Sunday, September 27, 2020

The New Form of Transubstantiation: The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest. Lecture 2 of 18

 "It is now necessary for human beings to unite their deepest inner being with the Christ in full consciousness, and for them to begin to understand apocalypse, revelation, in a new way."

Rudolf Steiner, September 6, 1924:

We shall first look more closely at the connection between the Act of Consecration of Man and what is meant by apocalypse, or revelation, before considering John’s Book of Revelation itself, and its significance for the present and future work of the priest.

Yesterday it was our task to point to three past ages in the Mysteries in so far as they sought to use what took place within the priest in order to transport him into an apocalyptic mood. We spoke of very ancient Mysteries in which the gods themselves descended in order to work in the Mysteries together with human beings. We also spoke of semi-ancient Mysteries in which the gods sent down their forces, so that by living in these divine forces human beings became able to work together with the gods in the cosmos.

I pointed out that the path began to lead in the opposite direction in the third age, that of the semi-new Mysteries. Here the human being shaped the forces, which he first had to develop himself, in such a way that they could lead up to the gods. We see how by intoning the magical Word in the ceremonial of the cultus—whether by speaking the magical Word into the smoke as mentioned yesterday, causing the Imagination to appear in the smoke through the Word, or whether the Word itself lived directly in the human being’s whole mood of soul—the human being sought the path to the divine, spiritual forces of the cosmos in such a way that it was in the Word that one saw the working of the divine spiritual world.

This developing of a specific religious sense by human beings—something that can only be described separately—was always paralleled by the necessary precondition for it: a particular form of Transubstantiation that was the focal point of the holy act of consecration of man. Priests today and in he near future are called upon to experience this Transubstantiation, and with it everything truly belonging to the work of the priest, in a new form. This will not easily be possible without a thorough understanding of what Transubstantiation and apocalypse consist of in real life in the four successive ages of human evolution.

We have seen the one aspect: The Act of Consecration of Man—including the Transubstantiation—is a deed conducted by a human being in collaboration with the divine, spiritual world. To work as a priest is impossible if there is no awareness of the fact that a human being can act in consort with the gods.

Let us look again at the oldest form of the act of consecration of man and the oldest form of bringing about the Transubstantiation. We see that the times when the gods find their way to human beings are those that represent the difference between what human beings can calculate as the sequence of the seasons in the course of the year and what takes place in the cosmos. The gods descended in those holy periods of time that were as though set aside, those holy periods into which human beings had to insert something because the course of the cosmos did not conform with their calculations. During those periods when human beings had to place themselves directly under the influence of the cosmos in order to carry out the Transubstantiation, they preserved something of the substances that were then transformed by the cosmos so that they would be able to use them to bring about the Transubstantiation in subsequent seasons.

The appropriate place for the priests and laypeople to be when the Transubstantiation was to be brought about was under the ground, in caves in the cliffs. In the times of the ancient Mysteries when full consciousness of the presence of the gods and the meaning of the Transubstantiation was developed, we see everywhere that people endeavored to hold the holy ceremony in rock temples, in subterranean temples.

The fact that they endeavored to do this is connected with the experiences the priests had during the Transubstantiation. In Transubstantiation the substantiality of earthly matter is transformed. Indeed, the overall process includes that of taking into one’s own body the substance that has undergone Transubstantiation, so that in this sense the last two main parts of the Act of Consecration of Man—the Transubstantiation and the Communion—form a unit, with the Gospel Reading and the Offertory being the preparation. If we regard the Transubstantiation and the Communion as a single priestly act in this way, a single act within the ceremonial of the cultus, we can point to the interpretation adopted by those in the most ancient Mysteries who were known as the ‘Fathers’. This was a degree attained in initiation, the degree of ‘Father’. This designation, ‘Father’, remains to this day the name of the priests in many confessions.

When celebrating the Transubstantiation in the sub­terranean temple, the rock temple, the priest experienced how his physical organism became one with the whole Earth. That is why temples in the rocks, subterranean temples, were used. Even when we live between birth and death in our ordinary earthly consciousness we must, after all, in reality feel ourselves to be one with the cosmos all around us. This is how it has been throughout the whole earthly evolution of humanity.

The air you now have inside your body was a moment ago outside it, and in another short moment it will be outside it again. The air inside your body forms a totality with the air outside your body. The whole phenomenon goes like this: There is an ocean of air, and when you breathe in, a part of this ocean of air is transformed into you. The air is inhaled, it seeps into every last cranny, entirely filling you and becoming a human form. This human form dissolves once more into the ocean of air when you breathe out. The aeriform human bring constantly comes into being and dies away again, only we are unaware that this is happening.

When ancient Indian yogis did their breathing exercises consciously they were aware of what was happening. They did not feel separate from the Earth’s ocean of air; they felt at one with it; in every systole and diastole they felt a continuous coming into being and dying away of the aeriform human being. This can be felt quite easily merely by carrying out breathing exercises, only it is no longer an appropriate thing for people to do these days.

The human being in the physical world is not solely an earthly human being. He is an earthly human being when what we call the physical body is mainly at work in him, but he is also a fluid human being. The whole human being is filled with circulating fluid, so the earthly human being and the fluid human being work on each other and influence one another mutually. The fluid human being is mainly dependent on the ether body, for the forces of the ether body work less in what is solid and more in what is fluid.

In addition we also have within us the aeriform human being and the warmth human being. The aeriform human being who takes care of breathing is under the influences of the astral body, and the warmth human being is chiefly influenced by the working of the ‘I’-organization. You need only consider the different degrees of heat you find when you take the temperature of different parts of your body, externally or internally. Even this rather coarse method of measuring temperature shows the human being to be a differentiated warmth organism.

So we find all four elements in the human being: earth influenced by the physical body, water influenced by the ether body, air influenced by the astral body, and heat, fire, influenced by the ‘I’-organization.

What happened with the ancient ‘Fathers’ through the Transubstantiation combined with the Communion was that they felt their physical organization in its links with the Earth when they went down into the rock or subterranean temple in order to become one with this earthly evolution.

Everything people today think about the nature of their own being—they think ‘scientifically’, so they say—is in fact entirely wrong, or indeed nonsense, for actually we have to have quite different inner pictures of the human being. These inner pictures are what arose for the ancient ‘Fathers’ from the holy sacrifice for the consecration of man through a direct vision brought about by the Transubstantiation. They knew that we not only breathe air through our respiratory organs, but also ceaselessly take in all kinds of substances from the cosmos through our sense organs; through our hair, through our skin, all kinds of substances are ceaselessly absorbed from the cosmos. Just as someone breathing consciously feels the air being sucked into his respiratory organs, so did the priest in ancient times feel the substances from the silica-environment, in which he found himself in the subterranean temple of consecration, entering and filling his organization of nerves and senses. Just as the aeriform human being feels the air moving on when he breathes consciously, so do these substances fill the whole organism. The priests in ancient times knew that our system of metabolism and limbs receives nothing into its make-up from what we eat. Nothing of what we eat goes into our system of limbs and metabolism.

Substances are absorbed out of the cosmos. Today’s whole theory of nutrition is untrue. The ‘Father’, as he celebrated, felt what is eaten and transformed by the digestive system moving up from the metabolic human being into the human being of nerves and senses, especially the head. He knew: What I eat is transformed in me into the substance of my head and all that is connected with it; what builds the organs in me that take care of metabolism is absorbed from the cosmos through a more subtle form of breathing. He felt the substances of the cosmos being taken in from all sides through senses and nerves and then going on to constitute his system of metabolism and limbs. He felt the downward-streaming flow that originates from all the directions of the cosmos and streams into his organism from above downwards. And he felt how what we take in directly in the form of food is first transformed within our body before turning in the opposite direction and going to constitute our upper human being.

As he celebrated the Transubstantiation, the ‘Father’ had two streams within him, one flowing upwards, the other downwards. When he then proceeded to the Communion he knew, through having become conscious of his physical body in these streams, that he was linked to the cosmos. What he had just received through celebrating at the altar he incorporated into the downward- and upward-flowing streams within him; having become one with the Earth, he incorporated what he had prepared on the altar into the streams which belonged both to the Earth and to his body, he incorporated it into the divine on Earth, which is a mirror of the universe. He knew himself to be at one with the universe, with that which was outside of him. He knew that this Meal, of which he had partaken in this way, was a Meal being solemnized by his cosmic human being. Through what was flowing into the upward and the downward streams he felt burgeoning within himself the divine human being who was permitted to be a companion for the gods who had descended. He felt that he was being transformed into a divine human being, that he himself was being transubstantiated by the gods in his physical body. This was the moment at which he spoke from the deepest depths of his heart: I am not now the one who walks about in the physical world; I am the one in whom the god who has descended is living; I am the One whose name comprises all the sounds of speech, the One who was in the beginning, who is in the middle, and who shall be at the end. I am the Alpha and the Omega.

On the way his inner being took form, through his manner of feeling all these things, depended the degree to which he was actually able to participate in the secrets of the cosmos, in the divine working and creating in the cosmos, in the revelation of forces and substances and beings in the cosmos under the influence of divine, spiritual creativity. This was what it meant to do the work of the priest in the ancient Mysteries.

In the semi-ancient Mysteries the temples were no longer built underground—or if they were, this was done out of tradition no longer understood; the tradition lived on but the living content was lost. In the temples that had now risen to the surface of the Earth great importance was attached to everything to do with consecrated water, with ablutions and other celebrations involving water.

These traditions still live on in the way baptism is performed by immersion in water. What the priest celebrated had now less to do with the actual element and more with the fact that through the inner strength brought to bear on the celebration the fluid human being, the one in whom the forces of the ether body were at work, now became one with the universe. When the Transubstantiation was achieved at that time and when everything that preceded it and came after it had to do with the fluid element in one way or another, the human being again felt how the organization of the etheric body was working in him, temporally this time. Through the accomplishment of the Transubstantiation the human being felt how his growth from childhood onwards took shape under the influence of the fluid element, how it shaped itself more and more and how the ether body is at work in this streaming from the past via the present and on into the future.

Just as through their physical body the priests of ancient times felt themselves to be at one with the earthly element, so did the one who celebrated the Transubstantiation in the semi-ancient Mysteries of the second Mystery age feel at one with all that is watery in the whole cosmos. Within himself he felt the forces of growth of all living things germinating, sprouting, growing, and unfurling to become a developed organism, and then contracting again into a seed. In celebrating the Transubstantiation he felt this sprouting, bud­ding, living, dying activity. At every moment he was able to say to himself: Now I know how beings arise in the world and how beings die in the world. The rising and falling forces of the etheric were active in him. You could say he sensed eternity in the holy Transubstantiation.

Taking Transubstantiation and Communion once again as a single act of consecration, a single celebration, the communicating priest knew that the substances transformed in the way described yesterday were merging with his etheric, fluid human being. He felt himself to be at one with all that preserves immortality, that comes into being and dies away again, that is born and dies in the universe. Birth and death drifted above the altar and downwards from the altar towards and among the throng of the faithful. Feelings of eternity streamed through one, and it was this being-streamed-through by feelings of eternity that took the place of what had happened of old, when there had been a feeling of being­-at-one with the whole cosmos through the Earth.

When the third period came around, the human being was to experience consciously through the holy act of consecration how he became one with the airy element, and through the airy element with the cosmos.

Over in the Orient when an individual strove in solitude as a yogi he used a different method of becoming conscious of the stream of divine, spiritual, supersensible cosmic forces in inhalation and exhalation. He took a direct hold of the breath. In Western Asia and, even more so, further west in Europe, there was no direct taking hold of the undifferentiated breath; here the magical Word was intoned into the breath. Thus the breath, the air streaming into and out of the human being, was taken hold of in the magical Word, the cultic Word. In this way it came about that the upward effort of human forces toward divine forces was experienced, was revealed, either in what was spoken into the sacrificial smoke or directly through the intonation of the magical, cultic Word. One felt as though one were oneself intoning the magical, cultic Word, the words of the prayer. On the whole every prayer means the following. It means that the human being is endeavoring to rise up with his forces into the divine, spiritual region; there he meets with the gods. And when he there intones the Word it is no longer he who is speaking; it is the god who is speaking in the cultic Word, revealing himself in the airy element. Through his astral body the human being felt himself to be within what rules the forces of the air.

Consider now how tremendous, how strong was the transition from the semi-ancient Mysteries to the semi-new Mysteries, from the second to the third age. What the ancient ‘Fathers’ experienced was experienced in the physical body. It was an intensification of the activity of the physical body. What the Sun priest in the second age experienced was an intensification of the ether body, the fluid human body. What the priest in the third age experienced, when he intoned the cultic Word and felt the streaming of the divine, spiritual forces, was experienced in the astral body. For ordinary consciousness the astral body even then was only in the least part a mediator of consciousness. Only in the earlier times of the third age were the priests still able to sense in the magically spoken cultic Word: As I speak, the god is speaking in me. But this waned. In the way it works the astral body remained unknown by consciousness, which was on the increase all the time. For today’s consciousness it is entirely unknown. Therefore, little by little, the verbal content of the cultus became something that for the chosen meant the presence of the god, and for those not chosen merely an intonation of something that did not come into their consciousness.

This became increasingly the case with a great number of priests serving in the Catholic faith. The act of consecration of man, the Mass, turned gradually into something celebrated by the priest although he himself was no longer present in it. One cannot, however, celebrate with these intoned Words without the incorporation of air beings, or, in other words, without the presence of spirit. Nowhere is there anything materially shaped in which spirit does not immediately take up its abode. So if the act of consecration is celebrated with the true cultic Word, even by the most unworthy priest, there is always something spiritual present, though perhaps not his soul. Therefore whatever happens, the believers are present at a spiritual event if the liturgy is right.

Once this had become increasingly decadent in the final stage of the third age, the more rationally inclined denominations, the Protestant denominations, believed they could do without celebrating the cultus at all. There was no longer any awareness of the significance of the cultus, of the direct, real collaboration of human beings with the gods. This led to the times of inner experience in which we now live. The act of consecration of man, which brings the divine, spiritual life directly down to the Earth, has gradually become something incomprehensible. What ought to be experienced through it, namely apocalypse or revelation, has become incomprehensible.

Such, basically, were the experiences which those of you had had who came one day and said: There must be a Christian renewal. You experienced what lives in today’s civilization, what lives in today’s religious life; you experienced the religious life of all the denominations as having been separated off from the genuine, real spiritual world. You were looking for the way back to the genuine, real spiritual world.

We have now reached the pointer that will lead us straight into the depths of the Mysteries that are connected with the Book of Revelation: that the Transubstantiation in the first age is linked to experiences made with the physical body, in the second age to experiences made with the ether body, and in the third age to experiences made with the astral body. It will depend on you and on your inner experience of the working and weaving of the spirit in the world whether the Act of Consecration and whether the Book of Revelation will be taken hold of by the human ‘I’.

So a proper understanding of the task to be fulfilled through this movement for religious renewal will depend on what has to be done being directly seen as carrying out a task supersensibly allocated to us, a task that places what it does at the service of the supersensible powers. What you do must either peter out into nothingness — in which case it will have been merely a kind of inconvenience in the present evolution of the universe, if you fail to grasp the profound nature of your task — or you do grasp the profound nature of your task, you do feel this task to have been linked from the outset not with the work of human beings but with the work of the gods throughout the Earth’s evolution. You would then have to say to yourselves: We have been summoned to share in shaping the fourth Mystery age of human evolution on the Earth. Only if you have the courage, the strength, the seriousness, and the perseverance to find your way like this into your task, only then will you have placed your task at the service of those powers who permitted the content of that cultus to flow down directly out of the spiritual world when we were gathered here two years ago. Only then will that which you have taken on through the content of this cultus, a revelation out of the spiritual world which as such rayed down upon you, be real.

Then you will more and more feel and sense it to be true that the Christ first entered into earthly life through a cosmically real, telluric deed. The Mystery of Golgotha exists as a real deed. The time has now come for human beings to unite this with their ‘I’. The earlier way in which the Holy Supper was remembered was still immersed in the third Mystery age, the age when the astral body took in and ruled the effects of the cultus that were accomplished in the airy element. However, it is now necessary for human beings to unite their deepest inner being with the Christ in full consciousness, and for them to begin to understand apocalypse, revelation, in a new way.

How was revelation understood in the first Mystery age? It was experienced as the presence of the gods who exist at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end, who are Alpha and Omega.

How was the presence of the divine powers understood in the second Mystery age? It was experienced in what resounded through the universe as the music of the spheres, in the cosmic Word streaming from heaven to Earth, the Word that has created everything, that is creating in everything, that is alive in everything. In that age people experienced in an instant what is at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. They experienced Alpha and Omega in the cosmic, universal Word. Whenever in these various ages mention was made of Alpha and Omega—using different sounds of speech, perhaps, although ones fairly similar to those of the Greek language—there was always the endeavor to recognize what is really contained in this Alpha and Omega, in this First and this Last.

How was revelation, apocalypse, understood in the third Mystery age? It was understood in that the human being unfolded the as yet only semi-conscious cultic Word. When the human being intoned this semi-conscious cultic Word and this then transubstantiated itself—which I shall illustrate in a moment—that is when apocalypse, revelation, was perceived during the third age. Perhaps one of you, or perhaps most of you, have had a day when you were receptive with your senses and your soul to impressions from the outside world. Perhaps you heard some music and then went to sleep still under the impression of this music, and then woke up again in the midst of your sleep. Maybe you then felt as though you were living in a billowing, but a transformed billowing, of the symphony you had heard during the day. This is how it was for the priests during the third Mystery age. What happened to them can be compared with the ordinary experience I have just described. They celebrated the act of consecration with the cultic Word, experiencing how the god became present in it. They had sent the cultic Word aloft, and the god had streamed into the cultic Word. They departed from the holy act of consecration in the mood in which it is fitting to depart from it. They experienced in what had undergone transubstantiation not only the human cultic Word in which the divine spirit had become present; they experienced also how what they had spoken had become transubstantiated, transformed. They experienced streaming toward them the supersensible echo of what they themselves had intoned in the liturgy of the Mass, transformed now, and bringing revelation, apocalypse, to them. As a return gift for the appropriately celebrated act of consecration the god revealed apocalypse. This is how apocalypse was sensed in the third Mystery age.

The individual who felt himself to have been made a priest through Christ Jesus himself, the writer of the Book of Revelation with which we shall be concerning ourselves, was the first to sense something that hardly any or only a very few others ever experienced again. He sensed how the apocalyptic content became absorbed into his own ‘I’. For it was the astral body that absorbed the echo I spoke about, when the god gave the apocalyptic content as a return gift for the Word.

The one who wrote John’s Book of Revelation felt his fully conscious ‘I’ to be at one with the content he wrote down in that Book. From the long-since extinguished consecration service of Ephesus came the inspiring stimulus for that priest, the author of the Book of Revelation, who felt himself to have been anointed by none other than Christ Jesus. He felt himself to be within a continuous celebration of the ancient, holy act of consecration. In feeling his ‘I’ to be entirely filled with the meaning of the act of consecration he now also felt entirely filled with the apocalyptic content.

The Book of Revelation is spoken out of John as, in ordinary consciousness, only the little word ‘I’ can be spoken out of the human being. When we say ‘I’ we express the whole of our inner being with this sequence of sounds. This cannot denote anything other than the single, individual human being, who is, however, richly filled with content. The content of the Book of Revelation is a rich content.

If we take everything that religious feeling and deepening can give the soul, if all illumination energetically striven for, all endeavor to comprehend the supersensible, is allowed to work in the human spirit, if we allow ourselves to be enthused by a contemplation of the three past Mystery ages, if what lived in the first, second, and third Mystery age can become for us a living inspirer for the fourth, and if we let the power of God’s spirit work in our soul in the way that is once again possible today, then shall we experience that quantitatively here is not only one Revelation but as many Revelations as there are human ‘I’s devoted to God, speaking from individual priests to Christ, who is to be found anew through this movement for Christian renewal.

In quality the Book of Revelation is unique, but quantitatively it can become the content of every individual priest’s soul. Conversely, the soul of every individual who celebrates the Act of Consecration of Man can become a priestly soul by preparing to identify the ‘I’ with the content of the Book of Revelation. As human beings we are ‘I’s; we become priests in the modern sense of the word if the Book of Revelation is not merely written in the Gospel, and also if the Book of Revelation is not only within our hearts as a finished piece of writing, but if the ‘I’ becomes aware of the fact that in every moment of life it can through its own act of creation bring forth a reproduction of the Book of Revelation.

The following perhaps somewhat pedantic or philistine picture will help you to understand what I mean: Someone writes down the content of a book. The book is sent to the printers where it is printed. Then a given number of copies, each one separate although the content is identical, is sent out into the world. It is a unique thing to which your attention is drawn at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, a unique thing that was revealed to John by Christ himself. For this is ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ received by his servant John. (Rev.1:1) The content is unique, but it is reproduced when each one himself or herself brings it forth out of the wisdom of the supersensible worlds.

This is what it means to understand the Revelation of John. In the deeper sense of the words it also means understanding that the Christ has consecrated us and thus made us priests. You have felt what it means when the apocalyptist says that Christ himself has anointed him a priest. Becoming anointed as a priest takes place when one feels how the content of the Book of Revelation came into being in John. Becoming anointed takes place when one feels how the content of the Book of Revelation came into being in John, as soon as one feels: These human beings of today want to become priests through creating within themselves the experience of the ‘I’ itself in the Revelation. If the ‘I’ becomes apocalyptic, then it becomes priestly.

More of this tomorrow.


Christianity and Islam: 666 : Darwinism and Materialism

from The Apocalypse. Lecture 7
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 11, 1924:

Something which had remained from the non-Christian, ancient Romanism prepares itself in the womb of Earth evolution [from A.D. 333 to A.D. 666]. What does this non-Christian Romanism consist of?
Now, if we look into the Mysteries we find that trichotomy or the holy number three had a profound significance in all of the greatest and most advanced ones. Let's take a look at what this meaning was. One thought about how a human being is born in the physical stream of heredity, approximately in the way that esoteric Hebraic teachings conceive of this. One imagined how this human being brings characteristics and capacities with him through heredity. One described the life of a human being as something which proceeds in a straight line and in which nothing important enters except what is oriented by hereditary impulses. The fathers in the ancient mysteries said: You originate from the physical forces of your parents, and the spiritual impulses of your physical parents are also at work in you. And these ideas continued to be taught in Hebraic esotericism and by the proponents of other esoteric doctrines.
However, other people added something to this. In the Mysteries which must be called the most advanced ones, one spoke of how the man who bears hereditary impulses and develops accordingly can also take in another impulse during his physical existence between birth and death, an impulse through which he lifts himself out of hereditary conditions, so that his soul finds its way out of them, namely, the Son impulse or Christ impulse. And one said: The impulses of heredity are in man and they constitute his straight-line evolution between birth and death. They are from the Father, the Father who underlies everything. The impulses of the Son do not enter into hereditary forces; they must be taken up into the soul and elaborated by the soul; they must be able to expand the soul to such an extent that it can free itself from bodily and hereditary forces. They enter the freedom of man, in the way that one understood freedom in those times; they go into the freedom of the soul, where the latter is free from hereditary forces. They are the ones which permit man to be psychically reborn. They are the impulses which enable man to control himself during the life which is given him by the Father. And so one saw the Father-man in these Mysteries — and one also saw the man who is the son of the Father and the brother of Christ and who controls himself. He gains control over that part of him which is free from the body in a certain respect, and he must bear a new realm in him which knows nothing about nature, which is a different order from that of nature: the realm of the Spirit.
If one were to talk about the Father God, not in the external, materialistic way in which one does this today but more like they do in Hebraic doctrine, one would be justified in speaking of effects of nature which are also spiritual effects, for spiritual activities are present in all activities of nature. The natural science which arose a while back and which is active today is merely a one-sided science of the Father. The science of the Son or the Christ is added to this; this is connected with the way man takes hold of himself and with the way man receives an impulse which he can only take in through the soul, and not through hereditary forces. The way he works his way into this is chaotic at first, without the activity and the power of laws. This activity is brought into him by the Spirit, so that according to the ancient Mysteries we basically have two kingdoms: the kingdom of nature or the kingdom of the Father, and the kingdom of the Spirit — and man is carried out of the kingdom of nature and into the kingdom of the Spirit by the Son or Christ.
If we become aware that such views were still present in the Apocalyptist and in the souls of all the men of his time, it will enable us to look into his prophetic soul, which could survey the future in such broad strokes, in order to look at the way he looked at what poured over the Christianity which had become a semblance of itself in two directions around the year 666.
Here his prophetic eye fell upon that doctrine which had already arisen in the East in 666, and which goes back to that Mohammedan Mystery culture which knows nothing about the Son. This Islamic Mystery culture doesn't know anything about the world structure to which I referred; it doesn't know about the two kingdoms, the realm of the Father and the realm of the Spirit; it only knows one rigid thing; only the Father exists for it: there is only one God, Allah, and none beside him; and Mohammed is his prophet. This point of view makes Islam the polar opposite of Christianity. This viewpoint leads to the will to eliminate all freedom for all times to come, to the will for determinism, and this cannot be otherwise if one thinks of the world only in connection with the Father God.
However, the Apocalyptist feels that man cannot find himself like that. Man cannot be permeated by the Christ like that; he can't grasp his humanity if he only grasps this ancient teaching about the Father. The outer human form becomes maya for a world conception which is so strongly closed off within; for man becomes man by taking hold of himself, by making Christ alive in himself and through the fact that he can fit himself into the spiritual order of things and into the realm of the spirit which is entirely free of nature. Thereby he becomes a man; but he doesn't become a man if he falls back into the view which only reckons with the Father God.
Now that the 'I' has been entering into man since the year 333, there is a danger — so says the apocalyptist — of humanity growing confused about this 'I' becoming filled with the Son God, with the Christ. What threatens to keep man at the animal stage rises up after a period of time which is just as long as the first period after the Mystery of Golgotha: 666 is the number of the beast.
The Apocalyptist had a decisive inner vision of what threatens men. Christianity was made into a semblance of itself in two directions, or it would be better to say that it became obscured by fog. The year 666 marks the time of this inundation which threatens him. It is that significant year in the spiritual world when what exists in Arabism is introduced everywhere. He points to this year 666 very clearly. People who can read in an apocalyptic way understand this quite well. For he foresaw the effect that the thing which was breaking in would have, and he called the number 666, the number of the beast.
Thus he basically anticipates everything which follows in an apocalyptic way. What follows is the streaming of Arabism toward Europe, whereupon Christianity becomes permeated by a teaching which could only make men fail to see the humanity within them; where the Father dogma is converted into naturalism; whereby the latest view on evolution arose, which says that one must explain man by just following the sequence of animals down to the human being.
Wasn't the beast whose number is 666 still rising in Darwinism, where man couldn't comprehend that he is a human being but could only look upon himself as a beast? Don't we see these Ahrimanic resistances which are working against the Son God working further in the impregnation of Christianity with a materialistic form of the Father dogma? Isn't this still working into our time?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Vision of Anthroposophia. The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest. Lecture 12 of 18


"Before seeing the birth of Christ as a male being in the Sun in the middle of the Atlantean period, the priests saw a female being in the Sun."

"Mystery priests in pre-Christian times looked up to the Sun when they wanted to be united with Christ. But since the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ has been the Spirit of the Earth. We must now look for Christ the Sun Being in earthly life and in earthly work."

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, September 16, 1924:

Let us be aware today of the propitious karmic circumstance that brings us together during this period when, two years ago, the first Act of Consecration of Man was celebrated here. The main developments of our spiritual life here have followed a remarkable sequence: the Act of Consecration of Man two years ago, the burning of the Goetheanum, one year after that the laying of the foundation stone of the Anthroposophical Society, and now, after the second year, here we are again, this time to contemplate the Book of Revelation, as was your wish.

As I have been mentioning from the very beginning, there is a close connection between considering the Book of Revelation and what is encompassed by the Act of Consecration of Man, so that every day we spend considering the Book of Revelation is like a memorial celebration of what we made alive among us two years ago in order to bring into this life that which wanted to reveal itself out of the spiritual world as the present-day, modern cultus.

Taking the coincidence of events into account, it is perhaps fitting that today we should call up before us the point in the Book of Revelation that is most difficult of all to understand but which actually leads right into the heart of the Book and which is most intimately connected with the mystery of the Act of Consecration of Man because it is linked objectively with the Being of Christ. One can indeed only speak properly about this in connection with the Book of Revelation, for this Book bears so clearly the fundamental stamp of Christianity that we cannot possibly arrive at anything deviating from a Christian consideration by looking at what is naturally connected with this Revelation. I can assure you that what I shall have to say about the point we want to consider today will emerge in quite an astonishing way from the visions of the apocalyptist.

Since the beginning of the fifteenth century, dear friends, we have been living in the fifth post-Atlantean age, and within this we are at the beginning of the renewed struggle that Michael will have to conduct in everything that will be happening in the near future. From here we look back to the fourth post-Atlantean age, the one that immediately preceded our own.

We know that the fourth post-Atlantean age began around about the year 747 before the Mystery of Golgotha, so that the Mystery of Golgotha took place during that fourth post-Atlantean age. Although not exactly, because it actually occurred more or less during the first half of the fourth post-Atlantean age, one can say that, give or take the displacements that always affect events in world evolution, it can be regarded as having taken place in the middle of that age. So we can make a diagram of our spiritual evolution like this (Plate 4): Here is the fifth post-Atlantean age. It was preceded by the fourth, third, second, and first, right back to the Atlantean catastrophe, which essentially gave the final formation to the surface of our Earth, providing our Earth with—you could say—a new face.

Let us now look at the fourth period, the Atlantean period. It was preceded by what I have often called the Lemurian period of Earth evolution, and before that were those we call the second and the first period of Earth evolution. The three periods leading up to the Atlantean period are recapitulations: the first of the Saturn condition, the second of the Sun condition, and the third of the Moon condition. Not until the fourth, the Atlantean period, does something new come about. The three periods that precede it are repetitions, recapitulations at a higher level.

Plate 4

The fourth, the Atlantean period, represents something new. What occurred during the Atlantean period occurred while the Earth still had forms that were quite different from those that came later. Even in the middle of the Atlantean period the Earth did not have a solid crust of the kind familiar to us now. The geological dating posited for these things today is an illusion. The time when the Earth solidified out of a partially firm, partially fluid consistency lay in the Atlantean period. So the human race was quite different during the Atlantean period, for even in the middle of that period it did not have today’s rigid skeleton. The substance of which human beings were formed in those times was more like that of the lower animals, although their form was most noble. The substance, however, resembled the consistency of the jellyfish; it was soft, with some tendency to form cartilage.

We can state, therefore, that all physical conditions on the Earth have changed since those times, and we now no longer have those radical metamorphoses, those radical transformations, that were still possible in the middle of the Atlantean period. In those times we were able at any moment to metamorphose our shape—which was made of soft material—and grow larger or smaller, adopt this or that form, depending on our inner state of soul. Every stirring of soul immediately impressed itself on our physical body. If someone in the middle of the Atlantean period wanted to take hold of an object that was situated at a distance, his will worked into his jelly-like organs in such a way that they were able to stretch the required distance. So the whole of physical life was different; physical processes followed quite different courses at any given moment. All physical processes, all transformations and metamorphoses, provided a picture of actual spiritual happenings at any moment.

This is no longer the case today. Today we look out and no longer see the spirit working in what happens out there, not even in the course of the seasons. Those rapid transformations that took place in old Atlantis left no room for doubt that this world contained the divine and the spiritual. Although the continent of Atlantis retained its shape in essence, it was nevertheless very mobile, and surrounded in every direction by weaving, viscous fluidity. You could not have called it semi-fluid, but it was viscous and was able to bear the bodies with their still very soft organs and also the plants that were at that time not yet anchored in the Earth; the plants hovered or glided in the soft, mobile substance of the Earth. So physical conditions were quite different then. You could say that sea and land were not yet separate in the way they became later; they still merged into one another. Those who were able to see these things clearly at that time spoke of the ocean—with its even greater capacity for expressing metamorphosis than the solid-fluid land adjacent to it—as being where the gods held sway. The gods were seen to hold sway all around the edge of Atlantis. There were no doubts about those gods who held sway, for spirit and soul were everywhere perceived as clearly as the physical. human beings saw soul and spirit in the physical realm.

A characteristic possessed by the fourth post-Atlantean age was that people then were able to see the gods holding sway in the play of the air, although this was no longer so strong in the centuries leading up to the fifth post-Atlantean age, but in Grecian times it was entirely obvious. In old Atlantis human beings saw the gods hold sway in the solid-fluid element. In the fourth post-Atlantean age the gods were seen to hold sway in the fluid-airy element of the clouds, in the twilight formations and so on. The consciousness people had in the fourth post-Atlantean age was not yet very clear, so there are no descriptions defining this exactly, but nevertheless this is how it was. Surely any unprejudiced observation can only arrive at this interpretation of those wonderful paintings of clouds in early Renaissance pictures, an interpretation that points to the feeling of how something spiritual is born out of them, of how the working of the divine spirit is felt to be in the airy clouds, in the airy-watery being of the air.

Human beings at that time did not turn their attention very much to the physical aspects of cloud formations. They looked for what the clouds would reveal to them. The feeling this gave them was wonderful, but it is difficult to reconstruct it for today’s consciousness. Even as late as the eighth or ninth post-Christian century, when people looked at the morning sky they saw before their soul the clouds shimmering in the dawn light and felt that there was something alive in the aurora, in the pink sky of morning; and the same was felt when the evening twilight came.

We can therefore say: In old Atlantis the spirit was seen physically. After Atlantis came the post-Atlantean period with its seven ages; and the recapitulation of what had happened in Atlantis, the recapitulation of what had happened physically in Atlantis, took place at the soul level in the fourth post-Atlantean age. The mighty upheavals I spoke about, the years AD 333 and 666, which are upheavals at the soul level in human evolution, these correspond to physical upheavals in old Atlantis. When they saw the revelations in the fluid-airy element, the seers of the Greco-Latin age felt that they were seeing in their soul something like a recapitulation of earlier conditions of Earth that had once taken place in the physical realm. They were aware of this, although somewhat dimly, as befitted the consciousness of that time.

Everything that lived in schools like that at Chartres, which I have been mentioning in the anthroposophical lectures, showed in its descriptions that the soul experiences of the Greco-Latin age were a recapitulation in soul of the more dense, physical experiences and events in Atlantis.

We are now in the era of the consciousness soul. Any direct soul experience of what happens in the airy-fluid element is extinguished. But through the kind of catastrophe with which the fifth, the post-Atlantean, period began, the further development of the consciousness soul of humanity is beginning to be prepared. As regards external civilization we are still somewhat bogged down in the chaos of this development of the consciousness soul.

However, the dawn of the Michael age should bring in some vision that will provide order for this chaos.

This vision will be as follows: No longer physically as in Atlantean times, no longer in the soul as in Greco-Latin times, but entirely spiritually, pictures will arise like memories in the human being, pictures that are somewhat like a mirage of thoughts, and this will happen particularly after the appearance of the Etheric Christ. Something like an inner mirage in pictures of a visionary nature will arise in the thoughts of human beings, and in the era of the consciousness soul these pictures will come in full consciousness. Just as the heat in the desert air creates a mirage, so will the human thought be carried in a way that leads to an understanding of what the airy-fiery element, the airy-warmth element, is.

We can put it this way: In Atlantean times the human being perceived the divine in the solid-fluid element, which means more in external, physical matter; in the fourth post-Atlantean age, the Greco-Latin age, the human being perceived the spirit in the wonderful formations of the fluid-airy element; and now, in the fifth post-Atlantean age, when it will be the consciousness soul that does the perceiving, we shall experience how more and more there will appear in our consciousness what is airy-fiery, airy warmth. This will cause what the Greeks experienced in soul, and what the inhabitants of Atlantis experienced in body, to appear to human beings now in mighty spiritual pictures.

So a time is coming in human evolution when visions will appear that are as clear as thoughts, visions about primeval Earth times and about the origin of the human being, and everything connected with these. Darwin’s view that attributed a lowly ancestry to the human being based entirely on a single line of reasoning will be superseded by inner visions, by the development of wonderful Imaginations that will arise out of inner human warmth linked with the breathing process, like vivid, colored visionary thoughts full of meaning. The human being will know what he once was through seeing something like a reflection of the Greco-Latin age, and then back beyond that of what was there in Atlantis.

You see, dear friends: This seeing concerns us very directly, for it will begin to happen in the next age of humanity. Because this seeing is so close to us we find ourselves looking into the heart of the apocalyptist. The seeing that is about to begin is what he describes in the picture of the woman clothed with the Sun with the dragon beneath her feet, and giving birth to a male child. (Rev. 12:1)

Through what is expressed in this picture many individuals will indeed become seers still in the course of this twentieth century. Much rays forth from this picture that will bring understanding to human beings. First of all it shines back into the Greco-Latin age, where at the soul level an understanding was prepared for the shape of this picture as it will appear in the near future. It has taken on all kinds of shapes: Isis with the child Horus, the mother of Christ with the Christ child; especially in the Greco-Latin age these things lived with wonderful profundity in many metamorphoses that are still preserved in tradition.

In the near future, human beings will look back to the kind of seeing that people had in the fourth post-Atlantean age when they saw this picture in the clouds, in the airy-fluid element. Looking back even further they will see what lived in the physical processes of Atlantis. This image of the woman clothed with the Sun giving birth to a male child, and having the dragon beneath her feet, will be seen as though through a kind of spiritual telescope, a kind of ocular pointing toward a long-distant past in which the earthly, physical element was linked with the supra-earthly, cosmic element. In those times there was a far more intimate contact between the Earth and the world of the planets and the world of the Sun.

As we know, during the period of Earth evolution when the ancient Saturn condition was being recapitulated there were many characteristics of Saturn in earthly existence, although in a denser form. During the second period of Earth evolution, which brought with it the recapitulation of the Old Sun condition, the Sun, which had still been bound to the Earth during Saturn, separated out from the Earth, and with it went all the beings belonging to the Sun. In the third period of Earth evolution, the Lemurian period, the Moon, too, departed from the Earth, so that this triad of Earth, Sun, and Moon became the reality for the subsequent Earth period. You can see in my book Occult Science how the planets came to be added as well. It is also necessary to look at all the processes I have described in connection with the return of human souls during the Atlantean period. These are Earth processes seen from the earthly perspective.

There is also something else we should add. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, dear friends, initiates who have understood cosmic secrets have regarded Christ as a Sun Being who was connected with the Sun prior to the Mystery of Golgotha. Mystery priests in pre-Christian times looked up to the Sun when they wanted to be united with Christ. But since the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ has been the Spirit of the Earth. We must now look for Christ the Sun Being in earthly life and in earthly work, whereas those who wanted to see and have communion with him prior to the Mystery of Golgotha had to raise themselves up to the Sun.

This Sun Spirit, who is rightly regarded as male in the way he came to the Earth—and there have indeed also been similar events in earlier ages, which I have often mentioned—is brilliantly described in the apocalyptist’s vision, that profound vision which appears with an immediacy almost tangible in the middle of the Atlantean period and stands there as a shining physical appearance.

After that moment in time the wise scholars of the Mysteries saw, when they looked up to the Sun, how Christ was developing and maturing there, up to the point when he became capable of going through the Mystery of Golgotha. What they saw when they looked toward that point in evolution during Atlantean times was a birth taking place out there in the cosmos inside the Sun.

Before seeing the birth of Christ as a male being in the Sun in the middle of the Atlantean period, the priests saw a female being in the Sun.

The important change that took place in the middle of the Atlantean period is that before the middle of that period the cosmic female was seen in the spiritual aura of the Sun: ‘the woman clothed with the Sun.’ Putting it this way corresponds exactly with what happened in the supra-earthly world, in the heavens: ‘The woman clothed with the Sun giving birth to a male child’. The apocalyptist rightly calls him a male child; and this is the same being who later went through the Mystery of Golgotha and who had earlier gone through other forms of existence.

What took place during that Atlantean period was a kind of birth, which was actually a complicated kind of metamorphosis. One saw how the Sun gave birth to what was male in it, to what was of the nature of a son.

But what does this mean for the Earth? In the middle of the Atlantean period there was of course quite a different feeling about what a Sun existence is. Nowadays the Sun is regarded as a conglomeration of craters and fiery masses; what today’s physicists describe is an abomination. But in those times the initiates saw what I have just described. They really saw the woman clothed with the Sun, with the dragon beneath her feet, and giving birth to a male child. Those who saw and understood such a thing said: For the heavens that is the birth of Christ; for us it is the birth of our ‘I’. They said this although the ‘I’ only entered into the human being much later.

Since that moment in the middle of Atlantis, evolution has meant that human beings have become ever more aware of their ‘I’. They were of course not as aware of it as we are today, but in a more elementary way they became ever more aware of it when the priests of the Mysteries showed them: The Sun kindles the ‘I’ in the human being. Through the birth shown by the apocalyptist in that picture, the ‘I’ was continuously kindled from the outside through the way the Sun worked, right up to the fourth post-Atlantean age, when the ‘I’ finally fully entered the human being. The human being, it was felt, belonged to the Sun. This was a feeling that entered deeply into human nature.

Having become such weaklings in our soul life today, we cannot imagine how the soul experiences of human beings surged and stormed in bygone ages. As a result of receiving the ‘I’ out of the cosmos, human beings on the Earth felt that everything in their earlier nature had become transformed. Earlier they had been dependent on their astral body, on what lived in the astral, and this worked in the soul-spirit in such a way that human beings in those times saw this picture: Here (Plate 4, left) is the human being, and above him is the Sun; the ‘I’ has not yet arrived, and what works down from the Sun is astral. The human being carried in him the astral body, which came from the Sun, the astral body that is not as yet governed by the ‘I’ and so still has animal-like, though more refined, emotions.

But now he is an entirely different human being: he has become ‘I’, whereas what bubbled through him earlier was the astral body. All this came from the Sun.

Let us now imagine something that I shall draw like a diagram (Plate 4, bottom left): Here is a picture of the Sun in oldest Atlantean times, filled with living, shining light bubbling and moving in the lower half of the Sun being; out of this, something is born in the upper part; the hint of a face was sensed here. Down below in the being of the Sun the human being felt the origin of all the emotions surging in his own astral body, but also of everything that gave him his soul and his spirit being.

The next phase, showing how the Sun was seen later, would have been like this (Plate 4, bottom middle): emerging more clearly, its face becoming more defined, and assuming the form of a woman. You see—not clearly yet—what is to be brought to the human being as the result of the ‘I’ taking charge. The space down below, writhing like an animal, grows smaller and smaller until finally the moment comes when the woman is in the Sun and gives birth to the male child; and beneath the feet of the woman is that which was formerly here (Plate 4); the woman in the Sun, giving birth to the ‘I’, showing the image of how the dragon may be controlled—the astral world of the earlier period that is now beneath her feet.

There in the Sun, at that time, the struggle began between Michael and the dragon. The consequence of this was—and it was perfectly apparent physically—that all things in the Sun gradually moved toward the earth and became earthly ingredients, earthly content, which ruled the human being in his unconscious while into his consciousness the ‘I’ entered more and more.

What took place cosmically in this way in the Atlantean period found its mythological counter-image in the Greco-Latin age. In the next age immediately following ours, human beings will be able to experience retrospectively the earlier picture of Isis with the Horus child that then became the picture of the Virgin with the Jesus child. Human beings will see in this picture the woman clothed with the Sun, and the dragon beneath her feet, the dragon that was thrown down to the earth by Michael that can no longer be found in the heavens.

This picture, which will change, will appear at the time when the dragon will be unbound and when what I described yesterday will come about. It is a fact that humanity will be experiencing a deepened vision of Earth’s primeval times and of the origins of humanity, and at the same time also an etheric vision of the Christ-Being, for during the age of Michael those events will occur which the apocalyptist hints at when he speaks of Michael throwing the dragon creature down to the Earth, where it works within the nature of the human being. Michael, however, will concern himself with that in human nature which he has thrown down as the dragon creature.

Dear friends, let us try to imagine vividly what this means. Let us look once again into the Atlantean period. The apocalyptist does so in advance of us. He has the vision of the woman clothed with the Sun, giving birth to the Jesus boy and having the dragon beneath her feet. This picture grows weaker and weaker as Atlantean times advance. At the end of the Atlantean period the new continents rise up out of the ocean, the continents that contain the forces through which human beings have fallen into the various errors of the post-Atlantean period. Out of the ocean rises the Beast with the seven heads (Rev. 13:1), and sevenfold land rises up out of the ocean, dragging down the human being through the vapors that arise spiritually from the Earth out of the human being’s emotions.

The apocalyptist also sees the Atlantean catastrophe in the form of this seven-headed Beast rising up out of the ocean, and this will reappear in the future when what he is indicating will occur again in the Michael age. The apocalyptist is speaking of entirely real happenings which are very much our concern with regard to the spiritual life of humanity. The content of this picture in particular is connected with the Being of Christ.

We are approaching an age when we shall once again see how the spirit lives in the earthly realm; we shall see how the spiritual processes at work in the Transubstantiation will once again be able to appear before the souls of human beings. Especially in the Transubstantiation there will appear the earthly reflection of what has taken place in heavenly regions in such a way that what has happened since the middle of the Atlantean period is but a small section of everything that is connected with the Being of Christ. Then one will understand how a metamorphosis such as that taking place in the Transubstantiation becomes possible when one regards what is today physical and chemical as merely an episode, and when one relates the Transubstantiation to something entirely other than what is seemingly material.

In this way let us deepen our commemoration of the first Act of Consecration of Man two years ago; this commemoration of what truly descended from heaven, shone down from heaven from the Atlantean period; this commemoration of what appeared in the clouds of the Greco-Latin age; of the Christ who walks on Earth and is grasped by human beings in their visions, of Christ who walks on the Earth etherically in our time and can be grasped by human beings in Imaginations, in visions. The Christ is present in the Transubstantiation and he will be more and more present to human beings.

The processes I have described today comprise the paths through which the Christ gradually entered into the happenings of Earth evolution.

Let us take this in as a kind of festive inner picture in memory of the first Act of Consecration of Man celebrated in the Goetheanum two years ago.


The fire of wonder


Rudolf Steiner:  "Someone may say: '...when I picture all this, I have one outstanding impression: that everything is indescribably beautiful in the process of world evolution!' We ourselves can have the same impression of the grandeur and sublimity of it all, and this can kindle the fire of wonder in our souls at what has come to pass in the world. The great truths can bestow upon us no greater boon than this. The lesser truths will satisfy our longing for knowledge; the great truths will warm our very souls, and we shall say that there is supreme beauty in what is thus made manifest through the happenings of world existence. If we feel this beauty and splendor, any purely theoretical understanding will be transcended."

Source: The Gospel of Luke, lecture 8

Christ's Legacy : Anthroposophy's Task

Notes by Marie Steiner from a private lesson given to her by Rudolf Steiner

Berlin, 1903 or 1904

There's a nice remark by Hegel: The deepest thought is united with the figure of Christ, with the historical and outer one, and that's the great thing about the Christian religion, that for all of its profundity it's easy to understand in an outer way, and yet also challenges one to get into it more deeply. Thus it's for every stage of development and also satisfies the highest demands.

The fact that the Christian religion is understandable to every stage of consciousness is clear through the history of its development. It must be the task of spiritual science in general to show that this religion invites one to penetrate the deepest teachings of wisdom that mankind has. Theosophy is not a religion but an instrument for understanding religions. It's related to religion in about the same way that our mathematical theory is related to ancient math books. One can understand mathematics out of one's own intellectual forces and the laws of space without referring to Euclid's geometry book. But when one has taken in geometric teachings one will treasure that old book all the more, that first placed these laws before the human spirit. That's the way it is with theosophy. Its sources are not in documents and aren't based on tradition. Its sources are in the real spiritual worlds; that's where one must find them and grasp them in that one develops one's spiritual forces, whereas one grasps mathematics as one tries to develop one's intellectual forces. The intellect that enables us to grasp the laws of the sense world is carried by an organ, the brain. We also need corresponding organs to grasp the laws of spiritual worlds. How did our physical organs develop? When outer forces worked on them, sun forces, sound forces. That's how the eyes and ears developed out of neutral, dull organs that did not permit a penetration of the sense world at first and only opened slowly. Our spiritual organs will also open when the right forces work on them.

Now which forces storm in our spiritual organs that are still dull? During the day forces press into a modern's astral body that work against his development, and that even kill organs he had before he got his bright day consciousness. A man used to perceive astral impressions indirectly. The surrounding world spoke to him through pictures, through the astral world's form of expression. Living, differentiated pictures, colors float around free in space as an expression of pleasure and displeasure, sympathy and antipathy. Then these colors laid themselves around the surface of things and objects received firm contours. This happened when man's physical body became even firmer and more differentiated. When his eyes opened completely to physical light, when maya's veil placed itself before the spiritual world, man's astral body received impressions from the surroundings via the physical and etheric bodies and transmitted them to the ego, from where they entered men's consciousness. Thereby he became continuously active. But what worked on him in this way wasn't plastic, formative forces that corresponded to his own nature; it was forces that consumed and killed him to awaken his ego-consciousness. Only at night when he dived down into the rhythmic spiritual world that was homogeneous to him did he strengthen himself anew so that he could send forces to the etheric and physical bodies again. The life of the single ego, ego-consciousness arose from the conflict of impressions, from the killing of the astral organs that worked unconsciously in man before. Death out of life, life out of death. The snake's circle was closed. Now the forces that rekindled life in the dead remnants of previous astral organs and molded them plastically had to come out of this awakened ego-consciousness.

Mankind moves toward this goal, it's guided towards it by its teachers, leaders and great initiates, whose symbol is the snake. It's an education towards spiritual activity, and therefore it's a long and difficult one. Great initiates could make the task easier for themselves and men if they would elaborate the astral body when it's free at night, so that they imprinted astral organs into them, worked on them from outside. But that would be a working within the dream consciousness of a man, an intervention into his sphere of freedom. Man's highest principle, the will, would never develop. Man is led step by step. There was an initiation in wisdom, one in feeling, and one in willing. Real Christianity is the integration of all initiation stages. The initiation of antiquity was the annunciation, the preparation. Man slowly and gradually emancipated himself from gurus. Initiation at first took place in a complete trance consciousness, but there was a way to imprint a memory of what had happened outside the physical body, into the latter. That's why it was necessary to separate the etheric body, the carrier of memory, and also the astral body. Both of them dived down into the sea of wisdom, into mahadeva, into the light of Osiris. This initiation took place in the deepest secrecy and seclusion. No breath of the outer world was permitted to push in between. The man was as if dead to the outer world, the delicate seeds were cultivated away from blinding daylight.

Then initiation stepped out of the darkness of the mysteries into the brightest daylight. The initiation of all mankind took place historically — symbolically to begin with — at the stage of feeling in a great, mighty personality, the carrier of the highest unifying principle, of the Word, that expresses the hidden Father, that is his manifestation, that since it took on human form it became the son of man and could be the representative for all mankind, the unifying band for all I's: In Christ, the spirit of life, the eternal unifying one. This event was so powerful that it could go on working in every human being who lived by it, right into the appearance of stigmata, right into the most excruciating pains. Feeling was shaken to its depths. An intensity of feeling arose that had never flooded the world in such mighty waves before. The sacrifice of the I had taken place for all in the initiation on the cross of divine love. The physical expression of the I, the blood, had flowed in love for mankind and it worked in such a way that thousands pressed to this initiation, to this death, and let their blood stream out in love, in enthusiasm for mankind. How much blood flowed out in this way was never sufficiently emphasized, people are no longer aware of it, not even in theosophical circles. But the waves of enthusiasm that flowed down in this blood and ascended have fulfilled their task. They've become mighty impulse givers. They have made men ripe for an initiation of will.

And this is Christ's legacy.

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Cf. also Rudolf Steiner, Esoteric Lessons 1904-1909, pp. 81-84

"A Fitting Frame of Mind" — The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest. Lecture 1 of 18


Rudolf Steiner:  "The further development of human beings now depends upon their own will. Human beings must make themselves into vessels, and shed their external sheaths from the lower mental spheres so that they can receive the inflowing of the first logos, just as a seed is opened and awaits pollination, without which it cannot grow and bear fruit. The first logos is the eternal in the universe, the unalterable low according to which the stars move in their tracks, and which lies at the foundation of everything." [Concerning the Astral World and Devachan, p. 133]

"A Fitting Frame of Mind"

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, September 5, 1924

We will begin by pointing to a great thing in our time, namely, to that great thing which must consist of an entirely new attitude of the human soul to what works its way through priests' activities. For as long as mankind has existed on earth, people have always been attracted to what is present in the activities of priests when an act of consecration of man was performed. However, if we want to understand how the act of consecration of man must appear to the priest who celebrates it and to the layman who participates in it, we must take a look at what the act of consecration of man was in the course of man's development on earth, what it is and what it must become.
Looked at from another angle what the act of consecration of man is when it is celebrated, is a permeation of this religious service with the real content of what John, who had been initiated by Christ, wanted to give to the later Christian world with his Apocalypse. The right spirit when one is celebrating an act of consecration of man and the right consciousness when one is permeated with the substance of the Apocalypse are two things which really belong together. Let's disregard the particular form and connotations which the Apocalypse has for Christians, and let's call all the occult truths which have been and are being given in order to assure a right continuation of the priestly impulse “apocalypse.” The apocalypse concept covers a great deal, and it is concentrated and summarized in John's Apocalypse, which is attuned to the Christ. People who have striven towards an apocalypse have always been aware that one can only arrive at the complete and profound significance of the reception of apocalyptic things through an immersion in an act of consecration of man.
We will be able to explain many things if we tell ourselves that mysteries once existed, which I want to call the ancient mysteries. We don't want to take up time in this introduction with the giving of dates, so we will only describe four successive stages. There were ancient mysteries, semi-ancient mysteries, half new mysteries, and we are now at the beginning of a new mystery impulse. Therewith we have four stages before us, four stages in the development of man's understanding of apocalypses and acts of consecration of man. If we look at the ancient mysteries which existed among men at the dawn of human evolution on earth and which had to bring holy, true and beautiful things to human beings, we can say that their importance derived from the fact that dignified priests in the mysteries worked with the gods on a being to being basis. Just as human beings relate to each other on a being to being basis today, so gods associated with men and men with gods in those ancient times in the mysteries.
However, just as there are laws of nature which are valid during certain periods of time, so there are eternal laws which don't interfere with man's freedom, even though they exist. Among these eternal laws are some which refer to associations between gods and human beings. These eternal laws had to be taken into consideration when the gods associated with men in the holy mysteries in the far distant past, when everything that is connected with human instruction was occurring between divine teachers and human beings, and when what took place in the cults occurred in such a way that supersensible and powerfully active gods walked among the celebrants of the religious ceremonies. People in these ancient mysteries did the things which had always given the act of consecration of man its meaning when transubstantiations were being carried out. But what was transubstantiation in the ancient mysteries? Transubstantiation in the ancient mysteries was something which gods regarded as the last thing through which they were still entering into relations with human beings. The eternal laws which I mentioned determined the way a path is made from gods to men and from men to the gods during certain constellations of the stars and planets which one became familiar with in genuine ancient astrology, when conditions for finding out things from the stars were favorable.
You will be able to perceive one thing everywhere: if you look at the way people calculated time in the old/days, you will see that there are chronologies where they assume the existence of 354 days and others where they have 365 days. They interpose leap days and intercalary months in order to correct the discrepancies between human calculations and the true course of cosmic events. What human beings can calculate never coincides with the true course of cosmic events. A small remainder is always left over, that is, human calculations always have a small remnant in them. Priests in the ancient mysteries, were particularly interested in these small remainders where human calculations of time don't agree with the cosmic course of events. One could say that this non-coincidence became particularly noticeable at certain times, for after they divided the year into weeks and lunar months, extra days and weeks remained between the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
Anyone who wants to find his way into the course of human evolution has good reason to look at the times where men — when they interpolated weeks — expressed the non-coincidence of human calculations with the course of cosmic events, ind where priests looked upon such weeks as holy weeks. These holy weeks made it very clear that the ways gods and men think are different, but if one places the heart of the gods alongside the heart of man, one sees the difference between the two, and one can then find the way from the gods. to men and from men to the gods.
The people who really understood this and who were conversant with ancient astrology were able to observe when gods visited their mysteries. There were always holy times at the end of each year or at the end of a lunar cycle of 18 years or of other periods of time which indicated the difference or boundary between human intelligence and divine intelligence, and during which the priests in the mysteries could tell that gods can find the way to them and that men can find their way to the gods.
At such times priests tried to capture the activities of the sun and the moon in the substances with which they celebrated the act of consecration of man, so that they could extend what they had received during sacred times to the other times in which they had to celebrate. They preserved what the gods had made out of earthly substances and forces during the sacred times. They kept the water and its mercurial element, etc., from those times in order to celebrate the act of consecration of man during the rest of the year in such a way that it had a transubstantiation which was done in the same way it had been done by the gods in the services which had taken place during so-called dead times which, however, were sacred times.
During these times when cosmic language was more important than human language, the men in the ancient mysteries wanted to connect themselves with the gods who descended into the mysteries and who consecrated each religious service anew. The gods gave the human beings who carried, out or participated in these acts of consecration of man an understanding of apocalyptic things. This is how great truths were taught in ancient times, when an immersion in an act of consecration of man meant that one was permeated with apocalyptic substance. The act of consecration of man is a path of knowledge, and apocalypse is the object of this holy knowledge.
Then we come to the semi-ancient mysteries, of which there is a slight reflection in the literature, unlike the ones which I called the ancient mysteries, for the latter can only be investigated by occult science. During this time the gods withdrew from men and sent their forces down into the mysteries, and no longer appeared there as beings. It was the time in which the act of consecration of man acquired that radiance or divine glow which should always radiate above acts which consecrate human beings.
The secret behind transubstantiations was now sought in a different way. The substances and forces which were supposed to flow into the celebration of a transubstantiation were no longer determined by an astrological investigation of cosmic processes. Instead, one tried to arrive at an understanding of the inner nature of what ancient alchemists called ferments. A ferment is a substance which has attained a certain maturity, that is, it has passed through all of the preparatory stages of its material existence and activity. To take a trivial example, just think of how one bakes bread, for this occurs according to the same principle. One saves the yeast in a small part of the dough and adds it to the new dough. Try to imagine how ancient materials which had undergone inner events or a transubstantiation in the course of time were preserved in sacred vessels, which were greatly esteemed in the ancient and semi-ancient mysteries, and how they were taken out of these vessels after they had been transformed by very ancient and sacred processes.
Ferments were taken out of sacred vessels and they were used to transform substances through ancient and still sacred alchemical processes. The priest was an initiate who saw how the preserved substances and forces shone in the sacred crystalline vessels, and so he knew how the transubstantiation occurred. One looked upon these substances and forces as a cognitional organ for the people who were celebrating rituals, which enabled them to receive apocalyptic things.
The following state of affairs existed at the time of these semi-ancient mysteries. A priest passed his entrance exams, as it were, the moment he could stand before the sacred place or structure, and the old, fermenting substances in the sacred crystalline vessels became transformed for him in such a way that he saw a small sun or a natural small monstrance in the crystalline vessel, as the substances spread sunshine around them. This was something holy, and it can only be reproduced externally today. The moment he saw this he became a priest in an inner sense.
Today everyone who goes into a Catholic church sees a monstrance, but it is only a symbol for what it once was. In ancient times the only one who saw it was a true priest who saw a radiant sun appear in the preserved substances. At that moment his soul gained knowledge of apocalyptic things.
Then came the mysteries which are reflected in the modem mass. The Catholic mass, the Armenian mass and other masses arose from the half new mysteries in a very complicated way, and even though they have become externalized, they still contain the complete initiation principle. What man can perceive when magical words awaken within him began to be present in these half new mysteries, instead of the god's presence in the ancient mysteries and the presence of forces which the gods sent in the semi-ancient mysteries. These words enable one to acquire very profound knowledge of the inner nature of sound, and intense feelings resound in them.
During the time of the half new mysteries human language and cultic language were two different things, and remnants of the latter are still present in individual religious confessions. Ln this cultic language everything depends upon rhythm, a deep understanding of sounds and an understanding of the way that sounds from the priest's mouth penetrate human hearts. The intonation of magical cultic words in sacred places enabled people to ascend to the forces of the gods for the first time.
  • The first human period — ancient mysteries — the gods descend.
  • Second human period — semi-ancient mysteries — the gods send their forces down.
  • Third human period — half new mysteries — man learns a magical language and begins to ascend to the forces of the divine world through the intonation of magical words.

This is why words were intoned during the third period of acts of consecration of man. The Kabiri element lived in all religious cults which arose during this third period. For the Kabiri services and sacrifices which were celebrated in Samothrace were brought into all of the half way new ceremonies in the act of consecration of man and into all the ceremonies which belong to This. Let's place the Kabiri altar at Samothrace before our souls. The Kabirs who stood upon it as external relics were sacrificial urns that contained no ferments, but substances which men find if they can penetrate the inner spiritual aspect of matter. The sacrificial urns contained such substances. The sacrificial substances in the urns were ignited, and smoke ascended. The magical language created an Imagination of the intoned words in the rising smoke. Thus the way up to divine forces was outwardly visible in the sacrificial smoke. The priests who were surrounded by this smoke knew that they were in the right atmosphere for carrying out a transubstantiation.
As Aristotle explained to Alexander, the substances were mixed in such a way that a sacred Imagination emerged from the sacrificial smoke, and this showed one the way to the, gods. If people found this way, the priest's transubstantiation was a right one and the act of consecration of man was executed correctly. Those who celebrated and participated in it knew that it was an organ of cognition. For when the ceremonially shaped, magical words and prayers flamed up in the sacrificial smoke and streamed up to the gods, an apocalyptic revelation came down from above as a gift of grace. This was the third stage in the development of apocalyptic things and of an act of consecration of man.
These stages have deteriorated somewhat. Only their external features are still real today. A new period for the act of consecration of man and for apocalyptic things began when we inaugurated the new priesthood and a Christian renewal here at the Goetheanum. Tomorrow we will go into what the act of consecration of man must bring about in you and what should stream through your hearts in order for you to carry it out in the right way during this fourth stage.