THIRD LETTER - June 1944
The Spiritual Nature of the Fixed-Star Zodiac
The universe of our solar
system with its planets revolving around a common center is a rather
complicated organism. According to the opinion of Ptolemy, the Earth
is in the center of this organism; according to Copernicus, the Sun
is in the center and holds a firm grip on the planets so that they do
not leave their orbits. (Rudolf Steiner has indicated the lemniscatory
movement as the basis of the future conception of the planetary universe.
It is the intention to come back to these problems in due course, especially
when we will have to deal with the nature of the planets.) The Ptolemaic
as well as the Copernican universe has the form of a circular plane,
with the orbits of the planets lying within this like concentric rings
of a disc. This circular plane is surrounded by a girdle of twelve constellations
of fixed stars, which we call the fixed-star Zodiac. The names of these
twelve constellations are given in the first letter.
We have now to speak about
the nature of these twelve constellations of the Zodiac. They form the
“external” world of our solar system, and they are related
to our solar system as our external world is related to us.
How are we related to our
external world? We find in our earthly surroundings the solid substances,
the liquid substances, the gaseous substances, and warmth. All this
we find within the human form only in transformed conditions. The origin
of these substances we find in our surroundings. They form the basis
of our physical existence. We take them in, and we are continuously
taking them in as we live on Earth, as we breathe and eat. In looking
at these substances and finding them again in a transmuted condition
within our body, we can read the story of the creation and organization
of the human being. Of course, we must not only look at these substances
from the point of view of materialistic thinking in order to learn the
story of the creation of our body, it is also necessary to find their
One can imagine that the
relationship between the fixed-star Zodiac and the solar world is constituted
in a similar way. Our solar system must have come into being in times
about which we can not judge according to earthly standards. Where did
it come from? Just as the substances that we find within the human body
once must have been part of the surrounding world, so the essential
being of our universe may originate in the surrounding world of the
fixed stars. There, too, we would have to consider this world of the
fixed stars not only from a purely quantitative point of view but also
from a qualitative aspect.
If we accept this, then
we can look at the fixed stars, and among them especially at the fixed
stars of the Zodiac, as the realm where we can learn something about
the origin and creation of our solar universe. Searching for the traces
of creation may reveal to us the inner nature of the Zodiac.
Rudolf Steiner has given
the key for an understanding of the evolution of our universe in his
book An Outline of Occult Science [currently titled Outline
of Esoteric Science]. There he describes the various steps of creation
down to the universe in which we now live and perceive with our senses.
He describes the process of evolution as it presents itself to the spiritual
perception of the clairvoyant who has gone along the path of modern
and western initiation. We can follow his explanations because he also
gives, in the book mentioned above, the methods for the attainment of
the modern clairvoyance. What he says about the evolution of the world
is not a hypothesis incapable of being proven true; anyone can find
the proof who is willing to follow the path of modern initiation as
there described. Thereby, Dr. Steiner describes three great stages of
the evolution of our universe, which then lead to a fourth stage in
the creation of the world in which we live. These three great stages
of evolution, according to the occult tradition, are named: Ancient
Saturn evolution, Ancient Sun evolution, and Ancient Moon evolution.
The fourth stage is called Earth evolution, which in fact means the
evolution of our present solar universe. These four stages of evolution
represent the condensation of something into solid matter with all the
states of condensation in between, which in its origin is of purely
psychic nature; indications of which are still to be found today in
the gaseous, liquid, and solid substances in nature. (The idea of materialization
of “thoughts” as the process of evolution has even been
entertained by modern natural science.)
The step of evolution that
is called Ancient Saturn is the state where pure psychic being (in the
sense of modern natural science, the “thought”) was condensed
to warmth. With this, the very first step of creation of physical substance
was accomplished. (It may be that, according to modern science, warmth
or heat cannot easily be regarded as physical substance but only as
a condition assumed by physical substance. We shall have to speak about
The Ancient Sun evolution
is the state where the previously created warmth substance is condensed
into the gaseous condition. In the cycle ofAncient Moon evolution, the
formerly created gaseous substances are then condensed to the liquid
state, and in the fourth stage — within the Earth evolution —
a further condensation takes place, and the liquid substances are transformed
into solid matter.
This is, of course, only
a very brief outline of these four states of evolution, and it will
now be our task to elaborate them more in detail and find the link to
the fixed-star Zodiac.
The Ancient Saturn Evolution
If one goes back to the
very beginning of creation by the means of higher knowledge —
in the sense of modern initiation — there is no physical substance
to be found. Everything is still in psychic and spiritual condition.
Whereas one cannot, for instance, imagine thoughts without their being
connected with the individual psychic existence of a human being, so
we will find this psychic nature of the universe existing in the inner
life, not of physical, but of spiritual beings. And as we have to distinguish
in the realm of human thought life between human beings who have the
capacity to create ideas, and others who are able to realize and put
them into practice, so we must also distinguish between hierarchies
of spiritual beings who have different capacities of materializing the
psychic, archetypal substance created in their midst.
Thus we will find there,
in the beginning, spiritual beings that have attained, in a certain
moment of their inner, timeless evolution, the capacity of pouring forth
the original psychic substances; the “idea” or the “thought”
or whatever it may have been. This substance can then be taken on by
If nothing exists in a physical
sense, the first thing is that the “will to (physical) existence”
comes forth — and so it is. Exalted spiritual Beings, whom Dr.
Steiner calls Spirits of Will, have attained the capacity to pour forth
Will as a psychic substance. This Will becomes the foundation of everything
that, in the course of evolution, becomes physical.
These Spirits of Will were
only able to stream forth their Will-substance after a long inner evolution.
What was a beginning, from the point of view of the creation of our
universe, must have meant for these spirits the end of an inner development.
This first act of creation is a conclusion and new start in one.
Can the “mother-ground”
of our solar universe, the fixed-star Zodiac, tell us anything about
this event as a kind of cosmic remembrance? We can find it written into
the constellation of Fishes as it presents itself today in the sky.
(Rudolf Steiner, in Outline of Esoteric Science, has not indicated
any connection between the events during the various stages of the evolution
of our universe and the constellations of the Zodiac as it is done here.
How it is done in these letters is entirely the writer's own responsibility.)
The Fishes, as we see it
today according to the imaginations of our ancestors, consists of two
fishes swimming in opposite directions, and yet they are tied together
by a kind of star ribbon. The Fishes is between Waterman and Ram. It
forms the twelfth constellation of the Zodiac. There the Zodiac comes
to an end and starts anew with the constellation of Ram. Thus Fishes
is the image of the end of an evolution that took place within the being
of the Spirits of Will before they were able to pour forth the original
substance of our universe and also the image of the commencement of
the evolutionary cycles of our universe.
The constellation of Fishes
is swimming in the water that Waterman pours into the universe. In this
water we can perceive, with the organs of higher knowledge, the image
of the all-creative substance of the spiritual universe — the
creative spiritual bloodstream of the spiritual world. It has all the
possibilities of manifestation in itself. The archetypes of all existing
things in the physical and soul world are as though dissolved in this
stream. They have not even come into a psychic form yet, but now Fishes
appears in this heavenly water. The first traces of a psychic solidification
of single objects appear. The archetypes of the will — the foundation
of physical existence — are consolidated within the sea of creative
Now, after the primeval
substance has been created, the evolution of Ancient Saturn begins.
Other spiritual Beings unfold their activity and direct it toward the
primeval Will-substance. Dr. Steiner calls them Spirits of Wisdom. They
have attained another capacity by then. They are able to pour forth
forces of Life, and they direct these forces toward this “planet
of Will”, which had come into existence. This planet, which we
now call Ancient Saturn, is not able to receive life. It has not advanced
so far as to become alive. It is still like a lifeless substance that
can only reflect what is going on in its environment, and so it reflects
those life forces that are coming from the Spirits of Wisdom. Reflected
life is wisdom, because the inner being of life is wisdom. Thus it happens
that these cosmic wisdom-forces in the environment of the planet form
something like a sphere.
We can find this stage of
evolution remembered, as it were, in the constellation of Ram. The Ram
bears a white fleece. The head of the animal image is crowned with horns
wound like two inverted spirals.
This cosmic process can
be experienced like a gigantic embryonic development of our universe.
In itself, it bears the archetypal image of everything that is embryonic
process in the various stages of evolution and also within the single
beings of this universe; for instance, the embryonic development of
the human being. We know from the science of embryology that during
the first stages of the embryonic condition the head is predominant
and the trunk and the limbs are only a kind of attachment to the head.
One could even say that during the first weeks, when the brain of the
embryo is not developed in detail, the whole embryonic organism resembles
a brain as it is wound like a spiral. Out of it, all the parts of the
organism grow step by step.
The first stage of Ancient
Saturn evolution is the creation of the archetype of the brain. The
human brain today is but a faint copy of this cosmic brain, and yet
it still bears the imprints of its spiritual form. It has to be to a
high degree lifeless — without blood — for only then can it
function. It functions so that the life in the surroundings of the human
being is reflected in it. This reflection, being only a shadow of the
true life, can produce thinking; the knowledge of the objects in the
This we can find in the
image of the resting Ram, revealing the stage when the Spirits of Wisdom
were active, the still lifeless Will-substance, the reflection (expressed
in the head of the Ram, which is turned back looking over its shoulders),
and the creation of the white fleece of Wisdom. Even in the horns of
the Ram we can see the image of the curves of the brain, or the spiral
of the embryo as a primeval “brain”, reflecting and reproducing
form as though in an act of remembrance.
The following step ofAncient
Saturn evolution is connected with an influx of soul forces, or consciousness
forces, into the planet. These forces come from spirits whom Dr. Steiner
calls “Spirits of Motion”. They are able to pour forth forces
of inner Motion, of soul movement. Thus the substance of the planet
would be animated, but as it was not able to receive Life from the Spirits
of Wisdom, it is still less prepared to be animated. Therefore, these
forces are also reflected by the planet into the environment of Ancient
Saturn, and as they are reflected, they penetrate the sphere of wisdom
representing the reflected Life previously emanating from the Spirits
of Wisdom. Forces of animation — of soul consciousness — thus
penetrate the halo of Wisdom around Saturn. We have a somewhat similar
process to that which happens when, within the soul life of the human
being, the reflection of the objective world by the function of the
brain is penetrated by forces of consciousness; then we create concepts
of the world around us. For instance, the fact of the fading away of
the daylight, perceived by our senses, reflected by our brain, and then
penetrated by consciousness, can create the concept of night. This process
is even the foundation of human language. Certainly today the human
being expresses the same facts by different sounds and words according
to the different languages, but once, in times long ago, the human being
through forming sounds and words could express and indicate the true
inner nature of objects.
We can experience something
similar in this period of evolution of Ancient Saturn only on a gigantic
and much more powerful scale. By the interpenetration of the Wisdom
forces with the soul forces, which originate in the activity of the
Spirits of Motion, archetypal concepts, archetypal sounds, and words
are created though not of a passive and reflective nature as in human
language of today. A kind of cosmic archetypal language comes into being,
which is creative in its nature and is a magic power in the universe.
It is the Word of God through which all things that exist were made.
We can find this step of
evolution written into the constellation of Bull. It can be found between
the constellations of Perseus (above) and Orion (below). One can only
see the front part of the Bull's body, but altogether it resembles
an animal of great strength; the symbol of fertility. This primeval
process of evolution has also left its imprint in the human organism.
If we look at the constellation as it is mostly depicted, only with
the head of the Bull and the huge horns reaching out into the universal
space, then we have an image of the human larynx and the inner ear.
The head is the larynx, and the horns are the connecting canals leading
to the middle ear where the tiny bones connect the outer part with the
innermost parts of the ear.
During the following period
of Ancient Saturn evolution, other spiritual Beings begin to be active
that are called “Spirits of Form”. They radiate forces into
the universe that want to divide and to individualize what is still
united in one huge planetary body. Yet the planet is still less able
to take these forces in. Only the reflection of this activity remains
with the substance. This reflection affects the planet in such a way
that the substance is divided into many single bodies, and the planet,
which hitherto has been one single body, appears like a huge mulberry.
The small berries, resulting from the individualizing influence emanating
from the Spirits of Form, cannot achieve inner individualization during
this period of evolution, but they produce a kind of outer image; the
division into single bodies. These single bodies become the formation
of all later manifoldness of beings in our universe; in all the different
realms of existence. We can find this event commemorated in the constellation
of Twins, which can be found in the sky to the east of Bull and above
the Little Dog of Orion. It shows two beings, similar to human beings,
which are closely related to each other and yet are individual beings.
The process of division
within Ancient Saturn evolution can also be found as a kind of remembrance
still today in nature. It is the process of cell division. We know that
it is the physical foundation of growth. First we find the one original
cell. As soon as it is taken over by the forces of growth, it is split
into two. The oneness is destroyed; however, a twofoldness is created
instead, and we have the image of Twins. Then, of course, the two are
split into four as the process of growth proceeds, and so on. Thus manifoldness
is created that may also have the appearance of a mulberry, after some
This event is remembered
also within the human form but in a very peculiar way. It is present
in the symmetry of the human form. That our body has two sides, two
ears, two eyes, two hands, two feet, and so on, is due to this influence.
This twofoldness separates us from the rest of the world. It makes it
possible for us to exist within a body that is the foundation for the
individuality. Symmetry shows the last traces of a long evolution, whereby
the human form was separated from the neighboring forms so that an individuality
could dwell in it. Also the other twins — head and feet —
separate the human form from that which is above and below. This is
also necessary for the free development of individuality.
We have now arrived in the
middle of Ancient Saturn evolution where important changes and transmutations
take place. Until now everything on Saturn is still in a more or less
psychic condition. We have been speaking of substance, but this substance
is the Will that is derived from the Spirits of Will. As Will it is
still in a psychic condition. In the following letter, we shall see
how this psychic substance is transmuted into physical substance in
the middle period of Ancient Saturn evolution.