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Cosmic Christianity

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The Workings of the Planets and their Spheres

In this chapter we shall take a look at the organization and the life of the solar system. Thus we may come to a more thorough understanding of the workings of the planets.

From its commencement, the modern age of science adopted the perspective of the heliocentric, Copernican conception, though Copernicus himself maintained that it was not anything new. He had been inspired by teachers who said that similar views had already existed in antiquity. In this sense, for the modern human being, the Sun is in the center of the universe. It is the biggest entity of all, according to this approach, and rules the entire family of the planets. However, we ask: What is the Sun? Obviously it is different from all the other members of the solar family. First, it was taken as a ball of fire, burning away on its surface the substances in its interior, which were either of a solid or of a gaseous nature. The modern age of atomic physics introduced the idea that atomic transformations, what we call on Earth atomic explosions, were taking place on the surface of the Sun. These are supposed to produce the effects that we experience as light and heat.

It sounds simple, in a sense, but the problems that beset all these ideas are gigantic. Basically, the question of where the fuel is coming from for this enormous output of energy is not really solved. Science has gone all out to suggest many kinds of atomic fission processes and reconstitution of the atom, but these ideas are not really satisfactory. Looking around for some possible explanation, we come across remarks by Rudolf Steiner concerning these problems. He confirmed, in a certain sense, that the processes on the surface of the Sun are a kind of super-combustion. But in his view this means the absolute termination of all space-substance reality in this universe. His fundamental difference from all other approaches is that he comes to the concept of a Sun whose interior is completely empty, i.e., all spatial-physical quality would be eliminated within the Sun. This is a concept that is difficult to grasp on a purely physical level, except on the basis of mathematics. It is a process of complete spiritualization. In this case the problem of fuel is solved. The Sun acts as a sort of super-vacuum, which not only draws in air from the periphery like a space-vacuum in earthly gadgetry, but also draws in everything that exists in space throughout the periphery of the solar system around the Sun. This substance is then the fuel that is spiritualized in the super-combustion process.

We will now try to discern the nature of the planets on the basis of such a solar system. We have in Fig. 6.1 a partial cross-section of the solar system, indicating the orbits of the planets, with the Sun in the center. This Sun then draws in toward its vacuum, by way of that super-suction, substances from the periphery. This substance must have undergone tremendous changes as they passed through the orbits or spheres of the planets on the way from the periphery. Having first moved through the orbits of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, i.e., through the corresponding spheres, they arrive eventually in the orbit of the Earth and its Moon. After that they move on toward the Sun through the spheres and planets Venus and Mercury. Naturally these ingredients that are drawn in by the Sun are gradually condensed on account of the narrowing of space. Ultimately, on the Earth, they are compacted into Earth-matter. We indicate this in the diagram by a rising curve, which indicates the increasing density of the substances that are derived from the sidereal ingredients, beyond the periphery of the solar universe (see chapter 3). This is described in greater detail in the book, The Drama of the Universe and is presented in Practical Approach I & II.

Figure 6.1

   

The idea of rising density, as we move from the periphery to the interior of the universe, is connected with the gravity on the planets. It is an established scientific-astronomical fact. If we take definite volumes of matter on the Earth, we get an average weight. This weight is caused by the gravity of the Earth, the pull from the center. On other planets the weight of average substance is less than on the Earth, but varies widely, as astronomy has discovered on the basis of gravitation. It is very low on Saturn, higher already on Jupiter, still higher on Mars. The highest weight is reached on the Earth. Beyond the Earth, toward the Sun, it decreases again. So the curve in our diagram breaks down. The entire picture gives the appearance, indeed, of a breaking wave. And on the surface of the Sun, the ingredients coming, for instance, from the Zodiac are then finally dissolved and spiritualized.

This gives us a splendid foundation to work out the nature of the planets. If we combine this at the same time with Rudolf Steiners indications concerning the experiences of the soul after death in passing through the spheres of the planets, we can indeed arrive at a perfect cosmography of the spheres. Moving through the sphere of Saturn, the soul experiences the archetypes of the astral world, not only astrality itself but also the archetypes of that world. Here on Earth we find, for instance, the manifestations of astrality in human emotions and also in other animated beings. They are worked out here on the purely physical, material level. We find the archetypes of this in the sphere of Saturn. For example, on Earth a great battle, a war, may take place. In that sphere of spiritual-cosmic archetypes, one would see the actual motivating forces, the astral forces, of physically invisible beings behind that which happens on Earth. On Earth we experience the results of mental and psychological motivation, even in the best sense. But on Earth we do not perceive the driving forces themselves. They have their home in the sphere of Saturn, but from there they permeate the entire solar universe, including the Earth. (We consider as the sphere of a planet that which is contained in its orbit. The visible planet is, as it were, like a Moon of the sphere.)

Thus the soul element that guides one, with regard to ones motivations, has its archetypal origin in Saturn. This astral element has even guided the soul into this incarnation. It also has a connection with previous incarnations with the results of previous incarnations. In this sense Saturn is the archetypal region of soul, or astral, motivation for all physical existence. Therefore Saturn is associated with the skeleton of the human form, with the motivating forces of the skeleton, which would be formless without them. Saturn works into the human organism in this fashion, preparing this skeleton astrally long before an incarnation, before physical-material realization. Similarly, it also prepares a skeleton of the entire incarnation, so to speak, a karma or destiny-skeleton, which contains the foundations, the outlines of that which a human being brings into the current incarnation as destiny caused by decisions during a past incarnation.

In the sphere of Jupiter after death and long before rebirth, we find the archetypes of the etheric world. Rudolf Steiner describes it in his book Theosophy as a fluid element that flows as enlivening, archetypal life forces through all living beings who have received their archetypal motivation for existence in the sphere of Saturn. Therefore the life or etheric forces, which work on Earth, need the actual fluid element as a vehicle. Without water there can be no manifestation of life. This Jupiter element is, in the form of life forces, a motivator of development and evolution. In a cosmically logical sense, that which may originally be only an idea is moved toward the future, toward some form of realization of that idea. Therefore this Jupiter activity in the human being appears as the capacity of thinking, the capacity for realizing ideas.

Then, in the sphere of Mars we enter a domain where we are already drawing close to the Earth. Now the motivating zodiacal ingredients have been getting denser and denser. Thus, in the sphere of Mars after death, we meet the archetypes of the physical object world. We are confronted with the truth concerning the physical objects and also with their illusory nature. When we descend again into incarnation, in this sphere we acquire the capacity to eventually face the world of physical objects that we meet on Earth. Thereby we can maintain our own integrity. In the end, the human being will be able to create speech, to develop speech, because speech is that capacity which can face the object world, can describe it by name. It needs a kind of aggressive attitude, which is mostly unconscious. We push, so to speak, the objects into their places and then withdraw, as it were, into our own integrity. Thereby we are able to use our sense organs and in the end describe the objects.

Before we come to the Earth we enter the sphere of the Moon, where now the final steps toward precipitating the ingredients of the sidereal periphery into material existence take place. It is in this sphere that the soul, shortly after death, experiences the major part of its purification, or Kamaloka, the equivalent of Purgatory. All the effects of the final incorporation into Earth matter that occurred at the moment of incarnation must be thrown off in this realm, because the deepest descent into matter had taken place here. On Earth we see the Moon moving through its phases, through the crescent of the waxing Moon, through Full Moon, and into the crescent of the waning Moon, until it disappears into New Moon. These are indications of what is happening in the sphere of the Moon. The crescent form suggests a vessel that at certain times receives cosmic substances, and at other times sheds them into cosmic space. Thus at certain times the Moon is turned away from the Sun. It is then exposed to the orbits of the three outer planets, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. This is the time when it is waxing and moving toward a Full Moon phase. Then it gathers in the cup of its crescent, as it were, the fullness of those cosmic ingredients that come from the sidereal periphery. They constitute the densified building stones necessary for physical Earth existence. This is the reason why the phases of the waxing Moon and the Full Moon are observed in agriculture as proficient times for planting, sowing, in fact for everything that needs acceleration of growth; because in that position the Moon can gather up the full supply of building stones and ingredients coming from the zodiacal-sidereal world. Then come the times when the Moon approaches the other side of the Earth, between the Earth and the Sun. It then goes through a waning phase, and eventually through New Moon, where it has been often proven that such a Moon is unlikely to accelerate the forces of growth. These are times that are far less proficient with regard to planting, sowing, and so forth. Why should this be so? Because we have stepped over to the side of the Earth that is already oriented toward the Sun, where finally the condensed and materialized ingredients of the sidereal world are step-by-step broken down, dissolved, and spiritualized. This periodicity of the Moon works in this sense even right down into the physiology of the human being.

We have now reached the crest of the cosmic wave and the point of its breaking down, from where it ebbs away toward the surface of the Sun. Though the planetary spheres of Venus and Mercury are still in between, they already show less density, or gravitational pull, than the Earth. Thus we have here a process of diminishing substantiality. One can regard them almost as spheres in which the final transmutation on the Sun is being prepared. In this way the human soul, when it moves through the spheres of Mercury and Venus before birth, receives capacities and potentials that enable it in incarnation to refine the life of the soul. Through Venus the human being receives the capacity, of course in degrees and according to karma, to refine its relationship to the environment, both human and beyond the human. Mercury does the same with regard to the human beings intelligent comprehension and actions arising from it. After death the soul is obliged to dissociate itself in these spheres from all-too-strong bonds in these domains of Earth existence.

We may ask ourselves: Why is this process going on? Why is the Sun placed in the heavens and engaging itself, first in drawing the ingredients of the sidereal world toward itself, then accumulating and densifying them until the process reaches a climax on Earth? All this only to break them down again? What is the meaning of it? The meaning of it we can indeed find on the Earth. We as human beings on the Earth are exposed to the physical-material world. It is present in our body, which we use as an instrument. It reaches a certain perfection, though it always seems to leave something to be desired. Then it declines again until we have to give the instrument back to the elements from which it was taken. However, this process, first of growing up and of densification and then of declining, or dissolution, becomes the foundation for the development of consciousness, even consciousness of self. By our meeting the physical-material world, we have a definite sum total of experience that we can only have in connection with our physical-material body. Through the impacts that we receive, consciousness, thinking, feeling, and willing are awakened in us. We live in a state of constantly being challenged, and this can become the road to spiritual freedom. We also participate in the reception of the densified ingredients coming in on the night-side of the Earth, which is temporarily turned away from the Sun. In other words, we participate in it through our bodies, when we are, as a rule, only in a sleeping or so-called unconscious state. Then with the rising Sun, we face a new day. We wake up and are supposed to be fully conscious. This means that we are gradually involved in a process of dissolving and spiritualizing that which streamed into the Earth at night. Through our labor, both manual and mental, we use up our bodies. They are slowly burned up. Thus in the daytime, as a rule, the opposite side of creation happens, the breaking down of substance, of matter, as it is present in the human body. Thereby consciousness is created; the very first indications of the final elimination and spiritualization on the Sun appear. This process is then continued in the spheres of the planets Venus and Mercury and concluded on the Sun.

Therein the meaning of the present stage of evolution reveals itself, which the occultist calls the great cosmic stage of Earth Evolution. The Earth, in a qualitative sense, is indeed the center of this universe, as much as we, on modern scientific grounds, insist that the Sun is in the center and the Earth only a planet moving around it. On the Earth we can, standing between the impacts of physical-material creation and dissolution, develop ego consciousness. Through the activity of this ego, working through thinking, feeling, and willing, we will eventually be able to lift up external creation to a level where it becomes the power of spiritual creation. In that moment, when this will have been achieved, the Earth will have fulfilled its task. This present universe will dissolve, and evolution will move on to the next stage, to Future Jupiter. This future stage will no longer consist of physical-material substance. As much as we can detect, for instance, in the geological layers of Earth, so much will future Jupiter also consist of layers, but they will be layers of thought. The geological layers of the Earth are witnesses to its past. The thought-layers of Jupiter will be witnesses to the thinking of present-day humanity.

The great process of creation that we indicated by the picture of the cosmic wave suggests that there may be an inner connection between the planets on either side of the Earth. In this sense, Venus would be the solvent of Mars. Mars eventually precipitates the cosmic ingredients into the physical object world. Venus then starts to lift them out of it again. Mars lays the foundation for the world that we perceive with our senses, which we investigate by means of a natural science. Thereby that hard-and-fast physical world is created in which we have to live. It is split up into uncountable millions of objects. Sometimes from harsh experiences, we know how often this split-up world causes frustration, antagonism, and aggression. In the midst of this, Venus stands as an expression and a focus of the cosmic forces of loving comprehension and understanding. These forces ultimately want to reunite this world that has been split up into numberless objects. The objects are the results of unfathomable ages of past evolution, which left the creatures in most varying and therefore unequal stages of existence. The forces of Venus intend to redeem this inequality and to lift up the created objects that were left behind, so to speak, to full and gratifying participation in the process of evolution.

As Venus can be regarded as the solvent of Mars, so Mercury is in a somewhat similar relationship to Jupiter. In Jupiter we see the representative of cosmic wisdom and cosmic intelligence. In and through Mercury, forces are at work that can help to transform this cosmic intelligence into human intelligence, which then radiates into the hands and feet of the human being.

Finally we come to the Sun, which is connected with Saturn in a deep sense. Saturn moves at the periphery of the solar system, in the sense that it stands at the portal through which the sidereal substances enter, first in a cosmic-psychic-astral form. Thus in the sphere of Saturn the processes leading to densification and eventual materialization are initiated; and on the Sun the final and complete reversal takes place. The spiritualized essence is then thrown back by the Sun, by its capacity as a fixed star, into the fixed-star realm, outside our solar universe. Thereby the two, Saturn and Sun, are at opposite ends of what we may call the solar process. And yet, considering their meaningful function, they complement each another.

Beyond the orbit of Saturn are those of Uranus, Neptune, and as far as our present knowledge goes, Pluto. These then belong to the realms where the sidereal ingredients have not yet been drawn into the suction stream toward gradual condensation. They are still in a higher, spiritual-archetypal form. Moreover, these are the spheres that would eventually receive the re-spiritualized essences, thrown out again by the Sun, after the process of dissolution of space-matter has been completed. Thus we can understand that those spheres are not immediately connected with the solar system. They are something like bystanders and try to speak to human beings about the invisible worlds, of the spiritual worlds of the divine hierarchies, of all that which is of an absolutely nonmaterial, even non-spatial, nature. If these messages are not received by human beings consciously, they can easily wreak destruction and thereby bring home the messages of the temporary nature of all Earth-material existence. Thus they would hope to bring humanity to a realization of the spiritual origin of all beings.

With this approach to the workings of the planetary world, we will now take a look at the configuration of the heavens at the moment of Leonardo da Vinci's incarnation (Fig. 6.2). He was born on April 15, 1452 (From Leonardo da Vinci, Phaidon Press, London).

From the beginning, the sphere of Saturn gives a significant implication. At the moment of Leonardos birth, Venus was almost precisely in the perihelion of Saturn. The perihelion of a planet is one of the descriptive astronomical elements of the corresponding sphere. It is the point where the planet, along its orbit, comes closest to the Sun. Opposite is the aphelion, where the planet is farthest away from the Sun. The connecting line between perihelion and aphelion is called the line of the apsides. These lines are not standing still but slowly move in relationship to the Zodiac. Thus the perihelion of Saturn entered the constellation of Gemini around 1400 AD, coming from Taurus.

Figure 6.2

   

The lines of the apsides made by the perihelion and aphelion of the planets are an indication of the inner mood, as it were, of the planet's association with the solar system. Through the perihelion the corresponding planetary sphere bends, so to speak, sympathetically to the concerns of the solar universe, unites with them. The aphelion of the sphere expresses more the tendency to leave the solar system, to move away and out into sidereal space. The Sun is then always able to persuade the planet not to leave the solar family altogether, by the power that we call, in a purely material sense, gravitational attraction.

Thus we can, with all due reserve, compare the perihelion part of the sphere to the head and sense organs of the human form, which enable the human being to bend to the world presenting itself through the senses. The aphelion part of the sphere could then be seen as being illustrated by the heart-limb-motion organism of the human form.

Saturn is the karmic mainstay, an expression of the cosmic soul-motives of a human being that are carried into an incarnation. At Leonardos birth, the planet Venus moved into the perihelion of this Saturn, as we said. Venus is connected in the human being with the relationship that is formed to the environment, in the widest sense, with ones particular integration into it. If this combines with the perihelion part of Saturn, it would indicate that Leonardo had built into his organism quite a special potential for a sympathetic and feeling relationship to his earthly environment. It would express itself in that sort of duality that is represented in the ingress of the perihelion of Saturn into Gemini since about 1400 AD. In Leonardos life this was present, on the one hand, as the great artist whom we admire. On the other hand, he was the scientist, at the dawn of the modern age, who occupied himself with a variety of scientific and technological projects. For instance, he tried to build airplanes for the first time, though he did not succeed very well.

The sphere of Jupiter was also strongly engaged. At the time of his epoch, Saturn was close to the aphelion line of Jupiter. (The moment of the epoch is calculated on the basis of the relative position of Earth, Moon, and Sun at birth. It leads back on the average to a moment about 273 days before birth, but it is not necessarily identical with the physical conception. We receive at that time in the sphere of the Moon, our ether or life-body.) This Jupiter sphere brings the sidereal ingredients one step closer to the final condensation into matter on the Earth. However, it keeps them still on a high level of cosmic-etheric existence. We can grasp them as ideas, through the power of thinking of which we are capable, at least as a start, by the nervous system being built into our organism. This is done with the workings of Jupiter. The perihelion of Jupiter is, since long ago and will be for a long time to come, in the constellation of Pisces. It is indeed connected with the long spell in evolution devoted to the development of thinking. The aphelion is in the constellation of Virgo. This is an expression of the need for the activation of thinking, so that it can eventually rise to intuitive thinking, to wisdom (Virgo, the three gates to wisdom see Chapter V).

The association of Saturn with the aphelion of Jupiter in Leonardos heaven of incarnation indicates that there was a strong potential for historic wisdom in him. This came to expression, for instance in The Last Supper, where in a practical way he depicted the association of the 12 apostles with the 12 constellations of the Zodiac in an unsurpassed fashion. This motif of Jupiter-aphelion-Virgo was further accentuated by a conjunction (heliocentric, of course) of Mars and Venus in that line during the embryonic development of Leonardo. One can well say that a note of healing was introduced, thereby, by the all-loving power of Venus into the sense-oriented tendencies of Mars. The artistic creations of Leonardo surely display this healing quality.

The sphere of Mars is connected with the last and decisive stage of condensation of the sidereal ingredients into matter. The elements of this sphere were also significantly engaged. At birth the planet Jupiter had arrived almost in the perihelion line of Mars, which is in Aquarius. It had entered that constellation in about 33 AD. Being in this line, Jupiter indicates here the potential for a deep wisdom, regarding the events during Christs ministry, from 30 through 33 AD. It seems that it was more than a traditional connection, one based on reincarnation. In this light the Last Supper appears in a significant perspective. Furthermore, around the epoch (see above), Mars was in the aphelion line of its own sphere. In this we would see a reflection of that sense of realism present in Leonardos life work, in everything he did.

We said earlier that we see in Venus and its sphere the solvent of Mars. Through the impulses of love and compassion it works toward the reunion and healing of that which has been thrown by Mars into isolation and materialization. This impulse was also strong in Leonardos work, and this is indicated by the planet Jupiter in the aphelion of Venus and in Capricorn, during the earlier stages of the embryonic development. Jupiters wisdom appears here as a mediator between the spheres of Venus and Mars. (Jupiter was in the perihelion of Mars at birth; see above.) This was associated with Leonardos apparent great love of the Earth and all its properties, signified by the position of the Earth in the aphelion line of Venus around the time of the epoch. One feature of this life of the Venus sphere is very significant. During the embryonic development of Leonardo, a superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun took place, seen from the Earth. These conjunctions recur in intervals of eight years, with intervening conjunctions after four years of the reverse order, i.e., inferior following superior ones, and vice versa (see chapter 1). Thus the superior conjunction of Venus during Leonardos incarnation, which was significantly in its own aphelion, is historically connected with the last days before the Mystery of Golgotha, April 3, 33 AD (see Cosmic Christianity). Then Venus was in an inferior conjunction. These inferior conjunctions are connected with the bringing down of cosmic Venus qualities into Earth existence, such as in the raising of Lazarus. The superior conjunctions reflect the gathering-up of the corresponding qualities in cosmic space.

The sphere of Mercury reflects a possible spiritual potentization of the qualities of Jupiter, for instance, in human intelligence and activity. We would expect that this sphere also indicated some remarkable potential in Leonardos heavens of incarnation; and indeed, we can discern some outstanding features. Around the time of the birth, Mercury was close to its own aphelion in the constellation of Scorpio. The latter is deeply associated with the descent of humanity into realms of spirit-removed material consciousness. This is, in a sense, a death process, and this is what the poisonous sting of the Scorpion indicates. This was necessary for the accomplishment of the spiritual independence and freedom of the human being. However, out of freedom the human being must, and will, in the future find the road that leads back to a realization of the spiritual world and the beings dwelling in it. Otherwise humanity would lose its integrity and meaning in the cosmic process. Thus the sphere of Mercury is an expression of tremendous battles in which humanity is involved, battles that concern the development of intelligence. The question is whether humanity will be able to lift it up to cosmic intelligence and realization beyond mere existence in matter, or will fall ever deeper into earthbound and short-sighted intellectualism, which would tear the human being down into the abyss of nonexistence as a self. The final stages of this battle will occur in the future, signified by the visions of the Apocalyptic Horsemen (Revelation VI), particularly by the Red Horse. The vernal equinox will by then have arrived in the equivalent of the present constellation of Scorpio.

This great battle lived in Leonardo too, though in a hidden way. We get glimpses of it if we listen to the story of his work on the Last Supper. The execution of the painting of Judas, the traitor, caused him great pain and reluctance. This resulted in a long delay in the completion of the painting, so much so that the abbot of the monastery, which was to treasure it, accused Leonardo of deliberately dragging his feet.

Finally, we have to look at the Sun, which we said is the complement of Saturn. However, in the case of the Sun as the fixed star, we have no elements of a sphere. In a sense, its sphere is the totality of the solar universe. Therefore it can throw the re-spiritualized ingredients of sidereal origin right back to the periphery. But we realize one thing, if we take a close look at what we called the solar process, the planet Earth is the qualitative center of the sphere of the Sun. There the highest degree of densification and the inauguration of the dissolution take place. Thus we can see in the elements of the Earth orbit an indication of the life of the Sun sphere. These are the perihelion and aphelion of the Earth, which are at present oriented toward Gemini and Sagittarius. This means that we can see in the line of the apsides of our own planet an expression of potentials toward realizing and lifting up to our I experience what is inaugurated by the sphere of Saturn as cosmic-psychic challenge.

We find in the incarnation configuration of Leonardo that Mars stepped into the elongated aphelion of the Earth at the time of birth. It had started out, at the epoch, in the neighborhood of its own aphelion. The aphelion of our planet is, at present, only 10 distant from that of Saturn. They are on the way toward moving closer together, but the two lines will not coincide before about 6000 AD. Thus we have here elements that refer us to the last stages of the present epoch of human evolution, the so-called post-Atlantean Epoch that started about 7000 BC, with the Ancient Indian civilization, and which will come to an end in about 7900 AD.

The fact that Mars was in the aphelion of the Earth at Leonardos birth implies a significant potential in his life. On the surface it looks like a defect. In his own opinion he was not able to realize his intentions to full completion. His earthly deeds were attempts in definite directions, but we must look at them from long-range standpoints for the future. Leonardo was, in a sense, preparing the far future stages of human realization. Although this spells out imperfection with regard to the present, it harbors great hopes for the future. In this lies the greatness of Leonardo, his significance for present humanity, the fulfillment of that promise contained in the combination of Venus with the perihelion of Saturn at his birth.

This is meant only as an example to demonstrate how we can positively and constructively take the spheres of the planets as efficient means of interpreting the relationship between the cosmos and the human being. It should not be regarded as a fully comprehensive delineation.

   

   



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