Let’s briefly recap before going further:
The first sacrifice of Archangel Jesus was the offering of his Ego in order to organize and bring to manifestation the physical body of the human being at the end of Ancient Lemuria. The offering of his Archangelic Ego planted the seed for the eventual unfolding of the purely human “I”, the earthly personality, at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. The cultivation of this developing Ego was performed primarily by the Ancient Hebrew culture through the Hebrew religious rites, beginning with Abel’s sacrifice of a Lamb to Yahweh, all the way through to the time of Jesus Christ.
However, at the beginning of the Age of Atlantis, Archangel Jesus also sacrificed his astral body in order to facilitate the coming-to-birth of the human being’s etheric body. While the full manifestation of the human being’s etheric body was the immediate gift of this sacrifice, it also planted the seed for the eventual and similar full development of the astral body, at the end of the Atlantean era. In between, certain ancient rituals—ceremonial magical rites—were enacted in order to cultivate this developing astral body. These occurred alongside of the ongoing Hebrew rituals meant to develop the Ego. At the culmination of Atlantis, with the birth of the astral body in the human being, these rituals were no longer necessary. Any remnant of them was decadent and potentially harmful, but ineffective at best. On the other hand, the Ancient Hebrew rite carried on, and continued to take on a more and more codified form.
We can put before our mind’s eye a larger cycle of development, extending from the first sacrifice at the end of Lemuria through the fourth sacrifice at the Mystery of Golgotha, consisting of the ancient Hebrew religion. Embedded within this cycle is a smaller one, which only unfold between the second and third sacrifices of Jesus and Christ during the Atlantean Age:
As the post-Atlantean Age unfolded, the Zodiacal Ages of Cancer, Gemini, and Taurus recapitulated the time period laid out above, from the end of Lemuria to the end of Atlantis. It was the Age of Aries that properly brought something—or Someone—new to birth, and finally saw the concrete codification of the Hebrew rituals through the patriarchs and Moses. When I say “birth,” the reader may very well ask: what exactly—or Who exactly—was it that was born at the beginning of the Age of Aries, around 1945 BC?
In a lecture from January 10, 1915, Rudolf Steiner paints a vivid picture of a being named Philosophia—see https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19150110p01.html. He characterizes her unfolding biography as the remnant or expression of the Ancient Sun evolution in our current Earthly world. Whereas the normal human being’s biography unfolds over a series of ten seven-year cycles, her biography, according to Steiner, unfolds in a series of approximately seven hundred-year cycles.
For the human being, these seven-year cycles are as follows:
0-7 = birth of physical body, development of etheric body. Related to the Moon Sphere.
7-14 = birth of the etheric body, development of the astral body. Related to the Mercury Sphere.
14-21 = birth of the astral body, development of the sentient soul. Related to the Venus Sphere.
21-28 = birth of the sentient soul, development of the intellectual soul. Related to the Sun Sphere.
28-35 = birth of the intellectual soul, development of the consciousness soul. Related to the Sun Sphere.
35-42 = birth of the consciousness soul, development of Manas or Spirit-Self. Related to the Sun Sphere.
42-49 = birth of Manas, development of Life-Spirit or Buddhi. Related to the Mars Sphere.
49-56 = birth of Buddhi, development of Atman. Related to the Jupiter Sphere.
56-63 = birth of Atman, development of the “Zodiacal Man,” the karma-free human being. Related to the Saturn Sphere.
63-70 = birth of the Zodiacal Man. Related to the Zodiac. (see Hermetic Astrology vol II by Robert Powell for more information)
In this fascinating and complicated lecture, Rudolf Steiner describes the evolution of this being Philosophia in terms related to the above unfolding of human biography. He points to the historical evolution of human consciousness as an indication of the evolution of this being. Oddly enough, he begins his description of the biography of this being at her third life cycle—that of the astral body, related to the Venus sphere. He makes only very vague remarks regarding the first two life cycles. (We will return to this later).
The third life cycle (14-21) of this being begins around the time of the pre-Socratic philosophers. These pre-Socratic philosophers represented the bridge from the old elemental picture consciousness that understood the cosmos via myth, and the newly arising consciousness that revealed itself to the human soul in the form of thought. This new capacity of the thinking soul only fully revealed itself in Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. For these three most representative Greek philosophers, the activity of human thinking did not proceed as though thoughts were created by the Ego, as it does for modern man. These thinkers perceived thoughts as being given to them as any other perception, out of the nature of the very phenomena to which they gave their attention. The divide between soul and world became clear; this divide was bridged through thoughts which were given to the human soul, like words whispered in one’s ear.
Steiner indicates that this third cycle lasted from around the 6th century BC up to the early days of the Church. He indicates that while the development of a world conception based on thought was coming from Ancient Greece, something else was arising in human evolution in connection with the Hebrew people. Their entire mission was tied up with the birth of the individual human Ego, the “I.” This was born towards the end of this period, in 33 AD, at the Mystery of Golgotha.
The next approximately 700-year life cycle in the biography of Philosophia begins during the days of the early Church Fathers and extends through the late 9th century AD—Steiner explicitly refers to John Scotus Eriugena as representing the end of this cycle. This time period was typified by a processing of the world conceptions that had been born in Ancient Greece—in particular Platonism—but at the same time recognizing the limitation of human thinking. It began to be recognized that human thinking does not encapsulate the entirety of the soul’s experience of the world. The thought conceptions of Plato were put to use in order to understand and bring to full consciousness (gnosis) the primal, mystical religious experience of the soul, and the content of religious traditions (primarily Judaism and Christianity).
This was followed by a crucial time period—the approximately 700-year time period of the development of the intellectual soul, the heart of which contains the Christ years of the human being’s biographical unfolding (ages 30-33). It was during the heart of this time period, from the 9th century through the 16th/17th century, that the philosophical/religious movement of Scholasticism began to unfold. Just as the prior time period was a revisiting of Platonism through the burgeoning forces of the Ego bestowed upon the human being through the Mystery of Golgotha, the Scholastic period saw a revisiting and revival of Aristotelianism. Through Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle was Christianized. It was at this point in human history that, for the first time on a completely conscious level, thought was experienced as being produced by the human soul, rather than as a perception coming towards it from without. The task of Scholasticism was to form a truce between the thinking produced out of the Reason of the human soul with the content of religious experience and tradition (dogma). Religious experience was a matter of grace, of a gift from another world that could only be perceived through the capacity of Faith. It was fundamentally based on a trans-subjective experience, and therefore could not become universal. On the other hand the activity of Reason, of the thinking soul, was the effort of the human being to bring this religious content into a conceptual structure and justification that had a universal, objective value.
This time period ended around the 16th/17th centuries, with the Copernican and Cartesian revolutions. The human self began to be felt very strongly as an independent, thought-creating entity. Scientists and philosophers began to feel ever more acutely the lack of the Ego’s self-justification, a deeper and deeper confusion in regards to the fundamental accuracy of human thinking and sense observation, and a loss of the sense of the human personality’s place in the cosmos. World conceptions based on natural science and observation seemed to have no room left for the human soul. More and more the Ego had to struggle to find its place in the world conceptions that were being forced upon the human being due to the rise of materialism. It is in the midst of this struggle that we currently stand.
This year I have had the great opportunity to teach a course of Philosophical Perspectives in the Camphill Academy. I used this lecture as my point of departure, in conjunction with the book Riddles of Philosophy (see here: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA018/English/AP1973/GA018_index.html). As we’ve worked with this material over the past three months, it has helped me to strike upon what I believe is the exact timing of the unfolding of this being Philosophia.
The first three life cycles of Philosophia take place over the course of the Age of Aries (1945 BC – 215 AD), each one lasting 720 years—this is why Steiner said the life cycles of Philosophia were approximately seven hundred years in length:
Physical body/Moon Sphere: 1945 BC – 1225 BC
Etheric body/Mercury Sphere: 1225 BC – 505 BC
Astral body/Venus Sphere: 505 BC – 215 AD
The life of Christ in this schema would fall right around what would be the equivalent of age 19. We might imagine the Mystery of Golgotha as related to the extremely potent time period in a human being’s biography between the first return of the Moon’s Node (18.61 years old) and the end of the first metonic cycle (19 years old). A window opens for the human being at this time, when one in a way “renews one’s vows” in relation to decisions made prior to incarnating.
The next three life cycles take place over the course of the Age of Pisces (215 AD – 2375 AD), and the final three will take place over the course of the Age of Aquarius (2375 AD – 4535 AD). We will look more closely at these time periods in the next sections. We will also turn our gaze to the mystery of the first two life cycles of the being Philosophia, which took place between 1945 BC – 505 BC. Did Steiner give any indications as to the nature of these two life cycles? Why did the birth of Philosophia coincide with this time period—the start of the Age of Aries? And what developed during that time period that had directly to do with the Mystery of Golgotha, the fourth Sacrifice of Jesus and Christ?