Overview of solar system evolution

From Anthroposophy

Our solar system is to be considered as a whole and as an evolving organism. What we see and call our physical solar system is just a small part of it, a tip of the iceberg visible for physical senses and contemporary waking consciousness. The solar system is really a whole of evolving spiritual beings that roll-off a scheme of creation instigated by the three Logoi and the First Hierarchy. Central to this scheme or plan is the development of new classes of spiritual beings, furthering the existing spiritual hierarchies of spiritual beings. Man is the tenth hierarchy in this scheme, and an exciting breakthrough as it is the first class of spiritual beings that have free choice and love as the basis for future creation.


Therefore we can consider the solar system evolution from various aspects:

  • the rhythm of evolution: the three dimensions of evolution, with the seven planetary stages with pralaya and manvantara, etc
  • the development of the various classes of spiritual beings in and through this rhythm, through the twelve conditions of consciousness, to sacrifice and creation
  • principle during solar system evolution where the different planets split off to present communities for beings at different stages of evolution, illustrations for example:
  • the evolution of Man as the tenth hierarchy, the development of Man's bodily principles, intertwined with all other spiritual beings
  • the cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros already describes the previous planetary stages of Earth, incl. separation of Sun and Moon, from ancient clairvoyance, eg with Kronos (Old Saturn), Zeus (Old Sun), Chthon (the earth after withdrawal of the moon), and Gea (Earth) (1909-08-26-GA113)
  • the planetary seals, symbolic representation of astral images for the seven planetary stages of evolution, created by Rudolf Steiner and used on the seven pillars of the first Goetheanum

Inspirational quotes


.. the Thrones cooperate with the Archai .. and Old Saturn comes into existence. .. through the cooperation of other spirits the planetary bodies we call Old Sun and Old Moon come into existence. We are speaking here of the deeds of these spiritual Beings. In describing the world of spirit we must begin with the beings. We call them the spiritual hierarchies and pass on to their deeds which come to expression through the planets in their courses.


Schema FMC00.149: gives a tabular synthesis showing the development of the Spectrum of elements and ethers and the development of our current Four kingdoms of nature as well as Man's developing Condition of Consciousness, see also Schema FMC00.583 on Man and nature's kingdoms in evolution

It shows how the plant and animal kingdoms evolved from the planetary stages of evolution: part of the development lagged behind and was not able to develop the next structural bodily principles, such as the astral on Old Moon, and the I on Earth.

gives a tabular synthesis showing the development of the Spectrum of elements and ethers and the development of our current Four kingdoms of nature as well as Man's developing Condition of Consciousness, see also Schema FMC00.583 on Man and nature's kingdoms in evolution It shows how the plant and animal kingdoms evolved from the planetary stages of evolution: part of the development lagged behind and was not able to develop the next structural bodily principles, such as the astral on Old Moon, and the I on Earth.

Schema FMC00.055 gives a more schematic representation centered on the Development of Man. In the first three planetary stages, the development of the lower bodily principles and a scaffold for Man's higher triad. The last three stages are the spiritualization of the lower to the higher spiritual Man. The I stands central to this evolution on the current planetary stage Earth.

FMC00.218A is a drawing from Rudolf Steiner in a letter to Marie Steiner, illustrating the development of Man's bodily principles in the seven main planetary stages of evolution, see also FMC00.055 above.


Schema FMC00.558 shows how initiates who guided mankind "laid down the whole evolutionary progress in the sequence of the days in the week", as Rudolf Steiner writes in a letter to Marie von Sivers dated 25 November 1905. The days correspond to the names of the planets or equivalent Germanic and Norse gods. See also Schema FMC00.378 for a traditional star-sequence representation.

Below are added the 'seven trees of existence', as another ancient teaching of primeval times, see also Book of Ten Pages.


Schema FMC00.525 is a notebook drawing (reference No. NZ712 dated 1906, published oa in GA089) by Rudolf Steiner, whereby he depicts the evolution of Man as the divine seed of atma, (arising from the nirvana world) that gives rise to Man's bodily principles in the consecutive planetary stages of evolution as it descends through the various planes or worlds of consciousness, see the image of the Golden Chain (eg Schema FMC00.141). Man originates from this spark or divine seed of atma and buddhi and our solar system evolution takes place in the planes from the higher spirit world downwards. The process consist of evolution and involution (1907-12-29-GA101), and on the return the spiritualization leads to Man becoming atma or spirit-man, Man becomes a God. Man adds something new to development, creates out of nothingness in addition to involution and evolution (1909-06-17-GA107). See Meaning of Free Man Creator. The turning point is given by the Christ Impulse at the Mystery of Golgotha, see also Cosmic breath of Brahma (eg Schema FMC00.400) and Overview of solar system evolution.

For the spiral symbol of evolution, see also Schema's FMC00.169, FMC00.438 (and FMC00.444), and FMC00.486


FMC00.149A is a BBD depicting the planetary stages in evolution

Schema FMC00.055A is a simplified comprehensive illustration of the seven planetary stages of evolution

Schema FMC00.014 gives a more schematic representation expanding Schema FMC00.055 above with the Three dimensions of evolution: CoC, CoL and CoF, and homing in on the current planetary stage down to the current epoch and cultural age.

Schema FMC00.203 shows the first six planetary stages in the three dimensions of evolution, to point out that for the evolution of Mankind, there is always only one but different CoL that is important per planetary stage (1905-02-06-GA090B, for nuance see explanation of this lecture reference on Earth rounds perspective). On Earth that is the current mineral CoL, on Future Jupiter it will be the plant CoL. On Old Moon Mankind was still at the level of the third EK, see The elementary kingdoms


Schema FMC00.276 below (click the schema, and click again to use the zoom to enlarge) shows the progression and contribution of the various spiritual hierarchies in the different CoL of the planetary stages mapping to the different CoC for Man. All spiritual hierarchies evolve themselves in a continuous dynamic, and develop through these stages along the various Conditions of Consciousness. Bold and underlined are the hierarchy that offer the sacrifice for the substance from which Man's bodily principle are woven, as well as the hierarchy that is going through the so-called 'human stage' (CoC=4).

See also The two halves of an evolutionary cycle and Overlapping evolutionary periods

Below the main table one can see the (subconscious) development of Man's higher triad (see also Schema FMC00.055 below), that than connects and merges with the lower triad on Earth.

This table can be used to deepen one's understanding by considering various perspectives:

  • Note the principle of AM and PM is explained oa in the lecture cycle on Genesis, as well as 'A Study Companion to Outline of Esoteric Science' by Almon Clopper. See also The two halves of an evolutionary cycle for more background on the influence of each hierarchy before and after the pralaya transition.
  • Compare this table with Schema's FMC00.149 and FMC00.203 above. Observe the development of the evil subhuman races, the first evil race will go through the 'human stage' on Future Jupiter. Compare this especially with FMC00.238 on I-less human beings, to see how the Jupiter-man is already appearing in the second half of the Earth evolution, just as Man was already appearing in the second half of the Old Moon evolution.
  • For another perspective, compare this with Schema FMC00.143 and FMC00.143A on The elementary kingdoms, which are another way to slide and represent the evolution of the human bodily principles through these stages.
  • The hierarchy which is able to sacrifice is at a specific Condition of Consciousness, so it can emanate it's own substance. Compare with FMC00.077 and FMC00.077A on Creation of solar system. Schemas FMC00.077A also depicts how on the upper end of the schema hierarchies flow back into the higher planes or the Logoi - see Creation by the three Logoi, eg Schema FMC00.067.
  • Related to the previous point, to consider what happens at pralaya (and maha-pralaya between an evolutionary cycle with seven stages like our solar system): The shedding of budhi around the nirvana plane is explained in 1904-11-09-GA089 and 1904-11-10-GA089, see also Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension.

Schema FMC00.414 focuses on the Cosmic breath of Brahma and the fact that even the planetary stages of evolution display a descent followed by an ascent, see also The two halves of an evolutionary cycle. See also Schema FMC00.196 that shows the various planes or worlds of consciousness for the different Conditions of Life in each stage. This schema was made to allow further extension with annotations regarding the implications.

For example:

  • relate this schema to the wheel of planes Schema FMC00.078 and the fact that there is no evil above the higher spirit plane
  • contemplate the meaning of the fact that with the Old Moon cycle, the whole stages dips completely below the budhi and nirvana planes (see Monad) and Creation by the three Logoi

Schema FMC00.507 provides a view on seven mysteries of life, relating to the seven planetary stages of evolution. This can be contemplated along with the spectrum of elements and ethers and the planes or worlds of consciousness, eg the second and the chemical ether, the fifth and sixth and the astral and lower mental world.


Schema FMC00.304 is a meta schema for purposes of study and contemplation, see Discussion area below.


Schema FMC00.196 shows various original illustrations from different sources in the last 140 years (1880-2020), representing the chain of seven planetary stages of evolution (and Conditions of Consciousness or CoC), and the seven underlying Conditions of Life (CoL) - see also Three dimensions of evolution. Sources include theosophy (Helena Blavatsky, Max Heindel - middle) as well as anthroposophy (Iwer Thor Lorenzen - lower right)


The variants Schema FMC00.196A to C illustrate how people have tried to make a synthesis of the complexity in a single schema or chart.

Schema FMC00.196A is by Willy Conrad (1946).


Schema FMC00.196E is a hand written english version (by an unknown author) of Schema FMC00.196A by Willy Conrad (1946)


Schema FMC00.196B below provides pictures of the schema by Ernst Hagemann (1959), and is added here for illustrative purposes only as the original is allmost 4 by 1 meter. It shows the bewildering complexity of trying to integrate the manifold dimensions into a synthetic representation. One can consider ao the following perspectives; for each planetary stage in evolution: the evolution of Man, of all spiritual beings or the hierarchies, the kingdoms arising in the planetary spheres, and the constitution of the solar system in terms of planetary bodies.

Schema FMC00.196C is a low resolution copy of a modern schema by Ron Gordon (click to enlarge). The schema is available in German and English languages and can be downloaded in high resolution JPG, PDF or XLS from Ron's site.

For a higher resolution of the English version download the PDF version

Schema FMC00.196D is high level version in a more popular clothing shared by Krasimir Traykov (2023). For the source file see here.


Lecture coverage and references


The characteristic physical form is gone through in the middle of the 49 stages. The human being entered into evolution as a universal spirit which then became a separate spirit. First of all an individual orb separated off from a general orb. Those individual human orbs went through the different transformation stages. One of the later transformation processes yielded the 'ether double body'.

This stage of first separation from the universal is called 'conscious awareness going down into the abyss' is reached in the physical stage of the first planet. 24 stages went before, with another 24 to follow. The middle stage, the 25th, is the densest. The physical potential for the human being arose as a dense physical orb. At that time the Earth was like the ether or like the consistency of light on our present Earth. When awareness had fallen into the abyss it had a form rather like a mulberry.

On the second planet, in the deep sleep state of awareness (dreamless sleep), the human being became immersed in number. The orbs developed on the first planet were acting in a certain regular harmony. A relict from that second state is that chemical elements do not combine in any random numbers. Colours and sounds are in an order determined by their wave lengths. On the second planet we thus find order based on measure, number and weight.

Only one world existed at the first stage (Old Saturn); at the second stage (Old Sun), when the human being had become immersed in number, it was possible to separate into two worlds. One world arose which remained a continuum all the way to the human being, and another containing everything that was not suitable for developing as far as the human being. This became a separate second world (potential for animal and plant worlds, the lower forms of life). Law: It is not possible to have higher development unless something is separated out and left behind at a lower level. The degree of development was specific and given in that potential of the first planet. From it followed the law of life. It is the law of unequal but full development—no taking without giving. The first obligation of the esoteric student is to give something back.

On the third planet a third element developed: the law of elective affinities. People develop sympathy and antipathy for one another. This law applies in all worlds, in chemistry, for example, and in the mineral world. This also made it possible for a new world to develop. The animal, plant and mineral worlds developed. The human being as we see him today did not yet exist at that time. He was still a kind of animal then, at the kamic level. The spirit had not yet entered into the body.

On the fourth planet, in waking consciousness, a new potential developed for some entities so that they were not subject to the law of elective affinity. A life form that went further had to come. This was birth and death, which did not exist before. This form of life could only come because entities no longer existed in isolation but were held together by a supersensible thread of life. Individual incarnations were as if threaded on some cotton. The entity became manifold in time through birth and death. Before, human beings were manifold only in space. On the third planet (Moon), multiplication happened by tying off and division, and all lived in sympathy and antipathy with one another. Everything which multiplies by division is therefore immortal in material terms. Because of this the lowest animals, monads, are immortal (according to Weismann). Death is only possible when insemination exists as well as division. The price for birth and death was that entities continued to be split off, with the human being developing at the cost of other entities. Because of this, birth and death was also imposed on all other entities, which have no individual karma. The human being had to push each of the worlds which were below him down by one level.

Birth and death are connected with human karma.

On the next [fifth] planet, the human being, having gained a higher level of awareness, will be aware not only of the workings of karma but will have conscious awareness in karma itself. His inner strength will have grown to such an extent that he will have the will to be his karma. He will bear it in his figure and physiognomy. His physiognomy will reveal what lies in his astral and mental body. It will then happen that someone who is good will also be truly seen to be good from the outside, and someone who is evil as evil. Such evil people will then be found only among those who trained in black magic. The great judgement will come, dividing good from evil. This will happen on the fifth planet. From the fifth planet onwards we can only speak of the evolution of goodness.

On the sixth planet everything that is meaningless will be eliminated as evolution continues; anything that shows itself to be senseless and illogical on the lower mental plane. This sixth planet is the planet of the Logos, the word, for it is the word which gives meaning.

On the seventh planet, a wholly purified condition will prevail. The planets that went before will have performed their functions, and the fruits of this will be gathered. This is the state of being in complete harmony with God.


The Spirits of Form have “trickled,” so to speak, the life-rain down on to Old Saturn.

On Old Sun they manifest through instincts, desires and passions raying into Old Sun, through all that is anchored in the astral body. If someone had sat there and looked out into cosmic space, he would not have seen lightning flash or heard thunder pealing, but round him in the astral light he would have perceived the passions of spiritual beings — everywhere, all around him, passions, and you must not at all imagine only lower passions. These passions and emotions now worked creatively on the planet from without.

If we consider the myths further we see the creative Titans within our earthly evolution, the creative passions which worked from outside, from the spiritual airy circles of the Old Sun when this was a planet.


describes how the previous planetary stages of Earth were already taught in ancient times, with the example of the cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros (see wikipedia page which places him at ca 580-520 BC, whereas his (possible) pupil Pythagoras is placed at ca 570-495 BC)

Let us now try to find a link between the results which super-sensible investigation has given us and life in ancient times. It is obvious that some other method might be adopted, but the purpose of this course of lectures is to compare what can be found irrespective of any historical record, with what has been handed down by another kind of tradition.

We will go back, not so very far, to a historical personage who lived in a comparatively ancient period of Greek culture, of whom history knows very little and the length of whose life even is veiled in much uncertainty.

Pherecydes of Syros is in a certain respect the forerunner of the other Greek sages. He lived at a time in Greek spiritual development called the epoch of the Seven Sages. This period preceded that of all historical Greek philosophy. The little that external history tells us of Pherecydes of Syros is very interesting; he, among others, is spoken of as the teacher of Pythagoras; and many of the teachings of Herakleitos, of Plato and of later sages can be traced back to him.

It is said that he taught the existence of three principles fundamental to the whole of evolution, and called them Zeus, Kronos and Chthon.

Now what precisely did he mean by these names?

  • It will at once be realised that Kronos is only another name for the Old Saturn evolution. In the teaching of Pherecydes, Kronos is the totality of spiritual beings belonging to the kingdom of Old Saturn, who during the course of the Earth evolution were able to bring about the separation of the Moon.
  • Now for Zeus! Zeus is a word of uncertain meaning when used in ancient times, for it was applied to spiritual individualities at very different stages of evolution. But men in ancient Greece who know something of initiation recognised in Zeus the ruler of the Sun spirits. Zeus lives in the influences which came to the Earth from the Sun.
  • Chthon is a designation of the somewhat chaotic condition of the earth after the withdrawal of the moon, at which time neither plant nor animal nor human forms were to be found.

In most remarkable words, Pherecydes spoke of the holy primordial triad, of Zeus, Kronos and Chthon, principles fundamental to the earth, having come over from pre-terrestrial ages; he also speaks of a further evolution. But in ancient times men did not clothe matters of this kind in such dry, crude concepts as they do today, they drew vivid pictures of what they saw and recognised in spiritual realms.

Pherecydes said: ‘Chthon becomes Gea (today called Earth), because of the gift of Zeus whereby she came to be covered as with a garment.’

This is a wonderful description of that evolution which I have just outlined in a few short words. The earth was alone; outside it were the sun and the moon, the spiritual kingdoms of Zeus and of Kronos. The sun from without began to work upon the earth and to fructify it in its then chaotic state; or, in the language of the old Greek sage, Zeus fructified Chthon. The beneficent influences of the kingdom of Zeus were sent down to the physical earth in the warmth and light of the sun. This was the gift made by Zeus to the earth. The earth covered herself with the garment of plant and animal forms, and with the forms of physical men. Chthon becomes Gea; therefore, because of the gift of Zeus the earth covers herself with a garment.

This is a wonderful picture, expressed in beautiful language, of what super-sensible consciousness is able today to rediscover in the epoch of the Seven Greek Sages. And Pherecydes could not have made such strikingly vivid statements, which can be verified by modern super-sensible consciousness, without definite personal knowledge.

This knowledge he derived from the so-called Phoenician initiation. He was an initiate of the temples of ancient Phoenicia and had brought over into Greece the Temple wisdom which he was at liberty to teach. A great deal of oriental wisdom came over in this way.

This is one example, among many, of the things that may be re-discovered in the words of the old sages independently of historical tradition. In this instance we have not gone back so very far in human history. If we are able rightly to interpret the expressions used, it is also possible to re-discover original teachings of very ancient times. It would, however, be false to accept the simple explanation that this or that Eastern teaching concerning the evolution of the world is found under the same form in Pherecydes of Syros, in the old Egyptian epoch, in the days of the Chaldean sages, and in the ancient Indian period. If this were the case, it might well be imagined that a wisdom rediscovered today is to be found, in different form, wherever humanity has striven after it; that wisdom is one and the same at all times and in all places. In its abstract sense there is not the slightest objection to be raised to this statement; it is true, but it expresses only a portion of the whole truth. Just as from the rest of a plant to the fruit there is not a regular succession of similar forms, but a variety, composed of green leaves, coloured petals, stamens, etc., of higher and higher development, so does diversity appear in the progress of human life on earth. Correct though it is to say that the sense wisdom appears again and again in different forms, an evolution or a development does nevertheless take place; and it is not at all correct to say that we find in ancient Indian times exactly the same conditions as exist today. That would be as inaccurate as to state that the blossom of a plant is the same as the root. True, the same force exists within it, but the reality emerges only if progress and development are recognised to be fundamental expressions of the secrets underlying human evolution. The teachings of the first post-Atlantean epoch may still be given today; what Pherecydes of Syros taught can be repeated today; but the earth evolution has also been enriched, and impulses have since been poured into it.


If we wanted to describe the World of Spirit we should have to attribute the origin of the spiritual universe to the co-operation among these twelve categories of Beings. Any description of what they do would have to deal with the planetary bodies and their movements. Let us assume that

the Spirits of Will (the Thrones) co-operate with the Spirits of Personality (Archai) or with other Beings—and Old Saturn comes into existence. Through the cooperation of other spirits the planetary bodies we call Old Sun and Old Moon come into existence.

We are speaking here of the deeds of these spiritual beings.

A description of the World of Spirit must include the Elementary World, for that is the last manifestation before the physical world; fire, air, water, earth, must also be considered.

On Old Saturn, everything was fire or warmth; during the Old Sun evolution, air was added; during the Old Moon evolution, water. In describing the world of spirit we must begin with the beings. We call them the spiritual hierarchies and pass on to their deeds which come to expression through the planets in their courses.

And to have a picture of how all this manifests in the Elementary World we must describe it by using terms derived from this world. Only in this way is it possible to give a picture of the world of spirit lying behind the Elementary World and our physical world of sense.


Those people who lived more to the West went through different experiences. There we see remarkable and important inner events in the evolution of mankind. Let us take the case of a remarkable philosopher of the sixth century before the Christian era, Pherecydes of Syros. 3 He was indeed a remarkable philosopher, though present-day philosophers do not count him even as a philosopher at all. There are books on philosophy which actually say — I will quote a few words verbatim — that all he gives are childish symbols, childish descriptions. So does a man today speak who imagines himself to be greatly superior to those ancient philosophers. He calls these notions “childish and ingenious.” Nevertheless, half a millennium before the Christian era a remarkable thinker emerged in Syros. Certainly he describes things differently from other thinkers, who were later to be called philosophers.

For example, Pherecydes says,

“Underlying everything visible in the world is a trinity: Chronos, Zeus and Chthon. From Chronos comes the airy, the fiery and the watery element. Ophioneus, a kind of serpent being, comes into conflict with all that stems from these three powers.”

Even if we have no clairvoyance but only some imagination it is possible to see in front of us everything that he describes. Chronos is put forward not merely as abstract passing time but as a real being in a perceptible form. It is the same with Zeus, the limitless ether, as a living self-perpetuating being; while Chthon, who draws down to earth what once was heavenly, draws together into the planet earth all that is woven in space, in order to make earthly existence possible. All this happens on earth. Then a kind of serpent being interferes, and introduces, so to speak, a hostile element. If we examine what this remarkable Pherecydes of Syros describes, it can easily be understood without the aid of spiritual research. He is a last straggler endowed with the clairvoyance of earlier times. He sees behind the sense world to the real causes, and these he describes with the aid of his clairvoyance. Naturally this does not at all please those who prefer to juggle concepts. He sees the living weaving of the good gods and how hostile powers interfere in their work; and all this he describes from the viewpoint of a clairvoyant. He sees how the elements are born out of Chronos, out of Time seen as a real being.

So we have in this philosopher Pherecydes of Syros a man who still sees into the world with his soul, gazing into the world disclosed by clairvoyant consciousness, and describing it; and we are able to follow his description. Thus he stands before us in the Western world as late as the sixth century, B.C. while Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander and Heraclitus, who are almost his contemporaries, stand there in a quite different manner. Here two worlds actually come together. But how does it appear within the souls of these men? The old clairvoyance has been extinguished, paralyzed in them, and at most all that is left is a longing for the spiritual worlds. What, then, do they experience in place of the living vision that the sage of Syros still possessed, a man who could still look into the world of primal causes? This world has closed to them; they can no longer see into it. It is as if this world wished to close itself to them, as if it was still half present for them but nevertheless eluded them, with the result that they replace the old clairvoyance with abstract concepts that belong to the ego. This is how it appears in the souls of these men. Indeed within these Western souls there was a very remarkable condition of soul at that time. It is moving in the direction of intellect and judgment, which are precisely the characteristics of the ego. We see this within individual souls, as, for instance, in Heraclitus who still describes the living weaving fire as the cause of everything, with, we could say, a last trace of true clairvoyant vision. Thales spoke of water, but he did not mean physical, material water any more than Heraclitus meant physical material fire. But it remains something from the elemental world, which they can still half see through while at the same time it half eludes them, so that all they can give out are abstract concepts. In looking into these souls we can understand how something of the soul mood of these men can still echo into our own time.


Note 1 - About meta-schema FMC00.304

  • The two middle schemas 147 and 143 are Man-centric, they focus on the four bodily principles of Man on Earth, and how they originate from the three previous planetary stages.
  • Start with Schema FMC00.143, that has to be depicted against a background of the Golden Chain, see Schema FMC00.141 on Overview Golden Chain : new seeds ripple in from the higher planes into the spirit world, and bring something new.
  • Now add FMC00.203. Compare 143 with 203 to see how what is 'collapsed' in 143 to CoC level, is expanded in 203 to CoL. The blue principle happens at EK1 in CoL=1 on Old Saturn, the green principle is added on Old Sun, etc.
  • And now add FMC00.276 to see the hierarchies 'at work' in every CoL round.
  • Consider FMC00.149 which broadens the scope or perspective a bit, like a kind of zooming out, and hold or fit this to FMC00.147 (which is Earth kingdoms centric) to see from this zooming out how how Man fits into the dynamic of the hierarchies in the concert across CoL and CoF as symbolized by and depicted in FMC00.203 and FMC00.276.

Related pages

References and further reading