For those readers new to the work of Willi Sucher, we begin with a short biography as an introduction to the life and work of this pioneer in the spiritual science of astrosophy. The content of the books assumes a familiarity with the work of Rudolf Steiner, for it is entirely on the foundation of Anthroposophy that Willi Sucher’s research is based. Therefore, a study of the basic works of Steiner is recommended in order to fully enter into the content presented here.
Willi Sucher was born on August 21, 1902, in the southern German town of Karlsruhe. At the age of 17 he met the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, through the brother of his father, his uncle Karl. His uncle Karl also spoke with him about astrology, expressing his concern about its unsuitability for modern humanity. His uncle spoke of how important it would be that someday an anthroposophist would bring new light to the entire field of astrology through the insights of spiritual science. Willi’s response was, “Why should we wait? Can’t we do it ourselves?”
In 1922, he became inspired by Steiner’s ideas on social threefolding and moved to Stuttgart to join a small bank, Bankhaus Der Komende Tag, which was connected with several businesses trying to put these ideas into practice. On one occasion Rudolf Steiner visited the bank, and Willi was deeply impressed by this personal encounter with Steiner.
When the economic situation caused the small bank to close, Willi took a position in a bank in Bruchsal. Through a friend he met his future wife, Helen, who lived with her parents in Stuttgart and was also attending the lectures of Rudolf Steiner. They both joined the newly formed Christian Community and were married in 1927 by Dr. Friedrich Rittelmeyer, the founder of the Christian Community and a leading Lutheran theologian in Germany at the time.
Later in 1927 Willi came across a lecture given by Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, the head of the Mathematical–Astronomical Section of the School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, where the Anthroposophical Society was centered. In this lecture, Dr. Vreede referred to remarks by Rudolf Steiner about the configurations of the heavens at the time of the passing over of a human being into the spiritual world at death. It struck Willi then “like a lightning bolt”. “This is it! This is something positive!”
He worked out the death asterogram of Tolstoy and sent it, along with some very tentative suggestions, to Dr. Vreede in Dornach. She responded “very positively” and invited him to Dornach in 1928. This became the starting point for a working relationship that would develop over the next ten years, during which Dr. Vreede published “the investigations of our co–worker Willi Sucher, as he has developed them in conjunction with the Mathematical–Astronomical Section for some years now.”
Conditions in Germany were beginning to deteriorate, and in 1937 Willi was invited to lecture in England. There he met Fried Geuter, the co–founder of Sunfield Home — an anthroposophical home for handicapped children — at Clent. Geuter said, “Mr. Sucher, come to us and I shall build you an observatory!” Willi and Helen made arrangements to immigrate, and in mid–1938 they began working at the Sunfield Home. Here Willi gathered the clinical experience, which he would later unite with Steiner’s indications, to develop the idea that a dedicated staff, working with a deep knowledge of a child’s star configuration, could effect healing. In later years, Willi would often comment of that time, “So you see, it really was an ‘observatory’… The children were my observatory!”
Due to the war, there was much concern in Great Britain that there were enemy informers among the many refugees. Thus, all German and Austrian men and some women were rounded up as “enemy aliens” to be interned in detention camps around the British Isles. Anticipating this, Willi packed a small case with his most precious tables for working out star positions and other aids he needed to carry on his research. Thus when the police came for him and some others working at the home, he was fully prepared.
They were first taken to a kind of clearing house at a military barracks at Worcester, then on to a place near Liverpool. Just as his personal belongings were about to be searched for any papers or books for the burn pile, the first man in their group told the inspectors that they had come from a children’s home in which there had been an outbreak of scarlet fever, which was true. Because of this, their group was taken to an isolation unit, and their belongings were sent with them without being inspected. Thus Willi’s research materials were spared. The group was later transferred to a camp on the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea. Here several anthroposophists found themselves interned together: Dr. Ernst Lehrs and Dr. Karl Konig, the founder of Camphill, among others. Willi would later describe this time as a most fruitful period of research. For 18 months, these individuals were given time to hold a kind of “super college”, as Willi called it. They had long conversations about their studies and research, and practiced giving talks to each other. Since he was a medical doctor, Dr. Konig was released first, in January 1942, and he secured Willi’s release by inviting him to come to work at his home for children in Aberdeen, Scotland. Willi was joined by Helen, who had remained at Sunfield, and he carried on his researches while helping to care for the children.
Later in 1944, when Willi and Helen returned to Sunfield, Hazel Straker, whom they met earlier that year came to work more closely with him and his research. In 1946, at the request of Eleanor Merry and Maria Schindler, Willi and Helen moved to London for a short time and taught evening classes. In 1947, Dr. Alfred Heidenreich, the founder of the Christian Community in Britain, instigated an invitation to Garvald, a curative home in Scotland, where Willi became the director for a short time. Here Hazel Straker joined them as a co-worker. They were then invited by Dr. Heidenreich to work at Albrighton Hall, a center for Christian Community conferences, near Shrewsbury. This time, Willi wrote, “was one of the most positive and creative periods of my life. Dr. Heidenreich gave me absolute freedom to develop my work.” Here the English manuscript of Isis Sophia, published in 1951, was prepared (it had already been published in Germany), as well as Man and the Stars, the second Isis Sophia series, published in 1952. In addition to Hazel Straker, Helen Veronica Moyer and her sister, the artist Maria Schindler, came together in this work. They cared for the conference house and assisted in the star work, allowing Willi time for research besides lecturing at conferences there and traveling to meet increasing requests to speak to other groups in England, Scotland, and Holland.
In 1953, the group moved to Larkfield Hall, a curative home in Kent, England, where they were able to build a small house through the help of a devoted friend. Because of his lecturing commitments, Willi did not have time to work with the children, but his co-workers did, and they would sit together with Willi and work over the children’s incarnation charts.
In 1955 Willi was invited to America to lecture at the Three-fold Farm anthroposophical community in Spring Valley, New York. During this first trip to the U.S., he gave 70 lectures or workshops in his 19 week stay, which included a visit to Los Angeles.
On returning to England, Willi began to work on the book Drama of the Universe. The two previous books, Isis Sophia and Man and the Stars, had been written from the geocentric (Earth-centered) perspective. Now his researches into the heliocentric perspective had progressed to the stage of putting them into this book, which was published in 1958. With the proceeds, they decided to take a vacation, and Helen had always wanted to see palm trees, so they decided to make a journey to Egypt. But as plans were being finalized, Willi suggested, “Why go east, why not go west to America?” So the family of co-workers [Willi, Helen, Hazel, and Veronica] journeyed across America, from Montreal to Denver, through Salt Lake City, on to Los Angeles. They returned to England, sold their home, and in 1961, they immigrated and founded the Landvidi Center for Exceptional Children in Los Angeles, which operated under their guidance for seven years.
With the closing of the school in 1968, they searched for an area in which to retire. After considering many places, decided on Meadow Vista—a small town on the lower slopes of the Sierra Mountains not far from Sacramento. It was during this time that Cosmic Christianity (1970) and The Changing Countenance of Cosmology (1971) were published.
In the following years, publication would be limited to the ongoing “Monthly Letters” to subscribers. A portion of these letters (1972-74) would be published as Willi’s final book, Practical Approach Toward a New Astrosophy. It is in this work that he brought forth his many years of research, first indicated in Drama of the Universe, on a spiritual approach to a heliocentric astrology. This was a revolutionary incision into the world of astrology, which opened the way for a spiritual-scientific understanding of the heliocentric, Copernican perspective of the universe. The development of this work was a monumental addition to our understanding of the relation of the human being, and indeed of all of earth evolution, to the heliocentric universe. As he later wrote concerning this: “Some people are still strongly opposed to the heliocentric approach. However, Rudolf Steiner pointed out in the lecture cycle The Relationship of Earthly Man to the Sun, Lecture IV, Jan. 11, 1924, that this perspective is correct. In the research which I undertook in this direction, it turned out that the heliocentric approach does not cut out the geocentric completely; rather it proved to be a kind of complementary relationship.”
Willi died peacefully in his sleep on May 21, 1985, receiving visitors until that night. Before his death, together with a small group of friends, he initiated the founding of a non-profit corporation, the Astrosophy Research Center to care for his publications, personal papers, and library after his death. Space was donated in a nearby house where this material is being cared for and is available to anyone wishing to conduct research. There is much historical material, medical research, and notes on many other aspects of his far-reaching work.