Man, the Most Significant Symbol.
The Seven Seals
The most significant of the symbols and signs that we have, and that has been acknowledged by occultists of all times, is man himself. The human being has always been called a microcosmos, a small world, and rightly so. Those who have learned to know him exactly and intimately have realized that everything spread out in the rest of nature is contained in miniature in man. This may at first be difficult to understand, perhaps, but when you think about it, you will grasp its meaning. In man there is to be found a kind of extract of all the rest of nature, of all materials and forces. If you study the nature of any plant deeply enough, you will find that there is contained in the human organism something of the same, even though it is there in ever so small a measure. If you study an animal, you will always be able to point to something in it that is of like nature in the human organism. In order to understand this rightly it is, of course, necessary to consider the development of the world from the occult standpoint. The occultist knows, for example, that men would not have the kind of hearts they have today if the lion did not exist out there in nature. Let us look back to an earlier time when there were still no lions.
Men, the oldest beings, already existed but at that time they had a differently constituted heart. To be sure, everywhere in nature there are obscure relationships. When, in the far remote past, the human heart acquired its present form, the lion appeared. The same forces formed both. It is as if these forces had extracted the leonine essence and with divine artistic skill fashioned the heart from it. You may feel that the human heart has nothing leonine in it; that it does is nevertheless so for the occultist. You must not forget the fact that when something is introduced into the relationships of an organism, it will then function quite differently from the way it functions when it is free. Conversely, it can be said that were you able to withdraw the essence of the heart and form a being from it that corresponds to this heart — that is, a being formed in such a way that the forces of the organism did not determine its structure — you would then produce a lion. All the traits of courage and daring, or, as the occultist says, the kingly traits of the human being, are derived from connections with the lion. The initiate, Plato, also placed the kingly soul in the heart.
Paracelsus used a beautiful comparison to demonstrate this connection of the human being with nature. He said that the individual beings in nature are letters, and men are the words that are composed from them. Outside, the great world, the macrocosmos; in us, the small world, the microcosmos. Outside, everything exists separately. In men it is determined by the harmonious relation with other organs. Just this enables us to illustrate through human beings the development of the whole universe insofar as it belongs to us.
You have in the seven seals that were hung in the Festival Hall during the Munich Congress a picture of this evolution of men in connection with the world to which they belong. Let us see what they show us.
While I speak to you, you hear my words. Through the fact that this sound fills the air and that certain vibrations are produced in it, my words are transported to your ears and to your souls. When I say a word, for example, “world,” the air vibrates in an embodiment of that word. What we produce in this way today is called “creation in the mineral kingdom.” The movements of the air are mineral movements, so to speak, and thus through the larynx we have a mineral effect on our environment. But men will progress and will also become effective in the plant kingdom. Then they will call forth not only mineral, but also plant-like vibrations. They will speak “plants.” The next step will be that men will be able to speak “feeling beings.” On the highest stage of their development, they will generate their like through the larynx. A man now can only express the contents of his soul through his larynx, but then he will express himself. As men in the future will be able to call people into being through their speaking, so it was that the forerunners of mankind, the gods, were gifted with an organ with which they expressed all things that are around us today. It is they who have made all men, animals and everything else that is manifest. In the literal sense of the word, all of you are words uttered by divine beings.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and a God was the Word!” This does not mean a philosophical word in the speculative sense; St. John set down a primal fact that is to be taken quite literally.
At the end there will be the Word. Creation is a realization of the Word, and men in the future will bring forth a realizations of what today is the Word. Then men will no longer have the physical forms they have today; they will have progressed to the form that existed on Saturn, to fire matter.
That being who spoke forth all that is in the world today is the great prototype of men. He spoke forth Saturn into the universe, the Sun, Moon, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. The seven planets in the seal point to this. They are the sign that indicates the height to which a man will be able to develop himself. His planet then will consist of fiery matter, and he will be able to speak creatively into this fiery matter. The fiery sword that projects from the mouth of the figure in the seal represents this. All will be fiery, hence the feet of flowing metal.
When you compare a man of today with the animals, the difference between them forces one to say that the man, as an individual, has within him what cannot be found in the single animal. The man has an individual soul, the animal a group soul. The individual human being is, in himself, a whole animal species. All lions together, for example, have only one soul. Such group-egos are like human egos except that they have not descended into the physical world, but are to be found only in the astral world. Here on earth one sees physical men, each of whom bears his ego. In the astral world one finds beings like one's self, but in astral sheaths rather than physical. One can speak with them as to one's peers. These are the animal group souls.
In a certain way we have seen that both at the beginning and at the end of human evolution there are the same conditions and transformations. We have seen them portrayed in the man with the feet of molten fire and the sword projecting from his mouth. In a symbolism of great profundity, the world's whole being is now revealed to us in the symbol of the Holy Grail.
Let me set this seal before your eyes in a few words. The occultist who has acquainted himself with our world knows that space in the physical world is not simple emptiness, but something quite different. Space is the source from which all beings have, so to speak, physically crystallized. Imagine a cube-shaped, transparent glass vessel filled with water. Now imagine that certain cooling streams are led through this water so that it congeals in the most manifold forms into ice. This will give you an idea of the world's creation, of space, and of the divine creative word spoken into it. The occultist presents this space into which the divine creative Word has been spoken as the water-clear cube. Within this space various beings develop. The ones standing nearest to us can be characterized as follows. The cube has three perpendicular directions, three axes, length, height and breadth. It thus represents the three dimensions in space. Now imagine the counter-dimensions to these three outside dimensions of the physical world. You may visualize this by imagining someone moving in one direction and colliding with someone else coming from another direction. Similarly, there is a counter-dimension to every dimension of space, so that in all we have six counter-rays. These counter-rays represent the primal beginnings of the highest human members. The physical body, crystallized from out of space, is the lowest. The spiritual, the highest, is the opposite counter-dimension. In their development, these counter-dimensions first form themselves in a being that is best described when we let them flow together into the world of passions, sensual appetites and instincts. This it is at first. Later, it becomes something else. It becomes ever more purified — we have seen to what height — but it issued from the lower impulses, which are here symbolized by the snake. The process of purification is symbolized by the counter-dimensions converging in two snakes standing opposite each other. As mankind purifies itself, it rises through what is called the world spiral. The purified body of the snake, this world spiral, has deep significance. The following example will give you an idea of it.
The world secret is found here as a circular inscription on the seal's outer edge, which shows how men in the beginning are born out of the primal forces of the world. Everyone, when he looks back, sees that he has gone through the process in the beginning of time that he goes through spiritually today when he is born anew out of the forces of consciousness. This is expressed in the Rose Cross by E. D. N., Ex Deo Nascimur, out of God I am born.
We have seen that within the manifest world a second is added to life, that is, death. That he find life again in this death, a man must find the death of the senses in the primal source of all that lives. This is the center of all cosmic development because we have had to experience death in order to gain consciousness. We will be able to overcome death when we find its meaning in the mystery of the Redeemer. Just as we are born out of God, so, in the sense of esoteric wisdom, we die in Christ — I. C. M., In Christo Morimur.
Because a duality is disclosed wherever something reveals itself, with which a third member must unite, the man who has overcome death will identify himself with the spirit that permeates the world, symbolized by the dove. He will rise from death and again live in the spirit — P. S. S. R., Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.
Here stands the theosophical Rose Cross. It rays forth to those times in which religion and science will be reconciled.
You can see how the whole world presents itself in such seals, and because the magi and initiates have put the whole cosmos into them, they contain a mighty force. You can continually turn back to these seals and you will find that by meditating on them they will disclose infinite wisdom. They can have a mighty influence on the soul because they have been created out of cosmic secrets. Hang them in a room where such things are discussed as we have been doing here, discussions in which one raises one's self to the holy mysteries of the world, and they will prove enlivening and illuminating in the highest degree, although people will often not be aware of their effect. Because they have this significance, however, they are not to be misused or profaned. Strange as it may seem, when the seals are hung around a room in which nothing spiritual is ever said, in which only trivial words are spoken, their effect is such that they cause physical illness. Trivial as it may sound, they destroy the digestion. What is born out of the spiritual belongs to the spiritual and must not be profaned. This is shown here by the very effect. Signs of spiritual things belong where spiritual things are enacted and reach effectiveness.