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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Nature and Spirit Beings
Their Effects in Our Visible World
GA 98

Part I

VI. Whitsuntide: Collective Spiritual Striving and Working toward Spiritualisation of the World II

9 June 1908, Cologne

In the last lecture, we observed some spiritual beings who are standing below the human being, some of which have abilities that are comparable with human abilities, but they are lacking any feeling of responsibility. We have seen how they are to be considered detritus of evolution, that would be obstructive if left to their own devices, but how they, used by a higher wisdom, will be transformed out of harmful into good beings.

Today, we want to widen the multitude of entities we observe by adding some more, to show how humans are interacting with them. We want to assume initially, that at nightfall each time the human being will experience a change from waking state to sleeping state. We know that when someone is in a state of day consciousness his four bodies are connected with and are mutually penetrating each other. Further, let us remember that each night the astral body and the ego raise themselves out of the physical and the etheric body. Now we have seen how at night, out of this human connection, out of the four-bodied human entity, two separate beings, different from each other, arose. The physical body and the etheric body stay back lying on the bed—outside remain the astral body and the ego.

Modern man experiences completely different states of consciousness at night than during the day. We can compare his state of night time consciousness with the consciousness of plants. A plant has the state of consciousness of ‘dreamless sleep’. During sleep, a kind of plant consciousness adheres to human beings too—at night, during the dreamless sleep, man is also in the spiritual worlds.

To these concepts we add that every element of the human being finds expression in the physical body. The physical body is, so to say, the result of all basic elements of a human. The ego has its expression in the blood, the astral body is expressed in the nervous system, the etheric body finds its expression in the lymphatic system, and the sensory system represents the expression of the physical body. If we perceive the human physical body as an expression of the manifestation of its different parts, then we have to say to ourselves that the blood circulation is there because of the individual ego. No nervous system can exist without the astral body structuring and creating it. At night, we draw the astral body and the ego out of the physical body, but not the nervous system and the blood. However, the blood and the ego belong together, and the astral body and the nervous system belong together.

At night, man behaves extremely disdainfully towards his corporeality. In order for the human being to have tools for the ego and the astral body, the blood and the nervous system had to emerge. Now he deserts the blood and the nervous system at night. It is impossible for a physical body with blood and nervous system to exist even for one second without the astral body and the ego. The plant is able to exist without these, because it has neither a nervous system nor a blood circulation. If we would at night solely be dependent upon ourselves, we would find the physical body dead in the morning. We take away those higher powers, the astral body and the ego, which must provide for the physical body at night. What we don’t do during the night, other beings must do. At night such beings penetrate into the physical and etheric body and lower themselves into them. Every night, higher spiritual beings enter into the human being’s physical and etheric bodies and carry out the work, that during the day is performed by the individual’s own ego and astral body. They are high, noble beings, who once created the physical and the etheric bodies of the human being, who take care of them again at night. At night the astral body and the ego stay in the higher world above, and down below remain the physical body and the etheric body. They have been abandoned at night by the astral body and the ego. To the same extent that the physical and etheric bodies are being deserted by the astral body and the ego, the powers of higher beings enter into them.

The etheric human body is not the same as the etheric body of a plant. Higher powers from a higher world stream into the physical and the etheric body of a human being at night. The following could happen: During the day, man constantly influences the physical body and the etheric one. When someone thinks and feels, then this happens in the astral body, but it reaches beyond into the etheric body and the physical body. It impresses itself into these.

In the past, the physical and the etheric body emerged purely by will of higher beings. But once a human being becomes conscious of its ego, the influences of the higher beings exit out of the physical and etheric body. That which lives in the soul is not without impact on these bodies. An anatomist, of course, cannot establish what kind of changes are taking place in a person’s physical and etheric body, but they are taking place. A large effect happens in these bodies when someone lies. Lies and hypocrisy are processes within the soul and the ego. From a materialistic perspective one could believe that lies only happen on the inside. But the occult observer knows that through lying, changes happen inside the physical body that affect the bodily structure. Such changes also come about through the countless conventional lies that live in the world.

Surveying the material reality, we know that our life is riddled with all sorts of untruths. If people tell each other something they do not mean, then this is like an impression of a signet in sealing wax. This imprint stays. All hypocrisy, untruths, slander remain like an imprint in the physical body. When someone leaves his physical and the etheric body at night, such imprints can be seen. Now the beings from the higher worlds come and find these. This is incompatible with the higher worlds. Through this something new occurs, something completely new is being created. The higher beings will now excise ‘beings’ through the physical body, which will then lead an independent life between our worlds. In the occult science these are called phantoms. They are called phantoms, because they are closest to physical perception. Furthermore, they are beings with physical regularity. They are swarming through our space. They are obstructing human development and evolution. They make what lives in the world worse than it would be if they would not exist. The phantoms are beings that mankind creates by way of lies, hypocrisy and so on, which hold back evolution.

Learning to know about the impact of the spiritual beings is much more helpful than preaching morals. Mankind in the future will know what it creates by lies, hypocrisy and slander. The most effective morals are created by learning to know the facts, not through moral principles. By existence based on the science of the spirit, the strongest moral drives and impulses are created. Phantoms are also a kind of nature beings who exist—created by the activity of man. In the evening, the human being deserts the physical body and leaves in it the signet imprints of lies, hypocrisy and so on. When he returns in the morning, then these phantoms first stream out of the physical body.

The etheric body too can be manipulated so that it creates excised beings. Once again, certain processes in the human world are causing such excisions to come into existence through the etheric body. Like all unjust things, such as unjust laws that punish in the wrong way, bad arrangements in a social community work back onto the etheric body, so that from them beings are created. In today’s superstitious time such entities are only ridiculed. These beings are spectres, ghosts. They are real and thus can be categorized as true spectres and ghosts. Mankind should make an effort to make its arrangements as well as possible, so that they are not creating such beings.

Now let us focus on the ego and the astral body during the night. Keep in mind that also the human astral body and the ego are in a special situation. They have aligned themselves to the blood and nervous system. During the night, higher powers from a higher world stream down onto the astral body and the ego. If a human being takes along certain things from his daily life, so again an excision process will occur. Again, the things that cause the excision process are things of the soul life. Let’s imagine two people have opinions that differ. One tries to convince the other and feels a longing to convince him. This longing is nowadays widely spread amongst humans. People should present their opinion to one another and wait to see if some forces stir within the other through which he would accept the opinion. There are so many opinionated fanatics, who are not at all content if they are unable to force their opinion on someone else. If something like this happens, then it is detrimental to both astral bodies. They pick up persuasions and wrong advice. Whatever is imprinted into the astral body from these persuasions and ill advice, will at night cause beings to be produced. Such beings are called demons.

These demonic beings exert particularly unfavourable influence on our human development. They whizz through the spiritual room and prevent people from developing their personal ideas. Imagine how much will be sinned in this regard in many coffee shops, at the beer table! Continuously, forces are collected for the creation of demons. These creep into the human soul. Ask yourself how many appear at this or that court hearing, when people act as witnesses. They are convinced, and therefore are not really committing perjury, because they are convinced. Once an ”experiment” was conducted and it went according to plan. Thirty people were asked to describe it. Two described the process correctly, all other twenty-eight people added things that had not happened. In this way, demonic beings are created that exert all sorts of influences. There is no other remedy for the human being than the recognition of this fact, to know what to do to free himself from the influences of these detrimental spiritual entities. They are present everywhere where there is opportunity to exert their destructive influences. The occult observer can see this in the courtroom. The beings always work into the direction from which they have emerged. Such beings that have come about through bad laws will again work so that they entice people to make more bad laws.

The human being should look into the spiritual world, so that he will become practical and not continually create obstacles. When we look across that which we have just examined, we have to say that during the waking hours of daily life people create a lot of causes for the emergence of all sorts of spiritual beings—elemental beings. We have to ask what significance they have in regard to the future development of mankind. We take a look back into ancient times, when our ancestors were living in the Atlantean world. If we would go back far enough into the old Atlantean development, then we would gradually arrive at humans in a totally different shape. Imagine back, approximately in the middle of the Atlantean time. We must imagine the human beings as follows: the part of the etheric body which today is within our head, was at that time widely extended out across the physical head, as it can be perceived even today by a clairvoyant in the horse. The same is still particularly noticeable in an elephant, who currently has a large protrusion in front of and above its physical head, just like this was the case for human beings in the old Atlantis. Evolutionary progress consisted of these parts moving closer together, so that today a human’s etheric head and the physical head are almost covering each other.

In earlier times, the human being had a twilight clairvoyance. When he would, during the day, dive into the physical body, he did not see distinct contours, but he would perceive the objects surrounded by an aura. At night, he would not recognise any boundaries at all, but only the spiritual element of things. Since the post-Atlantean time we differentiate thus far five cultural ages. In the ancient India, the first of the post-Atlantean ages, the connection of the etheric head of a human being with his physical head was very light. Increasingly, the fusion of the etheric with the physical head became stronger. During our time, the fifth post-Atlantean age, it became the strongest, as mankind descended into the physical, material world, and where they penetrated most deeply into the material substance. Throughout these many incarnations during the various epochs, people learned a lot until today in their present incarnation. Everything that happens in the world, does so in a descending and an ascending line. As truly as the etheric head always connected itself more and more strongly with the physical head, it is also true that little by little a loosening occurs. We have already arrived at a point in time where the etheric head begins to loosen again. Here we must differentiate between development of races and the development of the soul. In the future, there will be souls who have not done enough whilst the etheric head was united with the physical one. Because of the fusion of the etheric head with the physical head, many people are reluctant nowadays to embrace spiritual truths. Human beings who accept spiritual truths now, will when they return later, have absorbed enough in this incarnation, to be able to make a connection to incarnate. But those, who fail to do now what needs to happen, will not be able to find suitable bodies in the future. This is because the development of the races will create normal bodies, that are fit for those souls who have not neglected anything. Other bodies will be so that the loose etheric body cannot absorb anything. These people will be a special kind of human being, who will drop out of the progressive development of mankind.

It takes quite something to find your bearings within a future body. Imagine a soul that will live in a physical body with a loose etheric body. This soul would no longer understand if one would tell it about demons and so on. Today is the point in time where one can talk about those things. When the etheric body has loosened up again, one can no longer do this. Currently, the etheric body has a calling to quite different perceptions. The etheric body will later live in the spiritual world. This is populated with demons, and so on. Then this world of spiritual beings will be around the human being, and if he is not prepared for this now through the teachings, then he will be at a loss when he faces these beings. However, those that carry with them the knowledge obtained in this incarnation about these beings, will understand how to behave towards them. In the future, these knowledgeable individuals are destined to transform these beings into servants of the ongoing evolution. So, we understand how people can fail to complete their task to further the development of humanity and that of other beings.

All these demons, ghosts and phantoms are harmful today, but in the future they will be transformed by us into servants to human development. For this to happen human beings must prepare themselves. The development of the soul and the development of the race do not run side by side.

In the future, humanity will separate into the good and the bad. By one part developing in the proper ascending way to transform the demons, ghosts and phantoms in the future, they will push down another part. These will be the bad ones. What the human spirit creates has a real meaning—this has always been so during the development of mankind.

Another example will demonstrate how the human being co-creates in today’s world. We will focus on the fourth cultural period—on the Greek temple. The idea about the temple arose initially from the human soul. The concept for the temple is based on what we call a column, and on what this column carries. Never again has humanity achieved what it did at the time when humans succeeded to put themselves into the ‘supported space’ of the Greek temple. Let us compare a Greek temple with a modern building. Once a column becomes decorative it is no longer the true column that it is when it is free standing and really load-bearing. The human being must feel that the column consists of the right material. If we paint a thin iron column, that carries the same load as a thicker stone column, then it lies to us.

A Greek temple is a Greek spatial idea. This would be understood by people who can imagine that forces are moving from top to bottom and from right to left. We can imagine three painted angels, suspended in the air, so that one knows they are carrying each other. We find this spatial feeling with the old painters. Nowadays we can't find it anymore, not even by Boecklin.1Arnold Boecklin, Swiss Painter, 1827-1901. His painting Pietà was in the National Museum in Berlin until 1945, and has since been missing. On his Pietà there is an angel, that we feel could fall down any moment.

This is something that even the greatest genius might be missing when spiritual culture is lacking: a sense of space. Each time a person creates a real spatial concept, then this creates an opportunity for a higher being to fill this room. We are then ‘captivating’ higher beings to descend into the room. Quite different beings are enticed to descend by a Greek column and the horizontal beams resting upon it—quite other beings by the Gothic cathedral and its pointed arcs. The Gothic cathedral differs spiritually from the Greek temple in the following way: In the Greek temple humans have worked the spatial sense into it in an occult way, so that the temple is a crystallised spatial thought. In this way, the temple, being the way it is, is the home of a higher being, a god, even if it has been deserted by people. But to the Gothic cathedral belong people. It must be complemented by the devotions of the human beings and the folded hands they raise up. The Greek temple is an abode of a god. The Gothic cathedral is a cultural site, and an abode of a god when human beings are present. The Greek temple is, even if it has been deserted, the abode of a spiritual entity. So we can see, that people, by being in harmony with the spiritual world, are working together with it. So we can see in the spirit, how, through human deeds, more and more can be done to entice higher beings to descend.

Once again the Whitsuntide thought steps in front of our soul. The Whitsuntide thought expresses symbolically what we are able to recognise through such observation: that people through their work create sites for spiritual beings to descend to, that people are working on the spiritualisation of the world.

We must understand the spiritual science thought in such a way that it permeates into all branches of life. In our materialistic time the outer life is only in a small way an expression of the inner life. In the past, every door lock, every key was an expression of something spiritual. Now everything is comparatively insignificant. The human being will once again learn to work in such a way that the outside will be a replica of the inside. Then a railway station too will emerge as a thought, like the Greek temple and the Gothic cathedral came about. Our time too has a building style that corresponds to our time. This is the warehouse. It is the replica of the ‘utility’ thought, the replica of the human egoism. The time of usefulness has brought forth as the only original style that of the warehouse.

Previously, people put their spiritual feelings into a building style. The warehouse is an expression for the feelings of the 19th century. But already now there is a spiritual movement underway, that prepares for a later spiritualisation. Those humans who understand the anthroposophical movement in this way will make the Whitsuntide thought a reality. In the future we will see the anthroposophical thoughts crystallised in what the Earth will be covered with.