Greek mythology

From Anthroposophy

This provides an overview of Ancient history of myths and legends of the Greek culture and cultural age, and how evolution as we know it in spiritual science is told through these stories.

The Greeks mythology is characterized by various generations of Gods: (1918-01-04-GA180)

  • The oldest generation of Gods was linked with Gaia and Uranus,
  • the next generation with Chronos and Rhea, the Titans, and all that is related to them
  • the third generation of Gods were the successors of the Titans - Zeus and the whole Zeus circle.

Rather than summarizing the stories themselves, the below positions or maps them to the spiritual scientific evolutionary framework.

Aspects

  • the spiritual beings corresponding with earlier states of human consciousness (see stages of clairvoyance) and what that planetary stage of evolution contributed or left in current Man and nature (1918-01-04-GA180)
    • Gaea and Uranus = Intuitional spiritual beings
      • Chronos drove Uranus from world-rulership, Gaea became 'as good as widow', she became the ‘earth’ principle earth that Man carries in himself, called in the language of alchemy in the middle ages: Salt. Man's conscious use of Salt in him maps to atavistic Intuition, currently this fell into the subconscious.
    • Rhea and Chronos = Inspirational gods, also described as Titans
      • the Rhea-Chronos-process: Chronos represented the forces that confronted and overthrew Rhea. Chronos was overthrown, what was left or remained behind from Chronos-Rhea was the Mercury fluid in Man that can take a drop formation. Man's conscious use of Mercury in him maps to atavistic Inspiration.
    • Hera-Zeus = Imagination
      • the alchemists understood with sulphur (not earthly sulphur but) an atavistic imaginative consciousness connected with the use of this active sulphur in Man. Zeus and his circle have withdrawn into the supersensible and avail themselves of the Sulphur processes: hence Zeus can hurl his lightning. If man, like Zeus, could hurl lightning, that is, if he could transform the sulphur through Imagination into reality, if he could inwardly and consciously hurl lightning, then he would use Imagination atavistically. That is what the Greeks wished to say when they said of Zeus that he could hurl lightning.

Myth of Chronos and Gaea

  • Myth of Chronos and Gaea [cosmological perspective of separation of Moon in Lemurian epoch]
    • and Uranos, Rhea, Hera, Zeus - see GA180 reference extract below
    • Pherecydes of Syros lies at the origin of this myth, he was an initiate of the temples of ancient Phoenicia, and this knowledge derives from the Phoenician initiation (1909-08-26-GA113)
    • In the myth the warm globe of Old Saturn was called Gaea and the atmosphere Chronos.
      • On Old Saturn the life-giving forces streamed in, were reflected and taken up again by the mantle, the atmosphere of Old Saturn. In the myth, the life-giving forces of Chronos rayed in continually upon Gaea and were reflected and absorbed. It is Chronos continually swallowing his own children. (1908-02-29-GA102)
      • From the mantle around Old Saturn the SoF radiated inward fructify­inglife-juices, like a continuous fertilizing rain. Old Saturn did not keep these radiations but reflected them back like a mirror. The SoF reflected their own image in the fire-mass of Old Saturn, and the human being there became an image of God. (1908-03-14-GA266/1)
    • the existence of three principles fundamental to the whole of evolution are called Kronos, Zeus and Chthon.
      • Kronos is only another name for the Old Saturn evolution and the totality of spiritual beings belonging to Old Saturn who brought about the separation of the Moon in the Lemurian epoch
      • Zeus the ruler of the Sun spirits and represents the influences from the Sun that come to the Earth
      • Chthon refers to the condition of the earth after the withdrawal of the moon, at which time neither plant nor animal nor human forms were to be found. Chthon becomes Gea - what we call Earth today - because of the gift of Zeus (whereby she came to be covered as with a garment, so Zeus fructified Chthon because the sun came to work upon the earth from without)
    • see - besides the lecture coverage in the section below, also further coverage on:

Prometheus

  • Prometheus [the mission of the fifth epoch and emergence of a new type of free thinking]
    • Epimetheus and Prometheus represent the two activities of human thought, as 'the man of reflection' (kama-manas) and 'the man of forethought' (manas). These two streams run side by side in the fifth epoch and Prometheus Manas-thinking will gradually become more and more widespread. However Prometheus' manas-thinking is still 'chained to the rock', it is limited to mineral or inorganic forces
      • Prometheus is the representative of the entire fifth root-race, in Prometheus and his destiny mean were meant to see the past and the future of the whole of the fifth epoch. Prometheus means ‘thinking in advance’, Man becomes an inventor or a discoverer in so far as he does not merely allow what is already there to work upon him but creates something that was not there before. It is first there in thought and then the thought is converted into reality. Such Prometheus-thinking for the fifth epoch is called 'Manas-thinking'.
      • Epimetheus is Prometheus' brother, and means means ‘thinking afterwards, reflecting’, Man that allows the things of this world to work upon him, and then thinks. Today the man of the fifth root-race still thinks predominantly like this 'kama-manas thinking'.
    • Hercules performed the twelve labours, these tasks symbolise the twelve tasks of initiation.
    • Chiron the centaur, half animal and half man, already suffering from an incurable malady, was sacrificed to rescue Prometheus.

Trojan war

  • Trojan war [the battle between third and fourth cultural age of the fifth epoch, and the new force of thinking]
    • Laocoon represents the third cultural age, as a priest of an ancient priest-kingdom, who was at the same time a king
    • Odysseus represents the fourth cultural age, and is the personification of cunning and the force of thinking which developed within the fourth subrace.

Jason and the argonautes

  • Jason and argonautes
    • the Argonaut saga is an expression of the founding of the Greek Mystery schools (1904-10-14-GA092), the search for the original purity of the astral body is portrayed in the voyage of the Argonauts (1908-09-12-GA106)

Odyssey

  • Odyssey
    • Odysseus was an initiate and the Odyssey itself is the description of his initiation, as it was carried out in Greece at that time. An initiation which was a repetition on the astral and mental planes of experiences from times of the Lemurian epoch right down to the time of the Mysteries themselves. It includes oa the passage between Scylla and Charybdis

Other

  • Legend of Dionysus
  • Hercules saga
  • Tantalus
  • Persephone, Demeter, Rhea, Eros, Hecate, Luna, Astrid, Philia - see also Three mothers

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

General

1918-01-04-GA180

see full lecture extract below

.. the Greeks not only have a number of Gods connected with their own life, but how they have whole generations of Gods.

  • The oldest God-generation was linked with Gaia and Uranus,
  • the next generation with Chronos and Rhea, the Titans, and all that is related to them, and
  • the third generation of Gods, the successors of the Titans — Zeus and the whole Zeus circle.

We shall see how the construction of such God-myths springs from a special type of soul.

Prometheus

1904-05-23-GA093

very good explanation

1904-10-07-GA092

(SWCC)

.. a deep significance underlies the world of saga, that myths are the expression of esoteric truths.

The Prometheus saga is one of the most interesting of these sagas that has a bearing on the evolution during our fifth Postatlantean epoch, but it is not very easy to understand.

At the same time I will show you that we can pass through three stages in the understanding of saga.

  • First, the sagas live in one or other of the peoples and are understood exoterically in their literal meaning.
  • Then disbelief in their literal interpretation begins, and educated people search for their symbolic meaning. Behind these two interpretations are hidden five others, for every saga, has seven interpretations.
  • The third stage is the one in which they can, in a way, be taken literally again. Of course, you have first to come to understand the language in which they are expressed. To-day I want to speak

In a chapter in the second volume of her Secret Doctrine Madame Blavatsky refers to this saga, and what she writes will enable you to see what a profound meaning is hidden in it. Nevertheless, it is not always possible to say the last word in published works. Today we can go a little beyond the explanations given by Blavatsky.

Prometheus belongs to the world of Greek saga. He and his brother Epimetheus are the sons of a Titan, Japetus. The Titans are themselves sons of the ancient Greek god Uranus and his wife Gaia. Uranus means ‘heaven’, and Gaia ‘earth’. And let me draw your attention to the fact that Uranus is to the Greeks the same as Varuna to the Indians. Thus Prometheus is a Titan and one of the sons of Uranus, as is also his brother Epimetheus. Chronos (Time) usurped the throne of his father Uranus and obtained the rulership for himself. For this he was in his turn dethroned by his own sons and, with all the other Titans, cast into the underworld. Only Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus remained loyal to Zeus during these events. They fought side by side with Zeus against the other Titans.

Now Zeus had created the human race. But humanity had become rebellious, hence he wanted to exterminate it. Then Prometheus made himself humanity's representative. He devised a plan to give men the means whereby they could save themselves and be no longer entirely dependent upon the help of Zeus. Thus we are told that Prometheus taught men the use of writing and of the arts, but above all the use of fire. Because of Zeus's anger Prometheus was chained to the Caucasus, and was forced to endure there much suffering over a long period.

Further, we are told that the gods, with Zeus at their head, then caused Hephaestus, the god of the smiths, to make a statue of a woman. This female statue was provided with all those external attributes which adorn human beings of the fifth root-race. This woman was Pandora. She was sent to bring gifts to mankind, first to Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus. Prometheus warned his brother not to accept the gifts, but the latter allowed himself to be persuaded. All these gifts of the gods, except one, were showered upon humanity. They constitute for the most part human miseries and sufferings. Only the gift of hope was withheld in Pandora's box.

Thus Prometheus was chained to the Caucasus and a vulture gnawed continuously at his liver. But he knows something which will ensure his rescue. He knows a secret of which even Zeus is ignorant, a secret which Zeus is trying to discover. But Prometheus does not betray the secret, although Zeus sends to him Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

Now in the course of the story we are told of a remarkable release.

Prometheus can only be freed through the intervention of an initiate. Such a one “was Hercules, who performed the twelve labours. The execution of these twelve labours was the achievement of an initiate, these tasks symbolise the twelve tasks of initiation.

Moreover it is said of Hercules that he had undergone initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries. Nevertheless someone had to be sacrificed, and so Chiron the centaur was sacrificed for Prometheus Chiron was already suffering from an incurable malady. He was half animal and half man. That is how Prometheus was rescued.

This is the exoteric saga of Prometheus. In it lies the whole history of the fifth root-race, and in it real Mystery-truth is hidden. The story was told in Greece as genuine saga; but it was also represented in the Mysteries, so pupils in the Mysteries had a knowledge of the destiny of Prometheus before them. And in Prometheus and his destiny they were meant to see the past and the future of the whole of the fifth epoch.

You will only be able to understand this if you bear in mind one thing.

In the middle of Lemuria there came about for the first time what we call incarnation, incarnation in the sense in which we have human beings today. Mankind was guided by great leaders and teachers whom we call ‘the sons of the fire mist’. To-day the fifth root-race is also guided by great initiates, but our initiate are different from the leaders of mankind at that time. You must now come to understand what this difference was. There is a great difference between the leaders of the two preceding root-races and those of our fifth race. The leaders of those races too were united in a White Lodge. But they did not undergo their earlier evolution on our earth planet, but in another environment. They descended to earth already mature, descended as human beings of higher development, in order to instruct men who were still in their infancy, in order to teach them the first arts which they needed. This period of instruction lasted through the third, fourth, and right into the fifth root-race.

This fifth root-race originated in a little band of men who were singled out from the previous root-race. They were led into the Desert of Gobi and later dispersed over the earth. Their first leader, the leader who gave the impulse for this evolution of mankind, was one of those whom we call the Manus, he was the Manu of the fifth root-race. This Manu is still one of those leaders of the humanity who descended at the time of the third root-race, one of the leaders who had not gone through their evolution only on the earth but who brought maturity to earth with them.

It was not until the fifth root-race that the development of men such as we are ourselves began, the development of men who, like us, have undergone their evolution on the earth alone, men who have evolved from their lowest stages entirely on the earth.

Thus we have some human beings who are already exalted Leaders and Masters, and others who strive to become such Leaders. Within the fifth root-race, therefore, we have Chelas and Masters who have passed through all that our earth has passed through. One of the Masters who has the guidance of the fifth root-race is destined to undertake the guidance of the sixth. The sixth root-race will be the first to be guided by an earthly Brother as its Manu. The earlier Masters surrender the leadership to mankind.

With the dawn of our fifth root-race we have the beginning of all that we call the development of the arts, the development of skill and dexterity. The Atlanteans still led quite a different life. They had no inventions and discoveries. They worked in an entirely different way. Their technique and their skill were quite different. It was only with our fifth root-race that what we call engineering and craftsmanship in our sense developed. The most important discovery was that of fire. You must be quite clear about this, you must be quite clear how much of our widespread engineering, industry and craftsmanship depends upon fire. I think that the engineer will agree with me when I say that without fire nothing of modern engineering would be possible, so that we may say that the discovery of fire was the fundamental discovery, the discovery that gave the impulse to all others. And you must also understand that at the time when the Prometheus saga arose, the term ‘fire’ comprised everything in any way connected with warmth. Fire was also understood to be the cause of lightning. Fire was the comprehensive expression for the causes of all phenomena of warmth.

The consciousness that humanity of the fifth root-race stands under the sign of fire is what is primarily expressed in the Prometheus saga.

Prometheus is none other than the representative of the entire fifth root-race. His brother is Epimetheus. Prometheus means ‘thinking in advance’, Epimetheus means ‘thinking afterwards, reflecting’. There you have the two activities of human thought, clearly contrasted in the man of reflection and the man of forethought.

  • The Epimetheus reflecting man is the man who allows the things of this world to work upon him, and then thinks; such thought is the Kama-Manas thinking. Today the man of the fifth root-race still thinks predominantly like this.
  • However in so far as he does not merely allow what is already there to work upon him, but becomes an inventor or a discoverer, to that extent he is a Prometheus. Inventions could never be made if all men were like Epimetheus. An invention occurs when a human being creates something that was not there before. It is first there in thought and then the thought is converted into reality. That is Prometheus-thinking, and in the fifth root-race is Manas-thinking.

Kama-Manas and Manas run like two streams side by side in the fifth root-race. The Manas-thinking will gradually become more and more widespread.

This Manas-thinking of the fifth root-race has yet another peculiar characteristic, which we understand if we look back to the Atlantean epoch. Then there was more of an instinctive thinking which was still bound up with the life-force. The Atlantean root-race was still able to make motor-power from the force in seeds. Just as today we have in our railway coal-yards a kind of reservoir of power for the movement of engines and freight, in the same way the Atlanteans had stores of plant-seed containing power, which they were still able to convert into power to drive those air-ships which are described in Scott Elliott's book on Atlantis. The spirit of the Atlantean man was still able to subjugate living nature; the spirit of the fifth root-race can only control lifeless nature, the latent forces that lie in stone, in minerals. Thus the Manas of the fifth root-race is chained to the mineral forces, as the Atlantean race was bound up with the life forces. All Promethean force is chained to the rock, to the earth. Hence, too, Peter is the rock upon which the Christ built. It is the same as the rock of the Caucasus. The man of the fifth race has to seek his evolution on the physical plane. He is chained to the inorganic forces.

Try to acquire an idea of what we mean when we speak of this engineering, this technology, of the fifth root-race. What is its purpose? Viewing the matter generally, you will see that when intelligence, the power of Manas is applied to the inorganic, to the mineral world, the results of all these powers of invention and discovery, however prodigious, are by and large in the service of human egotism, of men's personal interests. Starting from the earliest inventions and going on right up to the telephone, one of our latest inventions, you will see what mighty forces have been made serviceable to us. But what ends do they serve, what is it that we transport by rail and steamer from foreign lands? Foodstuffs. We order food by telephone. It is really human karma that begins with these inventions and discoveries in the fifth root-race. This is what an objective study of the matter must make clear to us. Then we shall understand that the higher man, that higher man who has been plunged into matter, is in fact, during the fifth root-race, chained to it. Therefore it is in matter that his karma will reach its fulfilment.

If you enter into esoteric realms, you will find that man's principles have a specific relationship with his organs. Today I will mention only that our seven principles have a specific relationship with the organs of the human body.

  • First we have what we call the physical. This has an esoteric connection with the upper part of the face, with the root of the nose. When the physical structure of man took its start (man was formerly purely astral, and then built himself into the physical), it began with this part; the physical structure began at the root of the nose and built itself up from that point, so that the esotericist recognises the root of the nose as belonging to what is essentially physical-mineral.
  • The second principle is Prana, the etheric body; with this we associate the liver. The liver has a specific esoteric connection with the etheric body.

Then comes Nama, the astral body. This has developed its activity in the structure of the digestive organs, represented by the stomach. If the astral body did not have the specific stamp in man which in fact it has, then the human digestive organs, including the stomach, would not have the specific form which they have to-day. If you study firstly the physical basis of the human being, secondly his etheric body, and thirdly his astral body, you have what in the fifth root-race is fettered to the mineral element.

Through his higher bodies man wrests himself from his fetters again, and mounts up to something higher. Kama-Manas works its way up again, in Kama-Manas man frees himself again from the pure nature-basis. Therefore there is an occult connection between Kama-Manas and the organ through which man is severed from his nature-basis. There is an occult connection between the lower Manas and the umbilical cord. If there were no Kama-Manas in man, then the embryo would not be severed from the mother in this manner.

If we pass on to the higher Manas, we find that it has a similar occult connection with the human heart and with the blood.

Buddhi (Life-Spirit) has an occult connection with the larynx, and Atma (Spirit-Man) with what fills out the entire man, with the Akasha contained in man.

These are the seven occult, relationships. In considering them we have to stress the importance for our fifth root-race of the relationships with the etheric and the astral bodies. And if you bear in mind what I said earlier of the control by the Atlanteans over Prana (the life-force permeating the etheric body) you will see that in one way the Atlantean stood at a still lower stage. His etheric body still had the original relationship with the external ethers and because of this he controlled the Prana of the outer world. Because man has risen to one stage higher, his work has become one stage lower. That is a law. If there is an ascent on the one hand, there must be a descent on the other. Whereas formerly man worked on Kama from Prana, now he has to work with Kama on the physical plane.

You will see how profoundly the Prometheus saga symbolises these occult connections. A vulture gnaws at Prometheus's liver. The vulture symbolises Kama, which really destroys the forces of the fifth race. The vulture gnaws at the human liver, the basis of life; so does this force of the fifth root-race gnaw at the essential life-forces of man, because man is chained to mineral nature, to Peter, to the rock, the Caucasus.

During the fifth root-race only human initiates are able to bring release to fettered man. Hercules, a human initiate, has to go all the way to the Caucasus in order to set Prometheus free. It is thus that the initiates will wrest men from their bondage.

The human being who still has a connection with the animal nature — the centaur Chiron — must make a sacrifice. The man of earlier times must be sacrificed. The sacrifice of the centaur is as important for the development of the fifth root-race as man's release by initiates.

It is said that in the Greek Mysteries the future was foretold to men. This does not mean that people were given a vague abstract account of what was to happen in the future, but they were given indications as to the paths that are to lead over into the future. The great Mystery-drama of Prometheus is an expression of what is to evolve as human capacity.

By the three generations of gods — Uranus, Chronos and Zeus — we have to understand three Beings who were leaders of men one after another. Uranus means heaven, Gaia the earth. If we go back beyond the middle of the third race, the Lemurian, we find no men as we now know them, but one man, who is called in the secret doctrine Adam Cadmon8 — the man who is still without sex, who does not yet belong to the earth, who has not yet evolved the organs for earthly sight, who still belongs to the Uranus-nature, to heaven. By the marriage of Uranus with Gaia there arose the man who descended into matter, and thereby stepped into Time. Chronos (Time) becomes the ruler of the second generation of gods from the middle of Lemuria right up to the beginning of Atlantis. The Greeks symbolised these leading Beings as, first of all Uranus, later Chronos, and after that they went over to Zeus. But Zeus is still one of the leaders who did not undergo their training on earth, he is still one of the immortals, as in fact were all the Greek gods.

During the fifth root-race mortal man is expected to stand on his own feet. This humanity of the fifth root-race is represented by Prometheus. The fifth race was the first to acquire human skill and the primeval art of fire-making. Zeus is jealous of this race, the race in which men come to have their own initiates, initiates who in the sixth race will take the lead into their own hands. But humanity has to pay the price for this. Hence its primordial initiate must first of all take upon himself the sum of all suffering. Prometheus is the archetype of the initiate of the fifth root-race, one initiated not only into wisdom but into deed. He runs through the whole gamut of suffering, and is released by the man who makes himself mature enough to free humanity little by little and to lift it above the mineral realm.

The saga thus expresses great cosmic truths. That is why I said at the outset that anyone who reaches the third interpretation may take it literally once more. Every saga undergoes change. It is derived from primordial times and transforms itself at a certain point There is a point in every saga at which it is to be taken literally again. In the Prometheus saga you have the vulture gnawing at the liver. That can be taken quite literally. The vulture gnaws at the liver of the fifth root-race. This Promethean struggle with suffering is repeated in the fifth root-race in every single man. What is here expressed in the saga is to be taken quite literally. Without this struggle the destiny of the fifth race would be quite different.

Thus sagas can be interpreted in three ways. First there is the exoteric meaning, secondly the allegoric — the human struggle — thirdly, the occult significance, where again a literal interpretation enters in. From this you will see that so far as these sagas can be interpreted in this way, they originate in the Mystery Schools, and are no less than the record of what has been revealed in those schools as the great destiny of man. Just as I was able to show you that Odin represents what took place in the Druid Mysteries, so in Prometheus we have what the pupil of the Greek Mysteries experienced to give him energy for life in the future9.

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At first, man lived in the bosom of the Godhead. Then he descended to the physical plane. Had he remained above, he would never have achieved his present consciousness of self. He would never have received an ego. Only in the physical body could he kindle the consciousness of self in its bright clarity. He had to encounter external objects and become able to distinguish himself from the objects; he had to descend into the physical world. Only for the sake of man's ego did it happen that man descended. In respect to his ego man stems from the gods. This I descended out of the spiritual world; it was forged on the physical body so that it might become bright and clear. It is precisely the hardened matter of the human body that has given man his self-conscious I, that has made it possible for him to attain knowledge. But it also chained him to the earth-mass, to the rock-mass.

Before he achieved his I, man had physical body, etheric body, and astral body. As the I gradually evolved in these three bodies, it transformed them. We must be quite clear that all man's higher members work on the physical body. The physical body is as it is because the etheric, astral, and I work on it. In a certain way all the organs of the physical body are as they are because the higher members have also been altered. Through the domination of the astral body, the backward beings became the different animal forms — the birds, for example. Through the fact that the ego became ever more conscious of itself, it also altered the astral body. We have already said that men separated themselves into groups. What we call the apocalyptic beasts are types, in which this or that higher member has the upper hand. The ego gained predominance in the man-form. All the organs are adapted to man's higher members. When the ego entered into the astral body and wholly permeated it, certain organs took form in man and in the animals that branched off later. Thus, for example, a particular organ may stem from the fact that an ego made its entry upon the earth. On the moon, no ego was connected with the beings in human evolution. Certain organs are connected with this development: the gall and the liver. The gall is the physical expression of the astral body. It is not bound up with the ego, but the ego works on the astral body, and from this the forces work on the gall.

Now let us draw together the entire picture that the initiate made so clear to the Egyptian. The self-conscious man has been shackled to the earth-body. Imagine the man fettered to the earth-rock, fettered to the physical body — and in the course of evolution something arises that gnaws at his immortality. Think of the functions that have called forth the liver. They have arisen through the fact that the body was chained to the rocks of earth. The astral body gnaws at it.

This is the picture that was given to the pupil in Egypt and made its way into Greece as the saga of Prometheus. We must not lay rough hands upon such a myth. We must not rob the butterfly of the dust on its wings. We must leave the dust on its wings. We must leave the dew on the blossoms instead of twisting and torturing such pictures. We should not say that Prometheus means this or that. We should try to present the real occult facts, and then try to understand the pictures that have arisen out of the occult facts and have passed over into the consciousness of man.

The Egyptian initiate led his pupil up to the point where he could grasp Man's I-development. Such a picture was intended to shape his spirit. But the pupil was not to seize the facts with heavy hands. The picture was to stand bright and livingly before him, and the initiate did not wish to press dry banal concepts into the truths he could give. He wanted to present truth in pictures. Poetry has done much for the Prometheus saga, beautifying and ornamenting it. We should add nothing to the esoteric facts, but leave this delicate embellishment to the artist.

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Jason and the Argonautes

1904-10-14-GA092

The Argonauts legend shows the transition from the third to the fourth Postatlantean cultural ages. The loss of encompassing wisdom and its division into the mysteriosophy (fur of ram) which is founded by the initiates Jason, Orpheus, Theseus, Heracles, and into intellectual science.

[context of Luciferic beings and their influence]

Thus the influence of these Beings, who are still active, will come to an end only when our whole intellectual activity, everything which we are capable of knowing, is again permeated with love. When intelligence and love are once more united in the higher wisdom, the influence of those Beings, who are not visible on the physical plane, will disappear. To make clear their influence, in the first place to the pupils of the Mysteries, and then to mankind, was the task of the Greek Mysteries

About the eighth century B.C., a very important epoch sets in as regards these beings. If you think of the cultural ages of our fifth epoch — of the ancient Veda culture, then of the ancient Persian culture, of the Chaldean-Egyptian culture, if you think even of the time of the Druid culture, you will find that an objective, dispassionate science of knowledge did not exist.

It first emerged at the dawn of the fourth cultural age, which one can place in about the eighth century B.C. With it there dawned an objective knowledge, completely detached from all the rest of the contents of the human mind. A Chaldean priest who cultivated astronomy still sought to fathom the purposes of the rulership of the world; and this can also be said of the Egyptian and Druid priests; they sought to acquire insight into the purposes of the world-ruler.

A purely intellectual knowledge first dawned in Greece. This intellectual knowledge had been prepared step by step, and emerged, bound up with the rest of human activity, under the influence of the beings I have mentioned; it was fully released in the fourth culture-epoch of the fifth epoch. Those who were initiated in the Mysteries of that time, confronted by the external wisdom, looked upon the ancient wisdom, which had formerly been at the disposal of mankind, as something lost, something which men must seek to regain.

Now there was a particular way of describing the point of time in which this dispassionate, dry wisdom separated itself from the all-embracing primeval wisdom. In the eighth century B.C., the passage of the sun through the sign of the Ram, which then took place, was experienced as the repetition of an earlier passage through the same sign thousands of years previously. It is well known that the sun moves forward through the whole of the zodiac, through the Ram, the Bull, the Twins, through Cancer, the Lion, the Virgin and so on, so that it has already passed through the Ram many times. The last time it had passed through the Ram, man was in possession of a knowledge united with love, and thereby of the primeval wisdom. This primeval wisdom had now been lost, and had given place to a culture of external wisdom. The priests of the Greek Mysteries expressed this whole process in its esoteric significance through the profound symbol of the Argonaut saga, in which the ram is the symbol of the union of love and knowledge.

Let us first call to mind the whole of the myth.

We are told that Phrixos and Helle had to suffer many things at the hand of their bad stepmother. Therefore their dead mother appeared to Phrixos and advised him to run away and to take his sister with him. She gave him a large ram with a golden fleece, upon the back of which they were to cross the sea. Helle fell off and was drowned in the Hellespont, but Phrixos reached Colchis with the ram. There he is said to have sacrificed it and to have given its fleece to King Petus, who hung it on an oak in front of a cavern. Later, the Greek hero Jason, together with the most important of the Greek initiates of the time, Orpheus, Theseus, Hercules and others, set to work to recover the fleece from the alien people of Colchis. Through winning the hand of the king's youngest daughter, Medea, he was enabled to bring it back to Greece. First he had to overcome two fire-breathing bulls. Then he had to sow a dragon's teeth. From the dragon's teeth grew armed men, who began to fight. With Medea's help he was able to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion. It was she too who enabled him to capture the fleece and to set out, together with it and her, on the homeward journey to Greece. In order to deceive her father Medea had taken her brother with her, had slain him and had thrown his dismembered body into the sea. While the lamenting father was collecting his son's limbs she was able to continue her flight with Jason into Greece.

In the eighth and ninth centuries B.C., the pupils of the Greek Mysteries were taught the esoteric meaning of this saga. They were taught that the beings who made use of the dry, dispassionate human intelligence had now attained a special importance. The longing awoke in them for the ancient culture which had obtained when the sun had passed through the sign of the Ram on the occasion before the last. That the twins Phrixos and Helle were carried by the ram to Colchis means simply that an earlier race — the Persian-Iranian, with its twofold nature (it stood under the sign of the gods Ormuzd and Ahriman) — had regained the union of knowledge and love. This race had borne the fleece to hidden realms. Still earlier, in the Atlantean epoch, this fleece, this wisdom, had been the common possession of human culture; then it had been carried into distant Mystery schools. It had to be brought back again. Thus the Argonaut saga is an expression of the founding of the Greek Mystery schools.

Thus we are told that a primeval wisdom existed among the people of Atlantis. It was then the common possession of humanity. It had been lost and was now only to be found in the caves and crypts of the pupils of the Mysteries. But the Greeks established the Mysteries anew; by bringing the primeval wisdom back again to Greece, Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules and others became the founders of this Greek Mystery-wisdom.

A dispassionate, cold intelligence, which is objective, is introduced by Thales, Anaximenes, Socrates and other philosophers. The Mystery-wisdom is united with love. It is a wisdom which cannot be attained without purification of the passions, the forces of Kama.2 The other kind of knowledge can be obtained without purification of Kama.

Thus the very important Argonaut saga puts before us the transition from the third to the fourth culture-epoch of our present root-race. Human culture, which formerly was one stream, now separates into two — into mystery-wisdom and external knowledge. The one stream was hidden — it was the recovery of the golden fleece but it was nevertheless effective. It had an influence on Greek art and culture. Only on external knowledge was it henceforth to have no influence. This is the saga of the voyage of the Argonauts.

The Odyssey too is concerned with the transition from one race to another. The Odyssey has been given the most varied explanations To-day I only want to indicate the bare framework of the saga. In my book Christianity as Mystical Fact I tried to make use of its second stage of interpretation; to-day we will look at the third.

Odysseus, who took part in the siege of Troy, by his cunning and his cleverness, helped the Greeks to conquer Troy. He made lone voyages, voyages in which he went astray — voyages on the water, be it noted. He came to the land of the Cyclops and overcame their one-eyed leader; then he went further, to Circe, who, we are told, turned his companions into swine. Then he descended into the underworld, and made the acquaintance of the dead heroes of Troy. Then he came under the influence of the sirens, who lead men astray by their magic songs. We are further told that most of his companions succumbed to the temptation, but that Odysseus caused himself to be bound to his ship, and thus saved himself; we are told how he then came to a place between Scylla and Charybdis where his ships were in danger of being wrecked. To save himself he had to pass through a whirlpool. Then he comes to the island of Calypso, sojourns there seven years and is enabled to leave by the intervention of Zeus, who orders Calypso to let him go, and at last he reaches his home country.

He is led by the goddess Pallas Athene into his house and to his wife, who has had to withstand many dangers because of the suitors who beset her. So she unravels by night the weaving she accomplishes by day, because she has promised her hand to one of her suitors when the work is finished.

Now let us go through this outline of the Odyssey as it is known to us from Greek occult wisdom. The schools of initiation, in which was actually enacted what I have just recounted, led the pupils on to the astral and the mental planes3 in such a way as to enable them to survey a stretch of human evolution, to survey the period from the middle of Lemuria to the time when in Greece, in the school of initiation which had been founded by Jason together with Orpheus, Theseus, Hercules and others, man was again able to find the primeval wisdom. Thus the pupil was led on to the astral and the mental planes and was shown the events which humanity had to pass through between the middle of Lemuria and the point of time when the Trojan war took place. The Argonaut saga is a picture of the primeval wisdom. It shows us that it existed at that time side by side with external knowledge.

1908-09-12-GA106

We must still point to something else. Man, when he arrived on earth, was not yet endowed with the I. Before the I was secreted into the astral body, other forces had possession of this body. Then the light-flowing astral body was permeated by the I. Before the I entered therein, the astral forces of divine-spiritual beings had been sent into Man from outside. The astral body was also present, but illuminated by divine-spiritual beings. The astral body was pure and bright, and it flowed around what was present as the rudiments of the physical and etheric bodies. It flowed around and through these, and was quite pure. But egoism entered with the advent of the I, and the astral body was darkened and lost its golden flow. This was lost more and more, until man had descended to the lowest point of the physical plane in the Greco-Latin time.

Then men had to consider how they could win back the pure flow of the astral body, and there arose in the Eleusinian mysteries what was known as the search for the original purity of the astral body.

One aim of the Eleusinian mysteries, and also of the Egyptians, was to recapture the astral body in its pristine golden flow.

The quest for the Golden Fleece [editor: or original pure astral body] was one of the probations of the Egyptian initiations, and this has been preserved for us in the wonderful saga of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts.

We have seen the development. When the form of the lower organs still resembled the boats of which we have spoken, the astral body in the water-earth still had a golden sheen. In the water-earth, man's astral body was permeated with golden light. The search for the astral body is portrayed in the voyage of the Argonauts. In a refined and subtle way we must bring the quest for the Golden Fleece into connection with the Egyptian myth.

External historical facts are linked with spiritual facts. One should not believe that this is mere symbol.

The voyage of the Argonauts actually took place, just as the Trojan War actually took place. Outer events are the physiognomy for inner events; all these are historical events. For the Greek neophyte the historical fact took place anew inwardly: the journey after the Golden Fleece, the achieving of the pure astral body.

Odyssey (and Ilijad)

1904-10-14-GA092

The Odyssey (Ulysses) legend shows astral pictures of the evolution from pre-Lemurian up to post-Lemurian times.

The Odyssey too is concerned with the transition from one race to another. The Odyssey has been given the most varied explanations Today I only want to indicate the bare framework of the saga. In my book 'Christianity as Mystical Fact' I tried to make use of its second stage of interpretation; today we will look at the third.

Odysseus, who took part in the siege of Troy, by his cunning and his cleverness, helped the Greeks to conquer Troy. He made lone voyages, voyages in which he went astray — voyages on the water, be it noted. He came to the land of the Cyclops and overcame their one-eyed leader; then he went further, to Circe, who, we are told, turned his companions into swine. Then he descended into the underworld, and made the acquaintance of the dead heroes of Troy. Then he came under the influence of the sirens, who lead men astray by their magic songs. We are further told that most of his companions succumbed to the temptation, but that Odysseus caused himself to be bound to his ship, and thus saved himself; we are told how he then came to a place between Scylla and Charybdis where his ships were in danger of being wrecked. To save himself he had to pass through a whirlpool. Then he comes to the island of Calypso, sojourns there seven years and is enabled to leave by the intervention of Zeus, who orders Calypso to let him go, and at last he reaches his home country.

He is led by the goddess Pallas Athene into his house and to his wife, who has had to withstand many dangers because of the suitors who beset her. So she unravels by night the weaving she accomplishes by day, because she has promised her hand to one of her suitors when the work is finished.

Now let us go through this outline of the Odyssey as it is known to us from Greek occult wisdom. The schools of initiation, in which was actually enacted what I have just recounted, led the pupils on to the astral and the mental planes in such a way as to enable them to survey a stretch of human evolution, to survey the period from the middle of Lemuria to the time when in Greece, in the school of initiation which had been founded by Jason together with Orpheus, Theseus, Hercules and others, man was again able to find the primeval wisdom. Thus the pupil was led on to the astral and the mental planes and was shown the events which humanity had to pass through between the middle of Lemuria and the point of time when the Trojan war took place. The Argonaut saga is a picture of the primeval wisdom. It shows us that it existed at that time side by side with external knowledge.

What was it that was shown to the pupils of the Mysteries in the Odyssey? Odysseus himself is its expression.

  • Let us turn back for a moment to the middle of the Lemurian time. Man was then in a state of transition from the hermaphroditic to the condition of sexuality, in a state of transition from the condition of being able to see without an external physical sense-organ to that of seeing with the physical eye. Up to the middle of Lemuria every man had one eye, which was then replaced by two external physical eyes. It was into this phase of evolution that the pupil of the early Greek Mysteries was transplanted. He had to experience the transition from the first half of Lemuria into the second half of Lemuria, into the time after the middle of Lemuria up to the emergence of the second eye. The Cyclopes were the men of the early Lemurian time. Odysseus came to know these men upon the astral plane.
  • After this time, human astral bodies were plunged into matter which was becoming denser, more solid. We then come — so were the initiates instructed — to the first periods of Atlantis. The Atlantean acquires more and more the capacity to make use of the forces of life, to apply these forces for his own ends. They were fully developed astral forces which the Atlantean possessed, and it was only on the astral plane that a Greek could be transported into them. This was the time, so often spoken of in occult writings, when the Atlantean races lapsed into the wildest arts of black magic. This epoch was brought before the pupils of the Greek Mysteries in these shifting scenes. This was the age when human passions became so distorted under the influence of the forces of black magic that their astral bodies resembled those of the lowest animals. This was the picture which the Turanians presented when they lapsed into these wild magic arts. The astral body was so changed under the influence of these black arts that it could only be expressed symbolically as the changing of the comrades of Odysseus into swine. This was the moment of human evolution which the Greek initiates of that time experienced.

Then Odysseus descended into the underworld. In the world of Greek mythology this always signified an initiation. Whenever it is said of a hero that he descended into the underworld, the narrator wants to express the fact that the hero concerned has been initiated, made acquainted with things that lie beyond death. Odysseus was an initiate and the Odyssey itself is the description of his initiation.

  • Now we go on to a point when, after the Atlantean flood, men became acquainted with the first operations of those Beings of whom I have spoken, acquainted with the effects of external culture, science and art, with forces which influenced intellectual life after the flood. The first periods of purely external physical culture were brought before the initiates as the temptations of purely worldly arts, worldly culture. These are the siren songs of the young fifth root-race. It was of these siren songs of the young fifth root-race that so much is said in occult writings. For on the one hand we have the great wisdom teaching of Manu4 who, in the sub-race which was the originator of the fifth root-race, draws men's attention to the fact that their intellect has to lift itself up to the divine. This found its expression in the Vedas, and in what the Persian Zarathustra left to his co-religionists. But then we have the pure culture of the intelligence, which diverts men from what was developing in them under the influence of Manu. In all occult writings you find described the events which then took place. Manu chose a small band and went with them into the Desert of Gobi or Sebamo. There it was only a handful that remained true to him, whilst the others were unfaithful and dispersed in all directions. This important event was shown to the candidates for initiation — that is to say, they were shown how the Manu had chosen some of the Ur-Semites, but that of those chosen only a small number followed him, whereas the others ran into destruction through following the siren-song of external culture.
  • Then a still more important moment of human evolution was represented by the passage between Scylla and Charybdis. What is it which now really begins in mankind? The essential Kama-Manas culture now first begins. It had gradually been prepared up to this point; it is only now that it really begins. Our fifth epoch and root-race possesses preeminently this Kama-Manas culture. - Kama is in the astral, and even today is still active in the astral body. - But Manas is what is active in the physical brain. The man of the fifth root-race thinks with the physical brain. It is only in a future phase of evolution that Kama, the astral body, will be so advanced that it will be able to think. Today Manas has taken hold of the physical brain. We have to pass between the hindrances on either side: Scylla-Manas and Charybdis-Kama. The passage of Odysseus is a picture of this. There is - on the one hand the astral whirlpool of the instincts, appetites and passions into which man can fall; - on the other hand there is the physical intellect chained to the rock. The rock occurs also in the Prometheus saga, where we meet the rock again. The human intellect is exposed to all the dangers of the physical, of the rock.
  • Man sails between the physical intelligence and the whirlpool of the astral life. If he has accomplished that successfully, if he has recognized the dangers of the passage, and has nevertheless kept his footing, then he comes to Calypso, to the hidden wisdom. Then he can take a look into the future of humanity, then he can undergo the testing time, which lasts seven years. That is why Odysseus remains with the nymph Calypso seven years. Every man who seeks initiation goes through a seven-year testing period, and this is represented by the sojourn with Calypso. Only then can he reach the point to which the soul aspires.

Read Homer's Odyssey! He means that man is in search of his own soul. He who really wishes to understand the Odyssey cannot accept the view of a modern investigator who asserts that Polyphemus and the Cyclopes only mean that Etna had erupted and that the scene of the conflagration seemed to Odysseus like the eye of a giant.

  • At last Odysseus returns home as a beggar, without any external property. This means that the man who had recognized the unimportance of the external world and of worldly goods, seeks his soul's home not in Maya, but behind Maya, thus in a mystical sense he returns home as a beggar. That he is truly wise is shown by his being led into his house by Pallas Athene. In all esotericism the soul is represented as feminine, it is always the feminine nature that is chosen as the symbol for the striving of the individual soul. Goethe calls it the ‘Eternal Feminine’. In Medea in the Argonaut saga, in Penelope, we have to understand the real soul, to which Odysseus seeks the way again. The Virgin Mary too, in the Christian religion, is the striving human soul, only there the significance is infinitely deeper. Strictly speaking, Penelope is the human soul in the fifth root-race. The fifth root-race has to cultivate human intelligence. Human intelligence is utterly unfruitful when it is only turned upon itself. When it has something that one can call a content, then the intelligence can be applied to it. Intelligence is a network which is spun around things we have from some other place. When external experience teaches you something, you can weave around it with your intelligence. When the higher occult wisdom teaches you something, you can also weave around it. Men say that occult wisdom contradicts reason. Nothing contradicts reason! When something new dawns on their horizon men have always said that it is contrary to reason. But the intellect is only there for purposes of combining. Out of itself it can win nothing. This barrenness of the intellect, which is nevertheless the real soul of the fifth root-race, is expressed in the perpetual weaving and unraveling of Penelope's cloth. Odysseus is led by wisdom. The initiate must find the way to the soul of the fifth root-race, but he will only unite himself with this soul in the right way if he is guided by Pallas Athene. Pallas Athene too is a feminine deity, another soul-force, wisdom, the real guide. But man has to reach intelligence through many by-paths, in so far as they are paths of development — for there were many by-paths in the Lemurian epoch. And in this journey Pallas Athene must be his guide. This was brought before the pupils of the Mysteries in Greece and this is what Homer wanted to express in his profound saga.

What is described in the Odyssey is initiation as it was carried out in Greece at that time — an initiation which was a repetition on the astral and mental planes of experiences from Lemurian times right down to the time of the Mysteries themselves. Odysseus is the clever man, the cunning man, and Troy was overthrown through his ability. The clever, intellectual man is the man of the fifth root-race. But to be able to find his way rightly in the fifth root-race, he must again on his devious path seek his home country, his Penelope. The man who is merely cunning and clever would never find the right way. He must first come out of himself, broaden his view, by looking back on the long journey of the human race. Odysseus is the representative of the cunning Kama-Manas man, who has to wander through many byways, in order to be led back again to the soul of the fifth root-race.

1907-04-06-GA99

The post-Atlantean development. Characterisation of the transition from the third to the fourth post-Atlantean epoch by the example of the battles for Troy, a site of ancient priestly wisdom. The sevenfold development of Rome, which was led back to Troy and outlined by its founders in the Sibylline Books. Seven kings = seven human principles. The republican Rome – the human wisdom that replaces the priestly one.

Odysseus as a representative of the individual human wisdom or cleverness.

1910-10-05-GA69

Day experiences change into abilities during sleep. Hence, Homer let Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, unravel what she had knit at day, so that she did not fall in love with any of her suitors who courted her.

1910-05-12-GA059

If we wish to trace the beginnings of art, as it first appears among men in the guise of poetry, then according to ordinary ideas we have to go back very far indeed. Here we will go back only as far as the extant documents can take us. We will go back to a figure often regarded as legendary — to Homer, the originator of Greek poetry, whose work has come down to us in the two great epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Whoever was the author — or authors, for we will not go into that question today — of these two poems, the remarkable thing is that both poems begin on a quite impersonal note:

Sing, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles ...

With those words the Iliad, the first Homeric poem, begins and

Sing, O Muse, of much-travelled man ...

are the opening words of the second Homeric poem, the Odyssey.

The author thus wishes to indicate that he is indebted to a higher power for his verses, and we need only a little understanding of Homer to realise that for him this higher power was not a symbol but a real, objective being. If this invocation to the Muse means nothing to modern readers, this is because they no longer have the experiences from which a poem as impersonal as Homer's could derive. And if we are to understand this impersonal element in early Western poetry, we must ask: What preceded it? Whence did it arise?

In speaking of human evolution, we have often emphasised that in the course of millennia the powers of the human soul have changed. In the far-distant past, beyond the reach of external history but open to spiritual-scientific investigation, human souls were endowed with a primitive dreamy clairvoyance. In times before men were so deeply embedded in material existence as they came to be later on, they perceived the spiritual world as a reality all around them. We have pointed out also that the ancient clairvoyance was different from the trained, conscious clairvoyance that can be attained today, for this is bound up with the existence of a firm centre in the life of the soul, whereby a man takes hold of himself as an I. This I-feeling, as we now have it after its gradual development through long ages, was not present in the far-distant past. But for this very reason, because man lacked this inner centre, his spiritual senses were open and with his dreamy, I-less clairvoyance he looked into the spiritual world from which his true inner being had emerged in the primal past. Powerful pictures, like dream-pictures, of the forces behind our physical existence came before his soul. In this spiritual world he saw his gods, he saw the actions and events that were played out among them.

And present-day research is quite wrong in supposing that the sagas of the gods, found in various forms in different countries, were the product merely of popular fantasy. If it is thought that in the remote past the human soul functioned just as it does today, except that it was more prone to imagine things, including the imaginary gods of the sagas that is sheer fantasy and it is those who believe it who are imagining things. For people in that remote past, the events described in their mythologies were realities.

Myths, sagas, even fairy-tales and legends, were born from a primeval faculty in the human soul. This is connected with the fact that man had not yet acquired the firm central point in his soul which now enables him to live within himself and in possession of himself. In the far past he could not shut himself up in his ego, within the narrow boundaries of his soul, separated from his environment, as he came to do later on. He lived in his environment, feeling that he belonged to it, whereas a modern man feels that he stands apart from it. And just as man today can feel in his bodily organism the inflow and outflow of the physical strength he needs to sustain his life, so primeval man, with his clairvoyant consciousness, was aware of spiritual forces flowing in and out of him, so that he lived in inward reciprocity with the forces of the great world; and he could say:

“When something takes place in my soul, when I think, feel or will, I am not a separate being. I am open to forces from the beings who come before my inward sight. By sending their forces into me, they stimulate me to think and feel and will. “

That was the experience of man when he was still embedded in the spiritual world. He felt that spiritual powers were active in his thinking, and that when he accomplished anything, divine-spiritual powers had poured into him their willing and their purpose. In those primeval times, man felt himself to be a vessel through which spiritual powers expressed themselves.

Here we are looking back to a period far away in the past, but this period extended, through all sorts of intermediate stages, right up to the time of Homer. It is not difficult to discern how Homer was giving continued expression to the primeval consciousness of mankind: we need only look at some features of the Iliad.

Homer describes a great armed struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans, but how does he do this? What did the struggle signify for the Greeks of that time?

Although Homer may not start out from this aspect, there was more in this struggle than the antagonism generated by the passions, desires and ideas which stem from the human ego. Was it merely the personal and tribal emotions of Trojans and Greeks that clashed in this fighting? No! The legend which provides a connecting link between primeval and Homeric consciousness tells how three goddesses, Hera, Pallas Athene and Aphrodite, competed at a festival for the prize of beauty, and how a human connoisseur of beauty, Paris, son of the king of Troy, was appointed to judge the contest. Paris gave the prize to Aphrodite, who had promised him the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife. The woman was Helen, wife of king Menelaus of Sparta. In order to gain possession of Helen, Paris had to abduct her by force. In revenge for this outrage, the Greeks armed themselves for war against the Trojans, whose country lay on the far side of the Aegean sea, and it was there that the struggle was fought out.

Why did human passions flare up in this way, and why did all the events described by Homer's Muse take place? Were they merely physical events in the human world? No. Through the consciousness of the Greeks we see depicted the antagonism of the goddesses behind the strife of men. A Greek of that time could have said: “I cannot find in the physical world the causes which have brought human beings into violent conflict. I must look up to a higher realm, where the gods and their powers are set against one another.” The divine powers, as they were seen at the time in the images which we have just described, were actively involved in human conflicts. Thus we see the first great work of poetic art, Homer's Iliad, growing out of the primeval consciousness of mankind. In Homer we find presented in metrical form, from the standpoint of a later consciousness, an echo of the clairvoyant vision which came naturally to primeval humanity. And it is precisely in this Homeric period that we must look for the first time when clairvoyant consciousness came to an end for the Greek people, and only an echo of it remained.

A primeval man would have said: “I can see my gods battling in the spiritual world, which lies open to my clairvoyant consciousness.” In Homeric times this was no longer possible, but a living memory of it endured. And just as primeval man had felt inspired by the divine worlds wherein he had his being, so the author of the Homeric epics felt the same divine forces holding sway in his soul. Hence he could say: “The Muse that inspires me inwardly is speaking.” Thus the Homeric poems are directly connected with primeval myths, if these are rightly understood. From this point of view, we can see arising in Homer's poetic imagination something like a substitute for the old clairvoyance. The ruling cosmic powers withdrew direct clairvoyant vision from man, and gave him, instead, something that could live similarly in the soul and could endow it with formative power. Poetic imagination is compensation for the loss of ancient clairvoyance.

Now let us recall something else. In the lecture on Conscience we saw that the withdrawal of the old clairvoyance occurred in quite different ways and at different times in various countries. In the East the old clairvoyance persisted up to a relatively late date. Over towards the West, among the peoples of Europe, clairvoyant faculties were less widely present. In the latter peoples, a strong ego-feeling came to the fore while other soul-powers and faculties were still relatively undeveloped. This ego-feeling emerged in the most varied ways in different parts of Europe — differently between North and West, and notably different in the South. In pre-Christian times it developed most intensively in Sicily and Italy. While in the East men remained for a long time without an ego-feeling, in these regions of Europe there were people in whom the ego-feeling was particularly strong because they had lost the old clairvoyance. In the proportion that the spiritual world withdraws externally from man does his inward ego-feeling light up.

Hence there was bound to be a great difference at certain times between the souls of the Asiatic peoples and the souls living in the parts of Europe we are concerned with here. Over there in Asia we see how the cosmic mysteries still rise before the soul in great dream-pictures, and how man can witness the deeds of the gods as they unroll externally before his spiritual eye. And in that, which such a man can relate, we can discern something like a primeval account of the spiritual facts underlying the world. When the old clairvoyance was succeeded in Asia by the substitute for it, imagination, this gave rise especially to visionary symbols in picture form.

Among the Western peoples, in Italy and Sicily, a different faculty, arising from a firmly-grounded ego, produced a kind of excess of strength, an enthusiasm that broke forth from the soul, unaccompanied by any direct spiritual vision but inspired by a longing to reach up to things unseen. Here, therefore, we find no recounting of the deeds of the gods, for these were no longer evident. But when with ardent devotion, expressed in speech and song, the soul aspired to the heights it could only long for, primitive prayer and chant were born, addressed to powers which could not now be seen after the waning of old clairvoyant consciousness.

In Greece, the intermediate country, the two worlds meet. There we find men who are stimulated from both sides. Pictorial vision comes from the East; from the West comes the enthusiasm which inspires devotional hymns to the unseen divine-spiritual powers. This intermingling of the two streams in Greek culture made possible a continuation from Homeric poetry, which we can locate in the 8th or 9th century BC, to the works of Aeschylus, three or four hundred years later.

1914-10-10-GA287

is on Homer and the figures of Agamemnon and Odysseus

1922-04-28-GA300

Characters of Sophocles, Aeschylus, like Prometheus, live in the astral plane. That is also true of Homer’s characters, like the figure of Odysseus.

Hercules saga

1905-10-28-GA093a

Natura - Persephone

1918-12-29-GA187

[Context initiation of Brunetto Latini]... That is why it does not take place like in the ancient mysteries under the guidance of a human initiator (hierophant) but by a spiritual being. Natura guides him (she was the former Greek goddess Persephone, whom the Romans called Proserpina) through the regions of the senses, the four temperaments, the four elements, planets and after having passed the Pillars of Hercules to the ocean of a universal spirituality. On the Pillars of Hercules or Jakim (Jachin, Joachim) and Boaz - see also Golden legend

Persephone, Demeter, Rhea, Eros, Hecate, Luna, Astrid, Philia

see also: Three mothers

re WSS & Occult Atom on forces

1911-08-18/19-GA129
1917-11-02-GA273
1917-12-30-GA180
1924-LT137-139-GA026

Chronos and Gaea

and Uranos, Rhea, Hera, Zeus in GA180

1907-06-24-GA100

(SWCC)

.. on Old Saturn, the human being existed in the form which was the first foundation of his physical body, everything, else, the blood, the tissues, etc. did not then exist. Physical apparatuses constituted the first basis of man's physical body.  ... the activity of Old Saturn's surface essentially consisted in a kind of reflection which went out into the universal space. The Beings in Old Saturn's environment who were scattered in the universal spaces sent down their influences. Something which we may call the ‘cosmic aroma’ was also then strongly developed.

Only a few phenomena of the present day may give you a feeling for what took place upon Old Saturn; for example, when you hear an echo in Nature, the sound of this echo can convey to you something which went streaming out of Old Saturn as the result of the impressions which it received. These conglomerations of forces resembling apparatuses which threw back pictures in the universal space, formed the first foundation of that which developed later on as the eye. In a similar way we might follow the development of everything else. What you now have within your body, was once upon Old Saturn a physical kingdom, which sent out into the world's spaces the reflection of the whole cosmos in a manifold manner.

Myths and legends preserved this knowledge far more clearly than one generally supposes. The Greek myth of Chronos and Rhea, proceeding from the Eleusinian Mysteries, preserved for example such a truth; it contains, however, a great displacement of facts, due to the way in which the Greeks viewed the great cosmic connections.

This myth tells us that Chronos sent down his rays and that these rays then returned to him in many forms; this explains the picture of Chronos devouring his children.

1908-02-29-GA102

... all sagas and myths have a multiple meaning, and when we consider the true facts of world evolution in a spiritual sense, then the myths disclose their truth in a surprising way.

Let us look at the advance that took place from Old Saturn to Old Sun. On Old Saturn the life-giving forces streamed in, were reflected and taken up again by the mantle, the atmosphere of Old Saturn.

In the old Greek myth the warm globe of Old Saturn was called Gaea and the atmosphere Chronos.

Now consider the myth: the life-giving forces of Chronos rayed in continually upon Gaea and were reflected and absorbed. It is Chronos continually swallowing his own children!

One must feel the truth of such a myth; if it is not felt, one has not the right attitude to it. For just consider what it means: in hoary primitive ages of ancient Greece we find a myth that presents this truth to us in a wonderful picture. There is only one possible explanation of such a fact, namely, the most advanced individuals of mankind, who guided man's further development from the mystery centres, had exactly the same knowledge of world evolution as we give out today in Theosophy. In the ancient mysteries they spoke of these things as we speak today; for the masses the truths were veiled in pictures and these pictures form what today we know as Mythology.

1908-03-14-GA266/1

see extract on Old Saturn#1908-03-14-GA266.2F1

1909-08-26-GA113

describes how the previous planetary stages of Earth were already taught in ancient times, with the example of the cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros, see the full quote on Overview of solar system evolution

the cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros, based on the holy primordial triad, with three principles fundamental to the whole of evolution: Zeus, Kronos and Chthon.

  • Kronos is only another name for the Old Saturn evolution, and the totality of spiritual beings belonging to the Old Saturn stage, who - during the course of the Earth evolution - were able to bring about the separation of the Moon.
  • Zeus is a word of uncertain meaning when used in ancient times, for it was applied to spiritual individualities at very different stages of evolution. But men in ancient Greece who know something of initiation recognised in Zeus the ruler of the Sun spirits. Zeus lives in the influences which came to the Earth from the Sun.
  • Chthon is a designation of the somewhat chaotic condition of the earth after the withdrawal of the moon, at which time neither plant nor animal nor human forms were to be found.

Pherecydes spoke of the holy primordial triad, of Zeus, Kronos and Chthon, principles fundamental to the earth, having come over from pre-terrestrial ages;

Pherecydes said: ‘Chthon becomes Gea (today called Earth), because of the gift of Zeus whereby she came to be covered as with a garment.’

1918-01-04-GA180

(SWCC)

[Relation Greek-Egyptian]

The Greeks related that Chronos had begotten a son by Rhea in an irregular way. Thus the Greeks speak of Chronos and Rhea — we shall see immediately how they fit into the Greek myth — and this irregular son, who was so begotten, was Osiris. So just think: the Greeks hear that the Egyptians have an Osiris, and the Greeks on their part relate of Osiris that he is the son of Chronos and Rhea, but not begotten in the right way, so incorrectly begotten that Helios, the Sun-God became so angry about the matter that he made Rhea barren.

Thus the Greeks find a certain relationship between their own conception of the Gods and the Egyptian conceptions. But again on the other hand, what the Egyptians in a certain sense formed as their highest concept of a God — the Osiris-concept — is connected among the Greeks with an irregular origin — from the Titan race — from Chronos and Rhea.

One grasps this externally in the first place — we shall have to grasp it much more deeply presently — if we are clear that the Egyptians sought to learn of the eternal part of the human soul. They sought to know about that which goes through births and deaths — but in order to know of this eternal part in life the Egyptians expressly turned the soul's gaze beyond death. To the people of Egypt through whom the Greeks learnt of Osiris, he is no longer the God of the living, but the God of the dead, the God who sits on the Throne of the World and passes judgment when man has gone through the gate of death, that is, the God whom man has to meet after death. At the same time, however, the Egyptian knew: the same God who judges men after death, has at one time ruled over the living.

As soon as one takes these ideas together, one is no longer inclined to agree with the Dupuis verdict that it was only a matter of star-events. These Dupuis judgments have much that is captivating, but on closer inspection they reveal themselves as very superficial. I have said that the Egyptians — in the age when the Greeks received from them the Osiris-concept — directed their mind above all to the human soul after death. This lay far from the Greek mind. To be sure, the Greeks spoke too of the human soul after death, but inasmuch as they spoke of their Gods, they did not really speak of the Osiris-nature of such Gods as primarily give judgment after death. The race to which Zeus belongs is a race of Gods for the living. Man preferably looked up to this world when he turned his mind's eye to the world to which man belongs between birth and death — a race of Gods for the living: Zeus, Hera, Pallas-Athene, Mars, Apollo, etc. But these Gods were, so to say, the last God-race for the Greeks. For the Greeks turned their gaze to three successive generations of Gods.

[Gaea and Uranus]

As you know, the oldest generation of Gods was around Uranus and Gaea or better said: Gaea and Uranus. They were the earliest divine pair with all the brothers and sisters and so on who belonged to them. From this divine pair were descended the Titans, to whom also Chronos and Rhea belonged, but above all Oceanus. As you know, through certain cruel regulations — so says the myth — Uranus had evoked the wrath of his spouse Gaea, so that she prevailed upon Chronos their son, to make his father on the world-throne, impotent, and we then have this rulership of the older Gods succeeded by that of the younger, Chronos and Rhea with all that belongs to it. You know too that in the Greek myth, Chronos had the somewhat unsympathetic, in many respects, characteristic of swallowing all his children as soon as they were born, which was not pleasant for the mother, Rhea. (I am calling attention to various features which we shall particularly need.) And you know too that she saved Zeus and brought him up to overthrow Chronos, just as Chronos overthrew Uranus, only in another way, so that then the new race of Gods arrives. And then we have Hera and Zeus with all that belongs to them with all the brothers and sisters, children and so on.

An important feature in the myth, which I must relate since we shall need it if we wish to regard the myth as foundation for all sorts of world-conceptions, is the following. Zeus, before he overcame the Titans and cast them into Tartarus, had prevailed on the Goddess Metis, the Goddess of cunning, to provide him with an emetic, so that all the children swallowed by Chronos could be brought again to the light of day, and be once more in existence. Thus Zeus could have his brothers and sisters again ... for they had been in the body of Chronos. Zeus himself alone had been rescued by his mother Rhea.

And so we have three successive generations of Gods: Gaea-Uranus; Uranus overthrown through Gaea, because he was cruel, supplanted by the children, Chronos and Rhea; then Chronos overthrown again through Zeus, likewise at the instigation of Rhea. In the Zeus-circle we have the Gods who meet us where actual Greek history makes its appearance.

Now I should like to call special attention to a very significant feature of this. Greek mythology. It is not clearly enough stressed, in spite of being one of the most important features. Three successive races of Gods: these are thus the rulers of the macrocosm. But while Gaea and Uranus, Rhea and Chronos, Hera and Zeus are ruling, the human being, according to the Greek conception is already everywhere in existence. Man is already there without question. When therefore Chronos with Rhea had not yet reigned, when the rulers were still Gaea and Uranus, particularly, however, when Chronos reigned with Rhea and Zeus was not yet in possession of his emetic and so on, there were already men upon the earth, according to the view of the Greeks. And, what is more, as the Greeks related, they lived a happier life than in later times. The later human beings are the descendants of these earlier men. We must say then that the Greeks had this consciousness: up above rules Zeus, but we human beings descend from other forefathers who were not yet ruled over by Zeus. That is an important feature of the Grecian teaching of the Gods: that the Greek venerated his Zeus, his Hera, his Pallas-Athene, but was quite clear that they had not created him, what in general one calls ‘created’, but that men were there much earlier than the reign of these Gods. This is important concerning the Greek Gods.

That this is especially important for the Greek Gods can strike you when you compare the question with the Jewish teaching of the Gods. It is, of course, quite unthinkable that one would find the same feature in the Jewish teaching. You could not possibly imagine that according to the Old Testament men were pointed to ancestors who had not yet come under the rulership of Jahve and the Elohim. This therefore is something which differs radically in the Grecian teaching of the Gods. The Greek looks up to his Gods and knows: they indeed are ruling now, but they have nothing to do with what I call ‘creation’ of the human race.

This was absolutely impossible within the Old Testament conception. In the Old Testament those whom men looked upon as Gods were in the main far more concerned with the creation of man. In observing the course of world events it is very necessary to consider such things. The point is not merely to form concepts, the point is that one is able to form concepts that connect one with reality; the especially characteristic, the especially representative concepts, these are what one must have in mind.

And with this, we have considered an important feature of Greek mythology.

When the Greek looked up to his Gods, they were not those of whom he had the consciousness: they have created me. For human beings were already there, as we have said, before these Gods had assumed their rulership. What these Gods were able to do was, for the Greeks, quite a respectable amount, but they could not produce for him a human race on a planet. That lay in the Greek consciousness: these Gods could not produce a human race.

Now, what actually were the Gods of the Zeus circle, the Olympian Gods, for the Greek consciousness?

To form even an historical concept of what these Gods were — I mean now in the Greek consciousness, we have of course said various things about these Gods, but let us place ourselves into the Greek consciousness — what were they? Well, they were not beings which went about among men under ordinary circumstances. They dwelt in fact on Olympus, they dwelt in the clouds and so on. They paid only at times sympathetic or unsympathetic visits; Zeus in particular, as you know, sometimes paid sympathetic or unsympathetic visits into the human world. They were in a certain respect useful; but they also did things about which the modern man, who is somewhat more narrow-minded than the Greeks, would probably take the law into his own hands and involve such a Zeus in a divorce suit and so on. In any case, these Gods had a half-divine, half-human connection with men, and such beings, so it was thought, are not materialized in the flesh ... When Zeus wanted to conduct his affairs he took on all sorts of forms, did he not — a swan, golden rain, and so on; thus in ordinary life these Gods were not incarnated in the flesh. But on the other hand, if one looks deeper, one finds that the Greeks had the consciousness that these Gods were connected with men who lived in primeval times. Far more than looking up to the connection with the stars, as Dupuis supposed, the Greeks looked up to men of primeval times and brought the concept of the being of Zeus — please note exactly how I form the sentence, for that is the point — into connection with some ancient ruler of a long-past age. Please note that I have not said that the Greeks had the idea that what they meant by Zeus had been an ancient ruler; but I said: that which they pictured as Zeus they brought into connection with an ancient ruler who had once lived in long gone-by ages. For the kind of connection for Zeus and also for the other Gods was a somewhat complicated one.

We will examine the words a little, so that we can form an idea of what really underlies them. Let us suppose that at some time a personality had lived in Thrace, a region in Northern Greece, on whom the Zeus-concept was fastened. Now the Greek, even the quite ordinary Greek was quite clear: I do not, as it were, venerate this ancestor, nor do I venerate the single individuality which has lived in this ancestor, nevertheless I venerate something which had some connection with this ancient forefather, this ancient king in Thrace, or in Epirus. The Greek had in fact this idea: There was once such a king in whose whole being not only his own individuality had lived, but the individuality of a super-sensible being; this had expressed itself, had lived upon the earth, by once descending into a human being. The Zeus-concept was not made earthly in this way, it was brought into connection with an ancient ruler, who at one time had furnished the garment — or let us say — the dwelling place for this Zeus-being. Thus the Greek differentiated essentially that which he conceived of as Zeus from the human individuality which had lived in the body to which the Zeus-concept was referred. But the Zeus-rulership, the rule of Zeus and the Gods, took its starting point, as it were, from the fact that Zeus had descended, had lived in a human being, had found his centre there in order to work in the being of man — but who then went on working no longer as an ordinary man but in fact as an ‘Olympian’. And it was the same in the case of the other Greek Gods.

Why did the Greek form this conception — that there was once a ruler who was possessed, so to say, by Zeus, but that now there is no longer a ruler who can be possessed by Zeus, but that Zeus only rules as a super-sensible being — why did the Greek form this concept? Because the Greek knew that human evolution had progressed, that it had changed. In other words, the Greek knew that there were ancient times when human beings could have Imaginations in a particularly outstanding degree. A certain clairvoyance naturally remained for some few, but the authority of the Imaginations, that disappeared: the beings who can still have real Imaginations, these can only hold sway for the life that man knows between birth and death, in super-sensible worlds.

This is the essence of what the Greeks pictured to themselves concerning their Gods: there were Beings who could imagine. But the time is past when such beings as can ‘imagine’, can enter into human bodies. For human bodies are no longer adapted to Imaginations. So said the Greeks to themselves: we are governed by a race of Beings who can have Imaginations, while we no longer can have them. The Greek had a quite unsentimental concept of his Gods. It would moreover have been rather difficult to be sentimental over Zeus. Yet the Greek said to himself quietly (I shall again elaborate the matter somewhat, one must add detail when one wants to be quite clear), “We men are going through a definite evolution; we have developed from atavistic clairvoyance in Intuition, Inspiration, Imagination; now we must have ordinary objective thinking. But the Gods have not ventured upon it, they have remained in their imaginative consciousness, otherwise they would have to be men and wander about here in the flesh. It did not suit them (so thought the Greeks in their unsentimental way of regarding the Gods) to pass over to objective thinking, so they have not descended to the earth, but kept to their imaginative consciousness. In this way, however, they rule over us, for they have more power, as it were, since the Imaginative concept, when it is utilized fully, is more powerful than the objective concept.”

From this, however, you see that the Greeks looked back to a time when man's forming of concepts, his observation and perception were different, and that this looking back went hand in hand with the ideas they formed of the Gods. Thus they looked back to Zeus, Hera, and said: These are ruling over us now, at one time we were also as they are, but we have developed further and have become weaker. Therefore they can rule over us, they have remained as it was at that time. A certain Luciferic character, as we should say today, was given to their Gods by the Greeks. And those Beings who had remained at the Imagination stage — this developed in the Greek consciousness — these were themselves successors of these Beings who remained at the Inspiration stage. Hera and Zeus remained behind at Imagination, Rhea and Chronos at Inspiration, Gaea and Uranus at Intuition.

You see, the Greek examined his own soul, and he brought his generations of Gods into connection with the evolution of mankind and the different states of consciousness. This he felt, this he perceived. The eldest Gods, Gaea and Uranus, were Beings whose whole inner relation to the world was ordered by the fact that they had an intuitive consciousness. They wanted to remain at the stage of Intuition; and those at the stage of Inspiration set themselves against them. And again the inspiring Beings wished to remain at Inspiration; and those living in the Imaginative consciousness set themselves against them. The Intuitive were thus overthrown through the Inspiring, the Inspiring through the Imagining. We live as human beings and above us the Imaginings. Now you know that in the Prometheus myth, the Greek already desired to find some kind of instrument against the Imagining.

  •    Gaea-Uranus = Intuition
  •    Rhea-Chronos = Inspiration
  •    Hera-Zeus = Imagination

quote B:

The Greeks graded their Gods in such a way that in this gradation they showed how they looked back to earlier states of consciousness of that being who has at the same time evolved as humanity. The Greeks showed how they connected this with their retrospect of the Gods. Just think how deeply significant this is for the understanding of the Greek consciousness! Thus the Greek in looking back to his generations of the Gods looked back to the past in the mental life. He connected the ancient Intuitional Beings with Gaea, the Earth, and Uranus, the Heavens, and connected the Inspirational Gods with Rhea and Chronos. They still perceived what Gaea and Uranus were. Rhea and Chronos are described as Titans

What are they actually?

Now for some centuries mankind has lost practically all consciousness of what lies at the foundation of all this

Let me remind you that you know how a few hundred years ago the human being was brought into connection with three fundamental elements. You can still find this knowledge in Jacob Boehme and Paracelsus, even up to the time of Saint Martin. Jacob Boehme still gives:

Sal = Salt; Mercur = Quicksilver; Sulphur = Sulphur. In the Middle Ages one said: Salt, Mercury, Sulphur.

What was understood was not the same but yet had something to do with what the Greek meant when he spoke of

  • Uranus-Gaea, or Gaea-Uranus;
  • Rhea-Chronos;
  • Hera-Zeus.

For you see Chronos drove Uranus from World-rulership, Gaea became — shall we say — as good as widow. For what did she become? She became what is ‘Earth’ — not the ordinary earth which we find outside, but the earth that Man carries in himself, i.e. — Salt. Could Man — this was known to the investigator of nature in the Middle Ages — make use consciously of the salt that existed in him, then he would have Intuition. Thus the process which has sunk down deep into the nature of man was a more living one in the old Gaea-Uranus time.

A younger process which has also entered deep down into human nature is that which can be described as the Rhea-Chronos-process. The Greeks said: the power of Rhea was once widespread, and ‘Chronos’ represented the forces that confronted Rhea. Chronos was overthrown. What has been left? Well, just as from Uranus-Gaea the dead salt has been left, so from Chronos-Rhea, the fluid, Mercury, has been left; the fluid in man that can take a drop formation; that has remained behind. But neither can man make conscious use of this; it has sunk into unconscious depths.

Today, of course, that is long past and in the time of the Greeks it was already gone by, for the Greeks said to themselves: the time of Zeus upon earth was in hoary primeval ages, but at that time man could make use of the Sulphur to be found in him. Were man able to make use consciously of his Salt, he would be able to use Intuition in an atavistic way. If he could consciously make use of his Mercury, his fluid element, he would be able to use Inspiration, and Imagination if he could use his Sulphur — not in that transmitted sense, but in the actual sense as the Alchemists of the Middle Ages still understood it, when they spoke of the ‘philosophical sulphur’. Today there is also a philosophical sulphur: [Schwefel (Sulphur) has also a slang meaning of ‘hot air’. Trans.] Professors of philosophy manufacture it in vast quantities, but this is not what the Alchemists understood by it. They understood an imaginative consciousness, an atavistic Imagining, which was connected with the use of this active sulphur in man. Human beings, so said the Greeks, and their priests of the Mysteries also said so, for the mysteries of Salt, Mercury and Sulphur are ancient; human beings, through their evolution have overcome atavism, making use of sulphur atavistically. But Zeus and his circle have withdrawn into the super-sensible and avail themselves of the Sulphur processes: hence Zeus can hurl his lightning. If man, like Zeus, could hurl lightning, that is, if he could transform the sulphur through Imagination into reality, if he could inwardly and consciously hurl lightning, then he would use Imagination atavistically. That is what the Greeks wished to say when they said of Zeus that he could hurl lightning.

It was known, even by Saint Martin, that with the Sulphur of the Alchemists something different is meant from the ordinary earthly sulphur, of which one could at most say — excuse the plain speaking — it is the excrement of that which was understood by Saint Martin and those before him as the real sulphur, which they also called the ‘philosophical sulphur’. And Saint Martin still speaks of how thunder and lightning are really connected with the processes of the macrocosmic, or one could say the cosmic sulphur. Today, indeed, many a physical-natural scientific explanation creeps into science, which is also a sulphur, [See former note. Trans.] but not exactly a ‘philosophical sulphur’. Yet, remember that the really clever people of today are, of course, far beyond talking of sulphur processes in the cosmos when thunder and lightning arise; for lightning and thunder arise, as you can read in elementary books on physics, through some sort of friction processes in the clouds — don't they? Anything really rational one cannot find in what is said about lightning and thunder; for the wet clouds in their mutual action are supposed to create the electricity which comes about through thunder and lightning! But if an electrical experiment is made in the schoolroom each apparatus is most carefully dried, for the least dampness prevents any electricity from arising. The clouds up there, however, are apparently not wet! The teacher can do nothing with an electric machine which is damp, which indeed is not completely dry, but at the same time he explains that the wet clouds are supposed to be connected with the creation of electricity. Yes, indeed such things get thoroughly mixed up, don't they! I wanted, however, only to say that in Saint Martin there was still a consciousness that this element of which the Greeks dreamt when they spoke of Hera and Zeus, had something to do with lightning and thunder.

You see, even superficial ideas can indicate to us that certain nature processes, the Salt, Mercury, Sulphur-processes, but in their older sense — are connected with what the Greeks possessed in their mythology. Let us hold that fact to begin with. We must have such fundamental concepts in order to pass over in the right way to our own time.

Thus the Greeks looked back to generations of Gods, to conditions that had ceased to exist, but that in earlier ages were also perceptible to man. They connected what lived in their Gods with what we call processes of nature. Mythology was therefore at the same time a sort of natural science. And the more one learns to know mythology, the deeper is the natural science one finds in it, only a different one, which is at the same time a science of the Soul. This is how the Greeks thought, and how the Egyptians too conceived of their Osiris, who once had ruled but who was now in the underworld.

Do you notice how different the things are and yet how they are all to be traced back to a common type? If the Greeks refer to earlier ages when such a being as Zeus, who in their own time could live only supersensibly, could even incorporate in a man, so could the Egyptians also point to an older age when Osiris or Osirises — the number is not the point — ruled, when they had descended into human beings, when they were present. But that time has gone by ... now (in the Egyptian Osiris-culture) one can no longer look to a human being on the physical plane if one wants to find Osiris, one must look to the world which man enters when he goes through the portal of death. Osirises are no more in the world where human beings live, but man meets them after death. Thus the Egyptian too looked back to an ancient time in the sense of the change of human consciousness, when he distinguished between the Osiris who could once wander the Earth, and the Osiris who can now no longer wander the Earth, who only belongs to the Kingdom of death.

If we confine ourselves today to the two mythologies and tomorrow touch briefly upon the Old Testament teachings before we draw any conclusions, we can make the following statement: We observe from the whole way in which Greek and Egyptian stood to their Gods, that at the same time there was expressed in this consciousness a remembrance of the ancient times of atavistic clairvoyance. They have vanished, they are no more there. With the destinies which the human being has gone through together with his Gods — whether with Zeus or Chronos in Greece, or with Osiris in Egypt, man was describing to himself at the same time this knowledge: If I look farther back, I was related as a human being to the macrocosm in a different way from how I am now. This relation has altered.

To look back in this way to earlier ages when the Gods walked among men, had a distinct reality for these ancient peoples, since they knew that the human being stood as microcosm to macrocosm in a different way from in their own time. The old atavistic clairvoyance actually faded away in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. This was what it was sought to express through the Greek mythology, what it was also sought to express through the Osiris-mythology of the Egyptians.

Tantalus

1916-01-06-GA165

Trojan war

1904-10-28-GA092

Discussion

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Ernst Uehli: 'Mythos und Kunst der Griechen im Geiste ihrer Mysterien' (1958)
  • Leendert F.C. Mees: 'Helena und Penelope. Der Weg des Menschen im Bild der griechischen Mythologie' (1981)