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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Rosicrucian Esotericism
GA 109

7. Evolutionary Stages of our Earth before the Lemurian Epoch

Budapest, June 9, 1909

The lecture yesterday brought our study of the evolution of our planet to the stage known as Old Moon. We heard that the first embodiment of our planet was that of Old Saturn, the second that of Old Sun and the third that of Old Moon. We came to the point in yesterday's lecture where it was made clear that if everything had progressed exactly as hitherto, man would not have been able to keep pace with the tempo of the cosmic evolution of other beings. Hence a kind of severance took place at a certain point during the Old Moon embodiment. The Sun, progressing as it was within the cosmic expanse, separated from the planetary body together with the finest substances and higher beings. The less progressed part of the planetary body, namely, Old Moon itself, still containing all that constitutes our present earth and present moon, remained as a kind of cloud-body. Certain conditions brought about a densification or hardening on Old Moon and the same happened to the beings inhabiting it.

When the Sun had separated, its forces worked upon Old Moon from outside. The subsequent human-animal-plant kingdom that came into existence on Old Moon now received the forces of the Sun from outside. After the separation, the three kingdoms on Old Moon came into existence. As yet there was no mineral kingdom but what took shape, after the hardening process, as the lowest kingdom was a kind of mineral-plant kingdom—mineral substance that was plantlike in character, or, if you prefer, plant substance that was mineral in character. This formed the ground of Old Moon; it was a kind of semi-solid, semi-fluid foundation. On the earth today we walk about on a mineral ground, on Old Moon it was semi-solid, semi-fluid ground, a kind of plant-mineral soil. Think of a mass of spongy, plantlike substance on which human beings walked. This was the character of the lowest kingdom on Old Moon, a kingdom that was at the same time half-living. The ground of our earth today has become comparatively static; volcanic activity is the only reminder of a certain inner life. On Old Moon there were no such conditions. We may perhaps speak later on about what an occultist has to say on the subject of earthquakes and volcanic activity. Just as organs in a plant grow and subsequently die, so did this half-living substance on Old Moon. The Old Moon was like a great organism, living and mobile, on which the beings living might have felt like parasites of today. These Old Moon plants were composed of mineral substance, had life in them and were mobile; they were plant-mineral in character. Nothing would have been found resembling our rocks of today; instead, there were horny or woody formations. In the environment of Old Moon, like a kind of atmosphere, were a few cloud-masses composed of a half-watery, half-living substance in which the beings of the next kingdom, half animal, half plant in character, were embedded. If you were to crush a tree, causing something akin to the feeling experienced by an animal, that would be remotely comparable with what was experienced by this animal-plant kingdom, which could not exist as such on the earth today.

As has often been said, not only are there pupils in school who make no progress but in the whole process of evolution there are always beings who remain at a standstill and who, together with the forms that belong to them and express what they are, become retarded. Thus, on the earth itself there were still certain moon beings who were not sufficiently advanced to keep abreast of evolution on the earth. These beings were obliged to create in their outer expressions the condition that had been essential to their life on Old Moon. As you know, plants on Old Moon were not rooted in mineral soil as they are today but in the half-living ground of the planet. Mistletoe, for example, is a descendant, a straggler, of an Old Moon form; it is obliged to take root in plant-soil. In folk myths there are many indications of this, for example, in the legend of Baldur and Loki. The latter is a being belonging to Old Moon, whereas Baldur is a being inwardly connected with earth and sun evolution. To interpret a legend or myth it is necessary to know in which sphere of occult investigation the connections can be discovered. External science could be so enriched by the fruits of clairvoyance that it would recognize in a legend much more than folk fantasy. Spiritual science must teach one to investigate with the whole soul instead of with the intellect only.

There was still a third kingdom on Old Moon, between the animal and human kingdoms; it was the animal-human kingdom. The forms of those animal-men were quite different from what is pictured by materialistic science today. They were animal-men although certain important members of their constitution were not yet actually within them. While he is asleep today, man's physical and etheric bodies remain in the bed and his astral body is outside. Fundamentally speaking, during sleep he is therefore in the physical world with only the lesser half of his constitution. Man's physical and etheric bodies belong to an earlier, cosmic stage of consciousness. Clairvoyant vision reveals this condition to have been permanent on Old Moon. The astral body then was never entirely within the physical and etheric bodies but was nevertheless connected more fundamentally and definitely with the human being than is the case during sleep today. The head of the man of Old Moon was not self-enclosed as is the case today. A residue of what the organs in the head were at that time is the place at the top of a baby's head that stays soft and open for a long time. On Old Moon the head of the human being was still open. Were you to draw a line vertically downward from this soft area, you would meet the pineal gland. Today it is stunted and withered but it was an important organ during the Old Moon embodiment. It was a kind of sense organ that connected man's physical and etheric bodies with his astral body. Through this organ, which was a delicate, luminous body, man's astral body radiated into the other bodies. His consciousness was neither that of sleep nor of waking life. He did not perceive outer objects. His consciousness might be compared with that of the dream to-day. The pineal gland at that time was a kind of warmth organ, emitting powerful, luminous rays of warmth. When on Old Moon man was moving about, the function of this organ was to show him the direction he must take. Man's perception on Old Moon consisted in something like a dream picture rising up within him. There was as yet no seeing or perceiving objects but man felt an inner up-and-down surge of living pictures of which the dream pictures of today are only a feeble shadow. Everything a man set out to do on Old Moon, how he searched for his food and so forth, was always activated by these pictures that were connected with the outer world. He could allow himself to be directed and led by them. When he was looking for food he was guided by certain pictures that rose up before him, and he was warned of danger also by them. The astral body extended far beyond the physical and the etheric bodies; the form of the physical body alone could be called human.

On Old Moon man's inner warmth was not yet constant. Today, on the earth, this has been achieved. On Old Moon man absorbed warmth from the warmth around him and emitted it again, just as he inhales and exhales air today. The process became visible in his organ of warmth. It gleamed and was luminous when he was absorbing warmth and darkened when he was exhaling it. If you could have seen what was happening, the process would have suggested the image of a fire-breathing dragon. All these happenings have a deep significance. Figures such as the Archangel Michael with the fire-breathing dragon under his feet, or St. George. fighting with the dragon, are pictures reminiscent of those conditions. The fire breather of Old Moon, the ancient Dragon, is a figure that once actually existed. It portrays a stage that would have to be surmounted.

This is the explanation of such matters that is derived from occult knowledge. Later on, when spiritual science is more widely known, there will be a different view of truths that have been preserved in imagery and pictures of this kind. This animal-man form was quite different from that of man today because the astral body did not sink into the physical body as deeply as it did later on the earth. Man is the figure he is today because the astral body eventually sank right down into him. It could be said that what did not, during the Old Moon period of evolution, allow itself to descend into the depths of the physical world, now resolved to do so during the earth period. But if this process in the cosmos had taken place at an earlier time, man would have remained at a much lower evolutionary stage. During the period of earth evolution, he succeeded, with the help of the spirit, in acquiring for himself the noble, godlike form that is now his. If the possibility of developing this stature had already existed on Old Moon, the descent of the astral body would have taken place prematurely. The divine Guides have always chosen the right moment. The essential achievement of Old Moon evolution was that time was left for the evolution of the physical body, and on the earth man was to be permeated by the astral body after having evolved physically on Old Moon at a lower stage. Then again there took place a certain recession of the Moon into the Sun, which had previously separated; the Old Moon globe was again absorbed by the Sun and everything passed into a cosmic sleep, a pralaya. This began at the time when the Moon returned again into the Sun.

Hence the evolution of Old Moon proceeded by the following stages: firstly, a kind of preparation; secondly, separation into Sun and Moon; thirdly, formation of three kingdoms on Old Moon; fourthly, return into the Sun; fifthly, ebb; sixthly, the cosmic sleep.

The fourth metamorphosis of our earth, our own planet earth itself, then came forth from the cosmic sleep. This first configuration of the earth was, of course, quite different from its configuration today. When the earth emerged from the cosmic night, from the darkness of twilight, it was gigantic in size, for again sun and moon were contained within it; the separations took place later on. So enormous was the size of the earth that it reached as far as the Saturn of today. Differentiation in the solar system did not take place until a much later time. As far as is possible in terms of philosophical thinking, the Kant-Laplace theory is an entirely intelligible exposition of this first form of our earth. It speaks of a kind of archetypal nebula in which everything was dissolved and out of which the whole solar system came forth. Through the rotation of this nebula, rings took shape; they densified and then, still as the result of rotation, the planets were formed. In schools this process is often illustrated by means of an experiment. A globule of oil in liquid of equal density is made to rotate by a simple mechanical device. It can then be observed that this globule flattens, that drops separate from it and form themselves again into globules that circle round the central globule. In this way one can see in miniature a kind of planetary system coming into being through rotation. This has an immensely suggestive effect. Why should we not picture the process in this ways This experiment shows how a planetary system comes into existence through rotation; it is there before our very eyes.

But one thing is forgotten. One of us, or the teacher, actually causes the rotation! Nothing is really explained by this external illustration. No cosmic system comes into existence out of nothingness. It does not arise of itself from the nebula, but it comes into existence because many spiritual beings have been working on it and at a certain point in their evolution have drawn out the finest substances from the chaotic root substance and cast out the coarser substances, namely, the moon.

During the first period after pralaya, the earth, in which all the substances and beings were again united, recapitulated the Saturn condition. At the beginning of this phase of evolution the earth was not a globe of gas as has often been falsely assumed, but a globe of warmth. For it (the earth) was re-capitulating the condition of the Saturn embodiment and extended to the sphere of the present Saturn. At a certain stage the spiritual beings involved take their substances with them. Spirit is the foundation of everything, both when the Sun separates and during the evolution of Old Moon. No external factor was responsible here; it was an inner necessity for one section of the beings. The higher beings separate what they need from the chaotic substance. Everywhere it is the spirit that directs the external reality. When the earth first came into existence everything was contained in it; the spiritual beings indwelling it were at different stages of their evolution. We shall bear this in mind during the following studies.

Thus after pralaya the earth first of all recapitulated the Saturn condition; it was a condition of warmth. Then this gigantic globe of warmth condensed to the gaseous state and only when a definite point had been reached was it possible for the globe to form the fluid element and recapitulate the Old Moon condition. At this point on the earth there was a repetition of what had previously happened on Old Moon: the sun separated from the earth and earth-plus-moon became one independent body, containing the substances and beings of earth and moon, as they are still present today. Thus for a time earth and moon, and sun were one united whole. The earth-plus-moon was ejected because man could no longer keep pace with the tempo of the sun. Had the sun remained in the earth man would have been old practically at birth. The beings of the cosmos are at entirely different stages of evolution. It will only be possible to indicate the most important features of this evolution during the fourth period, that of the earth. Even the more mature beings belonged to grades at every possible level. There were some who could neither profit by the rapid tempo of the sun nor by the slow tempo of the earth. These beings departed already before the separation, when sun, earth and moon were still united. They created special arenas for their activity and these were the domains suitable for their rulership. It was thus that the outer planets, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, were formed.

During the recapitulation of the Saturn embodiment, Uranus, Vulcan and Saturn separated from the earth. During the recapitulation of the sun embodiment, Jupiter and Mars separated. After the sun had left the earth, Mercury and Venus separated from it. After the separation of the sun, the earth cast out the moon. The dispersal of Old Moon was brought about by the forces of the progressed beings who drew out the solar body, while the normal and retarded beings produced the moon circling around it. In all the mysteries these happenings were called the strife in heaven. The detached planetoids are the ruins of that battlefield. It is here that the primal secret of the origin of evil must be sought.

The planetary spirits involved could not have waited until the sun separated from the earth because they would not have found the right soil for their activity; evolution at this time was turning into different channels. The planetary conditions of space and movement are all the expression and effect of the activity of their beings; these conditions indicate the evolutionary rank of the spiritual beings inhabiting the planets. Beings who had believed that they, too, could accompany the sun because this had formerly been possible but who could not now do so, separated from the sun, but only after it had itself separated from the earth. These beings separated from the sun after this event and are at a far higher stage of evolution than men. Venus and Mercury are the two bodies that, having separated from the sun after the latter's separation from the earth, formed the inner planets of our solar system.

After the severance from the sun a difficult, sombre period now began for the earth, in a certain respect its darkest, hardest era. While still united with the moon, the earth drew into itself all the forces that were retarding evolution. To obstruct life is characteristic of the forces principally active in the moon. During this period, these obstructive forces were working far too strongly in the earth. If the earth had remained connected with them, life would not have taken its course in the right tempo. Man would have hardened to the stage of mummification. The earth would have become a veritable cemetery, one vast graveyard containing statues of mummified human bodies. No procreation would have been possible. When the sun had left the earth, fearful desolation and hardening of all life took place. So already at that time there were periods when the human physical body was abandoned by its spiritual members, just as today the physical body is abandoned by its spiritual members at death.

In that past era, withdrawal and emergence of the being of spirit and soul from the physical already took place and a new search for the physical body began, as happens today when incarnations are to take place. But more and more frequently it happened that when the being of soul and spirit desired, while the moon was still united with the earth, to find a human body again, none was to be found, because bodies were no longer fit to receive the being of spirit and soul. Just imagine that great masses of human beings were to have died today and because of the character of the physical substance these bodies had become so decadent that the souls would have said: We cannot make use of these bodies, they are too decadent for us, they offer no possibility of further evolution. Suppose that because of an extensive spread of alcoholism, for example, successive generations had gradually become so degenerate that the bodies were simply useless for the descending souls. This is more or less a picture of the state of the earth at that time, before the exit of the moon. Everything that should have been habitable down below was often hardened, crusted, withered, mummified. There was actually a period when souls were seeking in vain for bodies for their own evolution on earth. The consequence was that certain beings simply could not at that time have returned to the physical plane as men. They could not have incarnated again on the earth. These beings then went to other cosmic bodies that had separated from the sun, namely, to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. There was a time when the majority of these beings who should normally have incarnated on the earth according to their nature and their stage of evolution, placed themselves under the protection of the beings of Mars, Jupiter, Venus or Saturn, having ascended to and populated these cosmic bodies. Only the strongest souls found it possible to cope with the stubborn bodies and keep them flexible. Please understand me well. It was only the best soul material that then came again to the earth, because its power to master the stubborn bodies was the greatest. But under such conditions evolution could not have progressed.

The beings of the highest rank belonging to our solar system now adopted a new procedure. The most impermeable substances were extracted and separated from the earth; the severance of the moon was brought about. The result of this was that the forces that had remained behind were no longer frustrated in their evolution. But it was not until later that this moon became what it is today. The time had now come when the physical and etheric evolution of man could find the tempo befitting its stage. The forces both of the sun and the moon now worked upon the earth from outside, maintaining the balance. Gradually, while the moon was emerging, a kind of softening, an amelioration of the bodies of men, again took place. The period just described is called in occultism the Lemurian epoch, the epoch of the separation of the moon during the physical embodiment of the earth. The epoch when the sun left the earth is called the Hyperborean age, and the epoch when the sun, moon and earth were still united is called the Polarian age.

During the whole period when the sun was separated from the earth and the moon produced a hardening process on the earth to begin with and then left the earth during the whole of that period, sublime beings were influencing the differentiation. Their most important servants were the Spirits of Form, called the Exusiai in Christian esotericism, also Spirits of Revelation, Powers.

On Saturn it was the Thrones, the Spirits of Will who made the sacrifice of pouring out from their own substance the material for man's physical body. On Old Sun it was the Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom who provided the substance for the etheric body, and on Old Moon it was the Spirits of Movement or Mights who made possible the formation of the astral body. On the earth the Spirits of Form or Powers instill the ego, bringing it about that in this phase of evolution the ego enters gradually into what had come into existence, namely, man's physical body, etheric body and astral body. This is the work of the Spirits of Form. In order that an ego-man could come into existence at all as the expression of ego consciousness, and that this coordination of the physical, etheric and astral bodies could take place, everything that has now been described was essential. The separation of sun and moon from the earth was necessary; it was also necessary for man to undergo a process of hardening followed by a certain softening. This could take place because the wise beings who guided and directed these happenings undertook it all as probationary measures for the good of evolution. A great deal in the evolutionary process of the earth is still done today by the sublime beings concerned, as probationary measures.

What, then, is the anthroposophical movement? It came into the world because the lofty beings we call the Masters, who live in human physical bodies but have reached the far higher stage of evolution than the average man of today, poured out a certain amount of wisdom from the last third of the nineteenth century onwards. The living influx of this wisdom from higher realms into our culture is the actual basis of our anthroposophical movement. Do not imagine that there was no possibility of the attempted influx of wisdom falling upon deaf ears in humanity. Even if there had been deaf ears, the Masters would have said that an attempt must be made later on, when human beings would be ready to receive the wisdom. In occultism this is known as the test of maturity in men. The fact that wisdom pours into humanity from higher beings such as these is not in itself sufficient; what matters is how it is received; the success of the test depends upon that. Such tests have already been made several times but have not always succeeded. It was often within narrow limits that humanity proved to be ripe for the tests; receptive souls and hearts were not always to be found. When the ego of humanity was to be instilled, the test consisted in gradual attempts to permate what had formerly been astral body only, with the ego. Then it turned out that the astral body, permeated by the ego, was incapable of penetrating the physical body. Adjustment was therefore necessary and this was made possible by the separation of the moon. It was in the middle of the Lemurian epoch that the entry of the ego, the Christ principle, was first achieved.

But the following was connected with this. During and after the separation of the moon, the earth was depopulated. We have heard that the bodies had become so contaminated that they could no longer provide habitations for the souls. Cosmic happenings such as these have been preserved in legend and saga, but occult investigation reveals their true origin and teaches us that while the separation of the moon was taking place, when the earth was depopulated, many souls were searching for suitable embodiment in cosmic space; they departed from the earth and assumed bodies on other planets. But when the moon had finally left, it became apparent that the earth was capable again of providing suitable bodies. Now, the souls, who during the latest Lemurian epoch and thereafter in the Atlantean period had gone to the planets, presented them-selves again on the earth and incarnated in the bodies there. Groups of human beings now formed on the earth. Some provided bodies for souls coming from Jupiter incarnations, or from Mars, Venus or Saturn. These souls now found bodies that were appropriate for them. This grouping of souls gave rise to the birth of races. Hence there is a certain connection between the races and cosmic bodies and thus it was possible to speak of Saturn men, Jupiter men and so on. What can be called the concept of race had now, for the first time, its justification.

On Old Moon, and also on the earth while it was still united with the moon, there were human beings at different stages of evolution. This can be perceived right on into the Lemurian epoch, when owing to the exodus of the moon, differentiation took place in humanity. Thereafter the concept of race arose and from then on began to have a certain meaning, a certain significance. Race is something that comes into being and subsequently passes away again. The epoch of the formation of the races is that embraced by Lemuria and Atlantis. Today only stragglers of the races are present.