Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Redemption of Astronomy: Jupiter feels to us like a wheel turning in our head

Rudolf Steiner:

It's extremely interesting to contemplate how it was precisely astronomical models that mediated humanity's liberation from outer reality. And the same contemplation can help to show us the right path in finding our way back, for there is a general sense in which we must return again.

But how must we return? Kepler still had a feeling for it. I have often quoted his rather melodramatic assertion that he had stolen the sacred vessels of the Egyptian temples in order to bring them back again to the modern world. Kepler's planetary system, as you know, grew from a highly romantic conception of how the universe is built, and he felt that a renewal of the ancient heliocentric system had been accomplished in his own. Yet the truth is the ancient heliocentric system was derived not from a mere looking outward with the eyes, but from an inner awareness, an inner feeling of what was living in the stars.

Whoever originally set up the cosmic system making the Sun the center with the Earth circling round it, after the manner of Aristarchus of Samos, felt in his heart the influences of the Sun; he felt in his head the influences of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars; and he felt in his stomach and his liver and his spleen the effects of Venus and Mercury. This was a real experience, and it was out of this direct experience by the whole human constitution that this system grew.

In later times this all-embracing experience was lost. Perceiving still with eyes and ears and nose, humans no longer could perceive with heart or liver. To have perception from the Sun with one's heart, or from Jupiter with one's nose, seems like sheer madness to the people of today. Yet it's possible and it's exact and true.

Moreover it's obvious why they think it madness. This intensive participation of the universe was lost over the course of time. Then Ptolemy conceived a mathematical model of the universe that still contained a little of the old feeling to begin with, but was in its essence already detached from the world. The earlier disciples of the Ptolemaic school still felt in the earliest years, though very slightly, that something different is going on with the Sun than with Jupiter, for instance. Later they lost this feeling altogether. The Sun expresses its influence in a comparatively simple way through the heart. Jupiter feels to us like a wheel turning in our head.

January 13, 1921. Interdisciplinary Astronomy, volume 3, second edition, pp. 15-16. If ever someone needed a better copyeditor, that someone is Frederick Amrine.

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