Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit
8. The true meaning of ordeals of the soul. Progressive gods and backward beings. The Mystery of Golgotha.
25 August 1911, Munich
In the course of yesterday's lecture we saw how manifold cosmic forces play into human nature, and we also saw how the Greeks experienced these forces and gave them pictorial expression in a mythology most of which is still extant. My frequent references to Greek mythology have not at all been made with the object of interpreting it, but rather to throw the light which it affords upon certain pristine truths. Pictures, together with what we gather from history, are a better help in this respect than our abstract ideas, which are too impoverished to be able to bring to adequate expression the great wonders of the world. Then too in the figure of Dionysos our attention was drawn to something which is associated with the deepest forces of our souls, with what we can call the challenges or ordeals of the soul. What then is meant by the expression ‘ordeals of the soul’? Ordeals are what come upon a man whenever he tries to enter upon the paths leading to the spiritual worlds. I made some reference yesterday to the lightest, the gentlest of them. In general they consist of the experiences a man can have on his way into the higher worlds, experiences to which his soul is not equal without having undergone a certain preparation. The ordeal thus lies in the fact that a man has to make great efforts to endure certain pieces of knowledge, to meet calmly certain experiences. A soul-experience of this nature is indicated towards the end of the second of my Rosicrucian dramas, The Soul's Probation, and this will perhaps help to make clear what such an inner ordeal actually is.
Let us call to mind the figure there described, the figure we know as Capesius. We know from both these two plays of mine the experiences which he has undergone. We have seen how little by little he draws near to the spiritual life, how to begin with the sound instinct, which has alienated him from the kind of scholarship he had hitherto pursued, gives him premonitions of it but no more. He begins to suspect that there is a higher reality behind the world of the mind. It is mainly because he gives rein to these premonitions, it is because he allows them full play, that he inevitably becomes impressed by the exoteric teachings of Spiritual Science. The communications of Spiritual Science differ fundamentally from those of other scientific or literary discourse. Whereas the other simply appeals to our intellect, and perhaps indirectly through our intellect to our feeling, a man is only allowing Spiritual or Occult Science to work upon him rightly if he is stirred to the inmost depths of his soul, if his soul is turned inside out, so to say, if it is completely changed by what flows therefrom, not as abstract content, but as life itself. Something like that is what Capesius is depicted as feeling in the first scene of the second Play, after he has wrestled with himself as a result of his premonitions, and then plunged deeply into the writings of Benedictus, into the ‘Book of Life’. And that not only causes him to ponder, to rack his brains to try to get at the meaning of what he reads, as he would do whatever he was reading, but he feels the spiritual world break in upon him in a way he does not understand. It has yet another effect upon him. It would be easy to compare the mood which prevails in the first scene of the second Play with the mood at the opening of Goethe's Faust; it is however essentially different. The mood of Faust merely shows that, having arrived at a certain scepticism, a certain doubt, as to all knowledge, a man then has an inner urge to find other ways of obtaining knowledge than the usual ones. In Capesius's case something else happens. To begin with he is torn in two, because it makes him recognise doubt, persistence in ignorance, as man's greatest sin. He learns to acknowledge that something lies in the depths of the human soul of which the normal consciousness is quite unaware. A treasure slumbers in the deepest strata of our souls; we are harbouring something in depths of soul which the normal consciousness is at first incapable of recognising.
When we enter fully into the meaning and the true significance of Spiritual Science, we realise that it is no mere selfish yearning, but deep-seated duty towards the macrocosmic forces not to allow the buried treasure in our souls to be wasted. We come to realise that deep down in every man there lies something which once upon a time the gods implanted in him out of their own body, their own substance. We come to feel: ‘The gods have sacrificed a piece of their own existence, they have as it were torn away a fragment of their own flesh, and have deposited it within human souls.’ We men can do one of two things with this treasure, this divine heritage. We can out of a certain indolence say: ‘What do I want with knowledge? The gods will soon direct me to my goal!’ But they do not do so, for they have buried this treasure within us in order that we may bring it to the light of day out of our own freedom. Thus we can let this treasure go to waste. That is one of the courses which the soul can take. The alternative is that, recognising our highest duty towards the heavenly powers, we should say to ourselves: ‘We must raise up this treasure, we must lift it out of the hidden depths into our consciousness.’ What are we doing when we bring up this treasure out of the unconscious? We give it a different form from the one it had earlier in the body of the gods, but in a mysterious way we give it back again to the gods in the form which it has acquired through us. We are not cultivating in our knowledge any private concern of our own, we are not doing anything merely in the interests of our own egotism, we are simply carrying back into the higher worlds, in the changed form which it has acquired through us, the noble heritage which the gods have given us, so that they may share it with us. But if we neglect this treasure, if we allow it to deteriorate, then we are in a very real sense being egotistic, for then this treasure in our souls is irrevocably lost to the world-process. We are allowing our divine heritage to go to waste, if we are reluctant to recognise its presence in us.
The mood of Capesius springs from this. In the first scene of the second Play he feels it his duty not to stick fast in doubt, not to persist in the feeling that one can know nothing; he feels that it would be a violation of his duty to the cosmic powers to allow the treasure in his soul to go to waste. Only he feels to begin with incapable of using the apparatus of his body to draw out these riches, and that is what causes the conflict in his soul. There is nothing of the Faustian attitude here. On the contrary, Capesius says to himself: ‘You must acknowledge that you cannot persist in your ignorance; you may not surrender to the feeling which overtakes you when you think how little strength our customary life has placed at our disposal for drawing out this treasure.’ Then there is only one resource left to us — confidence in our own soul. If the soul patiently develops what lies within it, little by little, then the strength which it feels as yet to be inadequate is bound to become ever greater, until it will at length really be able to fulfil its obligations towards the cosmic powers. This trust in the soul's powers of endurance and its fruitfulness must uphold us when, as often, because we only bring with us strength drawn from the past, we feel afraid, not knowing what to do; when it seems: ‘You must, and at this moment you cannot.’ All the soul's ordeals are like this. From this fear, this feeling of impotence, we at first shrink back, and it is only when we find the strength which arises from this confidence in ourselves, from this trust which grows in us gradually through our deepening in Spiritual Science, that we are able to pass safely through such trials.
You will already have recognised from the whole trend of these lectures that two cosmic influences play their part in man, in his whole nature and being. And to bring these two currents into harmony great strength of soul is needed, strength to confront them both with fortitude and courage. This is clearly expressed at the end of my second Play >The Soul's Probation. There we see how Capesius has undergone important occult experiences, how he has been permitted a glimpse into his previous incarnation, how he has been allowed to know what he was centuries ago on Earth. Then we come to a sentence which is really not to be taken lightly. We come to the saying that knowledge of one life lays obligations upon us for many lives, not simply for one. When we look back into our former incarnation, when we see how we have behaved to this or that person, when we see the debt we have incurred towards them, we feel that we have a heavy burden of debt to repay. And then there comes to us a thought which might well rob us of all courage; we recognise: ‘It is quite impossible for you to make good in your present incarnation the debt which you have brought upon yourself.’ Many men have a great longing to make all the reparation possible, but that springs from egotism. Most men in their egotism find it intolerable to have to carry through the gate of death so very much of their debit account, unbearable to have to say to themselves: ‘You must die and must take your debt of guilt in respect of this or the other matter with you into your next incarnation.’ But courage to admit freely and frankly, ‘You have wickedness upon your soul’, calls for a high degree of disinterestedness, whereas usually the human being wants to think himself as good as is his idea of a good man.
Anyone who has had occult experiences of the kind we have been speaking of has to recognise his evil propensities frankly, and he must go further, he must accept the impossibility of making everything good in this life. Romanus expresses this in The Soul's Probation 1Scene 13. in a speech which may serve to illustrate this point. He says that guilt from the preceding life has to be carried through the gate of death, and that we must have the courage to face the moment when the Guardian stands before us and presents us with our debit account. This situation has to be taken seriously. It brings us face to face with the other current which may be described in the following way. When the human being cultivates self-knowledge — not just superficial self-knowledge, but true self-knowledge — when he really learns something of his inmost being, then as a rule he discovers something in himself which he finds it very difficult to accept, something which is in the highest degree repugnant to him, something which, when it really dawns upon him, is absolutely shattering. Contrast this crushing feeling in the depths of the soul with the sentiment which prevails in so many people, even in those who have some acquaintance with Spiritual Science. How often do we hear it said: ‘I do that with no thought of myself, I don't want anything for myself,’ and so on. It may be that just when one is most self-seeking one puts on a mask, one hides this fact from oneself by saying, ‘I want nothing for myself.’ That is a common experience. But it is better to acknowledge to oneself the truth, that at bottom even the most unselfish actions are performed for our own sakes, for by recognising this we lay a foundation which will enable us gradually to bear the true picture with which the Guardian of the Threshold confronts us.
Now let us consider the question at a higher level. Why is it that we find so much in ourselves which is inharmonious? That is connected with the whole of evolution. We shall have to undertake a deeper study of human evolution if we want to understand why it is just when the human being plunges more deeply into his own nature and his own being that he finds so much that is inharmonious. Let us assume for a moment that there is a treasure hidden in the depths of our soul of which the normal consciousness today is quite unaware, and that when in the course of our soul's trials we discover it, we find so much to shock us that we probably shrink back in terror, feeling completely shattered. What is it that we carry within us? We all know that humanity underwent a very complicated evolution before man reached his present stage. We know that in order to reach his present form he had to go through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions and that only after having done this did he enter upon Earth evolution. One day the complexity of the facts of life will be recognised in wider circles and people will realise that it is impossible to understand man or his environment without taking into consideration the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions; people will then see how very naive, how superficial, is the contribution of the abstract science of today. Thus what we have today as the fourfold human being has been slowly prepared and formed through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. By the time the Moon evolution came to an end, the human being had developed up to a certain point. The time between Moon and Earth evolutions was occupied in working upon the spiritual element which had been present in man during the Moon evolution, elaborating it into a new germ for Earth evolution.
What, then, was man like — man, the product of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions — when he arrived on Earth? We have already dealt with this question from very many aspects. Today we will look at it from yet another side. We cannot come to know occult facts by pinning ourselves down to a few abstract concepts; we have to approach the truth by throwing light on the facts from all sides. The paths of higher truth are complex, and only he can walk them who is willing patiently to trace their labyrinth.
What was man like when, bringing with him the fruits of his Moon evolution, he arrived on Earth? Nothing of what we are familiar with today as the physical body of man was present at the commencement of Earth evolution. Although the first rudiments of this physical body were present in the Saturn evolution, were further developed on the Sun, and had already reached a high stage of development on the Moon, we must nevertheless understand that in the intervening periods between Saturn and Sun, and again between the Sun and Moon evolutions, all that had evolved of the physical and other bodies had reverted to spirit. Everything again passed over into imperceptible substantiality at the end of the Moon evolution. The physical which had evolved on Saturn and subsequently been further fashioned was no longer physical, everything had been taken up into the spirit again; the physical was as it were in solution, was present only as forces — forces with the capacity to call forth physical forms, but with the physical element not actually present. When Earth evolution began, what we call the physical was not there in a physical, but only in a spiritual form, a spiritual form which was capable of condensing little by little to the physical. That has to be borne in mind.
We can go further. We know that we are now in the postAtlantean age, and that this was preceded by the Atlantean and the Lemurian ages. Beyond the Lemurian age we come to still earlier periods of Earth evolution. But at the beginning of Lemuria man was still not to be found in his present form as physical body. What today is physical was at that time, even where it was densest, still only in etheric form; that is to say, the forces of our present physical body were at that time in solution as it were within the ether body, but the forces of this ether body were such that when they condensed in accordance with their own nature they were then able to bring about our physical body. Thus these etheric forces were in a way the forces of the physical body but they were not present in a physical condition. Thus when man entered upon his Lemurian development, his densest body was still an etheric one. Condensation to the physical body only began from the Lemurian time onwards. It was brought about in a very complicated manner. Thus for spiritual vision man was there at the outset in an etheric body, and this etheric body contained those physical forces which had been acquired through the course of Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. These forces had the tendency to condense, so that little by little the physical body could come into existence, but they were not yet in physical form. But had the forces of the physical body condensed in the way they tended to do at that time, even in his physical appearance man today would have looked very different.
We must be quite clear that, in fact, man's appearance today is quite different from what he was by predisposition in the time which preceded ancient Lemuria. During the course of the Lemurian, Atlantean and post-Atlantean epochs there have been at work in human nature not only the forces which were already present in man in rudimentary form, but other forces as well. If we wish to form an idea of what the further working of the forces of the etheric body has been, it can best be illustrated in a particular organic system of the human physical body. Let us consider what a part of the human being originating from the ether body has become since the time of Lemuria; let this diagram represent the human ether body as it was at the beginning of Earth evolution, before the Lemurian epoch. In it we find numerous currents, manifold directions of force, which are the outcome of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions; from among these we pick out a certain number the purpose of which was to bring into being in man's physical organism his blood circulation with its centralisation in the heart. Thus there are forces which were acquired under Saturn, Sun and Moon conditions which were anchored in the etheric body before Lemuria, and which then condensed in such a way as to bring about the blood-system with its centre in the heart. We have been describing a particular organic system which from the time of Lemuria onwards, out of specific etheric forces in our ether body, has little by little reached physical densification. Just as, given the right treatment, you can see salt-crystals crystallise out from a solution of common salt in water, just as a crystalline form becomes visible in the solution, so in a higher sense something of the same kind happens to the blood-system and the heart. They crystallise out of special forces in the human etheric body which have an inherent tendency to condense to this physical organic system. It has only been during the course of Earth evolution that they have been able to develop into the physical heart.
We have yet to see why that took place in the course of Earth evolution, and not for instance in the Moon evolution. What really do the blood circulation and the heart mean to us? They are the ether-world condensed, they are the densified forces of the etheric world! Now from the moment these forces reached the degree of density manifested today by the physical heart, by the blood and the whole circulatory system, they would have come to an end as far as Earth evolution is concerned, a kind of death would have set in. The important and mysterious feature of Earth evolution is not only that this densification took place, not only that the forces which had come over from Saturn, Sun and Moon condensed to such an organic system, not only that what was in the etheric body became physical, but that as regards each of our systems of organs in Earth evolution an impulse entered whereby what was once etheric and had become physical, is once more dissolved, is changed back again into the ether. That this is so, that after the etheric forces have condensed to a system of organs they are not allowed to rest at this as their goal, but that other forces then intervene which dissolve them again, is one of the most momentous impulses of our Earth evolution. In the very moment when our human organs have reached the point of greatest densification in earthly evolution, certain macrocosmic powers re-dissolve the substantiality of the organic system, so that what was there before and had gradually lapsed into this organic condition, now emerges from it again, again becomes visible.
This process can be most closely followed by the occultist in the case of the heart and the blood streaming through it; it is possible to see how this dissolution comes about, how the Earth-impulses enter into the substance of such an organic system. For clairvoyant sight something streams continuously out of our heart — our heart, the outcome of our blood circulation. If you see clairvoyantly the blood pulsating through the human body, then you also see how this blood becomes rarefied again in the heart, how in its finest elements—not in its coarser, but in its finer parts — it is dissolved and returns to the etheric form. Just as the blood has gradually been formed in the ether, so in the human body of the present day we have the reverse process. The blood becomes etherised, and streams of ether flow continuously from the heart towards the head, so that we see the etheric body built up in an opposite direction by way of the blood. Thus what crystallised out from the etheric during the early part of Lemuria to form the human blood circulation and the heart we now see returning to the etheric form and streaming in the human etheric body towards the brain. And unless these streams of ether were to flow continuously from the heart towards the head, however much we tried to think about the world and to know about it, we should be quite unable to make use of our brain as the instrument for thought. As an instrument for knowledge the brain would be completely useless if it were only to function as physical brain. We have to resort to occultism to learn how the brain would work today if it were left to itself. The human being would only be able to think thoughts connected with the inner needs of his body. For example he would be able to think, ‘Now I am hungry, now I am thirsty, now I will satisfy this or that instinct.’ If he were entirely dependent upon his physical brain man would only be able to think thoughts connected with his own bodily needs, he would be the perfect egoist. But currents of a fine etheric substance coming from the heart stream continuously through the brain. These etheric currents are indirectly related to a delicate and important part of the human brain called the pineal gland. They continuously lave the pineal gland, which becomes luminous and its movements as physical brain-organ respond in harmony with these etheric currents emanating from the heart. Thereby these etheric currents are brought again into connection with the physical brain and give it an impress which enables us to know, in addition to egotistic knowledge, something of the outside world, something that is not ourselves. Thus by way of the pineal gland our etherised blood reacts upon our brain. You will find an even more detailed description of this from a certain standpoint in the lectures which are about to be published under the title Occult Physiology, 2Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1951. lectures originally held in Prague. There I have pointed out from another aspect something of the function of the pineal gland. So you see we have not only a process within the Earth which leads to solidification, but also a reverse process of rarefaction. When we grasp this we are driven to the conclusion that we bear in us forces which will cause us to revert to the form we had during the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions.
In his normal consciousness today, man knows nothing of the marvellous play of forces in his ether body; he knows nothing of this communication between heart and brain. Anyone who is made aware of it through occult development becomes aware of something peculiar about these etheric currents, and here self-knowledge yields something very striking, something of the highest significance. One comes to know how these forces stream upwards from the heart to the brain, to form the brain in such a way that the human being may be able to make use of it as the instrument of his soul-life. But at the same time one learns that these forces have not passed through the human organisation unscathed, that they do not leave the heart in the same state in which they entered it. All that man has meanwhile developed out of the unconscious by way of lower instincts and appetites, all his natural propensities, are carried along in the etheric stream which is borne upwards from the heart. Thus we received this current in ancient Lemuria as a pure etheric stream which had no other craving, no other will so to say, than to condense to form the wondrous structure of our heart. Since that time we have gone on living as physical men with this heart and this blood circulation, we have passed through a number of incarnations without knowing anything of this solidification of our original ether bodies into the physical parts of heart and blood circulation. And we have become permeated with desires, longings, sympathies and antipathies, emotions and passions, habits and mistakes, and the reborn ether body which now streams upwards to the brain is darkened, is filled with all this. We send all this upwards from our heart and now, in real self-knowledge, we become aware of it. We become aware that what we received from the gods themselves in the depths of our life-body we are unable to give back to the gods again in the same state in which we received it, but that it has become sullied by our own being.
Little by little we must come to know more closely what it is that I have just described as a kind of impurity of our own being. If we would understand the matter we have to bear in mind the following considerations. At the beginning of the Saturn evolution, or rather before it had begun, there was one single etheric stream for the whole of mankind and for the whole of Earth evolution. At the very moment when the Saturn evolution started a split occurred in the cosmic powers. We shall learn later why that happened; now I only want just to mention it. This duality in the whole of cosmic activity only started from the moment when Saturn began to develop. Greek mythology indicates it by making ancient Saturn or Cronos, as the Greeks called him, the opponent of his father Uranus. This shows that they were aware of the original unity of all the macrocosmic forces. But when Saturn or Cronos began to crystallise, at once something hidden in the nature of Cronos put him in opposition to the general evolution. To repeat what has been said before, we can put it in this way: The totality of the divine-spiritual Beings who held sway in evolution when the development of the planet Saturn began split in two; so that we now have one evolutionary stream which is directly involved in everything which takes place through Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions down to our Earth, and another stream side by side with this main one.
You can form a rough idea of this secondary stream if you think of the air, the atmosphere surrounding our Earth, as a finer substance, and compare it with the denser parts of the Earth, with water and with the solid elements. We could likewise imagine that a denser development went on in Saturn, Sun and Moon, but that this denser evolution was all the time sheathed in a more rarefied evolution. We could imagine that there were divine-spiritual Beings working directly on Saturn, Sun and Moon in their own substance, but that there were always other divine-spiritual Beings in the periphery who surrounded the spiritual Beings working directly in Saturn, Sun and Moon just as air surrounds the Earth. Thus we have indicated two realms of gods, two spiritual realms, one of which plays a direct part in all that takes place successively in the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolution, the other holding itself aloof, so to say, and only intervening indirectly. Now we must try to form an idea of how the one category of gods is related to the other. Please take careful note of the relationship of those gods whose range is properly speaking more comprehensive, I mean those who take part directly in the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, to those others who encircle this cosmic globe in its successive stages.
You will get a better idea of this if you first have a look at man himself. Take the human soul: it thinks. What does it mean, to think? It means to bring about thoughts. Thinking is a process which goes on in us, and while on the one hand it makes real soul-beings of us, on the other hand it draws us upward and causes our thoughts all the time to envelop our souls. Now man with his thoughts, even as a being of soul, is still at a relatively subordinate stage of world-organisation, but the Beings whom we have just referred to as gods, dividing them into two streams, are at a far higher stage. Imagine for a moment that man was capable not only of grasping his thought purely as thought, but that the human soul was so strong that what it thought immediately became a being. Imagine that we were to give birth to our thoughts as beings, that whenever we grasped a thought it straightaway existed. (In a certain way it does remain in the Akasha Chronicle, but it does not become so dense that we are confronted by it as a reality.) Imagine that we were not just to think thoughts, but that with each thought we were to bring forth a being! Then you would have grasped what takes place within the divine-spiritual world. The gods who were living in the complete harmony, the perfect unity, which existed among them before Saturn, represented themselves; they thought. But their thoughts were not like human thoughts, which we have to pronounce unreal; they were Beings, they were other gods. Thus we have generations of gods whose reality is original, and others who are merely the representations — the real ideas — of the gods directly associated with the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. They are the gods who surround the world-sphere in the course of its development through the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions.
Thus we have two categories of gods; one of them is the thought-world of the other, is in fact related to the other as our thoughts are related to our real soul-existence. What have we so far usually called the gods who are merely the thoughts of the others? Because of certain characteristics of theirs we have called them Luciferic beings, and henceforth we must assign to the category of Luciferic beings all those of whom we can say that ‘the original gods had need to present themselves to themselves in self-knowledge.’ Therefore they confronted themselves with the Luciferic beings as cosmic thoughts, or cosmic thought-beings, just as the human being is confronted by his thoughts. And just as man actually first comes to know himself in his thoughts, so the original gods learned to know themselves in Lucifer and his hosts. We could express that in another way; we could say that these beings, who are really only the ideas of the others, always lagged behind the others in their development. The advanced gods have so to say left something of themselves behind, so that they could look back and see themselves in this mirror thrown off from their own substance—just as we in everyday life can only see ourselves in a mirror. Thus in fact the Luciferic beings are backward beings, entities thrown off by the original gods, entities who are there to form a mirror of self-knowledge for the progressive gods.
In a certain sense what goes on in our own souls is a complete picture of this macrocosm. Only the pattern prefigured in the macrocosm occurs in us reversed. We bear in our microcosm a copy of this division between the ranks of the gods, of whom one class is original and the other born out of this original class and existing in order that the original gods may present themselves to themselves. From this you can well see that there must be a great difference between these two categories of gods.
The difference is quite obvious. It is shown in the fact that our entire self, including all that is unconscious in us, the whole comprehensive self from which our bodily organisation, has also sprung, derives from the original generation of gods. But what we experience, what we can span with our everyday consciousness comes from the generation of gods who are only the thoughts of the original gods. Our being comes to us from two sides. Our organisation as a whole, with all that is unconscious in us, comes from the original generation of gods. What we are conscious of comes from the other side, from the generation of gods who only hover around the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. Hence when we examine closely our own life of ideation we feel that the idea or mental representation is, in a higher sense, only the youngest daughter, so to say, of a line of gods; we feel the unreality, the merely notional transience, the elusiveness, of our life of consciousness. That is something which also dawned upon the pupils of the Greek Mysteries, in that it was made clear to them: ‘There are divine streams running through the whole of evolution which are all-embracing, all-inclusive, which pour their entire being into us, streams of which we are quite unconscious; and there are other streams which are only taken into the ordinary normal consciousness.’ Then the Greek pupil became clear that he must disregard his formal consciousness and turn to the ancient gods, who were also called the gods of the underworld, gods in whose nature Dionysos shared, for only so would he be able to acquire knowledge of the true being of man.
There is only one Being in Earth evolution through whom something quite new can enter into us — a new element of clairvoyance, but also a new element of feeling and activity, steeped in occult forces.
The fact is that of the divine stream which hovered over the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, up to a certain point of time only what I have just described could enter into human life. It streamed into human consciousness from outside, so to say, without man's descending into his inmost being, into the region of the lower gods. And what flowed in in this way was something incapable of ever reaching true world-reality. It was not possible to reach the true world-reality through external knowledge. In order to reach that it would have been necessary for something to be instilled into what through the long ages of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, had entered our normal consciousness from without — something which was not just the thought-life of the sub-earthly, the Chthonic deities, but something which was itself a reality, something which would cause our mere life of thought — all that seems to us to have been exuded from our soul as our unreal thoughtlife — suddenly for a moment to be so laid hold of by a substantial reality ... that a particularly precious thought should stand fast and abide with us, close to us as our very soul, as a reality. Something like this would have to happen if the gods moving in the periphery were to work in the way that the other gods have acted throughout the ages — the gods who through the more extended self have worked right into our bodily organisation. Something would have to stream into us from without, which would signify a kind of renewal from the spiritual world, a resurrection, a revivification of what had first organised us and then withdrawn into the depths of our consciousness.
What entered into these peripheral gods at a certain moment was in fact the Christ, who at the Baptism by John in the Jordan took possession of the body of Jesus of Nazareth. In Christ a divine Being entered into physical life by the same path which had been taken by those gods who earlier had only been the thought-life of other gods. But now for the first time a real Being enters, a Being who is not just the thought of the other gods, but who is substantial and autonomous. Out of the world-space, in which hitherto only the thoughts of other gods had lived, there comes a divine thought which is real. What had made that possible? It was possible because this significant event of the Baptism by John in the Jordan had been preceded by a long preparation lasting through the whole of evolution through Saturn, Sun and Moon. What happened on the banks of the Jordan, and later in the Mystery of Golgotha, echoes another momentous event that took place in the far-distant past, as far back as the time of the Sun evolution.
We know that prior to Earth evolution there were the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions. On Earth we experience the Mystery of Golgotha and the Baptism by John in the Jordan. It can be elicited from the Akasha Chronicle that during the Sun evolution another important event took place. You could describe it as the culmination of a long process. The upper gods were the thoughts of the lower gods, and these upper gods found that it suited them better, (putting it colloquially) to live in the rarefied element of the upper world rather than in the denser element of which the Earth was composed. It was during the Sun evolution that this separation took place between the two different generations of gods, of whom one elected to continue to live, as the real ancient gods, with the elements of earth, water and air, whereas the other found it too difficult to enter into these dense elements, and continued to live only in what we call the etheric elements, first with warmth, then with light, chemical and life ether. We can also designate these two generations of gods working side by side by saying that the one chose the more difficult path, that took them through the denser elements, while the other chose the easy way, flitting around the first generation in the chemical and life-ether out of which they formed their bodies. Everything which lives in the finer etheric elements was developed in this way, forces were developed which in the long run were only able to live in these finer elements. This took place in the main during the Sun evolution.
But towards the middle of the Sun evolution something stupendous happened. A Being developed forces not in accordance with the finer, rarer etheric elements. Side by side with the Mystery of Golgotha which we call the great Earth-sacrifice we can speak of a Sun-sacrifice in that a Being who had chosen to dwell among the gods who only wanted to live in the finer elements nevertheless developed powers of densification adequate to the Earth elements. And so, since the Sun evolution, we have had in the ranks of the Beings equipped only with forces adapted to the etheric spheres, a Being who, within the cosmic ether, has an inner relationship with the earthly element. From the time of the Sun evolution this Being waited for the right moment to introduce the forces He had developed into the Earth itself. It was Zarathustra's great merit to recognise ‘In the sun in the heavens above us something remains from the old Sun evolution. For the present this Being is in the sun. But the moment is drawing near when He will also bring down to earth his form that is suited to the earthly elements.’ Then came the time when humanity, though still not mature enough to recognise this Being who had become part of the etheric world in Himself, was nevertheless able to recognise Him in reflection; that was a stage on the way.
Thus in course of evolution, for reasons which we shall speak of tomorrow, this Being showed Himself to humanity to begin with not directly, but in a reflected form, which we can describe as related to reality as moonlight, which is reflected sunlight, is related to the direct light of the sun. That Being who began to prepare Himself for His great deed on Golgotha during the old Sun evolution, was first shown to humanity in mirrored form. And this reflected form was called by the ancient Hebrew people, Jahve. Jahve or Jehovah is the reflection of Christ; he is really the same as Christ, only seen in a mirror, so to say, seen aforetime, prophetically — prefigured until the time was ripe for Him to show Himself not merely in reflection, but in His own, His pristine form.
Thus we see the most important event for the Earth was prepared in the old Sun, we see humanity prepared for the Christ through the ancient Hebrew civilisation. We see the Being who once separated Himself from the Earth and went to the Sun return to the Earth again; but we see too that He first revealed Himself to man in a mirrored image, so to say in a representation. Jahve or Jehovah is related to the real Christ just as the upper gods are related to the lower ones, he is the representation of the real Christ, and to those who see through things, resembles Him completely. Hence in a certain way we can speak of Jehovah-Christ, and in doing so light upon the true sense of the Gospels, which relate that the Christ Himself said: ‘If you would come to know Me, then you must know how Moses and the Prophets have spoken of Me.’ Christ knew well that when, of old, people spoke of Jehovah or Jahve, they were speaking of Him, and that all that was said of Jahve applied to Himself, as the mirror-image is related to its archetype.