Introduction to Man as microcosmos

From Anthroposophy

'Man, know thyself' is the key that sends Man on a quest to understand one's self, and by getting to know oneself as a Microcosmos one also realizes how Man is tied up and an integral part and reflection of the Macrocosmos.

Today Man is regarded as having a physical body and consciousness. A comprehensive view requires to study a number of aspects:

  • Man's four bodily principles of earth, water, air and fire
  • Man's three subsystems: the nerve-sense, rhytmic, and metabolic-limb subsystems
  • the evolutionary dimension to how the above developed through the previous planetary stages
  • the holistic functioning of the whole, this includes
    • what happens during sleep vs waking life
    • what happens in breathing, the blood circulation, metabolism
    • what happens in case of illness, and the mis-alignment of bodily principles and/or elemental balance

A symbol of this topic is the figure 25920 as a symbol of the cosmic breathing pattern in Man and the cosmos.



  • the organs to the planetary spheres and etheric formative forces
  • the parts of the human physical body to the zodiac signs
  • the seven lotus flowers or chakras to the planets
  • nerves (see eg Nerve-sense subsystem#1924-01-12-GA233A)
    • the number of spinal vertebrae to the monthly cycle of the moon
    • the twelve celebral nerves and their relationship to the twelve months of the year


  • daily <-> etheric breathing of the Earth <-> Man breathing in and out the astral body and I (and spirit-self link with angel)
  • yearly <-> earth's course with Sun and seasons and solstices <-> alchemy of nature's kingdoms in Man (and life-spirit link with archangel)
  • life <-> one breath of the macrocosmos averaging 72 years <-> one human life (and spirit-man link with archai)

Inspirational quotes


And now we come to something taught in this school that is of the very greatest interest. It was taught by reference to facts of external anatomy, but a deeply spiritual truth was indicated. It was said to the pupil:

“Behold, Man is a Microcosm; he imitates in his organism what takes place in the great structure of the Universe.”

Nor was Man regarded as a microcosm, as a little world, only in respect of the processes that go on within him. What shows itself plastically in man, in plastic forms and structures, was referred back to processes in the external world.


Lecture coverage and references

Throughout Rudolf Steiner's twenty years of lecturing, the theme of the connection between Man and the cosmos represents a common thread. Man is an integral part of the cosmos, and also a reflection of the macrocosmos. Examples are lecture cycles such as:

The GA201 cycle takes a special place because in this cycle Steiner mentions takes a wide and comprehensive scope and also mentions or goes into key topics which are really innovations or novelties in terms of spiritual science. For example he mentions counterspace, annihilation of substance, but also goes into the two astronomies (solar and lunar), etc. In fact a very larger number of spiritual scientific topics are being concatenated in these sixteen lectures. Many of which are like 'essentials', eg the Jehovah-Lucifer topic, the Grail-Parsifal polarity, etc.

The cycle therefore represents an entry point into spiritual science, containing many 'mystery clues or keys' that are elaborated in the whole GA. An example is the 'formation of the heart through the two etheric streams' (see also Essay on the Second Lawfullness and the work of Lawrence Edwards).

The original title of GA201 was 'Der Mensch in Zusammenhang mit dem Kosmos 1: Entsprechung zwischen Mikrokosmos und Makrokosmos Der Mensch - Eine Heiroglyphe des Weltenalls')

Less known is that this was the start for a huge arc around a central and pivotal topic. In fact GA201 is the start of an arc consisting of nine lecture cycles GA201-209 and 124 lectures that all go under the title 'The Human Being in Relationship with the Cosmos' (Der Mensch in Zusammenhang mit dem Kosmos). They contain the two Cosmosophy cycles, and in fact the topic streams through down, over GA212 The human soul in relation to world evolution' to GA218 'Spiritual connections in the forming of the human organism' and GA219 'Man and the World of the Starts - the spiritual communion of Mankind'.

The period spans from April 1920 (start GA201) to December 1921 (end of GA209) but carries through to December 1922 (end GA219).


Related pages

References and further reading