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The Foundations of Esotericism
GA 93a

Lecture XIX

Berlin, 17th October 1905

Yesterday we saw how in a certain way man is connected with astral powers. When he dies he first enters the astral world. But even now he stands in a continual relationship with the astral plane. It is actually the case that on the astral plane beings are constantly becoming visible which would not be there if the human being did not exist. Through people, and even more so through animals, these beings make their appearance on the astral plane. They are not of the same nature as its other beings. On the astral plane there becomes visible what man in the first place experiences only as feeling. Pleasure, sorrow, passions are actually present, just as physical objects are on the physical plane, as for instance, a chair or a table. Things are so, that a being which appears to us as pleasing works upon our feeling when the astral substance of which it is composed is still quite thin.

What makes its appearance on the astral plane is usually present as a mirror picture when compared with the physical plane; for instance the number 563 is there 365. A feeling of hatred also appears as if it came from the person to whom it was directed. This fact holds good for everything on the astral plane. Feelings of the soul appearing on the physical plane from the astral plane can be experienced as their opposites. For instance if feelings of soul-warmth press in from the astral plane on to the physical plane they are experienced here as their reflection; that is as a peculiar feeling of cold. These are things about which we must be perfectly clear.

On the other hand it is important to keep in view that the beings of the astral plane have as their substance what we call feeling. They find their expression in this feeling. If these beings are not yet very strongly present we can only experience them through a sensation of cold. If however they become stronger, if their substance is intensified, they become visible as light-beings. This explains why, when materialisations occur during spiritualistic seances, a light-phenomenon appears (the mollusc-crab for example). This is a natural process under such conditions. Anyone who observes something of this kind without this knowledge, speaks of something miraculous. The miraculous is nothing other than the penetration of a higher world into our own. It is simply a natural process. Thus it is, when other beings from higher planes intervene in human life.

We understand that a merely cool, dry thought is less effective on the astral plane than a thought that springs from the soul in an impulsive way. When a person in the present stage of civilisation has come so far as not to be at the mercy of his passions—our civilisation has a certain sophisticated cunning—when cold thoughts about the affairs of the world rise from him into the astral plane, they show themselves there as hollow spaces, they drain the substance away. Ordinary space can be filled with substance. One can bring into ordinary, space substance that fills it. It is not so in the case of substance which, coming from thoughts, streams into astral space. It works in the opposite way from physical matter. It displaces what is there in much the same way as, for instance, one makes a hole in dough. So it is, when our thoughts stream out into astral space. The higher substance is the opposite of the lower; instead of filling out space, it displaces what is in space.

When a thought penetrates into astral space it forms a denser layer around the hollow brought about by the thoughts. Around this hollow, coloured phenomena make their appearance. A glimmer begins to light up. It is the thought-form which we then see. The astral substance surrounding it becomes denser and thereby brighter. The added brightness which arises around the thoughts soon disappears; but if the thought is connected with an intense impulse of passion, it has a relationship with the densified astral substance and gives it life. Thus people who are still very undeveloped but very passionate create living beings in astral space when they think. This ceases later; when people evolve and become calmer such beings no longer arise when they think. But now you understand that there are beings on the astral plane which originate from human beings and also from animals; for in the case of certain animals too, such beings are formed, and indeed with far greater intensity. The animal however presses its own impulses into its own astral form, so that it usually creates its own form, its own image in astral space.

Every animal leaves a sort of trace behind in astral space; this has, it is true, only a short life, but nevertheless it remains for a time. But through the strongly passionate thoughts of human beings there arise new elemental inhabitants in astral space. Gradually however man reaches the point where a kind of neutral elemental being arises. When this point of neutrality is finally past, he progresses to the stage when he ennobles his passions and desires to an ever-greater degree. This leads him to impart to his thoughts a noble enthusiasm which also has the power of creating life in the surrounding astral substance. Through the development of patriotism, for instance, beings of noble form also arise and the elemental beings created in this way play their part in the furtherance of what lives in astral space. The ignoble beings produced by man through thoughts which are filled with passions are hindrances and act in a retrograde way. Everything however which he achieves in freedom from what is sensual, through enthusiasm and so on, works progressively.

The substance in astral space which is pressed together by passionate thoughts is the same as that which surrounded the previous planet, the Old Moon, out of which the Moon has developed to a higher stage. Thus wherever such substance exists, a certain danger is present. We human beings are created in such a way that we are obliged to incarnate in the physical matter of today. On the earlier planet there was not as yet physical matter of this kind; it was more highly developed than that of present day animals and less so than that of present day man. This substance in which Jehovah seeks to incarnate provides, as such, no favourable habitation. But the beings which are so far advanced that they reached their proper stage on the Old Moon will cause no harm. They have no liking for this substance.

It is not the substance in which man is now incarnated. But certain retrograde beings who had fallen behind on the Old Moon had discovered in this astral substance—food for their gluttony. They want to feed on it; it has for them a great force of attraction. This shows that we are continually surrounded by beings whose higher nature is related to our lower. When someone produces egotistical thoughts, this is very welcome to these beings. In other respects they are actually more advanced than man, but they have the craving to embody themselves in the astral forms which we ourselves create. They are the so-called Asuras. Through our baser thoughts we provide nourishment for these asuric beings.

When people whose nature is not yet purified, not yet free from passions, meditate, creating strong thought forms, they conjure up around themselves a powerful aura of desires. In this incarnate asuric beings of this kind which are then able to draw such people downwards. If a person drowsy with sleep meditates and in so doing does not rise clearly enough into thoughts, he creates this substance, and because he has no counterbalance, such beings incarnate in his thought forms. These are higher beings because they had completely developed Manas on the Old Moon, before the coming of the Buddhi impulse; they therefore do not possess this impulse. Hence with them Manas is egotistical. Had not the human being on Earth, from that point of time at which Manas came to him from outside, also received the impulse of Buddhi, had he only developed further the forward urge of Manas, he would have become in the strongest sense of the word an egotistical being. Manasic evolution is one tending to egoism and independence. Its task was to make man independent, but then the Buddhi nature was necessary. The asuric beings already referred to, because they developed Manas too early, have missed this impulse of the Buddhi nature. On the one hand therefore they stand at a higher stage and on the other hand they cannot progress, but go on developing the Kama-Manas, which is egotistical.

Halfway through the Lemurian Race Kama-Manas appeared on the physical plane in the duality of the sexes. The God who brought about Kama-Manas was Jehovah. This is why Helena Petrovna Blavatsky called him the Moon God; he is rightly called the God of Fertility. He caused the external working of Kama-Manas to reach its ultimate limit. The sexuality which made its appearance in the Lemurian Age, when we trace it backwards, when we see it in its ever higher and higher nature, becomes the Second Logos. Through the descending Kama-Principle it was the manifestation of Jehovah; through the ascending Buddhi-Principal it was the manifestation of Christ.

Now if we submerge ourselves into the Kama of the pre-earthly period we are drawn down by the asuric beings. The higher forces of these our spiritual predecessors stand occultly bound up with the passions and forces of our own lower nature.53See lecture 24.10.1915 in The Occult Movement in the 19th Century ... Wherever there are dissolute excesses, there the substance is given in which powerful asuric forces pour cunning intellectualism into the world. In the case of decadent tribes similar powerful asuric forces are to be found. The black magician draws his most powerful forces out of the morass of sensuality. The purpose of sexual rites is to introduce such magic into these circles. A battle is continually taking place on the earth, the one side striving to purify the passions, the other side striving to intensify sensuality. The beings who are guided by the Christ-Principle seek to win the Earth for themselves, but there are also the other antagonistic beings who seek to usurp the Earth.

These embodiments of asuric beings in the out streaming of passion-filled human thoughts are one kind of astral beings. They are called artificial elemental beings because they are brought forth artificially by man. There also exist in astral space natural elemental beings. They proceed from the Group Souls of animals. For each animal group a being exists on the astral plane which unites what is present in the single animals. We meet these also in astral space. Every animal draws its own nature after it astrally like a trail. What is thus formed can however not work so harmfully as what the human being creates in the way of elemental beings. This astral trail is rendered harmless because it is annulled by the Group Souls of the animals. This is not so however with the beings created through man, because in this case nothing is annulled and hence these elemental beings remain.

When an animal is tortured, the amount of pain inflicted on it recoils immediately on the astral body of the human being. Here certainly it is reflected as it's opposite; hence the sensual pleasure in cruelty. Such feelings bring about a lowering of the human astral body. When a person destroys life, this has for him a tremendous significance.54... Compare with Rudolf Steiner's comments on Mabel Collins novel Flita in Luzifer-Gnosis (not translated). [Gap in text ...]. In no way can one so readily assimilate destructive astral forces as by killing. Every killing of a being possessing an astral body evokes an intensification of the most brutal egoism. It signifies a growing increase of power. In schools of Black Magic therefore, instruction is first given as to how one cuts into animals. Cutting into a definite place, accompanied by corresponding thoughts, induces a certain force, in another place it induces another force. (What corresponds to this in the case of the White Magician is meditation.) Something comes back to the physical plane when it is accompanied by physical thoughts; without thoughts it comes back to the Kamaloka plane.

The overpowering of a human being by means of hypnotism is a still stronger killing, for it destroys the will. The occultist therefore never intrudes into a person's freedom; he only relates facts.

Lying is, from the astral standpoint, murder and at the same time suicide. It deceives the other person and creates in him a feeling that is related to a non-existent fact, to a nothingness. On the astral plane appears the counter picture of the nothingness, the killing. You therefore kill something in a person when through a lie you direct his feeling to something that does not exist, and you commit suicide because [Gap in text ...].