A New Zoology

The early Paleozoic era as the "Hyperborean" age


The following passage is from Popplebaum, A New Zoology, p.25:

The picture (of life and consciousness during the Cambrian) changes with the emergence, in the Ordovician period, of the first fishes. A step of prime importance is taken. The organization provides its bearer for the first time with a dynamic "system of reference". An interior skeleton with the backbone as the principal axis is formed. Significantly enough, some of the oldest forms (Ostracoderms) are still armored, imitating, as if through misunderstanding their time, the pattern of the shelled rulers of a previous epoch. The fishes dominate the Paleozoic epoch, the spiritual counterpart of which is called, in Rudolf Steiner's terminology, the Hyperborean age of life earth [Occult Science, an Outline: Chapter 4]

It is not too difficult to imagine the phase of consciousness of which the form of the fish is the manifestation. This phase is still characterized by an uninterrupted stream of the surrounding element into and through the being. The water enters the fish and pulsates through its breathing gills. The segmentation of the body is like an after-echo of the breathing process, together with the reverberations of the water along the scale-covered surface. There is even a "lateral line" along which special sense organs open up. With their aid, the fish " smacks and feels" his way, but in fact the lateral line is a part of the auditory organ and corresponds to the inner ear of the higher vertebrates. Here again is a telling fact. The fish listens in to the world of water and all its occurrences. No longer has it the complete abandonment of the clam. The fish knows of its world (physical and spiritual) as we know ours in a slight slumber, pervaded by quiet dreams of being carried along.

This epoch (the Hyperborean age) is clearly mirrored in the Paleozoic strata and their various enclosures. We learn to understand in which sense man, at this time, "passed through the stage of the fish". Tt is true for his consciousness, but not true when taken literally and materially. For those entities whose remnants we find in extinct fishes belonged to man's companions, that ceased to progress at this stage. Man, protected from embodiment, continued his inward development [H. Poppelbaum: Man and Animal, Chapter 3]. [note]

Hermann Popplebaum, A New Zoology, 1961, Philosophic-Anthroposphic Press, Dornach/Switzerland

note: according to Steiner and his followers man evolved as a spiritual being first, and the rest of the nature kingdoms emanated from him.  See the Anthroposophist interpretation of evolution 

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page uploaded 17 December 1999, relocated, last modified 23 December 2001