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The Easter Festival in Relation to the Mysteries
GA 233a

III. The Moon-Secret. Spring and Autumn Mysteries

Dornach, 21st April, 1924

Continuing our subject of the last two lectures, I shall now indicate the astronomical aspect of the Easter Festival. To this end it will be first be necessary to touch upon some of the facts relating to the so-called secret of the Moon.

In all ages, wherever there was knowledge of the Mystery Wisdom, men spoke of the secret of the Moon which was connected with the being of man, inasmuch as man himself, in his full nature, is connected with the whole Cosmos, just as he is connected, with respect to his physical body, with the Earth. Now with the epoch of materialism it has come about that of these far spaces of the Cosmos whose spiritual life is expressed in the forms of the constellations and in the movements of the wandering stars, nothing at all has remained in human consciousness save the external appearance of the stars, the calculation of their movements if they are planets, and so forth.

To study these things in the way of modern astronomy is just as though one were to consider the outer measurements and proportions and conditions of movement of the human body in complete unconsciousness of the fact that a soul-and-spirit permeates this physical body. It is just as though one were to forget that in the proportions and movements of this body a soul-and-spirit comes to expression.

Now in the human being a single soul-and-spirit gathered together in an Ego makes its appearance. But in the organism of the universe, spiritually seen and considered, it is not a single soul-and-spirit that comes to expression, but a multiplicity. It is an immeasurable, infinite multiplicity of spiritual beings who express themselves in the forms of the constellations, in the movements of the planets, in the radiating light of the stars, and so forth.

All the multitude of spiritual beings who live in the stars are connected with the human being's inner life, just as the substances of the Earth environment available for human nourishment are connected with the physical man on Earth. And the first and nearest relationship of man to the great universe has to do with what we may call the secret of the Moon.

Outwardly regarded, the Moon appears from the earthly aspect in constant metamorphosis. At the present moment we see the full disc of the Moon shining brightly. Then we see it differently and have to assume that it is partially illumined, half illumined, quarter illumined, and so on. Moreover there is that appearance of the Moon when it withdraws entirely from our external vision, the time we call the New Moon, and at length we have again the return to the Full Moon.

Nowadays all this is explained as though the Moon were some material body moving out there in cosmic space, illumined in various directions by the Sun and thus showing itself to our vision in varying shapes and forms. But this by no means exhausts what the Moon is for the Earth and notably for humanity on Earth. For the Moon especially we must clearly understand the following. — When we look at something that represents itself to us so evidently in physical surfaces as the Full Moon, showing us a physical aspect, we see something altogether different in its appearance from what it is when it reveals itself as the New Moon. The New Moon, through all the cosmic relationships in which it stands, cannot reveal itself directly. We must now, however, imagine that in its influence the Moon is absent when it does not reveal itself as an outward phenomenon. At the times when through the whole world-relationships we become conscious of the appearance of the New Moon — at these times the Moon is present invisibly and for this very reason is present in a more spiritual way than when it appears to us in the physical light as the Full Moon. Thus the Moon is present, now in a fully physical way and now again in a fully spiritual way. We have indeed the perpetual rhythmic alternation between the physical manifestation and the spiritual manifestation of the Moon.

To understand what this really means we must look back to the event which is described, for instance, in my book, Occult Science. The Moon was once within the Earth; it belonged to the Earth body. It went forth from the Earth body and became a satellite as we say, or accompanying planet of the Earth. It split off from the Earth and circles around the Earth.

Now in the time when it was united with the Earth it influenced the human being from the Earth. Man was of course a very different being when he stood and evolved on an Earth which still had the Moon within its body. The Earth was impoverished by all that the Moon contains when the Moon went forth from it; and now from beneath, man is shaped and held fast by other forces, namely, by the Earth forces alone, no longer by the Earth-and-Moon forces together. On the other hand that which worked upon him from the Earth, from within outward when the Moon was still within the Earth, now works upon him from without inward, namely from the Moon.

Thus we may say: The Moon forces once rayed through the human being, impinging first upon his limbs, upon his feet and legs and then streaming through him from below upwards. But since the Moon has left the Earth, the Moon forces work on him inversely, from the head downwards. And as a result the Moon forces now have a quite different task for man than they had before. How does this manifest itself? It manifests itself as follows. When man descends from the pre-earthly into this earthly life he undergoes certain definite experiences. He has passed through the time between death and a new birth. He has absolved, so far as his soul-and-spirit is concerned, all that must be absolved between death and a new birth, and now he prepares to descend to Earth to unite with the physical bodily nature that is given to him by the father and the mother. Yet before he can find the possibility for his Ego and astral body to unite with the physical, he must first clothe himself in an etheric body which he draws into him from the surrounding Cosmos.

It is this process which has changed fundamentally since the time when the Moon left the Earth. Before the departure of the Moon, when man had absolved the life between death and a new birth and was approaching the Earth once more, he needed certain forces with which to attract and incorporate in the form of an etheric body around the Ego and astral body, the ether which is scattered through the whole universe. These forces which he received as he approached this earthly life, he received from the Moon which was then within the Earth. Since the Moon left the Earth man has received the forces which he needs to build his etheric body from outside the Earth, namely from the Moon which is now split off. Thus immediately before his entry into the earthly life man must have recourse to what lies inherent in the Moon forces, that is to say, to a cosmic principle, in order to build his etheric body.

Now this etheric body must be built in such a way that it has, so to speak, an outer and an inner aspect. When man forms the outer aspect of this etheric body he needs the forces of the light, for along with other substances the etheric body is created above all out of the flowing light of the Cosmos. But Sunlight is useless for this purpose; Sunlight can provide no forces enabling the human body to form his etheric body. For this, the light shining from the Sun to the Moon and raying back again from the Moon is needed. And by this process of reflection the Sunlight is essentially transformed. In effect, all the light that rays forth from the Moon into the Cosmos contains the force whereby man as he descends is enabled to form the outer aspect of his etheric body. On the other hand all that rays forth spiritually from the Moon when it is a New Moon, all this rays out into the Cosmos the forces which man needs to form the inner aspect of his etheric body. This rhythm, therefore, of the external shining of the Moon and of its darkening enables man to form the outer and the inner side of his etheric body.

Now what the Moon forces thus do for man essentially depends upon the fact that the Moon is not the mere physical body of which modern science tells its tales, but is permeated everywhere by spirituality. The Moon itself in fact contains a multitude of spiritual beings.

I have often explained how these things are. The Moon once separated from the Earth. But it was not only physical matter that went forth into cosmic space. There were also those Beings who lived in ancient time upon the Earth, not in a physical body but in a spiritual form, the Beings who were the primeval Teachers of mankind. These too journeyed forth with the Moon into the Cosmos and there founded a kind of lunar colony. Thus we must distinguish in the Moon the physical and etheric from the soul-and-spirit, only that the soul-and-spirit is not a unity but a multiplicity of Beings.

Now all the spiritual life in the Moon depends upon the way in which the Beings who inhabit it look out into the universe around. If I may express myself pictorially I would say: the spiritual Beings of the Moon turn their gaze to begin with on what for them is most important, namely, upon the wandering stars that belong to our planetary system. And all that happens on the Moon — including all that happens in order that man may properly receive the forces he needs to build up his etheric body — all this depends on the results of observation arrived at by the Beings in the Moon who, living as it were within the Moon, look out and observe around them the stars of our planetary system, Mercury, Sun, and so forth.

Knowledge of this was contained in certain ancient Mysteries. They knew that constellations, relationships and movements of the planetary system belonging to our Earth were observed from the Moon and that the deeds of the Moon Beings were determined accordingly. They not only knew, but they expressed the fact; for they brought these Moon forces into the consciousness of mankind in relation to the forces of the other planets, taking the Moon, as it were, as the point whence the cosmic relationships connected with the forming of the human etheric body are determined. They did so in the days of the week: Moon — Monday. The Moon in its observation has to do with Mars — Mars day — Tuesday; with Mercury — Mercury day, Mercredi, Wednesday; with Jupiter — Jupiter is the Germanic Thor or Donar — Thursday. Then again with Venus, the Germanic Freya — Friday; and with Saturn Saturday, and at length with the Sun itself. The Sun cannot influence the forming of the etheric body with its own forces directly, but in the reflection from the Moon it plays its part — Sunday.

Thus the facts related to the standpoint of the Moon were taken as the starting-point in bringing home the planetary system to the consciousness of man in the division of time. It was as though they meant to say in the ancient Mysteries: “Oh Man, remember that before you came down to the Earth you had need of the forces which are fashioned on the Moon when the Moon Beings look out upon the other Beings of the Planetary system. You owe to what the Moon receives from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday . . . the peculiar configuration which your etheric body can assume when descending into this earthly life.”

Thus we have on the one hand the rhythmic course of the Moon around our Earth through light and darkness, and on the other hand we have recorded in the consciousness of man the whole succession of the planets. And the Mysteries also proclaimed the knowledge that through the fact of the Moon Beings turning their gaze to Mars man receives the faculty of speech incorporated into his etheric body. Through the fact that the Moon Beings can turn their gaze to Mercury, man can receive the faculty of movement concentrated into his etheric body.

To speak for a moment in terms of these Moon secrets, we may express in quite a different form how Eurythmy arises out of speech. We may say, Eurythmy is born from speech, when having discovered the mysteries of speech by letting the Moon Beings tell us the observations that they make when they gaze on Mars, we hear from them how these observations change when they now turn their gaze to Mercury. That is to say, when we transform the Mars experiences of the Moon Beings into their Mercury experiences we receive from the faculty of spoken sound in man the faculty of Eurythmy. This is the cosmic aspect of it.

Then we come to that which permeates the human being with the faculty of wisdom. This we receive through the experiences of the Moon Beings with Jupiter. And that which flows through the human being by way of love and beauty in his soul, this we receive through the experiences of the Moon Beings with Venus. And what they experience by observing Saturn instils into the etheric body the inner warmth of soul which man requires. And at length we come to something that must be warded off as it were, which must be held aloof lest it should disturb and mar the forming of the etheric body. It is that which proceeds directly from the Sun before man's descent to Earth. Thus from the Sun — or the beholding of the Sun — proceed the forces from which the human being must be protected so that he may become a human being self-contained through the incorporation of the etheric body.

Thus we learn to recognise what happens on the Moon and by this we also learn to recognise how the human etheric body is formed when man descends from the pre-earthly into this earthly life. These are the things that relate to the secret of the Moon.

Such things as these can be told today; but in certain ancient Mysteries they were not merely told, they were consciously experienced. Men did not merely know these things; they inwardly discovered them.

  Tuesday:   Speech
  Wednesday: Movement
  Thursday:  Wisdom
  Friday:    Love, Beauty
  Saturday:  Inner warmth of soul
  Sunday:    Protecting forces (reflected from the Moon)

By Initiation into the Mysteries of which I told you yesterday, man could get beyond the mere looking outward through the eyes or listening outward through the ears, to see and hear the physical earthly environment. He could free himself from his physical body and live in his etheric body. He could hold himself apart from the physical body and live in the etheric body only. And when he thus lived in the etheric body he lived with all the things of which I have just spoken, he lived not with the speech that is formed through the physical larynx but with the speech that resounds in Mars as cosmic speech. He moved in the way that Mercury guides the movements in the Cosmos; he moved not with the physical feet and legs but in the sense in which Mercury guides the movements of the human being. Nor did he have the wisdom that is acquired with such pains in childhood and adolescence, a wisdom which in this materialistic age is, to speak truly, an unwisdom. He lived directly within the wisdom of Jupiter; he lived in the wisdom of Jupiter because he could unite with the Moon Beings who observed Jupiter. When he was initiated in this way man was altogether within the Moon-radiating light. He had left the Earth. He was not a being of flesh and blood on Earth, he had gone away from the Earth and lived as a being in the Moon light. But this Moon light was configurated, differentiated, modified by what lived in the other planets of our planetary system.

At the time of spiritual observations in such Mysteries man did indeed become a light being of the Moon. I do not mean it in a symbolic sense or conceived abstractly, but just as the ordinary man of today, if he has gone to Basle and come back again, is conscious of the reality of it, he knows he has experienced something quite real — so was man conscious of a reality when through the Initiation rite he had paid his visit to the Moon Beings. He knew that he had taken leave of his physical body for a while. With his soul and spirit he had gone out into the light-radiating spheres of the Moon Beings, clothed in a light body, and through his unison with the Moon Beings he had looked out into the far planetary spaces, he had really been able to observe all that could be revealed to him in the far spaces of the planetary system.

And what did he see? This in the main — all the other things he observed too, but this he observed above all — he saw that from the Sun there come the forces of Beings who may have nothing to do with the form of the etheric body of man. He looked up to the Sun as to something that had a dissolving, destructive effect for the etheric body. By this experience he knew that the forces which were received by the Sun Beings must take their start not from the etheric body but from the higher members of man's nature, from the Ego and the astral body. The Sun forces must be allowed to work only upon these higher members. Thus he knew that for the human etheric body he cannot turn to the Sun, for the etheric body he must turn to the planets.

It is for the astral body and especially for the human Ego that he will turn to the Sun. He knew that for the full inner force of the Ego, of the “I am”, he must go to the Sun. This was the second great experience in the Initiation that took its start from the Moon Mystery. This was the second thing. Man learned that for the etheric body he belongs to the planetary system, whereas for the inner force and permeation of his Ego above all and of his astral body, he must look up to the Sun. Such indeed was this initiation. Man himself became one with the Moonlight. But through the Moonlight life of his own being he gazed into the Sun. And now he said to himself: The Sun sends its light to the Moon because he may not give it to man directly. Thence we have the Moonlight in unison with the planetary forces and from these we build up our etheric body.

This secret was known to him who was thus initiated. And so he knew to what extent he bore within him the force of the spiritual Sun, for he had seen it in his vision. He had gained a consciousness of how he bore the spiritual forces of the Sun within him, and this in effect was the degree of Initiation whereby man became a Christ-Bearer, that is to say, a bearer of the Sun Being, not a receiver of the Sun Being, but a bearer of the Sun Being. Just as the Moon itself when it is Full Moon is a bearer of Sunlight, so man became a bearer of the Christ, a Christophoros.

This initiation whereby a man became Christophoros was an absolutely real experience.

And now imagine this real experience whereby man sped away from the Earth and rose to the Light-Being as earthly man upon the way of Initiation — imagine this inner human Easter experience of former times transformed into a cosmic Festival. In later times men no longer knew that such a thing could happen. They no longer knew that man can really go forth from the earthly realm, unite himself with the Moon nature and from the Moon behold the Sun. But a certain remembrance of it had been preserved. This remembrance in effect was preserved in the Easter Festival.

For the real way in which man can experience these things was not transmitted to the later, increasingly materialistic consciousness. In abstract idea however it was transmitted. Man no longer looked into himself and said: “I can unite myself with the Moonlight”, but he looked up to the Moon, to the Full Moon. Gazing upward to the Full Moon he said, not “I myself can evolve up yonder”, but “The Earth strives yonder”. When does it do so most of all? It is when the Springtime begins, when the forces that were hitherto with the seeds, with the plants within the Earth, stream forth from the surface of the Earth. On Earth they become plants, but they go further. They stream outward into the far spaces of the Cosmos.

In the ancient Mysteries they used this image: When the forces of the Earth bear outward through stem and leaf of plant that which is raying forth from the Earth into the Cosmos, then man can most easily attain the Moon-Sun Initiation and become Christophoros. For then, as it were, he can float upward to the Moon — borne upward by the forces that in Springtime ray forth from Earth to Moon. Only he must enter into the Full Moonlight.

All this afterwards became a remembrance but it grew abstract — “he must enter into the Full Moonlight”. Subconsciously therefore, no longer with the clear knowledge that this could become a human experience, it was conceived that something or other, not man himself, goes out towards the Full Moon, the first Full Moon after the beginning of Springtime. And what can this Full Moon of Springtime do? It looks out towards the Sun, that is to say it looks towards the first Sun-consecrated day, towards the first Sunday that follows after it. As in former times the Christophoros from his Moon standpoint looked out and gazed upon the Being of the Sun, so now the Moon looks to the Sun, that is to say, to its symbolisation in the Sunday.

Thus we have first the beginning of Spring, the 21st of March. The forces of the Earth are sprouting forth into the universe.

But we must await the coming of the right observer, namely, the Full Moon.

21st March — Full Moon — Sun day.

And what does the Full Moon observe? He observes the Sun. We await the first Sun-day after the Full Moon and that is Easter Sunday. Thus all that is left of a real process of the Mysteries which many human beings often underwent in ancient Mysteries — all that has remained is an abstract fixation of time.

And so it is indeed with this Easter Festival. Our present spiritual Festival of Easter represents an event in the Mysteries which was indeed everywhere enacted in the Springtime. But this is a different Mystery from the one I described the day before yesterday. The event in the Mysteries which I described the day before yesterday led the human being to understand the fact of death. I told you of how the idea of resurrection was brought home to man by such festivals as the Adonis Festival in Autumn time. It really led the human being into the experience of death and into the resurrection in the Spirit after about three days. This event of resurrection truly belongs to the Autumn time for the reasons which I explained in that lecture.

The process which I have described today is a different one. It was celebrated or enacted in other Mysteries for certain Initiations, namely for the Sun and Moon Initiation. And this later process confronted the human being with the beginning of his life.

Thus we look back to ancient times when the descent of man from pre-earthly life into this earthly life was recognised in certain Mysteries, while the ascent, the resurrection in the Spirit, was recognised in other Mysteries, namely in the Autumn Mysteries.

In later days man was no longer able to penetrate the living reality of this his relationship to the Spiritual in the Cosmos. And at length things went so far that the Autumn Mysteries of resurrection were simply superimposed on the Springtime Mystery of the descent. The confusion that thus arose in the course of human evolution shows how deeply materialism worked in the course of time. For it not only created false opinions but brought mankind into real confusion with regard to those things which, if I may put it so, were once in sacred, holy order in the course of human earthly life. Once upon a time there was a sacred order in these things. As Autumn came near, mankind celebrated a Cosmic Festival, a Festival which pointed to a real process of the Mysteries. Nature, they said, is fading and dying away, Nature is laid waste. It is like the gradual death of man as to his physical life. But whereas when we look at Nature we see only the transitory at work in her, in men there lives the Eternal which we must now behold apart from what takes place in outer Nature, for we must behold it in the spirit as that which is resurrected after death in the spiritual world.

And through the Mysteries of springtime it was made clear to man that Nature herself is overcome by the Spiritual; the spiritual works in again from the Cosmos, the Physical springs and sprouts forth from the Earth, because it is impelled by the Spiritual. This however was to lead man to remember, not how they passed through death into the Spiritual, but how they have come hither and descended out of the Spiritual. Just when Nature is springing and ascending, man was to remember his descent into the Physical; and again when Nature is declining man was to remember his ascent, his resurrection in the Spiritual. And indeed it infinitely deepened the life of the soul thus to experience how man is related to the Cosmos.

These things varied according to the different regions of the Earth. In ancient times there were indeed some peoples who were more Autumn peoples, and others who were more Springtime peoples. Within the Autumn peoples there were the Mysteries of Adonis, while in the Springtime peoples there were other Mysteries related to what I have described today. And only those seekers after knowledge of whom it is truly related how they journeyed from place to place, from one Mystery to another, like Pythagoras, only they underwent the real totality of human experience. From a place of the Mysteries where they could behold the Autumn secret which is the real secret of the Sun, they wandered to another place where they could behold the Springtime secret, that is the secret of the Moon. Hence of the greatest Initiates of ancient times it is again and again related how they wandered from one place to another of the Mysteries. And we may truly say that those old Initiates in a certain sense experienced the year in their inner life, the year with its sacred Festivities. An old Initiate might say: “When I come to such and such a place where Adonis Festivals are celebrated, I behold the cosmic Autumn, the shining of the spiritual Sun in the beginning of the night of Winter.” And as he came to another place where the Springtime Mysteries were celebrated, he would say: “Now I shall witness the secret of the Moon.” Thus in his inner life he learned to know that which determines the whole meaning of the year.

So you see our Easter Festival has in fact been burdened with things with which it ought not properly to have been burdened. It ought really to be a Festival of the “laying in the grave”, and as was the case in such festivals in relation to the spiritual part of man, so this Springtime Festival of the laying in the grave should at the same time be a Festival to stir man to work, a Festival such as a man of more strong and pristine impulses needs for the Summer season. The Easter Festival was indeed a Festival to summon man to work during the Summer. And the Autumn Resurrection Festival was for the spiritual world a Festival celebrated in the time when man departed from his work once more. But as he departed from his work he was to experience in his inmost being that which is most important for his soul and spirit. He was to become conscious of his eternal being as he gazed upon the resurrection in the spiritual world three days after death.

Passing thus from earthly secrets to cosmic secrets, from earthly knowledge to cosmic knowledge, we may indeed recognise what I may call the inner structure in the order of our festivals throughout the year. But there are still many secrets that were hidden in these Mysteries which have disappeared.

Tomorrow, as far as possible, I shall try to deepen these things still further, referring more nearly to certain places of the Mysteries. Thus I shall try to deepen what I explained to you today in our study of the relationships in the Heavens.