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Man in the Past, Present, and Future; The Evolution of Consciousness

The Sun-Initiation of the Druid Priest and His Moon-Science

LECTURE 2

MAN IN THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE

Stuttgart, 15th September 1923 

Yesterday I used the culture of the Druids — which at the moment is particularly relevant to the development of our Anthroposophical Movement — to illustrate the soul-quality of an earlier age in a particular region. If we go back three or four or five thousand years — it varies in different parts of the Earth — we can always penetrate into a quite different type of soul-quality, and we then find that the whole spiritual and social guidance of human life in a particular period follows the pattern laid down by such a quality. The development to which I am referring is connected with the gradual evolution of human consciousness. It would be true to say that in olden times men were quite different beings from what they are today, and in the future they will again be different. Ordinary history tells little of this and so as soon as we get a few centuries away from the present, ordinary history, as it is presented to us, is to a considerable extent quite illusory as an aid to a real understanding of man.

In the lecture yesterday I pointed out how we should have to study three main stages of human consciousness, though naturally with many different shadings. The states of consciousness with which we are familiar — waking, dreaming and sleeping — are valid only for the present. If we go back into older periods of human evolution we no longer find the sort of waking condition of today, with its logically interrelated concepts. The farther we go back, the more do we fail to find this logical consciousness, which appeared in full development only during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, though it had begun in the later period of Greek culture. In earlier times, on the other hand, we discover a type of consciousness filled much more with living pictures than with abstract concepts; and we find this consciousness in man everywhere.

Natural forces in our sense were quite unknown to an older humanity. In the times I spoke of yesterday, people did not talk of meteorological laws controlling wind and weather, but, as I explained, of beings seen pictorially, of elemental spirits hovering around the plants, or of gigantic spiritual beings active in wind and weather, frost and hail, storm and thunder. All this was living in their observation of Nature without any logical deductions. Everything they saw, including the phenomena of Nature, was a living, weaving, surging of spiritual beings. The whole basis of their inner condition of soul was quite different from ours.

In a sense, men were more self-enclosed, but in a way very different from what we know today; this living in themselves was at the same time a consciousness full of living dream-pictures which led them out into the distant spaces of the Cosmos. Men saw pictures, though not in the way in which today we have thoughts, when the things are outside. While they had these experiences of the giants of frost, storm and fire, of the spirits of root, leaf and flower, they felt themselves united with plant, root, leaf and flower, with thunder and with lightning. Because they experienced the spiritual and spiritual pictures in their own being, they did not therefore feel their soul-life separated from external Nature.

If not in the very oldest periods described in my book Occult Science, at least in those that followed them, one can observe spiritually how this constitution of soul was accompanied by a general mood in the peoples who at the time were the most civilized. There was a time when men had an inner spiritual perception of the real being of man. In these pictures I have just spoken of they saw not only their present existence but their pre-earthly existence as well; just as we can see a perspective of space, they saw a perspective of time. It was not a recollection but an actual seeing; and they saw beyond their birth into a spiritual world from which they had descended into the life of man on Earth. It was quite natural for a member of this older humanity to see into his pre-earthly existence and to feel: I am a spiritual being, since before I assumed this earthly body I rested in the bosom of the spirit and spent my time within it, and there experienced my human destiny — not yet in a physical body but — if I may say so, however paradoxical it may sound — in a spiritual body.

To demand that one should believe in the spirit would have been absurd for this older humanity just as it is absurd to ask modern men to believe in mountains; you don't believe in them, you see them. In those days men saw their pre-natal spiritual life, though of course they saw it with the eyes of the soul. But there came a time when they indeed saw spiritually this inner being of man as the outcome of pre-earthly existence, while external Nature surrounding them became increasingly a sort of riddle. Pure sense-perception made its way gradually into human evolution. In very early times, such as those of ancient India, as I described them in Occult Science, men still saw everything, Nature included, spiritually. It marked a step forward when the vision of the spiritual remained inward, but Nature, if I may put is so, became gradually de-spiritualized. While man still felt inwardly that he was spirit born of spirit, when he looked outward to the blossoming of Nature, to the clouds from which the lightning flashes, to the wind and weather, to the delicate, wonderfully formed crystals, to hill and dale, a mood came over him which can be traced by Spiritual Science over long periods, especially over the times when men were civilized. They might have expressed it as follows: We men are spirit born of spirit; in our pre-earthly existence our being was knit together with the spiritual, but now we are transplanted into the environment of Nature. We behold the lovely flowers, the vast mountains, the mighty power of Nature in wind and weather, but the spirit is withdrawn.

Thus the notion of a purely material Nature in the environment increasingly arose. Men felt — I mean of course those who were the most developed, the men whom we should call civilized in our modern sense — they saw that their body was formed out of the substances of this Nature which for them had lost its divine-spiritual quality. If men nowadays felt anything like this, they would begin to think, to speculate and philosophize about it. It was not so with the men of that earlier time. Without reflection they experienced a great disharmony within themselves: “I come as spirit from a world of spirit, my essential being has descended from divine heights, but I am clothed with substance taken from a Nature which the spirit seems to have abandoned; my spiritual existence is interwoven with something that does not reveal the spirit. My body is made up out of the same substances as the flowers of the field and the water of the clouds and rain, but these substances have lost their divine quality.”

Those men felt as if they had been expelled from the spiritual world and thrust into a world to which in their essential being they did not really belong. It was of course possible to reject or to sleep through this mood, as happens nowadays with various aspects of our civilization. But those who were awake at this time felt it, and it is through moods and feelings like this and not in thoughts and concepts that mankind develops.

Even the way in which our thoughts evolve nowadays is only an episode — as indeed these lectures will show — and anyone who speaks merely in the form of thoughts is speaking in an unreal way. This is particularly true of the way we speak nowadays. The people who pride themselves most on being practical and are filled with conceit about it are basically the worst theorists. We have these theorists in offices, in schools — obviously in schools, but no less in offices and commercial houses — and everything there has a theoretical bias and thoughts run riot. But it is only an episode without any essential truth. These people will attain to some truth in their thinking about life only if they feel once more as men did when they found Nature de-spiritualized, when they feel that they are an outcast race, taken from a divine-spiritual world where they really belong, into one where their inmost human being is a stranger.

One of the ways in which this mood expressed itself was through the feeling that there had been a Fall of man. This idea arose from a change that had come about in human consciousness. Men felt that they had been thrust out of a spiritual world and that the reason for this must lie in some original sin. Thus at a particular epoch the conception of original sin, of the Fall of man, dawned in human consciousness.

If we understand the changes in human consciousness from the past through the present into the future, we shall also be able to understand how this conception of original sin, of a pre-historic Fall of man, arose. And at the same time when this mood came over man, his need was not for some grey theory, but for words through which souls needing comfort could find healing power. And what we have often described as the guidance of mankind in the old centers of ritual and religion, in the Mysteries, can be seen arising at a particular period of time coinciding approximately with ancient Persian and the earliest Chaldean culture in the Near East — it can be seen to coincide with what came from the priests, the great comforters of mankind. Consolation streamed from them and the Mysteries they celebrated; and indeed, human consciousness at that time was greatly in need of consolation. The words of the Mysteries had to contain some quality of soul that could speak to men's hearts with a power of healing and consolation. This is the epoch which exhibited such magnificent creative power (though in a somewhat different form from alter periods) in the spheres of art and religion, and a great deal in our art and in our religious ideas derives from that time, particularly the symbols, pictures and ritualistic ceremonies.

What was the source from which these teachers of the Mysteries drew in order to give this consolation? If the general waking consciousness consisted in the sort of living picture-consciousness I have described, yet at that time too there were three stages of consciousness. Nowadays we have sleeping, dreaming and waking. In those days, as opposed to the waking dream which, as I showed yesterday, was the normal form of waking consciousness, sleep was not as it is today, when it completely damps down our consciousness. Although with these men, too, consciousness was dimmed during sleep, there remained something of it on waking. Yesterday I described this by saying that when men woke after sleep, there remained something of it on waking. Yesterday I described this by saying that when men woke after sleep they had a sort of after-taste. Most people felt, not merely on the tongue or in the mouth, deeply permeated by a certain sweetness of experience which was the after-taste of their sleep. This sweetness they experienced in sleep spread over from their life of sleep into that of waking. This sweetness was to them a test of the healthiness of their life, whereas if other tastes were present it was evidence of illness.

It sounds strange to say that an older humanity experienced the sweet after-effects of sleep in their limbs, the arms, right down into the finger-tips and the other members. But spiritually-scientific investigation shows that it was so; and the genius of language has retained something of this, though in a crude and materialized form. A sleeping-draught was once something spiritual; that is, sleep itself, and it was only later that it became an actual liquid draught in material form. Sleep was then itself a draught of Nature, which extinguished the ordinary memories of day; it was a draught of forgetfulness. What ordinary men had from it was only a vague after-feeling, but Initiation gave the Mystery teachers, who were the leaders of humanity, a more exact consciousness of what really was experienced in sleep. In modern Initiation we ascend from our ordinary ideas to spirit-sight, but in those days, while ordinary men passed from their dream-waking life into sleep, for which they cultivated a consciousness and experienced this after-taste, the Mystery priests had means to feel their way consciously into sleep and so got to know what this after-taste implied. They learned of the water beyond physical existence, the water into which the human soul plunged during sleep each night — the waters of the weaving astrality of the world.

But that was only a second condition beyond the waking and reaming of ordinary life. The third condition was one of which modern humanity has no knowledge at all, a condition deeper than dreamless sleep today. I said yesterday that one might call it a state of being surrounded by the Earth, and this was the condition of man at night during deep sleep. Only the priest of the Mysteries by means of his Initiation could attain consciousness of it and impart the results of this experience, which constituted the knowledge of those days. Men felt themselves embraced by the Earth, but they felt something more; they felt that in the ordinary course of the day they had come into a condition very near death, a death, however, from which there was an awakening. They experienced this third condition of consciousness as if they had actually descended into the Earth and been laid in a grave, yet not one that could be called an earthy grave. I will try to make clear to you in the following way how this grave not only was, but how it had to be, conceived.

Now when the Sun's rays fall on to the Earth, they are not merely reflected from flowers and stars. Farmers know this better than the city dweller does, for during the winter they use the Sun's warmth which has penetrated into the Earth. At that time of the year was have within the Earth what has streamed into it during the summer. Not only the Sun's warmth but other forces stream into the Earth. Yet from the point of view of which I am speaking this was the less important fact; the more important was that the activities of the Moon could also penetrate below the surface of the Earth to a certain extent. It was a pleasant idea of those days, not just a poetical idea but, in a way, a super-poetical one — though of course not held in any logical conception as we should today, but as a picture — when men thought of the light of the Sun streaming down to Earth in the light of the full Moon and penetrating a certain distance into the Earth, then being reflected not just from the Earth's surface but from its interior, after the light had been absorbed by the Earth.

The silver ebb and flow of the moonlight were experienced by man as the rhythmic play of its rays. It was not only a beautiful picture; the priests of the Mysteries knew something definite about this flowing moonlight. They knew that man is subject to gravitation as he lives on the Earth; that gravity holds him to the surface of the Earth, and thus the Earth draws his being to itself, as it were. The forces of the Moon were known to work against this force of gravity. They are in general weaker than the vigorous forces of the Earth's gravity, but they work against those forces. It was known that man is not just a clod held fast by the Earth's gravity, but that he is rather in a sort of balance, drawn to the Earth by gravity and away from it by the forces of the Moon, and that for him as earthly man it is the Earth which holds the upper hand. But as regards his head-activity, the effective influence on it is the negative gravity that draws him away. Thus though man might not be able to fly, at least he could raise his spirit into the starry spaces. By means of this Initiation, through these Moon activities, humanity in those days learnt from their Mystery-priests the effect on earthly man of his starry environment.

This was the astrological Initiation, so much abused nowadays, which was specially prevalent among the people of ancient Chaldea. By its path men could learn not only of the activity of the Moon, but of that of the Sun, Mars, Saturn, and so forth. Nowadays man is — if you will pardon a pictorial way of putting it so, for it is hard to describe such things in strictly logical words — man, as far as his knowledge goes, has become a kind of worm, not even an earthworm but something worse, a worm for whom it never rains so that he never emerges from the soil! Worms do after all emerge periodically when it rains, and then they can enjoy whatever is happening on the Earth's surface: and that is healthy for them. Modern man, with regard to his soul and spirit, is a worm for whom it never rains, and then they can enjoy whatever is happening on the Earth's surface: and that is healthy for them. Modern man with regard to his soul and spirit, is a worm for whom it never rains, and he is entirely encased in the Earth. Thus he believes that the members of this body grow on Earth more or less as stones are formed. He has no idea that the hair on his head is the result of the Sun's activity, for he is a worm which never comes above ground, a creature, that is, which bears the Sun-forces within him but never comes to the surface to investigate them. As the old Mystery-priests well knew, man has not grown out of the Earth like a cabbage; he has been created by the joint activity of the whole cosmic environment. You can see, therefore, how men in those days felt towards their Initiates and Mystery-leaders who could tell them from their training what his cosmic environment signifies for man.

These priests of the Mysteries could thus proclaim something which I shall have to give in an unimaginative form, since we are not nowadays capable of speaking as they did; they clothed all they said in wonderful poetry. The genius of language made that possible then, but nowadays we can no longer speak in such a way, because language is inadequate. If we had to put into words the message of the priests of the Mysteries to their people who came to them for comfort, feeling themselves thrust into a Nature which lad lost its spirit, we should have to put it somewhat as follows: As long as you remain in y our ordinary waking consciousness, your environment will seem to have been robbed of spirit. But if you plunge consciously into the region embraced by the Earthy, where you can behold the power of the star-gods in the silvery light of the Moon flowing and surging through the Earth, you will come to learn — no longer with the earlier spontaneity but only be human effort — that external Nature is everywhere permeated by spirit-beings and bears the gifts of the gods within herself as spirit-beings and elemental spirits.

This was the consolation which the priests of the Mysteries could give their people in olden days; they made them see that plants are not just beautiful but are really permeated by the weaving of the spirit; that the clouds do not just sail majestically through the air but that divine-spiritual elemental beings are active in them — and so on. It was towards the spirit of Nature that these Initiates led the men who depended on them for guidance.

Thus at a certain point in man's evolution the task of the Mysteries was to make it clear that when Nature appeared to have lost the spirit, this was only an illusion of ordinary waking consciousness. Actually, spirit was to be found everywhere in Nature. You see, there was a time when man lived within the spirituality of existence, and through the Mysteries experienced this spirituality even in the sphere which at first sight seemed to have been robbed of spirit. Man was still dependent on the spirit in all that affected him, whether instinctively when he had inner spiritual perception, or by the Mystery-teachings which showed him that Nature also was permeated by spirit.

If human evolution had stopped there, our consciousness could never have experienced one of the greatest blessings of humanity, perhaps the very greatest — I men the experience of free-will, of freedom. The old mood of soul, with its instinctively experienced spirituality, had to be damped down. Man had to be led to three other conditions of consciousness. The feeling of being embraced by the Earth, which had enabled the old Initiates to attain their star-wisdom and their knowledge of Nature's spirits, died away completely, and man's soul-condition came to include only dreamless sleep, dreaming and waking. To balance this, there were the beginnings of that sphere of consciousness in which freedom can dawn. What we call today our waking consciousness, which enables us to enjoy our ordinary life and knowledge, was quite unknown to early humanity. Yet through it came the possibility of pure thinking; we may profess doubts about its existence, but in it lies the only possible basis for the impulse of freedom. Had men never attained this pure-thinking — which is actually pure thinking and does not, as such, guarantee the actual reality — they would never have reached the consciousness of freedom.

We might say that as humanity developed, man's earlier association with the spirit was veiled in darkness; on the other hand, he acquired those three states of consciousness which led him from spiritual heights into the depths of the Earth. But out of these depths he was to find the original forces for the unfolding of freedom. This quality of soul, with its waking, dreaming and sleeping, had been developing for close on a thousand years, and men had gone far into that darkness where the light of the spirit does not shine but where the impulse of freedom is to be found. Try to realize what human evolution has really been like. There was a time when man looked up to the starry heavens and the knowledge he still had of the stars showed him that their forces lived within him and that he belonged essentially to the Cosmos. But now, man — as spirit — was thrust down to Earth and the Heavens became, so to speak, dark, for the light, though shining down physically from sun or stars, became impenetrable for him. It was as if a curtain had come down, s that he could no longer find any basis for his existence. He could no longer perceive what lay behind the curtain.

We shall see tomorrow how this curtain had existed for a thousand years, becoming thicker and thicker, and how this expressed itself in man's whole mood. Then a light appeared which did penetrate the curtain and to a certain extent the curtain fell away; it was the light that shone forth on Golgotha. In this way the Deed of Golgotha finds its place in human evolution. This Deed, accomplished on the Earth, was to reopen for man the vision of the spirituality of the world which he had once seen in the wide spaces of the Cosmos. Christ, by passing through the Mystery of Golgotha, was to bring into man's life on Earth what had in earlier times been seen in the Heavens. The divine-spiritual Being of Christ was to descend and live in a human body, so that He might bring this light in a new way to men who could no longer leave the Earth.

We are only just beginning to understand the Mystery of Golgotha, and the future evolution of the Earth must consist in this Mystery begin ever more deeply understood, so that the radiance spreading from the Mystery of Golgotha will change more and more from an inward to a cosmic radiance and will gradually irradiate everything perceptible to man.

But we shall be able to talk of this in greater detail only if we lay some further foundations for it today. Now something which was once a living fact in human evolution is, in a sense, returning. The priests of the Mysteries possessed, as I have told you, the power of contemplating the influence of the Moon; the influence of the Moon bore them up to their astrological Initiation. They learnt how it was possible to be initiated into the secrets of the stars by this means. An important point for the candidate for Initiation was that he should feel as though gravity were of less importance to him than it normally was. He felt that he weighed less. But then he was instructed by the older teachers not to give way to this feeling; when he began to feel lighter he must restore his heaviness by a strong exercise of will. The technique of the old Initiation made it possible for the candidate to allow the weight which was lost by the influence of the Moon to be restored by an effort of will; and as a result the wisdom of the stars shone forth. Thus every tendency in man at that time to overcome gravity was used to develop the will to hold fast to the Earth by the power of his own soul. But since this exerting of the will acted as a kindling of an inner light, it shone forth into the Cosmos and he could attain knowledge of cosmic spaces. When Spiritual Science throws its light on these matters, it is possible accurately to describe how this old consciousness came into being.

Now there is always a tendency for what existed in such men to recur; there is a sort of atavism, an inheritance, of things long past. It recurs just because men themselves return; and when this relation to the Moon appears in men who live at a time when, because this deep sleep is a thing of the past, such a relation should not occur, it appears as somnambulism, especially as ordinary sleep-walking. Then they do not combat this increasing sense of lightness by exerting the forces of their soul, but they wander about on roofs or at least get up out of bed. They do with their whole being what only the astral body should properly do. Something which has now become an abnormality was in earlier times an asset which could be used to attain knowledge. It was quite appropriate that popular usage should call such men “moon-struck,” for this condition of man's being is connected with an atavistic relation to the Moon-forces which has survived from older times.

Again, just as man is related, in the way I have described, to Moon-forces, he is also related to Sun-forces. But they are active in a more hidden part of man's being and we find them only indirectly. The Druids of the finest period — not those when decadence had set in — certainly sought their Sun-Initiation in this relation to the Sun-forces. Now whereas astrological Initiation depends on Moon-forces and makes possible a knowledge of the secrets of the Cosmos, this Sun-Initiation makes possible a sort of conversation with the divine-spiritual Beings of the Universe, a kind of Inspiration, whereas the Moon-Initiation gave only Imagination. Sun-Initiation is like a listening to the counsel of the spiritual Beings of the Cosmos — certainly a much deeper vision of the secretes of the world's being than could be given by Moon-Initiation. This may also recur atavistically, for Sun-activity exists in every man. But the constitution of man's soul today is quite different from that of the past, and his eyes are now specially organized to see only the physical rays of the Sun. As I told you yesterday, in the physical rays of the Sun there is an element of soul and spirit. Modern man does not realize or perceive this. In his attitude to the Sun, present-day man behaves as if he met another man who claimed to possess some inner quality of soul, and said to him: “There is no such thing; if you move your arm, it is a mechanical process like that of a lever; the muscles act as cords and when they are drawn tight the lever comes into action. That is the mechanism of it.”

That is really how men behave nowadays in regard to the Sun; they see only the external-physical; that is, the physical light. But when the physical light of the Sun's working penetrates into us, the spirituality of the Sun's being penetrates also. By means of a sort of inner concentration — not acquired in the way described in my book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds but possessed atavistically like some elemental force — a man can nowadays (and by nowadays I mean our present epoch of history which may of course extend for some thousands of years) cease through inner concentration to be strongly receptive to the physical working of the Sun but may, on the contrary, become receptive to its spiritual activity. Then his sight is changed. When this atavistic capacity appears, he sees differently from the ordinary way. When we look into a mirror, we see the reflection of what stands in front of the mirror. Just because the mirror is not transparent, it can reflect in this way. Now when a man's soul is constituted in such a way that, even when in full possession of all his senses, instead of looking into the Sun and seeing the physical sunlight he sees darkness, the darkness then becomes a sort of mirror which reflects his immediate surroundings. He does not say to himself: Here I have a plant which has a root which sends forth its leaves, flower, fruit and seed; rather, he says: When I look into the lower part of a plant, I see in it an elemental spiritual wisdom which makes it solid and permanent; if then I look further up the plant, I see how that quality is gradually overcome and how the plant strives to create alternatively a contraction and expansion in the formation of leaves, and finally strives upwards in the blossoms, as through transformed by fire. In this way the life of the plant is reflected in the darkness, which is however spiritual light.

Jacob Boehme possessed this atavistic power when he looked a the plant and saw the quality of salt below, the mercurial in the middle and the phosphoric above. Thus we can see in the spirit of a man such as Boehme, who was a natural Sun-Initiate, a capacity belonging to an earlier period of civilization, that primal civilization before there was any reading or writing. You completely misunderstand him if you read works such as the Mysterium Magnum, the De Signatura Rerum or the Aurora and do not see that in this stammering presentation there is something quite similar to what I described in relation to the Druids. Boehme was not initiated in an external sense, but his Sun-Initiation rises within him like a repetition of an earlier earthly existence. We can trace this into the very details of his biography.

There are still deeper forces which can be active in men, the forces of the outermost planet of our solar system. Modern astronomy does not regard it as the outermost since it has added two more — though even orthodox astronomers are worried because the movement of the moons does not properly fit, (The moons of Neptune and Uranus move in the opposite direction to the satellites of other planets,) but since it is the spatial arrangement with which they are concerned, they have added Uranus and Neptune. These, however, cause trouble because their moons are a little crazy compared with the ordered moons of Jupiter and other planets. In reality one must say that, for a living, concrete grasp of the planetary system, Saturn is the outer-most planet. Now just as a man can be under the influence of the Moon-forces which I described in detail, or of the Sun-forces, which I only outlined, he may also be under the influence of Saturn-forces. The activity of Saturn, as it rays into the planetary system and thus also into man, is like a cosmic historical memory. Saturn is, as it were, the memory, the recollection, of our planetary system, and if you want to know anything about the history of that system, you cannot really get it by astronomical speculation. Even external science is becoming rather desperate about all this because nothing fits. But the problem is not rightly tackled.

We have often spoken among ourselves about the so-called theory of relativity and the idea that it is never possible to talk of absolute motion; that there is nothing but relative motion. We can either say that the Sun moves and the Earth stands still, or that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still — as we have done in modern times. It makes no difference which one says, since everything is relative. And on one occasion here in Stuttgart, at a meeting of the Anthroposophical Society when we were talking about relativity, a supporter of the theory showed his audience clearly how it is all the same whether you take a match and strike it on the box, or take the box and move it past the match: in either case you light the match. This was meant as a serious scientific statement, and there is nothing to be said against it. Perhaps some simple soul might have thought of nailing the box to a wall — and then we should have had a little bit of “absolute.” We might somehow have moved the whole house and we should have had relativity again — but this might have been difficult! Yet it one takes the whole physical world, Einstein is quite right in saying that within the world there is nothing absolute, everything is relative. Unfortunately he stops at relativity, and it is just this relativity that ought to lead us on to look for something absolute, not in the physical world but in the spiritual. Everywhere nowadays, science — were it only rightly understood — offers us entry into the spiritual world. It is not a question of amateurish but of genuine exact science, and genuine science — except that it is not thought through to the end even by its experts — will lead to the spirit. Ordinary physical investigation cannot really tell us what this Saturn of our universe is. Saturn is in a sense the memory of our planetary system; everything that has occurred within that system is preserved in Saturn, and a Saturn-Initiate can learn of all those happenings.

Now just as our relation to the Moon can appear in a one-sided form in men as an inheritance of an older period of human evolution, with the result that they become sleep-walkers, or, again, as the spiritual forces of the Sun may emerge so that a man will not see the sunlight with open eyes but will see into the darkness in which Nature is mirrored, and then he will see as Boehme did — in the same way it is possible to experience our relation to the forces of Saturn, which work particularly on the head and implant in the human being a passing memory during his life on the Earth. These Saturn-forces can appear in a peculiar way, and just as we can talk of “Moon-men” who are the ordinary sleep-walkers, and of “Sun-men” such as Boehme, or in a lesser degree, Paracelsus, so we can also speak of a Saturn-man. This is what Swedenborg was. His is another case which should worry ordinary science — though it does not!

Swedenborg was master of the ordinary science of his time and was regarded as an authority. Up to his fortieth year he was thoroughly orthodox in his views and said nothing to which ordinary science might take exception. Then he suddenly became befogged. Actually we ought to say that the Saturn-forces became active in him, though people with an ordinary materialistic outlook say that he went mad. But it ought to make us pause to realize that there are so many surviving works of his which are recognized as scientific and are being published by a Swedish Society. The most distinguished scholars in Sweden are occupied just now in publishing his works — works, that is, written shall we say, before he attained spiritual vision. There is something unpleasant in having to deal with a man who up to his fortieth year was the most brilliant man of his age and after that must, to put it mildly, be called a fool!

Actually Swedenborg did not become a fool, but, at a particular moment, just after he had reached the heights of ordinary science, he began to see into the spiritual world. When this power of vision reached his head — the organ he had developed to so high a level — and when it was influenced by the spirituality of Saturn, he had his own special power of vision, not the vision of Boehme who saw the inner secrets of Nature mirrored in the darkness, but direct vision into the etheric, where the patterns of a higher spirituality appear. And thus he was able to give his own descriptions of them — though he did not actually see what he imagined he had, for the spirit-beings to whom he was referring are different. Nor on the other hand was it a mere earthly reflection of these spirits; he saw etheric forms and the activities of spirits in the etheric. He saw in the ether of the Earth the deeds of the spirits, though not the spirits themselves. Whereas Boehme saw reflection of Nature, Swedenborg saw what was accomplished in the etheric by the spirits whose activity was all he could see. Thus when he describes Angels, it is not Angels whom he sees but etheric forms. Nevertheless, these forms were actually the work of Angels — a picture of the activity of Angels. We must always keep our eyes on the reality of such things. And whereas it would be an error to claim that Swedenborg saw the spiritual world as such (that was not his peculiar power,) yet it was a reality that he saw.

The ordinary sleep-walker does something real, does with his physical body what he ought to do only with his astral body. Boehme saw with his physical body, particularly with his eyes, which were organized in such a way that he could exclude the physical and see into the darkness, but in that darkness he saw the light, the mirroring of Nature-spirits. Swedenborg did not see mirror-pictures, but etheric pictures of a spiritual existence of a higher order. Here we have an upward process from the sleep-walker who, being permeated by spirit, does not see but acts automatically, through what I may perhaps call the natural second sight of Boehme who saw not the external side of Nature but the mirror of his inner side, up to Swedenborg who saw not mirror-pictures but reality in the etheric, the picture of activities which proceed in higher spiritual regions.

You see then in what way we can speak of man's past and present, and how in the so-called abnormal conditions there is a sort of inherited survival which we must try to understand. When we can see past in this light and see also what survives from the past into the present, we shall be able to get some idea of mankind's future with the help of a deeper understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. This is what we shall attempt in the lecture tomorrow.




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