From Anthroposophy

The starry skies are made up of star Constellations, whereby we distinguish the milky way and zodiac belt. In spiritual science these are called the 'fixed stars', part of a sphere that lies higher than the Planets part of our solar system.

Every star is a gate of entry for the astral, an expression of the love with which the astral cosmos works upon the etheric cosmos.Thus in the starry heavens we perceive, also in star clusters and nebulae, we behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.

These stars and images appears fixed because the etheric cosmos is organized for very long durations and hence we perceive the astral universe's perpetual but slowly changing influence on the cosmic ether.

See also: Planes or worlds of consciousness


Lecture coverage and references


Suppose you thus look into it and recognize that there is something in the human organization which falls right out of space, is not in space at all, but obliges you for instance to imagine spatially separated line-systems, inherently united with each other and yet united by another principle than three dimensional space affords. Thinking in this way, you will no longer be too far removed from what I shall now bring forward. You will at least be able to entertain the thought in a formal sense. No-one, I mean can validly object to thinking it as a pure form of thought. For to begin with, all we are called upon to do is to conceive a clear idea, as in mathematics generally. It cannot be objected that the thing is unproved, or the like. We are only concerned to reach a self-contained and consistent idea.

Think therefore for a moment that you had to do not only with ordinary space, conceived in its three dimension, but with a 'counter-space'. Let me call it so for the moment, and I will try to evoke an idea of it, as follows. Suppose I form the thought of ordinary, three-dimensional, rigid space. I form the first dimension, I form the second dimension and I form the third dimension (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Then I have, so to speak, filled-in in thought — in the idea and mental presentation of it — three-dimensional space with which I am ordinarily confronted. Now as you know, in any such domain you can not only advance up to a certain degree of intensity; you can subtract from it too, and as you go on subtracting — taking away — you come at last to the negation of it. There is not only wealth but debt. Likewise I cannot only make the three dimensions to arise in thought but I can also make them vanish. Only I now imagine the arising and vanishing to be a real process, — something that is really there. Of course it is possible to think only two dimensions instead of three, but that is not my meaning. What I now mean is this: The reason why I only have two dimensions (Fig. 4a)

Figure 4a

is not that I never had a third. The reason is, I had a third and it has vanished. The two dimensions are an outcome of the coming-into being and vanishing-again of the third. I now have a space, which, though it outwardly shows only two dimensions, must inwardly be conceived as having two third dimensions, one positive and the other negative. The negative dimension springs from a source that can no longer be there in my three-dimensional space at all. Nor must I think of it as a 'fourth dimension' in the conventional sense. No, I must think of it as being, to the third dimension, as positive to negative (Fig. 4a once more).

And now suppose that what I have been indicating is really there in the Universe; yet, as things generally are in the real world, approximately so. It would then be not a pedantically accurate but an approximate rendering of what I have here drawn. This need not cause you any great surprise, for in outer sense-perceptible reality you never find mathematical figures reproduced in any other way, always approximately. If then I claim that the picture represents something real, you will only expect it to do so in an approximate sense.

To represent a reality corresponding to it, I need not repeat exactly the same drawing, but I should have to draw something flattened; that would answer to it. The fact that something has been there and has then vanished, I may perhaps suggest in this way: I will suppose that the density of an effect, indicated by the dark shading, came into being and then partly faded out again, drew weaker (Fig. 5).

Figure 5

You are then left with a sphere that has a denser portion in the middle region.

Compare this with the real cosmic system, as we see it with our eyes: the cosmic sphere with all the stars widely dispersed, and then the stars more densely packed in the region of the Milky Way, or what we call the galactic system.

Yet you may also compare it with something else. Take any popular star-map. The picture we have shown (Fig. 5a)

Figure 5a

— let us still take it simply as a picture — is fundamentally equivalent to what is always being shown: the passage of the Sun or of the Earth through the Zodiac, with the with the North and South poles of the ecliptic somewhere out yonder. The idea we have been forming is, as you see, not so very remote from what is there in the outer universe.

[ continued to explain inner planets are within space and polar coordinates, but outer planets such as mars and jupiter require etheric counterspace coordinates - see Mathemathics of the etheric]

1924-06-04-GA236 (SWCC)

Here we come to something of extraordinary importance, something which in its true nature is quite foreign to the human being of to-day. Let us take our start from this. We have, first, the Earth; and on the Earth we have Man, with his etheric body. Then in the Earth's environment we have the cosmic Ether — the cosmic Ether which is of the same nature as the etheric in man. In man we also have the astral body. In the cosmic environment too there is Astrality. Where are we to find this cosmic Astrality? Where is it? It is indeed to be found, but we must first discover — what it is in the Cosmos that betrays the presence of cosmic Astrality; what it is that reveals it. Somewhere or other is the Astrality. Is this Astrality in the Cosmos quite invisible and imperceptible, or is it, after all, in some way perceptible to us?

In itself, the Ether too is imperceptible for our physical senses. If I may put it so, when you are looking at a small fragment of Ether, you see nothing with your physical senses, you simply see through it. The Ether is like an empty nothingness to you. But when you regard the etheric environment as a totality, you behold the blue sky, of which we also say that it is not really there but that you are gazing into empty space. Now the reason why you see the blue of the sky is that you are actually perceiving the end of the Ether. Thus you behold the Ether as the blue of the heavens. The perception of the blue sky is really and truly a perception of the Ether. We may therefore say: In that we perceive the blue of the sky we are perceiving the universal Ether that surrounds us.

At first contact, we see through the Ether. It allows us to do so; and yet, it makes itself perceptible in the blue heavens. Hence the existence for human perception of the blue of the sky is expressed in that we say: The Ether itself, though imperceptible, yet rises to the level of perceptibility by reason of the great majesty with which it stands there in the Universe, revealing its presence, making itself known in the blue of the vast expanse.

Physical science theorises materialistically about the blue of the sky; and for physical science it is indeed very difficult to reach any intelligent conclusion on this point, for the simple reason that it is bound to admit that where we see the blue of the sky there is nothing physical. Nevertheless men spin out the most elaborate theories to explain how the rays of light are reflected and refracted in a peculiar way so as to call forth this blue of the sky. In reality, it is here that the super-sensible world begins already to hold sway. In the Cosmos the Supersensible does indeed become visible to us. We have only to discover where and how it becomes visible. The Ether becomes perceptible to us through the blue of the sky.

But now, somewhere there is also present the astral element of the Cosmos. In the blue sky the Ether peers through, as it were, into the realms of sense.

Where then does the astrality in the cosmos peer through into the realms of perceptibility?

Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of entry for the astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in towards us, there glitters and shines the astral. Look at the starry heavens in their manifold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this wonderful configuration of radiant light, the invisible and super-sensible astral body of the cosmos makes itself visible to us.

For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just as though — forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is precisely true — it is just as though someone who loves you were gently stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those material entities of which modern physics tells.

It is the astral body of the universe which is perpetually wielding its influences - like the gently stroking fingers - on the etheric organism of the cosmos. The etheric cosmos is organised for very long duration; it is for this reason that a star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the cosmic ether by the astral universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking of your cheek. But in the cosmos things do last longer, for there we are dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.

In this way, an immense, unfathomable life, yet, at the same time, a soul-life, a real and actual life of the soul, is brought into the cosmos. Think how dead the cosmos appears to us when we look into the far spaces and see nothing but burning gaseous bodies.

  • Think how living it all becomes when we know that the stars are an expression of the love with which the astral cosmos works upon the etheric cosmos — for this is to express it with perfect truth.
  • Think then of those mysterious processes when certain stars suddenly light up at certain times, — processes which have only been explained to us by means of physical hypotheses that do not lead to any real understanding. Stars that were not there before, light up for a time, and disappear again. Thus in the cosmos too there is a “stroking” of shorter duration. For it is true indeed that in epochs when divine beings desire to work in an especial way from the astral world into the etheric, we behold new stars light up and fade away again.

We ourselves in our own astral body have feelings of delight and comfort in the most varied ways. In like manner in the cosmos, through the cosmic astral body, we have the varied configuration of the starry heavens. No wonder that an ancient science, instinctively clairvoyant, describes this third member of our human organism as the “astral” or “starry” body, seeing that it is of like nature with that which reveals itself to us in the stars.

Vreede pages 253 - 262-264 - 266


Related pages

References and further reading

see 'References and further reading' section on Astronomy