Christ and the Spiritual World: The Search for the Holy Grail. Lecture 4 of 6
Sunday, September 4, 2011
The Logos and Chronology, Astronomy, Meteorology, and Geology: Apollo and Jahve; Elijah; Adonis; Paul
Christ and the Spiritual World: The Search for the Holy Grail. Lecture 4 of 6
Rudolf Steiner, December 31, 1913:
Yesterday we spoke of how preparation was made for that which had to come about for the evolution of humanity through the Mystery of Golgotha. We spoke of the three permeations of a Being of the higher Hierarchies by the Christ, and in the wonderful emergence of the Greek Apollo we found an echo of what had taken place at the end of the Atlantean time, as a far-distant prefiguring of the Mystery of Golgotha. Now we have to inquire how the effects of this are manifest in the evolution of mankind. It will first be necessary to say something about the basic characteristics of the world pictures which appeared in post-Atlantean times as the echoes, or after-effects, of the threefold Christ-event, for this, as we have seen, reached a certain conclusion at the end of the Atlantean Age.
Let us try to look more deeply into the fundamental characteristics of these world pictures. They arose as after-effects in human souls of all that I described yesterday. These post-Atlantean world-pictures are indeed the reflections of the threefold Christ-event in the souls of post-Atlantean mankind. From this point of view we need say only a few words about the first post-Atlantean epoch. We know that in terms of spirituality it was the highest post-Atlantean epoch up to now, but that what the souls of the holy Rishis and their disciples received from it was less penetrated by the Mysteries of which I spoke yesterday.
The first post-Atlantean world-picture to show a direct effect of the threefold Christ-event was that which arose from the Zarathustrian impulse. Now I must here remark in parenthesis that I shall have to introduce words which — because of the way they are used today — have a dry, abstract, even pedantic sound; but, search as one may through the language, there are no other words available. And so I shall want to appeal to your souls to understand by these words something far more spiritual than anything they can signify for the arid scholarship of the present time.
From the point of view relevant here I should like to associate the Zarathustrian world-picture with “Chronology”. It looks beyond the two Beings, Ahura Mazdao and Ahriman, to the workings of Time — Zervan Akarana. Not, however, the abstract Time we think of today, but Time viewed as a living, super-personal Being. From this Being proceed the rulers of Time; first of all the Amshaspands, the spiritual Beings who are symbolized in cosmic space by the signs of the Zodiac. Through the number six — or twelve if we reckon in their antipodes — they rule over the Izeds, who rank below them and are 28–31 in number. The Izeds are spirits of a lower kind, servants of the high Time Beings; they regulate the days of the month.
The Zarathustrian consciousness looked at the wonderful harmony which works through forces and is symbolized numerically by all the relations and combinations which result from the interweaving of 28 to 31 with 12. It looked into all that streams into the world and resounds through it, because in the great world-orchestra the instruments sound harmoniously together in these numerical relationships. For the Zarathustrian world-picture this appears as the ordering and harmonizing principle in the cosmic order. I want to give only a hint of these relationships. And because in that which creates, and nourishes itself in creating, in that which takes the world-pictures into itself, absorbing them spiritually and carrying them over to higher stages — because the Zarathustrian outlook sees in “Time” something living and super-personal — so, while spiritualizing the term, we may call this world-picture “Chronology”, whereby we are led to think at once of the god Kronos, the Regent of Time.
Then we come to the third post-Atlantean epoch. Yesterday I described it as the epoch in which knowledge was kindled in human souls by the forces which shone out from the stars; when the secrets of the world were no longer discerned only through the relations between the Rulers of Time in the supersensible, for these were becoming manifest in the realm of sense existence. In the courses of the stars, in the signature of their movements in cosmic space, men could now perceive how harmony and melody in cosmic happenings are brought about. This picture of the world I would like to call Astrology. So Chronology is followed by Astrology. And everything that was disclosed by the true, authentic Chronology of Zarathustrianism, and by the true, authentic Astrology of the Egyptian and Chaldean Mysteries — all this was activated by the secret influence which had come into the world though the threefold Christ-event before the Atlantean catastrophe.
And what followed in Greece or in the Graeco-Latin epoch? What I am now going to say applies not only to the Greek and Roman cultures, but also to all the other regions of Europe. Yesterday I tried to illustrate it through a single example, but it holds good, one might say, for all the West. Let us recall how the Greeks reverenced Apollo, the reflection of the Nathan Jesus-child as he had been at the end of the Atlantean time. It was out of the Hyperborean land, from the North, that Apollo came to the Oracle at Delphi. Through the Pythia, in summer, he spoke the most important things that the Greeks wished to hear. In the autumn he returned to his Hyperborean land. We connected this journey of Apollo with the journeys of the sun; but it is the spiritual sun that speaks through Apollo, and the spiritual sun goes away to the north, while the physical sun goes to the south. The myths are seen to be endlessly full of wisdom if they are considered in the light of true occultism. But in revering Apollo the Greeks did not look on the sun as his visible sign in the heavens; Apollo was not a sun god in this sense. For a god symbolized by the external sun the Greeks had Helios; it was he who regulated the course of the sun in the sky. Even if we take only the physical sun into account, we find that its influence on earth-life is not confined to the direct effects of its rays. The sun works in the first place through air and water and water-vapor, and so through the vapors which (as we have seen) rise from the site of the Castalian spring and coil around the neighboring hillsides like a dragon — the dragon killed by the Greek St. George. The sun works in all the elements, and after it has worked into them, inoculated them, its activity plays out from them on to human beings, through the servants whom we call elemental spirits. In the elements the Sun-Spirit is actively alive, and this is the activity the Greeks saw in their Apollo.
Thus for the Greeks Apollo was a sun god, but not the Helios who drove the chariot of the sun across the heavens and to some extent regulated the times of the day. In Apollo the Greeks saw the sun's activity in the atmosphere, and this activity they addressed as Apollo when they addressed it spiritually. And so it was with many gods and spiritual beings whom we find in the West. I could mention many, but we need point only to Wotan with his wild host, rushing through the storm. What form then did the world-picture — still echoing the threefold Christ-event — take in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch? Again I must make use of a pedantic, dried-out word. Astrology was followed by Meteorology. Chronology, Astrology, Meteorology! We have only to bring the “logy” into relation with the Logos.
But while all this was breaking in over the Western world, something else streamed into the whole post-Atlantean civilization. This too was an after-echo of the threefold Christ-event, but it came from quite another side. And this fourth element, running as though parallel to the Meteorology of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, is something I must again designate with a dry, pedantic word: Geology — but I beg you once more to relate the “logy” to the Logos. Geology, then — where do we encounter it?
The development of the ancient Hebrew civilization will never reveal its particular secrets unless it is studied as Geology, in our sense of the term. How do we first come upon the ranks of the Elohim, or upon the Jahve-god? We meet him first when he wishes to form into man something taken from the Earth itself. He wishes to clothe with a new covering, an Earth-vesture, the part of man that has come down from earlier times, from Saturn, Sun, Moon. Jahve is precisely the god who forms man out of the Earth — that is, out of the forces and elements of the Earth. Therefore the ancient Hebrew wisdom, since it professed the Jahve-god, had to become Geology. And this teaching about man, that he is formed out of the forces of the Earth, is Geology. Is not the geological character of the ancient Hebrew teaching shown to us at once in the name of the first man, Adam — he who was formed out of earth! That is the significant point that we must keep before us: among other peoples — the peoples with a meteorological world-picture, let us say — the creation of man is spoken of quite differently, with the emphasis on his soul. In the Greek tradition, for example, we see Prometheus engaged in the forming of man. Athene lends her aid and causes a spark from spiritual heights to be united with man. Prometheus forms the soul in the symbolic likeness of a butterfly. The Jahve-god forms man out of earth; and he, the Jahve-god, having become in the course of his evolution the Ruler of Earth, breathes out of his own substance a living soul into man. So Jahve unites himself through his breath with what he has formed out of earth. And he wishes to dwell in his offspring, in his living breath, in Adam and his descendants; those beings whom Jahve considered it his task to clothe in earth. And now to carry this further, let us try to call up before our souls everything we find handed down by the Bible from Hebrew antiquity itself.
We know, and have emphasized, that the Earth develops certain forces. Goethe and Giordano Bruno, among others, compare these forces to those of in-breathing and out-breathing in human beings. The Earth does have forces of in-breathing and out-breathing which bring about ebb and flow, the swelling and sinking of the waters; they are inner Earth-forces, but the same as those which guide the Moon around the Earth. In water-effects we encounter a manifestation of these Earth-forces. In this realm the Bible shows us the Deluge as another important event after the creation of Adam, the ‘man of earth’. And now let us pass on to the time of Moses!
If we look at the doings of Moses in the right light, we find them constantly related to activities of the Earth. Moses goes to the rocks with his rod and makes water gush out. Moses goes up the mountain. Above and below, the mountain is connected with Earth activity. For we must think of this mountain as a volcano, or at least as volcanic. It is not the Sinai generally imagined; the Earth is active in it. The column of fire in which Moses stands is akin to what happens when we burn a piece of paper in the sulphur hills of Italy and smoke comes out. So does fiery smoke, telluric activity, come out of the mountain. And in telluric activity the Jews always saw symbols. In front of them went the pillar of cloud or of fire — telluric activity! We could go deeply into details and everywhere we should find that the spirit of Earth prevails in all that Moses gives out as a revelation of the Jahve-god. What Moses proclaims is Geology!
The profound difference between the Greek and the Hebrew conceptions of the world will never be understood unless it is recognized that the Greek conception belongs to Meteorology, and the Hebrew conception to Geology. The Greeks felt that they were living in the midst of forces pouring in on the Earth from the surrounding Cosmos; pouring into the air and pervading the atmosphere. The Hebrews felt themselves in close relationship to forces rising from the Earth below and bound up with the Earth. Yes, even the sufferings of the Hebrew people come from the desert, where the Earth-forces prevail. Geology dominates the destiny of the Hebrews. Geology, expressed now in the fruitfulness of the Earth, is what draws them, through the reports of their spies, to the Promised Land. [Numbers 13:16]
Paul knew well that this consciousness of a connection with the Earth-spirit is a result of the pre-earthly Christ-event, for he indicates that it was the Christ who led the Jews through the desert and caused water to flow from the rock. And if we were to go on from the Bible to some of the significant Hebrew legends, we should find them permeated with Geology, in the sense meant here. Thus we are told how Jahve, when he was forming man out of earth, sent forth an angel to gather earths of different colors from all parts of the Earth, so that everything belonging to the Earth should be mingled in Adam's bodily vesture. Today we should say that Jahve took great care to place man on the Earth so that in his true being he would be the highest flower, the crown, of earthly creation.
For the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Zoroastrians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the European peoples of central and northern Europe, the most important part of man was the part that came from the spiritual world. For the Jews, the most important element in man was connected with the Earth and its forces. Jahve felt himself as the god whose spiritual rulership prevailed throughout the Earth.
Thus we can regard as the most important event in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch the emergence of Geology side by side with Meteorology. And a wonderful spiritual reflection of this comes to expression in ancient Hebrew prophecy.
What were these prophets really striving for? Let us try to look into the prophetic souls of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hezekiah, Daniel, Joel, Jonah, and Zechariah. If we do this quite impartially, without any preconceptions, we find that they were endeavoring, fundamentally, to bring a particular soul-force into the forefront of the soul and to drive another soul-force down, as it were, into the depths. I have already asked you to notice how, in the paintings by Michelangelo which I described, the prophets are always depicted sitting there as if wrapped in deep thought, inwardly at rest, so that one sees how in the devotion of their souls they are connected through sub-earthly depths with the Eternal. In contrast with them Michelangelo places the Sibyls, who are open to the elemental powers of the Earth. Thus the hair of one Sibyl is blown about by the wind; even her blue mantle billows in the wind, and under the influence of the wind she utters her prophecies. We see another Sibyl seized by inner fire; in the typically assertive gesture of her hand we see the fire, the earthly element. We could look again at these Sibyls one by one and we should find that they live in the midst of the forces which play into their souls from the elemental surroundings of the Earth. These Sibylline forces, which so to speak draw into their souls the spirit of the elements and bring it to expression — these are the forces that the old Jewish Prophets wanted to repress. If you read impartially the whole history of the Jewish Prophets, you will find that the prophet sets himself — and that is the aim of his training — to suppress in himself the Sibylline urge and to prevent it from ever breaking out.
Apollo changed the Sibylline impulse of the Pythia by sinking himself into it and speaking through her. The Prophets wanted to suppress everything Pythian in their souls and to cultivate solely that which works in the clear force of the Ego; the Ego which is bound up with the Earth and belongs to it; the Ego which is the spiritual counterpart of the geological element. How the Eternal reveals itself in the Ego through calm repose, when the Sibylline elements are silent, when all inner turmoil ceases, when only calm prevails and gazes into the grounds of the Eternal — that is what the Jewish Prophets wished to manifest, so that their proclamations could spring from a temper of soul which corresponds in the highest degree with Geology.
Thus the stirring message that sounds forth to us from the Prophets is like an outflowing of the geological element, and even when things turn out quite differently from what has been prophesied, this very fact shows us how closely bound are the Prophets to the element of Geology. A future kingdom which will redeem the existing kingdom while remaining in all appearance an earthly kingdom, a heaven on Earth — that is first of all what the Prophets announce, so closely are they united with Geology.
This geological element in the Prophets flowed on even into the early days of Christianity, since people expected not only the return of the Messiah, but that he would come down from the clouds and found his kingdom on Earth. The distinctive inner character of Jewish culture will be understood only if it is taken in this sense as Geology. This was what the Prophets longed for and inculcated in their pupils — to suppress the Sibylline element, together with everything that leads the soul into unconscious depths, and to make manifest that which lives in the Ego.
The relations of all other peoples to their gods were different from those of the Jews to their Jahve. The other relations were predetermined: they reflected the outcome of the relations of men to the spirits of the higher Hierarchies during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods. The Jewish people had the task of developing a relationship which belonged specially to the Earth period. But when the Ego wishes to establish a relationship with its god, how does this find expression? Not as inspiration, so that morality springs from the operation of divine forces within the soul, but as commandment. The form of commandment found in the Decalogue is encountered first among the Jews — whatever nonsense learned men may talk about earlier commandments, Hammurabi, and so forth. I cannot go now into the follies of modern scholarship. The commandments that arise when the Ego stands directly over against God and receives from God the rule, the precept, that the Ego must follow out of its own inner will — this kind of commandment is met with first among the Jewish people. And it is here, too, that we first find God entering into a covenant with his people.
The other gods worked with forces which are always connected with subconscious realms of the soul. Let us recall how Apollo worked through the Pythia, and how a person on his way to the Pythia had to prepare himself, so that the god might be able to speak to him. Apollo spoke through the unconscious soul-life of the Pythia. In contrast with this we have the Jahve-god uttering his commandments, making a covenant with his people, speaking directly to the Ego in the soul. And the Prophets immediately wax wroth if something happens which did often happen to the Jewish people — if the influence of heathen peoples gains sway over the Jews. No subconscious forces were to be allowed to influence the Jews; everything had to rest on the alliance with God and the principle of the Law. That was the especial concern of the Prophets. And now let us look back a little, with the aid of occult knowledge, over what we have already tried to illustrate.\
Yesterday we came to know about the threefold Christ-event which took place in Lemurian and Atlantean times. We saw how on three occasions the Being who appeared later as the Nathan Jesus-child was permeated by the Christ, but in such a way that he did not incarnate on Earth but remained in spiritual worlds. And when we look back over what happened then, we must say that what was accomplished in Atlantean times flowed over into the East.
For example, Elijah was one of the Prophets — but in what sense is he a Prophet? He is a servant of the God Jahve, but in his soul an echo of the threefold Christ-event lives on. In his soul is the knowledge: “As a prophet of Jahve I must above all things proclaim that in Jahve there lives the Christ who will later on fulfill the Mystery of Golgotha; the Christ who poured His enduring influence into the cosmos through His third experience at the end of the Atlantean time.” Elijah proclaimed the Christ-filled Jahve. For the Christ was indeed living in Jahve, the Jahve-god, but as a reflection of Himself. As the moon reflects the sunlight, so did Jahve reflect the Being who then lived as Christ. Christ caused his Being to be reflected from Jahve or the Jahve-god. But a messenger such as Elijah worked in the after-effects of the threefold Christ-event; we might say that Elijah went ahead of the Nathan Jesus-being, who was passing spiritually from West to East in order to find his way into the course of civilization and then to be born as one of the Jesus-children.
The overflow, as it were, of Meteorology, especially when this came into touch with Geology, was felt by all peoples as a heralding of things to come. And we meet with the remarkable fact that in the region which afterwards became so important for Christianity one of these prefiguring signs occurred. We see how in the most varied places of Asia Minor, and also in Europe, festivals were held which were like foreshadowings of the Mystery of Golgotha. The cults of Attis and Adonis have been correctly noted as having this character. But if we look at these festivals in their true light, we see that the event they prefigure is on the meteorological level. The god who was slain as Adonis, and who rose again, was not thought of as embodied in the flesh. What his worshippers had for a god was primarily an image, a picture; and in fact it was a picture of the angelic Being who in spiritual heights was permeated by the Christ at the close of the Atlantean time and was later born as the Nathan Jesus-child. It was the destiny of the Nathan Jesus-child that was celebrated in the worship of Adonis and Attis.
We can now say that it was part of the karma of world history — you will perhaps look for something more behind these words — that in the place where the Bible with a certain truth locates the birth of the Jesus-child — in Bethlehem — there was a center of the Adonis cult. Bethlehem was one of the places where Adonis had been worshipped. The Adonis who died and rose again was often celebrated there, and so was an aura prepared by the calling up of a memory: Once in the spiritual heights there was a Being who then belonged still to the Hierarchy of Angels and was later to come to Earth as the Nathan Jesus-child; a Being who at the end of the Atlantean time had been permeated by the Christ. What had formerly been done for the harmonizing of thinking, feeling, and willing — this was celebrated at the Adonis festivals. And in Bethlehem, where Adonis festivals had been held, we have also the birthplace of the Nathan Jesus-child. In conjunction, these words sound strange. But when we have sought out the threefold Christ-event, the super-earthly event which on three occasions preceded the Mystery of Golgotha, do we not see the Christ pass over from West to East, to the place where the Mystery of Golgotha was to be fulfilled? Do we not see how He had sent His messenger in Elijah, and do we not know how in his next incarnation the messenger reappeared as John the Baptist? And are we not expressly told of this in a wonderful harmony of words: “He sent his angel before him, to herald his coming?” That can be said as well of John as of Elijah. Or even better of Elijah, as will be understood by those who remember my saying that Elijah remained in spiritual heights and worked through a representative, so that he himself never went about on Earth. If you reflect on that, the expression “He sent his angel before him” is even more appropriate to Elijah than to John. Such messengers were always messengers of the Christ, who was passing from West to East.
And now the Geology of the Jews was to be permeated by the spiritual Being whom we have learnt to see as having a particular activity in relation to the Earth. Geology was to be Christened (durchchristet). The spirit of the Earth was to be experienced in a new way by men; they had to be enabled to free this spirit, in a certain sense, from the Earth. But this was possible only if there came a power which could free the spirit of the Earth from the forces of the Earth. This happened when the Earth's aura was permeated by the power of the Christ and in consequence a change came over the Earth itself. The Christ entered into the forces which the Jahve-god had released and gave them a different character.
From all this, if we look back over it, we can understand why the laurel became a visible symbol of Apollo. For those who bring something of Spiritual Science to the study of the plant kingdom, the laurel has a strong connection with meteorological conditions. It is shaped and built out of Meteorology. Another plant is much more closely bound up with the Earth; is so to speak an expression of Geology. If one really feels how the oil penetrates the olive tree, so that in one's own soul the elemental forces are stirred by the way in which the tree allows a new sprout to be grafted on to it and to flourish there — then one can feel how the olive tree is inwardly penetrated with the oil of Earth. One can feel the earthly element pulsing through the oil.
And now you will remember something I touched on in the second lecture — that Paul was called to build a bridge between Hebrew antiquity and Christianity, between Geology and Christology. As we said, Paul's activity extends through the realm of the olive tree. And if we understand Apollo in the vapors rising from the mountain chasms, and how through the vapors he inspires the Pythia and speaks oracular words concerning human fate, then we can also feel how the elemental forces stream from the olive tree into its environment, and these are forces familiar to the soul of Paul. We can feel it in his words. He immerses himself, as it were, in Geology in order to feel the elemental forces in the aura of the olive tree and to let its aura inspire him in that geographical realm where his work lay.
Nowadays people read these things far too abstractly. They imagine that things said by writers in the past were as abstract, as dependent only on the brain, as are the things often said by modern authors. People do not reflect how not only understanding and reason, but all the forces of the soul, can be connected in a primordial earthly sense with all that gives a certain region its particular stamp. It was the olive tree that gave its stamp to the Pauline region. And when Paul sought to raise the Jewish Geology up to himself, then it was that — inspired by the olive tree — he spoke the most important things concerning the relationship of the Christ-filled man to men who are far from Christ. Let us hear the strange words Paul uses when he wishes to bring the Gentile Christians into relation with the Jews. They are not to be taken abstractly, but as words that rise new-minted from the elemental depths of his soul: Romans 11:13–24 (From the New English Bible):
“But I have something to say to you Gentiles. I am a missionary to the Gentiles, and as such I give all honor to that ministry when I try to stir emulation in the men of my own race, and so to save some of them. For if their rejection has meant the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean? Nothing less than life from the dead! If the first portion of dough is consecrated, so is the whole lump. If the root is consecrated, so are the branches. But if some of the branches have been lopped off, and you, a wild olive, have been grafted in among them, and have come to share the same root and sap as the olive, do not make yourself superior to the branches. If you do so, remember that it is not you who sustain the root: the root sustains you.
“You will say, ‘Branches were lopped off so that I might be grafted in.’ Very well: they were lopped off for lack of faith, and by faith you hold your place. Put away your pride, and be on your guard; for if God did not spare the native branches, no more will he spare you. Observe the kindness and the severity of God — severity to those who fell away, divine kindness to you, if only you remain within its scope; otherwise you too will be cut off, whereas they, if they do not continue faithless, will be grafted in; for it is in God's power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from your native wild olive and against all nature grafted into the cultivated olive, how much more readily will they, the natural olive-branches, be grafted into their native stock!”
Thus wrote he of whom tomorrow we will speak further, showing how he took what he had to say from Jewish Geology and drew a superb picture of the elemental forces which rise up from the Earth and reign in the olive tree.