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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Nature and Spirit Beings
Their Effects in Our Visible World
GA 98

Part II

IV. Supersensible Beings and their Influence on Humans

15 January 1908, Munich

Last time 1Refer to the lecture dated 4 December 1907 — The Elemental Kingdoms of Nature we explored a theme that led us from our physical world to the higher worlds by means of what we call the elemental kingdoms. At that time we had the opportunity to look into the complicated nature of the human being and everything that is connected with it, how multiple threads lead upwards from the human being into the higher worlds. It is advisable to somewhat extend this topic today. This makes it necessary to make a brief comment beforehand.

If we would solely focus on the elemental facts, then we would not progress well in our theosophical contemplations. Many of the members would then have to refer back repeatedly to the same facts. Elemental things do not have to be understood solely in the way one hears about them when first encountering the theosophical world view. They can also be understood in a way that differs to a small extent from what a rational man nowadays would be able to accept. That is to say, a rational modern man would at most acknowledge a small amount of what rises above the physical world. There might be some people who would accept such things. But they say, “There can be no certainty about such things, although they are not completely inane.” However, this last remark will be thrown at what corresponds to “the higher planes” of theosophical illumination. This does not only mean that a higher grade of understanding is required to hear about and understand the higher regions, but all the feelings one can muster, after searching for knowledge for a long time during a life focussed on Theosophy, belong to it. In a way, more might be expected of people who have had Theosophy in their lives for a longer time. Those who are recent participants are asked to keep in mind that today’s topic is somewhat far from what is ordinarily being talked about. But it shouldn’t be too difficult to say to oneself, “Initially some of this will seem to me to be fantasy and dream-like, but after contemplating for longer along those lines, it will become less strange. It could be possible that a number of things only appear to me inane now, but once I have developed feelings about them, they will no longer appear to me to be so.

Afterwards and with objectiveness, we want to approach this topic which, for those who have advanced in their feelings, constitutes a higher chapter of the theosophical world view.

If we, with the open eyes of a clairvoyant, penetrate further and further into the higher worlds, into the astral world, the lower and higher Devachan, of which we have already talked often, we can see entities there who do not embody themselves into our physical world, who do not assume a physical body, but who are still complete entities like human beings here on our plane. If man ascends from the solid foundation of our physical world to the higher worlds, he has to distinguish between two different kinds of beings. One kind sends its revelations down into the physical plane. The other kind reveals itself either not at all on the physical plane, or so that this revelation is hardly comprehensible for ordinary observation.

Let us recall groups of animals that belong together, who are of similar shape and are related to each other. They have a group-soul—a group-Ego in the astral world. If we observe such a group-Ego on the astral plane, we will find that such a being is a self-contained entity, a personality, like the human being is a self-contained personality on the physical plane. The seer will meet the group-souls of animals there, just as he is meeting people here. They are individual, self-contained personalities on the astral plane, and only their revelations are sent down into the physical world. It is just as if I am separated from them by a wall with holes in it, so that fingers can be stuck through it. One could then say, “I see something belonging to a different entity.” This is just as if you are observing a lion, and the soul to which it belongs is as if it is behind a wall, and all lions are like fingers stretched through the wall. We meet these group-Egos as self-contained beings on the astral plane. They can be easily found in the physical world through their revelations, as one can see the organs that are stretched out into it.

But it is not the case with all astral beings that one can well observe what they reveal. If one’s senses are not heightened one would not even suspect the presence of these astral beings. Thus, man meets personalities on the astral plane, some of them he knows, but also some who appear unfamiliar to him, who he doesn’t know well from the physical plane, who, in a certain sense, are new to him. The astral plane is very populated and various entities live there that people would never have dreamed of. It is not proposed that these entities have no effect on the physical plane — on the contrary, they have a tremendous effect on human beings. We can only recognise the complexity of the inter-relationships when we look at all that impacts on these. We encounter beings who partly seem to be extraordinarily gentle, mild beings, who also live very peacefully amongst themselves. But we also meet others, who cannot really be characterised in this fashion, who have all sorts of mean characteristics and especially pose a danger when they are coming near humans.

The peculiar thing with these beings is that all our conceptions about spatial relationships that we have derived from the physical world, are being dismantled. If we do not want to live in a fantasy, we have to gradually immerse ourselves into concepts that are quite different from those that we usually have. What we encounter with these not very pleasant beings is, that they are not really present where we perceive them to be but are somewhere completely different. Their effects are in the astral world, but their home isn’t there.

A rough comparison would be like this; imagine a worker who lives in a suburb and every morning goes to work in the city. There he has his field of work, but he lives outside the city. This is a rough comparison. A better one would be the following, but this is also already quite fantasy-like; imagine the worker lives very far away from Munich, but has elastic arms, so that he can be hours away from his work and still can perform it. You will have to attain quite different spatial imaginations than those that you are familiar with from the physical plane. Any being of astral nature is able to live on another planet, and yet exert influence here on the astral plane. This is because the separation of spatial conditions no longer exists. The effects that it instigates, for example on other world bodies, are transmitted and appear on the Earth. We do not want to examine the spiritual world only with concepts that we have formed in the physical world, but we must force ourselves to form new concepts as well.

Those entities, about which I have said that they belong to the unappealing beings, are lunar beings. There they have their actual home. Clairvoyantly, you could observe the outstretched fingers here in Munich, but to observe the being itself you would have to travel for hours. You will find that such beings manipulate things here on Earth. But if you follow the ‘lines of force’ you will arrive at the Moon. That is where their homeland is. In fact, the Moon is populated in this way. Although these beings do not possess a dense corporeality such as our Earth beings have, they have a physicality, but it is so diluted, that on Earth it expresses itself as astral. They could be compared to dwarfish beings that will not grow taller than a six- to seven-year-old child. These beings have one characteristic that will appear to you as being very strange, but it is contingent upon the conditions of the Moon. However, if all worlds were alike, then there would be no need that so many of them should exist. This characteristic is that they can roar with infinite power. Their yelling instruments are extraordinarily well developed. At first, these beings make themselves known on the earthly astral plane. They are not always and everywhere present but are attracted by certain circumstances of our lives. The deeds of such beings can be found at certain locations, especially where mediums, somnambulists are, and where very specific things are present. There they penetrate with their effects and deeds and express themselves to the human being in a very unpleasant way. They can also be found where lower passions are unfolding.

On the other hand, the good-natured beings of the astral plane can be found where particularly humanitarian passions run free. In any charitable organisation, where real charity lives in the souls, there is stimulated that which draws such beings into the circle of humanity. In this way man really attracts certain beings by way of his deeds, and due to the characteristics that radiate out from him. Thus, he creates a connection to far away celestial bodies, that comes about through the manifestation of the deeds of the beings from other worlds and human souls.

The beings about whom I have talked last, which are gentle and mild, also have their home on a different planet, namely on Mars. From there they exert their influence onto the Earth. These beings work thus, so to speak, by striding across the vastness of space with their deeds. All real effects, except physical ones, from one planet to another, are based on the relationships between the inhabitants of those world bodies. So you can see that we will find very odd comrades when we are rising up in to the higher worlds. It doesn’t help to say, “Spiritual worlds exist ...” and so on, instead man must learn to know those beings.

If we now ascend to even higher worlds with clairvoyant ability, we will reach the lower Devachan plane, the lower spiritual world. This too penetrates our physical and astral world. There we will find the group-Egos of the plants. You already know that the plants that cover the Earth, are combined in large groups, that correspond to one group-Ego. These group-Egos can only be found on the Devachan plane, but they are at first located in the middle of the Earth, where all of the plant group-Egos have their centre. If you imagine in this way the whole Earth, where the different plant group-Egos permeate each other, you will see it as one vast organism. Like the human organism the sum of the plant group-Egos experiences joy and sadness, pleasure and pain. We can say exactly how pleasure and pain are present in this Earth-organism. We know that picking plants creates pleasure, yes sensuality, a feeling of well-being, of comfort—a comfort that can be compared to what a cow feels when the calf is suckling the milk. On the other hand, ripping out roots hurts the Earth-organism, causes it discomfort. You can see now, how one can tell in detail, how the beings in the Devachan world feel. Whatever we are doing here on Earth, these are not sober facts, but whenever we are doing this or that, we are causing pleasure or pain, joy or suffering, to some being. When the reaper cuts through the stalks, a whiff of pleasure drifts across the fields that the plant-soul feels. In this way, one who has a feel for these things walks across the Earth and learns to empathise with the spiritual beings, who live in the higher worlds, and who once again only send their organs into the physical world.

But once one reaches the Devachan regions, one will encounter other beings, who do not so openly affect the physical world, but who express themselves much more covertly. Once again one has to differentiate between two kinds of beings. On one side there are extraordinarily gentle, mild, harmony-emanating beings, and on the other one there are predatory-like beings, who are constantly fighting with each other. These too have their homeland on a different planet and only express their effects on the Devachan plane. They are rooted on Venus—they can be found there as inhabitants of this planet if one visits it with spiritual sight. Thus, one can make new acquaintances in each world, if one begins on the physical plane with what one perceives as dense matter, and then rises up to the origin of those beings. If you start from whole groups of plants, and groups of animals, you will arrive at the plant- and animal-souls—but then you will also be able to find other beings who do not express themselves in a dense sensory way on the physical plane.

Instead of starting with plants or animals, one could also begin with minerals or stones, and there one finds the beings in the higher Devachan. They also experience pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. If the clairvoyant observes a quarry, where workers crumble and chip away at the stones, then he can see how the mineral-soul experiences something. One must not come to conclusions by applying analogies and allegories. Smashing with hammers doesn’t cause hurt. A whiff of well-being emanates whilst the stones are smashed up. A feeling of pain exists, if you want to reassemble the separated rock masses to stones again. It will inflict pain if you want to crystallise a new whole from the scattered masses. One can learn to empathise with and share in the experience of the mineral kingdom together with the Ego of the minerals.

Once again, we learn to know entities, that in the physical world do not express themselves in such a rough and gross way. Again, we want to observe two different ‘species’ that appear to be the most noticeable ones. They are the ones who have a strange spiritual constitution. They are difficult to describe, but you will get an idea of them if you imagine an extraordinarily talented being who, to make an invention, wouldn’t have to think a lot but would simply through its perceptions be prompted to redesign an object in some ingenious way. These are beings who live, in a certain way, in percipience, without thinking as such playing a major role for them. They are very odd beings of extraordinary ingenuity, which is entirely based on perception, not on thinking. Opposite them are other beings, who are as unlikeable, as the former are likeable. These other beings can be characterised as also living in the world of percipience, also do not think a lot, but the especially seek out perceptions that are appalling and abhorrent for us humans. They derive enjoyment from rummaging around in such perceptions. These entities have their home on Saturn, just as the others, previously mentioned ones, are at home on Moon, Mars and Venus.

Here now we have a perspective of the higher beings. We could ask, what do we have to do with all those beings? It could seem like idle curiosity to concern ourselves with them. But they concern us a great deal. Because although in the physical world they do not announce themselves in an obvious way, they are expressing themselves through their work, in a way that is extremely important for man. These beings guide us as if automatically to one of their influences that is quite normal for us human beings. In a way what has been said about somnambulists etc., is an exception. However, these beings have also very normal effects on humans, on some more than on others. What type of effects they have, steps before our soul when we look, in a particular way, at a person’s constitution, on the juices streaming through him. Different kinds of juices are streaming through the human being.

Let us first look at the nutritive juice—the “chyle”. Food will be absorbed out of a variety of ingredients, gets digested, passes through the intestines and is forced through the intestinal walls by the organs located there, to then be used appropriately for the reconstruction of the body. This is one current permeating the human being. It has its source in the nutritional intake. Another type of juice is the lymph, a liquid that runs through those vessels that partly run together with the blood vessels collecting in the abdomen, but that also streams through the whole organism in a particular way. The lymphatic vessels have a characteristic at which we will look in detail another time, namely that all those lymphatic vessels that run from the left side of the trunk to the head, join together and pour into the left collarbone cavity. Only the streams coming from the right part of the body are separated from them. There is an underlying occult significance to this.

A third juice is the blood, that in turn streams through the human organism in the most diverse way. Someone who only looks at the human being with materialistic senses will see in these substances, blood and so on, bodies that can be chemically analysed and that consist of various chemical parts. But whoever looks with seeing eyes at the issue, knows that spirit is everywhere, and that all matter is based on spirit. Whatever you might see—gold that streams through the Earth in veins; mercury that settles itself in drops—is an expression of something spiritual. And so, one who looks at the three juices with spiritual eyes, knows that little can be said by examining the chemistry, and so on, of those juices. Spiritual entities stream through the organism with those juices. With the blood spiritual entities stream through the human body, likewise with lymph and chyle. Only someone who recognises these as an expression of spiritual entities, truly knows these juices. From all sides, from above and below, and so on, spirits that exist in the world and in the environment stream through us—only someone who knows this is able to correctly place the human being on this Earth organism, in this earthly setting.

Only one of the three juices mentioned is a more or less independent expression of the human I/self. This is the blood. The blood is the physical expression of the I, so that one can say; with the blood pulsating through the body, the human I streams through the body. But only to a certain extent, and this varies from one human to the other, is the human being master of his organism in relation to his blood.

This is not so with the lymph. Our own I does not live in the lymph, but other beings do, astral beings, who have their home on Moon and Mars. Whilst the lymph is being composed and decomposes, those beings penetrate into the human being, and when the lymph flows through him, the lines of force, the deeds of these beings, flow through him. Just imagine that the I has a purifying influence on the astral body. To the same extent to which the human being becomes master of the astral body, he also becomes master over the spirits or their effects, that flow with the lymph through the body. Thus, by reformation, by purification of his astral body, man increasingly restricts the arbitrariness of these beings. You see, what you are spiritually doing by ensuring that the intellectuality is developed, and that the ethic becomes purer and nobler, and the aesthetic feelings become purified—this changes the effects that emanate from those above-mentioned beings of the astral plane. They are losing the terrain within you. The higher development consists in man becoming progressively an expression of his own being.

Similarly to how astral beings pervade us and stream through us with the lymph, Venus beings penetrate the nutritional juices. These are not controlled by lower entities, but by higher beings. A higher power is necessary to make even the composition of the chyle an expression of one’s own personality. If you remember that these beings are the comrades of the plant-souls, the plant-Egos, then you will see that these beings essentially have their point of attack in the kind of food people are eating. Thus, people differ in regard to races and nations in the various areas of the globe, for the reason that they eat different kinds of food. And if the human being gradually learns to emancipate himself from the arbitrariness of nutrition, when he chooses the food based on the principles of spiritual knowledge, then he slowly gains control over the nutritional juice and thus emancipates himself from these beings that influence him from the outside. Therefore, so much importance is attached to the food products that affect the human being in various ways. What you are eating contains the power of certain beings, and by gaining influence over them, one will become the master of his own organism. Indeed, one expels spirits by whom one was possessed before, by consciously choosing what one eats.

In fact, the human being is in a certain way only master over his blood. But he could also reign over other juices. Try to recognise how man through this or other food attracts these beings, bad entities, then you will understand the importance of this for education, medicine and other sciences. To make progress it does not suffice to merely say, “The human being needs to perfect himself.” One also has to go into the details of how this perfection can be achieved.

Beings from Saturn are influencing another area of our existence. Because they live entirely within the outer perception, they have an influence on our outer perception. It is not irrelevant if a person focusses passionately with his eyes and senses onto something disgusting, something lowly, or if he, with a certain attraction, focusses his eyes on the beautiful and noble in this world. Depending on this, either good or evil Saturn beings win influence over this person.

As it is the case with the nutritional juice and the lymph, likewise beings sneak into him with the passions with which a human being soaks up sensory impressions. It is never without side-effects when you direct your gaze to sensory impressions. You are taking in deeds of spiritual beings with every glance. If you look at a beautiful, noble picture, then not only that which is visible streams into you, but also spiritual beings enter together with what you see. If you listen to sensual music, the spiritual power of saturnine beings also streams into you. This gives you a measure of how complicated life is, as soon as you are penetrating into the spiritual foundations.

Especially strong is the influence of those sense impressions that we call smell. With smells people absorb a vast number of effects of spiritual entities. You can consciously affect a human being by using odours to convey the workings of abominable beings. Many a perfume would not be used if one would be aware of the effect it has on one’s fellow human beings.

In the intrigues of some princely houses 2Presented in more detail in GA102-01, The influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man. It concerns Draga Maschin, Queen of Serbia, who was killed together with her husband, Alexander I, in 1903. not only words have played a part, but there have been times when personalities understood it well to beguile their fellow human beings through perfume and aromatic effects.

The most important things in life elude the senses, and man lives unconsciously, without suspecting the influence of spiritual beings to whom he is exposed at all times.