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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Toward the 21st Century
Doing the Good
by Bernhard Lievegoed

III. Toward the 21st Century

In late Lemuria, where mankind was divided into the sexes, the Hierarchies gave the first mysteries to mankind. These mysteries differentiated on planetary lines in Atlantean times, led by the Sun mysteries. In the fifth Atlantean period the great leaders of these Sun mysteries saved their best pupils from the doom of Atlantis and took them toward the East.

The northern stream, lead by the Manu himself, brought the Sun mysteries to that secret point in the East in the Gobi desert where a small group of people carried on. From there, new groups were sent out to start the post-Atlantean cultures.

A southern stream also left Atlantis, going to the south of the Mediterranean. This group was led by Noah, the second great initiate of the sun. This stream of the south looked after the stature of man especially, so that he could later be the bearer of the Christ impulse. This southern stream, more or less a stream of Moon forces, stressed the forces of heredity.

The Manu who brought the Sun mysteries to the Gobi desert worked behind many impulses which later entered into the post-Atlantean cultures. In this work of the great post-Atlantean mysteries, the mysteries of Mercury and Venus took a special place. This is important for the great challenges which are coming at the end of the century.

When, in the beginning of Lemurian times, the Sun went out of the earth, the Elohim — Spirits of Form which had until then worked in us — departed and withdrew from the earth. They went with the Sun and worked from outside the Earth upon man's development. But a group of Elohim did not go to the Sun, rather staying in the neighborhood of Earth. They worked further on Earth, in mankind, so that in the Lemurian and early Atlantean periods, the wildness in the astral body of men might be tamed. It needed to be tamed in such a way that it would not overwhelm the seed of the ego impulse when it was put into man.

During the development of Atlantis, the impulse of this human ego was to enter into the development of mankind. If the astral body had still been ruled by the uncontrolled forces of Lemurian times, these would have overwhelmed this new ego force. For this task a group of Elohim made the sacrifice of the Sun to stay in the neighborhood of Earth. They are called after their spheres of influence — spheres which were formed later: Elohim of the Moon, of Mercury, and of Venus. Each took a special task.

The Elohim of the Moon brought wisdom to the astral body; the Elohim of Mercury brought healing forces; the Elohim of Venus brought the impulse of beauty — of love for beauty to the astral body. These impulses were compensations to the wildness of the astral body in later Lemurian times, and at the start of the Atlantean period.

In the middle of the Atlantean period, out of the world of the Elohim of the Sun, the impulse of the personal ego entered man — man, prepared by the Hierarchies, in his physical, etheric, and astral body. The ego was like a drop falling from heaven. The pictures from the windows of the old Goetheanum show this. Evolving man, so to speak, was created as a human being.

At that moment Ahriman grasped for the drop of heaven and brought it deeper into the earth than was intended, or than was then good for man. He did this by trying to get hold of the etheric body of man, and hardening it. His strategy was to capture the ego in a hardened etheric boy. Ahriman did not want the ego seed to be free, but to come under his own force and will.

The world of the Elohim reached a great decision. Long before, the Elohim of the Moon had withdrawn. This happened at the end of Lemurian times, when the Moon separated from Earth. But the Moon Elohim still sent wisdom to Earth — wisdom that was brought to the astral body as that the awakening ego would find there a ground of wise and good pictures and thinking. Now the Elohim of Mercury made a new sacrifice. They sacrificed existence in the heavenly spheres, where they worked without upon the Earth, to enter the hardening Earth with an impulse of healing.

Being with man, these Mercury forces directed the impulses of healing so that the etheric body might not be hardened so much that the ego forces would become imprisoned in the etheric body.

The Elohim of Venus also moved. They retreated to Venus to work more effectively from outside Earth. They brought art to mankind. Art was the possibility that, from outside the astral body, pictures and imaginations about spiritual realty could reach man. But while this went on, the Venus Elohim came into the sphere of Lucifer. This is difficult to grasp. But the Luciferic forces had, in times before Golgotha, a positive task. The Luciferic forces worked through the Elohim of Venus bringing Luciferic light and pictures, which as pictures of art and beauty to mankind. This was then a positive force without which man would have grown too rough and too wild. Through art, he was put before a looking glass of the spiritual world.

Thus two kinds of spiritual activities worked into the mysteries of post-Atlantean cultures. The Moon mysteries were mysteries of wisdom, based in Asia Minor. The mysteries of Mercury, on the other hand, were pretty much hidden. They were often secret that even at their centers only a few people knew about them. They were hidden so that they looked on the outside like Moon mysteries.

One of the foremost of Mercury centers was at Ephesus. At Ephesus students meet secrets, and deep Christian and pre-Christian mystery streams, which worked together with the Sun mysteries. At Ephesus there lived knowledge of plant growth, knowledge of metals, and knowledge of healing. It is not by chance that at Ephesus the aging John the Evangelist wrote, worked, and died.

The Venus forces worked from outside. They brought art into the soul of man. This art, in pre-Golgotha times, gave a counterweight to the Ahrimanic influence in the etheric body. Ahriman in the etheric body, and, as a counterweight, Lucifer in the astral body. How did Lucifer proceed? By bringing art as a bridge between earth and spirit. But the Venus influence also worked in an egotistic way. Leaders of this impulse demanded that anyone who dedicated himself to art must worship art fully and more fully, leaving behind all else. When the artist did this — he was given the inspirations out of the sphere of the Venus Elohim. This was, in the post-Atlantean times up to Golgotha, a great and positive mission of Lucifer. Ahrimanic forces in the etheric body were counteracted; but living with art, the etheric body remained flexible, became “beautified,” and did not harden as much as Ahriman wanted.

Sun mysteries directly helped the ego's development. The development of the ego grew directly out of the Sun mystery sphere of the Manu — he it was who sent out the seven Rishis, Zarathustra, Hermes, and Dionysos — all to the West so that they could there found new cultures. The Mercury Elohim decided to help the Sun forces from their side, from below, through healing. Healing is the mystery of the Mercury Elohim working through the black Ahriman forces of the Earth.

Ahriman, in the middle of the Atlantean period, moved to densify the whole world so that it might turn more material than was intended by the good Hierarchies. Into these forces of the Earth where Ahriman works, the Elohim went down into the deepest darkness. How did they heal? By bringing earth material into the light of the Sun, by helping plants to grow. Plant culture is one of the deeds set before man by these healing mysteries, the Elohim of Mercury. Through plants, etheric Earth substance is drawn back into the light of the Sun. This man not seem worthwhile thinking about. But it is the essence of healing to expose to the Sun.

The mysteries of Ephesus, which were the purest Mercury mysteries, were the mysteries of healing. In Torquay, England, Steiner held two lectures on the mysteries of Ephesus. He spoke with emphasis and love how in these mysteries of Ephesus teacher and pupil worked together to know how forces of darkness and light were working in the plant world. The goal was to bring them into the medicinal sphere. This research was done by the teacher asking questions and the pupil answering. Normally we say the pupil has to ask questions and the teacher has to give answers. Here it was just the other way around. The teacher asked the questions. The pupil went to sleep with the questions of the teacher. The next morning they met again. The pupil gave the answer which came out of the depth of his soul. It is always the working of two together, in the Mercury mysteries, the same as the working together as doctor and patient.

The doctor can study medicine. But he can only heal working together with the patient. He asks the patient his symptoms. The patient tells the symptoms. Out of the symptoms the doctor reaches an inspiration or imagination of what is wrong with the patient. It is the same with teacher and pupil in our schools where the pupil can tell the teacher, and educate the teacher in the understanding of man's development.

When Christ came to earth and died on Golgotha, the Mercury Elohim went with Christ. Steiner told us the Mercury Elohim was already Christianized. The Mercury Elohim was Raphael. Raphael is the Mercury Elohim — the leading Elohim of Mercury, and now a Christian Archangel.

The great mission of art was over. The old style had finished. But the Venus forces that once sacrificed themselves to work with Lucifer had still to be redeemed. Theirs was a real sacrifice, in the sense that they went with the Luciferic forces in order to help mankind — bringing art in such a way as was necessary in pre-Christian times. Now they should work in another way. But they have not been free to make a decision. When once a Hierarchical being makes the decision to go the Luciferic way, even to help mankind, he cannot withdraw from this Luciferic sphere. He needs to be redeemed by man. Only man can help him come back to a Christian path.

In the times after Christ, art still brought beauty to mankind. Only here and there arose the first beginnings of real Christian impulses in art. This does not mean painting Christ on the Cross, or scenes from the life of Christ.

Look at the art of architecture up to the nineteenth century, with all the old styles. Many styles crystallized. The Romanic first, then the Gothic. These were trials to bring new impulses into art. In the 20th century, the great Sun initiate Steiner started the renewal of art in a Christian way. By this I mean that Steiner's art impulses seek to redeem the Luciferic-Venus constellation of forces. This art does not seek to work in a Luciferic way on the astral body, but to work in a way that may help the modern ego development. For this renewal, art from the Sun has to take the place of the old art which worked through Venus and Lucifer. This old art sought a world of beauty, a real world of beauty. Real Christian art is something which still has to be brought to mankind. Steiner could begin this in the 20th century when Kali-Yuga, five thousand years of darkness, were over. The light of spirit could work again in mankind. Steiner, in the beginning of the 20th century, initiate of the Sun mysteries, brought the new art, and the new healing.

The renewal of the mysteries of healing, in a Christian way, meant unveiling the mysteries of development. Steiner, in the years 1902-06, brought us the concept of development — the concept of man's development, and the concept of a whole cosmos developing from Saturn to Vulcan. This world of development contains the renewal of the mystery of healing. Healing is always a process of bringing into development what has stagnated and hardened. To bring into development again is to heal.

The renewal of art was the second impulse which Steiner brought. In eurythmy, painting, architecture, and drama, we see only a first beginning. In the outer world they can do it all much better. The modern ballet is much more clever than eurythmy. It possesses a proud perfection. A modern musical performance is nearly absolute. Anthroposophical musicians, when they try to bring new conceptions out of music, what do they do? They build lyres. When you hear with the old ear you will say, as we in Holland say, that they are just dabbling around. Give me a beautiful orchestra with the full effort.

Imperfections are the seeds of the future. They will be perfect, maybe, in three or four thousand years. Old art took a much longer time to perfect. Why should new art do it in a short time? Real development is always slow. There is no shortcut.