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The Migrations of the Races

A lecture by
Rudolf Steiner
Berlin, n.d., 1904
GA Unknown
(245? or B12?)

For this lecture, the date is unknown, the GA# is unknown, and the translator is unknown! It was given in Berlin, at sometime during 1904.

This English edition is published in agreement with, and the permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.
Please reference the article, Three Misleading Concepts at the Waldorf Answers site for a clearer understanding of the concept of race in Steiner's works.

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Rudolf Steiner

Berlin, n.d. 1904

If we want to have a picture in our minds of the migrations of the Fifth Root Race (Aryan), we must realize at the very outset that it is difficult to see clearly in this chaos. Descendants of many earlier races have continued to exist among us, and even in the Fourth Root Race (Atlantean) there was a population which spread out like rays and was itself mixed with descendants of other races. The peoples of Southern Asia are remains of the population of ancient Lemuria, whose descendants are still to be found in the interior of Australia. Remains of the Fourth Root Race (Atlantean) are to be found in Western and Northern Asia and in Southern Europe. That is the soil into which the branches of the Fifth Root Race (Aryan) were implanted.

Thus we have to do with the product of two streams: the Lemurian-Aryan on the one side, and the Atlantean-Aryan on the other. But all these civilizations have absorbed into themselves an even more ancient civilization. In Siberia, Scandinavia, Northern Russia, and China there are even remains of the Hyperborean civilization. These interminglings are difficult to unravel. We will try to follow the inroads of Aryan civilization.

This cultural civilizing process spread out radially from a point in Central Asia somewhere in the neighborhood of the Gobi and Shamo deserts. It was an eminently priestly culture, preparing a race of high spiritual development to penetrate into the chaos of the peoples, to send out colonies from which new civilizations were to arise. This small root-stock had arisen out of the Fifth Subrace (the Primal Semites) of the Fourth Root Race. We must bear in mind that to these Primal Semites was allotted the special mission laid down in the law of the Manu. (See note 1.) This law of the Manu was to bring to mankind over the widest possible area, what is expressed in the words of Jesus, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there, for behold the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17: 20 – 21) Everything earlier was only a preparation for this. It was what became the keynote of Christianity: the hallowing of the personality, the full descent to the physical plane.

From the beginning, the Manu attached very little value to that in the human being which extends beyond birth and death. Such teachings, which had been of great importance in earlier times, now glimmered away and gradually disappeared. The aim of the Manu of the Fifth Root Race was to lead men right down to the physical plane in order that they should be able to understand the physical heart, the physical brain, lungs, and so on. In the first three subraces, therefore, these teachings concerning what extends beyond birth and death, slowly faded away. For even a Manu cannot direct destinies and happenings according to his own will. He must bring everything to consummation in accordance with the great Laws of Nature. Two vistas lay before the Manu of the Fifth Root Race: the civilization that proceeded from the Lemurians and was still present in Southern Asia, and the remains of Atlantean civilization in Africa. Thither he sent out his colonies, accompanied by Priest-Initiates: one to India, the other to Africa. He sent with them the teaching of non-reincarnation, the teaching of the life between birth and death. (In the very oldest Vedas nothing is, in fact, contained about what extends beyond birth and death.) The Manu said to himself: peoples who know nothing of reincarnation will then come into contact with others who have intimate knowledge of it and the right result will be achieved. In Egypt, these colonists came into contact with the descendants of the Atlanteans, among whom the teaching of reincarnation was by no means of cardinal importance. For whereas this teaching had reached a very high stage of development among the Lemurians of the latest period, among the Atlanteans it had already become perverted. In the Atlanteans, memory was the goal and the consummation. Memory was so intense that it preponderated over everything else. Everything of a physical nature lived in the memory through heredity.

In this first exodus, therefore, we have two branches: The Indo-Aryans and the Hamites (in Africa). In India, the immigrant Indo-Aryans who brought with them the teaching of the God-revealed Word (Veda-Word), received the doctrine of reincarnation, and in Brahmanism this latter teaching exists in a very beautiful form. This was the result brought about by the Manu. Meanwhile, out of the suppressed Lemurians came the Pariahs (Sudras/Outcasts), out of the Indians, the four castes. The principle followed by the Initiates is: the mingling of what is new with what is already there — in this case the powerful manasic spirituality with the doctrine of reincarnation. In the Hamitic branch this doctrine fell more into the background, was outwardly less definite. The Egyptians attached greater importance to preservation of the corpses. The system of hereditary transmission which attaches the main value to physical continuity, was more accentuated. The value of the single life was emphasized and moulded the ancient Rishi teaching into a new form. A less definite doctrine of reincarnation mingled with the doctrine of personality.

The dispatch of a new branch constituted the second migration. We can follow this when, to begin with, we look toward the East and study the Medes and Persians, and then the racial stock which made its way through Chaldea and into history in the journeyings of Abraham. On the other side, the racial stock that went Westward also came into contact with the remains of Atlantean civilization — actually the fourth subrace, the Turanian (?Iranian?) population — which had engaged in agriculture.

A strange mixture was the result. By dint of vigorous effort, this racial stock was grafted upon the former Turanian people who in earlier times had practiced magic. From here came the teachings of the Medes and Bactrians. Here labored the first Initiates of Zarathustra, intent upon employing the outer accomplishments of the age of magic in the service of civilization. The result is an imposing development of agriculture and vine-cultivation. These activities constituted a revival, in a new form, of the ancient magical achievements.

Another branch of colonists went to the West and came upon the remains of the Atlantean Primal Semites — those who had been chosen out in the first place — and these form what is known as the ancient Semitic stock: Chaldeans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Arabians. They constitute a Neo-Semitic civilization. We find the happenings of most importance to begin with among the Medes and Persians. These happenings are recounted in an old story of which there have been many new versions and which we finally encounter in the figure of Cyrus. (See note 2.) One of the kings had a daughter, Mandane, who married, not a Mede but a Persian. The father dreamt that a tree grew from his daughter's body. The interpretation of the dream was that the Persian stock would overshadow the Median. The old story of Cyrus had a deeply esoteric significance. Cyrus is the representative of the Persians who are an agricultural people, in contrast to the Medes who are not, and the tree indicates that the agricultural civilization triumphs. The ancient civilization passes over to agriculture.

We can see from the organization and development of the Persian character how this process came to its consummation. The goal of the Persians was physical strength, physical vigor. In this region there were no Lemurians. It was the Atlanteans who had prepared for the development of personality. Among the Persians, emphasis was laid above all on personal qualities and virtues. A noteworthy characteristic is that instruction was given in telling the truth (Wahrheitsagen). This, as well as gymnastics, was a compulsory subject for boys. That is a very important point. It is a preparation which led to personal qualities and virtues reaching their zenith.

We now come to the region where the original Semitic element mingled with the new. Rishi-Priests migrated there and found decadent Primal Semites and also decadent Acadians. Thus the Manu founded a new branch by amalgamating his immigrants with the decadent Primal Semites — those who during the time of their prime in Atlantean Civilization had developed the art of arithmetic. The outcome was the wisdom of Chaldea: astrology, astronomy, astronomical observatories, the calendar, and principles of measure and weight. The immigrants who amalgamated with the ancient trading people, the Acadians, were used, in this combination, to create new colonies: the Phoenicians and the Tyrians.

A further Rishi colony of this kind, together with its adherents, went over to Europe. Here (in the north) it found the ancient Hyperborean element, and in the south, the Atlantean. In the distant past the Hyperboreans had already mingled with the Atlanteans and only very slight traces of them still remained. In the South of Europe there was practically nothing left of the Hyperborean strain. On the soil of ancient Greece there now arose the Pelasgian population, who practiced a kind of Nature worship, reminiscent in many respects of Egyptian culture, only here it was more a cult of locality than an ancestor cult. There were sacred trees and, sacred caves. Cult was connected with Nature. The belief prevailed that holiness was connected more with the place than with the racial stock. We find Zeus of Dodona, for example, and others. The physical place becomes sacred. That was a new development.

In Italy too, there was again a mingling on the physical plane of ancient Atlantean and Rishi civilizations. What had developed in the Atlanteans as their attitude to social life and their attachment to technical civilization made its way through to the social legislature and technical skill of the Etruscans.)

In the north, the mingling of Hyperborean and Rishi civilization produced the new Celtic Civilization. What had been found there originally was an Atlantean-Hyperborean element with which little could be done. It was necessary for a new impulse to be given, and the result was the mixing of the Celtic with the Druidic Culture. The reason why Druidic Culture had so much spirituality was because it was still able to absorb the sublime spirituality that surpassed the Atlantean and the Lemurian. Because the Celtic element had the Hyperborean strain in it, it could not hold its own and petered out in the subsequent civilizations.

We come now to the third, very complicated migration. Part of it penetrates into what had been prepared by the first two. Indications of it have been preserved in the lore of the different peoples — wherever in the traditions, [are] men of great strength and are in the foreground. In this third migration a group of Initiates went to the west and once again fructified the Primal Semitic element that had already received a similar impulse once before. For it was a matter of bringing together everything that had originally been poured into this element, into the great idea of the organization of States. The result of this third migration is recorded in Genesis, in the Old Testament. A further branch of it went across to Asia Minor and there gave rise to what is contained in the Trojan civilization as well as in its settlements, one of which is that of Alba Longa. (south of Rome) The task of these Initiates was to take in hand the formation of States suitable for the different peoples.

We have therefore come to know three groups of Initiates, the task of the first having been to create religious culture, the task of the second to create the foundations of material culture, and the task of the third to build the foundations for the State, to galvanize passions. This takes place in forms adapted to the different peoples as in Troy or Alba Longa, or in the theocratic State, Palestine. But in reality these were only preparations, made among people who were not in any way qualified for the task of organizing States. This activity is least successful in the very people most qualified through its civilization to carry the outer form of organization out on to the physical plane. The Greeks are preeminently an artistic people. The personal in its highest form, given expression on the physical plane — this is Art. Among the Greeks, the Initiate of the third group is the Hero, the man of strength.

Over in Asia, mixtures had repeatedly taken place, and the Jews, the people who had received the highest form of the law, were of such a mixed strain that they were already hypertrophied. On the other hand, in Europe, in Central Italy, the mixing had been less complicated. We find there a very strong Atlantean element. The Etruscan colony, working together with Alba Longa, the priestly State, had brought Rome into existence. Here there was a simple racial stock, containing very much of the Atlantean element. The two impulses had succeeded in establishing what is called Etruscan-Roman Civilization, with the priestly element that led inevitably to the institution of the Pontifex Maximus. Conditions were simple and could produce the people of the Roman Republic, the people who developed personal valor purely for its own sake. The Roman Citizen, the cives, was the man whole and complete, who felt himself entirely as personal man. The Greeks felt themselves above all as men of wisdom, as artists. When they set about cultivating those things that proceed most definitely from personality — oratory and rights — they were bound to decline. It is in Rome that civil law, oratory, and eloquence are brought to the highest stage of perfection. The Greek had foreshadowed how the perfected personality develops, by portraying it in his gods. In his own person the Roman presents the personality that is complete in itself as the citizen, the real man. The works of the Greek sculptors rise again as it were in the Romans and become life.

In Rome, therefore, something was being prepared which the Spiritual Leaders could use in order to give a further impulse. For this, spiritual life at its highest level was needed, and it was only to be found where the greatest number of spiritual impulses had been given, namely in Asia Minor. Spirit had there been grafted on Spirit.

Let us recapitulate:

  • The original impulses from the Fifth Subrace of the Atlanteans — the Primal Semites — given to the First Subrace of the Aryan Root Race.
  • The migration into the region of the Euphrates and Tigris
  • The Patriarchal Age (the Age of Heroes).
  • The Theocratic State.

This wonderful interplay came to expression in every branch of the spiritual life. The new impulse could proceed only from a personality who came from afar, not out of the home country itself. The family out of which an Initiate was to issue was selected with great care by the spiritual guidance of the world. The ancient Rishi Culture had made preparation for and proclaimed in advance, the Initiate who was to come. (This was recorded in the Sibylline books.) Thus preparation for the Messiah of the Fourth Subrace is made in concealment, removed from Judaism, in Galilee. Judaism had never had a strong footing in Galilee, had never really penetrated there. The racial character of the Galileans was very mixed. (See note 3.) He (the Messiah) must have nothing of the Galilean element in him. He must come from a hidden source. Hence the Apocryphal writings allege that he was a “mothers child.” (See note 4.) This was Jesus of Nazareth, the Galilean. He was a Chela of the third degree of Initiation. It was now a matter of making him into the highest Initiate for all that was to be fulfilled on the physical plane. This was achieved through the whole personality being taken possession of by another Being, the Christ, who represents the whole Fifth Root Race. The whole Fifth Root Race emerged in the Fourth Subrace. This is represented symbolically by the descent of the Dove. Only the most sublime imagery could be used to express the truths which apply here.

The Manu resolved: I will make the Fourth Subrace into a confluence of all earlier impulses and endow it with the Spirit of the whole Fifth Root Race. This can be done by Christ alone, who is the actual impulse of the Fifth Root Race. The Manu had made the preparation. Christ entered into what had thus been prepared. The revelation of the real secret of the Fourth Subrace was to be made. In earlier times it had only been prepared for. The highest Initiates had actually seen it. The others had prepared for it. This was “the darkness into which came the light.”

When we survey the course of the whole development, we find that the preparation was made through the fact of personality being evolved gradually in the first three subraces. Until in the Fourth Subrace (the Greco-Roman) the innermost essence of personality is laid hold of, and becomes the principle making all men equal before God.

Christ is the inner, divine principle. He must pour Himself into the existing forms, taking the form of the law from the theocratic State, from Judaism. Judaism could not accept the new form. It had its own, which was the highest existing form of the law. But Christ had perforce to accept it, since He was to be made manifest by degrees on the physical plane. Therefore He uttered His wisdom through the form of the wisdom of ancient Judaism. But this wisdom had to be understood. It could be understood where men had already mastered the explanation of the phenomena of the physical plane, where they had philosophy. That is why the first Church Fathers derive from the Greeks. In their philosophy they had developed the possibility of understanding what now appeared on the physical plane. When the new Spiritual Will manifested in the personality, they were also able to understand this personality. The people who had portrayed a Zeus, who in their art of sculpture had bodied forth a god, were also able to understand the idea of the incarnated God. To begin with, this idea could become life through what developed out of the Roman people. The man who had evolved the personality (the Roman) could make this idea very life. The Christ is given form in the Jewish people, but is comprehended only through the Greek Gnosis and through the Greek Apostle and the Greek Evangelist John. But none of this could have led to the spread of Christianity on the physical plane. It could have led at most to an understanding of it. The Romans who assimilate Greek culture, destroy Jerusalem, go to Asia, and become Christians.

  • The Jews provide form for Christ
  • The Greeks understand Christ
  • The Romans become Christians

Hence Christianity began to spread only after the destruction of Jerusalem and had a definitely Roman form. In Rome, the physical framework for the Christians was already prepared and was the State which had already founded a world empire. The priest who ruled it was the Pontifex Maximus.

So much for the Fourth subrace. We have seen that it had been carefully prepared. The Fifth Subrace was at this time still in the process of developing.

We have come to the culminating point — or the center. The Teachers who now follow have to preserve what has come into being and put it into application again on the physical plane. It is now a matter of certain Initiates elaborating for individuals the culmination already attained. Thus the Christian tradition is preserved in the Brotherhood of the Holy Grail. Christianity is involved in a process of continual degeneration. New impulses have therefore continually to be given from what is known as Montsalvat, the Grail. These impulses assume different characters. Again it is Rishis who now experience the teaching in a Christian form and want always to protect the original Christianity from degenerating.

In this way, manifold attempts to bring about regeneration were made. The first attempt leads back to an Initiate who as yet could play no real role in history because on this soil, previous history is still present. He is, however, named in tradition. He is the “Apostle of Germany” — Boniface. (See note 5.) From this stems the adaptation of the original form in which Christianity from Ireland came to Germany, with a mixture of Druidic culture, Irish influence, the impulse of Dionysius the Areopagite.

A new impulse and a new possibility were created through the Initiate who is given the name of “Lohengrin.” The conditions under which this initiation took place were very complicated, as now becomes the case with all initiations, for it was a matter of uniting the original Christianity which had developed continuously from Dionysius the Areopagite onward through Scotus Erigena up to Scholasticism and medieval Mysticism. This stream was still able to have an effect upon the peoples through preachings and sermons, but it had gradually lost its influence because it led to the very highest levels of thought. Therefore, fructification must be brought from the original spiritual element. A peak had been reached but it was at the same time a blind alley, and in order to work upon the initiate “Lohengrin,” new fructification must come from the East — this was brought about by the Crusades. The really important outcome of this was (the founding of) the Knights Templar, the actual messengers of the Grail. They built a sanctuary on the site of Solomon's Temple, and after preparation there, they became servants of the Holy Grail, were initiated there by the Grail. This happened at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, and was prepared in the 11th and 12th centuries.

We have now reached the stage of preparation for the Fifth subrace, the Germanic-English. The Templar rites show us that it is a matter of bringing the influence of Christianity to bear upon a new race. This enables us to understand the creed of the Knights Templar and their secret cult. They said, “The Christ as presented by the Western Church means nothing to us. But we proclaim the Christ who walked in Jerusalem and received initiation through the Baptist. Therefore our teaching about Christ comes not from the Church Dignitaries and Church Fathers, but John, the Initiator himself is our Teacher.” This was a fundamental tenet. Another was: “We again espouse belief in the elemental forces that are present in the world. We believe that the destinies of men are a result of the stellar constellations and that man himself is born out of these constellations, in conformity with the Laws of Nature.” The civilization of the Germanic-English race has grown out of two fundamental principles: on the one side the religious-protestant element, and on the other side, the scientific attitude to the physical world.

The Rosicrucians, however, watch over the common stock of what separated into purely worldly science and materialistic religion. They cultivated in the Fifth Subrace the study of the concrete facts of evolution, prepared the social legislature, and will be the actual leaders of the Sixth Subrace.



In the English version of “An Outline of Occult Science,” this Being is called the “Leader of the Christ Initiates” or “the leader of the Christ Oracle.”

The following extract is taken from Lecture 4 in the series entitled “Greek and Germanic Mythology,” given in Berlin in 1904. “In the course of our Fifth Root Race, thus, in the time lying between the end of Atlantis and the beginning of the next, the Sixth Root Race, an advance in human evolution of the highest importance will be made. The Leaders of mankind, their Manus, will arise in mankind itself. None of the Great Leaders who brought men forward, who gave them their important impulses during the earlier Root Races, went through their own evolution entirely on the earth. They underwent it in part on other planets, and thus they brought from other worlds the great impulses they had to give to the earth. The Manus of Lemuria and Atlantis, as well as the Chief Manu of our Fifth Root Race, are Supersensible Individualities, who underwent the sublime schooling which enabled them to become the Leaders of mankind, on other planets. But during the Fifth Root Race, highly developed human individualities have trained themselves so that from the Sixth Root Race onward, they will be capable of becoming the Leaders of mankind. The Leader of the Sixth Root Race, in particular, will be a man as we are, only one of the most advanced, indeed the most advanced among men. He will be a Being who began his development when incarnation started, approximately in the middle of Lemuria, one who has always been a man among men, only he was able to advance more rapidly, and one who has gone through every stage of human evolution. This will be the fundamental characteristic of the Manus of the Sixth Root Race. Such Beings have to undergo all kinds of Initiation, to be initiated again and again. Hence the Fifth Root Race from its outset has always had Initiates, men who were so initiated as to enable them to walk their own freely willed path. This was not the case during the Lemurian period, nor even in Atlantis. Both in Lemuria and Atlantis, those who helped mankind forward, those who ruled and guided mankind, those who were political leaders and leaders of great religious communities, were under the influence of Higher Beings. They were directly dependent upon Higher Beings, Beings who had gone through their own development on other planets. It is not until the Fifth Root Race that mankind is left free. Then we have Initiates who have a connection with Higher Beings, but to whom such comprehensive guidance is not given. More and more freedom is allowed to the Initiates of the Fifth Root Race in matters of detail. Guidance is given along general lines, not only to the Initiates but to those who are stimulated by them. Impulses are given to them but yet in such a way that it is out of their own spirituality that they have to carry things out ...”


Born circa 599 B. C. He is referred to by name in Ezra 1, Isaiah 44, and 45. Herodotus gives four traditions about him.


Referred to in Isaiah 9 as “Galilee of the nations.”


This is an indication that the child's most intimate relationship was with the mother.


He is known as the “Apostle of Germany.” He lived 680 – 754 A.D. Usual Christian sources record his contact with Irish monks but state that he was sent by the Pope to counteract their influence. It is therefore probable that his real connection with Irish Christianity is known only to esotericism. (The German version of this paragraph seems to be in some doubt and appears to have been abbreviated.)

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