Anthroposophical Guidelines - X

by Rudolf Steiner

The Macrocosmic Nature of Man

At first the cosmos reveals itself to man from the earthly and the outer-earthly side, the world of the stars. [heavenly bodies – trans.]

Man feels himself related to the earth and its forces. Life teaches him very clearly about this relationship.

In contemporary times, however, he doesn't feel related to the stars in the same way. But this is the case only as long as he is not conscious of his etheric body. Grasping the etheric body in imaginations develops a feeling of belonging to the world of stars, just as one has such a feeling about the earth through consciousness of the physical body.

The forces that place the etheric body in the world come from the periphery of the universe, while those for the physical body stream from the center of the earth.

But together with the etheric forces which stream into the earth from the periphery of the cosmos, come the cosmic impulses which act in the astral bodies of men.

The ether is like a sea in which the astral forces swim, approaching the earth from all the diverse cosmic directions.

In the present cosmic age, only the mineral and vegetable kingdoms are able to have a direct connection to the astral forces which stream to the earth on the waves of the ether. Not, however, the animal kingdom or humanity.

Spiritual vision shows that in the case of the animal kingdom it is not the present astral forces which stream into the embryonic stage, but those which did so during the Ancient Moon period.

With the vegetable kingdom one sees how the wonderfully manifold forms are structured when the astral severs itself from the ether and acts on the plant world.

With respect to the animal kingdom, one sees how the astrality that was active during the Ancient Moon period and was derived from the spiritual, has been preserved and as such remains in the spirit-world and does not enter the etheric world.

The effectiveness of this astrality is mediated by the moon forces, which have also remained at the previous stage of the earth's evolution.

In the animal kingdom we therefore have the result of impulses which manifested themselves in an natural way in the earth's previous stage, whereas in the present cosmic age they have withdrawn to the spirit-world, which actively streams through the earth.

Spiritual vision observes that within the animal kingdom, in the penetration of the physical and etheric bodies by the astral body at present, only the astral forces preserved from the past are meaningful. Once the animal has its astral body however, then the sun-impulses enter actively into it. The sun forces cannot give the animal astrality; once in the animal, however, they must needs be active in its growth, nutrition and so forth.

For humanity it is different. It also receives at first its astrality from the preserved Moon forces. But the sun forces contain astral impulses which remain ineffective for the animal kingdom, but continue to affect human astrality in the same way as when the Moon forces first imbued humanity with astrality.

In the animal astral body one sees the moon world; in the human astral body one sees the harmonious concordance of the sun and moon worlds.

It is due to this sun effect in the human astral body that man is able to absorb what streams spiritually from the earth for the development of his self-consciousness. Astrality streams forth from the periphery of the universe. It acts either as what presently streams forth, or what streamed forth in the past and is preserved. However, everything which relates to the formation of the I as the vehicle of self-consciousness must stream out from the center of a star. Astrality acts from the periphery, what is relevant to the I acts from a center. The earth as a heavenly body gives impulse to the human I from its center. Forces stream from the center of every star [heavenly body] from which the I of some being is formed.

This indicates the polarity between a star's [heavenly body's] center and the cosmic periphery.

One sees from this description how the animal kingdom still exists today as a result of earlier earthly evolutionary forces, how it uses up the preserved astral forces, how it must, however, disappear once these forces are used up. On the other hand, with man new astral forces are created from the sun, which enables him to continue his evolution into the future.

Without being conscious of man's relationship to the stars as well as to the earth, it is not possible to understand the essence of humanity. And what man receives from the earth for his self-consciousness also derives from the spirit-world which acts within the earth. That the sun gives to man what his astrality needs derives from the activity which took place during the ancient Sun period. The earth received there the capacity to develop humanity's I-impulses. It is the spiritual from that period which the earth preserved of the Sun forces, and which is preserved from dying out now through the present activity of the sun.

The earth was once itself Sun. It was spiritualized. In the present cosmic age the sun acts from without. This continuously rejuvenates the aging spiritual forces from ancient times. For what continues to act without absorbing the forces of the present succumbs to the Luciferic.

One can say that the man's feeling for his connection to the outer-earthly cosmos is so muted in this cosmic epoch that he doesn't consciously notice it. And it is not merely muted, it is drowned out by feeling connected to the earth. Because man must find his self-consciousness in the earth, he grew so attached to it at the beginning of the Consciousness Soul age that it acts much more strongly on him than is appropriate for the correct course of his soul life. He is to a certain extent benumbed by the impressions of the world of the senses. Because of this numbness he does not actualize the free thinking of which he is capable.

The whole epoch from the middle of the nineteenth century on was such a benumbing through sense impressions. The great illusion of this age is that man took the overly strong life of the senses to be the correct one – the life of the senses which strove to extinguish the life in the outer-earthly cosmos.

The Ahrimanic powers were able to unfold their being within this benumbing. Lucifer was held back more by the sun forces than was Ahriman, who was able to call forth, especially in scientifically inclined people, the dangerous feeling that ideas are only applicable to sense impressions. Therefore anthroposophy can find little understanding in those circles. One stands before the results of spiritual knowledge and tries to understand them with ideas. But these ideas do not grasp the spiritual, because they are benumbed by Ahrimanic knowledge through the senses. And thus one fears that he will succumb to blind belief in authority if he is open to the results of the spiritual seer's research.

The outer-earthly cosmos became ever darker for human consciousness during the second half of the nineteenth century.

If man is again able to vivify the ideas within him, even when they are not supported by the world of the senses, then light will stream back to his gaze from the outer-earthly cosmos. But this means recognizing Michael in his kingdom.

Once the Michael festival in autumn becomes true and internal, then those who participate in the festival will experience the following as a leitmotiv which will live in their consciousness: Idea filled, the soul experiences spirit-light when the sense revelations only echo in man as remembrances.

If man can experience this, then, after the festival, he will be able to submerge again in the right way into the sense world. And Ahriman will not be able to harm him.

Goetheanum, January 1925

168. At the beginning of the Consciousness Soul age a dampening of the human feeling of connection with the outer-earthly cosmos took place. In contrast thereto, the feeling of connection to the earth by experiencing sense impressions was so strong, especially among scientifically inclined people, that a benumbing resulted.

169. Within this benumbing, the Ahrimanic powers work so dangerously that man lives in the illusion that this strong benumbing experience is the correct one and constitutes real evolutionary progress.

170. Man must find the strength to enlighten his world of ideas and experience them as such, also when they are not supported by the benumbed sense-world. In this experience of the independently enlightened world of ideas the feeling of connection to the outer-earthly cosmos will awaken. The basis for Michael festivals will then exist.