Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 25, 1910:
Again and again in these lectures we have been able to show how the Genesis account, rightly interpreted, has corroborated the findings of clairvoyant investigation. There remain a number of points still to clear up in this regard. The first thing will be to show with still greater precision the point of time at which the Genesis account falls in terms of spiritual scientific findings as to the evolution of our earth. I have already said that I put the beginning of Genesis at the time when the sun and the earth were about to separate, but we shall have to go more closely into this.
Those of you who have heard some of my earlier lectures, and also those who have studied the description of earth evolution in my Occult Science, will remember what great importance I attached to two significant moments in this evolution. The first was the separation of the sun from the earth. This was a very important event. It had to take place at some time, for had the two cosmic bodies remained united, as in the first stage of earth existence, the course of human evolution could not have given to man his true earthly meaning. All that we include in the word “sun” — thus not only the elementary or physical constituents in the body of the sun, but also the spiritual Beings who belong to it — had to withdraw from the earth, or, if you prefer, had to extrude the earth, because, had those Beings remained united with it, their forces would have worked too strongly for man's welfare. They had to mitigate their forces by removing themselves from the terrestrial scene and working upon it from without. We are therefore concerned with a point of time when a number of Beings transfer the scene of their operations to a distance, so as to moderate their influence on the development of both man and animal. From a certain point of time the earth is left to itself, and, because its finer, more spiritual forces have withdrawn with the sun, undergoes a certain coarsening. But man, such as he has become through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, still remained for a time with the earth. It was only very exalted Beings who withdrew with the sun and found their scene of activity outside.
After this separation, the earth still had within it all the substances and forces which go to make up the present moon. Man therefore was exposed to conditions which were much grosser than earth conditions proper later became, for the substance of the moon is very crass, as it were. One result was that, after the separation of the sun from the earth, the earth forces became ever more moonlike, ever denser. Another, that man himself was now exposed to the danger of wilting away, of becoming mummified, or at any rate of becoming mummified astrally. While, so long as the sun remained with the earth, conditions had been too fine, they now became too coarse. Consequently, as the development of the earth proceeded, man could thrive less and less by maintaining his connection with it. This is described in detail in my Occult Science.
We know from yesterday's lecture that men were still psycho-spiritual beings at this time, but that they were unable to unite with the earth on account of the density of the matter which streamed from the earth into its periphery so long as the moon remained with it. So it came about that the great majority of human souls had to relinquish their union with the earth. Here we come to something of great importance in the relationship between man and earth, something which happened during the time between the separation of the sun and that of the moon. During this interval human soul-spirits, except for a very small number, abandoned earthly conditions, and pressing upward into higher regions, continued their evolution upon the several planets belonging to our solar system, each according to the stage of his development. Some souls were fitted to pursue their evolution on Saturn, others on Mars, others again on Mercury, and so on. Only a very small number of the strongest soul-spirits remained in union with the earth. During this time the rest dwelt upon the earth's planetary neighbours. This came about at a time preceding (to use our own terminology) the Lemurian age.
Then came that other important event, which took place as we know during the Lemurian time, whereby the moon with all its matter and all its forces was itself withdrawn from the earth. This brought about great changes in the earth, which now for the first time came into a condition in which the human being could thrive. Whereas the earth's forces would have been too spiritual had it remained united with the sun, they would have become too coarse had it remained with the moon. Hence the moon too withdrew, and both sun and moon Beings then worked upon the earth from without, thereby bringing it into a state of balance. And in this way the earth prepared itself to become the bearer of human existence. This all happened during the Lemurian age.
Evolution now makes a further advance, and little by little the human soul-spirits who had escaped to the planets begin to return again. That went on far into the Atlantean epoch. What had crystallised out as man during the latter part of Lemuria and during Atlantis was gradually endowed with soul-spirits of differing characteristics, according to whether they came from Mars, or Mercury, or Jupiter and so on. This brought about great variety in earthly incarnations. Those of you who are familiar with the lectures I gave recently in Christiania know that this division of men into Mars-men, Saturn-men and so on was the origin of what later became racial differentiation. It is still possible today for the seer to recognise whether a man's soul has descended from this or that planet.
But it has also been emphasised — and it has been fully discussed in my Occult Science — that by no means all human souls abandoned the earth. What we might describe as the toughest souls were able to go on using earthly matter, and to remain with the earth. I have even mentioned the startling circumstance that there was an outstanding pair of humans who survived the densification of the earth. Spiritual investigation impels us to accept what to begin with seems incredible — that there was such a couple as Adam and Eve, and that the races which arose out of the return of souls from the cosmos came about through their union with the descendants of that pair.
If we bear all this in mind we shall be able to come to a conclusion as to the point of time in our spiritual scientific chronology to which the Bible account refers. Let me remind you that after the six or seven “days” of creation have been described, there comes what the superficial approach of modern biblical criticism takes for a second, separate account of creation; really it is quite consistent with the first. I have often described how during the progress of earthly evolution from the Lemurian to the Atlantean age a kind of cooling down of the earth took place. I went into this in detail in my Occult Science. During Lemuria we must think of the earth as a fundamentally fiery body, as having the element of fire spurting in it; the cooling-down process only began with the transition to Atlantis. During the Atlantean age the surface of the earth was still very different from what it became later; far on into the Atlantean age the surrounding atmosphere was still not water-free. The earth was completely covered with volumes of watery mist. The separation between rain and rain-free air which we have today did not exist in those ancient times. Everything was shrouded in watery mist, laden with all kinds of smoky fumes and other matter which had not at that time assumed liquid form. Much which today is solid at that time still permeated the atmosphere in the form of steam. And far on into Atlantis everything was permeated by those volumes of watery mist.
But that was the very period when what had previously existed in a much more spiritual condition began to take on physical form. In the condition described as the third “day” of creation we must not think that the forms of individual plants, as we know them today, sprouted from the earth, but we must give full weight to the phrase “after his kind,” that is, in species form; the reference is rather to the group-souls of the plants which were present in the earth in an etheric-astral state. What was described on the third “day” as the creation of the plants would not have been visible to external senses, it would only have been seen by clairvoyant organs of perception. It was during the time lasting from the end of Lemuria right on into Atlantis, the time when a state of mist developed in the periphery of the earth, and then gradually grew lighter, that what previously had been etheric became transformed into a condition somewhat resembling what we know today. The etheric became more and more physical. Strange as it may sound, the plant kingdom visible to the external eye did not develop until much later than the time indicated in the account of the third “day” of creation. It did not come about until the time of Atlantis. The geological conditions necessary for the development of the visible plants of today cannot be ascribed to a very early period.
The course of events from the end of Lemuria right on into the Atlantean time can be summarised as follows. The earth was enveloped in dense volumes of mist, charged with clouds of the smoke of various substances, later to be transformed into the crust of the earth. The beings “according to their kind,” visible to clairvoyant consciousness, had not yet been brought to physical densification; and the fertilising of the earth's soil with what still hovered in the atmosphere as water had not yet taken place; that only happened later. How could the Bible give this expression? It would have to say at a certain point: “Even after the conclusion of the seven days of creation, after the completion of what took place during Lemuria, still none of the plants we know today sprouted forth from the earth, the earth was still covered in mist.”
The Bible does in fact say this. If you read on, after the description of the seven days, you find it mentioned that there were still no herbs, no shrubs, on the earth, although it had been said earlier that the forms of the plants had arisen in species form. On the first occasion the reference was to something of a group-soul nature, the second time to something which sprang forth from the earth as vegetation in individual physical form. And the Atlantean mist is described as in fact it was after the “days” of creation. The words For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earthindicate that the condensation of the water in the atmosphere to rain only came about after the “days” of creation.
Thus we find a profound wisdom here. But I can assure you that nothing from this document influenced the description given in my Occult Science. I purposely refrained from consulting the Bible, and I might say that there were times when I tried hard to reach results which differed from those of this ancient tradition. Modern materialistic ideas of the Bible make it inevitable that one should not readily read into it any of the facts of Spiritual Science. But Spiritual Science itself constrained us to find in the Bible what we have ventured to say in these lectures, and our own reluctance notwithstanding, we have at last been obliged to recognise in the Bible what spiritual investigation had previously discovered.
Having made our position clear, we may now go on to ask where in the Genesis account we have to place the departure of human souls to the neighbouring planetary bodies, or planetary Beings, brought about by the hardening condition of the earth. We must put it at the point where it says that through the formation of the sound-ether the upper substances are separated from the lower. I went into that fully in my description of the second “day.” And when one follows it all with the eye of the seer one realises that along with what withdrew from the earth, which the Elohim called “heaven,” there withdrew at the same time the human souls. So it is the second “day” of creation which corresponds with the withdrawal of the human soul-spirits into the periphery of the earth at a definite time between the withdrawal of the sun and that of the moon.
But we must bear in mind that there is an important corollary to this. What was it exactly that went out into the cosmos at that time? In which member of man have we to look for it today? Of course it does not exist today as it was at that time, but we can nevertheless find something corresponding to it in certain members of our present human organisation. Let us look at the human being for a moment. Today we distinguish in him four members, the physical, etheric and astral bodies and the bearer of the ego. We know that the physical and etheric bodies during sleep remain in the bed. When we are concerned with those ancient times which are described in the second and on into the third “day” of creation, we cannot speak of physical and etheric bodies as we know them today. These were only formed later out of earthly substance. All there was of the human being at that time belonged to the part of man which today withdraws in sleep from the other human members (grown denser since that time); it belonged to the astral being of man. It is the forces working in the astral body that we must have in mind, when we contemplate the human soul-spirit which at that time took leave of the earth in order to thrive better upon the surrounding planets. It is those forces we have when with our astral body we are outside our physical and etheric bodies, which we have to look for on the surrounding planets after the second “day.”
We know, however, that when today man in the state of sleep is with his finer members outside his physical and etheric bodies, he is so to say articulated into the astral environment of our earth, into the forces and influences of the members of our planetary system. Man is then united with the planetary Beings. But in those far-away times man was not only united with the planets in some kind of sleep, but after his flight from the earth he was united with them all the time. Thus we have to bear in mind that during the third “day” of creation human souls — with the exception of those I have mentioned who stayed behind — were not on the earth, but in the region of the planets; there they had settled and there they developed further. But meanwhile, on the earth, those who, as the strongest, the toughest, had remained behind were developing. And their evolution consisted in clothing themselves more and more with earthly matter, so that there below on the earth, what we now have during the day as our physical and etheric bodies was being prepared. It was in order that these etheric and physical bodies should be able to play their part in every phase of earth development that some souls were preserved on the earth. By that means the etheric and physical bodies which were in course of preparation were propagated even while the moon forces were still united with the earth.
If we bring before our souls a true picture of the state of things after the withdrawal of the sun, we have to say that for the most part what is of a soul-spiritual nature in man is on the neighbouring planets in the circumference of the earth. The sun had already departed, but if at that time a man had been able to stand upon the earth, he would have seen dense formations of misty, smoky and steaming cloud upon its surface. No trace of sun was to be seen. The sun with its forces was far away, and only little by little began to take effect on earth by causing this volume of smoky mist gradually to lighten, and to assume in the circumference of the earth the form which the development of humanity needed. And if a man had been able to look upon evolution from without, he would have seen that it was only very gradually that the fog and the smoke lifted and that the forces of the sun began, not only to act through the dark envelope of smoke, but truly to make themselves perceptible. Or let us say that we are coming to the fourth “day” of creation, and getting near to the event we call the separation of the moon. Had a man been living on the earth at that time, he would have seen the rays of the sun piercing through the masses of smoke and steam. And while this was happening the earth gradually came into a state favourable to human incarnation, a state in which human beings could once more live. From the physical descendants of those who had remained with the earth throughout, bodies could now be produced for the soul-spirits who were returning from the periphery of the earth.
Thus we have two kinds of propagation. What later became the human physical and etheric body derives from those who remained on earth. The soul-spiritual element comes into it from the periphery. To begin with this approach from the neighbourhood of the planets was a spiritual influx. At the moment when the sun had penetrated the clouds of steam and smoke, after the moon had left it, the desire awoke in the soul-spirits of the neighbouring planets to come down again into this earthly region. When from the earth the sun became visible on the one hand and the moon on the other, the urge to descend to the earth grew more pressing in these souls. That is the reality lying behind the words used in describing the fourth “day” of creation: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. For by the stars are meant the planets surrounding the earth. Thus the deed which brought about a kind of balance was produced on the one hand by the sun and on the other by the moon, and at the same time the human souls who wanted to incarnate on the earth prepared for their descent.
This places the fourth “day” of creation at a point in the Lemurian age, after the exit of the moon, when those conditions come about which you find described in my Occult Science, and which you can summarise in the words: “The human soul-spirits are pressing back to earth again.”
But now we must turn our attention for a little to the accompanying spiritual conditions. What we have just been considering is what afterwards became physical. We must become ever clearer that always behind the coarser lies a finer, and behind the physical lies a spiritual. With the exit of the sun the Elohim withdrew, transferring their scene of action to the exterior, so that they could work towards the earth from the periphery. But not all of them went. A part of the Elohim remained united with the earth, even while the earth still had the moon forces within it. And that part of the spiritual forces of the Elohim which remained united with the earth is in a certain way connected with all the good effects of the moon forces. For we must speak of good moon influences too. After the separation of the sun, everything on earth, human beings especially, would have been constrained towards a state of mummification, a hardened, woody condition. The human being would have been lost to the earth. The earth would have become a desert waste if it had retained the moon forces within its body. Within the earth the moon forces could never have been beneficial. Why was it that they had nevertheless to remain along with the earth for a time? Because humanity had to endure every phase of the earth's condition, because its toughest representatives had to survive the moon-densification. But then, after the moon had left the earth, its forces, which otherwise would have led to the death of the earth, became beneficial. After the withdrawal of the moon forces everything revived again, so that even weaker souls were able to descend and incarnate in human bodies. Thus by becoming her neighbour, the moon became earth's benefactor — which from within the earth it never could have been. The Beings who guided this whole series of events are the great benefactors of man. Who were they? They were the very Beings who had just united themselves with the moon, who then wrested the moon from the earth, in order to guide men further in earth evolution. We know from the Genesis account that the leading Guiding Powers were the Elohim. And the forces which brought about the mighty event of the moon's withdrawal and thereby enabled man to assume his proper nature were none other than the very forces which brought about the cosmic advancement of the Elohim to Jahve-Elohim. Part of the Elohim forces remained united with the moon and then withdrew it from our earth. Thus Jahve-Elohim is intimately bound up with what we find in creation as the body of the moon.
Now let us picture to ourselves more closely what all this really signified for man in his earthly incarnation. If man had remained tied to an earth which had the sun within it, then he would have become a mere cipher, fettered to the Elohim; he would not have been able to sever himself, and attain to independent being. But because the Elohim withdrew with the sun, man was enabled to remain with the earth and to preserve his own soul-spiritual life. If it had stopped there, however, man would have become hardened, he would have met his death. Why had man to come into a condition which provided even the possibility of his death? In order that he might become free, in order that he might cut himself off from the Elohim, in order that he might become an independent being. In the moon element man has something within him which really leads to decay, to death, and he would have received too big a dose of this element, had the moon not withdrawn. But you see how it all follows that it is this moon element which, as cosmic substance, is closely connected with human independence.
Present conditions on earth were brought about after the separation of the moon. The influence of the moon is thus not so strong now as it once was. But as far as the foundations of his physical and etheric bodies are concerned, man lived through the moon period too, he lived through the time when the earth was united with the moon, and therefore he has within him something of what is up there on the moon. He has preserved it in his physical and etheric bodies ever since. Thus man has the moon element within him. The earth could not have supported this moon element within it, but man has it in a certain way within him. Thus he has the disposition to be something other than a mere earth being.
As men we have the earth under us; the moon had to be cast out of the earth, but not until the right dose of its nature had been injected into man himself. The earth contains no trace of moon in it; it is we who bear that within ourselves. What would have become of the earth if the moon had not been wrested from it? Look at the moon for once with rather different eyes. The whole constitution of its matter is different from that of the earth. The astro-physicist speaking from the material aspect says that the moon has no air, scarcely any water, which means that it is far denser than the earth. It therefore contains forces which would lead the earth beyond the degree of hardness which earth actually has. These moon forces would make the earth physically harder, more fissured. To get a picture of what the earth would become if the moon forces were still in it, think of a very wet, muddy road becoming dustier and dustier as the water in it evaporates. You can see the whole process happening when after a fall of rain the mud in the street gradually turns to dust. Something like that would have happened to the earth if the moon forces had remained within it — it would have cracked and crumbled into lumps of dust. Something like that will happen to the earth one day, when it has fulfilled its task — it will crumble into cosmic dust. Earthly matter will be dissolved in cosmic space as cosmic dust when man has passed through his evolution upon it. Thus we can say that the earth would have become dust, it had the tendency to become dust, to crumble into particles of dust. It has only been saved from doing so already by the withdrawal of the moon.
But in man something has remained of this disposition towards dust. Through all the circumstances which I have described to you man receives into his being something of moony earth-dust. Those Beings connected with the moon have actually introduced into the human bodily nature something not derived from the earth which we have in our environment since the withdrawal of the moon; there has been imprinted into the human body something of the moon-earth-dust. But since Jahve-Elohim is united with this moon-nature, it means that it is Jahve-Elohim who has imprinted this moon-earth-dust into the human body. So there must have been a point in the course of earth evolution when it would be correct to say that in the cosmic progress of the Elohim Jahve-Elohim imprinted into the human body the earth-dust, the moon-earth-dust. These are the depths beneath that passage in the Bible which says that Jahve-Elohim formed man of the dust of the earth. For that is what it says. None of the translations which convey that Jahve-Elohim formed man out of “a clod of earth” make any sense. Jahve-Elohim imprinted into man the earth-dust. [The English Authorised Version says: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.]
Not a few of the startling discoveries we have already made have filled us with awestruck veneration in face of the revelations uttered in the Bible by the ancient seers and rediscovered in our own day be spiritual scientific research. But here, in the words “And Jahve-Elohim imprinted in man's bodily nature the moon-earth-dust,” the tale told by the clairvoyant authors of the Genesis narrative may well inspire in us a sensation of almost overwhelming reverence. And if those ancient seers were aware how the tidings which made them vocal came to them out of the realm wherein the Elohim, and Jahve-Elohim, were active — if they knew themselves to be receiving their wisdom from the very region of the World-creators — then they could say: “There is streaming into us as knowledge, as wisdom, as intelligence, the very Same that once worked within those Beings, giving shape to the earth itself in the beginning.”
Therefore we can look up in holy awe to those ancient seers, who themselves looked up into the regions whence their inspiration descended, into the realm of the Elohim and of Jahve-Elohim. By what name could they have called those Beings, who underpinned alike the creation itself and their own knowledge of it?
What sort of word could they have had for them — unless it were one which filled their whole hearts in the moment of receiving this revelation of the world-creative powers? Looking up to these, they said to themselves: “Our revelation flows down into us from divine-spiritual Beings. We can find no word for those Beings, save only that one which expresses the holy awe we feel. ‘They that beget the holy awe we feel.’” If we translate that into ancient Hebrew how does it run? “They that beget the holy awe we feel” — it has the ring of Elohim — the Hebrew word for those before whom man feels a holy awe. And in such a way we may approach the link which is to be found between the feelings and perceptions of the ancient seers and the name of those Beings to whom they attributed the creation and also their own power of revealing the creation.
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