Conditions of Form

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Earth globe as a model of the physical stage of form of the Earth: "Globus Blaeu" at the State Historical Museum in Moscow.

In the course of world evolution, each of the seven Conditions of Consciousness (CoC) is divided into 7 Conditions of Life (CoL), and these in turn into 7 Conditions of Form (CoF), also called Stages of Form GermanFormzustände) or globes. In cartography, a spherical model of the physical Earth, i.e. its fourth condition of form, or of other approximately spherical celestial bodies or the celestial sphere is also called a globe.

The seven Conditions of Form are called:

  1. Arupa
  2. Rupa
  3. Astral
  4. Physical
  5. Plastic
  6. Intellectual
  7. Archetypal

To the clairvoyant gaze they reveal themselves comparatively like the seven hues of the rainbow:

„The conditions of form are called arupa (the actually still formless, only struggling to unfold), rupa, astral, physical, plastic, intellectual, archetypal. The seventh state is the result of the six preceding ones; after it has been able to form itself plastically and intellectually, it creates, as it were, the skeleton to which the following will be able to attach itself, which in turn has to shoot out of the germ. It is the archetypal...

Our present physical state would shine for the clairvoyant in a colour most resembling a beautiful green; the astral in a light yellow; the rupa form state in orange; the arupa form state in rose red. The hues of the future phases are blue, indigo, violet.“ (Lit.:GA 90a, p. 461)

Up to the 4th level there is a descent from the Devachan to the physical or physical-etheric reality, after which the outer existence is spiritualised again in the following three stages.

„The inner experience of the soul must first be preceded by the creation of this life. For nothing can be experienced that has not first come into existence. If secret science calls the inner experience the soul, it calls the creative the spiritual. The [physical body] perceives through organs; the soul experiences itself inwardly; the spirit creates outwardly. Just as the seven stages of consciousness are preceded by seven experiences of the soul, so these experiences of the soul are preceded by seven kinds of creative activity. The dull experience of the substance corresponds in the realm of the creative to the bringing forth of this substance. The substance flows into the world in an indifferent way. This region is called the region of formlessness. At the next stage the substance is subdivided and its members enter into a relationship with one another. Here we have to do with different substances that combine and separate. This area is called the area of form. On the third level, substance no longer needs to relate to substance itself, but the forces emanate from the substance, the substances attract and repel each other, and so on. We are dealing with the astral realm. On the fourth level a material appears, shaped by the forces of the environment, which on the third level merely regulated the outer relations and which now work into the inner being of the beings. This is the realm of the physical. A being on this level is a mirror of its environment; the forces of the latter work on its structure. - The further progress consists in the fact that the being not only structures itself in such a way as it is in the sense of the forces in the environment, but that it also gives itself an outer physiognomy which bears the imprint of this environment. If a being of the fourth level represents a mirror of its environment, one of the fifth level expresses this environment physiognomically. This level is therefore called the physiognomic level in the secret sciences. On the sixth level, physiognomy becomes an emanation of itself. A being that stands on this level forms the things of its environment in such a way as it has first formed itself. This is the stage of shaping. And on the seventh step, forming passes over into creating. The being that has arrived there creates such forms in its environment that reproduce on a small scale what its environment is on a large scale. This is the stage of the creative.

The development of the spiritual is thus divided into the following series of stages:

  1. Formlessness
  2. the shaping
  3. the incorporation of force
  4. the shaping in the sense of the forces of the environment
  5. physiognomic expressiveness
  6. the formative power
  7. the creative faculty.“ (Lit.:GA 89, p. 38ff)

This classification of the 7 states of form corresponds exactly to the one given above, only this time with the corresponding English designations.

„First of all, we have seven stages of development of consciousness, the Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan stages, and on each stage of consciousness seven stages of life, through which every being that passes through the stages of consciousness must develop. Each stage of life must in turn pass through seven stages of form, and in such a way that you must regard the so-called physical stage of form, which you now have around you, as the middle one. Before something becomes physical it is astral, before it becomes astral it is on a certain spiritual level, which is called the lower Devachan, and before something descends to this level it is in a higher Devachan level.

Stages of world evolution, drawing from GA 104, p. 202.
Stages of world evolution, drawing from GA 104, p. 202.

There we have three stages of form. The first can still be called formless, then the next is a stage of form, which we call the lower Devachan stage, then we come to the astral stage. When the astral condenses, it becomes physical. Then the physical dissolves again and goes back to a more perfect astral, which goes to a more perfect lower devachanic and this goes to the higher devachanic. The physical state of form is the middle one.

Seven states of form pass through each kingdom. You must distinguish between the physical and the mineral; they are not the same. Today, because the physical coincides with the mineral in sight, one can easily confuse the two. The mineral kingdom passes through all stages of form. It may be predisposed as a mineral kingdom at the top of the highest devachanic level. It then descends into the lower spiritual stage and is always mineral, then into the astral, where it is astrally preformed, and then it condenses into the physical. Thus we have seven states of form in each kingdom (see diagram).“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 201ff)


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.
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.