Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Toward the 21st Century
Doing the Good
by Bernhard Lievegoed

I. Old and New Mysteries

Out of Pralaya, between the Old Moon and the newly developing Earth, came first the warmth world — the Polar time — as Steiner called it. This Polar time was a repetition of Saturn development. The Elohim, Spirits of Form, were working in this warmth, this fire, giving the ego organization to the world. The ego organization of man was a part of the Elohim, which then separated from their own being and gave themselves to the world so that mankind might develop his individual ego. The beginning of the ego organization meant differentiations in the warmth sphere.

After this had been worked out, the Hyperborean times began. The Hyperborean times were the second period of development of the Earth which was more or less a repetition of the Old Sun period. Our sun and earth were not yet divided, but were one. In the carbonic atmosphere which was radiating life in this Hyperborean time, the darkness began to radiate light. In the carbonic atmosphere the first plant forms appeared. Plants appeared like ice flowers on the glass of our windows — forming and sprouting in the air. In this same time the etheric body of man was worked on by the same Elohim.

The third period came, the Lemurian time, a repetition of the Old Moon. By the end of the Hyperborean time, the sun had moved out of its unity with the earth and gave its light from outside. The planets differentiated and shone from outside onto the world. This world was half fluid, as Steiner describes it, a half fluid albumen atmosphere. Man, in the form he had in the first half of the Lemurian time, was not divided by sex. Man had enormous willing powers. At the end of the first half of Lemurian times, we see the beginning of the Saurian period, when the dinosaurs and other large animals began to develop. Man learned to control volcanic forces; in this way he derived enormous strength. The old folk story giants are remembrances of men in the Lemurian period.

In the second half of Lemurian times, mankind divided into two sexes. The masculine part of the human race received ever more willing powers. He became a being of action and reaction. An action from outside gave rise to a reaction of enormous will forces. Stimulus/response — psychology's description of men in the United States as only reacting on an action from outside is true in so far as man is a repetition of Lemurian man. Since that time man has developed an ego which also works. However, it is not completely untrue to say that man is a being of action and reaction.

The female part of the human race had the possibility of turning inward, of a beginning of consciousness, so that the consciousness force, and the first images of consciousness, began to develop inside the feminine half of mankind. Language first began. Sounds were first carried on the breath, and music also began. Women lead the first human culture — the source of ancient matriarchies. At the end of the Lemurian epoch the misuse of astral and volcanic forces brought the downfall of Lemurian culture.

Only a few people could survive on the borders of old Lemuria, a region perhaps localized in South Africa — one of the few parts of the world where remnants of the Lemurian world still exist. These few people who could pass from the decaying Lemurian culture to the next stage of development formed the culture of Atlantis. They were led by the primeval teachers of mankind. These primeval teachers withdrew to the Moon and sent their leadership from outside, from the Moon sphere.

During the Lemurian period, the forces of the planets worked on the earth, having points at which they worked into the formation of the etheric forces both of earth and of man. These planetary forces formed a great spiral.

In the beginning of the Lemurian period there were the rudiments of three continents: one big continent, the Gondwanaland, and the beginning of continents in the north. Where the North American continent now stands, the forces of Saturn were working. This was also the place where the first culture of Lemurian mankind took place.

The second continent was in the region where one might say Europe now is. Human beings there were inspired by the forces of Jupiter. The approximate region of the south of Siberia was the area of Mars forces. Sun forces were working in the area which is now the Gobi desert.

A fifth culture took place in the south, the Venus culture, which is now Malaya. The sixth culture, the expression of Mercury, worked where Africa now stands. Forces of the Moon worked in the Arabic Peninsula and in the region of Palestine.

In this big spiral of developing cultures we see a pattern. Men were not yet divided into two sexes. In the fifth period, as Venus forces were leading men, and the Lemurian culture went to the south part of Lemuria, now called Malaya, the primeval Malayan race was formed by the forces of Venus. Lucifer could take his chance to get into Lemurian development and bring about a great change in the world — and here the division of sexes began.

With sexes, Lucifer could get a better hold of man, and from that moment the development of Lemuria declines. Simultaneously mankind differentiated into races. The earth was not then so hard; human bodies were much more flexible. They could be formed by forces coming from outside to the earth.

Having such a picture in our minds we can understand better the beginning of the Atlantean period, when for the first time we find mysteries as we speak about them now. The old mysteries began in the Atlantean period. In the transition between Lemuria and the Atlantean period, only a few people were able to survive. These few people are described in the Bible as Adam and Eve. If you ask me where the place called Paradise was, it was possibly in South Africa, possibly in Abyssinia, perhaps Mesopotamia; we do not know. The earth at that time was very different from what it is now. At that time a stream went around the central area. The Ural Mountains marked the primeval continent. The Greeks remembered the stream as the Ocean — not our ocean, but a remembrance of old Lemurian times.

A few people from Lemuria went to Atlantic, and the real earth development began. Till the end of Lemuria, the earth development was a repetition of the Old Saturn, Sun, and Moon developments. This new development, however, was still wholly guided by the Hierarchies. Man had to be created in the form of the future, so the great Cherubim formed the prototypes of the human physical body after the principles of threefold formation: head, respiratory system, and members. The great images of the human form stand in the Bible as the image of the lion, middle man; the image of the bull, the lower man; and the eagle, image of thinking, the brain, and the sense organs.

During the Atlantean period we find seven sub-cultures. The first people of Atlantis were called Rmoahals, with the R calling out the forces of the lion — rrr, rrr. They lived in their breath and the name, Rmoahals, comes from this rolling thunder of the breath. The rolling thunder of the roaring lion is still in it.

The second people lived in the south of Atlantis in the region called Gondwanaland. It included the west of South America and spread over the ocean to South Africa and to Australia in one big continent at that time. In the southern and western parts of Gondwanaland, the Rmoahals and the second peoples, the Tlavatlis, lived. The latter lived out of the forces of the bull.

The third group moved somewhat northwards into the middle of the Atlantean continent. They were called the Toltecs. The Toltecs took after the eagle forces. In the Toltec culture the first beginnings of the intellect developed, as Steiner described, and the Toltecs are known historically. The last remembrances of Toltec culture have been found in Yucatan. Remains of a very old city were found about 1950.

The Toltecs were, as Steiner describes them, a people of priests and high morality and they were trying to develop plants by cultivating them, bringing new differentiations. Till then, plants had been given their form by the Hierarchies. Now men took over and began to make further differentiations in the plant world. When you try to think of these Toltecs who went to the west, you must imagine them as the primeval population of the American continent. They were later exposed to Saturn forces and took into themselves the Saturn mysteries. They founded the mysteries of the Great Spirit. The Toltecs were a population of pure, plant oriented, priestly people working with etheric forces.

In the fourth sub-culture these three groups of peoples should have been taken together into what we know as the group of the angel. The peoples of the eagle, of the lion, and of the bull on one side, and on the other of the angel, or of man in his glory, were to form a whole. The group of the angel was to take the other three groups in together. The Turanian people had this task of developing those angel-man forces — an equilibrium between the other three forces.

The Christ was to come in this time of the Turanian people, but at that time the Ahrimanic forces first got their grip on mankind. Just as in the Lemurian times Lucifer had his chance, Ahriman took this moment in Atlantean times to penetrate the Turanian culture.

Instead of becoming the culture of the Sun powers, and of man in equilibrium, as seen in the image of the angel, this became the culture of the scorpion. The ego was degraded to a scorpion. When you see in Mexican art all those scorpions, you know they are the remainders not of the Toltecs, but of the later Turanian people. The Turanians degenerated, taking hold of sexual forces, which could be handled as magic powers in the world of the plants — which the Toltecs had so beautifully developed. Turanians took hold of these plant forces and used them for their own purposes, which meant a downfall.

The Turanians had to leave Atlantis. The first of the flooding rains came. Atlantis was drowned. The south of Atlantis was flooded, but the middle of Atlantis still stood — becoming nothing more than a group of islands between Spain and Central America. A small group of people went to the west, a greater part went to the east. These latter settled in the area where they could get hold of the forces of Mars. They regrouped the Turanian people who were fought, in the Persian period, by the Iranians. This was the beginning of the catastrophes of Atlantis.

The Atlantean period in the fifth, sixth, and seventh cultures had to take place in a series of catastrophes which are known as the Ice Ages. The four or five ice eras are the outer cloak of the Atlantean catastrophes. These ancient, middle, and younger ice ages represent drownings of parts of Atlantis. Masses of ice came over the continent. Then the ice melted, but the land was drowned by floods and rains. This was the result of the Turanians misusing certain forces.

In the fifth culture of Atlantis, the time of the Primary Semitic or Indo-Germanic culture, the forces of the ego had again to work not from outside, but from within. With the Toltecs the ego worked from outside. In the third and fifth periods, this same force had to be ingested and developed from within. In the sixth period, the Accadic, people took what the Tlavatlis, the people of the bull forces, had developed, and internalized it. The Primeval Mongols took the forces of the lion and internalized them. This meant the formation not only of the human stature, but also of human soul forces.

At the end of the Atlantean period, different races had been formed from the planetary forces working on different parts of the earth. After that, race formation was frozen. Differentiation became possible only within the races. Later only mingling and mixing of races was possible. They were frozen through heredity. Lucifer inaugurated, so to speak, heredity. In that way he froze the outer formation of races.

Someone who has lived in one place and moves to another still retains his own typical race formation, but he is influenced in his soul by living, for instance, under Venus forces. It means a great deal if you have been born as a European in the Malaya sphere, as I was, and brought up there until the eighteenth year. That gave me many possibilities which I would not have had if I had lived only in Europe. Moving from one part to another part means enrichment. You bring with you the inherited forces but, by going to other parts of the world and living there, you are enriched. You get the other forces — only in the soul, not in the body. This in spite of what people say, namely, that people who come to live in America, for instance, and are still being formed physically, get a longer jaw and other features in the second and third generation. I have not observed this. People only say it is so.

In the beginning of the Atlantean times, people brought with them a connection with one or another of the planetary spheres. People who had survived between Lemuria and Atlantis in, say, the sphere of Saturn, or of Mars, incarnated with a greater inner connection to these particular planetary forces. Thus, in the Atlantean periods, the planetary mysteries were founded. People wanted to be in touch with their planet. So the various planetary mysteries were founded in which, in occult form, they could meet the spirits of these planets. This is the true beginning of the real mysteries.

Later on, after the submerging of Atlantis under the Atlantic Ocean, those mysteries could no longer be visited by the spirits of the planets. The priests of the planetary mysteries had to “remove to the Moon sphere” and read, as in a mirror (for the Moon sphere is a mirror for the total cosmos), what was happening, and what came out of the forces of the other planets from the Sun. Perhaps the Sun mysteries were an exception. The other planetary mysteries could only be read in the mirror of the Moon. Thus in the late Atlantean period, and in the whole post-Atlantean periods, all eastern mysteries (all mysteries which went through the post-Atlantean cultures) were in reality Moon mysteries. That is to say, when the forces of Mercury were called on, the priests still had to find the mysteries of Mercury in the light of the Moon sphere.

In the fifth period after the Atlantean catastrophe, the forces of the ego had to be internalized. The great initiates of the Sun mysteries (men imbued with high Hierarchical Sun begins, which you may imagine as being Michael as well as others) brought the etheric window of the Sun sphere to men. It was the task of Michael and others to bring this wisdom, cosmic wisdom, to man.

These initiates of the Sun mysteries were called the godly Manu — and when I speak about the godly Manu I do not speak about one person only. There were different kinds of godly Manus. In the central Sun mysteries, the godly Manu was the priest. He became the priest at the moment one of the high Hierarchical begins entered into him and spoke through his voice and through his movements. They were recognized in the Greek times as the half-gods. When one thinks of Gilgamesh, who was called, according to the papers that have been found, one-third man and two-thirds god, that means that only one third of him, of what he did, was coming out of his own ego. Two thirds of what he was able to do came through him from the Sun beings.

Of these godly Manus one never knew, “Is this a Manu or not?” This could only be known by clairvoyance, by seeing the light which was around such a person, and at one moment he might be a Manu, and at the next a human being. But these Manus led the best of the people of the Sun mysteries, in the fifth Atlantean period, over to the east. They led these people to the east in two streams. One stream went from the north Atlantic region, where during the fifth period the people lived, to the north of the Mediterranean region, northwards through the south of Europe, going to the Gobi desert where Indians at that time were working with holy Sun powers in the etheric sphere. There they could bring a small group of people under the influence of the Sun forces.

I have said the Gobi desert. But when you read the old stories of the Chinese and of the Mongolian people, they tell of the Gobi desert as a lake, a region with islands and peninsulas, with a rich vegetation and a most beautiful climate. Three islands stood out. To these withdrew the old mysteries. These Mongolian stories are a remembrance of that old time.

On these islands were the highest mysteries of mankind. There these people could be protected and preserved. They lived there for long periods, to be prepared to go as Sun people to establish the post-Atlantean cultures. The seven Rishis came from there. Zarathustra came out of these mysteries. And Hermes. They were sent from there to found new cultures in the post-Atlantean periods. This was the northern stream.

The northern stream was the main stream and this was under the direct Sun forces, as the godly Manu went with them. But you also had the helpers of the Manu, who stayed on the wayside here and there and worked among the population which afterwards came to live and develop in these countries. The Accadian period and the last pre-Mongolian period closed the seventh period of Atlantis.

There was a second stream, a southern stream. One went north, the other south. The southern stream was lead by a helper of the Manu. In the Bible he is called Noah. In anthroposophical circles there are people who say Noah is the Manu. This is not untrue, because he was one of those highly developed men who could take into himself the forces of the Sun.

But this southern stream had another task. While the northern stream had to develop the Sun forces in thinking, the southern stream was more a stream of Moon forces — a stream in which the Sun was reflected in the Moon.

People of the southern stream gave much importance to heredity. They had in their mysteries the mystery of heredity. When you read in the Bible about all those hereditary tables from Adam to Jesus of Nazareth, you find something which is out of the tradition of the southern stream — the southern stream which tries to keep mankind pure. In the purity of their bodies they could receive the inspiration of the Sun there. But it was reflected through the Moon. So the mysteries of the southern stream were Sun mysteries coming through the Moon. And the mysteries of the northern stream were direct Sun mysteries.

In the Bible are places where people of both streams meet. Abraham was one of the great initiates of the southern stream. He had to meet Melchizedek. Melchizedek was one of the great messengers of the sun Manu, the northern stream. Melchizedek brought wine and bread to Abraham. This was a sign of uniting the northern and the southern streams. From that moment on, the people of Abraham had both the forces of the Moon and the reflected Sun working through Abraham and the pure hereditary line, and, on the other side, the direct forces of the Sun working in the celebration of the wine and the bread. In this way, we see how the incarnation of Jesus Christ was prepared. This could only take place where the northern and the southern streams came together. A small group of people was preserved so that both human stature and rightful thinking could go together.

One person of the northern stream was incarnated for the first time coming directly out of the Sun mysteries — a human soul who had not been incarnated before and who in his later incarnation is Aristotle. We know this out of the lectures of Steiner. When we look at such a person as Aristotle, we see that he is a person with only a few incarnations behind him, a person standing directly in the Sun mysteries.

The northern stream of these central mysteries, these Sun mysteries, brings to earth and mankind forces of light, of full thinking, of Sun thinking. We may look at Ephesus and at the Greek mysteries of Samothrace, and we may look at the other mysteries on the continent of Greece. They were all more or less Moon mysteries. At Ephesus we see the Moon mysteries of wisdom. They were the mysteries of Diana, the goddess of the Moon sphere — but bearing also the forces of Mercury. Diana was called the Moon goddess exoterically. Esoterically she was called the Mercury goddess, the goddess of healing.

Steiner speaks about the past as the world of the godly Manu. In the future, Steiner says, there will be human Manus. The godly Manus were entered by Sun beings. Future Manus will radiate sun forces which people have developed themselves. Out of their hearts they will radiate sun forces; such human Manus will lead mankind on the right way.

The old mysteries, more or less — except the few which were direct Sun mysteries — were Moon mysteries. This Moon quality has something to do with the Old Moon, which was called the planet of wisdom. Thus all these mysteries have to do with the search for wisdom. But at the end of Earth evolution the Earth will be called, if things go right, the planet of Love. There is a transition from the mysteries of wisdom, which cover the first part of the earth's development till about one thousand years before Christ, to the new mysteries, which shall be mysteries of love. The leaders of these new mysteries of love will be the human Manus. Out of their own forces, they will have taken so much light of Christ in their hearts that they can lead mankind to the mysteries of love.

The old mysteries lost their force and purity hundreds and hundreds of years before Christ. They decayed. They faded away. With the coming of Christ there was an absolute end of the old mysteries of wisdom. The new mysteries of love began. These new mysteries are the mysteries of the will. The new mysteries are the mysteries of doing deeds of love out of wisdom. But you can only do deeds of love when you have the wisdom first.

The old mysteries did not stop suddenly. They faded away. There was no new inspiration in them. They could only preserve the old. By preserving the old they grew Luciferic. Already in the time of Jesus Christ the old mysteries were no longer visited by the good gods, but by Luciferic beings.

Meanwhile, the new mysteries had to wait for the end of the Kali-Yuga. The old Indian tradition tells us of three thousand years before Christ when the great period of darkness started which would last five thousand years, till about two thousand years after Christ. That means 1899, about, was the end of the Kali-Yuga. During the Kali-Yuga, the mysteries were not really renewed. They could only look back to old things.

Steiner put this whole Michael wisdom together into the Foundation Stone. The whole wisdom of anthroposophy, the Sun wisdom of Michael as a whole, Steiner put together into a small seed — which may then flower in a plant. Such a seed is a dodecahedral Stone of Love, as Steiner called it. This means that when we take these seed words, words which have seed forces in them, and meditate on them, they can grow out to a living plant again. Even if all the books of Rudolf Steiner would have been destroyed through catastrophe, but only this Foundation Stone Meditation would be left over, out of it could be renewed the whole content of anthroposophy, because anthroposophy is in it as in a seed.

The situation of modern mankind is as follows. The forces working in his bodily organs are decaying. In these bodily organs old karma works. Lucifer and Ahriman can enter into us through the decay of our organs. Only a small part of our body can be directed to the forces of the Sun by our concentrated will forces. By our concentrated will forces we can take a small part of our body and fill it with these seed forces of Sun words which are spoken by Steiner, and bring them then to a future. This condensed will power gives the surplus force to build the future world.

In the old mysteries man had to bring to consciousness the wisdom which the gods granted to the earth. In the new mysteries man has to develop spiritual surplus powers in his will to give to the gods so that they can let them flow into the development of future worlds.

With the Hierarchies, we are now responsible for the development of the future worlds. Between Golgotha and 1899 the mysteries were silent. After 1900 the new Sun wisdom of Michael could reach the earth. In the Christmas Foundation Stone Meditation, which Steiner called the pentagon-dodecahedral Love Stone, forces might radiate into the hearts of the members and give them spiritual willing powers for new future worlds.

The old mysteries were bound to geographical places where Hierarchical beings could speak to men through the constellation of nature's forces. For instance, the United States, since the beginning of the Lemurian period, was a place where Saturn forces could work into the shaping of nature and people. Such forces were known as the mysteries of the Great Spirit.

The new mysteries are not bound to geographical constellations, nor to time of the year or the day. The new mysteries are celebrated by men where they fill their hearts with the new revelations out of the world of Sun wisdom given by Michael. Men render their Sun-filled hearts to the gods as an altar where those high powers may celebrate the new cosmic cult. These altars in our hearts may be built anywhere, at any time, even when we are sitting in the subway going at top speed. It is no excuse to say, “I cannot do it in this moment.”

In older times men celebrated their holy cults on the altars of the gods. Now the gods might celebrate on the altars of the enlightened human hearts. This is the meaning of the words at the end of the Foundation Stone Meditation:

O Light Divine
O Sun of Christ,
Warm Thou our Hearts,
Enlighten Thou our Heads,
That good may become
What from our Hearts we would found
what from our Heads direct
With single purpose.