Steiner Online Library Spiritual Science for Human Evolution

The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls
GA 121

1. Angels, Folk Spirits, Time Spirits: their part in the Evolution of Mankind

7 June 1910, Oslo

It affords me great pleasure to speak at greater length for the third time to our friends in Norway and I should like to say briefly, in response to the cordial greetings of our friend Mr. Eriksen, that I reciprocate them in an equally cordial and heartfelt manner.

I hope that the course of lectures, which I am about to undertake, will contribute in some degree to the general understanding of Anthroposophy. In the course of these lectures I should like to draw your attention to the fact that they must of necessity incorporate much that touches upon the fundamental truths of Spiritual Science and, at the same time, something that, as yet, is rather remote from man's thinking today. I therefore beg especially those of our friends who are less familiar with the wider questions of Anthroposophy to bear in mind that we should not make progress in our field of investigation if, from time to time, we did not repeatedly take a great leap forward into those regions of spiritual knowledge which are really somewhat remote from the thinking, feeling and perception of man today.

From this point of view it will sometimes be necessary to ask you to accept what I shall have to say with a certain amount of good-will, since to provide the necessary evidence and proof for my statements in the forthcoming lectures would demand more time than I have at my disposal. We should not break new ground in this sphere if I did not appeal to a modicum of good will in you and to your sympathetic spiritual understanding. Indeed the province we touch upon here is one which hitherto has been more or less eschewed particularly by occultists, mystics and theosophists, and has been eschewed for the very reason that greater objectivity is necessary if we are to accept the information I propose to offer without occasionally arousing a certain degree of opposition.

Perhaps the implications of this will be best understood if you recall that at a certain stage of mystic or occult development one is called a ‘homeless man’. This is a technical expression. And if we wish to characterize without further ado — since we are not discussing the path of knowledge — what we understand by the term ‘homeless man’ we may briefly say that a ‘homeless man’ is one whose understanding and grasp of the great laws of humanity cannot be influenced by whatsoever a person acquires through association with his native country. Furthermore, a ‘homeless man’ is one who is able to identify himself with the great laws of human evolution without allowing the particular shades of feeling and sentiment associated with his native country to colour his outlook. It follows then that a certain degree of maturity in mystical and occult development demands an unprejudiced attitude towards our heritage that we justifiably consider to be an inestimable boon and which, on the other hand, in relation to the individual human life, we describe as the mission of the individual Folk Spirits who, by drawing upon the hidden roots and the spirit of the individual peoples make their individual concrete contributions to the collective mission of humanity.

We propose therefore to describe this heritage from which the ‘homeless man’ must liberate himself to some extent. Now the ‘homeless men’ of all times, from primeval ages down to our own day, have always known that if they were to describe in detail the state of homelessness they would meet with little understanding. In the first place the voice of prejudice would reproach them for having severed their connection with their native soil, for having sacrificed their heritage. This is not so, however. In reality, homelessness is, or may be, a detour, so that, once this sanctuary, the state of homelessness, has been reached, the ‘homeless man’ may rediscover the quintessence of the folk and achieve a harmonious relationship with the stable element in the evolution of mankind. From the outset it is necessary to draw attention to this. On the other hand, we have every reason, especially at the present time, to speak quite impartially about the mission of the individual, Folk Souls. Just as it was justifiable to maintain complete silence about their mission hitherto, so it is in order today to begin to speak of this mission. It is particularly important because the destiny of mankind in the near future will bring men together in far greater measure than has hitherto been the case in order to fulfil a mission common to all mankind. But the members of the individual peoples will only be able to offer their proper, free and positive contributions if they have, above all, an understanding of their ethnic origin, an understanding for what we might call “the self-knowledge of the folk”. The injunction “Know thyself!” played an important part in the Apollonian Mysteries of ancient Greece. In the not too distant future the following injunction will be addressed to the Folk Souls: “Know yourselves as Folk Souls.” This maxim will have a certain significance for the activity of mankind in the future.

Now in our age it is particularly difficult to admit the existence of Beings who are inaccessible to sense perception. Today, however, we may be more prepared to acknowledge that certain members of man's being are super-sensible and invisible. The idea that beings such as man, who at least in their external aspect can be apprehended physically, may also have invisible, super-sensible members will be more readily accepted by the modern materialist outlook. But it is asking a great deal of our present age to believe in the existence of beings who, from the ordinary point of view, have no reality. For what is meant by the term Folk Soul or Folk Spirit which one hears from time to time? At best it is something that is acknowledged to be a common characteristic peculiar to hundreds and millions of people concentrated in a certain geographical area. It is difficult to persuade the man of today that, in addition to the teeming millions in this area, a living reality exists there, a reality that he would find to be identical with the conception of the Folk Spirit and which underlies this conception. If we were to ask — to take a case that is non-controversial — what do we understand today by the Swiss Folk Spirit, we would describe in abstract terms a few characteristics peculiar to the people inhabiting the Swiss regions of the Alps and Jura. It would be perfectly clear to us that this description bears no relation to anything that might be known through external cognition. The first steps towards the understanding of this living reality is the frank admission that it is possible to envisage the existence of real Beings who are not immediately perceptible to the senses; that there exist amongst the beings perceptible to the senses other Beings invisibly at work, who express themselves through visible beings just as the human being expresses himself through his fingers and hands. We may therefore speak of a Swiss Folk Spirit in the same way as we speak of the Spirit of a man. We can just as clearly distinguish between the Spirit of man and his ten fingers which are organs of this Spirit as we can distinguish the Swiss Folk Spirit from the millions of people living in the mountains of Switzerland. The Folk Spirit is something quite different from the people, but nevertheless a spiritual Being, just as man himself is a spiritual being. The difference between man and the Folk Spirit is that man's external form is known through the medium of the senses. Whilst the human being is known through sense-perception, a Folk Spirit has no external manifestation; it is not something that can be known through sense-experience or sensory impressions and yet it is unmistakably a real Being.

Today we shall endeavour as far as possible to form an idea of such a Being. How do we proceed in Spiritual Science if we wish to form an idea of a real Being? I propose to illustrate this by a characteristic example. First, we study the being of man. From the point of view of Anthroposophy we distinguish the physical body, etheric body, astral or sentient body and ‘I’ or ego which we look upon as the highest member. We know therefore that the man of the present day consists of these bodies. Now you already know that we look forward to an evolution of mankind in the future and that the ego works upon the three lower members of the human being, spiritualizes them and transmutes them from the present lower form into the higher form of the future. The ego will transmute the astral body into Manas or Spirit Self, so that it becomes something different from what it is today. In the same way, at a higher level, the ego will refashion and transmute the etheric or life-body into Life Spirit or Buddhi. Finally the highest achievement of man that we can envisage at present is the spiritualisation of the physical body, the most intractable member of his being. When our present physical body, the densest and most material member, is transmitted into Atma or Spirit Man it will be the highest member of man's being. Thus we are familiar with three members of the human organism which were developed in past epochs, the organism in which we are at present incarnated and three others which the ego will fashion into something new in the future.

Between the initial development of the higher members in the past and their further development in the future there lies an intermediate stage. We know that we must think of the ego itself as inwardly organized. The ego works upon a kind of intermediate being. Therefore, between the astral body which man has inherited from the past and the Spirit Self or Manas which he will fashion out of the astral body in the distant future, there are the three preparatory members; the Sentient Soul, the lowest member in which the ego has already worked, the Intellectual or Mind Soul and the Spiritual or Consciousness-Soul. But very little of Spirit Self or Manas that we are in process of developing is present in man today, at most only the first indications. On the other hand ‘ man has laid the foundations of this future development by having learnt to control his three lower members to some extent. He learned to control the astral body by permeating it with his ego and forming the Sentient Soul within it. Just as the Sentient Soul stands in a certain relationship to the sentient body, so does the Intellectual Soul or Mind-Soul to the etheric body, so that the Intellectual or Mind-Soul is a feeble foreshadowing of what the Life Spirit or Buddhi will be — a feeble foreshadowing, it is true, but none the less a foreshadowing. And in the Spiritual Soul (or Consciousness-Soul) the ‘I’ has worked down into the physical body to a certain extent. Therefore the Spiritual Soul is a feeble foreshadowing of what will one day be Spirit Man or Atma. Thus, apart from the limited transformation of his astral body which he has already achieved as a first step towards the development of Spirit Self or Manas, we recognize in man today four different members. We can distinguish:

  • the physical body,
  • the etheric body,
  • the astral body,
  • the ego that works within them, and further as a foreshadowing of the higher members:
    • the Sentient Soul,
    • the Intellectual or Mind-Soul,
    • the Spiritual Soul or Consciousness-Soul.

Such is man as we know him today; such is our understanding of man at the present stage of his evolution. We clearly see the ego fashioning the higher members after the Sentient, Intellectual and Spiritual Souls have already prepared the ground. We see the ego working with the forces of the Sentient, Intellectual and Spiritual Souls upon the astral body, upon the embryo of Spirit Self. We see man participating in this stage of his development.

Those of you — no doubt the majority of you — who have concerned yourselves with researches into the Akashic Record, with the evolution of man in the primeval past and the prospect for the distant future, will know that man, such as I have portrayed him in the brief sketch I have given you, has evolved. We can look into a distant past when man required long epochs of time for his evolution in order to prepare the foundations, first for his physical body, then for the etheric body and finally for the astral body, and then to develop these three members further. You will also be aware, no doubt, that man did not complete the earlier evolution of his being, the evolution of his astral body, for example, at a time when the Earth was in the same condition as it is today, but that he developed his astral body in an earlier Earth cycle, the Old Moon epoch. Just as we recognize that our present life is the consequence of earlier incarnations, so too do we realize that the Earth itself has known earlier incarnations. The Sentient Soul and the Intellectual Soul were first created during our present Earth epoch, the astral body during the epoch of the Old Moon, the etheric body in a still earlier stage, that of the Old Sun, and the physical body during ancient Saturn. Thus we look back to three incarnations of the Earth and in each of these incarnations we see one of the members which man bears within him today implanted first as a seed and then perfected further.

In speaking of Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon conditions another factor must be borne in mind. We human beings (on Earth) are now living through the stage of self-consciousness which other Beings under-went during the earlier stages of our Earth-evolution, the stages of Old Moon, Old Sun and Old Saturn. It is immaterial whether we adopt the terminology of the East or the more familiar terminology of the West in order to describe these Beings. Those Beings who underwent their human stage on Old Moon and who therefore are one stage above Man were called in Christian esoteric terminology, Angeloi or Angels. They are one stage higher than man because they completed their stage of human evolution one epoch earlier. Their mode of existence on the Old Moon differed from that of man on Earth today. They were Beings at the human stage, but were not incarnated in a physical body. Their stage of evolution corresponded to the human stage which man is experiencing today. In the same way we find Beings of a higher order who underwent their human stage on the Old Sun. These Beings are the Archangeloi or Archangels who are two stages beyond man and who underwent their human stage two epochs earlier. If we go still further back to the first incarnation of our Earth-existence, to Old Saturn, we find that those Beings whom we called the Spirits of Personality or Archai underwent their human stage on Old Saturn. If we take our starting-point from those Beings who were men in the primeval past, on Old Saturn, and follow the incarnations of the Earth down to our own time, we have a picture of the stages of evolution of the various Beings down to the present day. To summarize: the First Beginnings, the Archai, were men on Old Saturn, the Archangels or Archangeloi were men on Old Sun, the Angels or Angeloi were men on Old Moon and men are men on our Earth.

Since we know that we continue our evolution into the future and that we further develop our present astral body, etheric or life-body and our physical body, the question arises: is it not equally natural that the Beings who have already experienced the human stage have now reached the stage when they are transmuting their astral body into Spirit Self or Manas? Just as during the next incarnation of the Earth, the Jupiter stage, we shall complete the transmutation of our astral body into Spirit Self or Manas, so the Angeloi who underwent the human stage on Old Moon have completed the transmutation of their astral bodies into Spirit Self or Manas, or will do so during our Earth evolution, a stage that we shall first have to undergo in the next incarnation of the Earth. If we look still further back to the Beings who underwent the human stage on Old Sun, we realize that they already experienced on Old Moon the stage we shall have to experience for the first time in the next incarnation of the Earth. They are performing the work which will be the prerogative of man when, in his ego, he transmutes his etheric or life-body into Life Spirit or Buddhi. These Archangels, therefore, are Beings who are two stages beyond man; they have reached the stage that will one day be ours when from within our ego, we shall transform the life-body into Life Spirit or Buddhi. When we contemplate these Beings, we recognize them as Beings who are two stages beyond ourselves, who foreshadow what we ourselves will experience in the future; they are Beings who are now working upon their etheric or life-body and are transmuting it into Life Spirit or Buddhi. In the same way we are aware of yet higher Beings, the Spirits of Personality (Archai). They are at a still higher stage than the Archangels, a stage which man will reach in a still more distant future when he will be able to transmute his physical body into Atma or Spirit Man.

As surely as man is at the present stage of development, so surely are these higher Beings at the respective stages of development which I have just characterized. We doubt their reality as little as we doubt their superiority to ourselves. Now this reality is not unrelated to our life on Earth; it penetrates into it and acts upon it. The question now is: what form does the activity of these higher Beings take? In order to understand this, we must bear in mind that from a spiritual aspect the activity of such Beings will be different from that of man today. Indeed there is a considerable difference between these Beings who are higher than man and those who are now only at the human stage. Strange as this may seem, it will become perfectly clear to you in the course of the following lectures. True spiritual investigation shows that man, such as we know him today, is, to a certain extent, at an intermediate stage of his existence. His ego will not always work upon his lower vehicles in the same way as it does today. The whole human entity at the present time is to some extent an interrelated whole and forms, as it were, an unbroken unity. This situation will be considerably modified in the future evolution of mankind. When ultimately man will have developed so far that he will be able to work upon his astral body in full consciousness and, by means of his ego, transmute his astral body into Spirit Self or Manas, then he will experience in full consciousness a condition akin to the unconscious or subconscious state of man during sleep.

Consider for a moment the condition of man in sleep. His astral body and ego relinquish his physical and etheric bodies which he leaves behind in the bed, and float outside them. Now imagine that in this condition man awakens to self-consciousness, that he is as fully conscious in his spiritual body as in his waking life. How remarkable would be man's impression of himself! At one moment he would feel: “Here am I; below me, perhaps some distance away, are lying my physical and etheric bodies which are part of me, whilst I with my other members am floating outside and above them.” If, at the present time, man becomes conscious in his astral body, i.e. outside his physical and etheric bodies, then he is limited to the free and random movements of his astral body and can be active in the world independently of his physical body, activities which are denied to his physical and etheric bodies. In the distant future, however, he will be able to direct them from outside — for example, from a place in the north of Europe to some other place; he will be able to command their movements and direct them externally. That is not yet possible at present, but it will be a possibility when he has evolved from the stage of Earth-evolution to that of Jupiter, the next stage in the evolution of man. We shall then feel that we can direct ourselves from without. That is the essential step. And this implies a transformation of man's present condition. Here materialistic consciousness is at a loss. It is unable to realize that the spiritual activities now at work to some extent in the external world will also be active within the human being at some future time.

Such phenomena exist already and man could perceive them if only he would give heed to them. He would then see that there are certain entities, for example, who have developed prematurely. Just as man, if he waits for the appropriate moment, will attain the Jupiter state at the right time so that he will then be able to direct his physical and etheric bodies, so there are beings who in a certain respect have developed prematurely. Such prematurely developed beings are to be found amongst the birds, especially the migratory birds. Here we have an example of the group-soul to which the etheric body of each individual bird is related. Just as the group-soul directs the regular migrations of birds, so will man, after he has developed Spirit Self or Manas, command his physical and etheric bodies; he will control and direct them. He will do this in a still higher sense from without when he has so far perfected himself that he is still in the process of transmuting his etheric or life-body. The Beings who can already do this today are the Archangels or Archangeloi. They are Beings who can already do what man will be able to do some day, Beings who are able to compass what is called ‘directing the physical and etheric bodies from without’, but who are able at the same time to work upon their own etheric body.

Try to form an idea of Beings living and working as it were with their ego in the spiritual atmosphere of our Earth, whose ego has already transformed the astral body and who with their fully developed Spirit Self or Manas continue to work on our Earth and into human beings, transforming our etheric or life body; Beings who are themselves at the stage of transmuting their etheric or life-body into Buddhi or Life Spirit. If you imagine such Beings who are at the Archangel stage among the spiritual Hierarchies, you will then have an idea of what are called the “Folk Spirits”, the directing Folk Spirits of the Earth. The Folk Spirits belong to the rank of the Archangels or Archangeloi. We shall see how they, for their part, direct their own etheric or life-body, and how they thereby work down into mankind and thus draw mankind into the sphere of their own activity. If we survey the various peoples on Earth and select out individual examples, then we see in the life and activity of these peoples, in the characteristic attributes peculiar to these peoples, a reflection of what we regard as the mission of the Folk Spirits.

When we recognize the mission of these Beings — for they are inspirers of the nations — we are then able to say what a nation really is. A nation is a homogeneous group of people directed by one of the Archangels. All that the individual members of a nation perform or undertake is inspired by them, i.e. the Archangels. Hence if we can conceive that these Folk Spirits, like human beings, betray individual differences, we shall have no difficulty in understanding that the individual peoples reflect the Particular mission of their individual Archangels. If we have a Clear mental picture of how in the history of the world nation succeeds nation, how peoples work side by side, we can then imagine, at least theoretically — and we shall have more and more concrete evidence in the following lectures — how all these changing circumstances are inspired by these spiritual Beings. But at the same time it will be clear to us that, in addition to this activity of successive peoples, something else takes place in human evolution. In the period of time which we reckon from the beginning of the great Atlantean catastrophe and which so completely changed the face of the Earth that the continent which lay between the Africa, America and Europe of today was submerged, one can distinguish the epochs of the post-Atlantean cultures — the old Indian, the Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, the Graeco-Latin and our present culture which in the course of time will pass over into the sixth cultural epoch. We also realize that various inspirers of the peoples have successively been at work in these civilizations. We know that the Egypto-Chaldean civilization continued long after the Greek civilization had begun, and that this in its turn perished after the birth of the Roman Civilization. We are in a position therefore to observe the coexistence and continuity of the peoples.

But in addition to the evolution of the peoples and all that is associated with their evolution, a progressive evolution of mankind takes place. Whether we consider one particular civilization to be superior to another is of no consequence. To express a preference for the old Indian culture is a matter of personal opinion. But he who is not swayed by personal opinions will be indifferent to value judgments. Human progress follows ineluctably upon the necessary course of events, although some may later regard this as a decline. When we compare the various periods, 5,000 BC, 3,000 BC and AD 1,000 we are aware of the existence of something that transcends the Folk Spirits, something in which the several Folk Spirits participate. You can observe this at the present time. How is it that so many persons are able to sit together in this hall, people who have come here from many different countries and who understand each other or try to understand each other when they touch upon vital questions that have brought them together here? They come from the spheres of activity of widely different Folk Spirits and yet they have some common ground of understanding. In the same way various people were able to understand one another in Atlantean times because in every age there is something that transcends the Folk Soul, which can bring the various Folk Souls together, something that is more or less universally understood. This is the Zeitgeist or Time Spirit, the Spirit of the Age, to use an unfortunate term which is in common usage. Each epoch has its particular Zeitgeist; the Zeitgeist of the Greek epoch is different from that of our own age. Those who understand the Spirit today are drawn towards Spiritual Science. It is this Spirit which, reflecting the Spirit of the Age, transcends the individual Folk Souls. At the time when Christ Jesus appeared on Earth, His forerunner John the Baptist characterized the Spirit, which might be described as Zeitgeist, in these words: “Repent, change your mental attitude, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Thus for every epoch we can discover the Spirit of the Age, which is something that permeates the activity of the Folk Spirits, an activity we have already described as the activity of the Archangels. To the materialist of today the Spirit of the Age is an abstraction, devoid of reality; still less would he be prepared to accept the Spirit of the Age as an authentic entity. Nevertheless the term ‘Spirit of the Age’ conceals the existence of a real Being, who is three stages above man. It conceals the identity of the Beings, the Archai, who underwent their human stage on Old Saturn and who at the present time are working from the spiritual aura of the Earth at the transformation of the Earth and are thus undergoing the last stage in the transformation of their physical body into Spirit Man or Atma. We are here dealing with exalted Beings and the contemplation of their attributes might well overwhelm us. They are the Beings who might be described as the inspirers — or if we choose to use the technical expression of occultism — the “intuitors” of the Spirit or Spirits of the Age. They work in such a way that they take over from one another and mutually support each other. From epoch to epoch they pass on their mission to their successor. The Spirit of the Age who was active in the Greek epoch handed on his mission to his successor, and so on. As we have already observed, there are a number of such Time Spirits, of such Spirits of Personality who work as Spirits of the Age. These Spirits of Personality, these inspirers of the Spirit of the Age, are of a higher order than the Folk Spirits. In every epoch one of these Spirits of Personality is predominant and sets his seal upon the whole epoch, assigns to the Folk Spirits their specific tasks, so that the whole spirit of the epoch is determined by the special or individual characteristics of the Folk Spirit. Then, in the following epoch, another Spirit of Personality, another of the Archai, takes over.

After a certain number of epochs have elapsed, a Spirit of the Age has evolved further. We must picture this in the following way: when we die, having completed our present stage of evolution, our personality transmits the achievements of this Earth-life to the next Earth-life. The same holds good for the Spirits of the Age. In each Age we have one such Spirit of the Age, and at the end of the epoch he hands over to his successor, who, in his turn, hands over to his successor, and so on. The earlier Spirits, meanwhile, continue their own development. Then the original Spirit takes over again, so that in a later epoch, whilst the others are proceeding with their own evolution, he takes over again and infuses intuitively into mankind what he himself has acquired for his higher mission, for the benefit of the more developed humanity. We look up to these Spirits of Personality, to these Beings who may be characterized by the somewhat colourless term ‘Spirit of the Age’. Now we human beings pass from incarnation to incarnation; but we know for certain that, whilst we ourselves progress from epoch to epoch, when we look into the future, we see ever different Spirits of the Age determining events on Earth. But our Spirit of the Age will return too and we shall meet him once again. Because a characteristic feature of these Spirits of Personality is to perform cyclic revolutions and return to their starting-point, they are therefore called “Spirits of Cyclic Periods”. (We shall justify the use of this expression by giving further details later.) These higher Spiritual Beings then who issue their commands to the Folk Spirits are also called Spirits of Cyclic Periods. We are here referring to those cyclic periods which man himself has to go through when from epoch to epoch he returns to earlier conditions and repeats them in a higher form. Now this repetition of the characteristics of earlier forms may surprise you. If you examine carefully the stages of man's evolution on Earth in the light of Spiritual Science, you will find that these occurrences recur in many different forms. Thus the seven consecutive epochs following upon the Atlantean catastrophe which we call the post-Atlantean culture-epochs, are a repetition. The Graeco-Latin epoch marks the turning point in our cycle and will not therefore be repeated. This stage is followed by a repetition of the Egypto-Chaldean epoch in our own age. This will be followed by a repetition of the Persian epoch, but in a somewhat different form. Then will follow the seventh epoch which will be a repetition of the ancient Indian civilizations the epoch of the Holy Rishis, so that in this coming epoch certain aptitudes which had been implanted in ancient India will reappear in a new form. The direction of these occurrences devolves upon the Spirits of the Age.

In order that, distributed amongst the various peoples of the Earth, the progressive development of successive epochs may be realized, in order that the widely differing ethnic types may be moulded by a particular geographical area or community of language, in order that a particular form — language, architecture, art or science may flourish and their various metamorphoses receive all that the Spirit of the Age can pour into mankind — for this we need the Folk Spirits, who, in the hierarchy of higher Beings, belong to the Archangels.

Now we require yet another intermediary agent between the higher missions of the Folk Spirits and those beings here on Earth who are to be inspired by them. You will readily perceive at least theoretically at first, that the mediator between the two different kinds of Spirits is the Hierarchy of the Angels. They are the intermediaries between the single human being and the Archangel of the folk. In order that the individual may receive into himself that which the Folk Spirit has to pour into the whole people, in order that the single human being may be instrumental in fulfilling the mission of his people, this intermediary agent between the human being and the Archangel of his people is indispensable.

Thus we have looked up to the Beings who attained their human stage three stages above man and have noted how they placed themselves consciously at the service of mankind and influenced our Earth-evolution. In the next lecture we propose to show how far the activity of the Archangels working down from above, from within their Ego which has already developed Manas or Spirit Self and is perfecting the etheric or life-body of man, is expressed in the achievements, attributes and character of a people.

Man is directly associated with the work of the higher Beings, for, as a member of a nation, he is an integral part of it. It is true that man is, in the first place, an individual, a creation of his Ego being; but he is not only an individual, he is also a member of a particular people, something over which, as an individual, he has no control. As a member of a particular people the individual has no choice but to speak the language of his people. He does not acquire this by his own efforts, it does not stem from his individual initiative, it is the legacy of his inheritance. Individual human progress is something totally different. As we watch the life and activity of the Folk Souls, we must bear in mind what is involved in the progress of man and what is demanded of him in order to achieve it. We shall see what determines not only his own particular development but also the development of wholly different Beings.

Thus we see how man is integrated into the ranks of the Hierarchies, how, from age to age, from epoch to epoch, Beings whom we already know from another aspect, cooperate in his evolution, And we have seen how opportunities are provided for these Beings to express themselves in a variety of ways peculiar to themselves and that what they have to offer can be imparted to man.

The guiding principles of the several epochs are determined by the Time Spirits (Zeitgeister). The single folk-individualities are responsible for disseminating the Spirit of the Age over the whole Earth. Whilst the Time Spirits inspire the Folk Spirits, the Angels act as mediators between the Folk Spirit and the single human beings, so that these individuals may fulfil the mission of the Folk Spirits. One of the purposes of these lectures will be to show how this wonderful pattern reveals the working of the various folk-individualities, past and present. In the next lecture we shall begin to throw light upon how this pattern is woven which we have indicated only sketchily today, that spiritual pattern which represents our immediate destiny in the world.

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"You can see from this, my dear friends, what mischief will be set on foot if the truths of Spiritual Science are withheld. For man will be exposed to the forces of evil, and he will only be protected from it by giving himself up to the spiritual life of the good. To withhold the spiritual life of goodness from men is to be no friend to humanity. Whoever does this, be he Freemason or Jesuit, is no friend to humanity. For it means handing men over to the forces of evil. And there may be a purpose in doing so. This purpose may be to confine goodness to a small circle, in order by the help of this goodness to dominate the helpless humanity who are thus led by evil into the follies of life."

—Rudolf Steiner,
Spiritual Science Notes On Goethe's Faust, Vol. II, No. 273-8.

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