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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Four Mystery Plays
GA 14
The Portal of Initiation (Written 1910)

Scene 3

A room for meditation. The background is a great purple curtain. The scene is purple in colour with a large yellow pentagonal lamp suspended from the ceiling. No other furniture or ornaments are in the room except the lamp and one chair. Benedictus, Johannes, Maria, and a child.

I bring to thee this child who needs some word
From out thy mouth.

My child, henceforth each eve
Thou shalt come unto me to hear the word
That shall fill full thy soul ere thou dost tread
The realm of souls in sleep. Wilt thou do this?

Most gladly will I come.

This very eve
Fill thy soul full ere sleep embraceth thee,
With strength from these few words: ‘The powers of light
Bear me aloft unto the spirit's home.’
(Maria, having taken the child away, returns.)

And now, that this child's destiny doth flow
Harmoniously through future days beneath
The shadow of thy gracious fatherhood,
I too may claim my leader's kind advice,
Who am its mother, not by bond of blood
But through the mighty power of destiny.
For thou hast shown to me the way wherein
I had to guide its footsteps from that day,
When I discovered it before my door
Left by its unknown mother desolate.
And wonder-working proved themselves those rules
Whereby thou madest me train my foster-child.
All powers, that deep in body and in soul
Lay hidden, issued forth to light and life:
Clear proof it was that all thy counselling
Sprang from the realm which sheltered this child's soul
Before it built its body's covering.
We saw its early promise blossom forth
And radiate more brightly each new day;
Thou dost know well how hard it was for me
To gain the child's affection, at the first.
It grew up 'neath my care, and yet nought else
Save habit chained its soul at first to mine.
It only realized and felt that I
Gave it the nurture and the food that served
The needs of body and the growth of soul.
Then came the time when in the child-like heart
There dawned the love for her who fostered it.
An outer incident brought forth this change—
The visit of the seeress to our group.
Gladly the child did go about with her
And soon did learn full many a beauteous word
Steeped in the mystic charm that graced her speech.
Then came the moment when her ecstasy
Descended on our friend with magic power.
The child could see her eyes, strange smouldering light,
And, terrified unto the vital core,
The young soul found itself.

In her dismay she fled unto mine arms;
And from that hour did grow her love for me.
Since that same time she doth accept from me
The gifts of life with her full consciousness
Not with blind instinct: aye, and since that day
When this young heart first quivered into warmth,
Whene'er her gaze met mine with loving glance,
Thy wisdom's treasures of their fruitage failed,
And much already ripe hath withered up.
I saw appear in her those tokens strange
That proved so terrible unto my friend.

A dark enigma am I to myself,
And grow still darker. Thou wilt not deny
To solve for me life's fearful questionings
I Why do I mar the life of friend and child,
When I in love attempt to work on them
According to the dictates of my heart
By spirit-lore instructed and inspired?
Oft hast thou taught me this exalted truth—
Illusion's veil o'erspreads life's surfaces—
Yet must I see with greater clarity
Why I must bear this heavy destiny,
That seems so cruel and that works such harm.

Within our circle there is formed a knot
Of threads that Karma spins world-fashioning.
Thy sufferings, my friend, are links in chains,
Forged by the hand of destiny, whereby
The deeds of Gods unite with human lives.—

When in life's pilgrimage I had attained
That rank which granted me the dignity
To serve with counsel in the spirit-spheres,
A godlike Being did draw nigh to me,
Who would descend into the realms of earth,
And dwell there, veiled in form of flesh, as man.
For just at this one turning-point of time
The Karma of mankind made this demand.
For each great step in world-development
Is only possible when Gods do stoop
To link themselves with human destiny.
And this new spirit-sight that needs must grow
And germinate henceforth in souls of men
Can only be unfolded when a God
Doth plant the seed within some human heart.
My task it was to find that human soul
Which worthy seemed to take within itself
The powerful Seed of God. I had to join
The deed of heaven to some human lot.
My spirit's eye then sought, and fell on thee.
Thy course of life had fitted thee to be
The mediator in salvation's work.
Through many former lives thou hadst acquired
Receptiveness for all the greatest things
That human hearts can e'er experience.
Within thy tender soul thou didst bring forth,
As spirit heritage, the noble gift
Of beauty, joined to virtue's loftiest claim:
And that which thine eternal Self had formed
And brought to being through thy birth on earth
Did reach ripe fruitage when thy years were few.—
Thou didst not scale steep spirit-heights too soon,
Nor grew thy yearning for the spirit-land
Before thou hadst the full enjoyment known
Of harmless pleasures in the world of sense.
Anger and love thy soul did learn to know
When thy thoughts dwelt yet far from spirit-life.
Nature in all her beauty to enjoy,
And pluck the fruits of art,—these didst thou strive
To make thy life's sole content and its wealth.
Merry thy laughter, as a child can laugh
Who hath not known as yet life's shadowed fears.
Thus thou didst learn to understand life's joy,
And mourn in sadness, each in its own time,
Before thy dawning conscience grew to seek
Of sorrow and of happiness the cause.
A ripened fruit of many lives that soul,
That enters earth's domains, and shows such moods.
Its childlike nature is the blossoming
And not the ground-root of its character.
And such a soul alone was I to choose
As mediator for the God, who sought
The power to work within our human world.
And now thou learnest that thy nature must
Transform itself into its opposite,
When it flows forth to other human souls.
The spirit in thee ripens whatsoe'er
In human nature can attain the realm
Of vast eternity; and much it slays
That is but part of transitory realms.
And yet the sacrifices of such deaths
Are but the seeds of immortality;
All that which blossoms forth from death below
Must grow unto the higher life above.

E'en so it is with me. Thou giv'st me light:
But light that doth deprive me of my sight,
And sunder me from mine own self in twain.
Then do I seem some spirit's instrument—
No longer master of myself. No more
Do I endure that erstwhile form of mine
Which only is a mask and not the truth.

O friend, what ails thee? Vanished is the light
That filled thine eye: as marble is thy frame.
I grasp thine hand and find it cold as death.

My son, full many trials have come to thee;
And now thou stand'st before life's hardest test.
Thou seest the carnal covering of thy friend;
But her true self doth float in spirit-spheres
Before mine eyes.

See! Her lips move; she speaks.

Thou gav'st me clearness yet this clearness throws
A veil of darkness round on every side.
I curse thy clearness; and I curse thee too,
Who didst make tool of me for weird wild arts
Whereby thou willedst to deceive mankind.
No doubt at any moment hitherto
Had crossed my mind of heights thy spirit reached;
But now one single moment doth suffice
To tear all faith in thee from out my heart.
Those spirit-beings thou art subject to,
I now must recognize as hellish fiends.
Others I had to mislead and deceive
Because at first I was deceived by thee.—
But I will flee unto dim distances,
Where not a sound of thee shall reach mine ears;
Yet near enough that thy soul may be reached
By bitter curses framed by these my lips.
For thou didst rob my blood of all its fire,
That thou mightst sacrifice to thy false god
That which was rightly mine and mine alone.
But now this same blood's fire shall thee consume.
Thou madest me trust in vain imaginings;
And that this might be so, thou first didst make
A pictured falsehood of my very self.
Often had I to mark how from my soul
Each deed and thought turned to its opposite;
So now doth turn what once was love for thee,
Into the fire of wild and bitter hate.
Through all worlds will I seek to find that fire
Which can consume thee—I curse—Ah, woe!

Who speaketh here? I do not see my friend.
I hear instead some gruesome being speak.

Thy friend's soul hovers in the heights above.
Only her mortal image hath she left
Here with us: and where'er a human form
Is found bereft of soul, there is the room
Sought by the enemy, the foe of good,
To enter into realms perceptible,
And find some carnal form through which to speak.
Just such an adversary spake e'en now,
Who would destroy the work imposed on me
For thee, my son, and millions yet unborn.
Were I to deem these wild anathemas,
Which our friend's shell did utter here and now,
Aught else but some grim tempter's cunning skill,
Thou durst not follow more my leadership.
The enemy of Good stood by my side,
And thou hast seen into the darkness plunged
All that is temporal of that dear form,
For whom, my son, thy whole love burns and glows.
Since through her mouth spirits spake oft to thee,
The Karma of the world could not restrain
Hell's princes also speaking thus through her.
Now only mayst thou seek her very soul
And learn her nature's inmost verity;
For she shall form for thee the prototype
Of that new higher life of humankind
To which thou dost aspire to raise thyself.
Her soul hath soared aloft to spirit-heights,
Where every man may find his being's source
Which springs to life and fullness in himself.
Thou too shalt follow her to spirit-realms,
And see her in the Temple of the Sun.—
Within this circle there is formed a knot
Of threads which Karma spins, world fashioning.
My son, since thou hast now attained thus far,
Thou shalt still further pierce beyond the veil.
I see thy star in fullest splendour shine.
There is no place within the realm of sense
For strife, such as men wage when they do strive
And struggle after consecration's gift.
Whate'er the outer world of sense begets
Of riddles soluble by intellect,
Whate'er this world engenders in man's heart
Born tho' it be of love or bitter hate
And howsoever direful its results:
The spirit-seeker must attain the power
In all these things to stand unmoved, serene,
Casting his gaze all unperturbed and calm
Upon the scene where such contentions rage.
For him must other powers unfold themselves
Which are not found upon this field of strife.
So didst thou need to fight to prove thy soul
In combat such as comes to him alone,
Who finds himself accoutred for such powers
As do belong unto the spirit-worlds.
And had these powers found thee not ripe enough
To tread the path of knowledge, they needs must
Have maimed thy powers of feeling, ere thou daredst
To know all that which now is known to thee.
The Beings, who can gaze into world-depths,
Lead on those men, who would attain the heights,
First to that summit whence it may be shown
Whether there lies in them the power to reach
To conscious sight within the spirit-realms.
And those in whom such powers are found to lie
Are straightway from the world of sense set free.
The others all must wait their season due.
But thou, thou hast preserved thy Self, my son,
When Powers on high stirred to its depths thy soul,
And potent spirits shrouded thee with fear.
Right powerfully thy Self hath fought its way
E'en though thy very heart was torn by doubts,
That willed to thrust thee into darksome depths.
True pupil of my teaching hast thou been,
First since that hour, so fraught with fate for thee,
When thou didst learn to doubt thy very self,
And gavest up thyself as wholly lost,
But yet the strength within thee held thee fast.
Then might I give thee of my treasured store
Of wisdom, whence to draw the strength to stand
Assured, e'en when mistrusting thine own self.
Such was the wisdom which thou didst attain
More steadfast than the faith once given to thee.
Ripe wast thou found, and thou may'st be set free.
Thy friend hath gone before and waits for thee
In spirit-worlds, and thou shalt find her there.
I can but add this guidance for thee now:
Kindle the full power of thy soul with words
Which through my lips shall grant to thee the key
To spirit-heights, and they will lead thee on
When naught else leads, that eyes of sense can see.
Receive them in the fulness of thy heart:
‘The weaving essence of the light streams forth
Through depths of space to fill the world with life;
Love's grace doth warm the centuries of time
To call forth revelation of all worlds.
And spirit-messengers come forth to wed
The weaving essence of creative light
With revelation of the souls of men:
And that man, who can wed to both of these
His very Self, he lives in spirit-heights.’
O spirits, who are visible to man,
Quicken with life the soul of this our son:
From inmost depths may there stream forth for him
That which can fill his soul with spirit-light.
From inmost depths may there resound for him
That which can wholly wake in him his Self
To the creative joy of spirit-life.

A Spirit-Voice behind the stage:
To founts of worlds primeval
His surging thoughts do mount;—
What as shadow he hath thought
What as fancy he hath lived
Soars up beyond the world of form and shape;
On whose fulness pondering
Mankind in shadow dreams,
O'er whose fulness gazing forth
Mankind in fancy lives.