Black magic is the use of spiritual powers for egotistic purposes, opposite of selflessness and brotherly love. It is the polar opposite of white magic.
What is called 'black magic' arose in the Atlantean epoch as the Mysteries and control of spiritual powers was betrayed (see Rakshasas). Man, under influence of Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences, had not yet evolved morally to the degree he has today. As a result, there was a higher susceptibility to be seduced to use whatever powers possible for selfish lower purposes. This led to the development of a culture of black magic.
In the current Postatlantean epoch, certain forces tried to re-establish this culture after releasing themselves from the impact of Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha (see Rakshasas).
Magic, white and black, exist today but are subcurrents little or not known to the majority of the population. Yet they represent the most powerful exponents of the forces representing the good and the evil.
The evolution of evil and black magic will lead to the development of 'evil subraces' in the following three planetary stages. However, they will be separated from the main evolutionary current, see the Eight Sphere.
- the practice of what black magic encompasses (1907-10-21-GA101)
- the black magician has the urge to kill and gains power by acquiring the vital force of the life he takes (1906-06-02-GA094)
- black magicians use the chemical ether hardening Moon forces that still exist on Earth (originating from before the Moon left the Earth), to work into the physical world by a union with and use of elementary beings (and related forbidden dynamic Moon forces) (1924-08-18-GA243)
- because black magic has been practiced for long periods, a dangerous atmosphere has been created in the Earth, and it is this region that is actively opposed to all that is destined to proceed from the Sun region in the Michael age
- evolutionary perspective
- the effect of the Rakshasas and the betrayal of the Mysteries in the Atlantean epoch, and how this lie at the origin of the destruction of Atlantis, see also the Discussion section of the Atlantean Epoch topic
- chaining of the Rakshasas by Christ for a certain period of time, in relation to the three days of Christ between death and resurrection, and their re-apperance in the 20-21st century.
- relevant historical events and personalities
- in America around the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, the fight of Vitzliputzli against black magic in the Mexican Mysteries (1916-GA171)
- in Sicily Europe, the black magician Klingsor
- Gilles de Rafs or Bluebeard
- also Eliphas Levi is described as an incarnation of an individuality involved in the decadent Mexican cults (1924-GA236)
- pentagram with the point turned downwards as symbol of black magic (1906-12-01-GA266/1)
Lecture coverage and references
Now if we submerge ourselves into the Kama of the pre-earthly period we are drawn down by the asuric beings. The higher forces of these our spiritual predecessors stand occultly bound up with the passions and forces of our own lower nature. Wherever there are dissolute excesses, there the substance is given in which powerful asuric forces pour cunning intellectualism into the world. In the case of decadent tribes similar powerful asuric forces are to be found. The black magician draws his most powerful forces out of the morass of sensuality. The purpose of sexual rites is to introduce such magic into these circles.
A battle is continually taking place on the earth, the one side striving to purify the passions, the other side striving to intensify sensuality. The beings who are guided by the Christ-Principle seek to win the Earth for themselves, but there are also the other antagonistic beings who seek to usurp the Earth.
These embodiments of asuric beings in the out streaming of passion-filled human thoughts are one kind of astral beings. They are called artificial elemental beings because they are brought forth artificially by man. ...and are quite harmfull .. [because in this case nothing is annulled and hence] these elemental beings remain.
When an animal is tortured, the amount of pain inflicted on it recoils immediately on the astral body of the human being. Here certainly it is reflected as it’s opposite; hence the sensual pleasure in cruelty. Such feelings bring about a lowering of the human astral body. When a person destroys life, this has for him a tremendous significance.
In no way can one so readily assimilate destructive astral forces as by killing. Every killing of a being possessing an astral body evokes an intensification of the most brutal egoism. It signifies a growing increase of power.
In schools of Black Magic therefore, instruction is first given as to how one cuts into animals. Cutting into a definite place, accompanied by corresponding thoughts, induces a certain force, in another place it induces another force. (What corresponds to this in the case of the White Magician is meditation.) Something comes back to the physical plane when it is accompanied by physical thoughts; without thoughts it comes back to the Kamaloka plane. The overpowering of a human being by means of hypnotism is a still stronger killing, for it destroys the will.
1906-03-30-GA097 talks about how the story of Faust evolved, and how Goethe positioned him
The changes in the way Lucifer was seen, can be followed by studying in changes in the Faust legend. Faust was a medieval figure, half iountebank, 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 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.
A lie in the physical world becomes an agent of destruction in the astral world. A lie is a murder in the astral world. This phenomenon is the origin of black magic. The earthly commandment, Thou shalt not kill, may therefore be translated into Thou shalt not lie, in reference to the astral world. The lie is nothing but a word, an illusion. It may do untold harm, but nothing is actually destroyed. In the astral world, every feeling, every idea is a visible form, a living force. The astral lie brings about an impact between the false and true forms, resulting in death.
The white magician would impart to other souls the spiritual life he bears within him. The black magician has the urge to kill, to create a void around him in the astral world because this void affords him a field in which his egoistic desires may disport themselves. He needs the power which he acquires by taking the vital force of everything that lives, that is to say, by killing it.
That is why the first sentence on the tables of black magic is: Life must be conquered. For the same reason, in certain schools of black magic the followers are taught the horrible and diabolical practice of gashing living animals with a knife at the precise part of the body which will generate this or that force in the wielder of the knife.
From the purely external aspect, there are certain points in common between black magic and vivisection. On account of its materialism, modern science has need of vivisection. The anti-vivisection movements are inspired by deeply moral motives. But it will not be possible to abolish vivisection in science until clairvoyance has been restored to medicine. It is only because clairvoyance has been lost that medicine has had to resort to vivisection. When man has regained conscious access to the astral world, clairvoyance will enable doctors to enter spiritually into the inner conditions of diseased organs and vivisection will be abandoned as worthless.
1906-11-01 1907-10-21-GA101 is the lecture where Rudolf Steiner most explicitly covers white and black magic. This lecture has the title 'White Magic Contrasted with Black Magic'. Further quotes from this lecture on the pages of the White Lodge and Occult atom
We must first clarify to ourselves, what one understands under the term "magic", in order to then be able to have insight into what one can understand by the term "black magic".
Many people believe the following: they say, that one can receive occult powers. They usually think of rather inferior occult powers, for usually, those who speak of such things, know nothing about higher occult powers, they have no idea at all what they should imagine under the term "occult powers". But what they then add to this, is usually, that they say, "A person who carries out black magic is the one who uses such powers in the service of personal egotism." Such a claim is one of those, where one cannot say that it is wrong. But nothing much comes out of it either, because it does not actually say very much. It is the expression of quite an abstract way of thinking. Whoever wants to speak of such things, must first and foremost stand on the ground of physical and spiritual reality. He must know what is real, and then he will no longer chat about all sorts of things, that have no special context with reality whatsoever. For, is it not so, that in such a saying as "A person who carries out black magic is the one who uses such powers in the service of personal egotism", there even lurks an impossible demand upon the people of our time? This is a question we must first answer for ourselves. Indeed, people who say this, present us, as a first commandment, with the requirement: "You should not be egoistic."
In all earlier occult schools, there were three ways to reach up to the highest realms of knowledge.
The first kind was that of the initiate, the second kind was that of the clairvoyant, and the third kind was that of the magician. These are three things which are essentially different from each other: Initiation, Clairvoyance, and Magic.
Let us first, through simple comparisons, get clear about what an initiate, a clairvoyant and a magician actually are. ...
.. When someone is led .. through esoteric training, to the higher worlds, he becomes clairvoyant. He knows that there are spiritual worlds and spiritual forces, because he sees them himself. The spiritual worlds have different stages. A person can be a clairvoyant on one stage, and see several phenomena, but not see other things. Now, you must call something before your soul. Clairvoyance serves as a way of finding occult truths and researching them independently, but it does not mean that one has insight into those truths
... next to these clairvoyants, there were always initiates. They were the ones, who had insight into the facts and laws of the higher worlds, out of their powers of understanding. These were initiates. ..
.. There were others, who temporarily avoided the development of higher clairvoyant faculties altogether, because they had to be initiated into the laws of the higher worlds. They trusted lovingly what the teacher told them, but they themselves knew the laws.
.. This is even more true for the higher regions. It is possible, that one person is a high-level initiate, without making any claim to be clairvoyant and to having higher occult powers. In former times, it was entirely possible, that these two classes of pupils and teachers would willingly stand by each other, and willingly the clairvoyants took the advice of non-clairvoyant initiates. Especially, quite a high degree of clairvoyance was necessary for all things to do with the realms of astrology. Things were such, that those who did not have to master the extensive, difficult laws of astrology, usually had to give up the kind of clairvoyance, which the astrological clairvoyant had to adopt and master. They mutually complimented each other.
Only in our time, where Man thinks and feels materialistically, one had to become clear about the fact, that it is impossible to separate these two areas from each other, and in the modern occult schools, the one is never taught without the other. Therefore, since the 14th century, one hardly distinguishes between these two categories. So that the teacher must give each person, whom he wants to initiate, a certain degree of clairvoyance too. It simply does not work, otherwise. One must certainly take into account, that in a certain area, one cannot be selfless at all.
Now, the magician is as different from the clairvoyant, as he is from the initiate. Or do you think, that a person, who brought the knowledge about trains into a certain area, is immediately able to build a train? He can tell you, what such things look like, but to understand how to build one, is something he cannot do right away. For one who can see himself into the higher worlds, is a long way off from having the powers that work into the world of the senses, from already mastering them and being able to use them. ... ... The magician has not only clairvoyance and initiation, but practice as well. The magician must acquire certain accomplishments, through long term abstinence and practice. He has to practice. Now, think how much you would know, even in the physical world, without being yourselves in the position to carry out what you tell about, what you know. In many things, you can be initiated, you can know something quite accurately, how the train is constructed, but without someone throwing his money out the window, by ordering you to actually build a train. It is the same in the higher realms: Practice is what makes the magician what he is. Perception into the higher realms is what makes the clairvoyant into one. Knowing and knowledge about the laws prevailing in the higher worlds, are the makings of the initiate.
and on the topic of black magic
If one imparts to someone else something in an unauthorized manner, where this other person places himself in opposition to the great plan of earthly evolution, then one has committed a black-magical act of the first kind. Therefore, the first act of black magic is the betrayal of occult secrets. This is the first concrete case of black magic. For thereby you impart the occult secrets to those who must place themselves in opposition to it, because they do not know the connection to the central leaders of the earthly leadership. Where does this appear? Where does this become real? It becomes real, in every place, where in the service not of the whole leadership of the earth, but of some limited body, which has no connection with the leadership of the earth, occult secrets are set in motion in the service of humanity. If one receives the things, which he may only use if he can overcome all national and race-related prejudices, earlier, before he knows what it means to be "a man without a homeland", then exactly the same thing, which otherwise would constitute white magic, goes into the service of black magic.
If that which ought to serve the whole of humanity, is used in the service of an isolated race, in order to conquer for this race the overall sovereignty over the whole earth, then this is black magic on a large scale, for it does not happen in harmony with the leadership of the earth. This is the first requirement, to overcome that which connects us with one part of humanity. And for the white magic in our present time, the very first principle which holds is the following: Man cannot strive for selflessness, but he can strive to develop love for the whole of humanity, to expand the area of his love, and this is the important thing.
Now, it happens quite frequently, that people seek, through some machinations, to acquire by force something which otherwise they could only be given. Now we come to the actual methods, to what must be done, in order to come into possession of black magic forces, and to what can certainly be said in detail:
You have the first tool; and the fact that this is the right means, in order to come to possess magical powers, is evident from fact that you let yourself receive this tool in the first place. What are then actually these magical tools? They are that, through which we can use the spiritual forces – these are such tools.
But now, there are no other influences at all of the sensory world, than those which stem from spiritual worlds. All influences and deeds in the sensory world, come from the spiritual worlds. Hence, a person who does not want to come to these things via this right and long road of study, can only choose another path. And that path consists of him – instead of turning to the people, who are the incarnations of higher spiritual beings - turning to nature itself, and trying to derive from this nature, the manner in which the spiritual forces have flowed into it. For everything in nature flows into it from the spiritual worlds, and we can derive these back from nature through certain machinations. Now, at the moment in which we do not let nature itself act, but carry out that which we know, namely, we act ourselves in a realm we know nothing about, then we are also able to get the forces from the realm of black magic. We can do this, provided we want to come to an insight about the wisdom of the inner forces of nature only indirectly, and as long as we avoid everything which does not happen through forces which must be developed inwardly, but choose other means instead. These other means are always the way to black doings – to black magic.
Whoever wants to become a black magician today, would have a large pool for acts of black magic, if he had a trembling fear from everything which could happen to him, for such a fear is an excellent starting point for the black magician. Suppose, for instance, that some person intended to do black magical things on a large scale. He would have to look in the world around him for people, individuals, who are as scared as possible, which he can transform, so that they themselves receive powers without knowing it, and now on quite a different scale than a person could otherwise have.
What must such a artist of magic do?
He would have to first of all set up a laboratory, in which he would then train those cowards, until they are quite hardened. They would have to constantly cut into live flesh and see running blood. If one teaches a person to harden himself by cutting into live flesh, then that which works outwards as a certain force in feelings of fear, transforms now into its opposite. This is the ABC, the first thing which is done in black magic. There, that which earlier had been human fear, is transformed into forces through which he can actually gain a certain influence on his environment. And whoever makes use of such aids, could cause the most unbelievable atrocities in the world. But whoever wants to become a great magician himself without any aids, sometimes does something quite different.
and 'Bluebeard' is described as an example of a black magician
A man of the 15th century wanted to become such a black magician. It was Gilles de Rais [editor: see more info below], whom the profane world called the "Ritter Blaubart". This man sought to possess mighty occult powers. Not in the right way of learning, but by transforming certain egotistical feelings, which lay deep within him – and he was at the same time a good observer of himself. This man was what one calls "the most radical Christian egoist" or "a selfish Christian". These are people who regard Christianity first and foremost as a bridge for obtaining as much as possible for themselves; they become rather good Christians, in order to come far in blissfulness.
Such self knowledge he practiced in his own nature, and he also knew already, practically, wherever he noticed this in himself, the best means through which he could transform this into unbelievable magical means. The tools were given to him too early. In this process, which could be traced back through many years, it became apparent that in 1432, in order to develop his occult forces, the man had begun to murder one child after another. To extinguish life, that is something that he saw as quite a special tool, by which he could derive from nature what he could not learn himself. And in the process, it turned out, that this good man had murdered 800 children in a short time.
Now, some of you – who have read Mabel Collins' "Flita", "True Stories of a Black Magician", will grasp, why there is a murder in the beginning of the book. It belongs to it. "Flita" had been written by someone, who knows that. What the Black Magician wanted, could only be developed under the influence of this murder which stands at the starting point of the story.
And now, consider this story quite seriously, and ask yourselves, what could protect most people from these procedures, through which Man could quite certainly come to possess powers of black magic? Egotism is a very good protective measure against it. Not everyone will let oneself be immediately persuaded, to cut into live flesh, many people would faint at that, which is only an overflowing of selfishness. But owing to its physical effect, this is already a very good method of stopping people from carrying out acts of black magic. In such a way, people's quite healthy egoism protects them, because it appears as a barrier against plunging into using means for attaining powers of black magic.
The betrayal of occult secrets to godless people, as one calls them, is the simplest act. But acts such as have just been described, are about the teaching methods. And what comes after the ABC, when the pupils learn to read if I would tell this, then many of you would probably faint. Then we would rather stop at class one. These things are highly serious, one must not play around with them. For unfortunately, they are much too common in the world, a fact which most people are not even aware of. Most people do not have the will at all, to go into it and find out, how widely spread in the world such things are.
and finally about the sign of Sorat
This second sign one also calls the sign for the "demonic of the earth", for the "Earth Demon". For all the forces, which the black magician develops through the use of such horrendous methods, lead on the earth, in an occult manner, to the proliferation of those forces, which belong to the demonic nature of the earth, and which would lead to the hardening of the earth. Had many people become black magicians, then the result of this would be, that the earth would become more and more similar to the moon, whilst – through the forces of white magic – the earth would become more and more similar to the sun forces, which are astral in the sun.
What would it lead to, if black magic would gain the upper hand on our earth?
It would lead to a hardening of the earth globe, it would lead to the entire earth globe becoming a moon. The forces that have been discarded, have developed from the substance of the earth. They are still present in the layers of the earth. Through white magic, the earth comes closer and closer to becoming sun-like in nature, whereas through the forces of black magic, it comes closer and closer to becoming moon-like.
Through white magic, everything which does not lead to mastering spiritual forces by way of enlightenment, of wisdom, must be overcome. For all such procedures are not attained by way of activity, not by way of insight, through seeing directly into real wisdom, but they are derived out of nature, in that one undertakes, by way of black magic, machinations through which the forces have to be attained without enlightenment.
and to conclude:
Much, much evil would be avoided, if the people would really know occultism and the strict laws which govern it. It is such things, which one has to examine in connection with the theme "White and Black Magic". And if you take much of what was only indicated here into your meditations and serious study, then you will see, that already with these incomplete indications, the beginning steps for many ways are given, in which one can attain to higher knowledge. First and foremost, you will have become persuaded then, that Man cannot speak at all about such things with ordinary human concepts. If one wants to speak about such high or such atrocious things, one has to first formulate new concepts. It is important today, to know such things, for there is much in the world, of which the ordinary person knows nothing, and which he ought to know, so that he can rescue himself from the influences of many magical arts. You also know and see many things as harmless, but they are not harmless at all.
But we can only make a beginning, in order to make further progress in this realm. This beginning has been made in the best way, if the feeling of meaning and the seriousness had at least been awakened. Even if the images cannot be but incomplete, I still hope, that some of what has caused them has reached to you thereby, and that it would cause you to consider the matter with the highest earnestness.
The intellect does not let itself become switched off in Man, without dire consequences (literally it says: without punishment).
Postcriptum from wikipedia:
Gilles de Rais (1405-1440), Baron de Rais, was a knight and lord from Brittany, Anjou and Poitou, a leader in the French army, and a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc. He is best known for his reputation and later conviction as a confessed serial killer of children. ..
After 1432, Rais was accused of engaging in a series of child murders, with victims possibly numbering in the hundreds. The killings came to an end in 1440, when a violent dispute with a clergyman led to an ecclesiastical investigation that brought the crimes to light, and attributed them to Rais. At his trial the parents of missing children in the surrounding area and Rais's own confederates in crime testified against him. He was condemned to death and hanged at Nantes on 26 October 1440.
Rais is believed to be the inspiration for the French folktale "Bluebeard" ("Barbe bleue"), which is earliest recorded in 1697.
1908-06-29-GA104 describes Sorath or the two horned beast as the head of the black magicians in direct opposition to the Christ and to principle of the good, of selflessness and love.
Only when that which in a good sense distinguishes the beings who bring salvation to the human race, only when spiritual eminence is turned to its opposite, only when spiritual power is placed in the service of the lower “I”-principle, can it bring humanity to the point when the beast represented with two horns gains power over it. The misuse of spiritual forces is connected with that seductive power of the beast with the two horns. And we call this abuse of the spiritual power black magic, in contradistinction to its right use, which is white magic. Thus through the separation of the human race there is prepared at the same time the power to attain greater and greater spiritual conditions on the one hand, and thereby to obtain the use of the spiritual forces, and arrive at white magic; while on the other hand abuse of spiritual forces is a preparation for the most fearful kind of power of the two horned beast — black magic. Humanity will finally he divided into beings who practise white magic and those who practise black magic. Thus in the mystery of 666 or Sorath is hidden the secret of black magic; and the tempter to black magic, that most fearful crime in the earth evolution, with which no other crimes can be compared, this seducer is represented by the writer of the Apocalypse as the two-horned beast. Thus there appears on our horizon, so to speak, the division of humanity in the far distant future; the chosen of Christ, who finally will be the white magicians, and the adversaries, the terrible wizards, the black magicians who cannot escape from matter and whom the writer of the Apocalypse describes as those who make prostitution with matter.
Hence this whole practice of black magic, the union which takes place between man and the hardening in matter is presented to him in the spiritual vision of the great Babylon, the community made up of all those who carry on black magic; in the frightful marriage, or rather, unrestrained marriage, between man and the forces of prostituted matter. And thus in the far future we see two powers confronting each other; on the one hand those who swell the population of the great Babylon, and on the other hand chose who rise above matter, who as human beings unite with the principle represented as the Lamb. We see how on the one hand the blackest ones segregate themselves in Babylon, led by all the forces opposing the sun, by Sorath the two-horned beast, and we see those who have developed front the elect, who unite with Christ, or the Lamb, who appears to them; the marriage of the Lamb on the one hand, and that of Babylon, the descending Babylon, on the other! We see Babylon descend into the abyss, and the elect, who have celebrated the marriage with the Lamb, rise to the exercise of the forces of white magic.
And as they not only recognize the spiritual forces but also understand how to operate then magically, they are able to prepare what they possess in the earth for the next planetary incarnation, Jupiter. They sketch out the great outlines, so to speak, which Jupiter is to have. We see the preparatory forms, which are to survive as the forms of the next earth incarnation, as Jupiter, come forth by the power of the white magicians: we see the New Jerusalem produced by white magic. But that which is described as Sorath — 666 — must first be expelled. That which has succumbed to the principle of the two-horned beast, and hence has hardened itself into the beast with the seven heads and ten horns, is driven forth.
There are very few individuals today who have already fallen into black magic in the frightful sense in which this horrible art of humanity must really be spoken of. You will best understand that this really is so if I give you but a slight indication of the way in which black magic is systematically cultivated; then you will see that you may search high and low among all your acquaintances and you will find no one of whom you could believe that he was already inclining to such arts. All the rest is fundamentally only the purest dilettantism which may be easily got rid of in future ages. It is bad enough that in our day things are sometimes praised with the intention to defraud people — which in a certain sense is also the beginning of the art of black magic. It is also bad that certain ideas are percolating, which — although they do not absolutely belong to the black art — nevertheless mislead people; these are the ideas which rule the world to-day in certain, circles and which can flourish amidst materialistic thought, but which although not without danger, will not be irreparable in the next epochs. Only when a man begins to practise the ABC of black magic is he on the dangerous path to the abyss.
The ABC consists in the pupil of a black magician being taught to destroy life quite consciously, and in doing so to cause as much pain as possible and to feel a certain satisfaction in it. When the purpose is to stab or to cut into a living being with the intention of feeling pleasure in that being's pain, that is the ABC of the black arts. We cannot touch upon the further stages, but you will find it horrible enough when you are told that the beginning in black magic is to cut and stab into living flesh, not like the vivisector cuts — this is already had enough, but the principle of vivisection finds its overthrow in the vivisector himself, because in kamaloca he will himself have to feel the pain he has caused his victims, and for this reason will leave vivisection alone in the future. But he who systematically cuts into flesh, and feels satisfaction in it begins to follow the precipitous path of black magic, and this draws him closer and closer to the being described as the two-horned beast.
This seducing being is of quite is different nature from man. It originates from other world periods; it has acquired the tendencies of other world periods and will feel deep satisfaction when it meets with beings such as those evil ones who have refused to take up inwardly the good which can flow from the earth. This being has been unable to receive anything from the earth; it has seen the earthly evolution come but has said, “I have not progressed with the earth in such a way that I can gain anything from earthly existence.” This being could only have got something from the earth by being able to guar the rulership at a certain moment, namely, when the Christ-principle descended to the earth. If the Christ-principle had then been strangled in the germ, if Christ had been overcome by the adversary, it would have been possible for the whole earth to succumb to the Sorath-principle.
This, however, did not take place, and so this being has to be content with those who have not inclined towards the Christ-principle, who have remained embedded in matter; they in the future will form his hosts. Now in order to understand these hosts more clearly we must consider two ideas which in a certain sense may serve as a key to certain chapters of the Apocalypse. We must study the ideas of the “first death” and the “second death.” What is the first death and what is the second death of man, or of humanity? ..
[editor: more see Apocalypse]
In 1909-01-01-GA107, Rudolf Steiner links the end of the Atlantean epoch with the black magic caused by Ahrimanic influences
The Powers who approached man in order to obscure his vision of the other side of divine existence are brought to our notice for the first time in the teachings given to his followers and pupils by Zarathustra, the great leader of the ancient Persians. The mission of Zarathustra was to instill culture into a people who, unlike the ancient Indians, did not by nature yearn perpetually for the spiritual world. Zarathustra's mission was to impart to his people a culture directed to the world of sense, aiming at mastery of the material world through means dependent upon the efforts and labors of physical man. In the civilization of ancient Persia, therefore, man was less subject to the influence of Lucifer than to the influence of that Being who since the middle of the Atlantean epoch had approached mankind, with the result that many of the Initiates at that time had lapsed into the practice of a form of black magic; having been led astray by this tempter, they misused for the purposes of the physical-material world what was accessible to them from the spiritual world. The mighty influence of the forces of black magic which finally led to the destruction of Atlantis had its origin in the temptations of that Being whom Zarathustra taught his people to know as Ahriman (“Angra Mainyu”), the Being who opposed the God of Light proclaimed by Zarathustra as “Ahura Mazdao”, the “Great Aura”.
These two figures — Lucifer and Ahriman — must be clearly distinguished from each other. For Lucifer is a Being who detached himself from the spiritual hosts of heaven after the separation of the sun, whereas Ahriman had already broken away before the separation of the sun and is an embodiment of quite different powers. The result of Lucifer's influence in the Lemurian epoch was merely the corruption of the faculty, still possessed by man in the Atlantean epoch, to manipulate the forces of air and water. In the book entitled From the Akasha Chronicle you will have read that in Atlantean times the seminal forces in plant and animal were still at man's command and could be drawn forth just as the forces used in the form of steam for propelling machines can be extracted from mineral coal to-day. I have told you that when these forces are drawn forth they are connected in a mysterious way with the nature-forces in wind, weather and the like; and if applied by man for purposes running counter to the divine purposes, these nature-forces are called into action against him.
Here lies the cause of the Atlantean flood and of the devastation wrought by the powers of nature which led to the disappearance of the whole continent of Atlantis. But even before that time, man had lost command over the forces of fire and the power to ally them with certain mysterious forces of the earth. Power over the forces of fire and earth in a certain combination had already been withdrawn from man. But now — through the influence of Ahriman and his accomplices — he again acquired a certain mastery over the forces of fire and earth, with dire consequences. And much that is to be heard about the use of fire in ancient Persia is connected with what I am now telling you. Many forces that are applied in black magic and are connected with it, lead to the result that man lays hold of forces of an entirely different nature and thus gains an influence over fire and earth, with terrible and devastating results. The practice of black magic by the descendants of the Atlanteans in ancient Persia would still have been effective had not the teachings of Zarathustra revealed how Ahriman, as an opposing power, ensnares man and clouds his vision of the spiritual reality behind the world of sense. Thus through Zarathustra and his followers, influence was brought to bear upon a large part of Post-Atlantean civilization; on the one hand men were taught of the workings of the sublime God of Light to whom they may turn, and, on the other, of the malefic power of Ahriman and his hosts. ...
.. In the influences of Ahriman, therefore, we have to do with powers of a much lower nature than the influences of Lucifer. Lucifer's influences can never become as evil as the influences of Ahriman and of those Beings who are connected with the powers of fire. The influence of Ahriman or Mephistopheles can bring it about that in order to attain occult knowledge a man is induced, for example, to undertake certain measures with his physical body. The method that consists in the use and misuse of the physical body is the most evil that can possibly be applied for the purpose of acquiring occult powers. It is a fact that in certain school of black magic such practices are taught in abundance. One of the most terrible perversions to which man may be subject occurs when the forces of the physical body are taken as the starting-point for occult training.
It is not possible here to enter into closer detail than the indication that all machinations consisting in any way of a misuse of the forces of the physical body emanate from the influences of Ahriman; and because the effect of this penetrates into man's etheric body, it works as a world of phantoms that is nothing else than the garment of powers which drag man down to a level below that of true manhood. Nearly every ancient civilization — the Indian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Greco-Latin — had its period of decadence; so too the Mysteries, when the Mystery-traditions were no longer preserved in their purity. During these periods many of those who were either pupils of the Initiates but unable to remain at their level or men to whom the secrets of the Mysteries had been unlawfully betrayed, had fallen into perverse and evil paths. Centers of black magic and its forces originated from these influences and have persisted to this day.
From what has been said you can gather that through Christ's Coming, Ahriman has been cast into fetters — if this expression may be used — but only, of course, for those who endeavor unceasingly to fathom the Christ-Mystery. And outside the forces streaming from the Christ-Mystery, protection in the world against the influence of Ahriman will steadily diminish. In a certain sense — and many signs proclaim it — our epoch courts these influences of Ahriman. In certain occult teachings the hosts of Ahriman are also called the Asuras. These are of course, the evil Asuras who at a certain time fell away from the evolutionary path of the Asuras who endowed man with personality. It has already been indicated that these are spiritual Beings who detached themselves from the evolution of the earth before the separation of the sun.
Up to now we have been describing merely the terrible influence that Ahriman can exercise upon a certain abnormal process of development, one that proceeds along occult paths. But in a certain respect the whole of mankind came under the influence of Ahriman during the second half of the Atlantean epoch. The whole Postatlantean epoch has within it, in a certain sense, the aftermath of Ahriman's influence — in one region of the earth more, in another less. But Ahriman's influence has asserted itself everywhere and all the teachings given to the peoples by the ancient Initiates concerning the Spirits of Light who are the opponents of Ahriman were given primarily in order to draw these peoples away from Ahriman's influence. It was a good, wisely led education of mankind.
in GA171, specifically in 1916-09-18-GA171 and 1916-09-24-GA171 (and 1916-09-17-GA171) are covered
- the three year fight of Vitzliputzli with the mighty black magician of Taotl in the year 30 AD in Mexico
- the after-effects of the Atlantean Mysteries in Asia and America, Genghis Khan, the Atlantean impulses in the Mexican Mysteries.
1916-09-24-GA171 talks about the origin of the campaigns of the Huns and the Mongols (Genghis Khan) and its purpose to destry culture
.. in Atlantean times the impulses within the souls of men were turned to the Great Spirit who was designated by a word or sound of which an echo still exists in the Chinese Tao. Such was the designation of the Great Spirit in the time of Atlantis. The luciferic and ahrimanic striving consists essentially in bringing what had come later and what was still to come, into the service of the Tao, into the service of the Great Spirit. This was not, of course, the Great Spirit as he had reigned in Atlantis, but a being who had come after him, a kind of little son.
Lucifer and Ahriman strove to resuscitate Atlantean impulses by reckoning, not with the normal powers of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, but with the impulses that had remained behind in the service of the Great Spirit Tao. The only possibility of achieving this end was to transfer the impulses that had worked in the culture of the now submerged Atlantis to the regions that had emerged after the Atlantean flood. Thus a part of what had succeeded the Great Spirit passed over to the East, to Asia, as it were, where certain mystery cults were gradually established during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries A.D.
These mystery cults assumed a certain character inasmuch as they were a renewal, a revival, of the ancient cult of Tao in its original form, not in the form in which it still exists among the degenerate Chinese who have intellectualized it. These mystery cults in Asia were a revival of that kind of initiation that led to actual perception of the elemental spiritual, living and weaving beneath the material world of the senses, and to actual perception of the One Great Spirit. Certain priests of these Asian mysteries were initiated into the ancient Atlantean cult, which naturally led to delusions because it was unsuited to this later epoch. One of these priests had attained such an advanced stage in his initiation in Asia that he possessed full knowledge of the nature of the Atlantean impulses and was able to hold actual converse with the successor, the unlawful successor, of the Great Spirit Tao. It was he, who, in Asia, transmitted the inspiration he had received through the Great Spirit, to an external, worldly power, to a pupil who then became known in history as Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan was the pupil of a priest who had been initiated into these Asian mysteries, and he instilled into Genghis Khan the following. The time has now come for divine justice to scour the earth. The charge has been laid upon you to put this divine justice into operation, and you must now place yourself at the head of all those men who, starting out from Asia, can enact divine justice all over the earth.
Similar attempts modeled on the campaign of the Huns and so forth, had failed, but now, essentially through the impulse given by this Asian priesthood, the Mongol campaign was set in motion. This campaign was intended to carry into European culture influences that would have caused the souls of men to believe in divine justice, to fall under its sway, and gradually to take leave of the earth without any inclination to return. So the culture of the earth would have been destroyed. This was the inner purpose of the Mongol onslaughts that spread from Asia, and which, as you know, were not overthrown by physical deeds.
This cult was dedicated to the successor, the son of the Great Spirit, in the form he had assumed in America, and who was designated by a sound that approximates Taotl. Taotl is an ahrimanic distortion of the successor of Tao. This being, Taotl did not appear in a physical body but only in an etheric form. His arts, which were essentially impulses for the mechanization of earthly culture and of all earthly life, were acquired through these initiations I have described to you.
Now these initiations had a definite purpose. As has been said, the initiate acquired actual powers of black magic, the application of which would have led to the mechanization of the culture of the earth and to the expulsion of all egos, so that the bodies born would no longer have been capable of bearing an ego. But as forces in the world are in perpetual interaction, he who possessed such powers would also have become earth-bound; the initiate himself would have been permanently fettered to the earth forces. His act bound him to forces of which you will be able to learn something tomorrow at the performance of the scene from Faust, if you will follow attentively what the Lemurs represent. By these practices the initiate united himself with the earth forces and with everything that causes death on the earth. Thereby, he would himself have lost his soul. He saved himself from this fate by bringing it about that, as a result of the excision of the stomach, the soul of the one whom he murdered had lost his desire to come to the earth again and also the soul of the victim was enabled, through the intention of the murderer, to draw the murderer's soul into the realm that was to be founded beyond the earth. The soul of the initiated murderer was thus also to be drawn into the kingdom of Lucifer and Ahriman.
Many opposing sects were founded with the object of countering this devilish cult.
- One such sect was that of Tezcatlipoca. He too was a being who did not appear in a physical body but who was known to many of the Mexican initiates, in spite of the fact that he lived only in an etheric body. Tezcatlipoca was a being akin to Jahve or Jehovah. The aim of his cult, working in opposition to those of Taotl, was to establish a Jahve religion suited to the terrible conditions prevailing in Mexico. Tezcatlipoca was a spirit akin to Jahve.
- Another sect venerated Quetzalcoatl. He, too, was a being who lived only in an etheric body. Quetzalcoatl was a being of whom we may say that he was connected with the Mercury forces. He was connected with medical art of a certain character. Such beings are always described by those who can perceive them through clairvoyance in such a way that the description conveys the impression of the actual reality. When Quetzalcoatl is described as a figure with a serpent-like body, as a green feathered serpent, this indicates to those who understand such matters that he was an actual being, but one who appears only in an etheric body. This cult continued through many millennia. It was widely practiced, not in public but within the precincts of certain Mexican mysteries, in order that the necessary post-Atlantean cultural impulses might be developed in secret in an ahrimanic form.
- A third movement also developed in those regions.
Counter-movements were necessary, and had there been none, the influences of these forces upon the culture of Greece and Rome, and later upon the culture of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, would gradually have become so strong that they would have proved invincible to the progressive powers. Thus, a further counter-movement developed as a result of the birth of a being who lived in a physical body in contrast to those beings who only manifested in etheric bodies. The name given to this Being may be expressed by a combination of syllables that approximate Vitzliputzli. Vitzliputzli was a human being, a being who appeared in a physical body. In Vitzliputzli the spiritual individuality lived who, within a human body, took up the fight against the mysteries I have been describing.
Among the Mexicans it was said of Vitzliputzli that he was born of a virgin who had conceived by the heavenly influence of a bird having drawn near to her. If by occult means, so far as it is possible, we investigate the life of Vitzliputzli in the Western Hemisphere we find this remarkable fact. He lived at the time when, in the Eastern Hemisphere, the Mystery of Golgotha was taking place, namely, between the years 1 and 33 A.D. Vitzliputzli was able to make short shrift of the most important initiates of the Mexican mysteries against whom he waged violent war.
It was human being, an initiate, not one of the three spirits, but an initiate, against whom Vitzliputzli fought. Vitzliputzli, a super-sensible being but in human form, battled with every means at his disposal against the initiate who had been responsible for the greatest number of murders, who had attained the greatest power, and of whom it can be said that if his aim had been realized, it would have betokened the victory of this ahrimanic post-Atlantean culture. Vitzliputzli fought against him and — as already said, this can only be discovered by occult means — in the year 33 A.D. succeeded in causing this mightiest black magician to be crucified. Thus, in the other hemisphere of the earth, an event parallel to the Mystery of Golgotha took place, inasmuch as the greatest black magician of all was crucified by the action of Vitzliputzli who had appeared on the earth for this purpose. As a result, the power of these mysteries was thereby broken so far as the fourth post-Atlantean epoch was concerned. It was subsequently revived, however, and history tells of the fate suffered by numerous Europeans who went to America after the discovery of that continent. Many Europeans met their death at the hands of Mexican priest-initiates who bound them to scaffold-like structures and cut out their stomachs with expert skill. This is a matter of historical knowledge, and it was an aftermath of what I have been describing to you.
1924-05-29-GA236 touches on the Mexican mysteries in the context of Eliphas Levi
Again let me give an example of the way in which karma can be elaborated in this Jupiter-sphere. There was a personality who lived in the later period of Mexican civilisation and was connected with the utterly decadent, pseudo-magical Mystery cults of Mexico; with an intense thirst for knowledge he studied everything with close and meticulous exactitude. My attention was attracted to him through having made the acquaintance some years ago of a curious man who is still engaged in a primitive form of study of the decadent superstitions of the Mexican Mysteries. Such lore is of negligible importance, because anyone who studies these things at the present time is studying pure superstition; it has all become decadent today. But the other personality to whom I am referring imbibed with fervent enthusiasm all that could be learnt from the still flourishing Mexican civilisation before the discovery, the so-called ‘discovery’ of America. In those days Mexican civilisation was still influenced by the Mysteries but was already in the throes of decline.
When mention is made to-ay of Taotl, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoka — the Beings of the Mexican Mysteries — little more is known than the names and a few scattered images. But this personality still knew that Taotl is a Being who as a cosmic, universal Spirit weaves in the clouds, lives in the lightning and the thunder. He knew too that under certain given conditions this Spirit could be invoked into consecrated water by enactments of sacred ritual. And he knew that Quetzalcoatl was a Divine Being who could take hold of man in his circulating blood, in the working of his breath. Living reality of Being was experienced in the Mexican Mysteries by the personality of whom I am speaking. ...
The individuality of whom I am speaking was born again in modern civilisation as Eliphas Levi. Eliphas Levi, therefore, had spent his previous incarnation in the Mexican civilisation, had then passed through the sphere of Jupiter with its wisdom, and in this sphere of Jupiter everything was worked through once again. But Mexican culture is a decadent culture and if you read the books of Eliphas Levi today you will find evidence of great wisdom spread out as it were over something extremely primitive. And one who has insight into these things will say: all this is Jupiter, but inferior Jupiter!
.. The sixth emanation is the emanation of the chemical forces and is found only in rare and exceptional cases on Earth today. It is of course always present, but operates only in the rare cases when black magic is practised. When men become conscious of their chemical emanations and exploit them; black magic is being practised on Earth.
The seventh kind of emanation is the direct spiritual life emanation or vital radiation. The use of chemical emanations today invariably degenerates into black magic which is odious and evil.
Whilst black magic is a force to be reckoned with, the life emanations are no less important. These Moon beings, can, for their part, always rely upon and work with the life emanations and use them for good. They are not black magicians, for black magicians are those who under certain conditions succumb to evil and perpetrate evil on Earth.
But the Moon beings can only rely upon the life emanations at Full Moon, when they can dwell in the Sun's reflected light and are subject to its influences. We must learn to make creative use of what we receive from the spiritual world. The task of our age is to find living ideas, to develop living concepts, perceptions and feelings and not to invoke dead theories. And these are directly inspired by the beings who are united with the Being whom we call Michael.
In the previous Gabriel epoch mankind was more attracted to the material world. Men were unwilling to seek contact with the beings who, under certain circumstances, are closely related to man, because these beings were concerned with something rather alien to that epoch, namely, the occult emanations that proceed from human beings.
Adjoining the physical world that we inhabit between birth and death is a spiritual world, where we are in touch with the dead in the manner already described. But this world has many other aspects, amongst them the virtue of those forces that live in the emanations of man. In a certain sense this is a highly dangerous region of the Cosmos, and as I have often mentioned in these lectures, we must have psychic and spiritual balance and control in order to ensure that all that proceeds from these Moon beings may become a force for good and not for evil.
Indeed, all the forces and impulses of the present epoch must hasten to turn to account the life emanations on Earth. But it is so fatally easy to fall victim to that which lies between this life emanation and all the other emanations we should be only too happy to possess — to fall victim to black magic. Men would so much like to make visible what is expressed in movements — I shall speak of this later — what is present in the fluid emanation, in the light emanation. All this is related to a certain extent to the forces for good and can only make for goodness, because the Michael age is dawning amongst men. Between all this lies black magic that must be resisted if we are to pursue the right methods of spiritual investigation.
- Movements emanating from men (mediumistic power)
- Skin emanations of the fluid element (materialization)
- Skin emanations of the air element (manifestation of the phantom)
- Warmth emanation.
- Light emanation.
- Emanation of chemical forces (black magic).
- Life emanation (Michael: Sun, Gabriel: Moon, Raphael: Mercury)
.. natural science has recently developed a technique which can demonstrate in a dark room certain light radiations and warmth emanations. In this respect the experiments of Moriz Benedikt are most illuminating.
But it has always been the case, and it is still true today, that only those can utilize effectively warmth and light emanations who undertake the preliminary steps which not only involve manipulating the physical world through black magic, but also include the production of hallucinogenic effects by means of special incense-burning and aromas, and the preparation of specific concoctions, and so forth. This is the origin of all those magical practices which are fully described in the old books of magic.
The purpose of these magical ceremonies is to evoke the forces inherent in the light and warmth emanations of man.
In the writings of Eliphas Levi and also in those of Encausse who wrote under the name of Papus you can find highly questionable and dangerous instructions on this subject but we cannot afford to ignore them since we must speak about the objective aspect, the true nature, of these things.
All these things lead directly to black magic which makes use of the spiritual concealed within the earthly element.
What is this spiritual element?
You will find in my book Occult Science — an Outline that at one time the Moon was united with the Earth. Many forces belonging to the Moon were left behind on Earth and are now diffused through minerals, plants and animals. And these Moon forces are still to be found there.
When therefore, we, as terrestrial beings, make use of Moon forces which do not normally belong to minerals, plants, animals and man, we trespass into the realm where we meet with elementary beings who have learned much from the Moon beings, but in a way that is foreign to our world.
The black magician employs Moon forces that still exist on Earth.
But because he works in this way he contacts elementary beings who, as it were, watch — as one watches a game of halma or chess — the right and proper relationships between human beings and Moon beings and so learn to draw very near to the physical world, to peer into the physical world or even to set foot in it. But the normal human being in whom all this remains in the subconscious has no contact with these beings. The black magician who works with the Moon forces, who has captured them in his retorts and crucibles is caught in a vortex of those elementary beings.
Even an honest and upright man can learn from these black magicians. In Faust, Part I, Goethe portrayed a condition where man is the centre of whirling forces, a condition that is dangerously near to black magic.
By exploiting these forces man enters into the region where entities in the service of the Moon beings are ready to associate with human beings. Thus centres of black magic arise where Moon forces cooperate with spirits who have entered directly into their service, a service that makes for evil. And because many activities of this kind have been practised in recent centuries, a dangerous atmosphere has been created in the Earth. This dangerous atmosphere is undeniably there and is transfused with multitudinous forces that are born of a union of human activities with Moon elements and of dynamic Moon forces with elementary beings in the service of illicit Moon forces. It is this region that is actively opposed to all that is destined to proceed from the Sun region in the Michael age. And this must be taken into special consideration in relation to the life emanation in the sphere of the soul and spirit.
Rudolf Steiner's coverage
Rudolf Steiner did cover the topic of black magic to a very limited extent. As a representative of the White Lodge, his mission and message was about the good and hence he did not elaborate on the other side beyond educating about its existence and warning humanity to raise its awareness so as to be able to cope with the adverse forces consciously. See also the warnings about Ahriman or Mephistopheles (one is least aware of the devil just as he has you by the throat). The coverage of Rakshasas or Asuras, Sorat and black magic is therefore limited. Nevertheless a number of elements from various lectures (extracts on the different topic pages) can be concatenated to develop a picture, see the Aspects above.
Now interestingly, at a certain point, describing his activities and lecturing on various topics, Rudolf Steiner mentions:
“If I would have continued, it would have killed me”
What did he not lecture about any more after 1906-1907?
- One hypothesis is that it may be the topic of the Asuras and Sorat, to the extend it is the form of evil that Man faces in the current epoch. It is the egotism driven evil arising from unbalance in the powers of the I, can be related to the Luciferic influence (Lemurian epoch) and the Ahrimanic influence (Atlantean epoch). Rudolf Steiner's teachings clearly show a focus on these two as contrasted with the third strongest form of Evil which will lead to the War of all against All at the end of the current epoch.
- Another candidate topic is evil in the context of the Interior of the Earth, see Earth's inner layers (only 4 lectures in 1906). In later lectures, Steiner ‘skipped’ this part. An illustration of this is for example 1922-11-26-GA219 where he describes the correspondences between WST (Walking Speaking Talking) between birth/death (physical earth) and death/birth (spiritual), and the interfaces between the earth-man-rhythm and the cosmic-man-rhythms supporting these three faculties of WST .. he covers W (volcanic, earthquakes) and S (meteorology, water, wind, weather), but he skips, does not even mention T (“I’ll talk about that on another occasion” … why? Instead of just mentioning it in a few words).
References and further reading
- Franz Hartmann: Magic, white and black (1888)
- Bernard Nesfield-Cookson (p 180)