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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Theosophy of the Rosicrucian
GA 99

XII. Evolution of Mankind on the Earth II

4 June 1907, Munich

THE process that I have described to you as the division of the sexes was of such a nature that the two sexes are to be thought of as still united in that animal-man of the Moon and also in his descendants in the Moon recapitulation of the Earth. Then there really took place a kind of cleavage of the human body. This cleavage came about through densification; not until a mineral kingdom had been separated out as it is today could the present human body arise, representing a single sex. The Earth and the human body had first to be solidified to the mineral nature as we know it. In the soft human bodies of the Moon and of the earlier periods of the Earth human beings were of dual-sex, male-female.

Now we must remind ourselves of the fact that Man in a certain respect has preserved a residue of the ancient dual sex inasmuch as in the present man the physical body is masculine, the etheric body feminine, and in the woman it is reversed; for the physical feminine body has a masculine etheric body. These facts open up an interesting insight into the soul life of the sexes; the capacity for sacrifice in the service of love displayed by the woman is connected with the masculinity of the etheric body, whereas the ambition of the man is explained when we realise the feminine nature of his etheric body. I have already said that separation into the human sexes has arisen from the intermingling of the forces sent to us from the sun and the moon. Now you must be clear that in the man the stronger influence on the etheric body emanates from the moon and the stronger influence on the physical body from the sun. In the woman the opposite is the case, the physical body is influenced by the forces of the moon and the etheric body by those of the sun.

The continual change of mineral substances in man's present body could not take place until the mineral realm had taken shape; before this there was quite a different form of nourishment. During the Sun-period of the Earth all plants were permeated by milky juices. Man's nourishment was then actually effected by his imbibing the milk-juices from the plants as today the child draws its nourishment from the mother. The plants which still contain milky juices are the last stragglers from that time when all the plants supplied these juices in abundance. It was not till a later time that nourishment took on its present form.

To understand the significance of the separation of the sexes we must be clear that upon the Moon and during its recapitulation on the Earth all the beings looked very much alike. Just as the cow has the same appearance as her “daughters,” as all other cows, since the Group-soul lies behind, so could men scarcely be distinguished from their forefathers, and this continued till long into the Atlantean Age. Whence arises the fact that human beings no longer resemble each other?

It comes from the rise of the two sexes. From the original dual sex-nature the tendency had continued in the female being to produce similarity in the descendants; in the male the influence worked differently, it tended to call forth variety, individualisation, and with the flowing of the male force into the female, dissimilarity was increasingly created. Thus it was through the male influence that the power of developing individuality came about.

The ancient dual sex had yet another peculiarity. If you had asked one of the old dwellers on the Moon about his experiences, he would have described them as identical with those of his earliest ancestors; everything lived on through the generations. The gradual rise of a consciousness that only extends from birth to death came about by the individualising of the human race, and at the same time arose the possibility of birth and death, as we know them today. For those ancient Moon beings with their floating, swimming motion, were suspended from the environment with which they were united by the “strings” conducting the blood. Thus if a being died it was not a death of the soul, it was only a dying off of a sort of limb, while the consciousness remained above. It was as if your hand, for instance, should wither on your body and a new hand grow in its place. So these human beings with their dim consciousness only experienced dying as a gradual withering of their bodies. These bodies dried up and new ones continually sprang forth; consciousness, however, was preserved through the consciousness of the group-soul, so that really a kind of immortality existed.

Then arose the present blood, which was created in the human body itself, and this went hand in hand with the rise of the two sexes. And with it the necessity of a remarkable process came about. The blood creates a continuous conflict between life and death, and a being who forms red blood within himself becomes the scene of a perpetual struggle, for red blood is continually consumed and changed into blue blood, into a substance of death. Together with man's individual transformation of the blood arose that darkening of the consciousness beyond birth and death. Now, for the first time, with the lighting up of the present consciousness, man lost the ancient dimly sensed immortality, so that the impossibility of looking beyond birth and death is intimately connected with the division of the sexes. And something else too is connected with this.

When man still possessed the Group-soul, existence went on from generation to generation, no interruption was caused through birth and death. Then this interruption appeared and with it the possibility of reincarnation. Earlier, the son was but a direct continuation of the father, the father of the grandfather, consciousness did not break off. Now there came a time when there was darkness beyond birth and death, and a sojourn in Kamaloca and Devachan first became possible. This interchange, this sojourn in higher worlds, could only come about at all after individualisation, after the expulsion of Sun and Moon. Only then appeared what today we call incarnation, and at the same time this intermediate state, which again will one day also come to an end.

Thus we have reached the period in which we have seen the earlier dual-sexed organism, representing a kind of group-soul, divide into a male and a female, so that the similar is reproduced through the female, what is varied and dissimilar through the male. We see in our humanity the feminine to be the principle which still preserves the old conditions of folk and race, and the masculine that which continually breaks through these conditions, splits them up and so individualises mankind. There is actually active in the human being an ancient feminine principle as group-soul and a new masculine principle as individualising element. It will come about that all connections of race and family stock will cease to exist, men will become more and more different from one another, interconnection will no longer depend on the common blood, but on what binds soul to soul. That is the course of human evolution.

In the first Atlantean races there still existed a strong bond of union and the first sub-races grouped themselves according to their colouring. This group-soul element we have still in the races of different colour. These differences will increasingly disappear as the individualising element gains the upper hand. A time will come when there will no longer be races of different colour; the difference between the races will have disappeared, but on the other hand there will be the greatest differences between individuals. The further we go back into ancient times the more we meet with the encroachment of the racial element; the true individualising principle begins as a whole only in later Atlantean times. Among the earlier Atlanteans members of one race actually experienced a deep antipathy for members of another race; the common blood caused the feeling of connection, of love; it was considered against morality to marry a member of another stock.

If, as seer, you wished to examine the connection between the etheric body and the physical body in the old Atlanteans you would make a remarkable discovery. Whereas in the man of today the etheric head is practically covered by the physical part of the head and only protrudes slightly beyond it, in the old Atlantean the etheric head projected far out beyond the physical head; in particular it projected powerfully in the region of the forehead. Now we must think of a point in the physical brain in the place between the eyebrows, only about a centimetre lower, and a second point in the etheric head which would correspond to this. In the Atlantean these two points were still far apart and evolution consisted precisely in the fact that they continually approached each other. In the fifth Atlantean period the point of the etheric head drew in to the physical brain and by reason of these two points coming together there developed what we possess to-day: calculation, counting, the capacity of judging, the power of forming ideas in general, intelligence. Formerly the Atlanteans had only an immensely developed memory, but as yet no logical intellect. Here we have the starting point for the consciousness of the “ego.” A self-reliant independence did not exist in the Atlantean before these two points coincided, on the other hand he could live in much more intimate contact with nature. His dwellings were put together by what was given by nature; he moulded the stones and bound them together with the growing trees. His dwellings were formed out of living nature, were really transformed natural objects. He lived in the little tribes that were still preserved through blood relationship, whilst a powerful authority was exercised by the strongest, who was the chieftain. Everything depended on authority, which however was exercised in a way peculiar to those times.

When man entered on the Atlantean Age, he could as yet utter no articulate speech; this was only developed during that period. A chieftain could not have given commands in speech, but on the other hand these men had the faculty of understanding the language of nature. Present day man has no idea of this, he must learn it again. Picture, for instance, a spring of water which reflects your image to you. As occultist a peculiar feeling emerges in your soul. You say—My image presses towards me out of this spring, to me this is a last token of how on old Saturn everything was reflected out into space. The memory of Saturn arises in the occultist when he beholds his reflection in the spring. And in the echo which the spoken sound gives back arises the recollection of how on Saturn all that resounded into cosmic space, came back as echo. Or you see a Fata Morgana a mirage in the air, in which the air seems to have taken up whatever pictures are imprinted in it and then reflects them again. As occultist you see here a memory of the Sun-period, when the gaseous Sun took in all that came to it from cosmic space, worked it over, and then let it stream back, giving it its own sun-nature at the same time. On the Sun planet you would have seen how things were prepared as Fata Morgana, as a kind of mirage within the gases of the Sun condition. Thus without being a magician one learns to grasp the world from many aspects and that is an important means towards developing into higher worlds. In ancient times man understood nature to a high degree.

There is a great difference between living in an atmosphere like the present and such as it was in Atlantis. The air was then saturated by immense vapour masses; sun and moon were surrounded by a gigantic rainbow halo. There was a time when the mist-masses were so dense that no eye could have seen the stars, when sun and moon were stiff darkened. Only gradually they became visible to man. This coming into sight of sun, moon and stars is magnificently described in records of the Creation. What is described there has really taken place, and much more besides.

The understanding of surrounding nature was still very vividly present in the Atlantean. All that sounds in the rippling of the spring, in the storm of winds, and is an inarticulate sound to you today, was heard by the Atlantean as a speech he understood. There were at that time no commandments, but the Spirit pierced through the vapour-drenched air and spoke to man. The Bible expresses this in the words “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The human being heard the Spirit from surrounding objects; from sun, moon and stars the Spirit spoke to him and you find in those words—in the Bible a plain expression for what took place in man's environment.

Then came the time in which an especially advanced portion of the human race, who lived in a region which today is on the bed of the ocean in the neighbourhood of present Ireland, first experienced that definite union with the etheric body and thus an increase of the intelligence. This portion of humanity began to journey eastwards under the guidance of the most advanced leader while gradually immense volumes of water submerged the continent of Atlantis. The advanced portion of these peoples journeyed right into Asia, and there founded the centre of the civilisation that we call the Post-Atlantean Culture. From this centre civilisation radiated out; it proceeded from the groups of people who later moved farther to the east. There in Central Asia they founded in India the first civilisation, which still had an echo of the culture attained in Atlantis. The ancient Indian had not yet such a consciousness as we have today, but the capacity for it arose when these two points of the brain of which I have spoken coincided. Before this union there still lived a picture-consciousness in the Atlantean, through which he saw Spiritual beings. In the murmuring of the fountain he not only heard a clear language, but the Undine, who has her embodiment in the water, rose for him out of the spring: in the currents of air he saw Sylphs; in the flickering fire he saw the Salamanders. All this he saw and from it have arisen the myths and legends which have been preserved with most purity in the parts of Europe where there remained remnants of those Atlanteans who did not reach India. The Germanic Sagas and Myths are the relics of what was still seen by the old Atlanteans within the vapoury masses. The rivers, the Rhine, for instance, lived in the consciousness of these old Atlanteans as if the wisdom, which was in the mists of ancient Nivelheim had been cast down into their waters. This wisdom seemed to them to be in the rivers, it lived within them as the Rhine Nixies or similar beings.

So here in these regions of Europe lived echoes of the Atlantean culture, but over in India another arose, that still showed remembrances of that picture world. That world itself had sunk from sight, but the longing for what was revealed in it lived on in the Indian. If the Atlantean had heard the voice of Nature's wisdom, to the Indian there remained the longing for the oneness with Nature, and thus the character of this old Indian culture is shown in the desire to fall back into that time where all this was man's natural possession. The ancient Indian was a dreamer. To be sure, what we call reality lay spread all around him, but the world of the senses was “Maya” in his eyes. What the old Atlantean still saw as hovering spirits was what the Indian sought in his longing for the spiritual content of the world, for Brahma. And this kind of going back towards the old dream-like consciousness of the Atlantean has been preserved in the Oriental training to bring back this early consciousness.

Farther to the north we have the Medes and Persians, the original Persian civilisation. Whereas the Indian culture turns sharply away from reality, the Persian is aware that he must reckon with it. For the first time man appears as a worker, who knows that he is not merely to strive for knowledge with his spiritual forces, but that he is to use them for shaping the earth. At first the earth met him as a sort of hostile element which he must overcome, and this opposition was expressed in Ormuzd and Ahriman, the good and the bad divinity, and the conflict between them. Men wished more and more to let the spiritual world flow into the terrestrial world, but as yet they could recognise no law, no laws of nature within the outer world. The old Indian culture had in truth a knowledge of higher worlds, but not on the grounds of a natural science, since everything on the Earth was accounted Maya; the Persian learnt to know nature purely as a field of labour.

We then come to the Chaldean, the Babylonian and the Egyptian peoples. Here man learnt to recognise a law in nature itself. When he looked up to the stars he sought behind them not the gods alone, but he examined the laws of the stars and hence arose that wonderful science which we find among the Chaldeans. The Egyptian priest did not look on the physical as an opposing force, but he incorporated the spiritual which he found in geometry into his soil, his land; outer nature was recognised as conforming to law. The external star-knowledge was inwardly united in Chaldean-Babylonian-Egyptian wisdom with the knowledge of the gods who ensoul the stars. That was the third stage of cultural evolution.

It is only in the fourth stage of post-Atlantean evolution that man advances to the point of incorporating in civilisation that which he himself experiences as spiritual. This is the case in the Greco-Latin time. Here in the work of art, in moulded matter man imprints his own spirit into substance, whether in sculpture or in the drama. Here too we find the first beginnings of human city planning. These cities differed from those of Egypt in the pre-Grecian age. There in Egypt the priests looked up to the stars and sought their laws, and what took place in the heavens they reproduced in what they built. Thus their towers show the seven-story development which man first discovered in the heavenly bodies; so too do the Pyramids show definite cosmic proportions. We find the transition from priest-wisdom to the real human wisdom wonderfully expressed in early Roman history by the seven Kings of Rome. What are these seven kings?

We remember that the original history of Rome leads back to ancient Troy. Troy represents a last result of the ancient priestly communities who organised states by the laws of the stars. Now comes the transition to the fourth stage of culture. The ancient priest-wisdom is superseded by human cleverness, represented by the crafty Odysseus. Still more plainly is this shown in a picture which can only be rightly understood in this way and which represents how the priest-wisdom has to give way before the human power of judgment. The serpent can always be taken as symbol of human wisdom, and the Laocoon group depicts the overthrow of the priestly wisdom of ancient Troy through human cunning and human wisdom symbolised in the serpents.

Then by the directing authorities who work through millennia the events were outlined that had to happen and in accordance with which history must take its course. Those who stood at the foundation of Rome had already foreordained the sevenfold Roman culture as it stands written in the Sibylline Books. Think it out: you find in the names of the seven Roman kings reminiscences of the seven principles. That goes so far in fact that the fifth Roman king, the Etruscan, comes from without; he represents the principle of Manas, Spirit-Self, which binds the three lower with the three higher. The seven Roman kings represent the seven principles of human nature, spiritual connections are inscribed in them. Republican Rome is none other than the human wisdom, which replaced the ancient priestly wisdom. Thus did the fourth epoch grow within the third. Man sent forth what he had in his soul into the great works of art, into drama and jurisprudence. Formerly all justice was derived from the stars. The Romans became a nation of law-givers because there men created justice, “jus,” according to their own requirements.

We live ourselves in the fifth period. How does the meaning of the totality of evolution come to expression in it? The old authority has vanished, man becomes more and more dependent on his own inner nature, his external acts bear increasingly the stamp of his character. Racial ties lose their hold, man becomes more and more individualised. This is the kernel of the religion which says “He who doth not leave father and mother, brother and sister cannot be my disciple.” This means that all love which is founded on natural ties alone is to come to an end, human beings must stand before one another, and soul find soul.

We have the task of drawing down still further on to the physical plane that which flowed from the soul in Greco-Latin times. Man becomes in this way, a being who sinks deeper and deeper into materiality. If the Greek in his works of art has created an idealised image of his soul-life and poured it into the human form, if the Roman in his jurisprudence has created something that still further signifies personal requirements, then our age culminates in machines, which are solely a materialistic expression of mere personal human needs. Mankind sinks lower and lower from heaven, and this fifth period has descended deepest, is the most involved in matter. If the Greek in his creations has lifted man above man in his images (for Zeus represents man raised above himself), if you find still left in Roman jurisprudence something of man that goes out beyond himself (for the Roman placed more value on being a Roman citizen than on being a person and an individual) then in our period you find people who utilise spirit for the satisfying of their material needs. For what purpose is served by all machines, steamships, railways, all complicated inventions? The ancient Chaldean was accustomed to satisfy his need of food in the simplest way; today an immensity of wisdom, crystalised human wisdom, is expended on the stilling of hunger and thirst. We must not deceive ourselves about this. The wisdom that is so employed has descended below itself right into matter.

All that man had earlier drawn down from the spiritual realms had to descend below itself in order to be able to mount upwards again—and with this our age has received its mission. If in man of an earlier time there flowed blood which bound him with his tribe, today the love which still flowed in the earlier blood shows greater and greater cleavage; a love of a spiritual kind must take its place and then we can ascend again to spiritual realms. There is good reason for us to have come down from spiritual heights, for man must go through this descent in order to find the way up to spirituality out of his own strength. The mission of Spiritual Science is to show mankind this upward path.

We have followed the course of mankind as far as the time in which we ourselves stand; we must now show how it will evolve further, and how one who passes through an initiation can even today forestall a certain stage of humanity on his path of knowledge and wisdom.