“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
Revelation (Chapter 9: 1-4)
Douglas Gabriel discusses the mystery of meteorites and comets
‘Work with Meteorites’
Rudolf Steiner’s relationship to meteorites can be summed up in the phrase: Get meteorites and work with them. Whether the spiritual scientist wishes to follow this injunction and aid the Archangel Michael, the spirit of the Sun, in his battle against the Dragon, Ahriman, or focus his attention on creating medicaments of meteoric iron to enhance the processes of combustion in the human blood, the power of meteorites should be seen as unique, powerful, and helpful to humanity. In Anthroposophic medicine, meteoric iron is used to strengthen the ability for red blood cells to take up oxygen and enhance the process of respiration through a “slow burning fire”; meteoric iron also can be used for meditation and contemplation on the cosmic workings of our solar system.
Meteors and comets inspire the aspirant to consider their source and nature as well as the meaning of their place in the balance of our solar system. They also can cause undue fear and consternation in a naive person as they fall to Earth with a power that matches atomic destruction. Finding the equilibrium between wonder and awe, generated while watching a celestial meteor speed towards Earth with its fiery tail streaming behind it, and the fear that arises that a cataclysm may be at hand is reminiscent of the image of the Archangel Michael casting Lucifer from heaven to the Earth. One large meteorite striking the Earth could create a disaster that wipes out most life on Earth in the blink of an eye through a disastrous explosion. Michael subduing the Dragon is not only an analogy, but also a threatening reality. This cosmic imagination is found active in our solar system and also in the bloodstream of the human physical constitution.
There are many thousands of “Near Earth Objects” that head towards the Earth at varying frequencies, like comets and meteors that seem to appear out of nowhere and cruise by the Earth carrying the fate of humanity in their wake. Often, asteroids pass so close to the Earth that they enter the realm between the Moon and Earth. Some of these meteors seem to come out of nowhere and scientists will admit that they “did not see them coming.” These cosmic wanderers are often obscured by the Sun and their origin is still unknown to the scientists whose job it is to monitor and track these possible cosmic disasters.
Rudolf Steiner indicated that many iron meteorites come directly from the Sun, from sunspots that expel them from the core of the Sun. This insight of Steiner’s is only now becoming understood after many years of scientific ignorance that tends to not fully understand the Sun and its relationship with the Earth. The spirit of the Sun, the Archangel Michael, is still casting the Old Dragon to Earth, as the Bible has told us. These harbingers of possible disaster hold the fate of humanity in their unpredictable hands, as it were. Humanity lives in a symbiotic relationship to the Sun and its messengers of shooting stars, meteorites, and comets as the consciousness of humans continues to effect the actions of the Sun. This may be hard to understand for those who forget that the Sun is the Mother of all life on Earth and certainly She does not wish to harm Her children in any undue manner. But it is incumbent upon Her children to study Her nature and actions with wonder, awe, and respect.
Rudolf Steiner has told us in his teachings that all things in the cosmos are also found in the human physical constitution, except for comets. Although, comets do have a physical analogy to the forces of pregnancy in an expecting mother. Comets arise out of the Oort Cloud, at the edge of our solar system, coming into physical manifestation from a realm little understood by modern science. Comets seem to appear from “nothingness” and follow a periodic path around the Sun and then return to the Oort Cloud and disappear from physical manifestation. As such, they seem to “incarnate” and “discarnate” in an inexplicable manner that scientists can only speculate about. Add to that the fact that an icy comet does not melt, even though it may often come very close to the Sun during its perihelion, and you find another mystery of comets. The tail of a comet continues to stream away from the Sun no matter whether it is approaching or receding from the Sun. This was a great conundrum for scientists until this cometary action led to the discovery of the nature of the solar winds, the breath of Sun, only realized in modern times. Thus, comets are another messenger of the Sun that wishes to educate human beings.
Rudolf Steiner has explained many of these mysteries in his course on astronomy, given to the first Waldorf school teachers, along with many other curious and misunderstood aspects of comets, the Sun, the nature of solar light, and meteors. He also indicated that cyanide is prevalent in the tails of comets, which only recently has been discovered, confirming again his advanced understanding of our solar system and its working. According to Steiner, comets appear periodically as a mechanism of cleaning our solar system of poisons dangerous to humanity. His insights about comets should teach us that many mysteries that spiritual science has revealed will only be fully understood by scientists in the future as new discoveries come to light that prove his revelations to be true. Thus, whether we study comets, meteors, meteorites, our Sun, or planetary influences we should lend a listening ear to what Anthroposophy has to say about the true realities of our cosmos that are yet to be understood.
A meteorite is a rock that falls to Earth from space, often from the asteroid belt which is the remnant of a planet that has broken into many pieces in the ancient past. Most are far older than the Earth and they provide some of the only samples we have of other worlds in our solar system – whether planets, asteroids, or comets from the Oort Cloud. Some meteorites even contain tiny particles that formed around other stars that existed before our Sun. The study of meteorites has helped us understand the beginnings of our solar system, how planets and asteroids formed and how impacts of large meteorites have altered Earth’s history and life on our planet.
Meteorites come from inside our solar system. Most of them are fragments of asteroids that broke apart long ago in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. Such fragments may orbit the Sun for eons before falling to Earth while others come directly from the Sun and are cast out of sunspots, often directly towards the Earth.
Meteorites can weigh up to around sixty tons, or they can be as small as a grain of sand. The vast majority of meteorites are fragments of shattered asteroids which are often pulled out of the asteroid belt by the force of Jupiter’s gravity. A small number of meteorites are pieces of rock from the surfaces of other planets like Mars, Mercury, and the Moon. Certain “primitive” meteorites contain the first solid material to form in our solar system and provide clues to the nature of the elements present in the solar system as a whole.
There have been nearly 1,100 recovered falls (meteorites seen to fall) and nearly 40,000 finds (found, but not seen to fall). It is estimated that probably 500 meteorites reach the surface of the Earth each year, but less than 10 are recovered. Most meteorites fall into the ocean or on land in remote areas of the Earth. Many small meteoroids pass close to the Earth each day. It is estimated that each day one or two 5-10 meter objects pass within the Moon’s orbit and that there are probably 30 million near-Earth objects that could become a “falling star” that reaches the Earth.
“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great Star from Heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”
Revelation (Chapter 8:7-11)
The Michael Imagination
Four Seasons and the Archangels, Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 1, October 5, 1923, GA 229
This sulfurizing process in human bodies at midsummer, although it is so mild and gentle and imperceptible to man himself, has very great importance for the evolution of the cosmos. A great deal happens out there in the cosmos when in summer human beings shine inwardly with the sulfur-process. Seen from other planets, the inner being of man then begins to shine, becoming visible as a being of light to the etheric eyes of other planetary beings.
From the standpoint of the cosmos, this is a majestically beautiful sight for it is in glorious astral light that human beings shine out into the cosmos during high summer, but at the same time it gives occasion for the Ahrimanic power to draw near to man. For this power is very closely related to the sulfurizing process in the human organism. We can see how, on the one hand, man shines out into the cosmos in the St. John’s light, and on the other how the dragon-like serpent-form of Ahriman winds its way among the human beings shining in the astral light and tries to ensnare and embrace them, to draw them down into the realm of half-conscious sleep and dreams. Then, caught in this web of illusion, they would become world-dreamers, and in this condition they would be a prey to the Ahrimanic powers. All this has significance for the cosmos also.
When in high summer, from a particular constellation, meteors fall in great showers of cosmic iron, then this cosmic iron, which carries an enormously powerful healing force, is the weapon which the gods bring to bear against Ahriman, as dragon-like he tries to coil round the shining forms of men. The force which falls on the earth in the meteoric iron is indeed a cosmic force whereby the higher gods endeavor to gain a victory over the Ahrimanic powers when autumn comes on. This majestic display in cosmic space, when the August meteor showers stream down into the human shining in the astral light, has its counterpart – so gentle and apparently so small – in a change that occurs in the human blood. This human blood, which is in truth not such a material thing as present-day science imagines, but is permeated throughout by impulses from soul and spirit, is rayed through by the force which is carried as iron into the blood and wages war there on anxiety, fear, and hate. The processes which are set going in every blood-corpuscle when the force of iron shoots into it are the same, on a minute human scale, as those which take place when meteors fall in a shining stream through the air. This permeation of human blood by the anxiety-dispelling force of iron is a meteoric activity. The effect of the raying in of the iron is to drive fear and anxiety out of the blood.
As the gods with their meteors wage war on the spirit, who would like to radiate fear over all the earth through his coiling serpent-form, and while they cause iron to stream radiantly into this fear-tainted atmosphere, which reaches its peak when autumn approaches or when summer wanes – so the same process occurs inwardly in man when his blood is permeated with iron. We can understand these things only if we understand their inner spiritual significance on the one hand, and if on the other we recognize how the sulfur-process and the iron-process in man are connected with corresponding events in the cosmos.
A person who looks out into space and sees a shooting-star should say to themself, with reverence for the gods: “That occurrence in the great expanse of space has its minute counterpart continuously in myself. There are the shooting-stars, while in every one of my blood-corpuscles iron is taking form: my life is full of shooting-stars, miniature shooting-stars.” And this inner fall of shooting-stars, pointing to the life of the blood, is especially important when autumn approaches, when the sulfur-process is at its peak. For when humans are shining like glow-worms in the way I have described, then the counter-force is present also, for millions of tiny meteors are scintillating inwardly in their blood.
This is the connection between the inner man and the universe. And then we can see how, especially when autumn is approaching, there is a great raying-out of sulfur from the nerve-system towards the brain. The whole person can then be seen as a sulfur-illuminated phantom, so to speak.
But raying into this bluish-yellow sulfur atmosphere come the meteor swarms from the blood. That is the other phantom. While the sulfur-phantom rises in clouds from the lower part of man towards his head, the iron-forming process rays out from his head and pours itself like a stream of meteors into the life of the blood.
Such is humanity when Michaelmas draws near. And one must learn to make conscious use of the meteoric-force in one’s blood. One must learn to keep the Michael Festival by making it a festival for the conquest of anxiety and fear; a festival of inner strength and initiative; a festival for the commemoration of selfless self-consciousness.
So at Michaelmas – if the Michael Festival is to be rightly understood – we must celebrate that which lives spiritually in the sulfurizing and meteorizing process in humanity, and should stand before human consciousness in its whole soul-spiritual significance especially at Michaelmas. Then a person can say to themself: “You will become lord of this process, which otherwise takes its natural course outside your consciousness, if – just as you bow thankfully before the birth of the Redeemer at Christmas and experience Easter with deep inner response – you learn to experience how at this autumn festival of Michael there should grow in you everything that goes against love of ease, against anxiety, and makes for the unfolding of inner initiative and free, strong, courageous will.” The Festival of strong will – that is how we should conceive of the Michael Festival. If that is done, if nature-knowledge is true, then spiritual human self-consciousness at the Michael Festival will shine out in its true colors. Then, out of all I have described, the majestic image of Michael and the Dragon will arise once more. But this picture of Michael and the Dragon paints itself out of the cosmos. The Dragon paints himself for us, forming his body out of bluish-yellow sulfur streams. We see the Dragon shaping himself in shimmering clouds of radiance out of the sulfur-vapors; and over the Dragon rises the figure of Michael – Michael with his sword.
But we shall picture this rightly only if we see the space where Michael displays his power and his lordship over the Dragon as filled not with indifferent clouds but with showers of meteoric iron. These showers take form from the power that streams out from Michael’s heart; they are welded together into the sword of Michael, who overcomes the Dragon with his sword of meteoric iron.
Man can rescue himself from its impending dangers only if he starts to spiritualize life in this very domain, if he penetrates through his environment to the spiritual; if he turns from the iron which is used for making engines and looks up again to the meteoric iron which showers down from the cosmos to the earth and is the outer material from which the power of Michael is forged. Men must come to see the great significance of the following words: “Here on earth, in this epoch of materialism, you have made use of iron, in accordance with the insight gained from your observation of matter. Now, just as you must transform your vision of matter through the development of natural science into Spiritual Science, so must you rise from your former idea of iron to a perception of meteoric iron, the iron of Michael’s sword. Then healing will come from what you can make of it.” This is the content of the aphorism:
You mold iron to your service,
You reveal iron
According to the value of its substance
In many of your works.
Yet it will bring you healing
Only when it reveals to you
The lofty power of its spirit.
That is, heal oneself with the lofty power of Michael and the sword he has welded together in cosmic space out of meteoric iron. Healing will come when our material civilization proves capable of spiritualizing the power of iron into the power of Michael-iron, which gives man self-consciousness in place of mere nature-consciousness.
Supersensible Man, Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 3, The Hague, November 17, 1923, GA 231
You are, of course, familiar with the phenomenon of the sunspots which appear with a certain regularity – dark spots that are observed on the Sun. These sunspots and their meaning are the cause of much dispute in material science, but a more accurate research would reveal the following. A constant impulse arises from within the Sun to throw out Sun-substance into the Universe through these dark portals. And the Sun-substance thus thrown out appears within our solar system in the form of comets, meteors, and shooting stars. Now it is particularly in our age that the Beings who rule over the Universe from within the Sun are casting forth these comets, meteors, and shooting stars. They did so in earlier times as well, but in our time this activity of theirs has a new significance.
You will remember I said how in earlier times it was the purely spiritual impulses in the starry system that were particularly at work. In our time it is the impulses contained in the iron thrown out from the Sun that have special significance for human beings. These impulses are used by Him whom we know as the Michael Spirit, in the service of the spiritual in the cosmos. In our age there are thus present in the cosmos impulses which were not working with the same strength in earlier periods of civilization. This cosmic iron, in its spiritual nature, makes it possible for the Michael Spirit to mediate between the super-sensible and the material on Earth. We find therefore, on the one side a spirit of warfare abroad in the world man enters, when in our time he reaches to what lies behind outer sense-existence. When a man crosses the threshold with super-sensible sight and instead of directing his gaze to matters which concern him personally turns his attention to great affairs of the universe which underlie our whole civilization, then he sees warfare and battle, spiritual battle. There is strife, there is war and conflict in the spiritual behind the veils of existence. And the iron which, even to the point of physical manifestation, is thrown out by the Sun Spirits into the cosmos – with this iron Michael arms Himself for His task in the cosmic war. For Michael has the task of helping humanity to go forward in the right way in the face of these powers of strife behind the veils of civilization. On the one hand – battle and warfare; on the other hand, the labors and strivings of Michael.
As earthly humans we have iron in our blood. If we were beings with no iron in our blood, the feeling and impulse of freedom would still be able to arise in our souls, but we should not have bodies which could be used for putting this impulse into operation. That we are able not only to conceive the idea of freedom, but also to feel in our body the power to make the body itself into a bearer of the impulse of freedom, is due to the fact that in our age we can learn how Michael takes the cosmic iron, which was cast out also in former times, into His service. We ourselves, if we understand the Michael impulse aright, can learn how to place the iron that we have within us into the service of the impulse of spiritual freedom. Matter, in any case, has meaning for us only when we learn to understand it as an expression of the spiritual in the universe. In this age, what we have to learn is to make the right use of the iron in our blood. For wherever iron is, there too is the impulse for the development of freedom. This is true in the cosmos and true also in humanity. It was out of a deep instinct that the initiates of old ascribed iron to Mars – iron which has a significance for human blood, and therewith also a cosmic significance.
The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars, Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 13, September 20, 1924, GA 354
The comet of which I’ve been speaking is not the only one that was merciful enough to split up and dissolve in cosmic space at the right time. There is a large number of other comets that have done the same. A great deal of superstition has always been connected with the subject of comets. Anthroposophy approaches the matter in an absolutely scientific way.
And what has the comet done? It gives us the meteors, the fine meteor rain. Instead of colliding with the earth and breaking people’s heads it is giving all its substance away, and this substance, every piece of it, is in the earth. Every few years the comet gives something to the earth. And people who want to live by science alone and who will not admit that the earth receives something from the cosmos are every bit as stupid as someone who would say that when a person eats a piece of bread, it is not in him. Obviously, what the comet gives us is in the earth, but science takes no notice of it. Where, then, is it to be found? It goes into the air, is passed from the air into the water, from the water into the roots of the plants, from the roots of the plant into the food on our tables. From there it passes into our bodies. We eat what the comet has been giving us for centuries. This, however, has long been spiritualized. Instead of the comet putting an end to the earth, its substance has long been in the earth as a means of earthly nourishment, and it is a remedy, a cosmic remedy: it alleviates nervous troubles in human beings. The comets appear out there in the heavens, and after a time they find their way into us out of the earth. By that time their substance has become spiritualized.
Other Anthroposophic Authors on Meteorites and Comets
Anthroposophy and Astronomy, by Dr. Elizabeth Vreede, Anthroposophy a Quarterly Review of Spiritual Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, Michaelmas, 1928
We may pursue the same line of study in reference to other cosmic phenomena, the meteors – for they, too, are connected with comets. Comets are spiritual formations sent forth into the Cosmos by the highest, most sublime spirits, but in the course of their activity as purifiers of the astral atmosphere, they gather to themselves various substances, gases, and the like. Now other cosmic formations, generated by the ‘abnormal’ spirits from the realm of the Thrones – Beings who ought really to have become Seraphim and Cherubim but who have remained at the stage of the Thrones – fling themselves in the path of the meteors and work with a prodigious power acquired from their having remained at a lower level. The Thrones are the creators of the mineral group-souls and the retarded Thrones – those who have remained behind – generate solid mineral formations in the cosmos, in the meteors which often accompany the comets or appear in ‘showers’ at more or less regular intervals of time in the atmosphere of the Earth. And so in these formations – withdrawn as they are in a certain sense from the ordinary law obtained in the planetary system – we have the highest spirituality united with the densest materiality.
The very behavior of comets may continually remind us that the processes taking place in the solar system can never be exhaustively explained by the Newtonian theory of gravitation. It is only in the comets and meteors that the ‘incalculable,’ the arbitrary, makes itself manifest. The incommensurable factor in the movements of the other heavenly bodies shows that we must base our observation of their movements on something other than the theory of gravitation which holds good for the Earth.
The stars bear for us the traces of the deeds of the gods which lead through the Beings of the hierarchies to the frontiers of divinity itself. And in this sense, Rudolf Steiner was able to say to his hearers when he had led them from Anthroposophy to astronomy: “When we observe the life of the world of stars, we are beholding the bodies of the gods and, ultimately, of Divinity itself.”
Introductory Essays on Rudolf Steiner’s Star-Knowledge, The Cosmic Feminine, Steiner’s View of Cometary Life, R. S. W. Bobbette, 1998
Comets, as noted by astronomers themselves, are a bewilderingly disparate group of objects. Comets have very long tails, or almost none; they skim the sun within 300,000 miles (where temperatures vaporize metals), or approach no closer than the cold space near earth; return every 3 to10 years, or a few dozen or hundreds or millions of years, or perhaps never. They can have beautiful symmetry or are strangely asymmetrical.
Modern scientists are trying to accommodate comets as variations on a theme – not an easy task despite the fact that everyone knows a comet when they see one. Rudolf Steiner, in the course of his clairvoyant investigations, made regular descriptions of the nature of comets. He was not a theorist, and no “unifying concept” is intended. His observations should be added to those of material science, avoiding modern extrapolations and theories, and of course understanding the spiritual basis of his method. For the purpose of initial surveys of Steiner’s facts, I prefer to simply list pertinent references chronologically.
His first description of comets is of a strictly esoteric character, given on September 2, 1906: “A comet is an assemblage of Kama, desire-substance, without the corresponding spiritual substance. The comet gets as far only as the astral body. The visibility of comets arises from the powerful friction caused by the astral body passing through etheric substance.” (At the Gates of Spiritual Science, 1970, pg. 146)
In the same year, Steiner predicted the occurrence of cyanides associated with comets due to their reflection of a previous stage of solar system evolution. The next reference I have is from March 5, 1910, and includes a reference back to this prediction, which by then had been spectroscopically demonstrated. This followed a comparative description of certain aspects of comets and moon.
“Is there perhaps something in our solar system that brings about, as a kind of mirror-image on earth, the contrast between man and woman? Yes, this higher polarity can be designated as the contrast between the cometary and lunar natures, between comets and the Moon. Just as the contrast of Sun-Earth is reflected in our head and limbs, so in feminine and masculine is reflected the contrast of Comet-Moon.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pg. 57)
Then came the comment on cyanides noted above, pp. 60-61: “We can also express it this way: as what is done by a woman out of passion, out of feeling, is related to the dry, reasonable masculine judgement, so is the regular, reasonable course of the Moon related to the cometary phenomenon that projects apparently irregularly into our existence. Mark well – I do not mean the spiritual life of a woman but the feminine spiritual life. There is a difference. The spiritual life of a woman naturally includes masculine characteristics.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pp. 62-63)
“The comets appear at great intervals of time. Let us ask: when they appear, is their relation to human evolution as a whole such that they stimulate, as it were, the feminine principle in human nature? There is, for example, Halley’s Comet, which now again has a certain actuality. The same could be said of many other comets. Halley’s Comet has a quite definite task, and everything else that it brings with it stands in a particular connection to this task. Halley’s Comet – we are speaking here of its spiritual aspect – has the task of impressing on human nature its own special being in such a way that this human nature and essence take a further step in the development of the I when the comet comes near the earth. It is that step which leads the I out to concepts on the physical plane. To begin with, the comet has its special influence on the two lower members of human nature, on what is masculine and feminine; there it joins company with the workings of the Moon. When the comet is not there, the workings of the Moon are one-sided; the workings change when the comet is present. The comet works upon the physical and etheric or life bodies of humanity in such a way that they actually create organs, delicate organs that are suitable for the further development of the I; the I-consciousness as it has developed especially since the embedding of the Christ impulse in the earth. Since that time, the significance of the comet’s appearance is that the I, as it develops from stage to stage, receives physical and etheric organs it can use.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pp. 64-65)
“Every cometary body thus has a definite task. Human spiritual life takes its course with a certain cosmic regularity, as it were – a bourgeois regularity one could say. In contrast to these events there are things that always bring a step forward, that are naturally distributed over wider spans of time; these events occur under the influence of the comets. The various comets have here their different tasks, and when a comet has served its purpose it splinters. Thus we find that from a certain point of time onward, some comets appear as two and then splinter. They dissolve when they have completed their tasks. Regularity, all that belongs to the common round, is connected with the lunar influence; the entry of an elemental impulse, always incorporating something new, is connected with the influence of the comets.
“As when a new little child is born, so it is when, through the return of a comet, something quite new is produced. We must remember, however, that with certain comets the I is always driven more and more into the physical world, and this is something we must resist. A reappearance of Halley’s Comet should therefore give us warning that it might prove to be an evil guest if we were simply to give ourselves up to it, if we were not to resist its influence.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pp. 66-67)
“On the other hand, is it not wonderful that cometary existence takes hold of the depths of life, including the animal and plant life that is bound up with human life? Those who pay close enough attention to such things would observe how there is actually something altogether different in the blossoming of flowers from what is usually the case.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pg. 68)
Slightly later, on April 18, 1910, Steiner discussed these points again, more briefly and from a slightly different angle: “Just as the movements of the planets circling the Sun correspond to the regular events in the evolution of humanity, so the appearance of a comet corresponds to an influence that runs counter to the regular events. Rosicrucian research has demonstrated that every comet exerts a particular influence on human evolution. The present comet has as its particular influence an intense impulse towards materialism. Every time Halley’s Comet has appeared, a new impulse toward materialism has taken place. Its appearance in 1759 corresponded with the epoch in which Voltaireanism was at its high point. The appearance in 1835 corresponded with the materialism of Moleschott, Buchner, and others. In the same way, in our time, there will be a new impulse toward materialism and the outer sign of this is the appearance of the comet. Those who let themselves be swayed by its influence will fall into the deepest materialism.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pg. 107)
During the next month, on May 10, 1910, the1906 prediction was again referred to: “There is thus a lunar body, the Moon, which has gone too far in its evolution, and such bodies have remained at an earlier stage of evolution, namely, the comets. A comet brings with it the laws of the earlier “Moon” incarnation of the Earth and therefore renews these ancient laws. It also brings with it the cyanide compounds, as has recently been established by outer science and has been known for a long time to occult science. Just as oxygen and carbon compounds are necessary to us on earth, so the cyanides were essential on the “Moon” incarnation of the Earth.” (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric, 1983, pg. 113)
From April 3-14, 1912, Dr. Steiner gave extensive descriptions of the solar system, which included these somewhat dramatic points about comets: “From man himself stream forth continually, erroneous, base, evil thoughts; these are, as we know, realities, which pass out into the astral world and continue to exist there; so that the astral sphere of a planet is filled, not only by the normal substances of its psychic being, but also by this out-poured substance. In a curious way, the occult vision, which for a time has had the opportunity of observing cometary life, shows us that everything of a cometary or meteoric nature is ever striving to collect around itself all the harmful astral products, and remove them out of the planetary system.
“Occult vision shows us, that, however, as a matter of fact, just about when the comet disappears from physical sight, it dissolves, and continues its way through a world not limited to the ordinary three dimensions of space; it no longer exists in the ordinary world. It actually disappears on the one side and appears again on the other. Thus, in short, with the exception of a few comets which really have long-drawn elliptical orbits, the comets for the most part are so formed that they come in at the one side and disappear at the other, and when they reappear they have formed themselves anew. Why? Because as a comet approaches, it exercises a power of attraction – it is, at first, merely a sort of spiritual force center; this center attracts all the harmful astral streams, develops them around itself and thus takes on form. In its journey towards the other side it draws this along with it, until it gets beyond the region of the planetary system, when it casts it off into cosmic space. Then the center of force builds itself again at the other pole without needing three-dimensional space, once more takes up the harmful matter and throws it out the other side.
“The sphere of the comets extends to the sphere of the Cherubim. We must therefore first know what is the nature of the Cherubim and Seraphim in order to understand the substance and movement of the comets.” (The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and the Kingdoms of Nature, 1951, pp. 121-130)
On January 4, 1921, Steiner began a series of comments on comets as part of a fairly extensive review of astronomy: “Upon these two thought-pictures, – that the orbital planes of the planets lie in the proximity of the plane of the Sun’s equator and that the orbits are eccentric ellipses, – Kant, Laplace, and their successors built up the nebular hypothesis. Follow what emerges from this. At a pinch, and indeed only at a pinch, it is a way of imagining the origin of the solar system. But the astronomical system thus constructed contains no satisfactory explanation of the part played by the cometary bodies. They always fall out of the theory. This discordance of the comets with the theories which were formed, as described, in the course of scientific history, proves that the cometary life somehow rebels against a concept formed, not from the whole but from a part of the whole. We must be clear too, that the paths of the comets frequently coincide with those of other bodies which also play into our system and present a riddle precisely through their association with the comets. These are the meteoric swarms, whose paths very frequently – perhaps even always – coincide with the cometary paths. Here, my dear friends, taking into account the totality of our system, we are led to say: A sum of ideas has gradually been formed from the study of our planetary system as a whole, – ideas with which we cannot do justice to the seemingly irregular and almost arbitrary paths of the comets and meteoric swarms. They simply refuse to be included in the more abstract pictures that have been reached.” (The Relation of the Diverse Branches of Natural Science to Astronomy, pp. IV. 7-8)
And the on January 8 he says: “So for the comets: by spectroscopic investigation and by comparison with the corresponding results for the planets, the idea arose that the phenomena might be explained electromagnetically. Such ideas will at most lead to analogies, which may no doubt have some connection with reality, but which will certainly not satisfy us if we are looking into it more deeply.
“Yet as I said, leaving this aside, there was one thing which emerged quite inevitably when the phenomena of comets were studied in more detail. While for the rest of the planetary system they always speak of gravitational forces, the peculiar position of the comet’s tail in relation to the Sun inevitably drove the scientists to speak of forces of repulsion from the Sun – forces, as it were of recoil. The terminology is not the main point; it will of course vary with the prevailing fashion. The point is that science was here obliged to look for something in addition to – and indeed opposite to – gravity. In effect, with the comets something different enters our planetary system, – something which in its nature is in a way opposite to the inner structure of the planetary system as such.
“ . . . Yet in the early 19th century they had statistics purporting to connect them (comets) with good and bad vintage years. These too occur somewhat irregularly; their sequence does not seem to follow regular laws of nature. And even Hegel did not quite escape this conclusion. He thought it plausible that the appearance or non-appearance of comets should have to do with the good and bad vintage years.
“ . . . Kepler said: In the great Universe – even the Universe into which we look by night – there are as many comets as there are fishes in the ocean. We only see very, very few among them, while all the rest remain invisible either because they are too small or for some other reason. Even external research has tended to confirm Kepler’s saying. The comets seen were recorded in olden time and it is possible to compare the number. Since the invention of the telescope ever so many have been seen than before. Also, when looking out into the starry sky under different conditions of illumination – that is to say making provision for extreme darkness – a larger number of comets are recorded than otherwise. Even empirical research therefore comes near to what Kepler exclaimed, inspired as he was by a deep feeling for Nature.
“Now if one speaks at all of a connection between the Cosmos and what happens on the Earth, it surely is not right to dwell one-sidedly on the relation to our Earth of the other planets of our system and to omit heavenly bodies which come and go as the comets do. It is especially one-sided since we must now admit that the comets give rise to phenomena indicating the presence of quite other forces – forces opposite in kind to those which we usually attribute the cohesion of our planetary system. The comets do in fact bear something opposite into our system and if we follow it up we must admit that this too is of great significance. Something in some way opposite in nature to the force which holds it together comes with the comets into our planetary system.
“Now that we have ascertained all this about the cometary bodies, let me compare the relation between our planetary system and the comets to what is there in the ovum of the female germ-cell, in its relation to the male element, the fertilizing sperm. Try to imagine, try to visualize the two processes, as you might actually see them. There is the planetary system; it receives something new into itself, namely the effects of a comet. There is the ovum, it receives into itself the fertilizing effect of the male cell, the spermatic zoid.
“Looking at the two phenomena side by side without prejudice, as you might do in ordinary life when you see two things, obviously comparable, side by side. Do you not find plenty of comparable features when you contemplate these two? I do not mean to set up any theory or hypothesis. I only want to indicate what you will see for yourselves if you once look at these things in their true connection.” (The Relationship of the Diverse Branches of Natural Science to Astronomy, pp. VIII, 114-19)
At the end of these particular lectures, January 18, 1921, a rather exceptional perspective on comets was given: “Truth is that in studying cometary phenomena we get into difficulties if we conceive the cometary body too in the same way we are wont to think of a planetary body. The planetary body – the planetary body you may represent as though it were a self-contained body moving through space. You will not go much against the facts in so conceiving it. Not so a cometary body. Again and again you will find yourself in contradiction to the phenomena if you conceive it after the same pattern as the planetary body. You will never understand the cometary body, in the way it moves – or seems to move – through cosmic space, if you regard it as you are accustomed to regard the planetary bodies.
“See what becomes of it on the other hand if you regard it as I shall now describe. Take all the empirical facts that are available and try to thread them on this line of thought. Imagine that in this direction – towards the Sun, as we may say – the comet comes into being at every moment. It is forever coming into existence in this direction. It pushes forward its cometary nucleus, or what appears as such. Behind, it melts away again. In this way it thrusts forward – forever coming into being on the one hand, passing away again on the other. It is not a body in the same sense that a planet is, – not at all. It is perpetually coming into being and passing away again – renewed in front, accruing all the time in this direction; losing the old in its tail. It pushes forward like a mere effulgence, a mere phenomenon of light; but please, I do not say that that is all it is.
“And now remember what we were saying a few days ago. There is not merely the Moon up there and the Earth here, but every planet has a certain sphere, and what we see is only a point at the periphery of the said sphere. The true Moon is the sphere, bounded by the lunar orbit. We, with the Earth, are in the lunar sphere. So also, in a certain sense, are we in the Solar Sphere and in the spheres of all the planets. The planets are not merely what is out there, moving in lemniscates, – what is at yonder point or yonder at any given moment. The visible point is only a specialized part of the whole; it is, as I was saying, like the area of germination in the germinal vesicle of the human embryo.
“If you remember this, then you will say to yourselves: Here now I have the Earth and Sun. In fact, two spheres are interpenetrating, thrusting into each other, – spheres which are really due to materialities of opposite tendency and kind. The one comes from the center of the Sun, towards which negative matter is tending; the other from the center of the Earth, from which positive matter is raying out. Positive and negative materialities are interpenetrating here. Naturally, the interpenetration will not everywhere be homogeneous. Not even clouds that move through one another would interpenetrate homogeneously. It is essentially inhomogeneous. Imagine how, in this mutual penetration, the different densities will impinge on one another. Then, in the penetration of the one substantiality by the other, you have the requisite conditions for such phenomena as comets to arise. Comets are ever-nascent phenomena, perpetually coming into being, passing away again; and if we draw our ideal picture of a planetary system, we have not to imagine that the comet is arriving there from some great distance and then making its departure. Out there – outside the system – we need not to imagine it to exist at all. It is not there to begin with, but becomes; then, at the perihelion, changes the gesture of its form, which is in fact ever-becoming, ever-nascent. Out there at last it melts away again and is no more. The comet comes into being and passes away; that is its very nature. Hence it can sometimes have apparent paths that are not closed at all – parabolic paths or hyperbolic, – for there is nothing moving round such as would have to move in a closed path. All that there is comes into being, and may well do so in a parabolic direction and then vanish and be no more.
“Altogether, we must look upon the comet as a fleeting thing. In relation to Sun and Earth, it is a phenomena of compensation between ponderable and imponderable matter, – a meeting of the two kinds of matter, which do not immediately balance-out as when light extends in air. For in the latter instance too, there is a meeting of the ponderable and the imponderable; here however they spread continuously, homogeneously as it were, – do not impinge on one another. Take for example air, with light of a certain intensity passing through it. The light spreads homogeneously; but if it so be that the light does not adapt itself to the air quickly enough, a kind of inner friction will ensue between the ponderable and imponderable matter; only I beg you not to understand this in a mechanical sense but as an inward process. Follow the comet and its movement. It is a mutual friction of ponderable and imponderable matter that moves through space. It comes into being at every moment and passes away again.” (The Relation of the Diverse Branches of Natural Science to Astronomy, pp. XVIII, 9-12)
Recall that I had to introduce this essay with the fact that even modern astronomers consider comets to be bewilderingly disparate, and now consider what Steiner felt compelled to say about them in September 1922: “Julius Robert Mayer, however, asked this question. He found that every year a certain number of celestial bodies that are like comets fly into the sun. You see, those are the food the sun takes in. Even to this day, when we look up to the sun, we can see that the sun has a healthy appetite; it consumes a large number of comets every year. Just as we eat and thus develop energy, so the Sun eats comets, so to speak, and thus develops warmth.
“Now, gentlemen, when comets have shattered and fallen down, we find their hard iron cores. But these are only the parts of the comet that fall down. We human beings also have iron in our blood. Since comets disintegrate into meteorites, which consist of iron, people say that the comets themselves are made of iron. But this is the same nonsense as believing that the human beings consist of iron because they have iron in their blood and a small lump of iron would be all that’s left after they disintegrate.
“So, we find meteorites; they are the remains of shattered comets. But the comets themselves are something quite different; they are alive. The sun, too, is alive, has a stomach, and not only consumes comets, but eats exactly like we do.” (The Human Being in Body, Soul and Spirit, 1989, pp. 172-173)
On July 7, 1924, Steiner repeated his point of the evolutionary ‘youth’ of the comets requiring that they have prussic acid, as the Earth did at an earlier stage (“Old Moon”). (The Evolution of the Earth and Man, 1987, pp. 45-46).
Later, on September 13, he repeated the relationship of comets to the quality of vintage, in company with sunspots. (The Evolution of the Earth and Man, 1987, pp. 171-173)
Although it is not exactly a description of comets, during the 1921 lectures, while discussing the nature of orbits in a mathematical sense, Dr. Steiner showed the mathematical basis for understanding his provocative observation that comets ‘leave space’ and reappear again at the other side. After showing the progressive transformations of the mathematical equation called the Curve of Cassini, Steiner sums up with: “So you see, mathematics itself provides us with facts which oblige us to go out of space if we would preserve the continuity of the idea. The reality itself demands of us that in our ideas we go out of space. Even in mathematics therefore we are confronted with something which shows us that in some way we must leave space behind if the pure idea is to follow its right path. Having ourselves set going the idea in the beginning to think the process through, we must go on thinking in such a way that space is no longer of any help to us. If this were not so, we should not be able to calculate all possibilities of the equation.” (The Relation of the Diverse Branches of Natural Science to Astronomy, January 9, pp. IX 6-7)
The Healing Gift of Iron, Avatar Bertram von Zabern MD
The red pigment of the blood, hemoglobin, contains iron, the chemical properties of which are at work in the functions of respiration, the absorption of oxygen in the lungs, and its transport to all body tissues. An iron deficiency could cause not only fatigue and physical weakness, but in general, it could be responsible for a person’s constant lack of resistance to infections. Interestingly, a decrease of iron in the blood may be itself caused by infections, thus leading to a vicious cycle of poor health.
Since the arrival of AIDS, the lack of resistance to infections is the greatest challenge of modern medicine. Immunology, like other conventional sciences, has become a research field of details resulting in ever more immunizations rather than addressing health in a holistic way. Within the scope of this article, I will refer to basic observations, which link the outer appearance of human nature, illness, and remedial substance to their inner origins. Such views have been renewed for modern thinking by Rudolf Steiner, the inaugurator of Anthroposophy, although we find this wisdom described throughout history.
Iron is the most prevalent of the heavy metals in the human body as well as in our planet as far as earth has been explored. According to W. Pelikan, a well-known anthroposophical researcher, the distribution of mineral iron stretches from North America, England, France, Germany, into Russia and even North China as a vast belt around much of the northern temperate earth latitude. Characteristically, it occurs next to a similar belt of coal formation, an indication that in the early stages of earthly evolution iron, like coal, was part of organic life. A special form of iron is found on all continents: meteorites fall from the skies to the earth every year. This meteoric iron is a cosmic pure metal with a crystalline pattern not seen in earthly iron.
Civilization has been called the “Iron Age” since humans learned to use this metal for purposes of technology. As iron is one of the main ingredients of nature and human life, we are not surprised to find, through many epochs of history, that cultures have described their central spiritual values in connection with this metal. Never have these values been more deeply expressed than through the personality of the apostle Paul, who is always depicted with his sword. The sharp iron blade points to Paul’s own transformation from a cruel, merciless persecutor to become the “instrument of the Lord Christ.” Paul himself used, at the end of his epistle to the Ephesians, the picture of the armor of God to fight the hierarchic powers of evil. “The spiritual sword is the Word of God.” Another sword-bearing figure in Christian depictions is the archangel Michael, about whom we read in the Apocalypse that he defeated the satanic dragon. But Christian art shows Michael also holding a scale. There, the blade of his sword is transformed into the “tongue” of the scale, pointing out the difference between good and evil.
Are these considerations relevant to understand the immune system? Whichever way the different white blood cells and other elements of the “body defenses” work, the emotional and spiritual condition of the patient makes a vital difference. A strong sense of determination not to become ill, an attitude of guardedness against infection, are effective helpers to prevent communicable illness. Our immune system is even capable of fighting cancer with amazing results, especially in patients who do not give up.
Observations of this kind remind us of the inner strengths of iron: courage and will power to fight. At the same time, they raise questions about the purpose of the immune system. Is it there to fight infections or cancer, to kill bacteria, viruses, or malignant cells – in terms of bacteriology, that would define the immune system. But it does not define health, because it does not include the personal experience of going through an illness to regain new health. When we are “run down,” “under stress,” or sleeping or eating poorly, not only our resistance to various illnesses is compromised, but we become victims of our own poor life-style. As disruptive as an illness can be for the job we are trying to fulfill, it helps us to take a break from an exaggerated work commitment and to gain a better perspective on life. Recovery then can bring a new resolution, a new sense of inner balance and joy.
Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, had insight into the true process of healing that always included the mind as well as the body. He saw a deep spiritual connection between an illness and a remedy. The inner dynamic of a substance does not become active in its crude material form. To become a remedy, a substance has to be rhythmically diluted. Hahnemann taught in his book Organon that in the homeopathic process, the inner force of a natural substance, is set free so it can truly heal. The understanding of the spiritual side of healing has been more common in the earlier days of medicine. The Finnish epic Kalevala describes the power of iron to injure and kill; but the hero Wainamoinen knows the mythic origin of the iron, from where the spiritual power comes to stop the bleeding.
The cosmic side of iron is traditionally connected with Mars, the god of warfare, and his red planet. Paracelsus wrote that iron is a universal force present in the planet Mars, in the metal, in the function of the gall bladder and the bile, and in plants permeated by the force of iron, such as the stinging nettle.
As a medication to boost the body defenses in flu and similar viral infections, we use iron phosphate in its homeopathic form. The phosphorus component addresses the inflammatory nature of these illnesses. Underlying dispositions like fatigue, poor resistance, anxiety, we treat by homeopathically using meteoric iron. Supplementation of material iron has little to do with these medications, even though there are conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, where we have to supplement nutritional iron.
Typical “iron plants,” in the sense in which Paracelsus described the stinging nettle, bear the signature of iron regardless of their material iron content. One of these plants is Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, a potent flu-fighting remedy. It is a heritage of native American medicine, as it only grows wild in America. We prescribe it as the Weleda flu preparation Infludo, which contains Boneset as a main ingredient, and in combination with it Ferrum phosphoricum 6X. You may find Boneset in your back yard or alongside a country road. Its leaves are serrated, lanceolated and sharply pointed. Their flavor is of a penetrating bitterness that truly wakes us up. It is a healthy bitter taste that activates bile excretion. We can see here already a glimpse of how Boneset works its magic; there is a cleansing, “clarifying” effect to that bitterness and its bile activation, which identifies it as part of the iron force described above. The name Boneset indicates that it helps with fevers generating violent bone aches. “Perfoliatum” means “through the leaf” – opposite leaves are uniquely grown together at their base, so that the stem pierces the double leaf. This martial appearance is accentuated in the young plant by the small top pair of leaves pointing upwards like the tip of a spear.
There are other plants carrying the force of iron: Echinacea, Celandine (Chelidonium), Prunus spinosa (a wild-growing bush of the plum family), and certainly the oak tree, just to name a few. If we would consider them only to be fighters against infection or other illness, they would be misunderstood. They are fighting to bring about balance in our lives. Their message is: “Find yourself in your inner equilibrium, then you will understand us, and you will be healed.”
Rudolf Steiner’s Homeopathic Medicine, Ferrum Sidereum
The use of Meteoric iron, Ferrum sidereum, in potentized form is a discovery of Anthroposophical medicine. As the name implies, the substance originates in the cosmos and is constituted of an alloy of iron, nickel, and small amounts of cobalt, graphite and phosphorous. According to Rudolf Steiner, meteors are being sent from the Sun to the Earth and they correspond in their healing characteristic to both the physical and the spiritual healing forces of the iron in the red blood cells of the human body. In the biosphere around the earth, they appear as a striking light streak. Polished surfaces of meteors are recognized by crisscrossing straight lined so-called Thornton structures.
Ginger Root and Meteorite Dust: The Steiner ‘Covid Cures’ Offered in Germany, from: The Observer, Philip Oltermann, Berlin, January 10, 2021
In a pandemic where global leaders have peddled quack treatments and miracle cures, Germany has often stood out as a shining beacon for science. It is the country that developed the first diagnostic test to detect the coronavirus, and the first vaccine approved in the west to shield people against the disease. It is a country whose physicist chancellor told parliament she passionately believes “there are scientific findings that are real and should be followed.”
But Germany is also a country where some people who fall severely ill with Covid-19 can find themselves taken to hospitals where they are treated with ginger-soaked chest compresses and homeopathic pellets containing highly diluted particles of iron harvested from “shooting stars” that have landed on earth.
Followers of the “spiritual scientist” and self-proclaimed clairvoyant Rudolf Steiner advocate such therapies to fight the coronavirus because of a supposed “anxiety-relieving effect on the soul and the body” and ability to “strengthen the inner relationship to light.”
In Germany, some of these therapies have been given to critically ill patients throughout the pandemic at Steiner hospitals such as Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Havelhöhe, one of a network of 16 clinics in Berlin offering intensive care to Covid-19 patients under the oversight of the prestigious Charité University Hospital. The country’s public health insurance companies, which are part-financed by German taxpayers, have duly picked up the tab via flat-rate payments for hospital treatment of coronavirus patients. However, public acceptance of the movement and its philosophies is facing renewed scrutiny after a year in which Germans have seen followers of the Steiner philosophy march alongside anti-vaxxers and the far right in protest at the government’s measures against coronavirus.
Best known outside Germany for their Waldorf schools, Steinerism started out as a multi-disciplinary spiritual philosophy in the late 19th century. Born in 1861 as a citizen of the Austrian empire, Steiner had access to higher spiritual planes that gave him insights into reincarnation, links between cosmic bodies and plant growth, and evolutionary history. By the time of his death in 1925, Steiner had applied his philosophy to a wide array of subjects, including education, architecture, agriculture, dance, and medicine.
In the 21st century, Anthroposophy remains a small movement, albeit one that enjoys a high level of social acceptance and institutional support in German-speaking countries. In Germany, there are more than 200 Waldorf schools, more than 500 nurseries and 263 institutions for people with mental disabilities that follow Steiner’s philosophy. The country’s highest grossing drugstore chain, Dm-Drogerie Markt, and second-largest chain of organic supermarkets, Alnatura, are both run by Anthroposophists, and cosmetic products made by Steiner-devoted brands like Weleda and Dr. Hauschka are not only for sale in German pharmacies but are also enjoying a global boom. While the number of employees working at these institutions and businesses who take Steiner’s philosophy at face value is likely to be low, the movement has carved out a steady presence in German public life.
Anthroposophy has made considerable inroads into a public-private healthcare system that puts stress on consumer choice. There are no fewer than ten Steiner hospitals in Germany, and Anthroposophic medicine is tolerated by German law as a “special therapeutic form”, meaning remedies are approved for use. As recently as 2019, the conservative health minister Jens Spahn chose not to remove homeopathic remedies prescribed by Steiner clinics from the list of treatments covered by public health insurers.
Treatments include moist chest compresses with powdered ginger root, mustard flour or yarrow tea, as well as “potentized phosphorus and correspondingly potentized meteoritic iron” in the form of homeopathic pills. Wala, a manufacturer based in Germany, told the Observer its pills, which have also been widely prescribed as a preventative for Covid-19 at Steiner care homes for disabled people, contain ground-down remnants of meteorites that haven’t fully burnt up after entering the earth’s atmosphere. The author of the article advocating the remedies, Georg Soldner, a Munich pediatrician, said field reports on the effect of meteoric iron had been published in the Vadecum of Anthroposophic Medicines, a handbook that is also published by the Dornach center.
German Steiner hospitals have been transparent about their use of alternative therapies in the fight against the pandemic. In an October 2020 interview with the Anthroposophic magazine Erziehungskunst, Havelhöhe’s clinical director, Harald Matthes, claimed that his hospital’s approach had been so successful that no patients with Covid-19 had died on its ward so far.
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