Tuesday, August 23, 2016
In the beginning the Word was an ocean of flame
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."--John 17:24
Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture delivered in Berlin January 27, 1908. The Influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man, pp. 22-24:
It is a truth of cosmic evolution that when a planet like our Earth has risen to Sun-existence, when it has gradually achieved union with the Sun and even Sun-existence is transcended, there arises, as a still higher stage of evolution, something that in a certain sense you can perceive in the heavens: there arises what we today call a "Zodiac"--it is the stage higher than that of a fixed star. Thus when beings are no longer restricted to the form of existence belonging to a fixed star but have expanded their evoltion so powerfully that it extends beyond fixed stars and the fixed stars lie like bodies embedded in it--then a higher stage is reached, the stage of Zodiac-existence. The forces which work from a Zodiac upon a planetrary system themselves evolved, in former ages, in a planetary system and have advanced to the stage of a Zodiac.
And now cast your mind back to the old Saturn evolution, the first embodiment of our Earth. This Saturn once glimmered, as it were, in cosmic space, as the first herald of the dawn of our planetary existence. You know, too, that on this old Saturn the first germinal inception of our physical body was brought into being. Even at its greatest density this Saturn was not nearly as physically dense as our Earth. It was a condition of utmost rarefication. That which today permeates all beings as warmth--known in occultism as "fire"---was the matter of Saturn. We may picture to ourselves that around this Saturn, this first, dawn-condition of our planetary system, there were the constellations of the Zodiac--but not yet as they are today. The single stars composing the Zodiacal constellations around that ancient Saturn were scarcely to be distinguished from each other. They glittered only very faintly, like beams of light streaming out from Saturn. The best way to picture this is to think of ancient Saturn encircled by beams of light, just as our Earth is encircled by a Zodiac. And in the course of Earth evolution itself these light-masses developed into the present star clusters comprised in the Zodiac. So that the Zodiac--to use an abstract expression--has differentiated out of that original ocean of flame. And from what did this ocean of flame itself arise?
It arose from the planetary system which preceded our own. Saturn itself was preceded by planetary evolutions in an age which, speaking in the sense of occult astronomy, can by no means be described as "time" as we understand time, for its character was rather different. But for the human mind today the concept is so fabulous that we have no word with which to express it. Speaking in analogy, however, we can say that the forces which preceded our planetary system in an earlier cycle of planetary existence went forth in the light-streams, and out of a small portion of matter gradually gathering together at the center, this first, dawning condition of the Earth arose: this was ancient Saturn and the forces contained in the Zodiac radiated down upon it from the cosmic All.