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Isis Sophia I

On-line since: 31st January, 2017

NINTH LETTER - December 1944
Nature of the Planetary World – Saturn

In letter eight we developed a method of understanding the activities of the celestial bodies in our planetary system, and we showed how the imagination of the seven-branched candlestick is a picture of the planetary influences. In this and in the following letters it will be our task to go into more detail with regard to these activities. W. Sucher

The Nature of the Planetary World - Saturn


We looked in our last letter at the essence of time within space and we came to the conclusion that Saturn must be active everywhere; wherever mere soul existence enters physical existence. In order to take a further step in our investigations into the nature of Saturn we have to consider two indications given by Rudolf Steiner in his books Outline of Esoteric Science and Theosophy. We can use them, so to speak, as keys to open the gateway into the realm of knowledge.

In Outline of Esoteric Science, especially in Chapter IV, “Cosmic and Human Evolution”, Dr. Steiner gives an outline of the conditions that preceded the creation of the universe in which we live. He speaks of various stages of pre-earthly evolution that are called, according to occult tradition, Ancient Saturn, Ancient Sun, and Ancient Moon. In previous letters we have already mentioned Ancient Saturn evolution but so far we have not come further. Nevertheless we have an idea of how our universe came into existence through the mighty work of spiritual beings who are active behind the curtain of physical events.

During Ancient Saturn evolution for the first time in the course of events, physical substance came into appearance, although it did not evolve beyond the state of warmth or heat. This was not brought about by only one category or group of spiritual beings but by the co-activity of all the beings of the hierarchical order. We will now recall the names of the hierarchical beings who are concerned with this activity in order to assist the reader to understand this and the following letters. The names differ in various occult teachings; therefore the different groups are given here showing their correspondence. [In the following chart, the column headed Occult Science refers to the terms used in Rudolf Steiner's An Outline of Esoteric Science.]

Occult Science
Dionysius the Areopagite
First Hierarchy Spirits of Love
Spirits of Harmony
Spirits of Will
Second Hierarchy Spirits of Wisdom
Spirits of Motion
Spirits of Form
Third Hierarchy Spirits of Personality Prinicipalities


All the hierarchies worked together to bring about the essential stages of Ancient Saturn. Each hierarchy had, so to speak, a certain task. After this task had been accomplished, another hierarchy carried evolution forward to another level of perfection. This whole great round of evolution that we call Ancient Saturn, together with all that was created in it, is inherited in the body that we observe astronomically as the planet Saturn in our solar universe. Nothing is lost in the evolution of the world; nothing that once has been can disappear. It all still exists, though it may be hidden behind the outer appearance of the world of the senses. Thus Ancient Saturn is not only something that has been, for it can be found everywhere; for instance, in the activity of the planet Saturn and also in many other connections, some of which we shall have to speak about later.

The Saturn of our solar universe is the outermost of the seven “old” planets, i.e., of those planets that the human being can still perceive with the unaided eye. Therefore its orbit is the biggest of all the “old” planets, and we know that Saturn needs about 30 years to move once through its orbit. We also know that Saturn has a peculiar shape. We perceive it as a globe that is suspended or resting within a huge, luminous circle. If we look through a telescope toward Saturn, we perceive this luminous circle and within it the lit-up globe of the planet. A really satisfactory explanation of this phenomenon has not been found, but if we look at the Saturn of today as the perceptible “memory” of Ancient Saturn, we may accept the following suggestion: in the description of Ancient Saturn evolution in the book Outline of Esoteric Science, Dr. Steiner mentions the fact that this “planet” was surrounded by an “atmosphere” of a spiritual character. From this surrounding spiritual atmosphere the hierarchies poured forth their activities into the body of the planet. This fact is remembered in the rings of the present day Saturn.

Now, we must have in mind that the actual “body” of the Ancient Saturn planet was created from the Will-substance sacrificed by the Spirits of Will or Thrones. Thus we can state that the Thrones were the leading spirits of Ancient Saturn, because in the substance of Ancient Saturn, which in later stages became heat, their substance was present, and this must be inherited in all later transformations in which the original substance underwent. It must, therefore, also be present as a heritage in the essential nature and activity of Saturn in our solar universe. Or, in other words, Saturn must be especially the realm where the Spirits of Will have engraved their own activity in a kind of cosmic memory, and this activity must somehow still emanate from this planet. Rudolf Steiner's indications confirm this, as he pointed out that the sphere of Saturn today has the size which was occupied by the Ancient Saturn planet. If we take the huge orbit of Saturn as a great circle of a spherical form, then we can call this the sphere of Saturn. This sphere today is as big as the Ancient Saturn planet, and furthermore, Dr. Steiner indicates that it is the domain of the Spirits of Will.

We have now arrived at two terms of reference with regard to the activity of the Saturn of today: it is the domain of the Spirits of Will, and it is a memory of the Ancient Saturn planet. (Later on we shall make use of these descriptions.)

The descriptions in Rudolf Steiner's Theosophy open another way of approach. There he describes the nature of the soul world and the Spiritland and the experiences of the human soul in these realms in the life after death (Chapter III). What interests us most in connection with our present task is the description of the third region of Spiritland. There Dr. Steiner says, “The third region of Spiritland contains the archetypes of the soul world. All that lives in this world is present as living thought Being. One finds in it the archetypes of desires, wishes, feelings etc. ...All that a person has carried out in his life on Earth in the service of the community, in selfless devotion to his fellow men will bear fruit here. For through this service, through this self-giving, he has lived in a reflection of the third region of the Spiritland. The great benefactors of the human race, the self-sacrificing natures, those who render great services to communities, have gained their ability to render them in this region, after having acquired for themselves the readiness for a special relationship with it during their previous earthly careers.”

Hence we have come to another aspect of Saturn. This third region of Spiritland is the sphere of Saturn through which the human soul has to go in the life after death. This is indicated in Rudolf Steiner's lecture cycle The Life Between Death and Rebirth (Berlin, 1912-13), where he speaks of the cosmic aspects of that which he has given in Theosophy.

This third aspect of Saturn adds to the other two the connection with humanity. It is the Will that emanated in the beginning from the Spirits of Will and lives as the source of the services of “the great benefactors of the human race”. It works through members of the human family as an urge to a new beginning, thus serving the “Will to existence and evolution”.

The question is how this Will power, which is the essence of the sphere of Saturn, was able to create physical existence in the beginning. In our last letter, where we elaborated the sevenfold sequence of time-activity, we stated that from the realm of Saturn, mighty Will powers emanated bringing about physical existence.

Let us now imagine the Thrones sacrificing their Will, which was then the lowest principle of their whole, sevenfold Being. As this separated from its origin, it already became a world for itself though it was still in a pure psychic condition. It was “soul formation”, though it still inherited Will in a chaotic form. This Will strove toward evolution. The essence of this evolutionary Will power is the “ I”, because while it was still united with the Thrones it had achieved the quality of the “I”. We can, therefore, read in Esoteric Science that actually out of this Will power the foundation for the human “I”, the single body, was created with the help of other spiritual beings called the Spirits of Form. Then soon afterward the original psychic Will substance was transformed into heat. Thus we can grasp one of the greatest laws of evolution: on the one hand a step was taken toward individualization; on the other hand, as a consequence, psychic substance descended to the lower level of physical substance.

Perhaps we can explain this by an example. Let us imagine a spiritually active human being, who may perhaps be an artist, a poet, a scientist, and who lives in a soul world that is full of creative impulses and moral imaginations. This soul world belongs to this person just as the body does, yet it inherits the impulse to bring moral imagination to the knowledge of fellow human beings for their benefit and inner evolution. That which was the artist's own world is going to be separated, in a certain way, and move toward communication. As it moves toward communication, it meets the circle of readers, the audience, the admirers of art, etc., but at the same moment it becomes the work of the author, such as literature or the perceptible products of art. It has in its outer appearance dropped away from its soul origin and has entered its “physical existence”. Therefore, we can perceive all primeval creation and its further evolution in the image of the triangle:

The Being of the Creator


An individual's inner (soul) world of moral imagination and spiritual activity
The circle of the individuals
Diagram 1
The “works” of creative origin
Movement towards “communication”

We can now look upon Saturn in this way: the huge sphere of the Saturn of our solar system is the realm or region in which dwell the archetypes of all soul formations. Behind these archetypes is hidden the Will that came from the Spirits of Will. We can also call this the Will of the Father. This Will is the spiritual kernel of all soul life. It is the essence of human soul life when it strives toward perfection. As this Will separated from its origin in the Being of the Thrones and implanted itself into the individual, it came under the great cosmic law, which is mentioned above. Then as the individual went through the various stages of its progress toward perfection, the original psychic Will substance fell back, or was peeled off like a shell and became physical substance. Therefore, if we look at this Will or the activity of Saturn, we have to distinguish between its connection with the soul world, such as the soul world of humanity, and its influence upon physical substance.

We will first consider how the archetypes of the soul world — or Saturn — work as Will in the soul world of human beings. They work especially in the sphere of the human will, but in this sphere we are still deeply asleep. We are fully awake in our thinking. In feeling we are already further away from the bright light of our day consciousness — there we dream. As for willing, we cannot grasp it at all with day consciousness, for it is a deep sea of unknown impulses, emotions, desires, and wishes. This incapability of the human mind to penetrate these depths of human soul life has led to many misjudgments of the nature of the human being. If we seek the cosmic counterpart of the realm of human willing, we come to Saturn. The particular position of Saturn, at the time of the descent of a human soul into earthly life, is always an image of those deeper realms of the will. It may be in the constellation of Lion or Fishes, it may be in conjunction or opposition to other planets, but wherever it is, it reveals the secrets of the willing of the person who is concerned with it. We must be able to read the language of Saturn as it goes through the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, and these letters were written to give an understanding of this language. For instance, if a person has descended into earthly life when Saturn was in Lion, we can then take what has been said about this constellation, and at the same moment listen, as it were, to the deeper will impulses of the person concerned. Many destinies in life could be corrected if we could do this without egoism. We would then perceive the higher task and the individual spiritual purpose of our life on Earth.

It may be the higher task and deeper life impulse of such a person to experience and to listen to the hidden cosmic harmony of all existing beings in the heart of the universe and to bring this “heart-perception” into a balance with the head forces. This may involve a gigantic struggle in life, but surely it must be different in each individual case according to the language of the other planets. A number of positions of Saturn in various constellations of the Zodiac are given in the 5th and 6th letters.

Saturn in the nativity of an individual can reveal much more however. Above we have mentioned the human being's higher task in life as it appears in the image of Saturn, although the fulfillment of this task is hardly ever accomplished within one short life time. Many earthly lives or incarnations are necessary for the human “ I” to achieve what is asked of it, and it is Saturn that spins the thread from one incarnation to the other. Thus in the image of Saturn, at the time of a soul's descent into an incarnation, there appears not only the soul's innermost task or call but also the background of past incarnations.

Saturn is not only, so to speak, the “star” of the soul above the gateway of birth, it is again present at the moment of death and collects the fruits of our individual earthly lives. At the gateway of birth, it distributes the higher tasks of our life which lies ahead; at the threshold of death it gathers or harvests the fruits of the life that has passed, whether they are good or bad, whether they are a fulfillment of the life task or a failure. Now as the human soul enters the spiritual world, Saturn carries the image, the archetype of the soul, in front of it like a continuous judgment of the caricature that it has, more or less, made of itself during past lives on Earth. Then, after some time, the soul decides to descend into a new life on Earth, and now in going through the gateway of birth, Saturn stands there again and holds up the archetype of the soul with the new aspects and resolutions that have been added to it during the life between the last death and this new birth. Surely most people while living on Earth have no consciousness of this presence of Saturn before the moment of birth, but it is active in the human organization as the unknown will forces in the depth of the soul.

An example will make this aspect of Saturn clearer. Francis Bacon of Verulam was born on the 22nd of January 1561. Then Saturn stood in the constellation of Bull. This position reveals the background of his former incarnation. Let us recall what we said about Bull in previous letters. It is connected with the mighty creative Word, the cosmic Word. We can see behind it the realm of the Spirits of Motion whose task it was to create out of inner soul motion, an outer motion — the manifoldness of appearance in the physical world. Therefore, Bull is a sphere in the universe from which strong forces of motion and of power emanate. This is concentrated in Saturn. It indicates that Francis Bacon was a powerful personality in his former life who had the power to penetrate the world around him with inner motion, a personality who was especially concerned with the word, i.e. literature, science, etc. This Saturn was opposed by Mars, which stood in Scorpion. This gives Saturn another face. We have mentioned in previous letters that Scorpion, which was once the Eagle, is connected with the decline of the evolution of the planet Mars in the universe. Therefore, this opposition of Saturn and Mars indicates a mighty, even brilliant leader of some nation, yet with a certain darkness in this brilliancy, as it is connected with decadent Mars forces.

Saturn can even become a guide in finding the interval of time during which this soul was in the spiritual world. In the case of Francis Bacon it can lead us back into the 9th century AD as the time of his last life on Earth. This is confirmed by the indications of Rudolf Steiner who, according to spiritual knowledge, revealed that this soul was incarnated in the beginning of the 9th century AD as a mighty prince who was connected with the culmination of Arabian culture.

In these letters we have not yet reached the point where we can fully elaborate this aspect of Saturn, which leads back into previous lives on Earth, from their qualitative point of view as well as in regard to time, but as we want to speak about the nature of Saturn we have to mention this.

Saturn is the great historian of the universe, as Dr. Steiner calls it. It is the great memory of the universe; therefore, everything that belongs to the sphere of history is penetrated by Saturn's activity: the spiritual biography of the human being, the connection between the generations, the histories of nations, and even the history of the universe is alive in Saturn's memory. It is really the Will of God that emanates from this planet. In recalling the past stages of evolution in the universe and in humanity, it brings the present back from its erring to the God-Willed path of the great plan of evolution, even though it may lead through tragedies and catastrophes.

Thus the activity of Saturn, or the sphere of the archetypes of the soul world, is manifest in the willing of the human soul. This activity can also be found in the physical world that came into being as Will moved away from its origin — the Spirits of Will — and became the region of the archetypes of all soul formation. We have tried to explain this development above, where we found that the creation of the individual necessitates the bringing into being of the “works”.

We can now find Saturn's presence everywhere in the physical world. Saturn must be its innermost essence, because we found that the original Will of the Thrones was condensed into physical warmth which later became the foundation of all physical substance. But the will is somehow hidden in the physical substance; for we cannot perceive it with our senses. Now, many of our readers may have had the experience of absolutely barren rocks; for instance, in the high mountains or on the seashore, where no plant is able to live. If we listen very attentively to the language of such an existence, we have the experience of an absolutely unmovable, stern Will that is much stronger than anything which appears as will power in living beings. We may not experience this inflexible, rigid Will while we stand in the midst of such a landscape, but if we recall such an experience in our memory, it reveals especially its might and superiority. This is not only a subjective reflection in the human soul and, therefore, without any significance or reality. It is a “soul reality” and reveals the origin of physical existence in the Will derived from the Thrones. This is especially manifest in the mineral world in the barren rocky landscapes, and, in fact, it is present in everything that has a physical, bodily existence. In this soul phenomenon, it is the realm of the activity of Saturn that we face.

We can perceive this inherited Will power in physical substance with our soul capacities, because in our physical body we are related to it. In nature we perceive it especially in connection with the mineral kingdom, which is like the hard skeleton of the whole organism of the Earth. As the Saturn forces have their purest manifestation in this realm, they are active in the dynamic foundation of the human and animal skeleton.

The skeleton fundamentally outlines the physical body. We cannot imagine what the human body would be like without the skeleton. The main outlines of the body — head, trunk, and limbs — are indicated by the skeleton and filled out with soft matter. This outlining power, which bears within it the archetypal idea of human existence on Earth, comes from the planet and the sphere of Saturn. It forms the head, especially the skull, so that it appears to be an image of the spherical universe above us. It is like a seed that has dropped down from the universe and that still resembles its origin. From this head the organism grows down toward the Earth. In the head the soft matter is enclosed in the skull, but as we go downward we find that the lower bones are surrounded by soft matter. The spherical tendency of the skull is transmuted into a radiating tendency that points toward the center of the Earth. In the animal the direction of the skeleton is more or less horizontal with the surface of the Earth. In the human being this line is vertical, in an upright position. In this physiological tendency to direct the existence from what appears to be an image of the whole universe and to turn it around into an upright position in human beings, there is a gigantic Will power hidden. It binds human existence to the spiritual universe. It is the physiological expression of the Will of the Father that releases the human being like a seed of the cosmos so that it can grow into Earth existence, as it were, like a reversed plant in order to fulfill a God-Willed task. Thereby, we meet the activity of Saturn in nature as we have met it in our soul life. It is the Guardian of the Threshold and leads our soul being into physical existence. It guards the thread connecting us with our spiritual origin, with our archetype, and it also recalls us from the earthly realm to the spiritual world at the moment of death.

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