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The Influences of Lucifer & Ahriman, GA# 191

Rudolf Steiner
Five Lectures given in Bern and Dornach 1919

Published by Anthroposophic Press in 1993

A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©1998

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In Christian theology the forces of Christ are set against the forces of the devil who represents in one figure all that is evil, and one is exhorted to abjure all that is of the devil. This might lead one to wonder, "How is the knowledge of good and evil bad? Isn't that what the devil in the Garden of Eden wanted to share with Adam and Eve?"

Steiner divides the devil into two beings, Lucifer and Ahriman, and shows us how neither is bad per se, each provides gifts to human beings that further our evolution, and that it is us who must learn to balance these gifts in our individual lives. His recommendation for a solution to the problem of the devil is to transcend the tendency towards either Luciferic frenzy or Ahrimanic tedium by creating a spirit-filled synthesis of the two in our lives from now on.

Luciferic Traits, Attributes

Ahrimanic Traits, Attributes

frenzy, hyperactivity

tedium, boredom

unification, generalization

diversity, particularization

one language

many languages

gnosis, speaking and thinking

statistics, proof, literal Gospel reading



fantasy, illusion, superstition

concrete sensory-based, materialism

spirit-permeated cosmology

mathematical astronomy

eating & drinking w/o spirituality

un-read knowledge stored in libraries

unified vision [United Nations]

individual vision [Chauvinism]

flexibility, airy

solidification, granite-like

the high flight of Icarus

the humility of Francis Bacon

pagan wisdom

technological advances

Steiner says that Lucifer incarnated in a human body during the third millennium before Christ, and that Ahriman will likewise incarnate in the third millennium after Christ, the one we are currently entering. How can we be prepared for the coming of Ahriman? We must balance both the attributes of Ahriman and the attributes of Lucifer with Christ as our guide and companion. In Steiner's words:

[page 18] But woe betide if this Copernicanism is not confronted by the knowledge that the cosmos is permeated by soul and spirit. It is this knowledge that Ahriman wants to withhold. He would like to keep people so obtuse that they can grasp only the mathematical aspect of astronomy.

One of the wonderful aspects of Steiner is that he sees the value of both a spirit-filled cosmology and an abstract mathematical astronomy, thus modeling for us readers how to maintain the balance between the Luciferic and Ahrimanic tendencies in our lives. The superb congruency of Steiner's process (what he does) and content (what he says) characterizes all great teachers. Steiner never tells us to follow his instructions to the letter, instead he models for us the behaviors that will bring us the desired balance in our lives if we were to exhibit those behaviors.

In light of the imminent incarnation of Ahriman, Steiner offers caveats and suggestions on how to avoid "strengthening Ahriman's impulse."

[page 21] I shall merely put before you the deeper fact, namely that no true understanding of Christ can be reached by the simple, easy going perusal of the Gospels beloved by most religious denominations and sects today.

[page 22] The point to remember is, however, that the people who do most to prepare for the incarnation of Ahriman are those who constantly preach, "All that is required is to read the Gospels word-for-word -no more than that!"

In other words, Steiner is saying that the fundamentalists are fundamentally wrong. In their zeal to follow Martin Luther's dictum, to read the bible, they have gone to such an extreme that they are preparing a fertile seed bed for Ahriman, up until now.

[page 52] You see, a barrier which prevents the single Gospels from unduly circumscribing the human mind has been erected through the fact that the event of Golgotha is described in the Gospels from four seemingly contradictory sides. Only a little reflection will show that this is a protection from too literal a conception.

[page 52] In the absolute sense, nothing is good in itself, but is always good or bad according to the use to which it is put.

And the scientists, with their penchant for studying only the external sensory world by means of statistics and abstract principles, are also fundamentally wrong. They will never reach "the innermost being of things" unless they change their approach and include that most delicate of instruments, the human being, in their panoply of measuring devices.

[page 31] And so a future must come when people will be able to say, "Yes, with my intelligence I can apprehend the external world in the way that is the ideal of natural science. But the vista thus presented to me is wholly ahrimanic."

[page 54] For to experience a thing is a very different matter from attempting to prove it intellectually.

[page 77] It is a scientific fallacy to trace back to mineral causes the forces manifesting in air and water and in the mineral realm; in reality the causes are to be found within the human beings.

The scientists assume that the geology of the earth occurs whether human beings are present or not, but I note that Steiner says that the very opposite is true.

[page 83] The all-essential causes of what happens on the earth do not lie outside the human being; they lie within humankind. And if earthly consciousness is to expand to cosmic consciousness, humanity must realize that the earth not over short but over long stretches of time is made in its own likeness, in the likeness of humanity itself.

Can we escape Ahriman and Lucifer by avoiding both of them? You may have thought so, as I did at first, but Steiner's answer is a firm, "No!" Instead he argues for you and me to maintain a balance between the influence of Lucifer and of Ahriman.

[page 34] But the truth of the matter is that Lucifer and Ahriman must be regarded as two scales of a balance and it is we who must hold the beam in equipoise.
[page 34] And how can we train ourselves to do this? By permeating what takes ahrimanic form within us with a strongly luciferic element.

We are led inexorably to the conclusion that only by experiencing our world via the external senses of the materialistic scientist and at the same time experiencing the super-sensible aspects of our reality as well can we become full human beings in relation to our cosmic environment.

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