Toward the Jupiter Incarnation
Exploring Rudolf Steiner's amazing occult cosmology
My “magnum opus,” 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, has just been republished as Quetzalcoatl Returns: Understanding the Prophetic Transformation of Planetary Consciousness. Below is an excerpt from the book, which you can buy as EPUB or paperback. I think this work is as timely as ever — perhaps even more timely. If you read it, I am sure you will agree.
In The Life of the Cosmos, physicist Lee Smolin suggests “the idea that the laws of nature are immutable and absolute . . . might be as much the result of contingent and historical circumstances as they are reflections of some eternal, transcendent logic.” He offers a hypothesis of “cosmological natural selection” in which black holes open onto new regions of the universe, where the cosmological constants are slightly altered. “In each birth of a new universe the parameters change by a small random step,” Smolin theorizes, analogous to the “small random change” between the genes of a child and its parents.
Such postulates resemble the macrocosmic mindscape elaborated by the occult visionary and philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1860 - 1925), who saw the universe as a staging ground for infinite transformations and permutations of consciousness, taking multidimensional forms. In his vision of the solar system, “the planets are not hunks of stuff out there but nodes of vibration that resonate in multiple dimensions that enfold themselves into one another in patterns of complex recursiveness in which Sun, Moon, and Saturn are also modalities of Earth,” wrote William Irwin Thompson, who suggested that such a view was not a violation of rationality, but an expansion of our cosmological framing. In Steiner’s nondualistic vision, the human being is integrated, embedded, within a universe that is psychophysical in its essence, where there is no “out there” opposed to “in here,” where our thoughts and imaginings are extensions of the natural processes of the world.
Studying the occult, I absorbed the ideas of Dion Fortune, G. I. Gurdjieff, Julius Evola, Aleister Crowley, Steiner, and so on, finding similarities among them but also significant differences that confused me. Over time, I realized that apprehending the pattern of occult thought was more important than adhering to the details of any particular system. The occult vision offers a way of conceiving reality that is closer to art—or the theme- and-variations of music—than science.
“What if at the higher levels of meaning consciousness is like a hyperspace in which each point is equidistant from the other and where ‘the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere’?” Thompson proposed, in Passages about Earth. “The mythologies of the occult seem like baroque music: there is an overall similar quality of sound and movement, but, upon examination, each piece of music is unique; Vivaldi and Scarlatti are similar and different.” The movement away from the linear and dualistic thought of “one-dimensional man” opens on multivalent meanings and mythopoetical modalities, requiring equanimity and a firm grounding in reality—a difficult balance to strike.
In his lectures, Steiner proposed that humans were “inverted plants”; that the Buddha reincarnated on Mars after he left Earth; that birds, butterflies, and bats were “cosmic thought, cosmic memory, cosmic dream”; that the beehive represents a higher-dimensional consciousness and is a gift from Venus; that the blood spilled by Christ transmuted the inner nature of the Earth, altering human evolution; that we would have conscious control over the rhythms and pulsations of the heart in our next phase of evolution. Yet he established enduring institutions such as Waldorf Schools, the Anthroposophic movement, biodynamic agriculture, techniques of holistic and homeopathic medicine, and Camphill Villages that develop skills in the mentally retarded, all of which continue to benefit the world, eighty years after his death. He said that the purpose of human existence was to “transform the Earth,” insisting that the only way to oppose nihilism and degraded institutions is to build what is good and pragmatic for human evolution—and he made good on his word.
“If we can simply distinguish between the different successive stages of evolution, it is possible to see primeval events within the earthly events of the present,” Steiner wrote. Describing macrocosmic stages of evolution, he denoted past and future incarnations of the Earth according to the names of the planets—as if the various planets in their current embodiments represent husks of past stages of consciousness, or symbolic indications of future levels that we are still incubating.
In his philosophy, the planets in our solar system are like resonant frequencies attuned to different levels of mind, alternate realms in which supersensible entities unlike ourselves are working out their fate. “The interrelationships of spiritual beings inhabiting celestial bodies are a cause of these bodies’ movement,” Steiner wrote. “Causes that are soul-like and spiritual in character move these celestial bodies into position and set them in motion in ways that allow spiritual circumstances to be played out in the physical realm.”
According to Steiner, rudimentary humanity developed during the “Saturn” and “Sun” incarnations of the Earth—in those early phases we were plant-like, deeply unconscious—followed by the “Old Moon” incarnation, where we attained a dream-like awareness. Steiner describes the “Old Moon” as the “planet of longing,” where we apprehended our future forms in dream-like flickers, but could not yet embody them. Consequently, the Earth is “the planet of fulfillment,” where we reached the stage of individual self-consciousness. From the current Earth, our evolutionary stream flows toward the Jupiter phase—identical, perhaps, with the Fifth World of the Hopi. According to Steiner, we will, eventually, become self- created entities of cosmic wisdom, as he described in one of his lectures:
The Jupiter Beings are unlike the men of Earth. When a man of Earth wants to grow wise, he must undergo inner development, he must struggle, battle inwardly and overcome; through periods that are filled with active development the human being struggles to acquire an unpretentious form of wisdom. Not so the Jupiter Beings. They are not “born” as earthly beings are born, they form themselves out of the Cosmos. Just as you can see a cloud taking shape, so do the Jupiter Beings form themselves in the etheric and astral worlds, out of the Cosmos. Neither do they die. They interpenetrate one another, do not, as it were compete with each other for space. These Beings are, so to speak, wisdom that has become real and actual. Wisdom is innate in them; they cannot be other than wise. Just as we have circulating blood, so have the Jupiter Beings wisdom. It is their very nature.
Each successive interval represents an upgrade into higher consciousness, with a concomitant shift in our physical body as well as our various subtle energy systems—but also, at every evolutionary threshold, there are many who are not ready to advance. Restrained by past karma—conditioned patterns of thought, feeling, and action—they undergo an alternate process of development, passing through lower worlds.
In Steiner’s view, everything possesses awareness, at its own level, and continually develops new depths, or degrades into flightier forms, of consciousness. “To supersensible perception, there is no such thing as ‘unconsciousness,’ only various degrees of consciousness. Everything in the world is conscious,” he wrote. In the approaching Jupiter state, plants will attain a higher level of consciousness—shifting from their current slumbering form which he equates with “dreamless sleep,” to a level of sentience similar to what humans now experience in dreams. Minerals, as well as animals, will also attain a new level of consciousness, as humanity splits into several “human kingdoms” diverging into different evolutionary streams. The organ of reproduction will move from the genitals to the throat chakra—we will sing, or enunciate, other beings like ourselves into existence.
From previous, less tangible incarnations of the Earth, we inherited the current “cosmos of wisdom,” symphonically orchestrated by higher echelons of spiritual hierarchies. It is the ultimate purpose of human development, according to Steiner, to transform this cosmos of wisdom into a freely determined “cosmos of love.” In the present phase of Earth evolution, humanity received the perfected physical body, and, through our historical development, attained self-consciousness, identifying ourselves as singular beings denoted through our usage of the “I.” “The actual essential nature of the I is independent of anything external; therefore, nothing outside of it can call it by its name,” he wrote. “Religious denominations that have consciously maintained their connection to the supersensible call the term I the ‘ineffable name of God.’”
Because we only attained this individuated ego-based awareness in our recent development, the “I” is still weaker than the other bodies we possess—which he calls the physical body, the astral body, and the ether body. Cravings and desires are constantly pouring into us through the astral body, and the goal of our present phase of evolution is to master those cravings, and the astral body itself, through the strengthening of the I, transmuting lower passions into higher energies. “Fundamentally, all of our cultural activity and spiritual endeavors consist of work that aims for this mastery by the I. All human beings who are alive at present are involved in this work, whether or not they are conscious of it.”
As we transform the astral body through painstaking conscious labor, we slowly create a fifth body, which Steiner calls the spirit self. “The spirit self constitutes a higher element of our human makeup, one that is present in it in embryonic form, as it were, and emerges more and more in the course of working on ourselves.” In the Jupiter phase, or Fifth World, the spirit self will experience its full unfolding. In future stages, we will also learn to transform the ethereal body (the “vital body” of energy and feeling), and eventually the physical body itself. What Steiner describes of our future state seems essentially identical to Aurobindo’s vision of the “supramental” condition—what Amit Goswami, in Physics of the Soul, termed the “theme body.”
But what could it mean to transform the astral body, and how would this occur?
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