Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Temple Legend
GA 93
Part III

18. Freemasonry and Human Evolution II (women only)

23 October 1905, Berlin* Source for the text.
The text was taken from the most complete of four, supplemented by the other three.

The things which we wish to discuss today have not hitherto been discussed in front of women. Therefore, it is a rather bold step I am taking to speak about these things to you. However, particular occult currents make it necessary.

Within these currents there are some things of an intimate nature which, up to a short while ago, could not be mentioned in the presence of women, because the occult brotherhood, whose task it was to nurture these intimate things, had a strict rule, to admit no women members. What they had to do in the world might not be done in cooperation with the female element. Until just recently, this rule has been strictly adhered to. Nowadays, the sole possibility of creating a balance between the two sexes exists only in the Theosophical Society. Here is indeed the only place where these things are discussed in front of women.

Now we ask: Why has this separation of the sexes come about—which has taken such a grotesque form in the Lodges of Freemasonry? If one wants to understand why this segregation really became habitual, one has to use a rather grotesque metaphor: When two powers are at war with each other, it would be very foolish if the general of one side were to reveal his plan of campaign to the enemy general, before the battle started. It would be the same as handing over one's weapons to the enemy, if one were to enlist women in the Freemasons. For it is a matter of war for the Freemasons, a war indeed against the female spirit, a matter of sharp opposition to the female spirit as such. This way was necessary, yes, occult Freemasonry was founded precisely for this purpose. Therefore it was the custom to speak about occult matters to the two sexes separately. First, a form must be found, in which these things can be spoken of to women.

The founding of Freemasonry lies far back in the past. It took place at the beginning of the fourth Cultural Epoch of our present fifth [Post-Atlantean] Root Race. The Old Testament, which gives us an explanation of these things, was written down at that same time. We are told that higher spirits made revelations to Moses, which he then wrote down. The knowledge of higher things was already there, however, much earlier on, and was handed on from generation to generation, from priestly mouth to priestly mouth, until it was put into documentary form by Ezra1 See note 2 to the preceding lecture. to whom the writing of these things is ascribed. When the Old Testament began to gain power through the priests, a tremendous opposition to this priestly book arose in the Freemasonry brotherhoods, for a particular reason. To be sure, this opposition has always been there, and it was necessary. We must be clear about why.

Let us agree that everything which happens on the physical plane has to recapitulate earlier stages in a particular way. On earth there is always a recapitulation of the events of earlier times. [In his life] before birth man has to go through the stages which he once experienced with his dull animal consciousness [in earlier times]. So, for instance, the Renaissance period of the Middle Ages was a recapitulation of ancient Greek times. We also find such recapitulation in planetary events. Before the present earth became what it is today, it had to recapitulate earlier conditions before it could become an independent planet, our earth in fact, in the Fourth Round [or recapitulation]. Thus, whenever anything new has to appear on earth, the earlier stages must always be recapitulated in a new form. So the human spirit in the fifth Root Race [our present Race] has worked through a recapitulation of the [happenings of] the Lemurian Root Race [the third Race], when humanity was still of one sex only, and then became two-sexed. That had a great influence on its spiritual development. In the third Sub-Race of the fifth Root Race, the Egypto-Babylonian period, there was a progressive recapitulation in the realm of spiritual life of what had happened physically to man of Lemurian times.

Before there was [separate] male and female, the two were combined; so then the two sexes separated from each other. As regards spiritual development, we have this happening in the fifth Root Race:

Third Root Race: Lemuria: division of physical evolution into two sexes, male and female.

Fifth Root Race: Division of spiritual evolution into male and female spirit, into Jehovah worship, or priesthood, and Freemasonry.

In the first Post-Atlantean epoch, in the [ancient] Indian culture, everything was still at a higher level than the physical plane. The original Indian wisdom, which stems from the first Post-Atlantean culture, is, spiritually speaking, primarily connected, not with the present physical plane, but with the conditions of that earlier time when humanity was still [combined] male-female. Therefore, at that time, little regard was paid to the existence of [separate] sexes. There was no question of a dualistic principle in this; that comes only in the following Sub-Race. The Vedas belong to a much later time. Already, in the second Sub-Race, there was a great schism. The outward expression of this schism is depicted for us in the Old Testament, quite wonderfully. Genesis has it very beautifully and clearly: Before Yahveh created man, he made fruits and animals and so on, on earth, and only then did he create man, Adam, whom he then divided into two sexes.

This account rests on occult perceptions of the physical facts. Now, of course, all occult wisdom presents a relationship between physical events and later spiritual wisdom; for physical events arise out of Divine Wisdom and wisdom later re-emerges out of physical life, out of man. There is a connection there between wisdom, perception and physical life.

The whole fertilising and fructifying force by which a new person is created, used to be combined in one sex. Then the human being was separated into male and female. Which sex can best lay claim to the generative power? It is the female. Therefore Zeus, who was worshipped as the progenitor of the human race, was portrayed in the oldest [versions of] Greek mythology as having female breasts.2 See note 3 to the preceding lecture. Zeus as a superhuman being, was nearer to the female sex. The female sex was thus the first, the earlier one, and at that time had the power in itself of producing the complete human individual. This generative power lay within a human being of undivided sex, who approximated, in its outward physical form, more towards the female. In this single-sexed human being, the fertilising [principle] was wisdom, the spirit itself; and the fertilising of the female spirit by inspired wisdom is a later recapitulation of this. This human being of the single-sex era was the result of the fertilisation by the Divine Spirit of the substance produced in the woman.

Now you understand what it was by which a woman could give birth to a human being. Physically, there is first of all a woman, who is fertilised from above. It was the Divine Spirit in woman which was the fertilising principle. When the separation of the sexes happened, the differentiation started in the transformation of the female's spiritual organs of fertilisation into organs of wisdom. The masculine power that the woman had in herself turned the creative force into organs of wisdom. So half the generative force stayed with the woman; the creative physical forces stayed with the man. As a result of this separation, the spinal cord and the brain with the nerve branches appeared, as portrayed in the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. The organ of wisdom is formed in the vertebrae by the spinal cord and its extension into the brain. From that time on, there is a duality. in man; namely, the two trees of the biblical record, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.

And now the new beings adapt themselves to the change. The individuals who had previously been female did not all subsequently take on the female form. The female side—the capacity to produce human beings—withdrew from one section and left behind, in substitution, the power to fertilise in a quite different way. Physical nature had divided itself into what fertilised and what needed to be fertilised. Spiritual nature, too, had similarly divided itself. In female individuals the spirit acquired male character and colouring; in the male the spirit had a female character. That is still the female within man.

The biblical legend shows this very clearly. As is known, the man having two sexes was forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The power with which Jehovah had invested mankind was: to make his wisdom work in the woman. ‘Thou shalt not eat of the Tree of Knowledge’ means the same as ‘Thou shalt not separate off the force of fertilisation and make it independent.’ For Jehovah's power, the fertilising power, would thereby be lost to the woman. When woman ate from the Tree of Knowledge, she thereby laid the basis for becoming independent in respect of wisdom, thereby ceasing to remain a mere tool of Jehovah as he had planned. But thus she lost, along with Jehovah's power, the power to fertilise herself through wisdom as well. By eating [from the Tree of Knowledge] and giving the apple to man, she wiped this power out. Thus woman became dependent on man. It was Lucifer who led mankind along this path in order to make him independent. Jehovah was against this, and forbade man to eat from the Tree of Knowledge for that reason. However the woman did eat and gave to the man. The man ate too, so that the punishment decreed by Jehovah ensued. New bodies have to come into existence, which will work out the Karma of previous existence; death and [re-] birth come into the world. Woman is now no longer fertile through herself, but has become barren. And with fertilisation coming from outside, the possibility of this kind of death enters the world.

The biblical story of Paradise reveals this deep connection in images; ancient priestly traditions became the content in these images, and ancient priestly wisdom was intuitively [? or evidently: German anschaulich] incorporated in them. Woman has, then, become infertile in respect of spiritual wisdom, because she has demanded physical perception. She gave to man and he ate as well; they were guilty, and were driven out of Paradise, to the formation of which they had made no contribution. That is the old priestly tradition about the origin of the sexes; this contains a profound insight into the connection between actual events.

What now happened as the result of the female separating itself from the male? Which of the sexes still possessed a shadow of that power of productive spiritual wisdom, the male or the female? We have seen that the wisdom of the female actually had a male character; this is the creative, the productive, the intuitive, what is original, what is fertile. The same divine power which formerly worked within woman to fertilise, to produce the physical human being, now worked as fertilising principle in the perception of the Divine centre in man's being. The religions work through words and images to further this process.

The female being becomes physically infertile, in the sense that she cannot produce offspring out of herself as she did before. The masculine, passive spirit is the one which is spiritually infertile, but the man is the one who can fertilise physically. Spiritually, he now lets himself be fertilised by everything in the world; he now becomes spiritually fertilised so that he himself can fertilise physically. The whole world penetrates him first; he becomes fertilised spiritually, the woman physically. Woman, by contrast, is spiritually self-fertilising, whereas man is fertilised by the spirit. The male wisdom is fertilised by everything external being gathered and combined. Male wisdom thus resulted, which was orientated towards assembling worldly wisdom. This [kind of wisdom] was not actually there at first, as [against] that which flowed down from above; it had first to be put together by perceiving the physical world. Female wisdom, by contrast, was actually transferred to the priesthood. The wisdom of the priests turns out to be a property deriving originally from the ancient feminine wisdom. Indeed, only if he separated it into two sexes could Jehovah sustain the human race. Two opposing factions resulted, Freemasonry and priestly rule, which were symbolised by Cain and Abel.

Now, there is a difference between the female priestly wisdom and the male aspiration. This is described to us in the legend of Cain and Abel. Abel was a shepherd and occupied himself with the life that was already there. He is the symbol of the inborn divine force which works in man as the wisdom which he does not acquire for himself, which flows into him. Cain creates something new out of what the world offers. He represents the passive masculine wisdom, which must at first be fertilised from outside, which goes out into the world to gather wisdom and to create from what has been gathered. Cain killed Abel; which means that male wisdom offers resistance against the female wisdom, since it feels that it must subdue and remodel physical wisdom.

The old Freemasons set themselves the ideal, therefore, of taking up this challenge. They wanted to use male wisdom to work against the female wisdom that had been taken over by the priesthood. The great images of the Bible were to be considered as intuitive female wisdom transferred to the priests; to which they wished to counterpose the wisdom self-acquired by the male. This battle against the wisdom of the priests expressed the opposition of the Freemasons. Those who took part in it had to be kept free of every influence of the female wisdom. This battle was concerned with physical evolution, and it was therefore necessary for the Freemasons to avoid any contact with the female sex as far as their work was concerned. They knew that their opposition to the female spirit could only be carried through if they were undisturbed by female thinking. One had to affirm something positive and generally prevent any disturbing element interfering.

Freemasonry thus created the Temple Legend as an answer to the Bible Legend. This was to be the sword of battle against the priesthood. We therefore want to bring this Temple Legend before your soul. It has the following content:

In the beginning one of the Elohim created Cain by uniting himself with Eve. Another Elohim, Yahveh, countered by creating Adam, who united with Eve, as a result of which Abel was born. Cain killed Abel and Jehovah therefore made the race of Cain subject to the race of Abel.

That means that originally the worldly wisdom rebelled against the priestly wisdom and was defeated; for the Abel fine was continued in Seth and all worldly wisdom was made subservient to the priestly wisdom.

Next, it is related how the descendants of Cain conquered the world, how they developed the arts. Music, arts and sciences were cultivated by them. Tubal-Cain (Genesis 4:21–22), the master of brass and ironwork, Jubal, from whom the pipers and violinists descend, and Hiram, the builder of Solomon's Temple (I Kings 7:13) are numbered among the descendants of Cain.

So, with Hiram, we have arrived at the transition from the third to the fourth Post-Atlantean epoch,3 Hiram was living during the reign of King Solomon, which is reckoned as being 993–953 B.C. The fourth Sub Race had its beginning in 747 B.C. according to Rudolf Steiner. when priestly rule turned into rule by kings. Kingship results from God's grace, as represented by King Solomon. Solomon's power was not sustained by work done on the physical plane, but was the manifestation of God's grace. Priestly wisdom was turned into rule by kings. This was thus regarded as the successor to priestly rule, which was [now] unable to do—from its own resources—what was necessary for the progress of mankind on earth. The one who was to build the Temple had to be enlisted from among the descendants of Cain, because he would possess the autonomously worked out thinking.

The legend goes on to relate that Balkis, the Queen of Sheba, was betrothed to King Solomon. She visited him and was [astounded] at the Temple building—as he was at her wisdom. She wanted to see the master builder himself, for she could not conceive how [such a] wonderful building could result from human wisdom. Hiram came and made a forceful impression on her, simply by his glance alone. Next she asked to see those who worked on the Temple as well. When Solomon said this was impossible, Hiram made the mystical Tau sign in the air and all the workers streamed together immediately. In the mystical Tau sign lie the forces which the Sons of Cain use to work on the physical plane.

Three of Hiram's apprentices are discontented because he did not promote them to the Master's Degree. They conspire to hurt him. They want to spoil his masterpiece. Now he intends to make the Molten Sea; this is a major work of art, to be cast out of a fluid element, out of molten brass. This is a symbol of the Great Work of Art for which the entire mineral kingdom must be re-cast; [which is] the task of our Manvantara.4 This is the Indian theosophical term for a great cosmic epoch of evolution. A period of manifestation such as the planetary states (Old Moon, Old Sun, etc.,) The three apprentices do the following: they wreck the casting of the Molten Sea. Hiram tries to put this right by pouring water on the casting; everything then flies apart in a shower of fiery rain. As Hiram, in despair, gives himself up for lost he is led to the centre of the earth by a figure whom he recognises as Tubal-Cain. There he is told that Jehovah, or Adonai, is nothing else than an enemy of the Sons of Fire; he wants to destroy the Sons of Fire. Hiram, however, would have a son, whom he would indeed never see, but who would start a new race on earth. Tubal-Cain then gave him a hammer with which he can complete the casting of the Molten Sea. However, the three apprentices murder him. Before his death, he breathes out a word, which he inscribes on a golden triangle, and buries. No one understands the word; it is the Lost Word of the Freemasons. Hiram is buried and an acacia twig is planted on his grave. The triangle is dug up again, but no one knows its worth. It is buried again and a cube set up, on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.

Now what is meant by ‘Jehovah hates the Sons of Fire?’ These are the people who were born by means of the single sex. In them wisdom is mingled with Kama, the earthly kamic fire [- the astral body]. Those who have devoted themselves to the female priesthood are the sons of Abel. Hiram was promised: ‘You will have a son who will found a new race. However, you will not know him.’ This new race must come when the Lost Word regains its power, and is installed in a new way. The occult tradition which is embodied in Freemasonry works to bring about the re-establishment of the Lost Word. It works to enable the introduction of the active into the passive male element; so that it can regain the procreative [force] in the spirit, to turn what is passive into something active, so that the Sons of Cain can produce out of themselves.

The following tradition developed: the female was the primeval force. This gave the world everything that was in the world as wisdom. However, [the female element] lost part of the physical power of reproduction, which was transferred to the male. Now everything re-spiritualises itself again, in which process the male power attempts to grab control for itself. The male element in thinking seeks to outlast the female. There will come a time, however, when sexlessness will again be re-established and the struggle is about which of the two sexes will first attain this state of sexlessness. Hence Freemasonry endeavours to make the male sex—or, to express it better, the male spirit—outlast the female and attain to the state of sexlessness.

Now there is an occult connection between the power of speech and the power of sexual production. The Word has made everything. Originally it lived in man. Then man lost it. He can no longer create independently because he no longer has the Word. Only someone who was present at the Creation can know it. Tubal-Cain knew it and gave it to Hiram. Whoever wants to regain the power of procreation must gain possession of the Word. The truly creative power must unite itself with the Word. The Word will bring forth the man of the future; for the son of Hiram really will be seen. Fire, the Divine Power, will then establish itself in a new way. A new race will replace the old. In the ancient Hebrew language there is a Word, a Mantram, which, it is said, will create the world if uttered sufficiently strongly.5 This possibly refers to the ‘Ineffable name of God’ which, according to Hans Ludwig Held (‘Von Golem und Shem’ in Das Reich, January 1917), ‘is a difficult formula sequence corresponding to the 12-, 42-, or 72-letter name, the knowing of which reveals the secret of God's works or God's activity from beginning to end.’ Man will thus beget spiritual man by means of speech itself once the Word has developed sufficiently. Now we grasp what is represented by the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent is what winds itself upwards in the backbone as spinal marrow. Perception in the physical is that [kind of knowledge] which originates in the nervous system. ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed;’6 Genesis 3, 15. by that is meant enmity between the seed of the physical, physical perception, and the seed of the spirit, spiritual perception. The spiritual, the woman, indeed bruises the head of the serpent, but only after it has wounded her in the heel. This is that [power] which presses the foot [of man] from the centre of the earth.

The power of speech changes at man's puberty. This was regarded as a portent of the new Son of Hiram (II Chronicles 2:13). The ideal which the Freemasons had set themselves was therefore to bring about the procreation of this son from the male sex, which is to result from the power of the larynx. Everything which subsequently appeared on the earth in physical form had its origin in the spirit. In the very beginning, the only things to work on earth were those which had resulted from the Divine Spirit. There then appeared, on the one hand, the female image-wisdom of the priests, and on the other, the imageless wisdom of Cain. Now it is interesting that when an image-content was sought for the wisdom of Cain, the male wisdom then borrowed from the female wisdom; the Temple Legend and the entire content of Freemasonry derives from the old priestly wisdom, from the revelation from above. That was concealed in symbols. However, the symbols gradually ceased to be understood. Gradually, everything occult vanished from Freemasonry. The three Craft Masonry degrees are orientated wholly towards the physical plane.

Because we have seen why these spiritual currents run parallel to each other, we will now also understand the significance of the theosophical movement. It is preparing, in the spiritual realm, what will later happen on the physical plane—the reunion of the sexes. The divided wisdom must likewise flow together again in the one Divine wisdom.

Through theosophical wisdom, a balance must be found in man, between the religious priestly wisdom and the wisdom of Freemasonry. The wisdom of the future must be brought out of the higher human, which lives equally in both male and female. To develop what is needed, and what is completely uninfluenced by things of the physical plane, is the purpose of the theosophical movement.

Theosophy is truly male-female wisdom, wisdom which is equally valid for both sexes. Through the teaching of reincarnation one recognises that what comes to expression in every new earth life is not the personality of that particular earth life, but that the causal body, the entelechy, creates itself asexually. When we become aware of this we axe spiritually quickened with what is higher than the sexual, with what is independent of the causes of conflict between the two currents. Thus theosophy is the balancing movement; and it alone can bring about the balance. Only in theosophy can one speak about an occultism which applies equally to both sexes; only from this source can one think of a real balance between the two sexes. Everything else is an after-effect of the previous dual sexuality.

Freemasonry sets itself the task of preparing for the future. So, the wholly exclusive principle of former times was abandoned as early as the eighteenth century. And in 1775 the first of the so-called Adoption Lodges was founded; a lodge for women, since the law of the balance of the sexes was recognised. And so the connection was established between men and women through the founding of a lodge for women. But every member of a women's lodge had to be adopted by a man from a men's lodge.

Indeed, H.P. Blavatsky belonged to such an Adoption Lodge.7 H. P. Blavatsky belonged to such an Adoption Lodge. See notes 6 and 7 to the preceding lecture. And so this theosophical experiment was made by Freemasonry itself. This shows you that whatever is correct is always preceded by an experiment; only the reason why such an experiment is made may not be understood immediately. However, man can equally not expect that fundamental forces in the world will always be understood right away. It may be that one prefers one or the other current; therefore the two currents will run parallel to each other for a long time yet. In order to achieve a harmonious balance it may be necessary to pour into Freemasonry what will lead it over towards the theosophical movement.

Now you will also grasp why, in the Middle Ages, the Church had to evolve a quite specific ideal. Freemasonry created its ideal for the future—the Church created its ideal for the future. It had nothing to do with Freemasonry. Christ lived in the Church as ideal—a male ideal, indeed. This male ideal could not suffice for the occult current within the Church. Man needed the active as well as the passive [principle]; he had to think out what he lacked. He needed something which would complete him, as a means of concentration. He was already a man; he had to think out the woman. The occultist who understood something about this, who was not a Freemason, must conceive the woman. Thus did the Cult of Mary spring out of monasticism. This came to the Church—to the priesthood, and to Freemasonry, that is—as a third current.

All three currents had basically the same aim—to make mankind independent of the sexes. But the way of achieving this aim varied. The Christian occultist sought the male principle in woman, to embody it in himself.

One has to be clear about the fact that the true inner man is independent of the sexes, which are divisive; that is why one passes through both sexes during different incarnations. And now you must consider that, for Freemasonry, the battle on the outer physical plane is waged so that all individualities which incarnate in female bodies are gradually led towards the male, so that the male lasts longer than the female. It should outlast the female, because the female was the earlier one. This was in the back of the masonic mind, as an ideal; but it was one-sided.

What ideal does theosophy have in the back of its mind-, The ideal of theosophy is to use the wisdom that comes from higher planes to bring about, on the physical plane itself, a human race that is above sexuality. Therefore theosophy is indeed a wisdom that is not broken up into [various] religions, that does not rely on any particular religion but falls back on the primal wisdom that made the world, that replaces that wisdom which, as priestly wisdom, differentiated itself into the various wisdoms. It must do this; because, in the course of time, the priestly wisdom has completed its task. Theosophy, however, wants to conquer the future, to conquer what still has to come rather than what has already been; it is in a particular sense a continuation of the ancient priestly wisdom, of the Mysteries, and nevertheless, in another sense, is in contrast with them.

Opponents of the theosophical movement would be those who want to stick rigidly to the ancient priestly wisdom, who seek to retain it and, so to speak, mummify it in its old form. The plan of the higher [worlds] for world development is to guide evolution towards a modern spiritual life which will forge the future. The very first blush of the dawn of the development of a new wisdom—which has to come—showed at the time when the Rosicrucians brought a new spiritual life to human development, in the fifteenth century. This was a matter of a new impulse coming into the world. The theme of this ran, that the old priestly wisdom should be transformed into a new [wisdom].

Forces also existed which wanted to re-conquer the world for the ancient priestly wisdom; an Order was thus founded with the aim of winning the earth back for the old priestly wisdom. This Order [the Jesuit Order] chose the ideal male in contrast to the Cult of Mary. It used occult powers to erect something like a dam to hold back the whole stream of independent life, and to conserve what seeks to cling to the Cross. It championed the male principle, the Cross by itself, without the roses. However another Order added roses to the Cross, and new life sprang out of them.

So we have two modern currents. The one has brought the old into the present and seeks to check progress with all its might. The other has surrounded the old Cross with roses. It has grafted a new shoot—the Cross entwined with roses. These two currents run parallel with each other, the one order having a Cross without roses, and the other, which reveres the roses on a new Cross, which must come. These are the Rosicrucians. The theosophical movement grew out of this current; it springs from the newly flourishing scion of the rose, which must mature in the future.

Thus we have seen how this battle started, in which women were not allowed to play a part. Our task is to bridge the gulf between the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians. The work is difficult, but it must be done. It involves reaching towards the awareness of the higher humanity beyond sexuality. It is difficult to win through to that, but it is possible, and this will succeed, this will become reality.