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A READER'S JOURNAL
An Outline of Occult Science
A Science of Revealed Secrets
Chapter 4 - Earth Epoch Details
Published by Anthroposophic Press of Hudson/NY in 1972
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2003
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Earth Stage Details
Before we consider the Earth stage, let us look back at the seven Moon stage cycles. We will notice that a period of rest between two periods of activity, but only from the perspective of the activity of human beings existing during that planetary stage. During these periods of rest, other spiritual beings are hard at work during these so-called rest periods.
[page 173, 174] Between these cycles lie rest periods that have been mentioned previously. We shall arrive at a true conception of the situation only if we do not imagine abrupt transitions between periods of activity and those of rest. The sun beings, for example, withdraw, little by little, from their activity on the Moon. A time begins for them that, outwardly observed, appears like their period of rest, while upon the Moon itself, animated, independent activity reigns. Thus the period of activity of one kind of being extends into the rest period of other beings. If we take these things into account we can speak of a rhythmic rising and falling of forces in cycles. Indeed, similar divisions can also be observed within the seven Moon cycles described. We can then call the whole Moon evolution a great cycle, a planetary cycle; the seven divisions within one of these cycles, small cycles, and the divisions of these last again still smaller sub-cycles. This membering into seven times seven sections is already observable in the Sun evolution and is indicated also during the Saturn epoch. Yet we must consider the boundaries between the divisions as being blurred on the Sun and as being still more vague on Saturn. The boundary lines become more and more clearly defined the farther evolution proceeds toward Earth.
As humans progressed into the Earth stage of evolution, they were endowed with physical, etheric, and astral bodies, but as yet lacked the ability to perceive a world of outer sense objects. New organs were required for this. This may seem nonsensical to many today for whom these sense organs are so well-developed that they provide the only means of viewing the world today. To understand evolution requires one to understand the progressive evolution of our sense organs as well as the human ability to perceive the spiritual world that they replaced.
I have just completed a course in Classical Mythology during which I studied the Odyssey and the Iliad in detail. Professor Elizabeth Vandiver taught this course and she is an acknowledged expert in this field as well as an excellent lecturer. She went into great detail about the difference in the two prominent men of the Iliad, Achilles and Hector. Achilles was part man-part god, he was a loner, he was driven by destiny, he fought with the fury of the God of War, Ares, himself. Hector was a very human man, the head of a family he loved, he was driven only by the love of his fellow men, and he fought bravely. What became clear to me as the professor detailed the differences between the two men was she was describing an early human capability in Achilles that had almost disappeared - the ability to see into the spiritual world, the ability to know consciously one's own karmic plans for this lifetime. Hector had none of those capabilities. In Achilles and Hector we see portrayed in dramatic fashion the evolution of consciousness from the prehistoric human who lived in close consort and cooperation with the spiritual world represented by Achilles and the all-too-human Hector who, as a modern human of his time, had lost those capabilities. It became abundantly clear to me for the first time that the stories of the gods of ancient Greek mythology were stories of human beings who could still perceive the spiritual world, a capability that survived in Achilles as an atavism.
Rightly understood, what has made the Iliad stand the test of time is that it portrays the evolution of consciousness of humanity from prehistoric times to Hector's time. What we have learned from the Iliad will become infused with even more meaning when we add this new perspective to our study of the ancient Greeks. While classical professors are apparently not aware of the evolution of consciousness aspects of the Iliad at a conscious level, they seem to me to be immersed in the effects of the evolution of consciousness in their studies and in their teachings. For example, Professor Vandiver was able to describe and detail the differences in humankind, pre- and post-evolutionary-change, but instead of recognizing these as pervasive changes in humankind, she described them as differences between two men, Achilles and Hector, hinting only that Achilles was a kind of throwback to earlier Greek man. Nowhere is it easier to describe the effects of the evolution of consciousness than when you have before you a representative of modern man and an atavistic man from much earlier times. In Hector and Achilles we have exactly that chance, but lacking an understanding of the evolution of consciousness, the chance to hold them up as an example of the evolution of consciousness will apparently escape the notice of even a classics expert, up until now.
In the characters of Achilles and Hector we see humankind portrayed before and after the full development of our sensory apparatus to enable humans to see the sensory world, with the concomitant loss of the human capability to see the spiritual world. Achilles could; Hector couldn't. And humans, with few exceptions since Hector's time, cannot.
This brings us to evolutionary change that occurs during Earth evolution which allows us to develop our organs of mineral world perception, which in time come to replace the "picture-consciousness" which allowed humans to perceive the spiritual world. Newly planted into the Earth stage, our sensory organs are still only latent in the seeds of humankind that sprouted in the newly formed Earth.
[page 177, 178] At the end of the interval of rest from outer activity, the beings who had taken part in the evolutionary processes on Saturn, Sun, and Moon appear with new abilities and faculties. The beings standing above men have acquired, through their previous acts, the capacity to develop the human being to such a point that, during the Earth period following the Moon period, he can unfold in himself a degree of consciousness that stands one stage higher than the picture-consciousness possessed by him during the Moon period. Man, however, must first be prepared to receive what is to be bestowed upon him. During the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions he invested his being with a physical, life, and astral body, but these members of his being have received only the capacities and forces that enable them to live in a picture-consciousness; they still lack the organs and structure enabling them to perceive a world of outer sense objects as it is required for the Earth stage. Just as the new plant only develops what is inherent in the seed coming from the old plant, so in the beginning of the new stage of evolution the three members of human nature appear with structures and organs that make possible the development of picture-consciousness only. They must first be prepared for the development of a higher stage of consciousness.
In the beginning of the Sun stage, the first step was a recapitulation of the earlier Saturn stage at a higher level (See Figure 11). In the beginning of the Moon stage, the first steps were recapitulations of the earlier Saturn and Sun stages (See Figure 12). Now in the beginning of the Earth stage we find that the first three steps recapitulate the three preceding stages. As usual, these recapitulations occur at a higher level, just as the study of math in elementary school is repeated in high school and then in college, but each time at a higher level building always on the progress made in the earlier stages.
[page 178] This (the preparation for the development of a higher stage of consciousness) takes place in three preliminary stages. In the first stage, the physical body is raised to a level where it is possible to make the necessary transformation that can be the basis for an objective consciousness. This is a preliminary stage of the Earth evolution, which may be termed a repetition of Saturn at a higher level, for during this period, just as during the Saturn evolution, higher beings work only upon the physical body. When the physical body has progressed far enough in its evolution, all beings must again pass over into a higher form of existence before the life or ether body can also advance. The physical body must be remodeled, as it were, in order to be able, when it unfolds again, to receive the more highly developed life body. After this intermediate period devoted to a higher form of existence, something like a repetition of the Sun evolution takes place on a higher level for the purpose of developing the life body. Again after an intermediate period something similar happens for the astral body in a repetition of the Moon evolution.
At this point the human being still exists only in an astral form; the physical and life (etheric) bodies have not yet achieved the final state as we know them in us today.
[page 178, 179] Let us now turn to the events of evolution after the completion of the third of the recapitulation periods just described. All beings and forces have again become spiritualized. During this spiritualization they have ascended into sublime worlds. The lowest of these worlds in which something of these beings and forces can still be perceived during this period of spiritualization, is the same world in which the present human being dwells between death and re-birth. These are the regions of the land of spirits. The beings and forces then gradually descend again to lower worlds. Before the physical Earth evolution begins, they have descended so far that their lowest manifestations are to be perceived in the astral or soul world.
Everything human existing at this period still possesses its astral form. In order to understand this state of humanity, special attention should be given to the fact that man possesses a physical body, a life body, and an astral body, but that the physical body as well as the life body do not yet exist in a physical or etheric form, but in an astral form. What at that time makes the physical body physical is not its physical form but the physical laws that are present in it, although it has an astral form. It is a being ruled by physical laws appearing in soul form. This is also true of the life body.
In the next stages of evolution, the astral Earth and its inhabitants will pass through a phase of fire (or heat) reminiscent of the Saturn stage, a phase of air reminiscent of the Sun stage, and a phase of water reminiscent of the Moon stage, ending finally with the current phase of earth in which we live. When we understand the evolution of the cosmos and humanity, we see these four elements appear over and over again: fire, air, water, and earth, and we no longer make the mistake that materialistic scientists do when they discount these four elements as trivial and antiquated ways of understanding the world. Like the days of the week that mirror our evolutionary history particularly Saturday, Sunday, Monday, so do the elements of fire (Saturn), air (Sun), and water (Moon). The two days of Tuesday(Mars) and Wednesday(Mercury) represent the earth (Earth) stage. Coincidence or deep truth? You add up enough coincidences and it becomes too far-fetched at some point to consider them as adventitious or aleatory occurrences.
First we study the fire phase during which the seed of the sentient soul is implanted in humankind.
[page 179, 180] At this stage of evolution the Earth stands before the spiritual eye as a cosmic being that is wholly soul and spirit, and in which the physical and life forces still appear in soul form. Within this cosmic structure everything that is to be transformed later into the creatures of the physical earth is contained in a germinal state. This cosmic Earth being is luminous, but its light is not one that physical eyes could perceive, even were they present, for it gleams with soul radiance only for the opened eye of the seer.
In this cosmic being something now takes place that may be called a condensation, which after a time results in a fire form appearing in the midst of this soul structure, a form similar to Saturn in its densest condition. This fire form is interwoven with the activities of the various beings who participate in evolution. What may be observed as a reciprocal activity between these beings and the celestial body is like an emerging from the Earth fire-ball and a re-immersing in it. Therefore the Earth fire-ball is by no means a uniform substance, but something like an organism permeated with soul and spirit. The beings who are destined to become human beings in our present form on the Earth are still in a condition in which they participate the least in the activity of immersion in the fire-body. They still remain almost wholly in the non-condensed environment. They still are within the bosom of the higher spiritual beings. At this stage they touch the fire Earth only with one point of their soul form, with the result that the heat causes a part of their astral form to condense. Through this fact, Earth life is enkindled within them, but the largest part of their being still belongs to the world of soul and spirit. Only through the contact with the Earth fire does the warmth of life play around them. If we wish to form a sensible-supersensible picture of this human being in the beginning of the physical Earth period, we must imagine an egg-shaped soul form, existing in the surroundings of the Earth enclosed by a cup at its lower end like an acorn. But the substance of the cup consists purely of heat enkindling of life within the human being was not the only result of this enclosure in heat, but simultaneously with it a change in the astral body occurred. Inserted into it is the primal nucleus of what later becomes the sentient soul. Therefore, it may be said that at this stage of his existence man consists of sentient soul, astral body, life body, and physical body woven of fire.
Next we study the air phase during which the intellectual soul is implanted in humankind.
[page 181, 182] The condensation of the Earth advances further and further and with it the characterized organizing of man becomes ever more distinct. At a definite point of time in its evolution the Earth becomes condensed to such a degree that only a part remains fiery. Another part has taken on a substantial form that may be represented as gas or air. A change now takes place also in man. Not only the Earth heat touches his organism, but air substance is drawn into his fire body. Just as heat has enkindled life in him, so air playing about him produces an effect that may be likened to spiritual tone; his life body resounds. At the same time the astral body detaches a part of itself; this becomes the primal nucleus of what appears later as the intellectual soul. In order to form a picture of what is taking place at this time within the human soul, we must realize that beings higher than men surge up and down within the air-fire body of the Earth. In the fire Earth we have first the Spirits of Personality who are of importance to man, and when the latter is aroused to life by the Earth heat, his sentient soul says to itself, "These are the Spirits of Personality." Likewise, the beings who have been called Archangels in the sense of Christian esotericism proclaim themselves in the air body, and when the air plays about the human being it is their activities that he experiences in himself as tone; the intellectual soul says to itself, "These are the Archangels." Thus, at this stage man does not yet perceive through his connection with the Earth what might be called an aggregation of physical objects, but he lives in sensations of heat arising in him and in sounding tone; in these heat streams and tone waves he perceives the Spirits of Personality and the Archangels. He cannot, however, perceive these beings directly; he can only sense them through the veil of heat and tone. While these perceptions coming from the Earth penetrate his soul, still rising and falling within it are the images of the higher beings in whose bosom he feels his existence.
With each succeeding phase we notice a certain condensation occurring: from diffuse fire, to gaseous air, to the fluid water, and finally to the solid, mineral-based earth. Next in sequence is water, but before that phase can begin, the Sun separates from the Earth-Moon combination which is called simply "Earth" below. Humankind has received its boon from the air phase of the Sun and now the Sun with its high spiritual beings withdraws from the combined Earth-Moon mass. From this point on, the activities of these high spiritual beings will be sent to Earth from the Sun. Like a parent sending a child off to college in a distance city might send encouragement and other things long distance to support their child's independence.
This is the stage at which the consciousness soul is first sown in humankind.
[page 182] The evolution of the Earth now advances further and its continuation expresses itself again in condensing. The Earth receives the watery substance into its body, which now consists of three members the fiery, the airy, and the watery elements. Prior to this an important event takes place. An independent cosmic body severs itself from the fire-air Earth. This becomes in its subsequent evolution the present sun. Previously, Earth and sun were one body. After the separation of the sun, the Earth still contains within it all that comprises the present moon. The separation of the sun takes place because exalted beings can no longer endure the matter now condensed to water in their own evolution and in their task for the advancement of the Earth. They extract from the general Earth mass the substance alone suited to their purposes and withdraw in order to establish a new habitation in the present sun. They now send down their activities from the sun to the Earth. Man, however, needs for his further development a place of action in which substance continues to condense.The incorporation of the watery substance into the Earth body is accompanied by a change in the human being. Not only does fire stream into him and air play about him, but watery substance is incorporated into his physical body. At the same time his etheric part undergoes a change and he perceives it now as a delicate body of light. Previously he felt the streams of heat arising from the Earth, he experienced air pressing upon him through tones. Now the watery element also penetrates his fire-air body, and he perceives its instreaming and outstreaming as a flashing up and dimming of light. In his soul also a change has taken place. To the germs of the sentient and intellectual souls is now added that of the consciousness soul. In the water element the Angels are active; they are also the actual producers of light. The human being feels as though they appeared to him in light. Certain higher beings who were previously within the Earth body now work down upon it from the sun; through all this there is a change in the effects on the Earth.
If I may continue the college metaphor parents send their child off to college, but do not completely break contact with them. Through periodic contact via phone calls, letters, emails, and trips home or college visits, they maintain contact with their beloved offspring. While at college their offspring is an adult, while at home visiting the parents, a child once more. This alteration process provides a balancing of the two aspects so that the child-adult fledgling is allowed to stretch its wings as an adult and yet not leave the nest completely while growing and learning. Something similar happened to humankind during the watery phase when it became separated from the Sun beings. The alteration is similar to our day and night today, except that no Moon existed at that time. What happened instead consisted of an alteration between existing in a soul condition and a physical body condition. This process can be seen as precursor to our day and night alteration which is the current phase we are in. It prefigures the rotation of the Earth which gives us night and day.
[Page 183] Man chained to the Earth would no longer be able to sense the effects of the sun beings within himself if his soul were constantly turned toward the Earth from which he has received his physical body. An alternation now takes place in the states of human consciousness. The sun beings tear the human soul away from the physical body at certain times so that man now lives alternately within the bosom of the sun beings, purely as a soul, and at other times in a condition where he is united with the body and receives the influences of the Earth. If he is in the physical body, the streams of heat surge up to him; the air masses sound around him; the waters flow in and out of him. If he is outside his body, his soul is then permeated by the images of the higher beings in whose bosom he lives. At this stage of its evolution the Earth experiences two alternating periods. During the one, it is permitted to weave its substances around the human souls and invest them with bodies; during the other, the souls desert it and only the bodies remain. It, together with the human beings, is in a sleeping state. It is entirely possible to say that at this time of the far distant past the Earth passes through a day and a night period. (This expresses itself physically and spatially in the movement of the Earth in relation to the sun as a result of the mutual action of the sun and Earth beings. In this way the alternation in the characterized day and night period is effected. The day period occurs when the Earth surface upon which man is evolving is turned toward the sun. The night period, that is, the time during which man leads a purely soul existence, occurs when this surface is turned away from the sun. It should not, however, be imagined that in that primeval epoch the Earth's movement around the sun was at all like that of the present. The conditions were then quite different. It is, however, useful to realize here that the movements of the heavenly bodies arise as a result of the relationships the spiritual beings inhabiting them bear to one another. The heavenly bodies are brought into such positions and movements through soul and spirit causes that the spiritual states are enabled to unfold themselves in the physical world.)
At this point in evolution humans existed without the differentiation of bodies into two distinct types that we know as the two sexes, but they were developing a solid or earthy body for the first time. The soul enters and leaves the human body during this time, similar to what happens at night during our time when we fall asleep. Again we see in this early phase of Earth evolution something which prefigures our current existence, but at a more primitive level.
[page 187, 189] The process of Earth-substance condensation now continues. The solid element, which may be called "earthy," is added to the watery element. With this the human being also begins to invest his body with the earthy element during his sojourn on Earth. As soon as this investing process begins, the forces that the soul brings with it from the time it is freed from the body no longer have the same power as previously. Formerly, the soul fashioned the body for itself from the fiery, airy, and watery element according to the tones sounding around it and the light shapes playing about it. The soul is unable to do this with the solidified form. Other powers now intervene in the fashioning process. In the part of the human being that remains when the soul abandons the body, now not only a germinal nucleus is present, which is quickened by the returning soul, but an organism is present that contains also the vivifying force itself. By its severance, the soul does not leave behind on Earth merely a likeness of itself, but it also implants a part of its vivifying power into the likeness. When the soul reappears on Earth, it can no longer only awaken the likeness to life, but the quickening must take place in the likeness itself. The spiritual beings who affect the Earth from the sun sustain the quickening force in the human body although man himself is not on Earth. By incarnating, the soul feels not only the resounding tones and light shapes in which it senses the presence of the beings standing- next above it, but through the intake of the Earth element it feels the influence of the still higher beings who have established their field of activity on the sun. Previously man felt himself belonging to the beings of soul and spirit with whom he was united when body-free. His ego still existed within their bosom. This ego now confronts him during physical embodiment while at the same time the surrounding world encompasses him. Independent likenesses of the soul-spirit nature of the human being were now on Earth, likenesses that, when compared with the present human bodies, were structures composed of delicate substantiality, for the earthy parts mingled with them only in the finest state, in a way comparable to the modern human being's absorption. of the finely diffused substances of an object with his organ of smell. Human bodies were like shadows. Since they were distributed over the whole Earth, however, they became subject to the Earth influences, which varied at different points of its surface. While previously the bodily likenesses corresponded to the soul-men who animated them and, for that reason, were essentially similar to one another over the whole Earth, now variations appear among human forms. In this way what later emerged as race differentiation was prepared. Coincident with the growing independence of the human bodily being there was a loosening of the previous close connection between the earth man and the soul-spirit world. When the soul now left the body, the latter lived on in a sort of continuation of life. If evolution had continued in this way, the Earth would have had to harden under the influence of its solid element. Supersensible knowledge, looking back upon these conditions, perceives how the human bodies abandoned by their souls solidify more and more. After a time the souls returning to Earth would have found no usable material with which they might unite. All the substances suitable for the human being would have been employed in filling the Earth with the wood-like remains of incarnations.
Next two forces, one a germinal force and the other a life-giving, engendering force, sorted themselves out into the human beings on Earth thus creating the division into two sexes. The germinal force came to be called male and the engendering force, female. Imagine a fertilized egg planted in the womb of a mother the egg is the germinal substance of a new being which is surrounded by an engendering force the womb which bears the germinal being fully into existence by providing it nourishment, warm, and safety. Consider the nascent Earth of the time as the germinal new being ensconced within the womb of the orbiting Moon which surrounded it. This image allows us to see the isomorphism of the separated Earth-Moon duo and the separated male-female duo of the human being. It all happened at the same time.
[page 189] An event then occurred that gave a different direction to the whole process of evolution. Everything was eliminated that could contribute to permanent induration in the solid Earth substance. At that time our present moon withdrew from the Earth, and what had previously contributed directly to the fashioning of permanent forms in the Earth worked now indirectly in a diminished way from the moon. The higher beings upon whom this fashioning of form depends had decided no longer to bestow their effects upon the Earth from within it, but to bestow them upon it from the outside. As a result there appeared a variation in the bodily human structure that must be regarded as the beginning of the separation into two sexes, male and female. The human structures composed of fine substance that previously inhabited the Earth, permitted through the co-operation within themselves of both these forces, the germinal and the engendering force the new human form, their descendant, to come into existence. These descendants now transformed themselves. In the one group of such descendants, the soul-spirit germ force was more effective; in the other group it was the life-giving, engendering force that was more effective. This was caused by the weakening of the power of the Earth element through the withdrawal of the moon from the Earth. The interworking of both forces became more delicate than it was previously when it occurred in a single living individual. As a result the descendant, too, was more delicate, finer.
What was next for humankind? To feel the warmth of the inner fire of its life-body as one with the external fire of the Earth. To feel streaming through its life-body the circulation of the blood which is the carrier of its newly formed Ego. This word Ego, with its capital letter, is used to refer to the fourth body of the human being which only comes into existence during Earth at the time we are talking here. It is the body which carries the immortal spirit and it is the agent of independence and free volition of the human being. What was next for humankind? To feel the air moving in and out of its body becoming impressed into an evolving nervous system. In addition, the densification of its body continues into an earthen form and the liquid earth elements with its body becomes mixed with solid earthen elements. Humankind was reaching the threshold of humanness and acquiring the human form that we take for granted in our current stage of evolution.
[page 192, 193] At this stage of evolution, man felt himself during his earth existence as an independent being. He felt the inner fire of his life body united with the external fire of the earth. He was able to feel the heat streaming through him as his own ego. In these currents of heat, interwoven with life, the first tendency to form a blood circulation is to be found. The human being did not, however, quite feel his own being in what streamed into him as air. In this air the forces of the already described higher beings were active. But that part of the effective forces within the air streaming through him, which belonged to him already by virtue of his previously created ether forces, had remained. He was ruler in one part of these air currents and to the degree that this was so, not only did the higher beings operate in fashioning him, but he himself also assisted in his own formation. According to the images of his astral body he fashioned the air portions. While air thus streamed into the human being from without, becoming the basis of his breathing, a part of the air he contained developed into an organism that was then impressed into him; this became the foundation of the later nervous system. Thus man of that time was connected with the external world of the earth by warmth and air. On the other hand, he was unconscious of the introduction into his organism of the solid element of the earth; this element co-operated in bringing about his incarnation on earth, yet he was unable to perceive directly its infusion into himself, but could only perceive it in a dull state of consciousness in the pictures of higher beings who were active in this element. In such a picture form as an expression of beings standing above him man had previously perceived the introduction of the liquid earth elements into himself. As a result of the densification of his earth form, these pictures have now undergone a transformation in his consciousness. The liquid is admixed with the solid element. The infusion of this latter element also must thus be felt as something proceeding from higher beings acting from without. The human soul no longer possesses the power to infuse this element into itself, for this power must now serve the human body, which is built up from outside. Man would spoil its form were he to direct the introduction himself. What he infuses into himself from outside appears to him to be directed by the command of the higher beings who work on the fashioning of his bodily structure. Man feels himself as an ego, he has his intellectual soul within himself as a part of the astral body, through which he experiences inwardly in pictures what is taking place externally, and which permeates his delicate nervous system. He feels himself as the descendant of ancestors by virtue of the life flowing through generations. He breathes and feels it as the effect of the higher beings, described as Spirits of Form, and he accepts what is brought to him through their impulses from the external world as nourishment.
For the first time in our study of evolution, we get a glimpse of how the animals and plants evolved. Simply put, humans did not evolve from the animals, rather animals devolved from humans. Similarly, animals did not evolve from plants, but plants devolved from animals. Since this devolution of animals from humans happened long before the hard bodies of human beings appeared during the Earth stage, there is no fossil record possible for this evolutionary event. Clearly fossil records require bones and stones, neither of which were present on the Earth prior to the current Earth stage of evolution. An evolutionary theory which encompasses only the Earth stage of evolution would be like a drama critic analyzing only the last act of a four act play and deciding what happened to the characters in Acts I, II, and III based solely on an analysis of Act IV. That is the most severe indictment that can be made of Charles Darwins theory of evolution that his theory is based on data gathered from sensory records left only in the hard, fossilized or mineral kingdom remains of human, animal, and plant kingdom bodies during the fourth stage the Earth stage of evolution. Given the limitations of such an analysis of only the fourth "act", their conclusions are plausible. But a careful examination of all four acts as Rudolf Steiner gives in this book leads us to a dramatically different conclusion. Simply stated, in the traditional manner, it is this conclusion: man did not evolve from monkey - monkey devolved from man.
By devolve I mean that humans came first, before animals, not afterward. Humans were present with a physical body, a heat body, during Saturn (Act I). Animals were not present during Saturn. During Sun, most humans acquired a life body or etheric body, but some humans lagged behind and by the end of Sun, there were humans who as yet had only developed a warmth body. These laggards arrived on Moon (Act III), and if they kept up with the pace and were successful in acquiring a life or etheric body by the end of Moon, they achieved the status of modern day plants which have only a physical body and life body. By the end Moon, humans had developed a third body, an astral body, and had achieved the status of today's animals for whom an astral body is their highest state of development. While the humans developed their Ego body during the Earth stage (Act IV), these animals added their astral body. Thus, rightly understood, the animals today are humans who lagged behind in their evolutionary progress during one of the earlier stages of evolution, either the Saturn, Sun, or Moon stage. A similar analysis will show that plants are humans who lagged behind in their evolutionary progress during two stages of evolution and minerals during all three earlier stages. Minerals are today the remains of the non-evolving material which forms the substrate of plant, animal, and human bodies today in the middle of Act IV, the Earth stage. This illustrates what I mean by devolve - whose definition is "to move down into some state or condition over time". Animals are humans who fell behind during an earlier stage of evolution and today reside in a lower state of evolution due to their slower development.
Lacking an individual Ego as each human being today possesses, an animal must share an Ego with all the members of its species. Humans existed in this form during Moon, before they had attained individual Egos. If one observed humans (with spiritual sight) during Moon, it was as though they were marionettes or puppets on a string, the string being each human's connection to a Group Ego or Group Soul that hovered above the Moon. Animals today have a similar nature lacking an individual Ego, they are individually connected to a species-based Group Soul in the spiritual world. Thus, when an animal dies, the Group Soul of that species continues on.
[page 200, 201] After the Earth had developed the air element within itself, there were astral beings, as described above, left over from the ancient Moon, who were greater laggards in evolution than the lowest human souls. These became the souls of the forms that had to be forsaken by human beings even before the separation of the sun from the Earth. These beings are the ancestors of the present animal kingdom. In the course of time, they developed the organs that were present in the human being only as appendages. Their astral body had to affect the physical and ether bodies in the same way that this was the case for human beings on the ancient Moon. The animals thus created had souls that could not reside in the individual animal. The soul extended its nature upon the inheritors of the forebear's form. The animals originating from a single configuration have a common soul. Only when the descendant under especial influences departs from the form of its forebear does a new animal soul commence its embodiment. We may speak in this sense in spiritual science in regard to animal souls of a species or group soul.
A similar thing happened at a lower level to produce the plants that inhabit the Earth today. These plants are active when the Sun shines directly upon them during the summer months while during the dark days of winter they disappear into the Earth. Just as the Ego or Soul of animals today must infuse them, enter them from the outside, from the spiritual world, so too the astral element must enter plants from the outside. Lacking an astral element within them, plants require the assistance of astral body-bearing beings, such as animals and humans, for reproduction. This basic principle of the "birds and bees" is made clear by this presentation of evolution and does not have to be explained by saying, "That's just how it is." Each stage of evolutionary development, be it plant, animal, or human, looks up to the level above it for a capability that they are attempting to acquire during this evolutionary stage. Plants look to animals and humans to provide the astral element they lack. Animals look to humans to provide the Ego or individualized Soul element they lack. When our pets look into our eyes, that's what they are looking for something we have that they are working on an individual Ego. We praise them most when they do something which demonstrates the slightest hint of an individual Ego. We say something like this: "Fido cocked his head as if he knew what I was saying." or "Fifi acts almost human when she wants something from me." About plants, we might liken them to animals when they fold their leaves when we touch them as the sensitive mimosa plants do, or when they follow the arc of the sun through the sky in the course of a day as phototropic plants do.
[page 201] Something similar occurred at the time of the separation of the sun from the Earth. Forms emerged from the watery element that were no further evolved than the human being prior to evolution on the ancient Moon. They were able to receive the effect of the activity of an astral element only when this influenced them from outside. That could only occur after the separation of the sun from the Earth. With every repetition of the sun period of the Earth, the sun's astral element animated these forms in such a way that they constructed their life bodies from the Earth's etheric element. When the sun again turned away from the Earth, this life body dissolved into the common body of the Earth. As a result of the cooperation of the astral element of the sun with the ether element of the Earth there emerged from the watery element the physical structures that formed the ancestors of the present-day plant kingdom.
Human beings were becoming free and independent beings, no longer only members of a organism of higher spiritual beings, but individuals. Their astral bodies developed into three major parts, the ones we know as sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul. Only when free from their bodies are humans in communion with the Spirits of Form who provided the spark of fire that was invested in them as Ego.
[page 201, 202] Upon the earth the human being has become an individualized soul-being. The astral body, which had flowed into him through the Spirits of Motion during the Moon evolution, became tripartite as sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul upon the earth. When his consciousness soul had advanced far enough so that during earth life it could form a body fit to receive it, the Spirits of Form endowed the human being with a spark of their own fire. The ego, the I, was enkindled within him. Every time the human being left the physical body he found himself in the spirit world in which he encountered beings who had given him his physical body, his life or ether body, and his astral body during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions and had brought them up to the level of the Earth evolution. Since the enkindling of the fire spark of the ego during earth life, a change had taken place also for the body-free life. Prior to this point in the evolution of his nature, man had no independence in regard to the spirit world. Within this spirit world he did not feel himself as an individual, but as a member of an exalted organism composed of the beings standing above him. The ego experience on earth now extends itself also into the spirit world. Man feels himself now to a certain degree as a unity in this world, but he feels also that he is constantly united with the same world. In the body-free state he finds again in a higher configuration the Spirits of Form whom he had perceived on earth in their manifestation through the spark of the ego.
After the separation of the Earth from the Moon, humans souls were unable to perceive the Sun beings directly, but instead could see them in the reflected splendor of the Moon beings. What was true for these souls in the spiritual world back then is true for us in the physical world today. We are not able to look directly upon the Sun for more than a glance, but we may look upon the Sun's reflected light coming to us from the Moon for as long as we wish.
[page 202, 203] With the separation of the moon from the earth, experiences that were connected with that separation developed also for the body-free soul in the spirit world. Only because a part of the shaping forces had been transferred from the earth to the moon was it possible to reproduce, on the earth, the human shapes that were able to receive the individuality of the soul. Through this fact the human individuality entered the sphere of the moon beings. The reflection of the earth individuality could only be effective in the body-free state through the fact that in this state also the soul remained in the sphere of the mighty spirits who had caused the moon separation. The process took place in such a way that immediately after the soul had forsaken the earth body it could perceive the exalted sun beings only in the reflected splendor of the moon beings. It was only after gazing at this splendor for a considerable length of time that the soul was sufficiently prepared to behold the sublime sun beings themselves.
We have seen earlier that the plant and animal kingdoms devolved or descended from human beings and now we see that the mineral kingdom also devolved from humankind. The Earth, rightly understood, was once part of our body and deserves the love and attention we would naturally give to our own body.
[page 203] The earth's mineral kingdom also came into existence through having been expelled from the general evolution of mankind. Its structures are what remained solidified when the moon separated from the earth. Only that part of soul nature felt itself attracted to these forms that had remained on the Saturn stage and is thus fit only to fashion physical forms. All events under consideration here and in the following pages occurred in the course of vast lengths of time. We cannot, however, enter here into a discussion of chronology.
Human beings, through the actions of the spiritual beings who were involved in separating the Earth from the Moon, became able to reflect consciously the arrangement of the cosmos.
[page 203] The events described here present Earth evolution from the external side. When observed spiritually it can be said that the spiritual beings who withdrew the moon from the earth and united their own existence with it, thus becoming earth-moon beings, caused a certain configuration of the human organism to take place by sending forces from this cosmic body down upon the earth. Their activity was directed upon the ego acquired by the human being. This activity made itself felt in the interplay between this ego and the astral body, ether body, and physical body. As a result it became possible for man to reflect within himself consciously the wisely fashioned configuration of the world, to reflect it as though in a mirror of knowledge.
Human beings were on their way to possessing a cognition which reflected the cosmos out of their free volition as a necessity of their nature. This did not occur because of the influence of rebellious Moon spirits.
[page 203, 204] It may be remembered in our description how, during the ancient Moon period, the human being acquired through the separation of the sun at that time a certain independence in his organism and a less restricted degree of consciousness than could be derived directly from the sun beings. This free, independent consciousness reappeared during the characterized period of Earth evolution as a heritage of the ancient Moon evolution. But this very consciousness, brought again into harmony with the cosmos through the influence of the earth-moon beings referred to above, could be made into a copy of it. This would have happened had no other influence made itself felt. Without such an influence man would have become a being in whom the content of consciousness would not have reflected the cosmos in the images of cognitional life through his own free volition, but as a necessity of nature. This did not occur.
The free volition of humans was saved for them by ancient Moon beings who were confined to Earth and who rebelled against the Sun spirits. This made them enemies of those who would have willed for humans consciousness to be under a compulsion of necessity. We are seeing here the intricate inner workings that led human beings to become free and independent beings during the Earth stage of evolution.
[page 204] Certain spiritual beings took an active part in the evolution of mankind just at the time of the moon separation, beings who had retained so much of their Moon nature that they could not participate in the separation of the sun from the earth; they were excluded also from the activity of the beings who, from the earth-moon, directed their activity upon the earth. These beings with the ancient Moon nature were confined with their irregular development to the earth. In their Moon nature lay the cause of their rebellion during the ancient Moon evolution against the sun spirits, a rebellion that was at that time beneficial to the human being by its having led him to an independent state of consciousness. The consequences of the peculiar development of these beings during the Earth epoch entailed their becoming during that time enemies of the beings who, from the moon, wished to turn human consciousness into a universal mirror of knowledge under the compulsion of necessity.
We see hints of how the Moon came to have this effect on human beings, which even in our time seems to rule the passions of the human being as witness the strange behaviors that are known commonly to occur during the Full Moon. These strange behaviors, as we call them, are nothing if not free or unfettered behaviors, a result of the independence given the human astral body by these ancient Moon beings.
[page 205] What on the ancient Moon had helped man to a higher state proved to be in opposition to the possibilities that had developed through Earth evolution. The opposing powers had brought with them, out of their Moon nature, the force to work on the human astral body, namely, in the sense of the above descriptions, to make it independent. They exercised this force by giving the astral body a certain independence now also for the earth period in contrast to the compelled (unfree) state of consciousness that was caused by the beings of the earth-moon.
What we are approaching is an understanding of the origin of the Luciferic beings and the possibility of evil that accompanied the jump start into evolution they bestowed upon humankind. They invested in the human astral body the ability to regulate the images arising in consciousness so that humans were no longer simply reflectors of images of the cosmos, but active controllers of those images. Thus humans became the masters of knowledge. While this was a good thing, the control was placed by the Luciferic beings, not in the Ego [humankind's highest body which was shaped by the Sun beings] but in the astral body which the ancient Moon beings were able to shape. It was as though humankind had been placed upon a mustang. A mustang is a horse that cannot be broken. It has a mind of its own, and one rides it at one's own peril. The astral body of humankind became a rebellious mustang as a result of the gift of the ancient Moon beings, the Luciferic beings, and the ride was one of freedom and error.
[page 205, 206] The effect that proceeded from the spiritual beings who had remained behind in their ancient Moon state had a twofold consequence for man. His consciousness was divested of the character of a mere reflector of the cosmos, because the possibility was aroused in the human astral body to regulate and control, by means of it, the images arising in the consciousness. Man became the master of his knowledge. On the other hand, it was just the astral body that became the starting point of this control, and the ego, set above this body, became thus steadily dependent upon it. As a result the future human being was exposed to the continuous influences of a lower element in his nature. It was possible for him during his life to sink below the height at which he had been placed by the earth-moon beings in the course of world events. The continuous influence of the characterized irregularly developed Moon beings remained with him throughout the subsequent periods. These moon beings, in contrast to the others who from the earth-moon satellite fashioned human consciousness into a cosmic mirror but gave no independent will, may be called Luciferic spirits. These spirits brought to the human being the possibility of unfolding a free activity in his consciousness, but at the same time also the possibility of error, of evil.
This advent of the possibility of error and evil we have come to call the "Fall of Man". We can see the logic of that name if we realize that, up until the advent of evil, humankind existed in a state similar to a fish floating above the bottom of a pond. With a body only slightly denser than the water in which it floated, humankind hovered and swam above the surface of the Earth. After the advent of the Luciferic gift, the human body grew denser and humans fell to the solid ground of Earth, thenceforth required to walk upon the solid ground of the Earth. In this sense the Fall of Man can be taken as a literal fall to Earth.
[page 206, 207] The consequence of these processes was that man came into quite a different relationship with the sun spirits from the one for which he was predestined by the earth-moon spirits. The latter wished to develop the mirror of his consciousness in such a way that the influence of the sun spirits would be the dominant one in the whole of human soul life. These processes were thwarted, and in the human being the contrast was created between the sun spirit influence and the influence of the spirits with an irregular Moon evolution. Through this contrast the human being became unable to recognize the physical sun activity as such; it remained concealed behind the earthly impressions of the outer world. The astral nature of man filled by these impressions was drawn into the sphere of the ego. This ego, which otherwise would have felt only the spark of fire bestowed on it by the Spirits of Form, and in everything that concerned the outer fire would have subordinated itself to the commands of these spirits, this ego now because of the astral element injected into it exerted its influence also upon the outer heat phenomena. Through creating a bond of attraction between itself and the earth fire, the ego entangled man in earthly matter more than was predestined for him. Whereas previously he had a physical body, which in its principal parts consisted of fire, air, and water, and to which was added only something like a shadowy semblance of earth substance, now the body became denser because of the presence of earth substance. Whereas man existed previously like a finely organized being swimming, hovering over the solid earth surface, he was compelled now to descend from the earth's environment down upon such parts of the earth as were already more or less solidified.
With the Fall came disease and death, not as some plague bestowed upon humankind, but as a natural consequence of the freedom humankind acquired for its own visualizations. Everything allways turns out the way it's supposed to (EAT-O-TWIST) where the supposing happens inside a specific human being as a unique visualization chosen in freedom. The ability to have visualizations, desires, and passions that were not regulated by higher spiritual beings led humans to the inevitability of the possibility of disease.
[page 208] Because the human being exposed himself to the influences of the outer world through his own visualizations subject to error, because he lived under the impulsion of desire and passion that did not permit of regulation by higher spiritual influences, the possibility of disease appeared. A special effect of the Luciferic influence, however, was that man could now no longer feel his single earth life as a continuation of the body-free existence. He received now earth impressions that could be experienced through the inoculated astral element and that united themselves with the forces destroying the physical body. Man felt this as the dying out of his earth life, and through it death, caused by human nature itself, made its appearance. With this a significant mystery in human nature is indicated, namely, the connection of the human astral body with sickness and death.
But through a fortuitous circumstance, humans maintained a link to the Sun beings which ensured that between death and a new birth, the human Ego would feel itself as an independent spiritual being rather than an materialistically-bound earth-ego. This link came about because a part of the human etheric body was extended outside the boundary of the skin. This prevented the Ego from wresting complete control over the etheric or life body from the sun beings. Had this happened, humans would have undergone a death in which no time was spent with the exalted Sun beings. Instead, upon death, a human would have moved immediately into another physical body. Humans would have remained forever earth-bound-egos. What resulted instead is that humans have retained their independent Ego during the time between death and a rebirth, but have lost the ability to recall the events of that time.
[page 208, 209] Special relationships now appeared for the human life body. It was placed in a relationship to the physical and astral bodies that, in a certain sense, deprived it of the faculties the human being had acquired through the Luciferic influence. A part of this life body remained outside the physical body, so that it could not be controlled by the human ego, but only by higher beings. These higher beings were the same who, at the time of the sun separation, had forsaken the earth under the leadership of one of their exalted companions in order to take up another dwelling place. If the characterized part of the life body had remained united with the astral body, man would have put supersensible forces to his own use that formerly were his own. He would have extended the Luciferic influence also to these forces. As a result man would have thus gradually separated himself entirely from the sun beings, and his ego would have become completely an earth-ego. Consequently, after the death of the physical body-indeed even during its deterioration-this earth-ego would have been obliged to inhabit another physical body the body of a descendant without going through a union with higher spiritual beings in a body-free condition. Man would have become conscious of his ego, but only as an earth-ego. This was averted by the above-mentioned event, involving the life body, caused by the earth-moon beings. The actual individual ego was released from the mere earth-ego to such a degree that man felt himself only partially as his own ego during earth life; at the same time he felt that his own earth-ego was an extension of the earth-ego of his forebears throughout the generations. In earth life the soul felt the existence of a sort of group ego right back to the earliest ancestor and man felt himself as a member of the group. Only in the body-free state was the individual ego able to feel itself as an independent being. But this state of separateness was impaired because the ego was afflicted with the memory of the earth consciousness, the earth-ego. This darkened the vision of the spirit world, which began to cover itself with a veil between death and birth as was the case for physical vision on earth.
The phenomenon we know as night and day appeared on the Earth. During night, humans slept and the various higher spiritual beings worked on their physical and etheric bodies to restore them from any injuries or errors sustained due to the actions of the astral body during the day. At night the Ego and the astral body left the physical and etheric bodies and migrated out into the cosmos as they continue to do each night after we fall asleep today.
[page 209, 210] The physical expression of all the changes that occurred in the spirit world while human evolution went through the described conditions was the gradual regulation of the reciprocal relationships of sun, moon, and earth, and in a broader sense also of the other heavenly bodies. The alternation of day and night can be emphasized as being one consequence of these relationships. (The movements of the heavenly bodies are regulated by the beings inhabiting them. The movement of the earth through which day and night occur was caused by the reciprocal relationships of the various spirits standing above man. In like manner also the movement of the moon was caused, in order that after its separation from and the revolving around the earth the Spirits of Form could act in the right way, with the right rhythm, upon the physical human body.) During the day the human ego and astral body worked in the physical and life bodies. At night this activity ceased. The ego and astral body left the physical and life bodies. They entered during this period entirely into the realm of the Sons of Life (the Angels), of the Spirits of Fire (the Archangels), of the Spirits of Personality, and the Spirits of Form. Besides the Spirits of Form, the Spirits of Motion, the Spirits of Wisdom, and the Thrones included at that time the physical and life bodies in their sphere of action. It was thus possible that the injurious influences, which during the day were exercised upon the human being through the errors of the astral body, could be repaired.
With the possibility for error and the eventuality of death coming to humankind, the need arose for humans who had erred in previous lifetimes to correct or compensate for those errors in their next lifetime. This led to human beings reincarnating in new bodies as a means for balancing their debts from previous lifetimes. This balancing process is commonly called karma. Karma and reincarnation are concomitant and necessary processes: karma for balancing the debts of a previous lifetime and reincarnation for ensuring a chance to balance this lifetimes debts in a future lifetime. Along with the re-born humans, there were other humans who migrated to Earth from the outer planets and who arrived with no karmic debts to balance, but who helped to populate the rising number of human beings incarnated on Earth and to bring fresh spiritual insights from the spiritual world as befits a young or never-before-incarnated soul.
[page 210, 211] As the human beings now multiplied again on earth, there was no longer any reason why human souls should not have incarnated in their descendants. The influence of the earth-moon forces of that time permitted human bodies to develop, that were thoroughly fit to embody human souls. The souls who previously were removed to Mars, to Jupiter, and to other planets, were led to the earth. There was in consequence a soul present for every human descendant born within the cycle of generations. This continued through long periods, so that the soul migrations to the earth corresponded to the increase in the number of human beings. The souls who left the body at death retained in the body-free state the echo of the earthly individuality like a memory. This memory acted in such a way that when bodies corresponding to the souls were born on earth, they reincarnated in them. As time went on, there were among the human offspring human beings who had souls coming from the outside, who had for the first time since the earliest ages of the Earth appeared again upon it, and there were others having earthly-reincarnated souls. In the subsequent period of the Earth evolution, there were fewer and fewer of the young souls appearing for the first time and more and more of the reincarnated souls. Nevertheless, for long ages the human race consisted of the two kinds of human beings resulting from these facts. On earth, man felt more united by a common group-ego with his forebears. The experience of the individual ego was, however, all the stronger in the body-free state between death and a new birth. The souls who came from celestial space and entered human bodies were in a different position from those who already had one or more earth lives behind them. The former brought along with them for the physical earth life only the conditions to which they were subjected by the higher spiritual world and by their experiences made outside the earth region. The others had themselves in previous lives added new conditions. The destiny of the former souls was determined only by facts that lay outside the new earth relationships. The destiny of the reincarnated souls was also determined by what they themselves had done in previous lives under earthly conditions. With reincarnation there appeared at the same time individual human karma.
Humans beings at this point were unable to reproduce without help from higher spiritual beings, but they were able to foster the growth processes of animals and especially those of plants. The earliest processes of logical thinking arrived on the scene to supplement what was an almost perfect memory. The processes of logical thinking and memory we have seen in other places are a function of the etheric or life body of the human being.
[page 211, 212] Through the fact that the human life body was withdrawn from the influence of the astral body, in the manner indicated above, the conditions of reproduction also were not within the scope of human consciousness, but were subject to the dominion of the spiritual world. If a soul was to sink down to the sphere of the earth, the reproductive impulses of the human earth being appeared. To earthly consciousness the entire process was to a certain degree enveloped in a mysterious obscurity. But the consequences of this partial separation of the life body from the physical appeared also during earth life. The capabilities of this life body could be easily increased by means of spiritual influence. In the life of the soul this expressed itself through an especial perfection of memory. Independent, logical thinking was at this period only in its very beginnings. The capacity of memory was, on the other hand, almost limitless. Externally, it was evident that the human being had direct knowledge tinged with feeling of the active forces of every living thing. He was able to employ in his service the forces of life and reproduction of animal nature, and chiefly those of plant nature. He could extract, for example, the force that causes plant growth and employ it in much the same way that the forces of inanimate nature are used at the present time, for example, the way forces slumbering in coal are extracted and employed to set machines in motion.
We have already seen the onset of error and death in humankind, but now a new process appeared: the advent of fear. These feelings we know as fear were marshaled in under the aegis of the beings we have come to call Ahrimanic beings. They provide the one-two punch, together with the Luciferic beings, that keeps human beings reeling during the Earth stage that we are currently in the middle of as we read these words. These Ahrimanic beings began during this early stage when humankind existed upon the Earth. Together Lucifer and Ahriman are like the Scylla and Charybdis of Odysseus humankind must negotiate its way carefully along a narrow path between these two as any misstep creates the risk of falling precipitously into either error or fear.
Freedom arrived upon Earth as a boon provided by Lucifer and fear arrived as a bane provided by Ahriman. Like the TV sitcom duo of Lucy and Desi Arnaz, Luci and Ahri, with their gifts of freedom and fear, create the possibility for a comedy of errors that leads us all-too-human beings into tragedy with karmic consequences that may require lifetimes of compensation to balance. Only the assistance of the Lord of Karma Christ can help humans forestall errors and allay fears, but that would be getting slightly ahead of the story laid out for us at this point in human evolution. Here we note simply the onset of the tragi-comedic aspects of human existence.
[page 212, 213] Also the inner soul life of man was changed through the Luciferic influence in the most manifold way. Many examples of feelings and sensations due to it could be given. Only a few instances, however, will be described. Prior to the advent of the Luciferic influence, the human soul carried out all its activities in line with the intentions of higher spiritual beings. The plan of all that should be accomplished was determined from the beginning, and to the degree that human consciousness was developed it could foresee how, in the future, evolution would be compelled to proceed in accordance with the preconceived plan. This prophesying consciousness was lost when the veil of earthly perceptions was woven over the manifestation of higher spiritual beings and the real forces of the sun nature concealed themselves in these perceptions. The future now became uncertain. With this uncertainty, the possibility of the sense of fear implanted itself in the soul. Fear is the direct result of error. But we also see how under the Luciferic influence man became independent of certain forces to which he previously submitted himself without will. Now he could make decisions by himself. Freedom is the result of this influence, and fear and similar feelings are only the accompanying phenomena of the progress of man to freedom.
Seen spiritually, the way fear appears indicates that within the earth forces under the influence of which the human being had come through the Luciferic powers other powers were active that had followed an irregular course in evolution much earlier than the Luciferic powers. With the earth forces man absorbed the influence of these powers into his being. They gave the character of fear to feelings that would have manifested quite differently without the presence of these powers. These beings may be called "Ahrimanic." They belong to the category called, in the Goethean sense, "Mephistophelean."
Next appeared an exalted Being as ruler of the Sun and other higher spiritual being migrated to join the spiritual realm of the Sun. The other beings sorted themselves out among the other planets, especially Jupiter and Mars.
[page 213, 214] Although the Luciferic influence made itself felt at first only in the most advanced individuals, it soon spread out also to others. The descendants of these advanced human beings intermingled with the less advanced described above. By this means the Luciferic power injected itself also into the latter. But the ether body of the souls returning from the planets could not receive the same degree of protection enjoyed by the ether body of the descendants of those who had remained on earth. The protection of these latter life bodies came from an exalted Being in whose hands rested the leadership of the cosmos at the time the sun withdrew from the Earth. This Being appears in the realm here under consideration as ruler of the kingdom of the sun. With Him exalted spirits who through their cosmic evolution had attained the necessary maturity migrated to the sun abode. There were, however, other beings who had not, at the time of the sun separation, attained such heights. They were compelled to seek other abodes. It was through these very beings that Jupiter and the other planets broke loose from the common world substance that originally composed the physical Earth organism. Jupiter became the dwelling place of the beings who had not reached maturity enough to attain the heights of the sun. The most advanced of these became the leader of Jupiter. In just the same way that the leader of the sun development became the higher ego that was active in the life body of the descendants of the human beings who had remained on earth, this Jupiter leader became the higher ego that permeated, as a common consciousness, the human beings who had originated from an interbreeding of the offspring of those who had remained on the earth and those other human beings who, in the way described above, had appeared upon the Earth only at the time of the advent of the air element and who had then gone over to Jupiter as a dwelling place. These human beings are designated by spiritual science as "Jupiter men." They were human descendants who in that ancient time still had received human souls into their nature, but who at the beginning of Earth evolution were not mature enough to come in contact with the fire. They were souls standing at the stage midway between the realm of human and animal souls. There were also beings who under the leadership of one of their most exalted members had separated Mars from the common world substance as a suitable dwelling place. They exerted their influence upon a third kind of man, who had come into existence through interbreeding, the "Mars man."
In this next passage, Steiner uses what might seem to be a convoluted syntax when he refers to Christ. Clearly Christ is the Great I Am as the old hymn goes. So why should it be necessary for Steiner to say that the Sun Being who lived in the sun men was the Being in Whom the relationship that the Christ has to the cosmos manifests itself to the human beings of our time rather than simply saying it was the Christ? What we see in our time is the manifestation of this Sun Being as the Christ, which is dramatically different from the earlier time referred to by Steiner when the same Being actually lived in the sun men or Sun humans as a Higher Ego. Today Christ can live in us as the "Great I Am" or "Higher Ego", but it will happen only through a free volition or conscious choice, not a feature of our nature as it was for the "Sun humans" referred to above.
[page 215, 216] The human beings who, in their life body, perceived the presence of the lofty Sun Being Himself may be designated "sun men." The Being Who lived in them as "Higher Ego" naturally only in the whole race, not in the individual is the One to Whom later, when man acquired a conscious knowledge of Him, various names were given. He is the Being in Whom the relationship that the Christ has to the cosmos manifests itself to the human beings of our time. We can, in addition, distinguish "Saturn men." With them there appeared a being as higher ego who with his associates had been compelled to forsake the common world substance prior to the sun separation. In this species of human being not only the life body had remained partly untouched by the Luciferic influence, but also the physical body.
If a school is allowed to come under control of "bad kids" sooner or later the school will burn down. This happened during the next period of time on Earth and in the great fire storm that resulted on Earth the "bad kids", those that had lapsed into error and started the fire, were destroyed in a cataclysmic catastrophe. Those few, who withstood the Luciferic influence during what is call the Lemurian Age, survived the firestorm in a corner of the Earth in the middle of what we now call the Atlantic Ocean in a land we refer to as "Atlantis" and entered the Atlantean Age. ( Chart I-2 of Edward Reaugh Smith's Burning Bush shows the various ages leading up to the Atlantean Age.)
[page 216, 217] In the case of the inferior kinds of human beings, however, the life body was not sufficiently protected to enable it to withstand the Luciferic influence. These human beings could extend the unruly power of their ego's fire spark to such a degree that they were able to call forth in their environment powerful, destructive fire effects. The consequence was a tremendous terrestrial catastrophe. The fire storms caused a large part of the inhabited earth of that time to perish and with it the human beings who had lapsed into error. Only the smallest part who had remained partly untouched by error was able to escape to a district of the earth that had remained until then protected from corrupting human influence. Such a dwelling place, which was especially appropriate for the new mankind, appeared in the land that existed on the spot of the earth now covered by the Atlantic Ocean. It was to this place those human beings withdrew who were most untouched by error. Only scattered human groups inhabited other regions of the earth. The earth region existing at that time, situated between modern Europe, Africa, and America, is called "Atlantis" by spiritual science. (In the corresponding literature reference is made, in a certain way, to the phase of human evolution characterized above that precedes the Atlantean period. The name "Lemurian age" is given to the period of the earth that preceded the Atlantean age. On the other hand, the age in which the moon forces had not yet unfolded their chief activity is designated the "Hyperborean." Preceding this age there was still another that coincides with the very first period of the physical Earth evolution. In the biblical tradition, the period before the influence of the Luciferic beings was active is described as the age of Paradise, and the descent of the human being out of this region to the earth, and his subsequent entanglement in the world of the senses, as the expulsion from Paradise.)
As evolution proceeded, the portion of the etheric body that extended beyond the physical body played an important part in helping to maintain contact with spiritual beings up to the Spirits of Personality. One consequence of this was a tendency towards error, often called the Fall of Man.
[page 217, 218] Evolution on Atlantis is the time of the actual separation of mankind into the Saturn, Sun, Jupiter, and Mars men. Before that, there had been only the predisposition toward this separation. The division into waking and sleeping states had special consequences for the human being that appeared especially in Atlantean humanity. During the night, man's astral body and ego were in the realm of the beings standing above him right up to the realm of the Spirits of Personality. By means of that portion of the life body not united with the physical body, the human being was able to have a perception of the Sons of Life (the Angels), and the Spirits of Fire (the Archangels). For he was able to remain united during sleep with the part of the life body not permeated by the physical body. The perception of the Spirits of Personality remained indistinct because of the Luciferic influence. Beside the Angels and Archangels, other beings also became visible to man when in the state described above, beings who, having remained behind on the sun and moon, could not enter earth existence. They had to remain in the world of soul and spirit. Man, however, drew them by means of the Luciferic nature into the realm of his soul that was separated from the physical body. Thus he came in contact with beings who worked upon him in a corrupting way. They increased the urge toward error in his soul, especially the urge toward the misuse of the forces of growth and reproduction that were under his control through the separation of the physical and life body.
But along with the precocious gift of Lucifer came the possibility of advancement, which from one perspective may be called the Leap of Man rather than the Fall of Man. This became possible for those who were able to connect themselves deeply with the realm of the sensory apparatus that was unique to the human being. Doing so allowed them to acquire knowledge and led to their disdain for the desires of the astral body which was the part that was attached to the sensory world. They learned to use their senses without being addicted to using them. They were able to use the portion of the etheric body separated from the physical body to become united with the realm of the higher spiritual beings up to the Spirits of Form, the exusiai, who were in the same realm or hierarchy as the Christ Being. These were those whom we call initiates today. They could not see the Christ Being directly but only by reflection from the Moon. These were initiates of the order of "Sun men". It was from such initiates that the wise men the kings the Magi of the Christmas story received their understanding of the approach to Earth of the Christ Being.
[page 218, 219] It was possible, however, for individual men of the Atlantean period to entangle themselves to a small degree in the realm of the senses. Through them the Luciferic influence was transformed from an obstacle to human evolution into an instrument of higher advancement. Through this Luciferic influence they were in the position of unfolding the knowledge of earthly things earlier than would otherwise have been possible. In doing so, these human beings sought to remove erroneous ideas from their thought life, and through the phenomena of the world to fathom the original purposes of spirit beings. They kept themselves free from the impulses and desires of the astral body, which were only inclined toward the world of the senses. In this way they became ever freer from the errors of the astral body. This produced conditions in them by means of which they perceived only with that part of the ether body that was separated from the physical body in the manner described. In these conditions the physical body's power of perception was practically extinguished and the body itself was as though dead. These human beings were then completely united through the ether body with the realm of the Spirits of Form and were able through them to learn how they were being led and guided by the exalted Being Who held the leadership at the time of separation of sun and Earth. Later, through this exalted Being an understanding of the Christ unfolded itself in human beings. Such men were initiates. But since the individuality of man had, as already described above, entered the region of the moon spirits, these initiates also remained, as a rule, untouched directly by the Spirit of the Sun. He could be shown to them only by the moon spirits as though in a reflection. Thus they did not see the Being of the Sun directly, but saw only His splendor. They became the leaders of the other portion of mankind to whom they could communicate the mysteries they beheld. They trained disciples to whom they indicated the paths leading to the state resulting in initiation. The knowledge, previously revealed through Christ, could be attained by human beings only who belonged in the way described to the order of "sun men." They cultivated their mysterious wisdom and the functions leading to it in a special place on the earth, which will be called here the Christ or Sun oracle oraculum meaning the place where the purposes of spiritual beings are heard. What is said here about the Christ will only be understood if we keep in mind the fact that supersensible knowledge perceives in His appearance on earth an event that was foreseen for ages by wise men as taking place at some future time, wise men who were familiar, long before this event, with the meaning of Earth evolution. We would be in error were we to presuppose in the case of these initiates a connection with the Christ that was made possible only through this event. But they could comprehend prophetically and make their disciples understand that whoever is touched by the power of the Sun Being sees the Christ approaching the earth.
Much of this next period of development involved the development of two sets of oracles: the Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan set (who received knowledge in the form of their own thoughts) and the Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars set (who received mysteries as a revelation from above and expressed them as symbols). In between these two sets of oracles were the Christ initiates who were able to shape the mysteries and communicate them in the form of human concepts.
[page 219, 221] Other oracles came into being through the members of the Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter humanities; their initiates directed their vision only up to the beings who could reveal themselves in their ether bodies as the corresponding higher egos. There thus arose adherents of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars wisdom. Besides these methods of initiation, there were others for human beings who had acquired too much of the Luciferic nature to allow as large a portion of their ether body to be separated from the physical body as was the case with the sun men. Their astral body retained a greater part of the life body in the physical body, nor could they be brought, by means of the described state of initiation, to a prophetic revelation of the Christ. On account of their astral body, which was considerably influenced by the Luciferic principle, they were compelled to go through more complicated preparations, and then, in a less body-free state than the others, they were unable to behold the manifestation of the Christ Himself, but only that of other higher beings. There were certain spiritual beings who at the time of the sun separation had forsaken the Earth, but who had not yet attained a sufficiently high development to enable them to participate permanently in the sun evolution. After the separation of sun and Earth they withdrew a portion of the sun as a dwelling place. This we know as Venus. The leader of these spiritual beings became the higher ego of the above described initiates and their adherents. Something similar occurred in regard to the leading spirit of Mercury for another kind of human being. In this way the Venus and Mercury oracles had their origin. Certain human individuals who were affected most by the Luciferic influence were able to reach up only to a certain being who, with his associates, had been the earliest to be expelled from the sun development. This being has not a special planet in the cosmos, but lives in the environment of the earth itself, with which he has been again united since his return from the sun. The human beings to whom this being manifested himself as higher ego may be called members of the "Vulcan oracle." Their eyes were turned more toward earth phenomena than was the case with the other initiates. They laid the first foundation for what appeared later on among human beings as "science" and "art." The Mercury initiates, on the other hand, laid the basis for the knowledge of the more super-sensory things, and to a still higher degree, this was done by the Venus initiates. The Vulcan, Mercury, and Venus initiates distinguished themselves from the Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars initiates through the fact that the latter received their mysteries more as a revelation from above, in a more finished state, whereas the former received their knowledge revealed more in the form of their own thoughts, of their own ideas. In the middle stood the Christ initiates. They received, together with the direct revelation, the ability to clothe their mysteries in the form of human concepts. The Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars initiates had to express themselves by way of symbols; The Christ, Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan initiates were able to make their communications in the form of definite concepts.
Along with the ability to communicate in human concepts came the ability for speech as a carrier for that communication. Humans gradually lost their inwardly felt union with their ancestors and soon their memories only went back to a recent ancestor. Since the true process of reincarnation was only taught by initiates in their mystery schools, many felt themselves to be a reincarnation of their ancestor whose memory lived in them. This was an erroneous, but widely held view of reincarnation during the Atlantean age.
[page 221, 222] What was attained in this manner by the Atlantean humanity came about in an indirect way through the initiates. But the rest of humanity also gained special abilities through the Luciferic principle, because through the lofty cosmic beings certain faculties, which might otherwise have led to disaster, were transformed into a blessing. One such faculty is speech. It was bestowed upon man through his solidification within physical matter and through the separation of a part of his ether body from the physical body. During the time after the moon separation the human being felt himself at first united to his physical forebears through the group ego. This common consciousness, however, which united descendants with forefathers, was gradually lost in the course of generations. The later descendants had then an inner memory reaching back only to a not very distant ancestor, not any longer to the earlier forebears. Only in a state similar to sleep, in which the human beings came in touch with the spiritual world, did the picture of this or that ancestor emerge again in memory. Human beings, in certain instances, then felt themselves at one with this ancestor whom they believed had reappeared in them. This was an erroneous concept of reincarnation, which emerged chiefly in the last part of the Atlantean period. The true teaching about reincarnation could only be learned in the schools of the initiates. These latter perceived how, in the disembodied state, the human soul passes from one incarnation to another, and they alone could impart the truth about it to their disciples.
As a child in the early 1950s I avidly read comic books, and one of the more interesting super-heroes that attracted me was "Plastic Man". This was back when "plastic" still meant flexible and stretchable and had not devolved into referring to the stiff material that has come universally to replace wood and metal as construction material in inexpensive devices and appliances. He wore a red costume and was able to stretch his body, his arms and legs, to great distances to grab criminals, to vault to the top of buildings by stretching to the roof and pulling himself up. When I discovered that this stretching ability was a normal human ability during the Lemurian age which preceded the Atlantean age, I was amazed. Suddenly my intense youthful interest in Plastic Man seemed to foreshadow my later study of the evolution of humanity in my present life. Or some ancient and unconscious memory that was latent in me as a child was activated by the comic strip. Undoubtedly those who created the comic strip, who drew it, who published, and who read it were all drawn to it by a similar memory of pre-Atlantean times.
While the human body grew denser and less flexible during the Atlantean period, it still remained plastic or flexible, much more so than it is now. As you read the next passage, you will discover hints of things that yet ring true about human bodies today. We might call these things "soul-morphisms" ways in which the development of one's soul reflects itself in one's body. In a society in which obesity is rampant, it is easy to see how "moral corruption through passions, impulses, and instincts resulted in an enormous increase in the material substance of man." Who can read that passage without thinking of the corrupt politicians such Boss Tweed (of the Teapot Dome Scandal) who were the epitome of the fat, cigar-smoking, crooked deal-makers? We still have soul-morphisms today even though our bodies are much denser than during the Atlantean age we have rigid bones instead of the flexible ones back then.
[page 222, 223] The physical form of man was, in the primeval past that is under discussion here, still widely different from the present human shape. It was to a high degree still the expression of soul faculties. The human being consisted of a finer, softer substance than the one he acquired later. What today is solidified was in the limbs soft, supple, and easily molded. A human being who expressed more intensely his soul and spiritual nature had a delicate, active and expressive body structure. Another with less spiritual development had crude, immobile, less easily molded bodily forms. Advancement in soul qualities contracted the limbs; the figure remained small. Retardation in soul development and entanglement in the world of the senses expressed itself in gigantic size. While man was in the period of growth, the body, in accordance with what occurred in the soul, assumed forms of a certain kind that to the present-day human mind must appear fabulous, indeed, fantastic. Moral corruption through passions, impulses, and instincts resulted in an enormous increase in the material substance in man. The present-day human physical form has come into existence through contraction, condensation, and solidification of the Atlantean; whereas before the Atlantean age the human being was a faithful copy of his soul nature, the processes of the Atlantean evolution bore the causes in themselves that led to the post-Atlantean human being who in his physical shape is solid and little dependent on soul qualities. (The animal kingdom became denser in its forms at much earlier periods of the earth than the human being.) The laws that lie at present at the foundation of form-fashioning in the kingdoms of nature are not valid under any circumstances for the more distant past.
We saw earlier that the Lemurian age ended in a catastrophe of fire, and now we see the events leading up to the destruction of the next period, the Atlantean age, in a catastrophe of air and water. We also learn why certain processes and knowledge have been preserved over long periods of time in the mystery schools. The material in this book is called occult for the very reason that it has been purposely kept hidden or occulted from the masses of humankind, up until now. In his occult science Rudolf Steiner reveals to us what has been kept hidden for reasons that first became obvious during the waning days of the Atlantean age when the mysteries of the initiates were not occulted from those with astral bodies full of error. The consequences were catastrophic the destruction of the entire continent of Atlantis and most of its inhabitants.
Almost every major new process discovered by humankind has been introduced by shaping it into a tool for destruction. With the invention of alternating current by Nicola Tesla came the electric chair. With the invention of heavier-than-air craft by the Wright Brothers came aerial bombardment. With the discovery of nuclear fission came the atomic bombs, nuclear fusion, the hydrogen bomb. The greater the new process discovered, the greater the destruction for which it is first shaped into a tool. This is a consequence of the Luciferic infection of the astral body of humankind whose effect could be felt just as strongly by the Atlanteans as it is today.
That the "forces of growth and reproduction . . . stand in a mysterious connection with certain forces that work in air and water" and can lead to catastrophes is something that we can discern in the world today when hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons create major damage to regions of our world. In Jane Roberts' The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events I first encountered some twenty-five years ago the concept that the psyches of human beings along coastal areas act as steering currents to these massive storms.
[page 223, 224] Toward the middle of the Atlantean period of evolution a great evil gradually began to manifest itself within mankind. The mysteries of the initiates ought to have been carefully guarded from individuals who had not purified their astral bodies of error through preparation. When such human beings acquire a certain insight into mystery knowledge, into the laws by which the higher beings guide the forces of nature, they then place these laws at the service of their perverted needs and passions. The danger was all the greater, since human beings, as already described, came into the realm of lower spiritual beings who, unable to carry out the regular Earth evolution, acted contrary to it. These spiritual beings influenced human beings constantly by arousing in them interests that were, in truth, directed against the welfare of mankind. But human beings had still the ability to use the forces of growth and reproduction of animal and human nature for their own purposes. Not only ordinary human beings, but also a number of the initiates succumbed to the temptations of lower spiritual beings. They went so far as to use the described supersensible forces in a way that ran counter to the development of mankind, and for this activity they sought associates who were not initiated and who for lower ends seized upon the mysteries of the supersensible working of nature. The consequence was a great corruption of mankind. The evil spread further and further, and since the forces of growth and reproduction, when diverted from their natural functions and used independently, stand in a mysterious connection with certain forces that work in air and water, mighty, destructive nature forces were unfettered by human deeds. This led to the gradual destruction of the Atlantean region through terrestrial catastrophes of air and water.
In the next passage Steiner notes for us the emigration of the Atlantean community. In other places in books and lectures he tells us that these Atlantean migrants settled in the British isles, which would have been the first land they came to in their migration eastward. The settlers in places we know as Ireland, Scotland, and England today were the distant ancestors of the ancient Celtic people and Druids who have left behind a myriad of stone monuments whose meaning is mostly lost to us today. The extent of the migrations reached all the way to the eastern shore of the continent we call Asia today, and likely also into the American continents via the Aleutian land bridge which existed at the time.
[page 224, 225] The Atlantean humanity insofar as it did not perish in the storms was compelled to emigrate. At that time the earth received through these storms a new face. On the one side, Europe, Asia, and Africa received gradually the shapes they bear today. On the other side, America. To these lands went great migrations. For our present day the most important of these migrations were those that went eastward from Atlantis. What is now Europe, Asia, Africa, became gradually colonized by the descendants of the Atlanteans. Various folk established their abode in these continents. They stood at varying degrees of development, but also at varying degrees of depravity. In the midst of these migrating peoples marched the initiates, the guardians of the oracle mysteries. These guardians founded in various regions of the earth institutions in which the services of Jupiter, Venus, and other oracles were cultivated in a good, but also in an evil manner. The betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries exercised an especially adverse influence, because the attention of their adherents was chiefly directed toward earthly matters. Mankind, through this betrayal, was made dependent upon spiritual beings who, in consequence of their previous development, held a negative attitude toward everything that came from the spiritual world, which had evolved through the separation of the Earth from the sun. According to the capacity thus developed, they acted in the element that was formed in the human being through his having perceptions of the sense world, behind which the spirit is concealed. These beings acquired henceforth a great influence over many human inhabitants of the earth, and this influence made itself evident through the fact that the human being was more and more deprived of the feeling for the spirit.
The larger human shapes, the giants, if you will, died out during the Atlantean age and we have only mythic accounts of these super-sized human beings coming down to us. As inhabitants of the post-Atlantean age we have received physical body shapes that were firmed up by our Atlantean ancestors we inherited bodies shaped by soul forces which conformed to nature because those that didn't conform to nature naturally died out by the end of the Atlantean period. That our ancestor's bodies solidified we can say as a certainty because those whose bodies remained flexible died out quickly. By the end of the Atlantean age, our human bodily forms had become very close to those we know and possess today.
[page 225, 226] Since in these times the size, form and flexibility of the human physical body was still affected to a large degree by the qualities of the soul, the consequence of this betrayal of the mysteries came to light in changes in the human race in this respect also. Where the corruption of the human beings became especially evident through the placing of supersensible forces at the service of lower impulses, desires, and passions, grotesque human shapes were created, monstrous in size and structure. These were not able to continue in existence beyond the Atlantean period. They died out. The post-Atlantean humanity has fashioned itself physically after the model of the Atlantean ancestors in whom already such a solidifying of the bodily shape had taken place that this did not surrender to the influence of soul forces that had become contrary to nature. There was a certain period of time in the Atlantean evolution in which, through the laws holding sway in and around the earth, conditions prevailed for the human form under which it had to solidify itself. To be sure, the human racial forms that had solidified prior to this period were able to reproduce themselves for a long time; nevertheless, the souls incarnating in them gradually became so narrowly confined that such races had to die out. Many of these racial forms, however, continued in existence on into the post-Atlantean period; certain forms that had remained sufficiently supple continued to exist in a modified form for a long time. Human forms that had remained flexible beyond the characterized period now became chiefly the bodies for souls that experienced intensively the detrimental influence of the betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries as already indicated. They were destined to die out quickly.
In the next passage we are introduced to Ahriman who makes his debut on the stage of the world. Whom theologians refer to as the Devil or Satan turns out to be a confused amalgam of two spiritual beings, Lucifer and Ahriman. We have previously met Lucifer, the precocious Bearer of Light to humankind, and now we meet Ahriman. Notice carefully that Ahriman is a being who existed before the original Zarathustra of the ancient Persians gave that name to him. Ahriman led a group of spiritual beings way back in the middle of the Atlantean age. The name Ahriman is simply a convenient name to give to this spiritual being. Rather than trying to identify the Devil as Lucifer and Satan as Ahriman as some do, I find it easier to simply note these basic attributes of Luci and Ahri (Thanks to Tom Mellett):
Lucifer wishes to us to be moral automatons.
Ahriman wishes us to be amoral free humans.
Another way that works for me is to consider the MPG benefits of any job: Money, Power, and Glory. Ahriman controls the Money portion and some of the Power portion. Lucifer controls the Glory portion and some of the Power portion. Once you have these distinctions clearly in your mind, you will be easily able to perceive whether the being some theologian calls the Devil is Lucifer or Ahriman at work.
[page 226, 227] Thus, since the middle of the Atlantean period of evolution, beings had asserted themselves within the realm of human development whose activity affected mankind in such a way that it became acquainted with the physical sense world in a non-spiritual manner. In certain instances this went so far that instead of the true shape of this world manifesting itself, it appeared to the human being in phantoms, chimeras and illusions of all sorts. Not only was man exposed to the Luciferic influence, but also to the influence of the other beings about whom we have spoken above, and whose leader may be called Ahriman in accordance with the designation he received late on in the Persian cultural period. (Mephistopheles is the same being.) After death man came through this influence under powers that allowed him to appear also in that realm only as a being who is inclined toward earthly-sensory conditions. The free view into the processes of the spiritual world was by degrees taken away from him. He was obliged to feel himself in the power of Ahriman and to a certain degree had to be excluded from union with the spiritual world.
Next comes a subject that you, like me, may not be not intimately familiar with: oracles. We can garner from the next passage the importance of the etheric body, especially perfect etheric bodies which means those completely uninfected by Lucifer the type of etheric body that led humankind to call Mary, Christ Jesuss mother a virgin. This was because the etheric body she possessed was that of Eve before the Fall, before it was infected by Lucifers precocious gift. It is the etheric body of Eve pre-Fall, and Adam pre-Fall that was preserved in what was referred to as the Tree of Life in the Bible. The Sun oracle preserved the knowledge of how to create in humans the perfected etheric bodies possessed by the initiates of the other oracles.
[page 227] Of special significance was one oracle sanctuary that in the universal decline had preserved the ancient cultus in its purest form. It belonged to the Christ oracles, and on account of this it was able to preserve not only the Christ mystery itself, but also the mysteries of the other oracles. For through the manifestation of the most exalted Sun Spirit, the regents of Saturn, Jupiter, and other oracles, were also revealed. The sun oracle knew the secret of producing, for this or that individual, the kind of human ether bodies that were possessed by the highest initiates of Jupiter, Mercury, and other oracles. With the means at their disposal, which are not to be discussed any further here, counterparts of the most perfect ether bodies of the ancient initiates were preserved and later implanted into the individuals best fitted for the purpose. Through the Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan initiates, such processes could take place also for the astral bodies.
Remember the slight separation between the physical and etheric bodies that has been mentioned previously? Humans began to appear for whom this separation was nearly closed. Pictorially, this "separation" can best be visualized as the etheric body extending outside of the physical body. In these new humans their etheric body had shrunk so that it was almost entirely contained within the bounds of their physical body. Several effects accompanied this closure or merging of etheric and physical body. They were no longer conscious during sleep as those with the two separated bodies were, and as a consequence the spiritual world that had previously been an open book to them began to close and with it their ancient understandings of the spiritual world. The other salient change was the near perfect memory provided by the etheric body dissolved and in its place the process of human thought appeared. The brain became an actual organ of thought, the Ego was felt to be in the body for the first time, and self-consciousness appeared in humankind for the first time.
[page 227, 228] There came a time when the leader of the Christ initiates found himself isolated with some of his associates to whom he was able to communicate the mysteries of the world only to a very limited degree. For the associates were the kind of human beings upon whom nature had bestowed physical and etheric bodies with the least degree of separation between them. Such men were the best suited, in this epoch, for the further advancement of mankind. Gradually they had fewer and fewer experiences in the realm of sleep. The spiritual world had become more and more closed for them. But they were also lacking the understanding for all that had unveiled itself in ancient times when man was not in his physical but only in his ether body. The human beings in the immediate neighborhood of this leader of the Christ oracle were the most advanced in regard to the union of the physical body with that part of the ether body that previously had been separated from it. This union appeared by degrees in mankind in consequence of the transformation of Atlantis and the earth generally. The physical and ether bodies of human beings coincided more and more with one another. As a result, the previous unlimited faculty of memory was lost and human thought life began. The part of the ether body bound to the physical body transformed the physical brain into the actual organ of thought, and only from that time onward did the human being feel his ego in the physical body. Only then did self-consciousness awake.
From a small group of advanced self-conscious humans the leader of the Christ oracle chose seven, one for each of the seven planetary oracles, Jupiter, Saturn, etal. They settled in a location one suspects is called Tibet today in inner Asia and formed a group of great teachers that are called by various names in different religious traditions, but the name of the planet assigned to each oracle clearly specifies the role of each initiate. I wonder if the Dalai Lama might be a descendant of the original Christ initiate mentioned in the next passage.
[page 228, 230] At the outset, this was the case with a small portion of mankind only, chiefly with the immediate companions of the leader of the Christ oracle. The other groups of human beings who were scattered over Europe, Asia, and Africa, preserved in the most varied degrees the remnants of the ancient states of consciousness. They, therefore, experienced the supersensible world directly. The companions of the Christ initiate were human beings with highly developed intelligence, but of all human beings of that time their experiences in the realm of the supersensible were the least. With them, this Christ initiate migrated from west to east, toward a certain region in inner Asia. He wished to protect them from coming in contact with the people of less advanced states of consciousness. He educated these companions in accordance with the mysteries revealed to him, and chiefly worked in this way upon their descendants. Thus he trained a host of human beings who had received into their hearts the impulses that corresponded to the mysteries of the Christ initiation. From this host he chose the seven best in order that they might have ether and astral bodies corresponding to the counterparts of the ether bodies of the seven greatest Atlantean initiates. He thus trained initiates to be the successors of the Christ initiate, of the Saturn, of the Jupiter, and of the other oracle initiates. These seven initiates became the teachers and leaders of the people who in the post-Atlantean epoch had settled in the south of Asia, chiefly in ancient India. Since these great teachers were endowed with the counterparts of the ether bodies of their spiritual ancestors, what was contained in their astral bodies, that is to say, their own self-wrought knowledge and understanding, did not extend to what was revealed to them through their ether body. They had to silence their own knowledge and understanding when these revelations strove to manifest in them. Then out of them and by means of them the high beings spoke who had spoken also for their spiritual ancestors. Except during the periods when these high beings spoke through them, they were simple men gifted with the degree of understanding and sympathy that they themselves had acquired.
The ancient Indians lived more attached to the spiritual world than the sensory world. As a result they considered the super-sensory world to be the real world and the sensory world was considered to an illusion caused by our primitive sensory apparatus which cast a slight veil over the real world. Their name for the illusory world of sensory experience was maya. This is a useful word to know as no other word quite describes the difference between the real world of the spirit and the covering of that world by the illusory veil of our senses. If you would like to develop a feeling for maya, recall the last time you went to a stage play. Remember how you quickly forgot that you were only watching actors? Soon you were involved with the very real drama and completely ignoring the underlying reality of the staged presentation, weren't you? This illustrates the concept of maya as the ancient Indians understood it. The drama with its spiritual realities portrayed on the stage is the "real world" and the actors, scenery, stage, and scaffolding is but the maya which can only get in the way of perceiving the spiritual realities of the drama if we let them. A good stage manager never lets the maya of the staging interfere with the spiritual realities being enacted by the performers. The staging must always cooperate seamlessly with the performers so that the audience can commune directly with the process of the drama.
[page 230] In India there lived at that time a kind of human being which had preserved chiefly a living memory of the ancient soul state of the Atlanteans, a state which permitted experiences in the spiritual world. In a large number of these human beings there was also present a tremendous urge of the heart and mind to experience this supersensible world. The wise guidance of destiny the main body of this kind of men, representing the best sections of the Atlanteans, had reached South Asia. Besides this main body, other sections had settled there at various times. The Christ initiate already mentioned appointed his seven great disciples as teachers for this assemblage of human beings. They gave their wisdom and their laws to this people. For many of these ancient Indians little preparation was needed to arouse in them the scarcely extinct faculties that led to a perception of the supersensible world. For the longing for this world was a fundamental mood of the Indian soul. The Indian felt that in this supersensible world was the primeval home of mankind. From it he was removed into a world that is revealed only through the perceptions of the outer senses and grasped by the intellect bound to these perceptions. He felt the supersensible world as the true one and the sensory world as a deception of human perception, an illusion (Maya).
The seven great teachers exercised a magical effect on their disciples and saturated the Indian culture with a super-sensible wisdom that echoes down the ages to Indians of today in their religious and esthetic practices. The wandering fakirs who sleep on beds of nails show a contempt for the comforts of the world of maya. The ancient books of India, the Vedas, contain the remnants of the ancient wisdom inculcated into the Indian culture during the Atlantean and early post-Atlantean ages.
[page 230, 231] By all possible means the human being strove to gain insight into the true world. He was unable to develop any interest in the illusory sense world, or at least only insofar as it proved to be a veil over the supersensible world. It was a mighty power that the seven great teachers exercised upon such people. What could be revealed through this power penetrated deeply into the Indian souls. Since the possession of the transmitted life and astral bodies endowed these teachers with sublime powers, they were able to act magically upon their disciples. They did not actually teach. They produced their effects from person to person as though through magic powers. Thus a culture arose that was completely permeated by supersensible wisdom. What is contained in the books of wisdom of India in the Vedas is not the original form of the exalted wisdom, which in the most primeval ages was fostered by the great teachers; it is but a feeble echo of this wisdom.
During the passage of time from the Atlantean sun oracle to the Indian sun oracle (Christ initiate), the evolution in human conceptual capability made it possible for the Indian Christ initiate to be able to present only a reflection of the mystery in signs and symbols. The direct transfer of knowledge that lie in the Atlantean sun oracle's capability was gone. Even so the great Sun Spirit was a revealed presence by the seven great teachers.
[page 231, 232] Only supersensible retrospection can discover an unwritten primeval wisdom behind the written records. A particular characteristic of this primeval wisdom is the harmonious concordance of the wisdom of the various oracles of the Atlantean age. For each of these great teachers was able to unveil the wisdom of one of these oracles, and the different aspects of wisdom produced a perfect concordance because behind them stood the fundamental wisdom of the prophetic Christ initiation. The teacher, however, who was the spiritual successor of the Christ initiate did not present what this Christ initiate himself was able to reveal. The latter had remained in the background of evolution. At the outset, he could not transmit his high office to any member of the post-Atlantean civilization. The difference between the Christ initiate of the seven great Indian teachers and the Christ initiate of the Atlantean sun oracle was that the latter had been able to transform completely his perception of the Christ mystery into human concepts, whereas the Indian Christ initiate could only represent a reflection of this mystery in signs and symbols. This was so because his humanly acquired conceptual life did not extend to this mystery. But the result of the union of the seven teachers was a knowledge of the supersensible world, presented in a great panorama of wisdom, of which in the ancient Atlantean oracles only the various parts could be proclaimed. Now the great regencies of the cosmic world were revealed, and the one great Sun Spirit, the "Concealed One," was gently alluded to He Who was enthroned above those other regents who were revealed by the seven teachers.
The post-Atlantean epoch contains seven sub-epochs or "cultural epochs". These can be examined in greater detail because we are currently in about the middle of the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. The Sevens Table shows the 7 Post-Atlantean Cultural Epoch or Sub-races and gives approximate dates for each. The best way to visualize these seven sub-epochs is to visualize them on a seven-candle Menorah, with the first candle connected to the seventh, the second to the sixth, the third to the fifth, and the fourth standing alone. These connections reveal similarities between the cultural epochs that will be important. Our current epoch is the fifth PA cultural epoch and it is connected to the third one. Thus, we find certain aspects of our epoch (sometimes called the German epoch) that reiterate aspects of the Egypto-Chaldean epoch. One aspect that comes to mind is the way we mostly attempt to preserve our dead when we bury them, as the ancient Egyptians did. (Note that what our history books refer to as "ancient India" occurred during the Egypto-Chaldean epoch.)
[page 232] What is meant here by the "ancient Indians," is not what is usually understood by the use of that term. There are no external documents of that period of which we are speaking here. The people usually designated as Indian corresponds to an evolutionary stage of history that came into existence a long time after the period under discussion here. We are able to recognize a primal post-Atlantean epoch in which the characterized Indian culture was dominant. Then a second post-Atlantean epoch began in which the dominant culture, as spoken of in this book, was the ancient Persian; still later, the Egypto-Chaldean culture evolved; both of these have still to be described. During the unfolding of these second and third post-Atlantean cultural epochs, ancient India also experienced a second and a third cultural period. What is usually spoken of as ancient India originated in this third epoch. Therefore, what is presented here should not be confused with the ancient India of history.
Everyone has heard of the caste of the "Untouchables" which still exists in some parts of India today. It is thought horrible to treat people this way by Western cultures, but when one understands the premise that one comes into this lifetime by a conscious choice made for karmic balancing, it makes sense. This choice is made during the time between death and a new birth by the person incarnating. Rightly understood, it is something all of us have done prior to this lifetime. We, in effect, set the banquet table for what we will experience in our upcoming lifetime. But we live in a culture in the West where we have forgotten the spiritual truths of reincarnation and karma and have been taught we have only one life to live and that we should therefore make the best of it. It was for this reason that the knowledge of the truths of reincarnation and karma have been withheld from us for two thousand years. From the perspective of Western culture, the caste structure of India is an egregious insult to individuality. From the traditional Indian view, our perspective is that of a narrow-minded materialist who is deluded by maya one who would insult a caste's member's individuality by attempting to undo a personal choice made to live this lifetime in a particular caste.
[page 232, 234] Another aspect of this ancient Indian culture is what later led to a division of men into castes. The inhabitants of India were the descendants of Atlanteans who belonged to various human races: Saturn men, Jupiter men, and other planetary men. By means of supersensible teaching it was understood by these ancient Indians that it was not by accident that a soul was placed in this or that caste, but rather by self-determination. Such a comprehension of the supersensible teaching was facilitated especially through the fact that many human beings could arouse the above characterized inner remembrance of their ancestors, which, however, led easily to an erroneous idea of reincarnation. Just as in the Atlantean period the true idea of reincarnation could be acquired only by coming in contact with the initiates, in the most ancient India it could be obtained only by becoming in direct contact with the great teachers. The above-mentioned erroneous idea of reincarnation was spread most widely among the peoples who, as a result of the submergence of Atlantis, were scattered over Europe, Asia, and Africa, and because certain initiates, who during the Atlantean evolution had followed false paths, had also communicated this mystery to immature disciples, human beings mistook more and more the false doctrine for the true. In many instances these human beings retained a sort of dreamlike clairvoyance as an inheritance of the Atlantean period. Just as the Atlanteans entered the region of the spiritual world during sleep, so their descendants experienced this spiritual world in an abnormal intermediate state between waking and sleeping. Then there arose in them images of an ancient time to which their ancestors had belonged. They considered themselves reincarnations of human beings who had lived in such an age. Teachings about reincarnation that were in contradiction to the true ideas of the initiates spread over the whole earth.
After the ancient Indian cultural epoch came the ancient Persian cultural epoch. The tendency of the ancient Indians to direct their attention to the spiritual world was reversed by the Persians who found delight in the material world, built the first permanent structures, and gathered the wealth of the world about them. But the culture's knowledge of the spiritual world did not disappear, it simply went underground, it was occulted, if you will, and preserved by the great guardians of the oracles who were called the Kings or Magi. It will be the descendants of these ancient Persian guardians of the oracle who we will meet coming from the East, following a star, to welcome the return of their great teacher, Zarathustra, who will return in the body of Jesus to prepare the for coming of the great Sun Being about Whom Zarathustra taught their distant ancestors. He told them to look for the approach of the great Sun Being he called Ahura Mazdao to the Earth.
[page 234] In the regions of the Middle East a community of people had settled as a result of the long continued migrations that had spread from the west eastward since the beginning of the destruction of Atlantis. History knows the descendants of these people as the Persians and their related tribal branches. Supersensible knowledge, however, must go back much further than the historical periods of these people. At the outset we have to consider the earliest ancestors of the later Persians, from whom after the Indian the second great cultural period of the post-Atlantean evolution arose. The peoples of this second period had a different task from the Indian. In their longings and inclinations they did not turn merely toward the supersensible; they were eminently fitted for the physical-sensory world. They grew fond of the earth. They valued what the human being could conquer on the earth and what he could win through its forces. What they accomplished as warriors and also what they invented as a means of gaining the earth's treasures is related to this peculiarity of their nature. Their danger did not lie in the fact that because of their love of the supersensible they might turn completely away from the "illusion" of the physical-sensory world, but were more likely to lose their soul connection with the supersensible world.
These ancient Persians were able to shape the material world, but began to lose their connections with the spiritual world.
[page 234, 235] Also the oracle establishments that had been transplanted into this region from their homeland, ancient Atlantis, carried in their methods the general character of the Persians. By means of forces, which man had been able to acquire through his experiences in the supersensible regions and which he was still able to control in certain lower forms, the phenomena of nature were employed to serve personal human interests. This ancient people still possessed, at that time, a great power -with which it controlled certain nature forces that later were guardians of the oracles controlled inner powers that were connected with fire and other elements. They may be called Magi. What they had preserved for themselves from ancient times as heritage of supersensible knowledge and power was, to be sure, insignificant in comparison with what the human being had once been able to do in the far distant past. It took on, nevertheless, all sorts of forms, from the noble arts whose purpose was only the welfare of mankind, to the most abominable practices. In these people the Luciferic nature ruled in a special manner. It had brought them into connection with everything that led the human being away from the intentions of higher beings who, without the Luciferic influence, would have simply advanced human evolution. Those sections of this people who were still endowed with the remnants of ancient clairvoyance that is to say, with the remnants of the above described intermediate state between waking and sleeping - -felt themselves also much attracted to the lower beings of the spiritual world. To this people a special spiritual impetus had to be given that counteracted these characteristics. A leadership was given to this people from the same source from which the ancient Indian spiritual life had also sprung, that is, from the guardian of the mysteries of the sun oracle.
A leader appeared in the form of the original Zarathustra (sometimes called Zoroaster, the founder of the religion known as Zoroastrianism). It was he who directed the Persians to look to the Sun as being the vestments of a great Sun being who would one day descend to Earth. [Note: the Zarathustra that appears in the Encyclopedia Britannica, ca. 600 B. C., is a much later reincarnation of the original Zarathustra who lived sometime in the old Persian cultural epoch between 6,000 to 3,000 B. C., a pre-historical figure about whom we have only occult or esoteric sources such as Steiner provides.]
[page 235, 236] The leader of the ancient Persian spiritual culture who was chosen by the guardian of the sun oracle for the people now under consideration may be called by the same name that history knows as Zarathustra or Zoroaster. But it must be emphasized that the personality designated here belongs to a much earlier age than the historical bearer of this name. It is not a question here of outer historical research but of spiritual science, and whoever must think of a later age in connection with the bearer of the name Zarathustra, may reconcile this fact with spiritual science by realizing that the historical character represents a successor to the first great Zarathustra whose name he assumed and in the spirit of whose teaching he worked. Zarathustra gave his people an impulse by pointing out that the physical world of the senses is not merely something devoid of spirit that confronts man when he comes under the exclusive influence of the Luciferic being. Man owes to this being his personal independence and his sense of freedom, but this Luciferic being should work within him in harmony with the opposing spiritual being. It was important for the prehistoric Persian to be aware of the presence of this spiritual being. Because of the Persian's inclination toward the physical sense world he was threatened by a complete amalgamation with the Luciferic beings. Zarathustra, however, had been initiated by the guardian of the sun oracle and through this initiation the revelations of the exalted sun beings could be imparted to him.
He also knew that the human soul was to become the battlefield between the forces of Light and Darkness, and that the Sun Being would have to descend to Earth. But first a human being, a human body had to be prepared with an astral body that existed in the pre-Fall condition (prior to infection by Lucifer). Several millennium before Jesus appeared as this perfected human being who was the result of 42 generations of successive perfection going back to King David, Zarathustra taught the ancient Persians about the birth of a man who was to receive the Sun Being's spirit into his perfected body and redeem the human race from an otherwise irreversible fall into materialism and death. This redemption would come in the exact middle of the seven cultural epochs, the Greco-Roman epoch, and provide the pivot point at which the fall of humankind into materialism will be reversed. That this date should have become the starting point of the Western calendar is most appropriate.
[page 237, 238] In exceptional states of consciousness, into which his training had brought him, he was able to perceive the leader of the sun beings who had taken under his protection the human ether body in the previously described manner. He knew that this Being directs human evolution, but also that He could descend to the earth from cosmic space only at a certain point in time. In order that this might come about it was necessary that He should affect the astral body of a human being to the same degree that He affected the human ether body since the beginning of the interference of the Luciferic being. For that purpose a human being had to appear on earth who had re-transformed the astral body to a condition to which this body, without Lucifer, would have attained in the middle of the Atlantean evolution. Had Lucifer not appeared, the human being would have attained this same condition much earlier, but without personal independence and without the possibility of freedom. Now, however, despite these characteristics the human being was to regain this same high condition. Zarathustra was able to foresee by means of his clairvoyance that in the future of mankind's evolution it would be possible for a definite human personality to possess such a required astral body. He knew also that it would be impossible to find the spiritual sun powers on earth prior to this future age, but that it was possible for supersensible perception to behold them in the region of the spiritual sun. He was able to behold these powers when he directed his clairvoyant glance toward the sun, and he divulged to his people the nature of these powers that, for the time being, were to be found only in the spiritual world and that later were to descend to the earth. This was the proclamation of the sublime Sun or Light Spirit the Sun Aura, Ahura Mazdao, Ormuzd. This Spirit of Light reveals Himself to Zarathustra and his followers as the Spirit who turns His countenance from the spiritual world toward mankind and who prepares the future within mankind. It is the Spirit who points to the Christ before His advent on earth, whom Zarathustra proclaims as the Spirit of Light. On the other hand, Zarathustra represents in Ahriman Angra Mainju a power whose influence upon the life of the human soul causes the latter's deterioration when it surrenders itself onesidedly to it. This power is none other than the one previously characterized who, since the betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries, had gained especial domination over the earth. Besides the evangel concerning the Spirit of Light, Zarathustra also proclaimed the doctrine of the spiritual beings who become manifest to the purified sense of the seer as the companions of the Spirit of Light and to whom a contrast was formed by the tempters who appeared to the unpurified remnants of clairvoyance that was retained from the Atlantean period. Zarathustra strove to make clear to the prehistoric Persian how the human soul, as far as it was engaged in the activities and strivings of the physical-sensory world, was the field of battle between the power of the Light God and His adversary and how the human being must conduct himself so as not to be led into the abyss by this adversary but whose influence might be turned to good by the power of the Light God.
This brings us to the third epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, as it is called. We can now see the alteration from soul to sensory worlds that takes place in each epoch. The Indians were soul-directed and considered the sensory world to be mere illusion, maya. The Persians loved the sensory world and strove to conquer it and place it into their service.
[page 238, 239] A third post-Atlantean cultural period began with the peoples who, by participation in the migrations from Atlantis, had finally assembled in the Middle East and North Africa. Among the Chaldeans, Babylonians, Assyrians on the one hand and the Egyptians on the other, this culture was developed. Among these peoples the understanding for the physical world of the senses was evolved in a way different from that of the prehistoric Persians. They had developed, much more than others, the spiritual capacity that is the foundation for the ability to think, for intellectual endowment, which had come into existence since the last Atlantean epochs. It was the task of the post-Atlantean humanity to unfold in itself the soul faculties that could be gained through the awakened powers of thought and feeling that are not directly stimulated by the spiritual world, but come into existence by man's observation of the sense world, by becoming familiar with it, transforming it. The conquest of this physical-sensory world by means of these human faculties must be considered the mission of post-Atlantean humanity. From stage to stage this conquest advances. Although in ancient India the human being was directed toward this world by means of his soul state, he still considered this world an illusion and his spirit was turned toward the supersensible world. In contrast to this, there arose in the prehistorical Persian people the desire to conquer the physical world of the senses, but this was attempted, to a large measure, with the powers of soul that had remained as heritage of a time when man could still reach up directly into the supersensible world.
By the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, the ability to see into or reach into the spiritual world was mostly lost and this led to the strange funeral practices of the Egyptians. Unable to have knowledge of their spiritual origin and destination, they sought by materialistic means of mummification and burial with artifacts of their life to ensure life after death of the material body. Having lost contact with the spiritual world directly, they sought to reach an understanding of the spiritual world by comprehending the material world that the spiritual world stands behind. Here we see the Mercury oracle come to the fore in a man we have come to know as Hermes who had been trained in the Zarathustra mystery or oracular schools. He pointed to a way of becoming united with the great Sun Being (called Osiris by Egyptians at that time) in the time between death and a new birth.
[page 239, 241] In the peoples of the third cultural epoch the soul had lost to a large degree its supersensible faculties. It had to investigate the revelations of the spirit in the sensory surroundings and by means of discovery and invention of the cultural means, springing from this world, develop itself. Human sciences arose by means of research within the physical sense world into the spiritual laws standing behind it; human technique and artistic activities and the tools and instruments used to advance them were developed by recognizing the forces of this world and the need of employing them. For the human being of ancient Chaldea and Babylonia the sense world was no longer an illusion, but with its nature kingdoms, its mountains and seas, its air and water, it was a revelation of the spiritual deeds of powers standing behind these phenomena, whose laws he endeavored to discover. To the Egyptian the earth was a field of activity given to him in a condition which he had to transform through his own intellectual capacity, so that it bore the imprint of human power. Oracle establishments of Atlantis, originating chiefly from the Mercury oracle, had been transplanted into Egypt. There were, however, others also, for example, the Venus oracle. A new cultural germ was planted into what could thus be fostered in the Egyptian people through these oracle establishments. It originated with a great leader who had undergone his training within the Persian Zarathustra mysteries. He was the reincarnation of a personality who had been a disciple of the great Zarathustra himself. If we wish to adhere to a historical name, he may be called "Hermes." By absorbing the Zarathustra mysteries he could find the right path on which to guide the Egyptian people. This folk, in earth life between birth and death, directed its mind to the physical sense world in such a way that although it could behold the spiritual world behind the physical only to a limited degree, it recognized in the physical world the laws of the spiritual world. Thus the Egyptian could not be taught that the spiritual world was a world with which he could become familiar on earth. But he could be shown how the human being would live in a body-free condition after death with the world of the spirits who during the earth period appear through their imprint in the realm of the physical-sensory. Hermes taught that to the degree the human being employs his forces on earth in order to act within it according to the aims of spiritual powers, it is possible for him to be united after death with these powers. Especially those who have been most zealously active in this direction during life between birth and death will become united with the exalted Sun Being with Osiris. On the Chaldean-Babylonian side of this cultural stream the directing of the human mind to the physical-sensory was more marked than on the Egyptian side. The laws of this world were investigated and from the sensory counterparts perception was directed to the spiritual archetypes. The people, nevertheless, remained stuck fast in the world of the senses in many respects. Instead of the spirit of the star, the star itself, and instead of other spiritual beings, their earthly counterparts were pushed into the foreground. Only the leaders acquired really deep knowledge of the laws of the supersensible world and their interaction with the sense world. Here a contrast between the knowledge of the initiates and the erroneous beliefs of the people came into evidence more strongly than anywhere else.
This brings us to the fourth cultural epoch, the midpoint of the seven epochs, which Steiner calls the Greco-Roman or Greco-Latin epoch. In the Greek temples we find the dwelling places for the spiritual world and for the guardians of the Jupiter (Zeus) oracle. In addition a quantum leap in thinking occurred as the wisdom of initiates began to appear from the mouths and pens of poets, thinkers, artists, and as a consequence, philosophy was born.
[page 241, 243] Quite different conditions prevailed in Southern Europe and Western Asia where the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch flourished. We may call this the Greco-Latin cultural epoch. In these countries the descendants of human beings of the most varied regions of the ancient world had gathered. There were oracle establishments that followed the example of the various Atlantean oracles. There were men who possessed, as a natural faculty, the heritage of ancient clairvoyance, and there were some who were able to attain to it with comparatively little training. In special places the traditions of the ancient initiates were not only preserved, but there arose worthy successors who trained pupils capable of raising themselves to exalted stages of spiritual perception. Simultaneously, these people bore the impulse in themselves to create a realm within the sense world that expressed in perfect form the spiritual within the physical. Beside much else, Greek art is a consequence of this impulse. One need only penetrate into the Greek temple with spiritual vision to recognize that in such a marvel of art the physical material is transformed by the human being in such a way that every detail is an expression of the spiritual. The Greek temple is the "dwelling place of the spirit." In its forms is to be seen what otherwise only the spiritual vision of supersensible perception can recognize. A Zeus or Jupiter temple is shaped in such a way that for the physical eye it represents a worthy abode for what the guardian of the Zeus or Jupiter initiation perceived with the spiritual eye. Thus it is with all Greek art. In mysterious ways the wisdom of the initiates poured into poets, artists, and thinkers. In the cosmogonies of the ancient Greek philosophers we find again the mysteries of the initiates in the form of concepts and ideas. The influence of spiritual life and the mysteries of the Asiatic and African centers of initiation flowed into these peoples and their leaders. The great Indian teachers, the companions of Zarathustra, and the adherents of Hermes had trained their pupils. These or their successors now founded initiation centers in which the ancient knowledge was revived in a new form. These are the mysteries of antiquity. Here the pupils were prepared to reach states of consciousness through which they were able to attain a perception of the spirit world. From these initiation centers wisdom flowed to those who fostered spiritual impulses in Asia Minor, in Greece, and Italy. (In the Greek world the important initiation centers of the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries arose. In the Pythagorean school of wisdom the aftereffects of the great doctrines and methods of the wisdom of primeval ages appeared. In his wide journeying Pythagoras had been initiated into the secrets of the most varied mysteries.)
In this next section, as we get closer to the end of the Earth epoch, which means approaching the beginning of the twentieth century when Steiner was writing this book, Steiner gives a tour through the cultural epochs in respect to their understanding of and dealing with the time between death and a new birth. We find that the ancient people of India were safe from Ahriman because they saw the world between life and death as an illusion, as maya, and thus Ahriman was not able to penetrate their souls during their life on Earth. The ancient Persians were not so safe, however, because they valued the experiences of the sensory world and their life between birth and death this left them as ready prey for Ahriman's snares. Zarathustra was able to forestall the Persians being lost to Ahriman by his pointing to the God of Light that exists behind the sensory world.
Anyone can see that our present world is full of egotists which in light of the last sentence of the next passage must mean that many humans have died previously in the clutches of Ahriman who are reincarnated and living in our world today.
[page 243, 244] The life of man between birth and death in the post-Atlantean age had, however, its influence also upon the body-free state after death. The more the human being turned his interest toward the physical-sensory world, the greater was the possibility of Ahriman penetrating into the soul during earth life and of his retaining power beyond death. Among the peoples of ancient India this danger was still insignificant, because they had, during life, felt the physical world of the senses to he an illusion. As a result, they were able to elude the power of Ahriman. The danger of the prehistoric Persian people was much greater, because in the life between birth and death they had turned their interest toward the physical world of the senses. They would have fallen prey to Ahriman to a high degree, had Zarathustra not through his teaching about the God of Light drawn attention in an impressive manner to the fact that behind the physical-sensory world there exists the world of the Spirits of Light. In proportion to the absorption into the soul of this visualized world by the people of the Persian culture did they escape from the clutches of Ahriman during earth life and likewise during the life after death, when they prepared for a new earth life. During earth life the power of Ahriman leads to the consideration of physical-sensory existence as the only one, thus barring all outlook into the spiritual world. In the spiritual world this power leads the human being to complete isolation, to concentration of all interests only upon himself. Human beings who at death are in the power of Ahriman are reborn as egotists.
But all is not lost, Steiner tells us below. We are making progress, but it is a progress that is determined by the individual victories that each human makes over the Ahrimanic forces in life. No one is required to study the Ahrimanic forces, but those who study spiritual science will be able to further the cause of human evolution by their own victories over these forces.
[page 244] At present we are able in spiritual science to describe life between death and a new birth as it is when the Ahrimanic influence has been overcome to a certain degree. In this way it has been described by the writer of this book in other writings and in the first chapters of this book, and thus it must be described in order to make plausible what the human being can experience in this state of existence when he has gained the true spiritual perception of what really exists. Whether the individual experiences it to a greater or lesser degree depends on his victory over the Ahrimanic influence. Man approaches more and more what is possible for him to be in the spiritual world. How this degree of attainment can be impaired by other influences must here be held clearly in mind in considering the path of human evolution.
Things got much tougher between death and a new birth for the Egyptians and later the Greco-Romans. Their perception during life was unable to perceive the spiritual world and after death it remained cloudy. When this dimming reached its peak during the Greco-Roman epoch, the people of time felt themselves doomed to a shadowy existence in the time between death and a new birth, and so came the saying that it was better to be a beggar on Earth than a King among the shades.
Lucifer's influence on humankind resulted in the appearance of superhuman forms or the gods of the Greeks to appear. Ahriman came along to conceal the part of the spiritual world that would else have appeared behind the sensory world. In order for correction, it was necessary for a human being to be born who would not have the Luciferic infection or the Ahrimanic blockage of a view of the spiritual world behind the sensory world. The requirements for such a human being were known about and spoken and written about by those who were to become known later as the prophets of Christ.
[page 244, 247] It was the task of Hermes to see that the Egyptians prepared themselves during earth life for companionship with the Spirit of Light. Since, however, during that time human interests between birth and death were already shaped in such a way that it was possible only to a slight degree to penetrate the veil of the physical-sensory, the spiritual perception of the soul remained also clouded after death. The perception of the world of light remained dim. The veiling over of the spiritual world after death reached a climax for the souls who entered the body-free state from an incarnation in the Greco-Latin culture. During earth life they had brought the culture of the sensory-physical existence to full flower, and they had thus doomed themselves to a shadow existence after death. The Greek, therefore, felt that his life after death was only a shadow-like existence; and it was not mere empty talk but the feeling for truth when the hero of that age, turning toward the sense world, says, "Rather a beggar on earth than a king in the realm of the shades." This was still more evident among those Asiatic peoples who also in their reverence and adoration had only directed their gaze toward the sensory counterparts instead of toward the spiritual archetypes. During the time of the Greco-Latin cultural period a large part of mankind was in the condition here described. We can see how the mission of man in the post-Atlantean epoch, which consisted of his mastery of the physical sense world, had to lead of necessity to an estrangement from the spiritual world. Thus what is great on the one hand is of necessity connected with what is decadent on the other. In the mysteries, the connection of the human being with the spiritual world was fostered. The initiates of these mysteries were able, in special states of the soul, to receive the revelations of this world. They were more or less the successors of the Atlantean guardians of the oracles. What was concealed through the impulses of Lucifer and Ahriman was unveiled to them. Lucifer concealed from the human being that part of the spiritual world that, without his cooperation, had poured into his astral body right up to the middle of the Atlantean epoch. If the ether body had not been partially separated from the physical, man would have been able to experience this region of the spirit world as an inner soul revelation. Because of the Luciferic impulse he could only experience it in special states of the soul. Then a spiritual world appeared to him in the vesture of the astral. The corresponding beings revealed themselves in shapes that bore only the higher members of human nature, and in these members they carried the astrally visible symbols of their special spiritual powers. Superhuman forms manifested themselves in this way. After the encroachment of Ahriman another kind of initiation was added to this one. Ahriman has concealed all that part of the spiritual world that would have appeared behind physical sense-perception, if his encroachment had not occurred after the middle of the Atlantean epoch. The initiates owed the revelation of this part of the spiritual world to the fact that they practiced in their souls all those faculties that the human being had acquired since that time to a degree far greater than the one required in order to gain the impressions of sensory-physical existence. Through it the spiritual powers lying behind the forces of nature were revealed to them. They were able to speak of the spiritual beings behind nature. The creative powers of the forces active in nature below the human being revealed themselves to them. What had continued to be active from the Saturn, Sun and the ancient Moon evolutions and had formed the human physical, ether, and astral bodies, as well as the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms, formed the content of one type of mysteries. These mysteries were under Ahriman's influence. What had led to the development of sentient, intellectual, and consciousness soul was revealed in a second type of mystery. What, however, was only possible to be prophesied by the mysteries was that in the course of time a human being would appear with an astral body in which, despite Lucifer, the light world of the Sun Spirit would become conscious through the ether body without special soul states. And the physical body of this human being must be of such a nature that that part of the spiritual world would be manifest to him that Ahriman is able to conceal up to the time of physical death. Physical death cannot change anything for this human being during life; that is to say, physical death cannot have any power over him. In such a human being the ego manifests in such a way that the physical life contains at the same time the whole spiritual life. Such a being is the bearer of the Spirit of Light, to Whom the initiate lifts himself in a twofold way, either by being led to the spirit of the super-human or to the being of the powers of nature in special states of the soul. Since the initiates of the mysteries predicted that such a human being would appear in the course of time, they were the prophets of Christ.
Steiner reveals to us that the first prophet was Moses, to whom Jahweh, the spiritual being who assisted human consciousness from the Moon, revealed Himself as the Great I Am or the "highest form of Ego." In addition Moses perceived Him to be manifested in the physical phenomena of thunder and lightning.
[page 247, 248] As special prophet in this sense, a personality arose in a people that through natural heritage bore within itself the characteristics of the peoples of the Middle East and, through education, the teachings of the Egyptians; these people were the Israelites. The prophet was Moses. So many influences of initiation had entered the soul of Moses that in special states of consciousness the spiritual being who had assumed, in the normal course of Earth evolution, the role of molding human consciousness from the moon, manifested himself to him. In thunder and lightning Moses recognized not only the physical phenomena, but the manifestations of the spirit just described. At the same time, however, the other kind of mysteries had affected his soul to such a degree that he perceived in astral visions how the super-human spirit becomes human through the ego. Thus the Being Who had to come revealed Himself to Moses from two directions as the highest form of the Ego.
With the arrival of Christ on Earth during the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the Great Sun Being began His mission as teacher of humankind. When He shed His blood into the Earth from the crucifix on Golgotha, an act that Steiner calls variously the Deed on Golgotha or the Mystery of Golgotha, suddenly what had previously been occulted from humankind was laid out in full sight the mysteries of the initiates in the mystery schools had been performed on the stage of the world for all to see. What previously could be achieved only by initiation could thenceforth be accomplished in consciousness by anyone in the privacy of their own hearts when they sought the help of Christ Jesus.
At the same time, a supernal light filled the realm of the "shades" and brought those who had died in the despair wrought by Ahriman into the light of the spiritual world once more.
[page 248, 249] With Christ there appeared in human form what the high Sun Being had prepared as the exalted paragon of earthly man. With this appearance all mystery wisdom had in a certain regard to assume a new form. Previously this wisdom existed exclusively in order to enable the human being to bring himself to a soul state that allowed him to behold the kingdom of the Sun Spirit outside of earthly evolution. Now mystery wisdom was allotted the task of making the human being capable of recognizing the Christ Who had become man, and from this center of all wisdom to understand the natural and spiritual world.
At the moment in the life of Christ Jesus, when His astral body contained everything that the Luciferic impulse can conceal, He assumed His mission as teacher of mankind. From this moment onward the aptitude was implanted in human earth evolution for receiving the wisdom through which the physical earthly goal can by degrees be attained. At the moment when the event of Golgotha was accomplished, the other aptitude was injected into mankind by which it is possible to turn the influence of Ahriman to good. Henceforth the human being is able to carry with him out of life through the portals of death what releases him from isolation in the spiritual world. The event of Palestine is not only the center of the physical evolution of mankind, but it is also the center of the other worlds to which the human being belongs. When the "Mystery of Golgotha" was accomplished, when "Death on the Cross" was suffered, the Christ appeared in the world in which souls tarry after death, and in that region He set bounds to the power of Ahriman. From this moment the realm that was named by the Greeks the "kingdom of the shades" was illuminated by that spiritual lightning flash that showed its inhabitants that henceforth light would again appear in it. What was attained through the Mystery of Golgotha for the physical world threw its light into the spiritual world.
The Mystery of Golgotha was a seed that can only develop in the warm, fertile soil of human mental capacities. What was supposed to lead to a unity led to a diversity, but in Christ it is possible for anyone to find a way from diversity into unity again. To become an initiate for any human being is as simple and mysterious as taking the name of Christ for oneself. By the act that we call a "christening" or using the pre-Christian term, a baptism, we become a Christ initiate, a member of the Sun oracle, and we find a unity of spirit with all humankind floating above the waves of human diversity.
[page 249, 251] Thus the post-Atlantean human evolution was, up to this event, an ascent for the physical world of the senses, but it was at the same time a descent for the spiritual. Everything that flowed into the world of the senses poured forth from what had already existed in the spiritual world from primeval ages. Since the Christ event, human beings who elevate themselves to the Christ mystery are able to carry with them into the spiritual world what they have acquired in the sense world. It flows back again from the spiritual world into the earthly-sensory world by human beings bringing back with them into reincarnation what the Christ impulse has become for them in the world of spirit between death and rebirth.
What the Christ event bestowed upon mankind's evolution acted within it like a seed. The seed can ripen only gradually. Only the very smallest part of the new wisdom's profundity has penetrated physical existence up to the present. This existence stands just at the beginning of Christian evolution. During the succeeding centuries that have elapsed since that event, Christian evolution has been able to unveil only as much of its inner nature as human beings, peoples, were capable of receiving, were capable of absorbing with their mental capacities. The first form into which this knowledge could be poured may be described as an all-encompassing ideal of life. As such it opposed what in the post-Atlantean humanity had fashioned itself as modes of life. We have already described the conditions that prevailed in the evolution of mankind since the repopulation of the earth in the Lemurian age. The human beings, as to their soul nature, may thus be traced back to various beings who, returning from other worlds, incarnated in the bodily descendants of the ancient Lemurians. The various human races are a result of this fact, and, in consequence of their karma, the most varied life-interests appeared in the reincarnated souls. As long as the aftereffects of all this prevailed, the ideal of a "common humanity" could not exist. Mankind proceeded from a unity, but Earth evolution up to the present has led to differentiation. In the Christ-concept an ideal is given that counteracts all differentiation, for in the human being Who bears the name of Christ live also the forces of the exalted Sun Being in Whom every human ego finds its origin. The Israelites felt themselves still as a folk, the human being as a member of this folk. At the outset the fact that in the Christ Jesus lives the ideal man Who is not touched by the conditions of separation was only comprehended in thought, and Christianity became the ideal of an all-encompassing brotherhood. Disregarding all separate interests and separate relationships, the feeling arose that the inmost ego of every human being has the same origin. (Alongside all earthly forefathers the common father of all human beings appears. "I and the Father are One.")
This brings us finally to the fifth cultural epoch, our current epoch, which is sometimes called the Euro-German epoch. It began around 1453 A.D. and will continue until about 3573 A.D. Anyone who has read or had read to them the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm has been exposed to the preserved spiritual insights of the people who give the name to the current epoch.
[page 251, 252] In Europe in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries AD. a cultural age was prepared that began in the fifteenth century and still continues today. It was gradually to replace the fourth, Greco-Latin, period. It is the fifth post-Atlantean culture period. The peoples, which after various migrations and most manifold destinies had made themselves pillars of this age, were descendants of those Atlanteans who had had the least contact with what had occurred in the meantime in the four preceding cultural epochs. They had not penetrated into the regions in which the cultures in question took root, but they had in their way continued the Atlantean cultures. There were among them many people who had preserved to a high degree the heritage of the ancient dreamlike clairvoyance, the intermediate state between waking and sleeping already described. Such individuals were acquainted with the spiritual world through their own experience and were able to communicate what takes place in that world to their fellow-men. A treasure house of narrative about spiritual beings and spiritual events was built up. The treasures of folk fairy tales and myths arose originally from such spiritual experiences. For the dreamlike clairvoyance of many people lasted right on into times not far removed from our present day. There were other human individuals who had lost their clairvoyance but who acquired the faculties of perception in the sensory-physical world through feelings and sensations that corresponded to these clairvoyant experiences. Here, also, the Atlantean oracles had their successors. There were mysteries everywhere. In these mysteries, however, the kinds of secrets of initiation were predominantly developed that led to the revelation of the region of the spirit world that Ahriman keeps concealed. It is the spiritual powers behind the forces of nature that were revealed in these mysteries. In the mythologies of the European nations are contained the remnants of what the initiates of these mysteries were able to communicate to human beings. These mythologies, however, contained also the other concealed wisdom, although in less complete form than it was contained in the Southern and Eastern mysteries. Superhuman beings were also known in Europe. Yet they appeared in a state of constant strife with the companions of Lucifer. The God of Light was proclaimed, but in such a form that it was impossible to say whether He would overcome Lucifer. But as a compensation for this, the future Christ form shone also into these mysteries. It was proclaimed that His kingdom would replace the kingdom of the other God of Light. (All myths about the Twilight of the Gods the Gotterdammerung and similar events have their origin in this knowledge of the European mysteries.) Such influences caused a cleavage in the soul of the human beings of the fifth cultural epoch that still continues on into the present and shows itself in the most manifold phenomena of life. The soul did not preserve from ancient times the urge toward the spirit so strongly that it would have been able to retain the connection between the spirit and sense worlds. It retained it merely in the development of its feelings and sensations, but not, however, as a direct perception of the supersensible world.
Here we are at the entrance of the third millennium and we are of two minds or two hearts about how to proceed. Shall we turn our intellect to the sensory world and ignore the spiritual which doesn't seem to penetrate the material world into our sensory apparatus? Or shall we trust our feelings which the spiritual world is able to penetrate, but which feelings seem devoid of reason, logic, and the rational justification our intellects are trained by our culture to require? This is the dilemma we all face in the world of today, and how to proceed must ever be an individual decision.
[page 253, 254] On the other hand, the attention of the human being was directed more and more toward the world of the senses and its control. The powers of the intellect that awoke in the last part of the Atlantean epoch, all the forces in the human being of which the physical brain is the instrument were developed for the sense world and for its knowledge and control. Two worlds, so to speak, developed in the human breast. One is turned toward sensory-physical existence, the other is receptive to the revelation of the spiritual in order to penetrate it through feeling and sensation, but without perceiving it. The tendencies toward this cleavage of the soul were already present when the teaching of Christ streamed into the regions of Europe. This evangel of the spirit was received into human hearts, penetrated sensation and feeling, but could not find the connection with what the intellect, directed toward the senses, explored in the physical-sensory existence. What we know today as the contrast of outer science and spiritual knowledge is but a consequence of this fact. The Christian mysticism of Eckhardt, Tauler, and others, is a result of the permeation of feeling and sensation with Christianity. The science of the sense world and its results in life are the consequences of the other side of the soul's capacities. We owe the progress in the field of outer material culture entirely to this separation of capacities. Because the human faculties that have the brain as their instrument turned onesidedly to physical life, they were able to attain to the increase in power that made possible modern science and technology. This material culture could originate only among the nations of Europe, for they are the descendants of Atlantean ancestors who developed the tendency for the physical sense world into faculties only when this tendency had attained a certain maturity. Previously these descendants let it slumber, and they were nourished by the heritage of Atlantean clairvoyance and the communications of their initiates. While outwardly spiritual culture had yielded only to these influences, the sense for the material domination of the world gradually matured.
The answer to the question as to how to unite these two worlds in our human breast is at your fingertips, dear Reader. It was Rudolf Steiner's goal to assist you in uniting those two worlds by writing this book which you have studying alongside me while reading it. Through its massive and comprehensive look at the evolution of the cosmos and humanity, it has become possible to understand how the spiritual world shows itself within our experiences of the sensory world. We are entering in this year of 2004 A. D. into the second trimester of the fifth epoch, and are sowing the seeds today that will sprout and grow to maturity in the coming sixth epoch.
[page 254] At present, however, the dawn of the sixth post-Atlantean cultural period already proclaims itself. For what is to arise in human evolution at a certain time begins to ripen in the preceding age. What is already able to show its beginnings at present is the discovery of the link that unites the two impulses in the human breast: material culture and life in the world of the spirit. For this purpose it is necessary that the results of spiritual perception are comprehended, and also that the manifestations of the spirit are recognized in the observations and experiences of the sense world. The sixth cultural epoch will bring the harmony between these two impulses to complete development. With this, the considerations of this book have advanced to a point where they can pass over from a view of the past to one of the future. It is, however, better if this view is preceded by a consideration of the knowledge of the higher worlds and of initiation. Then we shall have an opportunity to present briefly this view of the future, as far as this is possible within the framework of this book.
The word must go out from these pages that thought and feeling, logic and emotion, rationality and passion are to be united in humankind from now on. No longer can we dispassionately chop up the physical world to fit into our textbooks and ignore the spiritual world which resides in the depths of our hearts. Like a chariot driver who requires two horses to maintain a straight course, we require these two steeds to drive our course straight. Lacking one or the other we will travel in circles and end up in a rut of our own making. Let us earnestly endeavor to study the revealed un-occulted wisdom of Rudolf Steiner and keep the reins steady on both our dark steed of sensory-based knowledge and our white steed of super-sensibly felt perceptions as we drive a straight and true course through the cosmos that lies stretched out before us.
This is the end of the "An Outline of Occult Science" Chapter 4 Earth Stage Details Section of the Review. Click Here to continue Reading Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8.
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