The Foundations of Esotericism
Berlin, 4th November 1905
Today in connection with the previous lecture some aphoristic remarks will follow concerning the different races. First however attention will be drawn to certain things, the reasons for which only appear in a few books.
The so-called laws of nutrition in the various civilisations appear at first to be very arbitrary. This is not so however, they are born out of knowledge and wisdom, but we must strictly bear in mind that our present-day humanity is not at all in a position to be able to follow such matters as we now wish to deal with. They will nevertheless provide a basis for certain laws of social life. Of course no one should believe that one immediately becomes an adept simply by going over to vegetarianism and so on.
Among oriental peoples there is a certain way of practising the art of healing in which the doctors attach the greatest importance to the nourishing of their own physical body. 78Later Rudolf Steiner spoke on this subject from many different angles especially to the workmen engaged on the Goetheanum building. See Rudolf Steiner on Nutrition and Health and Illness. In places where the old spiritual life still exists, there are those who have become healers by following a diet consisting exclusively of milk. They are quite clear that because they exclude everything else they gain certain healing forces within themselves, especially in the treatment of so-called mental illnesses. They have their special methods. They know for certain that when they only take milk they then develop quite definite forces. 79These are the words according to Mathilde Scholl. Marie Steiner's notes, on the contrary, report that the old healers ‘call up in themselves psychic means of healing mainly for psychic illnesses’.
Let us be clear about the intuition upon which this depends. This profound intuition can be understood in the following way. We know of a definite happening in human evolution. In the middle of the Lemurian Age the original human element divided into an ascending humanity and an animal kingdom. With this is bound up the fact that the forces which the Earth still had when it was united with the Moon also divided and a part of the same separated with the Moon from the Earth.
Let us think of the time when the Earth was still united with the Moon. Man then stood at quite a different stage of development. He already had warm blood, but was not yet divided into two sexes. It was with the separation of the Moon that this division is to be observed, so that when today you look up at the Moon you can say: It is your separation from the Earth that has brought it about that the power of human reproduction has divided into two parts. There was also a time on the Earth in which humanity was directly connected, was merged together with what was animal, and was also nourished by the animal. This kind of nourishment cannot be easily understood by those lacking the power of clairvoyance. We can however form a conception of this when we observe the normal manner of nourishment of mammals, which feed their young with their own milk. With the division of the power of reproduction this kind of nutrition also appeared. Earlier human beings could absorb food substance just as today the lungs take in the air. At that time threads of suction connected man with the whole of Nature around him, somewhat in the manner in which today the embryo is nourished in the body of the mother. This was the old form of nourishment on the Earth. A relic of this is the suckling of mammals, and milk is like the nourishment mankind took in Pre-Lemurian times. It is the old food of the Gods, the first form of nourishment on the Earth. At that time the nature of the Earth was such that everywhere this nourishment could be sucked from it. Thus milk is a product of the first form of human food. When the physical constitution of man was nearer to the divine he sucked milk out of his surroundings. Occultists know how man is connected with Nature.
The taking of milk is a transformation of a primeval form of nourishment. Man's first food was always milk. In the saying: ‘The milk of human kindness,’ this expression is used intentionally. We must ask: How was it originally brought about that milk, as it then was, could be sucked out of the Earth? The Moon forces in the Earth made this possible; like an all-pervading bloodstream they permeated the entire Earth. But when the Moon departed these forces could only be concentrated in special organs of living beings.
The occultist calls milk: the Moon-food. Sons of the Moon are those who nourish themselves on milk. The Moon brought about milk. It has been verified that the Oriental healers, who only live on milk, again absorb the original forces which were on the Earth when milk still flowed in streams. They said: These are the forces which brought mankind into existence. These productive forces must also be health bringing, so we ourselves gain the power to further health, when we only take milk and exclude everything else.
Let us transfer ourselves into the pre-Lemurian Age. Then the condition prevailed when milk was sucked out from the surroundings. A condition arose when milk became the general nourishment for mankind, and then the condition when nourishment was provided by the mother's milk. Before the time when milk was imbibed from Nature, there was an Age in which the Earth was still united with the Sun. There then existed a Sun nourishment. Just as milk has remained over from the Moon, products have also remained over which gained their maturity from the Sun. Everything irradiated with sunlight, blossoms and fruits of the plants, belongs to the Sun. Formerly their growth inclined towards the centre of the Earth when it was united with the Sun. They planted themselves into the Sun with their blossoms. When the Earth separated from the Sun they retained their old character: they again turned their blossoms towards the Sun. Man is the plant in reverse. That part of the plant which grows above the Earth has the same relationship to the Sun as milk has to the Moon, is therefore Sun-food. Side by side with milk nourishment there arose a kind of plant nourishment, namely from the upper parts of the plant. This was the second form of human food.
Thus when the Lemurian Age was approaching its end two human types faced each other: the one kind, the Sons of the Moon, who bred animals and nourished themselves from what the animals produced, from their milk; and a second kind who fed on plants, on the produce of the Earth.
This fact is portrayed in the story of Cain and Abel. 80Rudolf Steiner interpreted this allegory in different ways especially in lectures in 1904 and 1905 in connection with the Temple Legend. Die Tempel legende und die Goldene Legende. The only ones translated are Concerning the Temple Lost and Found 15, 22, 29 May, 5 June 1905, (Typescript). Abel is a shepherd, Cain a tiller of the soil; Abel represented the Moon race and Cain the Sun race. This allegory is very profound. Occult teaching reveals this in a somewhat concealed way. That divine being who gave man the possibility of becoming a Moon-being, nourishing himself with the transformed Moon food, was called by the Jewish people ‘Jehovah’. He was the nourishing force of Nature; this flowed towards Abel and he took it from his flocks. It was a falling away from Jehovah when man went over to the Sun-food. This is why Jehovah would not accept Cain's offering, because it was the offering of a Sun-food.
When we go back into the most ancient times we find no nourishment at all except milk, the food which man receives from living animals. This is the first form of nourishment as it still is now in the first weeks of life, and the Eastern healer relates this form of nourishment to the saying: ‘If you do not become as little children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ All these things have their significance.
Now we come from the Lemurian to the Atlantean Age, to the peoples who lived in the region of the present Atlantic Ocean. With the Atlanteans something new appears. They began for the first time to eat food that was not taken from what is living, but which came from what was dead. They consumed what had yielded up life. This is a very important transition in human evolution. Through the fact that human beings nourished themselves from the lifeless it became possible to make the transition to ego-hood. This feeding on what is dead is rightly connected with the desire for the ego. Man became independent through eating what is dead. He took the lifeless into himself in various forms, at first in the case of the developing hunting peoples who killed animals. Later, peoples arose who ate, not only what was ripened by the sun, but what ripened below the surface of the earth. This is just as lifeless as the dead animal. Everything living in the lowest part of animal nature, what is saturated with, blood, has turned away from the Moon-force. The Moon-force itself is still in milk, which is connected with the life-process, whereas man absorbs the forces of what is dying when he eats what is dead. Equally dead is that part of the plant that grows below the surface of the Earth, that is not shone upon and warmed through by the life principle of the Sun. Thus there is a correspondence between the root and the blood-saturated body of the animal.
Later another form of food was added which did not exist earlier. Man introduced into his food what was purely mineral, what he took out of the Earth, salt and so on. In his food therefore he passed through the three kingdoms. This is approximately the course which the Atlantean civilisation passed through in regard to nourishment. Firstly came the hunting peoples, then the farming peoples and thirdly the development of mining, which brought to light what is under the Earth.
All these things represent a turning away from the actual force of life or production. The dead animal is separated from life. That part of the plant which is in the soil is also separated from life. Everything of the nature of salt is the dead nature of the mineral kingdom, that remains over from the past.
Now we come to the fifth human race. The drinking of milk and the eating of fruit continued; other things were added as something new. In the Fifth Root-Race the most outstanding addition is what was gained from minerals, that is to say, by means of a chemical process. This is indicated in Genesis. What is it that was gained by means of a chemical process? There is an ascent in evolution, chemistry is applied to plants, to fruit. Out of this wine arose. This did not exist on Atlantis. Therefore the Bible tells us that Noah, the original ancestor of the post-diluvian race, became intoxicated by wine. By means of a mineral-chemical process something was produced from the plant kingdom. Wine then played a special role in the whole of the Fifth Root-Race. All initiates from the beginning of the Fifth Root-Race had taken over their traditions from the time of the Atlantean Race, when there was as yet no wine. The Indian, Persian and Egyptian initiates had no need of wine. What played a part in the sacred rituals was exclusively water.
With the Fifth Root-Race wine made its appearance, in which the mineral treatment of the plant had to play its part. The first three Sub-Races were repetitions of what came earlier. The Fourth Sub-Race was the first to develop the new, which was to appear in the Fifth Root-Race. A certain sacredness was claimed for wine. In this connection cults emerged in which wine played a part (the cult of Dionysos). A wine-god even appeared.
This had gradually been prepared for in the development of humanity. Wine had first made its appearance with the Persians. Here however wine was still something quite secular. Only gradually did it find its way into ritual, into the Dionysos-Cult. The Fourth Sub-Race is the one which first brought forth Christianity and also the one which seven hundred years earlier announced its mission through the Dionysian dramas. These first took wine into the sphere of the cult. This fact was portrayed in the most wonderful way by that evangelist who knew most about Christianity: St. John. He describes at the very beginning the transformation of water into wine, for Christianity came at first for the Fourth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. A teaching was needed which makes sacred what had to come about on the physical plane. Wine cuts human beings off from everything spiritual. Whoever takes wine cannot attain the spiritual. He can know nothing of Atma, Buddhi and Manas, of what is lasting, of what reincarnates. This had to be. The whole course of human evolution is a descent and a re-ascent. Man had to descend to the lowest point. And it was in order that he should come right down onto the physical plane that the Dionysian Cult made its appearance. The human body had to be prepared for materialism through the Dionysian cult; this was why a religion had to appear that changed water into wine. Formerly wine was strictly forbidden to the priests, they could experience Atma, Buddhi and Manas. Now a religion had to come about which led right down onto the physical plane, otherwise human beings would not have completely descended. This religion which led them downwards had to have an outer manifestation, a manifestation that was turned away from Atma, Buddhi and Manas, from reincarnation, and only drew attention to what was of a general nature. The next thing will be that wine is again turned into water.
If at an earlier time water had not changed into wine, man would not have received everything which is in this earthly vale. At the beginning of St. John's Gospel in the description of the changing of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, we are shown how Christ took into account what was there. But he also reckoned with the future, through the fact that for his part He inaugurated the Sacrament of the Last Supper. The Last Supper is the greatest symbol of the One who began this stream of civilisation with the Fourth Sub-Race. Being indeed the true ‘Son of Man’, who descended to the greatest depths in order to rise again with the greatest power, He had to hold to what was there and show mankind how the physical constitution of the race was connected with His mission. If humanity were to ascend again it was necessary for them to have a symbol leading once more from the dead to the living: Bread and Wine. In the occult sense, bread is what only comes about when the plant has been killed. Again, wine comes about when the plant has been killed, but then further treated with mineral substance. When one bakes the plant one does the same as when one kills the animal. When we draw wine from the plant kingdom in a certain sense we do the same as when we bleed the animal. Bread and wine are there as the symbol of the Fourth Race. What should develop in the future is a further ascent from plant to mineral nourishment. Bread and Wine must again be sacrificed, must be given up. Thus as Christ appeared in the Fourth Sub-Race he pointed to Bread and Wine: ‘This is my Body; this is my Blood.’ Here He wished to create a transition from animal nourishment to plant nourishment, the transition to something higher.
At that time there were two classes of human beings: Firstly those whose nourishment was flesh and blood; these are the pre-Christian people with whom Christ in no way concerned himself. Secondly those who only killed plants, who drew from plants their blood: people who drank wine and ate bread. With these He was still concerned; they are the forerunners of that humanity which will exist in the future.
The significance of the Last Supper is the transition from nourishment taken from the dead animal to nourishment taken from the dead plant. When our Fifth Sub-Race will have reached its end, in the Sixth Sub-Race, the Last Supper will be understood. Even before this it will be possible for the third form of nourishment to begin to make its appearance, the purely mineral. Man himself will then be able to create his nourishment. Now he takes what the Gods have created for him. Later he will advance and will himself prepare in the chemical laboratory the substances he will require.
So you see that all these things arise out of deep intuitions. When with the old Eastern peoples we find all kinds of instructions about what should be eaten, these are not actually laws, but stories: You should not expect the effect of substance to be other than they are.
That which Christ killed, which was actually sacrificed after he had partaken of the Last Supper, is the physical body. This dies. For the whole of humanity this will die. Towards the middle of the Sixth Root-Race, in the last third, there will no longer be a physical body. Then the entire human being will again be etheric. It will pass over into the finer substance. But this will not happen if man himself does not bring it about. For this he must first pass over to the nourishment which he prepares in the laboratory. So that man, in so far as he no longer takes his nourishment from Nature, but gains it from his own wisdom, from the God within him, so far does he also hasten. towards his own deification.
When man begins to nourish himself, the foundation will also be laid for something higher, that is, self-propagation. He will gradually create life for himself out of the mineral world.
This is the great progression of human evolution. What the natural scientist knows today is only a fraction of the great cycle.
With Saturn we come into the Mineral Age. In the Atlantean Epoch, through consuming what was dead, preparation was made for what was to bring about egoism. From the original Semites up to the Fifth Sub-Race, the human ego was very gradually developed. In the Sixth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race the ‘I’ will again reach a higher stage of development. This means that we stand before a new so-called spiral of existence. The previous spiral began in the time when the original Semites laid the foundation for the present Root-Race.
It is to the original Semite civilisation that we owe everything that has existed up till the present time. But now there begins a new impact with the Slavonic Peoples which will lead into the future. A kind of break with the past will be brought about by a people who will introduce a new impulse into the world. This is working as hidden spirituality out of the Russian peasantry. It will form the second part of the coming spiral. At the present time a certain culture is in process of destruction and a new one is being prepared. It is being prepared in the West and will come to fruition in the East. But the Old must activate the New. Wherever in our time we have new impulses these are germinal, awkward, unskillful. On the contrary the Old is clear-cut, but has a critical, destructive character. It was the Semitic Race which gave birth to the bearers of the Old Culture, who are the bearers of what spirals within the spiral.
All these have something Semitic about them. Examples: Lassalle, Marx. The spiral turns inwards. A continuation from here is not possible. Now a leap must be made as though from one shore to another, to the spirituality of the future culture of the East. This is a completely new impulse.
What belongs to the future is as yet unformed and naturally infiltrated by the old. Haeckel is a man who swims in midstream and is pulled by both spirals. The first part of Haeckel's ‘Weltritsel’ (Riddles of the World) 81See lecture 5.10.1905 Three Essays on Haeckel and Karma. is positive, elementary Theosophy: the second part is negative and altogether destructive. This is a double spiral (Wirbel).
We can also observe these contradictions in the Socialism of the East and the West. The Socialism of the West is a Socialism of production; that of the East is a Socialism of consumption. One who orders the social life in the direction of production reckons with possessiveness, with egoism. He who reckons with consumption turns his attention to what others require from him; he bears in mind his fellow men, reckons with brotherhood. The socialism of production — Marx, Lassalle — only bears the worker in mind, in so far as he is the producer. In the East the consumer is placed in the foreground, as for instance with Kropotkin, Bakunin, Herzen. You can see things building up to a climax if you follow Kropotkin. He had an immediate understanding of the principle of helpful interaction in the case of animals. The socialism of the West is entirely built up on strife. Thus do the currents of World evolution play into one another.