THE VISION OF EUROPE
By Robert Powell
The Whitsun event depicts in archetypal form the founding of the third kingdom, that of the Holy Spirit. Just as the first kingdom, that of the Father, became spiritually founded through a human individuality, Moses, and just as the second kingdom, that of the Son, became founded through a human individual, the apostle Peter, so the third kingdom, that of the Holy Spirit, has as its founding impulse the mediation of the Holy Spirit via Mary-Sophia. In this sense Mary is the human individuality who holds the key to the New Age, the age of the Holy Spirit.
Many spiritual seekers in England and America believe that the New Age is the age of Aquarius, and that this has already started. According to this idea, the age of Pisces is over and the age of Aquarius has-begun. How are these zodiacal ages defined?
The sequence of zodiacal ages are defined by the astronomical phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes. The start of the solar year is signified by the vernal equinox (spring equinox) taking place around March 21 each year. The Sun's location in the zodiac at the time of the vernal equinox defines the vernal point. Observation shows that during the course of time the vernal point regresses slowly through the zodiac, passing from one sign of the zodiac to the next in 2160 years. This gives rise to zodiacal ages, each 2160 years long, defined by the location of the vernal point in the zodiac, specified by the zodiacal sign in which the vernal point is located.
The present location of the vernal point during the 1980's is at 5 degrees Pisces (5 1/2 degrees in the sign of Pisces in the sidereal zodiac), as shown in the figure overleaf.
The circle of zodiacal constellations was divided by the Babylonians into twelve 30-degree signs.~ This division, known as the sidereal zodiac, is shown in the Figure, together with the dates of the Sun's entrance into each of twelve signs during the course of the year. The Sun enters a new sign of the zodiac around the middle of each month. For example, around the middle of March the Sun enters the zodiacal sign of Pisces. It then travels 5 1/2 degrees in Pisces, to reach the vernal point on (or around) March 21. This means that we are at present in the zodiacal age of Pisces.
V.P. = vernal point = location of the Sun on (or around) March 21.
S.P. = summer solstice point = location of the Sun on (or around) June 22.
A.P. = autumnal point = location of the Sun on (or around) June 23.
W. P. = winter solstice point = location of the Sun on (or around) December 22.
The present age of Pisces will last as long as the vernal point is located in Pisces. The vernal point is shifting slowly backwards through Pisces and has 5 1/2 degrees to travel until it enters the sign of Aquarius. Then the age of Aquarius will begin. The start of the age of Aquarius can be calculated exactly from the motion of the vernal point, which regresses through one degree of the zodiac in 72 years. The rate of motion of the vernal point fluctuates slightly in the course of time-at present it is closer to one degree in 71 1/2 years-but taken over the entire cycle of precession it averages out at one degree in 72 years. Therefore it regresses through a zodiacal sign of 30 degrees in 2160 years (30 x 72 = 2160), taking the average rate of precession. To travel through 5 1/2 degrees, through the remainder of the sign of Pisces into the sign of Aquarius, it will take approximately 396 years (5 1/2 x 72 = 396). Thus, in less than four hundred years time the age of Aquarius will start. The exact date of the start of the age of Aquarius is AD 2375.: On this date the vernal point will leave the sign of Pisces and enter the sign of Aquarius.
According to the hermetic conception "as above, so below ", all heavenly phenomena have their correspondences on Earth below. That is, running parallel to the sequence of zodiacal ages yielded by the precession of the equinoxes there is-correspondingly, here on Earth below-a historical development through cultural ages. The cultural ages run parallel to, but are not identical with, the zodiacal ages. There is a time-lag between the start of a zodiacal age and the start of the corresponding cultural age. It is a matter of a transformation of consciousness which begins when the vernal point enters a new sign of the zodiac, but which takes time to take effect. There is a time-lag between the beginning of the transformation of consciousness and when this starts to manifest as a cultural phenomenon. In this way the precession of the equinoxes gives rise to different cultures on Earth.
At present we are in the Piscean culture, which has its geographical location in Europe. This culture arose in Europe around the time of the Renaissance. The hallmark of modern European culture is science: science and technology, capitalism and industrialism. What arose in Europe around the time of the Renaissance has since spread to the rest of the world. But nevertheless the geographical center of Piscean culture is located in Europe.
Similarly, the geographical centers of the cultural age of Aries were located in Greece and Rome. The development of the Aries culture was marked by the foundation of Rome in the middle of the eighth century B.C. This culture was the offspring, on Earth, of the passage of the vernal point through the zodiacal sign of Aries, during the zodiacal age of Aries.
The culture preceding that of Greece and Rome was located geographically in Egypt and Babylon. This earlier culture, that of Taurus, was the offspring of the zodiacal age of Taurus.
The precession of the equinoxes-through Taurus, Aries, and Pisceshas given rise to an evolution of consciousness and, correspondingly, to the birth of various cultures: that of Egypt and Babylon; that of Greece and Rome; and that of Europe. In the same way cultures will arise in the future. There will be a culture arising in the Aquarian age, which will have its geographical center of location in Russia and which will encompass the Slavonic countries. And the culture which will arise from the following age, the age of Capricorn, will have its center in the United States of America. These cultures which will blossom in the future are already prefigured in seed form in the present-day cultures of Russia and America.
This helps to explain something of the present world situation. The tension between Russia and America on the one hand, and between Europe and Russia on the other hand, is a sign of the evolutionary sequence: Pisces (Europe), Aquarius (Russia), Capricorn (America). Europe feels threatened by Russia, where the next culture will develop. And Russia has its misgivings about America, where the following culture will come to full blossom. It was the same with the Roman empire (Aries culture), which feared invasion from the north, from Europe, where the Piscean culture was later to arise to succeed the culture of Greece and Rome. Present-day Russia bears within it in seed form the cultural impulse of the Aquarian age. Similarly, modern American culture contains the seed cultural impulse of the age of Capricorn. From reading the star- in this case, following the regression of the vernal point through the zodiacal signs-we can begin to understand the present world situation and to grasp the difference between Russia and America.
At present the Russian people are undergoing a kind of crucifixion through the imposition of communism. We may hope that this crucifixion will lead to a resurrection, that the impulse of resurrection will come forth in the age of Aquarius. For the Russian people bear within them the light of resurrection as an impulse of the heart. In the "dark night of the soul" of present day Russia it is this inner radiance of the hear- the resurrection light-which alone gives hope for the future to this people. This is an upward-radiating impulse living in seed form in the souls of the Russian people.
In America there is a different tendency at work, representing in seed form the impulse of the age of Capricorn. In contrast to the upward-radiating resurrection impulse of Russia, in the souls of the American people there is an impulse which may be characterized by that which is known as the descent into hell. Here it is courage and will that determine the nature of the soul of the American people. For the Capricornian virtue is courage. The souls of the American people have the courage to "descend into hell", to enter into confrontation with evil. This is a quite different impulse to the Aquarian impulse living in the souls of the Russian people.
Between these two future cultural impulses stands that of Europe, representing the present Piscean culture. Europe, Russia and America are the bearers of three cultural impulses, where that of Europe ought to hold the balance between the opposing tendencies of Russia and America, which are to unfold more fully in the future.
The cultural impulses stemming from the zodiacal ages unfold in the course of time, and the spiritual beings who are the source of these zodiacal-cultural impulses are called Time Spirits. We can begin to read the stars anew by observing how the Time Spirits work in from the zodiacal signs to shape the course of evolution. Within these evolutionary, zodiacal impulses of the Time Spirits we can further differentiate, however. The zodiacal impulses of the Time Spirits delineate epochs of time each 2160 years long. But within a particular zodiacal epoch-characterized by the particular sign of the zodiac of the Time Spirit of the epoch- the differentiated working of the planets may be observed.
For example, within the present Piscean cultural epoch, centered in Europe, the differentiated impulses of the planets may be observed in the different countries of Europe. That is, although Europe as a whole stands under the zodiacal sign of Pisces, each country in Europe has a special relationship to a particular planet. How does this arise?
The various European nations have their different languages and cultural characteristics. The sociability of the Dutch, the passionate nature of the Italians, the initiative of the Germans, for example, are indicative of different spiritual qualities. And their languages are also quite different. Each country has a different FOLK Spirit, where this is meant not in a symbolical but in a literal sense. The Folk Spirit of a people is a spirit which guides this people, which is known in Christian esotericism as an Archangel. Just as each human being, according to esoteric teaching, has a guiding spirit, an Angel, so each nation of people has its guiding spirit, its Archangel. And the various Archangels may be differentiated according to the seven planets from which they derive their impulses.
In the writing of the Christian abbot Trithemius of Sponheim (1462 to 1516), examples of the relationship between the Archangels and the planets are given as follows:
Here seven Archangels are named as representatives of the seven planets. Similarly, other Archangels can be associated with these seven planets. For example, the Archangel of Poland is related to the planet Saturn. In the astrological tradition Saturn is the planet of conservation, conserving tradition. And of all the countries in Europe the spirit of tradition lives most strongly in Poland. A very large percentage of the population is Roman Catholic, belonging to the Church which most represents tradition. The present head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, is also Polish, and is very much an upholder of tradition. On May 13, 1981, at a time when Jupiter and Saturn were very close together in the zodiacal sign of Virgo, there was an assassination attempt on the Pope in St. Peter's Square, Rome. At this time, and already beforehand, the Solidarity movement was very active in Poland. Coinciding with the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction it seemed as if a wind of change was blowing through the land. This was put to a halt not long after the third conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Virgo, which took place on June 24, 1981. The impulse of social change inaugurated by the Solidarity movement was dealt a crippling blow by the imposition of martial rule in Poland on December 13, 1981.
In contrast to the Polish Folk Spirit, the German Archangel draws its impulses from the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of thought and initiative. It is especially the planet of ideals, philosophical ideals. German idealistic philosophy-represented by Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and others- was inspired by the German Archangel. The poet and playwright Goethe (1749 to 1832), who became a legend in his own lifetime, was representative of the Jupiterian character of the German Folk Spirit.
But what happened to German, Jupiterian idealism when the Third Reich arose? Here, instead of drawing warmth from ideals-in accordance with the working of the German Archangel-it became drawn from the blood. "Blood and the Father-land" became the slogan of the German people under the Third Reich. The "pure blood" of the Germanic people became the source of inspiration, instead of enthusiasm for moral ideals,. as the case in German idealistic philosophy. The German Archangel became driven back, unable to work, when the counterfeit spirit of the Third Reich gained hold. What took place then can be read from the stars.
In 1939 Hitler declared war on Poland and rapidly took control, the German military forces occupying the land within a month. At that time Jupiter and Saturn were approaching conjunction in the zodiacal sign of Aries. The sign of Aries had given birth during the zodiacal ages of Aries to the cultures of Greece and Rome. The Roman empire was an expression of this cultural impulse of Aries, as was also the empire built up under Alexander the Great. With the Third Reich the ghost of the Roman empire rose up again from the past. The Fuhrer was a kind of twentieth century Caesar or Emperor, a ghost from the past reminiscent of Nero or Tiberius. In 1939, as Jupiter was approaching conjunction with Saturn in Aries, the impulse from the past embodied by the Fuhrer and the Third Reich was nearing its culmination. The true Jupiter spirit of Germany, the German Archangel, had become driven out and the spirit of the Third Reich, the ghost of the Roman empire (drawing its impulses from Aries) had entered in its place. Instead of Jupiter and Saturn working together-symbolized by the conjunction between the two planets-the people of Poland became crushed by the Germans. The Saturn spirit, the Polish Archangel, became driven back, oppressed by the spirit of the Third Reich which had arisen in Germany in place of the German Archangel.
Right down to the last detail, the arising of the Third Reich can be regarded as an invasion from the past, from the age of Aries, of the ghost of the Roman empire, which tried to overthrow the Time Spirit of the age of Pisces, with its center of working in Europe. One by one the Folk Spirits of the peoples of Europe became driven out, corrupted or oppressed by the ghost of the Roman empire that reared up in Nazi Germany. The Time Spirit of the age of Pisces had to concentrate all its forces through the Archangel of England in order to fight back against this invasion from the past. And together with the mobilized forces of the two future cultures-Russia (Aquarius) and America (Capricorn)-the invading spirit from the past, the ghost of the Roman empire (Aries), was finally driven out. Then the Archangels of the various countries of Europe were able to resume their activity again under the guidance of the Time Spirit of the Piscean age.
Of the European countries, so far we have looked at Poland (Saturn) and Germany (Jupiter). But what of the Folk Spirits of other European countries? How are they related to the planets?
In the case of France a relationship of its Archangel to the planet Mars is evident. This comes to expression most clearly in the figure of Napoleon, who demonstrated in an extreme way the Mars tendency of the French people. Earlier, less extreme examples of Mars inspired personalities in French history are those of the hero Roland, Charlemagne's courageous knight, who sacrificed himself in the defense of France against the invading Arabs, and Godfrey of Bouillon, who led the First Crusade to recapture Jerusalem, becoming crowned king of Jerusalem. Whereas Roland and Godfrey of Bouillon were justified in directing the inspiring Mars impulse of the French Archangel into military activity, Napoleon was not-as this impulse, under the guiding influence of the European cultural age, i.e. since the time of the Renaissance, has to become transformed into moral courage rather than physical courage.
By an interesting coincidence the French people are referred to as the "Garlic race", and in the hermetic tradition the gall-bladder is related to the planet Mars. The hermetic correspondence between the planets and the countries of Europe. In other words, Europe can be regarded-taking a hermetic view of it-as a kind of organism. In this organism France then corresponds to the gall-bladder (the Mars organ). Similarly, Poland corresponds to the spleen (the Saturn organ) and Germany to the liver (the Jupiter organ). But what about the other organs of the "European organism"? For example, which country corresponds to the heart of Europe, the heart being the organ of the Sun?
The heart of Europe is Italy. This is the country which was at the centre of the birth of the cultural age of Europe. The Piscean culture, centred geographically in Europe, came to birth through the Renaissance, which flourished above all-at least to begin with-in Italy. The Italian Archangel is related to the Sun, and at the time of the Renaissance the Piscean Time Spirit focused its activity primarily through the Folk Spirit of Italy. Working from this centre, the heart of Europe, the new culture came to birth. The birth of Europe, of modern European culture, took place through the Renaissance. And from Italy the Sun-filled impulses of the great Renaissance personalities issued forth . . . from Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, to mention just three personalities who brought the solar impulse of the Italian Folk Spirit vividly to expression. Rome and Florence became central foci of activity of the Italian Archangel, these cities at the heart of Europe.
If Rome and Florence are cities at the heart-the Sun centre-of Europe, then London is the brain centre, the brain being the organ of the Moon. For the English Folk Spirit draws its impulses primarily from the Moon. The Archangel of England, who gives the direction for the British Isles as a whole, draws its inspiration from the sphere of the Moon. In the human organism the Moon impulses act in the brain and also in the reproductive organs. Intellect and procreation are the expression of these impulses from the sphere of the Moon. Intellect corresponds to the mirroring activity of the Moon, which mirrors and reflects all impulses radiating in from the cosmos. Similarly, the brain (the organ of the Moon) reflects impulses impinging upon it from all directions, mirroring them back in the form of the intellect.
In the hermetic tradition the Moon is also connected with reproduction. The so-called "hermetic rule" employed by astrologers in antiquity concerns the position of the Moon in the zodiac at the moment of conception in relation to its zodiacal position at the moment of birth. s According to this rule, the average length of time for the development of the embryo in the womb is measured by ten orbits of the Moon around the zodiac. Another well documented correspondence between the Moon and the reproductive organs is the close parallel between the woman's monthly cycle and the lunar synodic month. The length of time (29 1/2 days) for the Moon to pass through its phases, e.g. from Full Moon to Full Moon, closely approximates the duration of the menstrual cycle. The relationship of the Moon with generation and reproduction is again a mirroring activity, but which takes place in the sphere of life rather than in the realm of ideas.
In this connection it is interesting to note that the industrial revolution began in England. Here the activity of reproduction-of products rather than human beings-became applied on a large scale, leading to industrialization. One of the main hallmarks of the Piscean culture of Europe, industrialization, thus came to birth in the country whose Folk Spirit draws its impulses primarily from the Moon. On the other hand, at the other pole-that of the intellect-of the Moon's activity, as mirrored in man, the intellectual tone of Europe was set by the "great brains" of England. Most notable in this respect are Isaac Newton (16421727) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Newton applied his intellect to reflecting upon the cosmos, and arrived at the mechanical Newtonian world system, which for-red the foundation stone of the modern scientific conception of the world. Darwin's intellect reflected upon the other pole-the domain of biological life-leading him to the Darwinian theory of evolution, from which it has been concluded that man had descended from the apes. This theory illustrates well the mirroring activity of the intellect, as this theory is the mirror image of the truth. In reality the apes descended from man, in the sense that man is the archetype and the animals are offspring of one or other aspect of this archetype.
Looking further to the south of Europe, to Spain-and along with Spain, Portugal--we come to the country corresponding to the lungs of the European organism. The relationship between Italy and Spain is analogous to that between the heart and the lungs. The heart and the lungs are the main organs of the feeling organism of the human being, centred in the rhythmic system. And Italy and Spain are the European countries where the feeling life of Europe comes strongly to expression. The heart as an organ is more inward and central, being centered in itself, whereas the lungs are more outwardly orientated, an organ that relates strongly to the outer world. The Spanish empire and the explorative spirit of the Spanish and Portuguese peoples is expressive of this "lung relationship" of these European countries to the rest of the world.
The Spanish Folk Spirit draws its impulses primarily from the planet Mercury, and the lungs are the organ of the human body corresponding to Mercury. The love of the Spanish people for movement and dance indicates something of the relationship of the Spanish Archangel to Mercury, the planet of movement.
Just as Spain corresponds to the lungs of Europe, so Holland corresponds to the kidneys of the European organism. The kidneys are the organ through which the fluids of the human organism pass, and Holland is a country with a quite special relationship to water. In the hermetic tradition the kidneys correspond to Venus, and Holland is the European country whose Folk Spirit draws its impulses from the planet Venus. The sociability of the Dutch people and their aesthetic sense reflect this relationship of the Dutch Archangel to Venus. Venus astrologically is the planet which creates balance and harmony, and the striving for this is evident in the character of the people of Holland. According to Rudolf Steiner, the people of Malaya and Indonesia are the "Venus race", and the Dutch colonies in this part of the world are indicative of the affinity between the European "Venus people" (the Dutch) and the "Venus race" (the Malayans).
To summarize the correspondences
of so far:
When we look at Europe as a whole, we can see the different impulses of the peoples of the different countries reflecting what lives as impulses in the planets. The planets-or rather the Folk Spirits connected with the different planets-give the differentiation within Europe, in the various countries, of the general working of the Time Spirit of the Piscean culture. A true vision of Europe arises when the working together of the various countries can be seen as an unity, as part of a greater whole, analogous to the harmonious cooperation of the organs of the human body. In this vision of Europe, true peace is possible. For, all the countries have the task of working together in cooperation. Then it will never occur to one country to rise up and try to dominate its neighbors, for each will then see its place in the greater organism. Each country has its special role, its task, within the whole. And when all work together in accordance with the Time Spirit, the true fulfilment of the age of Pisces will be possible.
The fulfilment by Europe of its mission, in the cultural age of Pisces, is of vital importance for the healthy unfolding of the next two cultural epochs of time: the age of Aquarius, centred geographically in Russia, and the age of Capricorn, with its geographical centre of location in America. From a strong and healthy Europe the right impulses can be given for the future. Europe must exist-spiritually live and breathe-in its own right, occupied neither by Russia nor America. The Russian military presence in East Europe is an encroachment from a sphere, which will rightfully unfold in the future, into a domain that should exist independently in the present. That a pope from Poland now occupies the chair of Peter in Rome is something healthy for the organism of Europe, establishing a link between the country of Saturn and the country of the Sun. But the military and economic pressure exerted by Russia upon Poland acts to stifle the impulse of the Folk Spirit of this country, which on a deeper level is seeking to unfold in accordance with the Time Spirit of European culture. Similarly, the military installations by America in various west European countries act as an encroachment from a sphere that will unfold in its own right in the age of Capricorn, encroaching into the present day Piscean culture of Europe.
The spirit of Europe must awaken! Not just the polarity: Russia-America, but Europe in its own right as the bearer of cultural life in between the two superpowers, holding the balance between them . . . this is what ought to come about. This spirit can awaken out of a vision of the "choir of Archangels" of the European countries working together in harmony in the whole world.
The division into separate countries in Europe can be spiritually transcended, if the vision of Europe as an organism is perceived. And this is a step towards enabling the descent of the Holy Spirit to take place. For, in the vision of Europe as a whole, as an organism, the circle of Archangels of the various European countries may be envisioned in human consciousness. To this circle of Archangels the being of Sophia may enter in as an ensouling element, to give birth-or rather rebirth-to the soul of Europe.
Now, in the last part of the
of Pisces, with less than four hundred years before the start of the
age of Aquarius, the time has come for the soul of Europe to become
The birth of Europe from the Holy Spirit-the "second birth"-is to take
place, following the "first birth" of Europe around the time of the
This will be a manifestation of the true third kingdom, the kingdom of
the Holy Spirit. For, the kingdom of the Holy Spirit will ideally lead
to the working together of all nations in harmony, in the Spirit of
A first step towards the realization of this "World Pentecost"--the
descent of the Holy Spirit- would be the realization of a European
the descent of the Holy Spirit in Europe. The time for this is at hand,
now as we approach the end of the twentieth century, at this time of
of the age of Pisces, which had given birth to the culture of