Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Popular Occultism
GA 94

X. Paths of Occult Training

8 July 1906, Leipzig

The human soul is capable of development, its present state may be changed by training, particularly by a training of the etheric body. People who precede others in their inner development are called Initiates. The path which they tread and teach is that of occult schooling.

Our root-race (5th post-Atlantean epoch), the Aryan, descends from the most highly developed sub-race of the Atlanteans, the original Semitic race, that lived approximately in the region of present-day Ireland. The island Poseidonis mentioned by Plato may be considered as a last remnant of descending Atlantis. Manu, a leader of the Atlanteans, guided the most mature men to the East. From there, they wandered into the region of present-day India. An ancient civilisation arose: This ancient Indian civilisation arose long before the time of the Vedas. It still had a dream-like, altogether inner character. The soul-constitution of the ancient Hindoo was the very opposite of our modern one. To him everything external and visible was Maya, Illusion; he saw reality only in Brahman and in what could be grasped by Brahman.

A second civilisation arose further west. This second culture is the ancient Persian one, whose inaugurator and chief guide was the great Zarathustra, or Zoroaster. The Persias were already able to harmonize spirit and matter and. began to work and to transform the physical world through the human spirit.

A third civilisation arose still further west, namely the Egyptian-Chaldean-Babylonian culture. Man's gaze turned still more towards the physical world, the external branches of science arose, with the study of the forces of Nature and of their laws.

From the very outset, this ancient primeval science revealed the following truths concerning our earth: The earth too is a being subjected to reincarnation. It passed through earlier stages and in future it will pass through further incarnations. One speaks of seven planetary conditions or Planets", through which the earth passes in its development. The names of these "Planets" are not identical with our present planets, but refer to past or future conditionof the earth. But these conditions are related to the planets after which they are named. The first incarnation of our earth is called. "Saturn". Then comes the "Sun", followed by Moon"; "Mars" and Mercury" are the designations for the first and second half of the earth's development. The conditions which will follow are "Jupiter" and "Venus", These seven incarnations of the earth are intimately connected with man's development and are therefore even mirrored in ordinary life; names of the days of the week.

Saturday - Saturn
Sunday - Sun
Monday - Moon
Tuesday - Zeus-day, Mardi - Mars
Wednesday - Mercredi, Mercury
Thursday - Wotan-day, Jupiter
Friday - Freya-day, Vendredi, Venus

The world of the stars is thus closely connected with ordinary life. The ancient Egyptians still arranged their whole civilisation in accordance with the stars, the affairs of State, agriculture, and so forth. The genius of the Dog-star, Sirius, was the one who indicated the inundations of the Nile, when that star appeared in a special constellation. A fourth epoch of culture is the Graeco-Latin one. It imprints on matter the Wisdom of things. This is how works of art arise. In the middle of this epoch falls the deed of Christ; the Mystery of Golgotha.

We ourselves live in the fifth epoch of culture, of the fifth root-race belonging to the fifth age of the earth. This is the Germanic-English-American culture; its chief task is the conquest of the physical plane. The task of the subsequent sixth epoch will be to lead external civilisation again to a more spiritual life. Its standard-bearer is Anthroposophy. The future task or civilisation as a whole consists in becoming reunited with the Spirit.

Every epoch has its particular tasks. Modern science has rejected the Ptolemaic world-system as erroneous and has adopted the world-systems of Galilei and Copernicus: but for the astral plane the Ptolemaic system is correct; for there one sets out from quite different perspectives. The sixth epoch of Culture still reposes as a seed in the East of Europe; it will be the carrier of the spiritual culture of the future.

A time will come when the human being will have overcome bi-sexuality. Lower forces, sexual instincts will change into higher ones. It is not a question of destroying any instinct, but of refining, ennobling them. Thus phantasy is a product of spiritual ennoblement, the result of already purified passions. When phantasy reaches a higher stage of development it leads to clairvoyant imagination. In future all human beings will be able to perceive as Initiates do now, the soul-content of their fellows. To-day the word can transmit spiritual experiences through the medium of the air; in the future spiritual beings will be produced through the word, and finally the word itself will become creative; then the human beings will be magicians of the word.

The indications on occult training come from a deeply-founded knowledge. There are two fundamental qualities which man must have; he must be able to bear what one calls great loneliness, and he must gain a certain fundamental mood of devotion. In regard to the first, the loneliness of a few minutes each day is meant, in the middle of the active life of daily living, minutes dedicated to concentration and meditation. Even this can give inner strength to the soul. At first there will be an inner feeling of emptiness and sadness; but this must be overcome. All people who achieved a great deal require this inner loneliness for their concentration. The second fundamental requirement is devotion, the capacity to look up to something with feelings of reverence and devotion. Those who wish to ascend to higher stages of development must first be below and feel that they are there below.

The occult training of India calls for a complete submission of the pupil to his Guru. The Rosicrucian Initiation is the right one for Modern people of the West.

Before that there was the Christian Initiation. All three kinds of Initiation are in reality the expression of one and the same initiation, but the forms of initiation must change with the times.