Christ and the Spiritual World - The Search for the Holy Grail
2 January 1914, Leipzig
In the preceding lecture I tried to present what I had to tell you about the Mystery of the Grail and its connections in such a way as to let you see how these things reveal themselves gradually to the seeker's soul. I have not withheld the various difficulties that must be gone through before that which may be called the result of research is given to the soul from out of the spiritual world. Of course I know very well that if modern psychology, which remains so superficial, gets hold of such descriptions, it will bring forward all possible — or rather the most impossible — objections. And I am well aware of all the doubts that can be raised, the curious assertions about all sorts of laws and associations of ideas and subconscious images. In spite of all this — and precisely in full consciousness of it — I have for once given you this unvarnished account, because for you, as anthroposophists, it should be important to be clear that the results to which one has to come in spiritual research are to be reached only after overcoming all the things which, as I told you yesterday, stand in the way. And the final result of spiritual research is not the outcome of ideas that have been put together, as might be supposed. For these ideas are like messengers leading to the final result and have nothing to do with the result itself.
I wanted to make these preliminary remarks because the latest publications show what happens again and again when these expositions are printed as lecture-courses. They are given to people outside our Movement, who then make the most senseless remarks about them and of course take pleasure in quoting from them out of context and so on. And let me also say — without the least wish to appear presumptuous — that because of our Movement a time has come when someone or other may think it profitable to attack us. And we can be sure that for such a purpose any means would serve.
I have said that the stellar script is to be found in the heavens, but it is not in any sense the Grail and it does not yield us the Grail. I have expressly emphasised — and I beg you to take this emphasis very seriously — that the name of the Grail is to be found through the stellar script, not the Grail itself. I have pointed to the fact that in the gold-gleaming sickle of the moon — as any close observer can see — the dark part of the moon emerges and is as though marked off from the bright sickle; and there, in occult writing, is to be found the name of Parsifal.
Now before we go further and try to interpret this sign in the heavens, I must draw your attention to an important law, an important fact. The gold-gleaming sickle becomes apparent because the physical rays of the sun fall on the moon. The illuminated part of the moon shines out as the gold-gleaming vessel. Within it rests the dark Host: physically, this is the dark part not reached by the sun's rays; spiritually, there is something else. When the rays of the sun fall on part of the moon and are reflected in gleaming light, something does nevertheless pass through the physical matter. This something is the spiritual element that lives in the sun's rays. The spiritual power of the sun is not held back and reflected, as the sun's physical power is; it goes through; and because it is resisted by the power of the moon, what we see at rest in the golden vessel is actually the spiritual power of the sun. So we can say: In the dark part of the moon we are looking at the spiritual power of the sun. In the gold-gleaming part, the vessel, we see reflected the physical power of the sun. The Spirit of the sun rests in the vessel of the sun's physical power. So in truth the Spirit of the sun rests in the vessel of the moon. And if we now recollect all that we have ever said about this Sun-spirit in relation to the Christ, then in what the moon does physically an important symbol will be manifest. Because the moon reflects the sun's rays and in this way brings into being the gold-gleaming vessel, it appears to us as the bearer of the Sun-spirit, for the Sun-spirit appears within the moon's vessel in the form of the wafer-like disc.
And let us remember that in the Parsifal saga it is emphasised that on every Good Friday, and thus during the Easter festival, the Host descends from Heaven into the Grail and is renewed; it sinks into the Grail like a rejuvenating nourishment — at the Easter festival, when Parsifal is again directed towards the Grail by the hermit; at the Easter festival, whose significance for the Grail has also been brought nearer to mankind again through Wagner's Parsifal.
Now let us recall how in accordance with an old tradition — one of those traditions of which I spoke yesterday as having arisen from the working of the Christ Impulse in the depths of the soul — the date of the Easter festival was established. Which is the day appointed for the Easter festival? The day when the vernal sun, which means the sun that is gathering strength — our symbol for the Christ — reaches the first Sunday after the full moon. How does the vernal full moon stand in the heavens at the Easter festival — how must it stand? It must begin, at least a little, to become a sickle. Something must be visible of the dark part; something of the Sun-spirit, Who has gained his vernal strength, must be within it. This means that, according to an ancient tradition, the picture of the Holy Grail must appear in the heavens at the Easter festival. It must be so. At the Easter festival, therefore, everyone can see this picture of the Holy Grail. According to a very ancient tradition, the date of the Easter festival is regulated with this in view.
Now let us try again to get our bearings with regard to developments that have taken their course below the surface of soul-life. Yesterday we said that the force which emerged in the Sibyls had to be moderated; it had to be permeated by the Christ Impulse; and in this moderated form it had to reappear, so that it might become the bearer of spiritual culture in later times. Now let us ask: Was Parsifal — as Chrestien de Troyes calls him — able to perceive in himself something of the Christ Impulse at work in the depths of his soul?
If we look back once more at the primal character of the ancient Hebrew Geology, one thing strikes us again and again. We shall grasp the spirit of this ancient Hebrew Geology only if we realise that the whole of Hebrew antiquity tried with all its might to hold fast to the geological character of its revelations. I have shown how these revelations must be looked for, and can everywhere be traced, in the activities and spiritual mobility of the Earth. The Hebrew endeavour was to keep at bay the elemental activities that derive from the stars and served to stimulate spiritually the power of the Sibyls. The influence of the stars was justified in the Astrology of the third post-Atlantean epoch, for humanity then retained so much of the old ancestral spirituality that when men devoted their souls to the elements, they absorbed a good influence from the stars.
During the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the power of the stars receded in face of the elements which surround the Earth in the atmosphere and everywhere else. The influx of the elements was felt in such a way that anyone who understood the spirit of the age, especially as the fourth epoch advanced further and further, was constrained to say to himself: “Let us guard ourselves against the influence that plays into the elements from the stars: it produces something like the unlawful Sibylline forces.” Through the Christ Impulse having poured itself out into the Earth's aura, the Sibylline forces were to be harmonised and rendered capable of again yielding lawful revelations. Never willingly did the true initiate of Hebrew antiquity look to the stars when he wished for a revelation of the spirit. He had vowed himself to the Jahve-god who belongs to the evolution of the Earth and (as I have shown in Occult Science) had become a moon god only in order to help the Earth forward.
In the moon festivals of the Jews it was made clear that the ‘Lord of the Earth’ shines down symbolically in his reflection from the moon. “But go no further” — that was the warning given by old Hebrew tradition to the pupil — “Go no further! Be content with what Jahve reveals in his moon symbol — go no further! The time has not yet come for drawing out of the elements anything more than is expressed in the moon symbol. Anything more would belong to the unlawful Sibylline forces.”
When all that has come over into Earth evolution from the Saturn, Sun and Moon periods is grasped in its natural aspect, then we find it symbolised in the old Hebrew tradition through Eve. Eve — the vowels are never clearly pronounced — Eve! Add to it the sign for the divine Being of Hebrew antiquity who is the Ruler of Earth-history, and we have a form which is quite as valid as any other — Jehve-Jahve, the ruler of the Earth who has his symbol in the moon. If we bring this into conjunction with what has come over from the Moon period and with its outcome for Earth evolution, we have the Ruler of the Earth united with the Earth Mother, whose powers are a result of the Moon period ... Jahve! Hence out of Hebrew antiquity there emerges this mysterious connection of the Moon forces, which have left their remains in the moon known to astronomy and their human forces in the female element in human life. The connection of the Ruler of the Earth with the Moon Mother is given to us in the name Jahve.
Now I should like to bring before you two facts which will perhaps indicate how, under the influence of the Christ Impulse, the Sibylline forces have been transformed in the subconscious depths of soul-life. I want to touch on a manifestation to which I called attention three years ago — three years almost to the day — the transformation of a Sibyl under the influence of the Christ Impulse. In the lectures printed under the title of Occult History: Personalities and Events in the Light of Spiritual Science, 1See Lectures II and III of this Course. I referred to the appearance of the Maid of Orleans. I pointed out how events of the greatest importance for the destiny of Europe in the subsequent era flowed from what the Maid of Orleans accomplished under the influence of her inspirations, fully permeated by the Christ Impulse, beginning in the autumn of 1428. From external history one can indeed learn that the destiny of Europe would have been very different if the Maid of Orleans had not appeared when she did, and only an entirely obsessed materialist, such as Anatole France, can deny that something mysterious came into history at that time.
I will not repeat here what can be read in history books; anyone who has listened to these lectures can see that something like a modern Sibyl emerged in the Maid of Orleans. It was the time — the fifteenth century — when the fifth post-Atlantean epoch begins; a time when the Christ Impulse had to emerge more and more from the subconscious depths of the soul. We can see in what a gentle, tender form, imbued with the noblest qualities of the human soul, the Sibylline power of the Maid of Orleans is revealed. I would like to take this opportunity of reading to you a letter written by a man who lived through these events, for it shows what an impression the Sibylline power of the Maid of Orleans made on those who had a heart and feeling for it. He was a man in the entourage of the King whom the Maid of Orleans liberated. After describing her achievements, he writes:
“This and much more has the Maid brought about, and with God's help she will accomplish still greater things. The girl is of appealing beauty and manly bearing; she speaks little and shows remarkable sagacity; when she speaks she has a pleasing, delicately feminine voice. She eats little and abstains from wine. She takes pleasure in fine horses and weapons and admires well-accoutered and noble men. To be obliged to meet and converse with large numbers of people is abhorrent to her; her tears often overflow; she loves a happy face, endures unheard of toil, and is so assiduous in the manipulation and bearing of weapons that she remains uninterruptedly for six days — day and night — in full armour. She says that the English have no right to France, and therefore — as she says — God has sent her to drive them out and conquer them, but only after previous warning. For the King she shows the deepest veneration; she says he is beloved by God, is under special protection, and will therefore be preserved. Of the Duke of Orleans, your nephew, she says that he will be delivered in a miraculous way, but only after a demand for his release has been made to the English who hold him prisoner.
With that, revered Duke, I bring my report to a conclusion. Still more wonderful things are happening and have happened than I can write of or describe to you in words. While I write this, the aforesaid Maid has already gone to the neighbourhood of the city of Rheims in Champagne, whither the King has hastily set off for his anointing and crowning under God's protection. Most respected and powerful Duke and greatly honoured master! I commend myself to you in all humility, while praying the Almighty to protect you and fulfil your desires. Written at Biteromis, the 21st day of June (in the year 1429).
Your humble servant
Lord of Bonlamiulk, Counselor and Chamberlain of the King of the French and of the Duke of Orleans, Seneschal of Berry.”
So wrote a Percival to the Duke of Milan about the Maid. Anyone reading it will feel how we have here a description of a Christ-filled Sibyl.
That is one thing: the other to which I wish to call your attention is also a fact from the new times that the fifth post-Atlantean epoch brought in. It is something written by a man who, one might say, was justified in feeling himself permeated with the spirit of this new epoch — so much so that what he experienced unconsciously might be expressed as follows: ‘Yes, a time is coming when the old Astrology will live again in a new form, a Christ-filled form, and then, if one can practise it properly, so that it will be permeated with the Christ Impulse, one may venture to look up to the stars and question them about their spiritual script.’ Here was a man — as you will shortly see — who felt deeply that the Earth is not as modern materialistic geology portrays it, purely physical and mineral, but a living being, endowed not merely with a body, as the modern materialist wants us to believe, but also with a soul. He knew this in such a way that he could feel something like the following (although he could not have expressed it in these words, since the Spiritual Science of today was not then available): ‘The Christ Impulse has been received by the Earth-soul into its aura, and so a man whose soul feels imbued with the Earth's aura, and with the Christ Impulse, may again look up to what is written in the stars.’ And in fact this was done; men did look up to the stars. Although this approach brought with it a great deal of superstition, especially among the old astronomers who appeared at that time, yet we find a certain man, deeply bound up with the spiritual life of the new epoch, writing in this way:
“These and countless other changes and phenomena which take place on the earth are so exact and regular that they cannot be ascribed to a blind cause, and since the planets themselves know nothing of the angles which their rays make with the earth, the earth must have a soul. The earth is an animal.” [He does not mean an animal in the ordinary sense, but a living organism.] “One can observe in the earth a complete analogy with the parts of an animal body. Plants are its hair; metals are its veins; the waters of the sea are its drink. The earth has a formative power, a kind of imagination; it has movement, certain illnesses, and ebb and flow are its respirations. The soul of the earth seems to be a kind of flame; hence the subterranean warmth and the fact that without warmth there is no propagation. A certain image of the Zodiac and of the whole firmament is imprinted by God in the soul of the earth.
“This is the bond between the heavens and the earth, the cause of sympathy between heaven and earth; the archetypes of all these movements and functions are implanted by God the Creator in the earth. The soul is in the centre of the earth; it sends out forms or impressions of itself in all directions, and in this way experiences all harmonious changes and objects outside itself. As it is with the soul of the earth, so is it with the soul of man. All mathematical ideas and proofs, for example, are created by the soul from out of itself, or they would not have such a high degree of certainty and precision.
“The planets and their aspects have influence on the soul-powers of men. They stir up emotions and passions of all kinds, leading often to the most terrible actions and events. They have influence on conception, and therefore on human temperament and character; a great part of astrology has to do with this. Probably the sun does not only radiate light and warmth throughout the cosmos; it may also be the seat and centre of pure reason and the source of universal harmony. And all the planets are ensouled.
“In the whole creation there is a magnificent and wonderful harmony, in the realm of the senses as well as in the super-sensible, in ideas as well as in things, in the kingdoms of nature and in the gifts of Grace. This harmony is found both in things themselves and in the relations between them. The highest harmony is God, and He has impressed on all souls an inner harmony as his signature. Numbers, shapes, the stars and nature in general, harmonise with certain mysteries of the Christian religion. Thus for example in the cosmos there are three things at rest, the sun, the fixed stars and the intermedium, and all else is in movement; and so in the one God are Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The sphere represents the Trinity: the Father is the centre, the Son the surface, and the Holy Spirit the uniformity of the distance from centre to surface (the radius); and so it is with other mysteries. Without spirits and souls there would not be harmony everywhere. In human souls we find harmonious pre-dispositions of an endlessly varied kind. The whole earth is ensouled, and thus the great harmony is brought about, not only on earth but between the earth and the constellations. This soul works throughout the body of the earth, but it has its seat in a particular place, just as the human soul has its seat in the heart; and from this place, as though from a focus or source, its workings go out into the ocean and the atmosphere. Hence the sympathy between the earth and the stars; hence the regularity of nature's processes. The fact that the earth truly has a soul is shown most clearly by observing weather conditions and the aspects under which they habitually occur. Under certain aspects and constellations the air is always restless; if such aspects are not present, or are few or transient, the air remains quiet.”
Thus wrote a man in 1607; a man in whom lived and pulsed, as the new age came in, the Christ-filled Astrology which draws after it, merely as its shadow, astrological superstition. Thus wrote a man out of the most devout mood of soul; a man who knew that people had formerly made use — at first rightly and afterwards wrongly — of the forces that spring from the elemental world, the Sibylline forces we should now call them. For it cannot be denied, he wrote, that such spirits — he means spirits which maintain communication between the stars and the earth — establish themselves in the elements which surround the earth as its atmosphere. He continues:
“It cannot be denied that such spirits formerly imparted their oracular sayings to men through idols and oak-trees, out of groves and grottoes, through animals and so on; and sooth-saying from the flight of birds was not merely an art of deceiving the weak. Those spirits were active in guiding the birds through the air, and by this means, with God's permission, much was intimated to men in former times. Even today we hear stories of fateful birds, such as owls, vultures, eagles, ravens, but the more such stories are despised, the rarer they become. For these spirits cannot bear being despised, as according to the law of God and Christian teaching, they certainly deserve to be: they prefer to fly away and keep silent. From the beginning the lying Tempter was allowed to speak through animals: he spoke to Eve through the serpent and thus he led the human race astray. That was always the way of these spirits from then onwards: whenever they could speak to men through the bodies and movements of animals, through voices or portents, they misused this power, appropriating for themselves the reverence due to God and misleading unhappy men. And now, although Christ came to destroy the work of the Devil, and imposed silence on these spirits, and although they lost their temple-statues, their groves and their caves and the earth they had so long possessed, yet they are always here still in the empty air, and with God's permission they utter their scattered cries. Often they are God's scourges; often he allows certain things to be announced through them to men.”
The author of these words gives a gentle indication of how the spiritual revelations come to be permeated by Christ, for he writes in a frame of mind that can truly be called Christ-filled. In 1607 he spoke thus of the changes that had come about in the spiritual world. Who is this man? Is he someone who has no right to speak, someone we can leave unheard? No, for without him we should have no modern Astronomy or Physics: he is Johannes Kepler. And one would like to advise those who call themselves materialists or monists and look to Kepler as their idol — one would like to advise them to consider carefully, just for once, this passage in Kepler's writings. The greatest astronomical laws, the three Kepler laws, which dominate present-day Astronomy, are his. Yet you have heard how he speaks of the new influence which gradually enters into Earth evolution with the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. We must all again get accustomed by degrees — having thoroughly absorbed the new influence — to recognise something of the spiritual activities connected with the stars.
What sort of time was it, then, when Parsifal entered the Grail Castle, still ignorant, not ready to ask questions — according to the later tradition taken up by Wolfram von Eschenbach? What sort of time was it when Parsifal entered the Castle, where Amfortas lay wounded and on Parsifal's arrival suffered unceasing pain from his wound? What was this time? The saga itself tells us — it was a Saturn time. 2i.e., a period when the forces of Saturn work with particular strength. Saturn and the Sun stood together in Cancer, approaching culmination. So we see how in the most intimate effects a connection between the Earth and the Stars is established. It was a Saturn time!
And if we now ask how Parsifal gradually gains knowledge, what do we find? Who is he, this Parsifal? He is ignorant of certain things; he is held to be ignorant — but of what? Now we have heard that the Christ Impulse flows on as though through subterranean channels in the depths of the soul. Up above, the theological controversies go on, and from them traditional Christianity takes shape. Let us follow the personality of Parsifal, as the saga portrays him. He knows nothing about the surface course of events; he is kept in ignorance precisely of all that. He is protected from it. What he learns to know comes from sources active in the depths of the soul, as we heard yesterday. At first, riding away in ignorance from the Grail Castle, he learns it from the woman who mourns the dead bridegroom in her lap; then from the hermit, who is brought into connection with mystic powers; and from the power of the Grail, for it is on a Good Friday that he comes to the hermit; already the power of the Grail is working in him unconsciously. Thus he is one of those who know nothing of what has been going on externally; one of those who are led into relation with the influences flowing from unconscious sources to meet the new age. He is a man whose heart and soul were to receive in innocence, undisturbed by the effects of the external world on human life, the secret of the Grail. He is to receive the secret with the highest, purest, noblest forces of the soul. He has to meet someone who has not developed the soul-forces which could completely experience the Grail: he has to meet Amfortas. We know that Amfortas had indeed been marked out as the Guardian of the Grail, but he succumbed to the lower forces in human nature. And how he had succumbed is connected with the Guardianship of the Grail: he had killed his adversary out of lust and jealousy. These things are obvious, but as they are repeatedly misunderstood it must be said that Anthroposophy does not teach asceticism. Something much deeper lies behind.
As late as the third post-Atlantean epoch there were natural elemental forces which were taken into consideration not so much for the way in which they were expressed in daily life as for the connection they revealed with the spiritual world. The elemental forces that pulsed in the human blood and nervous system were raised into a relationship with the Mysteries. It was not a question of subjecting the senses to ascetic discipline, but of becoming aware of the Holy Mysteries. In the third post-Atlantean epoch one could still come to the Mysteries with the same forces which otherwise dominate men on Earth. But the time was at hand when the Holy Mysteries were to be revealed only to the pure and blameless forces of the soul; when men would find the possibility of rising above the bonds which tie them to an earthly calling. Anthroposophy does not seek to estrange anyone from the Earth; but it was then a question of raising oneself above those earthly ties and from the influence of the old Astrology. A man had to raise himself if he was to find the old Mysteries in the new way — with the powers of the innocent soul which had freed itself from everything earthly.
Over against the contrast set up by Hebrew antiquity, another contrast had to be created. Hebrew antiquity had rigorously insisted: “Nothing of the Sibylline forces, which were justified at one time in Astrology — nothing of them! Let us cleave to our earth-god, Jahve!” From this came a denial of all revelations from above and an acceptance of revelations from below; a fear of all that reveals itself from the heavens. This outlook had to prevail on Earth for a season; a certain opposition to anything that came from above had to establish itself. And in such forces as those of the Sibyls people saw the unlawful Luciferic forces coming from above. But presently, after the Christ had descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, that which came from above was imbued with the Christ Impulse; men could venture again to look up to the heavens. And something else had come about through the union of the Ruler of Earth with the Moon-Mother. For the Christ, Who had poured Himself out into the Earth's aura, had become the Lord of the Earth.
Worldly concerns, such as were pursued at the court of King Arthur, 3See Cosmic Christianity and the Impulse of Michael, lectures III and VI. Given by Dr. Steiner in Torquay and London, August 1924. could be approached with earthly forces, but it was not permitted to approach the concerns of the Holy Grail in this way, as Amfortas had found. Anyone who attempted it was bound to suffer pain. And since the working of the stars had been permeated by the Christ, a man had to be found who had remained untouched by the controversies in the external world, and through his karma stood at a point where his soul could be approached by Christ; a man, too, who was related to the forces indicated by the symbol of the Saturn time, with Saturn and the Sun standing together in the sign of Cancer. So it was that Parsifal, in whom the Christ Impulse was still working unconsciously, in the depths of his soul, comes with the power of Saturn; and the wound burns as it had never burnt before.
Thus we see how the new age declares itself; how the soul of Parsifal is related to the new, subconscious, historical impulse permeated by the Christ aura, the Christ Impulse, although he knows nothing of it. But the forces which had guided human history from below the surface were gradually to emerge; and Parsifal, accordingly, had to come by degrees to understand something that will never be understood unless it is approached with the pure and blameless forces of the soul, and not with traditional knowledge and scholarship. Then we can see — for this has by now come to the surface and is almost as familiar as the name of the Holy Grail itself — how it represents the renewing in a different form of what ancient Hebraism had fought in its day.
Let us set before us the Virgin Mother with the Christ upon her knees and let us then express it thus: He who can feel the holiness of this picture will feel the same for the Holy Grail. Above all other lights, all other gods, shines the Holy Vessel — the Moon-Mother now touched by Christ, the new Eve, the bearer of the Sun-spirit, Christ.
Think of the “what”, but still more of the “how”! And let us look into the soul of Parsifal: how, riding out from the Grail Castle, he encounters the sight of the bride and bridegroom, which brings him into connection with subconscious Christ forces. Let us look how the hermit at Eastertide, when the picture of the Grail is written in the heavens, in the stellar script, gives instruction to Parsifal's pure soul. Let us follow him as he rides on — as I emphasised yesterday — by day and night, looking at Nature by day and with the symbol of the Holy Grail often before him at night; how he rides on, having before him the gold-gleaming sickle of the moon, with the Host, the Christ Spirit, the Sun-spirit, within it. Let us see how on his way he is made ready to understand the secret of the Holy Grail by the concordance between the picture of the Virgin Mother with her bridegroom Son and the sign of the heavenly script.
Let us see how the permeation of the Earth's destiny with the Christ Impulse works together in his soul with the stellar script which has to be made new; let us see how all that is permeated with Christ is related to the forces of the stars. ... Since Parsifal had to enter the, Grail Castle at a Saturn time, it was inevitable that the wounds of the man, Amfortas, who had failed to abide rightly by the Grail should burn more fiercely.
Think of the “what”, but still more of the “how”! For it is not a question of characterising such things with the words I have been using, or with any words. There is no way of approach to the Grail through words of any kind, or through philosophical speculations. The only way is by changing all these words into feeling, by becoming able to feel in the Grail the sum of all that is holy, by feeling the confluence of that which came over from the Moon period, appearing first in the Earth Mother, Eve, and then newly in the Virgin Mother; of the Jahve-god who became Ruler of the Earth, and of the coming of the Christ Being, Who poured Himself into the Earth's aura and became the new Lord of the Earth; by feeling the confluence of that which works down from the stars, and is symbolised in the stellar script, with human evolution on Earth. If one takes all this into account and feels it as the consonance of human history with the stellar script, then one also grasps the secret that was to be expressed in the words entrusted to Parsifal in the saga: that whenever a King of the Grail, a truly appointed Guardian of the Grail, dies, the name of his accredited successor appears on the Holy Grail. “There it is to be read” — which means that it will be necessary to learn to read the stellar script again in a new form.
Let us try to make ourselves worthy to do this; let us try to read the stellar script in the form now given to us. For in fact it is nothing else than a reading of the script when we try to trace out human evolution through the Saturn, Sun and Moon periods, right up to the Vulcan period. But we must recognise in what connection we wish to decipher the stellar script today. Let us make ourselves worthy of it! For not in vain are we told that the Grail was at first carried away from its own place and for a season was not externally perceptible. Let us regard what we are permitted to study in our Anthroposophy as a renewed seeking for the Grail, and let us try to learn to understand the significance of that which formerly spoke as though out of the subconscious depths of the soul and rose gradually into the consciousness of men. Let us try to transform that by degrees into a new and more conscious language! Let us try to explore a wisdom which will disclose to us the connection between the earthly and the heavenly, not relying on old traditions, but in accordance with the way in which it can be revealed today.
And then let us be filled with a feeling of how it was that Parsifal came to the secret of the Grail. Afterwards the secret was kept hidden again, because men had first to seek for the connection of the Earth with cosmic powers in the most external field, the field of the most external science. Let us also understand how it was that a spirit such as Kepler's could in the meantime come to grasp what he set out in his mathematical-mechanical laws of the heavens; but what he added to this, being truly penetrated with the Christ Impulse, had to sink back into the subconscious depths of the soul. When we express what we know how to say today about our Earth-evolution and its connection with the Cosmos, we are speaking in Kepler's sense. Thus we have heard him say:
“Thus for example in the cosmos there are three things at rest, the sun, the fixed stars and the inter-medium, and all else is in movement; and so in the one God are Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The sphere represents the Trinity: the Father is the centre, the Son the surface, and the Holy Spirit the uniformity of the distance from centre to surface (the radius); and so it is with other mysteries. Without spirits and souls there would not be harmony everywhere. In human souls we find harmonious pre-dispositions of an endlessly varied kind. The whole earth is ensouled, and thus the great harmony is brought about, not only on earth but between the earth and the constellations. This soul works throughout the body of the earth, but it has its seat in a particular place, just as the human soul has its seat in the heart; and from this place, as though from a focus or source, its workings go out into the ocean and the atmosphere. Hence the sympathy between the earth and the stars; hence the regularity of nature's processes. The fact that the earth truly has a, soul is shown most clearly by observing weather conditions and the aspects under which they habitually occur. Under certain aspects and constellations the air is always restless; if such aspects are not present, or are few or transient, the air remains quiet.
“These and countless other changes and phenomena which take place on the earth are so exact and regular that they cannot be ascribed to a blind cause, and since the planets themselves know nothing of the angles which their rays make with the earth, the earth must have a soul. The earth is an animal. One can observe in the earth a complete analogy with the parts of an animal body. Plants are its hair; metals are its veins; the waters of the sea are its drink. The earth has a formative power, a kind of imagination; it has movement, certain illnesses, and ebb and flow are its respirations. The soul of the earth seems to be a kind of flame; hence the subterranean warmth and the fact that without warmth there is no propagation. A certain image of the Zodiac and of the whole firmament is imprinted by God in the soul of the earth. “
We see today how this picture of the Zodiac has been imprinted in the soul of the Earth, the aura of the Earth, and let us work gradually towards the other part of Kepler's world-picture — the part which had to remain in the subconscious depths of the soul but shows clearly that what we can give today as a cosmology is a fulfilment of it. Just as our Anthroposophy — or what Anthroposophy should mean to us — must be deeply grounded in the evolution of humanity, so is it inwardly connected with the admonition which resounds to us from the Holy Grail. And if we look at Europe, the Western land of ancient times, and see what memories of the Atlantean epoch lived on into post-Atlantean times; if we see how in the Greek world a last faint echo, sounded, showing how the Nathan Jesus had once been permeated by the Christ in the higher worlds, the Jesus who then descended and accomplished the Mystery of Golgotha — then, if we follow that out, we may ask: Whence did the Christ come? How did He come when He came from on high to be the Lord of the Earth? He passed from the West to the East, and from the East He returned to the West. His external physical covering came down from the realm of the higher Hierarchies. The Beings of those Hierarchies brought it down; it belonged to them. The Parsifal saga reminds us of this in a beautiful way when it says: “A host of Angels brought to Titurel the Holy Grail, the true Mystery of the Christ Jesus, of the connection between the Lord of the Earth and the Virgin Mother; and a host of Angels awaits it again in the realm of the higher Hierarchies.” Let us seek it there; and then we shall gradually come to understand what our anthroposophical world-conception is seeking; we shall gradually press on further and further towards a feeling, a perception, of the celestial aspect of the Holy Grail and thence to its human aspect, to the Mother with the Jesus, the Christ.
Thus we have tried to point the way a little into the realm of human history, in so far as human history is sustained by spiritual powers. And if you have perceived something of what I wished to arouse through my words, not only in your thoughts but in your feeling, the aim of this cycle of lectures will have been achieved. I could quite as well have called it “Concerning the Search for the Holy Grail”. It can be left to each individual to judge whether the religious faiths scattered over the Earth will one day find themselves in agreement with what is here meant by the harmony of all religions. And he can decide also whether what should be understood by the unity of religions is not more closely related to the secret of the Holy Grail, as we have tried to describe it, than is a great deal of talking about the unity of religions, which may in fact be about something quite different
Anyone who wishes to hold fast to a narrow creed will certainly not be immediately convinced by what has been said. This is because he pays heed to the superficial course of events, and so to the external aspect of the real deeds of Christ, which are themselves of a spiritual nature. How a man was led by his karma to the spiritual deeds of Christ; how Parsifal was driven along this path, wherein is prefigured the unity of religions on Earth — that is what we have wished to bring before our souls. And we should keep in mind that continuation of the Parsifal saga which says that when the Grail became invisible in Europe, it was carried to the realm of Prester John, who had his kingdom on the far side of the lands reached by the Crusaders. In the time of the Crusades the kingdom of Prester John, the successor of Parsifal, was still honoured, and from the way in which a search was made for it we must say: If all this were expressed in terms of strict earthly geography, it would show that the place of Prester John is not to be found on Earth. 4The editors of the latest German edition (1960) call attention to the probability of certain gaps in the existing shorthand report of this concluding paragraph.
Was that meant to be a hint, in the European saga that continued the Parsifal saga, that since then, without our being conscious of it, the Christ has been working in the hidden depths of the East; that the religious controversies which take their course on the conscious level in the East could be assuaged by the out-flowings and revelations of the true Christ Impulse, as was meant to happen, in accordance with the Parsifal revelation, in the West? Was the sunlight of the Grail called upon to shine above all other gods on Earth, as is symbolically indicated by the fact that when the maiden carried in the gold-gleaming vessel, with the secret of the Grail within it, the radiance of the Grail outshone the other lights? Ought we to expect — quite contrary to current beliefs — that the Christ power, still working unconsciously, will appear in a changed form and as Ex oriente lux, in the old phrase, will meet with that which has appeared as light in the West? Should one light be able to unite with the other light? But for that it will be necessary for us to be prepared — we who are placed by karma in the geographical and cultural environment over which passed the path of the Christ, when in higher realms He had permeated Jesus of Nazareth in order to journey to the East. Let us look up and feel that the Christ passed through our heights before He was revealed on Earth! Let us make ourselves capable of so understanding Him that we shall not misunderstand what He will perhaps be able to say to us one day, when the time has come for His impulses to flow through other earthly creeds!