The Foundations of Esotericism
Berlin, 25th October 1905
Let us call to mind the point of time when, in the middle of the Lemurian Race, man raised himself up to spirituality. Now for the first time fructification with the Spirit, with the Monad became possible. Gradually, out of the chaotic Earth, through what had been separated off from man, the other beings had been formed which lived on the Earth as his companions. Man had developed a physical body, an etheric body and an astral body. The astral body had become purified and was just at that time adapted to receive Manas, Buddhi, Atma.
On the Earth everything developed quite gradually, so that mankind, still without intellect or possibility of speech, arose out of the uncoordinated Earth mass. Now we ask: How did this come about? A plant too does not grow out of nothing. A seed must be planted into the Earth. This was also the case with the people who were there at that time. The human being too had grown up out of the Earth and for this a seed had to be there on the Earth. Once a similar being had already existed. This seed-man had arisen on the Old Moon. From there he passed over in the seed condition, went through a Pralaya and then appeared once more on the Earth.
The development of the Earth had three preliminary stages: (Old Saturn, Sun and Moon). In the first three Earth Rounds these stages had a short recapitulation. In the First Earth Epoch the Saturn existence was repeated, in the Second Epoch the Sun existence and in the Third Epoch the Moon existence. It was only in the Fourth Round that the actual Earth existence emerged and then man had reached a somewhat higher stage than on the Old Moon. There he had not yet reached separate development, he had not yet become sufficiently purified to receive the Monad. On the Moon the astral body was still wild and passionate. On the Earth he had still to purify himself in order to be able to receive the higher principles. This purification was completed in the middle of the Lemurian Age.
The last human beings during the Old Moon existence are our physical forefathers. On the Earth they now developed somewhat further. The Earth-men of the pre-Lemurian Age are the actual descendants of the inhabitants of the Moon. This is why we call the inhabitants of the Moon the Fathers or Pitris of Earth-Men. These Earth-Men were as yet unable to use their front limbs for work. They were of animal-like form having a certain great beauty. Their substance was much softer than the physical matter of today: it was very much softer than what we now find with the lower animals. They were irradiated and an inner fire shone through them. When human beings were going through an earlier stage of evolution, they were still more beautiful and nobler in their form.
During the Age which preceded the Lemurian Age, we have the Hyperborean Age on the Earth, that of the Sun Men, of the Apollo-Men. They were formed out of a still nobler and even more delicate substance. Then we go still further back to the very first Race, to the Polarian men. At that time they lived in the tropical polar climate, a Race which was able to attain to special heights through the fact that a remarkable and great help had been granted them. The most beautiful of the Moon Pitris descended to the Earth. The Polarian human beings were very similar to four-footed animals, but they were formed out of a soft, pliant substance similar to a jellyfish, but much warmer. The human beings with the best forms, consisting of the noblest components, received at that time help of a special nature, for beings were still connected with the Earth who had earlier reached a higher stage.
All esotericism recognises that the Sun was first a planet; it only later became a fixed star. The sequence of stages that the Earth has passed through is: Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Earth. When the Sun was itself a planet, then everything which is now on the Moon and Earth was still in the Sun. Later Sun and Moon separated themselves from the Earth.
Let us think back to the time of the Old Sun. Then everything which now lives on the Earth, dwelt on the Sun. The beings were then quite differently formed, having only a physical body, much less dense than it is now, and an etheric body. Man's whole way of life was plant-like. The beings lived in the light of the Sun. Light came to them from the centre of their own planet. They were totally different from present-day man. In comparison with present-day man the Sun-man stood upside down and the Sun shone upon his head. Everything connected with reproduction developed freely on the other side. Man at that time stretched his legs, so to say, into the air. The plant has remained at this stage, its roots are in the earth and it stretches its organs of reproduction, stamens and pistil, into the air (plant). This Sun-man developed in seven different stages. His direction on the planet is the same as the growth of the plant on the Earth. Then, with the third incarnation of the Earth he became a Moon-man. He bent over, the vertical becoming the horizontal (animal). The tendency towards a spine developed. The symbol for this is the Tau = T. On the Earth he turns completely round. For this the symbol is the Cross. The symbolism of the Cross depicts the development from the Sun, through the Moon to the Earth. On the Earth the symbol of the Cross was attained by the addition of the upper vertical member above the T. This developed further in the bearing of the Cross on the shoulders.
The Sun-men too had attained a certain high development. There were also Sun Adepts, who had progressed further than the other Sun-men. They passed over to the Moon. There also they had the possibility of being on a higher level than the Moon-men, and they developed to quite special heights. They were the forefathers of the Earth-men, but had hastened much further ahead. When now in the second Epoch of the Fourth Round the Hyperboreans lived in their soft forms, these Sons of the Sun were in position to incarnate and they formed a particularly beautiful Race. They were the Solar Pitris. Already in the Hyperborean Epoch they created for themselves an upright form, completely transforming the Hyperborean bodies. This the other human beings were unable to do. In the Hyperborean Epoch the Solar Pitris became the beautiful Apollo-men, who in the Second Race had already attained the upright posture.
In the Old Sun everything was contained which was later extrapolated as Moon and Earth. All life and all warmth streamed up from the centre of the Sun. Then, in the next Manvantara (the Old Moon) the following took place: Out of the darkness of Pralaya the Sun emerged. A part of the Sun substance had the urge to detach itself. At first a kind of biscuit formation developed.
Then the one part severed itself completely and the two bodies continued side by side as Sun and Old Moon. The Sun retained the possibility of emitting light and warmth. The Old Moon retained the power of reproduction. It was able to bring forth again the beings who had been on the Sun, but they had to be dependent on the Sun for light and warmth. Because the Old Moon itself possessed no light, the beings had to orientate themselves towards the Sun. All plants therefore completely reversed their position on the Old Moon. The animals turned half round and human beings also only turned halfway; but to compensate for this they received on the Moon the astral body, Kama, and thereby, developed warmth from within outwards.
The Kama was at that time still an essentially warming force. This is why the human beings did not already then turn themselves completely towards the Sun. Life was in the darkness. The Old Moon also circled round the Sun, but not as our Earth does today. The Moon rotated around the Sun, in such a way that only one side was turned towards it. A Moon-day therefore lasted as long as a half year does today. Thus on the one side there was an intense heat and on the other side an intense cold.
On the Old Moon the predecessors of man again went through a certain normal development. But there were also Moon Adepts who hastened on in advance of the rest of mankind. At the end of the Old Moon evolution these Pitri beings were much more advanced than the rest of humanity, just as the Adepts are today.
Now for the first time we reach the actual Earth evolution. In the next Pralaya which followed the Moon evolution, the Moon fell back into the Sun. As one body they went through Pralaya. When the Earth eventually emerged out of the darkness the whole Sun-mass was united with it. In that epoch the first or Polarian Race began. Then the previous Sun-Men, in accordance with conditions at that time, were able to form this specially favoured species, the Sons of the Sun, because the Sun was still united with the Earth.
During the Hyperborean Period the whole again divided. One part severed itself and the Earth emerged out of the Sun. It is at this point that the Kant-Laplace theory is relevant. The earth was in a nebulous condition coinciding with the Kant-Laplace theory. The outer appearance seemed like the rings around Saturn. Now the second or Hyperborean Race evolved. Gradually the seeds of the Moon-Men appeared on the Earth, the Pitris in various degrees of perfection. They all still had the possibility of reproducing themselves through self-fertilisation.
A second severance followed. With the Moon everything connected with self-reproduction departed from the Earth, so that there were now three bodies: Sun, Earth, Moon. Then the possibility of self-fertilisation ceased; the Moon had drawn out what made this possible. Then the Moon was outside and there were beings who were no longer able to reproduce themselves; thus in the Lemurian Age the two sexes originated.
Such forms of evolution take their course only under the special guidance of higher beings, the Devas, in order to further evolution in a certain way. The leader of this whole progression is the God who in the Hebraic tradition is called Jahve; Jehovah. He was a Moon-God. He possessed in the highest sense of the word, the power that had developed on the Moon and accordingly he endeavoured to develop mankind further in this direction. In the earthly world Jahve represents that God who endows beings with the possibility of physical reproduction. Everything else (intellect) did not lie in the Jahve-Intention. If Jahve's intention alone had continued to develop, the human being would eventually have ceased to be able to reproduce himself, for the power of reproduction would have become exhausted. He would then only have been concerned with the creation of beautiful forms, for he was indifferent to what is inward, intellectual. Jehovah wished to produce beautifully formed human beings, like beautiful statues. His intention was that the power of reproduction should be continued until it had expended itself. He wanted to have a planet that only bore upon it beautiful but completely motionless forms. If the Earth had continued its evolution with the Moon within it, it would have developed into a completely rigid, frozen form. Jehovah would have immortalised his planet as a monument to his intention. This would doubtless have come about had not those Adepts, who had hastened beyond the Moon evolution now come forward. It was just at this time that they made their appearance. They had already developed on the Moon intelligence and the Spirit which we first developed on the Earth. They now took the rest of humanity into their charge and rescued them from the fate which otherwise would have befallen them. A new spark was kindled in the human astral body. Just at that time they gave to the human astral body the impetus to develop beyond this critical point. Jahve could now save the situation only by altering his manner of working. He created man and woman. What could no longer be contained in one sex was divided between the two sexes.
Two streams now existed, that of Jahve and that of the Moon Adepts. The interest of the Moon Adepts lay in spiritualising mankind. Jahve, however, wished to make of them beautiful statues. At that time these two powers contested with one another.
Thus on the Earth we have to do with a force having the power of self-reproduction; Kriya-shakti. This power is only present on the Earth today in the very highest Mysteries. At that time everyone possessed it. Through this power man could reproduce himself; he then became divided into two halves with the result that two sexes came into being on the Earth.
Jehovah withdrew the entire power of self-reproduction from the Earth and placed it in the Moon side by side with the Earth. Through this arose the connection between the power of reproduction and the Moon beings. Now we have human beings with a weakened power of reproduction, but not yet having the possibility of spiritualising themselves. These were the predecessors of present-day man. The Moon Adepts came to them and said: You must not follow Jehovah. He will not allow you to attain to knowledge but you should. That is the Snake. The Snake approached the woman, because she had the power to produce offspring out of herself. Now Jehovah said: Man has become like unto ourselves, and brings death into the world and everything connected with it.
‘Lucifer’ is the name given to the Moon Adepts; they are the bestowers of human intellectuality. This they gave to the astral and physical bodies; had it been otherwise the Monads would not have been able to enter into them and the Earth would have become a planetary monument to Jehovah's greatness. By the intervention of the Luciferic principle human independence and spirituality were saved. Then Jehovah, so that man should not be completely spiritualised, divided the self-reproduction process into two parts. What would have been lost however if Jehovah had continued his work alone will reappear in the Sixth Root-Race, when man will have become so spiritualised that he will regain Kriya-shakti, the creative power of reproduction. He will be in the position to bring forth his own kind. In this way mankind was rescued from downfall.
Through Jehovah's power man carries within himself the possibility of rigidifying. When one observes the three lower bodies we find that these bear within them the possibility of returning to the physical condition of the Earth. The upper parts: Atma, Buddhi, Manas, were only able to enter into human beings because the influence of the Snake was added. This gave man new life and the power to remain with the earthly planet. Reproduction however became bisexual and thereby birth and death entered into the world. Previously this had not happened.
When man, by working out of the spirit, transmutes the physical body, he conquers death. The separate forces exhaust themselves when they take on special forms. The force enters into the form with ever increasing density and hence life in the Lemurian Age had to receive a new impulse, which was brought about by the turning around of the Earth Globe. The axis of the Earth was gradually turned. Previously there was a tropical climate at the North Pole; later through the turning around of the Earth axis the tropical climate came into the middle region. This change proceeded with comparative rapidity but lasted nevertheless for perhaps four million years. [Rudolf Steiner later revised his time scale of earthly evolution to much shorter periods. Ed.] Four million years were needed by the Moon Pitris in order to turn the axis of the Earth. At that time the Moon Pitris development was already much further on than that of present day man.
Thus at that time the two sexes developed from the unisexual human being. In the beginning among the unisexual human beings there were very retarded individuals, but also those who were very far advanced. Only a small part of the Earth was a fitting dwelling place for the descending Monads. Then it was that human beings divided into two sexes. This had taken place earlier with the animals. Side by side with human beings there existed male and female animals. Very grotesque forms were able to live on the quite differently constituted Earth. They were also able to fly. They bore within them the future promise of what human beings possess today. Esoteric religions call human beings able to bring forth their own kind Bulls. (Certain animal symbols are related to this.) The Bull is a symbol of fertility; previously came the Lion, the symbol of courage, and before this the Eagle. In the vision of Ezekiel, 61See Note 51. referring to those earlier times, the animals have wings because they could raise themselves above the earth. Man only appeared later.
Thus we have the human being as he evolved from the unisexual into the bisexual state, and together with him bisexual animals, male and female. It was only through the Lunar Pitris that man became mature enough to have a body capable of receiving the Monads. The latter however selected only the most highly developed examples and evolved a noble human form; only these had to be withdrawn completely from intercourse with anything around them, otherwise the beautiful bodies would have been lost. It was only then that the body formed itself in accordance with the Monad. The other forms which were less advanced failed to satisfy the descending Monad; hence they poured only a part of their spiritual force into the imperfect human bodies and the third stream utterly refused to incarnate. Because of this there existed very poorly endowed human bodies and also others quite devoid of spirit.
In the middle of the Lemurian Age we find the first Sons of the Fire Mist; these incarnate in the fiery element, which at that time surrounded the Earth. The Sons of the Fire Mist were the first Arhats. 62... given as explanation of the 7th Stanza of Dyzan in Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine. Then there arose the other two kinds. In the first Lemurian human race those who had received only a small spark were little adapted to forming a civilisation and soon went under. On the other hand those who had received absolutely nothing found full expression for their lower nature. They mingled with the animals. From them proceeded the last Lemurian races. The wild, animal instincts lived in wild animal-like human forms. This brought about a degeneration of the entire human substance.
Had all human beings been fructified with Monads, the whole human race would have greatly improved. The first evil arose through the fact that certain Monads refused to incarnate. From this, through intermingling, deterioration set in. In this way the human being suffered an essentially physical degradation. Only in the Atlantean Age did the Monads regret their previous refusal; they came down and populated all mankind. In this way arose the various Atlantean races.
We have now reached a time when something happened to bring about the deterioration of the Earth. The wholesale deterioration of the races brought this about. It was then that the seed of Karma was planted. Everything that came later is the result of this original Karma; for had the Monads all entered into human forms at the right time, human beings would have possessed the certainty of animals, they could not have been subject to error, but they would not have been able to develop freedom. The original Arhats could not go astray; they are angels in human form. The Moon Adepts however had so brought things about that certain Monads waited before incarnating. Through this the principle of asceticism entered into the world — reluctance to inhabit the Earth. This discrepancy between higher and lower Nature arose at this time. Because of it man became uncertain; he must now try things out, oscillating from one experience to another, in an attempt to find his way in the world. Because he had original Karma, his own further Karma came about. Now he could fall into error.
The intention was that man should attain knowledge. This could only be brought about through the original Karma. The Luciferic Principle, the Moon Adepts, wanted to develop freedom and independence to an ever-greater degree. This is very beautifully expressed in the saga of Prometheus: 63See lecture 7.10.1904 in Greek and Germanic Mythology (Typescript). Zeus will not allow human beings to get fire. Prometheus however gives them fire, the faculty of developing ever higher and higher. By so doing he condemns man to suffering. Man must now wait for the coming of a Sun Hero, until the Principle of the Sun Hero in the Sixth Race will make him able to develop further without Luciferic knowledge. Those endowed with this higher degree of advancement are like Prometheus, they are Sun Heroes.
We have thus learned to know a two-fold order of human beings: those who succumbed to the Jehovah Principle, the bringing of perfection to the physical Earth, and also spiritual human beings who were becoming more highly developed. Jehovah and Lucifer are engaged in an unceasing battle. It is the intention of Lucifer to develop everything upwards, towards knowledge, towards the light. In Devachan the human being can bring a certain degree of advancement to the Luciferic Principle. The longer he remains in Devachan the more of this can he develop. He must pass through as many incarnations as are necessary in order to bring this Principle fully to perfection.
Thus there exists in the world a Jehovah Principle and a Lucifer Principle. If the Jehovah Principle alone were to be taught, man would succumb to the Earth. If the teaching of reincarnation and karma were allowed to disappear entirely from the Earth we should win back for Jehovah all the Monads and physical man would be given over to the Earth, to a petrified planet. If however one teaches reincarnation and karma, man is led upwards to spiritualisation. Christianity therefore made the absolutely right compromise, and for a period of time did not teach reincarnation and karma, but the importance of the single human existence, in order that man should learn to love the Earth, waiting until he is mature enough for a new Christianity, with the teaching of reincarnation and karma, which is the saving of the Earth and brings the whole of what has been sown into Devachan. As a result, in Christianity itself there is conflict between the two Principles: the one without reincarnation and karma, the other with this teaching. In the former case, everything which Lucifer could bring about would be taken from human beings. They would actually drop out of reincarnation and turn their backs on the Earth, becoming degenerate angels. In that case the Earth would be going towards its downfall. Were the hosts of Jehovah to be victorious on the Earth, the Earth would remain behind as a kind of Moon, as a rigidified body. The possibility of spiritualisation would then be a missed opportunity. The battle in the Bhagavad Gita 64In 1912 – 13 Rudolf Steiner gave two lecture cycles on this subject: ‘The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul’ and ‘The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita’ describes the conflict between Jehovah and Lucifer and their hosts.
It might still be possible today for the teaching of Christianity without reincarnation and karma to prevail. Then the Earth would be lost for the Principle of Lucifer. The whole earth is still a battlefield of these two principles. The principle that leads the earth towards spirituality is Lucifer. In order to live in accordance with this Principle one must first love the Earth, one must descend on to the Earth. Lucifer is the Prince who reigns in the kingdom of science and art, but he cannot descend altogether on to the Earth: for this, his power does not suffice. Quite alone, it would be impossible for Lucifer to lead upwards what is on the Earth. For this, not only is the power of a Moon Adept necessary, but of a Sun Adept, who embraces the universality of human life, not manifesting only in science and art. Lucifer is represented as the Winged Form of the Dragon; Ezekiel describes him as the Winged Bull.
Now there came a Sun Hero, similar to those who appeared in the Hyperborean Epoch, represented by Ezekiel as the Winged Lion. This Hero, Who gave the second impulse, is the Christ, the Lion out of the tribe of Judah. The representative of the Eagle will come only later; he represents the Father Principle. Christ is a Solar Hero, a Lion-Nature, a Sun Pitri.
The third impulse will be represented by an Adept who was already an Adept on Saturn. Such a one cannot as yet incarnate on the Earth. When man is not only able to develop his higher nature upwards, but working creatively is able to renounce completely his lower nature, then will this highest Adept, the Saturn Adept, the Father Principle, the Hidden God, be able to incarnate.