Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Steiner

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Steiner

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:31 am

Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia
Selections from the work of Rudolf Steiner
All translations revised by Christian von Arnim
Sophia Books Published by Rudolf Steiner Press 2001
Series editor: Andrew Welburn
© Rudolf Steiner Press 2001
The material by Rudolf Steiner was originally published in German in various volumes of the 'GA (Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe or Collected Works) by Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach.
Cover illustration by Anne Stockton. Cover design by Andrew Morgan





Table of Contents:

• Back Cover
• Introduction: Rediscovering the Goddess, by Andrew J. Welburn
• 1. Rediscovering the Goddess Natura
o Retracing our steps: medieval thought and the School of Chartres
o The goddess Natura in the ancient Mysteries
• 2. The Goddess in the Beginning: The Birth of the Word
• 3. Esoteric Christianity: The Virgin Sophia
• 4. The Search for the New Isis
o The renewal of the Mysteries
o The modern Isis, the divine Sophia
• Notes
• Sources
• Suggested Further Reading
• Note Regarding Rudolf Steiner's Lectures
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:38 am

Back Cover

The wisdom contained in this book is not derived via the usual methods of scholarly and historical research. Neither is it based on theory or speculation. Rudolf Steiner acquired his original contribution to human knowledge from metaphysical dimensions of reality which are hidden to most people - but visible to anybody who is prepared to develop spiritual means of perception.

With his philosophical and scientific training, Steiner brought a new systematic discipline to the field of spiritual research, allowing for fully conscious methods and comprehensive results. A natural seer, he cultivated his spiritual vision to a high degree, enabling him to speak with authority on previously veiled mysteries.

A sample of his work is to be found in this book of edited texts, which brings together excerpts from his many talks and writings on the theme of The Goddess. This volume also features an editorial introduction, commentary and notes.


Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) called his spiritual philosophy "anthroposophy," which can be understood as "wisdom of the human being." From his spiritual investigations he provided suggestions for the renewal of many activities, including education -- both general and special -- agriculture, medicine, economics, architecture, science, philosophy, religion and the arts. Today there are literally thousands of schools, clinics, farms, and other organisations doing practical work based on his principles. His many published works (writings and lectures) also feature his research into the spiritual nature of the human being, the evolution of the world and humanity, and methods of personal development. Steiner wrote some 30 books and delivered over 6,000 lectures across Europe. In 1924 he founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:41 am

Introduction: Rediscovering the Goddess
by Andrew J. Welburn

There has been a significant rediscovery of spirituality in recent years, especially concerning the feminine side of the traditions, which spoke of the goddess in her many forms. Myths and symbols from Egypt to Scandinavia, from India to Ireland have been explored and given real new life. Such a revitalization is welcome, and enriching - not least because it can also lead to a re-examination of our assumptions about the spiritual life more generally, going well beyond the mere carving out of a 'feminist' niche. For once we begin to look we find that this aspect of spirituality was emphasized and understood in many areas where we might not immediately think of looking for it. Thus we are made to challenge our own presuppositions.

For instance, Judaism has generally been represented as the most predominantly masculine spiritual stream, with its 'Father' God, its first man (Adam), its 'patriarchs', its stress on 'Law' rather than love, etc. And some have argued that Christianity had had to counterbalance its initial 'masculine', Judaic side by bringing in the cult of Mary, the feminine-motherly, the devotional. But in fact nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is true as far as it goes that early Jewish Christianity was phased out as the Christian Church developed, and increasingly took its mission to the Gentiles, to the Greeks and Romans and the other peoples round the Mediterranean rather than the Jews. Quite new ideas were needed in the process. But the theology of that early Jewish Christianity can be reconstructed by scholars from a number of sources that it left behind. And, perhaps to the surprise of many, one of its cardinal teachings was that of the feminine aspect of God, namely, his Holy Spirit.

In the traditions of this early Jewish Christianity, Jesus was said to have spoken of 'my Mother, the Holy Spirit'. To become a 'child of the Holy Spirit' was the path that every Christian was invited to follow, certainly forming a strong relationship to this feminine side of God, from which we might evidently each hope to be 'reborn'. Such traditions, it appears, continued to be especially associated with Jesus' brother James. [1] On the other side of the question, the origins of the devotion to Mary in Christian circles is very obscure, although it certainly figures already in apocryphal Gospels such as the second-century Protevangelium (again attributed traditionally to James). However, it received its great impetus later when Constantine became the first Christian Emperor (fourth century AD). In the Byzantine court, the Emperor was a nearly all-powerful figure, remote from ordinary people, approachable only through high connections and influential nobles. The only other route, for those who otherwise needed to appeal for his attention, was via his mother. Since the Christian Emperor was regarded as a substitute of God or Christ on earth, the cult of 'the Mother of God' (and indeed that of those other intercessors, the saints) grew up in obvious parallelism to the situation in the imperial court. Far from being a softening of Christianity's hard, masculine emphasis, the emergence of this cult reflected above all Christianity's involvement in power-politics, in pulling strings. [2]

The conceptions of the feminine in James's traditions, now restored to us at least in part, are much truer to Christian origins, including its Jewish background. For there we already find a considerable body of ideas about a feminine aspect of God, namely, Wisdom, Sophia. In the Book of Proverbs, and in the other so-called Wisdom-books of the Old Testament, [3] this power of God is shown as a feminine being who was a manifestation of his creative fecundity, sharing his inmost thoughts and communicating them to the wise and good:

By me kings reign, and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth. I love those who love me and those who seek me find me ...

The Lord brought me forth at the beginning of his work, before his deeds of old; I was fashioned from eternity. from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were set in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep. [4]

As God's creative self-expression, it appears, it is as Wisdom that those with deeper insight can know the otherwise transcendent and inscrutable divine nature; and she is the aspect of God by which we can order our lives, rule wisely, love and be loved. In the Wisdom of Solomon (chs. 10-16) it is actually Sophia who is said to have guided and rescued humanity from the Flood, to have led the chosen people, etc.- all the things which are elsewhere attributed to God himself are here shown in their deeper reality to have been done through his Wisdom, Sophia, inspiring Noah, Moses and the other leading figures. Moreover, it is not hard to recognize in Wisdom's words (such as 'those who seek me find me') the ideas to which Jesus alluded ('Seek and you will find ... '), in effect presenting himself as Sophia's representative, perhaps indeed as her true 'offspring' on earth. [5]

The reality is not that feminine spirituality is missing from the Jewish and Christian tradition, but that it occupies a very special place there - a rather intimate, and esoteric one. Indeed Sophia is described in the Wisdom of Solomon in Mystery-terminology, as the archetypal 'initiate (mystis) into divine understanding' (8:4). One of the earliest forms of the myth of feminine Wisdom is that in the non-canonical Book of Enoch, ch. 42. There Wisdom goes out to the people of the earth, but finds them unwilling to receive her; unable to discover a place where she could dwell, she returns to heaven where she is still to be found by those who seek her, among the angels. But the meaning is not that she is inaccessible. Those like the Essenes who used Enoch believed that by obeying the will of God, human beings were taking their place among the ranks of angelic beings who fulfilled his commands and carried his messages throughout the universe. (Jesusmay have meant something similar by his 'Your will be done, as it is in heaven, so also on the earth'). Wisdom is attained, therefore, by those who take up their divinely ordained role in the cosmic order, and she will dwell within them. But the path is one of inner search, of inner struggles which to the Essenes were the 'birth-pangs' of spiritual regeneration. Nor could the rebirth be attained purely out of oneself. It was also necessary to wait for the right cosmic moment, or 'turning-point', when the inner birth would be possible. [6]

Behind the biblical and Jewish-esoteric figure of Sophia, therefore, we may discern a connection to the myths and cosmic rites which were enacted in the Mysteries of the ancient world. Contrary to the widespread assumption, these myths and teachings which brought humanity into harmony with the divine and natural order through processes of rebirth did not disappear from Judaism and Christianity. Indeed they took on there a new and significant esoteric life. There is certainly the danger that they may be lost sight of by conventional religious teaching, but that is not because they are absent. If anything they have even drawn more deeply within. They are part of the inner essence of religion which our time desperately needs to rediscover.

Rudolf Steiner led such a rediscovery of the Mysteries in their significance for our own time, and it is natural that in his work the Mysteries of the feminine as part of our relationship to nature and the divine should be fully recognized. In the ancient Mystery cults we already find, he points out, the figure of the 'wise woman, the mother-principle, which gives birth to Wisdom';

The woman stands for the power that is active unconsciously in the soul, that brings about the raising into consciousness of the divine element in humanity ... Here we have one of the central conceptions of Mystery-teaching, which acknowledges the human soul as the mother of the god, leading human beings unconsciously and with the inevitability of a natural force to their union with the divine. [7]

The feminine-unconscious and the forces of consciousness are far from being in opposition in the deeper conception of the Mysteries. The unconscious already possesses a drive towards divine illumination, the consciousness of the god within us cannot be divorced from the deeper aspects of the soul, which give it birth. They are both alike integral to the Mystery-process, and all of us need to experience both sides of the picture in our souls. Out of the experience of the unity, we can then relate harmoniously to our own particular nature, whether it be male or female. Nor would it be at all right in Rudolf Steiner's conception to equate the feminine with the merely subjective, inward soul-experience, expressed in myth, and the conscious experience with objectivity, or divine truth. Myth and reason, unconscious and rationality, are not set against each other in this way. Reason evolves out of Mystery-teachings into philosophy in ancient Greece; myth already contains, in unconscious form, a greater reality than just the soul's experience:

We are far removed from the spiritual reality that is played out in the myth if we recognize in it only psychological processes - and pictures of psychological processes at that. The spiritual reality is not something that the soul experiences as confined to itself. It is rather released from itself to take part in a cosmic event. [8]

A central part of the present little book is devoted to Steiner's presentation of the way that the esoteric process, integrated and balanced as in the wisdom of the Mysteries, reappears in Christianity. The soul giving birth to wisdom was understood against a cosmic backdrop in the Mysteries of Ephesian Artemis, the goddess as virgin Nature, and it is thence that we can understand the reality behind the dogma of theology, as it became, the 'eternal birth' of the Word. In truth it is only by restoring the perspective of the Mysteries of the Goddess, that this central idea of Christianity can become a real experience once more.

Before this, Rudolf Steiner introduces the understanding of the goddess Natura which survived on into the Middle Ages, especially in the School of Chartres. But the real focus throughout is not on survivals from the past, but on the need to restore the wholeness of perspective we have briefly tried to describe, so that we can follow Rudolf Steiner's path to create the Mysteries of the future. That would be the route not only towards bringing out the best creative forces from men and women alike, but also towards reconciling the demands of modern consciousness and the needs of the unconscious, of myth and reason, of personal experience and cosmic truth, which otherwise stand unharmonized and discordant in the one-sided culture of today. The renewal of the Mysteries, and the reappearance of the goddess as the being behind 'human wisdom' (Anthropo-Sophia, or anthroposophy), or as the 'new Isis' whom now we must bring back to life out of the abstractions which we have allowed to dominate our thought-such is Steiner's path towards humanity's experiencing once again, not just the spirituality of the feminine or the masculine, but the spiritual Christ-centre which can be born within us, which can join nature and the divine and so make all of us whole once more. [9]
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:42 am

1. Rediscovering the Goddess Natura

Thinkers in former times, such as those of the great medieval School of Chartres, could still acknowledge the divine-spiritual in feminine form, as the creative principle in nature. With his understanding of the changing conditions of human consciousness, Rudolf Steiner showed how we do not need to lose this sense for the goddess nature/ Natura through having moved on in modern thought. In fact it is the loss of it which has led to the sense of alienation and dehumanization so many feel today. It is a matter of being able to rediscover it in the form that is valid for us now. Since he spoke, discontentment with the abstract, inert conception of earthly nature has only increased - not least among scientists themselves, many among whom would nowadays recognize Gaia, the living Earth. But few have had the ability to trace the potential of our response to nature through from the ancient myths of Mother and Maiden, Demeter and Kore to our modern situation, making the rediscovery of the Goddess a key to the evolution of humanity.

Retracing our steps: medieval thought and the School of Chartres

Nature today has become something vague and nebulous, a catalogue of laws of gravitation, heat, light, electricity, magnetism - the laws of mechanics. Natural science and natural history deal with the study of stones and plants. But in addition, natural science includes the life and inner constitution of the organs of plants, animals and human beings of which we are admittedly ignorant. In brief, natural science and natural philosophy today include much that we claim to know and much of which we are totally ignorant.

Now this is a state of affairs that hardly inspires confidence; everything is so nebulous and confused, the thinking so superficial and abstract. Nowadays we strive spiritedly to master this abstraction we call 'nature' and many, it must be admitted, have grown somewhat indifferent to such an abstract approach. And if we do not belong to the younger generation, which is in active revolt against what is being taught in our schools as natural science, we adopt an attitude of benevolent neutrality. This was not always the case. I should like now to characterize briefly the attitude to knowledge of a few centuries ago.

When we look back to the ninth, tenth, eleventh and even to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries we come across people -- though they were considerably fewer at that time -- whom we would describe today as savants, men judged to be the outstanding scholars of their day, who taught in the famous School of Chartres in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, such as Bernardus Silvestris, Bernard of Chartres, Alanus ab Insulis. [10] These personalities were still fortunate enough at that time to be associated with initiates, people who had profound insight into the mysteries of existence, such as the famous medieval initiate Joachim of Fiore or that other illustrious personality known to the world as John of Hanville. [11]

I mention these names, to which many others could be added, in order to evoke the spirit of the age, in order to characterize the attitude towards knowledge that was prevalent at the time.

When we enter into the spiritual outlook of such personalities, we find that their conception of nature is wholly different from our own. In the case of the typical botanist, pathologist or histologist of today, the expression on his face belies any deep interest in the mysteries of pathology or anatomy; it reflects rather the memories of the dance he had attended the night before. We learn more about the festive occasion than about the mysteries of nature!

It was a very different matter to look into the eyes of a Joachim of Fiore, an Alanus ab Insulis or a Bernardus Silvestris. Tragedy was written on their countenances. They felt they were living in an epoch which had suffered irreparable loss. And the growing realization of this loss filled their hearts with tragic sorrow. Or again, if we had looked at their fingers, fingers which the modern decadent world would describe as 'nervous', sensitive fingers which bore living witness to their desire to probe into those ancient Mysteries, the loss of which was written on their faces, we would have perceived a yearning to revive the ancient wisdom of the past. There were brief moments when they were able to conjure up pictures of those ancient times for their pupils; but they were only phantom images.

Now what I am about to depict to you is no poetic fantasy, but a reality. We can visualize Alanus ab Insulis of the School of Chartres, where the magnificent cathedral still stands today, speaking to his pupils about nature and saying: 'Nature is a being who eludes us when we draw near to her.' People now direct their energies for other purposes; they no longer share that intuitive understanding of nature which the sages of former times once possessed. Nature, in their eyes, was a majestic being endowed with spirit, operating everywhere where rock formations were created, where plants sprang out of the earth, and jewelled stars sparkled in the heavens. Everywhere a being of infinite grandeur was at work, who revealed herself in the wonderful form of a woman weaving nature's web. The ancients experienced this intuitively. From their descriptions we can still picture how nature appeared in their eyes, weaving and working in all that surrounded them, in the manifestations of warmth, light, colour and life. They realized that the goddess Natura was a divine spiritual being whose real essence could be known only through direct perception.

A personality such as Alanus ab Insulis was still able to present such conceptions to his pupils in the School of Chartres. But because the initiates saw this old conception of the goddess Natura gradually fade and die, saw replete with life and vitality the nature that we today regard as dead and abstract because we have lost touch with her, sorrow and tragedy were written on their faces.

Then, again, we hear of such men as Brunetto Latini, Dante's famous teacher. During his travels, he suffered a heat-stroke through some strange karmic incident which produced a change of consciousness. This event was far more important for his development than the sufferings he endured when the last of the Guelfs were expelled from his native city. Because of this transformation of consciousness, he was still able to perceive the goddess Natura and described her in his book Tesoretto. [12] He gives a graphic description, imaginatively inspired, of how on his homeward journey to his native Florence he came upon a hill in the middle of a desolate forest and on this hill he saw the goddess Natura weaving at her loom. She revealed to him the significance of thinking, feeling and the will for the human soul, the intrinsic nature of the four temperaments and the function of the five senses.

And the eyes of his spirit and soul were opened.
This experience on his homeward journey from Spain to his native Florence, suffering a depressed, pathological condition, was a spiritual reality. As a result of this inward transformation, he saw the interactive life of the four elements of fire, earth, water and air, the flux and movement of the planets and the soul emerging from the body into the cosmos. All this he experienced under the influence of a spiritual teaching given by the goddess Natura.

These experiences were described by the people of that age with a clarity and concreteness that could scarcely be bettered today. At the same time, they felt that the ancients had experienced this knowledge in a different way and that in the course of time it had gradually been lost. In order to revive the knowledge of these Mysteries, it was necessary to induce a pathological condition. And they felt an irresistible urge to keep alive the real image of Natura.

And when in retrospect we review people's whole attitude to a knowledge of nature, we feel that our approach to nature is abstract, that nature is a catalogue of laws. We are proud if we can see these laws even to some extent as a related whole. If we look back a few centuries, we see that a living relationship existed between human beings and a divine being who was living, weaving and working in natural phenomena -- in the rising and setting of the sun, in the transmission of warmth to the stones and plants, a warmth that is actively operating within such life, in growth and proliferation. How different was a science that took into account the activities of the goddess Natura. The mood in which the students of the School of Chartres -- the majority were of the Cistercian Order -- came out of their lectures was vastly different from the mood of students leaving their lecture rooms today! Their response was vitally alive and a deeper expression of their inner being. And the same living reality is reflected in the descriptions of such men as Brunetto Latini, the celebrated teacher of Dante. The vigorous, creative spirit of the time can readily be imagined, for the characters and splendid pictorial descriptions of Dante's Commedia are inspired by the graphic descriptions of his teacher Brunetto Latini who owed his initiation to a karmic incident. And the School of Chartres and other schools were indebted to initiates such as Joachim of Fiore and others for much of the instruction given at the time.

The term Natura was not used in our abstract sense; it implied something operating creatively in externally perceptible phenomena, but which remained veiled and escaped one's gaze. Another factor must also be taken into consideration. Let us assume -- and again I am describing a fundamental reality, not some poetic fantasy -- that as an elderly student you had attended a course of lectures given by Alanus ab Insulis and had taken part in the discussions; the students had been dismissed and you were walking alone with Alanus ab Insulis discussing the problems at issue.

The conversation might have turned upon some particular point. You might have spoken of the goddess Natura who manifests herself in the world of phenomena but who is veiled from you. Then Alanus ab Insulis, who had warmed to the discussion, would have said: 'If we still shared in our sleep the condition formerly possessed by the ancients, we would be in touch with the hidden side of nature. Our sleep leads to oblivion; but it was precisely in the unconscious that the ancients were in contact with the hidden side of nature. If only we could experience again the clairvoyant sleep of the ancients, we would know the goddess Natura.' And if, in a similar situation, you had been engaged in intimate conversation with Joachim of Fiore, he would have replied: 'Our sleep is devoid of content, our consciousness is obliterated. It would be difficult therefore to know the goddess Natura weaving and working in all created things. The ancients were aware of her hidden and her visible aspects. They never used the term Natura. They never maintained that the being whose presence we vaguely sense but do not know was the goddess Natura. They gave her another name -- Proserpina or Persephone. [13]

This was common knowledge in those days. What I have just described has been transformed into our abstract conception of nature. And what lived in the souls of such people as Bernardus Silvestris, Alanus ab Insulis, John of Hanville and above all Brunetto Latini was a transformation of the goddess whom the ancients saw as the daughter of Demeter, Proserpina, the entire universe; Proserpina-nature who can live only half of her life in the upper world, who reveals only her physical and sense-perceptible aspect to humankind, while the other half of her life is spent in those realms where human beings dwell in sleep, realms which human beings can no longer inhabit today because their sleep is emptied of true reality.

Though we are unable to realize it owing to our present abstract way of thinking, our knowledge of nature is an echo of what once lived in the old Greek myth of Persephone. The fact that human beings of sorrowful countenance were aware of this and that it could still be known in their day shows how much the paths of knowledge have changed with the passage of time. As I said in the earlier part of my lecture, we can only develop the right feeling for, and sense the subtle distinction in these things, when we review in retrospect the nature of the knowledge that once existed. I have quoted these examples not with the idea of reviving ancient forms of knowledge but to call attention to the kind of knowledge that was prevalent in former times.

If we can keep in mind words which might have been spoken by Joachim of Fiore or John of Hanville, 'What we regard as nature today, or whatever is veiled from us because we cannot apprehend it spiritually, this was once known as Proserpina,' and if this myth of Proserpina (for it has survived only as a myth) is renewed within us, then the images evoked by this myth awaken images of still earlier relationships. They are images from the time when human beings knew neither the abstract nor the tragic aspect of the goddess Natura, when they saw Proserpina-Persephone herself, in her aspect of radiant beauty and tragic gloom.

The goddess Natura in the ancient Mysteries

In what aspect did she appear in those far-off days of her prime? These were not the days of Plato's philosophy, nor of Socrates' dialogues, but much earlier times when knowledge was far more vitally alive than at the height of Greek culture.

Let us try to envisage the different forms which knowledge has taken in the course of human evolution, so that we may see in the right perspective what we have already discussed from the standpoint of the present and what will be discussed in further detail in the course of these lectures.

Though of necessity our account will be brief and imperfect, let us try to envisage the nature of the Mysteries into which the Greek philosopher Heraclitus was initiated, the 'dark' and 'gloomy' Heraclitus as he was called, because in later years, a mental darkness descended upon all that he had received at the hands of the Mysteries. Let us picture that period in the development of the Mysteries when the Greeks drew upon them for their imaginative vision and the creation of their myths. And let us picture the Mysteries of Ephesus into which Heraclitus had been initiated. [14]

Knowledge from primeval times was still in existence in Ephesus and persisted into Homer's time and even into the time of Heraclitus' initiation, though in a weakened form. These ancient Mysteries were still actively flourishing. A strong and powerful spiritual atmosphere was present in the temple, which was adorned on its eastern side with the statue of the goddess Diana, the goddess of fertility, who symbolizes the superabundant fertility of nature everywhere. When conversations were held, momentous secrets of existence, profound spiritual secrets were imparted to the pupils through the spoken word immediately after they had taken part in the Mysteries and had received the mighty impulses of the Mysteries from the ceremonies in the temple of Ephesus. And these profound conversations were continued after the participants in the ceremonies had left the temple. At the twilight hour, when nature invites contemplation, they would follow the pathway leading from the temple doorway into a grove with arboured walks, planted with dark-green trees in which paths fanning out from the temple of Ephesus were gradually lost to view in the distance. I would like to offer you a somewhat inadequate picture of conversations of this kind.

Triptolemus, legendary founder of the Eleusinan Mysteries, between the 'two Goddesses', the earth-mother Demeter and her daughter Persephone.

It was not unknown for someone who had received a partial initiation into the Mysteries of those times to enter into conversation with a pupil of either sex. Now you must realize that in those days equal rights between the sexes, though forfeited immediately afterwards, was very much more a living reality than it is today. We can speak, therefore, both of male and female pupils at Ephesus. And in these conversations there was a lively interest in the spiritual aspect of the myth of Persephone. But how was such a conversation conducted? First, there was the teacher, the priest-initiate who, from the spiritual impulses he had received, was capable of speaking about the world of forms, of the interrelationships of entities in that world. Speaking from his initiate knowledge, he would say something like the following to his pupil: 'It is now twilight and sleep which reveals the spiritual world will soon overtake us. Look upon your human form in its totality. Beneath our feet are the plants and around us are the lengthening shadows of twilight and the dim green light of the temple grove. The first stars are beginning to shine in the heavens. Behold the majesty and grandeur of life's inexhaustible vitality in the heavens above and the earth below. Then behold yourself and remember that a whole universe lives and stirs within you, that all organic activity, all the changes and opportunities of your inner life bear witness at every moment of the day to a multitude of facts and to endless transformations of your being. Realize that you are a microcosm which, though spatially restricted, is richer in mystery and wonder than the macrocosm which you apprehend visually and intellectually. Learn then to feel and know this world within you. Realize that you are now looking out from your microcosmic world into the larger world that reaches from the earth to the stars. Then sleep will overtake you; you will no longer be a prisoner of your own body, of your own world, but will inhabit that other world you now behold, a world that embraces the earth and the stars. Your soul and spirit will have relinquished the physical body and you will be sharing the radiance of the stars and the exhalations of the earth. You will ride the winds and think with star-radiance. You will now be living in the spiritual world and will look back upon your microcosmic self.'

In ancient times it was possible for the teacher to speak to his pupil in this way because the perception of the external world was not so sharply defined as now and the life of sleep had not yet become a total blank. It was still crowded with experiences. When referring to this state of sleep, the teacher spoke of realities, saying: 'You are now in the presence of Proserpina, Persephone or Kore (the Maiden). Kore lives in the stars, in the rays of sunshine, in the moonbeams and the growing plants. Everywhere can be seen the activities of Persephone, for she has woven the garment of the universe. And behind it all is Demeter, her mother, for whom Persephone has woven this garment which you see as the external world.' The teacher did not use the term 'nature'; he preferred to speak of Persephone or Kore. And continuing the dialogue with his pupil, the teacher went on: 'If someone were to remain awake for a longer period than yourself, then, while you were asleep, he would perceive the plants, mountains, clouds and stars -- external manifestations of Persephone -- exactly as you do now. Illusion lies in the manner of our seeing. It is not Persephone, not her creative activities in mountains, plants, clouds and stars that are illusory, but how you see them. And now the moment has come for sleep. Through your eyes, the organ of life's mysteries, Kore-Persephone, will enter into you.'

These things were described so vividly because they had been so vividly experienced; so that, while falling asleep, the sleeper not only felt that sight, hearing and perception were being extinguished, but he was aware of Persephone sinking down through the eyes into the physical and etheric bodies from which his soul and spirit had withdrawn while he slept. In waking life we live in the upper world, in sleep we live in the lower world. Persephone entered through the eyes of the sleeper into the physical and etheric bodies. She dwelt with Pluto, the lord of sleep within the physical and etheric bodies. The sleeping neophyte experienced the activity of Pluto and Persephone. Through the instruction he had received, he became aware of the entry of Kore through the gateway of the eyes. This became a living reality to him and as a result he experienced the deeds of Pluto and Persephone during sleep. And while the neophyte experienced this, his teacher had corresponding experiences that were related to the world of forms.

Then, when teacher and pupil met together again, each had experience of his own particular insights. And when they discussed plants and trees, the teacher would describe how the forms arose, for they had been revealed to him in sleep. Then he would discuss in detail the configuration of the leaves and stems, of the whole kingdom of nature and the formative forces which work down into the earth from above. And though the pupil had perhaps experienced different insights, he could probably follow his teacher when he spoke of the mysteries of chlorophyll and osmosis. Thus the conversations supplemented each other; in this vivid picture of the goddess Persephone in the underworld, revealing her other aspect to human beings while they slept, these secrets were revealed to the human soul and entered into it.

Thus in those far-off times, the pupil learned from the teacher and the teacher from the pupil. On the one hand, the teachings were of the spirit and soul, on the other hand, of soul and spirit. From this interchange of pooled experience they embarked on the highest flights of knowledge. When they shared these deepest insights, when next they saw the approach of dawn and the morning star shining in the east, sending shafts of light into the dark green grove whose avenues of majestic trees were gradually lost to view in the distant vista, their hearts were gladdened. They had dwelt for a brief period in that realm we now call the realm of nature. And when they talked of these things among themselves, they knew for certain that they had conversed with Persephone. And they knew also that all that was later incorporated into the myth of Persephone was, in reality, the hidden source of human knowledge about nature.

I can only indicate imperfectly the fascination of these conversations that were related to the Mysteries of Ephesus and were filled with a vital, living knowledge of Persephone. But in the course of time this knowledge was toned down to the abstraction we know as nature today and men such as Joachim of Fiore were saddened by this tragic loss.

We can only understand the path leading to an understanding of the spiritual nature of human beings and the cosmos when we draw attention to, and characterize, not only the separate states of consciousness within a person's reach, but also show how these states have been transformed in the course of the evolution of humankind; when we realize how very different from our own was the knowledge that informed the conversations of those who had participated in the Mysteries in the temples of Ephesus, and how different was the nature of the conversation held with such personalities as Joachim of Fiore and Alanus ab Insulis; and how different today the knowledge is that we must strive to attain once more, in order through spiritual training to seek forms of knowledge which lead back from outer to inner, from above to below and then from inner to outer and below to above.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:43 am

2. The Goddess in the Beginning: The Birth of the Word

Rediscovering the Goddess is nowhere more necessary, despite popular misunderstandings, than in our understanding of Christianity. It is a travesty of the truth to suppose that Christianity is somehow opposed to the divine-feminine. In fact the Mysteries of the goddess, specifically those of the great goddess of Ephesus whom the Greeks called Artemis, the Roman's Diana, lived in the cycle of the renewal of nature, in the mysterious forces within the earth, and in the maturing souls of human beings. It was this divine cycle of birth which Christianity sought to experience consciously, in its eternal truth, and to focus its creativity where abstract meaning becomes human reality - in the power of the word.

When people speak about the word today they usually only mean the weak human word, which has so little significance in comparison with the majesty of the universe indicated at the beginning of St John's Gospel with the momentous words: 'In the beginning was the Word, the Logos, and the Word was with God, and a God was the Word.' And anyone who reflects on this most significant opening of St John's Gospel must ask himself: 'What does it mean when the Word is placed at the primal beginning of all things? What is actually meant by the Logos, the Word? And what connection does it have with our trivial human words?' Now the name of John is also connected with the city of Ephesus, and of someone who is equipped with imaginative perception of world history contemplates the momentous words, 'In the primal beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and a God was the Logos,' he will be directed time and again by an inner path to the ancient temple of Diana at Ephesus. For anyone who has attained a certain degree of initiation, the enigma presented in the first verses of the St John's Gospel points to the Mysteries of the temple of Artemis or Diana at Ephesus. And so it must seem to him that knowledge of the Mysteries of Ephesus will help him to understand the beginning of the St John's Gospel.

Prepared by what we have already heard, let us think of the Mysteries of the temple of Diana at Ephesus as they were six or seven centuries before the birth of Christianity or even earlier, and what was done in this sanctuary which was held to be so holy by the people of old. Then we find that the instruction given in the Mysteries at Ephesus did indeed begin with drawing attention to the sounds of human speech. We can learn not from any historical account, for the barbarism of humanity took good care that such records were destroyed, but from the Akashic Record -- that thought record in the ether where the events of world history are inscribed and which is accessible to spiritual vision [15] -- what went on in these Ephesian Mysteries. And the Akashic Record reveals again and again how the teacher first of all directed the attention of his pupils to human speech.

Again and again the pupil was urged to learn to feel in his own speech organs what actually took place when he spoke. The processes at work in speech elude crude perception, for they are delicate and intimate. But let us consider first of all the external aspect of speech, for it was from this that the instruction given in these Mysteries took its start. The attention of the pupil was first directed to the way in which the word sounded from his mouth. He was told over and over again: 'Mark well what you feel when the word sounds from your mouth!' He was then taught to notice how something of the spoken word turns upwards in order to receive the thought in the head, while something from the same word turns downwards in order that the feeling content may be inwardly experienced.

Again and again the pupil was instructed to push through his throat the utmost extremes of speech, and thereby to perceive the ebb and flow evident in the word as it is uttered. 'I am, I am not' -- a positive and a negative assertion -- these he had to utter as articulately as possible, and then observe how in the words 'I am' the upward ascent is felt, while in the 'I am not' there is more the feeling of pressing downwards.

Then the attention of the pupil was turned more towards the intimate feelings and experiences connected with the word. He was aware that from the word something like warmth rises towards the head and this warmth, this fire, intercepts light. And something like a watery element flows down in the same way as a glandular secretion is discharged into the organism. Thus it was made clear to the pupils in the Ephesian Mysteries that human beings make use of the air in order for the word to sound out, but in the act of speaking air changes into the next element, into fire, warmth, drawing the thought down from the heights of the head, embodying it in itself. And there occurs as alternating conditions first a sending upwards of fire, then a sending downwards, as the air in the word trickles down like a glandular secretion in the form of water, of fluid. By means of this latter process human beings can feel the word inwardly.

The pupil was then led into the real secret of speech. This secret is connected with the mystery of the human being. Nowadays this secret of the human being is hidden from scientists inasmuch as science places at the summit of all thought that incredible caricature of truth, the so-called law of conservation of energy and matter. Within the human being matter is continually being transformed. It does not endure. The air that is pushed out of the throat is transformed in the process alternately into the next higher element, warmth or fire, or into the element of water-fire, water. Thus the pupil at Ephesus came to understand that when he spoke, a wave movement issued from his mouth: fire, water; fire, water. What this actually means is a striving up of the word into the realm of thought and a trickling down of the word into the realm of feeling. Thus thought and feeling interweave in speech inasmuch as the living wave movement of speech, beginning as air, first rarefies to fire, then densifies to water, and so on, again and again.


fire water fire water
↓ feeling

And this was what the pupil had to feel when the great truth arising in his own speaking was brought home to him in the Mysteries of Ephesus:

Speak, oh human being, and you reveal through yourself world genesis.

This is how it was in Ephesus, that when the pupil entered the portal of the mysteries, he was always reminded of the words:

Speak, oh human being, and you reveal through yourself world genesis.

And when he departed the words were said to him in the other form:

World genesis is revealed through you, oh human being when you speak.

Then the pupil gradually began to feel that he with his own body was a kind of vesture for the cosmic mystery that sounded from his rhythmic system and lived in his speech.

All this was brought to the pupil to prepare him for the much deeper mystery. For this preparation enabled him to know that his own human nature was inwardly connected with the mystery of the cosmos. The saying "know yourself" acquired holy meaning inasmuch as it was not only spoken of in theory but could be inwardly and solemnly felt and experienced. Then, after the pupil had what might be described as ennobled his being and was able to feel it as a vesture enveloping the cosmic mystery, he could be led still farther and come to know the power that spread the mystery over the wide spaces of the cosmos. And in this connection let us remember what we have learnt previously. [16]

I have described a condition in the evolution of the Earth when the following occurred. The Earth was in the condition when it contained as a substance essential for that stage of evolution what we now know as common chalk, such as is found in the Jura mountains. In the chalk mountains, in the chalk of the earth today, we find the substance we want to study with regard to its function in those ancient times, when the Earth was surrounded by what I called fluid albumen. We know that cosmic forces worked into the fluid albumen, causing it to coagulate into certain definite forms; and while the Earth was in this condition, a process took place resembling in a higher degree and with a denser substance what we know today as the rising of the mist and the falling of the rain. The chalky element rose upwards and penetrated what had hardened in the fluid albumen, so that these forms acquired a bony content and the animal kingdom began to evolve. Through the spiritual element contained in the chalk the animals were drawn down out of the still albuminous atmosphere.

I also said something else. I said that human beings are aware of these happenings in their feelings; if they unite themselves with the metallic element, the "metallic characteristics" of the earth, they feel all these things as though they were their own being, as a memory within themselves. And with regard to that stage of evolution they felt that they were yet small human beings enclosed in their skin but that they encompassed the whole of planet earth. To exaggerate, I might say that to begin with human beings felt that chiefly their heads encompassed the whole of planet earth.

The processes described by me elsewhere were felt by the human being to be taking place in himself. But how? Everything I have described to you here as the rising of the chalk, the uniting of this chalk with the coagulated albumen and then the descent of animal nature onto the earth -- all this was experienced by the human being of that time in such a way that he heard it. You must try to imagine this. He experienced it inwardly, and in so doing he heard it. The forms that arose when the chalk filled out the coagulated albumen and made it bony and gristly and everything that subsequently took shape was 'felt' in the ear, was audible. The cosmic mystery was heard.

And it is the same today. When human beings learn through memory about the past of the Earth, the memory that is kindled by the metals comes to them as though they heard it sounding. And in this sound the stream of cosmic happenings lives and weaves. What is it that human beings hear? What is revealed? What is disclosed to them? The stream of cosmic happenings manifests as the cosmic Word, as the Logos. It is the Logos, the cosmic Word, that resounds in the rising and falling of the chalk. And if human beings are able to hear this language within themselves they will become aware of something else besides. The following may actually enter the bounds of possibility.

My dear friends, imagine yourselves standing in front of a human or an animal skeleton. What modern anatomy says about the skeleton is dreadfully superficial. But when, with inner mindfulness of the reality of nature and of spirit, we look at a skeleton, what do we feel? We say to ourselves: "Do not merely look at it." It is terrible merely to look at it as it presents its forms - the spinal column with its wonderfully intersecting vertebrae, with the ribs bending and curving forwards, with all the wonderful articulation as the vertebrae are metamorphosed into the bones of the skull, and even more mysterious articulation where the ribs, bending to embrace the chest from either side, form themselves with a sharp turn into the arm bones and the leg bones. Confronted with this mystery of the skeleton we can do no other than say to ourselves: "Do not merely look but listen. Listen how one bone transforms itself into another. Listen -- for it speaks!"

At this point let me make a personal remark. When, with a feeling for these things, we go into a natural history museum we are confronted by something really miraculous. For there we have a collection of what are really musical instruments forming a mighty orchestra resounding in the most wonderful way. I experienced this very deeply when I once visited the museum in Trieste. There, due to a particular way the animal skeletons were arranged -- this was quite instinctive -- one could hear resound one after the other at one end of the animal the secrets of the moon and at the other end the secrets of the sun. And the whole hall was as though filled with resounding suns and planets. One could certainly feel the connection between the skeleton -- the bony system living in chalk -- and that which once upon a time spoke to human beings out of the flowing forces of the cosmos; spoke when the self was one with the cosmos, with the secret of the cosmos which is at the same time the secret of human beings themselves.

The beings that arose first of all, the animals, sounded in this way what they are. For, after all, animal nature lived in the Logos, in the sounding cosmic mystery. One did not perceive two separate phenomena. One did not perceive the animals and then in some way or other the inner being of the animals. The actual genesis and development of the animal and its whole being -- that was what spoke.

The pupil of the Ephesian Mysteries could receive with heart and soul in the right way for that ancient time the things capable of revelation concerning the primal beginning, when the Word, the Logos, lived and moved as the inner essence of all things. The pupil could take it in because he had been prepared by the ennoblement and sublimation of his human nature to feel himself to be a vessel for the faint reflection of the cosmic mystery contained in the sounding forth of his own speech.

And now let us feel how the evolutionary process passed from one level to the other. Let us take a look at it. In the chalk element we still have something which was then fluid. It rose as vapour and fell again as rain. As it rose it was transmuted into air; as it descended it was changed into earth. So there was water, air and earth there, which was a level lower than in the human copy of it, where we have air, warmth and water. In those primeval times the still fluid chalk rarefied to air and condensed to earth, just as in our throat today the air rarefies to warmth and condenses to water. The element which lived in the world rose from water to air. In former times it lived in water, condensed to earth and rarefied to air. This rose to the level of air, where it rarefied to warmth and condensed to water. And this makes it possible for us human beings to encompass the cosmic memory in miniature. While it was still on a large scale and was the great maya of the world it was one level lower. The earth densified everything. The chalk became denser, and so on. We human beings would not have been able to contain the cosmic mystery in this form, even if it approached us on a miniature scale. We could contain it when it rose one stage higher, from water to air, and surged up and down into warmth and into water, which is now the denser element.

Thus what was of universal dimension, the macrocosmic mystery, became the microcosmic mystery of human speech. And it is to this macrocosmic mystery -- the translation into maya, into the big world -- that the beginning of St John's Gospel refers: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' For that was still a tradition in Ephesus at the time when the evangelist, the writer of St John's Gospel, could read there in the Akashic Record that for which his heart yearned, namely, the right form in which to clothe what he had to say to mankind concerning the secret of cosmic evolution.

But we can go a step further. For prior to chalk there was silica, which appears today in quartz. In this the plant forms appeared like greening and fading cloud formations. And if, as I said, human beings had at that time been able to look into the wide spaces of the cosmos, they would have seen the evolution of animal nature and would have seen too those primeval plants greening and fading away. But all this was of course an inner perception. The human being perceived it as belonging to his own being. Besides hearing as a living inner experience the' sounding' of animal nature coming into being, he could also in a certain sense accompany inwardly what he heard; in the same way as in his own head, his chest and head, he ascended with his words by way of warmth to grasp thoughts; and he could proceed from what he heard resounding from the evolution of the animals to experiencing the evolution of the plants. This was the remarkable thing, my dear friends. The human being could experience the living being of animal creation in the rarefying and descending chalk. And when he then directed his attention to what was happening in the silica element, the greening and fading of plant nature, then the cosmic Word became cosmic thought, for the plants in the silica element added thought to the resounding Word. An ascending step was taken, and cosmic thought was added to the sounding Logos, just as today thought is grasped in the element of fire and comes to meet the word of speech, as speech surges between fire and water.

My dear friends, if you study today how those particular pathological conditions connected with the sense organs of the head and with the sense organs in general are treated, you will hear of the healing effects of silica. Here, in the context of cosmic secrets, silica shows itself to be specifically the thought element in the greening and fading plant forms. We may say of it that it was perception, the medium for perceiving the whole structure of the cosmos. In a wonderful way there actually comes to expression microcosmically in present-day human beings what has occurred in the evolution of life in the macrocosm.

Just think for a moment how human beings lived then, still at one with the cosmos, in unity with the cosmos. When a human being thinks today he has to think of himself as being isolated in his head. The thoughts are inside and the words come out. The cosmos is outside. Words can only point to the cosmos, thoughts can only mirror it. This was not so when the human being was still one with the macrocosm; he then experienced the cosmos as though it were within himself. The Word was at the same time the environment; and thought was the element that permeated this environment. The human being listened, and what he heard was world. When he looked away from what he heard he looked into himself. The Word was first of all sound. The Word was first of all something struggling to be deciphered. The creation of the animals was a manifestation of something struggling to be deciphered. The animal kingdom arose in the chalk element as a question. Human beings looked into the silica element and the being of the plants gave the answer out of what it had received as a sense organ of the earth, and solved the riddle set it by the mineral kingdom. The beings themselves solved each other's riddles. One being, in this case the animal, put the question, the other being, in this case the plant, gave the answer. The whole world became speech.

We may venture to say that this is the reality in the beginning of St John's Gospel. For in the first place we are taken back to a primal beginning of everything that exists. In this primal beginning, in this principle, was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God, because it was the creative essence in everything.

It is really and truly so, that the teaching given to the pupils of the Mysteries at Ephesus contains what led to the beginning of St John's Gospel. And here let me say that the time is ripe for anthroposophists fully to turn to these secrets lying in the past.

The First Goetheanum building, designed by Rudolf Steiner as the centre for anthroposophy. It was burned down on New Year's night 1922/3 - a destiny which links it to that of the great Artemis temple of Ephesus.

For you see, in a very particular and special sense, the building which stood here on the Dornach hill, the Goetheanum, had become the central point of anthroposophical striving. [17] The pain in us today must continue to live on as pain, and will do so in everyone who was able to feel what the Goetheanum was intended to be. But whatever takes place in the physical world around us, that, my dear friends, must be at the same time an external revelation, a picture of something deeper, something spiritual, for the person who is striving upwards in his knowledge towards the spiritual realm. If, on the one hand, we have to accept this pain, then we, as human beings striving for spiritual knowledge, must nevertheless be able to turn what has happened into an opportunity for observing an ever-deepening revelation.

The Goetheanum was truly a place in which the human being endeavoured to speak, in fact did speak again and again of the things connected with the beginning of St John's Gospel: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'

And then the Goetheanum went up in flames and we have this terrible picture of the burning Goetheanum. And out of the pain can be born the urge to look ever more deeply into this image which is still there in our thought, the image of the Goetheanum burning down on New Year's Eve. Although this was such a painful event, it was nevertheless one that can lead to increasingly profound knowledge. Something was to have been founded there, something that had a connection with the Gospel of St John. In a certain sense we may say that this placed itself into the consuming flames. And we can form a most important resolution to allow these flames to prompt us to look through them to other flames which in past times consumed the temple of Ephesus. Let that be a challenge to us to acquire a sense and purpose for enquiring into what is contained in the beginning of St John's Gospel. Urged on by these painful but holy demands let us look back from that Gospel to the temple of Ephesus, which was also burnt down long ago; and then the Goetheanum flames, speaking to us so painfully and eloquently, will serve to remind us of what streamed into the Akashic Record together with the flames of the burning temple of Ephesus.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:45 am

3. Esoteric Christianity: The Virgin Sophia

The Virgin Sophia is the Goddess in her profoundest, most esoteric Christian form. Around her in this extraordinary lecture, which must rank as a central statement of Rudolf Steiner's message to humanity, all the themes we have been considering come together, and more: the inner process of renewal through Mystery-initiation, here described in exact detail and as intimately connected with the workings of nature and the renewal of the earth itself; the birth of the creative power, the higher or Christ-self in humanity through the Virgin Sophia and the Holy Spirit; the spiritual-scientific approach which Steiner developed in his anthroposophy and its mission to help us perceive the living or 'etheric' Christ in the modern world. Anthropo-Sophia, 'human wisdom' will be the true child of the new Christ-awareness. Of this the environmentalism and ecological awareness of the present are a first stage, the beginning of the new Mysteries of the feminine ideal in spirituality which Rudolf Steiner foresaw.

In initiation, the important thing is to influence the astral body indirectly through daytime consciousness in such a way that it can take on a new plastic form when it is wholly free during the night. When the human being, as an astral being, has given himself a plastic form in this manner, the astral body has become a new member of the human organism. He is then wholly permeated by manas or spirit-self. [18]

When the astral body is thus divided, that part which has in this way been plastically formed is brought over into the etheric body. And just as you press the seal on to the sealing-wax and the name on the seal appears not only on the seal but on the wax as well, so too must the astral body dip down into the etheric body and impress upon it whatever it may now possess. The inner process, the reworking of the astral body, is the same in all methods of initiation. The individual methods differ only in the method of transmission into the etheric body. We shall speak later of these differences and show how the three methods of initiation, which have proved to be the most profound evolutionary impulses in the course of the modern age, differ from each other and what significance initiation, in general, has for human evolution. Then these parts of the Gospel of St John upon which we have not yet been able to touch will also become clear.

The refashioning of the astral body indirectly through meditation and concentration is called by an ancient name katharsis, or purification. Katharsis or purification has as its purpose the discarding from the astral body of all that hinders it from becoming harmoniously and regularly organized, thus enabling it to acquire higher organs. It is endowed with the germ of these higher organs; all that is required is to bring out the forces which are present in it. As we said, the most varied methods can be employed for bringing about such katharsis. A person can go very far in this matter of katharsis if, for example, he has worked through and inwardly experienced all that is in my book The Philosophy of Freedom [19] and feels that this book was for him a stimulation and that now he has reached the point where he can actually reproduce the thoughts himself just as they are presented there. If a person holds the same relationship to this book that a virtuoso, in playing a selection on the piano, holds to the composer of the piece, that is, he reproduces the whole thing within himself -- naturally according to his ability to do so -- then through the strictly built-up sequence of this book katharsis will be developed to a high degree. For the important point in such things as this book is that the thoughts are all placed in such a way that they become active. In many other books of the present, what has been said earlier in the book could just as well be said later just by changing the approach a little. In The Philosophy of Freedom this is not possible. Page 150 can no more be placed 50 pages earlier in the subject matter than the hind legs of a dog can be exchanged with the forelegs, for the book is a logically arranged structure and the development of the thoughts in it has an effect similar to an inner schooling. Hence there are various methods of bringing about katharsis. If a person has not been successful in doing this after having gone through this book, he should not think that what has been said is untrue but rather that he has not studied it properly or with sufficient energy or thoroughness.

Something else must now be considered, and that is that when katharsis has taken place, when the astral organs have been formed in the astral body, it must all be imprinted upon the etheric body. In the pre-Christian initiation, it was done in the following manner. After the pupil had undergone the appropriate preparatory training, which often lasted for years, he was told: the time has now come when the astral body has developed far enough to have astral organs of perception; these can now become aware of their counterpart in the etheric body.

Then the pupil was subjected to a procedure which today -- at least for our cultural epoch -- is neither necessary nor in all seriousness feasible. He was put into a lethargic state for three and a half days and was treated during this time in such a way that not only the astral body left the physical and etheric bodies -- a thing that occurs every night in sleep -- but to a certain degree the etheric body also was lifted out; but care was taken that the physical body remained intact and that the pupil did not die in the meantime. The etheric body was then liberated from the forces of the physical body which act upon it. It had become elastic and plastic and when the sensory organs that had been formed in the astral body sank down into it, the etheric body received an imprint from the whole astral body. When the pupil was returned to a normal condition by the hierophant, when the astral body and ego were again united with the physical and etheric bodies -- a procedure which the hierophant well understood -- then not only did he experience katharsis, but also what is called 'illumination' or photismos. The pupil then perceived not just all those things that were physically perceptible in the world around him, but he could employ his spiritual organs of perception to see and perceive the spiritual element. Initiation consisted essentially of these two processes, purification or purging, and illumination.

Then the course of human evolution entered a phase in which it gradually became impossible to draw the etheric body out of the physical body without a very great disturbance in all its functions, because the whole tendency of post-Atlantean evolution was to cause the etheric body to be attached closer and closer to the physical body. It was consequently necessary to undertake other methods of initiation which proceeded in such a manner that the astral body, having become sufficiently developed through katharsis and able to return again to the physical and etheric bodies by itself, was able to imprint its organs on the etheric body without the separation of the physical and ether bodies and in spite of the hindrance of the physical body. What had to happen was that stronger forces had to become active in meditation and concentration in order that the astral body could contain the strong impulse for overcoming the power of resistance of the physical body. In the first place, there was the actual specifically Christian initiation in which it was necessary for the pupil to undergo the procedure which has been described as the seven steps. When he had undergone these feelings and experiences, his astral body had been so intensely affected that it formed its organs of perception plastically -- something that might take years, but would happen sooner or later -- and then impressed them upon the etheric body, thus turning the pupil into one of the illuminati. This kind of specifically Christian initiation could only be described fully if I were able to give daily lectures about its particular aspects for about a fortnight instead of only for a few days. But that is not the important thing. You were given certain details about the Christian initiation. We only need to understand its principles.

The seven stages of Christian initiation are the washing of the feet, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, the mystical death on the cross, the burial, and the ascension.

-- The Christian Mystery: Lectures, by Rudolf Steiner

By continually meditating upon passages of the Gospel of St John, the Christian pupil is actually able to achieve initiation without the three and a half day period of lethargic sleep. If each day he allows the first verses of the Gospel of St John, from 'In the beginning was the Word' to the passage 'full of devotion and truth', to work upon him, they become an exceedingly significant meditation. They have a force within them, for this Gospel is not there simply to be read and understood in its entirety with the intellect, but it must be inwardly fully experienced and felt. It is a force which assists initiation and works for it. Then the 'washing of the feet', the 'scourging' and other inner processes will be experienced as astral visions, wholly corresponding to the description in the Gospel itself, beginning with the thirteenth chapter.

The Rosicrucian initiation, although resting upon a Christian foundation, works more with other symbolic ideas which produce katharsis, chiefly with imaginative pictures. That is another modification which had to be used, because humankind had progressed a step further in its evolution and the methods of initiation must conform to what has gradually evolved. We must understand that when a person has attained initiation, he is fundamentally quite different from the person he was before. While formerly he was only associated with the things of the physical world, he now acquires the possibility of association with the events and beings of the spiritual world as well. This presupposes that the human being acquires knowledge in a much more real sense than in that abstract, dry, prosaic sense in which we usually speak of knowledge. For a person who acquires spiritual knowledge finds the process to be something quite different. It is a complete realization of that beautiful expression, 'know yourself'.

But the most dangerous thing in the realm of knowledge is to understand these words wrongly, something which happens all too frequently today. Many people construe these words to mean that they should no longer look at the physical world, but should gaze into their own inner being and seek there for everything spiritual. This is a very mistaken understanding of the saying, for that is not at all what it means. We must clearly understand that true higher knowledge is also an evolution from one perspective which the human being had attained to another which he had not previously reached. If a person practises self-knowledge only by brooding upon himself, he sees only what he already possesses. He thereby acquires nothing new, but only knowledge of his own lower self in the present meaning of the word. This inner nature is only one part of what is necessary for knowledge. The other part that is necessary must be added. Without the two parts, there is no real knowledge.

By means of his inner nature, he can develop organs through which he can gain knowledge. But just as the eye, as an external sense organ, would not perceive the sun by gazing into itself, but only by looking outwards at the sun, so must the inner organs of perception gaze outwards, in other words, gaze into the external spiritual world in order actually to perceive something. The term 'knowledge' had a much deeper, more real meaning in those ages when spiritual things were better understood than at present. Read in the Bible the words' Abraham knew his wife' or this or that patriarch 'knew his wife'. One does not need to seek very far in order to understand that this expression referred to fertilization. When we consider the words 'know yourself', they do not mean in the Greek that you stare into your own inner being, but that you fertilize yourself with what streams into you from the spiritual world. 'Know yourself' means: fertilize yourself with the content of the spiritual world!

Two things are needed for this, namely, that the human being prepare himself through katharsis and illumination, and then that he open his inner being freely to the spiritual world. In this connection we may compare his inner nature to the female aspect, the outer spiritual element to the male. The inner being must be made capable of receiving the higher self. When this has happened, the higher human self streams into the human being from the spiritual world. We may ask where this higher human self is located. Is it within the person of the human being? No, it is not there. On Saturn, Sun and Moon the higher self was diffused over the entire cosmos. [20] At that time the cosmic ego was spread out over all humankind, but now human beings have to permit it to work upon them. They must permit this ego to work on their previously prepared inner natures. This means that the human inner nature, in other words the astral body, has to be cleansed, purified and ennobled, and subjected to katharsis. Then a person may expect that the external spirit will stream into him for his illumination. That will occur when the human being has been so well prepared that he has subjected his astral body to katharsis, thereby developing his inner organs of perception. The astral body, in any case, has progressed so far that now when it dips down into the etheric and physical bodies illumination or photismos results.

What actually occurs is that the astral body imprints its organs upon the etheric body, making it possible for the human being to perceive a spiritual world about him, making it possible for his inner being, the astral body, to receive what the etheric body is able to offer to it, what the etheric body draws out of the entire cosmos, out of the cosmic ego.

This cleansed, purified astral body, which bears within it at the moment of illumination none of the impure impressions of the physical world, but only the organs of perception of the spiritual world, is called the 'pure, chaste, wise Virgin Sophia' in esoteric Christianity. By means of all that he receives during katharsis, the pupil cleanses and purifies his astral body so that it is transformed into the Virgin Sophia. And when the Virgin Sophia encounters the cosmic ego, the universal ego that brings about illumination, the pupil is surrounded by light, spiritual light. This second power that approaches the Virgin Sophia is called -- even today still -- the 'Holy Spirit' in esoteric Christianity. Therefore according to esoteric Christianity, it is correct to say that through his processes of initiation the Christian esotericist attains the purification and cleansing of his astral body; he makes his astral body into the Virgin Sophia and is illuminated from above -- if you wish, you may call it overshadowed -- by the Holy Spirit, by the cosmic, universal ego. And a person thus illuminated, who according to esoteric Christianity has received the Holy Spirit into himself, speaks in a different manner from that moment on. How does he speak? When he speaks about Saturn, Sun and Moon, about the different elements of the human being, about the processes of cosmic evolution, he is not expressing his own opinion. His views do not at all come into consideration. When such a person speaks about Saturn, it is Saturn itself that is speaking through him. When he speaks about the Sun, the spiritual being of the Sun speaks through him.

He is the instrument. His personal ego has been eclipsed, which means that at such moments it has become impersonal and it is the cosmic universal ego that is using his ego as its instrument through which to speak.
Therefore, in true esoteric teaching which proceeds from esoteric Christianity, one should not speak of views or opinions, for in the highest sense of the word this is incorrect; there are no such things. According to esoteric Christianity, whoever speaks with the right attitude of mind with regard to the world will tell himself, for instance: 'If I tell people that there were two horses outside, the important thing is not that one of them pleases me less than the other and that I think one is a worthless horse. The important point is that I describe the horses to the others and give the facts. Similarly, what has been observed in the spiritual worlds must be described irrespective of all personal opinions. In every system of teaching based on spiritual science, only the facts must be related and this must have nothing to do with the opinions of the person who relates them.'

Thus we have become familiar with two concepts and their spiritual significance. We have learned to know the nature of the Virgin Sophia, which is the purified astral body, and the nature of the Holy Spirit, the cosmic universal ego, which is received by the Virgin Sophia and which can then speak out of this purified astral body. There is something else to be attained, a still higher stage, which is the ability to help someone else, the ability to give another person the impulse to accomplish both of these steps. Human beings in our period of evolution can receive the Virgin Sophia (the purified astral body) and the Holy Spirit (illumination) in the manner described, but only Jesus Christ could give to the earth what was necessary in order for that to happen. He implanted in the spiritual part of the earth those forces which make it possible for that to happen at all which has been described in the Christian initiation. You may ask how this came about.

Two things are necessary for an understanding of this. First we must make ourselves acquainted with something purely historical, that is, with the manner in which names were given, which was quite different in the age in which the Gospels were written to the way in which it is done today.

Those who interpret the Gospels today do not understand the principle of giving names at the time the Gospels were written at all, and therefore they do not say what they should. It is, in fact, exceedingly difficult to describe the principle of giving names at that time, yet we can make it comprehensible, even though we only indicate it in rough outlines. Let us suppose when we meet someone that instead of holding to the name which does not fit him at all, and which has been given to him in the abstract way customary today, we were to pay attention to and notice his most distinguishing characteristics, were to notice the most prominent attribute of his character and were in a position to discern clairvoyantly the deeper foundations of his being; and that then we were to give him his name in accordance with those most important qualities which we believe should be attributed to him. Were we to follow such a method of giving names, we should be doing something, at a lower, more elementary stage, similar to what was done at the time by those who gave names in the manner of the writer of the Gospel of St John. In order to make very clear his manner of giving names, let us consider the following.

The author of the St John's Gospel regarded the physical, historical mother of Jesus in her most prominent characteristics and asked himself: 'Where shall I find a name for her which will express most perfectly her real being?' Then, because through her earlier incarnations she had reached those spiritual heights upon which she stood; and because she appeared in her external personality to be a counterpart, a revelation of what was called in esoteric Christianity the Virgin Sophia, he called the mother of Jesus the 'Virgin Sophia'; and this is what she was always called in the esoteric places where esoteric Christianity was taught. Exoterically he leaves her entirely unnamed in contrast to those others who chose for her the secular name Mary. He could not use the secular name; he had to express in the name the profound, world historic evolution. He does this by indicating that she cannot be called Mary and, what is more, he places by her side her sister Mary, wife of Cleophas, and calls her simply the 'mother of Jesus'. He shows thereby that he does not wish to mention her name, that it cannot be publicly revealed. In esoteric circles, she is always called the Virgin Sophia. It was she who represented the Virgin Sophia as an external historical personality.

If we now wish to penetrate further into the nature of Christianity and its founder, we must consider yet another mystery. We should understand clearly how to make a distinction between the personality who, in esoteric Christianity, was called Jesus of Nazareth and him who was called Jesus Christ, the Christ dwelling within Jesus of Nazareth.

Now what does this mean? It means that in the historical personality of Jesus of Nazareth we are dealing with a highly developed human being who had passed through many incarnations and after a cycle of high development was again reincarnated
-- a person who, because of this, was attracted to a mother so pure that the writer of the Gospel could call her the 'Virgin Sophia'. Thus we are dealing with a highly developed human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who had progressed far in his evolution in his previous incarnations and in this incarnation had entered upon a highly spiritual stage. The other evangelists were not illuminated to such a high degree as the writer of this Gospel. It was more the actual world of the senses that was revealed to them, a world in which they saw their master and Messiah moving about as Jesus of Nazareth. The mysterious spiritual relationships, at least those at heights into which the writer of the Gospel of St John could peer, were concealed from them.

For this reason they laid special emphasis upon the fact that in Jesus of Nazareth lived the Father, who had always existed in Judaism and was transmitted down through the generations as the God of the Jews. And they expressed this when they said: 'If we trace back the ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth through generation after generation, we are able to prove that the same blood flows in him that has flowed down through these generations.' The evangelists give the genealogical tables and use them to show the different stages of evolution at which they stand. For Matthew, the important thing is to show that in Jesus of Nazareth we have a person in whom Father Abraham is living. The blood of Father Abraham has flowed down through the generations as far as Jesus. He thus traces the genealogical tables back to Abraham. He has a more materialistic point of view than Luke.

The important thing for Luke was not only to show that the God who lived in Abraham was present in Jesus, but that the ancestry, the line of descent, can be traced back still further, even to Adam and that Adam was a son of the Godhead itself, which means that he belonged to the time when humanity had just made the transition from a spiritual to a physical state. Both Matthew and Luke wished to show that the earthly Jesus of Nazareth had his being only in what can be traced back to the divine Father-power.

This was not a matter of importance for the writer of the Gospel of St John who could gaze into the spiritual world. The important thing for him was not the words 'I and Father Abraham are one', but that at every moment of time there exists in the human being an eternal element which was present in him before Father Abraham. This is what he wished to show. In the beginning was the Word which is called the 'I AM'. Before all external things and beings, he was. He was in the beginning. For those who wished rather to describe Jesus of Nazareth, and were only able to describe him, it was a question of showing how from the beginning the blood flowed down through the generations. It was important to them to show that the same blood flowing down through the generations flowed also in Joseph, the father of Jesus.

If we could speak quite esoterically, it would naturally be necessary to speak of the idea of the so-called 'virgin birth', but this can be discussed only in the most intimate circles. It belongs to the deepest mysteries that exist and the misunderstanding connected with this idea arises because people do not know what is meant by the 'virgin birth'. They think that it means there was no fatherhood. But it is not that; a much more profound, a more mysterious something lies at the back of it which is quite compatible with what the other disciples wish to show, that is, that Joseph is the father of Jesus. If they were to deny this, then all the trouble they take to show this to be a fact would be meaningless. They wish to show that the ancient God exists in Jesus of Nazareth. Luke especially wished to make this very clear, therefore he traces the whole ancestry back to Adam and then to God. How could he have come to this conclusion, if he really wished only to say: 'I am showing you that this genealogical tree exists, but Joseph, as a matter of fact, had nothing to do with it.' It would be very strange if people were to take the trouble to represent Joseph as a very important personality and then were to push him aside out of the whole affair.

In the event in Palestine, we are dealing not only with this highly developed personality, Jesus of Nazareth, who had passed through many incarnations and had developed himself so highly that he needed such an extraordinary mother as the Virgin Sophia, but we are also dealing with a second mystery. When Jesus of Nazareth was 30 years of age, he had advanced to such a stage through what he had experienced in his present incarnation that he could perform an action which it is possible for a person to perform in exceptional cases. We know that the human being consists of physical, etheric and astral bodies and an ego. This fourfold human being is the human being as he lives here among us. If a person stands at a certain high stage of evolution, it is possible for him at a particular moment to draw out his ego from the three bodies and abandon them, leaving them intact and entirely uninjured. This ego then goes into the spiritual worlds and the three bodies remain behind. We meet this process at times in cosmic evolution. At some especially exalted, enraptured moment, the ego of a person departs and enters into the spirit world -- under certain conditions this can be extended over a long period -- and because the three bodies are so highly developed by the ego that lived in them, they are fit instruments for a still higher being who now takes possession of them. In the thirtieth year of Jesus of Nazareth, that being whom we have called Christ took possession of his physical, etheric and astral bodies. This Christ being could not incarnate in an ordinary child's body, but only in one which had first been prepared by a highly developed ego, for this Christ being had never before been incarnated in a physical body. Therefore from the thirtieth year on, we are dealing with Christ in Jesus of Nazareth.

What in reality took place? The fact is that the body of Jesus of Nazareth, which he had left behind, was so mature, so perfect, that the sun Logos, the being of the six Elohim who are the spiritual being of the sun, was able to penetrate into it. It could incarnate for three years in this body, could become flesh. The sun Logos who can shine into human beings through illumination, the sun Logos himself, the Holy Spirit, entered. The universal ego, the cosmic ego, entered and from then on for three years the sun Logos spoke through the body of Jesus.

The Christ speaks through the body of Jesus during these three years. This event is indicated in the Gospel of St John and also in the other Gospels as the descent of the dove, of the Holy Spirit, upon Jesus of Nazareth. In esoteric Christianity it is said that at that moment the ego of Jesus of Nazareth left his body, and that from then on the Christ is in him, speaking through him in order to teach and work. This is the first event that happens, according to the Gospel of St John. We now have the Christ within the astral, etheric and physical bodies of Jesus of Nazareth. There he worked as has been described until the Mystery of Golgotha occurred.

What occurred on Golgotha? Let us consider that important moment when the blood flowed from the wounds of the crucified Saviour. In order that you may understand me better, I shall compare what occurred with something else.

Let us suppose we have a vessel filled with water. Salt is dissolved in the water and the water becomes quite transparent. Because we have warmed the water, we have made a salt solution. Now let us cool the water. The salt precipitates and we see how the salt condenses below and forms a deposit at the bottom of the vessel. That is the process for someone who sees only with physical eyes. But for a person who can see with spiritual eyes, something else is happening. While the salt is condensing below, the spirit of the salt streams up through the water, filling it. The salt can only become condensed when the spirit of the salt has departed from it and become diffused into the water. Those who understand these things know that wherever condensation takes place, a spiritualization also always occurs. What thus condenses below has its counterpart above in the spiritual element, just as in the case of the salt, when it condenses and is precipitated below, its spirit streams upwards and dissipates. Therefore, it was not only a physical process that took place when the blood flowed from the wounds of the Saviour, but it was actually accompanied by a spiritual process; that is, the Holy Spirit, which was received at the baptism, united itself with the earth -- Christ himself flowed into the very being of the earth. From now on, the earth was changed, and this is the reason for saying to you in previous lectures that if a person had viewed the earth from a distant star, he would have observed that its whole appearance was altered with the Mystery of Golgotha. The sun Logos became a part of the earth, formed an alliance with it and became the spirit of the earth. This he achieved by entering into the body of Jesus of Nazareth in his thirtieth year, and by remaining active there for three years, after which he continued to remain on the earth.

Now the important thing is that this event must produce an effect upon the true Christian; that it must give something by which he may gradually develop the beginnings of a purified astral body in the Christian sense. There had to be something there for the Christian whereby he could make his astral body gradually more and more like a Virgin Sophia, and through it receive into himself the Holy Spirit which was able to spread out over the entire earth, but which could not be received by anyone whose astral body did not resemble the Virgin Sophia. There had to be something which possessed the power to transform the human astral body into a Virgin Sophia. What is this power? It consists of Jesus Christ entrusting to the disciple whom he loved -- in other words to the writer of the Gospel of St John -- the mission of describing truly and faithfully through his own illumination the events in Palestine in order that human beings might be affected by them.

If human beings permit what is written in the Gospel of St John to have a sufficient effect on them, their astral body will become a Virgin Sophia and it will become receptive to the Holy Spirit.
Gradually, through the strength of the impulse which comes from this Gospel, the astral body will become capable of feeling the true spirit and later of perceiving it. This mission was given to the writer of the Gospel by Jesus Christ. You need only to read the Gospel. The mother of Jesus -- the Virgin Sophia in the esoteric meaning of Christianity -- stands at the foot of the cross and from the cross Christ says to the disciple whom he loved: 'Henceforth, this is your mother' and from this hour the disciple took her unto himself. This means: 'That force which was in my astral body and made it capable of becoming bearer of the Holy Spirit I now give over to you; you shall write down what this astral body has been capable of acquiring through its development.' 'And the disciple took her unto himself' means that he wrote the Gospel of St John. And this Gospel of St John is the Gospel in which the writer has concealed powers that develop the Virgin Sophia. At the cross the mission was entrusted to him of receiving that force as his mother and of being the true, genuine interpreter of the Messiah.

This really means that if you live wholly in accordance with the Gospel of St John and understand it spiritually, it has the force to lead you to Christian katharsis, it has the power to give you the Virgin Sophia. Then the Holy Spirit, united with the earth, will grant you illumination or photismos according to the Christian meaning. And what the closest disciples experienced there in Palestine was so powerful that from that time on they possessed at least the capacity of perception in the spiritual world. The closest disciples had received this capacity into themselves. Perceiving in the spirit in the Christian sense means that the person transforms his astral body to such a degree through the power of the event in Palestine that what he sees need not be before him externally and accessible to the physical senses. He possesses something by means of which he can perceive in the spirit.

There were such close pupils. The woman who anointed the feet of Jesus Christ in Bethany had received through the event in Palestine the powerful force needed for spiritual perception, and she is, for example, one of those who first understood that what had lived in Jesus was present after his death, that is, had been resurrected. She possessed this faculty. We might ask how she developed this capacity. It came through the development of her inner sense organs. Are we told this in the Gospel? We are indeed; we are told that Mary Magdalene was led to the grave, that the body had disappeared and that she saw there two spiritual forms. These two spiritual forms are always to be seen when a corpse is present for a certain time after death. On the one side the astral body is seen and, on the other, what gradually separates from it as etheric body, then passing over into the cosmic ether. Quite separate from the physical body there are two spiritual forms present which belong to the spiritual world.

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre and seeth two angels in white sitting.

She saw this because she had become clairvoyant through the force and power of the event in Palestine. And she saw something else: she saw the risen Christ. Was it necessary for her to be clairvoyant to be able to see Christ? If you have seen a person in physical form a few days ago, do you not think you would recognize him again if he appeared before you?

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing it to be the gardener ...

And in order that it might be told to us as precisely as possible, it was not only said once, but again at the next appearance of the risen Christ, when Jesus appeared at the Sea of Gennesareth.

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

The esoteric pupils find him there. Those who had received the full force of the event in Palestine could grasp the situation and see that it was the risen Jesus who could be perceived spiritually. Although the disciples and Mary Magdalene saw him, there were some among them who were less able to develop clairvoyant power. One of these was Thomas. It is said that he was not present the first time the disciples saw the Lord, and he declared he would have to lay his hands in his wounds, he would have to touch physically the body of the risen Christ. What happened? The effort was then made to assist him to develop spiritual perception. And how was this done? Let us take the words of the Gospel itself:

And after a week his disciples were again within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus the doors being shut, and stood in their midst, and said, peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy fingers and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And thou shalt behold something if thou dost not rely upon the outer appearance, but art impregnated with inner power.

This inner power which should proceed from the event in Palestine is called 'faith'. It is no ordinary force but an inner clairvoyant power. 'Permeate thyself with inner power, then thou needest no longer hold as real that only which thou seest externally; for blessed are they who are able to know what they do not see outwardly!'

Thus we see that we are dealing with the full reality and truth of the Resurrection and that only those are fully able to understand it who have first developed the inner power to perceive in the spirit world. This will make the last chapter of the Gospel of St John comprehensible to you, in which again and again it is pointed out that the closest followers of Jesus Christ have reached the stage of the Virgin Sophia, because the event of Golgotha had been consummated in their presence. But when they had to stand firm for the first time, had actually to behold a spiritual event, they were still blinded and had first to find their way. They did not know that he was the same one who had earlier been among them. Here is something which we must understand with the most subtle concepts; for the grossly materialistic person would say: 'Then the resurrection is undermined!' The miracle of the resurrection is to be taken quite literally, for he said: 'Lo, I remain with you always, even unto the end of the age, unto the end of the cosmic age.'

He is there and will come again, although not in a form of flesh, but in a form in which those who have been sufficiently developed through the power of the Gospel of St John can actually perceive him; and possessing the power to perceive him, they will no longer be unbelieving. The mission of the movement connected with the science of the spirit is to prepare those who have the will to allow themselves to be prepared for the return of Christ upon earth. [21] This is the cosmic and historical significance of spiritual science, to prepare mankind and to keep its eyes open for the time when the Christ will appear again actively among human beings in the sixth cultural epoch, in order that the thing may be accomplished for a great part of humanity which was indicated to us in the marriage at Cana. Therefore the world view obtained from the science of the spirit appears like the execution of the testament of Christianity. In order to be lead to real Christianity, human beings in the future will have to receive that spiritual teaching which spiritual science is able to give. Many people may still say today that spiritual science is something that really contradicts true Christianity. But those are the little popes who form opinions about things of which they know nothing and who turn them into a dogma: 'What I do not know does not exist.' This intolerance will become greater and greater in the future and Christianity will experience the greatest danger precisely from those people who at present believe they can be called good Christians.

The Christianity of spiritual science will experience serious attacks from the Christians in name, for all concepts must change if a true spiritual understanding of Christianity is to arise. Above all, the soul must become more and more conversant with and understanding of the legacy of the writer of the Gospel of St John, the great school of the Virgin Sophia, the Gospel of John itself. Only spiritual science can lead us deeper into this Gospel.

In these lectures, only examples could be given showing how spiritual science can introduce us to the Gospel of St John, for it is impossible to explain the whole of it. We read in the Gospel itself:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did; and I suppose that were they all written down one after the other, the world could not contain all the books that would have to be written.

Just as the Gospel itself cannot go into all the details of the event in Palestine, so too is it impossible for even the longest course of lectures to present the full spiritual content of the Gospel. Therefore we must be satisfied with those indications which could be given at this time; we must content ourselves with the thought that through just such indications in the course of human evolution the true testament of Christianity becomes executed. Let us allow all this to have such an effect upon us that we may possess the power to adhere to the foundation which we recognize in the Gospel of St John, when others come to us and say: 'You are giving us too complicated concepts, too many concepts which we must first make our own in order to comprehend this Gospel; the Gospel is for the simple and naive, and one dare not approach them with many concepts and thoughts.' Many people say this today. They perhaps refer to another saying: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' It is easy to quote such a saying as long as one does not understand it, for it really says: 'Blessed are the beggars in spirit, for they shall reach the kingdom of heaven within themselves.' This means that those who are like beggars of the spirit, who desire to receive more and more of the spirit, will find in themselves the kingdom of heaven!

At the present time, the idea is all too prevalent that everything religious is identical with all that is primitive and simple. People say: 'We acknowledge that science possesses many and complicated ideas, but we do not grant the same to faith and religion.' Faith and religion -- so many 'Christians' say -- must be simple and naive! They demand this. And many rely upon a conception which is little quoted perhaps, but which in the present is haunting the minds of people and which Voltaire, one of the great teachers of materialism, expressed in the words: 'Whoever wishes to be a prophet must find believers, for what he asserts must be believed and only what is simple, what is always repeated in its simplicity, that alone finds believers.' This is often so with the prophets, both true and false. They take the trouble to say something and to repeat it again and again and the people learn to believe it, because it is constantly repeated. The representative of spiritual science does not want to be such a prophet. He does not wish to be a prophet at all. It may often be said: 'Yes, you do not just repeat, but you are always elucidating things from other angles, you are always discussing them in other ways.' But when they tell him that, he is not guilty of any fault. A prophet wants people to believe in him. Spiritual science has no desire to lead to belief, but to knowledge. Therefore let us take Voltaire's statement in another way. He says: 'What is simple is believed and is the concern of the prophet.' Spiritual science says: What is complex is known. Let us try to understand more and more that spiritual science is something that is complex -- not a creed, but a path to knowledge, and consequently it bears within it the complex. Therefore let us not shrink from collecting a great deal in order that we may understand one of the most important Christian documents, the Gospel of St John. We have attempted to assemble the most varied material which places us in the position of being able to understand more and more the profound truths of this Gospel; able to understand how the physical mother of Jesus was an external manifestation, an external image of the Virgin Sophia; to understand what spiritual importance the Virgin Sophia had for the pupil of the Mysteries whom the Christ loved.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:47 am

4. The Search for the New Isis

In these final lectures, Rudolf Steiner turns more and more to the inner struggles which we need to win if we are to restore the image of the Goddess to her cosmic meaning. That would be to bring a return of the Mysteries to the modern world. But if it is to be achieved we ourselves must learn to transcend any kind of narrow thinking, such as is treated with such irony below. We need a kind of thinking that is in touch with the great rhythms of history, and sensitive to the changing needs of humanity, if the new wisdom goddess Isis is to be able to communicate to us her secrets. The abstract, power-seeking consciousness (traditionally 'Lucifer') must be overcome so that she cannot be killed anew as her consort Osiris was once killed in the ancient myths. She must rise to new life, unless we are to find ourselves trapped by the other negative force, called here 'Ahriman', who would deny the living spirit altogether. Rudolf Steiner represented the inner struggle in his powerful wood-carved statue (now in Dornach), behind which he wanted us to discern the form of the goddess as she may become in the future, the new Isis or Isis-Sophia.

The renewal of the Mysteries

In mythology, Osiris was regarded as a primeval ruler of Egypt who brought the Egyptians the most important of their arts, who ruled in Egypt throughout long ages, who also travelled from Egypt into other lands, and not by the sword but by persuasion brought them the benefits of the arts taught in Egypt. During his absence on journeys, as he conferred on other lands the benefits with which he had instructed the Egyptians, Typhon, his wicked brother, introduced innovations into his own land of Egypt. And then when Osiris returned he was slain by Typhon despite the watchfulness of his consort Isis.

Then Isis sought everywhere for Osiris. Through boys -- so the legend says -- it was revealed to her that the coffin had been carried away by the sea; she discovered it in Byblos in Phoenicia and brought it back to Egypt. Typhon cut up the corpse into 14 pieces. Isis collected the pieces; with the use of spices and by other means she was able to give each piece the appearance of Osiris again. She then persuaded the priests to accept a third of the land from her, and by being in possession of a third of the land on the one hand, they should keep the grave of Osiris secret, and on the other hand introduce the Osiris cult -- a service in remembrance of the ancient time of Osirian -- to keep the memory alive that there had once been a different perception in humanity. This memory was to be preserved from that time on and all sorts of secrets surrounded it. The time in which Typhon had slain Osiris was indicated to be the time in the November days of autumn when the sun sets in the seventeenth degree of Scorpio, and opposite in Taurus the moon appears in the Pleiades as the full moon. Then it was related that Osiris once more went from the underworld, where he ruled over the dead and judged them, to the upperworld in order to instruct his son Horus, whom he had had by Isis. It is further related by the legend that Isis let herself be induced to set free Typhon, whom she had held imprisoned. Her son Horus, instructed by Osiris, grew so angry at this that he came in conflict with Isis his mother and seized the crown from her. Then it is related that either he himself or, in other versions, Hermes set cow-horns upon her head in place of the crown, and since then she has been portrayed with these.

Now you see Isis in ancient Egyptian myths standing there at the side of Osiris. And for the feeling of the ancient Egyptians she was not only a mysterious deity, a mysterious spiritual being who stood in inner relation with the way that the world was ordered, but one could say that Isis was the epitome of all the deepest thoughts the Egyptians were able to form about the archetypal forces working in nature and in human beings. If the Egyptian was to look up to the great mysteries in his surroundings, then he had to look up to Isis who had a statue in the temple at Sais which has become famous. Beneath this statue, as is well known, was written the inscription that was intended to express the being of Isis: 'I am the All, I am the Past, the Present and the Future. No mortal has yet lifted my veil.'

That was a central idea particularly in the later period of the Egyptian civilization. And in gazing at the Mysteries of Isis, a person remembered the other Mysteries of the ancient time of Osiris. And in connection with Isis, at the sight of whom the pious Egyptian trembled when he let the words work upon him, 'I am the All, I am the Past, the Present and the Future. No mortal has yet lifted my veil, -- when these words worked upon him the Egyptian remembered at the same time that Isis was once united with Osiris when he still wandered upon the earth. The laity saw it as a legend. In the Mysteries, the priests explained that the ancient period of Osiris was the time in which the old clairvoyance united human beings with the spirit of nature all about him.

Rudolf Steiner's wood-sculpture The Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman, shows the human struggle to find inner balance and conviction through spiritual aspiration. This involves battling against both outer ('Ahrimanic') and inner ('Luciferic') forces. Although so modern in feeling, the Group bears resemblance to representations in the ancient Mysteries and, as Rudolf Steiner reveals, hints at the renewal of the Isis Mystery in a form for today.

For an understanding of the Osiris-Isis legend or myth in our time, one must view it with the feelings that were in the soul and in the heart of an Egyptian. We did so in a brief characteristic outline to begin with. And through these characteristics we must view with our soul what once sounded over from ancient times into more recent times, which lost its meaning through the Mystery of Golgotha, but the riddle of which must be revealed again today -- precisely for the better understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. There must stand before our soul's gaze all the mystery that at first could only be divined when the Egyptian experienced the words that described Isis: 'I am the All, I am the Past, the Present and the Future. No mortal has yet lifted my veil.' For, my dear friends, we will contrast this Osiris-Isis myth with quite another Osiris-Isis myth. And in telling about this other Osiris-Isis myth I must count upon your freedom from prejudice, your impartiality in the highest degree, so that you do not misunderstand it. This other Osiris-Isis myth is in no way born out of foolish arrogance, it is born in humility; it is also of such a nature that perhaps it can only be related today in a most imperfect way. But I will try to characterize its main points in a few words. It is in the first instance left to each person to determine the period in which this Osiris-Isis myth, which I can only relate today approximately, even superficially, will be told. But, as I said, I will try to tell this other Osiris-Isis myth disregarding as much as possible many prejudices and calling upon your unbiased understanding. This other Osiris-Isis myth, then, roughly goes as follows. It was in the age of profound scientific knowledge, in the country of Vulgaria. Upon a hill in spiritual seclusion was erected a building which was considered to be very remarkable in the country of Vulgaria.

(I should just like to say that the future commentator here adds a remark that 'the country of Vulgaria' does not refer just to the immediate vicinity. [22]

If one wanted to use the language of Goethe one could say that the building represented an 'open secret'. For the building was closed to none, it was open to all, and in fact everyone could see it at convenient times. But by far the greatest number of people saw nothing at all. By far the greatest number of people saw neither what was built nor what it represented. By far the greatest number of people stood -- to use Goethe's words again -- before an 'open secret', a completely open secret.

A statue was intended to be the focus of the building. This statue showed a group of beings: the Representative of Humanity, then luciferic and ahrimanic figures. People looked at the statue and did not know in the age of profound scientific knowledge in the country Vulgaria that the statue, in fact, was only the veil for an invisible statue. But the invisible statue was not noticed by people, for it was the new Isis, the Isis of a new age.

Some few people in the country of profound scientific knowledge had once heard of this remarkable connection between what was visible and what was, in the image of Isis, concealed behind what was open and evident. And then in their profound allegorical and symbolical manner of speech they asserted that this combination of the Representative of Humanity with Lucifer and Ahriman signified Isis. With this word 'signified', however, they not only ruined the artistic intention underlying the whole thing -- for an artistic creation does not merely signify something but is something -- but they completely misunderstood all that underlay it. For it was completely off the point to say that the figures signified something; they already were what they appeared to be. And behind the figures was not an abstract new Isis, but an actual, real new Isis. The figures 'signified' nothing at all, but they were, in fact, in themselves that which they made themselves out to be. But they possessed the peculiar feature that behind them there was a real being, the new Isis.

Some few who in special circumstances, in special moments, had nevertheless seen this new Isis, found that she is asleep. And so we can say that the real underlying statue that conceals itself behind the external statue is the sleeping new Isis; a sleeping figure -- visible -- but seen by few. Many people then turned in special moments to the inscription which is plainly there at the spot where the statue stands as it is being worked on, but which has been read by few. And yet the inscription is clearly written there, just as clearly as the inscription was once written on the veiled form at Sais. In fact this inscription is written there: 'I am the Human Being, I am the Past, the Present and the Future. Every mortal should lift my veil.'

Another person, a visitor, once approached the sleeping figure of the new Isis, and then again and again. And the sleeping Isis considered this visitor her special benefactor and loved him. And one day she believed in a particular illusion, just as the visitor believed one day in a particular illusion: the new Isis had a child -- and she considered the visitor whom she looked on as her benefactor to be the father. He regarded himself as the father, but he was not. The spirit visitor, who was none other than the new Typhon, believed that he could acquire a special increase of his power in the world if he took possession of the new Isis. So the new Isis had a child, but she did not know its nature, she knew nothing of the being of this new child. And she moved it about, she dragged it far off to other countries, because she believed that she must do so. She trailed the new child about, and since she had trailed and dragged it through various regions of the world it fell to pieces into 14 parts through the very power of the world.

Thus the new Isis had carried her child into the world and the world had dismembered it in 14 pieces. When the spirit visitor, the new Typhon, learnt about this, he gathered together the 14 pieces, and with all the profound knowledge of natural science he again made a being, a single whole, out of the 14 pieces. But this being contained only mechanical laws, the laws of the machine. Thus a being had arisen with the appearance of life, but with the laws of the machine. And since this being had arisen out of 14 pieces, it could reproduce itself again, fourteenfold. And Typhon could give a reflection of his own being to each piece so that each of the 14 children of the new Isis had a countenance that resembled the new Typhon.

And Isis watched this strange affair; she could see the complete miraculous change that had come to her child. She knew that she had herself dragged it about, that she had herself brought all this to pass. But there came a day when in its true, its genuine form she could accept it again from a group of spirits who were elemental spirits of nature; she could receive it from nature elementals.

As she received her true child, which had been turned into the child of Typhon only through an illusion, there dawned upon her a remarkable clairvoyant vision: she suddenly noticed that she still had the cow horns of ancient Egypt, in spite of having become a new Isis.

And when she had thus become clairvoyant, the power of her clairvoyance summoned some say Typhon himself, some say Mercury. And he was obliged through the power of the clairvoyance of the new Isis to set a crown on her head in the place where once the old Isis had the crown which Horus had seized from her, that is to say, on the spot where she developed the cow horns. But this crown was merely of paper, covered with all sorts of writings of a profoundly scientific nature, but nevertheless of paper. And she now had two crowns on her head, the cow horns and the paper crown embellished with all the wisdom of profound scientific knowledge.

Through the strength of her clairvoyance there one day arose in her the deep meaning, to the extent that it was accessible in that age, of that which is described in St John's Gospel as the Logos. There arose in her the Johannine significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. Through this strength, the power of the cow horns grasped the paper crown and changed it into an actual golden crown of genuine substance.

These, then, are the main points, my dear friends, that can be told of the new Osiris-Isis legend. I will not, of course, make myself the commentator who explains this Osiris-Isis legend. It is the other Osiris-Isis legend. But it must set one thing definitely before our souls: even though the power of action which is connected with the new Isis statue is only weak, exploring and full of endeavour, it is the beginning of something that is deeply justified in the impulses of the modern age, deeply justified in what this age is meant to become and must become.

In recent days we have spoken of how the Word has withdrawn from the direct soul-experience from which it originally flowed as from a spring. We have seen how we live in the age of abstractions, where people's words and concepts have only an abstract meaning, where human beings stand far removed from reality. The power of the Word, the power of the Logos, however, must be captured again. The cow horns of the ancient Isis must take on quite a different form.

It is difficult to say such things in modern abstract words. For such things it is better to try to set them before the soul's eye in such imaginations as have been set before you, and to work with these imaginations as imaginations. It is very important for the new Isis to transform the cow horns through the power of the Word which is to be regained through the science of the spirit, so that even the paper crown which has upon it the writing of the new deeply profound scientific method will become a genuine golden crown.

The modern Isis, the divine Sophia

I once pointed out that the great Kepler, the successor of Copernicus, had a feeling that his solar and planetary system repeated -- of course in a way suited to the fifth cultural epoch -- what was contained in the world view of the Egyptian Mysteries. [23] Kepler expressed this in a certain context in very radical terms when he said that he had borrowed the vessels of the ancient Egyptian teachers of wisdom and carried them over into our modern times. Today, however, we will consider something which had a central place in the cults performed by the Egyptian Mystery priests -- the Isis Mysteries. In order to call up before our minds the spiritual connection between the Isis Mystery and that which lives in Christianity, we need only cast our eyes upon Raphael's famous picture of the Sistine Madonna. The Virgin is holding the child Jesus and behind her are the clouds which are really children's faces. We can imagine that the child Jesus has come down to the Virgin from the clouds, through a kind of mist of thin cloud. But this picture, which has arisen out of an entirely Christian spirit, is after all a kind of repetition of what was revered in the Egyptian Isis Mysteries. They portrayed Isis holding the child Horus.

The theme of this earlier picture is entirely in keeping with that of Raphael's picture. Of course we must not be tempted to interpret this in the superficial way in which it has been done by many people since the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century right up to our own days, namely, to consider the story of Jesus Christ and all that belongs to it merely as a metamorphosis, a transformation, of ancient pagan Mysteries. From my book Christianity as Mystical Fact you already know how these things must be considered; in the sense in which it is explained there we can point to a spiritual relationship between that which arises in Christianity and the old pagan Mysteries. [24]

The Isis Mystery has as its chief content the death of Osiris and the search of Isis for the dead Osiris. We know that Osiris, the representative of the Sun Being, the representative of the spiritual sun, was killed by Typhon, who is none other than the Ahriman [25] of the Egyptians. Ahriman kills Osiris, throws him into the Nile, and the Nile carries the body away. Isis, the spouse of Osiris, sets out on her quest and finds him in Asia. She brings him back to Egypt, where Ahriman, the enemy, cuts the body into 14 parts. Isis buries these 14 parts in various places so that from then on they belong to the earth.

This can show us the profound connection between the heavenly and the earthly powers in the conception of Egyptian wisdom. Osiris is the representative of the sun powers. Having passed through death, he is the force which matures everything that grows out of the earth, a force which is present in various places simultaneously. The ancient Egyptian sages were quick to imagine how the powers which shine down to us from the sun enter the earth and become part of the earth and how, as sun powers buried in the earth, they hand over once more to human beings what matures out of the earth. The Egyptian myth is founded upon the story of Osiris -- how he was killed, how his spouse Isis had to set out on her quest for him, how she brought him back to Egypt and he then became active in another form, from out of the earth. One of the Egyptian pyramids depicts the whole event in a most significant manner. The Egyptians not only wrote down in their own particular writing what they knew as the solution to the great cosmic secrets, they also expressed it in their architectural constructions. They built one of these pyramids with such mathematical precision, that its shadow disappeared in the spring equinox owing to the position of the sun -- the shadow disappeared into the base of the pyramid and only reappeared in the autumn equinox. The Egyptians tried to express in this pyramid that the forces which used to shine down from the sun are now buried in the earth and stimulate the forces of the earth, so that the earth may produce the fruits which mankind needs.

This, then, is the idea we find present in the minds and hearts of the ancient Egyptians. On the other hand, they look up to the sun, they look up to the lofty Sun Being and they honour him. At the same time, however, they relate how this Sun Being has been lost in Osiris, and has been sought by Isis, and how the Being has been found again and is able hereafter to continue his activity in a new and changed way.

Many things which appeared in Egyptian wisdom must be repeated in a different form during the fifth cultural epoch. On the basis of spiritual science, we must learn increasingly to reflect on the Mysteries of the Egyptian priests in a form which is suited to our own age, in the light of Christianity. For the Egyptians, Osiris was a kind of representative of Christ who had not yet appeared. They looked upon Osiris as the Sun Being but they imagined that this Sun Being had disappeared and must be found again. We cannot imagine that humankind could lose the Sun Being, Christ, who has now passed through the Mystery of Golgotha; for he came down from spiritual heights, connected himself with the man Jesus of Nazareth, and now remains connected with the earth. He is present, he exists, as the Christmas carol proclaims each year again: 'Unto us a Saviour is born.' It expresses the eternal, not the transitory nature of this event -- that Jesus was not only born once at Bethlehem, but is born continually; in other words, he remains with the life of the earth. Christ and what he means for us cannot be lost.

My dear friends, it is not the Osiris but the Isis legend that has to be fulfilled in our time. We cannot lose Christ and what he gives in a higher form than Osiris, but we can lose and we have lost that which we see portrayed by the side of Osiris -- Isis, the mother of the Saviour, the divine wisdom, Sophia. If we wish to renew the Isis legend, we cannot take it in the form in which it has been transmitted to us -- Osiris is killed by Typhon-Ahriman and carried away by the waters of the Nile; he must be found again by Isis in order that his body, cut into pieces by Typhon-Ahriman, may be sunk into the earth. No, my dear friends, we must somehow find the Isis legend again, the content of the Isis mystery, but we must form it out of imagination appropriate for our own times. An understanding of the eternal cosmic truths will return when we learn to create in the world of imagination as the Egyptians did. We must find the true Isis legend.

Because the Egyptians lived before the Mystery of Golgotha, they were permeated by luciferic powers. If luciferic powers are within human beings and stir their inner life, moving and interweaving with it, the result will be that the ahrimanic powers will appear to them as an active external force. Thus the Egyptians who were themselves permeated by Lucifer rightly saw a world view in which Ahriman-Typhon was active. Now we must realize that modern human beings are permeated by Ahriman. Ahriman moves and wells up within them just as Lucifer moved and welled up within the Egyptian world. And then, when Ahriman works through Lucifer, human beings see their image of the world in a luciferic form. How does it appear to them? This luciferic image of the world has been created, it has become increasingly popular and has been adopted in all circles of thought that consider themselves progressive and enlightened.

If we want to understand the Christmas mystery, we must bear in mind that Lucifer is the power who wants to hold back our view of the world in an earlier stage. Lucifer is the power which tries to bring into the modern world conception that which existed in earlier stages of evolution; he tries to give permanence to that which existed in earlier periods. All that was moral in earlier periods also exists today of course. But Lucifer strives to sever the moral forces as such (the significance of the moral forces lies in the fact that they are there in the present, working as seeds for the future), Lucifer strives to sever all moral forces from our world view; he only allows the laws of nature, the necessary and natural aspect, to appear in this world view. Thus the impoverished human being of modern times possesses a wisdom of the world in which the stars move according to a purely mechanical necessity, devoid of morality; so that the moral meaning of the world's order cannot be found in their movements. This, my dear friends, is a purely luciferic world view. Just as the Egyptians looked out into the world and saw in it Ahriman-Typhon as the one who takes Osiris away from them, so we must look at our Iuciferic world view, at the mathematical-mechanical world view of modern astronomy and of other branches of natural science, and we must realize that the luciferic element rules in this world view, just as the typhonic-ahrimanic element ruled in the Egyptian image of the world. Just as the Egyptians saw his outer world view in an ahrimanic-typhonic light, so modern human beings, because they are ahrimanic, see it with luciferic traits. Lucifer is there, Lucifer is active there. Just as the Egyptians imagined that Ahriman-Typhon was active in wind and weather and in the snowstorms of winter, so modern human beings, if they wish to understand things, must imagine that Lucifer appears to them in the sunshine and in the light of the stars, in the movements of the planets and of the moon. The world conception of Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler is a luciferic conception. Precisely because it is in keeping with our ahrimanic forces of knowledge, its content -- please note the distinction -- its content is a luciferic one.

When the Mystery of Golgotha took place, the divine Sophia, the wisdom that sees through the world and enables human beings to comprehend the world, worked in a twofold way -- in the revelation to the poor shepherds in the fields, and in the revelation to the wise men from the East. This was the twofold working of the divine Sophia, the heavenly wisdom. This wisdom, which was still to be found in its later form among the Gnostics, and which the early Christian Fathers and teachers of the Church learned from the Gnostics and used to enable them to understand the Mystery of Golgotha -- this wisdom could not be continued into our times, it was overwhelmed and killed by Lucifer, just as Osiris was killed by Ahriman-Typhon. We have not lost Osiris, or Christ; we have lost that which for us takes the place of Isis. Lucifer has killed it. But the Isis -- being killed by Lucifer was not lowered into the earth, as Typhon lowered Osiris into the Nile; Lucifer carried the Isis being, the divine wisdom whom he had killed, out into cosmic spaces; he lowered her into the cosmic ocean. When we look out into this ocean and see the stars moving only according to mathematical lines, then we see the grave of the world's spiritual essence; for the divine Sophia, the successor of Isis, is dead.

We must give form to this legend, for it sets out the truth of our times. We must speak of the dead and lost Isis, the divine Sophia, even as the ancient Egyptians spoke of the dead and lost Osiris. We must set out in search of the dead body of the new Isis, the dead body of the divine Sophia, with a force which, although we cannot yet rightly understand it, is nevertheless in us -- with the force of Christ, with the force of the new Osiris. We must approach luciferic science and seek there the coffin of Isis; in other words we must find in that which natural science gives us something which stimulates us inwardly towards Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. This brings to us the help of Christ within -- Christ, who remains hidden in darkness if we do not illuminate him with divine wisdom. Armed with this force of Christ, with the new Osiris, we must set out in search of Isis, the new Isis. Lucifer does not cut Isis in pieces as Ahriman-Typhon did with Osiris; on the contrary, Isis is spread out in her true shape in the beauty of the whole universe.

Isis shines out of the cosmos in an aura of many shining colours. We must learn to understand Isis when we look out into the cosmos; we must learn to see this cosmos in an aura of shining colours. But just as Ahriman-Typhon cut Osiris into pieces, so Lucifer blurs and washes out the colours in all their clear distinction, blends and merges into one single whole the parts which are so beautifully distributed over the heavens, the limbs of the new Isis which go to make the great firmament of the heavens. Even as Typhon cut Osiris in pieces, so Lucifer blends the manifold colours that stream down to us from the whole aura of the cosmos into a uniform white light that streams through the universe. It is that light which Goethe combated in his colour theory, repudiating the statement that it contains all the colours which in truth are spread out over the marvellous and manifold and secret actions of the whole cosmos. We must pursue our search until we find Isis, and when we have found her we must learn how to place out into the universe what we are then able to discover and to know.

We must have a living picture in our minds of all that we have acquired through the newly found Isis, so that all the heavens become spiritual for us again. We must understand Saturn, Sun, Moon, earth, Jupiter, Venus and VuIcan [26] from within. We must carry out into the heavenly spaces that which Lucifer has made of Isis, just as Isis buried in the earth the parts of the body of Osiris cut into pieces by Typhon-Ahriman. We must realize that through the force of Christ we can discover an inner astronomy which reveals to us once more the origin and life of the cosmos, as grounded in the force of the spirit. And then, when we have this insight into the cosmos, awakened through the newly found power of Isis which has now become the power of the divine Sophia, then the Christ who has united with the earth since the Mystery of Golgotha will become active within us because then we shall know him. It is not Christ we lack, my dear friends, but the knowledge and wisdom of Christ, the Sophia of the Christ, the Isis of Christ.

This is what we should engrave in our souls, as a content of the Christmas mystery. We must realize that in the nineteenth century even theology has come to look upon Christ merely as the man of Nazareth. This means theology is completely permeated by Lucifer. It no longer has insight into the spiritual foundations of existence. External natural science is luciferic, theology is luciferic. Of course if we are speaking of the inner aspect of the human being we can just as well say that in his theology human beings are ahrimanic. Then in the same way we must say of the Egyptians that they are luciferic, just as we say of them that their perception of the external world is ahrimanic.

The Christmas mystery must be grasped once again by modern human beings. Let them realize that first of all they must seek Isis, in order that Christ may appear to them. The cause of the misfortunes and troubles of modern civilization is not that we have lost Christ who stands before us in far greater glory than Osiris did in the eyes of the Egyptians. We have not lost him and need not set out in search of him armed with the force of Isis -- what we have lost is the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is what we must find again, with the help of the force of Christ in us.

This is how we must regard the content of the Christmas festival. For many modern people Christmas is nothing but an occasion for giving and receiving presents, something which they celebrate every year through habit. The Christmas festival has become an empty phrase like so many other things in modern life. And it is just because so many things have become a phrase that modern life is so full of calamities and chaos. This is in truth the deeper cause for the chaos in our modern life.

My dear friends, if in this community we could acquire the right feelings for everything that has become words, has become a phrase in modern life, and if these feelings could enable us to find the impulses needed for renewal, then this community which calls itself the anthroposophical community would be worthy of its existence. This community should understand how terrible it is in our age that such things as the Christmas festival should be kept up as a mere phrase. We should be able to understand that in future this must not happen, and that many things must be given a new content so that instead of acting out of old habits we act out of new and fresh insight. If we cannot find the inner courage needed for this, then we share in the lie which keeps up the yearly Christmas festival merely as a phrase, celebrating it without any true feeling. Do we really rise to the highest concerns of humanity when we give and receive presents every year at Christmas out of habit? Do we lift ourselves up to the highest concerns of humanity when we listen to the words -- also turned into empty phrases -- spoken by the representatives of this or that religious community? We should forbid ourselves to continue with this inner hollowness of our Christmas celebrations. We should make the inner decision to give true and worthy content to such a festival, which should raise mankind to comprehend the meaning of its existence.

When you stand before the Christmas tree and open the presents which are given out of habit and the Christmas cards containing the usual phrases, ask yourselves, my dear friends, whether the feelings in your hearts and souls can raise mankind to an understanding of the sense and meaning of its evolution on earth. All the trouble and sorrow of our time is due to this -- we cannot find the courage to lift ourselves above the phrases of our age. But it must happen. A new content must come, a content which can give us entirely new feelings that move us powerfully, even as those were moved who were true Christians in the first Christian centuries and who knew that the Mystery of Golgotha and the appearance of Christ upon the earth was the highest which human beings could experience. Our souls must again acquire something of this spirit.

Oh, my dear friends, the soul will rise to altogether new feelings if it is willing to experience the new Isis legend within modern humanity. Lucifer kills Isis and transfers her body into the cosmic spaces which have become a mathematical abstraction, or the grave of Isis; then comes the search for Isis and her discovery through the impulse given by the inner force of spiritual knowledge, which places into the lifeless sky that which stars and planets reveal through an inner life, so that they appear as monuments of the spiritual powers that flood through space. We look in the right spirit towards the 'manger' when we first let the powers that flood through space kindle our feeling and then look at that being who came into the world through the child. We know that we bear this being within us but we must understand him. Just as the Egyptians looked from Isis to Osiris, so we must learn to look again to the new Isis, the holy Sophia. Christ will appear in spiritual form during the twentieth century, not through an external happening but inasmuch as human beings find that force which is represented by the holy Sophia. The present age has the tendency to lose this Isis force, this force of Mary. It was killed by all that arose with the development of modern consciousness in humankind. New forms of religion have in part exterminated precisely this view of Mary. This is the mystery of modern humanity. Mary-Isis has been killed and she must be sought, just as Osiris was sought by Isis; but she must be sought in the wide space of heaven with the force that Christ can awaken in us if we give ourselves to him in the right way.

Let us create the right image of this, let us immerse ourselves in the new Isis legend which we must experience and let us fill our souls with it. Only then shall we experience in a true sense the holiness of Christmas Eve, leading us into Christmas Day, the Day of Christ. My dear friends, this anthroposophical community can become a community of human beings united in love because of the search on which they set out together. Let us realize this most intimate and cherished task, let us go in spirit to the manger and bring to the child our sacrifice and our gift in the knowledge that something altogether new must fill our souls, in order that we may undertake the tasks which can lead mankind out of barbarism into a new civilization.

To this end we must help one another in love so that a real community of souls arises in which envy and all such things disappear, and in which we do not look each at our own particular goal but together face, united in love, the great goal which we have in common. The mystery which the Christmas child brought into the world has this as its content: to look at a goal in common without discord. For the common goal implies union and harmony. The light of Christmas should shine as a light of peace, a light that brings peace outside only because first it sheds an inner peace into the hearts of human beings. We should understand this and say together: let us realize this and work together with love on the great task. Then, and only then, shall we understand Christmas. If we cannot realize this, we shall not understand Christmas. Let us remember that when we do sow discord, this discord hinders us in understanding Christ who appeared among us on Christmas Eve. Can we not allow this Christmas mystery to enter into our souls as something which unites our hearts in love and unity? We cannot do this, my dear friends, unless we understand what spiritual science really means. Nothing will grow out of this community if we merely bring into it ideas and impulses we have collected from all corners of the world, where phrase and routine hold sway. Let us remember that our community is facing a difficult year, that all forces must be gathered together, and let us celebrate Christmas in this spirit. Oh, my dear friends, on this evening I would like to find words which appeal deeply to the heart of each one of you. Then each one of you would feel that my words contain a welcome which is at the same time an appeal to kindle spiritual science within your hearts so that it may become a force which can help humanity to raise itself up again from its terrible oppression.

These, my dear friends, are the aspects from which I have gathered the thoughts that I wished to present to you. Let me assure you that they are meant for each one of you as a warm Christmas greeting, as something which can lead you into the New Year in the very best way. In this spirit, accept my words as a warm and loving Christmas greeting.

Isis-Sophia Wisdom of God:
Lucifer has slain her,
And on the wings of the world-wide forces
Carried her hence into cosmic space.
Working in human beings
Shall wrest from Lucifer
And on the vessels of spirit-knowledge
Call to new life in human souls
Isis-Sophia Wisdom of God.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:47 am


1 J. Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity (Chicago 1964); and on the connection with rebirth, G. Quispel, The Birth of the Child, in G. Quispel and G. Scholem, Jewish and Gnostic Man, ERANOS Lectures 3 (Dallas 1986),pp. 22ff.The importance of becoming a child of the Holy Spirit in the Secret Book of James discovered at Nag Hammadi (Codex I, p. 6) is increased by the fact that this document has emerged as a source of genuine traditions of the sayings of Jesus, independently of the New Testament Gospels.

2 See J. Hick, Myth of God Incarnate.

3 i.e. Ecclesiastes, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (ben Sira).

4 Proverbs 8:15-17, 22-27.

5 See below, pp. 58-9. Sophia is closely associated with God's Holy Spirit, e.g. Wisdom of Solomon 1:6-7, 9, 17. These passages are not without deep Old Testament roots, such as Ezekiel 36:27. Moreover the close connection between Jesus and Sophia in the Gospel of Thomas, in the Gospel of John and in Matthew is increasingly acknowledged by researchers.

6 Welburn, Gnosis. The Mysteries and Christianity (Edinburgh 1994).

7 Welburn (ed.), The Mysteries. Rudolf Steiner's Writings on Spiritual Initiation (Edinburgh 1997),pp. 85-6.

8 Op. cit. p. 87.

9 See S. Prokofieff, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries (London 1994).

10 For an anthroposophical perspective see R. Querido, The Golden Age of Chartres (Edinburgh 1987). Useful introductions to the thought of some major figures mentioned are: G.R. Evans, Alan of Lille (Cambridge 1983); N. Reeves and B. Hirsch-Reich, The Figurae of Joachim of Fiore (Oxford 1972).

11 Or Hauteville; in Latin, Altavilla. His work Architrenius (1184)is mentioned in one of Rudolf Steiner's notebooks. The work is a long epic describing the allegorical journey of a young man seeking the help and counsel of the goddess Natura.

12 Bruno or Brunetto Latini was a leader of the popular Guelf party against the aristocratic Ghibelline clans in a struggle which eventually led to Dante's exile from his beloved Florence. Brunetto is described in Inferno, canto xv. He was the author of a French Livre de Tresor ('Treasure' or thesaurus, encyclopaedia); a shortened version in Italian verse, cast in the form of a symbolic journey, makes up the 'Little Treasure' (Tesoretto). He was not the formal tutor but the spiritual mentor of Dante, and may have helped inspire him to describe the symbolic journey in the Divina Commedia. He lived from around 1210 to 1294.

13 For Persephone in the Greek Mysteries of Eleusis, see A. Welburn (ed.), The Mysteries. Rudolf Steiner's Writings on Spiritual Initiation (Edinburgh 1997), pp. 39ff.; also Steiner, Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres (London 1997), pp. 161ff.

14 For Heraclitus and his connection with the Mysteries, see further The Mysteries (above, note 3), pp. 46ff.

15 'If we are able to raise our faculty of perception and look through the visible world to the invisible, we arrive at length at a point where we have before us what may be compared to a mighty spiritual panorama wherein all the past events of the world are displayed. These abiding traces of all spiritual happenings may be called the "Akashic Records" ... ': Steiner, Occult Science (London 1969), p. 105. Also published as An Outline of Esoteric Science (New York 1992). Rudolf Steiner repeatedly emphasizes the difficulty of obtaining accurate results from the reading of the Akashic Records, requiring a high level of clairvoyance.

16 On this, the so-called Lemurian Age in the prehistory of the earth, see Steiner, Occult Science, pp. 173ft. More detailed descriptions also in his lectures in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres (London 1997),pp. 85-101.

17 The sculptured wooden building at Dornach had been erected as the 'spiritual home' of the Anthroposophical Society to architectural designs by Rudolf Steiner-see further his lectures Architecture as a Synthesis of the Arts (London 1999). It was burned down, probably by the hand of an arsonist, on New Year's Night 1922-3.The present passage is from a lecture given soon after the event. Subsequently, Rudolf Steiner drew up plans for the 'Second Goetheanum' in flowing forms cast in concrete, which now stands on the same site. See further Rex Raab et al., Eloquent Concrete (London 1979). This houses the Anthroposophical Society, and serves as the setting for festivals, conferences, lectures, concerts, etc. related to Steiner's work.

18 The human being for Rudolf Steiner is a being in transformation. Our astral body is progressively transformed by our conscious ego in the course of our spiritual development, becoming the spirit-self (sometimes called by the oriental name manas). In higher stages of spiritual evolution, our etheric and even our physical bodies will be transformed and become the basis for higher faculties of clairvoyance, etc. See Occult Science (London 1969), p. 105.

19 See Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom (London 1999).

20 The terms Saturn, Sun and Moon here refer not to the present- day planets of those names, but to former stages of cosmic evolution. Humanity - the spiritual essence of humanity - has been a part of cosmic evolution from the beginning, only gradually however attaining to self-conscious, individualized existence. Fundamental to Steiner's evolutionary teaching is that we have not thereby lost our original connection with cosmic spirituality - we have gained the opportunity to rediscover it in freedom. Christ, as the cosmic-divine spirit made human, is central to his teaching on how we can do so. Future stages of cosmic evolution, called by Steiner (and others) Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, will offer scope for humanity to play an actively creative role in connection with divine-creative powers. See in general Occult Science (London 1969), pp. 115ff.

21 See Rudolf Steiner, The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric (New York 1983).

22 In the original German, Philisterium from der Philister, a philistine or vulgarian. A comment on European culture generally!

23 On the rhythm of spiritual evolution through the 'cultural epochs' of human civilization, and especially the re-emergence of Egyptian wisdom in our fifth age (post AD 1415),see Steiner, Egyptian Myths and Mysteries (New York 1971), pp. 5ff., 120ff.

24 See Rudolf Steiner, Christianity as Mystical Fact (New York 1997).

25 He represents the hardening, material, anti-spiritual power; opposite to Lucifer, the abstract, one-sided spiritual power.

26 All the planets which Rudolf Steiner mentions refer to the past evolution and the present organization of the solar system, except Vulcan which is the term used in spiritual-scientific terminology for a far-future state of the Earth in a spiritualized condition of the universe. He thus implies the whole past, present and future reality of our cosmic system.
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Re: Goddess: From Natura to the Divine Sophia, by Rudolf Ste

Postby admin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:48 am


This volume comprises thematic extracts from the lectures of Rudolf Steiner.

'Rediscovering the Goddess Natura' reproduces Rudolf Steiner, True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation (London 1969), pp. 82- 94 (translated from GA 243 in the edition of Rudolf Steiner's original work).

'The Goddess in the Beginning' reproduces Rudolf Steiner, Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres (London 1997),pp. 102-14 (translated from GA 232).

'Esoteric Christianity' reproduces Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of John (New York 1962), pp. 164-91 (translated from GA 103).

'The renewal of the Mysteries' reproduces Rudolf Steiner, Ancient Myths (Toronto 1971), pp. 34-41 (translated from GA 180).

'The modern Isis, the divine Sophia' reproduces Rudolf Steiner, The Search for the New Isis (translated from GA 202).

Translations by M. Cotterell, Maud B. Monges, A.H. Parker and Pauline Wehrle.

Suggested Further Reading

Works by Rudolf Steiner:

Ancient Myths and the New Isis Mystery (New York 1994)

Christianity as Mystical Fact (New York 1997)

Egyptian Myths and Mysteries (New York 1971)

The Gospel of John (New York 1962)

How to Know Higher Worlds (New York 1994)

Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres (London 1997)

Occult Science (London 1969). Also available as An Outline of Esoteric Science (New York 1997)

A Vision for the Millennium (London 1999)

Note Regarding Rudolf Steiner's Lectures

The lectures and addresses contained in this volume have been translated from the German, which is based on stenographic and other recorded texts that were in most cases never seen or revised by the lecturer. Hence, due to human errors in hearing and transcription, they may contain mistakes and faulty passages. Every effort has been made to ensure that this is not the case. Some of the lectures were given to audiences more familiar with anthroposophy; these are the so-called 'private' or 'members' lectures. Other lectures, like the written works, were intended for the general public. The difference between these, as Rudolf Steiner indicates in his Autobiography, is twofold. On the one hand, the members' lectures take for granted a background in and commitment to anthroposophy; in the public lectures this was not the case. At the same time, the members' lectures address the concerns and dilemmas of the members, while the public work speaks directly out of Steiner's own understanding of universal needs. Nevertheless, as Rudolf Steiner stresses: 'Nothing was ever said that was not solely the result of my direct experience of the growing content of anthroposophy. There was never any question of concessions to the prejudices and preferences of the members. Whoever reads these privately printed lectures can take them to represent anthroposophy in the fullest sense. Thus it was possible without hesitation-when the complaints in this direction became too persistent- to depart from the custom of circulating this material "For members only". But it must be borne in mind that faulty passages do occur in these reports not revised by myself.' Earlier in the same chapter, he states: 'Had r been able to correct them [the private lectures], the restriction for members only would have been unnecessary from the beginning.'

The original German editions on which this text is based were published by Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, Switzerland in the collected edition (Gesamtausgabe, 'GA') of Rudolf Steiner's work. All publications are edited by the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung (estate), which wholly owns both Rudolf Steiner Verlag and the Rudolf Steiner Archive. The organization relies solely on donations to continue its activity.

For further information please contact:

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