Transition between 4th and 14th century

From Anthroposophy

Throughout his many lectures, Rudolf Steiner often makes reference to specific points in time of the last millennium: to the 4th century, also to the period of 14-15th century, then to the 8-9th century, and also to specific years such as 869, 1250, 1413.

Schema FMC00.167 below provides an overview of how they relate in the transition of the new age of the consciousness soul, but the transition and handover from the Spirits of Form to the Archai should also be considered in view of:

See also the 1912-06-20-GA133 quote on The two halves of an evolutionary cycle

.. something quite definite will come about during the second half of the period of Earth-evolution into which we have now passed ... towards the end of a planetary age it is always the case that the being of central importance — and on the Earth this is Man — is left free, so that the qualities with which he was originally endowed may pass more freely into his own hands.


  • the concept of the 'cosmic storm' by the first hierarchy H1 in first third of the 15th century (1924-07-28-GA237)

Loss of Logos

Steiner often refers to the 4th century as the ‘loss of Logos’ (see 1921-04-09-GA204) and as the moment that the Spirits of Form (SoF) handed over to the Archai, the SoF being the key hierarchy for the evolution of Mankind on this planet Earth. What happens is a ‘passing-the-baton’ or ‘changing of the guards’ from one hierarchy in development who has ‘done the job’ to the next one starting its next thread of evolution.

Upto the 4th century, the most wise and advanced men still had a level of consciousness in which 'the word' had two aspects:

  • the current ‘word’ concept we still have today when we speak: the abstract conceptual content of the word
  • but also at the same time, the ancient Word concept: ‘the experience of the idea spiritually and full of content’, ‘the resounding of the word (and in it the being of the world) in man’s inner being’

These two were once one integral whole, and between 4th century BC and 4th century AD there was a transition process by which the conceptual content separated. In this period Man's soul experience changed such that humanity slowly moved to an orientation of abstract concepts, ideas .. and a diminuishing dull sensation of the spiritual world (being pushed down into subsconsciousness). Hence humanity was left with abstract thought concepts in current thinking and language.

The implications are far-reaching: ancient communications and writings are now no longer 'readable', that is: the full richness of what was contained has become unaccessible to mankind of today.The Gospels are an example, but also other ancient texts such as the Sefer Yetzirah. When we say that Hebrew and Sanskrit are examples of symbolic languages, we should not interpret that every character or word was a symbol the way we think of it abstractly .. these languages contained the full spiritual reality in the words spoken, due to the type of human consciousness at those times. This gradually disappeared and stopped.

Handover Spirits of Form to Archai

The lecture of 1923-03-16-GA283 painstakingly explains the process of what happened once more, of course differently and (IMHO) clearer:

The evolution of humanity now approached the fourth century A.D. In the super-sensible world, thought brought about an extremely significant event; namely, the Exusiai — the forces or beings of form — gave their thought forces up to the Archai, to the primal forces or primal beginnings. (See diagram above) The primal beginnings, or Archai, took over the task formerly executed by the Exusiai. Such things happen in the super-sensible world. This was a particularly sublime and significant cosmic event.

From that time on, the Exusiai, the form beings, retained only the task of regulating the outer sense perceptions, therefore ruling with the particular cosmic forces over everything existing in the world of colors, tones, and so forth.

Concerning the age that now dawned after the fourth century A.D. a person who can discern these matters must say that he beholds how the world-dominating thoughts are passed on to the Archai, the primal beginnings, how what eyes see and what ears hear, the manifold world phenomena engaged in perpetual metamorphosis, are the tapestry woven by the Exusiai.

They formerly bestowed the thoughts on human beings; they now give human beings their sense impressions, while the primal beginnings bestow the thoughts on human beings.

Such things are prepared in humanity through whole epochs of time and are connected with fundamental changes in human souls. I said that this super-sensible event took place in the fourth century A.D., but this is only an approximation, a mean point in time, as it were.

This transference of a spiritual task took place over a long period of time. It had been prepared already in pre-Christian times and was completed only in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries A.D. The fourth century is just the mean century, which is mentioned so as to pinpoint something definite in the historical development of humanity.

This is also the point of time in humanity's evolution when the view of the super-sensible world began to vanish completely for man. The consciousness of the soul ceased to see supersensibly, to perceive, because this human soul surrendered itself to the earth. You perhaps will understand this more clearly if we shed light on it from yet another angle.

What is really implied here? What am I trying to point out so intensely?

It is the fact that human beings feel themselves more and more in their individuality. As the world of thoughts passes from the form beings to the primal beginnings, from the Exusiai to the Archai, man increasingly senses the thoughts in his own being, because the Archai live one level nearer man than the Exusiai.

In this lecture Steiner goes further than covering the impact on human consciousness experience (which he did in the lectures above), he also goes on to explain the implications on a historical level in Europe which are a reflection of what’s happening in the spiritual reality of the different hierarchies .. appreciating that during each evolutionary process there are – like in a Gauss curve for a normal distribution of properties over a population – some that make it in a ‘normal development’, but there also the ones that evolve slower and those that evolve faster. The non-normally developed then cause complicated dynamics which underlie the very complex plethora of historical events and developments between people.


Schema FMC00.167 provides a two millenia overview of the cultural age of the intellectual soul, with focus on the preparations and overflow into the consciousness soul.

In Rudolf Steiner lectures, key dates come back of the 4th century, the 9th century, the year 1250, and the first part of the 15th century. All these are related as shown in the green and blue bars on top, showing a gradual process centered around the 'kick-in' point of the 4th century, but starting 5 centuries earlier and having its effect until 5 centuries later (darker blue).

This is the period of handover of SoF to archai, the great curtain was now finally let down over the ancient atavistic clairvoyance and old wisdom (see eg old knowledge phase out, upto the School of Chartres).

At the same time it is also a new beginning of a form of new thinking of which Scotus Eriugena was a very early post, which saw its rising with scholasticism, and that really 'hit' the whole of humanity from the 15th century onwards. This gave rise to the new autonomeous thinking by Man, and the development of mineral science. Around 1250 is when the SoF weave the consciousness soul, and in the first third of the 15th century the first hierarchy, in some sort of 'cosmic thunderstorm', 'hard-codes the wiring' into Man's physical system, the sense-nerve subsystem.


The above chart is focused on the transition of the consciousness soul, it does not show the new Michael era starting 1879 and the new form of clairvoyance that appears from 20-21st century onwards (see Christ in the etheric). It also does not show the counter-events of the two Thirty Years Wars, the first from 1618-1648 countering the Rosecrucian impulse, and the second from 1914-1945 to counter the Michael impulse and distort the German-Slavic cultural and spiritual developments.


Schema FMC00.028 illustrates 'the descent of the cosmic intelligence, coming down to Earth' with the BBD drawing and explanation from the Karmic Relationship lecture. Compare timing with Schema FMC00.167.


Schema FMC00.356 illustrates in the most pictorial form the essence of Man becoming free in the second half of Earth evolution. With the transfer from the SoF to the Archai, Man was left free and disconnected on Earth .. but they have to now make the connection again with the spiritual world.

Compare also with for example:

Schema FMC00.013: The above picture of Schema FMC00.167 fits into another of FMC00.013 below that zooms out to the whole Current Postatlantean epoch, also representing the 'lowest' fourth cultural age. It positions well that we are, even after five centuries, still at in the first half of the developing fifth cultural age. The fifth and sixth cultural ages are decisive ( see 1910-GA013 quote on the Current Postatlantean epoch, as well as Schema FMC00.169A on Overlapping evolutionary periods.


Schema FMC00.302 takes an ingoing perspective of the conditions of life and form in which to understand the seven epochs in this CoLF or Condition of Life and Form. See Earth rounds perspective as well as the Schemas on Three dimensions of Evolution.

Also compare this with Overlapping evolutionary periods that goes into the fact we should not see this as strict periods with a start and end, but rather concurrent developments that overlap and flow into one another.

This Schema helps to position the transition between the SoF and Archai.


Lecture coverage and references

Coverage overview

There are three main lectures to initialize one's study of this topic:

  • 1921-04-09-GA204 (loss of Logos)
  • 1923-03-16-GA283 (handover SoF to Archai)
  • 1923-03-17-GA222

A second time he explains this in depth is in March 1923.

impact of transition between the 4th century and the year 1250

  • 4th century: loss of Logos, handover of SoF to Archai
    • see 1923-03-17-GA222, 1923-03-18-GA222 , and 1918-12-28-GA187
    • but also 1922-04-13-GA211, 1924-08-21-GA240
    • and in GA237: 1924-08-08-GA237, 1924-07-28-GA237, 1924-08-01-GA237
  • the year 1250:
    • 1910-12-31-GA126, 1911-06-GA015
  • as well as the importance of the 8-9th century and the year 869
    • 1924-08-27-GA240

1921-GA204 contains several lectures that cover more on the 4th century changes


Indeed, it is true that since the beginning of the fifteenth century we live even more in the resting Godhead than did Scotus Erigena. This Godhead awaits our attainment of Imagination and Inspiration through our own efforts. Then we will be able to recognize the world around us as a spiritual world. We will perceive that we are indeed in a spiritual world that has thrown off the earthly one. This deity awaits our realization that we are living after the end of the world and that we have arrived in the New Jerusalem. It is indeed a strange spiritual destiny for human beings that they dwell in the spiritual world and neither know it nor wish to know it.

1923-03-GA222 starts on 15th century changes with earlier lecture already in L2

The day afterwards he continues on this.

Now as a sidenote, this is a nice illustration how things stand today with regards to Steiner’s lectures. The topic covered and the natural flow is separated books apart in contemporary publishing: the first lecture of 1923-03-16 is in GA283, the second in GA222. Although understandeable, a major problem with the GA/CW (gesamtausgabe/collected works) approach showing that Steiner’s lectures really deserve a digital hypertext medium and not a sequential book publishing approach over 300+ books. Just a suggestion for the person in charge of the CW project.

Lecture extracts


In this lecture Steiner goes further than covering the impact on human consciousness experience, but goes on to explain the implications on a historical level in Europe which are a reflection of what’s happening in the spiritual reality of the different hierarchies .. appreciating that during each evolutionary process there are – like in a Gauss curve for a normal distribution of properties over a population – some that make it in a ‘normal development’, but there also the ones that evolve slower and those that evolve faster. The non-normally developed then cause complicated dynamics which underlie the very complex plethora of historical events and developments between people.

By referring to the 4th century A.D. as a point in world history that we have for some time now recognized as very significant, I tried in the lecture yesterday to show that we can fully understand the evolution of humanity only when we keep in mind not only what takes place openly on the stage of history but also what is going on behind the scenes. I told you yesterday that the 4th century of our era is to be regarded approximately as the middle point of the period during which the Spirits of Form, the Exousiai, were handing over the cosmic thoughts to the Archai, the Primal Powers of Principalities. The process lasted for several hundreds of years. And with this transference is connected the fact — because man has become dependent in his thoughts upon quite different spiritual Beings — that his relation to his thoughts is not at all the same as it was in earlier times.


Now the cleavage cannot be healed by what is today called civilization. It can be healed only an the basis of a spiritual world-outlook sought by way of Anthroposophy.

Man comes to realize the existence of Archai who have now received the task in the cosmos of linking the thoughts of man — which now arise in isolation in the soul — to the world-processes in due arrangement.

In a grand and impressive way man again finds the foundation for the moral world-order.

How does he find it? He could not become free if he were incapable of feeling: You unfold your thoughts out of your own individuality; you are yourself the elaborator of your thoughts.

But this at once implies that we have wrested our thoughts away from the cosmos. In ancient times it was like this:

If I draw the ocean of cosmic thoughts (yellow) and man diagrammatically (red), then I must indicate what passed into each man as his share of the world of cosmic thoughts.

He clung to the world of cosmic thoughts — it came down into him. That this could take place was due to the action of the Spirits of Form.

In the course of evolution this has changed.

We have here the ocean of cosmic thoughts (yellow) but the rulership of it has passed to the Archai.

If I indicate individual men (below, red), their thoughts (editor: yellow) are detached; they are no longer connected with the cosmic thoughts.

This is inevitable, for man could never be a free being if he did not wrest his world of thoughts away from the cosmos. He must wrest his thoughts away in order to become a free being .. but then they must be linked again with the cosmos.

What is necessary, then, is that the rulership of these thoughtswhich are not a direct concern of human life (green) but of the cosmos — should be exercised by the Archai, the Spirits of Personality.

But now, if we turn to the moral aspect of these thoughts we shall say to ourselves:

When we enter the spiritual world — either through the gate of death or in the Earth's future or whenever it may be — when we enter the spiritual world we shall meet the Spirits of Personality, the Archai. We shall then be able to perceive what it has been possible for them to do with our thoughts which, to begin with, for the sake of our freedom were isolated within ourselves. We shall then recognize our worth and dignity as men from what the Spirits of Personality have been able to do with our thoughts. And cosmic thought turns directly into moral sensibility, moral impulsion.

Moral impulsion can arise anywhere today from Anthroposophy if rightly grasped — only it must be grasped by the whole being of man.

If                  we grasp this thought, the thought of responsibility to the normally evolving Archai, if we truly grasp our spiritual function in the cosmos,

then            we shall also find the place that rightly belongs to us in our epoch; we shall be true men of our time.

And then   we shall look in the right way at what, indeed, is forever around us: not a world of sense alone but also a spiritual world. We shall regard the Archai as the spiritual Beings to whom man must be responsible if, as a member of humanity, he is to undergo his evolution rightly in the course of earthly time.

We shall realize that in the present age what was once the necessary world-order is still opposed by all that has remained from those Spirits of Form who are still intent upon ruling over the cosmic thoughts in the old way. And this is the most important concern of civilization in our time.

The deeper talks of man today consist in this: through a right attitude to the Archai, the Spirits of Personality, to become truly free so that he may also adopt the right attitude to the Spirits of Form who today are not within their rights when they strive to exercise rulership over the cosmic thoughts as formerly, but were once the legitimate rulers. On the one hand we shall find what makes life in the world difficult, but we shall also find everywhere ways out of these difficulties. Only we must seek for these ways as free individuals. For if we have no will to achieve a free development of thoughts, what could the Archai possibly make of us?

What is important in our age is that man should have the resolute will to be a free being. In most cases he still does not will it and so has to accommodate himself to the idea. It is still difficult today for a man to wish to be a free being. What would please him most would be to wish what he likes and that the right Spirits would be there to carry out his wishes in an invisible, super-sensible way. Then he would perhaps feel free, feel his dignity as man! We need only wait for one or two incarnations — not such a very long time, until about the year 2800 or 3000 — and then in our next incarnation, when looking back on the earlier one, we should never be able to excuse ourselves if we had confused human freedom with the furtherance of human comfort by indulgent Gods !

Today man does exactly this — he confuses freedom and indulgence of benevolent Gods with his love of ease and his wishes for comfort. There are still many people today who wish that there were benevolent Gods to carry out their wishes without much assistance from themselves. But as I said, we need only wait for the year 2800 or 3000 and in a subsequent incarnation we shall thoroughly despise such an attitude. Today, if we develop a truly moral attitude of mind this must be allied with a certain moral strength, with a genuine desire for freedom — inner freedom in the first place; outer freedom will soon follow in the right form if the will for inner freedom is present. But to this end it is essential to perceive exactly where the unauthorized Spirits of Form are active.

Well, they are active everywhere. I could imagine — the human intellect has such a strongly Luciferic tendency — that there may be people who say: Yes, it would certainly be much more sensible for the divine ordering of the world if these backward Spirits of Form were not causing havoc, indeed if they were not there at all ! I advise individuals who think like this also to consider as sensible people whether they could nourish themselves without at the same time filling their intestines with unpleasant substances. The one process is simply not possible without the other. Similarly it is not possible in the world for the things upon which the greatness and dignity of man depend to exist without their correlates.


discusses the change in soul constitution in pre-Christian times and afterwards

Some time ago I pointed to the objective fact underlying this whole evolution. I pointed out that if we ask what impulses, what forces are active in the evolution of the earth and the evolution of humanity, we learn that certain divine- spiritual Beings are active whom the Bible calls the Creators, the Elohim. (One could just as well take their title from another source.) We call them the Spirits of Form. I have shown, however, from various points of view that these Spirits of Form have to a certain extent — if I may use a trivial expression — finished playing their role on behalf of the most important concerns of mankind, and that other spiritual beings have taken it over.

Anyone with sufficient feeling for this fact that presents itself to supersensible research, namely, that the time- honored Gods, or God, must now be replaced in human consciousness by other impulses, will realize that indeed very much has happened in the evolution of mankind, even during historical times. Such an inner transformation of the whole human consciousness as is now taking place, and which will become more and more apparent, has certainly never occurred within historical times. As you know, I am not inclined to agree with the oft-repeated phrase: we live in a time of transition. I have often remarked that anyone can say of any time that one lives in an age of transition; and if he fancies the notion, he can consider the transition he has in mind the most important in world evolution. That is not the meaning intended in what I have said. Any time is a time of transition, but the important thing is to know what is in transition, what is undergoing metamorphosis. From other points of view other transitions may have been more significant; but for the inner soul-life of man the transition to which I am now referring, directed toward our immediate future, is the one most fraught with meaning of any in historical times.

Now we may ask what really underlies this splitting of the human entity into two-poles: the conceptual life, which has become a mere reflection of images; and the will-life, which has been forced down into realms of unconsciousness where it is asleep? The underlying cause is this, that in the historical evolution of humanity the impulse for freedom is struggling upward in the development of the human being. Even freedom, dear friends, is a product of evolution! Earlier times were not ready to awaken humanity to a real impulse for freedom.

This present time in which we live can be characterized on the one hand as I have just indicated: by the fact that the Spirits of Personality are replacing the Spirits of Form. Subjectively the struggling forth from the human soul of the impulse for freedom accompanies this outer, objective fact of evolution. Whatever course events may be taking externally, however chaotic all outer happenings may become, still at the same time we have in the present and the near future the struggle of the human being, in this very age of the consciousness soul (in which we have been living since the fifteenth century) the struggle of the human being to win through to an experience of the impulse for freedom. An understanding of this impulse is being sought by modern humanity, and will be sought more and more.

But this impulse can only break out of the human soul if the soul is capable of it. In earlier times freedom in its full range was not possible, for the simple reason that before the age of the consciousness soul every impulse was instinctive. Man cannot be free if he can only take into his consciousness what plays in from an instinctively conscious reality. Modern science still reckons on this absence of freedom, on inner necessity, because it is ignorant of the fact that in our consciousness as it is developed today, in the only kind of consciousness that can be developed through modern science, no real impulses can exist. (The contemporary scientific concepts show this reflection-consciousness to the highest degree.) Nothing exists in our consciousness that springs from some reality of our own body, soul, or spirit. Reality exists in it, to be sure — especially if we develop what in my The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity I have called pure thought — but it only exists in reflection. As soon as you find yourself within a reality, you are impelled by it, for reality is something; even if it acts upon you quite feebly, it is an element of necessity, it constrains you, and you must follow it. This is not the case when a reflection works upon your soul, for a reflection contains no activity, no force; it is a mere image that does not urge the soul or compel it. In this age in which the consciousness tends to have reflections, the impulse for freedom can be developed at the same time. By anything else a man would be urged to do something; but when his conscious conceptions are images and nothing but images, which reflect a reality but are not the reality, there is no reality to oppress him. He is able in this age to develop his impulse for freedom. This is a mysterious fact that underlies the life of our present time. That people have become materialists in this age can be traced to their feeling, when they contemplate their inner life, that they find no reality there, only images. And, of course, everything else is sought in the sense-world. It is true that we can find no reality, either spiritual or physical, within our soul; we find only images. This was not always so; it is only true for our age. Our age is suited to develop materialism because it has become nonsensical to say, “I think, therefore I am.” We should say, ‘‘I think, therefore I am not.” That means that my thoughts are only images. In the act of conceiving myself in thinking, I am not, I am only an image. This being-an-image, however, is what gives me the possibility of developing freedom.

This is another fact revealed by outer phenomena to those who survey life, may I say, according to certain leitmotivs; but its truth will only be fully revealed when we again take up initiation science, true spiritual science. You must realize, however, that today whenever people are active in philosophic or scientific pursuits, they are living very much on concepts inherited from an earlier time.

This can be seen very clearly in one of the contrasting phenomena we were considering. You can observe how the secret-society ideas of the English-speaking peoples have spread over the earth; and you will find that in these secret societies what is ancient is emphasized with a certain partiality. The more the age of any rite or dogma in this realm can be played up, the more — pardon the expression — they lick their fingers with pleasure. And when someone wants especially to captivate people with some sort of occult science, he at least announces that it is Rosicrucian, or even Egyptian — but surely old; it must be something or other old. That corresponds pretty well to the fact that in those societies knowledge that has been obtained in the immediate present is not cultivated. (Some direct research is carried on, to be sure, but only according to the rules of ancient, antiquated occult science.) On the contrary, anything such as we do here — spiritual science acquired by working directly out of the impulses of the present — anything of this sort is opposed with might and main. Opposition to anything modern is the fixed tradition of these extreme phenomena. And — leaving aside Goetheanism, which is something entirely new — if one considers thoughtfully the customary, trivial natural science and its mode of conception, one knows that all the real concepts with which it works, even all ideas (not the single laws of nature, but the forms of the laws of nature) are, fundamentally, inherited concepts. The experiments contain something new, the observations also; but the concepts are new in no sense whatever: they are inherited. And when we call the attention of one or another scientist to this fact, they become really indignant, fearfully angry, and they deny this source of their concepts.

Whence, then, comes modern thought that fancies itself so enlightened? My dear friends, it is merely the child of an ancient religion! To be sure, the religious conceptions have been discarded. People no longer believe in Zeus or in Jahve — many not even in Christ — but the mode of thought from the age when Zeus, Jahve, Osiris, Ormuzd, were believed in, the manner of human thinking has remained. It is applied today to oxygen, hydrogen, electrons, ions, Herzian waves; the object makes no difference, the mode of thought is the same. Only through spiritual science can a new kind of thinking be employed for the supersensible world and for this world as well. As I have often said, Goethe provided an elementary beginning in natural science with his morphology, which consequently is also combatted by the antiquated views. With his physics too Goethe created a beginning, but the fruitfulness of that beginning is still hardly recognized. Thus people work with what is left over — which, of course, is comprehensible. For in an age when the consciousness is filled, not with elements of reality, but with only reflected images, it is unable, if it is thrown entirely on its own resources as ordinary, everyday consciousness, to acquire much in the way of content.

On the other hand, how were the religious conceptions acquired? It is childish to suppose that the ancient theologians thought up the contents of the Old Testament, or more recent theologians those of the New Testament, in the way present-day philosophers turn out their inherited concepts. That is a childish way of thinking. What stands in the Old Testament and the New Testament, and in the other religious books of the various peoples, came from supersensible visions, but only from the very ancient supersensible visions. It was all revealed through supersensible knowledge; and as the revelations were accepted from the supersensible world, the thought-forms were accepted too. So that today a good zoologist or a good surgeon is — unconsciously — using the thought-forms, the kind of concepts, that the seer of the Old Testament or New Testament had gained in his way by his own effort. And from the visions he obtained, the seer also developed his mode of forming concepts. Naturally it angers people today when we say to them: Even though you are zoologists, or physiologists, and certainly work in a different field, you are nevertheless using the thought-forms that originated from the visions of the ancient prophets or the evangelists. In the course of the last four hundred years, since the rise of Copernicanism and Galileism, very few new concepts have been acquired, and still less concept-forms of any sort, or trends of thought. The little that has been gained is precisely what provides the foundation for again finding supersensible paths of knowledge — through the real, anthroposophically oriented science of the spirit. Therefore, as early as the eighties of the last century I indicated clearly in my introduction to Goethe's Morphology — and I had the words printed in italics — that I considered Goethe the Kepler and Copernicus of organic science. I intended in this way to point out the path that leads directly into supersensible realms, and that starts from the good elementary foundation which he created. Thus the kind of thoughts that continue to haunt human heads today came from ancient vision, that is, from atavistic supersensible perception. During this entire evolution of human consciousness the Creators of old, the Spirits of Form, were active; they revealed themselves to the supersensible consciousness. Now it is no longer these Spirits who are revealed to one who stands within the modern life of spirit: it is the Spirits of Personality.

You may ask, what is the difference? This is shown precisely in initiation science. The modern spiritual scientist is still someone very strange to the popular consciousness, even to the general scientific consciousness, because the latter contains only a spark of Galileism, Copernicanism and Goetheanism, and even that in very elementary form, for it is still commonly dominated by the mode of thought of the ancient seers. It was the Spirits of Form who had furnished the ancient visions, who then brought to life in man the conceptions that were active in the ancient religions and even in Christianity up to the present time. These Spirits of Form, whom we call Creators, manifested themselves, to begin with, in imaginations that arose in man involuntarily. That was their initial mode of revelation; then out of the imaginations grew the conceptions of all the ancient religions. You know that imagination is the first stage of supersensible knowledge, then comes inspiration, and then intuition. All those who wanted to reach supersensible knowledge in the ancient sense started from imaginations; they had to find their way to the Spirits of Form.

Today the way has to be found to the Spirits of Personality. Here, then, is a tremendous difference. For the Spirits of Personality do not give imaginations to whoever wants them: a man must work them out himself; he must go to meet the Spirits of Personality. It was not necessary to go to meet the Spirits of Form. Formerly a man could be what one may call favored by divine grace, because the Spirits of Form gave him their imaginations in the form of visions. Many still seek this path today, because it is easier — but it is only attainable now in a pathological condition. Mankind has evolved, and what was psychological in earlier times is pathological now. Everything in the nature of visions, everything that depends upon involuntary imaginations, is pathological in our time and pushes a man down below his normal level. What is demanded today of anyone who wishes to push forward to initiation science, or actually to initiate vision, is that he shall develop his imaginations in full consciousness. For the Spirits of Personality will not give him imaginations; he must bring the imaginations to them. And something else occurs today. When you develop, when you elaborate valid imaginations, then you meet the Spirits of Personality on your supersensible path of knowledge, and you find the power to verify your imaginations, to bring them to objectivity for yourself.

The most elementary course for the spiritual researcher today will usually be to seek imaginations from the soundest results of modern knowledge. I have pointed out that modern science is the best preparation for spiritual research, because it offers the possibility of rising to fruitful pictorial concepts, especially if it is carried on in the Goethean sense. Of course anyone can invent images that are merely fantastic; one can patch together all sorts of stuff into arbitrary imaginations. The images one makes must first be verified by the approach of the Spirits of Personality bringing inspirations and intuitions. These are really received from the Spirits of Personality. One knows with certainty that one is in communication with those Spirits, who reveal themselves to present-day humanity from remote depths of spirit; but they will remain unproductive for one unless one brings a language to them. They keep the imaginations for themselves. Earlier, the Spirits of Form placed imaginations before a person who had supersensible vision; but the Spirits of Personality keep them in their possession, and one must come to an understanding with those Spirits — just as one would with another human being with whom one should be having thoughts in common and interchange of these thoughts. One should have free converse in the same way with the Spirits of Personality. The entire inner structure of spiritual life has been changed. The involuntary character which was the basis of the ancient revelations has been transformed into an impulse which is experienced in free activity. Someone who is not superficial, who wants to find out what really can occur, will become aware as he follows world events today (perhaps at first from something quite superficial) that a new world-plan is seeking to be realized, that behind outer events something is trying to take place spiritually. This may be sensed from world- happenings, but thoughts about it are still very vague.

Especially in social life many people may have the feeling that something is trying to be realized, something wills to happen. But if one wishes to understand what it is that wills to occur, he must approach it with something that only he himself can bring to it. What I have indicated as one kind of social impulse that is needed — but only one kind, because it is not a program, but reality — has been learnt in this way. I can say, therefore, that it is not something thought out, or fashioned from some ideal (what is called an ideal today), but it is a conception of something that presses to be realized, and that will be realized. One can only put it into concepts if one has first acquired the ability to form imaginations, and then has had them verified, proved, confirmed by the Spirits of Personality who are weaving the new world-plan.

This present-day development demands of us that we strip away all that is out of date in current science, and really find our way into new thought-forms, so that in them we may reach not antiquated visions, but imaginations built up with all our will, which we may then offer to the objective process of the spiritual world and receive back verified. This is so completely, so radically different from all earlier methods of gaining supersensible knowledge that the numerous individuals who depend upon the earlier methods resist it with all their might. For something is demanded of persons seeking to gain supersensible knowledge, something that is radical, primal, elementary, that intends to penetrate to sources, something that must be reconciled with all that is, consciously or unconsciously, antiquated. That is the reason why the spiritual science presented here attaches so little value to all that is traditional. These traditional things are certainly worthy of respect, but the fact remains that we stand at the turning-point of human evolution; and we must fully recognize that the traditional is obsolete, and that something new must be won. Hence, in a spiritual science that takes today's conditions into account, there can be no thought of faith in the old sense, nor any inclination toward the so-called Master Builder of all worlds. For both pertain only to external consciousness. When one attains a consciousness that is outside the body and outside the course of life, that is really in the spiritual world, then will and conceptions flow together again into one reality. And what was mere architecture, mere form—lifeless forms and lifeless symbols—receives inner life. Empty, obscure faith becomes knowledge, concrete self-transforming knowledge. The two unite and become a living thing. This is what must be experienced by humanity. The ancient symbols and ancient rites must be felt to be out of date. The whole earlier mode of thought must be felt as something antiquated; and the rigid forms in that mode of thought must be given life.

Just think how much use is still made today of those antiquated concepts! Certainly something useful can be done with them in many fields; but humanity would become stiff and paralyzed and withered if our antiquated ideas did not yield to something else, something containing inner life. We can no longer continue to work under the symbol of world-architecture, with rigid forms, traditional symbols, traditional dogmas. Something must bring mankind and the world together, and it must be a spontaneous, living thing.

At the beginning of our Christian era, for example, it was not yet true even of Christianity that its development was founded on something living. I have often called attention to the fact that those who first wrote about Christianity did so from the standpoint of the ancient Egypto-Chaldean science. Even the dates were not historically established. Festival dates, for instance, were determined astrologically, also the dates of the birth and death of Christ Jesus. The whole Apocalypse rests on astrology. The latter was alive in ancient times, but today it is dead, it is simply mathematical reckoning. It will only come to life again when things are comprehended with living insight: when, for instance, the birth-year of Christ Jesus is not figured out by the stars, but is seen with the vision that can be gained today in the way described. With that, things come to life. There is no life today in a calculation that determines whether some star is in opposition or in conjunction with another, and so on; but there is life when the nature of the opposition is experienced, when this is experienced livingly, inwardly — not simply externally through mathematics. In saying this, no particular objection is intended to external mathematics; it can even shed light on many things — darkness on many things, too! — but it has nothing to do with humanity's real, immediate necessity. Nor can these things be perpetuated in the old way; they would bring nothing but aridity and paralysis to the development of mankind. Of course, in judging such things people are influenced by the thought that although they themselves need not become seers — for just healthy commonsense can grasp spiritual science — yet even this kind of thinking can only be acquired with effort, while on the other hand they can easily adopt the ancient traditions and methods, and still more easily believe the church dogmas.

Now we come to a fact that we have treated repeatedly from various points of view: namely, the change that is taking place in the constitution of the human soul. It indicates on the one hand the streaming forth of the revelation of the Spirits of Personality; on the other hand, it indicates the liberation within the depths of men's souls of the impulse for freedom—a fact reflected now so urgently in the great demands mankind is raising. Today's social demands can only be understood if one is able to perceive this evolution in the constitution of the human soul. Call to mind a remark I made yesterday: that people are beginning — at least beginning, I said — to sense their true ego when they come in contact with other people. The man of old understood “Know thou thyself!” in the external world. For supersensible cognition it is different; but the man of ancient times, when speaking of his ego, had something real in the external world, the world in which the human being lives with his ordinary consciousness between birth and death. Modern man has only a reflection of his true ego; but something of his true ego shines into him when he comes in contact with other people. Another person who is connected with him karmically, or in any other way, gives him something real. To express it radically: it is characteristic of human beings of our present age to be inwardly hollow — and we should acknowledge it. If we practice life-retrospection honestly and faithfully, we find that the influences other people have had upon us are much more important than what we ourselves have supposedly acquired. Present-day man, of himself, gains extraordinarily little unless he obtains knowledge from supersensible sources. He need not be clairvoyant. A person is driven to daily social intercourse because actually he is only real in someone else, in his relation to another person. As we approach the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, of which embryonic impulses are now present in Russia, this fact will become so potent that a current axiom will be: No happiness is possible for one individual without the happiness of all — just as a single organ in man can only function if the whole functions. In the future this will be recognized as an axiom simply because it will be a fact of consciousness. We are still far from it — you may make your minds easy! — for a long time to come you will be able to consider your own personal happiness even though it may be built upon much human misery. But that is the direction in which humanity is developing. It is simply a fact, as when a man has a cold he must cough. He finds that unpleasant. Just so, a few thousand years from now, there will be unpleasant soul-conditions aroused when a man wishes as an individual to have any sort of happiness in the world without its being shared by others. This interdependence of mankind is inherent in human evolution, and is making itself felt today in the social demands. This is simply the direction in which the human soul is developing.


Cosmic Intelligence raining down -> spiritual storm 1st H in first third 15th century


descent Cosmic Intelligence into men

Remember that with the 9th century A.D. the great crisis was accomplished: the Cosmic Intelligence came down among earthly men.



[1] - Change in worldview following the new faculty in 14-15th century

Mineral science

Here is described what is underlying the ‘enlightenment’ in the 14-15th century. Not the Age of Enlightenment from our history books, but the change in worldview of how man thinks about his place in the cosmos. This worldview was based on the new consciousness with a focus on the mineral physical, hence the term mineral science used on this site for this worldview. Consider the following names to realize what a revolutionary period and step-change this was for humanity, just the dawn of it for that matter:

  • Gutenberg (1397-1468), Da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Copernicus (1473-1543), Galilei (1564-1642), Kepler (1571-1630)
  • Mercator (1512-1594), Vesalius (1514-1564), Lippershey (1570-1619) en Janssen (1585-1632), Descartes (1596-1650)

A new way of sharing information, a new model of the solar system, new ways to investigate the earth, the human body, the invention of telescope and microscope.

As mentioned this period of about 200 years was the early dawn, and foundation for what was to follow, the likes of Newton (1643-1727), Spinoza (1632-1677), Pascal (1632-1662), and others.

See more: Mineral science#Historical development

Spiritual science

For an overview of an impulse of the 16th century, see: Jacob Boehme#Note .5B1.5D - Historical perspective - waves and counterwaves

to be put in the broader context sketched on Sources of spiritual science#The new age .281400 to 1750.29

Related pages

References and further reading