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Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz

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

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Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz


Rudolf Steiner did not intend publishing the lectures of this volume, and he did not check them himself. Therefore he chose neither the name of the book nor the title of the individual lectures. Those that have already appeared in print received their titles as publications of Marie Steiner.

Rudolf Steiner gave these lectures while still working with his Anthroposophically orientated Spiritual Science within the Theosophical Society of those days, therefore he used the term ‘Theosophy’, but always in the sense of his Spiritual Science which was Anthroposophically orientated right from the beginning. In accordance with instructions Rudolf Steiner gave at a later date most of them have been altered to ‘Spiritual Science’ or ‘Anthroposophy’.


  1. The Theosophical Society, founded by H.P. Blavatsky: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, nee von Hahn (Ekaterinoslav, Southern Russia, 1831 – 1891 London), founded the Theosophical Society together with Col. H.S. Olcott in New York in 1875, its headquarters moving in 1879 to India (Adyar, near Madras).

  2. The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy. Volume 1, Cosmogenesis; Volume II, Anthropogenesis; London, 1888. A third volume was published from manuscripts by Annie Besant in London in 1897.

  3. Max Muller: 1823 – 1900; one of the most important orientalists of the nineteenth century.

  4. Paul Deussen: 1845 – 1919; philosopher and scholar of Indian culture.

  5. Rudolf Steiner. His youth was spent: see Rudolf Steiner, ‘An Autobiography’, Rudolf Steiner Publications; New York, 1977.

  6. Congress ... in Genoa: see Rudolf Steiner ‘The Anthroposophical Movement, its History and Life Conditions in Relation to the Anthroposophical Society’. Eight lectures in Dornach, 10th – 17th June 1923; London, 1933.

  7. aim of the lectures held in 1911 and 1912 was to bring out the significance of karma: see the Berlin and Stuttgart lectures ‘Reincarnation and Karma: their Significance in Modern Culture’; London, 1960.

  8. Jeshu ben Pandira, whom Haeckel, among others, has spoken of in a most derogatory way: Ernst Haeckel, 1834 – 1919, German natural scientist. His remarks about Jeshu ben Pandira are in his work ‘Die Weltratsel’ (‘World Secrets’); Bonn, 1899.

  9. The Matthew Gospel, in the main, originated from ... Jeshu ben Pandira: Matthai was a pupil of Jeshu ben Pandira. See Rudolf Steiner's ‘The Gospel of St. Matthew’, twelve lectures; Berne, September, 1910; Rudolf Steiner Press 1965.

  10. the modern theosophical movement: see Marie Steiner's preface, p. 1.

  11. a year of great importance: the year 1899: 1899 marks the end of a period lasting from 3112 BC. to 1899 AD., which in Indian is called Kali Yuga, meaning ‘The Dark Age’.

  12. Vladimir Soloviev: 1853 – 1900, Russian philosopher. The three experiences mentioned by Rudolf Steiner are described by Soloviev in ‘Drei Begegnungen Moskau/London/Aegypten/1862 – 1875 – 1876’ (‘Three Meetings Moscow/London/Egypt/1862 – 1875 – 1876’) contained in the edition of poems by Vladimir Soloviev translated into German by Marie Steiner; Dornach 1969. When Rudolf Steiner refers to Soloviev's vision of the future evolution of humanity arising out of these meetings, he means ‘The Antichrist’; Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1982.

  13. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling: 1775 – 1854.

  14. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: 1770 – 1831.

  15. Ernst Haeckel: 1834 – 1919.

For above three notes, see Rudolf Steiner ‘The Riddles of Philosophy’, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, New York, 1973.

  1. as I indicated in Basle: Rudolf Steiner ‘The Gospel of St. Luke’, ten lectures, Basle, September, 1909; Rudolf Steiner Press 1975.

  2. Nirmanakaya: terminology in Eastern science for the body of a Buddha after he has passed through perfection. See the Gospel of St. Luke lecture cycle, p. 73, where definition is given: ‘The body which such a Being assumes after he has passed through the stage of perfection’: ‘the Body of Transformation’.

  3. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: 1646 – 1716. See Rudolf Steiner ‘The Riddles of Philosophy’; Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, New York, 1973.

  4. John of Damascus who wrote a book in the form of a narrative: the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat.

  5. ‘The Soul's Probation’, which I was able to have performed in Munich: the second of Rudolf Steiner's four mystery plays, first performed in Munich in the summer of 1911. See ‘Four Mystery Plays’ (1910 – 13); Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1983.

  6. dream of ... Socrates: in the platonic dialogues ‘Menon’ and ‘Protagoras’.

  7. Celsus: Roman philosopher. In the middle of the second century AD. he wrote ‘The True Word’, the first polemic against Christianity.

  8. Christian Rosenkreutz: A fourteenth century personality not given historical credence by external history but known to us from two anonymous rosicrucian legends ‘Fama Fraternitatis or Discovery of the Brotherhood of the highly commendable Order of the Rose Cross’; Cassel 1614; and ‘Confessio Fraternitatis or Confession of the commendable Brotherhood of the highly honoured Rose Cross’; Cassel 1615; according to which Christian Rosenkreutz was a German of noble descent who lived from 1378 to 1484. The name occurs for the first time in a document called ‘Chymical Wedding: Christian Rosenkreutz. Anno 1459’ written in 1604, handwritten copies of which were anonymously published in Strasbourg in 1616, the publisher being Johann Valentin Andreae who was inspired by Christian Rosenkreutz. See Rudolf Steiner ‘Die chymische Hochzeit des Christian Rosenkreutz’, an essay in the periodical ‘Das Reich’, Munich, 1917/18. In ‘Philosophie und Anthroposophie’, Gesammelte Aufsdtze (collected essays) 1904 – 18, GA 35; Dornach 1965. See also Johann Valentin Andreae ‘The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz Anno 1459’; Minerva Books, London.

  9. Christian Rosenkreutz gave an indication of this in his last exoteric statements: Rudolf Steiner is evidently referring here, as he did in an earlier lecture (Berlin 16th December 1904) to an utterance of Count de Saint Germain handed down in literature (see reference to page 47) according to which he said in Vienna in 1790: ‘I shall disappear from Europe towards the end of the century and proceed to the regions of the Himalayas. I shall rest; I must rest. In 85 years time I shall be seen daily.’ (Quoted from Isabella Cooper-Oakley in the periodical ‘Gnosis’ Vol. 1, no. 20 of 15.12.1903). In the year 1875, that is, exactly 85 years after this utterance, the Theosophical Society was founded.

  10. The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians: Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 3 books, Altona 1785 – 88 (anon.). Book I contains an essay by Hinricus Madathanus Theosophus: “Aurcum Seculum Redivivum”, which had already appeared in 1621.

  11. Hinricus Madathanus Theosophus: Anagrammatic pseudonym of the paracelsist Hadrianus a Munsicht (Adrian von Mynsicht: Mynsicht is also an anagram of the surname Symnicht, originally Seumenicht, an alchemist) whose distinction it is to have been the first person to produce antimonoxydkali. He was born in Braunschweig the son of a pastor and lived from about 1590 – 1638. See C.S. Picht, Hinricus Madathanus, in “Die Drei”, Stuttgart 1927, Vol. VII No. 4.

  12. H.P. Blavatsky ... Isis Unveiled: 2 volumes, New York 1877.

  13. In a place in Europe that cannot be named yet — though this will be possible in the not very distant future: this place was not named later, either.

  14. Goethe's poem ‘The Mysteries’: see Rudolf Steiner's lecture ‘The Mysteries. A Christmas and Easter Poem by Goethe’, Cologne, 25th December 1907; Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. London, 1946.

  15. ‘The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians’: see note 25 ).

  16. The Count of Saint Germain was the exoteric reincarnation of Christian Rosenkreutz in the eighteenth century: Rudolf Steiner mentioned the connection between these two figures before, in a lecture of 4th November 1904, in ‘A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology’.

  17. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: 1729 – 81. In his work ‘The Education of the Human Race’, Lessing discusses the concept of reincarnation.

  18. & 34. Widenmann ... Drossbach: in 1849 Maximilian Drossbach, 1810 – 84, wrote the article ‘Wiedergeburt, oder die Losung der Unsterblichkeitsfrage auf empirischen Wege nach den bekannten Naturgesetzen’ (Reincarnation, or the Solving of the Problem of Immortality by Empirical Means according to the known Laws of Nature). Without disclosing his name he offered a prize of 40 ducats of gold for the best exposition of the idea expressed in this article. This prompted the writing of the article by Gustav Widenmann (1812 – 76) ‘Gedanken uber die Unsterblichkeit als Wiederholung des Erdenlebens’ (Ideas on Immortality as the Repetition of Life on Earth), Vienna 1851, which won the prize. This short article was recently published anew in cornbination with an essay by C.S. Picht ‘Das Auftauchen der Reinkamationsidee bei dem Arzt und Philosophen Gustav Widenmann um 1850’ (The Emergence of the Concept of Reincarnation in Gustav Widenmann, doctor and philosopher around 1850), im Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart, 1961.

  1. Heinrich Khunrath: 1560 – 1605, medical doctor and the writer of a great number of articles on alchemy. A reference to ‘Nashni Khuni’ in a transcript of a lecture suggests that the ‘Khuni’ could point to Khunrath.

  2. Thales: 640 to circa 543 BC., first Greek philosopher.

  3. Max Planck: 1858 – 1947, founder of the quantum theory. ‘Die Stellung der neureren Physik zur mechanischen Naturanschaung’ (The Position of Modern Physics with respect to the Mechanical World outlook), lecture held on 23.9.1910 at the 82nd session of German natural scientists and doctors in Konigsberg; Leipzig, 1910.

  4. Sigmund Freud: 1856 – 1939, founder of psychoanalysis.

  5. Dr. Breuer: Joseph Breuer, Viennese surgeon. See Rudolf Steiner ‘An Autobiography’, Steinerbooks, New York, 1977, and also lecture of 10th November 1917 in ‘Psychoanalysis in the Light of Anthroposophy’, Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1946.

  6. Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert: 1780 – 1860, natural philosopher. ‘Die Geschichte der Seele’ (History of the Soul) Stuttgart. 1839.

  7. Johann Volkelt: 1848 – 1930: ‘Die Traum-Phantasie’ (Dream Pictures) Stuttgart 1875. See also Rudolf Steiner ‘Riddles of Philosophy’, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, New York, 1973.

  8. Essene teachings: Essenes, Jewish secret Order, about 150 BC. to 70 AD. See also Rudolf Steiner ‘The Fifth Gospel’; Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1968.

  9. Yesterday we heard: in the public lecture in Munich on 19th November 1911 ‘Von Paracelsus zu Goethe’. There is no transcript of the lecture. See the corresponding lecture given in Berlin on 16th November 1911 in — ‘Menschengeschichte im Lichte der Geistesforschung’ (Human History in the Light of Spiritual Research) GA 61 Dornach, 1962.

  10. when ... Jerome himself says: see Rudolf Steiner ‘From Jesus to Christ’, Carlsruhe, October 1911; Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1973.

  11. Lessing ... idea of reincarnation: see note 32 ).

  12. Goethe ... ‘The Mysteries’: see note 29 ).

  13. Christian Rosenkreutz: see note 23 ).

  14. Widenmann: see note 33 ).

  15. H.P. Blavatsky: see note 1 ).

  16. Arthur Schopenhauer: 1788 – 1860. See ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ (The World as Will and Idea in the ‘Supplements to the second volume’, chapter 38 ‘Uber Geschichte’ (On History).

  17. Hebbel ... diary: ‘After his soul journey Plato is now possibly being caned at school for — not understanding Plato.’ Hebbel's diaries Nr. 1335.

  18. Bismarck: ‘Gedanken und Erinnerungen’ (Thoughts and Memories), 1898, 2 volumes.

  19. public lectures: Vienna 6th and 7th February 1912, on Death and Immortality in the Light of Spiritual Science, and The Essence of Eternity and the Nature of the Human Soul in the Light of Spiritual Science. These lectures were not printed. See the corresponding lectures given in Berlin, 26th October 1911 and 21st March 1912, in ‘Menschengeschichte im Lichte der Geistesforschung’ (Human History in the Light of Spiritual Research) GA 61 Dornach, 1962.

  20. And so from longing to delight I reel ... ’: Goethe ‘Faust’, Part 1, Woodland and Cave.

  21. In thy thinking cosmic thoughts are living’: Benedictus' words in Rudolf Steiner's second mystery play ‘The Soul's Probation’, Scene 1.

  22. all possible religions and all possible philosophies belong to twelve basic types: see Rudolf Steiner's ‘Human and Cosmic Thought’, 4 lectures Berlin, January 1914; Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1967.

  23. Goethe's ... ‘The Mysteries’: see note 29 ).

  24. Nietzsche because I once wrote an absolutely objective book about him: ‘Friedrich Nietzsche, Fighter for Freedom’, Rudolf Steiner Publications, New Jersey, 1960.

  25. a year ago, when it was said: see pages 36 et seq. [27 Sep 1911]

  26. Nicholas Copernicus: 1473 – 1543.

  27. Giordano Bruno: 1548 – 1600.

  28. Galileo Galilei: 1564 – 1642.

  29. earlier Ptolemaic view: Claudius Ptolemy, circa 100 to 180 AD., astronomer, mathematician and geographer in Alexandria.

  30. Copernicus: Book of the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres: De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium Libri VI, Nurnberg 1543.

  31. before that, from 1401 – 1464, the individuality of Copernicus was incarnated as Nicholas of Cusa: the relationship of these two individualities was presented in greater detail in the lectures given in 1909, ‘Das Prinzip der spirituellen Oekonomie im Zusammenhang mit Wiederverkoerperungsfragen. Ein Aspekt der geistigen Führung der Menscheit’ (The Principle of Spiritual Economy in Relation to Questions of Reincarnation. An Aspect of the Spiritual Guidance of Mankind), GA 109/111 Dornach, 1965. Nicholas of Cusa: 1401 – 64. Wrote his work ‘De docta ignorantia Libri III’ in 1440.

  32. since the founding of the Middle European section of the Theosophical Society: see Rudolf Steiner ‘The Anthroposophical Movement, its History and Life-Conditions in Relation to the Anthroposophical Society; an Occasion for Self-Recollection’, 8 lectures Dornach, June, 1923; London, 1933.

  33. Here in Switzerland we have given lecture cycles on the four Gospels: ‘Das Johannes-Evangelium’ (The Gospel of St. John), 8 lectures, Basle, November 1907, in ‘Menschheitsentwicklung und Christuserkenntnis’ (Human Evolution and Knowledge of Christ) GA 100 Dornach, 1967; ‘The Gospel of St. Luke’. 10 lectures, Basle, September, 1909, Rudolf Steiner Press London, 1975; ‘The Gospel of St. Matthew’, 12 lectures, Berne, September 1910, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1965; ‘The Gospel of St. Mark’, 10 lectures, Basle, September, 1912, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1977.

  34. sermon of Benares: Buddha's first sermon after his enlightenment: ‘The eightfold path, the cause of suffering and the alleviation of suffering.’

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