The Platonic Year or Great Year with its duration of about 25,920 years - that is the time the sun needs as a result of the precession movement of the earth's axis to return retrograde through all 12 signs of the zodiac to its starting point (vernal equinox) - is of fundamental importance for human evolution. Thus a cultural epoch lasts on average as long as it takes the sun to pass through a sign of the zodiac, i.e. 2160 years, corresponding to 1/12 of the Platonic Year. If human existence were completely harmoniously integrated into this cosmic rhythm, man would descend to a new earthly incarnation every 2160 years. However, since we can gain very different experiences in a male and a female incarnation, it is necessary for man to incarnate twice in each cultural period as a rule. In fact, at present we find strong deviations from this cosmically determined rule and the incarnations usually follow each other at much shorter intervals. It is precisely in this that the basis for human freedom lies, that man today is no longer compulsively bound to these cosmic laws, but has become independent of them to a great extent, in order to later harmoniously reintegrate himself into the cosmic structure of his own free will.
As far as the individual life of man is concerned, his rhythmic system (→ threefold structure of the human organism), i.e. breathing and circulation, is naturally closely connected with this great cosmic circulation (→ breathing rhythm). But also the average life span of man is measured by the Platonic Year.
„We all know that in spring, on 21 March, the sun rises at a certain point in the sky. We call this point the vernal equinox. But we also know that this vernal equinox is not the same every year, but that it moves away. We know that the sun now rises in Pisces. Before the fifteenth century it rose in Aries. Astronomy has retained the habit of saying "in Aries", but this does not correspond to reality. - This aside is not important at this moment. - So this vernal equinox moves forward; always a little further forward in the zodiac the sun rises in spring. From this it is easy to see that in a certain time it moves through the whole zodiac, that the rising point moves through the whole zodiac. Now, the time necessary for the sun to move through the whole zodiac in this way is about 25,920 years. So if you take the vernal equinox in a certain year: the next year it is advanced, the next year it is advanced again. If 25 920 years pass, the vernal equinox comes back to the same point. So 25,920 years is an extraordinarily significant period of time for our solar system: the sun completes a world step, I would say, by returning to the same point in its spring rising. Plato, the great Greek philosopher, called these 25,920 years a world year - the great Platonic world year. Now the following is strange - very strange indeed, but when one goes into all this strangeness, it seems infinitely deeply significant.
Normally a human being has 18 breaths a minute. They change: in childhood they are somewhat more numerous, in old age less numerous, but on the average 18 breaths are correct for a normal human being. Let's calculate how many breaths we take in a day. It is a simple calculation: 18 times 60, then we have 1080 in one hour; that times 24, the hours in a day, gives 25,920 breaths in one day. You see from this that the same number governs the human day in relation to its breaths, as the great world year is governed by this number in dealing with the vernal equinox through the zodiac.
This is one of the testimonies which shows us that we are not merely using a general, vague, dark-mystical expression when we say: microcosm - image of the macrocosm, but that man is really governed by the same number, governed by the same measure, in an important activity on which his life depends at every moment, as the sun's revolution in which he is placed.
But now let's take something else: the patriarchal age, as it is usually called, is 70 human years. Of course, 70 human years is not necessarily a binding number for the human being. Of course, one can become much older, but man is a free being and sometimes far exceeds such limits. But let us stick to this patriarchal time and say: Man lives on average, normally, 70 to 71 years. And let us examine how many days that is, then we have, not true, 365.25 days for the year. If we first take 70, we have 25,567.5; and if we take 71, we have 365.25 times 71 = 25,932.75. You see, with 70 years we get 25,567.5 days, with 71 years 25,932.75 days. From this you see that between 70 and 71 years lies the time when human life comprises exactly 25,920 days, so that the patriarchal age is precisely that which comprises 25,920 days. So you have determined the human day by the fact that it has 25,920 breaths. They have determined the human lifetime by the fact that it counts 25,920 days. Now we want to investigate something else. And that is not difficult. You will easily see that if I divide 25,920 years, which the sun's vernal equinox needs to pass through the zodiac, by 365.25, I must get about 70 or 71. I get 70 to 71, because I have also obtained it by multiplication. That is to say, if I treat the Platonic year in such a way that it is a great year, and I divide it so that I get one day, I will get what is then the day for the Platonic year. What is that? That is a human life course. A human life course relates to the Platonic year as a human day relates to a year.
The air is all around us. We breathe it in and breathe it out. It is regulated numerically in such a way that, by breathing it 25,920 times, it gives off our life day. But what is actually a day of life? A day of life consists of our I and our astral body going out of our physical body and etheric body and going back in again. So that day after day follows day: The I and the astral body go out, go in, go out, go in, just as the breath goes out and comes in. Many of our friends will remember that, in order to make the matter clear, I have even compared in public lectures this alternation of waking and sleeping with a long breath. Just as we exhale and inhale the air when we breathe, so, when we wake up and fall asleep, the astral body and I go in and out of the etheric body and physical body. But with this nothing else is said than: There is a being, a being can be presupposed, which breathes as we breathe in an eighteenth of a minute, a being which breathes, and whose breathing signifies our going out and coming in of the astral body and the I. This being is nothing else than the really etheric body and physical body. This being is nothing other than the really living earth being. As the earth experiences day and night, it breathes, and its breathing process carries our sleeping and waking on its wings. That is the breathing process of a greater being. And now take the breathing process of a greater being, the sun, which goes about. Just as the earth spends a day letting out and bringing in the I and astral body into man, so the great being, but spiritually corresponding to the sun, brings forth us human beings; for the 70 to 71 years are, as we have proved, one day of the solar year, of the great Platonic Year. Our whole human life is an exhalation and inhalation of this great Being to whom the Platonic year is assigned. You see: We have a little breath in an eighteenth of a minute which regulates our life; we stand within the life of the earth, whose breath embraces day and night: this corresponds to our going out and coming in of the I and astral body into the physical and etheric body; and we ourselves are breathed in by the great Being to whom the circulation of the sun corresponds as His life, and our life is a breath of this great Being. Now you see how we stand in the macrocosm, really stand in it as a microcosm, subject to the same regularity in relation to the universal beings as the breath in us is subject to our human being. Number and measure rule there. But what is great, meaningful and deeply moving to our hearts is that number and measure govern the great cosmos, the macrocosm and the microcosm in the same way. It is not a mere saying, it is not merely something mystically felt, but something that the wise contemplation of the world teaches us, that we as microcosm stand within the macrocosm.“ (Lit.:GA 175, p. 44ff)
- Gisela Gorrissen: Astrosophie des Tierkreises und der Planeten. Der Mensch im Spannungsfeld zwischen Kosmos und Erde, Urachhaus, Stuttgart 2002, p. 18ff.
- Rudolf Steiner: Bausteine zu einer Erkenntnis des Mysteriums von Golgatha, GA 175 (1996), ISBN 3-7274-1750-1 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Entsprechungen zwischen Mikrokosmos und Makrokosmos, GA 201 (1987), ISBN 3-7274-2012-X English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org (here, the nutation period and the associated lunar rhythm and its relationship to the human soul life are also dealt with in particular)
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Verhältnis der verschiedenen naturwissenschaftlichen Gebiete zur Astronomie, GA 323 (1997), ISBN 3-7274-3230-6 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org (The essential basis for an understanding of the relationship of the human being to astronomical conditions can be found here)
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