the Virgin and Mother Earth
by Juan Antonio Revilla
How do we picture the earth? When we say "the earth", what do we imagine? And when we say "the earth as a planet", what do we imagine? Is the earth, "our planet", really a planet? What is the earth? - We never ask ourselves these questions, because we take the answers for granted. But what we take for granted are most of the time abstractions that were told to us when we were children, we were told that those abstraction are reality, that what we see with our eyes is wrong, it is not true, it is a deception. The result is that we never pay attention to what we observe, or never observe at all, because we feel quite happy with our abstractions, they make us feel safe. That's why Steiner describes Man as a cosmic hermit that carries his little cave everywhere, and when we dream we are a lot closer to reality that when we are living in our acquired or borrowed world of abstractions.
We believe that when we are looking at a picture of the earth taken from space, we are looking at the earth, but we aren't, we are only looking at a flat, lifeless picture on a sheet of paper. And the astronauts who took the picture, were they seeing the earth? The answer is no!, they can't possibly do that because their eyes and whole body cannot exist at all, cannot live, in outer space. No human eye can look at the earth from outer space. To take the picture, astronauts must first be inside a capsule or a space suit which replicate the earth conditions for them, so what they are doing is observe the earth from a window while their eyes are inside this second, transplanted earth. From inside this compressed earth that protects their body, they are looking at a window that presents to them an image of the earth, they are looking at a diminutive earth from inside a window in their own compressed, mechanically artificial earth.
And what do they see? They see a clearly delimited surface that appears curved, concave on their side, convex on the opposite side. This curved surface rotates --or they move around-- so they see its features appear on one side and disappear on the other. After observing for some time how the same features appear and disappear repeatedly, the idea of a sphere (or more accurately, a spheroid) is formed in the mind, even though the sphere can never be perceived by the eyes. As the distance increases (for example, when observed from the Moon), the three-dimensional surface features as well as the curvature become completely two-dimensional and the original concave surface becomes a flat circle, until with increasing distance it becomes a uni-dimensional point. All this time, the astronaut is inside his capsule or space suit, surrounded by death. If he leaves his capsule, he immediately dies.
The astronaut is living inside this purely mechanical reproduction of earth, and he looses his grounding (gravity); he depends totally and absolutely on a machine. It is exactly like the situation of a fetus inside the mother's womb and amniotic fluid, except that the mother is in this case a machine, and outside of it there is nothing but emptiness and death. Far from leaving earth, the astronaut has come inside an artificial, mechanical world, he has entered into a sub-earth. Instead of leaving the earth --which would be possible only by leaving his body-- the astronaut has sunk deep into a dead world dominated by mechanical forces "below" the earth, a sub-world dominated by machine-entities that have complete control on the astronaut's life. Unlike the human eye which is selfless and translucid, everything the astronaut sees is determined by what the machine inside of which he is living can see.
This sub-earth has very little to do with what we experience as "earth" in our daily lives. The tragedy is that today this abstract view from (or of) outer space is what most people imagine "earth" is, and as a result we utterly ignore what we all actually can see directly with our own eyes. We have an heliocentric abstract picture of the solar system that we take for granted and is one of the greatest obstacles we face when trying to understand the world around us, including the phenomena of the sky and the phenomena belonging to what the ancients called "the underworld". Instead of learning to read the world-script ourselves, we borrow abstract concepts and call them "knowledge"; but we can re-educate our brain and learn to observe and think more organically, as was explained systematically and extensively by Rudolf Steiner.
I would like to attempt now to follow that path and see how it can help me understand what "earth" really is.