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Occult Science - An Outline

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Occult Science - An Outline


Chapter I. The Character of Occult Science

Concerning the term ‘Occult Science’. The ‘manifest secret’


What is the essence of a ‘science’ ? Science and supersensible perception (26-9). Sundry aberrations (29). The character of ‘proofs’ in natural and spiritual science (30-1). Riddles arising from contemplation of the outer world, to which the outer world gives no answer (31-2). Concerning ‘frontiers of knowledge’ (32-3). Contrary viewpoints mentioned and answered (30-2).

Universal, impersonal validity of spiritual-scientific insight


Spiritual knowledge a source of renewed life and strength (35-36). Spiritual-scientific study and the development of one's own higher faculties (36-8). The student becomes an active participator in supersensible knowledge (38). In supersensible cognition, man himself is the instrument of knowledge (37-8).

Chapter II. The Nature of Humanity

Physical body; relation to mineral kingdom (39-40). Etheric or

Life-body (40-3; see also page 314).

Misunderstandings to be guarded against: the hypothetical ether of physics; discarded notions of a ‘life-force’ (41-2). Wider use of the term ‘body’ (41). Etheric organs — heart, brain, etc. (41).

Astral body (43-4).

Waking and sleeping (43). Relation to animal kingdom. Fallacious reasoning concerning ‘sensitive’ plants (44).

The I or Ego, the fourth member of man's being (45-53). Life, consciousness and memory in relation to etheric body, astral body and Ego (46). Memory characteristic of man;

mistakes concerning ‘memory’ in animals (45-8; see also page 326). Learning, remembering and forgetting (48). Distinction of body and soul. Astral body as soul-body (48-9).

Sentient Soul, Intellectual or Mind-Soul, Spiritual Soul (49-50;

see also page 322).

Essential nature of the I . Relation to the Divine: picture of the ocean and the drop (49-50). Body, soul and spirit (52). Spiritual work of the Ego transforming the bodily and soul-members (53-7). Spirit-Self or Manas, the transformed astral body (53). Life-Spirit or Budhi, the transformed etheric body (54-5). Spirit-Man or Atma, the transformed physical body (56-7; see also page 321).

Transformation of astral and etheric bodies — picture of minute and hour hands of the clock (54; see also page 327). Influence of art and religion (55-6). The sevenfold man (57-8).

Misunderstandings concerning the number seven (58-9).

Chapter III. Sleep and Death

Introductory (60-1). Separation of the astral body from the

physical and etheric bodies during sleep (62).

Etheric body, the architect of the physical, receives the pattern-forms or archetypes from the astral body. Rhythm of sleeping and waking. Sleep and fatigue (63-4; see also page 327). Universe to which the astral body belongs. Refreshment from the cosmic harmonies (65; see also page 317).

Dreams and dream-consciousness; examples of dreams (66-8;

see also page 322).

Death. Severance of etheric body from physical (69).

Memory-tableau in the first few days after death (71-3). Partial severance of etheric body in exceptional conditions during life. Experiences, for example, when on the point of drowning (72-3). The second stage after death. Separation of etheric and astral bodies (73-6).

The time of purification; the ‘consuming fire’ (76-8). Recapitulation of past life in reverse order (78). Physical, etheric and astral corpses (79).

Entry of the Ego into the spiritual world (80-3).

Revelation (as of the Ego in self-awareness) from within (79). Destructive and evil powers made manifest in the time of purification; picture of the prowling wolf (80-1). The spiritual yield of earthly life which man brings with him into Spirit-land (82). Experiences of the soul in Spirit-land. Colour, sound and the spiritual Word (82-3).

Archetypal realms of Spirit-land: continental region, region of

oceans and rivers, atmosphere (83-5).

Archetypes of mineral kingdom, world of flowing life, realm of feelings (83-4). Complementary qualities: e.g. complementary colours, fulness and emptiness (84). Warmth and light in the spiritual world. Living archetypes of thought. Spiritual light and Wisdom (85-6).

Outcome of past life, planted as a seed into the spiritual world


Man is amid the creative powers of the physical, ethenc and astral bodies. Preparation for coming life on Earth (87; see also page 318).

Change of consciousness on approach to new incarnation. Prevision of coming earthly life. Law of destiny or Karma (89). Man between death and rebirth partakes in the gradual changing of the Earth-planet. Souls who were near one-another in earthly life find each other again after death (89-90). Reincarnation not an endless repetition (91). Concerning relative duration of life between death and new birth and its several stages, see also pages 318-9).

Problems of destiny in relation to physical heredity and the reincarnating individuality (91-4).

Fallacious thinking concerning the inheritance of genius (91-4;

see also page 328). Approach to the truth of reincarnation through living thought and experience (96-8). Significance of schooling and education (98-9; see also pages 323-4). Quotation from I. H. Fichte (100-1). Reincarnation and the cosmic past and future (101).

Chapter IV. Man and the Evolution of the World Introductory (102-15)

Akashic records (105). Successive planetary embodiments:

Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth (108-10).

Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth and the four members of man's being: physical body, etheric body, astral body and Ego — varying degrees of perfection (112-14).

Saturn Evolution (115-28)

The Saturn warmth. Beginnings of man's physical body


The Spirits of Wisdom and the Thrones (119). Spirits of Movement, Spirits of Form (120-1). Individualization of bodily forms: the ‘mulberry’ picture (121).

The Archai or Spirits of Personality attain their human stage (121-2).

Germinal beginnings of human sense-organs (122). Entry of the Fire-Spirits (Archangels) and the Sons of Life or of Twilight (Angels). Participation of the Seraphim and Cherubim (122-4).

Renewed activity of the Thrones. The germ of Spirit-Man (124).

Transition from soul-warmth to outwardly perceptible warmth;

earlier, purely spiritual stages.

Beginning of Time. Time and Duration (126).

Meaninglessness of questions endlessly pursued; example of cart-tracks (126).

Summary and recapitulation. Progressive advancement of the Hierarchical Beings (127).

Interval of spiritual rest between Saturn and Sun evolutions


Sun Evolution (129-37)

Recapitulation of Old Saturn. Outpouring of the human life-body by the Spirits of Wisdom (129-30).

Beginnings of Life. Interval of cosmic rest. The human being becomes twofold (129-30).

Entry of the Spirits of Movement (130-1).

Movement within the human body, comparable to that of sap in plants (130). Differentiation of warmth into air, warmth and light (130-1). Interval of rest (131).

Entry of the Spirits of Form (131). Interval of rest (131).

Middle period of Sun Evolution (131-4).

Advancement of the Archai beyond the human stage. Imaginative or wide-awake picture-consciousness (132). Co-operation of the Seraphim. Beginnings of reproductive process (132). Some of the Archai stay behind in evolution. Resulting differentiation of two Nature-kingdoms. Separation of Sun and Saturn (133-4). The Archangels attain their human stage (133). Beginnings of human glandular system (135). Interval of rest (i35).

United activity of the Cherubim and the Angels (135-6). The Angels attain dreamlike picture-consciousness (135-6). Interval of rest (136).

The human being and the Thrones. Man receives the germ of

Life-Spirit or Budhi (136). Interval of rest (136).

Renewed activity of the Spirits of Wisdom (136).

Man has attained the consciousness of dreamless sleep. Longer interval of cosmic rest between Sun and Moon evolutions (137-8).

Moon Evolution (137-61)

Recapitulation of Old Saturn (137-8).

Interval of rest (138).

Recapitulation of Sun. First outpouring of the astral body by the Spirits of Movement (138).

Interval of rest (139).

Continued outpouring of the human astral body by the Spirits of Movement (138-9).

Sensation begins in Man (139). Entry of the Spirits of Form (139). Development of Water-element (139).

Differentiation of the human and two lower Nature-kingdoms (139-40). Separation of Sun and Moon (140).

Relation of Moon to Sun and of Old Saturn to the surrounding Cosmos compared. Principle of spiritual reflection followed by independent development (141-2). First mention of the ‘rebellious’ Beings — their opposition to the Sun-Beings (142).

Nature-kingdoms of Old Moon: mineral-plant, plant-animal,

animal-man (142). Ennobling influence of the Sun-Beings (143). Archai and Archangeloi who remained behind in evolution


Separation of other cosmic bodies in addition to Sun and Moon

(144). Interval of rest (145).

The Archai attain the Inspirational and the Archangeloi the Imaginative consciousness (145-6).

Their several influences on the human astral and etheric bodies

(146). Elemental processes in the warmth-, air- and water-elements


Relation of breathing and nutrition, the forming of mental

pictures and reproduction (146). Dreamlike picture-consciousness of Man (147).

Interval of rest (148).

Twofoldness of the human being. Emergence of ‘head’ (148-50). Harmony achieved through the influence of the Sun-Beings (149).

Mutual movement of heavenly bodies and the states of consciousness of their inhabitants. Periodic migrations of the inhabitants of the Moon (149).

With the help of man's sense-organs the Angels attain the

human stage (150).

Man's alternating states of consciousness and the waxing and waning of his bodily form. Rhythms intermediate between those of life and death and of waking and sleeping (150-3). Harmonies of the Universe acting on the astral body and life-body of man (151). Once more the relation of reproduction and ideation (153). .

Sons of Life (Angels) as Group-egos of Lunar man (154).

Ego-consciousness of the Angels and the human sense-organs. Beginnings of nervous system (154). Memory in the etheric body (155).

Middle period of Moon evolution: Man in relation to the

several Hierarchies (154).

The germ of Spirit-Self (155).

The Sun Beings overcome the rebellious Moon Beings (156). Reunion of Sun and Moon. The Spirits of Wisdom permeate the planet with wisdom (156). Influence of the Spirits of Movement. Evolution of sentient and intellectual souls (157).

The Moon becomes a ‘Cosmos of Wisdom’, from which the

present Earth derives (157-60).

Summary: Rising and declining periods of Moon evolution:

seven cycles in all (158-61). Culmination in the middle period, when Angels attain the human stage (159).

Earth Evolution (161-221)

Recapitulations of Saturn, Sun and Moon (161-3). The physical and life-bodies in astral form (162-3). First contact with the Fire-Earth. The ‘acorn’ picture (163-4). Progressive evolution through the elements: Fire. Air, Water, Earth. Archai, Archangels and Angels and the sentient, intellectual and spiritual souls. Spiritual life, sound, light and warmth (163-4). Separation of Sun (165).

Alternating phases in man's consciousness and bodily development, and the relative movements of Earth and Sun (166-9). Separation of Moon (170).

Beginnings of racial differentiation (170). Division of the sexes (170-1).

Further description of man's evolution hitherto in relation to the Spirits of Form, Archai, Archangels and Angels (174-81).

Evolution of heredity, memory, breathing, the nervous system

(172-3). Three distinct human types (176-7). Before the separation of the Moon, human souls — all but the strongest — had to leave the Earth for a time (177-9).

The several groups of human souls and the planets: Mars,

Jupiter and Saturn. Evolution of animal, plant and mineral

kingdoms on Earth (178-81).

Influence of the rebellious (Luciferic) Spirits (182-5).

Sickness and death (185). Protection of human life-body from Luciferic influence by the

Sun-Beings (185-7).

Rhythms of day and night. Movements of Earth, Sun, Moon and the other heavenly bodies (186).

Return of human souls from Jupiter, Mars and the other

planets (187).

Beginning of Reincarnation and Karma (188). Reproduction and the spiritual protection of man's life-body (188). Highly developed memory. Power over the life-forces of Nature (188).

Loss of the faculty to divine the future. Fear, error and the

possibility of freedom. First explicit mention of the Ahrimanic

Beings (190).

Exalted spiritual Beings of the planetary and solar realms who

protected the human life-bodies. Higher Egos of the Jupiter,

Mars, Sun, and Saturn humanity (190-1). The Sun-Being and

the Christ (191).

Names of the evolutionary epochs: Atlantean, Lemurian,

Hyperborean (and Polarian) (191-2).

Biblical tradition of Paradise and the Fall (192). The Lemurian Fire-catastrophe (191-2).

Atlantis (192-201).

Saturn, Sun, Jupiter and Mars races (192). Relation of Man to the Hierarchies in waking and sleeping (192). The Atlantean Oracles or Initiation-centres, turning the Luciferic influence into an instrument of progress (193). Christ and the Sun Oracle (194). Saturn, Jupiter and Mars Oracles (194).

Origin of the Planets Venus and Mercury (195).

Venus and Mercury Oracles (195). The Vulcan Oracle;

development of science and the arts (195). Diverse methods of the Oracles, in relation to Thought. Special position of the Christ-Initiates (195). Higher human faculties — notably that of speech — gained through the transmutation of the Luciferic influence (196-7). Memory of ancestors. Erroneous concepts of reincarnation (196).

Plasticity of man's bodily form in Atlantean time (197). Premature hardening of the animal kingdom.

Corruption and betrayal of Atlantean Mysteries, notably those

of Vulcan. Destruction of Atlantis by air- and water-catastrophe (197-9).

Migration of Atlanteans to Europe, Asia, Africa and America (198). Further characterization of the Ahrimanic Beings (200).

The Christ-Initiate leads a chosen group into inner Asia. His

seven disciples. Ancient Indian civilization (201).

The Indian Christ-Initiate. The great Sun-Spirit as the ‘Hidden One’ (203-4). Erroneous ideas of reincarnation after the downfall of Atlantis (205).

The Persian civilization-epoch (205-10).

Spiritual conquest of the Earth (206). Zarathustra (207). Ahura Mazdao (208). The Zoroastrian Initiation in relation to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers (207-9).

Egypto-Chaldean or third post-Atlantean epoch (209-11). Osiris (211). Hermes (210, 214).

Graeco-Latin or fourth post-Atlantean epoch (211-18).

Art and philosophy of ancient Greece (211-2). Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries. The Pythagorean School (212).

Darkening influence of Ahriman in the life after death (213). Spiritual Science (as in Ch. III of this book) portrays man's life between death and new birth such as it is when Ahriman's influence has to some extent been overcome (213-4). Feeling in ancient Greece: ‘Better a beggar on Earth than a king in the realm of shades’ (214).

The two kinds of Initiation. Mysteries wrested from Lucifer

and from Ahriman (214-16).

Prophecy of the Christ-event (216). Moses and the I AM (216).

The coming of Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha (216-18). After the Death on the Cross, Christ appeared in the realm where human souls sojourn after death and set limits to the power of Ahriman (217).

Gradual ripening of the seed planted in human evolution by

Christ's coming (218).

Ideal of a common humanity (218). ‘I and the Father are one’

(218). Beginning of fifth post-Atlantean epoch (218-20).

European Mysteries and Mythologies (219). ‘Twilight of the

Gods’ (220). Christian Mysticism — Eckhardt, Tauler and

others (220), Dawn of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch (221).

Chapter V. Knowledge of Higher Worlds [Initiation)

Waking, dreaming and sleeping. Attainment of consciousness

in sleep (222). Initiation (223).

Spiritual organs of perception (223). Gases of spontaneous or self-initiation. Initiation normally by spiritual training (224). Objections and misgivings answered (224-8). The pupil's spiritual freedom (225). Ethical aspects (227).


Normal waking consciousness the starting-point. Meditation of

symbolic pictures (228-9).

Comparison with pictures of memory (229-30). The Rose-Cross Meditation (230-33). Feelings evoked by meditation (232). Exercises in the book Knowledge of Higher Worlds: meditations on growing and decaying plant, plant-seeds, crystal forms, etc. (233).

Meditative words and verses (233).

Meditation on feelings — joy, loving-kindness (234-5). Progression from individual instance to pure idea (234). Patience and perseverance (235).

‘Objective cognition’, the normal consciousness of our time.

Rise to ‘Imaginative cognition’. Spiritual Imaginations (235-6). Waking and sleeping and the higher awakening (236-7). Detachment of consciousness from physical brain and sense-organs (237). Birth of a new and independent Self (237). Imagination, to begin with, the reflection of one's own self (238). Need to be able to expunge the Imaginative pictures, except for those relating to the inmost Self — the being that goes through repeated Earth-lives (238). Spiritual experiences during sleep or in looking back on the periods of sleep. ‘Continuity of consciousness’ (240).

Awakening of the higher Ego — the ordinary Ego persisting

alongside (241).

Enhancement and overcoming of self-love (242). Power to discriminate real experiences from hallucinations (242-50). Ethical qualities which need to have been developed (244-50). Clear thinking most essential (243-50).

The six accessory exercises (245-51).

1. Control of thought; 2. Control of will; 3. Equanimity;

4. Positiveness; 5. Open-minded readiness for ever new experiences ; 6. Harmony and synthesis of the preceding five.

Creating of inner silence (251).

Looking back on the events of the day (252). Reversal of time-order, also with plays, narratives, melodies, etc. (251-2). Need for the right inner starting-point (252-3).


Sense-free thinking as an aid to meditation (253).

Meditation on the facts of higher worlds revealed by spiritual science (107-8, 253-4). Living organism of thought: ‘It thinks in me’ (253-5). Rudolf Steiner's philosophical works. Philosophical thinking as an intermediate stage (256).

Organs of higher perception in the astral body. The ‘lotus-flowers’ (256-8).

‘Probation’, or purification, followed by ‘Illumination’ (258). Delicate nature of spiritual experiences (259). Patience and resignation (259). The spiritual path pursued for its own sake, without impatience for results (259).

The 2-, 16-, and 12-petalled lotus-flowers (260).

Imaginative experiences comparable to sense-impressions:

warmth and cold, colour, sound, etc. (261). Metamorphosis takes the place of birth and death, dying and becoming (261-3).

‘Inspirational cognition’. Orientation in the Imaginative world


Perception of the inner nature of Beings and of their mutual relations (263). ‘Reading of the occult script’ (263). Knowledge of cosmic epochs — Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth — indispensable (264-6). Example: the plant before and after fertilization (265). Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition and the three stages of life between death and new birth (267).

‘Intuition’ — perception of the Beings of higher worlds in their

inmost essence.

The Hierarchies; Lucifer and Ahriman (267).


Exercises for Inspiration and Intuition, illustrated by reference to the Rose-Cross and other meditations. Progressive detachment from relics of sensory experience (268-9).

Impersonal contemplation of one's experiences in life (270). Reverence and devotion (272). The need for inner poise and balance (271-5). Attentiveness to deeper guidance; the being that is wiser than one's ordinary self (273-4). Avoidance of mystical vagueness and superstition (274). Mood of patient waiting (274). In the exercises for Intuition the last remnants of outer physical experience are left behind. How the spiritual world is revealed in Intuition (275).


Organs of cognition in the etheric or life-body, developed through the exercises for Inspiration and Intuition (276).

Relation to the ‘lotus-flowers’ of the astral body. Etheric centres in regions of head, larynx and heart (276-7). In Inspirational cognition, the concepts and ideas are given in and with the percepts (277).


Exercises for Intuition affect the physical body too (275-8) Influence on breathing (278).


Separation of Thinking, Feeling and Willing (278-80).

Dangers which this involves (279-80).
Consequent sevenfold development (279-80).
Imaginative pictures permeated by one's own subjective being. Deeper self-knowledge needed for discrimination (280-1).

The Ego and its yet unfulfilled Karma. The ‘Double’ — a necessary first experience on entering the spiritual world (281-82).

Hidden feeling of shame, veiling the spiritual world from ordinary consciousness (283-4).
Study of cosmic and human evolution prepares man for the meeting with the Double. The Double as Guardian of the Threshold (285).
The Guardian at the moment of death (286).

Illusions inevitable if the Guardian is not properly encountered (286-8).

Two main sources of illusion:
(1) Man's own soul-condition colours all that he sees in the spiritual world. This source is overcome by the self-knowledge which the meeting with the Guardian involves (286-7).
(2) Mistaken interpretation of what is seen. In the spiritual world the mistaken judgment becomes part and parcel of the perception (287-8).
Criteria of spiritual reality. Spiritual training and study enhance the powers of thought and judgment (288).
Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition in this regard; pure spiritual reality in Intuition (289-90).

The Double as ‘Guardian of the Threshold’ and the new-born Self (291).

Temptation to abandon the burden of the ordinary self. Premature illusion of having reached the goal (291-2).
Successive influences of Lucifer and Ahriman in human evolution. Lucifer and the ordinary self (292).
Ahriman prevents man's recognition of the spiritual Beings underlying the outer world (292).
The meeting with the ‘Greater Guardian of the Threshold’ (292).

Untold fear the alternative, if unprepared for this experience. The Lesser and the Greater Guardian and the two sources of illusion above-mentioned (293).
Many individual forms of the experience with the Guardian of the Threshold (293).

Relation between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm (294-5).
Seven stages of the Way of Initiation described in this book:

1. Study of Spiritual Science;
2. Imagination;
3. Inspiration;
4. Intuition;
5. Knowledge of the relation of Microcosm and Macrocosm;
6. Becoming one with the Macrocosm;
7. The synthesis of all these becomes the prevailing mood of soul (295-6).

Through Intuition man learns to know his higher Ego as a spiritual being in the spiritual world (296).

The Greater Guardian and the Christ (296).
With the Intuitive perception of Christ in the spiritual world man learns to understand the history of the Earth and the entry of Christ as the Sun-Being into earthly evolution (296).

The Way of Initiation, always adapted to the evolutionary epoch.

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Changes since the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. The Way as here described is suited to the conditions of modern time. (296-7; see also page 225).

Chapter VI. Present and Future Evolution of the World and of Mankind

Spiritual perception of cosmic past and future (298-9).

Old Moon and future Jupiter (298-9). Old Sun and future Venus; Old Saturn and future Vulcan (300). Inadequacy of intellectual constructions (300).

The seven post-Atlantean epochs of civilization (301-7).

Changes in human consciousness during the fourth epoch, and the Christ-event (302-5). Beginning of the new Initiation (304). Some Initiates still enjoyed the old clairvoyance and helped in the transition (303). Powers of supersensible cognition necessarily in abeyance during the early stages of Christianity (304). The interval in the 13th century (304).

The new Initiation and the ‘Wisdom of the Grail’ (305).

Harmonizing of human powers of thought and feeling with supersensible Wisdom (305). Reflection of the third civilization-epoch in the fifth, the second in the sixth, the first in the seventh (307).

Catastrophe after the seventh epoch, followed by a new period

of seven epochs (307).

Decisive character of the fifth and sixth post-Atlantean epochs (308). Future reunion of Moon and Earth (309). Differentiation into the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ humanity (308-9). Reunion of Earth with Sun and the other planets (308).

Transition from Earth to Jupiter and from Jupiter to Venus


Kingdoms of nature and human kingdoms on Jupiter and Venus (309-10). The irreclaimable Moon (309).

The ‘Cosmos of Wisdom’ and the ‘Cosmos of Love’ (311-12). Absence of rigid predestination. The cosmic plan compatible with individual human choice and freedom (310, 312-13).

Chapter VII. Details from the Domain of Spiritual Science

The Ether-Body (314-16).

Supersensible impressions comparable to warmth, colour, sound, etc., and how this is to be understood. ‘Colour’ of the etheric body as perceived by the seer.

The Astral World (316-17).

Man's Life after Death (317-19).

Relative length of the several stages of life between death and new birth. Interval between incarnations in relation to the Platonic year.

The Stages of Man's Life (319-20).

The three stages of childhood and adolescence. Successive ‘birth’ of the physical, etheric and astral bodies. Period of decline in old age. Length of the ‘time of purification’ after death.

Higher Regions of the Spiritual World (320-1).

The Members of Man's Being (321-2).

The Sentient, Intellectual and Spiritual Souls and the working of the I in the astral, etheric and physical bodies.

The State of Consciousness in Dreaming (322-3).

Relation to Old Moon evolution. Visions, premonitions and second sight.

The Way to Supersensible Cognition (323). The ‘direct path’ and the ‘path of feeling’.

The Observation of particular Events and Beings (323-5).

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