From Anthroposophy

Comets inject new impulses into the regular course of events within the normal rhythms and influences in the solar system development. They are astral objects that appear to and disappear from our sensory perception as they break through the boundaries of spacetime reality, their visibility arising from the friction caused by the astral body passing through etheric substance.”


  • Additional influences coming into the solar and planetary system: not just a body of physical matter in an orbit, as contemporary mineral science believes
    • Just as the movements of the planets circling the sun correspond to the regular events in the evolution of humanity, so the appearance of a comet corresponds to an influence that runs counter to the regular events.
    • Regularity, all that belongs to the common round, is connected with the lunar influence; the entry of an elemental impulse, always incorporating something new, is connected with the influence of the comets. In contrast to this regular course of events, there are things that always bring about a step forward, that are naturally distributed over wider spans of time; these events occur under the influence of the comets.
  • How to see it?
    • the relation between our planetary system and the comets can be compared with what is there in the ovum of the female germ-cell, in its relation to the male element, the fertilizing sperm. The planetary system receives something new into itself, namely the effects of a comet .. just like the ovum receives into itself the fertilizing effect of the male cell, the spermatic zoid.

How many?

  • “ .. Kepler said: in the great Universe there are as many comets as there are fishes in the ocean. We only see very, very few among them, while all the rest remain invisible either because they are too small or for some other reason.”


  • Comets appear visibly as they break through the boundaries of spacetime reality and then disappears again from sight as it dissolves and continues its way outside timespace.
    • Mostly all comets are a fleeting thing, it is not there to begin with, it comes into existence at every moment, then behind it melts away and vanishes again. In this way it thrusts forward — for ever coming into being on the one hand, passing away again upon the other.
    • It is not a body in the same sense as a planet is, — not at all. it is a phenomenon of compensation between ponderable and imponderable matter, — a meeting of the two kinds of matter, which do not immediately balance-out. It is a mutual friction of ponderable and imponderable matter that moves on through space, at every moment coming into being at every moment and passing away again.
    • they come in at the one side and disappear at the other, and when they reappear they have formed themselves anew.
    • When  the comet disappears from physical sight, it dissolves, and continues its way through a world not limited to the ordinary three dimensions of space; it no longer exists in the ordinary world. It actually disappears on the one side and appears again on the other.
  • Note in terms of paths as per contemporary astronomy
    • the exception are a few comets which really have long-drawn elliptical orbits
    • the paths of the comets frequently coincide with meteoric swarms which also play into the planetary solar system and present a riddle precisely through their association with the comets
  • “A comet is an assemblage of Kama, desire-substance, without the corresponding spiritual substance. The comet gets as far only as the astral body. The visibility of comets arises from the powerful friction caused by the astral body passing through etheric substance.”


  • Astral 'garbage collector'
    • From men continuously stream out erroneous and evil thoughts which pass into the astral world and continue to exist there,  such that the astral sphere of a planet is filled not only by the normal substances of its psychic being but also by this out-poured substance . Everything of a cometary or meteoric nature is ever striving to collect round itself all the harmful astral products, and remove them out of the planetary system.
    • Process:
      • as a comet approaches, it exercises a power of attraction as a sort of spiritual force centre which attracts harmful astral streams, develops them around itself and thus takes on form.
      • In its journey towards ‘the other side’ it draws this along with it, until it gets beyond the region of the planetary system, when it casts it off into cosmic space.
      • Then the centre of force builds itself again ‘at the other pole’ without needing three-dimensional space, once more takes up the harmful matter and throws it out the other side.
    • Lifecycle
      •  The various comets have here their different tasks, and when a comet has served its purpose it splinters. Thus we find that from a certain point of time onward, some comets appear as two and then splinter. They dissolve when they have completed their tasks.
  • Cyanide and astral cleansing:
    • Whereas the moon is a lunar body, which has gone too far in its evolution;  comets have remained at an earlier stage of evolution, and bring with it a renewal of the laws of the earlier Moon (as well as cyanides, as essential on the ancient Moon as oxygen and carbon are necessary to us on earth)
    • Comets bring cyanide to the earth, which via the sky becomes atomized on the earth and via the soil moves into roots and plants. Human beings then eat the competary deposit given to earth by the cosmos, and this cyanide substance is needed for the purification of astral bodies.


  • every comet exerts a particular influence on human evolution: favourable effects from one comet and unfavourable effects from another. … The various comets have here their different tasks.
  • A relationship is made with turning points in human history:  “Such things are exceed­ingly powerful realities, great and significant points in the evolution of humanity and of the earth.”
  • Examples: 
    • Biela’s comet: regency of Michael (end 1870s), the rise of the beast (1933)
    • Halley’s comet:  intense impulse towards materialism, different way of thinking
  • Other
    • Effect on good and bad wine vintage years (19th century research, Hegel, ..)


Lecture coverage and references





1924-09-20 covers Biela's comet and cyanide in comets

Halley's comet

Below follow two references for Halley's comet.


The comets appear at great intervals of time. Let us ask: when they appear, is their relation to human evolution as a whole such that they stimulate, as it were, the feminine principle in human nature? There is, for example, Halley's Comet, which now again has a certain actuality. The same could be said of many other comets.

Halley's Comet has a quite definite task, and everything else that it brings with it stands in a particular connection to this task. Halley's Comet — we are speaking here of its spiritual aspect — has the task of impressing on human nature its own special being in such a way that this human nature and essence take a further step in the development of the I when the comet comes near the earth. It is that step which leads the I out to concepts on the physical plane.

To begin with, the comet has its special influence on the two lower members of human nature, on what is masculine and feminine; there it joins company with the workings of the moon. When the comet is not there, the workings of the moon are one-sided; the workings change when the comet is present.


One who can investigate these things spiritually is able to indicate quite definitely the different functions of the separate comets, and how each one has to introduce something spiritually new into the world. Thus Halley's comet is one of those which, in its periodic appearances, always introduces something specially new into the life of man. Whereas otherwise things recur in the ordinary way, this comet brings about a new birth in human inner life and culture. I can only characterise what I mean, by referring to the three last appearances of Halley's comet, in the years 1759, 1835, and the one we are now expecting. What are the tasks of these three appearances? Other comets have other tasks. New births in the universe are not always to be greeted with the same joy as the birth of a young citizen into a family. All sorts are born into the universe; those that bring humanity forward as well as those that drive it back.

Now the appearance of Halley's comet, or what it signifies spiritually for the further evolution of humanity, is connected with that which humanity had to absorb out of the Cosmos at the various periods of Kali-Yuga in order that thought should descend more and more into materiality. With every new appearance of this comet a new impulse was born, to drive humanity further away from a spiritual cosmic conception by the I, and to urge it to grasp the world in a more materialistic way.

This does not mean a descent into matter, but rather the driving of that Spiritual substance which the human I should draw from the universe for its spiritual existence, down into the sphere of materialistic conception.

  • All those conceptions of the second half of the 18th century, which are called shallow and superficial and which Goethe so ridiculed in his Truth and Poetry and which found their exponent for instance in Holbach's Systeme de la Nature, are understood in their cosmic sense through the appearance of Halley's comet in the year 1759.
  • The commonplace materialistical literature of the second third of the 19th century was preceded by the appearance of that comet in 1835. Things that take place microcosmically on the earth are macrocosmically connected with events of the great world. A new impulse towards materialism was again given by the appearance of Halley's comet in 1835. Buchner, Vogt and Moleschott are examples of those who were influenced on the earth by what appeared with Halley's comet, as a mighty sign from the cosmos.
  • We are now to be confronted in the near future — for humanity must be tested, must rise out of itself, must feel the resistance to spirituality so that it may unfold all the more forces for its re-ascent — we shall be confronted with the forces which the new appearance of this comet will send forth from the universe, forces which may lead humanity down into a still more arid and dreadful materialism. Something may be born, which even the most arid and driest thoughts of the Buchner school could not have imagined. But this possibility is a necessity, for only if man overcomes the opposing forces can he acquire the strong force able to lead him up again.

Biela and the Andromedids

Best known for incredible displays of several thousand meteors per hour on November 27 of 1872 and 1885, today's Andromedids are only weakly represented by displays of less than three meteors per hour around November 9 to 14.

Since the 19th century the Andromedids have faded so substantially that they are no longer generally visible to the naked eye, though some activity is still observable each year in mid-November given suitable detection equipment.

In recent years peak activity had been less than three meteors per hour, with spikes of 30-50 meteors per hour in years as 2008.

From Wikipedia (2014-07)

The Andromedids (AND) meteor shower is associated with the comet 3D/Biela, the showers occurring as Earth passes through old streams left by the comet's tail. The comet was observed to have broken up by 1846; further drift of the pieces by 1852 suggested the moment of breakup was in either 1842 or early 1843 when the comet was near Jupiter. The breakup led to particularly spectacular showers in subsequent cycles (particularly in 1872, 1885).

The first known sighting of the Andromedids was December 6, 1741 over St Petersburg, Russia. Further strong showers were witnessed in 1798, 1825, 1830, 1838 and 1847.

The Andromedids produced spectacular displays of several thousand meteors per hour in 1872 and 1885, as a result of Earth crossing the comet's debris stream.

Then again, the next generation may be in for a surprise. The Andromedids have moved on and now pass far from Earth's orbit, but other comets continue to break and create new meteoroid streams. One date to keep in mind is May 31, 2022, when Earth will pass very close to (but perhaps will just miss) debris created during the 1995 breakup of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. And there may be others; we don't know yet what dormant comet nuclei may be out there that could break any time now.

How many comets - link with Kuiper belt and Oort cloud

From the ESA website:

The fact that comets die in what, astronomically speaking, is a short period of time (around 10 000 years), suggests that there must be a great reservoir of extra comets to restock them. By studying the orbits of comets, astronomers have come to the conclusion that two such reservoirs exist.

  • The Kuiper belt, out beyond Pluto, is a flared disc of comets that supplies most of the short-period comets (those that orbit the Sun in less than a century).
  • The Oort cloud (named after Jan H. Oort) is much larger and supplies the long-period comets. It encloses the Solar System, with an outer edge that reaches almost a quarter of the way to the nearest star.

By taking the size of the Oort cloud into account, and the number of long-period comets that have been seen, astronomers estimate that a staggering one 'trillion' (12 zeros) comets may be waiting out there!

from Wikipedia:

Comets have a wide range of orbital periods, ranging from several years to several millions of years.

  • Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt or its associated scattered disc, which lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.
  • Longer-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort cloud, a spherical cloud of icy bodies extending from outside the Kuiper Belt to halfway to the next nearest star. Long-period comets are directed towards the Sun from the Oort cloud by gravitational perturbations caused by passing stars and the galactic tide. Hyperbolic comets may pass once through the inner Solar System before being flung out to interstellar space along hyperbolic trajectories.

Comets are distinguished from asteroids by the presence of an extended, gravitationally unbound atmosphere surrounding their central nucleus. This atmosphere has parts termed the coma (the central atmosphere immediately surrounding the nucleus) and the tail (a typically linear section consisting of dust or gas blown out from the coma by the Sun's light pressure or outstreaming solar wind plasma). However, extinct comets that have passed close to the Sun many times have lost nearly all of their volatile ices and dust and may come to resemble small asteroids. Asteroids are thought to have a different origin from comets, having formed inside the orbit of Jupiter rather than in the outer Solar System. The discovery of main-belt comets and active centaurs has blurred the distinction between asteroids and comets.

As of August 2014 there are 5,186 known comets, a number which is steadily increasing. However, this represents only a tiny fraction of the total potential comet population, as the reservoir of comet-like bodies in the outer Solar System may number one trillion. Roughly one comet per year is visible to the naked eye, though many of these are faint and unspectacular. Particularly bright examples are called "Great Comets".


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Elisabeth Vreede: 'Astronomy and Spiritual Science' - letters 10 en 11 of Year Two (July and August 1929)
  • Georg Blattman: 'Comets: Their appearance and significance' (1985, in DE: 'Das Rätsel der Kometen')
  • Wilhelm Pelikan: 'Der Halley'sche Komet: Vom Geistig-Wesenhaften der Kometen-Natur' (1985)