"Spirit Triumphant! Flame through the impotence of faltering, fainthearted souls! Burn up selfishness, kindle compassion, so that selflessness, the lifestream of humanity, may flow as the wellspring of spiritual rebirth!" — Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, Whisuntide, May 23, 1923:
My dear Friends, what I should like to bring to you now will have to be said — as has everything that I have had to say recently about Anthroposophy — with a certain undertone called forth by the painful event which befell our work and our Society on last New Year's Eve: the Goetheanum in Dornach, for the time being, is no more; it was consumed by flames in the night before the New Year. And all who witnessed the destruction in this one night of the work of ten long years, accomplished by so many of our friends, and performed by them with complete devotion — all who have loved this Goetheanum very much, just because of this work, and because of what the Goetheanum was to us, will of necessity be weighed down by the thought that we no longer have this particular outer sign of Anthroposophical activity. For, even if some other building for our work shall arise on the same site — which should by all means occur — owing to the trying circumstances of the present time it can, of course, never be the old Goetheanum. Therefore, behind all that I have had to say since those days there actually stands in the background the fearful glow of the flames, which in such a heart-rending way interrupted the development of all our work. Since this outer sign has vanished, we must dedicate ourselves all the more to laying hold of the inner forces and inner realities of the Anthroposophical Movement and of what is connected with it for the entire evolution of humanity. Let me begin then with a sort of consideration of the nature of the human being. I have presented very much of this kind here in your midst, and I should like now to consider again one phase from a certain point of view.
I should like to start with a consideration of the human being entering the world, of the human being who has descended from the pre-earthly existence and is, as it were, taking his first steps here in the life on Earth. We know, of course, that at the time of this entrance into the Earth-life, a condition governs the soul which has a certain similarity to the ever-recurring condition of man's sleep-life. As the ordinary consciousness has no remembrance, upon awaking, of that which the soul-spiritual part of man has experienced between going to sleep and waking up (with the exception of the varicolored multiplicity of dreams, which actually float away, as we know, when we sink into sleep or when we wake, and which for the ordinary consciousness do not result from deep sleep) — as, then, the ordinary consciousness has no remembrance of this condition, so for the entire Earth-life this same consciousness remembers only back to a certain point of time in childhood. With one person this point of time is somewhat earlier, with another later. What occurs in the earthly life prior to this is really as much concealed from the ordinary consciousness as are the events of the sleep state. Of course, it is true that the child is not actually sleeping; it lives in a sort of dreamy, indefinite inner activity; but from the point of view of the whole later life, this condition is at least not very much removed from dream-filled sleep.
There are three activities, however, which set in at this time, three things. which the child is learning. There is what we ordinarily sum up in the expression learning to walk, then what is connected with learning to speak, and what for the child is connected with learning to think. Now, in the expression “learning to walk”, for the sake of our own convenience we actually characterize something which is extraordinarily complex in an exceedingly brief way. We need only to recall how the child is at first utterly unadapted to life, how it gradually gains the ability to accommodate its own position of balance to the space in which it is to move during the entire life. It is not merely “learning to walk” which we observe in the child, but a seeking for the state of equilibrium in the earthly life. Connected with learning to walk is all use of the limbs. And for anyone who is able to observe such a matter in the right way, the most remarkable and most important of life's riddles actually find expression in this activity of learning to walk; a whole universe comes to expression in the manner in which the child progresses from creeping to the upright position, to the placing of the little feet, but also in addition to holding the head upright and to the use of arms and legs. And then anyone who has a more intimate insight into how one child steps more on the heel, and another is more inclined to step on the toes, will perhaps have an inkling of what I shall now have to tell you with regard to the three activities mentioned and their relation to the spiritual world. Only, I should like first to characterize these three activities as to their outer aspects.
On the basis of this effort to attain equilibrium — or, if I may express myself now somewhat more learnedly, perhaps also somewhat more pompously: this search for a dynamic of life — on the basis of this effort, learning to speak is then developed. For, anyone who is able to observe knows quite well that the normal development of the child proceeds in such a way that learning to speak is developed on the basis of learning to walk and to grasp. With regard to learning to talk it will be noticed at the very first how the firm or gentle tread of the child is expressed in the act of talking, in the accenting of the syllables, in the force of the speech. And it will be noticed further how the modulation of the words, how the forming of the words, has a certain parallel with the way the child learns to bend the fingers or to keep them straight, whether it is skillful or unskillful. But anyone who can then observe the entire inner nature of the human organization will be able to know — what even the present-day teaching of evolution concedes — that “right-handed” people not only have the speech-center in the left third convolution of the forehead, in the so-called Broca convolution, which represents in a quite simple physiological way the characteristic relation between speech and the ability to grasp, the entire ability to handle the arm and the hand, if I may make use of the pleonasm; but we know also how closely the movement of the vocal cords, the whole adjustment of the speech organism, takes on exactly the same character which the movements of walking and grasping assume. But in the normal development of the child, speech — which, as you know, is developed in imitation of the environment — cannot develop at all unless the foundation is first laid in the quest of the state of equilibrium in life.
With regard to thinking: Even the more delicate organs of the brain, upon which thinking depends, are developed in turn from the speech organization. No one should suppose that in the normal development of the child thinking could be evolved before speech. Anyone who is able to observe the process will find that with the child speech is not at first an expression of thinking — not at all! It would be ridiculous to believe that. But, with the child, speech is an expression of feeling, of sensation, of the soul-life. Hence you will see that at first it is interjections, everything connected with feelings, which the child expresses by means of speech. And when the child says “Mama” or “Papa”, it expresses feelings toward Mama or Papa, not any sort of concept or thought. Thinking is first developed from speech. It is true that among human beings many a thing is disarranged, so that someone says, “This child learned to speak before it walked.” But that is not the normal development, and in the rearing of a child one should by all means see to it that the normal course of development is actually observed: walking — speaking — thinking.
However, the real character of these activities of the child is truly perceived only when we observe the other side of human life: that is to say, if we observe how in later life these activities are related to each other in sleep; for they arise out of sleep, as I have indicated, or at least out of the dreamlike sleep of the child. But what do these activities signify during the later Earth-life?
In general, it is not possible for the scientific life of the present day to enter into these things. It actually knows only the exterior of the human being; it knows nothing of the inner relationships of the human being with the Cosmic Being, in so far as the Cosmic Being is spiritual. In every realm human civilization, if I may use the expression — or let us say human culture — has been developed to a certain materialism, or naturalism. Do not think that I wish here to upbraid materialism: if materialism had not come into human civilization, human beings would not have become free. Materialism is therefore a necessary epoch in the evolution of humanity. But today we must be very clear as to the way we have to go now — as well as in the future. And we must be clear about this in every realm. In order that what I now have to say may be better illustrated, I should like to make it clear to you by means of an example.
You all know and can learn from my books that Earth humanity, before it passed through those cultural epochs which are only partly similar to the present one — the ancient Indian, the ancient Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, the Greco-Latin, and then our own — passed through the so-called Atlantean catastrophe. And during this Atlantean catastrophe the humanity which is now the European, Asiatic, and American civilized humanity lived chiefly on a continent where there is now sea — namely, the Atlantic Ocean. At that time this area was occupied mostly by land, and for a very long time, humanity had been developing upon this Atlantean continent. You can read in my books and cycles what humanity passed through during those epochs. I will not speak of other human experiences during the ancient Atlantean time, but only of musical experiences.
The entire musical experience of the ancient Atlantean would necessarily appear very curious, even grotesque, to a man of the present time, if he could hear it — which, of course, he cannot do. For what the ancient Atlanteans were in quest of in music was, for example, the chords of the seventh.
These chords of the seventh had the peculiarity of affecting the souls of these ancient people — in whose bodies we were all ensheathed, for in repeated Earth-lives we passed through that time also — in such a way that they were immediately transported out of their bodies when they lived in their music, this music which took into special consideration the chords of the seventh.
They knew no other frame of mind in music than a state of rapture, of enthusiasm, a state in which they were permeated by the God; and, when their extraordinarily simple instruments sounded — instruments intended only for accompaniment to singing — then such an Atlantean immediately felt himself to be actually weaving and living in the outer spiritual world.
Then came the Atlantean catastrophe. Among all post-Atlanteans there was next developed a preference for a sequence of fifths. You probably know that for a long time thereafter fifths played a most comprehensive role in musical development; for example, in ancient Greece, fifths played a quite extensive role. And this preference for a sequence of fifths had the peculiarity of affecting people in such a way that, when they experienced music, they now no longer felt drawn out of their bodies, to be sure, but they felt themselves to be soul and spirit within their bodies. During the musical experience they completely forgot physical experience; they felt that they were inside their skin, so to speak, but their skin was entirely filled with soul and spirit. That was the effect of the music, and very few people will believe that almost up to the tenth and eleventh Christian century the natural music was as I have described it. For not until then did the aptitude for thirds appear, the aptitude for the major and the minor third, and everything of the nature of major and minor. That came relatively late. But with this late development there was evolved at the same time the inner experience of music. Man now remained within himself in musical experience. Just as the rest of the culture at this time tended downward from the spiritual to the material, so in the musical sphere the tendency was downward, from the experience of the spiritual into which he passed in ancient times when he experienced music at all, to the experience of music within himself — no longer as far outward as to the skin, but entirely within himself. In this way there first appeared also at that time the major and minor moods, which are actually possible only when music is inwardly experienced.
Thus, it can be seen how in every domain man has descended from the spiritual into the material, but also into himself. Therefore, we should not always merely say, in a narrow-minded fashion, that the material is something of minor value, and we must escape from it. The human being would not have become truly human at all if he had not descended and laid hold upon the material life. Precisely because he apprehended the spiritual in the material did the human being become a self-conscious, independent Ego-Being. And today, with the help of Anthroposophical spiritual science, we must again find the way back into the spiritual world — in all realms we must find the way. This is the reason it is so painful that the artistic endeavor made by means of the Goetheanum at Dornach has been obliterated, as is now the case. The way into the spiritual world must be sought in every realm.
Let us next consider one activity which the child learns — namely, speech — with regard to the entire evolution of the human being. It must really be said that what the child learns there is something magnificent. Jean Paul, the German poet, has said that in the first three years of life — that is, the years in which the essential things we learn are to walk, to speak, and to think — the human being learns much more than in the three academic years. Meanwhile the “three” academic years have become many, but a man still learns no more in those three years than he learns as a child in the first three years of life. — Let us now consider speech. In speaking there is first the outer physical-physiological factor: that is, the larynx and the rest of our speech organs are set in motion. They move the air, which becomes the medium of tone. Here we have, in a way, the physical-physiological part. But in what we say there is soul also. And the soul permeates and gleams through all that we utter in the sounds. In so far as speech is something physical, man's physical body and his etheric body have a share in it. As a matter of course, these are silent from the time of going to sleep until the time of wakening. That is, the normal human being does not speak between going to sleep and waking; but in as much as the soul and the ego have a share in speech, they — the astral body and ego — take with them the soul power of speech, when they pass out of the physical and etheric bodies at the time of going to sleep — and they actually take with them everything of a soul nature which the person has put into his speech during the whole day. We are really different beings each evening, for we have been busy talking all day long — one more, another less, many all too much, many also too little — but, no matter, we have been occupied with talking throughout the day, and we have put our souls into what we have said. And what we have put into our speech, that we take with us into sleep, and it remains our being between sleeping and waking.
Now, it may be that in our present materialistic age the human being no longer has any notion that idealism or spirituality may be expressed in the speech. People today usually have the idea that speech is intended to express only the external, the tangibly-objective. The feeling that ideals may be expressed in the speech has almost entirely disappeared. For this reason it is also true that people today generally find so “unintelligible” what is said to them about “spirit.” For what do people say to themselves when spirit is mentioned? They admit that words are being used, but of these words people know only that they indicate what can be grasped or seen. The idea that words may also signify something else, something supersensible, invisible, people no longer like at all. That may be one way in which people regard speech; but the other may, of course, be that people shall find the way again to idealism even in words, even in language, knowing that a soul-spiritual experience may sound through each word, as it were.
What a person who lives entirely in the materialism of the language, so to speak, carries over in sleep into the spiritual world brings him, strangely enough, into a difficult relation with the world of the Archangels, the Archangeloi, into which he should enter each night between going to sleep and waking; while the one who preserves for himself the idealism of speech, and who knows how the genius of the language lives in it, comes into the necessary relation to the hierarchy of the Archangeloi, especially to that Archangel to whom he himself belongs in the world between sleeping and waking. Indeed, this is expressed even in outer world phenomena. Why do people today seek so frantically for an outer relation to the national languages? Why did this frightful misfortune come upon Europe, which Woodrow Wilson has considered good fortune? — but he was a curious illusionist. — Why then did this great misfortune come upon Europe, that freedom is bound up with the convulsive desire to make use of the national languages, even of the smallest nations? Because in reality the people are frantically seeking externally a relationship which they no longer have in spirit: for in going to sleep they no longer have the natural relation to the language — and also, therefore, not to the hierarchy of the Archangeloi! And humanity will have to find the way back again to the permeation of all that pertains to language with idealism if they do not wish to lose the way into the spiritual world.
How does humanity today regard what takes place for the individual human being between going to sleep and waking? People do not take account of this sleep condition at all. If we recollect our past life, we seem to have before us a complete life picture. That is not the case; the time spent in sleep has regularly dropped out; the whole picture is continuously interrupted. We always connect the morning with the previous evening, but between them is the night. And what has occurred during sleep in the night constitutes outwardly, in the first place, at least a third of the human life (at all events, among “respectable” people it is so); and, secondly, it is much more important for the inner man than the outer activity during the whole day. To be sure, the outer activity is more important for external civilization; but our inner development during life is brought about by our coming into relation with the spiritual world in the right way while we sleep during the night.
And the same is true regarding what forms the basis of the other activities; that is to say, if the human being in his actions — that is, what he does throughout the entire realm of the movements which he first learns upon entrance into the Earth-life — if he puts idealism into the whole realm of his actions, that is, if his life contains idealism in its realization, then the human being finds again the right relation with the hierarchy of the Archai. And if the thoughts contain idealism, if they are not materialistic, the human being finds during sleep the relation with the hierarchy of the Angels. This is what we discover if, with the help of anthroposophical spiritual science, we inquire into the relation to the sleep state of these three activities acquired during childhood.
But this relation may be revealed in a much more comprehensive degree if we observe the entire life of the human being in the cosmos. You are acquainted with the description in my book Theosophy. When the human being passes through the gate of death, he first experiences for some days the condition which consists in the dissipation of thoughts, of concepts. We may express it by saying that the etheric body expands into the distances of the cosmos; the human being “loses” his etheric body. But that is the same as if I say that man's concepts and thoughts are dissipated. But what does that actually mean: that the concepts and thoughts are dissipated? It really means very much. It means, namely, that our entire waking life departs from us. Our entire waking life departs from us in the course of two or three days, and nothing at all would be left of our life if we did not then live through that of which we remain unconscious during the Earth-life; that is, if we did not then begin to live through in full consciousness what we have experienced during our sleep-life. This sleep-life is spiritually infinitely richer, more intense, than the waking life. Whether the sleep be short or long, the sleep-life is each time a reversed repetition of the day-life, but with a spiritual impulse: What you have accomplished as actions during the day brings you at night into a relation to the Archai, to the Primal Powers; what you have said in the daytime brings you at night into a relation to the Archangeloi, the Archangels; and your thinking brings you in the same way into a relation to your Angel-being, to the Angeloi.
And what man experiences during sleep is independent of time. It is unnecessary to say: “Very well, but the following is possible: At night I go to sleep; something makes a noise; something awakens me; in this case I certainly cannot complete my going back over the day in retrospect.” Even so it is completed, because the time relations are entirely different; that can be experienced in a moment which otherwise might continue for hours if the sleep were undisturbed. During sleep the time relations are quite different from those of the day. Therefore, it can be stated positively, and must so be stated, that each time a person sleeps he once again experiences in retrospect what he has lived through here in the physical world since the last waking, but this time in spiritual manner and substance. And after the waking life of concepts is dissipated into the cosmos, a few days after death, then the human being lives through the very experiences which he had during the third of life spent in sleep. I have, therefore, always had to describe how man requires a third of his Earth-life in order then to live through what he has experienced during the nights of his life. Naturally, it is essentially like the day-life, but it is experienced in a different way. And at that time, as the second condition after death, he lives through this retrogression, when he actually experiences once again, in a third of the time, the entire life back to birth. Then when he has again arrived at his birth, he enters into that condition which I have already described to you here in another connection; that is, he enters into that condition in which every conception of the world is essentially altered for him.
You see, here on Earth we are in a definite place; the world is around us. We know ourselves very little, indeed, with the ordinary consciousness. The world we observe with the outer senses; that we know. Perhaps you will say that the anatomists know the inner part of the human being very well. Not at all; they know only the outer aspect of the inner being. The real inner part is something entirely different. — If you call to mind today something which you experienced ten years ago, then you have in the memory something which is in your soul, do you not? It is condensed, a brief remembrance of, perhaps, a very, very extended experience. But it is merely a soul picture of something which you have passed through in the Earth-life. But now enter into yourself — not now into your memories, but into your physical organism, that is, the apparently physical organism — and observe the wonderful construction of your brain, of your lungs, and so forth. Within you there, rolled up as it were, are — not the experiences of this Earth-life, but rolled together there is the whole cosmos, the entire universe. Man is really a small universe, a microcosmos. In his organs the whole universe is rolled together. But the human being does not know this with the ordinary consciousness. When he is on Earth, he has the memory of his experiences. He does not know that he himself in his physical nature is, as it were, the embodied memory of the whole cosmos. — When, therefore, the backward journey through the life, which I have just indicated, has been completed, then, between death and a new birth, we enter into a cosmic life, where we are not, as now, surrounded by the world with its mountains, clouds, stars, seas, and so on, but where our environment consists of the riddles of the inner human being, where everything concerning the mysteries of the inner human being of which we are deprived in the Earth-life, now constitutes our environment. Here on the Earth, as you know, we live within our skin, and we know about the stars, clouds, mountains, rocks, animals, and plants. Between death and a new birth we know about the human being. All the mysteries of the human being are our environment. And do not suppose that it is a less interesting environment than that of the Earth! To be sure, the starry heavens are magnificent, the mountains and the seas are grand; but what the inner being of man contains in a single small vessel is grander and mightier than our Earth environment, when between death and a new birth we are surrounded by it in its majestic greatness. The human being is the world between death and a new birth, and he must be the world, because we are preparing the next Earth-life. Together with the beings of the higher hierarchies, we must help to prepare the future Earth-man. As we here are occupied with our outer culture and civilization, as here on Earth we make boots or coats, use the telephone, do people's hair, give lectures, do something artistic, or whatever belongs to our present civilization, so, between death and a new birth, together with the beings of the higher hierarchies, we prepare what the human being is, and what we ourselves shall again be in the physical body in the next Earth-life.
That is the goal of spiritual culture, and it is grander, infinitely grander and more magnificent, than the goal of earthly civilization. Not without reason have the ancients called the physical human body a “Temple of the Gods”, because together with the Gods, with the beings of the higher hierarchies, this human physical body is formed between death and a new birth. That is what we do, that is where we are with our ego — among the beings of the higher hierarchies, working on humanity together with the beings of the higher hierarchies. We move about, as it were, among the beings of the higher hierarchies; we are spirits among spirits.
What we do there we can, of course, do only according to what we have accomplished here in Earth-life; and that also is revealed to us in a certain sense in the relation of sleep to waking. Just think how chaotic the dream is! I do not undervalue the wonderfully varied multiplicity and the grandeur of the dream; but we must nevertheless recognize that the dream, compared with the Earth-life, in whose images it is clothed, is chaotic. You need only to recall that dream which I have mentioned before as an illustration (Volkelt told this dream, according to a report from Württemberg, but we know of such, do we not?). A city lady visited her sister, who was the wife of a country parson, and she dreamed that she went with her sister to church to hear a sermon; but everything was quite peculiar; for, after the Gospel was read and the pastor went up to the pulpit, he did not begin to preach, but instead of raising his arms, he lifted wings, and finally began to crow like a cock! Or recall another dream in which a lady said she had just dreamed of considering what good thing she should cook for her husband, and nothing at all occurred to her until finally the thought came to her that she still had an old pickled grandmother upstairs in the attic, but she would be very tough yet. — You see a dream can be as chaotic as that — strangely chaotic. But just what does it mean that the dream acts so chaotically? What does it really mean?
While we sleep we are, with our ego and astral body, outside of our physical and etheric bodies. And during that time we experience again in reverse order — especially with regard to the moral significance — all that we have done, have said, and have thought during the day. We live through that in reverse order. We are preparing for ourselves our karma for the next Earth-life, and this appears in pictures already in the time between going to sleep and waking. But these pictures are still very bungling; for when, upon waking, we are again about to enter into the physical body, the picture does not yet fit in properly: that is, we are not able to conceive things in conformity with the macrocosm; instead we conceive something entirely different, perhaps a “pickled grandmother.” That is because, with regard to what we have already formed in our sleep, we do not understand the adaptation to the human physical body. This adaptation to the human physical body is exceedingly difficult; and we acquire it in that working together, which I have described, with the beings of the higher hierarchies between death and a new birth. There the soul-spiritual self must first readjust what otherwise in the dream so often enters so awkwardly, when the sleep consciousness is again fully overcome, and the person without his own cooperation has plunged again into his old physical body. This soul-spiritual self, between death and a new birth, must penetrate all the mysteries of the physical body, in order that the body may be built up in the right way. For the body is really not formed by the parents and grandparents alone. To believe that is one of the perfect follies of science. (We are justified in making such a statement!) For how does science approximately set forth this human development? Well, it says that as the basis of material substance we have molecules, which are built up in a complicated way from atoms. The albumen molecule, which is contained in the embryo-cell, is the most complicated of all, and because it is so complicated (naturally no scientist can describe it, but he points to its exceeding complexity) because it is so complicated, a human being can originate from it. That is the simplest sort of explanation of the human being! It is simply asserted that the entire human being is already contained in the molecule; it is merely a very complicated molecule. — The truth is, however, that the albumen molecule must completely revert to chaos, must become dust of disorganized matter, if a human being is to originate from it. We have in the outer world organized matter in crystals, in plants, and so on: if anything is to originate, even a plant, or an animal, then the matter must first completely return to dust. And only when it no longer has a definite form does the entire cosmos work upon the tiny bit of stuff, making in it an image of itself. How is it, then, with the human being? Between death and a new birth we form this human image, with all its mysteries, into which we weave our karma, and we send this image down before us into the body of the mother. So we have first formed the spirit germ — only, this is very large in comparison with the physical germ — and this descends into the matter which has become chaotic. That is the truth — not what the present-day physiology dreams.
In this time of which I have been speaking, the ego lives as a soul-spiritual being among soul-spiritual divine beings, actively occupied with learning to know completely the inner human being as such for the next Earth-life. Of that which is then spiritually experienced in tremendous majesty and grandeur, an image marvelously appears in the child in the individual actions in attaining equilibrium. It is very interesting to see how the Primal Powers, or Archai, work over from the life between death and a new birth into the whole effort of the child to attain balance or, as we trivially say, to learn to walk. Anyone who can see in everything earthly an image of the spiritual can see in all the practice in walking, in the use of the hands, and so on, an image of those soul-spiritual deeds which we performed between death and a new birth in seeking spiritual equilibrium as an ego among higher egos.
And when we have completed those conditions in which we are a spirit among spirits, in which we prepare what is to be manifested in our Earth-life in the body, in the members, through which we again become a human being of such and such a nature, and experience our karma — when we have passed through these conditions yonder in the world between death and a new birth, then a condition appears in the pre-earthly life in which we can no longer distinguish the individual spiritual beings with whom we have worked for so long, but in which there is only a general perception of the spirit. We know then, to be sure, that we live in a spiritual world; but, because we are now already approaching the Earth-life, the impression which the spiritual world makes upon us becomes one of greater uniformity, and is no longer a perception of the particular, individual spiritual beings.
I can express myself by means of a trivial comparison in order that we may be able to understand one another, but please be very clear about this, namely, that in doing so I refer, nevertheless, to something very exalted. If a little cloud appears somewhere in the distance, you say that it is a little cloud; but when you approach it, you become aware that it is a swarm of gnats. Then you are distinguishing the separate individuals. Well, in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, it is reversed: there you distinguish at first the single individualities of the spiritual beings; then the impression becomes a general one. What I mean is that the manifestation of the spiritual replaces experience of the spiritual.
Indeed, this condition, which separates us, as it were, from the spiritual world, because we are already seeking the way down to Earth again — this condition is reflected now in the inner something within us which forms the basis of human speech. Suppose we speak. It begins with the larynx (that is not exact, but approximate), and the other organs of speech are set in motion. But behind this there lies that which is essential. What is essential lies in the heart, behind the larynx; it lies in the breathing process and everything connected with it. Just as learning to walk, seeking equilibrium, is an earthly image of our movements in the spiritual world, so that which underlies speech is likewise an earthly image of the condition of manifestation in which we perceive the divine-spiritual beings only as a blurred mass. So the child experiences again when it learns to talk a condition which it has gone through between death and a new birth.
And when we have sent down the spiritual germ of our physical body, when through conception it has gradually become united with the body of the mother, then we are still above. At the end of the time before earthly embodiment we draw together our etheric body out of all the regions of the universe. And that action, which takes place in the supersensible world in attracting the etheric body, finds expression in the child's learning to think.
Now you have the three successive conditions: experience in the spiritual world in learning to walk; manifestation of the spiritual world in learning to speak. (For this reason, that which as Cosmic Word underlies speech we call the Cosmic Logos, the inner Word. It is the manifestation of the universal Logos, in which the spiritual expresses itself, as do the gnats in the swarm of gnats; it underlies speech.) And then what we do in the forming of our etheric body, which actually thinks in us — we think the whole night through, only we are not present with our ego and astral body — that is the last part which we gather together for ourselves before we descend to Earth, and that activity is what extends over into the thinking. Thus, in learning to walk, to speak, and to think, the baby organizes into the physical body what it brings down from pre-earthly existence.
This is what leads to real spiritual knowledge and also at the same time to the artistic and the religious comprehension of the world; namely, that we are able to relate each single occurrence in the physical sense-existence to the spiritual world. Those people who would always like to speak of the divine-spiritual only “in general” I have often likened to a man who should go out into a meadow, and to whom should be pointed out daisies, dandelions, wild chicory, whereupon he would say: “All that does not interest me; they are all just flowers!” That is easy, to say they are all just flowers. But something in the flower-being is differentiated there. And so it is also in the spiritual world. Naturally it is easy to say that something spiritual underlies everything of a sense-physical nature. But the point is that we should know more and more what spiritual something lies at the foundation of the various sense-physical phenomena; for only in this way can we from the spirit actually lay hold again upon the sense-physical course of life.
By means of this principle, for example, our Waldorf School pedagogy becomes a unique pedagogy, which actually considers the human being. This will appear even more clearly when once this pedagogy shall be developed for the child's first years. As there it would be adapted to learning to walk, to speak, and to think, and the further evolution of these faculties, so we now naturally adapt the method to the years following the sixth and seventh in such a way that we consider questions such as these: What embodies itself in the child at this moment? What comes to expression in the child's life, with each week, with each month, of that which existed before birth? Thus the pedagogy is really developed from the spirit.
That is one of the impulses of which we must rediscover many, if humanity does not wish to remain in the downward course, but intends to begin to ascend. We must find the way again into the spiritual world; but we shall be able to do this only when we learn quite consciously to find ways and means to act and to speak from the spirit.
In the time immediately following the Atlantean catastrophe, human beings lived from the spirit — that is, each individual — because each could be told, on the basis of the point of time at which he was born, what his karma was. At that time astrology did not signify that dilettantism which it often represents today, but it signified livingly experiencing the deeds of the stars with them. And as a result of this living experience it was revealed from the Mystery Temple to each individual human being how he had to live. Astrology had a vital significance for the individual human experience. Then came the time, about the 6th, 5th, and 4th pre-Christian centuries, in which people no longer experienced the mysteries of the starry heavens, but in which they experienced the course of the year. What do I mean by it when I say that human beings experienced the “course of the year”? It means that they knew from direct perception that the Earth is not the coarse clod which present-day geology contemplates. Upon such an Earth as geology represents, plants could never grow, to say nothing of the appearance of animals and human beings. There could be none of these, because the Earth of the geologists is a rock; and something will grow directly on a rock only if the entire cosmos works upon it, only if it is united with the whole universe. What man must learn again today was known even in ancient times, namely, that the Earth is an organism and has a soul.
It is true that this Earth-soul also has its special destiny. Suppose it is winter here with us, Christmas time, the time of the winter solstice — that is the time when the Earth-soul is fully united with the Earth. For when the cover of snow is over the Earth, when, as it were, a mantle of cold surrounds the Earth, then the Earth-soul is united with the Earth, rests within it. It is also true then that the Earth-soul, resting within the Earth, sustains the life of a multitude of elemental spirits. When today a naturalistic view believes that the seeds which I plant in the Earth in the autumn merely lie there until the following spring: that is not true; the seeds must be protected throughout the winter by the elemental spirits of the Earth. This is all connected with the fact that during the wintertime the Earth-soul is united with the Earth-body.
Now let us take the opposite season, that is, midsummer, St. John's season. Exactly as the human being inhales the air and exhales it, so that at one time it is within him and at another time outside of him, so the Earth breathes in her soul — that is during the winter; and at the height of summer, St. John's season, the Earth-soul is entirely breathed out, sent out into the far reaches of the cosmos. At that time the Earth-body is, as it were, “empty” of the Earth-soul: the Earth in her soul lives with the events of the cosmos, the course of the stars, and so on. Therefore in ancient times there were the winter Mysteries, in which man experienced the union of the Earth-soul with the Earth-body; and then there were the summer Mysteries, in which man was able to perceive the mysteries of the universe, from the experience which the Earth-soul shared with the stars, for it was granted to the human souls of initiates to follow the Earth-soul out into the cosmic spaces.
That people had a consciousness of these things you can learn even from the fragments of ancient tradition which are still extant. — It is now a long while ago, but I often sat — right here in Berlin — with an astronomer, who was very famous here, and who started a fearful agitation about the Easter Festival, saying that it was very disturbing when the Easter Festival, let us say for example, did not fall each year at least on the first Sunday in April, and it was awful that it should be on the first Sunday after the spring full moon. Naturally it helped not at all to give reasons against his argument, for the fact which lay at the root of the matter was the fear that a dreadful confusion was caused in the debit and credit columns of the ledger, if Easter falls at a different time each year! This movement had already assumed rather large dimensions. (I once mentioned the fact here that on the first page of the ledger there usually stand the words “With God”, but generally what is in these books is not exactly “with God”.) In those times when the Easter Festival was established according to the course of stars — when the first Sunday after the spring full moon was dedicated to the sun — in those times a consciousness still existed that in the winter season the Earth-soul is in the Earth-body; that at St. John's season the Earth-soul is wholly outside in cosmic spaces, and in the spring it is on the way to cosmic spaces. Therefore, the spring festival, the Easter Festival, cannot be established only with reference to the Earth, on a definite day, but must be regulated according to the constellations of the stars. There is a deep wisdom in this, which comes from the times when, as a result of the ancient instinctive clairvoyance, human beings were still able to perceive the spiritual reality in the course of the year. We must attain to this again, and we can attain to it again in a certain sense if we lay hold upon the tasks of the present in connection with just such explanations as we have carried on together here.
I have often said here that, of the spiritual beings with whom man is united each night, in the way I have told you — for instance, through speech with the Archangels — certain beings are the ruling spiritual powers throughout a certain period of time. In the last third of the 19th century the Michael-time began, that time in which the Spirit who in the records is usually designated Michael became the determinative Spirit in the affairs of human civilization. These things are repeated in cycles. In ancient times men knew something of all these spiritual processes. The ancient Hebrew age spoke of Jahve, but it spoke always of the “countenance of Jahve”, and by the countenance was meant the Archangels who actually mediated between Jahve and the Earth. And when the Jews expected the Messiah on Earth, they knew that it was the time of Michael; that Michael was the agent of Christ's activity on Earth. They misunderstood, however, the deeper significance of that fact. Now, since the 70's of the 19th century, the time has come again for the Earth when the Michael Power is the ruling spiritual power in the world, and the time has come when we must understand how to bring spirituality into our actions, to arrange our life from the spirit. That means to “serve Michael” — not to order our life merely from the material point of view, but to be conscious that he who has the overcoming of the low Ahrimanic Powers as his mission — that is, Michael — must become our Genius, so to speak, for the evolution of civilization. How can he become that?
Well, he can become our guiding spirit if we call to mind how we can again make connections with the course of the year in the spiritual sense. There is actually great wisdom in the entire cosmic course in the fact that we may unite with the spring festival the festival of the resurrection of Christ Jesus. The historical connection — I have often explained it — is a completely right one: The only possibility is for the spring festival — that is, the Easter Festival — to occur on a different day each year, precisely because it is viewed from the other world. Only we upon the Earth have the narrow-minded conception that “time” runs along evenly, that one hour is always as long as another. We determine time by means of our earthly expedient, mathematics; whereas, for the actual spiritual world, the cosmic hour is something living. There one cosmic hour is not equal to another, but is longer or shorter. Therefore it is always possible to err if we establish from the earthly point of view something which should be fixed according to the heavens. The Easter Festival has been established rightly in accordance with the heavens.
What kind of a festival is it? It is that festival which is intended to remind us, and which once reminded humanity with the greatest vividness, that a God descended to Earth, took up his abode in the man Jesus of Nazareth in order that, at the time when human beings were approaching the development of the ego, they would be able in a suitable manner to find the way back through death into the spiritual life. I have often explained this here. The Easter Festival is, therefore, that festival in which man sees in the Mystery of Golgotha death, and immortality following it. We look upon this spring festival in the right sense when we say to ourselves: Christ has affirmed the immortality of man in that He Himself has conquered death; but we human beings only rightly understand the immortality of Christ Jesus if we appropriate this understanding during the Earth-life; that is, if in our souls we vitalize our relation to the Mystery of Golgotha, and if we are able to free ourselves from that materialistic concept which would dissociate from the Mystery of Golgotha all spiritual significance. Today people no longer wish to acknowledge “Christ” at all, but merely “the humble man of Nazareth, Jesus.” A man would feel embarrassed, as it were, in the presence of his own scientific instincts if he were to grant that the Mystery of Golgotha involves a spiritual Mystery in the middle of Earth existence — namely, the death and resurrection of the God.
When we experience that fact spiritually, we prepare ourselves to have spiritual experience of other things also. This is the reason it is so important for the human being of the present time to attain the possibility of experiencing, at the outset, the Mystery of Golgotha as something purely spiritual. Then he will experience other spiritual facts, and he will find the approach, the way, to the spiritual worlds through the Mystery of Golgotha. But then, beginning with the Mystery of Golgotha, the human being must understand the Resurrection while he still lives; and, if he feelingly understands the Resurrection while he lives, he will thereby be enabled to pass through death in the right way. In other words, Death and Resurrection in the Mystery of Golgotha should teach the human being to reverse the condition; that is, during life to experience Resurrection within the soul, in order that, after this inner soul resurrection, he may pass through death in the right way. That experience is the opposite of the Easter experience. At the Easter season we should be able to immerse ourselves in the Death and Resurrection of the Christ. As human beings, however, we need also to be able to immerse ourselves in what is for us resurrection of the soul, in order that the resurrected soul of man may pass rightly through death. As we in the spring acquire the true Easter mood when we see how the plants then germinate and sprout, how nature is resurrected, how nature overcomes the death of winter, so we shall be able, when we have experienced summer in the right way, to acquire a feeling of certainty that the soul has then ascended into cosmic spaces. We are then approaching the autumn, September is coming, the autumnal equinox; the leaves which in the spring became budding and green, now become brownish, yellowish, and drop off; the trees stand there already partly denuded; nature is dying. But we understand this slowly dying nature if we look deeply into the process of decay, into the approach of the snowy covering of the Earth, and say to ourselves: There the Earth-soul is returning again to the Earth, and it will be entirely within the Earth when the winter solstice shall have come.
It is possible to feel this autumn-time with the same intensity as the spring-time. And if we feel in spring, at Easter-time, the Death and Resurrection of the God, then we shall be able to feel in the autumn the resurrection and death of the human soul; that is, the experience of resurrection during the Earth-life in order to pass through death in the right way. Then, however, we must understand also what it signifies for us, for our present time, that the Earth-soul is breathed out into the cosmic spaces during St. John's season, in the summer, is there united with the stars, and comes back again. He who has insight into the mystery of this succession of the seasons in the course of the year knows that the Michael-force, which in former centuries did not come down to Earth, now comes down through the nature forces! So that we are able to meet the autumn with its falling leaves when we perceive the Michael-force coming down from the clouds to the Earth. Indeed, the name “Michael” is to be found in the calendars on this date, and Michaelmas is a festival day among the peasants; but we shall feel the present time spiritually, in such a way that earthly human events are for us closely connected with the events of nature, only when we again become capable of understanding the year's progression to such an extent that we shall be able to establish in the course of the year the annual festivals, as people of old established them from their ancient dream-like clairvoyance. The ancients understood the year, and on the basis of the Mysteries which I have been able only to indicate today, they established Christmas, Easter, and the St. John's Festival. At Christmas people give one another gifts, and do some other things also; but I have often explained, when I have given Christmas and Easter lectures here, how little remains with humanity today of these ancient institutions, how everything has become traditional and external. If we shall come to understand again the festivals, which today we merely celebrate but do not understand, then, from the spiritual knowledge of the course of the year, we shall also have the power to establish a festival which will have true significance for the humanity of the present time: that will be the Michael Festival at the end of September, when autumn approaches, the leaves become withered, the trees become bare, nature moves toward decay — just as it moves toward the sprouting of the Easter season. We shall have the power to establish such a festival if in decaying nature we perceive how then the Earth-soul unites itself with the Earth, and how the Earth-soul brings Michael with it from the clouds! If we have the force to create from the spirit such a festival as shall again bring into our social life a community of interest, then we shall have done it from the spirit; for then we shall have originated something among us of which the spirit is the source. It would be more important than all the rest of social reflection and the like — which, in the present confused conditions, can only lead to something if the spirit is in them — if, to begin with, a number of intelligent persons were to unite in order to establish again upon Earth something from the cosmos: that is, to originate something like a Festival of Michael, which would be worthy of the Easter Festival, but as an autumn festival would be the counterpart of the Easter Festival! If people were able to decide upon something the motive for which lies only in the spiritual world, but which in such a festival would again bring among men a feeling of common interest, something which would be created in the immediate present, out of the full, joyous human heart, that would result in something which would socially unite people again.
For in ancient times the festivals made strong bonds between human beings. Just consider what has been done, and what has been said, and thought, on behalf of the festivals and at the festivals for the whole civilization!
That is what has been gradually interwoven into the physical world through the fixing of festivals directly out of the spirit. If people of today could decide in a worthy manner to establish a Michael Festival at the end of September, it would be a deed of the greatest significance. For this purpose, people would have to have courage, not merely to dispute about outer social organizations and the like, but to do something which will unite the Earth with the heavens, which will again connect physical conditions with spiritual conditions. Then, because by this means the spirit would again be brought into earthly affairs, something would actually happen among men which would be a mighty impulse for the extension of our civilization and of our whole life. There is naturally no time to set forth in detail all that this would mean for scientific, religious, and artistic experience, but such a new festival, created from the spirit, in grand style, would affect these realms just as did the ancient festivals. And how much more important would be such a creation from the spiritual world than all that is developed today in social tirades. For what would be the significance of such a creation? Oh, it signifies much for the deep observation of the human soul, if I see what a man intends, or if I understand his words rightly. If we today are able to learn from observation how the whole cosmic course operates when autumn approaches, if we can unriddle, can decipher, the entire physiognomy of the universe, and out of our knowledge can act creatively, then we shall disclose not only the willing of human beings in the creation of such a festival, but we shall disclose the willing of Spiritual Beings, of Gods!
Then the Spirit will again be among men!
Source: May 23, 1923. GA 224
Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity
You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity