FIRST LETTER - April 1944
Structure of the Solar Universe
It is the intention of these
astronomical letters to elaborate the relationship between the starry
universe and the Earth. The human being as the main representative of
the Earth will be chiefly the subject of consideration, but also the
other kingdoms of nature will be considered. Of course, it is altogether
a vast field, and we in our age are limited in our knowledge. Yet, thanks
to the key knowledge that was given by Rudolf Steiner, it has been possible
during more than twenty years of quiet and persistent work to gather
many facts about those relationships. Taken together, these facts are
already forming an organism that is still in its early childhood but
may become the seeds for further and more elaborated investigations
in the coming centuries and millenniums.
First we will have to establish
through these letters a clear insight into the structure of our solar
universe and its relationships to the starry worlds beyond our own universe.
Then we shall have to speak about the constellations that we perceive
in the sky. Mainly we will have to consider the constellations of the
Zodiac, and we will have to find out their spiritual nature as it is
connected with the evolution of Earth and humanity. After that, the
world of the planets — the moving stars — will be considered.
This will be done mainly in connection with the human being's
life after death and before birth. We will also have to take into account
the relationship between the planets and the life of nature, as far
as science has been able to prove this fact. In connection with humanity,
the problem of necessity or fate and the realm of human freedom will
then arise. In the end we shall have to inform ourselves about the relationship
between the stars and humanity as a whole and also about the future
evolution of the planet on which we live.
The question arises, by
what name should we call the kind of knowledge for which we intend to
search in these letters? To call it astronomy wouldn't be correct,
because the mathematical facts of the starry world will be dealt with
only as much as this is necessary. Neither can it be called astrology,
because it will not become a foundation for horoscopic practices in
the sense of astrology as it is performed today. We need to study the
spiritual background of the relationship between the stars and the Earth
with its inhabitants. We may call it astrosophy. What is astrosophy?
Movement is the essence
of the world of the stars. Everything is moving in the sphere surrounding
the Earth. We enter a gigantic world of rhythms when we look into the
manifoldness of the starry heaven.
There is the rhythm of day
and night. The whole firmament seems to be revolving around its heavenly
axis within 24 hours. This is one of the fundamental movements in the
universe that creates the change of day and night. We are taught by
modern astronomy that this revolution is brought about by the daily
rotation of the Earth around its axis. Only the observers on Earth perceive
it reversed, as if the firmament were rotating.
Then we can observe the
rhythms of the Moon, the change of the phases from New Moon to Full
Moon and back to New Moon. We know by observation that this rhythm takes
place roughly within a month.
If we go farther out into
the universe, we will find longer rhythms, such as those of Venus and
Mercury. There is the rhythm of the Sun and the time in which it takes
to move through the Zodiac. We call this rhythm a year. Again we are
told by modern astronomy that this movement of the Sun during one year
is an illusionary one. It is the Earth that moves around the Sun during
one year, and we on Earth perceive the Sun in different parts of the
sky during this circular movement of our globe. Still farther on we
find the rhythms of the so-called superior planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,
and the lately discovered planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Here
we find rhythms that extend over tens, even hundreds of years.
Besides this, we can find
changes in the structure of our universe that also go on in long rhythmical
intervals. They comprise whole ages of human and earthly evolution,
thousands and even tens of thousands of years. We know that the fixed
stars are also moving, although these movements would, for the most
part, only become visible to the naked eye in intervals of time that
are beyond the grasp of ordinary human time conception.
Hence movement is the foundation
of the world of the stars. We can look at this world of movement in
different ways. We can regard it as a gigantic mechanism. The facts,
which we find in the universal movements, do indeed inspire this idea.
We can calculate the movements, and we can even pre-calculate the rhythms
of the stars. The discoveries of Pluto and Neptune were achieved by
the application of pure mechanical laws to our universe. And yet, the
idea of a universe as a mechanism comes to grief at a certain point.
We can compare it with a rotating motor. The movements of the moto —
its behavior — can be calculated. Every detail can be explained
by mechanical laws. But it would not move an inch, not even a single
screw of it would exist, if the human mind had not invented it. The
gigantic work of the inventors in the realm of mechanics has created
each single detail of the motor. The human mind is the true origin of
the motor and without it the motor would not exist.
How is it in our universe?
This mechanism of innumerable movements exists, but who has created
it and put it into rotation? A mechanism cannot create itself, otherwise
it is no longer a mechanism. There must have been something like a gigantic
planning mind or even a congregation of such minds, before any universe
could have been created.
From this we are led to
another outlook. Just as the motor is an expression of the capacities
of the human mind, even perhaps of its weaknesses, so our universe can
be regarded as the expression of a world of inner life — if not
We see the human being moving.
All the movements of the limbs can be explained in terms of physical
and mechanical laws. Still, there is always a reason why a human being
moves his limbs. He has intentions to do something or to go somewhere.
There is an inner life; a soul life behind the visible movements of
the body; a life that gives reason and justification to these movements.
So we may look at the single
star, we calculate its movements, rhythms, and many things connected
with its general condition and its relationships with other stars. But
then we must go one step farther and find the inner cause of its particular
behavior. We must find the soul life of the star that has created it
and has its expression in the so-called mechanical laws.
We will probably not find,
within its own realm of inner life, reasons for the movements of the
single star. We must perhaps search in the realm of the community of
stars. In the communities of humanity, the single being has his or her
own world of soul qualities causing movement and activity. Still, the
actions of the single being come into contact with those of other human
beings. Moreover, these actions make sense only when they are related
to the whole community life. In fact the common ideals of the community
are the measure of the activity of the single being.
In the same way, each star
has its own world of soul movement, which causes its visible movements,
making it a useful and creative member of the universe. Further, it
is also related to its fellow stars. Seen from the Sun as the center
of our universe or even seen from the Earth, the planets sometimes meet
in a certain way, or they may separate and go into opposition to each
other, and so on. All these activities are related to the whole solar
system and to the Sun, especially, as its center. Thus the single planet
must take part in the common aim of the whole solar universe.
To learn to know —
of course starting with the simple facts — the soul world of the
single star, the social life of their communities, their common ideals
and goals — this is astrosophy. We are not only searching for the
soul world of the stars that is the manifestation of their beings and
activities within a limited time, but we will also have to gain some
knowledge about their spiritual life. Only then can we understand their
full being. Their spiritual life would be: their history (their biographies,
so to speak), their struggles and achievements, and their destiny in
regard to the future.
The question may arise:
Why should we as human beings on Earth strive for such a knowledge of
the stars as has been outlined? The world of the stars may form an interesting
subject of study, but aren't the stars too far away to be able
to affect our life on the Earth?
Our planet is a part of
the whole star community, and just as the activity of the Moon influences
the rhythm of the tides, we can also find that the organism of the Earth
is influenced by all the stars of the celestial community. This may
be found through different kinds of observation. We as human beings
live on this star-influenced Earth; therefore, whether we like it or
not, we take part in the life of the whole universe.
As earthly people, we have
the natural tendency to submerge into the world of our human horizon.
In the main this horizon comprises very little of the great universe.
It may be only the world of our small personal wishes, wants, or ambitions.
It may also be a philosophy or religion that may unite us with different
groups of humanity, or again, it may separate us from the rest of humanity.
It may also consist of the part we may play in the life of the nation
or race into which we are born. We know that very often — one might
even say always — these differentiations lead to the quarrels and
wars. If we only live within the small horizon of our human world, then
the danger arises of a narrowness of outlook toward life. This narrowness
of our soul life may easily lead to the misjudgment of our own affairs
within the framework of the whole universe.
However, if we are able,
at least from time to time, to confront ourselves with the world of
the stars, with their soul life, their spiritual life, and we may grow
in our being beyond the world of our own problems and comparatively
small and unimportant matters. We may then be able to put ourselves
consciously and more appropriately into the stream of evolution of our
whole universe. If only we would sometimes do this, we could enter a
world of grand cosmic ideals and spiritual goals that would not divide
humanity into groups of religious or philosophical beliefs, race, theories,
and the like. The stars would teach us that the ties binding the human
being to the realms of life, as for instance: family, nation, race,
or even a certain religion, are justified as long as the boundaries
of these realms are not overstepped and do not overrule other spheres
of human life.
The appropriate place for
the philosophy of idealism in our human world, as well as that of realism,
or even materialism, would then be discovered. In the universe, all
these life conceptions and life attitudes are kept in correct and peaceful
order within the soul life of the starry world. It is only we human
beings who very often suffer from narrowness and shortsightedness, and
who cannot find the correct order in our own soul world. This disorder
is then reflected in the quarrels and wars amongst humanity.
The stars, if we look at
them deeply and unveil their mysteries, can unite humanity. They shine
on all people. All the phenomena in the universe of the stars concern
all humanity in the same undifferentiated way. There is no distinction
like the distinctions brought about on Earth through the necessity of
living under certain social or geographical conditions. In the course
of time, the whole surface of the Earth, and with it humanity, receives
the light and the teaching of all the stars.
Thus the gateway is opened
to the world of true peace and freedom, or freehood. The world of true
peace, because this is where we can learn to know the intentions and
evolutionary goals of the Gods. The application of this knowledge to
our daily life, step by step, can bring us true peace and the world
of true freehood, because it frees us from the fetters of our small
and narrow earthly matters and problems. Therefore astrosophy, as a
new wisdom of the stars, will even in the future become a necessity
within the realm of the spiritual culture of humanity.
The Structure of Our Solar System
Before we start to find
out the details of the soul and spiritual world that are manifest in
the cosmos, we must create a certain knowledge of the physical structure
of our solar universe and its connection with the worlds in the depths
of the celestial space. We must form clear concepts about the rhythms
of the stars and their arrangement or order in space. This means the
elaboration of a certain amount of astronomical knowledge. Of course
we cannot extend it too far, because it is, in fact, a very vast field
of complicated mathematical facts and other details. We can only do
it as far as it is necessary to create a common understanding or language
about the cosmic facts, with which we shall have to deal later.
If we look up to the firmament
of the stars, we can distinguish between two kinds of heavenly bodies.
First, there appear the so-called fixed stars. They are called fixed
stars because they appear to always keep the same positions and distances
among themselves. There is, for instance, the well-known constellation
of the Great Bear or Plough. Four fixed stars form the body of the Bear
and three others the tail. We can look at this constellation night after
night for years. It will not happen that suddenly one night we would
discover that one of the four stars that form the body of the Bear has
moved away from its relative position. Thus many groups of fixed stars
form constellations, and the single stars do not move away from their
relative positions. The same stars, for instance, always form the constellations
of Cassiopeia, Orion, and many others. But, in fact, the fixed stars
are moving, too. After thousands of years, the stars that form the familiar
image of the Great Bear will no longer be in the same positions, and
in a far future one will no longer perceive the outlines of the Great
Bear as we do today. However, these movements are very slow. They are
beyond the grasp of the human eye and also beyond human time conception;
therefore, we justly call them “fixed” stars.
We also perceive the moving
stars — the planets — which belong to our solar system.
A very good example to use for observation is the Moon. We may perceive
it during a clear night in the realm of those fixed stars that form
the constellation of Bull. If we look at it two or three days later,
we may find it in the constellation of Twins. So it must have moved
in the meantime from Bull to Twins. Our Moon is not the only moving
star; there are several others. Altogether we may count nine (other)
major planets in our solar system besides the Moon, which are: