Christ in the etheric
'Christ in the etheric' refers to the Second Coming, and the appearance of Christ to humanity not in physical incarnate form, but in the etheric, from the 20th century onwards. Christian theology sometimes uses the greek term Parousia for this second coming.
Christ has been the spirit of the Earth since the Mystery of Golgotha, so the appearance in the etheric to humanity has to do both with the changed conditions of the zodiacal influences and consciousness of humanity, as that is a very individual experience and not - so to speak - for the whole of humanity at the same time.
It is part of a gradual but continious transition and blossoming of new faculties in mankind (see Schema FMC00.081) that will gradually increase over the next centuries and millenia (see Schema FMC00.376).
- from the 1930 onwards, for a period of 500 years. See table Schema FMC00.081 below for an overview. Mankind will develop natural clairvoyance after the end of the dark age (kali yoga) in 1899, and has about 2500 years to develop clairvoyant faculties. This leads into the sixth cultural age, see also FMC00.232 on Humanity is getting younger. Depending on the lecture different timeframes are mentioned, eg "in the next 3000 years" in 1911-08-18-GA129.
- the German folk soul archangel has a special affinity with spiritual science, hence "in the Germanic North the best conditions are to be found for the comprehension of the Second Coming of Christ" (1910-06-17-GA121)
- the dangers that the new faculties and experiences go by unnoticed, not understood (1910-02-06-GA118 and Alfred Seeger in 'Further reading' section below)
- experiences of the Christ light figure during Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
- the most famous is the one by George G. Ritchie 'Return from tomorrow' (1978), sparking further research by Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, and others
- beholding the Christ can only be attained outside the physical body (1917-08-14-GA176)
- See also: Christ in the future cultural ages and next epoch
Schema FMC00.081 gives an overview of some of the expected faculties related to the appearance of 'Christ in the etheric' due to the arising new clairvoyance. As depicted in the GA191 BBD (see eg FMC00.013) this clairvoyance will be a mixture of wisdom with moral consciousness, hence the elements related to karma in the table below.
Schema FMC00.376 provides an overview of the Christ Impulse with its four main interventions in the development of humanity ('I' in red), how the Christ was observed by initiates in the current epoch ('O' in grey), how the Christ will manifest in the higher worlds in the next cultural ages ('M' in blue), and the workings of the Christ Impulse per period of 800 years '(W' in green). Lecture references are given as indication but not exhaustively, for these refer to the corresponding topic pages.
This 'includes' the Schemas Schema FMC00.082 and Schema FMC00.081 above, and provides a seamless connection to Schema FMC00.373A.
Lecture coverage and references
The main GA volume for 'Christ in the etheric' is 1910-GA118.
The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric (1983) is a book bundling lectures on the theme, available online
The references below may be read or interpreted in this context:
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.
43 But understand this: If the homeowner had known in which watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 For this reason, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
See also the message known as 'a call to my people', an angelic prophetic message to Beinsa Douno of 1898-10-08, available in PDF form on
Beinsa Douno#References and further reading
1910-01-12-GA117A and 1910-01-12-GA117A
(Stockholm) appear to be the first lectures, after tentative hint in esoteric lesson 1907-12-05.
- 1910-01-12-GA117A has only half a page of lecture notes. It mentions that Christ will re-appear in etheric form, refers to the Book fo Revelation (I will come, but take hold that you don't recognize me), and states that humanity has 2500 years to develop its clairvoyant faculties. It also mentions 1933 as the year by which the spiritual esoteric nature of the Gospels has to be recognized as a preparation to this, and that from 1933 people sent by schools of black magic will spread the message of a physical Christ.
- 1910-01-15-GA117A states that
.. just as Christ once walked on Earth and was visible with physical eyes to a certain number of people, so will he become visible for all people in the astral world in the next period of time. This period will last about 500 years, from 1899 to 2500. In this period, men will start to rise to the spiritual world where He is, and all eyes will then be openen so the whole of humanity will understand and acknowledge the Christ. But we already have to start now to prepare people for this great event, just as John the Baptist ..
[regarding the Mystery of Golgotha] .. it was by no means universally realised that something of supreme importance had taken place: that the Divine Light had shone into the darkness of earth and that it was now possible for men to be brought safely through the Kali Yuga. The possibility of further evolution for humanity was ensured because there were certain souls who understood what was at stake at that point of time and knew what it signified that Christ had been upon earth.
If you were to transfer yourselves in thought to that time, you would realise that it was quite possible to live without knowing anything at all of the advent of Christ Jesus on the physical plane — it was quite possible to live on Earth without having any consciousness of this most momentous event.
[Christ in the etheric]
Would it not also be possible today for something of infinite importance to take place without men being aware of it? Might not our contemporaries fail to have the slightest inkling of the most important happening in the world at the present time?
It might well be so. For something of supreme importance is taking place, although it is perceptible only to the eyes of spirit. There is a great deal of talk about periods of transition; we ourselves are actually living in a very important one. And its importance lies in the fact that the Dark Age has run its course and a new age is beginning, when slowly and by degrees the souls of men will change and new faculties will be developed.
The fact that the vast majority of men are entirely unaware of this need not be a cause of surprise, for it was the same when the Christ Event took place at the beginning of our era. Kali Yuga came to an end in the year 1899 and we have now to live on into a new age. What is beginning is slowly preparing men for new faculties of soul.
The first indications of these new faculties will be noticeable in isolated souls comparatively soon now, and they will become more clearly apparent in the middle of the thirties of this century, approximately in the period between 1930 and 1940. The years 1933, 1935 and 1937 will be particularly important. Very special faculties will then reveal themselves in human beings as natural gifts. Great changes will take place during this period and biblical prophecies will be fulfilled. Everything will change for souls who are living on earth and also for those who are no longer in physical bodies. Whatever their realm of existence, souls are on the way to possessing entirely new faculties. Everything is changing — but the happening of supreme importance in our time is a deeply incisive transformation of the faculties of the human soul.
Kali Yuga is over and the souls of men are now beginning to develop new faculties. These faculties — because this is the purpose of the epoch — will of themselves draw forth from souls certain powers of clairvoyance which during Kali Yuga had necessarily to be submerged in the realm of the unconscious. A number of souls will experience the strange condition of having I-consciousness but at the same time the feeling of living in a world essentially different from the world known to their ordinary consciousness. The experience will be shadowy, like a divination, as though an operation had been performed on one born blind. ... Through what we call esoteric training these clairvoyant faculties will be attained in a far better form. But because human beings progress, they will appear in mankind in their very earliest beginnings, in their most elementary stages, through the natural process of evolution.
[Foresight of 20th century - see also 1917-09-25-GA176 on History]
But it might very easily happen — indeed, far more easily now than at any earlier time — that men would prove incapable of grasping this event of such supreme importance for humanity, incapable of realising that this denotes an actual glimpse into a spiritual world, although still shadowy and dim. There might, for example, be so much wickedness, so much materialism on the earth that the majority of men would show not the slightest understanding, and regard those who have this clairvoyance as lunatics, shutting them up in asylums together with those whose minds are obviously deranged. This point of time might pass men by without leaving a trace, although today we too are letting the call of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, and of Christ Himself, again resound: A new epoch is at hand when the souls of men must take a step upward into the kingdoms of heaven.
The great event might very easily pass without being understood by men. ... If between the years 1930 and 1940 the materialists were to say triumphantly: True, there have been a number of fools but no sign whatever of the expected great event ... this would not in the least disprove what has been said. But if the materialists were to win the day and mankind were to overlook these happenings altogether, it would be a dire misfortune. Even if men should prove incapable of perceiving them, great things will come to pass.
One is that it will be possible for men to acquire the new faculty of perception in the etheric world — a certain number to begin with, and they will be followed by more and more others, for mankind will have 2.500 years during which to develop these faculties in greater and greater perfection.
This opportunity must not be missed. If it were, this would be a tragic misfortune and mankind would then be obliged to wait until a later epoch in order to retrieve the lost opportunity and subsequently to develop the new faculty. This faculty will consist in men being able to see in their environment something of the etheric world which hitherto they have not normally been able to see. Man now sees only the human physical body, but then he will be able to see the etheric body at least as a shadowy picture and also to perceive the connection between deeper happenings in the etheric world. He will have pictures and premonitions of happenings in the spiritual world and find that in three or four days’ time such happenings take place on the physical plane. We will see certain things in etheric pictures and know that to-morrow or in a few days’ time this or that will happen.
These faculties of the human soul will be transformed. And what is associated with this? The Being we call the Christ was once on earth in the flesh at the beginning of our era. He will never come again in a physical body, for that was a unique event and will not be repeated. But He will come again in an etheric form in the period indicated. Men will learn to perceive Christ inasmuch as through this etheric sight they will grow towards Him. He does not now descend as far as the physical body but only as far as the etheric body; men must therefore grow to the stage where He can be perceived. For Christ spoke truly when He said: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the days of earth.” He is present in our spiritual world ... and those especially blessed can always see Him in this spiritual, etheric world.
A man who was convinced with particular intensity through such perception, was Paul — in the vision at Damascus. But this etheric sight will develop in individual human beings as a natural faculty. In days to come it will be more and more possible for men to experience what Paul experienced at Damascus.
We are now able to grasp quite a different aspect of Spiritual Science. We realise that it is a preparation for the actual event of the new Appearance of Christ. Christ will appear again inasmuch as with their etheric sight men will raise themselves to Him. When this is understood, Spiritual Science is disclosed as the means of preparing men to recognise the return of Christ, in order that it shall not be their misfortune to overlook this event but that they shall be mature enough to grasp the great happening of the Second Coming of Christ. Men will become capable of seeing etheric bodies and among them, too, the etheric body of Christ; that is to say, they will grow into a world where Christ will be revealed to their newly awakened faculties.
It will then no longer be necessary to amass all kinds of documentary evidence to prove the existence of Christ; there will be eye-witnesses of the presence of the Living Christ, men who will know Him in His etheric body. And from this experience they will realise that this is the same Being who at the beginning of our era fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha, that He is indeed the Christ. Just as Paul at Damascus was convinced at the time: This is Christ! ... so there will be men whose experiences in the etheric world will convince them that in very truth Christ lives.
The supreme mystery of the age in which we are living is the Second Coming of Christ — that is its true nature. But the materialistic mind will in a certain sense appropriate this event. What has now been said — that all the data of genuine spiritual knowledge point to this age — will often be proclaimed in the years immediately ahead. But the materialistic mind corrupts everything to-day, and what will happen is that this kind of thinking will be quite incapable of conceiving that the souls of men must advance to the stage of etheric sight and therewith to vision of Christ in the etheric body.
Materialistic thinking will conceive of this event as a descent of Christ in the flesh, as an incarnation in the flesh. A number of persons in their boundless arrogance will turn this to their own advantage and announce themselves to men as the reincarnated Christ. The near future may therefore bring false Christs, but anthroposophists should be so fully prepared for the spiritual life that they will not confuse the return of Christ in a spiritual body, perceptible only to higher vision, with a return in a physical body of flesh. This will be one of the most terrible temptations besetting mankind and to lead men past this temptation will be the :task of those who learn through Spiritual Science to rise in the true sense to an understanding of the Spirit, who try not to drag spirit down into matter but to ascend into the spiritual world themselves. Thus we may speak of the return of Christ and of the fact that we rise to Christ in the spiritual world through acquiring the faculty of etheric vision.
Christ is ever present, but He is in the spiritual world. We can reach Him when we rise into that world. All anthroposophical teaching should be transformed within us into an indomitable will not to allow this event to pass unnoticed but in the time that remains to us gradually to educate human beings who will be capable of developing these new faculties and therewith to unite anew with Christ. Otherwise, before such an opportunity could again arise, humanity would have to wait for long, long ages ... indeed, until a new incarnation of the Earth. If this event of the return of Christ were to be overlooked, the vision of Christ in the etheric body would be restricted to those who are willing to fit themselves for such an experience through esoteric training. But the really momentous fact of these faculties being acquired by humanity in general, by all men, of this great event being understood by means of faculties developing naturally in all men ... that would be impossible for long, long ages.
[Importance spiritual science]
Obviously, therefore, there is something in our age that justifies the existence and the work of Spiritual Science in the world. Its aim is not merely to satisfy theoretical needs or scientific curiosity. To prepare men for this great event, to prepare them to take their rightful place in the epoch in which they live and with clarity of understanding and knowledge to perceive what is actually present but may pass men by without being brought to fruition — such is the aim of Spiritual Science.
It will be of the utmost importance to recognise and understand this event of Christ's Appearance, for it will be followed by other events. Just as other happenings preceded the Christ Event in Palestine, so will those who prophetically foretold His coming follow Him after the time referred to, after He Himself has become visible to mankind again in the etheric body. The preparers of His coming will be recognisable in a new form to men who have experienced the new Christ Event. Those who lived on earth as Moses, Abraham and the Prophets will be recognisable once again. And it will be known that just as Abraham preceded Christ as a preparer, he also takes over the mission, after Christ's coming, of being a helper in His work. Thus a man who does not sleep through the event of supreme importance in the immediate future gladly finds his way into fellowship with all those who, as the Patriarchs, preceded the Christ Event; he allies himself with them. The whole choir of those to whose level we shall thus be able to rise is again revealed. The one who led mankind downwards to the physical plane appears again after Christ and leads men upwards again, unites them again with the spiritual worlds. [See the following lecture.]
Looking far back into the past we come .to that point of time in the evolution of humanity of which we say: from then onwards humanity descends farther and farther away from the spiritual world into the physical world. Although the following picture also has its material aspect, it can nevertheless be used here. In earlier times man was a companion of spiritual Beings and because his spirit lived in the spiritual world he was a son of the Gods. But the soul, descending ever more deeply into bodily incarnation, participated to a constantly increasing extent in the outer world. The son of the Gods within man took delight in the daughters of the earth, that is to say in those souls who were drawn to the physical world. This in turn means: the human spirit, in earlier times charged through and through with divine spirituality, sank down into physical materiality, became the spouse of the brain-bound intellect and by it was entangled in the web of the physical world of sense. And now the human spirit must re-ascend along the path by which the descent was once made and become again a son of the Gods. The human spirit which had become the son of man would perish in the physical world ifthis son of man were not to climb upwards again to the Divine Beings, to the light of the spiritual world, finding delight in times to come in the daughters of the Gods. It was necessary for the evolution of mankind that the sons of the Gods should unite with the daughters of men, with the souls who are fettered to the earth, in order that as the son of man the human spirit should learn to master the physical plane. But it is necessary that the human being of the future, the son of man, shall take delight in the daughters of the Gods, in the divine-spiritual light of wisdom with which he must unite in order then to grow upwards again into the world of the Gods.
The will of man must be fired by the divine wisdom, and the most powerful impulse for this will be if to those who have truly prepared themselves the sublime ether-form of Christ Jesus becomes perceptible. To a man in whom natural clairvoyance has developed this will be like a Second Coming of Christ Jesus, just as the etheric Christ appeared as a spiritual Being to Paul. Christ will appear again to men when they realise that they must use to this end the faculties with which evolution itself will equip the human soul.
Let us therefore use Spiritual Science not merely to satisfy our curiosity, but in such a way that it will make us worthier to fulfil the great tasks and missions devolving upon the human race.
Answer given by Dr. Steiner to questions asked in connection with the foregoing lecture
When light has been thrown, as it has been today, upon mysteries of a more intimate kind, let us not treat them as thoughtlessly as certain subjects are wont to be treated to-day, but realise that Anthroposophy must be for us something altogether different from a theory. The teaching has, of course, to be given; for how would it be possible to rise to thoughts such as have been voiced to-day if they could not be received in the form of teaching? The essence of this teaching, however, is that it does not remain as such but is re-moulded in the soul into qualities of heart and character, into an entirely different attitude of mind, making different men of us. The teaching should guide us how to make the right use of our incarnations so that in the course of them we can develop into something quite different.
I have tried not to say a word too much or too little and have therefore given only fleeting indications of matters of great moment. But What has been said is of significance not only for the souls who will be incarnated on the physical plane in the period from 1930 to 1940 but also for those who will then be in the spiritual world between death and a new birth; souls work down from the spiritual world into the world of the living, even though the latter may know nothing of it. Through the new Christ Event, this communion between souls who are incarnated here on the physical plane and souls already in the spiritual world will become an increasingly conscious communion. Active co-operation between human beings in incarnation and spiritual beings will then be possible; this should already have been indicated when it was said that the Prophets appear again among men on the earth.
You have therefore to conceive that when these great times arrive in the future there will be a more conscious mutual co-operation between men in the physical world and in the spiritual world. This is not possible to-day because of the absence of a common language. Here in the physical world the only words men use in their languages designate physical things and physical conditions. The world in which human beings live between death and a new birth is quite different from the world immediately surrounding us, and they speak a different language. The Dead can take in only what is spoken in the sense of Spiritual Science — nothing else. Therefore in Anthroposophy we are cultivating something that will be more and more intelligible to the Dead and we are speaking also for those who are living between death and a new birth.
Humanity is passing into a new era when the strength of the influences from the spiritual world will steadily increase. The great events of the immediate future will be perceptible in all worlds.
Those, too, who are living between death and a new birth will have new experiences as the result of the new Christ Event in the etheric world. But if they made no preparation in themselves while on earth, they would no more understand the event than would men incarnated on the earth, unless these had prepared themselves to respond in the right way. It is essential for all souls now incarnated — no matter whether they will then still be in physical incarnation or not — that through the assimilation of anthroposophical truths they should prepare themselves for these important future events. If they fail to receive into their earthly consciousness what Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science has to give, they will have to wait for a new incarnation in order to have the possibility here on earth of assimilating the corresponding teachings. For there are things that can be experienced and learnt only on earth.
Hence it is said that in the spiritual world there is, for example, no possibility of knowing death — and it was necessary for a God to descend into the physical world in order that He might die. Knowledge of what the Mystery of Golgotha is can be acquired in no other world in the way that is possible in the physical world. We have been led down into the physical world in order to acquire something that can be acquired only there. And Christ came down to humanity because it was only in the physical world that He could reveal to men — could enable them to experience in the Mystery of Golgotha — something that, having let its fruits ripen in the spiritual world, carries those fruits onward. But the seeds must be laid down and spread abroad in the physical world.
quote A stresses the danger things pass by unnoticed or not understood
Something could certainly happen now that would crush the bud of these delicate faculties of soul. This danger exists when people will not listen to the teachings of spiritual science, when they close themselves to them. Then the persons in whom these faculties appear will be called fantastic and foolish and will be locked up in mental hospitals. Many will themselves believe that they have had hallucinations; others will be afraid to speak about them, dreading to be laughed at or ridiculed. All this can lead to destruction of the new faculties of soul. Clever and enlightened persons in that era — you can put “enlightened” in quotation marks — will then say, “Look here! People lived long ago who declared that in our age there would be individuals with special faculties of soul. Where are these people? We are not aware of them.” Nevertheless, the prophecy of spiritual science will have been fulfilled. Although everything could be stifled by the increasing power of materialism, one can expect from souls today an understanding for that freer and lighter age just beginning.
this is the only public lecture, in Kristiana Oslo, where Rudolf Steiner talks about Christ in the etheric
longer extract for context on: Nerthus#1910-06-17-GA121
You will find all this wonderfully expressed in the pictures of this Germanic Scandinavian mythology. Those of you who will go more deeply into these things, will be gradually convinced that this is no fantasy; but that what has been implanted, inoculated into the thoughts and feelings of this northern people by means of these pictures, really comes from the schools of the Initiates. Thus a very great deal remained in the guiding archangel or folk-spirit of the North, of the old education through clairvoyant perception of that which may grow up in a soul which, in its development on the physical plane, connects itself on to a clairvoyant development.
Although outwardly it may seem different at the present day, yet the archangel of the Germanic North has within him this tendency, and this enables him to understand modern spiritual science especially well and to transform it in the manner corresponding to its national character.
Hence also you will see why I have said that in the Germanic North the best conditions are to be found for the comprehension of that which I could only indicate briefly in my open lecture on the Second Coming of Christ.
Spiritual research at the present time shows us that after Kali Yuga had run its course, which lasted for five thousand years (from about 3100 BC to 1899 AD), new capacities begin to develop in Man. These will at first appear in single individuals, in a few especially gifted ones only. It will come about, for instance, that persons will be able, through the natural evolution of their capacities, to see something of what is announced only by anthroposophy, by spiritual research.
That will be the greatest event for the future history of the human soul. It is the event for which Spiritual Science must prepare, so that the soul may become capable of acquiring the etheric vision. In the next three thousand years it will lay hold of more and more souls, the next three thousand years will be devoted to kindling the forces in the human soul which will make it aware of the etheric wonders of Nature around it. It will begin to happen in our own century that one here and one there will see with their etheric souls the reappearing Christ, and within the next three thousand years more and more men will see Him. Then will come the fulfilment of the true oriental tradition, a tradition with which all true occultism is in agreement. At the end of three thousand years the Maitreya Buddha will descend, and will speak to humanity in a form which every human soul will understand, and will mediate the Christ-nature to man. That is the secret guarded by oriental mysticism, that about three thousand years after our time the Maitreya Buddha will appear. What can be added as the contribution of western culture is that the cosmic Individuality who has only once appeared in a human body will become ever more visible to the etheric vision of man; you will find this again emphasised in my Mystery Play, The Soul's Probation. The Soul's Probation. Thereby He will become a trusted friend of the human soul. Just as two thousand years ago the Buddha spoke of what was natural to the best human souls of his time, so in words which will thrill the soul, the Maitreya Buddha will be able to proclaim everywhere what today cannot be proclaimed publicly: the vision of the Christ in the etheric world which is to come. That is the greatest event of the twentieth century, this upward development of human nature towards what we may call the recurrence of the vision of St. Paul. In the vision at Damascus it came to one person only; in the future it will come little by little to all humanity, beginning in our own century.
If this comes to pass, individuals will be able to receive and comprehend the event that has its beginning in the twentieth century: this event is the appearance of the Christ as an etheric being (in contrast to the physical christ of Palestine).
For we have now reached the point of time when the etheric Christ enters into the life of the Earth and will become visible.
At first to a small number of individuals through a form of natural clairvoyance. Then in the course of the next three thousand years, He will become visible to greater and greater numbers of people.
This will inevitably come to pass in the natural course of development. That it will come to pass is as true as were the achievements of electricity in the nineteenth century.
A number of individuals will see the Etheric Christ and will themselves experience the event that took place at Damascus.
But, this will depend upon such men learning to be alert to the moment when Christ draws near to them.
In only a few decades from now it will happen, particularly to those who are young - already preparation is being made for this - that some individual here or there has certain experiences. If he has sharpened his vision through having assimilated anthroposophy, he may become aware that suddenly someone has come near to help him, to make him alert to this or that. The truth is that Christ has come to him, although he believes that what he saw is a physical man. He will come to realise that what he saw was a super-sensible being, because it immediately vanishes. Many a human being will have this experience when sitting silent in his room, heavy-hearted and oppressed, not knowing which way to turn. The door will open, and the etheric Christ will appear and speak words of consolation to him. The Christ will become a living comforter to men. However strange it may as yet seem, it is true nevertheless that many a time when people - even in considerable numbers - are sitting together, not knowing what to do, and waiting, they will see the etheric Christ.
He will himself be there, will confer with them, will make his voice heard in such gatherings. These times are approaching, and the positive, constructive element now described will take real effect in the evolution of mankind.
No word shall be said here against the great advances made by culture in our day; these achievements are essential for the welfare and the freedom of men. But whatever can be gained in the way of outer progress in mastering the forces of nature, is something small and insignificant compared with the blessing bestowed upon the individual who experiences the awakening soul through Christ, the Christ who will now be operative in human culture and its concerns.
Men will thereby acquire forces that make for unification. In very truth Christ brings constructive forces into human culture and civilisation.
Christ's approach already perceptible for initiate from 1909 onwards on astral plan, becoming accessible for humanity as supersensible experience from 1930 onwards
We have indicated that this twentieth century must bring to humanity the Vision of the etheric Christ. Just as it truly happened — as we have often said — that at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha Christ walked among men in a physical form, in one known part of the earth, so will the etheric Christ walk among men in the twentieth century, the whole earth over. This event must not pass unobserved by humanity, for that would be sinning against the salvation of the world. Humanity must have its attention roused, so that a sufficient number of persons may be ready really to see the Christ Who will come and Who must be seen.
Now, such an event as this cannot come quite suddenly, even as the event of Golgotha did not come suddenly but was prepared for during thirty-three years. The point of time when the event is to occur — this time spiritually — is very near and will have a like significance for man as the event of Golgotha on the physical plane. Hence, if you consider the facts alluded to above, you will not find it difficult to believe me when I say that He is already present in the form in which He will be seen in the great moment of evolution in the twentieth century, that the great moment is being now prepared. You will not consider it incredible, when I say that moment is now being prepared. Yes, we may say that although humanity seems as regards its present actions far from being permeated with the Christ-Spirit on the physical plane, yet if men's souls will but open themselves to Him, the Christ, Who is now approaching, is very near. The occultist is able to point out that since the year 1909 or thereabouts what is to come is being distinctly and perceptibly prepared for, that since the year 1909 we are inwardly living in a very special time. It is possible today, if we do but seek Him, to be very near to Christ, to find Him in a quite different way than has been hitherto possible.
We are living at a time when this must be understood. Many such things in human evolution announce themselves through contrasts. In our own age something great and significant is announced by a great contrast. For with the coming Christ, with the presence of Christ, will come the time when men will learn to enquire of Him, not only concerning their souls, but concerning their immortal part on earth. Christ is not merely a Ruler of men, but their Brother, Who, particularly in the near future, wishes to be consulted on all the details of life. In anything we undertake today we act in the opposite way. Events seem to be accomplished today, in which men appear to be as far removed as possible from any appeal to Christ.
We must ask ourselves this question: Who is there today who stops to enquire: ‘What would Christ Jesus say to what is now taking place?’ Who puts such a question to himself? Many say they do, but it would be sacrilegious to believe that they put the question in the form in which it is put here, addressing it directly to Christ Himself. Yet the time must come and cannot be far distant, when men's souls will, in their immortal part, ask of Christ, when they think of undertaking something: ‘Ought we to do this or not?’ Then human souls will see Christ standing by them as the beloved Companion and they will not only obtain consolation and strength from the Christ-Being, but will also receive instruction from Him as to what is to be done.
The true and therefore effective Christ impulse can in our time be presented by no other means than spiritual science.
For spiritual science is concerned with spiritual perception which is attained outside the body and therefore where the possibility exists of beholding again the Christ in his true form. As long as one is within the body the eye can indeed behold colors but it cannot behold itself.
When one betakes oneself out of the body in spiritual perception one beholds the impulse of Christ through the Christ impulse itself; just as when one sees oneself from the outside one sees the eye.
What Man can find in spiritual science he cannot find in any historical account to be a description of Christ in his spiritual form. Just as spiritual science can describe a faculty of sight which is on a level higher than that of the eye, so it can describe the Christ impulse through which the spiritual world becomes visible. It is therefore possible to attain insight into the Christ impulse, but insight does not prevent attacks from Ahriman.
see below, 'Note  - References to experience reports'
The Danish writer Hans Heltofe tells about his experiences in a German Gestapo prison in the chronicle of the Copenhagen newspaper 'Morgenbladet'. This was ao reproduced in the pamphlet Gib Acht [Watch Out], No. 5 from August 15, 1946 and is here quoted from 'Die Christengemeinschaft' [The Christian Community], Volume 20, No. 5/6 of May-June 1948 where Wilhelm Kelber gathered several experiences. This story is quoted by ao Sonja Berger and others. (see 'Further reading' section below)
In a musty cellar, five hundred prisoners of all nationalities are engaged in weaving mats. An overseer enters and beats a Russian to death for a trivial reason, continuing to beat on the lifeless, bloody lump. We prisoners felt every beat on our own body. […]
“It is enough,” cried a Polish prisoner beside himself. “It is enough,” all of us repeated in a dull voice. […]
At the same moment, Jesus entered the cellar. I do not belong to the Church and had never seen Jesus before. And yet, I knew him and realized that the others recognized him as well. […] His whole impression simply went beyond our usual conceptual world. The only thing that is clear to me today is that this Jesus was a something that I cannot describe and yet an ordinary person at the same time. And although I stand outside the Church, I have to say, “It was the very greatest thing that we have ever experienced and can ever experience.”
And now the following happened simultaneously with the entrance of Jesus: The musty cellar room was completely transformed. [… A] hue of light red and blue settled over the cellar, and with it, a sphere spread out giving one the feeling of peace. […] The space to the ceiling seemed so big to me that one could have built a whole barn in it. […] Jesus did not look at us. […] He only looked at the battered man at his feet. His face radiated a love that cannot be expressed in words. […] He leaned over the Russian and gently kissed his bloody, swollen cheek.
Note  - Regarding Christ in the etheric
1 - How to understand what is meant when Rudolf Steiner lectured on 'seeing Christ in the etheric'?
Some schemas can be used to approach this question.
- On the one hand, this points to the new faculty of emerging clairvoyance. This is a latent faculty that will be developing naturally in the centuries and millenia to come, see Schema FMC00.013. It is to be distinguished from the old innate natural clairvoyance (eg of the Atlantean epoch and upto the ancient Indian cultural age in the current epoch) whereby Man was guided by spiritual beings unconsciously.
- On the other hand, there is a clear Christ Impulse link to the resurrected Christ-Jesus and the Damascus experience by Paul of Tarsus.
Schema FMC00.081 (above) shows nine different elements, and with reference to the numbers in that table:
- Numbers 2, 3 and 5 can be related to emerging clairvoyance.
- Numbers 1 and 6 are clearly Christ-Jesus related.
Schema FMC00.376 can be held against Schema FMC00.013, whereby it is interesting to zoom into the period of 800 years and remember the extract from 1913-03-05-GA152 on Christ in the future cultural ages and next epochs
.. from 2400 AD onwards, an age will follow where the forces towards an understanding of the Christ will only come from the Earth. In this age Christ will work from the physical plane into men. In our times the precursors herald that which will be substantial after 2400: the Christ will reveal himself on the physical plane in etheric form.
2 - How can a human Christ-Jesus like figure appear as an etheric projection everywhere on Earth to people individually?
Some angles to approach this:
- The Damascus experience of Paul of Tarsus is described as seeing the glimpse of the Krishna impulse or Adam sister soul.
- The figure of the resurrected Christ-Jesus appeared after the Mystery of Golgotha: what exactly did that appearance consist of. It was not the physical body, but a densified etheric rendering of the resurrection body or cleansed phantom of Jesus. This Jesus body also is the body of the incarnated Adam sister soul in the Nathan Jesus. See Schema FMC00.080 (and/or link to Schema FMC00.043 on The two Jesus Children)
- Rudolf Steiner uses more explicit wordings in certain lectures, describing the fact that Christ-Jesus in the astral world can be perceived in the etheric (to be added)
Note  - References to experience reports
In the section above, one example is given from the second world war (by the Danish writer Hans Heltofe).
This note provides an overview of major reference works for experience reports.
1/ 1948: Kelber
'Die Christengemeinschaft' [The Christian Community], Volume 20, No. 5/6 of May-June 1948 gathers examples. This is reproduced in the 1991 Stöckli book (p248-258) Kelber gives the following examples:
- via Otto Palmer in 1947, report published in Sep 1946 in 'Berliner Heften für geistiges Leben' about an experience in Jan 1943 in Berlin
- Joy Snell: 'Von Dienste der Engel im Diesseits und Jenseits'
- Hans Heltofe (see above)
- Carl Fr. Moerk in 'Brevier eines Heimkehrers aus russicher Gefangenschaft' (1947)
- Heinrich Vogel in the Berlin newspaper 'Neue Zeit' of 1947-11-19
2/ 1975: Hillerdal and Gustafsson
The most well known book about such experiences is the one by Gunnar Hillerdal and Berndt Gustafsson (see 'Further reading' section below).
3/ 1991: Stöckli and authors
Hans Peter van Manen: 'Das Damaskus-Ereignis' (Vol 3) mentions:
- the remarkable story of the Indian Sundar Singh in the 1920s (with references to Söderblom and Michael Biehl)
- Louis de Jong (1914-2005) in Volume 8 of 'The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War I (in NL: 'Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog'), contains reference to Christ visions in concentration camps
- Laurens van der Post in 'The night of the new moon' - an experience in a japanese prisoner camp in juli 1945
- comparing with the story of the french blind Jacques Lusseyran about Buchenwald concentration camp: 'And there was light'
- Simone Weil (1909-1943) 's account in letters found after her death, where she talks about the period 1937-42, is covered by
- Heinz Zimmermann: 'Wege zur Christus-Erfahrung' (Vol 3)
- Barbara Nordmeyer: Christus-Erfahrung im 20 Jahrhundert - Simone Weil (Vol 1)
4/ Various other
However other books exist with stories of very personal experiences that people had, and are brought up in this context. The Siegwart Knijpenga book is an example.
More such stories exist and are referenced though in the context of 'Christ in the etheric' experiences. Below follow unqualified references:
- Willem Brandt: 'De kaars, acht verhalen rond de kersttijd' (1977), the story ‘En de duisternis heeft het niet begrepen'
Note  - Christ experiences during NDEs (Near Death Experiences)
See also: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)
In the 1991 books (see 'Further reading' section below) NDEs are mentioned by various authors.
1/ by Ernst Suter-Schaltenbrand: 'Das Lichtwesen aus der Sicht der Geisteswissenschaft' (Vol 1, p 262-273) also mentioning the work of Kenneth Ring and
- George G. Ritchie (1923-2007): 'Return from tomorrow' (1978)
- this is a very influential book by an American psychiatrist that became a bestseller translated in many languages. Ritchie's experience (at age 20 in 1943) was actually the one that inspired Raymond Moody when they met in 1965 at the University of Virginia. This triggered Moody's research and publication of his worldwide bestseller on NDEs 'Life After Life' (1975).
Rudolf Steiner explains in his lectures (1911-10-07-GA131) that after death, at the entry of the astral world and kamaloka, a deceased soul previously encountered a human figure in the form of Moses, and that since the MoG this figure is now the Christ-Jesus figure.
The observation is made that the Christ figure of light then appears in the short period of near-death, say upto a maximum of 30 minutes in hospital reanimation circumstances. Hence, that this does not relate to the experience after laying off the etheric body, since that is typically in a period of say one to three days.
Though also various lectures by Rudolf Steiner are discussed in the context of NDEs (specifically 1917-08-28-GA176 and 1911-10-07-GA131), it appears the short excerpt from 1917-08-14-GA176 (see above) comes closest to what happens during an NDE.
2/ Hans Peter van Manen: 'Das Damaskus-Ereignis' (Vol 3, p 188-191) discusses Moody's work, and especially the appearance of the 'light being', that in some cases takes on human form, and relates moral questions of life purpose to the life memory panorama view. Of the many such reports, those of a Christian education/religion identify the light being experience with Christ. The key is that the experience changes is life-changing, leading to more earnest motivation for bringing positive change in the world. Which, as van Manen points out, is kind of an un-deniable sign so related with Paul's Damaskus experience.
Van Manen focuses on 1911-10-07-GA131 (and 1911-10-14-GA131) and compares with Moody, and tends to conclude that the light being experience stands at the interface with, and rings the start of the kamaloko moral judgement stage.
References: on the 'light being' in anthroposophical literature, ao:
- Arnold Zeindler in Das Goetheanum 1977-05-15, p 160 about Moody's book
- Gunda and Walter Bühler in Was in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft vorgeht' of 1977-09-04 and 11
- Benno Wolkowicz in Das Goetheanum 1978-04-30
- Christ in the future cultural ages and next epochs
- Christ Module 19 - experiencing the Christ
- Christ Module 2 - Nature of the Christ being
References and further reading
- Arthur Schult: 'Das Damaskuserlebnis des Apostels Paulus und die Gegenwart Christi' (1961)
- Eberhard Kurras: 'Ontmoetingen met Christus.' (1976)
- 'Das ätherische Christus-Wirken (Christuswirken) : eine geisteswissenschaftliche Aufgabenstellung' (1991 by Thomas Stöckli)
- Part 1: various authors: 'Vom Christus Wirken in der Gegenwart, Studiengrundlagen'
- Wilhelm Kelber: 'Die Wiederkehr des natürlichen Hellsehens und die Wiederkunft Christi' (p 248-258)
- Ernst Suter-Schaltenbrand: 'Das Lichtwesen aus der Sicht der Geisteswissenschaft' (p 262-273)
- Alfred Seeger: Damit das neue Christus-Ereignis nicht unbemerkt bleibe (p 274-277)
- Barbara Nordmeyer: Christus-Erfahrung im 20 Jahrhundert - Simone Weil (p 278-284)
- Part 2: Harold Giersch: 'Rudolf Steiner über die Wiederkunft Christi, Leitfaden durch die Schriften und Vorträge mit allen Hinweisen
- Part 3: various authors 'Wege zur Christus Erfahrung' (Christuserfahrung) (various authors commenting on Steiner's statements and various reported experiences)
- Hans Peter van Manen: 'Das Damaskus-Ereignis' (Vol 3, p 188-191)
- Part 1: various authors: 'Vom Christus Wirken in der Gegenwart, Studiengrundlagen'
- Hans-Werner Schroeder: The second coming of Christ (1993), in DE: 'Von der Wiederkunft Christi heute' (1991)
- Peter Tradowsky: 'Ere the Century Closes' (1995)
- Thomas Stöckli: Fragen zum ätherischen Christuswirken in der Gegenwart (answers to questions by Johannes Greiner, published 2010)
- Hans Peter van Manen: 'Wiederkunft und Heimsuchung: Von der Wiederkunft Christi und dem Kommen des Antichrist' (2011)
- Corinna und Ralf Gleide: 'Die neue Leuchtkraft der Erde: Anthroposophie und die Wiederkunft des Christus im Ätherischen' (2012)
- Lorenzo Ravagli: online article (2017)
About Christ experiences
- Various reports in 'Die Christengemeinschaft', eg 2-Feb-1947, May-June 1948, etc (some in Sonja Berger: 'Der Weg der Christus Wesenheit')
- one example is given above under References
- Gunnar Hillerdal and Berndt Gustafsson: 'We experienced Christ' (2016 EN edition, original 1975 in SE, translated in many languages)
- in DE 1979 as 'Sie erlebten Christus - Berichte aus einer Untersuchung des Religionssoziologischen Instituts, Stockholm'
- in NL as 'Christuservaringen heden. Authentieke ervaringen van tijdgenoten'
- in FI as 'He näkivät Jeesuksen : aikamme Kristus-kokemuksia'
- Wolfgang Garvelmann: Ich bin bei euch: Christuserfahrung heute (2002)
- Siegwart Knijpenga: 'Grenservaringen - Christuservaringen' (2012)
- Charlotte Rørth: 'Vi mødte Jesus: Og hvad kommer det andre ved?' (2017) and 'Die Frau, die nicht an Gott glaubte und Jesus traf' (2018 in DE)
- Jesaiah Ben Aharon: The New Experience of the Supersensible: the Knowledge Drama of the Second Coming (1995 in EN, also in DE as 'Die neue Erfahrung des Übersinnlichen - Die anthroposofische Erkenntnissdramatik der Wiederkunft')
- triggered by a personal experience in 1975 when the author was 20 years old
- Sergei O. Prokofieff: 'The Appearance of Christ in the Etheric: Spiritual-Scientific Aspects of the Second Coming' (2012)
- Friedrich Benesch: 'De Hemelvaart van Christus als werkelijkheid.'