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Fairy Tales in the Light of Spiritual Investigation

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Fairy Tales in the Light of Spiritual Investigation

Schmidt Number: S-1598

On-line since: 30th September, 2019


A Mongolian Legend


Rudolf Steiner


From a matinee lecture of October 21, 1907. Contained in Mythen und Sagen. Okkulte Zeichen und Symbole. (“Myths and Legends. Occult Signs and Symbols.” GA 101. Not currently available in English.


A simple tale is found among the Mongolians in Asia, which has been transplanted as far as the eastern part of Europe, where Mongolian sagas and stories live on. Even without as yet knowing the wisdom inherent in it, is there not something profoundly gripping in this Mongolian saga which tells us:

There is a mother who has a single eye at the top of her head. This mother hurries inconsolably through the world, for she has lost her only child. She hurries through the world, lifting every stone and raising it to her eye, only to throw it to the ground again in disappointment, so that it breaks into a thousand pieces, for she has to convince herself that it is not her lost child. She does the same with every object, each time believing she will find her lost child. Seizing the object, she holds it to her eye and, her hopes dashed, throws it from her. Thus, she hastens on ceaselessly through the world, repeating this procedure over and over again.

This story is nothing other than the memory of the tribe driven farthest to the east, which still knew of ancient Atlantis, of the primeval state of humanity in which human beings stood closer to the spiritual worlds and were themselves still able to look into these worlds.

You all certainly know that with a child after birth the bones up here on the head only gradually become closed. A different relation to the external world existed among human beings in primeval times. At that time, had one been able to see in the same way as today, one would have seen an organ, like a shining body, protruding at that place on the head, its rays extending to the boundaries of the human form and disappearing into the surroundings. One would have observed something like a wondrous lantern that is only quite inappropriately called an eye, since this organ was not an eye. It was an organ of feeling and perception of humanity in those very ancient, primeval times, with which human beings were able to look out freely and unhindered into what we call the astral world. With this, they could see not only bodies, but also souls, and what actually lived in the souls around them.

This organ has shrunk to become the so-called pineal gland, now covered over by the roof of the head. However, human beings bear this ancient organ, with which they were able to experience the spiritual worlds around them, as an heirloom today within the soul. It is the yearning for these worlds, the door to which has closed, the door of one's own head. The yearning for this world has remained, though not the possibility of looking into it. This longing is expressed in the different religions, in what lives in human souls. If human beings formerly saw warm, feeling-imbued beings in the spiritual regions surrounding them, with their eyes they now see physical forms around them with defined contours.

Is this not indeed a compelling story, in which this woman, the mother of humanity, searches the world, seeking for what will allay her longing, not finding it in all the external objects, because she no longer sees what she was once able to see when the eye at the top of the head still functioned? This is no longer to be found in all the external objects granted humanity to see today by means of the senses. In this way, the world-spirit speaks to us profoundly through sagas and myths. Only in contemplating them from the standpoint of true spiritual science do we come to understand their deep meaning.

*

What human beings expressed in such grandiose truths so compellingly in ancient sagas and fairy tales - as in the Mongolian fairy tale of the woman with the single eye - will come to expression in a different form in a future humanity. The power of spiritual seeing will come alive again in human beings. That power of spiritual seeing which is an attribute of the head-eye will no longer leave them feeling dissatisfied in looking at physical objects in our surrounding world, as with the woman in the legend who throws away everything in her vicinity. This power will begin to permeate the current nature of human beings, and they will come to see not only the external, physical aspect of things, but what is expressed of a spiritual nature in external objects. What has become merely material will then be spiritual for them. Their now hardened physical bodies will be spiritualized once again. That woman of the Mongolian legend will live again and look out into the world. And whereas she now throws away things that show only their sense-perceptible side, not finding in them what she is looking for, human beings of the future will again see the spirit in matter and find what belongs to them. They can then take hold of it and press it lovingly to their hearts. They will find in other entities the spirituality of the world, which they can clasp with affection.

Human evolution will evolve as a gradual ascent into the cosmos. This will have to occur by degrees, it cannot be caught in a flash. Were human beings not to want to participate in this with patience, then the power of the eye situated on the head of the ancients would not stream through their entire being, through all their organs, as an aura of love. This power would exhaust itself, and human beings would have to separate themselves off in love-lessness from what is outside them and wither away. Human beings are called upon, however, to permeate everything on their planet with love, to take the planet with them and to redeem it. The redemption of our inner self cannot take place without the redemption of what is outside us. Human beings have to redeem the planet along with themselves. Redemption can only occur if human beings pour their forces out into the cosmos. The human being has not only to become one who is redeemed, but a redeemer.

Translated by Peter Stebbing




Last Modified: 01-Dec-2019
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