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Cosmic Memory

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

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

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Cosmic Memory

On-line since: 31st March, 2008

Life on the Moon

IN THE UNIVERSAL ERA of the Moon, which follows that of the Sun, man develops the third of his seven states of consciousness. The first had developed during the seven Saturn cycles, the second during the Sun development; the fourth is that which man is at present developing during the course of the earth; three others will come into being on subsequent planets. The condition of consciousness of Saturn man cannot be compared with any state of consciousness of present-day man, for it was duller than that of dreamless sleep. The Sun consciousness, however, can be compared to this condition of dreamless sleep, or to the present consciousness of the sleeping plant world. But in all these instances one is dealing only with similarities. It would be quite erroneous to think that in the great universal eras anything repeats itself in a completely identical manner.

It is to be understood in this way if the Moon consciousness is now compared with one with which it has some similarity, namely with that of dream-filled sleep. Man attains the so-called image consciousness on the Moon. The similarity consists in that in the Moon consciousness as well as in dream consciousness, images arise within a being which have a certain relation to objects and beings of the outside world. But these images are not likenesses of these objects and beings as in present-day man when he is awake. The dream images are echoes of the experiences of the day, or symbolical expressions for events in the dreamer's environment, or for what is taking place in the interior of the dreaming person. Examples of these three types of dream experiences are easy to give. First, everyone knows those dreams which are nothing but confused images of more or less remote daily experiences. An example of the second type would be if the dreamer thinks he perceives a passing train and then, upon awakening, realizes that it was the ticking of the watch lying beside him which was perceptible in this dream image. An example of the third kind is that it seems to someone that he is in a room where ugly animals are sitting on the ceiling, and upon awaking from this dream he realizes that it was his own headache which expressed itself in this way.

If one now wants to attain a conception of the Moon consciousness on the basis of such confused dream images, one must realize that while the image-like character is also present there, complete regularity instead of confusion and arbitrariness prevails. It is true that the images of the Moon consciousness have even less similarity than the dream images to the objects to which they are related, but on the other hand there is a complete correspondence of image and object. At present in the earth development, the conception is a likeness of its object; thus for instance the conception “table” is a likeness of the table itself. This is not the case with the Moon consciousness. Assume, for instance, that the Moon man approaches an object which to him is pleasing or advantageous. Then a colored image of a light tone arises in his soul; when something harmful or displeasing comes near him, he beholds an ugly, dark image. The conception is not a likeness. but a symbol of the object which corresponds to it in a quite definite and regular way. Hence the being which has such symbolical conceptions can direct its life in accordance with them.

The inner life of man's ancestor on the Moon thus took its course in images which have the character of the volatile, the floating and the symbolical in common with dreams of today, but are distinguished from these dreams by their completely regular character.

The basis for the development of this image consciousness in man's ancestors on the Moon was the formation of a third member in addition to the physical body and the ether body. This third member is called the astral body.

This formation, however, only occurred in the third smaller Moon cycle — the so-called third Moon round. The first two revolutions of the Moon must be seen merely as a repetition of what took place on Saturn and on the Sun. But this repetition must not be imagined as a re-enactment of all the events which took place on Saturn and on the Sun. That which repeats itself, namely the development of a physical body and of an ether body, at the same time is subject to such a transformation that in the third Moon cycle these two members of the nature of man can be united with the astral body, a union which could not have taken place on the Sun.

In the third Moon period-actually the process already starts around the middle of the second-the Spirits of Motion pour the astral element out of their own nature into the human body. During the fourth cycle — from the middle of the third onward — the Spirits of Form shape this astral body in such a way that its form, its whole organization can develop inner processes. These processes have the character of what at present in animals and man is called instinct, desire — or the appetitive nature. From the middle of the fourth Moon cycle onward, the Spirits of Personality begin with their principal task in the fifth Moon era: they inoculate the astral body with selfhood, as they have done in the preceding cosmic eras with respect to the physical and the ether body. But in order for the physical and the ether body to be so far advanced that they can harbor an independent astral body, at the time indicated, that is, in the middle of the fourth Moon cycle, they must first be brought to this point by the shaping spirits in the successive stages of development. This takes place in the following manner. The physical body is brought to the necessary maturity in the first course of the Moon (round) by the Spirits of Motion, in the second by those of Form, in the third by those of Personality, in the fourth by the Spirits of Fire, and in the fifth by those of Twilight. To be exact, this labor of the Spirits of Twilight takes place from the middle of the fourth Moon cycle onward, so that at the same time that the Spirits of Personality are engaged on the astral body the same is the case with the Spirits of Twilight with respect to the physical body.

In regard to the ether body the following is the case. Its necessary qualities are implanted in it in the first course of the Moon by the Spirits of Wisdom, in the second by those of Motion, in the third by those of Form, in the fourth by those of Personality, and in the fifth by those of Fire. To be exact, this activity of the Fire Spirits takes place concurrently with the labor of the Spirits of Personality on the astral body, that is, from the middle of the fourth course of the Moon, onward into the fifth.

If one considers the entire ancestor of man as he developed on the Moon at that time, there is this to be said: Starting from the middle of the fourth Moon cycle, man consists of a physical body in which the Sons of Twilight perform their labor, of an ether body in which the Spirits of Fire perform theirs, and finally of an astral body in which the Spirits of Personality perform theirs.

That the Spirits of Twilight work on the physical body of man in this period of development, means that they now rise to the level of humanity, as did the Spirits of Personality in the same cycle on Saturn and the Fire Spirits on the Sun. One must imagine that the “sensory germs” of the physical body, which by that time have become further developed, can be used by the Spirits of Twilight from the middle of the fourth course of the Moon onward in order to perceive external objects and events on the Moon. Only on the earth will man be so far advanced that, from the middle of the fourth cycle onward, he can make use of these senses. On the other hand, around the middle of the fifth course of the Moon, he reaches the point where he can be engaged unconsciously on the physical body. Through this activity in the dullness of his consciousness he creates for himself the first germinal predisposition to what is called “spirit self” (Manas). This “spirit self” attains its full unfolding in the course of the subsequent development of mankind. In its union with Atma, the “spirit-man,” and with Buddhi, the “life-spirit,” it is what later forms the higher, spiritual part of man. As on Saturn the Thrones or Spirits of Will permeated the “spirit-man” (Atma), and as on the Sun the Cherubim permeated the life-spirit (Buddhi) with wisdom, so now the Seraphim accomplish this for the “spirit-self” (Manas). They permeate it, and thereby implant in it a capacity which at later stages of development — on the earth — becomes that conceptualizing faculty of man by means of which, as a thinking being, he can enter into a relation with the world which surrounds him.

From the middle of the sixth course of the Moon onward, the “life-spirit” (Buddhi), from the middle of the seventh onward, the “spirit-man” (Atma) appear again, and these unite with the “spirit-self,” so that at the end of the whole Moon era the “higher man” has been prepared. Then, together with all else that has developed on the Moon, the latter sleeps through a period of rest (Pralaya), in order to continue the course of his development on the earth planet.

While from the middle of the fifth Moon cycle onward into the sixth, man is working on his physical body in dullness, the Spirits of Twilight are engaged on his ether body. As has been shown, through their work on the physical body in the preceding epoch (round), they have now prepared themselves for relieving the Fire Spirits in the ether body, who in turn take over from the Spirits of Personality the work on the astral body. At this time, these Spirits of Personality have ascended to higher spheres.

The work of the Spirits of Twilight on the ether body means that they connect their own states of consciousness with the images of the consciousness of the ether body. They thereby implant in these images the joy and the pain which are caused by things. On the Sun the scene of their corresponding activity had still been the merely physical body. Hence joy and pain were there connected only with the functions of this body and with its conditions. Now this becomes different. Joy and pain now become attached to the symbols which arise in the ether body. In the dim human consciousness the Spirits of Twilight thus experience a world of emotions. This is the same world of emotions which man will experience for himself in his earth consciousness.

At the same time, the Fire Spirits are active in the astral body. They enable it to carry on an active perception and feeling of the environment. Joy and pain, such as have been produced in the ether body by the Spirits of Twilight in the manner just described, have an inactive (passive) character; they present themselves as inactive mirrorings of the outside world. But what the Fire Spirits produce in the astral body are vivid emotions, love and hate, rage, fear, horror, stormy passions, instincts, impulses and so forth. Because the Spirits of Personality (the Asuras) have previously inoculated this astral body with their nature, these emotions now appear with the character of selfhood, of separateness. One must now represent to oneself how at that time the ancestor of man is constituted on the Moon. He has a physical body through which in dullness he develops a “spirit self” (Manas). He has an ether body, through which the Twilight Spirits feel joy and pain; and finally he possesses an astral body which, through the Fire Spirits, is moved by impulses, emotions, and passions. But these three members of the Moon man still completely lack the object consciousness. In the astral body images flow and ebb, and in these there glow the emotions named above. When the thinking object consciousness will make its appearance on the earth, this astral body will be the subordinate carrier or the instrument of conceptual thinking. Now however, it unfolds in its own entire independence on the Moon. In itself it is more active here, more agitated than later on the earth. If one wishes to characterize it, one can say that it is an animal man. As such, it is on a higher level than the present-day animals of earth. It possesses the qualities of animality in a more complete way. In a certain respect these are more savage and unbridled than present-day animal qualities. Therefore, at this stage of his existence, one can call man a being which in its development stands midway between present-day animals and man. If man had continued to advance in a straight line along this path of development, he would have become a wild, unrestrained being. The development of earth represents a toning down, a taming of the animal character in man. This is caused by the thinking consciousness.

If, as he had developed on the Sun, man was called plant man, the man of the Moon can be called animal man. That the latter can develop presupposes that the environment also changes. It has been shown that the plant-man of the Sun could only develop because an independent mineral realm was established alongside the realm of this plant man. During the first two Moon eras (rounds) these two earlier realms, plant realm and mineral realm, again emerge from the darkness. They are changed only in that they both have become somewhat coarser and denser. During the third Moon era a part of the plant realm splits off. It does not take part in the transition to coarseness. It thereby provides the substance out of which the animal nature of man can be formed. It is this animal nature which, in its union with the more highly formed ether body and with the newly developed astral body, produces the threefold nature of man which we have described above. The entire plant world which had been formed on the Sun could not develop into animality. For animals require the plant for their existence. A plant world is the basis of an animal world. As the Sun man could only elevate himself into a plant by thrusting a portion of his companions down into a coarser mineral realm, so this is now the case with the animal man of the Moon. A portion of the beings which on the Sun still had the same plant nature as himself, he leaves behind him on the level of coarser plantlike-ness. As the animal man of the Moon is not like the animals of today, but rather stands midway between present animal and present man, so too the mineral of the Moon lies between the mineral of today and the plant of today. The mineral of the Moon is something plantlike. The Moon rocks are not stones in the sense of today; they have an animated, sprouting, growing character. Similarly, the Moon plant has a certain character of animality.

The animal man of the Moon does not yet have firm bones. His skeleton is still cartilaginous. His whole nature is soft, compared to that of today. Hence his mobility too is different. His locomotion is not a walking, but rather a leaping, even a floating. This could be the case because the Moon of that time did not have a thin, airy atmosphere like that of present-day earth, but its envelope was considerably thicker, even denser than the water of today. He moved forward and backward, up and down in this viscous element. In this element also lived the minerals and animals from which he absorbed his nourishment. In this element was even contained the power which later on the earth was wholly transferred to the beings themselves — the power of fertilization. At that time man was not yet developed in the form of two sexes, but only in one. He was made out of his water air. But as everything in the world exists in transitional stages, in the last Moon periods, two-sexedness was already developing in a few animal man beings as a preparation for the later condition of the earth.

The sixth and seventh Moon cycles represent a kind of ebbing of all the processes we have described, but also the development of a kind of over-ripe condition, until the whole enters the period of rest (Pralaya) in order to pass in sleep into the existence of earth.

The development of the human astral body is connected with a certain cosmic process which must also be described here. When, after the period of rest which succeeds the cosmic era of the Sun, the latter again awakes and emerges from the darkness, then everything which lives on the thus developing planet still inhabits it as a whole. But this re-awakening Sun is nevertheless different from what it was before. Its substance is no longer luminous through and through, as it was previously; rather it now has darker portions. These separate out of the homogeneous mass, as it were. From the second cycle (round) onward, these portions appear more and more as an independent member; the Sun body thereby becomes biscuit-like. It consists of two parts, a considerably larger and a smaller one, which however are still attached to one another by a connecting link. In the third cycle these two bodies become completely separated. Sun and Moon are now two bodies, and the latter moves around the former in a circular orbit. Together with the Moon, all of the beings whose development has been described here, leave the Sun. The development of the astral body alone takes place on the split-off Moon. The cosmic process which we have characterized is the precondition of the further development described above. As long as the beings belonging to man absorbed their forces from their own solar habitat, their development could not attain the stage we have described. In the fourth cycle (round) the Moon is an independent planet, and what has been described concerning that period takes place on this Moon planet.

Here again, we shall present the development of the Moon planet and of its beings in a clearly summarized form.

  • The Moon is that planet on which man develops the image consciousness with its symbolical character.

  • During the first two cycles (rounds) the Moon development of man is prepared through a kind of repetition of the Saturn and Sun processes.

  • In the third cycle the human astral body comes into being through an outpouring of the Spirits of Motion.

  • Concurrently with this process the Moon splits off from the re-awakened unified Sun body and revolves around the rest of the Sun. The development of the beings connected with man now takes place on the Moon.

  • In the fourth cycle the Spirits of Twilight inhabit the human physical body and thereby elevate themselves to the level of humanity.

  • The developing astral body is inoculated with independence by the Spirits of Personality (Asuras).

  • In the fifth cycle man begins to work in dullness on his physical body. Thereby the “spirit self” (Manas) joins the already existing monad.

  • In the ether body of man a kind of joy and pain develop during the Moon existence, which have a passive character. In the astral body on the other hand develop the emotions of rage, hate, the instincts, passions, and so forth.

  • The two former realms, the plant and the mineral realm, which are thrust down to a lower level, are now joined by the animal realm, in which man himself exists at this time.

Toward the end of the whole universal era the Moon approaches more and more closely to the Sun, and when the time of rest (Pralaya) begins, again the two have become united in a whole, which then passes through the stage of sleep in order to awaken in a new universal era, that of the earth.

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
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