This is the twelfth of 14 lectures in the lecture series entitled Pictures of Occult Seals and Columns.
15 October 1911, Stuttgart
To me it seems fitting today to speak of something that concerns us very closely; this our home for anthroposophical work in Stuttgart. Perhaps for all of you who have entered this room, and then with a kind of inner vision try to survey the feelings which come to you here, there is a word which may describe what we should like to indicate as the special characteristic of our experience today, namely, mood, feeling; we have doubtless a special feeling, an exalted frame of mind when we are gathered together in this hall. If one follows this feeling further occultly, one may from their standpoint look into the foundation of our life. The most noticeable thing is that we are surrounded by a certain shade of colour which has been used for this room a deep ultramarine. The fact that in many respects combinations of colour play a great part with us, you will also have seen from the way in which we have tried to present the Mystery Plays, and also from the colours of other rooms which we have been able to dedicate to anthroposophical work.
Now it is by no means a matter of indifference to a person in a certain frame of mind what kind of colour he is surrounded by. And further, it is not immaterial what principle shade of colour acts upon a person of this or that temperament, intellectual nature of character. It is also not immaterial for the whole human organisation whether a certain shade of colour acts upon him by being repeated again and again for a long time, or whether it acts only temporarily. You will remember that we covered the hall which served us for the 1907 Congress with a certain shade of red; but from this the conclusion must not be drawn that red is always the right colour for a lecture room. The room here we have covered with a different colour, and if one enquires the reason for these different procedures, the answer is that the hall at Munich was used for a few days for a particular festive occasion, and event which was over in a few days, and was intended to arouse the frame of mind appropriate to this occasion. But here we have a workroom in which our Stuttgart friends will do their anthroposophical work and carry on their classes again and again from week to week. Essentially we are dealing with a room which will be used for oft-recurring classes.
You will best realise the importance of colour if we describe how it affects occultists. For this it is necessary that a person should free himself completely from everything else and devote himself to the particular colour, immerse himself in it. If the person who devotes himself to the colour which covers these physically dense walls were one who had made curtain occult progress it would come about that after a period of this complete devotion the walls would disappear from his clairvoyant vision; the consciousness that the walls shut off the outer world would vanish. Now what which first appears is not merely that he sees the neighbouring houses outside, that the walls become like glass, but in the sphere that opens up there comes a world of purely spiritual phenomenon, spiritual facts and beings become visible. We need only reflect that behind everything around us physically there are spiritual beings and facts. That which lies at the foundation of the physical objects outside in a certain way become visible, what becomes visible is not the same if there are different surroundings. The worlds which surround us spiritually are of many kinds, many different kinds of elementary beings are around us, These elementary beings are not enclosed in boxes or in such a state that they live in various houses. The law of impenetrability only applies to the physical world; penetrability is the law for the higher worlds. But they cannot all be seen in the same way; according to the capacity of clairvoyant vision there may be visible and invisible beings in the same space. When spiritual beings become visible in any particular instance, depends upon the colour to which we devote ourselves. In a red room, other beings become visible than is a blue room, when one penetrates to them by means of colour. We may ask: what happens if one is not clairvoyant? That which the clairvoyant does consciously is done unconsciously by the etheric body of a person if it is not clairvoyantly trained; it enters into a certain relation with the same beings. The consequence of this is nothing less than that, according to our surroundings, we come in touch with one or another kind of spiritual beings. Now, further, it is a case of being able to establish a favourable or unfavourable connection with the beings that surround us. Let us suppose that we use a colour for the room which brings us into connection with beings who disturb us in what we do in this room, then the colour is unfavourable. Conversely, our etheric body may be assisted by spiritual beings though using the corresponding colour; this is then, of course, favourable. Now this room is devoted to repeated study through which we desire to progress in our knowledge. If we have to work in such a room as this, it is necessary that we should be able fully to devote ourselves with our entire human organisation to what is brought before us. We do not wish to be disturbed by anything, we wish to work under the best conditions so that we may take in these things as well as possible; naturally one person will take then in better, another not so well, but the best possible conditions are to be made, so that each one can devote himself — so far as it is possible in accordance with his inner organisation — to the studies which are here brought forward. The colour surrounding us here, brings us in touch with beings in our spiritual environment who come to help us in our etheric body in the spiritual truths within us. In such a building and such a room as this, we are least disturbed, our etheric body is not burdened with fighting against prejudicial influences of certain elementary beings, but the forces of our etheric body are able to work more easily.
Thus we see that for work which is continually repeated and for which there must be a certain calmness of soul as a foundation, exactly this surrounding must be chosen. Let us suppose that we have to deal with something particularly earnest, but which is temporary; in this case if we consider the occult law it is very advantageous — if we are to have not only a festive spirit but also inward strength — to surround ourselves with red. If we have to make a strong decision of the will, we must overcome the spiritual beings which penetrate in. That is to say, on festive occasions we must become strong, so that what we may become a permanent impulse; and unsympathetic weakness of disposition and does not allow earnest decisions of the will to be made, which although roused in a short time, are to remain permanently. The effects of colour are extremely important.
Now you know that under certain circumstances in the general state of our cosmic environment, we see a fundamental colour outspread above us; the blue sky. This blue of the sky is very important to the people of our age, for though the blue expanse of space working upon our souls they continually receive the call to come into touch with the beings in the great world, these beings act upon us through this colour and call upon our etheric body to think of the spiritual. With regard to the blue sky it was not always with man as it is now. The people of the present day think that men have always been as they are now, but the entire constitution of man has changed in the course of time. In those ancient days when man possessed an original clairvoyance there was no blue sky such as exists for present humanity, but at that time when he gazed out into the expanse of space, it was not limited by the blue sky, but he saw into the spiritual worlds which lie out there in space. When our ancient ancestors spoke of heaven beginning there above, that is to say, that the spiritual beings of the Hierarchies are to be found there, they expressed the literal truth.
With these colours which appear transparent (the coloured windows) it is again different from what it is in the case of a colour which is on a wall which we cannot see through. When we observe this shinning bright colour we have to say: Just as through the colour which is on the opaque walls we enter into relation with certain beings, so through the transparent shining colour, we enter into relation with other beings. While the beings with whom we come in touch through the opaque walls are primarily outspread in space, but really have nothing to do with the three kingdoms below us, the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, through shining colours we come in touch with the beings who are directly occupied with bringing the objects of the three kingdoms of nature into being. When we look particularly through shining red, we come in touch with quite a particular type of beings within the kingdom of nature. When shining red forms a kind of window through which to look clairvoyantly into the kingdom of nature, we meet with beings whose work forms the best forces for the future of our earth existence. They have to be there in the kingdoms of nature, so that inner forces may develop in man which make him more and more chaste in his blood, that is to say, in his passion life, and when we look into the kingdom of nature in this way, we are looking upon those beings which, although we may not be aware of it, incite us the most to rouse up and push forward in the purification of our passions.
Besides being surrounded here in this room by certain shades of colour, we see all kinds of tokens and symbolic figures. These are filled with meaning, although I do not mean the meaning which can be found by the intellect. Ingenious persons may discover in them all sorts of curious things, but to occultists explanations such as these mean nothing. The chief point is that these figures are actually here, and if we turn our physical eyes to any one of them, it is not merely the physical eye, but the whole organization, above all, it is the currents of the etheric body which come into motion in quite a special way, they are roused by the course of the lines and by the forms of these figures, so that the etheric body has different movements within it, according as one looks at one figure or another. This means that within the world of etheric substance, which surrounds us, with all the beings incarnated in it, the forms which we see here, are actually present, There are beings who really have these forms in the etheric world; and when we look at one of these figures our etheric body arranges itself in such a way that in its own movements it builds up forms according to these lines, that is, it produces a thought-form which then proceeds from it; and according to the thought-form, will our etheric body be able to make a real union with one or another kind of being. These figures are the means by which this may be accomplished, for when we look at them, we produce within ourselves the thought-forms, that is, the movement-forms in our etheric body. Now these figures are chosen in such a way that when looked at in a rhythmic consecutive order they yield something which is a whole, namely, something which corresponds to a certain stream of development in the outer etheric world, something which through a particular circumstance is favourable to our etheric body; our etheric body has within it the tendency to change, in a certain way it will be different when it is more perfect. The series of forms corresponding to the gradual perfecting of our etheric body will be developed in the consecutive order shown in these figures. When we display these symbolic figures, which are in accordance with certain occult facts, and can let our vision penetrate more deeply, this is a help towards what we are aiming at, and if we produce the corresponding thought-forms in the right consecutive order, we assist our inner being which is to open our understanding for the rhythm which exists when you are speaking of the seven principles of man. We have not placed these figures there merely for decoration, but because they are inwardly connected with what we wish to accomplish here.
We are placed in touch with the surrounding etheric world by means of the thought-forms which we ought to build up in the manner just described; by means of music we are placed in touch with the astral part of our surrounding world. Music acts directly upon our astral body, so that we are made receptive — because this works from within on the etheric body — to all that is incarnated in the astral word, not in the sense in which one speaks of the astral world as contained in kamaloka, but the universal astral world into which the devachanic world also streams down. The revelation through music is a more direct one than when the higher worlds clothe themselves in the forms around us in space; but that which is outspread in space, if it is in accordance with occult results, leaves us independent, whereas music constrains us.
We now come to a kind of action on human beings which affects the etheric body by first stimulating the astral body, also by means of the element of space, and we may also study an example of this in this room. Up above you see two pictures which were contributed to this special occasion by our friend, Stockmeier. These two pictures will later be painted differently, and they will then produce the full effect intended. The effect of these two pictures together, not of each one singly, is somewhat as follows; when first one picture works and then the other afterwards, under all circumstances, whether it is wished or not, the one picture and afterwards the other will together rouse up thought-forms particular formations in the astral body. This remains in the sub-consciousness, and because it is contained in the intention of the pictures — it is only reproduced in an abstract way by means of ideas. Our feeling may perhaps render somewhat more perceptible the thought-forms which our actual body will produce perfectly under all circumstances from these pictures, if Mr. Stockmeier, succeeds in painting them in the right way. The picture on the right; a certain astral form, an kind of dragon is vanquished by a great being who belongs to the higher Hierarchies (Raphael) merely by his magnetic gaze; and when through the development of his will man comes to receive the power of this being into his own will we shall have the powers of which the Greeks thought in connection with the divine powers of Aesclepius with which he healed. All that is contained in the spiritually magnetic gaze, which can have curative effects when it is suitable trained, may be called forth in thought if immediately afterwards we pass over to what belongs to this feeling in the other picture. The optical effects must be conveyed to the phantom, so that with the help of the phantom-forces of the physical body, the effect is strengthened which proceeds from the dragon which is then overcome by the power of Michael. When we acquire the power to feel this thought out of the forces of the universe and think how through the physical body it may receive a vehicle through the will-forces being strengthened, so that a person need no longer say in regard to such forces that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, when we have these consecutive feelings and formations of the astral body, we have something which subconsciously can strengthen the moral nature very much. Thus we can draw moral power directly from the consecutive consideration of the two pictures, and still more from three. But it must be expressly pointed out that this applies only to the united notion of such themes, not to one single theme. If it were to depend upon one picture it would have to be differently formed, the two motives would have to act together, as for example, in the Sistine Madonna; in that instance there is a crossing of two motives which can strengthen the moral nature to the highest degree. Up above the clouds out of which the angels heads are formed, and when we look at the child Jesus in the arms of the mother we perceive that it has originated through the consolidation of the same forces which bring the angels only to a cloud existence. That is one motive, in which we perceive the origin of the pure light-being of man out of the cloud-light of the universe, as it were. This motive meets that which in expressed in the mother; she is full of innocence and love, and from that which appears to us as the body, the face, the lines of the mother, we see coming forth, as it were the warmest love. Light from above, condensing into the pure light-body of the child Jesus, and warming love from below, meeting and touching in the position of the arm — the two motives blending together — this gives subconsciously to our astral body, whether it wishes it or not, if a person only has the patience to devote himself to it, the feeling: It is thy duty to bring thy love towards that which can reveal itself to thee from divine heights, so that thou takest it into thine own arms and realisest it in the world, that thou bringest impulses in life from the spiritual world. The Sistine Madonna is an alter picture in which this thought-form works together with a congregation. We have here to do with two motives which are to rouse in us the frame of mind in which we may become capable of holding fast in thought the laws and the principles of action of the spiritual world. That is the essential point in our anthroposophical work. Spiritual things are always in motion and to the untrained seer they are like dreams. It is difficult to hold fast in thought these moving, fleeting peculiarities of being, and, conversely, it is also difficult in thought to give thought itself such an inner consistency that ont receives the feeling: Thou art thinking a reality of the true spiritual world. We can receive this feeling if we allow these pictures to act upon us in the manner described, not be apathetic towards these things, but look at them repeatedly. Then the forces of the astral body are obliged to experience the effect which may be described by saying, that we come more and more to perceive the true content of anthroposophical thought. We are not coerced unawares, but this recognition is quite free; the co-operation of two motives is something which liberates the free powers of man.
Thus you see that in what surrounds us here all the laws are fulfilled which so-called white magic uses, not to work by means of any overruling force upon modern humanity, but to consider that which is to be worked upon in another human being as a sacred thing which must not be touched, which is to allow the forces of the spiritual world to come forth out of itself. If you bear in mind what has been said in this lecture you will realise how important it is to anthroposophical work that it should have its own home, for you will have received the feeling that such a home must be built and arranged within according to the laws of occultism itself, and indeed, according to laws of occultism which at first are somewhat remote. You will also understand what it means on the whole when we possess no such home and are obliged to give our lectures on Anthroposophy and carry on our studies in the ordinary rooms usually at our disposal. Our age has, indeed, very little talent in the domain which has been touched upon today, and the greatest sins are committed in the realms of form and colour. For instance, the way people dress and the colours they use are outrageous, and when one goes through the streets of a large town and looks at the shop-windows with a vision sharpened by occultism, he will be obliged to decide for himself the question whether what he sees comes from sound reason or from something else. And if the judgment as regards colour is bad, it is still worse with form. But this limited talent also exists in regard to the decoration of rooms, and when it takes place in full consciousness it is frightful to be obliged to hold our anthroposophical lectures in conventional rooms. When this fact is considered and then compared with our present surroundings, with all this which has proceeded from our intentions, which surrounds us not in any way from caprice, but as we must be surrounded, if we wish to work under favourable conditions, then we shall be able to realise the importance of what has been done here; and the words that I have said to you today are intended to help us to realise it.