Folk souls

From Anthroposophy

The term folk soul is the general term used both for:

  • the soul qualities characteristic of and common for a given folk or people (feelings, moods, sympathies, antipathies),

as for

  • the spiritual beings or spirits of the hierarchy of archangels that inspire the soul qualities of the individuals of a given people.


Just as a single member such as the finger belongs to the whole body, so do the single persons within the people belong to the folk-soul .. only the folk soul is not physical but is real only as an etheric form. For external physical observation, single individuals and I's appear as separate beings. Spiritually they appear as though embedded in an etheric cloud, and this is the incorporation of the folk-soul. If the single person thinks, feels, and wills something, he radiates his feelings and thoughts into the common folk-soul. This is colored by his radiations, and the folk-soul becomes permeated by the thoughts and feelings of the single persons. When we look away from the physical man and observe only his etheric and astral bodies, and then observe the astral body of an entire people, we see that the astral body of the entire people receives its color-shadings from the single persons. (1908-09-14-GA106)

This way every nation folk has astral matter in common which is the material in which the spirit of the nation and folk incarnates. From the middle of a cycle onwards gathers karma from its participating members and thus develops the karma of a nation or folk. (1904-10-31-GA089)

Besides the normal archangelic folk spirits influence, there are also retarded luciferic spirits, who compete with the real leading folk-spirits, and are the cause that the nations feud with each other, do not live in peace with each other. They cause the human being to identify with the nation like with a completely personal affair, and thereby this quarrel of the nationalities comes into being on Earth. (1915-05-13-GA159).

The folk soul is to be positioned together with, but below the Group souls of humanity and Human races.


  • see also: Third Hierarchy#Food for archangels
  • nationality, or the strong feelings of identification with a nation, as an influence of retarded (luciferic) archangels (and the not the rightful archangels acting als folk spirits) (1915-05-13-GA159 quote A)
  • connection of Man with the folk soul is different while awake versus while asleep
  • archangel Michael as (guiding spirit of the time) folk soul for the German people (1915-01-19-GA157, see also 1914-11-27-GA064)

Different folks

  • working of the folk spirits (1918-03-30-GA181)
    • Italian peninsula: through the air element
    • France: through the fluidic elements, everything which not only enters the body as fluid, but also works in it as fluid
    • British: through everything earthly, principally through the salt and its combinations in the organism
    • American: through the underground magnetic and electric currents
    • Russian/Slavic: through the light, working in the vibrations of light.
  • different folks (characterization only, without any value judgment) (see 1915-05-13-GA159 quote B)
    • the Italian people inspires the sentient soul. .. on one side the brilliant aspect of the Italian people is based on the fact that the sentient soul is inspired .. but this people also identify themselves with something superhuman that lagged behind luciferically in all the passionate impulses of development which appear within the Italian people.
    • in the French people the folk-spirit is inspiring the intellectual soul.
    • in the British people the folk-spirit is inspiring the consciousness-soul .. that which connects the human being mostly with the external physical world. Hence, this nation which is inspired in the consciousness-soul is entrusted above all with the task of furthering the materialistic civilisation. In so far as the individual human being belongs to his nation, in so far as he is inspired by the luciferic folk-spirit, he identifies himself with the purely materialistic civilisation of the present.


  • in connection with those personalities one calls leaders, the example of Dante is described: "As a rule, a personality like Dante cannot be born of homogeneous blood. To belong to a single nation is impossible for such a soul. It needs a mysterious alchemy; various blood streams must flow together. " (1916-12-17-GA173)


Schema FMC00.459 shows the development of the various people and cultures through the guidance of archangelic folk-spirit and archai time spirits. It how the development of the Northwestern European (in short Northern) stream differed from the Southern stream: whereas the first cultural ages knew a 'regular' development, the situation was different for the European people who were more individualized through the longer continued working of the various archangelic folk spirits. It also shows how the Mystery of Golgotha was pivotal in the fourth cultural age and influenced the spreading of Christianity and the development of the current fifth cultural age.

  • The archangel of ancient Greece, after becoming archai time spirit of the fourth cultural age, renounced the possibility to rise to the hierarchy of Spirits of Form, and became the guiding spirit of exoteric Christianity for future cultural ages.
  • The archangel of the Celtic people, soon after the MoG renounced the possibility of becoming an archai and choose to remain at archangelic stage (and to subordinate  in future to the different time spirits who might arise in Europe) .. and became the guiding spirit of esoteric Christianity.

Related, for the transfer of the Spirits of Form (SoF) to the archai in this transition between the fourth and fifth cultural ages, see Transition between 4th and 14th century (eg Schema FMC00.167)


Lecture coverage and references

Coverage overview

1910-06-GA121 is the main cycle, with original tite: 'The mission of individual folk-souls in connection with Germanic-Nordic Mythology'

Reference extracts


Spirits exist that guide physical evolution from higher planes. Their lowest form of evolution occurs in astral matter.

Every nation, every race, every tribe has astral matter in common which is the material in which the spirit of the nation incarnates. The spirit of a nation is always a bit ahead of the individual members of the nation in its development. From the middle of a cycle onwards it is able to gather karma. We help to create the karma of the nation, the race, and so on. This is known as 'collective karma' it is something very real. The result is that spirits which are one level further ahead will also have karma.

International endeavors belong to an even more comprehensive spirit that embraces all the astral material of the Earth. The physical Earth is also the physical body for this spirit of the Earth, the planetary Logos which, if we rise to it, signifies the karma for the whole of Earthly evolution. International endeavors are the first step towards the great unity we shall have on the arupic plane.


see also: Egypto-Chaldean cultural age#1908-09-14-GA106

Today we see in a people, only a group of persons who can be counted. To the man of today a people is a meaningless abstraction. The reality is simply a certain number of persons filling a certain area. But this is not a people for one who accepts the standpoint of occultism. As a single member such as the finger belongs to the whole body, so do the single persons within the people belong to the folk-soul. They are as it were embedded in it, but the folk-soul is not physical; it is real only as an etheric form. It is an absolute reality; the initiate can commune with this soul. It is even much more real for him than are single individualities among the people, far more so than a single person. For the occultist spiritual experiences are entirely valid, and there the folk-soul is something thoroughly real.

Let us examine briefly the connection between the folk-soul and the individuals.

If we think of the single individuals, the single I's, as little circles, for external physical observation they will be separate beings. But one who observes these single individualities spiritually sees them as though embedded in an etheric cloud, and this is the incorporation of the folk-soul. If the single person thinks, feels, and wills something, he radiates his feelings and thoughts into the common folk-soul. This is colored by his radiations, and the folk-soul becomes permeated by the thoughts and feelings of the single persons. When we look away from the physical man and observe only his etheric and astral bodies, and then observe the astral body of an entire people, we see that the astral body of the entire people receives its color-shadings from the single persons.


The principle of generality, of the generic, is anchored in the etheric body. In the etheric body of the woman there is still present today the counterpart of what exists outwardly as the folk soul, the race spirit. Folk soul and race spirit are identical.


introduction archangels and folk-spirits; angels the link between folk-spirits and man.



Etheric aura of countries. Archangels. Choleric, sanguine and phlegmatic temperaments effective by etheric aura of a people. Variations form national character.

Spirit of Form: normal, abnormal. The abnormal are going through archangel stage. Creation of Speech. Spirit of the age, archai. Galileo, oscillation. Abnormal Spirits of Form remaining on moon, influence man's brain, from within. Two types of men: those influenced by normal spirits of age and those influenced by abnormal Spirit of Form from moon. Spirits of Languages and Thought Spirits. An abnormal Spirit of Form at Stage of Spirit of Personality may also be called an abnormal Spirit of Personality working on Thought. The abnormal archangel is really an abnormal spirit of Form working on speech. Sanskrit was created by a triple agreement between these two abnormal beings and an abnormal archangel; a constellation arose at the right time for this purpose.

North Americans are under an abnormal Spirit of Personality.


This is one of the, or the very best, lecture to live oneself into the concept of an archangel. It is also very clear in describing the I and threefold soul. Therefore it is added in full below.


Normal Folk-spirit, transforming his etheric body into budhi or life-spirit, two degrees above man; but man is spun into the web of this work. The three soul principles, three modifications of the astral body. The Folk-spirit has three modifications of the etheric body.

To conceive of an archangel, one proceeds by pure thought, such as mathematics, no way dependent on an outer world. Archangel does not share in our sentient soul, but shares in our moral ideals in the intellectual soul or soul of higher feelings. Art and religion are influences of the archangel, because there are the operations within of moral ideals. I of archangel is two stages above man. As we are conscious of warmth and cold the archangel is conscious from within of the temperaments of individuals and realises their separate auras as centres of activity or negation. He realises his youth and age in his decline of a people. He is born into a people when it begins to produce blossom; but withdraws intodevachan when his people decline.

Angels transform their astral body into spirit-self or manas, but have not nearly finished doing it. Man is beginning to do this transformation. Angel's I reaches much further than Man's.

A case given where the spirit of the age controls the archangels is where the Dutch separated from the common German stock in order to carry the mission of the spirit of the age overseas. The same occurred when the Portuguese broke from Spain. After the active interference of the spirit of the age, the Dutch and Portuguese each receive their respective archangels normal and abnormal. Spirits of Form, Motion, Wisdom.

Distinction between race and people. Normal Spirit of Form would keep one united humanity, but abnormal Spirit of Motion takes the lower grade of Spirit of Form and divides mankind into races. This belated Spirit of Motion may be called an abnormal Spirit of Motion or an abnormal Spirit of Form.

quote A

We have already said what was necessary to characterize them outwardly: that they are beings who are two stages higher than Man, beings who are working at the transformation of their etheric bodies, who are now at the present time engaged in transforming their etheric bodies into that which is called life-spirit or buddhi. Man is spun into the web of this work. In so far as the evolution of these Beings so progresses that man is woven into this evolution, the reflection of this Folk-spirit is expressed in human individuality itself, as the folk-character of the single human individual.

We must now look a little into the inner nature of such a folk-soul.

If we wish to throw light upon the present inner being of man, we find it necessary to picture it as being threefold, as being divided into:

  • The sentient-soul, which is, as it were, the lowest member of the inner human being,
  • The intellectual-soul, the central member, and
  • The consciousness (or spiritual) soul, the highest member of the inner nature of the human being, in which the human ‘ I ’ is first actually brought to a state of consciousness.

In the spiritual-soul is first to be found that which is called human self-consciousness. Nevertheless the ‘ I ’ of man is active in all three parts of his inner life, in the sentient-soul as well as in the intellectual-soul or mind-soul, and in the spiritual-soul.

In the sentient-soul the ‘ I ’ is active in such a way that man is hardly aware of his ego. In the sentient-soul, therefore, he is thus far given up to all his desires and passions. The ‘ I ’ broods dully in what we call the sentient-soul. It first works itself out and begins to appear in the intellectual-soul or mind-soul, and only becomes quite apparent in the spiritual-soul.

If we wish to examine each of these three members of the human inner being separately, we must look upon them as three modifications, as three parts within the astral body. It certainly is the case, that these modifications, these three members of the astral body, prepare the transformation of the astral body itself, of the etheric body and of the physical body. But these transformations are still not what meets us as the actual human inner being or soul. The soul, the inner part of man; consists of three modifications of the astral body. The three modifications must make use of certain instruments, and these express themselves in such a way, that in the astral body the sentient-soul is a sort of instrument, in the etheric body the intellectual-soul or mind-soul, and in the physical body the spiritual-soul. Thus we can distinguish the human inner being from that which is the human envelope or covering; so that therefore the inner nature of man consists of three modifications of the astral body.

Just as in man the inner part, that in which the ‘ I ’ works and imprints itself, is represented by these three modifications of the astral body, so in those spiritual Beings whom we designate as Folk-spirits their actual inner part, or that which we may compare to the human inner part, is represented by three members, three modifications of the etheric body. Just as in man we distinguish sentient-soul, intellectual-soul, spiritual-soul, so in the Archangelic Beings, the normal folk-spirits we must distinguish three modifications in the etheric body. As, however, these three modifications are not in the astral but in the etheric body they are quite different, essentially different from the three modifications in the soul-life of man. Hence also you must think of the form of consciousness, the whole soul-life of these Folk-spirits as being different from the soul-life of man. From an external description, therefore, we now press on as it were into the inner part of the soul of these Folk-spirits. It will not be quite easy but we must endeavor to cross this rubicon.

[Sense-free thinking - mathematics as example]

It will now be a case of starting out from some conception with which you are acquainted, a conception that bears some likeness to the inner life of the Folk-spirits. A Man has not many such in his normal life, on the contrary, he has in his own consciousness extremely little of that which lives in the consciousness of the Folk-spirits. You may nevertheless form an idea of it if you will patiently follow with me the following considerations. You have all learnt at school that the three angles of a triangle are 180 deg., and you know that you could never learn that by any sort of external experience. I want you just to think of an iron or a wooden triangle; if now you measure with an instrument what the three angles together amount to, this external experience can never inform you that these three angles make 180 deg., but you will at once be informed, whether you draw these three angles or only imagine them, if you experience from within, that the three angles are 180 deg. You must realize it through the power of your own mind, from within. You need only carry out the following in thought. What I am now drawing is only drawn to represent the thought. In this figure you have strict proof that the three angles together make 180 deg.

If you once clearly visualize this figure in your mind, it will in every case bring this certainty; you may carry out the figure in thought, without externally drawing it. You thus perform an operation in pure thought, by the power of your own inner being; you need not go outside yourself. You may imagine for one moment, that there is no such thing as the so-called world of impressions, or what enters into man through the outer senses. Imagine the external world away, and space as being constructed in thought, then in this space the sum-total of the angles of all triangles will give 180 deg. In order to arrive at geometrical, mathematical knowledge it is not necessary for an outer object to approach your senses, it only needs inner experience, that which takes place in the consciousness itself. I have had to make use of this example, for it is the simplest and most practical, because people already know it, having learnt it at school. I might also give you the example of Hegel's logic, you would then also have a number of inner conceptions, but there you would find much with which you are unacquainted, for Hegel's logic is unknown to most people. By this you may therefore see how a man may arrive at knowledge merely from within, without being brought to this by anything external.

If you think of that which externally in the world is only attainable by mathematical construction, then you have some conception of how the consciousness of the archangels works. A world such as appears to external Man, a world of external colors and tones, they do not perceive at all. A being of this kind never has these perceptions, it is never possible for him to touch a thing and thus receive impressions. But what he does experience may be thus expressed in words, ‘Something is now approaching me from a world which inspires me. This world has passed through my consciousness and has filled it.’

Now the Archangels are not Beings who can form mathematical concepts only; it is man who is so imperfect that he is only able by means of abstractions such as the truths of mathematics, to conceive of the activity of the Archangels. These truths appear normal to man, as well as to the Folkspirits. From this you may gather that the external physical world which man's senses bring before him, does not affect the Archangels at all. In that form in which the physical world appears to man, in which he receives impressions of it by means of his senses, it does not exist at all to the Archangels. If, therefore, you eliminate from your picture of the world all that is merely physical sensation, if you take away everything which you have received by means of external perceptions, you have then eliminated just what does not concern the Archangels. We shall therefore inquire,

‘What then still remains for the archangels out of all that can also become human consciousness? What part of it exists for the folk spirits?’

  • Everything you experience in the sentient-soul as ordinary joy or ordinary grief brought about by the external world, all colors, sounds, in fact all sensible perceptions of the outer world, — none of this concerns these Beings at all. Therefore eliminate the whole contents of the human sentient-soul, and tell yourself that all that is in the picture of the world through man's possessing the sentient-soul, is of no importance to the Archangels, they do not work into that.
  • Even one portion of the intellectual-soul is not an element of any significance to the Archangels, in so far as it is stimulated by outer impressions. That too, which is aroused externally, which a man works upon with his intellect and lives through in his feelings, that too, does not concern the Archangels.
  • But in the intellectual-soul of man there are, however, certain things which man experiences in common with the Archangels. We can perceive quite clearly that such things come into the human intellectual-soul or mind-soul when we see how, for instance, what we call our moral ideals come to us. There would be no moral ideals if we were only able to have feelings, to feel joy and sorrow and to think about that which comes to us from the outer world by means of our sense-perceptions; true we might then be able to rejoice over the flowers in the field and also over a beautiful landscape, but our hearts would never be able to glow with enthusiasm for an ideal which cannot shine forth to us out of the external world, which we can inscribe in our soul and then follow with enthusiasm. But we must not only be aglow and feel in the sentient-soul, we must also give thought to the matter. The man who only feels and does not think, may indeed be an enthusiast but never a practical man. We must not absorb ideals into our sentient-soul from outside, but we must let them pour in out of the spiritual world, and work upon them in the intellectual-soul or mind-soul. The artistic, the architectural ideals and so on, are present in the intellectual-soul or mind-soul, and in the spiritual-soul. They are connected with that which a man cannot perceive outwardly, but which glows through and permeates his being inwardly, so that it becomes a part of his life.
    • Observe the life of the peoples from epoch to epoch, how it has run its course, how new conceptions and new world-secrets have from time to time appeared in it. From whence could the Greeks have taken their conceptions of Zeus and Athena if they had only relied upon external perception? All that is contained in the wisdom, in the mythologies, religions, and sciences of the peoples came into them from within.
    • So therefore we must see that one half of our inner life, half of our intellectual-soul or mind-soul and of our spiritual-soul is filled from within, and indeed exactly so far as man permeates himself inwardly with what has just been described. Thus far can the Archangels penetrate into the human inner being, and thus far also does the actual life of the Archangels extend. You must therefore eliminate from the inner life that which is received from outside through the sentient-soul and distinguish it from what is worked upon by the intellectual-soul or mind-soul feelings.
  • Then, however, you still have that which we call our ‘I’. To us the ‘I’ is the highest member of our being; what we carry into our moral consciousness are ideals, moral, aesthetic, ideal thoughts. Just as the outlook of Man is closed as it were inwards, but can, by means of the senses, open itself outwards to the external world, so he can say that he perceives colors, sounds, cold and warmth, but he also has the consciousness that behind these perceptions of colors, sounds, warmth and cold, there is yet something real, and that is, the beings belonging to the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. They are behind it all. So that a man can in the manner described think of the world as continued beyond. On this world beyond, however, the outlook is closed to ordinary people. Were this not the case, there could be no materialism. If a man could have a free outlook over the domain extending upward from the intellectual-soul and spiritual-soul, it would then be quite as foolish to doubt the existence of the spiritual world as it would be foolish to-day to doubt the existence of the animal, plant and mineral worlds.

Now remember how in Man the ‘I’, his highest member, encloses within itself the sentient, the intellectual and consciousness souls.

[epistemology or cognition of archangel]

With the archangels it is the case that their soul-life begins by experiencing in the intellectual soul or mind-soul, and then goes up into the ‘I’, which then spreads itself out in a world of higher realms, in a realm of spiritual facts, in which it lives just as man lives in the realm of the animals, plants and minerals; so that we may say, we must indeed perceive that this Archangelic Being may have in his soul-life that which we call the human ‘I’, yet nevertheless we cannot say that the ‘I’ of the Archangels is of the same nature. The ‘I’ of man is not one and the same as the ‘I’ of the Archangels. The Archangel-’I’ is in fact two stages higher, so that the Archangel is through his ‘I’ rooted in a higher world.

Now just as man by means of his sense-perception looks at colors and hears sounds, so does the archangel look down upon the world which includes the ‘I’ as objective truth, only that around that ‘I’ there is still gathered some of that part of the astral, which we human beings know in ourselves as intellectual-soul soul. Think of these beings as gazing into a world which does not extend to the minerals, plants or animals. Think that instead of this, their vision, which is a spiritual one, is directed to their picture of the world, and that they perceive centers therein. These centers are the human I's, around which again is gathered something that appears as a sort of aura. You have then the picture of how the archangel looks down upon those personalities of the folk belonging to him and which constitute the people.

His world consists of an astral field of perception in which there are certain centers; these centers, these central points, are the several human personalities, the several human I's. Just therefore as to us, colors and sounds, warmth and cold are within our field of perception, and are for us the important world, so to the Archangelic Beings, to the Folk-spirits, we ourselves with a portion of our inner life are the field of perception, and just as we go into the outer world and work at it and transform it into our instruments, so are we the objects in so far as we belong to this or the other Folk-spirit-belonging to the scene of action of the Archangels or Folk-spirits.

Thus we have an insight, strange as it may sound, into a higher theory of cognition, a higher epistemology of the Archangels. This is completely different from the epistemology of Man; what is data for the archangels is quite different. What is data for man is all that is spread out in space and meets us through our senses, as color, sound, warmth, cold, hardness and softness; what is data for the Archangels is what appears within, in the field of human consciousness. That to them is a number of centers around which the inner experiences of men are woven, in so far as these experiences take place in the intellectual-soul or mind-soul; but their activity is relatively a higher one.

What then differentiates the world of the archangels or folk souls?

The world of man is differentiated by the fact that if he takes hold of a thing with his hand, he feels it to be either warm or cold. The archangel experiences something similar when he meets with human individualities. He meets with some men whose souls have more inner activity, the contents of whose souls are richer, — these make a greater impression upon him. Others he finds to be lethargic, indolent, the contents of whose souls are poor, — these beings are to him as the world impression of warmth and cold are to the human soul.

Thus is the Archangel's picture of the world specialized, and he can make use of the several persons and work for them, by weaving out of his own being that which has to guide the whole people.

But there is also another way in which the life of the Archangel is connected with the life of the particular people he is leading. Just as a human being has an ascending and a descending period in his life, an ascending time of youth, and a descending time of old age, so does the archangel experience in the rise and fall of the culture of a people, his youth and his old age.

We must now again look into the inner life of one of these Archangels. You will already have noticed, from what I have related, that what man receives from without, the Archangel receives from within; hence when the individuals belonging to a people appear as centers within him, the Archangel has the feeling that what comes to him thus, does, it is true, arise in his consciousness from within, but it is nevertheless foreign to him. This to him is just like the sudden ideas that flash into our consciousness.

He is also affected in just the opposite way by that which in man is youth and old age. Man experiences his youth in feeling the members of his body to be fresh, he feels that they are improving and developing. In old age these members become relaxed, they refuse to work; that is something which a man feels as happening from within him. Now the Archangel feels, it is true, that everything is happening within him, but the rise and decline of a nation nevertheless seems like something foreign to him, as something about which he has the feeling that it is independent of him, with which therefore he has nothing directly to do, but which gives him the occasion to incarnate in some particular people at a certain time. When the possibility of incorporating himself occurs, when there is a people living in the ascending period of its life, in all its upward-striving power, then the Archangel goes down, just as a man goes down when he has lived out his life between death and a new birth. Thus the Archangel goes down into a people and embodies himself in it. In the same way too, does the Archangel feel his death, the necessity of withdrawing from the people in question, when the several perceptions, the centers which he perceives begin to become less productive, less active, when they begin to have fewer contents. Then comes the time when he forsakes that community of people and enters into his spirit world, into his life between death and a new birth, in order at a later opportunity to seek out in another way a community of people. Thus the youthful upward life of a people signifies the youth of its Folk-spirit, he perceives it as being a fresh, flowing element in which he dwells. The descending period of a people's life he perceives as a withering of the centers in his domain of perception.

That gives a sort of insight into the inner being of one of these Folksouls. If we recall all this to mind, we may say, that in certain respects such a Folk-soul is really rather far removed from an individual human life, for in each one of these, what is in the sentient-soul and in the lower part of the intellectual-soul is a domain into which the Folk-spirit, the Archangel does not reach. For a human being it is, however, something very real. A man feels keenly that it belongs to the most inward, the most intimate part of his own life. In a certain respect the Archangel-nature, the one which guides the people, is something which floats above the separate individual human beings. The personal things which a man experiences because he receives perceptions through his senses, are foreign to the Archangel who is guiding the people.

[angels as intermediaries]

But there are intermediaries, and it is important that we should understand that there are such intermediaries. They are the Beings we call Angels, who are between the Archangels and man. You must take this in the strictest sense of the words: Folk-spirits are Archangels, they are Spirits who have finished the transforming of their astral bodies into Spirit-self or Manas, and are now transforming their etheric body or life-body into Life-spirit. Just halfway between these Beings and man are the Angels. These are Beings who are occupied in remodeling their astral body into Spirit-self or Manas, but have not yet concluded their work. At the present time man is at the beginning of this work, the Angels are nearly at the end of it, but have in no wise finished it. Therefore these Beings come into closer contact with that which makes up the daily life of man. We may say that the Angels incline with their whole soul-nature towards what we call the astral body. For this reason they fully understand all the joy and sorrow the human personality may go through. But because on the other hand they extend much higher than the human ‘I’, because they possess a higher ‘I’, because they can take in part of the higher world, the world of their consciousness extends to that domain in which is to be found the sphere of consciousness of the Archangels. They are therefore really the intermediaries between the Archangels and the several human individuals. They on their part receive the commands of the Folk-spirits and convey them into the several souls, and by means of this agency is brought about what a single individual may do, not only for his own progress, his own evolution, but for his whole people.

In the life of a human being these two streams flow side by side. The one stream is that which brings him onward from one incarnation to the next, which is connected with his own concerns, with what he has above all to do so as to fulfill the duty which is to him the strictest, because most especially his own duty. He may not stand still, because he would then be allowing the germs for growth within him to lie fallow, if he did not trouble about them. That, however, is his own private affair, by attending to which he progresses from incarnation to incarnation. But that which he contributes to his own people, which belongs to the concerns of the people of his own particular nation is brought about through the inspiration of the Angels, who carry the commands of the Archangels to the several human beings.

We can therefore easily picture a people spread over a certain portion of the earth, and over this people the folk-aura, the etheric aura, and in this how the forces of the Folk-spirit work, and modify the etheric body of man according to the three types of force. That which is at work in this folk aura is the Archangel; we must think of him as being a higher Being, one standing two stages higher in evolution than man, floating over the whole people, and giving directions as to what this people as a whole has to fulfill. The Archangel knows what must be done during the upward period, during the fresh youth of the people; he knows what are the achievements to be brought about by the transition of this people from youth to old age, so that his impulses should have the right effect.

These great outlines are fashioned by the Archangel; but here, upon this physical plane, the individual human beings must work, here they must take care that these great aims are realized. Between the individual human beings and the Archangels there are the Angels as intermediary beings, they impel the man to the place to which he must go, so that in the feelings of the people should arise that which corresponds to the great ordinances of the Archangels. You will form a correct picture of it, if you take what I have been describing not merely as an allegory, but as representing as nearly as possible the reality.

Now the whole tissue spun by the Archangels is influenced by those whom we call the abnormal* Archangels, the Spirits of Language, as I yesterday described. We have also described how the abnormal 1 Spirits of Personality, the Archai, work. We may now glance at the field in which the Archangel gives his orders, in which he distributes the missions which are to be carried further by the Angels into the separate individuals. The Archangels can, however, also operate into the domain of the abnormal Spirits of Personality, and it may happen that in the mutual co-operation of the Archangels with the abnormal Spirits of Personality, — because the latter are pursuing quite different objects, — that in certain respects the measures taken by the Archangels are crossed. When this occurs, when these abnormal Spirits of Personality come into collision with the measures taken by the Archangels, we can then perceive that within a single nation groups are formed, having special tasks. The action of the Spirits of Personality is externally visible when, within a certain people, groups are formed having special tasks. This may last for several centuries. For instance, in the very country in which we now have specially to work at Anthroposophy, in Germany, you have seen for centuries this play of the Archangel of the Germans in co-operation with the sometimes opposing separate Spirits of Personality. In the division of the collective German people into the smaller peoples, you have an interplay of the abnormal Spirits of Personality with the Archangel.

Such peoples are not so much centralized, they pay more attention to the cultivation of the individualities. This has in certain respects its good side, because in this way a great variety, many different shades of folk character can find their expression.

You may, however, take the other case, in which not the abnormal Spirit of Personality but the normal Spirit of Personality, who expresses himself in the Spirit of the Age becomes, so to speak, more important for a certain epoch than he otherwise is in the ordinary course of things.

Therefore, when we look at a people, we are looking at the Archangel as its first power. Then the Spirit of the Age comes and gives his orders to the Archangel, the latter passes them on to the Angels, and these convey them to the separate individuals. Now because one only sees, as a rule, what is nearest to one, so in this combined action one sees the actions of the Archangel as being the most important. It may, however, occur that the Spirit of the Age has to give out more weighty, more important orders, that he is, so to speak, compelled to take something away from the Archangel, because he must detach a portion of the people in order that the task of the age, the mission of the Spirit of the Age may be fulfilled. In such a case bodies of people separate themselves from the rest. The Spirit of the Age then visibly gains the upper hand over the influence of the Archangel. A case in point occurred when the Dutch people split away from the foundations which it had in common with the German people. Holland and Germany had originally one Archangel in common, and the separation occurred because the Spirit of the Age severed off a portion at a given time, and then passed on to this portion that which has become the important concern of the modern Spirit of the Age. All you may read in Dutch history — for history is in reality only an external expression, a maya, for what is happening inwardly — is only the reflection of an inner event. Thus in this case we can see the splitting of the Dutch people from the collective German people taking place externally; but the inner kernel is, that the Spirit of the Age required an instrument with which to carry out his overseas mission. The whole mission of the Dutch people was a mission of the Spirit of the Age, and it was split off for the purpose of giving him the possibility of carrying out something important at a certain time in history. What is described by historians is only outer maya, which hides the actual facts more than it reveals them.

There are other cases in which you can meet with what is so striking in this connection, namely, that a portion of a people had to sever itself from the common folk; that is the case with the Portuguese people. You may look in vain for other reasons in their case, you will find that it is here solely a question of a victory of the Spirit of the Age over the Archangel. If you go through the several events you will find that the opportunity was here made use of to form a special people, — there were not many such opportunities. The Spanish people and the Portuguese formed one mother folk. The outer reasons perhaps were, that the rivers were only navigable as far as to the Portuguese frontiers; there were no other external reasons. On the other hand there was the inner reason, that those tasks had to be fulfilled which were the specific tasks of the Portuguese, and which were different from the tasks of the combined Spanish people. There we see the Spirits of the Age for a time developing a more intense activity than they usually display. We see the harmony which had prevailed till then replaced by something else. We see the Spirit of the Age, instead of communicating his orders to the Archangel, taking a direct part in the history of the people, and we see how the other Spirits make use of this opportunity to incorporate themselves. When such a people is split off, then the Spirit of the Age for a time, in the first enthusiasm which has permeated the several persons, discharges the functions of the Archangel so much, that hardly anything else appears of the severance than a hurry and bustle within this people. One sees the hurrying and the urging, the activity which comes from the mission of the Spirit of the Age. Then, however, the possibility arises for a normal and an abnormal Archangel to incorporate themselves in the severed part of the people. Thus we see the growth of the Dutch and the Portuguese peoples who then received their own normal and abnormal Archangels. In that which incorporated itself here, in the difference in the temperament of the people expressed in the several personalities, we see the work of those spiritual Beings whom we have named. We see the work of these spiritual Beings in a very wonderful manner and we then recognize that what takes place outwardly in history is only a result of their activity. Gradually the saying, that the external world is maya or illusion, assumes more definite significance.

What happens in external history is only the outer reflection of the spiritual, of the super-sensible Beings, just as the outer man is only the outer reflection of the inner man. That is why I had to say, and it must be emphasized again and again, that the saying ‘The world is maya’ is of the very greatest importance; but it is not sufficient to emphasize it in an abstract way, rather should one be in a position to carry it out in detail.

Now we have seen that yet other Spirits and Hierarchies are active in what we call the world. We have spoken of the normal and abnormal Archangels. The abnormal Archangels have revealed themselves to us as being actually Spirits of Form or Powers, only they are those who have renounced a certain portion of the attributes of their evolution. We may then ask, How is it with the normal Spirits of Form? We perceive the normal Spirits of Form as being four degrees above man. In our next lecture we shall have a little more to say about them. These normal Spirits of Form are Beings four stages higher than man. The Hierarchies we mentioned yesterday do not end with the Spirits of Form, with whom we concluded the ascending line. Above these there are the Spirits of Motion, the Dynamis, or Mights; higher still there are the Beings we call Kyriotetes, Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom. You will find these different spiritual Beings enumerated in my Occult Science, as well as in my writings about the Akashic Record.

Now you can understand that the law of renunciation, of remaining behind, applies also to the higher Spirits, therefore that the Spirits of Motion may also remain behind with certain attributes, — Spirits of Motion, who are five stages higher than man, — that certain Spirits of Motion have so remained in human evolution, as if they were now only Spirits of Form or Powers. These are, as regards certain attributes, really Spirits of Motion, and in respect of other attributes, regarding which they have made renunciation, they are Spirits of Form; so that we have normal Spirits of Form, four stages higher than man, and other Spirits working on the same ground on which are the Spirits of Form, but who are really Spirits of Motion. That is therefore a domain in which the normal and abnormal Spirits of Form, the backward Spirits of Motion, work together, just as we have found a domain in which the normal and abnormal Archangels work together. Through this co-operation, however, something takes place which closely concerns man; by means of it the shaping of what we call the human races takes place, which we must distinguish from the peoples.

If we consider the matter in this way, we shall not have a confused idea of it, but one that is elastic; we must not confuse all this. A nation is not a race, the concept of a nation has nothing to do with that of a race. A race may divide itself into many different nations, races are different communities from nations. We are certainly right in speaking of a German, a Dutch, a Norwegian nation, but we speak of a Germanic race. Now what acts in the idea of a race? The Beings whom we describe as normal Spirits of Form or Powers act therein in combination with those Beings whom we have learnt to know as the abnormal Spirits of Form, but who in reality are Spirits of Motion having the mission of Spirits of Form. That is why mankind is divided into races. That which makes man the same over the whole globe, which makes each man, irrespective of the race to which he belongs, a member of the whole human kingdom, is brought about by the normal Spirits of Form. But that which plays a part over the whole earth and divides the whole of humanity into races, is brought about by the abnormal Spirits of Form, who have denied themselves so that there should not be one humanity only upon the earth but a variety of people.

Thus we arrive at the subsoil, so to say, at the ground of which the separate individual peoples first arise. In this way we succeed in surveying into the field belonging to the Spirits of Form and as abnormal Spirits of Form to bear one humanity, and that the belated Spirits of Motion enter into the field belonging to the Spirits of Form and as abnormal Spirits of Form divide up all humanity upon the globe into the several races. When we look into what these Spirits actually want, when we study the aims and objects of these normal and abnormal Spirits of Form, we shall understand what they wish to bring about with the human races, and how through these a foundation is created for what arises out of them. If we then study a people itself we shall have understood and comprehended it.


The Folk-spirit of Scandinavia has a special clairvoyant faculty.


[The Nature of European Folk Souls]

Sympathy and antipathy out of place when considering the characteristic nature of folk souls. How the soul relates to other folk souls during sleep. The power of spiritual truths.

Involvement of folk spirits in earth evolution; the individual soul separating itself from this on death. Meaning of death in battle.

Different nature of French and Russian souls because of their folk spirits.

Higher spiritual entities fighting to let a spiritual stream enter into human evolution, with the aid of souls that have gone through death. Earthly alliances and battles as reversal of spiritual battle positions. Anthroposophy as a challenge from the spiritual world. Question as to responsibility for outbreak of war, and need to make efforts to perceive the karma of the folk soul. Contribution to be made to the future through spiritual renewal of intellectual life.


covers 'The Spirits of the Age and the Folk-Spirits'

quote A

Also those spiritual beings we call folk-spirits who lead whole peoples are among the archangels. And in so far as we have the people to which we belong to thank for that which we are, we have to look at that what the nation's being gives us as a gift of the corresponding being of the hierarchy of the archangeloi. It is the inspiration of the archangeloi which comes to us because we are put into a people. Now we only need to think what it means for the human being to be put into a people. In the people's being there flow mental qualities, but also customs; a certain configuration of the being flows into the human being. One cannot imagine at all that somebody would have become that who somebody is in an incarnation because of the gift of the folk-spirit, in reality of the gift of an archangel.

Except that we stand within a people and receive, inspired by an archangel, certain configurations of our whole being, we stand in the development of the whole humankind. There we are exposed to the intuitions into which the spirit of the ages of the hierarchy of the archai leads us. Imagine that we receive something today in our present spiritual culture that goes beyond any national differentiation; what we have because we live from the 19th to the 20th centuries what we would not have had if we had lived during the Roman or Greek times. We have the spirit of the ages to thank for this.

You can strictly make a distinction between the gift of the spirit of the ages and the gift of the folk-spirit. If only this were there which is a regular development of the human being, of the angel, of the archangel or that of the spirit of the ages then we would receive, every individual human being, the gift always from our spirit of the ages and from our corresponding folk-spirit and would develop by means of this gift. The human beings on earth would develop side by side. All members of the different peoples would receive the gift of their folk-spirits in such a way, as if five pictures would hang completely differently from each other in a gallery which would show miscellaneous things, but which would not disturb each other in the slightest.

Thus individual human beings would receive the gift of their folk-spirits on earth side by side. They would not disturb each other if their development had proceeded regularly.

But there are beings who lagged behind. Among the guiding archangeloi are those who began their development properly on the Sun and have become right archangeloi up to the earth evolution, but also those who stopped on the Sun level who are basically only on the level of human beings. These beings are on the same level as the folk-spirits, and, nevertheless, they lagged behind them, have the qualities of invisible supersensible human beings, not those of archangels. They make the same claims to the world like the archangeloi in a certain way, but they have not reached the level of the archangeloi on earth. Hence, they must work with the same forces as on the Sun. The result is that they do not seize the human beings as the archangels do directing them from above, but penetrate them as invisible human beings. They do not lead the human being from above, but go into the human nature. These spirits, who compete with the really leading folk-spirits, cause that the nations feud with each other, do not live in peace with each other.

The human being would not be tempted at all to identify his personality, his humanness with his nation, but he would look at the person as something that feeds him spiritually. However, he would not stand up as a fighter for his nation, not identify his person with it. The human being would not say, I am of this or that nationality, but: nationality is there, and I have to get my spiritual food indirectly via this nationality into which I have been born. But while the archangel stimulates him to think that way, the other comes who is on the level of humankind, actually, and is basically a luciferic spirit, and leads him into his nationality.

The result is that the archangel-like does not come down as a gift to the human being, but that the human being identifies himself with the nation like with a completely personal affair, and thereby this quarrel of the nationalities comes into being on the earth.

That must absolutely be clear to us: because we were not only exposed to the influence of the leading archangel, but also to the influence of the retarded archangel, we identify ourselves with the nationality as we do on earth. That is just the spiritual-scientific feeling that we as human beings are able to rise above the only national to find access to the general humanness. Then we can be national in the most remarkable sense. As well as the one human being may do that or the other may do something different as art, and the former doing his art does not need to be the adversary of the other, one did not need to be the adversary of the other concerning nationality if there were no retarded archangels who cause the identification. One has to presuppose that if one generally speaks about the basis of the human development with reference to the national or other differentiations.


The folk-spirit is basically a complicated being on the whole. He is the regular folk-spirit who floats above us and if we only followed him we would follow in such a way that we take up his gifts because we are in his sphere. But he is impaired perpetually in his effectiveness by his luciferic companion who obsesses us and induces us to identify ourselves as individual human beings with the whole nationality.

quote B

However, the individual human being does this differently. It is very important that one really sees that in the middle of Europe a people has to develop that has another relationship to its folk-spirit as the peoples have in the periphery of Europe. We have to learn this insight. What takes place under the surface of the human consciousness and what depends really on the spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies is extremely important.

The materialistically thinking human being regards it still an insanity if one says that such impulses go out from the spiritual beings like this is one in Central Europe who stimulates the unaware people to such a feeling towards the divine or — because in Central Europe Christ is working — to the Christ Impulse. So that the Central European human being learns to feel Christ in such a way as He speaks to the core of the soul. This came nowhere else into being as in Central Europe.


I want only to mention a really significant fact.

One calls a certain group of European human beings Germanic people or Teutons. And while one speaks in Central Europe of Germanic people (“Germanen”), one includes England, Holland, Norway, Sweden and still others. One expands the concept of the Germanic people. I do not talk out of agitation, but out of that which is given in the language.

The German calls himself “deutsch,” and if he speaks of Germanic people, he encloses a bigger group of human beings.

The English do not speak of themselves as Germanic people, because they call only the Germans Germanic people. The English apply the term Germans only to the Germans, to those who are not like “him.” This is a tremendously significant fact. It is something that is in the deepest sense typical for the kind in which way on the one side and on the other the folk-spirit works; he works in Central Europe to embrace a bigger entity and the folk-spirit of the English people takes care to put away that and only to apply it to the other.

That will be obvious to the human beings gradually in a wonderful way which the language teaches as the outflow of the effective folk spirituality. Now one is little understood if one speaks about the different European peoples as I tried it some years before this war — not caused at all by the war — in the cycle 'The Mission of the Individual Folk-Souls in Connection with the Germanic-Nordic Mythology'. This is understood in such a way, as if I wanted to express any value judgments. But I do not want to express value judgments, but only a characteristic. We can now characterise the West-European peoples expressing exactly what I expressed in this lecture cycle.

We know that the soul of the human being consists of the sentient soul, the intellectual soul or mind-soul and the consciousness-soul, and the I which works in these three soul nuances.

If we look at the Italian nation with its folk-spirit, we find the peculiarity that there the folk-spirit inspires the sentient soul. This is the typical of the Italian people, that the folk-spirit inspires the sentient soul. If now something is possessed by the luciferic folk-spirit, it is also the folk-spirit. Imagine that on one side the brilliant aspect of the Italian people is based on the fact that the sentient soul is inspired. Think of Dante, of all the great Italian artists. But this people also identify themselves, on the other hand, with something superhuman that lagged behind luciferically in all the passionate impulses of development which appear within the Italian people. I do not pronounce any value judgment, but I characterise it only.

We can see everywhere with the French people the folk-spirit inspiring the intellectual soul.

With the British people it is the consciousness-soul. The consciousness-soul is for the present human cycle that which connects the human being mostly with the external physical world. Hence, this nation which is inspired in the consciousness-soul is entrusted above all with the task of furthering the materialistic civilisation. No value judgment is expressed again, but it is characterised only that just the British nation has a vocation to get the consciousness-soul inspired. In so far as the individual human being belongs to his nation, in so far as he is inspired by the luciferic folk-spirit, he identifies himself with the purely materialistic civilisation of the present. We find this really in the British culture. Like the individual human being positions himself in the British nation, this comes out what is just the materialistic spirit of the British nation, this peculiar spirit who waged thirty-four wars of conquest from 1856 up to 1900 and made fifty-seven million people new British subjects, and who pretends to stand up for the liberty of single human groups in our time.

If we consider such a time like ours, we must absolutely be clear to us that just this time teaches people very much to feel like an admonition what one puts up now as the contrast of the single national groups of Europe or of a big part of the earth. The members of thirty-four nationalities — apart from minor tribal differences — are in war with each other. One should regard this as an admonition to refrain really from that which one has called history up to now.

But this approach is used just for the time being still up to nonsense. We find it really driven up to nonsense what the individual nations of Europe reproach each other for everything. One weighs up the single external facts to discover the causes of this dreadful war.

But just this war will teach people that one finds nothing in its external causes, but at most external symptoms of that which exists deeply hidden in the human groups by the guidance of advanced and retarded spiritual beings.

The ordeals of this time force us to appeal to the spiritual subsoil in which the causes of the external events in the world can be found today.


Then again we have those Beings whom we call Archangels. Their mission is to bring about harmony among men on Earth. Hence in a certain sense they are the guides and leaders of the Folks and Nations.


Dante and mixture of folk souls, see also: Descent influencing generations to incarnation#1916-12-17-GA173

I have spoken recently in various places about the connection between the human soul between death and rebirth and what comes into being when man enters a new existence through birth. I pointed out that between death and rebirth Man is linked with the forces which bring people together over many generations. Through the ever-repeated union of different pairs of parents and all that leads to descendants, as well as other aspects of the succession of generations, it comes about that the human being between death and rebirth finds himself within a whole stream which, in the end, leads him to the parents through whom he can incarnate. Just as in physical life one is linked with one's physical body, so between death and rebirth is one linked with the conditions which prepare for birth through a particular pair of parents. One is immersed in the forces which bring one to particular parents, and which brought father and mother to their parents, and so on back through the generations, in all their offshoots and ramifications, and whatever works together here in the most varied ways — in all this one is immersed for centuries!

[see: Descent influencing generations to incarnation]

Consider the imposing number of centuries one would remain within all this in order to pass through a mere thirty generations. The period from Charlemagne to the present day encompasses approximately thirty generations, and over all that time, in all that has taken place in the way of meeting, falling in love and begetting descendants which at last led to our own parents — in all this we have ourselves been involved, all this we have ourselves prepared.

I am repeating this because in connection with those personalities one calls leaders, those who can be recognized as leading personalities in some respects, it is important to understand that what makes them significant for mankind comes about through all that I have just described.


I shall draw your attention now to a leading personality, and the climax of what I have to say about him will be expressed in the words of another. You will see in a moment why this is so.

We see in Dante a most eminent personality who lived at the end of the fourth post-Atlantean period. We may juxtapose such an eminent personality with those personalities who gained a certain eminence after the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean period, such as, for instance, Thomas More. Let us look closely at what may be recognized in general in a personality such as Dante. A personality such as Dante is of far-reaching significance, gives far-reaching impulses. It is therefore interesting to consider, or at least to guess, how such a soul before entering through birth into a physical existence that is to be significant for mankind, puts together — excuse this rather peculiar expression — what he is to become, in order to be born in the right way through the right parents. Obviously these conditions are brought about out of the spiritual world, but they are realized with the help of the physical tools. In a certain sense the spiritual world guides this blood to that blood, and so on.

As a rule, a personality like Dante cannot be born of homogeneous blood.

To belong to a single nation is impossible for such a soul. It needs a mysterious alchemy; various blood streams must flow together. Whatever those over-patriotic people might say who claim great personalities for a single people, there is no great reality behind it!

As regards Dante, so that you do not think I am taking sides I shall now let another, who knows him intimately, describe what is clearly apparent in his being. It would be easy to imagine that I might be carrying on politically, which is actually furthest from my intentions. So for this reason I have made enquiries of Carducci, the great Italian poet of today, who is an expert on Dante. Behind Carducci — and this is why I am quoting him — stand what are called ‘Massonieri’ in Italy, and what is connected with all those secret brotherhoods to whom I have drawn your attention. Because of this, Carducci's theoretical arguments about the actualities of life are, to a certain extent, based on some deeper knowledge. I would not maintain that he has flaunted this deeper knowlege all over the market place or that he is in any way an occultist. But what he says does contain a certain amount of what has come to him via all kinds of secret channels.

Carducci says: Three elements work in Dante, and it is only because these three elements work together that Dante's being was able to become what it was.

  • First, through certain branches of his lineage, there was an ancient Etruscan element. This gave Dante whatever it was that opened the super-sensible worlds to him; because of this he was able to speak so profoundly about the super-sensible worlds.
  • Secondly, there was in him a Roman element which gave him a proper relationship to the life of his time and a basis of certain legal concepts from which to proceed.
  • And thirdly, says Carducci, there was a Germanic element in Dante. From this he gained the boldness and freshness of his views, a certain candour, and the courage of his convictions in what he had set himself.

These three elements, says Carducci, made up the soul life of Dante.

  • The first element points to the ancient Celtic influence which pulses through him like blood in a certain way, leading him back to the third post-Atlantean period; for the Celtic element in the North leads back to what we have come to know as the third post-Atlantean period.
  • After this we find the fourth post-Atlantean period in the Roman,
  • and the fifth in the Germanic element.

Carducci maintains that the elements in Dante's soul are composed of these three periods and their impulses, so that we really have three layers lying side by side — or rather one above the other — the third, fourth and fifth post-Atlantean periods: Celtic, Roman, Germanic. Dante experts of some stature have gone to great pains to discover how, from the spiritual world, Dante managed to mingle his blood in such a way as to obtain the final composition with which he was born. Of course, they did not express this in these words, but they went to great pains and came to believe that much may be put down to the fact that a great many of Dante's ancestors are to be found in the Grisons area of present-day Switzerland. This is borne out to some extent by history. The chain of Dante's predecessors points in every direction of the compass, including this district, where so much mixing of blood streams took place.

We now see how, in a single personality, the remarkable working together of the three layers of European human evolution is revealed. We also see how a man like Carducci, whose judgement is based on a certain objectivity and not on present-day nationalistic madness, points to the foundation on which Dante stands.

Herewith we touch on conditions which are well-known in circles familiar with the realities of life, conditions which may be reckoned with and which may be used as forces if one wants to do certain things. These conditions are by no means unknown to the secret brotherhoods, neither in their rightful use, nor in that other direction which uses secret knowledge in one way or another in the service of some group egoism. For the secret of how the three consecutive layers — which are exceedingly meaningful, mainly for Europe — work together, is discussed most carefully in all secret brotherhoods worthy of the name, though naturally in some cases in a manner which deflects from what might be termed the good direction.

Please be sure not to forget that knowledge about such things exists, and that it is taught — even though, in the external, clever world no one wants to know much about it — very systematically and with great care, especially in the western and American secret brotherhoods.



How the folk soul works into individuals. An individual belongs to a nation as a result of karma. Nationality as something karmic is above logic, nationality as something belonging to the blood is below logic.


[How the Folk spirits work through the system of ganglia (angels fluid, archangels airy)]

Everything we possess only for this life between birth and death is given to us through the earthly, solid element in our organism. On other occasions I have pointed out that there is indeed very little of the solid element in our make-up, of which ninety-five per cent con­sists, in fact, of fluid, of a pillar of fluid. The human being is a pillar of water containing only five per cent of solid ingredients. Yet only this solid element can be the bearer of our ordinary thoughts in physical life; and only in so far as we are permeated by the fluid element with its pulsation can we know about our super-personal part. And this fluid element with its pulsation is linked with the spinal system, which for the most part regulates this fluid element and its pulsation.

How all this is related to certain things I have described on other occasions, to the pulsating rise and fall of fluid between the abdomen and the brain, I shall discuss tomorrow, for at the moment it would take us too far from today's theme. Now, because the human being bears the fluid element within him he is linked with his super-personal part. But this fluid element also establishes his specific personality. If we had only heads, we would all think the same, feel the same. But because we also have hearts, the fluid element, blood and other juices in us, we are specific in some degree; for through this element the hierarchy of the angeloi can have a part in our being. The hierarchy of the angeloi can intervene in us via the fluid element.

A third possibility for intervening in our being is given because even with the normal working together of the higher components with the system of ganglia, it is possible for the airy element and everything connected with it to have an effect on us. This happens in the process of breathing. It is very complicated, and it varies depending on where we breathe, on how much oxygen, how much humidity, how much sun warmth is in the air and so on. It is the hierarchy of the archangeloi, the archangels, who work on us via the airy element.

And everything that works in us from the hierarchy of the archangeloi — both those who have progressed normally and those who are retarded — works via the system of ganglia. Also this is the route by which the folk spirits work, for they belong to the hierarchy of the archangeloi.

The work done by the folk spirits in the human being takes its effect through the organs which are connected with the system of ganglia.

This is why nationality is something so far removed from consciousness, something that works in such a demonic way. And for the reasons I have pointed out it is linked so strongly with everything to do with locality. For the locality, the local climate, is far more closely connected with the working of the hierarchy of the archangeloi than one might imagine. Climate is nothing other than what works on the human being via the air.

So you see that by discussing the system of ganglia one is indicating how the impulses of all that belongs to the folk soul work in man's unconscious. You will now also understand why, more than one might ordinarily think, belonging to a particular nation is connected with certain characteristics which are linked to the system of ganglia. More than one might think, the problem of nationality has to be seen in relation to the problem of sexuality. Belonging to a nation has the same organic foundation — the system of ganglia — as the sexual element. Quite externally you can understand this when you remember that you belong to a nation by birth, that is, your body develops inside that of a mother who belongs to a particular nation. This of itself creates a link. So you see what subterranean soul foundations con­nect the problem of nationality with the problem of sexuality. That is why these two impulses in life manifest in such related ways. If your eyes are open to life you will see a tremendous amount of similarity between the way people behave in an erotic sense and the way they show their connection to their nationality. I am not speak­ing either for or against either of these things, but the facts are as I have described them. Arousal of a nationalistic kind, which works particularly strongly in the unconscious if it is not brought up into ego-consciousness by making it a question of karma as I described the other day, is very similar to sexual arousal. It is no good glossing over these things by making out that the emotional illusions and long­ings of national feeling are noble, while sexual feelings are rather less so. For the facts are as I have described them to you.

From all this you will see that a good amount of agreement can be reached amongst people in matters of the head, for in the head everyone is the same. If we consisted of heads only, we would unders­tand one another famously. It is peculiar to say: If we consisted of heads only. But when life has brought one together with all kinds of people one grows accustomed to speaking in paradoxes such as this.


The constitution of folk souls: the Italian and Russian folk souls

  • Italian – air <-> breathing
  • Russian – light ether <-> soil

.. the various members of these [spiritual] beings should be sought elsewhere than in the case of man. For if a Folk-Soul had the same members as a human being, it would be a human being; but a Folk-Soul is not a human being, it is an entirely different kind of Being.

In the case of Folk-Souls, we must really study the individual Folk-Souls and then we shall have an idea of what they are really like. We cannot generalize, for this would lead us to abstractions. We cannot generalize, and for this reason, we can only speak, as it were, in the form of examples.

Let us, therefore, consider one particular Folk-Soul, the one which now governs, for instance, the Italian nation, in so far as a nation is governed in all its details by a Folk-Soul. Let us consider one particular Folk-Soul and ask: How can we speak of this particular Folk-Soul?

If we were to speak of it in the same way in which we speak of the human being, that he has, for instance, a physical body, we really mean, when speaking of man's physical body, that it contains certain alkaline substances, certain mineral substances, and that 5% of it is solid, whereas the rest is liquid and gaseous. All this constitutes man's physical body.

[Italian folk soul]

When we speak of a Folk-Soul, for instance, of the Italian Folk-Soul, we cannot say that it has a human body, nevertheless it has something which, may be compared with a physical body. But its physical body does not contain alkaline substances, nor any solid parts; the physical body of the Italian Folk-Soul does not even contain any liquid parts (which does not exclude that other Folk-Souls may contain liquid parts); the Italian Folk-Soul has no liquid parts, but it begins with gaseous parts. It has no liquid parts, or other more solid parts, but the body of the Italian Folk-Soul is woven out of air, which is its densest material substance; everything else in it is less compact.

  • Thus, when we say that the human being contains earthly substance, we must say, in the case of the Italian Folk-Soul, that it contains, to begin with, aeriform substances.
  • And where the human being has watery substances, there the Italian Folk-Soul has warmth.
  • The human being breathes aeriform substances in and out — the Italian Folk-Soul light. In the case of the Italian Folk-Soul, light corresponds to the air of human beings.
  • Where man has heat or warmth, there the Italian Folk-Soul has tones, namely, the music of the spheres.

Now you have more or less that which corresponds to the physical body, except that its ingredients are different. Instead of saying, as we do in the case of man: Solid substance, liquid substance, aeriform substance, warmth, we must say, in the case of the Italian Folk-Soul, if we take for granted something analogous to the physical body (for then, it is not in the same meaning of the word, a physical body): Air, Warmth, Light and Tone. — This shows you that when the Italian Folk-Soul really animates the human being to whom it belongs, it chooses the respiration as its channel, because its lowest and densest ingredient is the air. In fact in the Italian nation, the correspondence between the individual human being and the Folk-Soul takes place through the respiration. The Italian Folk-Soul communicates with man through the breath. This [is] an actual and real process. Of course, one breathes through entirely different means, but the influence of the Folk-Soul steals into the breathing process.

In the same way, we might depart from that which corresponds to the etheric body. In that case, we would have to begin with the life-ether and instead of the light-ether it would have that element which has been characterized in my 'Theosophy' as the “burning desires,” and to the tone-ether would correspond that element which has been described in 'Theosophy' as “mobile susceptibility,” etc. You may therefore find the ingredients in my 'Theosophy' but you must know how to apply them. And if you were to continue studying the nature of the correspondence which takes place between the Folk-Soul and the individual human being, if you were to continue by studying this upon the foundation of the things which I have now indicated, you would realise that this is connected with all the qualities which are contained in the character of a nation; We should study these things thoroughly and concretely.

[Russion folk soul]

These things can only be given in the form of examples. Let us now, for instance, say that we wish to study the Russian Folk-Soul. In the lowest member of the Russian Folk-Soul we would find nothing material, in the way in which solid, liquid, gaseous substances, or heat are material, but we would find that

  • the lowest member of the Russian Folk-Soul, which it has in the same way in which the human being has his alkaline, solid substances, is the light ether.
  • And we would also find that the Russian Folk-Soul has the tone or chemical ether in the same way in which the human being has within him liquid substances,
  • and it has the life ether in the same way in which the human being has air;
  • moreover, we would find in that part which corresponds to the physical body of the Russian Folk-Soul the burning desires, which it has in the same way in which the human being has warmth.

We might then ask: How does the Russian Folk-Soul communicate. With individual Russians?

This takes place in such a way, that the light reverberates in a certain way from that which constitutes the earth. The light exercises certain influences upon the earth; it does not only reverberate, I might say, physically, but it reverberates in particular from the vegetation, from that which the soil bears upon it. The light does not influence the individual Russians in a direct way, but the influence of the light first penetrates into the earth; of course, not into the coarse, physical earth, but into the plants, into everything which grows and flourishes upon the earth. And all this reverberates. What thus reverberates, contains the medium through which the Russian Folk-Soul can communicate with the individual Russians. This explains the Russian’s connection with his land, which is far stronger in him than in others, the strong connection of the Russian with his soil, with everything that the earth brings forth. This is contained in the peculiar attitude of the Russian Folk-Soul. The “mobile-susceptibility” — and this is extremely important — is the first etheric ingredient of the Russian Folk-Soul; it-corresponds, to a certain extent, to the light, to what the light is for us human beings.

Thus you may reach a real Being, the true nature of a nation, and you may also reach the point of studying the question: “How does a spirit communicate with another spirit” ... one of the spirits being the Folk-Soul and the other one man. This communication takes place in the sub-consciousness. When the Italian breathes and maintains his life through breathing — in his consciousness he therefore has in mind something quite different, that is to say, he breathes in and out in order to maintain his life — when the Italian breathes, then the Folk-Soul whispers and talks to him in his sub-consciousness. He does not hear it, but his astral body perceives it and lives in these communications which are being exchanged below the threshold of his consciousness between the Folk-Soul and the individual human being.

What the Russian soil rays out, through the fact that the light of the sun-fertilizes it, contains the mystical runes, the whispering runes, through which the Russian Folk-Soul speaks with the individual Russian, while he walks over his land, or feels the life which rays out of the light. But again, do not think that these things should be taken materialistically. A Russian may be living in Switzerland, but the light which the earth throws back is also to be found in Switzerland. If you are Italian, you may hear your Folk-Soul whispering through your breathing; if you are Russian, you will find that even from the Swiss soil comes up what you are able to hear as a Russian. These things must not be taken materialistically. They are not chained to a particular place, although materialistically, and seeing that the human being is, in a certain way, in a materialistic frame of mind, he will obtain more from his-Folk-Soul when he lives in his own country. The Italian air, with its whole climate, naturally facilitates and furthers that manner of speaking which I have just now characterized. The Russian soil facilitates and furthers the other kind — but these things must not be considered materialistically, for a Russian can just as well be a Russian outside Russia, although the Russian soil particularly favours all that pertains to the Russian nature.

You will therefore see that, on the one hand, materialism is borne in mind, but, on the other hand, materialism is something relative and nothing absolute. For the light which is spread over the Russian soil is not only contained in the body of the Russian Folk-Soul, but there is light everywhere. A Russian Folk-Soul has the rank of an Archangel. (You know that I have frequently described this). An Archangel is not chained to a particular place; he is above the limits of space.

These kinds of thoughts, these kinds of concrete ideas, must lie at the foundation of our consideration's, if we wish to speak objectively of the connections between the individual human being and his nation. Consider the fact that modern mankind is far from having even an inkling of the concrete reality which is contained in the name which we give a nation! Nevertheless world-programmes are strewn out to-day, in which one continually toys with the names of nations! To what an extent all that which pullulates in the world is empty talk, may be clearly seen and judged through the fact that a nation is a real Being, and the Being of every nation is, after all, different. What is air for the Italian Folk-Soul, is light for the Russian Folk-Soul, and this, in its turn, calls for an entirely different way of communication between the Folk-Soul and the individual human being. Anthropology is a materialistic, external manner of contemplating things; it will be the task of Anthroposophy to reveal the truth, the real connections and true aspects. Since the human beings are now so far away from truth in their materialism, it is not surprising that people should talk in such an arbitrary and consequently untrue way of things, which today are even raised to the level of world-programmes.


is called 'Folk Souls and the Mystery of Golgotha'

quote A describes the workings of different folk spirits

The different Folk-Spirits, whom in the course of the lectures on the Mission of the different Folk-Souls we have distinguished according to other points of view, work, with regard to what I have just indicated, in different ways upon mankind; and the individual characters of the nations of the Earth are thereby differentiated. The various characters of the different nations depend on their Folk-Spirits.

But if, from a spiritual-scientific point of view, we follow the by-paths along which the separate Folk-Spirits work, the following result becomes apparent.

Man breathes. He thereby stands in constant connection with the surrounding air; he breathes it in then he breathes it out. If, in a particular case, on account of the configuration of the Earth and for reasons of various kinds, the Folk-Soul chooses the by-path of breathing and by means of that, calls forth the special configuration and characterization of the nation in question, we can say that the Folk-Spirit works ‘through the air’ on the people concerned.

In fact this is the case to an especially marked degree among those people who have at any time inhabited the Italian Peninsula. On the Italian Peninsula the air is the medium for the workings of the Folk-Spirit of the people. We may say that the air of Italy is the means, the medium, through which the Folk-Spirit impresses his workings on the people who inhabit the Italian Peninsula, in order to give then the particular configuration through which they are just the Italian nation, and formally worthy old Roman nation and so on. Thus we can investigate apparently material workings in their spiritual foundations, if we follow the methods of Spiritual Science.

Now one may raise the question: How is it with other Folk-Spirits?

If we look around at other regions of the Earth, what methods do the Folk-Spirits adopt in order to bring the particular configuration of the nations to expression? Among the people who have inhabited the France of today or who still inhabit it, the Folk-Spirits work along the by-path of the fluidic elements, through everything which not only enters the body as fluid, but which also works in it as fluid. Thus the Folk-Spirit vibrates and moves in the process by which liquid contracts the organism and works upon it, and thereby determines the character of the people. This is the case among the people who formerly inhabited the France of today as well as those who still do inhabit it.

Now we do not grasp the matter completely if we only look at this relationship of man to his environment from one side. That would indeed give a very one-sided conception. It must here be remembered what I have often said, that “Man is a two-fold being;” his head and the rest of his organism, each work for themselves. In reality the working of which I have just spoken in reference to the Italian and the French peoples, affects only the rest of the organism, and not the head. From the head another activity goes forth. Only through the cooperative working of the activity which proceeds from the head with that which comes from the rest of the organism, does that which then impresses itself upon the Folk-character come fully into force. The activity which proceeds from the head is neutralized, as it were, by that which proceeds from the rest of the organism.

Hence we might say, as regards the Italians, that together with what they breathe in with the air and which regulates the rest of the organism except the head, there works also from the direction of the head, the nervous system of the head in its spiritual differentiation, insofar as man is ‘nerve-man of the head.’ In France this is different.

What lives in the organism as “rhythm” is a particular rhythm for the whole organism and different from that of the head; the head has its own rhythm. While in Italy it is the nervous activity of the head which works in combination with what is acted in man by the air, in France it is the rhythm, the rhythmical movement of the head — the vibrating of the rhythm in the head combined with what is effected by the fluidity in the organism. Thus the Folk-character is built up through the particular combination of what takes place in the head of the individual man with what the Folk-Spirit brings in from the environment.

From this we can see that it is possible to study what is spread out severally over the Earth's organism, if we allow ourselves to observe these things from a spiritually-scientific point of view; for, as a matter of fact, mankind will never understand the characteristic configuration all over the world if such things are not taken into consideration.

Let us enquire further as to the different Folk-characters, the British, for instance. As the Folk-Spirits of the Italian race works through the air, and that of the French through the watery element, so the Folk-Spirit of the British race works through everything earthly, principally through the salt and its combinations in the organism. Solidity is the principal feature; the watery element works in the French national character, in the British it is the solid, the salty element which is active through everything which enters the organism, through air as well as through food. This brings about the peculiar form of the British Folk-Character. But here again something neutralizing works from the head upon what comes from the environment. Just as “rhythm” is in the rest of the organism as well as in the head, so is also digestion, assimilation, and the rest of the organism and in the head as well. As the organism of the head accomplishes its metabolism, this process of the transmutation of substance is combined with the salty element in the organism, and that brings about the British Folk-Character. Thus the earth-element in connection with the metabolism of the head, determines the British Folk-character. We may say that while the Folk-Soul works through the salty element, it is opposed by the characteristic quality of the metabolism of the head. You will be able to study all the separate features of national character if you look at these particular metamorphoses in the modes of activity of the Folk-Souls.

Let us go further into the West. In America things are again different. There a subterranean element is at work. While in the British organism we have to do with the earthy, with the salty, in the American Folk-Character an underground element is active, something that vibrates under the earth; that has there a very special influence on the organism. The Folk-Spirit works on the national character of the American people particularly through the underground magnetic and electric currents. And something from the head strains towards these underground magnetic and electric currents and neutralizes their influence: toward them streams what is actually Human Will. That is the characteristic feature of the American Folk-Character. While of the British national character we must say that it depends essentially on the earthy element, inasmuch as man takes it into his organism and it comes into reciprocal action with the metabolism in the head, so, inasmuch as the Will impresses itself in the case of the American, it works in him together with something which comes from underground, and this determines the American Folk-Character. With this is also connected what I have mentioned in a public lecture (The historical life of mankind and its problems, 14th March 1918). Man can only with his whole free personality stand in relationship with the element above the Earth and down to the Earth. If he is influenced by underground Folk-Soul activities, he is not forming his Folk-Soul in freedom, he is then, as it were “possessed” by the Folk-Soul. I have shown in the public lecture that the Americans may even say the same thing as a Central-European, Herman Grimm, also says; and yet it is not the same thing. While we notice in Herman Grimm how everything is humanly acquired and won, with Woodrow Wilson it is as though he were humanly possessed by it. From that you can see one thing (this is important because at our present time it is necessary to face these things). When today, two or three men say the same thing, it is considered purely from the point of view of ‘content,’ it is looked at in the abstract. But two men may say the same thing in substance, and the remark made by the one may sound exactly the same as the other, yet the one man may have fought out, conquered things in his soul, and the other may utter them as the result of ‘possession.’ The content is often not at all the essential thing. What matters is the degree in which what a man says is his ‘own,’ the acquisition of his own soul, instead of having perhaps acquired it through being possessed. That is the important point. Today people have only a sense for the abstract. We can see in Herman Grimm that what he says has been gone over and over many times in his soul, and we might take sentences from Wilson's works and write over them “Herman Grimm” or vice versa; but that is not the point. Herman Grimm worked something out, Woodrow Wilson says something which comes to him through being possessed by underground beings. These things must be recognised; we need not approach them with emotion and passion, they can be recognised quite objectively.

Let us enquire further, and describing a circle round Germany, look for the moment towards the East. Something characteristic confronts us there when we observe the Easterner who has first gradually to lift himself out of chaos, and will only then rise resplendent in his original form. As the Folk-Spirit works in Italy through the air, in the French people through water, in the English through the earth-element and in the American through an underground element, so does the Folk-Spirit work in the Russian Slavonic element through the light. In actual fact the Folk-Spirit on whom the East depends works in the vibrations of light. When once that which in the future will grow up in the West shall have loosened itself from its embryonic coverings, it will be seen that the method of working of the Folk-Spirit in the European East is quite different from that of the Folk-Souls in the West. For although I must say that the Folk-Spirit works through the light, yet the curious thing is that it does not work directly through the light vibrating on to men, look through the light which is first sunk into the ground and is then reflected back thence. This light which rises again from the ground is that of which the Russian Folk-Spirit makes use, to work upon the Russian. It does not work upon the whole organism, but directly upon the head, on the character of thought, on the manner of forming concepts, sensations, etc. Thus here the method of the Folk-Spirit is exactly the opposite of that in the West, where he works from the rest of the organism and something strikes against him from the head. In the East he works through the light. The light streaming back from the ground is there the medium for the Folk-Spirit, and that works particularly on the head. And the counteraction now comes from the rest of the body, and especially from the organism of the heart. This counteraction now operates as a reversed process towards the head and alters the working which proceeds from there. (It is still in chaos today, still in its embryonic coverings.) It is the rhythm of the breathing which strikes towards the head and counteracts what comes from the Folk-Spirit by way of the light. What comes out in the Near East has presence to a still higher degree when we go further East. It is the special characteristic of the Far East that there the Folk-Spirit works also partly through the light which is taken up and reflected from the Earth and which works upon the head, but works also through that which is no longer light, and is indeed not visible at all: the Harmony of the Spheres, which vibrates through everything and which, to the spiritual humanity of the Asiatic East, is equivalent to a working of the Folk-Spirit, in that Folk-Spirit works directly through the Harmony of the Spheres which, however, is reflected from the Earth and works upon the head. In opposition to this works the rhythm of the breath, and therein lies the secret of the fact, that seekers of the Spirit in the East have always tried to come into connection with the Spirit through a special development of the breathing. If you study Yoga you will see that it requires one to develop the breathing in a special way. This rests on the fact that the individual tries to find a spirituality through the Folk-Spirit; — as a member of the whole of humanity, not as an individual — he seeks it in a manner which really belongs to the character of this nation. Thus the further east we go, the more do we find this. Of course it would be seen in more or less refinement in the activities of this Folk-character, and also in deteriorations in these activities, how sometimes a deviation becomes evident. Individual nations and whole races may be subject to these deviations to a pronounced degree; and that a disharmony, for instance, appears when the activity of the head of accords with that in the rest of the body, and so on. But to enter into these various disharmonies is perhaps not to be specially recommended to-day, as for this or that reason a nation is bound to love certain other nations today, circumstances demand this; and much might be received with the feeling instead of with the understanding and perhaps then be misunderstood. At a later date, perhaps we may be able to speak about Eastern peoples and similar problems.

Now the question can be raised: How do the Central European nations stand?



In what has been gone into today, the great contrast between the Asiatic East and the American West also becomes very clearly apparent.

  • One might say that the light, and even to what lies above the light in the etheric, is the means made use of by the Folk-Soul in the East in order to approach man, even if it be reflected light from the earth;
  • the subterranean element, that which works beneath the earth, is in the West.

This can lead us deeply into the organic soul-life of the whole organism of the earth and its association with mankind. In this there is absolutely no intention to wound any part of the Earth's population or to flatter any other; yet it is true that on the one hand in the East, the evolutionary streams are directed towards the spiritual, in the west downwards towards gravity, chaining man to the Earth. A rising tide — I might say — in the East, and ebbing back, a working into the Earth, in the West. Such is life.



Now because Judaism conceived only of this one God, it could make no image of the Godhead but could only grasp the Divine with the innermost forces of the soul, with the intellect. It is easy to understand that this led to an intensification of human egoism; for man becomes remote from what is around him if he sees the Spiritual only in and through his own person. This has produced a certain folk-egoism in the Jewish world — there is no denying that it is so ..

German folk soul




Russian folk soul

The following pointers were shared by a reader.





When one looks at the flora and fauna of Europe in our epoch one has to differentiate three zones: a western, a central and an eastern zone. The eastern zone coincides with the Slavonic peoples, the central with the Germanic and the western with the Latin peoples.

The materialist believes that human beings have adapted themselves to their circumstances, but this is not so. The different peoples have themselves created their physical conditions.

The Folk Spirit works first on the earth, on the plants and the animals into which he enters.

The Western European territory has been prepared by the Latin peoples, the Central European by the Germanic, the Eastern European by the Slavonic peoples.

Thus human beings first build themselves the house in which they later reside.

Now let us ask: When does man work upon the external configuration of the earth? As with everything else in the earthly world, destiny too is prepared by man for himself, and this is partially the case here.


















covers the connection of Man with the own folk soul during daytime waking consciousness, and with all others during sleep










.. to understand that, we must cast our attention on the special folk characteristics of the Russians, how that is different from the Central and Western Europeans.

The Middle and Western Europeans are indeed, in a certain sense, the continuous and also the newly creative configuration of that culture which proceeded out of the 4th post-Atlantean age, the Greco-Latin cultural age. What lived in this Greco-Latin cultural age is continued in Central and Western Europe, through the fact that in this West and Middle Europe the physical bodies specially develop themselves, also become special instruments for spiritual working, for thinking, feeling and willing. That which thinking, feeling and willing can bring together through the instrument of the physical body, that should come out in a very primary way in West and Middle Europe.

However, the situation is different with the Slavic peoples in Eastern Europe and in particular with the Russians. One can say that the way in which the physical body is mechanized through as is the case in West and Central Europe cannot occur with the Russians in so far as this people remains in its national quality. You cannot understand the Russians with West European science. You can only understand them when you know that an ether body exists. The precise characteristic of the Russian people consists in the fact that the most important activity of life does not enter into the physical body as it occurs in West and Middle Europe, but more into the ether body and therefore does not permeate the physical body so much. In the Russian people the ether body has a much greater significance than it now has for the Western and Central Europeans and especially for the American people.

Hence, within the Russian people, within the folk people, not the ruling classes, a direct strong I as is the case in West and Central Europe can never be developed in the same way. However, the “I” is always veiled over by a certain dreaminess, it almost has something of a dreamy nature in it, because just as the “I” now lives in the 5th post-Atlantean age, so it is conditioned by a special development of the physical body. During this 5th post-Atlantean age, the Russian people are not advanced far enough for the building of the “I” directly as such. That which lives and weaves in the ether body should not imprint itself into the physical body. Hence, one can say that that which is predisposed in the Russian folk, in the main, cannot at the present come to external manifestation.

[example of Blavatsky follows]


They taught the following in these schools:

  • There lives in East Europe today the people who are in the same condition in which the Central and Western Europeans were at the time of the Greco-Latin age; the Slavic people who are now in their infancy are in the East of Europe. They realize that these Slavic peoples must develop out of their infancy in a similar way as did the Central and Western Europeans.
  • And just as the Romans were the wet nurse in spiritual connection in the West and Middle Europe, so must the Anglo-Saxon be the wet nurse for the East European peoples and lead them over to their later spiritual life period.
  • It was also taught that just as the Germanic peoples differentiated themselves into Gothic and other tribes in the course of European history, so to speak, so do the Slavic peoples also differentiate themselves. Therefore they depicted how the present forces point to certain future configurations.

For example, in Russia itself, there were a number of different communities which were gathered together spatial aspect just as once numbers of people were gathered in Central and West Europe, and these people who are gathered together in Russia, so to speak, are artificially held together by a state bond. On the other hand, a folk like the Poles were held together by their religion and in spite of their attempts to become independent, these Poles had to be inserted into the Russian beingness. One had confidence in these schools that the whole of Polishdom has to be shoved in turn into the Russian being and they said that they are of the Dornau there are single Slavic peoples who exist in isolated kingdoms.

And the following was repeated again and again in these schools: Such independent Slavic folk states are forming. However, these will only last until the next great European war which was going to bring everything into disorder.

And they said: The independence of the Slavic States would only last a while and in the future a quite different way of being held together in reference to these East European peoples who are at present in their infancy state, must take place. This was the teaching that was given; it was not just theory but was repeated again and again in these occult schools. Therefore numerous people attempted to configure the external life to influence it in different ways so that the actual facts could form themselves in the sense of what their dogma said.

People do not realize what enormous attempts were made by their occult brothers in the British Isles who had other groups in Western Europe and Italy. They knew what one person must do, what another must do and how to work in life in order to achieve their aims.







































Note 1 - Preparation of the central European culture (I)

see also:

This topic touches on two main related topics: Migrations and Two streams of development, as the Northern and Southern joined here. This is approx. in the same timeframe of 869 (and also: Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams). These aspects are all part of what takes place in the frame of Transition between 4th and 14th century.


The cultures of the fifth and sixth cultural ages of the Current Postatlantean epoch are of great importance (FMC00.438), as the sixth cultural age is to deliver the highlight and developmental goal of that whole epoch, crucial also as the seed for the next great Sixth epoch (see FMC00.169A).

One sentence coins it (1915-02-21-GA159)

In the Central European civilisation are the springs for the whole spiritual culture of the future.

This note will go into how the cradle for "Central European civilisation" arose in the 9th century. Interestingly Rudolf Steiner again mentions, quite specifically, an exact year, 860 AD. See also 869.

In this note the development of the 'setting' or 'cradle for development' Central Europe will be covered. This is linked to the German and Russian folk souls.

Coverage with lecture extracts

Rudolf Steiner often expanded on the challenges of Central Europe, eg between the eastern luciferic and western ahrimanic cultures and influences, see eg Worldview wars#1915-05-15-GA159.

A very clear picture is sketched in 1915-02-21-GA159. As background for this, study the seeding and guidance for the development of cultures through

The picture from 1914-11-09-GA158 is continued and expanded upon in 1915-02-21-GA159. The two lectures need to be studied in full, but a short extract of this second lecture follows below as a starter:


one speaks of such an encirclement .. for the last decades, but if you look at the great connections, it begins much sooner. It sounds peculiar, but one can give the year 860 A. D. .. for such a long time, the process is going on, which finds expression now in a way we can call the most dreadful war of humankind, since it inhabits the earth.

In the deeper interrelation of European history one finds the extremely strange fact that in Central Europe something of spiritual substance was crowded together. If anyone investigates this deeper interrelation, he sees that it was crowded together there for a particular purpose. It concerns not the external determinations of blood or race, but the fact that something like a spiritual substance permeates the world.

Something like a snake-shaped ring contracts in Central Europe coming down from the distant north.

Two currents of the east and west go to the south and meet forming a ring.

From a centre, the Normannic tribes move in the 9th century down who are related by blood to so many things that later exist in Central Europe. But they push their way into the Romance element, which comes from Southern Europe, and flow together with it. In 860, they stand in front of Paris; there the Normans were overpowered by the Roman people. The western France came into being from that. More than the Angles and Saxons could bring to the British islands, the Normans brought back from France to England.

In the east, the Normannic people moved down, they got from the north to the Volga and the Black Sea into the Slavic regions. Later the Tartar current coalesces. The Slavic element overpowers the Normans and gives them the Christian religion in its eastern form. They become Slavic as “Ros” — they are called in Finland that way — nothing has remained except the name Russia. This name is of Germanic origin. The name Rurik has the same origin.

About these relations one has rather doubtful views. In the west of Europe many people speak that the French are appointed to resurrect the old Celtic element in a kind of Renaissance. One has the idea that in Central Europe are mainly Teutons and that in the west the Celtic element predominates. However, it is vice versa, in the French population is much more Teutonic blood, in Central Europe is more Celtic blood, this is true. Thus maya stands against truth. Only the inhabitants of the west are completely overpowered by the Roman element. In the east the Norman and with them the Teutonic elements are overpowered by the foreign race element. Still today there a religion prevails that is foreign to the Russian folk-soul. [editor: see also 1918-10-20-GA185]

Thus the people in Central Europe are encircled as it were. The Romance element reaches to Constantinople, and on the other side the Slavic Normans reach to Constantinople as well. There we have the snake, the ring.

To depict this it's useful to study what is meant with Tatars, Celts, Teutons. These contemporary descriptions are a basis, but are to be put into a spiritual scientific context as described in other lectures.

The same development is once again described a few weeks later:


quote A

But the matters lie still much deeper. If one speaks of encirclement, one must say: what has taken place in the encirclement of the Central European powers in the last time, that is the last stage, the last step of an encirclement of Central Europe, which began long, long ago, in the year 860 A. D. At that time, when those human beings drove from the north of Europe who stood as Normans before Paris, a part of the strength, which should work in Europe, drove in the west of Europe into the Roman current which had flooded the west of Europe from the south. We have a current of human forces which pours forth from Rome via Italy and Sicily over Spain and through present-day France.

The Norman population, which drives down from the north and stands before Paris in 860, was flooded and wrapped up by that which had come as a Roman current of olden times. That what is powerful in this current is due to the fact that the Norman population was wrapped up in it. What has originated, however, as something strange to the Central European culture in the West, is due to the Roman current. This Roman current did not stop in present-day France, but it proved to be powerful enough because of its dogmatically rationalistic kind, its tendency to the materialistic way of thinking to flood not only France but also the Anglo-Saxon countries. This happened when the Normans conquered Britain and brought with them that what they had taken up from the Roman current. Also the Roman element is in the British element which thereby faces the Central European being, actually, without understanding. The Norman element penetrated by the Roman element continued its train via the Greek coasts down to Constantinople. So that we see a current of Norman-Roman culture driving down from the European north to the west, encircling Central Europe like in a snake-form, stretching its tentacles as it were to Constantinople.

We see the other train going down from the north to the east and penetrating the Slavic element. The first Norman trains were called “Ros” by the Finnish population which was widely propagated at that time in present-day Russia. “Ros” is the origin of this name. We see these northern people getting in the Slavic element, getting to Kiev and Constantinople at the same time.

The circle is closed!

  • On one side, the Norman forces drive down from the north to the west, becoming Roman,
  • on the other side, to the east, becoming Slavic,
  • and they meet from the east and from the west in Constantinople.

In Central Europe that is enclosed like in a cultural basin what remained of the original Teutonic element, fertilised by the old Celtic element, which is working then in the most different nuances in the population, as German, as Dutch, as Scandinavian populations.

Thus we recognise how old this encirclement is.

Now in this Central Europe an intimate culture prepares itself, a culture which was never able to run like the culture had to run in the West or the culture in the East, but which had to run quite differently.

If we compare the cultural development in Central Europe with that of the West, so we must say, in the West a culture developed — and this can be seen from the smallest and from the biggest feature of this culture — whose basic character is to be pursued from the British islands over France, Spain, to Sicily, to Italy and to Constantinople. There certain dogmatism developed as a characteristic of the culture, rationalism, a longing for dressing everything one gets in knowledge in plain rationalistic formulae. There developed a desire to see things as reason and sensuousness must see them. There developed the desire to simplify everything.

quote B points out quite clearly the intentions for the 'encirclement', as a petri scale to grow a certain spiritual culture

The Central European being aims at the intimacy of spiritual life most eminently, and this is that what is enclosed by the Midgard Snake in the East and the West. So far we have to go to combine completely in our feeling with that what happens, actually. Then we gain objectivity just from this Central European being to stand in front of the present great events with the really supranational human impulses, and not to judge out of the same impulses which are applied by the East and the West. Then we understand why the Central European population is misunderstood that way, is hated by those who surround them. Of course, we have to look at the mission of Central Europe for the whole humankind with all humility. We are not allowed to be arrogant, but we must also protect the free look for what is to be done in Central Europe.

The Central European population has always gone through the rejuvenating force of its folk-soul. It arrived at the summit in the ideals of Lessing, Schelling, Hegel, and Grimm. However, everything that already lived there lived more in a striving for idealism. Now this must gain more life, more concrete life. The profound ideas of German idealism have to get contents from spirituality, by which they are raised only from mere ideas to living beings of the spiritual world. Then we can familiarise ourselves in this spiritual world. The significance of the Central European task has now to inspire German hearts, and also the consciousness of what is to be defended in all directions, to the sides where the Midgard Snake firmly closes the circle.

It is our task in particular because we are on the ground of spiritual science to look at the present events in such a higher sense. We cannot take the most internal impulse of our spiritual science seriously enough if we do not familiarise ourselves with such an impersonal view of the spiritual-scientific striving if we do not feel how this spiritual-scientific striving is connected in every individual human being with the whole Central European striving as it must be united with the whole substantiality of this Central European striving. We have to realise that something of what we have in mind exists only in the germ, however, that the Central European culture has the vocation to let unfold the germs to blossoms and fruits.

Impulses and counterimpulses

As always, the counterforces are also active to sabotage what should happen. The above quote can be linked to what Rudolf Steiner covers in the Karma of Untruthfullness volumes. See more on: Jacob Boehme#Note .5B1.5D - Historical perspective - waves and counterwaves

Related pages

References and further reading

  • August Pauli: 'Blut und Geist : völkischer Glaube und Christentum' (1931)
  • Hans Erhard Lauer:
    • Die Volksseelen Europas : Grundzüge einer Völkerpsychologie auf geisteswissenschaftlicher Basis (1933)
    • Die Volksseelen Europas : Versuch einer Psychologie der Europäischen Völker auf geisteswissenschaftlicher Grundlage (1965)
  • Rudolf Meyer: 'Vom Genius der Schweiz' (1952)
  • Eleanor C. Merry: The Flaming Door - The Mission of the Celtic Folk-Soul (1936)
  • George Adams Kaufmann: 'Souls of nations : being a help to the study of Rudolf Steiner's lecture-cycle The Mission of Folk-Souls in connection with germanic and scandinavian Mythology' (1937)
  • Stefan Lubienski (1893-1976)
    • with J. Braun, S. von Gleich: 'Polens Seele : Polen das Land der Ueberraschungen ; die polnische Volksseele und ihre geistige Bestimmung ; Streiflichter auf das philosophische Streben der Polen' (1938)
    • ( 'Die Polnische Volksseele und die Anthroposophie' (1989)
  • Hans Mändl: 'Vom Geist des Nordens : studien zur skandinavischen Volksseelenkunde' (1966)
  • 'Europa und sein Genius : Die Volksseelenkunde der Anthroposophie : Ein Beitrag zu einem schöpferischen Frieden' (1984)
    • various authors (oa Rudolf Grosse, ... ), lectures at 'Kongreß der Völkerverständigung' (1983)
  • Athys Floride, Johanna Auer: 'Mensch und Volksgeist - Möglichkeiten des Zusammenwirkens' (1993)