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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

From Mammoths to Mediums
GA 350

The truly remarkable lectures — or, more accurately, question and answer sessions — contained in this book, form part of a series (published in eight volumes in the original German) dating from August 1922 to September 1924. This series features talks given to men involved in various kinds of building work on Rudolf Steiner's architectural masterpieces, the first and second Goetheanums. (The destruction by fire of the first Goetheanum necessitated the building of a replacement.) A vivid description of the different types of workers present, as well as the context and atmosphere of these talks, is given by a witness in the Appendix to this volume.

The sessions arose out of explanatory tours of the Goetheanum which one of Steiner's pupils, Dr Roman Boos, had offered. When this came to an end, and the workers still wished to know more about the 'temple' they were involved with and the philosophy behind it, Dr Steiner agreed to take part in question and answer sessions himself. These took place during the working day, after the mid-morning break. Apart from the workmen, only a few other people were present: those working in the building office, and some of Steiner's closest co-workers. The subject-matter of the talks was chosen by the workers at the encouragement of Rudolf Steiner, who took their questions and usually gave immediate answers.

Translated by A.R. Meuss FIL, MTA

I. About repeated lives on earth. Physical exercises, dancing and Sport May 30, 1923
Reasons for changes in population density. Why do we not remember our previous incarnations? People only remember the things that happened when they were awake during the day. Yet infinitely more happens when we are asleep. Conditions after death. When dancing in the ordinary way, we do not follow the physical body but the ether body; with physical exercises we adapt more to the earth than we would otherwise do. In sport, we only follow physical earth movements. Other movements have to Balance these out — eurythmic movements. The first chapter of Threefold Commonwealth (or Towards Social Renewal). We can only think with the ether body. Modem obsession with Sport.
II. How the etheric and astral principles work in man and earth June 2, 1923
Cataract. Living lens and eye glasses. We see because our astral body is inside our ether body. Cataract develops when salts deposit in the lens and do not let the ether body in. Volcanoes. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are due to the relative positions of the stars. Falb' s theory. Firedamp. Plants that take in the astral are poisonous plants. Deadly nightshade juice to treat cataract. The human liver as an intemal observer.
III. Blood circulation and movement of the heart. Perceiving things of the spirit through the lens in the eye June 6, 1923
Erroneous ideas on the movement of the heart. The hydra creature. The heart is moved by our astral body. The heart as the internal sense organ. Left-hearted and right-hearted people. We are able to see the outside world if everything in the eye is transparent, and we can gain inner sight if something is deliberately made opaque. The right and wrong kinds of movement. Anything to do with machines must take its orientation from man.
IV. Effects of light and colour in earthly matter and in cosmic bodies June 9, 1923
The colour of a body is connected with the whole way in which it exists in this world. The seven colours of the rainbow. The prismatic colours. Gaseous flames. Spectral analysis. How do colours develop? Sodium flame. Radiant matter. Iron in the blood. Mars and Saturn as opposites.
V. The way our guardian angel works June 13, 1923
Examples of the way a spirit who guides a human being from one earth life to another works and gives warnings. Stephenson and academic prejudices in his day. Schleich's experiences with patients who had premonitions of death. Sir Oliver Lodge seeking contact with his son who was killed in the First World War by consulting mediums.
VI. The deeper reasons for the disastrous World War June 16, 1923
How the inner strength of one individual can have a tremendous influence on the soul of someone else who is rather weak. Examples to show that we are all of us much cleverer in our ether body than in our astral body and I. Julius Robert Mayer and his observations as a ship's doctor. People did not want to know about things of the spirit until 1914, and world destiny has chastised them for this.
VII. Effects of relative star positions on the earth and on human beings June 25, 1923
The extraordinary weather conditions of recent years. About the mammoths found in Siberia. Periods of great cold, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are due to unusual relative positions of the stars. Eruptive haemorrhages. Moon influences on man. What the discover}’ of America really meant. Christopher Columbus and Copernicus — spherical form of the earth and movement of the earth around the sun. Robert Hamerling's encounter with somnambulist Filomena Gavazzi in Trieste. Effects of relative star positions on earth, man and animals.
VIII. Developing independent thinking and the ability to think backwards June 28, 1923
About people who are called 'mentally ill'. When someone is mentally ill, the body is so sick that it cannot use the mind, which is always healthy. Why people are unable to think. Peculiarities of the Latin language. We can only think with the ether body. It is not possible to get into the world of the spirit unless one is able to think independently. Philosophy of Spiritual Activity as a means of training. Concepts must be flexible. Thinking backwards, doing so very deliberately and with care, enables man to tear himself away from the physical body. Looking back on the day's events.
IX. Creating boredom artificially. Opinions formed in the physical world are reversed in the other world June 30, 1923
Creating boredom artificially by reflecting on specific statements as a way of getting into the world of the spirit. Nietzsche, who continually tormented himself with such statements in his youth. Wanting to be amused all the time means one is running away from the spirit. Things are the other way round in the world of the spirit than they are in the physical world. Opinions formed in the physical world are reversed in the other world. Transformation in the spirit.
X. Developing inner honesty July 7, 1923
People are not really able to think at all today; modem education does not help them to develop the ability to think. Example from the Basler Nachrichten newspaper ('dream of flying'). About spiritualism as the most material thing there is. Nightmares. Learning to think through talking. Speech and the right way of breathing. Developing inner honesty in our thinking.
XI. Getting to be at home in the outside world. Questions relating to nutrition. Effects of potatoes, beetroot and radishes July 18, 1923
Why the lizard loses its tail when caught. Fear holds the organism together. Helping children with rickets by dealing with their fears. We must have courage and bear the fear if we want to gain higher knowledge. We need to enter wholly into the world of nature to gain insight in the spirit. All solids resound, and one can still hear the sounds on waking up. How people make known that they are dying. Man goes out of earthly existence resounding. Harmful effects of potato diet. The roots of plants are rich in salts, their flowers rich in oils. Salts stimulate the brain, oils have an effect on the abdomen. If we eat beetroot we develop a great longing to think a lot. If someone is no longer very active in their thinking it is good to add radish to the diet. We develop our bodies out of principles that come from beyond the earth, surrounding the earth in the light.
XII. Human and cosmic breathing. The earth breathes light. Fertilization in plants and humans; fertilization of water through lightning. July 20, 1923
Cataleptic states. Hansen's experiments with hypnosis and post hypnosis. The head thinks slowly, the belly quickly. Opposites are balanced out. We take as many breaths in a day as we have days in a life. The earth's light breathing. If head-breathing dominates, the will becomes inflexible; if belly-breathing dominates, we develop flight of ideas. The female organism takes the whole world into its breathing process when fertilization occurs. Light coming from the cosmos fertilizes the flower. Water is fertilized by light and heat coming from the cosmos, which is apparent in lightning. Catalepsy is a rootlike state; people who talk and talk are in a flower-like state. The earth, as it is now, will live for 25,920 years; we have passed the mid-point.
XIII. How conscience developed in the course of human evolution. Unbornness and immortality. Teachings of Aristotle and the Roman Catholic Church July 25, 1923
Man comes from the world of the spirit with his I and his astral body. The ancient Indian civilization of 8,000 years ago — people felt they were the sons of the gods. In the ancient Persian civilization, a first appreciation of the earth developed. Life after death became increasingly important for the people of ancient Egypt; they were terribly afraid of dying. The ancient Greeks loved the earth most of all. Aristotle's views later adopted by the Christian Church. In earlier times, people brought their moral impulses with them from the world of the spirit. Origins of conscience. The Church taking responsibility for conscience. The tragic story of Augustin Smetana. The dogma of eternal punishment in hell. Conscience a legacy from life before earth.
XIV. Lung knowledge and kidney knowledge July 28, 1923
We always have to have a specific blood pressure in our bodies. Low and high blood pressure. The kidneys fail if the blood pressure is too high. The astral body spreads out in the right blood pressure. If the blood pressure is too low, people always feel slightly faint; they grow weak from this and their organs do not develop in the right way. High blood pressure causes us to age too soon, and our kidneys degenerate too early. Potato diet. People are really completely ignorant. It is the air which sets the head in motion. 6,000 or 8,000 years ago people would practise their breathing more to gain knowledge. Change from lung-knowledge to kidney-knowledge. The World War as a kidney disease suffered by humanity. Outer means will not change the world for the better today; the only way is that we begin to know things.
XV. Druid wisdom. Mithraic rites. Roman Catholic ritual. Masonic rites. Ritual of the Christian Community. September 10, 1923
Druid circles and dolmen or cromlechs. For the Druids, life was determined by the movements of the sun. Swastika. Runes. Mithraic rites. Fusion of different rites gave rise to Roman Catholic ritual. Altar and monstrance. Masonic rites consisting in symbols. The ritual of the Christian Community.
XVI. Role of protein, fats, carbohydrates and salts in nutrition. Effects of potato diet. Opponents of anthroposophy. September 22, 1923
Anyone unable to have salt influences in the brain will grow imbecile. Carbohydrates mainly serve to give us our human form. Fats make it possible for us to have substance in the right way. Protein is vital for life. Effects of potato diet. Dangers of excessive potato consumption. Protein is connected with the birth and death of the physical human being; fats are the ether body's main field, carbohydrates that of the astral body, and the I has its field in the salts. Flowers and fruits are digested in the intestines, roots in the head. Potato diet and cereal grain diet. Hydrocephalus. Scientists and theologians opposing anthroposophy.