Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son and the Father

From Anthroposophy

The topic title is also the title of a lecture by Rudolf Steiner, about the distinction between:

  • The Mysteries of the Spirit refer to the Mystery centers in the Atlantean epoch, upto last pre-Christian centuries. Candidates for initiation were put through trials and the teachers were spirits higher than Man, who had completed their development on earlier planets. The proces typically included the process of detaching the etheric body for three days.
  • The Mysteries of the Son refer to what changed for initiation after the Mystery of Golgotha. Reference is made to the school of Saint Paul and Dionysus the Areopagite in the first century (see also School of Athens, eg 1907-03-25-GA096), a tradition carried further by John Scotus Eriugena (815-877).
  • The future Mysteries of the Father will be characterized by the fact that the teachers will be fully human, individuals that developed faster than the rest of humanity and will be called the Fathers.The guidance of humanity will be in the hands of human beings themselves.

The schemas FMC00.100 and FMC00.183 below show the link with the two main changes: the first is the Mystery of Golgotha, the second is the development of the human threefold soul and consciousness soul. See also schemas FMC00.047 and FMC00.013 on the Current Postatlantean epoch.

See also: Mystery School tradition


Schema FMC00.100 comes from Christ Module 5 - Initiation and spiritualization. The new initiation in the age of the consciousness soul relates to the Parsifal story and the stream arising from Christian Rosenkreutz.


Schema FMC00.183 on the left has the blackboard illustration to "not I but the Christ in me". Reference 1922-03-25-GA211 gives a concise summary of the evolutionary stages of the 'natural' Christ experience in nature (which we find back in the Arthur stream and pagan Christianity), to 'the Christ in me' after MoG (which we find back in the Parsifal stream: Man needs to look inside of him instead out in nature to find the Christ). On the right is the link with Old and New Mysteries, see 1918-12-27-GA187 quote on Christ Module 6 - principle in image and story

Lecture coverage and references

1907-04-01-GA096 (one of our top 3 lectures used for the initialization of the Christ topic) explains the change from the 'Mysteries of the Spirit' to the 'Mysteries of the Son' (SWCC)

If we consider evolution on earth, we find that in early times, before the Christ principle entered into human souls, the Mysteries of the Spirit were profound centres of teaching and ritual.The more the Christ came into the world, the more did the Mysteries of the Son unfold; and in future the Mysteries of the Father will be important. We are told of them in the Book of Revelation.

The Mysteries of the Spirit were initially established in the Atlantean epoch. Nursery of the great adepts was founded there, inaugurating the Mysteries of the Spirit that have continued into our age. The mystery centres would accept people had given evidence of having achieved maturity and who had been adequately instructed and purified. There they would receive the teachings, the theosophy that is the basis of all religions, teachings we receive today through spiritual science. They would have purified their instinctive drives, trained to bring order into their thinking, and then have learned not only to love people who were blood-related but to embrace the whole of humanity in love. They had become 'homeless people'. This process which occurs at the highest levels of human development is one that points to the future.

Initiation at the ancient mystery temples continued on into the last pre-Christian centuries, eg evidenced by the Egyptian pyramids. There the disciple who had come so far that he who was able to love the whole of humanity would be put to sleep for three days. His physical body would be as if dead, in total lethargy. The initiator would be able to draw his spirit forth from him the way your spirit is drawn from your body every night when you're asleep. Just as it is true that this spirit is unconscious in ordinary sleep, so it is true that it would be conscious in disciples who had been fully prepared. The interference that comes from the physical body would no longer be there. But in those three days the disciples would be able to remember everything they had learned before; they were able to take this into their body.

Because the candidate had been learning, taking in the necessary concepts and feelings, the initiator was now able to let him experience as a spiritual reality everything he had previously worked for and taken in by way of inner feelings. The soul would wander through the astral and spirit world during the three days that it was out of the body.

lt would encounter the reality of what it had previously learned, and the individual thus came to know, to be initiated. The theosophical teachings ceased to be mere theory; now they were something in which he himself had been, as though in a living element. When he woke again in his body and looked at his physical surroundings, a sound would come to his lips that must wrest itself from the soul of its own accord when alter wandering through the world of the spirit for three and a half days the soul found itself back in the physical world again. The soul was then aware that the I had become a citizen of higher worlds, that it had been in those worlds and could now speak to people about its experience in those worlds. Speaking of the world of the spirit from experience, he had become a herald of the spirit in the physical world, a missionary of the spirit. And this comes to expression in the words: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani' which means: 'Oh God, my God, you have indeed glorified me!' These were the words one would have been able to hear from every individual who had been initiated in this way.

Lecture 1907-03-07-GA097 gives further coverage on The Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son and the Father

The teachers of the Atlantean adept school were not human beings but spirits higher than man. They had completed their development on earlier planets. These teachers, coming from ancient planetary evolutions, taught the Mysteries of the Spirit to a small select group.

In the Mysteries of the Son, Christ Jesus himself would appear as the teacher on special occasions. He, too, was a teacher who was not human but a god. ..

.. Between the Mysteries of the Spirit and those of the Father we thus have the Mysteries of the Son, with the school of St Paul its planting site, the school put in the care of Dionysius the Areopagite. The school had its flowering under him, for Dionysius taught those mysteries in a very special way, whilst Paul spread the teaching exoterically. ..

.. It will not be until we have the Mysteries of the Father that the teachers will be humans. Individuals who have developed faster than the rest of humanity will be the true Masters of Wisdom and Harmony. They will be called the fathers. In the Mysteries of the Father, therefore, the guidance of humanity will be no longer in the hands of spirits who have come down from other worlds, but in the hands of human beings themselves. This is the important point.

In the same lecture Steiner also positions the mission of spiritual science in this context:

We are now moving towards a future that will hold the Mysteries of the Father and have to make every effort to see that every individual is wise.

Will this help against egotism and being shattered?

Yes! For human beings can only be united if they gain the greatest wisdom, a wisdom in which there are no personal vagaries, opinions or standpoints but one common view. If people were to continue in the way of being different, having points of view, and so on, they would again and again go their separate ways. The most sublime wisdom, however, always creates the same view for all people. True wisdom is one wisdom that brings all people together again in the greatest possible freedom, with no coercion or authority. As the members of the great white brotherhood are always in harmony among themselves and with humanity, so will all human beings be united in this wisdom at a future time. This wisdom alone will create the true idea of brotherhood. The mission of the science of the spirit therefore need be no more than to guide humanity towards this idea, now in the unfolding of the spirit self, later of the life spirit. The great goal of the spiritual science movement is to make it possible for human beings to be free and truly wise. Its mission is to let this truth and wisdom flow into human beings.

In the modern movement for a science of the spirit, one began with the most elementary teaching. Much that is important has been unveiled in the years since the movement started, and even more important things will be gradually unveiled. The work of the movement is therefore to let the wisdom of the great White Brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis flow out gradually. Such work has always been preceded by a long period of preparation. ..

.. To prepare people to be a core group for this goal, to prepare them for a common wisdom, for authority based on trust, and to develop understanding, initially for a small core group of people—that is the mission of the science of the spirit.

1909-12-05-GA266/1 discusses the difference ebtween pre-Christian and Christian mystery schools.

  • Earlier: experiences of pictures and sound matras
  • Today: experience of meaningful words (example: 'in pure rays .. ') - see Meditation texts

1922-11-18-GA218 sketches the old Mysteries of the Spirit and how they were affected by the MoG. The following lines illustrate the importance of the teacher. This can be put in perspective with the current situation as explained through the story of Parsifal, that Man no longer depends on a teacher but on his own inner development.

.. you can imagine the depth and intensity of veneration in such a pupil when he knew that a Divine Being, a God — not a human being — was speaking to him through the lips of his Teacher ..

.. discipleship itself consisted in this: the pupil gave himself up to his Guru in utter veneration and devotion; the Guru was the link connecting him with the spiritual worlds; this Teacher was regarded as the one and only channel for the Divine. The pupil felt that whatever qualities he himself possessed, whatever powers he unfolded were due to his Teacher; he felt that he owed everything to his Teacher ..

.. The Teacher or Guru was regarded as the channel by which the Divine streamed down to the Earth and as the one who, in turn, guided into the spiritual world the feelings of devotion and reverence in the human heart.


New Mysteries of the Son vs the Old Mysteries of the Spirit: the change since the Mystery of Golgotha

The 1922-11-18-GA218 quote illustrates the important element of 'surrender' of the human being towards his 'super-human' teacher. The important change is that, with the age of the consciousness soul, Man is autonomeous and free and is expected to be 'self-driven' in his development. That is: to 'ask questions' (see Parsifal story) and come to an inner path of development (see rosecrucian development) for which spiritual science is the contemporary starting point because it speaks the 'language of the time' being intellectual thinking (see the reverse ritual). This can be mapped to stages of:

  • the new teachings and the start of modern thinking and, the new teachings start with John and Paul; here is referred to school of Paul and Dionysus upto 6th century, and Scotus Eriugena in the 8th century. See also the christian initiation, the use of the Gospel of John.
  • the start of the age of the consciousness soul in the 15th century, here is referred to the initiative and preparations of the White Lodge and Christian Rosenkreutz and the rosecrucian path of initiation
  • the start of the Michael age and the new infusion of spiritual science, see Rudolf Steiner and specifically the essence of the reverse ritual

The above timeline can also be followed:

  • through the story of the Grail and Arthur, Christ in nature's elements 'outside' (how two streams of old pagan christianity and the new christ impulse meet around 869, see 1924-08-27-GA240)
  • moving over into that of Parsifal, Christ in our inner nature 'inside' .. the struggle with the new intelligence now human and no longer cosmic
  • the story of the supersensory Michael School from the middle ages to the 19th century, and the new initation knowledge offered. We point to the consistency of the proposed exercises of meditation and especially concentration in Steiner, Bardon, Daskalos, Sivananda Saraswati.

Last, the above also puts the frame for the pivotal change between the 8th and 15th century and the work of the hierarchies:

  • the descent of cosmic intelligence into man around the 9th century (1924-07-28, 1924-08-01, 1924-08-08)
  • the work of the SoF around the year 1250
  • the cosmic storms of the First Hierarchy working on the constitution of Man in the first third of the 15h century (1924-07-28)

Related pages

References and further reading