Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom
On-line since: 31st October, 2008
Seven lectures were put together to form
this volume, GA 275 (of the Complete German Edition), and the
lecture of 31st December 1914 entitled ‘Cosmic New
Year’ taken from GA 158 has also been included, because
it belongs to this series of lectures. The title of this
Art in the Light of Mystery Wisdom
by Marie Steiner in 1928 to a set of publications in which
she also published the two lectures entitled, ‘Impulses
of Transformation for the Artistic Evolution of Man’.
The basic content of the preface introducing that set of
publications warrants it also being used in this edition.
Rudolf Steiner published in the Gesamtausgabe
(Complete Edition) are given in the references according to
the bibliographical number and year of publication of the
latest edition. See the survey at the end of this book.
Art as Seen in. the Light of Mystery Wisdom:
In the set of publications, the
following eight lectures were published in six numbers:
I. ‘Impulses of Transformation for the Artistic
Evolution of Mankind’,
29th and 30th December 1914 (in the present volume);
II. ‘The Supersensible Origin of the Artistic’,
Dornach, 12th September 1920
(in Kunst und Kunsterkenntnis,
Bibl. No. 271, GA 1961);
III. ‘Human Utterance through Tone and Word’,
Dornach, 2nd December 1922 (in
Das Wesen des Musikalischen und das Tonerlebnis im Menschen,
Bibl. No. 283, GA 1975);
IV. ‘Truth, Beauty, and Goodness’,
Dornach, 19th January 1923 (in
Bibl. No. 220, GA 1966);
V. ‘The Realisation of Tone in the Human Being’,
7th March 1923
8th March 1923
(in Bibl. No. 283, GA 1975);
VI. ‘The World of the Hierarchies and the World of Tone’,
Dornach, 16th March 1923 (in Bibl. No. 222, GA 1976).
Numbers VII, VIII and IX followed later with Rudolf
Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1983.
motifs for the etchings: Rudolf
Steiners Entwürfe für die Glasfenster des
Goetheanum (Rudolf Steiner's Designs for the Glass
Windows of the Goetheanum), GA 1961.
These lectures: Wie bekommt man
das Sein in die Ideenwelt hinein?
(How do we bring Being into the World of Ideas?),
four lectures of 12th-20th December 1914 in volume
Okkultes Lesen und okkultes Hören
(Occult Reading and Occult Hearing),
Bibl. No. 156, GA 1967.
at the beginning of the fifth
post-Atlantean epoch: 1413. See Rudolf Steiner's
Occult Science, an Outline,
‘Future Evolution of the World and of Mankind’,
Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1979.
lecture cycle in Munich:
Secrets of the Threshold, lecture VI,
Anthroposophical Publishing Co., London 1928.
On one occasion: On 3rd
October 1914, towards the end of the first lecture on
Occult Reading and Occult Hearing, Rudolf
Steiner Press, London 1975.
Clermont's synod: convened
by Pope Urban II in 1095. Here the decision was taken
for the First Crusade.
our Goetheanum building:
Laying of foundation stone 20th September 1913. Burning
of the Goetheanum, 31st December 1922.
three threefold organisations:
see diagram p. 49 in
Kunst im Lichte der Mysterienweisheit,
You will remember: see
‘Technology and Art’,
p. 5 et seq. of this volume.
Englert: Joseph Englert,
engineer and overseer of the first Goetheanum.
The Dream Song:
Draumkvaedet, see collection Norske
Folkeviser, edited by Thorwald Lammers, Kristiania
1910, by Aschehoug & Co.
Steiner spoke about the Norwegian Dream Song of Olaf
Asteson on 1st January 1912, 7th January 1913 and 31st
December 1914, and his talks were always accompanied by
Marie Steiner-von Sivers reciting the Dream Song. These
three lectures or addresses were put together as a
volume and published in 1958 as an enlarged new edition
of the lecture ‘Cosmic New Year’. Ingeborg
Möller-Lindholm, the Norwegian poetess
(1878–1964), drew Rudolf Steiner's attention to
the old legend, and it is largely due to her initiative
that this extraordinary folk epic has acquired such an
important place in the anthroposophical movement.
Through her help we are in a position to include in
this edition the notes she made of her conversation
with Rudolf Steiner. We have also included in the
references, several points from a lecture Ingeborg
Möller-Lindholm gave on the Dream Song of Olaf
Asteson, which she kindly put at our disposal in
translation, and which we have attributed
Notes on the Dream Song by
IngeborgMöller-Lindholm of Lillehammer
1910 Dr Steiner held a cycle of lectures in Oslo entitled
The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls in Relation to Teutonic Mythology.
As I lived in
Oslo and had a large room at my disposal, I invited to
tea about forty anthroposophical friends who had come
to Oslo for this occasion. Dr Steiner and Frau Marie
Steiner had also agreed to come. I asked Dr Steiner the
previous day whether he could tell us something about
the unusual Norwegian folk epic, ‘The Dream Song
of Olaf Åsteson’. Rudolf Steiner smiled
amiably and said he would first have to have read or
heard it. I saw the point of this. Then he himself made
the suggestion that he should arrive the next day an
hour before the other guests, so that I could read the
song to him and make a rough translation. And that is
read it to him, Dr Steiner sat with his eyes closed and
listened intently. He was obviously deeply affected by
the unusual content of the song. After tea the Dream
Song was read out in Norwegian by a member of the
Society, whereupon Dr Steiner gave a short but moving
lecture on the song. In particular he dwelt on the fact
that these events took place during the time of the
twelve holy nights when extraterrestrial influences are
at their strongest. He also gave special mention to the
name of Olaf Asteson. Olaf or Olcifr means the
‘one left behind’ after his predecessors
have gone. He is the one who passes on the blood of the
father of the generations. Ast means love; so he is
‘the Son of Love’.
Steiner asked me to translate the song into German. He
himself did not know Norwegian, let alone the old
dialect in which the Dream Song had been written down,
and which was difficult even for modern Norwegians. To
begin with I made the excuse that I did not have a
sufficient command of the German language to convey the
wonderful musical rhythm. Dr Steiner said that did not
matter, I should just translate the song literally word
for word, so that he could get an exact picture of the
content. I did this in the course of the autumn and
sent him the translation, which was very prosaic and in
many respects extremely inadequate. Later on Rudolf
Steiner put the song into its own characteristic
rhythms and gave several lectures on it. It was also
used for eurythmic presentation, especially at
Steiner told me in 1913 that I should not think that
Olaf the Saint was the original Olaf
Åsteson. (St. Olaf, a Norwegian king, died in 1035
at the battle of Stiklestad, championing the cause of
Christendom.) There had been several people with the
name of ‘Olaf Åsteson’, said Dr
Steiner. It was a kind of mystery title.
Steiner was in Norway again after the First World War,
in 1921 and 1923. On these occasions he stayed with
engineer Ingero. Mrs Ragnhild Ingero, who died a few
years ago, told me that Dr Steiner had talked to her
about the Dream Song. He had meanwhile gone into it
further and discovered new things. One of these was
that the song was much older than people believed. It
originated about 400 AD. At that time there was a
great Christian initiate in this country. He founded a
mystery school in Southern Norway; the place was not
mentioned. His mystery name was Olaf Asteson, and the
song describes his initiation. Originally, so Dr
Steiner says, the song was much longer and had twelve
sections, one for each sign of the zodiac. The song
describes Olaf Asteson's journey through the whole
zodiac and what he saw and experienced there. Today we
only have fragments of the original song. The aforesaid
mystery school continued into the early Middle Ages.
The leader was always called Olaf Åsteson
Steiner said that in course of time he would publish
these facts and other important things connected with
the song. However he did not want to do this until he
had found certain external proofs of his findings. He
thought he would be able to find these . But the
burning of the Goetheanum, excessive work and finally
illness and death prevented this intention being
realised. Now these indications are all we have.
given much thought to these findings of Dr Steiner's
and have come to the conclusion that this mystery
school was possibly in Skiringssal. This place is or
rather was in Vestfold, a region in south-western
Norway. In old legends it has always been described as
a holy place. Vikings who died on foreign soil wished
to be buried in Skiringssal. There was also a
kaupang there (market). Archaeologists are
excavating things at present which they assume to be
remains of this market. Up to now, though, nobody has
been able to prove conclusively where Skiringssal is.
At the time of the mystery school it lay on the coast;
however loam deposits have now ‘pushed’ the
place further inland. Skiringssal means ‘The Hall
of Purification’. Skim means baptism or
purification (old Norwegian)
did the first Olaf Asteson come from? It has been
historically proved that Irish-Scottish monks were in
this country long before Christianity was officially
introduced. According to legend, Joseph of Arimathea
came to the British Isles as early as the first century
AD, and began his missionary work there. There have
been mystery centres in Ireland since very early times.
The tribes on the neighbouring islands were heathen.
The Irish-Scottish Church, also called the Culdee
Church, arose as a result of the confluence of the work
of the Christian missionaries and ancient Druid wisdom.
It flourished in many places as early as 300 to 400 AD.
There were churches, schools and monasteries, despite
the fact that these were always under attack from
powerful heathen tribes of the neighbourhood. Many
priests and monks died a martyr's death. This Culdee
Church was based in particular on the Gospel of St.
John and the preaching of the apostle John. It was like
the first communities of Christians and contrasted
strongly with the Petrine or Roman Catholic Church. But
the latter was victorious. The Culdee Church was
destroyed and dissolved in the year 664 AD. It sent a
lot of missionaries to various European countries both
before and after being externally destroyed. This
Church was definitely of an esoteric nature.
Many things suggest that the first Olaf Asteson was a
representative of this spiritual stream.
‘Among these Norwegian people, who still possess
many things in their popular tongue that
approach very closely the threshold of occult secrets,
possibilities existed for souls to remain connected
longer with everything living and working behind outer
material phenomena,’ said Rudolf Steiner in his
lecture on Olaf Asteson in Berlin on 7th January 1913, in
Der Zusammenhang des Menschen mit der elementarischen Welt
(Man's Connection with the Elemental World),
GA 158, 1970.
Gjallar Bridge: This bridge
spans the mystical River Gjöll, which separates
the realms of the spiritual world. (I.M.)
The spirit snake he struck at
me: Olaf goes on to tell of his journey over the
zodiac . It is particularly obvious here that a large
part of the song is missing, as Landstad also says in
his commentaries. The only constellation that is
mentioned is the Dog (Canis major), although
this constellation is outside the zodiac and the Snake
(Serpens) also. But the Bull (Taurus)
is a sign of the zodiac that has significance for him.
After he has journeyed through the zodiac Olaf is
prompted to take a different path and goes along the
Milky Way (Vintergaten). There is an old
belief that the Milky Way leads to Paradise, the realm
of the blessed. (I M.)
‘Brooksvalin’ is a strange old word that
Landstrad translates as ‘the forecourt of
oppression’. It follows from the song that Olaf
now returns to the zodiac and goes into the sign of the
Scales. (I M.)
Led by the Prince of Hell:
Grutte Graubart-Ahriman. (IM.)
And weighed the souls of
men: Everywhere where Christianity had spread
there were pictures of Michael holding a scales in one
hand. In the other he often had a lance or a sword with
which he is piercing the dragon. He is presented like
this in innumerable church paintings and sculptures, as
also on the north portal of the Cathedral Church in
Drontheim. At this point the epic part of the song is
virtually over, though a few verses follow in which
Olaf preaches to his fellow men in the manner of the
Holy Scriptures: ‘They shall rest from their
labours, yet their deeds will follow them.’ M.B.
Landstad, a well-known Norwegian psalm writer, was told
that the song had been used for the death watch in the
past. The song was to help the soul at the start of its
journey in the other world. (I.M.)
Concerning this lecture of
1st January 1915:
Lecture notes were available for
this publication which were not known of previously.
Therefore there has been some alterations compared with
the first edition of 1935.
first Mystery Play:
The Portal of Initiation, scene VIII.
In Four Mystery Plays,
Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1983.
The Soul's Awakening:
Fourth Mystery Play.
already in print:
The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls in Relation to Teutonic Mythology,
Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1970.
Goethe himself relates: in
the annals of 1790 and in the essay Bedeutendes
Fördernis durch ein einziges gestreiches Wort
(Significant Help by Means of One Clever Word).
from cycle to cycle: ‘Cycles’
being the terminology for series of lectures for
members of the Anthroposophical Society, and published
in their native German in the Rudolf Steiner
Last Modified: 22-May-2020
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by: