The Michael Mystery
XXIV. Man in his Macrocosmic Being
The Cosmos reveals itself to Man in the first instance from two sides — the Earth, and outside the Earth the Universe of Stars.
To Earth and her forces Man feels himself related. Life teaches him this relationship with great distinctness.
Not in the same way does he feel himself, in the present age, related to the Star-World about him. This however only lasts so long as he remains unconscious of his ether-body. To lay hold of the ether-body in Imaginations, is to acquire the same feeling of kinship with the starry Universe as one has through the consciousness of the physical body with the Earth.
But along with the ether-forces that rain down upon the Earth from the circumference of the Cosmos there come also those cosmic impulses which work in the astral body of Man.
The ether is like an ocean, on whose waves from all sides out of farthest worlds the astral forces come sailing to the Earth.
In the present cosmic age however, it is only the mineral and the vegetable kingdoms that can come into direct relation with this astral life streaming in on to the Earth upon the waves of the ether; not the animal kingdom, nor the human kingdom.
With the animal kingdom, spiritual observation shows that what is at work in the embryo is not the astral life at the present day flowing to the Earth, but that which flowed into it long ago, in the old Moon-Age.
With the vegetable kingdom, one can see how its manifold, marvelous forms are being shaped by the astral influences, as they separate themselves out of the ether and hover over the plant-world.
With the animal world, one can see how, from out of the spirit-sphere, astral forces of old times, that were active long ago — during the old Moon-Age of evolution — have been preserved and are now at work. They work as old, preserved forces, which remain at the present day altogether in the spirit-world, and do not come out into the ether-world.
This form of astral influence is, moreover, transmitted by the present Moon-forces, which have themselves remained over from the previous stage of the Earth.
We have then, in the animal kingdom, the result of impulses which in the previous evolutionary stage of the Earth manifested themselves externally as elements of Nature, whereas in the present cosmic age they have withdrawn into the spirit-world which flows with active force through the Earth.
Now it is seen by spiritual observation that for the permeation of the physical and ether-bodies with the astral body in the animal kingdom, the forces that are of importance are solely these astral forces which have been preserved from an earlier time in the present life of Earth; but that, once the animal has his astral body, then the Sun-impulses begin to be active in it. The Sun-forces can give the animal nothing for his astral life; nevertheless, when once this is in the animal, they are required to provide for growth, nutrition, etc.
With the kingdom of Man it is otherwise. This too receives its astral element in the first place from the old, preserved Moon-forces. But the Sun-forces have in them astral impulses which remain ineffective for the animal kingdom, but which in the human astral continue to act in the same manner as the Moon-forces acted when Man was first permeated with astrality.
In the astral body of the animal can be seen the Moon-world. In the astral body of the human being can be seen the harmonious accord of the Sun-and Moon-worlds.
It is this Sun-like power in the human astral body which makes it possible for Man to take up into himself the outward-radiating spiritual force that is in the Earth and use it for the development of his self-consciousness. Whatever is astral, flows from the circumference of the Universe. It acts either as a stream flowing in at the present time, or as one that flowed in in olden times and has been preserved. On the other hand, everything which has to do with giving shape to the I, as bearer of individual self-consciousness, must radiate from a Star-center. The Astral works from the circumference; everything of the I-kind from a central point. The Earth, as a Star, from its center gives the impulse for the human I. Every star from its center radiates forces by which the I of some being or other is shaped.
This shows the polarity between Star-Center and Cosmic Circumference.
The description shows at the same time that the animal kingdom lives on to-day as a product of earlier forces, which once had to do with the evolution of the Earth. It exists by drawing on the preserved store of old astral forces and must disappear on the preserved store of old astral forces and must disappear when these are exhausted. In Man, on the contrary, new astral forces come in, that are drawn from the Sun-Power. These make it possible for him to carry on his evolution into the future.
It is not possible — as all this shows — to understand Man in his own special form of being, unless one recognizes his connection with the whole Star-life as clearly as his connection with the Earth.
Even what Man receives from the Earth for the development of his Self-consciousness, proceeds from the action of the spirit-world within the earthly sphere. That the Sun-Power can give Man what he needs for his astral life, is the result of influences that were active during the old Sun-Age. It was then that the Earth received the capacity to develop the I-impulses of mankind. It is the spiritual part which the Earth has preserved within her from the old Sun-life, and which is kept from dying out by the sun influences of the present day.
The Earth herself was once Sun. Then she passed over into a spiritual form. In the present cosmic age, what is ‘Sun’ works from without. This Sun-influence from without is a spring of ever-renewing youth to those spirit-forces from an earlier age which are wearing old. At the same time, as an active force of the Present, this Sun-influence keeps what is of the Past from falling into Lucifer's domain. For whatever continues to work on as an influence from the Past, without being taken up into the forces of the Present, falls a prey to Lucifer.
Man's feeling of his own intimate connection with the extra-terrestrial Cosmos may be said, in this cosmic age, to be so dulled, that he is not aware of it in his consciousness. It is not only dulled, it is ‘deafened’ by the feeling of his intimate connection with the sphere of Earth. Because Man's consciousness of his individual Self must be learnt in the sphere of Earth, he begins the age of the Spiritual Soul by growing so closely involved with this earthly sphere, that it exerts a much stronger influence over him than is compatible with the course which his soul-life should rightly take. Man is, as it were, deafened, dazed by the impressions of the sense-world. Overpowered by their clamour, he fails to call up the free, active Thinking, that has life in itself.
The whole time, from the middle of the nineteenth century on, was a period of being dazed and deafened by the loudness of the sense-impressions. It has been the Great Illusion of this period, that in it people took this over-powerful life of the senses to be the right one — a life of sense which was doing its best to blot out all life in the non-earthly, extra-terrestrial Cosmos.
Into this dazed condition the Ahrimanic powers could come in and work their will. Lucifer was more held in check by the Sun-forces than Ahriman. Ahriman was in a position to arouse — notably amongst the men of science — the dangerous notion that Ideas are only applicable to the impressions of the senses. Accordingly it is just in these circles that Anthroposophy meets with but little understanding. Faced with the results of Spiritual Science, they try to understand them with their ideas. But these ideas cannot comprehend the Spiritual, because their inherent, living knowledge is deafened and over-powered by the ahrimanized science of the senses. And so people take alarm, and think they would be committing themselves to a blind belief in authority if they were to enter seriously upon the results obtained by the spiritual seer.
Darker and darker grew the extra-terrestrial Cosmos for human consciousness in the second half of the nineteenth century.
When Man again grows able to realize the life of Ideas within him, even when not supporting himself and them upon the world of Sense, then, to the eyes of the enquirer an answering light will stream again from the Cosmos beyond the realm of Earth. And this is to make acquaintance with Michael and his kingdom.
When a time comes, when the Festival of Michael in the autumn fall will be kept in truth and inwardness — then, in the feelings of those that keep the festival there will arise with innermost sincerity, as ‘leit-motif,’ this strain and live in men's consciousness: In the fullness of Ideas the soul experiences spirit-light, even when the outward show of the senses linger but as memory in the mind of man.
When, with some such tone of mind as this, Man can celebrate the Michael Festival, after it he will be able worthily to enter again into the world of the senses. And Ahriman will be unable to harm him.
With the beginning of the Age of Consciousness, dullness came over Man's feeling of his connection with the extra-terrestrial Cosmos. On the other hand, his feeling of connection with the Earth, through his life in sense-impressions, grew so strong — more especially with the men of science — as to amount to a dazed and benumbed condition.
In this condition the working of the Ahrimanic Powers is peculiarly dangerous; for Man lives under the illusion that this overpowering life in sense-impressions is the right thing and a real step forward in evolution.
Man must find the power to shed light through his world of Ideas and to live in these Ideas as in a world of light, even when unsupported by the clamorous world of the senses. In this living inner realization of the self-dependent — and, in their self-dependence, luminous — world of Ideas, will awake the feeling of Man's connection with the non-earthly, outer Cosmos. A foundation will thus be laid for Festivals of Michael.