Re: [anthroposophy] Our solar system and the universe.
- Dear Finbarr,
I'll do my best to answer you. The work of Steiner to which to refer is
'An Outline of Esoteric Science' 1909 formerly published as 'An Outline
of Occult Science' but that was when 'occult' had no dark connotations
but was used in its etymological sense of 'hidden'.
'Saturn', 'Sun', 'Moon' and Earth are the successive incarnations of the
planet and will be followed by 'Jupiter', one I forget ('Venus' perhaps)
and 'Vulcan'. The first 100 pages are difficult philosophic stuff and
then the evolutions are described. The 'Moon' period is exceedingly
difficult to follow.
Roughly, the 'matter' of 'Saturn' - at its most characteristic stage of
evolution - can only be compared to warmth of feeling. It is the putting
forth of the very being of the Elohim of Genesis 1:1. The Elohim are a
hierarchy and the same as the 7 Thrones, the Spirits of Will, in
Revelation - and I equate them to the part of the being of Christ which
corresponds to our physical body. The entire planet from, what would be
the centre of the present Sun to Saturn, is this single substance.
Physical planets beyond the present Saturn are later additions. The
'atmosphere' around Saturn consists of the hierarchies of angels. Angels
themselves at that point are at the 'plant' stage of evolution,
archangels are at the 'animal' stage and the archai at their 'human'
stage. Beyond them the higher hierarchies are also evolving but in
direct 'contact' with 'Saturn'. The whole of the substance of Saturn has
the potential to become individualised into the humanity of our time.
The first beginnings of the physical senses are laid down. Thus because
we have a real relation to 'Saturn' we are capable, all of us, of
penetrating to its truth.
Between incarnations of the planet there is a kind of spiritual sleep. A
non-manifestation in which further development must occur but which is
utterly hidden from us. Each new stage goes through a recapitulation of
the last but under its changed circumstances. (Hence RS was very
impressed with Haeckel's ontogenetic theory of embryology which was
completely demolished in 1923. Can't remember the reference and it is
not well known by biologists. It seems RS took it at face value.)
In the 'Sun' period the higher hierarchies have to separate off to
continue their own development rightly. They lay down the life forces in
the planet from a 'distance'. The substance which was of 'Saturn' splits
into two parts - with and without life forces. Substance densifies or
becomes aeriform. Development begins to take on a punctuated evolution
rather than the continuous form of it previously.
Astral forces are added at the 'Moon' stage and substance becomes
'watery'. The most advanced life-forms arrive at a herd-type migration
and have a plant-animal form. The moon withdraws from the planet to make
a solar system of three.
Earth develops human consciousness in a portion of those from
So the spiritual point of view is much more far-sighted than the
physical. The dirt under your feet is, in a manner of speaking, your
long lost kith and kin, your brothers and sisters. By their unwitting
sacrifice you are what you are today. The redemption of their sacrifice,
the re-spiritualisation of matter can be adopted as an ideal for us. Can
physical matter think? Yes, but not for another three incarnations of
the planet. It, or they, would have to go through all the evolutions we
have. That's what I call long term planning.
Spiritually space is relative to existents. Therefore space is discreet.
The space of our solar system is the limit of our Cosmos, our Order of
spiritual being - the Egg of our creation. Space, as we know it, is the
separation of *independent* existents. There will be beings on other
planets in far-flung corners, no doubt, but they are nothing really to
do with us. We could not really know them even if we wanted to.
A number is a definite magnitude. Number as such is an abstraction. It
is not a definite magnitude. Therefore it does not exist in the sense
that numbers do. Space as such is equally an abstraction. Coincidentally
Chaitin has found that mathematics as a whole can only have discrete
islands of knowable number systems in a sea of number. This incidence of
space, number and mathematics as a whole (each has an analogous
discreteness) puts us at the limit of spatial or objective understanding
and poised to enter an understanding of the temporal, subjective or
spiritual relations. We glimpse the law of analogy or metaphor which
re-unites art and science into religion. These are seen, e.g., in the
Grand Symmetries of present physical understanding.
On the other hand there cannot be physical matter in the universe in the
absence of an 'atmosphere' of higher beings. Every cosmic physical body
is the sign of a colony of spirits. Therefore there must be 'men' on the
Moon, the present Moon, but every kind of physical telescope is the
wrong kind of instrument to see them. The only possible instrument to
use is human consciousness.
Christ is the Regent of the Sun Beings, the being from the godhead whose
rightful 'physical' form is the Elohim. That he descended into our
matter is all but miraculous itself.
I've prattled off a load here very quickly. Hope it offers some avenues
> I am aware that in the outlook of Steiner, there is a spiritual, or
> immaterial aspect of the universe, and a physical, or material aspect
> to the universe, and that these two aspects are, at least for now,
> intertwined, or interwoven.
> As I understand it, when Steiner and other anthroposophists refer to
> "earth", "sun", "saturn", "moon" and "jupiter", etc., they can be
> referring to the physical, material processes which modern
> physicalistic scientism refers to. They may also be referring to
> spiritual, immaterial processes which are related to the physical
> processes, but which are not the same.
> I get the impression from reading Steiner that he is sometimes
> referring to the past and future material-and-immaterial development
> of what I would call our solar system, and yet he is using words such
> as "universe".
> In writing about what we would call "human beings" on this planet,
> Steiner sometimes refers to a past time which began in a
> material-immaterial incarnation of "saturn" and to a future time which
> will culminate in a material-immaterial incarnation of "vulcan". With
> regard to the "purely" physical, or material aspects of this solar
> system, he sometimes asks us to consider a "physical space"
> encompassed by the present orbit of the physical planet saturn.
> As I understand modern scientism, the "universe" is about 16 billion
> years old, and is perhaps about 16 billion light years in scale. In
> the context of the scale of that physical universe, the time-and-space
> involved in our solar system, whether it extends to the orbit of
> saturn or pluto or beyond, is quite small, indeed.
> Did Steiner, or do present-day anthroposophists "work" explicitly with
> the material, physical dimensions and with the immaterial, spiritual
> dimensions of this larger universe? For example, in Steiner, the
> "Christ Being" is a "Sun Being", and is involved in the transformation
> of human beings, in the context of this material-immaterial solar
> system, relative to the several incarnations of "earth", from saturn
> to vulcan. In a modified view of traditional Christianity, the Cosmic
> Christ is identified with the Creator of the universe and with the
> Conserver of the universe, and is in the process of transforming this
> much larger cosmos, with regard to universal eternal blessedness. Does
> anthroposophy explicitly account for the material-immaterial
> development of what modern scientism calls the "universe", beyond this
> "solar system", which can be partially defined in anthroposophy as
> that material-immaterial process which extends in time-and-space from
> "saturn" to "vulcan"?
> Finbarr Lismore