THE BIG PICTURE
I wish to thank and acknowledge Malcolm Gardner and Hugh Lovel for there parts in discussions on BDNOW from which this material has been refined.
Rudolf Steiner has outlined a multi layered reality for us to contemplate. The difficulty for the neophyte of RSs world view, especially when reading his lectures as they randomly appear in ones life, is that RS talks about these different layers or dimensions of reality as they relate to the subject at hand. Defining the overall order present throughout his work, in this manner is very difficult. RS has outlined his basic world view in the books 'Theosophy' and 'Occult Science- An outline' and it is helpful to read these books early in your interest in his work.
Over the years, I have found it useful to try and bring some clear understanding into the 'structure' of Rudolf Steiners view of creation. In this essay I do not wish to go into the process of creation, which is adequately covered in 'Occult Science', rather I wish to outline the big picture of the 'parts' of creation we are confronted with when exploring life on Earth.
Spiritual reality and material manifestation are so intimately linked that we can look straight to the Astronomical structure of creation, as we presently understand it, as the basis of any structured view of RSs work.
But first what are we looking for. To date I have come to see RS has described the overview of creation as a threefold being. We have a personalised or internalised reality, which manifests in the four kingdoms of nature, A 'World' reality which is best seen as the neighbourhood in which the Earth lives namely the Solar system and the Galaxy in which we exist, and thirdly the 'Cosmic' reality which encompasses all stars, planets and galaxies beyond our own.
The reason for establishing this order becomes apparent when we come to work with the spiritual bodies at the base of natures manifestations.
To imagine the cosmic spheres one needs to stretch ones imagination a long way. A slow journey through an astronomical chart of creation is invaluable for doing this. The National Geographic put one out some years ago. The charts I mean are the ones which start with the Earth and then macroscope out to the Solar system, (which has a diameter of 11 light hours), to our local stars and then to the Galaxy, which has a diameter of 100,000 light years. After moving through our local group of Galaxies ( 5 million light years) it enlarges to our local supercluster (100 million light years) to come to the observable universe with a diameter of some 30 billion light years across. From here we have to proceed briskly through Hindu Scripture which tells us that the superclusters of stars we can see - each around 100mill light years across- are only a small number of the amount which are breathed into existence by Lord Brahma, (the four headed, first created being who sits upon a lotus flower growing from the navelof Vishnu, who in turn is lying upon a serpent in the ocean of milk.)
Now it is with Lord Brahma that our story can start. All the universes breathed into creation by Brahma are 'swimming ' in a sea of chi or cosmic ether. This force is said to permeate all of creation and when it comes into manifestation appears as a growth process. In discussions with Hugh Lovel on the BDNOW email list (BDNOW@igg.com) Hugh has assured us this cosmic ether comes from beyond the stars and flows towards our galaxy and enters each subsequent gyroscopic being - galaxy, solar system or planet - through the horizontal axis. So with the Earth. it enters our atmosphere at the equator and travels towards the Earth before being sucked out the poles and off to the Sun. More about this later. This then is the Cosmic ether.
There are quotes from Steiner which state the Astral forces come from the stars of the Zodiac, while the Egoic forces originate in the stars beyond the Galaxy. The forces described here are the Cosmic Astral and Egoic forces which develop in other solar systems and radiate towards our Solar system from the periphery.
Astral forces are a result of the activity of the Ego or spirit. They do not develop by themselves. Lets use the human as an example. The spirit of an individual wishes to incarnate into life. It first of all joins together with a physical form which brings with it the development of an etheric body. Once the spirit is 'in life' it begins to have experiences from all its surroundings. The experience, sense impressions, memories and emotions created by any activity becomes accumulated to form the Astral body. This Astral reservoir , over time becomes so full that it begins to appear as a personality. It also starts to be seen through the forming influence it has over the etheric/physical organism. At this stage our personality can be seen in our bodily form.
On a Cosmic scale this same process is seen in the formation of stars and planets. Just as the Spirit is the central organising influence of a life form so we see a Sun is the central being of a Solar system. It is out of the whirling vortexes of Hydrogen that eventually a Sun ignites and begins to radiate more energy than it absorbs. From this gyroscopic generation and movement the Sun develops a large series of spherical electro magnetic fields. Along the horizontal plan at the equator of this 'being' matter begins to accumulate, due to the electromagnetic resonance of the whole being. At rhythmical distances along this equator the formation of planets occurs. Eventually the planets accumulate most of the matter in its particular sphere and becomes a solid form. Due to the formation of this mass it then begins to exert gravitational and electro magnetic altering influences upon the whole system.
This macrocosmic story is the same as that seen in the formation of an individuals Astral body. It has long been understood that the Spirit and Suns have an affinity and this gains more relevance when we appreciate Rudolf Steiner insight that Hydrogen is the physical carrier of the spirit. Now it is a simple enough jump to follow the metaphor and see that the Astral formation and that of the planets are similar. From my studies of Astrology I have come to see that the Sun in a birthchart is the residence of the spirit, while the planets of the birthchart and the movements of the planets in the sky act as excellent indicators of the activity of the Astral body in a humans life. From this I am in no doubt that the Astral activity is related to planetary activity while the Ego/Spirit is created by Suns.
To go back to RS earlier comment about Ego and Astral formative force originating in the zodiac and beyond, we can see he is talking of Cosmic Egoic and Cosmic Astral forces. All stars will generate Egoic formative forces and their planets will focalise or create Astral forces in relation to this . The stars of the zodiac are particularly those ones we can see are in our galaxy. So RS is indicating the (Cosmic) Astral forces developed by the planets of the other stars in our galaxy radiate towards us and have an influence upon the formation of both the World and personal Astral bodies of our creation. The Egoic forces as one would expect are much stronger, and forces from all other stars have the power to enter into our galactic 'egg' and act as formative forces as well.
This then forms the basis for the Cosmic spheres of our existence the
Cosmic Ego is sourced in the stars of creation
Cosmic Astrality is sourced from the planets around the stars of our galaxy and most notable from around the stars of the zodiac
Cosmic Etheric is sourced from Lord Brahma and flows from the periphery of creation towards the Earth entering at the equator.
The World spheres are best seen as the primary 'spiritual' bodies of our Earth. From the above examples it is clear the Sun at the centre of our Solar system is our central spirit being thus becoming the World Egoic source with the world Astral planets circling about it. Our Sun is responsible for the formation of the planets, upon one of which we live. This indicates our Earth , as a planet, in itself is an Astral formation, however for us it holds a special more intimate significance, as we live upon it. This firstly brings us into relationship with the physical body of the Earth, upon which we walk and then the life body of the Earth which is made possible for us to exist in due to the unique formation of the Atmosphere. It is within the Atmosphere that we find the right concentration of oxygen and the existence of light and warmth is such proportions that life can come into and be maintained in existence.
From this we can conclude the World spheres are
World Egoic forces emanate from the Sun
World Astral forces exist with in the planetary spheres
World etheric forces are maintained within the Atmosphere
World physical body is the Earth itself.
There is one development RS has made to this 'basic' picture. He has suggested that with the crucifixion of the Christ being 2000 years ago, the egoic forces of the Sun became more intimately connected with the Earth and that now the World Egoic forces work on us from within the Earth. As for the reality of this I can not say. No matter what spiritual event has occurred we must still deal with the astronomical reality that our Sun is the basic source of light, warmth and the immense sea of electromagnetic and nuclear forces we exist within.
Using this picture of the Christ joining with the Earth, makes it easier to understand how the egoic forces manifest as the Cosmic Silica stream of Earth energy, pushing up from the Earth. RS has also indicated the physical mechanism for this process . He outlined how the quartz crystals within the Earth act as a condenser, during the winter, of the Cosmic and World Egoic forces streaming onto the Earth, ( carried in by the Terrestrial Silica during summer) and then, due to the presence of clay in the soil, these Egoic forces radiate back out to the Cosmos through the stem and seeding formations of plant growth. This understanding has dramatic impact on the way we can approach plant growth.
In "Creations Layer Cake" -following- I have outlined in more detail the individual parts of World spheres of our creation.
The personal bodies of creation only find their full expression in Humans. (See Biodynamics Decoded - The Spiritual Bodies and the Kingdoms of Nature) We internalise the Ego, Astral and Etheric activities within our physical form. The lower kingdoms of nature internalise different combinations of these bodies. The animal kingdom is a manifestation of Physical Etheric and Astral combinations, while the plant kingdom is generally only internalising the etheric and within its physical form, while the mineral kingdom has just matter. When a body is not internalised it works upon that kingdom from outside.
Humans internalise all bodies
Animals are internalised Astral, Etheric and physical with the World and Cosmic Egoic forces working directly from the Sun and stars.
Plants internalise the etheric forces and have the Cosmic and World Astral forces working onto them from outside
Minerals have all forces working onto them from outside.
There is another part of this story to be aware of especially as it concerns Humans. RS outlines in 'Theosophy' how the Spirit, Soul and Body parts of Creation can be divided into smaller parts. As outlined earlier, the Spirit and Body work together, and from this activity the soul/astral is developed. The Spirit section can be divided into three parts, Spirit Self, Life Spirit & Sprit Man, the Soul part is devided into Sentient soul, Intellectual soul and Consciousness soul while the body part of the scheme can be divided into Physical, Etheric and Astral Bodies. Malcolm Gardner on BDNOW indicated that there are crossovers between the lower and upper parts of each section so we have the following scheme
Spirit Spirit Man Life Spirit Spirit Self Consciousness soul Soul Intellectual soul Ego body Sentient soul Astral body Body Etheric body Physical body
The higher activities from Sentient Soul and Ego body upwards are of particular interest to Humans. Through the life of a Human the Spirit/Ego complex continues to work upon the lower bodies. As the spirit works upon the Astral body so the sentient soul arises, as it works upon the Etheric body so the Intellectual soul develops, likewise the Consciousness soul arises from the Ego working upon the physical body. Next the spirit bodies are developed from the Egos continued working upon the soul 'bodies'. Spirit self arises from Sentient soul, Life spirit from Intellectual soul and Spirit man from Consciousness soul.
These processes can be seen in other philosophical traditions as well. The astrological development of human consciousness mirrors these same stages. In 'The Twelve Planets' I have gone into this in great detail, however as a reference I include the following diagram.
Do not be confused by the allocation of different planets to Steiners indications. Both are right they just relate to a different level or aspect of Steiners body or soul. The Astrological ordering of the planets is a indicates the spiritual level while the Atkinson arrangement refers more to the psychological level of manifestation.
There are three levels above Spirit Man RS talks about in Occult science. They are states of pure spirit, however they are still stages or levels one meets before fully entering the galactic realm.
From these diagrams it is evident that when we are dealing with the Ego, Astral, Etheric and Physical bodies in Biodynamic work and conversation we are talking only about the 'Body' and lower soul areas of Steiners descriptions of reality.
When talking about manifest beings we are firstly talking of the Internalised or personal bodies as well as the non incarnated World 'bodies'. To a lesser extent we talk of the Cosmic Ether, Astral and Ego forces. It seems to me the most significant issue of this complexity is that we are clear about which part we are talking about at any given time.
In "Creations Layer Cake" I am outlining the World activities as they manifest in our larger environment. I have taken some licence with the World and Cosmic Ego spheres and placed them both with the Galaxy. Afterall the Sun is just another star in the Galaxy.
Creations Layer Cake
Throughout my Biodynamic studies I have found it a constant challenge to fit the myriad of ideas and pictures I have been presented with into a cohesive wholistic picture. Hence I have continually endeavoured to find the practical or reality based carrier of any concept. One result of this search has been the development of the accompanying diagram. In it I am attempting to base the idea of the spiritual bodies presented to us constantly through Rudolf Steiners work in their physical spheres or homes and then explore how each sphere or layer is connected to the others.
The spiritual bodies, presented as the basic vehicles of manifestation by Steiner, may be a new concept to some people. They are however an important reality to understand and ultimately live with if one is to fully grasp what is presented to us in Agriculture' and RS work in general. The closest understanding of them we have in our twentieth century western Christian tradition is the understanding of the Body and Soul. These two groupings can and need to be each divided into two extra parts. The Body can be separated into its purely physical carbon based body and a body which carries the living, growth aspect of our physical body. Many traditions call this the Etheric body. It is this Etheric body which separates from the physical upon death, which then sees the physical body disintegrate. The Christian Soul can be devided into two parts as well. There is the eternal personal spirit where self consciousness resides called by Steiner the Ego and then the Astral body which is mostly experienced and understood as our psychology, emotions and psychic experiences. ( I understand in christian theologies the Spirit is reserved for God the father or the holy ghost. I would suggest in Biodynamics this is the Cosmic or Macrocosmic Spirit. ) The difference between the Astral body and the Spirit \ Ego is the difference between the Sun and its planets. The Sun is the generating vortex at the centre of our Solar system. It is out of the Suns activity that the planets come into being. The same is true of the Astral body. It out of the spirits active participation through life that our Astral body - sense impressions, psychological responses, neurosis - are formed. It can be said to orbit the Ego.
In Biodynamics the sayings As above so below and Life is a microcosmic image of the Macrocosm takes on the most practical expression I have met so far. We are presented with the picture that these four bodies find their source and homes in the macrocosm. Life as expressed in the
four kingdoms of nature, - the mineral, plant , animal and human - are bought into form and held there due to an internalisation or personalisation of small parts of these macrocosmic spheres. So we take for our selves a little piece of the Earth's matter, a dash of Atmosphere, a hearty slice of the Solar system and a pinch of Galaxy to become who we are. The proportions of this mixture are different for each kingdom of nature and within each kingdom each individual establishes a very personal balance as well.
In accordance with the picture presented by Lievegeod in The workings
of the planets in the life processes of Man & Earth I have placed the
Cosmic Spirit sphere with the Galaxy, The World Astral sphere with its physical carrier the Solar System, The World Etheric sphere in its home the Earth's Atmosphere, with the Earth naturally carrying the physical body.
In nature there is no black and white. Any living process will intermingle at some point with its neighbour. So wherever these physical dimension meet they crossover enabling an intermediate space of reality to come into existence.
So where the World Etheric enters into the physical sphere we have the development of the Biosphere. The minerals of the earth are lifted up by life processes - the Etheric - into organic processes of Carbohydrate, Sugars and Protein formations. Similarly where the Solar System and the Earth's Atmosphere meet we have the development of the electrically charged Ionosphere. Konig ( Earth & Man, Pg 89 ) shows how the Etheric ethers are manifest in bands of the Ionosphere. It is commonly accepted the elements of Fire Air Water and Earth are present predominantly in the Stratosphere, while the Gases of Hydrogen, Nitrogen Oxygen and Carbon (dioxide) exist in the proportions suitable for life only in the Troposphere. Within the Biosphere, these same four elements are the basis for organic chemistry. In this example we can see how the fourfold processes of the Etheric body organise themselves as different manifestations in each of these etheric layers.
Another interesting point to observe is how polarities seem to develop between one layer and the next. ( Indicated in the diagram as the lemniscates joining layers ) With the elements it can be seen the Earth in the heaviest with the water lying on top of the Earth. The Air floats above the water while warmth raises above the Air. In Konigs example above, the ether layers of the Ionosphere are described in the opposite order the Warmth layer being placed at 45kms, the Light from 100km, Chemistry (ether from 200km and the Life (ether ) from 300kms. This same process of inversion through a twisted lemniscate between, sister elements can be found in other layers as well and can be explored further later. The polarity relationships apparent between the inner and outer planets used in Biodynamics, especially when understanding the preparations relationships to the planets, is another example to explore. (Lievegeod )
In my experience Biodynamics is a physical science. Its concepts are based on physical realities and can be understood in a sequential common sense manner without the need to rely on faith, superstition or adhere to some abstract philosophy. It is a natural development out of sound Astronomical, physical scientific facts combined with an open lateral mind and imagination.
Creation is made up of a series of gyroscopic spinning beings, whose matter manifests on horizontal planes, while spinning around a vertical axis supported by two vortexes. ( Diagram 2 ) In fact Astronomy tells us space matter is sucked down these vortexes into a black hole and squirted out along the horizontal planes we see manifest. From the Galaxy, to the Solar system, the Earth onto to the plant and the atom it is the same story.
Diagram - Matter manifests on the horizontal
These beings, due to their spinning motion create massive electro magnetic fields. In the case of Stars their combustion creates electro magnetic rays as well. It is this electro magnetism of creation which holds everything in its present form and acts as one of the main conveyers of formative force and activity between all the different layers. The planets play a special role in this. They have very predictable paths and cycles of relationship with each other. Therefore as they move and alter the electro magnetic harmonics of our Solar System, at predictable moments, so manifestation alters accordingly. Hence the weather, plant sap flow and Human moods all move in a predictable dance orchestrated by the planets. As scary as this seems, my twenty years of observing these cycles has shown me beyond a doubt that this is so.
An imagination I like of creation , is to see
the electro magnetism as the blood of creation
while the Stars are its bones
and the planets its flesh.