The Spiritual Hierarchies
13 April 1909, Düsseldorf
In considering, as we did this morning, conditions on ancient Saturn that are more transparent and less shrouded in illusion or maya, we can better understand the redemption or further imprisonment of those beings we encountered yesterday in relation to the significant passage in the divine Gita. You will recall that had the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn completely sucked in the egg-shaped bodies of heat and left nothing behind, the development of Saturn would have come to an end and everything would then have been reabsorbed into the spiritual world. But, as has been mentioned, this did not happen. By leaving externally perceptible bodies of warmth behind, the Spirits of Personality imprinted their seal more deeply on ancient Saturn than they should have done.
What was the power working in the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn? It was the force we know today as the power of thought. In fact, the Spirits of Personality did nothing on ancient Saturn but exercise their power of thought. The eggs of heat were formed because they were able to call forth the idea of these eggs. The power of conceptual thought in the Spirits of Personality was far mightier than it is in the case of a man today. If today we have an idea, a thought, we only create a form in the astral world; it does not go any further. That is why the form cannot be perceived in an outer physical way. On ancient Saturn the Spirits of Personality were mighty magicians. They formed and left behind the heat eggs of Saturn through their power of thought. It was the power of the Spirits of Personality that caused the residue of ancient Saturn to be left behind, and this residue appeared again and again even during the Sun evolution.
We can now grasp the fact that an entity that is human takes forms from its surroundings, for the eggs were made out of the surrounding Saturn substance, and these eggs were then bewitched and chained to a further existence. We can picture the process because matters are not quite so complex at this stage.
Now let us recall what has been described in the previous lecture. The beings of the higher hierarchies, whom we call Archangels, Archangeloi or Fire Spirits, achieved their human stage on the old Sun. On the one hand, the warmth element had densified itself to smoke or gas so that the Sun was a gaseous globe; on the other, it burned the gas so that light streamed out into universal space. The Archangels or Fire Spirits lived in the streaming light; they sucked in and streamed out light and lived in this process. I mentioned previously that, had you been able to make a journey through the universe, you would have beheld the old Sun shining toward you from a great distance. In the inner part of the old Sun you would have experienced various currents of gas permeating the whole body of the planet like a breathing process.
We have seen that on old Saturn and old Sun there was continual life and activity. On ancient Saturn there was a forming and dissolving of egg-shaped structures, apart from the residues that were left behind. Had one beheld this activity, one would have said that Saturn was really a single living being. It lived, and out of its own life activity it was continually creating forms. But that was even more the case on the old Sun. We meet this planet as a unit with alternating conditions between the Sun's day and the Sun's night, a breathing in and out of light. It would have given one the impression of a universal body permeated with life, not of something dead.
Everything that moves and lives, that is inwardly permeated with activity, however, owes its motion to spiritual beings. We have mentioned that the Spirits of Personality produced the egg-forms through their power of thought, but this implies that first there must have been a substance available out of which the eggs could be shaped. The Spirits of Personality or Archai were unable to provide the substance. We should bear in mind that a substance first had to be created—the undifferentiated heat, the fire as such. The Spirits of Personality could only shape the heat; the substance had to be provided from elsewhere. It came from considerably higher spiritual beings who had achieved their human stage so far back in the past that they were already well beyond it on ancient Saturn. In order to form a clear picture of the exalted beings who provided the heat element on ancient Saturn, we shall have to consider, by way of comparison, the evolution of the human being, for man will also become a divine being in future.
We have often mentioned that today man consists of four members—physical, etheric and astral bodies, and an "I” or ego. This is the key to all spiritual science. We also know about man's future development, how the 'T' working from within gradually transforms the astral body so that it finally gains complete mastery over it. When the astral body has been thus transformed, we say that it contains Spirit Self or Manas. An astral body ruled by the ego is the Spirit Self or Manas. The same applies to the ether body. When the ego works still more powerfully, it can overcome the opposing forces of the ether body. The transformed ether body then becomes Life Spirit or Buddhi. Finally, when the ego gains mastery over the physical body, when the most powerfully opposing forces of the physical body are also overcome, man bears in him Spirit Man or Atman. Thus, in transforming his physical body into Atman or Spirit Man, he becomes sevenfold. Outwardly, the physical body appears as a physical body, but inwardly it is completely controlled and permeated by the ego. At this stage, the physical body is both physical body and Atman. The ether body is both ether body and Life Spirit or Buddhi, and the astral body is both astral body and Spirit Self or Manas. The ego has now become ruler over the other members. Thus, man evolves to higher stages of development out of his own forces. He strives toward his own deification, as Dionysius the Areopagite, the friend and pupil of St. Paul, called it.
This, however, is not the end of man's evolution. When he has reached the stage of complete mastery of the physical body, a further higher development awaits him. Evolution goes higher and higher and we look up to sublime beings in exalted spiritual heights, and these beings become ever mightier as we rise. How do beings become ever mightier? To begin with, they need, they require, something. Later, they develop so that they can give. The fundamental meaning of evolution is to develop from taking to giving. We can find an analogy in human development between birth and death. The small child is helpless and dependent on his surroundings, but he outgrows his helplessness and becomes a helper in his own circle. The same is true of the mighty span of human evolution in the universe.
On ancient Saturn man was present in the form of the earliest germ of a physical body. He could only receive the basic foundations of his humanity. This also applied during the old Sun and old Moon periods. On the earth he was given his ego, and now he gradually prepares himself to work with his "I” on the astral, etheric and physical bodies. Thereby, he gradually becomes a being who can give cosmically. In time he will grow into a being who is able to give cosmically, that is, from taking to giving. You have an example of this in the beings of whom we have spoken today—the Archangels or Archangeloi. On the old Sun they had already developed to the stage where they were able to produce light in the universe. Evolution. strides forward from taking to giving. The activity of giving, however, can take considerable proportions. When beings give their thoughts, for instance—well, this still denotes a somewhat restricted activity of giving. When they withdraw, they are still much as they were before, no matter how many thoughts they may have given. Nothing visible, nothing substantial has thereby been produced in a higher sense. But a time came when beings were able not only to give thoughts or the like. They became able to bestow far more—the substance of heat, for example, which the Spirits of Personality needed on ancient Saturn.
Who were the beings who had reached such an exalted stage of development that they were able to let the heat substance on ancient Saturn stream from their own bodies? They are known as the Thrones.
Thus we see how ancient Saturn was formed. From the periphery of the universe, the Thrones gathered up into one point. Their activity might now be linked on a larger scale to what the silkworm does in a lower realm in spinning silk threads out of its own body. The Thrones spun the heat substance and sacrificed it on the altar of ancient Saturn. We have seen that the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn merely gave “personality” or ego-consciousness to the heat. But the heat substance streams forth out of the cosmos from lofty, exalted spiritual beings, from the Thrones. Thus, we know the origin of the eggs that we find on Saturn; they were spun out of the sacrificing bodies of the Thrones.
But the cooperation of the Spirits of Personality and the Thrones alone does not account for the inner life and movement on Saturn. The Spirits of Personality had the power to shape the warmth substance but they could not achieve this alone. In order that inner life and movement might arise on ancient Saturn, still other beings, lower than the Thrones but higher than the Spirits of Personality or Archai, had to inhabit the planet. They had the task of helping the Spirits of Personality. We can form a picture of the nature of this assistance when we bear in mind that above us we have the Angels or Angeloi, then the Archangels or Archangeloi, then the Primal Beginnings or Spirits of Personality, the Archai. These beings belong to the hierarchy immediately above man. The Thrones are not the next highest beings after the Spirits of Personality. Between the Spirits of Personality and the Thrones there are intermediary ranks. One of these, the Exusiai, as Dionysius the Areopagite called them, or the Powers, as they are referred to in English, is one degree higher than the rank of Spirits of Personality. On ancient Saturn they had the same relationship to the Spirits of Personality as the Angels have to us. At a further stage higher, we have those beings whom we call Mights, Dynameis. On ancient Saturn they had the same relationship to the Spirits of Personality as the Archangels have to us today. Still a stage higher than the Mights are the Dominions or Kyriotetes. They held the same relationship to the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn as the Spirits of Personality hold to us today. Only then do we come to the Thrones.
On ancient Saturn we have a sequence of beings: The Spirits of Personality who awaken and bring about ego-consciousness, and the Thrones, who stand four stages higher than the Spirits of Personality and give forth the fire-substance. Between them, so that life on Saturn may be ordered, we have, from below upwards, the Powers, the Mights and the Dominions or Exusiai, Dynameis, and Kyriotetes. These are, so to speak, the inhabitants of ancient Saturn.
In what has been characterized as the development from ancient Saturn to the old Sun, the beings that have been mentioned evolved one degree higher. The Archangels now go through their human stage. Outwardly, heat is densified to gas. The old Sun is a gaseous body, and whereas ancient Saturn was a dark body of heat, the Sun begins to shine forth and alternates between Sun days and Sun nights. It is particularly important to note this alternation between Sun days and Sun nights, for a considerable difference exists between these two conditions in the life on the old Sun. If nothing further had occurred on the old Sun but what I have so far described, the Archangels, the men on the old Sun, would have shone forth with light into the universe on Sun days, and would have returned to the Sun on Sun nights. There would have been a breathing in and out of light, and accompanying it a weaving of the beings dwelling in the light. But it was not so.
Let me characterize quite simply, almost trivially, the nature of the Archangels. They preferred to stream out into the cosmos rather than to contract, or to draw themselves together. The latter seemed a narrowing, inferior kind of existence. It suited them better to dwell in the light ether. But their existence in the light ether could not have extended beyond certain limits if something had not come to their assistance. Had these beings been totally dependent on themselves alone, they would have had no choice but to return docilely to the Sun during the Sun nights. Yet this is not what they did. They prolonged their stay in the universe more and more, and remained longer in the spiritual world. What came to their assistance?
Let us imagine that the circle in Figure I represents the globe of the old Sun. The Archangels sped outward in all directions from the globe and spread spiritually into the cosmos. Beings from the cosmos came to help the Archangels in their movement outward. Just as previously on ancient Saturn the fire element was brought from the cosmos by the Thrones, so now other beings higher than the Thrones came to meet the Archangels in their movement outward; they helped the Archangels to remain longer out in the spiritual world than would otherwise have been possible.
The beings who came to meet and to receive the Archangels into spiritual widths of space are called the Cherubim. They are beings of an exceptionally sublime power for they have the power to receive the Archangels, so to speak, with open arms. As the Archangels are spreading out, so the Cherubim come to meet them out of the universe. Thus, we have around the globe of the old Sun the approaching hosts of the Cherubim. We might say that just as the earth is surrounded by the atmosphere, so was the old Sun surrounded by the realm of the Cherubim for the benefit of the Archangels. The Archangels, as they went forth into cosmic space, beheld their mighty helpers.
How did these great helpers meet them, and what was their appearance? Naturally, this can only be seen by looking with clairvoyant perception into the Akashic Record. These great universal helpers appeared in quite definite etheric forms. Our forefathers, still conscious of these important facts through tradition, represented the Cherubim as strangely winged beasts with variously shaped heads: The winged Lion, the winged Eagle, the winged Bull and the winged Man.
For the Cherubim, in fact, drew near, to begin with, from four sides. They approached in shapes that could afterwards be represented and thus become known as the form of the Cherubim. In schools of the first post-Atlantean initiates, the Cherubim, who approached the old Sun from four sides were given names from which the names Bull, Lion, Eagle and Man later were derived. More will have to be said on this subject, but today we shall consider further the four types of Cherubim who went out to meet the Archangels.
The Archangels who dwelt as man on the old Sun beheld the four different types of Cherubim approaching from four sides. Because of this, the Archangels were able to remain longer in the spiritual realm that surrounded the old Sun than would otherwise have been possible. The influence of the Cherubim on the old Archangels was enlivening to the highest degree, but because the Cherubim drew near to the old Sun they made their influence felt in yet another way. Influences are never one-sided. Imagine, for example, a room with two people in it. One would like it to be warmer, but the other, who does not wish it so, yet has also to be in the room, will also feel the increased warmth. The same is true of the Cherubim who streamed in from universal space. The activity of the Cherubim on the beings who had risen to the light element during Sun days could only take place when the light streamed out into the universe.
The Cherubim, however, were also in the heavens during Sun nights when the light did not stream out. During such periods, the Sun planet was darkened and there was only warm gas, no light; currents of warm gases streamed inside the Sun globe. The Cherubim were all around it and sent their activity downwards into the dark gas. Thus, when the Cherubim were unable to influence the Archangels in the normal way, they sent their activity into the dark smoke of the Sun. During ancient Saturn, influences were exercised on the heat; now influences streamed into the densified heat and the gaseous body of the old Sun from the universe. This accounts for the fact that out of the Sun mist on the old Sun the first germs were laid down for what we today call the animal kingdom.
Just as the first germs of the human race were laid down in man's physical body on ancient Saturn, so the earliest beginnings of the animal kingdom were in the smoke, in the gas of the old Sun. The earliest beginnings of the human body are formed out of the heat of ancient Saturn; on the old Sun the earliest beginnings of physical smoke-like mobile animal forms arose out of the Sun gases in which the Cherubim were reflected.
Thus, the choir of the Cherubim who surrounded the Sun and received with open arms the approaching Archangels, were also beings who magically brought forth out of the Sun's gas on Sun nights the first physical germ of the animal kingdom. Therefore, our forefathers who were familiar with these important facts of spiritual cosmology from the Mysteries, called the beings who manifested their influences from various sides of the universal space on the old Sun, the zodiac (animal circle). That is the original meaning of the zodiac. The first beginnings of man were laid down on ancient Saturn; the substance, which today constitutes our physical body, was poured out, sacrificed by the Thrones. On the old Sun the beginnings of the animal kingdom were laid down; the first animal forms were conjured forth from the gas, condensed from the heat substance, in which the Cherubim reflected themselves. Thus, the first animals became Sun reflections of the zodiac. There is a true inner relationship between the zodiac and the first animals on the old Sun. Our present animals are caricatures of the beings who were in the process of becoming animals on the Sun. In ancient times names were not given arbitrarily. What does the astronomer do who today has the good fortune to discover a new star or planet in the chain of the planetoids? He opens a dictionary, chooses among the Greek mythological names one that has not been appropriated and gives it to the newly discovered planet. Names were never given in this manner in times when the Mysteries still flourished, for a name expressed the true nature of the thing to which it was attached. It was filled with meaning.
The shapes of our present animals, even if they are caricatures, were drawn forth from the periphery of the cosmos, from the forms of the zodiac. You may have noticed that I have only spoken about four names of the zodiac. They represent the four principal expressions of the Cherubim, but in reality each of these cherubic beings has to the right and the left of it a kind of follower or companion. Thus we have twelvefold forces in the Sun's periphery belonging to the realm of the Cherubim. They were already present in a rudimentary form on ancient Saturn. The twelve powers belonging to the realm of the Cherubim accomplished their task in the way indicated.
But how are these related to the usual names of the zodiac? We shall refer to this in the next few days, for there has been a change in the sequence of the names. One generally begins with the Ram, Bull, Twins, Cancer, Lion, then comes the Virgin and the Scales. The Eagle has had to accept the name Scorpio for a definite reason owing to a later transformation. Then come the two companion signs, the Archer, Sagittarius, and the Goat, Capricorn. Man is called Waterman for a particular reason that we shall come to learn. Finally, we have the Fishes. The true forms out of which the zodiac originated only shimmer through in the Bull and the Lion, less so in Man, who is exoterically referred to as the Waterman. We shall have to discuss in the course of the next few days why this transformation in the zodiac came about.
We have thus seen how exalted spiritual beings, the Thrones, have sacrificed their own heat substance on ancient Saturn, and how still higher beings, the Cherubim, were able to receive into themselves, and to purify and ennoble it, the light that arose from this fiery substance. But each time an upHfting process arises in the universe, a corresponding compensation, a lowering process, has to take place. So that the Archangels would have the opportunity of extending their spiritual existence by day, the Cherubim had to continue their activity in a realm below that of man at night and shape animal forms from the mist, smoke and gas of the densified warmth substance.
We have here gained a fundamental picture, in the sense of primeval wisdom, regarding the activity of certain spiritual entities in relation to our planetary body. We have also seen that everything of physical, material nature can be traced back to spiritual beings. What is today known materially as the zodiac has its origin in the Cherubim who sent their influence down from the encircling cosmos to the old Sun, which let its forces stream forth into the universe as the power of light.
This has brought us to an important concept, that of the zodiac. We shall continue tomorrow and gradually rise to an understanding of other cosmic bodies and throw light on their relationship with the Spiritual Hierarchies.