Observing the animal form – Reading 2


“Let us now consider man in his present form, and ask ourselves: What is the oldest part of man according to his evolutionary history? It is the human head. This human head received its first rudiments at a time when the Earth was in the Saturn-metamorphosis. It is true that the Saturn-condition was composed entirely of warmth-substance, and the human head was then actually flowing, weaving, surging warmth; it then acquired gaseous form during the Sun-period, and fluidic form during the Moon-period, when it became a liquid, flowing entity; and only during the Earth-period did it receive solid form with its bony casing. We must therefore say that a being of which it is difficult to gain a conception through external forms of knowledge existed during the time of ancient Saturn, and of this being the human head is the descendant. And simultaneously with the formation of man’s head — this can be gathered from my recent descriptions — simultaneously with this rudimentary origin of the human head during the Saturn-period, the first rudiments of the being of the butterflies also came into existence. Later we shall make a more exact study of the nature of the other insects, but to begin with let us strictly focus our attention on the being of the butterfly. When we follow the course of evolution from the ancient Saturn-period onwards until today, until Earth-existence, we must say: At that time the rudiments of the human head came into existence in a form of very delicate substantiality; and at the same time there arose everything which now flutters through the air as the world of the butterflies. Both these evolutions proceeded further. Man developed his inner being, so that to an ever greater degree he became a being manifesting a soul-nature, which works from within outwards, a being whose development depends upon a radiating from within outwards. The butterfly, on the other hand, is a being upon whose exterior the cosmos may be said to lavish all its beauties. The butterfly is a creature upon which everything of beauty and majesty in the cosmos — as this has been described to you — has, as it were, alighted, together with the dust, on its wings. We must, therefore, picture the being of the butterfly as a mirror which reflects the beauties of the upper cosmos. The human being takes up into himself, encloses within himself, what is of the nature of the upper cosmos, and thus becomes inwardly ensouled. It is like a concentration of the cosmos which then streams outwards, itself giving form to the human head, so that in the human head we have something formed from within outwards. But in the being of the butterfly we have what is formed from outside inwards. For one whose clairvoyant vision can look directly at these things, there is something really tremendous to be learned if he sets to work in the following way. He says: I wish to fathom the mysteries, the most ancient mysteries, the Saturn-mysteries of the human head; I wish to know the true nature of the forces which have held sway inside the skull. He must then let his attention be directed to what is everywhere to be seen outside, to what everywhere streams inwards from outside. To learn to know the nature of man and the marvel of thine own head, study the marvel of how the butterfly came to be outside in nature. This is the great lesson imparted by the study of the cosmos through direct spiritual observation.

Evolution then proceeded from the Saturn-period to the Sun-period, and now a being came into existence possessed of a further development, an air-development, an air-metamorphosis, of the head; but to this there was added in very delicate substance what later became the breast-system, became the breathing-and-heart systems of man. In Saturn we have as the essential metamorphosis what produced the human head. When we come to the Sun-period we have the head-breast-man; for it was now that man’s breast-system was added. At the same time, however, there already came into existence, in the later part of the Saturn-period and the earlier part of the Sun-period, what must now be seen as having its representative in the eagle. The bird kingdom arose in the first part of the Sun-period, and in the second part of the Sun-period there arose the first rudiments of that kingdom of the animals which are in fact breast-animals, as, for instance, the lion — other breast-animals, too, but the lion as their representative. So that the first rudiments of these animals go back to the time of old Sun.

From this you can see what a stupendous difference is present between the evolution of even the higher animals and that of man. In the future I shall still have to speak about the transitional animals, to which belongs the world of the apes, but today my intention is just to gather things together into a general concept. You see what an immense difference exists between the formation of man and the formation of the higher animals.

In the case of human evolution it was the head which first took form. All the other organs are, as it were, appended; they may be said to be appended to the formation of the head. In cosmic evolution man’s development proceeds from his head downwards. On the other hand the lion, for example, first came into existence during the old Sun-period, during the second part of the old Sun-period, as a breast-animal, as an animal with a powerful breathing-system, but with a head still very small and poorly developed. And only in later times when the sun separated from the earth, working from outside, only then did the head develop out of the breast. Thus the development of the lion was such that it evolved from the breast upwards, whereas the human being evolved from the head downwards. This constitutes an immense difference in evolution as a whole.

And when we now proceed to the Moon-metamorphosis of the earth, because the Moon represented the water-condition, because the Moon was fluidic — though it certainly developed a horny substance in its later period — it was only then that the human being needed a further extension downwards. The rudiments of the digestive-system took form. During the old Sun-period, while man possessed only what was of the nature of air, undulating, scintillating with light, all he required for the purpose of nourishment was a breathing apparatus shut off from below; man was head-and-breathing organism. Now, during the Moon-period, he acquired a digestive system, thereby becoming a being of head, breast and abdomen. And because everything in the old Moon was still watery substance, during this old Moon-period the human being had outgrowths which buoyed him up as he swam through the water. Arms and legs can first be spoken of only during the Earth-period, when the force of gravity was working, giving form to what is primarily adjusted in accordance with the directions of gravity, namely the limb-system. This therefore, belongs only to the Earth-period. During the Moon-period, however, the digestive system was formed, though still quite differently constituted from what it later became; for man’s digestive apparatus did not as yet need to assimilate all that serves the free, independent mobility of the limbs. It was still an essentially different digestive system; this was later metamorphosed into the digestive apparatus appropriate to the Earth. It was, however, during the Moon-period that man first acquired his digestive system.

And then it came about further that to the descendants of the butterflies, of the birds and of such species as are represented by the lion, those animals were added which are predominantly adapted to digestion. Thus, during the Moon-period we have the addition of those animals which are represented by the cow.”

R. Steiner, Man as Symphony of the Creative Word, Lecture 6, 28 October 1923, CW230


“And when we see the eagle circling in the air we do in fact utter a reality when we say: These forces which stream through the air from the Sun in such a way that they are composed of the working together of Sun with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — these forces are those which live in the whole structure, in the very being of the eagle. But at the same time they live in the formation of the human head. And when we place man into the universe in accordance with his true nature — on earth he is only, so to speak, a miniature picture of himself — as regards his head we must place him into the eagle-sphere.

We must, therefore, think of Man in regard to his head as belonging to the eagle-sphere; and therewith we have indicated that element in the human being which is connected with the upward tending forces.

…And if we picture the special Sun-activity we must so draw the diagram of the human being that we place his heart, and the lungs connected to it, into the region of this Sun-activity. It is here, in this sphere, that we have the lion-nature in man.

…When we turn to the inner planets nearer the earth, we have first the Mercury sphere. This has to do in particular with the finer parts of the digestive organism of man, the region where the foodstuffs are transformed into lymphatic substance, which is then carried into the circulation of the blood.

Progressing further, we come into the region of Venus-activity. This is connected with the somewhat coarser parts of man’s digestive system, to that part of the human organism which works primarily from the stomach upon the foodstuffs which have been taken in. We next come into the sphere of the Moon. (I am drawing this in the sequence customary today in astronomy; I could also draw it differently.) There we enter that region where those digestive processes which are connected with the Moon act and re-act upon the human being.

In this way we have placed man into the entire universe. By turning our minds to those cosmic activities which the Sun carries out in conjunction with Mercury, Venus, Moon, we come into the region containing the forces which are taken up by the order of the animals represented for us by the cow, in the sense which I spoke of yesterday. There we have what the Sun cannot do by itself alone, but what the Sun can only do when its own forces are conducted to the earth by means of the planets which are nearest to the earth. When these forces are all at work, when they do not only stream through the air, but penetrate through the earth’s surface in various ways, then these forces work up again from the earth depths. And what thus works up from earth depths belongs to the sphere which we see embodied outwardly in the organism of the cow.”

R. Steiner, Man as Symphony of the Creative Word, Lecture 2, 20 October 1923, CW230