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Occult Science - An Outline

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

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Occult Science - An Outline

Chapter IV

Man and the Evolution of the World

(Part 4)

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The second of the great evolutionary periods — the Sun stage — uplifts the human being to a higher level of consciousness than he attained on Saturn, although compared with man's present consciousness, his condition on the Sun might still be called unconsciousness. For it is well-nigh equivalent to the state in which he now finds himself in absolutely dreamless sleep. We might also compare it with the low degree of consciousness in which our world of plants is slumbering today. For supersensible perception there is, as a matter of fact, no such thing as unconsciousness there are but differing degrees of consciousness. Everything in the world is conscious.

Man attains this higher state of consciousness in the course of Sun evolution through the fact that the etheric or life-body is now incorporated in him. But this cannot take place until the Saturn conditions have been recapitulated. Such recapitulation has a quite definite meaning. When the interval of rest is over, what was previously Saturn emerges from the “cosmic sleep” as a new world-entity — as Sun. But the whole situation within which evolution takes place is now changed. The Spirit-beings whose working upon Saturn we described have progressed to new conditions. The seed of man, however, as it emerges on the newly formed Sun, appears, to begin with, just as it become on Saturn. It has accordingly first of all to transmute the several evolutionary stages it underwent on Saturn, in order to adapt them to the conditions on Sun. Hence the Sun epoch begins with a repetition of the Saturn events, but a repetition adapted to the changed conditions — the Spirits of Wisdom begin their work of pouring the etheric or life-body into the physical. The higher stage that man attains upon Sun may be characterized as follows. The physical body, formed already upon Saturn in its germinal beginnings, is raised to a second level of perfection, in that it now becomes the bearer of an etheric or life-body. The etheric or life-body itself attains, during the Sun evolution, the first degree of its perfection. But for these stages of perfection to be achieved — the second for the physical and the first for the life-body — the intervention of other Spiritual-beings too is needed, just as it was for the Saturn stage.

When the Spirits of Wisdom begin with their inpouring of the life-body, the Sun entity, which until now was dark, begins to radiate light. Simultaneously the first signs of an inner quickening appear in the seed of man: life begins to be. What on Saturn had to be described as a mere semblance of life, is now becoming real life. The inpouring goes on for a time, and then an important change comes over the seed of man; it differentiates into two parts. Hitherto, the physical body and life-body have been in intimate union as a single whole; now, the physical begins to separate off as a distinct part — although it still remains permeated with the life-body. Thus we now have to do with a twofold human being. One part of man is physical body, permeated through and through with life-body; the other consists of life-body alone. This severance takes place during an interval of rest in the Sun life, when the light-radiance which had begun to appear dies down again. It happens during what may be called a “cosmic night.” This interval of rest is however far shorter than the aforesaid interval between the Saturn and Sun evolutions. When it is over, the Spirits of Wisdom continue for a while to work upon the two-fold human being, just as they worked on him before, when he was single and undivided. Thereafter, the Spirits of Movement come in with their activity; they permeate with their own astral body the life-body of the human being. The life-body thus attains the faculty to carry out certain inner movements in the physical — movements that are comparable to those of the saps and fluids in a plant of the present day.

The whole of Saturn consisted of warmth alone. During Sun evolution this warmth-substance condenses to a state which may be likened to that of our present gas or vapor. It is the condition we can denote as Air. The first beginnings of it show themselves after the Spirits of Movement have come in with their activity. To supersensible consciousness the following appears. Within the warmth-substance delicate, tenuous structures emerge, which are brought into regular movement by the forces of the life-body. These structures make manifest the physical body of the human being as it is at this stage in its evolution. They are permeated through and through with warmth, and are also enveloped as if by an integument of warmth. Warmth-creations with air-forms incorporated in them, the latter engaged in regular and constant movement — so may be describe the human being, physically speaking, at this stage. If we want to maintain the suggested comparison with the plant of the present day, we must remember that we are not dealing with a compact plant but with a form consisting of air or gas, the movements of which are not unlike those of the sap in the present plant.1

This evolution is then carried further. After a time an interval of rest once more ensues; and when this is over, the Spirits of Movement continue with their work, until it is supplemented by that of the Spirits of Form, as a result of whose activity the gaseous structures, hitherto constantly changing, now assume more permanent shape. This too is brought about through the Spirits of Form pouring their forces in and out of the life-body of the human beings. Previously, when the Spirits of Movement alone were working upon them, the gaseous bodies were in incessant motion; only for a moment did they ever maintain their shape. Henceforward they will now assume, for a time, distinguishable forms.

Once more, after a certain time, comes an interval of rest; and when that is over, the Spirits of Form resume their activity. Then, however, altogether new conditions appear within Sun evolution.

For now the point is reached where Sun evolution has attained its middle epoch. It is the time when the Spirits of Personality, who reached their human level upon Saturn, rise to a higher stage of perfection, thus transcending the stage of humanity. They attain a consciousness which, in the regular course of evolution, present-day man does not yet possess. He will attain it when the Earth — the fourth of the planetary stages in evolution — has reached its goal and the next planetary period will have begun. At that time, man will no longer perceive around him merely what the present physical senses communicate to him; he will be able to observe in pictures the inner soul-condition of the beings that surround him. He will have picture-consciousness, still however retaining full self-consciousness. For in his picture-vision, there will be nothing dim or dreamlike. He will perceive things of the soul — in pictures it is true, yet so that the pictures will express realities just as physical colors and tones do today. In our time it is only by spiritual-scientific training that man can raise himself to this kind of seership. The training will be dealt with in a later chapter.

Such seership the Spirits of Personality attain as their normal gift of evolution in the middle of the Sun stage. And it enables them, during Sun evolution, to work upon the newly formed life-body of the human being in the same way as they worked upon his physical body during Saturn. As upon Saturn the warmth rayed back to them their own personality, so now the gaseous forms ray back to them in shining light the picture-visions of their seership. They behold — supersensibly — what is now taking place on Sun. Nor is their seeing by any means mere observation. For in the pictures that stream outward from the Sun, it is as though something of that force which man on Earth denotes as Love were making itself felt. And as we look — in soul — more closely, we find the cause of this. Into the light as it rays outward from the Sun, sublime Beings have mingled their activity. These are the “Spirits of Love” (in Christian language, Seraphim) already named in the preceding pages. Henceforth they work upon the human etheric body (or life-body) in co-operation with the Spirits of Personality. The combined activity of these Beings enables the life-body to take a further step on its path of evolution. It becomes capable not only of transforming the gaseous structures which are within it, but of so working upon them that the first suggestions of a reproductive process appear in the living human entities. Secretions are as it were driven forth — or we might say, “perspired” — by the already-formed gaseous organisms, and assume form in their turn in the likeness of their mother-organism.

Before we can go on to describe the further evolution of the Sun, we must point to a fact which is of the greatest importance in the whole cosmic process. In the course of a given epoch not all the beings attain the goal of their evolution. Some fall short of it. During Saturn evolution, for example, not all the Spirits of Personality attained the “human” stage appointed for them. Nor did all the human physical bodies that developed upon Saturn reach the degree of maturity which could enable them to become the bearers on Sun of an independent life-body. As a result, beings and structures are present on the Sun, unsuited to the conditions that obtain there. These must now make good what they have missed on Saturn. During the Sun stage spiritual perceptions can therefore observe the following. When the Spirits of Wisdom begin with their in-pouring of the life-body, the whole body of the Sun becomes as it were clouded. For it is interspersed with structures which belong essentially to Saturn — warmth-structures that are unable to condense in the proper way to air. These are the human entities which have remained behind at the Saturn stage. They cannot become bearers of a normally developed life-body.

What is thus left behind of Saturn's warmth-substance, divides on the Sun into two portions. One is as it were absorbed by the human bodies, and constitutes henceforth, within the human being, a kind of lower nature. Thus on Sun the human being receives something into his bodily nature that corresponds in reality to the Saturn stage. Now as the Saturn body of man made it possible for the Spirits of Personality to rise to their “human” level, so on the Sun does this Saturn part of man render a like service to the Fires Spirits. These rise to their human stage by pouring their forces in and out of it, just as the Spirits of Personality did on Saturn. This too takes place during the middle epoch of Sun evolution, for then the Saturn part of the human being is sufficiently mature for the Fire Spirits (The Archangeloi) to pass through their human stage with its assistance.

Another portion of the Saturn warmth-substance separates off and comes to an independent existence alongside of and among the Sun human beings, constituting thus a second kingdom, developing a fully independent, but purely physical body — a body of warmth. There is therefore in this second kingdom no independent life-body to receive the activity of the fully evolved Spirits of Personality. But now certain Spirits of Personality have also stopped short at the Saturn stage; they did not attain there the level of humanity. Between them and this second kingdom of the Sun, there is a bond of attraction. They must now relate themselves to this retarded kingdom in the same way as their more advanced companions related themselves upon Saturn to the human beings. For upon Saturn these too had developed only a physical body. But on the Sun itself there is no possibility for this work to be done by the backward Spirits of Personality. They therefore separate themselves from the Sun and form an independent heavenly body outside it. From this heavenly body that has left the Sun, the retarded Spirits of Personality work upon the creatures of the second Sun kingdom.. The single cosmic entity that Saturn was before, has thus become two. Henceforth the Sun has a second heavenly body in its environment, representing a kind of re-birth of Saturn — as it were, a new Saturn. From this new Saturn the second kingdom of the Sun is endowed with the character of personality. Its beings have no personality upon the Sun itself; but they reflect to the Spirits of Personality on the new Saturn their personality. In among the human beings on the sun, supersensible consciousness can observe forces of warmth, whose working intermingles with the regular evolution of the Sun. Herein we have to perceive the Spirits of the new Saturn wielding their power.

Observation of the human being during the middle epoch of Sun evolution reveals it to be divided into a physical body and a life-body. The latter is the scene of activity for the more advanced Spirits of Personality, in unison with the Spirits of Love. The physical body is now intermingled with a portion of the retarded Saturn nature, and here the activity of the Fire Spirits is at work. In what the Fire Spirits achieve in this retarded Saturn nature, we have to recognize the forerunners of the present sense-organs of Earth man. (It will be remembered that already upon Saturn the Fire Spirits were concerned in elaborating within the warmth-substance the seeds of the human senses.) On the other hand, in that which is accomplished by the Spirits of Personality in union with the Spirits of Love (the Seraphim,) we have to perceive the first beginnings of man's present glandular organs.

But now the work of those Spirits of Personality who dwell on the new Saturn is not exhaustively described in what was said above. Their activity goes beyond the second kingdom of the Sun; they also establish a kind of connection between this second kingdom and the human senses. The warmth-substances of this second kingdom stream through the human senses in their germinal condition, pouring continually in and out of them. In this way the human being rises on Sun to a kind of perception of the lower kingdom that is there beside him. It is, in the nature of the case, a very dim perception — corresponding in all respects to the dull Saturn consciousness of which we spoke before. And it consists essentially in varying effects of warmth.

All that has here been described as pertaining to the middle epoch of Sun evolution, lasts for a certain time; and then, once more there is an interval of rest. After the interval, things go on for awhile in the same way as before, until a point is reached in evolution when the human etheric body is mature for a united working of the Sons of Life (The Angeloi) and the Spirits of Harmony (the Cherubim.) To supersensible consciousness manifestations now appear within the human being which may be likened to perceptions of taste, and which reveal themselves outwardly as sounds. It will be remembered that we resorted to a similar comparison in our description of Saturn evolution. Here however, on Sun, all that does on in the human being is far more inward, is full of a more independent life.

The Sons of Life hereby attain the dim picture-consciousness which the Fire Spirits reached on Saturn. The Spirits of Harmony (Cherubim) are their helpers in this. They behold in spirit what is now taking its course in Sun evolution; but they deny themselves all the fruits of this their contemplation, all feeling of the Wisdom-filled pictures that arise there, and pour them like wondrous magic scenes into the dream-consciousness of the Sons of Life. These in turn weave the forms they behold into man's etheric body, which rises thereby to higher and higher stages in its evolution.

Again there is an interval of rest. Again the whole arises out of the “sleep of worlds” and, after it has continued its course for a time, the human being is mature enough to be able to arouse within him the forces of his own. These are the forces which were poured into his being by the Thrones during the last epoch of Saturn evolution. The human being now continues his evolution in an inner life which, in its manifestation to consciousness, may be likened to an inward sensation of smell. Outwardly, over against the heavenly spaces, he reveals himself as a personality. We have already seen how at the end of Saturn evolution, personality manifested like a machine. Moreover, as at that time the first seed was developed of what is still in a seedling state even in the man of today, namely Spirit-Man or Atma, so now and in like manner the first seed is formed of Life-Spirit or Budhi.

After all this has gone on for a certain time, there is once more an interval of rest And, as has happened before, after the interval the former activity of the human being is resumed for a while. Then new conditions enter in, arising out of a fresh intervention on the part of the Spirits of Wisdom. Through this the human being becomes able to feel the first traces of sympathy and antipathy with his environment. It is as yet not real feeling; nevertheless, it is a forerunner of feeling. For the inner activity of life, the manifestations of which could be described as resembling perceptions of smell, reveals itself outwardly as if in a kind of primitive speech. When an agreeable smell or taste, glimmer of light, or other manifestation is inwardly perceived, the human being makes it known outwardly by a sound. Similarly too with an inwardly distasteful perception. And now, as a result of all these developments, the true meaning of Sun evolution for the being of man has been attained. He has reached a higher level of consciousness than was his Saturn. It is the consciousness of sleep.

After a while the point has also been reached when the higher Beings connected with the Sun stage must pass to other spheres, there to assimilate the potentialities they have implanted in themselves by the work they have done on the human being. A greater interval of rest supervenes, such as there was between Saturn and Sun. All that has been evolved on Sun passes into a condition like that of a plant when its forces of growth are resting in the seed. But as these come forth again to the light of day in a new plant, so after the interval of rest is over, all that was life upon the Sun emerges again out of the bosom of the worlds and a new planetary existence begins. We shall well understand the meaning of such an interval of rest or “sleep of worlds” if we turn our thought for a moment to some one of the above-named groups of Beings — the Spirits of Wisdom, for example. On Saturn, these Beings were not yet so far advanced as to be able to pour forth from themselves an etheric body. The experiences they underwent there served however to prepare them for this activity. During the interval they transmitted what had been prepared in them, into the actual faculty, with the result that on Sun they were ready to let the life stream out from them and so endow the human being with a life-body of his own.



  1. The gas appears to supersensible consciousness through the light-effects which it sends forth. Hence we might also speak of forms of light presenting themselves to spiritual vision.


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