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The Mission of Folk-Souls

Lecture 1

Schmidt Number: S-2246

On-line since: 17th September, 2005

In connection with Germanic and Scandinavian Mythology.



Study Guide: Souls of the Nations — First Lecture ]

Christiania (Oslo), 7th June, 1910.

It affords me great satisfaction to be able to speak somewhat at length for the third time to our friends here in Norway, and I should like briefly to reply, in answer to our dear friend Mr. Eriksen, that the words of hearty greeting which he has just spoken are responded to by me in an equally deep and heartfelt manner.

I hope that this course of lectures, which I am about to begin, may add somewhat to the knowledge of what we may call the entire picture of our view of the world. I should like to call your attention to the fact that this particular course of lectures must necessarily contain something that is as yet rather remote from modern human thinking, but which nevertheless belongs to the most profound truths of spiritual science. I therefore request those of our esteemed friends who have occupied themselves less with the more far-reaching questions of Anthroposophy, to take into consideration that we should not make progress in our work, if we did not from time to time take a mighty leap, make a vigorous move forward into regions of spiritual knowledge that are really somewhat remote from modern human thought, feeling and perception.

From this point of view it will sometimes be necessary to meet our explanations with a certain amount of good-will; for were I to bring forward all that might be adduced in the way of evidence and proof of what will be said here in the next few days, it would require a much longer time. We should not advance in our knowledge of this particular subject, if we were not to make some little appeal to your goodwill and sympathetic spiritual understanding. For indeed the province which we touch upon here, is one which up to our own times has been more or less avoided by occultists, mystics and theosophists, for the reason, that a higher degree of open-mindedness is necessary, in order to accept the things that are to be said, without a certain degree of opposition that might now and then be felt.

Perhaps you will better understand what we mean if you remember, that at a certain stage of mystic or occult development one is called a ‘homeless man.’ This designation is a technical one, and if we wish to characterize without further ado — as we are not now speaking about the path of knowledge — what is to be understood by the term ‘homeless man,’ we may briefly say, that a man is called ‘homeless’ when, in his knowledge and grasp of the great laws of humanity, he cannot be influenced by all that usually arises in a person through living in his native country. A ‘homeless man’, we might also say, is one who is able to identify himself with the great mission of humanity as a whole, without the various shades of the particular feelings belonging to this or the other home-land playing any part. This will show you that a certain degree of maturity in mystical or occult development is necessary, in order to have a liberal point of view regarding something which we otherwise rightly consider great, which, in contradistinction to individual human life, we describe as the Mission of the several Folk-spirits, as that which brings, out of the foundations of a people, out of the spirit of the various peoples, the separate concrete contributions to the collective mission of humanity.

We shall therefore describe what we may call the greatness of that from which the ‘homeless man’ must in a certain respect free himself. Now the ‘homeless’ men of all times, from primeval ages down to our own day, have always known, that if they were to characterize in all its fullness that which is described as the character of homelessness, they would meet with very, very little understanding. In the first place a certain prejudice would be brought against these homeless men, which would be voiced in the reproach: ‘You have lost all connection with the nation from which you have sprung; you have no understanding for that which is usually most dear to a man’. This, however, is not really the case.

Homelessness is in reality — or at least it may be so — a détour or roundabout way, so that, after this sanctuary of homelessness has been attained, the way may be found back to the folk, in order to be in harmony with what is permanent in the evolution of mankind. Although it is necessary to begin by drawing attention to this, on the other hand it is also not without reason, that just as the present time, that which we call the Mission of the several Folk-souls of humanity, should for once be spoken of quite impartially. Just as it was right that, to a certain extent, silence should be maintained regarding their mission until the present time, there are good reasons why one should now begin to speak of this mission. It is especially important, because the fate of humanity in the near future will bring men together much more than has hitherto been the case, to fulfill a common mission for humanity. But the individuals belonging to the several peoples will only be able to bring their free, concrete contributions to this joint mission, if they have, first of all, an understanding of the folk to which they belong, an understanding of what we might call ‘The Self-knowledge of the Folk.’ In ancient Greece, in the Apollonic Mysteries the sentence ‘Know thyself’ played a great rôle; in a not far-distant future this sentence will be addressed to the Folk-souls; ‘Know yourselves as Folk-souls’. This saying will have a certain significance for the future work of mankind.

Now in our age it will be peculiarly difficult to recognize beings, who to external sensible perception and knowledge do not exist, so to speak. It may perhaps not be so difficult for our present time to acknowledge that a man, as he stands before us in the world, possesses certain members, certain portions of his being, which are super-sensible, invisible. The modern materialistic mind of man may perhaps admit more easily the view, that beings, who at all events as regards their external side can be seen physically, such as human beings, may also have a super-sensible invisible part. But it must appear very unreasonable to our age, to be told about beings, who to the ordinary view, are not there at all. For what after all is it that is still referred to here and there as the soul or spirit of a nation? At most it is something that passes as an attribute, a common attribute pertaining to so and so many hundred people, or millions of people, who are crowded together in a certain country. That besides these millions of people who are crowded together in this land, something real lives there as well, which would coincide with the conception of the Folk-spirit, — and which underlies this conception, — is difficult to make clear to the man of our present day. If one were to ask, — let us now say, in order to take something neutral — what does modern man understand by the Swiss nation-spirit? He would describe in abstract expressions a few attributes possessed by the people who inhabit the Swiss portion of the Alps and Jura, and it would be quite clear to him, that this does not correspond to anything that might be recognized with eyes or other organs of perception. The first thing to be done, must be openly and honestly to form the thought, that there are beings who do not directly manifest themselves to the senses, and do not present themselves at all to the ordinary material capacities of perception; that there are, so to speak amongst the beings perceptible to the senses, other beings invisibly at work, who work into the visible beings, just as the human being works into the hands or fingers, and that we may therefore speak of a Swiss Folk-spirit as we do of the spirit of a man, and that we can just as clearly distinguish the spirit of a man from what we see before us in his ten fingers, as we can distinguish the Swiss Folk-spirit from the millions of people living in the mountains of Switzerland. It is something quite different, a being, in fact, just as man himself is a being; only man is distinguished from a Folk-spirit by the fact that he presents to us a sensibly perceptible outer side. A human being presents himself to the external organs of perception; a Folk-spirit does not present himself in an external form that can be perceived or felt by the outer senses, but is nevertheless an absolutely real being.

Today we shall endeavor to form a sort of conception of a real being such as this. How do we proceed in spiritual science if we wish to form an idea of a real being? A characteristic example of how we do this is to be obtained by glancing in the first place at the being of man. If we wish to describe man anthroposophically, we distinguish in him the physical body, the etheric or life-body, the astral or sentient body, and that which we look upon as the highest member of the human being, the ‘ I ’. We know therefore that in what we call physical body, etheric body, astral body and ‘ I ’, we have before us so to speak the man of the present day. But you know also that we look forward to an evolution of mankind in the future, and that the ‘ I ’ works upon the three lower members of the human being, so that it spiritualizes them, transforming them from the present lower into the future higher forms. The ‘ I ’ will remodel and transform the astral, so that it will become something different from what it is to-day. The astral body will then represent what you know by the name of Spirit-self or Manas. In the same way a still higher work of the ‘ I ’ will be accomplished upon the etheric or life-body, by transforming it and remodeling it into what we call Life-spirit or Budhi; and finally, the highest work of man which we can imagine at present, is that man will spiritualize that member of his being which offers the greatest resistance, the physical body; he will transform it and change it into the spiritual. That will be the highest member of the human being, when the ‘ I ’ has re-shaped what at present is the physical body; that which to-day seems grossest and most material, will, when transformed by the ‘ I ’, become the Spirit-man or Atma. Thus we see three members of the human nature which have developed in the past, one in which we now live, and three others, out of which, in the future, the ‘ I ’ will make something new.

We know too, that between the work done in the past and that which will be done in the future to form the three higher members, there lies something else. We know that we must think of the ‘ I ’ itself as inwardly organized. It works upon a sort of intermediate being. Therefore we say, that between the astral body, such as man has it from the past, and the Spirit-self or Manas, which will develop in man out of this astral body in the distant future, there are the three preparatory members: the Sentient-soul, the lowest member in which the ‘ I ’ has worked, the Intellectual-soul or Mind-soul, and the Spiritual-soul; so that we may say to-day: of that which we are developing as Spirit-self or Manas very little can be found in man to-day — at most only a beginning.

On the other hand man has prepared himself for this future work, by having in a certain way, to a certain extent, learnt to master his three lower members. He has prepared himself by having learnt to master the sentient body or astral body, by pressing into it with his ‘ I ’ and forming within it the sentient-soul.

Just as the sentient-soul stands in a certain relationship to the sentient body, so does the intellectual-soul or mind-soul to the etheric or life-body, so that the intellectual-soul or mind-soul is a feeble prototype of what the Life-spirit or Budhi will be — a feeble prototype it is true, but nevertheless a prototype; and that which is to be found in the spiritual-soul is in a certain way worked into the physical body by the ‘ I ’; therefore that is a feeble prototype of what will some day be Spirit-man or Atma. We may also say that we can recognize in man to-day — not taking into consideration the insignificant portion which he has already developed out of his astral body as the beginning of Spirit-self or Manas, — four different members. We can distinguish:

1. the Physical body,
2. the Etheric body,
3. the Astral body,
4. the ‘ I ’, which works within them,

and further, as a fore-shining of the higher members,

the Sentient-soul,
the Intellectual-soul,
the Spiritual-soul.

Here we have man as a being such as he presents himself to us today; here we comprehend man, so to speak, at the present moment of his evolution. We can see the ‘ I ’ working out the higher members, after the sentient-soul, the intellectual and spiritual souls have served as a preparation. We see the ‘ I ’ working with the forces of the sentient, the intellectual and spiritual souls, upon the astral body, upon the beginnings of the Spirit-self. At the present time we see man at this stage of his work.

Those of you — and that will be most of you — who have studied what we call the researches into the Akashic Records, the evolution of man in the primeval past and the outlook into the distant future, will know that man, such as I have just sketchily described him, has evolved; that we can look back into a distant past; that man has required long epochs of evolution in order to form the first foundations of his physical body, then those of his etheric body, and finally, to form those of his astral body and then to develop these three members further. For all this, man has required long periods of time. You may also know that man did not go through the earlier evolution of his being, for instance, the evolution of his astral body, in the same condition of the earth in which the earth is now, but that he developed his astral body in an earlier existence of the earth, in the Moon-existence. Just as we perceive our present life to be the result of earlier earth lives, of earlier incarnations, so do we look too, upon earlier incarnations of our earth. What we call the sentient-soul and the intellectual-soul, or mind-soul, were first formed in our present earth-existence. The astral body was implanted during the Moon-existence, and in a still earlier existence of our earth, in the old Sun-condition, the etheric body was implanted, and finally the physical body during the Saturn condition. So that we look back to three incarnations of our earth, and in each of these we see one of the members which man bears within him to-day, implanted first as a germ and then perfected further.

There is still something else to note, in speaking of the Saturn, Sun and Moon conditions. Just as we human beings on the earth are passing through the condition which we call the self-conscious human condition, so during the earlier conditions of our earth evolution, during the old Moon, Sun and Saturn conditions, other beings went through the stage we are now going through upon the earth. It is not of much importance whether we use the terminology of the East or that which is more customary in the West, to describe these beings. Those beings who, during the Moon-state of our earth, were at the stage which man is now passing through, and who are the next higher beings above ourselves, we call in the terminology of Christian esotericism, Angeloi or Angels. These are one stage higher than man, because they completed their human stage one epoch earlier, so that therefore these beings during the old Moon state were what we now are. But they were not human in the sense that they went about on the Moon as we do now upon earth. They were beings at the human stage, but they did not dwell in flesh as man does now. It was only that their stage of evolution corresponded to the human stage which man is going through to-day. In the same way we find beings of a still higher order, who went through their human evolution on the old Sun. They are the Archangels. These are beings who are two degrees higher than man, who went through their human stage two epochs earlier. If we go still further, back to the first incarnation of our earth-existence, back to the Saturn stage, we find that those beings went through their human stage there whom we designate as Spirits of Personality, Archai, or First Beginnings. So that, if we begin with these beings, who were men in the primeval past, during the old Saturn state, and if we then follow the incarnations of the earth down to our own period, we have the stages of evolution of various beings, down to ourselves. Therefore we can say: The First Beginnings, the Archai, were men on old Saturn; Archangels, or Arch-Angeloi, were men on the old Sun; Angels or Angeloi were men on the old Moon; men are men on our earth.

Now, as we know that we continue our evolution into the future, and that we further develop our lower members, which to-day are our astral body, our etheric or life-body and our physical body, we must surely inquire: Is it not just as natural that the beings who formerly passed through the human stage, should now be already at the stage at which they are transforming their astral body into Spirit-Self or Manas? Just as we during the next incarnation of the earth, during the Jupiter state, shall finish the transforming of our astral body into the Spirit-self or Manas, so have the Angels, those beings who were men in the Moon-period, finished the transforming of their astral bodies into Spirit-self or Manas, or they will finish it during our earth-stage, — a process we shall have to go through only during the next incarnation of the earth. If we look still further back, to the beings who were men during the old Sun-existence, we may say, that they have already, during the Moon-state, gone through what we shall have to do only in the next incarnation of the earth. They are doing the work which man will do with his ‘ I ’, [when] he transforms his etheric or life-body into Life-spirit or Budhi. Therefore in these Archangeloi, in these Archangels we have beings who are two stages above us, they are at the stage which we shall some day reach when we, from within our ‘ I ’, shall transform the life-body into Life-spirit or Budhi. When we look up to these beings we behold them in such a way that we say: we see in them beings who are two stages above us, beings, in whom we see in advance, as it were, what we ourselves will experience in the future, we look up to them as beings who are now working upon their etheric or life-body and are transforming it into Life-spirit or Budhi. In just the same way we look up to yet higher beings, to the Spirits of Personality. They are at a still higher stage than the Archangels, at a stage which man will reach in a still more distant future, when he will be able to transform his physical body into Atma or Spirit-man.

As truly as man is at the present stage of his existence, so truly are these corresponding beings at the stages of their existence which have just been described; so truly are they above us, so truly are they realities. Now this reality of theirs is not far away from our earth-existence, but rather works in it and plays apart in our human existence. We must now inquire how do these beings who are above man work into our human existence? If we wish to comprehend how they act upon us, we must bear in mind, that such beings when at work, present a different spiritual aspect, so to speak, from what those beings do whom to-day we call men. There is indeed a considerable difference between these beings who are above man and those beings who are now only at the human stage. However strange what we are about to say may sound, it will be made quite clear to you in the following lectures. True spiritual research shows that man, such as he is to-day, is to some extent at a middle stage of his existence. His ‘ I ’ will not always work upon his lower members in the way it now does, the whole human being is at the present time inwardly connected together, and forms one uninterrupted whole, as it were. In the future evolution of mankind this may become different, and it will become essentially different. When man shall have advanced so far as to be able with complete consciousness to work on his astral body, and by means of his ‘ I ’ transform that astral body into Spirit-self or Manas, he will be in a similar condition but with full consciousness, to the present unconscious or subconscious condition of man during sleep.

Just picture to yourselves the sleep condition of man. In sleep man emerges, as regards his astral body and ‘ I ’, out of his physical body and etheric body, he leaves the latter lying on the bed and floats as it were outside them. Now imagine a man in this condition in whom the consciousness awakes: ‘I am an “ I ”’ — that it awakes in this spirit-body, just as it is awake in the everyday state of consciousness. What a remarkable picture would man then present to himself. In one place he would feel, ‘Here am I,’ and perhaps there down below, far removed from the first place, ‘There are my physical and etheric bodies, they are in that place and they belong to me, but I with my other members am hovering outside and above them.’ If at the present day a man becomes conscious in his astral body, outside his physical and etheric bodies, it is then certain, however highly evolved he may be on the earth, that he can do nothing beyond moving freely about here and there in his astral body and being active here and there in the world independently of his physical body, but he cannot as yet do this with his physical and etheric bodies. In a distant future, however, one will be able from outside to guide them, for instance, from a place in the north of Europe to another place and order them to go on further, and then be able from outside to direct their movements. That is not yet possible to-day. Man will, however, be able to do this when he has evolved himself beyond the stage of the earth-evolution on to that of Jupiter, the following stage of evolution of our earth planet, and the following stage of evolution of man. We shall then feel that we can, as it were, direct ourselves from without. That is the essential thing, and that leads to a division of what we have to-day called the human being. Material consciousness can certainly not make much of this. It cannot follow what in a certain respect is already actually working in the external world in a similar way to what in the future will be the case with the human being.

Such phenomena are already here. Man could perceive them if he were to pay attention. He would see that there are certain beings, for instance, who have developed themselves in this way too soon. Just as man, if he waits for the proper moment, will reach the Jupiter-state at the right time, so that he will then be able to direct his physical and etheric bodies, so there are beings, who have developed themselves in a certain respect prematurely, without waiting for the proper time. Such prematurely developed beings we possess in the birds, and especially in those which migrate every year. It is the so-called group-soul which is connected with the etheric body of each single bird. Just as the group-soul directs the regular migrations of the birds over the earth, so will man after he has developed Spirit-self or Manas command what we call the physical and etheric bodies; he will direct them and set them in motion. He will do this in a still higher sense from without, when he has evolved so far, that in addition he is also working at the transformation of his etheric or life-body.

There are beings who can already do this to-day. These are the Archangels or Archangeloi. They are beings who can already do what man will be able to do some day, beings who can accomplish what we call ‘directing one's etheric and physical bodies from outside’; but besides this they are also able to work upon their own etheric body.

Try to form an idea of beings, working around our earth, who, as to their ‘ I ’, are contained in the spiritual atmosphere of our earth, who from this ‘ I ’ of theirs have already transformed their astral body, so that they possess a completely developed Spirit-self or Manas, but who now work with this fully developed Spirit-self or Manas upon our earth and work in upon man, by transforming our etheric or life-body; beings at the stage at which they are transforming the etheric or life-body into Budhi or Life-spirit. If you think of such beings, who belong to the spiritual Hierarchy, whom we call Archangels, you then have an idea of what are called Nation-spirits, the directing Folk-spirits of the earth. The Folk-spirits belong to the rank of the Archangels or Archangeloi. We shall see how they on their part direct the etheric or life-body, and how they thereby work in upon man and draw him into their own activity. If we contemplate the various peoples on the earth and draw special attention to some of them, then, in the characteristics and qualities peculiar to these peoples, we see a reflection of what we may consider as the mission of these peoples.

When we recognize the mission of these beings, who are the inspirers of the various peoples, we can then say what a nation really is: it is a group of persons belonging together, guided by one of the Archangels. The individual members of a nation receive what they as members of that nation are to do and what they are to accomplish, by inspiration from such a source. Hence if we can imagine that these Folk-spirits are individually different, as are the human beings on our earth, we shall find it comprehensible that the several different groups of people are the individual missions of these Archangels. If we can make a clear mental picture of how in the history of the world peoples work side by side, and how nation succeeds nation, we can then, at all events in an abstract form (and this form will become more and more concrete in the following lectures) form an idea of how all this is inspired by these spiritual Beings.

It will also be observed that in addition to this activity of people after people something else takes place in human evolution. In the period of time which we reckon as beginning after the great Atlantean Catastrophe — which so completely altered the face of the earth that the continent which lay between present Africa, America and Europe was submerged — you can distinguish the periods influenced by the great peoples from whom the post-Atlantean civilizations came forth: the old Indian, the Persian, the Chaldæan-Egyptian, the Græco-Latin and our present-day civilization, which later on will pass over into the sixth age of civilization. We also notice that various inspirers of the peoples have been at work in those civilizations, working successively. We know that the Chaldæan-Egyptian civilization continued long after the Greek civilization had begun, and this in its turn continued when the Roman had already begun. Thus we can observe the peoples side by side as well as following one after another.

But in everything which evolves in and with the peoples there is something else that evolves also. Human evolution progresses. Whether we consider one civilization higher than another is of no consequence. For instance, a person may say, ‘I like the Indian culture best,’ that may be his personal opinion. But one who is not swayed by personal opinion will say, ‘Our valuation of things is a matter of indifference; the necessary course of events leads humanity forward, although this might later be considered as a decline. Necessity leads humanity forward. When we compare the various periods, five thousand years before Christ, three thousand years before Christ, and one thousand years after Christ, we find something more which extends beyond the Folk-spirits, something in which the several Folkspirits take a part. You may observe this in our present time. How is it that in this room so many persons are able to sit together, who come here from many different countries, and understand each other or try to understand each other as regards the most important thing which has brought them together here? The different persons come from the domains of many different Folk-spirits, and yet there is something in which they understand one another. In a similar way the various peoples have understood one another in various ages, because in every age there is something that extends beyond the Folk-soul, which can bring the various Folk-souls together, something which is understood everywhere to a greater or less extent. It is what is called the ‘Zeitgeist’ or ‘Time Spirit’ or ‘Spirit of the Age’ — although this word is not very suitable. The Time-Spirit in the Greek age was not the same Spirit as in our own age. Those who grasp the Spirit in our time, are driven to Spiritual Science. This is what extends over the various Folk-souls out of the Spirit of the Age. At the time when Christ Jesus appeared upon earth, His forerunner, John the Baptist, indicated the Spirit we may describe as Zeitgeist in the words, ‘Change your attitude towards life, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

Thus for every epoch we can find the ‘Spirit of the Age’, and that is something which intertwines itself into the activity of the Folk-spirits, into that which we have described as the activity of the Archangeloi. To the materialistic man of to-day, the Spirit of the Age is something quite abstract, without any reality; it would be still more difficult for him to see a real being in the Spirit of the Age. Nevertheless behind the word Zeitgeist, or ‘Spirit of the Age’, there is concealed a real being, and indeed none other than one three stages above the stage of humanity. The Beings concealed behind this word are those who went through their human stage on the old Saturn, at the earliest epoch of the earth's evolution, and who at the present day are working at the transformation of the earth from its spiritual atmosphere, and in so doing are going through the last stage of the transforming of their physical body into Spirit-man or Atma. We are here dealing with exalted Beings, the contemplation of whose attributes could well make man dizzy. They are the Beings who may be described as the actual inspirers — or we should here say, if we wish to use the technical expressions of occultism — the ‘intuitors’ of the Spirit or Spirits of the Age. They work in such a way that they relieve one another in turn and extend the hand to one another as it were. From epoch to epoch they pass on their task to the next one. The Spirit of the Age who worked during the Greek age, handed on his mission to the one who came after him. There are, as we have seen, a number of such Spirits of the Age, of such Spirits of Personality who work as Spirits of the Age. These Spirits of Personality, the Intuitors of the spirit of the age, are higher in rank than the Folk-spirits. In every epoch, one of these is especially at work and gives the general signature to that epoch, he gives his commissions to the Folk-spirits, so that the collective spirit of the age is specialized, individualized by the Folk-spirits. Then he is relieved in the following epoch by another Spirit of the Age, or Spirit of Personality, or Archai.

When a certain number of ages have passed away, then a Spirit of the Age has gone through a further evolution. We must think of it thus: when we, in our age, die, and have gone through our evolution here, our personality passes the result of this earthly life on to the next one. This is also the case with the Spirits of the Age. In each age we have one such Spirit of the Age; then at the end of the age he passes on his office to his successor, who again passes it on to the following one, and so on. The foregoing ones are in the meanwhile going through their own evolution, and then that one who has been longest absent, takes his turn again; so that, in a later age, while the others are then proceeding with their own evolution, the same one returns again as Spirit of the Age and gives to the progressed humanity, by means of intuition, that which he himself has in the meanwhile acquired for his higher mission. We look up to these Spirits of Personality, to these Beings who may be called by the otherwise meaningless name of Spirit of the Age, and may say: ‘We human beings go from incarnation to incarnation, but we very well know, that while we are ourselves passing on from epoch to epoch, that when we look into the future, we see ever different Spirits of the Age, regulating the occurrences of our earth.’

But our present Spirit of the Age will return too, we shall meet him again. On account of this attribute of these Spirits of Personality, of their describing cycles, as it were, and returning again to their starting-point, and of working in cycles, they are also called Spirits of Cyclic Periods. We shall give further reasons to justify this expression. These higher spiritual Beings who give their orders to the Folk-spirits, are also called Spirits of Cyclic Periods. We refer to those cyclic periods which man himself has to go through, when age after age he returns in a certain way to earlier conditions and repeats them in a higher form. Now you may be struck by this repetition of the characteristics of earlier forms. If you examine carefully into the stages of the evolution of man on the earth according to spiritual science, you will find these repetitions of occurrences in many different forms. Thus there is a repetition in the fact that there are, so to speak, seven consecutive epochs following after the Atlantean Catastrophe; these we call the post-Atlantean stages of civilization. The Græco-Latin stage or age of civilization forms the turning-point in our cycle and therefore it is not repeated. After this comes the repetition of the Egyptian-Chaldæan epoch, which is taking place in our own time. After this will follow another epoch, which will be a repetition of the Persian epoch, although in a somewhat different form; and then the seventh epoch will come, which will be a repetition of the primeval Indian civilization, the epoch of the Holy Rishis; so that in that age certain things of which the foundations were laid in ancient India will re-appear in a different form. The guidance of these occurrences devolves upon the Spirits of the Age.

Now in order that, divided among the different peoples on the earth, that which progresses from age to age should be actualized, in order that many different forms should be developed in this or the other land, growing out of this or that body of people speaking the same language, out of this or that language of form, in order that architecture, art and science may arise and assume their metamorphoses and receive all that the Spirit of the Age could pour into humanity, — for this we require the Folk-spirits, who, in the hierarchy of the higher beings, belong to the Archangels.

Now we require yet another medium between the higher missions of the Folk-spirits and those beings who here on the earth are to be inspired by them. It will not be difficult for you to perceive, at first in an abstract form, that the intermediary between the two different kinds of Spirits is the Hierarchy of the Angels. They are the connecting link between Folk-spirits and individual human beings. In order that man may receive into himself that which the Folk-spirit has to pour into the whole people, so that the individual man may be an instrument in the mission of his people, this inter-mediation between the individual human being and the Archangel of his people is indispensable.

Thus we have looked up to beings who became men three stages before the earth-man attained his human stage, and we have seen how they place themselves consciously in mankind, and influence our earth evolution. In the next lecture we shall have to show how far the work of the Archangels, working down from above, from their ‘ I ’ which has already formed Manas or Spirit-self and is now working on the etheric or life-body of man, is expressed in the productions, the attributes and the character of a people. Man is in the midst of this work of the higher beings, it directly surrounds him, for as a member of a people he is placed in it. It is true that man is in the first place a human individual, the expression of an ego, but he also belongs to a certain people, i.e., something over which as a human individual he has at first no control. How can a man, because he belongs to a certain people, help speaking the language of that people? That is not an individual acquirement, neither does it belong to what we call individual progress, it is the stream into which he is received. Individual human progress is a very different thing. While we see the Folk-souls living and working, we must remember of what human progress consists, and what a man requires in order to make his way through it. We shall see what belongs not only to his evolution, so to speak, but to the evolution of other quite different beings.

Thus we see how man is fitted into the ranks of the Hierarchies, how in his evolution, from age to age, from epoch to epoch, Beings whom we already know from another aspect work with him, and we have seen how care is taken that these Beings may express themselves in the most various individual ways, we have seen that what they have to supply can enter into man.

The Zeitgeister, Time Spirits or Spirits of the Ages lay down the great outlines for the several epochs. The extension of the Spirit of the Age over the whole earth is made possible through the various folk-individualities. Whilst the Spirits of the Age endow the Folk-spirits, care is taken that these may flow into the individual human beings; so that these individuals may fulfill their mission. The fact that individual persons become instruments in this mission of the Folk-spirits, is brought about by Beings who are between men and the Folk-spirits, namely, by the Angels or Angeloi.

These lectures will give us an opportunity to study in this wonderful web, the working of various folk-individualities of the past and of the present. In the next lecture we shall begin to throw light upon the way in which this web, which we have only sketchily indicated to-day, is actually spun, that spiritual web which is our everyday life in the world.

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