As an introduction to these fourteen lectures, we quote the following extract from Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth's book, The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner (pp. 517: 520–521, Spiritual Science Library, Blauvelt NY):
“In Dornach he then gave the second of the three cycles of lectures preparing for the Christmas Conference. The first, between October 5 and 12, had set forth the work of the four Archangels in the course of the year. The second, between October 19 and November 11, dealt with the theme Man as Symphony of the Cosmic Word; the third, between November 23 and December 23, bore the title Mystery Formations. These three cycles led spiritual-scientific knowledge systematically from an insight into the work of the spiritual Guiding Powers, the Hierarchical Beings, to man as the earthly being who is to receive the creative action of the Cosmic Word and bring it to realization on earth; and they gave the foundation for the new impulse to be initiated during this year, a survey of the nature of the Mysteries in the history of humanity, the work of which is now to be observed in the further stages of evolution and continued in a manner in keeping with the times.
“The time from the end of November until Christmas was devoted to the preparations for the coming decisive events. Rudolf Steiner did this through the third of the lecture cycles mentioned above dealing with Mystery Formations. By way of introduction, he explained the path that a human being must follow in his soul life in order to penetrate to an insight into the spiritual foundations of the world. He set forth that the spiritual in the course of evolution has worked each time upon the soul element of man, and molded the physiological element, even into the metamorphosing of the activity of thinking, of the forces of memory, of hereditary impulses, but also into the individual imprint in gesture, physiognomy, and structure of body. He gave also a detailed description of the early stages in the evolution of the earth and the relations of the human being to the Beings, substances, and forces of the earth planet. And he now developed in the lectures of December 2–23 a magnificent picture of the history of the ancient Mysteries out of which we can still read how in early epochs this knowledge was achieved, protected, nurtured in the Mystery places of the earth, and developed in the Mysteries of the North and the South as the most sacred treasure of humanity, unfolded from stage to stage.
“This description of a previously almost completely unknown chapter of spiritual history and the history of the Mysteries is so comprehensive, and so important in its details, lays open such an abundance of knowledge about the methods and stages of the spiritual guidance of humanity through the centuries that we can only allude here to the most important main divisions: “The Ephesus Mysteries of Artemis. The Mystery places of Hybernia. The Great Mysteries of Hybernia. The Chthonic and the Eleusinian Mysteries. The transition from Plato to Aristotle. The mystery of the nature of the plant, the metal, and the human being. The mysteries of the Cabire of Samothrace. The transition from the spirit of the ancient Mysteries to those of the Middle Ages. The soul striving of the human being during the Middle Ages. The Rosicrucian Mysteries.
“It is now the task of the modern Mystery place, of the spiritual-scientific Movement and its school, the Goetheanum in Dornach, to bring about again in human consciousness the lost knowledge of the spiritual guidance of man and of humanity out of the spiritual history of the past. The revelation given during these weeks out of the history of the mysteries was for that reason the right foundation for the decisions to be carried out at Christmas of this year. Those who heard the lectures of November and December 1923 experienced the fact, and will still remember it, that at this decisive point the future history of humanity was inscribed in the consciousness and forces of the earth and the consciousness of those human beings who had a will for its reception.”
This book was originally published in October 1942 in London, England by the Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company.
We have decided to reprint it in its original book format for several reasons. Historically, it should be helpful to all those readers and collectors of rare book editions. Some of these books or lectures are either out of print, or copies are very difficult to find, and so these reprints will be most useful in making as much of Dr. Steiner's Spiritual Science Research available at all times and to a wider audience. To help spread the knowledge contained in these books to the general public, through as many different editions, sources and outlets as possible is one of the primary objectives of the Foundation and its Institute, and that is why we are supporting this effort.
We are most thankful to those early pioneers, who produced these editions which have been so valuable to many of us in America when first we contacted Dr. Steiner's Spiritual Science. And it is with sincere appreciation of their courage and effort that we present these volumes to a wider audience in keeping with their original objective.
Steiner Institute for Spiritual Research (a project of the Foundation for Advancement of Arts and Letters, in memory of Rudolf Steiner)