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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Festivals and Their Meaning IV:

The Michael Path to Christ (Extract)

25 December 1919, Stuttgart

... I have frequently spoken to you here of that important event which came to pass in the last third of the nineteenth century, the event through which a special relationship was established between the Archangelic Power, that Being whom we call the Archangel Michael, and the destiny of mankind.

I have reminded you that since November, 1879, Michael is to be the Regent, as it were, for all those who seek to bring to humanity the right forces necessary to their healthy progress.

My dear friends, in our day we know that when such a matter is indicated, the indication refers to two different things:—first, to the objective fact, and second, to the way this objective fact is connected with what men are willing to receive into their consciousness, into their will. The objective fact is simply this, that in November, 1879, beyond the sphere of the sense world, in the super-sensible world, that event took place which may be described as follows:—Michael has gained for himself the power—when men come to meet him with all the living content of their souls—so to permeate them with his power, that they are able to transform their old materialistic intellectual power—which by that time had become strong in humanity—into spiritual intellectual power, into spiritual power of understanding. That is the objective fact; it has taken place. We may say concerning it that since November, 1879, Michael has entered into another relationship with man than that in which he formerly stood. But it is required of men that they shall become the servants of Michael.

What I mean by this will become quite clear to you through the following explanation.

You are aware that before the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished upon earth, the Jews of the Old Testament looked up to their Jahve, or Jehovah. Those who, among the Jewish priests, looked up in full consciousness to Jahve, were well aware that they could not reach him directly with human perception. The very name, Jahve, was held to be unutterable, and if it had to be uttered, a sign only was made, a sign which resembles certain combinations of signs which we attempt in the art of Eurhythmy. The Jewish priesthood, however, was well aware that men could approach Jahve through Michael. They called Michael the countenance of Jahve. Just as we learn to know a man when we look into his face, just as we draw conclusions about the gentleness of his soul from the gentleness of his countenance, and about his character from the way he looks at us, so the priesthood of the Old Testament, through the atavistic clairvoyance which flowed into their souls in dreams, desired to gain from the countenance of Jahve, from Michael, a knowledge of Jahve, whom it was not yet possible for mankind to reach.

The position of this priesthood towards Michael and Jahve was the right one. Their position towards Michael was right because they knew that if a man of that time turned to Michael, he could find through Michael the Jahve-power, which it was proper for the humanity of that time to seek.

Other Soul-Regents of humanity have appeared since then in the place of Michael; but since November, 1879, Michael is present again and can become active in the soul-life of those who seek the paths to him. These paths to-day are the paths of spiritual scientific knowledge. We may speak of “the paths of Michael”, just as well as of the “paths of spiritual scientific knowledge”.

But just at the time when Michael entered in this way into relationship with the souls of men, in order again to become their inspirer for three centuries, at this very time the demonic opposing force, having previously prepared itself, set up the very strongest opposition to him, so that a cry went through the world during our so-called war-years, in reality years of terror, a cry which has become the great world-misunderstanding which now fills the hearts and souls of men.

Let us consider what would have become of the Jewish people of the Old Testament, if instead of approaching Jahve through Michael they had sought to approach him directly. They would have become an intolerant people, a national self-seeking people concerned with the aggrandizement of their own nation, a nation thinking only of itself. For Jahve is the God who is connected with all natural things, and in the external historical development of mankind, he manifests his Being through the connection of generations, as it expresses itself in the essential qualities of the people. It was only because the ancient Jewish people desired at that time to approach Jahve through Michael, that they saved themselves from becoming nationally so egoistic that Christ Jesus would not have been able to come forth from among them. Because they had permeated themselves with the Michael power, as this power was in their time, the Jewish people were not so strongly impregnated with forces given over to national egoism, as would have been the case had they turned directly to Jahve or Jehovah.

To-day Michael is again the Regent of the World, but it is in a new way that mankind must become related to him. For now Michael is not the countenance of Jahve, but the countenance of Christ Jesus. To-day we must approach the Christ-impulse through Michael. In many respects humanity has not yet struggled through to this. Humanity has retained atavistically the old qualities of perception by which Michael could be approached when he was still the intermediary to Jahve; and so to-day humanity has a false relationship to Michael. This false relationship to Michael is apparent in a very characteristic phenomenon.

During the years of the war we heard continually the universal lie: “Freedom for individual nations, even for the smallest nations.” This is an essentially false idea, because to-day, in the Michael period, the all-important matter is not groups of men, but human individuals, separate men. This lie is nothing else than the endeavour to permeate each individual nation not with the new force of Michael, but with the force of the old, the pre-Christian time, with the Michael-force of the Old Testament. However paradoxical it may sound, there is a tendency among so-called civilized nations at the present day to transform what was justifiable among the Jewish people of the Old Testament, into something Luciferic, and to make of this the most powerful impulse in every nation.

People wish to-day to build up the republics of Poland, of France, of America, etc., upon methods of thought suited to Old Testament times. They strive to follow Michael as it was right to follow him before the Mystery of Golgotha, when men found through him Jahve, a national God. To-day it is Christ Jesus whom we must strive to find through Michael, Christ Jesus the divine leader of the whole human race. This means that we must seek for feelings and ideas which have nothing to do with human distinctions of any kind on the Earth. Such feelings and ideas cannot be found on the surface. They must be sought where the spirit and soul-part of man pulsate—that is, along the path of Spiritual Science. The matter lies thus; that we must resolve to seek the real Christ upon the path of Spiritual Science:—that is, upon the Michael-path. Only through this striving after spiritual truth is the real Christ to be sought and found; otherwise it would be better to extinguish the lights of Christmas, to destroy all Christmas trees, and to acknowledge at least with truth, that we want nothing that will recall what Christ Jesus has brought into human evolution ...