you will think back to the dramatic scenes we have had before us
these last few days, you will find that they lead into what we will
consider in this lecture cycle. First of all, I would like to call to
mind Scenes Nine, Ten and Thirteen of
The Souls' Awakening.
These are scenes whose effect one could call simple and straightforward.
After the happenings in the Spirit Realm (Scenes Five and Six) and
the Egyptian initiation (Scenes Seven and Eight), some people might
have expected a much more forceful sequel coming before their eyes of
soul, more tragic, perhaps, or more emphatic in speech, not just a
subsiding into inner quietness. However, anything formed differently
in Scenes Nine, Ten, and Thirteen would appear untruthful to the
We see on stage various developments of soul. It should
be said immediately that we have also given theoretical descriptions
of the development into higher worlds, and these contain points of
reference for every person on his or her path towards the spiritual
world. Nevertheless, soul development is necessarily different for
each one, according to his own special nature, character, temperament
and circumstances. We can therefore gain a deeper understanding of an
esoteric soul development only when we observe its diversity: how
differently it takes place in Maria, how differently in Johannes
Thomasius, how differently in the other characters of the drama.
Scene Nine is first of all directed to that
psychological moment when the consciousness breaks into Maria's soul
of the experiences that had penetrated to her very core but not
altogether consciously during the devachanic
( 1 )
time before birth
and in the ancient Egyptian initiation. In what was presented to us
as “Spirit Realm,” we are concerned with soul experiences
between death at the end of a medieval incarnation and birth into our
present time. The events of all four Mystery Dramas, with the
exception of the episode in
The Souls' Probation
represents the spiritual review of his previous life by Capesius,
take place at the present time, a time linked to the spiritual past
spent in Devachan, between the death of the various characters after
their incarnation in the Middle Ages (this being the content of the
episode mentioned) and their present life.
The experiences of the devachanic period differ
according to the preparation our souls have made on earth. It must be
understood that it is a significant experience when a soul can go
through what is called the Cosmic Midnight with consciousness. Souls
that are not prepared for it will sleep through that part of the time
called the Saturn period of Devachan (one can designate the
successive periods a soul undergoes between death and a new birth as
connected with the various planets: Sun, Mars, Mercury periods, and
so on). Many souls sleep through the whole Cosmic Midnight. Souls
that have been prepared are awake in this period of their spiritual
life, but there is no guarantee that souls so prepared will also
bring a clear memory of this experience into their life on earth when
they come back into physical existence.
Maria and Johannes were well prepared for
the experience of the Cosmic Midnight during their time in the spirit
between death and new birth. Nevertheless a kind of soul darkness
prevailed at the beginning of their earth lives, continuing over long
periods of time and shrouding the experience of the Cosmic Midnight;
then at a later stage of their present life, this rose to the
surface. It reappeared only when a certain inner calmness and
resolution of soul was reached. Significant and profound are the
experiences of the Cosmic Midnight when the soul is awake to them.
The earthly memory of all this must come as a calm inner experience,
a luminous inner experience, for the effect of such a perception of
the Cosmic Midnight is this: what formerly was only subjective,
working inwardly as soul force, now appears as a living being or
beings before the soul. As shown in Scene Nine of
The Souls' Awakening
it presents itself before Maria in the forms of
Astrid and Luna as real beings. To Johannes Thomasius the Other
Philia becomes a living being of the spiritual world, and to
Capesius, Philia, in Scene Thirteen. These characters had to learn to
feel perceptively that what before this were only abstract forces
within themselves now could appear to them in a spiritually tangible
What comes to souls spiritually tangible as
genuine self-knowledge has to appear in complete soul quietness, the
result of meditation: this is essential if such happenings are to be
experienced in the true sense of the word for genuine strengthening
of the soul. If a person wanted to experience the Cosmic Midnight as
retrospective memory or to experience what is shown as the Egyptian
initiation not in the clear light of meditation but as intense
tragedy, he would not be able to experience them at all. For the
spiritual happening that is taking place in the soul would place
itself like a dark veil before it, so that any impressions recede
from observation. A soul that has experienced the Cosmic Midnight and
in its deepest core received a momentous impression of the kind shown
in Scenes Seven and Eight of
The Souls' Awakening
can remember the past happening only when the soul in completely lucid
calmness can perceive thoughts approaching, thoughts about earlier
experiences in the spiritual life or in the former earth life. This is
what is expressed in the words at the beginning of Scene Nine:
A star of soul ... there ... at the spirit shore ...
it draws near ... nears in spirit brightness ...
my Self it brings... and nearing,
its light gains strength ... gains calmness too.
You star within the circuit of my spirit ... what,
approaching, shines on my beholding soul?
( 2 )
Only when the soul is in this calm mood, so
that the experience does not whirl in upon it with tragic vehemence,
can one feel the arising memory of the Cosmic Midnight and the
experiences of the previous incarnation as occultly true. When it is
experienced and lived through, the Cosmic Midnight has a profound
significance for a person's emotional life. There one lives through
what can only be expressed as follows: In the Cosmic Midnight things
are experienced that he hidden deep, deep down under the surface, not
only of the sense world but also under the surface of the various
worlds to which a dawning clairvoyance can lead. The sense world
recedes, and also there recedes from clairvoyant vision in some of
those who have already been able to discern various layers below the
sense world, what we may call (and we will speak of it at length
later on) — the Necessities in cosmic events. The
Necessities are rooted in the foundations of things, where also the
deepest part of the human soul rests. This, however, evades the
physical gaze and also the dawning clairvoyant gaze, revealing itself
to the latter only when something is experienced like the Saturn
period scenes. One may therefore say that to such a clairvoyant gaze,
which indeed must first appear between death and a new birth, it is
as if lightning flashes were crossing the soul's whole field of
vision, lightning whose terrifying brilliance was illumining the
Cosmic Necessities, which at the same time were themselves so
blindingly bright that the cognitive gaze dies away in the radiant
light. Then from this expiring glance of cognition there come forth
picture forms that enweave themselves into the cosmic web like the
forms from which grow the destinies of the cosmic beings. One
discovers in the foundations of the Necessities the fundamental
causes of human destinies and those of other beings, but only when
one gazes with glances of cognition that die away in the knowing,
destroyed by the lightning flashes; they then remodel themselves as
if into forms that have died but that live on as the impulses of
destiny in life.
All that a true self-knowledge can discover in itself —
not the self-knowledge so bandied about in Theosophical ranks but the
highly serious self-knowledge that comes to pass in the course of
( 3 )
— all that a soul can perceive within itself,
with all the imperfections it has to ascribe to itself, all this is
heard at the cosmic midnight as if enwoven into rolling cosmic
thunder, rumbling in the underground of existence.
All these experiences may take place with great anguish
and solemn resolve between death and a new birth as an awakening at
the Cosmic Midnight. If the soul is mature enough to allow the
consciousness of this to enter the physical sense world, it must
happen in the quiet clarity of the meditative mood hinted at by Maria
at the beginning of Scene Nine. What, however, the soul has perceived
within its spiritual life must have preceded this, as if something of
itself, something belonging intimately to itself but not always
dwelling in what one can call the Self, had approached from world
distances. The mood in which something in the spirit world approaches
one like a part of oneself, yet as though coming from far away: this
was attempted in the words Maria speaks in the Spirit Realm (Scene
The flames are nearing — nearing with my thinking
from distant cosmic soul-shores of my being. —
A heated battle nears — and my own thinking
must battle with the thoughts of Lucifer;
within another soul my thinking fights. —
Hot light is wafted — out of fierce dark coldness. —
It flashes lightnings, this hot light of soul —
the light of soul — in cosmic fields of ice —
The memory of the experience that can be expressed in
such words as this can be rendered again in the words of Maria
mentioned above at the beginning of Scene Nine (“A star of
soul ...”). What, however, the soul has to feel in order to
have such a memory of the Cosmic Midnight must also lie in one's
earth life, for here the human soul goes through events which bring
to it the moods of inner anguish, inner resolve, inner dread, that
one can only express in such words given to Maria to speak at the end
of Scene Four. Indeed, one has to have felt that the individual self
tears itself away from what one generally calls the inner life; that
the power of thinking, with which one feels so confidently connected
in life, tears itself out of the inner being and seems to go off
towards the far, far limits of one's field of vision; and one must
have found alive in oneself as soul presence what is expressed in
such words — though naturally these will seem complete
nonsense, overflowing with contradictions, to the sort of
comprehension limited to the external senses and tied to the brain.
One must first have experienced the feeling of one's own self moving
away, of one' s thinking moving away, if one is to live through again
in complete calm the memory of the Cosmic Midnight. The memory during
earth life must be preceded by the experience of the Cosmic Midnight
in the spiritual life, if what is in Scene Nine should take place.
To make this possible, however, there must again have
been the soul mood expressed at the end of Scene Four. The flames do
in truth take flight; they do not come earlier into earthly
consciousness; they do not approach the calm of meditation, before
they have first fled away, until this soul mood has become a truth:
The flames are fleeing ... fleeing with my thinking;
And there at distant cosmic shores of soul
a furious battle ... my own thinking fights ...
at flowing nothingness — cold spirit light ...
my thinking wavers, reels ... cold light ...
it strikes out of my thinking flaming waves of darkness ...
what now emerges from the fierce, dark heat?
in red flames storms my Self ... into the light ...
into cold light ... of cosmic fields of ice.
These things are linked together; their
being connected in this way strengthens the inner soul faculties.
What at first was only an abstract soul force now steps before the
soul in a spiritual body, so that in one sense it is a special
entity, on the other hand it belongs to one's self, as Astrid and
Luna appear to Maria. These beings, who are real and at the same time
perceived as soul forces, appear in such a way that they can stand on
stage with the Guardian of the Threshold and with Benedictus as they
do in Scene Nine. The most important thing is to sense the mood of
this scene so that in a quite different, individual manner, when the
inner soul force corresponding to the Other Philia takes on bodily
form, an awakening takes place, that is, the memory of the Cosmic
Midnight and of the ancient Egyptian time in Johannes Thomasius. To
such a finely attuned soul as Johannes Thomasius the words of the
Other Philia: “Enchanted weaving of your own being...”
have a special meaning, as well as what is connected with them during
the rest of the Mystery Drama. Because of this, the Spirit of
Johannes' Youth, Benedictus and Lucifer appear as they do at the end
of Scene Ten. It is important to bring before the mind's eye in just
this scene how Lucifer approaches Johannes Thomasius and the same
words are spoken that were heard at the end of Scene Three in
The Guardian of the Threshold.
In these words one discovers
how the battle Lucifer wages moves through all the worlds and through
every human life, and one also discovers the mood that resounds out
of the words of Benedictus in answer to Lucifer. Try to feel what
lies in these words which sound from Lucifer both in
The Guardian of the Threshold
at the end of Scene Three and in
The Souls' Awakening
at the end of Scene Ten:
Lucifer: I mean to fight.
Benedictus: And fighting serve the gods.
Let us note very carefully something else
at this point, that although the same words are spoken in these two
places, they can be spoken so that in each place they mean something
quite different. What they mean at the end of Scene Ten of
The Souls' Awakening
is determined by the fact that the preceding
words of Maria are transformed from words spoken in
The Guardian of the Threshold,
while in Maria's soul there lives what
she had spoken:
Maria, as you have desired to see her,
does not exist in worlds of radiant truth.
My holy, solemn vow rays forth new strength
to hold for you what you have gained.
She says now:
You'll find me in bright fields of light ...
She no longer says:
And you will find me in cold fields of ice ...
You'll find me in bright fields of light
where glowing beauty brings forth powers of life.
Seek me in grounds of worlds where souls
must struggle to achieve their feeling for the gods
through love, which in the All beholds the Self.
The words are turned around from what they
are in Scene Two of
The Souls' Awakening.
It is through this that the dialogue between Lucifer and Benedictus at
the end of Scene Ten: “I mean to fight” —
“And fighting serve the gods,” becomes entirely
different from what it was at the end of Scene Three in
The Guardian of the Threshold.
In understanding this, light is shed on something of an ahrimanic thrust,
one can say, that prevails in all intellectual thinking, in the whole
intellectual culture of today.
It is one of the most difficult things for people with
this superficial faculty of intellect in our modern culture to
realize that the same words in a different context mean something
different. Modern civilization is such that people think that the
words they use — in so far as they have been coined on the
physical plane — must always mean the same thing. Here we have
precisely the place where Ahriman has people most firmly by the
throat, and where he hinders them from understanding that words only
become living in their deepest sense when one looks at them in the
connection in which they are uttered. Nothing that reaches out beyond
the physical plane can be understood if one does not keep this occult
fact in mind. It is especially important today that an occult fact of
this kind should work upon our hearts and souls as a counterbalance
to the external intellectual life that has taken firm hold of every
Among the many things that have to be
considered in these Mystery Dramas, notice how indeed in
The Souls' Awakening
the remarkable figure of Ahriman steals in
quietly at first,
( 4 )
how it seems to insinuate itself among the other
characters and how it continually gains in significance towards the
end of the drama. I shall endeavor to bring out for you a special
piece of writing about Lucifer and Ahriman, and other things as well,
The Threshold of the Spiritual World;
( 5 )
it will be on hand during this lecture course, for these seem to me the
subjects particularly necessary to illumine for our friends at this time.
It is not easy to get a clear understanding of such figures as Ahriman
and Lucifer. Perhaps it may be useful for some of you to observe how
The Souls' Awakening
he who is not quite in a fog
about the ahrimanic element in the world may be able to think of
things which someone else through unconscious ahrimanic impulses may
be thinking, too, but in a different frame of mind. There will be
many among you, dear friends, who can enter into all the
circumstances which stream into such words as those expressed by
Ahriman while he is insinuating himself among the various persons:
Do not permit him to confuse you quite.
He guards the threshold faithfully indeed,
although he shows himself in borrowed clothes
which you have patched together in your mind
from odds and ends that look like melodrama.
You as an artist could, of course, avoid
producing him in such a wretched style,
though later you will surely do it better.
But even his distorted image serves.
It does not need too much of emphasis
to show you what his present stature is.
You should take notes of how the Guardian speaks:
too mournful is his tone, too much of pathos. —
Forbid him this, and he will show to you
from whom today he borrows to excess.
( 6 )
I can imagine that many people — from
some aesthetic point of view or other — will shake their heads
at the way these Mystery Dramas are put before us. My dear friends,
these objections as well as others raised against anthroposophy can
be set aside by those who put themselves in the mood of Ahriman. The
hypercritical people of our time who denounce anthroposophy certainly
belong to those described by the poet: “The devil's never
noticed by some folk, even when he has them by the neck!” We
can judge these opponents of anthroposophy a bit by what Ahriman is
saying here while he prowls around. He meets us in his more serious
form when the death of Strader gradually plays into the events
presented in the drama; it comes about then that the forces flowing
out of this death must be sought by soul vision in the effect they
have on everything else that happens in
The Souls' Awakening.
It must be said again and again that this awakening
takes place in different ways. For Maria it happens that, through
special circumstances, the soul forces that find their
bodily-spiritual expression in Luna and Astrid appear before her
soul. For Johannes Thomasius it takes place when he experiences in
himself the enchanted weaving of his inner being, on the Other
Philia's appearance in a spiritually palpable form, if one may use
such an absurd expression. For Capesius it happens through Philia in
a still different way. In many other forms this awakening can
gradually dawn upon souls, for instance, as we see it dawn upon
Strader in Scene Eleven. Here we do not meet what we have just
described as the spiritually tangible forms of Luna, Philia, Astrid
and the Other Philia; we have the still imaginative pictures that
radiate spiritual experiences into the physical consciousness. This
stage of the awakening of the soul that takes place in Strader can be
represented only by such an imaginative perception as the image of
the ship in Scene Eleven.
In yet another form can the awakening of
the soul gradually prepare itself. You will find this, carefully
planned, after Ahriman has been shown in his deeper significance in
Scene Twelve: it is hinted at in Scene Thirteen in the conversation
between Hilary and Romanus. Let your mind's eye rest on what has been
happening in Hilary's soul between the events in
The Guardian of the Threshold
and those of
The Souls' Awakening,
expressed in these words of Hilary:
My friend, I thank you for these occult words.
I've heard them often; for the first time now
I feel the secret meaning they contain.
The cosmic ways are hard to penetrate.
And I, dear friend, am called upon to wait
until the spirit shows me the direction
which is in keeping with my spirit sight.
What are the words Romanus had spoken?
( 7 )
They are words
that Hilary has heard again and again from the place where Romanus
stands in the Temple, words that Romanus has so often spoken at this
place, yet until this experience, they had passed before the inner
vision of Hilary without the deeper understanding one can call
understanding of life. It is also a bit of soul awakening for someone
to wrestle his way to an understanding of what he has taken in as
thought-forms, grasping them pretty well and even lecturing about
them but still without having a living, vital understanding. He may
have absorbed everything of anthroposophy contained in books,
lectures and cycles, may have even imparted it to others, perhaps to
their great benefit, and yet discover this: to understand as now
Hilary understands the words of Romanus is only possible after a
certain experience for which he must calmly wait. This is a definite
stage of the awakening of the soul.
O if only a good number of our friends
could put themselves into this mood of waiting! If only they could
adopt this frame of mind, of awaiting the approach of something whose
description in advance both as theories and explanations has
apparently been clear enough and yet misunderstood — then
something would take place in their souls that is expressed by
Strader's words in Scene Three of
The Souls' Awakening.
Strader stands there between Felix Balde and Capesius, stands there in a
remarkable way — he stands there so that literally he hears
every word they say and could repeat it, and yet he cannot understand
it. He knows what it is, can even consider it to be wisdom, but now
he notices that there is something that can be expressed in the
Capesius and Felix, both ... to me ...
conceal dark meaning in transparent words ...
supremely clever people today will perhaps concede that by chance
this or that person can hide meaning — clear meaning — in
obscure words. However, it will not easily be granted by these clever
people that an obscure meaning can be hidden in clear words.
Nevertheless for human nature to concede that in clear words an
obscure meaning may be hidden is of the two the higher
acknowledgment. Many sciences are clear, as are many philosophies,
but something important would happen for the further evolution of
mankind if philosophers would finally confess that — although
in all philosophical systems they had certainly produced stuff that
was clear and ever clearer, so that anyone could say, “These
things are clear!” — yet there may be in clear words an
obscure meaning. Something important would take place if the many
people who think themselves supremely clever, reckoning what they
know to be wisdom (and to some degree rightly so), if they could only
place themselves before the world as Strader places himself between
Felix Balde and Capesius and learn to say:
I often understood — what you are saying; —
I took it then for wisdom; — but no word
of what you say has meaning for me now.
Capesius and Felix, both — to me —
conceal dark meaning in transparent words.
Just imagine some modern philosopher or one from the
past, who has brought together in his own way a plausible clear
system of philosophy, and who will take a stand by the side of his
philosophy (which is of course in its own way the result of all human
thought), saying, “I've usually found this comprehensible.
Everything I've written I've taken for wisdom — and yet not a
single word in all these phrases can I understand. Even in those I
wrote myself, much of it is incomprehensible: these pronouncements
seem to hide a dark meaning in clear words.”
Well, one cannot easily imagine such a
confession coming from one of our recent or slightly older
philosophers, nor from one of the highly clever men of our
materialistic, or as it's called in more grandiose style, our
monistic age either. And yet it would be a blessing for our present
life if people could assume the attitude towards the thoughts and
other cultural achievements that Strader assumed towards Felix Balde
and Capesius. If only such people might become more and more
numerous, and if only anthroposophy could in very truth contribute
something directly to this self-knowledge!