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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Four Mystery Plays
GA 14

Rudolf Steiner set down four mystery plays written between 1910 and 1913 during periods of intense inner and outer work, the dramas are powerful testimonies to Rudolf Steiner's artistic creativity. In bringing soul and spirit forms into manifestation on the stage, they herald a new dramatic art for the future.

Although written to be performed on stage, these dramas may be read in a group setting and still have much of the intended effect. The four plays follow in sequence. It is desirable to read then in sequence.

Translated and Edited with the author's permission by H. Collison, M.A. Oxon., S. M. K. Gandell, M.A. Oxon., and R. T. Gladstone, M.A. Cantab. There are 2 books in this volume. We present them here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

  1. The Portal of Initiation (1910)
  2. The Soul's Probation (1911)
  3. The Guardian of the Threshold (1912)
  4. The Soul's Awakening (1913)

The Portal of Initiation

  • Beings and Persons Represented
  • A Prelude
  • Scene 1 — A debating room. Theodora's vision of the coming Christ.
  • Scene 2 — Johannes' meditation among the mountains: ‘Know thou thyself.’
  • Scene 3 — Meditation chamber. Maria's separation.
  • Scene 4 — The Spirit of the Elements. The Soul-world.
  • Scene 5 — The subterranean rock temple. The consultation of the hierophants.
  • Scene 6 — Continuation of Scene 4. Felicia: her First Fable. Germanus.
  • Scene 7 — The Spirit-world. Maria and her soul powers. Theodora's vision of the past incarnation of Maria and Johannes. The scene ends with Benedictus' great mystic utterance.
  • An Interlude
  • Scene 8 — The portrait of Capesius by Johannes. Strader's bewilderment.
  • Scene 9 — Johannes' second meditation among the mountains three years later than Scene 2. ‘Feel thou thyself.’
  • Scene 10 — As in Scene 3. A trial for Johannes.
  • Scene 11 — The Temple of the Sun. Destiny and debtors.

The Soul's Probation

  • Beings and Persons Represented
  • Scene 1 — Capesius. His occult exercises; and his despair.
  • Scene 2 — Meditation chamber the same as Scenes 3 and 10 of Play 1. Benedictus warns Maria that Johannes must be free. She resolves to look back upon past incarnations.
  • Scene 3 — Johannes and his painting. Maria resolves not to hinder his freedom by her love.
  • Scene 4 — As Scene 1. Capesius and Strader.
  • Scene 5 — Capesius at the Baldes' cottage. Dame Felicia's fable. Johannes and his double.
  • Scene 6 — The 14th century. The meadows by the Castle of the Mystic Knights. Country folk. The Jew. Thomas confesses to the Monk his love for Keane's daughter.
  • Scene 7 — Same period. The Interior of the Castle. The Grand Master and Council. The Monk's demand. The apparition of his late Master, Benedictus.
  • Scene 8 — Same period. Keane has discovered that Thomas and his sweetheart are the children of the Pint Preceptor and informs the First Preceptor of the fact. The scene closes with a discussion on evolution, and the inspired warning of the Second Master of Ceremonies.
  • Scene 9 — Same period. The Keanes. Dame Keane's fable. The Country folk. Thomas and Cecilia.
  • Scene 10 — Scene same as Scene 5. The return to the present day. Explanation of Scenes 6 to 9.
  • Scene 11 — Meditation chamber as in Scene 2. Maria defeats Ahriman.
  • Scene 12 — The same. Johannes and Lucifer.
  • Scene 13 — The Temple of the Sun. Destiny.

The Guardian of the Threshold

  • Beings and Persons Represented
  • Scene 1 — The ante-chamber to the rooms of the Mystic League. The reincarnated country folk have been invited to attend a meeting here.
  • Scene 2 — The same. Thomasius is invited to join the league and receive the blessing of the Rosy Cross. He declines on the ground that he has undertaken other work inconsistent with the objects of the league.
  • Scene 3 — The kingdom of Lucifer. The challenge: Lucifer: ‘I mean to fight.’ Benedictus: ‘And fighting serve the gods.’
  • Scene 4 — The house of Strader and his wife Theodora. (Lucifer at work.) Theodora's painful vision of Thomasius.
  • Scene 5 — The house of the Baldes. Strader's vision of his wife Theodora who has recently died. Capesius as a medium.
  • Scene 6 — The groves of Lucifer and Ahriman and their creatures who dance. Dame Balde's fable.
  • Scene 7 — The Guardian of the Threshold.
  • Scene 8 — The kingdom of Ahriman. The reincarnated country folk come here unconsciously in sleep. Strader comes consciously.
  • Scene 9 — The home of Benedictus, overlooking a factory town. The law of number. The Zodiac.
  • Scene 10 — The Temple of the Mystic League. The admission of Thomasius and others.

The Soul's Awakening

  • Persons, Figures, and Events
  • Scene 1 — Hilary's business is threatened with disaster because of his attempt to introduce into it his spiritual ideals and occult methods. He has engaged as controller of his machinery, Strader, who is generally known to be a failure because of his impractical inventions. With him comes a group of similar " cranks." Hilary's old manager is in despair.
  • Scene 2 — Johannes is a prey to delusion and loves to wander in his own dreamland. He is warned by Maria and Benedictus. Capesius, in a moment of clairvoyance gets a glimpse of Johannes' inner mood, and is so alarmed that he decides that there can be no blending of spiritual gifts with earthly things, and he withdraws from Hilary's group and goes to the old mystic Felix. Maria urges Johannes to discriminate between truth and self-delusion which can be done by the study of elemental sprites. The dance of gnomes and sylphs. The Youth of Johannes appears. It is in despair because it is separated from Johannes. Lucifer tries to console it with promises of human wisdom and love of beauty. Theodora offers divine wisdom.
  • Scene 3 — Arguments on plans of action and occult powers, during which Ahriman glides stealthily across the stage to bring dissension and confusion of thought among the speakers, who are ignorant of his presence. Strader's temptations. Felix speaks on mysticism. The appearance in spirit form of Maria and Benedictus to help Strader, and of Ahriman to thwart him. There is a repetition of Strader's part in Scene 2.
  • Scene 4 — Similar discussions between Hilary's manager and Romanus. Ahriman had succeeded in separating the various mystics. (see Strader's vision on p. 268.) Romanus makes a great impression upon the manager. Johannes and his double. Ahriman scoffs at the Guardian of the Threshold. Strader with Maria and Benedictus. The vision of the latter is troubled.
  • Scene 5 — The Spirit World. This scene needs careful meditation and some know-ledge of the author's system. Attention should be given to the indications of the planetary spheres — Mercury, Venus, Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn — to which in turn we may expand after death. Heed should be paid to the warning given by the Guardian of the Threshold. Lucifer here appears as a beneficent guide; so, too, the Other Philia.
  • Scene 6 — The Spirit World. The same remarks apply. Capesius is struck by the figures of his previous incarnations, as shown in the former plays. The Guardian of the Threshold will allow an even earlier incarnation to appear. Theodora's quotation refers to Scene 9 in ‘The Soul's Probation.’
  • Scene 7 — Shows in a remarkable way how the future development of the Baldes and Capesius is going to proceed. The concluding speech of the hierophant fore-shadows the approach of a new Era when candidates for initiation will get the hidden light independently and not under the hypnotic suggestion of the guiding priest.
  • Scene 8 — About 2000 B.C. The hierophant (Capesius) has refused to use his thought power to suggest to the candidate what his vision should be. The candidate has a free vision looking far into the future. A breath of love and freedom is wafted into the closely sealed precincts. The truth shall make thee free. But with this rebellion against the old order, there is a consequence. Lucifer and Ahriman hitherto chained within the temple break their chains and begin to work their will. The ancient temple has been invaded, but the Ego begins to wake. The reader will not over-look, in all this cosmic development, the individual development of the different characters which are difficult to understand from the other plays with-out this glimpse into their previous incarnation. The author has presented it in this order, as it corresponds to the reader's own experience.
  • Scene 9 — Maria's awakening. The reminiscence in waking of what has happened in a spiritual condition.
  • Scene 10 — Johannes' awakening. The quotations refer to Scenes 7 and 8.
  • Scene 11 — Strader's awakening. Benedictus' vision is again clouded. The reason here is probably Strader's approaching death. The quotations refer to Scene 3.
  • Scene 12 — Ahriman's manner, shape, and speech betray the fact that he is being found out by the followers of Benedictus. Ahriman hopes, however, to catch Strader. Note the satire indulged in at the expense of those occultists, theosophists, and others whose air of superiority makes them a laughing stock. Note also the last lines showing the importance of remembering the dead.
  • Scene 13 — Hilary and Romanus.
  • Scene 14 — Strader's death is announced and Hilary's manager is converted.
  • Scene 15 — Secretary and Nurse. The Secretary's speech. Ahriman's shape is here even more that of the conventional devil than in Scene 12. This is to show that his true nature is now fully grasped by Benedictus and his followers. This is seen in Ahriman's last speech. Note Benedictus' speech about the dead and their messages (p. 293). Benedictus tells Ahriman that one can only serve Good when one does good not for oneself. Ahriman's knowledge of his own final destruction. The defeat and exit of Ahriman. The triumph and initiation of Strader; his future power.