The Mission of Folk-Souls
15 June 1910, Christiania
If among my hearers there are some who wished to analyze yesterday's lecture philosophically they might perhaps meet with difficulties, apparent difficulties, and indeed for the reason that they will have heard from former presentations given on similar themes, that the whole of our post-Atlantean epoch, and in fact even the later ages of Atlantean evolution existed for the purpose of gradually developing the human ‘I’ as such, and bringing it more and more to consciousness. In connection with this it has been said, that in some respects those belonging to the ancient Indian civilization were the very first who, after they had been able in old Atlantis to look into a spiritual world by means of the old clairvoyance then still to be found in humanity, were transposed straight out of this clairvoyant state into the physical world. They saw this physical world in such a way that over the whole of the first post-Atlantean age of civilization there came the feeling, that what lay behind them in the spiritual world was the true reality; that which was outside in the world was merely maya or illusion.
Now it was explained in our last lecture, quite in accordance with the facts, that the people belonging to this ancient Indian civilization had to some extent gone through a rich soul development, and it was said that they had gained this while their ‘I’ was more or less asleep, that is to say, that the ‘I’ only awoke after this mature soul development had already been acquired.
Now you might possibly ask: What then happened to these Indian peoples in the interval? For the Indian peoples must, so to say, have passed through the whole of this soul development in a completely different manner from the European, and especially the Germanic peoples, who were present with their ‘I’ whilst they were gradually evolving capacities, and who looked on and saw how the divine spiritual powers worked into their souls. You might possibly find it difficult to make this agree with what was said, if you were to think philosophically about yesterday's lecture. For those who wish to analyze the lecture not altogether impartially, but out of a philosophical way of thinking such as this, I must add something in parenthesis, by way of explanation.
The apparent contradiction will at once disappear if you reflect that, as regards the ‘I’ and the possibility of knowing it, man is in a totally different position from what he is with regard to every other object. If you ‘know’ any other object, or any other being than the ‘I’, you are then, in the act of cognition, always really dealing with two things, with the knower, the power of knowing, and that which is known. Whether that which is known is a man, an animal, a tree or a stone, makes no difference to the purely formal act of cognition. But it is a different matter as regards the ‘I’. There that which knows and that which is known is one and the same. The important thing is, that in human evolution, in human development these two things are separate. Those who had developed the mature Indian culture in the post-Atlantean epoch, developed the ‘I’ subjectively as a knower, and this subjective raising of the ‘I’ to a certain height within the human soul-power may exist for a long time before man also acquires the power to see the ‘I’ objectively as an entity. On the other hand the peoples of Europe developed comparatively early, whilst still in their old clairvoyance, the power to see the objective ‘I’; that is to say, they perceived within that which they surveyed clairvoyantly, the ‘I’ as an entity among other entities. If you distinguish carefully between these things you will be able to understand it philosophically also, as you will all the things of Spiritual Science, if you only do it properly. If you like philosophical formulas, we might express it thus: The Indian culture represents a soul which reached a high degree of the subjective ‘I’, long before it was able to see the objective ‘I’. The Germanic peoples of Europe developed the vision of the ‘I’ long before they became conscious of the real inner striving towards the ‘I’. Clairvoyantly they saw the dawning of their own ‘I’, the imaginative picture of it. In the astral world which was around them they had for a long time seen the ‘I’ objectively, among the other beings whom they perceived clairvoyantly. Thus we must conceive of this antithesis in a purely formal manner, then we shall also comprehend why Europe was the ground destined to bring this ‘I’ of man into relation with the other beings, the Angels and Archangels, in the way I pointed out yesterday in connection with mythology. If you bear this in mind you will understand why Europe was destined to bring the ‘I’ into relation in many different ways, as well as to the world which appeared to man as the sense-world, and also that the ‘I’, the real kernel of the human being, can enter into the most varied relations to the outer world. Formerly, before man saw his ‘I’, before he perceived it, these relations were regulated for him by the higher Beings, and he himself could do nothing in the matter. The relation in which he stood to the external world was an instinctive one. The essential thing in the development of the ‘I’ is, that it takes more and more into its own hands the task of regulating its own relation to the outer world.
It was essentially the task of the European nations to bring about in some way or other this relation of the ‘I’ to the whole world; and the Guiding Folk-soul had, and still has, the task of directing the European how to bring his ‘I’ into relation with the outer world, with other men, and with the Divine Spiritual Beings; so that on the whole it was within European civilization that one first began to speak of the relation of the ‘I’-man to the whole universe.
Hence the completely different fundamental tone in the old Indian cosmology from that prevailing in the European mythological culture. Over there in the East everything is impersonal, and above all one is required to become impersonal in one's knowledge, to suppress the ‘I’, so to say, in order to merge into Brahma and to find Atma within oneself. The chief requirement there is to be impersonal.
Here in Europe this human ‘I’ is everywhere placed in the centre of human life, according to its tendencies from the beginning and as it has gradually developed in the course of evolution. Therefore here in Europe special attention is given to considering everything in its relation to the ‘ I ‘, to explaining clairvoyantly with relation to the ‘I’ everything that had taken part in this development of the ‘I’ in earthly existence.
Now you all know that two forces coming from different directions have taken part in the development of the earthly man, who was destined gradually to acquire his ‘I’. Ever since the Lemurian epoch those forces we call Luciferic have imprinted themselves in the inner being of man, in his astral body. Regarding these forces you know that they made their chief attack on man by slipping into his desires, impulses and passions. Through this man gained two things: he gained the capacity to become an independent free being to glow with enthusiasm for what he thinks, feels and wills; whereas as regards his own concerns he was guided by divine spiritual Beings. But on the other hand, through the Luciferic powers man had to take into the bargain the possibility of falling into evil through his passions, emotions and desires. Lucifer's activity, therefore, in our earth-existence is such, that his point of attack is within man, where the human astral plays; and where the astral nature has affected the ‘I’ this too has been permeated by the Luciferic power. When, therefore, we speak of Lucifer, we are speaking of that which has caused man to sink deeper down into material sense-existence than he would have done without that influence.
Thus we have to thank the Luciferic powers for something which is most valuable to man, viz., freedom, and something which is very clangorous, the possibility of evil. But now we also know, that in consequence of these Luciferic powers having intervened in the whole constitution of human nature, later on other powers were able to enter which could not have done so, had not Lucifer first settled himself in the human organism. Man would see the world differently if he had not fallen under the influence of Lucifer and of those who were his followers, if he had not been obliged to allow another power to approach him after he had made it possible for the Luciferic power to enter into him. Ahriman approached from outside and stole into the great world of Nature surrounding man; so that the Ahrimanic influence is therefore a consequence of the Luciferic influence. Man is, as it were, attacked by Lucifer from within, and in consequence of that he is attacked by that which works from outside, by Ahriman. The spiritual science of all ages, that really knows the facts, speaks of both Luciferic and of Ahrimanic powers.
It will seem very remarkable to you that in the views of the various peoples, where these views are expressed in the form of mythology, there is not always to be found an equally clear consciousness of Lucifer on the one side and of Ahriman on the other. There is, for instance, no clear consciousness of this in the religious conception built up out of the whole Semitic tradition as set forth in the Old Testament. Only a certain consciousness of the Luciferic influence appears there; you may gather that from the account given in the Old Testament of the Serpent, which is nothing else than a picture of Lucifer. From this you can see that there was a distinct consciousness of Lucifer having played a part in evolution. This consciousness is clearly traceable in all the traditions which are connected with the Bible. But the consciousness of the Ahrimanic influence is not to be found there in the same way; that is only to be found where spiritual science has been taught. Therefore those who wrote the Gospels have also taken note of this. You will find, — for at the time of the writers of the Gospels the word ‘devil’ (dämon) was taken from the Greek, — that in St. Mark's Gospel, where the temptation is spoken of, a ‘devil’ is spoken of; but whenever Ahriman is in question, the word ‘Satan’ is used. But who notices the important difference between the Gospel of St. Mark and that of St. Matthew? Exoterically these fine distinctions are not noticed at all. In external tradition this difference does not exist.
This difference is very noticeable in the contrast between India and Persia. There at a certain period it is expressed in a very remarkable manner. Persia knew little of the Luciferic influence; the Ahrimanic was more to be seen there. There in particular is the battle with the Powers which give us an external, false picture of the world, and which leads us into gloom and darkness regarding the relation of man to the outer world. Ahriman is preferably called an opponent of the Good and an enemy of the Light. How does that come about? It comes about because in the second post-Atlantean age of civilization the human capacities of perception developed as regards the vision of the outer world. Bear in mind that Zoroaster made it his task to understand and make known the Sun-Spirit, the Spirit of Light. He had therefore to begin by pointing out that into this world is mingled, in addition to the Spirit of Light, the Spirit of Darkness, who dims our knowledge of the outer world. The Persian directs his chief attention to the conquest of Ahriman and to uniting himself to the Spirits who in this country are the great Powers, the Luminous Ones. He is organized for becoming active in the domain which lies outside. Hence he has his Ahuras or Asuras. It is, on the other hand, dangerous for the followers of the Persian religion to descend into that world to which a man can attain by plunging into his own inner being; there, where the Luciferic powers lie hidden, he will have nothing to do even with the possible presence of good powers. There he perceives danger; he directs his gaze outwards and pictures the Asuras of Light as opposing the Asuras of Darkness.
The Indians at this time pursued exactly the opposite course. They were at a period in which they endeavored to raise themselves by inner contemplation, in order to come into the higher spheres. To them salvation lay in uniting themselves with the forces that are to be found in the sphere of inner vision. They therefore considered it dangerous to look out into the external world in which they had to fight with Ahriman. They feared the outer world, they considered it dangerous. Whereas the Devas were avoided by the Persians, the Indians sought for them and wanted to be at work in their domain. But the Persians turned away, and avoided the region in which the battle against Lucifer had above all to be fought.
You may search as you will through the many different mythologies and concepts of the world, but in none of them will you come across such a clear and profound knowledge of the fact that there are two influences at work on man, as in the Germanic Scandinavian mythology. As the Germanic Scandinavian could still see clairvoyantly, he was really able to see these two powers, and he placed himself between the two. He said to himself: ‘In the course of his evolution man has seen the approach of certain powers which entered his inner being, entered his astral body;’ and because he was destined to develop the ‘I’, the independence of man, he felt not merely the possibility of evil, but above all he felt, in these powers which approached the astral body in order to bring it to freedom and independence, the element of freedom; he felt, one might say, the rebellious element revealing itself in these forces. The Luciferic element was felt in that power which was even then still participating in the formation of the races in Germanic Scandinavian countries, inasmuch as it gave the external form and coloring to man and made him an independent, active being in the world. With his clairvoyant vision the Germanic Scandinavian felt Lucifer primarily as that which makes a man free, one who does not merely yield himself to some external power, but who possesses within himself the firm kernel of existence and wishes to act out of himself.
This Luciferic influence was felt by the Germanic Scandinavian to be beneficial. But he became aware that something else proceeded also from this influence. Lucifer conceals himself behind the figure of Loki, who possesses a remarkably iridescent form. Because the Northman could then see the reality, he saw that the thoughts of the freedom and independence of man can be traced back to Loki; but through the old clairvoyance he was aware also that that which again and again drags man down through his desires and actions, and brings his whole being into a lower position than he would have held if he had only devoted himself to Odin and the Asa, is also to be traced back to the influence of Loki. And so one felt above all the awful grandeur of this Germanic Scandinavian mythology, one felt with compelling accuracy that which will only gradually return to the consciousness of man through spiritual science.
How then does the Luciferic influence act? It encloses itself in the astral body and thence works upon all the three members of man, upon the astral body as well as upon the etheric and physical bodies. Outside the Anthroposophical Society one can at the present day only give hints as to this Luciferic influence. What you will understand more and more clearly is, that the Luciferic influence makes itself felt in three different ways: in the astral body, in the etheric body and in the physical body of man. In the etheric body is produced that in man which urges him to untruthfulness and to lying. Lies and untruthfulness extend beyond the inner part of man. In the astral body, the purely inner part of man, the self is permeated with the Luciferic influence and this appears as selfishness. The etheric body is inwardly permeated by the impulse to be untruthful and thus it is given the possibility of lying. In the physical body sickness and death are produced. That will easily be understood by those who were present at my last series of lectures. 1Manifestations of Karma I shall once more point out that everything that appears in the physical body as sickness and death is karmically connected with what we call the Luciferic influence. Let us again recapitulate briefly: Lucifer brings about in the astral body selfishness, in the etheric body lying and untruthfulness, and in the physical body sickness and death. Naturally all persons of the present day whose thoughts are materialistic will be greatly surprised that Spiritual Science should trace back sickness and death to a Luciferic influence. But this too is connected with karma. Sickness and death would never have come to man if the Lucifer influence had not come in. The karmic working out of the Luciferic influence has brought about the deeper descent of man into the physical; and that on the other hand is compensated for by sickness and death.
Hence we may say: that through the entrance of the Luciferic influence into man, the physical, etheric and astral bodies have been seized by sickness and death, lying and untruthfulness, and selfishness. I should like to draw your attention to the fact that the material scientists of the present day give the same explanation of death in animal and plant bodies as it does in that of man. These persons cannot comprehend that one external phenomenon may look like another, and yet come from quite different causes. External facts may proceed from entirely different grounds. The death of an animal does not proceed from the same original causes as the death of a man, although externally it has the same appearance.
It would require a great deal too much time to prove these things in accordance with the theory of knowledge. I only wished to state here that what science calls causality is often very wrongly interpreted. Mistakes such as these, which rise from want of clearness, are made at almost every step. Imagine the case of a man who climbs up on to a roof, falls down, receives a mortal injury, and is picked up dead. What would be more natural than to say: the man fell down, was mortally injured and died from his injuries? But the case might have been quite different. The man might have had a stroke whilst on the roof and fallen down when already dead; the injuries might have been caused by the fall, so that outwardly the case may have been as described, and yet death would have come about from an entirely different cause. This is a very crude example, but scientists frequently make this kind of mistake.
The outer facts of the case may often be exactly the same, and yet the inner causes may be entirely different. We simply make the statement, as being the result of scientific spiritual research, that the result of Luciferic influence in the astral body is selfishness, in the etheric body lying and untruthfulness, and in the physical body illness and death. Now what would the Germanic Scandinavian mythology have had to say if it had had to ascribe this threefold activity to Loki, to Lucifer? It had to say that Loki has three offspring. The first is the one who brings about selfishness. That is the Midgard Serpent, by which is expressed the influence of the Luciferic spirit upon the astral body. The second is that which mingles into human knowledge as error. In man on the physical plane, this consists in those things which are in his mind and are not in agreement with the outer world. There it is that which is not true. To the Scandinavians, who still dwelt more upon the astral plane, that which to us is an abstract lie, expressed itself at once as an astral being and lived as such upon the astral plane.
The expression for everything that was dimness of vision, that was not correct seeing, was some animal; and here in the North it was principally the Fenris Wolf. This second animal is Loki's influence on the etheric body, which causes man to have the inclination (coming from within) to deceive himself, to think incorrectly about things; that is to say, the objects in the external world do not appear to him in the right way. This was generally expressed in the old Germanic Scandinavian mythology as the figure of a Wolf. That is the astral shape for lying and all untruthfulness proceeding from inner impulse. Where man comes into relation with the external world, Lucifer meets Ahriman, so that all the errors which insinuate themselves into his knowledge, even into his clairvoyant knowledge, all illusion and all maya, is the consequence of the tendency to untruthfulness which is active there. In the Fenris Wolf we must therefore see the shape surrounding man, through his not seeing things in their true form. Whenever any part of the external light, i.e., the truth, appeared darkened to the old Northman, he then spoke of a wolf. That goes through the whole Northern consciousness, and you will find this image made use of in this sense, even to the external facts.
When the old Scandinavian wished to explain what he saw during an eclipse of the sun, (of course a man at the time of that old clairvoyance saw very differently from a man of the present day, who sees with the aid of a telescope), he chose the picture of a wolf pursuing the sun, and who the moment he reaches it brings about the eclipse. That is in perfect harmony with the facts. This terminology belongs to what is grandest, yea, even to that grandeur which positively awes one in the Scandinavian Mythology. I can only give indications here; but if it were possible to speak for weeks at a time upon this mythology, you would then see how it carried this out all through. That is because Scandinavian mythology is a result of the old clairvoyance, into which, however, the ‘I’ plays everywhere.
Materialistic people of to-day will say that this is a mere superstition; that there is no wolf pursuing the sun. The old imaginative Scandinavian sees these facts in pictures; and perhaps I could enumerate many so-called scientific truths which contain more of the influence of Ahriman, i.e., greater error than does the corresponding astral vision, which says that the wolf is pursuing the sun. To the occultist there is something which is still greater superstition. That is, an eclipse which occurs because the moon places itself in front of the sun. From the external point of view that is quite correct, just as the case of the wolf is quite correct to astral perception. In fact the astral view is more correct than the one you will find in modern books, for the latter is even more subject to error. If a man were to perceive the true state of affairs instead of this external one, he would find that the Scandinavian myth is right. I know that I am saying something that is utterly absurd to the present-day point of view, but I know also that in anthroposophical centers one is sufficiently advanced to make it possible to indicate wherein our physical view of the world is most influenced by maya, deception or illusion.
Now we proceed to the influence of Loki on the physical body, in which he brings about sickness and death. His third off-spring is, therefore, that which produces sickness and death. That is Hela. Thus you have, in fact, expressed in a wonderful way — in the figures: Hela, the Fenris Wolf, and the Midgard Serpent — the influence of Loki or Lucifer, in the form in which the old clairvoyance, which we may describe as a dreamy clairvoyance, perceived it. If we were to go through the whole history of Loki, we should everywhere find that these things throw light upon the matter, down to the smallest details. But we must clearly understand therein that what the clairvoyant sees is not merely an allegorical symbolical description, but he sees real entities, Beings.
Now the Germanic Scandinavian did not know merely of Loki, of the Luciferic influence; he was also aware of the influence of Ahriman which came from another direction; and he knew more, he knew that the exposure to the Ahrimanic influence is the consequence of the Loki influence. You must now transpose yourselves back to the time when man did not look at the world with external physical vision, but contemplated it with the old clairvoyance, and you will then find that this myth is formed for that clairvoyance. What does the myth say? Loki's influence has come upon man, and this is expressed in the action of the Midgard Serpent, the Fenris Wolf and Hela. Man has become such that his view, his clear luminous vision into the spiritual world has become dimmed by the increasing pressure of the Luciferic influence. At the time when this view developed, man alternated between seeing into the spiritual world and living on the physical plane, just as one now alternates between waking and sleeping. When he gazed into the spiritual world, he looked into the world out of which he was born. The essential point is, that the myth originated from the clairvoyant consciousness. But human consciousness consisted in this alternating state of seeing into and not being able to see into the spiritual world. When the condition of dream-consciousness was there, one saw into the spiritual world; when the condition of waking day consciousness was there, one was blind to it. Thus the conditions of blindness and of being able to gaze into the spiritual world alternated. The consciousness alternated, just as a certain cosmic being alternated between the blind HSnir and the clairvoyant Balder, who could see into the spiritual world. Thus man had the tendency to receive Balder's influence, and he would have developed in accordance with this influence if he had not received Loki's influence. Loki, however, brought it about that the HSnir nature overcame the Balder nature. That is expressed by Loki bringing the mistletoe with which blind HSnir kills Balder, the one who sees.
Loki is therefore the death-bringing power, like Lucifer who has driven man to Ahriman. When man is devoted to the blind HSnir, the old clairvoyant vision is extinguished. That is the slaying of Balder. This is felt by the Northman as the gradual loss of the Balder-powers, the vision into the Northern Germanic world. Thus the Northman felt the disappearance of his clairvoyance as though it were Loki having killed the clairvoyant power in Balder, and all that remains to him is his impotence as regards this clairvoyance. Thus one of the greatest historical events, the gradual disappearance of the old unclouded knowledge, is expressed in the myth of Balder, HSnir and Loki. On the one side we have Loki with his kinsmen, the three Beings, and on the other the tragic act of the slaying of Balder.
Thus, reflected in the Scandinavian mythology we have that which we can draw from spiritual science: the twofold influence, the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic. That it is which spiritual science always tries to place before you as a presentation of the clairvoyant knowledge of ancient times, and as a working out of the myths from the old clairvoyance, which then began gradually to disappear.
It would carry us too far if we were to pursue this theme further; but even in the broad outline I have laid before you, you can feel that which is so thrillingly grand in this myth, the like of which cannot be found, because no other mythology adheres so closely to the old clairvoyant condition. Greek mythology is only a memory of something experienced in former times, expressed in plastic form. In Greek mythology there is no longer a direct connection with the facts such as there is in the Germanic Scandinavian mythology. The Greek is more clarified, the figures appear with much more rounded outlines and therefore in a very plastic manner, and thus the elemental nature of the original impressions has been lost. The old clairvoyance had for a long time vanished in the rest of Europe, while it was still preserved in the North. Only very gradually, slowly and by degrees has the outlook of man become limited to the picture of the physical world. Thus at the time when Christianity began to spread abroad, that which is expressed in the Balder myth, in the death of Balder, had become true for the majority of men. There were, however, still a few who were able to see directly that which the Scandinavian experienced clairvoyantly.
Thus for a long time there still existed a direct vision of this spiritual world, and because it was still so elemental and came so directly from clairvoyant experience, when Christianity began to be spread abroad, that consciousness also remained which could in no other people be as strong as it was in the old Germanic Scandinavians. They then felt: ‘Everything we formerly experienced in connection with our divine spiritual home is now vanishing.’ This only disappeared from the North when the Germanic-Scandinavian received the comfort of Christianity. — But that did not contain for him any direct vision; he had felt the fate of Balder much too deeply to be able to comfort himself by having a God offered him, who had descended to the physical plane in order that those human beings, who could only perceive the physical plane, might also be able to ascend to divine co-consciousness. It was not possible in Northern lands to feel, as did the men in Asia Minor, the words, ‘Change your attitude, repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is come nigh unto you.’ Over there, where Christ had appeared, one could only find old memories of the fact that there was once upon a time an old clairvoyance. In the East the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, had already lasted for three thousand years, during which men could no longer see into the spiritual world; but they always longed for it, and they have ever told of a world which men were once able to see spiritually, but it was a world which had now vanished from their sight. Hence they had experienced the spiritual world in a much more distant past than had the men of the North, and they only knew from memory that the spiritual world had once been accessible. Hence in Asia Minor one could well understand the words: ‘Change your view, for the kingdom of Heaven is come nigh unto you.’ One could understand when it was said:. ‘The kingdom of the heavens has descended even here to the physical plane, look ye therefore upon the unique Figure Who will appear in the land of Palestine, look ye upon the Messiah, who contains God within Him, through Whom ye will be able to find the connection with the Divine, even if ye are not able to rise above the physical plane; understand ye that Figure in Palestine, understand ye the figure of Christ.’ That is the profound utterance of John the Baptist.
The Scandinavian necessarily felt this differently, for he had for a much longer time experienced considerably more than merely the account from memory of a vision into the spiritual world. Hence there came to him a thought of very great and far-reaching importance, viz., ‘This stepping out on to the physical plane, into the physical world, this incapacity to see into the divine spiritual world, can only be an intermediate state. Man must pass through it as through a school and must see what he can acquire in the physical world. This transition is necessary for him and he must therefore step out of the spiritual world; he must go through the experience of the physical world as a training. But just by going through this as a training, he will return again into that world from which he came forth. Balder's vision will be able to ensoul him again.’ In other words, the great idea which originates in the course of the Germanic Scandinavian evolution, — that the world which vanished away and withdrew from clairvoyant vision, will again become visible, — brought about the feeling that the time spent on the physical plane was a time of transition.
The Initiates of the Northmen made them understand that in the divine spiritual world, during the time in which they could not see into it, something was taking place through which it would one day appear different from what they were formerly accustomed to see. They explained it to them in somewhat the following words: ‘Formerly you looked into the divine spiritual world, and there you saw the Archangel of Speech, the Archangel of the Runes, the Archangel of Respiration, Odin; and Thor, the Angel of the ‘I’-hood. You were connected with these, and he who is sufficiently prepared will acquire the possibility of re-entering this spiritual world. But it will then appear different; other powers will have been added to it, and the spheres of power and the conditions of power of those old spiritual leaders of the human race will have changed. You will, it is true, see into this world, but you will see something different from what you have hitherto experienced.’
That which man will then see, they describe to him as vision of the future, that vision which will one day appear before the human soul when man is again able to see into the spiritual world, when he will see what the destiny of the old figures of the Gods has been, and how they entered into relation with other powers. This vision of the future as seen by the Initiates, arose from Lucifer having come into conflict with that which comes from the Gods and which will also produce its effects. This vision of the future was painted for man by the Initiates in the picture of the ‘Twilight of the gods.’ Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods (Götterdämmerung), is therefore the picture placed before the Germanic Scandinavians by the Initiates as a vision of the future. And again we shall see that all the events thus presented as future events could not, even down to the smallest details, be given better, could not be more terminologically correct or more to the point, than in the wonderful picture of the Twilight of the Gods. That is the occult background of the Saga of the Twilight of the Gods.
How then should man regard himself? He should regard himself as receiving all that comes from former ages as the origin and cause of his evolution, and should thoughtfully accept what he received from Odin as a gift, but he should regard himself as having gone through the evolution following after that. He should receive into himself the teachings implanted in him by Odin, who came to him as an Archangel. He should make himself a son of Odin. He should take part in the battle and that right soon. The Initiate, the leader of the Esoteric School, makes that clear, particularly to the Northman, by indicating the divine spiritual Being Who appears to us so mysteriously, Who really plays a definite part only in the ‘Twilight of the Gods’ because he overcomes even that power by which Odin himself is overcome. The avenger of Odin is given a special rôle and he plays it in the Twilight of the Gods. When we understand this rôle we shall then see the wonderful connection between the capacities of the Germanic Scandinavians and that which we can conceive as the Vision of the Future. All this is expressed in a wonderful way, down to the very smallest details, in the great vision of ‘The Twilight of the Gods.’