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Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies - Volume IV

Karmic Relationships, Volume IV: Lecture VI


To-day I wish to continue with the subject I placed before you the day before yesterday. We were tracing the thread of evolution which enters into the spiritual life of the present time, and we left off with the individuality of Julian the Apostate. I told you that this individuality was next incarnated in one who is only known by legendary accounts, whose secret is contained in the Parsifal legend, in the name of Herzeleide. In this life as Herzeleide, the soul of Julian the Apostate entered into a far deeper inner life. The soul-life of the individuality was deepened, as was indeed necessary after the many storms and inner moods of opposition which he had undergone in his life as Julian the Apostate.

But this later life of which I told you — this life as Herzeleide — spread itself out over the former life as Julian the Apostate like a warm embalming cloud. Thus the soul grew more intense and deep and inward, and grew richer, too, in manifold impulses of the inner life.

Now this soul was among those who had carried over something of the ancient Mysteries. Julian had lived within the substance of the ancient Mysteries at a time when their light was still radiant in many ways. Thus he had received into himself much spirituality of the cosmos. All this had been as it were pressed back during the incarnation as Herzeleide; but it was none the less pressing forth in the soul, and thus we find the same individuality again in the 16th century; we find arising in him once more, in a Christianised form, what he had undergone as Julian the Apostate. For the same individuality reappears in the 16th century as Tycho de Brahe, and stands face to face with the Copernican world-conception which emerges within Western civilisation at that time.

The Copernican world-conception pictures the universe in a way, which if followed to its logical conclusions would tend to drive all spirituality out of the cosmos in man's conception of it. The Copernican world-picture leads at length to a mechanical, machine-like conception of the universe in space. It was after all in view of this Copernican picture of the world that the famous astronomer said to Napoleon: he had searched through all the universe and he could find no God. It is, indeed, an entire elimination of spirituality.

The individuality of whom I am now speaking, who had now returned as Tycho de Brahe, could not submit to this. Thus we see Tycho de Brahe accepting in his world-conception what is useful of Copernicanism, but rejecting the absolute movement of the earth ascribed to it according to the Copernican world-picture. In Tycho de Brahe we see these things united with true spirituality. When we consider the course of his life, it is indeed evident how a karma from ancient time is pressing its way forth with might and main into this life as Tycho de Brahe, seeking to enter the substance of his consciousness. Such is his spirituality. We remember how his Danish relatives sought to hold him fast at all costs in the profession of a lawyer, and we see how, living as a tutor, he steals the hours by night in which to commune with the gods. And here an extraordinary thing appears. All this is contained in his biography. We shall see presently how deeply significant it is for a true estimate of this individuality of Tycho de Brahe — Julian — Herzeleide. With the most primitive instruments contrived and manufactured by himself, he discovers considerable errors in calculation which had entered into the determination of the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter. We have this remarkable scene in the life of Tycho de Brahe. As a young man with the most primitive instruments with which other people would not dream of trying to accomplish anything, he feels impelled one day to seek the exact places of Saturn and Jupiter in the heavens. In his case all these things are strongly permeated with spiritual content. And this spiritual content leads him to a conception of the universe such as we must have if we are striving once again to the modern science of Initiation, when at length we come to speak of spiritual beings as we speak of physical men on earth. For in reality we can ever meet them, and there is in fact only a difference in quality of being as between those individualities who are now on the physical plane and those who are discarnate, living between death and a new birth.

These things kindled in Tycho de Brahe an extraordinarily deep and penetrating vision of spiritual connections. I mean the connections which appear when we no longer regard everything on earth as though it were caused by earthly impulses alone, and on the other hand consider the stars only in mathematical calculations, but when we perceive the interplay of impulses from the stars with the historic impulses within mankind. In Tycho de Brahe's soul there lived instinctively what he had brought with him from his life as Julian the Apostate. In that former life it had not been permeated with rationalism or intellectualism. It had been intuitive, imaginative — for such was the inner life of Julian the Apostate. With all this he succeeded in doing something that made a great sensation.

He could make little impression on his contemporaries with his astronomic opinions, differing as they did from Copernicus, or with his other astronomical achievements. He observed countless stars and made a map of the heavens which alone made it possible for Kepler afterwards to reach his great results. For it was on the basis of Tycho de Brahe's mapping of the stars that Kepler discovered his famous laws. But none of these things could have made so great an impression on his contemporaries as a discovery relatively unimportant in itself, but very striking. He foretold almost to the day the death of the Sultan Soliman, which afterwards occurred as he had foretoldit. Here we see ancient perceptions working into a later time in a spiritual intellectuality. Perceptions which Julian the Apostate had received light up again in modern time in Tycho de Brahe. Tycho de Brahe is indeed one of the most interesting of human souls. In the 17th century he passed on through the gate of death and entered the spiritual world. Now in the spiritual currents which I have described as those of Michael, this being, Tycho de Brahe — Julian the Apostate — Herzeleide, constantly emerges. In one or another of the super-sensible functions he is in fact always there. Hence too we find him in those great events in the super-sensible world at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century which are connected with this stream of Michael.

I told you already of the great super-sensible School of instruction in the 15th, 16th centuries which stood under the aegis of Michael himself. Then there began for those who had been within this School a life which took its course in such a way that activities and forces unfolded in the spiritual world worked down into the physical, worked in connection with the physical world. For example, in the time that immediately followed the period of the super-sensible School of Michael, an important task was allotted to an individuality of whose continued life I have often spoken — I mean the individuality of Alexander the Great.

I have already spoken, here at Dornach too, of Lord Bacon of Verulam as the reincarnated Haroun al Raschid. We know how intense and determining an influence Bacon's conceptions had on the whole succeeding evolution of the spiritual life, notably in its finer impulses and movements. Now the remarkable thing is this, that in Lord Bacon himself something took place which we may describe as a morbid elimination of old spirituality. For such spirituality he had after all possessed when he was Haroun al Raschid.

And thus we see, proceeding from the impulse of Lord Bacon, a whole world of daemonic beings. The world was literally filled supersensibly and sensibly with daemonic beings. (When I say “sensibly” I meant not, of course, visibly, but within the world of sense.)

Now it chiefly fell to the individuality of Alexander to wage war against these daemonic idols of Lord Bacon, Francis Bacon of Verulam. And similar activities, exceedingly important ones, were taking place on earth below. For otherwise the materialism of the 19th century would have broken in upon the world in a far more devastating way even than it did. Similar activities, taking place in the spiritual and in the physical world together, were allotted to the stream of Michael, until at length at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century there took place in super-sensible regions what I have already described as the enactment of a great and sublime super-sensible ritual and ceremony.

In the super-sensible world at that time a cult was instituted and enacted in real imaginations of a spiritual kind. Thus we may say: At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century there hovers in the immediate neighbourhood of the physical world of sense a great super-sensible event, consisting in super-sensible acts of ritual, an unfolding of mighty pictures of the spiritual life of beings of the universe, the Beings of the Hierarchies in connection with the great ether-workings of the universe and the human workings upon earth. I say“in the immediate neighbourhood,” meaning of course, adjoining this physical world in a qualitative, not in a spatial sense. It is interesting to see how at a most favourable moment a little miniature picture of this super-sensible cult and action flowed into Goethe's spirit. Transformed and changed and in miniature we have this picture set down by Goethe in his fairy story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily ...

There was, then, a great super-sensible action in which those above all took part who had partaken in the stream of Michael, in all the revelations super-sensible and sensible, of which I told you. Now here again and again the individuality who was last present upon earth in Tycho de Brahe, plays a very great part. And it was his constant striving to preserve the great and lasting impulses of what we call paganism, of the old life of the Mysteries. It was his striving to preserve it in effect towards a better understanding of Christianity. He had entered Christianity when he lived as the soul of Herzeleide. Now it was his striving to introduce into the Christian conception all that he had received through his Initiation as Julian the Apostate. For it was this especially which seemed so important to the souls of whom I have spoken. The many souls who are now to be found in the Anthroposophical Movement or strive towards this Movement with sincerity are united with all these spiritual streams. By its very essence and nature they feel themselves attracted by the School of Michael, and Tycho de Brahe had a great influence in this. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, especially at the end of the 19th century, these souls have descended to the earth, prepared not only to feel the Christ as He is felt in the various Confessions, but to feel Him and behold Him as the Cosmic Christ in His universal majesty and glory. The souls were prepared for this even supersensibly, between death and the new birth. They were prepared by such influences as that of Tycho de Brahe, of the soul who was last incarnated in Tycho de Brahe.

This individuality therefore played an extraordinarily important part continuously within the stream of Michael.

You see, the souls were constantly looking towards the approaching dominion of Michael. They were looking towards it in the old super-sensible School of the 15th and 16th centuries, and they were looking towards it again during the enactment of that super-sensible ceremony which was to introduce and, as it were, to consecrate from the spiritual worlds the subsequent Michael dominion upon earth. Now as I have already indicated, a large number of Platonically gifted souls have remained in the spiritual worlds since the time they worked in Chartres. (I have placed here for your inspection to-day other pictures of the series from Chartres which I received. They are pictures of the Prophets and also of the wonderful architecture of Chartres.) The individualities of the teachers of Chartres, who were of a Platonic tendency, remained in the spiritual world. It was more the Aristotelians who descended to the earth, finding their way largely into the Dominican Order. Then, after a certain time, they united again with the Platonists in the spiritual world and went on working together with them supersensibly, from the spiritual world. Thus we may say: the souls of Platonic character have remained behind. They have not appeared again on earth, not at any rate the more important individualities among them. They are waiting till the end of this century. But on the other hand, many who felt themselves drawn to what I have described as the Michael deeds in the super-sensible, have come down and entered the stream of the Anthroposophical Movement inasmuch as they have felt sincerely drawn on earth to such a spiritual Movement.

We may say in truth: what lives in Anthroposophy was kindled first by the Michael School of instruction in the 15th, 16th centuries, and by the great religious act that took place in the super-sensible at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. It was in vision of that super-sensible action that my Mystery Plays came into being, and for this reason the first Mystery Play, different as it is from Goethe's fairy story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, nevertheless reveals distinctly similar features. For a thing that would contain real impulses of a spiritual kind cannot be arbitrarily conceived. It must be seen and worked out in harmony with the spiritual world.

Thus we stand here within the Anthroposophical Movement to-day, having entered into the dominion of Michael which has now begun. We stand here in this Movement, called to understand the essence of this reign of Michael, called to work in the spirit of his working through the centuries and the thousands of years. At this moment of great significance he has begun his earthly rulership once more and we are called to work in his direction. Such is the inner esoteric impulse of this stream of Michael, whose working to begin with for this century, is very clearly foreshadowed.

But you must see that if we take Anthroposophy in its present content and trace it backward, we find little preparation for it upon earth. Go back just a little way from what appears as Anthroposophy and try to find its sources in the course of the 19th century, for instance. If you do so open-mindedly, if your vision is not clouded by all manner of philological contrivances, you will not find the sources. You will find isolated traces of a spiritual conception which it was always possible to use like little germinating seeds, though very sparingly, within the great texture of Anthroposophy. But you will find no real preparation for it within the earthly sphere.

All the greater was the preparation in the super-sensible. You are well aware how Goethe's working (even after his death, though in my books it may not seem so) contributed to the forming and shaping of Anthroposophy. It is indeed true that the most important things in this respect took place within the super-sensible. Nevertheless we can trace the spiritual life of the 19th century backward in a living way till we come to Goethe, Herder, and others, nay even to Lessing. And we find after all that what was working in isolated spirits of the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century was, to say the least of it, imbued with a strong spiritual atmosphere, even if it appeared in great abstractions as in Hegel, or in abstract pictures as in the case of Schelling.

You may read in my Riddles of Philosophy how I described Schelling and Hegel. I think you will recognise that I was seeking to point to something of the soul and spirit in this evolution of world-conceptions which could then enter into the Anthroposophical stream. In the book Riddles of Philosophy, I tried indeed to take hold of those abstractions of the philosophers with full heart and mind. Perhaps I may specially draw your attention to the chapter on Hegel, and to the things I said of Schelling.

But we must go still deeper to perceive the origin of certain remarkable phenomena that appeared in the spiritual life of the first half of the 19th century. They were lost sight of, they were obliterated in what then came forth as the materialistic spiritual life of the second half of the century. Nevertheless, in however abstract conceptions, there did appear something that contained a hidden spiritual life and being.

Most interesting, and increasingly so the more one enters into him, is the philosopher Schelling. He begins almost like Fichte, with pure, clear-cut ideas, saturated through and through with will. For such was Fichte. Johann Gottlieb Fichte was one of the few figures of world-history — indeed in a certain respect he is perhaps unique — who combined the greatest conceptual abstractions with enthusiasm and energy of will. He is an extraordinarily interesting figure. Short and thick-set, under-grown a little owing to the privations of his youth, one would see him marching along the street with extraordinary firmness of step. He was all will, and will and will again, and his will lived itself out in the description of the most abstract concepts. And yet with these most abstract concepts he could achieve such a thing, for instance, as his Addresses to the German Nation, with which he inspired countless people most wonderfully.

Schelling appears in an almost Fichte-like way, not with the same power, but with a similar way of thought. But we very soon see Schelling's spirit expand. In his youth he speaks like Fichte of the“I” and the “Not I” and other such abstractions and inspires the people of Jena with these things. But he soon departs from them. His spirit grows and widens and we see entering into him conceptions, albeit fanciful, which nevertheless tend almost to spiritual imaginations. Thus he goes on for a while. Then he enters deeply into such spirits as Jacob Boehme, and writes something altogether different in style and tone from his former works. He writes The Foundations of Human Freedom — which is a kind of resurrection of the ideas of Jacob Boehme.

Then we see almost a kind of Platonism springing up in Schelling's soul. He writes a philosophic dialogue entitled Bruno which is truly reminiscent of Plato's Dialogues, and deeply penetrating. Interesting too is another short work Klara, wherein the super-sensible world plays a great part. Then for a very long time Schelling is silent. His fellow philosophers begin to look on him, if I may put it so, almost as a living dead man. He published only his extraordinarily deep and significant work on the Samothracian Mysteries, once again an expansion of his spirit; but he lives on in simple retirement at Munich, until at length the King of Prussia summons him to lecture on philosophy at the University of Berlin. And of the philosophy he now proclaimed Schelling said that he had gained it in the silence of his retirement through the course of decades.

Now, therefore, Schelling appeared in Berlin, proclaiming that philosophy which was afterwards included in his posthumous works as the Philosophy of Mythology, and the Philosophy of Revelation. He made no great impression on the Berlin public, for the whole tenor of his lectures in Berlin was really this: Man, however much he thinks and ponders, can attain nothing in the sphere of world-conceptions; something must enter his soul, inspiring and imbuing his thought with life as a real, spiritual world.

Suddenly, in place of the old rationalistic philosophy there appears in Schelling a real awakening of the ancient philosophy of the gods of mythology, a reawakening of the old gods in a very modern way, and yet with old spirituality quite evidently working in it. All this is very strange. And in his Philosophy of Revelation he evolves ideas of Christianity which do contain, in however abstract a form, important inspirations and suggestions for what must afterwards be said by Anthroposophy, directly out of spiritual vision, on many points of Christianity.

Schelling is most certainly not to be passed over in the easygoing way of the Berlin people. Indeed he cannot be passed over at all, but the Berlin folk passed him over quite easily. When one of his descendants got engaged to the daughter of a Prussian minister (an external, but at any rate a karmically connected event) a Prussian functionary who heard of it remarked:“I never knew before why Schelling ever came to Berlin. Now I know.”

Nevertheless one can well come into inner difficulties and conflicts in following Schelling thus through his career. Moreover the last period in his life, dreadfully as it is generally treated in the histories of philosophy, is always dealt with in a chapter by itself, under the title: Schelling's Theosophy.

I myself again and again returned to Schelling. For me a certain warmth always proceeded from what lives in him, in spite of the abstract form. Thus at a comparatively early age I entered deeply into the above-mentioned philosophic dialogue, Bruno, or On the Divine and Natural Principle of Things.

Since the year 1854, Schelling was in the spiritual world again. And he came especially near to one through this dialogue, Bruno, if one entered into it, and lived through it, also through his Klara, and notably through his essay on the Samothracian Mysteries. One could easily come really near to him in spirit.

And at length, as early as the beginning of the eighteen nineties, it became fully clear to me: However it may have been with the other personalities who worked in the sphere of philosophy during the first half of the 19th century, in Schelling's case it is absolutely clear that a spiritual inspiration did really enter in. Spiritual inspiration worked and entered into his work continually.

Thus one might attain the following picture. — To begin with, down in the physical world, one could see Schelling, as he passed through the manifold vicissitudes of life, through a long period, as I said above, of loneliness and isolation, treated in the most varying way by his fellow men, now with immense enthusiasm, and now again with scorn and derision; Schelling, who really always made a significant impression whenever he appeared again in public — the short, thick-set man, with the immensely impressive head, and eyes which even in extreme old age were sparkling with fire, for from his eyes there spoke the fire of Truth, the fire of Knowledge. And this Schelling whom one can distinctly see — the more so, the more one enters into him — had certain moments when inspiration poured into him from above.

Most clear and visible it became to me when I read Robert Zimmermann's review of Schelling's book on the Ages of the World. From Zimmermann, as you know, is derived the word Anthroposophy, though his Anthroposophy is a tangled undergrowth of abstract concepts. I had the very greatest regard for him, and yet, when I read this review, I could not help breaking out into the sigh — “Pedant that you are!”

Then I returned to the book itself, Schelling's Ages of the World, which is indeed somewhat abstractly written, but in which one may clearly recognise something like a description of ancient Atlantis — quite a spiritual description, containing spiritual realities, however much distorted by abstractions.

Thus you see in Schelling's case again and again there is something working in from higher worlds, so that we must say: Down there is Schelling, but in the higher worlds something is taking place which influences him from above. In Schelling's case what is a general truth becomes most visible, namely that in spiritual evolution there is a perpetual interplay of the spiritual world above with the earthly world below. And once in the eighteen nineties I was most intensely concerned in finding the spiritual foundations of the age of Michael and of other things.

At that time I myself was entering a phase of life in which I could not but experience intensely the world immediately adjoining our physical world of sense. I could only hint at these things in my autobiography, but I have hinted at them there. That adjoining world is separated, if I may so describe it, only by a thin wall from the physical, and in it the most gigantic facts are happening, nor are they at all powerfully separated from our world. It was at the time when I was in Weimar. On the one hand I entered most intensively into the social life of Weimar in all directions; but at the same time I felt the inner necessity to withdraw into myself. These two sides of my life went parallel with one another. And at that time, in the very highest degree, it happened that my experience of the spiritual world was always more intense and strong than my experience of the physical. Already as a young man I had no great difficulty in quickly comprehending any philosophy or world-conception that came into my sphere. But a plant or a stone, if I had to recognise it again, I had to look at, not three or four times, but fifty or sixty times. I could not easily unite my soul with that which in the physical world is named by physical means. And this had reached its highest point during my Weimar period.

It was long, long before the Republican Constituent Assembly took place in Weimar, and at that time Weimar was really like a spiritual oasis, quite different from any other place in Germany. In that Weimar, as I said in my autobiography, I did indeed experience intense moments of loneliness. And once again — it was in 1897 — wishing to investigate certain matters, I put my hand on Schelling's Divinities of Samothrace, and his Philosophy of Mythology, simply to receive a stimulation, not in order to study in the books. (Just as one who researches in the spiritual world, if for instance, he wishes to make researches on the periods of the first Christian centres, in order to facilitate matters may lay the writings of St. Augustine or of Clement of Alexandria under his head for a few minutes in succession. You must not laugh about these things. They are simply external methods to assist one, external technicalities that are not directly connected with the real thing itself. They are an external stimulation, like any technical mnemonic.) Thus at that time I took into my hand Schelling's Divinities of Samothrace, and his Philosophy of Mythology. But the real subject of my study at that moment was that which was taking place spiritually in the course of the 19th century, and which afterwards poured down so as to become Anthroposophy.

And at that moment, when I was really able to trace Schelling's life, his biography, his evolution through his life, it was revealed to me — not yet quite clearly, for these things only became clear at a far later date, when I wrote my Riddles of Philosophy — it was revealed to me, I could already perceive, although not quite clearly, how much of Schelling's writing was written down by him under inspiration, and that that inspiring figure was Julian the Apostate — Herzeleide — Tycho Brahe. He has not appeared again himself on the physical plane, but he worked with tremendous strength through the soul of Schelling. Then I became aware how greatly Tycho Brahe had progressed in his life as Tycho Brahe. Through Schelling's bodily nature little could penetrate; but once we know how the individuality of Tycho Brahe hovered over him as an inspirer, we read the lightning-flashes of genius in the Divinities of Samothrace quite differently. We read the flashes of genius above all in the Philosophy of Revelation, and in Schelling's interpretation of the ancient Mysteries, which is, after all, magnificent of its kind. And especially if we enter deeply enough into the curious language he uses in these passages, then presently we hear, no longer the voice of Schelling but the voice of Tycho Brahe! Then indeed we become aware how, among other spirits, this Tycho Brahe, especially the individuality who was in Julian the Apostate, played a great part, and contributed many things. For by his genius many a thing arose in the spiritual life of modern time which worked in turn as a stimulus, and whence we were to borrow at least the external form and expression for the spirit and teachings of Anthroposophy.

Another of the writings of German philosophers which made a great impression on me was Jakob Froschhammer's book, Die Phantasie als Welt-Prinzip, a brilliant book at the end of the 19th century, brilliant because this courageous man, having been driven from the Church, and his writings placed in the Index, was no less courageous in the face of science, for he revealed the kinship of the creative principle of fancy working purely in the soul when man creates artistically, with the force that works within as the force of life and growth. In that time it was indeed an achievement. Froschhammer's book on fancy or imagination as a world-principle, as a world-creative power, is indeed a work of great importance.

Thus I was greatly interested in this man, Jakob Froschhammer. Once more I tried to get at him in a real sense, not only through his writings, and once again I found that the inspiring spirit was the same who had lived in Tycho Brahe and in Julian the Apostate. And so it was in a whole number of personalities in whose working we can see a certain preparation for what then came forth as Anthroposophy.

But in each case we need the spiritual light behind, the light which works within the super-sensible. For what came to earth before remained, after all, in a world of abstraction. It is only now and then, in a spirit such as Schelling, or in a man of courage like Jakob Froschhammer, that the abstractions suddenly grow concrete.

And to-day, my dear friends, we may look up to what is working there in spiritual realms, and we may know how Anthroposophy stands in relation to it. And well we know how we are being helped by that which we perceive when we extend our spiritual research into the detailed realities of spiritual life in the course of history. Well may we know it. Here upon earth, striving honestly towards Anthroposophy, there are numbers of souls who have always stood near to the stream of Michael. Added to these, in the super-sensible world, are numbers of souls who have remained behind, among them the teachers of Chartres. And between those who are here in the world of sense, and those who are above in the spiritual world, there is a decided tendency to unite their work with one another.

And now if we would find a great helper for those things which we must investigate for the future of the 20th century, if we would find one who can advise us in relation to the super-sensible world, if we need impulses that are there within that world, it is the individuality of Julian the Apostate — Tycho Brahe who can help us. He is not on the physical plane to-day; but in reality he is always there, always ready to give information on those matters especially which concern the prophetic future of the 20th century.

Taking all these things together it does indeed emerge that those who receive Anthroposophy in a sincere way at the present time are preparing their souls to shorten as far as possible the life between death and a new birth, and to appear again at the end of the 20th century, united with the teachers of Chartres who have remained behind.

We should receive into our souls this consciousness: That the Anthroposophical Movement is called to work on and on, and to appear again not only in its most important, but in nearly all its souls, at the end of the 20th century. For then the great impulse will be given for a spiritual life on earth, without which earthly civilisation would finally be drawn into that decadence, the character of which is only too apparent.

Out of such foundations, I would fain kindle in your hearts something of the flames that we require, so that already now within the Anthroposophical Movement we may absorb the spiritual life strongly enough to appear again properly prepared. For in that great epoch after shortened life in spiritual worlds we shall work again on earth — in the epoch when for the salvation of the earth the spiritual Powers are reckoning in their most important members, in their most important features, on what Anthroposophists can do.

I think the vision of this perspective of the future may stir the hearts of Anthroposophists to call forth within themselves the feelings which will carry them in a right way, with energy and strength of action and with the beauty of enthusiasm, through the present earthly life; for then this earthly life will be a preparation for the work at the end of the century when Anthroposophy will be called upon to play its part.

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