Druidic and Trotten mysteries

From Anthroposophy

The Mystery School tradition in Northern and Western Europe spans four cultural ages from the first to the fourth cultural age in the Current Postatlantean epoch, preparing for the important Current fifth cultural age (approx. 1413-3573) where the Christ Impulse is to fructify humanity in the age of the pivotal consciousness soul.

This 'Northern stream', to distinguish from the 'Southern stream' (see Schema FMC00.432) is described in Germanic mythology. Its mystery school tradition include Druidic and Trotten mysteries as well as the Hibernian Mysteries (see Schema FMC00.437 below). This means a period of millenia is covered by the myths and sagas and ancient traditions of this Northern stream, to be contrasted with the different cultures described in much greater detail in the Southern stream.


Druidic Mysteries

  • ‘Drottes’, or Druids, were ancient Germanic initiates. Druids = oak. For this reason the Germanic peoples were said to receive their instructions beneath oak trees. (1904-09-30-GA093)
    • Druid means oak, the strongest tree, and the name has deep meaning as "part of eternity pulsated in them, protected by the drying up of the glands" (in spiritual development part of the gland activity must dry up and release something new at a higher level, this is similar to what takes place in a tree where the outer side dries out and becomes bark to protect the inner life body) (GA266/1, oa 1908-03-14-GA266/1)
  • location and timing:
    • European spiritual life emanated from a mother lodge in Scandinavia, ‘Drottes’ Lodge. (1904-09-30-GA093). Druid culture existed in various regions of France, Germany and Britain (1905-GA090B)
    • Druid culture spread out over a great portion of Northern and Central Europe about 3.000 or 3.500 years ago (approx -1500 to -1000 BC). It was a time before calendars or scripts, when the cosmos, yearly calendar and weather was read from nature by clairvoyant druid priests (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • Its high days, when this culture was in its prime, were followed by an epoch of decadence and degeneration. (1923-09-10-GA228). At the time when Christianity was spreading, much had degenerated and there were many black magicians, so that Christianity came as a redemption. (1904-09-30-GA093)
    • this time which prepared the spiritual life of Europe, and provided the soil on which Christianity could build, came to an end in 60 A.D. (1904-09-30-GA093)
  • sketch of the culture at the time: there was no writing, or trade, the Druid rite was solely connected with agri­culture and animal husbandry when it was at its height, for these made up people's lives then. Tilling the soil and looking after animals was all there was when the Druid cult had its flowering. People dressed in skins, and so on. Craft skills were such that everything they made was made to meet a need. If a man had the time, he’d make something he ndeed to wear, or an object such as a knife made of very hard stone, for example, which he would work on, and so on. The important things were the crops and the animals, and for these, people wanted to know from their gods when they should do particular things.
  • Druid priests culture:
    • They were the authorities for the religious requirements and the social impulses, also for the healing methods of that time, and united in one all that was later distributed over many branches of human civilization. (1923-09-10-GA228). An immense power lay at the disposal of the ancient ‘Drottes’ priests, a power over life and death. (1904-09-30-GA093)
    • the sublime culture of primordial Druid wisdom was a kind of unconscious memory of the Sun and Moon elements existing in the Earth before the Sun and Moon were separated from it. Initiation in the Druid Mysteries was Sun-Initiation, which gave the Druid priest the spiritual impulse, and as a result he had his Moon-science of Nature. (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • the sign of the swastika was used to indicate to people who came from a long way off that the people in that place saw not only with their physical eyes but also with the lotus flowers and eye of the spirit (1923-09-10-GA350)
    • cromlechs, druid or Sun circles - see also Schema FMC00.434
      • other keywords: dolmen, tumulus, neolithic, megalith or mega (large)-lithos-(stone). Modern dating techniques place most cromlechs and megaliths in the period between 6000 BC and 3000 BC
      • cromlechs were mostly erected over graves - served as burial places, as the most important centers of worship were set up over the graves of fellow-men. When the body dissolves, these upstreaming influences helped to see more properly inside the shadows. Indeed they surved a more important purpose (1923-09-10-GA350, 1923-09-14-GA228, 1923-09-30-GA223)
      • layout: either (a) stones arranged to form a sort of chamber with a larger stone on top; or (b) cromlechs arranged in circles originally arranged in the number twelve, like the twelve signs of the zodiac. Sometimes two circles adjacent, eg a large sun-circle and nearby a smaller one (1923-09-30-GA223). See Schema FMC00.434 and Schema FMC00.435 as well as BBD Schema FMC00.436.
      • location: specifically chosen for in a region with particular atmosphere, so imaginations persist longer than usual, as they are more deeply imprinted in the astral element of the spiritual atmosphere (eg Penmaenmawr) (1923-09-30-GA223)
      • were used to 'read the cosmos' by spiritual observation of the relation of the Earth to the Sun.
        • Single dolmens are instruments whereby the outer physical effects of the Sun were shut off so the clairvoyant Initiate could observe the spiritual influences effects of the Sun in the dark space, how these permeate the Earth and are radiated back from Earth. Other impulses were obtained from observation within the shadow of the Druid circle. They were used at certain times only (see lecture), and for certain things in specific periods of the year. This formed a calendar and knowledge connection (about seasons, weather, nature) between heavens and Man of Earth (1923-09-10-GA228, 1923-09-30-GA223)
        • priest had a 'living' experience: in the shadow of the Sun the spiritual Sun-nature worked into him directly with far deeper forces than our sense impressions today. The priest's breathing changed even as he observed. The outcome was no abstract knowledge, but something that worked in him like the circulation of the blood, pulsating inwardly through him, kindling his human being even into the physical. However this working into the physical was spiritual at the same time, and the inner stimulations he experienced were really his knowledge. (1923-09-10-GA228)
      • the key or secret to understanding megalithic stones, related to the stage of clairvoyance called inspiration, is given by Rudolf Steiner when he visits druid circles in the UK in August 1923:
        • "the hidden forces of the Sun can pass through certain kinds of stone which are impenetrable to physically perceptible Sun-forces, and by passing through them become one-dimensional. If anyone has acquired Inspirational vision, then, although he may not perceive the physical light, he can see the hidden Sun-forces penetrating the otherwise opaque stone; thus the stone is permeable for the Sun's hidden forces and also for the forces of Inspiration" and "Such stones can of course be distributed in the circle so as to show how the spiritual rays of the Sun differ according to particular constellations of the stars" (1923-08-26-GA227)
        • more detailed explanations in 1923-09-14-GA228
    • the Druid culture had a remedy against the 'new' Wotan Impulse and the Mercury quality of deep thought and introspection. The Druids wanted Man to live with Nature and not to sink into himself, they regarded as sick and ill anyone who even attempted to express anything in signs. Anyone who made signs was diseased and must be healed. (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • teachings, see oa: Yggdrasil#1907-10-07-GA101
  • source texts
    • Norse mythology (Odin, Thor, etc) developed only after the height of the Druidic culture, it came because writing was transplanted to that region. That early form of writing was called runes, sticks that would be put together to form letters, very different from today (1923-09-10-GA350)
    • the Edda is an account of what took place in the ancient ‘Drottes’ mysteries, what we read in the Edda or in ancient German sagas refers back to the temples of the ‘Drottes’ or Druids. The author of these tales was always an initiate. The sagas not only have a symbolical or allegorical meaning, but something else as well. (1904-09-30-GA093)
    • the saga of Bonifatius surmounting the oak: represents the fight between Christianity and the ancient Druidic mystery religion, the replacement of northern belief in the gods by Christianity around 600 to 700 BC (1905-03-22-GA90B, 1905-12-10-GA90B). Thor's oak (or Donar's oak) was a sacred tree of the ancient Germanic pagans, and according to a story from the 8th century the Anglo-Saxon missionary Saint Boniface cut down the tree. See more on: Donar's Oak and Boniface and the Oak of Donar]
  • the last druidic lodges were abolished under the reign of Queen Elisabeth I (1533-1603) (1905-12-10-GA90B). These teachings have been preserved and whoever searches will be able to find access to what was taught in these Lodges (1904-09-30-GA093)

Trotten Mysteries

  • name: also 'Drott' .. 'Drottes’ or Druids were ancient Germanic initiates.
  • location: Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Northern Russia
  • timing:
    • the culture of which Northern Germanic mythology echoes, connected with the name of Wotan or Odin, comes after the epoch when the Druid culture was in its prime (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • In the North, we find indications of a great Atlantean initiate Wod-Wodha-Odin, at the same time as the epoch of the Jewish Prophets, in the centuries before Christ (1905-11-05-GA093A)
  • origin
    • the spiritual content of these Mysteries flowed from the East towards the West, in a way 'colonizing' Mysteries, originating from Mysteries in the proximity of the Black Sea and proceeding westwards (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • founded by the Initiate known as Sieg, or Siegfried: Sikke. All Siegfried myths are to be traced back to this being (1909-05-06-GA057)
  • the Wotan impulse and culture (1923-09-10-GA228)
    • originates from a Mercury Mystery, that was added to the impulses of Sun and Moon in the Druid cultures before. The Wotan-Mercury spread and, colonizing, carried his influence westward and was added to the Sun and Moon wisdom.
    • the Wotan impulse is the very first entry of intellectualism. Wotan is the bringer of the Runes or Runic art of writing, the first primitive way of intellectuality as an art of deciphering the universe. The Mercury, Wotan-nature, was added to the Sun-and Moon-natures. And, with the entry of intellectualism also comes that mood of soul which reckons with death.
    • hence, the Wotan Impulse as a preparation for the Christ Impulse. Baldur, the Sun-force coming from Wotan, is the Sun-force reflected back by Mercury, radiating forth from the signs which Man makes out of his intellect. Baldur is a God who falls into death and cannot rise again, it is a forerunner of Christ, who also dies but can rise because He comes directly from the Sun.
  • Initiation
    • process description (1910-03-26-GA119, see also 1909-05-06-GA057 for reference)
      • preparation of the candidate by the Initiator: in fearlessness and in the power of self-conquest. Tests with formidable dangers were imposed which helped him to rise above disasters of every kind even in physical existence
      • with a circle of twelve helpers to support the candidate for initiation with the I-forces gathered in the seasons, whilst the candidate would go into a state of extacy and loose his own I-force whilst rising to experience in the macrocosm. The twelve helpers consisted of three for the forces of each season.
      • Note: this description and lecture reference is put under Trotten Mysteries because of the description in 1909-05-06-GA057

Overall - general

  • the circle of twelve
    • circle of twelve with thirteenth in the middle, symbol of the spiritual White Lodge - originates in Trotten mysteries (1909-09-21-GA114)
    • Sieg gathered together a circle of twelve men, the Thirteenth was recognised to be the representative of the Godhead in the sanctuaries of Initiation. The one in the middle who united in himself all the knowledge was known as the representative of the ‘holy Three’ and around him were the twelve, each one with his definite functions, like members of an organism and regarding themselves as the twelve attributes or qualities of the God. principle: when a number of men are gathered together into a whole, an invisible influence will work in them and they form a kind of higher organism making it possible for a higher spiritual being to dwell among them. (1909-05-06-GA057)
  • The Mystery of Golgotha was received with a much deeper understanding in the ancient European Mysteries than anywhere else. The Initiates in the Druidic and Trotten Mysteries realised in full clarity of consciousness that He whom they had sought had come to Earth as Christ. This sacred Christ Mystery was preserved only in small circles of Initiates as mankind was not ripe to understand the mystery of the blood. (1909-05-06-GA057)
  • Hu and Ciridwen (1905-03-22-GA090B, 1909-05-06-GA057) - two aspects of reality, the Initiate experienced the union between both divinities
    • Hu <-> Osiris <-> the spiritual world which comes to meet the soul, the hidden spirit and all that lies hidden behind the sense-world
    • Ciridwin <-> Isis <-> the seeking soul, the principle which observes; inner knowledge, a quest of the soul for Hu (and Baldur)
    • Man <-> Horus
  • initiation
    • three degrees of initiation: Eubata, Bardus, Druid (1905-03-22-GA090B)
      • the wise priest in the northern mysteries, the druide, was called 'oak' (1905-03-22-GA90B)
    • Baldur (1909-05-06-GA057)
      • after these three degrees of initiation, transformation of higher faculties to 'Baldur' (1905-03-22-GA90B)
      • Baldur is the Spiritual in man, the principle for which the soul is seeking and seeking Baldur thus means initiation
      • the slaying of Baldur represent the killing of the clairvoyant faculties in Man, through the senses Man could prematurely misuse the forces of physical matter (represented by Loki, the power of Fire). Hodur the Blind represents the principle in Man that is incapable of beholding the spiritual world.
    • symbols (1905-03-22-GA090B)
      • 'met' (honey-wine)
      • ring
      • mistletoe
  • other:
    • degeneration of Northern Mysteries through consciousness of personality - misuse of spiritual powers (1909-05-06-GA057)
    • the Druid stone painting by Rudolf Steiner, see Schema FMC00.445 and coverage in 'Further reading' section below


Schema FMC00.434 illustrates some druid stone circles in England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Upper left: a modern objective aerial picture taken from Stonehenge, with a small insert of a virtual reconstruction of its original double circle
  • Lower left: sphere picture of Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland
  • Middle: aerial of Meini Hirion (Druid’s Circle) in Penmaenmawr, Wales. See Wachsmuth's anecdote from walking up to visit this circle with Rudolf Steiner. See also 1923-09-14-GA228
  • Upper right: Avebury, here shown in an old 19th century reconstruction illustration, is the the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. It consists or three circles: originally there were two double circles encircled by a larger one (as shown). The site is dated approx. 3000 BC.
  • Lower right: Grey Wethers in Dartmoor is another example of a double stone circle. Dartmoor is an area exceptionally rich with megalithic remains.

Some other well known druid circles are a.o. the stone circle at Castlerigg (England).

Over 1300 remaining megalithic stone circles have been recorded on the British Isles and Brittany. They are typically dated between 3500 and 900 BC. Although they are very typical of the druid culture in Western Europe, stone circles are not limited to this geography (as illustrated for example by Sine Ngayene in Senegal or Nabta Playa in Egypt).


Schema FMC00.435 shows a selection of dolmens from various locations and countries across Europe.

Some of the larger capstones are estimated to weigh between 50 and 100 tons, for Glendruid (or Brennanstown) dolmen and Brownshill dolmen (both in Ireland).


Schema FMC00.433 illustrates the type of remnants from the ancient European Mysteries usually referred to as a tumulus hill. They were not only buriel site tombs (although this was also one of their natural functions), these were observatories for clairvoyant observation. Dating (see below) places them at the end of the second (ancient Persian) cultural age, so older than the Egypto-Chaldean culture.

  • The Newgrange site is dated approx. 3200 BC, and has a tunnel of about 20m to enter the hill.
  • The Antequerra site also known as the 'Dolmen of Menga' is dated approx. 3700 BC and is one of the largest known ancient megalithic structures in Europe. It was built with thirty-two megaliths, the largest weighing about 180-200 tonnes. Nearby the official site is another unassuming hillside with a similar tunnel and chamber.
  • The Gavrinis site also is dated approx. 3500 BC, and is known for it megalithic art with concentric and spiral motifs.

Some other well known tumulus examples are a.o. Bryn Celli Ddu (on the Welsh island of Anglesey), Klekkende Høj (on the island of Møn in Denmark), the Tumulus of Bougon (France).

Another quite different archeological remnant are for example the Nuraghe, of which about 7000 are found on the Isle of Sardinia, Italy. These tower structures, again closed without windows but just one entrance, are dated between approx. 1800-1600 BC and 700 BC.

Rudolf Steiner describes: "stones are put together to enclose a small space and covered with another stone so as to form a little chamber, where the light of the sun could be cut off, leaving the chamber in darkness" (1923-09-14-GA228)


Schema FMC00.436 is the blackboard drawing by Rudolf Steiner during the lecture of 1923-09-10-GA350


Schema FMC00.445 represents the mid-summer Saint-John's imagination described in 1923-10-12-GA229 as one of the four great imaginations for the cycle of the year. The description from the lecture in the middle, and the blackboard drawing on the right, are linked to the 'Druid Stones' painting by Rudolf Steiner made after his visit to Ilkley Valley in Yorkshire (UK). On the right, picture from the book by Frank Teichmann who describes this correlation between the painting, the landscape of Ilkley, and the Saint-John's imagination in context of the importance of Rudolf Steiner's visits to the Druidic mystery sites in the UK (2002 in DE, 2020 in EN).


Schema FMC00.437 provides a simple overview positioning key Mysteries of the Northern stream, with - in red - a few of the important Mystery Centers as described by Rudolf Steiner (see quotes and references on the right). The dotted line represents the Southern stream in the fourth cultural age of the current Postatlantean epoch. The arrows represent the impulse for the age of the intellectual soul coming from the Colchis Mysteries (to both south and north).


Lecture coverage and references

Overview coverage

1/ Rudolf Steiner's coverage of this topic is scattered across only a few lectures. There's a lecture from 1904, two from the 1909-10 period, and then he comes back to this in 1923 with the cycle 1923-GA232 in Nov-Dec 1923. This may well have been triggered by his visit to Penmaenmawr in August 1923, with several mentions and additional descriptions in the period Aug-Sep 1923.

Indeed in this period he also visited some locations with druid circles (ao Penmaenmawr in Northern Wales, and Ilkley, see the witness reports by a.o. Gunther Wachsmuth, and website links to the stone circles in the UK in the Further reading section below)

For reference: this was the period August 1923, with:

  • Ilkley Conference on Waldorf Education at Ilkley from the 4th-18th August, 1923
  • lecture course 1923-08-GA227 on 'Evolution of consciousness' in Penmaenmawr (Wales, UK) between 19th – 31st August, 1923


2/ In 1909-05-06-GA057 Rudolf Steiner makes the comment

The whole development of the European Mysteries is expressed in yet another cycle of legends and sagas, but it is difficult to speak of them now. We must wait for another occasion.

One cannot be fully certain what he is referring to here, but most probably this is the Wotan Impulse coming from the area of the Black Sea and moving westwards, as covered later in 1923-09-10-GA228 (link with Mystery Center by the Black Sea). This important impulse added the Mercurius intellectuality and rune script to the Sun and Moon culture of the Druidic culture.

Reference extracts


has as title: The Mysteries of the Druids and the ‘Drottes’. This lecture was/is also in GA092.

Note from the lecture it becomes clear that these are both the same: Drottes=Druids.

We are led to a particular centre whence this spiritual life was disseminated. The spiritual life [of Europe] emanated from a mother lodge in Scandinavia, ‘Drottes’ Lodge. Druids = Oak. For this reason the Germanic peoples were said to receive their instructions beneath oak trees.

‘Drottes’, or Druids, were ancient Germanic initiates. They still existed in England till Elizabethan times. All that we read in the Edda or can find in the ancient German sagas refers back to the temples of the ‘Drottes’ or Druids. The author of these tales was always an initiate. The sagas not only have a symbolical or allegorical meaning, but something else as well.

Example: We know the saga of Baldur. We know that he is the hope of the gods, that he is killed by the god Loki with a branch of mistletoe. The God of Light is killed. This whole story has a deep mystery content which all who underwent initiation not only had to learn, but had to experience.

The Mysteries. Initiation: the first deed was called the search for the body of Baldur. It was supposed that Baldur was always alive. The search consisted of a complete enlightenment about the nature of man. For Baldur was the human being who has gone astray. Once upon a time the human being was not as he is today, he was undifferentiated, not bowed down by passionate experiences, but composed of finer ephemeral substance. Baldur, the radiant human being. When truly understood, all things which appear to us in the form of symbols must be understood in a higher sense. This human being who has not descended into what today we call matter, is Baldur. He lives in each one of us. The Druid priest had to search for the higher self within him. He had to become clear about where this differentiation took place, between the higher and the lower ... [Gap]

The secret of all initiation is to give birth to the higher human being within oneself. What the priest accomplishes more quickly, the rest of mankind must undergo in long stages of development. To become leaders of the rest of mankind, the Druids had to receive this initiation.

Man who had descended deeper now had to overcome matter and regain his former higher level. This birth of the higher human being takes place in all the Mysteries in a similar sort of way. The man who had become submerged in matter had to be reawakened. One had to make a series of experiences — real experiences — which were unlike any sense experiences one can have on the physical plane.

The stages.

[First initiation - Learning to penetrate astral substance, viewing the sun at midnight]

  • The first step was that one was led before the ‘Throne of Necessity’. One stood in front of the abyss: really experienced through one's own body what lived in the lower kingdoms of nature. Man is both mineral and plant, but the man of today is unable to experience what is undergone by the elementary substances and yet the enduring, the constraining things in the world are due to the fact that we are also mineral and plant in our nature.
  • The next step led the human being to all that lived in the animal kingdom. Everything which existed in the form of passions and desires was beheld in swirling and interweaving movement- All this had to be observed by the candidate for initiation so that his eyes would be opened to what lay behind the veil of the senses. Man is not aware that what swirls around in astral space is hidden behind the physical sheath. The veil of maya is really a sheath which must be penetrated by him who is to be initiated — the sheaths drop away, the human being sees clearly. That is a very special moment: the priest becomes aware that the sheaths had dammed back the impulses which would have been frightful if they had been let loose.
  • The third step led to a vision of the elemental nature forces. That is a step which man finds difficult to comprehend without previous preparation. That powerful occult forces are residing in these nature forces and through them express elemental passions, is something which makes man aware that there are powers quite outside the scope of anything he can experience as his own suffering.

[Second Initiation: Handing over of the Serpent by the Hierophant]

-         The next trial is called the ‘Handing over of the Serpent’ by the hierophant.

One can only explain it by means of the effects which it brings about. It is elucidated in the Tantalus saga. The privilege of being allowed to sit in the Council of the Gods can be abused. It signifies a reality which certainly raises man above himself, but dangers accompany it which are not exaggerated in the story of the Tantalus curse. As a rule man says he is powerless in face of the laws of nature. These are thoughts. With that kind of thinking, which is only a shadowy brain-thinking, nothing can be achieved. In creative thinking, which builds and constructs things of the world, which is productive and fruitful, the passive kind of thinking is replaced by a thinking permeated by spiritual force. The blown skin of a caterpillar is the empty sheath of the caterpillar; when filled with [productive] thinking it is the living caterpillar. Into the sheath-thoughts, living active power is poured so that the priest is enabled, not only to see the world in vision, but to work in it through magic. The danger is that this power can be abused. He can ... [Gap]

At this stage the occultist acquires a certain power, whereby he is enabled to deceive even the higher beings. He must not only repeat truths but experience them and decide whether a thing is true or false. That is what is called ‘The Handing over of the Serpent by the Hierophant’.

[it denotes the same thing on a spiritual level that the rudimentary stages in the formation of the spinal cord signify on the physical level. In the animal kingdom we pass through the fishes, amphibians and so on till we reach the brain of the vertebrates and man. See notes.]

[Third Initiation : The journey into the Labyrinth]

  • We have a spiritual backbone, too, which determines whether we are to develop a spiritual brain. Man goes through this process at this stage of his development. He is lifted out of Kama (feelings, passions, desires) and endowed with a spiritual backbone so that he can be raised up into the spiraling of the spiritual brain. On a spiritual level, the windings of the labyrinth are the same as the convolutions of the brain on the physical level. Man gains access to the labyrinth, to the windings within the spiritual realm.
  • Then he had to take the oath of silence. A naked sword was presented to him and he was obliged to swear the most binding oath. This was that he would henceforth keep silence about his experiences where it concerned people who had not been initiated as he had. It is quite impossible to reveal the true content of these secrets without preparation. He, [the initiate] however, could create these sagas so that they became the expression of the eternal. One who could give utterance to things in this way of course had great power over his fellow men. The creator of a saga of this kind imprinted something into the human spirit. What is thus spoken is then forgotten and only the merest vestige of it survives death. Eternal truths remain longest after death. Of less elevated scientific thought hardly anything remains. The eternal does so and appears again in a new incarnation.

The Druid priest spoke out of the higher plane. His words, though simple, being the expression of higher truths, sank into the souls of his hearers. He spoke to simple folk but the truth sank into their souls and something was incorporated into them which would be reborn in a new incarnation. At that time men experienced the truth through fairy stories; thus today our spirit bodies have been prepared and if we are able to grasp higher truths today it is because we have been prepared.

Thus this time, which came to an end in 60 A.D., had prepared the spiritual life of Europe, had provided the soil on which Christianity could build. These teachings have been preserved and whoever searches will be able to find access to what was taught in these Lodges.

  • After he [the Druid] had given his oath on the sword he had to drink a certain draught — and this he did from a human skull. The meaning of this was that he had transcended what was human. That was the feeling which the Druid priest had to develop concerning his lower bodily nature. He had to look upon all that lived within his body with the same objective, cool attitude as he felt towards a containing vessel. Then he was initiated into the higher secrets and shown the path to higher worlds. Baldur ... [Gap] He was led into an immense palace which was roofed by flashing shields. He encountered a man who cast forth seven flowers. Cosmic Space, Cherubim, Demi-urge [Maker of the World]. Thus he became truly a Priest of the Sun.

Many people read the Edda and are unaware that it is an account of what really took place in the ancient ‘Drottes’ mysteries. An immense power lay at the disposal of the ancient ‘Drottes’ priests, a power over life and death. It is true that everything becomes corrupt in time. It was once the highest, the holiest of things. At the time when Christianity was spreading, much had degenerated and there were many black magicians, so that Christianity came as a redemption.

The study of these old truths alone is able to give an almost complete survey of the whole of occultism.

Unlike our present practice, not one stone was laid upon another in the building of a Druid temple without the use of exact astronomical measurement. Doorways were built according to astronomical measurement. The Druid priests were the builders of humanity. A faint reflection of this is preserved today in the views which the Freemasons hold.


quote A

The Europeans also came over from Atlantis to Western and Central Europe and here there developed a quite different teaching. Groups of people settled who were not yet advanced enough to be chosen to found new civilisations, but yet possessed in germinal form what in India came to expression in so magnificent a way, but which here remained at a much earlier stage. What had its start in Europe moved ever further and further towards Asia. A common teaching formed its foundation, but in Europe this remained at a somewhat primitive level.

  • The Indian teaching was expressed in the Vedas. ‘Veda’ means the same as ‘Edda’, only the content of the Vedas is more finely developed than that which remained here in Europe in a more primitive form as the Edda, which was only written down at the end of the Middle Ages. We must realise that this great primal spiritual teaching underwent a certain modification brought about by the migrating peoples. Its original greatness consisted in grasping the mighty divine unity which was recognised by the spiritual vision of the (ancient) Indians. This was no longer so with the next, the (ancient) Persian Race. In the wisdom arising from this primeval Indian vision the concept of time was almost entirely absent. It was with the Second Sub-Race, the ancient Persian, that the concept of time made its appearance. Time, it is true, was recognised by the Indian but was more uniform; the concept of history, the progression from the imperfect to what is more perfected, was lacking. Thinking was governed by the idea that everything has emanated from divine perfection.
  • Persian thinking was governed by the concept of time. Zervan Akarana is one of the most important Divinities of the Persians and this is in fact Time. How did one arrive at the concept of time? Whoever seeks above all the primal unity of the Godhead, as in the case of the ancient Indians, must conceive it as the absolute Good. Evil, the imperfect in the world, was for the ancient Indian nothing but illusion; ‘illusion’ was a very important concept. These ancient people said: Nothing whatever exists in the world that is imperfect and evil. If you believe that something evil exists, you have not looked at the world in a way sufficiently free from illusion. Rust, for instance, which eats into iron, is elsewhere very beneficial: you must only consider where it is. When you look at a criminal through the veil of illusion, he will appear to you as such; if however you turn away from illusion you will realise that there is no such thing as evil. This teaching is inwardly connected with a turning away from the world. It was otherwise with the Second Sub-Race. There, with the earliest of the Persian peoples, the Good was given a particular place in the World-process, was regarded as the goal. It was said: The Good must be sought for. The world is good and evil, Ormuzd and Ahriman; and what conquers the evil is Zervan Akarana, Time. This is how good and evil came into the early Persian world-conception as the principle of evolution. The Zarathustran teaching rests on the placing of evil in the world, and on the time-concept. Man is placed into life in order to conquer evil. This conception is connected with the fact that the Second Sub-Race was not one that was estranged from the world, but worked within it. Active, productive in various branches of human work, attention directed to the outer world, concerned as to how someone could himself create good out of the world: this was the Second Sub-Race. With the Persians therefore a whole company of Gods makes it appearance; not characteristics of one God, but a plurality of Gods; because the world, if not regarded as illusion, but as reality, presents a plurality, a multiplicity. The Gods which were venerated there were more or less personal-spiritual Divinities.

The earliest initiates, who founded the ancient Indian teaching, were also the teachers of the Second Sub-Race, the ancient Persian Race. Here they adapted the whole teaching to a working people. They created that religion which was brought to fruition by the various Zarathustras. 82

  • A further initiation advanced towards the Near East: to Egypt, to the Babylonians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, these forefathers of the Arabs. There the Third Sub-Race was developed. This Third Sub-Race was such that it now sought to bring both directions — the inner nature of man and the outer world — into harmony with each other. Whether you look for the fundamental conception of this Third Sub-Race in Chaldea or Egypt, everywhere you will find a pronounced awareness of the connection between human work and the forces of Nature. This is an essential difference when compared with the Persian Race. In Persia you have two powers, the good and the evil, which do battle with one another. Now man tries to bring the different nature forces or beings into his service. What developed as Persian religion was mainly built up on human morality and industry. Now in the Third Sub-Race the consciousness developed that one does not master nature only by means of bodily strength and moral behaviour, but best of all through knowledge. In those lands where a skillful agriculture was pursued as in Egypt and Chaldea, there developed a co-ordination of heavenly-spiritual powers with what was carried out by human work. Knowledge of the meteorological environment and the heavenly bodies evolved there. Strength for work was sought for in the knowledge of Nature. So it came about that man directed his gaze to the stars, and astronomy was brought into connection with humanity on the Earth. Man's origin was sought for in the stars. Thus, in this sense we have for the first time to do with science. Now in the Third Sub-Race, instead of inner perception, we have practical knowledge. So we hear of great initiates who taught geometry, the practice of surveying, technical skills. The fructification of human activity with cosmic wisdom brought down from the spiritual world makes its appearance in the Third Sub-Race. With this, something was given which translated the whole conception of human life into a kind of heavenly science. With the different peoples this found expression in various ways. In the case of the Egyptians, Osiris, Isis and Horus were conceived of as representatives of astronomical phenomena.

Three different Sub-Races developed in Asia. Taking their start from Atlantis, a colony led by initiates traveled over to Asia. A special result of this was the ancient Indian civilisation, a second, the ancient Persian; the third result was the Egyptian-Chaldean civilisation: they all had a common initiation-source.

In Europe however groups always remained behind which fell away from what culminated with such magnificence in the three great civilisations. These separate cultural streams were distributed in Europe in the most varied way.

In Europe too there were initiates who formed Mystery Schools towards the end of the period of which we are speaking: they were called Druids: Drys means Oak. The strong oak was the symbol of the early European priest-teachers, for what dominated the peoples in the North was the thought that their old form of culture would necessarily have to decline. There the Twilight of the Gods was taught and the future of Christianity came to magnificent expression through these Northern prophets in what later became the Siegfried Saga. This may be compared with the Achilles Saga.

Achilles is invulnerable in his whole body with the exception of the heel, Siegfried with the exception of the spot between the shoulders. To be invulnerable in such a way signifies to have been initiated. In Achilles you have the initiate of the Fourth Sub-Race which lies on the ascending curve of man's cultural development: therefore all the upper parts of Achilles are invulnerable; only the heel the lower nature is vulnerable, just as Hephaistos is lame. The German Siegfried was also an initiate of the Fourth Sub-Race, but vulnerable between the shoulder blades. This is his vulnerable spot, first made invulnerable by the One who bore the cross. With Siegfried the Gods reach their downfall, the Northern Gods approach their end (Twilight of the Gods). This gives the Northern saga its tragic note, for it not only points to the past, but to the Twilight of the Gods, to the time which is to come. The Druids gave to man the teaching of the declining Northern Gods. Thus in what was still symbolic form, the battle of St. Boniface 84 with the Oak represents the battle of the Druids with the old Priesthood.

Everywhere in the North one can point to the traces of what came to expression over in Asia. For instance Muspelheim and Niflheim are a counterpart of Ormuzd and Ahriman. The giant Ymir, out of whom the whole world is made, corresponds to the cutting into pieces of Osiris. In the most detailed way one can follow the connection between the European peoples of the North and the other civilisations. When in the South of Europe the Fourth Sub-Race was developing, the Northern tribes had also made the transition into the Fourth Stage so that in the Germanic peoples Tacitus found much that was related to the Southern culture. Irmin for example is the same figure as Hercules. Tacitus also tells us of a kind of Isis worship there in the North. So the older stages of civilisations progressed towards what was to come as Christianity.

So think of Europe, Central Asia and Egypt as sown with the seed of what had developed under the influence of the Initiation Schools. These Initiation Schools sent out from their midst the founder of the Fifth [Fourth] Sub-Race, who had long been prepared in the shelter of the Mysteries. This is the personality who in the Bible is called Abraham. He came from Ur in Chaldaea and developed as an extract of the three older civilisations. The task which was represented in Abraham was to carry into the human realm all that had been held in veneration in the outside world; to create initiates who laid great value on what was human, in order to found the cult of the personality. This brought about personal attributes in the Jewish patriarchs. Here we have to do with duplicity and cunning. Jacob gains his inheritance by employing ruse and cunning in order to take what he wants from his brother. This is the reality out of which our present-day civilisation developed: it is founded on intelligence and possessiveness. In the stories of the Old Testament this is magnificently expressed as a kind of dawning of the new. It would be impossible to present this origin in a more powerful way. Esau is still a hairy man, that means he represents the human type which is still more enmeshed in the physical; Jacob represents one who relies on his intelligence and guile and thereby achieves what is now actually developing in human nature. The overcoming of physical force through intelligence is here inaugurated. The initiators do not always introduce something great into the world, but what must of necessity come about. ‘Israel’ means: He who leads man to the invisible God, who dwells within. Isra-el: El means the goal; Isra = the invisible God. Until then God was visible, whether it was the one who gave the urge towards Good and Evil as with the Persians, whether the God who had his body in the stars, in the Universe: This God was experienced as something visible.

And now we have the Jewish initiation portrayed in Joseph and his twelve brethren. It is a beautiful and powerful allegory. The allegorical now makes its appearance: the intellect, when it wishes to be effective, becomes the recounter of allegories.

How Joseph was initiated was first recounted. He was removed from his normal surroundings, sold for twenty pieces of silver and cast into a pit, where he remained for three days. This indicates an initiation. Then he comes to Egypt where his activities bring new life. And now we have finally indicated the transition which began at that time from the knowledge of God in the stars to the knowledge of man. Joseph was rejected because he had dreams. He had the following dream: Sun, Moon and eleven stars bowed down before him. The eleven stars are the eleven signs of the Zodiac. He felt himself to be the twelfth. The symbolism of the Star-Religion was now led over into the human. In the twelve brothers, the starting point of the twelve tribes' the knowledge of God in the stars was led over into the personal. “Now you surely do not wish to assert,” said his father — “that your brothers will bow down to you.” Here the change is given us. The divine knowledge of the stars is replaced by a knowledge attached to the personal human. This finds its form in the Mosaic law.

Out of the three Ancient Civilisations, through the initiation of the Jewish Patriarchs, this Fourth Civilisation, the primal Jewish, was derived. This we have as the Fourth Sub-Race, for there belong to it also the civilisations of Ancient Greece and Rome. The civilisations of Greece and Rome (Roman law) both become great just through this personal element, until eventually this thought incarnated, reaching its culmination in Christianity. So it is in this lesser racial branch that the actual stream of the Fourth Sub-Race makes its appearance. The Graeco-Latin stream is a higher form of the Judaic; here the cult of the personal is intensified. There is no contradiction between this descent to the deepest point and then the ascent.

Everywhere [within the Fourth Sub-Race] we can observe this. The personal had actually to come to expression in the way described in the Esau and Jacob Saga in order to find its purification in the beauty of the human culture of the Greeks and the greatness of the human culture of the Romans. In the Odysseus Saga the ancient civilisation of the priests was conquered by cunning. It was out of the civilisations that arose from this that Christianity could first develop, which in truth contains all the ancient cultures in itself and can therefore also absorb them. In accordance with his parentage Jesus Christ was a native of Galilee ... ‘Galilean’ means: ‘The Stranger’, someone who does not really belong; ‘Galilee’ means a small isolated territory where someone could be brought up who, in his native milieu had to take into himself, not only the Jewish, but also all the ancient forms of culture.

Out of the impact between the Romans and the Northern peoples there now developed the Fifth Sub-Race in which we ourselves live. It has still kept an impulse from the old Initiation Schools in the Moorish, and Arabian influence which came over from Asia. It is always the same influence, the same Initiation School. We can trace how the Irish monks, as also those who work in scientific fields, are essentially inspired by the Moorish-Arabian science. This gives the same fundamental character in a new-form, in a way in which it could now be received. It is here that Christianity first finds its real expression. It has merely passed through the ancient Greek civilisation for as long as the Fifth Period of Culture was being prepared; and then finds here firm ground, embodying itself in a whole range of nations. Everything at that time was permeated and inspired by Christianity. Our present time with its materialistic culture is the last radical expression of what was then inaugurated. The birth of this new culture is symbolically presented in the Lohengrin Saga. Lohengrin is the initiator of the ‘city-state’, and the city life which leads up to a new cultural stage is symbolised by Elsa of Brabant.

Into all these streams others penetrate, for instance the Mongolian tribes. What originally came over from the West was related to what came with the Huns from the East. So from East and West something came together that was related: the Mongolian and Germanic tribes. Those who originated from the West were left-behind descendants of the Atlanteans, as were also the Mongolians from the East. Fundamentally both streams were related. It is always one stream which crosses another. Both, however, have a common native ground since they both originated from Atlantis.

quote B

Now here in the North, everything that has remained from earlier times took on a more established form. At the same time as the epoch of the Jewish Prophets, in the centuries before Christ, we find here indications of a great, primeval, Atlantean initiate. Wod-Wodha-Odin. This is a modernised Atlantis, in a new form, an atavism, a throwback into the Atlantean Age.

And this happens everywhere, over in Asia also. In Asia W, the sound V, becomes B, Wodha = Bodha = Buddha. Buddhism appears as a throwback into the Atlantean Age. This is why we find Buddhism most widespread with what has remained over from the Atlanteans in the Mongolian peoples. And where the very pillars of its greatness make their appearance in Tibet, there we have a modern, monumental expression of Atlantean culture.

One must get to know such relationships between peoples, then one will also understand history. When Attila, the fighter for monotheism, appears in Europe, it was Christianity which first halted him, because there he was confronted with something greater than anything the Huns possessed. The monotheism of the Huns was, as the outcome of an Atlantean civilisation, of a magnitude which they found in no other peoples that they encountered on their way. Christianity alone made a forceful impression on them. Many things in historical development are to be understood in the light of these great considerations.

The well-known traveler, Peters, certainly feels that the old Bodhism and the Wotanism can flow together, but he does not know that we in Europe have not only to be representatives of what comes from the ancient past, but something new, a new spiral. Into the old part of the spiral there strikes the very newest, the wisdom pointing to the future.

This is related to the old wisdom as clear day consciousness is related to trance consciousness. With completely clear day consciousness future peoples will develop a spiritual culture which will be different from the old. For this reason spiritual science must not be only what is carried over from the old, from Buddhism and Hinduism; this would certainly collapse. Something new must arise out of the seeds which slumber in the East of Europe, coming together with everything that is being worked out there.

The inherent culture of the future lies in the unfolding of what is now in a seed condition in the Folk-elements of Eastern Europe. We ourselves in Central Europe are the advance post. Eastern Europe must provide the means, the human material for what is here being founded in advance.


An important mystery centre existed in a region of northern Spain at the time when the crusades began and a little before that. The mysteries of those times were called Tate Gothic mysteries'. Their initiates were called Tempelisen or Tempeleisen or Knights of the Holy Grail. Lohengrin was one of them. The community of these Knights of the Grail was rather different from another knightly community. This had its seat in Britain, in Wales. All the stories of King Arthur and his Round Table have to do with this other initiate community.

In very early times, long before Christianity, a large population moved from west to east on this earth. This was a very long time ago. There was a time when Atlantis existed in a region that is now part of the Atlantic Ocean. Our far distant ancestors, the Atlanteans, lived there. The whole population of Europe and Asia, all the way to India, were descendants of the Atlanteans. Conditions of life on Atlantis were very different from those in which people lived later on. Atlanteans lived in a completely hierarchic system guided by such initiates. All government and rule came from the initiates in those times.

  • One famous initiate school was in the north of present-day Russia. Its initiates were called trotts.
  • Other schools were in western Europe, their initiates known as druids.

1908-03-14-GA266/1 rsarchive translation

We might get a clearer idea of how this happens if we consider that our whole life is filled with four kinds of activity. We perceive the surroundings with our physical senses. We feel sympathy or antipathy for others with our life body. We feel wishes and emotions with our desires body. We draw conclusions and make decisions with our intellect. That's the most important part, that we form conclusions and decisions. We can change our opinions about a thing, but a done deed remains, and the result of a whole planetary period depends upon the decisions that were made during it. Just as fire leaves ashes of the burnt material behind, so a resolve or decision leaves something good or bad behind forever. That's why an occult principle says: when in doubt, do nothing. The ashes that a thought leaves strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly. Our sympathy or antipathy works on the etheric body. We can easily see this through ordinary observation. We know that the etheric body controls glands. A gourmet drools when he sees good food. The glands in our body dry out and become like the bark of a tree that protects the interior to the extent that we learn to control ourselves and to bring our sympathy or antipathy into harmony. Saps rise and fall in a plant, and in winter it dies because it has no protection from the cold. Whereas a tree allows its outer side to dry out and become bark; this protects it from the cold and storms. That's the way an initiate is; his life body doesn't die from one incarnation to the next. That's the way Druids were, and “Druid” means oak — the strongest tree.

also from GA266/1 (date to be checked, p 346 in DE version) web translation of DE version

The sun initiation gave him the spiritual impetus, the spiritual impulse, and then he had his natural science. Our natural science is an earth science, his natural science was a moon science. He felt the underlying moon forces, which radiated up in the plants from the depths of the earth, which were at work in the wind and weather and the other elements. He did not feel them in the abstract way as we feel the natural forces today, when we have an earth science, he felt them in their liveliness, in their weaving and being.

If the human being wants to go through an occult development, the glands must gradually dry up - at least part of the gland activity - and release something new at a higher level. Something similar takes place as in the tree, which can only take on permanent form by hardening part of the inner juices, in contrast to the plant.

The Germans therefore called their initiated priests druids or oaks with deep meaning, because a part of eternity pulsated in them, protected by the drying up of the glands.


is called 'The European Mysteries and Their Initiates'

.. There were Mysteries of great significance, deeply influencing ancient European civilisation, in various regions of France, Germany and Britain. In all these regions the Mysteries were of a definite and unique kind, and were instituted on the basis of knowledge such as I indicated in my lecture “Isis and Madonna,” namely, that Man has a spiritual origin, that his home was once in spiritual worlds whence his spirit and soul have come forth. When a man penetrates more deeply into his soul and rises to a level higher than that of ordinary sense-perception, he still feels, even to-day, that there is within him something that is a last remnant of his being as it was in the spiritual world. To-day, this last remnant — the human soul — is enclosed within the physical body, which in its turn is a densification of the primordial spiritual being. When he has conscious realisation of the spirit and soul within him, man says: ‘Now I know what I once was in my whole being; now I know that I was born out of the womb of worlds, out of the great universe.’ To-day the universe is revealed to human intelligence in everything that is spread out before the senses. But behind all that can be perceived by the senses and grasped by the intellect there is the spiritual universe — the Primordial Father and Mother from whom the soul is born. The body too is born from them but at first in spiritual form. This true form of man is now hidden.

It was known in the ancient European Mysteries that the true being of man is hidden and must be sought in its concealment. The saying went: “Isis is seeking for the Being from whom she proceeded.” To be initiated was to live through all those processes which enable the soul of man once again to behold its true origin and to unfold the faculty which will unite it again with its spiritual origin. Whether in the depths of the sacred oak-groves, or in places adapted for the Mysteries, it was always the same. The candidate was subjected to certain processes whereby he might be united with his spiritual origin.

  • All that lies hidden behind the sense-world, as the sun behind the clouds, the hidden spirit, was known in these Mysteries by the name of 'Hu'.
  • 'Ceridwen' was the seeking soul.

And all the rites of Initiation were a means of revealing to the pupil that death is only one of the many processes in life. Death changes nothing at all in the innermost kernel of man's being.

[Druidic Mysteries]

In the Druidic Mysteries (Druid denotes an Initiate of the third degree), the neophyte was put into a condition resembling death; his senses could not function as organs of perception. A man whose only instrument of perception is the physical body or the physical brain has no consciousness in a condition where his senses cease to function. But in Initiation, the senses — feeling, hearing and so on — cease to function, and yet the neophyte is able to experience and observe.

  • The principle which observes was called 'Ceridwen' - the soul.
  • And that which comes to meet the soul, as light and sound come to our outer eyes and ears, was called 'Hu' - the spiritual world.

The Initiate experienced the union between Ceridwen and Hu.

Such experiences are described in the myths. When we are told today that the ancients paid homage to a God Hu and a Goddess Ceridwen, this is simply another way of describing Initiation. The true myths are always concerned with Initiation. It is empty chatter to say that these myths have an astronomical meaning, that Ceridwen is the moon and Hu the sun, and so on. These myths originated because their creators were conscious of an inner union between the aspiring soul and the spirit of the sun, not the physical sun. The Mysteries of Hu and Ceridwen, then, were those into which men were initiated in the regions of which we are speaking.

[Trotten Mysteries]

More to the North, in Scandinavia and Northern Russia, we find the Trotten Mysteries, founded by the Initiate who is known as Sieg, or Siegfried: Sikke. All the Siegfried myths are to be traced back to this being.

[circle of twelve]

These Northern Mysteries are characterised by a principle that is really common to all the Mysteries, but which here for the first time is clearly emphasised. Let me explain this principle by means of a comparison. Think of the human being as he stands before us in life, with his head, hands, feet and other members. And now, if we imagine him without one of these members, he is no longer a whole Man. Think of the most important organs, the heart, the stomach and others. Each one of these organs contributes to human life and serves its needs. The fact that these organs work together makes it possible for a soul to live and develop in the body of Man. The soul lives in a physical body which is a unit composed of many members. This suggests that wherever a dwelling place has to be found for a human soul, or for a higher being, single members must be working together, each one of them carrying out their particular functions.

And so even in the ancient Northern Mysteries it was realised that something can be accomplished if a number of men are gathered together and each individual is allotted a special and definite task. One man, for instance, may resolve to develop principally the thinking faculty, another the power of feeling, a third the power of will. Sub-divisions are of course also possible.

The Northern Mysteries were based upon the idea that when a number of men, each of whom has his particular task, are gathered together into a whole, an invisible influence will work in them, just as the soul works in a human body. When men come together in this way, each playing his own part, they form a kind of higher organism or body, and thus make it possible for a higher spiritual being to dwell among them.

Thus Sieg gathered together a circle of twelve men, each of whom set out to develop the powers of his soul in a particular direction. And then, when they gathered together in their holy sanctuaries, they knew that a higher spiritual being was living among them as the soul lives in a human body, that their souls were members of a higher body. This was the sense in which the “Thirteenth” lived and moved among the Twelve who knew: We are twelve and the Thirteenth lives among us. Or else they chose out a Thirteenth whose function was then, within the circle of the Twelve, to be the connecting link enabling the higher influence to descend. And so the Thirteenth was recognised to be the representative of the Godhead in the sanctuaries of Initiation.

Everything was related to the sacred number three, and for this reason the one who united in himself all the knowledge was known as the representative of the ‘holy Three’ and around him were the twelve, each one with his definite functions, like members of an organism.

And so it was realised that when twelve men united together to develop a power which enabled a higher being to dwell among them, they were rising out of the physical into the spiritual world, rising to their God. They regarded themselves as the twelve attributes, the twelve qualities of the God. This was all reflected in the figures of the twelve Germanic Gods in the Northern sagas.


He who desired to become a member of this noble circle was told that he must seek Baldur — in other words, he must seek Initiation.

And who is Baldur? Baldur is the Spiritual in man, the principle for which the soul is seeking and which is found in Initiation.

Who slew Baldur? Those who killed out the clairvoyant faculties in man, who organised his physical nature, who endowed him with material sight and who could prematurely misuse the forces of physical matter — Loki, the power of Fire, and Hodur the Blind, representing the principle in man's being that is incapable of beholding the spiritual world.

This is only a way of describing processes of Initiation. Material existence has made man blind; through Initiation he again finds the path leading to the higher worlds. The trained clairvoyance of the old Initiates was a higher faculty than the innate, natural clairvoyance possessed by all human beings in those days.

[degeneration through consciousness of personality - misuse of spiritual powers]

The Druidic and Trotten Mysteries were the inspiring source of European civilisation and culture in pre-Christian times. Now the essential feature of European culture, namely, the development of a consciousness of personality, is likewise a danger — a danger likely to be far greater here than in other regions of the earth. Consciousness of personality is a keynote of all European culture. It was present in all Germanic lands, in a much stronger form than in the East where men loved to surrender themselves to Brahman. But this consciousness of personality brought with it the danger that those who were initiated could readily misuse what they learnt in Initiation and turn it into caricature. Initiation gives man control of spiritual forces and those who have learnt to use them can also misuse them.

So it came about that the Mysteries of ancient Europe began to degenerate, the unripeness of the Initiates began to give rise to all kinds of atrocities and in many regions they were dreaded by the people. Much that we hear of the Mysteries today, although not everything, refers to the period of their decline. In this age we need not, after all, be so very astonished that the Mysteries are so often misunderstood. For if spiritual science does not help a Man to realise what went on in the Mysteries and he has to rely merely on the tittle-tattle of history written down much later on, his ideas on the subject will be utterly barren. Just think what happens when people are content to draw their information about spiritual science from what the outside world has to say about it. They get a fine picture! And if what is being said about spiritual science today were to live on, it would do far more harm than the fragmentary knowledge of the Mysteries has done.

It would be an attractive study to trace back many things in the sagas and legends of Europe to the Mysteries. We should find a great deal in the Niebelung and Siegfried legends that points back to the ancient Mysteries. But it is difficult to discriminate in such study. The only thing that can reveal whether a certain feature in the legends is simply an improvisation of fancy or leads back to the Mysteries, is actual knowledge and the capacity to trace it back to its real source.

[Element of tragedy]

In all these Mysteries, no matter where we look, we find an element of tragedy. Let me put it thus: The Initiate in the ancient Druidic or Trotten Mysteries might indeed be united with Hu or Baldur, but there was something lacking in the spiritual world into which he entered. In more popular parlance, the Initiates would have said: ‘Our Gods are mortal, are doomed to downfall.’ Hence the myth which tells of the Twilight of the Gods.


But then came the news of the great Christ Impulse which could work more strongly in Europe than anywhere else — the news that a sublime Spirit, the Christ, had lived in an earthly body among men. And the Initiates realised that all that had hitherto been experienced in the depths of the Mysteries had become historic fact in the Christ Event. In the ancient Mysteries the Initiate had not fully vanquished death. But now he learnt of the Mystery of Golgotha. This historic Mystery was received with understanding in the European Mysteries - a much deeper understanding than elsewhere.

The attitude of the Initiates may be described somewhat as follows:

In our Initiation we rose to a divine-spiritual world, yet it was a world pervaded with the forces of mortality. But he who steeps himself with all that is bound up with the mighty impulse brought by the Christ-Being, he who can link himself with Christ, will realise that just as the sun irradiates and quickens the life of the plants, so the Christ Impulse can flow into the human soul and endow the soul with knowledge of eternity and immortality, with knowledge of victory over death. The soul is quickened by a true understanding of Christ.

And it was also known to the Initiates that besides such outer teaching as can be given, there is an inner knowledge, a quest of the soul (Ceridwen) not only for a Hu or a Baldur but for another ‘Baldur,’ for One Who fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha. The Initiates knew that the soul who experienced this acquired a bigger kind of clairvoyance than was attained through Initiation into the ancient Mysteries.

Here in Europe there was a deep understanding of these things.

I have often told you of the great stimulus given to the evolution of man by the Christ Impulse. To understand this, let us think once more of ancient Hebrew consciousness. The ancient Hebrew felt himself one with his “Fathers.” He said to himself: ‘My I is enclosed between birth and death, but my blood streams into me from my Father Abraham. The blood in my veins is the expression of my I, of my individuality; it is the blood-stream which flows through the generations and is the expression of my God.’ And so the ancient Hebrew felt himself part of one great whole, secure in the blood-stream which passes down through the generations. Christ says: “Before Abraham was, I AM;” and “I and the Father are One.”

The I of Man is linked to a spiritual world by threads which everyone may discover in his own individuality. The Mystery of Golgotha brought to Man a realisation of the I that is grounded upon itself, albeit the ties of blood are not ignored — the I that understands the physical world. Therefore, in the blood which flowed from the wounds of the Redeemer, men saw the expression of the human I-principle, and the saying went: “He who quickens this blood within himself will become a true seer.” But the world was not ripe enough to understand the true essence of the Mystery of Golgotha. It was not ripe in the centuries immediately following the Coming of Christ, nor is it to-day. Paul had a vision of the Living Christ in the spiritual world, but, after all, who understands those profound Epistles of one who was an Initiate or speaks with any truth of Paul's disciple, Dionysos the Areopagite?

In the Mysteries of Wales and Britain the teachings of Dionysos were received and the influence of the Christ Mystery so permeated the Druidic and Trotten Mysteries that the Initiates realised in full clarity of consciousness that He whom they had sought as Hu and Baldur, had come to Earth as Christ. But they said among themselves that mankind in general was not ripe to understand the mystery of the blood flowing from the Redeemer's wounds, that men were not fit to receive into themselves the blood that runs through all creation.

It was only in small circles of Initiates that this sacred Christ Mystery was preserved. A Man who was initiated into this Mystery experienced the overcoming of the I that functions in the world of sense. This is how he experienced it.

He asked himself: ‘What has been the manner of my life hitherto? In my quest for truth, I have turned to the things of the outer world. The Initiates of the Christ-Mystery, however, demand that I shall not wait until outer things tell me what is true but that in my soul, without being stimulated by the outer world, I shall seek the invisible.’



The 'circle of twelve with the thirteenth in the middle' as symbol of White Lodge

A survey of the whole of Earth evolution would reveal that there are twelve .. Bodhisattvas. They belong to that great community of Spirits which from time to time sends one of the Bodhisattvas to the Earth as a special emissary, as one of the great Teachers. A Lodge of twelve Bodhisattvas is to be regarded as the Lodge directing all Earth evolution. The concept of ‘Teacher’ familiar to us at lower stages of existence can be applied, in essentials, to these twelve Bodhisattvas. They are Teachers, the great Inspirers of one portion or another of what mankind has to acquire.

Whence do these Bodhisattvas receive what they have to proclaim from epoch to epoch?

If you were able to look into the great Spirit-Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas you would find that in the midst of the Twelve there is a Thirteenth — one who cannot be called a ‘Teacher’ in the same sense as the Bodhisattvas, but of whom we must say: He is that Being from whom wisdom itself streams as very substance. It is therefore quite correct to speak of the twelve Bodhisattvas in the great Spirit-Lodge grouped around One who is their Centre; they are wrapt in contemplation of the sublime Being from whom there streams what they have then to inculcate into Earth evolution in fulfilment of their missions. Thus there streams from the Thirteenth what the others have to teach. They are the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Inspirers’; the Thirteenth is himself the Being of whom the others teach, whom they proclaim from epoch to epoch. This Thirteenth is He whom the ancient Rishis called Vishva Karman, whom Zarathustra called Ahura Mazdao, whom we call the Christ. He is the Leader and Guide of the great Lodge of the Bodhisattvas. Hence the content of the proclamation made through the whole choir of the Bodhisattvas is the teaching concerning Christ ...

This mystery was portrayed in a symbol or in a picture wherever men had an inkling of the great secrets of evolution or acquired knowledge of them through Initiation. In the little known, enigmatic Trotten Mysteries of Northern Europe before the coming of Christianity, an earthly symbol of the spiritual reality of the Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas was created.

Those who were Teachers were always associated with a community of twelve. It was for the Twelve to proclaim the message and there was a Thirteenth who did not teach but who through his very presence radiated the wisdom which the others received. This was the picture on Earth of a heavenly, spiritual reality.


is on experiences of initiation in the northern mysteries

What man can experience in the macrocosm opening out before him, provided he retains a certain degree of consciousness, was described as a state of ecstasy. But it was said at the same time that in ecstasy the I is like a tiny drop mingling in a large volume of water and disappearing in it. Man is in the state of being outside himself, outside his ordinary nature; he lets his I flow out of him. Ecstasy, therefore, can by no means be considered a desirable way of passing into the macrocosm, for a man would lose hold of himself and the I would cease to control him.

Nevertheless in bygone times, particularly in certain parts of Europe, a candidate who was to be initiated into the mysteries of the macrocosm was put into a condition comparable with ecstasy. This is no longer part of the modern methods for attaining initiation, but in olden times, especially in the Northern and Western regions of Europe, including our own, it was entirely in keeping with the development of the peoples living there that they should be led to the secrets of the macrocosm through a form of ecstasy.

Thereby they were also exposed to what might be described as the loss of the I, but this condition was less perilous in those times because men were still imbued with a certain healthy, elemental strength; unlike people today their soul-forces had not been enfeebled by the effects of highly developed intellectuality.

They were able to experience with far greater intensity all the hopefulness connected with spring, the exultation of summer, the melancholy of autumn, the death-shudder of winter, while still retaining something of their I — although not for long. In the case of those who were to become initiates and teachers of men, provision had to be made for this introduction to the macrocosm to take place in a different way. The reason for this will be evident when it is remembered that the main feature in this process was the loss of the I. The I became progressively weaker, until finally Man reached the state when he lost himself as a human being.

How could this be prevented?

The force that became weaker in the candidate's own soul, the I-force, had to be brought to him from outside. In the Northern Mysteries this was achieved by the candidate being given the support of helpers who in their turn supported the officiating initiator. The presence of a spiritual initiator was essential, but helpers were necessary as well. These helpers were prepared in the following way:

  • Through a special kind of training, one individual underwent with particular intensity the experiences arising from inner surrender, for example to the budding life of nature in spring. Certainly, any human being can have something of the same feeling, but not with the necessary intensity. Therefore individuals were specially trained to place all their forces of soul in the service of the Northern Mysteries, to forgo all the experiences connected with summer, autumn and winter, and to concentrate their whole life of feeling on the budding life of spring.
  • Others again were trained to experience the exuberant life of summer, others the life characteristic of autumn, others that of winter. The experiences which a single human being can have through the course of the year were distributed among a number, so that individuals were available who in very different ways had strengthened one aspect of their I.
  • Because they had cultivated one force in particular to the exclusion of all the rest, they had within them a superfluity of I-force, and now, in accordance with certain rules, they were brought into contact with the candidate for Initiation in such a way that their superfluity of I-force was transmitted to him. His own I-force would otherwise have become progressively weaker. Thus the one who in the process of Initiation was to experience the whole cycle of the year, lived through all the seasons with equal intensity; the I-force of these helpers of the initiating priest streamed into him so effectively that he was led on to a stage where certain higher truths connected with the macrocosm were revealed to him. What the others were able to impart poured into the soul of the candidate for Initiation.

To understand such a process we must be able to form an idea of the intense devotion and self-sacrifice with which men worked in the Mysteries in those olden times. The exoteric world today has very little conception of such fervent self-sacrifice. In earlier times there were individuals who willingly developed one side of their I with the object of placing it at the service of the candidate for initiation and thus being able eventually to hear from him a description of what he had experienced in a condition that was not ecstasy in the usual sense, but — because extraneous I-force had poured into him — a conscious ascent into the macrocosm.

Twelve individuals, three spring-helpers, three summer-helpers, three autumn helpers and three winter-helpers were necessary; they transmitted their specialised I-forces to the candidate for initiation and he, when he had risen into higher worlds, was able to give information about those worlds from his own experience. A team or ‘college’ of twelve men worked together in the Mysteries in order to help a candidate for initiation to rise into the macrocosm. A reminiscence of this has been preserved in certain societies existing today, but in an entirely decadent form. As a rule in such societies special functions are also carried out by twelve members; but this is only a last and moreover entirely misunderstood echo of acts once performed in the Northern Mysteries for the purposes of Initiation.

If, then, a Man endowed with an I-force artificially maintained in him, penetrated into the macrocosm, he actually ascended through worlds.

[ ... extensive description of the world of the elements ... ]

So we see that it is a wise dispensation for man to lose consciousness when he enters the Elementary World and to be safeguarded from passing with his I into that world. Therefore one who in the ancient Mysteries was to be led into the Elementary World had to be carefully prepared before forces were poured into him by the helpers of the Initiator. This preparation consisted in the imposition of rigorous tests whereby the candidate acquired a stronger moral power of self-conquest. Special value was attached to this attribute. In the case of a mystic, different attributes — humility, for example — were considered particularly valuable.

Accordingly upon a man who was to be admitted to an Initiation in these Mysteries, tests were imposed which helped him to rise above disasters of every kind even in physical existence. Formidable dangers were laid along his path. But by overcoming these dangers his soul was to be so strengthened that he was duly prepared when beings confronted him in the Elementary World; he was then strong enough not to succumb to any of their temptations, not to let them get the better of him but to repel them. Those who were to be admitted into the Mysteries were trained in fearlessness and in the power of self-conquest.

Once again let it be said at this point that no one need feel alarmed by the description of these Mysteries, for nowadays such tests are no longer imposed, nor are they necessary, because other paths are available. But we shall understand the import of the modern method of Initiation better if we study the experiences undergone in the past by very many human beings in order to achieve Initiation into the secrets of the Mysteries.

[ ... extensive description of the spirit world ... ]


Rudolf Steiner held the a lecture course 1923-08-GA227 in Penmaenmawr (Wales, UK) between 19th – 31st August, 1923

[Clairvoyance: inspiration]

Now if we would pass on to the world accessible to Inspiration, in which we are as I between going to sleep and waking, we come to one dimension only; we then have to do with a one-dimensional world. This transition to a one-dimensional world, taken for granted by the faculty of Inspiration — the faculty, that is, of actually perceiving the spiritual in which we live between going to sleep and waking — this understanding of a world with only one dimension has always been part of Initiation-knowledge.

I have already described how the hidden forces of the Sun — not the forces of the external physical sunlight — are revealed to men of the Jacob Boehme type. These hidden Sun-forces do not spread out three-dimensionally, but are perceived in one dimension only. An older, more instinctive Initiation-knowledge could, and did, come to perceive this through Inspiration, but without a clearly conscious knowledge of what it was. Much that is still handed down in the ancient records of long past epochs of mankind is to be understood only when one knows: This refers to the spiritual world that is one-dimensional, the world we find through Inspiration; as regards our earthly life it refers to the hidden forces of the Sun and Stars. Between going to sleep and waking we do not live in Sun-forces that are outwardly displayed, but in those that are hidden.

These hidden forces of the Sun can, for example, pass through certain kinds of stone which are impenetrable to physically perceptible Sun-forces, and by passing through them become one-dimensional. If anyone has acquired Inspirational vision, then, although he may not perceive the physical light, he can see the hidden Sun-forces penetrating the otherwise opaque stone; thus the stone is permeable for the Sun's hidden forces and also for the forces of Inspiration.

In very ancient periods of human evolution on Earth, such expedients were not needed. But when the old instinctive clairvoyance, which in those days was the basis of Initiation-knowledge, was on the wane, these aids were adopted as a short cut — we might say — to the perception of things no longer perceptible through instinctive Inspiration. People had recourse to such measures in the following way, for example:

  • Imagine a number of stones set up beside one another, with other stones laid across the tops of them. If this is so arranged that on certain occasions the penetrating rays of the Sun fall on the covering stone, then the physical rays of the Sun will be held up by the stone and the hidden rays will pass through.
  • When anyone trained to it, places himself so that he can look into this structure from the side, he will see the spiritual, one-dimensional rays of the Sun shining through and vanishing into the Earth. If, when all this was no longer perceived through instinctive clairvoyant powers, a short cut of that kind were taken, it enabled anyone looking from the side into the shadow-zone to perceive the world of spiritual Sun-rays which we experience every night during sleep. Hence in such contrivances, to be met with in this very district, we can see by what means, during a long transitional period, certain wise leaders of mankind tried to penetrate to the hidden forces of the Sun, which a man such as Jacob Boehme could do instinctively through simply beholding earthly things.

Although such collections of stones can be seen today in appropriate places, their real significance can be brought out only through what spiritual science reveals. Otherwise people are left with a superficial explanation which misses the real point.

Such stones can of course be distributed in the circle so as to show how the spiritual rays of the Sun differ according to particular constellations of the stars.

1923-09-09-GA228 (key)


  • For this date, two different sources of information exist (neither are available online in English translation):
    • 1/ two written travel reports that Rudolf Steiner wrote, originally published by Marie Steiner in 1943.
      • The report of 9 September appeared in 'Rudolf Steiner und die Zivilisationsaufgaben der Anthroposophie Ein Rückblick auf das Jahr 1923' published by Marie Steiner in 1943. Note that the contents of this book of 1943 was later published in Volume GA259, but the lecture was not.
      • However these notes appear in Volume GA227 - page 354 on DE version, fourth edition of 2000 (full PDF), which mentions it is foreseen to add this in the third edition of GA228.
    • 2/ the first informal lecture that Rudolf Steiner held on the Druid culture after his journey to England, was covering the same contents as the written notes above. It is mentioned that he would share with his audience something about his travel and experiences, and then hold a (more formal or true) lecture on the next day (10 Sep).
  • for background: GA259 gives the chronology of the August-September period: travel to England via the Stuttgart (1-4 Aug), Ilkley course GA307 (4-17 Aug), then travel Ilkley-Penmaenmawr on 18-Aug, and Penmaenmawr course GA227 (18-31 Aug), and travelling back via London, and Stuttgart (5-7 Sep, where he already talks about his Ilkley/Penmaenmawr experiences on 7th) to Dornach (travel Sat 8 Sep). The next day Sun 9th he holds the first lecture.
  • for study purposes, the two versions 1/ and 2/ from GA227 and GA228 have been grouped in a single reference extract (DE): see the PDF file: 1923-09-09 from GA227 and GA228

is on the sun initiation of the Druid priest and his moon science

quote A

On the basis of such conceptions we are able to penetrate in some degree into the Druid culture. With the means accessible today to external science man will ask in vain as to what was the real soul-constitution of these Druid priests. (I might just as well call them Druid sages, for both are expressions entirely suited to that age, although of course they did not exist then.)

What was it that lived in the impulses by means of which these Druid priests guided their people?

What is often narrated in history, and indeed often sounds terrible, always signifies something that was active in the epochs of decadence and degeneration. What I am going to describe here invariably refers to what preceded this epoch of degeneration, and was active when the civilization was in its prime.

[druid culture - positioning, initiation]

For these cromlechs, these Sun circles, in what they truly represent, draw attention to what existed in the epoch when the Druid Mysteries were in their prime. And with the means given us by anthroposophical spiritual science, we can in a certain way even today penetrate into the whole manner and mode of working of these Druid priests. It may be said that they were everything to their people, or rather their tribe. They were

  • the authorities for the religious requirements, so far as one can speak of religious requirements at that time. They were
  • the authorities for the social impulses,
  • and also, for instance, for the healing methods of that time.
  • They united in one all that later on was distributed over many branches of human civilization.

We obtain a right perspective of this Druid culture — and it is quite correct to use this expression — only when we realize that its essence is to be found in an epoch preceding that which echoes to us from those mythological conceptions of the North that are connected with the name of Wotan or Odin. What is associated with the name of Wotan really lies later in time than this epoch when the Druid culture was in its prime.

In the orbit of wisdom that points to the divine name of Wotan or Odin we must recognize something that comes over from the East, proceeding in the first place from Mysteries in the proximity of the Black Sea. The spiritual content of these Mysteries flowed from the East towards the West, in the certain “colonizing” Mysteries, emanating from the Black Sea and proceeding westwards, were founded in the most varying ways.

All this, however, streamed into a culture that must be called sublime in a deeper sense, into a primordial wisdom, Druid wisdom. This Druid wisdom was really an unconscious echo, a kind of unconscious memory of the Sun and Moon elements existing in the Earth before the Sun and Moon were separated from it. Initiation in the Druid Mysteries was essentially a Sun-Initiation, bound up with what was then able to become Moon wisdom through the Sun-Initiation.

[druid culture - cromlechs or Sun circles]

What was the purpose of these cromlechs, these Druid circles?

They were there essentially for the purpose of a spiritual observation of the relation of the Earth to the Sun. When we look at the single dolmens we find that they are really instruments whereby the outer physical effects of the Sun were shut off in order that the Initiate who was gifted with seership could observe the effects of the Sun in the dark space. The inner qualities of the Sun element, how these permeate the Earth, and how they are again radiated back from the Earth into cosmic space — this was what the Druid priest was able to observe in the single cromlechs. The physical nature of the light of the Sun was warded off, a dark space was created by means of the stones, which were fitted into the soil with a roof stone above them and in this dark space it was possible by the power of seeing through the stones to observe the spiritual nature and being of the Sun's light.

Thus the Druid priest standing before his altar was concerned with the inner qualities of the Sun element so far as he needed the wisdom that then streamed into him — streamed in, however, in such a way that the wisdom had still the character of a Nature-force — for the purpose of directing and guiding his people.

[age before calendars]

But we must always bear in mind that we are here speaking of an epoch when men could not look at the calendar to see when it was right to sow, when this or that grain of seed ought to be entrusted to the soil. In those ages men did not look at a book in order to get information about the time of the year. The only booking in existence was the Cosmos itself. And the letters that formed themselves into words arose from the observations as to how the Sun worked on one or other contrivance that had been erected. Today, when you want to know something, you read.

The Druid priest looked at the action of the Sun in his cromlech, and there he read the mysteries of the Cosmos. He read there when corn, rye and so forth were to be sown. These are only instances. The impulses for all that was done were read from the Cosmos.

The greater impulses, which were needed, one may say, to complete the yearly calendar, were obtained from observation within the shadow of the Druid circle. So that in this age, when there was nothing that was derived from the human intellect, the Cosmos alone was there. And instead of the printing-press man had the cromlech in order to unravel from out of the Cosmos the mysteries it contained.

Reading the cosmic book in this way, men were therefore concerned with the element of the Sun. And in contradistinction to the Sun element, they perceived the Moon element. The forces which were then concentrated in the Moon were once united with the Earth. These forces, however, did not wholly withdraw; they left something behind in the Earth. If there had been Sun-forces alone, rampant, growing cells only would have arisen, life elements, always with the character of small or large cells. The diversity, the formation, does not emanate from the Sun-forces, but from the Moon-forces working together with the Sun-forces.

When he exposed himself to all that his circles, his cromlechs could reveal to him, the Druid priest did not receive the mere abstract impression which we today receive, quite rightly, when in our way — that is to say in an intellectual way — we enter into the things of the spirit. For the forces of the Sun spoke to him directly. In the shadow of the Sun the spiritual Sun-nature worked into him directly, and it worked far more intensely than a sense-impression does on us today, for it was related to far deeper forces. As the priest stood before his place of ritual, observing this Sun-nature, his breathing changed even as he observed. It became unloving, it was blunted, it went in waves so that the one breath merged into the other. He, with all that he was as a human being through his breath, lived in what was given as a resulting influence of the Sun. And the outcome was no abstract knowledge, but something that worked in him like the circulation of the blood, pulsating inwardly through him, kindling his human being even into the physical. Yet this working into the physical was spiritual at the same time, and the inner stimulations he experienced — these were really his knowledge.

We must conceive this knowledge in a far more living way, as far more intense, we must conceive it as living experience. Moreover, the Druid priest received it at certain times only. With a lesser intensity of life it could be kindled in him every day at noon; but if the great secrets were to be revealed, the priest had to expose himself to these influences at the time which we now call the season of St. John. Then there arose what I may call the great wave of his knowledge as against the lesser daily waves. And while, through the Sun-influences which he thus caught up on Earth in a peculiar and artificial way, he experienced what he felt as his Initiation — his Sun-Initiation — he became able also to understand the forces which had remained behind as Moon-forces in the Earth when the Moon had left it. Such was the Nature-lore he gained under the influence of Sun-Initiation. What was revealed on the surface of things was unimportant to him, but what welled forth from below as the Moon-forces in the Earth, this was important. Through the principle of Initiation, whose relics, as we have seen, are preserved in these strange monuments today, he placed himself in a condition to gain knowledge. And the knowledge he gained was of all that works in Nature, especially when in the sky at night-time the stars stood over the Earth, and the Moon traveled across the heavens.

The Sun-Initiation gave the Druid priest the spiritual impulse, and as a result he had his science of Nature. Our science of Nature is an earthly science. His was a Moon-science. The underlying Moon-forces, as they ray forth in the plants from the depths of the Earth, as they work in wind and weather and so forth — these he felt. He felt them, not in the abstract way, as we today — having an earthly science — feel the forces of Nature. He felt them in all their livingness.

And what was thus livingly revealed to him, this he felt as the elemental beings living in the plants, in the stones, in all things. These elemental beings, having their dwelling place in trees and plants and so forth, were enclosed in certain bounds. But they were not those narrow bounds that are set to man today. They were far wider.

His science of nature being a Moon-science, the Druid priest perceived how the elemental beings can grow and expand into gigantic size.

From this resulted his knowledge of the Jötuns, the giant-beings. When he looked into the root-nature of a plant beneath the soil, where the Moon-forces were living, there he found the elemental being in its true bounds. But the beings were ever striving to go forth and grow outward gigantically. When the kind of elemental beings who lived beneficially in the root-nature, expanded into giants, they became the giants of the frost, whose outward physical symbol is in the frost, who live in all that sweeps over the Earth as the destructive hoar frost and other destructive forces of the frost-nature. These were the loosened root-forces of the plants which lived within the frost, as it swept with its giant forces over the Earth, working destructively; whereas in the root-nature the same forces worked bounteously and beneficially.

And what worked in the growth of the leaves, this too could grow to giant size. Then it lived as a giant elemental being in the misty storms that swept over the Earth, with all that they contained in certain seasons — with the pollen of the plants, and so forth.

And what lives gently, modestly, as it were, in the flower-forces of the plants, when this grows to giant size, it becomes the all-destroying fire.

Thus in the weather-processes the Druid priests beheld the forces of being expanded into giants — the same forces that lived within their right limits in the kingdoms of Nature. The chosen places where we find these old heathen centers of ritual show that what they received on the one hand through the Sun-circles and the cromlechs, was developed into the Earth-knowledge which was thus made possible. They developed it so as to be able properly to observe the mysterious working and weaving of wind and weather as they sweep over the Earth — the working together of the water and the airy nature, the hoar-frost oozing forth from the earth, the melting dew.

It was through the Sun-Initiation and the knowledge of the Moon-beings that there arose this most ancient conception which we find at the very foundations of European culture. Thus the Druid priest read and deciphered the cosmic secrets which his institutions of the Sun-Initiation enabled him to gain from the Cosmos. Thus, stimulated by the Sun-Initiation, he gained his knowledge from his science of Moon-nature.

[Druid priests and healing]

But with all this the whole social and religious life stood in close connection. Whatever the priest could say to the people arose on the spiritual foundations of this element in which the people lived. We see it best of all in what the Druid priests possessed as a science of healing.

  • They saw on the one hand the elemental beings contained within their bounds in the various growths and products of the mineral and especially of the plant kingdom.
  • Then they observed what happened to the plants when these were exposed to frost, exposed to the influences which the giants of the storm and wind carry through the airy spaces, or again, exposed to the seething of the fire-giants. They studied what the giants of frost and hoar-frosts, the giants of the storm, the fire-giants, if loosed and set free, would do to the plants.
  • At length they came to the point of taking the plants themselves, and imitating within certain limits all that was indicated in outer Nature as the influence of the giants. They subjected the plants to a certain process, to the freezing cold process, the process of burning, the process of binding and solution.

The Druid priests said to themselves: “Looking out into this world of Nature we behold the destructive working of the giants, of frost and storm and fire. But we can take from these giants, from the Jötuns, what they spread so awkwardly and clumsily over the world; we can wrest it from them; we can harness once more within narrow limits these loosened forces of the Moon.”

This they did. They studied what takes place in the thawing earth, in storm and wind, in the fierce, seething heat of the Sun. All this they applied to the Sun-nature which lived in the plants and which they themselves received in their Initiation. And in so doing they created their remedies, their healing herbs and the like, all of which were based upon the fact that the giants were reconciled with the Gods. In those times each single remedy bore witness to the reconciliation of the foes of the Gods with the Gods themselves.

What Man received immediately under the influences of Sun and Moon, just as it was offered by Nature herself, this would be a food-stuff. A medicine, on the other hand, would be something that Man himself created, in that he continued Nature beyond herself, harnessing the giant-force to place it in the service of the Sun.

[Positioning and Wotan Impulse]

We must imagine the Druid civilization spread out over a great portion of Northern and Central Europe about 3.000 or 3.500 years ago. Men had nothing at all similar to writing. They had only this cosmic writing.

Then into all this there spread from the East, to begin with from a Mystery in the region of the Black Sea, what is now contained as an insoluble riddle for the ordinary consciousness in the Norse Mythology, associated with the name of Wotan.

For what is Wotan?

The Mystery from which this Wotan culture proceeded was a Mercury Mystery, a Mystery that added to the impulses of Sun and Moon the impulse of Mercury. One might say that that old civilization was there in a sun-and Moon-radiant innocence and simplicity, untouched by what could be told to mankind through the Jupiter impulses. Only away in the East these Jupiter impulses were already present.

From thence they now spread, colonizing, towards the West. Wotan-Mercury carried his influence westward.

Here at the same time we have thrown light upon the fact that Wotan is described as the bringer of the Runes, the Runic art of writing. He was the bringer of what Man drew forth from himself in the first primitive way of intellectuality as an art of deciphering the universe. This is the very first entry of intellectualism, the Wotan impulse. Thus one might say that the Mercury, the Wotan-nature, was now added to the Sun-and Moon-natures.

Wherever this Wotan impulse worked itself out fully, everything that was present from earlier experiences was influenced by it. It all received a certain impulse from this Wotan element.

For there was one thing, a special secret of the Druid culture. We know that at all places things arise that do not belong there. Weeds grow on the tilled land. We might say that the Druid culture recognized as the good plants of civilization only the Sun and Moon qualities, and if, hastening forward as it were to a later time, the intellectual element already then arose, they treated it as a weed. Among the many remedies the Druids had, there was one against the Mercury quality of deep thought and introspection. Strange as it may seem to us today, they had a remedy against this habit of sinking into one's inner being, or as we should say, of pondering on one's own salvation. The Druids wanted man to live with Nature and not to sink into himself, and they regarded as sick and ill anyone who even attempted to express anything in signs or the like, unless it were merely to imitate the things of Nature in a primitive form of art. Anyone who made signs was diseased and must be healed. Indeed he was then considered as black human being, he was not white. Yes, my dear friends, if we with all our present knowledge were transposed into the Druid culture, we should all be sent to a hospital and cured.

And now from the East the Wotan civilization brought this very illness. The Wotan civilization indeed was felt as an illness. But it also brought, with a power grown truly great and gigantic, what had formerly appeared as an abnormality, an unhealthy introspection. Into the midst of what had formerly been taken only from the cosmic writing, it brought the Rune. So that Man now transferred his intellectual element into the signs he made. It brought in all that was felt as a Mercury culture. Thus it was no wonder that what proceeded from the Wotan culture, distilled from the best forces that were in it, viz., the Baldur-Being, the Sun-Being, was felt and thought of as one united not with life, but with death. Baldur had to go to Hel, into the dark forces of Death, the dwelling-place of Death.

Moreover, to begin with, men pondered most, as we can see from the traditions of the Edda, not on the question of how this Baldur, son of the Wotan forces, should be freed from Hel (for this is really a later conception) but on the question of how he should be healed. And at length they said: We have many means of healing, but Baldur, the intelligence proceeding from the Runes of Wotan — for this there are no remedies, and it can only lead to death.

Thus we see once more what I have pointed out to you from so many points of view in the study of human evolution. In olden times the instinctive knowledge of mankind knew nothing of the significance of death, for men remembered the pre-earthly life and knew that death is only a transformation. They did not feel death as any deeper incision than this. Above all there was no such thing as the tragedy of death. This only entered in when the Mystery of Golgotha approached, which became indeed a redemption from the fear of death. In the Baldur legend you see the most visible description of how, with the entry of intellectualism, there comes that mood of soul which reckons with deaths, and you see what thus entered into human evolution.

Thus what had been seen in the death of Baldur, who could not rise again, was only healed once more in the way of soul and spirit, when the Christ-figure who could rise from death was placed over against him.

It is wonderful how in the North, through the influence of the Mercury-forces on the Sun-and Moon-forces, the perception of the Christ-impulse was prepared. In Baldur, the God who falls into death and cannot rise again, we see the forerunner, in the North, of Christ, who also falls a victim to death, but who can rise, because He comes directly from the Sun. Baldur, on the other hand, the Sun-force coming from Wotan, is the Sun-force reflected back by Mercury, radiating forth from the signs which man makes out of his intellect.

[Our current times]

Thus we see how evidently all these things evolve in the Northern regions, where Man still appears to us living and reading in the Cosmos, seeking for his religious, social and medical conceptions from the Cosmos, until at a later stage he passes over to dwell with the Earth-forces. From his sacrificial stone the Druid priest gazes at the configuration of the shadow of the Sun, and reads what appears in the shadow, representing the spiritual aspects of the Sun. Then we approach the time when the Sun-Being, the Sun-nature that had been caught up, as it were, in the cromlechs is drawn in abstract lines, called rays. We approach the time when the relationship of what lives in root and leaf and blossom with what lives in frost and wind and fire is recognized at most in a chemical sense. Giants and elemental beings alike are transformed into “forces of Nature.” And yet in our forces of Nature no more is contained than the giants of ancient time.

We are only unaware of the fact and feel immensely superior. It is a straight line of development from the giants to the forces of Nature. These are the latter-day children of them. Man who lives today in a highly derived, i.e., an unoriginal, civilization, cannot but be deeply moved when he looks at these scant relics of the Druid age. It is as though he were to behold the hoary ancestors of what is living in this present time.

To go more into detail, we too today speak of medicine and remedies in a strangely abstract way, very intellectually, describing abstractly their mode of preparation. All this we must imagine transformed into something altogether living if we would look back on the way the Druid priest regarded his remedies. For he felt the Sun-forces which he knew so well and which in plants and other products of Nature he treated with the forces of the giants. All this was altogether living for him. From the giants he wrested the forces of preparation to transform the plants into medicaments. He knew that in so doing he did something for the whole Cosmos. Then he gazed on Man himself. Through his peculiar knowledge of Man, the most intimate parts of the natural man, e.g. in the dream-recognized the symptoms coming forth, as it were, from the imaginations that arose, the vague, unconscious flickering-upward of the deeper human nature into consciousness under the influence of these remedies in which the giant-forces were subdued and held in check, he recognized how these things worked in the human being into whom they were instilled. Thus he had on the one hand his Loki in the wild influences of the outer fire, and on the other hand what he had taken away from Loki in order to transform this or that plant by a combustion process into a medicament. From the way this worked within the human being, he then beheld the Loki-force in man. For here it was disarmed. And the Druid said: That which out there in the world of the giants is working with threatening danger and destruction works healingly when brought in the right manner into the inner man. Poisonous forces as it were on a large scale become healing forces when brought to the right place.

Thus the Druid in his way perceived the varied forces and workings of Nature. Thus he was within the spiritual whereby he sent forth the religious, social, medicinal and other impulses into his community. Thus in that time the ancient primeval wisdom which the Moon Beings, so long as they were here, had cultivated on the Earth, and which was now no longer here directly, since they themselves had gone with the Moon — this primeval wisdom was preserved through Beings that were found and known by a kind of Sun-Initiation in the way I have described to you today.

quote B - web translation of extract from DE version

If one were to dig in under such a Kromlech, one would also find that it was a burial site as well. These things were set up where people were buried at the same time. When the body dissolves, it has different powers than those that are in the rest of the mountainous region. And these forces in particular helped, when they streamed up there, that one could see properly in the shadows inside. These people were aware of completely different forces of nature than were known later.


Perhaps I might just tell you something on this occasion which is of current interest because it has to do with my recent trip to Britain. It was really most appropriate that the course in Penmaenmawr was given near an ancient mystery site. This was on the west coast of Britain, in Wales. There is an offshore island called Anglesey and there you still have ancient sites everywhere in the hills. They are in decay, and today one really only sees broken stones, I'd say, but if one knows one's anthroposophy one can certainly see what they once meant to people in that very place.

You see it would be just like going out into our hills here and finding such sites in them. Over there you find them everywhere, as it were, in the hills, and above all if a hill levels out at the top, so that you have level ground and even a slight depression. That is where those ancient sites would be. Today they are heaps of stones, but you can still see quite clearly what they looked like in the past.

The smaller ones consist of stones that were probably carried there once in the ice, and then dragged to the particular site where people wanted to have them. They were arranged in a kind of square, one beside the other, like this. Looking at them from the side, it would look like this. A large stone on top covered the others.

The big mystery places would have similar stones placed in a circle, exactly 12 of them. The rite probably was at its height 3.000 or 4.000 years before our time, at a time when the area was only thinly populated, and there would be hardly anything except agriculture and animal husbandry. Writing and reading were quite unknown at the time when this rite was at its height. Writing and reading—they never even imagined that there might be such a thing.

Now we may ask what the significance was of that rite.

Let me emphasize again that there was no reading and writing in those days. Now you know that when we want to get crops to grow in the field, to do really well, they have to be sown at particular times, and different things have to be done with them at particular times. And people also have to know the right times for getting their animals mated, and so on. This has to do with the way the earth relates to the whole of the cosmos around it, and I have told you about this on several occasions.

Now today people have their farmer's calendar and they'll look it up. It'll tell them what day of the year it is, and so they tend to forget that it is not a matter of arbitrary choice. You can't fix the dates whichever way you like, but have to fix them according to the movement of the stars, the position of the moon, and so on. Today's calendar makers calculate these things by following tradition. Calculations are made to show when this or that particular day will be. People are now working it out like this because at one time the days were calculated according to the position of the sun. You can still do it according to the sun today, but the people who generally observe these dates do not go by the position of the sun or of the stars but simply by the calen­dar, as it has been calculated.

In those earlier days that would have been unthinkable, for people could not read or write then. Such things only came later. So this takes us back 3.000 or 4.000 years, as I said. And reading and writing only came a little over 2.000 or 3.000 years ago in those regions. Those were early times, and the kind of reading and writing people had later on does not compare with what we have today, so you can't really say it existed then. At least the majority of the population did not know it in those days.

If you look at such a stone circle up on a hill you may think: The sun apparently —we know it is standing still, but you know we can put it like this because that is how things are, after all — the sun thus moves in orbit in cosmic space. It therefore casts a different shadow of this stone all the time, and you can follow this shadow all through the day. You can say that when the sun rises in the morning the shadow is there [drawing on the board], then it moves on a bit and the shadow is there, and so on. But the shadow also changes in the course of the year because the sun is always rising in a different place. It was like this in March, and a bit later on like this. And the wisdom of the learned person or the priest, if you like, the Druid priest who was appointed to observe such things in those times, lay in being able to judge this shadow. He would be able to know, therefore, that when the shadow reached this point here, this or that needed to be done in the fields. He was able to tell people this. He could see it from the position of the sun. Or if the shadow reached this point, let us say, the bull had to be taken around, the beasts had to be mated, for this had to be done on a particular day of the year. The priest would thus observe and know what needed to be done all through the year.

And so the whole of life was really governed by the movements of the sun. Today people never think that they are doing the same thing, because they look in the calendar, as I told you. But in those days you had to go to the actual sources, you had to discover these things by considering the universe, as it were.

At any particular time, let us say in autumn, for example, it would be clearly established what had to be done in the fields, and the 'bull festival' would also be laid down for a particular time in the year from the things these people said. Then the bull would be taken round; at other times it would be kept away from the cows, and so on. The feasts of old were also fixed accordingly, and they would be very much in connection with these things. Today such an arrange­ment of stones would be called a Druid circle. This here [Fig. 30] is a dolmen or cromlech, with the stones char­acteristically standing like this, and covered at the top, so that the inside is in shade.

Now you see, people know, more or less, that the sunlight is sometimes more and sometimes less pow­erful, for they can feel it from the way they sweat or feel cold. What people do not know, however, is that the shade also varies, just as the light does. It varies in accord with the way the light varies. But people are not in the habit today of considering differences in a shadow. In those earlier times, people first of all developed the ability to tell the differences in a shadow. Within the shadow you see the spiritual aspect. The sun's rays have not only physical qualities but also spiritual qualities. And the Druid priest would observe the spiritual quality of the sun's rays in there, and it would depend on this if it was better to grow one particular plant in a particular country or another, for this depended on the spiritual quality that came down to the earth from the sun. The shadows also gave excellent opportunity to observe the moon influences. These play a particular role when it comes to mating farm animals, for example, so that the time for mating could be determined. And the whole year was really considered according to those observations made of the sun.

Now if we were to dig down underneath such a crom­lech, we would find that it also served as a burial place. These stones were set up in places where people were also buried. The significance of this is that when a human being has left his body, that body has a composition which is different from everything else. The soul, the spirit, has dwelt in the body for a whole lifetime. When the body dissolves, the powers in it are different from those in the rest of the hills. And those powers would stream up and make it easier for people to see things rightly inside, in the shade. Those people still knew powers of nature that were very different from the powers people were to know later on.

And when one sees individual stones raised high up in some hilly regions — this is something one also sees in other parts of Britain; I saw it in Ilkley, for instance, where the first course was given during my visit to England— with the site well chosen—one had a wide view over the area from up there — you'll find such signs there, swastikas, a symbol used to create much mischief in Germany today. This swastika is now being worn by people who have no idea that it was once a sign used to indicate to people who came from a long way off that the people in that place saw not only with their physical eyes but also with the eye of the spirit. In my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds I have described them as lotus flowers. The intention was to let people know they were able to see with these lotus flowers.

So you have a rite here which essentially consisted in people wanting to bring the spiritual element from the cosmos down to the earth for their social and life situations. You can still see it there today, and it makes the area extraordinarily interesting. These were the last of those ancient sites, places on the west coast to which people withdrew at the time, for after this, people came from the east and writing was introduced. That early form of writing was called runes. The runes were sticks that would be put together to form letters; very different therefore from today.

And only then did Norse mythology develop, which is what we call it today — Odin, Thor and so on. This only came later, and it came because writing was transplanted to that region.

You need not be all that surprised to hear me talk of the shadow like this, for even an animal sees something in a shadow. Just watch the strange way a horse will behave when it is standing somewhere along a road at night, where there are lights, and looks at its shadow on a wall. One just has to know that an animal, a horse, does not see its shadow the way we do. Our eyes are set in such a way that they look ahead. The horse's eyes are set in such a way that they look to the side. Because of this the horse does not actually see the shadow itself, but perceives the spiritual element in the shadow. People will of course say the horse is afraid of its shadow. But the fact is that it does not see the shadow at all, but perceives the spiritual element in the shadow. And those primitive peoples also perceived differences in the shadow all the year round, just as we note differences in the sun's heat and in cold temperatures. So that was a rite which people had then. And you can realize from what I have told you that the rites which developed in ancient times were something that was really needed. They existed because people needed them. They took the place of all the things that could later be read, and at the same time it was a matter of communion between human beings and the gods. People did not pray so much, but they made these things known to others, and this then became part of life; it had a relationship to life, a significance in life.


At the time of the Druid rites — well, gentlemen, the enthusiasm people sometimes have for some movement or other today simply does not compare with the tremendous enthusiasm people had for their Druid rites in those days. They would have let them­selves be stoned or beheaded for those Druid rites. The question is, why? Because they knew that one simply cannot live unless one has proper knowledge of what happens in the universe, one can't celebrate the bull festival at the right time, one can't sow one's grain, one's rye, at the right time.

Later it all became blurred, and then people said: 'But things must have a purpose in life!' Human attitudes to these things differ greatly at different times, and we can only understand this if we realize that things have been happening, such as the matter being completely forgotten, so that today we can only see how things once were from these symbols, as they are called.

Understanding is at its weakest where you have symbols in a place, for you do not need symbols if you have the real thing. When an altar was built the way the Druids did in order to observe the sun itself, they would not put an image of the sun on it!

[sketch of the culture at the time]

..  this Druid rite was solely connected with agri­culture and animal husbandry when it was at its height, for these made up people's lives then. Later on, skilled crafts or trades also developed in areas where until then people had lived solely from the agriculture and animal husbandry which had given their rite its full justification. Tilling the soil and looking after animals was all there was when the Druid cult had its flowering. People dressed in skins, and so on. Craft skills were such that everything they made was made to meet a need. If a man had the time, he’d make something he ndeed to wear, or an object such as a knife made of very hard stone, for example, which he would work on, and so on. The important things were the crops and the animals, and for these, people wanted to know from their gods when they should do particular things.


Old stones <-> Inspiration (hidden sun rays, like Jacob Boehme)

I was particularly impressed with all this recently. This struck me with particular force when I was invited by our English anthroposophical friends to give a course of lectures at Penmaenmawr in the second half of August. Penmaenmawr is in Wales, where the island of Anglesey lies over against the West coast of Britain. It is really an extraordinary region which shows that there are quite different geographies over the Earth's surface from those you will find discussed in textbooks, even for the most advanced students. Ordinarily we think it more than enough if a geographical description includes the character of the vegetation, flora and fauna, and I in addition we base it on the geological and palaeontological nature of the region. But the Earth displays differentiations of a much more inward nature than any you will ordinarily find in geographical works. Thus in Penmaenmawr, where these lectures were held, you have only to go a short distance, a mile or so into the mountains, and all over the place you can find the remains of the old Druid cults, fallen stone circles of a simple sort. For instance, stones are put together to enclose a small space and covered with another stone so as to form a little chamber, where the light of the sun could be cut off, leaving the chamber in darkness.

I do not dispute that such cromlechs had also to serve as burial places, for at all times the most important centers of worship have been set up over the graves of fellow-men. But here, even with these simple cromlechs, we have something further, as indeed indicated by the so-called Druid circles.

It was a wonderful experience when I went with a friend [editor: most probably Guenther Wachsmuth, see his report below] one day to one of these mountains at Penmaenmawr, on which the scanty remains of two such circles are still to be seen lying very close to each other.

Even today it can be seen from the position of the stones that there were once twelve of them, and if one wants to discover their purpose they must be observed closely.

  • Now while the sun follows his course through the Cosmos, whether during a day or during a year, a quite specific shadow is cast beneath each stone; and the path of the sun could be traced by following the shadow as it changed in the course of a day or year. We are still sensitive to light today, especially if light is associated with warmth or warmth with light. Present-day consciousness can naturally also notice the difference between the light of the summer and winter sun, since we are warm in summer and cold in winter; and we may note finer differences too. But, you see the same differences we can notice in so obvious a fashion in the light, when we are either warm or freezing, can be perceived in the shadow as well. There is a difference between the October sun and the July or August sun, not only in the direction but in the quality of the shadow. One of the duties of the Druids was to develop a special faculty for perceiving the quality of the shadow — for perceiving, let us say, the peculiar intermingling of a red tone in the August shadow or a blue one in that of November or December. Thus the Druids were able, by the training they received, to read off the daily and yearly course of the sun in the shadows. We can still see from these remains that one of the tasks they undertook was something of this sort.
  • There were many other things that belonged to this cult: a Sun ritual, which, however, was not a mere abstraction, not even the abstraction we see in devotion and reverence. Without undervaluing devotion and reverence, it would be a complete error to believe that. But devotion and reverence were not in this case the essentials, for the cult included something quite different.

Take the grain of wheat or rye. It must be planted within the Earth at a particular moment of the year, and it is a bad thing for it to be planted at an inappropriate moment. Anyone who has exact knowledge of these things is well aware that it makes a difference whether a seed is planted a few days earlier or later. There are other things of this sort in human life. The people who lived about three thousand years ago in the region where the Druid cult flourished led an extremely simple life. Agriculture and cattle-raising were the chief occupations. But we may ask how they were to know when to sow and harvest in the best way, or when they were to attend to the many other jobs which Nature requires in the course of a year. Nowadays of course we have farmers' calendars which tell the farmer that on such and such a day such and such a job needs to be done, and tell him very intelligently. In our day, with our type of consciousness, this information can be catalogued and read off from the printed page. We think nothing of it, but the fact remains that there was none of that, not even the most primitive form of reading and writing, in the days when the Druid religion was in its prime.

On the other hand, the Druids could stand in one of these stone circles and by observing the shadow they could proclaim, for instance, that during the next week farmers must undertake this or that work, or the bulls be introduced to the herd since the moment was right for the mating of the cows. The druids were equipped to read in the Cosmos; they used the signs produced by those monuments of which we have today only such scanty remains, and could read from them the information the sun gave them of what was to be done on Earth.

The constitution of the soul was in fact quite different, and it would be a serious conceit on our part if, just because we are capable of this little bit of reading and writing, we were to undervalue the art which made it possible to lay down the work and activities required on Earth through these revelations of the heavens. In places like Penmaenmawr we are impelled to recollect many other things, too, which Spiritual Science is peculiarly qualified to investigate.

[Imaginations and geographical qualities of certain locations (for druid circles)]

I have often pointed out in anthroposophical circles how ordinary thoughts are inadequate to grasp what Spiritual Science can investigate and how we have to conceive it in Imaginations. I assume you all know what I have said about Imaginations in my book 'Knowledge of the Higher Worlds'. It is these Imaginations and not our ordinary ideas which we must have in our souls when we are describing things on the basis of some immediate spiritual observation and not of external sense-perception. The genuinely spiritual-scientific accounts which are given you in our anthroposophical lectures have their origin in Imaginations of that kind.

Now these Imaginations are much more alive than ordinary abstract thoughts, which can give us no inkling of what reality is, but only pictures of it. Imaginations on the other hand, can be laid hold of by active thinking, in the same way that we can grasp tables and chairs. We are much more vigorously permeated by reality when our knowledge comes from Imaginations and not from abstract concepts. Anyone who speaks on the basis of Imaginations always has them before him as though he were writing something down — writing, however, not with those terribly abstract signs which constitute our writing, but with cosmic pictures.

Now what is the position with regard to these Imaginations in our district here?

Anyone who knows them knows also that it is pretty easy to attain them, pretty easy to form them. If he has a sense of responsibility when describing anything through Spiritual Science, he will allow these Imaginations to take effect — that is, to inscribe them in the spirit — only when he has pondered them a good deal and tested them thoroughly. Nobody who speaks out of the spiritual world with a full sense of responsibility has a facile tongue.

Nevertheless we can say that in districts like ours here it is relatively easy to inscribe these Imaginations, but they are obliterated equally easy. If in districts like this we create a spiritual content in Imaginations — I cannot put it any other way — we find it is like writing something down and immediately afterwards rubbing it out.

But there in Wales, where land and sea meet and the tides ebb and flow each day, where the wind blows through and through you — for instance in the hotel where we were staying you could not only feel the wind blowing in the windows, but when one walked on the carpet it was like walking on a rough sea because of the wind blowing under the carpet — where moreover Nature is so full of life and so joyful in its life that you may get almost hourly alternations of rain and sunshine, then you do really come to see how Nature revealed herself to the learned Druids when they gazed upon her from their mountain height.

How then did the Earth appear to the Druid's spiritual eye when the heavens had the character I have just described?

This is very interesting to observe, though you will only realize it fully if you can grasp the particular geographical quality of the place. There you have to exert yourself much more vigorously if you want to construct Imaginations than you do, for instance, here. There, they are much more difficult to inscribe in the astral atmosphere. On the other hand they are more permanent and are not so easily extinguished.

You come to realize how these old Druids chose for their most important cult-centers, just such places in which the spiritual as it approaches mankind, expresses itself to some extent in the quality of the place. Those Druid circles we visited — well, if we had gone up on a balloon and looked down from above on the larger and the smaller circles, for though they are some distance apart you would not notice that when you are a certain height above them — the circles would have appeared like the ground-plan of the Goetheanum which has been destroyed by fire. It is a wonderfully situated spot! As you climb the heights, you have wide views over land and sea. Then you reach the top and the Druid circles lie before you — there where the hill is hollowed out, so that you find yourself in a ring of hills, and within this ring of hills are the Druid circles. It was there that the Druid sought his science, his knowledge, his wisdom; there that he sought his Sun-wisdom but also his Nature-wisdom.

[Continued - reading nuances in shadows]

As the Druid penetrated into the relationship between what he saw on Earth and what streamed down from the heavens, he saw the whole processes of plant-growth and vegetation quite differently from the way in which they appear to our abstract thought of later days. If we can properly grasp the true quality of the sun, on the one hand the physical rays which enter our eyes, on the other the shadow with its various gradations, we come to realize that the spiritual essence of the sun lives on in the various grades of shadow. The shadow prevents only the physical rays of the sun from reaching other bodies, whereas the spiritual penetrates further.

In the cromlechs which I have described to you, a small dark place is separated off. But it is only the physical sunlight which cannot penetrate there; its activity penetrates, and the Druid, as gradually through this activity he came to be permeated by the secret forces of cosmic existence, entered into the secrets of the world.

  • Thus, for instance, the actions of the sun on plants was revealed to him; he could see that a particular kind of plant-life flourishes at a particular time when the sun is active in a particular way. He could trace the spiritual activity of the sun and see how it pours and streams into flower, leaf and root; and it was the same with animals.
  • And while he was thus able inwardly to recognize the activity of the sun he also began to see how other activities from the Cosmos, for example, those of the moon, pour into it. He could see that the effect of the sun was to promote sprouting growth, with an upward tendency, and so he knew that if a plant as it grows out from the soil were exposed only to the sun, it would grow unendingly. The sun brings forth burgeoning, luxuriant life. If this life is checked and reduced to form, if leaves, blossom, seed and fruit assume a specific shape, if what strives towards the infinite is variously limited — all this has its origin in the activities of the moon. And these are to be found not only in the reflected light of the sun, for the moon reflects all influences, and these in their turn can be seen in the growth of the plant out of its root and also in what lives in the propagation of animals, and so on.
  • Let us take a particular instance. The Druid observed the growing plant; he observed in a more living way what, later on, Goethe observed more abstractly in his idea of metamorphosis. The Druid saw the downward streaming sun-forces, but he saw also the reflected sun-forces in everything that gives the plant its form. In his natural science he saw the combined activity of sun and moon on the root, which is wholly within the Earth and has the function of absorbing the salts of the Earth in a particular way. He could see that the action of sun and moon was quite different on the leaf, which, wrests itself out of the Earth and presses forward into the air. Again, he saw a different action on the flower, which pushes onwards to the light of the sun. He could see as a unity the activity of the Earth; to him, plant-growth and the being of the animal were also a unity.

Of course his life there was just what we experienced, with the winds raging around, which can reveal so much about the structure of the region, with the peculiar weather conditions which manifest themselves so vividly in that district. Thus, for example, at the beginning of one of our Eurythmy performances, which took place in a wooden hall, the audience sat with their umbrellas up, because just before the performance there had been a heavy downpour which was still going on when the performance began. The curtains were quite wet! This intimate association with Nature which can still be experienced today was of course also experienced by the Druids. Nature there is not so hard; she almost embraces one. It really is a delightful experience. I might almost say that one is drawn on and accompanied by the activity of Nature; one seems to be part of it. I even met people who maintained that one need not really eat there, that one can be fed by this very activity of Nature.


The Druid, then, lived with his Sun-Initiation within this activity of Nature, and he saw as the unity I have described the sun and moon mediated through the activity of the Earth, the growth of the plant, the growth of root, leaf and flower; and all this not in the form of abstract laws as today, but of living elemental beings. Different elemental beings of sun and moon were active in the root, in the leaf and in the flower. He could also pursue in the wider realms of Nature what is so beneficially differentiated in root, leaf and flower.

  • Through his imaginative gifts he could see the small elemental beings restricted to narrow limits in the root, and he knew that what lives in beneficial form in the root can free itself and expand to the gigantic. Thus he saw the large-scale activities of Nature as the small activities of the plant raise to a gigantic power. Just as he had spoken of the elemental beings in the root of the plant, he could also speak of these root-beings as having expanded in a cosmically irregular way and manifesting in the formation of frost, dew and hail. On the one hand he spoke of the root-beings who were beneficially active, and of the giants of frost and ice which are these root-beings grown to gigantic size.
  • Again, he spoke of the elemental activities in the leaf of the plant, which permeate themselves with the forces of the air; he traced them into the distant spaces of Nature, and he then saw that, if what lives in the leaf frees itself and strives beyond its proper limits into the distances of Nature, it manifests in the surging of winds. The giants of wind and storm are the elemental beings of the plant grown beyond their size. And the element which is distilled in the flower the etheric oils with their phosphoric quality — if that is freed, it manifests itself as the giants of fire, among whom, for instance, Loki belongs. In this science of sun and moon, therefore, the Druid saw as a unity both that which lives in the narrowly restricted space of the plant and that which frees itself and lives in wind and weather.

[Healing medicines]

But he went further. He said to himself: When that which lives in root, leaf and flower is contained within the desirable limits set by the good gods, normal plant-growth results. If it appears in hoar frost, that is the work of opposing beings: for the elemental beings growing into powers of opposition, create the harmful, devastating aspects of Nature. Now as a human being I can make use of the devastating activities of the beings who are the opponents of the gods; I can gather the hoar frost in appropriate ways, and the products of the storm and whatever is caught up in the surging of wind and rain.

I can make use of the giant forces for my own purposes by burning the plant, for instance, and reducing it to ashes, to charcoal and so on. I can take these forces, and by using frost, hail and rain and other such things, or what the giants of fire control — things which are the expression of forces that have grown to harmful vastness — I can protect the normal growth of the plant. I can rob these giants of all this and can treat normal plants with it, and by applying these forces of the opposing powers I can make healing medicines out of the good elemental forces which have remained within their proper limits. And this was in fact one of the ways of making medicines out of plants, by employing frost and snow and ice and by the use of burning and calcinations. The Druid felt it to be his work to take whatever was harmful from the opposing giant powers and restore it to the service of the good gods. We can trace these things in many different ways.


If we proceed from considerations of this sort, a good deal of what confronted men in former things through a primitive, but penetrating, clairvoyant way of looking at things takes on greater value than it has for present-day mankind in general. We will not even pass by the knowledge that came into being in the pastoral life of primitive times, which is nowadays so superficially ignored; for those old shepherds dreamt many a solution to the mysteries of the stars better than can be computed today by our clever scientists with their observatories and spectroscopes. Strange as that may sound, it is true. By studying in a spiritual-scientific way what has been preserved from olden times we can find our way into this mysterious connection we have with the cosmos.

Let me tell you here of what can be discovered if we seek through spiritual science the deeply religious and ethical, but also social import of the old Druidic Mysteries on the one hand, and those of the Mithras Mysteries on the other; for this will give us points of contact with the way in which we should conceive the shaping of a Michael Festival.


Regarding the Druid Mysteries, the lecture cycle I gave a few weeks ago in Penmaenmawr, Wales — the spot in England that lies exactly behind the island of Anglesea — is of quite special significance because in that place many reminders of the old sacrificial sanctuaries and Mystery temples of the Druids are to be found lying about in fragments. Today these relics, these cromlechs and mounds, are not really very impressive. One climbs up to the mountain tops and finds stones arranged in such a way as to form a sort of chamber, with a larger stone on top; or one sees the cromlechs arranged in circles — originally there were always twelve.

In the immediate vicinity of Penmaenmawr were to be found two such sun-circles adjoining each other; and in this particular neighborhood, where even in the spiritual life of nature there is so much that has a different effect from that of nature elsewhere, what I have set forth in various anthroposophical lectures concerning the Druid Mysteries could be tested with the utmost clarity. There is indeed a quite special spiritual atmosphere in this region where — on the island of Anglesea — the Society of King Arthur had a settlement. I must describe it as follows:

In speaking of super-sensible things we cannot form thoughts in the same way as we usually do in life or in science, where abstract thoughts are formed, conclusions drawn, and so forth. But to be reduced, in addition, even to speaking more or less abstractly — our language, which has become abstract, demands this — well, if we want to describe something in a spiritual-scientific way we cannot be as abstract as all that in the inner being of our soul: everything must be presented pictorially. We must have pictures, imaginations, before the mind's eye.

And this means something different from having thoughts. Thoughts in the soul are extraordinarily patient, according to the degree of our inner indolence: we can hold them; but imaginations always lead a life of their own: we feel quite clearly that an imagination presents itself to us. It is different from writing or drawing, yet similar. We write or draw with our soul; but imaginations are not abstractly held fast like mere thoughts: we write them. In most parts of Europe where civilization has already taken on so abstract a character these imaginations flit past comparatively very quickly: depicting the super-sensible always involves an inner effort. It is as though we wrote something that would then be immediately wiped away by some demonic power — gone again at once. The same is true of imaginations by means of which we bring the super-sensible to consciousness and experience it in our soul.

Now, the spiritual atmosphere in the region of Wales that I mentioned has this peculiarity: while imaginations stamp themselves less readily into the astral element, they persist longer, being more deeply imprinted. That is what appears so conspicuous in that locality; and indeed, everything there points to a more spiritual way of retracing the path to what those old Druid priests really strove for — not during the decadence of the Druid cults, when they contained much that was rather distasteful and even nefarious, but in the time of their flowering.


Examining one of these cromlechs we find it to close off, in a primitive way, a certain space for a chamber that was covered for reasons having to do with the priest's purposes. When you observe sunlight you have first the physical sunlight. But this physical sunlight is wholly permeated by the spiritual activities of the sun; and to speak of the physical sunlight merely as does the modern physicist would be exactly the same as talking about a man's muscles, bones, blood, and so on, omitting all reference to the soul and spirit holding sway within him.

Light is by no means mere phos: it is phosphoros, light-bearing — is endowed with something active and psychic. But this psychic element of light is lost to man in the mere sense-world.

Now, when the Druid priest entered this burying place — like other old cult sanctuaries, the cromlechs were mostly erected over graves - he set up this arrangement which in a certain way was impervious to the physical sun-rays; but the spiritual activities of the sun penetrated it, and the Druid priests were specially trained to perceive these. So he looked through these stones - they were always specially selected — into the chamber where the spiritual activity of the sun penetrated, but from which the physical effect was excluded.

His vision had been finely schooled, for what can be seen in a primitive darkroom of that sort varies according to the date, whether February, July, August, or December. In July it is lightly tinged with yellow; in December it radiates a faintly bluish shade from within. And one capable of observing this beholds — in the qualitative changes undergone in the course of the year by this shadow-phenomenon enclosed in such a darkroom — the whole cycle of the seasons in the psycho-spiritual activity of the sun's radiance.

And further: these sun-circles are arranged in the number twelve, like the twelve signs of the zodiac; and on the mountain we had climbed we found a large sun-circle and nearby a smaller one. If one had ascended, perhaps in a balloon, and looked down upon these two Druid circles, ignoring the insignificant distance between them, the same ground plan would have presented itself — there is something profoundly moving about this — as that of the Goetheanum in Dornach which was destroyed by fire.

The old Druid priests had schooled themselves to read from what thus met their soul's eye how, at every time of day and at every season of the year as well, the sun's shadow varied. They could trace these shadow formations and by means of them determine accurately, this is the time of March, this is the time of October. Through the perception this brought them they were conscious of cosmic events, but also of cosmic conditions having significance for life on this Earth.

And now, think how people go about it today when they want to determine the influence of cosmic life on earthly life, even the peasants! They have a calendar telling what should be done on this or that day, and they do it, too, approximately; for the fundamental knowledge once available concerning these matters has vanished. But calendars there were none at the time of the old Druids, nor even writing: what the Druid priest was able to tell from his observations of the sun constituted men's knowledge of the connection between the heavens and the Earth. And when the priest said: The position of the sun now calls for the sowing of wheat, or, it is the time to lead the bull through the herd, it was done. The cult of that epoch was anything but an abstract prayer: it regulated life in its obvious, practical demands in accord with the enlightenment obtained by communicating with the spirit of the universe. The great language of the heavens was deciphered, and then applied to earthly things.

All this penetrated even the most intimate details of the social life. The priest indicated, according to his readings in the universe, what should be done on such and such a day of the year in order to achieve a favorable contact with the whole universe. That was a cult that actually made of the whole of life a sort of divine worship. By comparison, the most mystical mysticism of our time is a kind of abstraction, for it lets outer nature go its way, so to speak, without bothering about it: it lives and has its being in tradition and seeks inner exaltation, shutting itself off and concentrating within itself as far as possible in order to arrive at an abstract connection with some chimerical world of divine spirit. All this was very different in those olden times. Within the cult — and it was a cult that had a real, true connection with the universe — men united with what the Gods were perpetually creating and bringing about in the world: and as earth-men they carried out the will of the gods as read in the stellar script by means of the methods known to the Druid priests. But they had to know how to read the writing in the stars. — It is profoundly affecting to be able, at the very spot, to transport oneself back to conditions such as I have described as prevailing during the height of the Druid culture. Elsewhere in that region as well — even over as far as Norway — are to be found many such relics of the Druid culture.


for illustration

see lecture extract: Rhythm of a year#1923-10-06-GA229

Gunther Wachsmuth (1938)

in: 'Mysterien- und Geisteschichte der Menschheit' (p 159 onwards)

on p 162

On one occasion, when Rudolf Steiner was walking with the author up the hills towards the druid sites in Penmaenmawr in Sales, he explained the original form of the druid circles on the basis of the available stone remnants there. This form actually consisted of two circles, a larger and a smaller one. Standing in the middle, the priest of the Mysteries could target, across the individual huge stones that were laid out along certain macroscopic patterns, specific mountains and mountain tops in the surroundings, behind which the individual zodiac signs were passing by. This way the druid was reading the world hour or zodiac clock

Note on p 176 he adds a similar comment about his visit with Steiner to Tintagel (Arthur's castle)

in: "The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner."

During his trips to England, In Penmaenmawr, Steiner visited a Druid circle:

In keeping with the spiritual atmosphere of the place, the conversation centered on the Mysteries of the Druids and their opposite pole in Europe, the cult of Mithras, by which the southern Mysteries were contrasted to the northern ones. Before Steiner's spiritual eye the ancient Druid culture came to life upon the spot. Indeed he himself seemed to change into a Druid priest, speaking with intimate knowledge and understanding as he began to explain to his astounded companion the arrangement and the function of the stones, 'a unique and strange picture, as now in the loneliness of this lofty plateau Rudolf Steiner entered into the midst of the Druid circle. He told me to lift my gaze above the stones towards the mountain peaks surrounding the plateau, and described to me, with an intensity in his retrospect as if the event were occurring at that moment, how once the Druid priests, through viewing the signs of the zodiac passing along the horizon in the course of the year, were able to experience the spiritual cosmos, the beings within it, and their mandates to humanity.'


[1] - Terminology: Trotten Mysteries - term clarification

Summary: The correct term is Trotten and NOT Drotten or Trottic, nor Trott, Trottnic or Drottnic mysteries.


This note comments on the term Trotten as an english translation for 'Mysterien der Trotten' or Trottenmysterien, a term ..

  • for which little information is available, and Rudolf Steiner only uses it in few lectures (documented below)
  • and also, Rudolf Steiner mentions in another lecture (1904-09-30-GA092) the term 'Drott', explaining that 'Drottes’ or Druids were ancient Germanic initiates. "The spiritual life [of Europe] emanated from a mother lodge in Scandinavia, ‘Drottes’ Lodge."

Hence confusion arises whether Drott=Trott and just another name for Druidic culture, or whether something else is meant. Where they two names for the same culture, or two substreams that are distinct and should be differentiated.

Below is shown that the Gesambtausgabe team of editors over the generations may have been a bit sloppy, as many people work on many texts and don't study the impact of their changes.

Lecture references on the term in various sources


the term Drotten Mysteries is used for North-european Mysteries.

One can distinguish between west-european and south-european mysteries. In Scandinavia and Russia one had the Drottic mysteries [editor: german in GA first edition: Drottenmysterien (editing error) - should be Mysterien der Trotten], in England and the West the Druidic mysteries. Both have totally disappeared.


Also Europe had, in very ancient times, its occult lodges of the White Brotherhood. From Scotland to Northern Russia, these were called the Trott-lodges [editor: in german Trotten-lodges] or Druid-lodges.

The GA090B lectures were checked, source manuscript/typoscripts versus first DE GA volume. No source for 1905-12-10-GA90B, but three for 1905-03-22-GA090B. One is handwritten, another typoscript, and both contain Mysterien der Trotten. Then the last typoscript edits and makes this Trottenmysterien, with handwritten correction to Drottenmysterien.

Indeed, in volume GA090B, the commentary (p 419 in DE version) states Drotten- or Trotten-Mysteries, assuming they are one and the same.


One famous initiate school was in the north of present-day Russia. Its initiates were called trotts.


In the English GA version the term still appears with a 'T' and even five times. Two original German typoscripts were checked, and they contain the term Trottenmysterien. On the other hand, the modern GA published version, see DE version here contains the term is 'Drottenmysterien'. So this is another case of editing by the GA team, see above.

The first sentence (1) below is the most clear, because it differentiates the Trotten from the Druidic (positioned "in various regions of France, Germany and Britain"). Sentences (2) and (4) use 'and' to juxtapose Druidic and Trottic, so taking them together. Sentence (3)

  1. More to the North, in Scandinavia and Northern Russia, we find the Trotten Mysteries, founded by the Initiate who is known as Sieg, or Siegfried: Sikke.
  2. The Druidic and Trotten Mysteries were the inspiring source of European civilisation and culture in pre-Christian times.
  3. In all these Mysteries, no matter where we look, we find an element of tragedy. Let me put it thus: The Initiate in the ancient Druidic or Trotten Mysteries might indeed be united with Hu or Baldur, but there was something lacking in the spiritual world into which he entered.
  4. In the Mysteries of Wales and Britain the teachings of Dionysos were received and the influence of the Christ Mystery so permeated the Druidic and Trotten Mysteries that the Initiates realised in full clarity of consciousness that He whom they had sought as Hu and Baldur, had come to earth as Christ.
  5. How deeply Goethe had penetrated these things is apparent, for instance when he speaks of the twelve gathered around the table — twelve as in the ancient Trotten Mysteries.

summary: The 'official GA' version in DE says Drotten, the EN version says Trottic. What did Rudolf Steiner say? Trotten

Four source versions for this lecture, all handwritten manuscripts, the clearest and most readable manuscript immediately shows Trottenmysterien. That's what you get with nine editions of GA114 volume. The DE extract below comes from the 5th edition of 1955. In 2001 already the 9th edition was published.

In den Drotten-Mysterien [editing error - should be Trottenmysterien] gehörte in den alten Zeiten Europas immer zu denjenigen, die innerhalb der geistigen Entwickelung die Lehrer waren, eine Gemeinschaft von Zwölf. Die hatten zu verkündigen. Und einen Dreizehnten hatten sie, der nicht lehrte, sondern der durch seine bloße Gegenwart die Weisheit ausstrahlte, welche die anderen empfingen.

the English version translates differently again

... In the little known, enigmatic Trottic Mysteries of Northern Europe before the coming of Christianity, an earthly symbol of the spiritual reality of the Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas was created. Those who were Teachers were always associated with a community of twelve. It was for the Twelve to proclaim the message and there was a Thirteenth who did not teach but who through his very presence radiated the wisdom which the others received. This was the picture on Earth of a heavenly, spiritual reality. Again, in Goethe's poem Die Geheimnisse 2 where the poet has given an indication of his Rosicrucian inspiration, we are reminded how Twelve sit around a Thirteenth who is not necessarily a great Teacher. Brother Mark, in his simplicity, is himself to be addressed by the Twelve as the Thirteenth — when the former Thirteenth shall have left them. He is to be the bringer, not of teaching, but of the spiritual substance itself. And it was the same wherever an inkling or actual knowledge of this lofty spiritual fact existed among men.

In 'The Spiritual Origins of Eastern Europe', Sergei O. Prokofieff uses the term Trott Mysteries.

[2] Positioning Trotten Mysteries and Wotan Impulse

Question or problem statement
  • (a) In 1904 is stated that Drott is the Scandinavian term for Druid, and that spiritual life in Europe emanated from a mother lodge in Scandinavia, ‘Drottes’ Lodge.
  • (b) In 1909 is said that the Trotten Mysteries are founded by Sieg and their influence is more to the North, oa Scandinavia.
  • (c) Then in 1923-09-10-GA228 is explained how the Wotan impulse came as a preparation for the Christ Impulse after the period when the Druid culture was in its prime. It originates from a mystery center near the Black Sea and proceeded westwards.
  • (d) Sieg and Wotan are related, as Sieg was the chela/initiate which enabled a higher adept to take over his body and work through him.
    • (e) Several lectures discuss a pathway of this process and influence over multiple incarnations (of both Sieg/Wotan) and cultural ages, but not consistent or giving full clarity in the matter.
  • (f) Timing of (b) and (c) as related to (d) and (e) leaves much open for interpretation, based on the available lecture extracts


Working hypothesis following interpretation of the above:

  • the Druid culture was founded from the Drottes mother lodge in Scandinavia, hence Drott or Druid
  • the Trotten mysteries follow the Druidic culture, they were founded by Sieg
  • assumption: the Wotan Impulse is the same as what is described in the Trotten Mysteries, and it originates from the Mystery Center near the Black Sea and proceeded westwards
  • what remains is an apparent slight contradiction in the fact Rudolf Steiner positions the Druidic more "in various regions of France, Germany and Britain" and "More to the North, in Scandinavia and Northern Russia, we find the Trotten Mysteries". It is not impossible that although the impulse moved westwards, the culture of the Trotten Mysteries became more established in the Northern areas, whereas the earlier Druid culture had its prime more southwards. This view would resolve the apparent contradiction. In other words: both Druidic and Trotten cultures were spread across Europe, but after the Druid culture regressed (and fell into decadence), a new Trotten culture by Sieg introduced the Wotan impulse. It is clear that both cultures clashed, as explained in 1923-09-10-GA228 where it says that Druids applied treatment to people who were starting to intellectualize (use their new head faculties instead of being in nature).

[3] - Various sites across Europe

See 'References and further reading' section below: several websites and books provide an overview.

3.1 - Mount Sainte-Odile (France)

Mount Sainte-Odile (or Odilienberg) is a magical location in Alsace France, with a 10km long 'Heidenmauer' pagan wall, Druid's grotto, dolmen. Estimated to have been inhabited as early as the Neolithic period (5.000-1.800 BC), but certainly since the Bronze Age (2.200-800 BC).

Rudolf Steiner uses it as an example of the flowing together of the old pagan stream with the emerging Christ Impulse. See Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams.

He also wrote (see Individuality of Rudolf Steiner#Poem of Rudolf Steiner to Ita Wegman)

I ask on Odile’s hill (Schionatulander), A friendly nod says “Yes”. (Sigune)

Schionatulander and Sigune und are characters from Wolfram von Eschenbach works Titurel and Parzival. Sigune is the daughter of Kyot and Schoysiane, and a cousin of Parsival. Sigune and Schionatulander grow up together and have a youthly love affair but are then separated.


We look, for example, at the Mount Sainte-Odile and see there founded in the Vosges the Christian monastery of Odilia, who was blinded by her father, the pagan duke; we see the Christian monastery on the site of the pagan walls. But these pagan walls are nothing but the remains of ancient pagan mysteries.

We see dying paganism flowing together at one geographical point with the emerging Christ impulse.

We see this expressed in the myth about the blinding of Odile imposed by the pagan side, by her own pagan ancestry, but who is made inwardly spiritually seeing by the priest from Regensburg, by the Christ Impulse.

We see working together what later blossomed in Christianity in Regensburg, what later bore great fruit in Albertus Magnus, we see it flourishing there; we see it instilling the Christ impulse into the eye of Odile, blinded by pagan ancestors. Geographically at this point we see what is Christian light and the old pagan darkness overlapping. We see this on the ground for which it was decreed from Rome: Take the gold, but offer the gold to those rich who are the realms of the supernatural. Embrace the gold in that for which the cross is the sign! - In our time, on the other hand, we see the flow of gold as being expressed in the old pagan Nordic saga.

longer extract - indicative (basic/poor web) translation from DE version of this lecture:

From Rome the forces that assert themselves in Europe, I would like to say, from below, how these are systematized from Rome, how they are to be incorporated into the laws that came from the spiritual world. And there you can see Rome on the one hand: in the south, the magic of the world of signs that comes from above, but executed the view to the north, where the free city life is formed, executed the view to the north, where the joy of thriving Mystery of Gold, at Mystery of the Gem.

But this North has already formed something from its old mysteries that must necessarily be connected with this mystery, something that is connected on the one hand with the mystery of the precious stone - we want to leave that out of play today - on the other hand, which is related to the mystery of gold.

For Christianity did not arise merely as an impulse; Christianity has also been opposed. As it was counteracted in the south with the magic of the sign, it was counteracted in the north by embodying and illustrating the great mystery of gold in the legends of Central Europe and the North.

[Nibelungen and Siegfried]

And the figure of Siegfried, who has captured the gold but dies from the tragedy of the gold, is connected with the gold mystery. Everything that is linked to the Siegfried figure in the Nibelungenlied is connected with the mystery of gold. For it runs through the meaning of the Nibelungenlied like a red thread that the gold with its magic belongs solely to the supernatural world and does not have to be dedicated to the physical world. When one grasps it in this way, one grasps the mystery of gold most profoundly for the soul.

Because what does the customer say about Siegfried? What does the Nibelungenlied say? What great lesson does it contain?

Offer the gold to the dead! Leave it in the supernatural realm; for in the sensuous realm it causes mischief. This was the teaching that preceded Christianity in Nordic countries.

This was understood in Rome when the great synthesis took place between what was Roman in the ninth century and what was more northerly What was able to work out of the sign on the one hand, and on the other hand the worked gold and the precious stone on the other hand, was united in a European and artistic way. It is beautiful to see the art of signs and the art of gold and precious stones merging in the times of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Here we see the sign throughout this ancient Christian art. Because the other impulses are combined with it, we see the worked gold and the precious stone growing into the sign. That was really what Rome was systematically striving for. But that was also prepared in Europe.

For in the early days we see the Christian traditions coming up from the South in such a form that even in the non-pictorial, communicated merely through the word, the sign works and weaves.

The pagan comes from the north in such a way that people want to offer what is worldly, want to offer the decorative, the adorning, that which contains the magic of the sub-naturalistic, the sign.

And while the cross from the south was combined with the adornment of gold and precious stones from the north, which came from the old pagan mysteries, just as the sign of the cross itself was used from the mysteries for the Mystery of Golgotha, we see the three impulses grow together: representation, naturalistic, of the spiritualized nature, taking the Greek formative power in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch; then the other two impulses: the sign, the magic of the sign, the magic of the sub-material in gold and precious stones. Yes, the things that emerge later are prepared for a long time in historical development. Our time is already the epoch in which, I would like to say: everything cries out to the human being that he may learn not only to look sleepily into the present, but to really grasp the living impulses in evolution; for otherwise he will never conquer what has become chaos in the present.

I don't have the opportunity today, but maybe in the near future there will be an opportunity to show you how, by making art further up from the south to the north, one motif is expressed particularly strongly: that is the joining of the animal and the human. Thus in the earlier time there appears what is later the interaction of darkness with light. Out of the figural dark animal, the bright human stands out in the defeat of the dragon by Michael and so on, also in other combinations of the animal and the human. This later becomes chiaroscuro art. All of these things are hanging together. And much, much would have to be said if one wanted to show how this intertwining of the old time with the new time is also expressed artistically, this interpenetration of the pagan naturalistic impulse with the Christian impulses, but these, in order to have validity, again the old magic motives have to be renewed, only now stripped of magic in the old pagan sense and elevated to the true spiritual world. This was particularly well known in those centuries, the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th centuries. It was known at the time that the old pagan spirit had grown old—much of it still remained, but it had grown old—and that the young Christian had to work its way into it, that was known. We encounter this in literature, in art, in the formation of legends, everywhere.

I have often drawn your attention to the fact that people today have almost completely lost the ability to think of the spiritual and the external real together. In the fifth post-Atlantean period, which took up materialism, that was almost completely lost. One can no longer imagine the inflow of the spiritual, the meaningful, into the purely naturalistic, into the purely material. That is why today the gradual death of the pagan and the gradual emergence of the Christ impulse in European culture are presented as abstractly as possible. This was not the case in the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th centuries.

If you wanted to represent something like this, you represented it in such a way that you could think of the soul and the external body in historical and natural events, even outside of man. Everywhere you looked you saw the same thing in what was geographically around you time mental pronounced. On the other hand, there was much prophetic content in these ideas. Today in our time, if one does not want to feel superficially, but if one has a heart for the monstrous things that are happening in our time, one cannot think of the Nibelungen saga without considering the deeply prophetic that lies in the Nibelungen saga. Anyone who understands the Nibelungen saga in its depths feels prepared in it for everything that is flashing through the present in terms of terrible events. For by thinking in the same way as the thoughts in the Nibelungenlied were coined, one was still thinking prophetically, because one was thinking out of the mystery of gold.

That Hagen had the Nibelungen hoard, the hoard of gold, the gold, sunk into the Rhine is a prophetic notion and at the time the Nibelungen saga was being formed was never felt otherwise than deeply tragic with regard to the future, to all that what the Rhine will be as an occasion for antagonistic impulses towards the future. For at that time people did not yet think of the outwardly geographical and naturalistic as soulless, but thought of it in connection with the soul: in every breath of wind there was a soul, in every river course there was a soul. Otherwise one would really like to know what the meaning of the purely material designation is supposed to be: “The old Rhine”. What actually is the Rhine in the materialistic sense? - It's the water of the Rhine. What is flowing these days will probably be somewhere else in the near future. In any case, it is probably not the water of the Rhine that one can speak of as the old Rhine; and one does not usually think of the mere excavation of the earth. What is material flows by, it does not remain. In olden times one did not think of this external material, which anyway only exists as an illusion; nor did one think of external events as merely being inserted into the stream that can be described as natumalistic. What was external was also intended as an expression of the soul that interweaves all material existence. And so, especially at the time when it was still necessary, attempts were made to have the old paganism replaced by the newly emerging Christian impulse—and that was still in late centuries in Europe necessary - then one tried to think of the geographical as a soul, to make the geographical as a soul plausible to the souls, the hearts, the minds.

[Mount Sainte-Odile]

For example, we look at the Mount Sainte-Odile and see the foundation of the Christian monastery of Odilia, who was blinded by her father, the pagan duke, in the Vosges; we see the Christian monastery on the site of the pagan walls. But these pagan walls are nothing but the remains of ancient pagan mysteries. We see dying paganism flowing together at one geographical point with the emerging Christ impulse.

We see this expressed in the myth about Odile being blinded by the pagan side, by her own pagan ancestry, but who is made spiritually clairvoyant by the priest from Regensburg, from the Christ impulse. We see working together what later blossomed in Christianity in Regensburg, what later bore great fruit in Albertus Magnus, we see it flourishing there; we see it instilling the Christ impulse into the eye of Odile, blinded by pagan ancestors. Geographically at this point we see what is Christian light and the old pagan darkness overlapping.

We see this on the ground for which it was decreed from Rome: Take the gold, but offer the gold to those rich who are the realms of the supernatural. Embrace the gold in that for which the cross is the sign! - In our time, on the other hand, we see the flow of gold understood in the same way as it is expressed in the old pagan Nordic legend.

We see time opposing what, as supersensible light, has opposed gold. Siegfried went to Isenland to get the gold from the Nibelungenland. What he brought as gold from the Nibelungenland was sacrificed to the Christ impulse. This Christ impulse must not be denied; this Christ impulse must not again be pagan! Oh, if one could speak in much, much fiercer words than human words, in order to really capture the terrible meaning of this time! Because in this time speak so many signs. And in this time human ears unfortunately want to hear so little.

The first year of this terrible chaos came - people imagined: it will soon be over. They didn't want to hear that deep forces were at work in this chaos - also in the second and third year, and also now. And only when the worshiped gold is measured will people have ears to hear that what is needed at this time cannot be achieved with the usual means, not with the means that have come over from ancient times, but solely with the renewal of that which flows out of the Christ-Impulse, but which in many respects has been forgotten precisely as the Christ-Impulse. Things can only get better if as many people as possible decide to learn something, to learn from the spirit.

For since the advent of the fifth post-Atlantean age one has come further and further in the denial of the spirit. Above all, let us see how mankind used to understand not only to think materialistically about wind directions, but to think about the compass rose with soul; animated to think the area where on the one side is the Odilienberg, on the other side Regensburg. And so it was with the other places. Learn humanity to feel again that there is not just air above the ground, but spirit that must be sought; that under the earth is not only what one has to fetch from it in order to make material tools with it, but that what is gained as subnatural must be sacrificed to the supersensible. Understand humanity again that there is a mystery of gold! This is not only taught by spiritual science, but also by a course of art that is really understood in a spiritualistic sense. Oh, it is terrible to see how modern mankind waits from day to day and does not want to understand that there is something new to be understood, that old, worn-out ideas cannot get any further!

3.2 - Externsteine (Germany)

The Externsteine is a rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg in Germany. It consists of several tall narrow rock columns, the heighest being at 38 meters.and contains man made (rooms) or grottos connected by passages, and alters. Archaeological excavations have yielded paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10.000 BC.

Rudolf Steiner gave indications in the following lecture - see also Germanic mythology


Those of you who live in Scandinavia will be interested in something which we shall go into closely in our next lectures. The following question will be of particular interest to you:

What form did the activity of that archangel take who was once upon a time sent to Norway with the Nordic peoples, the Scandinavian peoples, and from whom the various archangels of Europe, especially those of Western, Central and Northern Europe, received their inspirations?

In the eyes of the world it would be regarded as the height of folly to speak of that spiritual centre on the continent of Europe which at one time radiated the most powerful spiritual impulses, the centre which was the seat of exalted spirits before the Celtic folk spirit as Celtic archangel had established a new centre in the High Castle of the Grail.

The archangel of the Northern peoples first received his mission from that place which in ancient times had been the spiritual centre of Europe.

It must seem the height of folly, as I said, if we were to indicate as the central source of inspiration for the various Germanic tribes that district which now lies over Central Germany, not actually on the Earth, but hovering above it.

If you were to describe an arc to include the towns of Detmold and Paderborn, you would then delimit the region from where the most exalted spirits were sent on their several missions to Northern and Western Europe.

Hence, because the great centre of spiritual inspiration was situated there, legend tells of Asgard having been actually located at this place on Earth. There, in the remote past, was the great centre of inspiration; in later years its spiritual mission was taken over by the Castle of the Grail.

the synopsis reads:

In remote past there existed, before the Celtic archangel had established a new centre in the Castle of the Grail, above the Earth a spiritual centre in the region of Detmold and Paderborn. According to legend ‘Asgard’ once situated here. From this centre the different archangels of Europe were sent on their different missions. In later years its spiritual mission taken over by the Castle of the Grail.

For a positioning of Asgard, or the Realm of the Gods, see FMC00.446 and 1921-07-15-GA205 on Ragnarok

For an introduction see wikipedia: Externsteine

3.3 - Alesia and Vix (France)

See also Manfred Schmidt-Brabant and Virginia Sease: 'Thinkers, Saints, Heretics: Spiritual Paths of the Middle Ages', lecture 2.

Rudolf Steiner spoke about Alesia, and asked his audience to note how he described it "Caesar was a destroyer of what had existed as the centre of the old Celtic-Druid culture. It was an enormous institution of learning .. tens of thousands of Europeans studied there in the way people of that time pursued science" (1918-04-02-GA181)

See more on wikipedia pages for Vix crater and Museum at Chatillon-sur-Seine, for background see also Alesia and Battle of Alesia


Note that the the above quote triggers the idea of schooling also in the Druidic mysteries.

The site of Carnac shows multiple alignments of menhirs, the largest and most well known are Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan. These consist of 500 to 1000 menhirs ordered on rows of 10-11-13 over a length of about 800-1300m.

It is interesting to contemplate the orientation of the axes of these alignments [east (Kerlescan), west (Menec) and south-west] and "imagine" they could have been used to school the druidic capability of 'reading the shadows' as explained by Rudolf Steiner (see multiple references on this topic page).

The height of the stones varies between 60-80cm and 4m in a certain pattern along the axis of orientation, eg wikipedia quote:

Ménec alignment Eleven converging rows of menhirs stretching for 1.165 by 100 metres. ... The largest stones, around 4 metres high, are at the wider, western end; the stones then become as small as 0,6 metres high along the length of the alignment before growing in height again toward the extreme eastern end.

Though maybe they exist, no studies have been found to date that explore this further.

[4] - Commentary on Rudolf Steiner in 1923-1924 (and 1923-09-09)

For comments, see notes above under Druidic and Trotten mysteries#1923-09-09-GA228 .28key.29

A single PDF file contains the relevant extracts for study purposes(DE): 1923-09-09 from GA227 and GA228

4.1 - Frank Teichmann (2002)

We refer to Frank Teichmann's book 'The Origins of the Anthroposophical Society in the Light of the Ancient Mysteries' (2020 in EN, original 2002 in DE as 'Die Entstehung der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft auf mysteriengeschichtlichem Hintergrund'). In this book, Teichmann provides an analysis of the deeper reasons that could have led Rudolf Steiner to make this drastic change in 1923. He puts forth the discovery and/or hypothesis that the important change in Rudolf Steiner's position and responsibility with regards to the Anthroposophical Society, was triggered by his experiences during the travel to England in August 1923.

The key elements that make this most understandable are based on statements in 1923-09-09. Hence, the importance of what is in the above PDF file becomes clear from reading Teichmann's exposure. Below are extract of a few sentences from excerpts he quotes in the book:

... at certain times the priest could see how the moral qualities of his communities were [living] in the surroundings.


read the words that were in the heart of the druid priest: ... [through] the eye of the spirit, [with] the rotating lotus flower .. sees into the hearts of human beings, sees into the interior of the soul. And through this seeing I wish to be connected to those who are entrusted to me as my congregation.

and he connects this with 1923-10-12-GA229 and an excerpt of the mid-summer Saint-John's imagination (see also Schema FMC00.445)

Uriel's gesture of earnest admonition which brings what I could call historical conscience

and Teichmann points out: 'Uriel's intention .. is precisely to develop our historical conscience; this means making people conscious of what point they are actually at in historical evolution'.

Bottom line: Teichmann's hypothesis/conclusion is that in England, during the August 1923 travels, Rudolf Steiner experienced and found the connection with the Druidic mysteries of Earth, and the above led him to the drastic change and Foundation Stone event at Christmas 1923.

4.2 - Commentary (2022)


The impact of the travel to England in Aug 1923 is indeed clear in the lectures of the period Sep-Oct 1923. One can also observe that the moral dimension shines through in lectures (eg 1923-09-16-GA228 as illustration).

The merit of Teichmann's book is to explore from genuine interest the personal path and perspective of Rudolf Steiner, and what could have led him to the change in 1923.

  • In the decades before 1923, he was leading the anthroposophical movement (by authority, as an scientific researcher), and consciously distanced himself from the leading of the Society and earthly matters.
  • With Christmas 1923, and the re-founding of the anthroposophical society, he connects himself personally to the Society and its members. The importance of this is clear by the new contents he is able to deliver in 1924 with the Karmic Relationship lectures (see Schema FMC00.265). Steiner also points out the effect of karma of the society's members as cause of his health problems, and one can assume this as a cause for his early death and departure.

See also: Mystery School tradition#.5B1.5D - Rudolf Steiner.27s new Mysteries and the Foundation Stone

Additional perspectives

What Teichmann does not do, nor anybody else - to our current knowledge and survey of secondary anthroposophical literature - is:

1/ view this from a holistic perspective of the Northern and Southern streams - see Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams#Southern and Northern streams

Instead Teichmann takes as leitmotiv for his book the Mysteries of Light, Space, Earth from the lecture 1919-12-15-GA194, see section 1.2 under Current Postatlantean epoch#.5B1.5D - About merging of various influence currents in current Postatlantean epoch.

This is the right intuition, but not the full story, as can be understood from the exposure and coverage of the Northern and Southern streams on this site. To appreciate the merger of two streams, and the importance of the Northern Stream in the whole in particular, requires a) study of Norse Germanic mythology and Mystery school tradition b) a number of key lectures and paragraphs where Rudolf Steiner positions the two streams.

Without both a and b, the puzzle can not be laid and the picture does not emerge. Even after a full century, no secondary literature has been found to date that elucidates this picture to bring clarity and insight into the two streams.

2/ consider the Individuality of Rudolf Steiner and connect it to his life story as the Personality of Rudolf Steiner and the crucial last two years.

This is difficult to describe in full in a short paragraph, here follows a first introductory attempt. First, the Individuality of Rudolf Steiner can be followed through a number of incarnations, and this provides a number of observations:

  • The Individuality of Rudolf Steiner is described as a young soul in the context of Gilgamesh and Eabani, with all the typical characteristics (see eg Individuality of Rudolf Steiner#1910-12-28-GA126). Natural clairvoyance, philosophical character. This one can find back in Steiner's affinity with philosophers such as Fichte and Hegel, his own Philosophy of Freedom. But also his impact in his incarnations as Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas. There is clearly a common thread here.
  • the first incarnation that is given is Eabani (in the context of the Gilgamesh epic) during the third cultural age of the Current Postatlantean epoch, around 2500 BC. This however leaves open completely what happened before. What incarnations did this Individuality have before, in say the period of 3 to 4 millenia before, between 5500 and 2500 BC?
  • furthermore, the stream of incarnations of Rudolf Steiner places him in the Southern stream in the third and fourth cultural ages. It remains open what incarnations were missing, and the possibility exists that some incarnations were in the Northern stream.
    • see the 'specific case illustration' on Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams#Southern and Northern streams, about the theological argument debate around 800AD between Alcuin (ca 735-804, a highly regarded English scholar and teacher at the court of Charlemagne) and a Greek philosopher also living in the kingdom of the Franks but with the inherited particular Greek soul constitution (1920-10-17-GA200), where it is stated that "Aristotle is just the first grasp (sounding as a first quiet note from within his Greek cultural origin), of another culture that was long prepared and arose later in the central regions of civilisation". With this the Northern stream is described.

3/ These elements are just to show that a lot remains open, much information is missing, and as a result no conclusions can be drawn. Hypotheses can be put forth, but they remain nothing more than thought scenarios. For example:

  • maybe the Individuality of Rudolf Steiner had, as a young soul, one (or more) earlier incarnation(s) in northern or central Europe in the Northern Stream and the Druidic or Trotten mysteries. Being confronted again with the clear imaginations by the Druid initiates in the English sites may have brought home to him the message of his own place in history.
  • maybe Rudolf Steiner realized that he had to take the step (maybe for the further development and growth of his Individuality), or didn't need it but out of free choice wanted to take this step, to take up the karmic responsibility for Earth matters - to take things forward further, similar to the Druids and what is sketched under section 4.1 above.

One can contemplate over the deeper meaning of remaining a clairvoyant scientist with authority that brings spiritual scientific teachings to mankind, versus taking responsibility for a community of souls out of historical conscience.

4/ Related also is the fact that Rudolf Steiner felt and pointed out clearly the need for the 'new mysteries' in the contemporary fifth cultural age, however this does not imply that this was (within) his mission, or in line with his Individuality and karma.

The latter becomes apparent from the fact that - on the one hand - Steiner points out that the future of mankind has to come through Initiation based on free choice and the consciousness soul, the Parsifal soul attitude. See eg 1920-01-17-GA196 'the science of initiation is the only possibility for the further progress of humanity' which states ".. there is no sense in talking about the continued progress of human evolution through purely natural means. Evolution can take a step forward only when humanity is fructified by initiation science"

But on the other hand his teachings and core contribution are about spiritual science and reincarnation (see oa Thomas Meyer: 'Rudolf Steiner's core mission' (2009)), and Steiner remains within the 'older' rosecrucian tradition with regards to initiation (rituals, mantras, etc - see Rudolf Steiner and initiation). This point becomes all the more clear when one compares and contrasts

  • Steiner's 'plan' or approach with the First Class, Second Class, and the physical center for the new mysteries, ànd Society, in Dornach .. with
  • how a teacher of initiation through the ages, who took on the body of Franz Bardon, approached initiation after the first and second world wars, to develop self-initiation manuals that have proven so successful in the last decades. To do so, Bardon investigated the state of initiation in various secret circles, studied what was available, and worked with his own student groups. These three books 'fit the bill' or the 'design requirements' for our age, whereas Rudolf Steiner's approach for the new mysteries did not have the impact that was most probably in his original intentions at the Foundation stone event.

5/ Many and various pieces of information may fall into place when one considers the scenario above, that may help to understand that 'what happened had to be'. Too many pieces of information to list, but still here are two more:

  • one is the context described under: The life of Rudolf Steiner#2017-10-24 - contribution to anthropper website.
  • combined with the fact that Franz Bardon (1909-1958) is the name used to refers to the Individuality and adept that entered into the body of a fourteen year old boy in 1924, and later dictated three books on initiation that are the most advanced guides for spiritual development in the modern western world.

Now note the remarkable correlation with regards to timing (the pivotal period 1924). As is the change in Rudolf Steiner's attitude, still hoping to continue but then drawing a line with regards to his lifetime contribution. As well as the fact that Rudolf Steiner stated he would write a follow up to Knowledge of the Higher World (as he was aware this was needed) but never did in all those years.

The two last points above also sheds a certain light of perspective on Rudolf Steiner's actions in 1923-1924. The (80+) Karmic Relationship lectures are a pivotal contribution to the foundational body of spiritual science that he brought. However the Foundation Stone and new mysteries founded from Dornach with the Esoteric School have not carried fruit. Instead, a new teacher came to bring that, joining Earth with that mission just as Rudolf Steiner left. Both events can (and are, in the source texts) linked to a council, not dissimilar of the councils of the White Lodge that Rudolf Steiner described.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Charles William Heckethorn: The Secret Societies of all Ages and Countries (1875 in EN, in DE 1900 as 'Geheime Gesellschaften, Geheimbünde und Geheimlehren')
    • contains writings on the subject of the Druids and the Scandinavian Mysteries.
    • A copy of Heckethorn's book in German translation was in Rudolf Steiner's private library, and from marginal notes in Rudolf Steiner's handwriting it appears to have been used by him in connection with the lecture 1904-09-30-GA093
  • Ita Wegman: 'The Mysteries' (1995, compiled and translated by Crispian Villeneuve)
  • Guenther Wachsmuth: 'Mysterien - und Geisteschichte der Menschheit' (1938)
    • Ch. 1: Ireland
    • Ch. 7: Druids, Mithras cult, northern and southern mysteries
  • Frank Teichmann:
    • 'Der Mensch und sein Tempel, Megalithkultur in Irland, England und der Bretagne'
    • 'The Origins of the Anthroposophical Society in the Light of the Ancient Mysteries' (2002 in DE as 'Die Entstehung der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft auf mysteriengeschichtlichem Hintergrund', in EN 2020)
Druid stone painting by Rudolf Steiner
  • Rudolf Steiner: 'Druidenstein' - original pastell 72,5 x 88,5 cm painted on 22, 23 en 24 sep. 1923, GA K.54.18
  • William R. Nedella: 'Zur Druidenstein-Skizze von Rudolf Steiner' (in Anthroposophie : Vierteljahrsschrift zur anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland, nr 12, 1, pages 29-30)
  • Berthold Wulf: 'Der Druidenstein : Zu der Farbskizze von Rudolf Steiner' (in: Anthroposophie : Vierteljahrsschrift zur anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland, nr 16, 3, pages 178-180)

Various more

  • Guido von List (1848-1919)
    • Die Religion der Ariogermanen in ihrer Esoterik und Exoterik (1909)
    • Die Bilderschrift der Ario-Germanen (Ario-Germanische Hieroglyphik) (1910)
    • Der Übergang vom Wuotanismus zum Christentum (1911)
    • Die Ursprache der Ario-Germanen und ihre Mysteriensprache (1914)
  • Thomas Downing Kendrick (1895-1979)
    • The Druids: a study in Keltic prehistory (1927)
      • Anglo-Saxon Art to A.D. 900 (1938)
      • The Archaeology of the Channel Islands, 2 vols. (1928–38)
      • Archaeology in England and Wales, 1914–1931 (1932)
  • Elizabeth Shee Twohig: 'The Megalithic Art of Western Europe (1981)
  • R. Müller: 'Der Himmel über dem Menschen der Steinzeit.: Astronomie Und Mathematik In Den Bauten Der Megalithkulturen' (1989)
  • Aubrey Burl
    • A guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany (1993)
    • From Carnac to Callanish : the prehistoric stone rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany (1995)
  • Heinz Kaminski: 'Sternstrassen der Vorzeit. Von Stonehenge nach Atlantis' (1995)
    • points out there are long vertical and horizontal lines in European geography along which all important megalithic sites are located.
    • However to be assessed whether this is not just 'curve fitting' of selected datapoints, compare for example with the European map of 735 neolithic sites in Pinhasi, Fort and Ammerman (2005) and detailed maps of sites for Britain, France, or Germany (eg the 'Route of Megalithic Culture').
  • Vicki Cummings, Colin Richards: 'Monuments in the Making: Raising the Great Dolmens in Early Neolithic Northern Europe' (2021)

General websites

  • the megalithic portal: www.megalithic.co.uk/
    • worldwide resource of over 50,000 ancient sites and 170,000 images
    • interactive website set up by Andy Burnham in 2001, run by Andy and a team of around a dozen other amateur editors, has input from thousands of contributors from all over the world, including professional photographers and archaeologists.
  • http://www.megaliths.net/
  • another site in DE on sites across Europe: www.indiana-stones.de

Some references per country

There is a huge amount of literature and information to be found on the internet, so please do your own research directly.

Britain - Ireland
  • Norman Lockyer (1836-1920)
    • 'Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered' (1903)
  • T. F. G. Dexter: Cornwall: the Land of the Gods (1932)
  • Rupert Soskin: 'Standing with Stones: A Photographic Journey Through Megalithic Britain and Ireland (2009)
  • Andy Burnham: 'The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland' (2018)
  • Vicki Cummings: Routledge Archaeology of Northern Europe (4 books)
    • The Neolithic of Britain and Ireland
  • Hans Gsänger: 'Die Externsteine' (2nd edition 1968)
  • Walther Matthes: 'Corvey und die Externsteine' (1982)
  • Walther Matthes, Rolf Speckner: 'Das Relief an den Externsteinen' (1997)
  • Elke Treude, Michael Zelle: Externsteine (2012)
  • Rolf Speckner: 'Die Externsteine als Sonnenheiligtum' (2014) - PDF version
  • Siegrun Laurent, Die Externsteine (Teutoburger Wald) (2016)
  • Jacques Briard (1933-2002)
    • The megaliths of Brittany (1991 in EN, original in FR Mégalithes de Bretagne)
    • Carnac, lands of megaliths (oa in EN 2003)
    • La Préhistoire de la Bretagne vue du ciel
    • Les cercles de pierres préhistoriques en Europe
    • Les mégalithes
    • Mégalithes de Saint-Just
    • Carnac, terre des mégalithes
    • Dolmens et menhirs de Bretagne