Rudolf Steiner: The Whitsun Festival: Its Place in the Study of Karma, June 4, 1924:
"Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of entry for the Astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in towards us, there glitters and shines the Astral. Look at the starry heavens in their manifold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this wonderful configuration of radiant light, the invisible and super-sensible astral body of the Cosmos makes itself visible to us.
For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just as though -- forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is precisely true -- it is just as though someone who loves you were gently stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those material entities of which modern physics tells. It is the astral body of the Universe which is perpetually wielding its influences -- like the gently stroking fingers -- on the etheric organism of the Cosmos. The etheric Cosmos is organized for very long duration; it is for this reason that a star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the cosmic Ether by the astral Universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking of your cheek. But in the Cosmos things do last longer, for there we are dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.
In this way, an immense, unfathomable life, yet, at the same time, a soul-life, a real and actual life of the soul, is brought into the Cosmos. Think how dead the Cosmos appears to us when we look into the far spaces and see nothing but burning gaseous bodies. Think how living it all becomes when we know that the stars are an expression of the love with which the astral Cosmos works upon the etheric Cosmos -- for this is to express it with perfect truth. Think then of those mysterious processes when certain stars suddenly light up at certain times -- processes which have only been explained to us by means of physical hypotheses that do not lead to any real understanding. Stars that were not there before, light up for a time, and disappear again. Thus in the Cosmos too there is a “stroking” of shorter duration. For it is true indeed that in epochs when divine Beings desire to work in an especial way from the astral world into the etheric, we behold new stars light up and fade away again.
We ourselves in our own astral body have feelings of delight and comfort in the most varied ways. In like manner in the Cosmos, through the cosmic astral body, we have the varied configuration of the starry heavens. No wonder that an ancient science, instinctively clairvoyant, describes this third member of our human organism as the “astral” or “starry” body, seeing that it is of like nature with that which reveals itself to us in the stars."