Manifestation of the Hierarchies in the Elements of Nature.
This teaching opens a vista into the future and reveals that our integral Self is incarnated in successive ages in different races and peoples. When we contemplate the destiny of our integral Self we may be sure that we shall share not only the positive or perhaps also the negative aspects of all races and peoples; but we may be sure that in our inmost being we shall also receive the countless blessings of all races and all peoples since we are incarnated in different races at different times.
Our consciousness, our horizon, is enlarged through these ideas of karma and reincarnation. Only through these teachings therefore do we learn to accept what is revealed to us at the present time concerning the mysterious relations of race and nation. If we rightly understand the theme of these lectures we shall harbour no regrets at having incarnated in a particular people or race. But an objective survey of national and racial characteristics may, nonetheless, provoke dissension and disharmony unless it is accepted in the spirit 1 have already suggested. The aspirant for spiritual knowledge will learn through the teachings of karma and reincarnation how every nation, even the smallest nation, has to contribute its share towards the total evolution of humanity.
In the second part of this lecturecourse I propose to show - and herein lies its real importance - how the particular influences of the missions of the several peoples are merged in the whole of humanity and how even isolated ethnic groups which are scattered here and there amongst larger national groups have their part to play in the great harmony of human evolution. This, however, will only become apparent to us step by step.
In order to acquire a full understanding of the characteristics of the individual Folk Souls we shall have to select examples which are clearer to us in certain respects than the folk characteristics of our own times. On the other hand, we shall perhaps have to deal with folk characteristics which belong to a more distant epoch, in order to have a yard-stick for determining the characteristics and tasks of the different nations. But this will be nothing more than a general outline of the racial or folk characteristics.
In the course of the last lectures we have learned that a race is the product of the cooperative activity of a normal and abnormal Spirit of Form, and a people the product of a normal and abnormal Archangel; and we now understand how the Beings of the spiritual Hierarchies intervene in evolution. The question now arises; how do the Beings of a higher order work into the external world?
It would be as well to begin by acquiring today an understanding of the Hierarchies of which man is the lowest member. You will recall that we placed man on the lowest rung of the Hierarchical ladder. Below him are the three kingdoms of nature, the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. Above him are the Angels, the Archangels and the Archai or First Beginnings. This is the Hierarchy immediately above man-the third Hierarchy. The second Hierarchy is as follows:
- Spirits of Form - Powers (Exusiai)
Then we have the highest of the three Hierarchies-the first Hierarchy:
- Spirits of Will - Thrones
Since all spiritual Beings manifest in some form or other and are to be found therefore in the phenomenal world, the realm of Maya or illusion, we must ask ourselves where we must look for them at the lowest stage of manifestation, at the stage of illusion. In his normal perception of Nature and the Spirit man knows only the realm of Maya, the most external manifestation of these spiritual Beings. I propose to illustrate this by means of an example.
Let us suppose a person is travelling on foot over the bare, rugged landscape of Norway. His first impression will be of a rocky expanse spread out before him. He will describe this solid rock formation in terms of his first impression, namely as hard "rocky substance". But he who penetrates into the being of natural pnenomena has a totally different conception of this "rocky substance". What is the real nature of that upon which we stand and which offers resistance? The external surface of the Earth which man believes to have a real existence does not exist at all, it is an illusion. In reality spiritual forces are at work radiating from below, from within the Earth; they emanate from certain Beings.
Thus in a particular locality we see a manifestation of forces emanating from the Earth and raying outward in all directions. But if these forces alone were present, clearly man would not have solid ground under his feet, for of themselves they would project him with maximum velocity into space. He owes his ability to stand on solid ground to the circumstance that other forces stream in from all sides from universal space. Where the forces streaming in from the Universe encounter the forces raying outward from within the Earth there arises, so to speak, a frontier or boundary which is the apparent surface of the Earth. The surface one sees, therefore, is only an illusion; it is a result of the activity of the in-streaming and outward streaming forces which neutralize each other at the apparent surface in question.
The forces raying outward in all directions are the forces of the Thrones, the Spirits of Will. The forces streaming in from the Universe are essentially the forces that proceed from the Spirits of Movement. Thus these two forces meet at this frontier and this interplay of the Thrones with the Spirits of Movement-since the activity of the Thrones is neutralized by the Spirits of Movement-produces the diversified contours of the Earth's surface. What is seen externally as the Earth's surface is wholly unreal; it is simply illusion. In reality it is the product of a balance of forces; an agreement, as it were, is concluded between the Spirits of Will and the Spirits of Movement as a consequence of which the Earth assumes its highly diversified configurations.
Nevertheless through this interplay alone our Earth could not arrive at its present planetary form. The forces of the Spirits of Will and the Spirits of Movement acting and reacting upon each other would not be sufficient for this; the resultant effect would be something totally different. If, for example, only the Spirits of Will were to ray outwards from within the Earth and were opposed by the Spirits of Movement alone, then the Earth would be in a continual state of flux, the ever moving forms could not be brought to rest. In that event, it is true, it would not be as fluid as the ocean in its present state; it would not be of a liquid consistency like water that is ruffled at the slightest breath of wind, but of a viscous, semi-fluid consistency.
If you wish to form an idea of how the Spirits of Will and the Spirits
of Movement originally worked in concert, I would like to give you an example
and would ask you to follow me on the sketch. In the first place let me
draw your attention to the Alps which today form a solid mountain chain
so that the solid barrier of the Alpine Massif divides the Italian peninsula
in the South from the rest of Europe. How is one to account for this Alpine
chain? There was a time in the far distant past when the Alpine Massif
did not as yet exist, but to the North and West there were already older
eminencies which at that time had already become solidified. Waves of semi-fluid
consistency were then thrown up from the South. We may picture the situation
somewhat as follows:
Here at A we have the Bohemian Plateau. Now imagine a huge wave thrown up from the South which divided and spilled over the Bohemian Plateau on the right (to the East) and over the central plateau of France on the left (to the West). In primeval times this mighty wave formed the Alpine Massif. It is possible to arrive at this conclusion without specialist knowledge. Anyone who has once stood on the summit of one of the Alpine peaks and surveyed the unique configuration of the Alpine chain has observed - even if he were unaware of it - what Spiritual Science has long established and which even the presentday geologists have confirmed-that peculiar wave-like formation which dates from the time when the primeval mass of the Earth was still in a semi-fluid condition.
Such would be the configuration of the Earth today through the cooperation of the Spirits of Will and the Spirits of Movement but for the intervention of another activity which is remarkably persistent and which is manifested on the surface of our Earth by the interweaving of the activity of the Spirits of Form with the Spirits of Will (the Thrones) who work in conjunction with the Spirits of Movement. You may picture therefore that these Spirits of Form, dancing as it were upon the waves, brought the ever-moving forms to rest and moulded them into form. We can therefore point to the cooperative activity on the part of three different forces which proceed from three kinds of Beings.
On the one hand we see the activity of the Spirits of Form who work inward from the cosmic sphere and unfold their activity in the realms of the Spirits of Will below them as well as in that of the Spirits of Movement above them. That which on our Earth appears externally for the most part as a fluid element - not the liquid water we see around us today, but the primal semi-fluid element which was brought to rest by the Spirits of Form - this we must look upon as the most external manifestation of the Spirits of Will. But another element is always associated with this activity. The Spirits of Will (or Thrones) are assisted by the Cherubim or Seraphim. The Cherubim work in the air element, in everything aeriform which permeates the apparent solid substance of the Earth. Air is an illusion behind which stand the mighty Beings we call Cherubim. The Seraphim work in fire, they operate in whatsoever manifests as heat.
Thus we see how the radiations from the centre influence our Earth planet. Our planet therefore is so constituted that the Spirits of Will (or Thrones), the Seraphim and the Cherubim work from the centre. We must look upon our planet in this way: at the meeting-place of the boundaries of air and heat or warmth - for the atmosphere is just as much part of our planet as the water or dry land - a surface is formed. Upon this surface the Spirits of Form literally dance upon the waves and bring them to rest and mould them into form. It was for this reason that they were given their name. Behind them are the Spirits of Movement and in their element again is mingled what we called the Spirits of Wisdom.
When therefore we look inward towards the centre of our planet we are aware of the presence of Divine Beings, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. When we look outward we perceive first of all beyond the realm of the Spirits of Form who permeate the air and heat with their element, the Spirits of Movement and the Spirits of Wisdom. When we gaze out into the periphery of the Earth, when we lift our eyes to the Cosmic Spheres, all the nature-forces and natural phenomena we encounter there are fundamentally the work of the second Hierarchy. Everything we see when we look into the depths of the Earth we ascribe to the Beings of the first (highest) Hierarchy. It is to the unique cooperative activity of these two Hierarchies that we owe the configuration of our environment.
We have stated that the three elements, water, air and fire are related to the Spirits of Will, the Cherubim and Seraphim. In which of these elements do the Spirits of Form manifest themselves?
They are the Beings nearest to us and they "dance upon" the surface of the Earth where we live and have our being. They work inward from universal space, but now unfold their forces in the emanations issuing from the Earth. To us they are concentrated in the rays of the Sun. Light, therefore, is the element in which the Spirits of Form first weave and work. Since, however, the activities of light and everything related thereunto manifest themselves at the frontier where the Spirits of Movement and Spirits of Will work in concert, it is at this meeting-place that solid forms are created.
Man has, at first, no organs which would enable him to see what lies
beyond these forces of light which we call the Spirits of Form, no organs
with which to preceive that which is woven into the light. Everything which
on our Earth determines creation and destruction, all the chemical forces
active in the Earth, is still interwoven with light and this is principally
the domain in which the Spirits of Movement operate. When man learns to
perceive something of that which he otherwise looks upon simply as Maya,
in the action of chemical synthesis and analysis, then he hears these Spirits
ofMovement, he perceives the Music of the Spheres of which the Pythagorean
and other occult schools speak. That too is what Goethe describes when
he speaks of the Sun, not as the giver of light, but when he says:
The Sun, in ancient guise, competing
The last of the Beings of the Second Hierarchy are the Spirits of Wisdom, who work from the surrounding Cosmos into the weaving light and into the Music of the Spheres operating throughout the Universe. That is the Life of the universal Ether, raying in on to the Earth. For Life is pouring in on to the Earth from cosmic spaces and is received by living creatures here on Earth. It comes from the Spirits of Wisdom.
Thus we gaze out into cosmic spaces and perceive first of all the Sun in which these threefold forces are concentrated for our spiritual vision. We perceive how instreaming Life, weaving Sound, formative Light, the trinity of the second Hierarchy, are working in from universal space. The highest of the Hierarchies, the Seraphim, the Cherubim and the Thrones, work upwards from below, from the centre of the Earth. The third Hierarchy (the Hierarchy immediately above man) is interwoven with all terrestrial activity and works chiefly in the inner being of organic life. To this Hierarchy belong, in the first place, the Archai acting as the Time Spirits. These Time Spirits work in the material prepared for them by the higher Hierarchies; they lay the foundation of what we call the history of mankind, the evolution of civilization on Earth. Then in our immediate environment we find the Archangels, the tribal Folk Spirits, and finally the Angels who mediate between the individual human beings and the Archangels.
To sum up, therefore: In the forces of Nature upon our planet, in earth, water, air and fire are the Beings of the first or highest Hierarchy who stream forth to meet the activity of the Spirits of Form working in from the cosmic sphere. From outside, the Beings of the second Hierarchy stream in, and in the environment of the Earth are the Beings of the third Hierarchy who, for the moment, are the weakest of the forces. just imagine for a moment how powerful are the forces of those exalted Beings whom we call the Spirits of Will, who fashion the very ground under our feet. Then we have those forces which stream in from outside, the Spirits of Form who are nearest to us, and who mould the contours of the Earth in their plastic state. And finally we have Angels, Archangels and Archai who work more intimately into human souls. And so in the first (highest) Hierarchy we have those forces of Nature which we recognize as the strongest - the Nature-forces emanating from the centre of the Earth, the forces of the solid Earth beneath us. In the second Hierarchy we have the cosmic forces which live and weave around us in the ether and in the third Hierarchy we have that which lives and weaves in the inner recesses of our soul.
If we observe the cooperative activity of these three Hierarchies and see how they operate in our Earth planet, how they form it out of the totality of the Universe, then we have some indication of what was necessary in order to create our Earth. The Earth had to pass through the planetary epochs of Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon before it could become our present Earth.
If you refer to my books Cosmic Memory and Occult Science you will find that, even during the earlier incarnations of our Earth. these various spiritual Beings worked together, but that the nature of this cooperative activity was different from that of today. With each new incarnation in the Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth states the cooperative activity of those Hierarchical Beings assumed a different form because in each of these planetary epochs of the Earth the Hierarchical Beings had their specific task to fulfil. We may confidently affirm that each of the conditions through which our Earth has passed and those which still lie before it, represent, and have represented, a particular stage in the process of cosmic evolution.
Since all conceptions change from one planetary condition to another it is extremely difficult to define what were the tasks of the Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon epochs. This is not easy because we must first characterize the mission of our Earth in a very general way. The simplest way to conceive of it is to call to mind the nature of the various forces which manifest themselves in space. Man's inner life consists of thinking, feeling and willing; his outer vehicles consist of the physical body, etheric body and astral body. So that if we take a man of the present day and ignore for the moment his ego, we can envisage him as a tapestry consisting of the physical, etheric and astral bodies into which are woven-as into an outer envelopethinking, feeling and willing.
Now these forces in man, both in the outer and the inner man, are always related to some earlier mission which was connected with a former incarnation of the Earth. If, for example, we wish to form an approximate idea of the Saturn mission, we may think of it as being related, on the one hand, to the human physical body and, on the other, to the human will. Now if there had been no Saturn incarnation of our Earth, neither the life of will in man, nor his physical body could have attained their present form. A man owes his physical body and life of will to Old Saturn. He is indebted to the Akashic Records for this knowledge. The after-effects of each Earth incarnation, however, are reflected in the forms of the succeeding incarnations. Hence the life of will as we know it today can be traced back to the after-effects of the Saturn element. Consequently the Saturn element is reflected in the inner life of man as will.
You will have an idea of the mission of the Old Sun epoch if you study the etheric body and also the later development of the sentient life. You already know that the etheric body can be traced back to the Old Sun. The after-effects however are such that man was able to develop later the inner life of feeling.
Finally, we find that the Old Moon condition was related to the astral body of man and the inner life of thought. Thus three successive incarnations of the Earth were necessary in order that these forces of the inner and outer manphysical body, etheric body and astral body; thinking, feeling and willing - could so develop that they are now an integral part of his physical and spiritual life. In order that the task of the three successive incarnations or planetary epochs of our Earth could be fulfilled and that man could be endowed with his present constitutional make-up, those Beings whom we have described as belonging to the Hierarchies were obliged to work together in each of these planetary epochs in a way appropriate to each Earth incarnation.
The mission of Old Saturn therefore had to be fulfilled, otherwise man's physical body and the life of will could not have been bestowed upon him. To the Old Sun he owed his etheric body and sentient life, and finally to the Old Moon he owed the astral body and the power of thought. Thus, each of the three preceding incarnations of our Earth were especially devoted to one of the salient aspects of our individual being, our 'I'. In effect the external physical body which stems from the activity of the Spiritual Beings of Old Saturn, from the Spirits of Will, is simply Will that is externalized. Today the will is an expression of the inner life. These words are carefully chosen; they are no flight of fancy, but fit the facts completely. You can learn much from them.
The Earth passed through the Old Sun epoch in order, on the one hand, to lay the foundation of the etheric body through the influence of the Spirits of Wisdom, and, on the other hand, through the continued operation of the element of wisdom, to endow us inwardly with Feeling, the inner element of Wisdom. The mission of Old Moon is associated with the astral body and the inner life of Thought.
The problem which now confronts us is this: what particular mission has been chosen by the Spirits of Form who work chiefly on the Earth and fashion it?
Now the task before the Spirits of Will or Thrones who worked chiefly on Old Saturn was to endow man with that element which later, during Earth-evolution ' manifests itself as Will. The great task of Old Saturn, then, is to implant the will, the forces of will. When we contemplate this gift to man, we are filled with admiration and reverence for the ruling cosmic Powers. They command our deep respect when we realize that for the skilful interweaving of outer Will, which resides in our physical body, and of inner Will, a special planetary mission was necessary. The whole world of the Hierarchies had to suffer the birth and death of a planet in order to bring about the condition which we experience as the outer and inner element of Will. In the same way, the Old Sun universe was necessary in order to endow us with the etheric body and the element of Feeling, the inner element of Wisdom. And the Old Moon mission was necessary in order to endow us with the astral body and the inner life of Thought.
What, then, is the mission of the Spirits of Form? What is the real Mission of the Earth? If one associates the Old Saturn mission with the endowment of the element of Will, the Old Sun mission principally with the endowment of the element of Feeling, and the Moon mission chiefly with that of the element of Thought-with the astral body of man-then the mission of the Earth is to bring about a perfect harmony between these three elements, each of which had been predominant in an earlier incarnation of our Earth.
The mission of our Earth is to resolve the conflict between these elements and restore a proper harmony between them. Man is involved in this mission of the Earth in order that he may establish this harmony between thinking, feeling and willing, first of all in his own inner being. At the beginning of the Earth period man was in this respect a patchwork of thought, feeling and will. Everyone who possesses a little self-knowledge can feel that the man of today has not yet achieved inner harmony; he is frequently a victim of conflict and discord. Man is called upon first of all to strike a balance between thought, feeling and will within himself by means of which he himself as an Ego-being can demonstrate and communicate to his fellow men what this harmony signifies.
In occult symbolism this Earth-mission has always been expressed in a special way by means of a geometrical figure. Amongst geometrical figures you will find none which corresponds so exactly to the balance or harmony of these three activities as the equilateral triangle. If you draw an equilateral triangle you will find the three sides are equal, the three angles equal, the vertices are equidistant from each other and all are equidistant from the centre.
The centre of an equilateral triangle is a complete symbol of a balance of forces, so that when the occultist looks at an equilateral triangle he perceives in it a symbol of the perfectly balanced cooperation of those elements, each of which held for a time the upper hand in the three earlier incarnations of our Earth. The deeds of the 'I' in man signify simply the creation of an active centre in his nature whereby this state of harmony can be prepared from within. Man therefore is called to high destiny on Earth to bring about from within, first ofall through his whole being, a balance between what was predominant for a time in earlier planetary epochs in various ways and at various times.
Now that is a very general definition of our Earth mission, but this mission is exactly as I have described it. The secret of this mission is that through this cooperation, through this balance or harmony of the three forces, the inner being really creates something new. A fourth element which is the element of Love is thus added to the three preceding elements. Love can only develop in the busy work-a-day world when an absolute harmony exists between the three forces which in earlier epochs were each in turn the dominating influence. We shall have more to say about this in the next few days. For the moment you must accept it as a general description.
Thus our planet is the planet of Love and therefore the result of this balance or harmony which is reflected in the cooperation of the three forces is the active spirit of Love, and this spirit of Love is to be woven into the whole of evolution throughout all the successive incarnations of the Earth by the fulfilment of the Earth's mission. In this way the Trinity becomes a Quaternary: the latter begins with its fourth element at the lowest stage, with the most elementary or primitive form of love which is so purged and purified that at the close of the Earth-evolution Love will appear as an element enjoying to the full equal status with the others. To fulfil the mission of balance or harmony ordained for our Earth planet implies, in reality, transforming the Trinity into a Quaternary. To make the Trinity into a Quaternary is therefore an occult formula for the Earth's secret. Inevitably the fourth element is today still very imperfect. But when the Earth shall have fulfilled its mission, it will appear as luminous as the Sacred Triangle which, with its state of perfect balance, shines forth as the highest symbol we possess for our Earth-ideal in so far as we can remember the past of the Earth.
This correspondence between the elements of thinking, feeling and willing is such that the inmost being of man becomes the substance of Love and this is what one may call the really creative, the inwardly creative element in earthly existence. We must therefore describe the Spirits of Form in their totality (because their particular mission is to harmonize the three former conditions) as the Spirits of Love.
In considering Earth-existence in this way we first described thinking, feeling and willing and the working of Love outside our Earth planet and we described as the special task of the Spirits of Form the implanting of Love which results from balance or harmony. This is the whole mission of the Earth. In order to realize this power of Love that shall permeate the Earth, the interplay and interaction of the lowest Hierarchies was necessary. As we began to indicate in our previous study, the network of Love must be woven by these Hierarchies and Love must be woven in such a way that the principal threads are woven by the normal Spirits of Form, for that is their fundamental mission. Then the abnormal Spirits of Form, who are in reality Spirits of Movement, weave into the tapestry that which creates the different races. Then the normal and abnormal Time Spirits weave into it the historical evolution, and the normal and abnormal Archangels the evolution of the individual peoples and languages; and finally the Angels who determine man's rightful place on Earth participate in this activity. In this way the mighty tapestry of Love is being woven. Yet of this tapestry of Love which is being woven as the real mission of Earth only the Maya, the outer reflection, is visible on Earth.
The nearest realm above the physical world in which it is possible to perceive this tapestry is the astral world. In order to see the working of the Hierarchies more and more clearly in the truths underlying our external Maya we must raise our consciousness from the astral plane to the planes of lower and higher Devachan. We then perceive how this tapestry is woven. If we raise our consciousness to the astral plane, the Beings normally working from the depths, namely, the Spirits of Will (Thrones), Cherubim and Seraphim are not yet visible. If we wish to perceive these Spirits at work we must raise our spiritual vision to still higher realms. But already in the astral world we find the abnormal Spirits of Form who, if they had fulfilled their normal evolution, would be working from without. The Spirits of the second Hierarchy, as we already know, ought to work from without, from the celestial spheres, but here they are working from within, from the centre of the Earth.
Thus into this tapestry of Love in which the Spirits of Movement, the Spirits of Form and the Spirits of Wisdom are working from without, and the Spirits of Will, the Seraphim and Cherubim from within, there are also other Beings working from within who should really be working from without. They work secretly, however, after the manner in which the silkworm spins its cocoon.
What is seen first of all in the astral world are Beings working from the depths. These singular Spirits of Movement who have transposed their sphere and are fallen Spirits, are the first Beings to become visible amongst those spiritual Beings weaving and surging in the spiritual atmosphere of the Earth. These Beings who are the first to become visible on the astral plane, even before the normal Angels, are the Spirits who in a sense falsify clairvoyant perception despite the fact that they are vitally necessary for the formation of the races. These Spirits, each of whom has many attendant spirits, because each one begets many spiritually subordinate beings, are surrounded in the spiritual world by a number of spiritual beings who are always subordinate to their respective Hierarchies.
The higher Spirits also have their attendant Nature-spirits - the Spirits of Will: the Undines; the Cherubim: the Sylphs; the Seraphim: the Salamanders. The abnormal Spirits of Form who are really Spirits of Movement and who appear as hideous spiritual Beings on the astral plane also have their subordinate spirits. They are the spirits that weave and live in that which is associated with the genesis of the human races, and that in man is associated with that element that we have characterised as the earth-bound, as that element which is associated with reproduction and the like.
These beings, indeed this whole domain is one of the most variegated and dangerous of the astral world and - this is the appropriate moment to call attention to it - it is the one most easily found by those who attain to clairvoyant vision by erroneous methods. The hosts of these spirits who are associated with the propagation of the race, who serve that purpose, are those most easily perceived. Many a one who has entered into the occult realm prematurely or in the wrong way has had to pay dearly for having encountered this host of spiritual beings without the harmonizing influence of the other spiritual Beings.
Thus we have been able to throw light upon that which weaves on the loom of Reality in order to produce this tapestry from which the pattern of man's psychic life emerges. Tomorrow we will discuss in further detail how this cosmic pattern which we have touched upon today is reflected in the origin and development of races and peoples.
(For some comments on how the series of lectures, of which the one above constitutes lecture five, is discussed by a Peter Staudenmaier in a demagogical campaign he is pursuing alleging Steiner to be a racist and anti-Semite, see here. For some comments in general about the allegations by Staudenmaier, see here.)