Introduction to the Golden Chain
With Golden Chain, as a term, we refer to the esoteric concept of:
- Homer’s Golden Chain of being, by the Greek Homer and Kirchweger who wrote the famous book with that title in the middle ages
- Goethe’s ‘golden vessels interchanging’, a quote from Faust .. and we know Goethe read the above book and it had a special impact on him
- What Rudolf Steiner calls the ‘descending and ascending spiritual influences’
On the three above link pages are given a number of 'key' references that represent the entry point into this subject matter. However the term or concept of a Golden Chain between heaven and earth has been broadly used, and there are many more references.
- Therefore this also adds an overview of additional references and pointers to the same concept
With Golden Chain, content-wise, we refer to the interplay of interactions between spiritual beings, that give rise to the cosmos and various nature’s kingdoms as we know them on Earth. We can imagine a chain from the higher mental worlds from where spiritual seeds ripple through .. through various stages of devachan and astral worlds down into the physical, at each stage being ‘clothed’ with more complex principles that make up their being - give it consciousness, life, and form - and substance. Linking it to our reference framework of the physical world as perceived with mundane consciousness, we can imagine these influences as raining down from the zodiac and being modulated by the planetary spheres, including earth. Not only do these spiritual influences generate or render the physical reality and all we know and see around us, the interaction on earth also gives rise to ascending spiritual influences – again linked to the various spiritual beings who live in, or make up and constitute, the physical reality.
To venture into an understanding of what lies hidden in the image of the Golden Chain, a language is needed. That language is the framework of spiritual science, consisting of a number of 'dimensions' that are closely related. Ultimately everything is explained by the work and development of spiritual beings, but therefore we need a good insight in how to distinguish and name them, the worlds or planes in which they operate. The best way to develop this language is to describe just that, by describing the kingdoms of nature around us as the physically visible emanation or appearance of the spiritual reality behind it.
To understand the Golden Chain, one is expected to have a foundational knowledge base required to build an understanding, and this requires at least the knowledge of the following ‘dimensions’.
1. The various worlds or planes
2. The spiritual beings and hierarchies: the nine hierarchies from cherubim and seraphim down to archangels and angels, but also the elementary kingdoms and elementals
4. The spiritual scientific evolutionary framework, as described eg in Outline of Esoteric Science by Rudolf Steiner.
5. a base understanding of the various nature’s kingdoms:
The goal of our consideration is to realize and appreciate how these are interwoven, and feel – have a soul experience of - the mindblowing beauty underlying creation. The basis for this lies in an intellectual understanding, but this is not the goal or purpose, rather it is a required step for us in order to take our conscious experience a level up to imaginative insight and contemplation.
Using our mind to switch gears and rise above the constraints of descriptions
The study of this subject matter will require us to switch all the time between different formulations and terminology to ultimately approach and describe the same reality
- the zodiac and the planets
- the spiritual hierarchies
- the different planes or worlds
and this for the four kingdoms of nature: mineral, plant, animal and Man. We can map their structures to the planes, and then realize that all of it made up of spiritual beings. In that context then fit the many puzzle pieces and lecture extracts, to be put together to one comprehensive imaginative picture of understanding.
There is mapping between the three dimensions mentioned, and it is through studying in the three 'languages' that we will build our own inner mental image and understanding of the whole.
Furthermore, what we want to describe can then still be described in the language variants of theosophy, anthroposophy, or Christian esotericism. On this site we will focus on a single terminology for spiritual science. For example we will talk about Spirits of Form (SoF in short) and not switch between Exusiai, Powers, Authorities, Potentiates. The term Elohim (same as SoF) is relevant only in the context of the Bible as a reference.
The concepts and words used, are simply empty labels to denote realities of a nature quite different of everything we know from experience of our physical world with normal mundane consciousness. So we have to be quite aware of that when we start thinking about them as concepts, and just try to use the descriptions to build an imagination of the described reality in our mind.