In this book, editor Paul O'Leary, along with his co-contributors, attempts to explain and expand upon selected remarks from Rudolf Steiner concerning the chthonic regions of the Earth.
The starting material is Steiner's statement (not given in the book) of Sept. 4, 1906, in his GA 95: "At the Gates of Spiritual Science." In lecture #14 of the series he describes the nature of the inner layers of the earth (see below).
These remarks are peculiar for two main reasons.
One, although Steiner is famous for observations that push the limits of what constitutes ordinary common sense and which force reevaluation of conventional wisdom, the remarks in question are so "out there" as to be uncharacteristic even for him.
Two, on the face of it, and as far as I can determine (enough to warrant this review) they are, as literally stated and as a practical matter, false. An excruciating amount of mental gymnastics is required to make sense of them, and this, only in the light of consistent personal experience in those realms. Steiner's own prefatory remark is itself false and untrue, unsupported by himself as well as by any current ethnographical and anthropological research that I am aware of, unless it be by the uncomplimentary indications of the Aztec demonology.
The authors involved, however, do not attempt a critical analysis of the starting-point text, but take Steiner's highly difficult esoteric remarks at mundane face value and proceed to extrapolate them into speculations which are at no point referenced back to personally vetted or vouched experience. As a result, the overall impression gained from a reading of the book is that the interior of the Earth is an evil place which no one in their right mind would or should dare to experience.
One explanation of Steiner's remarks, one that none of the authors consider, is that the characteristics of the "Nine Layers" as he describes them are only the initiatory threshold barriers of the actual realms, realms which embody both the past developmental history and the current foundational basis for all that transpires in the ordinary natural world. As such, these realms are no more and no less divine than the ones which surround us in the outer cosmos. Thus, to consider those realms as adequately and fully described by Steiner in this excerpt - as the authors do - is to succumb to the illusion that the projected shadow of the fallen consciousness is the real thing. Steiner does have other remarks about the inner nature of the Earth which O'Leary does not cite, either in this book nor in his other two edited books on the same subject, remarks, which if taken into account, would force some serious rethinking of his position.
Neither O'Leary or his contributors make reference to any of the other spiritual pathways which might shed light on the subject nor do they make any attempt at reconciling their views with those many alternate perspectives in which the Earth is _not_ composed of progressive layers of evil. Their perspective is dominated exclusively by the small closed circle of self-referential anthroposophy. A hundred years on, this is fatally limiting.
Two stars for an exemplary case study of backfired attempt at initiation. An extended analysis of Stiener's text and the book under review from: firstname.lastname@example.org
"The occult science of all epochs says the following about the interior of the earth....
1. The topmost layer, the mineral mass, is related to the interior as an eggshell is to the egg. This topmost layer is called the Mineral Earth.
2. Under it is a second layer, called the Fluid Earth; it consists of a substance to which there is nothing comparable on Earth. It is not really like any of the fluids we know, for all these have a mineral quality. This layer has specific characteristics: its substance begins to display certain spiritual qualities, which consist in the fact that as soon as it is brought into contact with something living, it strives to expel and destroy this life. The occultist is able to investigate this layer by pure concentration.
3. The "Air Earth". This is a substance, which annuls feelings: for instance, if it is brought into contact with any pain, the pain is converted into pleasure, and vice versa. The original form of feeling is, so to speak extinguished, rather as the second layer extinguishes life.
4. The "Water Earth", or "Form Earth". It produces in the material realm the effects that occur spiritually in Devachan.
5. There, we have the negative pictures of physical things. In the "Form Earth" a cube of salt, for example, would be destroyed, but its negative would arise. The form is as it were changed into its opposite; all its qualities would pass out into its surroundings. The actual space occupied by the object is left empty.
6. The "Fruit Earth." This substance is full of exuberant energy. Every little part of it grows out at once like a sponge; it gets larger and larger and is held in place only by the upper layers. It is the underlying life which serves the forms of the layers above it.
7. The "Fire Earth." Its substance is essentially feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if it were trodden on. It consists, as it were, entirely of passions.
8. The "Earth-mirror" or "Earth-reflector". This layer gets its name from the fact that its substance, if one concentrates on it, changes all the characteristics of the earth into their opposites. If the seer disregards everything lying above it and gazes down directly into this layer, and if then, for example, he places something green before him, the green appears as red; every color appears as its complementary opposite. A polaric reflection arises, a reversal of the original. Sorrow would be changed by this substance into joy.
8. The "Divisive" layer. If with developed power one concentrates on it, something very remarkable appears. For example, a plant held in the midst of this layer appears to be multiplied, and so with everything else. But the essential thing is that this layer disrupts the moral qualities also. Through the power it radiates to the Earth's surface, it is responsible for the fact that strife and disharmony exist there. In order to overcome this disruptive force, men must work together in harmony.
That is precisely why this layer was laid down in the Earth - so that men should be enabled to develop harmony for themselves. The substance of everything evil is prepared and organized there. Quarrelsome people are so constituted that this layer has a particular influence on them. This has been known to everyone who has written out of a true knowledge of occultism. Dante in his Divine Comedy calls this layer the Cain-layer. It was here that the strife between the brothers Cain and Abel had its source. The substance of this layer is responsible for evil having come into the world.
9. The "earth-core." This is the substance through whose influence black magic arises in the world. The power of spiritual evil comes from this source."