The ‘Abolition’ of the Spirit: The Enigma of Canon XI – The Year 869 & Its Significance in the Destiny of Europe

This article first appeared in New View magazine Second Quarter Spring 2008

At the Christmas Conference for the refounding of the Anthroposophical Society Dec. 24th 1923 – 1st Jan. 1924 , Rudolf Steiner restored to western culture something that had been lost for nearly 1100 years, namely, the threefold image of Man – once known as the Trichotomy – the image of Man as consisting of body, soul and spirit. This had been missing since the year 869, when it was deviously  ‘abolished’ by fiat of a Church Council. In the years 1916-1924 Steiner laid ever greater emphasis on the historical significance of the 8th Ecumenical Council of Constantinople 869 (1), which is usually completely ignored in conventional histories, and which, he often said, had “abolished the human spirit”. By that he meant the Council had denied the separate existence in each individual of a spiritual soul through which the individual could seek communion with the spiritual world; instead, the individual was to depend on the Church and its hierarchy for guidance. The 11th Canon (ruling) of the Council closed off for westerners the individual’s path to the spiritual world, which remained open in Asia through meditation and other spiritual practices.

The Council of 869

What was the real significance of the year 869, and what was the context in which  the Council took place? There is not the space here to go into the momentous events happening in the spiritual world at that time, which Rudolf Steiner describes in considerable detail in various places; we shall restrict ourselves to the earthly plane.(2) On the surface, the 8th Ecumenical Council (869-870) (3) had one overriding purpose – the joint effort by the Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867-886) and the Roman Pope Adrian II (867-872; also known as Hadrian II), for very different reasons, to discredit and seal the overthrow of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Photios, which is why it is sometimes known as the anti-Photian Council. Basil ‘s reasons were short-term and political; having come to power in a coup he needed to unify the empire behind him; he also needed western aid in defeating the Saracens and wanted to out-manoeuvre Rome in controlling Bulgaria – but carefully. The stridently anti-Roman Photios was an obstacle to Basil ‘s aims.  For his part, Adrian sought to establish papal precedence over the patriarchs of the East and also to impose Rome ‘s spiritual suzerainty over the Slavic peoples and the peoples of the Balkans. Like Adrian ‘s predecessor Pope Nicholas I (‘the Great’, 858-867), Patriarch Photios was keen to evangelise the Bulgars, Slavs and the Varangian Rus (Russians) Patriarch Photios, and disagreed strongly with Rome on various theological issues such as the understanding of the Trinity. He and Nicholas were the two greatest leaders their respective churches produced in the 9th century, and their wills crossed mightily. In 867 Photios even excommunicated Nicholas , who had, however, died beforehand. For Rome, then, the struggle against was above all a matter of establishing the  spiritual authority of the Latin West over Constantinople and the Eastern Church and of having its authority recognised too among the peoples of eastern Europe.

The 8th Ecumenical Council met in ten sessions 5th Oct. 869 – 28th Feb. 870 in Constantinople’s greatest imperial church, that of Hagia Sophia (the Holy Spirit). At the first session there were, unusually, only 30 clerics present from both Empires of East and West; by the last session the number had risen to 103, still not great by previous standards of such meetings. In order to attend, all were required to sign beforehand an extraordinary document, the libellus satisfactionis, an oath of obedience recognising the primacy of the Pope in Rome , for this was a Council utterly dominated by the Latin Church, imposing its will on the East. The proceedings were overseen by a Roman Cardinal and directed by three papal legates who had brought from Rome the documents agreed on at a synod there in the summer and which they intended to have the eastern clergy at Constantinople simply approve. The documents brought from Rome consisted of a long Definition text and 27 Canons. All the canons the others deal for the most part with matters of church administration, except for the short Canon 11 which relates to a matter of dogmatic theology. Sandwiched, like the devil in the detail, between two other innocuous Canons, it anathematises the doctrine of “the two souls”, and even that phrase is mentioned only once. The complete text reads:

Though the old and new Testament teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul, and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means using a wisdom that has been made foolishness. Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed. Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety. If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians. (4)

This Canon was not at all discussed by the Council; it simply went through ‘on the nod’. Why was it inserted at all? It has often been implied that this was aimed at Photios who was allegedly teaching this doctrine, but in fact, there is no real evidence that he did. He denied pre-existence and reincarnation, but did in  one place distinguish between a higher spiritual soul and a lower animal soul (5) Apart from this, his writings show no other sign nor is he know in the Orthodox tradition for being a particular firm representative of the two souls doctrine. However, he was very much interested in the question of the Holy Spirit, and between 860 and 869 he did strongly advocate the cult of the Virgin Mary, which in the East was always somehow connected with the feminine Sophia being in the Old Testament sense of the feminine divine wisdom (ruach – spirit, wind, breath)(6). Also, in 868 the two great Orthodox missionaries Cyril and Methodius, who had been sent out on their missions into the Balkans and beyond by Photios arrived in Rome, where they were treated well by Pope Adrian and Anastasius but where Cyril died (14 Feb. 869). Significantly, Photios is not mentioned in the Canon as having actually taught the two souls doctrine, though the six other Canons that  criticise him do not fail to take him specifically to task on other matters. Canon 11 seems to have been “slipped in”. It seems not to belong to the whole when read in context. This is but the beginning of the mystery. For it is the source of Steiner ‘s contention that precisely here, in this Canon XI, the Church “abolished the spirit”, and moreover, in Christendom’s great church of the Holy Spirit. (left)

The teaching of the two souls can be traced back to the threefold picture of the human being shared by the Greeks – the Trichotomy. Aristotle spoke of pneuma (spirit) psyche (soul), and soma (body). This idea, the reflection of ancient wisdom and real insight is also reflected in the teachings of St. Paul ; in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for example, he speaks clearly of pneumatikos anthropos (spirit man), psychikos anthropos (soul man), and somatikos anthropos (bodily man). By the 4th century, however, this threefold picture of Man was beginning to crumble as merely rational intellectualism developed and spiritual insight declined. Human beings were beginning to feel that they had their own ideas, instead of experiencing divine beings thinking in them or through them as with the Greeks and earlier cultures, but greater intellectual development meant confusion and disputation as each insisted on his own understanding. The threefold nature of the spiritual world, and especially the Holy Spirit in man and world was no longer understood, especially in the West.

There were however, Gnostics  in the East who maintained that Man had two souls, a higher spiritual one that lived in the light of spiritual reason and a lower one that responded to the needs of the body. Ultimately, this doctrine of the two souls was the last remnants of the knowledge that the individual human being has his own spirit (the higher ‘soul’), a spirit that in its essential being is not the same as the soul. In an effort to rid themselves of these troublesome Gnostic views, the Church Fathers had in 382 at the Synod of Rome pronounced the anathema on the views of Apollinaris of Laodicea, who had declared that there was never human consciousness in Jesus . “There are no two Sons,” he declared, “such as God’s Son of Nature, that is, of God, and a Son of Grace,  the human being from Mary .” After the 4th century, and particularly in the West, real understanding of what had happened at the Baptism in the Jordan (Epiphany) faded away, so that Roman clerics in the 9th century could misuse a decision made in Rome in the 4th century, ignore the context in which it was made (i.e. understanding of the Baptism), and twist Apollinaris’ denial of the human nature of Jesus into a denial of the spiritual nature of Man. This amounts to the one sin which Christ said would never be forgiven, the sin against the Holy Spirit.(7)

The way this was done in 869 was so devious that it was hardly perceived   any longer by most clergy as the new dogma slipped in over the ensuing decades and centuries under the threshold of consciousness. At only one other Council did the dogma of the single soul and of a dichotomous human nature (body and soul only) raise its head; this was the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) that condemned the Order of the Knights Templar. The 11th Canon in 870  thus signified the anathematisation of the individual’s equivalent experience of the    the Whitsun experience, the second baptism though the fire of the Holy Spirit through union with one’s own spirit being; western individuals were not to be allowed this experience. “The spirit was not spoken against in 869-70; it was simply no longer mentioned.”(8)

 Despite their claims that they were returning to the ways of the early Church,  Protestant Reformers too rejected the idea of the Trichotomy  (body, soul, and spirit) because they held that it implied a division of the unity of the soul, and that further, it implied that the Holy Spirit, which they believed was only of Father and Son, was also accessible to the human being. The famous Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) wrote:  

    “One can therefore not describe him [the human being] as spirit, because spirit in the biblical sense denotes that which God is and does for Man, and also because, in the biblical sense Man is identical with the soul (of his body)…. The spirit is immortal, which is precisely why it cannot be identical either with Man or with a part of the human being. The spirit is the fundament, that which determines the boundary of the entire human being; in this sense it is of its own nature and is really no third element within the human being, no further element of its nature that enters into the soul and body.”(9)

The consequences of the 11th Canon continued on after the Reformation to affect the whole development of modern European culture. The Protestants were unaware of the fact that they were upholding a 9th century papal dogma.

And so there developed on the protestant side a materialistic natural science and an unspiritual philosophy. Later philosophers…do not suspect that they are in fact good Catholics insofar as they always study the body on the one hand and the soul on the other and are of the opinion that such studies are based on real observation. They have no idea that they are following the dogma of the 8th Ecumenical Council when they do not speak of spirit. ….Almost all psychological doctrines are built upon the error of the twofold division of the human being…. One speaks of the fundamental problems of physical psychology or of psychophysical parallelism, but has in fact lost sight not only of the spirit, but also of the soul. The tendency of our times is increasingly towards abolition of the soul also. (10)

It is not the case that Pope Nicholas or his Counsellor Anastasius were behind ‘the abolition of the spirit’. Here we come to another, more sinister aspect of the  matter. Pope Nicholas died in 867 and was followed by Pope Adrian II , a much weaker man. Rome and Central Italy were turbulent places to be in those days. The descendents of the Lombard tribal leaders were developing into early mediaeval aristocratic familes, some of them extremely unscrupulous,  vicious and violent. They allied themselves with corrupt and decadent members of the Church hierarchy, three of whom were the Papal legates who would be sent to Constantinople in 869. In the autumn of 868 these forces persuaded the Pope to put Anastasius on trial on trumped up charges; he was stripped of all his offices and forced into exile. He fled to the court of the Frankish Emperor Louis II , who made him the tutor of his daughter. Anastasius attended the last session of the 8th Council in February 870 as the Emperor’s emissary; he was there on a mission to arrange a marriage between Louis ‘ daughter and the son of the Byzantine Emperor (it fell through). It was only because of Anastasius’ foresight in having a copy of the complete record of the Council made that we know what happened there. Meanwhile, when Anastasius had been out of Rome , from autumn 868 to autumn 869, Pope Adrian had been under the influence of the corrupt nobles and clergy. It was from among this circle, a circle in which, according to Rudolf Steiner black arts were used,  that someone – it is still not known who – produced the documents that included Canon XI. They appeared at the Roman synod in the summer of 869 and were then taken to Constantinople by the three legates Deacon Marinus , and Bishops Donatus and Stephanus. Marinus would later become Pope as a result of the murder of Pope John VIII in 882, after which the Vatican fell into utter decadence until the 960s. Canon XI then, which “abolished” the individual spirit, emerged in a devious way from an unknown source. This was a time in Church history when clever and unscrupulous men were beginning to use forged ‘ancient’ documents alleged to be from the early Church to prove their right to this or that. The most infamous of these, the so-called Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, had surfaced by the early 850s, so that, if indeed Canon XI was inspired by the example of the Roman Synod of 382, there was already a precedent for such deception. Certainly, the false Decretals were soon appealed to in Rome ‘s battle against Photios.  

We can note in passing the mysterious fact that the numbers 8 + 6 + 9 add up to 23, which contains both the number of duality and trinity within it.(11) Also, the process of estrangement that was so accelerated in 869-70 by the disagreement with Photios culminated in 1054 with the Great Schism of the two churches of East and West, which even now is not yet  healed. Mysterious too in this context is the arithmetical fact that 869 + 1054 = 1923, the year of the existential crisis and resurrection of the Anthroposophical Society, when at the Christmas Conference in December, Rudolf Steiner restored to western culture the Trichotomy, the threefold image of Man, thus signifying that the time to begin to roll back the heavy iron curtain of 869 that had closed off the spirit  had now arrived.

Helmuth von Moltke

Before he laid the Foundation Stone of the refounded Anthroposophical Society on that morning of 25th December 1923 Rudolf Steiner declared to those present: “Let the first words to resound through this room today be those which sum up the essence of what may stand before your souls as the most important findings of recent years.” By those “most important findings” he surely meant the elaboration of the threefold picture of man that he had developed in works such as Riddles of the Soul (1917) that he had been working on through the war years. And during that time he had been connected with a very special individual. Unlike New Age gurus of that time or this, Steiner did not indulge in channelling communications from those who had crossed the threshold of death. He always emphasised consciousness and consistently warned against trance states or anything that reduced the human state of wakefulness. However, there was one very special individual whose post-mortem thoughts he did, through his own spiritual  capacities, communicate and those only to the deceased person’s wife. The individual in question happened to be the man who had had supreme responsibility for the German army at the outbreak of the war in August 1914 – Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Helmuth von Moltke. He had been responsible for the campaign of August-September 1914 that had failed to win the  much hoped-for quick and decisive victory for Germany.

Rudolf Steiner saw in Helmuth von Moltke the reincarnation of Pope Nicholas I. (12) In both lives, in positions of terrible responsibility in the middle of a Europe in great crisis, this individuality was faced with keeping at bay both East and West and with preserving a central cultural space that could be of service to humanity in the future. Nicholas  and his close adviser Anastasius Bibliothecarius faced a strong spiritual challenge from Photios and the church of Orthodox Christianity in the East, and more physical challenges from marauding, anti-Christian Vikings in the northwest and Saracens in the southwest (Spain, Sicily). He also had to combat the egotistical and anarchic  tendencies  of the nominally Christian Frankish leaders of the territories of the West and those self-seeking clergymen who supported them and were supported by them. Within this still superficially Christian society of the Franks there was yet much that was pagan and it included an esotericism  that was related to the ancient cults of the Druids and the nordic initiations of the individual will as well as being  inwardly open both to Celtic influences from Ireland, all of which, infused by the southern culture of Provence, would in later centuries coalesce in the knightly cult of chivalry. But in the 9th century it was still far too wild and undisciplined. Nicholas and Anastasius were far-sighted men; they saw that they had to create a social and cultural space in Europe that would not be overwhelmed either by the will forces of the north-west or the mystical and ritualistic thinking of the south-east – a space of form, intellectually disciplined, that could hold its own against these two, more compulsive poles, a space in which eventually, individual and community could find their balance. Nicholas had very little at his disposal except the power of his formidable mind and will, and the advice of his counsellors, especially Anastasius Bibliothecarius . In addition to all these problems, in the vicinity of the Pope, threateningly, were dark and sinister forces in the corrupt clergy and the ambitious nobility of nearby Campania ; these forces sometimes resorted to the black arts.(13)

By contrast, Helmuth von Moltke commanded the most formidable army in Europe but was saddled with an almost impossible strategic task – war on two fronts against the two giant armies of Russia and France and the resources of the world’s largest empire, the British; he was also burdened with two rather useless allies, Austria-Hungary and Turkey . In his immediate environment von Moltke too had to deal with the chaotic will impulses of unscrupulous men, the Kaiser and those around him. Thomas Meyer ‘s book makes clear that a number of these men had also been incarnated in 9th century Italy , some of them in that degenerate Mystery stream. For an understanding of the complexities of von Moltke ‘s situation and his destiny,  Meyer ‘s book is a must-read. Suffice it to say here that what began for Europe and the West in the mid-9th century with Pope Nicholas I (and the decisions he took then for profound and historically justified reasons) came almost full circle in the lifetime of Helmuth von Moltke (1848-1916)  (right). Rudolf Steiner gave a memorial address soon after the General’s death on 18 June 1916 and also spoke verses which, in their threefold structure, prefigure in a seed-like way the Foundation Stone Meditation of 1923.(14) Steiner continued to mediate communications from the spiritual individuality of Helmuth von Moltke until he himself succumbed in September 1924 to the illness that would kill him six months later; the last such communication was on 17 June 1924, only three months before he fell ill. The fact that – as far as this author knows – there was no other contemporary individual with whom, after the person’s death, Rudolf Steiner had such an extraordinary relationship, points to the outstanding significance with which Steiner regarded Moltke, recognising in him someone whose own destiny was profoundly bound up with that of central Europe, the region in which Steiner was unfolding his own teaching. Helmuth von Moltke’s destiny was related to Rudolf Steiner’s own life task, which was to bring healing to western culture, and through it to the world as a whole, out of the cultural ground of Central Europe; for this to happen, Central Europe itself had to be defended and affirmed as a cultural space between the poles of East and West. Since the events of the 9th century, European culture had been riven – for reasons of historical necessity – by the consequences of a dualistic picture of Man that had resulted in Europe being pervaded by the materialistic worldview that had produced the catastrophe of the war through which Steiner and Moltke were both living. In addressing Moltke, Steiner knew he had before him the individuality who, as Pope Nicholas I had had the karmic task of separating off central and western Europe from the more direct spiritual influences of the East. This was so that the West would in fact be able to develop, through the application of rationality and intellect as well as its own culture’s forces of feeling and will, the skills of natural science and technology that are needed by mankind.

Lotharingia and Europe

One of the aids to historical understanding that Rudolf Steiner taught was what could be called the ‘principle of the axial year’. He described it this way:

    In the deeper structure of events as they proceed we may discover a repetition of what proceeded them…If we consider the year 1879 [as axis], we can proceed to 1880, or we can back to 1878. If we proceed to 1880, we shall observe in the deeper spiritual structure of that year that what has happened in 1878 is still active within it; behind the events of 1880 there stand as active forces the events of 1878…in starting from an incisive historical event, you will find the proceeding spiritual event repeated in the subsequent one.(15)

If we then take as axis the year 1413, the beginning of our modern epoch according to spiritual science (16), the events of 1412 will somehow be reflected in those of 1414. That means that we can expect some correlation between the events of the year 869 and those of the year 1957, as those two years are 544 years on either side of 1413. What happened in 1957? The signing of the Treaty of Rome! That was the beginning of the European Economic Community, today’s increasingly monolithic European Union. The process that led to the Treaty was initiated 7 years earlier by Jean Monnet (1888-1979)(left), the wily technocrat and consummate networker who was responsible for economic planning in two world wars and for post-war French economic reconstruction. During the war, in 1943 Monnet had drawn up a plan to unite Europe politically through the ‘back door’  – by economic means, the first step to be the combination of the coal and steel resources of eastern France and western Germany. He specifically referred to this plan as the ‘recreation of Lotharingia’.(17) This is remarkable because 869 was the year the kingdom of Lotharingia (Lorraine) disappeared. Charlemagne’s empire was divided between his three grandsons by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 (see illustration below); the Middle Kingdom, at first unnamed was from 855 onwards known as Lotharingia after its ruler, Charlemagne’s great-grandson Lothar II and existed for a further 13 years. It comprised a long swathe of lands  that included Holland and Belgium in the north, the Rhine valley, Luxemburg , Alsace , Switzerland and the whole of northern Italy as far as Rome . It thus included territory from all six countries of the EEC, founded in 1957, plus Switzerland. This middle realm between what would later become France and Germany disappeared in 869 when two of Charlemagne’s grandsons, Ludwig, king of Austrasia (later Germany), and his brother half-Charles the Bald, king of Neustria (later France) joined forces to invade the kingdom of their brother Lothar II after he died (8 Aug. 869), leaving an infant son whose legitimacy was in question. By the Treaty of Mersen (870) Charles and Ludwig divided Lothar’s lands north of Italy between them; northern Italy remained as a rump which soon broke up into squabbling princedoms and duchies. Geopolitical Trichotomy was thus reduced to a Dichotomy, one could say, and paralleled what happened theologically at the same time in Constantinople.(18) In 869, Lotharingia died, and in 1957, it was, in a sense, reborn.

1957 was also the last full year of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-58). Seven years earlier in 1950 – the same year as Monnet erected the European Coal and Steel Community that was modelled on his idea of a new Lotharingia -  Pius XII  had declared ex cathedra (i.e. the declaration was held to be infallible) the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary which stated that Mary, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” [my emphasis] This was the first such dogma based on papal infallibility since the dogma of papal infallibility itself was first declared at the Vatican I Council of 1870. The treaty of Rome came into force on Ist Jan. 1958; the new Pope, John XXIII, elected later that year, soon announced his intention to hold Vatican II, the second  Ecumenical Council of the Vatican; this far-reaching event took place 1962-65. Vatican I had been held 1869-1870, thus exactly 1000 years after the Constantinople Council of 869-70. In accordance with the above-mentioned axial year principle, 1869 corresponds to 957, the second year of the pontificate of Pope John XII (955-964). The first half of the 10th century was perhaps the most degenerate  period in the Vatican’s long history.(19) It was also a time of major significance in Central Europe in that Otto I, King of Germany  (936-973), who was married to Edith of Wessex, re-established the Holy Roman Empire (962) and brought the papal humiliation to an end. Of the motives of Emperor Otto in refounding the Empire in 962, historian Geoffrey Barraclough wrote:

    …it was not so much to Charlemagne that Otto looked back, as to Lothar I, who combined the imperial title  with rule over the Middle [Frankish] Kingdom [known as Lotharingia 855-870]…the imperial title was…important to Otto as the highest expression and legitimization of his right to rule not over Italy alone…but over all the territories of the old Middle Kingdom [Lotharingia] which had come into German hands…(20)

Otto I began the process that would bind the states of Germany with the Italian peninsula and for a thousand years, involve German-speaking Emperors in the affairs of Italy. The period that corresponds to his time and the Papacy of John XII around the axis of 1413 is 1859-70, when Germans and Italians separated from each other and formed their own nation states. 1870, the year papal infallibility was declared at Vatican I, 1000 years after the Council of 869-870, thus saw the birth of modern Germany and Italy under a historical star that was not exactly propitious. Then, Germany and Italy ‘joined together’ again on 1st Jan. 1958 when the Treaty of Rome came into force, the first year of the new Pope John XXIII, who created Vatican II. A key in understanding all this is the ‘Middle Kingdom’ of Lotharingia (Lorraine), the land, or perhaps we could say, ‘the concept of the middle’.   This territorial concept, which includes such places as Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Brussels, Aachen, Cologne, the Ruhr, Strasbourg, Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Marseilles, and in Italy, Milan, Venice and Rome, became the foundational basis for the European Economic Community. Following a conference in Sicily (21), the EEC was founded by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which corresponds to 869.

In 1922-23, when Rudolf Steiner was speaking about the need for a new, threefold social order in Europe based on the threefold picture of Man, Count  Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894-1972), (left) an aristocrat with family roots deep in Lotharingia, began a contrary movement; his 1923 manifesto Paneuropa advocated a United States of Europe rooted in Catholic spirituality and exclusive of both Britain and Russia. The honorary President of the  Paneuropa Union today is Otto von Habsburg, son of the last Habsburg Emperor. Coudenhove-Kalergi’s efforts gave birth to the Council of Europe, which since its founding in 1949, has concerned itself with the cultural and political direction of the emerging European superstate. Coudenhove’s goal of uniting Europe through traditional concepts of culture failed in face of the dominant economic drives of the post-war years, which were understood by the businessman and technocrat Jean Monnet. It was Monnet’s economic path to European union, via the reconstruction of Lotharingia, which supplanted Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Vatican-oriented initiatives in 1945-50. But what was common to both these two very different individuals was their strong personal links to Washington and the American elite. Without backing from that quarter, neither of them would have succeeded. As it is, aspects of the symbology of Coudenhove-Kalergi’s movement – the EU flag and anthem, for example and the European Parliament – have been grafted in an almost marxist superstructural sense onto the economic infrastructural machine generated by Monnet and his allies.  

In all the seemingly mundane historical developments considered in this article, one can discern something much more profound and spiritual working within the destiny of the West. It is the struggle for the image of the human being. The Vatican, which was responsible for the original ‘excommunication’ of the spirit, in 869-70, patiently and purposefully as ever, aims for a Europe that will be animated by but one soul – that of the Church, guided by its intellectual hierarchy. From the West come those anti-spiritual economic and scientific forces which would root out both soul and spirit and subjugate all social and cultural life to the drives of economics and genetics – a culture of body only. Neither of these forces belong to any truly human future, as they lead to the denial of human freedom; they are forces of dualism on the one hand and even what can be called materialistic monism on the other – forces which insist respectively, that the human being is either only of body and soul, or even of body only. Both of them claim that modern human beings can only be informed, guided and led by a priesthood, whether religious and overt, or scientific, financial and covert, and in this insistence on the impossibility of the individual human spirit finding its own way to freedom and truth, they both reflect the spectre of the 11th Canon of the Council of Constantinople in 869. Meanwhile, the image of the human Trichotomy, the trinitarian image of the human being as body, soul and spirit, described and articulated by Rudolf Steiner in 1923, is struggling to re-emerge in a modern form, and slowly but surely, is gaining ground.


(1) It is noteworthy that Steiner ‘s main philosophical work The Philosophy of Freedom was published in 1894, the same year as Otto Willmann’s History of Idealism. It was from Willmann’s book, one of the few to discuss the Council of 869 in any detail,  that Steiner grasped the significance of the Council. See R.Wagner, ‘Das achte ökumensiche Konzil von 869′ in H.H.Schöffler ed., Der Kampf um das Menschenbild (Verlag um Goetheanum, 1986)

(2) RS goes into the spiritual dimension in the eight volumes containing his lectures on Karmic Relationships (1924) especially Vols 3 & 4

(3) Also known as the Fourth Council of Constantinople

(4) Schöffler, pp.19-20.

(5) Markus Osterrieder, Verschweigen des Geistes (Silencing the Spirit) www.

(6) See n.5

(7) Matt. 12: 30-32

(8) See n.5

(9) See n.5

(10) Schöffler p.28

(11) This number contains a challenge: is the 2 before the 3 in the sense of primacy, superiority as in ?, the inverted pentagram? Or do we see the 3 following the 2 in time, the 2 giving way to the 3, the age of Dichotomy yielding to the New Age of Trinity?

(12) Thomas Meyer’s fascinating and illuminating book Light for the New Millennium – Rudolf Steiner’s Association with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke: Letters, Documents and After-Death Communications  (1993, English transl. 1997, Rudolf Steiner Press) reveals much of the remarkable pattern of destiny in the life of von Moltke.

(13) In these circles were   the historical antecedents of some of the darker characters in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, such as Klingsor. See W.J. Stein, The Ninth Century and the Holy Grail, (Temple Lodge Press, 1988)

(14) Meyer, pp. 164-171

(15) R. Steiner,  Lec.of 17 Feb 1918 The Archangel Michael – His Mission and Ours (Anthroposophic Press, 1994).

(16) ‘our modern epoch’ – also known in Anthroposophy as the 5th Post-Atlantean epoch, the 5th period of 2160 years since the end of Atlantis, or the age of the Consciousness Soul, when the third human soul element is to be developed – that which enables us to recognise ourselves as spiritual individuals who must apply their free thinking to distinguish between Good and Evil, or the Age of the Fishes (Pisces), the 2160 year-long  period when the Spring Equinox stands in the zodiacal sign of Pisces. N.b. there is a 1200 year interval between the cosmic astronomical phenomenon and its earthly reflection in human history. Thus the astronomical age of Pisces: 215-2375 AD, but the cultural age of Pisces = 1413-3573 AD. The 1200 year interval is ‘determined’ by the  movements of the cosmic pentagram formed around the Zodiac by the conjunctions of Venus and the Sun. For a more detailed but clear explanation of this, see R. Powell , Hermetic Astrology, Vol. 1(Hermetika, 1987), ch.3.

(17) See F. Duchêne, Jean Monnet – The First Statesman of Interdependence (W.W. Norton, 1994), pp.126-127.

(18) That border area between the east and west Franks has been a bone of contention in European history ever since, as the rulers of France continually sought to gain the whole length of the Rhine as the ‘natural’  French border, which naturally led them to seek to dominate the Low Countries.

(19) It was known as the ‘Pornocracy’ or Rule of Harlots because power was held by a series of strong but exceedingly degenerate female aristocrats connected with the House of Spoleto.

(20) G. Barraclough, The Origins of Modern Germany (Basil Blackwell, 1966) p.53

(21) Messina Conference, 1-3 June, 1955

©Terry Boardman 2008

This page was created 7th April 2008  Last updated 13.7.2012