Astrosophy, or Star (Astro) Wisdom (Sophia), is the spiritual scientific understanding of our new and enhanced relationship to the world of the stars. Rudolf Steiner spoke of the visible stars, as the physical manifestation of a complex and exalted world of spiritual beings who, in the past, helped to shape and guide humanity in its evolution. In ancient times, we were far more conscious of these spiritual beings and their guidance as can be seen in the pantheon of gods described in many ancient religions. As part of the greater divine plan for humanity, this awareness of the guiding beings was gradually lost as we became more conscious of the material world of the senses and less aware of the world of spiritual beings. As is described in an image from Norse Mythology, the “Bifrost Bridge” was destroyed; thus the direct bridge to the spiritual world that humans at one time “crossed” in their earlier awareness was no longer there. Our path to becoming human required that our gaze be turned more towards the Earth as our primary focus in order to fully develop Self-consciousness and Self-determination.
During this gradual descent into earthly consciousness, human beings were not left totally without guidance. Mystery schools and temples were maintained in which select pupils were specially trained and led on a path of initiation. Some of these mystery traditions can be seen in the ancient cultures of Persia, Egypt, and Greece for example. In very early times, the “Kings” were all also initiates and therefore were able to lead their people out of a knowledge of the world of the gods. These initiates were able to understand the heavenly Beings who revealed themselves through the movements of the stars in order to guide them. Thus they had a knowledge of the time-rhythms of the planetary spheres within the fixed stars, as the “speech”, so to speak, of the heavenly beings guiding humanity. This knowledge extended not only to matters concerning daily life, but also to the greater processes of ages of time. With this understanding, the initiates could know the timing of important future happenings. For example the three Magi (or Kings) who went to Bethlehem were such Initiates who knew that the child born there was the incarnation of a great initiate who would also become the bearer of the Christ.This once direct and grand star wisdom (astrosophy) was gradually replaced with a more mathematical and mechanical star knowledge, bereft of direct vision, which became what we know as astrology (astro=star, logy=logic). As human individuality become more ego-centric, star knowledge shifted from awareness of the larger forces at work in the world and the guidance of humanity to a more personal focus on the individual destiny. Out of this, the personal astrology chart came into being. The ability to reach “behind” the angular relationships and planetary rhythms to the beings which these reflected was lost as humanity descended further toward a purely sense-bound science. The use of the personal asterogram as a tool to forecast personal destiny contained only a dim memory of the great truths behind the relation of the stars to human destiny.
Yet the great paradox is that the loss of the direct spiritual perception of the gods was necessary in evolution so that human beings could fulfill their great task in world evolution. According to Rudolf Steiner, this task is that we become the beings of freedom and of love that is born out of that freedom. This means that the experience of separation from the divine, unique to humanity among all beings, has the possibility, not the predetermination, to establish something new in the cosmos: a rank of beings who freely choose to participate with the divine plan out of a love born from that freedom. To learn this, humanity must traverse a long evolutionary path that descends into isolation and separation from the world of the spirit and then they must struggle to find their own way back, in freedom, to a relationship with the gods. Like the great stories of heroes, such as the tale of Parsival, each human being must leave ‘home’ (the world of union with the gods), become lost and adrift, and out of their own striving find again a new relationship to the world of spirit. The great words of John the Baptist in the New Testament, rightly translated, expresses this human condition already experienced by some at the time of Christ: “I am the voice of one crying in the aloneness (spiritual wilderness).”
The core of what was revealed by Rudolf Steiner was the knowledge of the turning point in world evolution that would give human beings this power to find their own renewed, free relationship to the divine world and in this freedom learn the true meaning of love. This turning point was the world-changing event of the deed of Christ: His death and resurrection. In that deed, Christ united with the Earth and with humanity, imparting the power to find our way back to the divine world. Within this context, Steiner addressed the need for a new “Christianized” cosmology. What does this mean? During the time that Christ walked on the Earth, He performed many deeds of which we only begin to glimpse the full meaning. These deeds were not only earthly “miracles” but they were also archetypal deeds that brought new meaning to the cosmological rhythms, thus giving birth to a new relationship of the human being to the cosmos. This relationship is new because humanity will then not be children, led by a “father” but rather will be conscious partners with the gods. Christ came to be the brother of humanity and through His deeds each human being is capable of becoming a brother/sister to the gods. This new relationship to the divine is not one ruled from above by the law but one that has come through truth and grace. Therefore the new astrosophy is not one that seeks answers and guidance from the stars for what we should do; but rather it is one in which we learn to give back to the world of the stars the gifts that humanity has to offer in order to create the new cosmos, the “New Jerusalem” described in the book of Revelation in the New Testament. Christ’s deeds, as seen in relation to the starry movements, serve as models for us. The ground-breaking work of Willi Sucher, in his life’s work of building the understanding of the deeds of Christ in relation to the movements of the stars, can serve as a foundation for the greater work of creating a new Astrosophy: a star wisdom in which ‘we’ speak to the stars, uniting consciously with the Christ Will at work in the cosmos in order to fulfill our evolutionary task as independent, self-transformed, self-conscious individuals.
Based on our own karma from the past, as we descend through the planetary spheres to a new Earth life, we gather into our being all that we will need in a new life, which includes all of the challenges and obstacles we must face in order to grow.. Once here on Earth, though external events may seem to compel us, we can inwardly choose how we meet those events as spiritual human beings in order to use them fruitfully for our own higher calling and for the greater human community. We also have the freedom to go our own way and not listen to the inner voice guiding us through the wilderness.
Steiner’s researches into the spiritual world have been the basis for many scientists, artists, and scholars of all kinds to take up their work in a new way. Willi Sucher (1902-1985) was just a young man of 17 when he asked his uncle about the value of astrology, to which his uncle replied, “Oh, we’ll have to wait for something to come out of this anthroposophy.” “Why wait?” asked Willi, who then immediately devoted himself to the study of astronomy and anthroposophy. He became friends with Dr. Elizabeth Vreede (1879-1943), whom Steiner chose to be the first leader of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section of the School for Spiritual Science in Dornach, Switzerland, at the Goetheanum. She recognized the quality of Willi’s researches and invited him to speak there; and in her later years, asked him to continue with her monthly articles. In time, Willi developed a comprehensive astrosophy, which has as its foundation the archetypes implanted in the rhythms of the planetary spheres in their movements through the zodiac by the life and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Using his vast reservoir of knowledge, gained both from anthroposophy and his spiritual researches into both ancient and modern star events, Willi Sucher developed a new astrosophy. As a deep student of the Bible, of history, of philosophy, and of the biographies of historical individuals, he conducted research into the star configurations for the birth, life, and death of many individuals—what were their gifts?; what did they contribute to the stars?; what can we learn from them? During his life, Willi gave countless lectures and wrote a number of books and monthly letters that were later collected into books. He did this to help all of us; knowing that if we choose, we can respond fruitfully in our individual way to impulses from the cosmos. In order to serve this new Astrosophy, all of Willi Sucher’s published materials are available as free downloads on the website of the Astrosophy Research Center, which was established to continue the development of astrosophy and to maintain his great body of work.
by: Jonathan Hilton