Old Saturn

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Old Saturn, painting by F. Heinrich

The Old Saturn, not to be confused with our present Saturn, was according to Rudolf Steiner the first embodiment of our Earth or of our whole planetary system. It consisted entirely of heat and was a richly structured heat organism. Its extent reached from the present Sun to the present Saturn, which it would have swallowed up, so it was a giant planet. The Spirits of Will (Thrones), which surrounded the sphere of Saturn, guided Saturn's evolution. The highest regent of Saturn's evolution is called the Father. The Old Saturn came into being because the Thrones sacrificed the fire of will inherent in their being as an external heat substance. Saturn's world mission was to form the physical body outwardly and to give the possibility of will inwardly. (Lit.:GA 121, p. 86ff) The Old Saturn was followed by the world development stage of the Old Sun.

Old Saturn as the joint work of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones

Old Saturn, drawing from GA 233a, p. 15
Old Saturn, drawing from GA 233a, p. 15

„The choir of Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones works together, and indeed it works together in such a way that the thrones establish a nucleus (see drawing; centre red-purple); the cherubim let their own light-filled being flow out from this nucleus (yellow ring). The seraphim wrap the whole in a mantle of enthusiasm which radiates far into the space of the world (red wrapping). But these are all beings in what I am drawing, in the centre the thrones, in the periphery the cherubim, in what is at the outermost here, the seraphim. These are beings that float, do, think, want, feel into each other. These are entities. And if a being, which had had the corresponding ability to feel, had now taken the path through the space where in this way the thrones have established a nucleus, the cherubim a kind of circumference, the seraphim a kind of conclusion towards the outside, if such a being had come into the sphere of this working of the first Hierarchy, it would have felt warmth in different different differentiations, warmth in different places, here higher warmth, there deeper warmth. But everything is soul-spiritual, but so soul-spiritual that the soul experience is at the same time a physical experience in our senses, so that when the being feels warm in the soul, it is really what you feel when you are in a heated room. Such an assembly of beings of the first Hierarchy once arose in the universe, and that formed the Saturnian existence. The warmth is merely the expression of the fact that these entities are there. Warmth is nothing, it is merely the expression of the fact that these entities are there."“ (Lit.:GA 233a, p. 14f)

Transformation of the heat of Old Saturn

In the course of Saturn's evolution, this inner warmth only gradually transformed into outwardly perceptible warmth. Within the heat masses of Saturn it was dark; only towards the end of the evolution did Saturn begin to light up somewhat. If you want to get an idea of this warmth or its negation, you can imagine the colour experiences that you experience when looking at the colours red and blue. If one sees or imagines the red colour, one experiences a warm feeling, whereas one has a cold feeling insofar as one thinks of the blue.

„Something that you know today only as the warmth of the soul, that would have come over you if you had made this journey in the very first stages of Saturn. You can form an idea of the experiences you would have had if you consider the following. You know that there is a difference when you look at a red surface or a blue surface. If you face the red colour, you say to yourself: this gives you a warm feeling; if you face the blue, you have the feeling of coldness. Think of these feelings that are triggered in the human soul by the impression of the red, which you would not have had at that time, but you would have felt something as comfortably warm as when you face the red today. At the end of the Saturn period you would not only have felt this inwardly comfortable state, but something as if warmth had come to you from outside. Inner warmth would have gradually changed into outer perception of warmth. That is the path that Saturn underwent: from an inwardly psychic warmth to an outwardly perceptible warmth, to what we call outward warmth or fire.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 52f)

The human being on Old Saturn

Today's earthly human being has four basic members: physical body, etheric body, astral body and "I". Of these four members, the human being on Old Saturn had only the physical body in the form of a pure body of warmth. Now imagine the human being of today in such a state, in which the three higher members of the being have lifted themselves out of the physical body, but the connection with it has not yet been completely severed. On Earth, this state only occurs at the moment of death and then usually remains for about three and a half days. Man was in an approximately comparable state on the Old Saturn. At that time, however, his higher members of being were still quite dependent and embedded in the spiritual atmosphere surrounding Saturn.

"And if you now imagine that man has died, that his etheric body, connected with the astral body and the I, is also out, but in such a way that the connection is not quite severed, that what is out, what is embedded in the surrounding cosmic mass, sends down its rays and works on the physical body, then you have the condition which mankind had on Saturn. Down on the globe of Saturn was contained only that which is in our purely physical corporeality; it was surrounded, as it were, by an etheric-astral atmosphere in which the I was embedded.

The human beings were actually already present on Saturn, but in a dull, dull consciousness. These souls had the task of keeping alive and active something that belonged to them below. They worked on their physical body from above. Like a snail that works on its shell, they work on the bodily organs from outside, like an instrument. We want to describe what it looked like that the souls were working on above. We have to describe this physical Saturn, this Saturn in general, a little.

I have already said that what was formed there in the physical body was the equipment of the sense organs. What lived in the human being as a sensory system, the souls worked on externally on the surface of Saturn. They were really in the world-space surrounding Saturn, below was their workshop. There they worked out the types for eyes and ears and for the other sense organs.

What was the basic characteristic of this Saturnian mass? It is difficult to describe, because in our language we hardly have a word that fits it, for our words are also quite materialised; they only fit the physical plan. But there is a word that can express this fine work that has been done. It can be described by the expression: mirroring. The Saturnian mass had the property of reflecting in all its parts that which came from outside as light, as sound, as smell, as taste. Everything was reflected back again, it was perceived in the space of the world, as it were, as a reflection in the mirror of Saturn. One can only compare it to looking into the eyes of one's neighbour and seeing one's own image reflected back to us. In this way all the souls of men perceived themselves, but not only as an image in colours, but they tasted themselves, they smelled themselves, they perceived themselves in a certain feeling of warmth. Thus Saturn was a reflecting planet. The people living in the atmosphere threw their beings into it, and out of these images that arose there, the attachments to the sense organs were formed, for they were images that had a creative effect. Think of yourself standing before a mirror from which your own image confronts you, and this image begins to create, is not a dead image as with the lifeless mirror of today: there you have the creative activity of Saturn, there you have the way in which men themselves lived on Saturn and did their work.

That took place below on the sphere of Saturn. Above, the souls had the deep trance consciousness I spoke of yesterday. They knew nothing of this reflection, they only did it. In this dull trance-consciousness they had the whole cosmic universe within them, and so the whole cosmic universe was mirrored out of their being. But they themselves were embedded in a basic substance of a spiritual kind. They were not independent, but only a member of the spirituality surrounding Saturn. Therefore they could not perceive spiritually. Higher spirits perceived with their help. They were the organs of the spirits who perceived at that time.

Saturn was surrounded by a whole number of higher spirits. Everything that Christian esotericism has called messengers of the Godhead, Angels, Archangels, Archai, revealing powers, all this was contained in this Saturnian atmosphere. Just as the hand belongs to the organism, so the souls belonged to these entities, and just as little as the hand has an independent consciousness, so little did they then have a consciousness of their own. They worked out of the consciousness of higher spirits, out of the higher world-consciousness, and thus formed the images of their sense organs, which then became creative, and they also formed the Saturn mass. You must not imagine this Saturn mass to be as dense as the human flesh mass of today. The densest state of Saturn that it could attain at all was not even as dense as our present physical air. Saturn has also become physical, but it has only reached the density which is called the density of fire, of warmth, the warmth in which present-day physics no longer sees any substance at all. For the occultist, however, heat is a finer substance than gases; it has the property of ever expanding. And because Saturn consisted of this substance, it had the gift of expanding from within, of radiating everything, of mirroring itself. Such a body radiates everything; it does not have the need to keep everything within itself.

Saturn was not a uniform mass, but in such a way that one could have perceived a differentiation, a configuration in it. Later, the organs even rounded themselves into cell-like spheres, only that cells are small; but at that time they were large spheres, like when you take a mulberry or a blackberry. You could not yet have seen on Saturn, for every reflection threw back to the outside all the light that came to it. Within this Saturnian mass everything was dark. Only towards the end of its evolution did Saturn light up a little. In the surroundings of the atmosphere of this Saturnian mass there were a number of beings. Not only you yourself prepared your sense organs, for the human soul was not yet so far developed that it could have worked alone. It worked together with other spiritual entities, trivially speaking, under their direction.|99|93ff}}

Duration, time, space and the zodiac

Old Saturn emerged from the region of duration, eternity, which is represented by the zodiac. Time only came into being in the course of Saturn's development - this is why Saturn is called Chronos in Greek mythology. On Old Saturn there was no space in the true sense of the word; all spatial descriptions here can only have a comparative character.

As helping spirits, the thrones were assisted by the spirits of wisdom, the spirits of movement and the spirits of form. Surrounding the whole of Saturn was the round dance of the cherubim and seraphim, which today shows itself in the form of the zodiacal entities. This very first day of creation (which, however, must not be directly referred to the days of creation mentioned in the Bible, which are only a later smaller repetition of the great days of creation) is also called in esoteric language: Dies Saturni = Saturn's Day. (Lit.:GA 99, p. 103)

Occult Saturn as the Home of the Spirits of Personality

On Old Saturn the Primal Angels (Spirits of Personality or Archai) underwent their stage of humanity, i.e. they developed their I here. Through their activity, "warmth eggs" were formed on the surface of Saturn, which were subsequently dissolved again and formed anew in rhythmic alternation. This process resembled an exhalation and inhalation of Saturn. The Archai formed these balls of warmth through their imagination, so they were magically active. However, this was only a shaping of the eggs, not a creation of the heat substance of them. This was poured out by the spirits of the will, also called thrones. The Spirits of Personality could not have modelled these formations alone; for this they needed the help of the Exusiai, the Dynamis and the Kyriototetes. Because certain primal angels did not later dissolve all the heat eggs again, a duality of inner and outer heat gradually arose in the life of Saturn. Thus at the end of Saturn's life there was a higher and a lower realm of warmth. The lower Saturn realm, consisting of outer warmth, had to be dissolved by the thrones at the end of Saturn's development, so that the state of rest ( Pralaya), which could only be grasped purely supersensually, could occur, with which the development could be led over to the next planetary embodiment of our Earth, namely to the old Sun. This arose because the Thrones could only dissolve the old Saturn for a certain time. It was transferred to a lower state after their work, whereby the old sun just mentioned came into being. By leaving behind a certain mass of heat-eggs, the spirits of the personality bound themselves to the then still future Old Sun, they thus created a karma, the content of which was that they would return to the new incarnation of Old Saturn.

The decision of the creation of the parallel existence of both kingdoms of Saturn by the Archai was made in order that they might develop their I. The latter is the purpose of humanity. The latter is the purpose of the stage of human development, for which an outer stranger is needed and thus a duality that makes self-awareness possible. One experiences oneself as different from the other. This ignites the I-consciousness and thus also the I-feeling.

„So to speak, the Spirits of Personality left some of the exhaled heat to themselves, they left it out there. Why did they do that? They had to do it; if they had not done it, they would not have become human beings on Saturn. For what does it mean to become human? It means coming to I-consciousness. You cannot do that if you do not distinguish yourself as an ego from an exterior. Only through this are you an I. The bouquet is here, I am here, I distinguish myself as I from the object. The spirits of the personality would have eternally poured out only their I if they had not left something outside that resisted them: the other is outside, I distinguish myself from the objectively made warmth element. In this way the spirits of the personality arrived at their I, at self-consciousness, in that they forced a part of the Saturnian beings down into a merely external existence of warmth. They said to themselves: I must let something of myself flow outwards and leave it outside, so that I may distinguish myself from it, so that my I-consciousness may be inflamed by this outside. Thus they had created a realm beside themselves, they had created for themselves, as it were, a reflection of their inner being in the outer.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 55f)

Since the occult Saturn consisted of many eggs of warmth, one can imagine it as raspberry-like for illustration. The spheres of heat or "fire" in the sense of a thinner state of aggregation than that of gaseous substances were the bodies of the Archai or Primal Angels.

„If you want to call before your soul what arose there, then you must imagine it like this: First we have the inner heating of the sphere of Saturn; there the spirits of the personality find the possibility of embodying themselves first. While they are being embodied, that which is called outer warmth is formed. And if you had been able to make the journey in a later state of Saturn, you would also have been able to distinguish between outwardly warm and cold places in Saturn. And if you had now traced what you found as enclosed heat bodies, the following drawing would have resulted: In the circumference it is as if all such heat-eggs had formed a surface of Saturn. From the outside, if you could have seen it, it would have looked like a blackberry or raspberry. What were these eggs? They were the bodies of the Spirits of Personality, and these Spirits of Personality formed the outer warmth of these Saturn eggs precisely through their inner warmth. Of this state one can quite rightly say: And the spirits hatched above the warmth, and they really hatched the first fire-bodies. The first fire-bodies were hatched from the space of the world. If we may use the expression, the outer heat-eggs coagulated in the heat-space from within. So, on the old Saturn the spirits of the personality, the Archai, they are also called Asuras, were embodied in these bodies of fire. Saturn consisted only of this element of fire.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 53f)

The Members of the Spirits of Personality during their Humanity Stage

When the present-day Primal Angels passed through their stage of humanity on ancient Saturn, their members of being were still quite different from those of today during the evolution of the Earth. At that time, their lowest element was the ego, which they were developing, and their highest was the Father God.

„As independently as the human being of today works, so certain beings worked on Saturn who at that time were on the human level. They could not be shaped like the human being of today, since heat was the only substance on Saturn. But in terms of their intelligence, their ego-consciousness, they were on the level of the human being of today; yet they could not form a physical body, a brain. Let us look at them a little more closely. The human being of today consists of a quadruplicity: physical body, etheric body, astral body and the ego, and in the ego preformed spirit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man - Manas, Buddhi, Atma. The lowest, though in its nature the most perfect member on the earth-planet is the physical body, the next highest the etheric body, then the astral body and the ego. Now there are also beings who have no physical body, whose lowest member is the etheric body. They do not need the physical body to be active in our sensual world; instead they have a limb that is higher than our seventh. Other beings have the astral body as their lowest limb and a ninth for it, and still others, who have the ego as their lowest limb, have a tenth for it. If we look at the entities that have the ego as their lowest member, we must say that they consist of the ego, spirit self, life spirit, spirit man. Then comes the eighth, ninth and tenth members, what Christian esotericism calls the divine Trinity: Holy Spirit, Son or Word, Father. In theosophical literature one is accustomed to call them the three Logoi.

These entities, the lowest member of which is the ego, were precisely those which come into special consideration for us in the evolution of Saturn. They were on the same level as human beings are today. They were able to operate their ego under the quite different conditions that I have described. They were the ancestors of our present humanity, the people of Saturn. They irradiated the surface of Saturn with their I-ness, their outermost beingness. They were the implanters of the I-ness into the physical corporeality that was formed on the surface of Saturn. In this way they ensured that the physical body was prepared in such a way that it could later become the bearer of the Ego. Only such a physical body as you have today, with feet, hands and head and the integrated sense organs, could become the bearer of the I on the fourth level, the earth. For this, the germ had to be implanted on Saturn. These ego beings of Saturn are also called the Spirits of Egoism.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 96f)


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: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
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
steinerbooks.org - 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.