From Anthroposophy

History as it is taught, is what Rudolf Steiner called a 'fable convenu', made up by Man in his current materialistic worldview. To make the link to understanding one needs to connect to realities, and this contains two perspectives (see Schema FMC00.059 below):

  • the difference between the official version of world events and history, and the truth, see 'the victor writes the history books', and 'the karma of untruthfulness'
  • the difference between what the 'materialistic world conception' (the worldview based on mineral science) believes as the mechanism of causal origin and result, versus the true underlying spiritual rhythms and realities underlying historical development

Various influences come into play, that have to be contemplated together:

  • the effect of the deceased, of souls between death and rebirth, is a major influence impacting happenings on Earth (1917-12-10-GA179)
  • Man influences and creates the future by contributions of the ether body that objectively separates from our Individuality after death and is incorporated into the whole process of history. (1916-10-02-GA171)
  • People working in groups feed up 'nourishment for the spiritual hierarchies' so as to fructify the souls that incarnate in the next cultural age and receive these seeds in their astral body (1915-06-15-GA159). More on this: Active soul participation#Note .5B1.5D - why are we doing this


  • importance of the evolution of consciousness in the various cultural ages and beyond, due to ever changing soul constitution of Man
  • Impulses from waves of reincarnating souls
    • describes the image of 'waves' of reincarnating souls bringing forth impulses (and not just a mechanistic view of reaction to action, consequence to cause in a materialistic worldview without impulses of the spirit), see Schema FMC00.059 below
  • influences of the souls in the spiritual world onto the physical world
    • the effect of the deceased, of souls between death and rebirth, is a major influence impacting happenings on Earth (1917-12-10-GA179)
  • influences of major impulses created during incarnate life
    • Man influences and creates the future by contributions of the ether body that objectively separates from our Individuality after death and is incorporated into the whole process of history. Example of the Templars Impulse is given. (1916-10-02-GA171). The ether body of Christian Rosenkreutz is also such example.
    • People working in groups feed up 'nourishment for the spiritual hierarchies' so as to fructify the souls that incarnate in the next cultural age, his way humanity advances by receiving the seeds in their astral body (1915-06-15-GA159). More on this is grouped on Active soul participation#Note .5B1.5D - why are we doing this
  • history is a fable convenu: it is written by as the storyline that serves 'the powers that be', and 'history is written by victors'. It is a reflection of the worldview, in the current cultural age the mechanistic worldview sees and tries to explain everything as reactions to previous actions in the physical material world only.
  • fact-based Clairvoyant research of akashic records

Significant rhythms and influences

Inspirational quotes

From 1919-11-29-GA194

I have often stated that what we call history today is really a fable convenue, a fable agreed upon, for the reason that the abstract recounting of events and the searching for cause and effect in historical processes in an external sense does not take into account the transformations, the metamorphoses of human soul life itself.


if it looks at history, spiritual science would have to pursue a symptomatology constituted from the fact that one is aware that behind what takes it course as the stream of physical-sensible facts lie the driving spiritual forces. But everywhere in historical development there are times when what has real being and essence (das eigentlich Wesenhafte) comes as a symptom to the surface and can be judged discerningly from the phenomena only if one has the possibility to penetrate more deeply from one's awareness of these phenomena into the depths of historical development.

More on: Christ Impulse - meeting of two streams#1920-10-17-GA200 From 1924-09-10-GA238

It is impossible to comprehend the inner motives of history and life unless we turn our gaze to that spiritual background which underlies the outer, physical happenings. Men do indeed describe as history the events that take place in the physical world, and they often say that this world-history represents causes and effects .. how is so great an illusion possible?

It is as though we saw a running stream of water throwing waves up on to the surface and tried to explain each successive wave as the result of the preceding one, whereas the forces bringing forth the waves are really penetrating upwards from below.

So it is indeed. That which takes place at any point of historic evolution or of human life in general is moulded out of the spiritual world, ..


Schema FMC00.059 positions history 'as we are told' to what can be read clairvoyantly as objective truth in the akashic records, and how true history is an emanation and expression of spiritual impulses that are carried by waves of reincarnating human souls.


Schema FMC00.398 is an illustration of secondary literature, see SoSoG, and how a topic such as History has been worked and enriched. In this example: Wilkinson's booklets take an entry-level teaching narrative and so are easy to rend entry points, Teichmann takes a perspective of the Mysteries (not in all his books), and so on. This illustrative example is of course not exhaustive and does not imply other historians would be any less important, this just shows how certain people have published multiple volumes (such as Heyer and von Gleich) making it a cornerstone of their lifetime contribution.


Lecture coverage and references

Coverage overview

The GA has an arc of seven cycles GA170 tot 174B called 'Cosmic and Human History'.

However the essential cycles to start with are the following 25 lectures:

  • 1916-GA171 - Inner Impulses of Evolution (7 lectures)
  • 1918-GA185 - From Symptom to Reality in Modern History (9 lectures)
  • 1923-GA233 - World history in the light of anthroposophy and as a foundation for knowledge of the human spirit (9 lectures)

Building on this, furthermore see also the GA17x volumes on the 20th century (and World War I):

Source extracts


Now, as I have pointed out to you, he who goes deeply into the events of the time should continually bear in mind that with so-called civilized humanity's present-day thinking and feeling, the social order can only be maintained for a few more decades. A reshaping of sentiment and thinking is essential to mankind, a transformation of many ideas, perceptions, feelings and will impulses; spiritual science is ready to contribute its share toward the comprehension of such a renewal.

Official history today is really of little help in making a Man understand why the things that go on around him are as they are. For the most part, official history does not desire to look into the inner growth of things, but instead registers what happens externally and, in what might be called the simplest and most convenient manner, always considers what has happened earlier to be the cause of what follows.

But when one traces things back to their causes in the simple, easygoing way that modern history largely employs, one comes to positive absurdities. Ultimately, one would have to come to the opinion that the greatest part — yes, perhaps even the most widespread part of what happens — owes its existence not to sense, but to absurdity. If the full consequences of the views that people are so prone to entertain in our time were examined logically, one would have to admit that there is not sense, but nonsense in history.

Let us take an example that everyone who studies ordinary history can see for himself. ...


.. when an event takes place such as happened with the Templars, something different again comes about from when it is only a case of the individual lives. The life that we lead as an individual remains within our own person; but there is also the life that can be objectively separated from us — as in the case of the Templars.

  • On the one hand, what they were able to do for the continuance and spread of the Mystery of Golgotha and,
  • on the other hand, what happened through the working of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces for the impulse of modern materialism,

.. all this also continues to live on as fragments of the ether body. But it is incorporated into the whole process of history.

So that

  • some of the life Man lives in his ether body lives on further with the human individuality,
  • while some of it is incorporated into the course of history — when it has been torn away from the human being in the manner described.

And the ether body is the means or medium whereby what a person lives in his soul so objectively that it can go out of his soul — whereby this may have, as it were, something to hold on to for its further life — it is the ether body that provides for this.

What flowed into the etheric world from the spiritual impulses of the Templars lived on etherically, and through this continued etheric life many souls were prepared to receive the inspirations that I have described as coming out of the spiritual world from the souls of the Templars themselves. That is what has actually been taking place in modern times.

Into what flowed from the souls of the Templars, however, there began to enter more and more that which flows from the Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses and is steeped in the Mephistophelian element, and which was inaugurated on the racks where the Templars were tortured, inasmuch as they were forced under torture to speak untruths about themselves. This fact — not alone, but as one of the spiritual grounds of modern materialism — has to be understood if one would acquire an inner understanding of modern materialistic evolution.

And so it came about that in modern times, while certain individuals were inspired with high spiritual truths, the general culture became more and more materialistic in character; and the eye of the soul grew dim for what now surrounds us spiritually and also for that whither we go when we pass through the gate of death and whence we come when we pass through the gate of birth. More and more was the gaze of Man turned away from beholding the spiritual, and this was true in all the different spheres of life — the spiritual sphere, the sphere of religion, the sphere of social life. More and more was the gaze directed to the material world as it showed itself to his senses. And the result has been that, since the rise of modern times, mankind has fallen into a great many errors.

Again let me say, I am not criticizing the fact, I am not passing judgment on it. Through the fact that errors found their way into human evolution, human beings have to experience these errors, and they will gradually come to see them; and, in overcoming them, get stronger forces than they could have had if the path to their goal had been implanted in them automatically. And now the time has come when this insight must be developed and human beings must see how, in all that is material, live impulses to error. Today Man is called upon again and again to make up his mind to see through the errors and overcome them.

It is not our intention to lay blame on anything that has happened in history, what we want to do is to look at history objectively. The events of modern times have brought it about that Man's thoughts and feelings run their course only in accordance with external physical reality, only in accordance with what Man experiences between birth and death. Even the religious life has gradually assumed a personal character, inasmuch as it aims merely at putting into Man's hand a means whereby he may find blessing in his own soul. The religious life of more modern times, that turns Man's gaze more and more away from the concrete spiritual world, is really permeated with the materialistic outlook. As has been said, we have no intention of casting aspersion on any event in history; the events of history, must however be described in such a way that they may be rightly understood — that is, if the coming generation is not to fail into decadence but to take a turn, and move upwards.

We see the stream of materialism flow on and, side by side with it, the parallel hidden stream; and then at the end of the 18th century we come to a tremendous event, an event the influence of which was felt throughout the whole of the 19th century and right on into the present time. At the end of the 18th century, we see the French Revolution spreading its currents far and wide over European civilization. Many things took their course in the French Revolution as the historians have described them. But in addition to the understanding one has already of the French Revolution, in addition to the impulse one has recognized as proceeding from it and working on in European history, we must also understand the spiritual effects of materialistic Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses. The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal. (As I said before, we are not concerned with finding fault but with understanding the events of history.) The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal; and it strove for it in a time upon which still felt the shadow of the event I have described today, the event which left Mephistopheles-Ahriman mighty to send forth into European life the impulse of materialism. And we may say of the best of those who were responsible for the French Revolution that they believed in the physical plane alone. It may be that in their consciousness they thought they believed in something else. What people profess with words is however of little account; the important thing is to have a live consciousness in one's soul of what is really working in the world; and those who were responsible for the French Revolution were conscious only of the physical plane.


1917-09-25-GA176 comments on the 30 years war and the rosecrucian impulse. What eventually happened in the 20th century after these words, was a second 30 year war from 1914-1945, countering the impulse of anthroposophy and the appearance of Christ in the etheric.

[extract synopsis]

The Thirty Years' War prevented the realization of a spiritual movement visualized by Johann Valentin Andreae. Unless a sufficient number of people wake up to an understanding of the spiritual aspect of our time there is a real danger of what ought to happen being again prevented.

[relevant extract]

In the year 1613 Johann Valentin Andrae wrote The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz; the book appeared in 1616. During the years from 1614 to 1617 Valentin Andrae wrote other works in which he expresses the thoughts and feelings of his time. One of his books has as its subtitle: "To the Princes and Heads of States." Andrae wanted to show that what man believes himself to be and what he believes others to be is maya, is a great illusion. He wanted man to have the opportunity to learn to know his true self and that of others. He had in mind a great spiritual movement and had given much thought and preparation to its realization. Two outstanding events were in preparation at that time: the movement Valentin Andrae wanted, and the Thirty Years' War, lasting from 1618 to 1648.

The events that led to the Thirty Years' War made impossible the movement which Johann Valentin Andrae wanted to bring about. Much would have to be said if one were to describe the various causes for this failure. Attempts are often made which fail but which later succeed. There was at that time a possibility that it may have succeeded but it did not.

Today we again find ourselves within two streams, two possibilities, which must of necessity affect one another.

  • On the one hand there is Anthroposophy with the impulse to further human evolution;
  • on the other hand there is all that which has brought about events, similar in nature to those that caused the Thirty Years' War.

It depends upon mankind whether once again what ought to happen is prevented from happening. Lethargy, love of ease might well paralyze the present attempt. Whether things would then take their course as they did when the attempt made by Valentin Andrae was paralyzed is another matter.

More on this rosecrucian spiritual impulse at the start of the 17th century, see: 'Note [1] - Historical perspective - waves and counterwaves' in the Discussion area on the Jacob Boehme page


For this purpose a very special arrangement was required. You must try to understand what developed at that time.

In the centuries preceding the fourteenth century, the human being had to be guarded from this double. The double had to be gradually withdrawn from Man's circle of vision. Only now is he gradually permitted to come into it again, now when the human being must adapt his relationship to him. A really significant arrangement was required, which could be attained only in the following way. Since the ninth or tenth century, conditions in Europe were gradually adjusted in such a way that the European people lost a certain connection that they had formerly, a connection that was still important for human beings in earlier centuries, the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. Beginning in the ninth century and especially from the twelfth century on, the entire shipping exchange with America with the kind of ships there were at that time, was abolished.

This may sound very strange to you. You will say, “We have never heard anything like this in history.”

In many respects, history is just a fable convenue, a legend; for in earlier centuries of Europe development, ships continually sailed from the Norway of that time to America. Of course it was not called America it had a different name at that time. America was known to be the region where the magnetic forces particularly arose that brought the human being into relation with this double.

For the clearest relations to the double proceed from that region of the Earth that comprises the American continent. And in the earlier centuries people sailed over to America in Norwegian ships and studied illnesses there. The illnesses in America brought about under the influence of earthly magnetism were studied by Europe. And the mysterious origin of the older European medicine is to be sought there. There one could observe the course of illness that could not have been observed in Europe, where people were more sensitive with regard to the influence of the double.


history is a fable convenu, example of discovery of America


An historian will always try to reduce the whole process to the working of a single principle, but that is not how things happen. Directly we cross the threshold of the spiritual world, whether downwards or upwards — it is one and the same — we find that different individualities, relatively independent of each other, are working into these events. We shall never understand the course of events if we assume a single source for them; we shall see them rightly only if in the turbulence of events we reckon with the activities of individualities who are working either with or against each other.

This is something that belongs to the deepest secrets of human evolution. For centuries, even for millennia, it has been obscured by monotheistic feeling, but you must take it into account. If to-day we are to come closer to ultimate questions, we must above all not confuse logic with abstract freedom from contradictions. In a world where independent individualities are simultaneously at work, contradictions are bound to occur, and to expect them not to occur leads to an impoverishment of ideas; to ideas which cannot embrace the whole of reality. The only adequate ideas will be those that are able to grasp a world replete with contradictions, for that is the real world.

1917-12-10-GA179 sketches the context of the influence of the deceased on the world happenings

During the course of these public lectures I have purposely drawn your attention to the historical course of life — what Man lives through historically, what he lives through socially, what he lives through in the ethical relationships between people. All this really has the value of a dream, of sleep; the impulses which man develops when he surpasses his personal existence and is active within the community, are impulses of dream and sleep.

People will consider history in quite another way when this has reached their living consciousness; they will no longer consider as history the fable convenue that is usually called history today; but they will realize that historical life can only be understood when that which is dreamed and slept away in usual consciousness, and contains the influences of the deeds, impulses and activities of the so-called dead, is sought in this historical life.

The deeds of the dead are interwoven with the impulses of feeling and will of the so-called living. And this is real history.

1919-11-29-GA194 (SWCC)

Only through a knowledge of the most important and essential laws of human evolution can Man attain a real consciousness that supports his soul. Man must learn to know the events of human evolution and make them part of his question of taking fully into account that the evolution of mankind is itself an evolution of a living entity.

Just as there is ordered growth in the single human individual, so is there ordered growth in the evolution of the whole human race.

And since the present is the moment when we have to become conscious of certain things, and since the human being has participated, during his repeated Earth lives, in the various configurations of humanity's evolutionary history, it is also necessary to develop an understanding for the different human soul moods in the various epochs of mankind's evolution.

I have often stated that what we call history today is really a fable convenue, a fable agreed upon, for the reason that the abstract recounting of events and the searching for cause and effect in historical processes in an external sense does not take into account the transformations, the metamorphoses of human soul life itself.

When, from this point of view, we make tests, we can easily show that it is a prejudice to believe that the soul mood of modern man prevailed also in the times to which the first historical documents reach back. This is not the case. Human beings, even the simplest, most primitive, of the ninth and tenth post-Christian centuries had a soul mood completely different from that of human beings after the middle of the fifteenth century. We can trace this right into the lower strata of the human race, but also into the upper levels.


1923-12-24-GA233 is called 'World history in the light of anthroposophy' and describes how the soul and body constitution of Man is central to worldview and culture, whereby today this aspect of evolution is not taken into account in history. The lecture goes into detail of sketching this for the faculty of memory.

Everything that has happened in the historical evolution of mankind has its origin and cause in the inner being of Man.


We have to let the whole picture of this change in man's soul pass before our eyes in order to realise its significance in the history of Man's evolution. It is by observing such things as these that light begins to be thrown upon history.


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Stewart C. Easton:
    • 'From symptom to reality in modern history' (in Anthroposophical Quarterly, 21, 3, p 70-74)
    • 'A Brief History of the Western World' (1962)
    • 'The Heritage of the Past From the Earliest Times to 1500' (1965)
  • Christoph Lindenberg: Teaching History (2014)
  • Karl Heise: 'Entente-Freimaurerei und Weltkrieg : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Weltkrieges und zum Verständnis der wahren Freimaurerei' (1920, 1982)
  • Hans Erhard Lauer:
    • Geschichte als Stufengang der Menschwerdung : ein Beitrag zu einer Geschichtswissenschaft auf geisteswissenschaftlicher Grundlage (3 volumes)
      • 1: Erkenntnis und Erinnerung (1956)
      • 2: Die Wiederverkörperung des Menschen als Lebensgesetz der Geschichte (1958)
      • 3: Wille und Vorsehung : der moralische Aspekt der Geschichte (1961)
    • 'Die Forderungen des 20. Jahrhunderts an die Geschichtforschung : Geschichte als Wissenschaft von der Zukunft' (Studienmaterial zur Geschichte, lectures 15-16 jan. 1966)
  • Irma v. Lorentz: 'Sternenrhythmen in der Geschichte (1986)
  • Walter Johannes Stein: 'Weltgeschichte im Lichte der heiligen Gral : das neunte Jahrhundert' (1966)