From Anthroposophy

IAO stands for 'I' Alpha Omega, or in Greek Iota Alpha Omega, and is a symbol for the cosmic divine concept of 'I am'.

IAO was the esoteric name of God in the ancient Mysteries. Helena Blavatsky explains that the names originates even before the Greek or Hebrew cultures, referring to the Chaldean and Indian cultures.

Rudolf Steiner explains that the true Human 'I' is spiritual and in continuous evolution throughout the planetary stages of evolution, and even before and after this - making it eternal. This links to the highest divinity of the three Logoi and the principle called the 'I am', but also positions Man and the human 'I' as (an integral) part of the greater divinity.


  • the 'inexpressible name' of the divine I principle of God in ancient cultures (1919-08-17-GA296)


Schema FMC00.327 are illustrations from the esoteric lesson of 1908-06-15-GA266A referenced in full below.

See also Schema FMC00.329 below for an expanded version at a higher level, to shed light and provide an explanation to the picture on the right.


Schema FMC00.328 shows various illustrations of the ouroboros (greek: ouro-boros for tail-eating), an ancient symbol depicting a serpent biting its own tail. The symbol is found in Egyptian iconography, in the Greek magical tradition, up to rosecrucian teachings (lower left, and right).

The upper left BBD by Rudolf Steiner is part of the GA206 lectures explaining the nature of the Human 'I', see Schema FMC00.290 on that page.


Schema FMC00.329 is a meta study schema.

It takes Schema FMC00.077A on the lower right as the basis, to show how the various hierarchies are in process of a continuous dynamic whereby they arise from creation by the three logoi and the sacrifice and work of the downstream hierarchies, and develop and re-ascent within the logos. They are absorbed again in the highest planes of mahaparanirvana and paranirvana (see FMC00.062).

This is represented by the blue circle depicting the snake that bites its own tail (FMC00.328), and this way the highest divinity is continuously getting to know itself as the 'I am' or the eternal 'I' from Alpha to Omega.

The blue circle can also be seen as a cosmic breathing cycle, as the great cosmic breath of Brahma. Contemplate the cycle of Twelve conditions of consciousness: One can imagine that with each breath, the schema advances by one planetary stage and a whole new creation gets created on the lowest level of that CoC-ladder (left on the FMC00.077A schema), and a certain hierarchy is absorbed again into the bosom of the divine godhead at the highest levels of that CoC-ladder (beyond right on the FMC00.077A schema). This thought is referred to on this site as the Cosmic Fractal, because of its intertwined and encapsulated levels of complexity at different scales (as exemplified by eg 25920, or recapitulation)

This can be approached intellectually by contemplating the outpourings of the three Logoi. See middle of the blue circle FMC00.171 as well as FMC00.170 for the intertwined threefolded streams that then map to the three outpourings (FMC00.067) along the Three dimensions of evolution: conditions of consciousness, life and form. (FMC00.010A and eg FMC00.196 on Overview of solar system evolution). FMC00.062 connects the seven creative spirits before the throne, and the 21 prajapatis to these three dimensions of evolution at the CoC, CoF, CoL level on nirvana and budhi planes. The solar system evolution with manvantaras and pralayas is usually shown upto the higher spirit world, but FMC00.196 and better even FMC00.057 show the transformative effect during pralaya at the budhi and nirvana planes. This 'reversal of budhi' is explained in Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension (on the basis of the GA089 lectures).

Man is shown on FMC00.077A but also on Steiner's drawing FMC00.327 in its path of consciousness along the Twelve conditions of consciousness (CoC). Of course this Development of the 'I' consciousness has multiple stages along that CoC-ladder, from the bosom of the Archai (1925-01-11-GA026) on Old Saturn via the Group souls of humanity on Old Moon to the individuation on Earth. Ultimately however the goal is that humanity as the Tenth spiritual hierarchy become gods as they go through the higher CoC=5 to 7 in the next three planetary stages, and higher CoC=8 and 9 to the sacrifice and bosom of the highest divinity again.

Note: For the above, it may be useful to also include the Cosmic fractal considerations in contemplation this schema, as well as Schema FMC00.276 on Overview of solar system evolution or the more detailed Schema FMC00.413 on Old Saturn.


Lecture coverage and references


The illusion of the senses covers the illusion of time.

The illusion of time separates Alpha Omega.

The goal of this esoteric lesson is always deeper penetration into esotericism until we can pass over into exercises, mantric exercises. In order to push forward to the great secret it is necessary to set aside our illusions. At certain stages of evolution illusions are necessary for human beings. An esoteric pupil will, with time, set them aside.

The great illusion of the personal "I" is to be set aside.The true "I" of the human being is not contained in it, but rather comes out of the indefinite and takes its course into the indefinite.

We become conscious of the ‘I’ in the physical world through the senses. This appears to contradict the fact that a certain point in the etheric head came together with one like it in the physical head during the Atlantean epoch, and in this way the ‘I’ entered into the human being. Yet this ‘I’ was, so to speak, only like a small little pocket that sank down into the human being.

And the true ‘I’, which was spread out through the planets from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan, radiated into it.

The best symbol is: this little pocket is like a mirror into which the true ‘I’ streams from this string of planetary stages throughout evolution.

I said that it goes into the indefinite because it did not begin in Old Saturn, and after the Future Vulcan state it continues further. Therefore we imagine it as a line on which individual personal lives are formed like running knots.

If we know how to extinguish the personal ‘I’ that we become conscious of through the senses, then the line that leads from the indefinite into the indefinite lies before us:

"The illusion of the senses covers the illusion of time."

Yet it lies before us as a line only through the illusion of time. If we think of this line as somewhat curved,  then it must close in a circle.

Therefore the the second sentence:

"The illusion of time separates Alpha Omega.”

I am Alpha Omega, or ‘I’ Alpha Omega.

The true significance of the snake that bites its own tail.

The ‘I’ Alpha Omega = I A O  was the foundation for the Atlantean Tau.

On the name IAO

Helena Blavatsky - Isis Unveiled

from this inspired work by Helena Blavatsky

If we can once appreciate the fact that, among all the peoples of the highest antiquity, the most natural conception of the First Cause manifesting itself in its creatures, and that to this they could not but ascribe the creation of all, was that of an androgyne deity; that the male principle was considered the vivifying invisible spirit, and the female, mother nature; we shall be enabled to understand how that mysterious cause came at first to be represented (in the picture-writings, perhaps) as the combination of the Alpha and Omega of numbers, a decimal, then as IAO, a trilateral name, containing in itself a deep allegory.

IAO, in such a case, would — etymologically considered — mean the "Breath of Life," generated or springing forth between an upright male and an egg-shaped female principle of nature; for, in Sanscrit, as means "to be," "to live or exist"; and originally it meant "to breathe."

"From it," says Max Muller, "in its original sense of breathing, the Hindus formed 'asu,' breath, and 'asura,' the name of God, whether it meant the breathing one or the giver of breath." It certainly meant the latter. In Hebrew, "Ah" and "Iah" mean life.

Helena Blavatsky - Secret Doctrine

And now it may be as well to remind the reader of that which was said of I A O, in our work, “ Isis Unveiled.”

“ No other deity affords such a variety of etymologies as Jaho, nor is there any name which can be so variously pronounced. It is only by associating it with the Masoretic points that the later Rabbins succeeded in making Jehovah read ‘ Adonai ’ — or Lord, as Philo Byblus spells it in Greek letters ΙΕΥΩ — IEVO.

Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it Jahé (yahra), and the Jews Yaho ; which would make it as we have shown, I — Ah — O.

Diodorus states that ‘ among the Jews they relate that Moses called the god Iao.’ It is on the authority of the Bible itself, therefore, that we maintain that before his initiation by Jethro, his father-in-law, Moses had never known the word Jaho.”*

Just as the IAO of the mysteries was distinct from Jehovah, so was the later Iao and Abraxas of some Gnostic sects identical with the god of the Hebrews, who was the same with the Egyptian Horus. This is undeniably proven on “ heathen ” as on the Gnostic “ Christian ” gems.


In the Ophite gems of King (“ Gnostics ”) we find the name of IAO repeated, and often confounded with that of Jevo, while the latter simply represents one of the genii antagonistic to Abraxas.

But the name IAO neither originated with, nor was it the sole property of the Jews. Even if it had pleased Moses to bestow the name upon the tutelary “ Spirit,” the alleged protector and national deity of the “ chosen people of Israel,” there is yet no possible reason why other nationalities should receive Him as the Highest and One-living God.

But we deny the assumption altogether. Besides, there is the fact that Jaho or Iao was a “ Mystery name ” from the beginning, for יהיה and יח never came into use before King David. Anterior to his time, few or no proper names were compounded with Iah or Jah.

Says Fürst : “ The very ancient name of God, Yaho, written in the Greek Ι αω, appears, apart from its derivation, to have been an old mystic name of the Supreme deity of the Shemites. Hence it was told to Moses when he was initiated at Hor-eb — the cave — under the direction of Jethro, the Kenite (or Cainite) priest of Midian.

In an old religion of the Chaldeans, whose remains are to be found among the Neo-Platonists, the highest divinity, enthroned above the seven heavens, representing the Spiritual Light-Principle . . . . and also conceived of as Demiurgus, was called Ι αω ( יהו ), who was, like the Hebrew Yaha, mysterious and unmentionable, and whose name was communicated to the Initiated.

The Phoenicians had a Supreme God, whose name was triliteral and secret, and he was Ι αω.” (Isis Unveiled)

Why again is the triune Iao (the Mystery God) called the “ fourfold,”and yet the triad and tetradic symbols come under one unified name with the Christians — the Jehovah of the seven letters ?



.. there is a principle in Man which cannot be spoken of as a body. It is his innermost essence, distinguishing him from all other entities, mineral, plant and animal. It is the self, the soul, the divine spark. The Hindus spoke of it as Manas; The Rosicrucians as the ‘Inexpressible.’ A body, in effect, is only part and parcel of another body, but the Self, the ‘I’ of Man exists in and by itself alone: “I am I.” This principle is addressed by others as ‘thou,’ or ‘you;’ it cannot be confused with anything else in the universe.

By virtue of this inexpressible, incommunicable Self, Man rises above all created things of the Earth, above the animals, indeed above all creation.

And only through this principle can he commune with the Infinite Self, with God.

That is why, at certain definite times, the officiating hierophant in the ancient Hebrew sanctuaries said to the High Priest:

Shem-Ham-Phores, which means: What is his name (the name of God)?

He-Vo-He, or — in one word — Jev or Joph, meaning God, Nature, Man; or again, the inexpressible ‘I’ of Man which is both human and divine.


is called 'The God of the Alpha and the God of the Omega'

.. Moses and Hermes were [Zarathustra's] disciples and he gave his astral body to Hermes and his etheric body to Moses. Moses was the first to proclaim the teaching that emanated from the Akasha Chronicle, the teaching of the 'I am the I am'. (Ejeh asher ejeh).


Regardless of whether you regress or progress, whether you seek God in the Alpha or in the Omega, you will be able to find Him. What is important is that you find Him with your own heightened human power.

  • Those forces necessary to find the God of the Alpha are the primal forces of a human being.
  • However, the forces necessary to find the God of the Omega must be acquired here on Earth by striving human beings themselves.

It makes a difference whether one goes back to Alpha or forward to Omega. He who is content with finding God and just wants to get into the spiritual world has the choice of going forward or backward. However, the individual who is concerned that humanity leave the Earth in a heightened state must point the way to Omega — as did Zarathustra.


covers 'the Inexpressible Name'

When the human being passed over from the Atlantean to the post-Atlantean age, he was as yet unable to do many of the things which he does now. You see, each one of you, from a certain time of your childhood upward, can say “I” when referring to yourself. You pronounce this word “I” very carelessly. But in the course of human development this word was not always uttered so carelessly. There were older times in the evolution of humanity — though even in ancient Egypt these olden times had to a great extent already waned — there were older times in which the I was designated by a name, and if this name was uttered, it dazed people. One therefore avoided pronouncing it.

If the name applicable to the I, which was only known to the initiates, had been pronounced in the presence of people in the times immediately following the Atlantean catastrophe, the sound of this name would have dazed the whole congregation; all the people would have fallen to the ground, so strong would have been the effect of the name applicable to the I.

An echo of this may still be found among the ancient Hebrews, where one spoke of 'the unutterable name of God in the soul', a name which could only be pronounced by the initiates, or shown to the congregation in eurhythmic gestures. The origin of God's unutterable name may therefore be seen in the facts explained to you just now.

But little by little this name was lost. And with it was lost the deep effect which radiates from such things.


As I indicated yesterday, the fixing of Easter's date grew out of a spiritual appreciation of the constellation of the sun and the moon. I also indicated that moon-beings observe the planets, and that these observations guide human beings in their descent from pre-earthly into earthly life, guide them in the formation of their etheric bodies. Now in order to understand how the lunar forces or, one might say, the spiritual observatory on the moon makes etheric forces available to human beings, we can look to the cosmos; for, as we have had occasion to see, it is inscribed there, it exists there as a fact. However, it is also important to appreciate the interest human beings have taken in these matters throughout history. And that interest was nowhere more sincere than in the Mysteries at Ephesus.

Every aspect of the service to the goddess of Ephesus, known exoterically as Artemis, was designed to give an experience of the creative spiritual forces pervading the cosmic ether. When the participants in the Mysteries approached the statue of the goddess, they had the sensation of hearing her speak, in words such as this: “I delight in all that bears fruit within the vast cosmic ether.”

To hear the goddess thus express her heartfelt delight in everything that grows, buds, and sprouts within the cosmic ether was a truly profound experience. Indeed, the spiritual atmosphere of Ephesus was aglow with heartfelt sympathy for all budding and sprouting things. The Mysteries there were instituted in such a way that nowhere else could one find such sympathy with vegetative growth, with the budding and sprouting of the earth into the plant world.

One consequence of this was that the lessons, if I may call them that, that dealt with the mystery of the moon, of which I spoke yesterday, could be given at Ephesus with particular force and clarity. As a result of such instruction, each student was able to experience himself as a figure of light formed by the moon. One exercise in particular directly placed a person capable of performing it into a process of building himself up out of sunlight transformed by the moon. In the midst of this the sounds I, O, A rang forth, as if emanating from the sun.

These sounds, the Mystery student knew, enlivened his ego and astral body. I, O: I, astral body, and with A, the approach of the luminous etheric body: I, O, A. As these sounds vibrated within him, he experienced himself as ego, as astral body, and as etheric body. Then, as if resounding from the earth, for the student was now outside the earth, came the sounds eh-v, which mingled with the I, O, A.

In this word, IehOvA, the Mystery student experienced himself as a complete human being. Through the consonants, he felt a premonition of his earthly physical body. These consonants are bound up with the vowels, I O A, which express the I, astral body, and etheric body.

It was through such immersion in the word IehOvA that the Ephesian apprentice was able to experience the final stages of his descent out of the spiritual world. As he did so, however, he felt himself living within the light. Now truly human, he was a sounding ego and sounding astral body within a light-filled etheric body. Sound within light — such is the cosmic human being.

In this way it was possible to take in what is visible in the cosmos, just as what happens in the earth's physical surroundings can be taken in through the eyes.

While carrying I O A within himself, the Ephesian student felt himself transported to the sphere of the moon, where he shared in the observations that could be made from there. In this condition he was still a human being in general, undifferentiated; only upon descending to earth did he become man or woman.

It was a pre-earthly state into which the student was transported, a state preparatory to the descent to Earth. In the Ephesian Mysteries this self-elevation into the sphere of the moon was an especially vivid experience, which the initiates inwardly cherished, and whose content might be expressed in the following words ...

Jean Dubuis

in 'The experience of eternity', p66-71, covers:

Yod He Vav He - the divine 'unpronounceable tetragrammaton'


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Iwer Thor Lorenzen: The 'I-Principle (in Man, Earth and Cosmos)'
    • original DE typoscript 'Das Ich Prinzip', fully translated in EN in 2016 by the FMC project (initiative behind this site)