Rhythm of a year

From Anthroposophy

The yearly rhythm in the relationship between the Earth and the Sun is reflected in the cycle of nature's seasons on Earth. The human calendar is also calibrated to this cycle of 365 days of 12 moon cycles and 12 extra days and 'holy' nights.

Nature's kingdoms oscillate between high expression in summer, with a maximum at midsummer or St John's day on 20th June, and the opposite in winter, with a minimum at the winter solstice on 21th December. This corresponds to an outbreathing and inbreathing of the Earth as a living organism. The process in nature can be described as an alchemical process, behind which spiritual beings are at work.

The process of in and outbreathing of the earth can be seen not just in nature but it also affects Man, the 'experience of the year' consists in living this connection consciously and becoming susceptible to the forces of nature at work.


  • The yearly process in nature:
    • Man lives closely interconnected with the process of nature in the four seasons, the sprouting in spring, nature at its height in summer, the dying off in autumn, and the withdrawal back into winter. Note Man, as one of the four kingdoms on Earth, takes part in the whole and the alchemy described below also takes place in Man. What happens in nature is an alchemical process at a grand scale, consisting of and executed or 'lived' by spiritual entities of the elementals of nature on earth that consititute or make up the living physical plant kingdom, and the archangels 'steering them'.
    • To picture how this grand scheme is composed one can proceed as follows: The left side of schema FMC00.106 (below) and RSL 1923-10-13-GA229 (read online) is explained in key extract 1916-04-13-GA167 (extract below), and illustrated in schema FMC00.104 (below). Schema FMC00.142D shows at a conceptual level how the different spiritual entities at work, hang together.
  • The twelve nights (see Thirteen holy nights) and twelve months are a symbol for the great 12.000 earth-year-cycle also called the 'cosmic year' of Zarathustra (1915-12-31-GA165)


Schema FMC00.107 shows the yearly cycle as an in and out breathing with the solstices and equinoxes as turning points. This lemniscatory view is also used in Rudolf Steiner's Calendar of the Soul, see 'Further reading' section on Christ Module 17 - The experience of the year


Schema FMC00.108 - The solar analemma does not map to the above conceptual picture (it depicts the changing apparent position of the Sun from a given location over a year), but it does give us a beautiful reality-version for 'feeling ourselves into' the pathway of the Sun between the two solstices.


The yearly process in nature

Schema FMC00.249 provides a summary overview of the Alchemy of nature in the yearly cycle of the seasons. This can be contemplated together with Schemas FMC00.009A and FMC00.142D (below).


Schema FMC00.249A illustrates the flow of the yearly process of the four seasons through the alchemical process base chart FMC00.249.

Compare with FMC00.107 above to see how the process goes between the two extremes of the summer and winter solstices, and imagine nature's in and out breathing on this schema.


Schema FMC00.106 provides an overview of the seasons and the connection between the work of the archangels, how we can see that work in nature in the cycle of the seasons, the alchemical process in Man (middle), and what it means for the experience of Man (right).


Schema FMC00.104 gives a image for contemplation of 'the golden buckets interchanging' (see Goethe's Faust and the Golden Chain) and the work of the archangels and nature's four seasons as per 1923-10-13-GA229

Schema FMC00.142D is a variant of master schema FMC00.142 also used for the Golden Chain. It shows the physical body of plants as we see it around us in nature, and the plant consciousness: the Group soul of plants, lying just as the second Elementary Kingdom in the lower spirit world. The schema does not show the plant kingdom's astral body, which is spread out across Earth.


Schema FMC00.294 makes the link between microcosmos Man and macrocosmos Earth and the yearly rhythm of winter and summer corresponding to the threefold Man as a warmth mechanism. Compare with Schema FMC00.0107 above.


Lecture coverage and references

Overview coverage

In the cycle GA229 the alchemical process in nature is described in a number of lectures, eg 1923-10-06-GA229 (see Schema FMC00.249) covers the different seasons but the other lectures complement this.

Source extracts


quote C

If we develop such feelings and moods, we obtain the right attitude towards the aims of our spiritual knowledge; these warm feelings which stream through our heart are a preparation for the New Cosmic Year, and they enable us to await it worthily, to look forward to that cosmic New Year's Eve which brings a new cosmic year. In future incarnations, when our souls will pass through the great Cosmic New Year, we shall experience it in the right way if the end of the year which closes the small cycle of twelve months becomes a symbol for the great end of the year which closes a cycle of twelve thousand years.

This is the secret of our existence. The things which take place upon a small scale always correspond to the things which take place upon a large scale, and upon a large scale the things are the same as upon a small scale. The small scale, the course of one year, can only be grasped if it becomes a symbol for the great cosmic course, for the cycle which encompasses thousands of years.

The year is an image for the aeons, and aeons are the reality of symbols which we encounter in the course of one year.

If we really understand the year's course, our hearts will be deeply moved toy the mysteries of the cosmos, at this time of the year which marks the beginning of a new year. Let us try to attune our soul so that it can look into the new year conscious of the fact that it can bear within it the year's course as a symbol for the great cosmic course, which encompasses all the mysteries pursued, by spiritual Beings who surge and weave through the universe from aeon to aeon, in the same way in which the lesser gods pursue the mysteries connected with the development of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms during the course of one year.


covers the yearly process in nature, an extended extract is given from an essential and explicit passage (SWCC)

.. the world around us is not only spread out in the way today's sense knowledge speaks of it, but there is a so-called elemental world at the basis of this nature, world which, if we go back into ancient mythologies we find descriptions of these elemental beings. The elementals that lie at the base of the mineral kingdom are called gnomes, those at the base of the water plant kingdom are known as undines, those aeroform elementals as sylphs and the warmth elementals as salamanders.

The beings we just described have a special task in the world .. External materialistic science says that everything makes itself of itself, but this is not true. Things do not make themselves of themselves. The person whose eyes are open to the elemental world sees how these elementals go through a kind of cycle of the year, how there are beings working down from the spiritual world upon these elementals. They work differently in each season.

.. we have an elemental kingdom spread out around us which lies at the basis of the nature kingdom and there streams down, one cannot say an instruction, but can say forces pour down in order that these elemental beings receive the power in spring to form the plant covering for the earth. The forces of certain spiritual beings are carried down, which impart themselves to these elemental beings so that a new world of form can sprout forth in the spring. And as summer approaches, they receive, as it were, a later course of instruction, forces are poured down upon them so that they can effect that which has to come about in summer.

An interworking between the spirits of the higher hierarchies and the elemental beings who weave and live in the nature which surrounds us performs itself in the cycle of the year. This means we are continuously concerned with an up and down pouring, an up and down streaming of spiritual beings of the hierarchies whose students are the elemental beings who provide the enlivening forces for all that which has to sprout and germinate in the course of the year. All that which arises and fades away in the course of the year does not simply grow out of the earth, but stands in a direct interworking with the divine spiritual. That that which germinates and sprouts in the course of the year stands in direct interworking with the beings who permit their forces to stream up and down and they pour these forces into the elemental world.

.. just as today sylphs, gnomes, undines and salamanders receive their influence from the beings of the hierarchies who stream up and down according to the course of the year, so when Man did not have such a solid physical body in ancient times, he also received instructions from the higher hierarchies who streamed up and down. .. sagas and myths tell us that in ancient times man received such instruction from beings who themselves had descended out of the spiritual worlds, and these myths absolutely rest upon a truth. Man found himself with those spirits among whom the gnomes, sylphs, undines, and salamanders exist today, and whereas these elementals receive those forces through which they are able to effect the forms which sprout out of the Earth during the course of the year, so man in ancient times received his instructions from hierarchies who streamed up and down. And that which he received in ancient time remains as a residue in writings which have still been preserved and from which an unprejudiced person can prove that once upon a time such 'primal revelation' did exist.


describes the meaning of water, salt, ash and the alchemical processes in Man and Earth (no extract here yet).


describes the cycle of the year as a breathing process of the earth.



Related pages

References and further reading

  • Walther Cloos: 'Das Jahr der erde - Von der Alchemie der Jahreszeiten'