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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Awareness - Life - Form
GA 89

Draft of a spiritual-scientific cosmology

1903/04

Human existence is at a number of different levels of consciousness today. The ordinary state is the one in which we are from waking up to going to sleep. In this state we perceive things through the senses and develop ideas based on our sensory perceptions. The physical world exists for us because of this, and our powers of soul, our thinking, feeling, will intent and actions relate to this world.

Two other states of consciousness regularly take the place of the one above—dream-filled sleep and deep, dreamless sleep. These are often referred to as ‘unconscious’, but the term masks the true situation. In reality they are merely different kinds of consciousness. We might call them dimmer forms of consciousness.

Dream-filled sleep does not present objects, the way waking daytime consciousness does, but images which arise in the soul and pass away again. In the light of our ordinary consciousness, these images may seem highly confusing, yet if we gain clarity about their essential nature they can take us more deeply into the nature of the world. The way they present themselves in the soul’s night-time life cannot provide a proper basis for perceptive insight into them. This only arises for someone who develops his higher powers of insight, as described in this book,1This was not included in the fragment. Instead, a series of essays on ‘How to Know Higher Worlds’ (published in book form in 1909) began to appear in Lucifer Gnosis in June 1904; the inner training is also described in Occult Science. which will give him insight into the worlds that lie beyond the one perceived by the senses. In this chapter, a description will be given of the true facts relating to those higher worlds. Anyone who follows the way that leads to insight into these regions will then also find these facts to be true.

The first thing to strike one when it comes to the world of dreams is the allegorical character of its images. This can emerge clearly if we pay reasonably subtle attention to the colourful richness and variety of dream events. This world, which passes fleetingly through the soul, offers all intermediate stages from simple allegory to dramatic event. You dream of a conflagration; you wake up and find that you had gone to sleep by the lamp. The light of the lamp was perceived in your dream, not the way it appears to the senses in the ordinary world but as an allegorical conflagration. Or you dream that you hear a group of horsemen ride past. You wake up, and the sound of the horses’ hooves merges into the striking of the clock which has thus found an allegorical form. You dream of an animal scratching the side of your face. You wake up and find that you feel pain in that area; this pain had found its own allegory in your dream. A longer dream might be something like this. Someone dreams he is walking through woods. He hears a sound. As he moves on, someone emerges from some bushes and attacks him. A struggle ensues and the attacker shoots. At that moment the dreamer wakes up and finds that he has just knocked over the chair beside his bed. The chair hitting the floor had been transformed into the allegorical action in his dream consciousness. External events or also internal ones, as in the example of the scratching animal, may be perceived as allegories through the dream. Affects and moods may also take this form. Thus someone may have an oppressive feeling that something unpleasant is going to happen during the next few days. In his dream the feeling comes to expression in that he finds himself in danger of drowning.

The above examples characterize two qualities of dream-level consciousness—an image nature and something creative within this. Our daytime consciousness does not have this creative quality. It presents the objects that surround us the way they are in the physical world outside. Consciousness at dream level adds something which comes from a different source.

What causes this source to open up? Nothing else but that the function of the senses, on which daytime consciousness depends, has ceased in sleep. It has fallen silent, which is evident from the fact that the human being no longer has self awareness. This self-awareness is bound up with the function of the physical senses; when these fall silent, it goes down into an abyss. In the science of the spirit we refer to this by saying that the human soul has withdrawn from the physical world. Unless you want to insist that human beings cease to exist on going to sleep and are recreated on waking up, you will not find it difficult to realize that in their sleep human beings exist in a world which is not the physical world. This world is called the astral world. For the moment readers may take this term to be a name for the world of which human beings get something of an idea through their dreams. Other chapters in this book will give the term its full justification.2Those other chapters were never written.

In their dreams, human beings are in the astral world. The realities and entities of this world appear in images. The conscious mind perceives these images; but human beings have no self-awareness. An analogy from everyday life can give an idea of what the situation is. Human beings only perceive the world around them in so far as they have the organs for doing so. If they had no ears there’d be no world of sound for them, nor a world of light and colour without eyes, and so on. If human beings were to develop a new organ in their bodies, something completely new would also appear in their environment, just as light and colour appear as something completely new for someone who was born blind and has had an operation.

Just as the human physical body perceives the physical world through its organs, so does another body—a soul body—perceive the other, astral world through its own organs when we dream. It is merely that there is no self-awareness with this body. self-awareness is outside the human sphere when we are in this state.

If it were impossible for human self-awareness to arise in this state as well, we would never be able to see through the conditions which pertain here. It is however possible with the higher training, also called initiation, which has been mentioned above and is described in this book. With it we learn to develop organs in the astral body when we are in the dream state, and these are similar to the organs our physical body has for the perception of the physical world. Once these organs have developed, a self-awareness arises during the dream which is similar to the self-awareness we have in our waking life. Once this level of existence is reached the whole world of our dreams will also change to a considerable degree. It will lose the confusing richness of variety which it has in the ordinary sleeper, with an inner order and harmony taking its place which is not just the equal of our ordinary physical world but goes well beyond it with regard to these qualities. Human beings then realize that another world has always existed around them, just as the world of light and colour exists around someone who is blind. They merely were not able to see it because they did not have the organs for it, just as a blind person cannot see the world of light and colour before his operation. The significant moment when the astral organs of perception begin to function in a person is called the ‘awakening’ or ‘rebirth’ in occult science.

At this moment of awakening the individual finds himself surrounded by a higher world where things he knew before in the world of the senses have different qualities and, what is more, facts and entities exist that were unknown to him before. He will now also realize that this other world holds the images out of which the objects in the world perceived through the senses take form. It is not a bad idea to compare the way in which the physical world arises from the astral world with the way ice forms in water. Just as ice is transformed water, so the physical world is transformed astral world. And just as water is always in a state of flux, so we have the astral world as a constantly changing world of images which lies behind the physical world. The astral forms do not have the firm definition and contours we know in the ordinary world. Everything is in flux and changing. And a physical object or entity only arises as if such a flowing image were to be frozen, in a way, for a moment. Anyone wanting to apply the ideas of the physical world with its clearly defined outlines to the astral region would merely show that he does not have real insight into this world, which is of a completely different kind.

Just as the entities of the physical world are embodied in a physical body, so are the astral images a reflection of entities which do not enter into the physical world. They come to expression in a different kind of matter than does the human being living in the physical world and coming to expression in flesh and blood.

What is the nature of this astral matter? It is indeed a form of matter which human beings also have in them. It is merely that in waking everyday life it is covered over, as it were, by ideas based on the world of the senses. Human desires, wishes and dislikes, sympathies and antipathies relate to the things perceived through the senses. People desire one object and reject another. It is nowhere else but in these desires, wishes and dislikes that the source must be sought on which the state of consciousness we have in our dreams also draws when objects are transformed into allegories. The self-awareness we have by day gives our desires and wishes the nourishment they require, taking it from perceptions gained in the outside world. If the activities of the outer senses fall silent, a different, creative power comes into play and creates the images from material consisting of wishes and desires. In occult science it is said that the dreaming human being is in an astral body woven of wishes and desires and that the physical body is then without self awareness. As to initiates, or those who have been awakened, they, too, have left their physical bodies, but their self-awareness resides in their astral bodies. Just as the physical body is able to convey perception of physical things because its organs are made of the same material as the physical world, so is the initiate able to perceive the entities of the astral world because he has organs made of the material of the wishes and desires in which those entities come to expression.

The difference between non-initiates and initiates is that the astral world does not become visible to the former as an outside world, whilst it does so for the latter. This astral world remains mere inner world for those who are not awakened; they live it in their wishes and desires; but they do not see them. The initiate does not merely feel a wish; he perceives it as an object in the outside world, just as someone who is not awakened perceives tables and chairs.

The ordinary world of dreams is, however, only a faint echo of the world perceived by the initiate. This is inevitable, as there is no self-awareness involved. Yet where is our self-awareness during a dream? It has withdrawn to a higher world where initially the human being does not exist as such. Our relationship to that world may be shown in an analogy. Think of a human hand and a tool held in that hand. For as long as the hand is holding the tool the two are a whole, as it were. The latter does what the former decides. However, as soon as the hand puts the tool aside, this is left to itself; the movements of the hand merely express the will of the individual to whom the hand belongs. The physical body in daytime waking life should thus be seen as the tool of a limb belonging to a higher spiritual entity. If this extends a limb, as it were, into the physical body, sensory functions and hence self-awareness arise in that body. self-awareness ceases when the limb leaves the body. The inmost essential spirit of the human being, which is capable of self-awareness, is thus a part of a higher spirit which is extended, as it were, for periods of time and clothed in the physical body. We can get an even better idea of this if we consider the extension to go hand in hand with a tying-off process, as if a drop were to separate out from the higher spirit in our waking hours which is then absorbed again during sleep. In their waking hours, human beings are not aware of their connection with a higher spirit; they are thus truly cut off from it. During sleep, they have to be without self-awareness, for it then withdraws into the higher spirit; this absorbs it, and it rests within it.

The world of images vanishes in dreamless sleep. The physical body then seems to be lying there wholly without conscious awareness; in reality, however, its state of conscious awareness is merely one that is dimmer than the one it had in dream-filled sleep. The power to produce images has also left the physical body. Because of this, only the insights gained by individuals who have been awakened can provide insight into this state. Those who have not been awakened lack perceptions of it. For someone who has been awakened, however, the image-producing body, which before this was still loosely connected with the physical body, shows itself to have been lifted out of it. And it is not inactive now but serves to restore the energies of the physical body, which show themselves to have been exhausted when we are tired, doing so to the required level. This explains the refreshing effect of sound sleep. Tired, the physical body falls asleep. At this moment it hands its self awareness over to higher spirits. In the in-between state of dream-filled sleep the soul is still loosely connected with the physical body. The characteristic aspect of this soul is its creative nature. From the moment of waking up, it begins to use its creative powers to make perceptions mediated through the senses part of our inner life. On falling asleep, there are no more sensory perceptions of the outside world. In the in-between state of dreaming the creative element is still active, transforming itself into the allegorical images I have described; then the allegorical images also cease to develop; the soul turns the whole of its creative power to the body, on which it now works from the outside.

Anyone wishing to set the insights presented in occult science aside, would have to realize the nature of the soul’s night-time activity simply from the fact that we feel refreshed when we wake up in the mornings. Daytime life has inharmonious, chaotic qualities. Things from the physical surroundings influence human beings from all sides. First one thing enters into their inner life and then another. This brings the inner creative powers out of the order which is theirs by nature. Order and balance is restored during the night. The soul restores order and harmony. With the life we live by day the physical body gradually comes to look like a body of air with wind currents passing through it from all sides, with different parts of that body of air showing irregular relative movements. On waking up, the physical body may be compared to a body of air set in regular oscillation by the rhythm and harmony of a piece of music. And initiates do indeed perceive the work the soul does on the body during sleep as though it were a penetration with sound. In their sleep, human beings enter into the harmony of the inner life. This is the very harmony out of which they were created. Before the physical body first opened up to the outside world through its sense organs, it was wholly under the influence of this harmony which differentiated it. This is the harmony of soul, the music of the soul, which passes through the whole world. Human beings are surrounded by its sounds just as they are surrounded by the images of which I spoke earlier. This image world is the perceived real environment for those who achieve awakening through inner training, and at an every higher level this is also true for this third world. Sounds begin to arise around them. And in these sounds, the meaning of the world becomes apparent to them. Just as the form of the physical world has arisen from the images, so were these forms given their inner meaning and nature out of the sounds I have described. From this point of view all things are sound become form.

When awake, therefore, the human being is made up of three bodies:

  1. the physical body, which perceives the physical world through organs implanted in it from the outside world and which encompasses self-awareness;

  2. a body which has an inwardly mobile image character; its images are at the same time the archetypes of the physical body, the firmly defined forms of which have arisen, as it were, by becoming still and frozen out of the continually changing images of the second body;

  3. both the physical body and the image body are filled with a harmony of sound, which is a third body. In dream-filled sleep the soul withdraws from the physical body; it remains connected with the other two bodies, sounding throughout the sound body and filling the image body with images. The latter influence the physical body and impart to it dream images that are like shades. In dreamless sleep the soul is connected only with the sound body; the part of it which was in the physical body during waking hours is now outside it and works on it from the outside. This activity which flows from the soul to the physical body produces a level of consciousness which is so dim that the human being does not perceive it.

These in fact are three states of consciousness for the physical body—daytime waking consciousness, the dream state and the dreamless sleep state. The dimness of the last two clears for the initiate; thanks to this he lives in higher worlds just as the unawakened live in the physical world around them in daytime waking life. This gives us five states of consciousness, and in progressive order of clarity they may be listed as follows:

  1. the dreamless sleep state
  2. the dream-filled sleep state
  3. daytime waking consciousness
  4. the initiate’s image level of conscious awareness
  5. the initiate’s level of conscious awareness in sound

If we consider that initiates reach the last two levels as a stage of higher human development with their training in occult science, we realize that daytime waking consciousness is a level which is higher than the two which lie below it and has therefore developed from them. This is taught in occult science. There we learn that in a far distant past the human being went through a stage of evolution where he had only a dim sleep level of consciousness without any dream images; he then rose to a dim state of dream-filled consciousness before he finally arrived at the daytime waking consciousness he has today. Someone preparing for initiation takes this line of evolution further. He develops the two higher forms of conscious awareness.

There is an even higher level of conscious awareness which an initiate may reach. It is evident from the above that at the level of awareness of sound the soul is still connected with the human body. This connection may, however, cease altogether. The soul can leave the body altogether. An initiate learns to do this. If he still wants to perceive something at that point he must have developed organs of a still higher kind. When that is the case, the meaning of the world comes to direct expression in his environment, without sound to mediate it. This level of awareness, which for the time being we’ll call the highest, is called spiritual awareness, or consciousness in pure spirit. If we go back to the list above, this level would have to correspond to a state for the human being where consciousness is even duller than in dreamless sleep. This is in fact the case, in general terms. Human beings of the present age are not yet able to live out this state in reality. The soul would have to be completely out of the body; a wholly soulless state would have to interrupt dreamless sleep. This would in fact mean that the physical body was completely given over to itself, that is, temporarily dead. This is something to which the physical body must not be exposed lest it run the risk of being no longer capable of receiving the soul into itself.

In evolution, however, this state did indeed precede the level of dreamless sleep consciousness. The complete sequence of human levels of consciousness is thus the following:

  1. a low level of consciousness, the dimmest of all
  2. the dreamless sleep state
  3. the dream-filled sleep state
  4. daytime waking consciousness
  5. the initiate’s image level of conscious awareness
  6. the initiate’s level of conscious awareness in sound
  7. spiritual awareness

At the present time, the living human body has only advanced to the fourth level. Initiates can reach the higher kinds of consciousness. These also take them into higher worlds. Human evolution should be thought of, however, as the physical body itself evolving in the first three stages, having now reached a level where it still shows two other forms of conscious awareness in sleep which are remnants of earlier stages. The first stage has become completely obscured in the course of evolution. The three higher stages for initiates cannot yet come to expression in the physical body at the present time because it cannot develop organs for it. They are prophetic advance evidence of forms which the physical body will assume in future.

If we take the above as our basis for getting a real picture of the world as it is today, it is seen to be fourfold—firstly the physical world perceived by the physical senses, then a world of images which surrounds and penetrates this, furthermore a world of sound which is present in every part of those other two, and finally a spiritual world which lies behind it all.

This world was preceded by one in which man lived as in a dream. At that time the condition of his physical body was like the one in which he finds himself in his dream-filled sleep today. His surroundings were like a panorama of shifting images. Nothing was clearly outlined. This condition was at the time interrupted by another which is like our dreamless sleep today, and this in turn gave way to one which can no longer be realized today and was filled with the level of conscious awareness given as the first in the list above.

In a world that existed even earlier, man could not rise to living experience of dream images. The highest level of consciousness was that of dreamless sleep. This condition was interrupted by the lower and most dim consciousness which today has already become obscured; this in turn by a condition which has lost all significance where present-day evolution is concerned.

In the first world of which we hear in occult science, man also did not have the dull consciousness of sleep; the first of the states described above was then the highest; two others which do not come into consideration today, alternated with it.

Thus we look back to evolution in a far distant past; we perceive four stages which the human physical body has gone through. We also look into the future, when the three levels of higher consciousness which today can be reached by initiates will come to realization in the physical world. Our world will yield to a future world where human physical bodies will have organs by which a human being will be able to perceive an forever shifting world of images whilst also having self awareness, and will indeed see himself as such a world. Beyond this we perceive a world where the images will be filled with harmonious sounds expressing their inner nature. Finally we perceive a world that is spiritual by nature but will have poured its spirit out into physical nature.

This is how the evolution of the world is presented in occult science, a world in which humanity goes through its consecutive stages.3Conscious awareness - life - form. These three basic principles, each in 7 stages or metamorphoses, were mentioned here for the first time. See also Cosmic Memory. Atlantis and Lemuria (GA 11), and lectures and lecture courses in the years that followed, up to 1907/08. In a lecture given in Dornach on 27 August 1915, Rudolf Steiner referred to them as follows: ‘Very early on, I drew attention to the fact that to gain an overview of world evolution one must above all consider seven states of conscious awareness—I listed them at the time—as well as seven states of life and seven states of form. There are questions relating to life which can be answered by merely considering changes in form; there are questions we can answer by considering just the metamorphosis of life; but some phenomena, certain facts of life, cannot be answered except by rising to a point where one considers the different states of conscious awareness which apply’ [see Chance, Providence and Necessity, tr. M. Spock; New York: Anthroposophic Press 1988]. See also the lectures given at the end of December 1918, in which the principles of conscious awareness - life - form as shown as stages of initiation. Rudolf Steiner also referred to the way in which the attempt was made to show this in the forms of the First Goetheanum [How Can Mankind Find the Christ Again? tr. 0. D. Wannamaker, F. E. Dawson, G. Hahn; New York: Anthroposophic Press 1984], These stages are given names which have also been applied to the planets which surround the world.4These terms are taken from Rosicrucian occultism. See lecture given in Munich on 20 May 1907 in Bilder okkulter Siegel und Saeulen. Der Muenchner Kongress Pfingsten 1907 und seine Auswirkungen (English in Anthroposophical News Sheet 1948; 16:19-22). In the Theosophical Society people spoke only of seven spheres, rounds and globes. See also Note 18. The stage of development where man was still at the dimmest level of consciousness is called Saturn evolution; the second stage, when man lived in a dreamless sleep level of consciousness, Sun evolution; the third, when the dream level of consciousness arose, the Moon stage; the fourth, which is the present one, with man having fought his way through to clear daytime conscious awareness, Earth evolution. And the stages for the future, when the levels of higher consciousness which initiates are able to reach now will come to physical expression, are consecutively called Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan evolution.

The distinction between the levels of consciousness initiates have and those which humanity will have during those future Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan evolutions lies in the fact that the former must rise to higher worlds in order to live in those states of conscious awareness, whilst future humanity will have them in the physical world. This is because in the case of present-day initiates appropriate organs of perception are created out of the powers of those higher worlds; in future, organs which will be their equal will arise for physical bodies out of the physical environment. The human being can perceive the world around him which provides the material for his organs. In future the physical environment will have creative powers which at present belong only to the higher worlds. We can therefore see the evolution of the world to be such that higher and higher worlds are physically embodied in succession. The Earth is the fourth embodiment. Its physical differentiation is such that it is able to impress the organs for clear daytime consciousness in the organism. In the terms of occult science it evolved from a different physical state where it was only able to impress organs for dream-level consciousness in the body. This state is given the name ‘Moon’. The Earth thus developed out of this Moon by acquiring a new faculty, and that is to develop the organs for daytime waking consciousness. The ‘Moon’ had arisen from the ‘Sun’. What has now become ‘Earth’ was therefore ‘Sun’ at that time. In occult science the term ‘Sun state’ is used for the state where the cosmic body which is in that state is able to create only the organs for dreamless sleep consciousness in a human body. And before the Earth was ‘Sun’ in this sense, it was at the ‘Saturn stage’.

What gives such a cosmic body the power to create the requisite organs in the human body? It would never be able to do this if it were not that these organs were first created in human beings who were ahead of their time with regard to higher worlds. By developing Jupiter organs in advance, today’s initiates are creating the possibility for the image world around us to assume physical character. Images become rigid and assume physical bodily nature because the forms they will assume exist first of all in the spirit. Initiates thus come to reshape the cosmic body on which they dwell. The creative powers which later on will call the objects of humanity’s physical surroundings into existence shine out from them, as it were.

This is how the initiates of the Moon stage created the physical form of the Earth in the spirit before it became physical earth. They perceived the Earth as their object of a higher world.

In occult science, seven great world cycles or periods are known through which the entity is going which at its fourth level is Earth. Each period has to do with a higher development of the human body. From this insight, occult scientists see 'four-foldness’ as something which characterizes the present stage of world evolution.5See Special Note (follows), also lecture given in Berlin on 28 January 1907 (in GA 96; The Lord’s Prayer, tr. A. M. W., rev. M. Cotterel; Anthroposophical Publishing Co. 1958). This refers, for instance, to the ‘four elements’ known to Pythagoras and his school. Four is the number of the ‘macrocosm’, that is, the world which humanity presently inhabits. This has raised humanity to the fourth level of conscious awareness.

The human being is seen as ‘microcosm’ in relation to this ‘macrocosm’ in occult science. His soul already holds the potential for the future physical ‘macrocosm’. He is therefore in the process of expanding his inner ‘microcosm’ into ‘macrocosm’. The creative womb for the latter lies in him. From this point of view, the soul is seen in occult science as a creative seed for the future, an ‘inner’ principle which seeks to come to realization in something that will be something ‘outer’.

To be able to be creative in the outer world this soul must first grow mature. It must have living inner experience of the things to which it will later give outward form. Before the soul had the ability, for instance, of impressing organs for clear daytime consciousness on the physical body, it had to go through a sequence of developmental stages where it gradually acquired this ability. Thus it had to have living experience of the first state of consciousness in itself before it was able to create it; and the same holds true for the other levels of conscious awareness. These stages of development which precede the creation of the different kinds of conscious awareness in the soul are called levels of life in occult science. There are therefore seven levels of life, just as there are seven levels of consciousness. Life differs from conscious awareness in that the former has inner character, whilst the latter depends on a relationship to the outside world.

With reference to the Earth we can say that before the clear daytime state of consciousness developed on it in the human body, this cosmic body had to go through four states which may be seen as four states of life


The levels of the soul’s living experience are found if we think of the outside world as it is perceived in the states of consciousness, being made part of inner life. First we have the dimmest state of consciousness which comes before dreamless sleep. In the latter, the soul works on the body to harmonize it; the corresponding state of life is harmonization of one’s own inner life. It therefore fills itself with a world of sounding movement. Before, in the dimmest state of living experience, it was within an unmoving inner life of its own. It entered wholly into feeling this in an indifference that knew no differentiation. This lowest state of life is called the first elemental world.6See chapter on the physical world and its connection with soul land and spirit land in Theosophy, also lecture given in Berlin on 11 November 1903 (in German) in Über die astrale Welt und das Devachan (GA 88) and lecture given in Munich on 4 December 1907 (GA 98; Engl.: The Elemental Kingdoms publ. in Anthroposophical News Sheet 1946; 4: 13-16). Here, matter is experienced in its original nature. Matter begins to stir and move in all kinds of different directions. Self experience of this mobility is the first level of life and the first elemental world. The second level is reached when rhythm and harmony arise in those movements. The corresponding level of life consists in inwardly becoming aware of rhythm as sound. This is the second elemental world. The third level develops as the movements become images. The soul then lives within itself as though in a world of images that take form and dissolve again. This is the third elemental world. At the fourth level the images assume definite form; individual elements emerge from the shifting panorama. This means that it is no longer only inner living experience, but can be perceived outside. It is the world of outer bodies.

In this world we have to distinguish between the configuration which it has for man’s clear daytime consciousness and the configuration which it experiences within itself. The body truly has living experience within itself of its form, that is, of matter in regular configurations. At the next level, this mere experience of form is overcome; its place is taken by living experience of changing form. Configuration arises and changes. It would be reasonable to say that at this level the third elemental world shows itself in a higher configuration. In the third elemental world the movement from one configuration to another can only be experienced as image; in this, the fifth world, image progresses to becoming a solid external object, but this external object does not come to an end in the form, for it keeps the ability to change. This is the world of growing bodies that reproduce themselves. Its capacity for change shows itself in that very growth and reproduction. In the next world the ability is also gained to have living experience of the way the outer influences the inner. It is the world of sentient entities. The final world to be considered is one with not only inner experience of things outside but of sharing in their inner experience. This is the world of shared inner experience. The sequence for the levels of life is thus as follows:

  1. dim living experience of matter
  2. living experience of inner movement
  3. living experience of inner configuration
  4. living experience of definite boundaries
  5. living experience of changing form
  6. living experience of influence of the outside world as sentience
  7. sharing in the living experience of the outside world

The living inner experience of the soul has to be preceded by the creation of this life. For we cannot have living experience of anything unless it exists. If living inner experience is called soul element in occult science, then the creative element is referred to as spiritual. The [physical body] perceives by means of organs; the soul experiences itself inside; the spirit directs creative activity to the outside. Just as seven soul experiences preceded the seven levels of conscious awareness, so do seven kinds of creative activity precede these experiences in the soul. What corresponds to the dim experience of matter in the creative sphere is the creation of matter. Matter is flowing into the world there in an indifferent way. This sphere is called the sphere of formlessness. At the next level matter differentiates and its parts enter into relationship with one another. We then have different forms of matter which combine and separate. This is called the sphere of form. At the third level matter no longer needs to relate to matter itself; instead, forces develop in matter, forms of matter attract or repel one another, and so on. This is the astral sphere. At the fourth level matter is configured by forces around it; at the third level these had merely regulated external relationships, and now they work into the inner aspect of entities. This is the physical sphere. An entity which is at this level reflects the world around it;7The image of the mirror (see also lecture given in Cologne on 29 December 1907, publ. in German in GA 101) is one of the most important symbols of the spiritual world. It is used many times in the whole of Rudolf Steiner’s works. the forces of that world work on its differentiation.

Further progress means that the entity not only becomes differentiated inwardly in tune with the forces of the surrounding world but also gives itself an outer physiognomy which bears the imprint of this surrounding world. Whereas an entity of the fourth level was a mirror reflection of its surroundings, an entity of the fifth level expressed this surrounding world in its physiognomy. At the sixth level, physiognomy becomes something that flows out. An entity at this level creates things in its surroundings just as it first created itself. This is the level of configuration. At the seventh level configuration becomes creation. The entity which has reached this level creates forms around itself which are on the small scale what that surrounding world is on the large scale. It is the level of creative work.

The evolution of the spiritual principle thus proceeded like this:

  1. formlessness
  2. giving form
  3. embodying strength
  4. configuration in accord with the forces of the surrounding world
  5. capacity for physiognomic expression
  6. power of configuration
  7. creative ability

When Saturn evolution began, the human body was at the level of formlessness. It had to struggle through to creative ability before a soul was able to have its first, living experience of matter in it. This means that the body had to evolve through the seven levels of creative activity; after that, its soul was able to live in all parts of it. The soul then had to reach a point where it can impart its inner movement to the seven forms of the body. The first time the body went through its seven forms it was still quite lifeless itself. It was only at the seventh level, where the body became creative, that its life awoke. And it had to awaken now, for the body expended matter in the process of creation. This the soul had to replace. Then a second cycle started. The matter flowing into the body as a replacement itself went through the seven levels from formlessness to creative ability. Once it had reached that point, the soul no longer limited itself to the living experiences that came with the movement of the matter as it came flowing in but began a new level of life. Having become creative itself, the matter flowing in began to fill the body inwardly. Before, it had always only replaced what had been expended; now it settled in the body. And once again it went through all levels from formlessness to creative ability. It would first be formless when deposited in the body, and then gradually progress to forms, develop powers, configuring structures, giving them physiognomic expression, and so on. During the whole of this cycle the soul went through its third level of life. It harmonized this inner differentiation and made good any disorder that had arisen through the inner processes. Having thus created inner configuration, matter then let the outside world influence it at the fourth level. It was able to do this, for the soul which dwelt in it had now become ready to live with dim awareness in impressions coming from outside and thus restore to order any disorder caused by the outside world. In the next cycle the body no longer just differentiated itself; it assumed a new configuration under the influence of the outside world. The soul had gained the ability to regulate the process of transformation. Then a cycle came where the body perceived the influences of the outside world by being sentient of them. The soul was again the regulator at this level of existence. The body had then reached its final level; it was able to have living experience of the outside world. The soul had reached the point where it anticipated a future level, which would be the next level of conscious awareness in what for Saturn existence was a higher world. It was thus going through the dreamless sleep state in this last Saturn cycle. And in the first Sun cycle it transferred this to the physical body.

It can be seen that during the Saturn period the physical human body went through a physical stage seven times. Each time it arrived at such a stage, the soul had reached a higher level in its living experience. At the seventh stage it went beyond Saturn evolution, so that its inner experience pointed to the Sun stage.

When the Sun cycle began, the physical body had reached the point where it was able to take its own configuration in hand. Before, the soul had regulated configuration; now the body had its own configurer in it. This we call the ether body. The soul was then no longer in direct connection with the physical body; between them was the ether body, acting as a mediator. The soul’s experiences were now the ether body’s, just as before they had become the physical body’s. This ether body now must first of all go through the seven form states from formlessness to creative activity. Working to configure the physical body, the ether body was all the time losing tone. And this was continually regulated by the soul. Sun evolution went through seven physical stages in this way. At each stage, the soul had reached a higher level; at the seventh it began to anticipate a new state of conscious awareness. Still sharing the experience of the ether body as it became the creator of new structures which were in the image of the whole Sun world, it did already sense inwardly a world of images surging up and down within it.

In the first Moon cycle it transferred this world of images to the ether body and this then configured the physical body according to those soul images. Whereas at the Sun level the ether body came between physical body and soul as a configurer, so the body of images I have characterized now found its place between ether body and soul. In occult science it is known as the sentient body. For as human inner sentience of the outside world flows inward, as it were, thus making the contents of the outside world something the inner world possessed, so did the images in the body of images act from the inside to the outside, impressing their contents on the ether body which in turn transferred them to the physical body.

During Moon evolution the human being again went seven times through all the form states, letting the soul mature to a higher level in each of them. During the seventh level the soul had the ability to give its images the more perfect form; it was able to enter into the living experience of everything that happened around it on the cosmic body, and its world of images thus reflected the whole Moon world. At the same time it anticipated experience of the highest level of consciousness which would come at the next level; it began to have vision of solid forms within its changing world of images. This made it ready to influence the ether body so that it was able to develop organs in itself that were of a more lasting nature.

With this, it became possible to make the transition to the first Earth cycle. The physical body now received the solid image forms into itself; they became its organs. A fourth body then began to develop in the human being. Perceptions of external objects came in between image body and soul. In a way, the body had now outgrown the soul; it had become independent. Before that the fruits of the images which the soul had gained from the outside world had developed in it. Now the outside world was bringing out direct perceptions in the body. The inner life of the soul then became a sharing of those perceptions. This independent activity on the part of the body came to be reflected in self-awareness. This, however, only matured slowly. First the human being had to go through a cycle of forms during which only a dim life of matter was sensed in his organs; in a second cycle the influence of matter caused internal movement; the ether body was able to share in the experience of the outside world through this, and it transformed the organs to make them living instruments of the physical body. In a third cycle the image body, too, grew able to recreate the outside world. It stimulated the organs to such effect that they themselves produced images which lived in this, though they were not yet reflections of external things. It was only in the fourth cycle that the soul itself became able to enter into every part of the bodily organs; it thus separated the images from those organs and clothed the external things in them. It then had an outside world with which it came face to face as an inner, independent entity.

Now the time had also come when the organs of the body which the soul was using would from time to time become exhausted. The possibility of being connected with the outside world would then cease. Sleep would come, in which the soul would again act to harmonize the physical body via the image and the ether body, the way it had done before. In occult science, therefore, sleep appears as something left behind from earlier stages of evolution. At the present time, the human being has gone some way beyond the middle of the fourth Earth cycle. This is reflected in the fact that he is perceiving not only external objects, doing so in clear daytime consciousness, but also the laws that are behind them. The soul has begun to experience the inner reconfiguration of things.

During Saturn evolution the human body was at the level of dimmest consciousness. One should not assume, however, that other levels of consciousness did not exist in entities which at that time existed in connection with that early embodiment of the Earth. Above all one entity existing at that time had a form of consciousness equal to the waking daytime consciousness human beings have today. Conditions in the Saturn environment were however very different from those we have on Earth, and this meant that that level of consciousness also had to function in a very different way.

On Earth, the human being has minerals, plants and animals around him as objects for sensory perception. These he considers to be at a lower level, with himself at a higher level than they are. The opposite was the case with that spirit on Saturn. It had three groups of entities above itself and had to consider itself to be the lowest of the entities it was able to perceive. In occult science, those three groups of higher spirits are given different names, depending on the language a people have and the age to which their occult teachers belonged. The terms used in Christian occult science are, going from below upwards: Dominions (Kyriotetes), Mights or Virtues (Dynamis) and Powers (Exusiai).8The terms go back to Dionysius the Areopagite (1st century AD) who is mentioned as a disciple of Paul in Acts 17: 34. Treatises On the Heavenly and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies appeared in Syria in his name in the 5th century; John Scotus The fourth and lowest spirit followed, just as on Earth the human being is the highest entity above the mineral, plant and animal worlds.

Conditions being so very different, the nature of perception also differed. An initiate knows this from experience. For it is like the spiritual consciousness he achieves as his third level, going beyond waking daytime consciousness. There it seems that impressions do not come to the senses from external objects but move towards the senses from inside, flowing into the outside world from them and out there coming upon objects and life forms, to be reflected in them and then appear to the conscious mind in the reflection.

This is how it was for that spirit on Saturn. It let its vital energy flow to the things on the planet, and their reflection came back to it from all sides in infinitely many ways. It perceived its own life as mirror image reflected from all sides. And the things which reflected its nature back to the spirit were the beginnings of the human physical body. For the planet consisted of these. Anything else that was perceived appeared not on the planet but in its surroundings. The spirits called Exusiai (Powers) appeared as shining spirits which illuminated the cosmic body from all sides. Saturn as such was a dark body; it received its light not from dead sources of light but from those spirits which dwelt around it and shone out to give it light. Their light was revealed to the perception of that Saturn spirit just as today an animal body makes itself perceptible to the human being. The spirits called Dynamis (Mights) revealed themselves in a similar way from the outer periphery by resounding in spirit, and the Kyriotetes (Dominions) through something called ‘cosmic aroma’ in occult science, a kind of impression which we may compare with an odour today.

Just as the human being on Earth rises beyond perception of external things to ideas which live only within him, so that spirit on Saturn knew not only the above-mentioned spirits, which revealed themselves to it as if from inside, but also others which it perceived from the outside; in Christian occult science these are known as Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.9Middle English cherubin and seraphin later became cherubim and seraphim. The early plural in -ins later became -im (= Hebrew plural). Cherub and in analogy to it seraph, was introduced by Wyclif. Rudolf Steiner used different spellings, often side by side. Nothing in the compass of earthly human experience can compare with the sublime characteristics in which they showed themselves at that time.

Finally this spirit on Saturn also knew a third group who also dwelt on the planet. They populated the inner part of the planet. This was entirely made up of human bodies at the level which they had reached at the time. To get an idea of these bodies, we may compare them with automatons consisting of the most subtle etheric matter during the periods when they took physical form. They reflected the life of that Saturn spirit; they themselves were wholly lifeless and had no sentience whatsoever. Two kinds of spirits dwelt in them, however, and these developed their own life and capacity for sentience in them. They needed a basis for such development. For they did not have a physical body of their own and yet were made in such a way that they could only develop their higher faculties in a physical body. They therefore made use of the human physical body.

The bodily, soul and spiritual element was thus present on Saturn in a way similar to the one in which it exists on Earth. Only on Earth it makes up the threefold nature of the human being—his body, his soul and his spirit. Each of these is threefold in turn, with the body consisting of physical, ether and sentient body; the soul of sentient soul, rational soul and spiritual soul; the spirit of Spirit Self, life spirit and spirit human being. On Saturn, the bodily, soul and spiritual elements were not parts of one entity but existed as independent entities, the physical bodily part being the first beginnings of the human body and the actual material basis of the planet itself, the ether body being Angel, the sentient body Archangel; the sentient soul was represented by those Saturn spirits I have characterized, the rational soul by the Powers, the spiritual soul by the Mights, the Spirit Self by the Dominions, the life spirit by the Thrones, the spirit human being by the Cherubim, with the Seraphim above them all.

During the time when it was at its physical level, therefore, Saturn had a differentiated body consisting of subtle ether bodies; Angels and Archangels were active in this just as vital and nerve energies are active in the human body today. And where the latter has its sensory instruments on the outside, so Saturn was covered, as it were, with nothing but senses on its surface; these were not receptive, however, but reflective. They mirrored everything which made an impression in the surroundings of the cosmic body. The luminous Powers shone on to the surface of Saturn, and their light was reflected in many ways by that surface. Sound came to Saturn from the Mights and then went out again into space as a manifold echo; finally the aroma of the Dominions radiated to the Saturn surface, which reflected it in many changed ways. The soul life of that spirit on Saturn consisted in the perception of all those reflections.

We can call that spirit the actual spirit of the planet Saturn. For only one of its kind existed, just as in a human being on Earth there may be a rich variety of parts, senses and so on but only one self-awareness. The whole of Saturn was the body of that planetary spirit.

Saturn evolution proceeded in seven cycles in which soul life unfolded. In each of the seven cycles the planet went through the seven forms from formlessness to creative ability.

In the first cycle the Thrones were the soul element that gave direction, in the second cycle the Dominions, in the third the Mights, in the fourth the Powers and in the fifth the planetary spirit of Saturn itself. This did not have full clear consciousness from the beginning of Saturn evolution but only gained it in the fourth cycle. It was also only then that it was actually able to experience events on the planet as a soul. During the fifth cycle it was then able to be active as soul itself. During that cycle the Archangels developed into an inner life of the soul, the contents of which were taken from Saturn events. They were able to do so by using the human bodies which had by that time developed into appropriate instruments for them. This then enabled them to guide events as independently active souls in the sixth cycle. The same was then the case for the Angels in the seventh cycle.

In the fifth cycle the planetary Saturn spirit would have been unable to be active as soul in the way described if it had remained within the Saturn body. The consistency of that body would not permit this. The Saturn spirit therefore had to leave the Saturn body and act on it from the outside. A separation of Saturn into two cosmic bodies thus occurred in this cycle, though one of them, the one which had gone out, must be called Saturn soul. It was, as it were, a prophetic foretelling of the next planetary embodiment—the Sun. In its fifth, sixth and seventh cycles, Saturn was thus orbited by a kind of Sun, just as Earth is today by its Moon.

Something similar had to happen for the Archangels in the sixth cycle. They left the Saturn mass and orbited it as a new planet, known as Jupiter in occult science. In the seventh cycle something similar happened for the Angels. They withdrew their mass from that of Saturn and orbited it as an independent planet. This is called Mars in occult science.

Similar processes had already occurred during preceding Saturn cycles. In the third cycle the Powers guided soul development. In the fourth, they left the planet and orbited it as a bright, independent planet which is called Mercury in occult science. In the third cycle the same situation occurred for the Powers, who became independent as a planet called Venus. In Sun evolution, the human body which had been automatic came alive in itself. This happened because the light which previously shone on to Saturn from the luminous spirits in the periphery was now being taken up into the constituents of the Sun body itself. The Sun became a luminous planet. The perfected human bodies were developing luminous life. Sound now came in from the surroundings and the cosmic aroma was flowing from the spirits connected with aroma.

A transformation had come for the spirit of the planet Saturn. It had multiplied. One had become seven. Just as a seed is one, and there are many seeds in the ear of corn that grows from it, so did seven scions come from the one spirit of the planet Saturn during the transition to the Sun level. And its life also changed. It developed the ability to gain perceptions of a region that was one level lower. This became possible because a number of human bodies had remained behind in their development, staying at the Saturn level. This made them unable to receive the luminous life of the Sun. They became dark spots within the radiant Sun planet. The seven Sun spirits which had evolved from the spirit of the planet Saturn perceived them as a world of nature which was below them. Thus the seven spirits lived on the Sun’s surface; beneath them they beheld a world with entities which had bodies, only these were one level lower than the human bodies on Sun. The latter, however, gave them the nourishment they needed through the light they radiated. Where the Saturn bodies had only been reflecting the Saturn spirit’s own essential nature back to it, the Sun bodies held the position relative to the Sun spirits which today the Sun with its light holds for the plant world. With regard to bodily organization the human being was at the level of plant nature during Sun evolution. It would not be right to say that he actually went through the plant stage himself at that time. For the kind of plant world we have today could only develop under the specific conditions which we have on Earth. To use an analogy we may think of the Sun human body as a plant form which was turning organs towards its own planet that were similar to those which plants today develop as their flower. And just as today’s plant receives its light from an outside sun, so did the human Sun plant receive its light from its own planet, which, of course, was Sun. Today a plant puts its root down into the soil; on the Sun body this aspect was turned towards the sounds and odours that were coming in; the human being took these in and processed them inwardly. We might call today’s plant a human body which has remained at the Sun level and turned round completely. It is therefore chastely extending its organs of growth and reproduction upwards to the Sun, whilst the human being today hides them and lets them face downwards.

The human body only developed fully in this way during the fourth Sun cycle. The three preceding cycles had been preparatory. The first cycle was really only a recapitulation of Saturn existence. Its seven form levels were seven recapitulations of the levels of life on Saturn. It was only during the second Sun cycle that life flashed up in the human body. This life was not yet so fully developed that the Archangels which on Sun took the place which the planetary spirit had held on Saturn, were able to take satisfaction in it. It was rather the Powers which now sucked the energy which can flow from this life; during the third cycle the seven spirits developed from the Saturn spirit took that place; and during the fourth Sun cycle the Archangels lived in the life of the Earth bodies the way the planetary spirit had been mirrored in the bodies on Saturn. During the fifth Sun cycle the Archangels rose to a higher level of existence, and the Angels took their place on the planet. During the sixth Sun cycle the Angels, too, had developed to a level where they no longer needed the physical parts of the human body; all they still used for their own purposes was the light streaming out and in, and in this they then lived. The human physical body had become an independent entity, a model for the present-day human physical body. It behaved entirely like a physical apparatus at this level; except that it was an apparatus the parts of which were living. It was, as it were, a living instrument for the senses, though it did not take their perceptions into itself, not having the necessary degree of consciousness for this. The body was in a plant-like sleep, as it were, and that was its highest level of consciousness. Any sensory perceptions composed in it went into the consciousness of the Angels, Archangels and so on, depending on the sequence of the different Sun cycles. Those higher spirits were keeping watch over the sleeping human body.

What were the causes, the influences under which Sun evolved from Saturn? We perceive them if we take a look at the final states in Saturn evolution. Let us assume the seventh cycle had reached the fourth form level, which would be the physical one. The human body had developed so far that it was able to serve the Angels as the sense organs which mirror their essential nature for them. These have a kind of human consciousness at this level, though only by using the senses of the human body. They successively developed the higher levels of conscious awareness. The moment the Angels, too, developed to such higher forms of conscious awareness they could no longer use the human body. They therefore left it. It had to die. This meant, however, that that physical Saturn body disintegrated before the physiognomic form of the seventh cycle developed. This physiognomic level was therefore not the least bit physical any more. The planet existed only as a soul planet then. The physical form went down into the abyss. In the soul planet the Angels lived in an image consciousness that was beyond the physical. And the higher spirits were working on it with correspondingly higher forms of consciousness. At the point in time where the Angels, too, had grown beyond image consciousness, the soul planet also had to disintegrate. Its place was taken by another, where the configuring form was developed. It only floated in the world in which an earthly initiate is when he has entered into higher consciousness connected with sound. For the same reasons another planet evolved from this one at the end of the seventh Saturn cycle and this belonged to a yet higher world. The creative form of existence had been brought to realization in this.

It has been shown that as the higher spirits rose to corresponding forms of conscious awareness, satellites of Saturn always separated off and these had to float in higher worlds, for the main form of Saturn was unable to accommodate such forms of conscious awareness. Then, however, Saturn itself rose to such higher worlds. The consequence was that each time it arrived in such a higher world it would unite with whichever satellite was in that world. By the end of the seventh Saturn cycle, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury and Sun had therefore reunited with Saturn. All was one world again.

In that one world, the creative form of Saturn’s vital energy existed. Through it, the world, which had become spiritual in the way shown, was taken down again to the lower levels of existence. This was what happened as the Sun evolved. In the course of its cycles the planets that had originally developed on Saturn emerged again. Each was now, however, closer by one degree to physical existence.

If a human observer gifted with senses in their present form were able to follow the evolution of the planet I have described, he would see the cosmic body emerge from the darkness at certain times, disappearing again from the sight of such an observer for long intervals. During these, it would only be perceptible to an observer whose consciousness was able to be present in higher worlds. Distinction is thus made between twilight or night-time states of planetary existence in physical terms. Do not think, however, that the planet and its spirits grow inactive during those intervals. It merely falls into higher worlds then and thus comes to expression in an existence which is much more real than mere physical existence.


When Sun had completed its seven cycles, a time came when the human body had developed so far that it was not only able to receive the incoming light into itself and be enlivened by it, but gained the ability to let the world of sound created from the Mights continue to influence it and also to reproduce it in sounds. At this level of existence, which is called Moon evolution, the human body itself produced sounds. At the Saturn level, a sound reflected to the surrounding world by the planet was merely an echo of its surroundings; now the sound had changed as it went out into those surroundings. It had changed to such effect that it reflected in a wide variety of ways what was happening in human bodies. These human bodies had thus made the sentient body fully part of their essential nature as a third body. For it was their inner nature, their world of feelings, which was expressed in sound.

The seven spirits which had evolved out of the Saturn spirit during Sun evolution had now become seven times seven. The world surrounding them had become such that they had living experience of their own world of feeling in the sentient bodies which had developed. They then felt themselves surrounded by two worlds which were at a lower level and one which was above them. The world above them made itself felt as cosmic aroma coming from cosmic space; they experienced themselves as entities giving sound, and the two realms which were at a lower level had arisen because a region of human bodies had remained at the Saturn level and another at the Sun level. These Moon spirits were thus surrounded by entities that were like automatons and were continuing their Saturn maturation on Moon under conditions which were very different from those which existed on Saturn, and also by plant-like Sun bodies which were in a similar position.

Three kinds of entities were thus present in the actual Moon mass. The entities which were like automatons, dark in themselves, had still retained the ability from Saturn to let life shine out around them. They were not lifeless the way today’s minerals are. There was no mineral basis on Moon like the one we have on Earth. Instead there was a basis consisting of those entities. You can get an idea of them if you think of them endowed with a life that is present in every part of them, so that the mineral soil of our fields would have been a living, porridge-like mass on Moon; woody parts in this mass were like the rock masses found in softer mineral matter here on Earth. In this living basis, the parts of which may be called vegetable minerals, the Sun entities I have characterized who were at a level between present-day animals and present-day plants, had taken root. The freely moving entities dwelling on Moon were the human bodies, developmentally halfway between animal and human. They provided dwelling places for the scions of the planetary spirit of Saturn. This spirit would not have been able, however, to develop waking daytime consciousness in them. The entities always had to go out of the body to live in such a consciousness. When in the body and therefore sharing its life, they only had a consciousness filled with dream images. In this state of consciousness they would not see anything of their physical surroundings, but they let their inner experiences go out into the surrounding world in sound. The passions and desires of the Moon entities were then coming alive as sound during their sleep.

To consider just one example of this living experience, it should be noted that what we call our love life today, which is the basis of procreation, happened during dream-filled sleep on Moon. Waking daytime life was free from desire and, it has to be said, also loveless, given wholly to vision of the surrounding world. The human ancestor on Moon knew nothing of sexual relationships as yet in his daytime life. The place of the feelings people have in sexual love today was taken by dream images which only showed today’s factual reality in allegorical form.

On Moon, therefore, it was not the human ancestor who lived in the world of images when awake but the spirits who came immediately above human beings—the Angels. The dream world of the human being was clear daytime reality to them, as it were. They watched over the dreaming human world just as the Archangels had been watching over the Sun world when it was in plant-like sleep.

The first two Moon cycles were recapitulations of the preceding states of evolution. The seven forms of the first cycle recapitulated the seven Saturn cycles, and the seven forms of the second the seven Sun cycles.

During the third Moon cycle the human body had developed so far that the spirits which were at the Archangel level were able to experience its dream images as their environment; in the fourth cycle this was then the case for the Angels. The scions of the spirit of the planet Saturn were able to use the human body during this cycle to such a degree that enveloping it from outside they were able to use it to gain clear daytime consciousness. By the fifth cycle these spirits had risen to a level where they no longer had need of the physical human body; this then perceived its environs for itself but only reached a lower level of consciousness for these perceptions. Those spirits only had need of the ether body and the sentient body during this time. In the sixth cycle they also left the ether body to itself and in the seventh the sentient body.

The Moon was a re-embodiment of the Sun planet. At the time when the stage of Sun evolution was recapitulated on Moon, that is, in the second cycle, the Sun body separated from the Moon mass. This separate Sun body was inhabited by the spirits which had assumed a level of consciousness and of life, the conditions for which could not be found on the Moon itself. During the second cycle these spirits were the Powers; they had shared the life of the physical human body during Sun life. Now, on Moon, this Sun level had a limited, retarded existence in the above-mentioned animal-plants. The Powers could not live in them. Instead they gave those animal-plants life from outside by sending the light they needed to them from the Sun. During the third Moon cycle the scions of the Spirit of the planet Saturn had also reached a level where they could no longer exist on Moon. The Archangels therefore left the Moon in the fourth cycle, and in this space of time this was also the dwelling place of the Angels, as the Earth was later to be in its fourth cycle for human beings.

The other planets had emerged step by step during Sun evolution and did the same now during Moon evolution. Only they were closer to physical existence by another level now, when the Moon was at the height of its evolution, that is from the physical form of its fourth cycle onwards. With the fifth cycle, Mars, then inhabited by the Angels, reached a subtle, etheric and physical form; with the sixth cycle this happened for Jupiter, dwelling place of the Archangels. Finally in the seventh Moon cycle the same also happened for Mercury. Mars and Jupiter had grown even denser by then, the density of the former being such that it became possible to develop heat by moving its constituents and letting it flow out into cosmic space.


Earth evolution received the fruits that had ripened on Moon. The human body had by then gone through three levels of evolution. At the first it was able to be like a physical instrument that served as an organ of perception for spirits which had advanced so far at Sun level that they could dispense with any such apparatus. They were spirits already able to dedicate their work as creators to the Sun planet from outside. The spirits of the planet Saturn had had their bodily organization not in the Sun planet but in the creative powers that maintained Sun life.

On Moon, the Archangels had become the creative powers. The Angels of the Moon, which had clear daytime consciousness at the time, were able to look up to their creators and admire their bodily organization.

These three levels of planetary evolution were first of all recapitulated in the first three Earth cycles. This was to prepare the human body so that it could gain living experience in itself of the images which had evolved during Moon consciousness. It had to grow able to have not only a life and an image body in itself but also to reflect the surrounding world inwardly in its images. On the Moon it had come so far that the Angels were able to behold its images. The human Moon body was the world surrounding the Angels. And they had also advanced themselves in beholding the Moon human being; they had won through to a point where they were able to do at a higher level what they had been perceiving on the Moon. Apart from the two worlds which were below them, they also had spirits who were their equal around them. When Moon evolution had come to an end, they were able to impress the nature of those spirits into the human body. Earthly human beings were then able to see in their physical environment, whilst they dwelt in their bodies, what the Angels had only been able to behold on Moon when they rose to a higher world—those of their own kind.

The human body could only be guided upwards to this ability in stages. And this happened during the three Earth cycles. In the first, the human being was able to perceive himself as he had been on Saturn, in the second as on Sun, in the third as on Moon. During the first Earth cycle other human beings were nothing but walking automatons to him; during the second they appeared as plant-like entities; during the third they had animal character.

When the fourth cycle began, the human being was able to perceive the creations of the Angels, of his own kind, around himself. The Angels were three levels of consciousness above him. They were able to create what he perceived.

The human body now had four parts—the physical [body] which became a mirror for the surrounding world, the living [body] which was able to transform things perceived in the surrounding world into inner movement, the image body which was able to transform the inner movements and give them the character of allegories, and finally the body which became the bearer of clear daytime consciousness. This harmonized the inner images with the impressions gained of the surrounding world and thus made the connection between inner experience and the events outside.

Clear daytime consciousness was, however, limited to the physical outside world; vital processes and the images of the image body were inwardly enlivened but not perceived as outside world. The human image body remained the object of the Angels, at the next higher level, and the human life body actually that of the Archangels. All things connected with the human life body, the laws governing its growth and reproduction, were thus hidden from the human being; with regard to them his conscious awareness was at the level of dreamless sleep. For the Archangels, on the other hand, these processes were objects in their outside world on which they acted, which was like the situation a human being faces with regard to working on a physical machine. Everything connected with image consciousness, the laws which are more of a mystery to the human being, giving a particular character and mien to his countenance, specific form to his walk, and so on; everything which came to expression in his character, temperament and so on, was thus governed by the Angels. Only the things he brought about in his outer environment were subject to his own laws.

The human being developed into an entity which we may characterize like this in the fourth Earth cycle.

The Angels, having developed to creative consciousness at the Moon level, were no longer able to find a place for themselves on Earth when the image body began to belong to the human being himself, that is, from the time when the second cycle had passed its midpoint. They then withdrew to a higher community with new conditions of life; the Sun again separated from the Earth and from then on sent its powers to it from the outside.

In the third Earth cycle, the human bodies which had not reached the point in the second cycle where they could have their image body cared for by the powers gathered on the Sun had to fall into a lower form of existence. They went down from the animal and human to the purely animal level. Where could they now find the powers needed for their image body? They were not open to the Sun powers of the perfected Angels. Entities do, however, lag behind in their development at every level. Up to the third cycle, Angels had fallen behind in their evolution which were then unable to find a place on the Sun. During the second half of the third Earth cycle they were not yet able to find the capacity to ascend to the Sun. Yet they also were not able to continue to influence the image bodies of human beings who were advancing in perfection. They therefore withdrew from the Earth mass to become our present-day Moon. This is therefore a cosmic body representing an earlier part of Earth evolution in something of a hardened state. It is the dwelling place of spirits who did not want to be creators of the perfect human body. We find them active in the image bodies of animals; yet they do all the time also direct their attacks against the image body of the human being—though this is a region that has grown beyond them. As soon as the human being deviates just a little from being dedicated to his higher nature, which comes to him through impressions gained through the senses, as soon as he becomes subject to powers that influence his image body, those spirits will be able to influence him. Their activities are evident in dissolute dreams which reflect the animal desires that come from lower human nature.

When the third Earth cycle had passed its midpoint, the Earth having grown physical for the third time, conditions did not exist for a form of the physical human body that was able to take in perceptions from the outside. The physical died off. The result is that the laggard Angels’ sin of omission was no longer felt to be so painful by the entities that had ascended into Sun existence. The Moon was therefore incorporated into the Earth’s body again. When the whole Earth had gone beyond image existence and into a higher world as the cycle continued, it also united with the Sun again. The powers in the human body which in the third cycle were only able to see the image-enlivened body in the surrounding world then gained creative ability. This enabled them to enter into the fourth cycle. There they were initially still in the world which is only perceptible to spiritual awareness, but were descending to progressively lower worlds in stages. Finally the human body had developed so far that it was able to develop organs for the perception of others of his own kind; these had a subtle etheric form. The physical body thus gained the abilities for its earthly form. This was also the time when Earth could no longer be the arena for the perfected Angels; the Sun separated from the Earth with them and shone on it from outside. The physical body continued to develop. The images of the image body developed a liveliness they did not have before; the organs of the physical body provided nourishment for them in the reflected images of external objects. The time had come when the outer Earth environment was taking these images away from the Angels that had lagged behind. These then had to draw the part of the Earth that would be their dwelling place out of the Earth. The Moon once more separated from the Earth, orbiting it as a satellite.

How far had the human body come by this time? It had developed its fourfold nature. Its organization was such that it could support an ether or life body and give a home to an image body. Its sense organs also allowed the earthly surroundings to be reflected in those images. The human physical body had therefore reached a completely new level. It reflected inwards, just as on Saturn it reflected the essential nature of the Spirit of the planet Saturn to the outside. Because of this, the part of that spirit which was then its lowest principle was now able to live in it. This principle had become tied off from the spirit of the planet Saturn; it had lost the ability to receive the revelations of the upper realms and becomes the vehicle for human self awareness. The human being learned to see himself as an ‘I’. From now on he had the nature in which the planetary spirit on Saturn had revealed like an outer environment of the planet.

The human being had thus reached a level where the Archangels revealed themselves in his ether body, the Angels in his image body, and the planetary Saturn spirit in his self awareness. He was then able to advance to the level where the Saturn spirit in him would be able to relate to the image body in a way similar to the way the Saturn spirit itself did when it gradually grew out of its own planetary existence and became an inhabitant of Jupiter. The human being continued to inhabit the Earth, however, and because of this such powers could only influence him from outside. It means that the Earth came into the sphere of influence of Jupiter powers. A similar process occurred at a later level with regard to spirits which were then at a level where they only influenced the ether body from outside, from Mars.

When Sun, Earth and Moon were still one body, the human body was made of a material on that planet which was like air. Apart from human bodies, only the descendants of the human-animals from Moon were present in bodies which were in a fluid state. The descendants of the Moon creatures which had lived there as plant-minerals had reached the solid state. Apart from the liquid human-animals, there were also animal plant-like creatures [at that time] which had evolved from the lunar plant-animals. Yet whilst the former were more watery in appearance, the animal-plant-like creatures consisted of a dense porridge-like mass which when it grew more substantial came close to the material of which mushrooms are made today.

When the Sun withdrew its substance from the Earth, so that the latter had only the Moon mass in it, all conditions changed on the planet. The material of which human bodies were made condensed to become a liquid form of matter which may be compared to our blood today. Creatures which before had been liquid became solid, and the solid plant-minerals had a very dense consistency. Before the Sun separated, the life of the human body consisted essentially in a kind of breathing, taking in and giving off air-like matter. After the separation a form of nutrition evolved out of the liquid surroundings. And reproduction was also connected with this nutrition. The viscid human body was impregnated out of the reproductive material in its surroundings and divided under the influence of that impregnation. Whilst the Moon substance was still within the Earth, the development of the body was such that semi-solid parts developed in the liquid mass, gaining cartilage-like density. It was not yet able to develop solid, bone-like limb inclusions, for the Earth mass was not suitable for this for as long as it still had the Moon in it. It was only when the Moon departed, with the most substantial form of matter removed, that the beginnings of solid skeletal structures developed in the human being.

This was also the time when it became no longer possible to take impregnation material from the surroundings. With the departure of the Moon mass, Earth substances had also lost the ability to impregnate the human body. In the time that had gone before, the human body did not have two genders. The human being was female by nature, with the male principle present in its earthly surroundings. The whole Moon Earth was male in character. When the Moon departed, some of the human bodies changed into bodies of male character. They thus took the impregnating powers into themselves which before had been present in the sap of Earth itself, as it were. The female nature of the human body underwent a transformation which made it possible for the male, which had now arisen, to impregnate it.

All this happened because a form of double-sexed human body changed to become single-sexed. The earlier human body had impregnated itself with substances it took in. Now the one kind of human body, the female one, only had power to let the impregnated principle ripen. The way this happened was that the male power in this body lost the ability to prepare impregnating substances. This power remained only for the ether or life body, which had to effect the ripening process. The male kind of human body lost the potential of doing something with the impregnating material inside itself. Its female principle was limited to the ether body. This is why in present-day human beings the situation is such that in males the ether body is female, whilst in females it is male.10See Steiner’s autobiography (GA 28), chapter 37. A solid bony skeleton developed at the same time.

Another important process came first, however. When the human body changed from airy to liquid consistency, the first beginnings of an organ started to develop which would take in airy matter. This was the beginning of respiration as a separate process. At the time, substances which would later separate out from the general mass and be liquid and solid were still airy, they were part of the air. And when the liquid form of matter began to develop, the human body was not living on solid ground but in a fluid element. Its locomotion was a swimming kind of floating. And the air which was above the fluid element was much denser then. It contained not only everything which later came to be water, but many other substances were dissolved in it. The whole human breathing apparatus was therefore also different.

Before the Sun departed, the function of the whole breathing process was still different. It was to receive and give off heat from and into the environment. We may say that the warmth which human beings still prepare in themselves with their blood circulation was at that time inhaled and exhaled from and into the environment. Once the Sun had departed the process changed so that air will only produce warmth through its activity in the body after it has been inhaled. By breathing air the way it does today, the human body came to generate warmth internally.

This major change in the human body was connected with a cosmic event which in occult terms is called the withdrawal of Mars from the Earth. Mars is the planet which before that withdrawal had with the powers inherent in it brought about the process in the human body that was later taken over by the blood circulation. With the blood taking over the Mars activity in this way, the spirits concerned were able to go outside the Earth, and the influence of Mars on the human being was then such that it influenced him from outside. The way it happened physically was that iron became an important constituent of the blood; iron is the form of matter on which Mars powers have a specific influence. Respiration as it is today thus has to do with the withdrawal of Mars. All this gave the human being something which we may call the inner power of the blood. Ensoulment had become possible. The human being did indeed breathe in his soul when he breathed air.

For as long as Earth was connected with Sun, it was the Sun’s power which regulated the other influences in the human body. In the Sun’s power lay the principle which acted as male and at the same time female principle in the human body. Under its influence, law and order also came into the Mars process of taking in and giving off of heat. When the Sun had departed some human bodies changed and became infertile. These were the precursors of future male bodies. For as long as Moon powers were still connected with the Earth, the rest were still capable of self-fertilization. They lost this when the Moon departed. From then on the Sun took effect, with the spirits that dwelt on it influencing the capacity for reproduction. The male’s ether body came under the influence of these Sun spirits. The female’s ether body, being male, retained its relationship to the spirits who had made the Moon their arena. The female physical body was correspondingly under the influence of the Sun powers. It had developed the form it now had when the Sun was already shining on the Earth from outside. The male physical body on the other hand came under the Moon influence because under the influence of that planet when it was still united with the Earth it had assumed a form which with regard to reproduction was infertile. While all this was going on, the senses also developed, bringing the sentient body’s image world under the influence of the earthly environment and thus the human being under the influence of the scions of the planetary body of Saturn. The pulsating power of the blood also evolved in the body, this led to ensoulment and made it possible, with sensory perceptions available, to develop an inner life and sympathy and antipathy towards the surrounding world.

The human being had reached this level when the Earth emerged as an independent physical planet in its fourth cycle, having separated from sun, moon and mars.

By that time human beings had achieved the division into two sexes. They looked into the surrounding world through the senses. They knew sympathy and antipathy with regard to their surroundings. And by distinguishing themselves from those surroundings they were endowed with the beginnings of self awareness. The human body had become fourfold. And inwardness of soul had arisen in the fourth principle of that body through the blood, for this allowed mars powers to come in.

Human beings had thus developed everything they were able to have as the fruits of the first three levels of planetary evolution. A fourth principle had arisen in their bodies because other influences, which could not play a role in its development, had withdrawn from the Earth.

In occult terms this humanity is called the third main race on Earth.11The Lemurian age. Concerning the term ‘race’, Rudolf Steiner wrote in essays published in 1904 - 1908 (in GA 11, see Cosmic Memory. Atlantis and Lemuria; Tr. K. E. Zimmer; New York: Rudolf Steiner publications 1971), chapter on the life of the earth: ‘We have to be utterly clear about it that the evolutional forms of the far distant past and those of the future are completely different from those of the present time, so much so that the terms we use at present may only serve as emergency solution and really lose all meaning when it comes to those distant ages. Basically we can only begin to speak of ‘races’ when evolution had more or less reached its second third in the third main state (Lemurian). Only then did the principle we call ‘race’ today begin to develop. ... Yet very soon now, at the end of our fifth age, the word ‘race’ will lose all meaning again. Humanity will in future be differentiated into groupings we will no longer be able to call ‘races’. The usual theosophical literature has caused a great deal of confusion in this respect.’ See also lecture given in Berlin on 9 November 1905 (in German) in Die Weltraetsel und die Anthroposophie (GA 54). We can really only speak of races developing from this time onwards. For it was only then that human reproduction existed and hence also differences within humanity brought about by human beings influencing one another. The principle we may call heredity or blood relationship developed. The Earth as the fourth planetary form of evolution did not yet have an influence. Perceptions of the surrounding world had first taken hold of the images in the sentient body. The ether body was not yet under the influence of the earthly surroundings. The fourth planet did not yet influence hereditary conditions. Only the first three did so. This is why the race where this was the case is called the ‘third’.

It was followed by the fourth, and here the earthly environment began to influence the ether body itself. This could only happen if spirits were able to influence the human being whose evolution was at a level where they did not have the creative ability to influence the ether body to the effect of impregnating it, yet had nevertheless gone beyond merely receiving impressions from the perception of the physical surroundings. These were spirits who had not advanced to creative ability on the Moon, that is, during the Earth’s previous embodiment, which would have enabled them to populate the Sun; yet they had gone beyond the level where inner life depended wholly on the images of the human body. Within Earth evolution they do have the ability to perceive things through the human being’s senses, but not the ability to create those senses. There these spirits can ... the human being ... [manuscript ends here]