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Ancient Myths:
Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution

Schmidt Number: S-3462

On-line since: 20th June, 2004

Lecture II

5th January, 1918.

It was my task yesterday to show how the special configuration of such mythologies as the Osiris Myth, the Greek mythology — and in a certain sense even the Old Testament teachings to which we will return presently — is connected with changes in the stages of human consciousness. We know of the development of consciousness in mankind, we know that we have to look back to earlier times of man's evolution in which there existed an old clairvoyance, a perceptibility of super-earthly things. It is well to look back at such things for this retrospection gives us orientation. Mankind is again to achieve vision directed to the super-sensible; it is to be achieved on the path of Spiritual Science, through spiritual scientific thinking. The realization of what each one can do, no matter where he stands in the world, can be helped by the will to orientate oneself for what is to come by considering what has been.

In a certain sense things take place in later times in connection with events of earlier times. We look back from our Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch, in the development of which we are standing, to the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch, the Greco-Latin, and to the Third, the Egyptian; we come then already to the time in which it was natural for men to express in certain mythical pictures and imaginations what they thought and felt about cosmic mysteries. In another connection we have already stated that we in our Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch have to recapitulate in a sort of inverted way what had happened in the Third, the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, so that it emerges again differently. The booklet ‘The Spiritual Guidance of Man and Mankind’, also refers, as you know, to this subject.

Now we saw yesterday that in the time of the Greco-Latin evolution, in the time that begins with the 7th or 8th century before our era, there was a kind of looking back of mankind, and this looking back to other states of consciousness in fact expressed in imaginative myths facts about the ruling spiritual beings, as we described yesterday. Men in the Fourth Epoch knew: when we look around us we see only the physical, on the other we can reflect. You know, moreover, if you have followed attentively what is said in my book The Riddles of Philosophy, that in Grecian times, and even much later, people saw Ideas — as it were — as Goethe still did, and that they could really say: we see them. Entirely abstract thinking has only come about in modern times. But at that time there was indeed a seeing of ideas, a seeing of spiritual realities, a living in spiritual realities.

In the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch this was no longer so in the full sense, but the people remembered that it had been so earlier. They said — and in fact this represented the truth: — there are, however, Beings in existence, who are not human beings, who live in super-sensible worlds and have still preserved life in the imaginative consciousness. The Greeks saw such Beings in the individuals of the Zeus-circle.

The Egyptians again said to themselves: that age in which men still lived directly with Imaginations was the age when Osiris wandered upon Earth. They meant of course not one Osiris, but it was believed that there had been a time in which men on earth lived in Imaginations. And this type of human soul which was able to live in Imaginations was described by saying: Osiris lived upon eart