Festivals of the Seasons
15. Easter and Whitsuntide III
22 May 1915, Dornach
It is hardly possible this year, to give a Whitsuntide lecture in the true sense of the word. Let us consider the essential character of Whitsuntide as depicted in that document of Christianity, the New Testament. We shall find that the outstanding feature of that Whitsun Festival was the pouring forth of the Spirit upon certain men called the Apostles. As a result of this outpouring of the Spirit, (so we learn from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles), men assembled together at that Whitsuntide, ten days after the so-called Ascension, all speaking the most varied languages, and understanding each one for himself the news proclaimed to him so thoroughly, that the language sounded quite familiar to him, although it is expressly stated that each man could only speak his mother tongue. Thus the pouring forth of the Spirit at Whitsuntide appears as the outpouring of the Spirit of Love, Concord and Harmony upon all those who, assembled together from every comer of the earth, all spoke different languages. Or perhaps in order to catch the exact purport of the Bible words it would be better to express it thus: The message of the Whitsuntide revelation was so in tune with the human heart that each man could understand it, although he knew no other language than his own.
But this year, in nearly every case, the exact opposite of this is taking place in the world around us at this Whitsuntide. If only an interpretation might be vouchsafed, that we might know the meaning of this Whitsun revelation! We only need to reflect, that the world nineteen centuries after this Whitsun revelation has understood this Whitsun revelation in such a way, that this present Whitsuntide sees thirty-four nations speaking different languages, at war with one another, and therefore, in a sense, in complete contradiction to the spirit of the Whitsuntide Feast. Perhaps this question of language shows, at least to a certain extent, how the spirit of understanding has passed away from mankind, how that first Whitsun revelation has not as yet spread over the whole earth in a sufficiently penetrating and convincing manner, how it has not yet seized upon the souls of men. Perhaps that is the reason why it is now necessary that that revelation should speak to the souls of men under a new form, should speak more clearly, more urgently than it has done as yet, so that for the future its true meaning may be understood aright.
So then this year in the light of our Whitsuntide considerations, let us take up a more universal standpoint, a point of view which from a certain side will bring us nearer to the new Whitsuntide revelation, by this I mean Spiritual Science. For we must regard what we have learnt during those lectures as a "Whitsuntide revelation to humanity; we must accept Spiritual Science as a Whitsuntide revelation.
Let us consider now what wo know of the Mystery of Golgotha and allow this knowledge to sink deeply into our souls. What is the essential part of the Mystery of Golgotha? It is this. That a Spiritual Being who, as we know, belonged to the cosmic spheres, descended and underwent earthly fate and earthly life in a physical human body; that the Christ Being lived for three years in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. By that three years’ experience in tho body of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ Being has, since the Mystery of Golgotha, been united with what we call the Earth-Spirit, with what we term the Earth- Aura. Thus the whole of our earthly evolution is divided into two epochs of evolution. There was the period before the Mystery of Golgotha, during which the Christ Spirit could only be faintly perceived when man through initiation rose above the earthly sphere so that he no longer perceived what lies within the earthly sphere alone, but also that in which the Earth did not as yet participate, though predestined for a distant future. The other period is the time after the Mystery of Golgotha.
Since the Mystery of Golgotha we know that man with his spiritual nature does not need to leave the Earth, but that he can remain within the earthly sphere and participate within the earthly sphere in the Impulse of the Christ Being.
We must clear the ground a little here. It is true that through the ages up to our own time, a portion of humanity has always been aware that the Christ-Impulse had united itself to the Earth-existence. A great change has taken place in the universal human consciousness, especially of those people who have felt something of the Christ-Impulse. The soul was filled with the belief that Christ is with man and that the human soul can unite itself with Christ, that the human mind can participate during its Earth-existence with that which is impregnated with the living Christ-Impulse. But a comprehension of what the Christ-Impulse means in the universal Earth-existence in the evolution of humanity can only be brought home to the human soul by Spiritual Science. For this the knowledge is necessary of how this Christ-Impulse works in the human soul, so that two spiritual impulses may in a sense be made to balance one another.
This is represented by the group which will be placed at the east end of tho Goetheanum. There you will see the Representative of humanity, the Representative of man, in so far as he is capable of experiencing the profoundest, that which a man does experience when the Christ-Impulse is a living reality in his soul. The principal figure in the group at the east of the building may be called the Christ, yet it may also be called the Representative of the innermost soul of man in general. This Spirit, Who speaks through a human body, is seen in connection with two other spiritual Beings, Lucifer and Ahriman. In a standing position, the Representative of humanity expresses His connection with Lucifer and Ahriman. Everything about this figure must be characteristic. Above all, when this figure is erected later on, you will be able to notice that the gesture of the left hand which is raised, and the gesture of the right hand which is lowered, are very noteworthy. You will understand these gestures when you see that Lucifer is falling from the rocks above, towards the summit of which the Representative of humanity raises his left arm—Lucifer falls, because he has broken his wings. 1 Editorial Note. This group, designed and carved by Dr. Steiner, had not been placed in the Goetheanum when the fire broke out which destroyed the building.
Now it is easy to believe that his wings are broken by the force which flows from the arm of the Representative of man. It seems as though this force streamed out towards Lucifer and broke his wings. That, however, would be a false interpretation. And I hope we shall succeed in making such a false interpretation of the plastic representation impossible. For the point is, not that Lucifer’s wings are broken by something that streams forth from the Christ-permeated man, but that Lucifer experienced something within himself when he felt the presence of the Christ, which led to his breaking his wings. Because he cannot bear the Christ-Impulse, the Christ-strength, he breaks his own wings. This is an incident which has been caused not by a conflict between Christ and Lucifer, but it is an incident in the inner life of Lucifer himself, something which Lucifer himself must experience; and there must not be a moment’s doubt as to the fact that it would be impossible for Christ to feel either hatred or animosity against Lucifer—Christ is the Christ. He only fills the world-existence with equanimity, He joins battle with no might in the world; but when the might of Lucifer comes near His Presence, might must join battle with itself. Therefore, the raised left hand does not work aggressively, neither does the left side of the countenance with its strange expression, but it is a token that in the cosmic connections Christ has something to do with Lucifer. It has, however, nothing of the nature of a battle about it. The battle only originates in the soul of Lucifer himself, he breaks his own wings, they are not broken by Christ.
It is the same thing with Ahriman, who cowers in a hole in the rocks beneath the Christ-Man on the right, where the earth is driven upwards, where the material, is, as it were, driven into man, but cannot gain further strength and is crippled because the Christ-power is near.
Again, the Christ-strength which pulses and flows through the arm into the hand, betrays no hatred towards Ahriman, rather does Ahriman cripple himself and by means of what is passing, that which lies hidden in his soul— the gold in the veins of the earth—draws round him like chains so that he makes himself fetters of the earth-gold and forges them on to himself. He is not fettered by Christ; he forges fetters for himself, as soon as he experiences the nearness of Christ.
These are the original relations between the Beings, given in brief outline, and these must be realised before the Christ-Impulse can be truly comprehended by the human soul.
A very simple comparison will make the Christ-Impulse clear in an abstract way. Take a pendulum. The pendulum swings to one side and swings back again as far as it can of its own weight, and then again swings back towards the opposite side as far as it can, till it meets a point which we may designate as a balancing point. This point would be a dead point, a resting point, if the pendulum did not swing towards the opposite side. Life is a pendulum, because it swings backwards and forwards towards both sides and has a resting place in the middle.
It is thus that we must think of the earthly evolution since Golgotha. The pendulum swings out towards one side, the Luciferic side. Then again towards the other side—the Ahrimanic side. And the balancing point in the middle is Christ.
That the importance of this fact must be grasped, can be proved from a notable historical event. We all admire the picture painted by Michelangelo, called ‘The Last Judgment.’ You know it from reproductions of the original, which is preserved in the Sistine Chapel. In this picture we see the Christ, painted with consummate master-skill, Christ triumphant, judging men; sending some to hell to meet the wicked spirits,—others, the righteous, to heaven. If we study the face of this Christ, we see anger there—earthly anger—and if we have assimilated Spiritual Science, if we have really welded its contents with love into our own souls, we are forced to exclaim today—notwithstanding our admiration of the marvellous creation of Michelangelo—‘That is no Christ, for Christ does not judge men! They pass judgment upon themselves,—as in the case of Lucifer and Ahriman—they experience the results of their own deeds, not the result of any conflict carried on against them by Christ.’
In the days when Michelangelo created his Christ, the time had not arrived for the recognition of Christ in His full perfection. Men were still groping in the twilight, so to speak. They attributed to Christ qualities which we today know must be assigned to Lucifer or Ahriman. Thus, we today can understand why people have found something Luciferic or Ahrimanic in the Christ of Michelangelo. For Christ as there represented is not free from these attributes, whereas the true Christ is entirely without them.
At the stage of advancement in spiritual knowledge to which mankind had attained in those days, it was not possible to produce a picture of Christ which should portray a true understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. For, in the time of Michelangelo, the relationship existing between the Christ and Lucifer and Ahriman was not yet made known. Let us pause here and let this fact sink into our minds. Let us try and realise its full significance.
How often in our meetings have I emphasised the point that it shews a false perception to turn to Lucifer and say ‘I must fly from him,’ or to turn to Ahriman and say ‘I must fly from him.’ This attitude only means making terms with weakness. It would be forbidding the pendulum to swing backwards and forwards, wishing it to remain at rest for ever. We cannot escape the cosmic forces—by which I mean Lucifer and Ahriman—but we can adjust our position with regard to them. This we shall only be able to do when we understand the Christ-Impulse aright, when we recognise in the Christ Being the guide who will adjust our position with regard to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers, which must some day be world-powers.
Now let us consider what it is that Lucifer brings into the life of man. Lucifer brings sensation, passion. and everything connected with the life of the feelings and of the heart. How dry, insipid and abstract life would be without the pulsation of keen sensation and intense feeling. Let us glance at the evolution of history. What a power passion, ‘noble passion,’ as it is often termed (and rightly so), has been in history. What influence feeling and sensation have had. Nevertheless, we cannot foster feeling or sensation without entering the sphere of Lucifer. Therefore, we must never enter this sphere without the guidance of the Christ-Impulse.
On the other hand we see how necessary it is, especially in these modern times, to understand more and more about the world, to cultivate science, to obtain the mastery over the external forces of nature and of all that exists within them. In these domains Ahriman is ruler. We should indeed remain stupid and dull if we could escape from the Ahrimanic element. There should be no question of avoiding the Ahrimanic element, but on the contrary, of entering the sphere over which Ahriman reigns, under the guidance of the Christ-Impulse. We must not endeavour slothfully to find the resting-place, but must strive to share in the living movement of the world’s pendulum; only we must be careful while moving with it that we take no step without the guidance of the Christ-Impulse. Knowledge of Christ is not possible until the relationship which exists between the Christ-Impulse and the Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces is clearly understood by the human soul. This revelation of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence in the world is one of the tasks which the Spiritual Scientific movement must undertake, for it is aware that the Christ-Impulse is the foundation upon which it must take its stand. That is why you find nothing about the Ahrimanic and Luciferic elements in the non-Christian theosophical teaching; but they were bound to appear as soon as the Spiritual Scientific Movement began seriously and earnestly to reckon with the Christ-Impulse.
I think that it is, indeed, extraordinarily important for the human soul to feel that Spiritual Science has the task laid upon it of bringing something really new into the human consciousness; something so new that by means of it we are able to compare it with such a great human creation as that of the Christ in ‘The Last Judgment’ of Michelangelo. The knowledge which is coming to us from Spiritual Science must appear as the new Whitsuntide revelation, in the true sense of the words.
At Easter we saw how one of the greatest masters of modern times, Goethe, endeavoured to bring his Faust, the representative of humanity, into relationship with the Christ-Impulse. And we saw that Goethe in his youth was not able to do this; that only in his mature old age did he succeed. Thus, as we study the spiritual life through all its multifarious stages up to the present day, it appears to us as a struggle, an unceasing struggle. It really makes one extremely humble when one considers how the master minds of humanity have striven to gain some idea, some conception of the true significance of the Christ-Impulse. It is borne in upon us how very humble we should be in our human endeavour to obtain a knowledge of the Christ-Impulse.
As we have seen, Goethe made a great point of bringing the Luciferic and Ahrimanic elements, which are always working around man, into contact with Faust, his representative of humanity. And we have also seen that Goethe confused the Luciferic and Ahrimanic elements with one another in his figure of Mephistopheles, so that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the other therein. As we showed in the Easter Lectures, the Luciferic and Ahrimanic elements are confused and intermingled with one another in Mephistopheles, because at that time true understanding was as yet impossible for Goethe. Goethe had, in fact, during the whole of his life, been aware of the struggle going on within him to arrive at some understanding of the relationship of man to Lucifer and Ahriman. When Schiller asked him, at the end of the eighteenth century, to continue his Faust, Goethe reconsidered what he had written in his youth from the standpoint of his maturity and pronounced this work which he had put together at different times to be a hybrid—half-animal, half-man—thus it was that Faust appeared to him. He called his Faust, ‘a barbaric composition,’ in order to indicate the difficulty in going on with it. Here we have Goethe’s opinion of his own work! Goethe, who must have certainly known, better than his critics, said the Faust was a hybrid—half an animal, half a man—a barbaric composition 1
What I endeavoured to convey to you at Easter, which might very easily have been misunderstood, only leads back to the opinion of Goethe himself about his own work. Nevertheless, many learned men consider Faust to be a finished work of art, one which cannot be surpassed. This was not Goethe’s own opinion, neither can we accept it. Although we recognise in Faust a work of the very highest order, we must not evade the truth that the drama of Faust fails in its fundamental conception owing to Goethe’s mistake in confusing the personalities of Lucifer and Ahriman and blending them together into his figure of Mephistopheles.
But in spite of all this confusion Goethe was dimly aware that both Lucifer and Ahriman must appear. Only he mixed the two together and called the result Mephistopheles. Thus, in some of the scenes in Faust, Lucifer appears as Lucifer, whilst in others he appears as Mephistopheles or Ahriman. But Goethe was quite clear about one thing, viz:—that there is something that takes place in man under the influence of both Lucifer and Ahriman, of both Lucifer and Mephistopheles.
Let us consider the end of the first part of Goethe’s Faust. How does it end? Faust has loaded his soul with the blackest guilt imaginable; he has the life of a fellow-being upon his conscience. He has betrayed a fellow-creature. Here is sin indeed against himself and against a fellow-being!... The first part of Faust ends with the words, ‘Hither to me,’ pronounced by Mephistopheles, while at the same time a voice, appearing to come from heaven, cries faintly ‘Henry! Henry 1’ This ending to the first part of Faust tells us where Faust has arrived. He has fallen into the power of Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles has secured him. About that there is no possible doubt.
And now we come to the second part of Faust. The second part opens with a pleasing scene. ‘Faust is discovered lying on flowery turf, weary, restless, seeking sleep.’ Spirits appear; and from their songs we gather that it is spring time. Nature is in her most beautiful mood, even as she is today. To understand this mood we only need to go out of doors at this time of year. Nature at Whitsuntide! The Whitsuntide atmosphere I This Whitsuntide atmosphere works its effect upon Faust. And after a while he rises and continues his life-journey.
A certain scholar has drawn a conclusion from this incident, for which there is certainly something to be said, although it is philistine and pedantic. The scholar puts it thus: ‘If you have a heavy load of guilt upon your soul, as was the case with Faust after his treatment of Gretchen, retire to a pleasant spot, lie down on the flowery turf, make some mountain excursions, and your soul vail then be healed and ready for fresh deeds.’ Speaking from the realistic, Ahrimanic point of view, there is certainly something to be said for this conclusion drawn by this scholar—Rieger—for, really, to all those who hold the purely materialistic view so popular at the present day, the second part of Faust must be unendurable after the first part in which Faust is depicted as having loaded his soul with such a terrible burden of sin. Unfortunately this, the greatest epic of humanity, is not taken literally enough, for Faust is the greatest epic of humanity in so far as it concerns the human personality. If it were only taken literally people would know that ‘Hither to me,’ is true... Mephistopheles has got hold of Faust. Because of this, Faust is lying on flowery turf, restless, seeking sleep. We must not imagine that Faust is freed from the powers of hell at the beginning of Part II. But Goethe strove after true spiritual knowledge. How very near Goethe was to spiritual knowledge we gather from a sentence in a letter written by him to his friend, the musician, Zelter. A most remarkable sentence! Goethe wrote, ‘Consider that with each breath that we draw, an etheric stream of life permeates our whole being, so that for very joy we can scarcely remember our sorrow.’
With each breath that we draw, an etheric stream of life does indeed permeate our inner being—that means nothing less than that Goethe knew all about man’s etheric body. But in his day he naturally only spoke about this to his own circle of friends.
First let us be quite clear as to Goethe’s position with regard to human nature in general. He studied this human nature and said: this human nature is capable of sin, for something exists within it which is subject to Mephistophelian influence, something appertaining to Mephistopheles. When Goethe studied the human beings who belonged to this sphere, he also became aware that something exists in human nature which can never fall under this influence, something which will be protected from the Ahrimanic and Luciferic influence. This it is with which the second part of Faust deals; this something in human nature, which can be protected from the Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers. The man Faust, who was capable of sin, who had allowed himself to be led by Mephistopheles into the most trivial and commonplace pleasures of life, the man Faust who had betrayed Gretchen—had become a sinner. In our language we should say: this Faust would have to wait for the next reincarnation.
But there is a something in human nature which is a man’s higher self, and remains in communication with the spiritual powers of the world. The spiritual world-powers draw near to this eternal part in Faust. We must not think in a realistic way of Faust, as we see him at the beginning of Part II, simply as Faust become an older man. He really represents the higher self in Faust. His outward form is unchanged. But this outward form is now representative of that ‘something’ in Faust which could not fall into sin. This ‘something’ in Faust which could not fall into sin, now enters into relationship with the servants of the Earth-spirit.
From his youth upwards Goethe had been intensely anxious to be able to form some conception of human sin, of the evil in the world, and of what it is that floats over all, holding the balance against sin and evil. Thus Goethe, as he was to a certain extent forced to deliver up the one nature in Faust into the power of Mephistopheles (‘Hither to me’ ), ventured to turn to the other nature in Faust. We must be careful to make no mistake at this point. In the beginning of Part II the Faust who speaks is not the Faust whom wo met in Part I. It is another Faust, a second nature, who only outwardly bears the form of Faust, and who can participate in the spiritual which permeates our external world. Into that form, however, something must enter which has no immediate connection with the outward physical body of Faust, for the physical body retains, of course, so long as we remain in the same incarnation, all signs of the sins into which we have fallen. Perfect communion with the higher self can only be obtained by that within us which can make itself free of the physical body. Thus Faust has to undergo that transformation which we may term, ‘the transmutation of sin into higher knowledge.’ His sins he will have to carry with him into his next incarnation. In this earthly incarnation his guilt is the source of a higher knowledge which is opened to him, a more exact knowledge of life. Thus, the possibility of his higher self entering into connection with the spiritual forces which weave and interweave and permeate the world, opens out before Faust, notwithstanding that he bears on his soul a terrible load of guilt.
The higher self of Faust gets into communication with a spirit of the Earth-Aura. Goethe wished to convey at the same time, that the highest in man can never be seized by Mephistopheles (or, as we should say, by Lucifer-Ahriman). The highest is protected; it must be able to enter other spheres. Goethe meant it to be taken literally that this higher self in Faust could now communicate with the spiritual beings in the elemental world. We shall see to-morrow or the next day how this coincides with what I said in my Easter lectures. Now let us consider what relationship exists between these spiritual beings, which are under the leadership of the Air-spirit (for such is Ariel) and may thus be designated in general as Air-spirits—and the external events of nature. Let us see how they reveal themselves as a different order of spiritual beings from that of the self which in the super-earthly nature is not exposed to the influences of Lucifer and Ahriman.
‘When the spring-tide shower of blossom
Flutters down all men upon;
When on mortals from earth’s bosom
Smiles the fields’ green benison.’
Thus, when nature buds and blossoms in the Whitsuntide springtime, the elemental spirits come forth. Seen externally they are small; but as spirits they are great, for they are higher than that part of the human heart which may turn to the good or to the bad.
‘Elves great-souled though small of stature
Haste to help where help they can;
Good or evil be his nature...’
This is left for the next reincarnation, it does not concern the spirits.
‘Good or evil be his nature
Pity they the luckless man.’
They are only concerned with the higher self which is aloof from what takes place in karma or incarnation. But these spirits can only act in their own element, in which the being of man dwells only when his soul and spirit have left the external covering of the body. And now Goethe describes the duties of these elves in their spiritual greatness.
‘Ye round this head in airy wheel that hover,
In noble elfin-guise yourselves discover.
Soothe ye the bosom’s unrelenting strife,
Withdraw the bitter darts of self-upbraiding,
Purge ye his soul from horror of past life.’
This cannot happen to the Faust who is under the sway of the Luciferic-Ahrimanic influence. This purgation means, ‘Bring forth the higher self of Faust. Let it be there alone.’ And now it would seem as if Faust who is out of the body goes through something like an Initiation.
‘Four watches night hath’
From six o’clock in the evening till six o’clock in the morning the elves perform their task, bringing the soul, during the time between falling asleep and waiting. into communication with the spiritual forces which weave and interweave throughout the earthly existence.
‘Pause not—let each with kindly deeds be rife.’
each, that is, of the four watches which the soul experiences from the time of falling asleep till the time of awakening.
‘And first, lay ye his head on the cool pillow,
Bathe him in dew from Lethe’s waters drawn.
Soon will the cramp-racked limbs be lithe as willow
If new refreshed he sleep to meet the dawn.’
When he has accepted what the World-Spirit offers to him, when this spirit has penetrated to that part of Faust’s being where the higher self remains intact:
‘Fulfil the fairest elfin-rite
Give him again to the holy light.’
What occurs externally between his falling asleep and his awakening are real events, similar to an Initiation. And now we sec what takes place in the three periods: from six to nine; from nine to twelve; from twelve to three; from three to six. First we have the watch from six to nine o’clock.
‘When soft breezes swell, and vagrant
Haunt the green-embosomed lawn,
Twilight sheds its spices fragrant,
Sinks its mist like curtains drawn,
Breathes sweet peace, his heart composes
Like a child’s that rests from play,
On his eyes so weary, closes
Soft the portals of the day.’
The soul has gone. It is separated from the body. The second watch.
‘Now the Night more deeply darkles,
Linketh holy star to star.
Mighty torches, tiny sparkles
Glimmer near and gleam afar.
Glassed within the lake they glimmer
Gleam in Night’s unclouded round;
Throned aloft the Moon’s full shimmer
Seals the bliss of peace profound.’
Here we have a survey of the Harmony of the Spheres, the wisdom of the spheres, the great lights, the tiny sparks of light and the secrets of the Moon. All that we study in Spiritual Science about the secrets of the spheres is welded into the higher soul of Faust.
The third watch of sleep:
‘Now the hours are spent and over,
Weal and woe are swept away.
Dream of health! Thou wilt recover!
Trust the gleam of new-born day!
Vales grow green, and swell like pillows
Hill to shady rest to woo,
And in swaying silver billows
Waves the com the harvest to.’
This, as we have already said, is inwardly connected with the manifestations of Nature. Read my course of lectures on The Effect of Occult Development on the Bodies and Self of Man, given at the Hague, wherein it is shown that the human soul, when it rises out of the body, becomes one with the life and movement of outer existence. But this also points to the growth going on in the soul of Faust:
‘And in swaying silver billows
Waves the com [the soul of Faust] the harvest to.’
You will remember I have already told you that during sleep, man has the desire to return to the body.
Then comes the last watch of the night:
‘Wish on wish wouldst compass crowded,
Lift thine eyes to yon bright steep!’
The Sun can now be faintly perceived.
‘Only softly art thou shrouded
Cast away the shell of sleep!’
This is a very important line! A great poet does not make use of empty phraseology. What does ‘Cast away the shell of sleep’ mean? To the ordinary sleeper, sleep is not a shell; but it is a shell to those to whom the time between falling asleep and awakening is a time for the reception of the secrets of the universe.
‘Falter not! Thine heart embolden,
When the throng faint-hearted flees;
Nought is from the brave with-holden
Who is wise and swift to seize.’
And now the tremendous tumult which heralds the approach of the Sun reminds us of what Goethe wrote about this music of the Sun in the ‘Prologue in Heaven,’ in the first part of Faust.
‘The Sun with many a sister-sphere
Still sings the rival psalm of wonder,
And still his fore-ordained career
Accomplishes with sound of thunder.
The sight sustains the angels’ prime,
Though none may spell the mystic story:
Thy Works unspeakably sublime,
Live on, in all their primal glory.’
When the Sun rises and its light floods the physical plane, the soul, when it is out of the body, hears the approach of the Sun as the music of the spheres, as a special element in the music of the spheres. The spirits hear it, of course. Man cannot hear it, because he must hear through his physical ears. He is embodied in the physical plane and when the Sun reaches the physical plane the time has come for man to be awake. Then the spirits must retire. The words spoken by Ariel, the spirit of the air, to his servants, indicate the approach of the music of the spheres. The spirits can hear it. The man who is outside his body can hear it. Faust therefore hears this approach of the music of the spheres. After that he returns into his body. Then Ariel has to disappear. Ariel instructs his servants what they have to do: they have to disappear from the physical plane. For if the Sun, which they only know as the Sun of sound, were to strike them with his light, they would become deaf. The light would make them deaf, whereas they can hear the Sun of sound—in whoso tones, indeed, they live—without injury.
‘Hark! The Hours in storm are winging,
And, to spirit-ears loud-ringing,
Now the new-born day is springing;
Rocky portals clang asunder,
Phoebus’ wheels roll forth in thunder,
What a tumult brings the light!
Loud the trump of dawn hath sounded,
Eye is dazzled, ear astounded,
The Unheard no ear may smite.
Slip ye to your silent palace,
Deep within the flow’ret's chalice,
In the cliffs and 'neath the leaf!
If it reach you, ye are deaf!’
So the elves disappear. Faust returns to his body. But the guilty Faust has now become unconscious. He stands before us no longer. He has sunk down into the depths of Faust’s subconsciousness, where he will be preserved till the next incarnation. The Faust who had just passed through the experience of being in touch with the whole spiritual cosmos, must now make clear to himself the connection between his experience during the four watches of his sleep-life and his present perception of the world. He now lives in his body as the higher self.
Now, a man who, after sleeping all night without going through Faust’s experience, were to exclaim on awakening in the morning, ‘Thou Earth, through this night too hast stood unshaken!’ would be a fool; for no man expects the Earth to be anything else but ‘unshaken’ during the night. But if a man experiences what Faust experienced as his Initiation with the Earth-Spirits, then he has indeed experienced something which, as one can well believe, will have changed the whole earth for him. He will have become a new man. Or rather a new man will have been unveiled in him. ‘Oh I Earth! Thou wert unchanging throughout this night—in spite of what I have experienced’. To him the world appears quite new, because it is now revealed to a new man.
‘Life’s pulses newly quickened now awaken,
Softly to greet the ethereal twilight leaping;
Thou Earth through this night too hast stood unshaken,
And at my feet fresh breathest from thy sleeping.
Thou guides! me about with gladness, priming
My soul with stem resolve and strenuous keeping,
Onward to strive, to highest life still climbing.’
Now too, when the spirit has freed itself from that which must wait for the next incarnation!
‘Unfolded lies the world in twilight shimmer;
With thousand-throated song the woods are chiming;
The dales, wherethrough the mist-wreaths wind, lie dimmer,
Yet heavenly radiance plumbs the deeps unnumbered,
And bough and twig, new-quickened, bud and glimmer
Forth from the fragrant depths where sunk they slumbered;
Whilst hue on hue against the gloom still heightens,
Where bloom and blade with quivering pearls are cumbered
A very Paradise about me lightens !’
Here we have the man who I do not say has gone through Initiation, but in whom Initiation lives, and he has cause to see the world in a new light. He could not speak as he does if there were only left in him the man who was guilty and who during this incarnation must remain under this load of guilt.
‘Look up! The giant peaks that rise supernal
Herald the solemn hour; for them first brightens
The early radiance of the light eternal
Upon us valley-dwellers later showered. Now are the green-sunk Alpine meadows vernal
With radiance new, and new distinctness dowered,
And step-wise downward hath the splendour thriven.
He sallies forth [the sun, that is] and I mine overpowered
And aching eyes to turn away am driven.’
The higher self cannot now endure what the senses were able to endure. Faust cannot look at the Sun, for he has learnt so much that the Sun has now become something essentially different for him. Something connected with his earthly experiences now awakens within him.
‘Thus when a yearning hope, from fear and wonder
Up to the highest wish in trust hath striven,
The portals of fulfilment yawn asunder.’
What are these ‘portals of fulfilment?’ Those through which he passed during his recent sleep. But even the ordinary world seems to him now like a sea of flame, breaking forth from the eternal foundations:
‘Then burst from yonder depths where days ne’er dwindle
Excess of flame—we stand as smit with thunder.
The torch of life it was we sought to kindle,
A sea of fire, and what a fire! hath penned us.
Is't Love? Is't Hate?’
Love and hate we know already, but this experience is more than love or hate.
‘Is't Love? Is't Hate? That yonder glowing sparkle
In bliss and bale alternating tremendous
About us twines, till we the dazed beholders,
To veil our gaze in Earth’s fresh mantle wend us.’
He can no longer look at the Sun, he looks towards the waterfall which gives forth the colours of the rainbow and in which the Sun is reflected. He turns away from the Sun. He becomes a student of the world, as it appears to him like a reflection of the spiritual life. This world of which it is said, ‘All that is transient is but a parable.’
‘Nay then, the sun shall hide behind my shoulders.’
Before he had been looking towards it. He now turns to the waterfall.
‘The cataract that through the gorge does thunder
I’ll watch with growing rapture,’mid the boulders
From plunge to plunge down-rolling, rent asunder
In thousand, thousand streams, aloft that shower
Foam upon hissing foam, the depths from under.
Yet blossoms from this storm a radiant flower;
The painted rainbow bends its changeful being,
for what is united in the Sun, is here divided into seven colours.
‘Now lost in air, now limned with clearest power,
Shedding this fragrant coolness round us fleeing.
Its rays an image of man’s efforts render;
Think, and more clearly wilt thou grasp it, seeing
Life in the many-hued, reflected splendour!’
How greatly has Faust advanced during this night’s experience! He has advanced so far that he no longer wishes, like the Faust of Part I, to plunge into that life which flung him into sin and evil, but turns to its coloured reflection. This which appears to him as the ‘many-hued, reflected splendour’ is what we call Spiritual Science, and by means of it we shall wind gradually upward along the spiral way to reality.
The continuation of the Second Part is ‘Life in the many-hued, reflected splendour.’ It is folly to interpret this Second Part in a purely materialistic sense. We have here Faust whose higher self studies the many-hued reflections of life by means of the physical body, which he now bears with him on his journey through life, as something to be preserved in order that the higher self in him may be further developed; for that higher self alone can protect him from that which will reappear in a later incarnation.
Goethe found it very difficult to continue his Faust, after the words spoken by Mephistopheles toned forth, ‘Hither to me!’ But we see how Goethe strove to penetrate those mysteries which we today recognise as the Mysteries of Spiritual Science. We see how he approached them. And we can see in this Second Part of Faust, how, at first, Mephistopheles really has Faust in his toils, how Mephistopheles is behind all that happens at the Emperor’s Court, and how Faust, by the after-effects of Initiation working in him, gradually unloosens himself from the toils of Mephistopheles.
But there are other mysteries in this Second Part of Faust. Goethe himself said that he had introduced many secret things into the Second Part! These words of his have not been taken seriously enough. But we shall learn by degrees through Spiritual Science to take such words more seriously.
We must at least take one thing away with us from today’s lectures. Goethe endeavoured to advance beyond the First Part, to express in his Faust something of the atmosphere which is symbolically depicted there under the imagery of the Course of the Seasons.
As Whitsuntide approaches and the Spirits of the elemental world draw so near to man that it can be said of them:
‘When the Spring-tide shower of blossom
Flutters down all men upon;
When on mortals from earth’s bosom
Smiles the field’s green benison:
Elves great-souled, though small of stature,
Haste to help, where help they can.
Good or evil be his nature
Pity they the luckless man.’
That is the Whitsuntide atmosphere. The outpouring of the Spirit in the following lines, spoken by the choir, during the four watches of the sleep, from the time of falling asleep to the time of awakening.
Thus by means of Faust, we are able to demonstrate how urgent is the necessity for conveying to humanity the new Whitsuntide message which Spiritual Science has to deliver. This conception of Faust brings home to us vividly how complex are the threads which go to form the fundamental basis of human nature. In the depths of human nature something exists which is eternally opposed to the Ahrimanic and Luciferic world-powers and, in those depths, that something can be found by man, if he will place himself under the guidance of the Christ-Impulse.
Why do we speak of a ‘Threshold’? Why do we speak of a ‘Guardian of the Threshold’? Because actually, owing to the grace and wisdom of the guidance of the universe, all that works and wars and battles in our daily life was at first removed from the human soul. It is now, as it were, on the surface, beneath which elements are seething and warring and working. Even our daily experiences constitute a perpetual victory. But the victory has always to be won anew; and in the future it will only be won anew when man really knows that through which the good, wise direction of the universe has guided him; until now he has been unconscious of this. That something, which cannot be recognised in the ordinary life of the senses, but which can be experienced spiritually, must be found in the depths of the soul. It must be sought for in those depths of human consciousness where man’s essence is in touch with those world-forces which, in their spiritual greatness, transcend Good and Evil.
I have endeavoured to express this in a Whitsuntide apothegm which I have pieced together to show how man, in the secret recesses of his inmost being, possesses certain elementary powers, antagonistic to each other, and how that which exists in his consciousness is the victory over the warring elements in the depths of his soul-life.
The way in which these elements react in relation to the daily life of mankind I will speak of to-morrow or the following day. today I will close with this Whitsuntide apothegm which embodies that which is ever the vital principle of our Spiritual Science and which we have been considering today.
There, where knowledge gain'd by sense alone
Is no longer of avail,
Stands the Portal leading to life’s realities;
There do they become accessible to the soul.
The key whereby this door can be unlock'd
Is smelted by the soul that gains her strength in battle,
Battle waged in her own depths by cosmic Powers
Fighting against the powers of man,
If only that same soul herself can chase away the sleep
Which, at the very boundaries of the senses,
Enwraps the powers of knowledge in spiritual night.