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Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation

Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation - Lecture 6: Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation

Schmidt Number: S-3632

On-line since: 31st May, 2014

Lecture VI

Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation

12th January, 1919

Last night dear Frau Dr. Leyh died. I believe from the very fact of her expending so much energy in playing her part in this organisation during the last weeks of her life on earth, in spite of severe illness that made it hard for her to come up and down here—I believe that from the keenness with which she shared in our work you will have been able simply through these facts, particularly when you have so constantly seen her here, to feel what a delightful and precious personality has left us if one is to speak in the terms of outer space.

Those of our friends who tended her devotedly during the last days of her earthly life, who stood by her in friendship and devotion, have shown in every case of this standing-by, in all the help given her, how fond they had become of this personality. I need not dwell at length on what we all feel in our hearts. Those who have now had the opportunity of knowing this personality so well in her intimate circle, not only during her suffering of the last weeks but all through her spiritual striving, her wonderful spiritual struggles, which came to such a grand conclusion that even on her last day she was deep in many great ideas about our world-outlook—those with her in her intimate circle, and also those less intimately connected with her (as I said, I need not labour this) will send their thoughts towards the spiritual region
where henceforth our good friend will be. They will be following her and will use every moment possible to be together in spirit with one whom physically they have been permitted to be so closely connected with in the spirit of our world conception, in times when the friend who has gone could joyfully follow but also in times when she had to follow only with sorrow, what our Anthroposophical development wills.

In token of this, my dear friends, we will rise from our seats.

Yesterday I wanted to make it clear that, looked at from one side, the actual content, the deeper content, of the Christ impulse that has come into the world through the Mystery of Golgotha, has not been entirely imparted to mankind either all at once nor during the relatively long time that there has been a Christianity up to now. During the whole of the future, ever more and more of the content of the Christ impulse will be imparted to mankind; in fact there is deep truth in the saying of Christ Jesus; “For, lo, I am with you away even unto the end of the world.” And Christ did not mean that He would be inactive among men but that He would be revealing Himself actively, entering into their souls, giving souls encouragement, giving them strength; so that when these souls know what is happening within them they find the way, they are able to find the connection with the Christ and feel themselves strong for their earthly striving.

But just in this age of ours, this age of consciousness, it is necessary for all this to be clear, as far as may be today, and as I have said the content will flow forth in an ever clearer and richer stream for men. For this very reason it is already necessary today to make clear to ourselves what actually belongs to the revelation of the Christ impulse. To come to a right understanding on this point we must first be permeated by the knowledge that the human race has really developed, really changed, in the course of the earth period. One can best describe the change by saying that when we look back into very ancient times on earth, times long before the Mystery of Golgotha, we find on close scrutiny that the bodily nature of man was more spiritual than it is today. And it was this bodily nature of man that allowed the visions to arise which in a certain way revealed to atavistic clairvoyance the supersensible world. But this faculty, this force, for making oneself acquainted with the spiritual world by atavistic clairvoyance, became gradually lost to mankind. And just at the time when the Mystery of Golgotha was approaching there was indeed a crisis. This crisis showed that the force in connection with the revelation of the spiritual had sunk to its lowest degree in man's bodily nature.

Now from that point of time, from that critical point, there had to arise a strengthening of the soul and spirit, a strengthening of the power of soul and spirit, corresponding to the weakening of bodily power. Here in the earthly body we have to count on our body as an instrument. Man would simply not have been capable of acquiring in his soul and spirit the new strength necessary to meet the lowering of his bodily forces, had he net received help from a region that was not of the earth, a region outside the earth, had not something entered the earth from outside— namely, the Christ impulse. Man would have been too weak to make any progress by himself.

And this can be seen particularly clearly if we look at the nature of the old Mysteries. What purpose did these old Mysteries serve? On the whole it may be said: the great masses of our forefathers (which means of ourselves, for in our former life we were indeed the very men we now call forefathers) these men in very ancient days were furnished with a much duller consciousness than that of today. They were more instinctive beings. And the men of this instinctive nature would never have been able to find their way into a knowledge that is nevertheless necessary for man's good, for his support, for his growing powers of consciousness. And certain personalities initiated into the Mysteries, whose Karma called them to do so could then proclaim to the others who led a more instinctive life the truths that may be called the truths of salvation. This instruction, however, could only be given in those olden days out of a certain constitution of the human organism, the human being, a constitution no longer existing. The Mystery Ceremonies, the organisation of the Mysteries in their various stages, depended upon a man becoming a different person through the Mysteries. Today, this can no longer really be pictured because through external arrangements (recently I have given an account of these in the Egyptian Mysteries) (cf. R LII.) it is not possible at the stage we are in today. By bringing about certain functions, certain inner experiences of soul, the man's nature really became so transformed that the spiritual was liberated in full consciousness. But the pupil in the Mysteries was prepared to begin with in such a way that this spiritual did not become free in the chaotic condition that it does today in sleep; a man could really perceive in the spiritual. The great experience undergone by Mystery pupils was that after initiation they knew about the spiritual world as a man through his eyes and ears knows about the physical world of the senses. After that they were able to proclaim what they knew of the spiritual world.

But the time came when a man's nature could no longer be straightway transformed in this manner by such doings as those in the ancient Mysteries. Man did indeed change in the course of history. Something different had to come and the different thing that came was actually what at a certain stage man had experienced in the Mysteries, the inner resurrection, enacted as historical fact on Golgotha. Now this had happened historically. A man, Jesus—for outwardly as a man going about He was the man Jesus—had gone through the Mystery of Golgotha. Those who were His intimates knew, however, that after a certain time He appeared among them as a living being (how this was we will not go into today) and that therefore the resurrection is a truth.

Thus we may say: In the course of human evolution the fact once came about that at a certain place on earth the news was proclaimed that through a force coming from beyond the the earth, the Christ impulse, a man had triumphed over death: and thus the overcoming of death could actually be one of the experiences, one of the practical experiences, of earthly existence. And what was the consequence? The consequence was that in the historical evolution of man there had taken place something intellectually incomprehensible, something which should now develop in a special way, something belonging to the progress of man. For it is incomprehensible to the human intellect that a man should die, be buried and rise again. To save the evolution of the earth something therefore was necessary, something had to happen, in the physical course of earthly evolution that is incomprehensible to the understanding which can be employed quite well where nature is in question, but incomprehensible to the intellect that is applied to nature. And it is only honourable to admit that the farther men progress in the development of this intellect—and development in the consciousness age is pre-eminently development of the intellect—the more incomprehensible must the event of Golgotha become for this intellect that is above all directed to external nature. We can put it like this—anyone only conscious of the way the ordinary intellect is applied when directed to Nature, must in honesty gradually come to own that he does not understand the Mystery of Golgotha. But he must give himself a shake for nevertheless he must understand. This is what is essential—to give oneself a shake, and simply think oneself out above the sound human understanding. This is essential, it is something that necessarily must happen—to give oneself this shake so as in spite of all to learn to understand something apparently incomprehensible precisely for the highest human force.

There must be ever more and more a going back—the greater the development of the intellect upon which the flourishing of science depends, the more the understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha will have to retreat before the intellectual development. It was for this reason also that in a certain sense historically chosen for understanding the Mystery of Golgotha—in the way I have explained the Mystery of Golgotha to you—it was not the cultured Hebrews, nor the cultured Greeks, nor the cultured Romans, who as I said yesterday converted it into different conceptions, but above all it was the northern barbarians, with their primitive culture, who in their primitive souls received the Christ Who came to them just as He came to Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed in the sense of what I was discussing with you yesterday it may be said: The Christ came first to the man Jesus of Nazareth in the event of Golgotha. There mankind was shown—the mankind of the Hebrews, the mankind of the Greeks, mankind of the Romans—the most important of all happenings in earthly existence. But after that Christ came once again, united Himself with the men who peopled the East and the North of Europe, who by no manner of means possessed the culture of the Hebrews nor of the Greeks, nor of the Romans. There He did not unite Himself with individual man, there He united Himself with the folk souls of these tribes. Yesterday, however, we had to emphasise that these tribes gradually evolved. They had to a certain degree to overtake at a fifth stage what at a fourth stage had been accomplished by the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin peoples. And yesterday we dwelt on the fact that it was only at Goethe's epoch that the epoch of Plato was reached for this later time. In Goethe himself, for the fifth post-Atlantean period, the Platonism of the Greeks of the fourth post-Atlantean period was repeated. Yet in Goetheanism man still had not come to the point at which he already faced the entirely new form of grasping the Mystery of Golgotha, but, as I said yesterday, he was in a state of expectation.

This attitude towards the Mystery of Golgotha on the part of more recent mankind can be particularly well studied if one comes to a real understanding of the personality, but for the moment the personality of soul and spirit of Goethe. It is absolutely in accordance with Spiritual Science for us to ask the following question: Where do Goethe and those who belong to him, the various minds who were in connection with him, stand as the eighteenth century passed into the nineteenth; where does Goetheanism stand with regard to mankind's evolution, with regard to understanding the Christ impulse? We might first consider how Goethe actually stood within European evolution.

Now it will be well here to recall something I have often said to you during these years of catastrophe, it will be just as well to go back to the answer to the question—where are the European periphery tending with their American off shoots? We should not forget that whoever turns his gaze without prejudice to these civilisations on the periphery of Europe, knows that in what English culture consists, in the cultures too of France, Italy, the Balkans, as as there has been progression here, but even behind the culture of Eastern Europe, all this has been rayed out from the centre of Europe; all these cultures have been radiated out. Naturally it would be dreadfully prejudiced to believe that what today is Italian culture, Italian civilisation, is anything but what has been radiated throughout Italy from mid-Europe, but absorbed into the Latin nature, still there in the language and outer form. It would be shocking prejudice to think that English civilisation is intrinsically different from what has streamed out from mid-Europe, and actually merely appropriated again in its language and so on in another way, in reality far less than the Italian or French way. But all that France, England, Italy and, even in mare respects, what Eastern Europe is, has been rayed out from central Europe. And in this centre there has now remained what indeed we have just found left after the streaming out of these cultures, what has remained as the womb out of which Goetheanism has evolved. We are faced today by this fact, a fact to be calmly accepted, that what has rayed forth into the periphery is working with all its power to bring to naught, to
nullify, even where soul and spirit are in question, everything existing in mid-Europe from which it has streamed. There will come a time when the world will look in a quite different way from how it does today upon this monstrous phenomenon in human events, where the world is reedy to set up as idols fourteen corpses of western thought. At some future date mankind will realise that there came about what may be called the absolute desire to exterminate what thus radiated out in all directions. It goes without saying that the tragedy of this fact will bear its fruit.

For connected with this fact, we see appearing in a further step forward of Europe's evolution, with the exception of the period during recent decades when other forces may be said to have held sway, all that prepared a way for itself and developed throughout the centuries by reason of the personal characteristics of those who in the most various directions developed these civilisations—we see all this streaming forth from the whole of Central Europe. How little inclination mankind has today for forming unprejudiced judgment on this point: I think I may say that, at the time the last traces were to be found of what assured the matter a fully scientific basis, I myself actually stood in intimate connection with it; my old friend, Karl Julius Schröer, was studying the various dialects, the various languages and the various natures of those sections of the people looked upon as German nationals of North Hungary, of Siebenburg and formerly of the various districts in Austria. Whoever observes here all that refers to the unpretentious dictionary and grammar of the Zips-German of Siebenburg Saxony in Schröer's studies which, in personal collaboration with him in the studies he was then making concerning the spread of mid-European culture, I was permitted to comment upon, whoever does this may say that he was still connected with a knowledge unhappily no longer even noticed today amid the confusion and turmoil of events. But let us look at this Hungary where, you must know, purely Magyar culture has been-supposedly established in the course of recent decades, since the year 1867; let us look there, not with political unreality, political delusion, political hatred, let us look in conformity with the truth. It will then be discovered that in the regions that afterwards, later, were supposed to be magyarised as countries of the Magyars, men from the Rhine were moved in—like the Siebenburg Saxons, men from further west, like the Germans of Zips, men out of modern Swabia, like the Germans of Bana. All this is the leaven forming the basis of the Magyar culture over which is now simply poured what then in reality was only developed very late as Magyar culture. At the basis of this Magyar culture, however, though perhaps not in anything expressible in language, but rather in the feelings, in the experiences, in the whole national character, there has always flowed in what has for centuries come from Central Europe.

Astonishing as it is, were you just to take the whole of European history, you could make a study of this in all the periphery regions of Europe. In the east the Slav wave came up against what radiated from the centre, and what radiated from the centre was pushed aside by the Slav wave—in the west by the Latin wave. And through a tragic chain of events, having, however, an inner historical necessity, the periphery then turned against what still remained in the womb of the centre, turned in such a way that from this turning a fact becomes clear—it may be believed or not, it may easily be mocked or scoffed at or not—what remained in mid-Europe grew out of Goetheanism, grasped by soul ant spirit in its reality and its truth, all this no longer meets with any understanding in the best intelligence of the periphery. Of this it might be said: The actual substance of what is the essence of mid-Europe is spoken of everywhere, even in the American countries, as though people had no notion of it. People may have no notion of it, but world history will bring it to the surface. This is what can give one strength in a certain sense to be able to hold fast to it.

It is true, my dear friends, on Silvester eve I gave you here a picture worked out by a man who is well able to make a calculation about the future relations of central Europe. (see Z 269.) If everything is fulfilled, even if only part is fulfilled, of what the periphery countries are wanting, these relations cannot be otherwise. But out of all this, the extermination of which for external existence has been decided upon, indeed the extermination of which will be fulfilled above everything else during the next years, the next decades—for so it has been determined in the councils of the periphery powers—within all this there has been the last shaping of what we described yesterday; there was within it the last shaping of what is nevertheless important as a leaven for the evolution of men. It must flow in, this evolution simply must go on of which I gave you a picture in what has to do with the Magyars. This radiating will indeed continue.

But particularly in central Europe all that during the last decades has certainly been very little understood there, will have to be grasped. Something of the nature of what lies in the aims of the threefold ordering of social existence, as I have presented it, will have to be understood. It will be central Europe itself that will be called upon to understand this threefold ordering. And perhaps if this centre of Europe has no external state, if this centre of Europe is obliged to live tragically in chaos, there will then be the first beginnings of understanding that we have to overcome those old outlooks for which the periphery of Europe is at present struggling, for these old outlooks will be unable to be maintained even by the European periphery. The old concept of the state will vanish, it will give place to the separation into three parts. And what constitutes Goetheanism will indeed have to enter this external life. Whether or not it is given this name is immaterial. The essential thing is that Goethe's world-outlook foresees what simply must be made clear also where the forming of human society is concerned. But all this can be discovered only if we take the trouble to understand this representative, this most representative being of all Germans—Goethe. For he is such a perfect representative of the German nature just because he is so entirely without national Chauvinism or anything at all reminiscent of Chauvinism or nationalism, as understood today. There must be an attempt to understand this man who represents all that is new, this most modern man, at the same time this most fruitful of men in his being for all that is spiritual culture. It cannot be said that mankind have yet reached a high point in their comprehension of Goethe. In his environment Goethe felt very mush alone. And even were Goethe one of those personalities who accustom themselves to social intercourse, who even develop a certain adroitness and grace in society so that a possible relation is set up to their environment, even were this so, the real Goethe living in the inner circle of Weimar and later in outward appearance the stout Privy Councillor with the double chin—the man who inwardly lived in this stout Privy Councillor felt lonely. And in a certain way he may be said still to be alone today. He is alone for a quite definite reason and must feel himself alone. This feeling of cultural isolation, this feeling of his that he was not understood, perhaps underlay his remarkable saying of later years: “Perhaps a hundred years hence Germans will be different from what they are now, perhaps from scholars they will have grown into human beings.”

My dear friends, this saying must touch us in the very depths of our soul. For, you see, we may look at the last years of the eighties, for example. When after the death of the last of Goethe's grandchildren in Weimar the Archives of Goethe and Schiller and the Goethe Society were founded, these were founded by a gathering of men—truly I want to say it in the best sense of the word—by a gathering of scholars. In fact the Goethe cult was organised by men, by personalities, who really had not grown out of scholars into men. One may even go farther. You know how much I revere Herman Grimm, the art historian, the subtle essayist (cf. The Story of My Life, also E.N.43.) and I have never made any secret of my admiration nor spoken to you in any different way about my admiration for Herman Grimm. I have also unconditionally admitted to you that I consider what has come from Herman Grimm's pen about Goethe as the best book as biography, as monography, that has been written about him. But now take this book of Herman Grimm's; it is written out of a certain human affection and width of outlook, but take it as giving a picture of Goethe himself which arises when you have let the book have its affect upon you. What is this figure Goethe? It is just a ghost, a ghost rather than the living Goethe. If these things are taken earnestly and in a spirit worthy of them one cannot help feeling that should Herman Grimm meet Goethe today, or had he met Goethe during his life time, because he harboured fervent admiration for him in the tradition built up about Goethe, he would have been ready at any moment to say: Goethe is predestined to be the spiritual king not only of mid-Europe but of all mankind. Indeed Herman Grimm, had it come his way, would have even gone to great lengths to serve as herald, had it been a question of making Goethe king of all earthly culture. But neither can one get free of the other feelings Had Herman Grimm got into conversation with Goethe, or Goethe with Herman Grimm, Herman Grimm would hardly have found it possible to understand what was in the depths of Goethe's being. For what he portrays in his book, although undoubtedly the best he knew of Goethe, is nothing but the shadow thrown by Goethe on his surroundings, the impression he made upon his age. There is nothing here, not even the slightest suggestion, of what lived in Goethe's soul—but merely a ghost out of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and not what was living deep down in Goethe.

This is a remarkable phenomenon which must be pondered in the soul in all seriousness and with due consideration. And if we look away from all this well, not Goetheanism but Goethe-worship that even a hundred years after Goethe is in reality far more scholarly than human, if we look back at Goethe himself, beneath much of what is great, much of what is grandiose confronting us in Goethe, we see one thing above all. Much, curiously much in Goethe—just take The Mysteries Frau Dr. Steiner recited here a short time ago, take the Pandora, take the Prometheus Fragment, (cf. E.N. 36) or some other work, take the fact that The Natural Daughter is only the first part of an incomplete trilogy, or the fact that in this fragment there was expressed something of the very greatest that lived in Goethe, and you have the strange, the quite strange, fact that when Goethe set himself to express what was greatest he never brought it to a conclusion. This was because he was sufficiently honest, not outwardly to round off the matter, to bring it to perfection, as a poet, an artist, will even do, but simply to leave off when the inner source of strength became dry. This is the reason wily so much remained unfinished: But the matter goes further, my dear friends. The matter goes far enough for us to be able to say: In an external way Faust is certainly brought to a conclusion, but how much in Faust is inwardly unsound, how much in it is like the figure of Mephistopheles itself. Read what I have said about Faust and about the figure of Mephistopheles in the recently published booklet on Goethe, where I spoke of how Goethe in his Mephistopheles set up a figure that in reality does not exist, for In this figure the two figures of Lucifer and Ahriman merge into one another and interweave in a chaotic way. And in the course of the week you will see presented here the last scenes before the appearance of Helen, before the third Act of the second part of Faust, something completed in Goethe's advanced age, something, however, on the one hand impressive, deep, powerful, on the other hand though finished to outward appearance, inwardly quite unfinished. It contains everywhere hints of what Goethe was hankering after, which however would not come into his soul. If we regard Faust from the point of view of its human greatness we have before us a work of gigantic proportions; if we look from the point of view of the greatness that would have lived in it had Goethe in his time been able to bring forth all that lay in his soul, then we have a frail, brittle work everywhere incomplete in itself. (see R LV.)

What Goethe left to those coming after him is perhaps the most powerful testament. That they should not only acknowledge him, that they do not acknowledge him today as a great scholar, or even as a man of certain culture, is easy to understand but Goethe did not make our attitude to him as easy as that. Goethe has to live among us as if he were still alive; he must be further felt, further thought. What is most significant in Goetheanism does not remain where Goethe was, for in his time he was not able to bring it into his soul out of the spiritual, and only the tendency is everywhere present. Goethe demands of us that we should work with him, think with him, feel with him, that we should carry on his task just as though he were standing behind each one of us, tapping us on the shoulder, giving us advice. In this sense it may be said that the whole of the nineteenth century and up to our own time, Goethe has been given the cold shoulder. And the task of our time is to find the way back to Goethe. Strictly speaking nothing is more foreign to real Goetheanism than the whole earthly culture, external earthly culture, with the exception of the modicum of spiritual culture that we have—nothing is more foreign than the earthly culture of the end of the nineteenth century or even of the twentieth century. The way back to Goethe must be found through the Spiritual Science of Anthroposophy.

This can be understood only by one who can go straight for the question: where did Goethe stand actually and in reality? You have from Goethe the most honest human avowal (I spoke of this yesterday) that he started out from paganism as it also corresponded to Platonism. The boy erected for himself a pagan altar to Nature, then the man Goethe was most strongly influenced not by all that was derived from the traditional Christianity of the Church, this fundamentally always remained foreign to him because his world-outlook is a world-outlook of expectancy, of awaiting the new understanding of the mystery of Golgotha. Those who in the old, traditional sense embraced the faith of the Christian Church in comfort, or even wished within this Christian Church to carry through all manner of purely outward reforms, were not in reality, closely related to him inwardly, where soul and spirit are concerned. Actually he always felt as he did when, travelling with the two apparently good Christians Lavater and Baswdow; two men who represented a progressive but at the same time old ecclesiastical Christianity, he said: “Prophets to right, prophets to left and the worldling in the middle.” It was his actual feeling between two of his contemporaries that he thus gave voice to; as opposed to the Christians around him he was always the definite non-Christian for the very reason that he was to prepare mankind for the Christ mood of waiting.

And so we see three men in a remarkable war having the very greatest influence upon his spiritual culture. These three men are actually thorough worldlings in a certain sense; ordinary Christian ministers were not popular with Goethe. The three personalities having such a great influence upon him are, first Shakespeare. Why had Shakespeare such a decisive influence upon Goethe? This was simply because Goethe aimed at building a bridge from the human to the superhuman, not in accordance with any abstract rule, not out of an intellectuality open to influence, but out of what is human itself. Goethe needed to hold fast to the human so that within it he might find the passage over from the human to the superhuman. Thus we see Goethe making every effort to model, to form the human, to work out of the human as Shakespeare did to a certain degree. Look how Goethe took hold of The History of Godfried Von Berlichingen with the Iron Hand, Berlichingen's autobiography; how altering it as little as possible he dramatised this history and moulded the first figure of his Götz von Berlichingen; how then he formed a second figure out of him, this time more transformed, having more shape—then a third. In a way Goethe seeks his own straight forward path which holding to Shakespeare's humanity, but out of the human he is wanting to form the superhuman.

This he first succeeded in doing when, on his Italian travels (read his letters), he believes he can recognise from what is near to him, from the Greek works of art, how the Greeks pursued the same intentions, the divine intentions, according to which nature herself proceeds. He goes on his own path, his own individual, personal,true, path of experience. He could not accept what those around him said—he had to find his own way.

The second mind that had an enormous influence upon him, was that of a decided non-Christian, namely, Spinoza. In Spinoza he had the possibility of finding the divine in the way this divine is found a man wishing to make a road for himself leading from the human to the superhuman. Fundamentally Spinoza's thoughts bear the last impression of the intellectual age of the old Hebrew approach to God. As such, Spinoza's thoughts are very far from the Christ-impulse. Spinoza's thoughts, however, are such that the human soul as it were finds in them the thread to which to hold when seeking that way. There within men is my being, from this human being I seek to press on to what is superhuman. This way that he could follow, that he did not have to have dictated to him, that be could fellow while following Spinoza, this path Goethe in a certain sense, at a certain stage in his life, looked upon as his.

And the third of the spirits having the greatest influence upon him was the botanist Linnaeus. Why Linnaeus? Linnaeus for the reason that Goethe would have no other kind botanical science, no other science of the living being, but one which simply placed the living beings in juxtaposition, in a row as Linnaeus has done. Goethe would have nothing to do with the abstract thinking that thinks out all kinds of thoughts about plant classes, species and so on. What he considered important was to let Linnaeus work upon him as a man who placed things beside one another. For from a higher standpoint than that of the people who follow up the plants in an abstract way, what Linnaeus conscientiously placed next to each other as plant forms Goethe wanted to pursue after his own fashion, just as the spirit makes itself felt in this side by side arrangement.

It is just these three spirits who really could give Goethe what was lacking in the intimate circle of his life at the time, but was something he had to find outside; it is just these spirits who had the strongest influence upon him. Goethe himself had nothing of Shakespeare in him, for when he came to the climax of his art he created his Natural Daughter, which certainly contained nothing of Shakespeare's art but strove after something entirely different. He could, however, develop his inmost being only by educating himself in Shakespeare. Goethe's world-outlook had nothing in it of the abstract Spinoza; what was deep within Goethe, however, as his way to God could only be reached through Spinoza. Goethe's morphology had nothing of the placing side by side of the organic being, as in the case of Linnaeus, but, Goethe needed the possibility of taking from Linnaeus what he himself did not have. And what he had to give was something new.

Thus then did Goethe develop and came to his fortieth year, brought up on Shakespeare, Linnaeus and Spinoza; and having gone through what in the way of art Italy could show him he said when there about these works of art: “Here is necessity, here is God”. And as he lived in the spirit of his epoch there took place in him in a strong but unconscious way, also, however, to a certain extent consciously, what may be called his meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold.

And now, bearing in mind his passing the Guardian of the Threshold in the early nineties of the eighteenth century, compare words sounding like prayers to Isis in ancient Egypt, reminiscent of the old Egyptian Isis, such as those in the Prose-Hymn to Nature just recited to you by Frau Dr. Steiner—compare these words in which Goethe had still a quite pagan feeling, with those that as powerful imagination meet you in The Fairy tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, there you have Goethe's path from paganism to Christianity. But there in pictures stands what Goethe became after going through the region of the Threshold, after he passed the Guardian of the Threshold. It stands there in pictures which he himself was unable to analyse for people in intellectual thoughts, which all the same are mighty pictures. Whither are we obliged to go if we wish to understand the Goethe who wrote the fairy tale of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily? Consider what is written about the fairy tale of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily in the little book on Goethe already mentioned. (see Goethe's Standard of the Soul) When we really look at this we are confronted by the fact that Goethe created this fairy story of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily as a mighty Imagination, after passing the Guardian of the Threshold.

This fairy tale of The Green snake and the Beautiful Lily that has sprung from a soul transformed, sprang forth after the soul found the bridge from pagan experience as it still finds utterance in the Hymn in Prose. “Nature! we are surrounded and enveloped by her, unable to step out of her, unable to get into her more deeply. She takes us up unasked and unwarned into the circle of her dance, and carries us along till we are wearied and fall from her arms” . . . “Even the unnatural is Nature . . . Everything is her life; and death is merely her ingenious way of having more life . . .” and so on and so forth.

This pagan Isis mood is changed into the deep truths, not to be grasped at once by the intellect, lying in the mighty Imaginations of The Green Snake end the Beautiful Lily where Goethe set down uncompromisingly how all that man is able to find through the external science of Europe can only lead to the fantastic capers of a will-of-the wisp. He shows also, however, that what man develops within must lead him to develop the powers of his soul in such a way that the self-sacrificing serpent who sacrifices his own being to the progress of human evolution can became the model which enables the bridge to be built from the kingdom of the physical world of the senses to the kingdom of the superphysical; and between these there rises the Temple, the new temple, by means of which the supersensible kingdom may be experienced.

Certainly, in this fairy story of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily there is no talk of Christ. But just as little as Christ asked of a good follower that he should always just be saying Lord, Lord! is he a good Christian who always says Christ, Christ! The manner in which the pictures are conceived, the way the human soul is thought out in its metamorphosis in this fairy story of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, the sequence of the thoughts, the force of the thoughts—this is Christian, this is the new path to Christ. For, why is this? In Goethe's day there were a number of interpretations of this fairy tale and since then in addition to those there have been many more. We have thought to throw light on to the fairy tale from the standpoint of Spiritual Science. My dear friends, I may, (here in this circle I may venture to speak out about this) I have the right to speak about this fairy tale. It was at the end of the eighties of the nineteenth century when the knot of this fairy tale untied itself for me. And I have never since forsaken the path that should lead farther and farther into the understanding of Goethe, with the help of the mighty Imaginations embodied In the fairy tale of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. It may be said that the intellect that leads us quite well in our search for scientific truths, this intellect that can quite well guide us in acquiring an external outlook on nature and its conditions, at this precise moment so favourable to such an outlook, when anyone wishes to understand the fairy tale, this intellect is found absolutely wanting. It is necessary here to let the intellect be fructified by the conceptions of Spiritual Science. Here you have, transformed for our age and its conditions, what is necessary to all mankind for understanding the Mystery of Golgotha.

For understanding the Mystery of Golgotha the intellect must first be re-forced; it must move itself, jerk itself. No jerk is needed for understanding external nature. It has become ever more impossible for Latin culture as well as for the German—for the Latin because it is too greatly decedent, for the German culture because up to now it has not sufficiently evolved—it has become ever more impossible out of mere intellectuality to school the soul so far that it can find the new way to the Mystery of Golgotha. When, however, you develop the possibility in you, can you re-shape the forces of the soul so that they begin in a natural inner speech to find the passage over to the pictorial for which Goethe strove, then you school the forces of your soul so that they find the way to the new comprehension of the Mystery of Golgotha. This is what is important.

Goethe's significance does not lie only in that he accomplished; it lies above all In what he does to our soul when we fully surrender ourselves to the profoundest depths of his being. Then gradually mankind will be able even consciously to find the path an which to pass the Guardian of the Threshold, the path Goethe fortunately, took while still, unconscious, and on that account was unable to finish just those works in which he wished to express all that was deepest in him. In this soul of Goethe's there lived a shimmering and glimmering of what was conscious and what was unconscious, what was attainable and what was out of reach. When we let such a poem as The Mysteries work upon us, or when we let Pandora work upon us, or any of the things Goethe left unfinished, we have the feeling that in this very incompletion there lies something that must free itself in the souls of those following after Goethe, something that will have to be completed as a great spiritual picture.

Goethe was lonely. Where it was a question of Goethe's real being he was lonely, lonely in his evolution. Goetheanism contains much that is hidden. But, my dear friends, even though the nineteenth century has not yet produced human beings out of scholars, whereas Goethe struggled through out of a scholarly to a human world-outlook, evolution must indeed go forward with the help of Goethe's impulse. I said yesterday and repeat today that the force bound up with the Mystery of Golgotha once united itself in a little known province of the Roman Empire with the man Jesus of Nazareth, and then with the Folk souls at central Europe after that, however, this force became inward. And out of what was weaving there inwardly in central Europe came such results as we find in Goethe and the whole of Goetheanism. But it is just the nineteenth century that has had a great share in letting Goetheanism lie in its grave. In every sphere the nineteenth Century has done everything possible to leave Goetheanism in its grave.

The scholars Who in Weimar founded the Goethe Society at the end of the eighties of the nineteenth century would much rather have belonged to those who buried Goetheanism than to those who could raise any thing of this Goetheanism from the deed. Quite certainly the time has not come for Goetheanism to be able to live yet for the external life. The time depends on what we have often spoken of, namely, on the renewal of the human soul through Spiritual Science. Whatever may come to this Europe that now in a certain sense would bring about its own death, the grave which above all, first of all, the lack of thought in modern culture is digging, this grave will nevertheless also be a grave from which something will rise again. I have already pointed to the fact that the Christ spirit united itself with the folk souls of middle Europe; Goetheanism arose in the bosom of these folk souls. A resurrection will come, a resurrection not to be conceived as political, a resurrection that will have a very different appearance—but resurrection it will be. Goetheanism, my dear friends is not alive, Goetheanism for outer culture is still resting in the move: Goetheanism must however rise again from the dead.

Let the building that we have sought to set up on this hill bear testimony to the sincerity of our purpose, with the necessary courage for the present time to undertake the bringing to life of G0etheanism. For this, it is true we should need the courage to understand and penetrate in its ungoethean way what has up till now called itself Goetheanism. We should have to learn to acclaim Goethe's spirit to the same degree as the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth have disowned it, denied it in every possible sphere. Then the path of knowledge acquired through Spiritual Science, a path that is to be found unconditionally, will be connected with the historical path of the resurrection of Goetheanism. But it will also be connected with what can come from this resurrection of Goetheanism, that is, the impulse towards a new understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, that right understanding of the Christ which is necessary for our particular age. Perhaps the pathfinder of the Christianity necessary for mankind in the future will be recognised as the decidedly non-Christian Goethe who, like Christ Himself, did not ask for the constant repetition of “Lord, Lord . . .” but that man should carry his spirit in his heart, in his mind; and that in Goetheanism it should not always be a matter of “Christ, Christ . . .” but all the more that what has flowed into men as reality from the Mystery of Golgotha should be preserved in the heart, so that this heart should gradually change abstract and intellectual knowledge, the present knowledge about nature, into something by means of which the supersensible world is seen, so that men may be given the force for a deeper knowledge of the world and for a shaping of the social structure that is worthy of the human being.



Last Modified: 26-Jun-2017
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