Current fifth cultural age

From Anthroposophy

The current cultural age describes a period between 1413 and 3573 characterized by the German and Anglo cultures, it is the fifth cultural age in the Current Postatlantean epoch.


  • development of the consciousness soul, see Development of the I
  • Transition between 4th and 14th century
  • task to come to grips with evil as an impulse in world evolution (1917-11-19-GA178), see a.o.
    • rise of the the adverse powers of opposition: Ahrimanic (untruthfullness, materialism, Mammon .. ), Asuric (black magic, pornography, ..)
    • Future Oriphiel age as a heft cleansing period central in the fifth cultural age
  • spiritual guidance of Mankind by angels (GA015), an intellectual age focused on thinking (1911-11-10-GA130) see Schema FMC00.047 on Current Postatlantean epoch)

Inspirational quotes

1918-01-08-GA180 (SWCC)

.. on the one hand that we are now living in the materialistic age, to which is added abstraction in the sense we have come to know it, namely estrangement from reality; furthermore, all that must break into our age catastrophically is connected with this divorce from reality.

On the other hand, however, it may also be said that compared with the other cultural ages in this epoch, our current fifth period is in a certain respect the greatest age, one that brings most of all to humanity, one that harbours within it immense possibilities for the evolution and existence of mankind.


In this fifth postatlantean age Man has the greatest possibility of making himself spiritual. No age has been so favourable to spirituality as this fifth cultural age. Courage must only be found to drive the money-changers out of the Temple. Courage must be found to confront with the real, abstractions and things estranged from reality, to set against them full reality and therewith the spiritual reality.


Schema FMC00.239 shows the archangelic rulers of approx 354 periods for the current cultural age (plus and minus a cultural age).

See also Spiritual hierarchies and their eigenperiods for more info on the 354 period. Rudolf Steiner uses this period to describe the nature of current Michael age and the Future Oriphiel age.


Lecture coverage and references

1907-06-05-GA099 (SWCC)

Thus you see that with the densification of man in the cosmos is connected a descent into the world of matter. And another force is connected with it which could never have developed without it: — egoism. Egoism has a good and a bad side. It is the foundation of human independence and freedom, but in its reverse aspect the foundation too of all that is bad and evil. But man had to go through this force of egoism if he was to learn to do good of his own freewill. Through the forces which had guided him previously, he would always have been impelled to the good; it had, however, to be possible for him to go his own way. Just as he has descended he must now ascend again to spirituality; and as the descent is linked with the predominance of egoism so does the ascent depend on men's selflessness, their feeling of sympathy for one another, becoming stronger and stronger.

Mankind has evolved through various epochs, first through the old Indian, then the Persian, the Egyptian-Chaldean-Babylonian, the Greco-Latin to the present Fifth epoch. And this will be replaced by a sixth. And as human evolution is working towards this, it is working at the same time at the overcoming of the principle which has been strongest since the time when the etheric body united with the point in the brain of which I spoke to you yesterday. That was the time of the fall into the deepest egoism.

Man was also egotistic in his earlier evolution, but it was then in a different way. The egoism which enters so deeply into the soul as in our present age is inseparable from the predominating materialism; a spiritual age will denote the overcoming of this egoism. Therefore Christianity and all movements imbued with genuine religious life have worked consciously towards breaking through all the old blood-ties.

1917-11-19-GA178 (SWCC)

I have mentioned in the course of these studies that every cultural age in the Postatlantean age has its particular task. I have characterized in general the task of the fifth cultural age, indicating that it is humanity's task in this period to come to grips with evil as an impulse in the evolution of the world.

We have frequently discussed what this means. It cannot be otherwise than that forces that appear at the wrong place appear as evil. They can be conquered for humanity, however, through the exertions of human beings in the current fifth cultural age, so that with these forces of evil something good for the future of the evolution of the whole world is in the position to unfold.

For this reason, the task for the fifth Postatlantean period is a particularly difficult one. As you see, a great many temptations face humanity. When the powers of evil gradually appear, it is natural that Man is more likely under the circumstances to give in to this evil in all realms, rather than taking up the struggle to allow what appears to him as evil to be put in the service of the good in world evolution.

Yet this must happen: the evil must to a certain degree be placed at the service of the good in world evolution. Without this, it would be impossible to enter the sixth cultural age, which will have a completely different task. It will have the task of allowing humanity to live above all in a continuous contemplation of the spiritual world, of spiritual impulses, in spite of the fact that it is still connected with the earth.

Just this task in the fifth cultural age, that of opposing evil, is connected with the new possibility of a certain kind of personal darkening for humanity.


Related pages

References and further reading