Third Hierarchy

From Anthroposophy

The Third Hierarchy (in short also H3) is the third triad of spiritual hierarchies consisting of angels, archangels and archai.


for Man
  • Man's bodily principles of Man's higher triad are constituted, woven or carried by an angel (spirit-self or manas), archangel (life-spirit or buddhi, or also Christos - see Schema FMC00.481 ), and archai (spirit-man or atma) (1909-04-21-GA244 - Q&A 188.9)
  • the angels, archangels and archai (H3) bring us from the spiritual world into the physical world, and accompany us through the first three periods of life upto age 21 (1924-05-18-GA236)
    • as Man passes through the life between death and a new birth, on the path of return, when again in the Moon-sphere, H3 approach him
    • The forces of H3 guide and direct human life up to the 21st year, streaming to them from the spiritual spheres Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. In these first three seven year periods of life, the H3 inscribes the demands of karma into the nerves-and-senses or head-system .. so that there is inscribed in his being what he has to do in compensation.
  • also see: What takes place as we sleep#the spiritual hierarchies at work
  • the three meetings and the connection of the third hierarchy with Man's higher triad ('traction and weaving')
  • after death
    • The transformed part of Man's etheric body is transfered to an angelic being and this part is radiated out by the angel for future generations. The experiences gained by the transformation of the astral body, are transferred after death to an archangel, that radiates it again onto other human beings. The developed powers of the I, especially those of strong Individualities, are transferred to a being of the hierarchy of the archai, that then uses these in long ages of time to let new forces descend into humanity. (see: Principle of spiritual economy#1911-12-17-GA109 notes to lecture)
  • archangel (1910-06-09-GA121)
    • beings two stages higher than Man, presently working the transformation of their etheric bodies into life-spirit or buddhi (whereby three modifications in the etheric body can be distinguished)
    • archangels experience a need that the souls of men who are asleep bring them the echo of what is contained in their speech. Human speech is in this way connected, inherently and fundamentally, via the sleeping state, with the hierarchy of the archangels. The archangels are the guiding spirits of folk-languages because they breathe in what the human being, as he sleeps, brings to them from his speech. (1923-04-06-GA224)
    • epistemology or cognition: archangel looks down upon those individuals of the folk belonging to him and which constitute the people, we humans are - with a portion of our inner soul life - their field of perception
      • the archangel look down upon the world which includes the Human ‘I’ as objective truth, only that around that ‘I’ there is still gathered some of that part of the astral, which we human beings know in ourselves as intellectual-soul. .. their vision, which is a spiritual one, is directed to their picture of the world, and they perceive centers therein which are the human I's, around which again is gathered something that appears as a sort of aura. His world consists of an astral field of perception in which there are certain centers or central points which are the human I's.
      • some richer human souls have more inner activity make a greater impression upon him, others with poor soul contents he finds to be lethargic, indolent .. the archangel's picture of the world specialized, and he can make use of the several persons and work for them, by weaving out of his own being that which has to guide the whole people.
      • what Man receives from without, the Archangel receives from within; hence when the individuals belonging to a people appear as centers within him, the Archangel has the feeling that what comes to him thus, does, it is true, arise in his consciousness from within, but it is nevertheless foreign to him.
      • the archangel does not 'see' the human sentient soul or the part of the intellectual soul concerned with external sensory perception, only the part of the intellectual soul and consciousness soul with purely sensefree thinking, art, moral ideals etc.
    • see also Folk souls .. the folk soul archangel experiences his youth and his old age in the rise and fall of the culture of a people
  • archai
    • 'food for archai: "since the middle of Atlantean times the archai have begun living in the higher elements that Man can bring forth out of his I" (1909-06-17-GA107): see Schema FMC00.472: the (horizontal level of the) lowest element of the Archai corresponds to the Human I
in the Four kingdoms of nature and place in the Golden Chain
evolutionary perspective
guidance of people (folks) and cultural ages:
various other

Inspirational quotes

1909-04-21-GA244 - Q&A 188.9

The human being includes something in himself of all hierarchies: Man is really a microcosm in the macrocosm.


Schema FMC00.273 provides an overview of terminology used in various teachings for the spiritual hierarchies.


Schema FMC00.472 illustrates the relationship of Man to the third hierarchy of angels, archangels and archai, and the Spirits of Form. The concept diagram provides links to various processes on other topic pages through the Schema references given.

See oa: Man's bodily principles, Jehovah, Group souls of humanity, Monad, Three meetings, Structure of Man between death and a new birth, Man's transformation and spiritualization

See also variant Schema FMC00.472A on Development of the I


Schema FMC00.473 illustrates how the third hierarchy of spiritual beings has its lower bodily elements in the four elements and can be found in nature (compare with Schema FMC00.142C), but also make up and live in Man's lower bodily members. For the relation of the higher spiritual members in Man see also Schema FMC00.472 on Three meetings.


Schema FMC00.492 illustrates how Man's structure contains substructures developed during the previous planetary stages Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon and the current Earth, corresponding to Man's bodily principles (such as physical, etheric, astral bodies and I) active in the Spectrum of elements and ethers that was created during each stage. The human I uses these structures for the activities of the threefold soul with different levels or conditions of consciousness: for a bridge to human Thinking, Feeling and Willing and the various ethers, see Schema FMC00.245.

However, as Man's constitution consists of the spiritual hierarchies (see also Cosmic Fractal), it is the Third Hierarchy which lives in these bodily structures and soul activities, and they will carry further 'Free Man Creator's contributions through the developments of future worlds.

See more on Seeds for future worlds.


Schema FMC00.132 shows how Man, after death, grows into connection through his own Individuality and 'guiding' angel, with the angel and archangel organism. Man is already connected with the Third hierarchy (H3), see the Three meetings (and schema FMC00.023B that extends the below) as H3 live in Man's 'I' soul activity during incarnation, see Man and the spiritual hierarchies


Lecture coverage and references

1909-04-21-GA244 - Q&A 188.9

The human being has something of the angel in him, when he develops spirit-self.

The human being has something of the archangel in him, when he develops buddhi or life-spirit.

The human being has something of the archai in him, when he develops atma or spirit-man.

Man can experience these three hierarchies in himself.

The higher hierarchies work into these three hierarchies of the angels, archangels, and archai, and when one goes through the appropriate development, one can also experience the highest hierarchies.

The human being includes something in himself of all hierarchies: Man is really a microcosm in the macrocosm.


see extract on: Transition between Earth and Future Jupiter#1915-06-03-GA162

... maps the three parts in Man to the future kingdoms on Future Jupiter:

  • the 'deep sleep consciousness' (like current minerals) Old Saturn-Man part in us, through the archai, to the mineral kingdom on Future Jupiter
    • man, in his deep sleep, gives the archai the material, the means to create intuitions.
  • the 'dull consciousness' (like current plants) Old Sun-Man part in us, through the archangels, to the plant kingdom
    • what man experiences in sleep, the archangels inspire.
  • the 'dreaming-consciousness' (like current animals) Old Moon-Man part in us, through the angels, to the animal kingdom
    • what man dreams, the angels imagine


In his waking condition, man does not grasp the full reality of his inner being. We must be quite clear that what is described as the astral body and the I, do not really come to the consciousness of man by day: in his waking condition there only comes to his consciousness a copy, a mirror-picture of his I and astral body.

If man were conscious in the sleeping condition, that is from going to sleep until waking up, or, let us say, if he became conscious through those exercises which you can find described in my various writings — (which are all at your disposal) — if man could thus become conscious through his sleeping condition, he would experience not a mirror-image, as by day, but the true form of his I and astral body.

But we must quite clearly realise that the true form of the astral body and I appear in such a way to the soul of man when he develops imaginative consciousness, that in the inner experiences during the sleep condition, he experiences in his I and astral body what we call the third hierarchy, the hierarchy of the angels, archangels and archai.

Although throughout the whole of man's waking life he stands in intimate connection with what we must designate as the angels, archangels and archai, he does not experience this consciously during the waking condition; and that constitutes the deception in man's waking condition.

He remains aware only of an abstract I of those shadowy ideas and concepts which fill man's soul, or perhaps of half-dreamy feelings and willings.

This is the essential — that throughout the waking condition man does not progress beyond experiencing this shadowy side of his I and astral body; and that he cannot become conscious that all the time there in working into his I those beings of the third hierarchy to which I have just referred.

But if he were really to wake up in his sleep, if I may use that expression, he would not have external nature around him, but would immediately feel in himself the beings of the angels, archangels and the time-spirits [archai].

  • For instance, if the hierarchy of the angels did not work into our I and astral body, we would never feel ourselves to be individuals. Therefore, just because the hierarchy of the angels work into ourspiritual, psychic nature we feel ourselves to be free persons.
  • Because the hierarchy of the archangels work into us, we can feel ourselves as members of the whole of humanity.
  • And because the beings of the archai, the Spirits of Time, pulsate in our nature, filling it with their Intuition, therefore we feel ourselves as earthly human beings — that means members not only of the present humanity, but of the whole of earthly humanity, from the very start of earthly evolution to the very end of Earth-life. In that way we can feel ourselves as members of the entire earthly humanity. Of course, we only feel it dimly, because we can only dimly sense the influence of these Time-Spirits within us.

add from ch10 - on connecting with H3 between death and a new birth, importance on relation with angel and archangel


(limited extract, read lecture in full - covers 'Establishment of relationship with angels, archangels and archai)

Now something very definite is in prospect for the I and the astral body during earthly life when the human being reaches puberty. Just as in the physical realm man stands on Earth, perceives the kingdoms of nature around him but also gazes out into the expanse of the cosmos and at the stars, thus perceiving what is super-terrestrial and physically manifest, so during sleep do the I and the astral body experience, to begin with in the elemental world, the surrounding elemental kingdoms. But from this elemental world man looks upward and he beholds not merely dead, shining stars; in actual fact he beholds the beings of the higher hierarchies. And he becomes connected with these beings in just such a way as I described yesterday in reference to language. Thus from the time of going to sleep to that of waking, man is in the elemental world, experiencing there what I have described in the lecture-course already mentioned. And from this elemental world he looks out into the expanse of the super-elemental world, becoming aware of angels, archangels and archai.

In this respect, however, there has been an essential change since the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean age, that is to say, since the 15th century A.D. Since then, because Man has been developing the forceful intellectuality which he did not formerly possess, it is no longer as easy as it was previously for him to establish the right relation to the hierarchies between sleeping and waking.

The man who lived before the 15th century — and this applies to all of us in our former earthly lives — was not yet permeated in the waking state by abstract intellectuality. Hence he lived with far greater intensity in his physical body and in his etheric body during his waking hours, and out of these bodies he drew a certain force into sleep; he experienced the elemental world with intensity, together with what he was able to see or to experience in the kingdom of the angels, archangels and archai. In those earlier ages of evolution, man brought with him from his pre-earthly existence something that gave him greater strength than he has today during the hours of sleep. And so, on waking, he could bring from the elemental and super-elemental world experienced in sleep, something that gave him fundamental stability in his etheric and his physical bodies. Until the 15th century man was a self-sufficient being to a greater extent than he is today. Today, through the inheritance he brings from his pre-earthly existence into earthly life he is endowed with enough forces from the spiritual world to grow as a child and to receive the other evolutionary impulses he needs, until the age of puberty. But at the present stage of his evolution he has not enough forces of his own to establish the ego and the astral body rightly in the elemental world during sleep unless during his waking hours he absorbs spiritual knowledge.

The fact simply is that Man today does not receive from the elemental world what in early times he brought with him naturally from the spiritual world and was still of use to him in the elemental world during sleep, even after puberty. This is connected with the fact that he was to become a free being. If, during his childhood, he does not receive knowledge of the spiritual world through teaching and education, he has a feeling of constriction in the elemental world during sleep. And not only does that condition of speech of which I spoke yesterday, take effect, but something quite different happens as well. In the super-elemental sphere Man does indeed experience the archangels although he is unable to make a real connection with them. But he no longer — or at least only very inadequately — experiences the archai.

Since the 15th century it has become characteristic of human evolution itself that in sleep man's I and astral body stretch out eagerly for union with the archai but are unable to reach them and feel a sense of helplessness in regard to them.

The archai, however, are necessary in order that when he wakes man shall plunge with enough intensity into his etheric body. Understand me rightly here. Yesterday I told you that if an individual absorbs no spiritual knowledge, he will be unable to contact the archai during his sleep, although it is vitally necessary that in the sleeping state he should be able to establish as living a relationship with those beings as here on Earth, in the physical condition, he has a living relationship with the Sun. This is extremely important. And it is something which, if things are perceived in the right light, may even be noticed in characteristic historical situations.


.. whereas, comparatively speaking, we can lead a wholesome life if during sleep we establish a certain relationship to the word of the angels and archangels, it is the archai who must help us to bring sleeping and waking life into concord. Physical body and etheric body lead a waking life of their own through the outwardly visible nature-forces in the three kingdoms. Life during sleep proceeds as it should when a man lives in the right way in the elemental kingdoms between going to sleep and waking, and from out of these elemental kingdoms establishes relationship with angels and archangels. But something further is necessary.

Physical body and etheric body must acquire in the waking state a right relationship to the three kingdoms of nature. Sleeping man, that is to say, I and astral body, must acquire a right relationship to the three elemental kingdoms, but also to the kingdom of the angels and archangels. If, however, a man has an appropriate relationship only to these kingdoms, the proper interaction does not take place; there is no right connection between sleeping and waking. In order that the I and the astral body shall emerge from and pass into the physical and etheric bodies in the right way, a man must also establish the proper relationship to the kingdom of the archai.


When you study these periods in human life, you will be able to say: on the spiritual side, the human “I” is subject to any number of influences proceeding from the spiritual world, just as on the physical side it is subject to influences coming from the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. As human beings we stand with our “I” in the midst of what is coming to us in a most complicated way from the cosmos. And this activity which extends spiritually from the cosmos, from the Hierarchies, to man, is also concerned with the shaping of karma during physical life on earth.

It is the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai who bring us from the spiritual world into the physical world, and it is they who mainly accompany us through the first three periods of life. They work most strongly of all upon the nerves-and-senses system. In all the complicated and wonderful development taking place in our sense-life and in our intellectual life up to the age of 21 — in all this, the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai participate.

Countless happenings take place behind the scenes of the ordinary consciousness. And it is precisely in these happenings that the Beings of the higher Hierarchies participate.

Then again from puberty, from about the 14th year onwards, Beings whose forces are stronger than those of the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai, begin to take hold of the rhythmic system. The real task of the Beings of the Third Hierarchy, the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai, is to influence our life of soul. From pre-earthly existence we bring with us into the first three epochs of life such strong forces that the soul is able to work powerfully upon the body. During this period, only the comparatively weaker forces of the Third Hierarchy are required to come to our help.

Now the forces which the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai need in order to guide and direct human life up to the 21st year, stream to them from the spiritual radiations of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. When physical science comes to describe the cosmos, it is extremely naïve. From Saturn, Jupiter and Mars radiate forces of which the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai have the very deepest understanding.

When Man is passing through the life between death and a new birth, he enters, first of all, into the Moon-sphere, where he comes into contact with Beings who were once on earth and who are stern judges of the good and the evil he brings with him. For the time being he must leave behind in the Moon-sphere the evil that is part of him. He cannot bear it into the Sun-sphere.

Then he passes through the Sun-sphere and still farther out into the cosmos. The forces of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn begin to work upon him. He passes through the whole of life between death and a new birth, and only on the path of return, when he has come again into the Moon-sphere, do Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai approach him, saying, as it were: We have learned from Saturn, Jupiter and Mars that thou art crippled. — I have said that the evil must be left behind, but this means that man leaves something of himself behind. He enters as a cripple into the Sun-sphere as well as into the regions beyond. And there the gaze of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars falls upon him.

Truly, my dear friends, this life between death and a new birth is complicated! As soon as we pass through the gate of death, what I have described takes place in the Moon-sphere. Man must leave behind whatever of his being has identified itself with evil. It is as though the physical body were obliged to leave its limbs behind. Because he has identified himself with evil, man enters the Sun-sphere and all the rest of the cosmos in a maimed, mutilated condition, for he has been obliged to leave behind certain parts of his being. And when, having passed through the Sun-sphere, he enters the spheres of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, he feels how Mars, Jupiter and Saturn gaze upon him with the penetrating eye of justice; for as the weavers of cosmic justice they watch him in order to behold how much of his being he may bear upwards. They gaze upon him. Each one of us perceives how much good or evil has become part of us, what we have been able to bear upwards, as well as what is lacking, that is to say, what we were obliged to leave behind; each one of us realises to what extent we are identified with evil, how much is lacking in us. The gaze directed upon us by the Beings of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter makes us realise our imperfections and shortcomings.

When a Man returns again, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars have in the intervening time communicated to the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai what they beheld and experienced when he passed before them with all his imperfections. The Beings of the Third Hierarchy weave this into him, so that there is inscribed in his being what he has to do in compensation. In these first three epochs of life when Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai work upon the human being with particular strength, the demands of karma are inscribed into the nerves-and-senses system, into the head-system.

When the 21st year has been passed (how things are with human beings who die before that age will be explained in later lectures) the karmic demands upon life have already been stamped into a Man. If one is able to read what is there in some human being of 21, one can perceive what karmic demands are inscribed into him; for it is in this period up to the 21st year, that these demands are inscribed. They lie mainly in the hidden, occult foundations of the nerves-and-senses system, in that which spiritually underlies the nerves-and-senses system.

The work of the angels


is the famous lecture with the title: The work of the angel in our astral body, see: What takes place as we sleep#1918-10-09-GA182

Food for archangels


This is one of the, or thé very best, lecture(s) to live oneself into the concept of an archangel.

see in full on: Folk souls#1910-06-09-GA121


covers interaction of astral body with archangels, and of I with archai (elaboration of karma)

quote A

Part of the experience of the Ego during the hours of sleep is as follows: You should really not have gone to such and such a place! Or: It was very good to go there! It was good, too, that some particular thing was done with the arms! Or again: Such and such an action was not good! This is an expression of the element of soul and spirit that is added by the Ego to what it bears outwards from the limbs of man into sleep.

What underlies this? In accordance with the World Order the astral body of man is destined to come into inner contact between sleeping and waking with the Beings described in the book Occult Science as belonging to the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi — the Archangels. The Archangel Beings feel an affinity with what is carried out into sleep as an echo sounding on from human speech. It is something they need, something they long to experience.

I will put it like this. — Just as human beings in their physical life on Earth have to breathe, have to be surrounded with oxygen, and consequently feel oxygen to be something beneficial, so do the Archangeloi, who are connected with the inner nature of the Earth, experience a need that the souls of men who are asleep shall bring to them the echo of what is contained in their speech.

Human speech is in this way connected, inherently and fundamentally, via the sleeping state, with the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi. You will remember what I have said in earlier lecture courses, namely, that the Archangeloi are the Leaders, the Guiding Spirits, of the folk-languages. This is connected with what has now been given. The Archangeloi are the Guiding Spirits of folk-languages because they breathe in what the human being, as he sleeps, brings to them from his speech. And a certain human failing is revealed — it is one that is particularly observable in modern cultural life — when, with his speech, a man does not carry out into sleep the right quality.

There is in the culture of the present day very little of what we call idealism. Our words relate entirely to things of the outer, material world. The voicing of ideals — which presupposes belief in the spiritual, for the ideal is a spiritual thing — is becoming rarer and rarer. Since in their waking life men do not unfold inner enthusiasm for ideals, they speak, in reality, of nothing but what is actually present in the physical world. More and more do their words apply and refer only to things of the physical world.

quote B

We are living in an age when words, as they emerge from the soul, lack the wings of idealism. But if this quality is absent, if, in other words, man is unable in waking life to speak of his ideals as well as of physical things, unable to turn to the ideal which imparts real aim to life and transcends physical existence, if in his daily speech he produces no words to express ideals, so that language itself lacks idealism, then it is exceedingly difficult, during sleep, for the connection — which is so necessary for the human being — to be made with the Archangeloi; in such circumstances no order prevails during sleep in the intercourse which should be established between the human soul and the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi. Yes, it is indeed the case that every night man loses the opportunity, if I may so express it, of union with the Archangel Beings. And it is difficult for him, then, to have the inner connection with the spiritual world which enables his life between death and a new birth to be full of strong and vital experiences. The life of a man between death and a new birth is weakened when no idealism is expressed in his speech. To understand these things constitutes an integral part of the knowledge of life.

quote C - archai

We are confronted with something even more striking when we observe the I in the sleeping state. The I carries out into sleep satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the activities of the limbs. Just as the astral body, as a result of the after-working of speech, is carried towards the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, so is the I carried towards the Hierarchy of the Archai by virtue of what it takes out into the sleeping state as an echo of what has been performed by arms and legs in the daily round of life. From these Archai, the power flows to us, firstly, so to permeate the physical body that we do not only desire the Good, but are also able to exercise upon the urges and instincts of the physical body the measure of control which ensures that the physical body shall present no insuperable obstacle to the fulfilment of the duty or aim we have set ourselves in freedom of thought. In our thoughts we are free beings; but the power to use the freedom in actual life arises only when we carry out into sleep the basis for a true connection with the Archai. How can this be done?

Idealism brings the astral body into right connection with the Archangeloi.

And what enables the I to be united with the Archai?

Although we ourselves, to begin with, are unconscious during sleep, the Being from the Hierarchy of the Archai is fully conscious, receives what is unconscious in us and elaborates it into a definite thought of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what we have done during the day.

But what is it that enables us to be connected rightly with these Archai, in the same way as idealism in speech leads us into right connection with Archangeloi?

One quality alone brings the I, during sleep, into right connection with the Archai, namely true human love, universal and unselfish love for human beings, sincere interest in every fellow man with whom life brings us into contact. I do not mean sympathy or antipathy, which are merely the outcome of something we are not willing to overcome. True and genuine love for human beings during the waking state leads us, during sleep, to the bosom of the Archai. And there, while the I is resting in the bosom of these Beings, karma or destiny is shaped. A verdict is passed: ‘I am satisfied with what I have performed with my arms and legs.’ And out of the satisfaction or dissatisfaction is born a power that not only plays a part in the period immediately following death, but continues on to the next earthly life — the power to shape destiny aright, so that true balance and adjustment are brought about in all those things which in one earthly life we have experienced in the I during sleep, in communion with the Archai.


title: Archangels and the Living Source of Speech

Within language lives the Genius of language. Language is not dependent for its evolution on the decision of man. In language lives the Genius of language. And the Genius of Language belongs to the hierarchy of the Archangels. When man speaks — when, that is, an atmosphere is prepared around the Earth within which can live man's utterances articulated into speech, then that atmosphere of speech and language is the element of the Archangels. Hence are the Archangels the Spirits of the different peoples — the Folk Spirits as we call them. The evolution of language on Earth has thus a deep and intimate connection with the evolution of the Archangels. We can go so far as to say that in the evolution of speech and language we are beholding the evolution of the Archangels themselves. For even when we are studying something that has to do with the Earth, it is by no means impossible in the course of that very study to come to a knowledge of the evolution of higher spiritual Beings. We need only learn how to relate particular facts and phenomena to particular higher spiritual Beings, and we can arrive at a clear perception of how the continuous evolution of the Archangels is expressed and revealed in the changes that are to be observed in man's faculty of speech.

Food for archai

the key section (also for FMC) .. 1909-06-17-GA107 .. talks about the truth, beauty and the good

note what is said here, the contribution of the I does not perish but adds something, links directly to the other key reference 1908-01-27-GA102, these two belong together


explains how human beings represent like the manifold bodies of the archai (a bit like group souls of animals, or ants or bee communities) who donot die and incarnate but morph into a new body with consecutive cultural ages.


quote A - seeds for future worlds

Since the middle of Atlantean times the archai have begun living in the higher elements that Man can bring forth out of his I.

What are these higher elements man produces from out of his I? They are of three kinds.

  • First, what we call thinking in accordance with law, our logical thinking. This is something that man adds to things. If man does not merely look at the external world or merely observe it, or merely chase after the thief to find him, but observes in such a way that he sees the law inherent in the observation........ then man is living in logic, pure logic. This logic is something that is *added* to things by man. When man devotes himself to this pure logic, the I creates something beyond itself.
  • Secondly, the I creates beyond itself when it develops pleasure or displeasure in the beautiful, the exalted, the humorous, the comic; in short, in everything that man himself produces. Let us say you see something in the world that strikes you as silly, and you laugh at it. This laughter has nothing whatever to do with your karma. A stupid person might come along, and the very thing you are laughing at could strike him as clever. That is something that arises out of yourself in that particular situation. Or, let us say, you see people attacking a brave man who for a time holds his own but eventually comes to a tragic end. What you witness was determined by karma, but the feeling of tragedy you have about it is something new.

Though necessity is the first thing, pleasure and displeasure are the second, and

  • the third is the way you feel the urge to act under the influences of relationships. Even the way you feel compelled to act is not determined solely by karma, but by your relationship to the matter. Supposing two people are on the one hand so situated with regard to their relationship with one another that they are karmically destined to pay off something together, but at the same time one is further advanced in his development than the other. The more advanced one will pay up, the other will hold it back for later payment. The one will develop kindness of heart, the other's feelings will not be touched. That is something new coming into evolution. You must not look on everything as determined, rather it depends on whether or not we allow our actions to be guided by the laws of justice and fairness. New things are constantly being added to our morality, to the way we do our duty and to our moral judgment. Particularly in our moral judgment there lies the third element by means of which man goes beyond himself and then advances further and further.

The I puts this into our world, and what is thus put into the world does not perish. What men have introduced into the world from epoch to epoch, from age to age, as the result of logical thought, aesthetic judgment or the fulfillment of duty, forms a continuous stream, and provides the substance in which, in their phase of evolution, the archai take up their abode ..

... The archai are going through their evolution in the super-sensible world just as the human race is going through its evolution in the sense world. But all that the human race develops of a super-sensible nature is food and drink for these archai, and they benefit from it.

quote B - food for archai

New things are constantly being added to our morality, to the way we do our duty and to our moral judgment. Particularly in our moral judgment there lies the third element by means of which man goes beyond himself and then advances further and further. The I puts this into our world, and what is thus put into the world does not perish. What men have introduced into the world from epoch to epoch, from age to age, as the result of logical thought, aesthetic judgment or the fulfillment of duty, forms a continuous stream, and provides the substance in which, in their phase of evolution, the archai take up their abode.

That is the way you live and evolve. And whilst you are evolving, the spirits of personality look down upon you, asking continually:

Will you give me something, too, that I can use for my development?

And the more Man develops his thought content, his treasures of thought, the more he tries to refine his aesthetic judgment, and carry out his duty beyond the requirements of karma, the more nourishment there is for the spirits of personality; the more we offer up to them, the more substantial these Archai become.

What do these Archai represent?

Something which from the point of view of our human world conception we call an abstraction: the spirit of the age. To anthroposophists this spirit of the age is a real being. The spirits of the age, who are actually the archai, move through the ages. When we look back into ancient times, the Indian, Persian, Chaldean-Babylonian, Greco-Latin times and right into our own time, we find that apart from the nations and apart from all the other differences among men, what we call the spirit of the age is always changing. People thought and felt quite differently five thousand years ago than they did three thousand years ago and from the way they do today. And it is the spirits of the age or, according to spiritual science, the archai who change. These archai are going through their evolution in the super-sensible world just as the human race is going through its evolution in the sense world.

But all that the human race develops of a super-sensible nature is food and drink for these Archai, and they benefit from it. If there were an age in which men were to spend their lives without developing any treasures of thought, without pleasure or displeasure, nor any feeling for duty beyond the limits of karma — in such an age the archai would have no nourishment and they would become emaciated. Such is our connection with the beings who are invisibly interwoven with our life.

As I told you, man adds something new to development, creates as it were something out of nothingness in addition to involution and evolution. He could not create anything out of nothingness, however, had he not previously received the causes into which he has placed himself as in a vehicle. This vehicle was given him during the Old Saturn evolution, and bit by bit he is discarding it and developing on into the future. He had to receive the foundation for this, however, and if the gods had not provided this foundation for him in the first place, he would not have been able to perform any action that can be created out of nothingness. That relationships in the surrounding world affect us in such a way that they really help our further development is due to this laying of a good foundation.


maybe the most impressive statement comes from fifth gospel lecture: about human thoughts and 'soul food for the archai' (SWCC)

Let us take thought and what we as humans think. These thoughts are in our consciousness, but not merely there. At the same time they are in the consciousness of the angels. But whereas we may have one thought, all our thoughts are the angels' thoughts. The angels think our consciousness. ... We know in general that we are thinking, but we see ourselves [doing it] in the consciousness of the beings of the next higher hierarchy. We let the angels think our thoughts. We must realize that we are not conducting our thoughts, but that the beings of the next hierarchy are conducting them. .. We must feel the interweaving, undulating consciousness of the angels. ... Whereas in ordinary life we think that we think our thoughts, through practice we realize that the thoughts think in us, because the angels think in us. ..

.. Those things related to the cultural ages of Earth's evolution are thought by the archangels. .. and continuing with practice we arrive at the feeling that we are brought to various regions of the world by the archangels and thus learn about those regions. To correctly describe the [ancient] Indian or Egyptian cultures one must understand the meaning of: “Your soul has been brought to this or that time by an archangel”.

.. individual experiences of the soul can only be investigated if the soul gives meaning to the words: The soul delivers itself as food to the archai, the spirits of personality. ... one cannot investigate such concrete facts as the life of Jesus of Nazareth before one gives meaning to the words: One is eaten as spiritual food and thus serves the archai. Obviously this sounds like madness to people who live in the outer world. Of course it does! Nevertheless it is just as true as the piece of bread that enters our stomachs becomes our food, and if it could think it would know that its existence has meaning and purpose in that we make it our food. It is just as true that we humans have the purpose of serving the archai as food. While we walk around here on Earth we are at the same time beings who are continually consumed, eaten by the archai. You will not deny that people in ordinary life don't know this, and that they would call it madness if someone told them something like this. Man is for the Archai what a grain of wheat is for you as a physical human being.

Therefore know:

  • I am the archai's food, I am digested by the archai; that is their life, which I live in them.
  • Just as what it means to enter the consciousness of the archangels when one knows: Your soul is brought to this or that age by the archangels; and
  • what it means to enter the consciousness of the angels when one knows: My thoughts are thought by the angels.

describes retarded archai as opponents of Christ


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Rudolf Meyer: 'Der Mensch und sein Engel' (1943)
  • Hella Krause-Zimmer: Warum haben Engel Flügel? (Der Engel als Bild und Begegnung) (1993)
  • Hans Werner Schroeder: 'Mensch und Engel, die Wirklichkeit der Hierarchien' (1979, in FR as 'l’Homme et les anges' (2010), in NL as De hemelse hiërarchieën : rangorde en verscheidenheid (1983))
  • Flensburger Hefte Nr. 23: Engel