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Do not confuse Old Sun with the Sun.

Old Sun was a period in time;

Sun is a place in the sky.

[See "Planets".]

   OLD SUN   

Let’s continue with the story of our evolution. If you’ll recall, Steiner said that we were created somewhat mysteriously, in a process that cannot really be explained. [See "Origins", above.] We emerged into a vague, very mildly physical (i.e., "warm") existence on/at/during Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn", above.] Then we and the solar system went away for a pralaya — what we might call a siesta or breather.

That is how Steiner usually described our beginnings. The next chapter of our evolution occurred at/during/on Old Sun. We and the solar system entered a second incarnation. In this existence, suffused by solar forces, we became “air” instead of “warmth,” and our etheric bodies began to form. (We would eventually have four bodies. The physical body is the first, the "etheric body" is the second. [See "Incarnation".]) Our development was pushed along by the Dominions and other gods. [For a listing of various types of gods, see "Polytheism".] We didn’t develop all that much, however. The purpose of evolution, according to Steiner, is to rise to higher and higher states of consciousness, eventually attaining divine consciousness rivaling or even exceeding that of the gods. But our early evolutionary stages were extremely sluggish. During Old Saturn, we were effectively comatose. During Old Sun, we rose to the equivalent of deep, unconscious sleep.

52) [Sleep, Sleep]  

“Man now passes [i.e., passed] through his second stage of consciousness on the Sun [i.e., during Old Sun]. It [our new consciousness] resembles that into which today man sinks during a calm and dreamless sleep. This condition, which interrupts man's state of wakefulness today, is a remainder, as it were, a memory of the time of the Sun development [i.e., dreamless sleep today is a version of the consciousness we had during Old Sun]. One can also compare it with that dull state of consciousness in which the world of plants exists today. As a matter of fact, in the plant [i.e., any plant] one must see a sleeping being.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), p. 175.

The "Sun" that we lived "on," way back then, was not yet a star; it was a "planet" (technically, a "planetary condition"), although a very tenuous one. [See the entry for "planetary conditions" in the Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] In other words, during its second incarnation, the solar system was a ball of primordial Sun-stuff. This ball extended all the way out to the present orbit of Jupiter. Everything that exists in the solar system we know today existed then as a single semi-physical mass or amalgam. We ourselves, in primordial form, dwelt within this mass. Gods of various sorts hovered over and around Old Sun, finding their blessedness in actions that assisted our development.

53) [Being Helped]  Here’s how things went for us during the Old Sun. First, we recapitulated the existence we had experienced during Old Saturn. (According to both Theosophy and Anthroposophy, evolution entails an almost infinite number of recapitulations: Each time we take a step forward, we have to repeat — in new, higher form — all the steps we took before.) In the process, many spiritual beings — gods — worked on us, as they and other gods would continue to do at later stages of our evolution. 

“What can be observed during the first Sun cycle [i.e., the first phase of Old Sun] the labor of the 'Spirits of Wisdom' (Dominions or Kyriotetes in Christian esoteric doctrine [gods six levels above us]). They have [i.e., had] intervened in the development of man around the middle of the first Saturn cycle [i.e., during the middle phase of Old Saturn] ... [They] now continue their labor during the first half of the first Sun cycle by repeating in successive stages the wise arrangement of the physical body [i.e., these gods worked further to develop our physical bodies, building upon the design previously laid out]. A little later this labor is joined by that of the 'Spirits of Motion' (Dynamis in Christianity, Mahat in theosophical literature [gods five levels above us]). Thereby that period of the Saturn cycle is repeated during which the human body received the capacity of motion.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959 ), chapter 15, GA 11.

Steiner goes on to list other spiritual beings who contributed to our Old Sun progress, including Archai (gods three levels above us) and Archangels (gods two levels above us). Bear in mind that during Old Sun, we were not yet really human. We were more like plants, actually (I’ll develop this further, below). Just as the Archai (Spirits of Personality) passed through their human stage during Old Saturn, the Archangels (Fire-Spirits) were human during Old Sun. One remarkable fact about this: The behavior of the "human" Archangels on Old Sun, like the behavior of the "human" Archai on Old Saturn, is not at all what we Earth humans, today, are capable of. They were "human" but they were also gods. Steiner’s conception of what it means to be human was quite elastic. At root, he meant that an entity becomes "human" when it first develops its "I" — its spark of divinity, its spiritual individuality. [See the entries for "human stage of evolution" and "I" in the Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

The solar system existing during Old Sun spun or rotated (much as it had during Old Saturn, only more so). This spinning created separations of the basic spirit/matter of the Old Sun solar system into higher and lower spirit/matter stuff. Among the condensing stuff was the stuff that would eventually become our physical selves today. The overall scheme is that during our evolution, we have grown more and more densely physical until the present day. We are now about as dense as we will ever be (unless we are evil, get denser yet, and fall into the terrible Eighth Sphere). In the near future, we will start becoming less and less physical (or more and more spiritual) again. (This is Steiner’s solution to a conundrum: Why does the universe that we see around us today bear no relationship whatsoever to the universe he described? And why are we, and all other living things, and all other inanimate things, and all observable processes and patterns, so completely different from what Steiner described? Well, children, it just so happens that we live in a period when the truth of Steiner’s doctrines is hidden, because ours is such a very densely physical period. But in your past incarnations, you would have seen that Steiner was right; and you’ll see this again in future incarnations. So hang on — all will be revealed, in time. This will, sadly, take a long, long time, however: Steiner taught that, in general, we reincarnate once every 2,166 years, give or take a few. So, if you have doubts about Steiner's doctrines now, in twenty or so centuries proofs of Steiner's correctness will begin to blossom all around you.)

Steiner taught that during Old Saturn, we were equivalent to minerals, and during Old Sun, we were essentially plants, so to speak. (During the third incarnation of the solar system, Old Moon, we were animals, sort of. And then, during our fourth planetary condition, "on" Earth, we finally became human.) 

54) [Mineral Level]  

“[I]n Saturn [i.e., during Old Saturn], man's physical body had been formed [i.e., conceived; it would not become the physical body we know now until present Earth]. The latter was completely lifeless at that time [i.e., we did not yet inhabit our primordial physical body]. Such a lifeless body is called mineral by mystery science [i.e., “spiritual science” — in essence, Anthroposophy]. One can therefore also say that on Saturn man was mineral, or he passed through the mineral realm. This human mineral did not have the form of a present-day mineral. Minerals as they are at present, did not yet exist at that time.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959 ), chapter 15, GA 11.

Nothing back then was like anything now, generally speaking, even if we use the same words for the things then and now. The warmth of Old Saturn wasn't like today's warmth, and the air of Old Sun wasn't like today's air. Nor were the elements, minerals, plants, etc., of those olden times like the elements, etc., that we find around us today. To even slightly grasp the "truths" Steiner tells us about ancient times, we must disconnect from what is usually called reality today.

55) [Competition]  Steiner proceeded to explain that, "on" the Sun, we shed from our essence the substances that would later become present-day minerals. Our evolution entails many such sheddings; we climb upward by tossing overboard bits of ourselves. These bits become members of lowly kingdoms of various sorts, such as minerals, plants, and animals. Thus, there is something rather invidious about our story, although Steiner doesn’t present it that way; rather, this is just how things work in the wide cosmos, he says. We advance by pushing others lower: 

“It can be seen that man ascends into a higher realm by thrusting a part of his companions down into a lower. We shall see this process repeating itself many times in the subsequent stages of development. It corresponds to a fundamental law of development."  — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959 ), chapter 15, GA 11.*

Our "companions" (whether they originate inside us or not) cease to be our companions when we toss them overboard. We thrust them lower so that we can rise higher. This runs contrary to the basic proposition that evolution, as divinely guided, is a beneficent process. It may even be considered contrary to basic morality. But it is how the process works, Steiner assures us.

56) [Overview] Here is a summary of our Sun/plant period; it appears at the end of the chapter "The Life of the Sun" in the book COSMIC MEMORY. I give it verbatim, with no added commentary. [You can find explanations of various terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

 The Sun is the planet on which develops the second human condition of consciousness, that of dreamless sleep. The physical human body rises to a kind of plant existence through the incorporation of an ether body into it.

This development passes through seven subsidiary stages (smaller cycles or “rounds”).

◊ In the first of these cycles the stages of development of Saturn are repeated, with respect to the physical body, in a somewhat altered form.

◊ At the end of the first cycle begins the pouring out of the ether body by the “Spirits of Wisdom.”

◊ In the middle of the second cycle, the work of the “Spirits of Motion” on this body begins.

◊ In the middle of the third cycle the action of the “Spirits of Form” on the ether body has its beginning.

◊ From the middle of the fourth cycle onward, this body receives selfhood through the “Spirits of Personality.”

◊ In the meantime, the physical body has advanced so far through the action of the forces which have been working on it since earlier periods that from the fourth cycle onward the “Spirits of Fire” can elevate themselves to humanity through it.

◊ In the middle of the fifth cycle the “Spirits of Fire,” which have previously passed through the stage of humanity, take over the work on the ether body. The “Sons of Twilight” are active in the physical body at this time.

◊ Around the middle of the sixth cycle the work on the ether body is transferred to the “Sons of Twilight.” Man himself now works on the physical body.

◊ In the course of the seventh cycle the animated monad has come into existence.

Our life "on" Old Sun was followed by another pralaya — we and the solar system once again dropped out of existence for a while in order to recuperate. In a future episode, we’ll move along to our next major evolutionary period, Old Moon.

* 57) [More Competition]  The process of evolution entails a continual separation of the higher from the lower, the better from the worse, Steiner taught. This is most dramatically true in the separation of the good from the evil. 

"The fact that humanity will be divided into those who stand on the right and those who stand on the left should not be regarded as unduly severe, as something unjust and uncalled for in the plan of Creation. Think of it rather as highest wisdom. Consider that though evil separating from good, the good will be immeasurably strengthened." — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press), p. 194.

This is the process we saw reflected in the separation of high races from low races, as described by Steiner. [See "The Moral View", above.] Some people (most people, we might hope) evolve upward to higher and higher conditions. But some people (unfortunately, quite a few people) stall at lowly levels or they sink from higher levels to lower levels. The high races become more populous as good souls ascend, and the low races tend to get depopulated. But errant souls stay in, or fall into, the low races, and eventually they drop out of humanity altogether. They lose their souls and sink to subhuman condition. This may seem sad, but remember that "though evil separating from good, the good will be immeasurably strengthened."


◊ 1. Old Saturn ◊                                           ◊ 7. Future Vulcan ◊

◊ 2. Old Sun                               ◊ 6. Future Venus ◊

◊ 3. Old Moon ◊         ◊ 5. Future Jupiter ◊

◊ 4. Present Earth ◊....

These are the seven mega-stages of our evolution, according to Steiner. (He sometimes said there will be five more after Future Vulcan, but he didn't describe them.) As the solar system evolves from one incarnation to the next, we evolve from one form of consciousness to the next. Along the way, we dwell "on" the successive "planets" (i.e., we live at the focal point of the solar system as it exists then). [See the entries for "incarnations of the solar system", "conditions of consciousness", and "planetary conditions" in the Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Our evolution from Old Saturn to Present Earth is, in a sense, a descent, in that we become more densely physical at each stage. But thereafter we reascend toward greater and higher spirituality.

Use this link to go to "Steiner Static".

Use the following links to visit other pages

related to this page:

also see "History, the Past"
and "History, the Future"

abnormal : what's normal and what isn't

epochs : great and not so great

going up : creation and science

Old Moon, etc. : loony

Old Saturn : starting out

Old Sun

origins : ours, not others'

Present Earth : here now

tenth hierarchy : us, upward bound


Atlantis : fourth stop

early earth : before Lemuria and Atlantis

epochs : great and not so great

Lemuria : third stop

millennium : the will be that wasn't

Old Moon, etc. : loony

Old Saturn : starting out

Old Sun


lunacy : that old devil Moon

Mars : astronomers and Buddhists beware!

Old Moon, etc. : loony

Old Saturn : starting out

Old Sun

planetary humans : on Saturn, etc.

planetary spirits : beneath our feet

Present Earth : here now

sci fi : the backbone

Vulcan : as it were