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Old and New Methods of Initiation

Old/New Methods: Lecture Thirteen

LECTURE THIRTEEN


Dornach, 26 February 1922


The two previous lectures were devoted to considerations intended to show how that tremendous change, which entered into the whole soul constitution of civilized mankind with the fifteenth century — that is, with the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period — continued to have an effect on outstanding personalities. Let me introduce today's lecture with a brief summary of these preceding considerations. I showed how intensely a personality such as Goethe sensed the continuing vibrations of the great change, how he sensed that it was a concrete experience to find intellectual reasoning entering into the human soul. He sensed that it was necessary to come to terms with the intellectual element of the soul and he also had an inkling of the direct intercourse between human beings and the spiritual world which had preceded this intellectual stage. Even though it was no longer as it had been in the days of ancient atavistic clairvoyance, there was nevertheless a kind of looking back to the time when human beings knew that it was only possible for them to find real knowledge if they stepped outside the world of the senses in order to see in some way the spiritual beings who existed behind the sense-perceptible world.

Goethe invested the figure of his Faust with all these things sensed in his soul. We saw how dissatisfied Faust is by stark intellectualism as presented to him in the four academic faculties:

I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology,
From end to end ...

He is saying in different words: I have loaded my soul with the whole complexity of intellectual science and here I now stand filled with the utmost doubt; that is why I have devoted myself to magic.

Because of dissatisfaction with the intellectual sciences, Goethe invests the Faust figure with a desire to return to intercourse with the spiritual world. This was quite clear in his soul when he was young, and he wanted to express it in the figure of Faust. He chose the Faust figure to represent his own soul struggles. I said that although this is not the case with the historical Faust of the legend, we could nevertheless find in Goethe's depiction of Faust that professor who might have taught at Wittenberg in the sixteenth or even in the seventeenth century, and who had, ‘Straight or crosswise, wrong or right’, led his scholars by the nose ‘these ten years long’. This hypothesis allows us to see how in this educational process there was a mixture of the new intellectualism with something pointing back to ancient days when intercourse with the spiritual world and with the spiritual powers of creation was still possible for human beings.

I then asked whether — apart from what is given us in the Faust drama — we might also, in the wider environment, come up against the effects of what someone like Faust could have taught in the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth centuries. And here we hit upon Hamlet, about whom it could be said: The character which Shakespeare created out of Hamlet — who in his turn he had taken from Danish mythology and transformed — could have been a pupil of Faust, one of those very students whom Faust had led by the nose ‘these ten years long’. We see Hamlet interacting with the spiritual world. His task is given to him by the spiritual world, but he is constantly prevented from fulfilling it by the qualities he has acquired as a result of his intellectual education. In Hamlet, too, we see the whole transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period.

Further, I said that in the whole mood and artistic form of Shakespeare's plays, that is, in the historical plays, we could find in the creativity of the writer of Shakespeare's plays the twilit mood of that time of transition. Then I drew your attention to the way in which Goethe and Schiller in Central Europe had stood in their whole life of soul within the dying vibrations of the transition, yet had lacked, in a certain sense, the will to accept what the intellectual view of the world had since then brought about in the life of human beings. This led them back to Shakespeare, for in his work — Hamlet, Macbeth and so on — they discovered the capacity to approach the spiritual world; from his vantage point, they could see into the world of spiritual powers which was now hidden from the intellectual viewpoint.

Goethe did this in his Götz von Berlichingen by taking the side of the dying echoes of the old time of the fourth post-Atlantean period and by rejecting what had come into being through intellectualism. Schiller, in the dramas of his youth, especially in Die Räuber (The Robbers), goes back to that time — not by pointing to the super-sensible world, but by endeavouring to be entirely realistic, yet putting into the very words characterizing Karl Moor something which echoes the luciferic element that is also at work in Milton's Paradise Lost. Note 1 ] In short, despite his realism, we detect a kind of return to a conception of reality which allows the spiritual forces and powers to shine through.

I indicated further that, in the West, Shakespeare was in a position — if I may put it like this — to work artistically in full harmony with his social environment. Hamlet is the play most characteristic of Shakespeare. Here the action is everywhere quite close to the spiritual world, as it is also in  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) 4px 4px no-repeat;font-size:1em}.response ul{margin:.5em 0;padding:0 0 0 20px;font-size:.9em}.post_comment{display:block;margin:1em auto;padding:0 14px;min-width:60px;width:50%;background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(top,#f4f4f4,#e4e4e4);background-image:-moz-linear-gradient(top,#f4f4f4,#e4e4e4);background-image:-o-linear-gradient(top,#f4f4f4,#e4e4e4);background-image:-ms-linear-gradient(top,#f4f4f4,#e4e4e4);background-image:linear-gradient(to bottom,#f4f4f4,#e4e4e4);border:1px solid #ccc;border-radius:3px;color:#787878;line-height:2;text-decoration:none;text-align:center;font-weight:bold;font-size:1em;cursor:pointer}.post_comment:hover,.post_comment:focus{border-color:#999;text-decp“AMacbeth. In King Lear, for instance, we see how he brings the super-sensible world more into the human personality, into an abnormal form of the human personality, the element of madness. Then, in the historical dramas about the kings, he goes over more into realism but, at the same time, we see in these plays a unique depiction of a long drawn-out dramatic evolution influenced everywhere by the forces of destiny, but culminating and coming to an end in the age of Queen Elizabeth.

The thing that is at work in Shakespeare's plays is a retrospective view of older ages leading up to the time in which he lives, a time which is seen to be accepted by him. Everything belonging to older times is depicted artistically in a way which leads to an understanding of the time in which he lives. You could say that Shakespeare portrays the past. But he portrays it in such a way that he places himself in his contemporary western social environment, which he shows to be a time in which things can take the course which they are prone to take. We see a certain satisfaction with regard to what has come about in the external world. The intellectualism of the social order is accepted by the person belonging to the external, physical earthly world, by the social human being, whereas the artistic human being in Shakespeare goes back to earlier times and portrays that aspect of the super-sensible world which has created pure intellectualism.

Then we see that in Central Europe this becomes an impossibility. Goethe and Schiller, and before them Lessing, cannot place themselves within the social order in a way which enables them to accept it. They all look back to Shakespeare, but to that Shakespeare who himself went back into the past. They want the past to lead to something different from the present time in which they find themselves. Shakespeare is in a way satisfied with his environment; but they are dissatisfied with theirs.

Out of this mood of spiritual revolution Goethe creates the drama of Götz von Berlichingen, and Schiller the dramas of his youth. We see how the external reality of the world is criticized, and how in the artistic realm there is an ebbing and flowing of something that can only be achieved in ideas, something that can only be achieved in the spirit. Therefore we can say: In Goethe and Schiller there is no acceptance of the present time. They have to comfort themselves, so far as external sense-perceptible reality is concerned, with what works down out of the spiritual world. Shakespeare in a way brings the super-sensible world down into the sense-perceptible world. Goethe and Schiller can only accept the sense-perceptible world by constantly turning their attention to the spiritual world. In the dramas of Goethe and Schiller we have a working together of the spiritual with the physical — basically, an unresolved disharmony. I then said that if we were to go further eastwards we would find that there is nothing on the earth that is spiritual. The East of Europe has not created anything into which the spirit plays. The East flees from the external working of the world and seeks salvation in the spirit above.

I was able to clothe all this in an Imagination by saying to you: Let us imagine Faust as Hamlet's teacher, a professor in Wittenberg. Hamlet sits at his feet and listens to him, after which he returns to the West and accustoms himself once again to the western way of life. But if we were to seek a being who could have gone to the East, we should have had to look for an angel who had listened to Faust from the spiritual world before going eastwards. Whatever he then did there would not have resembled the deeds and actions of Hamlet on the physical plane but would have taken place above human beings, in the spiritual world.

Yesterday, I then described how, out of this mood, at the time when he was making the acquaintance of Schiller, Goethe felt impelled to bring the being of man closer to the spiritual world. He could not do this theoretically, in the way Schiller, the philosopher, was able to do in his aesthetic letters, but instead he was urged to enter the realm of Imagination and write the fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Then Schiller felt the urge to bring the external reality of human life closer to the spirit — I might say experimentally — in Wallenstein (Wallenstein's Camp), by letting a belief in the stars hold sway like a force of destiny over the personality of Wallenstein, and in Die Braut von Messina (Bride of Messina) by letting a destiny run its course virtually entwined with a belief in the stars. These personalities were impelled ever and again to turn back to the time when human beings still had direct intercourse with the spiritual world.

Further, I said that Goethe and Schiller lived at a time when it was not yet possible to find a new entry into the spiritual world from out of a modern soul constitution. Schiller in particular, with his philosophical bent, had he lived longer and finished the drama about the Knights of Malta, would have come to an understanding of how, in an order like this, or like that of the Templars, the spiritual worlds worked together with the deeds of human beings. But it was not granted to Schiller to give the world the finished drama about the Knights of Malta, for he died too soon. Goethe, on the other hand, was unable to advance to a real grasp of the spiritual world, so he turned back. We have to say that Goethe went back to Catholic symbolism, the Catholic cultus, the cultus of the image, though he did so in an essentially metamorphosed form. We cannot help but be reminded of the good nun Hrosvitha's legend of Theophilus Note 2 ] from the ninth century, when Goethe in his turn allows Faust to be redeemed in the midst of a Christianizing tableau. Although his genius lets him present it in a magnificently grand and artistic manner, we cannot but be reminded, in ‘The Eternal Feminine bears us aloft’, of the Virgin Mary elevating the ninth-century Theophilus.

An understanding of these things gives us deep insight into the struggle within intellectualism, the struggle in intellectualism which causes human beings to experience inwardly the thought-corpse of what man is before descending through birth — or, rather, through conception — into his physical life on earth. The thoughts which live in us are nothing but corpses of the spirit unless we make them fruitful through the knowledge given by spiritual science. Whatever we are, spiritually, up to the moment when earthly life begins, dies as it enters our body, and we bear its corpse within us. It is our earthly power of thought, the power of thought of our ordinary consciousness.

How can something that is dead in the spiritual sense be brought back to life? This was the great question which lived in the souls of Goethe and Schiller. They do not bring it to expression philosophically but they sense it within their feeling life. And they compose their works accordingly. They have the feeling: Something is dead if we remain within the realm of the intellect alone; we must bring it to life. It is this feeling which makes them struggle to return to a belief in the stars and to all sorts of other things, in order to bring a spiritual element into what they are trying to depict. It is necessary for us to be aware of how the course of world evolution is made manifest in such outstanding personalities, how it streams into their souls and becomes the stuff of their struggles. We cannot comprehend our present time unless we see that what this present time must strive for — a new achievement of the spiritual world — is the very problem which was of such concern for Goethe and Schiller.

What happened as a result of the great transition which took place in the fifteenth century was something of which absolutely no account is taken in ordinary history. It was, that the human being acquired an entirely different attitude towards himself. But we must not endeavour to capture this in theoretical concepts. We must endeavour to trace it in what human beings sensed; we must find out how it went through a preparation and how it later ran its course after the great change had been fulfilled in its essential spiritual force.

There are pointers to these things at crucial points in cultural evolution. See how this comes towards us in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. Note 3 ] You all know the story. You know how crucial it was for the whole of Parzival's development that he first of all received instruction from a kind of teacher as to how he was to go through the world without asking too many questions. As a representative of that older world order which still saw human beings as having direct intercourse with the spiritual world, Gurnemanz says to Parzival: Do not ask questions, for questioning comes from the intellect, and the spiritual world flees from the intellect; if you want to approach the spiritual world you must not ask questions.

But times have changed and the transition begins to take place. It is announced in advance: Even though Parzival goes back several more centuries, into the seventh or eighth century, all this was nevertheless experienced in advance in the Grail temple. Here, in a way, the institutions of the future are already installed, and one of them is that questions must be asked. The essential point is that with the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period the situation of the human being changes. Previously it was inappropriate to ask questions because conditions held sway about which Goethe speaks so paradoxically:

The lofty might
Of Science, still
From all men deeply hidden!
Who takes no thought,
To him 'tis brought,
'Tis given unsought, unbidden!

In those times it was right not to ask questions, for that would have driven away the spirits! But in the age of the intellect the spiritual world has to be rediscovered through the intellect and not by damping down the processes of thought. The opposite must now come into play; questions must be asked. As early as Parzival we find a portrayal of the great change which brings it about in the fifth post-Atlantean period that the longing for the spiritual world now has to be born out of the human being in the form of questions to be formulated.

But there is also something else, something very remarkable, which comes to meet us in Parzival. I should like to describe it as follows. The languages which exist today are far removed from their origins, for they have developed as time has gone on. When we speak today — as I have so often shown — the various combinations of sounds no longer remind us of whatever these combinations of sounds denote. We now have to acquire a more delicate sense for language in order to experience in it all the things that it signifies. This was not the case where the original languages of the human race were concerned. In those days it was known that the combination of sounds itself contained whatever was experienced in connection with the thing depicted by those sounds. Nowadays poets seek to imitate this. Think, for instance, of ‘Und es wallet und siedet und brauset und zischt’. Note 4 ] Poetic language has here imitated something of what the poet wants us to see externally. But this is mere derived imitation. In olden times every single sound in language was felt to have the most intimate connection with what was happening all around. Today only some local dialects can lay claim to giving us some sense for the connection between external reality and the words spoken in dialect. However, language is still very close to our soul — it is a special element in our soul.

It is another consequence of the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period that this has become deposited as something very deeply sensed within the human soul, again a fact which is left out of account by both philology and history. The fact that in the fourth post-Atlantean period human beings lived more within their language and that in the fifth post-Atlantean period this is no longer the case, brings about a different attitude by human beings towards the world. You can understand that human beings with their ego are linked quite differently to what is going on around them if, in using language, they go along with all the rushing of waves, the thundering and lightning, and whatever else is happening out there. This becomes ever more detached as the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period progresses. The ego becomes more inward, and language together with the ego also becomes more inward, but at the same time less meaningful as regards external matters. Such things are most certainly not perceived by the knowledge of today, which has become so intellectual. There is hardly any concern to describe such things. But if what is taking place in mankind is to be correctly understood, they will have to be described.

Imagine what can come into being. Imagine vividly to yourselves, here the fourth post-Atlantean period, and here the fifth. The transition is of course gradual, but for the sake of explanation I shall have to talk in extremes. In the fourth post-Atlantean period you have here the things of the world (green). The human being with his words, depicted within him, here in red, is still connected with the things. You could say he 'lives over' into the things through the medium of his words. In the fifth post-Atlantean period the human being possesses his words within his soul, separated off from the world.

Imagine this clearly, even almost in grotesque detail. Looking at the human being here in the fourth post-Atlantean period, you might say of him that he still lives with the things. The things he does in the outside world will proceed to take place in accordance with his words. If you see one of these human beings performing a deed, and if at the same time you hear how he describes the deed, there is a harmony between the two. Just as his words are in harmony with external things, so are his deeds in harmony with the words he speaks. But if a human being in the fifth post-Atlantean period speaks, you can no longer detect that his words resound in what he does. What connection with the deed can you find today in the words: I have chopped wood! In what is taking place out there in the activity of chopping we can no longer sense in any way a connection with the movement of the chopper. As a result, the connection with the sounds of the words gradually disappears; they cease to be in harmony with what is going on outside. We no longer find any connection between the two. So then, if someone listens pedantically to the words and actually does


Diagram 1

what lies in the words, the situation is quite different. Someone might say: I bake mice. But if someone were actually to bake mice, this would seem grotesque and would not be understood.

This was sensed, and so it was said: People ought to consider what they actually have in their soul in conjunction with what they do externally; the relationship between the two would be like an owl looking in a mirror! If someone were to do exactly what the words say, it would be like holding up a mirror to an owl. Out of this, in the second half of the fourteenth century, Till Eulenspiegel arose. Note 5 ] The owl's mirror is held up in front of mankind. It is not Till Eulenspiegel who has to look in the mirror. But because Till Eulenspiegel takes literally what people say with their dry, abstract words, they suddenly see themselves, whereas normally they do not see themselves at all. It is a mirror for the owls because they can really see themselves in it.

Night has fallen. In past times, human beings could see into the spiritual world. And the activity of their words was in harmony with the world. Human beings were eagles. But now they have become owls. The world of the soul has become a bird of the night. In the strange world depicted by Till Eulenspiegel, a mirror is held up before the owl.

This is quite a feasible way of regarding what appears in the spiritual world. Things do have their hidden reasons. If we fail to take note of the spiritual background, we also fail to understand history, and with it the chief factor in humanity today. It is especially important to depart from the usual external characterization of everything. Look in any dictionary and see what absurd explanations are given for Eulenspiegel! He cannot be understood without entering into the whole process of cultural and spiritual life. The important thing in spiritual science is to actually discover the spirit in things, not in a way that entails a conceptual knowledge of a few spiritual beings who exist outside the sense-perceptible world, but in a way which leads us to an ability to see reality with spiritual eyes.

The change which took place, between the time when human beings felt themselves to be close to the spiritual world and the later time when they felt as though they had been expelled from that world, can be seen in other areas too. Try to develop a sense for the profound impulse which runs through something like the Parzival epic. See how Parzival's mother dresses him in a simpleton's clothes because she does not want him to grow up into the world which represents the new world. She wants him to remain in the old world. But then he grows up from the sense-perceptible world into the world of the spirit.

The seventeenth century also possesses a kind of Parzival, a comical Parzival, in which everything is steeped in comedy. In the intellectualistic age, if one is honest, one cannot immediately muster the serious attitude of soul which prevails in Parzival. But the seventeenth century too, after the great change had taken place, had its own depiction of a character who has to set out into the world, lose himself in it, finally ending-up in solitude and finding the salvation of his soul. This is Christoffel von Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus. Note 6 ] Look at the whole process of the story. Of course you must take the whole tone into account, on the one hand the pure, perhaps holy mood of Parzival, and on the other the picaresque, comical mood. Consider Simplicissimus, the son of well-to-do peasants in the Spessart region. In the Thirty Years’ War their house is burnt down. The son has to flee, and finds his way to a hermit in the forest who teaches him all kinds of things, but who then dies. So here he is, abandoned in the world and having to set off on his travels. He becomes immersed in all the events and blows of fate offered by the Thirty Years’ War. He arrives at the court of the governor of Hanau. Externally he has learnt nothing, externally he is a pure simpleton; yet he is an inwardly mature person for all that. But because externally he is a pure simpleton the governor of Hanau says to himself: This is a simpleton, he knows nothing; he is Simplicissimus, as naive as can be. What shall I train him to be? I shall train him to be my court fool.

But now the external and the internal human being are drawn apart. The ego has become independent in respect of the external human being. It is just this that is shown in Simplicissimus. The external human being in the external world, trained to be the court fool, is the one who is considered by all and sundry to be a fool. But in his inner being Simplicissimus in his turn considers all those who take him for a fool to be fools themselves. For although he has not learnt a thing, he is nevertheless far cleverer than all those who have made him into a fool. He brings out of himself the other intellectuality, the intellectuality that comes from the spirit, whereas what comes to meet him from outside is the intellectuality that comes from reasoning alone. So the intellectualists take him for a fool, and the fool brings his intellectualism from the spiritual world and holds those who take him for a fool to be fools themselves. Then he is taken prisoner by some Croats, after which he roams about the world undergoing many adventures, until finally he ends up once more at the hermitage where he settles down to live for the salvation of his soul.

The similarity between Simplicissimus and Parzival has been recognized, but the crucial thing is the difference in mood. What in Parzival's case was still steeped in the mind-soul has now risen up into the consciousness soul. Now caustic wit is at work, for the comical can only have its origin in caustic wit. If you have a feel for this change of mood, you will be able to discover — especially in works which have a broader base than that of a single individuality — what was going on in human evolution. And Christoffel von Grimmelshausen did indeed secrete in Simplicissimus the whole mood, the whole habit of thought of his time. Similarly you can in a way find the people as a whole composing stories, and gathering together all the things which the soul, in the guise of an owl, can see in the mirror, and which become all the tall tales found in Till Eulenspiegel.

It would be a good thing, once in a while, to go in more detail into all these things, not only in order to characterize the various interconnections. I can only give you isolated examples. To say everything that could be said I should have to speak for years. But this is not really what matters. What is crucial is to come closer to a more spiritual conception of these things. We have to learn to know how things which are presented to us purely externally are also connected with the spirit. So we may say: That tremendous change which took place in the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period can be seen everywhere, vibrating through the cultural and spiritual evolution of mankind. As soon as you step back a bit from this turning- point of time, you come to see how all the different phenomena point to the magnititude of the change.

Only by taking the interconnections into account is it possible to understand what lies hidden in the figures brought by spiritual and cultural life out of the past and into the present. Take Lohengrin, the son of Parzival. What does it mean that Elsa is forbidden to ask after his name and origin? People simply accept this. Not enough deep thought is given to the question as to why she is forbidden to ask, for usually there are two sides to everything. Certainly this could also be described differently, but one important aspect may be stated as follows: Lohengrin is an ambassador of the Grail; he is Parzival's son. Now what actually is the Grail community? Those who knew the mystery of the Grail did not look on the Grail temple as a place solely for the chosen knights of the Grail. They saw that all those who were pure in heart and Christian in the true sense went to the Grail while they slept — while they were between sleeping and waking. The Grail was seen as the place where all truly Christian souls gathered while they slept at night. There was a desire to be apart from the earth. So those who were the rulers of the Grail also had to be apart from earthly life. Lohengrin, the son of Parzival, was one of these. Those who desired to work in accordance with the Grail impulse had to feel themselves entirely within the spiritual world. They had to feel that they belonged entirely to the spiritual world and certainly not at all to the earthly world. In a certain sense you could say that they had to drink the draught of forgetfulness.

Lohengrin is sent down from the Grail castle. He unites with Elsa of Brabant, that is with the people of Brabant. In the train of Heinrich I he sets out to fight the Hungarians. In other words, at the instigation of the Grail he carries out important impulses of world history. The strength he has from the Grail temple enables him to do this. When we go back to the fourth post-Atlantean period we find that all these things are different. In those days spiritual impulses played their part together with external impulses that could be comprehended by the intellect. This is hardly noticeable in the way history is told today.

We speak quite rightly today of meditative formulae, simple sentences which work in the human being's consciousness through their very simplicity. How many people today understand what is meant when history tells us that those required to take part in the Crusades — they took place in the fourth post-Atlantean period — were provided with the meditative formula ‘God wills it’ and that this formula worked on them with spiritual force. ‘God wills it’ was a kind of social meditation. Keep a look out for such things in history; you will find many! You will find the origins of the old mottos. You will discover how the ancient titled families set out on conquering expeditions under such mottos, thus working with spiritual means, with spiritual weapons. The most significant spiritual weapons of all were used by knights of the Grail, such as Lohengrin. But he was only able to use them if he was not met with recollections of his external origins, his external name, his external family. He had to transport himself into a realm in which he could be entirely devoted to the spiritual world and in which his intercourse with the external world was limited to what he perceived with his senses, devoid of any memories. He had to accomplish his deeds under the influence of the draught of forgetfulness. He was not allowed to be reminded. His soul was not permitted to remember: This is my name and I am a scion of this or that family. So this is why Elsa of Brabant is not allowed to question him. When she does, he is forced to remember. The effect on his deeds is the same as if his sword had been smashed.

If we go back beyond the time when everything became intellectual, so that people also clothed what had gone before in intellectual concepts, imagining that everything had always been as they knew it — if we go back beyond what belongs to the age of the intellect, we find the spiritual realm working everywhere in the social realm. People took the spiritual element into account, for instance, in that they took moral matters just as much into account as physical medicines.

In the age of the intellect, in which all people belong only to the intellect, whatever would they think if they found that moral elements, too, were available at the chemist's! Yet we need only go back a few centuries prior to the great change. Read Der arme Heinrich by Hartmann von Aue, Note 7 ] who was a contemporary of Wolfram von Eschenbach. Before you stands a knight, a rich knight, who has turned away from God, who in his soul has lost his links with the spiritual world, and who thus experiences this moment of atheism which has come over him as a physical illness, a kind of leprosy. Everyone avoids him. No physician can cure him. Then he meets a clever doctor in Salerno who tells him that no physical medicine can do him any good. His only hope of a cure lies in finding a pure virgin who is prepared to be slain for his sake. The blood of a pure virgin can cure him of his illness. He sells all his possessions and lives alone on a smallholding cared for by the tenant farmer. The farmer has a daughter. She falls in love with the leprous knight, discovers what it is that alone can cure him, and decides to die for him. He goes with her to the doctor in Salerno. But then he starts to pity her, preferring to keep his illness rather than accept her sacrifice. But even her willingness to make the sacrifice is enough. Gradually he is healed.

We see how the spirit works into cultural life, we see how moral impulses heal and were regarded as healing influences. Today the only interpretation is: Ah, well, perhaps it was a coincidence, or maybe it is just a tale. Whatever we think of individual incidents, we cannot but point out that, during the time which preceded the fifteenth century, soul could work on soul much more strongly than was the case later; what a soul thought and felt and willed worked on other souls. The social separation between one human being and another is a phenomenon of intellectualism. The more intellectualism flourishes and the less an effort is made to find what can work against it — namely the spiritual element — the more will this intellectualism divide one individuality from another.

This had to come about; individualism is necessary. But social life must be found out of individualism. Otherwise, in the ‘social age’ all people will do is be unsociable and cry out for Socialism. The main reason for the cry for Socialism is that people are unsocial in the depths of their soul. We must take note of the social element as it comes towards us in works such as Hartmann von Aue's Der arme Heinrich. It makes its appearance in cultural works in which it can be sensed quite clearly through the mood. See how different is the mood in Der arme Heinrich. You cannot call it sentimental, for sentimentality only arose later when people found an unnatural escape from intellectualism. The mood is in a way pious; it is a mood of spirituality. To be honest about the same matters in a later age you have to fall back on the element of comedy. You have to tell your story as Christoffel von Grimmelshausen did in Simplicissimus, or as the people as a whole did in Till Eulenspiegel.

This sense of having been thrown out of the world is found everywhere, not only in poetic works arising out of the folk element. Wherever it appears, you find that what is being depicted is a new attitude of the human being towards himself. From an entirely new standpoint he asks: What am I, if I am a human being? This vibrates through everything. So from the new intellectual standpoint the question is asked over and over again: What is the human being? In earlier times people turned to the spiritual world. They truly sought what Faust later seeks in vain. They turned to the spiritual world when they wanted to know: What actually is the human being? They knew that outside this physical life on earth the human being is a spirit. So if he wants to discover his true being, which lives in him also in physical, earthly life, then he will have to turn to the spiritual world. Yet more and more human beings are failing to do this very thing.

In Faust Goethe still hints: If I want to know the spirit, I must turn to the spiritual world. But it does not work. The Earth Spirit appears, but Faust cannot recognize it with his ordinary knowledge. The Earth Spirit says to him: ‘Thou'rt like the Spirit which thou comprehendest, not me!’ Note 8 ] Faust has to turn away and speak to Wagner. In Wagner he then sees the spirit which he comprehends. Faust, ‘image of the Godhead’, cannot comprehend the Earth Spirit. So Goethe still lived in an age which strove to find the being of man out of the spiritual world. You see what came once Goethe had died. Once again people wanted to know what the human being is, this time on the basis of intellectualism. Follow the thread: People cannot turn to the spiritual world in order to discover what the human being is. In themselves, equally, they fail to find the answer, for language has meanwhile become an owl in the soul. So they turned to those who depicted olden times at least in an external fashion. What do we find in the nineteenth century? Note 9 ] In 1836 Jeremias Gotthelf: Bauernspiegel; in 1839 Immermann: Oberhof, Die drei Mahlen, Schwarzwalder Bauern geschichten; George Sand: La Petite Fadette; in 1847 Grigorovich: Unhappy Anthony; in 1847-51 Turgeniev: Sportsman's Sketches.

We have here the longing to find in simple people the answer to the question: What is the human being? In olden times you turned to the spiritual world. Now you turned to the peasant. During the course of two decades the whole world develops a longing to write village stories in order to study the human being. Because people cannot recognize themselves, at best looking in the mirror as if they are owls, they turn to simple folk instead. What they can prove in every detail, from Jeremias Gotthelf to Turgeniev, is that everything is striving to get to know the human being. In all these village stories, in all these simple tales, the unconscious endeavour is to achieve a knowledge of man. From this kind of viewpoint spiritual and cultural life can become comprehensible.

This is what I wanted to show you in these three lectures, in order to illustrate the transition from the fourth to the fifth post-Atlantean period. It is not enough to describe this transition with a few abstract concepts — which is what was naturally done at first. Our task is to illumine the whole of reality with the light of the spirit through Anthroposophy. These lectures have beenan example of this.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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