Stages of clairvoyance

From Anthroposophy

Clairvoyance describes the human faculty to perceive further than mainstream sensory perception of the physical world.

  • The largest part of the population uses seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling - and thinking about those sensory observations - as the basis for the worldview of the world they know. See also Waking Consciousness.
  • A segment of the human population however has either the latent or the active capability of astral senses through which they can also perceive the other planes or worlds of consciousness that lie embedded in our own physical reality.
  • Through exercises of initiation, as part of taking up the conscious process of Man's transformation and spiritualization, every human being has the capability to train the development of these higher (astral) senses.

Rudolf Steiner coined terms for distinguishing three main states of clairvoyance:

  • imagination - as 'seeing' or 'reading' in the astral world
  • inspiration - as 'hearing' in the lower spirit world
  • intuition - as 'understanding' in the higher spirit world, a faculty that allows Clairvoyant research of akashic records

Note that besides this, some people may still have some of the old atavistic clairvoyance that existed in previous ages. Others can reach a certain clairvoyance under certain specific circumstances. Experiences of clairvoyance are very prone to various kinds of errors if not the result of a process of initiation

The spectrum of consciousness into the various worlds of consciousness can be illustrated with the image of a bandpass filter whereby a certain part of the total spectrum is visible, and the rest of the spectrum cannot pass through and thereby is invisible or non-existant. The same is the case for radio waves all around us.

It is important to realize the spiritual realities do stream into our being all the same, but we experience them unconsciously. Only when we develop higher senses can we then perceive what is there all the time anyway. Put differently: from a spiritual scientific perspective, we sense-perceive only the part of the elementals that we hold back, the rest streams in. Higher perception consists of 'holding back more'. See process of perception

This 'clairvoyance is related to the overall state of 'I'-consciousness that is in a continuous development. In earlier epochs and cultural ages, the whole of humanity had a natural clairvoyance, but this ebbed away slowly over the course of a few millenia, and a new type of clairvoyance will slowly develop in the future centuries and millenia. (illustrated oa by Schema FMC00.013, this is also spoken off with the various yuga ages).

Throughout history we therefore find descriptions of the spiritual realities, often in a symbolic or esoteric or 'occult' (hidden) language (see also worldview wars: in earlier times one could be burned or murdered if one did not conform to societal mainstream views, today there may be other variants). Certain sources are written at multiple levels, whereby a text can be read at in both an exoteric and an esoteric level. At an exoteric level one reads the words and links them to the concepts known in the physical world, at an esoteric level the terms used have a much deeper symbolic meaning and therefore he same text offers a very different and much deeper meaning. Examples of such texts are for example books on alchemy, but also the gospels or most ancient religious documents.

Clairvoyance is a faculty that requires training in order to be able to use it as our normal sensory perception: one needs to be able to interpret the images and what one perceives. Often this is not the case, and it is only a partially developed faculty, leading to strange descriptions and visions.


  • every person possesses the undeveloped faculty of clairvoyance (1913-05-29-GA146)
  • development of the clairvoyance through the astral senses: development of the chakras, when all petals are developed the chakra starts rotating and Man becomes clairvoyant
  • the faculty of incarnate clairvoyance whereby the astral senses (imagination, astral world) are used for inner reading of the cosmic wisdom of the solar system, using our own etheric and physical bodies as a reflector of the spiritual reality. During incarnation Man can deploy:
    • his etheric body as a gateway to 'hear' the cosmic knowledge of the lower mental world (as in: the plant world), and
    • the physical body to 'understand' the higher mental world (as in: the world of the minerals)
    • See 1914-10-04/5/6-GA156 and Schema FMC00.325, and see also Q00.007 as well as - for comparative purposes - the process underlying Waking consciousness
  • the principles explained in GA156 can be compared how the process during sleep is described, whereby Man's I and astral body use the astral senses called Heart-eye and Sun-eye to observe reflections in the etheric and physical bodies. (1922-08-30-GA224 on Process of waking and sleeping
  • for clairvoyant research with the highest faculty of 'intuition': Clairvoyant research of akashic records
  • three forms of clairvoyance: head, heart and stomach (1915-03-27-GA161 and 1915-05-01-GA161)
  • importance of sound judgment and thought: "approaching the spiritual world equipped with the instrument of thought, you will be able to bring reliable judgment to bear upon what is presented" (1909-11-13-GA117)
  • ancient old european clairvoyance and its remnants if Man dives back from waking consciousness in the layers of subconscious into the astral body (vision), etheric body (foreboding or prescience), and physical body (1909-05-01-GA057)
  • revelations from the spiritual world and appear as images in the soul: the revelations as facts are reality, but the form and content of the images is conjured forth from the soul. The pictures themselves should not be taken as objective, what is important is their revelation. See extract of 1910-12-28-GA126 regarding Maid of Orleans on The Christ Impulse from the 1st to the 20th century, as an example of the kind of revelations that will natural for humanity in the future sixth cultural age


  • various well-known historical personalities with clairvoyant capabilities: Quite some historical figures were clairvoyant (sometimes famous for it, or not at all), for example: Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus), Jacob Boehme, Tycho Brahe, Rudolf Steiner. But also mostly all initiates in earlier times: Moses, Empedocles, the apostles and most of all John, the author of the Book of Revelation. Furthermore in the theosophical society certain people had various degrees of clairvoyance, eg Helena Blavatsky, Geoffrey Hodson, Anna Kingsford, Charles Leadbeater.
  • Sometimes people became clairvoyant at a certain stage of their life, such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Emmanuel Swedenborg
  • Some people do not have trained clairvoyance whereby they combine normal daytime consciousness with the clairvoyant capabilities, but
    • only have a visionary capability in certain states (such as trance, a recent example is Edgar Cayce) or visions (eg mystics and/or people who have received the stigmata, such as Anna Katharina Emmerich)
    • only have clairvoyant visions occasionally in their lives, an example is Vladimir Solovyov (1911-09-19-GA130)
  • Furthermore also certain art contains reflections of higher perception, and many artists have brought down visions also without making rational sense of them. One example is 'A vision' by W.B. Yeats. One can also see this in the work of William Blake, or Hieronymus Bosch.

Various other forms or spiritual perception and influence beyond waking consciousness

  • different forms and effects of more specific and limited clairvoyance: remote viewing, or inspiration by spiritual influence into one's subconscious,
  • various clairvoyant-like or spiritual-like faculties and effects beyond the state of (contemporary mainstream or normal, mundane) waking consciousness
    • erroneous or ahrimanic clairvoyance: delusions, deceptive images, illusions in the form of visions, voices, hallucinations (eg 1910-05-22-GA120 and 1910-05-25-GA120)
    • the workings and influences of deceased souls on incarnate people (eg family members, or important Individualities)
    • various effects resulting from the deeper technical functioning of and between Man's different members (illustrations eg 1923-06-16-GA350)
    • erroneous and abnormal ways in spiritual investigation (eg 1924-08-19-GA243 and 1924-08-19-GA243)
    • the effects of unbalanced Human 'I' (re alignment between our structural members, see Man's bodily principles) on consciousness experiences (1917-01-01-GA174 and 1917-01-14-GA174, see also FMC00.338 on Development of the I)
  • more on temporary page (under development): Various forms of spiritual perception and influences beyond waking consciousness

Inspirational quote

quote by Christ Jesus (John 8:32), in this context taken from 1909-05-01-GA057:

"you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"


Schema FMC00.391 is a simple diagram to depict in a much oversimplified way, just to show the principle:

  • waking consciousness: is the threefold soul using the I-organization and the lower bodies to have a consciousness experience from reflections of astral experiences through the physical senses and brain in the physical body
  • asleep: the astral body and I separate from the etheric and physical bodies, the astral is stamped onto the etheric in the process of memory
  • stages of clairvoyance:
    • imagination: reading the astral world by identifying with the pictures in the astral, reflected by the etheric body
    • inspiration: we dive into the etheric and split up, hear in the lower spirit world by taking a soul-state-perspective to identify with one of the spiritual vowels and hear the reflections in the etheric body (as they speak to us from within the circle)
    • intuition: we dive into the purified physical body and understand the higher spirit world through a similar process, (whereby we ourselves take the perspective in the circumference of the circle)

Schema FMC00.325 connects the stages of clairvoyance to the enabled and rotating lotus flowers or chakras.


Schema FMC00.389A is a simplified version of reference table Schema FMC00.389. It shows the akashic record used by clairvoyant investigation. Notice the 'mirroring' across the fourth layer of the spirit world.


Lecture coverage and references

Marcel Proust in 'La Prisonnière' (1923)

the fifth volume of the seven volume 'Remembrance of Things Past' (also known as) 'In Search of Lost Time':

The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

to quote more fully from the original source:

A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of the is.


The contents of GA012 first appeared in 1905 in the magazine Lucifer-Gnosis and was later republished in book form, laying out extensively the different forms of perception and knowledge with 'Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition'.


Consider inner vision.

What in fact happens when we acquire insight into the spiritual world?

In our rou­tine daily lives, we live between waking and sleeping, which is, at the most, interrupted by a dream. The human being consists of physical body; etheric, or life, body; astral body; and the I-being. These four members are brought together when we are awake.

The physical body is a sum of physical apparatuses: the eye, a cam­era, and the ear, a stringed instrument. These apparatuses are perme­ated by the etheric body, which enlivens them and then passes on sensations to the astral body, the bearer of pleasure and suffering, of drives, desires, and passion, and further on to the I. During sleep the physical and etheric bodies lie in bed, while the astral body and I are lifted out. The etheric body remains with the physical body and enliv­ens it; the life functions are not interrupted during sleep. Colors, sounds, pleasure, and pain are sunk, as it were, into profound dark­ness; we ourselves are not aware of them.

There are as many worlds as the human being has sense organs to perceive.

Without eyes there is no light. If we had an organ to per­ceive electricity, we would perceive it, just as we now perceive light. During sleep we live in the astral world, or in the spirit world, but we experience nothing there. Only after persevering work has created higher organs of perception does change occur in us. Bright­ness begins to surround us. In sleep we feel a space around us filled with objects. We have an experience similar to what is experienced by someone born blind who receives sight through an operation. Astral and spiritual organs arise, and we see the spiritual world—sleep no longer makes us unconscious.

Later on, the spiritual world begins to sound forth around us. We hear the Pythagorean music of the spheres, which modern conscious­ness considers a metaphorical expression. Goethe understood it cor­rectly. In the prologue to Faust, he says:

The Sun intones, in ancient ways,

With brother spheres, a rival song,

And his predestined journey

He fulfills with thunder rolling.

We cannot take this as an empty phrase; we must take it literally. We hear the Sun intoning when we hear the music of the spheres.


gives a sketch of old European clairvoyance

Which are the inheritances of the old clairvoyant state of humanity?

We can distinguish two categories there.

  • One stands, as it were, completely for itself and belongs to the divine heirlooms. This is the dream and the dream experiences.
  • The other remainder belongs to another category. The dream is not changed by the human beings but by the ongoing development itself. The other heirlooms are vision, foreboding, and deuteroscopy or the 'second face'.

... [after describing the dreams] ..

The three other remainders are different: vision, foreboding and deuteroscopy or the 'second face'. If you remember the whole development of the human being as it was often shown here, it presents itself in such a way: the human being, as he faces us today, consists of four members: the physical, etheric, astral bodies, and the I. The I is the last developmental member, and by ascending to the I, the human being has become a self-conscious being.

When did the human being have this picture consciousness? He had it, when his I still slumbered in the astral body, when the astral body itself was the carrier of consciousness. It was the astral body, which let these pictures ascend and descend. It is as if the human being emerged from the astral body and attained his modern object consciousness thereby. That explains also, why the human being had to be connected even deeper with the other members of his nature. As well as he had disappeared into the astral body in former times, he had disappeared into the etheric body and even deeper into the physical body. We have three stages of subconsciousness below the modern object consciousness.

Imagine a human being swimming under the surface of the sea, within the sea. He is able to see what is in the sea. He sees what proceeds in the seabed, what happens there, what swims or hovers there. There he has something around himself that is different from that condition when he comes up, looks up, and sees the star-spangled heaven. We can imagine the object consciousness, raised from its lower states, where the human being appreciated what astral, etheric, and physical bodies have provided to him. However, the human being is now able to submerge in certain anomalous cases again in this sea of subconsciousness. He is able to resort to it in such a way that he again takes down what he had already attained after he had emerged from the sea of subconsciousness.

Imagine a human being who has seen everything above submerges again and can now compare all that he perceives below to that what he knows from above. That applies to the modern human being: he takes that along which he has acquired above. It is not in such a way as it is with a diver who takes everything along only in memory and can compare it. To someone who submerges there, after he has been a present human being, all that is below colours with that which he has above experience. One brings along the above experienced into this subconsciousness and thereby one gets no pure image, a clouded picture, but a picture that the experiences of the object consciousness have clouded.

If the human being submerges in his astral body, he puts himself artificially back in the sphere that his consciousness took when he still lived in the astral body. The vision originates in the present sense that way. If he descended in the consciousness of the astral body without knowing anything about the modern world, he would really experience those pictures, which show the inside of the objects. Because he takes that along which he has experienced above, all things, which would appear to him in their true forms otherwise, lead him to believe in that what one can experience only here in the world of the concrete. This is the true and the delusive side of vision.

If anybody descends into the world of vision, he can always be sure that there are reasons that lie in the mental environment. However, it is sure also, that that which faces him as a vision is jugglery, that the true figures of the things do not reveal themselves to him, but are after-images of that which is seen in the upper world. That is why the visions of the human being appear mostly in such a way that they indicate what just the human beings experience in the present. One can check this until the details, even from decade to decade.

Imagine a human being submerging in that world in a time in which there was still no telegraph and no telephone. There he would also have seen no telegraph and no telephone in the underworld. However, the vision of telegraphs and telephones will become more and more frequent in our time. Hence, it also happens that a devout Catholic, who has often seen the Madonna in that figure as the object consciousness faces it, if he descends, takes this picture along and it appears to him in the vision. As a rule, those who are not devout Catholics do also not experience the Madonna in their visions. What one sees in the vision does not correspond to reality; but the human being has only taken down what dresses itself as reality. He carries down in this world what he has experienced here. We see that, indeed, the human being tinges his vision in certain ways.

If Man submerges back in the etheric body, he experiences what one calls foreboding or prescience. However, here it is even more dangerous because this state of consciousness is even more distant. There the human being is interwoven with all intertwined threads of existence from which he ascended to his self-consciousness, but he cannot figure the threads out really. Keep in mind how little the human beings survey the connections which are round them. They give thought to a small part of the world, to cause and effect, but they forget that the whole world with its circumference is intensely networked.

The human being is lifted out of all that, he surveys, as it were, an island, but this island is connected with the whole universe. In his etheric body, the human being is connected with the universe. If he descended in his etheric body, without bringing anything of the bright day consciousness with him, then he would see the germ of something that only will happen, we say, in ten years. Now you can imagine that he brings down his intellect with him. He brings his little intellect down with him. What appears as foreboding is thereby already corrupted. If the foreboding appears natural, it mostly has — as well as the vision — no big objective value.

However, when the human being disappears in the depths of the physical body, the foreboding can change over to penetrating the space. While the foreboding is still connected with time, deuteroscopy, the 'second face' can show what cannot be perceived with physical eyes. The pictures present themselves to the human being like a Fata Morgana. Anomalous phenomena, as Swedenborg reported them, for example, belong to it. You can learn from this that in the psychological field the delusions are even bigger, and nothing is to be accepted unverified.


The human being will learn by spiritual science to behold on a higher level, with free consciousness, in the spiritual world what once the initiate beheld. The human being has descended from the spiritual world as a being living in his subconsciousness to get his self-consciousness in the sensuous world. He will ascend again to the supersensible world with his self-consciousness.

The old clairvoyance was not his clairvoyance, but it was instilled into him by other beings. The clairvoyance that the human being acquires in the future is a self-conscious I-filled clairvoyance. A quotation by Christ Jesus applies to it best of all. While Christ Jesus pointed to the connection between truth and freedom, he looked at a distant future; and to this future his quotation (John 8:32) points:

"you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"


Take a non-thinking, visionary clairvoyant and a thinking, visionary clairvoyant. They may both receive the same revelations. Let us take some particular case.

  • The non-thinking clairvoyant sees this or that phenomenon of the spiritual world.
  • The thinking clairvoyant does not see it yet, but only later; and the very moment he sees it, it is taken hold of by his own thought and he can at once discriminate and know whether it is or is not truth. He sees it somewhat later, but when he does see it, it comes to him in such a form that he has already penetrated it with his thoughts, and can tell whether it is illusion or reality; so that in a sense he possesses something before he actually sees it. The revelation comes to him at the same moment as to the non-thinking clairvoyant, but he sees it later. When he sees it, however, it is already penetrated with judgment and thought, and he knows exactly whether it is an hallucination, i.e. whether his own desires are being objectivised, or whether it is objective reality.

That is the difference in the subjective experiences of the two clairvoyants. The non-thinking clairvoyant sees the phenomenon at once, the thinking clairvoyant, later. In the ease of the former the picture will remain as it was; all he can do is to describe it. But the thinking clairvoyant will be able to link it up and bring it completely into line with what is present in the ordinary physical world; for the physical world, no less than the phenomenon which he has seen, is a revelation from out of the spiritual world.

From this you will see that if you approach the spiritual world equipped with the instrument of thought, you will be able to bring reliable judgment to bear upon what is presented to you.


He who has not first experienced the absolute silence and calm of the spiritual world may be certain that what he perceives are delusions, even though what they convey to him seems most portentous. Only he who has taken the pains to fortify his judgement by trying to comprehend the truths of the spiritual worlds, only he can defend himself against such delusions. The means which external science offers are insufficient. External science does not provide us with the power of judgement sure enough and strong enough for true discernment in the spiritual world. That is why we say that if information concerning the higher worlds is given us by people who have not carefully fortified the power of judgement — and this can be done through the study of Anthroposophy — such information is always questionable, and must in any case first be checked by the methods attained through genuine training. From this we see that Lucifer and Ahriman do not suspend their temptations when we strive for a higher development.

There is but one power before which Lucifer retreats, and that is morality which burns him like the most dreadful of fires.

And there is no means by which to oppose Ahriman other than a power of judgement and discernment schooled by Spiritual Science. For Ahriman flees in terror from the wholesome power of judgement acquired upon Earth. In the main there is nothing to which he has a greater aversion than the qualities we gain from a healthy education of our I-consciousness. For we shall see that Ahriman belongs to a very different region far removed from that force of sound judgement which we develop in ourselves. The moment Ahriman encounters this, he receives a terrible shock, for this is something completely unknown to him, and he fears it. The more we apply ourselves in our life to develop this wholesome judgement, the more do we work in opposition to Ahriman.

This appears particularly in numbers of cases of people brought before one, who recount from dawn to sunset all they have seen in the spiritual worlds.

And if one attempts to give to these people some explanation, and to develop their judgement and discernment, Ahriman generally has them so completely in his power, that they can hardly enter into the discussion. It is even more difficult to get them to listen to reason when Ahriman's temptations come to them from the auditory side. There are many more ways of dealing with delusions which appear as images than with those which come acoustically — in voices heard and so forth. Such people have a great aversion to any serious study that would contribute to the development of their I-consciousness between birth and death. But it is not they themselves who do not like it; it is the ahrimanic forces that drag them away from it. If one leads those people so far as to develop a wholesome discernment, and they begin to accept instruction, it soon becomes evident that the visions, voices, and hallucinations cease. They were merely ahrimanic chimera, and Ahriman is possessed by fear as soon as he feels that from out of this man there comes forth a wholesome power of judgement.

In fact, the best remedy against the particularly harmful diseases which result in visions and delusory voices induced by Ahriman is to make all efforts to induce the person to acquire a wholesome and rational judgement.

In many such cases it is extraordinarily difficult to do this, for the other powers make things very easy for the deluded ones and guide them on. He who attempts to expel this power cannot make things so comfortable, and in consequence finds his task a difficult one; for they maintain that they are being deprived of that which before had led them into the spiritual world. The truth of the matter is that they are being healed and safeguarded against further encroachment by these evil powers.


is on cases of erroneous (ahrimanic) clairvoyance: delusions, deceptive images, illusions

We have seen that our karma is brought into action only through the influences which the luciferic powers bring to bear upon our astral body, and that through the temptations of these powers we are led into expressions of feelings, impulses and passions, which in a certain way make us less perfect than we should otherwise be. Whilst acting upon us, the luciferic influences call forth the ahrimanic influences whose forces do not act from within, but from without, working upon and in us by means of all that confronts us externally. Thus it is Ahriman who is evoked by Lucifer, and we human beings are vitally involved in the conflict of these two principles.

When we find ourselves caught in the clutches of either Lucifer or Ahriman, we must endeavour to progress by triumphing over the ill that has been inflicted upon us. This interplay of activity of the luciferic and ahrimanic powers around us can be understood quite clearly if we consider from a somewhat different aspect the case we alluded to in the last lecture - the case where the person succumbs to ahrimanic influence, whereby he experiences all kinds of deceptive images and illusions. He believes that knowledge of one thing or another has been specially imparted to him, or is in one direction or another making an impression upon him, while another person who had preserved a sound power of judgement would easily recognise that the person in question has succumbed to errors and delusions. Last time we spoke of those cases of clairvoyant delusions regarding the spiritual world, clairvoyance in the invidious sense, and we have also seen that there is no other, or at least no more favourable defence against the delusions of false clairvoyants than a sound power of judgement acquired during our physical life between birth and death.

What has been said in our last lecture is of great significance and of fundamental importance if we are dealing with clairvoyant aberrations, for in the case of clairvoyance not attained through regular training, through systematic exercises under strict and proper direction, but showing itself through old inherited characteristics, in images, or else in hearing of sounds — in the case of such false clairvoyance we shall always find that it diminishes, or even ceases altogether if the person in question finds the opportunity and has the inclination seriously to take up anthroposophical studies, or to take up a training that is rational and normal.

So we can say that a person who has a wrong perception of the super-sensible always finds that the true sources of knowledge, if he is susceptible to them, will invariably prove helpful to him and lead him back to the right path. On the contrary, we all know that if someone through the complexities of karma has arrived at a condition in which he develops symptoms of persecution mania, or megalomania, he will develop a whole system of delusive ideas, all of which he can substantiate most logically but which are nevertheless delusive. It may happen for instance that he thinks quite correctly and logically in every other department of life, but has the fixed idea that he is being pursued everywhere for some reason or another. He will be able, wherever he may be, to form the cleverest combinations out of the most trivial happenings: ‘Here again is that clique whose one and only aim it is to inflict this or that upon me.’ And in the cleverest way he will prove to you how well founded is his suspicion.

Thus a person may be perfectly logical and yet give expression to certain symptoms of madness. It will be quite impossible to impress such a person by logical reasoning. On the contrary, if we make use of logical reasoning in such a case it may well happen that this will challenge the delusive ideas and the victim will try and find even more conclusive proof of the assertion resulting from his persecution mania. When we speak in the terms of Spiritual Science things must be taken literally. If a little while ago, and also the last time, we pointed to the fact that in the knowledge of Spiritual Science we possess an opposing force against any aberration of clairvoyant powers, we were then referring to something entirely different from what we are now discussing. We are not now concerned with influencing the person in question by means of revelations of Spiritual Science. Such a person is not amenable to any reasoning derived from the realm of ordinary common sense. Why should this be so?

In a disease whose symptoms are such as we have described, we have to deal with a karmic cause in previous incarnations. The errors which come from the inner being do not in every case proceed from the present incarnation but from a preceding one. Let us now try to get an idea of how something may be carried from an earlier into the present incarnation.


is a lecture called 'Fantasy as a step towards higher factulties of the soul'.

What must now be done in order that these higher senses may be developed?

For spiritual science, the human being is not only an outer physical body, but for higher vision he also has the otherwise invisible etheric body and the astral body, the bearer of pleasure and suffering. You know what sleep represents for spiritual research. The physical and etheric bodies remain in bed, while the astral body and the I act on the physical body from outside. On awakening, the astral body returns to the physical and etheric body, and the sense world emerges anew. Thus sleep is an emergence of the astral body and the I from the physical body.

How can man hear and see the sense world? With eyes and ears, otherwise the world would be colourless, lightless, soundless. When the astral body leaves the physical body, it is certainly in the spiritual world, but it has no organs. If it had such organs, it could perceive the spiritual environment as it perceives its environment in the physical world.

[First stage]

If Man is to perceive the spiritual world, he must develop spiritual senses. This happens through the methodical training of the soul life.

When the astral body comes out of such a person who has been trained according to spiritual methods, it is in a quite different position from that under ordinary circumstances. It is as if what was previously a chaotic mass in the astral body were subdivided and organs formed. What was formerly a misty, smoky mass becomes beautifully formed. This takes a long time. Since ancient times, this process has been called catharsis, purification or purification. The inside of the human being is then cleansed of drives, desires and passions. This is the first stage.

[Second stage]

This first stage is followed by a second stage. When Man returns in the morning to his physical-etheric shell, the outer organs have the stronger forces, they drown out the fine new tones in the inner organs. These are always present, but weak as long as they are drowned out by the forces of the etheric body in the sense organs.

Later, the human being learns to handle the inner organs so that he also sees the spiritual perceptions in addition to the sense perceptions. This process is called enlightenment or photismos.

see also Initiation exercises#Reference extracts 2

The first step is done with Initiation exercises#Concentration

On enlightenment, see also:


The best way to awaken our clairvoyant forces is to ensure that as much effort is spent on the development of our morality as it is on achieving clairvoyance. It cannot be emphasised enough that building up a moral character is key to the proper unfolding of clairvoyant faculties.


We can observe that people who develop clairvoyant faculties but neglect to refine their moral attributes will display bad habits of character they never, or hardly ever, possessed. Many, for instance, will become great liars, as they start developing their clairvoyance.

It is particularly dangerous for the character of a human being when the faculty of spiritual hearing unfolds: clairvoyance is less dangerous than what we might call clairaudience, or spiritual hearing.



One learns to know that it is possible to attain to a manifestation of the world not merely by means of the external senses, but by means of something super-sensible which lies behind the external physical human body. There are methods — of which we are to speak in the next lecture — by means of which Man can make the spiritual, super-sensible inner being, that which is so often denied to-day, independent of the sensible, external body, so that man, when he is independent of his body lives not in an unconscious condition as in sleep, but perceives the spiritual world around him. Hence modern clairvoyance proves to Man the possibility of living consciously in a higher super-sensible body which fills the ordinary body like a vessel. In spiritual science it is called the etheric body, it lies within our sense body. By means of it we come even today, when we inwardly detach it from the physical sense body, into that condition of perception whereby we become aware of super-sensible facts. We become aware of two kinds of super-sensible facts. First of all, at the beginning of this clairvoyant condition we become aware of the super-sensible when we begin to know that we no longer see by means of our physical body, we no longer hear through our physical body, we no longer think by means of the brain connected with the physical body. Then we still know next to nothing of all the external world — I am telling you just the facts, the more exact proofs of which will only be possible in the next lecture —we know next to nothing of an external world. On the other hand, the first stage of clairvoyance leads us so much the more to a view of our own etheric body; we see a super-sensible body of human nature which underlies it, and we can only express it as something which works and creates like a sort of inner master-builder — which permeates our physical body in a living, active manner. And then we become aware of the following: ..



Here I reach a point that is most important for those who would undergo a spiritual development in their own souls. I want to make every effort to get this point clear. The medieval alchemists used to say .. that gold could be made from all metals, gold in any desired amount, but that one must first have a minute quantity of it. Without that one could not make gold. Whether or not this is true of gold, it is certainly true of clairvoyance.

No man could actually attain clairvoyance if he did not have a tiny amount of it already in his soul. It is generally supposed that men as they are, are not clairvoyant. If that were true they could never become clairvoyant at all, because just as the alchemist thought that one must have a little gold to conjure forth large quantities, so must one already be a little clairvoyant in order to be able to develop and extend it more and more.

Now you may see two alternatives here and ask, “Do you think then that we all are clairvoyant, if only slightly, or, do you think that those of us who are not clairvoyant can never become so?” This is just the point. It is most important to understand that there is really no one among you who does not have this starting-point of clairvoyance, though you may not be conscious of it. All of you have it. None of you is lacking in it. What is this that all possess? It is something not generally regarded or valued as clairvoyance. Let me make a rather crude comparison.

If a pearl is lying in the roadway and a chicken finds it, the chicken does not value the pearl. Most men and women today are chickens in this respect. They do not value the pearl that lies there in full view before them. What they value is something quite different. They value their concepts and ideas, but no one could think abstractly, could have thoughts and ideas, if he were not clairvoyant. In our ordinary thinking the pearl of clairvoyance is contained from the start. Ideas arise in the soul through exactly the same process as what gives rise to its highest powers.

It is immensely important to learn to understand that clairvoyance begins in something common and everyday. We only have to recognize the super-sensible nature of our concepts and ideas. We must realize that these come to us from the super-sensible worlds; only then can we look at the matter rightly.


three forms of clairvoyance: head, heart and stomach

Indeed, we feel, as soon as the threshold of the spiritual world is crossed, that we really enter with the whole of our being into three worlds. And we must not lose sight of the fact that after crossing this threshold, we have distinctly the experience of three worlds. In reality, we already belong to three worlds through the whole formation of our physical body. I might say that the co-operation of three worlds, which are relatively strongly independent of one another, is necessary for this wonderful structure ‘man’ which we encounter in the physical world.

  • And if we consider the formation of our head, the formation of everything that belongs to the head, we must, even if we are merely speaking of the physical head, be clear that the formative forces of our head, and also the beings active and creative in these formative forces, belong to suite another world from that
  • of the formative forces of our breast, for instance, and the formative forces of everything belonging to our heart, inclusive of the arms and hands. It is to a certain extent as if the formative forces of these material parts of man belonged to quite another world than the formative forces of his head.
  • And again, the organs of the lower body and the legs belong to quite another world than the two other members we have named.

Now you can ask: What significance has all this? It has a great significance, for fundamentally speaking, in our present cycle of humanity, one only gets the pure, true and real results from spiritual science if the soul and spirit-nature is raised out of the head. So that this (re diagram) is to some extent the clairvoyant aspect of a man, which, seen from the spiritual-scientific point of view has to be so regarded, that the spirit-soul part is here seen to be especially lifted out, and is at the same time, joined to the forces of the cosmos, as if by a spiritual electric attraction.

Thus all the parts a man — the I and astral body down to the etheric body, must be drawn out. This withdrawal is of course connected with the evolution of the so-called Lotus-flowers. But the forces which set the lotus-flowers in motion lie in this part of the spirit-soul nature of Man which is or can be withdrawn.

  • The clairvoyance thus attained is a head-clairvoyance, and this can be a result of spiritual science in our time, for the revelations of head-clairvoyance are of service to humanity.
  • Of a quite other kind is the clairvoyant results attained by raising the spirit-soul nature of the organ of the heart, arms and hands. This raising or up-lifting of these organs distinguishes itself inwardly and significantly from what takes place through what I might call head-clairvoyance.


  • The up-lifting of the material heart-organ is brought about more through meditation which is related to the life of will; it is effected through humble surrender to the march of events.
  • Whereas head-clairvoyance is effected more through thoughts, but also through ideas having an imaginative character, tinged with feeling.

It is generally the case that with reference to these two kinds of clairvoyance, the heart or breast-clairvoyance develops along with head-clairvoyance in the degree to which it should.

  • Breast-clairvoyance leads more to the development of the will, to a connection with the actions of spiritual beings of the lower hierarchies, such as those incorporated in the various kingdoms of the earth;
  • whereas head-clairvoyance leads more to vision, knowledge, perception in those higher worlds, in the sense that knowledge of these higher powers is necessary for the satisfaction of certain needs of knowledge, which must appear ever more and more in present humanity.

The more we approach the future of our evolution on earth, the less will humanity be able to live, without their soul-life drying up, if they do not receive into their cognition the results of this clairvoyance.

  • Again a third kind of clairvoyance is that which arises, when what we call the spiritual-psychic part of man is loosened, and thus raised out of the rest of his being. Here in the lower part of the diagram I indicate the outward thrusting tendency. Even if the expression is not altogether aesthetic, yet I may perhaps venture to call this kind of clairvoyance, ‘stomach clairvoyance.’ Whereas head-clairvoyance, for our cycle of humanity, leads in the most eminent sense to the attainment of results independent of man, stomach-clairvoyance leads to results connected especially with What transpires in man himself. That which takes place in man himself must naturally also be an object of investigation. In the sphere of physical investigation, there are also men who occupy themselves with anatomy and physiology. We should not think that this stomach-clairvoyance has not a certain value, in the highest sense of the word. It naturally has a value. But one must realize, that stomach clairvoyance can inform man but little of that which occurs impersonally in cosmic events; but that it informs him essentially about what man is, of what goes on - I might say - inside his skin.

With reference to what is moral and ethical, head-clairvoyance is relatively the most important. Hence I must ever speak of its opposites. Between the two stands breast-clairvoyance; between that of the head and of the stomach. As regards what is ethical, these two can be inwardly quite well distinguished. People who strive to come to a perception of higher worlds, in an impersonal way, as indicated in my book 'Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (KHW), those who are not daunted at traveling this uncomfortable but secure path, will develop something impersonal in themselves, with reference to their clairvoyance, above all they will develop a high interest for objective world-knowledge, for what occurs in the world of cosmic and of historical events.

This head-clairvoyance speaks preferably of man himself, especially in that it draws attention to how he is placed within the process of cosmic and historical development, it notes what man himself is in the entirety of this cosmic process: What arises as head-clairvoyance will always have what I must call a universal scientific character; it will contain information which has importance — I beg you to note this word — for all mankind, not merely for one man or another.

Stomach-clairvoyance will be permeated especially with all kinds of human egoism, and will very easily mislead the clairvoyant in question to occupy himself much with the occult bases of his own destiny, of his personal worth and character. This results as a self-understood tendency from what is called stomach-clairvoyance.


continues after 1915-03-27-GA161 on three forms of clairvoyance: head, heart and stomach

[To break the inner mirror]

If man really and truly desired to look into his innermost being, then he would be obliged — I have often used this image — to break the inner mirror.

Our inner being is indeed like a mirror. We gaze on the outer world. Here are the outer sense-perceptions. We link conceptions to them. These conceptions are then reflected by our inner being. By looking into our inner being we get only to this mirror within. We perceive what is reflected by the memory-mirror.

We are just as unable to penetrate into man's inner being with ordinary consciousness as we are to look behind a mirror without breaking it.


lecture titled 'First Steps in Supersensible Perception'

Historical personalities with clairvoyant faculties

The states of clairvoyance of Boehme, Paracelsus and Swedenborg are compared in 1923-08-25-GA227, 1923-08-26-GA227, 1923-09-15-GA228. More on Swedenborg in 1915-09-14-GA253.

Prophecies of Nostradamus and Tycho Brahe are discussed in 1911-11-09-GA061.

Also John, Luke, Matthew, Mark wrote the gospels based on clairvoyant perception. Paul and John had the highest level of intuitive clairvoyance.

Source extracts

for reference


It is said that Homer was a blind seer, but that means that he was clairvoyant. He could look back into the Akashic Record. Homer, the blind seer, was much more seeing in the spiritual sense than were the other Greeks.


That enabled Moses to survey in his memory times long past, to pictorially record the genesis of the Earth, and to read in the Akasha Chronicle.


[Hermes and Moses]

.. To the second disciple Zarathustra transmitted what one might call the power to read the Akasha Chronicle, and this is nothing less than the clairvoyant power of the etheric body enabling the human being to perceive the successive phases of evolution in time.

Thus, one disciple received the ability to perceive simultaneous events, and the other the vision of the Akasha Chronicle to perceive successive events that could lead to an understanding of the evolution of the earth and sun. By imparting these faculties to these disciples, Zarathustra had a profound effect on the continuation of culture in the postAtlantean era.


The other disciple was also reincarnated, and in him everything was meant to be revealed that is presented to the earth in the Akasha Chronicle. Since the etheric body of Zarathustra was to be woven into that of a disciple, a very special event had to take place to make this possible. The forces of the new etheric body somehow had to be illuminated in the disciple for his awakening. The Biblical story relates to us in a beautiful and marvelous way what this special event was. Allow your souls to visualize how it had to unfold.


But Grimm was more than a scholar; he was an imaginative thinker. He is the same [Hermann] Grimm who has given us a Life of Michelangelo and a study on Goethe. Grimm set to work by endeavouring to identify himself with the spirit of Goethe. He put himself the question: Goethe being what he was, how would he have conceived the Nausicaa of the Odyssey? Then, with a certain disregard of the historical records, he reconstructed the poem in the sense of Goethe's ideas.


Empedocles possessed a modern spirit, but at the same time he was initiated in many different mysteries. He was clairvoyant to a high degree.


I will .. mention Vladimir Solovyov, the Russian philosopher and thinker, a real clairvoyant, though he only saw into the spiritual world three times in his life:

  • once when he was a boy of nine,
  • the second time in the British Museum,
  • and the third time in the Egyptian desert under the starry heavens of Egypt.

On these occasions there was revealed to him what can only be seen by clairvoyant vision. He had a prevision of the evolution of humanity.

... there welled up in him what Schelling and Hegel also achieved through sheer spiritual effort. .. When we survey this and work on it with the methods of practical occultism, as has been done recently, in order to make a special investigation into what the purely intellectual thinkers from Hegel to Haeckel have worked out, we can see occult forces at work here too. And a very remarkable thing comes to light: we can speak of pure inspiration in the case of just those people who appear to have least of it. Who inspired all the thinkers who are rooted in pure intellectualism? Who gave the stimulus for this life of thought that speaks out of every book to be found even in the lowliest cottage? Where does all this abstract thought life in Europe come from, that has had such a curious outcome? … If we read Leibniz, Schelling and Solovyov today, and ask ourselves how they have been inspired, we find that it was by the individuality who was born in the place of Suddhodana, ascended from Bodhisattva to Buddha and then continued to work selflessly

1920-01-18-GA 196

When someone today — please take what I am now saying as a really serious matter — has learned to think in a way perfectly adapted to meeting the demands of school examinations, when he acquires habits of thought that enable him to pass academic tests with flying colors — then his reasoning faculty will be so vitiated that even if millions of experiences of the supersensible world were handed to him on a platter, he would see them as little as you could physically see the objects in a dark room; for that which makes men fit to cope with the demands of this materialistic age darkens the space in which the supersensible worlds come toward them

Daskalos on telepathy

HTS Ch 6 and SWCC

Telepathy is simply the projection of an elemental, or the extension of an irradiancy, which will bring to the initiate (who remains within his gross material body) the desired experience. It requires intense practice and concentration so that one may become a master in the creation of powerful and solid elementals that can then be projected anywhere on the planet. To develop telepathy, the chakra that envelops the two eyes is awakened and the so-called third eye, which exists above the root of the nose, opens up.


[1] Clairvoyance comments


In painting see the work by Hieronymus Bosch or modern artists such as Hilma af Klint. Also look into the development of work by Mondriaan, Kandinsky and Picasso.

Rudolf Steiner often takes quotes from Goethe's Faust to point to the supersensible realities they describe, see eg the concept of the Golden Chain.

Similarly it is known that classical composers such as Beethoven or Schubert received music themes by intuition, something one can also observe in improvisation as described by eg Keith Jarrett.


Certain important scientific discoveries are known to have been triggered by visions (awake or in dreams), eg August Kekulé's benzene as the foundation of organic chemistry.

Other aspects

The borderline of consciousness includes experiences such as syncronicity and premonitions. See eg 1909-05-01-GA057 above.

Contemporary societal impact

The contemporary worldview based on mineral science maps to the mainstream state of waking consciousness, and modern mainstream media such as wikipedia therefore categorize all that does not belong in that worldview as pseudo-science or even total nonsensical. Though that may be perfectly consequent, it does not offer appreciation for the higher sensory perception but basically treats it as non-existant. As a consequence, information and sources that do not fit that chosen subset of reality are sometimes treated rather unrespectfully. Similar positions are taken by official instances and governmental institutions representative of and representing the majority of the population. See further: worldview wars.

[2] The subconscious

1912-02-27-GA143 or other translation is about the 'hidden powers of the soul'

We have already mentioned that in the course of the 20th century there will occur in human evolution what may be called a sort of spiritual return of Christ, and that there will be a number of persons who experience this working of Christ from the astral plane into our world in an etheric form. We may acquire knowledge of this event by authentic training, recognizing the trend of evolution, and also that this must come about in the 20th century. It may, however, happen, as it often does at the present time, that individuals here and there are gifted with a natural, primitive, clairvoyance which is, so to speak, a kind of obscure inspiration which we may call a premonition of the approach of Christ.

Perhaps such people might not have accurate knowledge of the matter involved, but even such an important inspiration may arise as a premonition, though in the case of a primitive consciousness it may not retain its premonitory or visionary character. The vision constitutes some sort of picture of a spiritual event. Let us say, for example, that someone has lost a friend whose I has passed through the gate of death. This friend now dwells in the spiritual world, and a kind of bond establishes itself between this person and the one still living in this world. It may be that the person in this world cannot rightly understand what the deceased desires and has a false idea of what is being experienced by the departed. The fact that such a condition exists presents itself in a vision which, as a picture, may be false though founded upon the fact that the dead is really trying to establish a bond with the living, and this gives weight to the presentiment so that the living person who experiences it knows certain things, either about the past or future, which are inaccessible to normal consciousness.

If the human soul acquires, however, a definite perception, not a vision which may, under the circumstances, be false, but a factual perception — an occurrence, let us say, of the sense world, but in this case in a sphere invisible to the physical senses, or an incident in the super-sensible world — it is called in occultism deuteroscopy, or second sight. With all this I have described to you only what takes place although subconsciously, within the human soul, whether developed by correct training or appearing as a natural clairvoyance.

and going into the subconcious happenings

The phenomena enumerated when contrasting the subconscious with the ordinary consciousness, differ considerably from those confined to the conscious mind. The relation of this ordinary consciousness to the underlying causes of its activities has already been described in one aspect by this phrase: the impotence of ordinary consciousness. The eye sees a rose, but this eye, which is so constituted that in our consciousness the image of the rose arises has, like the consciousness itself, no power over the blooming, growth and fading of the rose in spite of its perception and the resultant image. The rose blooms and fades through the activity of the forces of nature and neither the eye nor the consciousness has any control beyond the sphere which is accessible to their perception.

This is not the case regarding subconscious happenings. We must hold fast to this fact, for it is extraordinarily important. When we perceive something through the use of our eyes in normal sight, pictures in color or anything else, we can alter nothing in the objective facts by mere perception. If nothing happens to harm our eyes they remain unchanged by the mere act of seeing; only by crossing the boundary between normal and blinding light do we injure our eyes. Thus it may be said that if we confine ourselves to the facts of the normal consciousness, we do not react upon ourselves. Our organism is so constituted that changes are not ordinarily induced in us by this consciousness.

... [continued]

For more on premonitions, see: Wind of the universe#Premonition

[3] - Translating experiences from other states of consciousness

  • Rudolf Steiner describes how the apostle John (for the Individuality of Christian Rosenkreutz) wrote his two works, the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation, in states of clairvoyance. Especially the Book of Revelation uses images to depicts what was experienced clairvoyantly. In general, one could say the state of Intuition is 'understanding', inspiriation is 'hearing', and 'imagination' is astral 'seeing'. The Book of Revelation is an account of intuition and understanding, conveyed in astral imagery.
  • Similarly, another example given by Rudolf Steiner was Nostradamus who could also conveyed future happenings he could 'see' in images.
  • Walter Russell (1871-1963) also had an experience of illumination in 1921 at age 7x7=49, that lasted 39 days and nights. He experienced such states every seven years, but usually only a few intense hours with an after effect of a week. As a result, he wrote 'Message of the Divine Iliad' in a state of inspiration in 1921 without any changes from start to finish. Afterwards, he spent decades and the rest of his life to convey his cosmogony in various books and teachings (1926, 1947, 1953).
  • Martinus Thomsen (1890-1981), was born into a poor family and with a limited education, but at age 30 has a profound spiritual experience of what he called 'cosmic consciousness'. He spent the next 60 years trying to convey some of his experience, using an own-developed visual graphical language of coloured diagrams. Compare also with the art of Hilma Af Klint (1862-1944)

[4] - Prophecies through the ages

Through the ages prophecies have been recorded:

  • starting with the prophets in the old testament, the Book of Revelation, Nostradamus,
  • and more recent in the twentieth century the likes of Rudolf Steiner and Beinsa Douno.
  • Furthermore people who received the stigmata typically have important visions of the future.
  • and lastly there are also 'simple' men and women, sometimes illiterate, who still had the faculty of clairvoyance (eg Alois Irlmaier (1894-1959))


A large number of 'data points' can be gathered both by mystics of the last few hundred years, as simple mundane people with premonitions and visions of these future events. An example is the future (third) world war and the Three days of darkness

For more authors and sources on the topic, see Further reading section below.

Related pages

References and further reading

On prophecies

  • Albert J Hebert (1913-)
    • Prophecies! The Chastisement and Purification (1986)
    • The Three Days' Darkness: Prophecies of Saints and Seers (1986)
    • The discernment of visionaries and apparitions today (1994)
    • Warnings, Visions, and Messages : from Irish Visionaries today (1998)
  • Robert A. Nelson (from the website rexresearch) published an overview of prophecies through the ages, see Prophecy: a history of the future. The site links through to text of many well known sources about recurrent themes of world history and decisive events in the future development of mankind, such as a great future war (which we now refer to as the third world war), and the three days of darkness.