Occult Science - An Outline
Chapter IV: Man and the Evolution of the World (Part 6)
At the close of the Moon evolution that has been described in outline in the foregoing pages, all the forces and Begins connected with it pass into a more spiritual form of existence, that is on an entirely different level both from the form of existence during the Moon period and also from that during the Earth evolution which follows. A being with faculties sufficiently highly developed to be able to perceive all the details of Moon and Earth evolutions, will not necessarily be able to see what takes place in the interval between the two. For him, the Beings and forces would, at the close of the Moon period, vanish as it were into the void, and then after a lapse of time emerge again from the dim twilight of the cosmic womb. Only a being with far higher faculties could trace the spiritual events that are enacted in the intervening time.
When the interval is over, the Beings who took part in the evolutionary processes on Saturn, Sun and Moon reappear, endowed with new faculties. By their former deeds, the Beings who stand above man have attained the power to bring his evolution so far forward that in the Earth epoch which follows on the Moon he will be able to develop a new mode of consciousness, that stands at a stage higher than the picture-consciousness he had in the Moon epoch. But man must first be prepared to receive this new gift. During the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions he has incorporated into his being the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body. But these members received only those faculties and forces which enabled them to live for a picture-consciousness. The organs, and also the whole form and figure which would enable them to perceive a world of external objects are lacking. Just as a new plant will unfold no more than is contained, as potentiality, in the seed that comes from the old one, so too, at the beginning of the new stage in evolution, the three members of man's nature emerge with forms and organs such as allow of the development only of a picture- consciousness. For the unfolding of a higher stage in consciousness they will have first to be prepared.
The preparation takes place in three stages. During the first, the physical body is lifted to a height of development such as enables it to undergo the necessary change into a form and figure which can provide the basis for objective consciousness. This preliminary stage of Earth evolution may be described as a repetition of the Saturn period of a higher level. For in this period, as in the Saturn time, higher Beings are working upon the physical body alone. When the evolution of this physical body is far enough advanced, all the Beings have to pass once more into a higher form of existence, before the life-body can advance in its turn. The physical body has, as it were, to be re-cast, in order to be able to receive, when it unfolds again, the more highly evolved life-body. After this interval devoted to a higher form of existence, there follows a kind of recapitulation of Sun evolution on a higher level, for the further development of the life-body. And then — after a further interval — the like is done, in a recapitulation of Moon evolution, for the astral body.
Let our attention now be turned to the events of evolution after the close of the third of these repetitions. All the Beings and forces have become spiritualized once more, rising during the process of spiritualization into far higher worlds. The lowest of the worlds where something of them is still to be perceived is the very world where man now sojourns between death and new birth — the several regions, namely, of Spiritland. Thereafter the Beings gradually descend once more into lower worlds. Before the physical evolution of the Earth begins, they have come down so far that their lowest manifestations can be beheld in the astral or soul-world.
All that exists of man during this period is still in astral form. For a right understanding of this stage in his development it is important to realize that although man has in him physical body, life-body and astral body, the physical body is not yet present in a physical form. What makes this physical body physical at this stage is not physical form but the fact that while possessing astral form it bears within it physical laws. It is an entity with physical laws and principles in a form that is of the nature of soul — and the like holds good of the life-body.
To the eye of the spirit the Earth at this stage in its evolution appears at first as a world-entity which is all soul and spirit — that is to say, in which even the physical and living forces show a soul-like form. In this world-entity is potentially contained all that is destined subsequently to metamorphose into the creatures of the physical Earth. It radiates light; but the light is not yet such as physical eyes could have perceived — even if they had existed then. It shines only for the opened eyes of the seer, shines for him in the light that is of the soul.
Within this soul-entity there now takes place what may be described as a condensation, with the result that after a time in the very midst of the soul-entity a form of fire makes its appearance, even such a fiery form as Saturn was in its densest state. This form is woven-through with the influences of the various Beings who are partaking in the evolution. Like a surging forth and a diving down into the fiery sphere of the Earth — such is the interplay we can observe between the Beings and the heavenly body. We are not therefore to think of this fiery sphere of the Earth as being of the same substance throughout. Rather it is like an organism that is permeated with soul and spirit. As to those beings who are destined to become on Earth human beings in their present form, they can take very little share in this diving down into the fire-body. They are still in a condition that obliges them to remain almost entirely in the uncondensed surrounding sphere, where they are within the womb of higher spiritual Beings. At this stage they touch the fire-Earth with a single point only of their soul-form, with the result that the warmth condenses a portion of their astral form. Thereby Earth life is kindled in them. For the most part, their being still belongs to worlds of soul and spirit; only through this contact with the earthly fire does warmth of life begin to play around them. If therefore we would make us a picture — at once sensible and supersensible — of man at this beginning of the physical Earth, we must conceive a soul-form of egg-like shape, contained in the encircling sphere of Earth, and surrounded at its lower surface in the way an acorn is by a cup; only, the substance of this “cup” consists entirely of warmth or fire. Now as a consequence of this envelopment by warmth, not only is life kindled in the human being, but at the same time a change takes place in his astral body. Into it is implanted the first beginning of that which afterwards becomes the sentient soul. We may say therefore that, at this stage, man consists of sentient soul, astral body, life-body, and of a physical body that is woven of fire. In the astral body are surging up and down the spiritual Beings who partake in his existence. Through the sentient soul man feels himself bound to the Earth. He has in this time a predominating picture-consciousness where the spiritual Beings in whose womb he lies reveal themselves; and only like a point within this consciousness is the sensation man has of the body that belongs to him. It is as though he were looking down from the spiritual world upon an earthly possession, of which he feels: “That is thine.”
Stage by stage the condensation of the Earth continues, and the above-described differentiation in man grows gradually more distinct. Then comes a moment in evolution when the Earth is so far condensed that only a part of it remains fiery, while another part has assumed a form of substance that may be described as “gas” or “air.” With man too a change is brought about. Henceforth not only is he touched by the warmth of Earth, but air-substance too begins to be imparted to his fire-body. And as the warmth kindled the life in him, so does the air as it plays around him evoke within him what can be described as — spiritual — sound. His life-body rings forth with sound. Simultaneously, a portion of his astral body becomes separated out as the first germinal beginning of the intellectual soul that emerges later.
To envisage what is going on at this time in the soul of man, we must remember that the higher Beings are continuously surging up and down in the air-and-fire body of the Earth. In the fire-Earth it is, to begin with, the Spirits of Personality that are of importance for man. And while he is being called to life by the Earth-warmth, his sentient soul says to itself: “These are the Spirits of Personality.” In the air too, higher Beings are in like manner making themselves known. They are the ones we have already named, following Christian esoteric usage, the Archangels; and it is their influence that man feels as inward sound when the air is wafted round him. Then does his intellectual soul say to itself: “These are the Archangels.” For what man perceives at this stage through his connection with the Earth does not yet consist of so many physical objects. He lives in the sensations of warmth that rise up to him, and in sounds; and within these streams of warmth and surging waves of sound he feels the presence of the Spirits of Personality and the Archangels. He cannot yet perceive these Beings directly, only through the veils, as it were, of warmth and sound. While the perceptions of warmth and sound are penetrating into his soul, pictures of the higher Beings in whose sheltering care he feels himself to be, are continually rising and falling within him.
And now evolution continues, its progress finding expression once again in a further condensation. Watery substance is incorporated into the Earth-body, which consists now of three members: the fiery, the airy and the watery. But before this, an important event takes place. Out of the fire-air Earth an independent heavenly body splits off, which will in its further course become the present Sun. Hitherto Earth and Sun have been a single body. After the severance of the Sun , Earth still contains within it, to begin with, all that is in and on our present Moon. The separation of the Sun takes place because higher Beings — for their own evolution and for that which they have yet to do for the Earth — can no longer endure the matter which is now condensed as far as water. Out of the whole Earth-mass they separate the substances which alone are suited to their use, and take their departure to make themselves a new dwelling-place in the Sun. Henceforth they work on to the Earth from without, from the Sun. Man, on the other hand, needs for his further evolution a scene of action where matter will condense still more.
Hand in hand with the incorporation of watery substance into the Earth-body, once again a change is wrought in man himself. Henceforth not only does the fire pour into him, and the air play around him, but watery substance too is incorporated into his physical body. Simultaneously his etheric part undergoes a change; he now begins to perceive it as a delicate body-of-light. Formerly, man felt streams of warmth rise upward to him from the Earth, while tones made him conscious of air being wafted towards him; now, his body is penetrated also by the watery element, whose inpouring and outpouring he beholds as waxing and waning light. Moreover, in his soul too a change has taken place. To the first beginning of sentient and then of intellectual soul, that of the spiritual soul has been added. In the element of water work the Angels; they are the real kindlers of light. For man it is as though they were appearing to him in light.
Certain higher Beings who were formerly in the Earth-body itself now act upon it from the Sun. In consequence of this, all influences that are at work on the Earth are changed. Man, fettered to the Earth, would no longer have been able to feel within him the influences of the Sun Beings, were his soul turned perpetually towards the Earth from which his physical body is derived. Henceforth he is brought into alternating states of consciousness. At certain times the Sun Beings tear his soul away from the physical body; so that he is now alternately in the lap of the Sun Beings in a pure life of soul and then again in a condition where, united with the body, he receives the influences of the Earth. When he is in the physical body, the streams of warmth flow up towards him, the airy masses resound around him, the waters our in and out of him. When he is outside the body, the pictures of the higher Beings, in whose womb he is, go surging through his soul.
Earth at this stage of evolution lives through two alternating times. At one time it can play around the human souls with its substances and enwrap them with bodies; at another, the human souls have withdrawn from it and only the bodies are left. Earth with its human beings is then in a state of sleep. It is by no means out of keeping with the facts to say that in those pristine ages the Earth underwent a day-time and a night-time. (In terms of physical space this can be expressed as follows. Through the mutual influence of the Beings of Sun and Earth, the Earth comes into movement in relation to the Sun, and in this way the alternation of the above-described periods of night and day is brought about. It is day when the surface of the Earth where man is evolving is turned towards the Sun; when it is turned away it is night — that is, the time during which man's life is entirely a life of soul. But we must not imagine that the movement of the Earth around the Sun in that primeval age was like the movement it describes today. Conditions were altogether different. Nevertheless, it is good already at this point to begin to sense that the movements of the heavenly bodies into such relative movements and positions as enable the spiritual conditions to work themselves out in the physical.)
Turning out gaze upon it during its nocturnal time, the body of the Earth would look to us like a corpse. For it is largely composed of the disintegrating bodies of human beings whose souls are in another form of existence. The watery and aeriform organic structures of which the human bodies consist disintegrate in the night and are dissolved in the remaining mass of the Earth. That part alone of the human body which was formed from the very beginning of Earth evolution by the interaction of fire with the human soul, and which then in course of time grew ever denser and denser — that part alone remains, but quite inconspicuous, like a seed. It will easily be seen that we must not imagine the “periods of day and night” here described as bearing very much resemblance to what these terms denote for the present Earth. When at the beginning of the day-time the Earth again comes under the immediate influence of the Sun, the human souls press forward into the region of physical life. Touching the seeds, they cause these to sprout and grow into an outer form which looks like an image of the human being such as he is in his soul-nature. Something not unlike a tender act of fertilization takes place here between man's soul and the seed-like body. Then do the souls thus incarnated begin once more to draw to themselves the air and water-masses and incorporate them into their bodies. The differentiated body expels and inhales the air — a first beginning of the later breathing process. The water too is absorbed and expelled; nutriment in a primeval form begins. These processes, however, are not yet perceived as outward happenings. Only in the case of the above-described “fertilization” do we find the soul engaged in a kind of external perception. As it touches the seed which the Earth is holding out towards it, the soul is dimly aware of awakening to physical existence. What it then perceives may be conveyed approximately in the words: “That is my form.” This feeling — we might also describe it as a dawning sensation of I — remains with the soul throughout the time of its union with the physical body. The absorption of the air, on the other hand, is still experienced in an entirely spiritual way. It appears in the form of sound-pictures surging and dying away, which “form” the seed that is undergoing differentiation. Surrounded on all hands by surging waves of sound, the soul feels how it is forming and shaping its own body according to the forces of these sound-tones. At this stage in evolution, human forms and figures begin to take shape, the like of which cannot be observed by present-day consciousness in any outer world. They evolve like plant and flower-forms of the most delicate texture; being inwardly mobile they give rather the appearance of waving, fluttering flowers. During his time on Earth, man lives through a blissful feeling of being fashioned into such forms as these. The absorption of the watery parts of the Earth is felt in the soul as an access of force, as an inner strengthening. Outwardly it appears in the physical entity of man as growth. As the direct working of the Sun declines, the human soul loses the power to control these processes. Little by little, they are cast aside. Only those parts remain, which bring about the maturing of what we described as the seed. Man himself deserts his body and returns into the spiritual form of existence. (Not all parts of the Earth are used up in the construction of the human bodies. We must not imagine that the Earth in its nocturnal time consists entirely of disintegrating corpses and seeds which await their re-awakening. These are embedded in other forms, fashioned out of the substance of Earth, the nature of which will be revealed later.)
And now the condensation-process goes still further. To the watery element is added the solid — we may call it the element of “earth.” Man too begins during his Earth time to incorporate the earth-element into his body. And then it immediately becomes evident that the forces which his soul brings with it from the body-free condition no longer have the same power as heretofore. Formerly the soul fashioned its body from the fiery, airy and watery elements, according to the tones that rang out from them and the pictures of light that they set playing all around. Now that the form is solidified, the soul can no longer do this. Other powers enter into the forming process. That which remains behind when the soul departs from the body is no longer merely like a seed, to be kindled to life by the returning soul. Henceforth it actually contains within itself the quickening power. The soul at its departure leaves not merely its image behind on Earth but, implanted in the image, a portion also of this quickening power. At its reappearance upon Earth, it is no longer able ton its own to awaken the image to life. The calling-to-life must take place within the image itself. Henceforth the spiritual Beings who work on to the Earth from the Sun maintain the quickening force in the human body even when man himself is not upon the Earth. Now therefore the reincarnating soul is aware not only of the sounds and pictures-of-light that surge around, wherein it feels the higher Beings who are immediately above it; in receiving the earth-element the soul experiences the influence of those still higher Beings who have established their scene of action on the Sun.
Formerly, man felt himself belonging to the Beings of soul and spirit with whom he was united when free of the body. His I was still sheltered within their womb. From now on, the I confronted him during physical incarnation, along with all the other things that were around him. Independent images of man's soul and spirit existed henceforth on Earth. Compared to the present human body they were fine and delicate in substance. For only in a very rarefied state did “earth” enter into their composition — rather as when the man of today receives into his organ of smell the finely distributed substances of some outer object. The human bodies were like wraiths, like shadows. Distributed as they were over the whole Earth, they came under different kinds of Earthly influence at different parts of the Earth's surface. While the bodily images, being in accordance with the soul of man that quickened them, were heretofore essentially alike over the whole Earth, diversity began now to appear among the human forms. Thus was the way prepared for what afterwards showed itself in variety of race.
Now that the bodily man had grown more independent, the former intimate union between the Earthly human being and the world of soul and spirit was to some extent dissolved. Henceforth, when the soul left the body, the latter experienced something like a continuation of life.
Had evolution gone on in this way, the Earth would needs have hardened under the influence of its solid element. Supersensible cognition, looking back upon these conditions, sees the human bodies, when their souls depart from them, growing more and more solid. After a time, human souls returning to Earth would no longer have found any suitable material with which to unite. It would all have been used up in filling the Earth with the lignified relics of their incarnations.
At this juncture an event took place which gave to the whole of evolution a new turn. Everything that could conduce to a permanent hardening in the solid substance of the Earth was eliminated. This was the time when our present Moon left the Earth. The influences that contributed to permanence of form and had hitherto worked directly from within the Earth, worked henceforth indirectly in a weakened manner from the Moon. The higher Beings upon whom this “forming of form” depends, had resolved to let their influences come no longer from within the Earth but from without As a result, there now appeared in the human bodily organisms a diversity which may rightly be regarded as the beginning of the separation into male and female. The delicately constituted human forms that previously inhabited the Earth had brought forth the new human form, their descendant, by the interaction within them of two forces — the seed-force and the life-giving, quickening force. These descendants now underwent a change. In one group of them worked more of the seed-force of the soul and spirit; in the other, more of the quickening seed-force. This was due to the fact that with the departure of the Moon from the Earth, the earth-element had toned down its power. The working of the two forces on upon the other now became more gentle, more tender than it had been when it took place within a single living body. Consequently the descendant organism too was more tender, more delicate. Entering upon its life on Earth in this tender condition, it only gradually assimilated the more solid parts. Thus, or the human soul returning to Earth, the possibility of union with the body was restored. The soul no longer called the body to life from without, for now the quickening process took place on Earth; but it united with the body and made it grow — although a certain limit was set to the body's growth. Owing to the separation of the Moon the human body became plastic for a while; but the longer it continued to grow on Earth, the more did the hardening forces gain the upper hand, until at length the soul could partake but feebly in its organization. Thereupon the body fell into decay, while the soul ascended to other — spiritual — modes of lie.
Stage by stage, while this configuration of the Earth is proceeding, the forces man has been acquiring during Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, begin gradually to partake in his further development. First, the astral body — still containing the life-body and the physical body dissolved within it — is kindled by the Earthly fire. Then it separates into a finer, specifically astral part — the sentient soul — and a coarser, etheric part which will from now on be touched also by the earth-element. The etheric of life-body, hitherto latent, makes its appearance. And while in the astral man the intellectual and the spiritual soul are developing, the coarser parts, receptive to sound and light, are separated out in the etheric body.
Finally, in the moment when the etheric body condenses sill more, so as to become — from a “light” body — a fire body, or body-of-warmth, the stage in evolution is reached when the solid earth-element begins to be incorporated in the human being. Having condensed to fire, the etheric body can now unite — by virtue of the forces of the physical body that have been implanted in it — with the substances into the body, which has in the meantime grown more solid. And this is where the higher Beings come in who dwell on the Sun. They breathe into man's body the air. Whereas by virtue of his past, man has within him the power to permeate himself with the Earth's fire, higher Beings have to guide the breath of air into his body. Before the hardening took place, the life-body of man, as the receiver of sound, guided the stream of air and permeated the physical body with life. Now man's physical body begins to receive a life that comes from outside. The consequence is that this life grows independent of the soul part of man. The soul of man, when withdrawing from Earth, leaves behind not a mere seed of his form, but a complete living image of himself. The Spirits of Form remain united with the image; they carry over to the descendants, when the soul has left the body, the life which they have bestowed. In this way what we may call “heredity” develops. And when the soul of man appears again on Earth, he feels himself within a body whose life has been transmitted from the ancestors. To such a body he feels especially attracted. Something like a memory evolves of the progenitor with whom the soul feels at one. Through the sequence of the descendants this memory continues like a common consciousness. The I flows downward through the generations.
At this stage in his evolution man felt himself an independent being during his time on Earth. He felt the inner fire of his life-body united with the outer fire of the Earth. The warmth, as it flowed through him, he could feel as his own I. Here in these streams of warmth, woven through and through with life, we have the first beginnings of the circulation of the blood. But in the air that streamed into him man did not altogether feel his own being. For in the air the forces of higher Beings were at work. Nevertheless, part of the forces and influences within the air that poured through him still remained his own, namely, that portion which had already become his own through the etheric forces he had formerly developed. Man had, therefore, a portion of the airy currents under his command. Inasmuch as this was so, not alone higher Beings but he himself was working at his formation and configuration. He shaped the airy parts within him in accordance with the picture in his astral body. While air was streaming into his body from without, to become there the foundation of his breathing life, a portion of the air was differentiated off within him, into an organism inherent in his own nature. This became the basis of the later nervous system. Thus through warmth and air did man at this time have his connection with the surrounding world of the Earth.
On the other hand he was not sensible at all of the assimilation of the solid earth-element. Though this element also played its part at his incarnation, he could not perceive its introduction directly but only in a dimly conscious picture form, as a manifestation of Beings far above him — the entry into his body of the fluid element of Earth. Now that his earthly form has become denser, these pictures have undergone a change in his consciousness. The solid element being now mingled with the fluid, the introduction of that too must needs to be felt as proceeding from the higher Beings, working from without. Man can no longer have the power in his own soul to guide this assimilation, for the body which it has now to serve has been built up from outside. He would indeed spoil its form if he attempted to do so. Thus what he assimilates from without appears to him as guided by edicts proceeding from the higher Beings who work at the formation of his body. Man feels himself as an Ego; he has within him, as a part of his astral body, his intellectual soul, through which he experiences inwardly in pictures what is going on outside him, and with which he permeates his delicate nervous system. He feels himself as a descendant of forefathers, by virtue of the lie streaming through the generations. He breathes — and feels his breathing as brought about by the higher Beings who have been described as the Spirits of Form. To these he also feels beholden for all that through their impulses is brought to him from without, as nourishment. Darkest of all to him is his origin as an individual. The nearest he comes to any feeling of it is a sense of having an influence from the Spirits of Form, as they manifest in the forces of the Earth. Man is guided and directed in his relation to the outer world. This comes to expression in that he is conscious of activities of soul and spirit that are going on behind his physical world. He does not perceive the spiritual Beings in their own form, but he experiences sounds and colors and the like within his soul and knows that in this world of ideal images live the deeds of spiritual Beings. What they communicate sounds forth to him; what they reveal appears to him in pictures of light. The most inward feeling Earth man has of himself comes to him through the conceptions he gains of the element of fire or warmth. He can already distinguish his own inner warmth from the streams of warmth in his environment. In the latter the Spirits of Personality reveal themselves. But man has no more than a dim consciousness of what is there behind thee outer streams of warmth. He feels in them the influence of the Spirits of form. When mighty activities of warmth manifest in his environment, then the feeling arises in the soul: “Now, glowing through the Earth's horizon are the spiritual Beings, a spark of whose fire has detached itself to become the warmth that fills my inner being.”
In the workings of light, man does not yet distinguish in quite the same way an outer and an inner. When pictures of light emerged in his environment, they did not always give rise to the same feeling in the soul of man. There were times when he felt them as coming from outside. This was when he had descended from the body-free condition and entered into incarnation — periods, that is, of his growth on Earth. But as the time drew near, when the seed of the new Earth man was taking shape, the pictures faded and man retained no more than something like inner memories of them. In these pictures of light, the deeds of the Fire Spirits (Archangels) were contained. The Fires Spirits appeared to man as ministering spirits of the Warmth-Beings who planted a spark of fire in his inner nature. When these outer manifestations faded, man experienced them as mental images (as memories) within him. He felt united with their forces; and so indeed he was. For by virtue of what he had received from them he was able to work upon the sphere of air that surrounded him. Under his influence it began to ray forth light. That was a time when Nature forces and human forces were not yet separate from one another as they afterwards became. Whatever took place upon Earth proceeded still to a large extent from the forces of human beings. An observer, looking from beyond the Earth upon the events of Nature that were taking place there, would not have seen in these mere outer processes, independent of man; he would have recognized in them the influence also of human beings.
The perceptions of sound took yet another form for Earth man. From the very beginning of his Earthly life, he perceived them as coming from without. And while the light-pictures were so perceived only until the middle period of his existence on Earth, external sounds could still be heard even after this middle period. Only towards the end of his life did Earth man become insensitive to these; and then there remained to him still the inner memories of them. The sounds bore within them the manifestations of the Sons of Life (the Angels.) When towards the end of his life man felt himself inwardly united with these forces, he could then, by imitating them, call forth mighty activities in the water-element of the Earth. Under his influence arose a surging of the waters — within the Earth and over its surface.
Only in the first quarter of his Earthly life did man have any conscious experience of taste, and even then it appeared to his soul like a memory of experiences in his body-free condition. So long as he had the sense of taste, the solidification of his body by the absorption of outer substances continued. In the second quarter of his Earthly life, though growth might still continue, man's form and figure was already fully developed. At this period, he could only perceive other living beings beside himself through the warmth, light and sound. Effects that they produced. For he was not yet able to form any conception of the solid element. Of the watery he received only, in the first quarter of his life, the taste effects above mentioned.
A reflection of this inner soul-condition of man could be seen in his external, bodily form. Those parts which contained the beginning of what afterwards became the form of the head, were the most perfectly evolved. The remaining organs appeared only as appendages, and were shadowlike and indistinct. But not all Earth men were alike in form and figure. Some there were in whom, according to the conditions under which they lived, the “appendages” were more, or less, developed — the variation depending upon their dwelling-place on Earth. Where they became more deeply involved in the Earth world, the appendages appeared more prominent. There were also human beings who at the beginning of the physical development of Earth had, by virtue of their preceding evolution, been the most mature and had accordingly experienced the contact with the fire-element at the very outset, when Earth had not yet condensed to air, and who were now able to develop more perfectly the beginnings of the head. These were, in their inner life, of all human beings the most harmonious. Others had not been ready for contact with the fire-element until the Earth had evolved within it also the air; they were more dependent on external conditions. The former kind were clearly aware through the warmth, of the Spirits of Form, and their feeling of themselves in Earthly life was as though they retained a memory of belonging to the Spirits of Form, of having been united with them in the body-free condition. The others had the memory of the body-free condition only to a lesser degree; they were chiefly aware of their membership of the spiritual world through the light-effects of the Spirits of Fire (Archangels.)
There was in addition a third kind of human being, still more deeply entangled in Earthly existence. These had not been able to be touched by the fire-element until such time as the Earth, already separated from the Sun, had received into it the element of water. The feeling they had of belonging to the spiritual world was slight, notably at the beginning of their Earthly life. Only when the working of the Archangels, and more especially of the Angels made itself felt in their inner mental life, did they become aware of it. On the other hand, at the beginning of their Earthly time they were full of eager impulse for action — for such actions, namely, as could be performed within the conditions of the Earth itself. In such human beings the other organs (the appendages) were especially developed.
In the time when, before the separation of the Moon, the Moon forces were bringing about in the Earth a constantly increasing measure of solidification, it befell that among the descendants of the “seeds” left behind by men on Earth, there were some in whom the human souls returning from the body-free condition could no longer incarnate. Their form was much too hardened, and under the influence of the Moon forces had grown all too unlike the human figure to be able to receive the soul. This meant that certain human souls no longer found it possible to return to Earth. Only the most mature, only the strongest felt themselves equal to the task of so transforming the Earthly body during its growth that it could blossom forth into the true human form. Hence but a portion only of the human bodily descendants became vehicles for Earth men. Another portion, owing to their hardened form, could only receive souls that were at a lower level than the souls of men. Some of the human souls, on the other hand, being thus compelled to cease partaking in Earth evolution during that epoch, were brought into a different kind of life-history. Even at the time of the separation of the Sun, there had already been souls who could no longer find a place on Earth. These were transplanted for their further evolution to another planet. Under the guidance of cosmic Beings, this planet wrested itself free of the general World-substance which had been united with the physical evolution of Earth at its beginning, and out of which the Sun itself had also separated. This was the planet whose physical expression is known to external science as Jupiter. (Here we are speaking of heavenly bodies and planets and of their names, in precisely the same way as was customary in a science of former times. The meaning will e clear from the context. The physical Earth is but the physical expression for an organism of soul and spirit, and the same is true of every other heavenly body. He who perceives the Supersensible does not mean by the name “Earth” the mere physical planet, nor by “Sun” the mere physical fixed star. And in like manner, when he speaks of Jupiter, Mars, etc., he is referring to far-reaching spiritual complexes. Naturally, the heavenly bodies have since the times of which we are here telling undergone fundamental changes in their form and purpose — in a certain respect, even in their position in the heavenly spaces. Only one who is able to follow back their evolution into far distant ages, can recognize the connection of the present planets with their forebears.)
It was thus on Jupiter that such souls continued their evolution. Later one, when then Earth was inclining still more to the solid state, another dwelling-place had to be created for souls who, though able for a time to inhabit the hardened bodies, could no longer do so when the hardening had gone too far. For these, there arose in Mars a dwelling suited to their further evolution. Then again there were souls who at a still earlier time, when the Earth was united with the Sun and was incorporating in itself the air element, proved unadapted to partake in its evolution. These souls were affected too strongly by the Earthly corporeal form. They had therefore to be withdrawn, already at that time, from the immediate influence of the Sun forces. The Sun forces must work upon them from without. They found on Saturn a place for their further evolution. Thus in the course of its evolution the number of human forms on Earth steadily decreased. Forms began to appear in which human souls were not incarnated — forms which were able to receive only astral bodies, even as man's physical body and life-body had done on Old Moon. While Earth was growing waste and void as to human inhabitants, these beings now established themselves upon it. In the last resort, all human souls would have had to leave the Earth — had it not been for the severance of the Moon. This made it possible for human forms which at that time could still be humanly ensouled, to withdraw the human seed or embryo during their Earthly life from the Moon forces emanating directly from the Earth, and let it mature within themselves up to the point where it could safely be exposed to these forces. This meant that, while the seed or embryo was taking shape within the human being, it came under the influence of those Beings who guided by the Mightiest among them, had severed the Moon from the Earth, so as to carry Earth's evolution forward over a critical point.
When the Earth had developed the air-element within it, there were astral beings in the sense of the above description — as relics from the Old Moon — who had remained farther back in the evolution than the lowest of human souls. These became the souls of the forms which had to be deserted by man even before the separation of the Sun, and were the forefathers of the animal kingdom. In course of time, they evolved especially those organs which in man existed as appendages. Their astral body had to work upon the physical and the life-body in the same way as was the case with man on Old Moon. This, then, is how the animals originated; and they had souls which could not dwell in the single creature. The soul extended its being to the descendant of the parent form. Animals that are in the main descended from a single form, have one soul together. Only when, as a result of special influences, the descendant departs from the parent form, does a new animal-soul come into incarnation. And it is in this sense that in spiritual science we speak of specific (or generic) souls, or “group souls” of the animals.
Something not unlike this took place at the time of the separation of the Sun from the Earth. Out of the watery element forms emerged which were no farther on in their development than man had been before his evolution on Old Moon. Such forms were only able to receive an astral influence when it worked upon them from without; and this could not happen until after the departure of the Sun from the Earth. Each time that the Sun period of the Earth set in, the Astral of the Sun roused up these forms to build themselves their life-body from out of the Ethereal of the Earth. Then, when the Sun was turned away from the Earth, this life-body was dissolved once more in the common body of the Earth. As a result of this working together of the Astral of the Sun and the Ethereal of the Earth, physical forms arose out of the watery element which were the forebears of the present plant kingdom.
Man has become on Earth an individualized soul-being. His astral body, poured into him on Old Moon by the Spirits of Movement, has been organized on Earth into the sentient, the intellectual and the spiritual soul. When his spiritual soul was so far developed as to be able, during Earth life, to build itself a body well adapted to contain it, the Spirits of Form endowed him with a spark of their own fire. The I was kindled in him. Every time he left the physical body, man was in the spiritual world, where he encountered the Beings who had given him his physical body, his life-body and his astral body during the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, and had perfected these up to the Earth level of development. But now that the spark of fire of the I had been kindled in his life on Earth, a change had come about in the body-free life as well. Before this moment in his evolution, man had no independence in relation to the spiritual world. He did not in that world feel himself as a separate, single being, but as membered into the sublime organism composed of higher Beings above him. Now, however, the “I” experience on Earth began to work on into the spiritual world; there too, man began to feel himself as a single unit. Yet at the same time he also felt he was eternally united with that world. In the body-free condition he found again in a higher aspect the Spirits of Form whom he had perceived in their manifestation upon Earth through the spark of his own I.
The severance of the Moon from the Earth involved also new experiences for the body-free soul in the spiritual world. For it was only through the transference from the Earth to the Moon of a portion of the form-building forces that it was made possible still to develop upon Earth such human forms as could receive a soul's individuality. Thereby the individuality of man was brought into the realm of the Moon Beings. And even in the body-free condition, the after-echo of Earthly individuality could only be effective inasmuch as there too the soul remained within the realm of those mighty Spirits who had brought about the separation of the Moon. It happened in the following way. Immediately after leaving the Earth, the soul could only see the sublime Beings of the Sun as it were in a reflected radiance cast by the Beings of the Moon. But until it had been sufficiently prepared by beholding this reflected radiance, did the soul come fact to face with the sublime Sun Beings themselves.
The mineral kingdom of the Earth also arose by being thrust out from the evolution of mankind. Its structures represent what was still left in a hardened condition when the Moon was separated from the Earth. The soul-nature that felt drawn to these structures was of a kind which, having remained at the Saturn stage, was fitted to create only physical forms. All the events of which we are speaking here — or will be speaking in the sequel — are to be thought of as taking place in the course of immense epochs, the precise determination of which is beyond our present scope.
The above descriptions have given a picture of the evolution of the Earth from its external aspect. Seen from the aspect of the Spirit, the following emerges. The spiritual Beings who drew the Moon away from the Earth and bound up their own existence with it — becoming in this way Beings of the Earth's Moon — sent down their forces from that heavenly body to Earth and thereby determined the form and structure of man's organization. Their influence was directed to the I or Ego which man had by then acquired; it made itself felt in the interplay of the I with the astral, etheric and physical bodies. It was due to these Beings that the possibility arose in man, consciously to mirror in himself the wisdom-filled configuration of the World, and to portray it, as by reflection, in an act of knowledge. Let the reader recall here the description that was given of how in the Old Moon time, through the Moon's severance from the Sun, man had attained a certain independence in his organization — a freer state of consciousness than could proceed directly from the Sun Beings themselves. During the period of Earth evolution we are now describing, this free and independent consciousness appeared again — a heritage from Old Moon evolution. Under the influence of the Moon Beings, it could have been harmonized once more with the great Universe, and made into a faithful image of it. And this would indeed have come to pass had no other influence intervened. Man would have become a being with a consciousness whose content mirrored back the Universe in the pictures of the life of knowledge, as by natural necessity, not be his own free intention. But it did not happen so. At the very time of the Moon's severance, certain spiritual Beings intervened in human evolution, who had retained so much of their own Moon nature that they could not partake in the departure of the Sun from the Earth, while on the other hand they were also excluded from the influences of the Beings who worked on to the Earth from the Moon. These Beings with an Old Moon nature were banished, as it were, by an abnormal evolution, to the Earth. In their Moon nature was contained precisely that quality which had rebelled against the Spirits of the Sun during Old Moon, and had at that time been of real benefit to man, inasmuch as it had brought him to a free and independent consciousness. As a consequence of their peculiar evolution during the Earth epoch, they now became the opponents of those who, working from the Moon, desired to make man's consciousness an infallible knowledge-mirror of the World. The very same thing which on Old Moon had helped man to a higher level, proved itself now a factor of resistance to the new conditions that had been made possible in the course of Earth evolution. The opposing powers had brought with them from their Old Moon nature the faculty to work upon the human astral body in such manner as to make it — in the sense of the above descriptions — independent. This faculty they used; they gave the astral body — for the Earth epoch too — a certain independence, as against the unfree consciousness determined by necessity, that was being induced in it by the Beings of Earth-Moon.
It is not easy to express in ordinary language what the influence of these spiritual Beings was like in that primeval time. We must not conceive it to have been like the present-day influences of Nature, not yet like the influence of man on man, when by his words one man awakens in another forces of inner consciousness, whereby the other learns to understand something or is moved to some virtue of vice. The primeval influence to which we here refer was not a “natural” influence at all, but a purely spiritual one. It worked also in a spiritual way: it was transmitted, as a spiritual influence, from the higher Spirit Beings to the human being in a manner that accorded with his state of consciousness at that time. If we imagine it like an influence of Nature, we completely fail to perceive its real essence. If on the other hand, we say that the Beings with the Old Moon nature approached man with intent to win him over for their aims by “tempting” him, then we are using a symbolical expression, which is all right, so long as we are aware of its symbolic nature and realize that behind the symbol lies a spiritual fact.
This influence on man, proceeding from Spirit-beings who had remained behind in the Old Moon condition, entailed for him a twofold consequence. His consciousness was divested of the character of a mere mirror of the Universe, for there was kindled in the human astral body the power to regulate and control the pictures in consciousness. Man became the master of his own faculty of cognition. On the other hand, since it was the astral body which was made the source of this control, the Ego, in spite of being in reality above the astral, fell into a state of perpetual dependence on it. This meant that for the future man was exposed to the constant influence of a lower element in his own nature. It was now possible for his life to sink beneath the high level on which the Earth-Moon Beings had placed him in the cosmic process. And in the sequel there remained the constant influence upon his nature of the abnormally developed Beings of the Moon. These latter may be called — in contrast to those who from Earth-Moon formed man's consciousness to be a mirror of the Universe, yet gave him no free will — the Luciferian Spirits. They brought man the power to unfold a free activity in his own consciousness, but brought him at the same time the possibility of error and of evil.
As a result of these events, man came into a different relation to the Sun Spirits than was predestined for him by the Earth-Moon Beings. The latter wanted to evolve the mirror of his consciousness in such a way that the influence of the Sun Spirits would predominate in his entire life of soul. But this intention of theirs was frustrated, and in the human beings an opposition was set up between the influence of the Sun Spirits and the influence of the Spirits who were undergoing an irregular Moon evolution, with the result that man was rendered incapable of recognizing the physical influences of the Sun for what they were; they remained hidden from him behind the earthly impressions of the outer world. Filled with these impressions, the astral in man was drawn into the domain of the I. Had it not been for this, the I of man would have been content simply to feel the spark of fire bequeathed him by the Spirits of Form, remaining subject to their commands in all that appertained to the outer fire. But now the I began to use the fire-element, with which it had itself been informed, to influence the phenomena of warmth in the surrounding world. Thus a bond of attraction was established between the I and the Earth fire, and man became entangled, more than had been predestined for him, in the realm of earthly matter. Previously he had had a physical body, consisting as to its main parts of fire, air and water, and with only a shade or, as it were, a phantom of earth substance added. Now the body became more densely compact of earth. Previously, man had moreover been living — as a being rather delicately organized — in a kind of floating, soaring movement above the solid ground of Earth; now he had to descend from the surrounding sphere to the parts of Earth which were already more or less solidified.
That such physical effects were possible as a direct outcome of spiritual influences, is explained by the fact that these influences were of the kind we have described. They were not Nature influences nor were they like the influences of soul that work from man to man. The latter do not extend their effects so far into the bodily as did the spiritual forces with which we are dealing here.
Because man exposed himself to the influences of the outer world under the guidance merely of his own ideas, subject as these were to error, because moreover he lived by cravings and passions which he did not allow higher spiritual influences to regulate, the possibility of illness arose. And another marked effect of the Luciferian influence was the following. Henceforth man was unable to feel his single life on Earth as a continuation of body-free existence. He now received such Earthly impressions as he could experience through the astral element with which he had been inoculated, and these impressions joined themselves on to the forces that destroy life. Man experienced this as the doing away of his Earthly life. Death, brought about by human nature itself, now made its appearance. Here we touch a significant secret of man's nature — the connection of the human astral body with illness and death.
Peculiar conditions now arose for the life-body of man. If was placed in such a position between the physical and astral bodies as to be withdrawn to a certain extent from the faculties man had acquired through the Luciferian influence. A portion of the life-body remained outside the physical body, and was accordingly controllable by higher Beings who, under the leadership of one of their sublime number had left the Earth at the separation of the Sun, to occupy another dwelling-place. Had this portion of the life-body remained united with the astral body, man would have seized on supersensible forces which had belonged to him before, and put them to his own use; he would have extended the Luciferian influence to these supersensible forces. In so doing man would in time have severed himself completely from the Beings of the Sun, and his Ego would have become an entirely Earthly Ego. For at the death of the physical body (or even during its disintegration) the Earthly Ego would have been obliged to take up its abode in another physical body — in a descendant body — without first passing through a time of union with higher spiritual Beings in a body-free condition. Man would thus have attained the consciousness of his I, but only as an Earthly I.
This result was averted by he special development described above in connection with the life-body, a development that was brought about by the Earth-Moon Beings. The true individual Ego was thereby loosed from the merely Earthly Ego, so that man during this earthly life felt himself only partly as his own I, while at the same time he felt that his Earthly Ego was a continuation of the Earthly Ego of his forefathers through the generations. Thus during life on Earth the soul felt a kind of Group Ego reaching back to distant ancestors, and the individual man felt himself a member of the group. It was only on entering into the body-free condition that the individual Ego could feel itself a single being. And even this individualization was impaired inasmuch as the Ego was still burdened with the memory of the Earthly consciousness — the consciousness, that is, of the Earthly Ego. This memory clouded man's vision of the spiritual world, which began to be veiled over between death and birth, as it was already for man's physical vision upon Earth.
The many changes that took place in the spiritual world while human evolution was passing through these conditions, found physical expression in the gradual regulation of the mutual relationships of Sun and Moon and Earth — and, in a wider sense, of other heavenly bodies too. One consequence of these relationships may here be singled out: the alternation of day and night. (The movements of the heavenly bodies are regulated by the Beings who inhabit them. The movement of the Earth whereby day and night arise, was brought about by the mutual relations of the higher Spirit-Beings above humanity. And it was in like manner that the Lunar motion came about; for after the severance of Moon from Earth, the rotation of the former about the latter enabled the Spirits of Form to work upon the physical body of man in the right way — in the proper rhythm.) By day the Ego and astral body of man were working in the physical body and the life-body. By night this work ceased; the Ego and astral body left the physical and the life-body. During this time they were entirely within the domain of the Sons of Life (Angels,) the Fire Spirits (Archangels,) the Spirits of Personality and the Spirits of Form. The physical body and life-body were also received into their sphere of influence by the Spirits of Form, and in addition by the Spirits of Movement, the Spirits of Wisdom and the Thrones. In this way the harmful influences which had been brought to bear on man during the day through the aberrations of the astral body could be made good again.
Human beings now began to multiply again on Earth, there was no longer any reason why human souls should not proceed to incarnate in the descendants. For the way in which the Earth-Moon forces were now working enabled the human bodies to take such shape as adapted them perfectly for the embodiment of human souls. Now therefore the souls, formerly translated on to Mars, Jupiter, etc., were guided once more to the Earth. For ever human descendant born in the sequence of the generations, a soul was thus made available. And so it went on or a long time: the coming of fresh souls to settle on the Earth corresponded to the increase in the population. And when these souls left the body through Earthly death, they retained like a memory, in the body-free condition, the echo of their Earthly individuality. This memory worked in such a way that when a body proper for its habitation was born again on Earth, the soul would incarnate in it once more. Thus is came about that among the progeny of men, there were some with souls coming from outside — appearing again on Earth for the first time since the primeval ages of its evolution — and others with souls that were not reincarnating. As evolution continued, the “young” souls appearing for the first time grew ever less and the reincarnated more in number. Nevertheless, for long ages of time the human race still consisted of these two kinds of human beings.
Henceforth, on Earth man felt himself united with his forefathers through the common Ego of the group. But the experience of the individual I was correspondingly intense in the body-free condition between death and a new birth. The souls who came fresh from heavenly spaces to take up their abode in human bodies were in a different situation from those who had one or more Earthly lives behind them. The former brought with them to physical life on Earth only those conditions of soul which they owed to the influence of the higher spiritual world and to the experiences they had undergone outside the Earth's domain. The others had, in earlier lives on Earth, added conditions of their own making. The destinies of the former souls were determined entirely by facts that lay outside the new Earth conditions, while those of the reincarnated souls depended also on what they themselves had done in their former lives under the conditions that prevailed on Earth. And so it came about that along with reincarnation, individual human Karma began to show itself.
Through the withdrawal of the human life-body from the influence of the astral body — in the way indicated above — the relationships of reproduction remained outside the horizon of man's consciousness, and were subject to the guidance of the spiritual world. Whenever a soul had to descend into the Earth sphere, the impulses for reproduction arose in man on Earth. For Earthly consciousness the whole process was veiled to some extent in mystery and darkness.
But now also during Earthly life this partial separation of the life-body from the physical had its results. Spiritual influence was able to effect a notable enhancement of the faculties inherent in the life-body, which manifested in a peculiar development of the power of memory. Independent logical thinking was only in its very first beginnings in that period of man's existence. But the power of memory was almost unlimited. Another effect showed itself in a more outward manner in the fact that man had an immediate “feeling” knowledge of the potent virtues of all living things. He could enlist in his own serve the forces of life and reproduction inherent in animal, and more especially in plant natures. He could withdraw from the plant the force that impels it in its growth, and use this force, just as nowadays forces are taken from lifeless nature — the latent force of coal, for instance — and used to set machines in motion. (Further details on this subject will be found in my book on Atlantis and Lemuria) 1See the volume entitled Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and Man, published in 1959 by Rudolf Steiner Publications Inc., Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A. The title of the corresponding volume in German is Aus der Akasha Chronik. (Note by Translators.)
Man's inner life of soul was also altered in diverse ways through the Luciferian influence; many kinds of feelings and emotions could be cited which owed their origin to it. Mention may here be made of a few of these changes. Previously the human soul, in whatever it had to do and create, worked in accordance with the aims of higher spiritual Beings. The plan for what had to be achieved was settled in advance. And in the measure in which his consciousness was evolved, man could even foresee how, in pursuance of the preconceived plan, things must necessarily develop in the future. This forward-seeing consciousness was lost when a veil of earthly perceptions was woven across the revelations of the higher Beings and hid from man's view the real forces of the Sun Beings. The future now became uncertain, and this meant that the possibility of feeling fear was implanted in the soul. Fear is a direct consequence of error.
At the same time we see how with the Luciferian influence man became independent of certain forces to which he had hitherto been entirely subject. Henceforth he could make resolves — quite on his own. Freedom is thus the result of this influence. Fear, and feelings akin to fear, are but concomitant phenomena of man's evolution towards freedom.
There is a spiritual aspect to this emergence of fear. Within the forces of the Earth, under whose influence man had been brought by the Luciferian powers, other powers were at work — powers which had begun to evince irregularity far earlier in evolution than the Luciferian. Along with the Earth forces, man began now to receive into his being the influences of these other powers. They instilled into feelings which without them would have worked quite differently, the quality of fear. We may name them here the Ahrimanic beings; they are the same as are called by Goethe, Mephistophelian.
Now although at first the Luciferian influence made itself felt only in the most advanced human beings, it soon began to extend over others too. The descendants of the more advanced mingled with those of the less advanced, with the result that the Luciferian force penetrated also to these. Moreover the life-body of the souls returning from the planets could not be protected to the same extent as the life-body of the descendants of those who had remained on Earth. The protection of the latter was the work of a sublime Being who had the leadership in the Cosmos at the time when the Sun separated from the Earth. In connection with the development we are here considering, this Being appears as the Ruler in the kingdom of the Sun. With Him there journeyed to the Solar dwelling-place such sublime Spirits as had attained the necessary maturity in their cosmic evolution.
But there were also Beings who at the separation of the Sun had not reached this height of development. They had to look for other scenes of action. And these are the Beings through whom it had come to pass that Jupiter and other planets split off from the common World-substance which was in the physical organism of the Earth in the beginning. Jupiter became the habitation of Beings who had not matured to the level of the Sun. The most advanced among them became the leader of Jupiter. As the leader of the Sun evolution became the higher Ego, working in the life-body of the descendants of the human beings who had remained on Earth, so did the Jupiter leader become the higher Ego which passed like a common consciousness through other human beings — those, namely, who traced their descent to a mingling of the offspring of the men who had remained on Earth with those who had only appeared on Earth at the time of the air element and had then gone off to Jupiter. The latter may accordingly be named in spiritual science “Jupiter men.” They were those human descendants who in that ancient time had still been receiving human souls — souls, however, which at the beginning of Earthly evolution had not yet been mature enough to partake in the first contact with the fire-element. These were souls between the human and the animal kingdoms.
And there were still other Beings, who — once more under the leadership of a Highest among them — had separated Mars out of the common World-substance as their dwelling-place, and they exercised their influence upon a third kind of human being who had also arisen by intermingling, the “Mars men.” (This kind of knowledge throws light on the fundamental causes and origins of the planets in our solar system. All the heavenly bodies of this system have come into being through the varying degrees of maturity of the Spirits who inhabit them. Naturally. we cannot enter here into all the details of these cosmic differentiations.)
Those human beings on the other hand, who beheld the presence in their life-body of the high Being of the Sun Himself, may be called “Sun men.” The Being who lived in them as a higher Ego — only in the generations, needless to say, not in the single individuals — is the One to whom diverse names were subsequently given, when men acquired conscious knowledge of Him. To the men of the present time He is the One in whom the relation of the Christ to the Cosmos is revealed.
We can also distinguish “Saturn men.” In them there appeared as higher Ego a Being who, with his companions, had to leave the common substance of the World even before the separation of the Sun The Saturn men were a type of human being in whom, not only in the life-body but in the physical body too, there was a portion which remained withdrawn from the Luciferian influence.
But now it was so, that in the lower kinds of human beings the life-body was after all too little protected, and could not sufficiently resist the encroachments of the Luciferian nature. Such human beings could so far extend the arbitrary power of the fiery spark of the I which was within them as to be able to call forth in their environment mighty workings of fire, of a harmful nature. This led eventually to a stupendous Earth catastrophe. A great portion of the then inhabited Earth was destroyed in these fire-storms, and with it perished also the human beings who had fallen into error. Only a very small number of them, having remained comparatively untouched by error, could save themselves by taking refuge on some region of the Earth that had so far been protected from the harmful influence of men. One land in particular proved suitable as such a dwelling-place for the new humanity. It was situated at the part of the Earth's surface which is now covered by the Atlantic Ocean. The portion of mankind that had remained most pure from error migrated thither. Other parts became inhabited only by stray remnants. The continent which then existed between the present Europe, Africa and America may be called in spiritual science, Atlantis. (The above-described period of human evolution, preceding the Atlantean, is dealt with from a certain aspect in the relevant literature. It is there called the Lemurian epoch of the Earth, whereas the time when the Moon forces had not yet unfolded their most powerful effects may be called the Hyperborean age. This epoch was preceded by yet another, which coincides with the very earliest time of physical Earth evolution. In Biblical tradition the time before the entry of the Luciferian beings is referred to as the time of Paradise, and the descent on to the Earth — man's entanglement in the world of the senses — as the expulsion from Paradise.)
It was during evolution in the region of Atlantis that the actual separation of humanity into the men of Saturn, Sun, Jupiter and Mars took place. Previously, no more than the initial tendencies in this direction had shown themselves. The division also into the waking and the sleeping state now entailed yet other important consequences, which came strongly into evidence in Atlantean humanity. During the night, man's astral body and Ego were in the realm of the Beings above him, reaching as far as to the Spirits of Personality. Through the portion of his life-body which was not united with the physical he could have perception of the Sons of Life (the Angels) and the Fire Spirits (the Archangels.) For he could remain united, during sleep, with this portion of the life-body. His perception however of the Spirits of Personality remained indistinct, and this was directly due to the Luciferian influence. But with the Angels and Archangels, other beings also became visible to man in this condition. These were being who, having remained behind on Sun and Moon, had not been able to enter upon Earth-existence at all; they had had perforce to remain in the world of soul and spirit. Under the Luciferian influence, however, man drew them into the realm of his own soul when it was separated from the physical. Thus he came into touch with beings whose influence upon him was in the highest degree seductive. They multiplied in his soul the impulses that led him astray, especially the impulse to misuse the forces of growth and reproduction, which now stood at man's disposal owing to the partial separation of the physical body from the life-body.
Now there were individual human beings of the Atlantean epoch who were to a large extent enabled to avoid entanglement in the world of the senses. Through them the Luciferian influence was changed from a hindrance in man's evolution into a means for his higher progress. For with its help they were enabled to unfold a knowledge of the things of Earth sooner than would otherwise have been possible, and in so doing, they strove to remove error from their mental life and to bring to light from out of the world's phenomena the primal intentions of the Spirit-Beings. They kept themselves free from impulses and cravings of the astral body directed merely to the world of the senses. Thus they became less and less liable to error, and were brought in this way into conditions of consciousness whereby they had perception purely in that part of the life-body which was separated from the physical. At these times it was as though the physical body's power of perception were extinguished and the body itself dead. But through the life-body these human beings were wholly united with the kingdom of the Spirits of Form, and could learn from them how they were led and guided by the sublime Being who had been the Leader in the severance of Sun and Earth, and through whom the understanding for the “Christ” was subsequently revealed to man. Such men were Initiates. But because the human individuality had now, as we have seen, come into the domain of the Moon Beings, even the Initiates could not, as a rule, be touched directly by the Sun Beings. He could be revealed to them only, as it were in reflection, through the Moon Beings. Thus they beheld not the Sun Being Himself, but His reflected radiance. These Initiates became the leaders of the rest of mankind, to whom they were able to communicate the secrets they saw. They trained up disciples, teaching them the paths to the attainment of the condition that leads to Initiation. The knowledge of what had formerly manifested through “Christ” was attainable only by such as belonged to the Sun humanity in the sense above described. These cultivated their secret knowledge and the ministrations which led up to it, at a special sanctuary which shall here be named the Christ — of the Sun — Oracle. (Oraculum meaning a place where the intentions of spiritual Beings are perceived.)
What is here said in reference to the Christ will be misunderstood unless the following is borne in mind. Supersensible knowledge has to recognize, in the appearance of Christ on Earth, an event to which those men of earlier ages who knew the meaning and purpose of Earth evolution could point, as to an event that was to come in the future. It would be a mistake to presume in those Initiates a relationship To Christ which has only been made possible by the event they prophesied. This much they could prophetically understand and bring home to their disciples: “Who so is touched by the might of the Sun Being, sees the Christ coming towards the Earth.”
Other Oracles were called into life by the members of Saturn, Mars and Jupiter humanity, whose Initiates carried their vision no farther than to those Beings who could be revealed to them — as “higher Egos” — in their life-bodies. Thus there arose the adherents of the Saturn, the Jupiter and the Mars Wisdom. Beside those modes of Initiation, there were again still others, for human beings who had received into themselves too much of the Luciferic nature to permit of so great a part of the life-body being separated from the physical as was the case with the Sun humanity; more of it is held back there by the astral body. Human beings of this type were not able, even in their more advanced states of consciousness, to reach through to the prophetic Christ Revelation. Their astral body being more under the influence of the Luciferian principle, they had harder experiences to undergo in preparation, before they could receive, in a less body-free condition than the others, not indeed the revelation of the Christ Himself, but that of other sublime Beings; for there were Beings who, though they had left the Earth at the time of the separation of the Sun, were not upon so high a level as to be able to partake continuously in the Sun's evolution. After the severance of Sun and Earth they went forth again from the Sun, taking with them another separate dwelling-place and this was Venus. Their leader was the Being who now became the “higher Ego” for the above-described Initiates and their followers. A similar thing happened with the leading Spirit of Mercury in connection with still another kind of human being. And so there arose the Venus and the Mercury Oracles.
There was moreover a further class of human beings who had absorbed most of all the Luciferian influence. They could only reach up to a Spirit-Being who with his associates had been thrust forth again soonest of all from the evolution of the Sun. This Being has no special planet in the cosmic spaces but lives to this day in the surrounding sphere of the Earth itself, with which he re-united after his return thither from the Sun. The human beings to whom he revealed himself as their higher Ego may be called adherents of the Vulcan Oracle. Their vision was more directed than that of all the other Initiates to the phenomena of Earth. They laid the first foundation for what afterwards arose among men as arts and sciences. The Mercury Initiates, on the other hand, founded the science of things more supersensible; and to a still higher degree the Venus Initiates did the same. The Vulcan, Mercury and Venus Initiates differed from the Saturn, Jupiter and Mars Initiates in the following way. The latter received their secrets more as a revelation from above, more in a finished state, while the former were already receiving knowledge more in the form of thoughts and ideas that were their own. The Christ-Initiates stood between the two; together with the direct revelation, they received at the same time the faculty to clothe their secrets in the form of human concepts. The Saturn, Jupiter and Mars Initiates had to express themselves more in symbolic pictures; the Christ, Venus, Mercury and Vulcan Initiates could make their communications more in the form of ideas and thought-pictures.
All that was given to Atlantean humanity in this way, came to them through their Initiates, but the rest of mankind also received special faculties through the working of the Luciferian principle, inasmuch as the great cosmic Beings turned to good what might otherwise have been quite detrimental. One such faculty is that of speech. Speech came to man through his condensation into physical materiality and through the separation of a part of his life-body from the physical body. In the times that followed the separation of the Moon, man, to begin with, felt himself united with his physical forefathers through the Ego of the group. But in course of generations this common consciousness, uniting descendants with their forefathers, was gradually lost. Thus with the later descendants the “inner memory” reached back only to a fairly recent ancestor, not any longer to the more ancient forefathers. It was only in conditions resembling sleep, where men came in contact with the spiritual world, that the memory of this or that ancestor would emerge. Then would a man often deem himself one with some such ancestor, whom he believed to have reappeared in himself. This was, in fact, a mistaken idea of reincarnation, which arose especially in the last period of Atlantis. The true teaching about reincarnation was to be found only in the schools of the Initiates. For the Initiates were able to behold how the human soul passes in the body-free condition from incarnation to incarnation. They alone could implant the truth to their pupils.
In the far distant past of which we are here speaking, the physical form and figure of man was as yet very different from what it is today. It was still to a great extent the expression of qualities of soul. The human being was of a finer, softer materiality than he afterwards became. Where his members are now quite rigid, they were plastic, soft and pliable. A man more filled with soul and spirit was of gentle build, mobile, expressive. One who was less spiritually developed had coarser bodily forms, immobile, not so plastic. Improvement in the life of the soul tended to draw man's members together; such a man would remain small in stature. Backwardness of soul, entanglement in sensuality, came to expression in gigantic bodily proportions. While man was still in his period of growth, the body took shape according to what was growing in the soul — and this to an extent which must seem fabulous, indeed quite fantastic, to present-day ideas. Depravity of passion, or of instinct or desire brought with it a monstrous enlargement of the material in man. The present human form has arisen by the contraction, condensation, and rigidification of Atlantean man. Before the time of Atlantis, man had presented a faithful image of his soul, of his inner being, but the very events and processes that took place in Atlantean evolution contained the inner causes which led to the human being of post-Atlantean time, who in his physical form and statue is firm and well-established, comparatively little dependent on his qualities of soul. (The animal kingdom grew dense in its forms, in far earlier epochs than man.) The laws which at the present time underlie the molding and shaping of forms in the kingdoms of Nature can certainly not be extended to the more remote ages of the past.
Towards the middle of the Atlantean period of evolution, a great calamity began gradually to overwhelm mankind. The secrets of the Initiates should have been carefully protected from those human beings who had not by due preparation purified their astral bodies from error. For is such attained insight into the hidden knowledge — into the laws whereby the higher Beings guided the forces of Nature — they might enlist these laws in the service of their own mistaken needs and passions. The danger was all the greater, since, as we have seen, men were coming into the realm of lower spirit-beings who were themselves unable to partake in the regular evolution of the Earth and therefore worked against it. These beings were perpetually influencing men, imbuing them with interests which worked against the true welfare of mankind. And then too, the men of that time still had the faculty to place at their own disposal the forces of growth and reproduction in animal and human nature.
Nor was it only the ordinary run of human beings, but some of the Initiates too succumbed to the temptations of lower spirit-beings, and even went so far as to employ the above-named supersensible forces for an end that was directly opposed to the evolution of mankind. For this purpose they gathered round them as associates men who were uninitiated and who applied the secrets of the supersensible working of Nature for decidedly lower ends. A widespread corruption of humanity ensued. The evil grew to greater and greater dimensions.
Now the forces of growth and reproduction, when torn from their mother-soil and independently employed, stand in a mysterious relationship to certain forces that work in air and water. Mighty and ominous powers of Nature were thus let loose by the deeds of men, leading eventually to the gradual destruction of the whole territory of Atlantis by catastrophes of air and water. Atlantean humanity — the portion of it, that is, which did not perish in the storms — was compelled to migrate. As a result too of the great storms, the whole face of the Earth changed. Europe, Asia and Africa on the one hand, and America on the other, began gradually to assume their present shape. Vast numbers of human beings migrated into these countries. For us in our time those above all are of importance who went eastward from Atlantis. Europe, Asia and Africa gradually became colonized by descendants of the Atlanteans. Peoples of many kinds took up their abode in these countries, people that stood at many different levels of evolution — and also of corruption. And in their midst went the Initiates, the Guardians of the secrets of the Oracles. In various regions the Initiates established holy places where the services of Jupiter, Venus, etc. were cultivated in a good — or in an evil — sense. Most detrimental of all was the betrayal of the Vulcan secrets. For the adherents of the Vulcan Mysteries had their attention concentrated upon things of Earth. By this betrayal was brought into a state of dependence upon spiritual things who in consequence of their preceding evolution were disposed to reject all that came from the spiritual world that had evolved through the separation of the Earth from the Sun. Such was the tendency they had developed, and they worked in accordance with it, precisely in that element which was arising in man inasmuch as he had sense-perceptions in the physical world — perceptions behind which the spiritual remained hidden. These beings now attained great influence over many of the human inhabitants of Earth, and the immediate outcome of it was to deprive man more and more of any feeling for things spiritual.
In those times, the size, form and plasticity of man's physical body were still largely determined by qualities of soul. Hence the results of the betrayal appeared in changes of this very kind in the human race. Where supersensible forces were placed in the service of lower instincts, passions and desires — where, that is, the prevalent corruption took this particular form — human figures would arise that were monstrous and grotesque in size and shape. These could not, however, survive beyond the Atlantean epoch; they died out. Physically speaking, post-Atlantean humanity evolved form Atlantean forebears whose bodily figure had already become firm enough not to give way to the soul-forces which had grown to be so contrary to their true nature. There was a period in Atlantean evolution when the laws prevailing in and around the Earth were such as to subject the human figure precisely to those conditions under which it had to grow firm. Human racial forms which had hardened before this time could continue to propagate themselves for a good while to come, but by degrees the souls incarnating in them found themselves so restricted that these races too had to die out. Many of the forms were nevertheless able to maintain themselves right into the post-Atlantean times; indeed, some of them that had remained mobile enough, survived in a somewhat altered condition for a very long time. On the other hand, the human forms which had retained their plasticity beyond the above-mentioned period, became bodies for those souls in particular who had suffered in a high degree the harmful influence of the betrayal. Such forms were destined to die out early.
In consequence of these developments, other beings had, since the middle of the Atlantean time, been making themselves felt in the realm of human evolution, owing to whose influence man was induced to enter the world of the physical senses in an unspiritual manner. So much so that in place of the true form of this world, hallucinations could appear to him, phantasms, and delusions of all kinds. Man was thus exposed not only to the Luciferian influence but also to that of these other beings, to whose existence we have already alluded. The leader of them may be called after the name he received later on in the ancient Persian civilization, Ahriman. (Mephistopheles is the same being.) Through this influence man came after his death among powers which caused him to appear even there as a being whose inclination was entirely towards the things of Earth and of the life of the senses. The free and open outlook into all that was going on in the spiritual world — of this he was deprived more and more. He had to feel himself in the grip of Ahriman and to a certain extent excluded form community with the spiritual world.
One Oracle sanctuary was of peculiar importance. Amid the general decline this sanctuary had preserved the ancient service in the purest form. It belonged to the Christ Oracles, and was accordingly able to preserve not only the secret of the Christ Himself but those of the other Oracles as well. For in the manifestation of the supreme Spirit of the Sun, the leaders of Saturn, Jupiter, etc. were also unveiled. In the Sun Oracle was known the secret of producing, in one or other human beings, life-bodies such as the best of the Initiates of Jupiter, Mercury, etc. had possessed. By means which they had in their power, but into which we cannot enter in further detail here, the Initiates of the Sun Oracle caused the impress of the best life-bodies of the old Initiates to be preserved, and then stamped on chosen human beings of a later time. The Venus, Mercury and Vulcan Initiates could also do the like with astral bodies.
A time came when the leader of the Christ-Initiates saw himself left alone with a few associates, to whom he could, to a very limited degree, impart the secrets of the world. For they were men in whom, owing to their natural endowment, there was least of all of the separation between physical body and life-body. In that age of time such men were altogether the best suited for the further progress of mankind in those times. Conscious experiences in the realm of sleep were coming to them less and less. More and more did the spiritual world become closed to them. They also lacked understanding for all that had been revealed in more ancient times when man was not in his physical but only in his life-body which had formerly been separated from it. This reunion was now gradually taking place in mankind ads a whole, as a result of the transformation which their Atlantean dwelling-place and the Earth in general had undergone. The physical body and the life-body of man were tending more and more to coincide. This meant that the formerly unlimited powers of memory were being lost, and the life of thought was beginning. The portion of the life-body that had now united with the physical transformed the physical brain into the essential instrument of thought. And now at last did man really begin to feel his I within the physical body; now at last did self-consciousness awaken there. To begin with, this happened with a small portion only of mankind, first among whom were the companions of the leader of the Sun Oracle. The remaining masses of mankind, spread over Europe, Asia and Africa, preserved in varying degrees remnants of the ancient states of consciousness. They had therefore immediate experience of the supersensible world.
The companions of the Christ Initiate were men of highly developed intellect, while of all the people of that time they had the least experience in the supersensible domain. The Christ-Initiate journeyed with them from West to East, to a region of central Asia. He wanted to protect them as far as possible from contact with men who were less advanced than they in the evolution of consciousness. He educated them according to the hidden things that were to him open and visible, and worked in this way especially on their descendants. Thus did he train up a group of human beings who had received into their hearts the inner impulses that responded to the secrets of the Christ-Initiation. Out of this group he chose the seven best, that they might be able to have life-bodies and astral bodies corresponding to the impressions of the life-bodies of the seven best Atlantean Initiates. In this way he trained up a successor to each of the Christ, Saturn, Jupiter, etc., Initiates. These seven Initiates became the teachers and guides of those who in the time after Atlantis had settled in the South of Asia, more particularly in ancient India. Endowed as they were with after-images of the life-bodies of their spiritual predecessors, what these great teachers had in their astral bodies — namely, the knowledge and understanding which they had themselves assimilated and made their own — did not come up to what was revealed to them through their life-bodies. For these revelations to speak to them, they had to silence their own faculty of cognition. Then did there speak, from them and through them, the sublime Beings who had also spoken for their spiritual forebears. Save in the times when these great Beings were speaking through them, they were simple, unassuming men, endowed merely with such culture of intellect and heart as they had themselves acquired.
In India there was living at this time a type of human being that had preserved to a marked degree a living memory of the ancient Atlantean soul-condition that permitted of conscious experience in the spiritual world. In very many of them remained also a strong urge of heart and mind towards such experiences in the supersensible world. By a wise guidance of destiny the main portion of this type of mankind, who were from the best of the Atlantean population, had found their way into Southern Asia. They were then joined by others who migrated thither at different times. Such was the complex of humanity to which the Christ-Initiate assigned his seven great disciples to be their teachers. These gave their wisdom and their commandments to this ancient Indian people. In many a one among these ancient Indians only slight preparation was required to kindle in him the scarcely extinct faculties that could lead to observation in the spiritual world. Indeed the longing for that world was to the Indian a fundamental, ever-present mood of soul. Within that world, he felt, was the primeval home of mankind. Man had been transplanted from it into this world which can endow him with external sense-perception and the intellect connected with it; but he felt the supersensible world as the true one and the sense-world as a fallacy of man's perception — an illusion, a maya — and strove by every means in his power to gain insight into the true world. In the illusory world of the senses he could summon up no interest — or only in so far as it manifests as a veil of the supersensible.
The power that could go out from the seven great Teachers to human beings such as these was tremendous. All that could be revealed through them entered deeply and livingly into the Indian soul. Gifted moreover as the Teachers were, by virtue of the life-bodies and astral bodies that had been bequeathed to them, with high spiritual forces, they were able also to work magically on their pupils. They did not really teach; they worked as though by magic from man to man. Thus arose a civilization permeated through and through with supersensible Wisdom. What is contained in the Wisdom-books of the Indians (the Vedas) reproduces, not the lofty Wisdom-teachings in their primal form — guarded as these were and cared for by the great Teachers in those ancient times — but only a faint echo of the same. The eye of seership alone, as it looks back, can detect behind the written, an unwritten, pristine Wisdom. One feature which especially emerges in this primal Wisdom is the harmonious sounding-together of the diverse Wisdoms of the Oracles of Atlantean time. Each of the great Teachers could unveil the Wisdom of one of these Oracles, and the different aspects of Wisdom gave together a perfect harmony, for behind them stood the fundamental Wisdom of the prophetic Christ-Initiation. The Teacher who was the spiritual successor of the Christ-Initiate did not, it is true, show forth what the Christ-Initiate did not, it is true, show forth what the Christ-Initiate himself had been able to unveil. The latter remained in the background of evolution. He could not, to begin with, transmit the high office to any member of post-Atlantean mankind. The Christ-Initiate who was with the seven Indian Teachers differed from him in this respect: he had been able, as we know, completely to assimilate to human concepts and ideas his vision of the Mystery of Christ. Whereas the Indian Christ-Initiate could but present a reflected radiance of this Mystery in signs and symbols, such power of ideation as he had been able to attain by his own effort being inadequate to comprehend it. Nevertheless, out of the union of the seven Teachers there arose in a sublime Wisdom-picture a knowledge of the supersensible world, only single parts of which had been able to be revealed in the ancient Atlantean Oracle. The Guiding Powers of the great cosmic world were unveiled; men learned, as it were in whispered tones, of the one great Sun Spirit, the Hidden One, enthroned above the Spirits who manifested through the seven Teachers.
What is here to be understood by the term “ancient India” is not coincident with what the words are generally taken to mean. Of the time of which we are speaking no outer documentary records exist. The people now commonly known as Indians belong to a stage of historic evolution which developed long afterwards. We have thus to recognize a first post-Atlantean period of the Earth, in which the civilization here described as Indian was dominant. After it a second post-Atlantean period took shape, in which the civilization hereafter referred to as the ancient Persian became dominant. Still later, there evolved the Egypto-Chaldean civilization, also to be described in the following pages. During the development of these second and third post-Atlantean culture-epochs, ancient India lived through a second and a third epoch of its own, and the third is the one usually spoken of as “ancient India.” We must accordingly not confuse it with the description given here.
Another feature of the ancient Indian culture was what subsequently led to the division of men into castes. The dwellers in ancient India were descendants of Atlanteans who belonged to the diverse kinds of humanity — Saturn men, Jupiter men, etc. The supersensible teachings they received made it quite plain to them that a soul has not been placed by chance into this or that caste, but by its own self-determination.
Nor was it difficult for the men of ancient India to accept this teaching, inasmuch as in many of them what has been described as “inner harmony” of their ancestors could still be called to life. Such memories were, however, also apt to lead all too easily to a mistaken idea of reincarnation. As in the Atlantean age, it had been through the Initiates alone that the true idea of reincarnation could be attained, similarly in ancient India it was attainable only by direct contact with the great Teachers. And it is undeniable that the erroneous idea became widely prevalent among the peoples who were scattered over Europe, Asia and Africa in consequence of the downfall of Atlantis. The Initiates who had gone astray during the Atlantean evolution had communicated this secret too to immature persons, and so it came to pass that men tended increasingly to confuse the true idea with the mistaken one. It must not be forgotten that a kind of dim clairvoyance had remained to these people as a heritage from Atlantean time. As the Atlanteans had in sleep entered into the region of the spiritual world, so did their descendants experience the same spiritual world in abnormal states, intermediate between sleeping and waking. Pictures then arose in them of that olden time to which their ancestors had belonged; and they believed themselves reincarnations of human beings of that time. Teachings on reincarnation, that were incompatible with the true ideas possessed by the Initiates, spread over the whole Earth.
As a result of the prolonged migrations from West to East ever since the beginning of the Atlantean catastrophe, a group of peoples had settled in the regions of Western Asia, the descendants of whom are known to history as the Persians and kindred races. Supersensible knowledge must however look back to far earlier times than those of which history tells. We are here concerned with very early forefathers of the later Persians. Among these arose, following upon the Indian, the second great civilization-epoch of post-Atlantean evolution. The people of this epoch had a different task. Their longs and inclinations were not directed solely to the supersensible world. They were a people well fitted for the physical world of the senses. They learned to love the Earth. They valued what man can win for himself on Earth and what he can then also acquire by making use of its forces. Their achievements as a warlike nation and the means they invented to possess themselves of the treasures of the Earth, correspond with this trait in their character. Theirs was not the danger of yearning so intensely for the supersensible as to turn right away from the “illusion” of the physical world. Rather they were in danger of cherishing so strong a feeling for this physical world that their souls might lose all connection with the world of the supersensible. The Oracle-sanctuaries too, which had been transplanted hither from the ancient land of Atlantis, shared in the general character of the people. Of all the forces which men had once been able to acquire by conscious experience in the supersensible world and which — in certain lower forms — were still at their command, this people cultivated the power so to direct the phenomena of Nature that these may serve the personal interests of man. They still possessed great power over Nature-forces that subsequently withdrew from the control of human will. The Guardians of the Oracles were in command of inner forces connected with fire and other elements. They may indeed rightly be called magicians. The heritage of supersensible knowledge and supersensible forces which they had preserved from ancient times was feeble, no doubt, compared with what men had been able to attain in the far distant past. Nevertheless, it found expression in a multitude of forms, from noble arts which had in mind only the true weal of man, down to the most abominable practices. The Luciferian nature worked in these men in a peculiar way. It had brought them into connection with all that can divert man from the intentions of those higher Beings who, had Lucifer not intervened, would have had the sole guidance of human evolution. Some of them, who were still gifted with relics of the old clairvoyance that belonged to the condition between waking and sleeping, felt themselves strongly attracted to the lower beings of the spiritual world. A strong spiritual impulse needed to be given to this whole people, to counteract these qualities in their character. From the same fountain-head from which the ancient Indian spiritual life had proceeded, a leader was given them by the Keeper of the secrets of the Sun Oracle.
The leader, whom the Guardian of the Sun Oracle assigned to the ancient Persian spiritual culture, may be called by the name that is familiar to us in history as Zoroaster or Zarathustra. It must however be emphasized that he belonged to a far earlier time than history attributes to the bearer of the name. Here, as you know, we are not concerned with outer historical research, but with spiritual science. Whoever feels bound to associate the bearer of the name Zarathustra with a later date, will be able to find himself in harmony with what spiritual science tells, when he realizes that he is thinking of a successor of the first great Zarathustra — one who took his name and labored in the spirit of his teaching.
The impulse Zarathustra had to give to his people may be described as follows. He showed them that the world of the physical senses is not void of spirit, as it appears to be when man allows himself to fall exclusively under the influence of the Lucifer Being. To this Being man owes his personal independence and his sense of freedom, but Lucifer has to work in him in harmony with the opposite spiritual Being. For the ancient Persians it was of first importance that they should keep alive their feeling for this opposite spiritual Being. Owing to their inclination to the physical world they were in danger of merging altogether into the Luciferian beings. Now Zarathustra had received form the Guardian of the Sun Oracle an Initiation that made it possible for the revelations of the sublime Beings of the Sun to be vouchsafed him. In special states of consciousness, to which he had been brought by his training, he could behold the Leader of the Sun Beings, who had taken the human life-body under His protection in the way that has been described. He knew that this Being had charge of the spiritual guidance of the evolution of mankind, but that the right time must be awaited before He would be able to descend from cosmic space on to the Earth. To this end it was necessary that He should be able to live in the astral body of a human being, even as He had worked in the life-body since the entry of the Luciferic influence. A human being must appear on Earth who had restored the astral body to a stage of development such as it would have attained, had it not been or Lucifer, at an earlier point of time — namely at the middle of the Atlantean evolution. Had Lucifer not come, man would have attained this stage more quickly, but without personal independence and without the possibility of inner freedom. Now he as to reach it even with the possession of these qualities.
Zarathustra in his moments of vision foresaw that a time would come in man's evolution when there would be a human being possessing an astral body of this kind. He knew also that until that time the spiritual forces of the Sun could not be found on Earth, but that supersensible vision could perceive them within the spiritual realm of the Sun; he himself could behold them when he looked upward to the Sun with the eye of seership. And he proclaimed to his people the nature of these forces which, although in the meantime they are discoverable in the spiritual world alone, are yet destined in the future to descend to Earth. Such was Zarathustra's prophecy of the great Sun Spirit of Spirit of Light (Ahura Mazdao, Ormuzd, the Aura of the Sun.) To Zarathustra and his disciples the Spirit of Light revealed Himself as the Being who from the spiritual world inclines His countenance to man and works within mankind, preparing the future. It was the Spirit revealing the nature of Christ before His appearance upon Earth, whom Zarathustra proclaimed as the Spirit of Light. In Ahriman (Angra mainyu) on the other hand, he described a Power whose influence, if man blindly gives himself up to it, works harmfully upon the life of soul. This Power is none other than the one described above, who had attained particular dominion on the Earth since the betrayal of the Vulcan secrets.
Together with his message of the God of Light, Zarathustra taught also of those spiritual Beings who are revealed to the pure vision of the seer as the companions of the Light-Spirit, in contrast to the tempters who become manifest to the unpurified remnants of the clairvoyance preserved from Atlantean time. For it had to be made clear to the Persian people of that olden time, how in the soul of man, in so far as he directs his energy to doing work in the physical world, a battle is raging between the power of the God of Light and the power of His Opponent; and man had to be shown how he must bear himself, so that the Adversary may not lead him down to the abyss, but on the contrary his evil influence be turned to good by the forces of the God of Light.
A third civilization-epoch of post Atlantean time was born among people who in the great migrations had eventually come together in Asia Minor and Northern Africa. It evolved among the Chaldeans, Babylonians and Assyrians on the one hand, and among the Egyptians on the other. In these people the feeling for the physical world was developed in still another way than in the ancient Persians. They had received far more than other people of the spiritual predisposition which provides the right foundation for the development of thought, of that gift of intelligence that had begun to manifest in man since later Atlantean times. It is, as we know, the essential task of post-Atlantean mankind to unfold those faculties of soul which can be gained through awakened forces of thought and mind and feeling, forces not stimulated directly by the spiritual world, but arising out of the fact that man observes the world of sense, lives his way into it and works upon it. The conquest of the physical world by his own human faculties must be regarded as the mission of post-Atlantean man. Stage by stage the conquest advances. Even in ancient India the condition of man's soul was already such as to direct his attention to this world; but he still regarded it as illusion, and his spirit inclined towards the supersensible world. The ancient Persian people made the endeavor to conquer this physical world of the senses. To a large extent, however, they still relied on forces of soul that remained to them as heritage from a time when man was able to reach right up into the supersensible world. In the peoples of the third epoch, these supersensible faculties were by then in great measure lost to the soul. Man had now to search out in the world of sense that lay around him the manifestations of the Spiritual and continue his soul's development by discovering and inventing the means of civilization in what this world provides.
As man learned to elicit from the physical world of sense the laws of the Spiritual that underlies it, the sciences came into being; and as he came to recognize and manipulate the forces of this world, arts and crafts arose; man began to have his tools and his technique. To a man of the Chaldean and Babylonian peoples the world of the senses was no longer an illusion. In its various kingdoms, in mountain and ocean, in wind and water, it was a revelation of the spiritual deeds of Powers that were there behind it, whose laws he was studying to apprehend. To the Egyptian, the Earth was a field for his labor, given to him in a condition which it was his task so to transform by his own faculties of intelligence, that it might bear the stamp of man's ascendancy. The sanctuaries which had been transplanted from Atlantis into Egypt came chiefly from the Oracle of Mercury. There were, however, also others — Venus Oracles for instance. Into all that could be nurtured in the Egyptian people from these sacred places, a new seed of civilization was implanted. This was the work of a great leader, who had been trained within the Persian Mysteries of Zarathustra. (He was the reincarnation of a disciple of the great Zarathustra.) We may call him Hermes, taking once more an historic name. What he received form the Zarathustra Mysteries, enabled Hermes to find the right way of giving guidance to the Egyptian people In their life on Earth between birth and death they had been turning their minds towards the physical world so as to recognize in it the laws and workings of the underlying Spirit-world, but their immediate vision of the latter was decidedly restricted. The spiritual world could not therefore be described to them as a world into which they might find their way while living on Earth. In place of this, however, they could be shown how in the body-free condition after death man would be living in the world of Spirit-beings who during his time on Earth appear through their counterparts in the physical and sense-perceptible realm. Hermes taught them: In so far as man employs his forces upon Earth to work in it in accordance with the aims of the Spirit Powers, he fits himself to be united with these Powers after death; and those who between birth and death have worked the most zealously in this direction, will be united with Osiris, even with the sublime Being of the Sun.
On the Chaldean and Babylonian side of this stream of civilization, the inclination of men's minds towards the physical and sensible was stronger than it was on the Egyptian. They investigated the laws of this world; and although they turned their gaze from the sense-perceptible images or prototypes to the spiritual archetypes, these peoples remained in many ways entangled in the world of sense. Instead of the Spirit of the star, the star itself was placed in the foreground; instead of other Spirit-beings, their earthly images or idols. It was only the leaders who attained genuine and deep knowledge of the laws of the supersensible world and of its connection with the sensible. More so than anywhere else did a contrast make itself felt here between the wisdom of the Initiates and the mistaken beliefs of the people.
Utterly different were the conditions that prevailed in those regions of Southern Europe and Western Asia where the fourth post-Atlantean epoch of civilization grew and blossomed. We may define it as the Graeco-Latin epoch. In these countries, descendants of human beings from the most diverse regions of the more ancient world had come together. Here were Oracle-sanctuaries, successors to the various Atlantean Oracles. Here too were men who inherited as a natural gift fragments of old clairvoyance, and others who by special training could with comparative ease attain the same. At select places not only were the traditions of the old Initiates preserved, but worthy successors to them arose, and the disciples who were trained by these were able to rise to high levels of seership. Moreover these people had in them an impulse to create within the world of sense a realm which should express the spiritual in the physical in perfect form. Among many other things, Greek Art was an outcome of this impulse. We have only to look with the eye of the spirit at a Grecian temple, and we can perceive how in this wonder-work of Art the sense-perceptible material has been so formed and fashioned by man that in its every detail it gives expression to the spiritual. The Grecian temple is a veritable “home of the spirit.” In its forms we behold what can otherwise be apprehended only by the spirit-vision of one who sees the supersensible. A temple of Zeus (or Jupiter) was so formed as to present to the outer eye a visible worthy abode for what the Guardian of the Zeus (or Jupiter) Initiation saw with the eye of the spirit. And it is the same with all the Art of Greece. The wisdom-treasures of the Initiates flowed by mysterious paths into the poets, artists and thinkers. In the cosmologies and philosophic edifices of the Greek thinkers we find again the secrets of the Initiates, in the form of concepts and ideas.
Manifold influences of the spiritual life — secrets of Asiatic and African places of Initiation — found their way into these peoples and their leaders. The great teachers of India, the associates of Zarathustra, the followers of Hermes, had all of them trained up disciples; and these disciples, or their successors, now founded places of Initiation in which the old wisdom-treasures came to life again in a new form. Such were the “Mysteries” of antiquity. Here pupils were prepared, so as to be brought in due time into those states of consciousness where they could attain vision into the spiritual world. (Some details concerning these Mysteries of antiquity will be found in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact. More will also be said about them in later chapters of the present work.) From these centers of Initiation flowed treasures of wisdom to those who in Asia Minor, in Greece and in Italy guarded the spiritual secrets. Within the Grecian world important centers of Initiation arose in the Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries. In the Pythagorean School of Wisdom the mighty wisdom-teachings and methods of primeval times worked on. Pythagoras himself had in course of his great journeys been initiated into the secrets of the most diverse Mysteries.