Douglas and Tyla answer this question from readers in New Zealand.
Q. In relation to the Seven Pillars of Virtue and Time, how do the planets relate here? Which planet relates to which Virtue? Can one see the planets working as a body of influence within these Seven Pillars?
A. Congratulations on founding your Sisters of Sophia study group. I am always happy to answer questions that arise from the work of a group since the efforts of study and conversation can yield some of the greatest gifts of love to the spiritual world. As Goethe said in the fairytale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, “What is more glorious than gold?” asked the king. “Light,” responded the snake. “What is more quickening than light?” asked the king.
“Conversation,” answered the snake.
When two or more are gathered to consider love, and love is the heart of Sophia’s wisdom, we call on Archangels to participate in the conversation along with the our individual guardian angels. Once the Archangel Michael, the current Time Spirit, is present, Christ may enter where Sophia and Michael have prepared the way.
Your question concerning the association of the Pillars of Wisdom (Virtues) with the planets is excellent; however, it requires a detailed answer that is somewhat beyond GOS Volume 1 (GOS V1) to explain since V1 was written for an uninitiated audience. But seeing that your study group is composed of students of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Waldorf teachers, it seems appropriate to share an extract of GOS V3. I believe that your group, as well as others who are reading this answer, may be interested in V3 since it directly addresses the Waldorf curriculum as a model of the seven stage process of metamorphoses.
Yes. The Seven Virtues relate to the planets through time, through the morphological development of our solar system. This development is almost inconceivable to human thinking at this point of evolution. And if you are a reader of this question and feel totally lost in the explanation, then it is best to “back out” of this page and save for another time when you are ready to delve into the deeper mysteries of this subject matter. It takes patience and diligence to understand these esoteric concepts!
Rudolf Steiner tells us how the planets actually came to “be” as they appear to us now. The hierarchical and heavenly (human) virtues arise out of these stages. Just as we have seen that the virtues climb a ladder “back to heaven”, so too the seven deadly sins descend that same ladder in the opposite direction. The concept of falling into matter applies here, or as William Erwin Thompson calls it, “the time it takes falling bodies to alight.” The planets are the left over signs of the development of space through time, or the Temple of Wisdom. The outer planets of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars represent a spatial “reminder” of three great cycles of the process of seven that the solar system has already gone through (Ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon). The current earth and moon represent the Earth, or fourth stage of the seven. Venus, Mercury and the Sun represent the future stages that complete the cycle of seven.
Essentially, the seven hierarchical virtues are the gifts of the higher hierarchies through time that leave a “donation” or a shadow of their nature in this realm. The hierarchy has donated virtues to us like -- selfless sacrificing, bestowing grace, renunciation, consciousness, wisdom, harmonious order, love, the ego/I of the individual human being, Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition and other such “higher virtues.” These virtues translate to humans as stages of development, either rising to heaven (virtues) or descending to hell (vices).
The hierarchical stages are given cosmological names through Steiner as: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. These “names” are not the same as the planets we know and should not be confused with them. They are cosmological names that address the inner characteristics of each period in the cycle of seven. We are currently in the fourth cycle called Earth, which more or less coincides with the planet Earth in relationship to the current configuration of the solar system.
There is also another way to look at the “space” manifestation of the virtues instead of a “time” manifestation. There are no indications or ancient traditions to support an exact scheme of the virtues as they relate to space. In the Seventh Seal of GOS V2 a more complete elucidation of this idea is presented. Each virtue is related to a pillar based upon the spatial markers that the aspirant travels through in the spiritual world at night or after death. This expanding sphere of consciousness expands outward through the current planetary spheres based upon proximity. You will note that there are two initial “doors” into the Temple, either the Moon or the Sun. The choice of which door to enter is based upon the spiritual development of the individual. The list of associations is listed below:
Pillar One Humility-Compassion Moon or Sun
Pillar Two Love Moon or Sun
Pillar Three Purity Venus
Pillar Four Generosity Mercury
Pillar Five Temperance Mars
Pillar Six Diligence Jupiter
Pillar Seven Patience Saturn
Seven in Relationship to Planetary Formation
As we look again and again at the tessellations of seven, we find endless ramifications and applications that help illuminate the nature of all complete systems around us. One of the grander applications of the metamorphic process of the cycle of seven is found in the cosmology of Theosophy and Anthroposophy in relationship to the solar system. This cosmology takes flexible thinking (etheric vision) to imagine. For example, imagine the caterpillar spinning itself into a chrysalis, whereupon it “goes to sleep”, then awakens in a form that remembers the past and inherently knows the future. Surely, if a butterfly can metamorphose, the solar system can too; and this is what is revealed in this grand cosmological scheme of seven stages.
The solar system is a living being with a life cycle that has “apparent” births, deaths and rebirths - seven in the full cycle. In other words, the planets and our central sun have changed dramatically, and create a stark contrast to the current ideas of what matter is, where it comes from and where it is going. The “spiritual cosmology” of the solar system is directly connected to hierarchical beings and their metamorphosis of ascendency into the higher hierarchy above them. Even the gods evolve. And their process is intimately connected to ours. As the hierarchy evolves, prior “donations” of grand virtues of sacrifice, wisdom, and love have woven our solar system into what currently looks somewhat fixed and stable. This is an illusion of space and time that is created as multi-dimensional inter-weavings that create many different, independent, concurrent perspectives of “reality.”
Behind all matter is donated spirit that is held suspended in space and time for the purpose of human consciousness coming into independent consciousness. Human consciousness, in the beginning, was childlike and directly “tied its mother’s apron strings.” Currently, humans are in danger of falling into matter through pride and the other deadly sins. The more our infantile consciousness gets lost in matter (space) the more we lose the larger perspective of time.
Humans are immortal beings. That is the lesson of life: to know that we keep on living in other forms after death, until the next birth. Birth and death are illusions of space and time. It is the cyclic pattern of all nature, birth-death-rebirth. This is also true for the grand stages of morphological development of our solar system. Our solar system was not created by a gradual and sequential slowing down of matter from the big bang that just happened to “take order” and form into the many “wisdom filled” aspects of the world all around us. It is ridiculous to “believe” in a “big bang” instead of a “big plan” or, as I call it in GOS V1, a “big birth.”
To consider spiritual cosmology we first should give the disclaimer that we will not be considering the currently named outer planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Plato. These planetoids were not part of our solar system in the first three stages of the cycle but indeed joined our solar system only in the fourth stage and then as a shadow of the seven planets. The asteroid built between Mars and Jupiter is included in this process of development. Anything beyond our solar system is extremely difficult to explain in human logical thinking or even imaginative thinking. A full explanation does arise out of the work of Rudolf
Steiner but the images he gives indicate that we are basically looking into a mirror as we look out into space
beyond our solar system. We have yet to understand the lower rungs of the ladder that describe our solar system let alone the universe.
Steiner’s indications about the solar system and universe have come to be proven true. In his Astronomy Course, Steiner describes the true nature of light, the true center of mass of the solar system, the nature of the interior of the sun, the presence of arsenic in comet tails, the zodiacal degree of the galactic and super-galactic centers, and many other ideas that have been proven true in our time by scientists like Theodor Landscheidt and Ervin Laszlo, to name a few.
Steiner was a great astrophysicist who has been given almost no credit for some of the most important insight in the field. Even the true motion of the planets was explained by Steiner and later proven with mathematical equations. The list of profound and shocking insight of Steiner concerning cosmology makes him one of the most effective sources to find new “discoveries” in science. Therefore, what is about to be shared in this answer to your question is no theoretical speculation, but instead ancient wisdom that has been known by clairvoyants for millennia and confirmed by the clairvoyant Steiner. He was able to reaffirm ancient teachings and cloth them in spiritual scientific terms that, like Nikola Tesla, will keep being applied for centuries to come.
We would do well to imagine each complete system in the world as being a whole unto itself. Our solar system is one of those complete systems in the process of the seven stages. We need not, at this point, consider anything outside of this system. Or, one could consider that if you take everything outside of our solar system and imagine it to be a complete system, a sphere of activity, it will be found to follow the same cycles and pattern. In other words, what is happening in the universe is also happening in our solar system, they mirror each other. Therefore, the consideration of our solar system’s metamorphosis is most easily imagined as somewhat independent of all the fantastic (and incorrect) ideas of modern science about the universe that minimalize the importance and centrality of our system’s development.
If we tell the story of the solar system the way Steiner explains it, it would sounds something like this.
Stage One: Saturn
In stage one, called Saturn, there was no sun, no planets, no light, no time as we know it. Only the hierarchy, who do not take on physical form brooded over this amorphous potential. Then, the hierarchies’ plan of seven stages was created out of love and harmony. Once this plan was communicated to the hierarchy of willpower, creation came into being as a mood of holy self-sacrifice. This sacrifice broke into two and the world of substance and the world of time (as a sequential process) came into being.
Space was not yet created but the substance of sacrifice became warmth and the beings who lived in this warmth clustered together in bundles and manifested time as living beings. The human being also came into existence at that time as a seed. In each seed, a human existed in all of its forms, from animal-like characteristics with a physical body to the future nature of humans as angels without physical form in the perfect cosmological shape of a sphere. The area, or sphere, of this ancient Saturn condition was the size of the orbit of our current planet Saturn as it moves around the sun. Imagine a large sphere like a ball that fills the entire orbit of the current planet Saturn.
Stage Two: Sun
The second stage of the solar system’s metamorphic development only comes after what we might call a chrysalis stage of disincorporation that “remembers” the past and reorganizes for the future. This “falling back" into non-manifestation
where no “matter” exists. This is the largest jump of imagination required in understanding the process of the cycle of seven as it concerns the solar system.
Between each stage is a sleep, a sort of death to the previous stage but fully cognizant of the past development that is able to create a new synthesis and re-organization of the past that is more in line with future needs. In Vedic literature this is called a pralaya, or period of non-manifestation. As you read in GOS V1, matter appears during a manvantara period of manifestation and disappears during the pralaya period of non-manifestation. Movement and manifestation congeals matter and then dissolves it again to be used in the next phase of development, just as the caterpillar goes through a chrysalis stage of discorporation and reincorporation to become a butterfly.
This concept of cycles of manifestation and non-manifestation “flies in the face” of materialistic science because science has made "matter" its
holy grail and the “speed of light” the only nourishment coming from this grail. Matter is not truly solid. Atoms are mostly space with organized particles spinning around that space, much like our solar system. Imagine that the particles in an atom stopped spinning and fell into the empty space. If we also imagine that the “space” is a living being that remembers all that the particles do, then we start to approach the reality of matter from a spiritual perspective.
Matter is congealed spirit or spirit that has fallen, or been donated, into the physical realm. This constitutes a type of creation out of the vacuum of space, which is where most modern theories are leading. Space is a conscious, remembering substance. It is then only a small step to take to imagine that a conscious, spiritual space might not only hold and know the past, but through projective metamorphosis of the cycle of seven, can also “predict” the future. A seed “knows” the past of all of its parent plants and also knows the future nature of the births of roots, stem, leaves, blossom, and new seeds again. Each seed must go through death to be born again in a new form – a pralaya. The process of seven that is found in the metamorphosis of a complete cycle is found everywhere in nature and the human being.
Another place that space is overthrown by time is through repeated human earthly incarnations. Each human will grow through many stages of development through many incarnations. The newborn appears out of an invisible world with “memories” or capacities from past lives. The lessons and advancement of the current life are taken into an invisible world after death and from there, reborn again. These cycles have similar stages of manifestation and non-manifestation in the physical world. It is this invisible world that fills in the blanks of what will come about through metamorphosis. Often, the stages are evidently connected and clearly evolve into the next form, but at other stages it seems indistinct and nebulous or even shocking in the dramatic transformation – blossom to seed, caterpillar to butterfly.
From pralaya to manvantara, non-manifestation to manifestation, the seven cycles grow dynamically and then fall back and rest. This cycle is seen as growth spurts in human development. In plants it manifests as burst of growth that then fall back and recede. Plants, animals, and humans all have these metamorphic cycles both in the physical and non-physical realms. The visible world is penetrated thoroughly by the invisible. Some call them forces, while others call them beings. It is in fact, a mixture of both and with incredibly complex systems to support a physical foundation built up from the seven ethers. And of course, the ethers themselves follow these same cycles of morphological metamorphosis. Each of the seven ethers is based upon the development of the previous. Each of these ethers was created during one of the cosmological stages of development. On ancient Saturn, for instance, warmth ether came into existence and the element of heat was born at that time. Warmth ether was donated by the Beings of Willpower, the beings called Thrones in the Christian enumeration of the hierarchy.
Thus, in stage one, the Beings of Willpower were the prime movers who brought warmth into existence wherein the Beings of Time found their personal expression similar to the consciousness of humans. All of the beings, ethers, forces, substances, and currents evolve from one stage to the next, after a rest period. Therefore, at the next stage of the cycle of seven, there was a rebirth from non-manifestation that brought all of the growth and evolution from the prior period forward.
The warmth from the Saturn period was brought into the next period called the Sun incarnation. During this stage, the Beings of Wisdom donated space as a defined place where light could be born. This light continued to warm space and the substance that was luminous filled the area of the orbit of the current planet Jupiter.
The Beings of Wisdom, called Kyriotetes, filled this space with the living substance of wisdom. Beings of Inspiration, Archangels, populated this wisdom-filled space and experienced their human stage during the Sun incarnation. The name Sun was given to this stage because the sphere of light that was as large as the current Jupiter was glowing like our future sun. Time and space then begin to work together along with the beings who work through time and space. The substance of this stage will latter become plants just as the substance of the Saturn incarnation latter became what we know now as the mineral kingdom. All beings and substances continued to evolve. Then, another rest period came to re-organize substance for future needs.
Stage Three: Moon
The third stage of cosmological metamorphosis is called Moon. During this stage, the Beings of Motion, the Dynameis, donated a substance like fluid or water, and the Beings of Imagination, the Angels, experienced their human stage in this fluid world. Latter, this substance will become the animal kingdom. This stage of the Moon inscribed the sphere of the current planet Mars. No physical substance was yet present, even though the atmosphere was similar to water. Humans continued to watch these three stages of development from the non-manifested realm. Each new stage developed substances, forces, and associations of beings who will evolve into the realm we call the current Earth.
During the Moon, the Angels felt a moving, weaving world of fluid pictures that answered their longing for the spirit. The virtue of renunciation was practiced by the Beings of Motion as they help create the relationships between all forces, beings, substances, time, and space.
Stage Four: Earth
The fourth stage of cosmic metamorphoses is called the Earth incarnation. It is the stage we find ourselves in currently, even though prior recapitulations of the three previous stages took place before any true physical substance came into being. In this stage, humans are brought out of the non-manifest realm into the solid, physical world of manifestation. Humans now benefit from the efforts of the three previous stages. The fourth stage is the lowest stage and the middle of the seven stage cycle. It is in this stage that the true intent of the full process of the seven stages manifests. The Earth incarnation is the focus of full cycle of seven. Humanity as we know it now is the intent of evolution. All prior stages exist in our stage of the Earth, but not until a recapitulation of Saturn, Sun, and Moon have occurred.
As explained, the three stages of Saturn, Sun, and Moon have condensed and congealed repeatedly as each new stage has come to birth after recapitulating the development of the whole. Thus, the Earth incarnation recapitulated the Saturn stage and was as large as the orbit of the current planet Saturn. As this recapitulation happened, the current planet of Saturn was left in its current orbit as a physical marker of that ancient stage of development. The virtues, gifts, donations, and experiences of that first stage of development are concurrently available for humanity as different aspects of the constitution of the human being and the natural world. The Saturn incarnation gave us warmth that evolved into light on the Sun incarnation and then into sound or fluid during the incarnation of the Moon and eventually into life as we know it now in the Earth incarnation. Warmth ether evolved into light ether and it into sound/chemical ether and it into life ether. The warmth of ancient Saturn evolved through four stages into what we now know as minerals. Light evolved through three stages into plants, sound into animals, and now life brings forth humanity on a planet that is filled with ancient donations that have evolved into the natural kingdoms of nature.
Humans have each of these stages of metamorphosis inscribed into the workings of the etheric formative forces found in the human etheric body. This etheric body provides the patterns, substances, currents, donations of beings, and associations with living hierarchical beings as the blueprint of life. The past, present, and future are found in the workings of the etheric body.
As the incarnation of the Earth continued in its recapitulation of the prior periods, it separated the luminous substance which continued to contract into our current sun from the denser material and the current planet of Jupiter was left behind as a marker of that period and remnant of denser matter that separated from the newborn sun. Then a most wondrous thing happened. There was a “war in heaven” wherein some beings wanted to create a physical planet too soon, before it was called for in proper evolution. These beings congealed the denser substances and attempted to create the Earth too soon. A planet was created that subsequently dis-incorporated as a planetoid and fell into pieces and now inscribes a circular plane between the current Jupiter and Mars that we know as the asteroid belt. This “almost” planet was the scene of the war in heaven - and the heavens won, casting some beings further down into congealing substance that was not part of progressive evolution. These beings are called Luciferic, after Lucifer their leader, who we read of in the Bible. The asteroid belt was left as a marker of that development and a sign of the war in heaven.
This graphic representation of the planetary incarnations of the Earth can be found in the Appendix of GOS V1.
After each of the recapitulations of Saturn, Sun, and Moon, there were small rest periods where substance was once again reorganized and transformed into the new material needed for future evolution. After the recapitulation of the ancient Saturn period we find the current planet Saturn congealing into the form we now know. After the ancient Sun recapitulation, we find the current planet Jupiter congealed, and after the recapitulation of the ancient Moon incarnation we have the current planet Mars congealing into the form we now know. In between the recapitulation of the ancient Sun and Moon incarnation, we have the war in heaven and the marker of the asteroid belt left in the space between the current Mars and Jupiter. The planets of Venus, Mercury, and the Moon also condensed and formed into spheres at the same time as the Earth was doing the same.
The next stage of Earth was no longer a recapitulation but was new and brought the virtue of consciousness to human beings. Consciousness is the donated substance of the Spirts of Form that created the ego or I consciousness of the human being. This ego/I still had to go through evolution to develop into a self-conscious, independent human being. The leader of the Spirits of Form is the second person in the Holy Trinity, Christ. Christ is the perfect model of the developed human ego/I. Christ held humans back as seeds to be planted in the donated realm of the planet Earth. Death is the result of the physical, solid world coming into being. Death is found only in the shadow cast by spirit into this realm; it is an illusion of time and space. Christ descended through time and space and demonstrated how to conquer this realm of death with consciousness, wisdom, and love. Christ’s being itself is the template or model of the human ego/I.
As the current Earth was condensing and congealing, after the recapitulations, physical matter as we know it came into existence for the first time. The Earth itself is also going through smaller sub-stages of cycles of seven. These stages are also little known or understood by current science. Each of these sub-cycles also recapitulates the standard metamorphic influences found in the cosmological morphology of our solar system. Thus, similar forces and patterns can be found in these sub-cycles.
It is not only the past that we find woven into the wisdom of nature that surrounds us and is also found in the etheric body. The future is also imprinted in the etheric body and lies as potential patterns of metamorphosis that will unfold as the future of humanity on this and future planets. Through the insight of Steiner and the great clairvoyants, we now know what that future will look like and what hierarchies will be involved in bringing forth future evolution. This is very difficult for the materialist to imagine, let alone comprehend. These future stages of human evolution are found within us as potential capacity. Some advanced spiritual souls already can embody these future stages and conditions in the present. In a way, they are calling forth future capacities in the present moment. These stages are called Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition.
Humans can experience the past through substances and created forces found in our realm. Humans can experience the future now by embodying the capacities that will develop naturally in the human being. Through substance (space) we experience the past; through elevated consciousness (time) we can experience the future. Once a full cosmology is developed by the human being, space and time can be dissolved by consciousness and the individual may receive the future “gifts” of the spirit in the present.
This makes humans immortal and no longer impinged upon by the death forces of substance and the limiting forces of time. Consciousness is beyond space and time, and it is the intent of evolution for humans to evolve into spiritual beings who are not limited by either.
The full scope of the cycle of seven is to bring forth new creation from seemingly nothingness. This process is happening all the time in human thinking, feeling, and willing as it evolves into Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Humans become conscious co-creators as their hierarchical creators and all other beings evolve in the process. This is the magic of the metamorphic processes of the cycle of seven found in all complete systems.
Below is a simple chart of the incarnations of our current Earth through all seven stages of cyclic metamorphosis, even into the “future.” Each hierarchical virtue for those stages is given in the second column. The human virtues that relate to the ancient incarnation stages of development are listed next, and then the beings associated with experiencing their “human” consciousness in the different stages. Note that once humans become truly human and conquer death, space, and time they become more than human and take on the characteristics and virtues of the next rank in the hierarchy. It is also important that the new impulse for the future comes out of the fifth stage of development. Thus, for humans to find the new forces of evolution they should look to the new capacity of Imagination that will support this new growth and evolution.
Incarnation Hierarchical Virtue Human Virtue Beings
Saturn Sacrificing Humility Archai (Time Beings)
Sun Bestowing Love Archangels
Moon Renunciation Purity Angels
Earth Consciousness Generosity Humans
Jupiter Imagination Temperance Humans as Angels
Venus Inspiration Diligence Humans as Archangels
Vulcan Intuition Patience Humans as Archai