Karmic relationships

From Anthroposophy

Human beings in the process of reincarnation do not incarnate independently in separate processes, they are karmically connected through all the lives they have spent together in different roles and constellations. These karmic ties or relationships are what binds them also between death and a new birth, and is the reason why groups of souls incarnate together in certain timeframes.

The term karmic groups is used for such grouping of karmically interconnected Individualities, across their incarnations in various different Personalities. The broad term karmic relationship is used to denote connected Individualities, beyond mundane connections of Personalities during a single incarnation.

In the Karmic Relationship lectures in 1924, Rudolf Steiner systematically described about 50 such Individualities across their different incarnations. (Some more were covered in the twenty years of lecturing before.) See more on: Karma research case studies and KRI - Karmic Relationships Individualities.

Because the 80+ KR lectures took place over 9 months in various cities across Europe, and the attention is at first especially on all the historically known personalities that were mentioned explicitly, it is not immediately apparent that Steiner in fact also covered karmic groups of related Individualities.


  • two types of meetings between two people (1924-01-28-GA240)
  • three examples of karmic groups (see 1924-02-24-GA235)
    • renaissance group: Italy and Florence in 15th century: grouping around the Medici and Ficino, with Savonarola, Pico della Mirandola and funding the work of Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael. Also Machiavelli and Thomas More are connected. See Schema FMC00.493.
    • german idealism: Germany between 18 and 19th century: group with Goethe, Schiller, Novalis, Schelling, Fichte, Hegel. Connected also with Brentano, Grimm, van Beethoven. See Schema FMC00.243 and Schema FMC00.243A, and coverage in 1912-12-29-GA143.
    • between 19th and 20th century: wave of spiritual science around Steiner, Wegman, Morgenstern, Besant, and many others
  • smaller subgroups
    • the KR lectures contains multiple cases that look at two souls (or more) across different incarnations
      • ancient Rome
        • Ovid (KRI40), Titius Livius (KRI42), Augustus, Julie the Elder (daughter Augustus, wife Tiberius, KRI41), Tiberius.
        • Pliny the Elder, Emperor Nero (KR28), Tacitus (KRI22), Pliny the Younger (KRI23)
  • during a lifetime, people come in and out of one's life at different stages (1924-03-01-GA235 and Schema FMC00.494)
    • A friendship in the later years of life gives an inner impulse to learn to know what he may be like in youth. Two people, who in a subsequent earthly life, had a friendship in their youth which was afterwards broken — in an earlier incarnation they were friends in later life.
    • If you meet a human being who has a strong influence on your destiny in the middle period of life in one incarnation, it is very likely that you had him beside you by forces of destiny at the beginning and at the end of your life in a previous incarnation.
    • if in your childhood you are united by destiny with another human being; in a former life you were united with him at the later stages or approaching death.
  • meeting people (1912-02-08-GA130)
    • relationships can be qualified by the depth or relation (slightly acquainted or deep), the length (eg long relatives or friends), the nature (people that cause pain or obstructions, or that are helpful or to whom we can be helpful)
    • during the middle of our lives, we recognize those with whom we were involved at the beginning of previous existences.
      • We may (but not always) meet previous parents in the middle period of our lives - "The people with whom we meet in the middle period of our lives are the people with whom we were engaged during the period of early childhood in one of our previous incarnations. "
    • at the beginning of our lives, we meet people with whom we were acquainted during the middle period of a previous life,
      • Childhood connections now, have been met in one of our previous incarnations around the 30th year: "The people with whom we have been associated in our early childhood, such as parents, sisters and brothers, playmates and other companions, as a rule are the very people whom we have met in the previous or one of our previous incarnations around our thirtieth year. These people frequently appear as our parents, sisters or brothers in the present incarnation."
    • People we meet in second half of our life .. "we may be led to people with whom we were involved in a previous life, or we may not yet have been involved with them." .. "during the second half of our lives we encounter people with whom the karmic connections that are beginning to be woven cannot be resolved in one life."


Schema FMC00.495 illustrates the concept of karmic groups of souls incarnating together as contemporaries. The time difference between consecutive incarnations is very variable but typically centuries upto a millenium, see Frequency of incarnation. During the descent after the so-called 'midnight hour' (see grey arrows on B), the soul in the spiritual world is engaged in the stream of family blood lines before incarnating (and this for as much as thirty generations, though this depends on the time between two incarnations). See also 1924-06-11-GA239.


Schema FMC00.496 illustrates the idea of karmic groups (Schema FMC00.495) expanded with the concept of generations, as people connect with a broad circle of souls of a number of generations during the various stages of life (see eg Schema FMC00.494).

For a specific case illustration , see the renaissance group (Florence 15th century) represented in Schema FMC00.493.


Schema FMC00.494 (click twice to enlarge) shows three cases of often occuring dynamics of karmic relationships whereby the pattern of soul experience in a life N-1 triggers a mirror reverse situation of the type of relationship in terms of the stage of life. Simply put: the experience in life N-1 instills a desire to experience a continuation of the relationship with what was missing, and that becomes the inverse life stage pattern in a - or the - next life N.


Schema FMC00.493 provides an overview of karmic groups of souls incarnating in the 15th century in Europe. (to enlarge click schema 1-2-3 times)

The main group depicted in the upper part of the Schema consists of 22 souls that lived in Florence, Italy. Some moved there (eg Chalkokondyles, from Greece), others visited and picked up a major influence (eg Reuchlin with Pico della Mirandola). The frame is set by the wealthy and powerful de' Medici family. Grandfather Cosimo takes the boy Ficino in to his household at young age, becomes his lifelong patron and makes him tutor of his grandson Lorenzo. This is a key event. Ficino develops as a very important figure and sets up, with support of his patron, a (neoplatonic Florentine) Platonic Academy (see green box in chart line for Ficino). That provides the hub for over a hundred individuals to find eachother and discuss philosophy, art, society. Key thought influencers are Savonarola and Pico della Mirandola. Among the sponsored artists that are part of this group: Botticeli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Lorenzo's son became Pope Leo X and is responsible for art and buildings projects in Rome and the Vatican (ao with Raphael) that are world renown today.

The timeline on the right depicts a rough sketch of the individual lives, with the first 20 years (of growing up) in light grey. In blue is depicted a time window that these contemporary souls are connected (individual connections are much more granular, some may be close in youth, others in old age, etc). Green boxes represent some milestones (eg the time period that someone is Pope or makes his mark, eg example with Luther below).

The bold vertical rectangular windows represent, roughly and indicatively, generations that are on average some 25 years apart (between 20 and 30 years). Taking into account three periods of a person's life (also for karmic connections, roughly speaking), we can see how three generations allow people to meet in the early, middle, or later stage in a life (see Schema FMC00.494 and FMC00.496). The schema also shows how eg father de' Medici and Ficino will set a frame and setting in which dozens or hundreds of people find an environment to 'do their thing'. Study of the history of the people involved shows many such patterns, eg Pope Leo X creates the environment for Raphael and Michelangelo to perform their art.

Linking to the main content of this site, note that Pico della Mirandola, Ficino and Savonarola studied Aristotle, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Augustinus .. and Savonarola preached John's Gospel and Revelation. These three souls are clearly in the same Michaelic stream as Rudolf Steiner described.

Added below the group in Florence are three other sets of contemporary karmically connected souls from that same time period (with some links). The group shown here was limited (and not laid out as the Florence group), just to illustrate this same pattern of important Individualities who incarnate together to bring a major impulse in a certain time and culture (see: Impulses from waves of reincarnating souls). Of course each of these groups has to be seen in context of a network of many hundreds of souls that are contemporaries (family, friends, etc).

  • The first group includes Erasmus, Thomas More, Henry VIII. Rudolf Steiner speaks at various occasions of the link between More and Pico della Mirandola. More and Erasmus were friends, More being advisor to Henry VIII. Although not part of the Florence group above, Valla (who was in Rome) is recognized as a precursor of reformation and was an inspiration to both Erasmus and Luther. It may be an illustration of deceased souls influencing incarnate 'fellow' souls part of the same wave or impulse, the one preparing for the others who build on it or develop it further.
  • The second group has Martin Luther, with Cranach his lifelong close friend. Cranach was in competiton with another artist, Durer, who kept connections with the artists in Florence such as Da Vinci and Raphael. Though Erasmus and Luther never met, they are both key figures of reformation, but the main debate between between Luther and Erasmus was on the role of free will and grace.
  • The third group is esoteric (spiritual science) with three influentual contemporaries: Trithemius had both Agrippa and Paracelsus as his students.



Schema FMC00.243A depicts a selection of a network of important Individualities that incarnated in the second half of the 18th century in Germany, a group we can call German idealism.

Goethe is a central key figure in this, closely related with Schiller, Novalis, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling. These six are surrounded by a network of other high-caliber Individualities. This represents the 'top of the mountain' as a 'hub' creating a cultural impulse not just for their environment of hundreds and thousands of direct contemporaries, or for the nation, but for the whole European culture. So one can see it as the trunk of the tree that branches off, as a fountainhead. This is what Rudolf Steiner calls 'Impulses from waves of reincarnating souls', and he himself was also at the center of such an impulse as part of The Michaelic stream at the beginning of the 20th century.

See also Schema FMC00.243 which shows the KRI (KR Individuality ID number) of the Individualities covered in the Karmic Relationship lectures.

Mappings such as in this scheme allow to distinguish graphically blood lines (here in green), or marriages (here in dark blue). Just a few examples are shown. One could do the same for lifelong friendships, professional relations (eg in the same job, collegues or competitors - rivalry/animosity eg Michelangelo and Da Vinci), teacher/student (especially around personalities who held teaching positions as universities such as Schiller/Fichte/Schelling/Hegel), or occasional meetings without much more (Individualities of stature who didn't get along, for example Beethoven and Goethe).

Regarding the 'hub' or 'pole' function: Certain women played an important role as successful social networkers and hosts, this was certainly the case for the three women on the Schema. The house of Bettina von Arnim and Achim von Arnim was a meeting place, just as that of Antonie Brentano and Franz Brentano. Another example is Caroline Michaelis who first married Schlegel and then Schelling, and in both cases the couple was 'at the center of Romantic natural philosophy'. In these and others cases too, one finds variants on the phrase "Their house became a meeting place for the young literary and intellectual elite later associated with German Idealism/Romanticism". Initially the diagram had rectangles to denote such social poles, this has been removed because the work should then be done consistently and exhaustively (and with a clear legend). Another characterization that could be added with a small infographic to each line on the schema, is - for every connection between two people - whether the connection took place in the early, middle or late phase of both lives (see Schema FMC00.494 and FMC00.496). These are just a few aspects when considering the schema in context of karmic groups and karmic relationships.

The schema is necessarily limited in serving its illustrative purpose, so many others are not shown, ao Ludwig Tieck, Justinus Kerner (who wrote 'The Seeress of Prevorst'), the nun with stigmata Anne Catherine Emmerich (famous and influential, re: Clemens Brentano), and many others. However the left side of the schema illustrates the importance of blood lines with the examples of the Brentano and Grimm families.

This was added not just to include the link with Beethoven, but especially to make the link with Rudolf Steiner which requires only one generation:

  • Franz Brentano (1838-1917), the philosopher of Aristotle and scholastic philosophy, was a professor of Rudolf Steiner. He was paternal nephew of Clemens Brentano and Bettina von Arnim, and of Gunda (née Brentano) and Friedrich von Savigny. All four on the schema.
  • Herman Grimm (1828-1901) was close with Rudolf Steiner, who mentioned him very often in his lectures, as Grimm was in the stream of Goethe and specialized in the lives of Raphael, Homer, Michelangelo. On the schema: Grimm's father was Wilhelm Grimm and his uncle Jakob Grimm. He belonged to a network or clique associated with Bettina von Arnim. All three on the schema.
    • PS In the KR lectures, Grimm was covered in the KR lectures (KRID=23, Individuality of Pliny the Younger), and he was led to correspond with Ralph Waldo Emerson in Massachussets USA (KRID=22, Individuality of Tacitus), which is remarkable given Pliny the Younger was a friend and admirer of Tacitus). See also 1924-04-23-GA236, for more on Grimm see 1913-01-13-GA062 for a start.


For further study, libraries are filled with history books on the main characters and this period. What Rudolf Steiner added in the KR lectures was a way to look at the individual relationships of two persons, and also how a certain thematic current is carried by an Individuality as well as a group of souls. Allmost no books are available to look at history through this karmic lens of individual and group relations and impulses, though a lot has been done for biographies of the KR Individualities individually - see Karma research case studies.


Schema FMC00.497 provides a tabular overview of a karmic group of contemporary souls in a similar format as Schema FMC00.493. It shows a selection of a network of important Individualities that incarnated in the second half of the 18th century in Germany. See Schema FMC00.243A (and Schema FMC00.243) for an extensive explanation.

A selection was made to keep the table to a reasonable format, so many were not added, incl. Wilhelm Grimm, Justinus Kerner, Jean-Paul (friend Herder), Christian Brentano (brother of Clemens Brentano and Bettina von Arnim,  father of the philosopher Franz Brentano (1838-1917), etc.

Note this timeframe also knew personalities in other geographies that might well belong to the same 'stream' but were not connected through direct relationships in their incarnation, eg William Blake (1757-1827) in the UK.


Lecture coverage and references


How are karmic compensations accomplished?

If someone has done something to another person, there will have to be a karmic adjustment between them, which means that the persons concerned must be born again as contemporaries. How does this happen? What are the forces that bring the two persons together?

The way it works out is as follows. A wrong has been done; the victim has suffered it; the person who did it passes into Kamaloka, but first he has to witness the occurrence in the retrospective tableau of his past life. The injury he has inflicted does not then cause him pain, but in Kamaloka, as he relives his life backwards, the event comes before him, and now he has to suffer the pain he caused. He has to feel it in and through the very self of his victim. This experience imprints itself like a seal on his astral body. He takes with him a portion of the pain, and a definite force remains in him as the outcome of what he has experienced in the other man's being. In this way any pain or pleasure he has to live through turns into a force, and he carries a great number of such forces with him into Devachan.

When he returns to a new incarnation, this is the force that draws together all the persons who have had experiences in common. During the Kamaloka period they lived within one another, and they incorporated these forces into themselves. Hence within one physical human being there may be three or even more “Kamaloka men”, in order that the situation involving them may be lived out.

An example known to occult science will make this clear. A man was condemned to death by five judges. What was really happening there? In a previous life the man had killed these other five men and karmic forces had brought all six together for a karmic adjustment. This does not produce a never-ending karmic chain; other relationships come in to change the further course of events.


Here again is an example drawn from life. At a Vehmic Court in the Middle Ages a number of judges condemned a man to death and executed the sentence themselves. Earlier incarnations of the judges and of the dead man were investigated and it was found that they had all been contemporaries; the prisoner who had been put to death had been the Chief of a tribe who had ordered the death of those who were now the Vehmic judges. The deed of the former physical life had created the connection between the persons, and the forces had inscribed themselves in the Akasha Chronicle. When a man again comes down to incarnation, these forces cause him to be born at the same time and place as those to whom he is tied in this way, and they work out his destiny. The Akasha Chronicle is a veritable source of power in which everything that is due to be expiated between one human being and another, is inscribed. Some people can sense these processes, but very, very few are really conscious of them. Suppose a man has a profession in which he is apparently happy and contented; for some reason or other he is forced to leave it and finding no other occupation in the same place is driven far away — into another country, where he has to strike out on an entirely new line of work. Here he finds a person with whom he has in some way to be associated. What has happened in such a case? He had once lived with the person whom he has now met and remained in his debt for some reason or other. This is inscribed in the Akasha Chronicle and the forces have led him to this place in order that he may meet the man and discharge his debt.


[Meeting people]

Karma not only shows us what is related to our lives in a joyful and painful manner. But as the result of the working of karma, we meet

  • many people during the course of our lives with whom we only become slightly acquainted,
  • and people with whom we are connected in various ways during long periods of our lives as relatives and friends.

We meet

  • people who either cause us pain directly, or as a result of some joint undertaking that runs into obstructions. We meet
  • people who are helpful, or to whom we can be helpful.

In short, many relationships are possible. If the effects of karma, as described.the day before yesterday, are to become fruitful, then we must accept the fact that the wiser man in us wants certain experiences. He seeks a person who seems accidentally to cross our paths. He is the one who leads us to other people with whom we get engaged in this or that way.

What is really guiding this wiser man in us when he wants to meet this or that person? What is he basing himself on?

In answer, we have to say to ourselves that we want to meet him because we have met him previously. It may not have happened in the last life; it could have happened much earlier. The wiser man in us leads us to this person because we had dealings with him in a previous life, or because we may have incurred a debt in one way or another. We are led to this person as though by magic.

We are now reaching a manifold and intricate realm that can be covered only by generalities. The indications here stem from clairvoyant investigation. They can be useful to anybody since they can be applied to many special situations.

[Climax and pivoting point in our thirties]

A strange observation can be made. We all have experienced or observed how, toward the middle of our lives, the ascending growth-line gradually tilts over to become a descending line, and our youthful energies begin to decline. We move past a climax and from there on we move downward. This point of change is somewhere in our thirties. It is also the time in our lives when we are living most intensively on the physical plane. In this connection, we can fall prey to a delusion. The events that from childhood precede this climax were brought with us into this incarnation. They were, so to speak, drawn out of a previous existence. The forces that we have brought along with us from the spiritual world are now placed outside ourselves and used to fashion our lives. These forces are used up when we reach this middle point.

In considering the descending curve of our lives, we perceive the lessons that we have learned in the school of life, that we have accumulated and have worked over. They will be taken along into the next incarnation. This is something we carry into the spiritual world; previously, we took something out of it. This is the time when we are fully engaged on the physical plane. We are thoroughly enmeshed with everything that comes to us from the outside world. We have passed our training period; we are fully committed to life and we have to come to terms with it. We are involved with ourselves, but we are primarily occupied with arranging our environments for ourselves, and in finding a proper relationship to the world in which we live. The human capacities that are seeking a relationship to the world are our power of reasoning and that part of our volitional life that is controlled by reason. What is thus active in us is alien to the spiritual world, which withdraws from us and closes up. It is true that in the middle of our lives we are the farthest removed from the reality of the spirit.

[1/ We may meet previous parents in the middle period of our lives]

Here occult investigation reveals a significant fact.

The people with whom we meet, and the acquaintances we make in the middle period of our lives are curiously enough the very people with whom we were engaged during the period of early childhood in one of our previous incarnations.

It is an established fact that, as a general rule, although not always, we meet in the middle period of our lives, as a result of karmic guidance, the very people who were once our parents. It is unlikely that we meet in early childhood the persons who were once our parents. This happens during the middle of life. This may appear as a strange fact, but this is the way it is. When we attempt to apply such rules to the experience of life, and when we direct our thoughts accordingly, then we can learn a great deal.

When a person at about the age of thirty establishes a relationship to another, either through the bonds of love or of friendship, or when they get involved in conflict, or in any other experience, we will understand a great deal more about these relationships if we consider hypothetically that the person may have once been related to the other as a child is to his parents.

[2/ Childhood connections now have been met in one of our previous incarnations around the 30th year]

In reversing this relationship, we discover another remarkable fact.

The very people with whom we have been associated in our early childhood, such as parents, sisters and brothers, playmates and other companions, as a rule are the very people whom we have met in the previous or one of our previous incarnations around our thirtieth year. These people frequently appear as our parents, sisters or brothers in the present incarnation.

Curious as this may appear to us at first, let us try to apply it to life. The experience of life becomes enlightened if we look at it in this way. We may, of course, err in our speculation. But if, in solitary hours, we look at life so that it is filled with meaning, we can gain a great deal. Obviously, we must not arrange karma to our liking; we must not choose the people we like and assume that they may have been our parents. Prejudices must not falsify the real facts. You realize the danger that we are exposed to and the many misconceptions that may creep in. We must educate ourselves to remain open-minded and unbiased.

[3/ People we meet in second half of our life]

You may now ask what the relation is to the people we meet during the declining curve of our lives.

We have discovered that

  • at the beginning of our lives, we meet people with whom we were acquainted during the middle period of a previous life,
  • while now during the middle of our lives, we recognize those with whom we were involved at the beginning of previous existences.

But how about the period of our descending life?

The answer is that we may be led to people with whom we were involved in a previous life, or we may not yet have been involved with them.

They will have been connected with us in a previous life if we are meeting under special circumstances that occur at decisive junctures of a life span, when, for example, a bitter disappointment confronts us with a serious probation. In such a situation, it is likely that we are meeting during the second period of our lives people with whom we were previously connected. Thereby conditions are dislodged and experiences that were caused in the past can be resolved.

Karma works in many ways and one cannot force it into definite patterns. But as a general rule, it can be stated that during the second half of our lives we encounter people with whom the karmic connections that are beginning to be woven cannot be resolved in one life.

Let us assume that we have caused suffering to someone in a previous life. It is easy to assume that the wiser man in us will lead us back to this person in a subsequent life in order that we may equalize the harm that we have done. But life conditions cannot always permit that we can equalize everything, but perhaps only a part of it. Thereby matters are complicated, and it becomes possible that such a remainder of karma may be corrected in the second half of life. Looking at it this way, we are placing our connections and communications with other people in the light of this karma.


On the Connection of the Living and the Dead

Hence you will understand what I now have to say. Bear in mind this whole relation of the dead to the living, in so far as it rests on Inspirations. Remember that the inspirations are always there, even if they pass unnoticed. They are perpetually living in the human astral body, so that the human being upon earth has his relations to the dead in this direct way, too. Now, after all that we have said, you will well understand that these relationships depend on our whole mood and spirit here in our life on earth. If our attitude to other people is hostile, if we are without interest or sympathy for our contemporaries above all, if we have not an unprejudiced interest in our fellow human beings — then are the dead unable to approach us in the way they long to do. They cannot properly transplant themselves into our souls, or, if they must do so, in one way or another it is made difficult for them and they can only do it with great suffering and pain. All in all, the living-together of the dead with the living is complicated. Thus man goes on working beyond the time when he passes through the Gate of Death, even directly, inasmuch as after death he inspires those who are living on the physical plane. And this is absolutely true. Notably as to their inner habits and qualities — the way they think and feel and develop inclinations — those who are living at any given time on earth are largely dependent on those who died and passed from the earth before them, who were related to them during their life, or to whom they themselves established a relation even after death — which may sometimes happen, though it is not so easy.


In order to gain an understanding of the kind for which a number of our friends here have expressed a wish, we must now also work on achieving a comprehension of the concrete reality of a folk soul. For our materialistic age and way of feeling tends to make us confuse the folk soul with the individual soul. I mean, when we speak of a people, a nation, we believe that this has something to do with the individuals who constitute this nation. To use a rather rough-and-ready, though graphic comparison: To say that an Englishman or a German can be identified with the folk soul of his nation is, for the spiritual scientist, as nonsensical as saying that a son or daughter can be identified with father or mother.

This is a rough-and-ready comparison, as I said, because on the one hand we are dealing with two physical people, whereas on the other we mean one physical and one non-physical being, which differ totally from one another when examined concretely. Not until there is an understanding of the mysteries of repeated earth lives and of the karma which these involve will there really be a comprehension of what underlies all this, which it is highly necessary to understand if one wants to speak on a firm basis about these things.

An immensely important truth lies in the fact that one lives within a certain folk spirit only for a single incarnation, whereas one bears within one's own individual being something quite different, something immeasurably greater and yet also immeasurably smaller than that which lives within a folk soul. To identify oneself with a folk soul is, in reality, totally devoid of meaning once one goes beyond what is described by such words as love of the fatherland, love of the homeland, patriotism and so on. We shall only understand these things properly, once we can look earnestly and deeply at the truths of reincarnation and karma.

I have spoken recently in various places about the connection between the human soul between death and rebirth and what comes into being when man enters a new existence through birth. I pointed out that between death and rebirth man is linked with the forces which bring people together over many generations. Through the ever-repeated union of different pairs of parents and all that leads to descendants, as well as other aspects of the succession of generations, it comes about that the human being between death and rebirth finds himself within a whole stream which, in the end, leads him to the parents through whom he can incarnate. Just as in physical life one is linked with one's physical body, so between death and rebirth is one linked with the conditions which prepare for birth through a particular pair of parents. One is immersed in the forces which bring one to particular parents, and which brought father and mother to their parents, and so on back through the generations, in all their offshoots and ramifications, and whatever works together here in the most varied ways — in all this one is immersed for centuries!

Consider the imposing number of centuries one would remain within all this in order to pass through a mere thirty generations. The period from Charlemagne to the present day encompasses approximately thirty generations, and over all that time, in all that has taken place in the way of meeting, falling in love and begetting descendants which at last led to our own parents — in all this we have ourselves been involved, all this we have ourselves prepared.


synopsis includes

  • Necessity and Freedom. In the destiny of two individuals, Moon-existence and Sun-existence are at work: the connection before the meeting is determined by the Moon-existence, by Necessity; happenings after the meeting is determined by the Sun, by Freedom.
  • After the karmic meeting of two human beings the thread of the karma reaching back into the Past is woven into the thread stretching into the Future.

Now let us try to discover how the forces of the Sun and Moon work in the web of our destiny.

We meet some human being. As a rule the fact that we have met him is enough in itself; we accept life as it comes without being very observant or giving it much thought. But deeper scrutiny of individual human life reveals that when two persons meet, their paths have been guided in a remarkable way. Think of two individuals, one aged twenty-five and the other aged twenty, who meet; they can look back over the course of their lives hitherto and it will be evident to each of them that every single happening in the life of the one, say the twenty-year-old, had impelled him from quite a different part of the world to this meeting, at this particular place, with the other. The same will be true of the twenty-five-year-old. In the forming of destiny very much depends upon the fact that human beings, starting from different parts of the world, meet as though guided by an iron necessity directly to the meeting-point. No thought is given to the wonders that can be revealed by studies of this kind but human life is infinitely enriched by insight into such situations and impoverished without it. If we begin to think about our relationship to some human being whom we seem to have met quite by accident, we shall have to say to ourselves that we had been looking for him, seeking for him, ever since we were born into this earthly existence ... and as a matter of fact, even before then. But I do not want to go into that at the moment. We need only remind ourselves that we should not have come across this individual if at some earlier point in earthly life we had taken only a slightly different direction to the left or to the right and had not gone the way we did. As I said, people do not give any thought to these matters. But it is sheer arrogance to believe that something to which one pays no attention is non-existent. It is a fact and will eventually reveal itself to observation. There is, however, a significant difference between what takes place before the actual meeting of two individuals and what takes place from that moment onwards. Before they met in earthly life, they had influenced each other without having any knowledge of the other's existence. After the meeting the mutual influence continues, but now they know each other. And this again is the beginning of something extremely significant.

Naturally, we also meet many individuals in life for whom we have not been seeking. I will not say that we meet a great many people of whom we might think that it would have been better not to have done so! I am not suggesting any such thing ... but at all events we do meet many individuals of whom we cannot say that we have deliberately set out to find them.

If what I have now been saying is viewed in the light of Spiritual Science, it becomes clear that what has been in operation between two human beings before they actually meet in earthly life is determined by the Moon, whereas everything that takes place between them after their meeting is determined by the Sun. Hence what occurs between two human beings before they become acquainted can only be regarded as the outcome of iron necessity and what happens afterwards as the expression of freedom, of mutually free relationship and behaviour. It is indeed true that when we get to know a human being our soul subconsciously looks back and forward: back to the spiritual Moon, forward to the spiritual Sun. And with this is connected the weaving of our karma, our destiny.

Very few people today have faculties for perceiving these things. But it is precisely because these faculties are beginning to develop that so much in our age is in a state of ferment. The faculties are already present in numbers of human beings, only they are unaware of it and ascribe the effects to all kinds of other causes. In reality these faculties of perception are striving to function so that when human beings become acquainted with one another they may realise how much is due to iron necessity, to the forces of the Moon, and how their relationship will go forward in the light of the Sun, in the light of freedom. To experience destiny in this way is itself part of the cosmic destiny of humanity today and on into the future. When we meet a human being in the world we can distinguish quite clearly between two kinds of relationship. In the case of one individual the relationship proceeds from the will, in the case of another, it proceeds more or less from the intellect, or even from the aesthetic sense.

Think of the subtle differences in the relationships between human beings even in childhood or youth. We may love an individual or perhaps we hate him. If our feelings do not reach this intensity, we shall feel sympathy or antipathy; our feelings in this case do not go very deep — we just pass him by or let him pass us by. It cannot be denied that this was how we felt about most of our teachers at school; and we should count ourselves fortunate if it was not so.

But a quite different kind of relationship is possible, even in childhood. It is when we are so inwardly affected by what we see a person do, that we say: we must do it too! The relationship between us makes us choose him as a hero, as one we must follow on the path to Olympus. In short, some human beings have an effect upon our intellect, or at best upon our aesthetic sympathy or antipathy; and others have a direct effect upon our will.

Or think of the other side of life. External circumstances may bring us into very close contact with certain individuals — yet we simply cannot dream about them. We may meet others only once, yet we never seem to be free of them, we are always dreaming about them. If a more intimate association is not vouchsafed to us in this present earthly life, this will have to be reserved for other incarnations. However that may be, our relationship to a human being is deeper if, as soon as we meet him, we begin to dream about him.

There is also a sort of waking dreaming, which in the case of most people to-day lacks clear definition. But as you know, there are also initiated human beings who experience life very differently. If we meet an individual who makes an impression upon our will, he will also have an effect upon our ‘inner speech:’ he will not only speak when he is face to face with us; he will also speak out of us. If we are initiated into the secret of cosmic existence we shall know that there is a double relationship between individuals when they meet: we may meet one person to whom we shall listen, and then go on our way; we need never listen to him any more. Others we may meet to whom we shall listen, but when we go away from them they still seem to be speaking — but out of our own inner being: they are there and they really do seem to speak in this way.

What happens in the case of an Initiate is as I have just described: he actually carries within him, in the very quality of his voice, those who have made this impression on him. In those who are not initiated this also takes place, but only in the realm of feeling; it is there all the same, but subconsciously. Let us suppose that we meet an individual and then come across other people who know him as well and will remark what a splendid fellow he is. This means that they have thought about the man and have formed a judgement based on the intellect. But we do not call everyone we meet a splendid fellow or a cad, as the case may be; there are individuals who have an effect upon our will — which as I have said, leads a kind of sleeping existence within us during our waking life. The effect is that we feel we simply must follow or oppose them. In one who is not initiated, these individuals, even if they do not speak within him, live in his will.

What then exactly is the difference between these two kinds of relationship?

  • When we meet other human beings who have no effect upon our will, but of whom we do no more than form a judgement, then there is no strong karmic connection between us; we have had little to do with them in earlier earthly lives.
  • Individuals who affect our very will, so that they seem to be always with us, whose form is so strongly impressed upon us that they are always in our thoughts, so that we dream of them even in our waking life — these are the individuals with whom we have had a great deal to do in our past earthly lives, with whom we are as it were cosmically connected through the gate of the Moon; whereas in our present life we are connected through the Sun with everything that lives in us without any element of the necessity belonging to Moon existence.

Thus is destiny woven. On the one side man has his isolated ‘head-existence’ which has considerable independence. Even physically this head-existence raises itself all the time above the general conditions of man's cosmic existence, and in the following way — the brain weighs on average 1,500 grammes, and with this weight it would crush all the underlying blood vessels. Just think of it — a weight of 1,500 grammes pressing on those delicate blood vessels! But this does not happen. Why not? Simply because the brain is embedded in the cerebral fluid. If you have learnt any physics, you will know that a body in water loses as much of its weight as the weight of the volume of water it displaces — this is the so-called principle of Archimedes. The actual weight of the brain is therefore about 20 grammes, because the brain floats in the cerebral fluid. Hence the brain in the body presses with a weight of only 20 grammes — certainly not with its actual weight of 1,500 grammes. The brain is isolated and has its own existence.

As we go about the world, the brain is like a man sitting in his motor-car. The man himself does not move; the car moves and he sits still. And our brain as the bearer of intellect has an isolated existence. That is why the intellect is so independent of our individuality. If each of us had our own separate and distinct intellect this would augur badly for any mutual understanding! We are able to understand one another only because we all possess the same principle of intellect, although naturally there are differences of degree. But intellect is a universal principle. Human beings can understand one another through the intellect which is independent of their individual qualities. Whatever appears in human destiny as something belonging to the immediate Present — such as the meeting of two people — works upon the intellect and impulses of feeling associated with the intellect. In these cases we speak of someone as a ‘splendid fellow’ in whom we have no further interest than that he has had an effect upon our intellect. Everything that is not part of our karma has an effect upon the intellect; everything that is part of our karma and links us with other human beings as a result of experiences once shared with the individuals we now meet — all this works through those depths of human nature which lie in the will. And so it is true that the will is working even before we actually meet a human being with whom we are karmically connected. The will is not always illumined by the intellect. Just think how much in the working of the will is shrouded in darkness! The karma which leads two human beings together is shrouded in the deepest obscurity of all; they become dimly aware that karma is working from the way in which their wills are involved. The moment they come face to face the intellect begins to work; and what is then woven by the intellect can become the basis for future karma. But in essentials — not wholly, but in essentials — it would be true to say that for two human beings who are karmically connected, their karma has worked itself out when the meeting has taken place. Only what they may do after that as a continuation of what lives in the unconscious — that and that alone becomes part of the stream of future karma. But a great deal is then woven into their destiny which has an effect only on the intellect and its sympathies and antipathies. Past and Future, Moon existence and Sun existence are here intermingled. The thread of karma that reaches into the past is interwoven with the thread that reaches into the future.

We can actually gaze into cosmic existence. For if we watch the Sun rising in the morning and look at the Moon at night, we can glimpse in their mutual relationships a picture of how Necessity and Freedom are interwoven in our own destiny. And if, with a concrete idea of the mingling of Necessity and Freedom in human destiny, we again contemplate the Sun and the Moon, they will begin to unveil their spirituality to us. Then we shall not speak like the unwitting physicists who when they look at the Moon merely say that it reflects the light of the Sun ... but when we see this light of the Moon which is the same as the light of the Sun, we shall rather speak of the weaving of cosmic destiny.


If we now turn from the cosmic aspect to man himself, we find that human destiny is woven in a wonderful way out of two kinds of circumstances. When two individuals meet each other, one of them, let us say, in his twenty-fifth year, the other in his thirtieth, it may be the case — not, of course, always — that when the one or the other looks back over his life up to this point he realises with absolute certainty that each of them has pursued his path of life as though they were deliberately seeking for one another.

To ignore such things simply denotes lack of thought. The child had already set out upon the path that led inevitably to the other human being and the latter's path too led to the common meeting-point.

All this took place in the subconscious realm — but what has been at work there?

Think of the one individual as A and the other as B. Before entering into earthly life, A descended through the Moon sphere. The Moon Beings had inscribed in their records and also into his astral body, what he had experienced in common with B in the past earthly life, and these entries made by the Moon Beings in the Akasha Chronicle influenced the paths taken by both A and B. From the moment they meet, the subconscious is no longer all-important, for the two now come face to face and make a certain impression on one another. This is not a case of conservation of the past; it is the present that is now at work. The angels intervene and lead the individuals concerned to further stages. The forces of Sun existence are now operating, so that within a man's inmost being, Sun and Moon together weave his destiny. This can be clearly visualised by thoughtful perception of the course of human life.

When two individuals meet, the impression they make upon each other may be intrinsically different.

[first type of meeting]

There are cases where one of the two takes the other right into the sphere of his will, of his feelings. The outer, personal impression has had little influence here. Intellectualists have no understanding of what is going on inwardly in such cases, for one of the most wonderful experiences imaginable is to see what kind of relationship is formed when two human beings come across each other for the first time.

It may happen that A takes B into the sphere of his will by saying to himself: What B does I want to do myself; what pleases him, also pleases me. Now B may be unsightly and unattractive and nobody can conceive that he could possibly be pleasing to A. You see, the attraction in this case is not caused by the reasoning mind or by the sense-impressions, but by the deeper forces of the soul — by the will and what goes from the will into the heart. However unsightly the other may be, he has become so only in the present earthly life. The origin of the bond between the two lies in the experiences they shared in the previous life. Seen from outside it seems that the two cannot possibly live in harmony, but the fact is that what is present subconsciously in each of them leads their wills together. Even in childhood this often becomes evident. A child tries so hard to be like “him,” to have the same wishes as “he” has, to feel as “he” feels. A karmic connection is certainly present in such circumstances.

That is one kind of meeting between individuals and if they were alive to such happenings — as will inevitably be the case in a by no means distant future, when more attention will be paid to man's inner nature — the working of the will would indicate that past earthly lives have already been spent in company with such individuals; moreover subconscious soul-forces give hints of experiences shared with others in the past incarnation.

[second type of meeting]

The other kind of meeting is this. One individual comes across another but no relationship whatever is established between their wills; the aesthetic or mental impression is predominant. How often it happens that a man A makes the acquaintance of man B, but does not afterwards refer to him with the warmth or abhorrence with which he speaks of someone with whom he has a karmic connection from earlier times. One may praise an individual with whom there is no karmic tie, one may appreciate him, consider him a splendid fellow, but he makes no effect upon the will — he makes an effect only upon the mind, upon the aesthetic sense.

That is the second kind of meeting between individuals. If the effect made by the two upon each other reaches into the will, into the heart, into the inmost nature, then a karmic connection exists; the two individuals have been led to each other as the result of common experiences in the past earthly life. If an effect made by another person reaches only into the intellect, into the aesthetic sense, this is not an outcome of the Moon's activity, but a situation brought about by the Sun and one that will have its sequel only in the future. And so through a thoughtful, observant study of human life we can learn to perceive the signs of karmic connections.


The teachings can be understood even when one is not an Initiate, but through Initiation-Science they become much more concretely real and are experienced differently. Therefore someone who is sufficiently advanced is able to speak in a different way about the web of human destiny that is woven out of the past, the present and the future. The experiences of a person who has reached a certain stage of Initiation become much more concrete. — Suppose that somebody is standing in front of you; he tells you something and you hear it clearly. An Initiate can hear the inner voice as well as the outer; he can hear the spiritual speech which is no less clear than ordinary human speech. A person with whom an Initiate was karmically connected in the past and whom he meets in the present life, speaks to him as clearly and unambiguously as people speak in the ordinary way. The Initiate hears an inner speech. You will say: then an Initiate must have around him a whole collection of people who speak to him with varying degrees of clarity. And that is actually the case. At the same time it is concrete proof of the way in which the previous earthly life has been spent. I have said that the Moon Beings, the great Recorders, register destiny; but immediately an Initiate encounters someone with whom he was karmically connected in the previous earthly life, the light of the Full Moon radiates to him the recorded ‘entries’ of the other individual.

What we think and do in the immediate present does not at once speak to us, but after a certain time, by no means very long, our deeds that have been registered by the Moon Beings become living and, in a sense, articulate. The Akashic pictures are living pictures; if you discover the content of a past earthly life you learn to know both yourself and the other human being concerned. Common experiences of the past incarnation rise up into consciousness; no wonder that we hear them speak both from within ourselves and from within the other individual. We are united inwardly with those with whom we were associated in the previous earthly life.

In the future men must develop a delicate feeling for the stirrings of the will when meeting another person. In about seven to nine thousand years all human beings on the Earth will be able to hear those with whom they are karmically connected, speaking from within.

Now if, after Initiation has been attained, a meeting takes place with someone with whom there is no karmic bond, who is encountered for the first time, again the experience is different. Naturally, an Initiate may also come across individuals with whom he is not karmically connected. In any case his experience will differ from that of others. He has a fine and delicate feeling for new facts revealed by the individual confronting him, in this case, as a cosmic being.

An individual encountered for the first time enables us to see more deeply into the Cosmos. It is a piece of good fortune to meet such a person and recognition that this meeting enlarges our knowledge of the world must develop into fine sensitivity. An Initiate has a certain obligation in connection with every individual with whom he has no karmic connection from the past, whom he encounters for the first time in the Cosmos (the spiritual world). He must link himself with the spiritual Being belonging to the realm of the Angeloi who is the Guardian Spirit of this individual. He must become acquainted not only with the individual himself but with his Guardian Angel as well. The Guardian Angel of this individual speaks unambiguously from within him. Hence when an Initiate encounters different human beings with whom he has no karmic bond, he hears a clear and definite speech. He hears what the Angeloi of these individuals are saying.

This gives a certain character to the intercourse between an Initiate and ordinary men. He takes into himself what the Angelos wishes to say to the person who has come into his ken; he transforms himself as it were into the Angelos of this person and what he can say to the latter is therefore more intimate than it is for ordinary consciousness. The Initiate is actually a different being in all his contacts with individuals whose first meeting with him is in the Cosmos, because he has identified himself with the Angelos of each individual concerned. This is the secret of the faculty of self-transformation possessed by those who with the power bestowed by Initiation come face to face with other men. People to-day have very little feeling for such things compared with the faculty of perception they possessed in centuries by no means very long ago. It might have happened then that a sage, confronting twenty other persons, would have been described quite differently by each of them. The commonplace verdict in such circumstances would be that as each of the twenty descriptions given was quite different from all the rest, none of the twenty writers actually saw the individual in question. But perhaps they all did! He changed in every case by establishing a link with the Angelos of each person concerned.


When the meeting between an initiate and some individual takes place for the first time in the cosmos, the initiate has to establish contact with the angel of that individual. In doing so he acquires a great deal of knowledge about the outer spiritual world. In point of fact one cannot acquire deeper knowledge of other human beings through spiritual faculties without learning to know a host of angeloi. A true knowledge of man is impossible without knowledge of the angel. Just as human beings not karmically connected with each other acquire knowledge of the surrounding world through ordinary perception, the initiate gains knowledge of the world of the angeloi — which is then the bridge between himself and the higher hierarchies.

There are also other indications of the existence of a karmic connection.

  • We may meet an individual and then have a great deal to do with him, work with him and so on, but we never dream about him. The reason is that the karmic connection is not with our astral body, but only with our I.
  • We may come across someone of whom we have only a fleeting glance and yet he follows us into our very dreams — into our waking dreams too. Our picture of him is quite unconnected with his outward appearance and has arisen entirely in the inner life, because we have a karmic tie with him.
  • Again we may meet someone with whom we are karmically connected and feel impelled to paint him. An artist may paint a portrait in which an uncultured person sees no likeness whatever, whereas an initiate may recognise a previous incarnation of the individual whose portrait has been painted. We get to know someone with whom we have a karmic connection in the depths of his being although the knowledge may remain subconscious. Through individuals with whom we have had no previous karmic connection, whom we meet for the first time, we enlarge our knowledge of humanity in general.

discusses that Moon-beings record the destinies which individuals have in common.

A man's life here on Earth in his physical body is interwoven with what we call destiny. Destiny or ‘karma’ — the oriental term we are accustomed to use — is a very mysterious factor in human life but its most significant connections are not always perceived.

Suppose two people who have never seen each other before, meet at a particular moment.

  • From this moment something that is the result of joint action begins to play a part in their lives. Their recognition of each other is mutual and they know that from now on they will have a great deal to do with each other.
  • If two people in this situation review the course of their lives since childhood, they will find, if they observe with sufficient detachment, that everything they did up to the moment of their meeting had a definite significance in that every step they took since childhood seems from the beginning to have been so cleverly directed that the path led them to the point where the meeting took place. If, starting from the time when they met and began to form a friendship, they look back over their past lives without preconceived notions it will seem that since a certain starting-point in their distant childhood, every step led them inevitably to the place where they finally met.
  • Whatever they did so purposefully was of course done unconsciously; the conscious period began only after the meeting but the conscious and the unconscious unite in a remarkable way. In the weaving of our destiny there is a great difference between
    • the path we have arranged unconsciously so that we may meet the other person, and
    • what we do after the meeting has taken place. Then he is actually before us, we understand what he says and we adjust our actions to what he is doing in external life; thereafter we lead a common life of which our senses and intellect are aware.

But we shall see how that common life is interwoven with what we did until the time we met.

We may well ask: what is it that is taking effect in all these forces and movements which finally bring us together?

There may also be some event lying ahead of us. Every aspect of destiny comes into consideration. We shall find that there is a great difference between experiences of the two kinds of events. There are, in fact, two ways of encountering another human being in life.

  • In the one case we immediately have a feeling, or at least we have it as soon as we have come across the man or the event in question — a feeling which we take into the sphere of our will. We get to know the person: what he is, what he now does in company with us — all this we experience in the realm of our will; we want to think as he thinks, to feel as he feels, to will as he wills. We actually feel that he is beginning to be active within our own being. He sets something astir within us, something that originates in him but nevertheless lives in our will and from our will pervades our whole soul. Indeed we learn in this way to know ourselves better, inasmuch as in our life of will and in the deeper feelings connected with our will, we become aware that the person not only makes an impression upon us from outside, but stirs something into activity within us. That is one way in which our destined encounter with another human being takes effect.
  • In another case we are less inwardly stirred by an acquaintanceship; we observe the person more from outside, forming an opinion of him by the impression he makes upon our intelligence, upon our aesthetic sense.

There is a very great difference between these two kinds of acquaintanceship.

Suppose we get to know someone, then we go away and are tempted to talk about our new acquaintance. There will be a noticeable difference in the way we speak about the different people we know. On one occasion the way in which we speak makes it quite obvious to others that we are putting something of ourselves into our words. We may speak about the other person as though he were handsome, but in point of fact he is the very reverse and those who are listening simply cannot understand why we speak of him as we do; he appears to them to be the reverse of good-looking, hence they cannot understand how anyone can possibly rhapsodise about him. But we are not in the least concerned with what others may see in him from an aesthetic point of view; we are not talking about the impression he makes upon us from outside. We are talking about the inner effect he arouses in us and what we say about him need not tally with the impression he makes upon others.

In the case of another acquaintance it is different. We have a good eye for whether he is handsome or the reverse. From the way we speak it is clear that here the impressions made upon our intellect, our senses and our aesthetic judgement have been the criterion. We may, for instance, refer to him as a fine fellow. You know quite well that there are acquaintances of whom it would never occur to us to speak in this superficial way. The actual language we use is such that other people will immediately understand what we mean, if they know the individual or get to know him later on.

It is a simple fact that these are two ways of describing individuals we meet. The first case indicates that when we meet the individual in question the existence we share in the previous earthly life is set astir within us; something is pointing back to earlier incarnations when we lived in each other's company. In the second case we judge externally; we express our opinions in a way that others can immediately understand, because we were not together in an earlier earthly life but may perhaps have met him for the very first time in the present incarnation.

If spiritual insight enables us to penetrate to what lies at the root of the destiny which reveals itself in so definite a form in the first case, we shall find the following. — Before the human being comes down to physical existence on Earth and while, before the actual descent, he is passing through the Moon sphere, there is implanted into his astral body the karma he shares in common with other human beings. It is implanted into him for his present earthly existence by those Beings who once lived on Earth together with men and who then withdrew to the Moon sphere. These are the Beings through whose sphere we pass before we descend into earthly existence. It is they who since they left the Earth and their companionship with men, concern themselves with recording the destiny which individuals have in common. Thus it is that when we come across another person in the first of the two ways I described, what reverberates within us has been recorded in those great books of destiny kept by the Moon Beings with their knowledge of the lives of men on Earth. These are books in which spiritual ‘accounts’ are kept and they contain entries of everything we have experienced in common with other men. As we pass through the Moon sphere we read in those books what we are to bring with us to the Earth, and then, with the help of what we have thus read, we direct our path — perhaps for twenty-five to thirty years — until we finally meet in earthly existence the individual of whom we had read in these Moon-books before we descended to the Earth that we had shared certain experiences with him in a previous earthly life.


discusses the significance of contemporary existence for repeated earthly lives

What sort of person is it, generally speaking, whom you may confront so as to know that you are karmically related to one another?

I must reply with a word which is sometimes used in a rather off-hand way nowadays: such a person is a “contemporary”; he is with us simultaneously on the earth.

Bearing this in mind, you will say to yourself: If you are with certain human beings in a life on earth, then you were with them in a former life (generally speaking, at least; there may of course, be displacements). And you were with them again in a life before it.

Now what of those who live fifty years later than you? They again were with other human beings in their former lives on earth. As a general rule, according to this line of thought, the human beings of the B series —shall I call it — will not come together with human beings of the A series.

It is an oppressive thought, but it is true. I shall afterwards speak of other doubts and questions, such as arise, for instance, when people say — as they so often do — “Humanity goes on increasing and increasing on the earth,” and other things of that kind. Today, however, I want to put this thought before you; perhaps it is an oppressive thought, but it is none the less true.

It is a fact that the continued life of mankind on earth takes place in rhythms. One group of human beings generally goes forward from one earthly life to another; so does another group, and they are in a certain sense separated from one another. They do not find their way together in the earthly life, but only in the long intervening life between death and a new birth. There, indeed, they find their way together, but not in the earthly life. We come down again and again with a limited circle of people. Precisely from the point of view of reincarnation, to be contemporaries is a thing of inner importance, inner significance.

Why is it so? I can assure you, on the basis of spiritual science, this question, which may well occupy one intellectually to begin with, has caused me the greatest imaginable pain. For it is necessary to bring out the truth, the inner nature of the fact. Thus you may ask: Why was I not a contemporary of Goethe's? Not having been a contemporary of Goethe's in this life, generally speaking — according to these truths — you can more or less conclude that you have never lived with him on earth. Goethe belongs to another group.

What lies behind this? You must reverse the question; but to do so, you must have a real feeling, a perception of what the life of men together really is. You must be able to ask yourself a question on which I shall have very much to say in the near future:

What is it really to be another man's contemporary? What is it, on the other hand, only to be able to know of him from history, as far as earthly life is concerned? What is it like?

We must indeed have a free mind, a sensitive heart, to answer these intimate questions:

What is it like — with all the accompanying inner experiences of the soul — when a contemporary man is speaking to you, or doing any actions that come near you? What is it like?

And having gained the necessary perception of this, you must then be able to compare it with what it would be like if you encountered a person who is not your contemporary, and probably has never been so in any life on earth, whom you may none the less revere — more, perhaps, than any of your contemporaries. What would it be like if you met him as a contemporary? In a word — forgive the personal note — what would it be like if I were a contemporary of Goethe? If you are not an insensitive, indifferent kind of person ... Needless to say, if you are insensitive and have no feeling for what a contemporary can be, you are scarcely in a position to answer such a question. What would it be like if I, walking down the Schillergasse, let us say, towards the Frauenplan in Weimar, had suddenly encountered “the fat Privy Councilor,” say in the year 1826 or 1827? One knows quite well, one could not have borne it. You can stand your contemporary; you cannot bear a man who, in the nature of the case, cannot be your contemporary. In a sense, he acts like a poison on your inner life. You can only bear him inasmuch as he is not your contemporary, but your predecessor or successor.

Of course, if you have no feeling for such things, they remain in the unconscious; but you can well imagine a man who has an intimate feeling for spiritual things ... if he knew that as he went down the Schillergasse towards the Frauenplan in Weimar, he would encounter the “fat Privy Councilor” — Goethe, with the double chin — he would feel himself inwardly impossible. A man who has no feeling for such things — he no doubt would just have taken off his hat!

These things are not to be explained out of the earthly life. The reasons why we cannot be contemporary with a man are in fact, not contained within the earthly life. To see them, we must penetrate into the spiritual facts. Therefore, for earthly life, such things appear paradoxical. Nevertheless, they are as I have said.

I can assure you, with genuine love I wrote the introduction to Jean Paul's works, published in the Cotta'sche Bibliothek der Weltliteratur. Yet, if I had ever had to sit side by side with Jean Paul at Bayreuth, it would have given me a stomach-ache, without doubt! That does not hinder one's having the highest reverence. And it is so for every human being — only with most people it remains in the sub-conscious, in the astral or in the ether-body; it does not affect the physical. The experience of the soul which affects the physical body must also become conscious.

You must be well aware of this, my dear friends. If you want to gain knowledge of the spiritual world, you cannot escape hearing of things which will seem grotesque and paradoxical. The spiritual world is different from the physical. Of course, it is easy enough for anyone to turn to ridicule the statement that if I had been a contemporary of Jean Paul's, it would have given me a stomach-ache to have to sit beside him. That is quite true — it goes without saying for the everyday, banal, philistine world of earthly life. But the laws of the banal and philistine world do not determine the spiritual facts.

You must accustom yourselves to think in other forms of thought, if you wish to understand the spiritual world; you must be prepared to experience many surprising things. When the everyday consciousness reads about Goethe, it may naturally feel impelled to say: “How I should like to have known him personally, to have shaken him by the hand!” and so on. It is a piece of thoughtlessness; for there are laws according to which we are predestined for a given epoch of the earth. In this epoch we can live. It is just as in our physical body we are predestined for a certain pressure of air; we cannot rise above the earth to a height where the pressure no longer suits us. Nor can a man who is destined for the 20th century live in the time of Goethe.


or translation V2 here

touches on karmic connections of friendships

Take our relation to other human beings, which is psychologically very much connected with the conditions of our health and illness, at any rate as regards the general mood and attunement of our soul.

Assume, for example, that someone finds a close friend in his youth. An intimate friendship arises between them; the two are devoted to one another. Afterwards life takes them apart — both of them, perhaps, or one especially — they look back with a certain sadness on their friendship in youth. But they cannot renew it. However often they meet in life, their friendship of youth does not arise again. How very much in destiny can sometimes depend on broken friendships of youth. You will admit, after all, a person's destiny can be profoundly influenced by a broken friendship of youth.

Now one investigates the matter ... I may add that one should speak as little as possible about these things out of mere theory. To speak out of theory is of very little value. In fact, you should only speak of such things either out of direct spiritual perception, or on the basis of what you have heard or read of the communications of those who are able to have direct spiritual vision, provided you yourselves find the communications convincing, and understand them well. There is no value in theorising about these things. Therefore I say, when you endeavour with spiritual vision to get behind such an event as a broken friendship of youth, as you go back into a former life on earth, this is what you generally find. The two people, who in a subsequent earthly life, had a friendship in their youth which was afterwards broken — in an earlier incarnation they were friends in later life.

Let us assume, for instance: two young people — boys or girls — are friends until their twentieth year. Then the friendship of their youth is broken. Go back with spiritual cognition into a former life on earth, and you will find that again they were friends. This time, however, it was a friendship that began about the twentieth year and continued into their later life. It is a very interesting case, and you will often find it so when you pursue things with spiritual science.

Examine such cases more closely and to begin with, this is what you find: If you enjoyed a friendship with a person in the later years of life, you have an inner impulse also to learn to know what he may be like in youth. The impulse leads you in a later life actually to learn to know him as a friend in youth. In a former incarnation you knew him in maturer years. This brought the impulse into your soul to learn to know him now also in youth. You could no longer do so in that life, therefore you do it in the next.

It has a great influence when this impulse arises — in one of the two or in both of them — and passes through death and lives itself out in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. For in the spiritual world, in such a case, there is something like a “staring fixedly” at the period of youth. You have an especial longing to fix your gaze on the time of youth, and you do not develop the impulse to learn to know your friend once more in maturer years. And so, in your next life on earth, the friendship of youth — pre-determined between you by the life you lived through before you came down to earth — is broken.

This is a case out of real life, for what I am now relating is absolutely real.

One question, however, here arises:

What was the older friendship like in the former life, what was it like, that rouses the impulse in you to have your friend with you only in youth in a new life on earth?

The answer is this: for the desire to have the other being beside you in your youth and yet not to develop into a desire to keep him as your intimate friend in later life as well, something else must also have occurred. In all the instances of which I am aware, it has invariably been so: If the two human beings had remained united in their later life, if their friendship of youth had not been broken they would have grown tired and bored with one another: because, in effect, their friendship in maturer years in a former life took a too selfish direction. The selfishness of friendships in one earthly life avenges itself karmically in the loss of the same friendships in other lives.

These things are complicated indeed; but you can always get a guiding line if you see this, for it is so in many cases: Two human beings go their way, each of them apart, say, till their twentieth year; thenceforward they go along in friendship (I). Then in the next earthly life, correspondingly, we generally get this second picture (II) — the picture of friendship in youth, after which their lives go apart.

This too you will find very often:

If, in your middle period of life in one incarnation, you meet a human being who has a strong influence on your destiny (these things, of course, only hold good as a general rule — not in all cases), it is very likely that you had him beside you by forces of destiny at the beginning and at the end of your life in a previous incarnation. Then the picture is: In the one incarnation you live through the beginning and ending of life together; in the other incarnation you are not with him at the beginning or at the end, but you encounter him in the middle period of life.

Or again it may be that in your childhood you are united by destiny with another human being; in a former life you were united with him precisely in the time before you approached your death.

Such inverse reflections often occur in the relationships of karma.


Garibaldi and his bond with three contemporaries. Garibaldi, an Initiate of the ancient Hibernian Mysteries. Lord Byron.

When the question was put to me one day: “What could have been the karmic connections of this personality?” two aspects came into consideration. For the finding of karmic connections is by no means a simple but a very complicated task. I have said already that one must often start from details which although clearly in evidence seem to be of minor importance and be led by them to the principles according to which the facts of the one earthly life are carried over into the later life.


discusses two types of encounters

(example Garibaldi & Victor Emmanuel)

Let us think of how we meet and become acquainted with other human beings. By far the greatest part of our destiny depends upon these meetings. We meet one person or another and the experiences we share with him have an effect upon our life. And precisely the experiences we share with others in different circumstances of life will make it evident to attentive observation that karma is not irreconcilable with the ingrained feeling of the extent to which our actions are the outcome of free decision. After all, we are sent into existence in an epoch of life when as far as earthly impulses are concerned there can be no question of freedom. A very great deal depends upon how we are placed in existence as children. The faculties that are drawn out of us, the paths along which we are directed — all this is of infinite significance in the destiny of our whole life. Later on, as independent human beings, we can of course take a hand in directing our own existence but even then the place assigned to us in childhood is determinative. And so if we observe closely we shall certainly be able to perceive how destiny plays into our free actions, our free deeds and activities.

Think of the following. We meet other human beings and there is clearly a difference between one kind of acquaintanceship and another.

  • We may meet someone for the first time and feel at once that there is a bridge leading over from our soul to his. We may well be strongly drawn to him but not nearly as interested in the details of his outward appearance, whether he is handsome or ugly, whether he looks friendly or ill-disposed. What draws us to him is something that wells up from within us; we feel sympathy towards him. In the case of another person we may actually feel antipathy simply when we are near him and conscious of his presence. Our feeling for him does not depend upon the impression he makes through his actions or what he actually says to us. Such experiences stand in earthly existence like question-marks, like far-reaching problems set us by reality. With both these kinds of acquaintanceship we feel no urge at all to ask: what is the individual really like? What does he actually do? Everything that attracts us to him gathers into an aggregate of feelings arising from experiences and components of our soul-life, feelings which there is no need to justify by what he actually does.
  • But there are acquaintanceships of a different kind, where no such experiences occur. Although there is no feeling of deep-seated sympathy or antipathy, such individuals interest us. We feel an urge to discover whether their attitude is friendly or unfriendly, whether they are gifted or not gifted. Having made such an acquaintanceship it may happen that we meet someone who also knows the person in question and we feel we want to talk about him, to ask about his position in life, who he is, and so forth; we are interested in what he is outwardly. But in connection with an acquaintance of the other category we may find it extremely embarrassing to meet someone who knows him and begins to speak about him. We simply do not want to talk about this person.

Now when spiritual science endeavours to get to the root of an occurrence of this nature, it turns out that if an inexplicable feeling of affection or dislike wells up in us when we meet a particular person, then we have had some karmic tie with him in the past and this has really guided our whole path in such a way that at a certain moment in life we come across him. Experiences shared in past ages shape and determine the feelings we have about him. And it is these feelings that count — not whether he is good-looking or ugly, kindly or ill-disposed. When such feelings are emphatic and distinct and it is possible for spiritual-scientific investigation to shed light upon them, their explanation is forthcoming from what such investigation has to say about karma that was formed in the past. Moreover we shall find this confirmed in many other ways.

During sleep, when we are outside our physical and etheric bodies, living a spiritual existence in the ‘I’ and astral body, dreams occur. But with rigorous self-observation let us ask ourselves whether it is not the case, when certain acquaintanceships are accompanied by these uprising feelings and experiences, that we at once begin to dream about these people. We dream so readily about certain acquaintances. This indicates that there is a connection between the person in question and our own soul-and-spirit which has shared experiences with him either in many lives or maybe in one life only; our ‘I’ and astral body in which we live during sleep, are connected in some way with this individual.

Others whom we may encounter in our profession, business or the like, interest us in the different way I described. It may well happen that we have a great deal to do with them; life throws us together, but we simply cannot dream about them. In such cases the connection belongs only to the present earthly life and the link is made by what binds the soul-and-spiritual part of man to the physical and the etheric. Now it is paramountly the physical and etheric bodies which are involved in interests connected with external activities, outward appearances, and the reason why we cannot dream about these particular people is that the physical and etheric bodies lie there in the bed and the being of soul-and-spirit is not within them. Spiritual science reveals that although karma is certainly at work here it is only now beginning to form and that not until we look back from spiritual existence upon this earthly life will it be possible to say that karmic connections began in that life. In this case, karma is in process of coming into being.


We have heard how karma takes shape, how all that we experience in communion with spiritual beings between death and a new birth works for long ages at the weaving of karma. But if you reflect upon what has here been said about the laws of karma, you will say to yourselves: earthly life brings human beings together and a karmic link is formed between them; they pass together through the life between death and rebirth and in cooperation with higher Beings shape their karma for the next earthly life.

What, then, is the consequence in the earthly life of man? Broadly speaking this: that individuals who have been together in an earthly life where karma begins to form, will endeavour in the next earthly life to find their way to one another again. Once again they will establish karmic links, will again pass through the life between death and rebirth where a still stronger link is forged between them, and again seek for a common earthly existence. And here the remarkable fact comes to light that as Earth-evolution runs its course, human beings live together in groups. Time flows on: a certain group of human beings living as contemporaries in a particular epoch and karmically connected with one another, appears again on the Earth after the life spent between death and rebirth. A different group of human beings linked together by karmic ties appears on the Earth in a common existence; a third group likewise.

As the periods between death and rebirth are by far the longer, it follows that the majority of human beings only meet in the life after death and before birth and that those specially connected with one another by karma pass through evolution in groups, coming together again and again on the Earth. That is the general rule. As a rule it is the case that on Earth we do not encounter those who formerly were not incarnated at the same time as ourselves.


Note 1 - Group followers of Saint-Martin - 18th century in Germany


In the lectures below, Rudolf Steiner lists a number of names in the context of the historical development of theosophy after figures Boehme (1575 – 1624) and Saint-Germain (1743-1803), with two names being mentioned that are not very well known, those of Benger and Ötinger.

A circle of other names is mentioned, and links are made with influences on Schelling and Goethe (eg Hartmann).

Of these names, Rudolf Steiner references Oetinger or Ötinger most of all. So we could call this the Oetinger group and center this cluster of personalities around him.

Therefore one can assume a number of Individualities are described here which are of relevance to the lineage of the Michaelic stream, see also sources of spiritual science.

Lecture references


How theosophical endeavours penetrated Christian endeavours is shown by figures such as Bengel and Oetinger, who worked in Württemberg, men who in their whole way of thinking — if we remember that they lacked the idea of reincarnation — reached all that Man can reach of higher views concerning evolution, in so far as they had made the Christ-Impulse their own. The ground-roots of theosophical life have always existed. Hence there is much that is correct in a treatise on theosophical subjects written by Oetinger in the eighteenth century. In the preface to a book on Oetinger's work, published in 1847, Rothe, who taught in Heidelberg University, wrote:

What Theosophy really wants is often difficult to recognise in the case of the older theosophists ... but it is none the less clear that Theosophy, as far as it has gone today, can claim no scientific status and therefore cannot extend its influence more widely. It would be very hasty to conclude that Theosophy is only an ephemeral phenomenon, and entirely unjustifiable from a scientific standpoint. History already testifies loudly enough to the contrary. It tells us how this enigmatic phenomenon has never been able to accomplish anything, and yet, unnoticed, it is continually breaking through afresh, held together in its most varied forms by the chain of a never-dying tradition.

Now we must remember that the man who wrote this learnt about Theosophy only in the forties of the nineteenth century, as it had come over from many theosophists of the eighteenth. What came over was certainly not clothed in the forms of our scientific thought. It was therefore difficult to believe that the Theosophy of that time could affect wider circles. Apart from this, such a voice, coming to us out of the forties of the nineteenth century, must appear significant when it says:


During the nineteenth century there was a complete loss of understanding for something that the theosophists of the eighteenth century still fully possessed; they called it Zentralsinn (inner light). Oetinger, who worked in Murrhard, near Karlsruhe, was for a time the pupil of a quite simple man in Thuringia, named Voelker, whose pupils knew that he possessed what was called ‘inner light’. What in those days was this ‘inner light’? It was none other than that which now arises in every man when earnestly and with iron energy he works through the content of my book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. It was fundamentally nothing else that this simple man of Thuringia possessed. What he brought into existence — for his time a very interesting Theosophy — was the teaching which influenced Oetinger. It is difficult for a man of the present day to reconcile himself to the knowledge that a deepening of Theosophy occurred so recently, and gave rise to a rich literature, buried though this is in libraries and among antiquarians.

Book of Ten Pages#1917-03-20-GA175

There, although it was then already on the decline, it had reached a certain maturity; and among its most prominent followers stand out the figures of Bengel and Ötinger, who were surrounded by many others.

I will simply name those whom I know best:

  • Friederick Daniel Schubart;
  • Hahn, the mathematician;
  • Steinhofer;
  • the schoolmaster Hartmann, who had a great influence on Jung-Stilling [see below] and even a certain influence on Goethe and knew him personally; and
  • Johann Jacob Moser.

A goodly number of remarkable minds in comparatively humble circumstances, who did not even form a connected circle, but who all lived at the time when Ötinger's star shone in the firmament. Ötinger lived almost through the whole of the eighteenth century; he was born in 1702, and died in 1782, as Prelate in Murrhard. A very remarkable personality, in whom was concentrated in a sense, all that the whole circle contained.

More references on Oetinger or Ötinger

is a lecture that provides context, titled 'history of spiritism'

All the phenomena which spiritism knows were explained that way. There we see the South German Oetinger who elaborated the theory that there is a super-sensible substance which can be seen as a physical phenomenon. Only, he says, the super-sensible matter does not have the raw qualities of the physical matter, not the impenetrable resistance and the row mixture. Here we have the substance from which the materialisations are taken.

Another researcher of this field is Johann Heinrich Jung called Stilling who published a detailed report on spirits and apparitions of spirits and described all these matters. He tried there to understand everything in such a way that he did justice to these phenomena as a religious Christian. Because he had tendencies to be a religious Christian, the whole world seemed to him to manifest nothing but the truth of the Christian teaching. Because at the same time natural sciences made claims, we see a mixture of the purely Christian standpoint with the standpoint of natural sciences in his representation. Esotericism explains the phenomena by the intrusion of a spiritual world into our world.

You see all these phenomena registered in the works of those who wrote about spiritism, demonology, magic et cetera in which you can also find something that goes beyond spiritism, like with Ennemoser, for instance. We see even carefully registered how a person can enable himself to perceive the thoughts of others who are in distant rooms. You find such instructions with Ennemoser, also with others. Already in the 19th century you find with a certain Meyer who wrote a book about the Hades from spiritistic standpoint as a manifestation of spiritistic manipulations and stood up for the so-called reincarnation theory. You find a theory there to which theosophy has led us again, and which shows us that the old fairy tales are expressions of the higher truth prepared for the people. Meyer got this view on account of sensuous demonstrations.

We find all the spiritistic phenomena with Justinus Kerner. They are significant because of the moral weight of the author. There we find, for example, that near the seeress of Prevorst things — spoons et cetera — are repelled by her; it is also told that this seeress communicated with beings of other worlds. Justinus Kerner registered all the communications which he got from her. She informed him that she saw beings of other worlds which went through her, indeed, but which she could perceive and that she could even behold such beings which came in along with other people. Some people may say about these matters: Kerner fantasised and was fooled a lot by his seeress.

However, I would like to say one thing: you know David Friedrich Strauss who was friendly with Justinus Kerner. He knew how it stood with the seeress of Prevorst. You also know that that which he performed goes in a direction which runs against the spiritistic current. He says that the facts of which the seeress of Prevorst reports are true as facts — about that cannot be discussed with those who know something about it, he considered the matters as being beyond any doubt.


During the first half of the nineteenth century, many voices are to be heard speaking in this strain and I will quote one example of a man who lived during that period and had a wide knowledge of the old form of theosophy, but who also knew that owing to the course of events in that century it was bound to disappear; at the same time he was convinced that a future must come when there would be a revival of this old theosophy but in a new form. I am going to read you a passage written towards the end of the first half of the nineteenth century, in 1847. Its author was a thinker of a type no longer in existence today — men who were still sensitive to the last echoes of those old traditions which have now been lost for a considerable time.

‘It is often difficult to learn among the older theosophists what the real purpose of theosophy is ... but it is clear that along the paths it has taken hitherto, theosophy can acquire no real existence as a science nor achieve any result in a wider sphere. Yet it would be very ill-advised to conclude that it is a phenomenon scientifically unjustifiable and also ephemeral. History itself decisively disproves this: it shows how this enigmatic phenomenon could never make itself really effective in the world but for all that was continually breaking through and was held together in its manifold forms by the chain of a never-dying tradition. ... At all times there have been very few in whom this insistent speculative need has been combined with a living religious need. But theosophy is for these few alone. ...

The important thing is that if theosophy ever becomes scientific in the real sense and produces obvious and definite results, these will gradually become the general conviction, be acknowledged as valid truths and be universally accepted by those who cannot find their way along the only possible path by which they could be discovered.

But all this lies in the womb of the future which we do not wish to anticipate. For the moment let us be thankful for the beautiful presentation given by Oetinger, which will certainly be appreciated in wide circles.’

This shows what a man such as Rothe of Heidelberg felt about the theosophical spirit in 1847. The passage is from his Preface to a treatise on Oetinger, a theosophist living in the second half of the eighteenth century.

What, then, can be said about the spirit of theosophy?

It is a spirit without which the genuine cultural achievements of the world would never have been possible. Thinking of its greatest manifestations, we shall say: Without it there would never have been a Homer, a Pindar, a Raphael, a Michelangelo; there would have been no depth of religious feeling in men, no truly spiritual life and no external culture. Everything that man creates he must create from out of the spirit. If he thinks that he can create without it he is ignorant of the fact that although in certain periods spiritual striving falls into decline, the less firmly rooted a thing is in the spirit the more likely it is to die. Whatever has eternal value stems from the spirit and no created thing survives that is not rooted in it. But since everything a man does is under the guidance of the spiritual life, the very smallest creation, even when used for the purposes of everyday life, has an eternal value and connects him with the spirit. We know that our own theosophical life has its source in what we have called the Rosicrucian stream; and it has often been emphasised that since the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Masters of Rosicrucian wisdom have been preparing conditions that began at the end of the nineteenth century and will continue in the twentieth. The future longed for and expected by Rothe of Heidelberg is already the present and should be recognised as such. But those who caused this stream to flow into souls, at first in a way imperceptible to men, have been preparing conditions for a long, long time. In a definite sense what we have called the Rosicrucian path since the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is present in our Theosophical Movement in a more conscious form; its influence has flowed into the hearts and minds of the peoples of Europe and sets its stamp upon them.


There we have Spirit as here we have Nature, and our task is to lead Spirit to Nature.

A beautiful statement is contained in the theosophical literature of the first half of the nineteenth century, a statement made by Oetinger, who lived at Murrhardt, in Wurtemburg, and who was so far advanced in his own spiritual development that at certain times he was able quite consciously to help spiritual beings, that is, souls who were not on the physical plane.

He made the remarkable statement which is very beautiful and very true:

‘Nature and the form of nature is the aim of spiritual creative power.’

What I have just brought down to you from the spiritual world is contained in this sentence. In the spiritual world creative power strives to give reality to that which at first heaves and surges in wisdom. Here, we bring forth wisdom from the physical reality; there we do the reverse. Our task there is to produce realities from wisdom, to carry out in living realities the wisdom we find there. The goal of the Gods is reality in form.


This phrase, ‘The life in the body is the ultimate aim of the Divine Path,’ forms to a certain extent the leading motive of all the works written by Christoph Oetinger, a very noted man nearly a hundred years ago. He drew attention continually to the path that human knowledge and perception must take if it is to recognise these spiritual connections.

What Anthroposophy really desires can already be found in the older Theosophists. But Oetinger wishes to present it in his own way. His editor uttered some beautiful words at the end of his preface, in 1847. He wanted to express that in former times men sought the spiritual path, but in their own way; but that the time would come, and was not far distant, in which that which one had really always sought, would be grasped with full scientific consciousness. His editor says:

‘The essential point is that when Theosophy becomes a real science and brings forth definite results, these will gradually become the universal conviction of humanity. Yet this rests in the bosom of the future, which we do not wish to anticipate.’

Thus spake Richard Rothe, the Heidelberg professor, in referring to the Theosophist, Christoph Oetinger, in November, 1847.

What Spiritual Science strives for has already existed, but in another form. Today it is necessary to find it in just the form most appropriate for our time. And as I have often said, ‘the thought of Natural Science has to-day reached a standpoint from which, out of the method of that science herself, the right scientific form must be sought for what lived in Theosophy of all times.’ And when Rothe, as the editor of Oetinger, says that what the latter implies ‘rests in the bosom of the future,’ we must remember that what in 1847 was the future has certainly matured into the present of our time.

We are confronting time when we can prove — for it was but one example which I have brought before you to-day in the novel Hofrat Eysenhardt, by Alfred von Berger — that human souls are really ripe to approach the spiritual truths, but that they morally lack the courage to grasp them in reality.


The below expands on the names Rudolf Steiner 'dropped' in those two lectures and provides context from simple internet research (source statements and references listed)

The below shows how:

  • Bengel was influenced by Spinoza (KRI 53)
  • Rothe got to know Hegel and studied under him
  • Oetinger knew Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) (KRI 39) and had a major influence on the personalities listed on Schema FMC00.243A and Schema FMC00.497 above.
  • how students who pick up major thought material, ideas and ideals, or in general 'influences', pass these influences to provide seeds for new waves of incarnating Individualities, see the example of Steinhofer's influence on Goethe.

As usual sources from simple internet research using google and wikipedia:

  • Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752) - also known as Bengelius, was a Lutheran pietist clergyman and Greek-language scholar known for his edition of the Greek New Testament and his commentaries on it.
    • from wikipedia:
      • studied the works of Aristotle and Spinoza ... his knowledge of the metaphysics of Spinoza was such that he was selected by one of the professors to prepare materials for a treatise, De Spinosismo, which was afterwards published.
      • Bengel’s calculations regarding a date for the return of Christ and the end-times influenced not only his contemporary, John Wesley, but also Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, whose inclusion of Bengel’s date into his famous novel, Das Heimweh (Homesickness or Nostalgia) inspired many German Pietists at the time to emigrate towards the east, where they sought safety until Christ’s return. The great German theologian, inventor and astronomer, Philipp Matthäus Hahn, [1739 - 1790] constructed an astronomical clock inspired by Bengel’s eschatological calculations, and his granddaughter, Pauline Beate, was to marry Christoph Hoffmann, the founder of the Adventist group, the German Templers.
  • Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702-1782) - was a German Lutheran theologian and theosopher.
    • from wikipedia
      • studied philosophy and Lutheran theology and was impressed by the works of Jakob Böhme, and also devoted attention to Leibniz and Wolff
      • Oetinger translated a part of Emanuel Swedenborg's philosophy of heaven and earth, and added notes of his own. In 1760 he defended Swedenborg's work and invited him to Germany. His treatise Swedenborg's and other Earthly and Heavenly Philosophies was published in 1765
    • from wikipedia (DE, translated)
      • As a theology student at the Protestant monastery in Tübingen, Oetinger came across Jakob Böhme's writings in 1725, which he studied intensively from then on
      • In 1763, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger wrote a book about the Teinacher Lehrtafel and its teachings after years of studying the Kabbalah. Kabbalistic teachings can be found in his sermons to the parishes of Herrenberg and Weinsberg and in his dogmatic textbook.
      • Oetinger influenced many poets and thinkers, such as Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Friedrich Hölderlin, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (especially his middle and late phases), Justinus Kerner, Eduard Mörike and Hermann Hesse. Even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's library contained a work by Oetinger from his time in Murrhardt, which contains theoretical explanations of music: Die Metaphysic in Connexion mit der Chemie.

then the quote (see bold italic above in ao 1915-12-14-GA157A and 1911-06-10-GA124) Rudolf Steiner mentioned several times in the context to bridge anthroposophy with what preceeded as knowledge streams of 'christian theosophy'. Remark the description of Rothe's work and how one could also say it describes qualities of anthroposophy as spiritual science. Such descriptions show there is a logical resonance why Steiner quotes Rothe.

  • Richard Rothe (1799-1867) - German theologian
    • from wikipedia:
      • studied under Hegel
      • As a youth Rothe had a bent towards a supernatural mysticism; his chosen authors were those of the romantic school, and Novalis remained throughout his life a special favourite.
      • Rothe was one of the most profound and influential of modern German theologians. Like Schleiermacher he combined with the keenest logical faculty an intensely religious spirit, while his philosophical tendencies were in sympathy rather with Hegel than with Schleiermacher, and theosophic mysticism was more congenial to him than the abstractions of Spinoza, to whom Schleiermacher owed so much. He classed himself among the theosophists, and claimed to be a convinced and happy supernaturalist in a scientific age. His system, though it may seem to contain doubtful or even fantastic elements, is in its general outlines a noble massive whole, constructed by a profound, comprehensive, fearless and logical mind. A peculiarity of his thought was the realistic nature of his spiritualism: his abstractions are all real existences; his spiritual entities are real and corporeal; his truth is actual being. Hence Rothe, unlike Schleiermacher, lays great stress, for instance, on the personality of God, on the reality of the worlds of good and evil spirits, and on the visible second coming of Christ. Hence his religious feeling and theological speculation demanded their realization in a kingdom of God coextensive with man's nature, terrestrial history and human society.
    • from wikipedia (DE, translated)
      • In Heidelberg, Rothe also got to know the representative of speculative theology Carl Daub, whose ideas had a strong influence on him, and the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose philosophy Rothe was very convinced of.

and further:

  • Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart (1739-1791) - was a German poet, organist, composer, and journalist.
  • Philipp Matthäus Hahn (1739-1790) - was a German pastor, astronomer and inventor. He devised a precision sundial, or heliochronometer and in 1774 designed one of the earliest mechanical calculators, so he is said to be the inventor of the cylindrical calculating machines. (see eg movie in DE)
  • Friedrich Christoph Steinhofer (1706-1761) - theologian
    • from wikipedia (DE, translated)
      • Friedrich Christoph Steinhofer was particularly influential through his writings, which interpreted Scripture in the manner of Bengel, but with a touch of Herrnhutian piety. This made him one of the fathers of Swabian pietism. His works were read well into the 20th century and reprinted several times. His writings also became well known in Sweden. Steinhofer's literary significance was due to his impact on the religious environment of the young Goethe and on Goethe himself. It was Steinhofer's writings in particular that had an influence on Goethe's mother Catharina Elisabeth Goethe and her friend Susanne Catharina Reichsfreiin von Klettenberg. An echo of the second edition of the Ebersdorfer Gesangbuch published by Steinhofer in 1745, which Goethe knew and mentioned several times, can be found in Goethe's famous opening line of Wandrers Nachtlied ("Der du von dem Himmel bist"). Steinhofer had included Zinzendorf's Lord's Prayer song from 1742, first published in 1743, in this edition: "Der Du in dem Himmel bist [...]".
  • Johann Jakob Moser (1701-1785) - was a German jurist, publicist and researcher.
  • regarding Hartmann?
    • internet research is not helped by the fact Hartmann is a very common name Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906) wrote about Schelling, and searching on famous names Goethe and Schelling expands search results instead of narrowing them
    • potential candidates looking at time period

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Otto Julius Hartmann: Geheimnisse der Menschenbegegnungen und soziale Schicksale (1949, 1992)
  • Fred Poeppig: Lebenskrisen - Schicksalsrätsel - Ehefragen - Menschenbegegnungen (1957)
  • Athys Floride: Human encounters and karma (1990)
  • Mathias Wais: Karma und Begegnung (1999)
  • Norbert Glas: Die „erste“ und die „letzte“ Liebe im Menschenleben und ihre geistige Bedeutung (2005)