The Michael Mystery
XIV. A Christmas Contemplation: the Mystery of the Logos
Into our contemplation of the Michael Mystery there shone like a ray of light the Mystery of Golgotha. This arose of itself, from the fact that Michael is the power that guides Man in the most helpful and wholesome way to the Christ.
But Michael's mission is of a kind which repeats itself in rhythmic succession during the cosmic evolution of mankind. Its beneficent influence had been repeatedly exerted upon mankind on earth, before the Mystery of Golgotha. Then, it was engaged in everything that the Christ Power — being then still outside the earth — required to manifest in acts for the education of mankind to earthly life. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, it serves in aid of that which must be accomplished by the Christ amongst men on earth. It appears in its repetitions each time in an altered and advanced form — but in repetition.
In contrast to this, the Mystery of Golgotha is a unique all-overreaching cosmic event, that only takes place once in the course of mankind's whole cosmic evolution.
So soon as mankind has progressed to the development of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, there comes for the first time into full force the ever constant danger of that occurring, for which indeed the predispositions had been laid in the beginning of time, namely, that the Being of Mankind would separate and fall away from the Divine, Spiritual Being.
And in the same measure as the human soul loses her fellowship with the life of the divine, spiritual beings, there emerges round about her what to-day we call the world of Nature.
Man no longer sees his own living humanity in the divine and spiritual Cosmos, he sees the lifeless work of divine spirit in the earthly world. He sees it at first, not in the abstract form in which we see it to-day, as sensibly physical begins and events, held together by that abstract thread of ideas which we call Natural Law; he sees it as an ocean of divine, spiritual being. In all that he beholds — in the rise and wane of life in the creatures of the animal world, in the growth and budding of the plants, in springing fountain and flowing stream, in the gatherings of wind and cloud — he sees the heaving and falling billows of this ocean of divine, spiritual Being. All these many shapes of life and doing round about him are to him the gestures, the acts, are to him the language of the gods, of that divine Being which underlies the world of ‘Nature.’
As, at an earlier time, Man had watched the stations and motions of the stars, and seen therein the gestures, the acts,, of the World-Divinities, and read therein their words, so, now, the ‘facts of Nature’ became the verbal expression for the Earth-Goddess. For the Divinity at work in Nature was pictured in woman's form.
Remnants of this kind of mental picturing remained as an imaginative content of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, and occupied men's souls until late into the Middle Ages.
Those ‘who knew,’ the ‘savants,’ talked of the acts of the Goddess, when they wanted to bring the ‘process of Nature’ to men's comprehension. Only with the gradual ascendance of the Spiritual Soul did this view of a living, inwardly soul-endowed Nature grow incomprehensible to mankind.
The whole manner of viewing such things during the age of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, recalls to mind the Myth of Persephone and the Mystery on which it is founded.
Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is forced by the God of the Underworld to accompany him down into his kingdom. This is finally settled in the form that she spends half of the year only in the underworld, and dwells in the upper world during the other half.
Grandly and powerfully does this myth still express the manner in which men once — in ages long gone past — had looked into the waxing, waning life of the earthly world and read what was behind it.
All active impulses in the world proceeded in ancient times from the cosmic environment round about the Earth. The Earth herself was only just coming into being. she built up her life-form amidst the cosmic evolution from the forces at work in her surroundings. The divine Spirit-Beings of the Cosmos were the active shapers of Earth's being.
And when the Earth was far enough advanced to become a self-existing cosmic body, then divine spiritual being descended upon her from the universal Cosmos, and became earthly divinity. This was a cosmic fact, perceived and recognized by the dreamlike clairvoyance of ancient Man. Of this perceptive science there has remained the Myth of Persephone. But what also has remained is the manner in which deep into the Middle Ages, men endeavoured with their science to penetrate the secrets of ‘Nature.’ For they directed their gaze then, not as later, towards the impressions of the senses, that is, towards what shows upon the surface of the earthly world, but rather towards those active forces that work up on to the surface from the Earth's inner depths. And these forces of the Deep, these ‘Powers of the Underworld,’ they saw acting in alternation with the action of the Stars and the elemental forces of the Earth's environment.
There they see the Plants, growing in all their manifold forms, displaying themselves in their gay show of many colours. There, through it all, are at work the forces of Sun, Moon and Stars in conjunction with the forces of the Earth's depths. The foundation is laid by the Minerals; their whole form of being bears the character of earthly descent from World-Beings. The stony rock thrusts itself up from the ‘underworld’ by the strength alone of earthly forces, that once were heavenly ones. The Animal world has not borrowed from Earth the forces of ‘the Depths.’ It is brought into life solely by the World-Forces that work from round about, out of the earth's surroundings. Its beginnings, its growth, its fresh-fledged life, its faculties of nourishment, its powers of motion — all these it owes to the forces that rain from the Sun without upon the Earth within. It propagates its kind under the influences of the Moon-forces which fall from without upon the Earth. It makes its appearance in many shapes and kinds, because of the Stars, which from their different positions in the wide universe work from without upon animal life and give it form. But the animals are merely set down by the universe upon earth. Only with their dim, dull life of consciousness do they take any part in the earthly world; in their beginnings, their growth, in all that they are, so as to perceive and move about, they are no creatures of the earth.
This grandly constructed idea of the making of the earth was once living amongst men. From what still remains of it, towering over into the Middle Ages, it is only possible to gain but a very faint notion of the grand lines of the structure. To arrive at a true notion of it one must go back, and see with the knowledge of vision into very ancient times. For even with the physically existent documents, what existed in the souls of men is perceptible to him alone, who can read them with the eye of the Spirit.
Now Man is not in a position to keep so far aloof from the earth as do the creatures of the animal world. To say this is to touch upon the mystery both of mankind and of animal-kind. These mysteries are reflected in the animal-worship of the ancient peoples, more especially of the Egyptians. They saw in the animals beings who are guests upon earth, in whom may be visibly beheld the being and doing of that other, spiritual world which borders on the earthly one. And in the combination of the human with the animal form, as represented in their images, they brought presently before them the figures of those intermediate beings of the elemental world, who are on the road to humanity in the course of the world's evolution, but who never enter the earth-region, so that they may not become men. These intermediate elemental beings actually exist. The Egyptians were only reproducing what they saw, when they made images of them. Such beings however have not the full Self-consciousness of Man.
To attain to this Self-consciousness, it was necessary for Man to set foot so thoroughly in the terrestrial world that he took up something of the earth's being into his own being. It was necessary for him to be exposed to the fact that in this earthly world he as before him the work wrought by those divine spiritual beings with whom he is associated — but their wrought work only. And because it is only the wrought work — the finished work, detached from its origin — the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Beings have access to it. The result is that Man is under the necessity of making this finished work of the Gods, pervaded as it is by Lucifer and Ahriman, the place in which to lead a portion — namely the earthly portion — of his own existence.
This is only possible without permanently breaking the tie between the human world and its divine spiritual origin, so long as Man has not yet reached the point of developing his Intellectual or Mind-Soul. At this point there takes place in Man a corruption of his physical, his etheric and his astral bodies. The science of an earlier time recognized this corruption as something actually existent in the human being. It was known to be a necessary element, in order that Consciousness may progress in Man to Self-consciousness. In the science cultivated in those places which were a form of Aristotelian teaching which rightly understood, contains in it this element of corruption as a vital part of its psychological doctrine; only that such ideas, later on, were no longer penetrated in their inner essence.
During the ages until the development of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, Man was nevertheless still so closely involved with the forces of his divinely spiritual origin that these forces were able, from their places in the cosmos, to hold in balance the powers of Lucifer and Ahriman by which he was beset on earth. On the part of Man himself, enough was done to help keep this balance, when in the ritual ceremonies of the Mysteries a picture was displayed of the Divine Spirit-Being's descent into the realm of Lucifer and Ahriman and his triumphant resurrection. In the times preceding the Mystery of Golgotha, we find accordingly, in the religious rites of the different peoples, pictorial representations of what then became — in the Mystery of Golgotha itself — a reality.
But when the Intellectual or Mind-Soul was evolved, nothing but the reality itself could any longer preserve Man's Being from separation from those divine Spirit-Beings to whom he belongs. Into the Intellectual or Mind-Soul so organized as to draw its life, whilst on Earth, from the earthly realm, the Divine must enter — even within this earthly realm — in very reality of Being. This was accomplished through the Divine Spiritual Logos, the Christ, who for the sake of mankind united His cosmic destiny with the Earth.
Persephone descended into the earthly realm to deliver the plant-world from being condemned to form itself out of the earthly realm only. This is the descent of a divine, spiritual being into earthly Nature. Persephone too has a kind of resurrection, but yearly, in rhythmic succession.
Over against this event, taking place as a cosmic process upon earth, there is the Descent of the Logos to save Mankind. Persephone comes down in order to bring the natural world into its original relation to the skies. What here takes place is based on Rhythm, for Nature's events proceed in rhythm. The Logos came down into Mankind. This happens but once during the evolution of Mankind. For this evolution forms one part only of a gigantic World-Rhythm, in which Mankind, before its life ‘as Man,’ was something quite different from Mankind, and afterwards will again be different. Whereas plant-life repeats itself as such, over and over again in short rhythms.
This is the light in which the Mystery of Golgotha must be seen; and men henceforth have need so to see it, now that the Age of Consciousness has begun. For even in the age of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, there was already the danger of Man losing his link, had not the Mystery of Golgotha intervened.
In the age of the Spiritual Soul, a complete darkening of the spiritual world would come over Man in his consciousness, if the Spiritual Soul could not gather sufficient strength to look back, in insight, to her divine, spiritual origin. But if the Soul can look back, then she finds in the World-Logos the Being who can lead her back. And she is filled through and through with the mighty image, revealing what took place on Golgotha.
And the beginning of this understanding is a loving comprehension of the World-Christmas, which every year is celebrated in Remembrance. For the Spiritual Soul, that beings with the reception of cold intellectuality, goes on to gather the needful strength, when into this Intellect, that warm Love, of which the stream flows most nobly and purely when it is turned towards the Child Jesus, who in the World's Christmas Holy-Night appears on Earth. Then Man has opened his soul to the influence of the highest of all spiritual facts on Earth, which is also a physical fact. He has set out on the way that ends by receiving the Christ into himself.
In the world of Nature, a true Science will behold in Persephone — or that being to whom men's eyes still turned in the early middle ages, when they spoke of ‘Nature’ — the natural revelation of that primal and eternal divine spiritual power, out of which the natural world arose, and continuously arises as the groundwork of Man's earthly existence.
In the world of Man, a true Science will behold in Christ the human revelation of that primal and eternal Logos, who in the realm of the Divine Spiritual Being, with whom Man is in his origin united, works for the evolution of the Spirit-Being of Man.
To turn the human heart in Love towards these great cosmic connections — this is the real celebration of that Feast of Remembrance which meets Man every year, when he gazes on the World's Christ-Mass, the Holy Night. When Love such as this dwells in human hearts, it fires with its warmth the Spiritual Soul's cold element of Light. Were the Spiritual Soul condemned to remain unwarmed by such fire, Man could never attain to its transformation in the Spirit. He would either perish in the cold of intellectual consciousness, or would be condemned to remain in a form of spiritual life which never progresses to the evolution of the Spiritual Soul. He would then stop short with the evolution of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul.
But the Spiritual Soul is not, of its own being, cold. It only appears so at the beginning of its evolution; because at the beginning it can only display the Light-element that is in it, and not as yet the World-Warmth, from which it nevertheless proceeds.
To feel Christmas and inwardly to keep it in this fashion, can make present in the soul how the Glory of the divine Spirit Beings, who reveal their image in the star-expanses, is proclaimed before Man, and how the deliverance of Man is accomplished in the fields of Earth from those powers who would draw him away from his source and origin.
That form of activity, which is introduced by the Michael Forces into the evolution of the World and Man, repeats itself rhythmically — though each time in altered and progressive form — both before and after the Mystery of Golgotha.
The Mystery of Golgotha is the unique, only once occurring, greatest event in the course of human evolution. It is impossible here to speak of any rhythmic repetition. For although this human evolution is part of a gigantic world-rhythm, yet it is only one single, widely drawn out part of this gigantic rhythm. Before it became this single part, Mankind was something else, essentially other than Mankind. Afterwards, Michael will again be something else. In the course of human evolution, therefore, many Michael Events take place, but only one Event of Golgotha.
In the swift, rhythmic repetition of a year's cycle, the process of Nature is accomplished by that divine Spirit-Being who descended into the depths of Earth in order to carry the spirit into this natural process. This Being represents the ensouling of the natural world with those primal and eternal forces which must continue to work in Nature, even as the Christ in His descent represents the ensouling of Mankind with the primal and eternal Logos, whose work shall never cease its efficacy for Mankind's salvation.