Persian cultural age

From Anthroposophy

The second cultural age period of civilization in the Current Postatlantean epoch describes the period of around -5733 to - 2970 BC, where the center of spiritual and cultural development was located in ancient Persia. The main center worldwide where the furthering on Man's development would take place shifted from East, from ancient India in the first cultural age, to West (see Schema FMC00.432).

Aspects

  • main events
    • the period around -3100 BC was marked by a number of key events:
      • incarnation of Lucifer
      • the Krishna impulse around -3100 (worked upto the period of -800 which was an important age of oa Elijah)
      • the start of the dark age, Kali yuga (see Yuga ages)
  • human consciousness and soul characteristics
    • age of the sentient soul
      • Man gets more into the earthly (1923-07-25-GA350), from the spiritual in the first Indian cultural age. Man is worker who knows that he is to use them for shaping the Earth, the Persian learnt to know nature purely as a field of labour. (1909-04-12-A-GA110)
      • Man was working on the cultivation of the astral body (1915-06-15-GA159)
    • Man stil had atavistic (natural) clairvoyance, could see more deeply into things (behind the nature of a surface something more etheric, a human being more in a form of light) (1922-10-14-GA217)
  • spiritual beings and their influences
    • In the ancient Persian epoch, the leadership of humanity was apportioned to the Archangels (1911-06-07-GA015)
    • the archangels worked into Man's inner nature, with the influence of the human element already asserted itself to a somewhat greater degree versus the ancient Indian period where the inspiration came from the angels (1910-12-31-GA126)
    • humanity in the Persian cultural age was under strong Luciferic influence (1910-GA013)
  • culture and society
    • in the period between 4000 BC and 2500 BC a key milestone happens when Man starts to write things down from his experiences: the start of the cuneiform script, pictorial languages, and the calendar. This timing correspondence can be compared and confirmed for various cultures (Sumerian, Chinese, Jewish). These earliest form of cuneiform script were only deciphered in the 19th century
    • society was built on the principle of authority (1922-10-14-GA217)
    • Persians had no fear of death (1923-07-25-GA350)
    • the great war between Iran and Turan (which "lasted not decades but centuries"!) as an expression of duality, the antithesis between the North and the South (1910-09-01-GA123).
    • Turan as a people and culture in the second ancient Persian culture, and as part of the Turanian stream.
      • for context see the Notes to Schema FMC00.205 on that page
  • initiation in this age
    • old Persian initiation
      • the Mithras cult
      • adopted specific names to distinguish the seven degrees of initiates: Raven (1), Initiate (2), Warrior (3), Lion (4), 'Name of people', so 'The Persian' (5), Sun-runner (6), Father (7) (1905-03-17-GA097, 1906-03-05-GA094, 1909-07-03-GA112)
      • in the period of -6000 BC to -4000 BC, people practiced their breathing in order to gain knowledge (1923-07-28-GA350)
    • the teachings of Zarathustra
      • the primal divinity 'Zervana Akarana' reveals himself through two opposing powers, Ormuzd and Ahriman (1910-12-31-GA126)
      • Zarathustra stated: “In the sun there lives the great Spirit Ahura Mazdao, who will one day come down to the Earth.” (1911-06-07-GA015) and his teachings were based on the polarity between the Spirit of Light, Sun Aura, Ahura Mazdao, Ormuzd [Christ] and Ahriman or Angra Mainju (1910-GA013)
      • The ancient Persians were clearly aware that the influences of the macrocosm are connected with Man as the microcosm.
        • the Zodiac as an external expression or image, of 'Zervana Akarana', the primal reality of Being living and weaving through eternity. Macrocosmic forces coming from twelve directions of the universe work into Man: six directed towards the light side of the Zodiac traversed by the sun by day; the other six towards the dark side turned towards Ahriman.
        • In Man the microcosmic counterparts are to be found in the twelve main cerebral nerves or Amshaspands through which the archangels worked into the human head. In the Indian cultural age, the angels or 'Izads' formed the 28, 30 to 31 spinal nerves. (1910-12-31-GA126 below, and see also Nerve-sense subsystem)
  • other
    • the impulse of the Academy of Gondishapur (approx 600-900 AD) in Persia resuscitated the neo-Persian influence and Zarathustra-impulse, but although the original intentions of the Soratic impulse were shunted, still its effects remain as an influence in humanity today (1918-10-16-GA182)

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

1905-03-17-GA097

These were the grades of initiation with the Persians:

  1. The Raven
  2. The Occultist
  3. The Warrior
  4. The Lion
  5. The Persian
  6. The Sun-runner
  7. The Father
1906-03-05-GA094

I would like to describe the seven stages of initiation as they were practised in the Persian Mithras cult.

It was a form of initiation that was cultivated in the whole of Asia Minor, in Greece and Rome, and even as far as the Danube basin it was practised far into the Christian era. For a long time it was possible to go through these stages even in the hidden cultic centres and temples in Egypt which were often built into the solid rock. They were only accessible to those who came to know them as morally advanced pupils and initiates after strict tests.

  • The first grade was the “Raven”. As a raven the neophyte carried the knowledge acquired in the outer sense world into spiritual life. The idea of the raven has lingered in myths and sagas. There are the Ravens of Wotan, the ravens of Elijah, and in the German Barbarossa saga ravens are the intermediaries between the emperor under a spell in the mountain and the outer world. In the Mithraic mysteries “Raven” signified a grade of initiation.
  • The second grade was that of the “Occult One”. This was the name for someone who had already received some important occult secrets.
  • The third grade was that of the “Fighter”. These were initiates who felt their higher self to the extent that they understood sayings such as one finds in the second part of “Light on the Path”. [“Stand aside in the coming battle, and though thou fightest, be not thou the warrior.” Light on the Path, Mabel Collins] Only an initiate of the third grade can understand such sayings. This does not mean that the ordinary person cannot reach a certain comprehension. Everyone has a higher self, and if one is able to abnegate one's lower self and make it a servant of the higher self then one can say in a certain sense: “Though thou fightest thou art not the fighter”. But it is not until one has reached a particular stage of initiation that one really knows what this sentence signifies. What one formerly considered as higher interests become mere subsidiary interests, mere servants of the fighter.
  • The fourth grade was achieved when complete inner harmony and calm, equilibrium and strength are gained. This grade was called that of the “Lion”. Such an initiate had so developed the occult life in himself that he could represent the occult not only with words but with deeds.

Meanwhile the consciousness of a person who has passed through these four stages of initiation extended further and further. He identified himself with ever larger groupings of people. All these names have a hidden meaning. For instance, the expression, “The Occult One”. What is a human being as we see him in front of us? He is what is in him. As a Raven an initiate of the first grade — he tries to overcome what is only in him. Then his interests become wider. What people around him are, what they feel and what they will, becomes his own feeling and his own will. The terms were coined in times when there were still communities which were kindred enlarged families. How did one regard such a family? One said they were members of a soul-family tracing right back to a common ancestral pair — members of a hidden I.

An initiate of the second grade, an “Occult One”, had so ennobled his I that it became the I of his community; he made their interests his own. The occult entity of a human community was able to live in him. When the I of such a human community became the I of an individual initiate then this community became his dwelling place. The “Fighter” fought for the larger community. In ancient Palestine one designated as a “Lion”, he who had raised himself up to encompass the consciousness, the I, of a whole tribe. The “lion” of the tribe of Judah is the term applied to someone who had reached such a stage of initiation that he bore within himself the I of the whole tribe.

The initiate of the fifth grade had so overcome his personality that he could take up the folk-soul. The folk-spirit lived in him. In Persia such an initiate was called a “Persian”. In Greece one would have called him a “Grecian”, if it had been the custom. What does this grade signify? For him everything individual has vanished and his consciousness has become one with the whole. This constitutes a higher state of consciousness.

1909-04-12-A-GA110

Farther to the north we have the Medes and Persians, the original Persian civilisation.

Whereas the Indian culture turns sharply away from reality, the Persian is aware that he must reckon with it. For the first time Man appears as a worker, who knows that he is not merely to strive for knowledge with his spiritual forces, but that he is to use them for shaping the Earth. At first the Earth met him as a sort of hostile element which he must overcome, and this opposition was expressed in Ormuzd and Ahriman, the good and the bad divinity, and the conflict between them. Men wished more and more to let the spiritual world flow into the terrestrial world, but as yet they could recognise no law, no laws of nature within the outer world.

The old Indian culture had in truth a knowledge of higher worlds, but not on the grounds of a natural science, since everything on the Earth was accounted Maya; the Persian learnt to know nature purely as a field of labour.

1909-07-03-GA112

The old Persian initiation adopted certain names to distinguish the various degrees rising to spiritual heights, and one of these names must be of special interest to us.

The first degree in the Persian initiation was termed the Raven; the second, the Initiate; the third, the Warrior; the fourth, the Lion; the fifth degree always bore the name of the people in question: a Persian, for example, who had risen to the fifth degree of initiation was termed a Persian.

First the initiate became a Raven, which meant that he could carry on a study of the outer world; and being a servant of those who dwell in the spiritual world he brought to that world tidings of the physical world. Hence the symbol of the Raven as emissary between the physical and the spiritual world — from the Ravens of Elijah to those of Barbarossa. — On reaching the second degree the initiate came within the spiritual world; and one initiated in the third degree, having advanced past the second, is entrusted with the mission of interceding for occult truths: he becomes a Warrior. An initiate of the second degree was not permitted to contend for the truths of the spiritual world. — In the fourth degree the spiritual truths became established, to a certain extent, in the initiate.

And the fifth degree is the one of which I said that here the initiate learned to control all that flowed in the blood through the generations, learned to deal with it by means of the forces descending with the blood through the female element of propagation. What name, then, would be applied to a man who had experienced his initiation within the Israelitic People? Israelite, just as in an analogous case in Persia he would have been called a Persian.

1910-GA013

In the regions of the Middle East a community of people had settled as a result of the long continued migrations that had spread from the west eastward since the beginning of the destruction of Atlantis. History knows the descendants of these people as the Persians and their related tribal branches. Supersensible knowledge, however, must go back much further than the historical periods of these people. At the outset we have to consider the earliest ancestors of the later Persians, from whom — after the Indian — the second great cultural period of the post-Atlantean evolution arose.

The peoples of this second period had a different task from the Indian. In their longings and inclinations they did not turn merely toward the supersensible; they were eminently fitted for the physical-sensory world. They grew fond of the earth. They valued what the human being could conquer on the Earth and what he could win through its forces. What they accomplished as warriors and also what they invented as a means of gaining the earth's treasures is related to this peculiarity of their nature.

Their danger did not lie in the fact that because of their love of the supersensible they might turn completely away from the “illusion” of the physical-sensory world, but because of their strong inclination toward the latter they were more likely to lose their soul connection with the supersensible world.

[oracles - initiation]

Also the oracle establishments that had been transplanted into this region from their homeland, ancient Atlantis, carried in their methods the general character of the Persians.

  • By means of forces, which Man had been able to acquire through his experiences in the supersensible regions and which he was still able to control in certain lower forms, the phenomena of nature were employed to serve personal human interests. This ancient people still possessed, at that time, a great power with which it controlled certain nature forces that later were withdrawn from all connection with the human will.
  • The guardians of the oracles controlled inner powers that were connected with fire and other elements. They may be called Magi. What they had preserved for themselves from ancient times as heritage of supersensible knowledge and power was, to be sure, insignificant in comparison with what the human being had once been able to do in the far distant past. It took on, nevertheless, all sorts of forms, from the noble arts whose purpose was only the welfare of mankind, to the most abominable practices.

In these people the Luciferic nature ruled in a special manner. It had brought them into connection with everything that led the human being away from the intentions of higher beings who, without the Luciferic influence, would have simply advanced human evolution. Those sections of this people who were still endowed with the remnants of ancient clairvoyance — that is to say, with the remnants of the above described intermediate state between waking and sleeping — felt themselves also much attracted to the lower beings of the spiritual world. To this people a special spiritual impetus had to be given that counteracted these characteristics. A leadership was given to this people from the same source from which the ancient Indian spiritual life had also sprung, that is, from the guardian of the mysteries of the sun oracle.

[Zarathustra]

The leader of the ancient Persian spiritual culture who was chosen by the guardian of the sun oracle for the people now under consideration may be called by the same name that history knows as Zarathustra or Zoroaster.

But it must be emphasized that the personality designated here belongs to a much earlier age than the historical bearer of this name. It is not a question here of outer historical research but of spiritual science, and whoever must think of a later age in connection with the bearer of the name Zarathustra, may reconcile this fact with spiritual science by realizing that the historical character represents a successor to the first great Zarathustra whose name he assumed and in the spirit of whose teaching he worked.

Zarathustra gave his people an impulse by pointing out that the physical world of the senses is not merely something devoid of spirit that confronts man when he comes under the exclusive influence of the Luciferic being. Man owes to this being his personal independence and his sense of freedom, but this Luciferic being should work within him in harmony with the opposing spiritual being. It was important for the prehistoric Persian to be aware of the presence of this spiritual being. Because of the Persian's inclination toward the physical sense world he was threatened by a complete amalgamation with the Luciferic beings.

Zarathustra, however, had been initiated by the guardian of the sun oracle and through this initiation the revelations of the exalted sun beings could be imparted to him. In exceptional states of consciousness, into which his training had brought him, he was able to perceive the leader of the sun beings who had taken under his protection the human ether body in the previously described manner. He knew that this Being directs human evolution, but also that He could descend to the earth from cosmic space only at a certain point in time. In order that this might come about it was necessary that He should affect the astral body of a human being to the same degree that He affected the human ether body since the beginning of the interference of the Luciferic being. For that purpose a human being had to appear on earth who had retransformed the astral body to a condition to which this body, without Lucifer, would have attained in the middle of the Atlantean evolution. Had Lucifer not appeared, the human being would have attained this same condition much earlier, but without personal independence and without the possibility of freedom. Now, however, despite these characteristics the human being was to regain this same high condition.

Zarathustra was able to foresee by means of his clairvoyance that in the future of mankind's evolution it would be possible for a definite human personality to possess such a required astral body. He knew also that it would be impossible to find the spiritual sun powers on earth prior to this future age, but that it was possible for supersensible perception to behold them in the region of the spiritual sun. He was able to behold these powers when he directed his clairvoyant glance toward the sun, and he divulged to his people the nature of these powers that, for the time being, were to be found only in the spiritual world and that later were to descend to the Earth. This was the proclamation of the sublime Sun or Light Spirit — the Sun Aura, Ahura Mazdao, Ormuzd. This Spirit of Light reveals Himself to Zarathustra and his followers as the Spirit who turns His countenance from the spiritual world toward mankind and who prepares the future within mankind. It is the Spirit who points to the Christ before His advent on Earth, whom Zarathustra proclaims as the Spirit of Light.

On the other hand, Zarathustra represents in Ahriman — Angra Mainju — a power whose influence upon the life of the human soul causes the latter's deterioration when it surrenders itself one-sidedly to it. This power is none other than the one previously characterized who, since the betrayal of the Vulcan mysteries, had gained especial domination over the Earth. Besides the evangel concerning the Spirit of Light, Zarathustra also proclaimed the doctrine of the spiritual beings who become manifest to the purified sense of the seer as the companions of the Spirit of Light and to whom a contrast was formed by the tempters who appeared to the unpurified remnants of clairvoyance that was retained from the Atlantean period.

Zarathustra strove to make clear to the prehistoric Persian how the human soul, as far as it was engaged in the activities and strivings of the physical-sensory world, was the field of battle between the power of the Light God and His adversary and how the human being must conduct himself so as not to be led into the abyss by this adversary but whose influence might be turned to good by the power of the Light God.

1910-09-01-GA123

Note: research positions ancient Turan in the area that today corresponds to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. See: Turanian stream.

In the period which it is important for us to consider now, all these peoples were nomadic, having no settled habitations; they wandered about as herdsmen, without preference for any particular locality, careless with what the Earth had to offer and only too ready to destroy anything around them when they needed it for their sustenance. These people were not called upon, nor indeed were they qualified, to do anything to raise the level of culture, to transform the Earth.

Thus there arose what is perhaps one of the greatest antitheses in the whole of post-Atlantean evolution: the antithesis between these more northerly peoples and the Iranians.

  • Among the Iranians the longing arose to take a hand in what was going on around them, to live settled lives, to acquire possessions through effort, in other words, to apply man's spiritual forces in order to achieve the transformation of Nature. That was the strongest urge in the Iranians.
  • And in the immediately adjacent lands to the North, lived the people who saw into the spiritual world, were on familiar terms, so to speak, with the spiritual beings, but were wanderers, having no inclination for work and without any interest in furthering culture in the physical world.

This drastic antithesis was purely the outcome of the different forms taken by soul-development. It is also known in external history as the great antithesis between Iran and Turan. But the causes of it are not understood. Actually they are as stated above.

  • Turan lay to the North, in the area towards Siberia. Its inhabitants, as already said, were people heavily endowed with an inherited, lower astral clairvoyance, and who in consequence of their experience in the spiritual world had neither inclination or sufficient understanding to establish any form of external culture. Because these people were of a passive disposition and their priests were often magicians and sorcerers of an inferior type, whenever spiritual matters were concerned they were wont to engage in very questionable magical practices, indeed not infrequently in actual black magic.
  • To the South lay Iran, where at a very early stage, as we have seen, an urge arose in the people to transform the world of sense with even the most primitive means then available and through the spiritual faculties of man to establish forms of external culture and civilization.

Now you will be able to form an idea of the great antithesis between Iran and Turan.

[legend of Djemjid]

A beautiful myth, the legend of Djemjid, tells how King Djemjid led his people from the North down towards Iran. He had received from the God who would presently come to be recognized and whom he called Ahura Mazdao, a golden dagger by means of which he was to fulfil his mission on Earth. From the apathetic masses of the Turanians, King Djemjid drew people whom he had specially trained, and in the golden dagger we have to see an impulse for the attainment of wisdom connected with the external faculties of men, wisdom capable of redeeming certain faculties that had already become decadent and of imbuing them with the spiritual force man can acquire on the physical plane. This golden dagger, like a plough, turned the earth into arable land, made possible the first, primitive inventions of mankind. It worked on and is working to this clay in all the achievements of culture and civilization in which men take pride. There is great significance in the fact that King Djemjid who went from Turan down to the Iranian country received this dagger from Ahura Mazdao. It represents a force given to man whereby he can work upon and transform external Nature.

[Zarathustra]

The same Being from whom this golden dagger was received was also the great Inspirer of Zarathustra or Zoroaster, Zerdutsch, the leader of the Iranian people. It was Zarathustra who in primeval times (soon after the Atlantean catastrophe) instilled the impulses he was able to bring from the holy Mysteries into the people who felt the urge to apply the power of the human spirit to external culture. Zarathustra was to give new hopes, new vistas of the spiritual world to this people who no longer possessed the ancient Atlantean vision. He opened out the path along which the people were ultimately to realise that the outer sunlight is only the external body of a sublime spiritual Being whom he called Ahura Mazdao, the ‘great’ Aura, in contrast to the 'little' aura of man. Zarathustra wanted to convey that this same Being — then still in remote cosmic distances — would one day descend to the Earth in order to unite His very substance with the Earth and to work on further in the history and evolution of humanity. Thus Zarathustra directed the minds of these people to the same Being who lived later on in history as the Christ.

The mighty achievement of Zarathustra consisted in this: to the new post-Atlantean humanity who had fallen away from the divine worlds, he revealed the path of re-ascent to the spiritual and gave to men the hope of being able to reach the goal, even with forces that had descended to the level of the physical plane. Whereas the ancient Indian attained to the spiritual in its old form through Yoga-training, a new path was to be opened out to men through the teaching of Zarathustra.

Zarathustra had a patron, a figure of great significance. But here I must emphasize that thc date of the Zarathustra of whom I am speaking was said, even by the Greeks, to have been five thousand years before the Trojan War; He is not, therefore, the figure whom external history calls by that name, nor the Zarathustra mentioned as living in the days of Darius.

The original Zarathustra had a patron who can be called Gushnasp — the name that became customary later on.

Zarathustra was a majestic, priestly character, one who pointed to the great Sun Spirit, Ahura Mazdao, the Being who guides humanity back from the physical to the spiritual, and Gushnasp was a kingly character, ready to perform any action in the external world that would spread the mighty inspirations of Zarathustra. Hence the inspirations and aims of Zarathustra and Gushnasp that were taking effect in ancient Iran inevitably came into contact with the conditions prevailing immediately to thc North. And the result of the impact was one of the greatest wars ever fought in the world, a war of which little is said in external history because it took place in such a remote past. It was a conflict of the greatest possible magnitude, between Iran and Turan. And out of this war — which lasted, not for decades but for centuries — there developed a certain mood and attitude of soul that persisted for a long time in Asia and the nature of which can be described somewhat as follows:

The Iranians, the followers of Zarathustra, spoke to this effect:

Wherever we look there is a world that descended from divine-spiritual heights but has now fallen very far from its earlier level. We must assume that the world of animals, plants and minerals around us once existed at a higher level and that it has all become decadent. But man has the hope of being able to lead it upwards again.

We will now further translate into words of our language what an Iranian felt, and try to convey how a teacher would have spoken to his pupils. He might have said:

Think of the wolf. The animal living as the physical wolf you now see has fallen from its former estate, has become decadent. Formerly it did not manifest its bad qualities. But if good qualities germinate in you and you combine them with your spiritual powers, you can tame this animal; you can instill into it your own good qualities, making the wolf into a docile dog who serves you! In the wolf and the dog you have two beings characterizing as it were two great streams of forces in the world. And so men who used their spiritual faculties to work upon the surrounding world were able to tame the animals, to raise them to a higher level, whereas the others left the animals as they were, with the result that they descended to lower and lower stages of existence.

Here were two different forces, the one being applied by men whose attitude was as follows:

If I leave Nature as she is, she sinks lower and lower; everything becomes wild. But I can direct my eyes of spirit to a good Power in whom I trust; then that Power will help me and I shall be able to lead up-wards again what is in danger of sinking. This Power gives me hope that further development is possible!

The Iranian conceived this Power to be Ahura Mazdao and he said to himself:

Man can ennoble and sublimate the forces of Nature when he unites himself with Ahura Mazdao, with the power of Ormuzd. Ormuzd represents an upward-flowing stream. But if Man leaves Nature as she is, he will see everything degenerating into a wild state. This is due to Ahriman.

And now the following mood developed in the regions of Iran. Men said:

North of us live many who are in Ahriman's service. They are the Ahriman-folk who wander about the world and take what Nature gives them, who will do nothing to spiritualise Nature. We, however, will unite ourselves with with Ahura Mazdao!

Thus men became aware of duality in the world. The Iranians, the people of Zarathustra, felt this duality and desired so to organise their life that the urge towards a higher form of existence should come to expression in their laws. This was the outer consequence of Zoroastrianism and herein we must see the contrast between Iran and Turan.

The war of which occult history gives so many and such detailed accounts, the war between Ardshasp and Guslinasp — the former being the King of the Turanians and the latter the patron of Zarathustra — is an expression of the antithesis between the North and the South, between the men living in the two regions of Turan and Iran.

If we grasp this, we shall perceive a current of soul-life flowing from Zarathustra to the whole of the humanity upon whom his influence was exercised.

1910-12-31-GA126 

The question may arise:

Which particular Spirits, from which Hierarchies, worked through the ancient Indians, the ancient Persians, the Babylonians, Chaldeans and Egyptians respectively?

It is the answer to this question that alone can give us deeper insight into the occult course of history. [see Note 26] The investigations made possible from occult sources enable us, in a certain sense at any rate, to say which particular Beings of the higher Hierarchies worked through men as their instruments in each of these periods.

Into the ancient Indian soul, which created the civilisation immediately following the Atlantean catastrophe, the Beings we call the angels, poured their forces. And in a certain connection it is true to say that when a man of ancient India spoke, when he gave expression to what was active in his soul, it was not his own egohood speaking directly, but an angel. Ranking only one stage higher than man, the Angel is the hierarchical Being most closely related to him and therefore able, as it were, to speak more directly. It is in the ancient Indian mode of speech that an element foreign to the human comes most strongly into evidence, because the Angel, as the Being most closely related to man, is able to speak with the greatest directness.

This direct expression was less possible for the Beings of the higher Hierarchies who spoke through the souls of the ancient Persian people, for they were Beings of the next higher rank — the Archangels. And because these Beings stand two stages higher than man, what they were able to express by means of human instruments was farther away from their own inherent nature than what the Angels could express through the ancient Indians. Thus, stage by stage, everything becomes more human. Nevertheless this downflow from the higher Hierarchies is continuous, unbroken. Through the souls of the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian peoples, the Spirits of Personality (the Archai) express themselves. Hence it is in this period that the emergence of personality is most prominent, and what man is still able to give out from the forces streaming down to him is therefore the farthest removed from its origin, bearing the essential stamp of the human-personal. And so, as evolution advances to the Egypto-Babylonian epoch, there is a continuing manifestation of the Angels, the Archangels and the Spirits of Personality.

In the ancient Persians, especially, we can see very exactly how they had an awareness that the Archangels — the Spirits of paramount importance in that epoch — were working into the human organism, the human organism in its totality. We must not, to be sure, take an average Persian when considering the downflowing of forces from the Hierarchies. The forces streamed down, too, upon the average Persian, but only those who were the immediate pupils of the inspirer of the ancient Persian culture, of Zarathustra himself, were capable of knowing how this happened, of seeing through to the reality. And they did indeed possess this knowledge. For you will remember from many descriptions I have given of the teachings of Zarathustra, or from exoteric traditions, that according to the view of the ancient Persians the primal Divinity, Zervana Akarana, reveals himself through the two opposing powers, Ormuzd and Ahriman. The ancient Persians were clearly aware that whatever comes to manifestation in the human being derives from the macrocosm, and that the phenomena of the macrocosm — especially, therefore, the movements and positions of the stars — are mysteriously connected with the microcosm, with man.

[Zodiac]

Hence the pupils of Zarathustra saw in the Zodiac the external expression, the image, of Zervana Akarana, of the primal reality of Being living and weaving through eternity. Even the very word “Zodiac” is reminiscent of the word Zervana Akarana. The pupils of Zarathustra saw twelve powers proceeding from the twelve directions of the Zodiac, six directed towards the light side of the Zodiac traversed by the sun by day; the other six towards the dark side — turned, as they said, towards Ahriman. Thus the Persian conceived of the macrocosmic forces coming from the twelve directions of the universe and penetrating into, working into humanity, so that they are immediately present in man.

[Link with nervous system]

Consequently, what unfolds through the working of the twelve forces must reveal itself also in its microcosmic form, in human intelligence; that is to say, it must come to expression in the microcosm, too, through the twelve Amshaspands [see Note 27] (Archangels), and indeed as a final manifestation, so to say, of these twelve spiritual, macrocosmic Beings who had already worked in former ages, preparing that which merely reached a last stage of development during the epoch of Persian civilisation.

It should not be beyond the scope of modern physiology to know where the microcosmic counterparts of the twelve Amshaspands are to be found. They are the twelve main nerves proceeding from the head; these are nothing else than material densifications of what arose in the human belong through the instreaming of the twelve macrocosmic powers. The ancient Persians pictured the twelve Archangel-Beings working from the twelve directions of the Zodiac, working into the human head in twelve rays, in order gradually to produce what is now our intelligence. Naturally they did not work into man for the first time in the ancient Persian epoch, but finally they worked in such a way that we can speak of twelve cosmic radiations, twelve Archangel-radiations, which then densified in the human head into twelve main cerebral nerves.

And just as knowledge in a later age includes what was already known in an earlier one, so could the Persians also know that Spirits of a lower rank than the Archangels had been at work previously, in the Indian epoch. The Persians called the Beings of the rank below the Amshaspands, “Izads,” and of these they enumerated 28 to 31. The Izads, therefore, are Beings who give rise to a less lofty activity; to soul-activity in man. They send in their rays, which correspond to the 28, 30 to 31 spinal nerves. And so in Zarathustrianism you have our modern physiology translated into terms of the spiritual, the macrocosmic, in the twelve Amshaspands and in the 28 to 31 Izads of the next lower Hierarchy.

A true fact of historical evolution is that what was originally seen spiritually is now presented to us through anatomical dissection; things that were formerly accessible to clairvoyant vision appear in later epochs in materialistic form. A wonderful bridge is disclosed here between Zarathustrianism, with its spirituality, and modern physiology, with its materialism. Of course, the destiny of the great majority of mankind makes it inevitable that such an idea as that of the connection between the Persian Amshaspands and Izads and our nerves is regarded as lunacy, especially by those who study the materialistic physiology of to-day. But after all, we have plenty of time, for the Persian epoch will be fully recapitulated only in the Sixth epoch which follows our own. Then, for the first time, the conditions prevailing will enable such things to be intelligible to a large part of humanity. Therefore we have to content ourselves with the fact that indications of them can be given to-day as part of the spiritual-scientific outlook. And such indications must be given if a spiritual-scientific conception of the world is to be spoken of in the true sense, and attention called, not merely in general phrases, to the fact that man is a microcosmic replica of the macrocosm.

In other regions, too, it has been known that what comes to manifestation in the human being flows in from outside. For example, in certain periods of Germanic mythology mention is made of twelve streams flowing from Niflheim to Muspelheim. The twelve streams are not meant in the physical-material sense, but they are that which, seen by clairvoyance, flows as a kind of reflection from the macrocosm into the human microcosm, the human being who moves over the earth and whose evolution is to be brought about through macrocosmic forces.

It must however be emphasised that these streams are to be regarded to-day as astral streams, whereas in the Atlantean epoch, which immediately followed that of Lemuria, and in Lemuria itself, they could be seen as etheric streams.

...

How do the Spirits of Personality, the Archangels and the Angels manifest in the Post-Atlantean epoch?

They work into man's inner nature.

  • The Angels worked as inspirers of the ancient Indians;
  • the Archangels similarly in the ancient Persians, but here the influence of the human element already asserted itself to a somewhat greater degree.
  • The Spirits of Personality stood as it were behind the souls of the Egyptians, urging them to project the spiritual on to the physical plane.
1911-06-07-GA015

In the ancient Persian epoch, the leadership of humanity was apportioned to the Archangels. They put themselves under the direction of the Christ earlier than did the beings in the rank next below them.

Of Zarathustra it can be said that pointing to the sun, he spoke to his followers and his people in some such words as these:

“In the sun there lives the great Spirit Ahura Mazdao, who will one day come down to the Earth.”

For the beings out of the region of the Archangels who guided Zarathustra, pointed to the great sun-leader who had not at that time come down upon the earth but had only begun his journey thither in order, later on, to enter directly into the Earth evolution. And the guiding beings who directed the great teachers of the Indians, also pointed out to these the Christ of the future; for it is a mistake to think that these teachers had no foreknowledge of the Christ. They said that He was “beyond their sphere” and that they “could not attain” unto Him.

1915-06-15-GA159

Earth evolution in the Postatlantean epoch was sustained in the beginning by the culture of the ancient Indian age. This was followed by the ancient Persian cultural age — the designation is only more or less appropriate but we need not go into that now.

...

The ancient Indian age was concerned with the cultivation of the human etheric body, the ancient Persian epoch with the cultivation of the astral body, the Egypto-Chaldean with that of the sentient soul, the Greco-Latin with that of the intellectual or mind soul. Our own epoch, throughout its duration, will develop and unfold the consciousness or spiritual soul. But what will give to external culture in the sixth epoch its content and character, must be prepared in advance.

...

[Context of associations and groups - see more on Communicating over spiritual science]

But we must look still more deeply into the course of human evolution if we are fully to understand the real tasks of our associations and groups.

  • In the first Postatlantean cultural age, too, in communities that in those days were connected with the mysteries, men cultivated what subsequently prevailed in the second epoch. In the associations peculiar to the first, the ancient Indian epoch, men were concerned with the cultivation of the astral body, which was to be the specific outer task of the second epoch.
  • It would lead much too far today to describe what, in contrast to the external culture of the time, was developed in these associations peculiar to ancient India in order to prepare for the second, ancient Persian epoch. But this may be said that when those men of the ancient Indian age came together in order to prepare what was necessary for the second age, they felt: We have not yet attained, nor have we in us, what we shall have when our souls are incarnated in the next age. It still hovers above us. It was in truth so. In the first cultural age, what was to descend from the heavens to the Earth in the second age still hovered over the souls of men. The work achieved on Earth by men in intimate assemblies connected with the mysteries was of such a nature that forces flowed upwards to the spirits of the higher hierarchies, enabling them to nourish and cultivate what was to stream down into the souls of men as substance and content of the astral body in the second ancient Persian age. The forces that descended at a later stage of maturity into the souls incarnated in the bodies of ancient Persian civilizations were like little children in the first cultural age. Forces streaming upwards from the work of men below in preparation for the next age were received and nurtured by the spiritual world above. So it must be in every epoch of culture.
1922-10-14-GA217

Then another age came .. in my book Occult Science, I have called it the old Persian.

Everything was built upon the principle of authority. People preserved during the whole of their life what is today experienced in a dull, repressed form between the seventh and fourteenth years. They took it with them into later life. It was more intimate but at the same time more intense. In a certain sense human beings looked through the external movement, through Man's external physiognomy, or through a flower. They looked at something that was less outwardly objective. What they saw gradually became only a revelation of what exists as true reality.

For the first Postatlantean cultural age the whole external world was simply reality, spiritual reality. The human being was spirit. He had a head, two arms and a body, and that was spirit. There was nothing to deter the ancient Indian from addressing the being he saw standing on two legs, with arms and a head, as spirit.

In the next cultural age men already saw more deeply into things. It was more in the nature of a surface behind which something more etheric was perceived, a human being more in a form of light. Man had the faculty of perceiving this form of light because atavistic clairvoyance was still present.

1923-07-25-GA350

.. some 6000 years before our time, in the area known as Persia today, esteem for the Earth arose for the first time. They had regard for life on Earth in such a way that they would say to themselves: "Yes, light is indeed valuable, but the Earth too is valuable in its darkness". And the view gradually developed that the Earth is equal in value and that it fights against heaven. And this struggle between heaven and earth was what people considered particularly important for 2000-3000 years.

...

This enormous fear of death is something which has not really existed for more than 3000 or 4000 years. The Indians and Persians had no fear of death [this started with the Egyptians] .. the Egyptians had this terrible fear of death.

1923-07-28-GA350

only short extract:

... 6000-8000 years back [editor: so -6000 BC to -4000 BC], we find people practiced their breathing a lot in order to gain knowledge. They knew they had to press the air into the head in a different way and then they would gain knowledge.

Gunther Wachsmuth

writes (Vol 3, p155):

It was between 4500 and 2000 BC that we moved out of stages of consciousness that experienced the cosmos directly and wrote nothing down. This is when the calendar, the pictorial script, the hieroglyphics, and the cuneiform writing appear. The cosmo-psyche translates what is seen in pictures and symbols.  ... The spread of the alphabet, of abstract letters with no pictorial content after 1500 BC is a clear sign of the radical change in human consciousness.

and

The Egyptians begin their calendar in 4241 BC, the chinese go back to 3082 BC, the Jews to 3761 BC ..

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