One important aspect indicated by Rudolf Steiner is that Sophia is a cosmic being, whose nature embraces the whole cosmos. Thus, when we contemplate the starry heavens, or even an image of the galaxy, we are able to gain insights into Sophia, who holds the blueprint for creation. Our Sun, and all the different Suns/stars in our galaxy, have ultimately all come into existence from the galactic center at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy.1 In the Platonic tradition reference is made to the Transmundane or Supra-Celestial Sun2 and our Sun is conceived of as a miniature copy of this Transmundane or Supra-Celestial Sun - here we could also say Central Sun, if we identify Plato's Supra-Celestial Sun with the galactic center.3 Could it be that Plato, in referring to the Transmundane Sun, had an inkling of the heart of our galaxy, conceived of as a Central Sun from which, ultimately, everything in our Milky Way galaxy has proceeded?

Let us consider - along the lines of Platonic cosmology - that there is a Central Sun at the heart of our galaxy. However we designate what is at the galactic center, it is of immense power, as may be grasped by way of the following analogy. If one imagines the force exerted by our Sun in holding the nine planets4 and countless asteroids and other cosmic objects in their orbits, one will get a sense of the power and majesty of our Sun. Now, if we think along the lines of Platonic cosmology of a Central Sun at the galactic center, the scope of its power is such as to hold more than one hundred billion Suns (not planets!), in their orbits around it, including our Sun!

To explain this immense power, modern astronomy postulates the existence of a "supermassive black hole" at the center of our galaxy. We have to bear in mind that this is a theoretical construction of modern astronomy. Moreover, from my perspective it is an inadequate theoretical explanation of what takes place at the transition point from the realm of material creation to the realm of pure spirit. The alternative perspective that is offered here is that at the galactic center there is a Central Sun (Plato's Supra-Celestial Sun) and that all the Suns/stars in the heavens, including our Sun, are - ultimately - offspring of the Central Sun.

By way of analogy and in support of this alternative perspective, let us consider Rudolf Steiner's description of our Sun, and then apply this on a galactic level to the Central Sun at the heart of our galaxy. This is actually how one can arrive at a true concept of what is at the galactic center (rather than the current inadequate concept of a "black hole"). This true concept is offered by Steiner in at least three different lecture cycles.5 In one of them, the Astronomy Course, he gives indications concerning the interior of the Sun: moving from the outside toward its center, it declines more and more in its physical-material composition to eventually become what he calls "negative, sucking matter". Hence, he says, our Sun exerts a tremendous sucking force and "then you do not need any other explanation of gravity than this, as this is already the explanation of gravity."6 (He means, of course, the gravity exerted by our Sun to hold all the planets and other heavenly bodies in their orbits around the Sun). And elsewhere he says: "I have often said that the physicist would be greatly astonished if he could travel to the Sun and find there nothing of what he now imagines, but simply a hollow space; nay, even a hollow space of suction which annihilates everything within it. A space indeed that is less than hollow. A hollow space merely receives what is put into it; but the Sun is a hollow space of such a nature that anything brought to it is immediately absorbed and disappears."7 Here, in these words, Rudolf Steiner gives a true concept in place of that of a "black hole". This concept given by Rudolf Steiner to explain the gravitational pull exerted by our Sun can, by way of analogy, also be applied to describe on a much vaster scale the working of the Central Sun at the heart of our galaxy, which has been inadequately described as a "supermassive black hole". It is the "tremendous sucking force" of the Central Sun that holds all the billions of Suns/stars in their orbits in our Milky Way galaxy. The Central Sun at rest at the galactic center, around which all the Suns/stars are moving in a clockwise direction, is evidently what Aristotle called the Prime Mover.8 Everything in our galaxy is moving around this great center.

Raymond Mardyks Copyright 1986


Now we are in a better position to understand what the galactic center is. When we look up to the constellation of Sagittarius, we behold - traced out by the pattern of the stars - the figure of an Archer who is aiming his arrow. It is an extraordinary fact that his arrow is aimed directly at the galactic center (located at 2° Sagittarius), where an extraordinarily intensive point of infra-red light has been discovered.9 This energy source, approximately 50 light years in diameter - called Sagittarius A* - has been identified as the actual center of our Milky Way galaxy. Located some 25,000 light years from our solar system, it is estimated that this energy source is about 500 million times more powerful than our Sun. From here emanates the power that holds our galaxy of more than 100 billion stars together. This is the Central Sun, if we adhere to the conception of Platonic cosmology, i.e. the Transmundane or Supra-Celestial Sun described by Plato as the source or origin of all the Suns/stars in the cosmos.

All the stars that we see in the heavens are Suns, like our Sun. All of them rotate slowly in a clockwise direction around the Central Sun, "Like a wheel that is evenly moved by the love that moves the Sun and the other stars."10 In light of Dante's words: Could it be the fire of Divine Love emanating from the Central Sun that supports and sustains all the Suns/stars in the heavens such that it is literally "Love that makes the world go round"?

To gain an idea of the immensity of the Central Sun at the heart of our galaxy, let us imagine a second Sun alongside our Sun. And then in our imagination let us add a third Sun, and a fourth Sun, and a fifth Sun ... and so on, until there are 500 million Suns there. This imaginative exercise can offer us a glimpse of the power, majesty, and glory of the Central Sun at the galactic center, which holds more than one hundred billion Suns/stars in their orbits around it.

Daniel Andreev once had a vision of the galactic center, which he called Astrofire, and which he describes in The Rose of the World:

I remember seeing a glowing mist of stunning majesty, as though the creative heart of our universe had revealed itself to me in visible form for the first time. It was Astrofire, the great center of our galaxy.11

Moreover, Divine Sophia has something to do with this great center, as we shall see below.


Illustration to Dante's Divine Comedy, Paradiso by Gustave Doré:
Dante and Beatrice beholding the Empyrean in the form of a snow-white rose
(Empyrean derives from the Ancient Greek word "pyr" meaning fire,
which reminds us of Daniel Andreev's expression "Astrofire" for the galactic center)

Let us look back to someone who had a deep relationship with Sophia: the Italian poet Dante. In Dante's vision, which he had at Easter in the year 1300 and which he spent the rest of his life writing down as The Divine Comedy, he beheld the highest realm. In Dante's vision of the highest heaven he calls this highest realm the Empyrean, signifying a realm of fire - the fire of Divine Love. Let us now contemplate the depiction by the French graphic artist Gustav Doré of Dante's vision of the Empyrean (see above), and let us then compare this with an image of our Milky Way galaxy (see below). One can immediately see the similarity. It appears that what Dante beheld in mystical (inner) vision has now been found outwardly by modern astronomy - in the shape of our galaxy - seven hundred years later. Dante describes in his vision the throne of God at the center and countless beings around the throne of God. According to Dante, the whole is fashioned in the form of "a snow-white rose".

An image of the Milky Way galaxy


Those who know the mystical tradition will recognize that this image invoked by Dante relates on a deeper level to Sophia. In the Litany of Loreto, for example, the Virgin Mary is referred to as the Mystical Rose and this appellation clearly applies also to Sophia, by way of her association with the Virgin Mary.12 Further, often the Virgin Mary and the Christ child are found in the central rosette of the glorious rose windows in French Gothic cathedrals, thus associating the Virgin - and, again by way of association, Sophia - with the image of the rose. It is as if the creators of the rose windows were inspired by the same archetype spoken of by Dante as the "snow-white rose". Moreover, in the mystical tradition the creation itself is seen as a rose that is unfolding or blossoming over the six days of creation - this rose being Sophia, who is the plan of the creation and is thus called Rosa Mundi - the Rose of the World. In contemplating an image of our galaxy, what are we actually beholding? Are we on some level beholding an image of Sophia in the form of a snow-white rose? Is Sophia, as the wisdom or plan of creation, one and the same with what we see revealed in the structure of our galaxy? Considering that Sophia - according to her own words from the Book of Proverbs - has always had a relationship with our evolution "from the beginning of creation", is it reasonable to conclude that Sophia is a being connected with the heart of our galaxy, the galactic center being the source or origin of the entire creation of our Milky Way galaxy?

One of the important things that Rudolf Steiner indicated was that the being whom we call Sophia is the same as the goddess whom the Egyptians called Isis.13 We know of the great significance of Isis for the Egyptian culture and also of the significance of Osiris. Isis and Osiris were regarded as sister and brother and also as bride and groom. If we take this idea of Rudolf Steiner and work with it, that Sophia is the same as Isis, then whom were the Egyptians referring to as Osiris? In various lectures Steiner describes that Osiris was how the Egyptian people saw Christ before his incarnation on the earth. We could think of this as a pre-incarnatory revelation of Christ to the Egyptian people in the form of Osiris, before Christ incarnated on the earth. Against this background we can understand the words of St. Augustine, who indicated that there was a "Christianity before Christ".14 And this applies not only to the Egyptians, but to other cultures as well.

Although Christ appeared only later, he was always present in the spiritual sphere of the earth. Already in the ancient Oracles of Atlantis, the priests of those Oracles spoke of the "Spirit of the Sun", of Christ. In the old Indian epoch of civilization the Holy Rishis spoke of "Vishva Karman"; Zarathustra in ancient Persia spoke of "Ahura Mazdao", Hermes [in Egypt spoke] of "Osiris"; and Moses spoke of the Power which, being eternal, brings about the harmonization of the temporal and natural, the Power living in the "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh" (I AM the I AM) as the harbinger of Christ. All spoke of the Christ.15

If we grasp this background concerning the ancient Egyptian mystery religion of Isis and Osiris, we can begin to understand that the Egyptians were indeed "Christians before Christ". Before Christ came into incarnation on the earth, they worshipped him in his pre-incarnatory form as Osiris. The Egyptians recognized that Osiris and Isis have a deep relationship to one other; they are the same beings whom we know now, in the post-Christian era, as Christ and Sophia. This is addressed in the revelation to John, the last book in the Bible, which is the revelation of the Ascended Christ to John the beloved disciple on the island of Patmos. It is clear that the one who is called the "Lamb" in Revelations is Christ. That is also the name that John the Baptist gave to Christ, as indicated in John's words: "Behold the Lamb of God" (John 1:29). In Chapter 21 of Revelations reference is made to the "Bride of the Lamb" who is Sophia. In conclusion, then, if Sophia is associated with the Central Sun at the heart of our galaxy, then so also is Christ, and thus the Central Sun is the provenance, originally, of both the Lamb and his Bride, who is called the Mystical Rose (Rosa Mundi), the Rose of the World.

1 New stars are born in different parts of the galaxy, yet they are offspring of stellar regions which originally were born from the galactic center, and in this sense the center of our galaxy is the Ultimate Source for all existence in the Milky Way galaxy.

2 Reference to the Intelligible Sun, i.e., not the visible Sun but the Sun belonging to the intelligible world, as the source of Divine Goodness is found in Book VI of Plato's Republic (509b). Immediately after, at the start of Book VII, in the famous allegory of the cave, the Supra-Celestial Sun is indicated to be the source of truth and intelligence, and the visible Sun, together with its light, is said to be an offspring thereof: "In the visible realm it gave birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence" (517b-c). Subsequently this reference recurs often in the Platonic tradition. For example, the Neoplatonist Proclus refers to the Supermundane Sun in his Commentary on Plato's Timaeus: "There is the true Solar World and the Totality of Light [where] the Sun, also being Supermundane, sends forth the Fountains of Light" - Proclus, Commentary on Timaeus, in: The Chaldean Oracles (Fintry/UK: Shrine of Wisdom, 1979), p. 45.

3 The term Central Sun is a simplification of Plato's Transmundane Sun or Supra-Celestial Sun. The term Central Sun - conceptually identical with Plato's Supra-Celestial Sun - brings to expression its central location, i.e., its location at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Note that Plato himself did not explicitly use the expressions Intelligible Sun, Transmundane Sun, Supermundane Sun, or Supra-Celestial Sun, but these expressions, which were used in the Platonic tradition, are implicit in Plato's work and are employed by later commentators on Plato's works when referring to the Sun in the intelligible world spoken of by Plato.

4 Nine planets, including Pluto, or eight planets, if Pluto is no longer considered to be a planet - see my article "Pluto and the Galactic Center":

5 See, for example, Rudolf Steiner's lecture of January 18, 1921 as part of the Astronomy Course (Complete Works vol. 323 - not yet [2008] published in English translation).

6 Ibid.

7 Rudolf Steiner, Man - Hieroglyph of the Universe (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), p. 47.

8 In his work Metaphysics, Book Lambda, Aristotle calls the source of all movement the Prime Mover, which is at rest at the center of all movement around it.

9 The two-dimensional image of the Archer aiming his arrow at the galactic center has to be thought of in three dimensions in order to grasp that the two-dimensional perspective is really an optical illusion, since the visible stars making up the constellation of Sagittarius are relatively close to our solar system (the most distant stars - with some exceptions - being not more than a few thousand light years away), whereas the galactic center is located at an enormous distance of about 25,000 light years.

10 Dante, The Divine Comedy: Paradise 33:144-145.

11 Daniel Andreev, The Rose of the World (Great Barrington/MA: Lindisfarne Books, 1997), p. 198.

12 Thomas Schipflinger, Sophia-Maria (York Beach/ME: Samuel Weiser, 1998).

13 Rudolf Steiner, Isis-Mary-Sophia: Her Mission and Ours (Great Barrington/MA: Steiner Books, 2003).

14 St. Augustine: "That which is known as the Christian religion existed among the ancients" (Retractiones I, xiii).

15 Rudolf Steiner, The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers.

Lucifer, Ahriman, Asuras, lecture of March 22, 1909 (Complete Works, vol. 107)


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