Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Zodiac: The forming of the human being through cosmic influences

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, October 28, 1921:

Today we shall study the human being in regard to his form, and from this standpoint widen and deepen what we have recently considered. If we envisage, to begin with, the fact that the human form, of course, depends in the widest sense on the whole life of man, we should then consider first of all man's life as a whole, in order to grasp the human form from within, in a concrete way. To begin with, the human being forms part of the whole universe, of the whole cosmos. And if you bear in mind that in regard to the formation of the head, the human being is in reality an image of the sphere, of the cosmic universe, you will find, as it were, that as regards the head, he is placed into the whole universe. But we can only understand the way in which he is placed into it, and is at the same time a self-contained being, by bearing in mind man's connection with the whole environing world.
Let us first consider the human form by saying: With his whole thinking, insofar as it is connected with the head, man turns toward the whole cosmos, and by bringing his head, through birth, from the spiritual world into physical existence, the human being, enclosed within his body, may in a certain way look back upon his real, inner soul-spiritual being as it existed during the time when he was not enclosed within a body. Perhaps we obtain the best picture of what I mean by this when we consider how the human being attains knowledge by looking back, as it were, into his own self. For when we occupy ourselves with arithmetic and geometry, we look back into ourselves. We recognize the laws of geometry simply because we are human beings able to draw the spatial laws out of our own being. But on the other hand, we know that these laws fill out the whole universe. Consequently, when we look out into the world we have something which we necessarily perceive through the eyes; but everything is arranged geometrically, also the eyes, which are focused geometrically. We may therefore say: insofar as man faces the world with his thinking that is connected with his head, he takes back, as it were, into himself what is spread out in the universe. Let us therefore imagine this first stage of fitting himself into the cosmos by saying: man takes in the universe, he looks back upon the universe, as it were. By looking back upon ourselves, we discover the universe.
This is man's most external connection with the universe out of which he is built.
We proceed further by envisaging in the second place how the human being activates within him what he takes in from outside. Consider that when the child is born, everything which it experienced from death to a new birth lives within its being; if the child could develop a consciousness in this direction, it would be able to look back on the experiences which it had before birth. But these prenatal experiences then begin to be active in the child. The human being does not only look back into his own self in order to discover the universe anew within himself, but he also looks out into the environing world. He sees the world that surrounds him. We may therefore say: He does not only take in the universe, but he looks out into the universe around him and takes in the mobility of the universe. He grows inwardly mobile.
You only need to clasp your left hand consciously with your right one — you only need to touch yourself — in order to remain completely within yourself. You do something with your right hand, but you are taking hold of something which is your own self. You now touch yourself in the same way in which you feel about and touch an external object. Every perception of the ego, of one's inner being, is really based upon this: To take hold of one's own self. We also do it indirectly with the eyes. When we envisage any point outside, the axis of the right eye crosses that of the left eye in the same way in which our hands cross when the right hand clasps the left one. Animals have less inner life because they touch themselves much less. We may therefore say that the third thing is: To experience or touch ourselves. In reality, we are still in the external world when we thus grasp ourselves. We are not yet within our skin.
But let us now envisage the boundary between the outer and inner life. Let us indicate this process by moving the right hand, clasping the left one, up and down, so as to describe a surface. This surface is everywhere on ourselves. With our body's covering sheath we enclose our inner being. We may therefore say that the fourth thing is to encompass ourselves.
If you penetrate in a living way through feeling into your form, insofar as it is enclosed by the skin, you will obtain this process of encompassing yourself.
We take in the universe and look back.
We look out into the universe. We take in its mobility.
We grasp ourselves. (Touch ourselves.)
We encompass ourselves.

These four things place before us the gradual process of man's formation from outside toward inside. We have, to begin with, the whole universe; but we are still outside. Then the imitation of the universe; but we have not yet reached our own being, for we imitate the universe. If we touch ourselves, we reach ourselves from outside. Only in the fourth stage do we encompass ourselves.
In the fifth stage we must seek something which is inside, which fills us out, surging and weaving through us. We may therefore say: Five: That which fills us out, surging and weaving through us.
Then comes the sixth stage: Through the fact that we do not only have a skin, but that it is filled out, and through the fact that we were thus able to penetrate into our own being, a process begins which dissolves the form, devolving it into something which not only fills out the human being inwardly, but makes him like a fruit that has ripened. Let us follow the fruit's development to the point where it is just ripening; if it surpasses this point, it dries up. We may therefore say: Six: Ripening.
Imagine this ripening process. By growing mature we begin, as it were, to decay inwardly. In a very small measure we cease to become human beings. Although we are human beings, we become inwardly dust, so to speak. We grow mineralized. With this we again fit ourselves into the external world. We are completely within our being, with that body which fills us out. Then, when we become dust inwardly, we again fit ourselves into the mineral world. We become, as it were, a body which has weight. We may therefore say: Seven: We fit ourselves into the inorganic world.
I have once described to you that when we weigh a human being, he stands there like a mineral. This led us to the point of being able to say that he fits himself into the inorganic world. We might also say: He fits himself into the external forces of nature.
Eight: At this stage we not only fit ourselves into the external world, but we take in the external world. We breathe, we eat, we absorb the external world. In a preceding stage we merely developed within us forces which already existed within us; this stage of development consisted essentially of this. Then comes our inner life, but there we take into ourselves the external world. When we reach this moment we should, above all, realize quite clearly that everything a human being takes in from outside is like something which should not really form part of him. There are many erroneous conceptions in the world regarding this process of absorbing substances and forces from outside. In reality, everything we eat is a tiny bit poisonous. For life consists in taking in nourishment and our not allowing it to become completely one with us: we offer resistance, and life really consists in this resistance, this defense. But of course the substances which we take in as nourishment are so slightly poisonous that we are able to offer resistance. For if we take a real poison it destroys us, because we are unable to defend ourselves against it.
We may therefore say: When the external world penetrates into us, a kind of poisonous sting enters into us. We must use strong expressions which do not exist in ordinary speech and ordinary knowledge. When I explain these things to you, you must therefore try to grasp what I really mean.
That which fills us out.
Fitting ourselves into the inorganic world and seeking the balance.
Poisonous sting.
This brings us to the point of absorbing what is outside. Consequently we began with the forming of man out of the universe, proceeded to the forming of man from within, and arrived at the point where his inner life develops by offering resistance to the external world.
But the human being forms himself (at least his life, and to some extent also his real form) in accordance with his external attitude, his external activities. But in the present time our activities no longer have a real connection with the human being; we must go back into earlier times if we wish to grasp man in his real connection with his environment, in which he participates in the world's processes. At this point we may say: The ninth stage represents one of man's activities. He participates in the external world by taking his place culturally in the external life on Earth. He is, to begin with, a hunter. Nine: Hunter.
He then progresses in his activities. He becomes a breeder of animals. This is the next stage. Ten: A breeder of animals. Eleven: He becomes a farmer; that is the next stage of perfection. And finally, Twelve: He becomes a trader. Later on you will see that I do not include the activities which followed. They are of secondary nature. Man's primary occupations are: hunter, breeder of animals, farmer, and trader. This characterizes man in regard to his form and the way he lives upon the Earth as a hunter, breeder of animals, farmer, or trader. These are forms of human activities, of human occupations, upon the Earth.
Breeder of animals.
The following drawing [The drawing, showing the Earth in the universe, cannot be reproduced.] might be made, as an illustration for the schematic table. Let us say, to begin with, that here we have the Earth. Let us suppose that we have the human being upon the Earth. In regard to these four form principles, he would be dependent on the Earth's circumference; that is to say, he would be formed from out the Earth's circumference. Here (above), man is formed from within. Let us leave this aside for the moment, and consider how the human being is formed by the Earth, as a hunter, or breeder of animals; the result would be the very opposite. For example, if here, at this point, we have the influence of the constellations — that is to say, an influence coming from the circumference — then the constellations below the horizon (for the Earth covers them) would be able to influence man only by sending their influence through the Earth. Here the human being would have to adapt himself to the Earth in regard to his stars. And what lies in the middle would offer him the possibility to develop himself inwardly.
We may therefore say: the four upper members of man's formation lead him out into the universe; the last four members lead him to the Earth, and the stars come into consideration insofar as they are covered by the Earth; in the four central members the stars and the earth maintain a balance: man dwells in his inner being.
You see, even in ancient times these things were felt, and people said that a certain portion of the starry sky influenced man so as to form him from outside, from the universe. Of course, one had to accept different stars according to the seasons. The constellations change. But let us take, on a large scale, the epoch in which we are living. If we adopt the standpoint of a Greek reflecting over such things, we might say: The stars in the proximity of Aries send their influence from outside; also those in the proximity of Taurus; and similarly the stars near Gemini and near Cancer. These constellations — Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer — enable man to look back, to be inwardly mobile, to take hold of himself and to encompass himself.
The other stars, on the opposite side below, which are covered by the Earth, enable man to be a hunter through the influence of Sagittarius. He is able to live as a breeder of animals by taming the goat: Capricorn. He is able to live as a farmer, by — well, let us first take the simplest farming existence — by pouring out water, by walking over the fields with urns and pouring out water: Aquarius. And he becomes a trader through the influence of a star region holding that which carries him over the sea. For in ancient times every ship had the form of a fish. And two ships sailing side by side, traveling as trading vessels over the sea, are really the symbol of trade. So that by designating a ship as a “fish,” we would obtain here, as a twelfth sign: Pisces.
In the middle we have what lies in between, filling out man; that is to say, the influence of the blood, which fills the human being. How may this blood, contained in man, best be symbolized? Perhaps by taking the animal with the most intensive heart activity: the lion, Leo.
The maturing process — ripening: it suffices to look at the fields, at the ripening wheat or corn: the ear of corn represents the condition in which the fruit reaches the stage of maturity: it is the Virgin with the sheaf: Virgo. The chief thing here is the sheaf.
And if we consider the moment when man once more fits himself into the external world, or in other words, seeks to establish the balance, we have Libra. And where he feels the poisonous sting, where he feels that everything is slightly poisonous: Scorpio.

Man's Formation
Out of the Universe.
He takes in the Universe and looks back.
He looks out into the Universe. He takes in the mobility of the Universe.
He grasps himself (touches himself).
He encompasses himself.



Man's Formation from Within.
What fills him out.
He fits himself into the inorganic world and seeks balance.
Poisonous sting
Virgo with
the Sheaf
The Formation of Man's Activities on Earth.
The Extremities of Earth Man.
Breeder or Tamer of Animals.

During past epochs, people really experienced man's connection with the universe and with the Earth; but modern people are no longer able to interpret such things. They say: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and draw the corresponding signs, but in reality they do not have the slightest idea of what these things really mean. For it is necessary to consider them in the right way. If you look at an old picture of Aries you will see that this is not a materialistic or naturalistic reproduction; its characteristic trait is that Aries is always looking back; this gesture of Aries looking back is the essential thing in the picture. We have this gesture of Aries in the human being who is looking back on himself, on the universe that lives in him. Aries should therefore not be viewed merely in a naturalistic-materialistic way. The picture reproducing Aries, the sign for Aries, is not materialistic or naturalistic, but its essential characteristic lies in the gesture of looking back.
If you look at old pictures of Taurus you will find that he is always looking sideways and jumping. Also in this case the gesture is the essential thing, the gesture of looking around and activating the universal principle that lives within. Here, too, the gesture is the chief thing.
And if you look at Gemini you will be confronted by one man on the right and another on the left, yet they are always depicted in such a way that the right hand of the man on the right is clasping the left hand of the man on the left. Again, it is the gesture which should be considered. It expresses the fact that man is touching himself, feeling himself. The right and left side of man are set forth as independent beings, because in a certain way man is still outside and takes in his prenatal being by touching or feeling himself.
Cancer is the self-encompassed being, closed to the external world. Modern people also view the sign of Cancer materialistically, naturalistically. But to the people who took Cancer as the symbol for encompassing oneself, the chief thing was that Cancer, the crab, can put its claws round its victim, thus encompassing it. This is contained in the word Cancer, which encompasses man. Cancer is the encompassing element. It is really the symbol of the human being who closes himself within his own self, who does not only touch or feel himself, but who closes himself from outside within his inner being.
Leo, with the strongly developed heart system, is the true “heart animal.” The lion may be considered as the “heart animal.” The lion's qualities set forth the fifth member which should be borne in mind.
On the stage of maturity, we find Virgo, the virgin with the sheaf, and the essential thing is the sheaf, in which the fruit is on the verge of drying up. And Libra, the scales, expresses that we seek to establish the balance. Scorpio is, of course, the poisonous sting. And Sagittarius is in reality an animal form ending in a human being armed with bow and arrow. The Zodiac sign for Sagittarius is a human being sitting like a centaur upon an animal's body. It symbolizes the hunter.
Capricorn is really a goat ending in a fish tail — something which we do not find in nature. For a goat with a fish tail does not exist. But man, the breeder of animals, makes wild beasts as tame as fishes. This is consequently an artificial symbol. Aquarius stands for agriculture. In this sign people, of course, see water and so forth, and this is spiritually justified. But in this Zodiac sign you will always find a striding character: A man striding along with two urns and pouring water out of them. He is watering the earth and is therefore a gardener, a farmer. Pisces, the fishes, is a sign which I have already explained; it symbolizes trade, for in the past the ships were adorned with the heads of fishes, for example of dolphins — even though dolphins are not fishes — but the ancients thought that they were fishes. This symbol therefore indicates the character of trading.
We should not consider things schematically or superficially, as is so frequently the case today, but we should set out from this development of the human form, and from there endeavor to grasp man's connection with the universe and with the Earth. This will gradually reveal the human being, from the aspect of his form, as a member, a part, of the whole cosmos.
Let us now consider the question from the following aspect. If, to begin with, we take everything from the standpoint of the ancient Greeks — Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Aquarius, Pisces — we may say, when looking upon the human form: In regard to the shape of the head (consider everything I have already explained to you) the human being is formed from outside, from the cosmos. Then forces begin to work inside. They give man the possibility to become symmetrical. But in regard to the influence of the last groups of stars, we must reverse everything. The human being is also subjected to the influence of the Earth. He is influenced by forces. If this is indicated more thickly on the drawing, we may draw the other forces more thinly on the other side and say: If a human being particularly unfolds all that corresponds to Sagittarius, shown here (you know that this is the Zodiac sign of the upper thighs), he will have especially strong upper thighs and be a hunter. If he is a breeder of animals he must often bend his knees. If he is a farmer he must walk and is therefore depicted as a striding man, etc. And in regard to trading: if we look for a symbol connected with the human being himself, we come across the feet. These, in any case, are formed from outside.
In the middle we find the region where man forms himself. If I draw this form, it results spontaneously from the twelve Zodiac signs. We may therefore say: Here (in the middle), the universe or the stars send their influences more into man's inner being. Here (above), they influence him from outside, and here (below), they compress him. But you will recognize in this drawing the shape of the human embryo. When you draw the human embryo, you must draw it in this way, if you include the Zodiac; it can only be drawn in this way, in accordance with its own laws. When you draw a figure encompassing an angle of 180 degrees, you obtain a triangle. When you draw the Zodiac, transforming it so that it reveals its laws in regard to the Earth, you obtain through inner laws the shape of the human embryo. This would constitute a direct proof that the human embryo is formed out of the whole universe, that it is the product of the cosmos.
I told you just now that we should adopt the standpoint of the Greeks, but today we can no longer set out from Aries; we must set out from the sign of Pisces. We now have lived for many centuries under the sign of Pisces. It is the sign which marks man's transition to intellectualism. But if you go back to the point where it was still justified to set out from Aries and it was possible to speak of the Zodiac in the old meaning, you will not obtain more than the callings represented by Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces; namely, hunter, breeder of animals, farmer, and trader. Everything connected with industrialism, etc., already pertains to the epoch of Pisces, and it is a repetition.
Consider the following: We now live in the age of Pisces. During this age developed everything which constitutes the present civilization of machines. But if we go back to the epoch of Aries, we still find the four honest callings, and although they had already become more complicated and modified, they placed man into nature. And by going back still farther, to the epoch of Taurus, to the third, second, first post-Atlantean ages, to the last Atlantean epoch, and to the last but one Atlantean epoch, etc., we would finally come to Pisces. There we would find that man was a completely etheric being and that he had not yet come down to the physical world. In the age of Pisces we find that he was an etheric being, and in the present time he is really repeating what he already passed through at that time, when he developed into a human being. Since the middle of the fifteenth century he is repeating this stage, but in an abstract way. In the past he grew concretely into his human development. Since the middle of the fifteenth century he is growing into his abstractions, for a machine is also an abstraction. Since the return of the age of Pisces, man has really sailed into the forces which dissolve him. And when he will reach Aquarius, this dissolution will have progressed in an essential way; he will then above all be unable to have the slightest connection with the universe unless he clings to the spiritual world. Just because of this repetition, man must penetrate into the spiritual world.
This also shows you that in reality man is a threefold being: he is formed out of the cosmos insofar as he has a head; he develops within his own self and is only in correspondence with the external world insofar as he has a thorax; he develops his extremities and his metabolic processes by inserting himself into the earthly sphere.
Also from another aspect we have before us a threefold being. Consider that when the human being reaches birth, the first four force-impulses lie within him; he unfolds them, but even then he is in a certain sense a complete human being, except that the other eight members are still in a rudimentary stage. The head is a complete human being; the other members, attached to it, are rudimentary. The thorax, too, is a complete human being, but the first four force-impulses and the last four are rudimentary. Also the limbs form a complete human being, but the thorax and the head attached to it are rudimentary. Three human beings are thus contained in man. The first one, the head, is in reality the transformation of the preceding incarnation. The thorax man is in reality the present incarnation as such. And what the human being does, the way in which he is active in the external world, particularly what comes to expression in his limbs and in his metabolic processes, carry him across into the next incarnation. Man is therefore a threefold being also in this connection. The human form may thus be studied as a complete whole.
We should really say: If we wish to make a drawing of the human being we should have to draw his head. We then have before us a complete human being. You will gather this from the following fact: In the lower jaw you really have the legs, except that there they are turned backwards and the head is sitting on its legs. The head is a complete human being, but its legs are reversed; they form the lower jaw and man is sitting on it, so that here I can draw a complete human being in a sitting posture.
Also the thorax is a complete human being. The arms are, as it were, the external representatives of etheric eyes. And again, the limbs are a complete human being. There, for example, the kidneys would be the eyes. Also in regard to the human form we thus have three human beings which are linked together. They interpenetrate in such a way that the human being that has hidden itself into the head, which has become a sphere, reveals to us what penetrated into the present life from the preceding incarnation; the human being in the thorax is really the human being of the present incarnation; and the human being running about is the one that penetrates into the next incarnation.
But in a certain sense we may say: Also man's whole attitude in the present reveals this threefold character. Take the limbs and the metabolic processes. In regard to these, man is able to produce a complete human being. You only need to consider the human germ, the human embryo in the mother's body, in order to obtain metabolic man with his limbs, seeking to become a complete human being. Take thoracic man and observe how the head and the thorax still form a whole in the child, during its infancy. This threefold aspect thus appears also in the growing human being.
When man outgrows infancy, he must be educated. The human being living in the head is the educator and educates the other human being — the childish head teaches the child (“Kindskopf den Kindskopf”) — for in reality the human being always remains a child in regard to his head. He only grows old, that is to say, middle-aged, in regard to the middle part, the thoracic man, and quite old in regard to the metabolic-limb man. People notice this, as they grow old. Even in accordance with the old riddle “When young, it walks on four legs; in middle age on two, and in old age on three,” people notice that they grow old in this connection. Also in regard to his head, man always remains, as it were, the result of his past incarnation. The head really remains a child throughout life. Indeed, we may say: The science of education should try to solve the problem of how the childish head, which is the teacher, should treat the childish pupil in the right way.
These things are apparently humoristic, but they conceal a deep truth which should be borne in mind in order to obtain a correct view concerning man.
Consider that in reality man's head is the passenger conveyed by the remaining human being — a passenger who is a spy. The head's legs are always in a sitting posture, the head does not even attempt to walk independently. It is always being carried, like a man traveling by coach. In reality, the head is the passenger in man.
Thoracic man is instead the human being's nurse. And limb-man is the worker, who is employed as a slave, for it is really he who is passing through life. We are head, as far as Cancer. We have this from heaven, without any cooperation on our part. Here (in the center) we must breathe and eat; this is our nurse. And the real worker belongs to the sphere of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
You see, this enables us to obtain man's form in its connection with the whole universe. It is only necessary to take things quite earnestly, even if they are set before you more lightly and not pedantically. They will show you that everything I have explained to you today contains, on the one hand, the possibility to grasp the human form out of the whole cosmos, but on the other hand lies what may fill us, I might say, with great reverence for the primeval wisdom of men who were able to place into their Zodiac symbols such a tremendously significant science of Man, drawn out of their instinctive clairvoyance. Today we have instead a science in which people stare at Aries without knowing that its characteristic lies in the fact that it turns backwards; that the characteristic of Gemini lies in the fact that they touch each other, clasp hands, and so forth. Everything in the Zodiac symbols is immensely profound, deeply significant — each gesture, every single sign. And when the gesture itself is not the essential thing, as in Leo, then the symbol is chosen in such a way that the sign itself, I might say, expresses the gesture; the Lion is chosen, because he has the strongest heart pulsation. The Lion is the representative of the forces which fill out the human being.
In this way it is possible to draw to the surface again the primeval wisdom of the ages, by finding it within ourselves.

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