Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 44

Kassel, 2-26-'09

As soon a pupil begins an occult path powers approach him who try to inhibit his development. When we mediate we should forget ourselves by extinguishing everything that connects us with ordinary life, we should immerse ourselves entirely in the content of the given words so that we don't feel our body or have any ordinary thoughts or daily feelings. The opposing powers try to pull us back into ordinary life and to prevent us from concentrating. As soon as we notice this, as for instance in

In pure rays of light

where we should only think and feel that light is the Gods' clothes, so that we live entirely in this image, we can use the Mercury staff as an effective symbol, and namely a bright, shining yellow staff with first a dark snake and then also a shining white snake wound around it.

Every live thing has a skin as a sign that it's enclosed in the physical world. Etheric and astral bodies also have skins. When a man receives impressions through his senses, the astral body's skin gets cracked and is used up; this becomes manifest as tiredness. This skin is shed and replaced during sleep. We should try to become aware of this process before going to sleep. Think that one is going into spiritual worlds where the astral body is renewed by spiritual beings in the realms of harmonies and sphere tones. We should go to sleep with thankful feelings for these divine beings and powers; here we should feel love for wisdom. Then bad feelings won't be able to influence us.

Just as a man uses up the skin of his soul body every day and renews it, so a snake also sheds its skin every so often and renews it. That is why looking at a Mercury staff is an effective way to get into spiritual worlds during meditation in such a way that hindering influences are overcome.

Another way is through the idea that we're inside a blue aura, closed off from all bad feelings and thoughts that want to get at us. Only the good powers can gain access to our soul. This can be effectively connected with the following meditation:

May the outer sheath of my aura become denser.
May it surround me with an impermeable skin for all impure, unclean thoughts and feelings.
May it only open to God's wisdom.

A beginner will only feel the presence of dark forces in distracting thoughts, but an advanced pupil see these astral powers as rats, mice and parasitic animals. But no one should be glad to see such animals, otherwise he would fall prey to them. One must strengthen oneself to resist the influences of these dark powers.

Another typical experience that's felt by a novice and seen by a pupil is that his physical body is dismembered and scattered, and seems not to belong to him anymore. Even the organs like the heart, liver and gall bladder expand. Thereby we recall that our physical body arose on Saturn through the streaming in of Thrones' substantiality, our etheric body on old Sun through Spirits of Wisdom, our astral body on old Moon through Spirits of Movement, whereas on earth the I was given to us by Spirits of Form. We return to these spirits during meditation. Now one should not imagine that each of our organs goes back to the power who implanted them in us, but we blend into their moods; although when we feel that we belong to these powers we must remain aware of our own I.

Another typical experience during meditation is that consciousness seems to get weaker or is being dimmed down. This is also the case in a certain respect, but we must try to always keep it awake. The black cross with seven red roses is a way to do this. The rosy cross is the great symbol of Christ Jesus—dying, perishing life that has the power to produce new life. Imagining this symbol always has a strengthening effect on spiritual development; it strengthens our everyday life in all situations.

It's during our occult exercises that the Tempter approaches us most strongly. An advanced pupil sees him just as he's described in the Bible.

Finally a feeling of deepest soul peace arises during meditation—no external feeling of quiet, but a deep inner feeing of peace that can't be disturbed by anything, no matter how much things are raging and roaring around one. Here the Mercury staff helps us to press into spiritual worlds and the rose cross makes us firmer in them. Two things must be completely avoided during occult training. We should never harm anyone through deeds, thoughts or words intentionally or not. Secondly, the feeling of hate must disappear in us, otherwise it reappears as a feeling of fear; for fear is suppressed hate. We must transform the hate into a feeling of love, the love of wisdom.