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Occult History

Historical Personalities and Events in the light of Spiritual Science

By Rudolf Steiner

GA 126

These lectures are concerned with spiritual forces and influences working in world history and in the karma of human beings.

Steiner's penetrating insights, based on spiritual science, into the events and personalities in history are one of his major contributions to modern times. Steiner focuses here on the Babylonian and Greek cultures and the connecting threads running between individual personalities and the evolution of humanity as a whole.

This English edition is published in agreement with the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland. The German edition is: Okkulte Geschichte. Esoterische Betrachtungen karmischer Zusammenhaenge von Persoenlichkeiten und Ereignissen der Weltgeschichte. Translation and revision of this volume, from shorthand reports unrevised by the lecturer, by D. S. Osmond and Charles Davy. Appendix and notes additional to those in the German Text by D. S. Osmond.

Copyright © 1982
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 Cover Sheet  
About the series of Lectures
Synopsis of Lectures
Lecture 1 December 27, 1910

Inadequacy of the customary way of studying history. The deep meaning of historical events is disclosed in myths. Higher Beings work and act from the spiritual world through physical men. Individualities as instruments of the onflowing stream of human evolution. The epic of Gilgamish. The symbolic meaning of certain events. Projections on the physical plane of earlier, more spiritual Happenings. Alexandria. Hypatia.

Lecture 2 December 28, 1910

The intervention of higher super-sensible Powers through the deed of the Maid of Orleans. Thc interplay among the individual peoples of Europe is made possible and modern history given a different form. Scotus Erigena. The occult background of the frgures of Gilganaish and Eabani. Thc picture of the centaur.

Lecture 3 December 29, 1910

Modification of the course of the incarnations through the intervention of the higher Hierarchies. Law in the connection between individual karma and influences from other worlds. The objective reality of a revelation must be distinguished from the content of the consciousness which comes to meet it. Culture based an clairvoyance or on the human personality. The ego Works in the ego. Aristotle. Catharsis through fear and compassion.

Lecture 4 December 30, 1910

A reascent to culture based an clairvoyance begins with our epoch. Primeval speech and the connection between thought and uttered sound. An echo of this in the Sumerian language. Sacred buildings and the principle of measure taken from the heavens and from the human body. The mission of the Babylonian people. The Tower of Babel and its meaning. Chaldean Mystery-culture and its technique of numbers. Expression of pure and essential manhood in Greek civilisation. Julian the Apostate. Tycho Brahe.

Lecture 5 December 31, 1910

Connection between the single personalities in history and the individual threads running through the whole evolution of mankind. Beings of the Third Hierarchy (Angels, Archangels, Spirits of Personality) work on and through the souls of men in the course of the successive civilisation-epochs. The phenomenon of so-called “canals” on Mars. The Spirits of Form also manifest in the beings of the kingdoms of nature and thus work upon man. Crucial points in evolution: their connection with the position and movement of the earth in relation to the neighbouring celestial bodies, and with the position of the earth's axis in relation to the axis of the ecliptic. The Atlantean catastrophe and the impulses of the year 1250. Cycles of ascent and decline in the history of mankind; catastrophic happenings in nature and fundamental changes in the activities of spiritual Beings and of human souls. The onset and waning of these cycles; they are intersected by other powerful influences. Differentiations caused by particular conditions. Nicolaus Cusanus. Nicolaus Copernicus. Oberlin.

Lecture 6 January 01, 1911

Greek culture, in which the essentially human element comes to expression, is prepared by the preceding Babylonian culture and the Mystery-wisdom of prehistoric ages. In the Greek epoch the ego weaves and works in the ego, but this faculty had previously been inculcated into the souls of men by higher Beings in the ancient temple-sanctuaries. Homer and Aeschylus. Greek art, philosophy, and the folk-character. The Greek heroes in the battles against the Persians. Plato and Aristotle. Periods of ascent and decline in the streams of culture. A symptom of periods of decline is that special aims and interests become independent of the question of truth itself. In Stoicism, Epicureanism, Scepticism, man is thrown back upon his own soul. In Neo-Platonism, the individual looks within himself and strives to reach truth by mystical ascent. In the year 1250 a new inspiration begins for humanity; in the 16th century it peters away. At the portal leading to the new period of decline stands Kant. Inklings of what the re-ascent demands often arise out of the folk-instincts. In the pre-Grecian epoch: sons of the gods; in the Greek epoch: sages; in the post-Grecian epoch: saints. Among the Hebrews, transition from the patriarchs to the prophets. The fact that individuals are at the same time instruments of the evolutionary process is revealed in a series of incarnations of profound interest. Elijah. John the Baptist, Raphael, Novalis. The transition from Michelangelo to Galileo. The true feeling for time.

Notes and References

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