Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Earth As Being with Life, Soul, and Spirit
GA 181

Lecture II

1 April 1918, Berlin

... Picture what the universe is, apart from the earth, if regarded by the Copernican world-conception alone: a set of calculations! It cannot be this for spiritual science, but must be something which is presented to spiritual knowledge. Why do we have a geology which believes that the earth has only developed through the purely mineral world? Because the Copernican world-conception had, as a matter of course, to produce the present-day materialistic geology. It has nothing in it that could show how the earth is to be thought of, from the cosmos, or from the spiritual, as a being with soul and spirit. A world thought of in Copernican terms could only be a dead earth! A living, ensouled, spiritually permeated earth has to be conceived from another cosmos—really from another cosmos—than that of the Copernican view. Naturally, each time only a few characteristics of the being of the earth can be given, as it appears when it is looked at from the universe.

Is that an entirely unreal conception; to picture the earth as seen from the universe? It is not unreal, but very real. It occurred once to Herman Grimm, but he immediately apologised, when he had written about it. In an essay written in 1858 he said that one could imagine—but he remarks at once ‘I do not want to put forward an article of faith, but a fantasy’—that the human soul, when it is freed from the body, could move freely in the cosmos about the earth, and would then in this free movement observe the earth. Then what happens on the earth would appear to man in quite a different light, thinks Herman Grimm. Man would get to know every event from another point of view. For example, he would look into human hearts ‘as into a glass bee-hive’. The thoughts arising in the human heart would appear as if out of a glass bee-hive! That is a beautiful picture. And then one could imagine: this human being, who has floated round the earth for a time, and observed it from outside, might come to incarnate again on earth. He would have father and mother, a native country and everything that there is on earth—and would then have to forget everything that he had seen from another point of view. And if he was a historian, for instance, in the present-day sense (Herman Grimm at this point writes in a subjective way!) he could not help forgetting the other—for with the other way of looking at things one cannot write history!

This is a conception which strongly approaches the reality. It is quite right that the human soul is as if floating around the earth, between death and a new birth, but—in a way conditioned by karmic connections, as I have often described—looks down at the earth. Then the soul has the definite feeling that the earth is an ensouled and spiritually permeated organism—and the prejudiced view ceases, that it is something without a soul, only something ‘geological’. And then the earth becomes something very much differentiated; it becomes, for observation between death and a new birth, differentiated in such a way that for instance the Orient appears otherwise than the American Occident. It is not possible to speak with the dead about the earth, as one speaks about it with geologists; for the dead do not understand geological conceptions. But they know: when from cosmic space the East, from Asia until far into Russia, is observed, then the earth appears as if wrapped in a bluish radiance—bluish, blue to violet; such is the earth seen from this side of cosmic space. If one comes to the Western hemisphere, if one looks at it where it is America—it appears more or less in burning red. You have there a polarity of the earth, seen from the cosmos. The Copernican world-conception can of course not of itself provide this—it is another way of seeing, from another point of view. For him who has this point of view it becomes comprehensible: this earth, this ensouled earth-organism shows itself outwardly otherwise in its eastern half, otherwise in its western; in the east it has its blue covering, in the west something like a glowing out of its interior, hence the reddish, burning glow. There you have one of the examples of how man can be guided between death and a new birth by what he then learns. He gets to know the configuration of the earth, the different appearance of the earth out into the cosmos, into the spiritual; he gets to know—it is on one side bluish-violet, on the other burning red. And according to his spiritual need, which he will develop out of his karma, this determines for him where he will next enter again into incarnation. Naturally one must picture these things as much more complicated than I have said now. But from such relationships man develops between death and new birth the forces which bring him to incarnate in a particular inherited child body.

What I have given are only two specific colours; apart from colours, there are other definite qualities, many others. For the present I will only mention: between East and West, in the middle, the earth is more greenish as seen from outside, in our regions for instance greenish. So that in fact a threefold membering is produced, which can lead to significant conclusions about the way in which the human being can use what he can observe between death and a new birth to guide him to come into incarnation in this or that region of the earth.

If this is taken into consideration, one will gradually acquire the conception that between the human beings incarnated here on the earth in the physical body and the human beings who are out of the body certain things play a part, which are generally not taken into account at all. When we go into a foreign country and want to understand the people, we must acquire their language. When we want to come to an understanding with the dead, we have also gradually to acquire the language of the dead. This is at the same time the language of spiritual science, for this language is spoken by all who are called alive and all who are called dead. It reaches from over there to here, and from here to over there. But it is specially important to acquire not just abstract conceptions, but such pictures of the universe. We acquire a picture of the earth when we imagine a sphere floating in cosmic space, gleaming on one side in shades of blue and violet, on the other side burning, sparkling red and yellow; and between a belt of green. Conceptions which have the character of pictures gradually carry us over into the spiritual world. That is what matters. It is necessary to put forward such picture-conceptions, if one is speaking in an earnest sense about the spiritual worlds; and it is necessary too that such conceptions are not regarded as if they were arbitrary inventions, but that something is made from them—on this one depends. Let us consider it once more: the eastern earth, gleaming in blue and violet—the western earth, sparkling reddish-yellow. But other differentiations come in. If the soul of one who has died contemplates certain points in our present age, then he perceives at the place that is designated here as Palestine, as Jerusalem, out of the bluish-violet something of a golden form, a golden crystal form, which comes to life. That is Jerusalem, seen from the spirit! That is what also plays a part in the Apocalypse (in so far as I speak of Imaginations) as ‘heavenly Jerusalem’. These are not things which are thought out. These are things which can be seen. Contemplated from the spirit, the Mystery of Golgotha was as it is in physical observation when the astronomer directs his telescope into cosmic space and then sees something that amazes him, for example the appearance of new stars. Spiritually, observed from the cosmos, the event of Golgotha was the appearance of a golden star in the blue earth-aura of the eastern half of the earth. Here you have the Imagination for what I described in conclusion the day before yesterday. It is really important that through such Imaginations conceptions of the universe are acquired, which enable the human soul to find its place in feeling within the spirit of this universe.

Try to think this with someone who has died: the crystal form of the heavenly Jerusalem, building up in golden radiance, amid the blue-violet earth-aura. This will bring you near. This is something which belongs to the Imaginations, into which the soul enters at death: ‘Ex Deo nascimur, in Christo morimur!’

There is a method of shutting oneself off from spiritual reality, and there is a method of approaching it. One can shut oneself off from spiritual reality by attempting to calculate reality. Mathematics is certainly spirit, indeed pure spirit; but employed upon physical reality it is the method for shutting oneself off from the spiritual. The more you calculate the more you shut yourself off from the spiritual. Kant once said: there is as much science in the world, as there is mathematics. But from the other point of view, which is equally justified, one could say: there is as much darkness in the world, as man has succeeded in calculating about the world. One approaches spiritual life the more one penetrates from external observation, and particularly from abstract conceptions, to picture conceptions. Copernicus brought men to calculate the universe; the opposite way of seeing things must bring men to form pictures of the universe again; to think of a universe, with which the human soul can identify itself—so that the earth appears as an organism, shining out into the cosmos: blue-violet, with the golden, shining heavenly Jerusalem on the one side, and on the other side sparkling reddish-yellow.

From what does the blue-violet on one side of the earth-aura originate? If you see this side of the earth-sphere, what is physical of the earth disappears, seen from the outside; rather, the light-aura becomes transparent, and the dark of the earth vanishes. The blue which shows brings this about. You can explain the phenomenon from Goethe’s Theory of Colour. But because the interior of the earth sparkles out from the western half—sparkles out in such a way that it is true, as I described the day before yesterday, that man is determined in America by the sub-earthly; because of this the interior of the earth shines and sparkles as a reddish-yellow glow, as a reddish-yellow shooting fire out into the universe. This is only intended as a sketch, in quite feeble outlines; but it is meant to show you that it is possible to speak today not only in general abstract ideas about the world in which we live between death and a new birth, but in very concrete conceptions. All this is capable of preparing our souls to reach a connection with the spiritual world, a connection with the higher Hierarchies, a connection with that world in which man lives between death and a new birth.