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Title: An Outline of Occult Science
Author: Steiner, Rudolf, 1861-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Outline of Occult Science" ***

                       An Outline of Occult Science


                          Rudolf Steiner, Ph.D.

              Authorized Translation from the Fourth Edition

                             (Newly Revised)

                           AnthropoSophic Press

                                 New York



Preface to the Fourth Edition.
Author’s Remarks To First Edition
Chapter I. The Character of Occult Science
Chapter II. The Nature of Man
Chapter III. Sleep and Death
Chapter IV. The Evolution of the World and Man
Chapter V. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds
Chapter VI. The Present and Future Evolution of the World and of Humanity
Chapter VII. Details from the Domain of Occult Science Man’s Etheric Body


One who undertakes to represent certain results of scientific spiritual
research of the kind recorded in this book, must above all things be
prepared to find that this kind of investigation is at the present time
almost universally regarded as impossible. For things are related in the
following pages about which those who are today esteemed exact thinkers,
assert that they will probably remain altogether indeterminable by human
intelligence. One who knows and can respect the reasons which prompt many
a serious person to assert this impossibility, would fain make the attempt
again and again to show what misunderstandings are really at the bottom of
the belief that it is not given to human knowledge to penetrate into the
superphysical worlds.

For two things present themselves for consideration. First, no human being
will, on deeper reflection, be able in the long run to shut his eyes to
the fact that his most important questions as to the meaning and
significance of life must remain unanswered, if there be no access to
higher worlds. Theoretically we may delude ourselves concerning this fact
and so get away from it; the depths of our soul-life, however, will not
tolerate such self-delusion. The person who will not listen to what comes
from these depths of the soul will naturally reject any account of
supersensible worlds. There are however people—and their number is not
small—who find it impossible to remain deaf to the demands coming from the
depths of the soul. They must always be knocking at the gates which, in
the opinion of others, bar the way to what is “incomprehensible.”

Secondly, the statements of “exact thinkers” are on no account to be
despised. Where they have to be taken seriously, one who occupies himself
with them will thoroughly feel and appreciate this seriousness. The writer
of this book would not like to be taken for one who lightly disregards the
enormous thought-labour which has been expended in determining the limits
of the human intellect. This thought-labour cannot be put aside with a few
phrases about “academic wisdom” and the like. In many cases it has its
source in true striving after knowledge and in genuine discernment.
Indeed, even more than this must be admitted; reasons have been brought
forward to show that that knowledge which is to-day regarded as scientific
cannot penetrate into supersensible worlds, and these reasons _are in a
certain sense irrefutable_.

Now it may appear strange to many people that the writer of this book
admits this freely, and yet undertakes to make statements about
supersensible worlds. It seems indeed almost impossible that a person
should admit _in a certain sense_ the reasons why knowledge of
superphysical worlds is unattainable, and should yet speak about those

Yet it is possible to take this attitude, and at the same time to
understand that it impresses others as being inconsistent. It is not given
to every one to enter into the experiences we pass through when we
approach supersensible realms with the human intellect. Then it turns out
that intellectual proofs may certainly be irrefutable, and that
_notwithstanding this_, they need not be decisive with regard to reality.
Instead of all sorts of theoretical explanations, let us now try to make
this comprehensible by a comparison. That comparisons are not in
themselves proofs is readily admitted, but this does not prevent their
often making intelligible what has to be expressed.

Human understanding, as it works in everyday life and in ordinary science,
is actually so constituted that it cannot penetrate into superphysical
worlds. This may be proven beyond the possibility of denial. But this
proof can have no more value for a certain kind of soul-life than the
proof one would use in showing that man’s natural eye cannot, with its
visual faculty, penetrate to the smallest cells of a living being, or to
the constitution of far-off celestial bodies.

Just as the assertion is true and demonstrable that the ordinary power of
seeing does not penetrate as far as the cells, so also is the other
assertion which maintains that ordinary knowledge cannot penetrate into
supersensible worlds. And yet the proof that the ordinary power of vision
has to stop short of the cells in no way excludes the investigation of
cells. Why should the proof that the ordinary power of cognition has to
stop short of supersensible worlds, decide anything against the
possibility of investigating those worlds?

One can well sense the feeling which this comparison may evoke in many
people. One can even understand that he who doubts and holds the above
comparison against this labor of thought, does not even faintly sense the
whole seriousness of that mental effort. And yet the present writer is not
only fully convinced of that seriousness, but is of opinion that that work
of thought may be numbered among the noblest achievements of humanity. To
show that the human power of vision cannot perceive the cellular structure
without the help of instruments, would surely be a useless undertaking;
but in exact thinking, to become conscious of the nature of that thought
is a necessary work of the mind. It is only natural that one who devotes
himself to such work, should not notice that reality may refute him. The
preface to this book can be no place for entering into many “refutations”
of former editions, put forth by those who are entirely devoid of
appreciation of that for which it strives, or who direct their unfounded
attacks against the personality of the author; but it must, none the less,
be emphasized that belittling of serious scientific thought in this book
can only be imputed to the author by one who wishes to shut himself off
from the _spirit_ of what is expressed in it.

Man’s power of cognition may be augmented and made more powerful, just as
the eye’s power of vision may be augmented. Only the means for
strengthening the capacity of cognition are entirely of a spiritual
nature; they are inner processes, belonging purely to the soul. They
consist of what is described in this book as meditation and concentration
(contemplation). Ordinary soul-life is bound up with the bodily
instrument; the strengthened soul-life liberates itself from it. There are
schools of thought at the present time to which this assertion must appear
quite senseless, to which it must seem based only upon self-delusion.
Those who think in this way will find it easy, from their point of view,
to prove that “all soul-life” is bound up with the nervous system. One who
holds the standpoint from which this book has been written, can thoroughly
understand such proofs. He understands people who say that only
superficiality can assert that there may be some kind of soul-life
independent of the body, and who are quite convinced that in such
experiences of the soul there exists a connection with the life of the
nervous system, which the “dilettantism of occult science” merely fails to

Here certain quite comprehensible habits of thought are in such sharp
contradiction to what has been described in this book, that there is as
yet no prospect of coming to an understanding with many people. It is here
that we come to the point where the desire must arise that it should no
longer be a characteristic of our present day culture to at once decry as
fanciful or visionary a method of research which differs from its own. But
on the other hand it is also a fact at the present time that a number of
people can appreciate the supersensible method of research, as it is
presented in this book, people who understand that the meaning of life is
not revealed in general phrases about the soul, self, and so on, but can
only result from really entering into the facts of superphysical research.

Not from lack of modesty, but with a sense of joyful satisfaction, does
the author of this book feel profoundly the necessity for this fourth
edition after a comparatively short time. The author is not prompted to
this statement by lack of modesty, for he is entirely too conscious of how
little even this new edition approaches that “outline of a supersensuous
world concept” which it is meant to be. The whole book has once more been
revised for the new edition, much supplementary matter has been inserted
at important points, and elucidations have been attempted. But in numerous
passages the author has realized how poor the means of presentation
accessible to him prove to be in comparison with what superphysical
research discovers. Thus it was scarcely possible to do more than point
out the way in which to reach conceptions of the events described in this
book as the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions. An important aspect of this
subject has been briefly remodelled in this edition. But experiences in
relation to such things diverge so widely from all experiences in the
realm of the senses, that their presentation necessitates a continual
striving after expressions which may be, at least in some measure,
adequate. One who is willing to enter into the attempted presentation
which has here been made, will perhaps notice that in the case of many
things which cannot possibly be expressed by mere words, the endeavour has
been made to convey them by the _manner_ of the description. This manner
is, for instance, different in the account of the Saturn evolution from
that used for the Sun evolution, and so on.

Much complementary and additional matter has been inserted in this edition
in the part dealing with “Perception of the Higher Worlds.” The endeavour
has been made to represent in a graphic way the kind of inner
soul-processes by which the power of cognition liberates itself from the
limits which confine it in the world of sense and thereby becomes
qualified for experiencing the supersensible world. The attempt has been
made to show that these experiences, even though gained by entirely inner
ways and methods, still do not have a merely subjective significance for
the particular individual who gains them. The description attempts to show
that _within_ the soul stripped of its individuality and personal
peculiarities, an experience takes place which _every_ human being may
have in the same way, if he will only work at his development from out his
subjective experiences. It is only when “knowledge of supersensible
worlds” is thought of as bearing this character that it may be
differentiated from old experiences of merely subjective mysticism. Of
this mysticism it may be said that it is after all more or less a
subjective concern of the mystic. The scientific spiritual training of the
soul, however, as it is described here, strives for objective experiences,
the truth of which, although recognized in an entirely inner way, may yet,
for that very reason, be found to be universally valid. This again is a
point on which it is very difficult to come to an understanding concerning
many of the habits of thought of our time.

In conclusion, the author would like to observe that it would be well if
even the sympathetic reader of the book would take its statements exactly
as they stand. At the present time there is a very prevalent tendency to
give this or that spiritual movement an historical name, and to many it is
only such a name that seems to make it valuable. But, it may be asked,
what would the statements in this book gain by being designated
“Rosicrucian,” or anything else of the kind? What is of importance is that
in this book a glimpse into supersensible worlds is attempted with the
means which in our present period of evolution are possible and suitable
for the human soul; and that from this point of view the problems of human
destiny and human existence are considered beyond the limits of birth and
death. It is not a question of an endeavor which shall bear this or that
old name, but of a striving after truth.

On the other hand, expressions have also been used, with hostile
intention, for the conception of the universe presented in this book.
Leaving out of account that those which were intended to strike and
discredit the author most heavily are absurd and objectively untrue, these
expressions are stamped as unworthy by the fact that they disparage a
fully _independent_ search for truth; because the aggressors do not judge
it on its own merits, but try to impose on others, as a judgment of these
investigations, erroneous ideas about their dependence upon this or that
tradition,—ideas which they have invented, or adopted from others without
reason. However necessary these words are in face of the many attacks on
the author, it is yet repugnant to him in this place to enter further into
the matter.

_June, 1913._


In placing a book such as this in the hands of the public, the writer must
calmly anticipate every kind of criticism regarding his work which is
likely to arise in the present day. A reader, for instance, whose opinions
are based upon the results of scientific research, after noting certain
statements made here touching these things, may pronounce the following
judgment: “It is astounding that such statements should be possible in our
time. The most elementary conceptions of natural science are distorted in
such a manner as to denote positively inconceivable ignorance of even the
rudiments of science. The author uses such terms, for instance, as ‘heat’
in a way that would lead one to infer that he had let the entire wave of
modern thought on the subject of physics sweep past him unperceived. Any
one familiar with the mere elements of this science would show him that
not even the merest dilettante could have made these statements, and they
can only be dismissed as the outcome of rank ignorance.”

This and many a similar verdict might be pronounced, and we can picture
our reader, after the perusal of a page or two, laying the book
aside,—smiling or indignant, according to his temperament,—and reflecting
on the singular growths which a perverse tendency of thought may put forth
in our time. So thinking, he will lay this volume aside, with his
collection of similar freaks of the brain. What, however, would the author
say should such opinions come to his knowledge? Would he not, from his
point of view, also set the critic down as incapable of judgment or, at
least, as one who has not chosen to bring his good will to bear in forming
an intelligent opinion? To this the answer is most emphatically—No! In no
sense whatever does the author feel this, for he can easily conceive of
his critic as being not only a highly intelligent man, but also a trained
scientist, and one whose opinions are the result of conscientious thought.
The author of this book is able to enter into the feelings of such a
person and to understand the reasons which have led him to form these

Now, in order to comprehend what the author really means, it is necessary
to do here what generally seems to him to be out of place, but for which
there is urgent cause in the case of this book, namely, to introduce
certain personal data. Of course, nothing will be said in this connection
but what bears upon the author’s decision to write this book. What is said
in it could not be justified if it bore merely a personal character. A
book of this kind is bound to proffer views to which any person may
attain, and these views must be presented in such a way as to suggest no
shade of the personal element, that is, as far as such a thing is

It is therefore not in this sense that the personal note is sounded. It is
only intended to explain how it was possible for the author to understand
the above characterized opinions concerning his presentations, and yet was
able to write this book.

It is true there is one method which would have made the introduction of
the personal element unnecessary—this would have been to specify in detail
all those particulars which would show that the statements here made are
in agreement with the progress of modern science. This course would,
however, have necessitated the writing of many volumes, and as such a task
is at present out of the question, the writer feels it necessary to state
the personal reasons which he believes justify him in thinking such an
agreement thoroughly possible and satisfactory. Were he not in a position
to make the following explanations, he would most certainly never have
gone so far as to publish such statements as those referring to heat

Some thirty years ago the author had the opportunity of studying physics
in its various branches. At that time the central point of interest in the
sphere of heat phenomena was the promulgation of the so-called “Mechanical
Theory of Heat,” and it happened that this theory so particularly
engrossed his attention that the historical development of the various
interpretations associated with the names of Julius Robert Mayer,
Helmholtz, Joule, Clausius, and others, formed the subject of his
continuous study. During that period of concentrated work he laid those
foundations which have enabled him to follow all the actual advances since
made with regard to the theory of physical heat, without experiencing any
difficulty in penetrating into what science is achieving in this
department. Had he been obliged to confess himself unable to do this, the
writer would have had good reason for leaving unsaid and unwritten much
that has been brought forward in this book.

He has made it a matter of conscience, when writing or speaking on occult
science, to deal only with matters on which he could also report, in what
seemed an adequate manner, the views held by modern science. With this,
however, he does not wish in the least to give the impression that this is
always a necessary prerequisite. Any one may feel a call to communicate or
to publish whatever his judgment, his sense of truth, and his feelings may
prompt him to, even if he is ignorant of the attitude taken by
contemporary science in the matter. The writer wishes to indicate merely
that he holds to the pronouncements he has made. For instance, he would
never have written those few sentences on the human glandular system, nor
those regarding man’s nervous system, contained in this volume, were he
not in a position to discuss both subjects in the terms used by the modern
scientist, when speaking of the glandular and nervous systems from the
standpoint of science.

In spite of the fact that it may be said that he who speaks concerning
“heat,” as is done here, knows nothing of the elements of modern physics,
yet the author feels himself quite justified, because he believes that he
knows present day research along those lines, and because if it were
unknown to him, he would have left the subject alone. He knows that such
utterances may be ascribed to lack of modesty, but it is necessary to
declare his true motives, lest they should be confounded with others of a
very different nature, a result infinitely worse than a verdict of mere

He who reads this book as a philosopher, may well ask himself, “Has this
author been asleep to present day research in the field of the theory of
cognition? Had he never heard of the existence of a man called Kant?” this
philosopher might ask, “and did he not know that according to this man it
was simply inadmissible, from a philosophic point of view, to put forward
such statements?” and so on, while in conclusion he might remark that
stuff of so uncritical, childish, and unprofessional a nature should not
be tolerated among philosophers, and that any further investigation would
be waste of time. However, here again, for reasons already advanced and at
the risk of being again misinterpreted, the writer would fain introduce
certain personal experiences.

His studies of Kant date from his sixteenth year, and he really believes
he is now capable of criticizing quite objectively, from the Kantian point
of view, everything that has been put forward in this book. On this
account, too, he might have left this book unwritten were he not fully
aware of what moves a philosopher to pass the verdict of “childishness”
whenever the critical standard of the day is applied. Yet one may actually
know that in the Kantian sense the limits of possible knowledge are here
exceeded: one may know in what way Herbart (who never arrived at an
“arrangement of ideas”) would discover his “naive realism.” One may even
know the degree to which the modern pragmatism of James and Schiller and
others would find the bounds of “true presentments” transgressed—those
presentments which we are able to make our own, to vindicate, enforce, and
to verify.

We may know all these things and yet, for this very reason, feel justified
in holding the views here presented. The writer has dealt with the
tendencies of philosophic thought in his works: “The Theory of Cognition
of Goethe’s World-Concept”; “Truth and Science”; “Philosophy of Freedom”;
“Goethe’s World Concept” and “Views of the World and Life in the
Nineteenth Century.”

Many other criticisms might be suggested. Any one who had read some of the
writer’s earlier works: “Views of the World and Life in the Nineteenth
Century,” for instance, or a smaller work on _Haeckel and his Opponents_,
might think it incredible that one and the same man could have written
those books as well as the present work and also his already published
“Theosophy.” “How,” he might ask, “can a man throw himself into the breach
for Haeckel, and then, turn around and discredit every sound theory
concerning monism that is the outcome of Haeckel’s researches?” He might
understand the author of this book attacking Haeckel “with fire and
sword”; but it passes the limits of comprehension that, besides defending
him, he should actually have dedicated “Views of the World and Life in the
Nineteenth Century” to him. Haeckel, it might be thought, would have
emphatically declined the dedication had he known that the author was
shortly to produce such stuff as _An Outline of Occult Science_, with all
its unwieldy dualism.

The writer of this book is of the opinion that one may very well
understand Haeckel without being bound to consider everything else as
nonsense which does not flow directly from Haeckel’s own presentments and
premises. The author is further of the opinion that Haeckel cannot be
understood by attacking him with “fire and sword,” but by trying to grasp
what he has done for science. Least of all does he hold those opponents of
Haeckel to be in the right, against whom he has in his book, _Haeckel and
his Opponents_, sought to defend the great naturalist; for surely, the
fact of his having gone beyond Haeckel’s premises by placing the spiritual
conception of the world side by side with the merely natural one conceived
by Haeckel, need be no reason for assuming that he was of one mind with
the latter’s opponents. Any one taking the trouble to look at the matter
in the right light must see that the writer’s recent books are in perfect
accord with those of an earlier date.

But the author can also conceive of a critic who in general and offhand
looks upon the presentations of this book as the out-pourings of a fantasy
run wild or as dreamy thought-pictures. Yet all that can be said in this
respect is contained in the book itself, and it is explicitly shown that
sane and earnest thought not only can but _must_ be the touch-stone of all
the facts presented. Only one who submits what is here advanced to logical
and adequate examination, such as is applied to the facts of natural
science, will be in a position to decide for himself how much reason has
to say in the matter.

After saying this much about those who may at first be inclined to take
exception to this work, we may perhaps be permitted to address a few words
to those on whose sympathetic attention we can rely. These will find all
broad essentials contained in the first chapter, “Concerning the Nature of
Occult Science.” A word, however, must here be added. Although this book
deals with investigations carried beyond the confines of intellect limited
to the world of the senses, yet nothing has been asserted except what can
be grasped by any person possessed of unprejudiced reasoning powers backed
by a healthy sense of truth, and who is at the same time willing to turn
these gifts to the best account; and the writer emphatically wishes it to
be understood that he hopes to appeal to readers who will not be content
with merely accepting on “blind faith” the matters presented, but who will
take the trouble to test them by the light of their own understanding and
by the experiences of their own lives. Above all, he desires _cautious_
readers, who will allow themselves to be convinced only by what can be
logically justified. The writer is well aware that his work would be worth
nothing were its value to rest on blind belief; it is valuable only in the
degree to which it can be justified by unbiased reason. It is an easy
thing for “blind faith” to confound folly and superstition with truth, and
doubtless many, who have been content to accept the supersensible on mere
faith, will be inclined to think that this book makes too great demands
upon their powers of thought. It is not a question of merely making
certain communications, but rather of presenting them in a manner
consistent with a conscientious view of the corresponding plane of life;
for this is the plane upon which the loftiest matters are often handled
with unscrupulous charlatanism, and where knowledge and superstition come
into such close contact as to be liable to be confused one with the other.

Any one acquainted with supersensual research will, on reading this book,
be able to see that the author has sought to define the boundary line
sharply between what can be communicated now from the sphere of
supersensible cognition, and that which will be given out, at a later
time, or at least, in a different form.

_December, 1909._


At the present time the words “occult science” are apt to arouse the most
varied feelings. Upon some people they work like a magic charm, like the
announcement of something to which they feel attracted by the innermost
powers of their soul; to others there is in the words something repellent,
calling forth contempt, derision, or a compassionate smile. By many,
occult science is looked upon as a lofty goal of human effort, the crown
of all other knowledge and cognition; others, who are devoting themselves
with the greatest earnestness and noble love of truth to that which
appears to them true science, deem occult science mere idle dreaming and
fantasy, in the same category with what is called superstition. To some,
occult science is like a light without which life would be valueless; to
others, it represents a spiritual danger, calculated to lead astray
immature minds and weak souls, while between these two extremes is to be
found every possible intermediate shade of opinion.

Strange feelings are awakened in one who has attained a certain
impartiality of judgment in regard to occult science, its adherents and
its opponents, when one sees how people, undoubtedly possessed of a
genuine feeling for freedom in many matters, become intolerant when they
meet with this particular line of thought. And an unprejudiced observer
will scarcely fail in this case to admit that what attracts many adherents
of occult science—or occultism—is nothing but the fatal craving for what
is unknown and mysterious, or even vague. And he will also be ready to own
that there is much cogency in the reasons put forward against what is
fantastic and visionary by serious opponents of the cause in question. In
fact, one who studies occult science will do well not to lose sight of the
fact that the impulse toward the mysterious leads many people on a vain
chase after worthless and dangerous will-o’-the-wisps.

Even though the occult scientist keeps a watchful eye on all errors and
vagaries on the part of adherents of his views, and on all justifiable
antagonism, yet there are reasons which hold him back from the immediate
defence of his own efforts and aspirations. These reasons will become
apparent to any one entering more deeply into occult science. It would
therefore be superfluous to discuss them here. If they were cited before
the threshold of this science had been crossed, they would not suffice to
convince one who, held back by irresistible repugnance, refuses to cross
that threshold. But to one who effects an entry, the reasons will soon
manifest themselves, with unmistakable clearness from within.

This much, however, implies that the reasons in question point to a
certain attitude as the only right one for an occult scientist. He avoids,
as much as he possibly can, any kind of outer defence or conflict, and
lets the cause speak for itself. He simply puts forward occult science;
and in what it has to say about various matters, he shows how his
knowledge is related to other departments of life and science, what
antagonism it may encounter, and in what way reality stands witness to the
truth of his cognitions. He knows that an attempted vindication would,—not
merely on account of current defective thinking but by virtue of a certain
inner necessity,—lead into the domain of artful persuasion; and he desires
nothing else than to let occult science work its own way quite

The first point in occult science is by no means the advancing of
assertions or opinions which are to be proven, but the communication, in a
purely narrative form, of experiences which are to be met with in a world
other than the one that is to be seen with physical eyes and touched with
physical hands. And further, it is an important point that through this
science the methods are described by which man may verify for himself the
truth of such communications. For one who makes a serious study of genuine
occult science will soon find that thereby much becomes changed in the
conceptions and ideas which are formed—and rightly formed—in other spheres
of life. A wholly new conception necessarily arises also about what has
hitherto been called a “proof.” We come to see that in certain domains
such a word loses its usual meaning, and that there are other grounds for
insight and understanding than “proofs” of this kind.

All occult science is born from two thoughts, which may take root in any
human being. To the occult scientist these thoughts express facts which
may be experienced if the right methods for the purpose are used. But to
many people these same thoughts represent highly disputable assertions,
which may arouse fierce contention, even if they are not regarded as
something which may be “proven” impossible.

These two thoughts are, first, that behind the visible world there is
another, the world invisible, which is hidden from the senses and also
from thought that is fettered by these senses; and secondly, that it is
possible for man to penetrate into that unseen world by developing certain
faculties dormant within him.

Some will say that there is no such hidden world. The world perceived by
man through his senses is the only one. Its enigmas can be solved out of
itself. Even if man is still very far from being able to answer all the
questions of existence, the time will certainly come when sense-experience
and the science based upon it will be able to give the answers to all such

Others say that it cannot be asserted that there is no unseen world behind
the visible one, but that human powers of perception are not able to
penetrate into that world. Those powers have bounds which they cannot
pass. Faith, with its urgent cravings, may take refuge in such a world;
but true science, based on ascertained facts, can have nothing to do with

A third class looks upon it as a kind of presumption for man to attempt to
penetrate, by his own efforts of cognition, into a domain with regard to
which he should give up all claim to knowledge and be content with faith.
The adherents of this view feel it to be wrong for weak human beings to
wish to force their way into a world which should belong to religious

It is also alleged that a common knowledge of the facts of the sense-world
is possible for mankind, but that in regard to supersensible things it can
be merely a question of the individual’s personal opinion, and that in
these matters there can be no possibility of a certainty universally
recognized. And many other assertions are made on the subject.

The occult scientist has convinced himself that a consideration of the
visible world propounds enigmas to man which can never be solved out of
the facts of that world itself. Their solution in this way will never be
possible, however far advanced a knowledge of those facts may be. For
visible facts plainly point, through their own inner nature, to the
existence of a hidden world. One who does not see this closes his eyes to
the problems which obviously spring up everywhere out of the facts of the
sense-world. He refuses to recognize certain questions and problems, and
therefore thinks that all questions can be answered through facts within
reach of sense perception. The questions which he is willing to ask are
all capable of being answered by the facts which he is convinced will be
discovered in the course of time. Every genuine occultist admits this. But
why should one, when he asks no questions, expect answers on certain
subjects? The occult scientist says that to him such questioning is
natural, and must be regarded as a wholly justifiable expression of the
human soul. Science is surely not to be confined within limits which
prohibit impartial inquiry.

The opinion that there are bounds to human knowledge which it is
impossible to pass, compelling man to stop short of the invisible world,
is thus met by the occult scientist: he says that there can exist no doubt
concerning the impossibility of penetrating into the unseen world by means
of the kind of cognition here meant. One who considers it the only kind
can come to no other opinion than that man is not permitted to penetrate
into a possibly existing higher world. But the occult scientist goes on to
say that it is possible to develop a different sort of cognition, and that
this leads into the unseen world. If this kind of cognition is held to be
impossible, we arrive at a point of view from which any mention of an
invisible world appears as sheer nonsense. But to an unbiased judgment
there can be no basis for such an opinion as this, except that its
adherent is a stranger to that other kind of cognition. But how can a
person form an opinion about a subject of which he declares himself
ignorant? Occult science must in this case maintain the principle that
people should speak only of what they know, and should not make assertions
about anything of which they are ignorant. It can only recognize every
man’s right to communicate his own experiences, not every man’s right to
declare the impossibility of what he does not, or will not, know. The
occult scientist disputes no one’s right to ignore the invisible world;
but there can be no real reason why a person should declare himself an
authority, not only on what he may know, but also on things considered

To those who say that it is presumption to penetrate into unseen regions,
the occult scientist would merely point out that this _can_ be done, and
that it is sinning against the faculties with which man has been endowed
if he allows them to waste instead of developing and using them.

But he who thinks that views about the unseen world are necessarily wholly
dependent on personal opinion and feeling is denying the common essence of
all human beings. Even though it is true that every one must find light on
these things within himself, it is also a fact that all those, who go far
enough, arrive at the same, not at different conclusions regarding them.
Differences exist only as long as people will not approach the highest
truths by the well-tested path of occult science, but attempt ways of
their own choosing. Genuine occult science will certainly fully admit that
only one who has followed, or at any rate has begun to follow the path of
occult science, is in a position to recognize it as the right one. But all
those who follow that path will recognize its genuineness, and have always
done so.

The path to occult knowledge will be found, at the fitting moment, by
every human being who discerns in what is visible the presence of
something invisible, or who even but dimly surmises or divines it, and
who, from his consciousness that powers of cognition are capable of
development, is driven to the feeling that what is hidden may be unveiled
to him. One who is drawn to occult science by such experiences of the soul
will find opening up before him, not only the prospect of finding the
answers to certain questions which press upon him, but the further
prospect of overcoming everything which hampers and enfeebles his life.
And in a certain higher sense it implies a weakening of life, in fact a
death of the soul, when a person is compelled to turn away from, or to
deny, the unseen. Indeed, under certain circumstances despair is the
result of a man’s losing all hope of having the invisible revealed to him.
This death and despair, in their manifold forms, are at the same time
inner spiritual foes of occult science. They make their appearance when a
person’s inner force is dwindling away. In that case, if he is to possess
any vital force it must be supplied to him from without. He perceives the
things, beings, and events which approach his organs of sense, and
analyzes them with his intellect. They afford him pleasure and pain, and
impel him to the actions of which he is capable. For a while he may go on
in this way: but at length he must reach a point at which he inwardly
dies. For that which may thus be extracted for man from the outer world,
becomes exhausted. This is not a statement arising from the personal
experience of one individual, but something resulting from an impartial
survey of the whole of human life. That which secures life from exhaustion
lies in the unseen world, deep at the roots of things. If a person loses
the power of descending into those depths so that he cannot be perpetually
drawing fresh vitality from them, then in the end the outer world of
things also ceases to yield him anything of a vivifying nature.

It is by no means the case that only the individual and his personal weal
and woe are concerned. Through occult science man gains the conviction
that from a higher standpoint the weal and woe of the individual are
intimately bound up with the weal and woe of the whole world. This is a
means by which man comes to see that he is inflicting an injury on the
entire world and every being within it, if he does not develop his own
powers in the right way. If a man makes his life desolate by losing touch
with the unseen, he not only destroys in his inner self something, the
decay of which may eventually drive him to despair, but through his
weakness he constitutes a hindrance to the evolution of the whole world in
which he lives.

Now man may delude himself. He may yield to the belief that there is
nothing invisible, and that that which is manifest to his senses and
intellect contains everything which can possibly exist. But such an
illusion is only possible on the surface of consciousness and not in its
depths. Feeling and desire do not yield to this delusive belief. They will
be perpetually craving, in one way or another, for that which is
invisible. And if this is withheld, they drive man to doubt, to
uncertainty about life, or even to despair. Occult science, by making
manifest what is unseen, is calculated to overcome all hopelessness,
uncertainty, and despair,—everything, in short, which weakens life and
makes it unfit for its necessary service in the universe.

The beneficent effect of occult science is that it not only satisfies
thirst for knowledge but gives strength and stability to life. The source
whence the occult scientist draws his power for work and his confidence in
life is inexhaustible. Any one who has once had recourse to that fount
will always, on revisiting it, go forth with renewed vigour.

There are people who will not hear anything about occult science, because
they think they discern something unhealthy in what has just been said.
These people are quite right as regards the surface and outer aspect of
life. They do not desire that to be stunted, which life, in its so-called
reality, offers. They see weakness in man’s turning away from reality and
seeking his welfare in an unseen world which to them is synonymous with
what is chimerical and visionary. If as occult scientists we do not desire
to fall into morbid dreaming and weakness, we must admit that such
objections are partially justified. For they are founded upon sound
judgment, which leads to a half truth instead of a whole truth merely
because it does not penetrate to the roots of things, but remains on the
surface. If occult science were calculated to weaken life and estrange man
from true reality, such objections would certainly be strong enough to cut
the ground from under the feet of those who follow this spiritual line of
life. But even in regard to such opinions as these, occult science would
not be taking the right course in defending itself in the ordinary sense
of the word. Even in this case it can only speak by means of what it gives
to those who really penetrate into its meaning, that is, by the real force
and vitality which it bestows. It does not weaken life, but strengthens
it, because it equips man not only with the forces of the manifest world
but with those of the invisible world of which the manifest is the effect.
Thus it does not imply an impoverishment, but an enrichment, of life. The
true occult scientist does not stand aloof from the world, but is a lover
of reality, because he does not desire to enjoy the unseen in a remote
dream-world, but finds his happiness in bringing to the world ever fresh
supplies of force from the invisible sources from whence this very world
is derived, and from which it must be continually fructified.

Some people find many obstacles when they enter upon the path of occult
science. One of these is expressed in the fact, that a person, attempting
to take the first steps, is sometimes discouraged because at the outset he
is introduced to the details of the supersensible world, in order that he
may, with entire patience and devotion, become acquainted with them. A
series of communications is made to him concerning the invisible nature of
man, about certain definite occurrences in the kingdom of which death
opens the portals, and regarding the evolutions of man, the earth, and the
entire solar system. What he expected was to enter the supersensible world
easily, at a bound. Now he is heard to say: “Everything which I am told to
study is food for my mind, but leaves my soul cold. I am seeking the
deepening of my soul-life. I want to find myself within. I am seeking
something that will lift my soul into the sphere of the divine, leading it
to its true home; I do not want information about the human being and
world-processes.” People who talk in this way have no idea that by such
feelings they are barring the door to what they are really seeking. For it
is just when, and only when, with a free and open mind, in self-surrender
and patience, they assimilate what they call “merely” food for the
intellect, that they will find that for which their souls are athirst.
That road leads the soul to union with the divine, which brings to the
soul knowledge of the works of the divine. The uplifting of the heart is
the result of learning to know about the creations of the spirit.

On this account occult science must begin by imparting the information
which throws light on the realms of the spiritual world. So too, in this
book, we shall begin with what can be unveiled concerning unseen worlds
through the methods of occult research. That which is mortal in man, and
that which is immortal, will be described in their connection with the
world, of which he is a member.

Then will follow a description of the methods by which man is able to
develop those powers of cognition latent within him, which will lead him
into that world. As much will be said about the methods as is at present
possible in a work of this kind. It seems natural to think that these
methods should be dealt with first. For it seems as though the main point
would be to acquaint man with what may bring him, by means of his own
powers, to the desired view of the higher world. Many may say, “Of what
use is it for me that others tell me what they know about higher worlds? I
wish to see them for myself.”

The fact of the matter is that for really fruitful experience of the
mysteries of the unseen world, previous knowledge of certain facts
belonging to that world is absolutely necessary. Why this is so, will be
sufficiently brought out from what follows.

It is a mistake to think that the truths of occult science which are
imparted by those qualified to communicate them, before mention is made of
the means of penetrating into the spiritual world itself, can be
understood and grasped only by means of the higher vision which results
from developing certain powers latent in man. This is not the case. For
investigating and discovering the mysteries of a supersensible world, that
higher sight is essential. No one is able to discover the facts of the
unseen world without the clairvoyance which is synonymous with that higher
vision. When however, the facts have been discovered and imparted, every
one who applies to them the full range of his ordinary intellect and
unprejudiced powers of judgment, will be able to understand them and to
rise to a high degree of conviction concerning them. One who maintains
that the mysteries are incomprehensible to him, does not do so because he
is not yet clairvoyant, but because he has not yet succeeded in bringing
into activity those powers of cognition which may be possessed by every
one, even without clairvoyance.

A new method of putting forward these matters consists in so describing
them, after they have been clairvoyantly investigated, that they are quite
accessible to the faculty of judgment. If only people do not shut
themselves off by prejudice, there is no obstacle to arriving at a
conviction, even without higher vision. It is true that many will find
that the new method of presentment, as given in this book, is far from
corresponding to their customary ways of forming an opinion. But any
objection due to this will soon disappear if one takes the trouble to
follow out these customary methods to their final consequences.

When, by an extended application of ordinary thought, a certain number of
the higher mysteries have been assimilated and found intelligible by any
one, then the right moment has come for the methods of occult research to
be applied to his individual personality:—these will give him access to
the unseen world.

Nor will any genuine scientist be able to find contradiction, in spirit
and in truth, between his science, which is built upon the facts of the
sense-world, and the way in which occult science carries on its
researches. The scientist uses certain instruments and methods. He
constructs his instruments by working upon what “nature” gives him. Occult
science also uses an instrument, but in this case the instrument is man
himself. And that instrument too must first be prepared for that higher
research. The faculties and powers given to man by nature at the outset
without his co-operation, must be transformed into higher ones. In this
way man is able to make himself into an instrument for the investigation
of the unseen world.


With the consideration of man in the light of occult science, what this
signifies in general, immediately becomes evident. It rests upon the
recognition of something hidden behind that which is revealed to the outer
senses and to the intellect acquired through perception. These senses and
this intellect can apprehend only a part of all that which occult science
unveils as the total human entity, and this part is the _physical body_.
In order to throw light upon its conception of this physical body, occult
science at first directs attention to a phenomenon which confronts all
observers of life like a great riddle,—the phenomenon of death,—and in
connection with it, points to so-called inanimate nature, the mineral
kingdom. We are thus referred to facts, which it devolves on occult
science to explain, and to which an important part of this work must be
devoted. But to begin with, only a few points will be touched upon, by way
of orientation.

Within manifested nature the physical body, according to occult science,
is that part of man which is of the same nature as the mineral kingdom. On
the other hand, that which distinguishes man from minerals is considered
as not being part of the physical body. From the occult point of view,
what is of supreme importance is the fact that death separates the human
being from that which, during life, is of like nature with the mineral
world. Occult science points to the dead body as that part of man which is
to be found existing in the same way in the mineral kingdom. It lays
strong emphasis upon the fact that in this principle of the human being,
which it looks upon as the physical body, and which death reduces to a
corpse, the same materials and forces are at work as in the mineral realm;
but no less emphasis is laid upon the fact that at death disintegration of
the physical body sets in. Occult science therefore says: “It is true that
the same materials and forces are at work in the physical body as in the
mineral, but during life their activity is placed at the disposal of
something higher. They are left to themselves only when death occurs. Then
they act, as they must in conformity with their own nature, as decomposers
of the physical body.”

Thus a sharp distinction must be drawn between the manifested and the
hidden elements in man. For during life, that which is hidden from view
has to wage perpetual war on the materials and forces of the mineral
world. This indicates the point at which occult science steps in. It has
to characterize that which wages the war alluded to, as a principle which
is hidden from sense-observation. Clairvoyant sight alone can reveal its
workings. How man arrives at awareness of this hidden element, as plainly
as his ordinary eyes see the phenomena of sense, will be described in a
later part of this book. Results of clairvoyant observation will be given
now for the reason already pointed out in the preceding pages, that is,
that communications about the way in which the higher sight is obtained
can only be of value to the student when he has first become acquainted,
in the form of a narrative, with the results of clairvoyant research. For
in this sphere it is quite possible to understand things which one is not
yet able to observe. Indeed, the right path to higher vision starts with

Now, although the hidden something which wages war on the disintegration
of the physical body can be observed only by the higher sight, it is
plainly visible in its effects to the human faculty of judgment which is
limited to the manifested world; and these effects are expressed in the
form or shape in which mineral materials and forces are combined during
life. When death has intervened, the form disappears little by little, and
the physical body becomes part of the rest of the mineral world. But the
clairvoyant is able to observe this hidden something as an independent
member of the human organism, which during life prevents the physical
materials and forces from taking their natural course, which would lead to
the dissolution of the physical body. This independent principle is called
the etheric or vital body.

If misunderstandings are not to arise at the outset, two things must be
borne in mind in connection with this account of a second principle of
human nature. The word “etheric” is used here in a different sense from
that of modern physics, which designates as “ether” the medium by which
light is transmitted. In occult science the use of the word is limited to
the sense given above. It denotes that which is accessible to higher
sight, and can be known to physical observation only by its effects, that
is, by its power of giving a definite form or shape to the mineral
materials and forces present in the physical body. Again, the use of the
word “body” must not be misunderstood. It is necessary to use the words of
every day language in describing things on a higher plane of existence,
and these terms, when applied to sense-observation, express only what is
physical. The etheric body has, of course, nothing of a bodily nature in
the physical sense, however ethereal we might imagine such a body to be.
As soon as the occultist mentions this etheric or vital body, he reaches
the point at which he is bound to encounter the opposition of many
contemporary opinions. The development of the human mind has been such
that the mention of such a principle of human nature is necessarily looked
upon as unscientific. The materialistic way of thinking has arrived at the
conclusion that there is nothing to be seen in a living body but a
combination of physical substances and forces such as are also found in
the so-called inanimate body of the mineral, the only difference being
that they are more complicated in the living than in the lifeless body.
Yet it is not very long since other views were held, even by official

It is evident to any one who studies the works of many earnest men of
science, produced during the first half of the nineteenth century, that at
that time many a genuine investigator of nature was conscious of some
factor acting within the living body other than in the lifeless mineral.
It was termed “vital force.” It is true this vital force is not
represented as being what has been above characterized as the vital body,
but underlying the conception was a dim idea of the existence of such a
body. Vital force was generally regarded as something which in a living
body was united with physical matter and forces in the same way that the
force of a magnet unites itself with iron. Then came the time when vital
force was banished from the domain of science. Mere physical and chemical
causes were accounted all sufficient.

At the present moment, however, there is a reaction in this respect in
some scientific quarters. It is sometimes conceded that the hypothesis of
something of the nature of “vital force” is not pure nonsense. Yet even
the scientist who concedes this much is not willing to make common cause
with the occultist with regard to the vital body. As a rule, it serves no
useful purpose to enter upon a discussion of such views from the
standpoint of occult science. It should be much more the concern of the
occultist to recognize that the materialistic way of thinking is a
necessary concomitant phenomenon of the great advance of natural science
in our day. This advance is due to the vast improvements in the
instruments used in sense-observation. And it is in the very nature of man
to bring some of his faculties to a certain degree of perfection at the
expense of others. Exact sense-observation, which has been evolved to such
an important extent by natural science, was bound to leave in the
background the cultivation of those human faculties which lead into the
hidden worlds. But the time has come when this cultivation is once more
necessary; and recognition of the invisible will not be won by combating
opinions which are the logical outcome of a denial of its existence, but
rather by setting the invisible in the right light. Then it will be
recognized by those for whom the “time has come.”

It was necessary to say this much, in order that it may not be imagined
that occult science is ignorant of the standpoint of natural science when
mention is made of an “etheric body,” which, in many circles must
necessarily be considered as purely imaginary.

Thus the etheric body is the second principle of the human being. For the
clairvoyant, it possesses a higher degree of reality than the physical
body. A description of how it is seen by the clairvoyant can be given only
in later parts of this book, when the sense in which such descriptions are
to be taken will become manifest. For the present it will be enough to say
that the etheric body penetrates the physical body in all its parts, and
is to be regarded as a kind of architect of the latter. All the physical
organs are maintained in their form and shape by the currents and
movements of the etheric body. The physical heart is based upon an etheric
heart, the physical brain, upon an etheric brain, and the physical, with
this difference, that in the etheric body the parts flow into one another
in active motion, whereas in the physical body they are separated from
each other.

Man has this etheric body in common with all plants, just as he has the
physical body in common with minerals. Everything living has its etheric

The study of occult science proceeds upwards from the etheric body to
another principle of the human being. To aid in the formation of an idea
of this principle, it draws attention to the phenomenon of sleep, just as
in connection with the etheric body attention was drawn to death. All
human work, so far as the manifested world is concerned, is dependent upon
activity during waking life. But that activity is possible only as long as
man is able to recuperate his exhausted forces by sleep. Action and
thought disappear, pain and pleasure fade away during sleep, and on
re-awaking, man’s conscious powers ascend from the unconsciousness of
sleep as though from hidden mysterious sources of energy. It is the same
consciousness which sinks down into dim depths on falling asleep and
ascends from them again on re-awaking.

That which awakens life again out of this state of unconsciousness is,
according to occult science, the third principle of the human being. It is
called the astral body. Just as the physical body cannot keep its form by
means of the mineral substances and forces it contains, but must, in order
to be kept together, be interpenetrated by the etheric body, so is it
impossible for the forces of the etheric body to illuminate themselves
with the light of consciousness. An etheric body left to its own resources
would be in a permanent state of sleep.(1) An etheric body awake, is
illuminated by an astral body. This astral body seems to sense-observation
to disappear when man falls asleep; to clairvoyant observation it is still
present, with the difference that it appears separated from or drawn out
of the etheric body. Sense-observation has nothing to do with the astral
body itself, but only with its effects in the manifested world, and these
cease during sleep. In the same sense in which man possesses his physical
body in common with plants, he resembles animals as regards his astral

Plants are in a permanent state of sleep. One who does not judge
accurately in these matters may easily make the mistake of attributing to
plants the same kind of consciousness as that of animals and human beings
in the waking state; but this assumption can only be due to an inaccurate
conception of consciousness. In that case it is said that, if an external
stimulus is applied to a plant, it responds by certain movements, as would
an animal. The _sensitiveness_ of some plants is spoken of,—for example,
of those which contract their leaves when certain external things act upon
them. But the characteristic mark of consciousness is not that a being
reacts in a certain way to an impression, but that it experiences
something in its inner nature which adds a new element to mere reaction.
Otherwise we should be able to speak of the consciousness of a piece of
iron when it expands under the influence of heat. Consciousness is present
only when, through the effect of heat, the being feels pain or pleasure

The fourth principle of being which occult science attributes to man is
one which he does not share in common with the rest of the manifested
world. It is that which differentiates him from his fellow creatures and
makes him the crown of creation. Occult science helps in forming a
conception of this further principle of human nature by pointing out the
existence of an essential difference between the kinds of experience in
waking life. On the one hand, man is constantly subjected to experiences
which must of necessity come and go; on the other, he has experiences with
which this is not the case. This fact comes out with special force if
human experiences are compared with those of animals. An animal
experiences the influences of the outer world with great regularity; under
the influence of heat and cold it becomes conscious of pain or pleasure,
and during certain regularly recurring bodily processes it feels hunger
and thirst. The sum total of man’s life is not exhausted by such
experiences; he is able to develop desires and wishes which go beyond
these things. In the case of an animal it would always be possible, on
going far enough into the matter, to ascertain the cause—either within or
without its body—which impelled it to any given act or feeling. This is by
no means the case with man. He may engender wishes and desires for which
no adequate cause exists either inside or outside of his body. A
particular source must be found for everything in this domain; and
according to occult science this source is to be found in the human “I” or
“ego.” Therefore the ego will be spoken of as the fourth principle of the
human being.

Were the astral body left to its own resources, feelings of pleasure and
pain, and sensations of hunger and thirst, would take place within it, but
there would be lacking the consciousness of something lasting in all these
feelings. It is not the permanent as such, which is here designated the
“ego,” but rather that which experiences this permanent element. In this
domain, conceptions must be very exactly expressed if misunderstandings
are not to arise. With the becoming aware of something permanent, lasting,
within the changing inner experiences, begins the dawn of “ego

The sensation of hunger, for instance, cannot give a creature the feeling
of having an ego. Hunger sets in when the recurring causes make themselves
felt in the being concerned, which then devours its food just because
these recurring conditions are present. For the ego-consciousness to
arise, there must not only be these recurring conditions, urging the being
to take food, but there must have been pleasure derived from previous
satisfaction of hunger, and the consciousness of the pleasure must have
remained, so that not only the present experience of hunger but the past
experience of pleasure urges the being to take nourishment.

Just as the physical body falls into decay if the etheric body does not
keep it together, and as the etheric body sinks into unconsciousness if
not illuminated by the astral body, so the astral body would necessarily
allow the past to be lost in oblivion unless the ego rescued the past by
carrying it over into the present. What death is to the physical body and
sleep to the etheric, the power of forgetting is to the astral body. We
may put this in another way, and say that life is the special
characteristic of the etheric body, consciousness that of the astral body,
and memory that of the ego.

It is still easier to make the mistake of attributing memory(2) to an
animal than that of attributing consciousness to a plant. It is so natural
to think of memory when a dog recognizes its master, whom perhaps it has
not seen for some time; yet in reality the recognition is not due to
memory at all, but to something quite different. The dog feels a certain
attraction toward its master which proceeds from the personality of the
latter. This gives the dog a sense of pleasure whenever its master is
present, and every time this happens it is a cause of the repetition of
the pleasure. But memory only exists in a being when he not only feels his
present experiences, but retains those of the past. A person might admit
this, and yet fall into the error of thinking the dog has memory. For it
might be said that the dog pines when its master leaves it, and therefore
it retains a remembrance of him. This too is an inaccurate opinion. Living
with its master has made his presence a condition of well-being to the
dog, and it feels his absence much in the same way in which it feels
hunger. One who does not make these distinctions will not arrive at a
clear understanding of the true conditions of life.

Memory and forgetfulness have for the ego much the same significance that
waking and sleeping have for the astral body. Just as sleep banishes into
nothingness the cares and troubles of the day, so does forgetfulness draw
a veil over the sad experiences of life and efface part of the past. And
just as sleep is necessary for the recuperation of the exhausted vital
forces, so must a man blot out from his memory certain portions of his
past life if he is to face his new experiences freely and without
prejudice. It is out of this very forgetfulness that strength arises for
the perception of new facts. Let us take the case of learning to write.
All the details which a child has to go through in this process are
forgotten. What remains is the ability to write. How would a person ever
be able to write if each time he took up his pen all his experiences in
learning to write rose up before his mind?

Now there are many different degrees of memory. Its simplest form is
manifest when a person perceives an object and, after turning away from
it, retains its image in his mind. He formed the image while looking at
the object, A process was then carried out between his astral body and his
ego. The astral body lifted into consciousness the outward impression of
the object, but knowledge of the object would last only as long as the
thing itself was present, unless the ego absorbed the knowledge into
itself and made it its own.

It is at this point that occult science draws the dividing line between
what belongs to the body and what belongs to the soul. It speaks of the
astral body as long as it is a question of the gaining of knowledge from
an object which is present. But what gives knowledge duration is known as
soul. From this it can at once be seen how close is the connection in man
between the astral body and that part of the soul which gives a lasting
quality to knowledge. The two are, to a certain extent, united into one
principle of human nature. Consequently, this unity is often denoted the
astral body. When exact terms are desired, the astral body is called the
_soul-body_, and the soul, in so far as it is united with the latter, is
called the _sentient soul_.

The ego rises to a higher stage of its being when it centres its activity
on what it has gained for itself out of its knowledge of objective things.
It is by means of this activity that the ego detaches itself more and more
from the objects of perception, in order to work within that which is its
own possession. The part of the soul on which this work devolves is called
the rational- or intellectual-soul.(3) It is the peculiarity of the
sentient and intellectual souls that they work with that which they
receive through sense-impressions of external objects of which they retain
the memory. The soul is then wholly surrendered to something which is
really outside it. Even what it has made its own through memory, it has
actually received from without. But it is able to go beyond all this, and
occult science can most easily give an idea of this by drawing attention
to a simple fact, which, however, is of the greatest importance. It is,
that in the whole range of speech there is but one name which is
distinguished by its very nature from all other names. This is the name
“I.” Every other name can be applied by any one to the thing or being to
which it belongs. The word “I,” as the designation of a being, has a
meaning only when given to that being by himself. Never can any outside
voice call us by the name of “I.” We can apply it only to ourselves. I am
only an “I” to myself; to every one else I am a “you,” and every one else
is a “you” to me. This fact is the outward expression of a deeply
significant truth. The real essence of the ego is independent of
everything outside of it, and it is on this account that its name cannot
be applied to it by any one else. This is the reason why those religions
confessions which have consciously maintained their connections with
occult science, speak the word “I” as the “unutterable name of God.” For
the fact above mentioned is exactly what is referred to when this
expression is used. Nothing outward has access to that part of the human
soul of which we are now speaking. It is the “hidden sanctuary” of the
soul. Only a being of like nature with the soul can win entrance there.
“The divinity dwelling in man speaks when the soul recognizes itself as an
ego.” Just as the sentient and intellectual souls live in the outer world,
so a third soul-principle is immersed in the divine when the soul becomes
conscious of its own nature.

In this connection a misunderstanding may easily arise; it may seem as
though occult science interpreted the ego to be one with God. But it by no
means says that the ego is God, only that it is of the same nature and
essence as God. Does any one declare the drop of water taken from the
ocean to be the ocean, when he asserts that the drop and the ocean are the
same in essence or substance? If a comparison is needed, we may say, “The
ego is related to God as the drop of water is to the ocean.” Man is able
to find a divine element within himself, because his original essence is
derived directly from the Divine. Thus man, through the third principle of
his soul, attains an inner knowledge of himself, just as through his
astral body he gains knowledge of the outer world. For this reason occult
science calls the third soul-principle _the consciousness-soul_, and it
holds that the soul-part of man consists of three principles, the
_sentient-_, _intellectual-_, and _consciousness-souls_, just as the
bodily part has three principles, the _physical_, _etheric_, and _astral

The real nature of the ego is first revealed in the consciousness-soul.
Through feeling and reason the soul loses itself in other things; but as
the consciousness-soul it lays hold of its own essence. Therefore this ego
can only be perceived through the consciousness-soul by a certain inner
activity. The images of external objects are formed as those objects come
and go, and the images go on working in the intellect by virtue of their
own force. But if the ego is to perceive itself, it cannot merely
_surrender_ itself; it must first, by inner activity, draw up its own
being out of its depths, in order to become conscious of it. A new
activity of the ego begins with this self cognition,—with
self-recollection. Owing to this activity, the perception of the ego in
the consciousness-soul possesses an entirely different meaning for man
from that conveyed by the observation of all that reaches him through the
three bodily principles and the two other soul-principles. The power which
reveals the ego in the consciousness-soul is in fact the same power which
manifests everywhere else in the world; only in the body and the lower
soul-principles it does not come forth directly, but is manifested little
by little in its effects. The lowest manifestation is through the physical
body, thence a gradual ascent is made to that which fills the intellectual
soul. Indeed, we may say that with each ascending step one of the veils
falls away in which the hidden centre is wrapped. In that which fills the
consciousness-soul, this hidden centre emerges unveiled into the temple of
the soul. Yet it shows itself just here to be but a drop from the ocean of
the all-pervading Primordial Essence; and it is here that man first has to
grasp it,—this Primordial Essence. He must recognize it in himself before
he is able to find it in its manifestations.

That which penetrates into the consciousness-soul like a drop from the
ocean is called by occult science _Spirit_. In this way is the
consciousness-soul united with the spirit, which is the hidden principle
in all manifested things. If man wishes to lay hold of the spirit in all
manifestation, he must do it in the same way in which he lays hold of the
ego in the consciousness-soul. He must extend to the visible world the
activity which has led him to the perception of his ego. By this means he
evolves to yet higher planes of his being. He adds something new to the
principles of his body and soul. The first thing that happens is that he
himself conquers what lies hidden in his lower soul-principles, and this
is effected through the work which the ego carries on within the soul. How
man is engaged in this work becomes evident if we compare a high-minded
idealist with a person who is still given up to low desires and so-called
sensual pleasures. The latter becomes transmuted into the former if he
withdraws from certain lower tendencies and turns to higher ones. He thus
works through his ego upon his soul thereby ennobling and spiritualizing
it. The ego has become the master of that man’s soul-life. This may be
carried so far that no desire or wish can take root in the soul unless the
ego permits its entrance. In this way the whole soul becomes a
manifestation of the ego, which previously only the consciousness-soul had
been. All civilized life and all spiritual effort really consist in the
one work, which has for its object to make the ego the master. Every one
now living is engaged in this work whether he wishes it or not, and
whether or not he is conscious of the fact.

Again, by this work human nature is drawn upward to higher stages of
being. Man develops new principles of his being. These lie hidden from him
behind what is manifest. If man is able by working upon his soul, to make
his ego master of it, so that the latter brings into manifestation what is
hidden, the work may extend yet farther and include the astral body. In
that case the ego takes possession of the astral body by uniting itself
with the hidden wisdom of this astral principle. In occult science the
astral body which is thus conquered and transformed by the ego is called
the _Spirit-Self_. (This is the same as what is known as “_Manas_” in
theosophical literature, a term borrowed from the wisdom of the East.) In
the Spirit-Self a higher principle is added to human nature, one which is
present as though in the germ, and which in the course of the work of the
human being on itself comes forth more and more.

Man conquers his astral body by pushing through to the hidden forces lying
behind it; a similar thing happens, at a later stage of development, to
the etheric body: but the work on the latter is more arduous, for what is
hidden in the etheric body is enveloped in two veils, but what is hidden
in the astral body in only one.(4) Occult science gives an idea of the
difference in the work on the two bodies by pointing out certain changes
which may take place in man in the course of his development. Let us at
first think of the way in which certain soul-qualities of man develop when
the ego works upon the soul; how pleasures and desires, joys and sorrows,
may change. We have only to look back to our childhood. What gave us
pleasure then, what caused us pain? What have we learned in addition to
what we knew as children? All this is but an expression of the way in
which the ego has gained the mastery over the astral body, for it is this
principle which is the vehicle of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow.
Compared with these things, how little in the course of time do certain
other human qualities change, for example, the temperament, the deeper
peculiarities of the character, and like qualities. A passionate child
will often retain certain tendencies to sudden anger during its
development in later life.

This is such a striking fact that there are thinkers who entirely deny the
possibility of changing the fundamental character. They assume that it is
something permanent throughout life, and that it is merely a question of
its being manifested in one way or another. But such an opinion is due to
defective observation. To one who is capable of seeing such things, it is
evident that even the character and temperament of a person may be
transformed under the influence of his ego. It is true that this change is
slow in comparison with the change in the qualities before mentioned. We
may compare the relation to each other of the rates of change in the two
bodies to the movements of the hour-hand and minute-hand of a clock. Now
the forces which bring about a change of character or temperament belong
to the hidden forces of the etheric body. They are of the same nature as
the forces which govern the kingdom of life,—the same, therefore, as the
forces of growth, nutrition, and generation. Further explanations in this
work will throw the right light on these things.

Thus it is not when man simply gives himself up to pleasure and pain, joy
and sorrow, that the ego is working on the astral body, but when the
peculiarities of these qualities of the soul are changed; and the work is
extended in the same way to the etheric body, when the ego applies its
energies to changing the character or temperament. This change, too, is
one in which every person living is engaged, whether consciously or not.
The most powerful incitement to this kind of change in ordinary life is
that given by religion. If the ego allows the impulses which flow from
religion to work upon it again and again, they become a power within it
which extends to the etheric body and changes it as lesser impulses in
life effect the transformation of the astral body. These lesser impulses,
which come to man through study, reflection, the ennobling of feeling, and
so on, are subject to the manifold changes of existence; but religious
feelings impress a certain stamp of uniformity upon all thinking, feeling,
and willing. They diffuse an equal and single light over the whole life of
the soul.

Man thinks and feels one thing to-day, another to-morrow, the causes of
which are of many different kinds; but one who, consistently holding to
his religious convictions, has a glimpse of something which persists
through all changes, will relate his thoughts and feelings of to-day, as
well as his experiences of to-morrow, to that fundamental feeling he
possesses. Thus religious belief has the power of permeating the whole of
the soul-life. Its influences increase in strength as time goes on because
they are constantly repeated. Hence they acquire the power of working upon
the etheric body.

In a similar way the influences of true art work upon man. If,—going
beyond the outer form, colour and tone of a work of art,—he penetrates to
its spiritual foundations with his imagination and feeling, then the
impulses thus received by the ego actually reach the etheric body. When
this thought is followed out to its logical conclusion, the immense
significance of art in all human evolution may be estimated. Only a few
instances are pointed out here of what induces the ego to work upon the
etheric body. There are many similar influences in human life which are
not so apparent at the first glance. But these instances are enough to
show that there is yet another principle of man’s nature hidden within
him, which the ego is making more and more manifest. Occult science
denotes this second principle of the spirit the _Life-Spirit_. (It is the
same which in current theosophical literature is called Budhi, a term
borrowed from Eastern wisdom.) The expression “Life-Spirit” is
appropriate, because the same forces are at work within it as are active
in the vital body, with the difference that when they are manifesting in
the latter the ego is not active. When, however, these powers express
themselves as the Life-Spirit, they are interpenetrated by the ego.

Man’s intellectual development, the purification and ennobling of his
feelings and of the manifestations of his will, are the measure of the
degree in which he has transformed the astral body into the Spirit-Self.
His religious experiences, as well as many others, are stamped upon the
etheric body, making it into the Life-Spirit. In the ordinary course of
life this happens more or less unconsciously; so-called initiation, on the
contrary, consists in man’s being directed by occult science to the means
through which he may quite consciously take in hand this work on the
Spirit-Self and Life-Spirit. These means will be dealt with in later parts
of this book. In the meantime it is important to show that, besides the
soul and the body, the spirit also is working within man. It will be seen
later how this spirit belongs to the eternal part of man, as contrasted
with the perishable body.

But the work of the ego on the astral and etheric bodies does not exhaust
its activity, which is also extended to the physical body. A slight effect
of the influence of the ego on the physical body may be seen when certain
experiences cause a person to blush or turn pale. In this case the ego is
actually the occasion of a process in the physical body. Now if through
the activity of the ego in man, changes occur influencing the physical
body, the ego is really united with the hidden forces of the physical
body, that is, with the same forces which bring about its physical
processes. Occult science says that during such activity the ego is
working on the physical body. This expression must not be misunderstood.
It must on no account be supposed that this work is of a grossly material
nature. What appears as gross material in the physical body is merely the
manifested part of it; behind this are the hidden forces of its being,
which are of a spiritual nature. When the ego puts forth its energies in
the manner described, it unites itself, not with the outer material
manifestation of the physical body, but with the invisible forces which
bring that body into being and afterwards cause it to decay. This work of
the ego on the physical body can only very partially become clear to man’s
consciousness in ordinary life. It can become fully clear only when, under
the influence of occult science, man consciously takes the work into his
own hands. Then he becomes aware that there is a third spiritual principle
within him. It is that which occult science calls the _Spirit-Man_, as
contrasted with physical man. (In theosophical literature this
“Spirit-Man” is known as Atma.)

Again, with regard to the Spirit-Man, it is easy to make a mistake. In the
physical body we see man’s lowest principle, and on this account find it
hard to realize that the work on that body should be accomplished by the
highest principle of the human entity. But just because the spirit active
within the physical body is hidden under three veils, the highest kind of
human effort is needed in order to make the ego one with that which is the
hidden spiritual energy of the body.

Occult science, therefore, represents man as a being composed of many
principles. Those of a bodily nature are:

      the physical body,
      the etheric or vital body,
      the astral body.

The soul-principles are:

      the sentient-soul,
      the intellectual- or rational-soul,
      the consciousness-soul.

It is in the soul that the ego diffuses its light. Of a spiritual nature

      the Spirit-Self,
      the Life-Spirit,
      the Spirit-Man.

It follows from what was said above that the sentient-soul and the astral
body are closely united and in a certain sense are one. Similarly, the
consciousness-soul and the Spirit-Self form a whole, for in the
consciousness-soul the spirit shines forth, and thence irradiates with its
light the other principles of the human being. Hence occult science also
speaks of man’s organization as follows. The intellectual-soul is simply
called the ego, because it partakes of the nature of the ego, and in a
certain sense is the ego, not yet conscious of its spiritual nature. We
thus have seven divisions of man:

      (1) physical body;
      (2) etheric or vital body;
      (3) astral body;
      (4) Ego;
      (5) Spirit-Self;
      (6) Life-Spirit;
      (7) Spirit-Man.

Even one accustomed to materialistic habits of thought would not find in
this sevenfold organization of man the “fanciful magic” often attributed
to the number seven, if one would only keep strictly to the meaning of the
above explanations without himself injecting arbitrarily the idea of
something magical into the matter. Occult science speaks of these seven
principles of man in exactly the same way, only from the standpoint of a
higher form of observation of the world, as allusion is commonly made to
the seven colours that make up white light, or to the seven notes of the
scale (the octave being regarded as a repetition of the keynote). As light
appears in seven colours, and sound in seven tones, so is the unity of
man’s nature manifested in the seven principles described. No more
superstition attaches to the number seven in the case of occult science
than when associated with the spectrum or with the scale.

On one occasion when these facts were put forward verbally, the objection
was made that the statement about the number seven does not apply to
colours, since there are others beyond the red and violet rays, invisible
to the eye. But even in this respect the comparison with colours holds
good, for, in fact, the human being expands beyond the physical body on
the one side, and beyond the Spirit-Man on the other; only to the methods
of spiritual observation of which occult science here speaks, are these
extensions of the human being “spiritually invisible,” just as the colours
beyond red and violet are physically invisible. This explanation becomes
necessary, because the opinion so easily arises that occult science does
not seriously apply itself to scientific thinking, but treats such matters
unscientifically. However, one who carefully considers the meaning of the
statements made by occult science will find that in reality it is never at
variance with genuine science; neither when it brings forward the facts of
natural science as illustrations, nor when its statements are directly
connected with natural research.


The nature of waking consciousness cannot be fathomed without observing
that condition which man experiences during sleep, and the problem of life
cannot be approached without studying death. Any one failing to perceive
the importance of occult science may distrust the manner in which it
studies sleep and death. Occult science is, however, capable of
appreciating the motives from which such distrust arises. For there is
nothing incomprehensible in the assertion that man exists for an active,
purposeful life, that his acts depend on his devotion thereto, and that
absorption in such conditions as sleep and death can result only from a
taste for idle dreaming, and can lead to nothing else than vain

The refusal to accept anything of so fantastic a nature may readily be
regarded as the expression of a sound mind, while indulgence in such “idle
dreaming” is accounted morbid, and a pursuit fit only for people in whom
the joy and ardour of life are lacking, and who are incapable of “real
work.” It would be wrong to set this assertion aside at once as an
injustice, for it contains a certain grain of truth. It is one quarter
truth, and must be completed by the remaining three quarters belonging to
it. Now if we dispute the one quarter which is right, with one who
recognizes that one quarter quite distinctly but who does not dream of the
other three quarters, we only rouse his suspicions. For it must be indeed
granted absolutely that the study of that which lies hidden in sleep and
death is morbid if it leads to weakness or to estrangement from real life.
No less must we admit that much of that which has always called itself
occult science in the world, and which is even now practised under that
name, bears the impression of what is unhealthy and hostile to life; but
this certainly does not spring from _genuine occult science_.

The real fact of the matter is this, that just as a man cannot always be
awake, so neither is he sufficiently equipped for the actual conditions of
life, in its entire range, without that which occult science has to offer
him. Life continues during sleep, and the forces which work and labour
during the waking state draw their strength and refreshment from that
which sleep gives them. It is thus with the things under our observation
in the manifested world. The boundaries of the world are wider than the
field of this observation; and what man recognizes in the visible must be
supplemented and fertilized by what he is able to know of the invisible
world. A man who did not continually renew his exhausted forces by sleep,
would bring his life to destruction; and in the same way a view of the
world which is not fertilized by a knowledge of the unseen, must lead to a
feeling of desolation.

It is similarly so with regard to death. Living creatures fall a prey to
death in order that new life may arise. It is occult science which throws
light on Goethe’s beautiful phrase: “Nature invented Death in order to
have much Life.” Just as in the ordinary sense there could be no life
without death, so can there be no real knowledge of the visible world
without insight into the invisible. All discernment of the visible must
plunge again and again into the invisible in order to develop. Thus it is
evident that occult science alone makes the life of revealed knowledge
possible. When it emerges in its true form it never enfeebles life, but
strengthens it and ever renews its freshness and health, when, left to its
own resources, it has become weak and diseased.

When a man sinks into sleep the connection between his principles changes,
as described earlier in this work. The part of the sleeping man which lies
upon his couch comprises the physical and etheric bodies, but not the
astral body and not the ego. It is because the etheric body remains bound
to the physical body in sleep that the life-activities continue. For the
moment the physical body is left to itself, it must of necessity fall into
decay. The things that are extinguished in sleep are ideas, pain,
pleasure, joy, grief, the ability to express conscious will, and similar
facts of existence. But the astral body is the vehicle of all these
things. That the astral body, with all its joy and sorrow, its realm of
thought and will, is annihilated in sleep is an opinion that cannot be
entertained by an unbiased judgment; it exists still, but in another
condition. In order that the human ego and the astral body may not only be
endowed with pleasure and pain and all the other things we have named, but
also have a conscious perception of them, it is necessary that the astral
body should be united with the physical and etheric bodies. This is the
case during waking life, but not in sleep. The astral body has withdrawn
itself from the other bodies. It has adopted another kind of existence
than that which it possesses while united with the physical and etheric
bodies. Now it is the task of occult science to study this other kind of
existence in the astral body. During sleep, the astral body withdraws from
the possibility of external observation and occult science must trace it
in its hidden life, until it again takes possession of its physical and
etheric bodies on waking.

As in all cases when knowledge of the hidden things and events of life
have to be dealt with, clairvoyant observation is necessary for the
discovery of the real facts of the sleep state in its true nature, but if
that which may be discovered by this means has once been made clear, it is
comprehensible to really unprejudiced thought without further
demonstration. For events in the unseen world show themselves by their
effects in the manifested world. If what is revealed by clairvoyant vision
is an explanation of visible events, such a confirmation by life itself is
the proof which may rightly be demanded. Even one who will not use the
means to be given later for the attainment of clairvoyant vision, may have
the following experience: he may, in the first place, take the statements
of the clairvoyant for granted, and then apply them to the material events
within his experience. He will then find that life thereby becomes clear
and comprehensible; and the more exact and minute his observations of
ordinary life, the more readily will he come to this conclusion.

Even though the astral body during sleep passes through no experiences,
though it is not conscious of pleasure, pain, and the like, it does not
remain inactive. On the contrary, it is a fact that active work is its
function in the sleep state. For it is the astral body which strengthens
and recuperates man’s forces, exhausted during waking life. As long as the
astral body is united with the physical and etheric bodies it is related
to the outer world through these two bodies. They convey to it perceptions
and representations. Through the impressions which they receive from their
surroundings, it experiences pleasure and pain. Now the physical body can
be preserved in the form and shape suitable to the individual only by
means of the human etheric body. But this human form can be preserved only
by an etheric body which on its part receives corresponding forces from
the astral body. The etheric body is the builder, the architect, of the
physical body. It can, however, construct in the true sense only when it
receives from the astral body the impulse as to the manner in which it
must build. In this latter are contained the models, according to which
the etheric body gives the physical body its form. During our waking hours
these models for the physical body are not present in the astral body, or,
at least, only to a certain extent. For in waking life the soul replaces
these models with its own images. When a person directs his senses upon
his environment he thus creates in his ideas pictures which are copies of
the world around him. In fact these copies at first disturb the prototypes
which give the etheric body the impulse to preserve the physical body.
Such disturbance could not be present if a man, by virtue of his own
activity, could convey to his astral body those pictures which would give
the right impulse to the etheric body. Yet this very disturbance plays an
important part in human life, and is able to express itself because the
models for the etheric body do not come into full play in the waking life.
This fact is revealed by “fatigue.” Now, during sleep, no external
impressions disturb the force of the astral body. Therefore in this
condition it can expel fatigue. The work of the astral body during sleep
consists in removing fatigue, and it can accomplish this only by leaving
the physical and etheric bodies. During waking life the astral body does
its work within the physical body; during sleep it works on the latter
from without.

For instance, just as the physical body has need of the outer world, which
is of like substance with itself, for its supply of food, something of the
same kind takes place in the case of the astral body. Let us imagine a
physical human body removed from the surrounding world: it would die. That
shows that physical life is an impossibility without the entire physical
environment. In fact, the whole earth must be just as it is if physical
human bodies are to exist upon it. For, in reality, the whole human body
is only a part of the earth,—indeed, in a wider sense, part of the whole
physical universe. In this respect it is related in the same sense as, for
example, the finger of a hand to the entire human body. Separate the
finger from the hand and it cannot remain a finger: it withers away. Such
would also be the fate of the human body were it removed from that body of
which it is a member,—from the conditions of life with which the earth
provides it. Let it be raised above the surface of the earth but a
sufficient number of miles and it will perish as the finger perishes when
cut off from the hand. If this fact is less apparent in the case of a
man’s physical organism than in that of his finger and his body, it is
merely because the finger cannot walk about on the body as man is able to
do on the earth, and because on that account the dependence of the former
is more obvious.

In the same way that the physical body is embedded in the physical world
to which it belongs, so does the astral body form a part of its own world,
only it is torn out of it in waking life. We can form a clear idea of what
happens by having recourse to an analogy. Imagine a vessel filled with
water. No one drop is a separate thing in itself within that entire mass
of water. But let us take a little sponge and with it suck up a single
drop from the whole mass of water. Something of this kind happens to the
human astral body on awaking. During sleep it is in a world resembling its
own nature. In a certain sense it forms part of it. On awaking, the
physical and etheric bodies suck it up: they absorb it; they contain the
organs through which it perceives the outer world. In order to achieve
this perception it has to leave its own world, for it is in that world
alone that it can receive the models which it needs for the etheric body.

Just as food is supplied to the physical body from its surroundings, so
are the pictures of the world surrounding the astral body presented to it
during the state of sleep. There, indeed, it lives in the universe, beyond
the physical and etheric bodies: in that same universe out of which the
whole man is born. The source of the images by means of which man receives
his form is in this universe. He is linked in harmony with it; and when he
awakens he rises above the surface of this all-pervading harmony to attain
external perception. In sleep his astral body returns to the universal
harmony. He brings so much strength from it to his bodies on awaking that
he can once more dispense for a time with sojourning in the realm of
harmony. The astral body returns during sleep to its home, and, on
awaking, brings back into life freshly invigorated forces. That which the
astral body thus gains, and brings with it on waking, finds its outer
expression in the refreshment afforded by sound sleep.

Further exposition of occult science will show that this home of the
astral body is more extensive than that which belongs to the physical body
in the narrower sense of the physical environment. Thus, while man as a
physical being is a member of this earth, his astral body belongs to
worlds in which other heavenly bodies besides our earth are included.
During sleep, therefore,—(this can be made clear, as we have said, only by
further explanations)—it enters a world to which other stars than the
earth belong. In recognition of the fact that man lives during sleep in a
world of stars, that is, in an astral world, occult science calls that
principle of man which has its real home in that “astral” world and which,
every time it returns to the sleep state, draws renewed force from that
world, the _astral body_.

It should be superfluous to point out that a misunderstanding might easily
arise with regard to these facts; in our time, however, when certain
materialistic modes of representation exist, it becomes quite necessary to
draw attention to them. In quarters where such representation prevails it
may, of course, be said that such a thing as fatigue can be scientifically
investigated only in accordance with physical conditions. Even if the
learned are not yet unanimous with regard to the physical cause of
fatigue, one thing is quite firmly established; we must accept certain
physical processes which lie at the root of this phenomenon. It would be
well, however, if it were recognized that occult science does not in any
way oppose this assertion. It admits everything that is said in this
connection, just as it is admitted that for the physical erection of a
house one brick must be laid upon another, and that when the house is
finished its form and construction can be explained by purely mechanical
laws. But the thought of the architect is necessary for the building of
the house. This cannot be discovered merely by examination of physical

Just as the thought of the creator of a house stands behind the physical
laws which make it explicable, so too, behind what is affirmed, with
perfect accuracy by physical science, stands that of which occult science
treats. This comparison is of course often put forward when the
justification for a spiritual background to the world is in question; and
it may be considered a trivial one. But what is important in such matters
is not familiarity with certain conceptions, but that the proper weight
should be given them in establishing a fact. One may be prevented from
doing this simply because contrary ideas have so much power over the
judgment that this weight is not felt.

Dreaming is an intermediate state between sleeping and waking. What dream
experiences offer to thoughtful observation is the many-coloured
interweaving of a picture-world, which nevertheless conceals within itself
some sort of law and order. At first this world seems to have an ebb and
flow, often in confused succession. Man in his dream-life is set free from
the laws of waking consciousness which bind him to sense-perception and
the laws of reason. And yet dreams have some sort of mysterious law,
attractive and fascinating to human speculation, and this is the deeper
reason why the beautiful play of imagination lying at the root of artistic
feeling is always apt to be compared to dreaming. We need only recall a
few characteristic dreams to find this corroborated. A man dreams, for
example, that he is driving off a dog that is attacking him. He wakes, and
finds himself in the act of unconsciously pushing off part of the
bedclothes which had been lying on an unaccustomed part of his body and
which had therefore become oppressive. What is it that dream-life makes,
in this instance, out of an incident perceptible to the senses? In the
first place, it leaves in complete unconsciousness what the senses would
perceive in the waking state. But it holds fast to something
essential—namely, the fact that the man wishes to repel something; and
round about this it weaves a metaphorical occurrence.

The pictures, as such, are echoes of waking life. There is something
arbitrary in the way in which they are drawn from it. Every one feels that
the same external cause may conjure up various dream-pictures. But they
give symbolic expression to the feeling that one has something to ward
off. The dream creates symbols; it is a symbolist. Inner experiences can
also be transformed into such dream-symbols. A man dreams that a fire is
crackling beside him; he sees flames in his dream. He wakes up feeling
that he is too heavily covered and has become too warm. The feeling of too
great warmth expresses itself symbolically in the picture. Quite dramatic
experiences may be enacted in a dream. For example, some one dreams that
he is standing on the edge of a precipice. He sees a child running toward
it. The dream makes him experience all the tortures of the thought—if only
the child will not be heedless and fall over into the abyss! He sees it
fall, and hears the dull thud of the body below. He awakes, and perceives
that an object which had been hanging on the wall of the room has become
unfastened, and made a dull sound by its fall. This simple event is
expressed in dream-life by one which unravels itself in exciting pictures.
For the present it is not at all necessary to engage in reflection as to
the reason why, in the last example, the moment of the falling of a heavy
object expresses itself in a series of events which seem to spread
themselves over a certain length of time; it is only necessary to keep in
view that the dream transforms into a picture that which would present
itself to the waking sense-perception.

We see that the moment the senses cease their activity, creative power
asserts itself in man. It is the same creative power which is present in
absolutely dreamless sleep, and at that time recuperates man’s exhausted
forces. For this dreamless sleep to take place, the astral body must be
withdrawn from the etheric and physical bodies. During the dream-state it
is so far separated from the physical body as to have no further
connection with the organs of sense; but it still maintains a certain
connection with the etheric body. The capacity for perceiving the
experiences of the astral body by means of pictures is due to this
connection which it maintains with the etheric body. The moment this
connection also ceases, the pictures sink into the obscurity of
unconsciousness and dreamless sleep has set in.

The arbitrary and often nonsensical element in dream-pictures arises from
the fact that the astral body cannot, on account of its separation from
the sense-organs of the physical body, relate its pictures to the correct
objects and events of the outer environment. It is especially
illuminating, in this matter, to examine a dream in which the ego is, as
it were, split up; as, for example in the case of a person who dreams that
he is a schoolboy and cannot answer the propounded question, while
immediately afterward as the teacher, he himself answers it. The dreamer,
being unable to make use of his physical organs of perception, is not able
to connect both occurrences with himself, as the same individual.
Therefore, in order to recognize himself also as a permanent ego, man must
first be equipped with outer organs of perception. Only when he has
acquired the faculty of self-consciousness without the aid of such organs
will the permanent ego also become perceptible to him outside his physical
body. Clairvoyant consciousness has to acquire this faculty, and the
method of doing so will be treated in detail later in this work.

Even death takes place for no other cause than a change in the connection
of the principles of man’s being. And what is visible to clairvoyant
observation with regard to death may also be seen in its effects in the
manifested world; in this case also, an unbiased judgment will find the
teachings of occult science confirmed by observing external life. The
expression of the invisible in the visible is, however, less evident with
regard to these facts, and there is greater difficulty in feeling the full
importance of that which in the events of outer life endorses the
statements of occult science in this domain. These statements may be
supposed to be mere pictures of fancy, even more readily than many other
things that have been dealt with in this work, if we shut ourselves off
from the knowledge that everywhere in the visible is contained an
unmistakable foreshadowing of the invisible.

On the approach of sleep, only the astral body is released from its
connection with the etheric and physical bodies, which still remain
united, whereas at death the separation of the physical from the etheric
body takes place. The physical body is abandoned to its own forces, and
must therefore disintegrate as a corpse. At death the etheric body finds
itself in a condition in which it has never been before during the time
between birth and death,—with the exception of certain abnormal conditions
to be dealt with later. That is to say, it is now united with the astral
body in the absence of the physical body; for the etheric and astral
bodies do not separate immediately after death: they are held together for
a time by the agency of a force the presence of which can be easily
understood; for were this force not present the etheric body could not
detach itself from the physical body. It would remain bound to the latter,
as is shown in the case of sleep, when the astral body is not able to rend
asunder these two principles of man’s being. This force comes into action
at death. It releases the etheric from the physical body, so that the
former remains united to the astral body. Clairvoyant observation shows
that this connection varies with different people after death. The time of
its duration is measured by days. For the present, this period of time is
mentioned only for the sake of information.

Subsequently, the astral body is also released from the etheric body and
goes on its way alone. During the union of the two bodies, the individual
is in a state which enables him to be aware of the experiences of his
astral body. As long as the physical body is there, the work of
reinforcing the wasted organs has to be begun from without, as soon as the
astral body is liberated from it. When once the physical body is
separated, this work ceases. Nevertheless, the force which was expended in
this way while the man was asleep, continues after death and can now be
applied to some other end. It is now used for making the astral body’s own
experiences perceptible. During his connection with his physical body the
outer world enters man’s consciousness in images; after the body has been
laid aside, that which is experienced by the astral body, when it is no
longer connected with sense organs, with this outer physical world,
becomes perceptible. At first it has no new experiences. Its connection
with the etheric body prevents it from experiencing anything new.

What, however, it does possess, is _memory_ of its past life. The etheric
body still being present causes that past life to appear as a vivid and
comprehensive panorama. That is man’s first experience after death. He
sees his life from birth to death spread out before him in a series of
pictures. Memory is only present in the waking state, when during life man
is united with his physical body, and it is present only to the extent
allowed by that body. Nothing is lost to the soul that has made an
impression on it during life. Were the physical body a perfect instrument
for the purpose, it would be possible, at any moment during life, to
conjure up the whole of the past before the eyes of the soul. At death
there is no longer any obstacle to this. As long as the etheric body
remains, there exists a certain degree of perfection of memory. But this
disappears according to the degree in which the etheric body loses the
form which it possessed while united with the physical body, and which
resembles that body. This is the very reason why the astral body
separates, after a time, from the etheric body. It can remain united with
the latter only so long as the form of the etheric body corresponds with
that of the physical body.

During the period of life between birth and death, separation of the
etheric body occurs only in exceptional cases, and for no longer than a
brief space of time. If, for example, a man exposes one of his limbs to
pressure, part of his etheric body may become separated from the physical
one. We say on such occasion that the limb has “gone to sleep,” and the
peculiar sensation we feel results from the separation of the etheric
body. (Of course a materialistic manner of explanation may here again deny
the invisible behind the visible and say: all this arises merely from the
physical disturbance caused by the pressure.) Clairvoyant vision can see
in such a case, how the corresponding part of the etheric body extends
beyond the physical limb. Now if a man experiences an unusual shock, or
something similar, such a separation of the etheric body from a large part
of the physical body may result, for a short time. That is the case when a
man, for some reason or other, is suddenly brought face to face with
death,—for example when drowning, or threatened by a fatal accident when
mountaineering. What is related by people who have had such experiences
comes, in fact, very near the truth, and can be ratified by clairvoyant
observation. They declare that in such moments their whole lives pass
before their minds as though in a huge memory-picture.

Out of the many examples which might here be adduced, allusion will be
made to one only, because it originates from a man whose mode of thought
would make everything said here about such things seem pure fancy.(5)
Moriz Benedict, the distinguished criminal anthropologist and eminent
investigator in many other realms of natural science, relates in his
_Reminiscences_ an experience of his own,—to the effect that once, when on
the point of drowning in a bath he had seen his whole life pass before his
memory as though in a single picture. If other people describe differently
the pictures seen by them under similar circumstances, and even in such a
way that they seem to have little to do with the events of their past
life, that does not contradict what has been said; for the pictures which
arise in the quiet abnormal condition during the separation from the
physical body are sometimes at first sight, unintelligible in their
relation to life. Correct observation, however, would always recognize
this relationship.

Neither is it an objection if, for example, some one who was once on the
point of drowning did not experience what has been described; for it must
be borne in mind that this can happen only when the etheric body is really
separated from the physical body,—when, moreover, the former is still
united with the astral body. If, through the fright, a loosening of the
etheric and astral bodies also takes place, the experience is not
forthcoming, because then complete unconsciousness ensues, as in dreamless

Immediately after death the events of the past appear as though compressed
by the memory into a picture. After its separation from the etheric body,
the astral body pursues its further wanderings alone. It is not difficult
to realize that everything continues to exist which, by means of its
activity, the astral body has made its own during its sojourn in the
physical body. The ego has to a certain extent elaborated the Spirit-Self,
the Life-Spirit, and the Spirit-Man. As far as these are developed, they
do not owe their existence to the organs present in the different bodies,
but to the ego; and it is precisely this ego which needs no outer organs
for perception; nor does it require any such organs in order to retain
possession of what it has made one with itself. It might be objected: “Why
then is there no perception during sleep of the developed Spirit-Self,
Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man?” For this reason that the ego is chained to
the physical body between birth and death. Even though, during sleep, it
is out of the physical body with the astral body it nevertheless remains
closely connected with the physical body; for the activity of the astral
body is directed toward the physical body. On this account the ego is
relegated to the outer world of sense for its observations, and cannot
receive spiritual revelations in their direct form. Not until death do
these revelations come within reach of the ego, because by means of death
the ego is freed from its connection with the physical and etheric bodies.
Another world may flash upon the consciousness the moment it is withdrawn
from the physical world which during life monopolizes its activity.

Now there are reasons why even at this juncture all connection with the
outer physical world of sense does not cease for man. That is to say,
certain desires remain which sustain the connection. There are desires
which man creates just because he is conscious of his ego as the fourth
principle of his being. These desires and wishes, springing from the
existence of his three lower bodies, can operate only in the external
world, and cease to operate when these bodies are cast aside. Hunger is
caused by the external body; as soon as that external body is no longer
connected with the ego, hunger ceases. Now, had the ego no further desires
than those springing from its own spiritual nature, it might at death draw
full satisfaction from the spiritual world into which it is transplanted.
But life has given it other desires as well. It has kindled in it a
longing for pleasures only to be enjoyed by means of physical organs,
although these pleasures themselves do not originate in the nature of
those organs. It is not only the three bodies which demand gratification
from the physical world, but the ego itself finds pleasures in that world,
for the enjoyment of which there exist no means whatever, in the spiritual

During life the ego has two kinds of desires: those that spring from the
bodies and must therefore be gratified within the bodies, but which must
also come to an end with their disintegration; and those that arise from
the spiritual nature of the ego. As long as the ego lives in the bodies,
those cravings are satisfied by means of the bodily organs. For in the
manifestations of the bodily organs the hidden spiritual element is at
work, and the senses receive something spiritual as well, in everything of
which they are cognizant. That spiritual element is also present after
death, although in a different form. Everything spiritual that the ego
longs for while in the world of sense, it still possesses when the senses
are no longer there.

Now if a third kind of wish were not added to these two, death would mean
only a transition from desires which may be satisfied through the senses
to such as are fulfilled by the revelation of the spiritual world. The
third kind of desire is that which is created by the ego during life in
the sense-world, because it finds pleasure in that world, even when no
spiritual element is revealed in it. The humblest pleasures may be
manifestations of the spirit. The satisfaction afforded a starving
creature by taking food is a manifestation of the spirit, for by taking
food something is thereupon brought about without which, in a certain
sense, the spiritual nature could not develop. But the ego can go beyond
the pleasure, which in this case is the outcome of necessity. It may even
long for the delicious food quite apart from the service rendered to the
spirit by taking nourishment.

It is the same with other things in the sense-world. Desires are created
in this way which would never have appeared in the sense-world if the
human ego had not been incorporated in it. Neither do such desires arise
from the spiritual nature of the ego. The ego must have pleasures of the
senses as long as it lives in the body, even though it be for the very
reason that its own nature is spiritual. For the spirit manifests in
material things, and the ego is enjoying nothing less than spirit when it
surrenders itself to that element in the sense-world which is irradiated
by the light of the spirit. Moreover, it will continue to enjoy this light
even when the senses are no longer the medium through which the spiritual
rays pass. But there is no fulfillment possible in the spiritual world for
desires in which the spirit is not living even in the world of the senses.

When death takes place, the possibility of gratifying desires of this
description is cut off. Pleasure in good things to eat can be induced only
by the presence of the physical organs required for their consumption,—the
palate, tongue, and so forth; but when man has laid aside his physical
body he no longer possesses these organs. If, however, the ego still
craves that kind of pleasure the craving must remain unsatisfied. As long
as this pleasure corresponds to the spiritual need, it is caused only by
the presence of the physical organs; but should it happen that the ego has
created the desire without serving the spirit in so doing, it retains it
after death in the form of a craving which thirsts in vain for
gratification. We can form an idea of what man then experiences only by
imagining some one suffering from burning thirst in a region where, far
and wide, there is no water to be found. This is the predicament of the
ego after death, as long as it retains ungratified desires for the
pleasures of the outer world, and has no organs by means of which to
satisfy them. Of course the burning thirst, serving as a comparison for
the condition of the ego after death, must be thought of as enormously
increased, and it must be imagined as extending to all desires still
existing, for which all possibility of gratification is lacking.

The next condition of the ego consists in freeing itself from this bond of
attraction to the outer world. With regard to this world, it has to attain
purification and liberation. It must be cleansed of all wishes which it
has created while in the body, and which have no native rights in the
spiritual world. As an object is caught and burned up by fire, so is the
world of desire, described above, broken up and destroyed after death. A
vista is then opened into that world which occult science calls the
“consuming fire” of the spirit. This fire seizes upon desires of a sensual
nature which however are not rooted in the spirit. Revelations of this
kind which occult science is bound to make with regard to such events may
appear hopeless and terrible. It may seem a fearful thing that a hope for
the realization of which sense-organs are required, should after death be
transformed into despair, and that a wish that can be fulfilled only by
the physical world should be changed into torturing deprivation. Yet we
can hold such an opinion only as long as we fail to realize that the
wishes and desires seized by the “consuming fire” after death do not, in a
higher sense, represent forces beneficial to life but destructive to it.

By means of these forces the ego binds itself to the sense-world more
closely than is necessary, in order to draw from it all the experience it
requires. For the sense-world is a manifestation of the hidden and
spiritual world which lies behind it; and the ego could never attain
spiritual happiness through the bodily senses, which are the only form in
which the spiritual can be manifested, unless it utilized the senses to
seek the spiritual element in sense-experience. Nevertheless, the ego
loses sight of the true spiritual reality in the physical world to such an
extent that it experiences sensual desires irrespective of the needs of
the spirit. If sense pleasure, as the expression of the spirit, serves to
raise and develop the ego, any pleasure which is not an expression of the
spirit warps and impoverishes it. Even though such a desire finds the
means of its gratification in the sense-world, still its destructive
effect upon the ego is thereby in no way diminished; but it is not until
after death that its disastrous effects become apparent.

For this reason a man may, by gratifying such desires, create, during his
life, new and similar desires, wholly unaware that he is enveloping
himself in a “consuming fire.” What becomes visible to him after death is
only what already surrounded him during his life, and by thus becoming
visible it at once appears in its salutary and beneficent effect. A human
being who loves another is certainly not attracted merely by that part of
him which is perceptible to the physical senses—the only part which is cut
off from observation after death—but after death, just that part of the
dear one then becomes visible for the perception of which the physical
organs were only the means. The one thing, in fact, which would prevent a
man from beholding his friend clearly is the presence of desires which can
be satisfied only by means of physical organs. Unless these desires are
extinguished, he can have no conscious perception of his friend after
death. When looked at in this light, the terrible and hopeless character
which after-death experiences might assume for man, according to the
descriptions given by occult science, becomes changed into one which is
thoroughly satisfying and consoling.

Now the first after-death experiences differ entirely in yet another
respect from those during life. During the time of purification man lives,
as it were, backwards. He lives over again the whole span of his life
since birth; beginning with the events immediately preceding his death,
and reversing the order of his experiences, he goes through them again
until he reaches back to childhood. In this process he sees with
spiritually enlightened eyes all those things which were not inspired by
the spiritual nature of the ego, with the difference that he now
experiences these things in reverse order.

For instance, a man who died in his sixtieth year, and who at the age of
forty had, in an outburst of anger, caused some one either physical or
mental pain, will go through this experience again when, on the return
journey of existence after death, he reaches that point in his fortieth
year; but now he does not experience the satisfaction which his attack had
afforded him during life; instead, he experiences the pain which he
inflicted upon the other man. It may at once be seen, however, that
whatever pain he feels in the after-death experience is caused by a desire
of the ego arising only from the outer physical world; in reality the ego
does not only injure another by the indulgence of such a desire, but it
also injures itself; although the injury to itself is not apparent during

After death, however, the whole of the harmful world of desires becomes
visible to the ego, which then feels attracted toward every being or
object which had kindled the desire, in order that this may be destroyed
in the “consuming fire” by the same means that created it. When man, on
his return journey, reaches the moment of his birth, then only have all
such desires been purged in the purifying flames, and henceforth nothing
remains to hinder him from devoting himself entirely to the spiritual
world. He enters upon a new phase of existence. In the same way that he
laid aside his physical body at death and, soon afterward, his etheric
body, so does that part of his astral body dissolve which can only live in
the consciousness of the outer physical world.

Occult science, therefore, recognizes three corpses,—the physical,
etheric, and astral. The period at which the last is cast off by man is
marked by the time of purification, which amounts to about one third of
the time elapsed between birth and death. The reason why this is so can
only be explained later, when the course of human life is examined from
the standpoint of occult science. To clairvoyant observation, astral
corpses, which have been cast off by human beings passing from the state
of purification into a higher existence, are constantly visible in the
world surrounding man, in exactly the same way that physical corpses, in
places inhabited by men, are apparent to physical observation.(6)

After purification an entirely new state of consciousness begins for the
ego. Whereas before death the outer perceptions must flow to the ego, in
order that upon these perceptions the light of consciousness might be able
to fall, so now in like manner from within, streams a world which attains
consciousness. The ego is living in this world also between birth and
death; only then this world is clothed in the manifestations of the
senses. It is only when the ego, freed from all the ties of sense, turns
inward to behold its own “holy of holies,” that its true innermost nature,
which had hitherto been obscured by the senses, is revealed to it. In the
same way that the ego is recognized inwardly before death, so, after death
and purification, is the spiritual life inwardly revealed to it in all its
fulness. This revelation really takes place immediately after the etheric
body is laid aside; but it is obscured by the dark cloud of desires turned
toward the outer world. It is as though a world of spiritual bliss were
invaded by black demoniacal phantoms, caused by those desires which are
being destroyed by the “consuming fire.” Indeed, these desires are not
mere phantoms, but real entities, which become apparent immediately after
the ego is deprived of physical organs, and is thus able to discern those
things which are of a spiritual nature. These entities have the appearance
of distorted caricatures of the objects with which the individual had
formerly become acquainted through his senses.

Clairvoyant observation shows that this place of purging fire is peopled
by beings whose appearance may well seem horrifying and painful to
spiritual vision, whose pleasure seems to consist in destruction, and
whose passions impel them to evil-doing of such a description that the
evil of the physical world seems insignificant in comparison. Whatever
desires of the kind described above are brought into that world by man,
are looked upon by these beings as food, by means of which their powers
are continually strengthened and invigorated.

The picture thus sketched of a world imperceptible to the senses may seem
less incredible if we look with an unprejudiced eye on part of the animal
world. What is a fierce, devouring wolf, from a spiritual point of view?
What does it reveal to us through that which our senses perceive? Nothing
else than a soul that lives in desires, and acts by desire. The external
form of the wolf may be called an embodiment of those desires; and if man
had no organs with which to perceive that form, if its desires appeared
invisibly in their effects,—if, therefore, a force invisible to the eye
were prowling about, and might be the cause of all that happened through
the visible wolf,—he would still be forced to recognize the existence of a
creature corresponding to it. Now the beings of the region of purifying
fire are not visible to the physical eye, but to clairvoyant sight only;
but their effects are clearly apparent. They bring about the destruction
of the ego when it gives them nourishment. These effects are clearly
visible if what began as a pleasure leads to excess and debauchery.

For even what is perceptible to the senses would attract the ego only in
so far as the pleasure had its root in the ego’s own nature. The animal is
prompted by desire for that in the outer world which its three bodies
crave. Man has higher enjoyments, because to the three principles of his
bodily nature is added the fourth, the ego. But if the ego seeks a
gratification which does not tend toward the maintenance and development
of its nature but to its destruction, then such a craving can be neither
the effect of its three bodies, nor that of its own nature, but can only
be caused by beings, concealed from the senses in their true form, but
able furtively to approach that higher nature of the ego, and excite in it
desires which, though it is cut off from the senses, can still be
satisfied only by means of sense-organs.

For there are beings which feed on passions and desires of a worse kind
than those of an animal nature, because they do not expend themselves on
objects of the senses but seize upon the spiritual element and drag it
down to a sensual level. Therefore the forms of such beings are more
hideous, more horrible, to spiritual sight than are the forms of the
fiercest animals, in which after all only passions rooted in the senses
are incarnated. And the destructive forces of these beings immeasurably
surpass any destructive rage existing in the animal world as perceived by
the senses. Occult science must in this way enlarge man’s view so as to
include a world of beings standing, in a certain respect, lower than the
visibly destructive animal world.

When man has passed through the world of purification after death, he
finds himself in a world the contents of which are spiritual, and which
also creates in him longings which can be satisfied only by spiritual
things. But even now man distinguishes between that which properly belongs
to his ego and what forms the environment of that ego—one might say, its
spiritual outer world. Only that, of which he becomes sensible in this
environment, pours in upon him in the same way that the perception of his
own ego poured in upon him during his sojourn in the body. Whereas man’s
environment in the life between birth and death speaks to him through his
bodily organs, after death when all the bodies are laid aside the language
of his new environment penetrates directly into the innermost sanctuary of
the ego. Man’s whole environment is now filled with beings of a like
nature with his ego, for only an ego has access to an ego. Just as
minerals, plants, and animals surround man in the sense-world, and compose
it, so, after death, is he surrounded by a world composed of beings of a
spiritual nature.

Yet he takes something with him into this world which is not part of his
environment there; it is what the ego has experienced in the world of the
senses. First of all, the sum of these experiences appeared, as a
comprehensive memory-picture, immediately after death, while the etheric
body was still united to the ego. The etheric body itself is then, indeed,
laid aside, but something of the memory-picture remains with the ego as an
everlasting possession. Just as though an extract or essence were made out
of all the events and experiences which a man encounters between birth and
death, so might we describe that which is left behind. It is the spiritual
product of life, its fruit. This product is of a spiritual nature. It
contains everything spiritual which is revealed through the senses, yet
this spiritual treasure could not have been gathered save by life in the

This spiritual fruit of the sense-world becomes after death the ego’s own
inner world. With it the ego enters a world, which consists of beings who
reveal themselves in the same and only manner in which man in his
innermost depths, can become conscious of his own ego. As a plant seed,
which is the essence of the whole plant, grows only when buried in another
world, the earth, so now that which the ego brings from the sense-world
gradually unfolds itself as a seed under the influence of the spiritual
environment in which it has been planted. Occult science can, of course,
only portray in pictures what happens in this “spirit-world;” still those
pictures present themselves as absolute reality to the clairvoyant’s
sight, when he investigates invisible happenings, corresponding to those
which are visible to the physical eye. Whatever of that world can be
described, may be visualized by comparison with the world of the senses
for although it is of a purely spiritual nature, it nevertheless resembles
the physical world in certain respects. Just as, for instance, in the
physical world, a color appears when some object impresses the eye, so in
the spirit-world a color appears to the ego when a being acts upon it. But
this latter phenomenon is perceived in the same manner as the ego can be
perceived inwardly between birth and death. It is not as though the light
outside fell within upon the man, but as though another being directly
affected the ego, causing the latter to picture this influence in a

Thus do all things in the spiritual environment of the ego find expression
in a world of coloured rays. As their origin is of a different kind, it
goes without saying that these colours of the spiritual world are also of
a somewhat different character from physical colours. A similar thing is
true of other impressions received by man in the world of sense. But it is
the sounds of the spiritual world that most nearly resemble the
impressions of the sense-world; and the more at home a man becomes in the
spiritual world, the more he realizes it as a life of self-determined
motion, which may be compared with the sounds, and the harmony of sounds,
of the physical world. Only he does not feel the tones as something
approaching an organ from outside, but as a force streaming forth into the
outer world through his ego. He feels the sound just as in the sense-world
he feels his own speech or song, only he knows that in the spiritual world
these sounds, streaming out from him, are at the same time the
manifestations of other beings, who are pouring themselves into the world
through him.

A still higher manifestation takes place in the spirit-land when the sound
becomes the “spiritual word.” Then there streams through the ego not only
the pulsing life of another spiritual being, but such a being itself
communicates its own inner nature to the ego; and then, when the spiritual
word streams through the ego, two beings live in one another, without that
separating element which every companionship in the sense-world must carry
with it. And this is really the nature of the communion of the ego with
other spiritual beings after death.

There are three regions in the spiritual world, which may be compared to
the three divisions of the physical sense-world. The first region is in a
certain respect the “solid land” of the spiritual world, the second the
“sphere of ocean and river,” and the third the “atmospheric region.” That
which assumes physical form on earth, so that it can be perceived by
physical organs, in accordance with its spiritual nature, is to be seen in
the first region of the spirit-world. There, for instance, may be seen the
force that fashions the form of a crystal. Only what is there revealed is
the opposite of that which appears in the sense-world. In that world the
space which is filled by a mass of rock appears to spiritual sight as a
kind of hollow space; but round about this hollow is seen the force which
fashions the form of the rock. The colour of the rock in the sense-world
appears in the spiritual world as its complementary colour; thus a red
stone is green when seen from the spirit-world, a green stone is red, and
so on. Other qualities also appear in their opposites. Just as stone,
masses of earth, and like materials make up the solid land—the continental
region of the world of sense—so do the structures described above compose
the solid land of the spiritual world.

All that is life in the sense-world belongs to the ocean-region of the
spiritual world. To the physical eye, life appears in its effects in
plants, animals, and men. To spiritual vision, life is a flowing
substance, like oceans and rivers, diffused through the spirit-world. A
still better comparison is that of the circulation of the blood in the
body; for whereas seas and rivers are seen to be irregularly distributed
in the physical world, a certain regularity in distribution of the flowing
life reigns in the spirit-world, as in the circulation of the blood. This
“flowing life” is simultaneously heard as spiritual sound.

The third region of the spirit-world is its “atmosphere.” What is known in
the physical world as “feeling” is also present there, permeating
everything like the air on the earth. We must imagine a rushing sea of
feeling. Pain and sorrow, joy and rapture, flow through this region, like
wind and storms in the atmosphere of the physical world. Imagine a battle
fought on earth. There confront one another not merely human forms, as
seen by the physical eye, but feelings opposed to feelings, passions to
passions; pain fills the battlefield just as much as do the forms of men.
All that is seething there of passion, pain, and the joy of victory is not
only perceptible in its effects as revealed to the physical senses; it may
be seen with the spiritual senses as an atmospheric process in the
spirit-world. Such an event in the spiritual world is like a thunderstorm
in the physical, and the perception of these events may be compared to the
hearing of words in the physical world. For this reason it is said that as
the air envelops and permeates earthly things, so do “interweaving
spiritual words” pervade the beings and events of the spirit-world.

And still further observations are possible in this spirit-world. What may
be compared to light and heat in the physical world is there too. That
which permeates everything in the spirit-world, as earthly things and
beings are permeated by heat, is the world of thought itself. There,
however, thoughts must be regarded as living and independent beings. What
is understood by man in the manifested world as thought is but a shadow of
what lives as a thought-being in the spirit-world. Imagine thought, as it
now exists in man, raised out of him and as an active, energetic being,
endowed with an inner life of its own, and you have a feeble illustration
of that which fills the fourth region of the spirit-world. In the physical
world between birth and death what man understands as thought is but the
manifestation of the thought-world as it is able to mould itself by means
of the instruments afforded by the bodies. All such thoughts cherished by
man, that carry with them an enrichment of the physical world have their
origin in this region. By such thoughts are meant not only the ideas of
great inventors and men of genius; but those ideas found in every
individual which he does not owe solely to the external world, but through
which he, so to speak, transforms that world.

In so far as feelings and passions are concerned, the cause of which lies
in the outer world, these feelings are perceptible in the third region of
the spirit-world; but everything which so lives in a man’s soul as to make
him a creator,—influencing, transforming and fertilizing his
environment,—is manifest in its original and intrinsic form in the fourth
division of the spirit-world.

That which exists in the fifth region may be compared to physical light.
In its archetypal form it is wisdom in manifestation. Beings who diffuse
wisdom throughout their surroundings, as the sun pours light on physical
beings, belong to this realm. Whatever is illuminated by their wisdom
stands forth in its true meaning and significance for the spiritual world,
just as the colour of a physical object is seen when the light falls upon
it. There are still higher regions of the spirit-world, which will be
described later in this work.

Into this world the ego is plunged after death, together with the results
it carries with it out of physical life. And these results are still
united with that part of the astral body which is not cast off at the end
of the time of purification. In fact, only that part falls away which, in
its desires and wishes, turned, after death, toward physical life. The
plunging of the ego into the spiritual world, with what it has acquired in
the physical world, may be compared to the planting of a grain of seed in
the soil in which it can mature. As the grain of seed draws substances and
forces from its surroundings in order that it may develop into a new
plant, so the condition of the ego, when implanted in the spiritual world,
is one of development and growth.

Hidden within that which is perceived by an organ, there lies the force
whereby that same organ was formed. The eye perceives light; but without
light there would be no eye. Creatures spending their lives in darkness do
not develop organs of sight. Thus the whole of man’s physical body is
created out of the hidden forces of that of which he becomes conscious
through his bodily organs. The physical body is built up by the forces of
the physical world, the etheric body by those of the life-world, and the
astral body is formed out of the astral world. Now when the ego is
transferred to the spirit-world it is met by just those forces which
remain hidden to physical perception.

What appear to man’s view in the first region of the spirit-world are the
spiritual beings that are always surrounding him, and that have built up
his physical body. Thus in the physical world man perceives nothing but
the manifestations of those spiritual forces which have formed his own
physical body. After death he is in the very midst of these moulding
forces, which, previously hidden, now appear to him in their true forms.
In the same way, in the second region, he is in the midst of the forces by
which his etheric body was organized, and in the third region there pour
in upon him the potencies out of which his astral body was formed. The
higher regions of the spirit-world also direct toward him those forces
from which he was built in the life between birth and death.

These denizens of the spiritual world are at present working in
co-operation with that which man has brought with him as the product of
his last life, which now becomes a germ; and through this co-operation man
is, first of all, built up anew as a spiritual being. The physical and
etheric bodies are still joined in sleep; the astral body and the ego are,
it is true, outside them, but still connected with them. Whatever
influences the astral body and the ego receive, in such a state, from the
spiritual world, can serve only to recuperate the forces exhausted during
the waking state.

But when the physical and etheric bodies have been laid aside, and, after
the time of purification, also those parts of the astral body still bound
by their desires to the physical world, then everything pouring in upon
the ego from the spiritual world is not only a reforming but a
reorganizing force. After a certain period, to be dealt with in later
chapters, the ego again gathers round it an astral body which will be able
to live in such an etheric and physical body as man possesses between
birth and death. A man can once more pass through birth and renew his
earthly existence, in which, however, will be incorporated the results of
his former life. Until the rebuilding of his astral body, man is a witness
of his reconstruction. As the powers of the spirit-world are not
manifested to him through external organs, but from within outward, like
his own ego in self-consciousness, he is able to observe that
manifestation as long as his attention is not turned to an outer world of
perception. But from the moment that the astral body is reconstituted, his
attention is turned outward; the astral body once more craves an outer
etheric and physical body. It is thus turned away from the inner
revelations. For this reason there is now an intermediate state, during
which man is immersed in unconsciousness. Consciousness can emerge again
in the physical world only when the necessary organs for physical
perception are formed.

During this period, in which consciousness illuminated by inner perception
ceases, the new etheric body begins to link itself to the astral and man
can once again enter a physical body. In the linking together of these two
bodies only such an ego could consciously take part as had of itself
created the Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man out of the creative forces, hidden
in the etheric and physical bodies. Until the individual has evolved as
far as this, beings further advanced than himself in evolution must guide
this linking together. The astral body is guided, by such beings as these,
to parents through whom it may be endowed with the appropriate etheric and
physical bodies. Before the attachment of the etheric body takes place,
something of very great importance happens to the man who is about to
re-enter physical existence.

In his former life he created disturbing forces, which were revealed to
him on the journey retraced after death. Let us again take an example. He
caused some pain in an outburst of anger in the fortieth year of his
former life. After death, the other’s pain came before him as a force
which had interfered with the evolution of his ego. It is likewise with
all such events of his former life. On his re-entrance into physical life
these hindrances to his evolution confront the ego anew. As, on the
threshold of death, a sort of memory-picture arose before the human ego,
so there now arises a vision of the life approaching. Again he sees a
picture, this time showing all the obstacles which he has to clear away,
if he is to advance in evolution. And what he thus sees becomes the
starting-point for forces which he must bring with him into his new life.
The picture of the pain he has caused the other man becomes a force which
impels the ego, on entering life again, to make amends for this pain. Thus
the previous life has a determining effect on the new one. The deeds of
the new life are in a certain way caused by those of the former life. This
connection, following the law, between an earlier and later existence is
to be looked upon as the “Law of Destiny”; it has become usual to
designate it “Karma,” a term borrowed from oriental wisdom.

The building up of a new set of bodies, however, is not the only task
incumbent upon man between death and a new birth. While this building up
is taking place, man lives outside the physical world. That world,
however, continues to evolve during this time. The surface of the earth
changes in comparatively short periods of time. What aspect did those
regions which are now occupied by Germany bear a few thousand years ago?
When man appears on earth in a new existence, the earth rarely looks the
same as it did at the time of his last incarnation. During his absence
from the earth all sorts of changes have occurred. Now hidden forces are
also at work in this alteration of the face of the earth, proceeding from
that very world in which man finds himself after death; and he himself
must co-operate with these forces in the transformation of the earth. He
can do so only under the direction of Higher Beings until, by the creation
of his Life-Spirit and Spirit-Man, he has acquired a clear perception of
the connection between the spiritual and its expression in the physical.
But he takes part in the transformation of earthly conditions. It may be
said that during the period between death and a new birth, man so
transforms the earth that its conditions are in keeping with what he has
evolved in himself. If we look at a given place on the earth at a definite
moment, and see it again after a long lapse of time, under entirely
changed conditions, the forces which have wrought the change have
proceeded from those who are now dead. And it is this kind of connection
which exists between them and the earth until the time of rebirth.

Clairvoyant observation sees in all physical existence the manifestation
of a hidden spiritual element. To physical observation it is the light of
the sun, climatic changes, and so on, that effect the transformation of
the earth, but to clairvoyance it is the force of the dead that acts in
the rays of light which fall on the plant from the sun. The clairvoyant
sees how human souls hover about plants, how they change the surface of
the earth. Not alone upon himself nor upon the preparations for his own
new earthly existence, is man’s attention bestowed after death.—No, he is
called upon then to work upon the outer world, just as he is in life
between the time of his birth and death.

Not only does the life of man affect the conditions of the physical world
from the spirit-land; but vice versa, activity during physical existence
has its effects in the spiritual world. An example may explain what
happens in this respect. A bond of love exists between mother and child.
This love arises from a mutual attraction caused by the forces of the
sense-world. But in the course of time it changes. A spiritual tie
gradually grows out of the sense-bond, and this spiritual tie is not
created for the physical world only but for the spirit-world as well. The
same applies to other ties. Whatever is created in the physical world by
spiritual entities continues to exist in the spiritual world. Friends who
were closely united in life belong to each other in spirit-land also, and
when their bodies are laid aside they are in much more intimate communion
than during physical life. For as spirits they exist for each other in the
same way as, in the above description, spiritual beings reveal themselves
to others by inner manifestation; and a tie created between two persons
brings them together again in a new life. Thus in the truest sense of the
word we may speak of finding one another again after death.

What has once happened to a man between birth and death and from then till
a new birth, repeats itself. Man returns to earth again and again when the
fruit he has earned in a physical life has ripened in the spirit-world. It
is not, however, a case of repetition without beginning or end; but man
has emerged out of other forms of existence and passed into those which
run their course in the manner just described, and he will again in the
future pass into other forms. A viewpoint of these transition stages will
be gained when the evolution of the universe in connection with man is
subsequently considered from the standpoint of occult science.

The occurrences between death and a new birth are of course still more
concealed from outer sense-observation than is the spiritual foundation
underlying manifested life between birth and death. This sense-observation
can see only the effects of that portion of the hidden world where they
impinge upon physical existence. With regard to this the question must
arise whether man, on entering this life at birth, brings with him any
results from the events described by occult science as having taken place
between his last death and re-birth. If one finds the shell of a snail in
which there is no trace of the animal he will, in spite of that, recognize
that this snailshell was formed by the activity of an animal, and he
cannot believe that the shell constructed a form for itself, by means of
mere physical forces.

In the same way one who studies a man during life, and finds something in
him which cannot be due to _this_ life, might reasonably admit that it
arises from what occult science describes, if by doing so an explanatory
light is thrown on what is otherwise inexplicable.

Here, too, the unseen causes might appear intelligible to rational
sense-observation from their visible effects, and whoever observes life
with absolute impartiality will find that, with every fresh observation,
this appears to be more and more true. The important question, however, is
how to find the right point of view from which to observe their effects in
life. Where, for example, are the effects of that to be found which occult
science describes as incidents of the time of purification? How are the
effects of the experience which, according to occult investigations, man
undergoes in purely spiritual regions, manifested after this time of

Problems enough press upon every serious and profound student of life in
this domain. We see one man born in want and misery, endowed only with
inferior abilities, so that on account of these facts, which are incident
to his birth, he appears predestined to a miserable existence. Another,
from the first moment of his life, is tended and cherished by loving hands
and hearts; brilliant talents are unfolded in him; his gifts point to a
successful and satisfactory career. Two opposite views may be taken when
met by such questions as these. The one will adhere to what the senses
perceive and what the understanding, relying on these senses, is able to
comprehend. This view will admit no problem in the fact that one man is
born fortunate and the other unfortunate. Even if the word “chance” is not
used, there will be no question of thinking that such things are brought
about through any law of cause and effect. And with regard to talents and
abilities, such a view will consider them as “inherited” from parents,
grandparents, and other ancestors. It refuses to seek the causes in
spiritual events which the man himself met with before birth—regardless of
heredity—and by means of which he shaped his talents and abilities.

Another view would find no satisfaction in such an interpretation. It
would assert that even in the manifested world nothing happens in definite
places or surroundings without our having to presuppose causes for the
event in question. Even though in many cases such causes have not yet been
investigated, they are there. An Alpine flower does not grow in the
lowlands. Its nature has something which associates it with Alpine
regions. Just so must there be something in a man which determines his
birth in a certain environment. Causes belonging to the physical world
alone are not sufficient to account for this. To a more profound thinker
such an explanation appears in somewhat the same light as when one has
dealt another a blow, the motive for which is not attributed to the
feelings of the one but is to be explained by the physical mechanism of
the hand.

Any explanation of abilities and talents solely by “heredity” is to such a
viewpoint equally unsatisfactory. It is true one may say: “See how certain
talents are inherited in families.” During two and a half centuries
musical talents were inherited by members of the Bach family. Eight
mathematicians sprang from the Bernoulli family, to some of whom quite
different occupations were assigned in their childhood; but the inherited
talents always drove them to the family vocation. It may be further
pointed out how, by an exact investigation of the line of ancestry of a
person in one way or another the gifts of this person have shown
themselves in the forefathers, and only represent the sum of inherited
talents. Whoever holds the latter of the two views above indicated will be
sure not to let such facts pass unnoticed, but to _him_ they cannot mean
the same as they do to one who relies for his interpretation on the events
of the world of sense alone. The former will point out that inherited
talents can no more of themselves, combine into a complete personality
than can the metal parts of a watch fit themselves together. And if
objection is made that the co-operation of the parents may possibly
produce the combination of talents,—that this as it were, takes the place
of the watchmaker,—he will reply: “Look impartially at what is new in
every child-personality, at that which is absolutely new; that cannot come
from the parents, for the simple reason that it does not exist in them.”

Inaccurate thinking may create much confusion in this domain. It is still
worse when those who hold the second view are set down by the supporters
of the first as opponents of what is, after all, borne out by “ascertained
facts.” But it may well be that the latter have not the slightest
intention of denying the truth or value of those facts. For instance, they
see that a definite mental aptitude or predisposition is “inherited” in a
family, and that certain gifts accumulated and combined in one descendant
result in a remarkable personality. They are perfectly willing to
acquiesce when it is said that the most celebrated name seldom stands at
the beginning but at the end of a line of descent. But it should not be
taken amiss if they are compelled to form very different opinions on the
subject from those of people who are determined to accept nothing but
material evidence. To the latter it may be said that it is true a man
shows the characteristics of his ancestors, because the “spirit-soul”,
which enters upon physical existence at birth, draws its bodily substance
from that which heredity bestows on it. But this says nothing more than
that a being shows the peculiarities of the body into which it has

It is no doubt a singular—a trivial—comparison, but the unprejudiced
person will not deny its justification, when one says that a human being,
who shows the qualities of his forefathers, proves the origin of the
personal qualities of that human being as little as the fact that man is
wet because he has fallen into the water, proves something regarding his
inner nature. And it may further be said that if the most celebrated name
stands at the end of a line of family descent, it shows that the bearer of
that name needed that particular ancestry to build the body necessary for
the expression of his whole personality. But it is no proof that his
actual personal qualities were transmitted to him: such a statement is, on
the contrary, opposed to sound logic. If personal gifts were inherited,
they would be found at the beginning of a line of descent,(7) and starting
from that point be transmitted to the descendants. As, however, they stand
at the end, it is evident that they are _not_ transmitted.

Now it is not to be denied that those who speak of a spiritual causality
in life have contributed no less to bringing about confusion of thought.
Far too much generalizing and vague discussion comes from this quarter. To
say that a man’s personality is a combination of inherited characteristics
may certainly be compared with the assertion that the metal parts of a
watch have fitted themselves together. It must also be admitted that, with
regard to many assertions about a spiritual world, it is as though some
one said that the metal parts of a watch cannot put themselves together in
such a way as to enable the hands to move forward; some intelligence must
therefore be present to effect this forward movement. In face of such an
assertion, _he_ certainly builds on a far better foundation who says: “Oh!
I care nothing for your ‘mystical’ beings who move the hands forward. What
I want to know is the mechanical construction by means of which the
forward movement of the hands is achieved.” It is by no means a question
of merely knowing that behind a mechanism, a watch for instance, there is
an intelligence (the watchmaker); it can only be of importance to know the
ideas in the watchmaker’s mind which preceded the construction of the
watch. These thoughts may be rediscovered in the mechanism.

Mere dreaming and imagining about the supersensual only result in
confusion, for they are not calculated to satisfy opponents. The latter
are right in saying that such general allusions to super-physical beings
are not at all conducive to an understanding of facts. Of course, such
opponents might also say the same of the _exact_ statements of occult
science. But, in that case, it may be pointed out that the effects of
hidden spiritual causes are seen in manifested life. Let us assume for the
moment that what occult science asserts, proven by observation, is
correct:—that a man has gone through a time of purification after death,
and that during this period he has experienced in his soul how a certain
deed, performed by him in a former life, was a hindrance to his
progressive evolution. While he was undergoing this experience, the
impulse arose in him to make amends for that deed. He brings this impulse
with him into a new life and its presence produces a tendency in his
nature which draws him into conditions rendering the amendment
possible.—Taking into consideration a number of such impulses, we have the
cause for a man’s being born into an environment corresponding to his

We may deal in the same way with another assumption. Let us again accept
as correct the assertion of occult science that the fruits of a past life
are incorporated in man’s spiritual germ, and that the spirit-land in
which man finds himself, between death and a new life, is the region in
which these fruits ripen, and are transformed into talents and
capabilities which will appear in a new life and will form the personality
so that it appears as the effect of what was gained in a former life. It
will become evident to any one who accepts these hypotheses and, bearing
them in mind, surveys life impartially, that while, by their means, all
material facts may be appreciated in their full truth and significance, at
the same time everything becomes intelligible which, if only material
facts were relied upon, must forever remain incomprehensible to one whose
attention is turned toward the spiritual world. And more important still,
that illogical reasoning of the kind indicated above will disappear,
namely,—that because the most distinguished name in a line of descent
stands at the end of it, its bearer must have inherited his gifts. Life
becomes logically comprehensible through the supersensual facts
ascertained by occult science.

Yet another weighty objection may be raised by the conscientious seeker
after truth who desires to find his way to facts and has no experience of
his own in the supersensual world. It may be urged that it is inadmissible
to accept the existence of facts, of any kind, simply because by means of
them something may be explained which is otherwise unintelligible. Such an
objection is meaningless to one who knows the corresponding facts from
supersensual experience, and in later chapters of this book the path will
be indicated that may be followed in order to gain knowledge not only of
the spiritual facts herein described, but also of the law of spiritual
causation as a personal experience. Any one, however, who is not willing
to enter upon this path may find the above objection important; and what
can be said against it is also of value to one who is resolved to follow
the path indicated. For if it is received in the right spirit, it is the
very best preliminary step that can be taken on this path. It is perfectly
true that one ought not to accept a statement about which one is otherwise
ignorant merely because, by means of it, something otherwise inexplicable
can be explained, but in the case of alleged spiritual facts the matter is
different. If such statements are accepted, the intellectual consequence
is not only that, by their means, life becomes intelligible, but that
through admitting these hypotheses into the thought-world, experiences of
quite a new kind are induced.

Take the following case. Something befalls a man which causes him
extremely painful sensations. He may meet the situation in one of two
ways. He may submit to the occurrence as something affecting him
painfully, and abandon himself to the painful sensation, even becoming
absorbed in his grief; or he may meet it in another way. He may say: “It
is really I myself who in a former life set the force in motion which has
brought me into contact with this thing. I have really brought it on
myself.” He may then awaken in himself all the feelings which such a
thought brings in its train. It goes without saying that the thought must
be entertained with perfect seriousness, and with the utmost possible
force, if it is to have such consequences in the life of sensation and
feeling. One who succeeds in this will meet with an experience which may
be best illustrated by a comparison. Let us suppose that two men have each
a stick of sealing wax in his hand. One begins reflecting upon its inner
nature. These reflections may perhaps be very wise, but if the “inner
nature” did not show itself in any way, some one might easily retort:
“That is all imagination.” The other, however, rubs the sealing wax with a
woolen rag, and then shows that it attracts small particles. There is an
important difference between the thoughts which have passed through the
first man’s head and his reflections, and those of the second. The
thoughts of the first man had no actual result; those of the second have
called out a hidden force, consequently something real.

The same thing happens with regard to the thoughts of a man in whose mind
the idea arises that in a former life he has set going within himself the
force which causes him to experience a certain event. The mere conception
of this stirs up strength within him which enables him to face the event
in quite a different manner from that in which he would have met it
without entertaining such an idea. It dawns upon him that an event which
he would otherwise have looked upon as an accident was really a necessity
and he will immediately see that he had the right thought, because this
thought had the power to reveal the facts to him. If such inner processes
are repeated they will grow into a source of inner power and thus prove
their truth by their fruitfulness; and little by little, this truth is
found to be powerfully effective. Such processes have a salutary effect on
body, soul, and spirit,—nay, they help life forward in every way. Man
becomes aware that in this manner he takes the right position with regard
to life’s continuity; whereas, by taking into consideration only the one
life between birth and death, he is the victim of a delusion.

Such an entirely inner proof of spiritual causation can of course be
acquired only by each one for himself, in his own inner life. But it is in
every one’s power to have it. Those who have not acquired it certainly
cannot judge of its convincing force; but those who have acquired it can
scarcely entertain any further doubt in the matter. And there is no reason
for surprise that this should be so. It is only natural that what is so
wholly bound up with the constitution of man’s inmost being and
personality can be adequately proven only by inner experience. On the
other hand, it cannot be alleged that because such a matter corresponds to
inner experience it must therefore be settled by every one for himself,
and that it is no subject for occult science. It is certain that every one
must undergo the experience for himself, just as each must see for himself
the proof of a mathematical problem. But the path by which such an
experience may be gained is open to all, just as the method of proving a
mathematical problem is available to every one.

It ought not to be denied—apart from clairvoyant observation of
course—that by means of the force producing power of the corresponding
thoughts, the just cited proof is the only one which stands firm before
all unprejudiced logic. All other considerations are no doubt very
important, but in all of them there will be something on which an opponent
might seize as a point of attack. Surely one who has acquired a fairly
impartial way of looking at things will find something in the possibility
and actual fact of man’s education, which has the power of logical proof
that a spiritual being is struggling for existence within the sheath of
the body. He will compare animals with man and say to himself that at the
birth of the former there appears certain definite qualities and
capacities as something, decisive in itself, which plainly shows how it
has been designed by heredity and how it will unfold itself in the outer
world. We see how a young chicken carries out life’s functions in the
appointed way from its birth; but by means of education something comes
into touch with man’s inner life which is independent of any connection
with his heredity, and he may be in a position to assimilate the effects
of such external influences. The educator knows that such influences are
met by forces coming from man’s inner nature. If this is not the case, all
instruction and training are meaningless. The unprejudiced educator finds
the boundary line between inherited talents and those inner forces of the
man himself which shine through them and originate in former lives, to be
very sharply marked. It is true, we cannot bring forward such weighty
proofs for things of this kind as we can for certain physical facts, by
means of scales; but then these are just the intimate things of life, and
one who has the power to appreciate such impalpable proofs will find them
convincing—even more convincing than palpable reality.

That animals may be trained, and thus, to a certain extent, acquire
qualities and capacities by education, is no objection to one who is able
to see reality, for apart from the fact that transitional stages are met
with all over the world, the results of training an animal by no means
fade away with its individual existence, as is the case with a man. What
is more, the fact has been emphasized that faculties acquired by domestic
animals through intercourse with man are transmitted, that is to say,
continue in the species, not in the individual. Darwin describes how dogs
fetch and carry without having been taught to do so, or without having
seen it done. Who would make such an assertion with regard to human

Now there are thinkers whose observations have led them beyond the opinion
that a man is built by purely inherited forces from without. They rise to
the thought that a spiritual being, an individuality, exists before life
in the body, and fashions it; but many of them find it impossible to
conceive that there are repeated earthly lives, and that the fruits of
former lives are moulding forces during the intermediate state between two
lives. Let us take one instance from among the ranks of these thinkers.
Immanuel Hermann Fichte, son of the great Fichte, in his _Anthropology_
(p. 528) gives the observations which led him to the following conclusion:

“Parents are _not_ generators in the full sense of the word. They supply
organic substance, and not alone this, but also that intermediate element
of mental and sense nature which appears in temperament, colouring of
character, definite tendencies, and so on, the common source of which
proves to be ‘imagination’ in the wider sense indicated by us. In all
these elements of personality, the mingling and particular combination of
the souls of the parents is unmistakable; it is therefore a perfectly
well-grounded assertion that this combination is simply the result of
procreation, even if we regard procreation, as we must do, as really a
soul-process. But the real ultimate centre of the personality is just what
is lacking here; for a deeper and more searching observation reveals the
fact that even those peculiarities of disposition are but a covering and
an instrument for the containing of the individual’s really spiritual and
ideal capabilities, and are qualified to aid these in their development or
to hinder them, but in no wise able to originate them.” It is further
stated in the same work (p. 532): “Every individual pre-exists as regards
the fundamental form of his spirit, for no individual, from a spiritual
point of view, resembles another, just as no species of animal resembles
another species.”

These thoughts reach only far enough to allow a spiritual being to come
into the human body; but as the forces shaping such a being are not
derived from causes existing in former lives, it would be necessary that,
each time a fresh personality appears, a spiritual being should come forth
from a Divine First Cause. With this hypothesis there would be no
possibility of explaining the relationship which certainly exists between
the potentialities struggling out of man’s innermost being, and that which
is forcing its way thither from his external earthly environment during
life. Man’s innermost being, issuing in the case of each single person
from a Divine First Cause, would find what confronts him in earthly life
quite strange and foreign. Only then would this not be the case—as, in
fact, it is not—if there had already been a connection between the inner
man and the outer world, and if the inner man were not living in it for
the first time.

The unprejudiced educator may undoubtedly observe clearly that he
impresses the consciousness of his pupil with something taken from life’s
experiences which in itself is foreign to his merely inherited qualities,
but which, however, appears to him as if the work out of which these
experiences arise, had been done by him in the past. Only repeated lives
on earth, in conjunction with the facts set forth by occult science as
taking place in spiritual regions between two earthly lives,—only this
view can afford a satisfactory explanation of present human life looked at
from every side. I say expressly “present” human life, for occult
investigation shows that the cycle of earthly life certainly had a
beginning, and at that time man’s spiritual being, which later entered a
bodily frame, existed under different conditions. In the following chapter
we shall go back to this primeval condition of human existence. When it
has been shown, from the reports of occult science how human beings
received their present form in connection with the evolution of the earth,
it will also be possible to indicate more precisely how the spiritual germ
of man’s being descends from superphysical worlds into a bodily form, and
how the spiritual law of causation, or “human destiny,” is developed.


From the foregoing observations it will be seen that man’s being is built
up of four principles: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral
body, and the vehicle of the ego. The ego works within the three other
principles, and transforms them. By means of this transformation, are
formed on a lower level, the sentient-soul, the rational- or
intellectual-soul, and the consciousness-soul: on a higher level of human
existence, are formed the Spirit-Self, the Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man.
The relations existing between these human principles and the whole
universe are of a most varied character and their evolution is related to
that of the universe. By studying this evolution an insight is obtained
into the deeper mysteries of man’s being.

It is clear that human life is related in the most varied ways to the
environment or dwelling place in which it evolves. Physical science,
through the facts presented to it, has already been driven to the opinion
that the earth itself, man’s dwelling place in the broadest sense of the
word, has undergone evolution. Science points to former conditions of the
earth when man, in his present form, did not yet exist on our planet and
it shows how man has slowly and gradually evolved to his present condition
from primitive states of civilization. Physical science, therefore, comes
also to the conclusion that there is a connection between man’s evolution
and that of the heavenly body on which he lives—the earth.

Occult science traces this connection by means of a knowledge which
obtains its data from observation quickened by spiritual organs of
perception. It traces man backwards in his course of development, and the
fact becomes evident to occult science that the real inner spiritual being
of man has progressed through a series of lives on this earth. Occult
research arrives in this way at an epoch far back in the remote past, when
for the first time that inner being of man made its entry into “external
life” as we understand it. It was in this first earthly incarnation that
the ego began to function in the three bodies—the astral body, the etheric
or vital body, and the physical body; and it then carried over the results
of that activity into its next life.

If in our investigation we proceed backwards, in the manner indicated, as
far as that epoch, we discover that the ego finds an earth condition in
which the three bodies, physical, etheric, and astral, are already
developed and in which they bear a certain relation to each other. The ego
is, for the first time, united with the being composed of these three
bodies; and henceforth takes part in the further evolution of the three
bodies. Hitherto, up to the stage at which that ego came in touch with
them, they had evolved without a human ego.

Occult science must now go back still farther in its researches if it is
to answer the questions, “How did the three bodies reach that stage of
evolution at which they were able to receive an ego within them?” and “How
did that ego itself come into being and acquire the capacity for working
within these bodies?”

It is possible to answer these questions only when the gradual development
of the earth-planet itself is studied from the occult point of view. By
such investigation we arrive at a beginning of the earth-planet. That
method of examination which is based only on the facts of the physical
senses cannot arrive at conclusions concerning the beginning of the earth.
A certain point of view which avails itself of such conclusions arrives at
the result that everything material on the earth was formed out of a
primeval essence, or vapour. It is not the purpose of this work to enter
more fully into such conceptions of our planet’s origin; for in occult
science the important matter is not merely to inquire into the material
processes of the earth’s evolution, but first and foremost to discover the
spiritual causes lying behind what is material.

If we see before us a man raising his hand, we may consider his action in
two different ways: we may examine the mechanism of the arm and the rest
of the organism, in order to describe the process as it takes place from
the purely physical standpoint, or we may direct the spiritual vision to
what takes place in the man’s soul and there discover what constitutes the
inner motive for raising the hand. In this way an investigator, trained in
occult research, sees spiritual processes behind all the events of the
physical sense-world. In his eyes all transformations of the material part
of the earth-planet are manifestations of spiritual forces lying behind
what is material.

But if occult observation of this kind goes farther and farther back in
the life of the earth it comes to that point in evolution at which
material things first came into being. The material element is evolved out
of the spiritual. Up to this point the spiritual element was the only one
existing. By occult investigation the spiritual element is perceived, and
the observer can see how it becomes partly condensed, as it were, into
matter. We have before us a process which is taking place—on a higher
level—much as though we were observing a lump of ice being formed by
artificial means in a vessel of water. Just as we see the ice being
condensed out of what was previously only water, so may we, by means of
occult observation, watch the condensation of what was previously entirely
spiritual, so to speak, into material things, processes, and beings. In
this way the physical earth-planet was evolved out of a cosmic spiritual
essence; and everything that is combined materially with the earth-planet
has been condensed out of what was previously united with it spiritually.
We must not, however, think that _everything_ spiritual was at any one
time changed into material form; but, in the latter we have before us
merely the transformed portions of what was originally spiritual. Thus,
even during the period of material evolution, it is always Spirit that is
really the guiding and ruling principle.

It is obvious that the mode of thought which restricts itself to the
processes of physical sense—and to what reason is able to infer from
them—is incapable of expressing an opinion about the spiritual element of
which we are speaking. Let us assume that a being might exist to whose
senses ice would be perceptible, but not the finer condition of water,
from which ice is detached by refrigeration. For such a being, water would
be non-existent, and could become visible only when parts of it had been
transformed into ice. In the same way, the spiritual element behind
earthly processes remains hidden from one who only admits the existence of
what is perceptible to his physical senses. And if, from the physical
facts which he now perceives, he draws correct conclusions about earlier
conditions of the earth-planet, he can penetrate only as far as that point
in evolution at which the previous spiritual element was partially
condensed into material substance. Such a method of observation no more
discovers the spirit previously existing, than it perceives the spirit
which even now rules unseen behind the world of matter.

Not until we come to the last chapters of this work can we deal with those
methods by which man acquires the faculty of looking back, by means of
occult perception, upon those earlier conditions of the earth which are
now under discussion. For the present we shall merely intimate that the
facts concerning the primeval past have not passed beyond the reach of
occult research. If a being comes into corporeal existence his material
part perishes after physical death. But the spiritual forces, which from
out their own depth gave existence to the body, do not “disappear in this
way.” They leave their traces, their exact images behind them impressed
upon the spiritual ground-work of the world. Any one who is able to raise
his perceptive faculty through the visible to the invisible world, attains
at length a level on which he may see before him what may be compared to a
vast spiritual panorama, in which are recorded all the past events of the
world’s history. These imperishable traces of everything immaterial are
called in occult science the “Akashic Records.”

Here it must once more be repeated that investigations of the
supersensible realms of existence can be carried on only with the aid of
spiritual perception, and consequently can be instituted in the sphere now
under consideration, only by reading the Akashic Records above-mentioned.
Nevertheless, what was said earlier in this book in a similar instance
holds good here. Supersensible facts are only to be investigated by
supersensible perceptions; but once investigated and communicated by
occult science, they may be grasped by the ordinary powers of thought, if
these are honestly exercised without bias. In the following pages the
various conditions of the earth’s evolution, as given by occult science,
will be detailed. The transformation of our planet will be traced down to
the conditions of life in which we now find it. Any one who surveys what
comes before him at the present time merely through the evidence of his
senses, and then lends an ear to what occult science has to say on the
subject, namely:—how that which now lies before him has been evolved from
a far distant past,—will be able, if his thought is genuinely unbiased, to
say to himself: “In the first place, what occult science reports is quite
logical; in the second place, I can, if I assume the reports of occult
investigation to be correct, understand how things have become as they now
appear.” By “logical” is not meant, in this connection, of course, that
errors might not be made from a logical standpoint in some description
given by occult research. We are here speaking of “logic” as it is
understood in the ordinary life of the physical world. Just as a logical
demonstration is accepted there as it is in physical research, even though
a single investigator, in a certain domain of facts, may make illogical
statements, so is it also with regard to occult science. It may even
happen that an investigator who possesses the power of vision in
supersensible spheres may make mistakes in a logical presentment of them,
and may be corrected by another who has no supersensible perception, but
has, none the less, a capacity for sound thinking. In reality, nothing of
any weight can be said against the logical deductions of occult science.
And it ought to be unnecessary to insist that nothing can be adduced, on
purely logical grounds, against the facts themselves. In the domain of the
physical world it can never be proved by logic, but only by ocular
demonstration, whether or no there is such an animal as a whale;
similarly, supersensible facts can be known only through occult

But it cannot be sufficiently emphasized that an obligation is laid upon
the explorer of supersensible regions, before he determines to approach
the invisible worlds with his own power of perception, to acquire first of
all the aforementioned logical faculty, and this is none the less
essential if he recognizes that the world, manifest to his senses, will
become comprehensible if he accepts the communications of occult science
as correct. All experiences in the supersensible world are nothing but an
uncertain—nay, a dangerous—groping in the dark if we despise the method of
preparation which has been described. Therefore in this book the facts
concerning the supersensible processes of the earth’s evolution will first
be given, before the path leading to the attainment of supersensible
knowledge is dealt with.

We have also, it is true, to take into account that the man who, by sheer
thinking, comes to accept what supersensible research has to impart, is by
no means in the same position as one who listens to the account of a
physical occurrence which he is unable to see. For thinking is in itself a
supersensible activity. Materialistic thinking cannot of itself lead to
supersensible phenomena. But if thought is directed to supersensible
matters through the accounts given of them by occult science, it grows by
its own activity into the supersensible world. What is more, one of the
very best ways of acquiring supersensible perception is to grow into the
higher worlds by meditation upon what has been communicated by occult
science. For such a mode of entry insures great clearness of perception.
For this reason such thinking is regarded by a certain school of occult
investigation as a most valuable first step to take in occult training.

It will be readily understood that it is impossible to mention in this
book all the details of the earth’s evolution, as it has been spiritually
perceived by occultists, in order to illustrate the way in which the
supersensible world is reflected in the manifested. Nor was this what was
intended when it was said that the unseen may everywhere be demonstrated
by its manifest effects. It was meant rather that everything that man
encounters may, step by step, become clear and comprehensible if he brings
manifested events under the illumination of occult science. Only in a few
characteristic instances will reference be made in the following pages to
confirmations of the invisible by the manifest, in order to show how this
may be done everywhere in the course of practical life, if desired.


Pursuing the evolution of the earth backward according to the above method
of scientific spiritual investigations we arrive at a spiritual condition
of our planet. But if we go farther back along this path of research we
find that everything spiritual had previously passed through a kind of
physical incarnation. Thus we come upon a bygone physical planetary
condition, which was afterwards spiritualized, and subsequently
transformed into our earth by repeated materialization. Our earth is
therefore presented to us as the reincarnation of a very ancient planet.
But occult science can go back still farther; and it then finds the whole
process twice repeated. Thus, our earth has passed through three previous
planetary conditions separated by intermediate spiritual conditions of
rest. The physical substance, however, proves to be finer and finer the
farther back we follow the incarnations.

Now man, in the form in which he is at present evolving, makes his first
appearance upon the fourth of the planetary incarnations which have been
described, the Earth proper. And the essential characteristic of his form
is that it is composed of four principles, the physical, etheric, and
astral bodies and the ego. But that form could not have appeared if it had
not been prepared by the preceding events of evolution. The method of
preparation was that, in the earlier planetary incarnation, beings were
evolved who already had three of the present four principles of man: the
physical, etheric, and astral bodies. These beings who, in a certain
sense, may be called man’s ancestors, had as yet no ego, but they
developed the three other principles and their mutual relationship to such
a point that they became sufficiently mature to receive an ego. Thus man’s
ancestor attained to a certain degree of maturity of his three principles
during the earlier planetary incarnation. This condition became
spiritualized; and out of it a new planetary condition was formed in which
man’s matured ancestors were contained, as it were, in embryo. Because the
whole planet had passed through a process of spiritualization and had
appeared in a new form, it offered those embryos, with their physical,
etheric, and astral bodies, which were contained therein, not only the
opportunity of again evolving up to the level on which they had previously
stood, but the further possibility, after having arrived at that level, of
reaching out beyond themselves through receiving the ego.

The evolution of the Earth divides itself, therefore, into two parts.
During the first period the Earth itself appears as a reincarnation of the
previous planetary state. But that recurring state is a higher one than
that of the previous incarnation, in consequence of the intervening period
of spiritualization. And the Earth contains within itself the germs of
man’s ancestors belonging to the earlier planet. These were first
developed up to the level they had previously reached. The attainment of
this level marks the end of the first period. But now, owing to its own
higher stage of evolution, the Earth is able to carry the germs still
higher, that is, to qualify them for receiving the ego. The second period
of the Earth’s evolution is that of the development of the ego in the
physical, etheric, and astral bodies.

In the same way that man had been thus carried a stage farther by the
evolution of the Earth, so also had this been the case during the earlier
planetary incarnations. For man had in some measure existed as early as
the first of these. Light is therefore thrown on the present constitution
of man if his evolution is followed back to the far-remote past of the
first of the planetary incarnations mentioned above.

In occult science the first of these is called _Saturn_; the second is
termed _Sun_; the third, _Moon_; and the fourth is the _Earth_. It must be
distinctly understood that these occult terms are not to be in any way
associated with the names used to designate the members of the present
solar system.(8) In occult science Saturn, Sun, and Moon are merely names
for bygone forms of evolution through which the Earth has passed. In the
course of the following account it will be shown what relation these
worlds of remote antiquity bear to the celestial bodies composing the
present solar system.

The relationship of the four planetary incarnations previously mentioned,
can here be only briefly sketched; for the events, the beings and their
destiny on Saturn, Sun and Moon were in truth, just as varied as they are
on the Earth itself. Therefore only a few characteristics of these
conditions can be chosen to illustrate just how these earth conditions
have evolved out of earlier ones. In this connection, one should bear in
mind that the further back we go the more dissimilar to the present ones
do these conditions become. And yet they can only be described by making
use of ideas borrowed from existing conditions of the earth. If, for
instance, light, heat, etc., are mentioned in connection with these
earlier conditions, it must not be overlooked that they are not exactly
the same as that which we now term light and heat. And yet such
terminology is accurate, for the clairvoyant observer of earlier stages of
evolution perceives something that has developed into the light and heat
of the present time. And one who follows the descriptions thus given by
occult science will, from the inner relation of these things, easily be
able to form such perceptions as correspond to those events which have
taken place in a primeval past.

Of course there will be considerable difficulty in treating of those
planetary conditions which preceded the Moon incarnation. For during the
latter, conditions prevailed which bore, at least to a degree, some
resemblance still to earthly conditions. When one attempts to describe
these conditions one finds that such resemblances to the present time form
a certain basis on which may be expressed in clear concepts the
observations made through clairvoyance. It is quite different when the
Saturn and Sun evolutions are to be described. In that case, what lies
before clairvoyant observation is utterly different from the objects and
beings now belonging to the sphere of human life. And this difference
makes it exceedingly difficult to bring the corresponding facts of
primeval times within the scope of clairvoyant consciousness at all.

Since however the present constitution of man cannot be understood without
going back to the Saturn state, the description therefore must be given.
And surely no one will misunderstand such a description who keeps in view
the existence of the difficulty, and the fact that owing to it much that
is said must be in the nature of a suggestion or hint of the facts in
question, rather than an exact description of them.


The physical body is the oldest of the present four principles of man’s
being. It is also the one, which, in its way, has attained the greatest
perfection. Occult research shows that this part of man already existed
during the Saturn evolution. It will be shown in the following account
that the form taken by the physical body on Saturn was, of course,
something quite different from the present physical body of man. The
earthly physical human body, from its nature, can only exist by being in
connection with the etheric and astral bodies and the ego, in the manner
described earlier in this book. Such a condition did not as yet exist on
Saturn. The physical body was then passing through the first stage of its
evolution, without having a human etheric body, an astral body, or an ego
incorporated in it.

During the Saturn evolution it was growing ripe for the reception of an
etheric body. For that purpose Saturn had eventually to pass into a
spiritual condition, and then to be reincarnated as the Sun. During the
Sun incarnation the physical body developed again to the stage it had
reached on Saturn as from a germ brought over and only then could it be
inter-penetrated by an etheric body. By means of this incorporation of an
etheric body, a change took place in the nature of the physical body; it
was raised to a second stage of perfection. A similar thing took place
during the Moon evolution. Man’s ancestor, as he had developed himself
when passing from the Sun to the Moon, incorporated in himself the astral
body. As a result, the physical body was changed for the second time, and
thus raised to its third stage of perfection; at the same time the etheric
body was likewise changed, and passed to its second stage of perfection.
On the earth the ego was incorporated in man’s ancestor, now composed of
the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Thereby the physical body
reached its fourth stage of perfection, the etheric body its third, and
the astral body its second stage; the ego is only now at the first stage
of its existence.

If we give ourselves up to an unprejudiced examination of man’s nature,
there will be no difficulty in acquiring a correct idea of these different
stages of perfection of his separate principles. For this purpose we have
merely to compare the physical with the astral body. It is true, the
astral body, as a psychic principle, stands on a higher level of evolution
than the physical body. And in future ages, when the former has been
perfected, it will be of very much more consequence to man’s complete
being than the present physical body. Yet, in its own way, the latter has
reached a certain high degree of perfection. Consider the marvelous wisdom
with which the structure of the heart is planned, the amazing structure of
the brain—nay, even of part of a single bone, such as the upper end of the
thigh bone. In the end of this bone we find a net-work or scaffolding,
wonderfully constructed and composed of delicate spicules and lamellæ. The
whole is so arranged that with the least expenditure of material the most
effective action on the joint-surfaces is obtained—hence the most
efficient distribution of friction and a proper freedom of movement. Thus
wise arrangements are found in the parts of the physical body. And if we
go on to observe the harmonious co-operation of the part with the whole,
we shall find that it is certainly true that this principle of man’s being
is perfect and it does not affect the question that in certain parts
something apparently useless appears, or that disturbances of structure or
functions may take place. It will even be found that such disturbances are
in a way only the necessary shadows of the wisdom-filled light which is
poured out over the whole physical organism.

Now compare with this the astral body as the medium or vehicle of pleasure
and pain, desires and passions. What uncertainty rules in it with regard
to pleasure and pain; how the desires and passions, of which it is the
scene, run counter to the higher goal of man; how senseless they often
are. The astral body is only now on its way to attain the harmony and
inner poise already possessed by the physical body. Similarly it might be
shown that the etheric body is certainly more perfect in its own way than
the astral but less perfect than the physical body. And it will equally
result from a corresponding study of the ego that this, the real kernel of
man’s being, is now only at the beginning of its evolution. For how much
has already been accomplished of its mission, that of transforming the
other principles of man’s being in order that they may become a revelation
of the ego’s own nature?

The result of an outer examination of this kind is intensified for the
occult student by something else. It might be pointed out that the
physical body is attacked by diseases. Now occult science is in a position
to show that a large proportion of all diseases owe their origin to the
fact that the perverse actions and mistakes of the astral body are
transmitted to the etheric body, and indirectly through the etheric,
destroy the perfect harmony of the physical body. The deeper connection,
which can here be only hinted at, and the true cause of many of the
conditions of disease, elude that kind of scientific observation which
confines itself solely to the facts obtained by means of the physical
senses. The connection in most cases comes about in such a way that an
injury to the astral body does not cause manifestations of disease in the
physical body in the same incarnation in which the injury takes place, but
in a later one. Hence the laws now under consideration have a meaning only
for one who is able to admit that human earth-life is repeated again and
again. But even if deeper knowledge of this kind is rejected, ordinary
observation of life makes it plain that human beings indulge in far too
many pleasures and desires which undermine the harmony of the physical
body. And the seat of pleasure, desire, passion, is not in the physical
but in the astral body. The latter is still so imperfect, in many
respects, that it is able to destroy the harmony of the physical body.

It should also be mentioned here that such explanations as these are by no
means intended as proofs of the assertions of occult science about the
evolution of the four principles of man’s being. The proofs are drawn from
spiritual research, which shows that the physical body has behind it a
transformation, enacted four times, into higher degrees of perfection, and
that man’s other principles have been perfected to a lesser degree, as has
been described. It is desired merely to indicate here that these
communications made by spiritual research relate to facts which are
visible in their effects even to ordinary observation, in the degrees of
perfection reached by the physical body, etheric body, and so forth.


If we wish to draw an approximately true picture of the conditions
prevailing during the Saturn evolution, we must take into account the fact
that while it lasted, there were virtually, as yet, none of the things and
creatures existing which now belong to the earth and are included in the
mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. The beings of these three
kingdoms were formed during later periods of evolution. Of all the earthly
beings physically perceptible today, man alone existed at that time and of
him only the physical body existed as described. But there are at present
belonging to the earth not only the denizens of the mineral, vegetable,
animal and human kingdoms, but other beings as well, not manifesting in a
physical embodiment. Such entities were also present during the Saturn
evolution, and their activity on the Saturn scene of action brought about
the subsequent evolution of man.

If the organs of spiritual perception are directed, not to the beginning
and end, but to the middle period of evolution of this Saturn incarnation,
we find there a condition which consists principally of heat. Nothing is
to be found composed of gaseous, fluid, or even solid constituents. All
these states appear only in later incarnations. Let us assume that a human
being, with the present organs of sense, were to approach the Saturn
condition as a spectator. None of the sense-impressions possible to him
would confront him there except the feeling of warmth, or heat. Suppose
such a being approached this Saturn; he would only sense, upon entering
the space occupied by it, that it was in a different degree of heat from
the rest of surrounding space. But he would not find that portion of space
by any means equally warm throughout, for warmer and colder parts would
alternate in the most complicated manner. Radiating heat would be felt
along certain lines. And not only straight lines, but regular figures
would be formed by the variation in heat. Something like a cosmic being,
organically constructed in itself would be discerned, appearing in
changing conditions, and consisting only of heat.

It is difficult for a man of the present day to form an idea of anything
consisting only of heat, for he is not accustomed to think of heat as
something self-existent, but as a perceptible quality of warm or cold
gaseous, liquid, or solid bodies. To one who has adopted the physical
conceptions of our time it will seem particularly absurd to speak of heat
in the foregoing manner. He will, perhaps, say: “There are solid, liquid,
and gaseous bodies; but heat only denotes a condition assumed by one of
these three bodily forms. If the smallest particles of gas are in motion,
the movement will be felt by heat. Where there is no gas, there can be no
movement, consequently no heat.”

To an occult investigator the fact appears differently. To him heat is
something of which he speaks in the same sense as he speaks of gases, of
liquids, or of solid bodies. To him it is simply a still finer substance
than gas. And gas to him is nothing but condensed heat, in the same sense
that liquid is condensed vapour, or a solid body condensed liquid. Thus
the occultist speaks of heat bodies just as he does of bodies formed of
gas and vapour.

If we are to follow the spiritual investigator into this region, it is
however necessary to admit that there is such a thing as psychic
perception. In the world, as it presents itself to the physical senses,
heat appears entirely as a condition of solid, liquid, or gaseous bodies;
but that condition is merely the outward appearance of heat, or the effect
of it. Physicists speak only of this effect of heat, not of its inner
nature. Just let us try then to leave entirely out of consideration any
effect of heat received through external bodies, and to realize merely the
inner experience which comes from saying the words: “I feel warm,” “I feel
cold.” That inner experience is the only thing capable of giving an idea
of what Saturn was during its period of evolution described above. It
would have been possible to pass right through the portion of space it
occupied; no gas would have been there to exercise pressure, no solid or
liquid body from which light-impressions could have come; but at every
point of space occupied, one would have felt inwardly, without any
external impression: “Here there is such and such a degree of heat.”

In a cosmic body of this character there are no conditions for the animal,
vegetable, and mineral organisms of to-day.(9) The beings whose sphere of
action was this Saturn, were at quite a different stage of evolution from
that of the present inhabitants of the earth who are perceptible to the
senses. In the first place there were beings there who had no physical
body like that of contemporary man. We must also guard against thinking of
man’s present physical embodiment, when mention is made of a “physical
body” in this connection. We should instead carefully distinguish between
the physical and the mineral body. A physical body is one governed by the
physical laws which are now observable in the mineral kingdom. Now man’s
present physical body is not only ruled by those physical laws, but is
also permeated with mineral matter. There can be no question as yet on
Saturn of a physical-mineral body of this kind. There is only a physical
bodily form, governed by physical laws; but these laws are manifested only
through the agency of heat.

Therefore the physical body is a fine, subtle, ethereal heat body; and the
whole of Saturn consists of such heat bodies. They are the beginnings of
the present physical-mineral human body. The latter has been formed out of
the former, because there have become incorporated with the original body
the more recently formed gaseous, liquid, and solid substances.

Among the beings of which we are now speaking, who, besides man, were
inhabitants of Saturn, there were, for instance, some which did not need a
physical body at all. The lowest principle of their nature was an etheric
or vital body. On the other hand, they had one principle higher than the
human principles. Man’s highest principle is the Spirit-Man (Atma); these
beings have one still higher. And between the etheric body and the
Spirit-Man they have all the principles described in this treatise which
are also found in man: the astral body, ego, Spirit-Self, and Life-Spirit.
Just as our earth is surrounded by an atmosphere, so too was Saturn; only
in this case the “atmosphere” was of a spiritual nature. It really
consisted of the beings just named and some others. Now there was constant
reciprocal action between the heat bodies of Saturn and the beings we have
described. The latter projected the principles of their being down into
the physical heat bodies of Saturn. And while there was no life in those
heat bodies themselves, the life of their neighbours was expressed in
them. They might be compared to mirrors; only there were reflected in
them, not the images of the living beings mentioned above, but their
conditions of life. Therefore, although nothing living could have been
discovered in Saturn itself, yet it had a vivifying effect on its
environment in celestial space, because it reflected back into space, like
an echo, the life which had been sent down into it. The whole of Saturn
appeared as a mirror of celestial life. The very high beings, whose life
was reflected by Saturn, are called in occult science “Lords of
Wisdom.”(10) Their activity on Saturn was not just beginning in the middle
period of that evolution, which has been described; in a certain way it
had even then already ceased. Before they could be in a position to
rejoice in the reflection of their own life from Saturn’s heat bodies they
had to make those bodies capable of producing such a reflection. Therefore
their activity began soon after the beginning of the Saturn evolution.
When this happened, the body of Saturn was still chaotic material, which
could not have reflected anything.

And in contemplating this chaotic matter, one has transferred himself, by
spiritual observation, to the beginning of the Saturn evolution. What is
to be observed there does not as yet bear anything of the later character
of heat. If we wish to describe it, we can only speak of a quality which
may be compared with the human will. From first to last it is nothing but
“Will.” Therefore it is an entirely spiritual condition that meets us
here. If we ask whence came this “Will,” we see it proceeding from the
effluence of exalted beings, who brought their evolution, by steps only to
be dimly conceived, up to such a height that when the Saturn evolution
began they were able to pour forth “Will” from their own being. When this
effluence had lasted a certain time, the activity of the Lords of Wisdom
described above was combined with this Will. Through this means the will,
which had hitherto had no attributes, gradually received the quality of
reflecting life back into celestial space. In occult science the beings
who found their happiness in pouring forth will, at the beginning of the
Saturn evolution are called the “Lords of Will.”(11)

After a certain stage of the Saturn evolution had been reached, through
the co-operation of will and life, begins the influence of other beings,
who are also within Saturn’s environment. These are the “Lords of
Motion.”(12) They have no physical or etheric body. Their lowest principle
is the astral body. When the Saturn bodies have acquired the capacity for
reflecting life, the qualities which have their seat in the astral bodies
of the Lords of Motion interpenetrate that reflected life. In consequence
of this, it appears as though expressions of feelings, emotions, and
similar psychic forces had been cast out of Saturn into celestial space.
The whole of Saturn appears like one animated being, manifesting
sympathies and antipathies. These psychic manifestations, however, are by
no means its own, but merely the activity of the Lords of Motion reflected

This also having lasted for a certain period, there begins the activity of
yet other beings, that is, of the “Lords of Form.”(13) Their lowest
principle, too, is an astral body; but that body is at a different stage
of evolution from that of the Lords of Motion; whereas the latter
communicate only general manifestations of feeling to the reflected life,
the astral body of the Lords of Form operates in such a way that the
manifestations of feeling are flung out into cosmic space as if they came
from individual beings. It might be said that the Lords of Motion make the
whole of Saturn appear as an animated being. The Lords of Form separate
that life into individual living beings, so that Saturn now appears as a
conglomerate of such psychic beings.

Let us imagine, for the sake of illustration, a mulberry or blackberry,
made up, as it is, of small individual berries. In a similar manner, to
clairvoyant vision, Saturn, during the period of evolution now being
described, is made up of individual Saturn beings, which of course have
neither life nor soul of their own, but reflect the life and soul of its
denizens. Into this condition of Saturn now come beings whose astral body
is also their lowest principle, but who have brought it to such a high
stage of development that it operates in the same way as the present human
ego. Through these beings, the ego in the environment of Saturn looks down
on that planet, and imparts its nature to Saturn’s individual living
beings. Thus something is sent out from Saturn into cosmic space, which
has an effect similar to that of human personality in the present
conditions of life. The beings causing that effect are designated “Sons of
Personality.”(14) They confer on the Saturn bodies the appearance of
personality. Personality itself, however, is not present on Saturn, but
only, as it were, its reflected image, the shell or husk of personality.
The real personality of these spirits is in the environment of Saturn. As
a result of these Sons of Personality letting their essence stream back
from the Saturn bodies in the manner described, that fine substance is
bestowed on those bodies which has previously been described as heat. In
the whole of Saturn there is no subjectivity; but the Sons of Personality
recognize the image of their own subjectivity, when it streams out to them
from Saturn as heat.

When all this is taking place, the Sons of Personality are on the same
level on which man now stands. They are then passing through their “human”
period. In order to look at this fact with an unprejudiced eye, we must
imagine it possible for a being to be human without being in the exact
form in which man now exists. The Sons of Personality are “human beings”
on Saturn. They have as their lowest principle not the physical body, but
the astral body with the ego. Hence they cannot express the experiences of
their astral body in such physical and etheric bodies as those of
contemporary man; they not only _have_ an ego, however, but _are aware_ of
the fact, because the heat of Saturn brings that ego streaming back into
their consciousness. In fact, they are human beings under different
circumstances from those of earth.

As the Saturn evolution progressed, facts follow of a different kind from
those already related. Whereas everything hitherto was a reflection of
outer life and feeling, there now begins a kind of inner life. In the
Saturn world a life of light begins flickering here and there, and growing
dim again. A quivering glimmer is seen in some places, something like
flashes of lightning in others. The Saturn heat bodies begin to glimmer,
to sparkle, and even to emit rays. This stage of evolution having been
reached, there again arises the possibility for certain beings to develop
their activity. They are those known to occult science as “Sons of
Fire.”(15) Although these beings have an astral body, they are unable at
his particular stage of their existence to stir their own astral bodies;
they would not be capable of any feeling or emotion unless they could act
upon the Saturn heat bodies which have attained the stage of evolution
described. That action affords them the possibility of recognizing their
own existence from the effect which they produce. They cannot say to
themselves, “I am here”; but rather, “My environment causes me to be
here.” They have perceptions, and what they perceive is the light-effects
in Saturn which have been described. These are, in a certain manner, their
ego. This gives them a peculiar kind of consciousness. It is designated
“picture-consciousness.” It may be represented as having the nature of
human dream-consciousness, except that the degree of activity it enjoys
must be imagined as being very much greater than it is in human dreams,
and also that it is not a question of shadowy dream-pictures floating
hither and thither, but of pictures that have a real connection with the
play of light on Saturn.

During this reciprocal action between the Sons of Fire and the Saturn heat
bodies, the germs of the human sense organs begin their evolution. The
organs, by means of which contemporary man becomes cognizant of the
physical world, begin to shine in their first delicate ethereal outlines.
Human phantoms, displaying as yet nothing but the primeval light pictures
of the sense-organs, become discernible within Saturn to the clairvoyant
faculty of perception. Thus these sense-organs are the result of the
activity of the Sons of Fire; but they are not the only spirits who shared
in their creation. Other beings come upon the scene of Saturn at the same
time as these Sons of Fire,—beings so far advanced in their evolution that
they are able to make use of the germs of the human sense-organs for
beholding the cosmic events taking place in the Saturn life. They are the
“Lords of Love.”(16) If they were not there, the Sons of Fire could not
have the consciousness described above. They behold the events on Saturn
with a consciousness which makes it possible for them to convey these
events as pictures to the Sons of Fire. They themselves forego all the
advantages which might accrue to them from contemplating events on Saturn;
they renounce all joys and pleasures; they give up all these in order that
the Sons of Fire may come into possession of them.

A new period of Saturn’s existence succeeds these occurrences. Something
else is added to the play of light. If what here presents itself to
clairvoyant perception be reported, it may seem an absurdity to many.
Within Saturn, intermingled sensations of taste seem to be surging. Sweet,
bitter, sour, etc., are perceived throughout the interior of Saturn; while
without, in cosmic space, all this expresses itself as tone, as a kind of

In the course of these processes there are again certain beings who find
it possible to develop activity on Saturn. These are the “Sons of
Twilight, or Life.”(17) They enter into reciprocal action with the forces
of taste surging up and down within Saturn. By this means their etheric or
vital body attains a state of such activity that it may be called a kind
of metabolism. They bring life into the interior of Saturn. Hence
processes of nutrition and excretion take place. This inner life makes it
possible for yet other beings to come into the planet, the “Lords of
Harmony.”(18) They bestow a dim kind of consciousness on the Sons of Life,
which is even more vague and dim than the dream-consciousness of
contemporary man. It is of the kind that now comes to man in dreamless
sleep, and is, indeed, of such a low order that it does not, so to speak,
“enter into his consciousness.” Yet it is there. It differs from waking
consciousness in degree and also in its nature. Plants, too, have this
dreamless-sleep consciousness at the present time. Even though it does not
bring about any perceptions of an external world, in the human sense of
the word, yet it regulates the life processes and brings them into harmony
with the processes of the outer world.

This adjustment cannot be perceived by the Sons of Life at the stage of
Saturn’s evolution now being described; but the Lords of Harmony perceive
it, and therefore it is they who really do the adjusting. All this life is
enacted within the human phantoms already described. To clairvoyant vision
they consequently appear animated; yet their life is only a semblance of
life. It is the life of the “Sons of Life,” who, so to speak, make use of
the human phantoms in order to manifest themselves.

Let us now turn our attention to the human phantoms with their semblance
of life. During the Saturn period described, their form is constantly
changing. Sometimes they bear one aspect, sometimes another. In the
further course of evolution, their forms become more definite, and
occasionally permanent. This is due to their becoming interpenetrated by
the action of the Spirits described at the beginning of the Saturn
evolution,—the Lords of Will (the Thrones). The consequence is that the
human phantom itself is endowed with the simplest, dullest form of
consciousness. This must be thought of as still duller than the
consciousness of dreamless sleep. Under present conditions, minerals have
that consciousness. It brings the inner being into harmony with the outer
physical world. On Saturn it is the Lords of Will who regulate that
harmony. And thus man appears as a copy of the Saturn life itself. That
life which is on a large scale on Saturn, is at this stage on a small
scale in man. Thus the first germ is prepared for that which is still only
a germ in contemporary man the “Spirit-Man” (Atma). This dull human will
(within Saturn) is manifested to clairvoyant faculty by effects which may
be compared with odours. Outside in celestial space, there is a
manifestation like that of a personality, which however is not directed by
an inner ego but is regulated from without, like a machine. Those who
regulate it are the Lords of Will.

It will become evident, from a survey of the foregoing, that starting from
the previously described middle period of the Saturn evolution, the
following steps of that evolution can be characterized by comparing their
effects with the sense-perceptions of the present time. It might be said
that the Saturn evolution manifests as heat; then a play of light is
added; then an appearance of taste and sound; finally something emerges
which manifests within the interior of Saturn as sensations of smell, and
without, as a human ego acting mechanically.

What have the Saturn revelations to say about what preceded the heat
condition? Now this is something that cannot be compared with anything
accessible to outer sense-perception. A state of things precedes the heat
condition, which contemporary man experiences only in his inner being.
When he gives himself up to ideas which he forms in his own soul, without
having any inducement brought to bear on him by an external impression,
then he has something within himself which cannot be perceived by any
physical sense, but is only accessible to the perception of the higher
clairvoyant vision. Manifestations precede the heat condition of Saturn,
which can only be perceived by a clairvoyant. Three such conditions may be
mentioned: pure psychic warmth, not outwardly perceptible; pure spiritual
light, which is outward darkness; and lastly, something of a spiritual
essence which is complete in itself, and needs no outer being in order to
become self-conscious. Pure, inner heat accompanies the appearance of the
Lords of Motion; pure, spiritual light, that of the Lords of Wisdom; pure
inner being is linked with the first emanation of the Lords of Will.

Thus, with the appearance of heat on Saturn, our evolution comes forth out
of the inner life of pure spirituality into outwardly manifested
existence. It will be particularly difficult for present-day consciousness
to accept this, if it must be said in addition that at the same time, with
the advent of the Saturn heat condition, what we call “Time” also makes
its first appearance. That is to say, the previous conditions have nothing
to do with time. They belong to that sphere which may be called, in occult
science, “duration.” Consequently, everything that is said in this book
about the conditions existing in the “Sphere of Duration” must be
understood in such a way that when expressions referring to time
conditions are used, they are only to be accepted for the sake of
comparison and explanation. That which, in a certain sense, precedes
“time,” can be expressed in human language only by terms which imply the
idea of time. Even if we are aware that the first, second, and third
Saturn conditions were not enacted “one after the other,” in the present
sense of the word, yet we cannot do otherwise than describe them one after
the other. Indeed, in spite of their duration or coexistence in time, they
are so dependent on one another that this very dependence may be compared
with sequence, in time.

This indication of the first conditions of evolution on Saturn also throws
light on any further questions that may be asked as to the origin of those
conditions. From the purely intellectual point of view, it is, of course,
quite possible, when dealing with the source of anything, to inquire after
“the source of the source.” But in the face of facts, this is not
possible. A comparison, however, will help us to realize this. If we find
ruts on a road we may ask, “To what are they due?” And the reply may be,
“To a carriage.” It may further be asked: “Whence did the carriage come?
Whither is it going?” An answer founded on fact is again possible. We may
then proceed to ask, “Who occupied the carriage? What purpose had the
person in using it? What was he, or she, doing?” At last, however, we
shall reach a point at which inquiry by means of facts finds its natural
limit; and on inquiring further we get away from the original questions.
We only continue the inquiry mechanically, as it were.

In such matters as the one brought forward as a comparison, it is easy to
see where facts demand the end of the inquiry. It is not so evident when
we are face to face with great cosmic questions. But as the result of
really exact observation, it will nevertheless be seen that all inquiry as
to origins must come to an end at the Saturn condition portrayed above.
For we have reached a region in which beings and events are no longer
justified by that from which they proceed, but by themselves.

As a result of the Saturn evolution it appears that the human germ
developed up to a certain point. It attained the low, dim state of
consciousness described above. We must not imagine that its evolution does
not begin until the last of the Saturn stages. The Lords of Will carry on
their work through all conditions. Only the result is most striking to
clairvoyant perception in the last period. There is nothing like a fixed
boundary between the activities of the several groups of beings. If it is
said that the Lords of Will work first, then the Lords of Wisdom, and so
on, it is not meant that they are working only at that time. They are
working all through the Saturn evolution; only their activity can best be
observed during the periods specified. The several groups have, as it
were, the leadership at those times.

Thus the whole Saturn evolution appears as a working out of what streamed
forth from the Lords of Will through the Lords of Wisdom, Motion, Form,
and the rest. Through this process those spiritual beings themselves
experience evolution. For instance, after they have received their life
reflected back from Saturn, the Lords of Wisdom stand on a different level
than before. The result of that activity exalts the faculties of their own
being. The consequence is that, on the completion of such activity,
something similar to human sleep comes upon them. To their periods of
activity in connection with Saturn succeed other periods, during which
they live, as it were, in other worlds. At these times their activity is
withdrawn from Saturn. On this account clairvoyant perception sees an
ascent and a descent in the Saturn evolution that has been described. The
ascent lasts until the formation of the heat condition. Then, with the
play of light, the ebb-tide sets in. When the human phantoms have assumed
form through the Lords of Will, the spiritual beings have also gradually
withdrawn themselves. The Saturn evolution dies away; as a phase of
evolution, it disappears. A kind of resting pause occurs.

The human germ at the same time enters upon a state of dissolution; not,
however, a state in which it passes away, but one like that of a plant
seed, resting in the earth in order that it may ripen into a new plant.
Thus the human germ reposes, until a new awakening, in the depth of the
cosmos. And by the time the moment of awakening has arrived, the spiritual
beings described above have acquired, under other conditions, the
faculties by means of which they can further advance the human germ. The
Lords of Wisdom have, in their etheric body, gained the faculty not only
of enjoying the reflection of life as they did on Saturn, but of pouring
life forth from themselves, and endowing other beings with it. The Lords
of Motion are now as far advanced as were the Lords of Wisdom on Saturn.
Then the lowest principle of their being was the astral body; they now
possess an etheric, or vital body; and in a corresponding degree the other
spiritual beings have reached a further stage of evolution. All these
spiritual beings are therefore able to work at the further evolution of
the human germ in a different way than on Saturn.

But the human germ was dissolved at the end of the Saturn evolution. In
order that the more highly evolved spirit-beings might resume their work
where they had left it off, the human germ must once more briefly
recapitulate the stages through which it had passed on Saturn. This, in
fact, is what appears to clairvoyant faculties of perception. The human
germ comes forth out of its retirement and begins to develop by its own
ability, by means of the forces which had been implanted within it on
Saturn. It comes forth out of the darkness as a “being of Will,” and
assumes the appearance of life, of soul qualities, etc., up to that
mechanical manifestation of personality which it possessed at the end of
the Saturn evolution.


The second of the great periods of evolution that have been mentioned, the
“Sun period,” effects the raising of man’s being to a higher stage of
consciousness than that which it had attained on Saturn. Compared with
man’s present state of consciousness, the Sun condition might certainly be
termed “unconsciousness.” For it is approximately that condition which
contemporary man experiences during absolutely dreamless sleep. Or it
might be compared to the low degree of consciousness in which our
vegetable world now slumbers. For occult science there is no such thing as
unconsciousness, but only different degrees of consciousness. Everything
in the world is conscious.

In the course of the Sun evolution, the human being attains a higher
degree of consciousness through the incorporation within it of the
etheric, or vital body. Before this can take place the Saturn conditions
must be recapitulated in the manner described above. This recapitulation
has quite a definite meaning. That is to say, when the period of rest
which was spoken of in the foregoing statement has come to an end, that
which was formerly Saturn issues forth, out of “cosmic sleep,” as a new
celestial body, the Sun. But the conditions of evolution have meanwhile
changed. The spiritual beings, whose activity on behalf of Saturn we have
portrayed, have progressed onward into different conditions. Yet at first
the human germ appears on the newly formed Sun in the form it possessed on
Saturn. It has first of all so to transform the various stages of
evolution through which it has passed on Saturn that they may suit the new
conditions on the Sun. Consequently, the sun epoch begins with a
recapitulation of the occurrences on Saturn, adjusted to the changed
conditions of Sun life. Now when the human being has advanced so far that
the stage of evolution it reached on Saturn has been adapted to the Sun
conditions, the Lords of Wisdom already mentioned, begin to let the
etheric, or vital body, pour into the physical body. The higher stage
which man reaches on the Sun may therefore be characterized in this way:
the physical body, already formed in the germ-state on Saturn, is raised
to a second stage of perfection by becoming the vehicle of an etheric or
vital body. This last-named etheric body attains its first degree of
perfection on its own account during the Sun evolution. In order, however,
that the second degree of perfection for the physical and the first for
the etheric body may be reached, the intervention of still other
spirit-beings is necessary during the further course of the Sun life, in a
similar manner to that which has been described as taking place during the
Saturn stage.

When the Lords of Wisdom begin to stream forth their etheric body, the
Sun, previously dark, begins to shine. At the same time the first
appearances of inner activity are seen in the human germ; life has begun.
What had to be described as a semblance of life on Saturn now becomes
actual life. The influx lasts for a certain time, at the end of which an
important change for the human germ sets in—that is to say, it organizes
itself into two parts. Whereas up to this point the physical and etheric
bodies formed an intimately connected whole, the physical body now begins
to detach itself as a separate part. Yet even that separated physical body
is still pervaded by the etheric body. Therefore we have now to do with a
human being composed of two principles. One portion is a physical body
permeated by an etheric body; the other is an etheric body and nothing
else. This separation comes to pass, however, during a period of rest in
the Sun life. During this pause the shining, which had begun to appear,
dies away. The separation takes place during a “cosmic night,” as it were.
Yet this interval of rest is much shorter than the one between the Saturn
and Sun evolutions mentioned above. At the expiration of the rest period
the Lords of Wisdom work for a while on the two-fold being of man, just as
they had previously done on the undivided being. Then the Lords of Motion
begin their activity. They cause their own astral body to stream through
the human etheric body. By this means man acquires the capacity for
executing certain inner movements in the physical body. These movements
may be compared with those of sap in a plant of our own time.

The Saturn body consisted exclusively of heat substance. During the Sun
evolution that heat substance is condensed into a state which may be
compared with that of our present-day gas or steam. In occult science
“air” is the name ordinarily used for this condition. The first beginnings
of such a state are seen after the Lords of Motion have begun their
activity. The following spectacle is presented to clairvoyant
consciousness. Within the heat substance there appears something like
delicate formations which are set in rythmic motion by the forces of the
etheric body. These formations represent the human physical body at the
stage of evolution now attained by it. They are permeated through and
through with heat, and are also wrapped, as it were, in a heat envelope.
From a physical point of view, man’s nature may now be said to be composed
of heat structures with air forms embedded in them—the latter in regular
motion. Hence, if we wish to retain the foregoing comparison with a plant
of the present day, we must remember that it is not a solid plant organism
which we have to consider, but an air or gas form,(19) the movements of
which may be compared with the circulation of the sap in plants of to-day.

The evolution thus indicated continues. After a certain time another
interval of rest sets in; after this the Lords of Motion go on working
until their activity is supplemented by that of the Lords of Form. The
effect of the latter is that the gas structures, which before were
constantly changing, now assume lasting form. This, too, happens because
the Lords of Form cause their forces to flow in and out of the human
etheric body. When the Lords of Motion alone were acting on the gaseous
organisms, these were in perpetual motion, not keeping their form for an
instant. Now, however, they temporarily assume distinguishable shapes.
Again, after a certain period, there occurs a time of rest; and then once
more the Lords of Form continue their activity. But the conditions within
the Sun evolution are now entirely changed. For the point has been reached
when the Sun evolution has attained its zenith. This is the time at which
the Lords of Personality, who attained their human stage on Saturn, ascend
to a higher degree of perfection. They advance beyond the human stage;
they attain a form of consciousness which contemporary man does not yet
possess in his normal course of development on the earth. He will acquire
it when the earth—the fourth of the planetary stages of evolution—has
reached its goal and has entered upon the next planetary period. Then man
will not only perceive around him what his present physical senses enable
him to apprehend, but he will be able to see in images the inner psychic
conditions of the beings surrounding him. He will have a (clairvoyant)
picture-consciousness, although retaining complete self-consciousness.
There will be nothing dream-like or vague in his clairvoyance, but he will
perceive what is psychic, in pictures certainly, but in such a way that
these images will be the expression of realities, as physical colours and
sounds are now. Man, at present, can attain to this degree of clairvoyance
only through occult training, which will be treated later in this book.

Now this clairvoyance is attained by the Sons of Personality, as a gift of
their normal evolution, midway in the Sun period; and it is just on this
account that they become capable of acting on the newly formed etheric
body of man during the Sun evolution, in a way similar to that in which
they acted on the physical body on Saturn. Just as there the heat
reflected their own personality back to them, so do the gaseous organisms
now reflect back to them, in gleams of light, the images of their
clairvoyant consciousness. They clairvoyantly behold what is taking place
on the Sun. And this vision is by no means mere observation; it is as
though something of the force which mortals call love made itself felt in
the images which stream forth from the Sun. If a clairvoyant looks more
closely, he will find the cause of this phenomenon. Exalted beings have
blended their activity with the light that is being radiated from the Sun.
They are the Lords of Love (the Christian Seraphim) already mentioned.
Henceforth they act, together with the Sons of Personality, on the human
etheric, or vital body. By means of that activity the etheric body
advances a step farther along its path of evolution. It acquires the
capacity not only of transforming the gaseous forms within it, but of so
elaborating them that the first indications of a propagation of living
human beings appear. Emanations, so to speak, are driven out (as though
exuded) from the gaseous organisms that take on shapes resembling their

In order to describe the further course of the Sun evolution, reference
must be made to a fact in the formation of worlds which is of the greatest
possible significance. It is this,—that by no means every being attains
the goal of its evolution in the course of one epoch; there are some that
fall short of that goal. Thus, during the Saturn evolution, not all of the
Sons of Personality actually reached the human stage for which, as
described above, they were destined; and just as little did all the
physical human bodies, developed on Saturn, attain the degree of maturity
which qualifies them to become vehicles of an independent etheric body on
the Sun. The consequence is that beings and organisms are present on the
Sun which are not in harmony with their environment. These must now make
up, during the Sun evolution, for what they failed to attain on Saturn.
The following may, therefore, be clairvoyantly observed during the Sun
period. When the Lords of Wisdom begin their pouring in of the etheric
body, the Sun body is to some extent darkened. Structures are mingled with
it which, properly speaking, belong to Saturn. They are heat organisms
which are not able to condense themselves into air in the proper manner.
These are the human beings left behind in the Saturn stage. They are not
able to become vehicles of a normally developed etheric body.

Now the heat substance of Saturn, which has thus been left behind, splits
into two parts on the Sun. One part is absorbed, as it were, by human
bodies, and henceforward forms a kind of lower nature within man’s being.
Thus something, which really corresponds to the Saturn stage, is
incorporated in the bodily part of man on the Sun. Now just as the Saturn
body of man made it possible for the Sons of Personality to raise
themselves to the human stage, the Saturn part of man performs the same
office on the Sun for the Sons of Fire. They raise themselves to the human
stage by letting their forces flow in and out of the Saturn part of man,
as did the Sons of Personality on Saturn.

This also happens during the middle period of the Sun evolution. The
Saturn part of the human being is then so far matured that with its help
the Sons of Fire (Archangeloi) are able to pass through their human stage.
Another part of the Saturnian heat substance becomes detached and attains
an independent existence alongside of and among the human beings on the
Sun. This forms a second kingdom by the side of the human kingdom, a
kingdom which develops on the Sun only a perfectly independent physical
body, like a heat body. In consequence of this, the fully evolved Sons of
Personality are not able to direct their activity toward any independent
etheric body in the manner before described. But there were also certain
Sons of Personality left behind at the Saturn stage who fell short of the
human stage. A bond of attraction exists between them and the second Sun
kingdom which has become independent. They must now act toward the
backward kingdom on the Sun as their advanced brethren did on Saturn in
regard to human beings. The latter had only their physical body perfected
here. But there is no possibility on the Sun for such a work on the part
of the backward Sons of Personality. They therefore separate themselves
from the Sun body, and form an independent celestial body outside it. This
body, accordingly, withdraws from the Sun, and from it the backward Sons
of Personality act on the beings of the second Sun kingdom which have been
described. In this way two world-organisms have been formed out of the one
which was previously Saturn. The Sun has now in its environment a second
celestial body, one which exhibits a kind of re-birth of Saturn, a new
Saturn. From this Saturn the character of personality is conferred on the
second Sun kingdom. Therefore within this kingdom we have to do with
beings which have no personality on the Sun itself. Yet they reflect back
to the Sons of Personality on the new Saturn the special personality of
those spirits. Clairvoyant consciousness is able to observe among the
human beings on the Sun, heat forces which act upon the regular course of
Sun evolution, and in which the sway of the spirits described as belonging
to the new Saturn is to be seen.

We notice the following facts about man’s being during the middle period
of the Sun evolution. It is divided into a physical body and an etheric
body. Within these the activity of the advanced Sons of Personality plays,
conjointly with that of the Lords of Love. Now part of the backward Saturn
nature is mingled with the physical body. In this plays the activity of
the Sons of Fire. We now see in everything which the Sons of Fire effect
on the backward Saturn nature, the forerunners of the present human
sense-organs. It has been shown how these Sons of Fire were already at
work on the elaboration of the sense-germs in the heat substance on
Saturn. The first outline of the present human glands is to be recognized
in what is accomplished by the Sons of Personality conjointly with the
Lords of Love (Seraphim).

But the above described is not the whole of the activity of the Sons of
Personality dwelling on the new Saturn. They not only extend their
activity to the second Sun kingdom mentioned above, but they also
establish a kind of connection between that kingdom and the human senses.
The heat substances of this kingdom flow in and out of the germs of the
human sense-organs. By this means the human being on the Sun acquires a
kind of perception of the lower kingdom situated outside him. That
perception is naturally a dim one, closely corresponding to the dull
Saturn-consciousness previously described. And it consists essentially of
varied heat effects.

Everything here described as taking place in the middle of the Sun
evolution continues for a certain definite period. Then a time of rest
again occurs. After that, things continue for a while in the same manner
up to a certain point of evolution, at which the human etheric body is so
far matured that a united action of the Sons of Life (Angeloi) and the
Lords of Harmony (Cherubim) can set in. To clairvoyant consciousness,
certain manifestations now appear within man’s being, which may be
compared with perceptions of taste, and which are made known externally as
sounds. A similar thing has already been stated about the Saturn
evolution. But here on the Sun the processes relating to human beings are
more from within and are full of more independent life.

The Sons of Life thereby acquire that dim picture-consciousness which the
Sons of Fire had already attained on Saturn. In this the Lords of Harmony
are their helpers. They really behold clairvoyantly what is now being
enacted within the Sun evolution; only they give up all the results of
that contemplation, and the enjoyment of those revelations of Wisdom that
arise from it, and allow them to stream, like splendid visions of
enchantment, into the dream-like consciousness of the Sons of Life. The
latter again work these pictures of their visions into the etheric body of
man, so that it attains higher and higher stages of development.

Again an interval of rest ensues, again everything is awakened from
“cosmic sleep”; and after further lapse of time the human being is
sufficiently advanced to use its own forces. These forces are the same
that were poured forth into man’s being by the “Thrones” during the latter
part of the Saturn period. This human being now evolves an inner life,
which, in its manifestation to clairvoyant consciousness, may be compared
with an inner perception of smell. But outside, in the direction of
celestial space, man’s being is manifested as a personality, though not
one directed by an inner ego. It appears more like a plant with the
character of a personality. It has been stated that at the end of the
Saturn evolution personality is manifested somewhat machine like. And just
as then, the first germ was developed of that which still remains a germ
in contemporary man,—the Spirit-Man (Atma),—so at this point there is
formed a similar first germ of the Life-Spirit (Budhi).

When all this has continued for some time, an interval of rest again
occurs. Following this, as in previous instances, the activity of the
human being is resumed for a while. Then conditions commence, which mark a
new intervention of the Lords of Wisdom. By its means human nature becomes
capable of feeling the first traces of sympathy and antipathy for its
environment. In all this there is still no real sensation but only a
premonition of sensation. For the inner life-activity, which might be
characterized in its manifestation as perception of smell, is revealed
externally as a kind of primitive language. If the human being is inwardly
conscious of a useful smell—or taste, or glitter,—it is manifested
outwardly by a sound; and the same thing happens, in a corresponding way,
with an inwardly uncongenial perception. Through all the events described,
the real meaning of the Sun evolution for the human being is indicated.
The human being has reached a higher stage of consciousness than that of
the Saturn period. It is the consciousness of sleep.

After a time, the point of evolution is also reached at which the higher
beings connected with the Sun stage must pass into other spheres in order
to work out that with which they have endowed themselves by their work on
the human being. A long period of rest sets in, one similar to that
between the Saturn and Sun evolutions. Everything that has been perfected
on the Sun passes into a condition which may be compared with that of a
plant when its powers of growth are resting in the seed. But just as those
powers of growth appear again in a new plant, so does everything that was
living on the Sun come forth again, after the period of rest, from the
cosmic depths, to begin a new planetary existence.

The meaning of such a term of rest, or “cosmic sleep,” will readily be
understood if we will only direct our spiritual vision to one of the
orders of beings already mentioned, for instance, to the Lords of Wisdom.
They were not far enough evolved on Saturn to be able to ray forth an
etheric body from themselves. They were only prepared for this after they
had gone through their experiences on Saturn. During the rest (Pralaya)
they transform into actual capacity what has been previously only prepared
within them. Thus on the Sun they are evolved far enough to pour forth
life from themselves, and to endow the human being with an etheric body of
its own.


After the interval of rest, that which had previously been the Sun comes
forth again out of the “cosmic sleep.” That is, it again becomes
perceptible to the clairvoyant faculties which had been able to observe it
before, but had lost sight of it during the resting period. There are now
two points to be observed with regard to the newly appearing planetary
organism, which may, in occult science, be denoted the “Moon” (and this
must not be confused with that portion of it which is now the earth’s
moon). In the first place, that which had detached itself during the Sun
period as a “new Saturn” is once more within the new planetary body. This
Saturn has therefore been again united with the Sun during the term of
rest. Everything which was in the original Saturn reappears at first as
one world-organism. Secondly, the human etheric bodies which had been
formed on the Sun have been absorbed, during the resting period, by that
which constitutes the spiritual sheath of the planet. At this point of
time, therefore, they do not make their appearance united with the
corresponding physical human bodies, but these latter at first appear
separately. They contain everything which had been gained for them on
Saturn and the Sun, but they are without the etheric, or vital body.
Indeed, they cannot incorporate that etheric body within themselves
immediately, for it has also been passing, during the period of rest,
through an evolution with which they are not yet harmonized.

What occurs at the beginning of the Moon evolution, in order to bring
about this adjustment, is, first of all, another recapitulation of the
Saturnian events. The physical part of man passes once more through the
stages of the Saturn evolution, but under greatly altered circumstances.
On Saturn there were only the forces of a heat body at work within him;
now there are also those of the gas body that has been elaborated. These
latter forces do not, however, appear quite at the beginning of the Moon
evolution. Then everything appears as though man’s being were composed
only of heat substance, and as though the gas forces were lying dormant
within that substance. Then comes a time when the first indications of
these forces make their appearance; and lastly, in the latest period of
the Saturn recapitulation, man’s being has the same appearance as during
the animated period of his Sun existence. Yet, all life still proves to be
but a semblance of life.

Next occurs a period of rest similar to the short periods of rest of the
Sun evolution. Then the pouring in of the etheric body, for which the
physical body has now become ripe, begins anew. As in the case of the
recapitulation of Saturn, this influx takes place in three distinct
periods. During the second of these, man’s being is so far adjusted to the
new Moon conditions that the Lords of Motion are able to bring into play
the faculty they have acquired. This faculty consists in pouring the
astral body out of their own being into man’s being. They prepared
themselves for this work during the Sun evolution, and during the time of
rest between the Sun and Moon they transformed what had been prepared into
the faculty alluded to. This influx lasts for a while, then one of the
shorter intervals of rest sets in. After that the influx continues until
the Lords of Form begin their activity. In consequence of this pouring of
the astral body into the human being by the Lords of Motion, man acquires
his first psychic qualities. He begins to develop sensations in connection
with the processes which take place within, through the possession of an
etheric body, and which during the Sun evolution were still of a
plant-like nature; these processes now give him sensations of pleasure and
displeasure. But it is nothing more than a constant inner ebb and flow of
such pleasure and displeasure, until the Lords of Form intervene. Then
these changing feelings are so transformed that there appear in man’s
being what may be regarded as the first signs of wish or desire. The human
being strives after a repetition of what has once caused pleasure, and
tries to avoid what has been felt as antipathetic. However, since the
Lords of Form do not give up their own nature to the human being, but
merely let their forces stream in and out, desire is wanting in depth of
feeling and independence. It is directed by the Lords of Form, and has an
instinctive character.

The human physical body on Saturn was a heat body; on the Sun a
condensation into the gaseous state, or into “air,” has taken place. Now,
as during the Moon evolution, the astral element is rayed into the
physical part, which at a definite moment attains a further degree of
condensation and arrives at a state which may be compared with that of a
liquid substance of today. In accordance with the usage of occult science
this state may be called “water.” By water, is not meant only the water we
now have, but this term applies to every liquid form in existence. The
physical human body now gradually assumes a form composed of three kinds
of material structures. The densest is a “water body”; through this flow
air currents; and all of this again is permeated by manifestations of

Now all the organisms do not attain full, adequate maturity during the Sun
stage. Therefore there are organisms to be found on the Moon which are
only at the Saturn stage, and others which have only reached the Sun
stage. In this way two other kingdoms arise by the side of the normally
evolved human kingdom. One consists of beings which have stopped short at
the Saturn stage, and therefore have only a physical body, which even on
the Moon is not yet able to become the vehicle of an independent etheric
body. This is the lowest of the Moon kingdoms. A second consists of beings
which have been left behind at the Sun stage, and which therefore do not
mature sufficiently on the Moon to take on an independent astral body.
These form a kingdom between the one just mentioned and the regularly
developed human kingdom.

But there is still something else taking place: The substances containing
only heat forces and those containing only air forces, permeate these
human beings. Thus it happens that the latter have within them on the Moon
both a Saturnian and a solar nature. In this way a kind of cleavage has
taken place in human nature; and by means of this cleavage, something very
momentous is called forth within the Moon evolution after the activity of
the Lords of Form has begun. The first evidences of a cleavage in the
cosmic body of the Moon becomes then apparent. One part of its substances
and beings separates from the other; two heavenly bodies are formed out of
one. One of these becomes the abode of certain higher beings who were
previously more closely connected with the undivided celestial body; while
the other is occupied by human beings, the two lower kingdoms described
above, and certain higher beings who did not pass over to the first
celestial body.

The first heavenly body, with the higher beings, appears like a reborn but
refined Sun; the other is really the new formation, the “old Moon.” The
regenerated Sun, on going out, takes with it only “heat” and “air” from
the substances which have been formed on the Moon; on what is left as the
Moon there is the liquid condition as well as the other two substances. As
a result of this separation the beings which have withdrawn with the
newborn Sun are not, in the first place, hampered in their further
evolution by the denser Moon beings. Thus they are able to continue their
own progress without hindrance. But thus they attain just that much more
power to act now upon the Moon beings from their Sun. And they in turn
also acquire thereby new possibilities of evolution. Most important of
all, the Lords of Form are still in union with them. These accentuate the
passions and the desire-nature, and this expresses itself gradually also
in a further condensation of the physical human body. What was previously
nothing but liquid in that body assumes a densely viscous form; and the
air-like and heat-like formations are correspondingly condensed. Similar
processes take place in the two lower kingdoms.

The result of the separation of the Moon-body from the Sun-body is that
the former bears the same relation to the latter as the Saturn-body once
did to the whole cosmic evolution surrounding it. The Saturn-sphere was
formed out of the body of the “Lords of Will” (the Thrones). From out its
substance emanated back into cosmic space everything which the
above-mentioned spiritual beings in the environment of Saturn experienced.
And this radiation by degrees awakened independent life, by means of the
subsequent processes. All evolution is due to the fact that independent
beings differentiate themselves from their environment, then this
environment like a reflection stamps itself upon those differentiated
beings who then evolve further independently. The Moon-body, having
likewise separated from the Sun-body, reflects at first the life of the
latter. If nothing further had then happened, the following cosmic process
would have taken place: There would have been a Sun-body in which
spiritual beings adapted to that body would have lived through their
experiences in the elements of heat and air.

Set over against this Sun-body would have been a Moon-body, in which other
beings of like nature with the Sun-beings would have undergone their
experiences in the conditions of heat, air, and water. The progress from
the Sun-incarnation to that of the Moon would have consisted in the
Sun-beings seeing their own life, as in a reflection of the events on the
Moon. They would have thus been able to enjoy it, something which they
were still incapable of doing during the Sun incarnation. But evolution
did not remain at this stage. Something occurred which was of the deepest
significance for all future evolution. Certain beings adapted to the
Moon-body, take possession of the element of will (the heritage of the
Thrones) which was at their disposal, and by its means develop a life of
their own, which takes shape independently of the Sun-life. Alongside of
those Moon experiences which are entirely under the influence of the Sun,
there arise independent Moon experiences, and, at the same time, states of
rebellion or mutiny against the Sun-beings. And the various kingdoms which
had arisen on the Sun and Moon, first and foremost of which was the
kingdom of man’s ancestors, are drawn into these conditions. In this way
the Moon-body contains within it, spiritually and materially, two kinds of
life: one that is in inner union with the Sun-life, and another which has
“fallen away” from it and goes its own way independently. This division
into a twofold life appears in all subsequent events of the Moon

What presents itself to clairvoyant consciousness in this period of
evolution may be realized from the following pictures. The whole basic
mass of the Moon is formed of a semi-animated substance which at one time
moves sluggishly, at another quickly. This is not yet a mineral mass like
the rocks and constituents of the earth upon which present day humanity
walks. We might call it a kingdom of plant-minerals, only we have to
imagine that the main body of the Moon consists wholly of this
plant-mineral substance, as the earth today consists of rock, soil and
other substances. Just as now we have towering masses of rock, so there
were then harder portions embedded in the Moon’s bulk; these may be
compared with hard wooden structures or formations of horn; and as plants
now arise out of mineral soil, so the surface of the Moon was covered and
penetrated by the second kingdom, consisting of a kind of plant-animal.
Their substance was softer than the general mass of the Moon, and more
mobile. This kingdom extended over the other, like a viscous sea.

Man himself at that time may be called animal-man. He had in his nature
the component parts of the other two kingdoms; but his being was
thoroughly interpenetrated by an etheric and an astral body, upon which
the forces of higher beings worked, issuing from the severed Sun. His form
was thus brought to greater perfection. While the Lords of Form were
giving him a form which adapted him to Moon life, the Sun-Spirits were
giving him a nature which lifted him beyond that life. He had the power of
ennobling his own nature with the faculties given him by these Spirits,—in
fact, of raising what was akin to the lower kingdoms to a higher level.

Seen spiritually, the events now under consideration may be described in
the following way. Man’s ancestor had been brought to greater perfection
by beings who had fallen away from the Sun kingdom. This improvement
extended especially to everything that could be experienced in the element
of water. Over that element the Sun-beings, who were rulers in the
elements of heat and air, had less influence. The consequence of this was
that in the organism of man’s ancestor two kinds of beings manifested
themselves. One part of the organism was wholly interpenetrated by the
influences of the Sun-beings. In the other part, the rebellious
Moon-beings were operative. Owing to this, the latter part was more
independent than the former. In the former there could only arise states
of consciousness in which the Sun-beings lived; in the latter there lived
a kind of cosmic consciousness, such as was typical on Saturn, only now
upon a higher level.

Man’s ancestor consequently felt himself to be an “image of the universe,”
whereas his “Sun-part” felt itself to be only an “image of the Sun.” The
two beings now came to a kind of conflict in man’s nature. A settlement of
this conflict was brought about by the influence of the Sun-beings,
through which the material organism which made the independent universal
consciousness possible, was rendered frail and perishable. From time to
time this part of the organism had to be thrown off. During and also some
time after the separation, man’s ancestor was a being wholly dependent on
the Sun influence. His consciousness became less independent; he lived
within it, entirely surrendered to Sun-life. Then the independent portion
of the Moon was once more renewed. After some time this process was
repeated. Thus man’s ancestor lived on the Moon in alternating conditions
of clearer and duller consciousness; and the alternation was accompanied
by a change of his being in a material respect. From time to time he laid
aside his Moon-body and resumed it later. Seen physically, great variety
appears in the kingdoms of the Moon above mentioned. The mineral-plants,
plant-animals and animal-men are differentiated into groups. This will be
understood when it is borne in mind that as a result of certain organisms
having been left behind at each of the earlier stages of evolution, forms
possessing most varied qualities took physical shape. There are formations
still retaining the qualities of the early Saturn period, others showing
those of the middle period and again others of the closing period of
Saturn. A similar statement is true of all the stages of the Sun

As organisms belonging to the evolving planet are left behind, so is it
also with certain beings connected with that evolution. Through the
progress of evolution up to the Moon period, different grades of such
beings have already arisen. There are the Sons of Personality who not even
on the Sun have attained their human stage; but there are also others who
then caught up with evolving humanity. A number of the Sons of Fire, who
should have attained humanity on the Sun, fell behind. Now, just as during
the Sun evolution certain of the Sons of Personality withdrew from the Sun
and caused the reappearance of Saturn as a separate body, so it also
happens that in the course of the Moon evolution the beings described
above separate and form individual celestial bodies. So far we have
mentioned only the separation into Sun and Moon; but for the reasons
already given, other world-organisms detached themselves from the
Moon-body, which made its appearance after the great interval between the
Sun and Moon.

After a certain time we have a system of cosmic bodies the most advanced
of which, as can easily be seen, must be called the New Sun. And just such
a bond of attraction as was described above for the evolution as existing
between the backward Saturn kingdom and the Sons of Personality on the new
Saturn, is formed between each of these bodies and the corresponding
Moon-beings. It would take us much too far to follow up in detail all the
celestial bodies that come into existence. It must suffice to have pointed
out the reason why a succession of them arises by degrees from the
undivided world-organism which appears as Saturn at the beginning of human

After the intervention of the Lords of Form, on the Moon, evolution
proceeds for a while in the manner described. At the end of this time
there is again a pause. While it lasts, the coarser portions of the three
Moon kingdoms are in a sort of resting state, but the finer parts, in
particular the human astral body, extricate themselves from those coarser
organisms. They reach a condition in which the higher forces of exalted
Sun-beings are able to act upon them very powerfully. After the interval
of rest they again interpenetrate those parts of man’s being which are
composed of the coarser substances. Because they received such powerful
forces during the pause—in a free state—they are able to make those
coarser substances ripe for the influence, after a certain time, of the
Sons of Personality and the Sons of Fire, who have progressed normally.

In the meantime these Sons of Personality have raised themselves to a
level upon which they possess the “consciousness of inspiration.” Here
they are not only able—as was the case with clairvoyant
picture-consciousness—to observe the inner state of other beings in
images, but to apprehend the inner nature itself of those beings, as
though in a spiritual tone-language. But the Sons of Fire have risen to
that height of consciousness possessed on the Sun by the Sons of
Personality. Thus both kinds of spirits are able to influence the now more
developed life of the human being. The Sons of Personality act on the
astral body, the Sons of Fire on the etheric body of this human being. The
astral body thereby acquires the character of personality. It now not only
experiences pleasure and pain, but relates them to itself. It has not
arrived at a complete ego-consciousness, that says to itself, “I am here”;
but it feels itself upheld and protected by other beings in its
environment. When looking, as it were, up to these, it is able to say,
“This, my environment, keeps me alive.”

The Sons of Fire now work upon the etheric body. Under their influence the
movement of forces in that body becomes more and more an inner function of
life. What then results finds physical expression in a circulation of
fluids and in phenomena of growth. The gaseous substances have become
condensed into liquid substances; we may speak of a kind of nutritive
process, in the sense that what is received from without becomes
transformed and elaborated within. Perhaps if we think of something
intermediate between nutrition and respiration in the present meaning of
the terms, we may get an idea of what then happened in this respect. The
nutritive matter was drawn from the animal-plant kingdom by the human
being. We must think of those animal-plants as floating or swimming—or
even lightly attached in an element surrounding them, as the lower animals
of the present time live in water, or land animals in air. Yet the element
is neither water nor air in the present sense, but something midway
between the two, a kind of thick vapour in which most heterogeneous
substances move hither and thither, as though dissolved in currents
flowing in all directions.

The animal-plants appear only as condensed regular forms of this element,
often differing little physically from their environment. The process of
respiration exists alongside of the process of nutrition. It is not as it
is upon the earth, but like a drawing in and a streaming out of heat. To
clairvoyant observation it is as though during those processes, organs
opened and closed, through which a warming current passed in and out, and
through which airy and watery substances were also carried in and out. And
since man’s nature at this stage of evolution already possesses an astral
body, respiration and nutrition are accompanied by feelings, so that a
sort of pleasure ensues when materials which promote the upbuilding of
man’s nature are taken in from without. Aversion is caused if injurious
substances flow in, or even if they merely approach.

Just as during the Moon evolution the respiratory and the nutritive
processes were closely connected, as has been described, so was the
process of perception in close connection with reproduction. No immediate
effect was produced on any of the senses by the things and beings in the
environment of Moon humanity. Perception was, on the contrary, of such a
nature that the presence of things and beings called up pictures in the
dull, dreamy consciousness. These pictures were much more closely
connected with the real nature of the environment than the present
sense-perceptions, which record in colour, sounds, smell etc., so to
speak, only the outside of things and beings.

In order to get a clearer idea of the human consciousness on the Moon, let
us imagine human beings immersed in the vaporous environment described
above. Most varied processes take place in this vapour-element. Materials
unite, substances break asunder one from the other; some parts become
condensed, others rarified. All this happens in such a way that human
beings do not see or hear anything of it directly, but it calls up
pictures in their consciousness. These may be compared with the images of
our present dream-consciousness, as for instance when an object falls to
the ground, and a sleeping man does not discern what has really happened
but perceives it in the form of a picture; let us say he thinks that a
shot has been fired. However, the pictures in the Moon-consciousness are
not arbitrary, as is the case with such dream-pictures; although they are
symbols, not representations, yet they correspond with outer events. A
definite outer event can call up only one definite picture. The Moon-being
is therefore in a position to regulate his conduct by means of these
pictures, as present-day man does by means of his perceptions. We must
nevertheless be careful to notice that conduct, regulated by perception,
is governed by choice whereas action, under the influence of the pictures
we have described, takes place as if prompted by some dim instinct.

It is by no means as though only outer physical processes become
perceptible through this picture-consciousness, but it is through the
pictures that the spiritual beings, who rule behind the physical facts
together with their activities, become likewise perceptible. Thus the
Lords of Personality become visible, so to speak, in the phenomena of the
animal-plant kingdom; the Sons of Fire appear behind and in the
mineral-plant beings; and the Sons of Life appear as beings whom man is
able to imagine unconnected with anything physical,—whom he sees, as it
were, as etheric-psychic organisms.

Though these pictures of the Moon-consciousness were not representations,
only symbols of outer things, they nevertheless had a much more important
effect on the inner nature of man than the images now caused by
perception. They were able to set the whole inner being into motion and
activity. The inner processes were moulded in conformity with them. They
were genuine formative forces. Man’s being became what those formative
forces made it; it became, to a certain extent, a representation of the
events of its consciousness.

The further evolution progresses in this manner, the more it results in a
deeply incisive change in man’s being. The power issuing from the pictures
in the consciousness gradually becomes unable to extend over the whole
human bodily frame, which divides into two parts, or two natures. Members
are formed subject to the shaping influence of the picture-consciousness,
and they become to a great extent a copy of that life of imagination in
the way just described. Other organs escape such an influence. They are,
as it were, too dense, too much determined by other laws, to conform
themselves to the picture-consciousness. These organs withdraw from the
human influence; but they come under another, that of the exalted
Sun-beings themselves. A period of rest, however, is first seen to precede
this stage of evolution. During this pause, the Sun-Spirits are gathering
force to influence the Moon-beings under quite new circumstances.

After this term of rest, man’s being is distinctly divided into two
natures. One of these is withdrawn from the independent action of the
picture-consciousness; it assumes a more definite form, and comes under
the influence of forces which, though issuing from the Moon body, are only
called forth there through the influence of the Sun-beings. This part of
the human being shares more and more in the life which is stimulated by
the Sun: the other part rises, like a kind of head, out of the first one.
It is flexible, can move itself, and takes shape in conformity with the
life of dull human consciousness. Yet the two parts are closely connected
with each other; they send one another their vital fluids, and members
extend from one into the other.

An important harmony is now attained by the working out, during the time
in which all this happened, of such a relation between the Sun and Moon as
is in keeping with the aim of this evolution. It has already been
intimated in a former passage how the advancing beings throughout their
stages of evolution, shape their celestial bodies from out the general
cosmic mass. They emanate, as it were, the forces which govern the
aggregation of the substances. The Sun and Moon have thus separated from
each other, as was necessary for the preparation of the right abodes for
their respective beings. But this regulation of material and its forces by
the spirit is carried very much farther. The beings themselves condition
as well, certain movements of the heavenly bodies, and the definite
revolutions of them around each other. In consequence, those bodies occupy
changing positions with regard to each other. And if the position or
situation of one body relative to another is altered, the effects of their
respective inhabitants upon each other also change. So it is with the Sun
and Moon. Through the movement of the Moon around the Sun, which by this
time had come about, the human beings come alternately at one time more
into the sphere of the Sun’s influence, at another they are turned away
from it and are then thrown back more on their own resources. The movement
is a consequence of the “fall” of certain Moon-beings, as already
described, and of the settlement of the conflict which was thereby brought
about. It is the physical expression of the new relation of spiritual
forces created by this falling away. As a consequence of the rotation of
the one sphere round the other the beings inhabiting these heavenly bodies
experience the alternating conditions of consciousness above described. We
may put it thus, that the Moon alternately turns its life toward the Sun
and away from it. There is a Sun time and a planetary time and during this
latter, the Moon-beings develop on the side of the Moon which is turned
away from the Sun.

It is true however, that so far as the Moon is concerned, in addition to
the movement of the celestial bodies, still something else must be
considered. That is to say, clairvoyant consciousness, on looking back,
can plainly see the Moon-beings wandering around their own planet, at
quite regular periods of time. Thus at certain times they seek localities
where they can give themselves up to the Sun influence; at other periods
they wander to places where they are not subject to that influence, and
where they can, as it were, reflect upon their own being.

In order to complete the picture of these events, we must further notice
that the Sons of Life attain their human stage during this period. Man’s
senses, the beginnings of which already existed on Saturn, cannot even
yet, on the Moon, be used for his own perception of external objects. But
at the Moon stage those senses become the instruments of the Sons of Life,
who make use of them in order to perceive through them. These senses,
belonging to the physical human body, enter thereby into reciprocal
relations with the Sons of Life, by whom they are not only used but

Through the changing relations of the Sun, there appears now in the human
being himself, as has been already indicated, a change in the conditions
of life. Things so shape themselves that when the human being is dominated
by the Sun influence, he devotes himself more to the Sun life and its
phenomena than to himself. At such times he feels the greatness and glory
of the universe; he, so to speak, absorbs them. Those very exalted beings
who dwell on the Sun then influence the Moon, which again influences human
beings. This influence, however, does not extend to the whole of man, but
chiefly to those parts which have thrown off the influence of their own
picture-consciousness. It is then that especially the physical and the
etheric bodies attain a definite size and form. On the other hand, the
phenomena of consciousness retire into the background. But when the human
being is turned away from the Sun, it is occupied with its own nature; an
inner activity begins, especially in the astral body while the outer form,
on the contrary, becomes more insignificant, and less perfect in form.

Thus during the Moon evolution there are two states of consciousness to be
clearly distinguished, alternating with each other; duller during the Sun
period and clearer during the time when life is left more to its own
resources. The first state though duller, is on the other hand more
unselfish; man then lives a life more devoted to the outer world, to the
universe. It is an alternation of states of consciousness, which on one
hand may be compared with the alternation of sleeping and waking in
present day humanity, as well as with his life between birth and death, on
the other hand with the more spiritual existence between death and a new
birth. The awakening on the Moon, when the Sun period gradually ceases,
might be described as something intermediate between the awakening of
contemporary man each morning, and his being born. And in the same way the
gradual dulling of consciousness at the approach of the Sun period
resembles a condition midway between falling asleep and dying. For on the
old Moon there was not yet such a consciousness of birth and death as man
now possesses. Man gave himself up to the enjoyment of the universe in a
kind of Sun life. During this period he was carried beyond his own life;
he lived more spiritually. We can only attempt an approximate description,
by way of comparison, of what man experienced during such times. He felt
as though the forces of the universe were streaming into him, pulsing
through him. He felt as though intoxicated with the harmonies of the
universe which he thus experienced.

As such times his astral body was as though set free from the physical
body; also part of the etheric body went with it out of the physical body.
This organism, consisting of the astral and etheric bodies, was like a
delicate, wonderful musical instrument, from the strings of which the
mysteries of the universe reverberated. And the members of that part of
the human being on which consciousness had but slight influence were
shaped in accordance with the harmonies of the universe. For the
Sun-beings worked in those harmonies. Thus this part of man was given its
form by the spiritual sounds of the universe; and at the same time the
alternation between the clearer state of consciousness during the Sun
period, and the duller one, was not so abrupt as was that between the
waking state and that of absolutely dreamless sleep in contemporary man.
The picture-consciousness was not so clear as the present waking
consciousness; but on the other hand, the other consciousness was not so
dull as the dreamless sleep of the present day.

Thus the human being had a conception, even though dim, of the play of the
cosmic harmonies in his physical body and in that part of his etheric body
which had remained united with the physical body. During the time when, so
to speak, the Sun did not shine on humanity, the picture-concepts replaced
these harmonies in man’s consciousness. There was then a revival
particularly of those parts of the physical and etheric bodies which were
under the immediate power of consciousness. On the other hand, other parts
of the human being, now not exposed to the formative forces streaming from
the Sun, underwent a kind of hardening and drying up process. When the Sun
period again drew near, the old bodies decayed; they fell away from the
human being, and as though from the grave of his old bodily form, the
rejuvenated human being appeared, who even in this new form, was still

A renewal of the life-process had taken place. By the operation of the
Sun-beings and their harmonies, the new-born body shaped itself again in
its perfection, and the process described above was repeated. Man felt
that renewal as if it were the putting on of new garments. The kernel of
his being had not passed through an actual birth or death; it had only
passed from a spiritual tone-consciousness, in which it was given over to
the outer world, to one of a more inner nature. It had sloughed off its
skin. The old body had become useless; it was thrown off and renewed. This
then more clearly describes what has been characterized above as a kind of
reproduction, and which as has been said, is closely connected with
perception. Man’s being has brought forth his likeness with respect to
certain parts of the physical and etheric bodies. However a being totally
different from the parent being does not come into existence, but the
kernel of the parent-being passes over into the offspring. No new being
arises, but the same one in a new form.

Thus the Moon human being experiences a change of consciousness. When the
Sun period draws near, his pictured images become dimmer and dimmer, and
blissful devotion takes possession of him; the harmonies of the universe
resound in his peaceful inner being. Toward the end of this time the
images of the astral body begin to be animated; he begins to be more
conscious of himself and able to experience sensation. Man experiences
something like an awakening from the bliss and tranquility in which he was
wrapped during the sun period.

At the same time another important experience begins. With this new
clearing up of the picture-consciousness the human being sees himself as
though enveloped in a cloud, which has descended upon him like a being
from the cosmos.

And he feels that being as something belonging to him, as a completion of
his own nature; he feels it as that which gives him existence, as his
“ego.” That being is one of the Sons of Life. Man feels toward him
somewhat like this: “I have lived in this being, even when I was given up
to the glory of the universe in the Sun period,—only then he was not
visible to me; now he is.” And it is also this Son of Life from whom
proceeds the force which, during the Sunless period, acts upon the body of
man. Then when the Sun period again approaches, man feels as though he
himself became one with the Son of Life. Even if man does not see him, he
nevertheless feels closely united with him.

Now the connection with the Sons of Life was such that not every
individual human being had a Son of Life to himself, but an entire group
of people felt such a being belonging to them. Thus people on the Moon
lived segregated into groups, and each group felt in one of the Sons of
Life its common “group-ego.” The etheric body of each particular group had
a specific form, in this way these groups differed from each other. But as
the physical bodies shaped themselves in conformity with the etheric
bodies, the differences of the latter were also stamped upon the former;
and the individual groups of human beings appeared as so many species of
people. As the Sons of Life looked down on the human groups belonging to
them, they saw themselves to a certain extent reproduced in manifold
individual human beings. And therein they felt their own egohood. They, so
to speak, mirrored themselves in man. This was indeed the mission of the
human senses at that time. It has already been shown that the senses did
not as yet transmit objective perceptions. But they reflected the nature
of the Sons of Life. What those Sons of Life perceived through reflection,
gave them their “ego-consciousness.” What was aroused in the human astral
body by this reflection was the dull dim pictures of the
Moon-consciousness. By thus acting conjointly and reciprocally with the
Sons of Life, the human beings laid the foundations of the nervous system
within their physical bodies. The nerves appear, one might say, as
continuations of the senses, directed inwardly into the human body.

It is evident, from this description, in what manner the three kinds of
Spirits, those of Personality, of Fire, and of Life, act upon
Moon-humanity. If we look back upon the most important, namely the middle
period of the Moon evolution, we may say that the Sons of Personality are
at that time implanting in the human astral body independence and the
character of personality. It is owing to this fact that man can turn his
attention inwards and work upon himself during those times when the Sun is
not shining upon him.

The Sons of Fire act upon the etheric body in so far as the independent
formation of the human being becomes imprinted upon it. Through their
means it comes to pass that human beings are again conscious of
themselves, as such, every time the body is renewed. Thus a kind of memory
is bestowed on the etheric body through the Sons of Fire.

The Sons of Life act on the physical body in such a way that it is able to
become the expression of the astral body which has now become independent.
They thus make it possible for the physical body to become a physiognomic
copy of its astral body. On the other hand, higher spiritual beings, in
particular the Lords of Form and of Motion, reach down into the physical
and etheric bodies, as far as these are developing during the Sun periods,
regardless of the independent astral body. Their intervention comes from
the Sun, in the manner described above.

Under the influence of such facts, the human being gradually matures to a
point where it can develop within itself the germ of the Spirit-Self just
as during the second half of the Saturn evolution it developed the germ of
the Spirit-Man and on the Sun that of the Life-Spirit. Thereby all the
Moon conditions are changed. Human beings have not only become more noble
and refined through successive transformations and renewals, but they have
also gained in power. For this reason the picture-consciousness was more
and more maintained during the Sun periods. It also gained influence in
the formation of the physical and etheric bodies, which hitherto had been
formed entirely by the action of the Sun-beings.

What took place on the Moon through human beings and the Spirits connected
with them became more and more like that which had formerly been effected
by the Sun with its higher beings. The consequence was that those
Sun-beings were able more and more to concentrate their forces on their
own evolution. By this means the Moon became, after a time, mature enough
to be again re-united with the Sun. To spiritual vision, these occurrences
take place as follows: The “rebellious Moon-beings” had been gradually
overcome by the Sun-beings and compelled to submit to them in such a
manner, that their activities became a part of and subordinate to the
activities of the Sun-beings. It is true that this happened only after the
lapse of long ages during which the Moon periods had become shorter and
shorter, and the Sun periods longer and longer. Now there again comes an
evolution during which the Sun and Moon form one world-organism. By this
time the physical human body has become quite etheric.

When it is said that the physical body has become etheric, it must not be
imagined that under such circumstances there is no existing physical body.
What was formed as a physical body during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon
periods, still exists. It is important to recognize the physical element
even where it is not externally and physically manifested. It may also be
present in such a way that it shows outwardly an etheric or even an astral
form. We must distinguish between the outward appearance and the inner
law. What is physical may become etheric and astral, at the same time
retain in itself the physical law. That is the case when the physical body
of man has attained a certain degree of perfection on the Moon. It becomes
etheric in form.

But when clairvoyant observation, which can perceive such things, is
directed toward an etheric body of this kind, that body is seen to be
ruled by physical, not etheric, laws. The physical element has in this
case been taken into the etheric world, there to rest and to be nurtured
as though in a mother’s tender care. Later it again emerges in a physical
form, but at a higher stage. If Moon-humanity had kept its physical body
in its coarse physical form, the Moon would never have been able to unite
itself with the Sun. By accepting the etheric form, the physical body
becomes more closely related to the etheric body, and by this means can
again be more closely interpenetrated with those parts of the etheric and
astral bodies which had been forced to withdraw from it during the Sun
periods of the Moon evolution. Man, who appeared as a being with a
two-fold nature during the separation of Sun and Moon, again becomes an
undivided being. The physical becomes more psychic. Therefore the psychic
also becomes more closely connected with the physical.

Now the Sun-Spirits, into whose immediate sphere this undivided human
being has entered, are able to act upon it in quite a different manner
from their previous influence from without on the Moon. Man is now in a
more psycho-spiritual environment. Owing to this, the Lords of Wisdom are
able to effect something momentous. They imbue and inspire him with
wisdom. He thereby becomes in a certain sense an independent soul. And to
the influence of these beings is added that of the Lords of Motion. They
act principally on the astral body, so that under their influence it
produces psychic activity, and an etheric body filled with wisdom. The
latter is the foundation of that which has been described above as the
rational or intellectual soul in contemporary man, whereas the astral
body, inspired by the Lords of Motion, is the germ of the sentient soul.
And because all this is effected in man’s being in his progressed
condition of independence, these germs of the rational and sentient soul
appear as the expression of the Spirit-Self. In this connection the
mistake must not be made of thinking that at this period of evolution the
Spirit-Self was something separate from the intellectual and sentient
souls. The latter are only the expression of the Spirit-Self, which
signifies their higher unity and harmony.

It is especially significant that the Lords of Wisdom intervene at this
period in the manner described. For they do this not only with regard to
humanity but also for the benefit of the other kingdoms which have been
elaborated on the Moon. Upon the reunion of Sun and Moon these lower
kingdoms are drawn into the Sun sphere. Everything in them which was
physical becomes etheric. There are, therefore, minela-plants and
plant-animals now in the Sun, just as there is humanity there. But those
other creatures are still endowed with their own laws of being. They
therefore feel like strangers in their environment. They came upon the
scene with a nature but little in harmony with their surroundings. But as
they have become etheric, the activity of the Lords of Wisdom may also
extend to them. Everything which has come from the Moon into the Sun now
becomes pervaded with the forces of the Lords of Wisdom. Hence what is
developed out of the Sun-Moon organism during this period of evolution may
be called in occult science the “Cosmos of Wisdom.”

When, therefore, after an interval of rest, our Earth system appears as
the successor of this Cosmos of Wisdom, all the beings newly emerging on
the earth, developing out of their Moon-germs, prove to be filled with
wisdom. And this is the reason why earthly man when contemplating the
things around him, is able to discover the wisdom concealed in their inner
nature. The wisdom in each leaf of a plant, in every bone in animal and
man, in the marvelous structure of the brain and heart, fills us with
admiration. If man requires wisdom to understand things, and therefore
gathers wisdom from them, this shows that there is wisdom in the things
themselves. For however much man might have striven to understand things
by means of wise perceptions, he could not draw wisdom from them unless it
had first been put into them. He who tries by means of wisdom to
understand things, assuming at the same time that wisdom had not first
been concealed within them, may just as reasonably believe that he can
empty water out of a glass into which it has not first been poured. As
will be shown later in this book, the Earth is the “old Moon” risen again.
And it appears as an organism full of wisdom, because it was permeated by
the Lords of Wisdom and their forces during the epoch that has been

It will easily be understood that this description of the Moon condition
could take account only of certain temporary forms of evolution. It was
necessary to pause at certain things in the progress of events, and single
them out for delineation. It is true that this kind of description gives
only isolated pictures, and it may be deplored for this reason, that in
the foregoing account the evolutionary scheme was not brought down to a
system of precise and definite concepts. But in the face of such an
objection it may be well to point out that the description was
intentionally given in less clearly defined outlines. For it is not of so
much consequence here to give speculative ideas and to construct theories
as to represent what really passes before the spiritual eyes of
clairvoyant consciousness, when looking back upon these events. With
regard to the Moon evolution this cannot be done in such sharp and
definite outlines as are characteristic of earthly perceptions. In the
Moon period we are mainly concerned with variable, changing impressions,
with shifting, moving pictures and their transitory stages. We have,
moreover, to bear in mind that we are contemplating an evolution
continuing through long, long periods of time, and that out of all that
presents itself, it is possible to seize upon only momentary pictures and
fix them for delineation.

The Moon period actually reached its highest point at the time when the
astral body, implanted in man, had brought him so far along the
evolutionary path that his physical body afforded the Sons of Life the
possibility of attaining their human stage. Man had then attained all that
this epoch could give him for himself, for his inner nature on the upward
path. The following, or second half of the Moon evolution may therefore be
termed the “ebb-tide,” or wane. But even during this ebb-tide one sees a
most important thing taking place with regard to man’s environment, and
even with regard to himself. It is now that wisdom is implanted in the
Sun-Moon body. It has been shown that during the ebb-tide the germs of the
intellectual and sentient souls are implanted. But the development of
these, as well as of the consciousness-soul and with it the birth of the
“Ego”—the free self consciousness—does not ensue until the Earth period.

At the Moon stage the intellectual- and sentient-souls have as yet no
appearance of being used by human beings as a means of expression; they
appear rather as instruments of those Sons of Life who belong to humanity.
Were we to describe the feeling of the human dweller on the Moon in this
respect, we should have to say that he experiences the following: “The Son
of Life lives in and through me; he surveys through me the environment of
the Moon; in me he reflects upon the things and beings of that
environment.” The Moon human being feels himself overshadowed by the Son
of Life, and looks upon himself as the instrument of that higher being.
During the time of the separation of Sun and Moon he felt a greater
measure of independence when the Sun was turned away from him; but at the
same time he also felt as though the ego belonging to him, which had
disappeared from the picture-consciousness during the Sun period, now
became visible. It was, for Moon-humanity, what may be described as a
change in the states of consciousness, so that the Moon-being had this
feeling: “In the Sun period my ego wafts me away into higher regions, into
the presence of exalted beings, and when the Sun disappears it descends
with me into lower worlds.”

The actual Moon evolution was preceded by a preparatory stage. In a
certain way the Saturn and Sun evolutions were recapitulated. Now, after
the reunion of Sun and Moon, during what we have termed the ebb-tide, two
epochs may be distinguished one from the other. In the course of these,
even physical condensation occurs to a certain degree. Therefore
psycho-spiritual conditions of the Sun-Moon organism alternate with others
of a more physical nature. In such physical epochs human beings and those
of the lower kingdoms appear as though they were preparing, in stiff not
yet self-reliant forms, the type of what they were to become in a more
independent manner during the Earth period. We may therefore speak of two
preparatory epochs in the Moon evolution, and of two others during the
ebb-tide. In occult science such epochs may be termed cycles.(20) In that
period which follows the two preparatory epochs, and precedes those of the
ebb-tide—that is to say, during the time of the separation of the
Moon—three epochs can again be distinguished. The middle period is the
time when the Sons of Life reached the human level. It is preceded by a
period in which all conditions lead up to that crowning event; and it is
followed by one which may be called a time of adaptation and of perfecting
the new creations.

In this way the middle period of the Moon evolution is again divided into
three epochs, which, with the two preparatory periods and the two during
the ebb-tide make up seven Moon cycles, or rounds. It may therefore be
said that the whole Moon evolution passes through seven cycles, or rounds.
Between them are intervals of rest, which have been mentioned repeatedly
in the above description. Yet we can approach a true concept of these
facts only if we do not think of the changes between the periods of
activity and those of rest, as sudden ones. For instance, the Sun-beings
little by little withdraw their activity from the Moon. A time begins for
them which, viewed from without, appears to be their resting period,
whereas in reality an intense, independent activity still continues on the
Moon itself. Thus the active period of one kind of being repeatedly
extends into the resting time of another. If we take account of such
things we may speak of a rhythmic ascent and descent of forces in cycles.
Indeed, similar divisions are to be recognized even within the seven Moon
cycles mentioned. We may then call the whole Moon evolution one great
cycle, and the seven divisions, or rounds, within it, “small” cycles; and
again, the separate parts of these, “smaller” cycles. This systematic
arrangement into seven times seven divisions is also noticeable in the Sun
evolution and can be indicated during the Saturn period. Yet we must bear
in mind that the boundaries between the divisions are somewhat obliterated
even in the Sun, and still more so in Saturn. These boundaries become more
and more defined the nearer evolution advances to the Earth period.


At the close of the Moon evolution, which has been sketched in the
foregoing pages, all the beings and forces connected with it enter upon a
more spiritual form of existence. This is on quite a different plane from
that of the Moon period, and also from that of the Earth evolution which
follows. A being possessed of faculties so highly developed as to enable
him to perceive all the details of the Moon and Earth evolutions need not
necessarily be able to see what happens during the interval between the
two periods. For one possessing such vision, beings and forces would, at
the end of the Moon period, disappear, as it were, into nothingness; and
after an interval they would issue forth again from the dusky twilight of
the cosmic depths. Only a being endowed with considerably higher faculties
would be capable of following up the spiritual events which take place
during this interval.

When this interval is over, the beings who took part in the evolutionary
processes on Saturn, Sun, and Moon reappear endowed with new faculties.
Beings of a higher order than man have, by their former achievements, won
the power of bringing man’s evolution forward to a point at which he would
be able to unfold in himself, during the Earth period, a form of
consciousness which stands a step higher than the picture-consciousness he
had possessed during the Moon period. But man must first be prepared to
receive this gift.

During the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions, he incorporated within his
being the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. But those bodies were only
endowed with such faculties and powers as enabled them to have a
picture-consciousness; the organs and forms by means of which they could
attain to a cognizance of a world of outer sense-objects, such as is
requisite for the Earth stage, were still wanting. Just as the new plant
unfolds only what is concealed in the seed originating from the old plant,
so do the three principles of man’s nature appear, at the beginning of the
new stage of evolution, with such forms and organs as will enable them to
develop only a picture-consciousness. It is necessary first to prepare
them for the unfolding of a higher state of consciousness.

This takes place in three preliminary stages. During the first, the
physical body is raised to a level at which it becomes able to undergo the
necessary remodeling which is to serve as a basis for consciousness of
outer objects. This is one of the preliminary stages of the actual earth
evolution, and may be called a recapitulation of the Saturn period on a
higher level. For during this period, as during the Saturn period, higher
beings are working only on the physical body. When the latter has
progressed far enough in its evolution, all beings must first again pass
into a higher form of existence before the etheric body can also progress.
The physical body must, as it were, be recast, in order to be able, in its
remodeled state, to receive the more highly constituted etheric body.
After this interval devoted to a higher form of existence, a kind of
recapitulation of the Sun evolution on a higher level, occurs for the
purpose of shaping the etheric body. And after another interval, a similar
thing occurs for the astral body, by means of a recapitulation of the Moon

Let us now turn our attention to the evolutionary processes taking place
after the close of the third recapitulation described. All beings and
forces have passed again into a state of spiritualization. During that
state they ascended into higher worlds. The lowest of the worlds, in which
something of them is still to be perceived during this spiritualizing
epoch, are the same in which contemporary man sojourns between death and a
new birth. These are the regions of the spirit-world. Thence the beings
and forces gradually descend again into lower worlds. Before the physical
Earth evolution begins they have so far descended that their lowest
manifestations are to be seen in the astral or psychic world.

Everything human existing at that period is still in its astral form. In
order to understand this condition of humanity, attention should be paid
especially to the fact that though man has within him the physical,
etheric and astral bodies, yet the physical and etheric bodies are not
present in their own forms but in astral form. It is not physical form
that makes the physical body physical, but the fact that it embodies
physical laws, although possessing an astral form. It is a being in a
psychic form with a physical law of existence. The etheric body is in a
similar position.

To spiritual vision the Earth at this stage of evolution appears at first
as a heavenly body all soul and spirit, in which, therefore, even physical
and life forces appear in a psychic form. In this world-organism
everything which will subsequently be moulded into the creatures of the
physical earth is contained in a germinal state. The globe is luminous;
but its light is not yet such as could be seen by physical eyes, supposing
even that they had then existed. The globe shines only in psychic light to
the opened vision of the seer.

A process now takes place on this globe which may be designated
“condensation.” The result of this is that after a time a fiery form
appears in the midst of the psychic globe; this condition was similar to
that of Saturn in its densest state. This fiery form is interpenetrated by
the action of the various beings who are taking part in the evolution. The
reciprocal action which is to be observed between those beings and the
planetary body is like a rising out of and a diving into the earth’s fiery
globe. Hence the earth’s globe is by no means a homogeneous substance, but
has somewhat the character of an ensouled and spiritualized organism. The
beings destined to become human on the earth in man’s present form are as
yet in a condition which renders them the least capable of sharing in the
activity of plunging into the fiery globe. They remain almost entirely in
the uncondensed environment. They are still living in the bosom of the
higher spiritual beings. At this stage they come in contact with the fiery
earth at only one point of their psychic form, and this causes one part of
their astral form to be densified by the heat. Thus earth-life is
enkindled in them. They therefore still belong to psycho-spiritual worlds
with regard to the greater part of their nature, but by coming in contact
with the earth’s fire, vital heat plays around them.

If we wish to draw a material, yet supersensible, picture of these human
beings in the very beginning of the earth’s evolution, we must imagine a
psychic ovoid, or egg, contained within the circumference of the earth,
and enclosed on its lower surface, as an acorn is by its cup. The
substance of the cup, however, consists solely of heat or fire. The
process of being enveloped by heat not only causes the kindling of life in
the human being, but a change appears simultaneously in the astral body.
In this body becomes incorporated the first germ of what afterwards
becomes the sentient-soul. We may therefore say that man at this stage of
his existence consists of the sentient-soul, the astral body, the etheric
body, and the physical body, which latter is formed out of fire. Those
spiritual beings who participate in human existence surge through the
astral body. Man feels himself bound to the earth body by the
sentient-soul. He has therefore at this time a preponderating
picture-consciousness, in which are manifested those spiritual beings in
whose bosom he reposes; and the feeling of his own body seems to be merely
a point within that consciousness. He looks down, so to speak, from the
spiritual world upon earthly possession, which he feels belongs to him.

Further and further the condensation of the earth now proceeds and at the
same time the differentiation of the various parts of man, as has been
described, becomes more and more defined. From a definite point of
evolution onward, the earth is so far condensed that only part of it is
fiery; another part has assumed a substantial shape, which may be termed
“gas” or “air.” A change also takes place now in man. He is not only
brought into contact with the heat of the earth, but the air substance is
incorporated in his fire-body. And as heat kindled life in him, the air
playing around him creates an effect within him which may be called
(spiritual) sound. His etheric body begins to resound. Simultaneously, a
part of the astral body becomes separated from the remainder; this part is
the germ of the intellectual-soul which appears later.

In order to bring before our eyes what takes place in the human soul at
this time, we must notice that the beings superior to man are surging
through the airy-fiery body of the earth. In the fire-earth it is at first
the Sons of Personality who are of importance to man, and when man is
stirred into life by the heat of the earth his sentient soul says to
itself, “These are the Sons of Personality.” In the same way the beings
called “Archangels” earlier in this book (in accordance with Christian
esotericism) appear in the air-sphere. It is their influences which man
feels within him as sound, when the air plays around him. And the
intellectual-soul then says to itself, “These are the Archangels.” Thus
what man at this stage perceives, through his connection with the earth,
is not as yet a collection of physical objects, but he lives in sensations
of heat which rise up to him, and in sounds; in those heat currents and
sound waves, however, he feels the Sons of Personality and the Archangels.
It is true that he cannot perceive those beings directly, only, as it
were, through a veil of heat and sound. While these perceptions are
penetrating from the earth into his soul, there continue to ascend and
descend within it the images of those higher beings in whose tender care
he feels himself to be.

Now evolution takes a further step, which is once more expressed in
condensation. Watery substance is incorporated into the Earth-body, so
that now the latter consists of three parts,—igneous, aeriform, and
aqueous. Before this happens, something of great importance takes place.
An independent celestial body is split off from the fiery-aeriform earth;
this new body becomes in its later development our present sun.(21)
Previously, earth and sun had formed one body. After the sun had been
split off, the earth still has at first everything within it which is in
and on the present moon. The separation of the sun takes place because
higher beings could no longer carry on their own evolution as well as
their task on Earth within this atmosphere, now densified to the
consistency of water. They separate from the general mass of the Earth the
only substances useful to them, and fare forth to make a new abode for
themselves in the sun. They now influence the earth from the sun, from
outside. Man, however, needs for his further evolution an environment in
which matter becomes still more condensed.

With the incorporation of watery substance in the earth-body a change also
takes place in man. Henceforth not only does fire stream into him and air
play around him, but watery substance is incorporated into his physical
body. At the same time his etheric part changes: that is, it is now
perceived by man as a fine light-body. Previous to this, man had felt
currents of heat rising up to him from the earth: he had felt air
surrounding him through tones; now, the watery element also penetrates his
fire-air body, and he sees its ebb and flow as the alternate flaring up
and dimming of light. But a change has also taken place in his soul. To
the germs of the sentient and intellectual souls is added that of the
consciousness-soul. The “Angels” work in the element of water; they are
also the real producers of light. It was as though they appeared to man in

The higher beings who were previously in the Earth-planet itself, now
influence it from the sun. On this account all effects produced on the
earth are changed. The human being chained to earth would no longer be
able to feel the influence of the sun-beings within him, if his soul were
unceasingly turned toward the earth, from which his physical body is
taken. A change now appears in the conditions of human consciousness. At
certain times the sun-beings wrest the soul of man from his physical body,
so that man is now alternately purely psychic, in the bosom of the
sun-beings, and, when united with the body, in a condition in which he
receives earth influences. When in the physical body, heat currents stream
up to him; a sea of air is sounding round him and water pours into and out
of him. When man is out of his body the images of the higher beings in
whose care he is, float through his soul.

The earth passes through two periods at this stage of its evolution.
During one of these it allows its substances to circulate around the human
souls and clothe them with bodies; during the other, the souls have
withdrawn from it, and only the bodies are left and the human beings are
in a condition of sleep. It is speaking quite in conformity with facts to
say that in those times of a remote past the earth passed through a day
and a night time. (Expressed in terms of physical space this means that
through the reciprocal action of the sun-beings and the earth-beings, the
earth is brought into a movement in relation with the sun; thus there is
brought about the alternation of day and night periods described above.
The day period is when the surface of the earth, on which man is evolving,
is turned toward the sun; the night period, the time when man leads a
purely psychic existence, is when the earth’s surface is turned away from
the sun. Now it must not, of course, be imagined that in that far-off time
the earth’s motion around the sun was like its present motion. The
conditions were still utterly different. But even at this early point it
is helpful to realize that the motions of the celestial bodies are a
consequence of the mutual relations of the spiritual beings inhabiting
them. Spiritual-psychic causes produce in the celestial bodies positions
and motions which permit the manifestation of spiritual conditions on the
physical plane.)

If our gaze were turned upon the earth during its night period, its body
would appear like a corpse. For it consists to a great extent of the
decaying bodies of those human beings whose souls are in another state of
existence. The organized watery and aeriform structures of which human
bodies were formed become disintegrated, and dissolve into the rest of the
earth’s substance. Only that part of man’s body which was formed from the
very beginning of the earth evolution by the co-operation of fire and the
human soul, and which subsequently became denser and denser, continues to
exist as an insignificant looking embryo. Now when the day period begins,
the earth once more participates directly in the sun influence, and human
souls press forward into the sphere of physical life. They come in contact
with the embryos, and cause them to spring up and assume an external form,
which appears like an image of man’s psychic being. Something like a
delicate fertilization then takes place between the human soul and the
bodily embryo.

The souls thus embodied now begin once more to attract the aeriform and
watery substances and incorporate them in their own bodies. Air is
expelled and absorbed by the organized body,—the first beginning of that
which later appears as the respiratory process. Water too is absorbed and
expelled; the nutritive process in its original form has begun. But these
processes are not yet perceived as external ones. A kind of external
perception takes place in the soul only by means of the already
characterized kind of fertilization. Here the soul vaguely feels its
awakening to physical existence when it comes in contact with the embryo
which is held toward it from the earth. It then feels something which may
be put into words thus: “This is my form.” And such a feeling, which might
even be called a dawning consciousness of self, abides within the soul
through this union with the physical body. But the soul still feels the
process of absorbing air in an absolutely psycho-spiritual way, as an
image, which appears in the form of tone-pictures surging up and down;
these give form to the embryo which is being incorporated within them. The
soul everywhere feels itself in the midst of sound waves, and that it is
fashioning the body in accordance with those tone forces. Thus are human
forms developed at that stage of evolution. They cannot be observed in any
external world by our present consciousness. They evolve like vegetable or
flower forms of fine substance, therefore appear like flowers waving in
the wind.

During his Earth period, man experiences the blissful feeling of being
fashioned into such forms. The absorption of the watery parts is felt in
the soul as an accession of force, or inner strength. From without it
appears as growth of the physical human structure. As the direct influence
of the sun decreases, the human soul also loses the power of controlling
these processes. By degrees they are cast aside. Only those parts are left
which allow the embryo, above described, to mature. But man leaves his
body, and returns to the spiritual form of existence. (As not all parts of
the earth’s body are employed in building up human bodies, we must not
imagine that during the earth’s night period, it is composed exclusively
of disintegrating corpses and embryos waiting to be awakened. All these
are imbedded in other structures, which are formed out of the earth’s
substances. The status of those structures will be explained later.)

Now, however, the process of condensing the earth’s substance continues.
To the watery element is added the solid or “earthly” substance (“earthly”
in the sense of occult science). And when this happens man also, during
his earth period, begins to incorporate the earthly element in his body.
As soon as this incorporation begins, the forces which the soul brings
with it out of the disembodied state, no longer have the same power as
before. Previously, the soul had fashioned its body out of the igneous,
aeriform, and watery elements, in accordance with the tones which
resounded and the light-pictures which played around it. The soul cannot
do this with regard to the solidified form. Other forces now interpose to
shape it. What is left behind of man, when the soul withdraws from the
body, is not only an embryo to be fanned into life by the returning soul,
but a structure containing in itself reanimating power. The soul, at its
departure, not only leaves its image behind on earth but sends down some
of its animating power into that image.

Now on its reappearance on earth the soul alone no longer suffices to
awaken the image to life; reanimation must take place in the image itself.
The spiritual beings influencing the earth from the sun now uphold the
reanimating force that is in the human body, even though man himself is
not upon the earth. Thus, during its incarnation, the soul is not only
sensible of the sounds and light-pictures floating around, in which it
feels the beings next above it, but, through receiving the earthly
element, it comes under the influence of those still higher beings who
have taken up their abode on the sun. Previously, man felt that he
belonged to the psycho-spiritual beings with whom he was united when free
from the body. His ego was still within them. Now that ego confronts him
during physical incarnation, quite as much as everything else which is
around him during that period. Independent images of the psycho-spiritual
being of man were henceforth on the earth. These structures, in comparison
with the present human body, were of a finer material. For the earthly
part mixed with them only in its finest state, much in the same way as
when man of the present day absorbs the finely distributed substances of
an object through his organ of smell. Human bodies were like shadows. But
as they were distributed over the whole earth they came under earth
influences, which varied in their nature on different parts of the earth’s
surface. Whereas formerly bodily images corresponded to the human soul
animating them, and on that account were essentially alike over the whole
earth, differences now appeared between human forms. In this manner the
way was prepared for what appeared later as differences of race.

When the human body became independent, the previous close union of the
earth-man with the psycho-spiritual world was to a certain extent
dissolved. Henceforth, when the soul left the body, the latter, in a way,
continued to live. If evolution had gone on advancing in this manner, the
earth would have hardened under the influence of its solid elements. To
the eyes of the seer who looks back on those conditions, human bodies,
when abandoned by their souls, appear to become more and more solidified.
And after a time the human souls returning to earth would have found no
available material with which to combine. All the substances available for
man would have been used up in filling the earth with the hardened,
wood-like remains of incarnations.

Then an event took place which gave a new turn to the whole evolution.
Everything in the solid earthly substance which could contribute to
permanent induration was eliminated. At this point our present moon left
the earth. And what had previously directly conduced to a moulding of
permanent forms, now operated from the moon indirectly and in a diminished
degree. The higher beings, on whom that moulding of forms depended, had
resolved to exercise their influences upon their earth no longer from its
interior, but from without. By this means there was brought about in the
bodily structure of man a difference which must be called the beginning of
the separation into a male and a female sex.

The finely constituted human forms which formerly inhabited the earth, had
produced through cooperation of the two forces within themselves, that of
the embryo and that of the animating force, the new human form, their
descendant. These descendants are now transformed. In one group the
animating power of the psycho-spiritual element was paramount; in another
the animating germinal force. This was caused by the weakening of the
power of the solid element in consequence of the moon’s leaving the earth.
The reciprocal action of these two forces now became more delicate than it
had been before—when it occurred within one single body, consequently the
descendant also became more delicate and fine. He entered the earth in a
delicate condition, and only gradually incorporated more solid parts
within him. In this way the possibility of union with the body was once
more given to the human soul returning to earth. It no longer animated the
body from without, because that animation took place on the earth itself;
but it became united with the body, and enabled it to grow. Of course a
certain limit was set to that growth. Through the separation of the moon,
the human body had for a time become supple; but the more it continued to
grow on the earth, the more the solidifying forces got the upper hand. At
length the share borne by the soul in the organization of the body grew
less and less, and the body disintegrated when the soul ascended to
psycho-spiritual modes of existence. One can trace how the forces
gradually acquired by man during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions take
part more and more in the progress of man during the described formative
periods of the earth. The first part to be kindled by the earth’s fire is
the astral body, still containing within it the etheric and physical
bodies in a state of solution. Then the astral body is organized into a
more subtle astral part, the sentient soul, and into a grosser etheric
part, which henceforth is in contact with the earth-element; when this
occurs, the etheric or vital body, already fore-shadowed, makes its
appearance. And while the intellectual and consciousness-souls are being
evolved in the astral man, there are incorporated into the etheric body
those coarser parts which are susceptible to sound and light.

At the time when the etheric body still further densifies and changes from
a light-body into a fire or heat-body, the stage of evolution has been
reached at which, as described above, parts of the solid earth-element are
incorporated into man. Because the etheric body has condensed to the
consistency of fire, it is now able, by means of the forces of the
physical body previously implanted in it, to combine with those substances
of the physical earth attenuated as far as the fire-state. But by itself
it would no longer be able to introduce air substances into the body which
has meanwhile become more solidified. Then, as indicated above, the higher
beings dwelling on the sun interpose, breathing air into the body. While
man, by virtue of his past, is able of himself to become permeated with
earthly fire, higher beings direct the breath of air into his body.
Heretofore the etheric body of man, as a receiver of sound, had been the
director of the air current. It permeated man’s physical body with life.
Now the physical body gets life from without. The result is that this life
becomes independent of the soul part of man. On departing from the earth,
the soul leaves behind not only the seed of its form, but also a living
image of itself. The Lords of Form now remain united with that image, and
the life they have bestowed, they transfer to man’s descendants, when his
soul has left the body. Thus comes about what may be called heredity, and
when the human soul once more appears on earth it feels that it is in a
body animated by the life of its ancestors. It feels itself especially
attracted to just that kind of a body. In this way something like a
_memory_ is formed of the ancestor with whom the soul feels itself to be
at one. This memory passes through the line of descendants in the form of
a consciousness possessed in common. The ego thus flows down through the

At this stage of evolution man, during his life on earth, was conscious of
himself as an independent being. He felt the inner fire of his etheric
body to be combined with the external fire of the earth. He could feel the
heat that was streaming through him as his own ego. In those heat
currents, interwoven with life, are to be found the first beginnings of
the circulation of the blood. But in what flowed into him as air, he did
not exactly feel as his own being. Indeed, it was the forces of the higher
beings we have described that were working in that air. But still there
was left to him, within the air that flowed through him, that part of the
active forces which belonged to him by virtue of his previously formed
etheric powers. He was master in one part of those air currents. And to
that extent, it was not only the higher beings who were shaping him, but
he himself. He formed the air parts of his being in accordance with the
images of his astral body. While air was thus flowing into his body from
without, a process which became the basis of respiration, part of the air
was formed within him into an organism which became fixed and was the
basis of the subsequent nervous system. Thus man at this period was
connected with the external earth by heat and air.

On the other hand, he was not conscious of the introduction within himself
of the solid element of the earth. Although it contributed to his own
embodiment, he could not perceive directly what was being supplied but
could only do so through a dim consciousness in the image of the higher
beings who were active in the process. In the same kind of picture-form,
as an expression of the beings above him, man had previously perceived the
introduction of the fluid element into the earth. Through the
densification of his earthly form the pictures have now undergone a change
in his consciousness. The solid element has been mixed with the fluid.
This incoming of the solid element must also be seen to be the work of
higher beings operated from without. It is no longer possible for the
human soul to have the power of directing the supply for that supply has
now to serve his body, which is being built up from without. He would
spoil its form if he were to direct the influx himself.

What, therefore, reaches him from without appears to him to be directed by
authoritative orders issuing from the higher beings who are at work on the
shaping of his body. Man feels himself to be an ego; he has within him, as
part of his astral body, his intellectual-soul, through which he inwardly
perceives, in the form of pictures, what is happening externally, and by
means of which he permeates his delicate nervous system. He feels himself
to be descended from ancestors, by virtue of the life flowing down through
the generations. He breathes, and feels it to be the effect of the higher
beings who have been described as the Lords of Form. He is likewise
subject to their impulses in all that which comes to him from the outside
(as his food). What he finds most obscure is his origin as an individual.
As to that, he only knows that he has been under the influence of the
Lords of Form expressing themselves in earth-forces. In his relations with
the outer world, man was guided and ruled. This finds expression through
the fact that man has a consciousness of the psycho-spiritual activities
operating behind his physical environment. It is true that he does not see
the spiritual beings in their own form, but he is conscious in his soul of
sounds and colors. He knows, however, that it is the actions of spiritual
beings that are realized through that world of images. What those beings
communicate to him, reaches him as sound; their manifestations appear to
him in light-pictures.

The innermost concepts, of which earthly man becomes conscious, are those
conveyed to him by the element of fire or warmth. He can already
distinguish between his own inner heat and the heat currents of the
earth’s periphery. In these latter are manifested the Sons of Personality.
But man has only a dim consciousness of what is behind the currents of
external heat. It is in those very currents that he feels the influence of
the Lords of Form. When powerful effects of heat are produced in man’s
environment, the soul feels that spiritual beings are now heating the
earth’s circumference—beings, from whom a spark has been detached, which
warms his inner being.

In the effect of light, however, man does not yet distinguish in quite the
same manner between the outer and the inner. When light-pictures appear
around him, they do not always produce the same feeling in the soul of the
earth-man. There were times when he felt them as external images. This was
during the period when he had just descended from the disembodied state
into incarnation. It was the period of his growth on earth. As the time
approached for the embryo to be developed those images faded, and man only
retained something like inner memory-pictures of them. The actions of the
Sons of Fire (Archangels) were contained in those light-pictures, which
appeared to man to be the servitors of the Fire-spirits who sent down a
spark into his own inner being. When their outer manifestations died away,
man felt them inwardly in the form of images (memories). He felt himself
united with their forces. And so indeed he was. For by means of what he
had received from them, he was able to work upon his surrounding
atmosphere. This, under his influence, began to emit light.

At that time nature forces and human forces were not as yet separated from
each other as they subsequently became. What happened on earth still
emanated to a great extent from human forces. Viewing nature processes on
the earth from the outside, one would then have seen in them not only
something independent of man, but also the effect of human activity within
those processes. Sound-perceptions assumed a still more different form to
the earth-man. From the beginning of earth-life they had been perceived as
outer tones. Whereas the external air pictures were perceived up to the
middle of earth existence, the external tones could be heard even after
that middle period. And only toward the end of his life did the earth-man
become insensible to them. But the memory-pictures of those sounds
remained. In them were contained the manifestations of the Sons of Life
(Angels). When, toward the end of his life, man felt himself inwardly
united with those forces, he was able, by imitating them, to produce
mighty effects in the earth’s watery element. The waters surged in and
above the earth under his influence. Man had perceptions of taste only
during the first quarter of his earth-life, and even then they seemed to
the soul like a memory of the experience of his disembodied state. As long
as they lasted, his body continued to grow more and more solid by
assimilating external substances. In the second quarter of earth life
growth still continued, but the form was already fully developed. At this
time man could perceive other living beings near him only through their
heat, light, and sound effects; for he was not as yet capable of imagining
the solid element. During the first quarter of his life he received the
taste-impressions described, only through the watery element.

Man’s external bodily form was an image of this inner psychic condition.
Those parts were most fully developed which contained the first
fore-shadowing of the later form of the head. The other organs appeared
only as appendages. These were shadowy and indistinct. Yet earth-beings
varied with regard to form. There were some in whom the appendages were
more or less developed, according to the earth-conditions under which they
lived. This varied with people’s different dwelling places on the earth.
Where they were more involved in the things of earth, the appendages
became more prominent. Those human beings who at the beginning of physical
development on earth were the ripest, owing to their previous evolution,
having come in contact with the fire-element at the very beginning before
the earth had been condensed into air, were those now able to develop the
first beginnings of the head most completely. They were those persons
possessing most inner harmony.

Others were ready for contact with the fire-element only when the earth
had already evolved air within it. They were more dependent upon outer
conditions than the first mentioned, who distinctly felt the Lords of Form
through heat, and during their earth-life felt as though they retained a
memory of having belonged to those spirits and of having been connected
with them in the disembodied state. The second species of human beings
only had the memory of the disembodied state to a more limited degree;
they were conscious of their fellowship with the spiritual world chiefly
through the light-influences of the Sons of Fire (Archangels). A third
type of human beings was still more entangled in earthly existence. It was
they who were unable to come in contact with the fire-element until the
earth was separated from the sun and had absorbed the watery element
within itself. Their feeling of fellowship with the spiritual world was
especially slight at the beginning of earth-life. Only when the activities
of the Archangels, and more especially of the Angels, influenced the inner
imaginative life, did they feel this connection to any degree. On the
other hand, at the beginning of the earth-period they were full of active
impulses for performing deeds which can be accomplished under earthly
conditions only. In them the extremities were particularly strongly

When the Moon-forces, before the separation of the moon from the earth,
tended more and more to harden the latter, it happened that among the
descendants of the embryos left behind upon the earth by man, there were
some in whom human souls returning from the disembodied state could no
longer incarnate in consequence of the Moon-forces. The form of these
descendants was too much solidified and through the Moon-forces, had
become too unlike the human form to be able to reassume it. Consequently
certain human souls no longer found it possible, under these
circumstances, to return to earth. Only the ripest and strongest of these
souls felt competent to transform the earth-body during its growth, so
that it could blossom into a human form. Only a portion of the bodily
descendants of man became the vehicles of earthly human beings. Another
part, because of its solidified form, was able to receive only souls on a
lower level than those of men. But there was one group of human souls,
however, which was prevented from participating in the earth-evolution of
that time. In this way they were driven to embark on another course.

There were souls who, as far back as the separation of the sun from the
earth, found no place on the latter. For their further evolution they were
removed to a planet which, under the guidance of cosmic beings, was
detached from the universal world-substance,—that substance of which the
earth formed a part at the beginning of its physical evolution, and from
which the sun had separated. This planet, in its physical expression, is
the one known to outer science as “Jupiter.” (Here we are speaking of
celestial bodies, planets, and their names exactly in the sense of a more
ancient science, and as is in harmony with occult science. Just as the
physical earth is only the physical expression of a great psycho-spiritual
organism, so is every other celestial body. And as the seer does not
denote only the physical planet by the word “earth,” nor only the physical
fixed star by “sun,” so when speaking of “Jupiter,” “Mars,” and the other
planets, he signifies far-reaching spiritual relationships. The form and
mission of the heavenly bodies have, in the nature of things, been
essentially changed since the times of which we are here speaking,—in a
certain respect even their position in celestial space has been changed.
It is possible only for one who follows with the seer’s vision the
evolution of those celestial bodies back to remote ages of the past, to
apprehend the connection of contemporary planets with their predecessors.)
On Jupiter the souls that have been described continued their evolution.

And later, when the earth was tending more and more toward solidification,
still another abode had to be prepared for souls who even though they were
able to occupy the solidified bodies for a time, could no longer do so
when this solidification had progressed too far. An appropriate place for
their further evolution was prepared on “Mars.” Even as far back as the
time when the soul was still united with the sun, and was incorporating
the sun’s air elements within itself, certain souls were proving unfit to
participate in the earth’s evolution. They were too powerfully affected by
the earthly bodily form. Accordingly, even at that time, they had to be
withdrawn from the direct influence of the Sun-forces. These had to
influence them from without. The planet Saturn became the scene of their
further evolution.

Thus, in the course of the earth’s evolution, the number of human forms
decreased, and forms appeared which had not embodied human souls. These
were able to receive only astral bodies as the human physical and etheric
bodies on the old Moon had done. While the earth was becoming depopulated
as far as human beings were concerned, these other beings were colonizing
it. Eventually all human souls would have been compelled to leave the
earth if, by detaching the Moon from it, a way had not been provided to
preserve those human bodies which at that time could still harbor human
souls. It was made possible for these, during their earth life, to
withdraw the human ego from the effects of the Moon-forces coming directly
from the earth, thus allowing it to mature sufficiently within themselves
until it could be exposed directly to those forces. As long as the embryo
was developing within man, it was under the influence of those beings who,
under the leadership of the mightiest of their number, had detached the
moon from the earth in order to conduct the evolution of the latter over a
critical point.

When the earth had developed the air element within it, astral beings were
present as described above, who had belonged to the old Moon and who had
been left behind. They had fallen short even of the lowest human souls in
their evolution. They became the souls of those forms which already before
the separation of the Sun had to be abandoned by man. These beings are the
ancestors of the animal kingdom. As time went on, they developed
especially those organs which in man thus far only existed as appendages.
Their astral body had to work on the physical and etheric bodies in the
same way as did the human astral body during the old Moon-period. Now the
animals which had thus come into existence had souls which could not dwell
in the individual animals. The soul extended its being also to the
descendant. Virtually, animals descended from one form have a soul in
common. Only when the descendant diverges from the ancestral type through
special influences, does a new animal soul become incarnated. In this
sense, in accordance with occult science, we can speak of a species or
group-soul, in animals.

Something of a similar nature took place at the time of the separation of
sun and earth. There came forth from the watery element, forms no further
evolved than man was before the old Moon-evolution. They could only
receive an impression from anything of an astral nature when the latter
influenced them from without. This could not happen until after the
departure of the sun from the earth. Whenever the sun-period of the earth
set in, the astral element in the sun stimulated these forms in such a way
that they formed their vital body out of the etheric part of the earth.
When the sun turned away from the earth, that etheric body was again
dissolved into the common earth-life. And as a result of the co-operation
of the astral part of the sun with the etheric part of the earth, there
emerged from the watery element those physical forms which became the
ancestors of the present vegetable kingdom.

Man became an individualized soul-being on earth. His astral body, which
had been poured into him on the Moon through the Lords of Motion, now
became organized on earth into the sentient-intellectual-and
consciousness-souls. And when the consciousness-soul had progressed so far
that it was able to form for itself during earth-life, a body adapted to
that life, the Lords of Form endowed that body with a spark from their
fire. The “ego” was enkindled within it. Every time man left the physical
body he was in the spiritual world, in which he met the beings who, during
the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions, had given him his physical, etheric,
and astral bodies, and who had developed them as far as the earth-stage.
Since the spark of ego had been enkindled during earth-life, there had
also come about a change in the disembodied life. Up to this point of
evolution, man had had no independence in the spiritual world. Within that
world he did not feel himself a separate being, but as though he were a
member of the exalted organism which was composed of the beings superior
to him. The “ego experience” on earth now takes effect also in the
spiritual world. Henceforth man feels himself to be, to a certain degree,
a unit in that world. But he feels also that he is unceasingly linked with
it. In the disembodied state he again finds the Lords of Form, in a higher
aspect, and this aspect he had perceived in their manifestation on earth
by means of the spark of his ego.

At the separation of the moon from the earth, the disembodied soul began
to have experiences in the spiritual world which were connected with that
separation. To develop such human forms upon earth which could receive
soul individuality, only became possible through the fact that a part of
the shaping forces passed over from the Earth to the Moon. Thus human
individuality came within the sphere of the Moon-beings. And in the
disembodied state the reminiscence of earthly individuality could only
operate because, even in that state, the soul remained within the sphere
of those mighty spirits who had brought about the separation of the moon.
The process worked in such a manner that immediately after leaving the
earth-body the soul could only see the exalted Sun-beings as though in a
lustre reflected from the Moon-beings. And it was only when sufficiently
prepared by gazing at that reflected splendor, that the soul attained to
the vision of the exalted Sun-beings themselves.

The mineral kingdom of the earth also arose out of what was ejected from
human evolution in general. Its structures are what remained solidified
after the moon was detached from the earth. The only soul-element which
felt attracted to those structures was that which had been left behind at
the Saturn stage, and was therefore only adapted for developing physical
forms. All the occurrences treated of here and in what follows were
enacted in the course of exceedingly long periods. But the question of
chronology cannot be entered into here.

The events described, present the evolution of the earth from without.
Seen spiritually from within, the facts present themselves as follows: The
spiritual beings who drew the moon out of the earth and incorporated their
own existence with the moon,—thus becoming earth-moon beings,—brought
about a certain formation of the human organism by means of the forces
which they sent to the earth from the moon. Their influence affected the
“ego” which man had acquired, and made itself felt in the interplay of
that “ego” with the astral, etheric, and physical bodies. They made it
possible for man to reflect within himself consciously and to reproduce
within his cognition, the wisdom revealed in the cosmos. It will be
remembered that during the old Moon-period man, owing to the separation
from the sun at the time, acquired a certain independence in his organism,
a more unfettered stage of consciousness than that which he had been able
to derive directly from the Sun-spirits. This free, independent
consciousness—a heritage from the old Moon-evolution—appeared again during
the earth-period in question. But it was just this consciousness which,
through the influence of the described earth-moon beings, could again be
brought into union and harmony with the universe and be made a reflection
of it. This would have happened if no other influence had asserted itself.
Without that influence, man would have become a being whose consciousness
would not have reflected the world in pictures of cognition, through his
own free volition, but through natural necessity. But things did not
happen in this way. At the time when the moon split off, certain spiritual
beings interposed in human evolution who had retained so much of their
Moon nature that they could not take part in the exodus of the sun from
the earth, and were shut out from the influence of the spirits who from
the earth-moon had exerted their activity upon the earth. These spirits
with the old Moon nature were, so to say, banished to the earth, but with
an irregular development. In their Moon-nature was that which had rebelled
against the Sun-spirits during the old Moon-evolution, and which had so
far been a blessing to man that it had led him to a free, independent
state of consciousness. The consequences of the peculiar development of
these spirits during the earth-period entailed their becoming adversaries
of the spirits who, acting from the moon, desired to make human
consciousness an automatic reflector of the universe. What had helped man
to a higher state of development of the old Moon, proved to be in
opposition to the possibilities which had arisen through the evolution of
the earth. The opposing forces had brought with them from their Moon
nature the power of working upon the human astral body, namely,—as above
indicated,—the power of making it independent. They exercised that power
by giving the astral body a certain degree of independence—even throughout
the earth-period—compared with the automatic (involuntary) state of
consciousness which had been brought about by the spirits of the

It is difficult to express in the language of to-day the effects on man,
in that far-off time of the spiritual beings referred to. They must not be
thought of as analogous to natural influences of the present time, nor yet
as similar to the influence of one human being on another, when the first
awakens in the second inner powers of consciousness by words which help
the second person to understand something, or which stimulate him to
virtue or vice. The effect referred to as operative in that primeval age
was not a force of nature but a spiritual influence, conveyed in a
spiritual way, which descended upon man as a spiritual influx from higher
spirits, conformable with man’s state of consciousness at that time. If we
think of this influence as a force of nature we altogether miss its
essential reality. If we say that the spirits with the old Moon nature
tempted man in order to lead him astray for their own ends, we are using a
symbolical expression, which is good as long as we remember that it is but
a symbol and are at the same time clear in our minds that a spiritual fact
underlies the symbol.

The influence brought to bear on man by the spirits who had remained
behind during the Moon-evolution had a two-fold result. Man’s
consciousness was divested of the character of being merely a mirror of
the universe, because the possibility was aroused in the human astral body
of regulating and controlling, by means of this astral body, the images in
the consciousness. Man became the ruler of his own knowledge. But on the
other hand it was the astral body that was the starting point of that
rulership, and consequently the ego set over the astral body came to be
continually dependent upon it. Hence man was from this time forth exposed
to the lasting influences of a lower element in his nature. It was
possible for him in his life to sink below the height on which he had been
placed by the spirits of the earth-moon in the course of the world’s
progress. And subsequently he was open to the lasting influence on his
nature of the irregularly evolved Moon-spirits. We may call these
Moon-spirits Luciferian, to distinguish them from the other spirits who,
from the earth-moon, made consciousness into a mirror of the universe,
without bestowing free will. The Luciferian spirits endowed man with the
possibility of developing free activity in his consciousness, and at the
same time created the possibility of error and evil.

As a result of these events man was brought into a different connection
with the Sun-spirits from that which had been destined for him by the
spirits of the earth-moon. These wished to develop the reflecting human
consciousness in such a manner that within the whole life of the human
soul, the influence of the Sun-spirits would have become dominant. These
purposes were thwarted, and an opposition was thus created in human nature
between the influence of the Sun-Spirits and that of the spirits who were
irregularly developed on the old Moon. Owing to this opposition, the
inability to recognize the physical Sun-influences as such also arose in
man; they were hidden by the earthly impressions of the outer world.
Filled with these impressions, the astral part of man was drawn into the
sphere of the ego. This ego,—which otherwise would have felt only the
spark of fire bestowed on it by the Lords of Form, and which would have
submitted to the bidding of those spirits in everything that had to do
with external fire,—henceforth worked upon external heat phenomena through
the element with which it had itself been inoculated. A bond of attraction
was thereby established between the ego and the earth-fire.

In this way man became more involved in earthly materiality than had been
ordained for him, which was effected through the earth-moon spirits in
man’s body. The real individual ego was thereby set free from the mere
earth-ego so that although man during earth-life only partially felt
himself to be an ego, he at the same time felt his earth-ego to be a
continuation of that of his ancestors through the generations. The soul
was conscious of a kind of “group-ego” in earth-life, dating back to
remote ancestors; man felt himself to be a member of this group. Only in
the disembodied state could the individual ego be conscious of itself as a
separate being. But this state of isolation was impaired because the ego
was still burdened with a memory of the earth-consciousness (earth-ego.)
This memory clouded its vision of the spiritual world, which began to be
covered as with a veil between death and birth just as it is hidden from
physical vision upon earth.

The many changes which took place in the spiritual world while human
evolution was passing through the conditions just described, found
physical expression in the gradual adjustment of the mutual relations
existing between the sun, moon, and earth (and, moreover, between other
celestial bodies).

The alternation of day and night stands out as one result of those
relations. (The motions of celestial bodies are regulated by the beings
who inhabit them. The earth’s motion, of which day and night are the
result, was induced by the mutual relations of various spirits superior to
man. The moon’s motion had been brought about in the same way, in order
that after the separation of the moon from the earth, the Lords of Form
might, by means of the revolution of the former around the latter, work
upon the human physical body in the right way, and with the right rhythm.)
The ego and astral body of man now worked within the physical and etheric
bodies by day; at night that activity ceased: for the ego and the astral
body then left the physical and etheric bodies and came wholly within the
sphere of the Sons of Life or Angels, the Sons of Fire or Archangels, the
Sons of Personality, and the Lords of Form. Besides the Lords of Form, the
Lords of Motion, of Wisdom and the Thrones also included the physical and
etheric bodies in their sphere of influence at this time. The injurious
effects produced on man by the errors of his astral body during the day,
could thus be counter-balanced.

As people upon Earth now again multiplied there was no reason why human
souls should not incarnate in their descendants. The earth moon-forces now
acted in such a way that under their influence the human bodies became
entirely capable of incarnating human souls. The souls who had previously
removed to Mars, Jupiter and the other planets were now guided to earth,
and there was thus a soul ready for each human being born in the physical
line of descent. This went on through long periods so that the immigration
of souls to earth corresponded to the increase of human beings. Souls now
leaving their bodies at physical death retained the echo of their earthly
individuality as a memory in the disembodied state. This memory acted in
such a way that whenever a body was born on earth suitable for them, they
again incarnated it. Consequently there were among the human descendants
some whose souls came from without and who appeared on earth for the first
time since its very earliest periods, and there were others whose souls
had continually incarnated on the earth. In subsequent periods of earthly
evolution the number of young souls appearing for the first time grows
ever smaller and smaller, and the reincarnated souls become more and more
numerous; yet for long ages the human race was composed of the two types
of beings conditioned by these facts.

Henceforth man on earth felt himself united with his forefathers through
the group-ego which he had in common with them. On the other hand, the
experience of the individual ego was all the stronger in the disembodied
state between death and a new birth. The souls which entered human bodies
from celestial space were in a different position from those which had one
or more earthly lives behind them. The former, as souls entering upon the
physical earth-life, brought with them only the conditions to which the
higher spiritual world and their experiences outside the sphere of earth
had subjected them. The others had, by their actions in former lives,
added conditions of their own. The fate of the first was determined only
by facts lying outside of the new earth-conditions; that of the
reincarnate souls is also determined by what they themselves have done in
former lives under earthly conditions. Individual human Karma makes its
first appearance simultaneously with reincarnation.

Because the human etheric body was withdrawn from the influence of the
astral body in the manner above indicated, the generative faculty was not
included in the sphere of human consciousness, but was under the sway of
the spiritual world. When the time had come for a soul to descend to
earth, procreative impulses arose in the human being. The entire process,
to a certain degree was veiled in mysterious obscurity as far as earthly
consciousness was concerned. The consequences of this partial separation
of the etheric from the physical body were felt during earthly life also.
The qualities of the etheric body were capable of being especially
heightened by spiritual influence. In the life of the soul this expressed
itself through a special perfection of memory. Independent logical thought
was at this period only in its most rudimentary stage in man; on the other
hand, the faculty of memory was almost unlimited. Externally it appeared
as though man had direct knowledge of the working forces of every living
being. He had at his disposal the vital and generative forces of the
animal and, more especially, of the vegetable kingdom. He was able, for
instance, to draw out of a plant the force which impels it to grow, and to
use that force, just as we now use the forces of inanimate nature; for
example, the power dormant in coal which is extricated and used for
propelling engines.(22)

The inner soul life of man was also transformed in many different ways by
the Lucifer influence. Many kinds of feelings and emotions due to it might
be instanced. Of these only one can be mentioned. Previous to this
influence, the human soul acted, in that which it had to shape and to do,
according to the purposes of higher spiritual beings. The plan of
everything that was to be carried out was determined from the beginning.
And in proportion to the degree to which human consciousness was evolved,
it was able to foresee how things must develop in the future in accordance
with that preconceived plan. That consciousness of the future was lost
when the veil of earthly perceptions was woven across the manifestations
of higher spiritual beings and in these the real forces of the Sun-spirits
were hidden. Henceforth the future became uncertain, and in consequence of
this the possibility of fear was implanted in the soul. Fear is a direct
result of error.

It is however evident that through the Luciferian influence, man became
independent of certain definite forces to which he had previously
submitted without the exercise of his will. Henceforth he was able to form
resolutions of his own. Freedom is the result of the Luciferian influence,
and fear and similar feelings are only the phenomena attendant on the
evolution of human freedom.

Spiritually seen, fear makes its appearance in this way. Within the
earth-forces, under whose influence man had come by means of the
Luciferian powers, other beings were operating, which had developed
irregularly much earlier in the course of evolution than the Luciferian
powers. With the earth-forces man admitted into his nature the influence
of these other beings. They gave the quality of fear to feelings, which
without them would have operated quite differently. They may be called
Ahrimanic beings. They are the same that Goethe calls Mephistophelian.

Although the Luciferian influence manifested itself at first only in the
most advanced individuals, it soon spread to others. The descendants of
the advanced individuals intermingled with the less progressive described
above, and in this way the Luciferian force was conveyed to the latter.
But the etheric body of these souls returning from the different planets
could not be protected to the same extent as that of the descendants of
those who remained on earth. The protection of the etheric body of these
descendants emanated from an exalted Being in Whom was vested the
leadership of the cosmic when the separation of the sun from the earth
took place. That Being is the Ruler of the Kingdom of the Sun. With him
those lofty spirits, whose cosmic development was sufficiently matured,
departed for their dwelling-place in the Sun. But there were other beings
who had not reached such a height at the separation of the sun; these were
obliged to seek other spheres. It was through their instrumentality that
Jupiter and other planets became detached from that general cosmic
substance of which, at the outset, the earthly physical organism
consisted. Jupiter now became the abode of those beings who were not
highly enough developed to live on the sun, and the most advanced of these
became the leader. As the Leader of the Sun evolution became the “higher
ego” which worked in the etheric body of the descendants of those who had
remained on earth, so the Jupiter leader became that “higher ego” which
manifested as a common consciousness in certain other human beings. Those
were the human beings descending from the intermixing of those who had
only appeared on earth at the time of the air-element and had gone over to
Jupiter. These human beings may be called, in conformity with occult
science, “Jupiter-humanity.” They were scions of the human race which had
adopted human souls far back in that ancient time; but who, at the
beginning of earthly evolution, were not yet mature enough to take part in
the first contact with fire. They were souls midway between the human and
animal soul-kingdoms.

Now there were other beings who, under the leadership of the greatest one
among them had detached Mars from the general cosmic substance, to make it
their dwelling place. Under their influence there arose a third kind of
humanity, formed by interbreeding,—the “Mars-humanity.” (This knowledge
throws light upon the origin of the formation of the planets of our solar
system; for all the members of that system originated through the various
stages of maturity reached by the beings inhabiting them. But of course it
is not possible to enter into all the details of cosmic differentiation
here.) Those people who felt in their etheric body the influence of the
exalted Sun-being Himself may be called “Sun-humanity.” The Being Who
lived in them as the Higher Ego—of course only in the race, not in the
individual,—is the same to Whom various names were given in later times,
when man had gained conscious knowledge of Him. It is he Who appears to
the human race today as the Christ.

“Saturn-humanity” is also to be distinguished at that time. The “higher
ego” of this race appeared as a being who, with his associates, had been
forced to leave the general cosmic substance before the separation of the
Sun. In these individuals not only the etheric body but also the physical
body was partly exempt from the Luciferian influence. But the etheric body
was nevertheless not well enough protected in the less developed races of
mankind to be able to sufficiently resist the influences of the Luciferian
beings. These individuals could arbitrarily use the spark of the ego
within them to such a degree that they were able to call forth mighty and
destructive effects of fire around them. The result was a mighty
terrestrial catastrophe. A large part of the inhabited earth was wrecked
by fiery storms, and with it the human beings that had fallen into sin.
Only a very small part of those who had remained untouched by sin, were
able to take refuge in a region which had so far been shielded from the
fatal human influence.

The country occupying that part of the earth now covered by the Atlantic
Ocean proved to be peculiarly well fitted for the abode of the new human
race. Thither that part of humanity repaired which had preserved purity.
Only stray groups of humanity inhabited other regions. Occult science
gives the name of “Atlantis” to that part of the earth which once existed
between the present continents of Europe, Africa, and America. (This
particular stage of human evolution has its special nomenclature in
theosophical literature. The period preceding the Atlantean is called the
Lemurian age, whereas that during which the Moon-forces had not yet fully
developed is called the Hyperborean age. This is preceded by yet another,
which coincides with the earliest period of the evolution of the physical
earth. Biblical tradition describes the period before the influence of the
Lucifer-beings came into play as the Paradise time, and the descent to
earth, or entanglement of humanity in the sense-world, as the expulsion
from Paradise.)

The Atlantean period of evolution was the real time of separation into the
Saturn, Sun, Jupiter, and Mars humanities. Up to that time only
predispositions for this separation had been developed. The division
between the state of waking and sleeping had special consequences, which
appeared particularly in the Atlantean race. During the night the human
astral body and ego were in the sphere of the beings superior to man, as
far up as the Sons of Personality. Man could perceive the Sons of Life
(the Angels) and the Sons of Fire (the Archangels) through that part of
his etheric body which was not united with the physical body. For he was
able to remain united, during sleep, with that part of his etheric body
which was not interpenetrated by the physical body. It is true, his
perception of the Sons of Personality was vague, owing to the Luciferian
influence; but not only the Angels and Archangels became visible to man in
this condition but also those beings who were not able to enter upon
earthly existence because they had lagged behind on the Sun or Moon, and
were therefore obliged to remain in the psycho-spiritual world. But man,
by means of the Luciferian influence, drew them into his soul which was
separated from his physical body during sleep. Thus he came in contact
with beings whose influence was highly corrupting. They increased in his
soul the propensity for error; especially the tendency to misuse the
powers of growth and reproduction, which since the separation of the
physical and etheric bodies were now under his control.

Certain human beings of the Atlantean period however became entangled in
the sense world only to a very limited degree. Through them, the
Luciferian influence became, instead of a hindrance to human evolution, a
means of further progress. It enabled them to develop knowledge of earthly
matters sooner than would otherwise have been possible. They sought to
expel error from their imaginative life and to interpret, by means of
cosmic phenomena, the original purposes of spiritual beings. They kept
themselves free from those impulses and desires of the astral body which
were directed merely toward the sense-world. Hence they became more and
more free from the errors of the astral body. This resulted in a condition
through which they were able to confine their perceptions to that part of
the etheric body which was separated from the physical body in the manner
described above. Under these conditions the capacity of the physical body
for perception was practically extinguished and the physical body itself
was as though dead. For through the etheric body, these individuals were
wholly united with the kingdom of the Lords of Form, and were able to
learn from them how they were being guided and directed by that exalted
Being the “Christ,” who was the Leader at the time of the separation of
sun and earth. These people were Initiates. But since human individuality
had been brought into the sphere of the Moon-beings, as described above,
these Initiates could not as a rule come into direct contact with the
Christ-Being, they could only see it as a reflection, shown them by the
Moon-beings. Thus they did not see the Christ-Being directly, but only the
reflection of its glory.

They became leaders of the rest of humanity, to whom they were able to
impart the mysteries they had seen. They attracted disciples, to whom they
communicated the methods for attaining the condition which leads to
Initiation. Only those could attain knowledge of the Christ who belonged
to the Sun-humanity mentioned above. They cultivated their mystic
learning, and the occupations which promoted it, at a particular spot
which, in occult science terminology may be called the Christ oracle, or
Sun oracle, the term “oracle” being used to denote a place where the
purposes of spiritual beings are unveiled.

Other oracles were called into being by the members of the Saturn, Mars,
and Jupiter humanities. The intuitive vision of their Initiates was
confined to seeing those beings who were revealed to them in their etheric
bodies as their respective “higher egos.” Thus adherents of the Saturn,
Jupiter, and Mars wisdom arose. Besides these methods of Initiation, there
were others for those who had assimilated too much of the Luciferian
spirit to allow as large a part of the etheric body to be separated from
the physical body as was the case with the Sun humanity. Nor could they be
brought to the revelation of the Christ through these conditions. Because
their astral body was more influenced by the Lucifer principle, they were
obliged to undergo a more difficult preparation, and then, in a less
disembodied state than the others, they were able to receive the
revelation, not indeed of the Christ Himself, but of other exalted beings.

There were beings who, although they had left the earth at the separation
of the sun, did not stand on such a high level that they were able to
continue taking part in the Sun evolution. They formed an abode for
themselves away from the sun, after its separation from the earth: this
was Venus. Their leader was the being who now became a “higher ego” to
these Initiates and their adherents. A similar thing happened with the
leading spirit of Mercury for another group of people. In this way the
Venus and Mercury oracles arose. One kind of human beings, who had most
completely absorbed the Luciferian influence, could reach only one of the
higher beings who, with his associates, had been the first to be expelled
from the Sun evolution. This being has no particular planet in cosmic
space, but still lives within the periphery of the earth, with which he
was once more united after the return from the sun. The group of people,
to whom this being was revealed as its “higher ego” may be called the
followers of the Vulcan oracle. Their attention was more directed to
earthly phenomena than that of the other Initiates. They laid the first
foundations of what afterwards became the human arts and sciences. On the
other hand, the Mercury Initiates established the study of the more
super-sensible things; and the Venus Initiates did this to a still greater

The Vulcan, Mercury, and Venus Initiates differed from those of Saturn,
Jupiter, and Mars in the manner of receiving their Mysteries; the latter
received them more as a revelation from above, and in a more finished
state; whereas the former gained their knowledge more in the form of their
own thoughts—in the form of ideas. The Christ Initiates occupied a middle
position. While having a direct revelation, they acquired the capacity for
clothing their Mysteries in a human form of conception. The Saturn,
Jupiter, and Mars Initiates were obliged to express themselves more in
symbols; the Christ, Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan Initiates were able to
impart their knowledge more through ideas or concepts.

Whatever knowledge of this kind reached Atlantean humanity came indirectly
through the Initiates. But the rest of mankind also received special
faculties through the Lucifer principle; for, through the intervention of
lofty cosmic beings, what otherwise might have wrought ruin was
transformed into good. One of these faculties was that of speech. This was
brought about by the condensation of man’s physical body and by the
separation of part of his etheric from his physical body. For some time
after the separations of the moon, man felt himself connected with his
physical ancestors through the group-ego. But this common consciousness,
linking posterity with its ancestors, was gradually lost in the course of
generations. Later descendants had an inner memory of only their more
recent ancestors, no longer of their earlier forefathers. It was only in
conditions akin to sleep, during which mankind came in contact with the
spiritual world, that the remembrance of one ancestor or another again
emerged. Then people thought of themselves as one with that ancestor whom
they believed to be reappearing in them. This was an erroneous idea of
reincarnation, which arose especially in the later Atlantean period. The
true doctrine of reincarnation could be learned only in the schools of the
Initiates. They could see how the human soul passes through the
disembodied state on its way from one incarnation to another, and they
alone were able to impart the real truth of the matter to their disciples.

In the remote past which is now under consideration, man’s physical form
was very different from his present form. It was still, to a great extent,
the expression of the qualities of his soul. Man was composed of a softer
and more delicate substance than that which he has since acquired. That
which is now solidified in the limbs was then soft, flexible, and plastic.
The bodily structure of the more psychic and spiritual human beings was
delicate, supple, and expressive. These less evolved spiritually possessed
coarser, heavier, less mobile bodily structures. A high degree of psychic
maturity contracted the extremities, and the Stature remained small;
backwardness of the soul and entanglement in sensuality were outwardly
expressed by gigantic size. While man was growing to maturity his body was
being formed in accordance with what was developing in his soul, in a way
which would appear incredible and fabulous to contemporary ideas. Depraved
passions, impulses, and instincts brought in their train a colossal
increase of matter. Man’s present physical form has come about through a
contraction, thickening, and consolidation of the Atlantean human form.
And whereas man, before the Atlantean period, had been an exact image of
his soul-nature the events of the Atlantean evolution bore within them the
causes which lead to the formation of post-Atlantean man, whose physical
form is solid and comparatively independent of the qualities of the soul.
(The forms of the animal kingdom had solidified during far more remote
Earth periods than those of man.) The laws now governing the shaping of
forms in the kingdom of nature certainly did not prevail in the remote

Toward the middle of the Atlantean evolution a calamity gradually befell
humanity. The Mysteries of the Initiates had to be carefully kept secret
from those who had not purified their astral bodies from sin. Had they
gained insight into that hidden knowledge, into the laws by means of which
higher beings directed the forces of nature, they would have employed
those forces thus placed at their disposal for their own perverted needs
and passions. The danger was all the greater because mankind was coming,
as has been described, into the sphere of lower spiritual beings, who
could not take part in the regular evolution of the earth and were
therefore working against it. These persistently influenced humanity in
such a way as to instil into it interests which were actually directed
against human welfare. But mankind still had the power to employ the
forces of growth and reproduction belonging to animal and human nature in
their own service.

Not only humanity in general, but even some of the Initiates yielded to
temptation from low spiritual beings. They were induced to employ the
supersensible forces mentioned above for a purpose which ran counter to
human evolution. And for this purpose they sought out associates who were
not initiated, and who made use of the secrets of the supersensible forces
of nature for low ends. The result was a great corruption of human nature.
The evil spread further and further; and since the forces of growth and
generation, if torn from their original sphere and used independently,
have a mysterious connection with certain forces working in air and water,
there were thus unchained, through human action, mighty, destructive
natural forces which led to the gradual ruin of the Atlantean territory by
the agency of air and water catastrophes. Atlantean humanity was obliged
to migrate—i. e., that portion of it which did not perish in the storms.

In consequence of these storms the surface of the earth was altered. On
one side, Europe, Asia, and Africa gradually assumed their present shape;
on the other, America appeared. Great migrations took place to these
countries. Those migrations which were directed eastward from Atlantis are
especially important for us of today. Europe, Asia, and Africa were
gradually colonized by the descendants of the Atlanteans. Various peoples
fixed their abode in these continents. They were at different stages of
development, and also at different levels of corruption. And with them
came the Initiates, guardians of the oracle-Mysteries. They established
sanctuaries in various parts, in which the cults of Jupiter, Venus, etc.,
were cultivated sometimes in a good, sometimes in an evil manner. The
betrayal of the Vulcan Mysteries exercised an especially unfavourable
influence, for the attention of their adherents was mostly centered on
earthly matters. By this betrayal, mankind was made dependent on spiritual
beings who, as a result of their past evolution, rejected everything
emanating from the spiritual world which had been evolved through the
separation of the earth from the sun. In accordance with the tendency they
had thus developed, they worked upon just that element in man which was
formed through his having perceptions of the sense-world, behind which the
spiritual world lies hidden. Henceforth beings acquired great influence
over many of the human inhabitants of the earth, and indeed their
influence asserted itself more and more by depriving mankind of the
feeling for spiritual things.

Since the size, form, and flexibility of the physical human body were
still largely affected by the qualities of the soul, the consequence of
the betrayal of the Mysteries also appeared in changes of the human race
in these respects. Wherever the corruption of humanity manifested itself
especially in the abuse of supersensible powers for the satisfaction of
lower inclinations, desires and passions, unsightly human shapes,
grotesque in form and size were the result. These were not able to survive
the Atlantean period, and became extinct. Post-Atlantean humanity was
formed physically from those Atlantean ancestors in whom such a
solidification of the bodily form had taken place that it no longer
yielded to those powers of the soul which had now become perverted.

There was a certain period in the Atlantean evolution during which, by
means of the law ruling in and around the earth, just those conditions
prevailed which tended to solidify man’s bodily form. Those human racial
types which had been solidified before this period could, it is true,
reproduce themselves for a long time, yet the souls incarnating in them
gradually became so cramped that they had to die out. It is true that some
of these race-types survived into the post-Atlantean times; those which
had remained sufficiently agile lasted even for a very long time in
modified form. Human forms which had remained flexible, after the period
just described, became bodies for such souls as had, in a large measure,
undergone the pernicious influence of the betrayal described above. These
forms were destined to speedy extinction.

In consequence of what had thus happened, beings had brought their
influence to bear upon human evolution, since the middle of the Atlantean
period, beings whose influence tended to make mankind live in the physical
sense world in an unspiritual manner. This went so far that, instead of
man’s seeing the real form of that world, phantoms, hallucinations, and
illusions of every kind appeared to him. Mankind was exposed not merely to
the Luciferian influence but to that of those other beings mentioned
above, whose leader may be called Ahriman, according to the appellation
given him later in the Persian civilization. (He is the same as
Mephistopheles.) Through this influence man was subject, after death, to
powers which made him appear even then as a being adhering only to
material earthly conditions. He lost more and more the unobstructed vision
of the events of the spiritual world. He was forced to feel himself in
Ahriman’s power, and to a certain extent shut out from intercourse with
the spiritual world.

There was one oracle-sanctuary of special importance, which in the
universal decline had preserved the ancient cult in its purest form. It
was one of the Christ oracles, and on that account it was able to preserve
not only the Christ Mystery itself but those of the other oracles as well.
For in the manifestation of the loftiest of the Sun-spirits, were also
revealed the regents of Saturn, Jupiter, and the other planets. In the Sun
oracle the secret of producing in some particular human being, such human
etheric bodies as had been possessed by the best of the Jupiter, Mercury,
and other Initiates was known. By means of the methods used for this
purpose, which cannot be further dealt with here, impressions of the best
etheric bodies of the ancient Initiates were preserved, in order that they
might subsequently be stamped upon suitable individuals. The same process
could be employed with the astral bodies of the Venus, Mercury, and Vulcan

At a certain time the Leader of the Christ Initiates found Himself
isolated with a few associates, to whom He was able to impart, to a very
limited extent only, the mysteries of the cosmos. For those associates
were individuals who were endowed with the natural ability to permit the
least possible degree of separation between the physical and etheric
bodies. They were altogether, at that time, the best possible individuals
for promoting the further progress of humanity. Their experiences in the
realm of sleep had become rarer and rarer. The spiritual world was more
and more closed to them. Therefore they were also lacking in the
comprehension of all that had been revealed to man in ancient times when
he was not in his physical, but only in his etheric body. Those
immediately surrounding the leader of the Christ oracle were the farthest
advanced with regard to the union of the physical body with that part of
the etheric body which had previously been separated from it. This union
came about in the human being little by little, as a result of the
transformation which had taken place in the Atlantean continent and the
earth in general.

The physical and etheric bodies of man fitted more and more into each
other. Hence the memory lost its former unlimited capacity, and the human
life of thought began. That part of the etheric which was united with the
physical body transformed the physical brain into an actual instrument of
thought, and man from this time, first really felt his “ego” within his
physical body. Self-consciousness awoke. This was at first the case with
only a limited number of the human race, pre-eminently with the associates
of the leader of the Christ oracle. The bulk of humanity, scattered over
Europe, Asia, and Africa, retained in varying degrees the remnant of the
old conditions of consciousness. Hence they had direct experience of the
supersensible world.

The associates of the Christ Initiate were people of highly developed
intelligence but of less experience in supersensible spheres than any of
their contemporaries. The Initiate journeyed with them to a country in
central Asia. He wished them to be guarded as much as possible from
contact with those of less developed consciousness. He instructed his
followers along the lines of the mysteries which had been revealed to him
and especially did he do this with their descendants. Thus he gathered
round him a people who had received into their hearts the impulses
corresponding to the Mysteries of the Christ Initiation. Out of this
company he chose the seven best, that they might be endowed with the
etheric and astral bodies which bore the impress of the etheric bodies of
the seven best Atlantean Initiates. Thus he educated a successor to each
of the Christ, Saturn, Jupiter, etc., Initiates. These seven Initiates
became the teachers and leaders of the people who, in the post-Atlantean
period, had colonized the south of Asia, especially ancient India. Since
these great teachers were endowed with the etheric bodies of their
spiritual ancestors, the contents of their astral body, that is, the
science and knowledge they themselves had worked out, was far below what
was revealed to them through their etheric body. Therefore if these
revelations were to speak within them, they were obliged to impose silence
on their own science and knowledge. Then the exalted beings who had also
spoken to their spiritual ancestors spoke out of and through them. Except
during the times when these beings were speaking through them, they were
simple people, endowed with the measure of intelligence and feeling which
they had cultivated and worked out for themselves.

There lived at this time in India a race of people who had retained a
particularly vivid remembrance of the ancient soul-condition of the
Atlanteans, which permitted experiences in the spiritual world. Moreover,
the heart and soul of a great number of these people were powerfully
attracted by such experiences. By a wise decree of fate, the majority of
the race had come to southern Asia from among the best portions of the
Atlantean population. Besides this majority, other Atlanteans had migrated
thither at different times. The Christ Initiate, referred to above,
appointed his seven great disciples to be the teachers of this association
of people, to whom they imparted their wisdom and precepts. Many of these
ancient Indians needed but little preparation for reviving within them the
scarcely extinct faculties leading to observation of the supersensible
world. For longing after that world was really a fundamental quality of
the Indian soul. It was felt that man’s original home was in that world.
He is transplanted out of it into this one, which offers only outer
sense-observation and the intelligence connected with it.

The supersensible world was felt to be the _real_ world, and the
sense-world to be a deception of the human power of observation, an
illusion (Maya). By every possible means these people strove to open up a
view of the real world. They could take no interest in the illusory
sense-world, or at any rate only so far as it proved to be a veil for the
supersensible. The power going out from the Seven Great Teachers to such
people as these, was a mighty one. What they were able to reveal entered
deeply into the Indian soul; and since the possession of the transmitted
etheric and astral bodies invested the teachers with lofty powers, they
were also able to work magically on their disciples. They did not really
teach; they worked as though by magic power from one personality to
another. Thus there arose a civilization completely saturated with
supersensible wisdom. The contents of the books of wisdom of the Hindus,
the Vedas, do not give the original form of the lofty wisdom imparted by
the great teachers of most ancient times, only a feeble echo of it. Only
the seer’s eye, looking backward is able to find unwritten primeval wisdom
behind the written words.

A particularly prominent feature of this ancient wisdom is the harmonious
accord of the various wisdom oracles of the Atlantean time. For each of
the Great Teachers was able to unveil the wisdom of one of these oracles,
and these different aspects were in complete harmony, because behind them
all was the fundamental wisdom of the Christ Initiation. It is true the
teacher who was the successor of the Christ Initiate did not impart to his
disciples what the Christ Initiate himself was able to reveal. The latter
had remained in the background during this period of evolution. At first
he was unable to entrust his high office to any post-Atlantean. The
difference between him and the Christ Initiate of the Seven Great Indian
Teachers was that the former was able to work his vision of the Christ
Mystery completely into the form of human ideas, whereas the Indian Christ
Initiate could only offer a reflection of the Mystery in signs and
symbols; for his humanly cultivated power of conception did not suffice
for such a Mystery. However, from the union of the Seven Teachers there
resulted a knowledge of the supersensible world, presented in one great
wisdom-panorama, of which only separate portions could be imparted in the
ancient Atlantean oracles. The great Regents of the cosmos were revealed,
and the One great Sun-spirit, the Hidden One, ruling over those who were
manifested through the seven teachers, was delicately indicated.

What is here meant by “ancient Indians” is not the same as what is usually
understood by that term. No outer documents exist of the period in
question. The people usually known as “Indians” belong to a stage of
historical evolution which was developed long after the time spoken of
here. We have to distinguish a first post-Atlantean period of the earth,
in which the Indian civilization now described was the predominant one;
then came a second post-Atlantean period in which the prevailing
civilization was that which later in this work is called the “ancient
Persian,” and still later was developed the Egypto-Chaldean civilization,
also to be described. During the evolution of these second and third
post-Atlantean epochs, “ancient” India also went through a second and
third epoch, and to this third epoch belongs what is usually related of
ancient India. What is described here must therefore not be applied to the
“ancient India” mentioned elsewhere.

Another feature of this ancient Indian civilization is that which
afterward led to the division of the race into castes. The inhabitants of
India were descendants of Atlanteans who belonged to the various types of
Saturn and Jupiter humanities, etc. By means of supersensible teachings it
was seen that it is not by chance that a soul is incarnated in a
particular caste, but that the soul itself has determined its lot. Such an
understanding of supersensible teachings was made much easier, because it
was possible to revive in many people the inner remembrance of their
ancestors which has been described above; this, of course, might also
easily lead to an erroneous idea of reincarnation. Just as, in the
Atlantean age, it was only through the Initiates that the true idea of
reincarnation could be realized, so in India, in most ancient times, it
was possible only through direct contact with the great teachers. It is
true that the erroneous idea of reincarnation mentioned above found the
widest acceptance imaginable among the bands of people who were dispersed
over Europe, Asia and Africa in consequence of the Atlantean catastrophe.
And because the Initiates who had gone astray during the Atlantean
evolution had imparted the mystery of reincarnation to immature souls,
mankind began to confuse more and more the true with the false ideas. Many
of these people indeed retained a kind of dim clairvoyance, as a heritage
from the Atlantean period. Just as the Atlanteans had entered the
spiritual world during sleep, their descendants had experience of it in
abnormal states, intermediate between sleeping and waking. Then there
arose in these people the images of the ancient times of their
forefathers. They believed themselves to be reincarnations of people who
had lived in those times. Teachings about reincarnation, which were at
variance with the true ideas of the Initiates, were widely spread over the

As a result of the long-continued migrations which had taken place from
west to east since the beginning of the Atlantean catastrophe, a group of
people settled in western Asia whose posterity is known to history as the
Persian race and the tribes related thereto. Here we look back to a much
earlier period than the historical times of these peoples. Next after the
Indian period, we have first to do with the very early ancestors of the
later Persians, among whom arose the second great civilization of
post-Atlantean evolution. The peoples of this second era had a different
mission from that of the Indians. Their longings and inclinations were not
fixed on the supersensible world alone; they were also directed toward the
physical sense-world, and the earth became dear to them. They valued what
man is able to acquire on it, and what he is able to win by means of its
forces. Their achievements as a warlike people, and the methods which they
discovered of acquiring the earth’s treasures, are connected with this
peculiarity of their nature. There was no danger of their turning their
backs upon the “illusion” of the physical senses in their yearning after
the supersensible, but rather of their entirely severing the connection of
their souls with the supersensible world, through their appreciation for
the physical world.

The oracle-sanctuaries, which had been transferred hither from the ancient
Atlantean territory, also reflected, in their own way, the general
character of the people. In them forces were present which it had formerly
been possible to acquire through experiences in the supersensible world,
and which could still be controlled in certain lower forms; these forces
were used in the sanctuaries to direct the phenomena of nature in such a
way as to make them subservient to man’s personal interests. This ancient
people still had a great mastery over those forces of nature which
subsequently withdrew from the influence of the human will. The guardians
of the oracles mastered certain inner forces connected with fire and other
elements. They can be called magicians. What supersensible knowledge and
force they had retained as a heritage from ancient times was certainly
slight in comparison with man’s powers in the remote past. But it
nevertheless took all kinds of forms, from the noble arts, the only object
of which was the welfare of humanity,—down to the most reprehensible

The Luciferian influence held sway over these people in a peculiar manner.
It had brought them into connection with everything which diverts mankind
from the purposes of those exalted beings who alone would have guided
human evolution, had not the Luciferian influence interposed. Even those
members of this race who were still gifted with some remnant of the old
clairvoyant condition, described above as a state intermediate between
sleeping and waking, felt themselves powerfully attracted by the lower
beings of the spiritual world. In order to counteract these characteristic
qualities it was necessary that a spiritual impulse should be given to
this people. A leadership was established among them by the guardian of
the Mysteries of the Sun oracle, from the same source from which the
spiritual life of ancient India proceeded.

The leader of ancient Persian civilization, who was sent by the guardian
of the Sun oracle to the people now under consideration, may be designated
by the same name as the historical Zarathustra, or Zoroaster. Only the
fact must be emphasized that the personality indicated belongs to a much
earlier period than the historical possessor of the name. In this
connection it is not a question of outer historical research, but of
spiritual knowledge. And any one who instinctively thinks of a later time
in connection with the bearer of the name Zarathustra may reconcile this
idea with occult science on learning that the historical character
represents himself as a successor of the first great Zarathustra, whose
name he took, and in the spirit of whose teaching he worked.

The impulse which Zarathustra had to give to his people was to show them
that the physical world of sense is not merely the lifeless material,
devoid of spirit, which it appears to a man who gives himself up
exclusively to the influence of the Luciferian being. To this being man
owes his personal independence and sense of freedom; but it should work
within him in harmony with the opposite spiritual being. With the
pre-historic Persians it was a question of keeping alive the sense of this
last-named spiritual-being. Through their inclination toward the physical
sense world they ran the risk of complete amalgamation with the Luciferian
beings. Now Zarathustra, through the guardian of the Sun oracle, had
received an Initiation that enabled him to receive the revelations of the
great Sun-spirits. In particular states of consciousness, brought about by
his training, he was able to see the Regent of the Sun-spirits, who, as
described above, had taken under His protection the human etheric body.

Zarathustra knew that This Spirit directs the course of human evolution,
but that He must first, at a certain time, descend to earth out of cosmic
space. For this purpose it was necessary that He should be able to live in
a human astral body, just as in man. He had worked in the etheric body
since the entrance of the Luciferic nature. It was therefore necessary
that a man should appear who had retransformed the astral body to the same
level that it would have reached in the middle of the Atlantean evolution,
had there been no Luciferian influence. Had Lucifer not appeared, mankind
would certainly have attained this level before, but without personal
independence or the possibility of freedom. Now, however, in spite of
those qualities he should again arise to this height. Zarathustra, endowed
with prophetic vision, could see that in the future it would be possible,
within human evolution for a personality to exist, who would have a
suitable astral body for that purpose. But he also knew that the great
Sun-spirit could not appear on earth before that time, though He could be
perceived by a seer in the spiritual part of the Sun. When as a seer he
turned his attention to the Sun, Zarathustra was able to see This Spirit,
whom he proclaimed to his people. He announced that the Sun-spirit was at
first to be found only in the spiritual world, but that later He would
descend to earth. This was the great Sun-spirit, or Spirit of Light (the
Aura of the Sun, Ahura-mazdao, or Ormuzd). He was revealed to Zarathustra
and his followers as the Spirit who, for the time being, was turning the
light of His countenance on man from the spiritual world, and that it was
He Who might be expected to appear in a human body amongst men in the
future. It was the Christ, before his appearance on earth, whom
Zarathustra proclaimed as the Spirit of Light. On the other hand he
represented Ahriman (Angra mainju) as a power working injuriously on the
life of the human soul, when it engrosses that soul completely. This power
is none other than the one previously described, which had acquired
special dominion over the earth since the betrayal of the Vulcan
Mysteries. Together with the message concerning the Light God, Zarathustra
proclaimed teachings about those spiritual beings who were revealed to the
seer’s purified perception as associates of the Spirit of Light. These
were in strong contrast to the tempters who appeared to that unpurified
clairvoyance which was left over from the Atlantean period. It had to be
made clear to the ancient Persians that in man’s soul, so far as it is
engaged in work and endeavor in the physical sense world, a conflict is
going on between the power of the Light God and his adversary. It had also
to be shown them how man must act so as not to be engulfed by Ahriman, and
how to turn his influence to good through the power of the Light God.

The third era of post-Atlantean civilization began among the peoples who
finally gathered together in western Asia and northern Africa after the
migrations. This civilization was developed among the Chaldeans,
Babylonians, and Assyrians on the one hand, and among the Egyptians on the
other. In these peoples the taste for the physical world of sense
developed in a different form from that which it had taken among the
Persians. The former had acquired the quality of mind lying at the root of
the faculty of thought which has arisen since Atlantean times, that is,
the gift of reason. Indeed, it was the mission of post-Atlantean humanity
to develop within itself those faculties of the soul which it was possible
to acquire through the newly awakened powers of thought and feeling. These
powers cannot be directly stimulated from the spiritual world, but result
from man’s observing the sense-world, becoming familiar with it, and
working upon it. The conquest of the physical world of sense by these
human faculties must be regarded as the mission of post-Atlantean
humanity. Step by step that conquest proceeded. It is true that even in
ancient India, man, through the condition of his soul, was already turned
toward that world; but he still looked upon it as illusion, and his spirit
turned to the supersensible world. In the Persian race, on the contrary,
there sprang up the endeavour to conquer the physical world of sense, but
the attempt was still largely made with those powers of the soul which had
been left over as an inheritance from the time when man could still reach
the spiritual world directly. Among the peoples of the third epoch of
civilization, the soul had for the most part lost the supersensible
faculties. It was obliged to seek manifestations of the spiritual in the
surrounding world of sense, and to continue its development by discovering
the means of civilization existing in that world. Men sought to
investigate, through the physical world, the spiritual laws underlying it,
and in this way human sciences arose. Human technical skill, artistic
work, and their tools and means came about through the recognition and use
of the forces of the physical world. To a man of the Chaldaic-Babylonian
race the sense-world was no longer an illusion but a manifestation, in its
different kingdoms, in mountains and seas, in air and water, of the
spiritual activity of powers existing behind it, whose laws man was
striving to learn.

To the Egyptian, the earth was a field of work, given to him in a
condition which he must, by his own powers of intelligence, so transform
that it should bear the impress of human power. From Atlantis,
oracle-sanctuaries, originating chiefly from the Mercury oracle, had been
transplanted to Egypt. Yet there were others as well,—for example, Venus

In that which was fostered, in their oracle-sanctuaries, among the
Egyptian peoples, the germ of a new culture was planted. This germ
proceeded from a great leader who had received his training in the Persian
Zarathustra Mysteries, who was the reincarnated individuality of a
disciple of the great Zarathustra himself. Let us call him “Hermes.”
Through acceptance of the Zarathustra Mysteries he was able to find the
right way to guide the Egyptian people. This people had so turned its
attention to the physical sense-world, during earthly life between birth
and death that it was able only to a limited extent to directly behold the
spiritual world behind the physical phenomena, although it recognized the
spiritual laws of the world. Thus it could not think of the spiritual
world as the one in which it could live while on earth, but on the other
hand, it could be shown how man will live, in the disembodied state after
death in the world of those spirits who, during earthly life, appear
through their impressions upon the sense-world.

Hermes taught that man qualifies himself for union with spiritual forces
after death, in proportion as he uses his powers on earth for furthering
the purposes of those spiritual forces. Those especially, who had worked
most zealously in this way between birth and death would be united with
the lofty Sun-God Osiris. On the Chaldaic-Babylonian side of this stream
of civilization the direction of the human mind toward the physical
sense-world was more conspicuous than on the Egyptian side. The laws of
that world were being investigated and from its reflection in the
sense-world these people looked up to the corresponding spiritual
prototypes. Yet in many respects the nation remained wedded to physical
things. Instead of the star-spirit, the star was put first, and instead of
other spiritual beings their earthly counterparts were made prominent.
Only the leaders attained to really deep knowledge concerning the laws of
the supersensible world and its connection with the physical. The contrast
between the knowledge of the Initiates and the perverted beliefs of the
people became more apparent in these nations than anywhere else.

Very different conditions existed in those parts of Southern Europe and
western Asia where the fourth epoch of post-Atlantean civilization was
unfolded. In occult science, it is called the Greco-Roman period.
Descendants of peoples inhabiting widely distant parts of the older world
had met together in these countries. Here were oracle-sanctuaries which
conformed to the various Atlantean oracles; here were people with the
heritage of ancient clairvoyance as a natural gift, and others who were
able to acquire it, with comparative ease, by training. The traditions of
the ancient Initiates were not only preserved in special places, but
worthy successors to them arose, who attracted disciples capable of rising
to lofty levels of spiritual vision. Moreover, these races had within them
the impulse to create a domain within the sense-world which expresses the
spiritual in perfect form through the physical.

Greek art is, among other things, a result of this impulse. It is only
necessary to gaze with the eye of the spirit upon a Greek temple, in order
to see that in this marvel of art, material substance is so worked upon by
man that it appears in every detail as the expression of spirit. The Greek
temple is the “House of the Spirit.” One sees in its form what otherwise
only The Spiritual eye of the seer perceives. The temple of Zeus-(or
Jupiter) is so constructed as to present to the physical eye a fitting
shrine for what the guardian of the Zeus-(or Jupiter) Initiation saw with
spiritual vision. And it is the same with all Greek art. The wisdom of the
Initiates flowed in mysterious ways into poets, artists, and thinkers. The
Mysteries of the Initiates are found again, in the form of conceptions and
ideas, in the systems of thought by which ancient Greek philosophers
interpreted the universe. The influences of the spiritual life, the
Mysteries of the Asiatic and African sanctuaries of Initiation, flowed
into these nations and to their leaders. The great Indian teachers, the
associates of Zarathustra, and the followers of Hermes had attracted
disciples. These, or their successors, thereupon founded sanctuaries for
Initiation, in which the ancient wisdom was revived in a new form. These
were the Mysteries of antiquity. Here disciples were prepared to be
brought into the condition of consciousness through which they might
attain vision of the spiritual world.(23) From these sanctuaries of
Initiation the Mysteries flowed forth to those who cultivated Spiritual
Mysteries in Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. (Important centres of
Initiation were formed in the Greek world in the Orphic and Eleusinian
Mysteries. In the Pythagorean School of wisdom, lingered the effects of
the great wisdom-teachings and methods of past ages. On his distant
travels, Pythagoras had been initiated into the secrets of the most varied
kinds of Mysteries.)

But human life between birth and death in the post-Atlantean period had
also an influence on the disembodied state after death. The more man’s
interests were fixed on the physical sense-world, the greater was the
possibility of Ahriman gaining a hold upon the soul during earthly life
and retaining his power of it after death. This danger was least among the
peoples of ancient India, for during earthly life they had felt the
physical sense-world to be an illusion, and thus had eluded the power of
Ahriman after death. The danger for the primitive Persian peoples, who
between birth and death had fixed their attention, with great interest,
upon the physical sense-world was much greater. They would have largely
fallen a prey to Ahriman’s wiles had not Zarathustra pointed out,
emphatically through his teaching concerning the Light of God, that behind
the physical sense-world there exists the world of the Spirits of Light.
In proportion to the ability of the people of this civilization to receive
something into their souls out of the world of thought thus created, were
they able to escape Ahriman’s clutches during earthly life, and thereby
elude him in the life after death, during which they were to be prepared
for a new earth-life. The power of Ahriman in earthly life tends to make
the physical sense-existence appear to be the only one, and thus to bar
the way to any vista of a spiritual world. His power in the spiritual
world leads man to complete isolation, and to the concentration of all his
interest upon himself. Those who, at the time of death, are in Ahriman’s
power, are born again as egoists.

It is now possible for occult science to describe life between death and a
new birth as it is, provided the Ahrimanic influence has, to a certain
degree, been overcome. It is in this sense that it has been described by
the author in the first chapter of this book as well as in other writings.
And it must be described in this way if that which can be experienced by
man during this form of existence is to be visualized and if he has
attained to purely spiritual perception for that which really exists. The
degree to which the individual experiences this, depends upon the extent
to which he has overcome the Ahrimanic influence.

Man is approaching nearer and nearer to what it is possible for him to
become in the spiritual world. How this progress is thwarted by other
influences must however be clearly brought out in our consideration of the
course of human evolution.

During the Egyptian period Hermes taught the people to prepare themselves
during earth-life, for communion with the Spirit of Light. But because at
that time human interests, between birth and death, were already so
constituted that it was only possible to a slight degree to see through
the veil of the physical sense-world, therefore the spiritual vision of
the soul after death was also clouded and the perception of the world of
light remained dim.

The obscuration of the spiritual world after death reached a climax in the
souls who passed into the disembodied state out of a body belonging to the
Greco-Roman civilization. During their earthly life they had brought to
perfection the cultivation of physical sense-existence, and had thus
condemned themselves to a shadowy existence after death. Hence the Greek
felt life after death to be a shadowy existence, and it is not mere
rhetoric but the realization of truth when the hero of that time, who is
given up to the life of the senses, says, “Better a beggar on earth than a
king in the realm of shades.” All this was still more marked in those
Asiatic peoples who had fixed their attention with veneration and worship
on material images instead of on their spiritual archetypes. A large
proportion of mankind was in this condition at the time of the Greco-Roman
era of civilization. It can be seen how man’s mission in post-Atlantean
times, which consisted in the conquest of the physical sense-world, must
necessarily lead to estrangement from the spiritual world. Thus greatness
in one respect necessarily involves deterioration in another.

Man’s connection with the spiritual world was kept alive in the Mysteries.
Through these the Initiates, in special states of the soul, were able to
receive revelations from that world. They were more or less the successors
of the guardians of the Atlantean oracles. To them was revealed what had
been hidden through the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman. Lucifer
concealed from man what had flowed from the spiritual world into the human
astral body, without his co-operation, up to the middle of the Atlantean
period. Had the etheric body not been partially separated from the
physical body, man would have been able to experience within himself this
part of the spiritual world as an inner revelation to his soul. As a
result of Lucifer’s encroachment, this could be done only in special
states of the soul. At those times a spiritual world appeared to man in
the guise of the astral. The corresponding spiritual beings manifested
themselves in forms which embodied only the higher principles of the human
being, and in those principles the symbols of their particular spiritual
forces were astrally visible. Superhuman forms were manifested in this

After the encroachment of Ahriman, still another kind of Initiation was
added to this one. Ahriman concealed from man everything out of the
spiritual world which would have appeared behind physical
sense-perception, had he not interfered in human affairs from the middle
of the Atlantean period onward. The Initiates of the Mysteries owed the
revelation of what he had thus kept hidden, to the fact that they had
developed within their souls all those faculties which man had attained
since that time, beyond the degree necessary for physical
sense-impressions. Thus there were revealed to them the spiritual powers
lying behind the forces of nature. They could speak of the spiritual
beings behind nature. The creative might of those forces acting in nature
below man, was revealed to them. That which had been active since Saturn,
Sun and the old Moon and had shaped man’s physical, etheric and astral
body as well as the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, formed the
contents of a certain kind of mystery-secrets,—namely those over which
Ahriman held his hand. That which had formed the sentient-, rational-and
consciousness-souls and which had been concealed from man by Lucifer, was
revealed in a second kind of Mystery-secrets.

But what the Mysteries could only prophesy was, that in time a man would
appear possessing an astral body which, despite Lucifer, could become
conscious of the light-world of the Sun-spirit through the etheric body,
apart from any special condition of the soul. And the physical body of
that human being must be of such a nature, that everything in the
spiritual world would be revealed to him, which Ahriman is able to conceal
from man up to the time of physical death. Physical death could bring no
change into the life of such a being, that is to say, could have no power
over it. The “Ego” so manifests in such a human being that the entire
spiritual life is at the same time contained in his physical life. Such a
being is the vehicle of the Spirit of Light, to whom the Initiate ascends
from two directions, being led, under special conditions of the soul,
either to the Superhuman Spirit or to the Being of the forces of nature.
When the Initiates of the Mysteries foretold the appearance in the course
of time, of such a human being, they were prophets of the Christ.

A personality arose, as the special prophet of this coming manifestation,
within a nation which possessed through natural inheritance the qualities
of the peoples of western Asia, and through education the learning of the
Egyptians—the Hebrew nation. This prophet was Moses. The influences of
Initiation had entered so deeply into his soul that in certain states of
consciousness the being who had undertaken in the regular course of the
earth evolution to shape human consciousness from the Moon, was revealed
to him. In thunder and lightning Moses realized not merely physical
phenomena, but manifestations of this Spirit. At the same time the other
kind of Mysteries had influenced his soul, so that he was able to
distinguish, in astral vision, how the superhuman becomes human by means
of the ego. Thus, from two directions, He Who was to come, was revealed to
Moses as the highest form of the Ego.

And in Christ the lofty Sun-spirit appeared in human form as the great
ideal for human life on earth. At His coming, all mystery-wisdom had in
some respects to take a new form. Up to that time this wisdom had existed
exclusively for the purpose of enabling man to put himself into such a
condition of soul in which he would be able to view the kingdom of the
Sun-spirit as something _outside_ of earthly evolution. Henceforth it was
the mission of Mystery-wisdom to make man capable of recognizing in the
incarnated Christ the Primordial Being. From this Primordial Being man was
enabled to understand the natural and spiritual worlds.(24)

At the point in His life at which the astral body of Christ Jesus
contained everything which it is possible for the Luciferian influence to
conceal, He came forward as the Teacher of humanity. From that moment, the
faculty was implanted in human earthly evolution for assimilating that
wisdom whereby the physical goal of the earth may gradually be reached. At
the moment when the Event of Golgotha was accomplished, human nature was
endowed with another faculty, that by which Ahriman’s influence may be
turned into good. Henceforth man was able to take with him through the
gate of death that which saves him from isolation in the spiritual world.
What happened in Palestine was the central point, not only of human
physical evolution but also of the other worlds to which man belongs; and
when the “Mystery of Golgotha” had been accomplished, when the “death on
the cross” had been suffered, Christ appeared in that world where souls
sojourn after death, and set limits to the power of Ahriman. From that
moment the region which the Greeks had called the “realm of shades” was
illuminated by that flash of the Spirit indicating to its dwellers that
light was to return. What had been gained for the physical world by the
“Mystery of Golgotha” cast light also into the spiritual world.

Up to this event post-Atlantean human evolution had been a time of ascent
in the physical sense-world, but of descent as far as the spiritual world
was concerned. Everything which flowed into the sense-world proceeded from
what had been in the spiritual world from remote ages. Since the coming of
Christ, those who attain to the Mystery of Christ are able to take with
them into the spiritual world what they have won in the physical. And from
the spiritual world it then flows back again into the earthly sense-world,
since reincarnated souls, on re-entering earth-life, bring with them what
the Christ-impulse between death and a new birth, has bestowed.

What flowed into human evolution with the appearance of the Christ, acted
in it like a seed. Only slowly can this seed mature. Only the smallest
part of these profound new wisdom teachings, up to the present time, has
reached down into physical existence. Christian evolution has just barely
begun. During the successive periods of time following the appearance of
the Christ, this Christian Evolution was able to reveal only so much of
its inner essential nature as the humanity, the peoples of that time, were
capable of receiving; only as much as they could grasp with their
faculties of comprehension. The first form into which this essence of
Christianity could be poured may be described as a comprehensive ideal of
life. As such it was opposed to those forms of life which had been
developed in post-Atlantean humanity. The conditions operating in human
evolution since the repopulation of the earth in the Lemurian period have
been described above. Accordingly, humanity can be traced back to
different beings who, coming from other worlds, incarnated in the bodily
descendants of the ancient Lemurians. The various races of man are a
consequence of this, and the most diverse vital interests appeared in
these reincarnated souls, as a result of their Karma. As long as all this
was being worked out, there could be no ideal of “universal humanity.”
Human nature originated in unity, but earthly evolution up to the present
time has led to division. In the figure of the Christ, we see an ideal
which opposes all division, for in the man who bears the name of Christ
there lives the lofty Sun-being from Whom every human ego is descended.
The Hebrew nation still felt itself to be a nation, and each individual a
member of that nation. When once the idea was grasped that in Christ-Jesus
there lives the ideal Man who stands above all that tends to divide
humanity, Christianity became the Ideal of an all-Embracing brotherhood.
Above all individual interests and relations, the feeling arose in some
that the innermost ego of all human beings is of the same origin. (In
addition to all the earthly forefathers, the great common Father of all
humanity appears. “I and the Father are one.”)

In the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries after Christ, the era in which
we are still living was being prepared in Europe. It was gradually to
replace the fourth, or Greco-Roman civilization. It is the fifth
post-Atlantean period. The races which, after many wanderings and varied
fortunes, became the vehicles of this new civilization were descendants of
those Atlanteans who had remained less affected than others by what had
been going on meanwhile during the four preceding periods of civilization.
They had not penetrated into the countries in which those respective
civilizations took root. On the contrary, they had, in their way, handed
on Atlantean forms of civilization. There were many among them who had
retained in a high degree the inheritance of the ancient dim clairvoyance,
the state described above as intermediate between sleeping and waking.
Such people knew the spiritual world from their own experience, and could
reveal to their fellow-men what takes place there. Thus there sprang up a
great number of narratives of spiritual beings and events, and the
national treasures of legends and sagas had their origin in spiritual
experiences of this kind. For the dim clairvoyance lasted on, in many
people, into times not far removed from the present. There were other
people who, although they had lost clairvoyance, nevertheless developed
the faculties they acquired for use in the physical sense-world in
accordance with feelings and emotions which corresponded to clairvoyant
experiences. And even the Atlantean oracles had their successors in the
new civilization.

There were everywhere Mysteries, but in them that Mystery of Initiation
was most cultivated, which leads to the unveiling of that part of the
spirit-world which Ahriman keeps hidden. The spiritual powers existing
behind the forces of nature were here revealed. In the mythologies of
European nations are contained the remnants of what the Initiates of these
Mysteries were able to disclose to men. It is true that these mythologies
also contain the other kind of mystery, although in a more imperfect form
than that possessed by the Southern and Eastern Mysteries. Superhuman
beings were also known in Europe, but they were seen to be in perpetual
conflict with the associates of Lucifer. And the Light-God too was
proclaimed, but in such a form that it was doubtful whether he would
overcome Lucifer. On the other hand, these Mysteries were illuminated by
the figure of the coming Christ. It was announced of Him that His kingdom
would replace that of the other Light-God.(25)

From such influences as these, there came about a cleavage in the soul of
the people of the fifth epoch of civilization which still continues, and
is manifest in most diverse phenomena. The soul had not retained, from
ancient times a sufficiently strong attraction for spiritual things to
enable it to hold fast the connection between the worlds of spirit and
sense. The attraction existed only as a training of feeling and emotion,
not as direct vision of the spiritual world. On the other hand, man’s
attention was more and more directed toward the world of the senses and
its conquest; and the intellectual powers which had been awakened in the
latter part of the Atlantean period, all those human powers of which the
physical brain is the instrument, were concentrated upon the sense-world,
and upon gaining knowledge of and mastery over it. Two worlds, so to
speak, were developed within man: the one directed toward the life of
physical sense; the other susceptible to the revelation of the spirit in
such a way as to permeate with feeling and emotion even though lacking
clairvoyant vision. The tendency to this cleavage of soul already existed
when the teaching concerning the Christ was introduced into Europe.

This message from the spiritual world was received into men’s hearts, and
permeated feeling and emotion; but it was not possible to bridge the gulf
between this state of devotion and what human intelligence, concentrated
on the sense-world, was learning in the sphere of physical existence. What
is now known as the contradiction between external science and spiritual
knowledge is simply a consequence of this fact. The Christian mysticism
(of Eckhart, Tauler and others) is the result of Christianity becoming
permeated with feeling and emotion. Science, occupied as it is exclusively
with the world of sense and its results in life, is the consequence of the
other tendency of the soul, and all achievements in the sphere of outer
material civilization are entirely due to this divergence of tendencies.
Since those human faculties, of which the brain is the instrument, were
concentrated exclusively on physical life, they were able to reach that
pitch of perfection which makes contemporary science, technical skill, and
other forms of mental activity possible. Such a material civilization
could originate only among the nations of Europe, for they are those
descendants of Atlantean ancestors who converted their natural inclination
toward the physical sense-world into faculties only when it had reached a
certain degree of maturity. Previously they had allowed it to lie dormant,
and had lived on what remained in them of the Atlantean clairvoyance and
on the communications of their Initiates. While mental culture was
outwardly almost entirely given up to these influences, in them ripened
slowly the desire for the material conquest of the world.

Now, however, the dawn of the sixth post-Atlantean era of civilization is
already at hand. What is to arise at a certain time in human evolution has
ripened slowly in the preceding age. The first beginnings of that which
can even now be developed, is to be discovered in the thread which binds
together the two tendencies of the human breast, material civilization and
life in the spiritual world. To this end it is necessary, on the one hand,
that the results of spiritual vision should be understood; and on the
other, that in the observations and experiences of of the sense-world the
revelations of the Spirit be recognized. The sixth civilization-epoch will
bring to full development the harmony between the two.

Herewith the studies in this book have reached a point where we may turn
from the perspectives of the past to those of the future. But it will be
better to precede the latter by a study of the Knowledge of Higher Worlds
and of Initiation. Then, after this study and in connection with it, we
shall be able to indicate in brief the outlook for the future, in so far
as that can be done within the framework of this book.


At the present stage of evolution there are three possible conditions of
soul in which man ordinarily lives his life between birth and death:
waking, sleeping and, between the two, dreaming. The last-mentioned will
be briefly dealt with in a later part of this book; for the moment we
shall consider life simply as it alternates between its two main
conditions—waking and sleeping. Before he can “know” for himself in higher
worlds, man has to add to these two a third condition of soul.

During waking life the soul is given up to the impressions of the senses,
and to the thoughts and pictures that these evoke in it. During sleep the
senses cease to make any impression, and the soul loses consciousness. The
whole of the day’s experience sinks down into the sea of unconsciousness.
Let us now consider how it would be if man were able to become conscious
during sleep, notwithstanding that all impressions of the senses were
completely obliterated, as they are in deep sleep. Now would any memory
remain to him of what had happened while he was awake. Would his soul find
itself in a state of vacuity? Would it be incapable of having any
experiences? This is a question that can only be answered if conditions
like or similar to those under discussion can actually be brought about.
If the soul is capable of experiencing anything, even when
sense-activities and recollection of such activities are lacking, then
that soul would, so far as the external world is concerned, be “asleep”;
and yet the soul would not be sleeping but awake to a world of reality.

Now such a condition of consciousness can be attained if man makes these
psychic experiences possible toward which occult science guides him. And
everything that occult science tells us about those worlds beyond the
sensible, has been found through such a condition of consciousness.

In the foregoing parts of this book certain communications have been made
concerning the higher worlds; and in the following pages, as far as is
possible in a book of this kind, methods will be discussed whereby the
state of consciousness requisite for such investigations may be acquired.
This state of consciousness resembles that of sleep, in only one respect,
namely: that through it, all outward sense activity ceases, and also all
thoughts that might be aroused by the action of the senses, are
obliterated. But although the soul has no power to experience anything
consciously in sleep, yet it receives this power through this very state
of consciousness. And through it a capacity for experiencing is awakened
in the soul which in every day life can be awakened only through sense
impressions. The awakening of the soul to this higher state of
consciousness is called _Initiation_.

The methods of initiation lead man away from the state of ordinary
day-consciousness into such a soul activity as enables him to use his
spiritual organs of perception. Like germs these organs lie dormant in the
soul and must be developed. Now it may be that a person, at some
particular moment of his earthly life, makes the discovery that these
higher organs have developed within his soul without previous preparation.
It is a kind of involuntary self-awakening. Such a person will become
conscious of a change affecting his entire being; his soul’s experiences
will have been enriched beyond measure and he will find that no
experiences of the sense-world can bring him such spiritual happiness,
such soul satisfaction and inner warmth as that which now opens up to him,
which no physical eye can see and no hand can touch. From the spiritual
world strength and a sense of security in all situations in life, will
flow into his will. There are instances of such self-initiation; but they
should not give rise to the idea that the only right course is to wait for
the coming of such self-initiation, and to do nothing toward bringing
about initiation through regular training. We need not here give further
space to the subject of self-initiation, since it may take place without
regard to rules of any kind whatsoever.

What we have to consider is how by training, one may develop those organs
of perception, lying dormant in the Soul. Those who do not feel themselves
especially impelled toward doing something for their own development may
easily say that man stands under the guidance of spiritual powers, that
such guidance should therefore not be interfered with, and that the
moment, deemed by those powers to be the right one for revealing another
world to the soul, should be awaited in patience. Indeed, persons who are
of this opinion are inclined to consider it a kind of presumption, or
unjustifiable desire for any one to interfere with the wisdom of such
spiritual guidance.

Those who think in this way will only change their opinion if some other
mode of presenting the case makes a sufficiently strong impression upon
them. If they were to say to themselves, “This wise guidance has endowed
me with certain faculties, and it has done so, not that I should let them
lie idle, but rather that I should use them. Indeed, the very wisdom of
such guidance lies in the fact of its having placed in me the rudiments of
those organs necessary for a higher state of consciousness. I can,
therefore, rightly comprehend this guidance only when I regard it as my
duty to do everything in my power that may serve to bring such rudimentary
growths to their proper development.” Should such thoughts make a
sufficiently strong impression on the mind, scruples against training for
the attainment of higher consciousness will disappear.

There is, it is true, another scruple which may arise in the mind with
regard to such schooling. A person may say to himself: “This development
of the inner faculties of the soul means an invasion of man’s most hidden
sanctuary. It involves a certain change of the entire human being: the
method for such a change cannot be worked out by any ordinary procedure of
thought, for the manner in which the higher worlds are attained can be
known only to those to whom the path has become visible by reason of
experience. If, therefore, I turn to such an one, I am allowing him to
exercise his influence over the innermost sanctuary of my soul.” Any one
given to this attitude of mind will hardly find it reassuring if the
methods for bringing about a higher state of consciousness are imparted to
him in book form. For it is not a question of receiving communications
either verbally or from some person who, having the knowledge, has set the
same down in a book to which we have access. Now there are people
possessing knowledge of the rules for developing the spiritual organs of
perception who are of the opinion that these rules ought not to be
entrusted to a book. These people, for the most part, consider the
communication of certain truths relating to the spiritual world as
forbidden. But this view must be characterized as in a certain sense out
of date in view of the present stage of human evolution. It is true that
the communication of the rules referred to can be made only up to a
certain point. Yet what is imparted leads so far that one who applies it
to his soul-life makes such progress in knowledge that he is able to go on
by himself. This way then leads onward in a manner of which a true idea
can be gained only through what has been previously experienced. From all
these facts, scruples may arise concerning the path of spiritual

These scruples however disappear when one clearly understands the
essential nature of that course of development which is adapted to our
age. Of this latter method of developing we shall speak here and other
methods will be only briefly referred to.

The method of training to be here discussed furnishes to him who has the
will for a higher development, the means for accomplishing the
transformation of his soul. Any questionable encroachment on the
personality of the student would only then be possible, should the teacher
proceed to carry out the change by methods of which the pupil was not
conscious. But no true teacher of occult science in our day would make use
of any such method, by which indeed, the pupil would be reduced to a blind
tool. The teacher gives his pupil instructions as to the rules of conduct
he is to pursue, and the pupil carries them out. At the same time, should
the case seem to demand it, the teacher does not withhold the reasons
justifying these rules of conduct.

The acceptance of the rules, and their application by a person seeking
spiritual development, need not be a matter of blind belief. Such a belief
ought to be quite out of the question in this sphere. One who studies the
nature of the human soul as far as it can be followed by ordinary
self-observation, without occult training may, after accepting the rules
recommended for spiritual training, ask himself, “How do these rules act
upon the life of the soul?” This question may be satisfactorily answered
previous to any schooling by an unbiased use of common sense. Before these
rules are adopted, true conceptions may be gained as to the way in which
they operate. The effect can be _experienced_ only during training, but
even then the experience will always be accompanied by an understanding of
the experience, if each step that is to be taken is tested by sound
judgment. And in this age any true spiritual science will only suggest
such rules for training as can be vindicated by sound judgment. For him
who is willing to simply trust himself to such schooling and does not
permit prejudice to drive him into _blind_ faith, all scruples will vanish
and objections against a regular training for higher states of
consciousness will no longer disturb him.

Even such people as may have arrived at a state of inward maturity,—which
sooner or later would lead to the self-awakening of these spiritual organs
of perception—even for these, training is by no means superfluous. On the
contrary it is especially adapted to them. For there are but few cases in
which personal initiation does not have to travel along tortuous and
devious ways, and training spares them the traversing of such by-paths,
leading them forward in a straight line. In cases where such
self-initiation comes to a soul, the reason is that the required degree of
ripeness had already been attained in the course of previous incarnations.

It may easily happen that such a soul possesses a certain dim intuition of
its ripeness, and by reason of this very feeling may assume an attitude of
disinclination toward training. A feeling of this kind may produce a
certain degree of pride, which refuses to place confidence in a teacher.
Now it can happen that a certain degree of soul development may remain
hidden up to a certain age and only then reveal itself. But such schooling
may be just the very means needed to call it forth. Should the person hold
aloof from such training, it may happen that the power will remain dormant
during that particular Life, and will only reappear in a later

The rising to a supersensible state of consciousness can only proceed from
ordinary waking day-consciousness. It is in this consciousness that the
soul lives prior to its ascent, and schooling will furnish the means to
lead it out of this consciousness. The first steps which the schooling
here under consideration prescribes, are such as can still be
characterized as actions of the ordinary day-consciousness. It is just
those quiet acts of the soul which are the most effective steps. This
requires that the soul should give itself up to definite perceptions and
these perceptions are such as are able by their very nature to exercise an
awakening influence upon certain hidden faculties of the inner nature of

They thereby differ from those perceptions of waking day-life, whose
purpose is to portray external objects. The more faithfully they present
these things, the truer they are. It is, indeed, in accordance with their
nature that they should be true in this sense, but this is not the mission
of those perceptions which the soul is to consider, when in pursuit of
spiritual training; and they are therefore so formed as not to present
anything external, having rather within themselves the power to act upon
the soul. The best percepts for the purpose are the emblematic or symbolic
ones. Yet other percepts may be used. For it does not depend at all on
what the percepts contain, but solely on the fact that the soul puts forth
all its powers in order not to have anything in the consciousness except
the one percept in question. Whereas, in ordinary life, its forces are
divided among many things and perceptions change rapidly, the important
point in spiritual training is the concentration of the whole inner life
upon one single perception. And this perception must be voluntarily
brought to the centre of one’s consciousness. Symbolic perceptions are
better than those which reflect outer objects or events, because the
latter are related to the outer world, and the soul has to depend less on
itself than in the case of symbolic perceptions, formed by its own inner
energy. The chief object at which to aim is the _intensity_ of the force
to be exercised by the soul. It is not what is before the soul that is
essential, but the greatness of the effort and the length of time spent
concentrating upon one perception. Strength ascends from unknown depths of
the soul, from which it is drawn up by concentration on one perception.
Occult science contains many such perceptions, all of which have been
proven to possess the power alluded to above.

One gains a comprehension of this immersion or sinking down into a percept
by calling the Memory-Concept before the soul. Say, for instance, that we
allow the eye to rest on a tree, and then turn away from the object so
that it is no longer presented to our sight; we shall, nevertheless, be
able to retain the image of the tree in the soul. Now this image or
perception of the tree which we have when it is no longer in sight, is a
recollection of the tree. Then assume that this recollection is retained
in the soul, and the soul reposes, as it were, in this recollection,
taking care to exclude all other perceptions from the memory. The soul
then dwells in that memory-concept of the tree, and we then have to do
with the immersion of the soul into a concept. Yet this concept is the
image of an actual thing perceived through the senses. If however, of our
own free will, we take such images into our consciousness, gradually the
effect desired will be attained.

One example of meditation based upon a symbolical concept will now be
placed before the reader. Such a concept must first be built up in the
soul, and this may be done in the following manner. Let us think of a
plant, calling to mind how it is rooted in the ground, the way in which
leaf after leaf shoots forth, until finally the blossom unfolds. And then
let us imagine a human being placed beside this plant, and let us call up
in our soul the thought that he has qualities and characteristics which,
when compared with those of the plant, will be found to be more perfect.
We dwell on the fact that this being is able to move here and there,
according to his will and his desires, while the plant remains stationary,
rooted in the soil.

But now let us also consider: Yes, man is certainly more perfect than the
plant; but on the other hand, I find in him qualities which I cannot
perceive in the plant and through the lack of which, the plant appears
more perfect than man in certain respects. Man is filled with passions and
desires and these govern his conduct. With him we can speak of sin
committed by reason of his impulses and passions, whereas in the plant, we
see that it follows the pure laws of growth from leaf to leaf, and that
the blossom without passion opens to the chaste rays of the Sun. So we can
see that man possesses a certain perfection beyond the plant, but that on
the other hand he has paid for this perfection by admitting into his being
inclinations, desires and passions in addition to the pure forces of the
plant. And then we call to mind the green sap flowing through the plant,
and think of it as the expression of the pure and passionless laws of
growth. And then again, we call to mind the red blood as it courses
through the veins of man, and we recognize in it an expression of man’s
instincts, his passions and desires. Let a vivid picture of all this arise
in our souls. We then think of man’s faculties of development; how he can
purify and cleanse his inclinations and passions through his higher soul
faculties. We think how through this process something that is low is
destroyed in these inclinations and passions which thereby are born upon a
higher plane. Then we may be able to think of the blood as the expression
of these purified and cleansed inclinations and passions.

Now we gaze in spirit on the rose and say to ourselves: “In the red sap of
the rose is the erstwhile green sap of the plant—now changed to
crimson—and the red rose follows the same pure, passionless laws of growth
as does the green leaf.” Thus the red of the rose may offer us a symbol of
a kind of blood which is the expression of cleansed impulses and passions,
purged of all lower elements, and resembling in their purity the forces
working in the red rose. Let us now try not only to assimilate such
thoughts within our reason, but also let them come to life within our
feelings. We can experience a blissful sensation when contemplating the
purity and passionless nature of the growing plant. We can awaken the
feeling within us how certain higher perfections must be paid for through
the acquisition of passions and desires. This, then, can change the
blissful sensation previously experienced into a serious mood: and then
only can it stir within us the feeling of liberating happiness, if we
abandon ourselves to the thought of the red blood that can become the
carrier of inner pure experiences, like the red sap of the rose. The
important point is that we should not look coldly and without feeling upon
these thoughts which serve to build up such a symbolical concept. After
dwelling for a time upon the above mentioned thoughts and feelings, let us
try to transmute them into the following symbolical concept. Let us
imagine a black cross. Let this be the symbol for the destroyed lower
element of our desires and passions and there where the beams of the cross
intersect, let us imagine seven red radiating roses arranged in a circle.
Let these roses be the symbol for a blood that is the expression of
cleansed and purified passions and desires.(26)

Now we must call up this symbolical concept before our soul just as has
been described in the case of a memory-concept. Such a concept has an
awakening power if one abandons oneself to it in inner meditation. One
must try during this meditation to exclude all other concepts. Only the
described symbol must float before the soul as vividly as possible.

It is not without significance that this symbol has been introduced, not
merely as an awakening percept, but because it has been constructed out of
certain perceptions concerning plants and man. For the effect of such a
symbol depends upon the fact of its being put together in this definite
manner, before employing it as an instrument for meditation. Should it be
called up without a previous process of construction such as has here been
delineated, the picture must remain cold and will be far less effective
than if it had by previous preparation gathered force with which to give
warmth to the soul. During meditation, however, one should not call up in
the soul all the preparatory thoughts, but merely allow the life-like
image to float before one’s mind and at the same time permit those
feelings which are the result of these preparatory thoughts to vibrate
with it. Thus the symbol becomes a sign, co-existent with the inner
experience. And it is the dwelling of the soul in this experience that is
the active principle. The longer one can do this, without admitting
disturbing impressions, the more effective will be the whole process.

It is well, however, in addition to the time used in meditation itself, to
repeat the building up of the image through the feelings, as described
above, so that the corresponding sensation may not pale.

The greater the patience brought to bear in performing these acts of
repetition, the more effective becomes this image for the soul.(27)

Such a symbol as has just been described represents no external object or
being evolved by nature, but for this very reason it possesses an
awakening power for certain inner faculties. It is true, someone may raise
the objection: certainly the “whole” as a symbol, does not exist in
nature; yet all its details are borrowed from nature, the black color, the
roses, etc. It can all be observed through the senses. He who is troubled
by such objections, ought to consider that it is not the images of these
sense perceptions that awaken the higher faculties of the soul, but that
this result is produced purely by the manner in which these details are
combined. And this combination does not then picture something that exists
in the sense-world.

A symbol was chosen as an example to show the process of effective
meditation of the soul. Many symbols of this kind are used in occult
training and are built up according to varying methods. Certain sentences,
formulæ, and single words can also be given as subjects for meditations,
and in every case the means used will have the same object, namely: to
detach the soul from sense-impressions and to stimulate it to an activity
in which the impressions of the physical senses play no longer any part
and in which the unfoldment of inner latent soul capacities becomes the

There are, however, also meditations based exclusively upon feelings,
sensations, etc., and these are especially effectual. Let us, for
instance, take the feeling of joy. In the normal course of life the soul
experiences pleasure when there exists an outer stimulus to pleasure. If a
healthily constituted soul perceives some act performed by a person,
indicative of the doer’s goodness of heart, then the soul will assuredly
feel pleasure and joy at such an act. But the soul is able to reflect upon
such an act, and can say to itself that an act done from sheer kindness of
heart is one in which the doer is following the interests of his
fellow-creatures rather than his own, and such an act may be called
ethically good. But the soul can lift itself above the perception of any
particular case in the outer world which has given it joy or pleasure, and
instead may arrive at a general concept of kindness. It can for instance,
think of kindness coming into existence through one soul making the
interests of others his own. And the soul can then experience joy over the
ethical idea of kindness. Therefore, the joy is then not over this or that
event of the sense-world, but it is the joy over the idea as such. If the
student now tries for some time to let this joy come to life within his
soul, then this is a meditation on a feeling, on a sensation. It is then
not the idea which is the active principle in the awakening of the inner
soul faculties, but the sustained dwelling upon that feeling within the
soul which has not been caused by merely a single external impression.

Occult science being in a position to penetrate far deeper into the being
of things than can be done by ordinary perception, the teacher will be
able to indicate to the pupil feelings and sentiments which are still more
powerful as awakening agents for the unfolding of the soul’s faculties
when used as subjects of meditation. Yet, necessary as this will be for
the higher degrees of training, it should be remembered that energetic
meditating upon subjects, such as kindness of heart may carry the student
very far on his way.

Since the natures of human beings differ, special methods of training are
effective for particular individuals. As to the duration of time to be
devoted to meditation, we may remind the student that the greater the
length of time during which he can meditate uninterruptedly, the stronger
will be the effect. But every excess in these matters should be avoided.
There is, however, a certain inner discretion, resulting from these
exercises themselves which teaches the pupil to keep within due bounds in
this regard. Those who pursue their studies in occult science under the
personal guidance of a teacher will receive from him precise instruction
and advice in these particulars. Nevertheless, it must be emphatically
understood that only experienced occultists are in a position to impart
such advice.

Such exercises in meditation will generally require practice for some time
before the student can become aware of any result. What is essential to
occult science is patience and perseverance. He who is unable to awaken
these two qualities within himself and who cannot continually practice his
exercises in quietude, so that patience and perseverance are always the
predominant note in his soul-life, cannot attain very great progress. From
what has been said above, the reader will have gathered that meditation is
a means of acquiring knowledge of the higher worlds, but he will also see
that not just any percept whatsoever, taken at random, is productive of
this result, but only those of the kind before-mentioned.

The path here indicated leads in the first place to what is called
imaginative knowledge, and this is the first step toward the higher
knowledge. Knowledge, dependent upon sense-perceptions and upon the
working up of such perceptions by reason, which is sense-bound, is, to use
the occult term, known as “objective cognition.” Beyond this are higher
degrees of knowledge, the imaginative stage being, as we have said, the
first. Now the term “imaginative” can cause confusion in the minds of
some, to whom “imagination” stands only for “imaginings”—that is concepts
that lack reality. In occult science, however, “imaginative” cognition
must be understood to be that kind of cognition which results from a
supersensible state of consciousness of the soul. The things perceived in
this state of consciousness are spiritual facts, and spiritual beings, to
which the senses have no access, and—since this condition of the soul is
caused by meditating upon symbols, or “imaginations”—the sphere to which
this condition of higher consciousness belongs may be termed the
imaginative world, and the knowledge relating to it, imaginative
knowledge. “Imaginative” stands, therefore, in this sense, for that which
is “actual” in a higher sense than are the facts and beings of physical

A very natural objection to the use of the symbolic pictures here
characterized is that they arise from a dreamy thinking and an arbitrary
imagination, and might therefore have doubtful consequences. But any such
doubts are unjustified in regard to the symbols given by true occult
schools. For these symbols are chosen in such a way that they can be
looked at quite apart from their connection with outer sense reality, and
their value is to be found exclusively in the power with which they work
upon the soul when it turns its attention wholly away from the outer
world, when it suppresses all sense-impressions and shuts out every
thought to which it might be stimulated from without. The process of
meditations is best demonstrated by comparison with sleep. In one respect
it is like the state of sleep; in another, the exact opposite of it. It is
a sleep which when compared to the day-consciousness, represents a higher
state of being. The point is that by concentration on the given conception
or image, the soul is obliged to call up much stronger forces out of its
own depths than it uses in ordinary life or knowledge. Its inner activity
is thereby enhanced. It becomes detached from the body, as it does in
sleep; but instead of passing, as in the latter case, into
unconsciousness, it experiences a world it did not know before. Although
as regards detachment from the body this condition may be compared with
sleep, yet it is such that, compared with ordinary waking consciousness,
it may be characterized as a more intense waking state. By this means the
soul learns to know itself in its true, inner, independent being. But in
ordinary life, owing to the weaker development of its forces, it is only
with the help of the body that the soul arrives at self-consciousness.
Therefore it does not experience itself but merely sees itself in that
image which—like a kind of reflection—is traced, by the physical body (or,
properly speaking, by its processes).

These symbols built up in the manner above described are not as yet
related to anything real in the spiritual world, but they serve to detach
the human soul from sense-observations and from that instrument, the
brain, to which the reason is at first fettered. This detachment is not
effected until man is able to feel: “I am now perceiving something by
means of powers for which neither my senses nor my brain serve as the
instruments”; and the first thing man thus experiences is a liberation
from the organs of sense. He is then able to say to himself: “My
consciousness does not vanish when I cease to take cognizance of
sense-perceptions and ordinary reasoned thought; I can lift myself out of
those conditions and then feel myself as a being alongside of that which I
was before”—and this is the first purely spiritual experience; the
perception of a psycho-spiritual Ego-being. This has arisen as a new self
out of that self which is linked to the physical senses and physical
reason only.

Had this detachment from the world of the senses and from the reason been
effected without meditation, the person would have lapsed into the
nothingness of the unconscious state. This psycho-spiritual being was our
possession prior to meditation also, but it then lacked the organs for
perception of the spirit-world; and it might, indeed, have been compared
to the physical body without the eye to see—the ear to hear. The strength
thus employed in meditation has, in fact, been the creative means by which
these psycho-spiritual organs have been formed out of a previously
unorganized psycho-spiritual being. But this which man thus creates for
himself is also the first thing to be perceived by him. The first
experience is therefore in a certain sense, a kind of “self-perception.”
It belongs to the nature of spiritual training that the soul, through the
self training which it gives itself at this point of its development,
becomes fully conscious that the first thing it perceives in the world of
imaginative forms, which appear as a result of the exercises described, is
itself. It is true that these images make their appearance as a new world,
but the soul must recognize that they are, however, at first nothing but
the reflection of its own being, which has been strengthened by exercises.
And it must not only recognize this by correct reasoning, but must have
arrived at such a cultivation of the will that it is able at any time to
put away and obliterate the images from the consciousness.

The soul must be able to act with complete independence within these
images. This is part of true spiritual training at this stage. If it could
not do this, it would be in the same position, in the sphere of spiritual
experiences, as a soul in the physical world which, on looking at an
object, has its attention so arrested by it that it cannot look away. An
exception to this possibility of obliteration is formed by a group of
inner imaginative experiences which should _not_ be extinguished at this
stage of spiritual training. They correspond to the inmost kernel of the
soul’s being, and the occult student recognizes in those images that which
forms the very essence of his being which passes through the various
repeated earth lives. At this point the knowledge of repeated earth lives
becomes an actual experience. In relation to everything else the
before-mentioned independence of experience must prevail. And only after
acquiring the faculty of obliterating experiences, is the spiritual outer
world really approached. What is obliterated returns in another form, and
is experienced as a spiritual outer reality. One feels that out of
something indefinite one grows psychically into something definite. From
this self-perception, one must then proceed to the observation of a
psycho-spiritual outer world. This comes to pass when we can order our
inner experience after the manner to be indicated in the following pages.

At first, the soul of the occult student is feeble in all that appertains
to a perception of the psycho-spiritual world; and he will therefore need
all the inner energy he can summon in order, while meditating, to hold
firm the symbols or other concepts which he has built up from the impulses
of the sense-world. Should he, however, desire to attain to an actual
observation of the higher world, he will not alone have to maintain his
hold on these, he must also, after having done this, be able to remain in
a condition in which not only no influences of the outer sense-world can
affect the soul, but in which also the images above characterized shall
have been effaced from his consciousness. Only now can that which has been
previously formed by means of meditation enter the plane of his
consciousness. The important point is that there should be at this stage
sufficient soul force to spiritually perceive that which has thus been
formed through meditation, so that it may not elude the observer’s
attention, as is always the case if this inner energy is still
insufficiently developed.

That which is here evolved as a psycho-spiritual organism and which should
be comprehended through self-perception, is delicate and subtle. The
disturbing influences of the outer sense-world, however one may try to
exclude them, are nevertheless great. It is not merely a question of those
disturbances to which we are able to pay heed, but far more of those which
in ordinary life are ever eluding our notice. But it is just through the
very nature of man that a transitory condition in this respect becomes
possible. What the soul, in its waking state, was powerless to effect,
owing to the disturbances of the physical world, it is capable of
achieving during sleep. One who gives himself up to serious meditation
will, with the proper attention, become aware of a certain change in his
sleep. He will feel that while sleeping, he is yet not quite asleep, but
that his soul has times when, although asleep, still it is, in a certain
way, active. During these conditions, nature wards off the influences of
the outer world which the waking soul is not yet able to keep away of its
own strength. When, however, the meditation exercises have taken effect,
the soul, during sleep, detaches itself from unconsciousness, and becomes
aware of the psycho-spiritual world. This can happen in two ways: the
person may, while asleep, become aware that is is in another world, or he
may, after awakening, remember that he has been in another world. But the
former of these two feelings requires the greater degree of inner energy,
for which reason the second is the more common among beginners in occult
training. But it may gradually come to pass that the student will become
aware of having been during the entire time of sleep in this other world,
only emerging therefrom when he awakes. And his memory of beings and facts
connected with this other world will become ever more and more distinct,
thus showing that in one form or another he has now entered upon what one
may call continuity of consciousness. (The continuation of consciousness
during sleep.)

Still, for this to be so, it is not necessary that man’s consciousness
should _always_ continue during sleep. Much will already have been
attained in the matter of the continuity of consciousness should the
person, whose sleep is in general like that of the ordinary individual,
have certain periods during his sleeping hours when he is aware of being
in the psycho-spiritual world; or if, on awakening, he is able to remember
such a condition of consciousness. It should, however, be borne in mind
that what is here described is to be understood only as a transition
state. It is well to pass through this state as a part of training; yet it
should not be imagined that any conclusive views concerning the
psycho-spiritual world may be gained from this transition state, for in
this condition the soul is uncertain, and unable as yet to rely upon its
own perceptions. But through such experiences the soul gathers ever more
strength enabling it also during waking hours to ward off the disturbing
influences of the physical outer and inner world and thus to attain
psycho-spiritual observation. Then impressions through the senses no
longer reach the soul; brain-fettered reason is silent and even the image
of the meditation, through which one has only prepared oneself for
spiritual vision, has been dropped from consciousness. Whatever is given
out through occult science in this or that form should never originate in
any psycho-spiritual observation other than that which is made with fully
waking consciousness. The first experience is one in which the student can
say to himself: Even should I now disregard everything that can come to me
through impressions from the outer physical world, still I look upon my
inner being not as upon one in which all activity has ceased, but I look
upon a being which is self-conscious in a world of which I know nothing as
long as I permit myself to be governed only by the impressions of ordinary
reason and of the senses. The soul at this moment has the sensation that,
in the manner described above, it has given birth to a new being as its
own essential soul-kernel. And the being possesses totally different
qualities from those which were previously present in the soul.

The second experience of the soul is one in which man has his former
being, like a second independent one, alongside of himself. That which had
up to this time been imprisoned, evolves now into something we are able to
confront; we feel, in fact, at certain times outside of what we have been
accustomed to regard as our own being, as our own ego. It is as though one
now lived in two egos,—one, which we have hitherto known; the other, a
newly born being, superior to the first,—and we become aware that the
former ego acquires a certain independence in its relationship to the
second, just as the physical body has a certain measure of freedom in its
relation to that first ego.

This is an event of great importance, for through it man comes to know
what it means to live in that world which he has been endeavoring to reach
by means of training. It is this second, this new-born, ego which can be
led to cognizance of the spiritual world, and in it can be developed that
which has as much significance for the spiritual world as our sense organs
have for the physical world of the senses. Should this development have
attained to the requisite degree, the student will not only be aware of
himself as a new-born ego, but he will recognize the spiritual facts and
entities around him, just as he perceives the physical world through the
action of his physical senses; and this is a third important experience.

To meet properly this stage of spiritual training one must take into
account that with the strengthening of the forces of the soul a degree of
self-love and egoism appears with such intensity as is quite unknown in
the ordinary life of the soul. It would be a mistake for anyone to think
that it is only a case of ordinary self-love at this point. Self-love
becomes so strong at this stage of development that it acquires the
strength of a nature-force within the soul, and a vigorous training of the
will is necessary in order to conquer this powerful egoism. This training
of the will must go hand in hand with the rest of the spiritual training.
A strong inclination exists to feel absolutely happy in a world which we
have gradually created for ourselves. And we must be able to obliterate,
in the manner above described, that to which we have previously devoted
ourselves with all our powers. We must efface _ourselves_ in the
imaginative world we have reached. But this effacement is opposed by the
strongest impulses of egoism.

The idea might easily arise that the exercises in spiritual training are
something merely external which have no connection with the moral
development of the soul. In this connection it must be said that the moral
force necessary for the conquest of egoism, as described, cannot be gained
unless the moral condition of the soul is brought to a corresponding
stage. Progress in spiritual training is unthinkable unless moral progress
takes place at the same time. The conquest of egoism is impossible without
moral force. All talk of spiritual training not being at the same time
moral training is certainly contrary to fact.

Only he who passes through such an experience might advance the following
objections: how can one be sure to be dealing with actualities, and not
with mere fancies, visions or hallucinations, when he thinks he is having
spiritual perceptions? Now the matter lies thus: every person, who has
been systematically trained and who has arrived at the stage already
characterized, will be in a position to note the difference between his
own percept and a spiritual reality, just as well as a man endowed with
sound sense knows the difference between the percept of a bar of hot iron
and the actual presence of such a bar that he touches with his hand. The
difference is determined by experience and by nothing else; and in the
spiritual world, too, life is the touchstone. Just as we know that in the
world of the senses an imagined bar of iron, however hot, will burn no
one’s fingers, so does the trained occultist know whether he is passing
through a spiritual experience merely in his imagination or whether his
awakened spiritual organs of perceptions are impressed by actual facts or
beings. The precautions to be taken during schooling, in order that the
student may not fall a victim to such delusions will be dealt with in the
following pages.

It is of the greatest importance that the student should have attained to
a certain very definite condition of the soul when the consciousness of
the new-born ego commences. For through his ego, man is the ruler of his
sensations, feelings, and conceptions, his impulses, desires, and
passions. Observations and percepts cannot be left in the soul to follow
their own devices; they must be regulated according to the laws of
thought. And it is the ego, as it were, that controls these thought-laws,
and by means of them brings order into the life of perception and thought.

It is similar with regard to desires and passions, inclinations and
impulses. The fundamental ethical laws become the guides of these forces
of the soul, and by reason of the moral judgment, the ego becomes the
soul’s guide within this domain. Now if a person detaches a higher ego
from his ordinary ego, the latter becomes to a certain extent independent.
That much life-power is now taken away from it as is needed for the use of
that higher ego. But let us consider the case of a person who has not, as
yet, developed certain ability and firmness in exercising the laws of
thought and in the power of judgment, but who nevertheless desires to
bring about the birth of his higher ego. He will be able to leave to his
ordinary ego only as much thought capacity as he has previously developed.
If the amount of well-ordered thinking is insufficient, then the ordinary
ego which has now become independent, will certainly fall victim to
confused, disordered, fantastic thoughts and judgment, and moreover, since
in such a case the new-born ego must inevitably be weak also, the
disordered lower ego will gain the upper hand, and the person will lose
his ability for balanced judgment. Had he developed sufficient capability
and firmness in logical thinking, he might have calmly left his ordinary
ego to go its own way.

In the ethical sphere it is precisely the same. Should a person not have
attained firmness in the matter of his moral judgment, should he not have
become sufficiently master over his inclinations, impulses, and passions,
he will then render his ordinary ego independent while in a condition in
which it will be overwhelmed by all these soul forces. It may then happen
that the person will become worse through the birth of his higher ego than
he was before. Had he waited to bring about this birth until he had
sufficiently developed his ordinary self, attaining firmness in the matter
of ethical judgment, stability of character, and depth of conscience, he
would then have been in a position to have all these virtues left within
that first ego when the birth of the second came about. Neglecting to do
so, however, lays him open to the danger of losing his moral balance,
which under the right course of training cannot happen.

Two things must here be borne in mind. First, that the facts above related
should be taken as seriously as possible; secondly, that, on the other
hand, they should in no way deter one from entering upon such training.

Anyone who has the firm intention of doing all in his power that may give
confidence to the first ego in the execution of what it has to fulfil,
need never be dismayed when the second ego becomes detached as the result
of such spiritual training. Yet he must remember that the power of
self-delusion in man is very great with regard to the belief that he has
now reached the stage of “ripeness” for any special thing.

During the spiritual training here described the student develops his
thought-life to such an extent that he is not exposed to dangers which are
often thought to be connected with training. This cultivation of thought
brings about all the inner experiences that are necessary, but causes them
to be so enacted that the soul lives through them without any injurious
shocks. Without an adequate development of thought, these experiences may
produce a feeling of great uncertainty in the soul. The method here
emphasized calls forth experiences in such a way that they may produce all
their effect and yet not cause serious shocks. By developing the life of
thought the student becomes more of a _spectator_ of the experiences of
his inner life, whereas without such thought-development he is in the very
midst of the experience and is shaken by all the shocks incidental to it.

Systematic training points out certain qualities which the student must
acquire by means of exercises, in order to find the way to the higher
worlds and especial stress is laid on the following,—control of the soul
over its thoughts, its will, and its feelings. The manner in which this
control is acquired through exercise has a dual aim. On the one hand, the
soul by this practice acquires a firmness, reliance, and balance, which
will not forsake it even after the birth of the second ego; and on the
other hand, this latter ego is provided with strength and inner fortitude
for its journey.

What is required is that man’s thinking power shall in all domains conform
to facts. In the physical world of the senses, life is the great teacher
of the human ego with regard to reality. Were the soul to allow its
thoughts to roam aimlessly hither and thither, it would soon be corrected
by life, unless it were willing to enter into combat with it; the soul
must conform its thoughts to the facts of life. Now, when man leads his
thoughts away from the world of the physical senses, he misses the
corrective influence of this latter. If his thought is not able to be its
own mentor, it will be as unsteady as a will-o’-the-wisp. Consequently,
the student’s thought must be exercised in such a way that its course and
object are self-determined. Inner firmness and a capacity to concentrate
strictly on one object: this is what such thinking must of itself
engender. And for this reason the thought exercises should not be
concerned with complicated objects or those foreign to life, but should,
on the contrary, deal with those that are simple and familiar. Any one who
succeeds in fixing his mind, over a period of several months and for a
space of at least five minutes a day, on such ordinary objects as a pin or
a lead pencil, excluding for the time being all other thoughts not
concerned with the object under contemplation, will have accomplished much
in the right direction. (A new article may be chosen each day, or the same
one adhered to for the space of several days.)

Even those who feel themselves to be “thinkers” need not despise this
method of preparing themselves for occult training, because by fixing the
attention for a time upon a really familiar object one may be sure that he
will be thinking in accordance with facts, and one who asks himself the
questions: “What are the constituent parts of a pencil?” “How are these
materials prepared?” “How are they afterwards put together?” “When were
pencils invented, etc.?” will surely be adapting his perceptions to
realities more than he who meditates on the descent of man, or asks
himself what life is.

Simple thought exercises prepare us better for an adequate concept of the
world in its Saturn, Sun, and Moon stages of development than those based
on learned and complicated ideas. For the important thing is not at all
just to think, but to think in conformity with facts by means of an inner
force. Once one has been trained to accuracy by means of an obvious,
physical sense process, the desire to think in conformity with facts will
have become habitual, even if thought does not feel itself under the
control of the physical sense-world and its laws; we then lose the
tendency to let our thoughts drift about aimlessly.

And as in the world of thought, so in the realm of the will, the soul must
become the ruler. In the physical sense-world it is life that rules. It
urges upon man this or that as a necessity, and the will feels itself
constrained to satisfy these same wants. In following higher training, man
must accustom himself to obey his own commands strictly, and those who
acquire this habit will feel less and less inclined to desire what is of
no moment. All that is unsatisfying and unstable in the life of the will
comes from the desire for things of the possession of which we have formed
no distinct concept. Discontent such as this may, when the higher ego is
desirous of emerging from the soul, throw that person’s whole inner life
into disorder; and it is a good exercise to give oneself for the space of
several months some command to be carried out at a specified time of day:
“To-day, at this or that particular hour, you will do this or that thing.”
Thus we gradually become able to command the time at which a thing is to
be done and the manner in which it is to be performed, so as to admit of
its being accomplished with utmost exactitude. Thus we lift ourselves
above the bad habit of saying, “I should like this,” and “I want the
other,” while exercising no thought of the possibility of its

In the second part of _Faust_, Goethe puts the following words into the
mouth of a seeress: “Him I love who craves the impossible,” and Goethe
himself, in his “Prose Proverbs,” says: “To live in the idea means
treating the impossible as though ’t were possible.”

Such sentiments must not be put forward as objections against what has
here been stated, for the demands made by Goethe and his seeress (Manto)
can be fulfilled only by those who have first educated themselves through
desire for that which is possible, and have in so doing, arrived at being
able, by means of their strong “will,” to treat the “impossible” in such a
manner that through their willing it becomes transformed into the

A certain equanimity should pervade the soul of the occult student
concerning the world of feeling. And to attain this result, it is
necessary that the soul should have mastery over the expressions of joy
and sorrow, pleasure and pain. But it is just concerning the acquisition
of this faculty that some prejudice might arise: one might be afraid of
becoming dull and indifferent if he does not “rejoice with them that do
rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Yet this is not what is meant.
What is pleasurable _should_ rejoice the soul, and sorrow _should_ give it
pain, but what the soul is to learn to achieve is control over the
expression of joy and sorrow. If that is his aim, the student will become
aware that, far from becoming “dull and unsympathetic,” he will be growing
all the more receptive to the joy and sorrow around him. But it is true
that the student will here find that he needs to watch himself carefully
for a considerable time to be able to acquire the faculty indicated. He
must be careful to see that he partakes of pain and pleasure to the full,
yet without so giving himself up to either that he gives involuntary
expression to it. It is not justified sorrow that should be suppressed,
but the involuntary weeping; not the revulsion against a mean act, but the
blind raging in anger; not the precaution against danger, but the
senseless “being afraid,” etc.

It is only by means of such exercises that the occult student can gain the
inner calmness of soul necessary in order that, at the birth of the higher
ego, the soul may not find itself as a kind of double, leading a second
and unhealthy life alongside of the higher self. It is especially in these
matters that we should not yield to self-deception. Some people may be of
the opinion that they already possess in everyday life a certain degree of
equanimity, and that they therefore stand in no need of such exercises;
yet it is especially those who doubly need them. For it is quite possible
to remain equable when surveying the things of this life, and then when
ascending into the higher world to show evidences of a want of equanimity
all the greater because it had only been held in check. For it should be
emphatically understood that in the matter of occult training it is not so
much a question of what we may already seem to possess, but of carefully
and regularly practicing what we need. Contradictory as this phrase may
appear, it is nevertheless true that though life may have trained us to
this or to that, the qualities to serve us in occult training are those
that we have acquired for ourselves. Should life have rendered us
excitable, we must train ourselves to conquering this trait; yet if life
has engendered in us equanimity, we should so rouse ourselves by our own
efforts that the soul may be capable of responding to the impressions it
receives. The man who cannot laugh at anything, has just as little control
over his laughter as one who is perpetually giving way to uncontrolled

Thought and feeling may be cultivated by yet another means, namely, by the
acquirement of the characteristic known as positiveness. There is a
beautiful legend in which it is related of Christ Jesus, that He, with
others, passed the dead body of a dog. The others turned aside from the
hideous sight, but Christ Jesus spoke admiringly of the creature’s
beautiful teeth. One can, through practice, attain to the condition of
mind in regard to the world, which is indicated in this legend. Error,
vice, and ugliness should not deter the soul from seeing truth, goodness,
and beauty, wherever they are to be found. Nor is this positiveness to be
mistaken for want of judgment, or for deliberately closing the eyes to
what is bad, false, and inferior. He who can admire the beautiful teeth of
a decaying animal can also see that decaying corpse—yet the corpse does
not hinder his observing the beauty of the teeth. Thus, though what is bad
cannot be deemed good, nor error acclaimed as truth, we can yet train
ourselves so that what is bad need not prevent us from recognizing what is
good, nor need errors render us insensible to that which is true.

Thought, combined with will, attains to a certain maturity if we strive
never to allow what we have already experienced or learned to rob us of
our unbiased receptiveness for new experiences. Such a thought as: “I have
never heard that before; I don’t believe it!” should lose all significance
where the occult student is concerned; indeed, he should endeavour, for a
fixed period of time, to allow every thing and every creature to convey
something new to his mind. Every breath of air, every leaf on the tree,
the prattling of a child,—each and all will teach him something, provided
he be willing to bring a different point of view to bear upon it from the
one he has hitherto held.

It may, of course, be possible to go too far in this particular, and we
must not at any time lose sight of the experiences we have previously had.
Indeed, what we experience in the present should be judged in accordance
with the sum of our past experiences. These must be laid on one side of
the scale, while on the other the occult student should place an
inclination for ever gathering new knowledge. Above all, a belief in the
possibility that new experiences may contradict the old.

Thus we have enumerated those five qualities of the soul which the occult
student in regular training, should acquire; control of the trend of his
thoughts; control of the impulses of his will; equanimity in sorrow and
joy; positiveness in his judgment of the world; and impartiality in his
view of life. After giving consecutive periods of time to the acquiring of
these qualities through continued practice, the student must go still
further, and bring all these qualities into a harmonious whole within the
soul, to achieve which, he will have to practice the exercises in twos and
twos together, or three and one, simultaneously, so as to bring about the
harmony desired.

The exercises indicated above are thus given out by occult teaching
because if faithfully carried out, they not only produce in the occult
student what we have called above direct results, but they lead indirectly
to much else that is needed on the path to the higher worlds. He who
practices these exercises sufficiently will, while doing so, become aware
of many a lack and many a failing in his own soul-life, and he will at the
same time find in them the very means necessary to give strength and
security to the intellect, to the emotional tendencies and to the
character as well. He will assuredly need many additional exercises,
according to his capacities, temperament, and character; these, however,
will present themselves if the above be frequently carried out. Indeed,
one will notice that the already indicated exercises, indirectly,
gradually yield that which at first does not seem to be in them. A person
endowed with but little self-confidence, for instance, finds in the course
of time, that by persistent practice the needed confidence in himself has
come about. And it is the same with many other soul qualities.(28)

It is a matter of significance that the occult student is capable of
raising these capabilities to ever higher degrees; and he must succeed in
so controlling his thoughts and feelings that the soul will have power to
maintain complete inner quietude for certain periods of time—periods
during which he can keep out of his mind and heart all those things that
in any way concern the outer everyday life, its joys and sorrows, its
pleasures and cares, even its tasks and demands. At such a time nothing
should be allowed entrance into the soul except what the soul itself
admits. An abjection may easily be made to this. One might imagine that
alienation must result if the student withdraws in heart and spirit from
life and its duties for a certain part of the day. Yet in reality, this is
by no means the case. For those who, in the above manner, give themselves
up to periods of inner quietude and peace will find that out of these
there grows such a fund of energy for fulfilling the outer duties of life
that they are not only not less efficiently performed, but assuredly more

It is of great benefit at such times to detach oneself entirely from
thoughts of personal affairs, and to be able to raise oneself to that
which affects not oneself alone, but all mankind. If he is then able to
fill his soul with messages from a higher spiritual world, and if they
have the power of enthralling his soul to as intense a degree as any
personal concern or care, then indeed will his soul have gathered fruit of
especial value.

Those who thus exert themselves to regulate their soul-life will arrive at
the possibility of a degree of self-observation that will permit them to
review their personal affairs with the same tranquillity as those of
others. Seeing one’s own experiences and one’s own joys and sorrows in the
light in which those of another appear, is a good preparation for occult
training. We bring this exercise gradually to the necessary stage, if,
after the day’s work is over, we allow the pictures of the day’s
occurrences to pass before the mind’s eye. We would then see ourselves
within our own experiences as in a picture; in other words, we would look
at ourselves in our daily life, as an outside observer.

A certain practice in self-observation having been gained by concentrating
the attention upon short divisions of the day’s experience, the student
will become more and more expert in this kind of retrospect, continued
practice enabling him to review the events of the whole day completely and
quickly. It will become ever more and more the ideal of the occult student
to assume such an attitude with regard to the events of life which
confront him that he will be able to await their approach with absolute
calm and inner confidence, no longer judging them by the state of his own
soul but according to their own inner meaning and inner worth. And it is
by looking to this ideal that he will create a condition of soul that will
enable him to meditate profoundly, as described above, upon symbolical and
other thoughts and feelings.

The conditions here described must be fulfilled, because supersensible
experience is built upon the foundation on which the student stands in his
ordinary soul-life, before he enters the supersensible world. In a
two-fold way, all supersensible experience is dependent upon the soul’s
point of departure before entering that world. One who is not intent, from
the outset, on making sound powers of judgment the foundation of his
spiritual training will develop supersensible capacities which perceive
the spiritual world inaccurately and incorrectly. To a certain extent his
spiritual organs of perception will develop in the wrong way. And just as
a man with a defective or diseased eye cannot see correctly in the
sense-world, so it is not possible to have true perceptions with spiritual
organs which are not built upon the foundation of sound powers of
judgment. One who starts from an immoral state of soul rises into the
spiritual worlds with his spiritual vision stupified and clouded. In
regard to supersensible worlds he is like a person in the sense-world who
makes observations in a state of lethargy. The latter, however, will not
be able to make any statements of consequence, whereas the spiritual
observer, even in his stupefaction, is more awake than a person in the
ordinary state of consciousness, and the results of his observations will
therefore be erroneous in regard to the spiritual world.


The highest possibilities of imaginative cognition can be realized by
supporting the aforesaid meditations by that which one might call
“sense-free” thinking. Now when we formulate an idea based upon
observations made in the physical sense-world, our thought is not free
from sense-impressions. Yet it is not as though man could formulate only
such ideas: human thought need not become void and meaningless simply
because it is not filled with observations derived through the channels of
the senses. The most direct and the safest way for the occult student to
acquire this “sense-free” thinking, is to make the facts of the higher
worlds presented by occult science, the subject of his thoughts. These
facts cannot be observed by means of the physical senses; nevertheless,
the student will find that he will be able to grasp them—if only he has
enough patience and perseverance. No one can explore higher worlds, or
make his own observations therein, without having been trained. But it is
quite possible without training to understand everything which
investigators communicate about those regions. Should anyone ask, “How can
I accept on trust what the occultist tells me, being myself as yet unable
to see it?”—such an objection would be groundless, for it is perfectly
possible to arrive through mere reflective thinking at the sure conviction
that the matters thus communicated are true.

If a man is unable, through reflecting, to arrive at such a conviction,
the reason is not that he cannot possibly “believe” something he cannot
see, but simply because he has not as yet applied his powers of reflective
thinking in a sufficiently unbiased, comprehensive and profound manner.

In order to be clear on this point, it must be borne in mind that human
thought, if it arouses itself to energetic activity, can understand more
than it usually imagines possible. For in thought there is an inner
essence which is in connection with the supersensible world. The soul is
not usually conscious of this connection, because it is wont to train its
faculty of thought only through the world of sense. On this account it
thinks incomprehensible what is imparted to it from the supersensible
world. What is thus communicated is, however, not only intelligible to
thought which has been spiritually trained, but to any thinking which is
fully conscious of its power and is willing to make use of it.

By the persevering assimilation of what occult teachers are able to impart
to us we habituate ourselves to a line of thought that is not derived from
sense-observation, and we learn to recognize how, within the soul, one
thought is allied to another, and how one thought calls forth another,
even when the connection of ideas is not occasioned by any power of
sense-observation. The essential point is that by this method we become
aware of the fact that the world of thought possesses an inner life, and
that while we are engaged in thought we are, indeed, in the realm of a
supersensible living power. Thus we may say to ourselves: “There is
something within me that develops an organism of thought; nevertheless, I
am one with this something.” And thus in yielding to this sense-free
thinking, we experience something like a being, which flows into our inner
life, just as the qualities of the things of the senses flow into us
through our physical organs when used for sense-observation.

“Out there in space,” says the observer of the sense-world, “is a rose: it
is not unfamiliar to me, for both scent and colour proclaim its presence.”
And in like manner, when sense-free thought is working within us, we need
only be sufficiently unbiased in order to be able to say: “Something real
proclaims its presence to me, linking thought to thought and constituting
a thought-organism”—only there is a difference to be noted between the
communication coming to the observer from the outer world of the senses,
and that which actually reaches the sense-free thinker. The former feels
that he is standing without—in front of the rose—whereas he who has given
himself up to thinking which is untrammelled by the senses will feel
_within himself_ whatever thus proclaims its presence to him; he will feel
himself one with it.

Those who, more or less, unconsciously consider as beings only that which
they can perceive as external objects, will, it is true, be unable to
entertain the feeling that whatever has the nature of a being, can also
manifest itself within man by his becoming one with it. In order to judge
correctly one must be able to have the following inner experiences: one
must learn to distinguish between the thought combinations created through
one’s own volition, and those experienced without any voluntary exercise
of the will. In the latter case, we may then say: I remain quite still
within myself; I produce no trains of thought; I yield to that which
“thinks within me.” Then we are fully justified in saying: Within me a
being is acting, just as we are justified in saying that the rose acts
upon us when we see a certain red, when we perceive a certain odor.

Nor is there any contradiction in having derived the contents of our ideas
from communications made by the occult seer. The ideas are, it is true
already there when we devote ourselves to them; yet they cannot be
“thought”, without in each case being created anew within the soul. The
important point is that the occult teacher seeks to awaken in his hearers
and readers the kind of thoughts which they must first call forth from
within themselves, whereas he who describes some physical object indicates
something that the listener or reader may observe within the sense-world.

(The path which leads to sense-free thinking by means of the
communications made by occult science is thoroughly safe. But there is
also another method even safer and above all things more exact, yet for
this very reason more difficult for the majority. This method is set forth
in my two books, “_Goethe’s Conception of the World_” and “_The __
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity_.” These writings set forth what human
thought can achieve for itself, if the thinking is not under the influence
of the physical sense impressions but relies merely upon itself. Then pure
thinking works within man like a living being. At the same time nothing in
the above-mentioned writings is derived from communications due to occult
science itself, and yet it is shown that pure, self-reliant thinking can
obtain information about the world, life and man.

These writings therefore occupy a very important intermediate position
between the actual cognition of the sense-world and that of the spiritual
world. They present that which thinking can gain when it raises itself
above sense-observation and yet does not enter into occult research.
Anyone who allows these books to work upon his whole soul, already stands
within the spiritual world, but it appears to him as a world of thought.
Those who are in a position to allow this intermediate condition to act
upon them, will be following a safe and sane path and can thus win for
themselves a feeling concerning the higher worlds, which will for all
future time ensure for them most abundant results.)


The object of meditating upon the above described symbolical concepts and
feelings is, strictly speaking, the development of the higher organs of
cognition within man’s astral body. They are in the first place created
from the substance of the astral body. These new organs of observation
establish a connection with a new world wherein man learns to know himself
as a new ego.

These new organs of perception are first of all to be distinguished from
those of the physical sense-world by being _active_ organs. Whereas the
eye and ear are passive, allowing light and sound to work upon them, it
may be said of these perceptive organs of the soul and spirit that, while
functioning they are in a perpetual state of activity, and that they seize
hold of their objects and facts, as it were, in full consciousness. This
gives rise to the feeling that psycho-spiritual cognition is a union
with,—a “dwelling within,”—the corresponding facts.

These separately evolving psycho-spiritual organs may be compared to
“lotus flowers” corresponding to the appearance which they present to the
clairvoyant consciousness, as they are formed from the substance of the
astral body.(29)

Very definite kinds of meditation act upon the astral body in such manner
that certain psycho-spiritual organs, the so-called “lotus flowers,” are
developed. Any proper meditation undertaken with the view of attaining to
imaginative cognition has its effect upon one or another of these

A regular course of training arranges and orders the separate exercises to
be practised by the occult student, so that these organs may either
simultaneously or consecutively attain their suitable development, and on
this process the student will have to bring much patience and perseverance
to bear. Those, indeed, who are possessed of no more than the average
amount of patience with which man, under ordinary conditions of life is
endowed, will not reach very far. For it takes a long—often a very long
time indeed—before these organs have reached a point at which the occult
student is able to use them for observing things in the higher worlds. At
this point comes what is known as “illumination,” in contradistinction to
the “preparation,” or “purification,” which consists in the practices
undertaken for the formation of these organs. (The term “purification” is
used because in order to reach certain phases of inner life, the pupil
cleanses himself through the corresponding exercises, of that which
belongs to the world of sense observation.)

It is, however, quite possible that before actual illumination, the
student may get repeated “flashes of light” from a higher world. These he
should receive gratefully. Even these can make him a witness of the
spiritual realms. Yet he must not falter should this never be vouchsafed
him during his entire period of preparation, and should its consequent
duration seem all too long to him. Indeed, those who yield to impatience
“because they can as yet see nothing,” have not yet acquired the right
attitude toward the higher worlds. Those alone will be in a position to
grasp this who can view the exercises they undertake as an object in
themselves. For this practice is in truth a working on something
psycho-spiritual, namely, on their own astral body; even though they do
not “see,” they can “feel” that they are working on the psycho-spiritual
plane. Only when we have a preconceived idea of what we “wish to see,” are
we unable to experience this feeling. In that case we may consider as
nothing what is, in reality, of immeasurable importance. But one should
observe minutely everything which one experiences while
practicing,—experiences which are so fundamentally different from those of
the sense-world. We shall then become aware that we cannot work upon our
astral body as though it were some indifferent substance; but that in it
there lives a totally different world of which the life of our senses does
not inform us.

Higher entities act upon the astral body in the same way in which the
world of the physical senses acts upon the physical body, and we “come
upon” that higher life in our own astral body, provided only we do not
shut ourselves out from it. If we are perpetually saying: “I am aware of
nothing,” then it is generally the case that we imagined that these
experiences should appear thus and so; and because we do not see what we
imagined we should see, we say, “I can see nothing.”

However, he who is able to acquire the right attitude of mind with regard
to his practice during training, will find more and more that he has
something which he loves for its own sake and which, as an immeasurably
important vital function, he can no longer do without. He will then know
that through these very practices he is standing in the psycho-spiritual
world and will await with patience and resignation what may further
transpire. This attitude of mind of the student may best be expressed in
such words as these: “I _will_ do all the exercises which have been
assigned to me; for I know that in the fullness of time as much will come
to me as I should receive; I do not ask for it impatiently, but I prepare
myself to receive it.” On the other hand one should not raise the
objection: The occult student, then, is expected perhaps for a long time
to feel around in the dark, because he cannot know that he is on the right
path with his exercises, before he obtains results. It is not true,
however, that he must wait until the results prove to him the correctness
of the exercises. If the attitude of the student is right, then the
satisfaction which he experiences in the practice of these exercises, in
itself carries the conviction that he is doing the right thing, and he
does not need to wait for results to prove it. The correct practice of
exercises in occult training brings with it a satisfaction that is not
merely satisfaction, but conviction—the conviction that I am doing
something which shows me that it is leading me forward in the right
direction. Every occult student may have this conviction at any moment if
he pays careful attention to his experiences. Should he not exercise such
attention, he will simply pass by these experiences just as a wayfarer in
profound thought does not notice the trees alongside of the road, though
he would surely see them if he would but direct his attention to them.

It is by no means desirable that results, other than those which are
always due to such practice, should in any way be hastened. For such
results might easily be only an infinitesimal part of what should really
take place. Indeed, in the matter of occult development, partial results
are, more often than not, the cause of considerable delay in complete
development. Contact with such forms of spiritual life corresponding to
partial development, tends to dull the perceptive faculties to the
influences of those powers which would lead on to higher stages of
development; while the benefit derived from such a “glimpse” of the
spiritual world, is after all only a seeming one, because this glimpse
cannot divulge the truth, but only deceptive illusions.


The psycho-spiritual organs, the “lotus flowers,” shape themselves in such
a manner that to clairvoyant consciousness they appear in the vicinity of
particular physical organs of the body of the person undergoing training.
From among these psycho-spiritual organs the following should be
enumerated: that which is to be perceived between the eye-brows is the
so-called two-petalled lotus flower; that in the region of the larynx is
the sixteen-petalled lotus; in the region of the heart is to be found the
twelve-petalled lotus flower and the fourth is near the navel. Others
appear in close conjunction with other parts of the physical body.(31)

The lotus flowers are formed in the astral body, and by the time one or
the other has developed, we become conscious of them. We then feel that we
can make use of them, and that by doing so we really enter a higher world.
The impressions received of that world still resemble in many respects
those of the physical senses; and one with imaginative cognition will be
able to designate the new higher world as impressions of heat or cold,
perceptions of sound or words, effects of light or color—because it is in
this way that he perceives them. He is, however, conscious of the fact
that these perceptions express something different in the imaginative
world from what they do in the actual sense-world; and he recognizes that
behind them lie causes which are not physical, but psycho-spiritual ones.

Should he receive an impression of heat he will not, for instance,
attribute this to a piece of hot iron, but will regard it as the emanation
of some soul-process, which he has hitherto experienced only with his
soul’s inner life. He knows that behind imaginative experiences exist
psycho-spiritual things and processes just as behind physical perceptions
we have physical entities and material facts.

And yet this similarity, apparent between the world of imagination and the
physical world, is modified by one important difference. There is
something present in the physical world which, when met in the imaginative
world, bears quite another appearance. In the former we are aware of a
perpetual ebb and flow, an alternation between birth and death. But in the
imaginative world there appears, in place of this phenomenon, a continual
metamorphosis of the one into the other. In the physical world we see, for
instance, how a plant fades away, but in the imaginative world there
emerges, in proportion as the plant fades, another form, not physically
discernible, into which the withering plant is gradually transformed. When
once the plant has faded away completely, this form will have become fully
developed in its place. Birth and death are conceptions which lose their
value in the imaginative world, making way for a comprehension of the
transmutation of the one into the other.

This being the case, those truths concerning which we have already made
certain communications in an earlier chapter of this book (see Chapter II,
“The Nature of Man”) become accessible to the imaginative perception.
Physical sense-perception is able to perceive only what takes place in the
physical body, processes which are enacted within the “domain of birth and
death.” The other principles of man’s being, namely, the etheric or vital
body, the sentient body, and the ego, are subject to the law of
transmutation, and the perception of them is unlocked by imaginative
cognition. Any one who has advanced this far will observe that that which
lives on under other conditions of being after death, detaches itself from
the physical body.

But development does not come to a standstill within the imaginative
world. Anyone who would like to remain stationary in it, would, it is
true, be able to note the entities in process of transmutation, but he
would be unable to interpret the meaning of these processes of change. He
would not be in a position to find his way about in this newly attained
world. For the imaginative world is a realm of unrest—there is naught in
it but movement and change; nowhere are there stationary points. Such
points of rest are reached only by the person who, having transcended the
stage of imaginative knowledge, has attained to that grade of development
known to occult science as “understanding through inspiration.”

It is not necessary for one seeking knowledge of the supersensible world
to develop his capacities so that the imaginative cognition should have
been acquired in full measure, before moving on to the stage of
“inspiration.” His exercises may, indeed, be so regulated that two
processes may go on simultaneously, one leading to imagination and the
other to inspiration. The student will then in due time enter a higher
world, in which he not only perceives, but where he can also find his way
about, as it were, and which he becomes able to interpret. Progress, as a
rule, consists in the occult student perceiving some apparitions of the
imaginative world and becoming conscious, after a while, that he is
beginning to get his bearings.

Yet the world of inspiration is something quite new compared with the
purely imaginative realm. By means of the latter we learn to know the
transformation of one process into another; while through the former we
come to recognize the inner qualities of ever changing beings. Imagination
shows us the soul-expression of such beings; through inspiration we
penetrate into their spiritual core. Above all, we become aware of a
multiplicity of spiritual beings and of their relation to one another. In
the physical sense-world we have also, of course, to do with a
multiplicity of different beings, yet in the world of inspiration this
multiplicity is of a different character. In that world each being
sustains quite definite relations to all the other beings, not, however,
as in the physical world through outer influence upon them, but through
their essential inner nature.

When we become aware of a being in the world of inspiration, no external
impression made upon another is apparent, such as might be compared with
the influence of one physical being upon another; a relation nevertheless
exists which is purely the result of the inner constitution of the two
beings. This relationship may be compared with that in which the separate
sounds or letters of a word stand to one another in the physical world. If
we take the word “man,” the impression made is due to a consonance of the
letters, m-a-n. There is no impact nor other outer influence passing from
the “m” to the “a,” but both letters sound together within “a whole,”
owing to their very nature. This is why observations made in the world of
inspirations can only be compared to reading and the observer sees the
beings of this world like written characters which he must learn and whose
inner relations must reveal themselves to him like a supersensible
writing. Therefore occult science can call cognition through inspiration,
figuratively, the “reading of the secret script.” How one may read by this
“secret script” and how one can communicate what has thus been read will
now be made clear by reference to previous chapters in this book. Man’s
being was first described as composed of different principles. It was then
further shown how the cosmos in which man is developing, passes through
various conditions; those of Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth. The perception
by means of which we are able on the one hand to discern the principles of
the human being, and, on the other, the successive states of the Earth and
its previous transformations, is revealed to the imaginative cognition.
But it is now further necessary that the relations existing between the
Saturn state and man’s physical body; between the Sun state and the
etheric body, etc., be understood. It must be shown that even during the
Saturn state the germ of man’s physical body came into existence, and that
it has then further developed to its present form during the Sun, Moon,
and Earth periods.

It had to be shown for example, what changes took place in the human being
owing to the separation of the sun from the earth, and also that something
similar again took place in connection with the moon. We had, moreover, to
make plain what contributed to the bringing about of such changes in
mankind as those which took place in the Atlantean era, how they were
manifested in the successive Indian, ancient Persian, Egyptian, and other
periods. The description of this sequence of events is not the result of
imaginative perception, but of inspirational cognition derived from the
reading of the secret script. For such reading, the imaginative
perceptions are like letters, or sounds, although such reading is not
alone necessary for interpretations like the above. It would be impossible
to comprehend the whole life-process of man by means of imaginative
cognition alone. One might possibly be in a position to note how, in the
process of dying, the psycho-spiritual principles detach themselves from
what remains in the physical world, but it would be impossible to
understand the connection between what happens to man after death and the
preceding and following stages, were we unable to find our way through the
facts obtained by imaginative cognition. Without inspirational knowledge
the entire imaginative world would remain mere writing, at which we gaze
but which we are unable to read.

As the student proceeds from imagination to inspiration he will soon see
how wrong it would be to neglect this understanding of the facts of the
universe and limit himself only to those facts which, so to speak, touch
his close personal interests. Indeed, those who are not initiated into
these matters may be inclined to say: “The only thing that seems of any
importance to me is that I should ascertain the fate of the human soul
after death. If anyone can give me information upon that subject, it will
suffice; but of what use is it for occult science to present to me such
remote subjects as the Saturn and Sun states, or the separation of the
moon and the sun, etc.?”

Those, however, who have been properly instructed in these things will
recognize that a true understanding of what they desire to learn could not
be obtained without knowledge of these matters, which appear so
unnecessary to them. A delineation of man’s states after death would
remain utterly incomprehensible and valueless to one who is unable to
connect it with ideas derived from those very far-off events. Even the
most elementary observations of a clairvoyant necessitate his acquaintance
with such things.

When, for example, a plant passes from the blossom to a state of fruition,
the clairvoyant observes a change in the astral being, which, while the
plant is in blossom, has covered and surrounded the blossoming plant from
above like a cloud. Had fructification not taken place, this astral being
would have been changed into quite a different form from the one it now
assumes in consequence of this fertilization. Now we understand the entire
process thus clairvoyantly observed, if we have learned to comprehend our
own nature through a knowledge of that great cosmic process, in which the
earth and all its inhabitants were involved at the time of the separation
from the sun. Before fertilization, the plant is in the same condition as
was the whole earth before the sun separated from it. After the
fertilization of the blossom, however, the condition of the plant is that
of the earth after the separation of the Sun had taken place, while the
moon-forces were still active in it.

Those who have thoroughly assimilated the idea to be gained by a
comprehension of this separation of the sun, will now be able to interpret
correctly the significance of the process of plant fertilization, when it
is said that “the plant previous to fructification is in a ‘sun state,’
and afterward in the ‘moon state.’ ” Indeed, it may be said of even the
smallest occurrence in the world that it can be fully understood only when
the reflection of great cosmic events is recognized in it. Otherwise its
inner nature remains just as unintelligible as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna
would be for one who could see only a small blue speck, while the rest of
it remained covered.

Everything that happens to man is a reflection of all those great cosmic
events that have to do with his existence. Those who wish to understand
the observations made by clairvoyant consciousness of the phenomena taking
place between birth and death, and again between death and a new birth,
will be able to do so if they first acquire the faculty of interpreting
imaginative observations by means of conceptions gained by reflecting upon
great cosmic events. These contemplations, indeed, furnish the key to a
comprehension of human life. Therefore the study of Saturn, Sun, and Moon
are, from the standpoint of occult science, at the same time a study of

Through inspiration one arrives at a knowledge of the relationships
between the beings of the higher world, and a further stage of cognition
makes it then possible to recognize the inner essential nature of these
beings themselves. This stage of cognition is known to occult science as
that of intuitive cognition.(32)

Cognition of a sense-being implies standing outside of it, and judging it
according to outer impressions. Intuitive cognition of a spiritual being
implies being at one with it; uniting oneself with the inner nature of
that being. Step by step, the occult student ascends toward such
cognition. Imagination leads him no longer to consider phenomena as the
external qualities of beings, but to recognize them as psycho-spiritual
emanations; inspiration leads him further into the inner nature of these
beings. Here we can again illustrate by means of the foregoing chapters
what is the meaning of intuition. In those earlier chapters it has not
only been stated how the progress of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions
proceeded; but also that beings took part, in widely different ways, in
that progress, and mention was made of the Thrones or Spirits of Will, the
Spirits of Wisdom, the Spirits of Motion, and so on. In connection with
the earth’s development, reference was made to the Luciferian spirits and
spirits of Ahriman. The structure of the world was traced back to those
beings who took part in it. All knowledge pertaining to these beings is
derived from intuitive cognition, which is also necessary, if we wish to
understand man’s life.

That which is released from the human physical body at death passes on
through various states in the future. The more immediate conditions after
death might, to some extent, be described by referring to imaginative
cognition, but that which takes place when man has proceeded farther into
that time lying between death and a new birth would be entirely
incomprehensible to the imagination, did not inspiration come to its aid.
For inspiration alone can disclose what can be revealed about man’s life
after its purification in the “land of spirits.” We come to a point where
inspiration is no longer adequate—where it reaches the limit of its
possibilities. For there is a period in human development, between death
and a new birth, in which the human being is accessible only to intuition.

Yet this part of the human being is _always_ within man, and if we wish to
understand it in its true inner nature we must also seek it, between birth
and death, by means of intuition. Anyone attempting to fathom man by means
of imagination and inspiration alone would miss the very innermost being,
that which continues from incarnation to incarnation. It is therefore by
intuitive cognition alone that adequate research concerning reincarnation
and Karma becomes possible, and all genuine knowledge of these processes
is derived from research undertaken by means of intuition. If a man wishes
to know his own inner self, he can only do so by intuition; by its aid he
becomes aware of what it is that moves onward within him from incarnation
to incarnation; and should it fall to anyone’s lot to know something about
his earlier incarnations, this can only take place through intuitive


Cognition through inspiration and intuition is attainable only by means of
psycho-spiritual exercises, and they resemble those meditations practiced
for the attainment of imagination which have already been described.
While, however, in exercises for the development of the imagination, a
connection is set up with impressions belonging to the world of the
physical senses, such connections gradually cease in the case of exercises
for inspiration. In order to understand more clearly what must be done,
let us recall once more the symbol of the “rosy cross.” When we meditate
on this we have before us a picture, of which the component parts have
been taken from the world of the senses: there is the black colour of the
cross, the roses, etc., and yet the combination of those various parts
into the “rosy cross” is not derived from the world of the senses. If the
student now endeavours to banish from his consciousness both the black
cross and the red roses, as pictures of sense-realities, only retaining in
his soul that spiritual activity which has been used in putting these
parts together, he will then have a means for a meditation that will
gradually lead him on to inspiration. He should put the question to
himself somewhat in the following manner: “What have I done inwardly to
construct that symbol from cross and rose? What I did (an act of my own
soul), I will retain within my hold; but the picture itself I will allow
to fade away out of my consciousness. I shall then be able to feel within
me all that my soul did in order to produce the picture, though I no
longer recall the picture itself. I will now live wholly within my own
activity that created the picture. I will not meditate upon a picture, but
upon the powers of my own soul which are capable of creating pictures.”

Such meditations must now be practised with various other symbols. This
leads then to cognition through inspiration. Here is another example, that
of meditating upon the growth and subsequent withering of a plant. Let the
picture of a slowly growing plant arise in the soul, as it sprouts from
the seed, unfolds leaf after leaf, then blossoms and fruits; then again as
it begins to wither on to its complete dissolution. By the help of
meditations on such a symbol as this, the student gradually attains a
feeling concerning growth and decay of which the plant is but a symbol. If
the exercises be persevered in continuously, the image of the
transformation which underlies physical growth and decay can be evolved
from this feeling.

But if one wishes to attain the corresponding stage of inspiration, this
exercise must be practised quite differently. Here one’s own activity of
soul must be called to mind,—that which had obtained the conception of
growth and decay from the image of the plant. The plant must now be
allowed to vanish altogether from the consciousness, and the attention be
concentrated entirely upon the student’s own inner activity. It is only
such exercises as these that help us to rise to inspiration. At first the
occult student will find it difficult to fully grasp how to set about such
an exercise. This is because man is used to permitting his inner life to
be governed by outward impressions, and thus falls immediately into
uncertainty and wavering when now he must unfold in addition a soul life
which has freed itself from all connections with outward impressions.

Here the student must clearly understand that he should only undertake
these exercises if along with them he cultivates everything that may lead
to firmness and stability in his judgment, emotional life, and character;
these precautions are even more necessary than when seeking to acquire the
faculty of imagination. Should he take these precautions, he will be
doubly successful, for, in the first place, he will not risk losing the
balance of his personality through the exercises; and secondly, he will
acquire the capacity of being really able to carry out what is demanded in
these exercises. They will be deemed difficult only as long as one has not
yet attained a particular attitude of soul, and certain feelings and
sentiments. He who patiently and perseveringly cultivates within his soul
such qualities as are favourable to the growth of supersensible cognition,
will not be long in acquiring both the understanding and the faculty for
these practices.

Any one who can acquire the habit of frequently entering into the quiet of
his own soul, and who, instead of brooding over himself, transforms and
orders those experiences he has had in life, will gain much. For he will
perceive that his thoughts and feelings become richer, if through memory
he establishes a relationship between the different experiences of life.
He will become aware that he gains stores of new knowledge not only
through new impressions and new experiences, but also by letting the old
ones be active within him.

He who allows his experiences and his opinions free play, keeping himself
with his sympathies and antipathies, personal interests and feelings
entirely in the background, will prepare an especially fertile soil for
supersensible cognition. He will in very truth be developing what may be
called a rich inner life. But what is of primary importance is the balance
and equilibrium of the qualities of the soul. People are very apt to
become one-sided when indulging in certain activities of the soul. Thus,
when a person has come to know the advantages of contemplation, and of
dwelling upon pictures derived from his own thought-world, he is apt to
develop a tendency to withdraw himself from the impressions of the outer
world. Yet such a step only leads to parching and withering the inner
life; and he will go farthest who manages to retain an unchecked
receptivity for all impressions of the outer world, while possessing the
power to withdraw within his own inner self. It is by no means necessary
to think only of the so-called important events of life: every one, in
every sphere of life, be his four walls ever so humble, will be possessed
of experience enough, provided only his mind is truly receptive.
Experiences need not be sought—they abound on every hand.

Of particular importance is the way in which experience may be utilized by
the human soul. For instance, one may make the discovery that someone whom
he or another greatly reveres, has some quality that must be regarded as a
flaw in his character. An experience of this kind may lead the person to
whom it comes to thoughts which will tend toward one of two different
directions. He may simply feel that he can never again regard the person
in question with the same degree of veneration; or on the other hand, he
may say to himself: “How has it been possible for this revered person to
be burdened with such a failing? How can I present the matter to my mind
so as to see in this failing not merely a fault, but something that is the
outcome of his life, possibly even caused by his noble qualities?” Whoever
can place the question thus before his own mind may, perhaps, arrive at
the conclusion that his veneration for his friend need not suffer the
least diminution, in spite of the failing that has come to light.

Experiences of this nature will, each time they are met with, add
something to our understanding of life. Yet it would certainly be a bad
thing for one to allow himself to be tempted through this generous view of
life, to excuse everything in those whom he happens to like, or to drop
into the habit of ignoring every blamable action, in order thereby to seek
some benefit to his own inner development. Blaming or excusing the
mistakes of others merely as a result of an inner impulse, does not
further our development. This can only happen if our action is governed by
the particular case itself, regardless of what we may thereby gain or
lose. It is absolutely true that we cannot learn by condemning a fault,
but only by understanding it; but, at the same time, if, owing to
understanding it, we exclude all disapproval of it, we likewise would not
progress very far.

Here, again, the important thing is to avoid one-sidedness, either in one
direction or the other, and to establish harmony and balance of all
qualities in the soul; and this is especially to be kept in mind in regard
to one quality which is pre-eminently important to man’s development: the
feeling of devotion. Those who can cultivate this feeling, or on whom
nature herself has bestowed so inestimable a gift, have a good foundation
for the powers of supersensible cognition. Those who in childhood and
youth have been able to look up to certain persons with feelings of
devoted admiration, beholding in them some high ideal, will already
possess in the depths of their souls the soil in which supersensible
cognition may flourish abundantly. And those who, possessed of the maturer
judgment of later life, can direct their gaze upon the starry heavens and
surrender themselves unreservedly to admiration of the revelations of the
Higher Powers, are in a like manner ripening their senses for the
acquisition of knowledge with regard to the supersensible worlds. So is it
also with those who can admire the powers ruling over human life itself.
It is by no means of small importance for a fully matured man to be able
to feel veneration to the highest degree for other people whose worth he
senses or recognizes. For it is only where veneration such as this is
present that a vista of the higher worlds can be revealed. Those who
possess no sense of reverence will never go very far in their attainment
of cognition; for from those who decline to appreciate anything in this
world, the essence of all things will assuredly be withheld.

Nevertheless, any one who permits his feelings of reverence and devotion
to kill his healthy self-consciousness and self-confidence, is guilty of
sinning against the laws of balance and equilibrium. The occult student
must work constantly in order to mature his own nature; then indeed he may
well have confidence in his own personality, and believe that its powers
are increasing more and more. Any one arriving at the right feeling in
this respect will say to himself: “There are within me hidden powers, and
I am able to call them forth from within. If, therefore, I see something
which fills me with reverence because it is above me, I need no longer
merely venerate it, but I may confidently assume that, if I develop all
that is in me, I may raise myself to the level of the object of my

The more capable a man is of fixing his attention upon these events of
life with which he is not directly familiar, the greater will be the
possibility of providing himself with a foundation for development in
higher worlds. The following example will make this evident. Let us assume
that some one is placed in a position in which it rests with him either to
do, or leave undone, a certain thing. His judgment bids him “Do this,”
while at the same time there may be a certain indefinite something in his
feelings which deters him from the deed. It may so happen that the person
in question will pay no heed to this inexplicable something, carrying out
the action in accordance with his judgment. But it may also be that the
person so placed will yield to this inner impulse and not perform the act.
Now, pursuing the matter further, he may find that mischief would have
resulted from his following the dictates of his reason, and that a
blessing awaited him through the omission of the act. An experience of
this nature may lead a man’s thoughts into quite a definite channel, and
then he will put the matter to himself in this way: “There is something
within me that is a surer guide than that measure of judgment of which I
am at present possessed: I must therefore retain an open mind toward this
inner something, to the height of which my own capacity for judgment has
not yet attained.”

The soul derives much benefit when it directs its attention to occurrences
in life such as these, for they demonstrate that man’s healthy
premonitions bear something in them which is of greater moment than he,
with his present degree of judgment, is able to perceive. Attention in
this direction has the effect of enlarging the life of the soul. Yet here
again certain peculiarities may arise which are of themselves dangerous.
One who accustoms himself to a perpetual disregarding of his judgment,
owing to this or that “premonition,” would easily become a shuttle-cock
tossed at the mercy of every kind of undefined impulse; indeed, it is not
a far cry from such habitual indecision to a state of absolute

Every superstition is disastrous to the student of occult science. The
possibility of gaining admission, by legitimate means, to the realms of
the spiritual life must depend upon a careful exclusion of all
superstition, phantasy, and dreaming. One who is pleased at having had a
certain experience which cannot be grasped by human reason will not
approach the spiritual world in the right manner. No partiality for the
“inexplicable” will ever make one qualified for discipleship of the
Spirit. Indeed the pupil should utterly discard the notion that a true
mystic is one who is always ready to surmise the presence of what cannot
be explained or explored. The right way is to be prepared to recognize on
all hands hidden forces and hidden beings, yet at the same time to assume
that what is “unexplored” today will be able to be explored when the
requisite ability has been developed.

There is a certain mood of soul which it is important for the pupil to
maintain at every stage of his development. He should not let his urge for
higher knowledge lead him to keep on aiming to get answers to particular
questions. Rather should he continually be asking: How am I to develop the
needed faculties within myself? For when by dint of patient inner work
some faculty develops in him, he will receive the answer to some of his
questions. Genuine pupils of the Spirit will always take pains to
cultivate this attitude of soul. They will thereby be encouraged to work
upon themselves, that they may become ever more and more mature in spirit,
and they will abjure the desire to extort answers to particular questions.
They will _wait_ until such time as the answers come.

Here again, however, there is the possibility of a one-sidedness, which
may prevent the pupil from going forward in the way he should. For at some
moment he may quite rightly feel that _according to the measure of his
powers_ he can answer for himself even questions of the highest order.
Thus at every turn moderation and balance play an essential part in the
life of the soul.

Many more qualities of soul could be cited that may with advantage be
fostered and developed, if the pupil is seriously wanting to work through
a training for Inspiration; and in connection with every one of them we
should find that emphasis is laid on the supreme importance of moderation
and balance. These attributes of soul help the pupil to understand the
exercises that are given for the attainment of Inspiration, and also make
him capable of carrying them out.

The exercises for Intuition demand from the pupil that he let disappear
from consciousness not only the pictures to which he gave himself up in
contemplation in order to arrive at Imaginative cognition, but also that
meditating upon his own activity of soul, which he practiced for the
attainment of Inspiration. This means that he is now to have in his soul
literally nothing of what he has experienced hitherto, whether outwardly
or inwardly. If, after discarding all outward and inward experience,
nothing whatever is left in his consciousness _that is to say, if
consciousness simply slips away from him and he sinks into
unconsciousness_ then that will tell him that he is not yet ripe to
undertake the exercises for Intuition and must continue working with those
for Imagination and Inspiration. A time will come however when an effect
will linger in the consciousness which can just as well be made the object
of meditation, as were before those outer and inner impressions. This
something is, however, of a very special nature, and in comparison with
all previous experiences, it is something absolutely new. When it occurs,
we recognize it as something we have never known before. It is a
perception, just as an actual sound is a perception, that strikes upon the
ear; yet it can enter the consciousness only through intuition, just as
the sound can only enter the consciousness by way of the ear. Thus with
intuition, the last remnants of the physical and sentient are stripped
from man’s impressions, while the spiritual world begins to expand before
the understanding in a form that has nothing in common with the
characteristics of the world of the physical senses.


Imaginative cognition is attained by developing the lotus flowers within
the astral body. Through those exercises undertaken for the attainment of
inspiration and intuition, particular movements, formations and currents
which were previously absent, now appear in the human etheric or vital
body. These are the very organs which enable man to “read the secret
script,” and bring that which lies beyond it within his reach. For to the
clairvoyant, the changes which occur in the etheric body of a person
attaining to inspiration and intuition appear in the following manner.
Near the physical heart a new center is forming in the etheric body, which
develops into an etheric organ. From this organ, movements and currents
flow toward different parts of the human body, in the most varied manner.
The most important of these currents approach the lotus flowers, pass
through them and their separate petals, and thence direct their course
outward, pouring themselves into outer space in the form of rays. The more
developed a person is, the greater will be the circumference around him in
which these rays become discernible. This centre near the heart is not,
however, formed at the very beginning, under correct training. It is first
prepared. A temporary center is first formed in the head: this then moves
down to the region of the larynx and is finally transferred into the
region of the heart. Under an irregular course of development it would be
possible for the organ in question to develop near the heart at the
outset. In that case the student, instead of arriving in due course at
adequate, tranquil clairvoyance by regular means, would run the risk of
turning into a visionary and dreamer.

Subsequent development enables the occult student to render these currents
and organized parts of this etheric body independent of his physical body
and to use them independently. The lotus flowers then serve him as
instruments by which to move his etheric body. Yet, before this can take
place, certain currents and radiations must come into action around his
entire etheric body, surrounding this, as it were, with a fine network,
thus encasing it as though it were a separate entity. When this has taken
place, the movements and currents of the etheric body can without
hindrance touch the outer psycho-spiritual world and unite with it so that
outer psycho-spiritual occurrences and inner ones (those within the human
etheric body) blend into one another. When this comes to pass, the moment
has arrived when man can consciously experience the world of inspiration.
This cognition takes place in a manner different from cognition of the
physical sense-world. In this latter, we become aware of the world by
means of our senses and form our ideas and concepts from these
perceptions. But in the case of cognition through inspiration, this is not

What is thus perceived is instantaneous; there is no thinking after the
perception has taken place. That which in the case of physical
sense-cognition is only afterward gained through the concept, is, in the
case of inspiration, simultaneous with the perception. One would therefore
become merged with the surrounding psycho-spiritual world, and be unable
to differentiate oneself from it had not the fine network above alluded to
been previously formed in the etheric body.

When exercises for intuition are practiced, they not only affect the
etheric body but extend their influence to the supersensible forces of the
physical body. But it must not, of course, be imagined that effects are
brought about in the physical body which are discernible to ordinary
sense-observation, for these effects the clairvoyant alone is able to
judge, and they have nothing to do with external powers of perception.
They come as the result of a ripened consciousness, when this latter is
able to have intuitional experiences, even though it has divested itself
of all previous inner and outer experiences. The experiences of intuition
are, however, subtle, delicate and intimate, in comparison with which the
physical body, at its present stage of development, is coarse. For this
reason, it offers a positive hindrance to the success of any exercises for
attaining intuition. Nevertheless, should these be pursued with energy and
perseverance, and with the requisite inner calm, they will ultimately
overcome those powerful hindrances of the physical body. The occult
student will become aware of this when he notices how, by degrees,
particular actions of his physical body which hitherto had taken place
without his own volition, now come under his control. He will also become
aware that for a brief time he will feel the need, for instance, of so
regulating his breathing (or some similar act) as to bring it into a kind
of harmonious accord with whatever is being enacted within his soul, be it
exercises or other forms of inner concentration.

The ideal development would be that no exercises should be done by means
of the physical body but that everything which has to take place within it
should result only as a consequence of exercises for intuition. As,
however, the physical body offers such powerful impediments, the training
may permit of some alleviations. These consist in exercises which affect
the physical body; yet everything in this domain that has not been
directly imparted by the teacher, or those having knowledge and experience
of these things, is fraught with danger. Such exercises, for instance,
include a certain regulated process of breathing to be carried out for a
very short space of time. These regulations of the breathing correspond in
quite a definite way to particular laws of the psycho-spiritual world.
Breathing is a physical process, and when this act is so carried out as to
be the expression of a psycho-spiritual law, physical existence receives
the direct stamp, as it were, of spirituality, and the physical matter is

For this reason occult science is able to call the change due to such
direct spiritual influence, a transmutation of the physical body, and this
process represents what is called “working with the philosopher’s stone”
by him who has a knowledge of these matters. He who knows these things,
frees himself indeed from those concepts which have been limited by
superstition, humbug and charlatanry. The significance of the phenomena
does not become less to him who knows, just because, as a spiritual
investigator, all superstition is foreign to him. When he has acquired a
concept of a significant fact, he may be allowed to call it by its
_correct name_ although that name has been fixed upon it as a result of
misunderstanding, error and nonsense.

Every true intuition is in fact a “working with the philosopher’s stone,”
because each genuine intuition calls directly upon those powers which act
from out the supersensible world, into the world of the senses.


As the occult student climbs the path leading to cognition of the higher
worlds, he becomes aware at a particular point that the cohesion of the
powers of his own personality is assuming a different form from that which
it possesses in the world of the physical senses. In the latter the ego
brings about a uniform co-operation of the powers of the soul—primarily of
thought, feeling and will. These three soul powers are actually, under
normal conditions of human life, in perpetual relation one with another.
For instance, we see a particular object in the external world, and it is
pleasing or is displeasing to the soul; that is to say, the perception of
the thing will be followed by a sense of either pleasure or displeasure.
Possibly we may desire the object, or may have the impulse to alter it in
some way or other; that is to say, desire and will associate themselves
with perception and feeling. Now this association is due to the fact that
the ego co-ordinates presentment (thinking), feeling, and willing, and in
this way introduces order among the forces of the personality. This
healthy arrangement would be interrupted should the ego prove itself
powerless in this respect: if, for instance, the will went a different way
from the feeling or thinking. No man would be in a healthy condition of
mind who, while thinking this or that to be right, nevertheless wished to
do something which he did not consider right.

The same would hold good if a person desired, not the thing that pleased
him, but that which displeased him. Now the person progressing toward
higher cognition becomes aware that feeling, thinking, and willing do
actually assume a certain independence; that, for example, a particular
thought no longer urges him, as though of itself, to a certain condition
of feeling and willing. The matter resolves itself thus: We may comprehend
something correctly by means of thinking, but in order to arrive at a
feeling or impulse of the will on the subject, we need a further
independent impetus, coming from within ourselves. Thinking, feeling and
willing no longer remain three forces, radiating from the ego as their
common centre, but become, as it were, independent entities, just as
though they were three separate personalities. For this reason, therefore,
a person’s own ego must be strengthened, for not only must it introduce
order among three powers, but the leadership and guidance of three
entities have devolved upon it.

And this is what is known to occult science as the cleavage of the
personality. Here is once more clearly revealed how important it is to add
to the exercises for higher training others for giving fixity and firmness
to the judgment, and to the life of feeling and will. For if certainty and
firmness are not brought into the higher world, it will at once be seen
how weak the ego proves to be, and how it can be no fitting ruler over the
powers of thought, feeling and will. In the presence of this weakness, the
soul would be dragged by three different personalities in as many
directions, and its inner individual separateness would cease. But should
the development of the occult student proceed on the right lines, this
multiplication of himself, so to speak, will prove to be a real step
forward, and he will nevertheless continue, as a new ego, to be the strong
ruler over the independent entities which now make up his soul.

In the subsequent course of development this division or cleavage is
carried further; thought, now functioning independently, arouses the
activities of a fourth distinct psycho-spiritual being; one that may be
described as a direct influx into the individual, of currents which bear a
resemblance to thoughts. The entire world then appears as
thought-structure, confronting man just like the plant and animal worlds
in the realm of the physical senses. In the same manner feeling and will,
which have become independent, stimulate two other powers within the soul
to work in it as separate entities. And yet a seventh power and entity
must be added, which resembles the ego itself. Thus man, on reaching a
particular stage of development, finds himself to be composed of seven
entities, all of which he has to guide and control.

The whole of this experience becomes associated with a further one. Before
entering the supersensible world, thinking, feeling, and willing were
known to man merely as inner soul-experiences. But as soon as he enters
the supersensible world he becomes aware of things which do not express
physical sense realities, but psycho-spiritual realities. Behind the
characteristics of the new world of which he has become aware, he now
perceives spiritual beings. These now present themselves to him as an
external world, just as stones, plants and animals in the physical sense
world, have impressed his senses. Now the occult student is able to
observe an important difference between the spiritual world unfolding
itself before him and the world he has hitherto been accustomed to
recognize by means of his physical senses. A plant of the sense-world
remains what it is, whatever man’s soul may think or feel about it. This
is not the case, however, with the images of the psycho-spiritual world,
for these change according to man’s own thoughts and feelings. Man stamps
upon them an impression which is the result of his own being.

Let us imagine a particular picture presenting itself to man in the
imaginative world. As long as he maintains indifference toward it, it will
continue to show a particular form. As soon, however, as he is moved by
feelings of like or dislike with regard to it, its form will change.
Pictures, therefore, at first present not only something independent and
external to man, but they reflect also what man himself is. These pictures
are permeated through and through with man’s own being. This falls like a
veil over the other beings. In this case man, even if confronted by a real
being, does not see this, but sees what he himself has created. Thus he
may have something true before him, and yet see what is false. Indeed,
this is not only the case in respect to what man has observed concerning
his own being, but everything that is in him impresses itself upon the
spiritual world.

If, for example, a person has secret inclinations, which owing to
education and character are precluded from revealing themselves in life,
those inclinations will, nevertheless, take effect in the psycho-spiritual
world, which is thus colored in a peculiar way, due to that person’s
being, quite irrespective of how much he may or may not know of his own
being. And in order to be able to advance beyond this stage of
development, it becomes necessary that man should learn to distinguish
between himself and the spiritual world around him. It is necessary that
he should learn to eliminate all the effects produced by his own nature
upon the surrounding psycho-spiritual world. This can be done only by
acquiring a knowledge of what we ourselves take with us into this new
world. It is therefore primarily a question of self-knowledge, in order
that we may become able to perceive clearly the surrounding
psycho-spiritual world. It is true that certain facts of human development
entail such self-knowledge as must naturally be acquired when one enters
higher worlds. In the ordinary world of the physical senses man develops
his ego, his self-consciousness, and this ego then acts as a point of
attraction for all that appertains to man. All personal propensities,
sympathies, antipathies, passions, opinions, etc., possessed by a person,
group themselves, as it were, around this ego, and it is this ego likewise
to which human Karma is attached. Were we able to see this ego unveiled,
it would also be possible to see just what blows of fate it must yet
endure in this and future incarnations, as a result of its life in
previous incarnations and the qualities acquired. Encumbered as it is with
all this, the ego must be the first picture that presents itself to the
human soul, when ascending into the psycho-spiritual world. This double of
the human being, in accordance with a law of the spiritual world, is bound
to be his first impression in that world. It is easy to explain this
fundamental law to ourselves, if we consider the following. In the life of
the physical senses man is cognizant of himself only so far as he is
inwardly conscious of himself in his thinking, feeling, and willing. This
cognition is an inner one; it does not present itself to him externally,
as do stones, plants and animals; but even through inner experiences, man
learns to know himself only partially, for he has within him something
that prevents deep self-knowledge, namely, the impulse to immediately
transform this quality, when through self-cognition he is forced to admit
its presence and concerning which he is unwilling to deceive himself.

If he did not yield to this impulse, but simply turned his attention away
from himself—remaining as he is—he would naturally deprive himself of even
the possibility of knowing himself in regard to that particular matter.
Yet should he “explore” himself, facing his characteristics without
self-deception, he would either be able to improve them, or in his present
condition of life he would be unable to do so. In the latter case a
feeling would steal over his soul which we must designate a feeling of
shame. Indeed, this is the way in which man’s sound nature acts; it
experiences through self-knowledge various feelings of shame. Even in
ordinary life this feeling has a certain definite effect. A healthy-minded
person will take care that that which fills him with this feeling does not
express itself outwardly or manifest itself in deeds. Thus the sense of
shame is a force urging man to conceal something within himself, not
allowing it to be outwardly apparent.

If we consider this well, we shall find it possible to understand why
occult science should ascribe more far-reaching effects to another inner
experience of the soul, very closely allied to this feeling of shame.
Occult science finds that within the hidden depths of the soul a kind of
secret feeling of shame exists, of which man in his life of the physical
senses is unaware. Yet this secret feeling acts much in the same way as
the conscious feeling of shame of ordinary life to which we have alluded;
it prevents man’s inmost being from confronting him in a recognizable
image, or double. Were this feeling not present, man would see himself as
he is in very truth; not only would he experience his thoughts, ideas,
feelings and decisions inwardly, but he would perceive these as he now
perceives stones, animals and plants.

This feeling, therefore, is that which veils man from himself, and at the
same time hides from him the entire spiritual world. For owing to this
veiling of man’s inner self, he becomes unable to perceive those things by
means of which he is to develop organs for penetrating into the
psycho-spiritual world; he becomes unable to so transform his own being as
to render it capable of obtaining spiritual organs of perception.

If man aims however to form these organs of perception through correct
training, that which he himself really is appears before him as the first
impression. He perceives his double. This self-recognition is inseparable
from perception of the rest of the psycho-spiritual world. In the everyday
life of the physical world the feeling of shame here described acts in
such a manner as to be perpetually closing the door which leads into the
psycho-spiritual world. If man would take but a single step in order to
penetrate into that world, this instantly appearing but unconscious
feeling of shame, conceals that portion of the psycho-spiritual world
which would reveal itself. The exercises here described do, however,
unlock this world: and it so happens that the above-mentioned hidden
feeling acts as a great benefactor to man, for all that we may have
gained, apart from occult training, in the matter of judgment, feeling and
character, is insufficient to support us when confronted by our own being
in its true form; its apparition would rob us of all feeling of selfhood,
self-reliance and self-consciousness. And that this may not happen,
provision must be made for cultivating sound judgment, good feeling and
character, along with the exercises given for the attainment of higher

A correct method of tuition teaches the student as much of occult science
as will, in combination with the many means provided for self-knowledge
and self-observation, enable him to meet his double with assured strength.
It will then appear to the student that he sees, in another form, a
picture of the imaginative world with which he has already become
acquainted in the physical world. Anyone who has first learned in the
physical world, by means of his understanding, to apprehend rightly the
law of Karma, is not likely to be greatly frightened when he sees his fate
traced upon the image of his double. Anyone who, by means of his own
powers of judgment, has made himself acquainted with the evolution of the
universe, and the development of the human race, and who is aware that at
a particular epoch of this development the powers of Lucifer penetrated
into the human soul, will have little difficulty in enduring the sight of
the image of his own individuality when he knows that it includes those
Luciferian powers and all their accumulated effects.

This will suffice to show how necessary it is that no one should demand
admission into the spiritual world before having learned to understand
certain truths concerning it; learning them by means of his own judgment,
as developed in this world of the physical senses. All that has been said
in this book previous to the chapter concerning “Perception of the higher
worlds,” should have been assimilated by the student in the course of his
regular development, by means of his ordinary judgment, before he has any
desire to seek entrance himself into the supersensible worlds.

Where the training has been such as to pay little heed to firmness and
surety of judgment, and to the life of feeling and character, it may
happen that the student will approach the higher world before being
possessed of the necessary inner capacities. The meeting with his double
would in this case overwhelm him. But what might also happen is that the
person introduced into the supersensible world then would be totally
unable to recognize this world in its true form, for it would be
impossible for him to differentiate between what he sees in the things,
and what they really are. For this distinction becomes possible only when
a person himself has beheld the image of his own being and becomes able to
separate from his surroundings everything which proceeds from his inner

In respect to life in the world of physical sense, man’s double becomes at
once visible through the already mentioned feeling of shame when man nears
the psycho-spiritual world, and in so doing, it also conceals the whole of
that world. The double stands before the entrance as a “guardian,” denying
admission to all who are as yet unfit, and it is therefore designated in
occult science as the “guardian of the threshold of the psycho-spiritual
world.” However, we may call it the “lesser guardian,” for there is
another, of whom we shall speak later.

And besides this meeting with his double on entering the supersensible
world as here described, man encounters the Guardian of the Threshold when
he passes the portals of physical death, and it gradually reveals itself
during that psycho-spiritual development which takes place between death
and a new birth. However, the encounter can in no wise crush us, for we
then know of other worlds of which we are ignorant during the life between
birth and death. A person entering the psycho-spiritual world without
having encountered the Guardian of the Threshold would be liable to fall a
prey to one delusion after another. For he would never be able to
distinguish between that which he himself brings into that world and what
really belongs to it. But correct training should lead the student into
the domain of truth, not of error, and with such training the meeting
must, at one time or another, inevitably take place, for it is the one
indispensable precaution against the possibilities of deception and
phantasm in the observation of supersensible worlds. It is one of the most
indispensable precautions to be taken by every occult student, to work
carefully upon himself in order not to become a visionary, subject to
every possible deception and self-deception, suggestion and
auto-suggestion. Wherever correct occult training is followed, the causes
of such deceptions are destroyed at their source. It would of course be
impossible to speak here exhaustively of the many details to be included
in such precautions, and we can only indicate in general the underlying
principles. The illusions to be taken into account arise from two sources.
In part they proceed from the fact that our own soul-being colors reality.
In the ordinary life of the physical sense-world, the danger arising from
this source of deception is comparatively small, because here the outer
world always obtrudes itself upon the observer in its own sharp outline,
no matter how much the observer is inclined to color it according to his
wishes and interests. As soon, however, as we enter the imaginative world,
the images are changed by such wishes and interests, and we then have
actually before us that which we ourselves have formed or, at any rate,
helped to form. Now, since through this meeting with the Guardian of the
Threshold the occult student becomes aware of everything within him, of
that which he can take with him into the psycho-spiritual world, this
source of delusion is removed, and the preparation which the occult
student undergoes prior to his entering that world is in itself calculated
to accustom him to exclude himself—even in matters appertaining to the
physical world—when making his observations, thus allowing things and
occurrences to speak for themselves. Any one who has sufficiently
practiced these preparatory exercises may await this meeting with the
Guardian of the Threshold in all tranquillity; by this meeting he will be
definitely tested whether he is now really capable of putting aside his
own being even when confronting the psycho-spiritual world.

In addition to this there is another source of delusion. This becomes
apparent when we place the wrong interpretation upon an impression we
receive. We may illustrate it by means of a very simple example taken from
the world of the physical senses. It is the delusion we may encounter when
sitting in a railway carriage; we _think_ the trees are moving in the
reverse direction to the train, whereas in fact we ourselves are moving
with the train. Although there are many cases in which such illusions
occurring in the physical world are more difficult to correct than the
simple one we have mentioned, yet it is easy to see that, even within that
world, means may be found for getting rid of those delusions if a person
of sound judgment brings everything to bear upon the matter which may help
to clear it up.

But as soon as we penetrate into the psycho-spiritual world such
elucidations become less easy. In the world of sense, facts are not
altered by human delusions about them; it is therefore possible to correct
a delusion by unprejudiced observation of facts. But in the supersensible
world this is not immediately possible. If we desire to study a
supersensible occurrence and approach it with the wrong judgment, we then
carry that wrong judgment over into the thing itself, and it becomes so
interwoven with the thing, that the two cannot be easily distinguished.
The error then is not in the person and the correct fact external to him,
but the error will have become a component part of the external fact. It
cannot therefore be cleared up simply by unprejudiced observation of the
fact. This is enough to indicate an extremely fertile source of illusion
and deception for one who would venture to approach the supersensible
world without adequate preparation.

As the occult student has now acquired the faculty to exclude those
illusions originating from the coloring of the supersensible
world-phenomena with his own being, so must he now acquire the faculty of
making ineffective the second source of illusions mentioned above.

Only after the meeting with his double, can he eliminate what comes from
himself and thus he will be able to remove the second source of delusion
when he has acquired the faculty for judging by the very nature of a fact
seen in the supersensible world, whether it is a reality or an illusion.
Now if the illusions were of precisely the same appearance as the
realities, differentiation would be impossible. But this is not the case.
Illusions of the supersensible world have in themselves qualities which
distinguish them definitely from the realities, and the important thing is
for the occult student to know by what qualities he may be able to
recognize those realities.

Nothing seems more natural than that those ignorant of occult training
should say: “How, then, is it at all possible to guard against delusions,
since their sources are so numerous?” And further: “Can an occult student
ever be safe from the possibility that all his so-called higher
experiences may not turn out to be based on mere deception and
self-deception (suggestion and auto-suggestion)?” Any one advancing these
objections ignores the fact that all true occult training proceeds in such
a manner as to remove those sources of delusion. In the first place, the
occult student during his preparation, will have become possessed of
enough knowledge about all that which may lead to delusion and
self-delusion, that he will be in a position to protect himself against
them. He has, in this respect, an opportunity, like that of no other human
being, to render himself sober and capable of sound judgment for the
journey of life. Everything he learns teaches him not to rely upon vague
presentiments and premonitions. Training makes him as cautious as
possible, and, in addition to this, all true training leads in the first
place to concepts of the great cosmic events, to matters, therefore, which
necessitate the exertion of the judgment, a process by which this faculty
is at the same time rendered keener and more refined. But those who
decline to occupy themselves with these remote subjects, and prefer
keeping the revelations nearer at hand, might miss the strengthening of
that sound power of judgment which gives certainty in distinguishing
between illusion and reality. Yet even this is not the most important
thing, but the exercises themselves, carried out through a systematic
course of occult training. These must be so arranged that the
consciousness of the student is enabled during meditation to scan minutely
all that passes within his soul. In order to bring about imagination, the
first thing to be done is to form a symbol. In this there are still
elements taken from external observation; it is not only man who
participates in their content, he himself does not produce them. Therefore
he may deceive himself concerning them and assign their origin to wrong
sources. But when the occult student proceeds to the exercises for
inspiration, he drops this content from his consciousness and immerses
himself only in the soul-activity which formed the symbol. Even here error
is still possible: education and study etc., have induced a particular
kind of soul-activity in man. He is unable to know everything about the
origin of this activity. Now, however, the occult student removes this,
his own soul-activity, from his consciousness; if then something remains,
nothing adheres to it that cannot easily be reviewed; nothing can intrude
itself in respect to its entire content that cannot easily be judged.

In his intuition, therefore, the occult student possesses something which
shows him the pure, clear reality of the psycho-spiritual world. And if he
applies this recognized test to all that meets his observation in the
realm of psycho-spiritual realities, he will be well able to distinguish
appearance from reality. He may also feel sure that the application of
this law provides just as effectually against delusions in the spiritual
world as does the knowledge in the physical world that an _imaginary_
piece of red-hot iron cannot burn him.

It is obvious that this test applies only to our own experiences in the
supersensible world, and not to communications made to us which we have to
apprehend by means of our physical understanding and our healthy sense of
truth. The occult student should exert himself to draw a distinct line of
demarcation between the knowledge he acquires by the one means, and by the
other. He should be ready on one the hand to accept communications made to
him regarding the higher worlds, and should seek to understand them by
using his powers of judgment. When, however, he is confronted by an
“experience,” which he may so name because it is due to personal
observation, he will first carefully test the same to ascertain whether it
possesses exactly those characteristics which he has learned to recognize
by means of infallible intuition.


The meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold being over, the occult
student will have to face other new experiences, and the first thing that
he will become aware of is the inner connection which exists between this
Guardian of the Threshold and that soul-power we have already
characterized, when describing the cleavage of personality, as being the
seventh power to resolve itself into an independent entity. This seventh
entity is, indeed, in certain respects no other than the double, or
Guardian of the Threshold itself, and it lays a particular task upon the
student. Namely, that which he is in his lower self and which now appears
to him in the image, he must guide and lead by means of the new-born
higher self. This will result in a sort of battle with this double, which
will continually strive for the upper hand. Now to establish the right
relationship to it, to allow it to do nothing except what takes place
under the influence of the new-born ego, this is what strengthens and
fortifies man’s forces.

This matter of self-cognition is, in certain respects, different in the
higher worlds from what it is in the physical sense-world. For whereas in
the latter, self-cognition is only an inner experience, the newly born
self immediately presents itself as an outward psycho-spiritual
apparition. We see our new-born self before us like another being, yet we
cannot perceive it in its entirety, for, whatever the stage to which we
may have climbed on our journey to the supersensible worlds, there will
always be still higher stages which will enable us to perceive more and
more of our “higher self.” It can therefore only partially reveal itself
to the student at any particular stage. Having once caught a glimpse of
this higher self, man feels a tremendous temptation to look upon it in the
same manner in which he is accustomed to regard the things of the physical
sense-world. And yet this temptation is salutary; it is indeed necessary,
if man’s development is to proceed in the right manner. The student must
here note what it is that appears as his double, as the Guardian of the
Threshold, and place it by the side of the higher self, in order that he
may rightly observe the disparity between what he is and what he is to
become. But while thus engaged in observation he will find that the
Guardian of the Threshold will assume quite a different aspect, for it
will now reveal itself as a picture of all the _obstacles_ which oppose
the development of the higher ego, and he then becomes aware of what a
load he drags about with him in his ordinary ego. And should the student’s
preparation not have rendered him strong enough to be able to say: “I will
not remain at this point, but will persistently work my way upward toward
the higher ego,” he will grow weak and will shrink back dismayed before
the labor that lies before him. He has plunged into the psycho-spiritual
world, but gives up working his way farther, and becomes a captive to that
image which, as Guardian of the Threshold, now confronts the soul. And the
remarkable thing here is that the person so situated will have no feeling
of being a captive. He will, on the contrary, think he is going through
quite a different experience, for the image called forth by the Guardian
of the Threshold may be such as to awaken in the soul of the observer the
impression that in the pictures which appear at this stage of development
he has before him the whole universe in its entirety—the impression of
having attained to the summit of all knowledge, and of there being,
therefore, nothing left to strive after. Therefore, instead of feeling
himself a captive, the student would believe himself rich beyond all
measure, and in possession of all the secrets of the universe. Nor need
this experience fill one with surprise, though it be the reverse of the
facts, for we must remember that by the time these experiences are felt,
we are already standing within the psycho-spiritual world, and that the
special peculiarity of this world is that it reverses events—a fact which
has already been alluded to in our consideration of life after death.

The image seen by the occult student at this stage of development shows
him a different aspect from that in which the Guardian of the Threshold
first revealed itself. In the double first mentioned, were to be seen all
those qualities which, as the result of the influence of Lucifer, are
possessed by man’s ordinary ego. But in the course of human development,
another power has, in consequence of Lucifer’s influence, also been drawn
into the human soul; this is known as the force of Ahriman. It is this
force that, during his physical existence, prevents man from becoming
aware of those psycho-spiritual beings which lie behind the surface of the
external world. All that man’s soul has become under the influence of this
force, may be discerned in the image revealing itself during the
experience just described. Those who have been sufficiently prepared for
this experience will, when thus confronted, be able to assign to it its
true meaning, and then another form will soon become visible—one we may
describe as the “greater Guardian of the Threshold.” This one will tell
the student not to rest content with the stage to which he has attained,
but to work on energetically. It will call forth in him the consciousness
that the world he has conquered will only become a truth, and not an
illusion, if the work thus begun be continued in a corresponding manner.
Those, however, who have gone through incorrect occult training and would
approach this meeting unprepared, would then experience something in their
souls when they come to the “greater Guardian of the Threshold,” which can
only be described as a “feeling of inexpressible fright”, of “boundless

Just as the meeting with the “lesser Guardian” gives the occult student
the opportunity of judging whether or not he is proof against delusions
such as might arise through interweaving his own personality with the
supersensible world, so too must he be able to prove from the experiences
which finally lead to the “greater Guardian,” whether he is able to
withstand those illusions which are to be traced to the second source
mentioned farther back in this chapter. Should he be proof against the
powerful illusion by which the world of images to which he has attained,
is falsely displayed to him as a rich possession, when actually he is only
a captive, then he is guarded also against the danger of mistaking
appearance for reality during the further course of his development.

To a certain degree the Guardian of the Threshold will assume a different
form in the case of each individual. The meeting with him corresponds
exactly to the way in which the personal element in supersensible
observations is overcome, and therefore the possibility exists of entering
a realm of experience which is free from any tinge of personality and is
open to every human being.


When the occult student has passed through the above experiences, he will
be capable of distinguishing in the psycho-spiritual world between what he
himself is and what is outside of him, and he will then recognize why an
understanding of the cosmic occurrences narrated in this book, is
necessary to man’s understanding of humanity itself and its life process.
In fact, we can understand the physical body only when we recognize the
manner in which it has been built up through the developments undergone in
the Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth periods, and we understand the etheric
body when we follow its evolution through the Sun, Moon, and Earth stages
of evolution. We further comprehend what is bound up with our
earth-development at present, if we can grasp how all things proceed by
the process of gradual evolution. Occult training places us in a position
to recognize the connection between everything that is within man and the
corresponding facts and beings existing in the world external to him. For
it is a fact that each principle of man stands in some connection with the
rest of the world. The outlines of these subjects could only be briefly
sketched in this book. It must however be borne in mind that the physical
body had, at the time of the Saturn development, for instance, no more
than its rudimentary beginnings. Its organs—such as the heart, lungs, and
brain—developed later during the Sun, Moon, and Earth periods, for which
reason heart, lungs and brain are related to the evolutionary process of
Sun, Moon and Earth.

It is the same with the members of the etheric body, the sentient body,
and the sentient soul. Man is the outcome of the entire world surrounding
him, and every part of his constitution corresponds to some event, to some
being in the external world. At a certain stage of his development the
occult student comes to a realization of this relation of his own being to
the great cosmos, and this stage of development may in the occult sense be
termed a becoming aware of the relationship of the little world, the
microcosm—that is, man himself—to the great world, the macrocosm. And when
the occult student has struggled through to such cognition, he may then go
through a new experience; he begins to feel himself united, as it were,
with the entire cosmic structure, although he remains fully conscious of
his own independence. This sensation is a merging into the whole world, a
becoming “at one” with it, yet _without_ losing one’s own individual
identity. Occult science describes this stage as the “becoming one with
the macrocosm.” It is important that this union should not be imagined as
one in which separate consciousness ceases and in which the human being
flowers forth into the universe, for such a thought would only be the
expression of an opinion resulting from untutored reasoning.

Following this stage of development something takes place that in occult
science is described as “beatitude.” It is neither possible nor necessary
that this stage be more closely described, for no human words have the
power to picture this experience and it may rightly be said that any
conception of this state could be acquired only by means of such
thought-power as would no longer be dependent upon the instrument of the
human brain. The separate stages of higher knowledge, according to the
methods of initiation that have been here described, may be enumerated as

1. The study of occult science, in the course of which we first of all
make use of the reasoning powers we have acquired in the world of the
physical senses.

2. Attainment of imaginative cognition.

3. Reading the secret script (which corresponds to inspiration).

4. Working with the philosopher’s stone (corresponding to intuition).

5. Cognition of the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm.

6. Being one with the macrocosm.

7. Beatitude.

These stages however need not necessarily be thought of as following one
another consecutively, for in the course of training, the occult student,
according to his individuality, may have attained a preceding stage only
to a certain degree when he has already begun to practice exercises,
corresponding to the next higher stage. For instance, it may be that when
he has gained only a few reliable imaginative pictures, he will already be
doing exercises which lead him on to draw inspiration, intuition, or
cognition of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm into the
sphere of his own experiences.


When the occult student has experienced intuition he comes to know not
only the forms of the psycho-spiritual world, not only can he recognize
their inter-relationship through the “secret script,” but he attains a
cognition of these beings themselves through whose co-operation the world,
to which he belongs, comes into being. Thus he learns to know himself in
the true form which he possesses as a spiritual being in the
psycho-spiritual world. He has struggled through to the higher ego, and
has learned how he must continue the work in order that he may master his
double, the Guardian of the Threshold. But he has also met the “greater
guardian of the Threshold” who stands before him perpetually urging him to
further labors. It is this greater Guardian of the Threshold who now
becomes the ideal he must strive to resemble, and when the student has
acquired this feeling he will have risen to that important stage of
development in which he will be in a position to recognize who it is that
is really standing before him as that “greater Guardian.” For henceforth,
in the student’s consciousness, the Guardian is gradually transformed into
the figure of the Christ, whose Being and intervention in the evolution of
the earth have been dealt with in a foregoing chapter.

Thus the student, through his intuition, will have become initiated into
that sublime Mystery which is linked with the name of Christ. The Christ
reveals himself to him as the “Great Ideal of humanity on earth.”

When in this manner through intuition, the Christ has been recognized in
the spiritual world, then we can also understand those events that took
place historically upon earth during the fourth post-Atlantean period (the
Greco-Roman time), and how at that time the great Sun-Spirit, the
Christ-Being, intervened in the world’s development, and how He still
continues to guide its evolution. These are matters the student will then
know by personal experience. Therefore it is through intuition that the
meaning and significance of the earth’s evolution are disclosed to the
occult student.

The path leading to cognition of the supersensible worlds as above
indicated, is one which all men may travel, whatever their position under
the present conditions of life may be. And in speaking of such a path it
must be borne in mind that, while the goal of cognition and truth is the
same at all times of the earth’s development, yet the starting-point for
man has varied considerably at different periods. For instance, the man of
the present day who wishes to find his way into supersensible worlds,
cannot start from the same point as the Egyptian candidate for initiation
of old. This is why it is impossible for modern humanity to apply, without
modification, the exercises given to the candidate for initiation in
ancient Egypt. For since those times men’s souls have passed through
different incarnations, and this passing onward from incarnation to
incarnation is not without significance and importance. The capacities and
qualities of souls change from one incarnation to another. Those who have
studied human history only superficially can note that since the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries all life conditions have changed and that
opinions, feelings and even human capabilities have become different from
what they were before that time. The path here described for the
acquirement of higher knowledge is one which is suitable for souls
incarnating in the immediate present. It fixes the starting-point of
spiritual development just where the man of the present day stands, in
whatever conditions of life he may be placed.

From epoch to epoch, progressive evolution leads humanity, in respect to
the path of higher cognition, to ever changing modes, just as outer life
likewise changes its form. For at all times it is necessary that perfect
harmony should reign between external life and initiation. It will be
pointed out in the next chapter of this book what changes initiation,
which in the ancient mysteries lead into the higher worlds, must undergo,
in order to become modern “initiation” for the attainment of supersensible
cognition in its present form.


It is impossible to know anything in the occult sense of the present and
future of human or planetary evolution without understanding that
evolution in the past. For, that which presents itself to the occult
student’s observation when he watches the hidden events of the past,
contains at the same time everything that he can learn of the present and
future. In this book we have spoken of the Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth
evolutions. We cannot follow the evolution of the earth, as the occultist
understands it, unless we observe the events of preceding evolutionary
periods. For what meets us today, within the bounds of our earthly globe,
comprises in a certain sense the facts of the evolution of the Moon, Sun
and Saturn. The beings and things that took part in the evolution of the
Moon have gone on developing, and all that now belongs to the earth, is
the outcome of that development.

But not all that has evolved from the Moon to the Earth is perceptible to
physical sense-consciousness. A part of what came over to us from the Moon
evolution is revealed only at a certain stage of clairvoyant
consciousness, at which knowledge of supersensible worlds is reached. When
this knowledge is gained, the fact that our earthly planet is united to a
supersensible world is recognized. The latter includes that part of lunar
existence which is not sufficiently densified to be observed by the
physical senses. In the first place it does not include it as it was at
the time of the evolution of the original Moon. If this clairvoyant
consciousness occupies itself with the perception of these things, which
it can have at present, this latter gradually separates into two images.
One presents the shape borne by the earth during the lunar evolution, the
other shows itself in such a way, that we recognize as its content a form
as yet in the germinal stage which will become a reality—in the sense in
which the earth is now a reality—but only in the future.

On further observation it is seen that the results, in a certain sense, of
that which is taking place on the earth are continually streaming into
that future form, so that in it we have before us that which our earth
will ultimately become. The effects of earthly existence will unite with
the events in the world described, and out of this the new cosmos will
arise, into which the Earth will be transformed as the Moon was
transformed into the Earth. This future form is called in occult science
the Jupiter condition. The clairvoyant observer of this Jupiter state sees
the revelation of certain events which _must_ take place in the future.
The reason for this is that in the supersensible part of the Earth which
had its origin in the Moon, beings and things are present which will
assume definite form when certain events have actually happened in the
physical world. Therefore there will be something in the Jupiter condition
which was already predetermined by the Moon evolution and it will contain
new factors, which can come into the whole evolution only in consequence
of terrestrial events. In this way clairvoyant consciousness is able to
learn something of what will happen during the Jupiter state.

The beings and facts observed in this field of consciousness have not the
nature of sense-images; they do not even appear as fine air-structures
from which effects might proceed which resemble sense-impressions. They
give purely spiritual impressions of sound, light and heat. These are
_not_ expressed through any material embodiments. They can be apprehended
only by clairvoyant consciousness. One may say, however, that these beings
which at present manifest on the psycho-spiritual plane, possess a “body.”
This body, however, appears like a sum of _condensed memories_ which they
carry within their souls.

One can distinguish within their being what they are now experiencing and
what they have experienced and now remember. This last is contained within
them like a bodily element. They are conscious of it in the same way that
an earthly human being is conscious of his body.

At a stage of clairvoyant development higher than that just described as
necessary for a knowledge of the Moon and Jupiter, the student is able to
perceive supersensible beings and things which are, in fact, the more
highly developed forms of those present during the Sun condition, but
which have now reached stages of existence so lofty as to be quite
imperceptible to a consciousness capable of observing the Moon forms only.
During meditation the picture of this world also divides in two. The one
leads to a knowledge of the Sun state of the past; the other represents a
future form of the earth existence—namely, that into which the earth will
have been transformed when the fruits of all that takes place on it and
Jupiter have merged into the forms of that future world. What can thus be
observed of this future world may be characterized in occult phraseology
as the Venus condition.

In a similar manner, to a still more highly evolved clairvoyant
consciousness, a future state of evolution is revealed, which we may call
the Vulcan state. It stands in the same relationship to the Saturn state
as the Venus condition does to that of the Sun, or the Jupiter state to
the evolution of the Moon. Therefore, when we contemplate the past,
present, and future of the earth’s evolution, we may speak of the Saturn,
Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan evolutions.

Just as these far-reaching conditions of the evolution of our earth lie
disclosed to clairvoyant vision, the same vision is also able to cover the
nearer future. There is a picture of the future corresponding to every
picture of the past. In speaking of such things, however, one fact must be
emphasized which should be taken into strict account: that in order to
recognize facts of this kind, one must absolutely do away with the idea
that they can be fathomed through mere philosophical reflection. These
things cannot, and never should be investigated by that kind of thinking.
Anyone would be labouring under a prodigious delusion who, after becoming
acquainted with the teachings of occult science regarding the Moon state,
thinks that he could discover the future conditions of Jupiter by
comparing those of the Moon and Earth. These conditions must be
investigated only when the requisite clairvoyant consciousness has been
attained; but once communicated to others after such investigation, they
can be understood without clairvoyant consciousness.

Now the occultist finds himself in quite a different position, with regard
to observations concerning the future, from that in which he stands with
regard to those of the past. It is impossible at first for man to
contemplate future events as impartially as he does those of the past.
Future events excite human will and feeling; while the past affects us in
quite a different way. He who observes life knows how true this is of
everyday existence; but how enormously this truth is enhanced, and what an
intimate bearing it has upon the hidden facts of life, can only be
realized by one who has some knowledge of the supersensible world. That is
the reason why those who know such things are very definitely limited as
to what they are allowed to give out. Certain things bearing on the future
can, in fact, be imparted only to those who have themselves determined to
follow the path leading to the supersensible worlds. Such people by their
mental attitude have acquired something which gives them the
disinterestedness necessary for the reception of these teachings. For this
reason certain secret facts, even of the past and present, can be spoken
of only to those who are prepared for them in this way. These are facts so
closely connected with future evolution, that their effect on the human
soul is similar to that produced by communications regarding the future

This explains, also, why the information in this book concerning the
present and the future is given in the merest outline as compared with the
more detailed descriptions of the evolution of the world and of humanity
in the past. What is said here is not intended to appeal to the love of
sensation in the smallest degree; not even to awaken it. We shall only
state where the answer can be found to vital questions which naturally
present themselves to one who holds a certain definite attitude of mind.

Just as the great cosmic evolution can be portrayed in the successive
states, from the Saturn to the Vulcan period, so also is this possible for
shorter periods of time; for example, for those of the evolution of the
earth. Since that mighty upheaval which terminated the ancient Atlantean
life, successive periods of human evolution have followed one another
which have been called in this work the ancient Indian, the ancient
Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, and the Greco-Roman. The fifth period is
that in which humanity finds itself to-day,—it is the present time. This
period gradually took its rise in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteen
centuries A.D., after a period of preparation commencing in the fourth and
fifth centuries. The Greco-Roman period preceding it began about the
eighth century B.C. When one-third of this period had elapsed, the
Christ-event took place.

During the transition from the Egypto-Chaldean to the Greco-Roman period,
the attitude of the human mind and, indeed, all human faculties, underwent
a change. In the first of these two periods what we now know as logical
thinking, as a mere intellectual concept of the world, was still wanting.
The knowledge which a man now acquires through his intelligence, he then
gained in a manner suited to that time,—directly through an inner, in a
certain sense, clairvoyant cognition. He perceived the things around him,
and while perceiving them there arose within his soul the percept, the
image that was needed. Whenever knowledge is gained in this way, not only
pictures of the physical sense-world come to light, but from the depths of
consciousness a certain knowledge of facts and beings arises which are not
of the physical world. This was a remnant of the ancient dim clairvoyance,
once the common property of the whole of humanity.

During the Greco-Roman period an ever-increasing number of individuals
appeared without these capacities. Intelligent reflection concerning
things took their place. Mankind was more and more shut off from the
immediate perception of the psycho-spiritual world, and was more and more
restricted to forming a picture of it through intelligence and feeling.
This condition lasted more or less during the whole of the fourth division
of the post-Atlantean period. Only those individuals who had preserved the
old mental state as an inheritance could still become directly conscious
of the spiritual world. But these were stragglers from an earlier time.
Their manner of gaining knowledge was no longer suitable for later
conditions. For, as a consequence of the laws of evolution, old faculties
of the soul lose something of their former significance when new faculties
appear. Human life then adapts itself to these new faculties, and can no
longer use the old ones properly.

There were individuals, however, who began in full consciousness to add to
the powers of intelligence and feeling already gained, the development of
other and higher powers, which made it possible for them once more to
penetrate into the psycho-spiritual world. To this end they were obliged
to set to work in a different way from that in which the pupils of the old
Initiates had been trained. The latter had not been obliged to take into
account those faculties of the soul which were developed only in the
fourth period. The method of occult training which has been described in
this work as that of the present age, began in its first rudiments in the
fourth period. But it was then only in its beginning, it could not attain
real maturity until the fifth period (from the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries onward). Those who sought to rise into supersensible worlds in
this manner could learn something of the higher regions of existence
through the exercise of their own imagination, inspiration, and intuition.
Those who went no further than the development of the faculties of reason
and feeling could learn only through tradition what had been known to
ancient clairvoyance. This was handed on, either by word of mouth or in
writing, from generation to generation.

Neither could those born later know anything of the real nature of the
Christ-event save by such traditions, if they did not rise to the level of
the supersensible worlds. Certainly there were such Initiates who still
possessed the natural faculties of supersensible perception and yet who,
through their development, had ascended into the higher worlds, in spite
of their disregard of the new powers of intelligence and feeling. Through
them a transition was effected from the old method of Initiation to the
new. Such persons lived in later times as well. The essential
characteristic of the fourth period is that, by the exclusion of the soul
from direct communion with the psycho-spiritual world, the human faculties
of intelligence and feeling were thereby strengthened and invigorated. The
souls whose powers of intelligence and feeling had at that time developed
to a great extent as the result of former incarnations, carried over with
them the fruits of this development into their incarnations during the
fifth period. As a compensation for this exclusion from the higher worlds,
mighty traditions of Ancient Wisdom then existed, especially those of the
Christ-event, which by the power of their content gave men confident
knowledge of the higher worlds.

But there were still certain human beings existing who had evolved the
higher powers of cognition in addition to the faculties of reason and
feeling. It devolved upon them to learn the facts of the higher worlds,
and especially of the Mystery of the Christ-event, by direct supersensible
perception. From these individuals there always flowed into the souls of
other men as much as was intelligible and good for them.

The first spreading of Christianity was to take place just at a time when
the capacities for supersensible cognition were undeveloped in a great
part of humanity. And this is why tradition at that time possessed such
mighty power. The strongest possible force was necessary to lead mankind
to a faith in a supersensible world which they themselves could not
perceive. How Christianity worked during that period has been shown in
previous pages. There were always those, however, who were able to rise
into higher worlds through imagination, inspiration, and intuition. These
men were the post-Christian successors of the old Initiates, the teachers
and members of the Mysteries. Their task was to recognize again, through
their own faculties, what man had been able to perceive through ancient
clairvoyance, and through the methods of ascent into higher worlds taught
in the old Initiations; and in addition to this, to acquire the knowledge
of the real nature of the Christ-event.

Thus there arose, among these “New Initiates,” a knowledge embracing
everything contained in the old form of Initiation; but the central point
of this teaching was the higher knowledge concerning the Mysteries of the
coming of the Christ. Such teaching could only filter through into the
general life of the world in scanty measure while the human souls of the
fourth period were further developing the faculties of intellect and
feeling; therefore, while this lasted, the doctrine was in truth secret.
Then began the dawn of the new period designated as the fifth. Its
essential characteristic lay in the progress made in the evolution of the
intellectual faculties, which were then developed to a very high degree,
and will unfold still further in the future. This process has been slowly
going on from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, becoming ever more
rapid from the sixteenth century up to the present time.

Under these influences the evolution of the fifth period became an
ever-increasing endeavour to foster the powers of intellect, while, on the
contrary, the knowledge by faith of former times, and traditional wisdom,
gradually lost its hold over the human soul. On the other hand, however,
from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries on, there developed that which
may be called an ever increasing flow of cognition born of modern
clairvoyant consciousness. This “hidden knowledge” flows even though at
first quite imperceptibly, into the human concepts of that period. It is
only natural that even up to the present time the purely intellectual
forces should have maintained an antagonistic attitude toward this
knowledge. But that which must come to pass will do so in spite of all
temporary antagonism. That “hidden knowledge” which is taking possession
of humanity more and more may be called symbolically, the “wisdom of the
Holy Grail.”

For he who learns to understand this symbol in its deeper meaning, as it
is told in story and legend, will find that it symbolizes the nature of
what has been called above, the knowledge of the new Initiation, with the
Christ Mystery as its central point. Modern Initiates may therefore be
called “the Initiates of the Grail.” The preliminary stages of the path to
the supersensible worlds described in this book, leads to the “Wisdom of
the Grail.” It is a peculiarity of this wisdom that its facts can be
investigated only when the necessary means, as described in this book,
have been acquired. Once investigated, however, these facts can be
understood by means of those very soul-forces which are the result of the
evolution of the fifth period. Indeed, it will become more and more
evident that to an ever increasing extent those forces find satisfaction
through this knowledge. We are now living at a time in which this
knowledge must be absorbed by human consciousness in general to a much
fuller extent than was formerly the case. And it is from this point of
view that the teachings contained in this Christ-event will grow ever more
powerful in proportion as human evolution assimilates the Wisdom of the
Grail. The inner side of the development of Christianity will more and
more keep pace with the exoteric side. That which may be learned through
imagination, inspiration and intuition, concerning the higher worlds, in
connection with the Christ Mystery, will penetrate ever more and more
human thinking, feeling, and willing. The “hidden wisdom of the Grail”
will be revealed, and as an inner force will more and more permeate the
manifestations of human life.

Through the whole of the fifth period, knowledge concerning the
supersensible world will flow into human consciousness; and when the sixth
period begins, humanity will be able to regain on a higher level that
clairvoyance which it possessed at an earlier epoch in a dim and
indistinct manner. Yet the new acquisition will take a form quite
different from the old. What the soul knew of higher worlds in ancient
times, was not permeated by its own forces of intellect and feeling. Its
knowledge was instinctive. In the future it will not only have instincts,
but it will _understand_ them, and feel them to be the essence of its own
nature. When the soul learns a fact concerning some other being or thing,
its intellect will find this fact verified through its own nature. Or when
some fact regarding an ethical law or human conduct presents itself, the
soul will say to itself: “My feeling is only justified when I carry out
what is implied in this knowledge.” Such a condition of soul will have to
be developed by a large part of humanity in the sixth period.

In a certain manner, that which human evolution accomplished during the
third period—the Egypto-Chaldean—is repeated in the fifth. At that time
the soul could still perceive certain facts of the supersensible worlds,
but this perception was disappearing. For the intellectual faculties were
at that time beginning to develop and it was their mission to at first
exclude man from the higher worlds. In the fifth period supersensible
facts which in the third period were perceived in hazy clairvoyance, are
again becoming manifest; but they are now interpenetrated by the
intellectual and emotional life of the individual man. They are also
imbued with what may be imparted to the soul by a knowledge of the Christ
Mystery; therefore they assume a form totally different from that which
they had previously.

Whereas in ancient times impressions from the higher worlds were felt as
forces acting from out a spiritual world to which man did not properly
belong, through development in later times these impressions are felt as
those of a world into which man is growing, of which he more and more
forms a part. Let no one suppose that a repetition of the Egypto-Chaldean
civilization can take place in such a way that the soul would merely
regain what then existed, and which has been handed on from that time. The
Christ-impulse, rightly understood, impels the human soul which has
experienced it, to feel and conduct itself as a member of a spiritual
world, now recognizing it as a world to which it belongs, outside of which
it previously existed.

In the same way that the third reappears in the fifth period, in order to
become penetrated with those new qualities which the human soul gained
during the fourth, so similarly the second period will revive within the
sixth and the first, the ancient Indian, during the seventh. All the
marvelous wisdom of ancient India which the great teachers of that day
were able to proclaim, will reappear in the seventh period, as living
truth in human souls.

Now the changes in the earthly environment of man take place in a manner
which bears a certain relationship to his own evolution. When the seventh
period has run its course, the earth will experience an upheaval which may
be compared with the one which separated Atlantean from post-Atlantean
times. And the transformed earth will again continue its evolution in
seven divisions of time. The human souls which will then incarnate will
experience, on a more exalted level, the kinship with the higher worlds
which was possessed by the Atlanteans at a lower stage. But only those
individuals will be able to cope with the new conditions of the earth who
have built into their souls the qualities made possible by the influences
of the Greco-Roman age, and of the periods following it,—the fifth, sixth,
and seventh of the post-Atlantean evolution.

The inner nature of such souls will correspond to that which the earth has
become by that time. All other souls must then remain behind, although up
to that point they had been able to choose whether or not they would
create for themselves the conditions necessary to advance with the others.
Those souls alone will be ripe for the conditions arising after the next
great catastrophe, who at the point of transition from the fifth to the
sixth post-Atlantean period have attained the capacity for penetrating
supersensible cognition with the forces of intelligence and feeling. The
fifth and sixth are in a way the decisive periods. Those souls which have
attained the goal of the sixth period will continue to develop accordingly
in the seventh; but the others will, under the altered conditions of their
surroundings, find but little opportunity to proceed with their neglected
task. Only in a distant future will conditions again appear which will
permit of this being done.

Thus evolution proceeds from period to period. Clairvoyance observes not
only those changes in the future in which the earth alone takes part, but
those also which take place in conjunction with the heavenly bodies in its
environment. A time will come in which the terrestrial and human evolution
will be advanced so far that those forces and beings which were compelled
to detach themselves from the earth during the Lemurian period, so as to
afford to earth-beings the possibility of further progress, will be able
once more to unite with the earth. Then the moon will again be united with
the earth. This will happen because a sufficiently large number of human
souls will then possess the inner powers which will enable them to render
the Moon forces fruitful for further development. And this will occur at a
time when, side by side with the high development of a certain number of
human souls, another development, that of those who have chosen the path
of evil, will parallel it. These straggler-souls will have accumulated in
their Karma so much sin, ugliness and evil, that at first they will form a
separate community, a perverse and erring section of humanity, keenly
opposing what we understand as “good.” The “good” humanity will acquire
little by little the power of using the Moon forces, and will thereby so
transform the evil section as to enable it to keep pace with the advance
of evolution as a separate earth kingdom. Through these labours of the
good part of humanity, the earth, then reunited with the moon, will be
able, after a certain period of development, to again unite with the sun
and also with the other planets.

After an intermediate state, which will be a sojourn in a higher world,
the earth will be transformed into the Jupiter condition. That which we
now call the mineral kingdom will not exist on Jupiter; the forces of this
mineral kingdom will be transformed into plant forces and the plant
kingdom, which will have quite a new form compared with its present one,
will appear in the Jupiter state as the lowest of the kingdoms, while
above it, we find the animal kingdom, likewise transformed. Next comes a
human kingdom—the descendants of the evil earth humanity. And then will
appear the descendants of the good earth humanity, as a human kingdom on a
higher level. A great part of the work of this last human kingdom consists
in ennobling the souls which have sunk into the evil community, so that
they may still gain admittance into the true human kingdom.

The Venus condition will be of such a nature that the plant kingdom will
have disappeared also; the lowest kingdom will be the animal kingdom once
more transformed, and above that there will be three successive human
kingdoms of different degrees of perfection. The earth will remain united
with the sun during the Venus period; while during that of Jupiter it will
have happened that, at a certain point, the sun separates from Jupiter,
the latter receiving its influence from outside. Then there is again a
union between the sun and Jupiter, the transformation gradually passing
into the Venus state. During that state another planet detaches itself
from Venus, containing all kinds of beings which have opposed evolution,
an “irredeemable moon,” as it were, following a path of evolution which is
of a character impossible to describe, because it is too unlike anything
which man can experience on earth. But evolved humanity will pass on in a
fully spiritualized state of existence to the Vulcan evolution, a
description of which lies beyond the scope of this work.

We see that from the fruits of the “Wisdom of the Grail” springs the
highest ideal of human evolution conceivable for man: spiritualization
attained by him through his own efforts. For in the end this
spiritualization appears as a product of the harmony which he wrought out
in the fifth and sixth periods of the present evolution, between the
faculties of reason and emotion which he had then attained and cognition
of supersensible worlds. That which he thus achieves within his soul will
finally become in itself the outer world. The human spirit rises to the
mighty impressions of its outer world and at first divines, later
recognizes spiritual beings behind these impressions; the human heart
senses the unspeakable exaltedness of the Spirit. Man can, however, also
recognize that his inner experiences of intellect, feeling and character
are but the germs of a nascent spirit world.

He who thinks that human liberty is not compatible with a foreknowledge
and predestination of future conditions, ought to consider that man’s
freedom of action in the future depends just as little on the arrangement
of predestined things as does his liberty of action with regard to
inhabiting a house a year hence, on the plans for which he is now
settling. He will be as free as his innermost being will permit, within
the house he has built; and he will be as free on Jupiter and on Venus as
his inner life permits, even under the conditions which will arise there.
Freedom will not depend on what has been predetermined by antecedent
conditions, but on what the soul has made out of itself.


In the earth condition is contained that which has developed within the
preceding Saturn, Sun and Moon states. Earth-man finds “wisdom” in the
processes going on around him. This wisdom is there as the fruit of what
has happened in the past. The Earth is the descendant of the “old Moon”;
and the latter developed with all that belonged to it, into the “Cosmos of
Wisdom.” The Earth is now at the commencement of an evolution, which will
introduce a new force into this wisdom. It will cause man to feel himself
an independent member of a spiritual world. This will come to pass because
his ego will have been formed within him during the Earth period by the
Lords of Form, as was his physical body on Saturn by the Lords of Will,
his vital body on the Sun by the Lords of Wisdom, and his astral body on
the Moon by the Lords of Motion.

By means of the co-operation of the Lords of Will, Wisdom and Motion, that
which manifests as wisdom is brought forth. Through the labours of these
three classes of spirits, the beings and processes of earth can harmonize
in wisdom with the other beings of their world. It is the Lords of Form
who bestowed on man his independent ego. In the future this ego will
harmonize with the beings of Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and of Vulcan, by
means of the force added to the existing wisdom during the Earth period.
It is the force of love. This force must begin to arise within
earth-humanity and the Cosmos of Wisdom develop into a _Cosmos of Love_.
Everything which the ego is able to unfold within itself must give birth
to love. The all-embracing archetype of love is set forth in the
revelation of that lofty Sun-spirit indicated in the description of the
Christ Mystery. Through Him the germ of love is planted in the innermost
core of the human being; and from this starting-point it must flow through
the whole of evolution. Just as the wisdom previously formed manifests in
the forces of the earthly sense-world, in the “elementary forces” of
to-day, so love itself will manifest in the future, in all phenomena, as
the new “elementary force.”

The secret of all future development is a recognition that everything
achieved by man from a right comprehension of evolution is a sowing of
seed which must ripen into love. And the greater the amount of love-force,
so much the greater will be the creative force available for the future.
In that which will grow from love, will lie the mighty forces leading to
that culminating point of spiritualization described above. The greater
the amount of spiritual knowledge that flows into human and terrestrial
evolution, so much more living and fruitful seed will be stored up for the
future. Spiritual knowledge is transmuted _through its own nature_ into
love. The whole process which has been described, beginning with the
Greco-Roman period and extending throughout the present time, shows how
this transformation, for which the beginning has now been made for future
times, is to take place and to what end. That which has been prepared as
wisdom on Saturn, Sun and Moon, is active in the physical, etheric and
astral bodies of man; it shows itself there as the “Wisdom of the World”,
but within the “ego” it becomes intensified. The wisdom of the outer world
becomes inner wisdom in man from the Earth period onward and when it is
concentrated in him, it becomes the germ of love. Wisdom is the necessary
preliminary condition for love; love is the fruit of wisdom, reborn in the


When the higher principles of man are observed with clairvoyant vision,
the mode of perception is never precisely the same as that which comes
from the outer senses. If we touch an object, and experience a sensation
of warmth, we must distinguish between that which comes from the object,
that which, as it were, streams out from it, and our own psychic
experience. The inner psychic experience of perceiving warmth is something
distinct from the heat which streams from the object. Now let us imagine
this psychic experience quite by itself without the outer object. Let us
call up the experience of a sensation of heat in our soul, without the
presence of any external physical object to cause it. If such a sensation
simply existed _without_ cause, it would be mere fancy. The student of
occult science experiences such inner perceptions without any physical
cause. But at a certain stage of development they present themselves in
such a manner that he knows (it has been shown that by the very nature of
the experience he can know) that the inner perception is not fancy, but is
caused by a psycho-spiritual being belonging to a supersensible world,
just as the ordinary sensation of heat, for example, is caused by an
external physical-sense object.

It is the same with the perception of colour in the supersensible world.
Here we must distinguish between the colour associated with the outer
object, and the inner colour-sensation in the soul. Let us call up the
soul’s inner sensation when it perceives a _red_ object in the physical,
outer world of the senses. Let us imagine that we retain a very vivid
recollection of the impression, but that we are looking away from the
object. Let us imagine what we still retain as a memory-picture of the
colour, to be an inner experience. We shall then distinguish between that
which is an inner experience of the colour, and the external colour
itself. These inner experiences differ entirely in their content from
impressions of the outer senses. They bear much more the impress of what
is felt as joy and sorrow than that of normal physical sensation. Now let
us imagine an inner experience of this kind arising in the soul, without
any suggestion from an outer sense object. A clairvoyant may have an
experience of this kind, and may know too, in that case, that it is no
fancy, but the expression of a psycho-spiritual being. Now if this
psycho-spiritual being excites the same impression as does a red object of
the physical-sense world, then that being is red. There will, however,
always be the external impression first, and then the inner experience of
colour, in the case of the physical-sense object; in that of the genuine
clairvoyance of a man of to-day, it _must_ be the contrary,—first the
inner experience, shadowy, like a mere recollection of colour, and then a
picture, growing more and more vivid. The less heed we pay to this
necessary sequence of events the less we are able to distinguish between
actual, spiritual perception and the delusions of fancy (illusion,
hallucination, etc.).

The vividness of the picture in a psycho-spiritual perception of this
kind, whether it remains quite shadowy, like a dim concept, or whether it
impresses us as intensively as an outer object, depends altogether upon
the clairvoyant’s stage of development. Now, the general impression
obtained by the clairvoyant of the etheric body, may be thus described.
When the clairvoyant has strengthened his will power to such a degree
that, in spite of the fact that an individual stands before him in a
physical body, he can abstract his attention from what the physical eye
sees,—he is then able to see clairvoyantly into the space occupied by the
man’s physical body. Of course, a great increase of will power is
necessary, in order to withdraw the attention not only from something in
the mind, but from something standing before one, in such a way that the
physical impression is quite extinguished. But this increase of will is
possible, and is brought about by exercises for the attainment of
supersensible cognition. The clairvoyant can then first have a general
impression of the etheric body. Within his soul there arises the same
inner sensation which he has, let us say, at the sight of a peach blossom;
then this becomes vivid, so that he is able to say that the etheric body
has the colour of peach blossoms. He next perceives the separate organs
and currents of the etheric body. A further description of the etheric
body may be given by relating the psychic experiences which correspond to
sensations of heat or of sound-impressions, etc., for this etheric body is
not merely a colour phenomenon. The astral body and the other principles
of the human being, may also be described in like manner. He who takes
this into consideration will understand just how descriptions should be
taken which are given by occult science.

The Astral World

As long as we observe the physical world only, the earth, as man’s
dwelling place, appears like a separate cosmic body. But when
supersensible cognition rises to higher spheres, this separation ceases.
Thus one can say that the imagination, when beholding the earth, at the
same time also perceives the Moon condition as it has developed up to the
present time.

Now that world which is entered in this way is one to which not only the
supersensible part of the Earth belongs, but is one in which also other
cosmic bodies are imbedded, which in a physical sense are entirely
separate from the earth. Therefore, the observer of supersensible worlds
thus beholds not only the supersensible part of the earth, but also the
supersensible part of other cosmic beings. If one should be impelled to
ask why clairvoyants do not describe the appearance of Mars, etc., he
should bear in mind that it is primarily a question of observing
supersensible conditions of other planetary bodies, whereas the questioner
is thinking of physical sense conditions. Therefore in this work it was
possible to speak of certain relations of the earth’s evolution to the
simultaneous evolution on Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc. Now when the human
astral body has been drawn away by sleep, it belongs not only to the
earth, but to worlds of which still other regions of the universe (stellar
worlds) are a part. Indeed, these worlds extend their influence to man’s
astral body even when he is awake. For this reason the name “astral body”
appears to be justified.

Of Man’s Life After Death

Mention has been made, in the course of this book, of the time during
which the astral body still remains joined to the etheric body of man
after death. During this time there exists a slowly paleing recollection
of the whole earth life just ended. The duration of this time varies in
different individuals. It depends upon the strength with which the astral
body clings to the etheric body, on the power which the former has over
the latter. Supersensible cognition can gain an idea of this power by
observing a person who, judging from his degree of fatigue, must of
necessity fall asleep, but, by sheer inner force, keeps awake. It then
appears that different people can keep awake for different lengths of time
without being overpowered by sleep. The memory of the past life, in other
words the connection with the etheric body, lasts about as long after
death as the length of time a man can keep awake when, in the most extreme
case, he is compelled to.


When the etheric body is detached from the individual after death,
something of it nevertheless remains for man’s whole subsequent
development; this may be described as an extract, or the essence of it.
This extract contains the result of the past life, and is the vehicle of
all that which, during man’s spiritual development between death and a new
birth, unfolds like a germ for the following life.


The duration of time between death and a new birth is determined by the
fact that the ego, as a rule, returns to the physical sense-world only
when that world has been so transformed that the ego can experience
something new. During its sojourn in spiritual regions, its dwelling place
on earth undergoes a change. But this change is connected with the great
changes in the universe, with changes in the constellation of the earth,
sun and so forth. These are changes in which certain repetitions take
place, in connection with new conditions. They find an external expression
in the fact, for example, that the point in the vault of heaven at which
the sun rises at the beginning of spring makes a complete circuit in the
course of about twenty-six thousand years. Hence this vernal point, in the
course of the period mentioned, moves from one region of the heavens to
another. In the course of the twelfth part of that time, that is to say,
in about twenty-one hundred years, conditions on the earth have changed
sufficiently for the human soul to experience something new upon it since
its previous incarnation. However, since the experiences of an individual
vary according to whether he is incarnated as a woman or as a man, there
are, as a rule, two incarnations within the time stated, one as a man and
one as a woman. But these things are also dependent upon the nature of the
forces which man carries with him from his earthly existence through
death. Therefore all the statements given here are to be taken only in a
general sense, but can be subject to the greatest variations in special

The Course Of Human Life

Man’s life, as it manifests itself in the sequence of events between birth
and death, can be fully understood only by taking into account both the
physical body with its senses and the changes undergone by man’s
supersensible principles. Occult science views those changes in the
following manner. Physical birth is seen to be the detachment of the human
being from its maternal covering. Forces which before birth the embryo
shared in common with its mother’s body, are present independently in the
child after birth. But in later life supersensible events, similar to
those of the sense-world at physical birth, become perceptible to
supersensible observation. That is, the etheric body of the human being up
to the change of teeth (the sixth or seventh year) is still enveloped in
an etheric sheath. The etheric sheath falls away at that period, and then
the “birth” of the etheric body occurs. But man is still surrounded by an
astral sheath, which falls away between its twelfth and sixteenth year (at
the time of puberty). This is the “birth” of the astral body; and at a
still later period the real ego is born.(33)

Now after the birth of the ego, man lives in such a way that he adapts
himself to the conditions of the world and of life, and occupies himself
within them, in accordance with the principles active through his ego,—the
sentient,- the intellectual- and the consciousness-soul. Then there comes
a time in which the etheric body retraces the process of its development
from the seventh year onward, in reverse order. At first the astral body
has so developed itself that it unfolds that which was present within it
at birth as a germ. After the birth of the ego, this astral body enriches
itself by experiencing the outer world. Finally, at a definite time, it
begins to nourish itself spiritually by consuming its own etheric body; it
actually lives upon the etheric body. The decay of the physical body in
old age is a consequence of this.

The course of human life therefore falls into three divisions: a time of
unfoldment for the physical and etheric bodies, then one in which the
astral body and the ego develop, and lastly that in which the etheric and
physical bodies are changed back again. But the astral body plays a part
in all the events that take place between birth and death. Since it is
really born in a spiritual sense only between the twelfth and sixteenth
years and must, during man’s declining years, draw upon the forces of the
etheric and physical bodies, that which it is able to perform by its own
powers will develop more slowly than if it were not within a physical and
an etheric body. After death, when the physical and etheric bodies have
fallen away, evolution, during the time of purification, proceeds in such
a manner that it occupies about one-third of the duration of life between
birth and death.

The Higher Regions Of The Spiritual World

By imagination, inspiration, and intuition, supersensible cognition
gradually ascends into those regions of the spiritual world within which
it can reach the beings who have to do with human and cosmic evolution.
And thus it also becomes possible to trace human evolution between death
and a new birth in such a way that it becomes comprehensible. Now there
are still higher regions of existence, which can only be briefly indicated
here. When supersensible cognition has risen to intuition, it lives in a
world of spiritual beings. These too, are evolving. That which concerns
humanity of the present day extends upward, in a certain sense, as far as
the world of intuition. True, man receives impulses from yet higher worlds
in the course of his evolution between death and re-birth. But he does not
experience these impulses directly; they are brought to him by beings
belonging to the spiritual world. And if these are considered, everything
that happens reveals itself to man. But the special conditions of these
beings, that which they themselves require in order to guide human
evolution, can only be observed by means of a cognition that transcends
intuition. We thus have a glimpse of worlds which we must so picture that
within them the most highly spiritual features of the earth are there
among the lowest. Logical decisions, for example, count among the highest
things within the earthly sphere; while the activities of the mineral
kingdom are among the lowest. Now in those higher spheres, logical
decisions correspond to about what the mineral activities are on earth.
Above the domain of intuition, lies the region in which the cosmic plan is
woven out of spiritual causes.

The Principles Of Man

When it is said that the ego works on the human principles, on the
physical, etheric, and astral bodies, and transforms them in reverse order
into Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, and Spirit-Man, this statement relates to
the work of the ego on the human being by means of the highest faculties,
the development of which was begun only under earthly conditions. But this
transformation is preceded at a lower level by another change, giving rise
to the sentient-, the intellectual- or rational-, and the
consciousness-soul. For while, in the course of human evolution, the
sentient-soul is being formed, changes are taking place in the astral
body; the growth of the intellectual-soul expresses itself in
transformations in the etheric body; and that of the consciousness-soul in
similar transformations in the physical body. Fuller information on this
subject has been given in this book in the accounts of the evolution of
the earth. Thus in a certain sense we may say that the sentient-soul
itself is the result of a transformed astral body, the intellectual- or
rational-soul of a transformed etheric body, and the consciousness-soul of
a transformed physical body. But we may also say that these three
divisions of the soul are parts of the astral body; for example, the
consciousness-soul is only possible because it is an astral entity
existing in a physical body suited to it. It lives an astral life within a
physical body fashioned to be its dwelling place.

The Dream State

A description of the dream state has been given in another chapter of this
book. On the one hand it is to be regarded as a relic of the old
picture-consciousness peculiar to man during the Moon evolution, and also
during a great part of the evolution of the Earth. Evolution goes forward
in such a way that earlier conditions resolve themselves into later ones.
And so, in the dream state, there now appears in man a relic of what was
once his normal condition. But at the same time this condition from
another aspect is different from the old picture-consciousness. For since
its development, the ego also has taken part in those activities of the
astral body which are carried on during sleep in the dream life. Thus
through the presence of the ego there arises in dreams a transformed
picture-consciousness. But since the ego does not consciously exercise its
authority over the astral body during dream life, nothing belonging to the
sphere of that life can be regarded as being really able to lead to a
knowledge of higher worlds in an occult sense. Something similar holds
good with regard to what is often called vision, premonition, or “second
sight.” These arise through silencing the ego and the consequent
appearance of remnants of the old condition of consciousness. In spiritual
science these are of no value. What may be observed in them cannot in any
real sense be regarded as a result of it.

The Attainment Of Supersensible Knowledge

The path to the attainment of knowledge of the higher worlds, which has
been more fully described in this book, may also be called the “direct
path of knowledge.” In addition to this path there is another, which we
may designate as the “path of feeling.” It would be quite a mistake,
however, to believe that the former had nothing to do with the development
of feeling. On the contrary, it leads to the greatest possible deepening
of the life of feeling. But the “path of feeling” addresses itself
directly and solely to the feelings, and seeks from this point to rise to
knowledge. It rests on the fact that when the soul entirely surrenders
itself to a feeling for a certain length of time, the latter is
transformed into knowledge, into imaginative perception. When, for
example, the soul is filled for weeks or months, or even longer, with the
feeling of humility, the content of the feeling becomes transformed into a
perception. Now a path leading to supersensible regions may be found by
devoting oneself to such feelings one by one; but for the man of today,
bound by the ordinary circumstances of life, this is not easily carried
out. Solitude, retirement from the life of the present day, is almost
indispensable. For the impressions of everyday life disturb the soul
especially at the beginning of development, through absorption in certain
feelings. On the other hand, the path of knowledge described in this book
can be pursued in every situation of present-day life.

Observation Of Special Events And Beings In The Spiritual World

The question may be asked whether inner concentration and the other means
described for the attainment of supersensible cognition permit us to
observe only in a general way what happens between death and a new birth
or other spiritual events; or whether they furnish the possibility of
observing quite definite events and beings, as, for example, any given
deceased person. To this we must answer that one who has acquired the
ability to see in the spiritual world by the methods explained, can also
perceive particular events which occur there; he acquires the power of
putting himself in communication with individuals living in the spiritual
world between death and a new birth. It must be observed, however, that in
an occult sense this ought to take place only after the proper training
required for supersensible cognition has been undergone. For not until
then is it possible to distinguish between illusion and reality, in regard
to certain events and beings. A man who tries to observe particular cases
without due instruction, may fall a victim to innumerable deceptions. The
training which leads to the observation in higher worlds of what has been
described in this book, also leads to the ability to trace the post-mortem
life of any special individual, and no less does it lead to the
observation and comprehension of all psycho-spiritual beings who, from the
hidden worlds, work upon the visible ones. Correct observation of
individual cases is only possible, however, on the basis of a knowledge of
the universal great facts of the spiritual world,—facts regarding the
world and humanity which concern every human being. The desire for the one
without the other, leads one into error.


    1 We may also say, it could only live the life of a plant in the
      physical body.

    2 Explanations such as those given in this book regarding the faculty
      of memory may very easily be misunderstood. For one who observes
      external events only would not at first sight notice the difference
      between what happens in the animal, or even in the plant, when
      something appears in them resembling memory, and what is here
      characterized as actual recollection in man. Of course, when an
      animal has performed an action for a third or fourth time it may
      perform it in such a way that the outer process gives the impression
      that memory and the training associated with it are present. Nay, we
      may even extend our conception of memory or of recollection as far
      as some naturalists and their disciples, when they point out that
      the chicken begins to pick up grain as soon as it comes out of the
      shell; that it even knows the proper movements of head and body for
      gaining its end. It could not have learned this in the eggshell;
      hence it must have done so through the thousands and thousands of
      creatures from which it is descended (so says Hering, for example).
      We may call the phenomenon before us something resembling memory,
      but we shall never arrive at a real comprehension of human nature if
      we do not take into account that every distinctive element which
      shows itself in the human being as an inner process, as an actual
      perception of earlier experiences at a later date, is not merely the
      working of earlier conditions in later ones. In this book it is this
      perception of what is past that is called memory, not alone the
      reappearance (even though transformed) of what once existed, in a
      later form. Were we to use the word memory for the corresponding
      processes in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, we should be
      required to use a different word in speaking of man. In the
      description given here the important thing is not the particular
      word used, but rather that in attempting to understand human beings
      this distinction should be recognized. Just as little do the
      apparently very intelligent actions of animals have any relation to
      what is _here_ called memory.

    3 The term “Verstandesseele” is sometimes translated by “rational
      soul.” From a certain point of view one might prefer the term
      “intellectual soul,” because it expresses better the activity of the
      soul than does “rational soul.” In the latter one thinks of the
      knowledge about a perception; in intellectuality, one thinks of the
      actual possibility of forming this knowledge through inward
      activity. In German the expression “emotional soul” only coincides
      as it should with the second member of the soul when the inward
      activity is kept in view.

    4 No hard and fast line can be drawn between the changes which are
      accomplished in the astral body through the activity of the ego and
      those taking place in the etheric body. The one merges into the
      other. When a man learns something, and thereby gains a certain
      capacity for judgment, a change takes place in his astral body; but
      when this judgment changes his natural disposition, so that he
      habituates himself to _feel_ differently, in consequence of his
      learning, from what he did before, this means a change in his
      etheric body. Everything that becomes so much a man’s own that he
      can always recall it, is based on the transformation of the etheric
      body. That which little by little becomes an abiding possession of
      the memory has its foundation in the transmission to the etheric
      body of the work of the astral body.

    5 As a matter of fact, it is always very profitable for any one who is
      taking up the study of occult science to acquaint himself with the
      statements of those who regard this science as merely fanciful. Such
      statements cannot be so easily branded as due to partiality on the
      part of the observer. Let occultists learn as much as possible from
      those who regard their efforts as nonsense. They need not be
      disturbed if in this respect their love is not reciprocated. Occult
      observation assuredly does not require such things for the
      verification of its results, nor are these allusions intended as
      proofs but as illustrations.

    6 In current theosophical literature, the condition of the ego from
      death to the end of purification is called “Kamaloca.”

    7 The assertion that a man’s personal talents, if governed purely by
      the law of “heredity,” must show themselves at the beginning of a
      line of descent, not at its end, might of course easily be
      misunderstood. It might be said, indeed, that they could not show
      themselves then, for they must first be developed. But this is no
      objection; for if we wish to prove that something has been inherited
      from an ancestor, we must show how that which was there formerly is
      repeated in a descendant. Now if it were demonstrated that something
      existed at the beginning of a genealogical line which reappeared in
      its further course, we might speak of heredity. We cannot do so when
      something appears at the end of it which was not there before. The
      reversal of the above proposition is only to show that the belief in
      heredity is impossible.

    8 In different chapters of this book it has been shown how the world
      of humanity, and man himself, pass, in their progressive evolution,
      through conditions which have been named Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth,
      Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. The relationship has also been indicated
      in which human evolution stands with regard to the celestial bodies
      which exist besides the earth and which are called saturn, jupiter,
      mars, and so on. These latter planets are also passing through their
      evolution in the natural way. At the present period they have
      reached such a stage that their physical portions are seen as those
      bodies which physical astronomy calls saturn, jupiter, mars, and so
      forth. Now when the saturn of the present day is observed by
      occultism it is seen to be, in a certain sense, a reincarnation of
      the old Saturn. It has come into existence because of the presence
      of certain beings, who before the separation of the sun from the
      earth were unable, like the others, to leave with the sun. The
      reason of this was that they had gained so many qualities which are
      suitable for a saturn existence, that their place could not be where
      the qualities of the sun were specially unfolded. The present
      jupiter, however, arose in consequence of the presence of beings
      possessed of qualities which can only be matured on the future
      jupiter of the whole evolution. A dwelling place appeared for them
      on which they can already begin in anticipation of this later

      In the same way mars is a planetary body on which dwell beings whose
      lunar evolution was such that further progress on the earth could
      bring them nothing. Mars is a reincarnation of the old Moon at a
      higher stage. The present mercury is the dwelling place of beings
      who are beyond the evolution of the earth; but this is just because
      they have developed certain qualities in a higher way than is
      possible on the earth itself. The present venus is a prophetic
      anticipation of the future Venus condition of a similar kind. It is
      consequently justifiable to give to the conditions preceding and
      following the Earth the names of their corresponding representatives
      in the universe.

    9 Therefore it is perhaps scarcely necessary to remark that what has
      been described above could never actually happen. A contemporary
      man, as he is, could not have approached ancient Saturn as a
      spectator. The account was given merely for the sake of

   10 In Christian spiritual science they bear the name of “Kyriotetes,”
      that is, “Dominions.”

   11 In Christian esoteric science they are called “Thrones.”

   12 The Christian “Dynamis,” or “Powers.”

   13 The Christian “Exusiai,” or “Authorities.”

   14 The Christian “Archai,” or “Principalities.”

   15 The Christian “Archangeloi,” or “Archangels.”

   16 The Christian “Seraphim.”

   17 The Christian “Angeloi,” or “Angels.”

   18 The Christian “Cherubim.”

   19 The gas appears to clairvoyant consciousness through the effect of
      light which emanates from it. We might therefore speak also of light
      forms, which are apparent to spiritual vision.

   20 In current theosophical literature they are called "rounds." Yet, if
      we bear in mind the more graphic description already given, we shall
      guard against a too schematic concept of such matters.

   21 In the next few pages, Sun and Moon are printed with capital letters
      when the _old_ evolutions are referred to, but are printed “sun” and
      “moon” when the Earth period is indicated.—_Translator_.

   22 Further particulars on this subject will be found in my book,
      _Atlantis and Lemuria_, which deals with man’s ancestors.

   23 More detailed information about these Mysteries of antiquity is to
      be found in my book, “Christianity as Mystical Fact.” More
      particulars will be given in the last chapter of the present work.

   24 What is to be said further on this subject will be given in a later
      chapter dealing with supersensible knowledge.

   25 All sagas concerning the twilight of the gods, and similar
      traditions, had their origin in this knowledge of the Mysteries in

   26 It is a matter of no moment whatever whether the above thoughts are
      warranted or not by any of the views held by natural science. For
      the object is to develop such thoughts about the plant and man as
      may—irrespective of all theories—be gained by means of simple and
      direct contemplation. Such thoughts are of importance side by side
      with no less significant theoretical presentments of things in the
      external world; and here the thoughts are not adduced in order to
      prove a fact scientifically, but to construct a symbol that shall
      prove effective, irrespective of whatever objections may be raised
      by this or that person against its construction.

   27 In my explanations of “How to attain Knowledge of the Higher
      Worlds,” translated under the title of _The Way of Initiation_ and
      beginning at Chapter II, several other examples of methods of
      meditation are given, and especially efficacious will be found one
      which deals with the coming into being and fading away of a plant;
      also another may be particularly recommended, based on the dormant
      formative power dwelling in the seed of a plant, and others on the
      form and structure of crystals, and other substances. But the
      purpose in this book was only to show in one instance, the nature of

   28 Special exercises going into greater detail on this subject may be
      found in my book entitled _The Way of Initiation_.

   29 It must of course be clearly understood that such an appellation as
      “lotus flower” has no more bearing on the matter than has the
      expression “wing,” if applied to the lobe of a lung.

   30 In my books, entitled “_The Way of Initiation_” and “_Initiation and
      Its Results_,” some of these methods of meditation and exercises for
      acting upon these different organs are set forth.

   31 The appellation “two-petalled” or “sixteen-petalled,” and so on, is
      used because the organs in question may be likened to flowers having
      a corresponding number of petals.

   32 Intuition is in everyday life a much-abused word, which is made to
      stand for a vague and uncertain view of a matter; for some sort of
      “notion,” which, while it may possibly “hit” the truth, can
      nevertheless give no immediate proof of it. It is needless to say
      that this kind of intuition is not meant here. Intuition, in this
      case, stands for knowledge of the highest and most luminous
      clearness, of the justification of which the possessor is, in the
      fullest sense, conscious.

   33 The suggestive points of view for the conduct of education resulting
      from a knowledge of these supersensible facts are presented in my
      little book, _The Education of Children from the Standpoint of
      Spiritual Science_, in which will be found fuller details of what
      can here only be hinted at.

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