Mystery School tradition

From Anthroposophy

This covers the tradition in the ancient Mysteries and Mystery Schools from the Atlantean epoch through the various cultural ages of the current epoch, with a distinction of Initiation before and after the Mystery of Golgotha, as also covered in the Mysteries of the Spirit, the Son and the Father and related to the Michaelic Stream.

The initiatory processes, rituals and traditions have always been tuned to the specific maturity of Man's bodily principles in each time period, and and very much related to the culture of the age and it's natural state of consciousness influencing the state of soul of 'how Man stood in the world'. For more context see also the Development of the I and the Current Postatlantean epoch.

The goal of the Mystery Schools has always been to establish, maintain and develop the link between humanity and it's spiritual guidance. This to assure Mankind is aware of the origin and future goal of evolution (see also Occult Atom). This therefore requires a deep connection with the spiritual reality, hence the focus on initiation as the various and evolving ways for Man to connect, reach into this spiritual reality and communicate with spiritual beings.


  • The Michaelic stream connecting the thread of Mystery School teachings across the ages
  • Sources of spiritual science providing a concise view on sources of the last 2500 years, from the Greek culture onwards
  • The purpose of ancient initiation was also to get the people over the fear of becoming mortal in their soul. Because of the prevailing group soul, the initiation of single person sufficied to have an effect on their surrouding (1921-06-28-GA205)

Atlantean epoch

  • Atlantean oracles
  • Turanian mysteries

Current Postatlantean epoch

  • Persian Mysteries: Mythras cult and bull mysteries
  • Egyptian Mysteries: Isis and Osiris cult, Hermes initiation
  • ancient Northern European Mysteries: Hibernian, Druidic, Trottic mysteries
    • (1904-09-30-GA093, 1909-05-06-GA057, 1910-03-26-GA119 ,1923-09-10-GA228)
  • Greek Mysteries:
    • Ephesian, Eleusian, Chthonic, Samothracian mysteries
  • current Anglo-German cultural age:
    • situation before the MoG
    • school of St. Paul and Dionysius the Areopagite in the 1st century in Greece, tradition upto the 6th century
    • the school of Mysteries of the Holy Grail
    • School of Chartres in France around the 12th century (1924-07-13-GA237)
    • Rosecrucian schooling
    • contemporary spiritual science after 1879


Lecture coverage and references

Coverage overview

The cycle 1923-12-GA233 is called 'World History in the light of Anthroposophy'

  • Ephesian Mysteries of Artemis (1923-11-30-GA233, 1923-12-02-GA323)
  • Hibernian Mysteries (1923-12-07-GA323, 1923-12-08-GA323, 1923-12-09-GA323)
  • Mysteries of the Samothracian Kabiri (1923-12-21-GA323)
  • Chntonic and Eleusinian Mysteries (1923-12-14-GA323)

Furthermore the Karmic Relationship lectures 1924-GA23x discuss the School of Chartres.

Source extracts

1904-09-30-GA093 covers the Druidic or Drottic mysteries

1908-05-19-GA103 is about the Esoteric School of Paul and Dionysius the Areopagite

If we have now understood this properly, we come to a deeper comprehension of the present human being and we are in a position to repeat and to understand better what has been taught in Esoteric Christianity from the beginning. This Esoteric Christianity has always been fostered alongside the outer Christian exoteric teaching.

I have often pointed out that Paul, the great apostle of Christianity, used his powerful, fiery gift of eloquence to teach Christianity to the people, but that at the same time he founded an esoteric school, the director of which was Dionysius, the Areopagite, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. In this Christian Esoteric School at Athens which was directly founded by Paul himself, the purest Spiritual Science was taught.

And now, having brought together the necessary material in the above observations, we shall be able to place before our souls what was taught there.

This school also taught that …

1909-05-06-GA057 is on the Trottic mysteries

1910-03-26-GA119 is on experiences of initiation in the northern mysteries

1923-09-10-GA228 is on the sun initiation of the Druid priest and his moon science

1923-12-21-GA323 talks about the evocation of the kabiri in the Samothracian Mysteries. The same is also stated in 1922-12-04-GA218: a picture of the godhead appeared in the sacrificial smoke. See also evocation in

Then the pupil understood why on the altar there were placed before him three symbolic vessels or jars.

We once made use of a copy of these vessels here in an Eurhythmy presentation of Faust, and as you saw these three vessels, so they were seen in the Samothracian Mysteries, the Northern Greek Mysteries; but the essential thing was that through these vessels, these pitchers, in their whole symbolic form, a sacrificial ritual, a ritual of consecration took place.

A kind of incense was put into these three vessels, which was then kindled, and when the smoke poured out, three words of which we shall speak further tomorrow were uttered with mantric power by the celebrant. These words were uttered [sung] into the smoke which rose up above the vessels, and then there appeared the forms of the three Kabiri They appeared because the human breath breathed out through the mantric words, fashioned itself, and then imparted its form to the rising smoke, the incense arising from the substance which was incorporated into these symbolic vessels. While the pupil learnt to read in this way what was written in the smoke by his, own breathing, he learnt to read, at the same time, what the mysterious planets spoke to him from out of the great universe.

Now he knew that

  • the form assumed by the first of the Kabiri through the mantric word and its power represented the reality behind Mercury; in
  • the form assumed by the second Kabiri he learnt the reality of Mars; and
  • in that of the third Kabiri he learnt the reality of Apollo, the Sun.

Note: in a verse exchanged by Rudolf Steiner to Ita Wegman about their earlier incarnations together, it is mentioned


Then came the mysteries which are reflected in the modem mass. The Catholic mass, the Armenian mass and other masses arose from the half new mysteries in a very complicated way, and even though they have become externalized, they still contain the complete initiation principle. What man can perceive when magical words awaken within him began to be present in these half new mysteries, instead of the god's presence in the ancient mysteries and the presence of forces which the gods sent in the semi-ancient mysteries. These words enable one to acquire very profound knowledge of the inner nature of sound, and intense feelings resound in them.

During the time of the half new mysteries human language and cultic language were two different things, and remnants of the latter are still present in individual religious confessions. In this cultic language everything depends upon rhythm, a deep understanding of sounds and an understanding of the way that sounds from the priest's mouth penetrate human hearts. The intonation of magical cultic words in sacred places enabled people to ascend to the forces of the gods for the first time.

  • The first human period — ancient mysteries — the gods descend.
  • Second human period — semi-ancient mysteries — the gods send their forces down.
  • Third human period — half new mysteries — man learns a magical language and begins to ascend to the forces of the divine world through the intonation of magical words.

This is why words were intoned during the third period of acts of consecration of man. The Kabiri element lived in all religious cults which arose during this third period. For the Kabiri services and sacrifices which were celebrated in Samothrace were brought into all of the half way new ceremonies in the act of consecration of man and into all the ceremonies which belong to This.

Let's place the Kabiri altar at Samothrace before our souls. The Kabirs who stood upon it as external relics were sacrificial urns that contained no ferments, but substances which men find if they can penetrate the inner spiritual aspect of matter. The sacrificial urns contained such substances. The sacrificial substances in the urns were ignited, and smoke ascended. The magical language created an Imagination of the intoned words in the rising smoke. Thus the way up to divine forces was outwardly visible in the sacrificial smoke. The priests who were surrounded by this smoke knew that they were in the right atmosphere for carrying out a transubstantiation.

As Aristotle explained to Alexander, the substances were mixed in such a way that a sacred Imagination emerged from the sacrificial smoke, and this showed one the way to the, gods. If people found this way, the priest's transubstantiation was a right one and the act of consecration of man was executed correctly. Those who celebrated and participated in it knew that it was an organ of cognition. For when the ceremonially shaped, magical words and prayers flamed up in the sacrificial smoke and streamed up to the gods, an apocalyptic revelation came down from above as a gift of grace. This was the third stage in the development of apocalyptic things and of an act of consecration of man.

1924-07-13-GA237 is on the School of Chartres

  • .. from the 6th, 7th or 8th century onwards — there was no direct connection with the spiritual world, nevertheless a certain awareness of this connection still found a haven of refuge, if I may put it so, in isolated centres of learning. In isolated centres of learning men still spoke, in knowledge, in the way they had spoken in the first Christian centuries. Nay more, it was possible for single, chosen human beings to receive deep inner impulses from the way in which the spiritual world was spoken of, — impulses enabling them, at certain times at least, to break through into the spiritual world. There were indeed isolated centres where teachings were given in a manner of which the people of today can have no conception.
  • This only came to an end in the 12th, 13th century .. Human beings on the earth had lost, to some extent, the connection with the spiritual world. And in those who lived above — who, while on earth, had still experienced such a connection, — the earthly conditions which they now beheld called forth a strangely painful feeling. They saw the slow death of what they themselves had still experienced on earth. Then from the super-sensible world they enthused-inspired-inspirited — certain individualities in the world of sense, so that here or there at any rate there might arise a home and centre for the real connection of man with the spiritual world.
  • Even until the 7th or 8th century — in a kind of echo of pre-Christian Initiation — Christianity was taught in centres that had remained as the high places of knowledge, relics of the ancient Mysteries. In those centres human beings were prepared, not so much by way of instruction, but by an education towards the Spirit — a training both bodily and spiritual.
    • 1- They were prepared for the moment when they might have at least a delicate vision of the spirituality that can manifest itself in the environment of man on earth. Then they looked outward to the realms of mineral and plant-nature and to all that lives in the animal and human kingdoms. And they saw, springing forth like an aura and fertilised in turn out of the cosmos, the spiritual-elemental beings that lived in all Nature. Then above all there appeared to them as a living Being, whom they addressed as they would address a human being — only it was a being of a higher kind, — the Goddess Natura. She was the Goddess whom they saw before them in her full radiance, in full reality of soul. They did not speak of abstract laws of Nature, they spoke of the creative power of the Goddess Natura, working creatively in all external Nature. She was the metamorphosis of Proserpine of antiquity. She was the ever-creating Goddess with whom he who would seek for knowledge must in a certain way unite himself. She appeared to him — appeared to him from every mineral, from every plant, from every creeping beast, from the clouds, the mountains, the river-springs. Of this Goddess who alternately in winter and in summer creates above the earth and beneath, — of this Goddess they felt: She is the hand-maid of that Divinity of whom the Gospels tell. She it is who fulfils the divine behests.
    • 2 - And when the seeker after knowledge had been sufficiently instructed by the Goddess about the mineral and plant and animal natures, when he was introduced into the living forces, then he learned to know from her the nature of the four Elements: — Earth, Water, Air and Fire. He learned to know the waving and weaving within the mineral and animal and plant kingdoms of the four Elements which pour themselves in all reality throughout the world: — Earth, Water, Fire, Air. He felt himself with his etheric body interwoven with the life of the Earth in its gravity, Water in its life-giving power, Air in its power to awaken sentient consciousness, Fire in its power to kindle the flame of the I. In all this he felt his human being interwoven, and he felt: This was the gift of instruction from the Goddess Natura — the successor, the metamorphosis of Proserpine. The teachers saw to it that their disciples should gain a feeling, an idea of this living intercourse with Nature — Nature filled with divine forces, filled with divine substance. They saw to it that their pupils should penetrate to the living and weaving of the Elements.
    • 3 - Then when they had reached this point, they were introduced to the planetary system. They learnt how with the knowledge of the planetary system there arises at the same time the knowledge of the human soul. “Learn to know how the wandering stars hold sway in the heavens, and thou shalt know how thine own soul works and weaves and lives within thee.” This was placed before the pupils.
    • 4 - And at length they were led to approach what was called “The Great Ocean,” — but it was the Cosmic Ocean, which leads from the planets, from the wandering stars, to the fixed stars. Thus at length they penetrated into the secrets of the I, by learning the secrets of the universe of the fixed stars.

Mankind today has forgotten that such instructions were ever given; but they were:

  • A living knowledge of this kind was cultivated until the 7th or 8th century in the last relics of the ancient Mysteries.
  • And as a doctrine, as a theory, it was still cultivated even until that turn of the 14th and 15th centuries of which we have so often spoken. In certain centres we still see these old teachings cultivated, though with the   greatest imaginable difficulties. They were well-nigh shadowed-down to concepts and ideas; yet the concepts and ideas were still living enough to kindle, in one man and another, the upward vision of all the realities of   which I spoke just now.

●In the 11th and especially the 12th century, reaching on to the 13th, a truly wonderful School existed. In this School there were teachers who still knew how the pupils in preceding centuries had been led to a conscious experience of the Spirit. It was the great School of Chartres. Here there flowed together all the conceptions that had issued from the living spiritual life which I have described.



Various snippets

from wikipedia

See Samothrace temple complex for map and pictures of the important religious temple on the Greek isle of Samothrace

Chthonic, in Greek; "in, under, or beneath the earth", literally means "subterranean", but the word in English describes deities or spirits of the underworld in the ancient Greek religion; and refers to the manner and method of offering sacrifices to a specific deity or deities such as for example Persephone and Hades in classical mythology.

In Greek mythology, the Cabeiri or Cabiri also transliterated Kabeiri or Kabiri, were a group of enigmatic chthonic deities. They were worshiped in a mystery cult closely associated with that of Hephaestus, centered in the north Aegean islands of Lemnos and possibly Samothrace—at the Samothrace temple complex—and at Thebes.

See Eleusinian Mysteries for background, and info on location and site at Eleusis


Kabiri or Cabeiri are described in Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine as a generic term for the gods or pitris that were the rulers and instructors of the primeval races, the benefactors of men that gave the very early impulses to civilizations.

More on kabiri

In 1919-01-25-GA188, after a scene from Faust, the Cabeiri are explained as Man's bodily principles. The first three being the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. The fourth 'I' was not developed at the time of the Samothracian mysteries. The three Cabeiri still to come are the spirit-self, life-spirit and spirit-man.

in 1915-10-10-GA254 names of four Cabeiri are given as Axieros, Axiokersos, Axiokersa, and Kadmillos.

1921-06-28-GA205 explains that there are four Cabeiri and three of them kill the fourth, meaning that Man's lower three bodily principles are transient and mortal in the sense they are dispersed after physical death in the journey between death and a new birth. If the I does not take part in the spiritual, it is killed and drawn into mortality by the three others.

As an example, see also the 'state of avichi' on Eight sphere for an explanation of an illustrative case where this happens. In general, see also Human 'I' and Man's higher triad for schemas that show how the true spiritual Individuality starts with the spirit-self (also called 'causal body' or book of lives).

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Guenther Wachsmuth: 'Mysterien - und Geisteschichte der Menschheit' (1938)
    • with over 130 illustrations
    • Ch. 1: Ireland, Malta
    • Ch. 2: Mexico, Toltecs
    • Ch. 3&4: Egypt
    • Ch. 7: Druids, Mithras cult, northern and southern mysteries
  • Bernard Lievegoed: Mystery streams in Europe and the new mysteries (1982)
  • Rene Querido: 'The Golden Age of Chartres: The Teachings of a Mystery School ' (1987)
  • Ita Wegman: The Mysteries (1995, compiled and translated by Crispian Villeneuve)
  • Frank Teichmann:
    • 'The Origins of the Anthroposophical Society in the Light of the Ancient Mysteries' (2020 in EN, in DE as 'Die Entstehung der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft auf mysteriengeschichtlichem Hintergrund')
    • 'The Sacred Mysteries of Egypt. The Flowering of an Ancient Civilisation' (2016 in EN, in DE in 1999 as 'Die ägyptischen Mysterien. Quellen einer Hochkultur')
    • Die griechischen Mysterien: Quellen für ein Verständnis des Christentums
    • Der Mensch und sein Tempel
      • Ägypten
      • Megalithkultur in Irland, England und der Bretagne (1983)
      • Griechenland (1980)
      • Chartres