We have now caught up, more or less, to the present time. At the end of part seven, we saw that, during the Age of Aries (the first three life cycles of Philosophia, from 1946 BC – 215 AD), the organization of the astral body which had begun at the end of the Age of Atlantis due to the sacrifice of the etheric body of the Archangel Jesus reached its fulfillment. This expressed itself historically in the disappearance of pictorial consciousness, which was replaced by “thought-perception.” These thought-perceptions came to full expression first in the Platonic school (which sought the highest origin in the One through a kind of “vertical memory”) and then in the Aristotelian school (which sought the expression of this One in the multiplicity through precise horizontal perception).
However, the thought streams of these two schools died out in their homeland, being preserved primarily in the Alexandrian schools and in the Middle East through the travels of Alexander the Great. They had nowhere to go: they required something more on the part of the human being in order to be properly worked with, and therefore had to wait for a future age to truly integrate themselves into human culture.
In the Greco-Roman lands, philosophical perception gave way to absolute sensual decadence on the one hand, and the rigid strictness of Roman law on the other. In the midst of this downfall of civilization came the event of the fourth sacrifice of Christ and Jesus: the Mystery of Golgotha. This sacrifice precipitated out the human personality (the concrete Ego) from the admixture of atman, buddhi, manas, and Ego that had prevailed prior to this event. It was this Ego that was the necessary implement for working with the Platonic and Aristotelian worldviews in a truly practical, widespread way.
The Ego had been gestating, developing, ever since it had been germinated at the time of the first sacrifice of Jesus and Christ, around the time of Cain and Abel. This sacrifice of Jesus’s Ego allowed for the organizing and precipitation of the material, physical body, yet planted the seed for the eventual birth of the Ego in each human being. The ancient Hebrew sacrifice was the rite which accompanied this development, from Abel’s sacrifice through the Last Supper.
At the same time, this fourth sacrifice planted the seed for the eventual unfolding of the highest member of the human being: atman, the resurrection body, the transformed physical body. The establishment of the Eucharist at the time of the Last Supper is a rite which accompanies this development of the highest in the human being, a rite which will accompany humanity through to the end of its earthly incarnations in the Anglo-American epoch.
And so since the end of the Age of Aries and the Mystery of Golgotha in particular, we have had a two-fold development of human culture. On the one hand, with the coming-to-birth of the personal Ego, humanity became ever more equipped to grapple with the Greco-Roman worldviews in an experiential way, recreating the thoughts out of their own inner activity, rather than perceiving the thoughts as a finished objective reality approaching from “without” so to speak. As humanity felt the presence, the loneliness, of the individual Ego more and more strongly over the course of the Age of Pisces (right up into the present), the more this could occur. And so the first third of the Age of Pisces sees the full integration of Platonism into Christian, European culture; the second third of the Age of Pisces sees the full integration of Aristotelianism into Christian, European culture.
At the same time, the rite of the Eucharist splinters into several streams of Orthodoxy. Between 431-451 AD, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Church of the East split off from each other and from the main trunk of Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church. About 500 years later, the Eastern Orthodox Churches split off from this main trunk during the East-West Schism of 1054 AD. Another 500 years later, at the passing of the Act of Supremacy in 1534 which established the King of England as the head of the Church of England rather than the Pope, a third split from the main trunk occurred (simultaneous with the enormous fracturing of the Protestant Revolution).
So, over the first two-thirds of the Age of Pisces, more-or-less four separate Orthodoxies developed: Roman Catholicism in Europe (and eventually South America); Oriental Orthodoxy in Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East; Eastern Orthodoxy in the Slavic and Russian nations; and Anglicanism in the English speaking nations. (Needless to say, the dozens of Protestant denominations make their way into virtually the entire globe in the years since the 16th century).
And so the years 215-1655 AD, the fourth and fifth life cycles of the being Philosophia, set the stage for a flourishing of the Ego in the last third third of the Age of Pisces (1655-2375 AD) analogous to the flourishing of the astral body at the time of Plato and Aristotle. This flourishing came in the form of Goetheanism and German Idealism in the late 18th/early 19th century (equivalent of Platonism) and Anthroposophy in the late 19th/early 20th century (equivalent of Aristotelianism). And similar to Platonism and Aristotelianism thousands of years earlier, these cultural pinnacles in the experience of the individual Ego were cast to the four winds, and forgotten in the decadent materialism, rigid legalism, and suicidal technophilia of the 20th century. They require a concrete capacity that the human being has yet to fully integrate: manas consciousness, the gift of the Etheric Christ. They will not fully develop for thousands of years.
At the end of the Age of Aries, we have the progression: Platonism—Aristotelianism—Christianity. What is the equivalent in our time? Let’s take a step back, and look at the difference between cultural ages and zodiacal ages. The cultural ages, according to Rudolf Steiner, progress from: Indian epoch (7227-5067 BC) to Persian epoch (5067-2907 BC), to Egyptian epoch (2907-747 BC), to Greco-Roman epoch (747 BC – 1414 AD), to Central European epoch (1414-3574 AD, the one in which we now live). On the other hand, the zodiac ages run from the Age of Cancer (8426-6266 BC) to the Age of Gemini (6266-4106 BC), to the Age of Taurus (4106-1946 BC), to the Age of Aries (1946 BC – 215 AD), to the Age of Pisces (215-2375 AD, the one in which we now live). For more information as to why there is a lag between zodiacal age and cultural age, consult the work of Robert Powell, e.g. Hermetic Astrology vol I.
Plato and Aristotle arose out of ancient Greek culture. They are the representative products and producers of “Greco-Roman” culture. However, Jesus Christ and Christianity, the third in the progression “Platonism—Aristotelianism—Christianity”, does not emerge from or fit into Greco-Roman culture. It is the end result of the ancient Hebrew culture. This culture was more or less at odds with the Greco-Roman culture at the time of Christ; at best, they tolerated each other. And yet the Hebrews don’t really fit properly into the ancient Egyptian cultural epoch either. They were for the most part at odds with and strangers to this culture as well. Where do they fit in?
The Hebrews were the bridge from the ancient Egyptian to the Greco-Roman cultures. They were the primary people of the Age of Aries, which bridges that gap. And the advent of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, was the fulfillment of the mission of this people and that Age.
If, in the modern time, Goetheanism and Anthroposophy (both strongly Central European impulses) are the equivalent of Platonism and Aristotelianism, where might we look for the “third term,” the culture that has brought to birth the advent of the Second Coming, the fifth sacrifice of Jesus and Christ? Both Goetheanism and Anthroposophy are representative of the fifth cultural age, the Central European epoch. But what movement or stream has been the modern equivalent of the ancient Hebrews, a kind of bridge from Greco-Roman epoch to Central European?
We can find this out quite clearly and distinctly by looking to the story of the immediate aftermath of Christ’s resurrection for his followers, particularly Lazarus and Mary Magdalene (see my article “Eternal Israel” and Estelle Isaacson’s Through the Eyes of Mary Magdalene, vol III). They are sent adrift on the Mediterranean Sea and land in Marseilles, in France. The modern equivalent of the ancient Hebrews can be found in this region of France. It is the stream running from Lazarus and Magdelene, to the events of the Grail in the Carolingian era, to the School of Chartres and the Knights Templar, to the Tarot of Marseilles, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, Martinism—in a word, the French Hermetic tradition. This French spiritual stream is the main shoot of cultural development in the Age of Pisces (215-2375 AD) vs the main shoot of the Central European epoch (1414-3574 AD)—the Germanic cultures.
And so if we want to seek out the third term, the equivalent of the incarnation of Christ in the ancient Hebrew culture 2000 years ago, we can look to the French Hermetic stream of the modern time—specifically in the work Meditations on the Tarot, composed anonymously by Valentin Tomberg in the late 50’s-early 60’s of the 20th century. We can consider this work a kind of Gospel or Testament of the Etheric Christ—or perhaps better said, Epistles or Letters of the Etheric Christ.
It is in working rigorously and intensively with the Tarot of Marseilles (both Major and Minor Arcana) that we can begin to develop our manas cognition. Why is this? At the time of Christ, the Ego that had been planted by Archangel Jesus eons before came to fruition; at the same time, the seed for atman was planted, only to come to fruition at the time of the seventh sacrifice of Jesus and Christ in the Anglo-American Age. However, now at the time of Christ’s Fifth Sacrifice, it is manas cognition which comes to fruition, comes to birth in each human soul, while the seed has now been planted for buddhi, a seed which will not fully develop until the sixth sacrifice of Jesus and Christ in the Slavic-Russian Age.
Now, Christ’s buddhi, his transformed etheric body (also known as “life-spirit”) was given over to Lazarus/Christian Rosenkreuz at the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Christ’s buddhi is symbolized through the Sephiroth Tree, the Tree of Life—a Tree which bears within it 22 paths of Wisdom through 10 Sephiroth operating on 4 planes of existence. This Tree is the Hebrew language. It is the Lord’s Prayer. It is the Tarot of Marseilles—and the development of the Tarot of Marseilles have been under the guidance of Christian Rosenkreuz from the very beginning. We might say that, in particular, the Tarot of Marseilles are a living symbol of Christ’s transformed etheric body. A living symbol both represents a spiritual being or reality, and at the same time is that which it represents. When we work with the Tarot of Marseilles, we are working with Christ’s etheric body to activate our manas consciousness. This is what Valentin Tomberg has offered to us through composing Meditations on the Tarot. And this work to activate our manas consciousness will remain crucial for our cultural development for the next 2000 or so years.
It was in the 16th century that the world saw the widespread printing of the earliest decks of the Tarot of Marseilles. On the other hand, we also see the final split in Orthodoxy occurring in the 16th century, with the rise of Protestantism, and the last “branch” of Orthodoxy, the Anglican Church. But a healing also begins during this time. It is from the 16th century up through the modern age that certain of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxies begin rejoin the Catholic Church, making up what are known as the Eastern Catholic Churches. These are special churches which are under the auspices of the Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope, and yet have maintained their own particular rites (represented among the 23 Easter Catholic Churches are five liturgical rites: Alexandrian, Armenian, Byzantine, East Syriac, and West Syriac). Therefore they represent a kind of bridge between Catholicism and the other Orthodox faiths.
So we have several strands to weave together in the coming years. Just as the Orthodox Communion established at Christ’s First Coming facilitates the long-term goal of birthing the Resurrection Body (atman) of Christ in each individual human being during the Anglo-American epoch, we ought to have a rite, some ritual, which is appropriate to the Second Coming of Christ. This rite should exist with the goal of facilitating the germination and gestation of buddhi consciousness in humanity, a level of consciousness that will be able to come to birth at Christ’s appearance in the Astral Plane around the end of the 4th/beginning of the 5th millennium AD.
So first of all we have the rite. Second of all, we have the full integration of Goetheanism and Anthroposophy into all of cultural life through the agency of the Hermetically-awakened mamas consciousness over the course of the next 2000 years. If the new rite is the equivalent of the Orthodox Communion, these two are the equivalent of the Neo-Platonic and Scholastic movements.
And finally, we have the continuing reformation and reunion of the Orthodox faiths. Perhaps, by the time of Christ’s third appearance/sixth sacrifice during the Slavic/Russian epoch, we can see the full integration of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxies, and the beginnings of the integration of the Anglican faith.
We will look more closely at all of this in the next section.