Polar epoch

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Polaris, the polar epoch, also called the first root race[1] according to obsolete theosophical tradition, is the first of the seven main ages into which the actual physical earth evolution, the 4th form state of the entire Earth evolution, is divided[2]. The name of this developmental epoch is derived from the fact that these original Earth conditions of the polar time were preserved for the longest time around the "North Pole". However, this was a huge nebulous gaseous structure that still encompassed the entire planetary system and also contained the Sun and the other nascent planets. The polar age was followed by the hyperborean age, in which only the Earth separated from the Sun as an independent celestial body and condensed to a liquid state (Lit.:GA 106, p. 69ff). According to a statement by Rudolf Steiner, which has, however, only been handed down inadequately, Polaris falls into the time of the "primitive form", in which the first "primeval mountains" were formed (Lit.:GA 300a, p. 107). On the present geologic time scale, this would correspond to the time from the beginning of the Hadean 4,600 million years ago until about the middle of the Archean.All references to time here are only for comparison with the present state of external research and are to be taken with great caution, as Rudolf Steiner also clearly points out.[3]The time of Polaris is the time of the first "primitive mountains". The Sun had not yet reached its full luminosity at that time. From an astrophysical point of view, the nuclear fusion process, the so-called hydrogen burning, probably only began in the hyperborean epoch after the Earth and the other planets had split off.

At the end of the third round of Earth's evolution, the whole Earth had passed into a purely spiritual existence, into a so-called small Pralaya. Now, at the beginning of the fourth round, it first descended again to the astral condition of form. Man had then brought with him from the earlier states of evolution the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body. All this now first appeared in astral form. Man was therefore a being with physical, etheric and astral laws, which, however, existed in purely spiritual form, and the whole globe, shining in the astral light, which now formed, consisted exclusively of these astral human formations.

„Everything that exists of the human being in this period still has its astral form. In order to understand this state of man, special attention should be paid to the fact that man has within him a physical body, a life body and an astral body, but that both the physical and the life body do not exist in physical and etheric form, but in astral form. What makes the physical body physical is not its physical form, but the fact that, although it has the astral form, it still has the physical laws within it. It is a being with physical laws in a spiritual form. The same is true of the life body.“ (Lit.:GA 13, p. 220f)

„If we look far back within this becoming of the Earth, we can tell ourselves that our Earth did not always look as it does today. It did not have the solid mineral ground as it does today, the mineral kingdom was not as it is today, nor did it bear such plants and animals as it does today, and man was not in a fleshly body as he is today, man had no bone system. All that was formed later. The further back we look, the more we approach a state which, if we had been able to look at it from the farthest reaches of the world, we would have seen only like a mist, like a fine, ethereal cloud. This nebula would have been much larger than our present Earth, for it would have reached into the farthest reaches of the outermost planets of our solar system and beyond. All of this would have comprised a far-reaching nebular mass, in which not only that from which our Earth was formed, but all the planets, even the Sun itself, were in it. And if we had been able to examine this nebulous mass more closely - provided the observer had been able to approach it - it would have looked to us as if it had been composed of nothing but fine ethereal points. When we look at a swarm of mosquitoes from a distance, it appears to us like a cloud, but close up we see the individual animals. In this way we would have seen the mass of the Earth in the distant past, which at that time was not material in our sense, but was condensed to an ethereal state. This formation of the Earth thus consisted of individual etheric points, but something very special was connected with these etheric points [...].

When the clairvoyant ... confronted himself with such an etheric dust point of the primordial substance, he would see a figure of light growing out of this etheric grain of dust in a similar way to the grain of seed, a splendid figure which is not actually there, which rests dormant in this grain of dust. And what is it then that the seer can see as a figure, looking back on this primordial earth atom? What is it that grows out of it? It is a form that is again different - as different as the archetype of the plant from the sensuous plant - from the physical human being: It is the archetype of the human form of today [...]

In the distant past all the planets were connected with our Earth. However, let us first consider the Sun, the Moon and the Earth, which are of particular interest to us today. Our Sun, our Moon and our Earth were not alone at that time, but were together. If we were to stir these three present-day bodies together as if to form a porridge in a large world pot, and if we were to think of it as a world body, we would get what the Earth was in its original state, namely: Sun plus Earth plus Moon. Of course, then man could only live in a spiritual state.“ (Lit.:GA 106, p. 24ff)

„The soul or astral ancestors of man were placed in the fine or etheric Earth. They absorbed the fine matter as it were - like a sponge, to speak crudely. By thus permeating themselves with matter, they formed etheric bodies. These had an elongated elliptical shape, but limbs and other organs to be formed later were already predisposed by delicate shadings of the material. The whole process in this mass, however, was a purely physical-chemical one; only it was regulated and controlled by the soul. - When such a mass of matter had reached a certain size, it split into two, each of which was similar to the structure from which it had arisen, and in which the same effects took place as in the other. - Each of these new entities was again as endowed with a soul as the mother being. This was due to the fact that not only a certain number of human souls entered the earthly scene, but, as it were, a soul-tree which could let innumerable individual souls emerge from its common root. Just as a plant sprouts again and again from innumerable seeds, so does the life of the soul in the countless shoots that resulted from the continuing divisions. (However, from the beginning there was a limited number of soul types, which will be discussed later. But within these types the development proceeded in the way described. Each kind of soul sprouted innumerable shoots.)“ (Lit.:GA 11, p. 101f)

Then, in the midst of this soul-form, a physical-etheric fire-form condensed, as it had similarly existed on Old Saturn in its densest state. The Earth, consisting of the human formations, thus gradually entered into the physical state of form. This fire form was interwoven and differentiated by the effects of the most varied spiritual entities, whereby the human entities still remained almost entirely in the uncondensed astral environment of the Earth. Only at one point did they touch the physical-etheric fire-earth with their egg-shaped soul-form, which thereby appeared to be surrounded by the warmth of life. Like the acorn fruit in its cup, the human soul form rested in this fire structure. And the outer warmth aroused inner life in the human being, in that the astral form, in which the etheric body had hitherto existed, condensed into the life ether. Into the astral body was thus integrated the sentient soul. And the Archai worked in the fire and in the sentient soul. At that time, the human being consisted of the sentient soul, the astral body, an etheric body woven from life ether and a physical body of fire.

Sun, Moon, Earth and all other planets still formed a common etheric celestial body that could not yet be sensually perceived. The fire earth now condensed further into the state of air. It resembled a mist of fine etheric germinal points, each of which carried the spiritual archetype of the human form, which appears to the seer as a splendid figure of light. The whole structure was surrounded by the spiritual atmosphere that carried the future human souls. There was still no physical reproduction and multiplication of the etheric human germs, but they were increasingly shaped by the spiritual forces working from the surrounding area.

Of the 9 layers of the earth's interior, only the three innermost layers (from today's point of view, the 7th, 8th and 9th layers) have now formed (Lit.:GA 94, p. 108). These three innermost layers are the earth mirror, which transforms all qualities into their opposite; further, the splinterer, through which everything appears fragmented and multiplied to infinity; and finally, the earth core, which becomes the seat of the earth brain and the earth spirit and which Dante described in his "Divine Comedy" as an ice hell. The very strongest anti-moral forces are concentrated in these three layers. Here arises the abode of the retarded Archai, the Asuras, who become the strongest antagonist forces. The strongest anti-moral forces, which are concentrated in the earth's core, are at the same time closely connected with the centre of destruction within the human being. Here matter is thrown into chaos and dissolved. This centre of destruction, which is spread over the whole human organism but has its bodily centre in the centre of gravity of the human being in the metabolic region, is normally not accessible to consciousness, because it lies beyond the memory mirror. At present, however, these forces are pushing more and more to the surface. Strict moral self-education must therefore in future increasingly ensure that these forces do not penetrate to the outside and thereby become a terrible source of evil, even black magic.

At that time, the human body consisted of a fine gas body in the form of a kind of flower crown, through which light shone. Spiritually, the human being was still completely rooted in the higher spiritual beings; his own consciousness resembled that of a plant, it was still a pure sleep consciousness. Externally, these human formations were still not visible and there was also no external light at that time. Just as warmth had ignited the inner life in man, so the air surrounding him now excited the spiritual tone in him. A part of the life ether condensed into sound ether. The formations were now sounding in their etheric bodies and were divided into seven types according to their fundamental tone. At the same time, the astral body was joined by the first disposition of the intellectual or mental soul. The Archangels worked in the air and in the intellectual soul.

„Then we must consider that the human being, who was the lowest of the higher beings, already existed at that time as the new child of the Earth, carried and nurtured by these high beings, living in the bosom of these divine beings. The human being who lived in that time, in which we are now standing with our observations in the evolution of the Earth, had to have a much finer body at that time, because he was still in the bosom of these beings. And it is clear to the clairvoyant consciousness that the body of man at that time consisted only of a fine form of vapour and steam, of an air or gas body, a gas body completely penetrated by light. Let us imagine a regularly formed cloud, like a goblet-like formation widening upwards, and let us imagine this goblet glowing through and illuminated by the inner light, and we have the human beings of that time who are just beginning to have a dull consciousness in this earthly development, a consciousness such as the plant world has today. Man was not like plants in the present sense; he was a mass of clouds, illuminated and heated, in the form of a goblet and without fixed boundaries, not separated by fixed boundaries from the mass of the Earth as a whole.

This was once the form of man, a form that was a physical body of light, still partaking of the powers of light. Therefore, because of the fineness of the body, not only an etheric body and an astral body could sink into it, not only the I in the first beginnings, but also the higher spiritual entities that were connected with the Earth. At that time man was still rooted, so to speak, upwards in the divine-spiritual beings, and these permeated him. It is really not easy to describe the glory of the Earth of that time and to give an idea of that time. We must imagine the Earth as a sphere shining through with light, surrounded by light-bearing clouds, producing wonderful light phenomena of a marvellous play of colours. If one had been able to stretch a feeling hand into this Earth, one would have perceived warmth phenomena, the glowing, illuminated masses undulating up and down, within them all the human beings of today, woven and swayed by all the spiritual entities, radiating light outwards in grandiose diversity! Outside the earthly cosmos in its great diversity, inside the light-flooded human being, in connection with the divine-spiritual entities, emanating from them and radiating streams of light into the outer sphere of light. Man was attached to this whole, to the womb of light, the womb of the world of our earth, as if by an umbilical cord springing from the divine. It was a common world womb in which the light plant man lived at that time, feeling at one with the light mantle of the earth. Thus the human being in this fine vapour plant form was as if hanging on the umbilical cord of the earth mother, thus he was nurtured and cared for by the whole mother earth. Just as today, in a coarser sense, the child is nurtured and cared for in the mother's womb as the child-germ, so at that time the human germ was nurtured and cared for. Thus man lived at that time in the primeval time of the Earth.“ (Lit.:GA 106, p. 68f)

Not all human souls could bear this condensation into the air element. That is why Saturn was detached from the common structure as an independent celestial body, in order to create a suitable dwelling place for them.

Now, however, as a remnant of the old lunar development, there were also such astral beings who were further back than the lowest human souls. They are the ancestors of the animal kingdom. The animals thus created, however, had souls that could not dwell in the individual animal but had to work as a group soul.

Thus a physically visible ball of vapour, permeated with warmth, air and light, gradually emerged from the primeval mist and radiated its light into the cosmos like a sun. In this light all hierarchies up to the Seraphim still lived together with the Earth and the light that permeated the Earth was the power of love. Love. The Seraphim, also called Spirits of All-Love, are, as the highest of the spiritual Hierarchies, sublime spiritual Beings who have the direct sight of the Godhead, the Trinity, and never act out of themselves, but are faithful executors of the Divine Will. This, however, was already a transition to the next epoch, the hyperborean time.

„The Earth, when it still had the Sun and the Moon within it, was only a kind of great ethereal mist of immense extent, and within it the germs of men were vigorous, but the germs of the other beings were dormant: animals, plants and minerals. For this reason, because only human germs were there, but not yet eyes, no eye could see these processes externally, so that the description given here can only become visible in retrospect for the clairvoyant human being. This description is made on the hypothetical assumption that someone would have seen this if he had been able to stand on a point of space at that time and watch. On Old Saturn, too, a physical eye would have noticed nothing at all. At that time, in its original state, the Earth was only a mist of vapour, which would have been felt only as warmth. Out of this mass, out of this primeval mist, a luminous ball of vapour gradually formed, which could have been seen if there had been an eye at that time. And if one had been able to penetrate it with a sense of feeling, so to speak, it would have appeared like a heated room; like the inside of an oven, it would have been eviscerated. Very soon, however, this mass of mist became luminous. And this ball of vapour that had formed there had in it all the germs that have just been spoken of. We must be clear that in this misty nebula there was not something like a modern mist or like modern cloud formations, but all the liquid substances that have become solid today were dissolved in it. All metals, all minerals, everything, everything was present in it in the form of vapour and mist, in a very transparent form, in an illuminated form of vapour. Transilluminated haze was there, permeated with warmth and light. Think yourself into it. What had become of the etheric mist was a gas that had been illuminated. And this became brighter and brighter, and it was precisely through the condensation of the gases that the light became stronger and stronger, so that at one time this mist actually appeared like a great sun shining out into the space of the world.

This was certainly the case at a time when the Earth still had the Sun within it, when it was still shining with light and radiating its light into space. This light, however, made it possible that not only man lived in that original arrangement with the earth, but that all other higher beings lived in the fullness of light, which did not take on a physical body, but are connected with the development of man: Angels, Archangels, Primordial Forces. But not only these were in it; higher beings also lived in the fullness of light: the Exusiai or Spirits of Form, the Dynamis or Spirits of Motion, the Kyriotetes or Spirits of Wisdom and those Spirits which are called the Thrones or Spirits of Will, and finally, in looser connection with the fullness of light, wrestling more and more away from it, the Cherubim and the Seraphim. The Earth was a world body populated by a whole hierarchy of lower and highest, most exalted beings. And that which radiated out into space as light, the light with which the earthly body was permeated, was not only light, but also that which later was the earthly mission: that was the power of love. That had light in it as its most important component. So we must imagine that not only light is emitted, not only physical light, but that this light is infused, spiritualised with the power of love.“ (Lit.:GA 106, p. 65ff)


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.


  1. The term root race derives from the terminology used at that time by the Theosophical Society and was later no longer used by Rudolf Steiner, as was the term subrace. Steiner repeatedly pointed out that the term "race" is actually no longer justified in the post-Atlantean time, since now it is no longer the physical but the soul-spiritual development that comes to the fore. The division of humanity into races will gradually be completely overcome and is already meaningless for the spiritual development of man.
  2. The actual Earth evolution begins in the fourth and middle of the seven so-called Rounds, during which Earth existence unfolds. In the first three rounds, earlier states of embodiment of the Earth, namely the Old Saturn, the Old Sun and the Old Moon, were repeated in an abbreviated form in order to make the fruits of these earlier forms of existence ripe for the Earth evolution itself. The Earth evolution, the fourth round, will be followed by three more rounds in which future new embodiments of the Earth will be, in a sense, foreshadowed.
  3. Abstract concepts of time, detached from things, are not meaningful for the contemplation of nature. Rather, one must rely on the intrinsic time of the system under consideration. For example, the Earth year or the Platonic year can only serve as a reference since the separation of the Sun, Earth and Moon. Intrinsic time is rooted in the essence of a living, developing wholeness and expresses itself through the processes that take place in it periodically in an orderly sequence and thereby constantly metamorphose. All living beings and all living systems, such as our earth, the entire planetary system and the cosmos as a whole, are such wholes and each has its own specific time. There is no absolute time deducted from things. Time measurements can therefore not be related to them, but consist in comparing different proper times with each other.

    „And this brings me to the fact that basically every entity that may be regarded at all as a totality actually carries its time within itself. I can consider a piece [of an] inorganic body for itself, but not a leaf, because it only has a part in the tree. In my observation, therefore, I must take into consideration what is a total system closed in on itself, what is a totality. But every totality that I look at in this way has time in it as something immanent. So that I can't really have much to spare for the abstract time that is still outside every thing and exists [alongside] the time immanent in every thing or process. When I consider the time that is to go from beginning to end, it seems to me just as when someone forms the abstract concept for the individual horse. The individual horses are there in the external spatial reality, but in order to get the concept, I have to attribute something else to it. It is the same with time. The question: Is time in itself variable or not? - has no real content, because every total system has its [own] time in its immanent being, and its [own] course of speed. The course of velocity of the inorganic or of the process of life leads back to this immanent time...

    In geology we describe one period after another, as if it were a reality. It is not. It is only a reality with the whole of the Earth, in the same way that an organism is a reality, where I must not tear out one thing. Instead of relating our processes to coordinate axis systems, it would be more important to relate them to their own inner reality, then we would arrive at totality systems. And then we would have to come back to a kind of monadism.“ (Lit.:GA 324a, p. 144)

    Moreover, developmental epochs do not simply follow each other, but overlap in wide areas. As a rule, the beginning of the following epoch is already indicated in the middle of the preceding one and continues to have an effect until the middle of the next one.

    Cf. also (Lit.: Bosse 2002, p 38ff and table p. 57)