The Spiritual Tasks Of Europe In The Coming Millennium


© Terry Boardman  Michaelmas 1997

It  seems to be a common fin-de-siecle phenomenon that thinkers try, Janus-like, to sum up the essence of the dying century, and on the basis of their judgments of it, to make prognostications about the nature of the coming century. Since we live in a global media culture where ideas can flash around the world in seconds and be imprinted on the consciousness of millions on the same day, it is important to be awake to whose ideas are being imprinted, what values they stem from, and how and why they have come to be presented. In this global media village it is all too easy for certain thinkers’ concepts to quickly freeze into ‘the received wisdom’ on a particular issue. In 1947 this was the case with George Kennan’s famous anonymous ‘X’ article (‘The Sources of Soviet Conduct’) which advocated a policy of containment of the USSR; this soon became US government policy. After 1989 the mediaworld was abuzz with Francis Fukuyama’s pseudo-Hegelian ‘End of History’ concept which celebrated the values of Anglo-American ‘liberal-democratic free-market capitalist society’; the following year George Bush was trumpeting the arrival of the New World Order, which was to be predicated on that same view of society. Both Kennan and Fukuyama were members of the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), the bipartisan thinktank which has determined the direction of US foreign policy for much of this century. And now since 1993, another Big Idea from a CFR man has caught the western media’s attention. In his seminal article “The Clash of Civilisations?” (Foreign Affairs Summer 1993), the arguments of which he amplified in his 1995 book (The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Shuster), the American academic and longtime key member of the East Coast Establishment Samuel P. Huntington (1) declared that in the 21st century, religious and cultural (what he called ‘civilisational’) affiliation would replace ideological differences as the defining parameter of international struggle. Huntington’s thesis has since underlain much in the presentation of current affairs in the western media. In this article I shall consider the spiritual task of Europe in the coming millenium in relation to Huntington’s assertions about the coming importance of religion and in the light of Rudolf Steiner’s statements about the 21st century.

As a member of an extremely powerful and influential intellectual nexus, Huntington is in a position to be able to read the signs of the times. From his vantage point as a spiritual scientist concerned with the spiritual evolution of humanity, Rudolf Steiner could also see the direction events were taking. His view and Huntington’s have some things in common but are also widely divergent in terms of fundamental assumptions. They are at one in considering that the spiritual-cultural dimension will assume an ever greater prominence in human affairs in the coming century. For Steiner this was because the post-Renaissance wave of materialism which had resulted in the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions and the ideological political and economic struggles that were their outcome, had run their course already by the late 19th century. The historical tide was turning, but mankind did not perceive it, and the various ‘isms’ that were the offspring of mater-realism plunged Europe and the world into the disasters of 20th century wars, both hot and cold.

Year of Destiny 1879: From Gabriel to Michael
Steiner’s spiritual research revealed to him that seven supersensible spiritual beings associated with different planetary influences, oversee periods of human history, each lasting about 350 years. Microorganisms live within our bodies and they can be affected by the consciousness that pervades it. As individual I live within the global information net spun by the world’s media and I can be affected by it. Similarly, mankind lives within the consciousness of these seven successive spiritual beings and is affected by them. From 1525 until 1879 the Being who was responsible for overseeing human history was an archangel, traditionally known as Gabriel, associated with the Moon (2). Gabriel’s role in his periods of office as ‘Time Regent’ is to bind Man closer to this earthly reality, to help Man form a deeper relationship to the Earth and incarnate further into it. In Gabriel’s periods of office Man tends to turn less towards spiritual realities and more towards the world of the senses. Between Columbus’ rediscovery of America in 1492 and Edison’s switching on of the first electric light bulb in 1879 in America, materialistic natural science came to dominate human thought to such an extent that God, the Devil and all the hierarchies of both heaven and hell came to be dismissed by modern intellectuals as mere childish superstition. Just as the ancient Indians believed that matter was maya, illusion, and only the spirit was real, now many westerners came to think exactly the opposite. This concentration on all things physical led paradoxically to the cancerous growth of intellectual poisons which worked destructively in society, such as racism, nationalism, sexism etc: “MY physical and blood type is superior to yours, yours has nothing in common with mine; you are subhuman and fit only for extermination or slavery.” Mater-realism produced a new kind of superstition which culminated in the fantasies of Nazi racial, and Communist social, ‘scientists’.

Esoteric knowledge had long predicted that in the year 1879 a new spiritual force would take over the Time Regency from Gabriel (3). This was Michael, Archangel of the Sun. Michael has the opposite task from Gabriel. It is to reconnect Man with the spiritual world, to reclaim human thinking, originally a gift from the spiritual world (as Plato and the Greek philosophers knew), and reorient it in a spiritual direction so that Man could recognise that behind all sense-perceptible phenomena and events was supersensible reality. Since 1879 scientific research into subatomic physics has been leading scientists into a recognition of this fact – the familiar world of the physical dissolves into a dance of rhythms and forces which many honest scientists admit they are at a loss to comprehend with physically-based concepts. In the social and political realm, Michael’s concern for the universality of human thinking means that cosmopolitanism rather than nationalism will become the dominant trend in his era, which will last until 2233. Those human agencies which thought up the United Nations and other such interanational bodies (and Huntington is a prominent member of the Council On Foreign Relations, the private thinktank primarily responsible) were responding in part to the new spiritual influence of the Michael era. We are now 100 years into this era, and all things national – the products of the Gabriel era – are being forced to retreat in the face of the mounting wave of the cosmopolitan Michael impulse.

However, this does not mean a return to the religious habits of the Middle Ages, for Gabriel’s influence has intervened since then. One of the great benefits of the classical age of natural science was that large numbers of westerners were trained in the habits of clear exact observation of phenomena. Woolliness of thought was censured. Furthermore, all could be doubted and challenged; at least, that was the new theory even if in practice a new scientific Curia all too easily tended to emerge (4). We now therefore hold to the principle, alien to those in the Middle Ages, that no authority’s pronouncements are to be accepted just because they stem from an authority; they must be subjected to experience. Whereas in the Gabriel era, these habits of thought were restricted to observation of the outer physical world, inner spiritual research being declared “out of bounds”, in the Michael era, such habits can now be directed inwards also. ‘Spiritual science’ refuses to accept 18th century Kantian limits to scientific research and seeks to research in a modern scientific sense the invisible spiritual realm as well as the visible physical one.(5)

Life, Form, and Political Corpses
In the Age of Gabriel the nations which rose to preeminence in terms of world power were Spain, the Netherlands, France, and above all, Britain. Within 10 years of the beginning of the Age of Gabriel, King Henry VIII had taken Britain out of the Roman Catholic church, and by the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1603, the British saw themselves as irrevocably opposed to ‘the Continent’ and were beginning to look to the oceans and the wider world for their destiny. The British world empire that grew as a result was based, among other things, on Britain’s mastery of the modern methods of manipulating the products of the material world, as a result of the Scientific, Industrial and Commercial Revolutions of that era, not to mention the development of the British banking system. That empire passed its industrial peak almost precisely in the 1870s, ironically just at the time when Queen Victoria was made Empress of India. The age of Michael, in fact, has been one of almost continuous decline for Britain in terms of real, as opposed to apparent, external power.

The British have found it hard to give up their monarchy, despite its severe embarrasments in recent years, and the Established Church of England attached to it. Many continental Europeans remain in the embrace of the Roman Catholic Church with its pretensions to political influence. Both these European institutions are mediaeval relics. In a lecture of 11th November 1904 Rudolf Steiner spoke about the relation between life and form, maintaining that all forms are crystallised life from a previous period of time (6). But life moves on while forms become desiccated. The trick is to create forms for life which are recent, that is, which still contain some of the ‘heat’ of life, and when that heat dies, the form must be swiftly and flexibly replaced by a new one more amenable to the demands of the newer historical context. The Roman Catholic Church is a form representing ‘the dead life’ of the Roman Empire, while the British monarchy, and for that mattter also the American  Presidency, are also corpses of ‘mixed kings’ – half divine Roman emperor, half semi-magical Germanic tribal chieftain.

These two corpse-like ‘streams’ have come together since the early 1980s in the ideas stemming from a plethora of books in the Anglo-American world advocating a return to a religious kind of kingship for a united Europe or even an Atlantic community, a kingship drawn from the physical bloodline of Jesus of Nazareth. In their 1986 book “The Messaianic Legacy”, the authors of the international bestseller of 1982, “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” wrote about the pan-European plans of the secretive chivalric Order the Prieure de Sion and how these had been taken over by American elite forces: “the primary objective was…a United States of Europe…comparable to the Soviet Union and the United States,…a financial or economic arrangement similar to that of the EEC, which, however, included the United States as well….a rapprochement had been reached with the Vatican. Rome would cooperate. Certain concessions had been necessary in return, but they were essentially nominal.”(7) The authors go on to describe the connections between European conservative Orders such as the Knights of Malta and the CIA and conclude that, since there is a subconscious longing within the peoples of the west for a spiritual ‘roi perdu’, a moral monarch, “we would prefer to see a mortal Messaiah presiding over a united Europe than a supernatural Messaiah presiding over Armageddon.” (8) They believe that the Prieure de Sion are preparing to produce such a king who is descended from the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This is said to be the secret guarded for nearly two millenia by such esoteric groups as the Templars.

A similar story features in “Bloodline of the Holy Grail” (1996)(9) written by Laurence Gardner who styles himself the Chevalier Labhran de St Germain. His book’s foreword is supplied by Prince Michael of Albany, the current Stuart pretender to the throne of Great Britain (10). The common themes of these books reappear: again, Christianity is held to be a myth dreamed up by the imposter Paul. Jesus is seen as no more than an inspired spiritual and political leader. It is claimed that there was no Resurrection and that Jesus’ descendants  -the Grail Family, le Sang Real – eventually became united with the French Merovingian bloodline and then with the Scottish Stuarts via the Templars who fled from France to Scotland after the suppression of the Order by King Phillip IV in 1307. In Scotland, the Templars metamorphosed into Freemasons. The book culminates in its claim in the last chapter that the Stuart line goes back to “a truly unique line of sovereign lineage from King David” (the Royal House of Judah). This is then followed by a coda entitled “The Crown of America” in which it is claimed that Americans too have longed for a ‘democratic monarch’ who serves the people, the implication being that such a monarch from Jesus’ bloodline is ready waiting to serve both Britain and America when called upon. This might all seem fanciful were it not for the fact that a number of these books making similar claims have now emerged since 1982, have received considerable publicity and have all been bestsellers; and that precisely this new ‘mystical yet democratic monarchy’ was called for in sections of the media in the almost cult-like atmosphere following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was referred to as the ‘Queen of the Global Vilage’, ‘Queen of the World’ etc.

Is this really what the people of Europe want for the 21st century – a new Holy Democratic Emperor of some kind of Transatlantic Union who would serve the interests of the American Establishment? This is hardly in tune with the new Michael Impulse that is now growing in strength in our time. From Europe’s religious past, which is also Asia’s to a degree, the ancient ghostly forms of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions seek to maintain their hold on substantial numbers of Europeans, often bolstered by formidable intellectual forces in the Jesuit and other Orders. From the opposite pole, from America, comes the evangelical charismatic stream which claims to be of the Holy Spirit, of “the people”, and therefore of our time. This is a deception, since it is usually based on an unthinking Biblical literalism and an unconscious experience of rapture which is led by charismatic leaders and oligarchical groups of biblical interpreters.

Europe and the Michael Impulse
What then is the nature of the Michael Impulse to which Rudolf Steiner sought to give a voice? Firstly, it is anti-authoritarian; it is rooted in the spiritual experience of the individual, whose conscience is sacrosanct, considering that individuals are free to come together in any way they wish to work with the Beings of the spiritual world that seek what is good for Man. In our time, the spiritual world does not need ‘worshippers’, but rather, co-workers. Secondly, the Michael Impulse is sober and oriented to knowledge, a new ‘science’ of the spirit. This individual scientific approach to the inner spirit means no more deference to churches and church hierarchies, and precludes any unconscious self-abandonment in charismatic ecstasies that are all too easily manipulated by guru figures. Thirdly, it is genuinely cosmopolitan, universally human, and does not seek to bind the religious with the political as is the case in the Orthodox tradition of eastern Europe, where the church is deeply embedded in, and politically supportive of, local ethnicity. Needless to say, it acknowledges no sexism in the realm of the spirit. It overcomes all attachments based on isms, since it recognises the truth of reincarnation and karma and seeks to explore them in full clarity without sensationalism, reintegrating these concepts which were excised from the western  mind by the Roman Church in the early Christian centuries. That excision was necessary, for if the knowledge of reincarnation and karma had not been suppressed, western culture would never have developed an atheistic and  materialistic natural science. The good habits and mental disciplines fostered by this natural science we shall need increasingly over the next few thousand years; its fallacious fundamental assumptions about the limits of scientific enquiry, however, and its cold-hearted intellectualism – the products of the life of the 17th and 18th centuries -  we can now safely jettison.

Fourthly, the Michael Impulse cannot but serve to spread the fruits of spiritual scientific insights into all social life, fructifying it. This means above all discovering creative spiritual archetypes and working out of them. Such an archetype is the tripartite structure of form. During the Age of Gabriel, the age of physical “insula-tion” -  religion, science, politics, economics and the arts had to fall into separate boxes in men’s minds to enable each of these realms to be understood in and for themselves. In the Michael Age, these realms, while keeping their own integrity, will have to be reconnected – not so that they will  interfere with each other but so that they can inform each other. The gaps between religion, science, and the arts will narrow, indeed are doing so already; they will come to be seen as the spiritual-cultural sphere, which concerns itself primarily with the realm of accurate but also heart-warming knowledge, while politics concerns itself with that of rights and social responsibilities, and economics busies itself with the  truly ecological exploitation and distribution of the Earth’s resources in a spirit of brotherhood and cooperation, and not according to the 19th century law of the jungle as is still the case today. The Michael Impulse will thus help to realise in social action a threefold society in which liberty, equality, and fraternity are no longer fine-sounding slogans, which we all ignore in daily life, but symbiotic moral realities which we feel must underlie social organisation if it is to be lively and healthy.

Europe is itself a threefold microcosm. In the West (Iberia, France, Britain, Benelux, Norway) we see the tendency to look outwards to the world of the senses and to value the individual above community, tendencies which are amplified in America. In the East (Slavic Europe, Finland and the Balkans) is a tendency to look within the soul, a mystical tendency, and a stronger sense of the value of community, that is akin to the even more communal spirit of Asia. In central Europe (Germanic Europe, many of the former Habsburg territories, Italy, and Sweden) there is a swaying between these two poles of East and West; there is both mysticism and pragmatism, an upholding of the individual and of the community. Often they have been in uneasy but dynamic balance. If Europeans can only learn to understand and value the unique human and cultural tapestry that the continent represents, to realise that some peoples are more able to do what others cannot and vice versa, then Europe will be well-suited to stand between the poles of America and Asia in the Michael Age and help to keep these poles in balance.

During the First World War Rudolf Steiner desperately tried from 1917 on, to get the Central Europeans to understand the concepts of a threefold society so that Europe would have some spiritual ideas to counter those of the West (President Wilson’s 14 Points, national self-determination, the League of Nations) and of the East (Bolshevism)(11). The Central Europeans failed to respond sufficiently, and the seeds of the Cold War division of Europe were sown in 1917 because Europe had no creative ideas of its own with which to meet East and West. Instead, it produced a wholly destructive idea, Fascism, and the result was the Second World War in which Europe was crushed between the colossal forces of America and Russia. It will be Europe’s spiritual task above all in the coming millenium to repair this enormous error by applying its imagination in the sense of the Michael Impulse. Europe will fail again in this task if it imposes upon itself a monolithic, religious-political uniformity – EU-style -  harking back to its own mediaeval and Roman past, a uniformity that masquerades as economic cooperation. It will also fail if it is so foolish and lacking in self-confidence as to allow to be imposed upon itself from outside an equally monolithic economic-cultural uniformity, that of Americanism, which is the immature result of a social development with a depth of no more than 200 years.

Like a teenager, America may have great enthusiasm, vitality, and willpower allied to prodigious intellectuality, but these do not qualify it for world domination. No society, let alone a world society, should be led by its youths. Since 1898 the American East Coast Establishment, closely allied to and urged on by the British Establishment, has prematurely pushed the American people into their current position of world responsibility. Samuel P.Huntington, a key member of that Establishment, may make a few critical noises about western arrogance and say that in the next century the West “will have to learn to coexist with” non-western civilisational partners, but he is hardly impartial. The thrust of his article and book was how the West, i.e. the English-speaking world, can continue to maintain its dominance in the face of the inevitable ‘civilisational’ challenges it will meet in the next century, primarily from East Asia and the Islamic world.

Despite his seeming espousal of a ‘spiritual’ viewpoint, Huntington’s worldview, spread throughout the world by the latest American media technology, stems from the materialistic jungle geopolitics of the 19th century. Life has departed from it. History has moved on since the end of the Gabriel era in 1879. Huntington’s concept of conflict between different ‘civilisations’ is an illusion, a virtual reality in that it bows in the direction of the spiritual and world-embracing imperatives of the Michael Age but yet seeks to use these to perpetuate a dead form, a ghost from the Gabrielic Age (‘continentalism’, or ‘civilisational nationalism’) which does not deserve to have an influence on the development of the world in the third millenium. However, ghosts can yet be powerful if the living choose to believe in them. In the twentieth century we should have realised that much at least.


(1) As an example of the global reach of his ideas, just two weeks after the publication of Huntington’s 1993 article, President Kim Yong Sam of South Korea was referring to it in Tokyo at a state banquet given in his honour by the Emperor of Japan. In 1993 Huntington was Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. He was a key member of the Coordinating Group, a 14-man team who, from 1974, drew up the ’1980s Project’ of the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), the preeminent foreign policy thinktank in the USA for most of the 20th century. This project mapped out the seismic geopolitical and economic shifts of the 1980s. It was funded by the Ford, Mellon, and Rockefeller Foundations. Huntington was also an important member of the Trilateral Commission, a secretive high-level body, the brainchild of David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski, which was  intended to coordinate policy between America, Europe, and Japan.

(2) This does not mean that Gabriel in any sense ‘lives on’ the Moon but that his sphere of activity stems primarily from the sphere marked by the Moon’s orbit. This can be described as the prenatal and post-mortem ‘lobby’ of the spiritual world.

(3) Abbot Johannes Trithemius von Sponheim (1462-1516) “Die septem secundeis, id est intelligentiis sive spiritibus orbes post deum moventibus” (1515), a work written for Emperor Maximilian I – this was the first publication of what had until then been esoteric knowledge about the periods of archangelic rule.

(4) In 1981, for example, the leading British science journal “Nature” ran an editorial criticising Rupert Sheldrake’s hypothesis of formative causation. It was entitled ‘A Book For Burning?’ and argued that Sheldrake had “succeeded in finding a place for magic within scientific discussion.” By contrast, the equally respected “New Scientist” magazine (90, 749, 1981) described the hypothesis as “good science”.

(5) When defenders of materialistic natural science pour scorn on metaphysics and are asked, “where were the laws of physics before the Big Bang”, they are forced to admit that their science rests upon the uncritical presupposition of a certain type of metaphysics. Rupert Sheldrake says about this:”When one faces this, one can at least begin to think about it rather than accepting one way of thinking about it as self-evident, taken for granted.” (“A New Science of Life”, Paladin, 1983, p.254)

(6) R.Steiner “The Temple Legend”, Rudolf Steiner Press 1985, p.67

(7) M.Baigent, R.Leigh, H.Lincoln, “The Messaianic Legacy” (Corgi 1987, p.367-8)

(8) “The Messianic Legacy”, p.451

(9) L.Gardner, “Bloodline of the Holy Grail – The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed”, Element, 1996

(10) The Scottish Stuart dynasty ruled Britain from 1603 to 1688. The first King, James I (1603-25) brought Scottish Freemasonry into England. The last, the Catholic James II (1683-88), was ousted by William of Orange who had been invited by Britain’s Protestant grandees to take over the country. James’ grandson made an abortive effort to reconquer Britain in 1745, since when there have been Stuart Pretenders to the throne.

(11) President Woodrow Wilson issued his statement of US war aims (later dubbed the 14 Points) to Congress on 9th Jan. 1918. Conceived by himself and his intimate advisor Colonel E.M.House in a private meeting of just two hours on 5th Jan. 1918. Its purpose was to secure the support of the new Bolshevik Russian government for the Allies; to foster revolutionary forces in Germany and thus undermine the German war effort; to gain the support of liberals everywhere; and to get the other Allies to revise their own war aims. The plan called for a wide-ranging redrawing of Europe’s frontiers that ignored economic and cultural realities, and a League of Nations organisation to prevent international conflicts after the war. It has been called “the most effective piece of propaganda ever designed by any human brain in the history of mankind.” (G.S.Viereck, “The Strangest Friendship In History: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House”, Greenwood Press, Westport, 1976, p.210)

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