The End of the Dark Age
By Dr. Rudolf Steiner
From a lecture given at Vienna
on the 11th of June 1922.
unfolded its intellectual life in the course of many centuries.
This intellectual life gradually led it away from spirituality.
The intellect itself is spirit, but its content is no longer a
spiritual content. Indeed, the intellect is spiritual, but it
seeks as its content external Nature, the external life of
Nature. Hence the intellect is spirit, but it fills itself with
something which cannot appear to it as spiritual. The great
tragedy, the modern tragedy of the world, is that man may look
into himself and that he must say to himself: When I am
intellectually active, I am spiritually active, but at the same
time my intellect, which is pure spirit, cannot absorb in a
direct way the spiritual. I fill the spirit in me only with
things pertaining to Nature.
what devastates and rends the human soul to-day. Even though we
do not wish to admit this torn and devastated condition, it
nevertheless exists in the spiritual regions of the human soul
and constitutes the fundamental evil and the fundamental tragedy
of our age.
wish to express in habitual terms what I have explained to you
just now, we must draw attention to all the spiritual powers that
are still active in the whole life of Nature; they enter into us
because we fill our own spirit with the life of Nature, and we
may designate these powers as the Ahrimanic powers.
intellect is thus exposed to the great danger of falling a prey
to the Ahrimanic powers. During the past centuries, when the
intellect was still unfolding and still possessed the inheritance
of an old spiritual life, these Ahrimanic powers did not have
that great influence on man which they have now. The life of
Nature is apparently spread out round about us; but this is only
apparent: for Ahriman lives in Nature. And by absorbing Nature,
by believing that it is only controlled by neutral laws of
Nature, we really absorb spiritual powers, even though we are not
aware of this; we absorb Ahrimanic spiritual powers, who took
over a special task in cosmic life, in the whole evolution of the
speak of the task of these spiritual powers, some people are
easily inclined to say: But why does the divine guidance of the
world admit these powers? — To this we must reply: All
that exists in the earthly sphere may be grasped with the
ordinary understanding; but when it is a question of grasping in
a spiritual-scientific way that which transcends the earth, we
must do this through spiritual vision (Anschauung).
Consequently we must say: These powers exist, — but the
way in which they are connected with the divine-spiritual powers
pertaining to man, can only be grasped in the course of long
epochs; indeed, the powers belonging to the super-human sphere
are perhaps quite inaccessible to the human understanding. We can
therefore only say: These powers exist, they show themselves to
those who have spiritual knowledge.
of the Ahrimanic beings is the following: To prevent the earth
from continuing to develop as it should develop in accordance
with the intentions of the divine-spiritual powers with whom man
is connected from the very outset, inasmuch as he is a human
soul. (You will find all these things mentioned in my
“Occult Science”). In my “Occult Science”
I have spoken of the future development of the earth, of the
Jupiter and Venus phases of evolution: The aim of the Ahrimanic
powers is to prevent this course of development.
is to harden and freeze up the earth, to shape it in such a way
that, together with the earth, man remains an earthbound
creature. He becomes hardened, as it were, within earthly
substance and continues to live in the future ages of the world
as a kind of statue of his past. These powers thus pursue
definite aims, which undoubtedly appear as part of their own
could not reach its goal if the Ahrimanic powers were to gain the
victory, if man were alienated from his beginnings, from the
powers who supported him at the beginning of his evolution.
Outwardly, the human being would develop in a way entirely in
keeping with the earthly sphere, but by suppressing his innate
disposition, which must lead him beyond the earth.
Ahrimanic powers could not touch man while the intellect was
still rooted in the spiritual through an old inheritance, as was
the case during the past three or four centuries. But this has
changed since the beginning of the 20th century. The
ancient Indian wisdom knew this, and fixed the end of the
19th century as the end of the “Dark Age,”
of Kali-Yuga. Thus it had an intimation of a new age. This new
age was to indicate that from the beginning of the
20th century, our deepest concern should no longer be
that of clinging to an old spiritual inheritance, but of
absorbing the new light, the pure light, in our earthly