Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit
1. The origin of dramatic art in European cultural life. The Mystery Of Eleusis
18 August 1911, Munich
The opening words of our festival this year were put into the mouth of Hermes, 1Dr. Steiner is referring to the opening words of Edouard Schuré's The Mystery of Eleusis, a performanee of which in the German language together with performances of the first two of Dr. Steiner's own Mystery Plays had preceded the giving of these lectures. the messenger of the gods, and in view of what our own Spiritual Science aspires to be, we may perhaps look upon this as symbolic. For to us Spiritual Science is not just a source of ordinary worldly knowledge, but a ‘mediator’; through it we may indeed rise up into those super-sensible worlds whence according to the ancient Greeks it was Hermes who brought down the spark which could kindle in men the strength to ascend thither. And taking my start from these words of Hermes, I may perhaps be allowed to add to what has resounded during the last few days out of the performances themselves some observations linking them with the lectures that are to follow.
These performances have not been given merely as a sort of embellishment of our festival; they should be regarded as deeply integral part of the annual celebration which has been held here for many years, and as the focus of our spiritual-scientific activity here in Munich. This year we have been able to open with a renewal of the drama which is the origin of all western dramatic art, a drama which we can only really grasp by looking beyond the whole historical tradition of dramatic art in the West. This also makes it a worthy introduction to a spiritual-scientific festival, for it takes us back into ages of European cultural development when the several activities of the human mind and soul which today we find separated as science, art and religion were not yet sundered from one another. It carries us back in feeling to the very first beginnings of European cultural development, to times when a unified culture, born directly out of the deepest spiritual life, fired men with religious fervour for the highest that the human soul can reach; it was a culture pulsating with religious life, indeed it may be said that it was religion. Men did not look upon religion as a separated branch of their culture, but they still spoke of religion, even when their minds were directly concerned with the practical affairs of everyday life. That very concern itself was raised to the level of a religion, for religion shed its rays over every experience which man could have. But this archetypal religion was inwardly very strong, very powerful in its particular workings. It did not confine itself to a vaguely exalted religious response to great powers of the universe; its inspiration was so strong that some of those particular workings took forms which were none other than those of art. Religious life overflowed into bold forms, and religion was one with art. Art was the daughter of religion, and still lived in the closest ties of kinship with her mother. No religious feeling in our own day has the intensity which imbued those who took part in the ancient Mysteries and saw religious life pouring itself into the forms of art.
But this archetypal religion and its daughter, art, were at the same time so purified, so lifted into the refining spheres of etheric spiritual life that their influence even brought out in human souls something of which today we have a faint reflection, an abstract reflection, in our science and knowledge. When feeling became more intense, became filled with enthusiasm for what as religion overflowed into artistic form, then knowledge of the gods and of divine things, knowledge of spirit-land, was kindled in the soul. Thus knowledge was the other daughter of religion, and she too lived in close family relationship with the archetypal mother of all culture.
If we ask ourselves what we are hoping to achieve with today's feeble beginning ... the answer is that we would rekindle in mankind something like a unification, a harmony, between art and science. For only thus can the soul, fired by feeling, strengthened by the best in our will, imbue every aspect of human culture with that singleness of vision which will lead men up again into the divine heights of his existence, while. at the same time it permeates the most commonplace actions of everyday life. Then what we call profane life will became holy, for it is only profane because its connection with the divine source of all existence has been forgotten.
The festival we have organised this year is meant to be a direct expression of this feeling, which simply must enliven us if the truths of Spiritual Science are to enter into the depths of human souls. That is why it is in accordance with spiritual science, in the literal meaning of those words, that we should look upon The Mystery of Eleusis as a kind of sun which, shedding its rays in our hearts, can arouse a true perception of what Spiritual Science is.
What is generally known as drama, what is recognised in the West as dramatic art and reached its culmination in Shakespeare, is a current of spiritual life originating in the Mystery; it is a secularisation of the ancient Mystery. If we trace it back to its origin, we come to something like The Mystery of Eleusis.
We already had all this in mind some years ago, when we produced this
very drama at the Munich Congress of the Theosophical Society. I may
perhaps mention an incident which may throw light upon our aims, for
day-to-day happenings do have a dose bearing upon the spiritual ideal
which hovers before our minds. When some time ago we were beginning to
prepare for the production of The Children of Lucifer, 2Les Enfants de
Lucifer, Edouard Schuré, (Paris, Perrin et Cie, 1922).
English translation, The Children of Lucifer by B. Kemmis, (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935)
The production to which Dr. Steiner refers was from a German translation by Marie von Sivers put into free verse by Rudolf Steiner, but not published until 1955, under the title Lucifer, Die Kinder des Lucifer. (Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.) I remembered something which I think greatly influenced the course of our Middle European spiritual-scientifie development. When I myself judged that the time had come for me to bring my spiritual work into connection with what we may call Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science, it was a discussion about this play, The Children of Lucifer, which gave me the opportunity I needed. Following upon that talk we allowed our thoughts about our work to pass through a period of development of seven years; but the seed which had been laid in our souls with the words spoken about The Children of Lucifer meanwhile developed silently in our hearts, according to the law of the seven-yearly rhythm. At the end of the seven years we were ready to produce a German version of The Children of Lucifer at the opening of our annual festival at Munich.
In today's talk, which is to serve as an introduction to the lectures which are to follow, I may perhaps be allowed to link this thought with another, which springs from the depths of my heart, out of deepest conviction. The kind of spiritual life which in future will increasingly influence western minds will have to be cast in a specific form. Today it is possible to think of Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science in various ways. Men do not always think in accordance with the necessities of existence, in accordance with the evolutionary forces at work in man, but they think in conformity with their own will, their own sentiment; thus one person may regard this, the other that, as the right ideal. There are many ideals of Anthroposophy, according to the dispositions of men's hearts, according as their sentiments and feelings incline them this way or that. True occultism at a somewhat higher level shows us however that such hankerings after an ideal are always something connected with our own personality. Ideals of this kind are really only what one or another would like to think of as Anthroposophy, something which his own peculiar sentiment and the make-up of his intellect causes him to believe the best. Anthroposophy is not the only thing about which men form their opinions out of feelings and personal motives, but Spiritual Science must learn not to take what springs from our own personal feeling as the standard of measurement. As persons we are always liable to err, however much we may believe ourselves to be cherishing an unselfish ideal. We can only form an opinion about what has to happen in human evolution when we entirely suppress our own personal feelings about the ideal, and no longer ask what we ourselves consider the best way to treat of Spiritual Science. For we can only come to a true opinion if we let the necessities of life speak, quite regardless of our own inclinations, regardless of what particular expression of spiritual life we prefer; we can only arrive at a true opinion if we ask ourselves how European civilisation has taken shape in recent centuries, and what are its immediate needs. If we put the question to ourselves without bias, we get an answer which is twofold. Firstly, if European cultural life is not to dry up, to become a ‘waste land’, the great, the overwhelming need — shown by all that is happening in the life of the mind today — is Spiritual Science. Secondly, it needs a spiritual science suited to the conditions which have developed through the centuries, not in any one of us, but in Europe as a whole. But we shall only be able to give them a spiritual science which meets these conditions if we ask ourselves unselfishly what it is that Europeans have learnt to think and to feel during recent centuries, and what it is that they are thirsting for as a means for the spiritual deepening of their lives.
If we put this question to ourselves, then all the signs of the times show us that it cannot be a continuation of the occultism, the mysticism, which has been known for thousands of years, and which has been rich in blessing for diverse peoples. The continuation of this mystic lore as it has always been known, as it has been handed down by history, could not meet the needs of European civilisation. We should be committing a sin against European civilisation and everything connected with it if we were merely to immerse ourselves in ancient occultism; we should be putting our personal preferences above the necessities of existence. However great our personal inclination for some form or other of ancient occultism, let us suppress this, and ask ourselves what it is that men need in the conditions which have come about through centuries of development. The signs of the times make it equally clear that what we call modern science, however high may be the esteem in which it is held today, however great may be the authority which it enjoys, is like a tree that has passed its prime and will bear little fruit in future. When I say that what today is known as physical science is a withering branch in humanity's mental and spiritual heaven, I know that it will be thought a bold assertion, but it is at any rate not an idle one. Science has rendered good service; to throw light upon the conditions of its existence, as I have just done, is not to disparage it.
Neither ancient occultism nor modern science will serve to satisfy the deepest need of the humanity of the future, the need to establish a link between the human soul and spiritual revelation. That is what hovered before us, as if inscribed in letters of gold, when we began some years ago to develop the spiritual life on broader lines. And if I may be allowed to say something which is as much a matter of feeling as of conviction, I would say that, considered objectively and without bias in relation to the question I have raised, the work of our esteemed friend Edouard Schuré, Les Grands Initiés, 3First edition 1889 (Perrin et Cie. Paris). English edition, The Great Initiates, translated by Fred Rothwell in two volumes,. (Rider & Co. London) (o.p.). American edition translated by Gloria Raspberry, 1961. (Rudolf Steiner Publications Ltd., West Nyack, New York). steering as it does a middle course between purely historical occultism, which can be read up anywhere from historical records, and the academic learning which is a withering branch of civilisation, is an extremely important literary beginning with the kind of spiritual life which will be needed all over Europe in the future. It is a most significant beginning towards the apprehension of true Anthroposophy, an Anthroposophy which observes life directly, sees how spiritual life at present is a slow trickle, sees how the stream will widen. I pointed this out at the commencement of my lectures here a year ago. 4Lecture-Course translated into English under the title of Genesis: Secrets of the Bible Story of Creation, (Anthroposophical Publishing Co. London). Anyone who can to some extent see into the future, anyone who sees what that future demands of us, knows that with Les Grands Initiés a first literary step has been taken along that golden middle road between ancient occultism and modern, but decadent, science, and that this beautiful and important beginning which has already been made by that book for all European countries, will assume ever further forms. The book is coloured by a turn of thought which does not impress us sympathetically just because of our own personal preferences for this or that form of spiritual science, but because we see that the necessities of European civilisation, making themselves felt ever more insistently, demanded that such a literary beginning should be made. If you know this book, you know how impressively it calls attention to the Mystery of Eleusis, a subject which Schuré subsequently developed further in Sanctuaires d'Orient. 5Sanctuaires d'Orient, par Edouard Schuré. (Perrin et Cie, Paris).
What kind of thoughts are aroused in us by these indications — anthroposophical in the best sense — which we find in Les Grands Initiés, and by the reconstruction of the Mystery of Eleusis? If we look back to the original sources of European artistic and spiritual life, we find there two figures, figures which have a deep significance for a truly theosophical grasp of the whole of modern spiritual life — two figures which stand out as symbolical presentations of great spiritual impulses. To those who can look below the surface of the spiritual life of today these figures appear like two beams of prophetic light: they are Persephone and Iphigenia. With these two names we are in a way touching upon what are really two souls in modern man, two souls whose union is only achieved through the severest ordeals. In the course of the next few days we shall see more clearly how Persephone arouses in our hearts the thought of an impulse to which we have often alluded in our spiritual-scientific studies. Once upon a time it was given to mankind to acquire knowledge in a way different from that of today. From earlier lectures we know of an ancient clairvoyance which in primeval times welled forth in human nature, so that clairvoyant pictures took shape in men's souls, as inevitably as hunger and thirst and the need for air arise in their bodies — pictures filled with the secrets of the spiritual worlds. This was the primeval gift of seership which man once possessed, and of which he was so to say bereft by the gradual birth in him of knowledge in its later form. The ancient Greek partly felt that in his own time the rape of ancient clairvoyance by modern knowledge was already taking place and partly foresaw that this would happen more and more in the future — a future which has become our own present. He thus turned his gaze upwards to that divine figure who released in the human soul directly out of elemental Nature the forces which led to that ancient clairvoyance. He looked up to that goddess called Persephone, who was the regent of this old clairvoyance bound up with human nature. And then this ancient Greek said to himself: ‘In place of this ancient clairvoyance another culture will become more and more widespread, a civilisation directed by men themselves and born of them, born of men to whom the ancient clairvoyance is already lost.’
In the civilisation which the ancient Greek associated with the names of Agamemnon, Odysseus, Menelaus, we find the external civilisation which we know today, untouched by forces of clairvoyance. It is a civilisation whose knowledge of nature and her laws is assumed to be as useful for finding a philosophical basis for the secrets of existence as it is for making armaments. But men no longer feel that this kind of mental culture requires a sacrifice — they no longer feel that in order to achieve it they must offer sacrifice in a deeper sense to the higher spiritual Beings who direct the super-sensible worlds. These sacrifices are in fact being made, but men are as yet too inattentive to notice them. The ancient Greek did notice that this external culture which he traced back to Agamemnon, Menelaus, Odysseus, involved sacrifice; it is the daughter of the human spirit who in a certain way has to be sacrificed ever anew. And he represented this perpetual sacrifice demanded by intellectual culture as the sacrifice of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon. Thus to the question raised by the sacrifice of Iphigenia there resounds a wonderful answer! If nothing but that external culture which can be traced back, as the ancient Greek understood it, to Agamemnon, Menelaus, Odysseus, were given to mankind, then under its influence men's hearts, the deepest forces of souls, would have withered away. It is only because mankind retained the feeling that it should make perpetual sacrifice and should single out, set apart from this general intellectual culture, rites which, not superficially, but in a more profound sense, may be called sacerdotal — it is only because of this that this intellectual civilisation has been saved from drying up completely. Just as Iphigenia was offered to Artemis as a sacrifice, but through her sacrifice became a priestess, so in the course of bygone millennia certain elements of our intellectual civilisation have had repeatedly to be cleansed and purified and given a sacerdotal-religious character in sacrifice to the higher gods, so that they should not cause the hearts and souls of men to wither up. Just as Persephone stands for the leader of the ancient clairvoyant culture, so Iphigenia represents the perpetual sacrifice which our intellectuality has to make to the deeper religious life.
These two factors have already been alive in European cultural life from the time of ancient Greece right up to the present time — from the time when Socrates first wrested scientific thinking from the old unified culture, right up to the time when poor Nietzsche, in travail of his soul, had recourse to the separation of the three branches of culture — science, art and religion — and lost his balance as a result. Because forces are already working towards the reunification of what for millenia has had to be separated, because the future already lights up the present with its challenge, the present age, through its representatives — men inspired by the Spirits of the Age — has had to realise anew the two impulses just characterised, and to connect them with the names of Persephone and Iphigenia. And if one realises this, it brings home to one the significance of Goethe's action in immersing himself in the life of ancient Greece and expressing in the symbol of Iphigenia what he himself felt to be the culmination of his art. When he wrote his Iphigenia, which in a way brings to symbolic expression the whole of his work, Goethe made his first contact with the spiritual riches of European antiquity. Out of that deed of Goethe's there resounds to us today the secret thought: ‘If Europe is not to be blighted by her intellectuality we must remember the perpetual sacrifice which intellectual culture has to make to religious culture.’ The whole compass of intellectual civilisation furnishes for the higher spiritual life an atmosphere as harsh as King Thoas in Iphigenia. But in the figure of Iphigenia herself we meet gentleness and harmony, which do not hate with those that hate but love with those who love. Thus when Goethe was inspired in presenting his Iphigenia to Europe to testify to the perpetual sacrifice of intellectuality it was a first reminder of all-important impulses for the spiritual life of Europe. We may indeed feel that his soul was enlightened by the spiritual inspirers of modern times.
A second reminder was needed, for which we have had to wait a little longer — one which points to an age when the old clairvoyant culture was still alive, the culture associated with the name of Persephone. In that chapter of Les Grands Initiés which rises to a certain climax in the description of the Mystery of Eleusis, one again feels inspirers of European spiritual life working to conjure up out of the glimmering darkness of the age a growing recognition that the old clairvoyant culture represented by Persephone must light up again. One pole of modern European spiritual life was given in the revival of the ancient Iphigenia-figure; the other pole comes with the recreation of the Mystery of Eleusis by Edouard Schuré. And we must regard it as one of the most fortunate of the stars that rule our efforts, that this performance of The Mystery of Eleusis is allowed to shed its light upon our anthroposophical life in the presence of its recreator, who has now for several years rejoiced us by his presence.
What I have just said is only partly a matter of feeling. From another aspect it is a thought springing from the most sober and objective conviction. If I have expressed this conviction today, it is because I agree with Goethe that ‘only what proves fruitful is true’ — a pearl of wisdom for our whole pursuit of knowledge. If there is any sign of fruitfulness in what we have been doing for years past, we may acknowledge that the thinking which has inspired our work for many years, the thinking which has always been present with us as a hidden guest, as a comrade in arms, has shown itself to be true by its fruitfulness. In the next few days, when we come to talk about ‘Wonders of Nature, Ordeals of the Soul and Revelations of the Spirit’ we shall have much to say in illustration of our theme which will have a bearing upon what I have just said about Iphigenia and Persephone. Here let me preface that as Iphigenia is the daughter of Agamemnon — one of those Heroes to whom the ancient Greek traced the cult of its intellectuality in its widest sense, with the practical and aggressive forms it takes — so Persephone is the daughter of Demeter. Now we shall see that Demeter is the ruler of the greatest wonders of Nature, she is an archetypal form which points to a time when the life of the human brain was not yet cut off from the general bodily life, a time when nutrition by external foodstuffs and thinking through the instrument of the brain were not separate functions. When the crops were thriving in the fields it was still felt at that time that thinking was alive there, that hope was outpoured over the fields and penetrated the activity of Nature's wonder like the song of the lark. It was still felt that along with material substance spiritual life is absorbed into the human body, becomes purified, becomes spirit — as the archetypal mother, out of whom what is born elementally becomes Persephone in the human being himself. The name of Demeter points us back to those far distant times when human nature was so unified that all bodily life was at the same time spiritual, that all bodily assimilation went hand in hand with spiritual assimilation, assimilation of thought. Today we can only learn what things were like then from the Akashic record. It is from the Akashic record that we learn that Persephone is the true daughter of Demeter. It is there too that we learn that Eros, another figure who appears in the reconstruction of the Mystery of Eleusis, represents the means whereby, according to Greek sentiment, the forces of Demeter in the course of human development have become what they are today. When Demeter stands before us on the stage, with the stern admonition of a primeval force, for ever and as if by enchantment permeating all human feeling, the whole marvel of human nature is immediately conjured up before our souls. Something stands before us there in Demeter which speaks throughout all ages of time as an impulse of human nature. When Demeter is on the stage we feel it streaming towards us. She is the mightiest representative of ‘chastity’ — as today we abstractly call it — that archetypal force with all its fruitful efficacy when it is not mere asceticism, but embraces humanity's archetypal love. On the other hand what speaks to us in the figure of Eros? It is budding, innocent love. Eros is its ruler ... that is what the Greeks felt.
Now the drama unfolds. What are the forces which are at work with supporting life-giving power throughout the whole drama from beginning to end? Chastity, which is at the same time archetypal love in all its fruitfulness, in its interplay with budding, innocent love. This is what holds sway in the drama, just as positive and negative electricity hold sway in the everyday wonders of Nature. Thus throughout the space into which this pregnant archetypal drama is poured, there may be more or less consciously sensed something of the forces which have been at work since the beginning of time and which still permeate our modern life; though those archetypal currents, the Demeter current and the Eros current, will in the future become more and more absorbed in a way by the tendencies represented in the three figures Luna, Astrid and Philia. This will be further elucidated in the next few days. We shall be shown a living relationship between the currents which are those of man's origin — Demeter and Eros with Persephone between them—and on the other hand something which dawns in us today in a form as yet impersonal; it is like a spiritual conscience which as yet calls to us from the unknown and does not venture upon the stage; it is only a voice from without. I am speaking of the three figures Luna, Astrid, Philia, the true daughters of Persephone.
I have tried to put before you the feelings which prompted us to give pride of place, at the opening of our studies, to The Mystery of Eleusis in its reconstruction by Edouard Schuré. No doubt the training you have received in recent years will enable you to view our present performances of this important work in the way which should come naturally to us in the anthroposophical Movement. Today it is frightfully easy to taunt us with amateurishness in comparison with what we are given as dramatic art in the world outside; it is easy to point out the mistakes which we all make if with our feeble capacities we tackle such a great work as this Mystery of Eleusis. But we are not trying, or at any rate we ought not to be trying, to represent things in the same manner as is done on the ordinary modern stage. Those today who already have some inkling of the impress our special kind of spiritual knowledge should give to art will know that we are aiming at something quite different. They will also know that performances which will only be able to achieve a certain perfection in the future must make a beginning in all their imperfection in the present. We are not called upon to compete with ordinary stage performances. We do not dream of such a thing, and it is a mistake even to make such comparisons. Let the dramatic critic say what he will about other stage performances, he is a mere amateur as regards what Spiritual Science is aiming at, what it must aim at, even in the realm of art.
Those of you who can share the profound gratitude which I feel every time at the opening of our Munich festivals to all who have helped to bring them about will not think it inappropriate or too personal if again this year I express my thanks to them at the close of this introductory lecture. Not only have many hands been needed to make this festival possible, but it has needed souls who have already permeated themselves with what can be the finest fruit of a life of spiritual effort — spiritual warmth. This spiritual warmth is never without effect and always brings a gradually developing skill in its appropriate sphere. Thus, each time we set to work — first the small group of those here in Munich who are the forerunners of the larger community which then gathers here — we find ourselves filled with spiritual warmth, and, even when to begin with everything seems to go very badly, we have faith that our work must succeed. And it does succeed to the full extent of our capacities. This undertaking proves to us that spiritual forces hold sway in the world, that they help us, that we may entrust ourselves to them. And if sometimes it seems as if things are not going well, then we say to ourselves that if we are not successful it is because the powers behind our activity do not intend us to succeed, and not to succeed would then be the right thing. Thus we do what we have to do without giving a thought to the sort of performance which will finally emerge. We think of the spiritual forces, to which we too in the sense of our own time are making our puny sacrifice — the sacrifice of modern intellectuality to the religious deepening of the human heart. It is beautiful to see what spiritual warmth there is in that small group, wonderful to see how each individual in undertaking his or her by no means easy sacrificial task actually experiences something spiritual. It is a fraternal offering which those who participate in it carry out for us. Those who understand this will share the grateful feeling to which I now give expression.
Our thanks of course go in the first place to the recreator of the Mystery of Eleusis, and then to my numerous fellow-workers here in Munich. I remember especially those who throughout many years of work in the service of Spiritual Science, permeated with loving spiritual warmth, have felt the call to unite their knowledge and experience with what we here are trying to do. Let me first gratify a heartfelt wish by alluding to the two ladies who have co-operated with me in quite a special way, Fräulein Stinde and Countess Kalckreuth, so that today the beautiful harmony between their spiritual thinking and their purely technical work shines upon us everywhere in this Munich festival. Permit me to mention our good friend Adolf Arenson, who in this as in previous years has composed the music for all three plays. I leave it to your own hearts to judge of these compositions. I myself regard it as a fortunate destiny that our work should have been completed by the musical compositions of our dear friend Arenson. Further I feel it to be a particular mark of good fortune that the stage effects which hovered over the scenes and imbued them with a truly religious spirit should have been carried out so admirably by Baroness von Eckhardstein. To me every flicker of light, be it red or blue, every shade in the scenic effect, be it light or subdued, is important and meaningful, and that the Baroness should feel this is among the things which we should regard as indeed the work of the spirit.
I need only call your attention to the scenery contributed by our artists Herr Linde, Herr Folkert and Herr Hass, and in mentioning them I would like you to understand that the spiritual thought which lives in their souls has found its way even into their paint brushes. It is spirituality which you see in the scenery which these three have contributed. Of course in none of the things I have mentioned do we find perfection, but we find the beginning of an aim. I should like you to see in all that is willed here, in all that cannot yet be fully achieved, how one can think of the future development of art.
That is why it is so tremendously important too that the dramatic production should only be in the hands of actors who are striving for spiritual knowledge. It is my wish, not out of personal preference but because it cannot be otherwise, that not a single word in our dramatic performances should be spoken by anyone not of our way of thinking, even though those words should be spoken with perfect artistry and the utmost refinement of stage diction.
What we are aiming at is something quite different from the customary stage technique. We are not aiming at what people call art today; what we want is that in each of those who stand on the stage his heart should speak out of spiritual warmth, and that such an atmosphere should breathe through the whole performance, be that performance good or indifferent, that we should experience spiritual warmth as art and art as spiritual warmth. For this reason every one who is present at these dramatic festivals which precede our lecture cycles at Munich must feel, ‘there is not a word spoken in this production which is not experienced in the depths of the actor's soul.’ In many respects this results in a certain reserve, a certain restraint, which anyone who has no desire to feel in a spiritual way may regard as amateurish, but it is the beginning of something which is to come, the beginning of something which will one day be regarded as artistic truth in the deepest and most spiritual sense of the words, however imperfect and rudimentary it may seem to you today. Therefore it will never occur to those of you who have understanding to want to cut passages. You will calmly accept all the long passages necessitated by the subject. Nothing is too long for us, nothing too undramatic, in the modern, generally accepted sense of the word, because we are concerned, not with the demands of external ‘theatre’, but with the inner necessities of the subject, and we will never abandon our dramatic convictions. For example, take the fairy-tale you heard yesterday, the fairy-tale that Felicia tells Capesius in the fifth scene of my playThe Soul's Probation. The habitual theatre goer would pronounce it deadly dull. We must never shrink from putting long passages which may seem tedious on the stage, if dramatic truth calls for it. Dramatic truth is the overruling consideration in our productions.
Moreover, dramatic freedom demands that every individual who does us the favour of co-operating with us should have freedom of action as regards his own part, so that each one can feel that every action he makes and every word he utters on the stage proceeds from himself. You will never see in our performances an arbitrary stage-production such as is so very fashionable today. In its place you will feel the influence of that spirit which breathes unseen over our production as a whole, even if only in a rudimentary and imperfect way, but which is able to multiply its work in each individual concerned. Hence when one is involved in such an enterprise as this, one feels above all things profound gratitude for the sacrifices made by every single actor. It is not possible to mention each one individually, because so many have helped, but each one has accomplished much.
I might continue this catalogue of thanks for a long time. Lastly I might thank you all for having shown understanding for what one day, in the drama of the future, will be regarded as a sine qua non — that what is not seen on the stage must play its part as well as what is seen, that what is merely hinted at must have a place as well as the more material impersonations; that some figures must stand out in the illumination of the footlights, while others have rather to be secretly insinuated in the depths of the human word. What is intended in my Mystery Plays and will more and more be felt as the true meaning of the three figures Philia, Astrid and Luna can only partly be conveyed in the light in which they appear on the stage in bodily form; for with these three figures which are intended to represent important impulses of human evolution, intimate secrets of the soul are also bound up, intimate secrets which one only appreciates rightly by coupling what arrests one's attention by its strong illumination with what is suggested in the intimacy of the spoken word. These three feminine figures working in the silvery moonlight and fashioning from the evanescent forms taken by the spray the chalice which subtly represents what they are aiming at both in their more manifest as well as in their more delicate form— these beings whom we encounter in the silvery moonlight of the fairy-tale, and who show us how they accompany the souls of men as intimate friends, show us how men are formed in childhood, what they look like after thrice three hundred and sixty weeks have gone by — these beings can only be understood when one takes into consideration both aspects, the one grasped by the senses and outwardly visible, seen on the stage in tangible form, and the other aspect, which seems so tedious to the modern theatre goer, communicated through the telling of a delicate fairy-tale ... the only vehicle fit to convey the subtlety of meaning expressed by such figures as Luna, Astrid and Philia. And when one sees that already today there are a number of souls who are capable of pure unprejudiced feeling as regards what is not easily tolerated on the stage, then one can say ... Spiritual Science is grateful to you that you have been willing to train your souls to experience and absorb what has been attempted here in its service. For all these reasons, at the close of this introduction to our forthcoming lectures you will not mind my giving this expression to my gratitude.
Thankfulness and joy again and again fill me, not only when I see our fellow workers co-operate and adapt themselves to what is new, but also when I see men like our stage hands working for us so willingly. I feel it is really something to be thankful for, when one of the workmen asks if he too may have a book. I know well that everything is very rudimentary and imperfect, but it is something which will bear fruit, something which will work on. If out of all that we have attempted to do at the opening of our Munich festival one thing is impressed upon us — that Spiritual Science is not meant to be something abstract, a hobby which one pursues, but that it is related to the conditions of our whole life — then the modest effort which we have tried to make, as a beginning only, will have had its effect; something of what we have been aiming at will have been achieved. In this spirit I welcome you at the outset of this cycle of lectures, which is to be devoted to the study of many things we encounter when we direct our gaze into the vast world, and experience what for the ancient Greeks was the origin of all theosophy, all philosophy — when we experience ‘wonder’, from which we derive the German word meaning miracle; when we experience some premonition of those ‘ordeals of the soul’, and when we see what may well be the resolution of all wonder and the liberation from all ordeals which ‘revelations of the spirit’ can effect. What can be experienced from all these three — from the wonders of Nature, from the ordeals of the soul, from the redeeming revelations of the Spirit, this then is to be the subject of our forthcoming studies.