Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Regarding the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones

September 21, 1924 blackboard drawing

Rudolf Steiner, January 4, 1924:  

When I wrote my Outline of Occult Science I was obliged to make the account of the evolution of the Earth accord at any rate a little with the prevailing ideas of the present day. In the thirteenth and twelfth centuries one would have been able to give the account quite differently. The following might then have been found in a certain chapter, e.g., of Outline of Occult Science. An idea would have been called up, to begin with, of the beings who may be designated as the beings of the First Hierarchy: SeraphimCherubimThrones. The Seraphim would have been characterized as beings with whom there is no subject and object, with whom subject and object are one and the same, beings who would not say: "Outside me are things" — but: "The world is, and I am the world, and the world is I." Such beings know only of themselves, and this knowledge of themselves is for them an inner experience of which man has a weak reflection when he has the experience of being filled, shall we say, with a burning enthusiasm. It is, you know, quite difficult to make the man of today understand what is meant by “burning enthusiasm.” Even in the beginning of the nineteenth century men knew better what it is than they do today. In those days it could still happen that some poem or other was being read aloud and the people were so filled with enthusiasm — forgive me, but it really was so — that present-day man would say they had all gone out of their minds. They were so moved, so warmed! Today people freeze up just when you expect them to be enthused. Now, it was lifting this element of enthusiasm, this rapture of the soul that came naturally especially to the men of Middle and Eastern Europe — it was by lifting it into consciousness, by making it alone the complete content of consciousness, that men came to form an idea of the inner life of the Seraphim. 
Again, as a bright, clear element in consciousness, full of light, so that thought turns directly into light, illuminating everything — such an idea did men form of the element of consciousness of the Cherubim. 
And the element of consciousness of the Thrones was conceived as sustaining, bearing, the worlds in Grace.
There you have one such sketch. I could go on speaking of it for a long time. For the moment I only wanted to show you that in those days one would have tried to describe the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones in the true qualities of their being.
And then one would have gone on to say: the Choir of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones works together in such wise that the Thrones found and establish a kernel; the Cherubim let their own light-filled being stream forth from this center or kernel; and the Seraphim enwrap the whole in a mantle of warmth and enthusiasm that rays far out into cosmic space. [Footnote: Drawings were made on the blackboard, with colored chalks.]
All the drawing I have made is beings: in the midst the Thrones; in the circumference around them the Cherubim; and, outermost of all, the Seraphim. All is essential being, beings who move and weave into one another, do, think, will, feel in one another. All is of the very essence of being. And now, if a being having the right sensitiveness were to take its path through the space where the Thrones have in this manner established a kernel and center, where the Cherubim have made a kind of circling around it, and the Seraphim have, as it were, enclosed the whole — if a being with the required sensitiveness were to come into this realm of the activity of the First Hierarchy, it would feel warmth in varying differentiations — here greater warmth, there less; but it would all be an experience of soul, and yet at the same time physical experience in the senses; that is to say, when the being felt itself warm in soul, the feeling would be actually the feeling you have when you are in a well-warmed room.
Such a united building-up by beings of the First Hierarchy did verily once take place in the Universe; it formed what we call the Saturn existence. The warmth is merely the expression of the fact that the beings are there. The warmth is nothing more than the expression of the fact that the beings are there.

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