The considerations here are intimately connected with the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. I would like to begin with a quote from Rudolf Steiner. The context of this quote is that of a series of lectures on the Mexican Mysteries. Therefore we can consider that the evil in these mysteries has something to do with gold, as well as the Green Snake fairy tale.
“When we seek the most beautiful spiritualization of the wisdom that has entered the development of Europe, as I described, we find one precisely in all that would work and live in the powerful imaginations of Goethe. Goethe knew the secret of the Templars. Not without purpose has he written about gold as he has done in his Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, in which he had the snake consume the gold and then sacrifice itself. By this deed the gold is wrested from the powers with which Goethe truly knew it must not be allowed to remain. Gold—naturally, here everything is also meant of which gold is a real symbol. Read once more The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily and try to feel that Goethe knew the secret of gold; and how, through the way in which he lets gold flow through the fairy tale, he is looking back into earlier times. May I perhaps add here the personal confession that when, for the first time in the eighties of the last century, I faced the question of the gold in Goethe’s fairy tale, the meaning of the story emerged for me through the development of the substance of gold in it.”
With this quote we can gain quite some insight into a substance such as gold and also the esoteric in Goethe’s and Rudolf Steiner’s lives. It is this line of inquiry that I would like to follow up.
Let us begin by placing gold in the context of time. We can do this by looking at the Yugas. These are long periods of time, 5,000 years, as designated by the ancient Indians. They spoke of the Krita Yuga, about the time of Atlantis, when man in his clairvoyance could live with spiritual beings, which, I surmise, was the rank of the Kyriotetes, the Spirits of Wisdom. The next period is the Treta Yuga, which was probably in the later part of Atlantis with the fading of clairvoyance; and my sense is that something of this appeared in the Persian period but pointed back to converse with the Dynameis, the Spirits of Movement. With the Dvapara Yuga the spiritual world faded further; and then came the time of the Indian, Persian and Egyptian cultural epochs, with the Exusiai still sensed. These are the epochs when the states of consciousness are being addressed, so that we have to consider man’s relation with the physical. With the Kali Yuga, the Age of Darkness, man begins a communion with the angels of the soul: the Archai, the Archangels and the Angels; but it is man’s physical nature that is important, as it is the changing condition of the physical that determines the state of consciousness. With the coming of the New Yuga, the Age of Light, we now have to look not so much to the spiritual-hierarchical for man’s relation to the physical, but to man himself. It is the being of man that becomes important in our times. The view here is that of the changing consciousness, but consciousness that is determined by man’s relation to the physical. This historical view sees man in his relation with the angelic world as an outcome with the physical. The angelic world is fading. Man is coming to earth; the spirits are fading.
A second way of looking at time is in terms of thousand-year periods. This Rudolf Steiner has done in speaking about the three thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha. The three thousand years follow in reverse order. He identified the Abraham period as 3000 BC; the Moses period follows, 2000 BC; and then the Solomon period as 1000 BC. Here we can follow the unfolding of man as an individual who comes to earth and slowly develops a varied working of the ego. I think of the time orientation here as more directed to the etheric. It is in connection with the appearance of the Christ in the etheric that Steiner speaks in considerable detail about the Yuga periods and the “Human” periods. In the Abraham period, we can consider man as gaining the ability to act in the etheric, which enables the mathematical processes. In the period of Moses, man first gains the ability to act out of himself, though then outer law was still used as a guide. Finally, in the Solomon period, the laws of the physical world are mastered sufficiently so that the physical can be transformed to bring about another relationship, that of man to man. Temples, physical structures, come into being, where the spiritual can be found, and also where men meet in relation to the spirit. During the three thousand subsequent years, we can consider that there is an ever-deepening evolution of the human being so that he can live not only on the earth but can come to sojourn in the ether world at the same time. This is the perspective for the next thousand years, the reappearance of the Abraham period. Here the Christ becomes a central figure. These thousand-year periods are in fact all Christ-oriented.
Now we can consider another time orientation. Here we have a designation that was given to the world by Hesiod. It is he who spoke of the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. (We might call our age the Aluminum and Plastic Age.) Here metals are used to portray a view of time. Metals are on the one hand from the earth, but on the other hand, they point to the astral realm. It is not the human astral so much but the earth astral that is the center of our consideration. Man in his relation to the earth is spoken of here. As the ego of man evolves, so we have to look to the soul and spirit of the earth, the astral of the earth, for significant changes. The metals enable man to look at the earth, as well into the cosmos, to find earth’s relation to the vast regions of space and ask how the soul of this body lives in the larger context. Thus,
- Yugas – 5000 years
- Man-Christ – 1000 years
- Metals-Earth – 26,000 years
The latter time period is given as we start with gold, the metal of the sun, and we follow the sun through the ages given by the sun’s relation to the earth and the star world. This sun-zodiac orientation gives us the orientation of the Platonic Year. We will now follow the course of the earth to the sun and arrive at a condition in which the earth becomes a sun. My understanding is that this is the period of time spoken about as the Platonic Year. Such an orientation is gained by studying the metals. The earth evolves over long periods of time. This evolution occurs just as man evolves—and, as well, our spiritual brothers, the hierarchical beings in the angel world. For not only man and earth evolve, but cosmic spiritual-hierarchical beings as well. When we consider the metals we look to the mighty changes of the earth. We can also come to consider how man changes the earth and evolves himself as well. This can all be a part of our consideration of the metals, which have become the memory of our earth. As man works into the cosmos, works into the ether world, then again the organism within which our earth lies is transformed. Here the metals are important as well. Slowly our earth is becoming a cosmic body that shines out of itself so that a sun-like existence can unfold. Ultimately this sun-earth can become a star. Such are the thoughts that follow on considering the metals as they are concerned with the earth and the atmosphere of the earth. The direction is that the earth should become a sun, and then a star. It is man’s task to work in this direction, and the central secret of this process lies in the metals, and in gold in particular. Gold has to do with the secret of the earth’s becoming a star and, as such, speaks to time in terms of the many years needed to transform the earth into a star. Here man is being addressed not only as an ego being, but as a being that has a higher ego as well; and this will need unfolding to help the earth become a star. The darkness of the earth has to change.
All the metals of the earth have to come to the condition of the original metal, which is gold and which contained all the others in it. Archetypally the age of gold can be seen as the time of Sun-evolution, when gold as an astral being containing all other metals came into existence. Gold, as with all metals and all substances, has fallen out of the original state. At that time, substance was in an astral condition. It was radiant substance. It was light filled. The metals fell from this original light state, becoming darkened and able only to reflect light. In the future, however, metals will have the capacity to radiate light, first like a sun and then a star. Atomic explosions, which do not transform the fallen but imprisons substance even further, can be seen as the demonic and Ahrimanic revelation of this process. Thus gold reveals to us a tremendous vista in time and is connected with the future of our earth. Somewhat the same can be said about all the metals. Thus the description of time in terms of the metals is one of great expanses, great vistas. Interestingly, this became a possibility for the Greeks during the period in which Hesiod lived. Through their relation with the metals a very unique view of the earth in time could be had.
If we now turn to the Yugas once more, we hear from Rudolf Steiner that three very important issues were alive as the Kali Yuga drew to a close. Kant addressed these issues as God, Freedom and Immortality. But Rudolf Steiner said that this formulation was not correct, and that Goethe grasped the central issues correctly as God, Virtue and Immortality. “Three ideas have gradually arisen in the course of our evolving during the last centuries; ideas that, in the way they have entered human life, are essentially abstract. Kant has named them falsely, while Goethe has named them correctly. These three ideas Kant called: God, freedom and immortality. Goethe called them correctly: God, virtue, and immortality. When one sees the things that are hidden behind these three words, it is clear that they are exactly the same as what modern man now views abstractly, but were viewed more concretely until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They were also viewed more materially, in the ancient atavistic sense. Men experimented in the ancient way; indeed, they sought at that time with alchemical experiments to observe the processes that showed the working of God in the process. They tried to produce the Philosopher’s Stone.
“Behind these things is hidden something concrete. This Philosopher’s Stone was to present human beings with the possibility of becoming virtuous; however, it became thought of more materially. It was to lead human beings to experience immortality, to put them into a certain relationship with the universe, through which they would experience within themselves what goes on beyond birth and death.
“Certain brotherhoods in the West, however, still preserving a relationship to the old traditions, have tried to apply them in a corresponding way and to place them in the service of a certain group egotism. It is really necessary for these things to be pointed out. Naturally, when these things are spoken of in public, from this corner of the Western exoteric literature, then God, virtue or freedom, and immortality are also talked about in an abstract way. It is only in the circle of the initiates that it is known that all of this is only speculation, that these are all abstractions. For the initiates themselves, they see that what is being striven for in the abstract formulas of God, virtue, and immortality is something much more concrete; and for this reason these words are translated by the initiates in their respective schools. God is translated into Gold, and one seeks behind the mystery to come to what can be described as the mystery of gold. Gold, representing what is sun-like within the earth’s crust, is indeed something within which is imbedded a most significant mystery. In fact, gold stands materially in the same relationship to other substances as, within thinking, the thought of God stands to other thoughts. It only matters in which way this mystery is understood. This relates to the egotistical group exploitation of the mystery of birth. One is striving to wrestle here with real cosmic understanding.
“When man today wishes to study, for example, how the embryo in animals and humans develops, he examines with a microscope what exists precisely in the place on earth onto which he has cast his microscopic eye; he regards this as what is to be examined. But it cannot be a matter only of this. It will be discovered—and certain circles are coming close to this in their discoveries—that the active forces are not in what one meets with the microscopic eye, but are rather within what streams in from the cosmos, from the constellations in the cosmos. When an embryo arises, it arises because from all directions of the cosmos are working forces, cosmic forces, into the living being in which the embryo is being formed. When a fertilization takes place what will develop out of the fertilization is dependent upon which cosmic forces are active.”
From this quote I take it that gold is a substance that when taken up in an occult fashion leads one to God. Gold as God can be found in the material world, but it also points to the cosmos. Gold has a cosmic process and so does God. The alchemical making of gold is actually a soul-spiritual process and has to be experienced as such, even if gold as God appears in outer created form. To take the outer for the reality is like looking into the microscope to comprehend fertilization. In the case of God and gold, we are led to the mystery of conception, but in a way that is totally foreign to our usual way of thinking. The mystery of birth from God, the mystery of conception, was the great mystery in the time of Kali Yuga, and it needs to be reckoned with. In the occult brotherhoods this is known as the mystery of mechanics or occult mechanics. In mechanics we have the conception process, which is the process whereby something in the physical world can be used by a soul-spiritual being to mold it to its service. In the same occult sense, virtue can be used occultly to become hygiene. A great virtue can become hygiene, and this can govern a whole cultural epoch, which we see happening in our day—for example, if one looks at the OSCHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) regulations. Here everything that is good is seen in the light of hygiene. Human ideas are totally overlooked, and the struggle with viruses and bacteria becomes the central issue. Virtue, which is a soul-spiritual activity, becomes materialized, like God and conception. “Out of God we are born” means today to work in a mechanical way to manipulate the physical world so that it will serve us in whatever way we wish. By mechanically manipulating the world, man will command the physical world. A third materialization of a soul-spiritual issue, immortality, can be managed occultly and can be materialized. Then we manipulate human substance so that there is no such thing as death. The idea of the perpetuity of DNA is such an occultism; it is known as eugenic occultism. If the right form of genetic materials is produced, man need not suffer illness or death. We merely have to manipulate genetic material, the substance that governs the working and direction of the human organism. This activity is the creating of a modern Homunculus.
From the forgoing we then have to consider that when we concern ourselves with gold we are dealing with one of the materialistic occult problems of our day. We will need a cosmic view of things, and we will need to consider man’s soul-spiritual activity as well. For a beginning in this direction let us turn to the heart of the earth.
The Heart of the Earth
To come to the heart of the earth we need to travel to the Mediterranean Sea. When we look at this sea we can see that its shape, slightly remodeled, generally fits the configuration of the inside of our atrium and the atrial appendages, the auricles. We are imagining the configuration of the upper part of the heart as the configuration of this sea. However, we have to imagine the heart as upside down. Then one can come up with this form.
Now we can add the Adriatic and the Aegean seas. They are oriented upward (in a northerly direction) and can be imagined to be the ventricular cavities of the inverted heart. The lands of Italy, Greece and Turkey can be imagined as the ventricular musculature, with the Greek mainland as the inter-ventricular septum. We could even go further and imagine Cyprus as the sino-atrial node and Crete as the atria-ventricular node. The configuration of the waters of this part of the world can be imagined as the inner configuration of the heart seen upside down. The human heart is filled with fluid, as are these seas. The lands around these seas, beating with the pulse of human culture, are where human culture unfolded around the events of the Mystery of Golgotha.
A further step might be taken by moving around the Aegean Sea. We can start with Crete. Here began the very old culture known as the Minoan culture. Out of this grew the Chthonic Mysteries. As we move upward and north along the coast of the Greek mainland we come to the place of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Moving further north we come to Delphi. As we move north and east, then turn south, we come to the isle of Samothrace, just off the shore of Turkey today. Moving further south along the coast of Turkey, we come to Ephesus. This arch can be compared to the Purkinje system, the nerve system of the human heart. Here the nerve impulse of existence grew in ancient times with the unfolding of these centers, which are so important for our esoteric considerations about the unfolding of humankind.
In the Chthonic Mysteries we have to deal with the mystery of earthly substances. The earthly substances are of importance, and this is well recorded by Rudolf Steiner in his lecture cycle Mystery Knowledge and Mystery Centers, as a result of his spiritual-scientific investigations. The metals come to play a very important role in the case of Eleusis by taking an earth substance and considering it from the perspective of the cosmos. It is this mystery center that is the main concern here. However, to complete the picture let us speak of the other two as well. With Samothrace we again can speak of substance, but now much more from the side of the cosmos and from the side of man’s activity of soul. To complete our circuit we come to Ephesus—the great mystery center in the life of St. Paul, St. John, Mary, and the stream of Ita Wegman and Rudolf Steiner. This is the great mystery center of the Word and of the future of human existence on earth.
Again, let us consider that these mysteries lie in the hearts of men; the question becomes how to awaken the heart of each and all. What we can consider is that what happens in human culture comes, in time, to affect the physiological functions of the human organism. This is particularly the case when mystery centers are involved. What happens in such centers is saved in the world’s Book of Life and can, in time, become organic functions as incarnating souls include such deep activities in their life’s course. History, cosmic and human, becomes physiological activity. It is not possible to build such subtle workings into an artificial heart.
If we again turn to the Lesser Mysteries of Crete I would like to conjecture that we might orient ourselves in time to the period of about 3000 BC. This is a little earlier than one finds recorded in archaeological investigations, but then it may well be that earlier artifacts have been lost. At least let us consider this to be the case for now. The Greater Mysteries, mysteries of the cosmos, we know from Rudolf Steiner as the Hibernian Mysteries. We have recorded from Rudolf Steiner’s researches the mystery workings of Hibernia, where man and woman were cosmic beings and were related to summer and winter respectively. The interplay of man and woman with the first onset of a seasonal activity gave rise to what today we know as perception and images. Summer activity occurred when the sun approached the earth, then arose what today we know as the activities of perception. When the sun distanced itself from the moon-earth, then an inner activity arose in the earth-moon resembling what we today know as imaging. This process of ancient cosmic events and happenings was placed before the soul of a neophyte in those mysteries. Out of this initiation procedure, later came the impulse to create science (man activity) and art (earth-moon woman activity). Thus science and art are the outcome of mystery center activities that are related to man and woman and at the same time are related to the birth of the seasons. Here, as well, lies the foundation for a basic activity that differentiates man from woman and also begins an interaction. From this activity of man, woman, sun, and moon-earth, a child is born out of a perception and image process. We can call this a conception. It comes forth in the way a child is born. The human activities of perception, imaging and conceiving are shown to the neophyte. We might also consider that with this course of events man becomes father and woman becomes mother without anything of male or female sexuality. This process of human unfolding predates the division of the sexes. The neophyte had all of this placed before his soul in the form of huge statues. Such an initiation experience could sink deep into the soul to rest there as a basis for the coming forth of the cognitive process. The initiate-to-be was given these experiences so that his heart would become an organ of cognition for such deep cosmic secrets as the origin of cognitive process. The would-be-initiate could through this means come to the cosmic mystery lying behind the birth of the processes of cognition. I tend to link the Hibernian Mysteries with the time of 3000 BC, when seasonal activities were important in the initiation process. I also place this date at 3000 BC because Rudolf Steiner connects the Hibernian Mysteries with the southern mysteries, the Egyptian Mysteries, which were also very active at this time in cultural history.
In the Minor Mysteries of Chthonos in Crete, the birth process was also portrayed to the initiate pupil. The birth mystery was the initiation motif. Rudolf Steiner described it as the male-Father process. This male-Father was cosmic in make-up and activity. We would have to imagine the activity of the whole cosmic sphere. This was portrayed to the pupil in mighty cosmic images. No use of a physical representative is mentioned by Rudolf Steiner. The imagination had to be exercised. This being gave substances to the earth, Mother Earth. Now, the earth globe has to be imaged as a female-Mother being, again a tremendous demand on the imagination. What the Father gave the Mother was the metals. Cosmic Father gives to Earth Mother—into the outstretched hands of the Mother. This is how the metals are given. In the hands of the mother, the metals are transformed into a Child. This Child is then carried in the arms of the Mother close to her bosom, close to her heart. Out of the Father, a Child is born in the hands of the Mother to be carried close to the heart, yea, even in the heart. Here begins the heart birth of this region of which we spoke earlier. This Child was known as the Iacchus Child. Here we have a birth out of transformed metals. On the one hand, it is an earth birth, and on the other, a birth within man. It is the birth of a higher heart being within the heart and soul of man. Something inherent in metals enables a birth through the hand of the Father. The earth as Mother births the Child, and this in turn enables a childbirth in the heart within man. Here the cosmic process experienced in the Hibernian Mysteries enters the hearts of men and, at the same time, begins an earthly process. A kind of heart process is born, a childbirth—in perceiving, imaging and conceiving. This is a very pure process, thus we hear minimally of aspects connected with the sexual make up of man. It is in the Egyptian Mysteries, with the evolution of Isis and Osiris, that the sexual process is addressed. This is depicted in the Rudolf Steiner’s lecture cycle Ancient Myths: Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution. In the Chthonic Mysteries a kind of conception process is taking place in the hearts of man, which is a metamorphosis of the events in the Hyperborean Mysteries. And it is only with the Egyptian Mysteries that the sexual element comes into consideration. I would venture to think that all three mystery workings were taking place at, approximately, the same time in different places. Man is slowly being constituted as a being that can know. The organic basis for knowing is being constituted in these three mystery places. At the same time, other mystery workings were in progress, particularly in the Far East with the birth of Lucifer and the unfolding of the western mysteries in Mesoamerica. In the Greater Mysteries there arose the basis for perception, imaging and conception in relation to the senses. In the Chthonic Mysteries was laid the germ for the same process in the human heart. Only in the Egyptian Mysteries were the processes of male and female, the processes of reproduction, brought into relation with knowledge. In the Egyptian Mysteries lies the basis for the unfolding of the intellect. Something of the secret of physical birth lies hidden in the Egyptian Mysteries. In the Chthonic Mysteries, the metals and the human heart are brought into relationship to birth—the birth of knowledge in the human heart. One might think that here lies something of the evolution of the nerve process in the human heart. The earth metals are used here and speak to the birthing of the cosmic process in the human heart. At the same time a deep and far-reaching view of earth formation can be gained, as has been indicated earlier. Metal substance comes to be the initiating principle. We can assume that gold played a part, although from archaeological finds I have discovered that gold is not the only metal, but it is one. The important element in this Minor Mystery is that the birth is the Father giving and the Mother receiving in order for conception to occur. Here man begins the conceptive activity that carries two sides. One side is that of the soul-spirit, which can transform perception and image into conception. The other side is the conception, where soul-spirit being has to be able to penetrate materiality in order to be born, as it were, out of God. The Cosmic Father and the Earthly Mother could be seen at the time of this mystery as participating in the penetration of soul-spirit into matter. Not only man but also the cosmos and the earth are essentials in the conceptive process. In time, earth has to birth a son; it is not only man and woman who birth a son.
The Mysteries of Eleusis
It is now possible to move ahead to the Eleusinian Mysteries. These mysteries evolved out of the Chthonic Mysteries of Crete in the Minoan culture. Central in the Eleusinian Mysteries were the metals, as just noted with the Chthonic Mysteries. But, as well, the myths came to play a central role. Now the role of story enters the mystery evolution of the Greek Mysteries. Here we can speak of the evolution of mythological consciousness. Rudolf Steiner speaks at length about the uses of the myth in the Eleusinian Mysteries in Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, and Revelations of the Spirit, where he speaks of the make up of man in relation to the mythological figures known to us in Greek mythology. In this cycle the myths concerning Demeter and Persephone play a central role. This mystery was in its zenith for a period of almost five hundred years—800 to 300 BC. We can consider this mythology and mystery center as the mystery of the unfolding of the ego in the thinking soul. I will try to outline the mythology in relation to man as I understand it from Rudolf Steiner’s indications.
|Etheric||–||Poseidon with threefold Hecate|
|Hecate with the snake – Hecate with the rope – Hecate with the torch|
|Ego||–||Dionysus the Elder (Zagreus)|
|Dionysus the Younger|
We are familiar with Pluto and his working in the underworld; and Poseidon is usually seen in relation to the watery, the ether element. We are not, however, so familiar with Zeus as an astral expression of the cosmic aspect of space. Space is created by Zeus. As this space approaches man in astral-working it is very pure, and can be seen as the working that enables light to approach the plant world. When we look at wheat growing in the light of the sun we can contemplate Demeter, the purest of soul-being, as astrality that works out of the sun and into the plant world to fashion what takes place there. This pure plant-working is given to Persephone, who carries the plant impulse into the earth and also into the soul life of man. Persephone can be considered to live in the flame of the spirit, as well as in the life of the soul and the working of the physical of man. A kind of sentient perceiving, a sentient soulness and a sentient body activity can be considered. Persephone lives in all three domains within man. In nature, Persephone lives in the chaste world of the plant, descending through the plant in the course of the seasons and then living for a time in the earth itself during the winter months of the year. Thus this mythological formulation of the coming into the being of man is related to dependent on the seasons and bespeaks the configuring of man’s make up as the earth’s relation to the sun, planets and stars. This occurred as the celestial world assumed its current working relationships. The seasons evolved from two seasons (Lemuria–Atlantis) to three (Atlantis–post-Atlantis) to four at the time of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Most of us do not think that man’s make up is seasonally dependent but considering the Demeter-Persephone Mystery we can come to think differently.
In this mystery, the ether body of man was seen as threefold. In the Poseidon of man’s etheric lives Hecate and the snake. This indicates the aspect of the etheric organism that lives in the physical organism of man. The snake indicates the working of the etheric in the physical processes that can evolve the physical out of the Fall through the impulse of the soul and spirit—the astral ego. In the case of Hecate with the rope, we have to consider the etheric that in a way lives for the soul and underlies the usual soul activities. Hecate with the torch points to the etheric that has to evolve from the snake and rope condition to that of the fire of the torch, the fire of the free spirit. One could wonder that our Statue of Liberty must pale in the light of the true Hecate process in every man today. But our Statue, anchored in the waters of a modern harbor, perhaps is pointing to an important mystery in the evolution of mankind. Without the threefold working of the ether body, the three aspects of Persephone’s working would not be possible.
With the Dionysian stream we can follow the gradual unfolding of the processes in evolution that had to take place in order that the human ego could approach the working of the soul. Here in this line of unfolding from Dionysus–Zagreus to Dionysus–Plato we can follow the ego unfolding as an individual with the descent of the Sophia process into man. Cosmic intelligence descending into man follows this path, as indicated in Rudolf Steiner’s investigations.
This teaching from a mythological perspective and from the side of the mystery of the metals went through a metamorphosis and then was given to Alexander by Aristotle. Rudolf Steiner devotes an entire lecture to this instruction in his lecture cycle on the mystery centers, and for us this lecture is a jewel.
I will give the teaching and initiation from my perspective. First, Alexander was introduced to the process of breathing, in-breathing and out-breathing. Then the elements of warm and cold were added, so that the warmth within and the cold outside could be identified. This was not so simple, as it assumes that Alexander was able to carry soul sensitivity out on the out-streaming breath. If I understand correctly, the alchemists tried to follow this process, and they called it the making of the Philosopher’s Stone. Here the carbon of the out-streaming breath becomes radiant, diamond-like, and at the same time the warmth and cold of the transformation of carbon formation has to be sensed. The breath becomes sentient-clear sensing. At that time alchemy was being born in the soul of Alexander, not in philosophizing but in the process of initiation. Next, Alexander had to experience the warm and the cold of water. The airy had to pass into the watery, and now it was the warm and the cold of water that was important. This then birthed sensitivity to the conditions alive in the environment, so that traversing the earthly globe could become a very sensitive process of living with the watery in the atmosphere (? living with Poseidon and Persephone). Important now is the watery element. It had to be experienced as well as the play of warmth and cold. The play of warmth and cold is extremely important as it points to a slowly evolving sensitivity to cold, which is a physical warmth cooled, and warmth, which is an etheric densified. In the warmth, the densification of light ether to warmth ether (? Demeter and Persephone) had to be experienced. The transformation of light ether to warmth ether is what takes place at the door of the senses, and this Alexander had to learn at the hands of Aristotle.
As the next step in initiation Alexander had to live into the plant and its relation to earth and sun. We might contemplate that the earth as Mother birthed the pure plant in relation to the sun, which carries into the being of the plant the Father element. Here there works an elementality, and this may well be the way Alexander was taught about the domain of the elementals—the gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. (See Harmony of the Creative Word, where the plant and the elementals are spoken about; also the Healing Spirit Meditation [The Warmth Meditation] in the medical student lectures.) Here sensitivity for the earth in relation to the sun is born, and it enables Alexander to live with the changing flora as his earth journeys are undertaken.
A third step in Alexander’s initiation was taken when the metals were introduced to him by Aristotle. Here the relation of the metals to the earth and to the planetary world was the goal of the initiation instruction. This instruction might be thought of as a contrast to a metal used in Chaldean times. This is the metal more than likely used in the initiation of Gilgamesh. This metal is stibium, and not the metals gathered around gold in the planetary world. Stibium or antimony is a metal very much related to sulfur and to metabolism, to the working of the ego-astral world into metabolism (the zodiac and the greater star world). Not so the gold that is our central concern here. Gold is metabolically inactive in man as crude substance. The gold in man is totally warmth dependent, not entering into the oxygen of sulfur-dominated aspects of metabolism. Gold lifts metabolism into another realm, that of the soul. This is very much warmth dependent without the chemism of metabolism. Whatever the case, we can think that Alexander was next made clairsentient to the fine distributions of the metals in the atmosphere as well as their radiations in the earth. In this way, something of the ether and astral working of the metals could be experienced as the surface of the earth was traversed from west to east later in his life. We are told how in Chaldean times the initiation was very much an initiation into the being of the metals. We can think further that the path of antimony led from Ur to the hills of eastern Austria to the Burgenland, where miners of antimony can be found today. We are told that Gilgamesh was able to go as far as the Burgenland but did not accomplish the journey to Atlantis, to Utnapishtim. In the case of Alexander’s initiation, he was in this incarnation to follow the stream from south to north, and west to east. The initiation of Gilgamesh ran from south to north, and east to west. Thus we can think of a south to north initiation, as well as an east to west initiation for Gilgamesh, while in the case of Alexander, a south to north and then a west to east initiation was being prepared. To make one sensitive to directions of the earth and as well those of the cosmos, this, I gather, was the initiation procedure for Alexander. A cosmos-earth relation was to be born in the soul of Alexander.
A fourth training as initiation process was given to Alexander so that he could continue this initiation by launching into the world to experience what had been given as soul-spirit content becoming active in deeds, in campaigns of war. For this fourth training Alexander was introduced to human physiognomy. This means he was introduced to how the earth and cosmos form man, his configuration, his form, his physiognomy, which is mostly associated with the face. Here the configuration of man through the working of the earth (north, south, east, west) was brought to Alexander. My sense is that man’s coloring was also a part of the instruction—the red of the west, the yellow of the east, the black of the south, and the white of the north. When at work in the earth, the cosmic directions configure man, but also in turn give man his color when the earth works into his metabolism. Formative forces at work out of the cosmos help or largely determine man’s form, particularly the physiognomy. In very ancient times the lion, bull, and eagle were determinative as zodiacal cosmic forces. Only in the post-Atlantean times did the head and total form of man become more human. However, men do vary according to their relation to the zodiacal formative activity, which still works into man. The metabolism of man I see as more a reflection of these same forces at work in different parts of the earth and connected with the mineral make up of the earth, as for example the working of antimony. The antimony process in man carries the cosmic into the metabolism, but has to detour via the earth. Thus we might contemplate the antimony process as connected with the skin, and therefore its color. The antimony process is crucial in the carrying of digested substance to the periphery of man, to his skin. For this to happen, substance has to enter the phantom of man and then be carried to the periphery, to the skin of man. Antimony is the activity of this process. This working of the cosmos in the forming of man’s finer configuration and his color in metabolism I contemplate as the instruction that was given to Alexander by Aristotle.
However, another, a most important, step had to be made in the instruction, as I can see it. That is, Alexander had to learn that there is an earthly force system at work in the earth and man. This force system is different from the force system projected into the earth from the cosmos, that is, the working from the direction of the stars into the atmosphere and into the earth. When we speak of the directions of space then we speak of the cosmic force system. This force system orients the earth in cosmic space. The force system that Aristotle was introduced to is far more earthly. To learn about this force system Aristotle had to know more than north, south, east and west. He had to learn the nature of the northeast, the southeast, the northwest and the southwest. Here Alexander had to become sensitive to the “elements” in relation to the directions of space. The ether elements of earth matter, the states of matter, become important in this training. The cold-dry of the northeast we can see as related to the solid condition. The warm-moist of the southeast to the watery, the cold-dry of the northwest to the airy, and the warm-dry of the southwest to the condition of warmth. (These are my impressions—not quite the same as what was indicated by Rudolf Steiner.) The axis of this orientation within the earth to the states of matter is at an angle to the directions from space. This earth axis is at angles to the spatial orientation given from the cosmos. The north, south, east, and west directions in cosmic space orient one to the ether of the cosmos. My surmise is that the northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest orientations give more a sense of the etheric in relation to the earth. So there are the two spatial orientations. The orientation to the earthly force system gave Alexander an orientation to the sub-earthly forces, or the fallen ether forces—electricity, magnetism, and gravity.
Why is the latter orientation and sensitivity in Alexander’s initiation important? I surmise that it is important so that Alexander could become conscious of the fall of the ether forces at the time of the Fall in Lemuria. At that time the ether forces went through a fall. That is, light ether fell to become electricity, which invested matter that until that time was more living. Chemical ether fell to become magnetism; and life ether to become gravity. If Alexander was to have a true knowledge of alchemy he had to know about the fall of matter. This fall is very much connected with the magnetic conditions of the earth, and if I understand this correctly the orientation of the magnetic field of the earth is more from southeast to northwest, or approximately so. Sensitivity to this earth magnetism then gives also the sub-earthly working of the spiritual being Ahriman and his hosts. If anyone is interested to follow this up I can share that I began to consider this line of reflection after contemplating what Rudolf Steiner has to say about the Mexican Mysteries. There he speaks of Anastasius Grün and quotes a poem of Grün’s indicating that he knew about the working of the magnetic forces of the earth. One can ask if with such a teacher as Aristotle the importance of these forces in the earth would have remained unknown to Alexander. Even further, if Aristotle was giving Alexander alchemy, the overcoming of these forces would be part of the alchemical process. To say this assumes that the alchemical process is on the one side the transformation of the soul, but as well the redemption of substances that fell at the time of Lemuria. In the last several years I have the growing conviction that this initiation of Alexander and the resultant alchemical efforts began to actually change the axis of the earth. I surmise that with the redemption of substances the earth was somewhat freed from the Ahrimanic working through sub-earthly forces, and therefore the earth can slowly gain another orientation in space, another orientation in relation to the cosmos. Of course, this is in a way conjectural, but if true, such a teaching adds a very significant dimension to the initiation of Alexander. It is also that initiation is very important for the earth as well as the cosmos. But more, in order to deal with gold, and the fall of substance and its redemption, this aspect of an initiation could be very important, a central issue. I will try to speak to this aspect in the coming considerations. Before moving on let me share a few quotes by Rudolf Steiner in order to throw some more light onto what I have tried to share here and to bring the consideration more in relation to gold.
From Mystery Centers:
“Let us take one region of the Earth as an example and show from that what the kind of knowledge man learned to acquire in the most ancient of the mysteries when he looked up to the Sun. At that time there still existed mystery sanctuaries arranged with a specially prepared skylight, so that at a certain definite time of day the Sun could be seen in a diminished light. Thus you must imagine the most important chamber in many an ancient Sun Temple with a skylight in the roof and the window filled with some kind of material—not glass in our modern sense but a material through which the orb of the Sun was seen in a dim light as of twilight at a certain time of day. The pupil was prepared in his soul to observe the solar orb with the right mood and feeling. He had to make his feeling receptive and sensitive; he had to quicken the inner perception of his soul so that when he exposed it, through his eye, to the orb of the Sun, the latter made an impression on him of which he could form a clear idea in consciousness.
“Now, of course, many people today look at the Sun through smoked glass, but they are not prepared in their power of feeling to receive the impression in such a way that it remains in their soul as a very special impression. The pupil in those ancient mysteries, however, received a very definite impression of the dimmed solar orb after he had undergone long exercises beforehand. A man who was able once to have such an impression could truly never forget it.
“With this impression the pupil also gained more understanding for certain things around him than he formerly had. Thus after he had been prepared by the majestic impression made upon him by the Sun, the special quality of the substance gold was allowed to work upon him; and through the Sun-preparation, the pupil actually came to a deep understanding of the quality of gold.
“If one looks into these things, it is painful to realize the triviality of our modern consciousness, when we find in so many historical works the reason why this or the other ancient philosopher allocated gold to the Sun or gave the same symbol to gold and to the Sun. Man has no longer any idea that what was thus known in those olden times, proceeded from long exercises and preparations. A pupil who looked with his whole soul, who as it were steeped his sight in this dimmed light of the Sun, was thereby prepared to understand the gold of the Earth.
“How did he understand it ? His attention awoke to the fact that gold is not receptive to that which constitutes for living organisms the breath of life, namely oxygen. Many, indeed most, of the other metals are thoroughly receptive to oxygen, but oxygen does not affect or alter gold. This non-receptivity, this obstinacy of gold in the face of that in which man, as you know, has his very life, made a deep impression on the pupil of the ancient mysteries. He received the impression that gold cannot directly approach life. Now, neither can the Sun approach life directly; and the pupil learned that it is well that neither gold nor the Sun can directly approach life. For then he was gradually led to realize the fact that because gold has no relationship with oxygen, the breath of life, when it is introduced in a certain dose into the human organism, it has a quite special effect. It has no relation to the etheric body, no direct relation to the astral body; but it has a direct relation to what lies in human thinking.
“My dear friends. just consider how far thinking is removed from life—especially in our modern age! A man can sit like a block of wood and think quite abstractly. He can even think quite livingly in an abstract way. But on the other hand, he cannot by thinking bring about any change in his organism. Man’s thought has become more and more powerless. But this thinking is set in motion by the Ego-organization, and gold inserted in the right dose into the human organism, can bring back power to work down into the astral body and even into the etheric body; thus through the working of gold man is quickened in his thinking.
“One of the secrets of these ancient mysteries was the secret of gold in connection with the Sun. This relationship between the substance gold and the cosmic working of the Sun was perceived by the pupil of these ancient mysteries.
“In a similar way the pupil was led to experience the working of the opposite pole of gold. Gold is an impulse for the quickening of thinking, so that human thought can work down as far as into the etheric body. But what would be the opposite pole of that?
“Ego-organization, astral body, etheric body and physical body are the members of the human organism, and we may say that through gold the Ego-organization becomes capable of working down into the etheric body. The etheric body can then go further and work upon the physical body, but gold brings it about that one can actually hold thoughts in all their power as far as the etheric body.
“Now what is the opposite pole of this? It is an activity that manifests itself when the breath of life, oxygen, is attracted by something in man or in nature. For as gold is obstinate in the face of oxygen, repels it, will have nothing to do with it, and has therefore no direct influence on the etheric body or on the astral body but only on the thought-world of the Ego-organization—as gold repels oxygen, so carbon on the other hand has in man a direct affinity with oxygen.
“We breathe out carbonic acid gas. We make it by uniting carbon with oxygen. And the plants requite carbonic acid for their life. Carbon possesses the exactly opposite property of gold.
“Now carbon played a great part in the very ancient mysteries, They spoke on the one hand of gold as a very specially important substance in the study of man. On the other hand, they called carbon the Philosopher’s Stone. Gold and the Philosopher’s Stone were very important in olden times.
“Along with the ancient sanctuaries of the Sun Mysteries we find too a kind of observatory, wherein man could open his soul and his physical vision to the forms of the Moon. Whereas in the Sun-training the pupil had to behold the Sun at certain times of day in a diminished light, now for weeks at a time he had to expose his eyes to the different forms that the orb of the Moon assumes by night. Gazing thus with his whole soul, the pupil received a definite inner impression which gave him a new knowledge. Just as the soul by exposing itself to the Sun became endowed with the power of the Sun, similarly, by exposing itself to the phases of the Moon, the soul became endowed with the power of the Moon. Man now learned what metamorphoses the substance of carbon can undergo. On the Earth, carbon is coal or graphite or diamond or anthracite, but on the Moon that which we find here on the Earth as diamond or anthracite or coal is silver; and that was the secret possessed in these ancient mysteries. Carbon is silver on the Moon. Carbon is the Philosopher’s Stone, and on the Moon it is silver.
“The knowledge that was impressed so profoundly on the pupil in the ancient mysteries was this: any substance whatsoever is only what it seems in this one place, at this one time. It was sheer ignorance not to know that carbon is diamond, coal and anthracite on the Earth. What exists on the Earth as diamond or graphite, on the Moon is silver.
“A vision of this radical metamorphosis was what the pupil attained in those ancient times. It is the foundation, not of the fraudulent alchemy of which one hears today, but of the true alchemy. This ancient alchemy cannot be acquired by any such abstract means of acquiring knowledge as we have today. We observe things and we think about them. Alchemy could not be attained in that way at all. Today man directs his telescope to a certain star to determine parallel axes and the life, and he reckons; or if he wants to study a certain substance, he applies the spectroscope, and so on, But everything that can be learned in this way is infinitely abstract compared with what could once be learned of the stars; and this ancient wisdom, this true astrology, could only be learned, as I explained in the last lecture, by establishing a real and living intercourse with the Intelligences of the Cosmos. That itself was attainment of knowledge, when man was able to hold converse, in his soul and spirit, with the Intelligences of the Cosmos.”
From this lengthy quote it is possible to see that the teaching of the ancient mysteries to which Alexander was exposed must have contained elements of what is here expressed. The quote above comes several lectures after the lecture on the initiation of Alexander by Aristotle. It is not too far-fetched to assume that something of the same experiences were those of Alexander.
Gold as Substance
Gold is found in the spectrum of the sun in a concentration of D4. In the oceans the concentration is something like a D2. In the earth the concentration approaches D40, if my calculations are correct. Even if they are not accurate to the nth degree, they do give some indication where the concentration of gold lies. One is not far-off when one refers to the golden sun.
In our day gold cannot be retrieved from the sun, nor from the oceans. It is recovered from the earth and is to be found all over the earth, though it is more concentrated in some lands. We know of the gold in western USA, and now in Oregon where mining is causing considerable concern because of the destruction of the earth and the polluting of the environment. We also all know of the gold from the deep mines in South Africa; but gold is essentially everywhere.
Within the earthly domain, the gold in the beds of water is known as alluvial gold. The Rheingold rings loudly in our consciousness when speaking of this realm of gold. Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold can bring forth musical recollections. Within the earth proper it is found in veins, and is often found in association with silver, antimony and iron, which is in chemical action with sulfur. In watery beds it can sediment out because of its weight, and there panning for the gold is possible, as was the case with the Gold Rush.
I have been able to find three main forms of extracting gold from various ores into which it is mixed in a nonchemical form. With liquid bromide it will react chemically to form a bromide, which can then be precipitated out. The same will happen with liquid chlorine. Both bromide and chloride might be thought of as chemical fire, and the two bring the gold into a kind of earthly watery condition that can be salted out. Gold will react with hydrocyanic acid. One might think of cyanide as an earthly gas, more so than bromine or chlorine, which are both gases in their native state. I like to think of the cyanide making a gold that is more related to the atmosphere that we know was the atmosphere of ancient times, now so designated by modern science. And finally gold will react with aqua regia—“king’s water”—a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. Here we might think not of the atmosphere, but of the sun itself, which cajoles gold into a sun-gold condition through this kingly mixture.
Because gold is so unreactive we tend not to think of its chemistry. However there is a very extensive chemistry of gold connected with organic substances. I have a three-hundred page book on the chemistry of gold, most of which is devoted to the organochemistry of this substance. It is a golden book costing one hundred dollars. Its cover is green and gold, very appropriate to its content.
Of great interest is colloidal gold, which can show almost all the colors of the spectrum. The color depends on the concentration of the gold in the solution. Here it is not a chemical process, but one of the gold tending to take on a relation with the watery.
A very interesting aspect of gold is its various isotopes. About thirty different isotopes have been made and described. Most of the half-life of these isotopes is very short. To me this means that the stable form of gold is actually the natural form and the earthly condition of this substance is difficult to change. Some of the isotopic forms exist for only a matter of minutes. If we think of isotopes as the tendency for a substance to overcome earthliness in taking on radiant forms, then we can see that different forms are possible with gold, but this is not stable and the earthly form wants by all means to maintain itself. This says to me something about gold, which is that it is very much under the force systems of the earth. It is just this quality that is important to us, as it speaks to the difficultly by which this substance can be redeemed from the Fall.
Let me now try to put gold into a sevenfold scheme and suggest a relationship with the seven aspects of the etheric.
1. Gold has one of the greatest tensile strengths in the metal group. It can be drawn into fine threads. Life-ether force is active here.
2. Gold in its natural state is not very hard and is quite easily molded by pressure from other substances. It is malleable, like something that is still slightly liquid, as for example, mercury. Here chemical-ether force is considered, as gold still retains something of a liquid.
3. Gold is light related, and this can be seen in its sheen. Its color is distinctive. Its reflective activity is somewhat radiant, which can be seen as a light-ether relation. A very interesting relation to light can be seen when the gold is made into a thin leaf. Light passing through the leaf appears green, a dead image of life. Here one can contemplate the darkness of the gold; but at the same time the darkness can approach the realm of light, as evidenced in the life of the plant. Light ether may be considered.
4. Gold is very much related to warmth and to heat. It has the highest melting point of any metal—over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. But it also has a warmth relation, which has a human soul connection. When certain individuals hold gold in their hands, the gold takes on a kind of human soul warmth. Here the warmth state and warmth ether can be considered. This is the transition from the purely physical to the more living and soul-like nature of this substance.
5. Gold is an excellent electrical conductor and as such gives evidence of a fallen light relation, which is electricity. Here gold shows its relation with sub-earthly forces.
6. Gold has no relation with chemical processes that take place in man. That is, the relation with oxygen is lacking. Gold has to be brought into relation with substances that have tremendous heat potential by chemical reactions in order to become active chemically. This heat relation I interpret as gold having to overcome its sub-earthly existence in order to react chemically. The chemical-ether nature is therefore unusual. Its organochemical activities appear to be related to non-respiratory like activities. A metabolic activity can be contemplated, but one that is bound to the processes of the earth and not that of plant, (except the earthly plant process) animal or man. Its chemism, then, may be depicted as one of the earth, where the sub-earthly forces are active.
7. Gold has the highest specific gravity of any metal. It is over 19, while that of lead is the only metal that comes close, with a specific gravity of 14. This unit-volume relation with water speaks of the density of gold, or one might say the sub-earthly force of gravity. It is therefore compacted to a degree not found in other metals, and therefore bears the stamp of the force system of compression or compaction, not hardness. Gold, as noted, is not hard, but it is dense like no other substance on earth. Even with this compaction it maintains a mobility that saves it from being too hard and enables, under some conditions, a chemism of the earth.
The Being of Gold
As we have heard, gold is not related to the physical of man, or the etheric or the astral. It is related to thinking soul life, and as such, within the earthly domain, can be held captive by the earth and sub-earthly forces, but its true being lies in the sphere where human thinking takes place. This thinking is not ordinary thinking, but thinking related to higher life. It is not a substance related to the usual intellectual life, but comes to play a role when this intellectual life can be transformed for higher life.
We have heard that it is sun-related. This gives a clue that it is archetypical for the realm of metals. Metals may be seen as arising at the time of Sun-evolution. As we know, the animal kingdom was born at that time. When substance is through and through penetrated by the forces that are at work in the movement of the animal, that is the astral, then substance becomes a metal. Metals do not move but have a relation with light, which I see as a counterpart of movement in pure substance. This substance-movement equivalent is luster. Thus luster is a kind of soul-like activity of a metal. As such, there is a kind of Luciferic quality to these substances. Here we can distinguish the crystal from the metal by noting the exact form of the crystals and the fact that crystals grow. Metals do not grow; they have a sheen, which gives colors in the process.
From spiritual science we learn that gold in contrast to other metals has kept this Luciferic relation. The seven metals of the planetary world have their being in the planetary world that is of the rank of the Spirits of Wisdom. However, gold has its beingness in relation to Lucifer, and thereby with the domain of the Trinity, with God. Something of the domain of the eternal, the province of the Eons, remains united with gold. Not so with the other metals, whose beingness lies more within the sphere of time, within the evolution that began on Saturn. Thus, gold can lead man to the very beginning of time and to Saturn-evolution, and even before that. We are locked into the world of time by the crystal world. The zodiacal forces at play in the crystal lock us into the heavenly sphere of our evolution. However, gold has inherent in it the province beyond the world of the Zodiac, the Trinity, or Nirvana. If we are to approach this lofty sphere it is our higher thinking capacity that can enable this. It is, therefore, the inner nature of this being that we have to take into our soul in a kind of thinking that can grasp the spirit; that can rise into the realm of the Eons, the Trinity.
With this lofty perspective we then have to look to the opposite domain, that of Ahriman. This substance, which was born on Sun and carried the impulse of “before the beginning” has followed the path of other substances. That is, gold has become subjected to the Fall along with the other metals and minerals. In the considerations above we can see how thoroughly gold has taken on the sub-earthly forces to become the densest substance on earth, while bearing a potential for the highest of provinces connected with earthly evolution. Gold lies within the hands of Ahriman like no other substance on earth, while at the same time it hides a Luciferic impulse of extra-ordinary dimension.
In the following passage from Mystery Centers you can read a section that points in the direction that I am trying to develop, but with my orientation directed more to gold:
“In even more remote times we come to conditions where there are only surging and weaving color formations, appearing and disappearing. And if you turn to the descriptions of Old Sun, of Old Saturn, given in the book Occult Science, you will find that this is understandable when it is realized that these conditions belong to a far, far distant past. At that stage the evanescent plant-formations fill themselves with albuminous substance and begin to look like clouds. At still earlier stages we can speak only of color formations such as I described in connection with Old Sun or Old Saturn.
“If therefore we go back from physical conditions with the ‘elephantine’ quality they have today through finer physical conditions, we finally reach the spiritual. In this way, by paying attention to actual realities we come to realize that everything belonging to the earth has its origin in the spiritual. This is a matter of actual vision. And I think it is also a beautiful idea to be able to say to oneself: If you penetrate into the interior of the Earth and let the hard metals tell you their memories, they will say to you: Once upon a time we were so widely diffused over the cosmic expanse that we were not physical substances at all but were simply color, weaving and hovering, undulating in the spiritual Cosmos. The memories of the metals of the Earth go back to a condition when each metal was a cosmic color permeating the others, when the cosmos was a kind of spectrum, a rainbow that differentiated and then became physical.
“And it is at this point that the merely theoretical impression communicated to us by the metals of the Earth becomes a moral impression. For every metal says to us: I come from the cosmic expanse far away from the Earth. I come from the spheres of Heaven and have been compressed, enchanted into the interior of the Earth. But I await my redemption, for in time to come my essential being will again pervade the Universe.”
The substance gold can be considered to be born out of the world of the Eons, the world of the Father, to enter this world like the Son who was also born from the domain of the Eons. The great being known in Chaldean mythology as Ea-El lives in this world. Thus something of the Mother Ea-El, the Father, and Son indwell the very being of gold in its make up and working. The being of gold reaches into this province, and for this reason we men sense something unusual about its being.
Gold in History
It is not so easy to gather an exact history of gold in man’s cultural evolution. From what I can gather at this time, gold was a metal used in spiritual life from the beginning of Indian cultural activity. There, seemingly, its role was related to religious life. The ancients used gold in relation to priestly religious life. It would seem that just as gold is related to the highest, so in striving for the highest this metal was significant for this purpose.
During the Persian period we hear of gold in relation to the Magi. We celebrate this fact in the Christian tradition with the gift of gold to the child born in Bethlehem. If we consider the Magi as those who were the bearers of the impulse of mathematics before the advent of Abraham, as those who brought the faculty of mathematics and thinking from the time of Atlantis, then we can consider that one impulse of the Magi was that of the gold of the thinking that contains impulses of the Divine. From the priestly of the first cultural epoch, now in the second epoch something of an ego element is added to the religious striving. Though the Magi brought the Divine in the form of mathematical activity, they also brought the impulse to act in social life. Not only the life of the Gods was important, but man’s life as an earthly dweller was important. One might consider the other substances of the Magi, myrrh and frankincense, as important here. Here the other soul activities of feeling and earthly willing become important. Here one can think of kingly, but as well, of priestly activity. The priestly aspect of the Magi becomes earthly in the process, thus the birth of agriculture. This means that we can see the Magi as rulers of men, but also as leaders who in a priestly way took up the care and transformation of the earth.
In the Egyptian period, gold begins to become more and more important. If I understand rightly, Nubia [today a loosely defined region of southern Egypt and northern Sudan] is the Egyptian name for gold. We hear of the riches of the priest-kings of this cultural epoch. Also, we can learn from Rudolf Steiner, gold was very important in the Chaldean period. It was, along with antimony, important in the initiation activities of the Chaldean Mysteries. I gather that gold was given internally in homeopathic doses to the pupils of the mysteries, and antimony was applied to the eyelids. In a way this makes sense, as the Chaldeans began to turn their gaze out into the world in a way that had been begun during the Persian epoch. We hear that Zarathustra reincarnated as Zoroaster during this time, so we can expect something of the inward to turn outward at this time. As the Egypto-Chaldean epoch was unfolding in a spiritual direction, impulses of retardation began to unfold. Rudolf Steiner speaks of fallen angels that came to indwell the Egyptian Mysteries. With these angels, a truly materialistic trend was set in motion in these mysteries. I gather that at this time the impulses to personal possession and greed were brought to man in the form of material acquisitions. At somewhat the same time the incarnation of Lucifer was taking place in the mysteries of the Far East. The impulse of these mysteries from China were brought to the West by Genghis Kahn. There in the East, personal possession was more related to spiritual content in the form of ecstatic experiences. I wonder if the production and sale of silk was more a sign of the materialism of this impulse in contrast to that of gold in Egypt. Silk became the medium of acquisition—a substance spun out of the activity of the moth—the silk moth. Here is a substance that in a way remains quite related to the supra-earthly, but was very much the basis for developing commerce via the land. The Phoenicians did the same on the sea. Whatever the case, silk, commerce and gold seem to be very much a part of the working of Lucifer, while a major fall into materialism was taking place with the fall of the angels during the Egyptian period. To follow up with the Fall further we would have to turn to the Mysteries of Mesoamerica, which we will do shortly.
A very significant step in the cultural history of gold was taken in the Greco-Roman period. Here we learn that Alexander had gold coins made. They bore the image of his head. This practice continued during the Roman times, when the caesars had the image of their heads imprinted onto coins. Interestingly, it is Alexander who seems to have introduced this practice. If we take what we have considered in relation to his initiation we can see a real step into materialism by this act. The higher alchemical transformation is absent in the making of gold coins, but gold is thereby brought into the world of commerce through the deeds of a warrior, that is, Alexander.
Gold became the building stones of Roman cultural unfolding. The Church, after the Mystery of Golgotha, began accumulating gold, and gold became the center of the Church’s temporal power. This institution become so involved with the acquisition of gold that soldiers were hired to mine gold in Spain. Gold was used to pay the soldiers, and in the process gold was lost to the Church and fell into the hands of men. It is recorded that the Church lost its power as it lost its gold. Of course, the gilded interiors of the churches remained, and particularly in the eastern churches. Rudolf Steiner again and again speaks of how Rome was born out of the murder of Remus by Romulus. Romulus also populated Rome by the prostitution of woman. Rudolf Steiner asks that we not lose track of this fact in the birth of Rome. It is, of course, a fallen impulse in the unfolding of this Roman cultural impulse. To this we have to add the additional fall of gold as gold came to serve the willful expansion of a religious institution.
Next we can turn to the activity of Godfrey de Bouillon, the initiator of the Crusades in 1100 AD. This resulted in Hugues de Payens from France going to Jerusalem, where he then founded the order of Templars, the Knights Templar. As we know, this order became the overseers of the work with gold. It was they who bought so much gold to France. In 1313 the Templar Order was exterminated by Philip the Fair, and he forbade that gold could be carried out of the country. Philip the Fair lived from 1268 to 1314. Rudolf Steiner indicates that he had a kind of initiation with gold, which led to his actions and resulted in France rising to power out of the economics of gold. Steiner further indicates that those Templars who were murdered by Philip entered the spiritual world to work back into human culture by bringing the impulse to the soul of Goethe to write the Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. I surmise that it is the working of the black magic impulse of the Mesoamerican Mysteries into the initiation of Philip, that led Philip to his deeds. It is in relation to these mysteries that Rudolf Steiner speaks of the murder of the Templars. One can think that the fallen angels entered very strongly into these mysteries.
This leads us to 1492, to Columbus, where again came an impulse to traverse the world, very much in search of gold. This search led to the Mexican Mysteries, to human sacrifice, to the attempt to gain human gold. That is, the human heart was taken hold of through the ritual murders in the Mayan Mysteries. We shall take this up shortly. By 1500 to 1600 many Europeans were murdered in these mysteries. The conquest of the gold of the earth now became the conquest of the gold in man, the organ of gold, the human heart.
By 1816, gold had become the gold standard for commerce in England; it became the earthly anchor for an etheric activity, this is commerce. In 1850, the Gold Rush began in the West of the United States, so that every man might awaken to the dream of wealth and power. And also, we can think of the gold that was buried in the vaults of Fort Knox in the USA around the 1930s. Now, finally, masses of gold, vaulted and guarded, made the US the most powerful nation in the world. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer was of the mind that whoever had the greatest mass of gold in the world had the greatest power. He sensed that this power has been, for some years, going over to China. China is becoming the nation amassing the most gold and will thereby become the most powerful nation in the world.
What we can see in history is that gold has become a tremendously important substance in man’s social relationships. Our economic life is often not seen as a very important side of human relatedness, but in fact it is. For this reason we have from the Rosicrucians the view that our economic life is a very crucial aspect of fraternality. Of course, this is missing today, and it is a great tragedy. If we could find another relationship to gold we might find another relationship to the economic life. As economic life is taking on an increasingly selfish quality, we can wonder at the role of gold in all of this. As commerce is an activity very much related to the ether world, commerce need not be tied to gold as a monetary basis. What is needed is trust in our fellow man and, as the saying goes, trust in God. Now we trust in gold. If we could free gold from this role, it might find another place in our economic life. On every dollar bill in the USA we find the words “In God We Trust,” but we do not. Today what we trust is when a certain weight of gold is imprisoned in Fort Knox. If we were to come to the real being of gold then the Godly element in economics might take another turn. Recently there has been a push in the investment market to invest in gold and other precious metals to assure our future. However, if gold could be seen in its potential for service to humankind, then we might find the other relationship. However, for that to occur we will need a different appreciation for the being of this metal. If gold would go through a process of devaluation and re-valuation on a regular basis as it circulates and is not just stored somewhere, then another relationship with this substance might be gained. If gold was devaluated at 2% per year when not in circulation, it would have a totally different meaning for man. Then we would see it in its social aspect and would be led to a more selfless relation to gold. Perhaps this could, in fact, lead us to trust in God. The devaluating process that occurs with our capital assets when applied to gold could place this substance in another light.
It seems to me that gold cannot be understood unless it is seen in relation to the Mexican Mysteries and the Mystery of Golgotha. For this reason I will try to weave these two last aspects into our considerations. In both cases we will have to draw heavily on Rudolf Steiner’s investigations.
The Mexican Mysteries
In the Mexican Mysteries, Rudolf Steiner begins by pointing to Atlantis with its great Sun Mystery, where there was a mighty being who in the west was known as the Great White Father. Out of this mystery was a stream that went east. This eastern stream was led by Lucifer and culminated in the mysteries of China. Into this mystery stream, Lucifer incarnated in 3000 BC. A western stream also originated in this Atlantean Sun Mystery. This stream moved west and led over to the Americas. This stream was led by Ahriman who is to incarnate in 3000 AD. In the process of this impulse the Toatl Mysteries arose. These mysteries were to give an Ahrimanic initiation impulse in the mysteries that unfolded in Mesoamerica—that is, in the lands of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and the Yucatan peninsula. In his cycle on these mysteries, Rudolf Steiner focuses on the Aztec Mysteries of the Mayan culture.
I have tried to trace the unfolding of the Mesoamerican culture, and as best as I can see, it has a parallel with the unfolding of the western culture out of the lands of Mesopotamia beginning in 6000 BC. The Mayan culture occurs later in the unfolding of this area of the world. The Mayan cultural impulse was preceded by many thousands of years of cultural activity. As just indicated, there appears to have been cultural activities in Mesoamerica that can be traced to 6000 BC. About 3000 BC, cultures developed that can be followed to meet with the Mayan cultural impulse. As the Mayan culture declined and faded, the Toltec Mysteries arose between 900 AD and 1400 AD. This gave way to the Aztec impulse, which flourished from 1300 to 1600 AD. I surmise that all of these cultures and mystery impulses grew out of the Toatl workings. If one reviews the history of this region of the world, it is astonishing to see how cultural impulses arose with their mysteries only to very suddenly disappear. From one day to another a whole culture, with its mystery impulse, vanished to leave what today are some very incredible remains of temples and cities. Slowly, anthropologists realized that there had been very significant civilizations in the history of Western civilization, going back thousands of years, just as there had been in the case of the Middle East.
What Rudolf Steiner focuses on in these western unfoldings is the role of human sacrifice as the essential aspect of their mystery practices. He indicates that this was an essential quality of the Toatl Mysteries. This he says belongs to the Ahrimanic impulse and enables a human being to become a master of human sacrifice. He relates how the greatest of all black magicians known to the world evolved in the mystery stream here under consideration as the very active spiritual being known as Quetzalcoatl. This was a Mercury being who brought illness and cancer to man. I gather that this planetary being was of the rank of an archangel, as for example Raphael, but in this case was an Ahrimanic being. This being could work into mankind in these mysteries because it was heralded as a beneficent being, in contrast to the being known as Tezcatlipoca. Rudolf Steiner indicates that the populace was seduced into believing Tezcatlipoca was a malevolent being. However, Rudolf Steiner makes a startling revelation about this being. He tells us that this was a being of the rank of Jahve, who worked for man’s good and thereby strove to overcome Quetzalcoatl. After considerable contemplation I have come to think that it may have been this Jahve-like being, from the rank of the Elohim, who fashioned the etheric double for man. By this means man can have a relation with the fallen ether and also work to redeem the fallen ether, which has fallen because of the activity of Ahriman. As Jahve worked into the warmth ether to fashion the bloodline of the Hebrews, and thereby mankind, so this Elohim being might be considered to have fashioned a double where the fallen ethers play a role. I wonder if this is not the being spoken of as Mammon by the Hebrews?
The basis for my consideration is that Rudolf Steiner has gone to some pains to reveal the reality of the double, the etheric geographic double, which man takes on at birth and gives off at death. This double is of the greatest import, as it enables man to have a relation with the sub-earthly forces that belong to our earth. If man found no relation with the sub-earthly forces, the earth would fall out of evolution, and Ahriman would be able to become the sole ruler on earth. Through the double, man has an intimate relationship with the earth and can work to redeem the earth, which has fallen into the workings of these sub-nature forces of Ahriman. By this means, Ahriman is not forsaken, nor is the earth.
Whatever the case, ritual murders grew in the light of the Toatl impulse and the Great Black Magician. Rudolf Steiner indicates that through ritual murdering, which is the basis of black magic, this human being (and I think it important to note that this was a human being) came to be the leader of these mysteries. Because of the working of the Great Black Magician, Earth-evolution came into danger. This is what Rudolf Steiner indicates. It is a shocking thought that a human being could endanger the evolution of our planet. If this is true, it points to the potential dire consequences that a single human being can have for our planet. A further remarkable revelation by Rudolf Steiner from his spiritual-scientific research in regard to these mysteries is that a mighty being, born of a virgin, lived on earth, but only as a spiritual being, between 0 and 33 AD. Rudolf Steiner indicates that this virgin-birthed being more than likely overshone a human being in the way of the avatars in olden times. And this being was able to bring it about that the Black Magician was crucified in 33 AD. This paralleled the Mystery of Golgotha, in which a totally innocent being was crucified, while in the Mayan event a most guilty being was crucified. Rudolf Steiner tells us that this crucifixion brought this evil impulse to a halt. Because of this deed, the force of the Black Magician was brought within the bounds of a progressive evolution. This being is named Vitzliputzli, in the language used by Rudolf Steiner.
With these revelations, anyone interested in the working of the mysteries can stand in awe before the complexity of what lies around us unseen and unknown by so many—and as well, uncaring. However if what Rudolf Steiner has revealed is true—and fortunately some investigators are beginning to be concerned, seeking this truth—then we have a very serious impulse to deal with in our evolution. Such deeds are written in the Book of the World, and some souls may be inclined to follow such black magic workings. It is just such workings that Rudolf Steiner sought to bring to man’s consciousness to help us, man, to cope with what we meet in life. As I have indicated, perhaps the impulse of the Black Magician led to the initiation of Philip the Fair. If not, why did Rudolf Steiner speak of the Templar mysteries when speaking of these mysteries of Mesoamerica. I also wonder if these mysteries came to play a leading role in the unfolding of the school at Gondishapur and the death of Mani. Further, one has to wonder if it is not these mysteries that led to the temptation of Christ by Ahriman.
I should like now to spend some time considering these mysteries of ritual murder, since I think they are very important in relation to our subject. Rudolf Steiner indicates that in this initiation the initiate is trained to remove the stomach of a living human who is stretched upon a scaffold. The removal had to be done with a single movement and required the acquisition of tremendous skill. Rudolf Steiner’s report is at variance from the commonly held description of the procedure, which is that the initiate had to remove the heart. I suggest that possibly both are truth and both fit in with a certain consideration regarding gold. My view goes something like this. It is based on the investigations of Rudolf Steiner into the occult physiology of man. I think that the abdomen was incised and the stomach freed with a movement of the hand and knife following the inferior vena cava to the heart, which then was also removed. This path from the stomach to the heart corresponds to the path from the cosmos (the coelom with the stomach) to the earth (lung) and then to the interior of the earth (the heart). This corresponds to the path of gold in its fall into the sub-earthly force systems, to the Fall of substance. The stomach sits in the coelom, which means “heaven.” There lies the origin of gold, and there also lies the realm of Lucifer. At the ritual murder, Lucifer could receive the soul of the murdered victim. And with the removal of the physical organs of the stomach and heart, Ahriman could take hold of the double of the physical body of the departed soul. The initiate could live into the two domains during this process, which resulted in the negation of the human soul. The human soul must not be taken hold of by Lucifer, nor the body by Ahriman. Rather, the human organism needs to be transformed by the human soul so that the body in turn does not totally become the possession of Ahriman. The human soul needs both self and selflessness unfolding for the evolution of a planetary soul world, where Lucifer has to continually be brought into relation with time, brought into evolution. This rather horrific initiation process, as we learn from Rudolf Steiner, was brought to a close by the deed of Vitzliputzli. Perhaps we have to see this event in conjunction with the Mystery of Golgotha, which was not an event that was only a local affair but was a deed for man, earth and the cosmos. Perhaps we can now turn to this great mystery to seek for the redemption of gold and the future course of the earth and human unfolding.
The Redemption of Gold
To take up the redemption of gold and the Christ Mystery let me turn to the “Fifth Gospel.” Here Rudolf Steiner speaks of the temptations of Ahriman at the time of the forty days in the wilderness. With the first temptation Lucifer seeks to draw the Christ into his domain. He seeks to have the Christ overcome gravity so that a true earthly incarnation does not take place. This temptation is overcome. Next, both Lucifer and Ahriman tempt the Christ. The temptation now is to have dominion as ruler over the entire earth, meaning that the earth will not find its own destiny in the cosmos. Again, the Christ as a spiritual being can overcome this temptation because the temptation is not of the earth alone. Finally, comes the third temptation.
“Then Ahriman bade Lucifer depart, made the final attack as Ahriman alone, and spoke the words of which the Gospel of St. Matthew contains an echo: Turn mineral substance into bread! Turn stones into bread, if thou wouldst boast of Divine power! Then said the Christ Being: Men do not live by bread alone, but by the spiritual forces which come from the spiritual worlds. None knew this better than He for He had just descended from the spiritual worlds. Then Ahriman said: Thou mayest indeed be right, but that cannot prevent me from keeping a certain hold upon thee. Thou knowest only how the Spirit acts, the Spirit who descends from the heights; thou hast not yet lived in the world of men. There below, in the human world, there are men, who must perforce makes stones into bread, who cannot draw their nourishment from the Spirit alone. That was the moment when Ahriman communicated to Christ something that could indeed be known on Earth, but could not yet be known by the God who had now come to Earth for the first time. He did not know that there below it was necessary to turn mineral substance—metal—into money, into bread. Ahriman had said that men on the Earth below had to nourish themselves by means of ‘Gold’. That was the point where Ahriman still retained power. And he said: I shall use this power!”
With this, the struggle begins. Christ has to deal with Ahriman from then on. As Christ becomes increasingly incarnated the Ahrimanic working has to be dealt with. This is the case with all mineral substance, and the winning of the mineral for the province of the Christ is accomplished with the Mystery of Golgotha—except for the substance of gold. Man still has to make mineral substance into bread and also comes to be increasingly dependent on gold in human associations, particularly in the realm of economics.
This descent of the Christ from the world of the divine parallels the descent of gold. Out of this world the Christ then gives the prayer that we know as the Lord’s Prayer. Here the Fall and the striving to overcome the Fall is addressed. Here we find the descent out of the realm of the Father and at the same time the addressing of man in his sevenfold constitution.
Our Father which art in Heaven
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever and ever—Amen.
This is the path of a God incarnating into a human body and then penetrating into the earth with the Mystery of Golgotha. That which is above is lead to the below to take up the below. The gesture of the prayer is one of redemption from above, as with a mighty cult or ritual.
However, there is another process spoken of in the cycle. This process is the reverse of the one to be found in the Lord’s Prayer. In the latter process it is the fallen human soul who addresses evil and from there seeks to rise to the heights of heaven. Now we have a reverse ritual and reverse process, first spoken to one of the mightiest of spirits who had come to human incarnation. This is the Solomon-Zarathustra being, who walked the path of Jesus to the Baptism, which enabled him to give a body to the Christ. This is a lifting of the human organization to the domain of the divine. That which has fallen and has become subject to the working of the earth and Ahriman is penetrated by the ego of Zarathustra to be transformed and made available for the incarnation of the Christ. It is known by most who are students of Anthroposophy that the body of Zarathustra was given to him by the Adam-Kadmon being, who indwelled the Nathan Jesus for twelve years. At twelve years, this Adam being, which was close to his first incarnation, left the body to ascend into the spiritual world. This Adam being gave his organism to Zarathustra at the time of the visit to the Temple at twelve years of age. My surmise is that it is this being departed to give his body to Zarathustra, the Zarathustra ego, who is known in the Hebrew tradition as Bath Kol. At this point I cannot confirm this but sense this direction because of the connection between the prayer of this being and the laying of the foundation stone for the first Goetheanum. This was the first time that this prayer was spoken by Rudolf Steiner. This being is integral to the being of Anthroposophia. This being one might say gave the wisdom of man out of the domain of the Sophia. When this being spoke directly to Rudolf Steiner he gave the prayer that had been given to Zarathustra not long before Zarathustra gave over his body to the Christ. There is hardly another spirit who knew Ahriman better than Zarathustra. To him, Bath Kol could give the prayer as the reverse cultic revelation of a striving to raise the physical to the spirit. For those not familiar with it, this prayer is
The evils hold sway,
Witness of Egoity becoming free,
Selfhood through others incurred,
Experienced in the Daily Bread,
Wherein the Will of the Heavens does not rule,
In that Man severed himself from Your Kingdom,
And forgot Your Names,
Ye Fathers in the Heavens.
Now let us ask about the future in relation to Ahriman. This is necessary as we contemplate the Fall of substance in relation to Lucifer and Ahriman.
“During the rest of Earth-evolution, until the Vulcan period, the workings of the higher hierarchies cannot drive Ahriman altogether from the field, although through spiritual effort it will not be impossible to vanquish the inner tempting of Lucifer—the desires, cravings, passions and all that arises as pride, vainglory, arrogance. For when Lucifer alone attacks a man, he can be vanquished by spiritual effort. When Lucifer and Ahriman in conjunction attack a man, then also, spiritual victory can be achieved. But when Ahriman is alone, his activity penetrates right down into the material processes of Earth-evolution. And here he cannot be driven entirely from the field. Ahriman, Mephistopheles, Mammon (these concepts are synonymous) are hidden in gold; in everything, moreover, that brings egotism into play in the material world. In as much as some element of materialism must inevitably be part and parcel of human life, Ahriman has to be reckoned with.”
From this perspective we can contemplate that there will be the continual need that what has fallen from the Father, from heaven, as gold, and become the possession of Ahriman, will have to be transformed and redeemed. With this, the earthly gold will have to be raised into watery gold, and this in turn into airy gold. Finally, the gold of warmth will have to arise so that the being of this substance can reveal its relation to the domain out of which it has fallen. I gather that this can be done only by man and is part of the process in which a reverse cultic path is taken. This path might be considered as one that is portrayed in the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. The line of consideration might be as follows. There is the gold that belongs to the Will-of-the-Wisps. This is the gold that falls to earth and becomes the gold of Ahriman. It is man who, through his common intellect, materializes the gold. This produces Will-of-the-Wisp gold. There is also earthly gold, the gold that lies dispersed in the veins of the earth, and the gold of the waters (alluvial) and of the atmosphere. When this is taken hold of it becomes kingly. Here the soul enters the cosmos and works for the process of initiation, where human soul life becomes cosmic process. This involves a higher form of metal, kingly-metal, like that which becomes pure as through the chemical processes involved with Chlorine, Bromide and Aqua Regia. This gold can be made into remedies. Then there is Luciferic gold, which I would identify with the realm of the Lily, where if man consumes such gold activity without preparation he dies into Lucifer’s world. A proper gold for this domain can be made by volatilizing gold and then precipitating the gold onto a mirror where it gives the color green to light. Next, within man there is a gold, and this appears as a kind of “mixed king.” This is the gold of ordinary physical soul life. Gold can be liberated from the mixture by the purification of the soul. I would identify this as a kind of purity of the soul that lives in the blood that is etherized. And finally there is another gold process, a soul process that redeems gold in the light stream of the redeemed snake, that is, the kidney radiations, which can carry gold to the head to become a vessel that receives nourishment as a pure nourishment in the form of the experience of the Holy Grail. Much would have to be said to enlarge on this sketch of the redemption of gold, but it would seem that this could best be done by a thorough consideration of the myth of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. However, this seems to be a point where the current contemplation about gold could come to a close.