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Cosmic Christianity

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The Archangel Michael and Astrosophy

On a great number of occasions, Rudolf Steiner gave practical indications concerning modern humanitys connection with the world of the stars. Particularly in a letter that he wrote on 25 Oct. 1924 (English translation, The Michael Mystery), he spoke about humanitys relationship to the stars from the perspective of the mission and the working of the Archangel Michael. He developed there two aspects, one referring to incarnation. At the moment of the approach to incarnation, Michael insists that we orient our descent to the Earth so that our destiny corresponds to the movements and to the rhythms of the stars in the heavens. Practically speaking, at the present stage of evolution, there would be no longer any need for us to establish this relationship to the stars at our incarnation. That it still exists is due to the insistence of Michael. His intention is to still connect the stars, through the spark of the spirit in the human being, with the evolution of the entire world. Steiner goes on to say in that letter that this achievement gives Michael such deep satisfaction, that a great part of his life-element, his life-energy, his radiant, sun-like life-will, lives in this satisfaction. But this is not all. Steiner describes a new potential relationship of humanity to the stars. Not only do we take along this star-companion who joined us at birth, and for whom we are expected to make ourselves responsible; but as we move toward the future, we are called upon to transform that world of the stars through our spirit deeds on the Earth. In the far distant future, we will create a new cosmos. This sounds at first impossibly ambitious; therefore, I should like to substantiate this in practical detail.

I shall take as an example the birth configuration and the complex of the prenatal star events of Beethoven. Traditional astrology has taken into account for hundreds, perhaps for thousands, of years only the configuration of birth. There exist, however, indications in Egyptian documents suggesting that the Egyptians considered the entire prenatal time, on the basis of the so-called Trutina Hermetis. It took into account the approximately nine months before birth, with individual differentiations. The Egyptians claimed that they received this wisdom from Hermes, the founder of their civilization. Finally, the oral tradition was written down by two priest-kings, Nechepso and Petosiris. The documents referring to it are preserved in a library in Paris. With this rule we are led back into prenatal times, close to the moment of conception. It calculates the so-called epoch on the basis of a relationship of Sun, Moon, and Earth. However, the epoch need not be identical with conception.

What then does the epoch purport? We must look at it as a spiritual-cosmic event. Rudolf Steiner has described it in minute detail. When a human soul comes close to the moment of incarnation, around the time of conception, it is still in the sphere of the Moon. It is clothed in its astral body. Furthermore, it also carries with it the so-called spirit germ of the physical body. This is a dynamic extract from the 12 constellations of the Zodiac that represents a memory of the divine form-body of the human being that was created by the hierarchical world in the dim past. During the major part of the life between two incarnations, the soul is engaged, with the help of the divine hierarchies, in re-attaining and re-establishing this spirit germ. Then, at the moment of conception, the soul must separate from it. This spirit germ drops out of the souls hands, so to speak, and unites with the physical germ, which organizes and forces the material that is offered into a human form.

Meanwhile, the soul is still in the sphere of the Moon, at the gateway to the Earth, and is clothed, as it were, in the astral body only. The experience of the loss of the spirit germ then urges the soul to contract the individual ether body out of the cosmic ether. Then at a certain moment, it stands in the sphere of the Moon, robed in the astral body and the ether body, and now it is ready to descend to the Earth and unite with the physical germ. This happens, as a rule, during the third week of the embryonic development, about the 18th day. Therefore, we must distinguish from the conception that moment when the soul draws together its own ether body out of the cosmic ether. This is the epoch that the ancient Egyptians recognized when they followed the Hermetic Rule, or Trutina Hermetis.

We shall now draw up the configuration of the heavens, at least in part, during the nine months of Beethovens prenatal development. This we shall regard as an image of the ether body of Beethoven, which was gradually incorporated into his physical body. Beethoven was born, as far as we know, during the night from the 15th to the 16th of December 1770. In that moment the Sun was just entering the sidereal constellation of Sagittarius (Fig. 4.1). On the basis of our computations of the date of the epoch, according to the Trutina Hermetis, we are led back to the time when the Sun was last in the sidereal constellation of Pisces, about March 22, 1770. During the following nine months the Sun moved through the Zodiac through the ecliptic in a near three-quarters circle. Apart from this, other things happened in the cosmos. For instance, the planet Saturn was moving through the sidereal constellation of Cancer. At the time of the epoch, Mars was opposite in the constellation of Capricorn. It was then actually exactly opposite the place where Saturn was at the moment of birth. (All this is taken on the basis of the geocentric view.)

   

   



Figure 4.1

   

We said that this prenatal chart was a picture of the ether body that united with the physical body. The ether body of the human being keeps the physical body alive for a lifetime. It combats the natural inclination of the physical-material substances to decompose, which is nothing else but the natural reaction of material substances that are dissolved, or swim, in water, as they do in a human body. Thus, the ether body has the task of keeping that human body integrated, of keeping it healthy, as we say. Therefore it must, in a sense, fall in, identify itself, with the spatial form of the physical organism. This we depict in the diagram by the path of the Sun, the three-quarters circle of the Sun. It is a perfect image of the embryo. Corresponding research work over decades has proved indeed that the embryo is depicted in its typical inverted form by the movement



Figure 4.2

 
In the diagram we have drawn the embryo out of the image of a human head in the background. Why did we do this? We want to infer here that, according to research, the embryo is in the beginning stages predominantly a head. The trunk and limbs are only seed points that develop and expand in later embryonic stages. In this sense the embryo appears as if it was born out of a head. Why should this be so? Why are the typical proportions of the human form not indicated from the beginning? We see deep spiritual reasons for this, associated with the facts that a human being encounters between two incarnations. When a human being dies, the spirit-essence of the physical body, which had formed matter into a typical human form, does not die. It separates from the physical-material body, remains intact, and is gradually transformed into the head of the following incarnation. How can we understand this? This we try to demonstrate in Fig. 4.2. We imagine a human being in the moment of entering the spiritual-cosmic world after death and, so to speak, expanding into the widths of space. Certainly, one would not look toward the Earth, and be inverted like the embryo. With a mighty gesture one would move out into the cosmos. We can only approximate this in the drawing. This human form of dynamic force that is totally extraverted is gradually transformed into the foundation of the head for the next incarnation. The head from the last incarnation cannot be taken along on the journey. It is left behind on the Earth because it is worn out. But the limbs of the last body become the jaws, the arms the upper jaw and the legs the lower jaw. The foundations of the new brain with its curvatures stem from the intestines of the last body, which are transformed and reappear in the curvatures of the new brain. All this is not carried over in a physical-material sense, but only as spiritually dynamic potential. Thereby is this spirit body of the last incarnation transformed into the potential form of the head of the next incarnation. It stands behind the embryo form. Out of this head, which is the remnant of a past incarnation, eventually grows the embryo and the new human form. That which in between had been transformed into the archetypes of the jaws now forms the new limbs, and the archetypes of the brain work into the trunk and the inner organs. However, this new form is inverted; it is looking down to the Earth, to that which is as the umbilical cord, the representative of Mother Earth.

We will now compare the cosmic facts that are combined with the archetypal head of Beethoven with a painting of him (Fig.4.1). The features, particularly the mouth, do not look like those belonging to a happy man. Rather he appears like someone who has a deep grudge. Yet there is also strong determination. We ask, what is the background of all this? We said that we see in the cosmic, prenatal configuration the image of the ether body, which carries the karmic memories of past incarnations, though they do not normally enter into full human consciousness. This is where we must seek the roots of all that is expressed in the features of Beethoven's countenance. Saturn was in Cancer, an old acquaintance from our series on Cosmic Christianity, at the time of the ministry of Christ. Hence, it is deeply connected with the mysteries of the evolution of the human race. During the three years of Christs working, He brought redemption to an Earth and to humanity that had fallen deeply. This deep Fall is expressed in the constellation of Cancer. Norse mythology speaks of it as the Twilight of the Gods, which means the twilight of the cognition of the gods by human consciousness. In ancient times the land of the gods, Asgard, was connected with the land of the humans, Midgard, by the Bifrost Bridge. This picture wants to tell us that ancient humanity had, however dim and dreamlike, an awareness of the divine-spiritual world. But the development of human egotism destroyed this awareness. The gods died in human consciousness. And thus the Bifrost Bridge that connected Asgard with Midgard was destroyed. This great story is associated in Norse mythology with the constellation of Cancer.

In Greek mythology this is somewhat described in the story of Prometheus, and here is the key we need. Spiritual science indicates that Beethoven was, in the dim past, incarnated as Prometheus. Prometheus, the son of the Titan Iapetus, decided to assist the human race. He stole the fire of heaven and brought it down to the Earth, to humanity. For that he was severely punished by Zeus. He was chained to a rock and a vulture was set to tear his side open and eat his liver. At night the liver grew again and provided another feast for the vulture. This is but another description of the nature of the constellation of Cancer. Therefore Prometheus had to suffer unending pain until much later when he was freed by Heracles. It sounds terribly unfair and atrocious that a man who wanted to help the human race by giving it access to fire should be given such a bad deal. To understand it, we must penetrate to the deeper meaning of this picture. The deed of Prometheus was a decisive step on the road toward the emancipation of humanity from the guidance and domination of the divine world. His punishment was the pain of being chained to matter and sickness. The traces of this fate we see in that physiognomy of Beethoven. He carried it all through his life. Yet, there is also that determination which seems to say: I shall go on to bring the fire of enthusiasm and will to the Earth and to humanity. Beethoven did so with his compositions, with the great symphonies, particularly the Ninth Symphony, which speaks even of the spark of freedom in human hearts. But following him also was that destiny of the past. He too was chained to the rock of earthly sickness and limitation. Before Saturn had returned, after 30 years, to the place where it was at his birth, he became deaf. This was a most severe destiny for a composer of his stature. Yet, he relentlessly carried on and bequeathed to humanity gifts of unsurpassed beauty and artistic power.

We see this destiny represented in the relationship of Mars and Saturn (Fig. 4.1). There is something going on like a tug-of-war between the two, a resurgence of mighty cosmic memories. Beethoven lived with this destiny. We daresay that he himself already before birth, had decided to take it upon himself in order to give humanity all the more fire. But the heavenly configuration at the moment of his death suggests that he had conquered it: Saturn and Mars were then (March 26, 1827) in almost the same positions of the Zodiac where they stood at the time of the Baptism of Jesus (heliocentric Saturn in the ascending nodal line of Jupiter, and Mars in its own ascending node). We see in this configuration a confirmation that Beethoven had eventually come closer to the real wellsprings of humanitys spiritual freedom, essentially close to the Christ Impulse. Now, we shall look at the other side of our relationship to the cosmos.

For this approach we will study another great personality in modern history, Raphael Santi, the great painter of the Renaissance. Raphael died on Good Friday in 1520, that is, April 6, 1520. At the moment of his death (see Fig. 4.3), the constellation of Scorpio was rising in the east. (The straight line indicates the plane of the horizon in the setting of the Zodiac.) Furthermore, on this date Jupiter had just entered Scorpio, and also the waning Moon was there, not far away. This is only a part of the total configuration at that moment, but it is all we need at this point. Scorpio with the poisonous sting is, in a sense, the image of death. Scanty records seem to suggest that in very ancient times humanity clairvoyantly perceived there instead the image of an eagle, a bird that hovers above, which can fly high above the Earth and survey the landscape widely. It was obviously an image of the clairvoyant capacity that ancient human beings had as a natural gift and that transcended the limitations of the temporal. With the loss of those dreamlike, instinctive faculties, the eagle, so to speak, fell deep and became the image of the scorpion with the deadly sting. Yet, this wonderful individuality, Raphael Santi, died under this aspect.

   



Figure 4.3

   

Why did this happen? It is a splendid exemplification of the fact that humanitys relationship to the cosmos has changed radically. We will be more and more called upon to contribute something new to the cosmos, essentials that did not exist in it before. This can mean redemption and new life even for the cosmos. This sounds impossible, but we can prove it, to a certain extent, with mathematical precision. When a human being dies, it means in practical terms that life goes out of the physical body. We do not see life as an abstraction. We recognize it as a separate organism, as the life or ether body that separates from the physical body at the moment of death. It works out of a universal memory of evolution, and it also assimilates the entire biography of the human being with whom it was connected. During the first three days after death, this ether body, which is now free from the task of keeping the physical body alive, is experienced by the soul as a tableau. It contains the details of the entire life. All the events that happened in the sequence of time appear to be collected up in simultaneity. After three days this vanishes from the sight of the soul. In other words, it is dispersed into the cosmos, it is absorbed into the etheric cosmos, which is the planetary world. The cosmos stands waiting for that which comes from the human being. On that Good Friday of 1520, the planets stood waiting for that which Raphael imparted to them as the fruits of his life.

This sounds like wild imagination. How can we prove it? For this we turn to Saturn. Saturn is the organ of cosmic memory, and thus it had already prepared that life tableau during the incarnation of Raphael. When Raphael died, Saturn was below the eastern horizon, in the constellation of Capricorn. By calculation we can know that at a certain moment in Raphaels life Saturn was in this same position, in 1491, and it memorized on a grand cosmic scale what happened on Earth and around Raphael. This is Saturn's technique for preparing the etheric tableau. Furthermore, we note that in 1514-15 Saturn was in the positions where Jupiter and the Moon were at the moment of death. In 1491, when Raphael was eight years of age, his mother died. This surely had a profound influence on his development. He no longer had an earthly mother. We can, however, imagine that the soul of the mother helped the growing child from the spiritual spheres of the heavens that she had entered. This decisive stage in Raphaels life was remembered by Saturn while it was in Capricorn. In 1514-15 Raphael went through an important phase of his life. He had been painting many pictures of the Madonna as we know, but in that period he painted the Sistine Madonna, which, in a sense, is the culmination of all his paintings of the Madonna. At the same time Saturn was standing in Scorpio. Among the million-fold events on the Earth in that moment, Saturn also looked upon the work of Raphael and collected it up into its great cosmic memory. Then at the moment of death first the Moon and then Jupiter stepped into the places of the Zodiac, the cosmic chronicle, in which Saturn had earlier written down those observations. They received these memories into their being. And now we are suddenly faced with a totally different picture of Scorpion. We know it as the image of the animal with the deadly sting. And now there appears in the heavens the image of the Divine Sophia. It may sound strange, but this is She whom Raphael


Figure 4.4

 
depicted in his paintings, particularly in the picture of the Sistine Madonna. She is not just an image of the earthly mother of Jesus. Obviously, She is the Divine Sophia, the Wisdom of the Gods who is carried, as it were, in the crescent of the Moon and reaches out to Jupiter, the planet of cosmic wisdom (Fig. 4.4). The death configuration of Raphael was a perfect signum of the Divine Sophia. Thereby an element of redemption was imprinted into the Scorpion through Jupiter, which may herald a change in the character of the constellation of Scorpio in times to come.

We can now ask and this is quite a legitimate question what is going to happen to this infusion into the sphere of Jupiter and Scorpio? Indeed, it appears to have been well preserved in the cosmos until souls who were prepared could pick up that impulse again and evolve it further. One such soul was the Russian philosopher Soloviev (1853-1900). When he was born, Jupiter was again in the constellation of Scorpio, or rather, during his prenatal development it had moved into that constellation. This we take as a suggestion that Soloviev may have taken up, on his return into incarnation, the impulse that Raphael had infused into that Jupiter and Moon in Scorpio. Can we find any confirmation of this? Yes, if we study the life of Soloviev, we get a most dramatic affirmative answer. He wrote a poem, The Three Meetings, which has been translated by George Adams into English. There Soloviev describes his three meetings with the Divine Sophia, or, as he calls her, the Hagia Sophia. As a child he was once standing in front of the picture screen of a Russian cathedral, which separates the altar room from the congregation. There he had for the first time a vision of the Divine Sophia. Later on he studied theology. He also visited England, and on one occasion, when he was sitting in the reading room of the British Museum, he again had a vision of the Divine Sophia. She told him, so he says, to go to Egypt, right into the desert, because there she would reveal herself to him in her full cosmic glory. Soloviev boldly set out for Egypt. People warned him of the dangers but he would not listen. He went out into the desert, a student of theology of those days, clothed in a long black coat and black top hat. Promptly, the Bedouins mistook him for the devil and nearly killed him. However, he survived and lay down during the night in the desert, which was alive with wild animals. Then, in the morning at sunrise he had the most glorious vision and conversation with the Divine Sophia. This experience followed him throughout his life, and through all his studies. His books on religion, on philosophy, and on Christianity bear witness to it and would possibly not have been written without that experience. Thus what Raphael had implanted into Scorpio through Jupiter came back. Soloviev was able, by virtue of his destiny and previous incarnations, to take it up and bring it down to the Earth. Certainly, he did not paint the Divine Sophia or the Madonna, like Raphael, but he experienced Her in his own ways and elevated Her in his soul.

Hence we have here an example that describes how the human race transforms the cosmos, how indeed the constellation of Scorpion has been permeated with wonderful moral imaginations. And yet, it is only a beginning. More and more will emerge as humanity moves toward the future. Even so, what we have described is not an isolated instance in our present age. There are many more examples that demonstrate the transformation of the Zodiac and of the planets. Death in the case of Raphael becomes spiritual birth. We see it as one of the tasks of a new cosmology to help raise the inner experiences of humanity to heights of precise and scientific cognition of the reality of the spiritual world. So far, we have described only one isolated aspect of the asterogram of death as it is connected with the first three days after death, with the absorption of the ether body into the cosmic ether. There is, however, more. One can recognize in such heavenly configurations the further progress of the soul after passing over, even the weighing of the possibilities of a future incarnation. All this is contained in such an asterogram of spiritual birth, and with diligent research one can find it. For instance, the time that elapsed between the incarnation of Raphael and of Novalis, the following incarnation of Raphael, was contained, as in a germ, in the latters star configuration at death. The 252 years, from 1520 to 1772, between the two incarnations are already indicated in the asterogram of 1520 of course, only as possibilities that were offered. The indication is actually of a threefold nature: Moon, Sun, and Saturn present, so to speak, their suggestions with regard to the future, each one in its own way of timing.

We are not an insignificant coincidence on the planet Earth. A spiritual and really modern cosmology and astrology can indeed reveal that the fruits of human endeavor on this planet can become significant, even creative, in the cosmos. During a 1ong interval of separation from the spiritual cosmos we attained selfhood. With this potential of realization of self, we can again raise ourselves to become citizens of the universe, standing firmly on the Earth and at the same time working with the forces of the universe. Just as we learned to cultivate the soil of this planet, so must we at least begin in our present age to cultivate, plant, and make fertile the fields of the cosmos. These are tremendous perspectives that call for heightened human responsibility and also for the will to work diligently toward the future, even if the present possibilities of realization appear to be so very small. If only a few human beings can under prevailing circumstances accept and live this, then we can have hope and confidence that the road of humanity toward the future will remain open.

   

   



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