed to the spiritual archetypes. The people, nevertheless, remained stuck fast in the world of the senses in many respects. Instead of the spirit of the star, the star itself, and instead of other spiritual beings, their earthly counterparts were pushed into the foreground. Only the leaders acquired really deep knowledge of the laws of the supersensible world and their interaction with the sense world. Here a contrast between the knowledge of the initiates and the erroneous beliefs of the people came into evidence more strongly than anywhere else.
Quite different conditions prevailed in Southern Europe and Western Asia where the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch flourished. We may call this the Greco-Latin cultural epoch. In these countries the descendants of human beings of the most varied regions of the ancient world had gathered. There were oracle establishments that followed the example of the various Atlantean oracles. There were men who possessed, as a natural faculty, the heritage of ancient clairvoyance, and there were some who were able to attain to it with comparatively little training. In special places the traditions of the ancient initiates were not only preserved, but there arose worthy successors who trained pupils capable of raising themselves to exalted stages of spiritual perception. Simultaneously, these people bore the impulse in themselves to create a realm within the sense world that expressed in perfect form the spiritual within the physical. Beside much else, Greek art is a consequence of this impulse. One need only penetrate into the Greek temple with spiritual vision to recognize that in such a marvel of art the physical material is transformed by the human being in such a way that every detail is an expression of the spiritual. The Greek temple is the “dwelling place of the spirit.” In its forms is to be seen what otherwise only the spiritual vision of supersensible perception can recognize. A Zeus or Jupiter temple is shaped in such a way that for the physical eye it represents a worthy abode for what the guardian of the Zeus or Jupiter initiation perceived with the spiritual eye. Thus it is with all Greek art. In mysterious ways the wisdom of the initiates poured into poets, artists, and thinkers. In the cosmogonies of the ancient Greek philosophers we find again the mysteries of the initiates in the form of concepts and ideas. The influence of spiritual life and the mysteries of the Asiatic and African centers of initiation flowed into these peoples and their leaders. The great Indian teachers, the companions of Zarathustra, and the adherents of Hermes had trained their pupils. These or their successors now founded initiation centers in which the ancient knowledge was revived in a new form. These are the mysteries of antiquity. Here the pupils were prepared to reach states of consciousness through which they were able to attain a perception of the spirit world. 8More detailed descriptions of these mysteries of antiquity are to be found in my book, Christianity as Mystical Fact. More on this subject is given in the last chapter of this book. From these initiation centers wisdom flowed to those who fostered spiritual impulses in Asia Minor, in Greece, and Italy. (In the Greek world the important initiation centers of the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries arose. In the Pythagorean school of wisdom the after-effects of the great doctrines and methods of the wisdom of primeval ages appeared. In his wide journeying Pythagoras had been initiated into the secrets of the most varied mysteries.)
The life of man between birth and death — in the post-Atlantean age — had, however, its influence also upon the body-free state after death. The more the human being turned his interest toward the physical-sensory world, the greater was the possibility of Ahriman penetrating into the soul during earth life and of his retaining power beyond death. Among the peoples of ancient India this danger was still insignificant, because they had, during earth life, felt the physical world of the senses to be an illusion. As a result, they were able to elude the power of Ahriman. The danger of the prehistoric Persian people was much greater, because in the life between birth and death they had turned their interest toward the physical world of the senses. They would have fallen prey to Ahriman to a high degree, had Zarathustra not through his teaching about the God of Light drawn attention in an impressive manner to the fact that behind the physical-sensory world there exists the world of the Spirits of Light. In proportion to the absorption into the soul of this visualized world by the people of the Persian culture did they escape from the clutches of Ahriman during earth life and likewise during the life after death, when they prepared for a new earth life. During earth life the power of Ahriman leads to the consideration of physical-sensory existence as the only one, thus barring all outlook into the spiritual world. In the spiritual world this power leads the human being to complete isolation, to concentration of all interests only upon himself. Human beings who at death are in the power of Ahriman are reborn as egotists.
At present we are able in spiritual science to describe life between death and a new birth as it is when the Ahrimanic influence has been overcome to a certain degree. In this way it has been described by the writer of this book in other writings and in the first chapters of this book, and thus it must be described in order to make plausible what the human being can experience in this state of existence when he has gained the true spiritual perception of what really exists. Whether the individual experiences it to a greater or lesser degree depends on his victory over the Ahrimanic influence. Man approaches more and more what is possible for him to be in the spiritual world. How this degree of attainment can be impaired by other influences must here be held clearly in mind in considering the path of human evolution.
It was the task of Hermes to see that the Egyptians prepared themselves during earth life for companionship with the Spirit of Light. Since, however, during that time human interests between birth and death were already shaped in such a way that it was possible only to a slight degree to penetrate the veil of the physical-sensory, the spiritual perception of the soul remained also clouded after death. The perception of the world of light remained dim. — The veiling over of the spiritual world after death reached a climax for the souls who entered the body-free state from an incarnation in the Greco-Latin culture. During earth life they had brought the culture of the sensory-physical existence to full flower, and they had thus doomed themselves to a shadow existence after death. The Greek, therefore, felt that his life after death was only a shadow-like existence; and it was not mere empty talk but the feeling for truth when the hero of that age, turning toward the sense world, says, “Rather a beggar on earth than a king in the realm of the shades.” This was still more evident among those Asiatic peoples who also in their reverence and adoration had only directed their gaze toward the sensory counterparts instead of toward the spiritual archetypes. During the time of the Greco-Latin cultural period a large part of mankind was in the condition here described. We can see how the mission of man in the post-Atlantean epoch, which consisted of his mastery of the physical sense world, had to lead of necessity to an estrangement from the spiritual world. Thus what is great on the one hand is of necessity connected with what is decadent on the other. — In the mysteries, the connection of the human being with the spiritual world was fostered. The initiates of these mysteries were able, in special states of the soul, to receive the revelations of this world. They were more or less the successors of the Atlantean guardians of the oracles. What was concealed through the impulses of Lucifer and Ahriman was unveiled to them. Lucifer concealed from the human being that part of the spiritual world that, without his cooperation, had poured into his astral body right up to the middle of the Atlantean epoch. If the ether body had not been partially separated from the physical, man would have been able to experience this region of the spirit world as an inner soul revelation. Because of the Luciferic impulse he could only experience it in special states of the soul. Then a spiritual world appeared to him in the vesture of the astral. The corresponding beings revealed themselves in shapes that bore only the higher members of human nature, and in these members they carried the astrally visible symbols of their special spiritual powers. Superhuman forms manifested themselves in this way. After the encroachment of Ahriman another kind of initiation was added to this one. Ahriman has concealed all that part of the spiritual world that would have appeared behind physical sense-perception, if his encroachment had not occurred after the middle of the Atlantean epoch. The initiates owed the revelation of this part of the spiritual world to the fact that they practiced in their souls all those faculties that the human being had acquired since that time to a degree far greater than the one required in order to gain the impressions of sensory-physical existence. Through it the spiritual powers lying behind the forces of nature were revealed to them. They were able to speak of the spiritual beings behind nature. The creative powers of the forces active in nature below the human being revealed themselves to them. What had continued to be active from the Saturn, Sun and the ancient Moon evolutions and had formed the human physical, ether, and astral bodies, as well as the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms, formed the content of one type of mysteries. These mysteries were under Ahriman's influence. What had led to the development of sentient, intellectual, and consciousness soul was revealed in a second type of mystery. What, however, was only possible to be prophesied by the mysteries was that in the course of time a human being would appear with an astral body in which, despite Lucifer, the light world of the Sun Spirit would become conscious through the ether body without special soul states. And the physical body of this human being must be of such a nature that that part of the spiritual world would be manifest to him that Ahriman is able to conceal up to the time of physical death. Physical death cannot change anything for this human being during life; that is to say, physical death cannot have any power over him. In such a human being the ego manifests in such a way that the physical life contains at the same time the whole spiritual life. Such a being is the bearer of the Spirit of Light, to Whom the initiate lifts himself in a twofold way, either by being led to the spirit of the super-human or to the being of the powers of nature in special states of the soul. Since the initiates of the mysteries predicted that such a human being would appear in the course of time, they were the prophets of Christ.
As special prophet in this sense, a personality arose in a people that through natural heritage bore within itself the characteristics of the peoples of the Middle East and, through education, the teachings of the Egyptians; these people were the Israelites. The prophet was Moses.. So many influences of initiation had entered the soul of Moses that in special states of consciousness the spiritual being who had assumed, in the normal course of Earth evolution, the role of molding human consciousness from the moon, manifested himself to him. In thunder and lightning Moses recognized not only the physical phenomena, but the manifestations of the spirit just described. At the same time, however, the other kind of mysteries had affected his soul to such a degree that he perceived in astral visions how the super-human spirit becomes human through the ego. Thus the Being Who had to come revealed Himself to Moses from two directions as the highest form of the Ego.
With Christ there appeared in human form what the high Sun Being had prepared as the exalted paragon of earthly man. With this appearance all mystery wisdom had in a certain regard to assume a new form. Previously this wisdom existed exclusively in order to enable the human being to bring himself to a soul state that allowed him to behold the kingdom of the Sun Spirit outside of earthly evolution. Now mystery wisdom was allotted the task of making the human being capable of recognizing the Christ Who had become man, and from this center of all wisdom to understand the natural and spiritual world.
At the moment in the life of Christ Jesus, when His astral body contained everything that the Luciferic impulse can conceal, He assumed His mission as teacher of mankind. From this moment onward the aptitude was implanted in human earth evolution for receiving the wisdom through which the physical earthly goal can by degrees be attained. At the moment when the event of Golgotha was accomplished, the other aptitude was injected into mankind by which it is possible to turn the influence of Ahriman to good. Henceforth the human being is able to carry with him out of life through the portals of death what releases him from isolation in the spiritual world. The event of Palestine is not only the center of the physical evolution of mankind, but it is also the center of the other worlds to which the human being belongs. When the “Mystery of Golgotha” was accomplished, when “Death on the Cross” was suffered, the Christ appeared in the world in which souls tarry after death, and in that region He set bounds to the power of Ahriman. From this moment the realm that was named by the Greeks the “kingdom of the shades” was illuminated by that spiritual lightning flash that showed its inhabitants that henceforth light would again appear in it. What was attained through the Mystery of Golgotha for the physical world threw its light into the spiritual world. — Thus the post-Atlantean human evolution was, up to this event, an ascent for the physical world of the senses, but it was at the same time a descent for the spiritual. Everything that flowed into the world of the senses poured forth from what had already existed in the spiritual world from primeval ages. Since the Christ event, human beings who elevate themselves to the Christ mystery are able to carry with them into the spiritual world what they have acquired in the sense world. It flows back again from the spiritual world into the earthly-sensory world by human beings bringing back with them into reincarnation what the Christ impulse has become for them in the world of spirit between death and rebirth.
What the Christ event bestowed upon mankind's evolution acted within it like a seed. The seed can ripen only gradually. Only the very smallest part of the new wisdom's profundity has penetrated physical existence up to the present. This existence stands just at the beginning of Christian evolution. During the succeeding centuries that have elapsed since that event, Christian evolution has been able to unveil only as much of Its inner nature as human beings, peoples, were capable of receiving, were capable of absorbing with their mental capacities. The first form into which this knowledge could be poured may be described as an all-encompassing ideal of life. As such it opposed what in the post-Atlantean humanity had fashioned itself as modes of life. We have already described the conditions that prevailed in the evolution of mankind since the repopulation of the earth in the Lemurian age. The human beings, as to their soul nature, may thus be traced back to various beings who, returning from other worlds, incarnated in the bodily descendants of the ancient Lemurians. The various human races are a result of this fact, and, in consequence of their karma, the most varied life-interests appeared in the reincarnated souls. As long as the after-effects of all this prevailed, the ideal of a “common humanity” could not exist. Mankind proceeded from a unity, but Earth evolution up to the present has led to differentiation. In the Christ-concept an ideal is given that counteracts all differentiation, for in the human being Who bears the name of Christ live also the forces of the exalted Sun Being in Whom every human ego finds its origin. The Israelites felt themselves still as a folk, the human being as a member of this folk. At the outset the fact that in the Christ Jesus lives the ideal man Who is not touched by the conditions of separation was only comprehended in thought, and Christianity became the ideal of an all-encompassing brotherhood. Disregarding all separate interests and separate relationships, the feeling arose that the inmost ego of every human being has the same origin. (Alongside all earthly forefathers the common father of all human beings appears. “I and the Father are One.”)
In Europe in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries A.D. a cultural age was prepared that began in the fifteenth century and still continues today. It was gradually to replace the fourth, Greco-Latin, period. It is the fifth post-Atlantean culture period. The peoples, which after various migrations and most manifold destinies had made themselves pillars of this age, were descendants of those Atlanteans who had had the least contact with what had occurred in the meantime in the four preceding cultural epochs. They had not penetrated into the regions in which the cultures in question took root, but they had in their way continued the Atlantean cultures. There were among them many people who had preserved to a high degree the heritage of the ancient dreamlike clairvoyance, the intermediate state between waking and sleeping already described. Such individuals were acquainted with the spiritual world through their own experience and were able to communicate what takes place in that world to their fellow-men. A treasure house of narrative about spiritual beings and spiritual events was built up. The treasures of folk fairy tales and myths arose originally from such spiritual experiences. For the dreamlike clairvoyance of many people lasted right on into times not far removed from our present day. There were other human individuals who had lost their clairvoyance but who acquired the faculties of perception in the sensory-physical world through feelings and sensations that corresponded to these clairvoyant experiences. Here, also, the Atlantean oracles had their successors. There were mysteries everywhere. In these mysteries, however, the kinds of secrets of initiation were predominantly developed that led to the revelation of the region of the spirit world that Ahriman keeps concealed. It is the spiritual powers behind the forces of nature that were revealed in these mysteries. In the mythologies of the European nations are contained the remnants of what the initiates of these mysteries were able to communicate to human beings. These mythologies, however, contained also the other concealed wisdom, although in less complete form than it was contained in the Southern and Eastern mysteries. Superhuman beings were also known in Europe. Yet they appeared in a state of constant strife with the companions of Lucifer. The God of Light was proclaimed, but in such a form that it was impossible to say whether He would overcome Lucifer. But as a compensation for this, the future Christ form shone also into these mysteries. It was proclaimed that His kingdom would replace the kingdom of the other God of Light. (All myths about the Twilight of the Gods — the Gotterdammerung — and similar events have their origin in this knowledge of the European mysteries. Such influences caused a cleavage in the soul of the human beings of the fifth cultural epoch that still continues on into the present and shows itself in the most manifold phenomena of life. The soul did not preserve from ancient times the urge toward the spirit so strongly that it would have been able to retain the connection between the spirit and sense worlds. It retained it merely in the development of its feelings and sensations, but not, however, as a direct perception of the supersensible world. On the other hand, the attention of the human being was directed more and more toward the world of the senses and its control. The powers of the intellect that awoke in the last part of the Atlantean epoch, all the forces in the human being of which the physical brain is the instrument were developed for the sense world and for its knowledge and control. Two worlds, so to speak, developed in the human breast. One is turned toward sensory-physical existence, the other is receptive to the revelation of the spiritual in order to penetrate it through feeling and sensation, but without perceiving it. The tendencies toward this cleavage of the soul were already present when the teaching of Christ streamed into the regions of Europe. This evangel of the spirit was received into human hearts, penetrated sensation and feeling, but could not find the connection with what the intellect, directed toward the senses, explored in the physical-sensory existence. What we know today as the contrast of outer science and spiritual knowledge is but a consequence of this fact. The Christian mysticism of Eckhardt, Tauler, and others, is a result of the permeation of feeling and sensation with Christianity. The science of the sense world and its results in life are the consequences of the other side of the soul's capacities. We owe the progress in the field of outer material culture entirely to this separation of capacities. Because the human faculties that have the brain as their instrument turned one-sidedly to physical life, they were able to attain to the increase in power that made possible modern science and technology. This material culture could originate only among the nations of Europe, for they are the descendants of Atlantean ancestors who developed the tendency for the physical sense world into faculties only when this tendency had attained a certain maturity. Previously these descendants let it slumber, and they were nourished by the heritage of Atlantean clairvoyance and the communications of their initiates. While outwardly spiritual culture had yielded only to these influences, the sense for the material domination of the world gradually matured.
At present, however, the dawn of the sixth post-Atlantean cultural period already proclaims itself. For what is to arise in human evolution at a certain time begins to ripen in the preceding age. What is already able to show its beginnings at present is the discovery of the link that unites the two impulses in the human breast: material culture and life in the world of the spirit. For this purpose it is necessary that the results of spiritual perception are comprehended, and also that the manifestations of the spirit are recognized in the observations and experiences of the sense world. The sixth cultural epoch will bring the harmony between these two impulses to complete development. With this, the considerations of this book have advanced to a point where they can pass over from a view of the past to one of the future. It is, however, better if this view is preceded by a consideration of the knowledge of the higher worlds and of initiation. Then we shall have an opportunity to present briefly this view of the future, as far as this is possible within the framework of this book.