Spectrum of death

From Anthroposophy
Page to be developed

This topic page covers the implications of the age of dying - dying young vs at old age - on reincarnation and the process between death and a new birth.

In first instance and temporarily (later to be separated on a second page) this pages also covers the various ways of finding death and causes of death: illness, nature catastrophes, suicide, abortion, euthanasy.


  • People who die young:
    • will become special helpers in the future development of humanity, which will require strong forces to disentangle itself from materialism. They want to be as active as they possibly can to work down into the physical earth-world from the spiritual world.
    • Children dying young can be found in the spiritual world, after a relatively short time, between death and rebirth, in a most noteworthy society of souls who are so preparing themselves for their next life that they will soon have again to descend to the earth. These are the souls who will soon incarnate.
    • One who dies before the age of thirty-five, experiences even in the first period of the life in which he sees the life-picture, and then in the retrospective journey through the soul-world, that he really is in a kind of homeland which he forsook at birth. He has the direct feeling of coming back home into the world from which he descended. This is of tremendous importance. For each one who dies thus is, in one sense, as you see, immediately placed more easily into the spiritual world than one who dies later. Out of his post-mortem survey he carries far more spirituality into his next life between birth and death.
  • And so we must say that much of what rightly gives us pain when we are only able to regard it from the standpoint of earthly existence, shows us its redeeming side when we observe it from the standpoint of spiritual vision. Thus it is with the whole of life (from lectures on 1915-11-16-GA157A and 1917-02-20-GA175)
  • When we lose children, when the young are apparently taken from us, they do not really leave us at all, but remain with us. This is seen by clairvoyant consciousness by the fact that the messages we receive on awakening are forceful and vivid when the dead concerned died as children or young people. ... The connection between those remaining behind and the dead is then such that we can only say that a child or young person is not lost at all; he really remains present. ... The young remain above all, because after death they show a forceful need to work into our waking moments and to send us messages. It is very remarkable, yet true, that human people who died young have a very great deal to do with all connected with waking. (from 1918-02-05-GA181)

dying extremely young: miscarriage, children born death, baby-death

  • children born death may be due to various reasons (1906-08-29-GA095). The physical body can thrive only in so far as the higher principles can live within it, if for some reason all conditions are not met, the physical body remains alone and the baby is born death. See Schema FMC00.331.
    • even though the physical and etheric bodies may be properly constituted, the astral body (and I-organization) will withdraw if certain physical organs are not in the proper condition for the higher bodies to dwell in them
    • the way in which the various bodily fluids are combined may be at fault, so the incarnating entity comes to a physical body which cannot house the higher members of its being.
  • when dying before or shortly after birth, this incarnation is to be counted karmically to the previous earth life and not to the next incarnation (1914-03-31-GA069D)
  • the 'midnight born' (or 'blessed boys') is the term in Goethe's Faust for the young dead (or those who died immediately after death), with unused etheric bodies full of will and love forces (1915-09-05-GA163 and 1915-08-14-GA272, also 1915-08-16-GA272)
  • for the prenatal process and miscarriage, see also: Schema FMC00.331 on Embryo in the womb

dying young – sacrificial death (children, war)

  • Sacrificial death, eg war, martyrs and the link with ideals and the development of the Earth (1915-11-20-GA157A)
  • young children:
    • compensating in a very short life for a faculty missing in the previous life (1906-08-29-GA095)
  • death of a child in art and with artists: sorrow and grief, searching consolation
    • Dutch poet Vondel (1587-1679) died age 91 having survived all his children and grandchildren, with the exception of one grandchild
    • Dutch poet Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581-1647) lost his four children (and wife and parents) in about a decade
    • Ruckert and Mahler 'kindertotenlieder' (songs for death children)
      • 428 poems on the death of children by Friedrich Rueckert (1788-1866) following the death of his two children in 1833/34
      • Mahler lost eight of his siblings during childhood, wrote music of kindertotenlieder and then lost his four year old daughter Maria


human intervention: abortion and euthanasy

  • abortion
  • euthanasy

cause of death and destiny/karma

  • death through natural catastrophe, eg nature events: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, epidemics (1910-05-21/22-GA120)
  • accident
  • disease-illness
  • murder (killed)

various other

  • Thanatology is the study of death and the losses brought about as a result, incl. mechanisms and forensic aspects of death (ao bodily changes), and the wider psychological and social aspects related to death.

Inspirational quotes


.. in the beginning the soul did not take up its dwelling in each single one, but that one soul distributed itself as group soul among many. What today dwells in one, then inhabited a whole tribe. Here you must grasp a new concept. Such a group soul does not die.

The beautiful, significant side of death is a specific privilege of the individual human soul.

If one part of the group soul dies, then it immediately replaces it, like the tentacle you cut from a polypus. Thus the group soul, which does not descend to the physical plane, feels death as the loss of one member, and birth as the growing of a similar one.

It has not the privilege of death. Only when a sense being says “It is I,” death begins to enter individual life.

Man struggles for and attains his higher life through death. Unless death were overcome, he could not attain through it to higher life.

for full quote and lecture in context, see Animal kingdom#1907-03-16-GA097


Lecture coverage and references


We will now deal with several particular questions about karma which are often asked.

What is the karmic reason that causes many people to die young, even in childhood?

From individual instances known to occult science we may come to the following conclusion. If we study a child who has died young, we may find that in his previous life he had good abilities and made good use of them. He was a thoroughly competent member of society, but he was rather shortsighted. Because with his weak eyes he could not see clearly, all his experiences acquired a particular colouring. He was wanting in a small matter which could have been better, and because of his weak eyes he always lagged behind. He could have achieved something quite remarkable if he had had good sight. He died, and after a short interval he was incarnated with healthy eyes, but he lived only a few weeks. By this means the members of his being learnt how to acquire good eyes, and he had gained a small portion of life as a corrective of what had been lacking in his previous life. The grief of his parents will, of course, be compensated for karmically, but in this instance they had to serve as instruments for putting the matter right.

What is the karmic explanation of children born dead?

  • In such cases the astral body may well have already united itself with the physical body, and the two lower members may be properly constituted. But the astral body withdraws, and so the child is born dead. But why does the astral body withdraw? The explanation lies in the fact that certain members of man's higher nature are related to certain physical organs. For instance, no being can have an etheric body unless it possesses cells. A stone has no cells or vessels, and so it cannot have an etheric body. Equally, an astral body needs a nervous system: a plant has no nervous system and therefore cannot have an astral body. In fact, if a plant were to be permeated by an astral body it would no longer be a plant, but would have to be provided with cells if it were to be permeated by an etheric body.Now if the I-body is gradually to find a place for itself, there must be warm blood in the physical body. (All red-blooded animals were separated off from man at the time when the I-condition was being prepared for man.) Hence it will be seen that the physical organs must be in proper condition if the higher bodies are to dwell within them. It is important to remember that the form of the physical body is moulded by purely physical inheritance.
  • It may also happen that the way in which the various bodily fluids are combined is at fault, although parents are well-matched in soul and spirit. Then the incarnating entity comes to a physical body which cannot house the higher members of its being. Thus for example the physical and etheric bodies may be properly united; then the astral body ought to take possession of the physical body, but the organism at its disposal is not in a suitable condition, and so it has to withdraw. The physical body remains, and is then still-born. A still-birth may thus be the outcome of a faulty mixture, on the physical level, of the fluids of the body, and this, too, will have a karmic connection. The physical body can thrive only in so far as the higher principles can live within it.

is an early cycle on karma, covering karma in relation to disease and health (18/19/20-May), and death causes such as accidents or natural diasters (21/22-May)


internet translation (to be replaced with better extract)

When we look at the diseases like this, we will gain from a higher perspective through karma a kind of reconciliation, a deep reconciliation with life; for we will know that it is in the legality of karma that even if a disease begins with death, man favors will that even in such a case the disease has the goal of taking people higher.

Now no one is allowed to conclude: then it could also be that we would have to wish death in certain cases of illness. No one is allowed to say that because the decision of what should occur, whether healing or incurable, falls to a higher reason than the one we can grasp with our usual consciousness. With our usual consciousness, we must humble ourselves within the world between birth and death, to stand with such questions.

With our higher consciousness, however, we are allowed to put ourselves to the point of view that even accepts death as a gift from the higher spiritual powers. However, with that consciousness, which is supposed to help and intervene in life, we must not measure ourselves to face this higher point of view. We could easily be wrong and would be in one

Invading in an outrageous way into something we must never interfere in: the human sphere of freedom. If we can help a person to develop the self-healing powers, or by coming to the aid of nature ourselves to allow healing to happen, we must do it. And let the decision be made whether Man should continue to live or if he will be more supported when death occurs, then she can never fall apart from that our help can be an aid in healing. If this is the case, we make it in a person's individuality to use his powers, and only medical assistance can be one that supports him. Then it does not affect the human individuality. It would be different if we encouraged someone to be incurable in such a way that he sought his further demise in another world. We would intervene in his individuality and transfer his individuality to another sphere of influence. Then we would have imposed our will on others individuality. We have to leave this decision to the individual.

That means with others words: We need to do as much as we can to make a cure happen. Because all thoughts that lead to healing come from the consciousness that is justified for our Earth; all other measures would trespass over our Earth sphere; there must be forces other than those that fall into our usual consciousness.


Let me bring another matter to your attention. For the seer there is during the lives of souls between death and rebirth a moment that reveals itself of special importance. It is also of importance for others after death. For some this point lies earlier, for others, later. If one beholds the life of sleep with super-sensible cognition, one sees the human being with his astral body and I outside the physical body. Looking back, one gains the impression that the physical body is slowly dying. It is only from the first years of infancy until the child develops an understanding, until the moment that memory begins, that the body during sleep has a blooming, flourishing appearance. A slow withering process in the physical body sets in shortly after life begins. Death is but the final occurrence in this dying process. Sleep is there in order to compensate for the forces that have been exhausted but the compensation is incomplete. Each time there remains a small residue of death forces. When so much residue has been accumulated that the upbuilding forces are unequal to the task, physical death ensues. Therefore, as one considers the human physical body one sees how death gradually fulfills itself. In reality we slowly die from birth onwards. This makes a solemn impression as one becomes aware of the facts.



the time of decision comes for the souls only in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch [lecture 14(3/10/1913)] and in the end even only during the Venus evolution.”The hierarchies use the unspent forces of such souls who have died early by illness, accident, and the like for the rescue of the materialistic souls (who become servants of Ahriman after death and must cause such mistimed deaths: see 144-01). Cfr 153-07.


What about the souls who here on Earth suffer such a fate, who perish in the flower of their youth, who are destroyed early by epidemics?

What about these souls, when they pass through the portal of death into the spiritual world before their time?

We learn the fate of these souls when with the eye of the seer we penetrate, so to speak, into the occupation of the spirits who give a forward impulse to the evolution of the Earth, or to all evolution. These beings of the higher hierarchies have certain forces, certain powers to further development; but they are in a certain way limited with regard to these forces and powers. Thus the following becomes manifest:

The completely materialistic souls, those who lose all sense of the supersensible world, are in fact already in this our era threatened by a kind of blight, a kind of cutting off from progressive development. And in a certain way already in our era the danger exists that a large portion of humanity may not be able to keep up with evolution, because they are, so to speak, bound to the earth by the heaviness of their own souls, being completely materialistic souls, so that they are not taken along for the next incarnation. But this danger is to be deflected according to the decision of the higher hierarchies.

The truth is that the hour of decision for the souls who, having cut themselves off completely, are not carried along with the evolution, that the hour of decision does not come until the sixth period — actually, not until the Future Venus planetary stage of evolution. Souls must not fall prey to the downward pull of gravity to such an extent that they are compelled to remain behind. It is actually according to the decision of the higher hierarchies that this must not happen.

But these beings of the higher hierarchies are in a certain way limited in their forces and capabilities. Nothing is unlimited, even among the beings of the higher hierarchies. And if it were only a question of the forces of these higher hierarchies, then completely materialistic souls, through themselves, would have to be already cut off in a certain way from progressive evolution. The beings of the higher hierarchies really cannot alone by themselves save these souls — so an expedient is used.

Namely, the souls that die here an early death have, as souls, a possibility before them. Let us say they die through some catastrophe; for instance, they are run over by an express train — then indeed the bodily sheath is taken from such a soul; it is now free from its body, denuded of its body, but it still contains the forces which might be active in the body here on Earth. By going into the spiritual world such souls carry up very special forces, which in fact still might have been effective here on Earth, but which have been prematurely diverted. Forces, especially applicable in helping, are carried up by those who die early. And the beings of the higher hierarchies use these forces to save the souls whom they could not have saved by their own power.


Extract from Q&A, p 401 - freely translated

When dying shortly after birth, then this incarnation is to be counted karmically to the previous earth life and not to the next incarnation. This is especially the case when death happens before birth. Sometimes it is like this, sometimes differently, there can be hundreds of different constellations underlying


about the many young deaths in the war

It seems reasonable to ask: which meaning do the deaths have for the spiritual world?

Countless human beings go in the prime of life through the gate of death. At first the connection of I, astral body, etheric body with the physical body is separated. The physical body is handed over apparently to the earth, the etheric body to the etheric world; astral body and I go on.

However, this must strike us: are the etheric bodies of the human beings of normal age going through the gate of death different from those of the young men?

As to the physical body one understands this, as to the etheric one will understand it now. The etheric body could still have supplied the physical body for decades, and could have worked on it. It goes with these unused forces through the gate of death, coalesces there with the folk-soul, and the work of the folk-soul will be impregnated in future with the unused forces of these etheric bodies.

Human beings will be there who will know: the folk-soul is an active element. Only if one knows that the unused etheric bodies will work as a spiritual force in concrete way in the spiritual world, then one can understand what takes action really. The consciousness of this concrete relationship with the spiritual world will be important. Thereby, namely by creation of such a consciousness of the spiritual world, spiritual science becomes more and more life in the souls and does not only remain doctrine. The human being knows that he is in a spiritual aura as he knows here that the air is in his surroundings. Like he distinguishes clean and dirty air here, he will feel good and bad spirits, experiencing and feeling the spiritual aura.


from the synopsis:

Those dying prematurely are for the spiritual world like the Idealists for the physical. A child who dies is not necessarily a child. There must be martyrs for the world.

An infinitely deep and significant discovery can be made on coming to this chapter of spiritual investigation, when one learns to know these idealists impelled to the heavens, who become what they are, by going through the gates of death in the manner indicated here. And in the present time it is very fitting that we really unite such a thought with our souls.

On entering the domain of spiritual life it is necessary that besides those who, as it were, accomplish their task in the spiritual life, there should be also those who point to the earth, who have really woven something into the earth evolution, but have taken it out earlier than should have been done according to plan. Thus we may say that those who go early through the gates of death become in many respects for the human souls in the spiritual world just those who make it possible to believe in the heights of earth-life. They make it possible for those yonder to believe that earth-life really contains something spiritual which is of value; for these souls adopt a similar position there to the idealists here on earth.

We must always bear in mind that we should not imagine men living on in the spiritual world as they last were, when here. The trivial ideas that people hold, as, for instance, that those who die as children continue to live on as children, are naturally incorrect. The imagination may picture the dead as we last saw them here, but that is not their true form; it is rather the expression of it.

A child may die, but the human entity incarnated in the child may be a highly evolved soul, and continue its life after death as a highly evolved soul. I have often mentioned this. Thus we see something is carried up into the spiritual world which, being bound up with earth existence and nevertheless not consumed by it, should, in a sense not ‘be’ there. That works in the evolution which the human soul passes through between death and rebirth. Those men who have thus gone through death so pass through the intervening stage, between death and rebirth, that they there represent the humanity of the earth in a much richer and more comprehensive sense than one can do who has gone through a normal earth life.

That has nothing to do with what is laid down for man through Karma. If one lives to be old, that is Karma. If one dies young, that is Karma. But just as on earth a man cannot make himself arbitrarily into this or that individuality which his consciousness on this side of the veil might select, neither can he determine from the earth-consciousness how the life between death and rebirth is to be fashioned. If one is taken forcibly from physical existence into the spiritual world, he then has a much more intense imaginative vision of everything human than one who enters the spiritual world in a different fashion. We say that those who pass thus through the gates of death, stand especially near, during their life between death and rebirth, to that which happens on the earth, as far as humanity is concerned. That can be seen by investigating the lives of persons who have accomplished something of a very special importance at a particular time of their life, something which could perhaps only be done by them.

Suppose a man accomplishes something of great importance in a certain direction, at a definite epoch of his life, for example, in his forty-ninth year. (Naturally this can only be investigated occultly). If one traces this back, one finds that in an earlier incarnation, and perhaps just in his forty-ninth year, this man died a more or less violent death. He acquires this strong tendency towards the ideal evolution of the earth by having carried up ‘that which should exist’ into the spiritual world. Thereby he incorporated into his whole physical being the strong force wherewith to accomplish something definite in a definite year. We can again see from this, as I pointed out in the last lecture, that men who have to effect many things, especially through their will, and who thus live more for universal humanity, have carried up in some form, from some earlier incarnation, such life ‘which ought to exist.’

It is indeed specially difficult, while one only wishes to conceive of life in the spiritual as a somewhat more refined earthly life, to reconcile oneself to acquiring the following idea of the spiritual: Here on earth, physical life is always known of itself; while over there is the life which is unknown; and that in the spiritual, things are reversed. People do not take the trouble to understand that actually, unless one does something oneself, everything is dark and gloomy in the spiritual life; that one must first bring everything to light. Everything which is visible is on this side (the physical), but seen from that side. Also the most significant thing that is intermingled there consists in ‘something that should exist.’ This is a conception which one has to acquire if one wants to perceive aright the connection of physical life with the spiritual life.

In our time it is really a good plan to acquaint ourselves with such conceptions for, as I have said, suffering souls so frequently ask themselves today: Why must so many men be called into the spiritual world in the flower of their age? Why cannot they complete their life here?

And wonderful as it sounds (though, as I have said, the spiritual truths may sometimes seem cruel) it is nevertheless true, that there must be carried into the spiritual world the possibility of so looking at the earth that this earth itself can be permeated by the spirit. If all men reached old age normally, if there were no martyrs, no men able to sacrifice themselves in youth, then would the earth, regarded from above, lapse into worthless existence. That which is here mingled with the earth as Ideal, is at the same time that which continually brings from out of the past something better for the future. That is connected with what is here sacrificed. Suppose a man at the age of twenty-six sacrifices his whole future life, which he otherwise would have employed in his external work, and would have devoted it to the progress of humanity. This lives further. In the forces of progress there live the lives that men have sacrificed, the lives which they would have been able to live here. The evolution of the earth needs this sacrifice of life. We can thus see how that which is otherwise merely an abstract idea in our materialistic age, becomes extremely concrete. In yet another sense than I developed it here in July, we can say, ‘Not only do these etheric bodies work in the entire connection of human progress, but the work of those who have gone early through death also lives on.’

The work of these individualities is such that we can ask: Who then are those who principally labour for the good of humanity in general, and who set themselves universal tasks in later incarnations?

They are those who in earlier incarnations, have in some way or other died a death of sacrifice. The devotional natures, those given up to the spiritual here on the earth, owe this to their life of martyrdom in a previous incarnation. The earth could not progress unless people sacrificed themselves.

When we think of this, we can look away from the present into the future. Such an immense number are now being sacrificed and are sacrificing themselves. Painful as this is considered from many a personal standpoint, yet if we look at it from the standpoint of the wisdom of the Cosmos we may console ourselves. For in proportion to what is now sacrificed will the forces of progress be given to the future. Humanity requires such forces of progress. This is not considered deeply enough today, but it will be, when a sufficient number not of centuries but of decades, have come and gone in the present materialistic evolution. The consequence of materialism will follow with incredible rapidity. The zenith of materialism was really attained in the nineteenth century, and man would be swamped by it unless something occurred to arrest it. This conversion should be brought about by spiritual science. And this can only be done by strong forces, working for the ideal to be really worked into earth life. Many who are now called away will help to prevent the earth from falling a prey to materialism and being dominated by it.

Just read the course of lectures on the Apocalypse, in which this is indicated in broad outlines. You can then form some idea how great is the fruit of the sacrificial deaths that will be required by the earth in the future, to redeem it as far as possible from sinking into materialism, and the strife, hate and enmity, connected with it; so that it can pursue its further course in the cosmos. Such a time as ours demands, more than other epochs that we should think, not only on what is taking place, but on the fruits of these happenings. And we can only recognise these fruits if we bear in mind the two sides of cosmic existence, which shows us that we really experience two completely different poles of life: one here between birth and death and the other there between death and rebirth. Here, we are, in a certain sense, passive in our innermost being, and if we wish to raise ourselves to the perception of the spiritual world, we have to work so hard that many find it impossible. There, it is necessary to be active in order to have with us our vision of the immediately present spiritual world in which we find ourselves; on the other hand we always have, as a reminder, the existing world beneath. Here in this earthly world, the Idealists bear ‘that which should exist,’ which makes existence of value. Into that world to which men pass through the gates of death, which those enter whose life has run its regular earth course, come those who die more or less early as martyrs. And there they are: the witnesses, that below on earth, not merely the material exists, not merely that which is given over to the nothingness, to the transitory, and decaying — but that on this earth is also intermingled that which is retained by those who did not complete their life, whose life was indeed forcibly taken from them.

We must take such things not only intellectually but unite them deeply with our feeling, then may things become comprehensible. Certainly our present epoch contains many riddles, but some of them can be solved if we connect the present suffering with the great wisdom of the Cosmos. And this again is a chapter which if we apply what has now been said to our own times, may be embodied in the great truth:

From the fighters' courage,

From the blood of battles,

From the mourners' suffering,

From the people's sacrifice,

There will ripen fruits of Spirit

If with consciousness the soul

Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.



see also here

The Key to Theosophy

Suicide is the worst of crimes and dire in its results.

H.P. Blavatsky,

… the greatest of all living crimes – Suicide.” – Master Serapis Bey, Letters from The Masters of the Wisdom

“Suicides are not dead but have only killed their physical triad … The suicides, who, foolishly hoping to escape life, found themselves still alive, – have suffering enough in store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of the latter.”

Master Koot Hoomi, The Mahatma Letters

Because suicide is not natural death but a highly unnatural form of death – self-induced death which, although very tragic and in many cases understandable and worthy of all our compassion, is still spiritually unlawful – the process is different from that which applies in the case of ordinary and naturally occurring death, which has been outlined in the article Death and The Afterlife and also When We Die.

The individual who commits suicide remains fully conscious, trapped in the Kama Loka (the psychic or astral atmosphere surrounding and to some extent interpenetrating the physical plane), able to see and witness everything that’s going on on Earth in regard to the situations and people from which they have severed themselves, and having to remain there for the destined duration of what would have been their life had they not killed themselves.

For example, if the person was destined by their Karma to have lived for 90 years in that lifetime but killed themselves at the age of 20, they will have to remain within Kama Loka for 70 years and cannot progress any further until then. They are not able to undergo the complete death process and enter into the state of Devachan – or “Heaven” – until then.

In this regard the Master Koot Hoomi explained in “The Mahatma Letters” that “That particular wave of life-evolution must run on to its shore.” They are well and truly trapped and the suffering caused by being in that state is far worse than the suffering they tried to escape from on Earth.



describes potassium cyanide suicide or death as the real death of soul and spirit

Children dying young

  1. 1917-02-20-GA175
  2. 1915-11-16-GA157A (moving)
  3. 1918-02-05-GA181 (informational)

Lecture extracts


One who is able to experience by entering into the spiritual world the agony, the longing, the renunciation, but also the hopelessness that fills the souls who have passed through the gate of death, knows the reason for our gatherings. He also knows that he cannot do otherwise than to represent this spiritual life. This is a matter of the greatest seriousness and it is called forth by the deepest longing of humanity.


Thus it is possible to study the causes of illnesses on a purely scientific basis. One can also ask the question quite externally of why has this or that person died young. But this, too, has its source in the spiritual world. In order that illnesses manifest themselves on earth, certain spiritual entities must direct them from the spiritual into the physical world.

The spiritual investigator is confronted by a shattering experience when he turns his spiritual gaze to souls who have died prematurely in the flower of youth, either as a result of illness, misfortune or hardships during their lifetimes. There are many such destinies. The seer beholds a vast expanse of illness and death wholly governed by certain evil spirits who bring disease and death down to the earth. If one now seeks to trace the course of existence of those souls who lacked conscience on Earth, one finds that they were forced to become the servants of the evil spirits of death, disease and hindrance who bring about premature deaths and great misfortune. That is the connection.



Dr. Steiner gave the following answer to the question of whether one also could read to children who have died at birth or in early childhood.

One is a child only here on Earth. Supersensible vision frequently reveals that a person who dies at an early age is less childlike in the spiritual world than many who cross the portal of death at eighty. The same criterion therefore cannot be applied. I would say therefore that one also can practice reading to children who have died young


see full extract: Midnight hour#1914-04-14-GA153

from the synopsis:

By means of early death, forces are accumulated before the ‘midnight hour,’ which after the ‘midnight hour’ are used so that, in that person's next incarnation, he has more will and more character than otherwise.


It is always like the case of a man who climbs a hill from which he sees something first from one side and then from another side, yet the essential points are always the same. So that one can say: Here in earth-life between birth and death our life is so experienced that it is always torn away from us, it is always broken off by the night-life; and we only remember the day-life, the things we have experienced by day. But in the night-life we do more than remember them; we work upon them and transform them, as stated above. And what we cannot remember now, we remember during the kamaloka life.

That is an important connection, and from this you will grasp many things which perhaps could not be understood otherwise.

Just consider, especially in our present time, how many relatively young men pass through the gates of death. I have already stated from many points of view the significance this has for the collective life of humanity. But let us first look at the two divisions which we have just characterised. (We will come on to other things in the course of these lectures.)

- Let us first consider the life in the etheric body which lasts only a few days, during which a man has his life tableau before him, and then we shall consider the life of the soul in the soul-world. In going through the previous life from the night-side we shall easily be able to see why the spiritual investigator must say that even these two periods of life between death and rebirth are different for a man who has gone relatively early through the gates of death; one who dies at a later age has different experiences. This concerns us very closely because so many now are dying at a relatively early age.

You see it is really the case that the separate sections which I have distinguished are of great significance for our life here in the physical world.

I have given these divisions of life thus: the first extends to the seventh year, to the change in dentition; the next to the fourteenth year, the time of puberty; another extends to the twenty-first year and so on; in periods of seven years.

And if you earnestly consider what lies in these phases of life you will see that the thirty-fifth year becomes an important epoch. Till then we are, as it were, in a state of preparation, whereas later we have ended the preparatory stage and built up our life on the basis of what has been prepared up to the thirty-fifth year. This thirty-fifth year of life is of very great significance. Till then, not merely the bodily growth continues, but also the growth of the soul; for the soul of a man really grows.

Now, it must decidedly be emphasised that much of the ripened condition of life can only be attained after the thirty-fifth year. And if we consider this thirty-fifth year of life from another point of view, it will appear still more significant to us.

You see, if we place these seven-year epochs of life before the soul,

  • we first have the building up of the physical body to the age of seven, and
  • the building up of the etheric body to the age of fourteen.
  • From the fourteenth to the twenty-first year there is fashioned and organised what we call the astral body;
  • then the sentient soul to the age of twenty-eight,
  • the rational or intellectual soul to the age of thirty-five, and
  • the self-conscious or spiritual soul to the age of forty-two.
  • And then we come to spirit-self, which is a kind of evolving back again to the astral body, and so on.

The further epochs of life do not progress in periods of seven years, but irregularly, for they will only evolve to regularity in the future. Thus, unless thwarted by the errors of education, a certain regularity is followed up to the thirty-fifth year.

Now, we may be especially struck by the deeper significance of the entire development of life, when we observe people who die at these different epochs of life.

Suppose — merely as an instance — that we follow the soul of an eleven, twelve, or thirteen-year old boy or girl, who goes through the gate of death at that early age. In accordance with what I have already described, it follows in such a case that the etheric body — which would theoretically have been able to care for the full life of the child — has these unused forces still within it. In general it happens, that man during the whole life between birth and death really prepares himself for death: he really makes himself ready for death. In reality our whole life is a preparation for death, in so far that we continually labour at the destruction of the body. If we could not destroy it we could never attain to perfection. For we purchase the perfection, as it were, with the destruction of the outer physical body.

Now, when a boy of thirteen goes through the gate of death, he does not accomplish the long work of destruction, which he might have been able to do. He does not fulfil everything he might have done. This expresses itself in a noteworthy manner. If we follow such a soul, we find it in the spiritual world, after a certain time, a relatively short time, between death and rebirth, in what I might call a most noteworthy society. We find it among those souls who are so preparing themselves for their next life that they will soon have again to descend to the earth. These are the souls who will soon incarnate. Among these then, live such souls as pass through the gate of death at the age of eleven, twelve, or thirteen. They are placed among them.

And if we look more closely into these connections it turns out, strange to say, that these souls who are soon to enter their earth-life, require that which these other souls can bring up to them from the earth to give them the strength they on their part require to enter a physical body. Thus the souls of the young form a strong help to those others who must soon descend to the earth. Young children who are quite normal, who have no prominent spiritual life, but are merely intelligent, are normally able to give certain assistance, which can no longer be given by one who dies in later years. He, too, has his task, each one must accommodate himself to his own Karma, and we should not on this account wish to die at this or that age, for we all die at the age permitted by our Karma.

Thus the help a soul can offer to the souls awaiting incarnation cannot be given by one who dies in later years. That rests in the fact that during the first half of life a soul stands nearer to the entire spiritual world, in one sense, than in the second half of life. Yet in another sense this is not the case. But in a certain sense we do stand nearer to the spiritual world in the first half of our life. In fact the whole life so runs its course that the longer we live in the physical body the further we are from the spiritual world. A child of one year still stands very close to the spiritual world. When it forsakes the physical plane it is soon in the spiritual world. This is the case up to the fourteenth year; till then a child so lives in the physical body that it can easily enter the world of souls who are seeking an early incarnation. This is connected with the fact that even in the tableau, one who dies very young has different experiences from those of one who dies in later life.

Thus the thirty-fifth year of life is an important boundary. If a man dies before the thirty-fifth year, he first experiences the life-tableau, and then goes backwards through the night-life. But during this entire experience of the spiritual world, he sees — as it were ‘through a glass darkly,’ as if he were seeing it through the life-pictures — that spiritual world which he forsook on being born. His perspective still extends to the spiritual world. But if he has passed this thirty-fifth year then it is quite different. He no longer beholds that wherein he himself was before birth.

That is one of those things which particularly strikes one now, when so many die young. For this looking back at the spiritual world still retains a certain significance up to the thirty-fifth year. Of course after the fourteenth, fifteenth, or sixteenth year it is no longer such a direct vision, but even from then to the thirty-fifth year, if death occurs, it is as if the spiritual life was everywhere reflected in the retrospective life-picture. If one dies quite in infancy, there is naturally not much experience of life to go back over — one can almost immediately look into the spiritual world. If a child dies at the age of thirteen, he has a retrospective tableau, but immediately behind that lies the spiritual world. He can still see the spiritual world clearly. If death takes place later, the spiritual world is not perceived so distinctly, but it is contained in what one sees as one's own life. Up to the thirty-fifth year we are still connected with that spiritual world from which we descended. One who dies before the age of thirty-five, experiences even in the first period of the life in which he sees the life-picture, and then in the retrospective journey through the soul-world, that he really is in a kind of homeland which he forsook at birth. He has the direct feeling of coming back home into the world from which he descended.

This is of tremendous importance. For each one who dies thus is, in one sense, as you see, immediately placed more easily into the spiritual world than one who dies later. Out of his post-mortem survey he carries far more spirituality into his next life between birth and death. And those young men who die in such numbers in our present age, will from this standpoint become important bearers of spiritual truths and spiritual knowledge when they descend to earth again in their next incarnation.

Thus we see that the terrible suffering which is poured over the world is nevertheless necessary for the course of existence as a whole. For the blood which now flows will be the symbol of a certain refreshing of spiritual life at a particular time in the future, and this is necessary for the whole evolution of humanity. Then will the souls, who now go through the gate of death so early, descend again; but most of them will descend different from what they would have been had they reached the limits of life in material existence, and then died. It is Cosmic Wisdom which now calls away a number of souls, that they may be allowed to perceive even in their retrospective tableau and experiences, deep spiritual secrets connected with the earth. That, too, is Cosmic Wisdom, for these souls are thus filled with that which they will behold in stronger form when they come to see it again; they will have been strengthened by the shorter earth life which they have undergone. That is the true Wisdom of the Cosmos.

And so we must say that much of what rightly gives us pain when we are only able to regard it from the standpoint of earthly existence, shows us its redeeming side when we observe it from the standpoint of spiritual vision. Thus it is with the whole of life.

Certainly, my dear friends, earthly pain cannot be at present avoided through such a consideration. It must be experienced. For that is the very condition for its compensation. If we did not experience it in the physical world it could never be compensated. But although we must suffer many things in the physical world, there are nevertheless moments in which we can place ourselves at the standpoint of the spiritual. Then we shall recognise that much of that which must appear to us as painful from a lower point of view is a tribute which must be offered to the higher spiritual worlds and the wise beings therein, in order that the evolution of the whole Cosmos and of human existence may go forward not in a one sided manner, but in every direction. The expiation for much suffering must be achieved, and to this end the suffering itself must first be endured. Spiritual science cannot indeed spare us that, but it can teach us to lay it on the altar of existence, to seek the compensation, and to recognise the Wisdom of the Cosmos, in spite of all the pain which for higher ends it must cause. This is what spiritual science can give us as a precious unction for the whole human existence. Thus from this standpoint also and right from the feelings which spiritual science can arouse in us, let us regard the powerful events of our time, and say again that which we have often repeated here: —

From the fighters' courage,

From the blood of battles,

From the mourners' suffering,

From the people's sacrifice,

There will ripen fruits of Spirit

If with consciousness the soul

Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.


when a Man's life comes to an end in early youth the meeting with the Father-Principle occurs at the hour of death. This shows that the particular karma of this Man made an early death necessary, so that an abnormal meeting with the Father-Principle should take place.

For what actually occurs in such a case? The Man is destroyed from without; his physical being is undermined from without. In illness, too, this is really the case. For the scene of action of the meeting with the Father-Principle is really here in the physical earth-world. When it happens that this external physical earth-world has destroyed a Man, the meeting with the Father-Principle can be seen at that very place, and of course it is always to be seen again in the retrospect.

This however makes it possible for a Man throughout the whole of his life after death to hold firmly, the thought of the place on Earth where, descending from heavenly heights, the Father-Principle came to the meeting which then took place. The recollection of this makes him want to be as active as he possibly can to work down into the physical Earth-world from the spiritual world.

Now if we consider our present time from this standpoint and try to arouse the same feeling of solemnity as we have just tried to do with respect to the meeting with the Father-Principle, trying not merely to look upon the numerous premature deaths now occurring in the light of feeling or abstract conception, we shall be driven to admit that these were predestined in preparation for the coming need for a great activity to be directed from the spiritual world to the physical earth-world. This is another aspect of what I have often said with reference to the tragic events of the last few years: that those who today pass so early through the portals of death will become special helpers in the future development of humanity, which will indeed require strong forces to disentangle itself from materialism


Thus, because we not only sleep and wake, but wake up and fall asleep, we are in a continuous correspondence and contact with the dead. They are always among us, and we do not only act under the influence of those living around us as physical men, but under that of those connected with us who have passed through the gate of death. I shall to-day bring forward facts which from a certain point of view, may lead us farther and farther, into the spiritual world.

We can distinguish between various souls who have passed through the portal of death, as soon as we have understood that there is such continuous contact with them. Since, really, we always pass through the field of the dead, either on falling asleep, when we ask them questions, or on awaking, when we receive answers from them, our connection with them must also be affected according as they died young or old. The facts underlying the following are only evident to clairvoyant consciousness. That, however, is only the ‘knowledge’ of it, the reality always takes place. Every man is related to the dead, as shown by clairvoyant consciousness.

[Souls who died young vs old]

When the young — children or juveniles — pass through the gate of death, it is seen that the connection between the living and the dead is different from that of older people, those dying in the twilight of their life. There is a decisive difference.

When we lose children, when the young are apparently taken from us, they do not really leave us at all, but remain with us. This is seen by clairvoyant consciousness by the fact that the messages we receive on awakening are forceful and vivid when the dead concerned died as children or young people.

The connection between those remaining behind and the dead is then such that we can only say that a child or young person is not lost at all; he really remains present.

The young remain above all, because after death they show a forceful need to work into our waking moments and to send us messages. It is very remarkable, yet true, that human people who died young have a very great deal to do with all connected with waking.

To clairvoyant consciousness it is specially interesting that it is due to those who died in youth that a man in outer life feels a certain devoutness, a certain religious inclination. A tremendous amount in respect of devoutness is effected by the messages of those who died early.

It is different with the souls of the old, those advanced in physical years. What clairvoyance shows us concerning these can be described differently. We may say that they do not lose us; our souls remain with them.

Observe the contrast.

The souls of the young we do not lose, they remain with us; the souls of the old do not lose us, they take something of our souls with them, as it were; if we may use such a comparison.

The souls of the old draw us more to themselves, whereas the souls of the young draw, rather, to us. Therefore at the moment of falling asleep we have much to say to the souls of those who died old, and we can weave a special bond with the spiritual world by adapting ourselves to address the souls of the old. We can really do something with regard to these things.

Thus we see that we stand in continuous relation to the dead; we have a sort of ‘interrogation and reply,’ a mutual intercourse with the dead. To qualify ourselves for questioning and, as it were, to approach the dead, the following is the right course: Ordinary abstract thoughts, those taken from materialistic life, bring us but little in relation to the dead.

The dead, if they belong to us in any way, even suffer through our distraction in purely material life. If we stand firm against it and cultivate what will bring us in relation to them in conformity with our life of will and feeling, we prepare ourselves well to put the appropriate questions at the moment of falling asleep. These connections are particularly available in so far as the dead were related to us in life. The relationship in life forms and establishes what follows as relationship after death. There is, of course, a difference whether I speak with another with apathy or with sympathy, whether I speak as one who loves him or as one who does not care. There is a great difference whether I talk with someone as at a five o'clock tea, or whether I am specially interested in what I know of him. When intimate relations are formed between soul and soul, based on impulses of feeling and will, and if one can retain such interest after the one has passed through the gate of death, such eagerness to know what answer he will give, or if one has the impulse to be something to that soul, if one can live in these reminiscences of the other soul, reminiscences which do not flow to it from the content of the life of ideas but from the relations between one soul and another, then one is specially fitted for putting questions to that soul at the moment of falling asleep.

On the other hand, for the reception of answers, messages, at the moment of waking, we are specially adapted if we were capable and inclined to enter consciously into the being of the dead person during his life. Let us reflect how, especially at the present time, one man passes another by without really learning to know him. What do we know of one another? There are striking examples of marriages lasting for ten years, without either knowing the other. This is so; yet it is possible (not depending on talent but on love) to enter the being of another with understanding, and thereby to bear within one a real world of ideas from the other. This is a specially good preparation for receiving answers from the dead themselves at the moment of waking. That is why we are even sooner able to receive answers from a child or young person, because we more easily learn to know a young person than those who have become more individualised and grown old.

Thus we can do something towards establishing a right relation between the living and the dead.

Our whole life is, in reality, permeated with this relation. We, as souls, are imbedded in the same sphere in which the dead live. The degree to which we are religious is very strongly connected, as I have said, with the influence of those who have died young; and were it not that such work into life, there would probably be no religious feeling at all. The best relation to the souls of those who died young is to keep our thoughts of them more on what is general than individual. Funeral services for children or young people should have a ritualistic, universal character.

The Roman Church, which colours everything with the youthful, the child-life, and which, generally speaking, would have liked to have only to do with children, to guide child-souls, therefore, does not, as a rule, give ‘individual’ addresses for the young life closing with death. This is specially good.

We mourn for children in a different way than we do for older people.

  • Our grief for a child I should prefer to call a sympathetic sorrow, for the sorrow that we feel for a child that has passed from us by death is really in many respects the reflection of the attitude of our own soul towards the being of the child, which remains near us. We share in the life of the child, the child itself takes part with his entity in our sorrow; it feels a sympathetic sorrow.
  • Our grief for an older person is different, it cannot be called a sympathetic grief, it is ‘egoistic;’ it is best borne by the reflection that an older dead person really ‘takes us with him;’ he does not lose us if we try to prepare ourselves to join him. Hence we form more ‘individualised’ memories of our older dead, we bear them rather in thought, we can remain united with them in thought, in the thoughts we shared with them if we try not to behave as an uncomfortable companion. When we have thoughts which he cannot accept, our dead friend retains us, but in a peculiar way. We remain with him, but we can be a burden to him if he has to drag us along without our entertaining any thoughts in which he can unite with us, which he can perceive spiritually.

Let us reflect how concrete our relations to the dead appear in the light of spiritual science, if we are able to have in view the whole relationship of the living to the dead.

[end of relevant extract above, below more general]

This will become very important to the humanity of the future. Trivial as it may sound, for every age is a ‘time of transition,’ yet our own age really is a period of transition. It must pass into a more spiritual age. It must know what comes from the kingdom of the dead, it must know that we are surrounded by the dead as by the air. In time to come there will he a real perception that when an older person dies we must not become an incubus to him, as we shall be if we have thoughts which he cannot entertain. Just think how rich our times may become, if we accept this life with the dead as real. I have often said that Spiritual Science does not wish to found a new religion, or to introduce anything sectarian into the world; to think otherwise is entirely to misconstrue it. On the other hand, I have often emphasised that the religious life can be deepened by it, because it provides real foundations. Certainly, remembrance of the dead, the service for the dead, has a religious side. On this side a foundation for the religious life will be created, if that life is illuminated by Spiritual Science. When seen in the right light, these things will be lifted out of the abstract. For instance, it is not a matter of indifference to life whether a funeral service held is the right one for a young person, or whether it is more suited for an old one. It is of far greater importance for the general life of man whether right or wrong funeral services are held than all the regulations of town councils or parliament — strange as that may sound, — for the impulses working in life come from the human individuals themselves when they are in right relation to the dead. To-day people wish to regulate everything by an abstract structure of the social order. They are pleased when they do not need to think much over what they are to do. Many, even, are glad if they are not obliged to reflect upon what they ought to think. It is quite different when one has a living consciousness, not merely of a vaguely pantheistic connection, but of a concrete one with the spiritual world. One can foresee a permeation of the religious life with concrete ideas when it is deepened by Spiritual Science. ‘Spirit’ was eliminated (as I have often related) from Western humanity in the year 869 at the Eighth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople. The dogma was then drawn up that Christians must not regard man as consisting of body, soul and spirit, but of body and soul only, though certain spiritual qualities were to be ascribed to the soul. This abolition of the spirit is of tremendous significance. It was dogma, — that in the year 869 in Constantinople, it was decided that man must not be regarded as endowed with ‘anima’ and ‘spiritus,’ but only ‘unam animam rationalem et intellectualem.’ The dogma that ‘The soul has spiritual qualities’ was spread over the spiritual life of the West in the twilight of the ninth century. This must be overcome. Spirit must again be recognised. Trichotomy — body, soul and spirit, — regarded as heresy in the Middle Ages, must again be recognised as the true and exact view of man's nature. Several things will be necessary to this end for those who to-day naturally challenge all ‘authority,’ yet swear that man consists of body and soul alone. Such are not only to be found in particular religious persuasions, but also among the ranks of those who listen to professors, philosophers, and others. Philosophers, as can everywhere be read, distinguish only body and soul, omitting the spirit. This is their ‘unprejudiced’ philosophy of life; but it rests upon the decision of the Church Council in the year 869 not to recognise spirit; — that, however, they do not realise. A well-known philosopher, Wilhelm Wundt — a great philosopher by favour of his publisher, but at the same time renowned, — of course divides man into body and soul, because he regards it as ‘unprejudiced’ science to do so — and does not know that he is simply following the decision of the Council of 869. We must look into the actual facts if we wish to see what takes place in the world of reality. If a man looks at the actual facts in the domain especially mentioned to-day, his consciousness will be opened concerning a connection with that world only dreamed of and slept away in history. History, historical life, will only be seen in the right light when a true consciousness of the connection of the so-called living with the so-called dead can be developed.



Time and Space. The Perspectivity of Time. The Influence of Ahriman and Lucifer upon Man

The nature of time by analogy with space. Man experiences only the image of real time.

Earlier periods of time relate to the present in a perspective-like way. The similarity of time to space and its constant link with all that is.

In nature Ahriman works from the past. Man follows the course of time and does not notice the perspective of time; the consequence is that ahrimanic powers are able to work within him as a present reality; by this means man separates his present existence from the spiritual domain. That he cherishes ideals is the consequence of the luciferic powers that he bears within him, powers that endeavour to tear him away from nature and spiritualize him.

The balance lies in the unconscious regions of Man's being; at present it is created through the early death of children and young people. The death of old people makes the physical Earth more spiritual than it would be otherwise.

Transformation of human forms from soul-spiritual existence into their earthly human counterparts:

  • of the head as a result of ahrimanic influences,
  • of the limbs through luciferic influences.
  • In the region of the chest: influence of normally evolved divine beings through the living breath.

Here is also the dividing wall, our memory, through which in this threefold picture the ahrimanic powers of the head are kept separate from the luciferic powers of the extremities, and prevent a connection between the natural order and the spiritual order from taking place within us.

Lecture extract scanned

... present reality of nature is an abstraction, because Ahriman's influ­ence upon it is always exerted from out of the past.

However, not only is an ahrimanic influence active within man but also one emanating from Lucifer. This luciferic influence has in a certain sense a different tendency in the universe from that of Ahriman, which we can visualize in the way that we have been describing. Ahriman's influence within us tends towards a materialistic conception of the world. That we conceive of the world in a materialistic way and think only in terms of a natural order is the result of the ahrimanic influence that we bear within us; whereas our propensity to cherish ideals that are disconnected from the world of nature, ideals in accordance with which we would wish to govern our mutual relationships but which in the context of our present world-conception necessarily have the quality of mere dreams that will vanish into oblivion when the Earth has reached the end-point determined for it by natural law, is the consequence of the constant striving of the luciferic forces, which live in us as do the ahrimanic forces, to wrench that part of us that is accessible to them wholly out of the natural order and to spiritualize it in its entirety. The main tendency of the luciferic forces, in so far as they dwell within us, is to make us as spiritual as possible, to tear us wherever possible away from material life of any kind. They therefore lead us to believe in ideals that have no validity in the natural world and are powerless in the present world order. If in the course of future earthly periods man were wholly to succumb to the luciferic influence, so that he believed that ideals are mere intellectual formulations to which feelings must be subordinate, he would be following the powers of Lucifer. The material Earth to which we belong would disintegrate, would disappear without trace in the cosmic expanses and would fail to fulfil its purpose, and the luciferic powers would lead man to another spiritual world to which he does not belong. To this end they need to employ the stratagem of leading us to believe in ideals that are actually mere dreams. Just as Ahriman, on the one hand, deceives us with a world that is nothing but a natural order, so does Lucifer, on the other hand, present us with a world that consists only of fabricated ideals.

This is something that is highly significant; and at present some kind of adjustment can only be made in those regions that lie in the  unconscious areas of man's being. Human beings, must, however, become increasingly conscious of these matters, otherwise they will not extricate themselves from this dilemma or succeed in building the necessary bridge between idealism and realism.

What creates some kind of adjustment in our time is the following.

When at present young people die, for example children, these children (and it is similar with all young people) have only glimpsed at the world; they have not fully lived out their lives on the physical plane. They arrive in the other world, the world between death and a new birth, which unfolds in the way I described yesterday, with a life that has not been fulfilled on the physical plane. By living only a part of their earthly life, they bring something into the spiritual world from the earthly life that one cannot bring when one has become old. One enters the spiritual world differently when one has grown old from if one dies young. If one dies young, one has lived one's life in such a way that one still has many of the forces that one had before birth in the spiritual world. Because of this one has established an intimate connection between the spiritual forces that one has brought with one and the physical existence that one has experienced here; and through this intimate connection it is possible to take into the spiritual world something of what has been acquired on the Earth.

Children and others who have died young take into the spiritual world something from the earthly life that cannot by any means be carried over by someone who dies as an older person. What is carried over in this way is then in the spiritual world; and what children and young people bring with them gives the spiritual world a certain gravity which it would not otherwise have, thus giving this same spiritual world in which people are living together a quality that prevents the luciferic powers from completely severing the connection between the spiritual and physical worlds.

Just think what a tremendous mystery we are beholding here! When children and young people die, they take something with them from here by means of which they impede the luciferic powers in their efforts to separate us completely from earthly life. It is of the greatest importance that one keeps this in mind.

If one lives longer here on the Earth, one cannot upset the calcula­tions of the luciferic powers in the same way; for from a certain age one no longer has that intimate connection between what one brought with one at birth and physical earthly life. Once a person has become old this inner connection is dissolved, and the exact opposite now occurs. From a certain age onwards we gradually imbue the spiritual aspect of the physical Earth with our own being. We make the physical Earth more spiritual than it would have been otherwise. Thus from a certain age we spiritualize the physical Earth in a certain way that is imperceptible to the senses. We bring a spiritual quality to the physical Earth, just as we endow the spiritual world with a physical quality when we die young; when we grow old we exude a certain spirituality - I cannot express it in any other way. From a spiritual point of view growing old consists in a sense of exuding a spiritual quality here on the Earth. In this way the calculations of Ahriman are upset. It is because of this that Ahriman cannot in the long run have so intense an influence on human beings today that their conviction that ideals have a certain significance can be completely extinguished. Nevertheless, we are at present very close to a situation where people will fall prey to the most dreadful errors with regard to these very things. Even well-meaning people will easily suc­cumb to such errors in this particular area. These errors will grow to an ever greater magnitude, and as earthly evolution advances they may well assume gigantic proportions.


Note 1 - About martyrs and sacrificial death

For explanation, see 1915-11-20-GA157A above:

List of martyrs:

  • murdered:
    • Hypathia, Jesus Ben Pandira, Julian Apostate, Kaspar Hauser
    • burning of the Templars (1310, 1314), Cathars at Montsegur (1244)
    • famous persons (20th century): Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Robert F. Kennedy, Dietrich Bonnhoefer
  • death sentence & suicide: Socrates, Empedokles (Etna)
  • Christian Rosenkreutz: at least ten incarnations as martyr - see Individuality of Christian Rosenkreutz#Aspects

Note 2 - Considerations on Earth population

For coverage of the Earth's population, see: Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution#.5B3.5D - Earth.27s population and the process of incarnation.

Contemporary science states there are approx 8 Billion people on Earth, and - interestingly - all sources show this growth with a hockey stick in the last century.

1- Child mortality and life expectation

[1] The following statement in 1915-11-20-GA157A may trigger contemplation about the shift in child death in the last centuries.

A child may die, but the human entity incarnated in the child may be a highly evolved soul, and continue its life after death as a highly evolved soul.

It may be that no trustworthy historical statistical data is available, but it is certainly so that all currently available information states that child mortality in the past was around 50%. See eg source A and source B

[2] On the flipside, if we may believe contemporary medicine and science, life expectancy has increased considerably - overall by one to two or three. See eg source C and source D

2 - Man's conscious control over life: abortion and euthanasy

[3] Furthermore, abortion and euthanasy have become (and/or are on the way to become) legally institutionalized in the last fifty years. See oa source E

3 - Other considerations

[4] It is known, especially since the disclosure by Rudolf Steiner, that large numbers of the human population are not having a developed human I, see I-less human beings. Quoted from 1920-10-22-GA200 on that page:

very many people — at least relatively many — are being born who do not follow the regular course of reincarnation ... there are other beings incarnated here, beings who use these people in order to work through them. ... There are in fact a large number of people, for example in the West, who are not simply reincarnated human beings ... One should not think in an abstract way that everywhere and without exception human beings are subject to repeated lives on earth.

[5] Last, there are other elements that also affect the process of reincarnation worldwide, such as the availability of the right physical bodies for the maturity of the souls that want to incarnate.

An excellent illustration in the context of drugs is: Sixteen paths of perdition#Note .5B3.5D - The opium war

However the consideration can be broader given the lowering of the quality of nutrition due to processed food, the increase of radiation on the biology of the human body, etc.

4 - Commentary

For discussion: What spiritual scientific aspects and consequences do the above elements have?

Related pages

References and further reading


  • Leendert F.C. Mees: 'De aangeklede engel : op zoek naar de kleine prins ; over de achtergronden van abortus en euthananie' (1975 in NL)
  • Thom Kloes: 'Het maakt uit hoe je sterft' (2019)


  • Maria von Nagy: 'Rudolf Steiner über den Selbstmord' (1952 in DE, in NL 1998 as 'Voorbij de vertwijfeling : Geesteswetenschappelijke gezichtspunten omtrent zelfdoding'
  • Otto Julius Hartmann: 'Ist Selbstmord sinnvoll ? eine aktuelle Lebensfrage ; Depressionen ; Die Möglichkeit helfender Einsichten ; Fort von der Erde, weg von sich selbst ; Rauschgiftprobleme' (1976)
  • Doré Deverell: 'Light beyond the darkness: The healing of a suicide across the threshold of death' (1996)


  • Karl König: 'Das Problem der Euthanasie' (1986 based on two lectures of Nov-65)
  • C.I. Dessaur ; C.J.C. Rutenfrans: 'Mag de dokter doden? Argumenten en documenten tegen het euthanasiasme' (1986)
  • various authors (oa Frensch, Schmidt, von Cranach): Euthanasie : 'Sind alle Menschen Personen?' (1993)
  • Armin J. Husemann: 'Euthanasie : Ein Symptom dieses Jahrhunderts' (1996)
  • Siegwart Knijpenga (et al.): 'Stilstaan bij sterven : Zes bijdragen rond een verwaarloosd thema in het euthanasiedebat' (1998)
  • Sergei O. Prokofieff, Peter Selg: Honoring Life: Medical Ethics and Physician-Assisted Suicide (2014 in EN, original in DE 'Das Leben schützen: Ärztliche Ethik und Suizidhilfe. Eine Betrachtung aus anthroposophischer Sicht', also in NL 2018 as 'Het leven beschermen; geneeskundige ethiek en hulp bij zelfdoding').
  • Thom Kloes: 'De andere kant van euthanasie. Maakt het uit hoe je sterft?' (2018)


  • L.F.C. Mees: 'Mensen zonder omgeving : een niet onderkend facet van het abortus-vraagstuk' (1989)