The Destiny of Individuals and of Nations
5. The Nature of the Christ Impulse and the Michaelic Sprit Serving It — II
19 January 1915, Berlin
Once again, let us first of all direct our thoughts to those who are out there at the front, in the arena of present-day events, where they have to stand for what the time demands of them:
Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard here on earth.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.
And for those who have already gone through the gate of death:
Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard here on earth.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.
May the spirit we have been seeking for so many gears in our movement, the spirit who has gone through the Mystery of Golgotha, be present above you, may it stream through you and strengthen you for your difficult task.
It seems that not everyone is quite clear about the verse I have just spoken, so I am told. Let me stress that the proper version reads: Spirit of your souls. The verse has been phrased in such a way that it can be used when many people want to speak for one person or one for many or, indeed, many for many — as in the present case. If it refers to just one person, the only change which has to be made is to say ‘Spirit of your soul’ and so forth. It appears that I made a slip of the tongue when I said the verse for the first time here some weeks ago, so that the view has arisen that the words ‘Spirits of your souls’ may not be quite correct. But they are correct as they stand. The first line is addressed to the spirits of the souls requiring protection, as it were and the ‘your’ refers to those to whom our thoughts are directed. In the second line on the other hand, the 'your' relates to the 'guardians'. Let me remark that such verses are always such by nature that there can be problems with the purely grammatical construction. But they are given from the spiritual world for the specific Purpose, and it is true that there are occasional problems with putting the words together for such verses.
Dear friends, it was for good reason and, spiritually, also very much in accord with the work that has to be done in the present time, that two days ago we turned our attention to events in the evolution of man that show how spiritual impulses — and particularly the spiritual Impulses linked with the Mystery of Golgotha, with the Christ impulse — are living impulses within the evolution of man. We have seen how they were active in the evolution of man even though men were unable to grasp the nature of the Christ impulse with their reason, with their intellect.
It was with this intention that reference was made among other historical events to Joan of Arc through whom this Christ impulse resolved a major issue in the 15th century through its servant, the Michaelic spirit, and for the good and advancement of mankind. The reason why it was particularly important to refer to this event was that in our day, too, it does hold true that everything destined to regulate events on the historical scale is ordered and regulated from the spiritual worlds. We need to be aware that the forces, the impulses, for what is to happen come to us from the spiritual worlds. In this respect the same holds true today as in the days of Joan of Arc. But the times are different. What would happen in a particular way in the days of Joan or Arc has to happen in a different way in our time and in times to come; it has to take a different course. For our time is one that is entirely different. Since the 15th and 16th century — and the Joan of Arc event did, of course, come in that period — mankind had been guided in quite a different way. It is this difference, and consequently the basic nature of our time, that we shall consider to some extent today.
Between going to sleep and waking up we are in a soul state where
that which we really are is outside our physical and our ether bodies.
Asleep, we live in our astral body and our ego. We need to have a very
clear picture of this. That which we really are is then outside our
physical and our ether bodies. Asleep, we live in our astral body and
our ego. We need to have a very clear picture of this. That which we
really are is then outside the body. We are, of course, bound to our
body to an extraordinary degree between birth and death so that in terms
of space we are not far away from our body when asleep. Our soul element
is spread out in our surroundings, as it were; that is in everything
that specifically makes up our environment.
Let us get a clear picture of how the environment has changed specifically over the last centuries — since the 15th and 16 centuries — at least for the great majority of the people whom we have to consider in relation to what fate has decreed for the present age. Just consider whether any of the machinery or the mechanical contrivances we use today also existed at the time when Joan of Arc did her work. We can certainly say that the world has changed completely since that time as far as mechanical things are concerned. Everything we experience in relation to machines has only come since then. There may be some observant people among you who have taken a ‘sleeper’ (train) to travel overnight. They may have had the strange experience of waking up — and this is the kind of occasion when one may wake up quite frequently — and finding that something was still rumbling on that was inherent in the machinery of the train all about them. Something can be perceived, as it were, when one is waking up but still in a dream state, of the croaking and squealing of the train or boat one happens to be on. This happens because the soul is not really in the body but in the area around the body and is placed among those mechanical contrivances.
Yet it is not only on such less usual occasions that we live among the hustle and bustle of the present age, and we can certainly say that the mechanized life has also spread to the countryside today. Fundamentally speaking, we are always within the mechanized life of the present age. When asleep, the soul merges into everything that is mechanism. Those are mechanisms, however, which we have constructed ourselves. A mechanism we have built is something quite different from nature outside us, for this has been constructed by the elemental spirits. When we are out in the woods, for instance, where everything has been built up by the spirits of nature, we are in an environment that is totally different from the environment of mechanical contrivances created by ourselves. What are we doing when we take things from nature and put them together to make the machines and appliances we use in our lives? We are in that case not merely putting together physical components, for in putting together physical components we always provide opportunity for a demonic Ahrimanic servant to unite with the machine. We do this with every machine, every mechanism, in everything of this kind that is part of modern civilization, providing a point of attachment for demonic elemental spirits of Ahrimanic nature. And living surrounded by machines we live together with these demonic Ahrimanic elementals. We allow them to enter into us; we allow not only the squealing and groaning of machines to enter into us but also an element that is eminently destructive for our spirit and our soul.
Please note — and I have often made a similar comment on similar occasions — what I am saying is not intended to be a criticism of our Ahrimanic age. It has to be like this, that we allow demons to stream into everything and allow ourselves to the surrounded by them. It is part of the evolution of mankind. We have to acknowledge the simple necessity for this and understand the real impulse of spiritual science. And so we shall not sing the praises of people who say it is necessary, as far as possible, to protect oneself from the demons and to shun civilization and that we should set up a colony as far away as possible in the wilderness to save us from having anything to do with these demonic Ahrimanic elementals. That has never been the tenor of my words. I have always said that we must entirely accept what comes to us out of the necessity of evolution, that we must not let ourselves be induced to flee from the world. We need to take heed, however, we need to understand, that conditions are such in our age that we are filling our environment more and more with beings of a demonic nature, that we are more and more involved with the principle that is mechanizing our civilization. An age such as this cans for something quite different than the age out of which Joan of Arc was called to do her work. In the time of Joan of Arc it was necessary for the impulse out of which she was to act to be born out of the gentlest, the most subtle powers of the human soul. Just consider: she was a shepherd girl living a very simple, natural life, with nature at her most idyllic. She was very young when her visions came to her, and through the Imaginations given to her she had a direct link with the spiritual world. Out of her inner being she was to bring forth everything that was to be the foundation from which she acted, she was to let it grow forth from her inner being. And not only this, but it was necessary for very special circumstances to be brought about so that through the most subtle powers inherent in the human soul her mission could be imprinted in her soul, in her very heart of hearts.
We know that everything in the world goes in cycles, that things happen in such a way that important events come up in definite cycles. If we take the year of Joan's birth, 1412, we can ask a specific question relating to this. We are able to say that the year this Maid of Orleans was born the sun would of course have been in a particular position, astronomical position, coinciding with one of the constellations in the zodiac. The progress of the sun from one sign of the zodiac to the next marks a major time interval. Passing right through the zodiac the sun will go through all twelve constellations; the time interval needed for the sun to progress from one constellation in the zodiac to the next is approximately 2,160 years, and this is important. Going back approximately 2,160 years from the birth of Joan of Arc we come to the founding of Rome.
In the days when Rome was founded anyone needing information on major issues concerning the city which was then coming into being would go to see the nymph Egeria. There it was possible to get information, from a seeress. But, as I said, that was one solar cycle earlier. And so the times are renewed and everything goes in cycles. Let us visualize it like this: at the time when Rome was founded the sun was at a certain point in the constellation of the Ram, Aries. It then progressed to the Fishes, Pisces, so that it had moved through one-twelfth of the zodiac. And thus the cycle which inevitably has to be there In the evolution of mankind takes us from the nymph Egeria to the inspired deed of Joan of Arc. In ancient Rome, however, it was a matter of pagan Inspiration, of pagan deeds. If we try to think of the same visionary element that operated at the time when Rome was founded also having to operate in a Christian age, acting from within, through the most tender powers inherent in man, what did have to come about? You can imagine that something had to come about which again, in some way or other, had to do with the subtlest powers of the Christian faith.
Most of you will remember my telling you of the variation we get in the course of the year in the forces that link us with the spiritual world. In summer, at St John's tide when the sun's rays are most Powerful externally, one might perhaps achieve an external ecstasy and, as in the old Celtic mysteries, lift oneself up into the spiritual world in some way, but certainly in ecstasy. Yet when the days are shortest, when the sun's rays are least powerful and the winter night the darkest, around Christmas therefore, the opportunity exists also to win through to the spiritual worlds in our innermost soul life. All who have known of the cycle of the year have always maintained, quite rightly, that those who have the gift for it are able to enter into the most intimate aspect of our connection with the spiritual worlds during the time from the 21st, the 23rd of December to about the 6th of January — during those days and particularly the nights. There are legends — the Legend of Olaf Asteson has been read to you here — which tell of people having their most profound Inspirations during those days. 26See also Rudolf Steiner, ‘Welten-Neujahr — Das Traumlied von Olaf Asteson’, Dornach 31 December 1914, in Der Zusammenhang des Menschen mit der elementarischen Welt (GA 158). In English as extract ‘World New Year’ in Anthroposophical News Sheet 14: 1, 2. This, again, is connected with the celebration of Christmas at that time, of the birth of the spirit who went through the Mystery of Golgotha and is connected with the innermost powers in human soul development. So, if the Inspiration of pagan Rome of old was to be resurrected one sun cycle later, 2,160 years later, it had to come in through the aspect of man that is most utterly childlike. This means that the soul of Joan of Arc had to be taken hold of at the point where souls are taken hold of most profoundly, where they are weakest in relation to earthly things, and where the Christ impulse is not yet hampered by worldly impressions — the souls not yet having taken up the earthly element, so that the Christ impulse can be the only one to enter into the soul sphere. The most favourable timing for this would have been for the Maid of Orleans to have gone through the time of the Thirteen Nights in her mother's womb immediately before her birth, before she took her first breath. And, indeed, she did — for she was born on the 6th of January.
Here we perceive the more profound forces at work which enter into the physical world from the spiritual worlds. We see how they find the channels they need, deeply mysterious channels. There can be nothing more marvellous for someone with insight into such things, nothing more open to explanation through spiritual science, than this fact that the Maid of Orleans took her first breath on earth in the time around Christmas, on the 6th of January, with the days of Christmas immediately preceding her entry on to the physical plane. We see how the girl who was to go through death at the age of 19 was taken hold of at the point where the most subtle of human powers lie, and we are therefore looking into a time when it was necessary for the divine spiritual powers to find a channel through the inmost inwardness of the human soul. That, however, was the last time when such a thing was to be. It was the time when a particular order was brought into Europe through the Christ impulse, as I indicated to you the last time, and this happened in the wonderful way in which it did happen through Joan of Arc. Since then, however, times have changed. Today is not the time when divine spiritual powers approach the human soul in such intimate fashion.
What was the mission of Joan of Arc, really, if we consider something that was present throughout her whole life? She was taken hold of from within by the forces of the divine spiritual world. In her soul these forces encountered the Luciferic forces. These Luciferic forces were mighty and powerful at that time. Joan of Arc bore something within her that made her vanquish the Luciferic forces. She vanquished the Luciferic forces, that is entirely obvious to anyone who wants to see. We have briefly considered the miracle of her birth and seen that she went through an unconscious initiation, in a way, up to Epiphany, the day known as that of the manifestation of Christ. But we can also point to her death which occurred because all the Luciferic forces of her enemies joined together to bring about her death. Her misadventure in a battle was brought about through the jealousy of the men who were the official leaders, appointed to guide the battle. All the jealousy then came to the fore over the manifestations of spiritual forces and spiritual powers that were made through her. She was put on trial. The records of the trial still exist and anyone studying them can see—unless of course his mind is as closed as that of Anatole France — that this Maid of Orleans, having come into the physical world in a very special way, through the thirteen nights, also left it in such a way. For it says in the records, so that there is historical proof, that she said that she would indeed die but that after her death the English would meet with a much greater reverse than any they had known before, and that this would happen within the next seven years.
If we take this rightly, in its spiritual sense, it means nothing less than that the soul of Joan of Arc on going through the gate of death was prepared to continue contributing to the work of shaping events after her death, to share in the work whatever her form of existence. And she did so. What the spiritual powers have to bring about will be brought about whatever the external conditions may be. Joan's adversaries were able to bring about her death, to mount the strongest possible attack against her, as it were. They were not able to prevent her mission.
However, the forces of Joan of Arc were only able to work in the subtle way they did during her time. In everything she did the Luciferic forces were ranged against her. We are also having to deal with hostile forces in our time, but these are predominantly Ahrimanic forces, the Ahrimanic forces that have come up with the materialistic age. These are in evidence even in the outer form and fashion of the whole of our age if we turn our attention to the mechanisms, the mechanical element of the age; if we are aware that, fundamentally speaking, we are offering an abode to demons when we produce our mechanical contrivances, surrounding ourselves with a whole world of Ahrimanic demons. It is evident also from other things that Ahrimanic powers are at work everywhere in our age. We need only look back a few years and pay a little attention to the occult substrate to our life on earth and we can see Ahrimanic forces influencing all aspects of our physical life on earth. Not only the kind of demons we create in our machines influence our earth life but also other kinds of Ahrimanic forces. The occultist has to put into words something I have often put into words for one group of friends or another: that, fundamentally speaking, the sad and painful events now happening all over Europe and a large part of the globe have long been in preparation. War has been present for a long time, as it were, in the astral world but was held back by something that was also astral: by the fear everybody was feeling. Fear is an astral element; it was able to hold the war back, to prevent it; fear was able to stop war from breaking out for all that time.
For fear was abroad everywhere. Fear is altogether something that is most dreadfully widespread in the depths of our souls in the present age. A time came, however, when there was an external indication in time of something often referred to when the starting points of this war are discussed. This outer aspect is not the one that matters, however, it is merely a symbol. As I said on a previous occasion, the assassination of the Austrian Archduke occurred and there emerged the event, so terrible to the soul, that I have already referred to. I had never before known anything like this, not from personal experience nor through other occultists. We know what the soul goes through when it has undergone death. In the case of the soul that went through death at that time something very specific showed itself. All the elements of fear began to gather around it, as though around a focal point, and something of a cosmic power could now be perceived in it. We know already that anything that has a specific character on the physical plane will have the opposite character in the spiritual world. This also held true in the present case. An element that first had had a dispersive effect where war was concerned was now acting in the opposite way, as a spur, an incitement, to war. So we see that a metamorphosis, as it were, of the elements of fear, of the Ahrimanic elements, became mixed up with all the things that finally led to the sad and painful events of the present time. Ahrimanic elements are indeed at work everywhere in our time. We must not rebel against this, nor should we aim to protect ourselves against it. We have to see it as something that is necessary in our time, something that has to be present in our time. The question is: How do we find the right attitude to this? How do we find the one thing that will show us what should be our attitude now, in the present age, if we want to make it possible for divine spiritual forces and powers to enter into our actions?
Here I must refer to an event in the spiritual world that happened a few decades ago. I have mentioned this on a number of occasions, in all kinds of different contexts. It is an event that occurred behind the scenes of our existence, in the spiritual world, in or about November 1879. 27See, above all, Rudolf Steiner's lectures on 18 and 20 May 1913 in Vorstufen zum Mysterium von Golgotha (GA 152). In English, Michaelmas — The Festivals and Their Meaning (London) Anthroposophical Publishing Co. 1957. Lecture of 18 May also as typescript translation Z 136, ‘The Michael Impulse and the Mystery of Golgotha’ in Rudolf Steiner Library, London. We know that there is a different regent of earth life for every epoch, as it were; one regent follows another. Until 1879 the spirit acting out of the spiritual world was the one we call the spirit Gabriel, if a name is to be used. From 1879 onwards it was the spirit we call Michael. It is Michael who directs events in our time. Anyone able to see into the spiritual worlds in conscious awareness will feel the spirit Michael to be the spirit who truly is the one to lead and govern in our time. Michael is in a way the most Powerful of the leading spirits of the age that follow one another. In a way, I said, he is the most powerful of these spirits. The others have been predominantly active in the spirit sphere. Michael had the strength to push the spirit right through into the physical world. He was the spirit who descended to earth ahead of the Christ, as it were, before the Mystery of Golgotha approached, and governed world affairs for four or five centuries at that time. Now in our time he is again the leading spirit on earth. We may make a comparison by saying that Michael is among the spirits belonging to the hierarchy of the Archangeloi as gold is among the metals. Whilst all other metals act predominantly on the ether body, gold also acts as a medicine for the physical body. In the same way all the other leading spirits act on the soul whilst it is Michael who at the same time is able to act on the physical intellect, on physical reason. Now that his age has come it is possible to act out of the spirit on the physical intellect, on physical reason. In the 15th century he was not the actual leader and therefore had to find a way in the case of Joan without making use of the human intellect, human understanding, human ability to form ideas; a way that was wholly an inner one, as it were, through the innermost powers of the human soul. The Christ influenced Joan of Arc through his Michaelic spirit, but he achieved what had to be done by any other means rather than the forces of the intellect and of reason.
Luciferic spirits are also present today. and these prefer to attack man from within. They want to generate all kinds of passions, but not the error of the intellect, the error of common reason that we have to struggle with in our present age. We therefore have to say that anything we wish to achieve in the spiritual sphere must be achieved in such a way that it is in accord with the forces that Michael, the leading spirit of the age, commands. We are in close alliance with Michael when we try to grasp what we have been attempting to grasp these last few days, when we try and grasp things as phenomena, to grasp what we call the German folk spirit. Two powers: Michael and the German folk spirit. These two are entirely in harmony, and it is their mission to bring the Christ impulse to expression specifically in our time, in accord with the character of our time. For it would be wrong for the people of our time to think that the same inward way of working that was appropriate to the 15th century could still be appropriate now that we are in the fifth post-Atlantean era. In the present age it is a matter above all of understanding that it is necessary to be chained to Ahriman, to Ahrimanic elements we ourselves create in our machines, and that it is necessary to recognize clearly how these things are connected. Otherwise we live in fear of many of the things that exist in the present age.
The question therefore arises: How do we offer resistance to this Ahrimanic element in our age, the way resistance was offered to the Luciferic element at the time of Joan of Arc? We offer resistance to the Ahrimanic element by taking exactly the path that has been so emphatically pointed out over and over again within our stream of spiritual science—the path towards a spiritualization of human culture, of man's ability to form ideas and concepts. This is why it has been stressed again and again that there is a way in which everything spiritual science can give us, even if to begin with it is largely presented to us from the spiritual world, can truly and wholly and utterly be grasped with the intellect, the reason man has been gifted with from the 16th century to this day. And if we say we do not understand, then that is only because we listen to the prejudices current in the materialism of our age. We must stop listening ever and again to the voice of present-day materialism, a voice that speaks loudly at times and then again in the faintest of whispers. Instead we must try and firmly focus our mind on such powers of understanding as we have. Then the things spiritual science produces for us will one day appear to be perfectly understandable, as something that can be understood just as well as some event or other in the outside world can be understood. We generate the great strength we need to offer resistance to the Ahrimanic forces by approaching the spirit not merely through the inmost powers of revelation and of faith, as in the case of Joan of Arc, but by trying to concentrate our powers of understanding most intensely on what spiritual science has to give. If we do this, the hour, the moment, will come when we have to say to ourselves: What comes to us out of spiritual science is the only thing that is rational and at the same time makes the world around us understandable, filling it with light. And when we are taken hold of in this way we are taken hold of by what the spirit has to give in our time so that we shall indeed be strong enough to face the Ahrimanic forces.
Someone with a disposition like that of Joan of Arc would not be able to achieve anything in our day and age. She would be an interesting personality and would be able to reveal many marvellous things through prophesy and in other ways. Such a person capable of making intimate revelations is capable of effectively countering Luciferic forces. Today, however, man has to resist Ahrimanic forces, has to make himself strong to cope with these forces, developing the strength required in the Michaelic age. Sun-like qualities are called for in the age of Michael, qualities we take into ourselves by spiritualizing the powers we have at our command between waking up and going to sleep: the powers of the intellect, of understanding, of insight. For these powers of understanding we possess will undergo a transformation in the soul if only we have sufficient patience. They are transformed to such effect that out of what emerges for us in spiritual science there arises the certainty that what we are grasping there is the direct expression of the thoughts of the spiritual world. So there can be no question today of withdrawing from the outside world which has Ahrimanic forces in it everywhere. No, it is necessary for us to stand in this world but at the same time also make ourselves strong to meet those Ahrimanic forces.
It is a matter therefore of finding the way towards understanding the spiritual world with the very same powers we also use to understand the outside world. That, of course, is the way — as we have said on these few occasions—that is inwardly bound up with the whole mission of the German people, and specifically with this mission as it has been from the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. This mission was in preparation during the preceding centuries. This is what is so remarkable — what has been going on in the intellectual life of Germany, through its poets, its artists and philosophers, is intimately bound up with the spiritual life. Here it really is a matter of boldly looking the facts in the face, without sympathy or antipathy, and seeing how they were first in preparation and gradually took shape. We have ourselves had the experience of simply having to stress one day that there is this necessity to be active in the life of the intellect and spirit as it continues to progress. Why should that be so?
Let us try
and take a look at the theosophical movement we had
external links with for a time, the theosophical movement
in England. Try and build a bridge for yourselves between
the general intellectual life in England, including the
field of philosophy, and English theosophy. Externally
they stand side by side, are two streams running side by
side, and a bridge between the two is something we can
only make in a very external way. Try on the other hand
and consider the life of the mind and spirit that had its
preparatory stages in the German mystics Meister Eckhart
and Johannes Tauler, and then evolved further through
Jakob Boehme and Angelus Silesius.
28Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–c.1327).
Johannes Tauler (c.1300 –c.1361).
Jakob Boehme (1575 –1624).
Angelus Silesius (Johannes Scheffler) (1624–1677). Concerning the above mystics, see Rudolf Steiner: Die Mystik im Aufgange des neuzeitlichen Geisteslebens und ihr Verhältnis zur modernen Weltanschauung (GA 7). In English as Eleven European Mystics (tr. K. Zimmer) (New York) Rudolf Steiner Publications 1971. In Lessing 21Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlecthtes (1780) paragraph 98:
‘Why should I not return as often as I am sent to gain new knowledge, new skills? Do I carry off so much at one go that it is not worth the effort to return?’ it brought acceptance of the idea of repeated earth lives, and in Goethe's Faust an out-and-out glorification of the ascent to the spiritual worlds.
There you have the straight route from the outer worlds to the spiritual world. If you then also include the stream that led from Goethe's Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Fair Lily 29Rudolf Steiner: Goethes Geistesart in ihrer Offenbarung durch semen Faust und durch das Marchen von der Schlange und der Lille (GA 22). In English as The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethes World Conception (tr.O.D. Wannamaker) (New York & London) Anthroposophic Press and Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1940. to the dramatization of the basic forces of initiation 30Rudolf Steiner, ‘Die Pforte der Einweihung’ in Vier Mysteriendramen (GA 14). In English as ‘The Portal of Initiation’, in the Mystery Plays/Dramas tr. A. Bittleston/R. and H. Pusch. and take the two streams together, you will have the inner connection. There is an inner connection between that which finally makes its appearance as spiritual science and that which is striven for quite exoterically in the intellectual life of the physical world. The life of the mind and spirit which unfolds outside of spiritual science is of course striven for with the powers of the intellect, but it is compelled to move in the direction of what is found outside the body. I should like to put it like this: It is the mission of the German people that they cannot do anything else but let the river of all their endeavours finally enter into spiritual life. In spiritual terms that really means that the German people are called to unite inwardly with the element that comes into the world because Michael is the leader. Such a union is not achieved by passively, fatalistically, allowing oneself to be governed by the powers of destiny. It is achieved by recognizing the challenge of the time.
What I am trying to show has been revealed not only inwardly, in the evolution of German mysticism, but also outwardly in the whole way German life has developed within the context of European life. In the first of the last two public lectures I have given, ‘The Germanic Soul and the German Intellect’, I discussed the way the soul quality of the Germanic tribes flowed into the peoples of the West and the South, as it were, through those who became the outposts of those tribes, the Goths, Lombards, Vandals. The Germanic soul element was sacrificed on the altar of mankind. Later this was to repeat itself, though less obviously so. Consider first of all the most eastern part of Austria 31Rudolf Steiner was referring to the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Transylvania (Siebenbuergen) is now part of one of the successor states — Rumania (translator). and the people known as the Transylvanian Saxons. They had emigrated from the Rhine, from the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains), and there is external evidence to prove this. As time went on they lost their special characteristics. The soul substance gave itself up, to merge into that of the other nation, and little will be left of them one day except for some elements from their language; it was as folk substance that they flowed into the other nation. Now let us move on south to the Banat. 32The Banat lies just south-west of Transylvania and north of the Danube, in Yugoslavia and Rumania (translator). Swabian immigrants settled there and the Magyar element overgrew the Swabian element. The same thing has happened in the Carpathian mountains in Hungary. To all appearances these immigrant elements have disappeared today. Yet they are still alive everywhere among the present-day population, sometimes emerging in tiny rivulets, like in the fascinating linguistic enclave of the people of Gottschee in Krain [Carniola]. And elsewhere as well. We see — and it would be possible to purse this a great deal further — how the Germanic soul-element has been sent out into the world, how it has an effect there. This happens out of an inner necessity. It happened like this in earlier ages and particularly also during the age of Gabriel. It happened throughout the age of Gabriel in that the blood — I would say the blood and the mixing of blood — was active, everything which, whilst connected with external circumstances in life, yet cannot be grasped externally, but again takes place at a more inward level.
Now the Michael age has come,the age when we must grasp how, through the whole past development of the life of the mind and intellect, the German spirit is able to take its place within the Sun force of Michael. That we simply have to realize. And it can be realized by giving recognition to spiritual science, by gradually — on the basis of what spiritual science is considering — getting an idea and an awareness of the spiritual powers that are at work, of the reality of spiritual powers. Then we shall gradually come to understand how senseless it is for people to say: ‘There are no spiritual forces, I cannot acknowledge them. And if I have a bar of iron in horseshoe form here, then it is just that, a bar of iron, and I see nothing but iron.’ But there may be magnetic forces within it. And in the same way something else, something quite different from magnetic forces, lies within the whole of the outside world. We come to recognize it if we really consider all that is presented to us as the characteristic form of things. That is the way to achieve the powers of mind needed in the age of Michael to resist the Ahrimanic powers, at a time when it is indeed our duty to withstand the Ahrimanic powers. Fundamentally speaking, everything the study of spiritual science has to offer is merely preparatory. One day an awakening of the soul will spring forth from the study of spiritual science, and the soul will know: Within you lives the spiritual world, from the Christ impulse down through Michael to the folk spirit which puts into effect what has to be put into effect.
I have said that the time of Joan of Arc was one when it was possible to act on the weakest, physically the weakest, powers of man. Our age is one where it is necessary to act on the strongest powers of man, to take hold of the will at a point where it is least inclined truly to unfold its powers. We can see it again and again: the thing people find most difficult to do is to unfold the will at the point where our earthly powers, the powers by which we form concepts, are made inwardly active. To bring ‘will-power’ to bear externally is something people still find relatively easy. But a different kind of ‘will-power’ is needed to guide our thoughts in such a way that they encompass the spiritual world. Spiritual science as such has to appeal to that strong will-power, for this must be there if spiritual science is truly to lead where it ought to lead in our Michaelic age. For we are not called to discuss the mechanical element in our age; we are not called to point out that this mechanical element in our age has laid hold of mankind; we are called to do something else.
Of course, if we squeeze the facts a little it will be possible for us to become a philosopher, to some degree even a great philosopher — this we admit without reserve. It is possible to look at the machines in our age and start to consider this very mechanistic aspect as the most pernicious of all things, ascribing it specifically to our enemies. And one then has the inclination, even if one may be considered a great philosopher, to hurl abuse like a market woman. One can then do the same as the philosopher Bergson 33Henri Bergson (1859–1941). See ‘La Signification de la Guerre’ in Pages Actuelles 1914/15 Paris 1915. who only recently again managed to point out rather one sidedly — and many things tend to be perfectly correct if a one sided view is presented — how the mechanistic effect of the forces relates to the essential nature of the German people. But that is not the only thing we can point to — that German brainpower has achieved things in certain areas by applying mechanical principles — for something else may be pointed out as well. Nor is it necessary to hurl abuse like a market woman when discussing such matters, and instead we may say: Perhaps the very place where the intellect has the greatest powers to give form to the mechanistic and demonic element is also the place where these mechanistic and demonic powers can be overcome on the basis of our particular spiritual mission. Then however, a German may easily get himself misunderstood as he comes to see, in conjunction with the way the intellectual life has developed, that it is not his function to stop at the purely mechanical element that is of such great service to him also in the present day, with the challenges presented by the war. He must not stop at what is merely mechanism, for then he would merely create demons. No, he must develop powerful forces within him that can boldly face these demons. This means that we have to stand in the spiritual world, not blindly but in a way that arises from, and is guided by, conviction. If we set out to acknowledge that we are surrounding ourselves with a world of demons, a veritable hell, as we design and build machine after machine, we can of course understand why people speaking out of the materialistic spirit of the present age are saying over and over again that this scientific and materialistic age has taken us to the greatest height ever achieved by man. Of course we can understand this for it is in line with the materialistic thought of the present time, but we must know that with those machines we are introducing nothing but demons for mankind and we must know how to develop the right powers to resist these demons. We only gain the right attitude to the spiritual world by recognizing these demonic Ahrimanic forces, by knowing full well that they are present. For the harmful powers are harmful only when we remain unconscious of them, when we know nothing about them. Let me illustrate this by means of a comparison.
As you know, we hope after some time to have a building at Dornach near Basle where we can nurture our spiritual stream in suitable surroundings. It is not a question of erecting this building to escape the pressures of our time in some way or other, but rather of building it entirely out of the pressures of our time. It was necessary for instance to design a lighting system out of the most Ahrimanic forces of the present age, electric lighting, electric heating and so on. It is a matter of using the architectural form as such to render such potentially harmful things harmless. It could have been the case that anyone entering the building in the future would have been surrounded with everything the Ahrimanic culture of the present age leads to. The point, however, is not that it is present, but that people do not notice it. We are not suppose to notice it. To achieve this, a number of friends got together and they are erecting a separate building for this, giving it a special form, so that the demonic Ahrimanic forces are banished to this place. Anyone approaching the building, and also anyone entering it, will have it brought to their notice that the Ahrimanic forces are at work there. For as soon as we know this they are no longer harmful. The point is that the powers that have a bad effect on man cease to do so when we take a good look at the places where they are active, when we do not look at a machine thoughtlessly and say ‘a machine is simply a machine’ , but rather acknowledge that a machine is a place where a demonic Ahrimanic entity may be found.
If we take our stand in the world with knowledge in our souls we take the right stand in the Michaelic age. It means that we relate to the spiritual world in such a way that Michael, too, can be active within us; Michael with his present mission, as we have described it. The Point is that in every case we can either enter without thought into what exists in the mechanical contrivances men are producing at an unconscious level or we can see through life. If we see through it, if we become aware of the demonic elemental powers at work in the machines we produce, we shall find the way to the rightful givers of Inspiration who are true to the spirit. They are connected with the spirit who is to the other spirits concerned with guidance of man as gold is to the other metals — with Michael.
My aim today has been to show that the mission of our age is to seek the divine spiritual powers that will work for the good of mankind. It is different from the mission given to the human souls who lived at the time of Joan of Arc. At that time it was much more a question of holding back anything intellectual, holding back the Power of reasoning. Today, however, it is a question of cultivating everything to do with reason and intellect to attain to clairvoyance, for it is possible to cultivate it and attain to clairvoyance. Once there are people who cultivate the human soul in this way, the twilight period we are now living through will evolve into what it destined to evolve. Everything that evolves on the physical plane can only be the outer garment for the spiritual life that is to arise for mankind out of the Present time.
And it is true that those who are now sacrificing their powers in the years of their youth are prepared to send these powers down into our earthly existence. For these powers are never lost, they are indestructible- Now, however, they are destined to continue to act spiritually as they would have continued to act physically if the people concerned had not gone through the gate of death on the field of battle. They will continue to send their powers down to earth and into our time, so that we shall know what to do with these powers. These powers need to stream down into a human race that shall use them in such a way, during the time of peace that will follow the war, that spiritual life spreads more and more on earth. As the light of day always arises from the night, so a future filled with light will have to arise out of our present which so often seems like a dark night to us. This future will have to be filled not only with light but with everything the Michaelic age, which started in 1871, has to bring for mankind. Once there are souls capable of establishing as intimate a bond with the spiritual world as has been indicated today, we shall be able to hope that where the events of the present time are concerned, the thought expressed in the seven lines of the mantram will come to fruition. We may hope that it will all be fulfilled — if the first five lines are really and truly connected with the last two:
Out of courage shown in battle,
Out of the blood shed in war,
Out of the grief of those who are left,
Out of the people's deeds of sacrifice
Spirit fruits will come to grow
If souls with knowledge of the spirit
Turn their mind to spirit realms.