World History in the Light of Anthroposophy
and as a Foundation for Knowledge of the Human Spirit
27 December 1923, Dornach
It was my task yesterday to show from the example of individual personalities how the historical evolution of the world runs its course. If one seeks to come further in the direction of Spiritual Science, one cannot represent things otherwise than by showing the consequences of events as they reflect themselves in the human being. For not until our own epoch does man feel himself for reasons which we will discuss in the course of these lectures, shut off as an individual being from the rest of the world. In all previous epochs man felt — and, be it noted, in all subsequent epochs man will again feel himself as member of the whole Cosmos, as belonging to the entire world; even as a finger (as I have often expressed it) can have no independent existence for itself, but can only exist on a human being. For the moment a finger is separated from the human being, it is no longer a finger, it begins to decay, it is something quite different, subject to quite other laws than when attached to the human organism. And as a finger is only a finger in unison with the organism, so in the same way is man only a being having some form or other, whether in Earth-life or in the life between death and a new birth, in connection with the entire Cosmos. The consciousness of this was present in earlier epochs and will again be present in a later time; it is only darkened to-day because, as we shall hear, it was necessary for man that it should be darkened and clouded in order that he might develop to the full the experience of freedom. The farther we go back however into ancient times, the more do we find man possessing this consciousness of belonging to the whole Cosmos.
I have given you a picture of two personalities, — the one called Gilgamesh in the famous Epic and the other Eabani. I have shown you how these personalities lived in the ancient Egypto-Chaldean epoch in accordance with what was possible to men of that time, and how they afterwards experienced a deepening through the Mysteries of Ephesus. And I told you at the end of my lecture yesterday that these same human beings had their part later in the historical evolution of the world as Aristotle and Alexander.
In order now fully to understand the course of Earth evolution in the times when all these things were taking place, we must look more closely into what such souls were able to receive into themselves in these three successive periods.
I have told you how the personality who is concealed behind the name of Gilgamesh undertook a journey to the West and went through a kind of Western Post-Atlantean initiation.
Let us first form an idea of the nature of such an initiation, that we may the better understand what came later. We shall naturally turn to a place where echoes of the old Atlantean initiation remained on for a long time. This was the case with the Hibernian Mysteries, 1See the 8th and 9th lectures in Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centres. of which I have recently spoken to the friends who are here in Dornach. I must now repeat some of what I then said before we can come to a clear and full understanding of the subject we are treating.
The Mysteries of Hibernia, the Irish Mysteries, were in existence for a long time. They were still there at the time of the foundation of Christianity. And they are the Mysteries that in some respects preserved most faithfully the ancient wisdom-teaching of the Atlantean peoples. Let me give you a picture of the experiences of a person who was initiated into the Irish Mysteries in the Post-Atlantean epoch. Before he was able to receive the initiation he had to be strictly prepared; the preparation that had to be undergone before entering the Mysteries was always in those times of extraordinary strictness and rigour. The important thing in the Hibernian Mysteries was that the pupil should learn to become aware in powerful inward experience ofthat which is illusory in his environment, — in all the things, that is to say, to which man attributes being on the ground of his sense-perception. Then he was made aware of all the difficulties and obstacles which meet man when he searches after the truth, the real truth. And he was shown how, fundamentally, everything which surrounds us in the world of the senses is an illusion, that what the senses give is illusion, and that the truth conceals itself behind the illusion, so that in fact true being is not accessible to man through sense-perception.
Now, very likely you will say that this conviction you yourselves have held for a long time; you know this quite well. But all the knowledge a man can have in the present-day consciousness of the illusory character of the sense-world is as nothing compared with the inner shattering, the inner tragedy that men of that time suffered in their preparation for the Hibernian initiation. For when one says theoretically in this way: Everything is Maya, everything is illusion, — one takes it quite lightly! But the training of the Hibernian pupils was carried to such a point that they had to say to themselves: There is for man no possibility of penetrating the illusion and coming to real true Being.
The pupils were by this means trained to content themselves, as it were in desperation, with the illusion. They came into an attitude of despair: the illusory character, they felt, is so overpowering and so penetrating that one can never get beyond it. And in the life of these pupils we find always the feeling: Very well then, we must remain in the illusion. That means, however: we must lose the very ground from under our feet. For there is no standing firm on illusion! In truth, my dear friends, of the strictness and severity of the preparation in the ancient Mysteries, we to-day can scarcely form any idea. Men shrink in terror before what inner development actually demands.
Such was the experience that came to the pupils in regard to Being and its illusory character. And now there awaited them a similar experience regarding the search after Truth. They learned to know the hindrances man has in his emotions that hinder him from coming to truth, all the dark and overwhelming feelings that trouble the clear light of knowledge. And so once more they came to a great moment when they said to themselves: If Truth is not, well then we live — we must live — in error, in untruth. For a man to come thus to a time in his life when he despairs of Being and of Truth means, in short, that he tears out of him his own humanity.
All this was given in order that the human being, through experiencing the opposite of what he was finally to reach as his goal, might approach that goal with the right and deep human feeling. For unless one has learned what it means to live with error and illusion, then one cannot value Being and Truth. And the pupils of Hibernia had to learn to value Being and Truth.
And then, when they had gone through all this, when they had, as it were, experienced to the bitter end, the opposite pole of what they were eventually to reach, the pupils were led (and here I must describe what happened in the picture-language that can rightly represent what took place as reality in the Hibernian Mysteries) — they were led into a kind of sanctuary where were two pillar-statues of infinitely strong suggestive force, and of gigantic size. The one of these pillar-statues was inwardly hollow; the surface that surrounded the hollow space, the whole substance, that is, of which the statue consisted, was elastic throughout. Wherever one pressed, one could make an indentation into the statue; but the moment one ceased to press, the form restored itself.
The whole pillar-statue was made in such a way that the head was more particularly developed. When a man approached the statue, he had the feeling: Forces are streaming forth from the head into the colossal body. For of course he did not see the space within, he only became aware of it when he pressed. And the pupil was exhorted to press. He had the feeling that the forces of the head rayed out over the whole of the rest of the body, that in this statue the head does everything.
I willingly admit, my dear friends, that if a modern man in our present-day prosaic life were led before the statue, he would scarcely be able to experience anything but quite abstract ideas about it. That is certainly so. But it is a different matter, first to experience with one's whole inner being, with soul and spirit, yes, and with blood and nerves, the might of illusion and the might of error, — and then, after that, to experience the suggestive force of such a gigantic figure.
This statue had a male character.
By the side of it stood another, that had a female character. It was not hollow. It was composed of a substance that was not elastic, but plastic. When the pupil pressed this statue — and again he was exhorted to do so — he destroyed the form. He dug a hole in the body.
After the pupil had found how in the one statue, owing to its elasticity, the form was always re-established, and how in the other he defaced the statue by pressing it, and after something else too had taken place, of which I shall speak presently, he left the place, and was only led back there again when all the deformations he had caused in the plastic non-elastic female figure had been restored, and the statue was intact. Thanks to all the preparations which the pupil had undergone — and I can only give them here in outline — he was able to receive in connection with the statue having a female character a deep inner experience in the whole of his being — body, soul and spirit.
This inner experience had of course been already prepared in him earlier, but it was established and confirmed in full measure through the suggestive influence of the statue. He received into him a feeling of inward numbness, of hard and frozen numbness. This so worked in him that he saw his soul filled with Imaginations. And these Imaginations were pictures of the Earth's winter, pictures that represented the winter of the Earth. Thus was the pupil led to perceive Reality, in the spirit, from within.
With the other, the male statue, he had a different experience. He felt as though all the life in him, which was generally spread out over the whole body, went into his blood, as if his blood were permeated with forces and pressing against his skin. Whereas before the one statue he had to feel that he was becoming a frozen skeleton, he had now to feel before the other that all the life in him was being consumed in heat, and he was living in a tightly-stretched skin. And this experience of the whole inner man pressing against the surface enabled the pupil to receive a new insight. He was able to say to himself: You have now a feeling and experience of what you would be if, of all the things in the Cosmos, the Sun alone worked upon you. In this way he learned to recognise the working of the Sun in the Cosmos, and how its working is distributed in the Cosmos. He learned to know man's relation to the Sun. And he learned that the reason why man is not in reality what he now felt himself to be under the suggestive influence of the Sun-statue, is because other forces, working in from other corners of the Cosmos, ‘mummify’ this working of the Sun. In such manner did the pupil learn to find his bearings in the Cosmos, to be, as it were, at home in the Cosmos.
And when the pupil felt the suggestive influence of the Moon-statue, when he had in him the hard frost of numbness and experienced a winter landscape within him (in the case of the Sun-statue, he experienced a summer landscape in the spirit), then he felt what he would be like if the Moon influences alone were present.
What does man really know about the world in the present-day? He knows, let us say, that the chicory flower is blue, that the rose is red, the sky blue, and so forth. But these facts make no violent or overwhelming impression upon him. They merely tell him of what is nearest at hand, of what is in his immediate environment. If man would know the secrets of the Cosmos, then he must become in his whole being a sense-organ, — and, to an intense degree.
Through the suggestive influence of the Sun-statue, the whole of the pupil's being was concentrated in the circulation of the blood. He learned to know himself as a Sun-being, as he experienced within him this suggestive influence. And he learned to know himself as Moon-being, by experiencing the suggestive influence of the female statue. And then he was able to tell from out of these inner experiences he had received, how Sun and Moon work upon the human being; even as we to-day can say, from the experience of our eyes, how the rose affects us, or from the experience of our ears can tell the working of the sound of C sharp, and so on.
Thus the pupils of these Mysteries experienced still, even in Post-Atlantean times, how man is placed, as it were, in the Cosmos. It was for them an immediate and direct experience.
Now what I have related to you to-day is but a brief sketch of the sublime experience that came to men in the Mysteries of Hibernia, and continued so to come until the first centuries of the Christian Era. It was a cosmic experience — this Sun-experience and Moon-experience.
In the Mysteries of Ephesus in Asia Minor the pupil had to undergo experiences of quite a different character. Here he experienced in a particularly intense manner, with the whole of his being, that which later found such perfect expression in the opening words of the John-Gospel: ‘In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And a God was the Word.’ In Ephesus, the pupil was led, not before two statues, but before one, — the statue that is known as the Artemis (Diana) of Ephesus. Identifying himself — as I said yesterday — with this statue which was fullness of life, which abounded everywhere in life, the pupil lived his way into the Cosmic Ether. With the whole of his inner feeling and experience he raised himself out of mere earthly life, raised himself up into the experience of the Cosmic Ether. And now he was guided, to a new knowledge. First of all, the real nature of human speech was communicated to him. And then from human speech, from the human image, that is, of the Cosmic Logos, from the humanly-imaged Logos, it was shown to the pupil how the Cosmic Word works and weaves creatively throughout the Universe.
Once more, I can only describe these things in bare outline. The process was such that the attention of the pupil was especially drawn to what happens when the human being speaks, when he impresses the mark of his word on the outgoing breath. He was led to experience what happens with that which, through his own inner deed, man leads over into life, — to feel how his “word” looks in the element of air; and moreover, how two further processes are united with what takes place in the element of air.
Imagine that we have here the expired air, on which are impressed certain words that the human being speaks. Whilst this breath, formed into words, streams outwards from the breast, the rhythmic vibration goes downwards and passes over into the whole watery element that permeates the human organism. Thus at the level of his throat, his speech-organs, man has the air-rhythms when he speaks. But along with his speaking goes a wave-like surging and seething of the whole fluid-body in the human being. The fluid in man, that is below the region of speech, comes into vibration and vibrates in harmony. This is what it really means when we say that our speech is accompanied by feelings. If the watery element in the human being did not vibrate in harmony in this way, man's speech would go forth from him neutrally, indifferently; he would not be able to permeate what he says with feeling. And upwards in the direction of the head, goes the element of warmth, and accompanying the words that we impress upon the air are upward-streaming waves of warmth, which permeate the head and there make it possible for our words to be accompanied by thought.
Thus, when we speak, we have to do with three things: air, warmth and water. This process, which alone presents a complete picture of what lives and weaves in human speech was taken as the starting-point for the pupil of Ephesus.
It was then made clear to him that that which thus takes place in the human being is a cosmic process made human, and that in a certain far-off time the Earth itself worked in that way; only it was not then the air element, but the watery element, the fluid element — which I described yesterday as a volatile, fluid albumen — that had this wavelike moving and surging. Like the air in man, in the microcosm, when he speaks on the outgoing breath, so was once the volatile, fluid element, the albumen which surrounded the Earth like an atmosphere. And as to-day the air passes over into the warmth-element, so the albumen went upwards into a kind of air-element, and downwards into a kind of earthly element. And as with us feelings arise in our body through the fluid element, so in the Earth the Earth-formations, the Earth-forces sprang into existence, all the forces that work and seethe within the Earth. And above, in the airy element the cosmic thoughts were born, the soaring cosmic thoughts that work creatively in the earthly substance.
Majestic and powerful was the impression that the human being received at Ephesus, when he was shown how in his own speech lived the microcosmic echo of what had once been macrocosmic. And the pupil of Ephesus, when he spoke, felt an insight come to him through the experience of speech into the working of the Cosmic Word. He could perceive how the Cosmic Word set in motion the volatile fluid element, giving it movement full of meaning and import; he saw too how it went upward to the creative cosmic thought, and downward to the Earth-forces coming into being.
Thus did the pupil live his way into the Cosmos, by learning to understand aright what was in his own being. ‘Within thee is the human Logos. The human Logos works from out of thee during thy time on Earth. Thou, as man, art the human Logos.’ (For in very deed through that which streams downwards in the fluid element we are ourselves formed and moulded out of speech, whilst through that which streams upwards, we have our human thoughts during our time on Earth.) ‘And even as in thee the essence of humanity is the microcosmic Logos, so once in the far-off beginning of things was the Logos, and It was with God and Itself was a God.’
In Ephesus men had a profound understanding of this for they understood it in and through the human being.
In considering such a personality as is concealed behind the name of Gilgamesh, you must remember how he led his life in the whole milieu and environment that radiated out from the Mysteries. For all culture, all civilisation, was in earlier times a radiation from the Mysteries; so that when I name Gilgamesh to you, you must think of him — as long as he was living in Erech — not indeed as himself initiated into the Mysteries of Erech, but as living in a civilisation that was permeated with the feeling and experience man could have from his relation to the Cosmos.
An experience then came to this personality during his journey to the West, which made him directly acquainted, not with the Hibernian Mysteries themselves — he did not travel so far afield — but with what was cultivated in a colony of the Hibernian Mysteries, situated, as I told you, where the Burgenland now is. What he experienced there lived in his soul and then developed further in the life between death and new birth; and in the next earthly life he underwent at Ephesus a deepening of the soul in connection with this same experience.
The deepening of the soul took place for both the individuals of whom we have been speaking. Verily it was as though a torrent surged up from the depth of the civilisation of that time and broke like a great wave on the souls of these two. They experienced in vivid and intense reality what survived in Greece after the Homeric period only as a beautiful semblance, as the glory of something that is gone.
In Ephesus one could still have a feeling of the whole Reality in which man had once upon a time been living, in the days when he still had an immediate relation to the Divine-Spiritual; when Asia was for him only the lowest of the heavens, when he still had connection with the higher heavens bordering upon it. In those far-off times man had experienced in ‘Asia’ the presence of the Nature Spirits, and above, the presence of the Angels, Archangels, etc., and above them again, the Exusiai and the rest of the Hierarchies. Of all this one could still have as it were an after-feeling in Ephesus, in the place, that is, where Heraclitus also lived and where so much of the old Reality was still experienced even in later Grecian times, down to the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.
It was indeed characteristic of the Greek that he took what had once been experienced by man in connection with the Cosmos and steeped it in the myth, in beauty, in the element of art, turning it into images that man felt more human and more near to him.
Now we must turn our thoughts to a time when on the one hand the Greek civilisation had reached its zenith, when it had proudly pushed back, in the Persian wars, the last thrust as it were of the old Asiatic Reality, a time when however on the other hand Greece itself was already beginning to decline; and we must picture to ourselves what a man of such a time would experience if he still bore in his soul the unmistakable echoes of what had once been the Divine-Spiritual earthly Reality in body, soul, and spirit of mankind.
We shall have to see how Alexander the Great and Aristotle lived in a world that was not altogether adapted to them, in a world indeed that held great tragedy for them. The fact is, Alexander and Aristotle stood in an altogether different relation to the Spiritual from the men around them; for although they cannot be said to have concerned themselves very much with the Samothracian Mysteries, they had nevertheless a strong affinity in their souls to what went on with the Kabiri in those Mysteries. And right on into the Middle Ages there were those who understood what this meant. Men of the present day build up altogether false ideas of the Middle Ages: they do not realise that there were individuals of all classes in life, on into the 13th and 14th centuries, who possessed a clear spiritual vision, at any rate in that realm which in the ancient East was designated as ‘Asia.’ The Song of Alexander 2Composed about 1125 by the Franconian priest Lamprecht; the first German secular epic poem. that was composed by a certain priest in the early Middle Ages is a very significant document; in comparison with the account history gives to-day of the doings of Alexander and Aristotle, the poem of the Priest Lamprecht is a sublime and grand conception, still akin to the old understanding of all that had come to pass through Alexander the Great.
Take for instance a passage in the poem where a wonderful description is given after the following style. When Springtime comes, you go out into the woods. You come to the edge of the wood. Flowers are blooming there, and the sun stands where it lets the shadow fall from the trees on to the flowers. And there you may see how in the shadow of the trees in Spring spiritual flower-children come forth from the calices of the flowers and dance in chorus at the edge of the wood.
In this description of Lamprecht the Priest we can perceive distinctly shining through, an old and real experience which was still accessible to men of that time. They did not go out into the woods, saying prosaically: Here is grass, and here are flowers, and here the trees begin; but when they approached the wood while the sun stood behind it and the shadow fell across the flowers, then in the shadow of the trees there came towards them from the flowers a whole world of flower-beings — beings that were actually present to them before they entered into the wood. For when they came in the wood itself they perceived quite other elemental spirits. This dance of the flower-spirits appeared to Lamprecht the Priest and he delighted especially in picturing it. It is indeed significant, my dear friends; Lamprecht, even as late as the 12th or beginning of the 13th century wishing to describe the campaigns of Alexander, permeates them everywhere with descriptions of Nature that still contain the manifestations of the elemental kingdoms. Underlying his Song of Alexander, there was this consciousness: ‘To describe what took place once upon a time in Macedonia when Alexander began his journeys into Asia, when Alexander was taught by Aristotle, we cannot merely describe the prosaic Earth as the environment of these events; no, to describe them worthily we must include with the prosaic Earth the kingdoms of the elemental beings.’ How different from a modern book of history, which is, of course, quite justified for present times. There you will read how Alexander, against the counsel of his teacher Aristotle whom he disobeyed, conceived himself to have the mission to reconcile the barbarians with civilised mankind, creating so to speak an average of culture; the civilised Greeks, the Hellenes, the Macedonians and the barbarians.
That, no doubt, is right enough for modern time. And yet how puerile, compared to the real truth! On the other hand we have a wonderful impression when we look at the picture Lamprecht gives us of the campaigns of Alexander, attributing to them quite a different goal. We feel as though what I have just described — the entry of the Nature-elemental kingdoms, of the Spiritual into the Physical in Nature, — were intended merely as an introduction. For what is the aim of Alexander's campaigns in the Alexanderlied of Lamprecht?
Alexander comes to the very gates of Paradise. Translated as it is into the Christian language of his time, this corresponds in a high degree, as I shall presently explain, to the real truth. For the campaigns of Alexander were not undertaken for the mere sake of conquest, still less against the advice of Aristotle to reconcile the barbarians with the Greeks. No, they were permeated by a real and lofty spiritual aim. Their impulse came out of the spirit. Let us read of it in Lamprecht's poem, who in his own way with great devotion, albeit 15 centuries after the life of Alexander, tells the heroic story. He tells us how Alexander came up to the gates of Paradise, but could not enter in, for, as Lamprecht says, he alone can enter Paradise who has the true humility, and Alexander, living in pre-Christian time, could not yet have that. Only Christianity could bring to mankind the true humility.
Nevertheless, if we conceive the thing not in a narrow but in a broad-minded way, we shall see how Lamprecht, the Christian priest, still feels something of the tragedy of Alexander's campaigns.
It is not without purpose that I have spoken of this ‘Song of Alexander.’ For now you will not be surprised if we take our start from the campaigns of Alexander in order to describe what went before and what went after in the history of Western mankind, in its connection with the East. For the real underlying feeling of these things was still widely present, as we have seen, at a comparatively late period in the Middle Ages. Not only so; it was present in so concrete a form that the ‘Song of Alexander’ could arise, describing as it does with wonderful dramatic power the events that were enacted through the two souls whom I have characterised.
The significance of this moment in the history of Macedonia reaches on the one hand far back into the past, and on the other hand far on into the future. And it is essential to bear in mind how something of a world-tragedy hangs over all that has to do with Aristotle and Alexander. Even externally the tragedy comes to light. It shows itself in this, my dear friends. Owing to peculiar circumstances — circumstances that were fateful for the history of the world — only the smallest part of the writings of Aristotle have come into Western Europe, and there been further studied and preserved by the Church. In point of fact it is only the writings that deal with logic or are clothed in logical form.
A serious study, however, of the little that is preserved of Aristotle's scientific writings will show what a powerful vision he still had of the connection of the whole Cosmos with the human being. Let me draw your attention to a single passage.
We speak to-day of the earth-element, the water-element, the air-element, the fire- or warmth-element, and then of the Ether. How does Aristotle represent all this? He shows the Earth, the hard firm Earth; the fluid Earth, the Water; then the Air; and the whole permeated and surrounded with Fire. But for Aristotle the ‘Earth’ in this sense teaches up as far as the Moon. And from the Cosmos, reaching from the stars to the Moon, not, that is to say, into the Earth-realm, but only as far as the Moon, coming towards us, as it were, from the Zodiac, from the stars — is the Ether, filling cosmic space. The Ether reaches downwards as far as the Moon.
All this may still be read by scholars in the books that have been written about Aristotle. Aristotle himself, however, used continually to say to his pupil Alexander: That Ether that is away there beyond the realm of earthly warmth — the light-ether, the chemical ether and the life-ether — was once upon a time united with the Earth. It came in as far as to the Earth. And when the Moon withdrew in the ancient epoch of evolution, then the Ether withdrew from the Earth. And so all that is around us in space as dead world — so ran Aristotle's teaching to his pupil Alexander — is not permeated by Ether. When however, Springtime approaches, and plants, animals and human beings come forth to new life on the Earth, then the elementary spirits bring down again the Ether from out of the realm of the Moon, bring it down into these newborn beings. Thus is the Moon the shaper and moulder of beings.
Standing before that great female figure in the Hibernian Mysteries, the pupil of the Mysteries had a most vivid experience of how the Ether does not really belong to the Earth, but is brought down thither by the elementary spirits, every year, in so far as it is needed for the up-springing into life.
And this was so for Aristotle. He, too, had a deep insight into the connection of the human being with the Cosmos. His pupil Theophrastus did not let the writings come westwards that treat of these things. Some of them, however, went to the East, where there was still an understanding for such truths. Thence they were brought by Jews and Arabs through North Africa and Spain to the West of Europe, and there met, in a manner that I shall have yet to describe, with the radiation of the Hibernian Mysteries, as these expressed themselves in the civilisation and culture of the peoples.
But now all that I have been describing to you was no more than the starting-point for the teaching that Aristotle gave to Alexander. It was a teaching that belonged entirely to inner experience. I might describe it in outline somewhat as follows. Alexander learned from Aristotle to understand how the earthy, watery, airy and fiery elements that live outside the human being in the world around him live also within the human being himself, and how he is in this connection a true microcosm. He learned how in the bones of the human being lives the earthy element, and how in his circulation and in all the fluids and humours in him lives the watery element. The airy element works in all that has to do with the breathing, and the fiery element lives in the thoughts of man. Alexander had still the conscious knowledge of living in the elements.
And with this experience of living in the elements of the world went also the experience of a near and intimate relationship with the Earth. In these days we travel East, West, North, South, but have no feeling for what streams into our being the while; we only see what our external senses perceive, we only see what the earthly substances in us, not what the elements in us perceive.
Aristotle, however, was able to teach Alexander: When you go eastwards over the Earth, you pass more and more into an element that dries you up. You pass into the Dry.
You must not imagine this to mean that when one travels to Asia one is completely dried up. We have here, of course, to do with fine and delicate workings, that Alexander was perfectly able to feel in himself after he had received the guidance and instruction of Aristotle. When he was in Macedonia he could feel: I have a certain measure of dampness or moistness in me, that diminishes as I go eastward. In this way, as he wandered over the Earth he felt its configuration, as you may feel a human being by touching him, let us say by drawing your hand caressingly over some part of his body, feeling the difference between nose and eye and mouth. So was a personality such as I have described to you able to perceive a difference between the experience he had when he came more and more into the Dry, and the experience that was his on the other hand in going westward and coming more and more into the Moist.
The other differentiations man still experiences to-day, though crudely. In the direction of the North he experiences the Cold; in the direction of the South the Warm, the Fire element. But the interplay of Moist and Cold, when one goes North-West — that is no longer experienced.
Aristotle awakened in Alexander all that Gilgamesh had passed through when he undertook the journey over to the West. And the result of it was that his pupil could perceive in direct inner experience what is felt in the direction of North-West, in the intermediate zone between Moist and Cold: — Water. A man like Alexander not merely could, but did actually speak in such a manner as not to say: There goes the road to the North-West — but instead: There goes the road to where the element of Water holds dominion. In the intermediate zone between Moist and Warm lies the element where the Air holds dominion.
Such was the teaching in the ancient Greek Chthonian Mysteries, and in the ancient Samothracian Mysteries; and thus did Aristotle teach his own immediate pupil.
And in the zone between Cold and Dry — that it to say, looking from Macedonia, towards Siberia — men had the experience of a region of the Earth where Earth itself, the earthy, holds dominion — the element Earth, the hard and the firm. In the intermediate zone between Warm and Dry, that is, towards India, was experienced a region of the Earth where the Fire element ruled.
And so it was that the pupil of Aristotle pointed Northwest and said: There I feel the Water-Spirits working upon the Earth; pointed South-West and said: There I feel the Air-Spirits; pointed North-East and there beheld hover especially the Spirits of the Earth; pointed South-East towards India, and saw the Spirits of Fire hover over the Earth, saw them there in their element.
And in conclusion, my dear friends, you will be able to feel the deep and close relation both to the natural and to the moral, when I tell you how Alexander began to speak in this way: I must leave the Cold-Moist element and throw myself into the Fire — I must undertake a journey to India. That was a manner of speaking that was as closely bound up with the natural as it was with the moral. I shall have more to say about this tomorrow.
I wanted to-day to give you a picture of what was living in those times; for in all that took place between Alexander and Aristotle we may see at the same time a reflection of the great and mighty change that was taking place in the world's history.. In those days it was still possible to speak in an intimate way to pupils, of the great Mysteries of the past. But then mankind began to receive in increasing measure logic, abstract knowledge, categories, and to push back the other.
We have therefore to see in these events the working of a tremendous and deep change in the historical evolution of mankind, and at the same time an all-important moment in the whole progress of European civilisation in its connection with the East.