Group souls of humanity

From Anthroposophy

During the Old Moon planetary stage, the body of Old Moon split into two: a Sun' body that contained the finer substance and knew a faster evolution for certain spiritual beings, and an 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. 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 Moon, the situation on earth is such that prototype group souls hover above earth, and on earth we find the physical predecessor of current humanity.
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.

See also the Sphinx on Man past and future. The great Sphinx near the pyramid of Gizeh in Egypt is a symbol left by the Atlantean culture as a reference to this evolution and origin of Man.


  • origin of the group souls on Old Moon
  • current human group souls, and how they cyclically regenerate (hence 'phoenix') with a lifecycle of approx. 500 years (re 1907-12-27-GA101).
  • 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 groupings of souls
    • this is described as the last cultural age having a link to the characteristics of the first Ancient Indian cultural age where such caste system existed.
    • 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


FMC00.109 is the illustration of the the human group soul tree concept as was done in the Pythagorean school, also relevant for ancient memory and consciousness

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.


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 on Man past and future


FMC00.215 is an illustration by Rudolf Steiner titled 'group souls - human being', see Schema FMC00.283 above for correspondence.

Schema FMC00.177 shows the characteristics of the four groups or prototypes of humanity as linked to Human races


Lecture coverage and references

1908-06-01-GA102 talks about future groupings of souls

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.

1908-09-14-GA106 (SWCC)

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 ego 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 post-Atlanteans, 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.

1908-10-29-GA107 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.

1909-06-26-GA112 (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 Ego or ‘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 Saturn evolution, everything arose out of the Logos. During the Sun evolution, there was Life in the Logos; and from out of the living Logos, during the Moon evolution, there arose Light. And from out of the Logos filled with Light and Life, there arose, on the 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.

1909-12-04-GA117 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

Descent of souls to incarnate on earth

1909-06-27-GA112 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!’

1909-06-28-GA112 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.

1911-08-26-GA129 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.

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