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True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation
GA 243


The purpose of the following synopsis is to facilitate reference to particular subjects deal with in the lectures, in the order in which the themes occur.


This course of lectures deals with paths leading to the spiritual world.

Man apprehends reality through the fusion of external knowledge and spiritual knowledge. The physical is informed by the spiritual and the spiritual is active within the physical. Maya—the world of the Great Illusion. “Know thyself”—the search for self-knowledge. From these two sources arose the quest for spiritual knowledge. The world of Maya cannot give knowledge of man's inner being. In the ancient Mysteries this was sought in the spiritual world. Methods leading to cognition of the phenomenal world cannot give knowledge of the spiritual world. This leads to illusion. Equally, vague mysticism and dream fantasies promote ignorance. These are false paths.

True paths: (I) External knowledge valid for life between birth and death. (2) Even artistic expression of such sense-derived knowledge cannot answer the problems of life. Greek sculptors and Renaissance painters did not work from models. Art originally inspired by Mystery teachings. (3) Spiritual knowledge necessary for purposes of healing. Ancient remedies had their origin in the Mysteries.

The totality of world-knowledge in ancient Chaldea. Waking life called Apsu. Sleeping life revealed Tiamat. The demoniac, astral forms of Tiamat overcome by Ea or Soph-ia (wisdom) who is represented by Marduk or Michael. Marduk created Heaven and Earth from the slain Tiamat. In the course of time the vision of the spiritual world was lost and was replaced by intellectual knowledge. Today the need is to translate our extensive knowledge of the phenomenal world into a new knowledge of the Mysteries and to rediscover the religious source of art and the art of healing.


The different conditions of consciousness in man.

In the ordinary consciousness of today man distinguishes clearly between sleeping and waking. Sense-perceptions more real than thought. In ancient Chaldea there was no sharp differentiation between day consciousness and night consciousness. The Chaldeans lived in the Moon consciousness up to the age of twenty-one. Their calendar was based on phases of the Moon. They experienced changes of development every seven years, in accordance with the lunar phases. Waking consciousness first experienced at the age of twenty-one. This persisted until the fiftieth year and in old age they became highly clairvoyant. In the Mysteries they were ‘Sun heroes’ at fifty and ‘Fathers’ in old age.

The Chaldeans knew three states of consciousness: diminished consciousness up to the twentieth year; waking consciousness up to the fiftieth year; thereafter, clairvoyant consciousness.

Man today knows two states of consciousness with the addition of a third: waking, sleeping, dreaming. The third stage of consciousness in the Chaldean may be compared to a state of dreamless sleep. Today we set no store on the experiences of dreamless sleep.

The kaleidoscopic life of dreams today—fantastic, pathological, symbolical, etc. It is possible through certain exercises to carry over the dream life into waking life. This is the first stage of Initiation.

When fully conscious in dreams we develop a second state of consciousness; a higher reality is added to the reality of everyday life. The ‘group souls’ of animals are seen. We become aware of the astral world.

Further exercises lead to the emptied consciousness. By an act of will it is possible to remain awake in this condition and we become aware of the plant archetypes in the world of stars. The plant-cover on Earth is the reflected image of the starry heavens. This is the mid-stage of Initiation.

The three worlds on Earth:

A being with body, soul and spirit—man.

A being with body and soul on Earth, but whose spirit dwells in the astral world—the animal.

A being with body on Earth, the soul in the astral world, the spirit in the spiritual world—the plant.

The Cosmos and the kingdoms of Nature are united in man.


The metamorphosis of consciousness opens up new paths for the investigation of other worlds.

By transforming the uncoordinated experiences of dreams into fully conscious waking experiences we are able to perceive the animal kingdom in its totality. Through a waking, sense-free consciousness we rise to the world of stars and there we come to know the truth about the plant-cover of the Earth. Above is the cosmic life and below, the plants; the archetypal forms present in the Cosmos are reflected in the Earth as in a mirror.

Having developed the second level of consciousness—a waking consciousness independent of sensory impressions—we can develop a spirit of love towards all created things. We achieve clairvoyant vision of the mineral-crystal kingdom. This is not reflected in the Earth and the Earth vanishes from our sight. Fear and spiritual self-control.

The mineral-crystal kingdom is created from the interplay of cosmic currents. The Gods are reflected in the crystals. Our soul should be filled with veneration and awe; our thought-life should not have an intellectual basis. With clairvoyant perception of the permeability of certain crystals we experience a revival of fear. At a later stage of knowledge we learn to know the “metallity” of metals as well as their crystal forms.

Man's centre of gravity is the heart. Under conditions of pain there is an intensification of consciousness and in shock man loses consciousness. Stability is centred in the heart and this centre is related to Gold. Gold harmonises and brings stability.

Meditation on Iron. Consciousness rises to the larynx. We enter the astral world and perceive the group-souls of the animals.

Meditation on Tin. Consciousness lies in the region between the eyes. We begin to leave our body and ascend into the Cosmos as far as the Jupiter sphere. The Iron consciousness embraces the Mars sphere, Gold the Earth sphere.

Meditation on Lead. We leave our body completely and rise to the Saturn sphere.

Meditation on Copper. The Copper consciousness pervades our whole being. It radiates from the centre below the heart and the ‘second’ man arises. He has emerged from Space into Time. He is awake in the world of the dead.

The ancient Chaldeans lived in the Iron (Mars) consciousness. They learned about life after death from Moon beings. Today this is no longer necessary.

The living appear unreal as compared with the dead. The case of Strader described.

The secret of spiritual investigation is the conscious transformation of consciousness.


The relationship of “metallity” to other forms of consciousness in man.

In ancient times it was customary to induce other states of consciousness by administration of metals internally, but only after years of training. This is no longer suitable today because the inner constitution of man is different. Today the method must be a spiritual one. The book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds indirectly gives indications for meditation upon metals.

Relationship between disease and consciousness. Disturbance of digestive functions indicates that copper consciousness is working too strongly in an unconscious manner in the world of the dead. Balance is restored by administering copper. This is the province of the medical practitioner. All substances have a physical and a moral side. The relationship between medical science and moral science must be renewed on a new basis.

The levels of consciousness of the seers in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. The scholars of the School of Chartres had a faint remembrance of Prosperina-Persephone. A sense of tragic loss. They no longer experienced the clairvoyant sleep of the ancients. Such was the experience of Alanus ab Insulis, Bernardus Silvestris, Joachim of Fiore, and especially Brunetto Latini. Their conversations with their pupils. Brunetto Latini received the revelation of the Goddess Natura through a heat-stroke.

The Mysteries of Ephesus. Conversation between pupils and Initiates after participation in the Mysteries. Ancient forms of knowledge still preserved in the Mysteries in the time of Homer were gradually lost in the days of Heraclitus. The teacher described the outer world as the garment of Demeter woven by Persephone. The pupil experienced the uprising etheric forces of nature; the teacher, the descending cosmic form-building forces. Thus knowledge became a unity.

Today through spiritual exercises we must seek forms of knowledge which lead back from the Outer to the Inner, from the Above to the Below, and then from the Inner to the Outer and the Below to the Above.


The copper condition of man.

The copper consciousness enables man to perceive his pre-earthly existence. In this state of consciousness man perceives the ‘group soul’ of the animals. The world appears transformed; the environment is permeated with the psychic and spiritual. Because this intermediate world permeates the sensory world we are able to develop our sense organs.

Physical chemistry has no significance in this intermediate world; it belongs to the world between birth and death. Only earth, water, fire and air have significance. Brunetto Latini gained insight into this ‘second’ world after a heat-stroke.

We owe our sense-derived images of the physical world to the construction of the brain. The need to silence brain activity when we enter this elemental world. Abstract thoughts destroy higher perception. When the brain is neutralized Imagination arises. Animals have a perception of a similar kind, but inferior and non-individualized.

Meditation on Mercury. Man is isolated from the physical world and the world of elements. Mercury stimulates the astral body. Man becomes aware of the metabolism of the organs. Inner activity is united with cosmic activity. Man becomes permeated with the ‘third’ man. The stars are revealed as colonies of spiritual beings.

Mercury and Tin are related. In meditating on Mercury man enters pre-earthly existence before the present earthly organs were formed. This new world is the world of cosmic fluids which create the temperaments of man: choleric, sanguinic, melancholic and phlegmatic. Loss of connection with the cosmic fluids leads to disease, e.g. defective circulation. Administration of Mercury restores the connection.

Meditation on Silver. Man is brought into contact with that which comes over from earlier incarnations. Meditation on silver leads to the perception of spiritual warmth in the blood. This warmth is connected with the forces of reproduction.

Pathological states. Blood should take its warmth from the spheres through which man has passed in previous incarnations, not from his present environment. Fever is the temporary separation of the circulation from its normal position within the chain of incarnations. For certain fever conditions, silver should be administered.

Silver is the remedy for all diseases arising from karma.


Description of the three states of everyday consciousness.

  1. Physical body is scarcely understood today.

  2. The etheric body—a body of formative forces—can be perceived by the first higher stage of consciousness.

  3. The astral body: is imperceptible to the senses and can be perceived only when the state of ‘emptied’ consciousness is reached.

  4. The Ego is perceived when the emptied consciousness is progressively developed.

Through spiritual training, spiritual sense organs can be developed. Sleep. The astral body and Ego leave the body but continue to vibrate with the physical and etheric bodies. From the chaotic interplay between the activity of the external spiritual world and the after-vibrations in the astral body, the dream arises. The Initiate suppresses the after-vibration of the physical and the etheric and is able to perceive clearly the spiritual world.

In dreamless sleep, consciousness is severed from the physical and the etheric and man lives in the astral and Ego, but without organs of perception. These organs can be developed through meditation. In the fifteenth century the significance of Initiation was partially lost. The physical world was regarded as the only reality. The function of Anthroposophy is to revive knowledge of the spiritual. .

The ancients were more loosely connected with their physical and etheric bodies. Modern education tends to bind us closely to them. In ancient times the novice's make-up and natural disposition determined his capacity for Initiation. The life-periods determine the possibilities of Initiation. The life-periods form organs of cognition. Age brings increased depth of clairvoyant perception. When we look back consciously into the experiences of our lives we find that each period was under the power of certain forces which can be re-lived.

When the life-periods are transformed into organs of inner experience, we are able to enlarge step by step our cosmic consciousness.


The historical evolution of mankind. Widely different spiritual characteristics of the epochs and their relation to the lift-periods.

The Michael epoch (the present epoch) began in the eighteen-seventies. Here the spiritual forces from the Sun are predominant in all sphere's of life. The bearers of these forces centred round the Archangel Michael.

The Gabriel epoch—the forerunner of the Michael epoch—lasted three to four centuries and was under the influence of the Moon forces. Man can gain knowledge of these forces through an inspired retrospective survey of the first seven years of childhood. To perceive the characteristics of our own epoch we must look back to the formative forces within us between the ages of twenty-one and forty-two.

The epoch dating back from the fifteenth to the eleventh centuries was subject to Mercury influences. The organ of perception for this epoch developed between the change of teeth and puberty. Outstanding figures of this epoch: Alanus ab Insulis, Bernardus Silvestris, Joachim of Fiore, other teachers of the school of Chartres and Brunetto Latini. Externally a period of darkness but spiritually filled with illumination. Much was imparted to mankind by names unknown to history, e.g. Paracelsus “major.”

In the Gabriel epoch figures such as Goethe, Byron, Voltaire, had a shadowy existence in the spiritual world. They are ‘eclipsed’ by great Moon Beings who formerly lived on Earth as spiritual teachers of mankind. They are interested in human movements—in writing and in other emanations such as fluid, skin, warmth and light emanations.

Black magic is the conscious use of chemical emanations for degenerate purposes. Life emanations can be used for good by the Moon Beings under the influence of the Sun.

The task of man in the Michael age is to learn to work with the life emanations, i.e. with living concepts, not dead theories.

The need for psychic and spiritual self-control. The spiritual in the emanations must not be drawn down into the physical world as in spiritualism. Danger of interference from elementary beings when the Ego of the medium is suppressed.

Experiments of Schrenk-Notzing.

The elementary beings use the skin emanations of the fluid element in order to produce the “phantom.” Magical preparations must be used in order to evoke the forces inherent in the light and warmth ethers. This leads to black magic which makes use of the Moon forces left behind in the Earth. A dangerous region created by mediumism and black magic surrounds the Earth and is actively opposed to all that is destined to proceed from the Sun region in the Michael age.


Ahrimanic beings and possession.

Each cosmic world can be reached by developing the appropriate level of consciousness.

We gain knowledge of the plant kingdom by raising our consciousness to the world of archetypal plant forms. We are then able to recognize the differences between the plant forms, e.g. violet and belladonna. The violet belongs to the world of emptied waking consciousness. The belladonna derives its being from other worlds; the astral world penetrates into the fruit and it is therefore poisonous. The same astral forces which fashion the animal into a sentient being, when entering into plants cause them to be poisonous. The belladonna attracts to itself something from an alien world, whilst the violet remains within the world proper to it.

In the world of the dead, elementary beings exist who make use of forces which do not belong to their world, but to the physical world. Their function is to transmit man's achievements on the physical plane to future generations, e.g. writing, the construction of motor vehicles and so forth. They are Ahrimanic beings and belong to an entirely different sphere of evolution.

Demoniac forms in the world of the dead are the astral reflection of poisonous plants, e.g. autumn crocus. Non-poisonous plants, e.g. violet, have their archetype in the next higher world. Through the medium we contact the plant archetypes but in a world that is foreign to them.

On the physical plane all men have mediumistic possibilities. Mediumistic persons have developed certain parts of the brain which no longer form the basis for Ego-activity. Through the medium the elementary beings project into the present what should have been communicated to the future. These beings are caught up in the destiny of the Earth and sacrifice their future mission.

The law of Archimedes and the weight of the human brain. The weight of the human brain is 20 grammes (instead of 1500 grammes) because it floats in a fluid medium. Only these 20 grammes can contain the Ego. The medium is a person in whom the 20 grammes no longer contain the Ego. In trance conditions this “phantom” 20 grammes, the residual weight of the brain, is invaded by elementary beings; the Ego is insulated. Under these conditions the elementary beings can use the fluid, breath and light emanations.

Through mediumism the spiritual world trespasses into the physical world. This danger is always present when man's Egoconsciousness is dimmed.


Dream life and somnambulism.

The experiences of the dream and of somnambulism are normal conditions of ordinary life. When intensified they lead either into true or false channels.

Through exercises in concentration and meditation dream life can be invested with higher consciousness. Teachers once lived upon Earth in etheric bodies and instructed mankind through Inspiration. They were responsible for the primordial culture on Earth. Later they withdrew to the Moon sphere and from there they now work upon man after he has passed through the gates of death. They reveal to him the consequences of his karma. In communion with them man investigates the spiritual worlds adjacent to our own. This state of consciousness is an illumination of the dream state.

The difference between the Initiate and the man of normal consciousness. In sleep, ordinary man experiences only with the Ego, the Initiate with Ego and astral body. This form of perception was developed in the Mysteries, continued through the Middle Ages and is more or less lost today. Dangers attached to this form of perception. The need for correct exercises in meditation.

In ancient times man was naturally possessed of spiritual vision. He perceived spiritually the aura of a being not incarnated in a physical body and then dreamed the form belonging to it. The ancient painters worked in this way. This clairvoyant vision has been lost and must be reacquired through spiritual training. The old Initiates do not penetrate beyond the Moon sphere and Moon incarnation of the Earth. H. P. Blavatsky associated with Initiates who remained behind in the Moon sphere. Dr. Steiner went beyond this and described the Earth in its earlier incarnations of Moon, Sun and Saturn (see Occult Science—an Outline). Moon Initiates antipathetic to concepts of natural science. Dr. Steiner overcame their limitations and was able to impregnate the Imaginative world with fully conscious concepts of modern natural science.

Difference between dream and somnambulism. The dreamer lives wholly, but unconsciously, in his Ego and astral body. In the medium, Ego and astral body are outside the physical and etheric bodies and he has no control over them; an elementary being takes command. The medium is united with the external world of nature, with the world of form; he “dreams in action.” The dreamer is immersed in the formless, the eternally changing; he “dreams within.”

The Initiate must find his way consciously into the spiritual world. Psychical research attempts to understand the inner being of man through experiments which are a caricature of the scientific method. The desire is to perceive the spiritual in tangible form.

Man attempts to bridge the sphere of inner experience and external perception, the chaotic world of the dreamer and the abnormal world of the medium. In Art, the external form is imbued with spirit and the spiritual content is translated into external form. Anthroposophy directs the occult stream to Art, e.g. Mystery Plays, Eurythmy, Speech Formation.

The Moon mysteries must be transcended. Important to impregnate occult knowledge with spiritual science.

In ancient times the Mysteries were associated with medicine. This approach must be revived. Connection between mediumism and illness. Illness due to withdrawal of Ego and astral body from an organ.

Anthroposophy seeks to develop in the future an Initiation-medicine which is also an Initiation-science.


Influences of the Sun and Moon.

The influences of the Sun upon Earth, animal and man are evident everywhere. Moon influences today are relegated to the sphere of superstition. Anecdote of the two professors.

Between birth and death man is today almost entirely subject to the influences of the Earth, Sun and Moon.

Between going to sleep and waking we experience the Sun influences within the astral body and Ego. In waking life we experience the Sun externally. During sleep we are related to the Sun through our inner life; the Moon influences work from without upon the physical and etheric bodies. In the waking state this is reversed. We bear the Moon influences within us, in the astral body and Ego, and we experience the Sun influences from without. These factors determine our everyday consciousness between birth and death.

When we succeed in transforming the dream consciousness into an instrument for the apprehension of reality we are aware of accumulated Moon forces in waking life. We feel the presence of a “second man” within us, in whom the forces of the Moon sphere dwell. When, during sleep, the Moon forces begin to be inwardly active in the “second man,” this “second man” begins to wander about in the light of the Moon and takes the etheric and physical bodies with him. Here is the origin of somnambulism.

The first step in Initiate consciousness transforms this activity of the second man into an inner experience. It must be kept under control and linked to the normal consciousness of the physical body.

By inner effort we are able to bring the night consciousness into the day consciousness and the spiritual begins to awaken. If this is achieved in full consciousness we are then on the right path. Without full consciousness we take the false path which leads to mediumism. The phenomena and events are not the essential, but the way we respond to them.

After fully experiencing the Moon consciousness within us, Mercury (the next stage of consciousness) arises. Then we can control the “second man” within us. The Messenger of the Gods—Mercury—guides us along the true path that leads into the spiritual world.

The Mystic fails to understand psychic experiences. The Initiate understands and differentiates. Experiments with mediums lead us astray. A living understanding of the Moon sphere is the first step to Initiation.

In the Mercury sphere visions are transformed into real Imaginations. When our inner life is further strengthened we reach the Venus sphere and the visions vanish. We follow the path from Earth to Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun. We experience the Sun sphere and behold the Sun spiritually.

The failure of psychical research to reach the truth.

The perception of the human organization in Imaginations. We must transform our medical and scientific knowledge into an inner spiritual perception of the human organs.

The Saturn sphere “wooed” into the scientific consciousness. The forces of Saturn work in every organ. Through the search for Saturn, for the inner spiritual structure of each organ, we reach the Jupiter sphere. We now realize that every organ is the counterpart of a spiritual being.

The whole man is seen as Cosmic Man.

Madame Blavatsky was directed to sources of knowledge by a Mercury Being.


Two paths of investigation.

Normal consciousness is restricted to the limited field of sense-observation. The spiritual world cannot be investigated by the methods of natural science.

Three states of consciousness are common to the Ego today: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. In the inner life of the Ego they correspond to thinking, feeling and willing. The life of will is hidden from ordinary consciousness, but through Initiation can be raised into consciousness.

Today scientific knowledge is related to the phenomenal world, faith to the spiritual world. Through modern scientific investigation we have come to accept nothing that cannot be demonstrated on a factual basis. The proofs of science do not rest upon knowledge, but upon faith. The bridges between knowledge of the phenomenal world and knowledge of the spiritual world have been destroyed. The findings of Spiritual Science can be accepted by reason, but not investigated by reason. When spiritual investigations are accepted in the form of ideas they form a basis for spiritual knowledge.

The significance of Karma. Karma cannot be studied in a laboratory. The right side of everyday consciousness leads to an understanding of Initiation. It is possible to understand the communications of Initiation-science without personal experience of the spiritual world.

Birth and Death and Evil.

The physical and etheric bodies increase in vitality up to the age of thirty-five, whilst the astral body and Ego decline. After thirty-five the process is reversed. Birth and death are interrelated.

Spiritual knowledge of the human organs brings realization of their cosmic significance. The “whole” man dies at death; the separate organs do not die, but each takes its allotted place in the Cosmos. In spiritual vision we recognize them again in the form of the Cosmic Man. In the vision of the Cosmic Man we become aware of man's successive incarnations.

The Moon Initiates were unable to identify the entities they perceived.

In man's organs lies the potentiality for evil. We come to know from what spheres obsession with evil originates. We also discover that out of this understanding of the Cosmic Man, a Christology is born.

The revelation of the Divine through Art. Art preserves a dim memory of the spiritual world. The plastic Arts are now assuming more and more a musical form. The Art of the near future will be music. The coming of the living Christ will have to be portrayed through music. In Parsifal the “wooing” of the Christ Impulse into the phenomenal world was expressed through symbols only (e.g. the Dove and the Communion). Wagner failed to portray the essence of the Christ Impulse in the Cosmos and the Earth. Music is able to portray the Christ Impulse in tones that are inwardly permeated with soul and spirit. If music is inspired by Spiritual Science it will find means to achieve this. The Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ can be evoked in music. Bruckner was unable to achieve this because of his limitations.

The expression of the Christ Impulse in its true form through music will ultimately be expressed through the inspiration of Anthroposophy.