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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Christian Mystery
GA 97

XXVII. The Inner Earth

21 April 1906, Munich

Thinking of the tremendous natural events we have heard of—the eruption of Vesuvius and the earthquake in America,199In April 1906, the cone at the summit of Vesuvius collapsed. Vapour pressure caused the material, about 100 million cubic metres, to be ejected, with masses of ashes raining down on the surrounding area for days, darkening the skies. Together with the lava flow they caused emormous damage. More than 100 people lost their lives.
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906, with the fires tliat followed, destroyed almost the whole of the city.
it is only to be expected that those who study the science of the spirit ask if there is any connection between the process of cosmic evolution on the one hand and human karma on the other. And it is indeed enormously interesting to investigate and explain these recent events from the occult point of view. To be able to do so, the occultist must not only be schooled in clairvoyance in the usual way, but have gone through initiation in the second degree. It is a known fact in occult circles that the inner earth does not reveal itself to someone with ordinary clairvoyance. It is relatively easy to have clairvoyant awareness at the astral, devachanic level. But it needs another kind of initiation to be able to explore the inner earth.

Let me first of all remind you that present-day people have only managed to penetrate the outer shell of the earth to a very small depth. They have gone scarcely beyond a depth of 2,000 metres. Everything else, everything beyond this, is beyond their limits of penetration. And they would really be utterly surprised, perhaps even confused, if they did succeed in learning more about the deeper layers of this our earth. They would be confused because they would find things there that show only the faintest similarity to those we know on the earth's surface. They would not have words to describe most of them, for the states of matter inside the earth are indeed utterly different from anything we know up here. They would be utterly amazed to find that the metal which corresponds to our silver is liquid like mercury down there. And the same holds true for the other metals and the minerals.

The earth consists of seven distinct layers, and an exploration of those seven layers corresponds to the seven stages of Christian initiation.200See the lecture given in Köln (Cologne) on 30 November 1906 (in this volume), and the lecture given on 3 September 1906 in Stuttgart (in At the Gates of Spiritual Science (GA 95). Tr. E. Goddard, C. Davy, London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1986). They are 1) the washing of the feet, 2) the scourging, 3) the crowning with thorns, 4) the crucifixion, 5) the mystic death on the cross, 6) the entombment, and 7) the resurrection.

Someone who had passed the first stage of initiation would thus be able to penetrate the outermost layer clairvoyantly and proceed to explore the second, and so on.

In the first place, then, the earth has seven layers. The outermost, on which we live, is called the mineral earth in the language of initiates. This and the other terms I shall give come from a great occult school. The same terms were used by medieval mystics, Rosicrucians, and others.

This mineral earth contains all the minerals we are familiar with. Relatively speaking, it is an extremely thin and delicate layer. Volcanic eruptions bear witness that deeper layers are able to penetrate it.

The mineral earth is followed by what is known as the ‘soft’ earth. It is given that name because here the hardening process has not gone as far as it has in the mineral earth. It also has a quite remarkable property. It has a kind of sentience. It produces symptoms of sentient responses on being touched that are like the dim conscious awareness of some plant species.

The next layer is called the ‘steam’ earth. Just as steam is produced in a boiler, so does this layer come to a form of will-like expression. It is capable of enormous expansion, and the mineral layer is only able to contain it with some effort.

The fourth layer is called the ‘form’ or also the ‘water’ earth. Its special feature is that it has the negative of every form we know of in the mineral layer. Thus a rock crystal would there have the form of its negative, like a plaster cast up here.

The fifth layer is called the ‘fruit’ earth. If it were able to get out into the atmosphere, we would observe form upon form arising from such a piece of fruit earth and disappearing again. It has soul, as it were, the capacities of a soul struggling to gain shape and form.

The sixth layer is the ‘fire’ earth, a most remarkable layer, as we shall see. It is able to feel pleasure and pain, as it were, and is more or less in the condition of a human being who is ‘over the moon’ one moment and ‘down in the dumps’ the next. Human passions have a tremendous effect on it, and as human passions grow, so it gets more and more restless.

The seventh layer is called the ‘earth mirror’, exactly because everything that happens on the outermost layer is reflected here. You have to think of it happening in a different way however. Everything that is passive here is active there and vice versa. So if you were to strike some metal here to make it ring, the metal would ring of its own accord down there.

These seven layers are followed by two others which are of a very peculiar nature. In the School of Pythagoras the eighth layer was called the sphere of numbers because of a particular aspect we shall consider in a moment. Our occult schools call it the shatterer. For if we were to hold a flower against it, trying, as it were, to look at this layer through the flower, we would see the rose multiplied an infinite number of times. If we were to do the same experiment with a stone, there would be no multiplication. It only applies to natural life forms and to things created with artistic feeling. This region is the seat of all that lacks harmony, morals and peace. There everything rushes apart. It is the opposite of love. If a black magician were to succeed in reaching it—and he does have the power to do so—the evil in him would grow tremendously more powerful. It is the particular moral attitude of human beings that has an enormous influence on this level. If humanity gradually succeeds more and more in getting rid of immorality, letting morality take its place, this zone will gradually calm down more and more. And this will in its turn influence the attitudes of human beings.

The ninth and final layer is the dwelling place, as it were, of the spirit of our planet. It has two peculiar features. We might compare it with a human being, for it has an organ resembling a brain. Another organ is similar to a heart. The spirit of our planet is also subject to changes closely connected with human evolution.

Let us now go back to the fire earth. As I said, it has the capacity to feel pleasure and pain, and living people's passions have a powerful influence on it, so that it gets into an even greater state of restlessness and upheaval at times when human beings develop great passions. It then exerts even greater pressure on the fruit earth lying above it. And channels do indeed branch out from this layer to all the layers above it. The mineral earth contains great cavities, though these are at considerable depth. The channels from the fruit earth run to those cavities and force tremendous masses of material into them. These on their part cause earthquakes or seek a way out through the vent of a volcano. Such have also been the causes of those recent disasters.

The Lemurians, the third great root race, still lived on a soft earth. The hardening process in the outer crust had not yet progressed very far and there were just a few harder areas that floated in this soft layer more or less like islands. The last remnants and witness to, that soft earth are the many small islands in the Pacific which rise suddenly above the surface of the ocean and disappear again after a time. The Lemurians, who developed tremendous passions, had such an influence on the fire earth as their evolution progressed and they indulged in their vices, that the fire earth grew rebellious, as it were, came up to the surface with tremendous power and destroyed the race.

We see, therefore, that the Lemurians brought about their own perdition. Realizing this, the occultist reflects that by working on his own perfection he may not only accelerate the process of evolution for his time but also have a considerable influence on earth evolution. This should arouse a feeling of responsibility in both respects, spurring him on to do further work on himself.

Let us now consider two highly important occult facts that are connected with these natural events. On the one hand let us envisage the karma of the people who perished in those disasters. It is only natural for people to wonder about the tremendous karma coming upon countless individuals on such occasions. I can tell you, however, that occult observation has shown these individuals to be the best of spiritualists in their next incarnation. Their violent death came as the final shock, as it were, to strip off the bonds of materialism once and for all.

Another occult observation is that all people born at the time when such an eruption takes place will be materialists in life. This is quite understandable. The disquieting element of the fire earth is influencing them at a time when they seek to reincarnate with all might and gives them materialistic qualities. It does not matter if a soul is born here or in America, for example. Separation in space is without cause in this zone. Many of the readers and writers of materialistic works were born around the year 1822 when Vesuvius erupted again after a long period of quiescence. The fact that Vesuvius remained quiescent for centuries indicates the spiritual nature of the Middle Ages. Since then eruptions have come at relatively short intervals. Evolution has accelerated altogether now. The period from Charlemagne to Frederic the Great corresponds to the period of the 19th century, meaning that all events during the longer period correspond in number and significance to those that now happen within a century. Evolution will go even faster as time goes on.