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Popular Occultism

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

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Popular Occultism

Schmidt Number: S-1356

On-line since: 30th April, 2020

Popular Occultism

9th Lecture


Leipzig, 7 July, 1906

We have followed the evolution of mankind back as far as Atlantis and will now proceed to the study of Lemuria and speak of the Lemurian human forms. These human beings are the first representatives of real men with bodies permeated by souls. Let us first consider the structure of the Lemurian continent and the type of human being who lived on it.

In the Lemurian age everything was filled with the kind of watery mass, out of which emerged islands which were all of a volcanic kind. Typical for Lemuria is the manifold change in Nature, in the forms and in life. The single forms and species underwent a rapid transformation. The Atlantean soul-characteristics were in the case of the Lemurians, still more strongly marked, especially the will, which also had the greatest influence on the form of the physical body. This consisted only of gelatinous, transparent substances, into which the present bones and muscles had still to be built in. An organ which plays a very great role to-day was then in its very first beginnings. This is very significant, for with the development of the lungs is connected the fact that man was endowed with a living soul.

This installment did not happen in a moment, but lasted throughout long epochs of time. — How was the human soul connected with the body, before giving life to this body which, according to present-day concepts was very misshapen? It was the same connection which now exists during sleep: the soul was outside the body, it soared above it and drew it with it to an earth which was at that time still permeated by powerful streams of life.

The Lemurian constantly lived in a sleep-like condition which may be compared with our dream-consciousness in which a living image-world appears. He could only perceive in this manner and he knew the meaning of the single images, thus recognizing the soul-aspect of things.

An important moment in evolution was when he first used his body for the purpose of perception. The human being moved about in swinging, soaring movements. For this purpose he had a special organ in his bodily cavity, a kind of swimming bladder. The lungs developed out of this bladder, under the influence of the soul that soared above the body. The soul entered the human body in the same measure in which man began to breathe through his lungs. He actually breathed in his soul, with the air he breathed. This process too is described with literal accuracy in Genesis, in the Six Days' Creation, with the words: And God breathed his breath into man and he became a living soul ...

At that time man had the outward appearance of a very soft-bodied dragon (the designation of snake does not quite correspond to the reality); his companions were toads, fish, frogs, etc., in short, a primeval world of reptiles and amphibians, though their present-day descendants can in no way be compared with them; for they are quite degenerate descendants. At that time there were no mammals. To-day no remains can be found either of these reptiles or of the human beings of that age.

How should the relation between animal and man be tought of? The theory of man's ascent from apes may be considered as obsolete, for it is based upon a false train of thought. Think of a morally degenerate and of a highly ethical man. The assertion that man is descended from apes is like saying that the perfect man descends from the imperfect one. They need not descend from one another at all, but they may have a common father and be brothers! The one developed upwards, the other became decadent. Also the relation between ape and man may be viewed in this light. On Atlantis, the human form was still ape-like. During the Lemurian age the sole possession of a body which was even less perfect. This body then took an upward course of development. But the ape-like forms have partly degenerated and have become the apes of to-day. The apes are therefore the degenerated bodily brothers of man.

In the Atlantean age the human race branched out; the one main stem to an ascending development and became the human being of to-day, whereas the other descended and became the ape of to-day. All animals which live among us are consequently human beings who were expelled and condemned to degeneration. The ascent of certain beings is only possible through the fact that others sacrifice themselves. The higher expels the lower, in order to rise still higher; later on there will be a compensation for those who were expelled.

In this connection we must speak of a cosmic event of greatest importance, without which the soul could never have incarnated. This is the exit of the moon from the earth. The moon severed itself from the earth and formed a secondary planet. Formally, moon and earth were one planet. Thus the evolution of the Earth and the evolution of man are closely connected. What the astronomer sees of the moon, is not the whole moon, for everything in the world also has a soul. So also the moon has its soul. The moon went out of the earth with all its forces, with its whole aura, or its astral part.

This event stands in closest connection with everything which one calls fecundation and procreation. The ancient Greek Mysteries still knew this. In the Lemurian age the sexes began to separate; before that time the human beings were hermaphrodites. There was no act of fecundation and conception; procreation took place in a manner which has been preserved in certain lower living beings. The separation of the sexes coincided with the separation of the moon. This applies to all living beings. At that time, certain forces were eliminated from the earth, which had given man the possibility to bring forth descendants without the aid of another being. These forces were eliminated through the exit of the moon. At that time earth plus moon circled round the sun. But the moon maintained the old movement of the earth-moon planet, for it does not turn around its own axis as does the earth. Even as the moon of to-day always turns the same side to the earth, its “sun” and never the back side, so at that time the earth-moon planet always turned the same side to the sun.

Sun, moon and planets are also inhabited by beings. In a still earlier time, sun, moon, and earth were one body, and everything which now exists in the form of human beings, animals and plants, still lived together with sun. At that time man still had a quite etheric form of a very fine substance and he lived a kind of plant-existence. Animal forms and human forms arose much later, for at that time everything still stood at one stage of planned-existence.

These sun-plants were of course entirely different from the plants of to-day. Nevertheless when they say with their blossom they strove towards the center of the planet, i.e. the sun, and that their roots stretched upwards. When the sun severed itself from the earth, the plants turned completely around and again turned their blossom to the sun. From that time onwards the blossom stretched upwards and the root downwards. the animals only made a right-angle turn, when the moon left the earth. [See in this connection: Rudolf Steiner: “Goetheanismus, ein Menschen-Umwandlungsimpuls und Auferstehungsgedanke” 1st Lecture: Die Antwort der Geistwissenschaft auf die wichtigsten Fragen der Zeit. (Philes.Anthrop.Publish. Company, Dornach) ] Man made a complete turn, so that he is a reversed plant, even as the plant is a reversed human being.

The life-soul passes through the three kingdoms of Nature. Plato therefore says that the world-soul is nailed on to the cross of the world. Also the human soul hangs on that cross, by passing through the three realms of Nature. This is the significance of the Cross in the ancient Mysteries.

From the world-historical aspect, the whole process of development exists for the sake of man. Life can only arise out of life, but life eliminates the lifeless. Everything lifeless has arisen out of life. The minerals are deposits of living substance. But life comes from the spirit. The spirit is consequently the first original source, from which everything descends. And man is the first-born of creation. He has thrown out animals, plants and minerals; the lower always comes from higher.

To-morrow we shall speak of the development of man towards higher stages of knowledge.


Last Modified: 06-Jan-2021
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