WHAT IS REVEALED WHEN ONE LOOKS BACK
INTO FORMER LIVES BETWEEN DEATH
AND A NEW BIRTH
In a second period man passes from the realm of the Archai to that of
the Archangeloi. With these, however, he is no longer united in so
bodily-spiritual a way as he was with the Archai. His union with the
Hierarchy of the Archangeloi is more purely spiritual. But it is still
so intimate that he cannot yet be said to have been severed in this
period from the Divine-Spiritual world.
The Archangeloi Hierarchy gives to man for his etheric body that which
corresponds in it to the form in the physical, which he owes to the
Archai. The physical body, through its form, is adapted to the Earth
in such a way as to become on Earth the vehicle of self-consciousness.
In like manner the etheric body is adapted to the extra-earthly cosmic
forces and relationships of forces. In the physical body lives the
Earth; in the etheric the world of the stars. All the inner forces
which man bears within him in such a way that while he is on Earth he
does at the same time, in his posture, movement and gesture,
emancipate himself from the Earth, he owes to the creation of the
Archangeloi in his etheric body. As the Earth forces are able to live
in the physical body through its formation, so in the etheric body
there live the forces which stream down on all sides from the
encircling Cosmos to the Earth. The Earth-forces living in the
physically visible formation of the body are those which make the form
of man relatively complete, hard and fast within itself. Subject to a
certain metamorphosis, the main outlines of man remain hard and fast
throughout his earthly life. His faculties of movement, too, have
hardened into permanent habits and the like. In the etheric body on
the other hand, there is perpetual mobility, mirroring the
constellations of the stars as they change during the earthly life of
man. The etheric body shapes itself even in accordance with the
changes in the heavens as between day and night; and it does so also
with the changes that take place between the birth and death of the
This adaptation of the etheric body to the heavenly forces is not in
contradiction to the gradual severance of the starry heavens from the
Divine-Spiritual Powers, mentioned in earlier studies. It is true to
say that in very ancient times Divine Will and Divine Intelligence
were living in the stars, and that in later times the stars passed
over into the calculable. Through what has now become
their finished work, the Gods are no longer working upon man.
Nevertheless, through his etheric body man gradually achieves a
relationship of his own to the stars, just as he does through his
physical body to earthly gravity.
What man incorporates into his nature when at birth he descends from
the Spirit-world on the Earth namely the etheric body which
absorbs the extra-earthly, cosmic forces is created in this
second period by the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi.
One of the essential features which man receives through this
Hierarchy is his membership of a group of human beings on the Earth.
Humanity is differentiated over the face of the Earth. Looking back
into this second period, it is not, however, the present
differentiation of races and nations that we find, but a somewhat
different a more spiritual one. It is due to the fact that the
starry forces strike the different places of the Earth in varying
constellations. For on the Earth itself in the distribution of
land and water, in climate, vegetation and the like the starry
heavens are indeed active. Inasmuch as man must adapt himself to
these conditions, which are really there as heavenly conditions
on the Earth, such adaptation belongs to his etheric body; and the
forming of the latter is a creative work of the choir of Archangeloi.
But now it is just in this second period that the Luciferic and
Ahrimanic Powers enter the life of man in a peculiar degree. Their
entry is necessary, albeit to begin with it may seem to be driving man
beneath the level of his true nature.
If man is to develop self-consciousness in his earthly life, he must
get loose from the Divine-Spiritual world from which he originally
proceeded, in greater measure than that world itself can bring about.
This is what takes place in the time when the Archangeloi are at work
upon him. For his union with the Spirit-world is no longer as firm as
it was when the Archai were at work upon him. Lucifer and Ahriman are
more able to grapple with the spiritual forces proceeding from the
Archangeloi, than with the stronger forces of the Archai.
The Luciferic Powers permeate the etheric formation of man with a more
intense inclination towards the starry world than it would have if the
Divine-Spiritual Powers, originally united with man were alone at
work. The Ahrimanic Powers entwine his physical formation more tightly
in the realm of earthly gravity than would have been the case if they
were unable to exert their influence.
By this means the seed of full self-consciousness and of free will is
planted into man. Much as the Ahrimanic Powers hate free will, in
man by tearing him loose from his Divine Spiritual
world they bring about the germinal beginnings of free will.
To begin with, however, during the second period itself, that which
the various Hierarchies from the Seraphim down to the Archangeloi have
brought about in man, is impressed into his physical and etheric
bodies more deeply than would have been possible without the Luciferic
and Ahrimanic influence. For without this influence, the working of
the Hierarchies would remain more in the astral body and the Ego.
Thus it happened that the more spiritual grouping of mankind over the
face of the Earth, which the Archangeloi were striving for, did not
Being pressed down into the physical and etheric body, the spiritual
forces are transformed into their opposite. In place of something more
spiritual, the differentiation of races and nations comes about.
Without the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence, human beings on Earth
would see themselves differentiated by forces working downwards from
the heavens. The different groups would be to one another in their
life like beings who willingly with love, give to one another of the
spiritual and receive in turn. In races and nations it is earthly
gravity which appears through the human body; in the spiritual
groupings a mirrored image of the Divine-Spiritual world would have
With all this, the beginnings of what afterwards became the full
self-consciousness of man had to be implanted in his evolution already
at that time. And this meant that in a mitigated form, it is
true, but yet in a certain way the primeval differentiation of
humanity which existed when man passed over from the Hierarchy of the
Exusiai to that of the Archai remained preserved.
Man as it were in a cosmic school experienced this stage
in his evolution, contemplating it with inner feeling. True, he did
not yet develop a knowledge of the fact that this was an essential
preparation for his subsequent self-consciousness. But his feeling
vision of the forces of his evolution at that time was none the less
important for the incorporation of self-consciousness into his astral
body and his Ego.
With respect to Thought, the following took place. By the Luciferic
Powers man was informed with the tendency still to immerse himself in
the old forms of the Spiritual, instead of adapting himself to the
new. Lucifer indeed always has this striving to conserve for man the
earlier forms of his life.
By this means human Thinking was evolved. In the life between death
and a new birth man gradually developed that faculty which in primeval
times had formed the thoughts in him. It was a faculty which at
that time could behold the Spiritual, though it was like what is
now mere sense perception. For at that time the Physical still carried
the Spiritual upon its surface. Today, however, the faculty of thought
preserved from that time can only work as restricted sense-perception.
Man's power to lift himself in thought to the spiritual world
gradually declined. This became fully evident at length when in the
age of the Spiritual Soul the spiritual world was veiled for man in
complete darkness. Thus in the nineteenth century it came about that
the best men of science, unable to become materialists, declared: We
have no alternative but to limit our research to that world which can
be investigated by measure, number and weight and by the senses. We
have, however, no right to deny a spiritual world, hidden beneath this
world of Nature. In such words they indicated that there might be a
world full of light, unknown to man, where man can only stare
into an empty darkness.
And as Thought in man was misdirected by Lucifer, so was Will by
Ahriman. Man's will was endowed with a tendency to a kind of freedom
which he should have entered only at a later stage. This freedom is
not real; it is but the illusion of freedom. Men lived in this
illusion of freedom for a long time, and thereby became unable to
evolve the idea of freedom in a truly spiritual way. They vacillated
to and fro, between the one opinion and the other: that man is free,
or that he is involved in a sphere of rigid necessity. And when with
the spiritual Age of Consciousness true freedom came, they were unable
to recognise it, because their powers of perception had too long
become entangled in the illusion of freedom.
All that had sunk into the being of man during this second stage in
the evolution of his lives between death and a new birth, he carried
as a cosmic memory into the third, in which he still lives today. In
this third stage he is related to the Hierarchy of the Angeloi as in
the second to that of the Archangeloi. Only, this relationship to the
Angeloi is such that through it the full independent individuality
comes into being. For the Angeloi not the chorus this time, but
one Angelos for one human being restrict themselves to the task
of bringing about the right relation of the life between death and a
new birth and the life on Earth.
A fact that may seem remarkable to begin with is this. For the
individual human being in the second stage in the evolution of
his lives between death and a new birth the whole Hierarchy of
Archangeloi was working. Afterwards the guidance of nations and tribes
becomes the task of this Hierarchy, and there is then one Archangelos
as the Folk-Spirit for one nation. In the races the Primal Forces or
Archai remain at work. Here again, for one race, one Being of the
Hierarchy of the Primal Forces works as the Race-Spirit.
Thus the man of present time contains, in the life between death and a
new birth also, the cosmic memory of earlier stages of his life. And
in the physical world too, where something of spiritual guidance
appears as it does in the races and nations, this cosmic memory is
most distinctly present.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society (with respect to the foregoing study [Part two]: What is revealed when one looks back into former Lives between Death and a new Birth?)
150. In a second period of evolution of the lives between death and a
new birth, man entered the domain of the Archangeloi. The seed of his
later conscious Selfhood prepared for, in the first period, in
the forming of the human figure was now implanted in the nature
of his soul.
151. During this second period he was driven by Luciferic and
Ahrimanic influences more deeply into the physical than would have
happened without their intervention.
152. In the third period, man enters the domain of the Angeloi, who
only wield their influence, however, in the astral body and the Ego.
This third period is the present; but what took place in the two
former ones still lives on in human evolution and explains the fact
that in the nineteenth century within the age of the Spiritual
Soul man stared into the spiritual world as into vacant