The Mystery of Death
7. Cosmic Effects on the Human Members During Sleep — The Esoteric Foundation of Christmas — The Significance of Sacrificial Deaths
7 May 1915, Vienna
It must be my intention during these days to bring something home to our souls that is able to throw some light from the spiritual-scientific point of view on our big events. Therefore, it is also my task next Sunday to turn our sensations to certain points of view which can bring some light just in that which must now move our hearts and souls in the deepest sense. I would like to prepare the basis of that, directing your souls to certain powers and forces which have an effect in the historical existence of human beings which can be only recognised by those insights spiritual science can give and are not immediately discernible for the everyday consciousness. I want to point to developmental facts of human life, to more or less subconscious facts today which express themselves in the historical course of human life.
We go out from the fact- you know it from the representation in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? — that what takes place in secrecy with every human being is recognised on successive levels of supersensible knowledge, of the so-called Imaginative knowledge, of the Inspirative knowledge and of the Intuitive knowledge. In the public lecture yesterday, I have already emphasised that one has always to keep in mind that the spiritual scientist who states something of the spiritual worlds on the basis of his knowledge of Imaginative, Inspirative and Intuitive perceptions, does not add anything that does not exist in the spiritual realms in which every human soul lives without being aware of them. The spiritual scientist only draws attention to that which always weaves and lives in the world and in which way the individual human soul is put in it. So that not only for somebody who has the intention to make his way into the current of esoteric experiences, but for every human soul the knowledge of them is important what is internal reality for it at any rate, only a reality which cannot be recognised by means of the everyday awareness of life.
Thus I would like to go out from some facts of the Imaginative perception of the human nature generally. We observe daily that an event full of riddle, at least an event full of riddle for the external science intervenes rhythmically in our life by turns: the waking and sleeping states. We know for a long time that we belong with our four human members, the physical body, the etheric body, astral body and ego, in the waking state to the physical earth. We know that we are during sleep, from falling asleep up to waking, in the physical world only with our physical and etheric bodies that we withdraw as it were into the purely spiritual world with our astral bodies and egos. We can characterise that which presents itself now to the view of the spiritual researcher and say: the spiritual researcher looks at that which takes place, for example, constantly with the human being when he leaves his physical and etheric bodies while falling asleep and advances to the region of the higher world with his astral body and ego. The spiritual researcher simply watches what happens there with the human being — with every human being falling asleep. So that we can say: the spiritual researcher only observes what would show itself to every human soul if it could look down not in the dream state, but in the complete sleeping state at the world, so that it would find its physical and etheric bodies as something among the things of the world that is outside of it, of the sleeping soul.
We must not imagine that we see that which we have left there, in which we have left behind our physical and etheric bodies, from the point of view of sleep as we see our physical surroundings with our physical eyes. We have to use our physical senses, our physical eyes to see our surroundings from waking up to falling asleep. We do not use them when we are beyond our physical and etheric bodies. If we became suddenly clairvoyant in the sleeping state, we would perceive nothing of that what surrounds us in the waking state, as it is in the waking state. We also do not perceive our physical and etheric bodies as we perceive the physical body looking into a mirror. It is quite wrong to believe that one looks at the physical and the etheric bodies as if one bends with his astral body and ego over the physical and etheric bodies. This is not the case.
That what the Imaginative knowledge — we keep that in mind now: Imaginative knowledge — shows us that everything disappears to us, really disappears for the time being that we are used to see in the waking state. Also while we see our physical and etheric bodies, these are not like they are in the waking state, but our physical and etheric bodies appear to be enlarged to a world; they appear to us as connected with the whole earth. We are looking; we are aware that we are looking at the physical and etheric bodies. But we behold them, so that they are the only world for us at first. As well as we have mountains, rivers and clouds, the sun and stars et cetera round ourselves and look at them as our surroundings in the waking state, we look, while we look at our surroundings, when we are beyond our physical and etheric bodies, at our physical and etheric bodies as something that is extended to a world. We look at nothing else at all. We look at this as we look, otherwise, at the different things of our earth. We look there at our own physical nature like at a whole world.
It is strange that we feel this world at which we look there falling asleep that we feel it as we feel the earth in spring when it produces the single green rungs, after it has been freed from the snowy cover of the winter, when it makes the vegetation grow on it again, when everything begins shooting and sprouting. Falling asleep we look at the physical and etheric bodies enlarged to a world, we look at them, so that we can feel them like a planet waking in spring. And this goes on through the whole sleeping state that way. What we see there in mighty pictures which really appear to us in the expansion of a planet, begins going to its summer like the earth is about to go towards its summer when the spring comes to an end. We experience the sleeping state that way if we experience it properly.
We go in the sleeping state up to that point where we feel: our physical and etheric bodies bear something sprouting and shooting up to bloom, up to fruit; everywhere everything grows and blossoms. If I may express myself in detail, I have to say — for the Imaginative view that is paradoxical which shows itself that way, indeed: while looking physically we feel our earth's surface and experience its sprouting upwards, its growing and blooming in our consciousness. It is different when we now observe that from outside which takes action with our body and compare it with the plant world, as if its roots penetrate from above and grows with its flowers into our body. Thus we feel a completely reverse world, and the fruits are immersed. We learn then that with this immersion of the fruits is really expressed what becomes clear to us as the refreshment of sleep.
We know thereby that our physical and etheric bodies receive the forces from the whole universe — because everything is forces at what we look Imaginatively, — while we go on sleeping. We watch forces coming from the universe which are active in the creation of plants. We see the universe driving a vegetation into our physical nature. We get the sure knowledge of the fact that we leave our body while falling asleep, because we take away our physical and etheric bodies from the effects of the cosmic forces with our egos and astral bodies from waking up to falling asleep. Because we ourselves go out, the whole universe is able to have an effect on our physical and etheric bodies. It sends elemental, not physical forces into us which express themselves in the described Imaginations. Thus a relation is produced between physical body and etheric body with the whole universe every time when we fall asleep. While we live in the waking state in the physical world, our physical and etheric bodies really live during sleep in that what we call the elemental world, the world of the bare forces which show themselves just in the described Imaginations.
Where are we with our egos and astral bodies? We have often described, and it is also shown in different writings: we are with our egos and astral bodies in the world that has been described as the world of the higher hierarchies among the beings we call angeloi, archangeloi, archai et cetera. The egos and the astral bodies dive into these beings and their world. As well as we know about the beings of the animal, the plant, the mineral realms, when we are waking, and stand as human beings as it were above this world while we take up them in our thoughts, we are taken up like thoughts by the beings of the higher hierarchies. This is the significant matter that we can say: while here below our physical and etheric bodies are connected with the forces of the whole universe, we are thought from falling asleep up to waking, as if we were real beings, woven of thoughts and the will being; we are thought by the beings of the higher hierarchies. — As we think nature, the beings of the higher hierarchies think us. Hence, it is not right at all, exactly speaking, to say if one comes out of the physical body, he thinks the world. It is correct to say that one experiences to be thought by the world of the higher hierarchies. As the thought would have to feel itself during the waking life if it had consciousness, we would have to experience ourselves as the thoughts of the higher beings when we are outside our physical bodies.
How do we experience the reawakening Imaginatively? While we prepare to wake up gradually, we experience that really as we experience — we can compare the Imagination again to the external nature — the winter coming with its forces destroying and paralysing the sprouting summer life. As well as the winter above the earth brings frost and cold and the destruction of the summer splendour, we ourselves dive into the physical body and etheric body. Waking up we prepare the decline of the forces which entered our physical body and etheric body really like a vegetation, even like an animal realm from the elemental world of the universe as the winter prepares the decline of the summer splendour. While we are awake, we really transport our physical and etheric bodies as a result of our presence into such a condition as the cosmic relations transport the earth when it is winter. We spread out the winter over our own physical and etheric bodies, entering them. You see at the same time that what one uses from physical points of view often as a comparison is not right for the spiritual view. Indeed, the human being already has the consciousness instinctively that he is connected with the whole universe and that his experience is a microcosmic image of the macrocosm. But the human being prefers to say when he really wants to compare something in his microcosmic life to the macrocosmic life: waking is like the spring coming in our life and the waking life is like the summer. The autumn is like becoming tired in the evening and sleeping is like the winter. — Just the reverse is reality. The summer life is the sleeping life and the winter life is the waking life. This is the truth of the matter.
If the spiritual researcher investigates these relations, he finds that, while his ego and astral body rise to the realms of the higher hierarchies and are thought by the higher beings, not only the elemental world but also certain beings of the higher hierarchies work on his physical and etheric bodies. It is not only the elemental world which consists of forces, but real beings of the higher hierarchies, which work on our physical and etheric body. Something strange comes to light then that we can notice that we get to quite different conditions at the moment when we fall asleep as those in which we are while we are awake. As I have said, everything that can be expressed that way is based on the fact that the spiritual research permits us to watch the conditions of falling asleep and waking. Then it appears that also that being of the higher hierarchies has an effect on our physical and etheric bodies from waking up to falling asleep whom we must feel as the folk-soul to whom we belong. When the human being wakes up, he does not only dive into his physical and etheric bodies, but also into the processes which are carried out in his physical and etheric bodies by that which his folk-soul accomplishes. Something strange becomes apparent that the human being dives with falling asleep not only into those beings of the higher hierarchies who correspond to his individual development, but also into such spiritual beings we must regard as folk-souls. I ask to notice that, because it behoves us, who want to penetrate into spiritual science, to look deeper at the world interrelation than external perception can do it. Namely, the human being dives into the relationship to all folk-souls except his own folk-soul from falling asleep up to waking.
Let us remember: during the waking state we live immersed in the spiritual facts which our own folk-soul carries out in our physical and etheric bodies. We live together with our own folk-soul from waking up to falling asleep. Beside our folk-soul all the folk-souls of the other peoples are existent in the world. With falling asleep we dive into the relations of the other folk-souls, not in a single other folk-soul — make a note of that, — but in what they accomplish together, what they accomplish as it were in association, as a society. Only the own folk-soul is taken away from this relationship during night. We cannot escape to have also a relationship with all those folk-souls which belong to the other peoples in whom we are not incarnated in a certain incarnation. Since, while we belong to our folk-soul in our waking state, we belong to the other folk-souls in the sleeping state, indeed, only to their sounding-together; while we belong in the waking state to the intentions of the individual folk-soul in whose area we are born in a certain incarnation.
But there is a means to dive sleeping also into an other folk-soul. While we live in the normal awake state in our own folk-soul or its activity and in sleep in the harmony of the other folk-souls, we can dive sleeping in an individual folk-soul if we acquire a rather burning hatred of that which this other folk-soul accomplishes. So absurd it may sound, it is true — and we must be able in our movement to endure such a truth quietly: if the human being really feels burning hatred of a nation's area from his inner being, he condemns himself to sleep with the folk-soul of this nation's area at night, to be together with it.
We just touch a truth where we can see that life begins to have a deep seriousness behind that veil which covers the spiritual worlds for the everyday view, and that it is quite uncomfortable in a certain respect to be a supporter of spiritual science. Since spiritual science begins to be most serious about circumstances which one thinks uncomfortable in life and over which we are generously helped to get because life does not reveal the truth in the everyday sense. Although we must stand, of course, in the external life on the ground which this external life requires from us, we have to be serious about such a principle if we rise in spiritual science to those realms where other characteristics of life begin.
In my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? I spoke of the fact that at the moment when one rises in the spiritual world — and every human being is in the spiritual world, it concerns here only to a knowledge of that which is there always, — then that comfortable unity of the human being stops in which we live in the physical world. The human being experiences some splits; apart from those splits which are mentioned there, and which one can observe after the meeting with the guardian of the threshold, some other splits happen, for example, that is of deep importance for the soul-life. We have to accept while we live in a certain incarnation in a certain nation that it is involved in the whole process of the earth's evolution. We have to do our duty for the nation in which we stand and we have to offer our love to it. It must be clear to us that we really belong, because we are also spiritual beings in our ego and astral body, to the whole humankind and feel with our impulses with the whole humankind. Spiritual science does not allow that we live in it in one-sidedness, but we must be able to harmonise these both sides completely.
We have to realise that we harmonise — although we can love as a person of the present incarnation, even if we are spiritual scientists, our nation as intensely as somebody else is able to love his nation — this feeling with that which combines us with the whole humankind. And just spiritual science raises us to be brought together with the whole humankind because it shows us that we are connected with the whole humankind in our egos and astral bodies. Spiritual science demands more and more to harmonise contrasts from those who devote themselves to it with seriousness and dignity. It is bad if true spiritual science is confused with that unclear mystic activity which wants to combine the needs of the external, physical life with that for which we must rise diving into the spiritual world. Because unclear mysticism wants to bring in that everywhere in the everyday life what spiritual science only shows in the right light. That unclear mysticism will never be able to harmonise, for example, the love of the own nation with the love of the whole humankind, it leads to a hazy mystic cosmopolitism.
One can compare it, as I have already done, to that which hazy theosophists say all the time about equality and about the equal validity of any religion. Indeed, you can say in the abstract: all religions contain the truth. But this is exactly the same, as if one says: pepper, salt and paprika and everything possible are on the table, and all are food ingredients. Sugar, pepper, salt, and paprika — everything is the same. So I give paprika once into the coffee and sugar into the soup, because they are all food ingredients. Exactly on the same point of logic are those who drivel in an unclear mysticism only about the uniform core of all religions instead of getting involved in the real being of any detail that appears in our earth development. It does not depend on emphasising always: all peoples are only expressions of the generally human, but that we recognise the specific tasks which are given to the individual peoples by their folk-souls. A key is given for that in the series of talks which was printed long ago, which was held several years before the outbreak of the war, which did not come into being under the influence of the war, which one cannot reproach that it originated under the impressions of the war: The Mission of the Individual Folk-Souls in Connection with the Germanic-Nordic Mythology.
Just in our time it is important to call to mind such serious matters, so that the human being can find the harmony between general charity and patriotism. One does not need to shy away from characterising of any individual people, in so far as it is a people — the individual human being always rises up above his people. However, you can derive from my remarks that that has to take place without hatred, of course. Anybody does not recognise the real being of the individual plant if he hates the plant and describes what he feels as hatred. And also anybody cannot recognise the characteristics of a people if he describes what he hates of the people, or if he takes up that in the portrayal which comes from the emotions of hatred.
Thus somebody who is able to rise up to the points of view of spiritual science has to be eager all the time to see the being of the world not in a uniform unity, but just in the harmony of a variety. The human being has to find the possibility to feel all possible warmth for his people, concerning which he needs not show less commitment than anybody who does not strive for spiritual science, and to combine, on the other side, what brings us together with the whole humankind as a big complete being.
I said that we resume such matters the day after tomorrow. Now, however, I want to note that we take off that which brings us together with the single incarnation by our physical and etheric bodies at the same time, while we pass from our waking state into sleep and are thereby taken up in the beings of the higher hierarchies. So we take off our national being in sleep, too. We become only human beings, human beings with all the characteristics which we must have by that which we have acquired as human beings. If we look as spiritual scientist at that which happens to the human being, waking and sleeping, we perceive at the same time that in sleep the human being lives in the spiritual world with his ego and astral body, just as now also his physical and etheric bodies belong to the big world. The independent existence stops, which passes as it were in our skin, and we extend our selves to the big self.
Take into account that we go through a summer state and a winter state always in the course of twenty-four hours. The earth goes also through this summer and winter states, but the earth goes through them in the cycle of the year. Why does the earth go through these states in the cycle of the year? Because the earth is a being as we are, only on another level of the hierarchies. The whole earth, if we look at it physically, as it is around us, is only the body of the earth; and as well as we carry our soul and spirit in ourselves, the earth also has its soul and spirit. Only that is the difference that we are awake and sleep in the course of twenty-four hours, and the earth is awake and sleeps in the cycle of the year. It is awake from the autumn up to the spring and sleeps during the summer. So that we can always say, actually when we live in the summertime: we live embedded in the sleeping earth. — When we live in the wintertime: we live embedded in the waking earth. — It does not hold true that the earth is awake in summer and sleeps in winter as we can say in the trivial comparison taken from everyday life. But it is correct that when autumn comes the earth wakes up as a psycho-spiritual being and is most awake in the midwinter. The earth spirit thinks in the midwinter the most and starts stopping its thinking bit by bit while spring is approaching; and it sleeps when the external life sprouts; in the summertime the earth spirit is sleeping.
We as human beings are not only in connection with the body of the earth by our physical body, but also with the spirit of the earth. We know from various talks that the spirit we call the Spirit of Christ was united with the spirit of the earth by the Mystery of Golgotha. The Christ Spirit lives in the spirit of the earth since the Mystery of Golgotha. If the human beings want to commit a festival which should express that the Christ Spirit is in the earth spirit — in which time they have to set this festival? They must not set it in the summer, but in the winter, in the midwinter. This is Christmas. For this reason one sets Christmas and that which develops from it in the wintertime. This arose from a right knowledge of those who once arranged the Christian year. Out of esoteric truth Christmas was determined, not account of historical facts. For the human being, while he is embedded with his soul and spirit in the soul and spirit of the earth, is together with that most awake condition of the earth in the wintertime. There he lives in the waking earth.
And what did the ancient peoples do about whom we know that they worked and got knowledge with the help of a kind of dreamlike clairvoyance? They must refer preferably to that which lives in the sleeping earth spirit when the earth spirit sleeps mostly, has withdrawn mostly to its sleeping state. There they have risen to that — in contrast to the modern humankind — which gave them the truth unconsciously, as it had to be for them. Hence, in the midsummer we find the St John's-tide festival with the peoples who belonged to the cult which scooped its knowledge from the more sleeping, dreamlike state. It is the summer festival in contrast to Christmas which is fitting for the modern humankind.
What is determined so externally, and what our materialistic time does not understand at all, this actually has its deep bases in the spiritual reality. We live now in a time in which the human beings must start again thinking and feeling quite differently as it was the case in the past time. The past time had the task to bring the realm of materialistic thinking and feeling home to the human beings. And just the last centuries which the human souls lived through should bring them home to the materialistic thinking and feeling. The earth development had to go through the materialistic time. We do not do well to harshly criticise materialism. It had to come once in the earth development. But now we live in a time when materialism must be overcome again when spiritual beholding has to enter human souls again. This is the more or less bright or dark sensation of those who are attracted in their own souls to our spiritual-scientific attempts, to our spiritual-scientific world view. They just feel that now the time is there when one has consciously to take up this spiritual world, while the spiritual world was once seen in a dreamlike condition. Spiritual science is there for that.
The past time was that of materialism. Because humankind had to dive into materialism, the strong impulse which takes up humankind again had to work just through the time of materialism. This is the Christ Impulse. When the Christ Impulse came into the earth evolution, the preparation already began. It came in the 14th, 15th centuries all the more. But when it approached, humankind already prepared itself to dive into materialism. The Christ Impulse was there as an objective fact in the world evolution, but the human beings of that time were not able to understand it least of all. Now we live in the time when one has to start to really understand it.
What do we see, hence? We see a strange course of the Christ Impulse in the previous development. We see that this Christ Impulse when it has entered in the human development as a result of the Mystery of Golgotha is not understood at all by the human beings. Let us try once to form an idea about that which people did in their cleverness. Just in the first and the following centuries, after the Christ Impulse had entered, we find that any possible theological system forms, that the people argue about how they have to imagine the Trinity et cetera. We see an infinite theological squabbling through centuries, and it would probably be the worst way to want to understand the Christ Impulse today from this theological squabbling how the Christ Impulse has worked during these centuries. The people who quarrelled there about its understanding have also understood nothing of the way the Christ Impulse stands in the evolution.
Let us try to realise how this impulse really worked once. I may give you single facts. I take the event that happened in the fourth century A.D., in 312, on the 28th October, which determined the later map of Europe completely: this was that Constantine, who was called “the Great,” the son of Constantius Chlorus, moved against Maxentius, the ruler of Rome, and triumphed over him. That is why Christianity also was victorious in the western world in an external way. Constantine declared Christianity the state religion et cetera. However, did he act out of his cleverness? Did that happen, which happened in those days, out of cleverness? We cannot say this. What happened then, actually? When Maxentius, the ruler of Rome, got to know that Constantine was approaching, he asked the Sibylline Books at first. That means that he set about understanding the world phenomena in a dreamlike way. He got the statement out of these books that somebody would accomplish the right action if he left the city as a ruler of Rome and went into battle outside Rome. This was something most unusual that one could think. Because Constantine had a much smaller army than Maxentius and could have achieved nothing without doubt if Maxentius had remained in Rome. But Maxentius moved out of Rome on the advice of the Sibylline Books. However, also in the army of Constantine the generals were not victorious. Rather Constantine had a dream showing him the symbol of Christ. On account of this dream he made his armies carry the cross as the symbol of Christ. He made his behaviour dependent on that which the dream had revealed to him. This battle by which the map of Europe was determined at that time was not decided by means of human cleverness, nor did the generals triumph, but dreams and prophecies. Everything in Europe would have changed if in those days the matters had taken place according to the consciousness of the human beings and not according to that what worked out of the subconsciousness what the human beings just did not know.
The theologians have argued about the question who is Christ, whether He is born with the Father in eternity, whether He is born in time whether He had the same validity as the Father et cetera. In their thoughts nothing of the Christ Impulse was included. But it worked within the human beings in the subconscious regions. It worked not by the egos, but by the astral bodies. The Christ Impulse was reality and worked without human beings understanding it. This is the important, essential part. The working of Christ is so independent of that what human beings understood of it like the course of a thunderstorm is independent of that what human beings have learnt about electricity or in the physical laboratory. Now it is the time to immerse oneself consciously in the effectiveness of the Christ Impulse. But Christ was always working as a force in the historical events.
We go over from this to another, later example. However, there we have to remember of what I explained to you. For the time when materialism approached it is important to know that the human being, while he wants to immerse himself in the spiritual world, must do that best of all in the wintertime. Hence, the view arises everywhere for this time that at the mentioned nights of midwinter especially talented people are endowed with inspirations from the spiritual world. There are legends everywhere with the peoples that tell us how the especially talented human beings who experience no initiation but are endowed by their nature, by elemental forces working in them to be inspired, how these are inspired during the nights from Christmas Eve up to the Epiphany day, in thirteen winter nights.
There is a very nice legend which was found in Norway not long ago, the legend of Olaf Åsteson who approaches the church at Christmas Eve and falls asleep. He sleeps up to the sixth January; and when he wakes up, he knows how to tell in imaginations about that which has taken place in the soul land, in the realm of spirits, as we call it. He expresses it in pictures, but he has experienced it through these thirteen nights. Such legends are found everywhere. They are just not that which one calls legends today. Indeed, there have always been endowed human beings who have gone through a physical initiation by elemental forces working in them which the human being can go through if he carefully follows the instructions of the initiatory path by his will.
So that we can say: in the time of materialism there could always be human beings who could unite with the earth spirit and receive inspirations when the earth spirit is most awake, in the midwinter. This was also the time when the Christ Impulse was able to work which united with the earth. Imagine especially endowed souls who are receptive for the spiritual world. It became apparent to them that they just got the impulses to that what they had to accomplish from the spiritual world in these thirteen nights up to the sixth January. This had to appear and appeared always again in little and big examples that there were human beings in the historical course who were inclined spiritually so that if the right point in time entered when they lived through those thirteen nights in winter the spiritual impulse — and in this time the Christ Impulse in particular — came into them. Initiations by nature, initiations which did not take place by means of conscious work have been carried out in the time of materialism always the easiest in these thirteen nights. We can find out that where such initiations appeared they took place in these thirteen nights.
And now we have a fact that even those will accept, who have only a little good will to recognise the spiritual world — the fewest people have this today, — that spiritual forces entered the historical course in the 15th century in the form of a virgin, the Maid of Orleans, as can be proved. You can verify this also historically that again the whole map of Europe was arranged differently, because the Maid of Orleans helped the French against the English at that time. Who thinks about it can find out that everything would have formed differently after that what human beings are able to do unless the shepherd girl had intervened — and in this shepherd girl just the forces of the spiritual world. The Maid of Orleans was only the instrument for that which was caused in those days. The Christ Impulse worked in her.
However, she had to have a physical initiation for that — and this physical initiation had to be carried out the best in the thirteen nights up to the sixth January. The Maid of Orleans had to get a sleeping state in the time from the 24th December to the sixth January when she would have been especially receptive for the spiritual influence which can be there just in this time. So that one had to demand that the Maid of Orleans would have experienced the time in a not quite conscious state from the 24th December to the sixth January and would have got the Christ Impulse. — Yes, the Maid of Orleans went through this state in a quite striking way. One cannot go through it more strikingly, than when one is still in that sleeping state in which somebody is before his birth, in the last times which he/she spends as a child before the birth in the body of the mother. The external consciousness is not able, of course, to take up anything. There is a sleeping state, and if it is the end of the time in the womb, it is the ripest condition of the internal-motherly sleep.
Indeed, the Maid of Orleans is born on the sixth January. This is the great secret of the Maid of Orleans that it went through an initiation by nature during thirteen days, which preceded her birth. That was why especially sensitive people gathered on that sixth January, when the Maid of Orleans was born in the village, and said that something quite particular must have happened. They sensed that something particular had come to the village. The Maid of Orleans was born. She worked through an initiation by nature in that sleeping state which she experienced in the body of the mother in the last time before her birth. There we see the spiritual beings working behind the threshold of that which takes place for the human consciousness, which are under this threshold of consciousness.
We see what history can mean if it counts only on that which is given in documents and external communications. The gods go differently through the course of history. The gods work by other means and in other ways. They put a Maid of Orleans into life who is able because of her special karma of this incarnation to take up the Christ Impulse and to work with it. They allow the Christ Impulse to flow in at the right moment. Of course, both were right for that: the special individual karma of the Maid of Orleans had to be added. Not any child that is born on the sixth January could accomplish the same.
Thus we can really say: the Christ Impulse worked in the human being using those forces which did not become clear to these human beings. Only today do we live in the time in which we must consciously take up that which used another way for centuries than the conscious way to be effective in history.
I wanted to arouse a feeling in your souls how the subconscious powers work definitely, what external history is which can be studied according to the external documents, that it is trivialities. It is good if one does such a study in particular in our time. We see, nevertheless, just in our time something great, something immense, something valiant, combined with sacrificial actions, occurring. But we see this great that takes place in our time, being really accompanied from the consequence of the extreme materialism, from that consequence which tries to explain everything that takes place in our time by means of bare external circumstances. This finds expression in the fact that one nation puts the blame on the other nation for the present events and wants to judge everything externally, so that one finds the guilt with the other for that which takes place. Also for our time the causes and reasons of the events are right down at the bottom in the subconscious processes. We will speak about that the day after tomorrow.
Our time will be suitable — also because of the bloody events — to remind the human beings of spiritual impulses of cognition. If once again peace is in the countries waging war today, one will realise that one cannot explain such immense wars of world history out of external causes. One will find out that one cannot explain them. Today people still say, especially the clever ones: nobody is allowed to speak about everything that has caused this war, history will speak about that. — They regard themselves as especially prudent who say there: only in fifty, in hundred years history will speak the right thing about that.
What one calls history today will never explain the causes of these events; however, one will see that from the historical consideration the causes cannot be fathomed. But other support will be there. An esoteric observation of our present just shows this.
What is one of the most remarkable facts in this destiny-burdened time? Oh, one of the most remarkable facts is without doubt this that so countless human beings go through the gate of death in their youth. We know what happens with the human being when he goes through the gate of death. We know that he comes out of the physical body with his etheric body, astral body and ego and that he takes off his etheric body after relatively short time and makes his journey with the essence of the etheric body. However, you can imagine that a difference must be between an etheric body, which is taken off between the twentieth and thirtieth years which could still have supplied the functions of human life for decades, and an etheric body, which is taken off at the later age. Yes, there is a big difference. If a human being dies because of age or illness, the etheric body has fulfilled its task. But countless young human beings go now through the gate of death, and their etheric bodies could not yet fulfil everything that they could fulfil.
I would like to show you at a concrete example how it is in a certain way with such etheric bodies that are torn away by force from the physical bodies. One could give many examples, of course. But today I want to give you an example which we ourselves experienced in Dornach in autumn. We experienced it at the site of our construction. A family which lives near the construction had a little son of seven years — a family which belongs to our anthroposophical circle. It was a dear boy of seven years, really a boon boy. He was so well-behaved that when his father had gone to war the seven-year-old Theo said to his mother: now I must be especially diligent, because I must help you where the father has helped you.
One evening after a lecture, a person belonging to our circle came and reported that this little Theo has disappeared since the evening. One could imagine nothing but that he has had an accident. A removal van had driven in that evening by what one calls in the external life chance at a place where for years indeed no van has gone, and since that time also not. Here the carriage had tipped over. The little Theo had been in that small house which one calls the canteen because there our friends who work on the construction are supplied with food. Strangely enough — he would have left sooner — he was detained by somebody, and while he wanted to go out through a door through which he would have gone on a certain way, this time he had to go through another door, and he thereby passed the removal van, just when the removal van toppled over. The van fell on him. This is one of those examples where we see clearly karma working.
I often used the simple comparison to show how often cause and effect are totally confused: we see a person going along a river. Suddenly we see the person falling into the river. We go and find a stone lying where the person has fallen. The person is drawn out of the water. He is already dead. If one does not go on examining the matter, one tells the matter with the best external conscience in the following way: the man fell over the stone and then into the river, and drowned. — One would have only needed to examine, and one would have thought that death did not happen because the person fell into the water, but the person fell into the water because he was dead; he had got a heart attack. Just the opposite happened as one imagines. You see how easy it is to confuse cause and effect everywhere in life. However, in the usual science this happens everywhere that causes and effects are confused.
Of course, here is the case that this Theo just caused it. He was the cause that the van passed at this time, he steered it to himself. You have to imagine this as the real secret of the matter. But now I will go on: a human child is killed in an accident in the very first blossom of life. If anybody is combined wholeheartedly with the construction work in Dornach and has the possibility at the same time to observe what is working on this construction, then one can say: this etheric body which was separated by force from the little Theo is in the atmosphere of the construction. Thus one gains the best Inspirative forces for the construction combining his own soul with that what lives, expanded to a little world, in the atmosphere of the construction. Never will I hesitate before confessing unreservedly that I have to thank for much that I could find for our construction in that time that I directed my soul to the etheric body of the little Theo working in the atmosphere of the construction. Thus just the connections are in the world. The real individuality of this human being goes on, but the etheric body remains which could have still supplied a human life for many decades.
Imagine the number of the unused etheric bodies which are floating there in the spiritual atmosphere over us and over those who will also live after us. Those etheric bodies which are left behind by those who went in young age through the gate of death in our destiny-burdened time. We do not speak of the way the individualities go through, but we speak of the fact that an own spiritual atmosphere is created by these etheric bodies. The human beings, who will live there, will live in this atmosphere. They will be submerged into a spiritual atmosphere which is filled with these etheric bodies which sacrificed their lives, because just in our time humankind can advance by these events. But it will be necessary that one feels what these etheric bodies intend which are the best inspirators of the future humankind. A good time of spiritualism comes if human beings show understanding, internal heart understanding for that what these etheric bodies want to say to them. All these etheric bodies are assistants of the spiritual impetus of the future. That is why it is so important that there are souls who are able to feel that what comes into the atmosphere of the future by these etheric bodies.
You do not learn anything about the nature of the etheric bodies that you can tell: the human being consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego, but that you also know such a secret of the effective spirituality of the etheric bodies as it is there in future.
Those have to prepare themselves who already tend to stand up for spiritual science, to receive that which these etheric bodies want to say. If we turn our souls to the spiritual world, we prepare ourselves and those who come after us to feel that which the legacy, the etheric legacy of the dead wants from the future humankind. If human souls are stimulated by spiritual science, so that they are able to direct their spiritual senses to the spiritual worlds, then something great and immense will certainly sprout up as an effect of the blood, of the courage, of the sufferings, and of the sacrifices. Hence, I would like to summarise at the end of this consideration in some words that what may now inspire, invigorate us if we as spiritual-scientific supporters direct our senses to the big, destiny-burdened events of our time.
From the courage of the fighters,
From the blood of the battles,
From the grief of the bereaved,
From the nation's sacrifices
Will grow up the fruits of spirit
If souls aware of spirit turn
Their senses to the spirit-land.