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The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls
GA 121

7. Advance of Folk Spirits to the Rank of Time Spirits. Monotheism and Pluralism. Exoteric and Esoteric Christianity

12 June 1910 p.m., Oslo

If you enter into the spirit of the lectures given here in the last few days you will be able to accept the idea that not only do the Beings and forces of the various Hierarchies guide and direct events upon our Earth and especially the course of human evolution, but also that the Beings of these Hierarchies themselves undergo evolution or development. We spoke of how the Beings of a particular Hierarchy intervene in order to direct the evolution of a particular race, how, for example, as normal and abnormal Spirits of Form they cooperate to organize the various races.

Now the question which confronts us is whether these spiritual Beings themselves advance to a higher rank. When we look back over the post-Atlantean times we are conscious that in the course of their development certain spiritual Beings advance to the next higher rank. Since the Atlantean catastrophe, since the beginning of the post-Atlantean evolution, we are living in an Age when certain Archangels, certain Beings of the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, advance to the rank of the Archai or Time Spirits. This is a most interesting phenomenon, for when we observe how the Folk Spirits, or Archangels in our terminology, rise to a higher rank, only then do we have a true understanding of cosmic events. This advance in rank is connected with the fact that in late Atlantis and for some time after, the distribution of mankind, the distribution of races, has been followed by a second migration of peoples. If we wish to understand the period when the division of mankind into the five root races of which we have already spoken took place, we must look far back into early Atlantean times. If we wish to ascertain when those who became the black or Ethiopian race migrated to a particular geographical area in Africa, when those who became the Malayan race migrated to Southern Asia, then we must look back to early Atlantean times. Later on, other migrations followed upon these early migrations.

Whilst, therefore, the Earth was already colonized by the nuclei of these peoples, other peoples were dispatched to those geographical areas of the Earth already colonized. Thus we meet with a second migration in later Atlantean times. If we wish to understand the pattern and extent of the distribution of races in Europe, Africa, and America at the time of the gradual submergence of Atlantis, and the later great migration towards the end of the Atlantean epoch, when a small band first set out during the post-Atlantean epoch, then we must clearly realize that we are here dealing with that mighty stream of humanity which pushed forward into Asia, into Indian territory, and that, as has often been pointed out, the nuclei of future peoples remained behind at different points and from these nuclei were developed the various peoples of Asia, Africa and Europe. We are here concerned therefore with an earlier distribution and a later expansion, with a second wave. The purpose of this second wave was to dispatch in a West-East direction those folk communities who were each under the guidance of an Archangel. But these Archangels who were the spiritual Powers directing these tribes or folk communities were at different stages of development; in other words, some were nearer than others to the rank of a Time Spirit or Spirit of the Age. We have to look to the Far East for that movement of peoples whose Archangel was the first to attain the rank of a Time Spirit. This was the stream which merged with the original inhabitants of India and formed the ruling class of that country and so laid the foundations of the first post-Atlantean civilization after their Archangel had been promoted to be the first Time Spirit or Archai-being of the post-Atlantean civilization. Now this Time Spirit directed the sacred culture of ancient India and made it the leading culture of the first post-Atlantean epoch. Meanwhile the other peoples of Asia who were gradually developing, were for a long time simply under the direction of Archangels.

The peoples of Europe also who had remained behind during the migration from West to East had long been under the guidance of Archangels when the Archangel of India had already risen to the rank of an Archai-being who then worked through intuition upon those great teachers of India, the Holy Rishis. Through the mediation of this exalted and important Spirit the Rishis were able to fulfil their high mission in the manner already described. This Time Spirit worked on for a long time, whilst the people lying to the North of ancient India were still under the guidance of the Archangel. After the Time Spirit of India had fulfilled his mission he was promoted to lead the entire evolution of post-Atlantean humanity.

In the Old Persian epoch the Archangel became the Spirit of Personality, the Time Spirit, from whom the great Zarathustra or Zoroaster, the original Zarathustra, received his inspiration. This again is an example of an Archangel, a Folk Soul who has risen to the rank of Time Spirit. As we stated at the beginning of this lecture, we are experiencing the same situation today) namely, that the Archangels, in the course of fulfilling their mission, advance to the rank of guiding and ruling Spirits of the Age.

In the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, the Archangel of the Egyptian people and the Archangel of the Chaldean people, both rose to a higher rank. During this epoch the Archangel of the Egyptian people rose to the rank of a leading Time Spirit and took over the guidance and control of that which formerly devolved upon the Chaldean Archangel. The leader in the Egypto-Chaldean age thus became the third mighty, guiding Time Spirit who had gradually advanced beyond the rank of the Egyptian Archangel But this was also the epoch in which another important development took place, a development which ran parallel with the Egypto-Chaldean civilization and is related to the development to which we drew special attention in our last lecture.

We have seen that everything associated with the Semitic tribes assumed a special significance, and that from amongst the Semitic race Jahve or Jehovah had chosen a Semitic people to be his chosen people. Since he had chosen a particular race to be his special people, He needed at first, whilst this race was gradually developing, a kind of Archangel to act as his vice-regent. In ancient times, therefore, the evolving Semitic people was guided by an Archangel who was under the continuous inspiration of Jahve or Jehovah and afterwards this Archangel himself grew to be a Time Spirit. Apart from the ordinary evolving Time Spirits of the Old Indian, Old Persian and Old Chaldean peoples therefore, there was yet another Time Spirit who played his own special part by working within a particular people. This is a Time Spirit who, in a certain respect, appears in the mission of a Nation Spirit, a Time Spirit whom we must call the Semitic Nation Spirit. His task was of a very special kind ‘ You will understand this if you bear in mind that, in reality, this particular people was singled out from the normal course of evolution for special guidance. Through these special arrangements this people was entrusted with a mission which was of particular importance for the post-Atlantean epoch and which was distinguished from the missions of all other peoples. One can best understand this mission of the Semitic people by comparing it with the missions of the various peoples of the post-Atlantean epoch.

Mankind is subject to two spiritual currents. The one has its starting-point in monadology or pluralism 1Note by translator — Pluralism: the theory which recognizes more than one ultimate principle in ontology. Monadology: doctrine of monads as formulated by Leibnitz. Monism: the doctrine that attempts to explain the phenomena of the Cosmos by one ultimate substance. to give it its correct name. This theory recognizes more than one ultimate principle in ontology. Wherever you turn you will find that in some form or other the peoples of the post-Atlantean epoch started from a plurality of aspects of the Divine — the trinity of ancient India, later symbolized in the figures of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu; the trinity of Odin, Hönir and Lödur of German mythology. You will find a trinity everywhere and this trinity subdivided into a plurality. This characteristic is peculiar not only to myths and teachings about the Gods, but also to philosophies where we meet it again in the form of monadology. This is the one current which, because it starts from pluralism or monadology can offer the greatest possible variety. It was in the post-Atlantean epoch that, starting from the farthest East in India and following a wide curve through Asia to Europe, this doctrine of pluralism which after all is expressed in Anthroposophy by our recognition of a number of widely differing Beings and Hierarchies, has been represented in the most diverse ways and in a wide variety of forms.

The polarity to pluralism was monism, the doctrine that one principle of being or ultimate substance constitutes the underlying reality of the physical world. The real inspirers of the worship of a single divinity, those who gave the impulse towards monotheism and monism are the Semitic peoples. It is natural to them, and if you recall what I said in this morning's lecture, it is their mission to represent the one God, the Monon.

He who, surveying the Universe, persisted in explaining the phenomena of the Cosmos by a single ultimate principle, a monon, would remain prisoner of his limitations. Monism or monotheism in itself can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, concrete view of the world. Nevertheless, in the post-Atlantean age the current of monotheism also had to be represented, so that the urge, the impulse towards monotheism devolved upon a single people, the Semitic people. The monistic principle is reflected in this people by a certain rigidity or inflexibility, whilst all the other peoples, in so far as their different divinities are comprehended in a unity, receive the impulse towards monism from them. The monistic impulse has always come from the Semitic people. The other peoples are inclined to pluralism.

It is extremely important that this should be borne in mind and whoever is concerned with the continuance of the old Hebraic impulse will find the extremes of monotheism at the present day amongst the learned Rabbis, in Rabbinism. The task of this particular people is to propagate the doctrine that Single ultimate principle underlies the world. The task of all other nations, peoples and Time Spirits was analytic; to represent the one World-Principle as articulated into different Beings. In India, for example, the ultimate abstraction of the Unity underlying all things was divided into a tri-unity, just as the one God of Christianity is divided into Three Persons. The task of the other nations was to ‘analyse’ ultimate Reality and so to furnish particular aspects of it with plentiful content, to fill themselves with rich material for those representations which can apprehend phenomena with sympathetic understanding’ The task of the Semitic people was to eschew all pluralism and to devote itself to synthesis, to the doctrine of one substance. Hence the power of speculation, the power of synthetic thought which is illustrated by Cabbalism is unsurpassed precisely because it stems from this impulse.

Everything that could possibly be distilled from the unitary principle by the synthesizing activity of the ‘I’ has been distilled by the Semitic spirit in the course of thousands of years. This is the significance of the Semitic influence in the world and illustrates the polarity between pluralism and monism. Monism is not possible without pluralism. Pluralism is not possible without monism. We must recognize the necessity for both.

The language of objective fact often leads to quite different conclusions from those which are motivated by the prevailing sympathies or antipathies. Therefore we must have a clear understanding of the tasks of the individual Folk Spirits. Whereas the leaders of the several peoples in Asia and Africa had long since risen to the rank of Time Spirits or Spirits of Personality and indeed some of them were expecting to transform themselves from Time Spirits to the next higher rank, to Spirits of Form — just as, for example, that Time Spirit who was active in ancient India bad already risen in certain respects to the rank of the Spirits of Form — the several peoples of Europe were for a long time still under the direction of their individual Archangels. It was not until the fourth post-Atlantean epoch that the Archangel of ancient Greece rose above the various peoples of Europe who were still under the guidance of their Archangels to the rank of a Time Spirit. He became the leading Time Spirit of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Graeco-Latin epoch. Thus the Archangel of Greece advanced to the rank of an Archai-being, a Spirit of Personality. After he had become a Time Spirit, the influence of this Greek Archangel extended far and wide through Asia, Africa and Europe who looked to Hellas for their culture.

Whilst the Archangel of the Greeks had developed into an Archai-being, the Time Spirit of the Egyptians and of the Persians had advanced in evolution towards the Hierarchy of the Spirits of Form. We are now about to touch upon something exceptionally interesting in the course of post-Atlantean evolution. As a consequence of his earlier development the Greek Archangel was able to pass relatively quickly through that stage of development which qualified him for a specially prominent position as Spirit of the Age (Time Spirit). Something therefore of the greatest significance occurred in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch.

Now at that time there took place, as we know, the Mystery of Golgotha through which mankind received the Christ Impulse. This Impulse was destined in the course of the following centuries and millennia to spread gradually over the whole Earth. Without this consummation of Golgotha, without the activity of certain guiding and directing Beings from the ranks of the Hierarchies, this could not have been achieved. A most remarkable and interesting event now occurred. At a definite moment of time which coincided approximately with the descent of Christ upon Earth, the Greek Time Spirit renounced for our present epoch the possibility of rising into the Hierarchy of the Spirits of Form and became the guiding Time Spirit who then works on through the successive epochs. He became the representative guiding Spirit of exoteric Christianity, so that the Archai-being himself, the guiding Spirit of the Greeks, himself formed the vanguard of the Christ Impulse. In consequence, ancient Greece rapidly declined at the time of the expansion of Christianity because it had surrendered its guiding Time Spirit in order that he might become the leader of exoteric Christianity. The Greek Time Spirit then became the missionary, the inspirer or rather the intuiting Spirit of the expanding exoteric Christianity. Here we have a concrete example of an act of renunciation such as we have spoken of. Because the Greek Time Spirit had fulfilled his mission in the fourth post-Atlantean age so admirably, he could now advance in evolution towards a higher Hierarchy. But he renounced this possibility and by so doing became the guiding Spirit of the expanding exoteric Christianity, and in that capacity he continued to work among the various peoples.

A similar act of renunciation took place on another occasion, and this second instance is of particular interest to students of Spiritual Science. Whilst in Asia, including Egypt and Greece, the several Archangels were advancing to the rank of Time Spirits, there existed in Europe isolated peoples and tribes who were guided by their several Archangels. Thus, whilst the corresponding Archangels who had been sent in ancient times from the West towards the East had advanced to the rank of Time Spirits, there still existed in Europe an Archangel who worked in the Germanic and especially in the Celtic peoples, in those peoples who, at the time of the founding of Christianity, were still spread over a large area of Western Europe extending into Hungary, Southern Germany and the Alpine countries. These peoples had the Celtic Folk Spirit as their Archangel. The peoples belonging to the Celtic Folk Spirit also inhabited an area extending far into the North East of Europe. They were guided by an important Archangel who, soon after the Christian impulse had been bestowed on mankind, had renounced the possibility of becoming an Archai-being, a Spirit of Personality and elected to remain at the Archangel stage and to subordinate himself in future to the different Time Spirits who might arise in Europe. Hence the Celtic peoples also declined as a united people because their Archangel had made a special act of renunciation and had undertaken a special mission. This is a typical example of how, in such a case, an act of renunciation helps to initiate particular missions.

Now what became of the Archangel of the Celtic peoples after he had renounced the possibility of becoming a Spirit of Personality? He became the inspirer of esoteric Christianity. All the underlying teachings and impulses of esoteric Christianity, especially of the real, true esoteric Christianity, have their source in his inspirations. The hidden sanctuary for those who were initiated into these Mysteries was situated in Western Europe and there the spiritual impulse was imparted by this guiding Spirit who had originally undergone an important training as Archangel of the Celtic people, had renounced his promotion to a higher rank and had undertaken another mission — that of becoming the inspirer of esoteric Christianity which was destined to live on further in the Mysteries of the Holy Grail, in Rosicrucianism. Here is an example of an act of renunciation, a sacrifice on the part of one of these Beings of the Hierarchies. At the same time it offers a concrete example illustrating the significance of this sacrifice. Although this Archangel could have advanced to the rank of an Archai-being, he remained at the Archangel stage and in consequence was able to guide the important current of esoteric Christianity whose influence is destined to be furthered through the medium of the different Time Spirits. No matter how these Time Spirits may work, this esoteric Christianity will remain a living source, able to be renewed and metamorphosed ever and again under the influence of different epochs. Here then is another example illustrating an act of renunciation, whilst we, on the other hand, are witnessing in our age especially the mighty spectacle of Folk Spirits advancing to the rank of Time Spirits.

Now the various Germanic peoples of Europe had originally been guided by a single Archangel-being and were destined to come gradually under the guidance of many different Archangels in order to become differentiated. It is of course extremely difficult to speak impartially of these things without arousing jealousy and emotional prejudice. Consequently certain mysteries pertaining to this evolution can only be touched upon lightly. From among these Archangels emerged the Archai-being, the leading Time Spirit of our fifth post-Atlantean epoch, long after one of the Archangels of the Germanic peoples had undergone a certain preparatory training. The Time Spirit who was the Folk Spirit in the Graeco-Latin age became, as you know, that Time Spirit who was later concerned in the expansion of exoteric Christianity. Later Roman history was also guided by a kind of Time Spirit who had risen from the rank of Archangel of the ancient Romans and had joined forces with the Christian Time Spirit in order to coordinate their activities. Both of these were the teachers of that Archangel who guided the Germanic peoples, had been one of their guiding Archangels and had then risen to the rank of the Time Spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. But much still remained to be done. It was essential that the different folk elements in the peoples of Europe should be mingled and individualized. This was only possible for the following reasons: — whereas, in Asia and Africa the Archangels had long since advanced to the rank of Time Spirits, Europe was still under the guidance of the Archangels themselves. The individual peoples, indifferent to the Time Spirits and guided by their several Folk Souls, were wholly given up to the impulses of the Folk Spirit. At the time when the Christian impulse began to pervade mankind, Europe was the scene of the simultaneous activity of many Folk Spirits, filled with a spirit of liberty, each acting independently and who therefore made it difficult for a Time Spirit of the fifth epoch to arise who could direct the several Folk Spirits. The French people, for example, was the product of the intermixture of Celts, Franks and Latins, and in consequence the entire guidance naturally followed a clearly defined pattern. It passed from the several guiding Archangels, who had been given other tasks, into the hands of others. We have already indicated what was the mission of the guiding Archangel of the Celts; in the same way we could indicate what were the missions of the Archangels of the other peoples. Hence amongst the peoples who were products of miscegenation, other Archangels appeared who took over when the various elements intermingled. Thus, over a long period of time — and even in the Middle Ages — the leadership in Central and Northern Europe was chiefly in the hands of the Archangels who were only gradually influenced by that common Time Spirit who was in the vanguard of the Christ Impulse. The several Folk Spirits in Europe frequently became the servants of the Christian Time Spirit. The European Archangels placed themselves in the service of this universal Christian Time Spirit whilst the several peoples were hardly in a position to permit any of the Archangels to advance to the rank of a Time Spirit. Starting from the twelfth century, it was not until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that the first steps were undertaken towards the development of the guiding Time Spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch who still directs us today. He belongs to the great leading Time Spirits, equally with those who were the great directing Time Spirits during the Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian, Old Persian and Indian epochs. But this Spirit of our fifth post-Atlantean epoch worked in a very unique manner. He had, in effect, to enter into a kind of compromise with one of the former Time Spirits who were active before the birth of the Christian impulse, namely, with the Time Spirit of ancient Egypt, who as we have heard, had risen in a certain respect to the rank of a Spirit of Form. Thus, our present fifth post-Atlantean epoch is really governed by a Time Spirit who in a certain way is very much subject to the influence and impulses of the Time Spirit of ancient Egypt and who is a Spirit of Form at an elementary stage.

This was the source of the many cleavages and divisions of our time. In the fifth post-Atlantean epoch our Time Spirit is striving to lift himself to the Spiritual, and to raise the fifth post-Atlantean epoch to a higher stage. But this does not exclude a tendency or inclination to materialism. According as the various Archangels, the various Folk Souls are more or less inclined towards this materialist tendency, so there emerges under the guidance of this Time Spirit of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch a more or less materialistic people who inclines the Spirit of the Age more in the direction of materialism. On the other hand an idealistic people inclines the Spirit of the Age more towards idealism.

Now from the twelfth to the sixteenth century something gradually developed, working (in a certain respect) parallel with the Christian Time Spirit — who continues the activity of the Greek Time Spirit — so that in fact, in a remarkable manner, there streamed into our culture the Christian Time Spirit united with a Time Spirit proper of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch; and again there was an influx of impulses from ancient Egypt whose Time Spirit had advanced to a certain rank among the Spirits of Form. Now precisely because such a trifolium is at work in our whole culture it has been possible for Folk Souls and cultural patterns of widely differing kinds and complexions to emerge in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. It became possible for the Time Spirit to manifest the greatest diversity. The Archangels who took their orders from the Time Spirit worked in many different ways.

Those of you who live in Scandinavia will be interested in something which we shall go into closely in our next lectures. The following question will be of particular interest to you: What form did the activity of that Archangel take who was once upon a time sent to Norway with the Nordic peoples, the Scandinavian peoples, and from whom the various Archangels of Europe, especially those of Western, Central and Northern Europe, received their inspirations? In the eyes of the world it would be regarded as the height of folly to speak of that spiritual centre on the continent of Europe which at one time radiated the most powerful spiritual impulses, the centre which was the seat of exalted Spirits before the Celtic Folk Spirit as Celtic Archangel had established a new centre in the High Castle of the Grail. The Archangel of the Northern peoples first received his mission from that place which in ancient times had been the spiritual centre of Europe. It must seem the height of folly, as I said, if we were to indicate as the central source of inspiration for the various Germanic tribes that district which now lies over Central Germany — not actually on the Earth, but hovering above it. If you were to describe an arc to include the towns of Detmold and Paderborn, you would then delimit the region from where the most exalted Spirits were sent on their several missions to Northern and Western Europe. Hence, because the great centre of spiritual inspiration was situated there, legend tells of Asgard having been actually located at this place on Earth. There, in the remote past, was the great centre of inspiration; in later years its spiritual mission was taken over by the Castle of the Grail.

The peoples of Scandinavia, with their first Archangels, were at that time endowed with quite different potentialities, potentialities which at the present time are reflected only in the peculiar configuration of Scandinavian mythology. If we compare in the occult sense, Scandinavian mythology with other mythologies, we may know that this Norse mythology depicts the native predisposition of the Archangel who was sent upon his mission to Scandinavia, that native predisposition which has retained its original form and which is peculiar to a child whose particular talents, latent gifts, etc., remain at a childlike stage. The Archangel who was sent to Scandinavia embodies those potentialities which were later expressed in the peculiar configuration of Scandinavian mythology. Here lies the signal importance of Scandinavian mythology for the understanding of the real, inner being of the Scandinavian Folk Soul. Herein, too, lies the great significance which the understanding of this mythology has for the further development of this Archangel who certainly has the potentiality to rise to the rank of an Archai-being. But to this end he must develop in a specific way those native potentialities which (in certain respects) have been overshadowed by the rising influence of that Time Spirit who was in the vanguard of exoteric Christianity. Although Germanic-Scandinavian mythology and Greek mythology are in many respects curiously alike, I must point out nevertheless that there is no other mythology which, in its peculiar composition and characteristic development, gives a deeper or clearer picture of cosmic evolution than does this Scandinavian mythology, so that this picture may serve as a preliminary sketch for the anthroposophical view of world-evolution.

Thus Germanic mythology, from the way in which it was developed out of the native powers of the Archangel, is in its pictures closely akin to the anthroposophical conception of the world such as it shall grow to be in the course of time for all mankind. The problem will be how those original, native potentialities of an Archangel can be developed after be has been nurtured by the Christian Time Spirit. These potentialities will be able to become an important element in the guiding Time Spirit when, at a later stage in the evolution of a people, this people has learned how to develop and perfect the potentialities with which it was endowed at an earlier epoch. In this connection we have only indicated an important problem, an important evolution of an European Archangel. We have indicated to what extent he has the potentiality to develop into a Time Spirit. We shall stop at this point for the moment. We shall then continue our investigations, when we shall endeavour, by analysing the configuration of the Folk Soul, to undertake an esoteric study of mythology, and a special section will be devoted to a description of the very interesting characteristics of Germanic mythology, and also of Scandinavian mythology in particular.