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Cosmic Christianity

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Turning Points in History II

As a conclusion to this weeks work, we shall try to discern the significance of the present century and its possible projection into the future. Last night we mentioned one of the major events in the beginning of this century, which somehow seemed to signify its character. To this we will add two more features, one in the beginning of the century, which almost coincided with that opposition of Pluto and Uranus in 1902, and another one exactly at the end of the century. In 1901 a Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter took place (Fig. 8.1).

   

Figure 8.1

   

This happened in the constellation of Sagittarius. In 2000 another such event, also a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, will take place somewhere in the transition from the sidereal constellation of Aries to that of Taurus. These are two of the three possible conjunctions that form the Great Triangle, which has been mentioned earlier. It is one of the hands on the cosmic clock that we need in order to gauge time, in a cosmic as well as in a historical sense. Each one of these conjunctions recurs at intervals of 60 years. For instance, the one in 1901 returned in 1961. The one to come in 2000 previously happened in 1940-41. Furthermore, we notice that the one in 1961 was further forward in the ecliptic than its predecessor in 1901. Likewise the conjunction of 1940 was further back because it preceded the one in 2000. Thus the triangle turns very slowly forward, such as the hands of a clock that we use to gauge time.

We can also go back in history and find that the Great Conjunction of 1901 leads us right back to a similar event in 6 BC, to an ancestor of the one in 1901. Because of the forward movement of the triangle we find it in the constellation of Pisces in 6 BC. This was the Great Conjunction, the conference of Saturn and Jupiter, which announced the Fulfillment of Time, the birth of Jesus, who was eventually to become the vehicle of the Christ. Much more is to be said about this. We have worked out the details and report on them in Cosmic Christianity.

The event in 2000 AD can also lead us back into the past. Eventually we find an ancestor in the year 34 AD, which is one year after the Mystery of Golgotha. The Great Conjunction happened then in the sidereal constellation of Leo. From Leo in 34 AD, it moved all through the Zodiac, and by 2000 it will arrive near the ingress from Aries into Taurus. The year 34 seems to have coincided with the conversion of St. Paul. Thus we have in these conjunctions an inspiring pattern of events. The opening of the 20th century is accompanied in the cosmos by a conjunction whose ancestor was associated with the Annunciation in 6 BC. Rudolf Steiner realized this in the inauguration, or announcement, of Anthroposophy. Then at the end of the present century, as far as we can gauge, would stand the cosmic memory of 34, the conversion of St. Paul. These are, from one angle, the foundations of the present century. It seems to be important to bear this in mind. However, how is all this connected with the future? How can this possibly guide humanity?

In order to find an answer, we must look at the present century from a broader aspect. We say we are at present still in the Age of Pisces, and we are moving very slowly toward the Age of Aquarius. What do we mean by this assertion? The beginning of the year is not, in a cosmic sense, on the first of January. The actual astronomical commencement of the year should be seen as the time of the vernal equinox, when the Sun is exactly at the crossing point of the celestial equator and ecliptic, about March 21-22. We know that the fixing of Easter is closely associated with this: after the commencement of spring the vernal equinox and after the first Full Moon following it, Easter will be on the succeeding Sunday. Thus the position of the Sun at the vernal point should be regarded as the moment of the commencement of the year of 365 days. It is much more than only a convenient way of organizing the yearly calendar.

At present we would see, with efficient astronomical instruments, behind that Sun around the 21st of March, the fixed stars of the constellation of Pisces. This was not so 2,000 years ago. Then the Sun was standing in front of the constellation Aries at the time of the vernal equinox. In fact, it was just moving over from Aries to Pisces. This is called the movement of precession in astronomical language. The fixed-star constellations shift very slowly forward in the ecliptic, away from the spring equinox of the Sun. Thus the constellation of Pisces has moved into the place of Aries, and soon the constellation of Aquarius will replace Pisces. In about 1600 years time the star Eta, in the urn of Aquarius, will be seen behind the Sun around the 21st of March.

However, the Sun will actually be seen much earlier in that constellation of Aquarius. In about 400 years time the Sun of the vernal equinox will already be above the region of the water that the Waterman pours out of the pitcher or vessel. This stream of water is indicated by a number of very faint fixed stars (Fig. 8.2). In about 2369 AD, the vernal point will have moved to a point above this stream of water. One of the Fishes will still be above it. We can say that a double aspect is indicated, which we shall have to face then in 400 years time. At present some people seem to be in a great hurry and maintain that the vernal point is already in the Waterman. However, this contradicts the astronomical facts, on the basis of the generally acknowledged maps of the fixed-star heavens. Our contention that the ingress will happen only in approximately 400 years' time has been confirmed by Cyril Fagan, an astrologer and astronomer, who is very precise and correct in his calculations.

   

Figure 8.2

   

Thus we shall then have, during the 24th century, what we might call a three-cornered proposition in the cosmos: There will be the waters of the Waterman below the ecliptic, above it the western Fish, and still higher the constellation of Pegasus. This situation will have to be prepared by humanity, in the sense that a new, future cosmology will require that we speak actively and creatively to the stars. The cosmos in which we live has exhausted itself in the past stages of creation to the point where it only reflects and remembers the deeds of the divine world in the past, such as those written in a great chronicle. Now it has become our responsibility to rise to such levels of moral imagination and intuitive thinking that, eventually, we will be able to contribute to the reawakening and even re-enlivening of the cosmos. It is the still very small starting point of a new creation. This is what St. Paul meant when he spoke of the First Adam, the first creation, and the Second Adam, the creation that can commence when we take the Christ Impulse into our own being.

We can well ask: How can we be expected to prepare for all this? The danger is that nothing may happen in humanity. Then these Aquarius forces would no longer create, but destroy. Aquarius has two sides in mythology: one is connected with floods, the other with the fertilization of the earth. In Chaldea it was associated with the mighty flood described in the epic of Gilgamesh. In Grecian mythology Aquarius was identified with Deucalion and his wife, Pyrrha, the only survivors of a great flood in Thessaly. Therefore humanity itself must make a start from moral imagination and intuitive thinking, in order to prepare. This can only be done by fulfilling first the tasks of the Piscean Age. The Piscean Age is not yet at an end. In the sense of spiritual culture it has barely begun. We cannot hope to enter the Aquarian Age safely before having comprehended the tasks of the Piscean Age. What are these tasks? We can no longer read the requirements and expectations in the stars. The doing must come from us ourselves, and can come from us only. We find above Pisces (Fig. 8.2) the constellation of Andromeda. She is chained to a rock and is threatened by a terrible monster down below Pisces. This is Cetus, the Whale. It is a rather formless, watery creature of the great sea below this part of the Zodiac. Andromedas mother, the queen Cassiopeia, had angered the God of the sea, and in revenge he sent that monster, Cetus, to the kingdom. It ravaged the region terribly. An oracle said that only one thing would help to free the country from this calamity, the sacrifice of Andromeda. So, she was exposed to Cetus, in order to be eaten up by it. However, just at the moment when Cetus approached there came help from above. Perseus came flying home from an expedition on which he had killed another monster Medusa in the far north. Cetus and Medusa belonged to a generation of monsters who were once beautiful beings. But getting old, surviving into a later age, they became ugly and dangerous. Medusa was capable of transforming everything into rock that looked into her eyes. Perseus, however, was a child of the Age of Aries that is the Greco-Latin Age. He had learned to think, a capacity that manifested so wonderfully in the later philosophers of Greece. Thus Perseus did not approach Medusa directly. He turned round and observed the face of Medusa in his shield, which was polished and blank like a mirror. He approached her without being converted into a rock, and cut off her head. On the way home he saw at once the danger to which Andromeda was exposed. Instantly he took out of his bag the head of the Medusa and held it in front of the approaching Cetus. In one moment the monster was transformed into a huge rock. Indeed in later times, a big black rock off the coast of Phoenicia was supposed to have been once upon a time the body of Cetus.

These myths contain truths of evolutionary import. What does it mean that Andromeda is chained to a rock and sacrificed to a monster? This monster was a sea creature, formless, gigantic, and dangerous. Who rescued her? It was Perseus, who had developed the power of thinking. Down there, in Cetus, thinking was not represented. Cetus was something that had become atavistic and formless, something that was connected with the sea. It was an ancient, etheric clairvoyance that had not gone along with the evolution of human consciousness and therefore was dangerous, though intriguingly voluminous. It threatened Andromeda, who must be regarded as an image of the human soul. This is a message that especially concerns our present age. Andromeda is above Fishes, the constellation that inspires the present spring equinox. There is one star on the forehead of Andromeda, just in this region of the Jupiter chakra the two-petalled lotus which is, according to esoteric conceptions, an organ of higher perception described in Rudolf Steiner's Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. Andromeda has this star in common with Pegasus. It is also in one of the wings of Pegasus, and it looks on classical star maps as if Pegasus was rising out of the head of Andromeda. The myth expressed in this is: Andromeda, the soul of humanity particularly concerned with the Age of Pisces, has the impulse to develop the capacity associated with the two-petalled lotus. It is the raising of thinking to a higher level, to a clair-thinking, as I might tentatively call it, clair-thinking suggesting the modern equivalent of clairvoyance. In the sense of the image of Pegasus this is winged intelligence, or cosmic intelligence.

Andromeda was rescued by the newly acquired capacity of the Aries Age, the power of thinking. The ability to think with the brain had to be evolved first before progress to clair-thinking will be possible; and then the atavisms of the Cetus-nature can be overcome. This is the task of the present Age of Pisces. It is not too pessimistic to say that we have not yet achieved that aim. Dr. Steiner brought the message to present humanity already in 1893 when he published the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. This is the foundation and starting point from which we can proceed to evolve that moral imagination and intuitive thinking that modern humanity needs so very badly. When we look around, everywhere, in all fields of human life, we find the same phenomena: we are working with worn-out concepts, with a thinking that is coming from the past, in many instances still derived from Roman times, particularly when it comes to political concepts, the concepts that are supposed to form human community. Therefore, so many things go wrong, simply because we dont have constructive and new, independent ideas. Only when we have developed these new approaches to thinking can we hope to move safely into the Age of Aquarius.

What will the Age of Aquarius require? Here we have to consider several things. The civilization of Aquarius will need to handle and evolve the Saturn forces, that is, the forces and power of Gnosis in a cognitional sense. Why should this be so? The planets have their definite domiciles in the Zodiac. For instance, Jupiter is at home in Pisces. This means that the particular quality of this planet must be developed during the present age. An example of a positive development of such qualities was Goethe. He was deeply connected with the constellation of Pisces and Jupiter at the moment of his incarnation. The thinking that Goethe developed, how he evolved his relationship to the world, stands as witness. In the sphere of science it was the archetypal plant. In other realms, for instance in his poetry, he created an archetype of the modern human being in the image of his Faust. Goethe was truly a member of the Age of Pisces, carrying Jupiter to a certain point of fulfillment with all that he did.

However, the times of the presence of the vernal equinox in Aquarius, in Capricorn, and also still further in the future, will see the last civilizations of this present cycle of the seven civilizations of the post-Atlantean Epoch. Both will be challenged by Saturn as the planet who has its domicile in these constellations. In order to comprehend the challenge of Saturn, we would have to go right back to Ancient Saturn (see Dr. Steiner's Occult Science). Of course, we do not suggest that on Ancient Saturn there already existed a Capricorn or a Waterman. However, in their places there were dwelling hierarchical, divine beings who inaugurated the evolution of humanity and of the world. For instance, in the Capricorn of today, we would read the story of spiritual beings creating the very first etheric germs of the sense organs. And Aquarius tells a similar, though slightly different, story. As this constellation appears in the heavens nowadays, it is only the chronicle of those events in the very dim past. Thus is Saturn, which is a memory-replica of Ancient Saturn, connected with Aquarius. We will have to evolve so that we can eventually employ these forces as our own. In order to prepare for this, we have to cultivate now, in this age, the Jupiter forces first. Then we will be able and can proceed to develop the Saturn forces at some future time.

What will actually be the task of the Waterman Age then? Indian mythology connects Waterman with the God Varuna. According to the description, Varuna is the equal, or pre-image, of Ahura Mazdao of later Persian civilization. Ahura Mazdao of Persian times was the Aura of the Sun, not the Sun that we see in the sky, but its aura, actually all the Sun activity that penetrates the totality of the solar system. This Light Being in the heavens is opposed by Ahriman, who dwells deep down in the center of the Earth. He is the spirit of darkness. Persian civilization was built on this great imagination. Zarathustra had thus inaugurated a civilization that worked in all fields of life with these tremendous concepts. For instance, organized agriculture was founded on it. The soil of the Earth was opened up with the plough in order to let the light of the cosmos, of Ahura Mazdao, stream into the dark earth, so that the plants which constantly overcome the darkness of the earth could grow. Their roots reach into the soil, while their stems, leaves, and flowers grow toward heaven. Thus they imitate and manifest the heavens on Earth. The God Varuna of Indian civilization is described by A. L. Basham in his book The Wonder that was India as follows: Varuna is sitting in a great palace in the heavens. He is the guardian of Rita. (In Indian writing this is spelled Rta.) Rita is the Order of the Great cosmos. All the great rhythms of the cosmos, day and night, down to the change of the seasons are carried and caused by this Rita, the Cosmic Order. Also humanity must live according to Rita. In later India non-Rita, the opposite of Rita, or cosmic order, became the commonest word for untruth, sin, and anti-order.

Varuna, the great Guardian of the Cosmic Rita, rides across the heavens on a steed. In Indian mythology this is associated with Capricorn, the Makara, sometimes depicted as a sea monster. Of course, these are ancient imaginations, and our age must find new ways and learn to speak again a language of the stars that modern humanity will understand. We must learn to comprehend the meaning of Rita in a modern, even scientific sense. It is the world of the etheric forces, the formative forces, working from the cosmos into Earth existence and creating life in nature and in the human being. This will be the great task of the Waterman Age. Cosmic water will have to be handled very consciously, not only earthly water, though this is certainly connected with the life forces in nature. This will be possible only on the basis of a creative, intuitive, thinking. The handling of the evening and morning forces, which we mentioned earlier and which is done in Europe even for practical purposes, are the very first steps in this direction. Human beings of that future will learn to receive the cosmic forces into their hands and work with them, bringing growth and healing into the kingdoms of nature, including the kingdom of humanity.

In order to accomplish these great tasks, we have to learn one thing first, which is the potential capacity that we see indicated in the cosmos by the image of Andromeda. We must attain that intuitive thinking and moral imagination of which we spoke earlier, and which is connected with the development of the two-petalled lotus. The present age is already moving toward this. That initiatory Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the year 1901 in the constellation of Sagittarius suggests it. Just as we can study the past history of this Great Conjunction, so we can also go forward toward the future. Thus we discover that in a few hundred years time, this event will take place in Aquarius. First, in the course of the next century, it will move into Capricorn, and after that into Aquarius. Therefore our present century stands as one of the more significant ones since the time of Christ. We are in a position at present where the Great Conjunction of the Annunciation, descended from its ancestor of 6 BC, has reached a certain climax. Rudolf Steiner obviously perceived this clearly at the beginning of the century. He did speak to the stars, and his speech was Anthroposophy. In 1901 when that conjunction took place in the heavens, he commenced with two extensive cycles of lectures: From Buddha to Christ (given in a group called Die Kommenden), and Christianity as Mystical Fact (given at the Theosophical Library in Berlin). [Both are now published in book form.] We must expect that this conjunction will go through the coming centuries, standing in the heavens as a perpetual challenge, as the external signs of conferences between the spiritual beings who are associated with Saturn and Jupiter. And they will say: We look toward humanity what will this humanity do? How will this humanity react to the challenges? Our answer can only be the relentless and patient development of what Dr. Steiner entrusted to humanity during the first quarter of the 20th century.

One of the first books written by Rudolf Steiner was Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, and about 12 years before that he published The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, or The Philosophy of Freedom. His intent with these publications and all the activities that followed was to show ways that would eventually lead to a scientific breakthrough to spiritual perception, to a new awareness of the higher worlds, which are closed to the physical senses. Thus modern humanity can rise to new levels of experience and of capacities by which we can master our life on this planet in a constructive and positive fashion. By no means did Dr. Steiner at any time want to satisfy personal curiosity, or even desires for entertainment. He did everything from the realization that the entire cosmos is looking down on present humanity and expecting ideas and deeds that will bring the world forward, to continue the great work of creation that the hierarchies began long ago. Thus, indeed, has the significance of the 20th century been made manifest by Rudolf Steiners life-work: a humanity standing at the crossroads of spiritual freedom, a freedom that it must learn to employ in order, in the however distant future, to rise to the ranks of the creative powers of the universe.

   

   



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