Tag Archives: Michael

Under the Gaze of Uriel

 The following is the text of an address given as part of the Midsummer Festival organised by the Anthroposophical Society in Sussex, held on Sunday 23rd June 2019 at Emerson College.

 We are now at the Summer Solstice and the St John’s Festival, that time of the year when in the Northern Hemisphere we have our longest day and shortest night. Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture given on 12thOctober 1923, said that the great archangel most associated with this time of year is Uriel: and that Uriel directs his countenance and clear piercing gaze down towards the Earth and perceives disturbing shapes which continually gather and dissolve, gather and dissolve again. These shapes, Steiner says, are “human errors upon which Uriel directs his earnest gaze. Here during the height of summer, the imperfections of mankind are searchingly surveyed and contrasted with the morality implicit in the natural world. Now we see how at midsummer human errors are woven into the regular crystals which are formed in the normal course of Nature. On the other hand, all that is human virtue and human excellence rises up with silver-gleaming lines and is seen as the clouds that envelop Uriel”.

Uriel via wikimedia

Uriel directing his gaze at human errors. (Photo via Wikimedia)

So Midsummer is a time when, under the gaze of Uriel, the spiritual world looks with especial closeness at our human actions and motivations. This is a good time of year for us to do the same and look closely at what we humans are doing in the world.

Almost 60 years ago, someone who was inspired by anthroposophy wrote a book which woke up the world to the dangers of the unregulated use of pesticides. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which was published in 1962. Her book has been rightly acknowledged as one of the all-time great pieces of science writing, detailing the scale of the damage being done by human-applied chemicals to the environment and all its denizens.  It had a huge impact and led to awareness and legislation at least in part controlling the damage caused by pesticides such as DDT.

Rachel Carson photo via BBC

Rachel Carson (photo via BBC)

In a letter written in 1958 to a friend, soon after she began the research that would lead to her book, Rachel Carson spoke about how difficult it had been for her to believe what was happening. She said:

“Some of the thoughts that came were so unattractive to me that I rejected them completely,  for the old ideas die hard, especially when they are emotionally as well as intellectually dear to one…that the stream of life would flow on through time in whatever course that God had appointed for it …And to suppose that, however the physical environment might mould Life, that Life could never assume the power to change drastically – or even destroy – the physical world. These beliefs have almost been part of me for as long as I have thought about such things. To have them even vaguely threatened was so shocking that, as I have said, I shut my mind – refused to acknowledge what I couldn’t help seeing.”

Today, sixty years on, we are witnessing even greater threats to the web of life on Earth and it is perhaps even more difficult for us than it was for Carson to acknowledge and take on board the scale of the challenges now facing all of life. This is the first time in our history, for example, that through the activities of humankind, the entire global climate is shifting to what may be our permanent disadvantage; and we are also in the middle of what scientists are calling the Sixth Great Extinction of species, again caused by our activities.

But if that isn’t enough, there are still other challenges coming up fast to confront us. It was last year, just shortly after Midsummer, that during the annual conference of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, we were shocked by the message that Nicanor Perlas brought about the threats posed by the advent of artificial intelligence. Nicanor has written a book about this, which no doubt many of you will have read, and it has a stark and scary title. His book is called Humanity’s Last Stand and in it he estimates that humanity has about 20 years to find ways in which artificial super intelligence, (ASI) can be aligned with human values; if we are not able to do this, we are likely to be totally overwhelmed by materialistic technology. If Uriel is casting his gaze on the leading advocates for ASI, he will be observing people who believe that humans are nothing more than complex biological machines.

Perlas via Right Livelihood Award

Nicanor Perlas (photo via Right Livelihood Award)

If you believe human beings are nothing more than complex biological machines, then you open up your fellow humans to some disturbing outcomes; we can see, for example what is happening in China right now, where with the power of AI the governing Communist Party is developing extensive new tools for a comprehensive method of political and social control. They have given this a harmless sounding name – they are calling it “social credit.” But what it means is a total surveillance society, in which nothing you can do is hidden from the authorities. If the Chinese state gives you a poor social credit score, then your life becomes very severely constrained. You may be prevented from graduating, or travelling on some train lines, or buying an airline ticket, or buying a property, taking out a loan or even filling your car with fuel.

Now of course, no Western government would dare go so far as they are going in China, though no doubt some of them would like to. The irony of this is that the Chinese social-credit system is based explicitly on a familiar, Western model: the credit score, which we all know about. Data brokers trace the timely manner in which we pay our debts, giving us a score that’s used by lenders and mortgage providers. We also have social-style scores, and anyone who has shopped online with eBay has a rating on shipping times and communication, while Uber drivers and passengers both rate each other; if your score falls too far, you’re out of luck.

The Chinese genius, if you can call it that, was to take credit scoring as a tool of social discipline to its logical conclusion. They have extended their control across the entire range of interactions any member of modern society is more or less compelled to pursue by the very style and structure of contemporary life.

But of course there are many other phenomena of our time that are truly disturbing; there are so many shapes of human error for Uriel to gaze upon – but this evening I would like to focus on just one of them, which is the move to merge humankind with machines and technology.

Rudolf Steiner, of course, foresaw all of this, as far back as 1910. This is what he said in Lecture 12 of the series ‘The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric’:

(…) “the will is there to harness human energy to mechanical energy. These things should not be treated by fighting against them. That is a completely false view. These things will not fail to appear; they will come. What we are concerned with is whether, in the course of world history, they are entrusted to people who are familiar in a selfless way with the great aims of earthly evolution and who structure these things for the health of human beings or whether they are enacted by groups of human beings who exploit these things in an egotistical or in a group-egotistical sense. That is what matters. It is not a question of the what in this case; the what is sure to come. It is a question of the how, how one tackles these situations. The what lies simply in the meaning of earthly evolution. The welding together of the human nature with the mechanical nature will be a problem of great significance for the remainder of earthly evolution”.

That’s quite a statement, isn’t it? “The welding together of the human nature with the mechanical nature will be a problem of great significance for the remainder of earthly evolution”. And in our time it’s being led not by people who structure these things for the health of human beings but by those whom Steiner describes as exploiting these things in an egotistical or group-egotistical sense.

How are they doing this? It is being presented to us not as a threat to our essential humanity but as a kind of species transformation through medical science and technology. The promise is that we will become new kinds of human beings as our bodies, minds and relationships with the environment and with mechanical devices become altered in fundamental ways.

The prediction by futurologists such as Google’s Ray Kurzweil is that we human beings will become more god-like as we become more machine-like and as machines develop more god-like powers. Kurzweil says that we humans are nothing special in the animal kingdom: we have no immortal soul, there is no essential human self and our thoughts and emotions are the product of electrochemical impulses which can in the future be modelled by algorithms. Our future lies in the hands of technical experts – in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cognitive and computer science. New tools will become parts of our bodies. We will have bionic hands, feet and eyes, while nanorobots will move through our bloodstream looking out for disease and repairing the damage of age and injury. We shall have wearable and implanted devices to expand our senses and alter our moods, while biological tools will enter our cells, remodel our genes and give us new and better flesh, blood and neurons. Does that sound wonderful to you, or terrifying?

Kurzweil via Wikipedia

Ray Kurzweil (photo via Wikipedia)

Another futurologist, Yuval Noah Harari, says it is a fact that the “last days of Homo sapiens are fast approaching, and that our species will be replaced “by completely different beings who possess not only different physiques, but also very different cognitive and emotional worlds”. Ordinary human beings will become surplus to requirements, as wars will be waged by drones and work will be done by robots: “Some economists predict that sooner or later, unenhanced humans will be completely useless”. Algorithms embedded in silicon and metal will replace algorithms embedded in flesh, which as Harari points out, is what biology and computer science tells us is all we really are anyway. Things have apparently gone so far that some in Silicon Valley already refer to human beings as ‘meat puppets’.

But things are going still further: Harari says that human beings will cease to be free agents, that their autonomy will be taken over by algorithms – written at first by human beings but ultimately by algorithm-writing machines. As this happens, liberal society will disintegrate as we will no longer be able to sustain belief in the uniqueness of the free human being as the basis of liberal social order. He says that: “We – or our heirs – will probably require a brand-new package of religious beliefs and political institutions.”

harari via wikipedia

Yuval Noah Harari (photo via Wikipedia)

This new religion will be called Dataism. It will be accompanied by the dissolution of the boundaries between humans, animals, machines and social systems, all of which will be seen as algorithmic information processing systems. The concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ will be replaced by the primacy of the free flow of information. The “cosmic data-processing system” will be what God once was: “It will be everywhere and will control everything, and humans are destined to merge into it.”

Rudolf Steiner has told us what is the true challenge of our age: he says “it is humanity’s task in this period to come to grips with evil as an impulse in the evolution of the world”. The task for the fifth post-Atlantean period, he says, is a particularly difficult one:

“As you see, a great many temptations face humanity. When the powers of evil gradually appear, it is natural that man is more likely under the circumstances to give in to this evil in all realms, rather than taking up the struggle to allow what appears to him as evil to be put in the service of the good in world evolution. Yet this must happen: the evil must to a certain degree be placed at the service of the good in world evolution”.

And it does seem as though we are indeed at a new point in world and human evolution. In this connection I remember a quotation from the late visionary poet and playwright Christopher Fry, who in his play, A Sleep of Prisoners, has one of the characters say the following:

The human heart can go the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this is no winter now.
The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move.
The thunder is the thunder of the floes, the thaw, the flood,
the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now, when wrong comes up,
to face us everywhere
Never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul
men ever took.

Affairs are now soul size,

The enterprise is exploration unto God.

So that is what we are about in this age – we have chosen to be here at this time when human beings are making a massive evolutionary shift. This is a terrifying but also really exciting time to be here on Earth; and adopting a Luddite approach to emerging technology is not the required response. Steiner tells us:

“It would be the worst possible mistake to say that we should resist what technology has brought into modern life, that we should protect ourselves from Ahriman by cutting ourselves off from modern life. In a certain sense this would be spiritual cowardice. The real remedy for this is not to let the forces of the modern soul weaken and cut themselves off from modern life, but to make the forces of the soul strong so that they can stand up to modern life. A courageous approach to modern life is necessitated by world karma, and that is why true spiritual science possesses the characteristic of requiring an effort of the soul, a really hard effort”.

Alongside courage and hard effort, we also need hope, what Steiner in one of his verses refers to as “all-sustaining hope”. So here are a few reasons why, despite everything, I’m still hopeful and optimistic.

On a personal level, I’m encouraged by listening to the speakers who come here to give talks at Emerson; we have had some wonderful speakers who are alerting us to what is going on in the world and who are giving us real pointers to the future. I was particularly impressed recently by a representative of the Youth Section from Dornach, and the work that that Section is doing on a research project into young people’s attitudes towards spirituality across 23 different countries. I’m also blessed to work on these Emerson talks with some fine young colleagues. And in Liz Attwell’s inspirational talk 2 weeks ago, we heard of her intuition that it is the young people of today who are birthing a new Christ impulse. She also said that many of the dark things we are experiencing are just the inevitable flotsam and jetsam thrown up by this new impulse – and I’m sure she’s right.

Because of all this and so much more I am conscious of how lucky we are to live here and to know that Emerson College, Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch farms, Michael Hall School, Peredur, Tobias and Nutley Hall are all here. We live in an island of sanity amongst the surrounding seas of illusion and although we have some adjustments to make so that we can look the modern world square in the face (what is happening to the Waldorf schools is a case in point here), we are nevertheless strong and resolute.

And beyond our locality, I see all sorts of hopeful developments happening. Just this week, for example, we heard that an American billionaire has given £150 million to the University of Oxford to fund a new centre to look into the ethics of artificial intelligence. His name is Stephen Schwarzman and he said: “I think the scientists agree that they want AI introduced in an ethical way, because they don’t want to experience the downsides. I think this is one of the major issues of our age, because AI is going to come, it’s really unstoppable. It’s not just AI, it’s robotics and all other kinds of computer science innovations”. That echoes what Steiner said back in 1910. And on 12th June the UK government committed us to zero net emissions by 2050, which is definite progress – and there are now 18 out of 28 EU countries which have also pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2050.

I am also amused by and take pity on the idiocies of our atheistic futurologists.  Ray Kurzweil, for example, that incredibly clever man and chief futurologist of Google, is also, rather endearingly, an idiot. He believes in cryonics, which for those of you who don’t know about it, is a technique of freezing dead bodies in the hope that science in the future may find a way to bring the corpses back to life. Ray Kurzweil has booked himself a place for when he dies with a leading American cryonics company, which charges $200,000 to deep-freeze a full body or, if you’re a cheapskate, $80,000 for just a head. The process involves getting to the patient as soon as possible after clinical death has been pronounced and then cooling the body over the next few days to bring it down to -196C using nitrogen gas. Your corpse is then placed in a shiny steel capsule with a bullet-proof viewing window and stays there until the day when science has sufficiently advanced to bring you back to life. I am not making this up – this is genuinely what cryonics is about; and Ray Kurzweil has signed up for this. The poor man doesn’t realise that he is already immortal! If he’d just read Steiner and informed himself about what a human being really is, he could have saved himself $200,000!

I comfort myself with the thought that in the final analysis, Ahriman and his minions will always lose. They always lose because they lack the capacity to love or understand those who can love. Nicanor Perlas in his book repeats a story that Bernard Lievegoed says was given by Steiner in a letter to a widow. In this letter, Steiner says he saw the image of Ahriman sitting in a cave under the earth. He works. He writes things down, counting and counting, calculating and calculating. He tries to build up a whole world out of a new mathematics (and of course AI algorithms are part of the new mathematics). There, Steiner says, Michael stands beside him waiting. For Michael knows that he will make the final addition. Michael with his sword, will make the sum. The moment has not yet come. Michael is waiting, standing by the side, waiting. He can do this when people on earth are there fighting and going with him. With Uriel, we weigh up and understand; with Michael, we act without fear on the basis of that understanding. And that is the really important point – in this present age of the consciousness soul, Michael can only act if we help him to do it. But if we do, he will in turn help us to find much more positive outcomes from the extreme technologies that are threatening our existence today. So it really is up to all of us to play our part in this huge battle.

And finally, I would like to leave you with this verse of Steiner’s:

“We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes towards Man out of the future. We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensations about the future.

We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come. And we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.

It is part of what we must learn in this age, namely, to live out of pure trust, without any security in existence – trust in the ever-present help of the spiritual world.

Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us. And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves Every morning and every evening”.

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Filed under Ahriman, Artificial Intelligence, Cryonics, Evil, Futurology, Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Science, Uriel

The Evolution of the Michael Impulse

In my last post and elsewhere in this blog, I’ve written about what Steiner called the “War in Heaven” which took place between 1841 and 1879. This battle was waged between angels of the higher hierarchies and some of the spirits of darkness, and it ended with these spirits of darkness being cast down from the spiritual world to the earth. This made the heavens free of these beings but had the unfortunate effect of making the earth full of them. This has led on to what I have called the most terrible century in the whole of human history in terms of war and multiple other causes of human misery.

Why did this happen? According to Steiner, these spirits of darkness wanted to be able to prevent the spiritual wisdom, which was due to be revealed from the 20th century onwards, from flowing into human souls. Only by the removal of these hindering beings from the spiritual realm could our human hearts and minds begin to open to receive from the angels the spiritual knowledge for which we are destined – but the corollary of this was that the opposing spirits of darkness are now here on earth and in fact living within our blood and nervous systems, where they make it their business to spread confusion and to prevent human understanding of spiritual truths.

One of the consequences of this is that clear thinking by human beings is now an absolute necessity – in fact, Steiner says that with regard to what he calls “the inner necessities of evolution”, clarity of thinking is now as essential as eating and drinking are to the maintenance of physical life. Since 1879, we must actively strive for spirituality – if we desire it.

Another consequence is that human beings in their souls more and more come to resemble their thought – to resemble what they regard as knowledge. So if, for example, you are a Darwinian and believe the only possible truth to be that human beings have descended from the animals, then Steiner suggests that you will fashion a kind of consciousness for yourself in which you will perceive your own likeness to animal nature and will therefore be unable to understand the shortcomings of your conception of what it is to be a human being. Since 1879, what we think ourselves to be, that we are obliged to become.

The spirits of darkness attach particular value to the breeding of confusion among us humans, in the hope that we will fail to form correctly the thoughts and ideas into which, after death, we will be transformed. The Gods were bound to make it possible for us to become what we make of ourselves, so that we may attain full and free consciousness of the Self, and find the way that leads from the animal to the Divine – but this freedom, at a time when it was evolutionarily necessary for us to begin to realise that the soul is what it thinks itself to be, has also allowed the spirits of darkness to counter really effective thinking with untruths, eg the idea that all that remains of one who has died is what is decaying in the earth or is ashes in the urn. It really matters to our individual futures whether we, on the one hand, cherish in our souls the thought of those who have died living on in the spiritual world, or on the other hand, succumb to the atheistical notion that on death there is an extinction of consciousness and all that is left of us is something rotting in the grave.

It was the Archangel Michael who won the War in Heaven and who since 1879 has been the time spirit of our age. I have sometimes felt that Michael has placed a terrible burden on humanity by casting down the spirits of darkness to find their new dwelling-place within human beings; but in my wiser moments, I can see that this has in fact been a necessary but very difficult chapter in the evolution of human freedom. Michael himself is evolving and Steiner has spoken of this in a lecture he gave in 1913:

“At no time in human evolution have two successive epochs been so radically different from one another as that which has just run its course and the epoch upon which we are now entering (ie before and after 1879). And never before have souls been more alien to one another than will be the souls of those who incline to what is spiritual and the souls who still adhere to what past centuries have brought. Nor will it be long before those who believe they stand firmly in materialistic monism will be quite out of date in comparison with those who are earnestly seeking an understanding of super-sensible worlds. For since the last third of the nineteenth century a spiritual ‘tidal wave’ from higher worlds has been flowing into our world, and making it possible for man to understand the way in which human and world evolution are spiritually guided.

If one wants to understand the evolution of mankind, one must understand that Michael too has evolved: one must understand that it is the same Being who paved the way for the preparation of the Mystery of Golgotha, and who now in our day paves the way for the understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Then, however, he was a Folk Spirit, now he is a Time Spirit; then he was the Messenger of Jahve, now he is the Messenger of Christ. We speak of the Christ in the right way when we speak of Michael and his mission, knowing that Michael, who was formerly the bearer of the Jehovah-mission, is now the bearer of the Mission of the Christ.

That is an important Imagination, — Michael overcoming the Dragon. To receive the inflow of spiritual life into the sense world, — from now on, that is the service of Michael. We serve Michael by overcoming the Dragon that is trying to grow to his full height and strength in ideas which during the past epoch produced materialism and which now threaten to prolong their life on into the future. To defeat this means to stand in the service of Michael. That is the victory of Michael over the Dragon. It is the old picture over again, which for earlier times had another meaning and which must now acquire the right meaning for our age. When we are conscious of the part we have to play as men of a new age, then our task can stand before us in the picture of Michael conquering the Dragon.

Let us take this picture and make of it an Imagination. Let us try to understand our times through knowing ourselves to be in a spiritual guidance that is the true spiritual guidance of our age, and that can be the spiritual guidance of every human soul who is sincerely and honestly seeking evolution on the path of spiritual life.

The Adversary has found his abode in man. Michael has remained true to his nature. When man turns to Michael with that part of his life which has its origin in the higher spirituality, then there arises in the soul of man the inward fight of Michael and the Dragon.”

Michael St Michael's Church Hamburg

Michael’s victory over the Devil – from St Michael’s Church, Hamburg

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Filed under Angels, Archangel Michael, Atheism, Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner and Angels – The Potential Fall of Humans and their Angels

Part 3 of 3

Ahriman and Lucifer, the fallen angels
Interestingly, Steiner does not make a straight distinction between Good on the one hand and Evil on the other. Instead he has two poles of Evil, which he calls Lucifer and Ahriman.

Steiner saw Lucifer and Ahriman as not only forces or tendencies which affect humankind and draw us towards evil but also as actual beings. Unlike the Christ, these forces can take up their abode in our astral bodies, the seat of our desires and emotions and thus exercise a strong influence on us from within.

The head of Lucifer - a carving by Rudolf Steiner

The head of Lucifer – a carving by Rudolf Steiner

Lucifer encourages the tendency in human beings towards expansiveness, inflation, egotism, sensuality, passion, and ungrounded spirituality; Lucifer is the being who tells us that we are like the gods, knowing both good and evil, whereas Ahriman tells us that there is no God and that material reality is the only reality. Ahriman represents tendencies towards contraction, reduction, splitting, materialism, over-intellectualisation, lying, and a denial of spiritual realities; this leads to the idea that we are physical beings only. Both of these beings also play a helpful role and are in fact indispensable for human life, as the first awakens us to our freedom, while the second helps provide us with the capacity for speech and thinking. The two forces work in harmony at the present time, even though they appeal to different instincts in us. The way to deal with these two poles of Evil is to seek the balance in the middle, which is represented by Christ. However, because Ahriman can work through the seat of our desires but Christ can only work through our I or individuality, this means that the struggle is not an equal one. Our individuality has to so develop itself that it can in time learn to recognise and resist the many temptations offered by Lucifer and Ahriman. Steiner and the English sculptor Edith Maryon produced a monumental wooden carving called “Representative of Man”, which you can see in the Goetheanum at Dornach. It depicts the Christ providing the active place of balance between the opposing forces of Lucifer above and Ahriman below.

The monumental wooden statue, "Representative of Man", carved by Rudolf Steiner and Edith Maryon.

The monumental wooden statue, “Representative of Man”, carved by Rudolf Steiner and Edith Maryon.

Lucifer appeals above all to our pride and ambition, making us think that we have no limitations. Yet he is also the being who set us out on our evolutionary path to freedom. But Lucifer does not want us to be truly conscious, nor to acquire an egohood independent of himself.

In our present age, Ahriman is a greater threat to us than Lucifer. He is infinitely clever and is helping us to develop our technological civilisation. He wishes us to advance at breakneck speed, long before our individuality and moral nature are ready for such advances. He wishes to foreshorten our development so that we can never reach our true goal but only a false goal of enjoyment and endless material possessions. The scientist, the technologist and the inventor are Ahriman’s natural prey but all of us can fall victim to his temptations. Wherever there is egoism and love of power, entry is made easy for him.

While we may know of Ahriman from Persian mythology, Rudolf Steiner spoke of him as an actual, living spiritual entity. He is a being who fell behind during the Ancient Sun planetary stage. This being, he said, works to embed people firmly into physicality, encouraging dull, materialistic attitudes and a philistine, dry intellect. Steiner, in rare prophetic mode, talked about an actual incarnation of Ahriman on the earth and the potential consequences. Just as Christ incarnated in a physical body, so would Ahriman incarnate in the Western world – before ‘a part’ of the third millennium had passed. Steiner places this incarnation in the context of a ‘cosmic triad’ – Lucifer, Christ and Ahriman. Lucifer had his incarnation as the Yellow Emperor who reigned in China in the third millennium BC. Ahriman will incarnate as a counterpoint to the physical incarnation of Lucifer in the East, with the incarnation of Jesus Christ in Palestine two thousand years ago as the balancing point between the two.

The Head of Ahriman, carved in wood by Rudolf Steiner.

The Head of Ahriman, carved in wood by Rudolf Steiner.

It seems possible to me that today we are living in the time of Ahriman’s incarnation. Ahriman is the Lord of Death and his will is to materialise human thinking into dead thinking to such an extent that the soul becomes fettered to the physical body and to an ever materialised earth, effectively cutting human beings off from their spiritual home – as an Ahrimanic form of immortality. This is nothing less than a spiritual death.

His incarnation on the physical plane will intensify his influence and many of us will fall into his clutches unknowingly, because his effects work in the unconscious aspect of the human being. It will work in the human thinking through the etheric body, where the human being is not conscious.

Though it is the wish of the “good” angels that we should reach our goal, it is not pre-destined that Ahriman will be defeated, because the goal can only be reached in freedom, by us choosing to get there out of our own free will. It’s therefore clear that the possibility cannot be ruled out that humankind will succumb finally to Ahriman and other opposing forces who are gaining in strength all the time, as we see around us every day in the news and in our daily lives.

There is one even more malign aspect of Evil spoken about by Steiner and that is Sorath, the Sun Demon, who is served by both Lucifer and Ahriman. I will say nothing more about Sorath here.

Rudolf Steiner in his studio, working on the statue "Representative of Man".

Rudolf Steiner in his studio, working on the statue “Representative of Man”.

Michael
Rudolf Steiner often spoke about the great battle that occurred in the spiritual world between the spirits who are followers of Michael the Guardian of the Cosmic Intelligence, and certain ahrimanic powers. According to him the latest battle commenced around 1840 and was lost by the ahrimanic powers in the autumn of 1879. I referred in Part 1 to the Archangel Michael but strictly speaking since 1879 he should be considered as one of the archai.

We know that in 1879 these ahrimanic powers, or spirits of darkness were cast down into the physical world and a picture of this can be found in the Revelation of St John – the Angel holding the key to the bottomless pit in which he is said to imprison the dragon. Perhaps the tragic history of the 20th century is not so much the result of human folly but rather of these powers being shut out of the spiritual world and thus rampaging through the physical world, influencing the likes of Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot and their many other human agents. On present form, the 21st century is shaping up to be even worse than the previous one.

The foremost of the archai is known to us as Michael. It was his task to go on to become the guardian or administrator, one might say, of the Cosmic Intelligence. He is known in anthroposophy as the son of the Divine Sophia who is the foremost being of the hierarchy of the Spirits of Wisdom, the Kyriotetes, and whose task it is to gather up, regulate and harmonise the Cosmic
Intelligence.

What is this Cosmic Intelligence? There are many ways of describing the Cosmic Intelligence. One such way is that it is a gathering up of all the ‘conversations’ had by the hierarchies amongst themselves; their interrelationships regarding their knowledge and understanding pertaining to the being of Christ, the second logos who descended to earth and died at Golgotha. One could also call it the essence of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the mediating substance.

Rudolf Steiner tells us that at around the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, Michael began sacrificing his ‘rulership’ of the Cosmic Intelligence to human beings. And it is the third hierarchy, which is the closest to humanity insofar as it shares various soul and bodily sheaths with human beings, that has the task of helping us to take up the Cosmic Intelligence in the way intended by Michael.

But we humans have the unique privilege of freewill, so we have a choice. To quote Steiner: “Two things are possible for humankind and through this possibility our freedom is guaranteed: to turn to Christ consciously … or to wish to feel our severance from spirit existence and thus fall in the direction taken by the ahrimanic powers. Humanity has been in this situation since the beginning of the fifteenth century.”

Since 1879 Michael has taken over the spiritual guidance of human affairs. He does what he has to do in such a way that he does not thereby wield an influence over human beings; but humans may follow him in freedom, in order with the Christ-power to find the way out of that sphere of Ahriman which they were obliged to enter.

The classical image of Michael depicts him in battle with a dragon and shows him standing on the dragon and spearing it in the mouth. One way of interpreting this might be to say that what Michael is doing is showing us how to penetrate the dragon of materialism with spiritual vision and insight, so that the spirit coiled up in matter can be released.

Sir Jacob Epstein's bronze statue for Coventry Cathedral of Michael.

Sir Jacob Epstein’s bronze statue for Coventry Cathedral of Michael.

But Michael also sees how the danger of humanity succumbing to the ahrimanic powers grows greater and greater. He knows that as regards himself he will always have Ahriman under his feet; but will that always be the case with human beings?

Michael sees the greatest event in the Earth’s history taking place. He sees Christ’s descent to the Earth, so as to be here with us when the Cosmic Intelligence is handed over to human beings. Through Christ’s great sacrifice, He is now living in the same sphere in which Ahriman also lives. Humans are now able to choose between Christ and Ahriman. Should humans wish to, we will be able to find the Christ-way in the evolution of humanity. But Michael cannot force humans to do anything – it is because the Cosmic intelligence has come entirely into the sphere of the human individuality that compulsion from the spiritual world has ceased.

And herein lies our great danger. Ahrimanic spirits seek to smother human beings’ awareness of their own spirituality. They want to teach people that they are really only a perfectly developed animal. Ahriman, says Steiner, is in truth the great teacher of materialistic Darwinism. He also teaches all the technological and practical activity in Earth evolution where nothing is considered valid unless it can be perceived by the senses. His desire for us is that we should have widespread technology, plenty of material goods, entertainment media, all sorts of toys and gadgets, the aim being to kill and obscure any awareness we may have that we are an image of the godhead. This is the aim ahrimanic spirits are seeking to achieve by sophisticated scientific means in our age.

What if Ahriman succeeds? You may recall from Part 2 that Steiner said that the angels had particular work to do in inserting three impulses into our astral bodies. You remember these three impulses:

1. That no human being should be able to enjoy the peace of happiness himself if others around him were unhappy
2. That human beings should be able to perceive the divine principle operating in every other human being
3. That human beings should be able to gain irrefutable insight into the reality of the spiritual world.

The angels do this by working within our astral bodies when we are asleep at night. Steiner was speaking in 1918, but he said that if human beings are not willing to turn to life in the spirit before the beginning of the third millennium, ie in our present time, then the angels would need to work in a different way; that is by withdrawing all their work from the astral body and taking it into the etheric body. But then, Steiner says, the human being would have no part in it, as it would have to be done when humans are asleep, as of course when we are asleep we leave behind our physical and etheric bodies in the bed and take our astral body and individuality into the spiritual world.

And he says that, if this happens, the inevitable effect on human evolution would be threefold:
First, something would be engendered in human bodies which human beings could not discover in freedom.
Second, danger would threaten from certain instinctive perceptions connected with the mystery of birth and conception and with sexual life as a whole.
Third, humanity will get to know specific powers which enable them to unleash some degree of mental control over machines, a development that will take the whole of technology along disastrous channels, a state of affairs, however, that will serve human egotism extremely well and please many people.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like things that are already happening. Let’s take the second point, about the effect on our sexuality. It’s unusual for Steiner to say very much about sex but here he is clear. He says that the effect on human evolution would be that certain instincts belonging to the sexual life and to sexual nature would not come to conscious awareness in a useful way but instead would become harmful. These instincts would not be mere aberrations but would enter into the social life, configuring it. Something would enter into people’s blood as a consequence of sexual life that would above all make people go against brotherliness on Earth rather than develop brotherliness and this would be a matter of instinct.

And Steiner hints at something even worse – he says that danger will come from certain angels who themselves would undergo a change, which he says “is something I cannot speak about, for it belongs to the higher secrets of initiation which may not yet be disclosed.”

But nearly one hundred years later, I think we can say something about this, and to me what may be happening now is very frightening.

Let us go back to the War in Heaven, which started in about 1840 and was completed in 1879 with the victory of Michael over the ahrimanic beings, who were cleared out of heaven and thrust into the abyss. Now what does that mean, to be cast out of heaven and into the abyss? Where have they gone?

There is a link between our blood and the etheric body and our angels usually work in our blood and in our heart. By 1840 a number of abnormal backward angels, (these are angels with the ‘potential’ to be archangels but who have not yet reached that stage) wanted to leave the blood in order to enter into the nerves, the brain, where the normal archangels were taking up their domain. This created an obstruction, a hindrance to the flow of spiritual wisdom that was seeking to enter into the astral body. Now a battle ensued between Michael and these retarded angels, the angels of darkness. To cut a long story short, these ahrimanic angels were cast out of the nervous system into the realm of the blood again – into the abyss – by 1879. They were thrust down into the etheric body by way of the blood, which is closely connected to intellectuality and human thought. Here, in the realm of intellectual thinking, they found relief for their pain.

These beings connected to Ahriman have inspired more and more intellectualism and materialism than there has ever been before, because they thrive on it; and by way of the intellect’s relationship to the realm of Ahriman they have connected the intellect with the sub-earthly ethers, ie the realm of electricity, magnetism and atomic forces. Whether we know it or not, our etheric bodies interpenetrate these ethers all the time.

Let us recall that Michael had to surrender the Cosmic Intelligence so
that the human ego could remember it again, but this time in a free and personal way and through inner work to reconnect this intelligence with Christ.

But these spirits of darkness living in the human being and in the earth do not want this to happen: as followers of Ahriman, the antagonist of Christ, they are doing their level best to prevent us from rising up. They want to drag us down to the level of the electrical, the mechanical and atomistic – the realm of Sorath the Sun Demon – and they are making great strides forward.

As already mentioned, the angels have the task in our times of shaping images in our astral bodies at night. Our angels can only create those pictures at night, if by day we have thought, lived and spoken with integrity and morality. Only then can our angels connect us with the archangels and archai.

Steiner says: “In fact it actually depends on human beings themselves – on their attitude, on the whole way their world of feeling is disposed to the spiritual world – whether their angels accompany them when they leave their physical and etheric bodies in sleep or not…. If a person leaves his physical and etheric body in a materialistic mood, his angel would be denying his realm, his affiliation to the archangels, the archai and the exusiai if he were to accompany the human being. “

This distances us from our normal angels and draws us closer and closer to the ahrimanic angels and their offspring – the ahrimanic elemental beings. Our reproductive and sexual life is administered by the normal angels working in our blood. But for those human beings who cannot rise above materialism, not only will the dark angels take over the task of the spirits of light, but their angels, instead of rising to other tasks may, due to the influence of these dark spirits, fall even deeper than the etheric body.

What does this mean? Rudolf Steiner warns us: “We should not allow the ahrimanic powers to gain the upper hand, as it were, and we should not fall in love with them…” If this were to happen human beings would thereby, “unite spiritual progress with material progress.” This is what Rudolf Steiner called “Prostitution with Matter.”

The union of angel and man in the etheric nature of the human being, where live not only the forces of life and death, dying and becoming, but also all the unconscious desires associated with the sexual life, the life of the sensual, results in the angel ‘falling in love with matter’ through the human being, which leads to an angel’s downfall which one could call, a supra-human fall. The result
is that something thereby enters the material world that does not belong there.

Just as those human beings who today bind their egos to their physical bodies and the sub-earthly ethers, will in future times not be able to exist in a spiritualised world that has no ‘physicality’, so too do the angels of such people fall into the temptation of binding their spirit self (which sets into motion their etheric bodies), to the physical body of human beings, and not to their own etheric bodies creating not only an estrangement from spiritual worlds but also a unification of their spirit, the angel’s consciousness, with the physical world – an unlawful binding of spirit to matter by way of the human being which ultimately will prevent their future development from taking place.

When the human being falls, the right conditions are created for the human being’s angel also to fall. This corresponds to the Second Fall in the Book of Revelation, where angels fall into the realm of the physical body and ‘possess’ their human beings so that together these and the backward angels and elemental spirits that belong to them, become the hosts of Ahriman and ultimately the followers of the Sun Demon, Sorath.

So is it possible that right now the ahrimanic beings are seeking not only to reverse human evolution but also to reverse angelic evolution? If this is indeed happening, it will have huge ramifications on the future of humanity and the world.

What might this lead to? First, Rudolf Steiner warned us that, instead of a greater sense of brotherhood, the most evil sexual instincts would enter into the blood. This is surely what we are seeing today. This disconnection from the moral life signifies a separation from the angelic hierarchies and a binding to the ahrimanic mineral realm, causing an animalisation of the human being. This in turn leads to a form of unconsciousness of the feelings of others and a kind of anti-brotherhood sentiment, because the karmic ties that bind human beings are, in such cases, completely severed. Isil or the Islamic State seems to me to be a direct manifestation of this phenomenon.

Second, instead of humans having a vision of the Christ in other human beings, there will be an unconsciousness of Christ. In our time, the goal of many human beings is a sensual form of happiness without morality, and material welfare unconnected with goodness. To this end certain drugs (antidepressants, prescription drugs, alcohol, recreational drugs) have been created to dull the mind and numb the feelings and to prevent any discomfort at immoral behavior. Other drugs create the right conditions in the etheric body that will lead to an animalisation of the physical body, eg steroids, sports vitamins, food additives, mercury-based vaccines, GM foods etc. Selflessness in the etheric body is turned to its opposite – a heightened form of egoism. This estrangement from the moral world order leads us away from the Cosmic Christ and draws us closer to Sorath, his antagonist.

Is there anything we can do about this? Well, first of all, we can pray. Prayer is the most important deterrent against the forces of evil in the world today. One person working within the light is able to offset a thousand working against it. Each one of us is asked daily to send our light to the spiritual hierarchies. Due to the escalating attacks, the angelic world needs more of our light energy to help alleviate the mounting stress and to assist in the affairs of humankind. Our prayer, whether directed or in general, is the essential ingredient for the angels working on our behalf – but we have to ask for their help first. Owing to our free will, they cannot intervene until we ask. So let us determine to ask, remembering for example that Rudolf Steiner said the Lord’s Prayer every day at 3.00pm.

Second, we can try to wake up to what is going on, and to keep ourselves informed. Some of what I have been writing above has been inspired by a book called Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts or as it is sometimes known, the Michael Letters or the Michael Mystery. These leading thoughts were written by Steiner and started to appear in 1924 and continued up until his death in March 1925. I find it incredibly moving that Steiner as he was dying continued to the last to get down on paper these thoughts, which are both very profound and very clear, much clearer than he sometimes comes across in the transcripts of his lectures. It is as though he was burning himself up to the very last ounce of his physical substance, in his efforts to help us to understand the seriousness of the times we live in. And for anyone who is a member of the School of Spiritual Science, you will recall that it was Steiner’s intention that there should be three classes of the school, but he was only able to complete the lessons of the First Class before he became too ill to continue. It is my belief that the contents of the Second Class and possibly the Third Class, too, are in these Michael letters.

And third, we need to ask the angels for the gifts mentioned in the College Imagination, that is: Unity, Courage, Wisdom and the Light which is Love for one another.

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Filed under Angels, Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, School of Spiritual Science