It is impossible to understand the Earth evolution, in the sense of Spiritual Science, if one does not observe the facts of the preceding evolutionary cycles. For the facts of the Moon, Sun and Saturn evolutions are contained in a certain sense within the conditions that confront the human being at present within the sphere of the earth.
R. Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science, Chapter 6

Participants of the Agriculture Course were already deeply familiar with the worldview of Anthroposophy, and in particular Rudolf Steiner had recommended An Outline of Occult Science as preparatory reading to understanding the Agricultural Course . Anthroposophy sees the earth and all its creatures as the creative work of divine spiritual beings. An Outline of Occult Science describes in great cosmological pictures the developmental stages of the earth’s becoming. It was a topic which Rudolf Steiner often spoke about from ever new perspectives, as each evolutionary stage was as complex and multifaceted as our current earth stage.

The earth, including the human being, the kingdoms of nature, and the planetary system, has gradually passed through a series of evolutionary stages of gradually condensing and differentiating embodiment due to the formative activities of spiritual beings – the willing sacrifice of living warmth on Old Saturn, the shining luminous wisdom air of Old Sun, the inwardly moving and sensitive fluid relationships of Old Moon, and the individualised formed solid earth state of our present planetary condition.

The theme that Saturn works in warmth, the Moon through water in lecture one of the Agriculture Course, points to the order and arrangement of the present earth and planetary system as a unified macrocosmic organism, and its connection to the previous developmental stages of the earth, as pictured in Occult Science as Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon. We can take heart that Rudolf Steiner believed that “a farmer, at any rate, would easily comprehend the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods of evolution” presumably because the farmer’s work is embedded in Nature’s cycles and is so closely connected with the experience of the growth and development of plant and animal life.

It is helpful to contemplate the archetypal stages of creation as expressed through the planetary evolutionary stages:

Old Saturn Old Sun Old Moon Earth
Will Wisdom Movement Form
Warmth Light Tone Life
Warmth Air Water Earth
Mineral-like state Plant-like state Animal-like state Human
Physical body Etheric body Astral body Ego

The following readings describe the evolutionary stages of the earth and their significance:

To explore how this perspective underlies many of the indications given in the Agriculture Course please read the article The Evolutionary Stages of the Earth and Biodynamics.