The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation
GA 243

5. The Inner Vitalization of the Soul through the Qualities of the Metallic Nature

Torquay, 15 August, 1924

I have attempted to show how man can develop states of consciousness other than those of his everyday life and how the history of evolution provides abundant evidence that in the fields of human knowledge and action, man did not possess the consciousness we have today. Then I tried to call attention to the relationship between the consciousness of the scholars who lived in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries and the manner in which knowledge was fostered in those days, in the School of Chartres, for example. And in this connection I pointed out how there arose forms of perception totally unrelated to our present level of consciousness. Brunetto Latini, Dante's teacher, is a case in point.

Yesterday I tried to recall man's relationship to the universe at an even earlier epoch, in the Mysteries of Ephesus, for example. We learned how entirely different conditions of consciousness prevailed at that time, though related to some extent to the normal scientific consciousness of today.

After this brief digression into history I should now like to continue our investigations. I have already indicated how the metallity, the basic substantiality of the mineral element, is related to man and his conditions of consciousness. Having shown man's relationship to the metal copper, I described the state of consciousness that enables him to participate in the experiences of the so-called dead after death.

We must realize that it was a form of perception such as this which Brunetto Latini experienced in that semi-pathological condition following upon his heat-stroke.

Indeed all that he describes, all that came to him through the inspiration of the Goddess Natura can be attained in that condition of consciousness — so closely related to our everyday consciousness — which is able to share the experiences of the dead immediately after their death. I said that it was a condition of greater reality. We inhabit a world of more powerful impressions, more luminous, a world that brings everything to fuller consummation than the phenomenal world.

We owe it to these factors alone that we can participate in the experiences of the soul which has recently passed through the gates of death.

At the same time, this world reveals a peculiar characteristic. When we inhabit this world in the state of consciousness I have described, we are no longer able to observe the normal experiences of our daily life; we see only that part of our life immediately preceding incarnation — our experiences when still in the spiritual world before birth. We must therefore realize that in this condition of consciousness we are detached from the world which man normally inhabits.

Let me illustrate my point. A man is born at a certain point in time. If, at the age of forty, he develops the copper condition of consciousness — I have already explained this in my lecture of the day before yesterday — his perception is no longer related to the immediate present, nor to his perception at the age of thirty or thirty-five; he can only look back to his experiences immediately before birth. He can do this for himself and others, but he cannot apprehend the world of everyday existence. This is only feasible for human beings.

In relation to animals, we do not see them in their familiar physical form; we look into the world immediately above and perceive what I have called the group-soul. We see, as it were, the aura of the animal species. And when we look out into the world, we find it transformed and discover something which is of supreme importance for mankind, but which is totally ignored in our present materialistic age.

And if, endowed with the highest academic learning in all faculties, we contact that Being who is ever present as the Goddess Natura, that Being so vividly described by the teachers of the School of Chartres, Bernardus Silvestris, Alanus ab Insulis and others, we feel abysmally ignorant despite all our modern knowledge. We feel that our present knowledge is relevant only to the world between birth and death and is no longer valid when we enter into the spiritual world with a consciousness that can follow the dead beyond the gates of death.

When we study chemistry, the sum-total of our knowledge holds good only for the life between birth and death. Chemistry, as such, is of no importance in the world we share with the dead. All the knowledge we acquire in the phenomenal world is valueless in this intermediate state between death and rebirth, it survives only as a memory. We have an immediate awareness of this intermediate sphere we now inhabit and we feel that the everyday world in which we learned so much has faded from our consciousness. This other world now lies open before us.

Let us imagine that a mountain looms up before us in our immediate environment. It gives an impression of solidity. When seen from a distance it reflects the light of the Sun and we note its contours and rock formations. Then we gradually draw nearer. When we set foot on it, we feel that it offers resistance, that we are standing on solid ground; there is no doubt of its reality.

Now in the intermediate world everything that I have described as solid and luminous ceases to have any significance; something seems to be issuing from the mountain, growing ever larger, and gives an impression of another kind of reality.

Under the conditions of normal life we see the mountain capped by a cloud. We are in no doubt that it is caused by condensation of water vapour. This phenomenon also loses all reality. Something different emerges from the cloud. What we see emerging merges with the cloud and mountain which are gradually lost to view. Out of this union is born a new reality that is not merely nebulous, but is at the same time endowed with form. And this applies to everything in this intermediate world.

Suppose we are standing in front of a large audience. The moment we enter the spiritual world all sharply defined contours are effaced. We perceive instead the soul and spirit of the audience projected in the form of clairvoyant images. And the mysterious spiritual aura of the environment gradually encompasses us. A new world arises, the world the dead inhabit after death.

We now become aware of something else. If this intermediate world which we have now entered did not exist, if it were not omnipresent, we should be without eyes and ears, without sense organs. The world described by the chemist and physicist cannot provide us with sense organs; we should be blind and deaf. Our sense organs could not be built up within us.

And this was the surprising discovery of Brunetto Latini when he returned from Spain to the neighbourhood of his native Florence and suffered that slight attack of heat-stroke which opened up to him this intermediate world. He realized that his sense organs were a gift from this other world, that his senses would be wholly undeveloped if this intermediate world did not permeate the world of sense experience. Our human status is determined by the fact that we owe our sense organs to our connection with this second world, this intermediate world.

At all times this second world has been called the world of the Elements. Here the terms oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, etc., are meaningless, they are applicable only to the world between birth and death. In the second world it is only meaningful to speak of the elements earth, water, air, fire and light, and so on. For the specific characteristics of hydrogen, oxygen, etc., are wholly unrelated to the senses. What the chemist discovers about the scent of violets or of asafoetida, namely, that the one is pleasant and the other highly unpleasant, everything named after its chemical composition — none of this is of any significance. In the second world all manifestations of scent or smell are spiritualized. From the standpoint of the second world it would be described as aeriform; but it is a rarefied air, an air wholly permeated by spirit. Our senses therefore are rooted in the world of elements where it is still meaningful to speak of earth, water, fire and air.

We can now correct our previous misapprehensions and develop the right understanding. What is the reaction of the modern philosopher who claims to be both logical and objective and to have abandoned the naive outlook of earlier epochs? He maintains that these earlier conceptions were primitive: in those days men only spoke of the crude elements, earth, water, fire and air, whereas today seventy to eighty elements are known, not a mere four or five.

Now if a Greek with the typical outlook of his time were to be born today and were told of this attitude, his answer would be: Of course, you still speak of the elements such as oxygen and hydrogen, but in your own way. You have forgotten what we understood by the four elements. You are unaware of their composition, you no longer know anything about them. Despite the existence of all your seventy-two or seventy-five elements, the sense organs would never come into being, for they are born out of the four elements. We had a better knowledge of man; we knew how man's external vehicle with its sense organs was built up. —

We can only form a true estimate of the impressions received by men of olden time who had undertaken the first steps in Initiation, such as Brunetto Latini, when we recognize the significance of these impressions for the life of the soul and spirit, when we bear in mind their unexpected and striking effects and how the soul was actively stimulated by them.

If someone who has believed hitherto in the reality of his sense-impressions discovers that this reality could not even have created his sense organs and that behind this reality there must exist all that I have described here, then the effect in the first instance must be shattering.

It is important to realize that we cannot develop such knowledge and understanding if we perpetuate the old sterile conceptions of nature that we normally hold. When we enter into this second world, everything begins to vibrate with life. We say to ourselves: the mountain we knew through sensory experience appeared to be inanimate matter; we were wholly unaware that it was permeated with living forces. Now they are revealed to us. And the cloud that formerly appeared static and inert now manifests that indwelling vital life that we had not perceived before. Everything is quickened and in this weaving, pulsating life there is revealed a fundamental reality.

In this second world the laws of nature are not intellectual constructs; we are in touch with a spiritual Being. The Goddess Natura, who speaks to us, beckons and communicates insights from the world of reality. And in this way we learn about the reality of our environment through beings of a super-sensible world. We are translated from our purely abstract world that is determined by natural law into the real world of being, where we no longer arrive at natural laws by means of experiment and analysis, but feel ourselves in the presence of beings of a different world, beings who mediate knowledge and understanding because they know what we, as human beings, have yet to learn.

We thus enter the spiritual world in the right way. We realize that if we had been endowed only with sense organs, with the eye and its optic nerves, the nose and its olfactory nerves and the ear with its acoustic nerves, and that if all these nerves were connected at their point of origin, we should be unaware of the existence of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and so on, and of all we perceive between birth and death. We would be looking into the world of Elements — everywhere around us we would perceive earth, water, air and fire. We would not have the slightest interest in differentiating further between the solid and the gross material, the fluid and the aqueous element. As beings of physical sensibility we are familiar with the world of Elements. But the moment we become aware of what I have already described, we realize also that in man the sensory nerves which run back to the cranial cavity are more differentiated, more specialized and form in that area the first indications of the brain. In consequence we do not enter more deeply into ourselves; we become more extroverted and add to the nature of the four elements, earth, fire, air and water, our experiences between birth and death.

The cerebrum evolves nom a progressive metamorphosis of the sensory nerve fibres that run back to the cranial cavity. This cerebrum that is rolled back upon itself in man is of importance only for the life between birth and death. For our understanding of the spiritual world the intellect is of minimal importance. If we wish to enter even the first of the spiritual spheres that border on our world the intellect must be silenced. It is an organ that interferes with higher perception. Even when the intellect has been silenced, we cannot escape from sensory experiences; we must now spiritualize the senses and so attain to Imagination. In the normal course of events our senses perceive sense-derived images in the external physical world and the intellect transforms them into dead, abstract thoughts. If we silence the intellect and experience the world again through our senses, we then perceive everything in the form of imaginations. We become aware of this and then we realize that our deeper insights into life are ultimately linked with the development of states of consciousness that are higher and more spiritual than those of ordinary life.

Our peripheral organs, such as the eye and the ear, are continuously in touch with the world of the Elements and still perceive the dead years after their death. The perception of this world is lost, because our intellect intervenes. The peripheral senses of man mediate the spiritual world, the world of the dead. But the perception of this world, the world of the Elements earth, water, fire and air, is obliterated by the intellectual consciousness. Man sees only the physical world with its sharply defined contours, the world we inhabit between birth and death. But there is no doubt that a second world of a very different order does in fact exist. This world, however, is obliterated by the intellect and man looks only upon the familiar world of everyday consciousness.

Therefore modern man must practise the meditation which I mentioned yesterday. In the past it was still the practice after such meditation to administer metallic substances. I spoke of these in my last lecture. The attainment of the next higher level of consciousness depends therefore, in the first instance, upon the obliteration of the intellect and the spiritualization of the perceptions mediated by the sense organs. Since their brain is not developed, the animals also share these perceptions. But they have no ego-consciousness; their perceptions cannot be imbued with spirit, but only with primitive psychic forces. They do not perceive in the world around what man perceives when his senses are illuminated by the spirit. Animal perception is of a similar kind, but inferior and non-individualized.

What I now propose to say about the metallity, the real substantiality of the mineral world, should be accepted with the due reserve to which I drew attention yesterday when I said that the inner vitalization of the soul through the qualities of the metallity — in other words, the development of an inner communion with the metallity in a moral sense — is a necessary part of man's spiritual development today. The administration of metallic potentization to the human organism is the function of the medical practitioner. And so I ask you to accept with due reserve what I shall say about the unknown factors of metals, other than those already discussed. The mystery of mercury in particular has a special significance for those who approach the world from a spiritual angle, that is to say, for those who are able to perceive the spiritual operating in physical substances. The metal mercury is only one part of what spiritual science calls in general terms the mercurial. The mercurial includes everything that has the characteristics of liquid metals; in nature as we know it today, there is only one metal that shares these characteristics and can be regarded as mercurial, namely, quicksilver. But this is only one member of the mercurial species. In spiritual science the mercurial includes everything of a mercurial nature; quicksilver is looked upon simply as a typical example of the mercurial.

This quicksilver or mercury holds a profound secret. Its effect upon man is such that he is isolated from all impressions of the physical world and also from the world of the Elements.

As human beings, we recognize that organs such as the brain have been built up out of the physical world. We have also built up many other organs out of this sense world, in particular, a whole series of glandular organs that are essential to physical life.

Furthermore, many organs — I have already spoken of the sense organs — have been built up out of the world which I described as the world of the second level of consciousness. Copper and iron raise man to this second level of consciousness. Mercury has a different effect. It must of necessity be present in the universe; and, in effect, it exists universally in a subtle state of diffusion. We are surrounded, if I may so express it, by an atmosphere of mercury. The moment man absorbs more than the normal quantity of mercury, his organism endeavours to neutralize all those organs which have been built up from the physical and elemental worlds. The astral body of man is stimulated, as it were, to call upon only those organs that have been built up out of the world of stars.

Therefore, directly the consciousness is concentrated on the metallity of mercury, on its metallic and fluid qualities, on the fundamentally impalpable element that is characteristic of mercury and which, none the less, is related to the human being, man becomes inwardly permeated by a “third man.” I said that through his relationship to copper man is permeated by a second man who creates inner tensions and is able to relinquish the physical body and accompany the dead in the years immediately following their death. Quicksilver attracts to itself everything that can contribute to a far more closely-knit psychic organism. Through the effects of quicksilver man seems to apprehend the entire metabolism of his organs. When he experiences the strong metallic influence of quicksilver, the manner in which the fluids circulate through the various vessels suddenly claims his attention. The effect cannot be described as pleasant, for he feels as if he were bereft of mind and senses, as if everything were active, alive and stirring within him, as if he were in a state of inner ferment, turmoil and flux, pulsating with life and movement. And he feels this inner activity united with an activity without.

This situation, as I have described it, follows upon the conscious training of the inner life. Through the active influence of quicksilver man ceases to feel the presence of his brain; it has become a hollow cavity. That is an advantage for the perception of the spiritual world since the brain is quite useless for this purpose. What he does in fact feel is movement and activity permeating his entire organism. But at first all this ferment is as painful as if one suffered from inner exhaustion.

Everywhere this inner activity is united with an outer activity. We feel we have left the Earth and the world of Elements below us; everything exhales steaming vapour. But spiritual beings dwell in these vaporous, steaming exhalations. The divine Natura whom Brunetto Latini so vividly describes has now “turned about.”

As I said yesterday, she is identical with the Greek Persephone. Formerly she turned her countenance more towards the Earth; she disclosed those things that were still connected with the Earth sphere, such as man's experience of the life immediately after death. Now she “turns about” and man has the Earth and the elemental world beneath him and the world of stars above. Just as on Earth he was surrounded by plants and animals, his environment is now the world of stars. He no longer feels his insignificance in face of the mighty world of stars, but, in his new stature, he feels in relation to the world of stars exactly as he felt in relation to his immediate environment on Earth. With his increase of stature he has grown into the world of stars. But the stars are not as the stars we saw when on Earth; they reveal themselves as colonies of spiritual beings. We are once again in the world I have already described to you, a world that is awakened in man through his relationship with the metallity of tin. There is an inner relationship between mercury and tin as I have already indicated. Mercury lays claim to a certain part of our being, isolates it and bears it into that spiritual world whose external physical manifestation is the world of stars.

But we are now in a different world because the condition of our consciousness has been changed; it is no longer determined by the senses or the brain, but by that which the metallity of mercury has now drawn out of our organism. We find ourselves in a totally different world — the world of stars. I could, however, express this differently. The term “world of stars” has spatial implications; but through the attainment of this new level of consciousness we actually leave behind the world in which we exist spatially between birth and death and now enter the intermediate world, the world we inhabit between death and rebirth.

The hidden secret of mercury lies in this: mercury detaches man from the phenomenal world and opens up the intermediate world because quicksilver or mercury has an inner relationship to that part of man's being which is not derived from this Earth, but has been implanted in him by the beings of the intermediate world. The circulation of the fluids that he now experiences is determined by the world through which he passes between death and a new birth.

We now become a ware of something else, again something that Brunetto Latini perceived under the influence of the Goddess Natura, namely, that we live in the circulation of the fluids which is associated with the circulation of the cosmic fluids. We have relinquished the physical vehicle with its sense-derived consciousness and find ourselves in the realm we inhabit between death and rebirth. We become familiar with the nature of the circulation of fluids and begin to understand how this inner activity, this realm we inhabit between death and rebirth, has determined the nature of our temperament, whether sanguinic, choleric, melancholic or phlegmatic. We have a deeper insight into our make-up than we have when dependent on our senses. If we are born a phlegmatic we now realize that our impassivity, our phlegm, is determined by our experiences between the last death and the present birth. But in relation to this temperament that manifests itself physically in the circulation of the fluids, we must reckon with an additional factor. Consider for a moment what is involved in this circulation of fluids. In the field of anatomy or physiology we are concerned primarily with the physical. The physical is only an expression of the spiritual. But the spiritual element that is related to this circulation of fluids is not of the physical world, it is of the world that penetrates into man between death and rebirth.

When we review the different temperaments — and it was an overwhelming experience for Brunetto Latini when the Goddess Natura opened his eyes to the existence and nature of the temperaments — we conclude that the life between death and rebirth has determined the nature of these various temperaments that we associated with the circulation of the fluids. If we now probe deeper, we find that karma, the arbiter of destiny, plays its part in this.

If we contemplate the physical aspect of this remarkable metallic fluid mercury, we only begin to understand it when we are fully aware of its hidden secret: that a minute drop of liquid mercury reveals to the Initiate a profound relationship. This drop is able to infuse the spiritual into those organs that derive their structure and origin from the world between death and rebirth.

Thus all things in the world are interwoven and interrelated after this fashion. The physical is an illusion. And from the standpoint of the physical, the spiritual too is only an illusion, an abstraction. In actual fact the physical is interwoven with the spiritual and the spiritual with the physical.

If a human organism has been damaged because those organs are involved which are derived, in effect, from the intermediate realm, we must activate those forces which will repair the damage.

Let us assume that a doctor is consulted by a patient with a defective circulatory system that has its origin in the life between death and rebirth. He is confronted with a patient whose circulatory system has severed its link with the spiritual world. That is the case history. A spiritual diagnosis is made. The relation between the spiritual element and the physical diagnosis must be understood in the sense which I suggested yesterday. I repeat this again so that there shall be no misunderstanding. The diagnosis is as follows: the circulatory system of this patient has made a radical break with the spiritual world. What is to be done?

The correct treatment is to introduce the metallity into the body that will restore the connection between the circulatory system and the spiritual world. This is how mercury works upon man. Mercury works upon the human organism in such a way that those organs which can only be built up out of the spiritual world can again be brought into contact with that same world when they have severed their connection with it. Thus we see the somewhat dangerous, yet at the same time necessary relationship that exists between the knowledge of the states of consciousness in man and the knowledge of diseases. The one passes over into the other.

These things played a vital part in the ancient Mysteries and they also shed light upon such matters as I mentioned yesterday. Consider the following: in an age that had lost the old spiritual vision that recognized the Goddess Natura through her teachings about the secrets of nature, Brunetto Latini, the teacher of Dante, returns in a state of agitation from his ambassadorial post in Spain. As he approaches his native city his agitation increases because he hears of the fate of his own party, the Guelph party. He experiences all this in such a state of mind that a slight heat-stroke overcame him. The metallity of mercury has simply worked upon him from the environment.

What do we understand by a slight heat-stroke? It means that we feel the effect of the mercury in our environment, the mercury that is finely distributed throughout the Cosmos. Brunetto Latini experienced this effect and in consequence he was able to approach the spiritual world in an epoch when it was normally impossible for man to share this experience. Thus we see that in man there exists something that is related not only to the findings of natural science, not only to the disclosures of the person who is in contact with the dead in the first years after their death, but that our fundamental being is in touch with something far more sublime, a purely spiritual realm that we live through between death and rebirth. If we follow the ordinary scientific procedure we can understand the form of the liver or the lung, for example. With the aid of the next higher level of knowledge (that is known to modern physics only in its cruder aspects) we can understand the structure of the sense organs. But we shall never comprehend the peculiar characteristics of the circulatory system of man with his erect posture nor the mysteries of the metallic nature if we do not approach them through Initiation-knowledge.

This implies that we shall never understand the nature of disease in the sense I have described without Initiation-knowledge, for the physical properties of metals cannot cure disease. With an understanding of the physical attributes of metals it may well be possible to heal cerebral damage, but not disturbances of the circulatory fluids. What I have been saying is, in fact, not strictly accurate, for it is only the coarsest substance of the brain that can be healed. Fluids also circulate in the brain; therefore, in reality, one cannot heal cerebral damage with metals alone, but only with the aid of spiritual knowledge.

That may well be true, you will reply, but how do you account for the positive achievements of medicine today in the art of healing? The answer is that medicine is able to heal because it still preserves a memory of the old traditional knowledge about the spiritual elements in metals. It uses a combination of traditional knowledge and purely physical discoveries, though these are of not much avail. And if materialism were to triumph at the expense of tradition, chemical remedies alone could not effect any healing. We are now at the point in human evolution when we must make a new approach to the spiritual, because the old traditions of primordial clairvoyance have gradually been lost.

The mystery behind the metallity of silver is of a very special kind. If the cosmic impulse behind copper awakens the first higher level of consciousness in the being of man, if a different cosmic force behind mercury awakens a second higher level of consciousness that is related to the world of stars and therefore to the spiritual world which we inhabit between death and rebirth, then the metallity of silver must awaken a consciousness of an entirely different order.

When man intensifies and enhances his relationship to silver by the same process he adopted towards the metallic natures of copper and mercury, he comes into touch with a still deeper organization within him. Mercury relates him to the vascular system which, in turn, relates him to a cosmic circulation, to the spirituality of the Cosmos. The intensification of his relationship to silver brings him into direct contact with all the forces and impulses that survive from earlier incarnations.

If a man concentrates on the peculiar properties of silver — and it is some time before the effects are registered — he concentrates within himself those forces which are responsible not only for the circulation of fluids through the vessels, but also for the circulation of warmth in the bloodstream. He then realizes that he owes his human status to the warmth circulating in his blood, in that he feels a certain inner warmth, a material, yet at the same time a spiritual element within his blood; and that in this warmth forces from former incarnations are actively working. In man's relationship to silver is expressed that which can influence the warmth-activity of the blood and also that which provides a spiritual link with earlier incarnations.

Silver therefore preserves that metallic virtue which reminds man of what survives in his present life from earlier incarnations. For the circulation of the blood with its remarkable warmth-differentiations is not derived from this physical world, nor from the world of Elements which I have described to you, nor even from the world of stars. The world of stars determines the course and direction of the blood circulation. But in the warmth of the blood that circulates within us there works the vitalizing force from previous lives on Earth. It is to this we appeal directly when we refer to forces of silver in their relationship to man. Thus the mystery of silver is related to his previous incarnations. Silver is one of the most astounding examples .of the all-pervasiveness of the spiritual, even in the physical world. He who has a right understanding of silver knows that it is the symbol of the cycles of man's lives on Earth. Hence the mystery of silver is bound up with reproduction and its secrets, because through the process of reproduction the being of man is perpetuated from generation to generation. The spiritual being who existed in former lives on Earth incarnates again through the process of reproduction. This is the same mystery as the mystery of blood. The mystery of the blood, of the warmth of the blood, is the mystery of silver.

We are now familiar with the normal condition of man. Let us proceed to a study of his pathological states. Now the blood should not take its warmth from man's present environment, but from the spheres through which he has passed in previous incarnations. Let us suppose that the warmth of his blood is affected by his present environment and is not activated by that which links us spiritually to previous incarnations. Pathological conditions then ensue. They occur because all that is connected with the warmth of the blood is severed from its natural associations, from earlier lives on Earth. What is fever? From the stand point of spiritual science fever occurs because the human organization has severed its relation with the cycle of incarnations. If, in some cases of illness, the doctor ascertains that the external world has worked upon the patient in such a way that his organization is in danger of being cut off from earlier incarnations, then the doctor administers silver as a remedy. A very interesting case of this nature occurred recently in Dr. Wegman's Clinic in Arlesheim. A condition such as I have described may suddenly occur in the spiritual life. Through external circumstances the human organization, owing to the peculiar characteristics of the blood, threatens to break away from previous incarnations. And this is precisely what happened recently in a particular case in Dr. Wegman's Clinic. A patient who was convalescent suddenly developed an unexpectedly high temperature, a fever of unknown origin as it is described by orthodox medicine. With her intuitive understanding Dr. Wegman immediately administered a silver cure. When she told me about it the case revealed a complete picture of cosmic relationships. We learn from this of the interplay between what is connected with the spiritual evolution of man on the one hand, and on the other hand, with what leads to pathological conditions; and we learn how to treat them.

How is it that the Initiate is able to survey former lives on Earth? So long as we are bound up with earlier incarnations, as is the case in ordinary life, and are still involved in their karma, we cannot look back upon our earthly incarnations with our ordinary consciousness. The effects of these incarnations are felt in our present life. We fulfil our karma under their influence and our life is determined by karma. We cannot look back without ordinary consciousness, but, if we wish to do so, we must throw off its limitations for a time. And when we can see the earlier lives objectively, we are in a position to look back.

We must, of course, be able to restore the status quo in a perfectly normal way, otherwise we become psychopaths, not initiates.

Here we have a phenomenon that arises in the course of spiritual development. We cast off our spiritual moorings that attach us to previous incarnations. In abnormal cases and under pathological conditions disease has this effect. Disease is an abnormal expression of that which we must develop normally in a higher sphere in order to attain spiritual vision and other levels of consciousness. If the blood, isolated from the rest of man's organism, surrenders to the dictates of its consciousness — for blood possesses a consciousness of its own, even as other organs have their own particular states of consciousness — if, then, the blood is freed from the bondage of the rest of the organism, it can look back in this abnormal state into earlier incarnations, but not consciously. In order to look back consciously we must first dispense with normal consciousness; when we look back in a pathological condition the link with normal consciousness will be preserved.

The study, for example, of the metallity of silver which is an excellent remedy for all diseases associated with karma, leads on from the mystery of silver to other profound mysteries. We have thus spoken of virtually all those metallic natures that are related to the various conditions of consciousness in man. We will now extend our investigations into these conditions of consciousness, into the relationship to other worlds which man can establish through these conditions. In other words we propose in the next lectures to study in further detail the right path to spiritual knowledge.