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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Christian Mystery
GA 97

XV. Lucifer, Bearer of light—The Christ, Bringer of Love

30 March 1906, Düsseldorf

The religious beliefs and world views of different peoples show awareness of two opposing powers. We also find this in Christianity. This has a little bit to do with the question we want to consider in detail today.

There are indeed powers that cannot be said to be absolutely good nor absolutely evil. Something which in some respect is a good power, may become an evil power in another respect. We only have to think of fire, a natural phenomenon. We owe infinitely much to fire. The discovery of fire started a new epoch in nature and civilization. But it also has terrible effects. Schiller described this beautifully in a long poem about the casting of a bell, speaking of the great benefits fire offers if tamed and guarded by man and the terror it can unleash if unfettered. On the one hand fire is a beneficent power, on the other it brings destruction.

Anyone able to see more deeply into existence will get out of the habit of judging something to be absolutely good or evil. In Christianity the serpent is called the tempter of humanity, and Lucifer's name is uttered with loathing. The view of the luciferic principle has changed, however, though Goethe was right when he said the average Christian's way of expressing his views was to say that nature and spirit are not fit subjects for Christians. It's dangerous talk, something for which atheists go to the stake. Nature is sin, spirit the devil. Between them they cherish doubt, their misshapen hermaphrodite offspring.129Faust 2: 4897-4902

This is not the view held in early Christianity but something that came later. For Christian mystics of the first centuries, for the gnostics, the serpent was not in fact a symbol of evil but a symbol for the spiritual guidance of humanity. The wise individual who was the guide was known as ‘the serpent’. That was the name given to someone who guided humanity to insight. The serpent is the symbol of Lucifer.

The changes in the way Lucifer was seen can be followed by studying the changes in the Faust legend. Faust was a medieval figure, half mountebank, half black magician. He used all kinds of arts, but gradually became a distinct type in people's minds. The Faust legend is the direct opposite of the Luther legend, with Luther the man of god who stands up to face evil, Bible in hand, throwing his inkwell at the devil's head. Faust on the other hand put the Bible aside initially and became a medical man who was looking for wisdom rather than mere belief in revelation. Faust was taken by the devil and he perished. The great thing is that in Goethe's work Faust is saved. That is the complete transformation which has come in the views of Faust in recent centuries. Goethe placed the luciferic principle in opposition to Faust in the figure of Mephistopheles. Mephis means liar, tophel spoiler, a Hebrew name that has come down from ancient magic doctrines. Faust is the white magician compared to Mephistopheles who represents the beginnings of black magic. Goethe did not let Faust fall into the clutches of Mephistopheles.

The name Lucifer means ‘bearer of light’. Lux is light, fero, I bear. This cannot be the principle of evil. To really understand this principle we must go back to very early times. To understand the principle of Lucifer we have to think the god principle and the man principle the way they were thought of in early Christianity. When man began to develop, spirits existed who were lower than man and others who were higher than man. The latter were the gods. They also had to go through a long period of evolution to be such. These sublime spirits no longer need to receive the teachings which man has to receive. The idea is that earthly existence was preceded by another planetary existence and there the gods developed who later became creative powers. The gods are ahead of us. They have completed their studies at the school which man is now attending. At a particular point, when they were at the beginning of their evolution, the gods, too, were still human beings.

We have to consider how the different levels of existence relate to one another. Let us begin with the mineral, plant and animals worlds.

When we look at the mineral world we have to ask ourselves how it actually arose. This question takes us to a profound occult truth. Look at a piece of coal. It is a stone today. A few million years earlier in earth evolution the material we use to heat our stoves today was still part of a beautiful forest of ferns. A catastrophe on earth buried those trees and they then went through a process that gradually changed them into coal. We can state that coal is a life form that has grown lifeless. Among the rocks you find elements where one cannot establish this so easily—diamonds, for instance, and rock crystal. These, too, were once part of life forms. If we were to go further back in time we would find plants that later fossilized to become these minerals. Everything dead has come from one and the same life. If all life were to be fossilized one day, the earth would be a rigid body. Our present-day plants are something life has saved and preserved from an earlier general life. Part has become fossilized, but life has saved another part. The ancient fern forests have become fossilized, a new realm came into being, with new life arising from it. There was first a time when there was nothing but life. Then came a new time when part was fossilized and a younger plant world arose. The mineral world does not show itself to be chaotic but beautifully organized. Wisdom lay in this. The whole skeletal structure of the earth was organized in great wisdom. The plant world took life onward.

We are however able to see life itself coming from a realm that was yet higher, so that everything that lives has come from a realm that was even higher, and that is the realm of love. There must have been a spirit originally that had love within it. The realm of life differentiated out from this, and from the realm of life the realm of wisdom. Furthermore, the more recent realm of love also differentiated out from that realm of love. Here the creatures were at the animal level, but love did already show itself. We now come to something even higher. The divine principle is above all those realms. All other realms differentiated out from the divine principle. Now we see that at the beginning of planetary evolution man and god were face to face, just as in the natural worlds mineral and plant were face to face.

In earlier times a plant world existed that had no need of the mineral world. But the more recent plant world needs the mineral world. In the same way the gods needed human beings in the beginning of earth evolution. Without human beings, the gods could no more have thrived than plants would without stones. Now consider the animal and plant worlds. A specific relationship exists between the two. The animal exhales carbon dioxide, the plant oxygen. They are dependent on one another. The lower world, the plant world, shows wonderful love in giving back to the animals what they need. Plants keep the carbon for themselves and return the oxygen. So there is a wonderful continuous toing and froing between the lower and higher worlds. Such interaction also exists between the plant and mineral worlds. Plants are continually taking earth's substances from the mineral world, taking them up into a vital process. This is how the higher world influences the lower one. And that is also how the world of the gods influenced the human world in the beginning of earth evolution. Initially their interaction was like that between plant and mineral and between animal and plant.

The interaction between gods and human beings initially came to expression in what we call love among human beings. When man first appeared on earth, two sexes developed. This power of love, of kinship, was the divine principle coming to expression in the beginning of earth evolution. The gods received the love pulsating in human beings and lived on it, just as an animal lives on the oxygen which the plant prepares for it. The love living in the human race was food for the gods. Initially everything built on this love. Blood kinship formed a bond among human beings. Tribes, hordes, nations and so on were based on it. This love, entwined around the two sexes, is the foundation for all the power the gods had in the beginning of human evolution. Love was there first, before the two sexes evolved. Originally it was a love existing in full conscious awareness. Then, when bisexual man evolved, awareness became obscured. Love became a blind drive, sensuality, no longer filled with limpid clarity but only coming into play as a dark drive. Awareness of love had ascended to the gods. The gods were then enthroned above, in conscious awareness of love, whilst human beings exercised love in a blindly driven way. The gods fed on this blind drive, it became clear light for them.

There is a way of clairvoyance where everything that lives in man by way of blind drives becomes visible. The gods had this vision in the beginning of human evolution, whilst human beings did not have the gift for it. They were filled with passions, with the element that drives the sexes to unite. The gods lived in astral light. They saw those drives, they lived on them. Just as the earlier plant world remained behind in earlier times, rejecting the mineral world, so did an old world of the gods become a new one, with humanity assuming its present condition. For there were also spirits who did not gain full conscious awareness in the astral light. They were between gods and humans when humanity began its existence on this earth. We call these spirits the shadows of Lucifer. Under the influence of the gods who had gained perfection in their earlier evolution, man would have continued without having the astral light, without knowledge. The interest of those gods did not go beyond having human beings living on earth. Lucifer had to catch up on what he had failed to do earlier, however. And he could only do it at this stage by also making use of human nature. Human beings existed in the senses. Lucifer did not exist in the senses. He had to use human bodies for his own progress. He therefore had to give human beings the ability to see what the gods had implanted in them, to see it in the light. The gods had implanted love in them, Lucifer had to induce them to see this love in the light. So we now have the human being, the created form, the wisdom; also Lucifer who gave light to humanity; and the god who let love flow in human beings.

Man - wisdom
Lucifer - light
God - love

Lucifer had a much more intimate relationship to human beings than the gods enthroned in love. Lucifer opened man's eyes. When man opened his eyes and looked out into the world, Lucifer was inside him, looking out into the world. He completed his evolution in man. In so far as man rested in the keeping of the gods he was a child of god. In so far as he sought knowledge, he was Lucifer's friend. This comes to expression in the story of paradise. Jehovah created man. He is the spirit of form. He would have made human beings such that they lived in love but without light. Then came Lucifer, the serpent, and brought the light of knowledge to humanity and thus also the potential for evil doing. Jehovah then told man that love which has united with the knowledge given by Lucifer would bring pain. Jehovah set limits to the activities of the spirit who had implanted knowledge, the light of love, by adding pain to love.130Concerning Jehovah, Lucifer and Cain, see also Steiner R. The Temple Legend (GA 93). 20 lectures, Berlin 23 May 1904 - 2 Jan. 1906. Tr. J. Wood. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1985.

In Cain we see someone who rebelled against anything created out of blood-bound love. He cut the bonds of kinship. He also stood for independence. Passive love combined with active, light-filled work to gain knowledge. Love—gift of Jehovah, knowledge—gift of Lucifer. Love needs to be regulated. The law of Sinai ordered family bonds. In addition to this there is the gaining of knowledge, the light that must come from human beings themselves, its origin being in the light bearer within man. This, too, must be deepened, going through a new phase. This can only happen if there is more than just the law applied from outside. The law brought compulsion to bear from outside. The Christ brought the principle that works from inside. It is the light taken up into love, the law born in the soul itself which Paul called grace. The law, born again out of the inmost nature, was both love and light. It set the beginning for a new evolution on earth. Paul called Christ the inverse Adam.

Man had the god of love above him, and Lucifer, the light, within him. To reach love one must first be light. With the coming of the Christ, this light was transformed into love. Christ Jesus represents the raising of light to love.

In the past, people spoke of Lucifer as the other pole, the one that brought light to humanity. Two powers must be active on earth-Christ, the bearer of love, and Lucifer, the bearer of light. For man, light and love are the two poles. Man now lives under the influence of these two polar opposite powers. The gods, who gave the impulse for love, were light once; the light is meant to be love again. The light can be misused and lead to evil, but it must be there if human beings are to be free.

The early Christians saw Lucifer as something that must certainly be active in human nature. This view only changed later. It is necessary to go through the torment of doubt in order to be firm in our knowledge. In its early days, Christian humanity still had to be protected from the light. But now the time has come where the union between love and wisdom must again be created. This happens if knowledge is born as wisdom in human hearts through love. This knowledge, born in human hearts as wisdom and elevated into love—that is the science of the spirit.

In antiquity, people had the law. Through the Christ, the law has become grace, with the law lifted up out of the individual's own breast. Now knowledge is to be elevated to be love again. Inner Christianity is to be added to the external organization of Christianity. Until now, Christianity has only been able to bring love to realization in its institutions. But now we must take love down into the deepest depths of the human breast. Today each is still enamoured of his own opinions. Love will only rise above opinion when people are able to live in harmony even if their opinions differ greatly. All kinds of different opinions side by side—and above it all, love. Then the individual opinion does not reign on its own but all will unite in a great choir.