Group souls of humanity
During the Old Moon planetary stage, the body of Old Moon split into two:
- a Sun' body that contained the finer substance and had a faster evolution for certain spiritual beings,
- and a Moon' or Old Moon body that had a tendency to harden, and contained the slower evolving beings.
Three different groups developed: Bull, Lion and Eagle, based on their evolutionary stage and constitution.
The astral element was added both to the beings on Old Moon (types on the level of the animal) and to those evolving on the separate Sun (spiritual prototypes)
During the Earth planetary stage, after the separation of Sun and separation of Moon, the situation was such that these prototype group souls hovered above Earth, and on Earth itself we find the physical predecessor of current humanity. The two were coupled with a spiritual connection whereby the spiritual prototypes above 'cared for' the physical entities below. The sentence in John's Gospel ‘The Light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not.’ refers to the spiritual shining in by the spiritual prototypes working on the lower beings 'below' who were in darkness and unaware of what was taking place.
Over a long process during the last epochs and cultural ages, the human being is in a process of individuation growing out of the 'unfree' group soul condition (which binds the soul still) and emancipating himself from it increasingly with the development of the I.
In the future new 'free' group souls will arise from associations of souls based on moral ethical standards.
- Old Moon
- origin of the group souls on Old Moon
- two races of Mankind originate with two groups of SoF on Old Moon (1904-11-04-GA093) - see also Streams of Abel and Cain
- Jehovah as group soul giving form to Man (and stopping there)
- The pouring out was not uniform as many individual spirits were coming downfrom the spiritual surroundings of the Earth. Speaking of Jehovah, we are not speaking of a single divinity but the spirits of many nations. Nations were split up into tribes because many such souls of nations were coming down. And the more they developed, the more did they live in families, in tribes, which then came together in large tribal nations. (1907-04-01-GA096)
- Atlantean epoch
- Man gradually developed four group-souls during these four root-races of the Atlantean epoch (1908-06-27-GA104)
- humanity was strongly organized with group souls upto the fourth subrace in the Atlantean epoch, individuation of the I set in from the fifth subrace onwards
- Current Postatlantean epoch
- current groupings of souls: family connections, connections of tribe and nation, and finally races corresponds to group souls; people were and are born into connections, born into the tribe, the race (1908-06-01-GA102)
- the symbol of the phoenix (see Schema FMC00.470): current human group souls, and how they cyclically regenerate (hence 'phoenix') with a lifecycle of approx. 500 years (1907-12-27-GA101, also Ovid).
- ancient memory of the hereditary chain as part of the old blood-based love within tribes and people (see also 'me and father Abraham are one')
- future group souls (1908-06-01-GA102)
- race will gradually disappear entirely and something else will take its place: the connections and associations which men create for themselves, uniting in groups with those of similar ideas while retaining their complete freedom and individuality. The groups will form out of associations around ideals and intellectual-ethical-moral aspects, voluntarily and out of freedom, whereas earlier group souls were beings who made man unfree. (1908-06-01-GA102)
- if Man is to acquire any idea of future evolution, he must have a thorough understanding of the character of the group soul element. Else, if he does not find the link of companionship, the chance of union could go by and the soul would become a sort of elemental being of quite an evil nature. (1908-06-01-GA102)
- this is also described on the Seventh cultural age (1908-08-16-GA105) having a link to the characteristics of the first (ancient Indian) cultural age where a caste system existed
- Christ as the future group soul of humanity
- Unification of the human I's, see also Second Adam, and the description in FMC00.298 of the next CoL on Earth rounds perspective.
- There is also a link with the forming of a new center based on shared ideals, see the 'formation of a new center' on Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension
- future 'second fall'
- the path of individuation will in the future lead to natural remembrance of past lives. However souls who have not correctly worked the development of their I, will not remember previous Personalities or their Individuality, so no lives as an individual. Rather they will have remembrance of a group soul past, and this will be a fallback into unconsciousness - or a kind of 'second fall' in the development of humanity (1909-12-04-GA117, see Fall and redemption - original sin and grace)
- future group souls (1908-06-01-GA102)
Four main group souls Bull, Lion, Eagle, Man
- the group souls being of an astral nature, these imprint down onto different etheric expressions that than work on the physical body of Man (giving rise also to the different races, this in combination with geographical etheric influences, see human races, see oa Schema FMC00.456)
- see more on the topic page Sphinx
- the work of the four main group souls Bull, Lion, Eagle, Man on the bodily structure of Man in the Lemurian and Atlantean epoch
- Man, lion, bull, eagle are expression of Man's bodily principles in the etheric body, these various spiritual influences gave form the the human physical body (1907-12-27-GA101)
- the Human physical body is a blended merger of the etheric formative forces underlying the three archetypal group souls of Bull (during Lemurian epoch), Lion (late Lemurian and throughout Atlantean epoch), and Eagle (later, as a third influence during Atlantean epoch). The three influences flow together and were balanced in the fourth group soul of Man. (1911-08-26-GA129 and 1908-06-27-GA104)
- the Bull influence worked most strongly on the physical, Lion on the etheric, and Eagle on the astral bodily principle. In each one bodily principle was developed predominantly stronger than the others. (1908-09-10-GA106)
- development of the animal lines who came down to incarnate, versus the souls that did not and waited (1908-09-10-GA106), see also Animal kingdom
- four kinds of initiations in the ancient mysteries: Lion-initiation, Bull initiation (eg Apis in Egypt, Mithras in Persia) .. see Mystery School tradition#1909-07-01-GA112
for Man experientially
- as part of initiation and individuation: through the encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold as result of initiation exercises Man becomes aware of the threads with which he is connected to the higher hierarchies to later - through conscious effort - loosen from the group soul(s) connections (that normally drive us unconsciously) (1904-GA010)
Symbol and referential use
- second apocalypic seal (see FMC00.384 and its explanations below)
- description in the Book of Ezekiel of the four winged creatures with the group soul faces or heads (Ezek. 1:5-10) (see commentary below 1905-10-25-GA093A on Luciferic beings and their influence)
- the symbol of the Sphinx
It will become increasingly indispensable to grasp the nature of the group souls, and such knowledge will play a great role even in the purely external evolution of humanity.
... if Man is to acquire any idea of future evolution, he must have a thorough understanding of the character of the group soul element.
Much will become clearer to you if you take into account like this the nature and activity and evolution of the group souls in the most varied fields.
and why? because new group souls are developing based on moral ideals, as stages 'up' leading to Christ as the group soul of humanity (see Second Adam) .. and this is part of the future development of Mankind. Else one falls off this development and is left behind.
For otherwise, if his individual soul keeps itself aloof too long on Earth, and does not find the link of companionship, it could come about that it lets the chance of union go by. It would then itself become a sort of elemental being, and the elemental beings originating from Man will be of quite an evil nature. Whereas those which have arisen from the earlier kingdoms are very useful for our orderly course of nature, the human elemental beings will by no means possess this quality.
Humanity should seek to bring Christ's words to realization: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." [Matthew 18:20]
Schema FMC00.181 shows the process of the development of group soul spiritual prototypes (above) and physical types (below) after the split of Old Moon into two bodies. On Earth, in the Lemurian epoch, these spirits above then descended into the physical bodies below on Earth. See 1909-06-26-GA112.
Schema FMC00.363 provides an overview of how on the one hand, the formative forces where working on the moulding of the physical body below (see also Sphinx, and Animal kingdom), while meanwhile above the group I's were awaiting incarnation (see also Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution)
During this period, the Spirits of Form wore working on taking hold of the lower bodies (green), see Development of the I, but retarded beings (red) infected the process with the Luciferic infection of the astral body in the Lemurian epoch, but also the Ahrimanic and Soratic influences (for Soratic, see also Asuras and Rakshasas). Man developed the human faculties of the I called Walking Speaking Thinking (WST) (by first getting upright in the Lemurian epoch, these three things set Man apart from the animals who lack these faculties) and the soul faculties of the threefold Human 'I' of Thinking Feeling Willing (TFW).
The embedded coloured boxes in the table with blue cells represent the above. The green shows the rippling in of the Spirits of Form into the different bodily principles of Man, see Schema FMC00.046 on Development of the I. The amber colour is the newly enabled faculty of the Human I, as the population also moved geographically between epochs, see Schema FMC00.211 on Human races.
To this picture timeline needs to be superimposed: a) the differentiation in form that led to the human races due to the mixing of the irregular with the regular Spirits of Form (see more on Human races), and b) - linked - the descent of spirits into those bodies as part of the individuation, as illustrated by the Schema FMC00.362 on Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution.
To be added still, are a.o. the links with the three subsystems in Man (see Man as a threefold being), and the 'cosmic storms' that hardwire the evolutionary changes through to the constitution of the physical body.
Schema FMC00.477 is an presentation based on a blackboard sketch by Rudolf Steiner in 1907-12-27-GA101, but adapted in two ways.
First, the drawing of the intellectual soul was ommitted (see also lecture text on this topic page for explanation and potential confusion), and secondly a column was added to reference two other schemas to clarify what Rudolf Steiner means with the term 'level of development'.
Note that the order of Bull-Lion-Eagle is different from usual, and not consistent with for example (the green on) Schema FMC00.363 (above) or the blue mapping below on that schema (from 1908-09-10-GA106). Hence both lecture and illustration may present some seeming contradictions
However, the rationale for the current presentation below is the following interpretation of the original drawing: that i) the astral body is at plant level and includes the threefold soul as astral components (1910-06-09-GA121, however also with an I-organization) all at the same level (lower spirit world), whereas ii) with I is meant here what lies at higher spirit world level, so Man's higher triad or true spiritual I. And, iii) in this case the consciousness soul is taken to include the spirit-self as far as developed, as it is from the consciousness soul that the astral body begins to be transformed into spirit-self or manas (see eg Schema FMC00.046 and Schema FMC00.472). This perspective supports a consistent read of the original drawing.
Compare also with Schema FMC00.415 and FMC00.415A on Man: an integrated view.
Schema FMC00.283 captures the evolutionary link of the group soul archetypes, and their 'contribution' or where we can find them in the physiology of Man today. For the 'morphing' of these four, see also Sphinx and Man past and future.
Compare also with Schema FMC00.158 on Human temperaments
Schema FMC00.177 shows the characteristics of the four groups or prototypes of humanity as linked to Human races
Schema FMC00.065 shows the various influences working on Man's bodily principles and culminating in the blend with the Sphinx, and the two 'types' of bodily constitution for male and female human beings.
FMC00.384 shows the second of the seven apocalyptic seals, the two left illustrations are sketches provided by Rudolf Steiner as indications, the two on the right are paintings by Clara Rettich of 1907 and 1911. It shows the past with the four group souls that led upto current humanity, and in the center the Mystical Lamb symbol of the Christ group soul as the future group soul of humanity, see also Unification and Second Adam.
FMC00.215 is an illustration by Rudolf Steiner titled 'group souls - human being', see Schema FMC00.283 above for correspondence.
FMC00.109 is the illustration of the the human group soul tree concept as was done in the Pythagorean school, also relevant for the memory of the blood lines in earlier stages of consciousness
FMC00.475 is a first version of a table to show the evolution of Man's consciousness experience across three epochs, showing alternation of waking and sleeping, a qualitative description of day and night consciousness as well as the experience during incarnation or between death and a new birth (based on1908-09-11-GA106 and 1908-09-12-GA106), and the evolution and individuation from group soul to the individual human I (based on 1908-06-01-GA102).
The current schema can be greatly improved upon as Rudolf Steiner gave many qualitative descriptions spread across the GA. The intention of this table is to initialize the idea and format, a next stage should further enrich the contents with (and truncate current texts to) more concise bullet point descriptions).
FMC00.470 gathers various ancient illustrations of the phoenix rising from the fire where it dies but gets reborn, a symbol of the current human group souls cyclically regenerating with a lifecycle of approx. 500 years (1907-12-27-GA101, Ovid). Note how the upper right drawing symbolizes the individual souls linked to the group soul.
Lecture coverage and references
Ovid - The doctrines of Pythagoras (Book XV)
Below a short fragment with the legendary story of rebirth where the Phoenix of Assyria renews and begets itself. Taken from Nettleton (1997), see Further reading section below.
Note the period of five centuries corresponds to Rudolf Steiner's statement in 1907-12-27-GA101. The Sun can be read/interpreted as the higher spirit world from which group souls spawn off, see also Monad.
This bird, when five long centuries of life have passed, with claws and beak unsullied, builds a nest on a loft-swaying palm … then from his father’s body is reborn, a little Phoenix, so they say, to live the same long years. When time has built his strength, with power to raise the weight, he lifts the nest, the nest his cradle and father’s tomb, as love and duty prompt, from that tall palm, and carries it across the sky to reach the Sun’s great city, and before the doors of the Sun’s holy temple lays it down.
is an extract from Knowledge of the Higher World on the Guardian of the Threshold as a result of initiation exercises. It describes the effect of the veil being lifted and Man becoming aware of the threads with which he is connected to the higher hierarchies and include karma. The section below has to be read in context, but shows the effects of first becoming aware and later - through conscious effort - loosening itself from the group soul(s) connections.
See Schema FMC00.132 and Schema FMC00.472 on Third Hierarchy as illustrations how Man is partly constituted of or better 'woven into' the Third Hierarchy.
The Guardian of the Threshold is also connected with other matters. The person belongs to a family, a nation, a race; his activity in this world depends upon his belonging to some such community. His individual character is also connected with it. The conscious activity of individual persons by no means exhausts everything to be reckoned with in a family, a nation, or a race. Besides their character, families, nations, and races have also their destiny. For persons restricted to their senses these things remain mere general ideas; and the materialistic thinker, in his prejudice, will look down with contempt on the spiritual scientist when he hears that for him, family and national character, lineal or racial destiny, are vested in beings just as real as the personality in which the character and destiny of the individual man are vested.
The spiritual scientist becomes acquainted with higher worlds of which the separate personalities are members, just as arms and legs are members of the human being. Besides the separate individuals, a very real family and national group soul and racial spirit is at work in the life of a family, a people, or a race. Indeed, in a certain sense the separate individuals are merely the executive organs of these family group souls, racial spirits, and so on.
It is nothing but the truth to say, for instance, that a national group soul makes use of each individual man belonging to that nation for the execution of some work. The group soul of a people does not descend into physical reality but dwells in the higher worlds and, in order to work in the physical world, makes use of the physical organs of each individual human being. In a higher sense, it is like an architect making use of workmen for executing the details of a building. In the truest sense, everyone receives his allotted task from his family, national, or racial group soul.
Now, the ordinary person is by no means initiated into the higher design of his work. He joins unconsciously in the tasks of his people and of his race. From the moment the student meets the Guardian, he must not only know his own tasks, but must knowingly collaborate in those of his folk, his race. Every extension of his horizon necessarily enlarges the scope of his duties. What actually happens is that the student adds a new body to his finer soul-body. He puts on a second garment. Hitherto he found his way through the world with the coverings enveloping his personality; and what he had to accomplish for his community, his nation, his race, was directed by higher spirits who made use of his personality.
At a later, much later time the group souls will embark on the same experiences that humanity undergoes today. They will eventually build individual bodies for themselves. They will become single individuals, each with an individual soul. Animals will never give rise to men, but human beings — of a kind quite different, certainly, from ourselves will develop out of the Group-Souls. The human stages — the Old Saturn stage, the Old Sun stage, the Old Moon stage, the Earth stage, and so on — can be gone through in the most varied ways.
short extract SWCC, longer extract see Development of the I#1907-04-01-GA096
The pouring out of the spirit in Lemurian times was not uniform: many individual spirits were coming down on to the Earth from the spiritual surroundings of the Earth. Speaking of Jehovah, we are not speaking of a single divinity but the spirits of many nations. Nations were split up into tribes because many such souls of nations were coming down. And the more they developed, the more did they live in families, in tribes, which then came together in large tribal nations.
is a key lecture covering oa
- Group-soul-I and Individual-I, the human group souls (folk souls), their life span and metamorphosis, the Phoenix
- the expression of Man's bodily principles (and their difference in the various human races)
- in the physical body (sense organs, glands, nerves, blood)
- in the etheric body (Man, lion, bull, eagle)
Note: the lecture - and Schema FMC00.477 - presents two 'issues' or apparent contradictions:
- the paragraph of the threefold soul below - see the notes embedded in square brackets. For a good presentation on the human I and the threefold soul, see Human character - the I and threefold soul and the schemas on that page. In this 1907-12-27-GA101 lecture, things appear not consistent with other presentations, maybe because another perspective was taken here (with some confusion due to nomenclature used). The definition of the consciousness soul may hint in that direction.
- the sequence of Bull-Lion-Eagle is different from usual, and not consistent with for example (the green on) Schema FMC00.363 (above), nor the blue mapping below on that schema (from 1908-09-10-GA106).
Hence both lecture and illustration present some seeming contradictions that were not (yet) resolved, so this Schema is not without problems. It is still to be held against other lecture references that cover the same, but these have not yet been identified.
below: internet translation of the DE version, cleansed for readability (adapted terminology) - left in full below for general reference, because it is not available in full in english anywhere else (as yet)
[Process of individuation - transition between animal group souls and individual soul of Man]
Yesterday we emphasized that only Man, as he lives here on the physical plane, has an individual soul and I, and that the animals that surround us have a group I, a group soul, living on the astral plane and found there as a self-contained entity. Thus, when we look at them spiritually, the animal kingdom and the human kingdom face each other as a group soul or group I and an individual I.
We must not imagine it as if there were no transitions between the individual beings in the universe. It is true that the saying that nature makes no leaps is not at all true for the occultist, but transitions can be found everywhere. And so you also find a transition between the group souls of the animal kingdom and the individual soul of Man.
It would be incorrect to imagine that the human being had a perfect individual soul when he first entered earthly existence, and that this now embodies itself again and again here on Earth in the same way. It is rather the case that modern Man is in a gradual transition from a group soul, which he had in ancient times, to the perfect individual soul, which he still does not have today. He is only on the way to the complete incorporation of his individual soul into his physical body. He will only have this perfect individual soul when earthly existence will be more or less complete. For the vast majority of people today, their I is an intermediate product between a group I and an individual I. The further we go back in time, the more the human I is still a group ego.
At the beginning of earthly existence, when the souls first descended from the divine worlds into our physical plane, the human souls were still group I's. Several people belonged together to a group that had a common soul, a group I.
[Man's bodily principles]
On the one hand, we want to capture that. On the other hand, let us now take a closer look at the limbs of human nature itself. It is well known to you, since it has been said over and over again, that Man has four members of his being: the physical body, the etheric or life body, the astral body and the I. And this I, when we look at it more closely, appears to us divided into three parts, which we know under the names: sentient soul, intellectual or mind soul and consciousness soul.
The independent I first dawns in the sentient soul and in the intellectual or emotional soul, and only in the consciousness soul do we have the first announcement of the self-conscious I. Only then does what is called the fifth part of the human being, the spirit self or manas, gradually appear in the human being.
In modern Man we have the following structure:
- the physical body, the etheric or life body, and the astral body;
- then the sentient soul, which is as if embedded in it, is intimately connected with the astral body;
- then the mind or intellectual soul
- and the consciousness soul; and again in the consciousness-soul, which is the actual I-soul, integrated the spirit-self or manas.
This is roughly how we would have to imagine the people of today.
[Physical body most developed]
Now we must make it clear which of these human members is the most developed, the most perfect. Some of you have already been told by me that the physical body is the most developed, the most perfectly developed member, in the way Man is developed today. Just don't confuse "most developed and developed" with "higher type". Certainly the etheric and astral bodies are higher in degree than the physical body, but the etheric and astral bodies will only reach perfection in their development in the future. In its way, the physical body is the most perfect member of man today.
Anyone who studies the physical body, not just anatomically and physically, but penetrating his mind and heart, will stand in awe at the immense wisdom built into the physical body. Our physical body shows us the perfect, wise structure in each of its smallest members.
- If you take just a piece of thigh bone from this physical body, for my sake, the uppermost part of the thigh bone, it is not a massive mass, it is a wise structure, wonderfully put together from small beams. If you study how the delicate beams are joined together, you will find that everything is so constructed that with the least expenditure of substance it produces the greatest amount of power to enable the torso to be supported by these two pillars of the femur. Even the most accomplished art of engineering cannot today with such wisdom build a bridge or any scaffolding where such a large amount of power is unfolded with so little expenditure of material. Human wisdom lags far, far behind this wisdom with which the human physical body is constructed. So it is with all parts of the physical body.
- If you look at the brain with the nervous system, it's a marvel.
- And if you look at the human heart, which is only on the way to its perfection, which will reach much, much higher degrees of perfection - it is a wonderful thing!
If you compare the astral body with its impulses, instincts and passions to this perfection of the physical body, we must say: although it will one day stand higher than the physical body, it is still on a comparatively subordinate level today. In everything that Man develops today in terms of desire for pleasure, he delivers hundreds and hundreds of attacks on the physical body. Everything that Man desires and satisfies in the pleasures he procures, such as alcohol and all sorts of other things, are basically heart poisons with which he constantly attacks the wisdom and miracle structure of his physical body. It will take a long time to develop before the astral body has come close to what the physical body already has today in terms of perfection.
You know from the theory of evolution given by our theosophical cosmology that the physical body was already predisposed on Old Saturn and went through further degrees of perfection through the evolution of the Old Sun, Old Moon and Earth. You know that in the planetary stage of evolution on Old Sun, the etheric body was added, which today is one degree lower in development than the physical body. You know that the astral body was added on Old Moon; he has only the Old Moon evolution behind him and that part of the Earth evolution that we have gone through up to now. The I only came along on Earth; it is the "baby" of the four limbs of human nature.
[Future Jupiter: perfect etheric body permeated by love]
- Actually, that wisdom of which we spoke yesterday, which runs through the group souls of the animal world, is imprinted on the physical body of Man; it has passed over to the individual physical body of Man, which is built to be full of wisdom.
- The human etheric body is only on the way to its perfection; In the course of his earthly development he will absorb everything that he needs for his perfection. When the Earth has reached its goal, it will pass into the astral state and then into still higher states and later transform into a planet which will succeed the Earth and which we call Future Jupiter. Then the etheric body of Man will be perfect in its way, just as the physical body of Man is perfect in its kind on Earth.
- In the next incarnation of the Earth, which we call Future Venus, the astral body of Man will have reached its perfection; it will then stand on the level on which the physical body stands today and on that in the next planetary one state of the etheric body will stand.
- And finally, when the Earth will have reached the Future Vulcan state, then our I will have reached its consummation.
[editor: see also Schema FMC00.143 and variants on The elementary kingdoms]
So that we can actually say: on Earth the physical body of Man is only Man, on the next planetary stage of our Earth the etheric body of Man becomes Man; then he will be impregnated with what the Earth is able to give to Man: with love.
What the physical body of Man has today as its characteristic qualities he owes to the Old Moon. In occultism the Old Moon is called the cosmos of wisdom. Back then on Old Moon, what you now find in the physical body of Man was gradually being prepared. And just as our physical body was permeated with wisdom on Old Moon oon, so the cosmos of love prepares what you will find in the Future Jupiter stage of the Earth: the etheric body completely permeated by the element of love.
And just as we admire the wisdom of a piece of bone in the physical body today, so, if we may speak comparatively, the Future Jupiter people will admire the etheric body, because it is permeated with love just as the physical body on earth is permeated with wisdom. If you hold on to this, you will come to the realization that only the human physical body is really a true human being, only really stands on the human level. The human etheric body is not yet on the human level, it is still on the animal level, and the human astral body is still on the plant level. When you sleep at night and your astral body is raised, then the physical and etheric bodies sink into dreamless sleep; this is the state that the plant is in all the time. In relation to the state of consciousness, the human astral body is on the plant level.
The I is only at the level of the mineral kingdom. The state of consciousness of the I-Man is entirely on the level of the mineral kingdom. Try to examine yourself according to this truth, what knowledge you can have; try to get it right.
What can Man understand?
He can understand the physical laws of the mineral kingdom by which he can build machines and factories, erect structures, and so on. All this happens according to the physical laws of the mineral kingdom.
[From current mineral to future plant consciousness and mastery of the laws of the etheric]
Even when it comes to plants, Man rightly says that he cannot understand life itself with his intellect. The time will come when Man will understand plants in the same way he understands minerals today; then he will also be able to construct the plant as he constructs his cathedrals and houses and his machines according to the laws of the mineral kingdom today. They are all laws of the mineral kingdom that permeate the I. Science is waiting for its ideal of producing living beings in the laboratory to be fulfilled. It will not be able to do this unless mankind has reached a certain necessary level of moral development. It would be terrible if mankind were able to do this today. Just as a watch is made today according to mineral laws, as a house is built, so in the future Man will create living things according to the laws of life. But then he will have to be able to imprint life itself on the living. Anyone who will then be standing at the laboratory table will have to be able to transfer those - let's call it: vibrations that are in his own etheric body - to what is to be enlivened. If he is a good Man, he transmits the good; if he is a bad person, he transmits the bad.
But there is a sentence in occultism: the knowledge of the White Lodge, which is called the secret of life-generation, is not handed over to mankind before Man has learned the secret of sacramentalism. 'Sacramentalism' is an expression of the fact that human action must be imbued with moral perfection, with holiness.
Only when the laboratory table where he carries out his work becomes an altar for man and his action sacred will he then be ready for this knowledge to be handed over to him. Think of the people of today with all their materialism - how far is their laboratory table from an altar today!
You see the consciousness of Man being elevated from mineral consciousness to plant consciousness. Again it is an occult statement: Man will only attain the state of plant consciousness when he will no longer be able to separate his own well-being from the well-being of all other people. As long as the individual seeks his well-being at the expense of other people, the situation has not arisen in which consciousness could be raised a step higher.
So we stand with the physical body on the level of the actual human being, with the etheric body on the animal level, with the astral body on the plant level and with the I on the mineral level.
Of these truths we want to hold fast: With our etheric body we are on the level of the animal.
In the course of earthly existence, the etheric body changes more and more to the human level. He permeates himself more and more with that love which can no longer separate the well-being of the individual from the well-being of others.
Just as we first worked out the physical body and raised it to the level of the human being, so the etheric body, and later also the astral body and the I, will rise to the human level.
The I is still on the mineral level; it was first incorporated into Man on Earth.
[DL editor: this paragraph is not clear, can be confusing, and not the essence of the lecture - suggest to skip this as we believe the drawing is confusing. Hence italics and notes in square brackets added below by editor]
Let us now consider the relationship of our soul, that is, our sentient soul, our intellectual soul, our consciousness soul and the spirit self (or manas) enclosed in the consciousness soul, to our etheric body.
Our etheric body itself is at the level of the animal.
- Below (it is written on the blackboard - see scheme: from bottom to top) at the height of Man we have the physical body.
- We leave out the etheric body for the time being (see the dots in the schema).
- We have our astral body, in which the sentient soul is enclosed – that is the first member of our soul – at the level of the plant;
- then we have the mind or intellectual soul.
- All of this is at the level of the plant. [editor note: what is meant with 'all'? .. the phrase in italics was checked against the (only available) original typoscript .. also the table drawing - which is consistent with this statement - confirms this is how it was brought during the lecture. The check was done, because the intellectual soul is normally part of the etheric body .. here Steiner 'leaves out' the etheric body and comes back later (see below) to describe the four group souls. Note however that the drawing made along with the text in this paragraph, is to be read vis-a-vis the etheric body .. see the dots in the schema, that is all is relative to the etheric body as a reference.]
- Higher up we then have the I or the consciousness soul, in which is included the spirit self or manas, insofar as it can already be found in Man today. [editor note: here also the I is taken for the consciousness soul incl. manas .. this is not always the way Rudolf Steiner presents the human I and threefold soul]
At first we left out the etheric body on the animal level. Now we must be clear about the fact that in every member [editor: bodily principle] of Man the other members express themselves in a certain way.
[expression in the physical body]
- The physical body of the human being has first of all the revelation of the physical body itself expressed within itself. We find the physical principle expressed in the physical body when we consider the sense apparatus. So you have a kind of photographic camera in your eye and a kind of piano in your ear. In short, in the sense organs the physical principle expresses itself.
- If we look at the human glands, we find the expression of the etheric body expressed in them,
- in the nervous system we have the expression of the astral body, and
- in the blood we have the expression of the I ... "Blood is a special fluid!". Whoever has the blood has the human I. If the devil has blood in Man, then he has the I.
In this way every other member expresses itself in the physical body of Man, insofar as it protrudes. The blood pulsates unconsciously because the I, insofar as it is active in it, is unconscious of its physical processes.
[expression in the etheric body]
Just as the nature of the other members expresses itself in the physical body, the nature of the other members also expresses itself in the etheric body, only it does not express itself there 'humanly' but rather 'animally', namely in the form of certain animals, in a form that bears some resemblance to our outer animal forms. Thus
- what lies beneath the etheric body, the physical body, expresses itself like a silhouette; this part of the etheric body, in which the physical member of the human being expresses itself, is called the "Man" (it is written on the blackboard).
- The astral body, the sentient soul that expresses itself in the etheric body, is called the "lion" because of the similarity of its etheric form;
- the intellectual soul, which expresses itself in the etheric body, is called the "bull" or the cow, and
- the consciousness soul with the spirit self because of the resemblance that it has in its etheric form for the clairvoyant sight, the "eagle".
So you have here (scheme) the four signs of the Apocalypse – Man, lion, bull, eagle – as the four expressions of the human etheric body.
You can see from this that those of our ancestors who devised these deep symbols, these animal symbols for the human being, did not create them out of their imagination, philosophy or speculation, out of any ingenuity, but out of the world of facts, out of the occult world of facts have created out.
[Link with human races]
But now we must be clear about the fact that these four expressions do not come out the same with every human being; one of the expressions predominates in one person and the other in another. Of course we have to look at the whole of humanity in its development.
- If you look at where the physical body expresses itself most strongly, we find the strongest expression in the declining, the red race, in the Indians, in the special development of the bone system, which prevails here.
- If you want to see where the etheric body particularly expresses itself physically, you must look for it in another race of people: in the black race, in the formation of glands. In carbon sequestration you will find an expression of plant nature. [The transcripts here are incomplete.]
- You will find the people in whom the nervous system is particularly strongly expressed on the physical level, and with it also the sensitive, in the Malayan race, and
- the race in which the blood system is particularly expressed is the Mongolian Race.
- You will find that part of the people who are beginning to develop the principle of Manas in the Caucasian race.
There you drew the classification of the human races from occult truths; that is what is found in today's human being, distributed over the whole of humanity, with one or the other predominating or receding in one human species.
You will also find such differences in the etheric body of the human being. When the clairvoyant eye looks at the etheric body as the physical eye looks at the physical body, it finds people divided into human beings, lions, bulls and eagles.
Your group I is astral in nature. The clairvoyant finds the human group I standing on the astral plane between the animal group I and the human individual I.
The further back in time we go, the more we find people taking on one of these four forms in relation to their etheric body, and we ascribe to each of these four soul groups a human group soul, one a human group soul, the other a lion group soul, the third a bull group soul and fourth an eagle group soul. You would only get the wrong idea if you pressed these names, which are taken from physical animal forms, too hard. This etheric body of the lion people is much more like the group soul of the lions than the individual lion here on the physical plane.
[evangelists and four group souls]
Christianity imagined that the evangelists did not have the souls of ordinary human beings, but that they comprised entire groups of people, and compared Matthew to the human being, Mark to the lion, Luke to the bull and John to the inner soul character the eagle. This stems from that resemblance which Christian esotericism ascribed to the souls of the individual evangelists.
We will understand this even more precisely when we see that Man is engaged in a descent on the one hand and an ascent on the other.
- Here on Earth, in the deepest point of materialism, Man acquires the disposition for the individual soul. Man has descended from the old days, when a more precise distinction was made between the individual group souls: man-man, lion-man, bull-man, eagle-man.
- When people ascend again in the future, they will retain their individual souls and, on a higher level with a higher consciousness, will again develop what they previously only had in dim consciousness, the four group souls. Therefore, in Christianity, these qualities are ascribed to the evangelists.
[group souls characteristics]
Let us hold on to this concept of human group souls for a while longer. These group souls lived themselves out much more than in space, than in juxtaposition, in time, in succession. If we consider the animal group souls, then we say, if we take a group of lions or a group of whales: they have their common group soul next to each other on the astral plane. But when we look at human group souls, we must focus more on time. A human group soul is in the etheric, so to speak, at the border between the physical and the astral plane, is born at a certain time and is transformed in turn at a certain time.
These four group soul types that we have discussed are only the four main types, but there are innumerable intermediate levels. We have only given the most characteristic forms man, lion, bull, eagle, which can appear in all possible mixtures.
[evolution of group souls]
[editor: The Cherusci were a Germanic tribe that inhabited parts of northwestern Germany in the 1st century BC and 1st century AD]
Consider a group of people, say a tribe; let's take any of the ancient Central European tribes, for example the Cherusci tribe. Such a tribe arises once, and it perishes. The materialistic observer of the world only sees something abstract in what the Cherusci tribe is, a concept that holds them together. But that is something unreal. The occultist sees in the Cheruscan tribe a group soul which arises, "is born" at the time when the Cheruscan tribe enters history; it grows as Cheruscan power grows, and "dies" when the Cheruscans disappear from history. Behind the evolving tribe of the Cherusci the occultist sees an evolving etheric being.
Now there is a difference between an etheric entity and a physical entity here on Earth. A physical entity is born on the physical plane, grows, reaches a peak of life, and dies again. Birth and death are the characteristics of beings on the physical plane. It is not so with the beings who live on the higher planes. If we follow the animal group-souls on the astral plane through thousands of years, their origin and death cannot be expressed by the words "birth" and "death". It's based on something completely different. It is based on transformation, metamorphosis. If you meet an animal group-soul on the astral plane today with clairvoyant faculties and remember one of its previous incarnations, as it was with this animal group-soul 1500 years ago, it will not appear to you as if you were looking at a younger person. Of course you see the group soul also going through youth, middle life and old age, but it does not give up its consciousness in old age, it does not die. She is constantly changing without going through death. You can trace the animal group soul back to primeval times - you only find metamorphosis, not birth and death.
Something similar is the case with such group souls as that of the Cheruscan tribe. When the Cheruscan tribe appears as a number of physical people on the physical plane, the Cheruscan soul has just formed; but she was not born, but was formed, transformed, out of another time. It grows with the power of the Cheruscan, culminating when the Cheruscan tribe reaches its zenith, and when the Cheruscan tribe in history on the physical plane degenerates and disappears, the Cheruscan soul arises anew in youth, around the soul of another tribe to become; she metamorphoses herself.
[Phoenix - group soul rising and perishing]
Physical birth and physical death do not exist when we consider souls on higher planes. Birth and death as we know them exist only on the physical plane, not on the higher planes. Occult wisdom has expressed this well, taking great care with numbers.
Attempts have been made to establish an average number of times when a group-soul, as belonging to a particular human community, arises, metamorphoses out of another, grows and reaches its climax, to again undergo a downward evolution and then transform itself into another group-soul.
If the average age of Man is set at 75 years - this number taken as lunar years - and multiplied by 7, the life of a human group soul results in its four types, until its next transformation. 7 here means generations. If we consider that we are dealing with lunar years, we come to about 500 years. And so it was said in occultism: The life of a group soul lasts 500 years; after 500 years it becomes someone else, it rebirths itself without losing consciousness.
If we look at the I of such a group soul and look for a means of expressing the I externally in the physical, then it is the blood. For the occultist, blood is the expression of fire [editor: or warmth], substance glowing through with fire. Just as the human physical body is the expression of the [element] earth, the etheric body the expression of the water, the astral body the expression of the air, so is the I which is not yet chained to egoism; the expression of fire.
We therefore say - we will discuss this tomorrow - that the blood found death through egoism. Man's I "consumes itself in its own fire," by itself. This is an occult expression. Only when Man overcomes egoism does he attain immortality.
The human group I is consumed in its own fire. When 500 years are up, it burns up and creates a new form out of itself. This was represented in occultism as the group I generally living 500 years, then being burned up and revived out of its own fire, and this was called the 'Phoenix Bird'. The beautiful legend of the phoenix bird has its actual background here. The phoenix is the group I with the characteristics of the four types, which burns up and restores itself after seven generations - a generation reckoned at 75 lunar years of life. This is the real background of the phoenix saga.
There you have fresh proof that such old legends as the one about the phoenix are created out of the deepest occult facts. It is not here to speculate, but to show what has been taught in the occult schools down the ages, and what constitutes real actual experience of which the occult signs and sigils are the expression. Again and again, when we hear such expressions of occult truth and compare them with what humanity has given us in its signs and symbols, we are reminded of how much human consciousness has created before it became intellectual consciousness. People love to believe that we have already come a long way today. But his intellect lags behind the creative consciousness of the prehistoric world, which only the initiates had, and they hid it in the sagas. The symbols of the four beasts are not made up; not thought is the starting point, the origin of it, but looking.
[worlds and planes of consciousness]
When I say: the group soul is in the etheric on the border between the physical and the astral plane - you must not imagine a border line. If we start from the physical plane, we have here (it is drawn) seven subdivisions of the physical plane; then there would be seven subdivisions of the astral plane. Of these, the three lowest coincide with the three highest on the physical plane. We must consider the astral plane with the physical plane in such a way that the three uppermost parts of the physical plane are at the same time the three lowest parts of the astral plane.
We can speak of a fringe zone, that is, that which our souls cannot leave after death if they are still chained to Earth by desires. They are called kamaloka.
In the occult signs, symbols and seals, which we have chosen here as the first examples, we certainly see something gained from the depths of occult facts, and you would be completely wrong if you read the deep wisdom of the past in the occult schools would fail to recognize or consider them in any way to be overcome by our modern wisdom. Wherever you encounter the wisdom of occult teachings in the form of signs or symbols, it always shows itself in such a way that it is confirmed by direct occult observation. An example of how the doctrine of the occult worked in relatively recent times is that symbolic meanings have been secreted into names and words, but in such a way that underlying them was a real meaning: facts of the higher world. We will not go back to the origin of word formation in the sense of philology; what I am going to say now is not something you can check with philology. Even if philology found it wrong, the word symbolism would still be correct.
[mirror-reversal in astral world]
The further you ascend from the physical plane through the astral world into the spirit world, the more everything presents itself to you as a reflection of the physical plane, which you must first learn to read.
- It is easiest for the student to learn from numbers. Assuming you have the number 543 here on the physical plane, this number is to be read as a mirror image on the astral plane, ie 345. Likewise, all other things and events are to be read as mirror images.
- I will choose a crass example right away: Here on the physical plane you can follow how the old hen lays the egg and how the young hen develops from the egg. If you look at the same event on the astral plane, you have to go backwards: first you have the young hen, the hen keeps getting smaller and smaller and finally goes into the egg.
- Time also goes backwards. You see how tremendously confusing this must be to the student at first sight.
- You see the passions that emanate from Man as in a tableau; they radiate from the center. The reflected passions appear as if nothing but animals rushed at you. Man sees the lower passions as all sorts of wild animals, like mice, rats and so on around him. If the student has not learned this, and the first experience of it dawns on him when he sees his own passions rushing towards him as mice and rats, then pathological states such as paranoia and so on can easily occur.
What I have now told you as a fact about the relation of the higher worlds to the lower worlds, one tried to express symbolically in the theory of evolution with a play on words. When human beings entered their existence on earth, they entered a physical state from a spiritual state - through Eve. In Eve one saw that state where spiritual humanity became physical and therefore also sinful. If mankind is to be led up to the spiritual again, and if the contrast to the woman who brought the mortal into the world is to be expressed, then what is to bring the immortal back into mankind must be expressed the other way around; the name must be reversed. Therefore the angel of God addresses Mary with the words "Ave, Maria!" – Eve becomes Ave; this reversal is symbolic. Whatever a more or less perverse philology says against it is not important. It is important to show how the symbolic can have an effect in word composition in occultism.
The attempt was made with this combination of words to make Man, by uttering the words, aware of the occult fact that the currents of the physical and spiritual worlds have opposite directions. This has a very deep meaning. Don't see anything arbitrary behind it. The best thing you can see behind it is that people were instructed to recognize the occult laws in their language. By allowing people to do such exercises in order to recognize the occult laws in language, they work consciously or unconsciously on their occult training. The principle of symbolism is at the same time a principle of training.
quote A - origin of elementals of nature
We have seen how such elemental beings come into existence as a sort of irregularly severed parts of group souls. We need only remember what was said at the end of the lecture and we shall have placed the nature of such elemental creatures before our spiritual eyes. We were considering one of the last formed species of these elementary beings. We pointed to the fact that each animal form — or to put it differently — a totality of similarly formed animals is represented by a group soul. We have said that these group souls play the same role in the astral world as our human soul — in so far as it is I-endowed — in the physical world.
The human I is really a group I which has descended from the astral plane to the physical plane, and thus becomes an individual I.
The animal I are still normally on the astral plane, and what is here on the physical plane as the separate animal possesses only physical body, etheric body, and astral body. The I is in the astral world, similarly formed animals being members of their group I. We can realize from this fact how birth and death in human life have not the same significance in the life of the animal. For when an individual animal dies, the group soul or group I remains alive. It is just the same as if — assuming that it were possible — a man lost a hand and was capable of replacing it. His I would not say: ‘I have died through the loss of my hand’; it would feel that it had renewed a limb. So the group I of the lions renews a limb when a lion dies and is replaced by another. Thus we can understand that birth and death have not at all the significance for the animal group souls as they have for the human being of the present cycle of evolution. The group soul of the animals knows changes, metamorphoses; knows, so to speak, the severing of the members which then extend into the physical world, the loss of these members and their renewal.
We have said, however, that there are certain animal forms which go too far in the process of severing, which are no longer in a position to send back to the astral plane what they bring down to the physical plane. When an animal dies what falls away must be entirely exhausted in the surrounding world, while the soul and spirit nature of the animal must stream back into the group soul, to be extended afresh and grow to a new individual entity. There are in fact certain animal forms which cannot send everything back into the group soul; and these parts which remain over, which are cut loose, torn loose from the group soul, then lead an isolated life as elemental beings. Our evolution has gone through the most varied stages and at each stage such elemental beings have been separated off, so you can well imagine that we have a fairly large number of such elementals around us in what we call the super-sensible world.
quote B - about future groupings of souls
Then, however, the time will also have come when a fairly great number of representatives of humanity will be ripe to acknowledge the super-sensible worlds of which the spiritual-science world-conception speaks today. Such a phenomenon as that of the bee-life in connection with what can be known of the super-sensible worlds offers a wonderful answer to the great riddle of existence. These things are of great importance from yet another side. It will become increasingly indispensable to grasp the nature of the group souls, and such knowledge will play a great role even in the purely external evolution of humanity. If we go back thousands and thousands of years we find man himself as a being still belonging to a group soul. Human evolution on our Earth is from the group soul nature to the individual soul. Man advances through the gradual descent of his I-endowed soul into physical conditions, there having the opportunity of becoming individual. We can observe different stages in the evolution of mankind and see how the group soul gradually becomes individual.
[describing the fact that arithmetic is a form of truth beyond sympathy and antipathy]
Continually wider regions will be grasped by this form of truth and more peace can come to mankind if truth is grasped in this manner.
The human being has grown out of the group soul condition and emancipates himself from it increasingly.
If we look at groups instead of the souls, we have family connections, connections of tribe and nation, and finally connected races. The race corresponds to a group soul. All these group connections of early humanity are what man outgrows and the more we advance the more the race conception loses its meaning.
We stand today at a transitional point; race will gradually disappear entirely and something else will take its place. Those who will again grasp spiritual truth as it has been described will be led together of their own free will. Those will be the connections of a later age.
The human beings of earlier times were born into connections, born into the tribe, the race. Later we shall live in the connections and associations which men create for themselves, uniting in groups with those of similar ideas while retaining their complete freedom and individuality.
To realize this is necessary for a right understanding of something like the Anthroposophical Society. The Anthroposophical Society is intended to be a first example of such a voluntary association, although we may be well aware that it has not yet reached very far. The attempt had to be made to create a group in which men find themselves together without the differentiation of the ancient group soul's nature and there will be many such associations in the future. Then we shall no longer have to speak of racial connections but of intellectual-ethical-moral aspects with regard to the associations that are formed. The individuals voluntarily allow their feelings to stream together and this again causes the forming of something which goes beyond the merely emancipated man. An emancipated human being possesses his individual soul which is never lost when it has once been attained. But when men find themselves together in voluntary associations they group themselves round centres. The feelings streaming in this way to a centre once more give beings the opportunity of working as a kind of group soul, though in quite a different sense from the early group souls. All the earlier group souls were beings who made man unfree. These new beings, however, are compatible with man's complete freedom and individuality. Indeed, in a certain respect we may say that they support their existence on human harmony; it will lie in the souls of men themselves whether or not they give as many as possible of such higher souls the opportunity of descending to man. The more that men are divided, the fewer lofty souls will descend into the human sphere. The more that associations are formed where feelings of fellowship are developed with complete freedom, the more lofty beings will descend and the more rapidly the earthly planet will be spiritualized.
So we see that if Man is to acquire any idea of future evolution, he must have a thorough understanding of the character of the group soul element. For otherwise, if his individual soul keeps itself aloof too long on the Earth, and does not find the link of companionship, it could come about that it lets the chance of union go by. It would then itself become a sort of elemental being, and the elemental beings originating from man would be of quite an evil nature. Whereas those which have arisen from the earlier kingdoms are very useful for our orderly course of nature, the human elemental beings will by no means possess this quality.
We have seen that such severed beings arise in certain border regions, and they arise also on the boundary made by the transition from the group soul nature to the independent group associations where the connections are of an aesthetic, moral, intellectual character. Wherever such connections arise, group beings are there.
Four of the conditions out of the total number, man went through during the Atlantean epoch in such a way that he felt himself as a group-soul, as we have described, as eagle, lion, bull and man. He gradually developed these four group-souls during these four root-races of the Atlantean epoch.
[On the four-headed beast in Book of Revelation]
Now because races always continue, just as, for instance, the Indian has continued, although later ones have developed (they pass into one another), for this reason the four heads indicating the group-souls also remained at the beginning of the fifth age of Atlantean civilization and we have this four-headed beast. Now when Man began to harden himself from the etheric into the physical, he developed four different parts of the body in accordance with his fourfold group-soul. And through the former group-soul consciousness changing into the individual-consciousness, man had within him a con-junction of the earlier four-foldness at the beginning of the fifth age of Atlantis.
He bears within him the four heads which are summed up in his head which gradually arises. [Man's head] is composed of the four group-heads as it developed in the course of the fifth period. Man has four parts of the physical body corresponding to the four heads. These are the four horns. So that you may imagine that because man was etheric, he had four heads, four animal heads, only the last is already human-animal, for that is what is meant.
He was four-headed, and each force-system corresponding to one of these heads formed physical organs. We saw in our last lecture that there was a force-system which formed the heart, namely, that which is connected with the lion head. The various organs of man are like condensations of the corresponding parts of the etheric body. This is the view of the writer of the Apocalypse. He says: That which is physical is a densification of the etheric. Just as you would think: “This skin thickens and forms a callosity,” so the Apocalyptist thinks: “man exists etherically and this condenses and becomes physical.”
And because man is fourfold, consisting of four group-souls, four condensations are formed. These constitute his physical body.
This is the reason why one described as “horn” that which in the physical body corresponds to the etheric body. Horn is a callous thickening. Man is described, as far as he had developed in the fourth age of the Atlantean epoch, as an anneal with four heads and four horns. He then evolves further towards an individual human being. This begins in the neighbourhood of the present Ireland. Man passes through the last three ages in such a way that he possesses the germ of the I-being. He no longer develops an animal body outwardly, but has risen to the human stage. He matures his human nature more and more until he absorbs the Christ-principle. If we regard present-day man, we see that he was not always as he appears today.
In order for him to become what he now is, he had to pass through four animal group-souls, he had to be incarnated in bodies corresponding to the present lion form, the bull form, the eagle form and the human form. He then pressed forward and became more and more human, and the form of the earlier group-soul disappeared. It is no longer there, man has assumed human shape.
Now let us proceed further with the evolution of humanity. Man took on the most diverse forms, and when he had developed upward to the hip-level he was at his ugliest in his physical form. The shape he then had is preserved in a decadent form in the snake. The time when man had reached the amphibian form, when the Moon was still in the Earth, is the time of shame and degeneracy in the evolution of mankind. Had the Moon not then separated from the Earth, the race of men would have succumbed to a horrible fate, failing increasingly into evil forms. Hence the feeling that the naive and unspoiled person has toward the snake, which retains the form that man had at his lowest point, is entirely justified. Precisely the unspoiled soul-attitude, which does not assert that there is nothing ugly in nature, feels a revulsion before the snake, because it is the document of human shame. This is not meant in a moral sense, but points to the lowest stage in human evolution.
Man had now to pass beyond this low point. He could do this only by abandoning the animal form and beginning to condense his spiritual upper part. We have seen that all the nobler parts could develop only through the intervention of the Isis and Osiris forces. In order for the Osiris forces to work in him, in order for the nobler part to develop, something important was necessary. Man's upper part had to find the possibility of bringing the spine out of the horizontal into the vertical. All this occurred through the influence of Isis and Osiris. Man was led from stage to stage by sun and moon, which kept themselves in balance.
[zodiac man and zodiac clock]
When half of man had become physical, sun and moon were in balance; therefore the hip region is designated as the Balance. At that time the sun was in the sign of the Balance.
Now we must not imagine, and this must be emphasized, that after the sun had stood in the sign of the Scorpion, and then in the sign of the Balance, the hips immediately developed. This would show the tempo of evolution as proceeding much too rapidly. The sun travels through the whole zodiac in a period of 25,920 years. At one time the sun rose in spring in the Ram, earlier in the sign of the Bull. The vernal point was always moving, going through the sign of the Bull, and so on. About 747 BC the sun again entered into the Ram; in our time it rises in the sign of the Fish.
The time during which the sun traverses a sign has some significance, but such a period would not suffice for the change that had to take place in order for Man to progress from sexuality under the sign of the Scorpion to the evolving of his hips under the sign of the Balance.
We should have a false picture of this, if we thought that it could have occurred in one transit of the sun. The sun goes once through the zodiac, and only after this complete circuit does the forward step occur. In earlier times it had to make the transit oftener before the forward step could take place. Therefore we cannot apply to more ancient epochs the familiar time-reckonings of post-Atlantean times. The sun had first to go completely around - in earlier ages even several times - before evolution could progress a step. For those members that required a stronger molding, the time lasted even longer.
Man rises ever higher through this evolution. The next stage, during which the lower parts of the human trunk were formed, is designated by the sign of the Virgin.
We shall best understand evolution if we make it quite clear that, while Man was becoming ever more human, animal beings remained stuck at certain stages. We have already said that man developed lungs, heart, and larynx through the influence of the moon forces. We have also shown to what extent Osiris and Isis participated in this. Now we must be quite clear that the higher organs, such as heart, lungs, larynx, and others, could develop only through the fact that the higher members of Man - etheric body, astral body, and also the I - cooperated in a definite way as the really spiritual members of Man.
After the point that was reached under the Balance, these higher members cooperated much more than in the preceding epochs. Thus the most manifold forms could appear. For example, the etheric body, or the astral, or the I, could work especially strongly. It could even happen that the physical body might predominate over the other three members. Through this four human types developed.
- A number of men appeared who had worked out the physical body especially.
- Then there were men who had received their stamp from the etheric body,
- others whose astral nature predominated,
- and also strongly marked I-men.
Each man showed what predominated in him. In the ancient times when these four forms originated, one could meet grotesque shapes, and the clairvoyant discovers what is present in the different types. There are representations, although these are not well known, in which the memory of this has been preserved.
- For example, those men in whom the physical nature became especially strong and worked on the upper parts, bore the mark of this in their upper part. Something was formed that was entirely suited to the baser form, and through what was thus active there appeared the shape that we see retained in the apocalyptic picture of the Bull, although not the bull of today, which is a decadent form. What was governed principally by the physical body at a certain time, remained stuck at the stage of the bull. This is represented by the bull and all that belongs to this genus, such as cows, oxen and so on.
- The human group in whom the etheric rather than the physical body was strongly marked, in whom the heart region was especially powerful, is also preserved in the animal kingdom. This stage, beyond which man has progressed, is preserved in the Lion. The lion preserves the type that was worked out in the group of men in whom the etheric body was intensely active.
- The human stage in which the astral body overpowered the physical and etheric is preserved for us, although degenerated, in the mobile bird-kingdom, and is portrayed in the Apocalypse in the picture of the Eagle. The predominating astrality is here repelled; it raised itself from the Earth as the race of birds.
- Where the I grew strong, a being evolved that should actually be called a union of the three other natures, for the I harmonizes all three members. In this group the clairvoyant actually has before him what has been preserved in the Sphinx, for the Sphinx has the lion-body, the eagle-wings, something of the bull form — and in the oldest portrayals there was even a reptilian tail, pointing to the ancient reptile form — and then at the front there is the human face, which harmonizes the other parts.
These are the four types. But in the Atlantean time the man-form predominated, as the human shape gradually constructed itself out of the eagle, lion, and bull natures. These transmuted themselves into the full human form, and this gradually transmuted itself into the shape that was present in the middle of Atlantis.
Something else occurred through all these events. Four different elements, four forms, merged harmoniously in man.
- One is present in the physical body, in the bull nature; these are the predominating forces that evolved up to the evolutionary period of the Balance.
- Then we have the lion nature in the etheric body;
- in the astral body, in the predominating forces of the astral, the eagle or vulture nature;
- finally, the predominating forces of the I, the true human nature.
In single beings, one or another of these members had the upper hand. Through this the four types arose. But one could meet still other combinations. For example, the physical, astral, and I might be equal, while the etheric predominated; that is a particular type of mankind. Then there were beings in whom the etheric, astral, and I had the upper hand, while the physical was less developed, so that we have men in whom the higher members prevail over the physical body.
- Those human beings in whom the physical, astral, and I predominated, are the physical ancestors of the males of today, while
- those in whom the etheric, astral, and I predominated, are the physical ancestors of the females of today.
The other types disappeared more and more; only these two remained, and evolved into the male and female forms.
How was it possible that gradually just these two forms evolved? This occurred through the differing effects of the working of the Isis and Osiris forces.
[continues on the division of sexes] - see Gender and sexuality
It is of special interest that in this time we have also to take into account those who had achieved this stage earlier.
When we say that certain beings remained at the Bull stage, others at the Lion, others at the Eagle, and so on, what does this mean?
It means that if these beings had been able to wait, if they could have developed their full love for the physical world only at a much later time, they would have become human beings. If the lion had not willed to enter into the earthly sphere too early, it would have become a Man; the same is true of the other animals that had split off up till then. Let us repeat it in this way: All that was human at the time when the lion formed itself said
- either, “No, I will not yet take up the lower substances; I will not go down into physical humanity,”
- or, “I will go down; I wish what has evolved to come into existence.”
Thus we must think of two beings.
The one remains above in the etheric realm of the air and only in its earthly parts reaches down to Earth, while the other strives to descend completely to the Earth. The latter might become a lion; the former became a man. Just as the animals remained fixed at a certain stage, so now certain men remained fixed. It was not the best men who became human too early. The better ones were able to wait; they remained for a long time without descending to the Earth and there carrying out the act of fructification consciously. They remained in that state of cognition in which this act of fructification was a dream.
We have seen how, in the Egyptian myths and mysteries, all the mighty pictures of the Sphinx, of Isis, of Osiris, were memories of ancient human conditions. All this was like a reflection of ancient events on earth. Man looked back into his primeval past and saw his origin. The initiate could experience again the spiritual existence of his forebears. We have seen how Man grew out of an original group-soul condition. We could point out how these group-souls were preserved in the forms of the four apocalyptic beasts. Man grew out of this condition in such a way that he gradually refined his body and achieved the development of individuality.
We can follow this historically, eg in the 'Germania' of Tacitus: in the times described there, and the portrayal of conditions of the Germanic regions in the first century after Christ, we see how the consciousness of the individual is still bound up with the community, how the clan spirit rules, how the Cherusker, for example, still feels himself as a member of his clan. This consciousness is still so strong that the individual seeks vengeance for another of the same group. It finds expression in the custom of the blood-feud. Thus a sort of group-soul condition prevailed. This condition was preserved into late post-Atlantean times, but only as an echo.
In the last period of Atlantis the group-consciousness generally died out. It is only stragglers whom we have just described. In reality the men of that time no longer knew anything of the group-soul. In the Atlantean time, however, man did know of it. Then he did not yet say I of himself. This group-soul feeling changed into something else in the following generations.
.. in ancient times memory had an entirely different meaning and power. What is memory today? Reflect on whether you can still recall the events of your earliest childhood. Probably you can remember very little, and beyond your childhood you cannot go at all. You will remember nothing of what lies before your birth.
It was not like this in Atlantean times. Even in the first Postlantean cultural age, Man could remember what his father, grandfather, and ancestors had experienced. There was no sense in saying that between birth and death there was an I. The I reached back for centuries in the memory. The I reached as far as the blood flowed down, from the remotest ancestors to the descendants.
At that time the 'group I' was not to be thought of as extended in space over the contemporaries, but as proceeding upward in the generations.
.. modern man will never understand what appears as an echo of this in the tales of the patriarchs: that Adam, Noah, and others grew to be so old. They counted their ancestors through several generations upward to their I. The modern man no longer can form any conception of this. In those days there would have been no sense in giving a single man a name between birth and death. In the whole series of ancestors the memory continued upwards for centuries. As far as man could remember through the centuries, so far was he given his name. Adam was, so to say, the I that flowed with the blood through the generations. Only when we are acquainted with these actual facts do we know how things really were. Man felt sheltered in this series of generations. This is what the Bible means when it says, “I and Father Abraham are one.” When the adherent of the Old Testament said this, only then did he rightly feel himself as man within the line of ancestry. Among the first Postatlanteans, even among the Egyptians, this consciousness was still present. Men felt the community of the blood, and this caused something special for the spiritual life.
is dedicated to the four human group souls
If we go further back, we can keep this image, but we must not imagine such a regular circle of men; these human beings can be scattered in the world in the most manifold way. Let us imagine one in west France, another in the east of America, etc. — that is to say, not sitting together. Where the laws of the spiritual world are in question the I's can still be connected, although the human beings are scattered over the world. These human beings form, then, this “round.” That which is formed through the flowing together of their I's is not indeed such a beautifully formed etheric body, but still it is a Unity. Thus a group of people existed at that time, who were united because their I's formed a unity — and indeed, there were actually four such group I's. You must imagine these human beings in accordance with the laws of the spiritual world. The group souls of the four groups passed into each other. They were not inwardly united, but passed into each other. One calls these four group souls by the names of the apocalyptic beasts: Bull, Eagle, Lion, Man. The Man, however, was at another stage of evolution than the man of today. The names are taken from the organization of the group souls.
Why could one call them thus? I should like to make that clear today from another aspect.
Let us place ourselves as vividly as possible in the early ages of Lemurian life. The souls which today are incarnated in human bodies had not yet descended as far as the physical bodies. They had not yet the tendency to unite themselves with physical matter. Even the bodies which later were to become human bodies were very, very animal-like. The most grotesque physical beings were on earth, which would even seem grotesque compared with what we should call today the most grotesque creatures. Everything was still in a soft, slippery form — seething, watery, or fiery — human beings, as well as the environment. Among these grotesque forms were already, of course, the ancestors of the human physical bodies, but these were not yet taken possession of by the I's.
The four group souls, whom we have already characterized as four group souls before the entry of the spirit into the physical organization, actually represented four I's who waited to incarnate — such I's as were adapted to quite special forms, which were down there below.
One category was adapted to enter the organizations already existing physically, in quite definite shapes, another category to enter another. The forms which were below must correspond in their formation, in a certain way, to the kinds of I's which waited. There were forms existing which were especially adapted to receive the Lion I's, others the Bull I's, etc. That was in a very early age of earth evolution. Now consider that the group soul we have called the Bull soul enters quite definite forms which are there below. These have a quite definite appearance. Similarly, the Lion soul was drawn to other special forms.
(SWCC) talks about the origin of the group souls on Old Moon (see the lecture section for that stage there) and how they appeared in the early phases of the Earth stage
First, then, the Earth had to recapitulate the conditions of old Saturn. Once more the first beginning of the physical body developed as if from the cosmic germ. Then came a repetition of the old Sun and finally of the old Moon. Sun, Moon, and Earth still formed one body; then followed a repetition of the cleavage already described. The Sun detached itself and again the more advanced beings who required a higher evolutionary sphere, left with it. They took with them the finer substances and established therewith the scene of their activity in the Universe. Thus, as we have said, the Sun quit the Earth (which still bore the Moon within it), and took in its train the beings whose maturity allowed of their continued progress on the Sun. Foremost among these, of course, were the beings who formerly had functioned as prototypes. All the beings who had attained the requisite maturity upon the old Moon, progressed apace and in time could no longer dwell among the coarser substances and beings of the Earth-plus-Moon; they were compelled to withdraw from this sphere and to establish a new existence upon the Sun — our present Sun.
Who were these beings? They were the descendants of those other beings who, during the old Moon period, had evolved on the Sun as Bull-, Lion-, and Eagle-spirits. The highest and most advanced of these had brought the bull, lion, and eagle nature to a harmonious unity in themselves, and may be described in the true sense of the word as ‘human prototypes’, ‘spirit-men’. Let us bear in mind, that certain of the Bull-, Lion-, and Eagle-spirits upon the Sun, during the Old Moon stage of evolution, had advanced beyond the rest; these now again prefer to take up their abode upon the Sun. These true spirit-men constituted the spiritual counterpart of evolving humanity down below on the Earth-plus-Moon. Now since the tendency to densify and harden had already set in with the beings on the old Moon, their descendants on Earth-plus-Moon showed the same tendency particularly strongly. In fact there now began for the severed portion consisting of Earth-plus-Moon a sad and dreary time. Above on the Sun ever more vigorous and active development, and ever fuller life. Below on the Earth sadness, desolation, and ever-increasing solidification.
Separation of Moon
Something now happened failing which evolution would have come to a standstill: our present Moon detached itself from the common cosmic body (Earth-plus-Moon) and our planet, the Earth, remained behind. With the Moon were withdrawn the coarser substances which would have led to a complete hardening of the Earth, had they remained in it. Thus at the beginning of our Earth evolution, the Earth was united with the present Sun and Moon. Had the Earth remained with the Sun, man would never have reached his present stage of evolution. He could not have kept pace with the rate of development required by the beings on the Sun. Indeed, the being evolving on the Sun was not man, as he lives on Earth; it was man's spiritual prototype, of whom man, as he confronts us today, is but the image. On the other hand, had the Moon remained in the Earth, man would have withered up and become mummified. The Earth would have become waste and shriveled, and man would have found no possibility of development upon it. Instead of human bodies as they now appear, lifeless statues and withered human forms, growing out of the soil, would have appeared on Earth. That was prevented when the Moon detached itself and went out into cosmic space, taking with it the coarser substances. With this event it became possible for the Ego to be suitably added to the physical, etheric, and astral bodies, which the descendants of the old Moon beings already possessed. The forces of Sun and Moon now worked from outside, holding the balance and enabling man to be fructified by the ‘I’.
Man now developed apace on Earth. Though a deterioration and a downward tendency had been inherited from the old Moon, a new impulse now gave development an upward trend. During this time the spiritual beings who had departed with the Sun evolved there to ever higher states.
Let us imagine that we have a block of iron beside us, and say that we are men of average strength. We shower blows on the iron and try to beat it flat. But we can give it no form. We cannot form it until we have softened the substance by smelting. Something of this kind happened to the Earth when it was freed of its densest substances at the departure of the moon.
The Earth-beings could now be formed, and the Sun-beings intervened once more. (during the Old Moon stage, they had already acted as Group-souls from the Sun upon the Moon below.) Before the separation of the Moon, the substances were too dense. These beings now made their influence felt as forces which by degrees fashioned and completed the human body in its present form.
Suppose that you had been able to take up a position on that old sphere composed of Earth-plus-Moon. You would have seen the spiritual beings whom we have described above. You would have observed on the Earth a hardening process, a growing desolation, and you might have said to yourself: ‘All around me is a waste; everything on Earth seems lifeless; the forces of the Sun have no power to influence what promises to become a huge graveyard filled with corpses.’ Then you would have watched how the body of the Moon detached itself from the Earth. The Earth's substance would have become soft, impressionable, plastic, and you then might have said to yourself: ‘Everything has grown soft and plastic; the forces proceeding from the Sun can now again work upon the Earth.’
Then you might have seen how the Bull-spirits regained their influence upon the human beings who were their counterpart; likewise the Lion- and Eagle-spirits. And you might have said: ‘The Moon is outside; its harmful influence is modified by its removal and now works only from a distance. The Earth is thus enabled once more to experience the activity of the spiritual beings.’
and then the beginning of John's gospel is mapped to the evolution described
•The sublime power which, during the evolution on Saturn, furnishes the germ of the human body form out of cosmic Chaos, is called by the writer of the Gospel of St. John the Logos.
•The element which appeared on the Sun and united itself to the first bodily form, he calls Life; it is what we call accordingly etheric or life body.
•The element added on the Moon, he calls Light; for this is the spiritual light, the astral light. This astral light causes a densification on the Moon, but a spiritualization on the separate Sun. This spiritualized element could evolve further, and did so evolve. And when the Sun again separated, the force evolved during the third evolution (Moon) now shone into men; but man was not yet able to behold that which shone into him from the Sun. It worked upon man as a force and formed him, but man could not behold it.
- The essential nature of the Saturn evolution, as we have clearly understood it, we now express in the words of St. John: ‘In the beginning was the Logos.’
- We now pass to the Sun. When we express the fact that whatever originated on Saturn was further developed on the Sun, we say: The etheric body was added: ‘And the Logos was the Life.’
- On the Moon the astral being was added, both of a corporal and of a spiritual nature: ‘In the enlivened Logos was Light.’ The light developed further; on the one hand, to the light of clairvoyance and, on the other, with man to darkness. For when he should have received the Light, man, being darkness, comprehended it not.
Thus when we throw light from the Akashic records upon the Gospel of St. John, we read of the evolution of the world as follows:
In the beginning, during the Old Saturn evolution, everything arose out of the Logos. During the Old Sun evolution, there was Life in the Logos; and from out of the living Logos, during the Old Moon evolution, there arose Light. And from out of the Logos filled with Light and Life, there arose, on the Old Sun, during Earth evolution, Light in a more glorious form, but Man fell into a state of darkness.
From the Sun, the beings who were the advanced Bull-, Lion-, Eagle-, and human-spirits shone down as Light upon the Earth into the developing human forms. But these were darkness; they could not comprehend the Light that shone down upon them. (We must not confound this Light with physical light; this Light consisted of the combined radiations of the spiritual beings, the Bull-, Lion-, Eagle-, and human-spirits who represented the spiritual evolution on the Moon in continued form.)
This Light that streamed down was spiritual Light. Men could not receive it; they could not comprehend it; their whole evolution was furthered by it, but they were unconscious of its presence.
‘The Light shone in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not.’
Such are the exemplary words of the writer of the Gospel of St. John, when he places before us those great truths. .. An understanding between ourselves and the men of former times is thereby afforded; we behold these men, as it were, eye to eye, and say to them: ‘We recognize and know you;’ for the things which they knew we find again in spiritual science.
is about 'individuality and the Group soul' from a past perspective
Looking at past epochs of human evolution, we can also see that the closer we come to the ancient clairvoyance, the more the human soul has the character of what we can call “group-soulness.” I have often pointed out that consciousness of this group-soulness existed preeminently among the ancient Hebrews. A person who consciously felt himself to be a member of this people understood, “As an individual human being, I am a transitory phenomenon, but there lives in me something that has an immediate connection with all the soul essence that has streamed down since the days of our progenitor, Abraham.” In esoteric terms, we can describe these feelings of the Hebrew people as a spiritual phenomenon. We will better understand what happened there if we look at the following.
Let us consider a Hebrew initiate of that time. Although initiation was not so frequent among the ancient Hebrews as among other peoples, we can characterize such a real initiate — that is, one initiated not just into theories and the law, but one who really saw into the spiritual worlds — only by taking into consideration the peculiarity of the Hebrew people as a whole. Nowadays, historians, who are concerned only with documents, check the Old Testament against all kinds of external records and find it unsubstantiated. We will have occasion to point out that the Old Testament gives us facts more faithfully than external historical records. In any case, spiritual science shows that the blood relationship of the Hebrews to Abraham can really be proven, and that their claim on Abraham as their original progenitor is fully justified. It was known particularly in the ancient Hebrew Mystery schools that the individuality or psychic essence of Abraham did not incarnate only in him, but is an eternal being existing in the spiritual world.
In fact, all true initiates among the Hebrews were inspired by the same spirit that inspired Abraham; they could call upon that spirit and were permeated by the same soul nature as Abraham. There was a real connection between every initiate and the tribal ancestor Abraham. This connection was expressed also in the feelings of the individuals belonging to the Hebrew people. They felt that what came to expression in Abraham was the group-soul of the people.
Group-souls were also experienced in the same way by other peoples of that time. Humanity in general goes back to group-souls. The farther back we go in human evolution, the less developed we find the individuality. Instead, a whole group belonged together as a unit, as is the case in the animal kingdom. This “groupness” is more and more pronounced the farther back we go into ancient times. Groups of human beings then belonged together, and the group-soul was considerably stronger than the individual soul.
Even today human group-soulness is still not overcome. Those who claim the opposite merely fail to take into account certain subtler phenomena of life, such as the resemblance of certain people not only in their physiognomies but also in their soul qualities. In a sense, people can be divided into categories, and everyone will fit into one of them. Individuals may differ as to this or that quality but a certain group-soulness still makes itself felt and not only because there are still different peoples. The boundaries between the nations continue to disintegrate, but other groupings are still perceptible. Thus certain basic characteristics are combined in individuals in such a way that the last vestiges of group-soulness can still be perceived today.
We are now living in a period of transition. All group-soulness must gradually be stripped off. Just as the differences between nations are gradually disappearing, and the factions within them come to understand each other better, so also will other group-soul qualities have to be shed. Instead, the individual nature of each person will be pushed to the fore. We have here characterized something essential in evolution. From another point of view, we can also say that in the course of evolution the concept of race, by which group-soulness is chiefly expressed, gradually loses its significance.
If we go back beyond the Atlantean catastrophe, we see how human races were prepared. In the ancient Atlantean age, human beings were grouped according to external bodily characteristics even more so than in our time. The races we distinguish today are merely vestiges of these significant differences between human beings in ancient Atlantis. The concept of race is only fully applicable to Atlantis. Because we are dealing with the real evolution of humanity, we have therefore never used this concept of race in its original meaning. Thus, we do not speak of an Indian race, a Persian race, and so on, because it is no longer true or proper to do so. Instead, we speak of an Indian, a Persian, and other periods of civilization. And it would make no sense at all to say that in our time a sixth “race” is being prepared. Though remnants of ancient Atlantean differences, of ancient Atlantean group-soulness, still exist and the division into races is still in effect, what is being prepared for the sixth epoch is precisely the stripping away of race. That is essentially what is happening.
Therefore, in its fundamental nature, the anthroposophical movement, which is to prepare the sixth period, must cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions and differences between various groups of people. The old point of view of race has a physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.
and a future perspective
We really touch the innermost core of a person through what we cultivate in anthroposophical discussions, even if what we say appears to be abstract. We penetrate right into the human soul, and because of that, we can free people from group-soulness. Because we penetrate into their souls, they become increasingly able to really understand themselves as an I.
Interestingly, the difference between those who come to anthroposophy and really embrace it and those who do not is that the I of the former is as if crystallized into a spiritual being through anthroposophical thinking, a spiritual being that is then carried along through the gate of death. The others, who do not practice anthroposophical thinking, have a hollow space, a nothingness in the place where the I is now in physical life and after death. Any other concepts we can take in nowadays will gradually become more and more immaterial for the true core of the human soul. The central essence of the human being will be touched and understood only by the anthroposophical thoughts we take in. These crystallize a spiritual substance in us that we can take with us after death and that enables us to perceive in the spiritual world, to see and hear, and to penetrate the darkness that would otherwise exist there for us. Thus, it becomes possible that we can take the I we have developed through the anthroposophical outlook and concepts — the I that is connected to all the wisdom in the world we can receive — with us into the next incarnation. Then we will be reborn in the next incarnation with this developed I, and we will be able to remember it.
It is the deeper task of the anthroposophical movement to enable a number of human beings to enter their next incarnation with an I each remembers as his or her own, individual I. These people will then form the nucleus of the next period of civilization. Then these individuals who have been well prepared through the anthroposophical spiritual movement to remember their individual I will be spread over the earth. For the essential characteristic of the next period of civilization is that it will not be limited to particular localities, but will be spread over the whole earth. These individuals will be scattered over the earth, and thus everywhere on earth there will be a core group of people who will be crucial for the sixth epoch of civilization. These people will recognize each other as those who in their previous incarnation strove together to develop the individual I. That is the proper cultivation of that soul faculty we have spoken of
This soul faculty will be so developed that more and more people who have not developed their I will also be able to remember their former incarnations. However, they will not remember an individual I, but only the group-I in which they had remained. In summary, people who are working in this incarnation to develop their individual I will be able to remember themselves as this or that independent individuality; they will be able to look back at the individuality they were. People who have not developed their individuality will be unable to remember any individuality.
Do not think that mere visionary clairvoyance will enable you to remember your previous I. Humanity was once clairvoyant, and if that in itself sufficed, then everyone would have remembered because all were clairvoyant. Thus, what matters is not clairvoyance; people will indeed be clairvoyant in the future. Rather, what matters is whether we have cultivated our I in this incarnation or not. If we have not cultivated it, the I will not be there as the innermost human essence, and we will remember only a group-I, only what we had in common with others. In that case we will have to look back and admit that we did not free ourselves from the group-I in this incarnation. People to whom this happens will experience it as though it were a new Fall, a second Fall of humanity, a falling back into a conscious connection with the group-soul. Not to remember oneself as an individuality and to be hemmed in by one's inability to transcend group-soulness will be something terrible in the sixth epoch. To put it bluntly, we can say that the earth and all it can yield will belong to those who now cultivate their individualities. Those, however, who do not develop their individual I will be dependent on joining a group that will instruct them in what they should think, feel, will, and do. In the future development of humanity this will be felt as a regression, a second Fall. Therefore, we should not regard the anthroposophical movement and spiritual life as mere theory but rather as something that is given to us now to prepare what is necessary for the future of humanity.
When we understand our present condition correctly — understand where we have come from and where we are going — then we must realize that humanity is now beginning to develop the ability to remember beyond the limits of the present incarnation. What matters now is that we develop it in the right way, that is, by developing our individual I. For we can remember only what we have created in our soul. If we have not created it, we are left only with the fettering memory of a group I, and we will feel this as a falling back into a group-soul of higher animality, as it were. Even if human group-souls are more refined than those of the animals, they are still group-souls. People of an earlier age would not have considered this a regression because they were just in the process of developing from group-soulness to the individual soul. However, if group-soulness is retained today, people will consciously experience this falling back into group-soulness. In the future, this will create an oppressive feeling in those who cannot catch up with the development of the individual I either in the present incarnation or a later one; they will feel their falling back into group-soulness.
Anthroposophy must help people keep pace with this development of the I; that is how we have to see anthroposophy and its place in human life. When we keep in mind that the sixth period is that of the first complete overcoming of the concept of race, we have to realize that it would be sheer fantasy to think that a sixth “race” will also start in a particular place on earth and develop like the earlier races. After all, that is what progress is all about: ever new ways of evolution appear, and concepts that were valid for earlier times will no longer apply in the future. If we do not realize this, the idea of progress will remain unclear for us. And we will again and again fall back into the error of speaking about so and so many cycles, worlds, races of evolution, and so on. It is unclear why this wheel of cycles, worlds, and races should keep turning. We must realize that the word “race” is a term that was valid only for a particular time. As we approach the sixth epoch, this term loses its meaning.
In future, what speaks to the depths of the human soul will be expressed increasingly in people's outer appearance. What people have acquired as individuals and yet experienced non-individually will be expressed in their countenance. Thus, the individuality of a person — not the group-soulness — will be inscribed on his or her countenance, and that is what will account for human diversity. Everything will be acquired individually, although it will only be gained through overcoming the individuality. Those who are in the process of developing the I will not form groups, but their individuality will be expressed in their external appearance. That is what will create differences between human beings.
There will be people who have acquired I-hood; they will be scattered over the earth, and their countenances will be very diverse. Yet, in this diversity the individual I is expressing itself even in the person's gestures. However, those who have not developed their individuality will bear the imprint of group-soulness in their countenances; that is, they can be grouped in categories that will resemble each other. That will be the outer physiognomy of our earth: the possibility will be prepared to bear one's individuality as an outer sign or to bear the outer sign of group-soulness. It is the meaning of earthly evolution for human beings to develop more and more the ability to express their inner being in their outer appearance. That is why the highest ideal of the evolution of the I, Christ Jesus, is described as follows in an ancient document: “When two become one, when the outer becomes like the inner, then human beings have attained Christ nature in themselves.” That is the meaning of a certain passage in the so-called Egyptian Gospel. [ see Note 3 ] One can understand such passages on the basis of anthroposophical wisdom.
Today we have attempted to understand the task of anthroposophy out of the depth of our insight. Next time we will consider a spiritual problem that is of special concern to the individual and that can lead us to understand our destiny and our true nature
describes how the form of the Human physical body was moulded through the merger of the group soul influences (SWCC)
The zoologists and the naturalists will one day be very astonished to find how complicated has really been the formation out of the spiritual world of all that they represent by their abstract and tidy genealogical trees, from a certain aspect quite correctly. The relationships which they quite rightly recognise have been brought about as the result of very complicated currents arising from widely different spiritual directions. Actually it is quite wrong to describe the animals which are known in zoology as mammals as the Darwinists do. It is quite wrong to believe that one can draw a straight line from the very simplest mammals to the most complicated. In two different species of mammal very different formative forces are at work. The mammals which we have around us and which belong to the category of the ruminants — mainly domestic animals as you know — have in the course of their development been subjected to quite different spiritual conditions from, for example, the feline, the lion-like animals. We have to think of the spiritual forces as working specifically upon the group-souls of the animals and through the group-souls upon their physical forms.
- .. the influences which worked during the Lemurian time, and which also worked upon the human being, are connected with what worked as formative force upon our ruminants, influences which esotericism summarises under the symbol of the bull. All this began at that time to exercise an influence upon Man himself, working into his formation as if from the depths of the Earth towards its surface. You must not be shocked if I say that if nothing else had worked upon man he would in his external form have resembled the bull. If these forces alone had worked upon man their effect would have been to make him like a bull.
- The influences which resulted in the lion species did not begin to work upon the Earth until the approach of the Atlantean epoch and during that time, and these influences reached the Earth as if driven outward from its centre towards its surface. [After and besides the bull influences] .. little by little other forces working from within the Earth outwards laid hold of the human organisation. They are the same forces which exercised the main influence upon the other order of mammals. In esotericism these influences are summarised under the name lion. These forces enter into Earth evolution somewhat later. If the earlier forces had not been there, if these forces alone had worked upon man, his appearance would have resembled that of the lion, with all the characteristics of the leonine organisation.
The complex human form has come into existence because it has been influenced not only by one current, but by several currents one after another.
You can now form some idea of why the animals resembling the bull remained bull-like, and those resembling the lion became lion-like; it is because the shadowy forms which underlay them were not organised in the same way as the pre-Lemurian phantoms of human beings had been. As a result of their preceding Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon evolutions the human phantoms were so organised that they always waited for the right moment, that they allowed a variety of successive streams to work upon them one after another, in order that one stream should neutralise the other and thereby bring about a higher harmony. A bull would not remain a bull were the lion nature to work upon it and to modify its structure. The human being approached the Earth in such a way as to enable all these influences to work upon him.
- It was not until Atlantis that something else happened which will throw a flood of light upon zoology when once it is recognised and made fruitful for external science. During the course of the Atlantean epoch quite other conditions came about. I have already said that these bull forces and these lion forces worked as if from the depths of the Earth towards its surface. The forces which were now to unite with these came from without, came from the periphery. During the Atlantean epoch we have to think of forces entering into Man and fashioning him from below upwards, and other forces from cosmic space flowing into him in the downward direction. Thus the human phantom again became exposed to fresh forces which now worked upon Man from another and opposite direction. To get an idea of what these forces are like which stream upon the Earth from cosmic space we must ask ourselves which are the creatures upon whom they worked with especial intensity, unhampered by other forces. We can point to certain creatures in our environment upon which the bull forces and the lion forces coming from within the Earth have little influence, upon which on the contrary the forces working into the substance of the Earth from cosmic space are almost exclusively active. They are the creatures belonging to the bird kingdom. Our abstract zoology will one day be very much astonished to have to admit that the forces at work in the mammals are quite different from those which work mainly on the bird kingdom, and, in a broader field upon all things that propagate themselves by laying eggs outside their own bodies. In the case of all creatures in which reproduction takes place in this way, but especially in members of the bird kingdom, forces streaming in from cosmic space are predominantly at work. In esotericism these forces are comprised under the name eagle.
Now if we think of these forces, which come to expression pre-eminently in the formation of the bird world, as harmonised in man with the lion forces and the bull forces, so that they all become part of the original phantom, then this harmony results in the present-day human form. If you consider the totally different world of the birds, you will not long be in any doubt that the whole structure of the bird is completely different from that of the mammal. Today I will not go into the structure of the other members of the animal kingdom. In the structure of the bird there is something very striking, even to clairvoyant sight. Whereas in the case of the mammals, wherever we turn our clairvoyant gaze, we find the astral body very strongly developed, in the case of the birds the most outstanding feature which meets the clairvoyant eye is the etheric body. For example, it is the etheric body, stimulated by cosmic forces coming in from space, which brings to expression the feathers, the plumage. The plumage is formed from without, and a feather can only come into being because the forces which work down upon the Earth from cosmic space are stronger than the forces coming from the Earth. The framework of the feather, what one may call its quill or spine, is of course subject to certain forces coming from the Earth, but it is the cosmic forces which contribute what is attached to the quill and constitute the bird's plumage.
... [section on feathers vs hair and underlying forces] ...
Let us suppose that a man endowed with the ancient clairvoyance wanted — not simply to describe Man, who really distorts the several streams which flow into him by harmonising them — but precisely to make manifest these different currents, he would have to say: ‘Something forms the foundation of the human being which cannot be seen physically, the archetypal phantom which today only appears in physical form because man has harmonised the eagle, bull and lion influences.’
Anyone who wants to study the evolution of man must study Man's archetypal phantom as a super-sensible form. But in order to do this he would have to separate out again what has flowed together in Man. He would have to realise that an etheric shadow-form lies behind the whole of human development, and that into this there enters and intermingles a bull-influence, a lion-influence and a bird-influence, in such a way that in the finished man of today they are no longer to be distinguished.
Suppose a culture-epoch — for instance, that of ancient Egypt — were trying to represent human evolution, were trying to put before man the immense riddle of human evolution, then the real man, the archetypal phantom, which arose as the result of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, would have to remain invisible; but, as if out of the invisible, a composite figure would have to be formed, put together out of the forms of bull and lion, with wings such as an eagle has, such as birds in general have. If you recall the all-embracing significance of the figure of the Sphinx, which was intended to represent the great riddle of human evolution, then you have in fact what a clairvoyant culture, which was inwardly aware of the truth about humanity, put before this humanity. The features which stand out separately in the Sphinx are in human nature inwardly interwoven. For clairvoyant sight the human form has a very strange appearance. If one allows such a sphinx, made up of a lion-form and a bull-form, together with the wings of a bird, to work upon the clairvoyant vision, and if one completes it by adding the human phantom which underlies it, if one weaves these elements together, then the human form as we have it today comes into being before us. The clairvoyant consciousness cannot then look upon a sphinx - which to begin with does not resemble a Man at all - without saying to himself: ‘Thou art I myself!’
Now it should be noted that in the course of this study we have also thrown light upon the four members of man from another standpoint. A phantom, a shadow-form, designated in esotericism as Man, came over as the product of the Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon stages. In the process of the densification of this phantom the influences named in esotericism, lion, bull and eagle are at work. And here we have the four esoteric symbols which together make up the human being and which have a profound meaning for human evolution.
We have said that in the course of humanity's evolution on the Earth, forces from without, cosmic forces, were at work, both upon the human being himself, and upon other creatures, especially the bird creation. That in fact came about during the Atlantean epoch; so that one can say that an influence from cosmic space came down into those parts of the human organisation to which normal human consciousness no longer reaches. This influence was at work in the Atlantean epoch and also continued in the Postatlantean epoch. This was the current coming from what I called yesterday the upper gods, the gods who were in a sense the representations of the sub-earthly, the Chthonic gods. They are Beings who were encountered by the pupils of the Greek Mysteries, who had to wrestle with the great riddle of the Sphinx. They had to behold the unconscious part of the human being in such a way that through self-knowledge they also arrived at the four-foldness of humanity.
What since the time of Atlantis had streamed into the subconscious from cosmic space, even into its baser elements, now at the Baptism by John in the Jordan began to flow into man's higher, more purified parts. That is a most significant event. These forces from cosmic space which since the Atlantean epoch have worked continuously upon the formation of the Earth and of humanity, begin to stream in the purest way not only into the unconscious part of the human being, but in such a way that they can influence consciousness. That is why a pictorial image, one of the great symbols which have come down to us through occult and religious scriptures — the symbol of the dove, which we find in the Gospels — had to make its appearance.
Second apocalypic seal - five group souls of humanity
The second seal portrays the so-called apocalyptic animals: the lion, the eagle, the bull, and the human being.
We get an idea of them when we remind ourselves that the animal today does not have the same sort of "I"-soul as we do. The animal does not have its I-soul on the physical plane; the individual animal has the same relationship to the "I" of a group as a member of the human being has to the whole "I." Therefore, we speak of a group soul with the animal; when you look for this group soul, you find it on the astral plane. Human beings also went through evolutionary conditions in which their being an the physical plane did not yet have the "I"-soul, and in which they had a group soul. At the same point in time, the Lemurian epoch, when the soul descended into physical embodiment, the group soul changed into the individual soul.
In the far future, human beings will again raise themselves up to the group soul, but consciously, in a higher sense.
The second seal is the symbol of that higher group soul. The unity in the far future is portrayed through the outer forms of those group souls that humanity had earlier. These group souls, out of which proceeded the human individual soul and to which we will again return, are divided into four archetypal groups. They are four astral groups. The first is characterized in the group soul that is embodied today as the rudiments of the bull-soul, another as the lion-soul, and the third as the bird-soul. The fourth soul, which lifted the human being, bringing it into individuality, is designated as the human being. Out of these four group souls the human being arose and into them the human being will again return.
We see in the symbol in the middle of the seal, surrounded by the four soul groups, the group soul that is the most advanced and which is individualized as the human soul on the astral plane. It is the Christ-soul, symbolized by the lamb. The Christ-soul completes the four other group souls.
In the rainbow that surrounds the whole in seven colors, the creative cosmic principle is pictured. It is the sevenfold creative principle that lies at the foundation of the inner course of human evolution, at the stage of evolution represented by this seal.
In connection with the numerals I to XII, which are to be read like the numbers of a clock imposed on the colors of the rainbow, we must remember that once the Earth, Moon, and Sun were one body. This unity is connected with the conditions portrayed here. This form of the cosmic order was necessary so that the human being could have a group soul. Our present division of time is connected with the position of the cosmic bodies. In the primordial past, when there was not yet an Earth circling the Sun, all time relationships were different. At that time there was no day and hour. The Sun itself went its way, and there was a great cosmic dial. This dial represented the places that the Sun passed. The hour hand on our clocks circles the dial two times each day; thus, in that ancient cosmic calendar, the Sun passed through the zodiac not once, but twice: through a time of light and a time of darkness. This twofold passing, the twofold traveling through these stations, is called "passing by the Elder Brothers of the cosmic order." They are the twenty-four Elders of the Apocalypse. Hence we have here a kind of cosmic dock.
When you compare the human being with the animal, the difference presents itself in such a way that one must say that the individual human being has something that the individual animal does not have. The human being has an individual soul, and the animal has a group soul. Each human being is a whole animal species unto himself or herself. All lions, for example, have only one soul together. These group "I" beings are just like the human "I," but they are not descended into the physical world; they are to be found in the astral world. Here an the Earth, you see human beings, each of whom bears his or her own "I." In the astral world, you meet in astral matter beings that are like you; they are not in physical sheaths but rather in astral sheaths. You can talk with them as with your own kind, those are the animal group souls.
The human being, too, had a group soul in earlier times. Only gradually did we evolve to our present-day independence. These group souls were originally in the astral world and then descended to live in the flesh. When we examine the original group souls of the human being in the astral world, we find four kinds from which the human being came. If we wanted to compare these four types to the group souls of today's animal species, we must say that one compares to the lion, another to the eagle, a third to the cow, and the fourth to the human of olden times, before the "I" descended.
In the second seal, the apocalyptic animals - the lion, eagle, cow, and human - portray an earlier evolutionary condition of the human being. Then there is, and will continue to be, as long as the Earth will be, a group soul for the higher revelation of the human being. This is represented by the lamb, the mystical lamb, which is the symbol of the Savior.
The second seal portrays the five group souls—the four of the human being around the great group soul that belongs to all human beings in common.
If we look back to the time of the original group souls of Atlantis and then into the future we see these four group souls appearing again. The lamb will stand in the middle as a sign for the love that will unite people who will then be living in a bodily nature that is less dense. But this state must be prepared today through the setting aside of a small group that will carry brotherly love into the future. Therefore, a stream has arisen in our time that will lead to brotherly love through real spiritual knowledge. Humankind will not attain brotherly love through preaching but rather through knowledge. Preachers who constantly speak of love achieve nothing. But if people are given wisdom, knowledge of evolution, in such a way that it becomes life in the soul, then humanity will arrive at love. The soul can attain this when it is warmed by wisdom. Then it can radiate love.
Descent of souls to incarnate on earth
see also: Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution
recapitulates evolution and talks about the descent of spiritual beings come down to earth
Let us once more consider evolution before the Moon's exit. We referred to Man as the first born of creation, for he appeared during Saturn. The Sun brought the animal kingdom, the Moon the vegetable kingdom, and finally the mineral kingdom came into existence on the Earth. But now, subsequently to the Moon's expulsion, things became different. The Earth was saved from mummification by the exit of the Moon. Everything then revived and was rejuvenated. What was the manner of this rejuvenation?
The lowest of the kingdoms, the mineral, required little help. The vegetable kingdom was in a sense withered, but could soon revive; the animal kingdom, too, was capable of gradual progress. The human beings were the last to recover so as to be fit to receive the souls which descended upon them from the highest regions. Thus, through the expulsion of the Moon, the whole process of evolution becomes reversed. Whereas originally the human kingdom was first to come into existence, then the animal kingdom, later the plants, and last of all the minerals — the mineral kingdom is now the first to show the full benefit of the rejuvenating forces; then follows the vegetable kingdom, which develops to its highest forms; next the animal kingdom, leaving the human kingdom last in order to evolve to the highest forms possible to it. After the exit of the Moon, the whole sense of evolution is reversed. The beings who wait longest before uniting their spiritual to their physical form, were precisely those who, in the highest sense of the word, ascended to a more spiritual sphere after the separation of the Moon. Others who completed their spiritual development earlier, remained behind on the Earth at an earlier stage. After the separation of the Moon the laggards appeared first. You will easily understand the reason. Let us consider some human soul or some being which was unwilling to incarnate earlier owing to the prevailing hardening of substance. In the words of our language, such a being might deliberate as follows: ‘Shall I incarnate now or shall I wait awhile?’ Let us suppose that the Moon was only a short while separated and the substances still very hard. The being is in a hurry to incarnate; it descends at all costs and puts up with the still undeveloped bodies. As a result it is condemned to remain upon a lower level. Another being might reflect as follows: ‘I prefer to wait awhile in universal space, till the Earth has still further refined and rarefied its physical being.’ This being waits for a later epoch and, as a result, succeeds in giving form and shape to the body in which it incarnates, and makes it a physical image of itself. Hence all beings who incarnate too soon must remain upon subordinate stages; others who can wait, attain the highest stages. Our higher animals remained upon the animal stage because they were unable to wait long enough after the exit of the Moon. They put up with such bodies as were available. The next to descend formed their bodies up to the level of the inferior human races, which are already extinct or are dying out. Then followed a time when the right moment was at hand for the union of souls and bodies, and when beings were brought forth which were really capable of human development. Thus we see the desolation of the Earth until the Moon's exit, followed by a revival after that event. Thenceforward the beings who had left the Earth because of its excessive deterioration, descend once more. This applies not only to the beings who are exclusively concerned with the development of higher humanity, but also to others who descend for quite other purposes. In this case, too, it is essential for a being to await the right moment to enter a body.
Let us go back to the Indian epoch. At that time there were men at a high stage of development. Even as souls descending from Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter sought suitable bodies, higher beings sought still more highly developed bodies in order to work in the inner nature of man. Let us take the great teachers of the ancient Indians, the holy Rishis. They placed a part of their being at the disposal of certain higher beings, who took up their abode in them. Other high beings, however, said: ‘No, we shall wait awhile until there are other beings down there who are themselves experiencing a higher development; we prefer not to descend; we remain above until men have further matured their soul; then we shall descend; for the present we find the inner nature of man but little prepared for us.’
In the Persian period certain higher beings said: ‘We can now descend into the human nature in its present stage of development.’
The same thing happened in Egyptian times. But He who was the highest of all the Sun Beings still waited. From without, this Being sent down His forces upon the holy Rishis. They looked up to Him whom they called Vishva Karman, saying: ‘Vishva Karman is beyond our sphere.’ But He waited, saying: ‘The human soul is not so perfectly prepared that I can abide therein.’
Then came the Persian period. Zarathustra looked up to the Sun and beheld Ahura Mazdao. And still this mighty Spirit refrained from descending into earthly space. Then came the Egyptian period and the civilization of the people which had waited longest. And then came the man who had waited longest, who had developed his inner nature through many incarnations. The Sun-Spirit looked down and beheld the inner nature of this man who dwelt in Jesus of Nazareth and who had made his soul ready. The highest Sun-Spirit looked down and said: ‘As the lowest beings once descended to build up the bodies, I now descend and take residence in the inner nature of the man who waited longest.’ To be sure higher beings had already united themselves with men; but he who had waited longest received into himself the Christ. At the Baptism in the Jordan he was so advanced that the Spirit who had hitherto sojourned in the realms of universal space, could descend upon him and unite with his inner nature. From the time of the Baptism by John, Christ dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, because the individuality of Jesus of Nazareth had waited through successive incarnations until it was ripe to receive this high Spirit. The Christ-Spirit was always there; but after the separation of the Moon it was necessary that all beings should first attain a certain degree of maturity. The first to appear were the lowest beings which, as regards their spiritual part, had been least able to wait; then came beings of higher and higher grade. And when man appeared and his inner nature attained ever higher development — until at last Jesus of Nazareth was so far advanced — then he who had eyes to see could say: ‘I saw the Spirit descend!’ And he upon whom the Spirit descended, what could he say when the Spirit now within him gave utterance? For that Spirit was none other than He whom the Rishis knew as Vishva Karman. How must Vishva Karman have spoken of himself — not in the words of the Rishis but in his own words? For he is the great Sun-Spirit, who, as Spirit, is active in light. He would have said: ‘I am the light of the world!’ What would Ahura Mazdao have said, had he spoken of himself? ‘I am the light of the world!’ What were the words spoken by the same Spirit when a human being had become ready to receive Him into himself? He who was once in universal space, how does He now speak from out of a human being? ‘I am the light of the world!’
continues on this
This revival began simultaneously with the exit of the Moon. We find then, as we said yesterday, only a small number of human beings, and these consisted of the three principles they had acquired in the evolution of Saturn, Sun, and Moon. To these the first beginning of the Ego was added on earth. But at the time of the Moon's exit from the Earth, man did not yet exist in the fleshly substance which he assumed later. He was clothed in the finest substance of that age. In the Lemurian age our present minerals were largely still in a fluid state, being dissolved in other substances which, as fluids, exist separately today, for instance, water. The atmosphere was still permeated with dense vapours of the most various substances. Pure air, pure water in our sense of the word, did not exist at that time, or at any rate only to a very slight extent. The human being of those times cast his tenuous delicate body in the purest substances available. Had he used coarser substances, his body would have assumed a definite outline, and its form a sharply defined contour; the latter would have been bequeathed to his descendants and the human race would have remained stationary. Thus the coarse substances were inadmissible; indeed, man had to provide that the matter assumed by his body should freely move in accordance with the impulses of his soul. The matter in which man's body was cast at that time was so soft that it followed the impulse of his will in all directions. You can stretch out your hand today, but you cannot prolong it three yards by an act of will. You cannot subject matter to your will, because its present form is inherited. This was not the case at that time. Man could assume any form at will; he could cast the form as his soul willed. It was conditional to his further development that, after the Moon's exit, he should incarnate in the softest substances, so that his body remained plastic and flexible, and followed the soul in every respect. Then came the time in which certain parts of matter which are so necessary for our present existence — water and air — were gradually purged of the denser matter they contained, so that the substances which were initially dissolved in the water, now separated from it. As substances in solution fall when the water cools, the dissolved substances fell, as it were, to the Earth's crust. The water became clear and the air was freed from matter; air and water came into existence. Man was able to use this refined matter for the formation of his body. This third (Lemurian) period gradually led to an epoch which we call ‘Atlantean’ because the chief part of the human race then lived on a now submerged continent which extended between America and Europe and Africa — the area now covered by the Atlantic Ocean. When the Lemurian period had lasted a while, humanity pursued its development on the Atlantean continent. Here everything took place which I am about to describe, as well as much that was mentioned yesterday.
Only very few of the human souls who incarnated later, were present at the time of the Moon's exit, for these souls were then distributed over the various planets. They descended again during the late Lemurian and early Atlantean times. Few human beings, as I said, had lived through the crisis of the Lemurian epoch, for only the strongest souls could reside in the hardened substance, and survive the Moon crisis.
But when the substance began to soften, after the Moon's exit, and when descendants were produced who were not confined within a hard and fast, inherited form, but were flexible, the souls gradually descended from the various planets and took possession of the bodies. The forms, however, which became physical soon after the Moon's exit, retained their fixed form through inheritance, and were therefore unable to receive into themselves human souls, even after the Moon's exit.
We can readily imagine what took place when these souls experienced the desire to descend to the Earth. Down below forms of every description (the offspring of the forms which had survived the Moon crisis) were to be seen, and among these all stages of densification were to be found. The human souls, indeed all soul-beings, who felt least impelled to unite themselves entirely with matter, chose the most plastic of the forms and abandoned them soon after.
On the other hand, the other soul-beings who united themselves thus early with the hardened forms, were imprisoned in them, and consequently remained behind in their development. The animals nearest to man came into existence in consequence of the descent from space of souls who were unwilling to wait; they sought the bodies on Earth too early and turned them into hard and fast forms before they were fully penetrated by the etheric body. The human form, however, remained plastic until it could perfectly adapt itself to the etheric body. It was in this way that the coincidence of the physical and etheric bodies, of which I have spoken, came about; it was accomplished roughly in the last third of the Atlantean period. Prior to this, the human soul, having descended, retained the body in a fluid state and took care that the etheric body did not mingle completely with any part of the physical body. The interpenetration of the physical and etheric bodies took place at quite a definite point of time. Not until the Atlantean period did the human physical body begin to assume a definite form and to harden. Now had nothing else happened during Atlantean evolution, had no new factor intervened, human development would have taken another course. Man would have passed somewhat rapidly from an earlier to a later state of consciousness. Before the complete union of his soul with his physical body, man was a clairvoyant being, but his clairvoyance was dull and shadowy. He could behold the spiritual world but he could not say ‘I’ to himself; he could not distinguish himself from his environment. He was without consciousness of himself. The latter first appeared when the physical and etheric bodies became united. And had nothing else happened, the result would have been as follows.
talks about the different streams of cosmic and earthly influences and how they meet (Eagle, Bull, Lion currents - and how these come together in Man)
We have to think of the spiritual forces as working specifically upon the group-souls of the animals and through the group-souls upon their physical forms.
- The influences which resulted the lion species did not begin to work upon the Earth until the approach of the Atlantean time and during that time, and these influences reached the Earth as if driven outward from its centre towards its surface.
- But the influences which worked during the Lemurian time — and which also worked upon the human being — are connected with what worked as formative force upon our ruminants, influences which esotericism summarises under the symbol of the bull. All this began at that time to exercise an influence upon man himself, working into his formation as if from the depths of the Earth towards its surface.
You must not be shocked if I say that if nothing else had worked upon man he would in his external form have resembled the bull. If these forces alone had worked upon man their effect would have been to make him like a bull.
But little by little other forces working from within the Earth outwards laid hold of the human organisation. They are the same forces which exercised the main influence upon the other order of mammals. In esotericism these influences are summarised under the name lion. These forces enter into Earth evolution somewhat later. If the earlier forces had not been there, if these forces alone had worked upon man, his appearance would have resembled that of the lion, with all the characteristics of the leonine organisation. The complex human form has come into existence because it has been influenced not only by one current, but by several currents one after another.
You can now form some idea of why the animals resembling the bull remained bull-like, and those resembling the lion became lion-like; it is because the shadowy forms which underlay them were not organised in the same way as the preLemurian Phantoms of human beings had been. As a result of their preceding Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions the human Phantoms were so organised that they always waited for the right moment, that they allowed a variety of successive streams to work upon them one after another, in order that one stream should neutralise the other and thereby bring about a higher harmony. A bull would not remain a bull were the lion nature to work upon it and to modify its structure. The human being approached the Earth in such a way as to enable all these influences to work upon him.
- It was not until Atlantis that something else happened which will throw a flood of light upon zoology when once it is recognised and made fruitful for external science. During the course of the Atlantean epoch quite other conditions came about. I have already said that these bull forces and these lion forces worked as if from the depths of the Earth towards its surface. The forces which were now to unite with these came from without, came from the periphery. During Atlantis we have to think of forces entering into man and fashioning him from below upwards, and other forces from cosmic space flowing into him in the downward direction. Thus the human Phantom again became exposed to fresh forces which now worked upon man from another, and an opposite, direction.
To get an idea of what these forces are like which stream upon the Earth from cosmic space we must ask ourselves which are the creatures upon whom they worked with especial intensity, unhampered by other forces. We can point to certain creatures in our environment upon which the bull forces and the lion forces coming from within the Earth have little influence, upon which on the contrary the forces working into the substance of the Earth from cosmic space are almost exclusively active. They are the creatures belonging to the bird kingdom. Our abstract zoology will one day be very much astonished to have to admit that the forces at work in the mammals are quite different from those which work mainly on the bird kingdom, and, in a broader field upon all things that propagate themselves by laying eggs outside their own bodies. In the case of all creatures in which reproduction takes place in this way, but especially in members of the bird kingdom, forces streaming in from cosmic space are predominantly at work. In esotericism these forces are comprised under the name eagle.
Now if we think of these forces, which come to expression pre-eminently in the formation of the bird world, as harmonised in man with the lion forces and the bull forces, so that they all become part of the original Phantom, then this harmony results in the present-day human form. If you consider the totally different world of the birds, you will not long be in any doubt that the whole structure of the bird is completely different from that of the mammal. Today I will not go into the structure of the other members of the animal kingdom. In the structure of the bird there is something very striking, even to clairvoyant sight. Whereas in the case of the mammals, wherever we turn our clairvoyant gaze, we find the astral body very strongly developed, in the case of the birds the most outstanding feature which meets the clairvoyant eye is the etheric body. For example, it is the etheric body, stimulated by cosmic forces coming in from space, which brings to expression the feathers, the plumage. The plumage is formed from without, and a feather can only come into being because the forces which work down upon the Earth from cosmic space are stronger than the forces coming from the Earth. The framework of the feather, what one may call its quill or spine, is of course subject to certain forces coming from the Earth, but it is the cosmic forces which contribute what is attached to the quill and constitute the bird's plumage.
It is quite different as regards creatures covered with hair. Forces working upward from the Earth, forces working in the opposite direction from those in the feathers of the birds, are predominantly at work in hair, and hair cannot become feather, because in the case of animals and men forces coming from cosmic space affect their hair but little. This seeming paradox fully expresses the reality, and if one cared to elaborate it one could say that every feather has the tendency to become a hair, but is not a hair because the forces of cosmic space work inward on the feather from all sides; and every hair has the tendency to become a feather, but does not become a feather because the forces which work from the Earth upwards are stronger than the forces which work from without inwards. If one takes such paradoxes seriously one discovers certain fundamental secrets in the constitution of our world.
Let us suppose that a man endowed with the ancient clairvoyance wanted — not simply to describe man, who really distorts the several streams which flow into him by harmonising them — but precisely to make manifest these different currents, he would have to say: ‘Something forms the foundation of the human being which cannot be seen physically, the archetypal Phantom which today only appears in physical form because man has harmonised the eagle, bull and lion influences.’ Anyone who wants to study the evolution of man must study man's archetypal Phantom as a super-sensible form. But in order to do this he would have to separate out again what has flowed together in man. He would have to realise that an etheric shadow-form lies behind the whole of human development, and that into this there enters and intermingles a bull-influence, a lion-influence and a bird-influence, in such a way that in the finished man of today they are no longer to be distinguished.
Suppose a culture-epoch — for instance, that of ancient Egypt — were trying to represent human evolution, were trying to put before man the immense riddle of human evolution, then the real man, the archetypal Phantom, which arose as the result of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, would have to remain invisible; but, as if out of the invisible, a composite figure would have to be formed, put together out of the forms of bull and lion, with wings such as an eagle has, such as birds in general have. If you recall the all-embracing significance of the figure of the Sphinx, which was intended to represent the great riddle of human evolution, then you have in fact what a clairvoyant culture, which was inwardly aware of the truth about humanity, put before this humanity. The features which stand out separately in the Sphinx are in human nature inwardly interwoven. For clairvoyant sight the human form has a very strange appearance. If one allows such a sphinx, made up of a lion-form and a bull-form, together with the wings of a bird, to work upon the clairvoyant vision, and if one completes it by adding the human Phantom which underlies it, if one weaves these elements together, then the human form as we have it today comes into being before us. The clairvoyant consciousness cannot then look upon a sphinx — which to begin with does not resemble a man at all — without saying to himself: ‘Thou art I myself!’
Now it should be noted that in the course of this study we have also thrown light upon the four members of man from another standpoint. A Phantom, a shadow-form, designated in esotericism as Man, came over as the product of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. In the process of the densification of this Phantom the influences named in esotericism, lion, bull and eagle are at work. And here we have the four esoteric symbols which together make up the human being and which have a profound meaning for human evolution.
We have said that in the course of humanity's evolution on the Earth, forces from without, cosmic forces, were at work, both upon the human being himself, and upon other creatures, especially the bird creation. That in fact came about during the Atlantean time; so that one can say that an influence from cosmic space came down into those parts of the human organisation to which normal human consciousness no longer reaches. This influence was at work in Atlantis, and of course it has also continued in the post-Atlantean time. This was the current coming from what I called yesterday the upper gods, the gods who were in a sense the representations of the sub-earthly, the Chthonic gods. They are Beings who were encountered by the pupils of the Greek Mysteries, who had to wrestle with the great riddle of the Sphinx. They had to behold the unconscious part of the human being in such a way that through self-knowledge they also arrived at the four-foldness of humanity.
What since the time of Atlantis had streamed into the subconscious from cosmic space, even into its baser elements, now at the Baptism by John in the Jordan began to flow into man's higher, more purified parts. That is a most significant event. These forces from cosmic space which since the time of Atlantis have worked continuously upon the formation of the Earth and of humanity, begin to stream in the purest way not only into the unconscious part of the human being, but in such a way that they can influence consciousness. That is why a pictorial image, one of the great symbols which have come down to us through occult and religious scriptures — the symbol of the dove, which we find in the Gospels — had to make its appearance.
How was it possible to describe this instreaming in its purest form from above? We know of course what took place in the Baptism in the Jordan. We know that at that time the threefold body of Jesus of Nazareth, which had been prepared through the two Jesus children, as is described in my little book The Spiritual Guidance of Man and of Mankind, was abandoned by its ego, which was the ego of Zarathustra, and on its departure there entered into this body the purest part of that stream which had been pouring in all the time from cosmic space, but hitherto only into that part of man which is today unconscious. Hence it was correctly symbolised in the form of a bird, the figure of the pure white dove, which represents as it were the purest extract of what in the ancient figure of the Sphinx was the eagle or cherubic element. That this cosmic stream should flow into the conscious part of the human being is essential to the perfection of humanity upon the Earth. In the picture of Jesus of Nazareth on the banks of the Jordan with the dove hovering over him we have in fact the expression of the Mystery which had now been brought to a certain conclusion.
Yesterday we were able to follow a little the cosmic history of this inward streaming from cosmic space. Why was this cosmic instreaming able to transmute itself into that Christpower, that Christ Impulse which, as it continues to work further upon the Earth, will permeate the human being completely? As man inwardly receives this Impulse he will more and more feel the truth of St. Paul's words ‘Not I, but Christ in me!’ As contrasted with the other three currents which were there as the outcome of earlier evolution, this new influence, which is the purest stream from above, will take hold of the human being, will encompass him to a greater and greater extent, will also liberate him ever more and more from what binds him to the Earth. Yesterday we spoke of the historical development of this stream and said that it was only able to be what it has in fact become because it had been prepared for upon the Old Sun.
See also Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension for the principle of the 'creation of a new center' based on common ideals.
References and further reading
- Sigismund von Gleich: 'De vogel Phönix, het centrale mysterie der Sufi en de wijsheid van Saba (NL, original in 'Mensch en Kosmos' 1937/38 nrs. 7 en 8)
- Stuart Nettleton: 'The Alchemy Key - The Mystical Provenance of the Philosophers' Stone' (1997)
- Joseph Nigg: The phoenix. An unnatural biography of a mythical beast (2016)
- a historical and bibliographical overview of the theme and symbol of the phoenix (not spiritual scientific)
- a historical and bibliographical overview of the theme and symbol of the phoenix (not spiritual scientific)