19 July 1924, Arnhem
Yesterday I spoke of the karma of the Anthroposophical Society. To-day I propose to speak of certain cognate matters, and in such a way that the present lecture will be comprehensible in itself.
Everything that will have to be achieved in the present epoch of evolution as a preparation for spiritual happenings in the near and more distant future, is connected with what, among anthroposophists, I have often called the Michael Event. And in connection with this Michael Event I want to speak to-day about something that concerns the Anthroposophical Movement.
In speaking of a happening such as this Michael Event, it must always be remembered that the world develops by stages. When we study the evolution of the world with the faculties which man's earthly life between birth and death enables him to possess to-day, we see humanity evolving on the Earth, we see ancient peoples arising from still earlier peoples; we see that from the background of very ancient Oriental civilisations, from the Indian, the Chinese, the Arabian and the Chaldean-Egyptian peoples, the Greeks and the Romans gradually emerge; then we come to the Middle Ages and finally to our own age — our modern age with all its aberrations but also with its great technical achievements. Yet not only is there this external development of the peoples but as it were behind it, evolution is also taking place. We can perceive evolution being passed through not only by mankind but also by spiritual Beings who are connected in certain ways with the evolution of humanity. In their ranks are those Beings called the Angeloi — the Angels in Christian terminology. They are directly connected with the individual human being. They lead, or guide him in so far as he needs guidance, from one earthly life to another and are his Guardians, his Protectors, whenever and wherever he needs their protection. Therefore, super-sensible though they be and imperceptible to earthly sight, the Angeloi are directly connected with mankind's evolution.
In the next immediately adjacent spiritual realm, the Beings whom we call the Hierarchy of the Archangeloi, the Archangels, unfold their activity. The Archangeloi have to do with much that also plays a part in the evolution of humanity. They have to do, not with the individual human being, but with groups of human beings. Thus, as I have said in many anthroposophical lectures, the evolution of the peoples is under the rulership of Archangelic Beings. But it is also the case that certain epochs in Earth-evolution receive their essential impulses from individual Archangeloi. For example, during the three centuries preceding the last third of the nineteenth century, namely during the nineteenth, eighteenth, seventeenth centuries and part of the sixteenth, we must think of the civilised world as being essentially under the dominion of the Archangel known to Christians capable of speaking of these things, as Gabriel. This period was therefore the Age of Gabriel.
This particular Gabriel Age is of great significance for the whole evolution of mankind in modern times, for the following reason. Since the Mystery of Golgotha took place it has been possible for men on the Earth to have this realisation: Through the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ, the sublime Being of the Sun, has come down to the Earth. He has descended from the Sun to the Earth, entering into the body of Jesus and uniting Himself with Earth's destiny. But although the Christ Being has remained united with the Earth, it has not been possible through the succeeding rulerships of Archangeloi from the time of the Mystery of Golgotha until that of the dominion of Gabriel, for the Christ Impulse itself actually to lay hold of the inner physical and etheric forces of mankind. This became possible for the first time under the Gabriel impulse which began to work about three hundred years before the last third of the nineteenth century. Thus, in reality, it is only since that time that by way of the forces of heredity themselves the Christ Impulse has been able to penetrate humanity inwardly. As yet this has not been achieved.
Gabriel rules over the whole realm of the physical forces of heredity within humanity. He is the super-sensible Spirit who is connected essentially with the sequence of the generations, who is — if I may put it so — the great Guardian Spirit of the mothers who bring children into the world. Gabriel has to do with births, with the embryonic development of the human being. The forces of Gabriel work in the spiritual processes underlying the physical process of propagation. And so it is only since this recent Gabriel rulership that the physical propagation of mankind on Earth has come into connection in the real sense with the Christ Impulse.
From the end of the eighteen-seventies, the rulership of Michael begins. It is a rulership altogether different in character from that of Gabriel. Whereas the rulership of the Archangel in the three preceding centuries comes to expression in spiritual impulses working in the physical, Michael is the Archangel who in his rulership has paramountly to do with the powers of the intelligence in mankind, with everything, therefore, that concerns the intellectual, the spiritual evolution and culture of mankind. In any study of the earthly circumstances of humanity it is extremely important to realise that the Gabriel rulership which in the spiritual sphere has an effect upon what is most deeply physical, is always followed by the regency of Michael, who has to do with the spiritual element in culture. The Archangel Gabriel, therefore, is the Divine Guardian of the process of physical propagation. The Spirit who has to do with the development of the sciences, of the arts, of the cultural element of the epoch, is the Archangel known in Christianity as Michael. Over those civilisations which are predominant in every epoch, seven successive Archangel-rulerships take place. Six other such rulerships have therefore preceded the present rulership of Michael. And if, beginning with Gabriel, we go backwards through these rulerships, we come to an epoch when Michael again held sway. Every such rulership, therefore, is always the repetition of earlier, identical rulerships, and the evolution of the Archangels themselves takes place through this cyclic progress. After a period of about two thousand years, the same Archangel always assumes the rulership again within the predominating civilisation.
But these periods of rulership, each of which lasts for a little over three hundred years, are essentially different from one another. The difference is not always as great as it is between the Michael rulership and the Gabriel rulership, but the rulerships are, nevertheless, essentially different. And here we can say: Each reign of Gabriel is preparatory to an age when the peoples become more widely separated from one another and more differentiated. In the age following his dominion the nationalistic tendency also becomes accentuated. So, if you ask yourself why it is that such strong nationalistic feeling is asserting itself to-day under the rulership of Michael, which has now begun, the answer is that preparation took place spiritually a long time ago; the influence worked on and then began to decline, but the after-effects — often worse than the event itself — continue. It is only by degrees that the impulse of Michael can make its way into what is, to a great extent, a legacy from the past reign of Gabriel. But always when an age of Michael dawns, a longing begins to arise in mankind to overcome racial distinctions and to spread through all the peoples living on the Earth the highest and most spiritual form of culture produced by that particular age. Michael's rulership is always characterised by the growth of cosmopolitanism, by the spread of a spiritual impulse among peoples who are ready to receive it, no matter what language they speak. Of the seven Archangels who send their impulses into the evolution of humanity, Michael is always the one who gives the cosmopolitan impulse — and at the same time the impulse for the spreading of whatever is of most intrinsic value in a particular epoch.
If we turn now to past times in the evolution of humanity, asking ourselves in what period the previous Michael Age occurred, we come to the epoch which culminated in those cosmopolitan deeds springing from the impulse of the lofty spiritual culture of Greece, whose fruits were carried over to Asia through the campaigns of Alexander. There, developing from the foundations of the ancient culture, we see the urge to take the spiritual culture of Greece — the little land of Greece — over to the Oriental peoples, to Egypt; there is an urge to spread a cosmopolitan impulse in this way among all the peoples able to receive it. This cosmopolitan impulse, this urge of the earlier Age of Michael, to spread over the world all that the Greek culture had achieved for humanity, was of the very greatest possible significance. The crowning triumph of that Age was represented, in a certain sense, by the city of Alexandria in its prime, standing yonder in North Africa.
These things came to pass in the preceding Age of Michael. Thereafter the other six Archangels assume in time their dominions. And in the last third of the nineteenth century, at the end of the seventies, a new Michael Age begins. But never yet in the whole of earthly evolution has the difference between two Ages of Michael been as great as that between the Michael Age at the time of Alexander and the one in which we have been living since the end of the seventies of the last century. For between these two reigns of Michael falls the Event which gives Earth-evolution its true meaning: the Mystery of Golgotha.
Let us now consider what it is that Michael has to administer in the spiritual Cosmos. It is Michael's task to administer a power that is essentially spiritual, reaching its zenith in man's faculty of intellectual understanding. Michael is not the Spirit who, if I may put it so, cultivates intellectuality per se; the spirituality he bestows strives to bring enlightenment to mankind in the form of ideas, of thoughts — but ideas and thoughts that grasp the spiritual. His wish is that man shall be a free being, but one who discerns in his concepts, in his thoughts, what comes to him as revelation from the spiritual worlds.
And now think of the Michael Age at the time of Alexander. As I have so often said, human beings in our day are extremely clever — that is to say, they form concepts, they have ideas; they are intellectual, possessing as it were a self-made intellectuality. People were clever, too, in the days of Alexander. Only if in those times they had been asked: Whence do you derive your concepts, your ideas? — they would not have said: We have produced them out of ourselves. ... No, they received into themselves the spiritual revelations, and together with these revelations, the ideas. They did not regard the ideas as something which man evolves out of himself, but as something revealed to him in his spiritual nature. The task of Michael at that time was to administer this heavenly Intellectuality — in contrast to earthly Intellectuality. Michael was the greatest of the Archangels who have their abode on the Sun. He was the Spirit who sent down from thence to the Earth not only the Sun's physical-etheric rays but, within them, the inspired Intellectuality. And in those past days men knew: the power of Intelligence on Earth is a gift of the Heavens, of the Sun; it is sent down from the Sun. And the one who actually sends the spiritual Intellectuality down to the Earth, is Michael. In the ancient Sun Mysteries this wonderful Initiation-teaching was given: Michael dwells on the Sun; there he administers the Cosmic Intelligence. This Cosmic Intelligence, inspired into human beings, is a gift of Michael.
Then came the epoch when man was to be made ready to unfold intellect out of his own, individual force of soul; he was not merely to receive the Cosmic Intelligence through revelation but to evolve Intelligence out of his inner forces. Preparation for this was made by Aristotelianism — that remarkable philosophy which arose in the twilight period of Greek culture and was the impulse underlying the campaigns of Alexander the Great in Africa and Asia.
By means of Aristotelianism, earthly Intelligence emerged as though from the shell of the Cosmic Intelligence. And from what came to be known as Aristotelian Logic there arose that intellectual framework on which the thinking of all subsequent centuries was based; it conditioned human intelligence.
And now you must conceive that through this single deed the Michael Impulses culminated: the earthly-human Intelligence was established, while, as a result of the campaigns of Alexander, the culture of Greece was imprinted upon those peoples who at that time were ready to receive the cosmopolitan impulse.
The epoch of Michael was followed by that of Oriphiel. The Archangel Oriphiel assumed dominion. The Mystery of Golgotha took place. At the beginning of the Christian era, those human souls who had been conscious of the leadership of the Archangel Michael in Alexander's time and had participated in the deeds of which I have just spoken, were gathered around Michael in the realm of the Sun. Michael had relinquished his dominion for the time being to Oriphiel, and in the realm of the Sun, together with those human souls who were to be his servants, Michael witnessed the departure of Christ from the Sun.
This, too, is something of which we must be mindful. — Those human souls who are connected with the Anthroposophical Movement may say to themselves: We were united with Michael in the realm of the Sun. Christ, who hitherto had sent His Impulses towards the Earth from the Sun, departed from the Sun in order to unite Himself with earthly evolution! — Try to picture to yourselves this stupendous cosmic event that took place in realms beyond the Earth: it lies within the mighty vista open to those human souls who at that time were gathered around Michael as servants of the Angeloi, after his rulership on Earth had ended. In the realm of the Sun they witnessed the departure of the Christ from the Sun. “He is departing!” ... such was their great and overwhelming experience when He left in order to unite His destiny with the destiny of earthly humanity.
Truly it is not only on the Earth but in the life between death and rebirth that the souls of human beings receive the impulse for the paths they take. Above all was it so in the case of those who had lived through the time of Alexander. A great and mighty impulse went forth from that moment in cosmic history when these souls witnessed the departure of Christ from the Sun. They saw clearly: the Cosmic Intelligence is passing over gradually from the Cosmos to the Earth! And Michael, together with those around him saw that all the Intelligence once streaming through the Cosmos was now sinking down, stage by stage, upon the Earth.
Michael and those who belonged to him — no matter whether they were in the spiritual world or incarnate for a brief earthly life — were able to visualise the rays of the Intelligence arriving, in the eighth century of the Christian era, in the earthly realm itself. And they knew that down upon the Earth the Intelligence would unfold and develop further. Now, on the Earth, the appearance of the first ‘self-made’ thinkers could be observed. Hitherto, great human beings who were ‘thinkers’ had received their thoughts by way of Inspiration; the thoughts had been inspired into them. Only now, from the eighth century A.D. were there those who could be called ‘self-made’ thinkers — those who produced their own thoughts out of themselves. And within the Archangelic host in the realm of the Sun, the mighty proclamation rang forth from Michael: The power belonging to my kingdom and under my administration in this realm is here no longer; it streams downwards to the Earth and must there surge onwards!
From the eighth century onwards this was the spectacle of the Earth as witnessed from the Sun. And within it was the great mystery: The forces which are pre-eminently the forces of Michael have descended from the Heavens and are now upon the Earth. This was the profound secret which was known to Initiates in Schools such as those I spoke of yesterday, for example, the renowned School of Chartres. In earlier times, when men wished to discover the true nature of Intelligence they had been obliged, in the Mystery Centres, to look upwards to the Sun. Now the Intelligence was upon the Earth, though not as yet very clearly perceptible. But gradually there was recognition that human beings were now evolving who possessed an individual intelligence of their own. One of those in European civilisation in whom the first sparks of personal thinking were alight was Johannes Scotus Erigena. I have often spoken of him. But there had been a few others, even before him, whose thoughts were not merely inspired, who no longer received revelations, but who could be called self-made thinkers. And now this individual thinking became more and more widespread.
There was a possibility in Earth-evolution of making this self-produced thinking serve a particular end. Consider what it represented: it was in actuality the sum-total of those impulses from Michael's realm in the Heavens which had found their way to the Earth. And for the time being Michael was called upon to allow the Intelligence to unfold without his participation. Not until the year 1879 was he to re-assume his rulership. In the meantime, the Intelligence developed in such a way that at the first stages he could not have exercised his dominion. His influences could not be exerted over men who were unfolding their own, individual thoughts. His time had not yet come.
This profound secret of the descent of the pan-Intelligence in the evolution of humanity was known in a few Mystery Centres over in the East. And so, within these particular Oriental Mysteries, a few chosen pupils could be initiated into this secret by certain deeply spiritual, highly developed men. Through dispensations of a nature which it is difficult for the earthly intellect to comprehend, the illustrious Court of which I have spoken at the Goetheanum and in other places, came into touch with this secret of which certain Oriental Mysteries were fully cognisant. In the eighth and at the beginning of the ninth century, under the leadership of Haroun al Raschid, this Court wielded great power over in Asia. Haroun al Raschid was a product of Arabian culture, a culture tinged with Mohammedanism. The secret of which I have spoken found its way to some of Haroun al Raschid's initiated Counsellors — or to those who possessed at least a certain degree of knowledge — and the brilliance of his Court was due to the fact that it had come in touch with this secret. At this Court were concentrated all the treasures of wisdom, of art, of the truths of religious life to be found in the East — coloured, of course, by Mohammedanism. In the days when, in Europe, at the Court of Charlemagne who was a contemporary of Haroun al Raschid, men were occupied in collating the first rudiments of grammar and everything was still in a state of semi-barbarism, there flourished in Baghdad that brilliant centre of Oriental, Western Asiatic spiritual life. Haroun al Raschid gathered around him men who were conversant with the great traditions of the Oriental Mysteries. And he had by his side one particular Counsellor who had been an Initiate in earlier times and whose spiritual driving forces were still influenced by the previous incarnations. He was the organiser of all that was cultivated at the Court of Haroun al Raschid in the domains of geometry, chemistry, physics, music, architecture, and the other arts — above all, a distinguished art of poetry. In this renowned and scintillating assembly of sages, it was felt, more or less consciously: the earthly Intelligence that has come down from the Heavens upon the Earth must be placed in the service of Mohammedan spiritual life!
And now consider this: from the time of Mohammed, from the time of the early Caliphs onwards, Arabian culture was carried from Asia across North Africa into Europe, where it spread as the result of warlike campaigns. But in the wake of those who by means of these campaigns spread Arabism as far even as Spain — France was affected by it and, spiritually, the whole of Western Europe — there also came outstanding personalities. The wars waged by the Frankish kings against the Moors, against Arabism, are known to all of you ... but that is the external aspect, that is what happens in external history ... much more important is it to know how the spiritual streams flow on perpetually within the evolution of mankind.
Haroun al Raschid and his wise Counsellor passed through the gate of death. But after their life between death and rebirth they continued to pursue their earthly aims in remarkable ways. It was their aim to introduce Arabian modes of thinking into the European world with the help of the rudiments of the Intelligence now spreading in Europe. And so after Haroun al Raschid had passed through the gate of death, while his soul was traversing spiritual, starry worlds, we see his gaze directed unswervingly from Baghdad across Asia Minor, to Greece, Rome, Spain, France and then northwards to England. Throughout this life between death and rebirth his attention was directed to the South and West of Europe. And then Haroun al Raschid appeared again in a new incarnation — becoming Lord Bacon of Verulam. Bacon himself is the reincarnated Haroun al Raschid who in the intervening time between death and rebirth had worked as I have just described.
But the other, the one who had been his wise Counsellor, chose a different direction — from Baghdad across the Black Sea, through Russia and then into Middle Europe. The two individualities took different paths and directions. Haroun al Raschid passed to his next earthly goal as Lord Bacon of Verulam; the wise Counsellor during his life between death and a new birth did not divert his gaze from the sphere where influences from the East can be increasingly potent, and he appeared again as Amos Comenius (Komenski), the great educational reformer and author of “Pan-Sophia.” And from the interworking of these two individualities who had once been together at the Court in Baghdad there subsequently arose in Europe something which unfolded — more or less at a distance from Christianity — in the form of Arabism derived from influences of that past time when the Intelligence had first fallen away from Michael on the Sun.
What came outwardly and physically to expression in wars was, as we know, repelled by the Frankish kings and the other European peoples. We see how the Arabian campaigns which with such a powerful initial impetus were responsible for the spread of Mohammedan culture, were broken and brought to a halt in the West; we see Mohammedanism disappearing from the West of Europe. Nevertheless, divested of the outer forms it had assumed and the external culture it had founded, this later Arabism became modern natural science, and also became the basis of what Amos Comenius achieved for the world in the domain of pedagogy. And in this way the earthly Intelligence, ‘garrisoned’ as it were by Arabism, continued to spread right on into the seventeenth century.
Here we have indicated something that lies as sub-strata of the soil into which we to-day have to sow the seeds of Anthroposophy. We must ponder deeply over the inner and spiritual reality behind these things.
In Europe, while this stream was flowing over from Asia as the spiritual continuation of that Illustrious Court of Baghdad, Christianity was also developing and spreading. But the spread of Aristotelianism in Europe was fraught with great difficulties. The natural science of Aristotle had been carried to Asia by the mighty deeds of Alexander and the impulses flowing from Hellenistic spiritual life, but here it had been seized upon by Arabism. In Europe, within the expanding Christian culture, Aristotelianism was at first known in a diluted form only. Then, in the manner which I have already indicated, Aristotelianism joined hands with Platonism — Platonism, which was based directly upon the ancient teachings of the Greek Mysteries.
But at the very outset, Aristotelianism spread in Europe by slow degrees while Platonism took the lead and prompted the establishment of schools, one of the most important being the School of Chartres. At Chartres, the scholars of whom I spoke yesterday — Bernard Sylvestris, Bernard of Chartres, John of Salisbury and, foremost among them all, Alanus ab Insulis — were all working in the twelfth century. In this School men spoke very differently from those whose teachings were merely an echo of Arabism. The teachings given in the School of Chartres were pure and genuine Christianity, illumined by the ancient Mystery-wisdom still remaining within reach of men. And then something of immense significance took place. The leading teachers of Chartres, who with their Platonism had penetrated deeply into the secrets of Christianity and who had no part in Arabism, went through the gate of death. Then there took place, for a brief period at the beginning of the thirteenth century, a great ‘heavenly conference.’ And when the most outstanding of the teachers — foremost among them Alanus ab Insulis — had passed through death and were in the spiritual world, they united in a momentous cosmic deed with those who at that time were with them but who were destined in the very near future to come into earthly existence for the purpose of cultivating Aristotelianism in a new way. Among those preparing to descend were individualities who had participated with deep intensity of soul in the working of the Michael Impulse during the time of Alexander. And at the turn of the twelfth century we may picture, for it is in keeping with the truth, a gathering-together of souls who had just arrived in the spiritual world from places of Christian Initiation — of which the School of Chartres was one — and souls who were on the point of descending to the Earth. In the spiritual realms, these latter souls had preserved, not Platonism, but Aristotelianism, the inner impulse of the Intelligence deriving from the Michael Age in ancient times. Now, in the spiritual world, the souls gathered together ... among them, too, were souls who could say: We were with Michael and together with him we witnessed the Intelligence streaming down from the Heavens upon the Earth; we were united with him too in the mighty cosmopolitan Deed enacted in earlier times when the Intelligence was still administered from the Cosmos, when he was still the ruler and administrator of the Intelligence.
And now, for the time being, the teachers of Chartres handed over to the Aristotelians the administration and ordering of the affairs of the spiritual life on Earth. Those who were now to descend and were by nature fitted to direct the earthly, personal Intelligence, took over the guidance of spiritual life on Earth from the Platonists, who could work truly only when the Intelligence was being administered “from the Heavens.”
It was into the Dominican Order above all that those individualities in whose souls the Michael Impulse was still echoing on from the previous Age of Michael, found their way. And from the Dominican Order issued that Scholasticism which wrestled through many a bitter but glorious battle to master the true nature and operation of the Intelligence within the human mind. Deeply rooted in the souls of those founders of Dominican Scholasticism in the thirteenth century was this great question: What is taking place in the domain of Michael?
There were men, later on known as Nominalists, who said: Concepts and ideas are merely names, they have no reality. The Nominalists were under an Ahrimanic influence, for their real aim was to banish Michael's dominion from the Earth. In asserting that ideas are only names and have no reality, their actual aim was to prevent Michael's dominion from prevailing on Earth. And at that time the Ahrimanic spirits whispered to those who would lend their ear: The Cosmic Intelligence has fallen away from Michael and is here, on the Earth: we will not allow Michael to resume his rulership over the Intelligence! ... But in that heavenly conference — and precisely here lies its significance — Platonists and Aristotelians together formed a plan for the furtherance of the Michael Impulses. — In opposition to the Nominalists were the Realists of the Dominican Order who maintained: Ideas and thoughts are spiritual realities contained within the phenomena of the world, they are not merely nominal.
If one understands these things, one is often reminded of them in a really remarkable way. During my last years in Vienna, one of my acquaintances among other ordained priests was Vincenz Knauer, the author of the work, Hauptprobleme der Philosophie, which I have often recommended to Anthroposophists. In the nineteenth century he was still involved in this conflict between Nominalism and Realism. He was trying to make it clear that Nominalism is fallacious and he had chosen a very apt example to illustrate his arguments. It is also given in his books. But I remember with deep satisfaction a certain occasion when I was walking with him along the Wahringstrasse in Vienna. We were speaking about Nominalism and Realism. With all his self-controlled enthusiasm which had something remarkable about it, something of the quality of genuine philosophy in contrast to the philosophy of others who had more or less lost this quality — Knauer said on that occasion: I always make it clear to my students that the Ideas made manifest in the things of the world have reality — and I tell them to think of a lamb and a wolf. The Nominalists would say: A lamb is muscle, bone, matter; a wolf is muscle, bone, matter. What receives objective existence in lamb-flesh as the form, the idea of the lamb — that is only a name. “Lamb” is a name there and not, as idea, a reality. Similarly, as idea, “wolf” is not anything real but only a name. But — Knauer went on — it is easy to refute the Nominalists for one need only say to them: Give a wolf nothing but lamb's flesh to eat for a time and no other food whatever. If the idea “lamb” contains no reality, is only a name, and if the lamb is nothing but matter, the wolf would gradually become a lamb. But it does not do so! On the contrary, it goes on being the reality “wolf.” In what stands there before us as the lamb, the idea “lamb” has, as it were, gathered the matter and brought it into the form. Similarly with the wolf: the idea “wolf” has gathered the matter and cast it into the form.
This was the fundamental issue in the conflict between the Nominalists and the Realists: the reality of what is apprehensible only by the intellect.
Thus we see that it was the task of the Dominicans to work in advance, at the right time, for the next Michael rulership. And whereas in accordance with the decisions of that heavenly conference at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Platonists — the teachers of Chartres, for example — remained in the spiritual world and had no incarnations of significance, the Aristotelians were to work at that time for the cultivation of the Intelligence, on Earth. And from Scholasticism — which only much later, in the modern age, was distorted, caricatured and made Ahrimanic by Rome — from Scholasticism there has proceeded all intellectual striving in so far as it has kept free from the influence of Arabism.
So at that time when these two streams of spiritual life are to be perceived in Middle and Western Europe: on the one side, the stream with which Bacon and Amos Comenius were connected; on the other side, the stream of Scholasticism that was and is Christian Aristotelianism takes its place in the evolution of civilisation in order to prepare, as was its task, for the new Age of Michael. When, during the rulership of the preceding Archangels, the Schoolmen looked up into the spiritual realms they said to themselves: Michael is yonder in the heights; his rulership must be awaited. But some preparation must be made for the time when he once again becomes the Regent of all that which, through the dispensation of cosmic evolution, fell away from him in the Cosmos. This time must be prepared for! ... And so a stream began to flow which, though diverted into a false channel through Ultramontanism, continued and carried with it the impulse of preparation proceeding from the thirteenth century.
It was a stream, therefore, whose source is Aristotelian and whose influence worked directly on the ordering of the Intelligence that was now in the earthly realm. With this stream is connected that of which I spoke yesterday, saying that one who had remained a little longer with Alanus ab Insulis in the spiritual world, came down as a Dominican and brought a message from Alanus ab Insulis to an older Dominican who had descended to the Earth before him.
An intense will was present in the spiritual life of Europe to take strong hold of the thoughts. And in realms above the Earth these happenings led, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to a great, far-reaching Act in the spiritual world where that which later on was to become Anthroposophy on the Earth was cast into mighty Imaginations. In the first half of the nineteenth century, and even for a short period at the end of the eighteenth, those who had been Platonists under the teachers of Chartres, who were now living between death and rebirth, and those who had established Aristotelianism on Earth and who had long ago passed through the gate of death — all of them were united in the heavenly realms in a great super-earthly Cult or Ritual. Through this Act all that in the twentieth century was to be spiritually established as the new Christianity after the beginning of the new Michael Age in the last third of the nineteenth century — all this was cast into mighty Imaginations.
Many drops trickled through to the Earth. Up above, in the spiritual world, in mighty, cosmic Imaginations, preparation was made for that creation of the Intelligence — an entirely spiritual creation — which was then to come forth as Anthroposophy. What trickled through made a very definite impression upon Goethe, coming to him in the form, as it were, of little reflected miniatures. The mighty pictures up above were not within Goethe's ken; he elaborated these little miniature pictures in his Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Truly, it opens up a wonderful vista! The streams I have described flow on in such a way that they lead to those mighty Imaginations which take shape in the spiritual world under the guidance of Alanus ab Insulis and the others. Drops trickle through, and at the turn of the eighteenth century Goethe is inspired to write his Fairy Tale. It was, we might say, a first presentation of what had been cast in mighty Imaginations in the spiritual world at the beginning of the nineteenth, indeed by the end of the eighteenth century. In view of this great super-sensible Cult during the first half of the nineteenth century, it will not surprise you that my first Mystery Play, The Portal of Initiation — which in a certain respect aimed at giving dramatic form to what had thus been enacted at the beginning of the nineteenth century — became alike in outer structure to what Goethe portrayed in his Fairy Tale. For having lived in the super-earthly realms in Imaginative form, Anthroposophy was to come down to the Earth. Something came to pass in the super-earthly realms at that time. Numbers of souls who in many different epochs had been connected with Christianity came together with souls who had received its influences less directly. There were those who had lived on Earth in the Age when the Mystery of Golgotha took place and also those who had lived on Earth before it. The two groups of souls united in order that in regions beyond the Earth, Anthroposophy might be prepared. The individualities who, as I said, were around Alanus ab Insulis, and those who within the Dominican stream had established Aristotelianism in Europe, were united, too, with Brunetto Latini, the great teacher of Dante. And in this host of souls there were very many of those who, having again descended to the Earth, are now coming together in the Anthroposophical Society. Those who feel the urge to-day to unite with one another in the Anthroposophical Society were together in super-sensible regions at the beginning of the nineteenth century in order to participate in that mighty Imaginative Cult of which I have spoken.
This too is connected with the karma of the Anthroposophical Movement. It is something that one discovers, not from any rationalistic observation of this Anthroposophical Movement in its external, earthly form only, but from observation of the threads that lead upwards into the spiritual realms. Then one perceives how this Anthroposophical Movement descends. At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries it is, in very truth, the “heavenly” Anthroposophical Movement. What Goethe transformed into little miniature images in the Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily were drops that had trickled through. But it was to come down in the real sense in the last third of the nineteenth century, since when Michael has been striving — but now moving downwards from the Sun to the Earth — to take hold of the earthly Intelligence of men.
We know that since the Mystery of Golgotha Christ has been united with the Earth — with humanity on Earth. But, to begin with, He was not outwardly comprehended by human beings. We have seen also that in the age of Alexander the last phase of the rulership of Michael over the Cosmic Intelligence was taking place. By the eighth century A.D., the Cosmic Intelligence had descended to the Earth. In accordance with the agreements reached with the Platonists, those who were connected with Michael undertook to prepare this earthly Intelligence in Scholastic Realism in such a way that Michael would again be able to unite with it when, in the onward flow of civilisation, he would assume his rulership at the end of the seventies of the nineteenth century.
What matters now is that the Anthroposophical Society shall take up this, its inner task — this task which is: not to contest Michael's rulership of human thinking! Here there can be no question of fatalism. Here it can only be said that men must work together with the Gods. Michael inspires men with his own being in order that there may appear on the Earth a spirituality consonant with the personal Intelligence of men, in order that men can be thinkers — and at the same time truly spiritual. For this and this alone is what Michael's dominion means. This is what must be wrestled for in the Anthroposophical Movement. And then those who are working to-day for the Anthroposophical Movement will appear again on Earth at the end of the twentieth century and will be united with the great teachers of Chartres. For according to the agreement reached in that heavenly conference at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Aristotelians and the Platonists were to appear together, working for the ever-growing prosperity of the Anthroposophical Movement in the twentieth century, in order that at the end of this century, with Platonists and Aristotelians in unison, Anthroposophy may reach a certain culmination in earthly civilisation. If it is possible to work in this way, in the way predestined by Michael, then Europe and modern civilisation will emerge from decline. But verily in no other way than this! The leading of civilisation out of decline is bound up with an understanding of Michael.
I have now led you towards an understanding of the Michael Mystery reigning over the thinking and the spiritual strivings of mankind. This means — as you can realise — that through Anthroposophy something must be introduced into the spiritual evolution of the Earth, for all kinds of demonic, Ahrimanic powers are taking possession of men. The Ahrimanic powers in many a human body were exultant in their confidence that it would no longer be possible for Michael to take over his rulership of the Cosmic Intelligence which had fallen down to the Earth. And this exultation was particularly strong in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Ahriman already believed: Michael will not again recover his Cosmic Intelligence which made its way from the heavens to the Earth. And this exultation was particularly strong in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Ahriman already believed that Michael would not again recover his Cosmic Intelligence which made its way from the Heavens to the Earth. Verily, great and mighty issues are at stake! For this reason it is not to be wondered at that those who stand in the midst of this battle have to go through many extraordinary experiences.
Stranger things have been said about the Anthroposophical Movement than about any other spiritual Movement. The curious statements made indicate in themselves that with its spirituality and its connection with the Mystery of Golgotha, it is beyond the comprehension even of some of the most enlightened minds of the present day. — Does anyone ever tell you that he has seen a man who is black and white at the same time? I hardly think you would regard him as sane if he said such a thing to you. But to-day people are quite capable of writing in a similar strain about the Anthroposophical Movement. In his book, The Great Secret [Le Grand Secret. Bibliothèque Charpentier, 1921. The passages concerned have been translated from the German version of Maeterlinck's book from which Dr. Steiner was quoting. The original French of these passages will be found on page 182 of the present volume.], Maurice Maeterlinck, for example, taking me to be the pillar of the Anthroposophical Movement, applies in regard to myself a kind of logic entirely similar to that used by someone who claims to have seen a man who is black and white, a European and a Moor at the same time. Now a man can be one of the two, but certainly not both simultaneously! Yet Maeterlinck says: “What we read in the Vedas, says Rudolf Steiner, one of the most erudite and also one of the most confusing among contemporary occultists ...” If somebody were to say he had seen a man who was a European and a Moor at the same time, he would be considered crazy; but Maeterlinck uses the words “erudite” and “confusing” in juxtaposition. He also says: “Rudolf Steiner who, when he does not lose himself in visions — plausible, perhaps, but incapable of verification — of the prehistoric ages, and in astral jargon concerning life on other planets, is a clear and shrewd thinker who has thrown remarkable light on the meaning of this judgement” (he is referring to Osirification) “and of the identification of the soul with God.” In other words, therefore: when Rudolf Steiner is not talking about Anthroposophy, he is a clear and shrewd thinker. Maeterlinck allows himself to say this — and other remarkable things too, for example the following: “Steiner has applied his intuitive methods, which amount to a kind of transcendental psychometry, in order to reconstruct the history of the Atlanteans and to reveal to us what takes place on the sun, the moon and in other worlds. He describes the successive transformations of the entities which become men, and he does so with such assurance that we ask ourselves, having followed him with interest through the introductions which denote an extremely well-balanced, logical and comprehensive mind, if he has suddenly gone mad or if we are dealing with a hoaxer or with a genuine seer.” ... Now just think what this means. — Maeterlinck states that when I write books, the introductions are admittedly the product of an “extremely well-balanced, logical and comprehensive mind.” But when he reads on he does not know whether I have suddenly gone mad or whether I am a hoaxer or a genuine seer. Well, after all I have not written only books! It is always my custom to write an introduction to each book first. Very well, then ... I write a book. Maeterlinck reads the introduction and I seem to him to have an “extremely well-balanced, logical and comprehensive mind.” Then he reads on, and I turn into someone who makes him say: I don't know whether Rudolf Steiner has suddenly gone mad or whether he is a hoaxer or a seer. Then it happens again ... I write a second book: when he reads the introduction Maeterlinck again accepts me as having an “extremely well-balanced, logical and comprehensive mind.” Then he reads the further contents and again does not know whether I am a lunatic or a hoaxer or a seer. And so it goes on ... But suppose everybody were to say: when I read your books you seem, at the beginning, to be very clever, balanced and logical, but then you suddenly go mad! People who are logical when they begin to write and then as they write on suddenly become crazy, must indeed be extraordinary creatures! In the next book they switch round, are logical at the beginning and later on again lunatics! There seems to be a rhythmical sequence ... well, after all there are rhythms in the world!
Such examples indicate how the most enlightened minds of the present age receive what must be established as the Michael Epoch in the world and what has to be done in order that the Cosmic Intelligence which in accordance with the World-Order fell away from Michael in the eighth century A.D., may again be found within earthly humanity. The whole Michael tradition must be renewed. Michael with his feet upon the Dragon — it is right to contemplate this picture which portrays Michael the Warrior, defending the Cosmic Spirit against the Ahrimanic Powers under his feet.
This battle, more than any other, is laid in the human heart. There, within the hearts of men, it is and has been waged since the last third of the nineteenth century. Decisive indeed will be what human hearts do with this Michael Impulse in the world in the course of the twentieth century. And in the course of the twentieth century, when the first century after the end of Kaliyuga has elapsed, humanity will either stand at the grave of all civilisation — or at the beginning of that Age when in the souls of men who in their hearts ally Intelligence with Spirituality, Michael's battle will be fought out to victory.