The First Goetheanum
Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith
Dornach, May 31, 1924
My Dear Friends,
We have been considering the human being's relation to the
Guardian of the Threshold and have led our souls step by step
to see what our relation is to the Guardian of the Threshold
on the path of knowledge. Today we intend to enliven the
situation of standing before the Guardian in order to advance
a step further in this esoteric
I will repeat what has been considered in the previous lessons
regarding this situation. Man leaves the physical world in
which he develops his normal consciousness. He realizes that
although this sensible-physical world can be wonderful, joyful
as well as painful and full of suffering, it can also be majestic
— and that he has every reason to consciously be a part
of it. But he also realizes that he can never know himself if
he merely directs his attention and his feelings to this
physical world. He must say to himself: As wonderful as it
is, with all its amazing variety of colors and forms, what I
myself am, what my origin and being are, cannot be found in
the scope of this environment.
Nevertheless, from all sides the words resound as the
most important task in the life of the human being: O man,
And it also becomes clear that in normal life we are
protected from entering unprepared into
the world which is the world of his real being. And the
Guardian of the Threshold is the one who protects us from
consciously perceiving his environment when we are sleeping
at night, for what we would then perceive, unprepared, would
be such a terrible shock that we would not be able to lead a
normal human waking life.
The Guardian of the Threshold also makes it clear to us that he
— the Guardian of the Threshold — is the true,
the real gateway to the spiritual world.
Thus the person realizes that before he enters the kingdom of
knowledge, he comes to an abyss, which at first seems bottomless.
The support of the physical world ends here. He cannot
cross it. One can only cross this abyss by freeing oneself
from the physical, when one — symbolically speaking —
“grows wings”, in order to cross the abyss as a
But the Guardian of the Threshold calls forth to him how to
beware of the abyss, especially to be aware of the beasts
which rise up as spiritual figures from this abyss, that one
should realize that these beasts are the outer reflections of
impure willing, feeling and thinking — that they first
must be overcome. And in a graphic image one sees how his
willing, feeling and thinking appear in three animals —
one ghastly, one horrid to look at, and so forth.
Then the Guardian of the Threshold shows us how thinking, feeling
and willing can strengthen themselves after having consciously
determined to overcome the beasts. To enter the spiritual world,
to visualize the spiritual world, we need to develop
situation-meditations, in order to feel how the cosmos speaks
to us, how the hierarchies speak to us, how at first everything
foretells what awaits us there in the spiritual world.
And from what has entered our souls through the mantras, we will
realize ever more that the human being must become different
when he crosses the abyss, when he wishes to live into what
is beyond the abyss. We will realize ever more: Here on earth
we associate with the beings of the three nature kingdoms and
with men; beyond we associate with disembodied souls and with
the spirits of the higher hierarchies. It is a different kind
of relating, which requires a different state of mind.
Seelenverfassung = soul-constitution].
It is again the task of the Guardian of the Threshold to strongly
indicate how the human being must comport himself when faced
with the fact that when he crosses the abyss and experiences
something of the reality of the spiritual world, he must do
so with a completely different state of mind.
The person will realize that two states of mind
can be a reality within him: the one on this side
of the abyss with normal consciousness; and the one beyond
the abyss, outside the physical and etheric bodies —
the state of mind in the purely spiritual world.
When the difference between these states of mind appears, great
dangers await him, dangers which appear at first to be slight
deviations from the normal state of mind which are always
present within the psyche, but which are pathological
deformities when carried to an extreme. Of course it must be
emphasized: When the journey to the higher worlds is
undertaken as it is carefully described in my book
Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment,
in many shorter works which have appeared in anthroposophical
circles, and in the second part of my
An Outline Of Occult Science,
then aberration from the normal condition of the mind cannot
occur, not even in the slightest degree. The person will
cross into the spiritual world in the full consciousness of
normal human understanding, first in knowledge and also through
initiation. But he must know how, in two ways, he
may lose the everyday capacity for understanding, which holds
him securely to life, if he does not adhere to the right
guidelines into the spiritual world.
Here on this side of the threshold we are standing on the earth,
on the solid earthly elements. The ground is beneath our
feet, it is our support. Around us is the watery element,
which also participates in the formation of our own bodies.
In ordinary life this watery element cannot support us, but
it interpenetrates us, transforms itself into our blood.
It is contained in our growth, in our forces of nutrition.
We breathe the air. The airy or gaseous element is all around
us. Warmth is all around us: the warmth ether, the fourth
In ordinary life they are separate from each other. Where there
is solid earth there is not water; where there is water there
is not air; where there is air there is not water. Only fire
— warmth — interpenetrates all. It is the only
thing which interpenetrates everything.
The moment we leave the physical body — also with the first
push, my dear friends — this separation of the elements
ceases. We enlarge ourselves, we expand, and at the same time
we are in earth, water, fire, air. We can no longer distinguish
them from each other and the individual attributes of
these four elements have ceased to exist. The earth is no
longer our support, for it is no longer solid. The water no
longer forms us, for its formative force has ended. Once in
the spiritual world it is as though we were dissolving, as
ice melts in warm water, for we have become one with the
water. We could not float in it, for that would mean that we
were still separate from it. The blood is no longer a
separate element in the blood vessels, but our blood becomes
one with the all-pervading watery element of the universe.
And air: it ceases being the formative breathing force in us.
Warmth ceases to enkindle us to an I, and make us feel that
we are a Self within the warmth. It all ends. We must meet
this ending of the differentiation between earth, water, air
and fire in the right frame of mind.
Imagine that we have already flown over the abyss. We
have arrived on the other side, my dear sisters and brothers.
The Guardian of the Threshold calls out to us, we should turn
around again and face him.
Imagine it vividly, my dear sisters and brothers. The
person has arrived on the other side, where the truths and
knowledge of the spirit will be revealed to him.
He stands on the other side. The Guardian of the Threshold
invokes him to turn around in order to receive the advice he
needs now that he has been touched by the state of mind which
is on the other side of the threshold, where one lives within
the four elements: in earth, water, air, fire.
He encounters there — pardon the trivial expression, my
dear sisters and brothers — the illusion of being in
love with release from the solid earth, from the formative
water force, from the creative force of air, from the
selfhood awakening force of warmth; he feels delight in
spiritual beatitude, dedicated to it and wishes to remain in
this state of spiritual beatitude. It overcomes him because
the Luciferic temptation is approachng him. Depending on his
karma, he can be more or less susceptible to this temptation.
If he is so susceptible that he is utterly in love with the
experience of dissolving into earth, water, air and fire,
the luciferic forces will apprehend him and
he will no longer leave this state of mind. He succumbs to
the danger of continuing in this state of mind when he
returns to everyday life.
The Guardian of the Threshold must call out to him: You may not
do that. You may not succumb to Lucifer. You may not merely
feel the delight of bliss in dissolving in earth, water,
fire, air. When you return to the physical world you must
again take on the state of mind of ordinary consciousness;
otherwise in the future you will be an unstable person in the
That is the luciferic danger, that upon return from the spiritual
world, from beyond the threshold, one becomes an unstable,
confused person, no longer versed in the ways of the world, a
dreamer who confuses dreaming for idealism and who is
contemptuous of ordinary consciousness. That you must not do.
And the Guardian of the Threshold urgently admonishes us that
we must resolve to live in the world, be it the earthly, be
it the spiritual, in the way which corresponds to each.
But the Guardian of the Threshold adds a second admonishment:
that when we cross over with separated thinking, feeling and
willing, we must pay attention to what extent earthly inclinations
are still present in this thinking, feeling and willing.
The person may be inclined to fixate on his experiences on this
side of the threshold because of having the earth's support,
and cross the threshold in a materialistic state of mind,
cross with the congealed formative forces of water. If so, he
can be plagued by earthly arrogance and say to himself: In
life on earth I breathed, inhaled that breath from which the
Father-God once created the human soul, human life. I can
also do that if only I am freed from earthly
But if the person wants to bring over into the spiritual world
what he has of creative divine force through his breath, he
will succumb to the Ahrimanic temptation. Then he will not be
able to return, because before he does so he will become
faint. He will be more or less unconscious. His consciousness
will be paralyzed. Because his consciousness has been
paralyzed, he more or less becomes an instrument of
the Ahrimanic powers in the spiritual world.
Although today humanity is crudely hardened by materialism,
since the beginning of the Michael age it is almost being
dragged over into the spiritual world by spiritual life
itself. And what it means when
the ahrimanic powers seize humanity when its consciousness is
paralyzed, though otherwise in a fully waking state, has been
amply demonstrated, my dear friends, by the outbreak of the
great [first] World War.
When this World War broke out, I said to many people: The history
of this war can not be written from the physical plane alone.
Documents alone do not speak the truth, because of the thirty
or forty men in Europe who directly participated in the
outbreak of the war, many of them had dimmed consciousness at
the decisive moments. They became instruments for the
ahrimanic powers on this side. So that much of what happened
during this war was instigated by the ahrimanic powers. The
war can only be written about in an occult way.
What is seen — in many respects modified on this side of the
threshold — in many leading personalities at the
outbreak of this World War, can be observed in those who
preserved the habits of the mind and carried them over beyond
the threshold and whose consciousness became paralyzed,
muted, and they became instruments of the ahrimanic powers.
It must be perfectly clear that the human being may not carry
over to this side the state of mind applicable to beyond the
threshold, and that he may not carry over to the other side
the state of mind applicable to this side. Rather must he
develop a strong inner human consciousness for each domain
— for this side and for beyond the threshold.
That applies to all four elements in the Guardian of the
Threshold's admonition. We shall now work on these
admonitions in meditation.
So let us imagine, my dear sisters and brothers, that you are
standing on the other side of the threshold. The Guardian
beckons. You look at his face. At first he calls out to you,
Where is the earth's solidity which supported you?
We no longer have it. But the inner heart is motivated to give an
answer. But this heart can be innerly motivated in a
threefold way to an answer from the cosmos.
It can be motivated from the Christ and his power. Then it
I abandon its foundation — the earth's solidity, that is
— as long as the spirit supports me.
That is the correct attitude, that I abandon the earth's support
as long as the spirit carries me in the spirit-domain, as
long as I am out of the body. But the heart can also be
motivated by Lucifer. Then it answers:
I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its
That is how one speaks with arrogance, with pride, as though he
also does not need the support when he returns to the
Or the heart can be motivated by Ahriman. Then it
I will hammer it down even harder — the support —
with the spirit's power, and bring it over with
No one should recoil from meditatively calling to mind again and
again all three answers in order to freely choose the first
one. For he must feel: the inner self tends to waver to
Lucifer, and to Ahriman. One must keep this in mind during
For the earth element the meditation must therefore contain:
[The first part of the mantra is
written on the blackboard. (Writing is always shown in
1) The Guardian — speaks — Where is the
earth's solidity, which supported you?
The Human heart must answer. If it is motivated by Christ, it
Christ: I leave its foundation as long as the spirit
If the soul is motivated by Lucifer, it answers:
Lucifer: I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its
Now the heart omits “as long as”
if it wants to replace the temporal with the eternal, which
transforms the sentence. If the heart is motivated by
Ahriman, it answers:
Ahriman: I will hammer it down even harder —
the support — with the spirit's power.
In order that the soul fully dedicate itself to what is coming,
we have the Guardian of the Threshold's second admonition,
which is related to water's formative force. This formative
force of water forms the solid organs in us from the liquid
elements. All that we consume for nourishment must first
become liquid, from which the organs are formed. All our
sharply contoured organs are formed out of the liquid
element. This formative force terminates once we tread the
realm beyond the threshold. The Guardian warns us that this
is the case. He calls to us once we stand on the other side
of the Threshold facing his stern
[The second part of the mantra is
written on the blackboard.]
Guardian: Where is the water's formative force which
The person answers if he is motivated in his heart by
My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.
Christ: My life extinguishes it (“it” is the
formative force), as long as the spirit forms me.
Again, modestly, “as long as” is used.
Now, when one is over there, out of the body, the spirit is
beginning to form.
If the soul is motivated by Lucifer, it leaves out “as
long as” and forms the sentence in a prideful, arrogant
Lucifer: My life melts it away — what is
extinguished can be re-kindled; what melts remains melted
— so I am released from it.
If the soul is motivated by Ahriman, it answers:
Ahriman: My life solidifies it, so I transfer it to
Observe, my dear sisters and brothers, how everything in
mantric verses is innerly certain and meaningfully formed.
Here [in the first verse] is:
“I leave”, “I feel”,
“I will”. The “I” speaks in the
answer. In the second verse the I no longer speaks
egocentrically, but it says: “My life”:
“my life dissolves”, “my life melts”,
“my life solidifies”. It is all appropriate
to reality if correctly spoken in the spirit. The
carelessness in formulating sentences, which is common
in the physical realm, may not be brought over into the
spirit-realm. In the spirit-realm all that is spoken must
be precise and exact.
You must understand, my dear friends, the reality that this
Esoteric School is not established by human will, but by the
spiritual world, as I said at the beginning. Everything given
here in the Esoteric School of the Goetheanum is only spoken
through my lips, but is dictated by the spiritual world. It
must be that way in every legitimately existing esoteric
school — also in the present and in the immediate
future, as it was in the ancient holy Mysteries. And this
Esoteric School is the true Michael- School, the institution
of those spiritual beings who possess the inspiration of
Michael's cosmic will.
In respect to air, the Guardian of the Threshold speaks again,
warningly: Where is the air's stimulating force which
awakened you? — awakened you to existence.
Just as Jehovah formed a feeling being from a merely living being
by means of living breath and the stimulating power of air,
so can a human being become a feeling being through the
stimulation exercised on his senses by the outer world. What,
though, are the senses?
My dear sisters and brothers, the senses
are nothing other than differentiated breathing organs. Eye,
ear — all are refined breathing organs. Breathing
expands to all the senses. As it lives in the lung, it lives
in the eye. Except that in the lungs it combines with carbon,
and in the ears with highly rarefied silica. Carbon dioxide
is formed in the organism. [He draws on the blackboard:
“Kohlensäure” = carbon dioxide (red)] In the
senses, very fine silicic acid is formed
[“Kieselsäure” = silicic acid,
Man lives downward by converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. He
lives upward into the zone of his sense-nervous system by
combining oxygen with silica, forming very fine silicic acid.
[green]. So we live in a way that when
breath turns to blood, it generates carbon dioxide; when breath
passes around the senses it generates silicic acid —
downward and outward through breath: carbon dioxide; toward
the senses and back from the senses to the breathing process
in very fine doses of silicic acid.
The Guardian of the Threshold calls to us about all that is in
Where is the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?
He who is motivated in his heart by Christ answers:
My soul breathes the air of heaven — no longer the air of
earth, the air of heaven — as long as the spirit
The heart motivated by Lucifer answers:
My soul regards it not in the spirit's rapture.
The heart motivated by Ahriman answers:
My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine creation.
As Jehovah once created with air, the ahrimanically-minded
absorbs the air in order to carry it over to the spiritual
The Guardian speaks to the human being:
[The third part of the mantra is
written on the blackboard:]
Guardian: Where is the air's stimulating force, which
The heart motivated by Christ speaks:
Christ: My soul breathes the air of heaven, as long as
the spirit surrounds me.
The heart motivated by Lucifer speaks:
Lucifer: My soul regards it not in the spirit's
The heart motivated by Ahriman speaks:
Ahriman: My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine
About fire, the warmth element, the Guardian now speaks
the last of his element-words, warning the human not to lose
himself in the warmth element as it is experienced in
physical earthly existence, but also not to carry it over to
the spiritual world.
Beforehand, my dear sisters and brothers, I want to draw
your attention to the ascending direction:
“I” the human being says at first.
“My life” the human being says.
“My soul” says the human being.
Now the Guardian speaks warningly about the fire element:
[The fourth part of
the mantra is written on the blackboard:]
Guardian: Where is fire's cleansing —
or purification — which ignited your I?
Our I lives in what pervades us as warmth, as fire. In these
esoteric classes, my dear sisters and brothers, I have
already indicated once that his solid element remains in
man's unconscious, the liquid element also, although one does
feels pleasure at being in the liquid element; when sated or
hungry, he also feels the liquid element's attributes. Man
already feels the air element in his soul: he finds breathing
difficult when the air's composition is not right and with
breathing difficulty, angst. Warmth is something in which the
human being feels completely immersed. He accompanies his
cold and warm states with his whole I. Fire ignites the I.
The heart motivated by Christ answers:
Christ: My I blazes in God's fire, as long as the
spirit ignites me.
Man does not need earthly-material warmth when the spirit
enflames or ignites: the I blazes in divine fire, not in
earthly warmth, not in earthly fire.
But the heart motivated by Lucifer answers:
My I has the force of flame through the spirit's solar
In immense pride the I — ensnared by Lucifer — wants
to usurp for itself the fire element that comes from the sun,
instead of only for the time the spirit sets it ablaze
— keep it forever, never give it away.
Lucifer: My I has the force of flame through the
spirit's solar power.
The heart motivated by Ahriman answers as though it wants to keep
for itself the fire it had captured on earth and carry it
over to the spiritual world — to master the spiritual
world with the I-fire of the physical world.
Ahriman: My I has its own fire, which ignites through
The I wills not to blaze in the spirit, but to develop its own
There is again an ascending direction in the formulation:
The person first says “I”:
He then becomes more objective in that what is in him refers to
My life extinguishes
My life melts
My life solidifies.
He goes more within, what is within makes him objective:
My soul breathes
My soul cares not
My soul absorbs it.
Now he delves deeper into himself. And — note the
difference, my dear sisters and brothers — before only
“I” was said. Now the “I” becomes
objective: “My I”, as though it were another, as
if one were to speak of the other as a possession. One is
more outside of the physical body — which disposes one
to speak so egoistically of the “I” — and
as of an object. That is the correct speech here.
One gets to know this way of speaking in all its intensity, my
dear sisters and brothers, when one speaks with souls who
have passed through the gates of death and have been a while
in the spiritual world. They never say “I”, but
they say “my I”. I have not yet heard a dead
person say “I” after death, at most only shortly
after death. But after a certain time after death they always
say “my I”, for they see the I with the eyes of
the gods. They become completely objective. It is characteristic.
Therefore, an enunciation from a dead person who has been dead
a long time can never be true if he says “I” and
not “my I”. So the soul speaks this “my
I” here in the fourth place when standing before the
Guardian of the Threshold.
That, my dear friends, is the wonderful conversation at the
threshold between the Guardian of the Threshold and the human
being. It is distinctive. And this distinctiveness is really
present when one stands before the Guardian of the Threshold
in this situation. When one practices the meditation of this
dialog in the right way, as has been described here, one must
be able to intuitively hear it. Therefore, we meditate these
words correctly, which have come to you here today as mantric
words, my dear sisters and brothers, when in a sense we hear
ourselves speaking the words after the Guardian has been
heard in our souls. Thus we meditate first hearing the
Guardian of the Threshold four times as I, II, III and IV, as
earth, water, air and fire; then as when we let our own soul
answer, but in such a way that first we hear the answer
innerly ensouled by Christ, the second answer as the voice of
the tempter, the third answer as the voice of the inflated
materialistic Ahriman-spirit, which approaches the human
being with the desire to carry the mineralized human being
into the spiritual world.
Therefore, to end this esoteric lesson today, the way this
is to be meditated resounds in us:
Where is the earth's solidity, which supported you?
I leave its foundation, as long as the spirit supports me.
I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its support.
I will hammer it down even harder with the spirit's power.
Where is the water's formative force which pervaded you?
My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.
My life melts it away, so I am released from it.
My life solidifies it, so I transfer it to the spirit-realm.
Where is the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?
My soul breathes the air of heaven, as long as the spirit surrounds
My soul regards it not in the spirit's rapture.
My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine creation.
Where is fire's cleansing, which ignited your I?
My I blazes in God's fire, as long as the spirit ignites me.
My I has the force of flame through the spirit's solar power.
My I has its own fire, which ignites through self-enfolding.