The problem of who this astonishing individual could be has always been a mystery. No ordinary person could have achieved in his life what Steiner had done: 6,000 lectures, about 300 books, the 4 great mystery dramas; then the New Art of Eurhythmy was developed; and finally there was the building of the first Goetheanum at Dornach, near Basel in Switzerland. There was also the medical work, the agricultural work, the founding of the Waldorf School with a new impulse for handicapped children.
A Russian author, Serge Prokofiev, is devoting his life to a study of the life and works of Rudolf Steiner, and a very important book is his Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries.
From time immemorial, the human being has either been in communication with what he knew were his spiritual creators or communicated with them through priests. Temples of various kinds have been erected, and here in Wales we have stone circles, dolmens, etc. built by the Druids, marking the seasonal passage of the sun. The Spiritual Being known as the World Creator was known in ancient India as Vishvakarman; in ancient Persia as Ahura Mazdao, with Zarathustra as the great teacher of this knowledge; in Greece as Apollo, and in Biblical times, Jehovah-Christ. The temples for such teachings have always been known as Mystery Centres, and only carefully chosen individuals were admitted as pupils. No teaching was ever allowed to reach the outside world; but a modified form of the spiritual wisdom of these centres was given to the rest of the people in the form of myths, legends and fairy tales. The whole saga of King Arthur and his Round Table is a description of the quelling of the rampant evil forces (dragon and giants!) in preparation for the coming of the Christ.
Christ Himself gave His teaching in a simple form, as parables, to many people but then gave the explanations as a deeper teaching to His disciples. Much of this other knowledge concerned the mystery of the blood of Christ saved in a cup used at The Last Supper and kept by Joseph of Arimathaea. This was known as The Holy Grail and was guarded in a secret castle. King Arthur’s Knights developed into those Knights searching for The Holy Grail, which had magical and mysterious powers, for instance healing.
Among other communities teaching and guarding the inner secrets were the Templars and Cathars. These were persecuted to extinction but much of their work survives.
In the 15th Century, an individual of special capacities had been initiated into the deeper secrets of Christianity and founded a school for the study of this knowledge and for the further spiritual development of the human being. This teaching has gone on through the centuries.
Rudolf Steiner let it be known that he had been incarnated in Aristotle, with his pupil Alexander the Great, who in our time was Dr. Ita Wegman. Aristotle had the task of developing clear thinking and logic for the first time as human capacities. The campaigns of Alexander were to carry this teaching over to the east, even to India, and also down to Egypt. Steiner’s further incarnations were in Ephesus, in the great mystery temple of Diana; in Samothrace, and then as Thomas Aquinas. Here again he was developing the thinking powers towards independence of thinking, for the individual. Thomas also stressed the individual immortality and the connection with the Hierarchies and the elemental world of Nature. Steiner was then born in 1861, in Lower Austria, and he gives the story of his life in his autobiography. Here I only wish to say that from earliest childhood, he was aware of the spiritual beings surrounding us and of the elemental nature spirits pervading the whole world of nature.
When Rudolph Steiner was 18 years old, he met the individual who initiated him into the knowledge of the Spiritual Worlds, who gave him his mission in life. This was the Teacher who accompanied him throughout his life. Rudolf Steiner’s mission was in effect to transform all the wisdom and teaching of the Mystery Schools so that they can be understood and made accessible to all those human beings who wish to pursue a path of knowledge into the spiritual worlds. The soul has been in a process of developing consciousness down the centuries, from the 16th Century, it was developing wide-awake ego consciousness. Because of this, it became essential to remove the secrecy previously prevailing in the Mystery Centres. The age of the great scientific discoveries was dawning, with such great figures as Darwin and Halckel giving new pictures of evolution. But while these entirely materialistic discoveries were correct for one side of human and animal development, they totally disregarded the development of the soul and spiritual side of the human being.
In my science lessons at school, I took a violent dislike to Darwin and said to myself that his theory of evolution just wasn’t true! When I subsequently read Steiner’s teaching on the evolution of mankind and the world, I knew my instinct had been right, and now I was meeting the truth!
At Christmas and New Year, 1924, Rudolf Steiner re-founded the Anthroposophical Society. I say re-founded because, during the war years, the life and affairs of the Anthroposophical Society became completely disrupted, and in confusion. After the war, it was necessary to re-found the Society so that it could develop and grow into the new conditions of life. Delegates from all the countries which had been re-founding their own Societies on a new basis of Statutes that Steiner had drawn up, and a company of about 800 members was assembled. Steiner had found it necessary to become Chairman himself, and joined into one what had been two activities: the Society and the Anthroposophical Movement. Rudolf Steiner began the meeting by reading a long meditation, in four verses. In this was actually contained in essence all the teaching of Anthroposophy, and Steiner designated it as the Foundation Stone of the New Society. This, he said, was laid into the hearts of every single member, to give the impulse of freedom and Love to be carried forward into the next century. For the next seven days, he gave a series of lectures on World History.
At this time also, Steiner appointed the five people to be the Vorstand or Executives of the Society: Albert Steffen, President; Marie Steiner (Rudolph’s wife), Dr. Ita Wegman, Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, leader of the Mathematical and Astronomical Section, and Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth, secretary amongst other things.
During that year, Steiner gave many lecture courses, but his health was failing. After his lecture at Michaelmas 1924, he retired to his sick bed. From here he wrote weekly letters for the Society’s weekly paper. Very suddenly and quite unexpectedly, he died on March 26th, 1925.
With the fundamental difference in the pre-Christian mysteries, the coming of this Sun King, the Christ, into human earthly incarnation was foretold. The Christ fulfilled this promise at the Mystery of Golgotha, by which humanity and the universe whereby the impulse and sacrifice of Christ assured of achieving their destined goal of spiritualisation. Anthroposophy, through Rudolf Steiner, is the revealing of this mystery, both for our own and future ages.
How does one “live” Anthroposophy? It does not in any way change the course of one’s life. The same tasks have to be carried out: care of husband, children, home. But Anthroposophy teaches how it is all done – with a greater consciousness, and, for myself, always the knowledge that Karma is revealing itself in events, in children’s development, and that one’s whole attitude towards the earth matters. Steiner said at one point that we must learn to read again in the Book of Nature, and through recognising the ceaseless activities of spiritual beings throughout the nature world, one also helps in the earth’s own evolution.
The study of Anthroposophy leads one into an even deeper understanding of what is given us in the Four Gospels of the Bible, and how the teaching of Christ must become the basis of human life. This is the Path, along which one stumbles, in faith and hope and love: Faith in the truth of the teaching; hope for the future of the earth, and love for this new revolution. I felt myself strongly belonging to this Christian Impulse, united with many other members who became close friends.