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FOUNDATIONS AT THE PERIPHERY:
RUDOLF STEINER'S OBSERVATIONS ON STAR KNOWLEDGE
21 Jan. 1914
[Detailed development of the twelve world-outlooks summarized below. The adoption of any of these outlooks is more dependent upon individual karma than on their exclusive truthfulness:
Materialism: Sole belief in the crudest impressions, valid for the material world and its laws.
Spiritism: Sole belief that material reality is only illusion and that all genuine reality is found only in the Spirit.
Realism: Sole belief in what can be perceived and thought about as the external world.
Idealism: Sole belief in ideas manifesting through reality and giving it purpose.
Mathematism: Sole belief in the mathematical ordering of reality.
Rationalism: Sole belief in the ideas discovered in external reality.
Psychism: Sole belief in the need for ideas to be embodied in beings to be real.
Pneumatism: Sole belief that beings with ideas need to embody an active spirit able to do things.
Monadism: Sole belief in abstract spiritual monads with varying powers of perception.
Dynamism: Sole belief in the power of external and internal forces in reality.
Phenomenalism: Sole belief in sensual phenomena as representing a world of appearance to be thought over.
Sensationalism: Sole belief in sensual phenomena as the basic reality, with thought a mere addition.] (67, pp. 30-39, précis by RSWB))
22 Jan. 1914
We had better arrange the twelve world-outlooks in the form of a circle (Materialism, Sensationalism, Phenomenalism, Realism, Dynamism, Monadism, Spiritism, Pneumatism, Psychism, Idealism, Rationalism and Mathematism) , and quietly observe them. They are possible, and one must know them. They really stand in such a relation to one another that they form a mental copy of the Zodiac with which we are now so well acquainted. As the sun apparently passes through the Zodiac, and as other planets do the same, so it is possible for the human soul to pass through a mental circle which embraces twelve world-pictures. Indeed, one can even bring the characteristics of these pictures into connection with the individual signs of the Zodiac, and this is in no wise arbitrary, for between the individual signs of the Zodiac and the Earth there really is a connection similar to that between the twelve world-outlooks and the human soul. I mean this in the following sense.
We could not say that there is an easily understandable relation between, e.g. the sign Aries and the Earth. But when the Sun, Saturn, or Mercury are so placed that from the Earth they are seen in the sign Aries, then the influence is different from what it is when they are seen in the sign Leo. Thus the effect which comes to us out of the cosmos from the different planets varies according as the individual planets stand in one or other of the Zodiacal signs. In the case of the human soul, it is even easier to recognise the effects of these twelve 'mental-zodiacal-signs'. There are souls who have the tendency to receive a given influence on their inner life, on their scientific, philosophic or other mental proclivities, so that their souls are open to be illuminated, as it were, by Idealism. Other souls are open to be shone upon by Materialism, others by Sensationalism. A man is not a Sensationalist, Materialist, Spiritist or Pneumatist because this or that world-outlook is - and can be seen to be - correct, but because his soul is so conditioned that it is predominantly influenced by the respective mental-zodiacal sign. Thus in the twelve mental-zodiacal signs we have something that can lead us to a deep insight into the way in which human world-outlooks arise, and can help us to see far into the reasons why, on the one hand, men dispute about world-outlooks, and why, on the other hand, they ought not to dispute but would do much better to understand why it happens that people have different world-outlooks. How, in spite of this, it may be necessary for certain epochs to strongly oppose the trend of this or the other world-outlook, we shall have to explain in the next lecture. What I have said so far refers to the moulding of human thought by the spiritual cosmos of the twelve zodiacal signs, which form as it were our spiritual horizon.
One can be a Gnostic in connection with all twelve world-outlook signs. Hence, if we want to put Gnosis in its right place, we must draw a circle, and the whole circle signifies that the Gnosis can move around through all the twelve world-outlook signs. Just as a planet goes through all twelve signs of the Zodiac, so can the Gnosis pass through the twelve world-outlook signs. Certainly, the Gnosis will render the greatest service for the healing of souls when the Gnostic frame of mind is applied to Spiritism. One might say that Gnosis is thoroughly at home in Spiritism. That is its true home. In the other world-outlook signs it is outside its home.
The special mark of Logicism consists in its enabling the soul to connect thoughts, concepts and ideas with one another. Logicism is again something that passes like a planet through the twelve zodiacal signs.
The forces of nature, the hardness of a stone, have this character for him; the whole of reality is a manifestation of will. This outlook can once more be regarded as a planet which passes through all twelve zodiacal signs. I will call this world-outlook, Voluntarism.
Through all twelve constellations one can be an empiricist, a man with a world-conception based on experience. Empiricism is the fourth psychic mood which can go through all twelve constellations.
But when the soul has become quiet and seeks inwardly for the divine Light, this soul-mood can be called Mysticism.
Again, one can be a mystic through all the twelve mental constellations.
Now the soul may be so attuned that it cannot become aware of what may arise from within itself and appear as the real inner solution to the riddle of the universe. A person who takes this standpoint is a Transcendentalist - perhaps that is the best word for it. He accepts that the essence of a thing is transcendent, but that it does not enter into the soul - hence, 'Transcendentalism', The Transcendentalist has the feeling: 'When I perceive things, their nature approaches me; but I do not perceive it. It hides behind, but it approaches me."
We should be Transcendentalists if we said: 'The world is spread out all around us, and this world everywhere proclaims its essential being.' This we do not say. We say: 'This world is Maya, and one must seek the inner being of things by another way than through external sense-perception and the ordinary means of cognition.' 'Occultism'! The psychic mood of Occultism!
Again, we can be an Occultist through all the mental-zodiacal signs. One can even be a thorough Occultist of Materialism. Yes, the rationally-minded scientists of the present day are all occultists of materialism, for they talk of 'atoms'. But if they are not irrational it will never occur to them to declare that with any kind of 'method' one can come to the atom. The atom remains in the occult. It is only that they do not like to be called 'Occultists', but they are so in the fullest sense of the word.
Apart from the seven world-outlooks I have drawn here there can be no others - only transitions from one to another. Thus we must not only distinguish twelve various shades of world-outlook which are at rest round the circle, so to speak, but we must recognise that in each of the shades a quite special mood of the human soul is possible. From this you can see how immensely varied are the outlooks open to human personalities. One can specially cultivate each of these seven world-outlook moods, and each of them can exist in one or other shade.
What I have just depicted is actually the spiritual correlative of what we find externally in the world as the relations between the signs of the Zodiac and the planets, the seven planets familiar in Spiritual Science. Thus we have an external picture (not invented, but standing out there in the cosmos) for the relations of our seven world-outlook-moods to our twelve shades of world-outlook. We shall have the right feeling for this picture if we contemplate it in the following manner.
Let us begin with Idealism, and let us mark it with the mental-zodiacal sign of Aries; in like manner let us mark Rationalism as Taurus, Mathematicism as Gemini, Materialism as Cancer, Sensationalism as Leo, Phenomenalism as Virgo, Realism as Libra, Dynamism as Scorpio, Monadism as Sagittarius, Spiritism as Capricorn, Pneumatism as Aquarius, and Psychism as Pisces. The relations which exist spatially between the individual zodiacal signs are actually present between these shades of world-outlook in the realm of spirit. And the relations which are entered into by the planets, as they follow their orbits through the Zodiac, correspond to the relations which the seven world-outlook-moods enter into, so that we can feel Gnosticism as Saturn, Logicism as Jupiter, Voluntarism as Mars, Empiricism as Sun, Mysticism as Venus, Transcendentalism as Mercury, and Occultism as Moon.
The effect is specially good when a person has experienced, by way of exercises, the various Psychic moods Occultism, Transcendentalism, Mysticism, Empiricism, Voluntarism, Logicism, Gnosis - so that he can conjure them up in his mind and feel all their effects at once, and can then place all these moods together in the constellation of Phenomenalism, in Virgo. Then there actually comes before him a phenomena, and with a quite special magnificence, that which can be unveiled for him in a remarkable way as the content of his world-picture. When, in the same way, the individual world-outlook-moods are brought one after another in relation to another constellation, then it is not so good. Hence in many ancient Mystery-schools, just this mood, with all the soul-planets standing in the spiritual constellation of Virgo, was induced in the pupils because it was through this that they could most easily fathom the world.
But there is one more thing. These world-pictures they have many nuances if you reckon all their combinations are modified yet again by possessing quite definite tones. But we have only three tones to distinguish.
These three psychic tones are reflected in the cosmos, and their relation to one another in the soul of man is exactly like that of Sun, Moon and Earth, so that Theism corresponds to the Sun - the Sun being here considered as a fixed star - Intuitionism to the Moon, and Naturalism to the Earth. If we transpose the entities here designated as Sun, Moon and Earth into the Spiritual, then a man who goes beyond the phenomena of the world and says: 'When I look around, then God, Who fills the world, reveals Himself to me in everything.' or a man who stands up when he comes into the rays of the sun - they are Theists. A man who is content to study the details of natural phenomena, without going beyond them, and equally a man who pays no attention to the sun but only to its effects on the earth - he is a Naturalist. A man who seeks for the best, guided by his intuitions - he is like the poet whose soul is stirred by the mild silvery glance of the moon to sing its praises.
Lastly there is a special thing. It occurs only in a single case, when a person, taking all the world-pictures to some extent, restricts himself only to what he can experience on or around or in himself. That is Anthropomorphism. (67, pp. 41-54)
23 Jan. 1914
Let us suppose that a person so lives in the world that among his natural predispositions we find the special forces through which he is influenced by the world-outlook of Idealism. We will say that he makes his world-outlook into a dominating factor in his inner life, so that the soul-mood which I designated yesterday as Mysticism, and called the Venus mood, flows towards Idealism and is nourished by its powers. Hence, if one speaks in the symbols of astrology, one would say that the spiritual constellation of such a man, according to his natural predispositions, is that Venus stands in Aries.
I remark expressly, so that no misunderstanding may arise, that these constellations are of much greater importance in the life of a person than the constellations of the external horoscope, and do not necessarily coincide with the 'nativity' - the external horoscope. For the enhanced influence which is exerted on the soul by this standing of Mysticism in the sign of Idealism waits for the propitious moment when it can lay hold of the soul most fruitfully. Such influences need not assert themselves just at the time of birth; they can do so before birth, or after it. In short, they await the point of time when these predispositions can best be built into the human organism, according to its inner configuration.
Hence the ordinary astrological 'nativity' does not come into account here. But one can say: A certain soul is by nature such that, spiritually speaking, Venus stands in Aries - Mysticism in the sign of Idealism. Now the forces which arise in this way do not remain constant throughout life. They change - that is, the person comes under other influences, under other spiritual signs and also under other moods of soul. Let us suppose that a man so changes that in the course of his life he comes into the soul-mood of Empiricism; that Mysticism has moved on, as it were, into Empiricism, and Empiricism stands in the sign of Rationalism. You see, as I drew it in the preceding lecture, going from inwards outwards in the symbolic picture, that Empiricism stands in relation to Mysticism as does the Sun to Venus. With regard to its mood the soul has progressed to Empiricism and has at the same time placed itself in the sign of Rationalism. The result is that such a soul changes its world-picture. What the soul formerly produced, perhaps as a specially strong personality in the time when in its case Mysticism stood in the sign of Idealism, this will pass over into another nuance of world-outlook. What the soul asserts and says will be different when in this way its world-outlook -mood has passed over from Mysticism to Empiricism, and the latter has placed itself in the sign of Rationalism. However, from what I have now explained, you can gather that human souls can have an inclination to change the sign and mood of their world-outlook. For these souls the tendency to change is already given. Let us suppose that such a soul wants to carry this tendency further in life. It wants to swing forward from Empiricism to the next soul-mood, i.e. to Voluntarism; and if it wants to swing forward also in the zodiacal signs, then it will come into Mathematism. It would then pass over to a world-outlook which in this symbolic picture leads away at an angle of 60* from the first line, where Mysticism stood in the sign of Idealism; and such a soul, in the course of the same incarnation, would bring to expression a mathematical world-structure permeated by and based upon the will.
And now I ask you to notice how I work out this matter. It will be seen that two such constellations as are here present in the soul disturb each other in the course of time; they influence each other unfavourably when they are at an angle of 60* with regard to each other. In physical astrology this is a favourable constellation; in spiritual astrology this so-called sextile aspect is unfavourable. We can see this because this last position - Voluntarism in Mathematism - comes up against a severe hindrance in the soul. The soul is not able to develop, because it cannot find anything to lay hold of, since the person in question has no natural gift for Mathematism.
This is how the unfavourable character of the sextile aspect expresses itself. Hence this configuration, Voluntarism in the sign of Mathematism, cannot establish itself. The consequence is that the soul does not try to move forward in this way. But because it cannot take the path to Voluntarism in Mathematism, it turns away from the configuration it now has - Empiricism in Rationalism - and seeks an outlet by placing itself in opposition to the direction it cannot take. Such a soul, accordingly, would not swing forward to Voluntarism in the direction of Mathematism, but would place itself with Voluntarism in opposition to its Empiricism. The result is that Voluntarism would stand in opposition to Rationalism in the sign of Dynamism. And in the course of its life, such a soul would have as its possible configuration one in which it would defend a world-outlook based on a special pressing in of forces, of Dynamism permeated by will - a will that wants to effect its purpose by force. In spiritual astrology things are again different from what they are in spiritual astrology; in physical astrology 'opposition' has a quite different significance. Here, 'opposition' is brought about by the soul being unable to proceed further along an unfavourable path; it veers around to the opposing configuration.
One can go through with the upper configurations if one is able, owing to external circumstances, to place oneself in the world in a corresponding way. The configurations below the line from Idealism to Realism can be sustained only if one dives down into the spiritual world - a thing Nietzsche could not do. By `placing oneself externally in the world' I mean placing by means of education, by means of external conditions; they come into account for all that lies above the line running from Idealism to Realism. Meditative life, a life devoted to the study and understanding of Spiritual Science, comes into account for all that lies below the line. (67, pp. 57-61)
9 Apr. 1914
If we gain still more inner power and enter into further out-of-body experience of the inner life, something arises in us which in ordinary physical life is our will impulse. When the life of the will thus reveals itself we feel as if we were not merely in a stellar system, but in the sun of that stellar system. We feel at one with the sun of our individual planetary system. We might say that when we have inner experience of the astral body we know ourselves to be at one with our individual planetary system; when we experience ourselves outside the body with the ego, we know ourselves to be at one with the sun of our stellar system, with everything turning and tending towards this sun.
Looking back on ourselves when we are no longer inside but outside ourselves - anything that is outside us when we are in the physical body will be inside us when we are outside that body, and everything that is inside us when we are in the body will be outside when we are out of the body - something else presents itself. We realize why our body had to come into existence in the physical world and must in turn pass away. We become aware that spiritual powers and entities guide the growth and development of the human body and that others again destroy it. We also realize that our coming into being in, and passing away from the physical world has crystallized in something quite specific, for we know it to be fundamentally connected with the skeletal system. When the skeletal system is built into the human physical body, the verdict is pronounced on the form in which human beings experience birth and death in the physical world. The way in which the skeletal system is crystallized and takes form in them determines the way in which they come into existence and pass away again. We realize that we could not be what we are in physical existence if the whole world had not joined forces to harden our physical nature to the point where it confronts us in the skeletal system. In this system - strange as it may seem - we come to revere the universal powers that rule the cosmos, powers which find their representation in all the spiritual entities concentrated in the life of the sun. We come to recognize that the skeletal system as the ground plan of the human being with its outline is traced in the world order, and we realize that our other physical organs are, in a way, suspended from it.
Clairvoyant vision of the inner world which has become outside world thus ends in a vision of the human skeleton seen from outside, which is the symbol of death. For in the final instance clairvoyance leads to the realization that the spiritual worlds have, as it were, created an external physical symbol for themselves; we also realize that these are the worlds to which we truly belong in our inner being. We have entered these worlds by going out of the body, and this has shown us our true nature. Another thing we realize at this fourth stage is that when we act in the world, when we unfold our will, this is an inner power which acts unconsciously on the physical plane, a power we only come to know at this point. We now realize that when we take a single step forward, using the mechanics of the skeletal system, cosmic forces are involved in the process, and we only find ourselves truly in these forces when we experience our inner nature at this fourth stage outside the body.
Think of someone going for a walk, moving his limbs with the aid of skeletal mechanisms. The individual imagines he is doing this simply to suit himself. But it needed the whole world to provide the powers which enable us to use the mechanisms of the skeletal system for taking a walk, and the whole world had to be filled with the divine and spiritual forces which we only get to know when we have reached this fourth stage. The divine and spiritual cosmos lives in every step we take. We may think it is we ourselves who put one foot before the other, but we would not be able to do so if we did not live in the spiritual cosmos, the divine world.
As long as we are in our physical bodies we use our eyes to look all around us and we see the mineral world, the plant world, the animal world; we see mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes, clouds, sun, moon and stars. All these have an inner reality which we enter into only when we live outside the body in the way I have described. Then we know the spiritual essence that is hidden behind the radiant sun, the shining stars, behind mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes and clouds, and we know that it lives in the mechanics by which we move our bones. All this must be present.
We then also understand more clearly what we experienced at the third stage. Just as the will is closely connected with the skeletal mechanism, so are our feelings closely connected with the muscular system, which is a symbolical expression of the system of feelings. It needs the planetary system to build the kind of muscles we have, muscles which can be extended and contracted and in turn operate the mechanics of the skeletal system. We gain knowledge of the planetary system as we become conscious of being in the astral body. The whole planetary system lives in our muscles, just as the whole cosmos lives in the skeletal mechanics. (133, pp. 70-73)
4 Oct. 1914
"Whenever , on the physical plane, we want to get to know something, we have to look at it from many different sides, from many standpoints; we have to go around it. In the spiritual world this must become a reality. Not only must we go around it with our whole being, we must so divide our being that we create a periphery around what we perceive. Every time there is a real spiritual perception, a spiritual periphery of this kind has been created. And only because those Divine Beings whom we have learnt to know as the higher Hierarchies have done this on a vast scale, has the Zodiac appeared.
Inasmuch as the Gods did this and consolidated it into a gigantic plan, our world-system arose. Whereas we, in our single acts of clairvoyance create something transitory which naturally passes away again when the clairvoyance is over. (27, pg. 41)
6 Oct. 1914
If, for instance, through seership, I want to approach a human being who is living between death and a new birth, then - I am not speaking of myself here but quite generally, of one who has seership and is seeking for a dead soul - I have this feeling: 'The dead is there, together with me!' So far as the time element is concerned I can seek him just as on the physical plane I can seek another human being who is contemporary...it is only a matter of finding the way to him. When we seek one who is dead, this idea is also quite correct. In a certain sense it is still correct when it is a question of finding a Being of the Hierarchy of Angeloi. But it is no longer correct if we are seeking for a Being of the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, because such a Being has concentrated his consciousness at a time that is not our present time.
Suppose this line represents the flow of time. If the seer lives at this point, 1914, and is seeking a dead soul of a Being of the rank of the Angeloi, he finds that Being somewhere in the spiritual world at the same point of time. But this does not succeed if we are trying, for instance, to find a certain Being of the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi. In this case we have to transcend time, to overcome the principle of synchronism. In order to find a certain Archangelos we must go back, for example, to the fifteenth century. His influence, it is true, rays over into our own epoch but here we have merely the influence, we do not find the Archangelos in his own real identity. Other Archangeloi must be sought for at different points. We have to go beyond time. It is a difficult conception but we have to reach it. To find the Archangeloi we must not remain in the present; we must go out of time and seek for the beginnings of epochs.
And as regards the Primal Beginnings, the Spirits of Personality, the Archai, we find them only by going back to the middle of the Lemurian epoch, when the Earth was at the beginning of its physical evolution. There we find the Archai in their essential nature.
"When, therefor, a man no longer lives only in himself, no longer even in the Space and Time known to him as a physical being, but when he has 'taken Space to his body' and 'Time to his soul' - mark this well for its full meaning only dawns upon us gradually... he then experiences something that is not an abstract feeling in spirituality generality, but a living weaving and working in a cosmic existence full of meaning. (27, pp. 61-64)
31 Oct. 1914
What were the characteristic features of Egypto-Chaldean civilization? They had a feeling for the great, cosmic astrology. Stars and constellations were not seen the way we see them today. Instead, spiritual entities were perceived and the constellations were seen as their physical exterior. The spiritual was seen in everything. [If repeated as a mission after the Mystery of Golgotha (e.g. through the Italian-Spanish nations) then: The great cosmic tableau seen by the Egyptians and Chaldeans now presents itself as though born anew out of the soul. This is nowhere more evident than in Dante's Divina Comedia . . . (87, pp. 17-18, précis by RSWB)
21 Nov. 1914
It is nevertheless the case that in all human perception a symmetry comes to expression, a right-and-left symmetry. Had he not two ears, two eyes, and two noses, man would not attain to the perception of his I or Ego. Every time we make a sense perception, we perceive the world from two sides, from left and from right. Everything comes, from left and right, up to this line of incision. We, my dear friends, are ourselves actually in this plane. We are not beings extended in space, we are surface beings, that come about through the crossing of the impulse from the left with the impulse from the right.
Whence then has man this form and figure? He has it because he stands in the midst of a battle. A being from the left is fighting in man with a being from the right. Our existence as a double being arises from the fact that the Luciferic being is fighting in us from the left and the Ahrimanic being from the right.
And the whole art of life consists in finding the true balance between them. As narrow as - no, narrower than - the blade of a knife is the space that is left us in the middle, where we have to play our part.
Now the working of Lucifer and Ahriman is not the same in all parts of the human organism, and it is interesting to observe its gradation. Beginning from the head, we find that there Lucifer and Ahriman have thrown up fairly equal fortifications; the left and right halves of the head are very similar. ...and because the left and right halves of the head are so similar in form, Lucifer and Ahriman spring back from one another, and in between them man is able to develop a quiet surface activity. Thinking, pure thought as such, is very little disturbed by Lucifer and Ahriman; because in the head they recoil from one another.
When, however, we follow the form of man further down, we find a change. On one side Lucifer works powerfully and builds up the stomach, on the other side Ahriman does the same and builds up the liver. These two - stomach and liver - are perpetually waging war one against the other, and physiology would do well to study the conflict. And if the heart of man tends to lean a little over towards the left, then that is an expression of the fact that Lucifer from one side and Ahriman from the other are trying each to grasp something for himself. And even in man, when we attain to clairvoyant knowledge it becomes clear to us that there are two distinct halves. For no sooner have we suggested away the physical body, than we find that the left half grows brighter and clearer than the right half. The left half is all shining and gleaming with radiant light, and the right half is wrapped in darkness and gloom.
Let us go on, then, to consider how man stands in space with a forward and backward orientation, looking before and behind. From behind Ahriman thrusts forward his activity and from in front Lucifer thrusts forward his activity in opposition. Ahriman comes only as far as the plane which can be drawn through the spinal column, and Lucifer as far as the plane which can be drawn through the breast bone, where the ribs end and meet. There they stand and fight - not at close quarters, but as though shooting at one another across the intervening space. And there stand we in the midst of the fight. Thus, in respect of the direction before and behind, man is a being that has space.
In the left-right direction the fight between Lucifer and Ahriman is waged principally in the sphere of thought. Cosmic thoughts and cosmic forms of thought impinge on one another here on the human surface in the middle. In the direction before and behind, Lucifer and Ahriman do battle more in the realm of feeling. And since here the opposing forces do not approach one another so nearly, in the space that is left between them we ourselves have room to be together with our own feelings. With our thoughts we think the objects of the world outside. When we make our own thoughts, then these thoughts are mere phantasmagoria; they do not any longer belong to the world. In our feelings, on the other hand, we belong to ourselves...
There is still a third direction in man, the direction from above downwards. From below upwards works Ahriman, and from above downwards Lucifer. There where the skull rested on the cervical vertebrae, imagine a horizontal surface. This invisible horizontal surface is the barrier, where man can take his stand and hold up the Luciferic influence that comes down from above. Lucifer can come no further, he can only shoot his arrows thence down into man. And his arrows are now arrows of will.
Here, too, we have left to us an intermediate field of action. For about in a line with the diaphragm, you have the surface that acts as a barricade against the upward pressure of Ahriman. Ahriman can reach only as far as the diaphragm with his missiles of will, he can come no further with his will, with his essential being; and in between the two planes lies our own field of action. (28, pp. 21-26)
28 Dec. 1914
Thus during our waking day we are involved in all the stress and noise of technology that modern life has produced around us. During the night it is more our life of feeling and thought that becomes submerged in the noise and stress, during the day it is more our life of will and feeling.
What we call modern life has not always existed in the course of human evolution. It came on the scene essentially at the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean era. The beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean era actually coincided with the beginning modern times. What does today's intellectual culture say about the beginning of modern times? We know that today's intellectual culture is proud of the achievements of modern life. This pride is expressed something like this: Throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages people were incapable of developing real observation of nature such as could have led to genuine science; this did not happen until modern times. When people talk of modern times in this way they are speaking of the period which began with the fifth post-Atlantean era. That was when people broke away from the old way of observing nature and observed it impartially, solely according to its abstract laws. It was through this knowledge of the laws of nature that science came into the position of opening up the possibility of mastering the forces of nature, and mastering them in an unprecedented way, as we so often hear. This is precisely what modern technology is. The characteristic nature of modern technology arose as a result of human beings acquiring knowledge of natural laws and then proceeding to fashion matter in accordance with these laws and make machines with which they can work back on nature and life by filling modern life with them and creating there own technological setting, which is modern life in it's essence and function. It is the modern age that has established real science and the resultant mastery over nature and it's forces.
You often hear people speaking like this. However, if we speak like this we are speaking Ahriman's language, for this is using the language of Ahriman. Let us see if we can translate this language of Ahriman into the real and true language that we are trying to acquire anew by means of spiritual science, a language where words not only gain the meaning ascribed to them through observation of external nature, but also that ascribed to them when we look at the cosmos in its entirety, that is, both as nature and as spiritual life.
Let us begin by looking quite externally at what happens when we develop modern technology. In the first place what is happening is merely work being carried out in two stages. The first stage consists of breaking nature into pieces. We blast out quarries and take the stone away, maltreat the forests and take the wood away - and the list could go on. In short, we get our raw materials by smashing and wearing down what nature holds together. The second stage consists of taking what we have extracted from nature and putting it together again as machine according to the laws we have come to know as the laws of nature. These are the two stages, if we look at the matter on the surface.
But what is it like if we look below the surface? Looking at it from inside, the matter is like this: When we take things from nature, mineral nature to begin with, we know from previous lectures that this is linked with a certain sense of well-being the elemental spirits have within it. This, however, is not our main concern just now. What is important here is that we cast out of nature the elemental spirits belonging to the sphere of the regular progressive hierarchies who, in fact, are the very spirits who maintain nature. There are elemental spiritual beings in all natural existence. When we plunder nature we squeeze the nature spirits out into the sphere of the spirit. This is what is constantly happening during the first stage. We smash and plunder material nature, thus extricating the nature spirits, driving them out of the sphere allotted them by the Yahweh gods into a realm where they can fly about freely and are no longer bound to their allotted dwelling places. Thus we can call the first stage the casting out of the nature spirits. The second stage is the one in which we put together what we have plundered from nature according to our acquired knowledge of natural laws, When we construct a machine according to our knowledge of natural laws, we put certain spiritual beings back into the things we construct.
The structure we make is by no means without its spiritual beings. In constructing it we make a habitation for other spiritual beings, but these spiritual beings that we conjure into our machines are beings belonging to the ahrimanic hierarchy. This means that by living in this technological milieu of modern times we create an ahrimanic setting for everything that goes on in us in a sleeping state, by night or day. So it is no wonder that a person at the first stage of initiation, bringing back with him into his waking life all that he has experienced outside in the way of noise and confusion, feels its destructive character when he comes back into his physical and etheric bodies with his ego and astral body. He is bringing back into his own organism the results of his having been in the company of the ahrimanic elemental spirits. Thus we could say that we now have a third stage, at the cultural level, a stage when in consequence of the technology all around us we are stuffing ourselves full of ahrimanic spirits. This is what things look like from the inside.
If we now turn our attention away from the occult side of modern life and look back at those times when people slept with only a thin partition dividing them from nature, a partition through which spirit could easily pass, and when their daytime work was within the realm of nature that still harboured regular spirits of the Yahweh hierarchy, we have to admit that in those times people's souls, their egos and astral bodies, brought back into their physical and ether bodies the kind of nature spirits that had an enlivening effect on their inner life of soul. The further we go back in the history of human evolution the more we find what is becoming increasingly rare today, namely, that people did not stuff themselves with the ahrimanic spirits of technology, but with nature spirits that were progressing on a straight path and which the good spirits of the hierarchies, if we may use this expression, have linked to the events and being of nature.
Human beings will only attain the kind of connection they need in order to be truly human if they seek it in their inner life, if they delve so far down into the depths of their soul that they reach the forces that connect them with the spirit of the cosmos, out of which they were born and in which they are embedded, but from which they can be separated. A separation has already taken place in their sense perception and intellect, and now again through being filled with ahrimanic spirits in the course of modern life, as we have seen. Human beings are dragged away from their spiritual-cosmic connections, and the forces which they should be developing to maintain their link with the spiritual-soul being of the cosmos are being weakened. (134, pp. 12-17)
31 Dec. 1914
We know that only a materialistic outlook can believe that human beings alone in the world order are equipped with thinking, feeling and will, whereas a spiritual point of view must acknowledge that just as there are beings below the human level, there are also beings above the human stage of thinking, feeling and will. Human beings can live their own way into these beings when, as microcosm, they immerse themselves in the macrocosm. However, we then have to speak of the macrocosm not only as a macrocosm of space but also as one in which the course of time is of significance. Just as human beings, in order to kindle the light of the spirit within them when they want to descend into the depths of their own soul, have to shut themselves off from all the impressions their environment can make on their senses and have, as it were, to create darkness around them by closing off their sense impressions, likewise does the spirit, whom we can call the spirit of the earth, have to be shut off from the impressions of the rest of the cosmos. The outer cosmos has to have least effect on the earth spirit if the earth spirit is to be able to concentrate its forces and capabilities within. For then the secrets will be discovered that human beings have to discover in conjunction with the earth spirit, as a result of the earth having been separated as Earth from the cosmos.
The time when the outer macrocosm exercises the greatest effect on the earth is the time of the summer solstice, midsummer. Many accounts of olden times connected with festive presentations and rituals remind us that festivals like these take place at the height of summer; that in the midst of summer, the soul, in letting go the ego and merging with the life of the macrocosm, surrenders in a state of intoxication to the impressions of the macrocosm.
Conversely, the legendary or other kind of presentation of what could be experienced in olden times remind us that when impressions from the macrocosm have least effect on the earth, the earth spirit, concentrated within itself, experiences within the eternal All the secrets of the earth's life of soul, and that if human beings enter into this experience at the point of time when the macrocosm sends least light and warmth to the earth, they learn the holiest of secrets. This is why the days around Christmas were always kept so sacred, because while his organism was still capable of sharing in the experience of the earth, man could meet the spirit of the earth during the point of time when it was most concentrated. (134, pp. 71-72)