MYSTERIES OF THE DRUIDS AND THE ‘DROTTES’
short notes by Marie Steiner-von Sivers)
Berlin, 30th September 1904
Notes for this Lecture]
All of our
medieval stories — Parsifal, the Round Table, Hartmann von Aue —
reveal mystical truths in esoteric form, even though they are usually
only understood in their outward aspect. Where do we search for their
origin? We must look to a time before the spread of Christianity.
Into Christianity was blended what had lived in Ireland, Scotland ...
[Gap in the notes.]
We are led to a particular centre whence this
spiritual life was disseminated. The spiritual life [of Europe]
emanated from a mother lodge in Scandinavia, ‘Drottes’
Lodge. Druids = Oak. For this reason the Germanic peoples were said
to receive their instructions beneath oak trees.
‘Drottes’, or Druids, were ancient Germanic initiates. They
still existed in England till Elizabethan times. All that we read in
the Edda or can find in the ancient German sagas refers back to the
temples of the ‘Drottes’ or Druids. The author of these
tales was always an initiate. The sagas not only have a symbolical or
allegorical meaning, but something else as well.
We know the saga of Baldur. We know that he is the hope of the gods,
that he is killed by the god Loki with a branch of mistletoe. The God
of Light is killed. This whole story has a deep mystery content which
all who underwent initiation not only had to learn, but had to
Mysteries. Initiation: the first deed was called the search for the
body of Baldur. It was supposed that Baldur was always alive. The
search consisted of a complete enlightenment about the nature of man.
For Baldur was the human being who has gone astray. Once upon a time
the human being was not as he is today, he was undifferentiated, not
bowed down by passionate experiences, but composed of finer ephemeral
substance. Baldur, the radiant human being. When truly understood,
all things which appear to us in the form of symbols must be
understood in a higher sense. This human being who has not descended
into what today we call matter, is Baldur. He lives in each one of
us. The Druid priest had to search for the higher self within him. He
had to become clear about where this differentiation took place,
between the higher and the lower ... [Gap]
secret of all initiation is to give birth to the higher human being
within oneself. What the priest accomplishes more quickly, the rest
of mankind must undergo in long stages of development. To become
leaders of the rest of mankind, the Druids had to receive this
had descended deeper now had to overcome matter and regain his former
higher level. This birth of the higher human being takes place in all
the Mysteries in a similar sort of way. The man who had become
submerged in matter had to be reawakened. One had to make a series of
experiences — real experiences — which were unlike any sense
experiences one can have on the physical plane.
stages. The first step was that one was led before the ‘Throne
of Necessity’. One stood in front of the abyss: really
experienced through one's own body what lived in the lower kingdoms
of nature. Man is both mineral and plant, but the man of today is
unable to experience what is undergone by the elementary substances
and yet the enduring, the constraining things in the world are due to
the fact that we are also mineral and plant in our nature.
step led the human being to all that lived in the animal kingdom.
Everything which existed in the form of passions and desires was
beheld in swirling and interweaving movement- All this had to be
observed by the candidate for initiation so that his eyes would be
opened to what lay behind the veil of the senses. Man is not aware
that what swirls around in astral space is hidden behind the physical
sheath. The veil of maya is really a sheath which must be penetrated
by him who is to be initiated — the sheaths drop away, the human
being sees clearly. That is a very special moment: the priest becomes
aware that the sheaths had dammed back the impulses which would have
been frightful if they had been let loose.
step led to a vision of the elemental nature forces. That is a step
which man finds difficult to comprehend without previous preparation.
That powerful occult forces are residing in these nature forces and
through them express elemental passions, is something which makes man
aware that there are powers quite outside the scope of anything he
can experience as his own suffering.
trial is called the ‘Handing over of the Serpent’ by the
hierophant. One can only explain it by means of the effects which it
brings about. It is elucidated in the Tantalus saga. The privilege of
being allowed to sit in the Council of the Gods can be abused. It
signifies a reality which certainly raises man above himself, but
dangers accompany it which are not exaggerated in the story of the
Tantalus curse. As a rule man says he is powerless in face of the
laws of nature. These are thoughts. With that kind of thinking, which
is only a shadowy brain-thinking, nothing can be achieved. In
creative thinking, which builds and constructs things of the world,
which is productive and fruitful, the passive kind of thinking is
replaced by a thinking permeated by spiritual force. The blown skin
of a caterpillar is the empty sheath of the caterpillar; when filled
with [productive] thinking it is the living caterpillar. Into the
sheath-thoughts, living active power is poured so that the priest is
enabled, not only to see the world in vision, but to work in it
through magic. The danger is that this power can be abused. He
can ... [Gap]
stage the occultist acquires a certain power, whereby he is enabled
to deceive even the higher beings. He must not only repeat truths but
experience them and decide whether a thing is true or false. That is
what is called ‘The Handing over of the Serpent by the
[it denotes the same thing on a spiritual level
that the rudimentary stages in the formation of the spinal cord
signify on the physical level. In the animal kingdom we pass through
the fishes, amphibians and so on till we reach the brain of the
vertebrates and man. See notes.]
We have a spiritual backbone, too,
which determines whether we are to develop a spiritual brain. Man
goes through this process at this stage of his development. He is
lifted out of Kama (feelings, passions, desires) and endowed with a
spiritual backbone so that he can be raised up into the spiraling of
the spiritual brain. On a spiritual level, the windings of the
labyrinth are the same as the convolutions of the brain on the
physical level. Man gains access to the labyrinth, to the windings
within the spiritual realm.
had to take the oath of silence. A naked sword was presented to him
and he was obliged to swear the most binding oath. This was that he
would henceforth keep silence about his experiences where it
concerned people who had not been initiated as he had. It is quite
impossible to reveal the true content of these secrets without
preparation. He, [the initiate] however, could create these sagas so
that they became the expression of the eternal. One who could give
utterance to things in this way of course had great power over his
fellow men. The creator of a saga of this kind imprinted something
into the human spirit. What is thus spoken is then forgotten and only
the merest vestige of it survives death. Eternal truths remain
longest after death. Of less elevated scientific thought hardly
anything remains. The eternal does so and appears again in a new
priest spoke out of the higher plane. His words, though simple, being
the expression of higher truths, sank into the souls of his hearers.
He spoke to simple folk but the truth sank into their souls and
something was incorporated into them which would be reborn in a new
incarnation. At that time men experienced the truth through fairy
stories; thus today our spirit bodies have been prepared and if we
are able to grasp higher truths today it is because we have been
time, which came to an end in 60
had prepared the spiritual life
of Europe, had provided the soil on which Christianity could build.
These teachings have been preserved and whoever searches will be able
to find access to what was taught in these Lodges.
[the Druid] had given his oath on the sword he had to drink a certain
draught — and this he did from a human skull. The meaning of this was
that he had transcended what was human. That was the feeling which
the Druid priest had to develop concerning his lower bodily nature.
He had to look upon all that lived within his body with the same
objective, cool attitude as he felt towards a containing vessel. Then
he was initiated into the higher secrets and shown the path to higher
worlds. Baldur ...
He was led into an immense palace which was
roofed by flashing shields. He encountered a man who cast forth seven
flowers. Cosmic Space, Cherubim, Demi-urge [Maker of the World]. Thus
he became truly a Priest of the Sun.
people read the Edda and are unaware that it is an account of what
really took place in the ancient ‘Drottes’ mysteries. An
immense power lay at the disposal of the ancient
‘Drottes’ priests, a power over life and death. It is
true that everything becomes corrupt in time. It was once the
highest, the holiest of things. At the time when Christianity was
spreading, much had degenerated and there were many black magicians,
so that Christianity came as a redemption.
of these old truths alone is able to give an almost complete survey
of the whole of occultism.
our present practice, not one stone was laid upon another in the
building of a Druid temple without the use of exact astronomical
measurement. Doorways were built according to astronomical
measurement. The Druid priests were the builders of humanity. A faint
reflection of this is preserved today in the views which the
to penetrate astral substance, viewing the sun at midnight: First
over of the Serpent by the Hierophant: Second Initiation.
journey into the Labyrinth: Third Initiation.