enters very deeply into the theme we dwelt on in the last chapter but
one — namely that through the abnormal Spirits man and the
cosmic forces that create him were driven down more deeply into the
physical-material world than would otherwise have happened. Moreover
it is indicated very clearly that the time has now come when in the
further course of evolution — with respect to race
especially — we must begin to liberate ourselves again
from this dependence on the physical. The lecture is unusually rich
in content and is indeed in some respects the key to the entire
We have to
understand the races of mankind, says Dr. Steiner at the beginning,
for it is out of these that the nations and folk-communities arise.
Now we recall how mankind is created by the working of all the
Hierarchies. And we remember in this connection the seven-year
periods of human life. To summarize: —
old Saturn the Thrones created the physical body of Man.
first seven-year period of our life is devoted mainly to the physical
old Sun the Spirits of Wisdom created our etheric body.
the second seven-year period of our life the etheric body —
‘born,’ as we know, at the age of 7 — is especially
old Moon the Spirits of Movement created our astral body.
third seven-year period of our life (14–21) is especially
the time of development of the astral body.
the present Earth-epoch the Spirits of Form gave birth to the
And it is in
the middle period of life (not only seven years this time, but 3
times 7, from about 21 to 42) that the ‘I,’ in the three
soul-members, comes into its own.
conclude from this that the main interest of the Spirits of Form
— begetters of our inmost ‘I’ or Ego —
centres upon this middle period of human life. The first three
septads are really a kind of recapitulation of what was undergone on
Saturn, Sun and Moon. Properly speaking therefore, in the first seven
years of his life man should again have the consciousness
pertaining to the physical body only, that is the old Saturn or
trance-consciousness — the degree of consciousness of the
mineral kingdom. In the second seven years he should have the
sleep-consciousness of a plant-like being; in the third, the
dream-like consciousness of old Moon evolution.
Not till the age of 20 or 21 would he awaken to Ego-consciousness.
Thus Dr. Steiner leads us up to this all-important piece of knowledge:
the fact that it is otherwise — that man begins to express the
consciousness of ‘I’ long, long before he comes to the
‘age of discretion’ — is due to the intervention of
the abnormal Spirits, and above all to those described at the end of
the last lecture, who would have been Spirits of Movement in the
normal course but are actually Spirits of Form and as such create the
lecture-cycles of Rudolf Steiner abound with these communications as
to what man — his form, his life, his consciousness and
modes of cognition — would have been, but for the
‘Fall.’ Vastly important as they are for true
Self-knowledge, we must of course beware of taking them in a too
crude or fragmentary way. We cannot, for example, imagine little
children of one to seven in their present form going about in
trance-consciousness! In effect, man would not have been down on the
physical Earth at all until his 21st year, if things had taken their
‘normal’ course. In a kind of cosmic embryo-life, in the
surrounding spiritual spheres of Earth, he would have spent the first
three seven-year periods, recapitulating the Saturn, Sun and Moon
creations of his three bodies. Then — at the age of 21,
according to our present notions — he would have been born on
to the Earth straightway equipped with full and true I-consciousness.
That it is not so, is due once more to the ‘backward’
knowledge of these occult facts cannot but be of deep significance
for all the task of human education in childhood and youth, and
it will be of special interest to turn here to the work of one of Dr.
Steiner's most mature pupils, who has but lately been taken from us.
In a series of articles in the
Korrespondenz der Anthroposophischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft
(Stuttgart) some years ago, Dr. Caroline von Heydebrand worked out this
very point, bringing the
lectures into connection with Rudolf Steiner's
educational methods, in which she, with her great love of childhood,
had lived so intimately.
compensate for coming on to Earth too soon, Dr. Steiner goes on to
say, man also has to spend the last decades of his life in gradual
decline and disintegration so far as his bodily nature is concerned.
In effect, his life is roughly divided into three thirds, and it is
only in the middle third — 20 to 40, or 21 to 42 — that
he belongs in the fullest sense, as to the outwardly given conditions
of his existence, to the normal Spirits. He would, had this not been
the case, have come on to the Earth at about 20 and have left it
again at about 41. Childhood and youth, old age and decline, would
have been replaced by more spiritual forms of being.
middle period itself — indeed, man's whole existence
— has in this way been rendered more material than it would
have been. He has been made more earth-bound. This knowledge now will
help us understand how races came to be, and also why they are so
obstinate a heritage.
already seen that starry, planetary forces work on different portions
of the Earth's surface, and men are subject to them. This would have
been so (see the 1925 letter already quoted) even in the normal
course, but the influences would then have been more spiritual; they
would not have been permanently branded — driven down, as Dr.
Steiner puts it, into the heaviness of Earth.
what happened: — In the very distant time already mentioned
— latest Lemuria, early Atlantis — when the human form
was as yet far more pliable than it is to-day, races began to be
formed according to the influences working in different regions of
the Earth which men inhabited, or into which they migrated from time
to time. The racial types, thus formed originally under cosmic
geographical influences, then became fixed and transmitted by
heredity. Since the age of puberty, when man grows capable of
reproduction, is within the first third of life — the period
when the abnormal Spirits, as we saw, are still predominant —
we can well understand that racial differentiation, itself the
work of the abnormal Spirits, should be hereditary. After the early
Atlantean time heredity itself, not the locality of birth, became the
dominant factor. Dr. Steiner turns aside to criticise the popular
theosophical way of using the word ‘race’ for all the
rounds and epochs. Race, in the proper meaning of the term, was only
of significance from Lemuria onward, and its significance grows less
again in post-Atlantean time.
Steiner enters more in detail into the cosmic, spiritual geography of
the Earth. The Earth, no mere indifferent ball of matter, is in its
diverse regions diversely receptive to cosmic influences. Of great
importance therefore were the wanderings and habitations of men
precisely in that time — during Atlantis — when the great
races were formed. Dr. Steiner (page 49 in our edition) draws a line,
shaped roughly like a horseshoe opening westward, connecting three or
four important points, foci of cosmic influence in the configuration
of our planet. These centres, as he indicates, are still existent,
though we are no longer subject to them in the same intense degree.
The first is in the interior of Africa; there work the forces which
influence the human being most of all in early childhood. The race
there formed impresses characteristics of early childhood upon the
human being for his entire life. It is the black, the Ethiopian or
the line goes eastward and bends northward to a second centre in the
interior of Asia. Here work the influences which impress the human
being with characteristics of later youth or adolescence; broadly
speaking, the brown and yellow races of our time are the
line, going northward still, turns back again in a westerly
direction, till as we cross from Asia into Europe a third essential
point is reached. Here work the forces forming the human being in his
mature or adult life. The European racial type is the
farther West another region is indicated, though not included in the
diagram. It is in America, where the forces of old age — the
last third of life — work in the forming of the races. The
dying-out of the American Indians is due to an inner necessity, not
only to their persecution by Europeans. Here Dr. Steiner introduces
the great occult truth:
races go westward to die, eastward to seek rejuvenating forces.
Those of the old Atlanteans who became most
subject to the dying or ageing forces were the ones who migrated
westward, the forefathers of the Red Indians.
return to the actual forming of races in the sixth lecture, where it
is gone into in greater detail. Here Dr. Steiner leads us on to
another most important aspect. What happened in Lemuria-Atlantis in
the creation of races, more in the physical body, was destined to be
repeated on a higher level — in the forming of civilizations,
coming more into the sphere of man's own activity and freedom in
post-Atlantean times. In modern Spiritual Science it is pointed out
that as against the seven races of Atlantis we should rather
speak of seven civilization-epochs, not races, in
post-Atlantis. Race still lives on for a long time, it is true, but
is no longer the dominant and progressive factor.
Now for this
new beginning, this renewal on a higher level, it was first necessary
for a fresh migration eastward to take place. Such in effect was the
rejuvenation of mankind after Atlantis, when Manu led his chosen
people far away eastward into central Asia, to found the
post-Atlantean epochs. Then — in a sequence of
civilizations this time — the westward evolution was
repeated: first India, then Persia, then Egypt and Chaldea, Greece
and Rome, the present European epoch — ever westward. And with
the westward course two things go hand in hand: the gradual ageing of
civilizations, the lessening of childlike, youthful productivity on
the one hand (witness the contrast of ancient Greece and the more
westward Rome); and on the other hand the narrowing of geographical
area to smaller and smaller lands (Europe the smallest of the
Continents!) until at last the most essential Western civilizations
are founded on tiny peninsulas or even islands. Characteristic of
Asia is the expansion of mankind over immense stretches of country.
The westward journey is an ageing and a shrinking process.
India — first of the post-Atlantean epochs — Dr. Steiner
says that by coming again into the region where the humanity-creating
forces had begun to work in old Lemurian time, they experienced a
kind of childlikeness, a renewal of fresh youthful forces, though now
more on the level of the soul.
felt — corresponding to a rather later time in life, the
transition from youth to maturity — the interplay and contrast
of the abnormal and the normal Spirits. This also led them to their
dominant conception: the polarity of Light and Darkness, Ormuzd and
civilization, formed in that region of the Earth where the forces of
maturity (time of the normal Spirits of Form) are mainly working, is
thereby destined to lead on towards a certain liberation from the
bonds of race. At the same time, the farther westward we go, the more
we come into the realms of old age and death. Dr. Steiner warns his
hearers once again: these truths can only be received in an objective
spirit. He here brings in an illustration (page 53) which throws a
flood of light on many things. Western humanity — precisely
because it lives in the realm of ageing, rather hardening forces
— has an inherent longing to receive something from the East.
What it receives from the East, works with renewing, kindling and
rejuvenating power. The individual soul, needless to say, is neither
East, Middle nor West, but if you live in a western body you carry
deep in your soul an inner longing for the East.
[See also Rudolf Steiner's
Lectures to Teachers
in the chapter “After the Fourteenth Year.”]
Now Dr. Steiner indicates how in
the Theosophical Movement in its earlier phases, when it was largely
English and American, spiritual substance was received from the East
(through Mme. Blavatsky, herself an Eastern person — a teaching
mainly Indian or at least Oriental in character). When on the other
hand — through Rudolf Steiner himself, as we know — the
same spiritual movement grew to significance more in the heart of
Europe, i.e. between the East and West, it had to find its
resources more within itself, within the soul- and spiritual life of
these, mid-European regions. Read Rudolf Steiner's own
with this in view, written as it is quite in the spirit and manner of the
great German thinkers and mystics. Contrast it with the best English
expositions of Theosophy before his time.
[It seems to me a pity that Dr. Steiner's occasional
references to ‘Theosophy’ or ‘the Theosophical
Movement’ in these lectures should have been rendered in
translation ‘Anthroposophy,’ etc. The lectures were given
in 1910 and Dr. Steiner spoke the words he spoke. In the original
(issued as late as 1922) they have not been altered.]
looks eastward; the man of middle regions has to draw — to
begin with, at any rate — out of the deep resources of his own
soul-life. The one is as natural and right as the other is, nor does
the one exclude the other; for, as the spiritual movement of the
Michael-time is on its way and we ourselves upon this way, as
individuals we become all-human — with many diverse leanings,
each as his destiny may guide him. Therefore for Western people not
only the mid-European, deeply delving, philosophic way — from
which indeed we learn so much — is right, but also the
receiving from the East. I have noticed this, to my joy, when Eastern
lecturers have been among us.
upon this fundamental theme, the ageing forces of the West and the
rejuvenating of the East, we may be allowed to turn to the middle
verse of our
The Foundation Stone Meditation.
In the human body the ageing
forces are represented more by the nerves and bony system, and in a
word by all that tends towards clear-cut and lasting form. The
ever-youthful forces, on the other hand, are represented by the blood
with all its warmth and fire. The same polarity may therefore be
expressed in more poetic language as that of Form and Fire.
The concepts Form and Fire are in fact applied to West and East in
the middle verse of the meditation, which culminates in the saying:
In Christo morimur.
“Spirits of Light!
May there be kindled from the East
The flame that is moulded by the West,
In Christ, Death becomes Life!”
is fired from the East is formed or moulded by the West.
“Lasset vom Osten befeuern was durch den Westen sich
formet” are the corresponding words in the
Christo morimur is then the real answer of the Spirit to this
occult truth which may seem tragic to us: that as the races and
civilizations go westward they come into the realm of hardening and
dying forces. Moreover this answer lives in the rhythmic realm of
life where the true intercourse of soul as between East and West is
brought about in humanity by the Christ-impulse.
brings the fourth lecture to a beautiful ending with the example of
Plato — an individual man “who grew up in the lineage of
Solon, belonged to the Ionian tribe, to the Greek nation and to the
whole Caucasian race.” How had the different Hierarchies, the
normal and abnormal Spirits from the Dynamis down to the Angels and
Archangels to work together to achieve this!