Understanding Our Time (2)

©Terry Boardman

This article first appeared in New View magazine Issue 52, 3rd Quarter Summer 2009

The first of these two articles titled “Understanding Our Time” (New View Spring 2009) looked at three esoteric concepts that help us to shed light on what is going on at this stage in history. These three were: 1) the fulcrum point of Christ’s Incarnation in the macro-cosmic inhalation and exhalation of human and indeed all natural life on this planet and the mirroring effect on either side of that fulcrum point; 2) the 2160 year-long Zodiacal ages and the influences that work through 3) the 7 rotating archangelic regency periods, which last about 450-500 years.(1) This article will examine four other esoteric concepts of history which can also serve as lenses through which to view our era. These are: 1) axial years (the ‘mirror’ principle); 2) humanity’s crossing of the spiritual threshold in 1899/1900 and 3) the activities of spiritual counterforces in modern times 4) the ‘Etheric Christ Event’.

 In seeking to illustrate the consequences of the new spiritual impulse of the age of Michael since 1879 (2), Steiner remarked: “a certain law exists which states that evolution may be traced backward as well as forward from every point…It is as if the line of time reverses itself …, so that events belonging to a past time lie behind events that lie ahead of the time.” To illustrate this, Steiner showed how, around the axial year of 1879, the year the Age of Michael began, the events of 1917 (e.g. the Bolshevik Revolution), 38 years after 1879, were related in their ‘deep structure’ to those of 1841, 38 years before 1879. This is especially illuminating when one considers as axial years those of clearly special significance: “starting from an incisive historical event, you find the preceding spiritual event repeated in the subsequent one.(3)…We may say that today (Feb. 1918) the battle of the Archangel Michael against the counterstriving powers has to a certain degree returned to its starting point.” By this he meant that the struggle between Michael and his allies and those spiritual forces opposed to human progress, (a spiritual struggle that ended with the victory of the Michaelic forces in 1879), was reflected in the events of 1917. The victory of the Russian Bolsheviks in 1917 mirrored the opening of the struggle of the spiritual forces against Michael 76 years earlier.

Another fascinating illustration of this historical principle is to take as axial point the year 1413, (Steiner referred to this year as the beginning of the ‘Age of the Consciousness Soul‘ (4)) and compare, around that fulcrum, the two corresponding years 869 and 1957. The Frankish empire of Charlemagne had been divided in three between his grandsons in 843 – a proto-French kingdom, a proto-German kingdom and a cosmopolitan imperial state sandwiched between them – Lotharingia. In 869-70, a year of portentous spiritual events too complex to enter into here, the long narrow state of Lotharinigia (later called Lorraine) ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor Lothar, which extended from modern-day Holland south through Switzerland and almost as far as Rome, disappeared from the European scene when it was overrun from East and West by the forces of the two Carolingian kings Charles the Bald of the incipient France, and Louis the German, of the incipient Germany. Then one sees how in 1957 the Treaty of Rome put the seal on the efforts of European statesmen such as Jean Monnet, Robert Schumann and Konrad Adenauer to create a new united Europe on the basis of a conscious resurrection of Lotharingia. In the old Lotharingia were located those regions of 20th century France and Germany that produced the coal, iron and steel which the two countries used in their wars against each other and which Jean Monnet sought to use to bind France and Germany together so that their economic, war-making potential would thus become the nucleus of a united European state. From 1950-1992 Lotharingia and the Holy Roman Empire were in effect recreated by the Common Market, later the EEC, the EC and now the EU. It is fascinating to note that not only are the major sites of the modern EU project (Benelux, Brussels, Maastricht, Aachen, Strasbourg etc.) all located within the old Lotharingia, but also, that around the axial point of 1413, the year 1939, which was when World War Two broke out and also the year when Jean Monnet embarked on his path as architect of a European union (5), corresponds to 887, the year Charles the Fat was deposed and the rickety Carolingian Empire finally fell apart. Also, the year 800, when that empire had come into being with the coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III, around the same fulcrum point of 1413, corresponds to the year 2026. Thus not only does the epochal year 869 correspond to 1957, the year of the Treaty of Rome, but the whole period 1939-2026, the period of the emergence and consolidation of the EU, is a reflection of the first (Carolingian) Holy Roman Empire 800-887. Keeping in mind the mirror principle here, so that a beginning is reflected in an ending, rather as a second childhood in old age reflects the period of infancy, can we then expect that the year 2026, because it corresponds to 800, the year of the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire, may actually signify the end of the EU?

If we consider the current year 2009 from this viewpoint of axial years, we need to determine axis points for it. Various years suggest themselves as candidates for what Steiner called ‘incisive historical events’. An axis of 2001 would relate 2009 to 1993, Clinton’s first year as US President, his forging of the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), and of the first attack on the World Trade Centre. 1945 as axis would relate 2009 to 1881, the year of the assassinations of Czar Alexander II and US President James Garfield. 1933 as axis point relates 2009 to 1857, the year of the Indian Mutiny and the Second Opium War. With 1917 as axial year, 2009 relates to 1825, the year of the failed Russian Freemasons’ ‘Decembrist’ revolt(6). Finally, with 1413 as axial year, 2009 is related to 817. In that year Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son, issued the Ordinatio Imperii, which first determined that the empire would be divided between his three sons but a nominal unity maintained by their allegiance to one of them, the Holy Roman Emperor Lothar; this proved ultimately disastrous for the unity of the empire, which fell apart in the 880s. In the deep structure of time, 2009 may thus be said to be related to the years 817, 1825, 1857,1881, and 1993 on the other side of the incisive axial points: 1413, 1917, 1933, 1945, and 2001 respectively.


Humanity’s crossing of the spiritual threshold in 1899/1900

In 1909-1910 Rudolf Steiner began to speak about the Second Coming of Christ, which he insisted would not be in a physical body but purely in the invisible etheric (‘life‘) sphere – that realm where the forces of life exist; a ‘life‘ body to living organisms as distinct from a purely physical body. The most ‘physical’ form of this etheric or life sphere can perhaps be experienced in that which we today call the biosphere, the realm of water, air and light.The bible alludes to this in the expression ‘in the clouds’ (7). According to Steiner, this etheric region is the spiritual realm in which the angels are active. According to Steiner’s Christological teachings, the being we in the West call the Christ, and who St John calls the Word, the Divine Logos, accompanied humanity and the Earth on their descent through all the stages out of spiritual existence into gross materiality, ultimately incarnating in the man Jesus at the Baptism in the River Jordan. The very deepest descent for humanity into the material plane, the time when we were most separated from the beings of the spiritual world, ‘spiritually blind’, so to speak, occurred from c.3100 BC until 1899 AD, a period of some 5000 years (8). During this time of increasing spiritual darkness and equally increasing adeptness in material culture, the old natural clairvoyance faded away entirely for most people, remaining only with just a few (seers, clairvoyants, ‘wizards and witches’ etc) to the point where, in the very darkest period, from the spiritual viewpoint, c.1600-1900, atheism became the watchword of so-called progressive-minded people. But when those 5000 years were over in 1899, and 1866 years had passed since the Resurrection of Christ (9), 19 centuries after the birth of Jesus, the doors of (clairvoyant) perception once more slowly began to open, and the Age of Spiritual Darkess (known to the Hindus as Kali Yuga) (10) gave way to a new Age of Light. At first, of course, this was very dim indeed, and within 45 years of those doors reopening we had experienced two shattering world wars, but gradually, as Steiner from 1909 onwards foretold they would, more and more people have been having experiences of the spiritual world, especially of its lower aspects – the world of the elemental beings, of angels and of demonic beings of the lower astral world. This has steadily increased, especially since the mid-1960s, and will go on increasing until the doors are not just ajar but once again very much open and natural clairvoyance is again a normal occurrence. One of the main goals of anthroposophy, according to Steiner, is to help humanity understand this often confusing process.

It means that in a sense humanity is crossing a threshold into ‘normal’ intercourse with the spiritual world, which accounts for many of the apparently bizarre phenomena of recent times, everything from UFOs and so-called alien abductions to sight or awareness of angelic, demonic or other supernatural presences and spontaneous clairvoyance, clairaudience and recall of previous lives. This can be extremely unnerving or frightening if one has no concepts with which to cope with such experiences. The ruination of lives or even insanity and suicide can result, because the still mainly materialistic mindset that dominates academic thinking in our culture simply has no means of understanding the phenomena to which increasing numbers of people are becoming exposed. It dismisses them as fantasies, or seeks to explain away these phenomena by recourse to biochemistry and genetics or else propels people towards pharmaceutical ‘solutions’. In various works Steiner described how among the phenomena that occur when the threshold to the spiritual world is crossed, for example after death, is the separation of the three human soul forces of thinking, feeling and willing, which during normal life are bound together by the physical body. After death, these three continue in relation to each other but are freer and more independent; we do not experience them as solidly bound up with each other as we do during ‘normal life’. Since 1900, these three have been beginning to separate already during ‘normal life’ so that one or more of them often becomes dominant, and some individuals can then appear to contemporaries as very unbalanced, one-sidedly intellectual, emotional, or volitional. The appearance of such one-sided fanaticisms will become ever more common, and we shall see more and more examples of this threefold split within individuals, relationships and communities unless a holistic science of the spirit is actively developed in our time.

The spiritual counterforces that work against human progress are of course aware of these developments, just as in the New Testament, the first to recognise the new presence of the Christ in human society were actually the demons that Christ cast out of afflicted people.(11) These counterforces then redoubled their efforts to work against human development. Consequently, one can observe how such counterforces make use of this threefold separative development to aid their purposes. For example, we are currently wrestling with three great fears which have been imposed on us: fear of our fellow human beings – who around me is a terrorist? Fear of our natural environment – what water, food, or even air can I trust not to pollute and harm my body? Fear for our economic and financial system, which we have been encouraged to see as the ground of our physical existence – will I lose my job, my home, my pension? These three fears are all ultimately rooted in our thinking, in how we interpret reality, but they relate to three different areas, respectively: politics, culture (our scientific understanding or misunderstanding of the global warming debate, for example), and economy; or, to express these three in another way: human feeling, thinking and willing. Another example of this threefoldness is the ongoing effort to establish so-called ‘global governance’ (on the EU model) by means of three separate financial blocs and economic entities, the dollar-, euro- and formerly Japanese yen-, now Chinese yuan-, blocs, and the American, European and Asian continental trading entities associated with them. We can see many other examples of the same phenomenon of a threefold split: the Nike slogan “Just Do It!”, the current penchant for ‘emotional intelligence’ and charismatic religious sects, and the inclination to rely on IQ tests, statistical analysis and computer models in so many spheres.

Steiner advocated what he called ‘social threefolding’ as the way forward in these new circumstances in which humanity has crossed the threshold. By this he meant a social organism which consciously takes account of this spiritual fact. Since he died in 1925, we have had societies dominated by the philosophical ideology of so-called scientific socialism, by race and nationality and by economic self-interest devoid of altruistic ideals. He saw that in these new circumstances society must indeed be threefolded: the three realms of culture, politics and economy must be independent of each other so that they do not interfere with, frustrate or dominate each other as they so often do today when one of them – usually the economic impulse – seeks hegemony, but the three realms must nevertheless remain in organic relationship just as our three bodily systems (the nervous system, the circulatory system of blood and breathing, and the metabolic system) are separate but nevertheless cooperative. Our failure to recognise this truth since he first enunciated it back in 1917-1919, our failure to organise our modern societies in a manner that takes account of the new spiritual realities operative since 1900, has led to one disaster after another until we have finally been forced by our failings themselves in recent years to recognise the complete bankruptcy of our economic and political thinking, which accounts for the widespread sense at the present time both of dismay and of the need for something very different – new ways of organising our economic and political activities. This must begin, Steiner insisted, with the freeing of the cultural life, for example education, from political and economic influence and control – the freeing of thought. For upon free thinking, all political and economic, indeed all social activities, ultimately depend. Tribal party politics ruled by party whips and party lines, a politics infiltrated and corrupted by economic lobby interests – the time for these is long past. The more we hang onto them, the worse our social disasters will become.

The activities of spiritual counterforces in modern times

There are three spiritual counterforces ranged against humanity in our time, in which evil plays a key role in waking our sleepy selves up to our real spiritual nature as human beings. One of these counterforces, though still active, especially at the individual level, as distinct from the macro-historical level, has since the time of Christ very gradually been fading in historical significance. This we can call the stream of pride or spiritual inflation; in anthroposophy it is called the ‘luciferic’ stream, after the spiritual being who inspires it, who is given the name Lucifer. This being wishes to tempt human beings to dwell on and in only their own personal light, hence the meaning of his name Lux-i-fer – ‘light bearer’. Luciferic angels/demons seek to draw human beings away from earthly realities into an illusory world of their own. Artistic, religious, and mystical natures are especially prone to this temptation. But as humanity has plunged deeper into matter over the centuries and millennia, it has in general gradually proved less susceptible to Lucifer’s wiles. Instead, it has tended to fall for those of another and mightier being, known in anthroposophy as Ahriman, the inspirer of materialism, who would fetter mankind only to the world of the senses and gradually transform the Earth into a colossal machine entity such as we see represented in a film like The Matrix. The name Ahriman stems from the name of the old Middle Persian deity Angra Mainyu, (the Destructive Spirit), who was opposed by Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom). Scientific, intellectual, technical and rationalist natures tend to fall for ‘ahrimanic’ schemes and inspirations, which seek to weigh, count and measure all aspects of life with maximum efficiency and utility. Obviously, human beings need and develop both the arts and the sciences, aesthetic and technical thought, and as such, both Lucifer and Ahriman have their justified roles, but in that they are agents of imbalance, they draw human beings into one- sidedness.

During the slightly more than five millennia of spiritual darkness, according to Steiner, since the material Earth is the schooling place of humanity, into this material realm the three great ‘teachers’ – the two ‘principals’, or principles, of imbalance, Lucifer and Ahriman, and Christ the balance between them – appear in human form at three points in history: Lucifer in China c.3000 BC, Christ in Jesus in Palestine 2000 years ago, and Ahriman “in the West” (most likely North America) in the near future. Steiner therefore indicated there would be a human incarnation of the being Ahriman “before even a part of the third millennium AD has elapsed”(12) just as Lucifer had incarnated at the beginning of the third millennium BC. Ahriman’s aims in incarnating will be to enslave mankind in a web of technical ingenuity and brilliance that will ultimately seek through genetic and mechanical means (for example, by vaccines, technological diversions, implants, genetic engineering and various other technical means that we have yet to see) to cut human beings off from any real contact with the spiritual world. In this way, however, Ahriman actually serves humanity despite himself, for through resistance to his efforts, human beings are in fact awakening to the reality of the spirit.

We can observe the struggle between the two ‘principals’ of imbalance all around us in modern life, and on the whole, in our time, the ahrimanic usually appears at first to have the upper hand over the luciferic. In many places in the world we can see the ever advancing phalanx of western mechanical modernity with all its impersonal and uniform scientific and technological systems, often disguised by fine-sounding, but hollow and illusory, ‘luciferic’ labels (democracy, rule of law, human rights, universality) being resisted by sometimes fanatical, traditionalist anti-western cultural or religious forces which do not, however, hesitate to use the technological tools of the west whenever they can get access to them. We see the struggle between cold logic and hot passion, and we also recognise these forces within our own souls, for the spiritual imbalance of Lucifer and Ahriman is at work there too. We find the balance between these two both in ourselves and in the world insofar as we can find a relationship to the Spirit of Balance (Christ), which is also a Being. While it is vital to recognise the real nature of spiritual beings, the names we give them are ultimately unimportant. The word ‘Christ’ itself is merely a translation of Messiah, ‘the Anointed (One)’, whereas the Being we call Christ referred to Himself as ‘I am the I am’. If one finds the ‘I am the I am‘ as a still focus of peace within oneself, then while the world’s wheel spins around that calm hub, one cannot be seduced by Lucifer’s illusory dreams, or enslaved by Ahriman’s cold systems.

But these two are not the only counter forces      opposing the development of humanity. Steiner revealed how in more recent times, a third group of beings has emerged, much more radically ahrimanic. To this he gave the name ‘asuric’ (13).These beings strive not for the seduction or enslavement of the human individuality, but its annihilation. Lucifer inflates the feeling of self-worth; Ahriman deflates it and subsumes the individual within the group; the asuras by contrast completely annihilate any sense of human value. What Lucifer boils and Ahriman freezes, the asuras simply eradicate. Whereas Ahriman wishes “to kill in us the consciousness of our own spirituality”(14), the asuras simply wish to kill out all humanity in us. They inspire utter nihilism and dehumanisation. The systematic executions, gassing and working to death of Jews in World War II by Nazi extermination squads and concentration camp guards, or the Allies’ deliberate ‘terror bombing‘ of all German and Japanese cities over a certain size, were actions carried out according to a warped rationality: “if we do this, certain aims we consider necessary and beneficial for our community will be achieved” (e.g. ‘the cleansing of pollution’ from Europe, or ‘ending the war sooner’ and ‘saving Allied lives’). These were cold-hearted actions based on ‘rational calculations’, and as such, can be said to have been ahrimanically inspired actions. But other inhumane actions such as the Nanjing massacre of 1937, the My Lai massacre in 1968, the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and many others, were different in nature and bear an ‘asuric’ signature; they were actions that went completely out of control – just mass killings for the sake of killing by men taken over by a spirit of sheer bestiality. Other simpler acts can also be seen as such, for example, the casual murder by a group of British teenagers of a householder, Craig Wass, a father of four and a man they did not know, who had asked the noisy group to be quiet in his street at 11 pm earlier this year. Their response to this reasonable request by a gentle man outside his own home was to kill him with brick, golf club and wooden plank. Many mass killings of recent years have been of this mindless nature: Hungerford UK (1987), Dunblane UK (1996), Columbine High School US (1999), Virginia Tech US(2007), Erfurt Germany (2002), Albertville Germany (2009). In those mass slayings there was obviously a degree of premeditation, compared to the case of the killing of Craig Wass, but one can ask what must have inspired those mass killers to their deeds. Must it not have been an absence of their own mind and its replacement by something else? Ernst von Salomon, a fighter with the rightwing Freikorps in the Baltic region just after World War One, testified to an early appearance of this annihilatory spirit that would become increasingly common in the 20th century:

“We felt very definitely that that power which drove us was not actually our own being, but was the outflow of mysterious forces which pure intellect with all its methods could not possibly recognise… there burned within me the most extreme agony, the wild desire to shoot everywhere…I ran through the streets full of burning hatred, ready to murder the next person I met, myself and the world…Destroy, destroy…there were no more human beings, only caricatures. All human faces looked the same. Smash them in. Annihilate them, coldly, systematically. The earth no longer tolerates any devils. Blow to smithereens this rotten stinking mush which sprays out filth as high as the Moon. Wouldn’t the world be better off without human beings? We could not call for justice, because we never acknowledged justice to be a moral demand. From then on my special joy was in destruction. We lived dangerously, because the times were dangerous, and because the times were chaotic, everything which we thought or did or believed was chaotic. We were possessed by that time, possessed by its spirit of destruction, and possessed also by the pain which the destruction made fruitful.” (15)

One can readily perceive that this is a ‘mentality’ of radical evil which allows for any act of wickedness. The biomechanical nightmare visions of the Swiss artist H.R. Giger whose work ‘inspired’ the annihilatory forms in the movies Alien and Predator reveal something of these asuric depths to which our materialistic world view – and consequent blindness to spiritual realities – has brought us. It is an inner state of such isolation and alienation from all meaning that can only be overcome by spiritual consciousness which restores meaning and a sense of interdependence and relationship with all beings. This confrontation with radical evil in our time and the consequent need to find the path along which we can will to do the Good is one of the key hallmarks of our time.

There is one more spiritual force of evil, active in our time, which must be mentioned before we can consider the Christic power which will defeat all such forces. One often sees in old legends how the hero is accompanied by 3 attendants. This is a symbolic picture of the human self or spirit with its three soul forces of thinking, feeling and willing. As Lucifer seeks to tempt our feelings, Ahriman to enslave our thinking and the asuras to drive our will into annihilatory acts, there is yet a 4th force of evil which would turn our very spirit into its opposite, so that the potential sun force within us would become a black sun and we would become the tools of a black magic. In 1924, the year before his death, Steiner indicated that in the 1930s mankind would have to experience an encounter with what he called ‘the Beast from the Abyss’. By this he meant an encounter with that ‘beast’ referred to in the Apocalypse of St John (16), the two horned beast, which he identified with the counter-intelligence, or Double, of the Sun – the Sun-Demon. Just as we each have our own guardian angel, so do we also have our own double, or doppelganger. In like manner, as above so below, do the heavenly bodies have their own spirits and their own ‘doubles’, even the Sun. These facts have long been known among esotericists who have always connected the number 666 with this being. There have been crises associated with repetitions of the number 666, when the spiritual counter-Sun force of Sorath challenges the spirit of Man with the power of black magic. Thus we have had three such crises around the years 666, 1332 and 1998. Around the year 666 this took the form of the prodigious intellectual challenge posed by the academy of Gondishapur in Sassanian Persia. The wisdom being cultivated there would have accelerated human development beyond the point mankind could have safely handled at that time. The spiritual world, however, caused the Sorathic impulse of Gondishapur, to be blunted by the sudden explosion of Islam. The second Sorathic challenge came around 1332 and was associated by Steiner with the destruction of the Knights Templar by the French King Philip IV, who Steiner saw as inspired by the power of Sorath in the ruthlessness of his aims and methods which included the most brutal use of torture. His destruction of the Templars signified, amongst other things, the end of an ethical way of working with money in European culture and gave rise to the amorality of modern banking and trading practices as pioneered, for example, in Venice and Genoa, which were happy to do business with anyone as long as there was profit to be made. Another common feature that occurred at the time of the Sorathic attacks of the 7th and 14th centuries were the globally devastating pandemics of bubonic plague that broke out and killed millions worldwide. We are today still in the third Sorathic crisis period associated with 1998. This has a predominating economic character; 1997-8 saw the Asian and Russian economic crisis, the freedom from debt and anti-globalisation movements, but since 1998 we have been assailed by the three great fears mentioned earlier, especially the fear of economic collapse and all its consequences; the fears associated with global warming and peak oil are both linked to the overproduction and headlong economic activity that results from our self-centred economic capitalist philosophy, itself a consequence of the destruction of the ethical financial system of the Templars. As in the 7th and 14th centuries, now in the 21st, mankind is once again faced with a resonance, a prefiguring of the Apocalypse, which means the choice between the 2-horned beast and the Lamb, The Christ.

The Etheric Christ Event

Just as the change of teeth around 7 years and puberty around 14 years signify a new phase of development for the individual, so does the 21st year also bring new development as well as new challenges. Around 21 the individual leaves his family and takes responsibility for his own life. So today, we have been made fully aware that we are now fully responsible for the fate of our planetary body the Earth and for the destiny of all beings upon it, including our own species. Two great spiritual events – the crossing of the threshold in 1899/1900 and the encounter with the Beast of the Abyss in 1933, the latter an event which heralded Sorath’s third attack in 1998, some 66 years later – had to occur before the greatest event of them all could begin, also in the 1930s, namely, the onset of the Etheric Christ Event, known traditionally as The Second Coming (in the clouds), something which will go on for millennia to come. It was in 1909-10 that Steiner first began to mention this, and most specifically in January 1910. Now that the doors of clairvoyant perception were once again opening, he said, individuals would begin to have their own experiences, like Paul did on the road to Damascus when Jesus revealed himself to him in his spiritual form; an event which changed Paul’s whole perception (17); they too would directly perceive the Christ where He now is, in the etheric world the realm of the angels. 19 centuries (after His Resurrection, Christ began to be visible to human spiritual sight in that realm. We shall no longer need to be dependent on the Bible for knowledge of Christ, just as Paul did not need to have experienced the events of Golgotha. (18) He himself experienced a revelation of Christ in the etheric world, and so shall increasing numbers of human beings. Countless such stories have already been appearing since the 1930s, despite all the horrific diversions with which the forces of opposition seek to distract mankind from the Second Coming, everything from the Nuremberg rallies of the 1930s through world war and Cold War to the satanic drama of 11th Sept. 2001. Since the 1930s, human consciousness and concern has been turning ever more towards the biosphere, the physical substrate of the etheric world. We have witnessed a steadily growing care for that which is ‘green’, ecological, holistic and an awareness of the qualities of times, spaces and natural forms and beings, an awareness that is either of a more spiritual kind, such as perception of elemental beings in nature, or a more physically active concern to save animals and organic life from extinction or threat from thoughtless human activity.

In our time, Christ will not be revealing Himself to millions en masse, but rather will do so individually and often as a comforter to those in peril, sorrow or suffering. The new Christ revelation will pass from heart to heart and from soul to soul. Today one can find in books and on the Internet many such accounts of people who have met Christ in these ways. “When this power has permeated the soul, it drives away the soul’s darkness”(19). T.S. Eliot may have had a premonition of what was to come when he wrote in The Wasteland (1922):

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman –

But who is that on the other side of you?

Years before, in 1911 Steiner had said (20):

In only a few years from now it will happen, particularly to those who are young in years…they may become aware that suddenly someone has come near to help them, to make them alert to this or that. The truth is that Christ has come to them, although they believe that what they see is a physical man. They will come to realise however that this is a supersensible being because it immediately vanishes. Many a human being will have this experience when sitting silently in a room, heavy-hearted and oppressed, not knowing which way to turn. The door will open and the Etheric Christ will appear and speak words of consolation. The Christ will become a living comforter to men and women…We are now approaching these times.

The difficult thing for us to realise is the relation between this new personal Christ experience and the assault of the forces of evil in our time:

….by a strange paradox mankind is led to a renewed experience of the Mystery of Golgotha in the fifth epoch [1413-3573] through the forces of evil. Through the experience of evil it will be possible for the Christ to appear again, just as He appeared in the 4th post-Atlantean epoch through the experience of death. (21)

It is profoundly to be hoped that by the end of this 21st century the forces of opposition will not have succeeded in distracting mankind from the realisation that through the Being we call Christ mankind finds its balancing Ego – that higher aspect of our essential selfhood – Who dwells with us in the life forces of our planet as we dwell in Him. If enough human beings can find their free way to this realisation, not in an old religious sense but in the sense of individual experience and conviction, then in this century we can hope to achieve that balance of soul with which we can face the future with responsibility and confidence.


(1) For a modern scientific affirmation of archangelic periodicity, see Emil Páleš, http://www.sophia.sk/engv/starte.html and http://www.sophia.sk/engv/colloquium_introduction2.htm

(2) The Age of Michael 1879 – c.2300. See The Archangel Michael – His Mission and Ours, Anthroposophic Press, 1994 lecture of 18 May, 1913. Since 1879, according to Steiner, Michael has been rising to the rank of Time Spirit, the rank traditionally known as Archai, one above that of the archangels.

(3) See n. 2.

(4) The Age of the Consciousness Soul 1413 – c.3573. According to the spiritual research of Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Age of the Consciousness Soul‘ refers to another development in the soul life of humanity which all human beings will gradually attain over many hundreds of years. It can be characterised, to some extent, as that impulse towards individualisation; people will become more aware of themselves as independent beings. The so-called ‘Age of Discovery‘ heralded this development; human beings began discovering more and more about the outer world around them, at the same time discovering more and more about who they were inwardly.

(5) In 1939 Monnet worked for Franco-British union and in 1943 in N.Africa, he conceived of his new ‘Lotharingia’ as the seedbed of a European economic union.

(6) An attempted military coup against the new Czar Nicholas I led by dissident army officers, most of whom were Freemasons. Its failure led to decades of conservative repression by the autocratic Nicholas.

(7) Acts 1: 9,11 – “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of the sight….this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (KJV) Matthew 24:30 – “And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (KJV)

(8) The number 5 is not without significance, as Steiner stated that 5 was the number of evil, that is, because it is the number of human choice between good and evil. We are now living in the Age of Pisces (1413-3573), also known as the 5th Post-Atlantean epoch. Our task in this epoch is to become fully conscious of ourselves as spiritual beings, hence the alternative name used in anthroposophy, the epoch of the Consciousness Soul.

(9) 1866 /33.33 = 55.9855r

(10) Kali Yuga is usually said in traditional Hindu sources to last for 432,0000 years, beginning on 23 February 3102 BC (Gregorian Calendar). Indian teachings are replete with vast numbers and huge scales, and in the writer’s view, this reflects a cultural propensity, rather than any universal objective truth, just as Japanese culture inclines towards brevity and minimalism. It is noteworthy, for instance, that almost all the key numbers relating to time and history in the Indian system reduce to the number 9, e.g. 4 + 3 + 2 = 9; 216,000: 2 + 1 + 6 = 9; 1,080,0000 : 1 + 8 = 9; 720,000: 7 + 2 = 9 etc, but there is also a Hindu tradition (in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana scripture) that states that within that period of 432,000 years, a shorter period of 10,000 years of enlightenment will occur 5000 years after the beginning of Kali Yuga in 3102 BC. It is possible that the Brahmin priests disguised their real knowledge of time cycles by their colossal numbers. Certainly, Steiner did not hold with an age of maximum spiritual darkness (Kali Yuga) of 432,000 years, but only of 5000 years.

(11) See for example Mark 5: 1-20

(12) 1.Nov. 1919 The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman (Anthroposophic Press, 1993)

(13) From the ancient Iranian Avestan word Ahura, meaning orginally ‘lord’. A shift occurred in ancioent times in Indian and Persian religious nomenclature. What were once regarded as holy in India, the devas, became seen in Iran as evil – the daevas, and those regarded in Iran as holy, the asuras or ahuras, came to be seen in India as devilish – the asuras.

(14) 9. Oct. 1918 Collected Works GA 182

(15) Ernst von Salomon, Die Geächteten (The Outcasts)1930.

(16) Apocalypse, ch.13

(17) Acts, ch.9

(18) Steiner always referred to the Crucifixion and Resurrection as ‘the Mystery of Golgotha’. Golgotha means’ the place of the skull’, so the reference is thus to ‘the Mystery of the (place of the )Skull’.

(19) R. Steiner, lecture of 27.Jan. 1910, Collected Works GA 118

(20) R. Steiner, lecture of 1 Oct. 1911, Collected Works GA 130

(21) R.Steiner, lecture of 25 Oct. 1918, Collected Works GA 185

©Terry Boardman 2009

This page was first uploaded 5th July 2009 Last updated 16.7.2012