The Michael Mystery
XV. Heavenly History, Mythological History, Earthly History. The Mystery of Golgotha
In the spatial cosmos there stand in opposition to one another: World Expanse, and Earth-Centre. In the World-Expanse, strewn abroad as it were, are the Stars. From the Earth-Centre, forces radiate forth in all directions to the World-Expanse.
As Man stands to-day in the world, in the present cosmic age, the Stars in their shining, and the Earth-forces in their working, can only appear to him collectively as the accomplished work of the divine spiritual beings, with whom his link is in the inner man.
But there was once an age of cosmic history when this shining of the stars and these earth-forces were still a direct spiritual revelation of the divine spiritual beings actively at work within his own being.
Then came another age. The Star-Heaven separated as a corporeal existence out of the divine spiritual tide of activity. There arose what may be called World-Spirit and World-Body. The World-Spirit is a multiplicity of divine Spirit-Beings. They send their influences, in the earlier age, from the places of the stars upon the earth within. What there rained down in light from the regions of the world-expanse, what radiated forth as forces from the earth-centre, was in actuality the Intelligence and the Will of those divine spirit-beings who were shaping Earth and Earth's Manhood.
In the alter cosmic epoch — after the evolution of Saturn and Sun — this Intelligence and Will of the divine Spirit-Beings became ever more spiritually inward in its workings. What they had actively been present in, present with their very Being, became now the ‘World-Body,’ an harmonious ordering of the stars in cosmic space. Looking back upon these things in spirit, comprehending them in a spiritual world-conception, one may express it thus: Out of the original Spirit-Body of the world-creative Beings there arose World-Spirit and World-Body. The World-Body marks in stellar order the stellar movement the way in which the Gods were working, long long ago in their Intelligence and Will. For the present age of the Cosmos, what once lived in the stars as freely moving, freely shaping divine intelligence and will, is now set fast in them as fixed Law.
What shines therefore from out of the star-worlds to-day, to Man upon earth within, is not the immediate expression of divine will and divine intelligence, but a sign, left stationary, to mark what this divine will and intelligence were long ago, even in the stars. In the marvelous star-configuration of the heavens, waking wonder in the human soul, we may behold therefore a past manifestation but not the present manifestation of the Gods.
But what is thus ‘past’ in the glory of the shining of the stars, is ‘present’ in the world of the spirit. And Man lives with his own being in this ‘present’ world-spirit.
In the evolving forms of the world, we must look back upon an ancient epoch of cosmic history, when world-spirit and world-body worked together as a unity. We must keep before our eyes the intermediate epoch, during which they develop as a duality. And we must think forward into the future — into the third epoch, when the world-spirit will once more absorb the world-body into its sphere of action.
For the ancient epoch there could have been no ‘calculating’ the constellations and the courses of the stars, for they were an expression of the free intelligence and the free will of divine spiritual beings. In the future, there will again be no calculating them.
‘Calculation’ only has any meaning for the intermediate epoch of the Cosmos.
This, which is true of the constellations and the courses of the stars, applies also to the action of the forces which radiate from the earth-centre into the world-expanse. What there spring forth ‘from the depths’ also becomes ‘calculable.’
Everything tends from the earlier cosmic epoch towards the intermediate one, when the worlds of Time and space become ‘calculable,’ and when Divine Spirit, in its manifestations as Intelligence and will, must be sought ‘behind’ the ‘Calculable.’
This intermediate epoch alone affords the conditions under which Mankind can progress from a dull, dim consciousness to a clear, free consciousness of Self — to free intelligence and free will of his own.
There had to come the time when Copernicus and Kepler ‘calculated’ the world-body; for the cosmic forces that served to bring about this moment were necessary to that development of human Self-consciousness. The disposition for this Self-consciousness was laid in an older age; then came the time when it was advanced so far as to be able to calculate the distant world-expanses.
‘History’ begins to be played out upon earth. There would have been no History, had not the world-expanse with all its stars become set in ‘fixed’ constellations and orbits. In the ‘course of history’ upon earth, we have a reproduction — though a quite transformed one — of what, once on a time, was ‘heavenly history.’
The peoples of olden time continued to carry this ‘heavenly history’ still in their consciousness, and turned their eyes rather upon this than upon ‘earthly history.’
In Earthly History there lives the intelligence and will of Man, at first in connection with the cosmic, divine will and divine intelligence, and then independently.
In Heavenly History there lived the intelligence and will of the divine spirit-beings connected with mankind.
Looking back over the spiritual life of the various peoples one finds, in the far remote past, such a consciousness amongst men of their being together and willing together with the divine spirit-beings, that their own human history is still a heavenly history. In his narration of first ‘origins,’ man's tale is not of earthly proceedings but of cosmic. Indeed, even for his own times — the times in which he is presently concerned — that which goes on in his earthly surroundings seems to him so insignificant in comparison with what is going on in the Cosmos, that he disregards the former and only pays attention to the latter.
There was an age when the consciousness of mankind beheld the Heaven's history in mighty impressions, in which the divine spirit-beings themselves stood before Man's soul. The divine Beings spoke, and Man heard their speech in dream-like Inspiration; they revealed their forms, and Man beheld them in dream-like Imagination.
This Heavenly History, which for a long while filled men's souls, was followed by Mythical History, now for the most part regarded as old poetic fiction. This Mythical History links together heavenly doings and earthly doings. ‘Heroes’ for instance came upon the scene — super-human beings. These are beings who stand higher than men in their evolution. Men at a particular time, for instance, have only developed the different parts of Man's being as far as the Sentient Soul. The Hero however has already evolved what will one day take its place in Man as ‘Spirit-Self.’ The Hero cannot directly incarnate in a physical body under earthly conditions; but he can do so by going down into the physical body of a human being, and thus enabling himself to work as a man amongst men. In the ‘Initiates’ of earlier ages we have beings of this kind.
The actual fact, with regard to all these things which occurred in the course of the world, is not simply that mankind in the successive periods of history ‘pictured’ things in one way or another in their own minds. What actually took place between the more spiritual, ‘incalculable’ world and the corporeal ‘calculable’ one, itself underwent a change. Only this much may be said: long after the actual conditions had changed in the world, human consciousness, in one or another other of the peoples, still clung to a ‘view of the world’ which corresponded to a far earlier reality. At first it was so, that human consciousness — which does not keep pace with the progress of cosmic events — still really saw the things of old. Then came a time when spiritual sight grew dim, and the old things were only maintained by tradition. Thus in the Middle Ages people still traditionally ‘pictured in their minds’ an intervention of the heavenly in the earthly world, which was no longer seen, since the power of pictorial vision no longer existed.
Moreover, the evolution of the various peoples in the earthly sphere is such that they retain one or other view of the world, with its corresponding picture, for varying lengths of time; so that there are living alongside one another, views of the world which by their essential character should be living after one another.
The different views of the world however, existing amongst the different peoples, did not proceed only from this, but also from the fact that these different peoples, according to their dispositions, saw different things. Thus the Egyptians saw that world in which there are beings who long ago stopped short on the road to human evolution and never became earth-men; and they saw Man, after his earth-life, in all that he had to do with beings of this kind. The Chaldean peoples saw rather, how spiritual beings — both good and evil — from beyond the earthly sphere entered into earth-life to influence its course.
To the ancient Heavenly History, properly speaking, which extends over quite a long period of time, there then succeeds the Mythological History, which is shorter, but still long in comparison to the subsequent period of ‘history proper.’
As I described, men in their consciousness leave go but reluctantly of the old views, in which gods and men are pictured as fellow-actors in a common field. Proper, earthly history had long been in existence — ever since the development of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul — whilst men were still ‘thinking’ in the sense of what had been in former times. Only with the first opening flower of the Spiritual Soul did men begin to turn their eyes upon ‘history’ in the proper sense.
Now in the human spirit working in earthly history, loosed from its tie with the Divine Spirit, men have the possibility to realize within themselves free intelligence and free will.
So the weaving of the world-process in which Man is interwoven moves on, between the altogether calculable and the workings of free intelligence and free will. Under the joint action of both, the world-process is manifested — in every variety of shade betwixt the two.
In his life as he leads it between birth and death, Man has ready-laid for him in the Calculable, as a foundation, the bodily groundwork upon which to unfold the free Incalculable of his inner, spiritual soul-life. His life between death and new birth is passed in the Incalculable — yet in such a way that in his inner life of soul and spirit, the Calculable is revealed to him in thought. Thereby — out of this Calculable — he becomes the architect of his next earth-life.
In ‘history,’ the Incalculable is played out on earth — an Incalculable with which however the Calculable is interwoven, if only in feeble measure.
Against this order established between Calculable and Incalculable by the divine spiritual beings who have been associated with Man from the beginning of all things, against their harmonizing of the Cosmos through ‘Measure, Number and Weight,’ stands the opposition of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Beings. Lucifer can combine with his own form of being, as he has made it, nothing calculable. His ideal is the cosmic unconditioned action of intelligence and will.
This Luciferic tendency is one fitly suited to the world's order in those fields where freedom should rightly rule events. And there Lucifer is justly the spiritual helper of Mankind in their evolution. Without his aid, freedom would never make its way into Man's spiritual and soul life, built as it is upon a calculable, bodily basis. But Lucifer would like to extend this tendency to the whole Cosmos. And here his activity becomes a war against that divine spiritual order to which Man originally belongs.
Here Michael intervenes. With his own being he stands in the Incalculable; but he dresses the balance between the Incalculable, and that Calculable which he bears within him as a World-thought received from his Gods.
The Ahrimanic Powers stand otherwise in the world. They are the complete opposite of the divine spirit-beings with whom Man is originally connected. These latter are at the present day purely spiritual beings, who bear within themselves perfectly free intelligence and perfectly free will, but who create, in this their free intelligence and will, a wise insight into the necessity of the Calculable and Unfree, as a World-Thought from whose sheltering lap Man may grow up into a free being. And with all the Calculable, with this World-Thought of the cosmos, they are united in Love. This Love streams from them throughout all the universe.
In complete opposition to all this is the grasping greed of the Ahrimanic powers, in which lives cold Hate of everything expanding in freedom. Ahriman's aim and endeavour, in all that he pours forth into world-space, is to make a cosmic machine. His ideal is, ‘simply and solely,’ Measure, Number and Weight. He was called into the Cosmos prepared for the service of human evolution, because it was necessary that this, his special department — Measure, Number and Weight — should be developed.
He who comprehends the world as everywhere Spirit-in-body, he alone really comprehends it. This must be carried down into the world of Nature with regard to the powers at work there, such as the Divine Spiritual Powers who work in Love, and the Ahrimanic Powers who work in hate. In the natural, universal warmth, as it sets in with the spring and tends on into summer, we must behold the natural love of the Divine Spirit-Beings. In the freezing blasts of winter we must recognize the workings of Ahriman.
In the height of midsummer, Lucifer mingles his power with the Love, the Warmth of Nature. At Christmas-tide, the Divine Spirit-Beings with whom Man is from his origin united turn their power against the frozen Hate of Ahriman. And ever more and more towards the springtime, Natural Divine Love is mildly at work, mitigating Natural Ahrimanic Hate.
The yearly sign of this Divine Love, new-manifested as it is year by year, is the time of Remembrance, when we recall how with the Christ the free element of God entered into the calculable element of Earth. Christ works in perfect freedom within the Calculable. In so doing, He renders harmless that which craves the Calculable only — Ahriman and his forces.
The unique Event of Golgotha is the free, cosmic act of Love within Earth's history. It is to be comprehended too only by the Love that Man brings to its comprehension.
The cosmic process with which the evolution of mankind is interwoven, and which reflects itself in human consciousness as History (in the most comprehensive sense,) may be distinguished into: a lengthy period of Heavenly History; a shorter one of Mythological History; and the comparatively short Earthly History.
This cosmic process, at the present time, falls apart into: the ‘not-to-be-calculated’ working of divine spirit-beings, who freely create in free Intelligence and Will, and the ‘calculable’ processes or the world-body.
To the Calculable of the world-body are opposed the Luciferic Powers; to the creating in free intelligence and free will, the Ahrimanic Powers.
The unique Event of Golgotha is a free cosmic act, which originates in World-Love and can only be comprehended by Man's Love.