The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls
3. The inner life of the Folk Spirits. Formation of the Races
9 June 1910, Oslo
In the course of these lectures we shall undertake investigations that will readily strike a responsive chord in all of you because they will stimulate your immediate and lively interest. But since the picture would otherwise be incomplete we must first embark upon such inquiries as are necessary in order to ensure a full and complete understanding and which you will find rather more difficult to grasp than the central theme of our lectures. Today, for instance, we shall be obliged to turn our attention to the inner life of the normal Folk Spirits, those Archangelic Beings of whom we have spoken in the two preceding lectures.
We have already described them in their external aspect as Beings two stages beyond man, Beings who, at the present time, are engaged in transmuting their etheric bodies into Buddhi or Life Spirit. Now man is also involved in this activity. In so far as he is involved in the progressive evolution of these Archangelic Beings, this Folk Spirit is reflected in the human individuality itself as the folk-characteristic of the individual human being.
We must now look a little more closely into the inner life of the Folk Soul. If we wish to throw light upon the inner being of man today, we must picture it as composed of three members:
- the Sentient Soul which is the lowest member,
- the Intellectual Soul or Mind-Soul, the central member, and
- the Spiritual Soul or Consciousness-Soul, the highest member, in which the human ego first becomes conscious.
Self-consciousness is first developed in the Spiritual Soul. Nevertheless the ‘I’ of man is active in all three members of his inner life, in the Sentient Soul, in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul and in the Spiritual Soul (Consciousness-Soul).
In the Sentient Soul man is hardly aware of his ego and in consequence is the victim of his passions and desires. The ‘I’ stirs feebly in the Sentient Soul, struggles to free itself, emerges for the first time in the Intellectual Soul and only becomes fully conscious in the Spiritual Soul. If we wish to examine these three members of the inner being of man independently of each other, we must regard them as three modifications, as three members of the astral body. These modifications prepare the transformation of the astral body itself, of the etheric body and of the physical body. These transformations, however, are not to be confused with the real inner being of man. The psychic life, the inner being of man, consists of three modifications of the astral body. The three modifications can manifest themselves only through the agency of the lower bodies — the Sentient Soul through the astral body, the Intellectual Soul through the etheric body and the Spiritual Soul through the physical body. We can thus distinguish the inner being of man from his outer sheath or envelope. Man's inner being therefore consists of three modifications of the astral body.
Just as man's inner life which is the field of ego-activity is manifested in these three modifications of the astral body, so the true inner life of the Folk Spirits, or that which corresponds to the inner life of man, is manifested in three members, three modifications of the etheric body. In man we distinguish Sentient Soul, Intellectual Soul, Spiritual Soul; in the Archangelic Beings, the normal Folk Spirits, we distinguish three modifications of the etheric body and since these three modifications are situated not in the astral, but in the etheric body, they differ fundamentally from the three modifications in the soul-life of man. Therefore, you must think of the form of consciousness, of the entire soul-life of these Folk Spirits, as different from that of man. Let us now, turn aside from an external description to look more closely into the inner life of these Folk Spirits. That will not be very easy, but we must be prepared to make the endeavour. We must take our starting-point from some familiar conception, a conception that bears a close relation to the inner life of the Folk Spirits. In the normal life of man such conceptions are few and far between; man's consciousness has very little in common with that of the Folk Spirits. It may help you towards an understanding of the consciousness of the Folk Spirits if you will bear with me in the following observation.
Now you have all learnt at school that the sum of the three angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles. You know that this axiom could not in any way be demonstrated from external experience. Picture, for example, the wooden or metallic triangles in your box of geometrical instruments. If you measure the three angles of a triangle with the aid of a protractor you will never discover from external experience alone that the sum of these three angles is equal to 180 degrees. But, irrespective of whether you construct a triangle or merely imagine it, you will know at once from inner experience that the sum of the three angles is 180 degrees. This must be an inner experience, it must spring from the inner power of your own soul. In order to realize this one need only reconstruct mentally the following. (The diagram is intended only as a symbolic representation of the thought.)
This figure shows conclusively that the sum of the three angles is equal to two right angles. You need only visualize this figure and it will confirm this axiom for all triangles. You can hold this figure in your mind's eye without the need to draw it. You thus perform an operation in pure thought by the power of your own inner activity; there is no need to go outside yourself. You can imagine for a moment that the world of sensation and the world of sense-impressions no longer exist. Imagine the external world as non-existent and space a creation of thought; then, in this space, the sum-total of the angles of every triangle would amount to 180 degrees. In order to arrive at geometrical and mathematical knowledge sense-data are superfluous; inner experience, what takes place in consciousness itself, suffice.
I selected this example because it is the simplest and most practical and confirms what people have learnt at school. I could also give you the example of Hegelian logic, which would also provide you with a number of inner concepts. But here you would find much with which you are unfamiliar, since Hegelian logic is only known to the few. From this it is evident that man can arrive at knowledge purely from within, without the stimulus of external motivation.
If you can imagine that which can only be arrived at externally through the logic of mathematics you will have some idea of how the consciousness of the Archangels works. They do not perceive the external world of colours and tones, such as the ordinary man experiences. These sensations are unknown to a Being of this kind; it is impossible for him to receive tactile impressions of objects. Such experiences are foreign to him. But his experiences can be expressed in these words: ‘Something is now streaming into me from the world of inspiration and this inspiration permeates my consciousness and takes full possession of it’.
Now the Archangels are not Beings who are limited to mathematical concepts only; rather is it the consequence of man's limitations that he can only conceive of the activity of the Archangels in terms of abstractions, such as the truths of mathematics. These truths are the normal experiences both of man and the Folk Spirits. From this you may infer that the Archangels are not interested in the phenomenal world perceived through the senses. The external world as experienced by man, and his sense-derived knowledge of that world, is a world unknown to the Archangels. If you exclude, therefore, from your picture of the world all sensations and perceptions of the physical world, then you exclude precisely that which does not concern the Archangels. The question then is: what facet of consciousness is still common to man and the Archangels, to the Folk Spirits? All experiences of the Sentient Soul, the normal joys or sorrows of life, all colours and sounds, in fact all sensory perceptions of the external world — none of this concerns these Beings. Eliminate therefore the entire contents of the Sentient Soul of man and remember that the world-picture which is the product of the Sentient Soul is of no importance to the Archangels; they cannot participate in it.
Even one part of the Intellectual Soul that is stimulated by external sensations has no significance for the Archangels. That which is triggered off by external motivation, man's intellectual preoccupations and emotional experiences, these too do not concern the Archangels. But in the Intellectual Soul of man there are, however, certain things which he experiences in common with the Archangels. We are fully aware of this when we see, for example, how our moral ideals are born within us. There would be no moral ideals if our sentient responses, our joys and sorrows and our thought-life were dependent upon our sense perceptions of the external world. In that event no doubt we might delight in the flowers of the field or in a beautiful landscape, but our hearts could never be fired with enthusiasm for an ideal that may illumine us from beyond the external world, an ideal that we can inscribe in our hearts and to which we arc passionately devoted. But we must not only glow with enthusiasm and respond with sensibility in the Sentient Soul; we must also learn to reflect. The person who only feels and does not think may well be an enthusiast, but he is never a practical man. We must not receive ideals into our Sentient Soul from outside; we must allow them to stream into us from out of the spiritual world and we must work upon them in the intellectual or Mind-Soul. Artistic and architectural ideals and so on are present in the Intellectual Soul and in the Spiritual Soul. They are related to that which man cannot perceive externally, but which pervades and illumines his inner being so that it becomes a part of his life.
As we follow the life of peoples from epoch to epoch we note how new ideas have continually arisen and how new sources of hidden knowledge have been revealed from time to time. From what source could the Greeks have taken their conceptions of Zeus and Athene if they had relied solely upon external perception? Everything that is included in the traditional wisdom, in the mythologies, religions and sciences of peoples was born of inner spiritual experience. Thus one half of our inner life, that of our Intellectual Soul and of our Spiritual Soul is nourished from within. Indeed to the extent to which man is inwardly permeated with what I have just described, to that extent the Archangels can penetrate into the inner being of man and this defines the extent of their actual participation. You must therefore exclude from the inner life that which the Sentient Soul receives from outside and which the Intellectual Soul elaborates. Then we come to the ‘Ego’ which to us is the highest member of our being. What we introduce into our moral consciousness are ideals, moral and aesthetic ideals. Whilst man's perception of the inner world is screened from him, he is able through the medium of the senses to perceive the external world of colours, sounds, cold and warmth. At the same time he is aware that behind these colours, sounds, warmth and cold there exists a fundamental reality, namely, the Beings of the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. And so man can think of the world in the way I have indicated as having continuity in higher realms. The vision of these higher realms is denied the ordinary person and it is this loss of vision that accounts for the growth of materialism. If man could have a clear view over the realm extending beyond the Intellectual Soul and Spiritual Soul, then it would be as foolish to doubt the existence of the spiritual world as it would be foolish today to doubt the existence of the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms.
You will recall how man's ‘I’, his highest member, embraces the Sentient, Intellectual and spiritual Souls. Now the soul-life of the Archangel first begins with the existence of its soul-life in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul; it then rises into the ‘I’ which embraces a world of higher realms, a realm of spiritual realities in which it dwells, as man dwells in the kingdom of the animals, plants and minerals. We must realize therefore that the soul-life of this Archangelic Being may possess what we call human ‘I’; nevertheless the ego of the Archangel is not of the same nature, it is not identical with the human ‘I’. The ‘I’ of the Archangel is, in fact, two stages higher, so that the Archangel and his ‘I’ are rooted in a higher world. Just as man sees colours and hears sounds by means of his sense-perception, so the Archangel looks down upon the world that embraces the ‘I’ as objective truth; but around this ‘I’ is still gathered some of that part of the astral nature which we human beings call the Intellectual or Mind Soul. Think of these Beings as gazing into a world which does not extend to minerals, plants and animals. Instead of this, imagine their spiritual gaze to be directed towards their world-picture and that they perceive therein centres or focal points. These centres are the human egos around which again is gathered something that appears as a kind of aura. This picture illustrates how the Archangelic Being looks down upon those personalities of the folk belonging to him and who constitute his particular people. His world consists of an astral field of perception in which there are certain centres; these centres, these focal points, are the individual human personalities, the individual human egos. Just as to us colours, sounds, warmth and cold lie within our field of perception and constitute a world of reality, so to the Archangelic Beings, to the Folk Spirits, we ourselves with a part of our inner life are their field of perception; and just as we set out to conquer nature and transform it to serve our purposes, so we, in our turn, in so far as we belong to a particular Folk Spirit, are the raw material to be moulded by the Archangels or Folk Spirits.
Thus we gain insight, strange as it may appear, into a higher epistemology of the Archangels. This is entirely different from the epistemology of man; the Archangels start from a datum of a different order. For man the datum is everything appertaining to spatial extension and which we know through sensory apprehension as colour, sound, warmth, cold, hardness and softness. The datum for Archangels is what appears in the field of human consciousness; to them that is an aggregate of centres or focal points round which the inner experiences of man are grouped, in so far as these experiences take place in the Intellectual or Mind-Soul. Their activity is, by comparison, of a higher order.
What are the specific characteristics of the world of the Archangels or Folk Spirits? The world of man is characterized by the fact that he feels an object to be warm or cold when he takes hold of it. The Archangel experiences something similar when he meets with human individualities. He meets with some who respond more actively to the quickening powers of the soul, men with a richer inner life; these make a deeper impression on him. Others he finds casual, lethargic, and psychically empty. He feels them as warm or cold respectively, just as the human soul responds to impressions of warmth and cold. Such are the characteristics of the world of the Archangel who, according to circumstances, can make use of the individual men and work on their behalf by weaving out of his own being that which has to guide the whole people. But there is another way in which the life of this Archangel is related to the life of the particular people he is leading. Just as the graph of man's life shows an ascending an descending curve, the springtime of youth and the winter of old age, so the Archangel experiences his youth and old age in, the rise and fall of a people's culture.
We must now look again into the inner life of such an Archangel. From what I have said you will have observed no doubt that what man receives from without, the Archangel receives from within; hence when the Archangel experiences the individuals members of a people as centres within him, he feels that this, experience does, in effect, originate in his consciousness, but nevertheless is alien to him. It resembles the sudden ideas that flash into our consciousness — its influence upon him is in inverse proportion to the influence of youth and age upon man. In youth man feels his limbs to be young and supple, to be growing) and developing. In old age they become flaccid and atrophy That is something which man feels to be an expression of his organic life. Now the Archangel, it is true, feels everything to be an expression of his inner life, but the rise and fall of a nation nevertheless seems something foreign to him. It is something which he feels to be independent of him and for which he is not directly responsible, but which gives him the occasion to incarnate in a particular people at a definite time. When the opportunity for incarnation occurs, when a people can be found in the full vigour of youth, in the creative period of its life, then the Archangel incarnates in that people just as man incarnates after passing through the period between death and rebirth. Equally the Archangel senses his impending death, feels the need to withdraw from the people in question when he perceives the individual centres beginning to be less productive, less active and to lose their inner vitality. Then comes the time when he withdraws from the particular national community, enters into his Devachan, the life between death and rebirth, in order on a later occasion to seek out another community. Thus the springtime of a people, its youthful vigour and vitality testifies to the youth of the Folk Spirit, which he experiences as a living, vitalizing force within him. He experiences the decline of the life of a people as the withering of the centres in his inner field of perception. This should give to some extent an insight into the inner being of a particular Folk Soul.
In the light of this information we may say that in certain respects a Folk Soul is rather far removed from the individual human being, for man's Sentient Soul and the lower part of his Intellectual Soul are beyond the immediate perception of the Folk Spirit or Archangel. For man, however, it is something very real, something that he feels to be intimately associated with the very core of his own life. In a certain respect the Archangel Being, the guiding Spirit of a nation, is something which hovers above the individual members. Man's personal experiences which derive from his sense perceptions are wholly foreign to the Archangel who is guiding the people. But there are intermediaries, and it is important that we should realize that such intermediaries exist. They are the Beings we call Angels and they mediate between Archangels and man. You must understand quite literally, that Folk Spirits are Archangels, Spirits who have completed the transformation of their astral bodies into Spirit Self or Manas and are now in process of transmuting their etheric body into Life Spirit. Intermediate between those Beings and man are the Angels. These are Beings who are engaged in transmuting their astral body into Spirit Self or Manas, but have not yet completed their task. At the present time man stands at the initial stage of this task; the Angels are nearing the end of this task but are by no means finished with it. Therefore these Beings are more closely related to the life and activities of man; with their whole soul-nature they feel more drawn to the astral body. Hence they have the fullest understanding for the joys and sorrows of man. But because they possess a higher Ego than the human ego, because they are able to reach up into the higher worlds, their consciousness extends into those spheres where the consciousness of the Archangels is active. They are therefore the true intermediaries between the Archangels and the individual human being. They transmit the behests of the Folk Spirits to the individual souls and thereby help to determine what the individual can do, not only for his own evolution, but also for his whole people.
In the life of man these two streams flow side by side. The one stream carries him forward from incarnation to incarnation — it is concerned with his personal destiny, which he has to fulfil in order to discharge that duty which is to him the most solemn and sacred because it is peculiarly his own. He cannot afford to stand still because his latent capacities would otherwise lie fallow if he failed to cultivate them. Such is his individual destiny by virtue of which he progresses from incarnation to incarnation.
But his contribution to his own people, all that touches upon the affairs of his immediate community, stems from the inspiration of the Angel who transmits the behests of the Archangel to the individual.
We can easily picture therefore a people in inhabiting a certain territory; over this people extends the etheric aura of the people into which the forces of the Folk Spirit work, modifying the etheric body of man in accordance with the three types of force. In this Folk-aura the Archangel is at work. We must think of him as a higher Being, two stages higher than man in evolution, hovering over the whole people, issuing directives concerning what this people as a whole has to fulfil. The Archangel knows what steps must be undertaken during the creative period of a people when its youthful vigour and vitality are strongest. He knows what aims must be pursued by a people during the period of transition from youth to age in order that his directives may function in the right way.
This grandiose plan is the work of the Archangels. Here on the physical plane the individual human being must ensure that these great aims are realized. Between the individual and the Archangels are the Angels who mediate between them. The Angels impel him towards the locality ordained for him, so that the feelings of the people should concur in the great ordinances of the Archangels. We shall see this in the proper perspective if we take what I have been describing not simply as an allegory, but as a close approximation to reality.
Now the whole pattern of events woven by the Archangels is subject to the influence of the abnormal Archangels, the Spirits of language, as I described yesterday. We have also described how the abnormal Spirits of Personality, the Archai, exercise their influence. We can now turn our attention to the domain in which the Archangels issue their directives, in which they apportion the various tasks which are then transmitted by the Angels to the separate individuals. But the Archangels are also able to work into the sphere of the abnormal Spirits of Personality, and in the mutual cooperation of the Archangels with the abnormal Spirits of Personality — since the latter are pursuing totally different aims — it is possible that the plans of the Archangels are in certain respects frustrated. When this occurs, when these abnormal Spirits of Personality thwart the designs of the Archangels, groups with specially appointed tasks arise within the nation itself. Under these circumstances the activity of the Spirits of Personality is visible externally. This may last for centuries. In Germany, for example, where there is an urgent need today for anthroposophical work, you have seen for centuries this interplay of the Archangel of the Germans and the sometimes opposing separate Spirits of Personality. The fragmentation of the one German nation into the many smaller ethnic groups illustrates the interplay of the abnormal Spirits of Personality with the Archangel.
Nations like this are little centralized; they look more to the development of individuality. In some ways this is good, for a variety of shades within the national character can thereby find expression.
One may also take the other case where not the abnormal Spirit of Personality, but the normal, Spirit of Personality expressing himself in the Spirit of the Age, assumes for a certain time greater importance than would normally follow from the ordinary course of events.
In studying a people we regard the Archangel as its guiding principle. Then follows the influence of the Spirit of the Age who gives his directives to the Archangel of the different nations and these in turn give them to the Angels who transmit them to the separate individuals. Because, as a rule, we see only what is obvious, so in this concerted action the activity of the Archangels is seen to be the most important element. Circumstances, however, may arise when the Spirit of the Age has to issue more important, more momentous directives, when he is compelled, so to speak, to take over some of the authority of the Archangel, because he must detach a portion of the people in order that the task of the Age, the mission of the Spirit of the Age may be fulfilled. In such a case national groups split off from the rest; the Spirit of the Age visibly gains the upper hand over the influence of the Archangel. A case in point occurred when the Dutch people severed its connection with the kindred German people. Holland and Germany shared originally an Archangel in common; the separation occurred because the Spirit of the Age detached a portion of the people at a given moment and then transferred to this portion what have become the vital interests of the modern Spirit of the Age. Dutch history is simply a reflection of this inner process — in reality all history is only an external expression, a Maya, of an inner process. In the present case we see the separation of the Dutch people from the common Teutonic stocktaking place externally. But the inner reality is that the Spirit of the Age required an instrument with which to fulfil his mission overseas. The entire mission of the Dutch people was in the hands of the Spirit of the Age. The purpose of the separation was to enable the Spirit of the Age to enlist this portion of the people in his service in order to execute important tasks at a specific moment in history. What the historians describe is only Maya; it conceals rather than reveals the true facts.
You can meet with other examples which afford a striking illustration of this situation, namely, the severance of Portugal from Spain, where a portion of the people had to separate from the main body of the people. You may look in vain for other explanations; you will find that in this case it is simply a question of a victory of the Spirit of the Age over the Archangel. If you analyse the events individually you will find that the opportunity was taken — and such opportunities were few and far between — to form a special people. The Spanish people formed with the Portuguese a homogeneous group. The external reason for this severance was perhaps that the rivers were only navigable up to the Portuguese frontiers. There is no other geographical explanation. The inner reason, on the other hand, was that the specific tasks which had to be fulfilled by the Portuguese were different from those of the united Spanish people. Here we see the Spirits of the Age developing a more intense activity than they normally display. The harmony which had prevailed hitherto is replaced by a new relationship. Instead of giving his directives to the Archangel, the Spirit of the Age intervenes directly in the history of the people, and other Spirits seize this opportunity to incarnate. When such a people is detached from its racial group, then, in that initial enthusiasm which overtakes the individual members of that people, the Spirit of the Age discharges for a time the functions of the Archangel so completely that scarcely any evidence of the severance survives save an atmosphere of bustling excitement and ferment in this people. This vigour and vitality, this spirit of objectivity, stem from the mission of the Spirit of the Age. Then a normal and abnormal Archangel have the opportunity to incarnate in that section of the people which has broken away. Thus we see the growth of the Dutch and Portuguese peoples who are now under the guidance of their own normal and abnormal Archangels. And the influence of these spiritual Beings is seen in the difference in temperament which is reflected in the individual personalities of these two peoples. The work of these spiritual Beings is quite remarkable, and we now recognize that the external events of history are simply an expression of their activity.
Gradually the saying that the external world is Maya or illusion is seen to have increasing importance. The external events of history are simply the outer reflection of the super-sensible Beings, just as man is the outer reflection of the inner man. For this reason I had to insist, and I must emphasize this again and again, that the saying ‘the world is Maya’ is so vitally important. It is not sufficient to emphasize this in an abstract way; we must be in a position to apply it to every aspect of life.
Now, as we know, other Spirits and Hierarchies are active in the world. We have already spoken of the normal and abnormal Archangels. The abnormal Archangels have shown themselves to be, in reality, Spirits of Form or Powers who have only renounced in part the attributes of their evolution. The question that now arises is what is the position of the normal Spirits of Form? The normal Spirits of Form are four stages beyond man — we shall have more to say about them in our next lecture. In the hierarchical order mentioned yesterday the Spirits of Form do not occupy the highest rank. Above them are the Spirits of Movement, Dynamis or Mights; beyond these again are the Spirits of Wisdom, Kyriotetes. I have referred to these different spiritual Beings in my books, Cosmic Memory and Occult Science — an Outline
Now you must understand that the law of renunciation, of deferred development, applies also to the higher Beings, that the Spirits of Movement who are five stages beyond man may also remain behind with certain attributes, that certain Spirits of Movement are today bound up with human evolution as if they were now only Spirits of Form or Powers. In respect of certain attributes they are really Spirits of Movement, whereas in respect of other attributes which they have sacrificed, they are Spirits of Form. Thus there are normal Spirits of Form four stages beyond man and other Beings working in the same sphere as the Spirits of Form, but who are really Spirits of Movement. Just as there is a sphere in which the normal and abnormal Archangels cooperate so we have here a sphere in which the normal and abnormal Spirits of Form, the abnormal Spirits of Movement, cooperate. Through this interplay are formed the races of mankind. Race must not be confused with nation.
If we approach the matter in this light we shall avoid confusion and our ideas will be more elastic. A nation is not a race. The concept of nation has nothing to do with that of race. A race may be divided into many different nations; races are different from folk communities. We rightly speak of a German, Dutch or Norwegian nation; at the same time we speak of a Germanic race. Now what lies behind the concept of race? Those Beings whom we describe as normal Spirits of Form work in conjunction with those Beings whom we have come to know as the abnormal Spirits of Form, but who are Spirits of Movement in reality, entrusted with the mission of Spirits of Form. This is the reason why mankind is divided into races. That which gives man his human stature, which makes every man, irrespective of his race, a member of the human species — this is the work of the normal Spirits of Form. That which divides the whole of mankind into races is the work of the abnormal Spirits of Form who made an act of renunciation so that instead of a single human family a wide diversity of types could exist on Earth.
Thus we gain an insight into the spiritual background from which the individual peoples emerge and are thus able to follow their evolution over the whole Earth. We find that, by virtue of the normal Spirits of Form, one common Humanity should exist on Earth; that the backward Spirits of Movement enter into the sphere belonging to the Spirits of Form and as abnormal Spirits of Form are responsible for differentiating mankind the whole world over into races. When we look into the purposes of these Spirits, when we inquire closely into the aims and objects of these normal and abnormal Spirits of Form, then we shall understand the designs they entertain for the races of mankind and how through these races a foundation is laid for that which shall emerge from them. If we take the example of a particular people and study it, then, in the light of what we have said, we shall have understood and comprehended this people.