Saturn Returns…

© Terry Boardman

This essay was first published in New View magazine Issue 57 Oct-Dec 2010

“It’s useful to remember that an organism can have a future and a past only with respect to its organic present, and also that a person cannot have a future and a past unless his or her mental present is viable.” (1)

Sitting in the garden gazing at the flowers, the majestic clouds of late summer, the buzzing insects, the gently swaying leaves of the horse chestnut tree, one’s mind given up only to these impressions, away from our two ticking clocks within the house, it’s easy to forget time altogether. If one does not think thoughts such as “how did the horse chestnut get to be like this?” and “how will that flower look in two weeks’ time?”, and one simply looks at the tree and the flowers, there seems to be only this moment, only a NOW, akin to what we imagine to be eternity, in fact, peacefulness. A pigeon coos and then falls silent, a sparrow flits from tree to tree without me choosing to reflect on a before and an after. From outside this experience of perception, all these sights, sounds and smells may seem like time phenomena – something that was and ‘now’ is not – but all such phenomena, even the dashing about of the myriad insects, meld into the overall image of restfulness. All seems right with the world.

But if I suddenly shift my consciousness from beholding these outer phenomena to my internal memory store, then I realise that I ‘know’, not from direct experience – as I personally am not possessed of any ‘clairvoyance’ or ‘clairaudience’ – but from my ‘education’ that this warm, restful, swaying, cooing, buzzing ‘outer space’ is also filled, or perhaps I should say, ‘paralleled’, by a realm of countless, invisible, inaudible other entities, which ‘in our time’ we call ‘radio waves’. Right next to me, within me even, historical simultaneity is evident as Beethoven may be sounding forth alongside Coldplay; taxi drivers and tea ladies gabbling on about politicians’ virtues and vices, pundits debating financial prognostications, newscasters in various languages, depending on the reach of my radio, reporting on wars and disasters and scandals in numerous countries, countless teenagers and twenty-somethings  in towns from Doncaster to Dorchester pouring their hearts out on chat shows without number. All this timefulness I know from my educated, or rather, informed  memory, is going on together with the peaceful garden scene surrounding me that I can perceive with minimal memory. I say ‘minimal’, because the horse chestnut tree does not frighten me out of my wits. It does not do so because I learned long ago that it is a tree and that trees do not normally attack people – despite the fact that people are forever attacking trees. I have learned this long ago and committed it to memory. Although I ‘experience’ this gentle peacefulness in the garden, I ‘know’ that a constant, frantic time-bound human busyness is going on too in the greater, world-space, though no-one may be working in the garden. My memory also tells me that if I walk from the garden into town I shall see many TV sets in TV shops all blaring out the dynamic images of human causes and effects going on all over the world, from Pakistan to Westminster Parliament. The peacefulness of my garden will be replaced.

Indeed, it already is, as someone has seen fit to start up a petrol-driven mower. I pay attention, shift from mere perception and relative mindlessness to a reflection of causes and effects. I move my mind into time proper, so to speak, and reflect that the mower is using petrol, which may come from oil in the Gulf States. This puts me in mind of Iraq, and its 5000 years of history and the oil wars of the last 100 years, as well as more recent painful causes and effects, in which I too am involved, as I have a car – and the keys on my computer, like so much else in my daily life, are made of plastic, another derivative of oil. I observe vague feelings of concern arise in my consciousness: how much am I actually contributing to these painful causes and effects, how little am I doing to help decrease them? I watch these feelings arise… and pass.

… A little later, I look up. The air in the garden is still warm, but the clouds above me have changed completely. Suddenly I recall that when I came out into the garden, next door’s cat was there playing with something. On examination, it turned out to be the innards  of a small animal. I notice the thought popping up in my consciousness from my memory store that unseen little creatures are constantly killing and eating each other amidst all this beauty and peacefulness in the garden. The noise of the mower has stopped.

There are ‘times’, or better said, experiences,  when time itself seems not to exist, when I simply am there with what is going on around me in the garden, not thinking actively about the garden or about anything in particular, simply and calmly aware of my breathing, the feeling of my body, its temperature, the wind on my skin. Some minimal subliminal thinking is still going on of course, which enables me to securely identify the various sights and sounds around me, but it is a thinking at a level that is barely conscious. What would life be like if I had to say to myself every time I heard a bird sing: “that is a bird singing”? But when I go back inside the house and hear the clock ticking and turn on the radio or the computer, ‘time’  comes rushing at me in a flood of impressions, a stream of events and demands from the world – mails to answer, bills to pay. Suddenly, life speeds up; urgent deadlines and consequences emerge, possible causes of anxiety: that bill must be paid by the end of the month because if it is not…..

Youth and the Eternal Now
At my age, the ‘Late Middle Ages’, I cannot but be aware of how much faster the days go by, how quickly a morning becomes an evening, compared to the days and years of my youth, when we seemed to have all the time in the world. How paradoxical that young people can move so quickly through physical space on their feet, bikes and skateboards, how quickly they speak and act, yet how slow is their inner sense of time. No wonder most young people are really uninterested in history, since they are living so energetically, but also, it must be said, often so passively, so reactively, in the immediate moment, which must seem to them like the Eternal Now. When in the 70s Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols sang, or rather, sarcastically whined, that “there is no future in England’s dreaming” he was, perhaps despite himself, expressing a truth about the state of mind of the young, who, though they express concern for the future of society or the environment, actually have little experience of time itself. For the young, there is ‘no future’, just as there is no past. Mostly, they are busy finding themselves, emerging from childhood and asserting themselves in their burgeoning sense of self. There is only the Eternal Present for them, which on the one hand seems to move at the furious, dizzying pace of the electrical media world, but on the other hand, this busily spinning top hardly seems to move at all from the point where it is standing; an enchanting indulgence, taking them nowhere in particular. This is one of the many paradoxes that young people feel keenly and goes some way to explain why, for at least 40 years now, they have been giving their rock bands names like Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin, Killing Joke, Teardrop Explodes, Coldplay etc. The young are running to stand still. Exhilarated at the pace and dynamism of what they feel to be ‘their’ culture, their generation, they feel “this is me, this is my culture”, (in the 60s, young people used to say admiringly “(s)he’s really with it”). When we are young, we move through ‘our time’ like sleepwalkers and dreamers in a hall of mirrors, with little or no sense of past or future. Lest we forget, let us adults recall that we have all done this.

I too can access this dream feeling from my memory, or at least, an image of the feeling, without the actual intensity of it, when I recall those times, those few times, when I was 16 or 18 and thought about the distant future, say, about being 30, which seemed almost inconceivable, a hundrd years away. When we are young, between 17 and 27, we feel like Gods living in the mythical eternal Age of Gods, full, if blessed with good health, of vim and vigor, and confident that anything is possible, since we live in (comparative) innocence, have few social responsibilities and for the most part do not yet really know the world of adults, its vices and vicissitudes. This is because we are mostly not really involved in such vicissitudes, unless, for example, we happen to be a child soldier in Africa or a child supporting a drug-addicted single parent in a broken marriage in Clapham. For many other young people  -  the lucky ones whose lives are not already overcast -  everything seems possible, and so all is absolute and all-encompassing. Love, politics, learning, the arts – all are experienced intensely, full-on, without limits, for surely, what ‘we’ are experiencing is truth itself, reality, isn’t it? Or so we feel when young. This is the now, the all. At least, that is how it seems at the time. How many songs and poems of youth throughout the generations have not celebrated such an intense mood, whether of exultant joy or bitter anger?

This moment is different from any before it;  this moment  is different  – it’s now.
And if I don’t kiss you, that kiss is untasted. I’ll never, no never, get it back.
But why should I want to? I’ll be in the next moment. Sweet moment! Sweet lover! Sweet now!
The walls of this room are different from any before them. They are now!
The air that you breathe is different from any before it. It is now!
You may think that life is repeating, repeating….Oh no!

 - The Incredible String Band (1970)

… Against the blue sky background now, I see a spider crawling slowly upwards through empty space, the pathway of its web filament invisible to my sight. It takes the spider a long time to climb all the way up to the butterfly tree. I think: how patiently it must have threaded that web! But patience of course is a human virtue and likely unknown to spiders, who are simply being spiders and doing what spiders do at the pace that is given them by Nature to do it.

A natural pace is also ‘given’ to us to live our human lives, but it is pace that changes over time. This is the inner pace of the soul, rather than the outer pace of the limbs. It starts very slowly in infancy and only around the age of 30 does it really begin to accelerate markedly; then it gets faster and faster with the pace of our acclimatisation to life on earth. I reflect how differently my life looked and felt at the age of 35 compared to ten years earlier, and what it was that had made the difference (the ‘Saturn Return’, of which more later). At 25, all was still open, relatively unformed. I was still moving like an enthusiastic dreamwalker through the panorama of my life, still feeling things intensely, though already less so than five years earlier, and understanding little of what was happening, but dimly sensing much, semi-consciously storing away experiences, impressions, and ideas, for later rumination. By 35, however, choices had been made, a path wakefully selected, a way through life divined. It felt like I had ‘fallen’ compared to 25, but also that I had woken up, and that I was more my own man, steering my own boat, so to speak. Years later, I came to see how much in fact I had still been dreaming at 35, but it did not feel like it then, whereas when I was 25, I was somehow aware that I was dreaming through my life, reacting to events, ‘following’ where life took me rather than forging my own self-directed path.

… It is evening now. The sun has set, the sky is pink and grey, the air much cooler, and the intermittent birdsong gives this cooler air a pointed freshness and a poignancy. There is a contemplative, calm mood to this time of day,  when the sunlight has largely withdrawn and so have the insects,  a mood which is utterly different to mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

By the time one has arrived in one’s ‘Middle Ages’, one can arrive too – though not everyone does – at an inner awareness of how the times of one’s life have been different in quality at the different stages along the way. Only when one has come to this point can a real sense for history emerge in the soul, for only now does one become really aware of the interior experience of the qualities of time. One can study history at University in one’s teens and 20s, but then it is largely ‘ideas’ about the past  – and often the ideas of older academics  – that  one is concerned with, or else, partisan  feelings about superficial aspects of historical cultures. I suspect that it is only in one’s Middle Ages, when the vigor of life begins to dim, that one comes to have a real sense for the different natures of Times themselves. The young are naturally in tune with spring and summer, and winter they may appreciate for the opportunities it affords them of indulging in activities they like, going skiing or skating with friends, eating and drinking round a bonfire, fireworks, snowball fights, and Christmas parties. Winter in itself they do not resonate with, for it is not where they are in themselves – unless they already somehow feel ill or sombre in their souls. A young person who prefers winter to all other seasons is not in a ‘natural’ state; rather he or she is in a very ‘personal’ state, a prematurely adult state.

The Owl of Minerva
Early evening then, around and after sunset, is when the historian arrives in the soul; as Hegel, that great philosopher of history said, “The owl of Minerva takes flight only with the falling of dusk”. (2) For this is the time for reflection on what has been, for empathetic resonance with the qualities and events of Time, of the hours and ages past, either observed or experienced. Following the change that in most people takes place in some form between 28 and 31 (of which more later), by the age of 35 most of us have well and truly ‘arrived’ on this earth, and it is then  that the owl of Minerva can begin to take flight:

“All revolutions, in the sciences no less than in general history, originate only in this, that the spirit of man, for the understanding and comprehension of himself, for the possessing of himself, has now altered his categories, uniting himself in a truer, deeper, more intrinsic relation with himself.” (3)

Rudolf Steiner called this new deeper relation of man with his inner spiritual nature the ‘Consciousness Soul’ experience and spoke of how in the biography it sets in around the age of 35, at the end of the 5th seven year period. We are then at the midpoint of life, if one takes the traditional threescore and ten as the ‘normal’ alloted human lifespan. From that ‘present’ or ‘centre’  we can begin to really comprehend the past and the future; a real sense both of history and of what is coming towards us from the future can begin.

Every night before we go to sleep, we have a chance to reflect on the day that has ‘gone’. The purpose of the old religious Sabbath was to rest and reflect on the week gone by, as God had rested after the days of Creation and felt the Creation was good. So on the seventh day, we have a chance to reflect on whether our activity over the previous week has been ‘good’; in ancient times this meant ‘in harmony with the natural order of things’, the cosmic moral order. Every year our birthday provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the year that has past, to take stock and think of the future, but how many of us take that opportunity, perhaps being too focused on the upcoming birthday party – the here and now? Apart from socially determined events such as New Year’s Day, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals etc., there are probably three points in the biography when we have a suitable opportunity, given to us by the cosmos so to speak, to reflect on our lives. In this article there is only space to go into one of them; the other two will only be mentioned in passing. The three points are firstly, the times when we begin a new seven year period in our lives (e.g. 14-21-28-35-42-49-56-63-70-77-84). These periods signal our entry into a new ‘planetary’ phase of our life when we subtly develop new capacities and qualities. (Through the character Jacques in  As You Like It Shakespeare gives us the famous lines about ‘the seven ages of man’, albeit rather cynically). Secondly, there are our Moon Nodes, which recur in a brief ‘window’ every 18.6 years (4), and which relate to the pre-earthly decisions we make prior to our birth, in our existence in the spiritual sphere of the Moon. During this reopening of that Moonsphere window we can, if we are alert and sensitive, regain an intimation of those pre-birth intentions, and thus insight into our direction and tasks in life. Most people are not at all aware of this and thus pass by the Moon nodes unknowingly

The third important opportunity for personal ‘destiny learning’ is the phenomenon known as the Saturn Return, when Saturn returns to the place it occupied in one’s horoscope at the time of birth.  This Saturn Return occurs every 29.5 years to be exact, one orbit of Saturn round the Sun, but there is a leeway with this phenomenon in a human biography. Its effects can be felt before and after the 29.5 year mark, between the years 28 and 31, like a rising and receding wave, usually peaking around 29 or 29½. Why should such planetary movements have anything to do with our lives? Hegel was sure that they did not:

The content of astrology is to be rejected as superstition; but science is under the obligation to assign the specific ground for this rejection…. the planetary life of the Solar System is only a life of motion, in other words, is a life in which the determining factor is constituted by space and time (for the moments of space and time are the moments of motion)…. for mind, the abstract determinations of space and time, the mechanics of free motion, have absolutely no significance and no power; the determinations of self-conscious mind are infinitely more substantial, more concrete, than the abstract determinations of juxtaposition and succession. (5)

But in the end science has to face facts, and the empirical facts in this case show that one only has to investigate the biographies of well-known figures or even people whom one knows oneself to see how often this biographical period of 28-31, with its peak around 29½, proves to be a major turning point in their lives. Few people pass through this period without experiencing a major change of some sort, and the nature of that change is usually ‘limiting’ and ‘focusing’ in some way. It is in this period, traditionally associated with the 29.5 year orbit of Saturn, that the dreaming and semi-conscious experimentation of our 20s comes to an end. It is as if we say to ourselves “Enough of that playing around now, stimulating fun though it was. Now I shall concentrate my energies on a particular field, institution, partner, person. From the various options I tried out in my 20s, or perhaps from a completely new one, I shall now make a choice, and into this choice I shall ‘settle down’ and develop it in depth.”  For many people, this may mean marriage and starting a family; for others, a new career or a new spiritual path. In my own case, at the age of 29 I returned to the West after 7 years in Japan, determined to find my spiritual path and become a performing artist. Almost immediately on arriving back in England, I discovered anthroposophy, and it has been my spiritual path ever since. At 30 I took up eurythmy, and two years later embarked on the 4-year eurythmy training.

The Saturn Return and Oriphiel, Uriel
One can also find that as some people hit a major life crisis around 29 which forces them across a certain inner threshold, it also happens that others suffer major illness or even die at this time. This has always been associated with the severity of Saturn, the traditional threshold planet of our solar system. Modern astronomers have told us that Saturn is not in fact the outermost planet, but the evidence of our eyes (through telescopes) shows that of all the planets, Saturn  does indeed have a good  claim to be ‘the threshold planet’ of our solar system: it has a number of unique features – the most magnificent rings, nine of them, the greatest number of moons (62), and a constant, hexagonally-shaped (!)  cloud formation has been discovered at its north pole(6), while the evidence of human biography over millennia shows  us that Saturn’s orbital period of 29.5 years also marks a major human threshold. Furthermore, there is a mysterious temporal link between what could be called  – from the terrestrial viewpoint – the  outermost and the innermost bodies of the solar system, Saturn and the Moon: whereas Saturn’s orbit takes 29.5 years, the synodic period of the Moon (i.e. from New Moon to New Moon) lasts 29.5 days. 12 orbits of Saturn round the Sun is 354 years, whereas the 12 lunar months (29.5 days each) of the  lunar year amount to just over 354 days (12 x 29½ = 354). In esoteric teachings, such as anthroposophy, the spiritual regions of the Moon and Saturn represent respectively the ‘ante-chamber’ and the ‘inner sanctum’ of the spiritual world after death. It is surely based on the periodicities of these two celestial timekeepers that the late mediaeval esotericist Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim (1462-1516), citing earlier authorities, held that history was ruled by the successively rotating regencies of seven archangels in periods of 354 years and 4 months. (7)

Saturn has a connection to the ‘winter’ period of our lives – and ‘winter’ moments in our lives when old habits and circumstancess must die away so that new things might come forth. As winter is severe and must be borne in Nature, so is Saturn severe and it too must be borne in our lives. As winter both kills off the old, tired elements of Nature but also harbours and prepares the seeds of new life deep in the earth, so Saturn’s Return in the biography provides a stimulus to clear out the unwanted dross, the burdensome baggage, and points out to us a new, firm direction or returns us to an older one that perhaps we had forgotten. One can also find that talented young people who seem to act with the blessing of an almost unconscious gift lose this talent around the age of 29 or else tire of it and seek something different. These severities can be painful if we are too attached to the baggage or the talents we carry, or if we try to deny to ourselves that a necessary separation must be made.

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Lets you choose what you will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent.

Saturn comes back around. Lifts you up like a child or
Drags you down like a stone to
Consume you till you choose to let this go.

Give away the stone.
Let the oceans take and transmutate this cold and fated anchor.
Give away the stone. Let the waters kiss and transmutate
these leaden grudges into gold.
Let go  (8).

 - Tool, The Grudge

In the mediaeval esoteric tradition, which saw correspondences between the different parts of the body and planetary rulerships, Saturn was linked both to the top of the head  and to the archangel Oriphiel (Heb.: My neck [is] God), also known as Uriel (Fire/Light-God, or God is my light/fire) (9). Of this  strange name  – My neck is God – Sergei Prokofieff  says that for Oriphiel, “God (the starry hierarchies) works for him only ‘from behind’, in his ‘neck’, that is through the forces of memory”, the forces of the past (10). Saturn thus relates to that which is above the neck in the human  microcosm – the bony structure of the head, the oldest form in the human organism, which encloses the brain, into which, through thought, pours the ‘light’ of worlds. This brings to mind sculpted images of Egyptian pharoahs with their impassive enigmatic expressions, who seem to be but the instruments of divine powers working into them from above and behind.

With Raphael, Michael and Gabriel, Oriphiel/Uriel is one of the four traditional archangels of the yearly cycle and rules over the time of midsummer, the time of the most intense heat and light. This may seem counterintuitive in view of what was said above about winter. Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on The Four Seasons and the Archangels (10) ascribed to Uriel the qualities of cosmic understanding, enlightenment, historical conscience, judgment and thought. This corresponds to what the ancient Indians of the Vedic period called Rta (Rita), cosmic order, the moral world order: “Uriel, whose own intelligence arises fundamentally from the working together of the planetary forces of our planetary system, supported by the forces of the fixed stars of the Zodiac.” (12.10.1923)(11). In the heights of summer human beings were traditionally most ‘out of themselves’, (ek-stasis) and in this condition of ecstasy, or near ecstasy – in music, dance, festive activity, fire and drinking,  they were most prone to moral error and to offences against what was seen as the moral order. Then came the severe judgment and the warning of Uriel, who appealed to human beings’ conscience and their reflection on their offences against that moral order. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned” – the words of the Catholic confessional remind us of this ancient consciousness of Uriel and his earnest admonishing gaze. One can feel a different memory of Uriel in ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, when the sultry dreamy music of the first part is followed by the vigorous thunder and lightning that then storms down to awaken the human mind to conscience.

In the natural seasonal time cycle, the warmth of midsummer sinks into the earth with the coming of autumn and the fading of the vegetative life, but it is in this subterranean warmth, down in the depths, that winter prepares the seeds of spring, or as Steiner more poetically puts it:

The Sun-gold, formed in the heights in the dominion of Uriel during high summer, passes down to weave and flow through the depths of earth, where it animates the elements that in the midst of winter are seeking to become the growth of the following year.  (12.10.1923).

In the third verse of his Foundation Stone of Love meditation (1923) Steiner portrayed the impulses of Uriel and Michael – the light impulse of summer becoming the will impulse of autumn -  in these words:  

Where the eternal aims of the Gods
The light of cosmic being
On your own I
For your free willing

As Oriphiel/Uriel looks to the memories of the past, Michael looks to the deeds of the future that will arise both in the natural cycle and in human souls out of the transformation of summer’s light and heat.  Rudolf Steiner even indicated a kind of opposition between these two hierarchical beings in that except for Michael, archangel of the Sun, the other archangels, under the influence of Oriphiel, the archangel of Saturn, who in a sense is their senior or leader, do not consider that mankind is capable of achieving freedom; Oriphiel always looks back to the past, the Golden Age of divine cosmic rulership and cosmic necessity, one might say, and seeks to bind the guidance of evolution and thus of humanity to the rulership of the stars, as was done in ancient times in Chaldean astrology for instance, while Michael, constantly believing in mankind’s potential for freedom, focuses more on the present and what mankind can make of it for the future. (13) While Oriphiel’s name points backwards to cosmic memory and the need for alignment with divine order, Michael’s very name poses a question of freedom for mankind: “Who is like God?”

At the time of my first Moon Node, when I was 18 and a half, in my first year at university, my life was changed by an Anglo-American  band called “Lifetime” who showed me a way of making music that I had never seen before. On their first album (“Emergency” -  1969) there was a song called simply “Where?” Preceding each piece of the three  dynamic instrumental improvisations in the song were some very simple and naively sung, but existential words:

Where are you going? Where have you come from?
If anyone asks you, I hope you can say.
Where are they going? Where have they come from?
If anyone asks them, I know they can’t say.
Where am I going? Where have I come from?
If anyone asks me, I know I can say.

Each time the Saturn Return comes round, we starkly and severely confront ourselves once again with such questions. This year, in my Late Middle Ages, is the year of my second Saturn Return. Once again, I feel the challenging impulse of Saturn to a renewed self-discipline, focus, concentration, limit and order. As with my first Saturn Return, it has not been an easy time – there have been depressions, blockages and obstructions at work, frustrations with projects, unusual tensions with old friends, physical injury, the death of a very dear friend – but I know that this second period of threshing and winnowing in my biography, under the eyes of this hard taskmaster, can bestow something of great value, as happened 29½ years ago, if I can but pay attention and learn the lesson.


(1) J T Fraser, Time the Familiar Stranger, 1986, p.348
(2) Hegel, Preface to The Philosophy of Right. The owl was the bird of Minerva, or Pallas Athene, and was a symbol of wisdom and deep thought.
(3) Hegel, Philosophy of Nature, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 11.
(4) Viewed from the Earth, the physical orbit of the Moon and the apparent orbit  of the Sun are inclined at an angle to one another and intersect in two places. When the Moon is physically at one of these two intersecting points, and at the same moment is in a straight line with the Earth and Sun, this is called a lunar node. This special alignment occurs every 18.6 years  (18.5996 years, or 6793.5 days to be more exact). When a person is born, their body, soul and spirit unite on the earth. Traditionally, Earth, Moon and Sun were associated with body, soul and spirit, and so a person’s birth was understood as a moment when the different aspects of these three heavenly bodies were in a spiritual ‘alignment’. Of course the physical astronomical alignment does not occur with each person’s birth, but its recurring rhythm of 18.6 years was seen as applicable to every human birth, repeating itself throughout a person’s life. The moment of birth is the moment we take up the journey of our earthly destiny, and the occurrence through our life of our lunar nodes can be seen as moments that can reveal something of our destiny in a special way, when seemingly outer events appear to shape something of our lives. When each lunar node occurs in a person’s life, something of their true earthly destiny shines strongly into their life, illuminating and quickening it.
(5) ‘On Astrology’   – “Physical Qualities”, in Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind: Being Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971); excerpt, pp. 37-38.
(6) This remarkable phenomenon was only discovered in 1980/81. For picture, see
(7) Trithemius, A Treatise on the Seven Secondary Causes i.e. Intelligences, or Spirits, who Move the Spheres according to God (published 1515, written 1508). The seven archangels, according to Trithemius, were Oriphiel (archangel of Saturn), Anael (Venus), Zacharial (Jupiter), Raphael (Mercury), Samael (Mars), Gabriel (Moon), and Michael (Sun). This order corresponds to the days of the week going backward from Saturday. These are also the names of the seven archangels referred to by Rudolf Steiner, with one exception, an esoteric lecture of 26.10.07  in Hamburg, where he included both Oriphiel and Uriel in the list of seven archangels (R. Steiner, From the Esoteric School, Esoteric Lessons 1904-1909 GA 266/1). He does this nowhere else in the Esoteric Lessons, and it is possible that this was a stenographic error, made at a time when the stenography of Steiner’s lectures was not as secure as in later years. Furthermore, it is of note that on that occasion, the name Uriel appears next to that of Oriphiel in the list of the angles of the cycles of time, and the order given (Anael, Samael, Oriphiel, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, Michael) corresponds to no other such order in Steiner’s works and lectures.
(8) From the song ‘The Grudge’ by the rock band Tool on the album Lateralus, 2002
(9) The seven names mentioned by Rudolf Steiner parallel those cited by Trithemius (see n. 7 above). D.Tyson, editor of  Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s  Three Books of Occult Philosophy, notes that other names, besides Oriphiel and Uriel, have been  attributed to the archangel of the sphere of Saturn  – Zaphkiel (Yehuda ben Barzillai 12th cent.), Cassiel (Pietro d’Abano 13th cent.) Phanuel (Book of Enoch 40:9). Indeed, the names of the seven main archangels vary considerably over the ages; only Michael and Gabriel tend to remain constant in lists of the seven archangels. Uriel has been confused with many other archangels besides the above-mentioned three, such as  Suriel, Jeremiel, Sariel, Puruel, Jehoel, Azrael and Israfil. To find one’s way through such confusion, one needs to contemplate the attributes of the being in question. In the case of Oriphiel/Uriel, the archangel who is associated with the spiritual sphere of Saturn, one sees repeatedly the attributes of fire, light, enlightenment, head, cosmic intelligence, memory, judgment of error, severity, censure, wrath. See, for example, Uriel’s ‘severe enlightenment’ of  Ezra in the apocryphal book 2 Esdras (ch. 3-14)
(10) S.O.Prokofieff, The Twelve Holy Nights and the Hierarchies, p.115
(11) Oct. 1923, Collected Works GA 29
(12) “Sanskrit scholar Maurice Bloomfield referred to Rta as “one of the most important religious conceptions of the Rig Veda”, going on to note that, “from the point of view of the history of religious ideas we may, in fact we must, begin the history of Hindu religion at least with the history of this conception” ( Maurice Bloomfield, The Religion of the Veda, (1908) pp.12-13
(13) See R.Steiner, Karmic Relationships Vol. III, lecs. of 1st and 8th August, 1924 (Collected Works GA 237)

Last updated 16.7.2012