"All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." — John 1:3
The Influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man [Collected Works vol. 102]. Lecture 1. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, January 6, 1908
Today we shall have to speak from the aspect of Spiritual Science about various facts and beings of the higher worlds and about their connection with man. It must be pointed out from the outset, although in such a working group it might seem unnecessary, that today's lecture is intended for those students of spiritual matters who have reached a more advanced stage. This must be possible from time to time. One who is a newcomer at these Monday lectures may perhaps feel somewhat surprised by what is said today, yet we should make no progress if we did not sometimes discuss things pertaining to the higher spheres of spiritual science. It is possible that someone who has only lately met the truths of Spiritual Science and is waiting to be convinced may find a sort of craziness in many things to be expressed today, but such provinces must be touched upon from time to time.
You will have gathered from the lectures given here recently that when we ascend with clairvoyance into the higher worlds we there meet with beings who, it is true, do not belong to our physical world, but who are in themselves so independent that we can describe them as ‘persons’ for those worlds, just as we call men here on the physical plane ‘persons.’ You have seen that groups of animals of the same species together belong to a group-soul or group-ego and that on the astral plane we come upon the lion-soul, the tiger-soul, and so on, as independent personalities whom we can meet there as we meet the human being on the physical plane. In the same way we find in still higher regions, on the devachanic plane, the egos of quite large plant groups, and in the highest parts of Devachan we find the egos of the minerals, personalities as distinct as men are here on the physical plane. We saw in this way that in these higher worlds we meet with certain beings who, so to speak, extend part of their organism, their separate members, down into the physical plane. If a man were to extend his fingers through openings in a curtain or partition we should only see the ten fingers, the man himself would be behind the partition. So it is with the group-egos of the animals. Here with the physical eye we see what is extended down below as members by higher beings of the astral world, and the actual ego is behind the partition, behind that wall which separates the physical world from the astral world. And in a corresponding way this holds good for the other group-egos, the group-egos of the plant or the mineral world. When we raise ourselves from the physical world into higher worlds we meet not only these beings who have been described as extending their members down below here, but we meet a whole number of other beings who may equally well be considered personalities for those worlds, but whose physical members are not so directly visible and evident as those of the group egos of animals, plants, and minerals.
The astral plane and devachanic plane are in fact densely populated worlds. We find many kinds of beings there whose effects are manifested here on the physical plane though not obviously, and who have much to do with the physical plane, with our whole modern human life. One does not understand this life if one does not know that beings who live above in higher worlds are active within it. In the human body itself much goes on over which man is not master, which is not the expression of the human ego but the deed, effect, manifestation, of beings of higher worlds. It is of these things that we will speak today.
When we observe the astral plane we come upon certain beings there — only one kind among many — who seem to have no expression or manifestation among the beings found on the physical plane, but who are yet connected with it. There on the astral plane we meet with them as astral beings — with pronounced will, pronounced purposes, and so on. Within our immediate world they have this existence on the astral plane, but they are related, belong, to the same sort of beings as inhabit our present moon, having even a certain physical existence on the moon. One who is able to approach these things clairvoyantly knows that on their scene of action, the moon, these are beings in a certain respect similar to man, but that they are dwarfs in comparison, scarcely reaching the height of a six or seven year old child. Upon the moon, however, a particular opportunity is offered them for their activity. The physical conditions are quite different there, the atmosphere for instance is quite different and in consequence when these beings withdraw, so to speak, to their habitat they acquire the faculty of a tremendous roaring, of uttering immensely powerful, frightful sounds. These dwarf-like beings can maintain an astral existence within our world. You must in fact picture conditions in the higher worlds as being much more complicated than people are wont to do.
As soon as we speak from the aspect of the higher worlds, there exists an unbroken connection between the different planets and so the moon is connected with the earth just as for instance Berlin and Hamburg are connected by the telephone. Beings that live on the moon can therefore carry out their operations on the earth with the aid of astral forces. One might call them the reverse side of other beings whom we also find in the astral world, beneficent beings who, compared even with the mildest human nature, are yet much, much milder — in their speech too, very mild and gentle. The speech of these beings has not that aridity of human language which a man must ponder over a long time if he is to express himself, and clothe his thoughts and ideas in words. One could say that the thoughts of these beings flow from their lips — not merely the expression of the thoughts in words, but thoughts themselves flow in a gentle language from their lips. These beings are likewise to be found within our astral world; they have their actual scene of action on another planet. As the first-named beings are at home on the moon, these second are at home on Mars, they inhabit Mars and are in fact the main population — as certain human races are the principal population on our earth. If we then mount up higher to the devachanic plane we find certain beings who in their own way are also of a mild, peaceable nature and who in a certain respect are extraordinarily clever. These beings to be found on the devachanic plane have their actual home on the planet Venus, as the other beings on moon and Mars. On Venus too we find yet a second species of beings who — in contrast to the gentle, amiable kind — present a wild and furious vitality, and whose principal occupation consists in mutual fighting and plunder.
Again we find on the higher parts of the devachanic plane certain beings who are very difficult to describe. We can only do so comparatively by saying that they are infinitely inventive: at every moment of life they devise something — for it would be false to say that they think it out. Their inventive gift is rather as if one were to look at something and at the same instant — even in the beholding — one had the impression of how one could form it differently. Invention comes to them spontaneously. These beings, who have their home on Saturn, are again confronted by others who seem to be their reverse side; savage, horrible beings who possess to an infinitely higher, more frightful degree all that lives in man as wild, sensual greed and inordinate desire.
Now all these beings who have been mentioned are by no means unconnected with our existence. Their deeds, activities, manifestations, are definitely extended into our life and their action is particularly to be traced by clairvoyance when certain conditions appear on earth. Thus the beings who — naturally as astral beings — are at home on the moon are present on earth in the most varied circumstances, when for instance a man falls a prey to illusionary ideas, or where insane people are gathered. Such astral beings show special preference for the neighborhood of insane asylums. They are, moreover, almost always to be found near mediums and somnambulists; these persons have such beings swirling round them, and a large proportion of the influences that are exercised upon them is derived from the presence of these creatures. Where on the other hand love and kindliness prevail, where humanitarianism is unfolded, there you find the mild, gentle Mars beings present as astral creations, taking part in the forces which are there at work. That is nourishment for them, the atmosphere in which they can live and whence they exercise their influence on man.
Whenever human discoveries are made, where engineers are at work, in technical workshops, there the atmosphere is created for the inventive Saturn beings. On the other hand where some sort of activity is developed which has to do with presence of mind, beings are there who have their seat on Venus.
So you see how man in the most varied circumstances is continually accompanied by such swirling elemental beings, as they may be called. Man is really never alone; whatever he does and whatever he undertakes is at the same time an opportunity for the development of a number of beings. Man's deeds, both fine and crude, deeds of idealism and the most ugly deeds, all give an opportunity for the presence of creatures who encroach into man's forces and occupy themselves there and whom one must know if one is to get a true view of life. He who does not realize these things passes through life in complete blindness. We are not concerned here with mere theory or a theoretical challenge; all these things are directly practical. For man will only little by little in the future earthly evolution learn to act and frame his conduct on right lines, when he begins to recognize what creatures are summoned in response to certain deeds and circumstances. Everything that man does is like a summons to unknown beings. It is not only the insane or mediums that these moon beings — among whom are thoroughly malevolent little rascals, can venture to approach; when, for instance, young children are overfed in such a senseless way that they become greedy, then these beings can sidle up to them and spoil their development. You see then how necessary it is for man to know what he stirs up around him through his behavior and whole attitude in the world!
Now these beings in yet another respect are by no means unconnected with man. They have on the contrary a deep relation to our human structure. Of all that exists in the human body, there is actually only one thing that belongs or can increasingly belong to man — and that is his blood. Man's blood is the direct expression of his ego. If however he is not perpetually careful to strengthen his ego inwardly through a strong and vigorous will, through strong forces of his soul, if so to speak, he loses control of his ego then other beings can fasten upon his blood, and that is very grave and evil for him. On the other hand, many other beings are anchored in other parts of the present human organism. We will now see all that actually stretches its feelers into the human body, all that is anchored there. But we must first examine the human body a little.
You are aware that the blood as it flows through the arteries and spreads out in the body is the expression of man's ego and that it becomes a stronger and stronger expression as the ego itself finds its centre, finds its inner centre of strength in an increasing degree. Man's ego will only in a far distant future obtain control of other enclosed portions of the organism. Many other beings are still contained to-day in these other constituents of the human body. Let us call to mind, for example, the three bodily humors, the three juices, chyle, lymph, blood, in order to study them more closely. You perhaps know the significance that these three kinds of fluid have for man. You know that when food is taken in, it is first conveyed through the preparatory organs into the stomach, mixed and prepared with the right juices secreted by the glands so that it can be worked upon through the intestines. There the food is brought into a pulpy condition, the chyme, which is conveyed forwards through the intestines. Whatever can form nutritious material for man is then passed into the body through minute vascular organs called the ‘villi’ in order to serve as nutritive juices for renewing the body. This is one of the substances which we have in the body and which we call the ‘chyle.’
Then perhaps you also know that besides the chyle, which is produced through the entry into the human body of food from outside, there are other vessels inside the body of a similar nature which conduct a species of fluid resembling in a certain respect the white substance in our blood. This juice flows through the whole human organism in certain vessels which very largely take the same course as the blood vessels we call veins, because they contain blue-red blood. These even take up the chyle too. The fluid which they contain is the lymph. This is a juice which one might say is spiritualized in comparison with the uniform food juice, the chyle. The vessels which convey the lymph take their course throughout the whole body, in a certain respect they even pass through the bone marrow and what they convey then absorbs the chyle too. All the lymph which is spread out and runs through the left half of the body and lower extremities — that is the left side of the head, left side of the trunk, the left hand and both legs — all this is collected, flows into the left clavicular vein and then empties into the blood circulation. Only the lymph contained in vessels on the right side of the head and the right side of the trunk, unite and enter the right clavicular vein so that in this way the lymph vessels become the expression of an important fact.
You see how man is divided into two parts; not, indeed, symmetrically, but so that one part comprises all the lower parts of the body with the left half of the trunk and head, while the other part is formed from the right side of the trunk and head. Lymph is a second fluid pulsating in man, a fluid that stands much nearer to the soul than does the chyle, the gastric and intestinal juices of the chyle. It is true that the digestion and the whole circulation of the chyle are also influenced greatly by the soul conditions, but these are much more deeply connected with the lymph. In a man who is very active and energetic the lymph flows much more vigorously than in a man who is heavy, lazy and inactive. We could instance many conditions of the soul which are connected with the course of the lymph in the human body.
The third fluid is the blood, of which we have often spoken. It comprises a red life-giving blood, rich in oxygen that flows in the arteries and a blue-red blood rich in carbon that flows in the veins. And as our blood is the expression of our ego, so is the lymph in a certain direction the expression of the human astral body. Such things do not manifest themselves merely in one direction. From another aspect the nerve-system is the expression of the astral body. To-day we will consider the aspect in which the deed, the revelation, the expression, of the astral body is the lymph. Just as a man can fill two professions so too can the astral body be on the one hand the builder of the nerve-system, and on the other hand the builder, the creator, of the lymph. In the same way man's etheric body is the builder and creator of the whole glandular system, as well as in another aspect the organizer, creator, and controller of the circulation of the chyle. Here you have the connection of these fluids taking their course in the human body, with the members of human nature itself.
Now we must be clear that in the human astral body and etheric body, the ego is definitely not the only master. Gradually in the course of evolution man's ego attains to a greater control over his astral body and his etheric body as he changes the former into spirit-self or Manas and the latter into life spirit or Budhi. But as long as man has not control of these parts of his being, other beings are connected with these human members.
In the human astral body other beings are embedded like the maggots in cheese — forgive the unappetizing comparison — but so it is. And in fact the astral beings which are embedded in, and connected with, the human astral body are those whom I have described as having their real habitat on the moon or Mars, according as they are benevolent or malevolent. They anchor themselves there. And lymph, the whitish juice that courses through man, belongs to the body of beings who live in our astral world. To be sure, these beings of the astral plane, with their real home on the moon or Mars, are not so obvious as are the animal group-egos. But they are of such an astral nature that in a certain other direction we can say: just as in an animal group, a group of lions, for instance, we have a kind of manifestation of the distinct personality on the astral plane, the lion-ego, so in the lymph passing through the human body we have, though not so obviously, the manifestation, the extended members, of these astral beings.
Then — you may ask — have these astral beings as much a kind of physical existence as the group-souls of the animals, as the group-ego of the Lion-species in its manifestation in the single lions here on the physical plane? If you ask this question, one would have to answer: yes, they have. Just as in the case of the animals we saw that the astral group-ego extends its separate members into the separate lion-individuals, so these astral beings also extend their physical being here. They could not, however, extend it from outside into the physical plane; for this they need beings on the physical plane whose parasites they are, into whom they fasten and bore. They are here the parasites of men. If there were no human race here on earth they would very soon take their departure; they could find no dwelling place, it would not suit them here. But there are beings, men and higher animals, who have lymph and there these beings have their physical manifestation. Thus not merely a material substance pulses through our body but in such circulation move whole hosts of these beings. They revolve through man, move along through him and have their bodies in the lymph — whereas the actual human being, the ego-man has his body, to begin with, merely in the blood. And the preponderance of moon beings or Mars beings of this nature circling through a man gives his lymph its special character. If more moon beings circulate through his body he is a man who inclines more easily to wrong-doing, irritation, and anger, if more Mars beings, then he is a man who is more inclined to gentleness, kindliness, mildness. You see how man is not traversed merely by fluids but also by spirits, and how one only understands man when one knows that spirits pass through him and not fluids merely.
Now if you examine clairvoyantly what one calls chyle, that is, the external expression of the human etheric body, you find that similar beings are also incorporated into this. The beings primarily anchored there are those whom we have already characterized as the good and the evil Venus beings, those having their home on Venus and existing in our devachanic world. There they are personalities for clairvoyant vision and they have their expression, their manifestation, here in physical life in the human chyle — however strange that may seem. Living in this fluid that courses through the human body, these beings have their actual home on the devachanic plane, and in so far as they take on a physical body, have their physical life on Venus. And since Venus is connected in a certain way through its forces with our whole earthly vegetation and all that lives on earth, you will realize the connection existing between man's nourishment and the effect produced in him through what he takes in as nourishment. That most assuredly is not a matter of indifference. Influences of the Venus beings live in all the plants and naturally also in the animal kingdom. The influences may come on the one hand from the good, gentle, mild Venus beings, or on the other hand, from the wild beings who have been described to you as greedy for plunder and engaged in conflict with each other. According as the one or the other kind work upon our animals and plants, so are virtues or vices built into man's body when the flesh of these animals or the food obtained from these plants are transformed into the chyle.
By this you can see, from a higher standpoint than could he presented in earlier lectures, how important it is to know about human nutrition from the aspect of spiritual science, to know the influences under which the various plants and animals are standing. You can gather, for instance, that one who knows that plants and animals standing under certain celestial influences flourish in a certain country, can also learn to grasp how a quite definite national character must arise. For in everything that man consumes from his environment he eats, not only the substances analyzed by chemistry, he eats at the same time definite spirits, and it is these spirits which enter through his mouth into the stomach and spread out through his being. There the perspective opens to us of how the character of a people can be known from the deeper geographical constitution of a country.
Do not forget a remark which you can find in the lecture on the Lord's Prayer  where such a fact was presented from quite a different aspect. There it was stated that man stands in a certain relation to his whole people through his etheric body, and is connected through his astral body with his nearer surroundings.
Here again you see illuminated from a still deeper aspect how folk-character is formed from the spiritual beings which are absorbed into man with his food. It is one of the means by which the great spiritual guidance of the earth distributes the different national characters over the earth; foods which produce one or another effect have been distributed in such a way that the character of a certain people arises from the nourishment that it obtains. That does not lead in a round-about way to materialism: spiritual science shows how everything of a material nature is a revelation of the spirit and how in a way unknown to man spiritual influences are themselves diffused within him.
It is more difficult to understand the way in which the Saturn spirits work upon man. There are on the one hand Saturn spirits who directly they observe anything immediately make some invention, on the other hand there are those who develop terribly disordered passions of a sensual nature, in comparison with which all that man can develop in this direction is child's play. These Saturn spirits insinuate themselves into the human body in a still more hidden way, namely, through sense perception. When we turn our eye to a beautiful, pure and noble thing, a concept is aroused in us; when we turn our eye to a sordid, ignoble thing then a different concept is aroused. Now when a concept is called forth in the soul through outer impressions there slip into man at the same time these Saturn spirits — the good and the bad. And through all that man by his mere sympathies and antipathies unfolds around himself as environment, as what he hears and sees and smells, he exposes himself to the insinuations of the one or other order of the Saturn-spirits. When man is sensing they draw into him through eyes and ears and the whole skin. It is quite frightful, for instance, to observe occultly what dissolute spirits insinuate themselves into the nose of persons out of their surroundings, through many perfumes that are highly prized in human society — quite apart from what slinks into the nose of those who carry these perfumes on their own person.
We see from this how finely and closely one must observe the most everyday things from the spiritual standpoint if one wants to be clear about life. Much could be told you of people who more or less consciously knew how to command spirits which particularly work upon man through scents and slip into him with the perfume. If you had a deeper, more intimate knowledge of various things in history, particularly the history of France at the time of Louis XIII, XIV, and XV, with all the arts developed there, where in fact aromas played an important part in the drama of intrigue, you would then have an idea of what men are able to do — consciously or unconsciously — who know how to command the spirits which creep into human sense perception in perfumes. I could refer you to quite an attractive book that has been written recently by the Minister of a little Court. He wrote it naturally without any knowledge of these facts, but he was quite clear about the effects. It is a very interesting book about this little Court where a notable catastrophe took place in recent years, and where the Minister and dignitary concerned describes from his Memoirs the machinations of a person who in a certain way knew how to command aromas and their spirits. And he describes it with a certain satisfaction because he was armed against it and had not fallen a victim. You see, these things are not without significance and effect for practical life. When one understands life not as a blind materialist, but as a seeing man, then one can trace the spiritual influences everywhere — and if the influences are known, life is understood for the first time.
So you see how we must picture man to ourselves as quite a complicated being, as an associate of many kinds of worlds, many kinds of beings. One who advances on the path of occult development to ever higher stages of knowledge learns to know these beings in their special nature and thereby becomes independent of them, he is able to view them from an independent standpoint. To take into oneself the truth concerning higher worlds means to become really free, really mature, for we are then aware of the activities and impulses which pulse and flow through our life. Learning to know one's way means at the same time to become free and independent.
And just as one can point to certain fluids pulsing through man, so can certain human organs be indicated in which beings of the higher worlds likewise find their expression and manifestation. Thus, for instance, the beings just described to you as Saturn beings find their expression in a certain respect in the human liver. You must of course be clear that if one really wants to understand Spiritual Science one discovers it to be a very complicated domain.
You are aware that in the Saturn development of human evolution the first inception of the senses came into existence through the forces of Saturn. In a similar way Saturn still works into man and among his inner bodily organs it is the liver upon which the Saturn forces have a strong and intensive influence. The human being who is on the way to evolve beyond everything of a Saturn nature, must therefore grow beyond the forces which are anchored in his liver. And although certain forces are present in the liver from which man must free himself, yet they were necessary to enable him to come to his present form and shape; they must however be overcome. You can prove this in a certain way by external evidence. You can discover, for instance, that in the period before birth and directly after birth, when the human body is being built up, the liver occupies the greatest space in relation to the rest of the body and that then it becomes smaller and smaller. In fact the ratio at birth could be given as 1:18 whereas the relation later is 1:36. The liver decreases approximately by one half, and thus by purely natural development man overcomes the forces rooted in it.
Inasmuch as earthly man is intended to evolve to higher and higher spirituality he has acquired as an outward physical expression the power to overcome the liver forces. In a certain way the lungs represent the counter-organ to the liver. They do not enclose everything egotistically in themselves as the liver does, they open man fully outwards, he stands in continual communication with the world through the air that he takes in and again gives out. A combustion goes on in the lungs. The blue-red carbon-rich blood enters the lungs and is transformed through its combination with oxygen into red life-giving blood. Just as in a burning flame the substances unite with the oxygen, so in the lungs there is a process of burning. Breathing may be called a combustion process, and with this breathing and combustion process man has been endowed with the prospect of attaining a higher and higher evolution. The forces which built him up have reached their ultimate stage in the liver. The forces which he receives like a fire from the air will rescue him from the forces chaining him to earth. The fire which man receives from the air and which is expressed in his breathing is that which leads him upwards to ever higher spheres.
Myths and legends are always deeper and more filled with wisdom than our apparently advanced science. In the Prometheus myth we have a magnificent expression of what has just been related from the facts of human life. The myth says that Prometheus brought man fire from heaven and indicates in this way that Prometheus participates in the process which is expressed in the human breath and which leads man upwards. But a wonderful explanation is given: because Prometheus raises himself above the forces which chain man to the earth and opposes them, because he is the one to give man this force of the fire, therefore he must suffer for it. The suffering is wonderfully represented as the fact underlying the Myth, namely, a vulture devours the liver of the fettered Prometheus. How could it be shown more finely and wisely that the forces streaming into us with the breathing process gnaw at the liver and that he who accomplishes in advance what is accomplished by mankind in a far future, stands there like a crucified one — how that which sinks down out of the air, eats into the liver!
Thus the initiates have expressed the mighty truths of existence in the myths. There is no myth really drawn from the Mysteries which does not express deep wisdom which can afterwards be checked. When, equipped with the knowledge of spiritual science, we approach the myths we must stand before them in reverence. They have been revealed by the higher Spiritual Beings to man so that he may first learn in pictures what he must later attain in clear concepts. More and more it will be realized that the myths contain wisdom and if one would find deepest wisdom displayed in any sphere of life, one must go to the myths. This has been known to those who have created out of the depths of art. Deep truth, for instance, underlies Richard Wagner's relation to mythology, and it has come to expression in his work in an artistic way. Our time is one which will reascend from a merely physical commonplaceness to a completely spiritual stream. If you look into what pulsates in our time from this standpoint you will understand in ever deeper sense the task of Spiritual Science.
Thus, starting from the study of higher worlds we have come to recognize the actual mission of Spiritual Science. It is to enable man to learn to know life, and when he is working and creating to show him what is secretly working with him when he moves his hand, when he creates with spirit, soul, and body. Through spiritual knowledge he will become more and more conscious of the beings who are his companions, and will live and create with them in harmony. Thus spiritual research will reveal to him the fullness of reality and enable him to bring knowledge and wisdom into life.
Notes:1. Rudolf Steiner, The Lord's Prayer, Anthroposophic Press, New York. 12
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