"A fourth cosmic condition called Earth begins with everything which had previously developed existing in a unified mass as in a spiritual 'seed'. The condition is as if the previous Moon condensation to as far as a gelatinous state had dissolved, rarefied and become spiritual warmth again. One might imagine mushy snow floating on water, dissolving and the water vaporizing and disappearing from sight. This spiritual warmth with the Spiritual Hierarchies weaving and streaming in creative activity within it is the beginning of our present solar system. "It is of a size extending far beyond Uranus and the outermost planets belonging to our solar system." (The Influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man, 39)." [Chu, Life before Birth - Life on Earth, Life after Death. (1972), p.92]The "Earth Era" is a period of recapitualtion of the preceeding cycles
(1) Old Saturn recapitulation (fire). The higher beings (spiritual hierarchies) work on and perfect the forces of man's physical body, which condenses as far as the astral plane. The senses originally derive from this period. More
(2) Old Sun condition (fire and gaseous). The higher beings work on the etheric body (etheric plane). The glands, and organs of growth, nourishment, and reproduction originally derive from this period. More
3) The Old Moon condition (warmth-air-water). The higher beings work on the astral body (on the physical level). The first rudiments of the nervous system appear. In one of his very early works, Cosmic Memory, Steiner describes the "biology" of this period:
"During this third cycle the beings...resume approximately the same forms of existence as they had on the (Old) Moon (era). There the lower man is a being intermediate between the lower man of today and the animal; the plants stand midway between the animal and plant natures of today: and the minerals only half bear their life-less character, for the rest they are still plants.
During the second half of this third cycle...the minerals harden, the plants gradually lose the animal character of their sensibility, and out of the uniform species of animal man their develop two classes. One of these remains at the level of animality, while the other is subject to a division of the astral body into two parts. The...lower part...continues to be the carrier of the emotions, and the higher part...(has implanted in it by the Spiritual Hierarchies) a certain independence...(and) mastery over the lower members...and therewith also selfishness..." [pp. 211-2]
The Earth Condition - More
Thus Steiner sees evolution as a transformation, a process of mutation and change over many cosmic cycles, involving not only life but even inanimate matter as well. According to this cosmology, minerals were in a previous time alive, it is only relatively recently that they - or maybe one should say their forms, their essences - have congealed into these present inanimate and inert forms.
From a scientific, astrophysical and astronomical perspetcive, this representation is the most absurd fantasy. But looked at as a metaphor, what Steiner is saying is that there are a series of Cosmic Cycles and stages of increasing manifestation and density (as indicated by the sequence "warmth" - gas - liquid - solid); in other words a theory of emanation. The fact that Steiner seems consistently able to distinguish the mundane outer physical side of things from the subtle etheric and inner physical aspect should not distract us from the contributions his cosmology makes as metaphor for the etheric evolution of the Earth and the involution of consciousness.
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