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The connection between planetary conditions such as Old Sun and the present-day members of our solar system can seem less than crystal-clear. Steiner liked to keep things vague; he liked to speak and write mystically, as he presumably thought an occult master should. In some instances, the present orbs (the planets we see overhead, including the Sun and Moon) are evolutionary descendants of their ancient namesakes (Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon). In other cases, today's planets are predecessors of their future namesakes (Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan) But some planets existing now — Mars, Mercury — have no such namesakes, past or future. They trace their lineages elsewhere/elsewhen. As for Uranus and Neptune, Steiner denied that they are really members of our solar system. Thus, he had little to say about them as orbs existing today, and there are no Uranian or Neptunian planetary conditions in our evolution.
Even if we set all that aside and just consider the planets in our sky as they exist now, there is nothing simple about them, as Steiner defined these things. Here are a few indications. [For more, see "Planets", "Planetary Humans", and "Planetary Spirits".]
58) [Luciferland] Venus, for instance, is a husk tossed off by Lucifer. “Lucifer himself takes part in Earth evolution with the perpetual longing within himself for his true home, for the star [sic] Venus ... [W]hat Lucifer casts off as a husk...as the physical body is cast off by the human soul at death, shines down from heaven as Venus.” — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 77.
59) [Marsworld, Moonville] Mars is an inhabited planet. Steiner said that Mars is a warlike place, yet he said that some Martians are “beneficent beings who, compared even with the mildest human nature, are yet much, much milder — in their speech too, very mild and gentle. The speech of these beings has not that aridity of human language ... [T]hey inhabit Mars and are in fact the main population — as certain human races are the principal population on our earth ... [Where] love and kindliness prevail, where humanitarianism is unfolded, there you find the mild, gentle Mars beings present [i.e., the influences of Martians extend down to us] ... [T]he preponderance of moon beings or Mars beings...circling through a man gives his lymph its special character [i.e., inhabitants of Mars and the Moon actually enter our bodily constitutions]. If more moon beings circulate through his body he is a man who inclines more easily to wrong-doing [sic], irritation, and anger, if more Mars beings, then he is a man who is more inclined to gentleness, kindliness, mildness.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS, lecture 10, GA 354.
60) [Vulcan In the Sky, By and By] Steiner generally affirmed the occultist belief that our solar system includes a hidden planet: Vulcan. Some astrologers contend that Vulcan is actually Mercury, but others say that Vulcan is a separate planet, orbiting the Sun more closely than Mercury itself does. Astronomers have never seen Vulcan, and they point out that there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of Vulcan, but occultists counter than of course Vulcan hasn't been seen: It hides behind Mercury, or behind the Sun, or it is lost in the glare of the Sun. In any case, Vulcan is quite real. Moreover, according to Steiner, Vulcan's namesake — Future Vulcan — will become our final evolutionary stage (unless other, hidden stages follow it).
By any measure, Vulcan is a fascinating place. According to Steiner, humans dispersed to the various planets at one stage in our history, and some went to Vulcan. Later the people who went to planet Vulcan returned to planet Earth. And native Vulcan beings (nonhuman occupants of Vulcan) have come to planet Earth as well. "You will remember the passage in the book OCCULT SCIENCE [i.e., Steiner's book of this title] dealing with the time when the human souls ascended to the planets and afterwards descended once more to earth-existence. I spoke of how the Mars-men, the Jupiter-men and the others descended again to earth. Now an event of great significance came to pass at the end of the seventies of last century [i.e., the 1870s]. It is an event that can be described only in the light of facts which are revealed to us in the spiritual world [i.e., only spiritual facts (revealed through clairvoyance) can explain it]. Whereas in the days of old Atlantis human beings came down to the earth from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and so on — that is to say, beings of soul were drawn into the realm of earth-existence* — since the end of the seventies of last century, other Beings — not of the human order — have been descending to the earth for the purposes of their further development. From cosmic realms beyond the earth they come down to the earth and enter into a definite relationship with human beings. Since the eighties of the nineteenth century, super-earthly Beings have been seeking to enter the sphere of earth-existence. Just as the Vulcan-men were the last to come down to the earth so now Vulcan Beings are actually coming into the realm of earthly existence ... [This is a serious matter:] Super-earthly Beings are already here, and the fact that we are able to have a connected body of Spiritual Science at all today is due to the circumstance that Beings from beyond the earth are bringing the messages from the spiritual world down into earth-existence (! Spiritual science, i.e., Anthroposophy, exists because Vulcan Beings and other super-beings are bringing us messages!] ... Today people may consider it comparatively harmless to elaborate only those automatic, lifeless thoughts which arise in connection with the mineral world and the mineral nature of plant, animal and man [i.e., people today see no harm in confining themselves to the dreary, dead thinking produced by that physical organ, the brain]. Materialists revel in such thoughts which are — well — thoughts and nothing more. But try to imagine what will happen if men go on unfolding no other kinds of thoughts until the time is reached in the eighth millennium for the moon-existence to unite again with the earth [Steiner said that the Moon will return and merge with the Earth]. These Beings of whom I have spoken will gradually come down to the earth. Vulcan Beings, ‘Supermen’ of Vulcan, ‘Supermen’ of Venus, of Mercury, of the Sun, will unite with this earth-existence. But if human beings persist in nothing but opposition to them, earth-existence will pass over into chaos in the course of the next few thousand years." — Rudolf Steiner, "A Picture of Earth-Evolution in the Future" (THE GOLDEN BLADE, 1960), GA 204. For more on Vulcan, see "Vulcan". For more on thinking — dead and living — see "Thinking".]
* As usual, Steiner was being mystical and potentially confusing, here. If we take his interjected explanation ("that is to say...") to mean that human souls went to the soul regions controlled by planetary forces (the "spheres" of the various planets) before resuming life in the spiritual "realm of earth existence," then we may think he did not mean that humans went from Earth to other planets. But actually, he did. Each physical planet, in his teachings, is also a spiritual realm — because everything physical is essentially spiritual. But the planets do exist as physical locations, in the solar system here and now, and they existed in all of the earlier phases of the Present Earth stage of evolution (albeit they existed then in different form than they embody today). Indeed, the physical existence of the planets is necessary for the existence of the "spheres" of the planets as described by Steiner. In Steiner's teachings, a planet's "sphere" is the region of the solar system inside that planet's orbit: this is the region of the solar system under the spiritual/astrological influence of that planet. [See "Higher Worlds".] So, traveling in any sense from Earth to a planet or to the sphere of that planet means, in a basic sense, going to the part of the solar system occupied or controlled by that planet — as a spiritual entity but also as a physical entity. (All of this is complicated by Steiner's self-contradictions about planetary orbits. Sometimes he said that planets orbit the Sun, sometimes he said they don't. [See "Deception".] But either way, he meant planets that have physical existence in the solar system.) In short, going to soul regions controlled by planetary forces (planetary “spheres”) means going to the planets as spiritual, astrological, but also physical presences in our solar system. Going "to the planets" means much the same. "[W]hen the human souls ascended to the planets,” they were going to locations in our solar system — spiritual/astrological/physical locations.
60a) [Planets, As It Were] Steiner tried to clear such matters up, thus:
"In the fourth and sixth chapters of this book it was described how the World to which Man belongs, and Man himself, evolve through the successive states called ‘Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan.’ Some indication was also given of how human evolution is related to the existing heavenly bodies other than the Earth — Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, for example. They too are of course evolving, and in their present stage of evolution the physical part of them is perceptible to our senses in the forms known to physical Astronomy as ‘Saturn’, ‘Jupiter’, ‘Mars’ and the rest.
"Seen in the light of spiritual science, the present Saturn is a kind of reincarnation of Old Saturn. It came into existence because, before the Sun had separated from the Earth, Beings were there who would not have been able to leave with the Sun. They were so much imbued with Saturnian characteristics that they could not live where Solar properties above all were to be developed. So too the present Jupiter arose because Beings were there with characteristics which cosmic evolution as a whole will be unfolding in the future Jupiter and not till then. Mars on the other hand is a heavenly body inhabited by Beings whose evolution on Old Moon was such that they could not have benefited from any further progress upon Earth. Mars is a reincarnation of Old Moon on a higher level. The present Mercury is a dwelling-place for Beings who are ahead of earthly evolution in that they have developed certain earthly qualities in a higher form than is possible upon the Earth herself. Likewise the present Venus is a prophetic anticipation of the future Venus state.
"Such are the reasons for naming the past and future stages of World-evolution after the heavenly bodies — their present representatives, as it were, in the Cosmos." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 328-329.
[Rudolf Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS
(Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 168.]
Sometimes when he spoke of "planets," Steiner meant planetary stages,
and sometimes he meant planets per se (which he sometimes said do not orbit the Sun).
The distinction is not always as clear as it might be.
[For a look at how this all plays out in Waldorf schools, see "Oh My Stars".]
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