2 January 1906, Berlin *
Source for the text.
a) Writing from an unknown hand (the most complete).
b) The typed clean copy of Franz Seiler's shorthand. The original shorthand copy of this was also available and on renewed scrutiny was found to be incomplete and to have been supplemented and restored during the process of typing by Seiler, sometimes with the help of text (a) which apparently stood at his disposal.
c )A very much shortened version by an unknown hand in close textual agreement with (a).
d) A much shortened text with gaps noted by Berta Reebstein.
e) Notes by Marie Steiner von Sivers.
f) Notes from an unknown hand.
The basis used for the printed version was copy (a) with the additional consideration of (b) after comparison with its shorthand copy and other texts.
Places in the text which are deficient in all versions are indicated in the following notes.
May I speak to you today about something which is subject to many misunderstandings and about which many extraordinary errors are spread abroad. Most of you know that I have already spoken 1 In the two lectures 17 and 18 in this volume on 23rd October 1905, to men and women separately. on the same subject on the occasion of our General Meeting this year, and that, at that time, following an ancient occult practice, I spoke separately to men and to women. For specific reasons which could probably become still clearer from the lecture itself, I have departed today from this ancient custom, and, indeed, because the very thing that motivated me both then and now to discuss this matter is connected with the [prospect] that sooner or later — hopefully sooner — this ancient custom will be abandoned altogether.
I said: many misunderstandings have circulated about the subject. I need only mention one fact out of my own life to show you that it really is not exactly easy today to get beyond what are bluntly the bizarre and superstitious notions in existence about it. On the other hand, I need only say how easily, how unbelievably, one can put one's foot in it, when dealing with these extraordinary facts.
May I simply recall an incident in my life. Perhaps you will scarcely credit it, and yet it is true. It is now some seventeen or eighteen years ago 2 Rudolf Steiner here refers to his association with the circle around Marie Eugenie della Grazie in Vienna during the eighties of the last century. See in this connection The Story of My Life. that I was in company with university professors, and some particularly gifted poets. Among the professors, there were also some theologians, from the theological faculty of the university in question. They were Catholics. Now, in this company, the following was said, not without foundation, and in all seriousness, that one of these theologians, a very erudite man, would not go out at night any more, because he believed that the Freemasons would be on the loose. The man in question represented a major department; but he did not tell the story, a colleague did. He went on to relate that while he was in Rome, a number of monks of a particular order — there would have been eleven, twelve or thirteen of them — had vouched on oath for the [truth of the] following event.
In Paris an eminent bishop had preached a sermon in which he had spoken of the terrible danger to the world of the Order of Freemasons. After the sermon a man came to him in the sacristy and said that he was a Freemason and could give the bishop a chance to witness a meeting of the Lodge. The bishop assented, saying to himself: I will, however, take some holy relics with me, so that I am protected. — Then a meeting place was arranged. The man in question led the bishop into the Lodge, where a hiding place was pointed out to him, from which he could observe all that took place. He placed himself in position, held the Holy Relics in front of him and waited for whatever would befall. What he then saw, was related in the following way. I emphasise that some of those in the company thought it all rather doubtful at the time.
The Lodge was then opened. (It bore in reality the name ‘Satan's Lodge’ — though it had quite a different name in the outside world.) Then a remarkable figure appeared. By ancient custom — how he knew this custom, he did not relate — the figure did not walk. (It is indeed well known that spirits do not walk, but glide, so many believe.) This remarkable figure opened the session. The bishop would on no account divulge what happened next — it became too terrible — but he called upon the whole power of the relics and there was a rumbling like thunder through all the rows [of seats], the call resounding: We are betrayed! — and the one who had opened the session disappeared. Briefly, a brilliant victory of episcopal powers over what was to be done, one supposes.
This was discussed as a completely serious matter 3 The occasion for this lay in the discussions prevailing at that time between the Church and Freemasonry concerning the sensational work by Leo Taxil on satanic practices of the Freemasons which had already appeared in 100,000 copies at the time of these discussions. Die Drei-Punkte-Brifder ∴ — see following note. [in the company]. You can see from that, that there arc people today, perhaps gentlemen more erudite than many others, well-known people, who nevertheless take the view that this sort of thing can happen in Freemasonry.
Now what happened was 4 Rudolf Steiner refers here to the now famous
Taxil-Vaughan swindle. Leo Taxil (pseudonym for Gabriel Jogand Pages),
1854–1907, brought up by Jesuits and known since the seventies as
an anti-clerical writer and founder of several free-thinking societies,
became a member of the Paris Lodge: ‘Le Temple de I'Honneur
Francais’ in 1881, but was excluded from it soon afterwards
because he was supposed to have forged letters of ∴ Brother Hugo
and Louis Blanc. In 1885 he staged his repentant return to the Church.
In obedience to the encyclical of Leo XIII of 20th April 1884, Humanum
Genus in which the unmasking of Freemasons as confederates of the Devil
was required, he commenced his main work, Les Freres Trois-Points
(Paris, 1885, German: H. Gruber S.J., Die Drei-Punkte Bruder
Paderborn 1886–87), started his unmasking campaign with other
writings concerned with his fabricated Freemasonry system of
‘Palladism’ and was even called to a private audience with
Leo XIII in 1887. The unparalleled success of Leo Taxil and his two
other accomplices: the German, Karl Hacks (pseudonym, Dr. Bataille;
brother-in-law of. the publisher of the ultramontane Kolnischen
Volkszeitung) and the Italian Domenico Margiotta, in Catholic Church
circles reached its climax when Taxil invented the witness Miss Diana
Vaughan (Miss Diana Vaughan. Memoires d'une Expalladiste. Publication
mensuelle). With the co-operation of the highest Church dignitaries,
Taxil founded an Anti-Freemasonry Union which summoned a first
Anti-Freemasonry Congress in Trient, September 1896. Thirty-six bishops,
fifty episcopal delegates and over seven hundred opponents of the
Lodges, most of them priests, took part in the Congress. The Sovereign
Bishop Cardinal Haller of Salzburg and the leader of the Catholic
nobility in Germany, Prinz Karl zu Lowenstein, chaired the meeting. The
Congress was a public declaration of the revelations of Taxil and Miss
Vaughan, only a few sceptics demanded proof. The first to start
questioning the Taxil affair was the Freemason Gottfried Joseph Findel
who published his Katholischer Schwindel as early as 1896. In
general, however, H. Gruber S.J., who had long been a believer in Taxil,
is credited with being the first to raise doubts about him with his
three volume work: Leo Taxits Palladismus-Roman. This work only
appeared in 1897, however. A.E. Waite, with his Devil-Worship in
France or the Question of Luzifer (London, 1896) is also said
to have this distinction.
>By this time Taxil admitted in a great assembly in Paris, 19th April 1897, that everything was a deliberate swindle on his part and that the Devil Bixtru and his satanic Bride, Miss Vaughan, had never existed. According to the Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei, Taxil's confession came about earlier than was intended ‘because, according to his own admission, he could not carry the mystification any further after the appearance of Findel's work.’ Bibliographical references: Das Papsttum in seiner sozial-kulturellen Wirksamkeit, Graf von Hoensbroech, Leipzig, 1900; Entente-Freimaurerei und Weltkrieg, Karl Heise, Basle, 1920; Entlarvte Freimaurerei, Friedrich Hasselbacher, Berlin, 1939. that in the mid-eighties a French book appeared, which represented the secrets of the Freemasons in a most gruesome way, making them certainly more gruesome than secret. This book particularly revealed how the Freemasons celebrated Black Mass. This book was a ploy by a French journalist called Leo Taxil. He stirred up a lot of dust by bringing in a Miss Vaughan as a witness. The result of all this was that the Church found the Freemasons and their nocturnal intrigues so dangerous that they felt it necessary to found a world society against Freemasonry. A kind of council was held in Trent; although it was not a real council, it was dubbed ‘The Second Council of Trent. It was attended by many bishops and hundreds of priests; a cardinal presided. [The Congress became a major coup for Taxil.] But afterwards rebuttals were published, after which Mr Taxil revealed that the entire contents of his books, including the people mentioned in them, were his own invention.
You see, there are plenty of opportunities for incurring censure over such things. This was one of the worst cases of a body with a world-wide reputation doing so. From it you have to draw at least one conclusion; that hardly anything is really known about the Freemasons. For if something was known about them it would be easy to become informed, and then such rubbish could not gain currency.
Indeed, this or that opinion about Freemasonry predominates in large sections of the public. Today, to be sure, it is not all that difficult to form an opinion, as there is already a tolerably abundant literature, written partly by those who have studied many documents, but in part also containing things which the Freemasons would say had been brought into the open by turncoats. Anyone who concerns himself to any extent with this literature will draw some sort of conclusion from what it deals with. However, one can rule out coming to a correct conclusion from it, since it is still pre-eminently true what Lessing, who was himself a Freemason, said. 5 According to Menckeberg, (G.E. Lessing als Freimaurer, Hamburg, 1880) Lessing, on his enrolment in the Hamburg Lodge on 15th October 1771, was asked by the Worshipful Master, von Rosenberg: ‘Now, you see indeed, I have told the truth! You have not discovered anything anti-religious or politically dangerous, have you?’ Lessing is said to have replied: ‘Ha, I wish I had discovered something of the sort. It would have pleased me better.’ When he was accepted, the Worshipful Master asked him: ‘Now you see, don't you, that you have not been initiated into anything particularly subversive or anti-religious?’ To which Lessing replied: ‘Yes, I must admit that I haven't learnt any such thing. I would in fact have been glad to do so, for then, at least, I would have learned something.’
That is the statement of a man who was able to consider the matter with the right understanding, and who admitted that he had learned precisely nothing from what took place there. You can at least draw the conclusion from that, that those who are not Freemasons know nothing [about it], since even those who are Freemasons know nothing of any importance. They generally get the impression that they have gained nothing in particular from it. And yet it would be quite wrong to make such an inference.
Now there is still another opinion, which has little to do with real Freemasonry. In a text appearing in 1875, 6 It cannot be determined what text Rudolf Steiner was referring to. However, according to Heckethorn, quoted previously, this notion already appeared in 1751 in the Konstitutionenbuch .ffir irlandische Logen. the author claims that Adam became the first Freemason. One can hardly go further back than the first man in searching for the founder of an association.
Others claim that Freemasonry is an old Egyptian art; in short, that it is what has always been known as the ‘Royal Art,’ and this is indeed placed by some back in primeval times. Finally, many rites — for thus the symbolic ways and manners of the Freemasons are designated — bear Egyptian names, and so from these names you may infer that something deriving from ancient Egyptian culture is involved. At least the opinion is widely held, both in and out of Freemasonry, that it is something very ancient.
Now Freemasonry is something which can indeed provide people with scope for reflection. The name itself connects with two perceptions differing totally from each other. Some claim — and they are no very great party within Freemasonry — that all Freemasonry originated in the work done by masons, in the craft of erecting buildings; while the other opinion considers this to be a childish and naive conception and claims that Freemasonry was in reality always an art to do with the soul; and that the symbols taken from the work of masons — such as, for example, apron, hammer, trowel, chisel, compass, rule, square, plumb-line, spirit-level, etc. — are to be seen as symbolic of soul development. Thus, by the expression ‘Masonry’ is to be understood nothing else than the building of the inner person, the work on the perfection of self. If you talk with a Freemason today, you can then experience him telling you that it is a childish and naive outlook that believes that Freemasonry has ever had anything to do with the work that masons do. On the contrary, it has never concerned itself with anything else than these things: the building of the Wonder Temple, which is the theatre of the human soul, the work on the human soul itself, which has to be perfected, and the art which one must apply to all this. Now all this is expressed in these symbols, so as not to expose it to profane eyes.
Looked at from our contemporary standpoint, both of these views are wholly and utterly wrong, and are so for the following reasons. As regards the first opinion, present day man — in talking about the Freemasons having derived from the work of building — no longer conceives himself to be as significant as he properly should; as for the second opinion, that the symbols are only there to serve as metaphors for the work on the soul, this opinion — even though it is regarded by most Freemasons as something quite irrefutable — is, when properly conceived, a nonsense. It is much more correct to link Freemasonry with the work of building, not, indeed, as architecture or construction are thought of today, but in a fundamentally deeper sense.
Today there are broadly two trends in Freemasonry. The one is represented by far the larger number of those calling themselves masons today. And this majority trend claims now that all masonry is comprised in what it terms the so-called Symbolic or Craft Masonry. Its principal outward characteristic is that it is divided into three degrees, the apprentice, journeyman and master degrees; as for the inward characteristics, we will have something to say presently. Apart from these Craft Masons, there are still quite a number of masons who maintain that Craft Masonry is only a product of the decline of the great universal masonic idea. [They consider] it would be a falling away from this great masonic idea, if it is claimed that masonry comprises only these three Symbolic or Craft degrees; whereas in fact the essence, the fundamental meaning of Freemasonry lies in the so-called Higher Degrees, which are best preserved in the so-called Scottish or Accepted Rite, which, in a particular respect, still conserves [a relic of] what is called the Egyptian, the Misraim or the Memphis Rite. 7 This is Seiler's shorthand version. In text (a) it is rendered: ‘so-called Scottish? or the same rite as that which corresponds, in a particular respect, to what is called the Egyptian, the Misraim, or the Memphis Rite.’ The Reebstein text (d) only has: ‘Scottish or Accepted Rite — Memphis Rite.’
Thus we have two tendencies confronting each other: the Craft Masonry, and the Higher Degree masonry. The Craft- Masons claim that the Higher Degrees are nothing but a frippery based in human vanity, that takes pleasure in having something special, something spiritually aristocratic, with its ascent from degree to degree, and its pride in the possession of the eighteenth or twentieth or still higher degree.
Now you have already become acquainted with quite a bundle of things likely to lead to misunderstandings.
The Higher Degree Freemasonry traces itself back to the old Mysteries, to the procedures which to the extent possible we have described and will describe, in our theosophy; procedures which have been in existence since primordial times and still exist today, and which have preserved the higher super-sensible knowledge for mankind. This super-sensible knowledge, accessible to men, would be transmitted [by] those who could attain entry to these Mystery centres; for certain super-sensible powers were developed in them, enabling them to see into the super-sensible world. These primordial Mysteries — they have become something else nowadays, and we do not want to speak of that now — contained the original seed for all later spiritual culture. For what was enacted in these primordial mysteries was not what constitutes human culture today.
If you wish to understand present-day culture and immerse yourself in it, you will find that it divides into three realms — the realm of wisdom, the realm of beauty and the realm of strength. The whole extent of spiritual culture is in fact contained in these three words. Therefore they are known as the three pillars of human culture. They are the same as the three Kings in Goethe's fairy story of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily 8 On this, see note 6 to the lecture given on 29th May 1905 (lecture 13). — the Gold King, the Silver King and the Brass King. This is connected with Freemasonry being called ‘the Royal Art.’ Today these three realms are separated from each other. Wisdom is essentially contained in what we call science; beauty is essentially embodied in what we call art; and what, in Freemasonry terms, is known as Strength is contained in the regulated and organised living together of humanity in the State. The Freemason subsumes all this in the relation of the will to these three principles, wisdom, beauty and strength.
What they [these three principles] were to give to humanity was in primeval times bestowed on the candidate for initiation by the revelation of the Mystery secrets. We arc now looking back to a time when religion, science and art had not yet become separated, but when they were still combined. In fact, to anyone who can see supersensibly, astrally, these three principles are not for him separate; wisdom, beauty and the domain of the will impulses are for him one unity — On the higher realms of vision there is no abstract science; only a science which exists in pictures, in that which has only a shadowy existence in the [external] world, and finds a shadowy expression in the imagination. What can [now] be read in books, in this or that record of the Creation [about the origin of the world and of humanity I, was not described; instead it was brought before the eyes of the pupil in living pictures, in magnificent harmonious colour. And what the pupil would perceive as wisdom was art and beauty at the same time, was something which stirred his feelings to greater heights than we experience in front of an exquisite work of art. The yearning for truth and beauty, wisdom and art, and the religious impulse as well, [all] developed themselves simultaneously. The artist's eye looked at what was enacted [in the Mysteries] 9 In text (a) ‘in the Mysteries’ is replaced by ‘in the spiritual world.’ In the shorthand version of Seiler these words are missing. For his fair copy he apparently made use of text (a). and he who sought piety found the object of his religious ardour in these high events that were enacted before his eyes. Religion, art and science were one.
Then came the time when this unity split itself up into three cultural provinces; the time when the intellect went its own way. Science arose at the same time when the Mysteries which I have just described lost their importance. You know that Western philosophy and science, science proper, began with Thales. That is the time when it first developed out of the former fullness of the life of the Mysteries. Then also began what in the Western sense is conceived of as art; for Greek dramatic art developed itself out of the Mysteries. Whereas in India, up to the time of the Egyptian cult, 10This sentence is incomplete in all versions. It is given in the published version as corrected by Marie Steiner from text (a). one was concerned with the suffering and death of gods, with the great Greek tragedian-poets, such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, etc., we are dealing with individual human beings, who are images of the great Godhead. Through these human beings, the pupils of the Mysteries reconstructed the suffering, struggling and needy Godhead, thus displaying God to the human audience through their human imagery.
Whoever wants to understand what Aristotle meant by purification,
also: ‘Aristotle on the Mystery Drama’ (NSL 420.
Anthroposophical Monthly, Volume 4, No. 9) Speech and
Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London, 1960. must interpret the concept by means of the astral, by means of the secrets of the Mysteries. The expressions which he employs for tragedy [by way of explaining it] are a dim reflection of what the pupils learnt in the Mystery [schools]. Remember how Lessing investigated the soul forces of fear and compassion that are to be aroused through tragedy. That has furnished the material for many a great and learned discussion since the days of Lessing. [For the Mystery pupil] these emotions would be aroused in reality, when God was portrayed to him in his passage through the world. The passions present [deep] in the human soul were thereby straightforwardly stirred up and drawn out, just as one induces a fever and brings it to its culmination. This led to purification so as to be able to proceed to rebirth. All this appeared in shadow images in the ancient Greek tragedies. Just as with science, so has art, too, developed out of these ancient Mysteries.
It is to these ancient Mysteries that the Higher Degree Freemasons trace back their origin. In their higher degrees they have nothing else than an imitation of the higher degrees of the Mysteries, into which the Mystery candidate was gradually initiated. Now we can also understand why the Craft Freemasons insist so much that there should be no more such higher degrees. Actually, the higher degrees have more or less lost their meaning in Freemasonry in recent centuries. What has taken place in culture during recent centuries has been largely uninfluenced from this quarter. But there was a time when the great cultural impulses issued precisely from what Freemasonry should be. in order to understand this, we must look a little deeper into an age to which I have often referred already here, but now wish to mention in a masonic context, that is, the twelfth century of our European cultural development.
At that time occultism, appearing under a variety of names, played a much greater role in the contemporary culture than anyone could ever imagine today. But all these different names are no longer relevant today, and I will indeed explain why. By an example from Freemasonry itself, I will show you why these names contribute nothing essential to understanding the matter.
What I am now about to relate, anyone can experience if they become an apprentice Freemason; and, since these things are known, at least by name, I am able to speak about them.
A customary practice is what is known as ‘tyling.’ When the Lodge is opened and the Worshipful Master has taken his seat and the Outer Guard is at his post, the first question of the Worshipful Master is: Has the Lodge been tyled? The number of Freemasons who understand what this expression means are probably very few. Since the matter is simple, I can indeed give you an explanation of the term. At the time of which I am speaking, to be a Freemason meant to stand in vehement opposition to everything that commanded outward, official power. Therefore it was necessary to conduct the affairs of the Freemasons, with exceptionally great caution. Precisely for this reason, it was at that time necessary for Freemasonry to appear under various names which sounded harmless. Among other names they called each other ‘Brethren of the Craft’ and so on. Today Freemasonry has accomplished a large part of what it then set out to do. Today it is itself officially a power in the world.
If you ask me what Freemasonry is really about, I must answer with abstract words; it consists in this, that its members aim to anticipate in thought by several centuries the events that are to occur in the world; and to perfect the high ideals of humanity in a fully conscious way, so that these ideals are not just abstract ideas.
Today, when a Freemason talks about ideals and one asks him what he means by the highest ideals, he will say that the highest ideals are wisdom, beauty and strength; which, however, on further consideration, is usually nothing but a form of words. If at that time — or now indeed — the discussion about these ideals is with someone who actually understands something about this, then the discussion will be about something quite specific — about something so specific that it relates to the course of events in the coming centuries, in the same way as the thoughts of an architect building a factory relate to the factory when finished.
At that time [in the twelfth century] it was dangerous to know [in advance] what was to happen later. Hence it was necessary to make use of harmless sounding words, as a cover. And that is also where the expression originated, ‘Is the Lodge tyled?’, which means, in effect, ‘Are only those present who know the meaning of the things which have to be implanted in the future development of mankind by Freemasonry?’ For each had to reflect that they must never let themselves be recognised as Freemasons when they appeared in public. This precautionary rule, then essential, has been maintained until our time. Whether many Freemasons know what is meant thereby, is questionable. Most think it is some sort of verbal formality, or they interpret more or less astutely. I could give you countless more such examples that would show you how outer circumstances have led to the adoption of practical rules for which people now try to discover some deep symbolic explanation.
But now for the very heart of what was attempted in the twelfth century. That is expressed in the deeply significant Saga of the Holy Grail, 12Rudolf Steiner often spoke about the Grail Mysteries at the time of these lectures: for instance in Berlin, on 19th May 1905 (Anthroposophical News Sheet, Volume 5, No. 11), and in Landin (Mark), on 29th July 1906 (typescript copy: Z307). of that enchanted vessel which is said to have come from the distant East, and to have the power to rejuvenate people, to bring the dead back to life, and so on.
Now what is the Holy Grail — in Freemasonry terms — and what is it that lies at the bottom of the whole saga? We shall best be able to understand what it is all about if we call to mind a symbol of certain Freemasonry associations, a symbol misunderstood today in the coarsest way imaginable. It is a symbol taken from sexual life. It is absolutely true that precisely one of the deepest secrets of Freemasonry has a symbol taken from sexual life; and that many people who try to explain such symbols today are only following their own sordid fantasies when they understand these symbols in an impure sense. It is very likely that the interpretation of these sexual symbols will play no small role in times to come, that it is precisely this which will then reveal the parlous state into which the great ancient secrets of Freemasonry have fallen today; and on the other hand, how necessary it is in the present time for the pure, noble and profound basis of the Freemasonry, symbols to be kept sacred and unblemished.
Those of you who heard my recent lecture 13The double lecture given on 23rd October 1905 to men and women separately (lectures 17 and 18 in the present volume). at the General Meeting will know that the true original significance of these symbols is connected with the reason for not allowing women to become Freemasons until a short while ago, and the reason for addressing men and women separately on these matters until [just] recently. On the other hand you also know that these symbols are linked — and I particularly stress this — with the two great streams running through the whole world, and rising to the highest spiritual realm; which streams we also encounter as the law of polarity in the forces of male and female. 14This sentence is not word for word as transcribed. The various texts are different. Text (a) omits from this sentence the words ‘great streams’ and has in their place ‘forces of male and female,’ and ends at the word ‘realms,’ omitting the rest. Seiler's fair copy has the same wording, but the shorthand version has a gap here. In Reebstein's text (d) we find the following: ‘The symbols are connected with questions running through the whole world, which meaning ... basic forces of male and female.’ The notes of Marie Steiner von Sivers give the following: ‘The two sexes are only an expression of the two great currents, which confront us as the Law of Polarity.’ The printed version has been revised by the editor to give a meaningful rendering. Within that culture which we now have to consider, the priestly principle is expressed in masonic terminology as the female principle in the spiritual realm — in that spiritual realm which is most closely related to cultural evolution. The rule of the priests is expressed by the female [principle]. On the other hand, the male principle is everything which is opposed to this priestly rule; however, in such a way that this opponent has to be considered as the holiest, the noblest, the greatest and the most spiritual [principle] in the world, no less. There are thus two streams with which we have to deal: a female and a male stream. The Freemasons see Abel as representing the female current, Cain, the male.
Here we come to the fundamental concept of Freemasonry, which to be sure is old, very old. Freemasonry developed in ancient times as the opponent of the priestly culture. We must now, however, make clear, in the right way, what is to be understood by priestly culture.
What is involved here has nothing to do with Petty opposition to churches or creeds. Priestliness can show itself in the most completely secular [people]; even what manifests itself today as science, that holds sway in many cultural groups, is nothing else than what is known in Freemasonry terms as the priestly element, though [there are?] other [such groups?] which are profoundly masonic. We must conceive such things, then, in their entire profundity, if we want to appraise them correctly. May I explain by an example how what manifests as science can often be what is denoted in Freemasonry as the priestly element.
Who today among doctors would not scoff if told about the healing properties of the spring at Lourdes? On the other hand, what doctor would not accept as a matter of course that it is wholly reasonable for certain people to go to Wiesbaden or Karlsbad? I know I am saying something fearfully heretical, but then I represent neither the priesthood nor even medicine; however a time is already coming when an unbiased judgment will be pronounced on both. Were there an effective medicine today, faith in the power of healing would be among the things a doctor would prescribe. One patient would be sent to Karlsbad and another to Lourdes, but both for the same reason. Whether you call it great piety on the one hand, or blatant superstition on the other, in the last analysis it is the same thing.
Understood in this way, we can characterise what underlies the priestly principle as refraining from investigating fundamentals, as accepting things as they present themselves from whatever aspect of the world, as being satisfied with what is thus given. The symbol of that for which man does nothing, the proper symbol for what is, in the truest sense of the word, donated to man, that symbol is taken from sexual life. The human being is [indeed] productive there, but what manifests itself in this productive force has nothing to do with human art, with human science or with human ability; from it is excluded everything which causes itself to be expressed in the three pillars of the ‘Royal Art.’ So when some present these sexual symbols to humanity, they want to say: In this symbol, human nature expresses itself, not as man has made it, but as it has been given by the gods. This finds its expression in Abel, the hunter and herdsman, who offers the sacrificial animal, the sacrificial lamb, thereby offering what he himself has done nothing to produce, which came into existence independently of him.
What did Cain, on the other hand, offer? He sacrificed what he had obtained by his own labour, what he had won from the fruits of the earth by tilling the soil. What he sacrificed needed human skill, knowledge and wisdom: that which demands comprehension of what one has done, which is based in a spiritual sense on the freedom of man to decide things for himself. That has to be paid for with guilt, by killing, first of all, the living things which had been,given by Nature or by Divine Powers, just as Cain killed Abel.
Through guilt lies the path to freedom. Everything which is born into the world — upon which man can, at best, act only in a secondary way — everything given to man by Divine Powers, everything which is there without him needing to work at it incessantly; all this is given to us first of all in the Kingdoms of Nature over which we have no control — in those Kingdoms (the Plant, Animal and Human Kingdoms) whose forces are isolated from any human contribution, because in these Kingdoms it is physical reproduction that is involved. All the reproductory forces in these Kingdoms are given to us by Nature. Inasmuch as we take what is living for our use — because we make the world our dwelling place, which developed itself out of what is living — we thereby offer the sacrifice given to us, just as Abel offered the sacrifice given to him.
The symbol for these three Kingdoms is the Cross. The lower beam symbolises the Plant Kingdom, the middle or cross beam, the Animal Kingdom, and the upper beam, the Human Kingdom.
The plant has its roots buried in the earth and directs upwards, in the blossom, those parts which, in man, are directed downwards. It is the reproductive organs of the plant that appear in the blossom. The downward-turned part, the root, is the plant's head, buried in the earth. The animal is the plant turned half way and carries its backbone horizontally, in relation to the earth. Man is the plant turned completely round, so that the lower part is directed upwards.
This view lies at the basis of all the mysteries of the Cross. And when theosophy shows us how man has to pass, In the course of his evolution, through the various Kingdoms of Nature, through the Plant, Animal and Human Kingdoms, then that is the same thing expressed by Plato in the beautiful words, ‘The World Soul is nailed to the Cross of the World Body.’ 15See note 10 to lecture given on 22nd May 1905 (lecture 12). The human soul is a spark struck from the World Soul, and the human being, as physical human being, is plant, animal and physical man at the same time. Inasmuch as the World Soul has divided itself up into the individual sparks of human souls, it is, as it were, nailed to the World Cross, nailed to what is expressed in the three Kingdoms, the Animal, Plant and Human Kingdoms. Powers which man has not mastered are at work in these Kingdoms. If he wants to control them, then he must create a new Kingdom of his very own, which is not expressed in the Cross.
When talking about this subject I am often asked: Where is the Mineral Kingdom in all this? The mineral kingdom is not symbolised in the Cross; because it is that Kingdom which man can already express himself in clear and blinding clarity, where he has learnt to apply the techniques of weighing and calculating, of geometry and arithmetic; in short, everything pertaining to inorganic nature, to the inorganic Mineral Kingdom.
If you contemplate a temple, you know that man has erected it with ruler, compasses, square, plumb-line and spirit level, and finally with the thinking that inorganic nature has transmitted to the architect in geometry and mechanics. And as you continue your contemplation of the whole temple, you will find it to be an inanimate object born out of human freedom and brainwork. You cannot say that, however, if you subject a plant or an animal to human observation.
So you see that what man has mastered, what he is able to master, is, up to now, the realm of the inanimate. And everything which the human being has converted to harmony and order out of the inanimate world is the symbol of his Royal Art on earth. What he has implanted into the Mineral Kingdom with his Royal Art started as an outflow, an incarnation of Divine wisdom. Go back to the time of the ancient Chaldeans and Egyptians, when it was not only the intellect that was used in building, but when heightened perceptions permeated everything; the controlling of inorganic nature was then seen as the ‘Royal Art,’ which is why the control of nature was denoted as ‘Free masonry.’ At first this may seem to be fantasy, but it is more than that.
Picture to yourselves that instant, that point in time in our earth's development, when no one had yet applied his hand to the shaping of inorganic Nature, when the whole planet was presented to man just as it came from Nature! And what happened then? Look back to the construction of the Egyptian pyramids, in which stone was fitted to stone through human agency. Nature's creation was given a new shape as a result of human thought. Human wisdom has thus transformed the earth. That was perceived as the proper mission of free constructing man on earth. Using a wide variety of tools, guided by human wisdom, human powers have brought about in the mineral world a transformation that has unfolded between primordial times and the present day, when human powers can influence far distances without mechanical means. And that is the first pillar, the pillar of wisdom.
Somewhat later we see the second pillar established, the pillar of beauty, of art. Art is likewise a means of pouring the human spirit into lifeless matter, and again the result is an ensoulment (conquest) 16‘Ensoulment’ (Beseelung), ‘conquest’ (Besiegung). Texts (a) and (b) have the former; text (d) the latter. of the inanimate to be found in Nature. Try for a moment to picture in your mind how the wisdom in art gradually overcomes and masters lifeless Nature, and you will see how what is there without man's participation is reshaped piece by piece by man himself. Visualise — as a fantasy, if you must — the effect of the whole earth having been transformed by the hand of man, the effect of the whole earth becoming a work of art, full of wisdom and radiating beauty, built by man's hand, conceived by man's wisdom! It may seem fantastic but it is more than that. For it is humanity's mission on earth, to transform the planet artistically. You find this expressed in the second pillar, the pillar of beauty.
To which you can add, as the third pillar, the reshaping of the human race in national and state life, and you have the propagation of the human spirit in the world; you have this right here in the realm of what is lifeless.
Hence the medieval people of the twelfth century reflected, in looking back to the ancient wisdom, that the wisdom of times past was preserved in marble monuments, while contemporary wisdom is to be found in the human heart. For it is manifested through the artist, becoming a work of art through the labour of his hands. What he feels he impresses into matter that is unformed, he chisels out of the dead stone; while the inner soul of man does not of course live in this dead stone, it does manifest itself there. All art is dedicated to this purpose; there is always this mastering of unliving, inorganic nature, regardless of whether it is a sculptor chiseling marble or a painter arranging colour, light and shade. And even the statesman gives structure to Nature [?] 17The questionable word ‘nature’ was given in texts (a) and (b) but was missing in the other texts. ... always, — apart from when plant, animal, or human forces come into it — you are dealing with man's own spirit.
Thus, the medieval thinker of the twelfth century looked back at the occult wisdom of the ancient Chaldeans, at Greek art and beauty, and at the strength in the concept of the state in the Roman Empire. These are the three great pillars of world history — wisdom, beauty and strength. Goethe portrayed them in his ‘Fairy Story’ as the Three Kings — occult wisdom in the Gold King, beauty as in Greece in the Silver King, and, in the Brass King, strength as it found its world historical expression in the Roman concept of the State, and as then adopted in the organisation of the Christian Church. And the Middle Ages; with its chaos 18This sentence was incomplete in texts (a) and (b) and was made up from texts (d) and (e). resulting from the impact of the migrating nations, and with its mixed styles, is expressed in the misshapen Mixed King made of gold, silver and brass; what was kept separate in the various ancient cultures, is mixed together in him. Later, the separate forces must once more develop themselves out of this chaos, to a higher level.
All those who, in the Middle Ages, took the Holy Grail as their symbol, set themselves the task of using human powers to bring these separate forces to a higher stage [of development]. The Holy Grail was to have been something essentially new, even though it is closely related in its own symbolism to the symbols of a very ancient mystical tradition.
What then is the Holy Grail? For those who understand this legend correctly, it signifies — as can even be proved by literary means 19Rudolf Steiner was obviously referring here to the saga of ‘Poor Henry’ composed by Hartmann von Aue (1165 — C 1215), a contemporary of Wolfram von Eschenbach. (See also note 13). Rudolf Steiner often referred to this poem later in his lectures. — the following:
Till now, man has only mastered the inanimate in Nature -the transformation of the living forces, the transformation of what sprouts and grows in the plants, and of what manifests itself in animal [and human] reproduction that is beyond his power. Man has to leave these mysterious powers of Nature untouched. There he cannot encroach. What results from these forces cannot be fully comprehended by him. An artist can certainly create a strangely beautiful Zeus, but he cannot fully comprehend this Zeus; in the future, man will reach a level where he can do that as well. Just as it is so, that man has achieved control over Inanimate nature, has mastered gravity with spirit level and plumb-line, and the directional forces of Nature with the aid of geometry and mechanics; so it is the case that in future man will himself control what he only receives as a gift from Nature or the Divine powers — namely, the living.
When in the past Abel sacrificed what he had been given by Divine hand, he was thus sacrificing, in the realm of the living, only what he had received from nature. Cain, by contrast, had offered something which he had himself won from the earth by his own labour, as the fruits of effort. 20This sentence only occurs in text (a). Reebstein's text (d) on the other hand, is the only text to contain this sentence: ‘Abel is the one who in the future will have the power to create [what is] holy through [the forces of] his soul.’ Hence, at this time [in the Middle Ages], a radically new impulse was introduced into Freemasonry. And this impulse is that denoted by the symbol of the Holy Grail, the power of self-sacrifice. I have often said, harmony in human relationships is not brought about by preaching it, but by creating it. Once the necessary forces have been awakened in human nature, there is no more unbrotherliness. [The concepts of] majority and minority are meaningless in what the masonic symbols express; in it there can be no contention, for it is only a matter of ‘can’ or ‘cannot.’
No majority can decide whether one should use a plumb-line or a spirit level; the facts must decide that. In that all men are brothers, there they find themselves to be one. On that there can be no contention, if everyone treads the path of objectivity, the path which entails the acquisition of higher powers. Thus, the bond [of the Freemasons] is without doubt a bond of brotherhood which in the broadest sense depends on what men have in common in inanimate Nature.
However, not every power is still available there. Some things which were once there have disappeared again, because in the cycle of Nature in which we now find ourselves, and which we call earth, it is material perception which is to the fore, while intuitive perception has been lost. May I indicate just one case; in architecture, the ability to design a really acoustic building has been completely lost. Yet, in the past, this art was understood. Whoever puts a building together by outward [concepts] alone, will never create an acoustic; but anyone who thinks intuitively, with his thoughts rooted in higher realms will be enabled to accomplish an acoustic building. Those who know that also know that, in the future, those forces of outward nature over which we have no control at present must be conquered, just as man has already conquered gravity, light and electricity in inanimate nature.
Although our age is not yet so advanced as to be able to control outwardly living Nature, although that cultural epoch has not yet come in which living and life-giving forces come to be mastered, nevertheless, there is already the preparatory school for this, which was founded by the movement called the Lodge of the Holy Grail. The time will however come — and it will be quite a specific point in time — when humanity, deviating from its present tendency, will see that deep inward soul forces cannot be decided by majority resolutions; that no vote can settle questions involving the limitless realm of love, involving what one feels or senses. That force which is common to all mankind, which expresses itself in the intellectual as an all-embracing unity about which there can be no conflict, is called Manas. And when men have progressed so far that they are not only at one in their intellect, but also in their perceptions and feelings, and are in harmony in their inmost souls, so far that they find themselves in what is noble and good, so far that they lovingly join together in the objective, in what they have in common, in the same way that they agree that two times two makes four and three times three equals nine; then the time will have arrived when men will be able to control the living as well. Unanimity — objective unanimity in perception and feeling — with all humanity really embracing in love: such is the pre-condition for gaining control over the living.
Those who founded the movement of the Holy Grail in the twelfth century said that this control over living [nature] was at one time available, available to the gods who created the Cosmos and descended [to earth] in order to give mankind the germ of the capacity for the same divine forces that they already possessed themselves; so that man is now on the way to becoming a god, having something in his inner being which strives upwards towards where the gods once stood. Today, the understanding, the intellect, is the predominant force; in the future it will be love [Buddhi], and in a still more distant future, man will attain the stage of Atma.
This joint force (communal force) 21Text (a) has ‘communal force’ (Gemeinsam keitskraft). In Seiler's fair copy it is ‘joint force’ (Gesamtkraft), but in Seiler's shorthand copy, Gemeinsamkeitskraft can be read. The whole text, ‘including the preceding paragraph, is rendered in Reebstein's text (d) in the following way: ‘Objective love was present in the gods who created the cosmos. Something superhuman stirs itself, which today is understanding, which later will be love. Manas, Buddhi, Atma is a joint force which gives power over the Cross.’ which gives man power over what is symbolised by the cross,
is expressed as far as the gods' use of the force is concerned — by a symbol, namely by a triangle with its apex pointing downwards. And when it is a matter of this force expressing itself in man's nature, as it germinally strives upwards towards the Divine force, then it is symbolised by a triangle with its apex pointing upwards. The gods have lifted themselves out from man's nature and have withdrawn from him; but they have left the triangle behind with him, which will develop further within him. This triangle is also the symbol of the Holy Grail. †See note following the lecture.
The medieval occultist expressed the symbol of the Grail — the symbol for awakening perfection in the living — in the form of a triangle. That does not need a communal church, entwining itself around the planet in a rigid organisation, though this can well give something to the individual soul; but if all souls are to strike the same note, then the power of the Holy Grail must be awakened in each individual. Whoever wants to awaken the power of the Grail in himself will gain nothing by asking the powers of the official church whether they can perhaps tell him something; rather, he should awaken this power in himself, and should not question all that much. Man starts from dullness [of mind] and progresses through doubt to strength. This pilgrimage of the soul is expressed in the person of Parsifal, who seeks the Holy Grail. This is one of the manifold deeper meanings of the figure of Parsifal.
Does it further my knowledge if a corporate body, be they ever so great, proclaims mathematical truth through their official spokesmen? If I want to learn mathematics, I must occupy myself with it, and gain an understanding of it .or myself. And of what use is it if a corporate body possesses the power of the Cross? 22Text (a) has the word ‘Christ’ instead of the word ‘Cross,’ but on the other hand, Seiler's shorthand and fair copy, as well as Reebstein's text (d), give ‘Cross.’ If I want to make use of the power of the Cross, the control of what is living, then I must achieve this myself. No one else can tell it to me, or communicate it through words; at best they can show it to me in the symbol, give me the shining symbol of the Grail, but it cannot be told in an intellectual formula.
The first accomplishment of this medieval occultism would have been, consequently, what appeared in so many different movements in Europe: the striving for individuality in religion, the escape from the rigid uniformity of the organised church. You can barely grasp to what extent this tendency underlies Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. 23Composed around 1200–1210. First printed 1477. Forgotten then for many years and only came to be known again about 1750. First critical edition by Lachmann (1833) followed by numerous others. English translations: J.L. Weston, A Knightly Epic, 2 volumes, London, 1894, in verse; Mustard and Passage, Parzival, Vintage Books, New York, 196 1; A.T. Hatto, Parzival, Penguin Classics, 1980. What manifested itself for the first time in the Reformation was already inherent in the symbol of the Holy Grail. Whoever has a feeling for the great meaning of what can confront us in this symbolism, will understand its great and deep cultural value. The great things of the world are not born in noise and tumult, but in intimacy and stillness. Mankind is not brought forward in its development by the thunder of cannons, but through the strength of what is born in the intimacy of such secret brotherhoods, through the strength of what is expressed in such world-embracing symbols, which inspire mankind.
Since that time, through innumerable channels, the hearts of men have received as an inflow, what was conceived by those who were initiated into the mysteries of the Holy Grail in the middle of the twelfth century; who had to hide themselves from the world under pseudonyms, but who were really the leaven preparing the culture of the last four hundred years,
The guardians of great secrets, of those forces which continually influence human developments live in the occult brotherhoods. I can only hint at what is really involved, because the matter itself goes very deeply into the occult realm.
For those who really gain access to such mysteries, one practical result is a clearer perspective of world happenings [in the future].
Slowly but surely the organic, the living forces intervene in the present-day cycle of humanity's development. There will come a time — however fantastic this might seem to contemporary people — when man will no longer paint only pictures, will no longer make only lifeless sculptures, but will be in a position to breathe life into what he now merely paints, merely forms with colours or with a chisel.
However, what will appear less fantastic is the fact that today the first dawn is already beginning, for the use of these living forces in the affairs of social life- that is the real secret surrounding the Grail. The last event brought about in the social sphere by the old Freemasonry was the French Revolution, in which the basic idea of the old Freemasonry came into the open in the social sphere with the ideas of equality, liberty and fraternity as its corollaries. Whoever knows this also knows that the ideas which emanated from the Grail were propagated through innumerable channels, and constituted the really active force in the French Revolution.
What is today called socialism exists only as an abortive and impossible experiment, as a final, I may say desperate, struggle in a receding wave of humanity's [development]. It cannot bring about any really positive result. What it sets out to achieve, can only be achieved through living activity; the pillar of strength is not enough. Socialism can no longer be controlled with inanimate forces. The ideas of the French Revolution — liberty, equality, fraternity were the last ideas to flow out of the inanimate. Everything that still runs on that track is fruitless and doomed to die. For the great evil existing in the world today, the dreadful misery that expresses itself with such frightful force, that is called the social question, can no longer be controlled by the inanimate. A Royal Art is needed for that; and it is this Royal Art which was inaugurated in the symbol of the Holy Grail.
Through this Royal Art, man must acquire control of something similar
to the force which sprouts in the plant, the same force that the
occultist uses when he accelerates the growth of a plant in front of
him. In a similar way, a part of this force must be used for social
salvation. This power, which is described by those who know something of
the Rosicrucian mysteries — as for example did Bulwer Lytton in
his futuristic novel Vril 24The Right Hon. Lord Lytton, The Coming Race,
George Routledge and Sons, London, 1870. Translated into German by
Gunther Wachsmuth at Rudolf Steiner's instigation, Stuttgart, 1922,
under the title: Vril oder eine Menschheit der Zukunft.
In an answer to a question put to Rudolf Steiner at the end of a lecture held in Leipzig, 13th October 1906, regarding the meaning of Vril, he said the following:
Again, I have to tell you something which will seem fantastic to the uninitiated, on account, I may say, of the comprehensive, all-embracing range of the idea. What man prints as a form deriving from his soul on the matter of this earth Round is eternal, it will not pass away. Even though the matter thus given form outwardly decays, what the Royal Art has given form to, in pyramids, temples and churches, is imperishable. What the human spirit has given shape to, in matter, will remain present in the world as a continuing force. That is completely clear to those who are initiated in such matters. Cologne's Gothic cathedral will, for example, pass away; but it is of far reaching significance that the atoms were once in this form. This form itself is the imperishable thing that will henceforth participate in the ongoing evolutionary process of humanity, just as the living force that is in the plant participates in the evolution of Nature! The painter, who paints a picture today, who prints dead matter with his soul's blood, is also creating something which will sooner or later be disposed in thousands of atoms. What has imperishable and continuing value, what is eternal, is that he has created, that something from his soul has flowed into matter.
States and all other human communities come and go before our eyes. But what men have formed out of their souls, as such communities, constitute humanly-conceived ideas of eternal value, with an eternally enduring significance. And when this human race once again appears on the earth in a new form, then it will see the fruits of these elements of eternal value.
Today, whoever turns his gaze upwards to the starry heavens sees a wonderful harmony. This harmony has evolved, it was not always there. When we build a cathedral we place stone upon stone, when we paint a picture we place colour next to colour, when we organise a community we make law upon law; in exactly the same way, creative beings once worked upon what confronts us today as the cosmos. Neither moon nor sun would shine, no animal, no plant, would reproduce itself, unless everything we face in the cosmos had been worked upon by beings, unless there were such beings who worked as we work today on the remodelling of the cosmos. Just as we work on the cosmos today through wisdom, beauty and strength, so too did beings who do not belong to our present human Kingdom once work on the cosmos.
Any harmony is always the outcome of the disharmony of an earlier time. Just as stones were given form for a Greek temple, just as they abounded in other forms, in a perplexing variety of forms, out of which they became a coordinated structure, just as the profusion of colours on the palette is meaningfully arrayed in a picture, so, in just the same way, all matter was in other chaotic relationships before the creating spirit transformed it into this cosmos. The same thing is recapitulating itself at a new level, and only he who sees the whole can work on the details correctly and clearly. Everything which has had real significance for humanity's progress in the world has been brought about with care and judgment and through initiation into the great laws of the world plan. What the day produces is ephemeral. What is created in the day through knowledge of the eternal laws is, however, imperishable. To create in the day through knowledge of the eternal laws is the same thing as Freemasonry.
Thus you see that what confronts us in art, science and religion, beyond what is given by the gods and expressed in the symbol of the Cross, is in fact brought about by Freemasonry, from which everything that has been properly built in the world derives. Freemasonry is thus intimately involved in everything that human hand has shaped in the world, with everything that culture has created out of raw, inanimate matter. Go back to the great things the cultural epochs have produced; consider, for example, the poems of Homer. What is contained in them? What the initiates have taught mankind in great world-embracing ideas. The great artists did not invent their topics, but rather gave form to what embraces all humanity. Is a Michaelangelo conceivable without the power of Christian concepts? Try in the same way to trace back to its origin whatever has achieved a really incisive cultural meaning, and you will in every case be led back to what has come from initiation [in the Mysteries].
Everything must in the end undergo a schooling. The last four hundred years were in fact a schooling for humanity — the school of godlessness, in which there was purely human experimentation, a return to chaos if seen from a particular point of view. Everyone is experimenting today, without being aware of the connection with higher worlds — apart from those who have once more sought and found that connection with spiritual realms. Nearly everyone lives entirely for himself today, without perceiving anything of the real and all-penetrating common design. That of course is the cause of the dreadful dissatisfaction everywhere.
What we need is a renewal of the Grail Chivalry in a modern form. Anyone who can approach this will thereby come to know the real forces which today are still lying hidden in the course of human evolution.
Today so many people take up the old symbols without understanding them; what is thus made out of the sexual symbols in an uncomprehending way comes nowhere near to a correct understanding of masonic concepts. Such understanding is to be sought in precisely those things which redeem mere natural forces; in penetrating and mastering what is living in the same way that the geometrician penetrates and masters the inanimate with his rule, compasses, spirit level and so forth; and in working upon the living in the same way those who build a temple put the unliving stones together. That is the great masonic concept of the future.
There is a very ancient symbol in Freemasonry, the so-called Tau:
This Tau sign plays a major role in Freemasonry. It is basically
nothing else than a Cross from which the upper arm has been taken away.
The Mineral Kingdom is excluded in order to obtain the Cross at all
— man already controls that. If one lets the Plant Kingdom come
into play [in Aktion treten] then one obtains the Cross directed
upwards: 25the Cross
directed upwards. The explanations of the Tau symbol are fragmentary
and the texts differ in their wording.
Text (a) has the following: ‘The Tau sign plays an important role in Freemasonry. It is basically nothing else than a Cross with the upper, arm taken away. In a figurative sense, therefore, the mineral realm has been omitted. But in order to arrive at the Cross at all, the plant kingdom must be brought into play, whereby one arrives at the upward pointing Cross.’
Text and symbol of (a) both seem questionable. Marie Steiner, who once made some preparatory corrections of (a), left off the symbol in its original form and replaced it with the following: ‘In order to arrive at the Cross at all, the plant kingdom must be brought into play, whereby the upward pointing Cross is obtained.’
In text (b) the following version is given: ‘This Tau sign plays an important role in Freemasonry. It is nothing else but the Cross. Only one of the beams is left off. The mineral kingdom has been left off in order to arrive at the Cross at all. If you allow the plant kingdom to come into play you get the upward pointing cross.’ In the shorthand version of this there is a gap after the words: ‘in order to arrive at the Cross at all.’ Instead, the symbol is inserted after ‘upwards pointing Cross,’ whereas it has been left out of the fair copy.
The text (d) only has:
‘The Tau plays an important role τ
It is nothing else than the Cross.
If the productive forces of the plant ...’ It is significant that the Tau symbol has been drawn, but not the reverse form, in a text which otherwise provides the greatest number of diagrams.
Text (f) has the following: ‘The Tau is the Cross, from which the upper beam has been removed. The mineral realm has been left off, man controls it already. For if one lets the plant realm come into play one arrives at (symbol). What develops out of the earth, out of the soul as power over the earth, is the symbol of future Freemasonry.’
The other texts do not contain a reference to this.
What unfolds itself from the earth, from the soul, as power over the earth, is the symbol of future Freemasonry.
Whoever heard my last lecture about Freemasonry 26Double lecture on 23rd October 1905, for men and women separately (lectures 17 and 18). will remember my telling you about the Freemasonry legend of Hiram-Abiff, and how at a particular point he makes use of the Tau sign, when the Queen of Sheba wanted him to call together once more the workers engaged in building the Temple. Now the people working together in social partnership would never appear at Solomon's command; but at the signal of the Tau — which Hiram-Abiff raised aloft — they all appeared from all sides. The Tau sign symbolises a totally new power, based on freedom, and consisting in the awakening of a new natural force.
May I be allowed to resume at the remark with which I ended last time, 27In the lecture of 28th December 1905 (unpublished as yet), Rudolf Steiner said: ‘Allow me to conclude my observations of the old year with an allusion I have made once before [in the lectures of December 1904, included in the present volume]. A major work of destruction is being carried out all around us, which could tell an observant person — even if he were not clairvoyant — that we stand at the beginning of a great work of destruction involving outer material [culture] as it has developed in recent centuries — for material development only goes up to a certain point.’ when I told you where such great control over inanimate Nature leads. Without much fantasy, one can show what is. involved by an example. Wireless telegraphy works across a distance from the transmitting station to the receiving station. The apparatus can be set to work at will, it is effective over great distances, and one can make oneself understood by it. A similar force to that by which wireless telegraphy works will be at man's disposal in a future age, without even any apparatus; this will make it possible to cause great devastation over long distances, without anyone being able to discover where the disturbance originated. Then, when the high point of this development has been reached, it will eventually come to the point where it falls back on itself.
What is expressed by the Tau is a driving force which can only be set in motion by the power of selfless love. It will be possible to use this power to drive machines, which will, however, cease to function if egoistical people make use of them.
It is perhaps known to you that Keely invented a motor 28The American, John Worrell Keely (born 1837) caused much talk in the second half of the nineteenth century through the invention of the ‘self-motor,’ the so-called Keely Motor. A treatise on his experiments is to be found in H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, Book III (X ‘The Coming Force,’ pp. 554–556). Among the lectures of Rudolf Steiner there are several references to this subject, notably in the lecture given during the Great War on 20th June 1916: ‘Cosmic Being and Egohood’ (cycle C 43), where he says: ‘It was a concept still. Thank God it was only a concept at that time for, if this Keely's concept had become reality then, what would this war have become!’ Compare also the lecture given in Dornach on 1st December 1918, in In the Changed Conditions of the Times, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1941. which would only go if he himself were present. He was not deceiving people about this; for he had in him that driving force originating in the soul, which can set machines in motion. A driving force which can only be moral, that is the idea of the future; a most important force, with which culture must be inoculated, if it is not to fall back on itself. The mechanical and the moral must interpenetrate each other, because the mechanical is nothing without the moral. Today we stand hard on this frontier. In the future machines will be driven not only by water and steam, but by spiritual force, by spiritual morality. This power is symbolised by the Tau sign and was indeed poetically symbolised by the image of the Holy Grail. 29Texts (a) and (b) have: ‘the Tau’ of the Holy Grail. The other texts do not have this passage, the image of the Holy Grail is Marie Steiner's correction; perhaps, however, it rests on an error in copying and it should read: ‘the Taube’ (i.e., ‘dove’) of the Holy Grail. Man is no longer merely dependent on what Nature will freely give him to use; he can shape and transform Nature, he has become the master craftsman of the inanimate. In the same way he will become the master craftsman of what is living.
As something that must be conquered, the old sexual symbol stands at the turning point for Freemasonry. You could compare the old sexual symbol of the Freemasons with the new symbolism for future Freemasonry by the analogy of placing a rock struck from a cliff face and covered with rough grass next to a beautifully worked statue by a sculptor. Those who have been to some extent initiated into the Royal Art have been aware of this. Goethe, for instance, has expressed this marvelously in the Homunculus episode in the Second Part of Faust. There are still many mysteries 30See in this context Rudolf Steiner's later lectures: The Problem of Faust, twelve lectures, Dornach, between 13th September 1916 and 19th January 1919. in that work, which remain to be revealed.
All this indicates that humanity faces a new epoch in the development of the occult Royal Art. Those who officially represent Freemasonry today know the least about what this future Freemasonry will be. They are the least aware that something quite new will replace the old symbols they have so often misinterpreted, and that this will have an entirely new significance.
Just as it is true that everything of real importance in the past stems from the Royal Art, so it is also true that everything of real importance in the future will derive from the cultivation of the same source. Certainly, every schoolboy today can demonstrate the theorem of Pythagoras; only Pythagoras could discover it, because he was a master in the Royal Art. It will be the same in the Royal Art of the future. Thus you see that the masonic Art stands at a turning point in its development, and has the closest links with the work of the Lodge of the Grail, with what can appear as salvation in the dreadful conflicts all around us.
These conflicts are only beginning. Humanity is unaware that it is dancing on a volcano. But it is so. The revolutions beginning on our earth make a new phase of the Royal Art necessary. Those people who do not drift thoughtlessly through life, will know what they have to do; that they have to participate in our earth's evolution. Therefore, from a certain point of view, this very ancient Royal Art must be represented in a new form to stand alongside of what is so ancient, in which there lies an inexhaustible force. Those who can grasp the new masonic ideas will strike new sparks from Freemasonry's ancient symbols. Then it will also become plain that contention between Craft and Higher Degree Freemasonry is meaningless set against the endeavours of real Freemasonry.
For this it is necessary to answer the question — and that brings us back to our starting point — ‘What was the Royal Art up till now?’ The Royal Art was the soul of our culture. And this culture of ours has two basic ingredients. On the one hand, it is built up by those forces in the human soul which concern themselves with the inanimate; and on the other hand, by the forces of those people who make it their principal task to control the inanimate simply bv means of the forces summoned up by their organism; and they are the men, hence the Royal Art has hitherto been a male art. Women were therefore excluded and could not take part in it. The tasks carried on in the Lodges were set apart, kept separate — the details do not matter — from everything related to the family or to the reproduction of the purely natural basis of the human race.
In Freemasonry, a double life was led; the great ideas which came to expression in the Lodges were not to be mixed up with anything connected with the family. The work in the Lodges, being related to the inmost life of the soul, ran parallel to nurturing the social life of the family. The one current lay in conflict with the other. The women were excluded from Freemasonry. This ceased the instant that Freemasonry stopped looking backwards and turned its gaze forward. For it was precisely what flowed in from outside[?] which was seen as the female current; the Freemasons considered what came from Nature as something priestly. And hitherto Freemasonry had regarded that as hostile.
Man is by his nature the representative of the force that works on the inanimate, whereas the woman is seen as the representative of the living creative force that continually -develops the human race from the basis in Nature. This antithesis must be resolved.
What has to be achieved in the future can only be brought about by overcoming everything in the world that relies upon .he old symbols, that are expressed precisely in what is sexual. The Freemasonry that is obsolete today has these symbols, but is also aware of the fact that we must overcome them. However, these sexual [symbols] must be kept in existence outside in the institutions that relate to what is natural and only in this division can the matter be resolved.
Neither the architect nor the artist nor the statesman have anything to do — in their way of thinking, I ask you -o ponder that — with the basis of sexuality in Nature. They all labour to control inanimate forces with reason, with the intellect. That is expressed in the masonic symbols. Overcoming this basis in Nature in the far future, gaining control of the forces of life — as in the far-off times of the Lemurian race, man started to gain control of inanimate forces — that will be expressed in new symbols. Then the natural basis will have been conquered not only in the sphere of the inanimate, but also in the sphere of the animate.
When we reflect on this, then the old sexual symbols appear to us as precisely what has to be overcome, in the broadest sense; and then we discover what in the future must be the creative and truly effective principle, in the concept of uniting both male and female spiritual forces. The outward manifestation of this progress in Freemasonry is therefore the admission of the female sex.
There is a meaningful custom in Freemasonry which relates to this matter. Everyone inducted into the Lodge is given two pairs of gloves. He puts one pair on himself; the other pair is to, be put on the lady of his choice. By this is signified that the pair should only touch each other with gloves on, so that sensual impulses should have nothing to do with what applies to Freemasonry. This thought is also expressed in another symbol; the apron is the symbol for the overcoming of sexuality, which is covered by the apron. Those who do not know about this profound masonic idea will be unable to have any inkling of what the apron really means. One cannot bring the apron into line with Freemasonry in the narrow sense.
We thus have the conquest of the natural by the free creative spirit on the one hand, but the separation by means of the gloves, on the other. However, we could even take the gloves off in the end, once what is lower has been conquered by applying the immediate free spiritual forces of both sexes. Then only will what manifests itself today in sexuality be finally overcome. When human creation is free, completely free, when man and woman work together on the great structure of humanity, the gloves will no longer be distributed, for man and woman will be freely able to stretch out their hands to each other, because then spirit will be speaking to spirit, not sensuality to sensuality. That is the great idea of the future.
If anyone today wants to enter the ancient Freemasonry, then he will only be at the high point of masonic thinking about the future shape of mankind if he works in this spirit, and if he understands what the times demand of us, regardless of what the Order was in antiquity. If it becomes possible to discover an understanding of what is called the secret of the Royal Art, then the future will undoubtedly bring us the rebirth of the old good and splendid Freemasonry, however decadent it is today.
One of the ways in which occultism will permeate humanity will be through Freemasonry reborn. The very best things reveal themselves precisely through the faults of their own virtues. And although we can only look upon Freemasonry today as a caricature of the great Royal Art, we must nevertheless not lose heart in our endeavour to awaken its slumbering forces again, a task which is incumbent on us 31Rudolf Steiner is referring here to the Section dealing with cult and symbolism of his Esoteric School which he was about to found. See in this connection: The Course of My Life,Chapter XXXII and which runs in a parallel direction to the theosophical movement. So long as we do not dabble in the question which weighs upon us, but really grapple with it out of the depths of our understanding of world events, make ourselves understand what is manifesting itself in the souls of the sexes, in the battle of the sexes, then we will see that it is out of these forces that the formative powers of the future must flow.
All today's chatter is nothing. These questions cannot be answered, unless the answer is drawn out of the depths. What exists in the world today as the social question or the question of woman, is nothing, unless it is understood out of the depths of world forces, and brought into harmony with them.
Just as it is true that the great deeds of the past had their origin in Freemasonry, so is it also true that the great practical deeds of the future will be gained from the depths of future masonic ideas.