SECOND STUDY (CONTINUED). HINDRANCES AND
HELPS TO THE MICHAEL FORCES IN THE DAWN
OF THE AGE OF THE SPIRITUAL SOUL
Throughout Europe, the incorporation of the Spiritual Soul brought
about a disturbance in the experiences of religious faith and ritual.
A clear sign of the coming disturbance may be seen about the turn of
the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the arising of the Proofs
of God (especially in the work of Anselm of Canterbury). The
existence of God now had to be proved by intellectual reasoning. The
desire to do such a thing could only arise when the old way of
experiencing God with the forces of the inner soul was
vanishing. For we never set out to prove by logic what we experience
in such a way.
The old way was to perceive with one's inner soul the Beings or
Intelligences, up to the Godhead. The new way, arising at this time,
was to evolve intellectual thoughts about the Prime Foundations of the
Universe. The former way was supported by the forces of Michael in the
spiritual realm of Earth. Behind the thought-forces directed to the
things of outer sense, the forces of Michael equipped the soul with
faculties to perceive divine Being and Intelligence in the Universe.
On the other hand, for the second way to find its fulfilment, the
inner union of the soul with the forces of Michael must first be
developed and accomplished.
In the sphere of religious ritual, even the central doctrine of the
Holy Communion began to totter. We find this happening in far-spread
regions of the religious experience of man, from Wycliffe in England
(fifteenth century) to Huss in Bohemia.
In Holy Communion man was able to find his union with the spiritual
world which was opened up to him through Christ. For he was able to
unite his being with Christ in such a way that the fact of the outer
sense-union was at the same time a spiritual fact.
The consciousness of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul was able to form an
idea of this union. For the Mind-Soul still possessed ideas, both of
Spirit and of Matter, near to one another so that it was
possible for it to conceive the one (Matter) passing over into the
other (Spirit). Ideas of this kind, however, cannot possibly be so
intellectualistic as to require at the same time proofs of God's
existence. Such ideas must still contain something of the living
Imagination which enables man to feel, in Matter, the Spirit that is
active in it; and in the Spirit, the striving towards Matter. Ideas of
this kind have the cosmic forces of Michael behind them.
Think only how much was beginning to totter for the human soul at that
time: how much of what was connected with the innermost and holiest
experience of men! Personalities arose Huss, Wycliffe and
others in whom the existence of the Spiritual Soul shone out
most radiantly. Their inner state of soul was such as to unite them
with the Michael forces with an intensity that would not come for
others till centuries afterwards. From the voice of Michael in their
hearts, they proclaimed the worthiness of the Spiritual Soul to rise
to the conception of the deepest religious mysteries. They felt that
the Intellectuality which was coming with the Spiritual Soul must be
able to include in the realm of its ideas that which had been
attainable, in older times, by Imagination.
On the other hand, the historical and traditional attitude of the
human soul to these things had in very wide circles lost all its inner
force and strength. What history refers to as the evils and abuses of
religious life which were dealt with by the great Councils of Reform
in the age when the Spiritual Soul was beginning its activity
all this is connected with the life of those human souls who, not yet
feeling the Spiritual Soul within them, were on the other hand no
longer able to find in the old Intellectual or Mind-Soul a sufficient
source of inner strength or certainty.
Historical experiences of men, such as were laid bare at the Councils
of Constance and Basle, may be said to reveal: in the spiritual
world above the down-pouring of the Intellectuality seeking to find
its way to men, and in the earthly realm below, the working of the
Intellectual or Mind-Soul, no longer in accordance with the time. The
Michael forces are hovering between, looking back to their own past
union with the Divine-Spiritual, and down upon the human realm. The
human realm likewise enjoyed the same union in the past, but it must
now pass into a sphere in which Michael will help it from the Spirit,
though he may not unite his own inner being with this realm.
Absolutely necessary as it is in cosmic evolution yet
signifying, to begin with, a disturbance in the balance of the Cosmos
this striving of Michael underlies that which mankind had to
experience in that age even with respect to the most sacred truths.
We gaze deeply into the characteristic features of that age when we
turn our thoughts to Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa. (One may read what I
have said about him in the book
Mysticism at the Dawn of Modern Spiritual Life ... *Mysticism and Modern Thought.)
His personality is like an outstanding monument of time. He wants the
affairs of the world directed by points of view, which instead
of fighting the abuses and evils of the physical world by
revolutionary tendencies meet them with healthy common-sense,
seeking to restore to the proper channel those things which have
become diverted from it. We recognise this tendency in the influence
he brought to bear at the Council of Basle, and generally within his
Thus Nicholas of Cusa is fully inclined towards the great change in
evolution which comes with the unfolding of the Spiritual Soul. On the
other hand he brings forth thoughts and ideas which reveal in a most
radiant way the working of Michael's forces within them. Into the
midst of his age he places the good old ideas which, in the epoch when
Michael still ruled the Cosmic Intellectuality, led the human soul to
the unfolding of faculties to perceive the Beings and Intelligences in
the Cosmos. The Learned Ignorance of which he speaks is a
perception over and above that which is directed to the outer world of
sense a perception which leads man's thinking beyond the
intellectuality of ordinary knowledge into a region where, in
ignorance or emptiness of knowledge, the Spiritual is taken hold of by
a pure, inner experience of seership.
Thus Nicholas of Cusa is a personality who, feeling in his own
soul-life the disturbance of the cosmic balance by Michael, would like
intuitively to contribute as much as possible towards the turning of
this disturbance to the welfare of humanity.
Between the things of the spiritual life that came to light in this
way there lived something else which remained hidden. Certain
individuals who perceived and understood the position of the
Michael-forces in the Universe, wished to prepare the forces of their
own souls in such a way that they might consciously enter the
spirit-realm bordering upon the earthly sphere the realm in
which Michael makes his efforts on behalf of humanity.
They sought justification for this spiritual enterprise by conducting
themselves outwardly in life, in their calling and in other
circumstances, in such a way that their life could not be
distinguished from that of other men. By lovingly performing their
earthly duties in the ordinary sense they were able to turn their
inner manhood freely towards the Spiritual which we have described.
What they did in this direction was something between themselves and
that with which they united themselves in secret. As
regards what took place in the physical realm, the world was at first
apparently quite unaffected by this spiritual striving. And yet all
this was needed in order to bring souls into the necessary union with
the Michael-world. It was not a question of Secret
Societies in any bad sense, nor of anything that tried to hide
because it feared the light of day, but rather of persons coming
together, and in so doing convincing themselves that each one in their
circle possessed the true consciousness of the Michael Mission. Those
who thus worked together did not speak of their work before others who
through lack of understanding could only have disturbed the aims they
had set themselves. These aims consisted primarily in working in
spiritual streams which flow, not within earthly life, but in the
spirit-world next to it, but which nevertheless cast their impulses
into earthly life.
This gives an indication of the spirit-work of human beings who indeed
live in the physical world but co-operate with Beings who belong to
the spirit-world Beings who do not themselves enter the
physical world or incarnate in it. We are here speaking of those who,
with very little reference to the real facts, are named in the world
as the Rosicrucians. True Rosicrucianism lies absolutely
in the line of activity of the Michael Mission. It helped Michael to
prepare on Earth the spirit-work which he wished to prepare for a
We shall be able to estimate what could be achieved thereby if
we consider the following.
The above-described difficulties, nay, impossibilities, for Michael to
work into human souls, are connected with the fact that Michael
himself, in his essential being, does not wish to come in contact in
any way with the physical present of earthly life. He wishes to remain
in the nexus of forces which existed for Spirits of his kind, and for
human beings, in the past. Any contact with that with which, in
present earthly life, man is obliged to come in contact
this Michael could only consider as a pollution of his being.
Now in ordinary human life the spiritual experience of the soul works
into the physical earthly life, and conversely the latter reacts upon
the former. It is a reaction which expresses itself especially in
man's frame of mind and in the direction of his soul towards some
earthly thing. An interaction of this kind is as a rule the case
though not invariably especially in persons engaged in
public life. Hence the hindrances to Michael's work in many of the
Reformers were very great.
The Rosicrucians overcame the difficulty in this direction by keeping
their external life which consisted in their earthly duties
quite apart from their work with Michael. When Michael,
together with his impulses, came in contact with what a Rosicrucian
prepared in his soul for him, he found himself in no way exposed to
the danger of meeting what was earthly. For, through the state of soul
which he purposely cultivated, anything earthly was kept away from
that which united the Rosicrucian with Michael.
In this way the true Rosicrucian striving formed for Michael
the path here on the Earth towards his coming earthly Mission.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (in connection with the above Study of the Hindrances and Helps to the Michael Forces in the Dawn of the Age of the Spiritual Soul)
131. In the beginning of the Age of the Spiritual Soul, the
Intellectuality now emancipated in man wanted to occupy itself with
the truths of religious faith and ritual. The life of the human soul
was thereby brought into uncertainty and doubt. Men tried to prove by
logic spiritual realities that were formerly a direct experience
within the soul. They tried to understand, nay even to determine by
logical deduction, the contents of sacred ritual which can only be
taken hold of in spiritual Imaginations.
132. All this is connected with the fact that while Michael is
determined to avoid any kind of contact with the present earthly
world, which man must enter; yet at the same time it is still
his task to guide in man the cosmic Intellectuality which he
administered in ages past. Thus there arises through the
Michael-forces a disturbance in the cosmic balance albeit, a
disturbance necessary for the further progress of world-evolution.
133. Michael's mission was made easier for him by certain
personalities the genuine Rosicrucians who arranged
their outward life on Earth so that it in no way interfered ,with
their inner life of soul. They could thus develop forces within them,
whereby they worked together in spiritual realms with Michael, without
the danger of entangling him in present earthly happenings, which
would have been impossible for him.