HEAVENLY HISTORY MYTHOLOGICAL HISTORY
EARTHLY HISTORY. THE MYSTERY OF GOLGOTHA
In the spatial Cosmos we have the contrast of the Universal spaces and
the Earthly centre. In the Universal spaces the stars, as it were, are
scattered wide, while from the Earthly centre forces are streaming out
in all directions into the far spread Universe.
To man as he stands in the world in the present cosmic epoch, it is
only as a great totality that the glory of the stars and the working
of the earthly forces can represent the finished work of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings with whom he in his inner being is connected.
But there was once a cosmic epoch when the glory of the stars and the
forces of the Earth were still a direct spiritual revelation of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings. At that time, man in his dim consciousness
felt the Divine-Spiritual Beings actively working in his own nature.
Another epoch of time ensued. The starry heavens became severed, as a
corporeal existence, from the Divine-Spiritual working. There
originated what we may call the World-spirit and the
World-body. The World-spirit is a multitude of
Divine-Spiritual Beings. In the former epoch these Beings had worked
from the starry places inward to the Earth. All that had shone forth
from universal space, all that had radiated by way of forces from the
earthly centre, was in reality Intelligence and Will of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings, who were working creatively upon the Earth
and Earth humanity.
In the later cosmic epochs after the Saturn and Sun evolutions
the working of the Intelligence and Will of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings became more and more spiritually inward. That
in which They had been actively present in the beginning became the
World-body: the harmonious arrangement of stars in
universal space. Looking back on these matters with a spiritual
world-conception, we may express it thus: From the original
spirit-body of the World-creative Beings, the World-spirit and the
World-body were evolved. And in the ordering and movement of the
stars, the World-body now shows what the Intelligent and Will-imbued
working of the Gods once upon a time was like. For the cosmic
present however, what was once the Divine Intelligence and Will living
and moving freely in the stars, has become fastened in the fixed Laws
of the starry universe.
Today, therefore, that which shines inward from the starry worlds to
man on Earth is no longer an immediate expression of Divine Will and
Divine Intelligence, but it is a sign that has come to stand: a
sign of what the Divine Will and Intelligence was, once upon a time,
even in the very stars. Potent as it is to call forth wonder in the
human soul, we must recognise in the sublime formation of the starry
heavens a revelation of the Gods which is of the past; we cannot
perceive in it their present revelation.
That, however, which in the shining of the stars is of the
past, is present in the Spirit-world. And in this
present Spirit-world, man with his own true being dwells.
Studying the formation of the world, we must look back to an
ancient cosmic epoch when the World-spirit and the World-body
still worked as an undivided unity. Then we must envisage the
middle epoch, in which they unfold as a duality. And at length
we must think into the future into the third epoch when
the World-spirit will once again take up the World-body into its
For the old epoch, it would have been impossible to
calculate the constellations and the courses of the stars;
for these were then the expression of the free Intelligence and free
Will of Divine-Spiritual Beings. Moreover, in the future they will
once again become incalculable.
Calculation has a meaning only for the middle cosmic
And this holds good, not only of the constellations and the movements
of the stars, but of the working of the forces which radiate from the
earthly centre to the far-spread Universe. That which works out
of the depths also becomes calculable.
Everything strives from the older cosmic epoch towards the middle
epoch, when the Spatial and Temporal becomes calculable,
and the Divine-Spiritual as manifestation of Intelligence and Will
must be sought for behind this calculable
Only in this middle epoch are the conditions given for man to progress
from a dim state of consciousness to one of free and bright
self-conscious being, with a free Intelligence and a free Will of his
Thus there had to come the time when Copernicus and Kepler could
calculate the body of the world. For it was through the
cosmic forces with which this moment was connected, that the
self-consciousness of man had to take shape. The seed of man's
self-consciousness had been laid in an older time; and now the time
was come when it was far enough advanced to calculate the
On the Earth, History takes place. What we call
History would never have come about if the far spaces of
the Universe had not evolved into the hard and fast
constellations and starry courses. In historic evolution
on the Earth we have an image albeit thoroughly transformed
of what was once upon a time heavenly History.
Earlier peoples still had this heavenly History in their
consciousness, and were indeed far more aware of it than of the
In earthly History there lives the intelligence and will of men
in connection, to begin with, with the cosmic Will and Intelligence of
the Gods; then, independent of them.
In heavenly History, on the other hand, there lived the Intelligence
and Will of the Divine-Spiritual Beings who are connected with
When we look back into the spiritual life of nations, we come to an
age of far-distant antiquity when there was present in man a
consciousness of being and willing in communion with the
Divine-Spiritual Beings so much so that ,the History of men was
heavenly History. The man of that age, when he came to speak of
origins, did not relate earthly events but cosmic. And
even in relation to his own present time, that which was going on in
his earthly environment seemed to him so insignificant beside the
cosmic processes that he gave his attention to the latter only, not to
There was an epoch when humanity was conscious of beholding the
history of the heavens in mighty and impressive revelations, wherein
the Divine-Spiritual Beings themselves stood before the soul of man.
They spoke, and man in Dream Inspiration hearkened to their speech;
they revealed their forms, and in Dream-Imagination man saw them.
This heavenly History, which for a long time filled the souls of men,
was followed by the mythical History, generally regarded in our time
as a poetic creation of the ancients. Mythical History combines
heavenly events with earthly. Heroes, for instance,
super-human beings appear on the scene. They are beings at a
higher stage in evolution than the human being. In a given epoch, for
example, man had developed the members of human nature only so far as
to the Sentient Soul, but the Hero had already evolved
what will one day appear in man as Spirit-Self. In the existing
conditions of the Earth, the Hero could not incarnate
directly, but he could do so indirectly by diving down into the body
of a human being, and thus becoming able to work as a man among men.
Such beings are to be seen in the Initiates of an earlier
To understand the true position of the facts in this world process, we
must not imagine that in the successive epochs mankind
conceived of the processes and events in just this way.
But that which actually took place, as between the more spiritual,
incalculable and the corporeal, calculable
world, underwent a change. Long after the world-relationships had
actually changed, human consciousness in this or that nation still
held fast to a world-conception corresponding to a far earlier
reality. To begin with, this was due to the fact that the
consciousness of men, which does not keep pace exactly with the cosmic
process, really continued to behold the old condition. Afterwards
there came a time in which the vision faded, but men still held fast
to the old by tradition. Thus in the Middle Ages an in-playing of the
heavenly world into the earthly was still conceived out of tradition,
but it was no longer seen, for the force of Imaginative picture-seeing
was no longer present.
In the earthly realm, the different peoples evolved in such a way as
to hold fast to the content of one or other world conception for
varying periods of time. Thus, world conceptions which by their nature
follow one upon the other are found living side by side. Albeit, the
variety of world conceptions is due not to this alone, but also to the
fact that the different nations, according to their inner talents, did
really see different spiritual things. Thus the Egyptians beheld the
world in which beings dwell who have come to a premature standstill on
the path of human evolution and have not become earthly Man. The
Egyptians too saw man himself, after his earthly life, in the midst of
all that he had to do with beings such as these. The Chaldaean
peoples, on the other hand, saw more the way in which extra-earthly
spiritual Beings, both good and evil, entered into the earthly life to
The ancient Heavenly History properly speaking, which
belonged to a very long epoch of time, was followed by the epoch of
Mythological History, shorter, but, in comparison to the subsequent
period of History in the accepted sense, none the less
It is, as I explained above, only with difficulty that man in his
consciousness takes leave of the old conceptions wherein the Gods and
men are thought of in living interplay and co-operation. Thus the
period of Earthly History in the proper sense has long been present;
it has in fact been present since the unfolding of the Intellectual or
Mind-soul. Nevertheless for a long time men continued to
think in the sense of what had been before. It was only
when the first germs of the Spiritual Soul evolved, that they began
therewith to pay attention to what is now called History in the
proper sense. And in this Human-Spiritual element, which, loosed
from the Divine-Spiritual, becomes History, the free
Intelligence and the free Will can be experienced consciously by men.
Thus the World-process in which man is interwoven, runs its course
between the fully calculable and the working of the free Intelligence
and the free Will. This World-process manifests itself in all
conceivable intermediate shades of co-operation between these two.
Man lives his life between birth and death in such a manner that in
the calculable the bodily foundation is created for the
unfolding of his inner soul-and-spirit nature, which is free and
incalculable. He goes through his life between death and new birth in
the incalculable, but in such a way that the calculable there unfolds,
in thought, within his existence of soul and spirit. Out
of this calculable element he thereby becomes the builder of his
coming life on Earth.
That which cannot be calculated is manifested forth on Earth in
History, but into it the calculable is incorporated,
though only to a slight extent.
The Luciferic and Ahrimanic beings oppose themselves to the order
which is established between the incalculable and the calculable by
the Divine-Spiritual Beings who have been united with man from the
very beginning; they oppose the harmonising of the Cosmos by the
Divine-Spiritual Beings through measure, number and
weight. Lucifer cannot unite anything calculable with the nature
that he has given to his being. His ideal is a cosmic and
unconditioned activity of Intelligence and Will.
This Luciferic tendency is in keeping with the cosmic order in the
realms in which there should be happenings that are free. And Lucifer
is there the competent spiritual helper of the unfolding of humanity.
Without his assistance freedom could not enter into the human life of
spirit and soul which is built on the foundation of the calculable
bodily nature. But Lucifer would like to extend this tendency to the
whole Cosmos. And in this, his activity becomes a conflict against the
Divine-Spiritual order to which man originally belongs.
At this point Michael steps in. With his own being he stands within
the incalculable; but he balances the incalculable with the
calculable, which he bears within him as the cosmic Thought that he
has received from his Gods.
The position of the Ahrimanic Powers in the world is different. They
are the exact opposite of the Divine-Spiritual Beings with whom man is
originally united. At the present time these latter are purely
spiritual Powers who possess absolutely free Intelligence and
absolutely free Will, but in this Intelligence and Will they create
the wise insight of the necessity of the calculable and the unfree
the cosmic Thought out of whose lap man is to unfold as a free
being. And in the Cosmos they are united in love with all that
is calculable with the cosmic Thought. This love streams from
them through the Universe.
In complete contrast with this, there lives, in the greedy desire of
the Ahrimanic powers, cold hatred against all that unfolds in
freedom. Ahriman's efforts are directed towards making a cosmic
machine out of that which he allows to stream forth from the Earth
into universal space. His ideal is measure, number and
weight and nothing else than these. He was called into the
Cosmos that serves the evolution of humanity, because measure,
number and weight, which is his sphere, had to be unfolded.
The world is truly understood only by one who comprehends it
everywhere with respect to spirit and body. This must be
carried right into Nature, with respect to such Powers as the
Divine-Spiritual who work in love and the Ahrimanic who work in
hatred. In Nature's cosmic warmth which comes in spring and works more
strongly towards summer, we must perceive the love of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings working through Nature; in the icy blast of
winter we must become aware of Ahriman's working.
At midsummer, Lucifer's power weaves itself into the love that works
in Nature: into the warmth. At Christmas the power of the
Divine-Spiritual Beings with whom man is originally united is directed
against the frost-hatred of Ahriman. And towards spring the Divine
Love working in Nature continually softens down the Ahriman-hatred
The appearance of this Divine Love which comes each year is a time of
remembrance, for with Christ the free element of God entered into the
calculable element of Earth. Christ works in absolute freedom in the
calculable element, and in this way He renders innocuous the Ahrimanic
which craves for the calculable alone.
The Event of Golgotha is the free cosmic deed of love within Earthly
History, and it can only be grasped by the love which man develops for
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (in connection with the foregoing on the subject of Heavenly History, Mythological History, Earthly History, the Mystery of Golgotha)
140. The cosmic process in which the evolution of mankind is
interwoven reflected, in the consciousness of man, as
History in the widest sense reveals the following
successive epochs: a long epoch of Heavenly History; a
shorter epoch of Mythological History; and the epoch,
relatively very short, of Earthly History.
141. Today, this cosmic process is divided, into the working of
Divine-Spiritual Beings in free Intelligence and Will which none can
calculate, and the calculable process of the World-body.
142. Against the calculable order of the World-body the Luciferian
Powers stand opposed; against all that creates in free Intelligence
and Will, the Ahrimanic.
143. The Event of Golgotha is a cosmic deed, and free. Springing from
the Universal love, it is intelligible only by the love in Man.