Here in this 7th part, we will investigate more closely the time period in which we are now living. Let’s recall that the life-cycle of the being Philosophia first passed through the Age of Aries:
1945-1225 BC = Moon cycle (0-7). Physical body. Hebrew Patriarchs through the Exodus.
1225-505 BC = Mercury cycle (7-14). Etheric body. Exodus through Babylonian captivity.
505 BC – 215 AD = Venus cycle (14-21). Astral body. Babylonian captivity, and the flowering of Greek philosophy, through the Fourth Sacrifice (the Mystery of Golgotha), up to the beginnings of Neoplatonism.
Notice that the first two thirds of the Age of Aries are building up to, and culminate in, the last third. Within the first two hundred years of this last third, both Platonism and then Aristotelianism are born and make their indelible mark on the world. But they burn brightly and then fade away, subsumed by Roman decadence, and transplanted to Egypt and the Middle East, preserved for later times.
Then, in the last two hundred years or so of the Age of Aries, the Mystery of Golgotha occurs. The Fourth Sacrifice seems to come out of nowhere, from a totally different sphere than the world conceptions of Greek philosophy, and begins to upend and renew all European culture. While Greek philosophy—hand in hand and contemporaneous with Buddhism—represented the fullest realization of the human astral body that had been born at the time of Christ’s third sacrifice at the end of the Age of Atlantis, the Mystery of Golgotha allowed the human personality, the crown jewel of Creation, to be placed within this astral body—the birth of the distinct Ego, the “I”, the personality.
The Age of Pisces then proceeds to reconfigure what had been given as the fruit of the Age of Aries:
215-935 AD: First Sun cycle (21-28). Sentient Soul. Platonism is revisited, sublimated, Christened through Neoplatonism and the early Church Fathers.
935-1655 AD: Second Sun cycle. Intellectual Soul. Aristotelianism is revisited, sublimated, Christened through Scholasticism, the Renaissance, and the first Scientific Revolution.
This revisitation was necessary due to the fact that the human being no longer experienced world conception as a perceiving of thought, but as the product of thought-activity of the Ego. Just as thought perception, becoming more and more vivid, gradually occulted the picture-consciousness of the distant past during the Age of Aries, so now Ego experience, becoming more and more vivid, gradually occulted the objective perception of thought that was common during the Greco-Roman Era, replacing it eventually with our modern—and highly accentuated—perception of the “I” as a unique, totally subjective core of our being, which creates thoughts through thinking activity, rather than perceives thoughts as an objective aspect of reality akin to sense perception.
This is a path initially of a feeling of independence, liberation, freedom; and then doubt and skepticism; and then utter loneliness and lack of all meaning—an existential crisis en masse—unless one can discover, through inner activity, in what way the personality, the Ego, is a member of the cosmos—and not an arbitrary, but vitally necessary member. This is the mission of the Age of Pisces—to discover the place of the personal Ego in the cosmos.
During the last third of the Age of Aries, we saw the sequence: Platonism—Aristotelianism—Christianity. On the one hand, this was the fulfillment and close of the mission of the Age of Aries; but, as we have seen, it also set the stage for the mission of the Age of Pisces. We can ask ourselves: do we see something similar developing during the last third of the Age of Pisces, the time period we are exactly in the midst of? Is there something analogous to Platonism that has developed? To Aristotelianism? And what about the Mystery of Golgotha?
The equivalent to Platonism for the Age of Pisces is, in its purest form, Goetheanism. It was Goethe more than any other who experienced the Ego properly:
“Nature! We are surrounded and enveloped by her, incapable of leaving her domain, incapable of penetrating deeper into her. She draws us into the rounds of her dance, neither asking nor warning, and whirls away with us until we fall exhausted from her arms…all men are in her and she is in them…Even the most unnatural is Nature; even the clumsiest pedantry has something of her genius…We obey her laws even when we resist them; we are working with her even when we mean to work against her…Nature is everything…She rewards and punishes, delights and tortures herself…She has placed me into life, she will also lead me out of it. I trust myself to her care. She may hold sway over me. She will not hate her work. It was not I who spoke of her. Nay, it was Nature who spoke it all, true and false. Nature is the blame for all things; hers is the merit.”
“When a man’s healthy nature acts in its entirety, when he feels himself in the world as in a great, beautiful, worthy and cherished whole, when inner harmony fills him with pure and free delight, then the universe, if it could become aware of itself, would rejoice as having reached its destination and would admire the peak of its own becoming and being.”
Goethe did not express or elaborate his world-view; he lived it, for this is what is intrinsic to this world view. It has nothing anymore to do with the abstraction of the self for the sake of reflection and discursive argument; it is radically immersed into whatever is experienced, whether in the act of sensing or conceiving, until it is fully brought to life again within the Ego itself. Goethe felt the Ego to be the portion of Creation that has become aware of itself, and, along with Schiller, saw science, art, and religion merely the human being carrying on the activity of Nature consciously, whereas all that had led up to the human being was this same human activity operating unconsciously. The human Ego is Nature, aware of herself.
Whereas Platonism was a philosophical movement spearheaded by one individuality, one cannot properly say the Goethe or Goetheanism contains the whole of the Platonic equivalent of our time. It is not only Goethe but Schiller, Hegel, Fichte, Shelling, Novalis. The French and German Enlightenment, Weimer Classicism, and German and English Romanticism are all part and parcel of this grand Platonic flourishing at the beginning of this Consciousness Soul cycle of the being Philosophia.
But this Goetheanism could not last. Like Platonism, subsumed by Roman decadence, and preserved in Alexandria until a later Age, Goetheanism has been driven into the catacombs, subsumed by the modern, ultra-materialistic, Western mode of existence. And there it will remain until its time has come—more on that later.
Platonism found its partner and counterbalance in Aristotelianism in the Age of Aries. What is the modern equivalent of Aristotelianism? It seems obvious to me that this is Anthroposophy—the activity of Goetheanism vigorously and rigorously united with each and every little detail of life. We see the same contrast of seeking original wholeness in Platonism vs attending to the particulars of the present in Aristotelianism expressed in a modern form with holistic Goetheanism and thorough Anthroposophy. And just as Aristotle was so thorough in his application of philosophy to life, to the point that he left virtually zero room for development and growth of his school of thought for thousands of years, Rudolf Steiner has left us a similar banquet feast. It will take us a very long time to work through all that Rudolf Steiner has left us before we can truly, creatively, bring it to its fulfillment.
And why? Why was humanity not ready to work with Platonism and Aristotelianism until hundreds and thousands of years later? Because we weren’t actually equipped to yet. We needed the Mystery of Golgotha—we needed the Ego, provided from an entirely different cultural and spiritual stream to the Greco-Roman—in order to properly digest and work with Platonism and Aristotelianism. It is the same with Goetheanism and Anthroposophy—it was impossible to work with them properly in the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, because we were not actually equipped to do so. What is it that human beings require in order to work with Goetheanism and Anthroposophy?
What we need is manas consciousness, the Spirit-Self of the human being, which experiences the world in living, imaginative pictures. In other words, what we require is the return, in full consciousness of the picture consciousness which, between the Atlantean cataclysm and the rise of Greek philosophy, entirely faded. That is, this picture-consciousness must return without occulting the experience of the independent Ego. We descended into the Hell of the completely isolated and dark Ego—now comes the freeing of the prisoners and the Resurrection out of the tomb.
And here we come to the modern equivalent of the Mystery of Golgotha. Whereas that event—the Fourth Sacrifice of Jesus and Christ—involved Archangel Jesus sacrificing his astral body for the sake of the birth of the Ego, in our time the Archangel Jesus sacrifices his ego for the sake of the birth of our Manas Consciousness. This presents itself as a kind of “swooning” in the spiritual world. The Archangel Jesus has become a being with a twilight-consciousness, who can only awaken at the direct request of human beings who have become aware of his activity. As Valentin Tomberg states in a lecture given in Rotterdam in January, 1939:
“An angel loses consciousness in the world of spirit; in selflessness, he sacrifices himself to humankind in such a way that his consciousness can be rekindled only when it lights up in the inner human being, in the conscience. It lights up in human beings when the angel’s astral body [higher astral = Manas], streaming down to earth, is received. This angel’s ether body [higher etheric = Buddhi] will remain an empty cup and able to receive the Christ, who will move through space in the form of that angel—the same angel with whom he was already connected four times before during his previous sacrifices. Thus, first, the consciousness of the angel is lost, somewhat like fainting spiritually. And on Earth, humankind’s moral life must be quickened as a means of preparation. There must be awareness of this moral stream that flows down. It will resurrect in human consciousness only when the deep-seated moral questions of human beings come to meet it.”
In the next section, we will try to understand what the equivalent in the Age of Pisces was to the Hebrew stream in the Age of Aries, and along with this, what marked the culmination of this stream in the 20th century in relation to the Fifth Sacrifice, Christ’s return in the etheric. We will also look to the future, to see when and where we might experience the fulfillment of Goethenism and Anthroposophy, the modern forms of Platonism and Aristotelianism.
Alongside of this, we will return to looking at the Sacrifices of Jesus and Christ from the point of view of religious rite and preparation for the developing members of the human being (Buddhi and Atman).