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The Nature and Origin of the Arts

A lecture by
Rudolf Steiner
Berlin, October 28, 1909
GA 271

From shorthand notes of a lecture delivered on the 28th of October, 1909, this lecture is an authorized English Translation edited by H. Collison. It is the second lecture in the series entitled: Art and the Experiencing of Art. In the collected edition of Rudolf Steiner's works, the volume containing the German texts is entitled, Kunst und Kunsterkenntnis. Grundlagen einer neuen Aesthetik. Das Sinnlich-Uebersinnliche in seiner Verwirklichung durch die Kunst (Vol. 271 in the Bibliographic Survey, 1961). This lecture is also known as: The Being of the Arts.

We present this volume here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Copyright © 1942
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The Nature and Origin of the Arts

By Rudolf Steiner, Ph.D.

Let us imagine a great snow-clad plain spread out before us and upon it here and there rivers and lakes hard frozen. The neighboring sea is mostly frozen over close to shore; further out huge floes are drifting; occasional stunted trees and bushes lift heads heavy with snow and icicles. It is evening. The sun has already set, leaving behind the golden splendor of its afterglow.

Before our eyes are two female figures and out of the afterglow is born — we might say is sent forth — a messenger from the higher worlds, who stands before the women and listens with close attention to what they are telling of their inmost feelings and experiences.

One of the two standing there hugs her arms tightly to her body, cowers together, and exclaims: “I am freezing cold.” The eyes of the other woman wander over the snow-clad plain, out to the frozen waters and over the trees thick with hanging icicles, and from her lips burst forth the words “how glorious this whole landscape is.” She is utterly heedless of her own feelings, utterly oblivious to her physical suffering from the cold. We feel warmth streaming into her heart, for she has no attention to spare for her physical bodily discomfort, being inwardly overwhelmed by the wonderful beauty of this chill and frozen scene. Then the sun sinks further and further, the color fades out of the afterglow and the two friends fall into a deep slumber. One of them, the one who had been so acutely conscious of the cold in her bodily self, sinks into a sleep which might easily become fatal; the other sinks into a sleep in which we can recognize the influence of the emotion expressed in the words “How glorious,” which continues to warm her limbs and keep them full of life throughout her slumber. And she hears the youth who, born out of the glory of the afterglow, says to her these words, “Thou art Art”; and then she falls asleep.

With her she took into her slumbers all the results of the impressions made upon her by the landscape which has been described; and a sort of dream mingled with her sleep. And yet it was not a dream, but in a certain way a reality, although of a unique kind akin to dreaming in its form. It was the manifestation of a reality which this woman's soul had barely been able to conceive before. For the experience that befell her was not a dream; it merely resembled one. That which she experienced may be described as “astral imagination.” And if we are to describe her visions we cannot do it otherwise than by setting forth in words the picture by means of which “imaginative” perception speaks.

For the soul of this woman became aware at that moment what the event signalized. By the words of the youth, “Thou art Art,” can be described intimately only by clothing the experiences of the imaginative perceptions in words. Accordingly let us thus clothe the impressions received by the soul of that woman through the channel of this imaginative percept.

The Dance

When her inner senses awoke and she began to take note of her surroundings, she became aware of a remarkable figure — very different in appearance from that which purely physical experience would lead one to anticipate in a spiritual figure, for it was poor in those characteristics which recall the world of the physical senses. The only manner in which it called to mind the world of the physical senses was by its outline, which resembled three interlacing circles. The circles stood one upon another, much as if one were horizontal, another vertical, the third running from right to left; and the currents which flowed through these circles and made their presence known were not reminiscent of any impression received by the physical senses; rather did they recall something purely psychic, something which can only be compared with the impressions and feelings of the soul. But a something streamed out from this figure which can best be described by saying that it was like a deep and repressed inner sorrow concerning some event. When the soul of the woman observed this she made up her mind to enquire “What is the cause of thy sorrow?” and this is the answer which came to her from that figure belonging to the spirit world: “Indeed, I have a real reason for manifesting this emotion, for I belong to a high spiritual race. I appear to thee now just as a human soul would appear, but thou must soar far into the realms of the hierarchies to discover the place whence I come. My sorrow is that mankind on the other side of my life, in the physical world where at present we are not dwelling, has robbed me of the last of my off-spring. I have descended to this level from the higher hierarchies, but men have torn the last of my descendants from me, taken him to live among them and chained him to a rock-like structure, after making him as little as possible.

Thereupon, this woman's soul felt drawn upon to ask, “Who exactly art thou? At this moment I can only describe things with the words which I remember as the result of life on the physical plane. How canst thou make me comprehend thy nature and the nature of thy offspring whom mankind has enchained?”

And the Spirit answered: “Over yonder in the physical world men describe me as one of the senses — as quite a minor sense — which they call equilibrium, which has become quite little, and is composed of three incomplete circles attached to one another in the ear. This is my last tiny offspring. They have torn him from me into the other world, and taken away that which belonged to him here, namely, the power to move freely in any direction. Similarly they have broken each of the circles, and attached him firmly on each side to a base. In this realm — as thou seest me now — I am not attached: I show perfect circles which ever way you look at me; I am complete in every direction. Now for the first time thou seest my real form.”

Thereupon the woman's soul felt compelled to ask, “In what way can I help thee?”

The figure from the spirit world replied, “Thou canst only help me by uniting thy soul with mine, and bringing into me over here all that men learn during physical life yonder through the sense of equilibrium. Thou wilt then grow to be a part of me; thou wilt become as great as I am myself; in this way thou wilt liberate thy sense of equilibrium and raise thyself — a spiritually free being — above thy attachment to the earth!”

And the soul of the woman did so. She became one with that figure of the spirit world. And in becoming one with it she became aware that she must carry out some purpose. So she put one foot in front of the other, changing repose into movement, and changing movement into dance, completed it as a form.

“Now thou hast transformed me!” cried the figure from the spirit world. Now I have become that which I can only become through thy agency if thou continuest to behave as thou hast just been behaving. Now I have become a part of thee, and become so in a manner that men can have only guessed at my real being. Now I have become the art of dance. Because thou hast will to remain a soul and hast not united thyself with physical matter, thou hast been enabled to set me free. And at the same time thou hast, by thine ordered steps, led me up to the spiritual hierarchies to which I belong, to the Spirits of Motion; and thou hast led me to the Spirits of Form by grouping thy steps into a rhythmic pattern. Thou hast brought me myself to Spirits of Form. But at present thou mayest go no further; for wert thou to advance but one step beyond what thou hast already done for me all that thou hast done would become useless. For it is the Spirits of Form who are charged with the bringing about of everything in the earth's evolution. Wert thou to intrude upon the mission of the Spirits of Form thou wouldst destroy everything thou hast accomplished; for thou couldst not help falling into the reign spoken of as the “Furnace of desire” by those who on earth describe the appearance of the spiritual worlds. Thy spiritual dance would be transformed into one arising out of mad passion. So long as men act on their very slightest knowledge of me as exhibited in their dances of today. But by doing only what thou hast just done and by grouping them into form thou makest in thy steps a copy of those mighty measures performed by planets and suns in the sky in order first to create the physical world of the senses!”

The Stage

The soul of the woman continued to live on in this condition of consciousness. And another spirit figure approached her — also very different in appearance from that which men, with their physical sense-perception, usually conceive when they think of a spirit form. The figure which confronted her was so to speak, bounded by a horizontal plane and consisted of only two dimensions, but it presented one unique characteristic. Although it was bounded by a horizontal plane, the soul of the woman, being in the condition of imaginative perception, could behold both sides of it at once, and this figure showed two totally different aspects — one on one side and one on the other.

Again the soul of the woman put a question to the figure, “Who art thou?”

And this figure replied, “My home is in the higher regions. I have come down to the region known to you as the region of the spirit, and which here is called the Region of the Archangels. I have descended to this level and was obliged to do so in order to come into touch with the physical realm of earth. But mankind tore the last of my offspring from me and took him away; and over yonder they have imprisoned him in their own physical form, where they call him one of their senses and describe him as the sense of individual movement — as that living part of themselves by which they move their limbs and other portions of their body.

And the soul of the woman asked, “What can I do for thee?” Thereupon also this figure said, “Make thine own being one with mine, so that thine own being becomes a part of mine!”

The soul of the woman did so. And she became one with this spirit figure and slipped entirely into it. Once more did this woman's soul expand, waxing great and beautiful. And the spirit figure said to her, Behold, by doing this thou has won the ability to endow the souls of men upon the physical plane with a special faculty which is exercised by a part of that nature which the youthful messenger assigned to thee; for by doing this thou hast become what is known as the “Art of pantomime, the art of expression by mimicry.”

And since the soul of this woman still kept a memory of her earthly form, for she had been asleep but a little while, she could pour into that form everything now contained in the figure before her. And she became the archetype of the art of acting.

“But thou must only go a certain distance,” said the figure from the spirit world. “Thou mayest only pour into the form just what thou expressest by movement. As soon as thou pourest in thine own desires, thou wilt distort the form into a grimace, and the destiny of thine art will be cut short. That is what mankind has been doing over there. They have been putting their desires and passions into their mimic pantomime in order to express themselves; But thou must let only selflessness come to expression; thus thou becomest merged with the archetype of the art of acting.”

Sculpture

The soul of the woman continued to live on in this state of consciousness, and another spirit figure drew near which veritably made itself manifest only on one plane, moving only along a line. The soul of the woman observed that this spirit figure also, moving on one plane was sorrowing, and when she enquired ““What can I do for thee?” the figure replied, “My home is in higher regions, in loftier spheres. But I have descended through the realms of the hierarchies to the one known to thee through the care of occult science as the Region of the Spirits of Personality, of which men possess only a copy,” For this figure too had to confess that on coming into touch with humanity it had lost the last of its offspring. And the figure continued, “Men call the last of my offspring their vitality, their sense of being alive, as long as they are on earth, meaning that which makes them aware of their own personalities; that which permeates them in the form of a momentary mood or pleasure, and that which lends energy and persistence to their individual forms. But they have fettered this sense in themselves.”

“What can I do for thee?” asked the soul of the woman. Once more the figure demanded, “Thou must make thyself a part of mine own being. Thou must abandon all human feeling of selfhood and dissolve thyself in my form — thou must merge thyself in me and become one with me!”

And the soul of the woman did so. And she became aware that although the figure had an extension on only one plane, she herself was filled with power radiating in every direction, and that she was now completely occupying the body that she wore on Earth, the body she remembered and which appeared to her here the more radiant and beautiful in consequence. Then the spirit figure said, “By this act of thine thou hast attained to something which endows thee with another individual talent in the great domain after which thou hast been named. At this moment thou hast become that which mankind over yonder possesses, though only as a possibility; thou hast become one with the archetype of the Art of Sculpture”

The soul of the woman became merged with the archetype of sculpture, and could now itself pour out a talent into the souls of men by reason of that which it had taken up into itself. By the aid of that Spirit of Personality she was able to pour this into the souls of men; she could do this in the form of talent. And by doing so she endowed mankind upon the earth with plastic fancy, with the ability to create in plastic outline.

“But thou must not go a step further than thou hast gone! Thou must abide entirely within the limits of thy form. For that which is in thee may only be taken up as far as the Spirits of Form and the regions where they dwell. For if thou goest beyond, thou wilt function as the realm which arouses human passions; if thou dost not stay within the limits of noble form nothing good can possibly be wrought within thy sphere. But if thou abidest within the noble confines of thy form, thou canst pour into that form that which can only be realized in the distant future. And then, although humanity is far from having attained the bodies by means of which they can enact with purity of life that which to-day is given over to quite other forces within them, Thou wilt be allowed to show them what humanity will at some time experience in a purified state, upon the future planet of Venus, when their bodies will have become quite different from what they are now. Thou canst contrast them with the human forms of to-day, and show how pure and chaste the human form of the future is to be.”

And out of the sea of changing figures in the imaginative perception there arose something resembling the archetype of the Venus of Milo.

“Thou mayst go only a certain length in the moulding of form. The instant thou passest the boundaries of form even a little, as soon as thou destroyest the powerful personality whose office it is to hold the human form together, thou standest at the boundary of that which can be beautiful and a work of art.”

And once more a form arose from the tossing waves of the changing sea of astral imaginative world. And it's aspect disclosed that its content had brought the human figure to the edge of the boundary where the form would break the coherence of the personality, where the personality would be lost is a step or two further were taken. And the form of the Laokoon arose out of the picture in the astral world.

Architecture

And the soul of the woman continued to enjoy new experiences in the world of imagination. A figure now drew near concerning which she knew, “This being is not to be found yonder on the physical plane; the physical plane contains nothing capable of manifesting it; I am becoming aware of it for the first time. There are so many things upon the physical plane which distantly recall this figure — but nothing so complete in outline as that which I see here.” It was a strangely austere figure which, in response to an inquiry of the woman's soul, announced that its home was in wide-flung regions, not merely in lofty ones, but that at present it was obliged to function in the realm of the hierarchies known as the Spirits of Form. “Mankind over yonder.” Said this figure to the soul of the woman, “has never been able to give an exact representation of me, or bring anything into being which exactly corresponds to me. For my form, as it appears here, does not exist on the physical plane. Therefore they had to break me into pieces, and only through my having been shattered by them I am able to lend thee certain faculties, if thou accomplishest that which thou canst accomplish by joining thyself to me and becoming one with me. By this means thou canst place a creative picture-making faculty in the souls of men. But because this faculty is torn to bits in the world of men the whole of it can only appear as scattered fragments which come up individually here and there. No part of me can be termed a human sense, and therefore mankind has been unable to bind me. They have only been able to tear me to pieces. From me too have they taken my last offspring; but they have torn him into pieces.”

Once again — not shrinking for the moment from the sacrifice of being torn to pieces — did the soul of this woman unite herself with this spirit being. Thereupon the spirit being said to her, “Now thou hast once more become, through this act of thine, another individual faculty of that which thou hast been called as a whole; thou hast become the archetype of architecture, and of the art of building. Thou canst bestow upon mankind the archetype of architectural fancy, by pouring into their souls that which thou hast just attained. But thou wilt be only able to bestow upon them an architectural fancy showing them single ideas if thou wilt follow up these ideas by which they will be able to build structures having the effect of something spreading downwards from the spiritual world, such as the Pyramids represent.”

“Thou wilt endow men with the ability to make what can only be a copy of what I am, by leading them to devote the science of building to the erection of a spiritual temple and not to the construction of something to be used for earthly purpose, and causing them to impress this character on its very exterior.” And now there appeared — as the pyramid had formerly arisen from the tossing astral sea — the Greek Temple.

And another figure arose out of this tossing astral sea — a figure that did not strive downwards from above, seeking to broaden out below, but one that strove upwards, becoming younger the higher it ascended; a third figure into which architectural fancy had to be born: — the Gothic Cathedral.

Painting

And the soul of this woman continued to live on within the world of the imagination, and another figure came up to her, even stranger and still more remarkable than the preceding. Something streamed out of it which felt like the warmth of love, and something again that produced quite a chilling effect

“Who art thou” said the soul of the woman.

“I have a name rightly applied over yonder among those only on the physical plane who bring men intelligence from the spiritual world. They understand how to apply only my name correctly, for I am called intuition, and I come hither from a wide-flung realm. And inasmuch as I have taken my way from a wide-flung realm to come down into the world I may say that I have come from the realm of Seraphim!”

This figure of intuition was of the nature of the Seraphim. And once more the soul of the woman said, “What dost thou desire me to do?”

“Thou must unite thyself with me! Thou must dare to unite thyself with me! Then wilt thou be able to kindle in the souls of mankind on earth a faculty which again is a part of their inventive activity, and whereby thou wilt become an individual faculty in that whole which the youth earlier described thee as being”

The soul of the woman resolutely undertook this deed, and by so doing she became something which was in actual fact very different and very remote from a human bodily figure, something which could have been appreciated only by one who has looked deep into the soul of man himself. For that into which the soul of the woman had been transformed could only be compared with something purely astral, something etheric within it.

“Because thou didst this,” said the seraphic spirit figure named Intuition, “thou art now capable of endowing men with the faculty which consist of representing ideas in color, and thus hast become the archetype of the art of painting. Thou wilt therefore be able to kindle faculty in men; to bestow it upon one of their senses, the eye, which contains a property that in its thought-activity is not affected by the individual human ego — namely comprehensive outlook upon the outer world — now that thou thyself possessest the painter's gift for visualizing ideas in color. And through this sense men will be able to see, shining through the surface of things which appear lifeless and soulless to ordinary vision, their soul being. Men will be able through this faculty of yours, to animate with soul all the qualities of color and of form. Which they ordinarily discern upon the surface of things. Moreover, they will so make use of their art that soul shall speak through form, and that color shall not convey merely an external sense-impression, but that the color which they spread with magical skill upon their canvas shall relate something about the inner nature of color, just as everything having its origin in me passes outwards from the inmost recesses. Thou wilt be able to give men a faculty by means of which they can, by their own soul-light, carry even into lifeless nature, otherwise regarded as a mere soulless mass of forms and colors, the quality known as soul-motion. And thou wilt be able to give them the means of transforming that motion into repose, and so fixing the changeable aspects of the outer physical world. The fleeting momentary tints down which the glory of the rising sun noiselessly speeds — the colors to be found in lifeless nature — these thou wilt teach them to preserve!”

And a picture rose out of the surging sea of imaginative world, a picture representing a landscape. And another picture rose up representing something else which the spirit figure explained by the following comment: “That which occurs in the experience of human life, whether the time be long or short, whether it takes place in a minute or an hour or in centuries, and which is concentrated into one short moment, that experience thou wilt teach men to record through this faculty which thou art bestowing upon them. Even when the past and the future cross each other with a mighty sweep, even when the two movements of the past and future collide, wilt thou instruct men how to record the instant of the collision as a point of undisturbed rest lying between them.” And out of the tossing world of imagination rose Leonardo da Vinci's picture The Last Supper.

“But thou wilt have difficulties as well. And thy greatest difficulties will occur when thou allowest men to exercise this faculty of thine upon objects already possessed of movement and soul, objects into which they have already sent movement and soul from the physical plane. There it will be the boundary where the copy of the original archetype which thou art, can still be called “Art.” “Yet danger is close at hand. And out of the tossing sea of the imaginative world rose the Portrait.

Music

And the soul of the woman continued to live on in the imaginative world. Another figure approached her — a strange figure once again, and one resembling nothing to be found in the physical world — also one that maybe termed a “heavenly figure” and not to be compared with anything upon the physical plane. The soul of the woman asked, “Who art thou?” and the figure replied, I have on earth a name that is rightly employed by those only who bring messages to men from the spirit world; these people call me Inspiration. I come hither from a wide-flung realm, but my immediate abode is in the region known — where the spiritual world is spoken of among men — as the region of the Cherubim.”

The figure from the realm of the Cherubim freed itself from the embrace of the imaginative world. Again to a question asked by the soul of the woman, “What can I do for thee? What am I to do?” it answered, “Thou must transform thyself into myself. Thou must become one with me!”

Despite the danger attendant on such an action, the soul of the woman dissolved itself into the being of this Cherubim. And when she did this, she became still more unlike all physical forms which are to be found upon earth. While one could say of the former figure, “There is at least something having analogy with it to be found on earth,” one could only describe this figure by saying that it possessed a being utterly foreign to everything earthly and incapable of being compared with anything on earth. The very soul of the woman became quite unlike all earthly things; her appearance became such that one could see that she had herself passed over into a spirit realm, and belonged, with her whole being, to the spirit realm, which is not found in the world of the senses.

“Because thou hast done this, thou canst implant a faculty in the souls of men. And when this faculty is absorbed into the souls of men on earth, it will live in those souls in the form of musical fancy. Men will have nothing they can take from outside, so far has thy faculty estranged them from the earth — they will have nothing external upon which to record the impression received by the soul itself beneath thy inspiring influence. They must fan those impressions into flame in a new manner by means of a sense with which they are familiar in quite a different connection. They will have to give a new form to the sense of tone; they will have to find the musical tone in their own souls, as if they were creating from heavenly heights! And when men create in this fashion, something will flow out of their own individual souls which will be like a human reflection of all that can only grow and blossom imperfectly in external nature. From the human soul will flow reflected forth the murmuring of the brook, the power of the wind, the roll of the thunder. It will not be a copy of these things, but something that will step forth as self-evidently a sister of all these beauties of nature which flow, as it were, out of unknown spirit depths. This is what will surge forth from out of the souls of men. They will be enabled to create something that will enrich the earth, which is new to the earth, that would not have come into existence without this faculty of thine — something that is like a seed for the future of the earth. And thou wilt confer on them the ability to express certain living emotions in their souls which never could be uttered if mankind were confined to their present endowments of thought and conception. All the feelings which cause human language to shrivel up, or which would freeze to death if they were dependent upon verbal conception would be sheer poison, will attain through thee the possibility of breathing out the innermost being of the soul over the circumference of the earth, upon the wings of song and ballad, and the imprinting upon that circumference something that would otherwise not be there. All complicated and profound emotions, all emotions existing like a mighty world itself within the human soul — emotions which could otherwise never come to external expression in such shape and which could only be experienced by exploring, by means of the human soul, universal history and cosmic space and all other realms shut out from external experience (for all the opposing currents flowing through centuries and millennia would have to flow into the picture in order to show what mankind has learned at one time and another) — all this can be compressed by men, through thy faculty and poured into a form which they have made their own — the musical symphony.”

And the soul of the woman understood how one brings down what we call inspiration from the spirit heights of the world, and how this should be expressed by the normal human soul; she understood that this can only be expressed by musical sound. The soul of the woman now knew that if the occult investigator desires to describe the world of inspiration, and if this world is to be reproduced upon the physical plane by physical means so as to be more than a mere copy — if it is to be presented directly to human beings, this can only be accomplished through a musical work of art. And the soul of the woman understood how a musical composition could express such a stupendous event as Ouranos kindling his own emotion in the fire of Gaia's love, or how it could portray what happened when Kronos desired to illuminate his inner spirit nature with the light of Zeus!

Such were the deep experiences attained by the soul of that woman through contact from the Cherubim.

Poetry

And the soul of the woman continued to live on into that which is called the imaginative world. And another figure approached her: once again very different from anything to be found upon earth. To the question of the woman's soul, “Who art thou?” this spirit figure replied, “My name is only used correctly by those in the physical world who declare spiritual events to men. For I am Imagination! My home is in a distant country, but from that far country I have betaken myself to that region of the hierarchies known as the region of the Spirits of Will.”

“What can I to do for thee?” the soul of the woman once more enquired.

This figure also demanded that the soul of the woman should unite its own being with this figure from the Spirits of Will. And once more the soul of the woman became very unlike the ordinary soul figure; she was transformed entirely into a figure of soul.

“By doing this thou hast obtained the ability to breathe into the souls of men that faculty which men on earth know as poetic or lyric fancy. Thou hast become the archetype of poetic fancy. And through thee, men will be able to express in speech something they could never express if they were to cleave to the outer world with a desire to reproduce only what is found in the physical world. Thou wilt endow men with the ability to express through thy fancy all that comes into touch with their own will, and which could not be expressed in any other form or stream out of the human soul through earthly means. Thou wilt enable men to express this. On the wings of thy rhythm and thy meter and all the gifts thou wilt be able to offer to men, they will express things for which speech would otherwise be far too coarse an instrument. Thou wilt enable them to express that which otherwise could not be expressed at all.”

And in the vision of Poetry there appeared the events of the centuries in the history of nations, and its inspiring effect upon entire races.

“Moreover, thou wilt be able to compass something that could never be represented by any outward physical event. Thy messengers will be the skalds and the poets of all the ages. They will put into their epics the compact history of human epochs, and thou wilt be able to lend a magic life upon the stage to the forms assumed by the will when heated passions are arrayed against one another. Thou wilt now show, how men, fighting upon solid earth, would vie in vain, how the shock of conflicting passions brings death to one side and victory to the other. Thou wilt give men the possibility of dramatic art!”

And the soul of the woman became aware at this moment of an inner experience such had only to be described by the use of our earthly expression “an awakening.”

How did she come to awake? She woke up by becoming aware of what we may call reflected images of things not to be found upon the earth itself. She herself had become of one nature with imagination. That which lives on our earth as poetry is a reflection of imagination. The soul of the woman beheld the reflection of imagination in the art of poetry. And through beholding this she awoke. She had to forsake the dreamlike spiritual world, it is true, by reason of her awakening; yet she had come at any rate to a region that resembles — though it be but a lifeless reflection thereof — the spirit life of spiritual imagination. This is how she came to wake.

And when she awoke she observed that the night had passed. Once more the snow-clad landscape lay stretching around her; the drifting icebergs were floating off the shore and the icicles hanging on the trees. But as she awoke she noticed the other woman lying by her side, nearly rigid with the cold she had endured without being inwardly warmed by the impression “Oh! How glorious!” which her companion had received from this snowy scene. The soul of the woman who had encountered all these experiences during the night now became aware that the other woman, who had nearly frozen to death from inability to receive impressions in the spirit world, was Human Knowledge! And she took charge of her in order to be able to bestow upon her some of her own warmth. She comforted and tended her, and the other woman gradually grew warm under the influence of what the soul of her companion had brought back as the result of her night's experiences.

In the east the dawn heralding the sun's approach begins to spread over the landscape, and its glow grows rosier and rosier. And now that she is awake the soul of the woman who had met with these experiences during the night can behold and hear the things that human creatures all the world over speak about when they have had a dim inner intimation of realities that can be experienced in the world of the imagination. She hears amid the chorus of human voices the utterances sung by the noblest among them, representing their conjectures about matters upon which they are in no wise informed by imagination, but which they let pour out of the innermost depths of their soul as a beacon for mankind. She hears the voice of the poet who has apprehended the majesty of the experience that can come into the human soul out of the imaginative world. She understands now that she must act as the savior of what upon earth is half frozen knowledge; she understands that she must warm it and permeate it with her own nature, especially with her art nature, and that she must recount the memories of her dreams during the night to this half frozen knowledge. And she observes how that which was half congealed can thaw into life again with the speed of the wind, so soon as knowledge accepts in the form of perception that which is brought to it in the form of revelation.

Once again she gazes into the dawn which becomes a symbol to her of the state out of which she has awakened, and a symbol also of her own imaginings. And she understands the lines of the poet who has sung so wisely as the outcome of his premonitions. That which her new spiritual powers sang to her now comes ringing from the whole wide earth: —

Only through the dawn of Beauty
Shalt thou reach the realm of Truth!

THE END

From shorthand notes of a lecture delivered 28th October, 1909
The authorized English Translations Edited by H. Collison
Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 54 Bloomsbury Street, W.C.1.
New York: Anthroposophic Press printed in England




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