The National Epics With Especial Attention to the Kalevala
The following lecture was formerly in GA 136 entitled, The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature, published in German as, Die Geistige Wesenheiten in den Himmelskoerpern und Naturreichen. In Bn/GA 158, it is the 2nd of 12 lectures in the series, The Human's Connection with the Elemental World, published in German as, Der Zusammenhang des Menschen mit der Elementarischen Welt. Kalewala. Olaf Asteson. Das russische Volkstum. Die Welt als Ergebnis von Gleichgewichtswirkungen.
9 April 1912, Helsingfors
First of all I must apologise to you that I cannot give my lecture in the language of this country. The fact of this lecture being given is in response to the wish of the friends of our Theosophical Society, by whom I have been summoned hither to give a series of lectures lasting a fortnight, and who had the idea of making it possible within that time of adding the two announced public lectures. Hence I must crave your pardon if many of the names and designations which are borrowed from the national epic of the Finns are not rightly pronounced by me who have no language. Only in the lecture of next Friday shall we touch upon Occult Science or Theosophy; the consideration of this evening will rather have to do with a sort of neighbouring realm which in the profoundest sense of the word belongs to the most interesting of human historical considerations, of human historical thought.
The National Epics! We need only to think of some of the well-known national epics, of the epics of Homer, which have become the epics of Greece; of the legends of the Niebelungen in Central Europe; and finally of the Kalevala, and immediately the fact shines forth, that by means of these national epics we are led more deeply into the soul of humanity and the striving of humanity than by any other historical investigation; we are so led into the soul of humanity and the striving of humanity that ancient times are brought powerfully before our souls, as vividly as the present time, but in such a way that they affect us in the immediate present just as the fate aid life of the present day humanity living around us. How uncertain and dim from the historical point of view are the descriptions of the ancient people of Greece of whom the Epics of Homer tell us, and how, when we let the contents of the Iliad — of the Odyssey work upon us, do we look into the souls of those people who are far beyond the grasp of ordinary historical observation! No Wonder that the study of the National Epics is somewhat of a puzzle to those who are occupied with the scientific or literary aspect of them! We need only point to one fact with regard to the Greek Epics, to a fact which has been repeatedly expressed by an enlightened observer of the Iliad in a very beautiful book on Homer's Iliad which appeared only a few years ago, — I mean Hermann Grimm, the nephew of the great philologist of German myths and legends, Jacob Grimm. By letting the figures and facts of the Iliad work upon him, Hermann Grimm is again and again obliged to say: “Oh! this Homer!” We do not need to-day to go into the question of the personality of Homer; When he describes anything which is borrowed from a handicraft, from an art, it is as though he were an expert in that handicraft, in that art. If he describes a battle, a contest, he seems to be perfectly acquainted with all the strategic and military principles which come into consideration in the conduct of war. And rightly does Hermann Grimm point out that a stern judge in such matters, namely Napoleon, was an admirer of the reality of the description of battles in Homer; and he was a man who without doubt was qualified to give an opinion whether or not the military point of view is presented before our souls in a directly expert and vivid way. From the general human standpoint we know how plastically the figures are presented to our soul by Homer as if they were immediately in front of our physical eyes. And how does such a national epic as this continue to manifest itself through the various periods? For truly, he who observes dispassionately will not receive the impression that human artific or pedagogic cult could have maintained all through the centuries up to our own days, interest in the Iliad and the Odyssey, — for this interest is self-evident and universally human. Yet these epics set us in a certain sense a task; directly we study them they present to us a very definite — even an interesting task. They must be taken quite accurately in all their details. We at once feel that there is something obscure in such national epics if we try to read them as we read any modern work of art, a modern novel, or such-like. We feel even at the first lines of the Iliad that Homer speaks with exactitude. What does he describe to us? He tells us even at the beginning what he is describing. Much is known from other descriptions not contained in the Iliad, of events which form the connecting link with the facts of the Iliad. Homer wishes only to describe to us that which he states so pregnantly in the first lines, — the wrath of Achilles. And when we go through the whole of the Iliad and consider it impartially, we have to say to ourselves: — In very deed it contains nothing but what can be shown to be the result of the wrath of Achilles. Further, another peculiar fact appears at the very beginning of the Iliad; Homer does not begin simply with facts, he does not even begin with any personal opinion, but he begins with something which in modern times would perhaps be taken as mere words; he begins by saying: — Sing to me, Oh Muse, of the wrath of Achilles: — And the more deeply we penetrate into this national epic, the more clear does it become to us that we cannot at all understand the sense, and spirit, and meaning of it all unless we take these words at the beginning quite seriously But then we have to ask ourselves: — What do they actually mean?
And now to consider the manner of representation; the whole way in which the events are brought before our souls! For many, not only professional students, but even for artistic spirits like Hermann Grimm, there was a question in those words “Sing to me, oh muse, of the wrath of Achilles,” a question which penetrated deeply into the heart. How in this Iliad, as well as in the Niebelungen or in the Kalevala, are the deeds of spiritual-divine Beings — in Homer's poems chiefly the deeds and purposes and passions of the Olympic Gods — enacted in unison with the deeds, purposes and passions of men, men who like Achilles are far removed in a certain sense from ordinary humanity, and again with the passions, purposes and deeds of men who are nearer to ordinary humanity like Odysseus, or Agamennon? When Achilles appears before our souls, he appears to us to stand alone among the human beings with whom he lives; as the Iliad continues, we very soon feel that in Achilles we have before us a personality who feels himself unable to discuss his inner life with the other heroes. Homer also brings before us how Achilles has to settle his real affairs of the heart with divine spiritual beings who do not belong to the human kingdom; how the whole way through the Iliad he stands alone with regard to the human kingdom, and on the other hand stands close to super-sensible, superhuman powers. On the other hand how strange it is, that when we focus all our human feelings in the form and manner of thinking and perceiving we have acquired in the process of civilisation, and then direct our gaze towards this Achilles, he often appears such that we are obliged to say: How egotistical! How self-centred! A being in whose soul divine-spiritual impulses are at work acts, absolutely from personal motives for a long time, so important a war for the Greeks as the Trojan war of legend, was only carried on, only produced the special episodes which are described in the Iliad because Achilles fought out for himself what he personally had to fight out with Agamemnon. And we continually see superhuman powers taking part; we see Zeus, Apollo, Athene imparting the impulses, allotting to the people, so to speak, their places. It was always remarkable to me before I took up the task of approaching these matters from the standpoint of Occult Science or Theosophy, how a very intellectual man such as Hermann Grimm with whom I had often the pleasure of personally discussing this matter, should look at these things as he did. Not only in his writings but often in personal conversation, and then much more exactly expressed he used to say: “If we only take into consideration what historical powers and impulses perform in the evolution of humanity, we do not succeed in getting at what lives and creates there, especially in the great national epics.” Hence, for Hermann Grimm, the intellectual student of the Iliad and the national poems, there was something which transcends the ordinary powers of human consciousness, the intellectual, reasoning sense-perception, the ordinary feelings; something which was for him a real power as creative as the other historical impulses. Hermann Grimm spoke of an actual creative imagination permeating human evolution just as one speaks of a being, of a reality, of something which governs man and could say more to him at the beginning of the ages which we are able to observe, which could say more to him during the development and growth of the individual races that what the ordinary soul-forces mean to man. Thus Hermann Grimm always spoke of the creative imagination as the glimmering of a world which does not expend itself in the ordinary human soul-forces; an imagination which to him in some way fulfilled the role of a co-creator in the process of human development. It is strange however, that when we consider this field of battle in the Iliad, when we consider this description of the wrath of Achilles with all the interaction of the super-sensible, divine spiritual powers, we do not arrive at such an opinion as Hermann Grimm has; and in his book on the Iliad itself we find many a word of resignation which shows us that the ordinary point of view which is taken to-day in a literary or scientific way is not reconcilable with these matters. What does Hermann Grimm arrive at with regard to the Iliad and the Niebelungen saga? He ends by assuming that the historical dynasties, the races of rulers were preceded by other such races; this is literally what he thinks. Thus he considers that probably Zeus and his whole circle represent a sort of race of rulers which had preceded the race of rulers to which Agamemnon belonged. Thus he considers that there is a certain uniformity in the history of humanity, so to speak; he considers that in the Iliad or Niebelungen saga are represented Gods or Heroes of primeval humanity whom later humanity only attempted to represent by clothing their deeds, their characters, in the dress of superhuman myths. There is much that one cannot reconcile if one takes as a basis such an hypothesis, above all the special form of the intervention of the Gods in Homer. Let us take one case. How do Thetis the mother of Achilles, Athene, and other figures of the Gods intervene in the events in Troy? They so intervene by taking the forms of mortal men, inspiring them as it were, leading them on to their deeds. Thus they do not appear themselves, but permeate living men. Living men were not only their representatives but sheaths permeated by invisible powers which could not appear in their own form, in their own being on the field of battle. Yet it would be strange to admit that primeval men of the ordinary kind should be so represented that they had to take representative men of the race of mortals as a sheath. This is only an intimation which can prove to us all that in this way we shall not arrive at a true understanding of the ancient national epics. Just as little shall we succeed if we take the figures in the Niebelungen saga, Siegfried of Xanten on the lower Rhine who was removed to the Burgundian court at Worms, who then wooed Kriemhilde the sister of Gunther, but who by virtue of his special qualities can alone woo Brunnhilde. And in what a remarkable way are described such figures as Brunnhilde of Iceland, and Siegfried: Siegfried is described as having conquered the so-called family of the Niebelungen, as having acquired, won, the treasure of the Niebelungen, By means of what he has acquired through his victory over the Niebelungen, he gains special qualities which are expressed in the epic when it is said that he can make himself invisible, that he is invulnerable in a certain respect, that he has, moreover, forces which the ordinary Gunther has not! For the latter cannot win Brunnhilde who is not to be conquered by an ordinary mortal. By means of his special powers which he has as the possessor of the treasure of the Niebelungen Siegfried conquers Brunnhilde, and on the other hand, because he can conceal the powers which he has developed, he is in a position to lead Brunnhilde to Gunther his brother-in-law. And then we find how Kriemhilde and Brunnhilde whom we meet at the same time at the Burgundian court are two very different characters — characters in whom obviously forces are at work which are not to be explained by the ordinary soul forces. Therefore they quarrelled, and therefore also it came about that Brunnhilde was able to seduce the faithful servant Hagen to kill Siegfried. That again shows us a feature which appears so remarkably in the Sagas of Central Europe. Siegfried has higher superhuman forces; these superhuman forces he has through the possession of the treasures of the Niebelungen. Finally they make of him not an absolutely victorious figure, but a figure which stands before us as a tragedy. The powers which Siegfried possesses through the treasures of the Niebelungen are at the same time a fatality. Still more remarkable do things become if we take in addition the Northern Saga of Sigurd, the slayer of the dragon, but this is enlightening. In this, Sigurd, who is none other than Siegfried, appears as the conqueror of the dragon; as he who thereby wins from an ancient race of dwarfs the treasures of the Niebelunger. And Brunnhilde meets us as a figure of a superhuman nature, as a Valkyrie figure.
Thus we see that there existed in Europe two ways of representing these things; the one which directly connects everything with the divine-super-sensible, which shows us that in Brunnhilde is meant something which belongs directly to the super-sensible world; and the other way which represents the sagas in a human form. But we recognise even here, how the Divine resounds through everything.
And now from these sagas, these national epics, let us glance into that realm of which I really ought to speak only as one who can look at things from outside; only in such a way as one can understand them if one does not speak the language in question. I beg you to take into consideration that with regard to everything which in the Kalevala has to do with Western Europe, I can only speak as one who fixes his eyes on the spiritual contents — the great, mighty figures, and whose observation of course the undoubted fineness of the epic which can only appear when one has mastered the language in which it was written, must escape. But even in such a consideration how characteristically do we encounter the Trinity in the three — it is difficult to use a name for them; one can not say Gods, one cannot say Heroes, so we will say — in the three beings whom we encounter: — Väinemöinen, Ilmarinen, and Lemminkäinen. These figures utter a remarkable language when we compare them in character with one another; a language in which we recognise that the things which are to be said to us surpass what can be accomplished with the ordinary soul-forces. If we only consider these three forms externally, how they increase till they become monstrous! And yet it is peculiar that while they increase to the point of monstrosity, every individual feature stands before our eyes, so that in nowise have we any feeling that the monstrosity is grotesque, or a paradox; everywhere we have the feeling that of course that which has to be said must appear in superhuman size, in superhuman significance. And then what enigmas in the contents! Something which spurs on our souls to think of all that is must human, but which on the other hand, surpasses all that the ordinary powers of the soul can grasp. Ilmarinen, whom one often calls the Smith, the clever, artistic smith, forges for a region in which dwell the — so to speak elder brothers of humanity, or at least more primitive humanity than the Finns, forges for a strange region at the instigation of Väinemöinen, the Sampo. And we next see this remarkable thing, namely, that far from the field of action on which the facts take place of which we are speaking, many things are happening; we see how time goes by; and we see how after a definite time, Väinemöinen and Ilmarinen are induced to fetch back that which has remained in the strange land — the Sampo. He who lets the peculiar spiritual language work upon him which speaks in the forging of the Sampo, in the removal of it, and the regaining of it, has directly the impression — I must beg you to consider that I am speaking as a stranger, and as such can only speak of the impression — that the most essential thing in this magnificent poem is the forging, the removal, and the later recovery of the Sampo. And what affects me very specially and remarkably in the Kalevala is the ending. I have heard that there are people who believe that this ending is perhaps, a later addition. I feel that this ending of Mariata and her son, this entry as it were, of a very remarkable Christianity into the epic — I say expressly a very remarkable form of Christianity — belongs to the whole; and because this ending is there, the Kalevala gains a very special “nuance”, a colouring, which can so to speak, make the whale matter comprehensible to us. I may say that to my idea, such a delicate, impersonal representation of Christianity is nowhere to be found as in the ending of the Kalevala. The Christian principle is detached from anything local, the coming of Mariata to Herod, who is called Rotus in Kalevala, is expressed so impersonally that one is scarcely reminded of any locality or personality in Palestine. Indeed one might say, one is not once reminded of the historical Christ Jesus. As a most intimate concern of the heart of humanity, we find delicately indicated at the end of Kalevala the penetration of the most precious pearl of civilisation into the civilisation of Finland. And with it is connected the tragic touch which can work so deeply upon our souls, that at the moment when Christianity enters, when the Son of Mariata is baptised, Väinemöinen bids farewell to his people in order to go to an undefined locality, leaving to his people only the purport and power of that, which as a bard he had been enabled to relate of the primeval events which were included in the history of this people. This withdrawal of Väinemöinen before the Son of Mariata seems to me so significant that one might see therein the living cooperation of all that which fundamentally governed the Finnish race, the Nation-soul of the Finns, from primeval times up to the moment when Christianity found admittance into Finland; and this primeval force relates itself tom Christianity in such a way-that everything which was then enacted in the soul can be felt with wonderful intimacy. That I state as something of the objectivity of which I am conscious, something which I could never state to give pleasure in the way of flattery. We in the West of Europe have in these national epics one of the most wonderful examples of how the members of a race actually live before us in the immediate present, with their complete souls; so that through Kalevala, Western Europe learns to know the soul of Finland in such a way as to become perfectly familiar with it.
Why have I said all this? I have said it in order to characterise how in the national epics something speaks which cannot be explained through ordinary soul-forces, even if one speaks of imagination as a real power. And if, to many what is said sounds only like an hypothesis, so may that which Occult Science or Anthroposophy has to say with regard to the being of these national epics, so may the same perhaps be alleged with regard to this consideration of the national epics. Certainly I am conscious that what I have to say aims at something to which in our present day few can give their assent. Much of it will probably be regarded as fancy, as imagination; but some will at least accept it among other hypotheses which are brought forward with regard to the growth of humanity. But for those who penetrate into spiritual science as I shall permit myself to describe it in the next lecture, for them it is not an hypothesis, but an actual result of scientific investigation. The things sound strange which have to be said, because that scientific method which is to-day believed to stand quite firmly on the ground of facts, of truth, of the attainable, restricts itself to what is perceived by the external senses, to what the intellect connected with the senses and the brain can tell of things. And to-day it is simply regarded as unscientific if a method of investigation is spoken of which employs other forces of the soul, forces whereby it is possible to look into the super-sensible, at the interplay of the super-sensible with the sensible. By this method of investigation, by Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy, one is led not merely to the abstract imaginings to which Hermann Grimm was led with regard to the national epics, but one is led to something which far surpasses imagination, which represents quite a different condition of soul or consciousness from that which man can have at the present point of time in his evolution. And thus by means of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy, we are led back in quite a different way to human antiquity than by ordinary science. Ordinary science is accustomed to-day so to look retrospectively at the growth of humanity that what we call man to-day has gradually developed from lower, animal-like creations. Spiritual science does not at all pretend to combat this modern investigation, but acknowledges fully the magnitude and the power of the acquisitions of this natural science of the 19th century: it acknowledges the importance of the idea of a transformation of animal forms from the most imperfect to the perfect; and it acknowledge the connection between the external human form and the most perfect animal form; but it cannot at all remain at such a view of the growth of humanity, of the growth of the organism as would be presented if with an external material gaze one could view that which has been accomplished in the course of the earth's happenings in the organic world up to man. For spiritual science, the humanity of today stands beside the animal world. We look into the world which surrounds us, at the various animal forms; we look at the — in a certain way — uniform human race distributed over the earth; in spiritual science we too have unprejudiced views of the fact that in the external form everything tells in favour of the relationship of man with other organisms on the earth; but in spiritual science, when we trace the growth of humanity backwards, we cannot do so in such a way that in the grey antiquity we let the stream of humanity flow directly into the animal train of evolution. Indeed we find if we go back from the present to the past that nowhere can we directly rank the present human form, the present man, as arising out of any animal form which we know in the present. If we go back into the evolution of humanity, we find first of all — one might say — the soul-forces, the forces of intellect feeling and will, which we have in the present day developed in man in more and more primitive form. Then we get back to hoary antiquity of which ancient documents tells us so little. Even when we go back as far as the Egyptians, or the early Asiatic races, we are led back everywhere into a primeval humanity which — certainly in a more primitive but yet in a great and noble form — has the same forces, the forces of feeling, intellect and will, which of course have only found their present-day development towards the present time, but which we discover as the most powerful impulses of humanity, as the most powerful historic impulses so far as we can trace humanity backwards when we take the present-day soul into consideration. Nowhere do we find it possible to place even the most remote human race in a special relationship with the present-day animal forms. This, which spiritual science must assert is recognised to-day by thoughtful investigators of nature. But when we go further back, and consider how the human soul has changed, when we compare how a present-day man — let us say — thinks scientifically or otherwise, how he uses his intellect and his mental powers, — when we trace that back, we can trace it fairly accurately; it first teamed forth in humanity at a definite time — we might say that it shone forth in the sixth and seventh centuries before Christ. The collective configuration of the present-day feelings and thoughts does not actually reach back further than to that time which is recorded as the period of the first Greek natural philosophy.
If we go back still further, and have a sufficiently unprejudiced view we find without reference to occult science, that not only does all present-day scientific thought cease, but we find that the human soul in general is in quite a different condition, in a much more-impersonal condition; and also in such a condition that we have to describe its powers as much more instinctive. Not indeed as if we meant to say that before this time men acted from such instincts as the present-day animals have, but that guidance by the reason and intellect as it exists to-day was not there then; instead of it there was a certain instinctive, direct certainty in man; he acted from direct elementary impulses, he was not then controlled by the intellect connected with the brain. And then of course we find that in the human soul those forces still ruled unalloyed which we have now detached as the forces of intellect on the one hand, and those forces which to-day we carefully separate from the forces leading to intellectuality and science, the forces namely, of imagination. Imagination, intellect and reason worked simultaneously in those old times. The further we go back, the more do we find that what then ruled in the soul of man, what then worked, was not separated into imagination and intellect; we ought no longer to describe it as we designate a soul-force to-day when we speak of imagination. We know quite well to-day that when we speak of imagination we are speaking of a soul-power whose expressions we cannot really make use of, to which we cannot ascribe reality. The modern man is careful in this matter; he takes care not to confuse what imagination gives him with what the logic of reason tells him. If we look at that which the spirit of man manifested in those pre-historic times, before imagination and intellect were separated, then we can perceive a primeval, elementary, instinctive force ruling in the soul. In its characteristics we can find the present-day imagination, but — if we may use the expression — what at that time gave imagination to the human soul had something to do with an actuality, a reality; imagination was not yet imagination; it was still — I must not shrink from using the expression directly — clairvoyant power, was still a special capacity of the soul, the gift of the soul whereby men saw things, facts, which to-day in his epoch of civilisation when intellect and reason are to be specially developed, are hidden. More deeply did those forces which were not imagination but clairvoyant powers, penetrate into the hidden forces of existence, into the forms of existence which lie behind the sense-world. It is to this that an unprejudiced consideration must lead us when we consider the evolution of humanity retrospectively. We have to say to ourselves: — Truly we must take the world evolution, development, seriously. That the humanity of the present day has come in the last hundreds and thousands of years to its present lofty powers of reason and intellect, is a result of evolution. These soul-forces have been developed out of others. And whilst these, our present soul-forces are limited to the impressions received from the external sense-world, a primeval humanity who laid no claim to science in the present-day sense, or to the use of the intellect in the present-day sense, a primeval human soul-power at the basis of every individual race saw into the background of existence, into a realm which as a super-sensible lies behind the sensible. In all peoples clairvoyant powers were once the property of the human soul, and out of these clairvoyant powers have been developed the present-day powers of human intellect and reason — the present manner of thinking and feeling. Those soul-forces which we have to describe as clairvoyant were such that man felt at the same time: — It is not I myself which thinks in me, feels in me. Man felt as if entirely subjected physically and spiritually to higher super-sensible powers which worked and lived within him. Man felt himself to be a vessel by means of which super-sensible powers expressed themselves. If one considers that, then one also grasps the meaning of the progressive evolution of humanity. Man would have remained a dependent being who would only have felt himself as a vessel, as the sheath of powers and beings had he not progressed to the proper use of intellect and reason. Man has become more independent by the use of intellect and reason, but at the same time has been cut off for a short period of his evolution, from the spiritual world in a certain respect, cut off from the super-sensible background of existence. In the future it will be different again. The further we go back, the further does the human soul by means of the clairvoyant forces see into the background of existence, see how, out of this background of existence those forces have also emerged which have worked on man himself in pre-historic times, up to a point of time in which all the relations of the earth were still quite different from what they are to-day, when they were such that the forms of living beings were much more changeable, much more subject to a sort of metamorphosis than they are now. Thus we must go back far beyond that which one at present calls the period of human civilisation, we must trace human development and animal development side by side. And lying much farther back than is usually believed to-day, is the separation of the animal forms from the human. The animal then became rigid, more immovable, at a time in which the human form was supple and flexible, and could be modeled and impressed by that which was experienced inwardly in the soul. Then indeed we come back to a period in the development of humanity which did not reach the consciousness of the present day, but in which another consciousness existed in the soul, which was in connection with the clairvoyant forces which have just been described. Such a consciousness which could survey the past, and which saw the development of humanity emerging from the past into complete separation from all animal life, this consciousness also saw how the human forces ruled, but still in active connection with the super-sensible forces which acted with them; it saw that which in the times, for instance, when Homer's epics arose, existed only as an ancient echo, and which in still earlier times existed in much greater measure. If we go back beyond Homer we find that men had clairvoyant consciousness, which as it were, recollected human pre-historic events, and in the recollection was able to relate the circumstances of human development. In Homer's time the circumstances were such that one felt that the ancient clairvoyant consciousness was disappearing; but one still felt that it existed. It was a period in which man did not speak from himself as an independent ego-being, but in which the Gods, super-sensible, spiritual powers, spoke out of him. Thus we must take it seriously as if Homer were not speaking of himself when he says “Sing to me oh Muse, of the wrath of Achilles”; “Let a higher being sing within me, who takes possession of me when I sing and speak.” This first line of Homer is a reality. Thus we are not referred to ancient dynasties of rulers who in the ordinary sense resemble present-day humanity, butt we are referred by Homer to the fact that in primeval times there was a different humanity, in whom the super-sensible lived. Achilles is absolutely a personality of the transition period from the ancient clairvoyant to that modern mode of vision which we find in Agamemnon, in Nestor and Odysseus, and which is then led on to a higher vision. We can only comprehend Achilles when we know that Homer wished to represent in him one belonging to the ancient humanity who lived in a time which lies between that period when man still reached directly up to the ancient Gods, and the present-day humanity which indeed begins with Agamemnon. Just in this same way we are referred to a human antiquity in the Niebelungen Saga of Central Europe. The whole representation of this epic shows us that in it we have not do with men of our present time, in a certain respect, but with such men of out present time who have still presented something from the period of ancient clairvoyance. All the qualities of which Siegfried had command, whereby he could make himself invisible, whereby he had the power to conquer Brunnhilde who could not be conquered by an ordinary mortal — side by side with the others of which we are informed in him, show us that in him we have a man who has brought over into present-day humanity as if in an inner human remembrance, the achievement of the ancient soul-powers which were connected with clairvoyance and the union with Nature. At what period of transition does Siegfried stand? That is shown to us in Brunnhilde's relation to Kriemhilde, the wife of Siegfried. What the two figures signify cannot be more clearly worked out here, but we shall understand all the sagas if in the forms which are brought before us, we see symbolical representations of inner clairvoyant, or remembered clairvoyant relations. Thus, in Siegfried's relation to Kriemhilde, we have to see his relation to his own soul forces which govern within him. His soul is in a certain measure a transitional soul, because with the treasures of the Niebelungen, that is, the clairvoyant secrets of the ancient times, Siegfried brought over into the new period something which at the same time made him quite unfit for his present time. The men of ancient time could thus live with these treasures of the Niebelungen, that is, with the ancient clairvoyant powers. The Earth has altered her conditions. Hence, Siegfried, who still carries within his soul an echo of the ancient ages, does not fit into the present time, hence he is a tragic figure. How can the present age stand in relation to what is still active in Siegfried? Something of the ancient clairvoyant powers are still active in him; for when he is overcome, Kriemhilde remains behind; the treasure of the Neibelunge is brought to her, she can make use of it. We learn how later, the treasure of the Niebelungen is taken from her by Hagen. We can see that Brunnhilde also is in a certain way capable of working with the old clairvoyant forces. Hence she stands in opposition to those human beings who are suited to the present time — Gunther and his brothers, Gunther above all, of whom Brunnhilde thinks nothing. Why is that? We know from the saga that Brunnhilde is a kind of Valkyrie figure, there we have something again in the human soul: and indeed that with which in ancient times the clairvoyant powers in man could still be united, but which has withdrawn from man, which has become unconscious, so that man as he lives in the present day in the age of intellect, can only be united with it after death. Hence the union with the Valkyrie at the moment of death. The Valkyrie is the personification of active soul-forces to which the ancient clairvoyant consciousness attained, but which present-day man only experiences when he passes through the gates of death. Only then is he united with this soul which is represented in Brunnhilde. Because Kriemhilde knew something from the ancient time of clairvoyance, and knew something of the powers which the soul receives through the old clairvoyance, she is a figure whose wrath is described as the wrath of Achilles is described in the Iliad. It is amply indicated that the men who in the ancient times were still gifted with clairvoyant powers were not controlled by the intellect, did not let the intellect rule, but worked directly from their most elementary, most intense impulses. Hence the personal element, the direct egoism of Kriemhilde, as of Achilles.
The whole matter of consideration of the national epics becomes specially interesting when we add the Kalevala to those already mentioned: We shall be able to show (to-day it can only be indicated owing to the shortness of time) that spiritual science in the present day can point to the ancient clairvoyant condition of humanity only because it is becoming possible again now — of course in a higher manner permeated by intellect, not as in a dream — to call forth the clairvoyant condition by means of spiritual education. The man of the present day is gradually growing again into an age in which from the depths of the human soul hidden forces which again point into the super-sensible, — of course henceforth guided by reason, not left uncontrolled by it — will grow up, when man will be guided into super-sensible regions; so that we shall again learn to know the region of which the ancient national epics speak to us from the dim consciousness of ancient times. Hence we can say: — One learns to know that it is possible to attain to a manifestation of the world not merely by means of the external senses, but by means of something super-sensible which lies behind the external physical human body. There are methods — of which we are to speak in the next lecture — by means of which man can make the spiritual, super-sensible inner being, that which is so often denied to-day, independent of the sensible, external body, so that man, when he is independent of his body lives not in an unconscious condition as in sleep, but perceives the spiritual world around him. Hence modern clairvoyance proves to man the possibility of living consciously in a higher super-sensible body which fills the ordinary body like a vessel. In spiritual science it is called the etheric or ether body. This etheric body lies within our sense body. By means of it we come even to-day, when we inwardly detach it from the physical sense body, into that condition of perception whereby we become aware of super-sensible facts. We become aware of two kinds of super-sensible facts. First of all, at the beginning of this clairvoyant condition we become aware of the super-sensible when we begin to know that we no longer see by means of our physical body, we no longer hear through our physical body, we no longer think by means of the brain connected with the physical body. Then we still know next to nothing of all the external world — I am telling you just the facts, the more exact proofs of which will only be possible in the next lecture —we know next to nothing of an external world. On the other hand, the first stage of clairvoyance leads us so much the more to a view of our own etheric body; we see a super-sensible body of human nature which underlies it, and we can only express it as something which works and creates like a sort of inner master-builder — which permeates our physical body in a living, active manner. And then we become aware of the following: —
We become aware that what we perceive in ourselves as the true activity of the etheric body is, on the one hand limited, modified by our physical body; that it is as it were, clothed on the physical side, the etheric body as it were filling and giving shape to eyes and ears, and to the physical brain; thereby be belong in a certain measure to the earthly element. In this way we perceive how the etheric body becomes a special, individual, egotistical human being sheathed in the physical body. But on the other hand we perceive how this our etheric body leads us into those regions where we encounter impersonally something higher, something super-sensible, something which is not us, but which is present in us at this very time, which works through us as spiritual, super-sensible power and force. Hence, according to the consideration of spiritual science, the inner soul life is divided for us into three principles which are as it were, enclosed in three external sheaths, filling them. In the first place, we live in such connection with our soul that in it we experience that which our eyes see, our ears hear, our senses can grasp, what our intellect can comprehend; we live with our souls in our physical body. In so far as our soul lives in the physical body, in occult science we call it the spiritual (or consciousness) soul, because only through a complete familiarity with the physical body has it become possible in the course of human development for man to advance onwards to the “I” consciousness. Then specially does the modern clairvoyant also learn to know the life of the soul in that which we have called the etheric body. The soul so lives in the etheric body that it certainly has its forces, but the soul forces so work there that we cannot say: — these are our personal forces; they are universal, human forces, they are forces through which we stand much closer to the collective hidden facts of Nature. In so far as the soul perceives these forces in an external sheath, in the etheric body, do we speak of the intellectual soul, or rational soul as the second soul principle. So that just as we have the consciousness soul enclosed in the sheath of the physical body, so have we the intellectual or rational soul enclosed in the etheric body. And then we have a still finer body, by means of which we reach up into the super-sensible world. Everything that we experience inwardly as our own original secrets, as well as that which to-day is concealed from the consciousness, and which in the time of the old clairvoyance was perceived as the growing forces in the process of human evolution, which was so perceived as if one could look back at the events of hoary antiquity, — all this we assign to the sentient soul, assign it to this, so that it is enclosed in the finest human body, in that which we call the astral body — please do not take offence at this expression, but accept it as a technical term .I t is that part of the being of man which as it were, in him connects the external, earthly part with that which works inspiringly in his inner being, that which he cannot perceive with his external sense, cannot even perceive when he looks through his own inner being into the etheric body, but which he can perceive when he is independent of himself, of the etheric body, and is connected with the forces of his origin. Thus we have the sentient soul in the astral body, the intellectual or rational soul in the etheric body, and the spiritual or consciousness soul in the physical body. In the times of the old clairvoyance these things were more or less instinctively known to man, for they looked into themselves, they saw this three-principled soul-being. Not that they had by the use of reason analysed the soul, but when they had clairvoyant consciousness, the three-principled soul stood before them; the sentient soul in the astral body the intellectual soul in the etheric body, and the consciousness soul in the physical body. And when they looked back, they saw how the external part of man, the outer form — when the animal forms had long before hardened — developed out of what we encounter to-day in its results as the three-fold soul forces. Then they perceived that this threefold organisation is born from super-sensible, creative powers; they perceived that the sentient soul is born from super-sensible, creative powers which gave the astral body to man, that body which he not only has like his etheric and physical bodies between birth and death, but which he takes with him when he passes through the gates of death, and which he already had before he entered into existence through birth. Thus the old clairvoyant saw the sentient soul connected with the astral body; and that which, so to speak works inspiringly on man from the spiritual worlds and creates his astral body, they saw as the first creative force which built up man from the Cosmic whole. And as a second creative force they saw that, the result of which we have to-day in the intellectual or rational soul, and which so created the etheric body that this etheric body transforms all external substance, all external matter, so that it, can permeate the physical human form, in the human, and not in the animal sense. The creative spirit for the etheric body which in its results appears in our intellectual soul, was seen by the old clairvoyants as a superhuman Cosmic Power, working in man somewhat like magnetism in physical matter. They looked up into the spiritual worlds, saw the divine, spiritual power which framed, forged the etheric body of man, so that this etheric body became the master-builder which transforms external matter, breaks it up, pulverises it, grinds it, so that what formerly existed as matter is organised into man, and man receives human capabilities. The old clairvoyant saw how this creative power remodelled all matter in an artistic way, so that it could become human matter. Then again, they looked upon the third, upon the spiritual or consciousness soul which really makes the ego-man, which is the transformation of the physical body, and they ascribed those powers which rule in the physical body solely to the line of heredity, to that which is derived from father and mother, from grandfather and grandmother and great-grandfather, in short, to that which is the result of the human powers of love, of the human powers of propagation. In that they saw the third creative power. The power of love works from generation to generation. The old clairvoyant looked up to three powers, to a creative being who ultimately calls forth the sentient soul, in that it fashions the astral body in man which man had before he became a physical being through conception, the body which man will have when he has passed through the gates of death. This structure of forces — we might rather say — this heavenly structure in man which lasts on when the etheric body and physical body pass away, was at the same time to the old clairvoyants their direct experience proved this — that which could bring all culture and civilisation into human life. Therefore in the producer of the astral body they saw that power which brings in the divine, which itself only consists of the permanent, and by means of which the Eternal rings and resounds into the world. And the old clairvoyants from whom — I say it without fear — the characters in Kalevala have sprung, have represented in Väinemöinen the active, plastic form of that creative power whose results we encounter in the sentient soul which inspires the divine in man, Väinemöinen is the creator of that principle of the human body which endures beyond birth and death, and which brings the divine into the earthly. And we look at the second figure in Kalevala, Ilmarinen; if we go back to the old clairvoyant consciousness, we find that Ilmarinen brings forth everything that is copy or image, in his active moulding of the etheric body, from out of the forces of the earth, and from that which does not belong to the material earth, but to its deeper forces. We see in Ilmarinen the producer of that which fashions and grinds matter. We see in him the forger of the human form. And we see in the Sampo, the human etheric body, forged by Ilmarinen out of the super-sensible world, whereby material matter is pulverised, and can then be tarried on from generation to generation, so that in the powers which are given by the third super-sensible divine being, through the powers of love continued from generation to generation, the human spiritual or consciousness soul works on further in the human physical body. We see this third super-sensible divine power in Lemminkäinen. And thus in the forging of the Sampo we see the profound mysteries of the origin of humanity. We see profound mysteries from the ancient clairvoyant consciousness at the back of Kalevala, and thus we look back into human antiquity of which we have to say; that was not the age when one could have analysed the phenomena of Nature by means of the intellect; everything was primitive; but in the primitive lived the perception of what stands behind the material. Now it was so that when these bodies of man were forged, especially when the etheric body of man — the Sampo, was forged that it had first to be wrought upon for a time; did not at once possess the forces which were prepared for him by the super-sensible powers. Whilst the etheric body was being forged, it had first to grow accustomed to itself inwardly; just as when a machine is being prepared it must first be made ready, them as it were, fully matured, in order to be made use of. In human development — this shown in all evolution — there had always to be an interval between the creation of the principle in question, and the using of it. Thus man's etheric body was fashioned in remote primitive times; then came an episode when this etheric body was being sent down into human nature. Only later did it shine out as the intellectual soul, and man learnt to use his powers as external powers of nature; he brought forth from his own nature the Sampo which had remained concealed. We see symbolically in a wonderful way this secret development in the forging of the Sampo, in the concealment of it, in the inefficiency of the Sampo, in the episode which lies between the forging, and the rediscovery of it. We see the Sampo first sunk into human nature, then brought forth to the external powers of civilisation, which appear first as primitive forces just as they are described in the second part of Kalevala. Thus everything in this great national epic gains a profound significance when we see in it clairvoyant descriptions of the ancient occurrences in human development, of the coming into being of human nature in its various principles. I can assure you that to me who only learnt to understand Kalevala long, long after these facts regarding the development of human nature stood clearly before my soul, it was a wonderful, amazing fact to find again in this epic that which I had been able to represent more or less theoretically in my “Theosophy”, which was written at a time when as yet I knew not a line of Kalevala.
And thus we see how the secrets of mankind appear in that which Väinemöinen gives, he who was the creator of super-sensible inspiration, the history namely, of the fashioning of the etheric body. But there is yet another secret concealed. Now mark, I understand nothing of Finnish, I can only speak from spiritual science. I should be able to express the word “Sampo” only by endeavouring to form a word which could be formed in the following way: — In the animals we see the etheric body so active that it becomes the master-builder of the most varied forms, from the most imperfect to the most perfect. Into the human etheric body was forged something which collected all these animal forms as in a unity, with the one exception only, that over the earth the etheric body, that is the Sampo, is fashioned according to climatic and other conditions, so that this etheric body has the special national character, the special national peculiarities in its forces, so that it forms one nation differently from another. The Sampo is, to every nation that which determines the special form of the etheric body; which so places this special nationality in life that its members have the same appearance as regards that which shines out through them, through life-being, and physical-being. Just as similarity of appearance in the human form is modeled from the etheric, so do the forces of the etheric body lie in the Sampo. Thus in the Sampo we have the symbol of the cohesion of the Finnish people; that which in the depths of human nature has made the Finnish nationality assume a definite form.
But it is so with every national epic. National epics only arise when the culture is still enclosed in the forces of the Sampo, in the forces of the etheric body. As long as the culture depends upon the forces of the Sampo, so long does the nation bear the stamp of this Sampo. Hence this etheric body bears in all culture the national character, the nationality. When, in the course of the process of civilisation was it possible for a breach to occur in this nationality, this national character? It could occur when something entered into the process of civilisation which was not for one man, for one family, for one nation, but for the whole of humanity; which came froth from such depths of human nature, from such fine and intimate depths (and is then incorporated with the process of civilisation) that it influenced all mankind without distinction of nationality, of race, and so on. And that was given when those powers spoke to mankind which do not speak to a nation, but to the whole of humanity; those powers which are so impersonally alluded to even in the national sense, so finely and so delicately at the end of Kalevala, when the Christ is born in Mariata. When He is baptised, Väinemöinen leaves the land, for something has entered which connects the special national character with the universal-human. And here at this point where one of the most significant, most pregnant, most magnificent national epics ends in the description, the wholly impersonal — pardon the paradoxical expression — un-Palestine-like description of the Christ-impulse, then Kalevala becomes very specially significant. Here we are led specially into that which can be perceived when the benefits, the felicity of the Sampo are actively experienced as continuing to work through all human development, and at the same time in co-operation with the Christian idea, the Christian impulse. That is the infinite delicacy at the end of Kalevala, it is also that which explains to us clearly that what preceded this conclusion belongs to pre-Christian times. But as truly as universal humanity will only continue by preserving its individual character, so truly will the individual national civilisations which derive their being from the old clairvoyant conditions of the people, continue to live in the universal human; so truly will everything which is indicated at the end of Kalev as pertaining to the Christ, always be connected, keep up its special results through the endless working referred to in the inspirations of Väinemöinen. For Väinemöinen means something which belongs to that part of the human being which is raised above birth and death, which passes with man through the whole of human development. Thus, such epics as Kalevala represent something to us which is immortal, which can be permeated by the Christian conception, but which will make itself of value as something individual, and will always furnish the proof that the universal-human will continue to live in the many national civilisations just as the white light of the sun breaks up into many colours. And because this universal-human permeates the individual in the being of the national epic, and illuminates every man, therefore the individualities of the nations live so strongly in the spirit of their national epics. Therefore do the men of ancient times appear so vividly before our eyes, who, in their clairvoyance have looked upon the Beings of their own nationality as described in all the epics, and where it is still so wonderfully brought home to us in the conditions which surround humanity in its intimate life and nature as they exist in the Finnish nation; in the representation of that which lies in the depths of the soul, so that it can, as it were, be placed side by side with the latest revelations of spiritual science of the mysteries of humanity. At the same time, such national epics are in their very being a living protest against all materialism, against all derivation of man from merely external forms, material conditions, material beings. Such national epics, especially Kalevala, inform us that man has his origin and primitive state in the spiritual; therefore a renewal, a re-fructification of the old national epics in the most active sense of spiritual culture, can perform immeasurably great service. For as Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy to-day desires above all the renewal of human consciousness in the direction which roots humanity not in matter but in spirit, so an accurate consideration of such an epic as Kalevala shows us that the best which man has, the best that man is, is derived from the spirit-soul world. In this sense it was interesting to me that one of the Runic writings, the “Kantela,” raises a direct protest against interpreting the Kalevala in a materialistic sense. That instrument, that kind of harp, to which the ancient bards sang in olden times, is alluded to in the representation as if it were formed from the material of the physical world; but the ancient Runic writings protested in the sense of spiritual science, one might say, that the stringed instrument for Väinemöinen was not constructed of natural products which are visible to the senses. In reality, say the ancient Runic writings — the instrument upon which men played the melodies which came to him straight from the spiritual world, was derived from the spirit-soul world. In this sense the ancient Runic writings are to be explained in quite an occult sense as an active protest against the interpretation in a material sense, of what man may become; an indication that that which man possesses, that which is his being, and that which is only symbolically expressed in such an instrument as that ascribed to Väinemöinen that such an instrument is derived from spirit, and with it the whole being of man. The old Finnish Folk-Rune which is translated into German as follows, may serve us as a motto for the principles of occult science, and sums up in main outline and colouring what I was desirous of expounding in this lecture on the subject of the national epics.
“They certainly speak falsely and are in error, who believe that Väinemöinen fashioned the Kantela, our beautiful stringed instrument, from the jawbone of the like, and spun the strings from the tail of the Hiisi-horse; it was fashioned from sorrow, trouble bound its parts together, the tears of bitter longing and suffering wove its strings.”
Thus all being is not born of matter, but of spirit and soul; so says this Old Folk-Rune, so also says occult science which is to take its place in the active development of culture in our time.
German translation of Folk-Rune: —
“Falsches sagen die gewisslich and befinden sich in Irrtum die da glauben, Wainemoinen hab gezimmert die Kantele, unsere schönen Saitenspiele, aus den Kinnbacken des Hechtes, and dass Saiten er gesponne aus den Schweif des Hiisi-Rosses; sie ist aber aus der Not gezinmert, Kummer band dann ihre Teile, bittere Schmsuchstränen spannen and die Leiden ihre Saiten.”