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Cosmic Memory

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Cosmic Memory

On-line since: 31st March, 2008

The Life of Saturn

IN ONE of the preceding descriptions, the great development of humanity through the seven stages of consciousness from Saturn to Vulcan has been compared with the progress through life between birth and death, through infancy, childhood, and so on, to old age. One can extend this comparison further. As among contemporary humanity, men of different ages do not only follow upon one another, but also exist side by side, so it is with the development of the stages of consciousness, The aged man, the mature man or the mature woman, the youth, travel through life side by side. Thus the ancestors of man existed on Saturn not only as beings with the dull Saturn consciousness, but also along with these as beings which had already developed the higher stages of consciousness. When the Saturn development began, there already existed natures with Sun consciousness, others with image consciousness (Moon consciousness) those with a consciousness similar to the present consciousness of man, then a fourth kind with self-conscious (psychic) image consciousness, a fifth with self-conscious (supra-psychic) object consciousness, and a sixth with creative (spiritual) consciousness. This does not exhaust the series of beings. After the Vulcan stage, man will develop yet further, and will ascend to still higher levels of consciousness. As the external eye looks into misty gray distances, so the inner eye of the seer looks upon five more forms of consciousness, as far off as distant spirits, of which a description, however, is quite impossible. In all, one can speak of twelve stages of consciousness.

The Saturn man was surrounded by eleven other kinds of beings. The four highest had had their tasks on levels of development which preceded the life of Saturn. When this life began they had already arrived at such a high stage of development that their further existence took place in worlds which lie beyond the realms of man. Therefore, we cannot and need not speak of them here.

The other kinds of beings, however — seven of them in addition to the Saturn man — are all concerned in the human development. In this they act as creative powers, performing their services in a way which will be described in the following pages.

When the Saturn development began, the most sublime of these beings already had attained a level of consciousness which man will reach only after his Vulcan life, that is, a high creative (supra-spiritual) consciousness. These “creators,” too, once had to pass through the stages of man. This took place on heavenly bodies which preceded Saturn. However, the connection of these beings with the development of mankind lasted until the middle of the life of Saturn. Because of their sublime, delicate body of rays, in mystery science they are called “Radiating Lives” or “Radiating Flames.” Because the substance of which this body consisted had a remote resemblance to the will of man, they are also called “Spirits of Will.”

These spirits are the creators of the man of Saturn. From their bodies they pour the substance which becomes the carrier of the human Saturn consciousness. The period of development during which this takes place is called the first small Saturn cycle. (In the language of theosophy, this is the “first round.”) The material body which man receives in this way is the first rudiment of his later physical body. One can say that the germ of the physical human body is planted during the first Saturn cycle by the Spirits of Will, and that at that time this germ has the dull Saturn consciousness.

This first smaller Saturn cycle is followed by six others. In the course of these cycles man does not attain a higher degree of consciousness. But the material body which he has received is further elaborated. The other kinds of beings indicated above participate in this elaboration in the most diverse ways.

After the “Spirits of Will” there follow beings with a creative (spiritual) consciousness, similar to that which man will attain on Vulcan. They are called “Spirits of Wisdom.” Christian mystery science calls them “Dominions” (Kyriotetes), while it calls the “,Spirits of Will.” “Thrones.”* During the second cycle of Saturn they advance their own development to some extent, and at the same time work on the human body in such a way that a “wise arrangement,” a rational structure is implanted in it. To be more exact, their work on man already begins shortly after the middle of the first cycle and is completed in about the middle of the second.

The third kind of spirits with the self-conscious (supra-psychic) object consciousness is called “Spirits of Motion” or of “Activity.” In Christian mystery science they are called “Principalities” (Dynamis). (In theosophical literature, the expression Mahat is to be found for them.) From the middle of the second Saturn cycle onward they combine with the progress of their own development, the further elaboration of the human material body, in which they implant the capacity of movement and of forceful activity. This task comes to a conclusion around the middle of the third Saturn cycle.

After this point, the work of the fourth kind of beings, the so-called “Spirits of Form,” begins. They have a self-conscious image consciousness (psychic consciousness). Christian esoteric teaching names them “Powers” (Exusiai). Through their work, the human material body, which previously was a kind of mobile cloud, receives a bounded, plastic form. This activity of the “Spirits of Form” is completed around the middle of the fourth Saturn cycle.

Then follows the activity of the “Spirits of Darkness.” which are also called “Spirits of Personality” or of “Self-hood” (Egoism). At this stage they have a consciousness similar to the present human earthly consciousness. They inhabit the formed human material body as “souls” in a way similar to that in which the human soul inhabits its body today. They implant a kind of sensory organs in the body, which are the germs of the sensory organs which later develop in the human body in the course of the development of earth.

One must realize, however, that these “sensory germs” are still substantially different from the present sensory instruments of man. Earth man could not perceive through such “sensory germs.” For him, the images of the sensory instruments must first pass through a more refined ether body, which forms on the Sun, and through an astral body, which owes its existence to the Moon development (All this will become clear in the following chapters) But the “Spirits of Personality” can treat the images of the “sensory germs” through their own soul in such a way that, with their aid, they can perceive external objects, as does man during his earthly development. In their work on the human body, the “Spirits of Personality” pass through their own “stage of humanity.” Thus they are men from the middle of the fourth to the middle of the fifth Saturn cycle.

These spirits implant selfhood, egoism in the body of man. Since they only attain their stage of humanity on Saturn, they remain connected with the development of mankind for a long time. Thus they have important work to perform on man in subsequent cycles as well. This work always acts as an inoculation with selfhood. The degenerations of selfhood into selfishness must be ascribed to their activity, while on the other hand they are the originators of all of man's independence. Without them man would never have become a self-enclosed entity, a “personality.” Christian esoteric teaching uses the expression “Primal Beginnings” (Archai) for them, and in theosophical literature they are designated as Asuras.

The work of these spirits is succeeded around the middle of the fifth Saturn cycle by that of the “Sons of Fire,” who, at this stage, still have a dull image consciousness, similar to the Moon consciousness of man. They attain the stage of humanity only on the next planet, the Sun. Their work here is therefore to a certain degree still unconscious and dreamlike. But it is through them that the activity of the “sensory germs” from the previous cycle is enlivened. The light images produced by the “fire spirits” shine outward through these sensory germs. The ancestor of man is thereby elevated to a kind of shining entity. While the life of Saturn is otherwise dark, man now shines in the general darkness.

The “Spirits of Personality” on the other hand, were still awakened to their human existence in this general darkness.

The human being himself can make no use of his luminosity on Saturn. The luminosity of his sensory germs could not express anything in itself, but through it other more exalted beings are given the possibility to reveal themselves to the life of Saturn. Through the sources of light of the ancestors of man, these beings radiate something of their nature down to the planet. These are exalted beings from among those four ranks of which it has been said above that they have grown beyond all connection with human existence in their development. Without any necessity for them to do it, they now radiate something of their nature out of “free will.” Christian esoteric teaching here speaks of the revelation of the Seraphime (Seraphim), the “Spirits of Love.” This condition lasts until the middle of the sixth Saturn cycle.

After this begins the work of those beings which at this stage have a dull consciousness such as is found in man today when he is in a deep, dreamless sleep. These beings are the “Sons of Twilight,” the “Spirits of Dusk.” (In theosophical writings they are called Lunar Pitris or Barhishad-Pitris.) They attain the stage of humanity only on the Moon. On earth they, as well as their predecessors, the Sons of Fire, have already grown beyond the stage of humanity. On earth they are higher beings which Christian esoteric teaching calls “Angels” (Angeloi), while for the Sons of Fire it uses the expression “Archangels” (Archangeloi). These Sons of Twilight develop in the ancestor of man a kind of understanding, of which however, in his dull consciousness, he himself cannot yet make use. Through this understanding, exalted entities now again reveal themselves, as previously the Seraphim did through the sensory germs. Through the human bodies, understanding is now poured out over the planet by those spirits whom Christian esoteric teaching calls Cherubime (Cherubim).

Around the middle of the seventh Saturn cycle a new activity begins. Man has now reached the point where he can work unconsciously on his own material body. Through his activity in the utter dullness of Saturn existence, man produces the first germinal predisposition to the true “spirit man,” who reaches his full development only at the end of the development of mankind. In theosophical literature this is called Atma. It is the highest member of the so-called monad of man. In itself it would be quite dull and unconscious at this stage. But as the Seraphim and the Cherubim reveal themselves out of their free will in the two preceding human stages, so the Thrones now reveal themselves, those beings who, at the very beginning of Saturn existence, radiated the human body out of their own nature. The germinal predisposition of “spirit man” (Atma) is completely penetrated by the power of these Spirits of Will and retains this power through all subsequent stages of development. In his dull consciousness at this stage man as yet cannot realize anything of this germinal predisposition; but he develops further, and later this germinal predisposition becomes clear to his own consciousness. This work is not yet completed at the end of the life of Saturn; it continues into the first Sun cycle. One should consider that the labor of the higher spirits which has been described here does not coincide with the beginning and end of a smaller cycle (of a round), but that it continues from the middle of one to the middle of the next. Its greatest activity is developed in the periods of rest between the cycles. It increases from the middle of a cycle (Manvantara) onward, becomes strongest in the middle of a period of rest (Pralaya), and then ebbs in the next. (It has already been mentioned in the preceding chapters that life by no means ceases during the periods of rest.)

From the above it also becomes apparent in what sense Christian esoteric science says that in the “beginning of time” the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones first revealed themselves.

With this, the course of Saturn has been followed to the time where its life develops through a period of rest into that of the Sun. Of this we shall speak in the following discussions.

For the sake of greater clarity, here we shall give a summary of the facts of development of the first planet.

  • This planet is the one on which the dullest human consciousness develops (a deep trance consciousness). Together with this, the first rudiment of the physical human body develops.

  • This development passes through seven subsidiary stages (smaller cycles or “rounds”). At each of these stages higher spirits begin their work on the development of the human body, namely in the

    1st cycle, the Spirits of Will (Thrones),
    2nd cycle, the Spirits of Wisdom (Dominions),
    3rd cycle, the Spirits of Motion (Principalities),
    4th cycle, the Spirits of Form (Powers),
    5th cycle, the Spirits of Personality (Primal Beginnings),
    6th cycle, the Spirits of the Sons of Fire (Archangels),
    7th cycle, the Spirits of the Sons of Twilight (Angels).

  • In the fourth cycle, the Spirits of Personality raise themselves to the stage of humanity.

  • From the fifth cycle onward, the Seraphim reveal themselves.

  • From the sixth cycle onward, the Cherubim reveal themselves.

  • From the seventh cycle onward, the Thrones, the true “creators of man,” reveal themselves.

  • Through the latter revelation, there develops in the seventh cycle of the first planet, the predisposition to the “spiritual man,” to Atma.

* He who really knows Christian doctrine is aware that the conceptions of these spiritual beings superordinated to man form an integral part of it. Only for some time they have been lost by an externalized religious teaching. The one who really enters into these matters and looks deeper will realize that there is not the slightest reason for Christianity to combat mystery science, but that on the contrary the latter is in complete harmony with true Christianity. If, for the sake of their Christianity, the theologians and teachers of religion were to agree to study mystery science, they would have to recognize in it their best helper and means of advancement today. But many theologians think in a completely materialistic manner, and it is characteristic that in a popular publication intended for the furthering of a knowledge of Christianity, today one can even read that “Angels” are for “children and nurses.” Such a statement springs form a complete misunderstanding of the true Christian spirit. Only the man who sacrifices true Christianity to a supposedly advanced “science” can make such a statement. But the time will come when a higher science will go beyond the childishness of such utterances to matters of real importance.

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
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