In a second period man passes from the realm of the Archai to that of the Archangeloi. With these, however, he is no longer united in so bodily-spiritual a way as he was with the Archai. His union with the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi is more purely spiritual. But it is still so intimate that he cannot yet be said to have been severed in this period from the Divine-Spiritual world.
The Archangeloi Hierarchy gives to man for his etheric body that which corresponds in it to the form in the physical, which he owes to the Archai. The physical body, through its form, is adapted to the Earth in such a way as to become on Earth the vehicle of self-consciousness. In like manner the etheric body is adapted to the extra-earthly cosmic forces and relationships of forces. In the physical body lives the Earth; in the etheric the world of the stars. All the inner forces which man bears within him in such a way that while he is on Earth he does at the same time, in his posture, movement and gesture, emancipate himself from the Earth, he owes to the creation of the Archangeloi in his etheric body. As the Earth forces are able to live in the physical body through its formation, so in the etheric body there live the forces which stream down on all sides from the encircling Cosmos to the Earth. The Earth-forces living in the physically visible formation of the body are those which make the form of man relatively complete, hard and fast within itself. Subject to a certain metamorphosis, the main outlines of man remain hard and fast throughout his earthly life. His faculties of movement, too, have hardened into permanent habits and the like. In the etheric body on the other hand, there is perpetual mobility, mirroring the constellations of the stars as they change during the earthly life of man. The etheric body shapes itself even in accordance with the changes in the heavens as between day and night; and it does so also with the changes that take place between the birth and death of the man concerned.
This adaptation of the etheric body to the heavenly forces is not in contradiction to the gradual severance of the starry heavens from the Divine-Spiritual Powers, mentioned in earlier studies. It is true to say that in very ancient times Divine Will and Divine Intelligence were living in the stars, and that in later times the stars passed over into the calculable. Through what has now become their finished work, the Gods are no longer working upon man. Nevertheless, through his etheric body man gradually achieves a relationship of his own to the stars, just as he does through his physical body to earthly gravity.
What man incorporates into his nature when at birth he descends from the Spirit-world on the Earth namely the etheric body which absorbs the extra-earthly, cosmic forces is created in this second period by the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi.
One of the essential features which man receives through this Hierarchy is his membership of a group of human beings on the Earth. Humanity is differentiated over the face of the Earth. Looking back into this second period, it is not, however, the present differentiation of races and nations that we find, but a somewhat different a more spiritual one. It is due to the fact that the starry forces strike the different places of the Earth in varying constellations. For on the Earth itself in the distribution of land and water, in climate, vegetation and the like the starry heavens are indeed active. Inasmuch as man must adapt himself to these conditions, which are really there as heavenly conditions on the Earth, such adaptation belongs to his etheric body; and the forming of the latter is a creative work of the choir of Archangeloi.
But now it is just in this second period that the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Powers enter the life of man in a peculiar degree. Their entry is necessary, albeit to begin with it may seem to be driving man beneath the level of his true nature.
If man is to develop self-consciousness in his earthly life, he must get loose from the Divine-Spiritual world from which he originally proceeded, in greater measure than that world itself can bring about. This is what takes place in the time when the Archangeloi are at work upon him. For his union with the Spirit-world is no longer as firm as it was when the Archai were at work upon him. Lucifer and Ahriman are more able to grapple with the spiritual forces proceeding from the Archangeloi, than with the stronger forces of the Archai.
The Luciferic Powers permeate the etheric formation of man with a more intense inclination towards the starry world than it would have if the Divine-Spiritual Powers, originally united with man were alone at work. The Ahrimanic Powers entwine his physical formation more tightly in the realm of earthly gravity than would have been the case if they were unable to exert their influence.
By this means the seed of full self-consciousness and of free will is planted into man. Much as the Ahrimanic Powers hate free will, in man by tearing him loose from his Divine Spiritual world they bring about the germinal beginnings of free will.
To begin with, however, during the second period itself, that which the various Hierarchies from the Seraphim down to the Archangeloi have brought about in man, is impressed into his physical and etheric bodies more deeply than would have been possible without the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence. For without this influence, the working of the Hierarchies would remain more in the astral body and the Ego.
Thus it happened that the more spiritual grouping of mankind over the face of the Earth, which the Archangeloi were striving for, did not take place.
Being pressed down into the physical and etheric body, the spiritual forces are transformed into their opposite. In place of something more spiritual, the differentiation of races and nations comes about.
Without the Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence, human beings on Earth would see themselves differentiated by forces working downwards from the heavens. The different groups would be to one another in their life like beings who willingly with love, give to one another of the spiritual and receive in turn. In races and nations it is earthly gravity which appears through the human body; in the spiritual groupings a mirrored image of the Divine-Spiritual world would have appeared.
With all this, the beginnings of what afterwards became the full self-consciousness of man had to be implanted in his evolution already at that time. And this meant that in a mitigated form, it is true, but yet in a certain way the primeval differentiation of humanity which existed when man passed over from the Hierarchy of the Exusiai to that of the Archai remained preserved.
Man as it were in a cosmic school experienced this stage in his evolution, contemplating it with inner feeling. True, he did not yet develop a knowledge of the fact that this was an essential preparation for his subsequent self-consciousness. But his feeling vision of the forces of his evolution at that time was none the less important for the incorporation of self-consciousness into his astral body and his Ego.
With respect to Thought, the following took place. By the Luciferic Powers man was informed with the tendency still to immerse himself in the old forms of the Spiritual, instead of adapting himself to the new. Lucifer indeed always has this striving to conserve for man the earlier forms of his life.
By this means human Thinking was evolved. In the life between death and a new birth man gradually developed that faculty which in primeval times had formed the thoughts in him. It was a faculty which at that time could behold the Spiritual, though it was like what is now mere sense perception. For at that time the Physical still carried the Spiritual upon its surface. Today, however, the faculty of thought preserved from that time can only work as restricted sense-perception. Man's power to lift himself in thought to the spiritual world gradually declined. This became fully evident at length when in the age of the Spiritual Soul the spiritual world was veiled for man in complete darkness. Thus in the nineteenth century it came about that the best men of science, unable to become materialists, declared: We have no alternative but to limit our research to that world which can be investigated by measure, number and weight and by the senses. We have, however, no right to deny a spiritual world, hidden beneath this world of Nature. In such words they indicated that there might be a world full of light, unknown to man, where man can only stare into an empty darkness.
And as Thought in man was misdirected by Lucifer, so was Will by Ahriman. Man's will was endowed with a tendency to a kind of freedom which he should have entered only at a later stage. This freedom is not real; it is but the illusion of freedom. Men lived in this illusion of freedom for a long time, and thereby became unable to evolve the idea of freedom in a truly spiritual way. They vacillated to and fro, between the one opinion and the other: that man is free, or that he is involved in a sphere of rigid necessity. And when with the spiritual Age of Consciousness true freedom came, they were unable to recognise it, because their powers of perception had too long become entangled in the illusion of freedom.
All that had sunk into the being of man during this second stage in the evolution of his lives between death and a new birth, he carried as a cosmic memory into the third, in which he still lives today. In this third stage he is related to the Hierarchy of the Angeloi as in the second to that of the Archangeloi. Only, this relationship to the Angeloi is such that through it the full independent individuality comes into being. For the Angeloi not the chorus this time, but one Angelos for one human being restrict themselves to the task of bringing about the right relation of the life between death and a new birth and the life on Earth.
A fact that may seem remarkable to begin with is this. For the individual human being in the second stage in the evolution of his lives between death and a new birth the whole Hierarchy of Archangeloi was working. Afterwards the guidance of nations and tribes becomes the task of this Hierarchy, and there is then one Archangelos as the Folk-Spirit for one nation. In the races the Primal Forces or Archai remain at work. Here again, for one race, one Being of the Hierarchy of the Primal Forces works as the Race-Spirit.
Thus the man of present time contains, in the life between death and a new birth also, the cosmic memory of earlier stages of his life. And in the physical world too, where something of spiritual guidance appears as it does in the races and nations, this cosmic memory is most distinctly present.
(New Year, 1925)
150. In a second period of evolution of the lives between death and a new birth, man entered the domain of the Archangeloi. The seed of his later conscious Selfhood prepared for, in the first period, in the forming of the human figure was now implanted in the nature of his soul.
151. During this second period he was driven by Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences more deeply into the physical than would have happened without their intervention.
152. In the third period, man enters the domain of the Angeloi, who only wield their influence, however, in the astral body and the Ego. This third period is the present; but what took place in the two former ones still lives on in human evolution and explains the fact that in the nineteenth century within the age of the Spiritual Soul man stared into the spiritual world as into vacant darkness.