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"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft

The Earth (Old High German: erda; Hebrewהָאָרֶץ ha-Aretz "earth, land"; astronomical sign: ♁ or LaTeX: \oplus) is, from a heliocentric point of view, the densest, fifth largest and third closest planet to the Sun in our solar system. Together with the other planets, the Earth is, from a spiritual-scientific point of view, the fourth embodiment of our planetary system, which emerged from the Old Moon that preceded it after passing through a purely spiritual Pralaya.

The spiritual mission of the Earth and its evolution

The Earth is the setting of the evolution of man and the natural kingdoms associated with it. In mythology, the Earth is often regarded as a living and life-giving feminine-maternal being and is addressed, for example, as Mother Earth, Earth Mother, Magna Mater (Great Mother) or Gaia[1].

According to Rudolf Steiner, the goal of the Earth's evolution is to become the Cosmos of Love, for its spiritual mission is to bring love into the world. For this it needs the human being, who here develops his independent ego. For the bearer of love can only be a being that is able to give itself away of its own free will. The prerequisites for this were created by the incarnation of the Christ on Earth and the Mystery of Golgotha.

The Earth's evolution will be followed as the fifth planetary stage of development by the New Jupiter, which is called the New Jerusalem in the Apocalypse of St. John.

Previous and subsequent stages of world evolution

A long preparation was necessary for the Earth to fulfil its mission. In the course of the planetary stages of world evolution, the Earth has already gone through three previous embodiments before it entered into external existence in its present form. These earlier embodiments of the Earth, which must not be confused with the present celestial bodies of the same name, are called, according to anthroposophical terminology: Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon. The Earth's evolution will be followed by three further stages of world evolution: the New Jupiter, the New Venus and the Vulcan. On these, man will be able to rise to even higher levels of development.

The Earth as a creation of the Elohim

The entire evolution of the Earth is under the dominion of the Spirits of Form, the Elohim, who are spoken of in the creation report of Genesis. At the beginning of the first day of creation, the heaven (Hebrewשמים Shamayim "heavenly waters", with article: Hebrewהשמים ha-Shamajim) separated from the Earth. According to Rudolf Steiner, this primarily refers to the separation of the earth from the Sun:

„In the beginning the Elohim created the heavens and the earth.
Hebrewבְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
Bereschit bara Älohim et ha-Schamajim we'et ha-Áräz

The Earth sphere

Main article: Earth sphere

In the broadest sense, the Earth sphere can be defined as any sphere belonging to the Earth that surrounds the centre of the Earth as an approximately spherical area - even far beyond the solid, mineral Earth. In the external geophysical sense, this can be the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere and lithosphere (the uppermost part of which is the pedosphere) or the solid or plastic Earth made up of concentric shells, which is also called the geosphere and, according to the current view, consists of the inner and outer core of the Earth, the Earth's mantle and the Earth's crust.

In the anthroposophically extended sense, the Earth sphere also includes all spheres that can only be perceived spiritually and that are directly connected with our Earth. These include the nine layers of the Earth's interior, as described by Dante Alighieri in his "Divine Comedy" with the nine circles of hell. Furthermore, the etheric sphere and the astral sphere of the Earth should also be mentioned, from whose forces the etheric body and the astral body of the earthly embodied human being are taken. The Spirit of Earth comprises the totality of all spiritual beings who have united themselves with the Earth. At its centre is the Christ Himself, who through the Mystery of Golgotha has completely united Himself with the evolution of the Earth and of man.

Properties of the physical earth

Earth is the heliocentric view, the densest, fifth largest and third closest planet to the Sun in our solar system and has a diameter of more than 12,700 kilometres. Its age is now estimated at about 4.6 billion years. The Earth's mass' (short M, sometimes ME) is about 5.9722-1024 kg (5.97 quadrillion tonnes).[2] Since the Earth's surface is about 2/3 covered with water and therefore appears predominantly blue when seen from space, it has also been called the Blue Planet since the era of manned space flight.

The daily and annual motion of the Earth

The Earth moves in the copernican system prograde on the approximately elliptical Earth's orbit' at an average distance of 149.6 million km around the Sun. The plane in which the Earth's orbit lies is called the ecliptic. The sderial period of the Earth measured at the fixed stars background is about 365.256 days. The sidereal year (also called stellar year), with 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.54 seconds, is 20 minutes and 24 seconds longer than the tropical year, which is counted from spring equinox to spring equinox and forms the basis of the civil calendar with 365 or 366 days (leap year).

The earth rotates relative to the fixed stars sky prograde in eastern direction once in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.10 seconds. This time span is a sideral day. Because the Earth also continues to move along its orbit at the same time, it is somewhat shorter than the true solar day, the time span between two meridian passages of the Sun, which approximately corresponds to the time between two solar zeniths. Due to the Earth's orbital motion, its length varies slightly over the course of a year. Its annual average, the mean solar day, is fixed at 24 hours, which in turn are divided into 60 minutes each and these in turn into 60 seconds each. In total, a day therefore has 86,400 seconds.

The Earth's axis pierces the Earth's surface at the two geographic poles, the geographic North Pole and the geographic South Pole. The geomagnetic poles currently deviate from this by about 11.5 °. The Earth's axis is inclined at 23°26' to the Earth's orbit. As a result, the Sun shines differently on the northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth during the course of the year, resulting in the seasons that shape the Earth's climate. They not only have a decisive influence on earthly life, but also impulse the mood of the human soul in a very differentiated way. How differently the soul sounds in the course of the year becomes clear from the weekly verses of the soul calendars given by Rudolf Steiner.

The seasons and some of Earth's orbit's characteristics. The elliptical form is strongly exaggerated.
The seasons and some of Earth's orbit's characteristics. The elliptical form is strongly exaggerated.

The inner physical structure of the Earth

The inner physical structure of Earth, which is mainly studied by geophysics, namely seismology, consists, in idealised terms, of concentric spherical shells, each of whose material has a distinctly different density. The spherical shell with the lowest density lies furthest out and is called the Earth's crust. This is followed by the Earth's mantle. The spherical shell with the greatest density, actually a full sphere, lies in the centre of the Earth's body and is called the Earth's core. It is divided into a liquid outer core and a solid inner core. From a geophysical point of view, the earth's magnetic field, which penetrates and surrounds the earth, is predominantly caused by the geodynamo in the liquid outer core of the earth. According to Rudolf Steiner, magnetism is primarily related to the ahrimanic forces.

The physical structure of the Earth is not to be confused with the only spiritually perceptible division of the Earth's interior into nine layers, as described by Rudolf Steiner and in a somewhat different way by Dante Alighieri in the Inferno of his "Divine Comedy".

Earth evolution

At the beginning of the Earth's evolution, these ancient planetary states were repeated in an abbreviated form. Between the individual repetitions, the Earth withdrew again and again from the outer physical appearance, first into a soulish and then into a purely spiritual existence, a so-called small Pralaya. Gradually, the present form of our planetary system was formed:

  • In the 1st round of the Earth's existence, the Old Saturnian state repeated itself. The physical body and the sense organs already predisposed in it at that time were thereby made ripe for the reception of the I. During this time, first Uranus and then the present Saturn split off from the originally unified celestial body.
  • In the second round, the Old Solar Existence was repeated and the etheric body and the glandular organs in the physical body were prepared for the development of the I. At that time, today's Jupiter emerged as an independent planet.
  • In the 3rd round the Earlier Lunar State was repeated in order to prepare the astral body and the nervous system for the penetration of the ego force. Mars was then eliminated from the structure in which the Sun, Moon and Earth were still united.
  • It was not until the 4th round, when the earth had re-emerged from the Pralaya into physical appearance[3], that the actual development of the Earth in the narrower sense began. It unfolds in seven main ages or root races. In the first main age, the Polar Age, all forces were again united in a single celestial body. Only in the next epoch, the Hyperborean Age, did the Sun break away from the common structure and then Venus and Mercury as well. It is around here, where the Sun and the Earth separated from each other, that the descriptions of the biblical story of creation begin. For the time being, the Earth remained united with the Moon. Only when, in the following Lemurian Age, the Moon also separated from the Earth, did the mineral kingdom (the sea of glass in the imagery of the Apocalypse) begin to emerge in the form of the first crystals; until then the Earth was still in a molten state. At this time, man also entered the Earth for the first time in physical form. When the Sun and Moon separated from the Earth, the so-called Mars passage also occurred, in which Mars passed through the Earth in etheric form. This brought iron into the Earth and made it possible for man to develop the sentient soul. The Lemurian epoch was followed by the Atlantean Age and finally the post-Atlantean Age, in which we are still standing now. It is divided into seven cultural epochs. Our present consciousness-soul age is the fifth epoch. After the end of the seventh epoch, two more root races will follow ours before the Earth retreats again into the Pralaya. Then a Mercury passage will also take place, in which the etheric Mercury will penetrate the Earth, which will then already be in the astral state. The Mercury forces, however, have been active since the middle of the Atlantean period; through their influence Mercury came to Earth and man was able to develop the consciousness soul (Lit.:GA 89, p. 73ff).
  • In the course of the Earth's evolution, three further rounds will be passed through, in which future states of development of the Earth will be foreshadowed and thus prepared.

Mars and Mercury - the two halves of the Earth's evolution

The Earth's evolution is divided into two halves, which have already been indicated above by the passage of Mars, which has already taken place in the past, and the future passage of Mercury. They were represented by the two pillars Jachin and Boaz, which stood at the entrance gate of Solomon's temple. The principle of these two pillars also underlies the fourth seal image in the Revelation of John, but here in the form of an angel with feet like pillars of fire. The left pillar (Jakim) stands on the sea, which symbolises the moving astral world, the right one (Boaz) rests on the solid land. Mars gives the Earth the powers that were already developed on the Old Sun, the Cosmos of Strength. Mercury stands for wisdom, which was first formed on the Old Moon and which is therefore also called the Cosmos of Wisdom.

„Our development on Earth is based on two things. Our Earth was preceded by what we call the Cosmos of Wisdom, and it was preceded by what we call - the word does not say much, of course, but we must use it because it has become common - the Cosmos of Strength, of Power. Wisdom and strength are what the Earth has inherited from earlier stages of evolution, from the Old Moon and the Old Sun. We shall see how this is also expressed within our earthly evolution by the fact that we name the first half of the earth's evolution after the representative of solar power, Mars. For now we need only consider that within our earthly evolution we have in Mars that which implanted iron in the Earth. We see in Mars the bringer of strength. And in that which dominates the second half of the earth's evolution we have the representative of the old lunar evolution, Mercury, which imparts to the earth the old inheritance of the moon, wisdom. Thus the evolution of the earth is composed of the evolution of Mars and Mercury. It has inherited two strong, powerful forces. That which it has inherited from the cosmos of strength is expressed in Mars, and that which it has inherited from the cosmos of wisdom is expressed in Mercury. It, the earth itself, is to bring love through its mission. This love is to reveal itself gloriously as the result of the Earth's development. This is a very profound thought of the apocalyptic. This is the profound thought which also ties in with the whole of the remaining earthly development. (See the fourth seal image).

Once again, take yourself back with me to the oldest Atlantean times, to the time of which we have said that the air was still permeated with water. Man was still built for the water. Only in the middle of Atlantis did he reach the point where he was able to tear himself away from the water and tread solid ground. Up to the time when the Earth was in the middle of its evolution, we must regard water as the carrier of human development just as we would later regard the solid Earth. The solid earth, so to speak, only became the scene of human development at a late stage. It is only half right to speak of the whole of Atlantis as a dry land. In many respects it is not covered by the sea, but by something in the middle, like air, which is densely filled with water, and this water-air belongs to the element in which man lived. Only later did he become able to live in the open air and to stand on solid ground. That was relatively recent. So that when we look at the development of the earth, we can say, symbolically speaking, that we have earth on one side and water on the other. That is the earlier time. And out of the water projects one of the forces up to the first half of the evolution, and out of the earth projects the other of the forces. Up to the middle of the fourth period we speak of the Martian forces, of the forces which, so to speak, the water gives, and we speak of the Mercury forces in the later period, when the solid earth gives the supporting forces. This is quite consistent with the idea that man is supported in his whole earthly mission by two pillars, those two pillars which you saw symbolically at the Munich Congress in the hall. These two pillars represent the two parts of the earth mission, the two inheritances that man has made from earlier times. And above them is symbolised that which is to be achieved through the earth itself: the love which lives, gloriously revealing itself, which is supported by these heritages.“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 169ff)

The Aura of the Earth

The aura of the Earth glows bluish-purple in the east and burns and sprays reddish-yellow in the west. In between lies a green belt. The Mystery of Golgotha has brought about a significant change. In the bluish eastern half, exactly where Jerusalem lies, a gold star shone with the death of Christ on the cross, from which the formation of the New Jerusalem emanates.

„We get a picture of the earth when we imagine a sphere floating in the space of the world, glowing bluish-violet on one side, burning reddish-yellow on the other, spraying; and between them is a green belt. Figurative ideas gradually carry the human being over into the spiritual world. That is what matters. One is naturally obliged to present such pictorial ideas when one speaks seriously of the spiritual worlds, and it is further necessary that it should not only be believed that such pictorial ideas are some kind of fictions, but one is dependent on something being made of them. - Let us consider once more: the bluish-violet glowing Easter earth, the reddish-yellow spraying West earth. But there are still various differentiations that come into it. When the dead man looks at certain points in our present cycle of time, he sees something of a golden structure, of a golden crystal structure, in the midst of the bluish-purple, which is signed here on earth by the fact that it is Palestine, that it is Jerusalem, and which then comes to life: that is Jerusalem, seen from the spirit! That is what also plays into the Apocalypse - by speaking of imaginations - as "heavenly Jerusalem". These are not imaginary things, they are things that can be seen. Spiritually, it was the same with the Mystery of Golgotha as one can experience in physical observation, when today the astronomer points his telescope out into the space of the world and then looks at what astonishes him, such as the shining of stars. Spiritually, seen from the universe, the event of Golgotha was the shining of a gold star in the blue earth aura of the eastern half of the earth. There you have the imagination for what I developed at the end the day before yesterday. It is really a question of procuring through such imaginations ideas of the universe, which place the human soul in the spirit of this universe.“ (Lit.:GA 181, p. 174f)

„Where does the blue-violet on one side of the earth aura come from? When one sees this side of the earth's sphere, the physical of the earth, seen from the outside, disappears; it is more the aura of light that becomes transparent, and the dark of the earth disappears. That is what the blue does, what looks through. You can explain this phenomenon from Goethe's theory of colours. But because the interior of the earth sprays up from the western half, so it sprays up that what I described the day before yesterday is true: In America, man is determined by the subterranean, by what is under the earth, therefore the interior of the earth also radiates and sprays out into the universe like a reddish-yellow gleam, like a reddish-yellow spraying fire.“ (S. 176)

Man as the fourth hierarchy

On the Old Sun, light and air were formed by the beings of the second hierarchy. Compared to the light, the air acted like its shadow, like an element carrying darkness. During the old development of the Moon, the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai, i.e. the third hierarchy, interwove light and darkness. This gave rise to the colours on the one hand and the water element on the other. The sound ether has a formative effect in both. Through the human being as the fourth hierarchy - meaning here the original human being before the Fall - life or the life ether is added, but also the solid, crystalline earth element.

„And now comes the fourth hierarchy. I am now telling it as it was thought in the 12th, 13th century. Now comes the fourth hierarchy. We do not speak of it at all, but in the 12th, 13th century people still spoke of this fourth hierarchy very well. What is this fourth hierarchy? It is the human being. Man himself is the fourth hierarchy. But by no means was this fourth hierarchy understood to mean what is now going about in the world as a two-legged, ageing, highly peculiar being, for at that time it was precisely the present human being who appeared to those who actually knew him to be a peculiar being. They have spoken of the original man before the Fall, who still existed in such a form that he had power over the earth just as Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai had power over lunar existence, just as the Second Hierarchy had power over solar existence, the First Hierarchy had power over Saturnian existence. One spoke of man in his original earthly existence and could then speak of man as the fourth Hierarchy. And with this fourth Hierarchy came, though as a gift from the upper Hierarchies, but like something which the upper Hierarchies first had like a possession, which they guarded, which they did not need themselves: life came. And life came into the colourful world that I have described to you in hints.

You will say: Didn't things live before? - My dear friends, you can learn how it is from man himself. Your ego and your astral body do not have life and yet they do exist. The spiritual, the psychic does not need life. Life only begins with your etheric body, and it is something outwardly enveloping. And so life, too, only enters the sphere of that evolution to which our Earth belongs after its lunar existence with its earthly existence. The colourful world has been lived through. Not only did the Angeloi, Archangeloi and so on yearn to bring darkness into light, light into darkness, and thus to bring forth the play of colours in the planet, but they also came to experience this play of colours inwardly, to make it inwardly. To experience when darkness inwardly dominates light, to feel weakness, to feel laxity; on the other hand, when light dominates darkness, to feel activity. Because what is it when you walk? When you walk, it is just that light in you dominates darkness; when you sit and are lazy, darkness dominates light. It is the colour work of the soul, the iridescence of the soul. Colour iridescence permeated with life, flowing through, occurred when the fourth Hierarchy, the human being, came. And at this moment of cosmic becoming, the forces that were stirred up in the iridescence of colour began to form contours. Life, which inwardly rounded off the colours, covered them, edged them, called forth the solid crystalline. And we are inside Earth existence.“ (Lit.:GA 233a, p. 23f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
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.


  1. Manfred Kurt Ehmer: Göttin Erde: Kult und Mythos der Mutter Erde; ein Beitrag zur Ökosophie der Zukunft. Zerling, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88468-058-7
  2. Earth: Facts & Figures@solarsystem.nasa. gov/planets, retrieved 29 October 2014.
  3. Each round passes through seven Conditions of Form, of which only the fourth state physically appears. In the three preceding states, the Earth, which initially still comprises our entire planetary system, descends from the Higher Devachan (arupa) via the Lower Devachan (rupa) into the astral world.