Planetary sphere

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Peter Apian, Cosmographia, Antwerp 1524

Seven planetary spheres (Hebrewגַּלְגַּלים Galgalim, singular גַּלְגַּל Galgal "wheel"), which correspond to the classical seven planets and together form the Hebdomas (Greekεβδομάς "sevenness"), surround the Earth in concentric circles from a geocentric point of view and constitute our present solar system. The actual reality of the planetary spheres is not on the outer physical plane, but on the astral plane. Here, the planetary spheres, which partially interpenetrate each other, delimit the Dominions of the Hierarchies of the higher spiritual hierarchies, which are connected with the earth evolution and human evolution.

Planetary spheres and karma

According to the ancient view, the seven planets determine the fate of man. The Gnostics saw them as the lower realm of spiritual darkness and corruption above which the light world of Pleroma rises.

Rudolf Steiner distinguished between fate-determining and man-releasing planets. The inner planets close to the Earth, Moon, Mercury and Venus, carry karma into the disposition and temperament of man; the outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn promote human freedom (Lit.:GA 228, p. 24ff).

The planetary spheres and life between death and new birth

In the life between death and new birth, man gradually wanders through the different planetary spheres and stays there for a certain time in each case:

„On earth we live between birth and death. Between death and new birth, the human being is in a certain connection with the other planets. You will find the Kamaloka described in my "Theosophy". This stay of man in the world of the soul is a time during which man becomes a lunar dweller. Then he becomes a Mercury-dweller, then a Venus-dweller, then a Sun-dweller, a Mars-dweller, a Jupiter-dweller, a Saturn-dweller, and then a dweller in the wider celestial or world space. It is not incorrect to say that between two incarnations on Earth there are embodiments on other planets, spiritual embodiments. Man is not yet so far advanced in his development that he can remember in his incarnation what he has experienced between death and a new birth, but in the future this will be possible. Even if he cannot now remember what he experienced on Mars, for example, he still has the powers of Mars within him, even if he knows nothing about them. It is quite possible to say: Now I am an earthling, but the forces within me include something that I acquired on Mars.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 318)

The higher spheres

See also: Spheres

The seven planetary spheres are surrounded by the fixed star sphere with the zodiac, the dominion of the Cherubim (zodiacal beings) and Seraphim. In the medieval world view, the ninth sphere is the Crystal Sphere or Crystal Heaven, which is also the Primum Mobile. In the Christian tradition, the concept of the crystal heaven or the crystal sphere was derived from Genesis, where on the second day of creation the firmament (Latin firmamentum, Hebrew רקיע, rakía) is spoken of, by which the heavenly and earthly "waters" are separated from each other. The uppermost sphere of the world is the Empyrean (Latinempyreus "in the fire", from ancient Greekἔμπυρος émpyros), the heaven of fire, the abode of the highest deity, the Trinity.

Similar views were also held by the Kabbalists. For example, Joseph Gikatilla (1248-1325), who lived in Spain at about the time of Dante, distinguished the following 10 spheres, which correspond to the 10 Sephiroth:

„The lunar sphere, the sphere of Mercury (Galgal ha-Kochav), the sphere of Venus (Gaggal Nogah), the solar sphere (Galgal Hamma), the sphere of Mars (Galgal Ma'adim), the sphere of Jupiter (Galgal Zedek), the sphere of Saturn (Galgal Shabbtat), the sphere of the Zodiac (Galgal ha-Massalot), the sphere of the 'Aravot Heaven, the Tenth Intellect. These are the ten Sefirot belima, to which the lower world, that is, the earth, does not belong.“

Josef Gikatilla: Sefer Ginnat 'Egos[1]

The Aravot Heaven corresponds to the Primum Mobile: "Know that 'Aravot is the ninth sphere, above all spheres, and it moves them all with a constant motion."[1] The tenth sphere corresponds to the Empyrean and, similar to Dante, is the sphere of the Separate Intellects (Hebrewשכלים נפרדים Sechalim nifradim), i.e. the angelic hierarchies, completely separated from matter. This community of ten nifradim (נפרדים "Separate") is also referred to by Gikatilla as the (rightful) prince of the world and active intellect and identified with Metatron.


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. 1.0 1.1 cited by Grözinger, p. 306 - 307