The Big Picture
This essay has been created to provide the overview of how my “Meditations on Creation” and “Creations Layer Cake” diagrams fit into Rudolf Steiners world view. I wish to thank and acknowledge Malcolm Gardner and Hugh Lovel for there parts in discussions on BDNOW from which this material has been refined.
Rudolf Steiner has outlined a multi layered reality for us to contemplate. The difficulty for the neophyte of his world view, especially when reading his lectures as they randomly appear in ones life, is that he talks about these different layers or dimensions of reality as they relate to the subject at hand. Defining the overall order present throughout his work, in this manner is very difficult. RS has outlined his basic world view in the books ‘Theosophy’ and ‘Occult Science- An outline’ and it is helpful to read these books early in your interest in his work.
Over the years, I have found it useful to try and bring some clear understanding into the ‘structure’ of Rudolf Steiners view of creation. In this essay I do not wish to go into the process of creation, which is adequately covered in ‘Occult Science’, rather I wish to outline the big picture of the ‘parts’ of creation we are confronted with when exploring life on Earth.
Spiritual reality and material manifestation are so intimately linked that I feel sure we can look to the Astronomical structure of creation, as we presently understand it, as the basis of any structured view of his work. But first what are we looking for. To date I have come to see RS has described the overview of creation as a threefold being. We have a personalised or internalised reality which we can see manifest in the four kingdoms of nature, A ‘World’ reality which is best seen as the neighbourhood in which the Earth lives namely the Solar system and the Galaxy in which we exist, and thirdly the ‘Cosmic’ reality which encompasses all stars, planets and galaxies beyond our own.
The reason for establishing this order becomes apparent when we come to work with the spiritual bodies at the base of natures manifestations.
To imagine the cosmic spheres one needs to stretch ones imagination a long way. A slow journey through an astronomical chart of creation is invaluable for doing this. The National Geographic put one out some years ago. The charts I mean are the ones which start with the Earth and then macroscope out to the Solar system, (which has a diameter of 11 light hours), to our local stars and then to the Galaxy, which has a diameter of 100,000 light years. After moving through our local group of Galaxies ( 5 million light years) it enlarges to our local supercluster (100 million light years) to come to the observable universe with a diameter of some 30 billion light years across. From here we have to proceed briskly through Hindu Scripture which tells us that the superclusters of stars we can see – each around 100mill light years across- are only a small number of the amount which are breathed into existence by Lord Brahma, (the four headed, first created being who sits upon a lotus flower growing from the navel of Vishnu, who in turn is lying upon a serpent in the ocean of milk.)
Now it is with Lord Brahma that our story can start. All the universes breathed into creation by Brahma are ‘swimming ‘ in a sea of chi or cosmic ether. This force is said to permeate all of creation and when it comes into manifestation appears as a growth process. In discussions with Hugh Lovel on the BDNOW email list (BDNOW@igg.com) Hugh has assured us this cosmic ether comes from beyond the stars and flows towards our galaxy and enters each subsequent gyroscopic being – galaxy, solar system or planet – through the horizontal axis. So with the Earth. it enters our atmosphere at the equator and travels towards the Earth before being sucked out the poles and off to the Sun. More about this later. This then is the Cosmic ether.
There are quotes from Steiner which state the Astral forces come from the stars of the Zodiac, while the Egoic forces originate in the stars beyond the Galaxy. The forces described here are the Cosmic Astral and Egoic forces which develop in other solar systems and radiate towards our Solar system from the periphery.
It may help to understand that Astral forces are a result of the activity of the Ego or spirit. They in a sense do not develop by themselves. Lets use the human as an example. The spirit of an individual wishes to incarnate into life. It first of all joins together with a physical form which brings with it the development of an etheric body. Once the spirit is ‘in life’ it begins to have experiences from all its surroundings. The experience, sense impressions, memories and emotions created by any activity becomes accumulated to form the Astral body. This Astral reservoir , over time becomes so full that it begins to appear as a personality. It also starts to be seen through the forming influence it has over the etheric/physical organism. At this stage our personality can be seen in our bodily form.
On a Cosmic scale this same process is seen in the formation of stars and planets. Just as the Spirit is the central organising influence of a life form so we see a Sun is the central being of a Solar system. It is out of the whirling vortexes of Hydrogen that eventually a Sun ignites and begins to radiate more energy than it absorbs. From this gyroscopic generation and movement the Sun develops a large series of spherical electro magnetic fields. Along the horizontal plan at the equator of this ‘being’ matter begins to accumulate, due to the electromagnetic resonance of the whole being. At rhythmical distances along this equator the formation of planets occurs. Eventually the planets accumulate most of the matter in its particular sphere and becomes a solid form. Due to the formation of this mass it then begins to exert gravitational and electro magnetic altering influences upon the whole system.
This macrocosmic story is the same as that seen in the formation of an individuals Astral body. It has long been understood that the Spirit and Suns have an affinity and this gains more relevance when we appreciate Rudolf Steiner insight that Hydrogen is the physical carrier of the spirit. Now it is a simple enough jump to follow the metaphor and see that the Astral formation and that of the planets are similar. From my studies of Astrology I have come to see that the Sun in a birthchart is the residence of the spirit, while the planets of the birthchart and the movements of the planets in the sky act as excellent indicators of the activity of the Astral body in a humans life. From this I am in no doubt that the Astral activity is related to planetary activity while the Ego/Spirit is created by Suns.
To go back to RS earlier comment about Ego and Astral formative force originating in the zodiac and beyond, we can see he is talking of Cosmic Egoic and Astral forces. All stars will generate Egoic formative forces and their planets will focalise or create Astral forces. RS says the Astral forces are sourced from the region of the zodiac while the Egoic forces come from beyond our galaxy. The stars of the zodiac and particularly the ones we can see are in our galaxy. So RS is indicating the Astral forces developed by the planets of the other stars in our galaxy radiate towards us and have an influence upon the formation of both the World and individual Astral bodies. The Egoic forces as one would expect are much stronger and forces from all other stars have the power to enter into our galactic ‘egg’ and act as formative forces as well.
This then forms the basis for the Cosmic spheres of our existence the
Cosmic Ego is sourced in the stars of creation
Cosmic Astrality is sourced from the planets around the stars of our galaxy and most notable from around the stars of the zodiac
Cosmic Etheric is sourced from Lord Brahma and flows from the periphery of creation towards the Earth entering at the equator.
The World spheres are best seen as the ‘spiritual’ bodies of our Earth. From the above examples it is clear the Sun at the centre of our Solar system is our central spirit being thus becoming the World Egoic source with the world Astral planets circling about it. The Sun is responsible for the formation of the planets, of which we are one. This indicates our Earth , as a planet, in itself is an Astral formation, however for us it holds a special more intimate significance, as we exist upon it. This firstly brings us into relationship with the physical body of the Earth, upon which we walk and then the life body of the Earth which is made possible for us to exist in due to the unique formation of the Atmosphere. It is within the Atmosphere that we find the right concentration of oxygen and the existence of light and warmth is such proportions that life can come into and be maintained in existence.
From this we can conclude the World spheres are
World Egoic forces emanate from the Sun
World Astral forces exist with in the planetary spheres
World etheric forces are maintained within the Atmosphere
World physical body is the Earth itself.
There is one development RS has made to this ‘basic’ picture. He has suggested that with the crucifixion of the Christ being 2000 years ago, the egoic forces of the Sun became more intimately connected with the Earth and that now the World Egoic forces work on us from within the Earth. As for the reality of this I can not say. No matter what spiritual event has occurred we must still deal with the astronomical reality that our Sun is the basic source of light, warmth and the immense sea of electromagnetic and nuclear forces we exist within. While using this picture, makes it easier to understand how the egoic forces manifest as the Cosmic Silica stream of Earth energy pushing up from the Earth, we have also been given the physical mechanism for this process by RS,. He outlined how the quartz crystals within the Earth act as a condenser, during the winter of the Cosmic and World Egoic forces streaming onto the Earth, ( carried in by the Terrestrial Silica during summer) and then, due to the presence of clay in the soil, these Egoic forces radiate back out to the Cosmos through the stem and seeding formations of plant growth.
In the next essay “Creations Layer Cake” I have outlined in more detail the individual parts of World spheres of our creation.
The personal bodies of creation only find their full expression in Humans. (See Biodynamics Decoded – Section 1) We internalise the Ego, Astral and Etheric activities within our physical form. The lower kingdoms of nature only internalise different combinations of these bodies. The animal kingdom is a manifestation of Physical Etheric and Astral combinations, while the plant kingdom is generally only internalising the etheric and within its physical form, while the mineral kingdom has just matter. When a body is not internalised it works upon that kingdom from outside.
Humans internalise all bodies
Animals are internalised Astral, Etheric and physical with the World and Cosmic Egoic forces working directly from the Sun and stars.
Plants internalise the etheric forces and have the Cosmic and World Astral forces working onto them from outside
Minerals have all forces working onto them from outside.
There is another part of this story to be aware of especially as it concerns Humans. RS outlines in ‘Theosophy’ how the Spirit, Soul and Body parts of Creation can be divided into smaller parts. As outlined earlier the big picture is that the Spirit and Body work together and from this activity the soul/astral is developed. The Spirit section can be divided into three parts, Spirit Self, Life Spirit & Sprit Man, the Soul part is divided into Sentient soul, Intellectual soul and Consciousness soul while the body part of the scheme can be divided into Physical, Etheric and Astral Bodies. Malcolm Gardner on BDNOW indicated that there are crossovers between the lower and upper parts of each section so we have the following scheme
The higher activities from Sentient Soul and Ego body upwards are of particular interest to Humans. Through the life of a Human the Spirit/Ego complex continues to work upon the lower bodies. As the spirit works upon the Astral body so the sentient soul arises, as it works upon the Etheric body so the Intellectual soul develops, likewise the Consciousness soul arises from the Ego working upon the physical body. Next the spirit bodies are developed from the Egos continued working upon the soul ‘bodies’. Spirit self arises from Sentient soul, Life spirit from Intellectual soul and Spirit man from Consciousness soul.
These processes can be seen in other philosophical traditions as well. The astrological development of human consciousness mirrors these same stages. In ‘The Twelve Planets’ I have gone into this in great detail, however as a reference I include the following diagram.
Jupiter Mars Venus
Do not be confused by the allocation of different planets to Steiners indications. Both are right they just relate to a different level or aspect of Steiners ‘body’ or ‘soul’.
There are three levels above Spirit Man RS talks about in Occult science and these are as follows. They are states of pure spirit, however they are still stages or levels one meets before fully entering the galactic realm.
“Region of Oceans & Rivers”
see “Twelvefold Planets” diagram
From these diagrams it is evident that when we are dealing with the Ego, Astral, Etheric and Physical bodies in Biodynamic work and conversation we are talking only about the ‘Body’ and lower soul areas of Steiners descriptions of reality. When talking about manifest beings we are firstly talking of the Internalised or personal bodies as well as the non incarnated World ‘bodies’. To a lesser extent we talk of the Cosmic Ether, Astral and Ego forces. It seems to me the most significant element of this complexity is that we are clear about which part we are talking about at any given time.
In “Creations Layer Cake” I am outlining the World activities as they manifest in our larger environment. I have taken some licence with the World and Cosmic Ego spheres and placed them both with the Galaxy. Afterall the Sun is just another star in the Galaxy.