Ireland and its Mysteries in Relationship to the
Story of the Initiation of Tobit and the Tabula Smaragdina
Ireland has been called the Emerald Isle or the Green Island.It is a part of the British Isles and sits in the Atlantic Ocean. Its history is difficult to take hold of. Ireland differs from many lands in so far as much of its history is mythological. Thus when the actual physical birth as earth unfolds in relationship to human culture, all of this is difficult to grasp. Its history is written in myth and story – the Irish tales. Some of the material I would like to share comes from Dr. Hans Heinrich Engel. He became deeply involved in Irish history, its legends, myths, folk development and culture. He was a member of the Camphill Community and a physician. I have gradually tried to accumulate materials from Rudolf Steiner’s indications as well. I have also begun to accumulate materials from other sources. I have not yet found all of Rudolf Steiner’s references pertaining to this region of the world. However, I would like to make another step in considering Ireland. The first step was made when we shared the Holy Nights of 1990.
Let me try to put the history of Ireland into a seven-fold developmental sequence. This seven-fold development begins in the time of pre-history and culminates with the Celtic invasion which we here will consider 500 BC. (Some date the Celtic impulse to pre-history). I would ask that this sharing not be taken in a dogmatic way. As I noted, the search for the history of this land varies with almost each historian, each researcher. Therefore, I would hope that this all can be held in a very tentative fashion.
Let us begin with the first soul-spiritual beings that have to do with the unfolding of Ireland. They are called the Parthelons. They exist in an etheric astral condition, I gather. My suspicion is that the activities of the Parthelons represent activities from the time of ancient Sun. Then comes the work of the Nemedians. These are beings who bring the process of Ireland closer to the earth. The third step of unfolding belongs to the Firbologs. These are beings-souls who actually touch the earth, have to do with the earth. Their initiation practices involve activities with totem experience. They begin to establish a direct relationship with the earth itself. Their initiation most likely belongs to an arriving on earth and then finding their way back to the spiritual world. Somewhere the time of Noah-Manu may be involved here. My understanding is that souls who underwent initiation in this period were sent out into the world to undergo great trials. In initiation, they came to near-death experiences through deprivation of food and severe trials. They would undergo such trying experiences so that their soul could enter the astral world to meet an animal – a totem – a group soul being. The animal being, as it were, would appear to the individual and lead the individual to be initiated to substances of the plant world in order to be nourished. These substances were put into a bag and hung around the neck of the initiate. The bag produced a bulge in front of the individual. He then had to walk the earth with this bag. It seems to me that here we grasp a period of human unfolding and initiation where the soul comes into the astral world through fasting, through ascetic practices and through severe trials. Humans died in the process. Through the consuming of plant substance – healing substances, the soul could enter a higher ether world – the world of the plant. This is my current perspective. The world of the etheric – the plant kingdom-world, we might consider in the unfolding of Ireland. Ireland points to the step from the astral world unfolding to etheric world domain. The physical unfolding of the Firbolog is deeply penetrated by the etheric of the plant and very likely the crystal world as well. Astral, ether and finally physical crystal conditions of matter, suggest that we are dealing with the approach of Atlantean times. The great flood of Atlantis follows. However, the area of Ireland seems to be held in the world of the etheric. This step wise unfolding of Ireland can be seen as a descent out of the spiritual world, touching the physical world as the Atlantean-deluvian episode occurred. Ireland is held to be a kind of a paradisiacal revelation on earth. We might consider that much of the earth congealed into its earthliness. Ireland descended out of the ether-astral world to touch on the physical world. Ireland retains something of the Hyperborean-Atlantean sun influence – a higher ether working. Ireland carries less of the subnature forces than other lands on earth, so we are told by Rudolf Steiner. Earth nature does not completely take hold of its makeup. Here men found initiation. It is an initiation that is connected with the higher ether world, with nourishment through plant and mineral. The struggle appears to have been how to find the way from the astral into the etheric cosmos.
The next step in Ireland’s development is a more physical unfolding, but still the ether workings of the cosmos are significant. This is the time of Tuatha-de-Denaan. We can find an intimation that this step belongs to the birth of the soul being, the folk-spirit, of this land. The folk-soul being is called Bridget, who later indwelled the earthly Bride. The legend about her suggests that she is the bringer of new ether forces – new life to this continent. She is like an eternal Mother-feminine arriving out of the cosmic distances. She brings new ether elements. She brings the ether from the north, from the land of the Fabrias. The Midjians from this land bring the Stone of Destiny. This ether element from the north, depicted as stone, a stone related to Destiny, is one of the folds of the four-fold garment of Bridget. From the west, from Mirias land, the being Dagda brings the cauldron. The ether of life and growth is brought here. From the east, from the land of Findreas, Agona brought the sword of light. The element of wisdom comes through the “light-ether”, and from the south and from the domain or the land of the Georgias, Meada brought the spear of victory. The fire light of victory, warmth ether element, is brought from the south. Bridget gathers her garment from the distances of the cosmos. New ether cosmic elements, new elements from the sister-soul of Adam – Adam Cadman, are brought to the earth so that there can be an earthly paradisiacal condition on Ireland. Through this unfolding there is something of a redeeming, a new greening, a new making of a crystalline life on the earth. Ireland becomes the expression of life, of green, also of a crystalline (emerald) stone. In the latter part of this developmental phase, my understanding is that the Persian Habich came to Ireland to bring the influence of Zarathustra.
Next in Ireland’s history is the work of the Godolins. There are intimations of Hermitic-Egyptian influences that came from the south with their coming. There followed activities of the Sons of Mil, warrior-artisans, invaders from the Isle of Mellitus. It is now that the Greek influence of Orpheus is brought from the Mysteries of Greece to Ireland. This implants the activity of song and speech into the culture of this Island. Now comes the impulse for the singer, for the unfolding of the bard.
And finally it is told that the Celts arrived about 500 BC. They invaded the whole of Europe, streamed through Europe to come to Ireland. Some speak of Celts from the beginning of Irish history. They brought the ever renewing impulse from the Mysteries of Colchis, from the Black Sea. As noted, renewing and enculturating impulses came to Ireland in the time of the Tuatha de Denaan, through the Godolians, (the Egyptians) and through the Milisians, (the Greeks). The Colchis Mysteries continuously streamed west. It appears that finally with the Celts, the Colchis Mystery flows directly to the Isle of Green. So we have come to the time of the Mystery of Golgotha.
At the Turning Point of Time, we were told that the Mystery of Golgotha was beheld in Ireland. The Resurrection was beheld in a vision by St. Bride who now has become an earthly individual. We were told that in earlier times the Hibernian and Druid Mysteries were present in this land. In these mysteries, events of the physical world were lifted into the etheric and perceived there. We might now turn to these mysteries. First, the Hibernian Mysteries.
These mysteries are revealed by Rudolf Steiner. He has spoken of them in the (lecture – editor) cycle, The Mystery Centers. My impression is that these mysteries took place, occurred, as it were, in sequestered circumstances on this Island. The time of occurrence was probably somewhere at the time of the activities of the Nemedians, the Firbologs and the Tuatha-de-Denaan.
From what Rudolf Steiner tells us, these were rather unusual mysteries. It appears that the Hibernian mystery carried on the first mystery cult enactments on this island. The island probably was only slowly becoming solidified at the end of the deluvian and beginning of the post-Atlantean period. The mysteries were established in relation to the seasons. The two seasons at that time were a reflection of the Atlantean cosmic circumstance. The seasons being established there were summer and winter. There were two essential seasons. Probably spring and fall unfolded later. We are told in the astronomy course by Rudolf Steiner that a three seasoned year existed in ancient time. Only more recently did the four seasons become established. I gather that in the time of the Hibernian mysteries, seasonal activity came into existence – cosmic conditions and earth rotational activity was born so that seasons could take place.
The Hibernian initiation occurred around two figures – statues. One was male, the other female. They were made of different materials so that when the male statue was manipulated, it held its form. The female figure always reestablished it own form. We are told that the male statue was related to the sun – the sun was carried as the head. The female was related to the moon – the lower body was moon-like. The soul on an initiation path had to go through very significant trials. The two figures led the human soul through significant trials. The male statue led the soul from illusion to being. The female stimulated the soul to transform fantasy to truth. The male statue that tried the soul was connected, as noted, with the sun. Here the human initiate could live into the ancient Sun condition. The female statue lead the soul to Moon evolution. The male lead to winter conditions and the coming forth of earth. The female lead to summer conditions and future states in cosmic evolution. After a period of time, with the activity of an initiate, there emerged from the interplay of the two, a birth. A child – cosmic child was born – carried in the arms of a cosmic feminine being. Out of the play of summer and winter, a child-being is born. The child is born out of the heavens. The picture before the soul of the to be initiated stimulated by the statues lead to the masculine cosmic element and the feminine earth soul element that would work together. Heaven and earth could give birth to a child – the child of man – the human ego. In this interworking of masculine and feminine, a child is born. Earth is raised to sun and moon. Out of the interplay of these two, a child is born. The earth is raised into the domain of the cosmic masculine – feminine – sun and moon for the birthing of a child – the third element. This leads to the future. All of this is very much reminiscent and sounds familiar if we turn to the Isis-Osiris and Horus mysteries of Egypt. Rudolf Steiner tells us that the child birth in Hibernia is very much connected with the birth of the Christ child being. The mystery of Golgotha or the steps to the Mystery of Golgotha is being anticipated and is viewed as an astral etheric event in the cosmos. The physical circumstance of the isle of Ireland, which is less subjected to sub-earthly forces, permits this astral-ether vision of the future to unfold. The basic tendency of this initiation is the cultivation of science (male statue) and art (female statue) as a basis for knowing – giving birth to the child-knowledge.
Now let us try to follow what appears as a further development of the Mysteries of Ireland. Let us take up the thread of the Druidic initiations. These I gather follow the Hibernian Mysteries. They are of a little different sort. They speak much more to the ascent of man out of the physical rather than the descent from the ether into the physical. The Druids, as we know, generally were priests, healers, physicians. The three-fold structure of the Druid initiation was that of the priest, instructor and then bard. I gather that the healer weaves through the entire circumstance. A thematic consideration would be to hold that all the Druidic activity was actually a healing, a transforming of what is physical. What is physical has to be raised so that the physical can receive the soul-spiritual. The Druid impulse seems to have flourished at the time of the Megolithic activity with the construction of the dolmans. This seems to begin about the second millennium BC. During this time, the impulse of song and then speaking – story telling – arrived from other mystery impulses and influenced the Druidic mystery. We are also told that in the Hyperborean mysteries of the north, Scandinavia, influenced the Druid mysteries as well. Thus we see here in the west, mystery enactment, mystery process unfolding under the influence of impulses from the north/east and the south. In this way, an outpost of a western mystery process is being established.
We can contemplate that, as special circumstances were being prepared in the land of Palestine, so that a Sun God could be incarnated into a human being, so here in the West, the earth was being prepared. Large flat stones were lifted up. Here on the island itself, this raising was taking place. Something of the earth was being etherized, brought into a condition so that the very earth itself could be the life and body of a Sun Being. Out of the shadows, knowledge could be gained.
Let us now go over from the BC to the AD time of human history. This island and culture unfolded under the influence of the Celts. They fought their way into everything. They were the men of courage. Let me comment here on the three-headed Celt. The three-headed Celt has been spoken of by some Anthroposophists. The head looks like a Janus-head with a head in between. The head looks straight forward, to the right and to the left. Past and future now contain the present in the head looking directly forward. The eternal present is now born. The birth of the spirit and the present are evidenced in this Celtic three-headed man, I would like to think. Time begins to come into space. Not only do we have the elevating of the earth in Ireland, but as well, men are initiated into a threefold stream of time. Past-future works, but the eternal present begins to unfold.
The Michaelic-Celtic period flows over into the Zachariel period of 4-700 AD. This is the time of St. Patrick. Out of the Mysteries of Ireland, a human being is born who then goes into the world to bring something Christian to man. This is St. Patrick and other monks, as well. This Christianity is brought out of the cosmos, not out of the stream of spiritual evolution which flows from the east through Egypt, through Rome and up into Europe. A cosmic Christianity is brought to earth in Ireland and flows from west to east.
There next follows the Raphaelic period from 700 AD to about 1,000 AD. It is the period which sees Viking invasions from the north. Ireland again goes through a destructive period. However, out of the impulses of the mysteries and despite the invasions, the folk soul of Ireland continues to work. The influence of Bridget flows on.
It is during this period, as best as I can gather, that the folk-soul gives birth to the eternal feminine. This eternal feminine first appears as the being of Bridget and then rises into lofty ether spheres under the influence of earlier Hyperborean and later Hibernean influences. This dynamic flows into the Celtic stream giving rise to the Arthurian Knight. The King Arthur circle is born. This comes to birth in the Raphaelic period and meets the Grail Mystery flowing over from the east. Scotus Erigma – an Irish-Scot was able to carry something of the Hibernian mystery, along with a Christian orientation, into middle Europe. This helped to establish the School of Chartres.
Next followed the Samuel period with the Mars influence and much outer conflict. The School of Chartres maintains its existence as esoteric Christianity unfolds out of the impulses of the monks and the Christians who stream out of Ireland. An esoteric Christian stream guided by the Irish folk-soul enters middle Europe.
During the next archangelic period, in the reign of Gabriel, this esoteric Christian stream culminates to a certain extent in the initiation of Christian Rosencreutz in 1459. The Christian Rosencreutz initiation takes hold of the cosmic-Christian, esoteric Christian, flowing from west to east. Though one can trace the origins of the being of Christian Rosencreutz in the southern mystery stream, it appears that his initiation opens his soul to the west-east stream and to the group-being of Europe. In this way, Christian Rosencreutz works to bring Christian esotericism to middle Europe.
Now let us go backwards a bit to consider the Druid Mysteries. I would like to consider them in the light of the Druid Stone painting by Rudolf Steiner. In line with this consideration, my sense is that in order to understand what he has painted, we have to consider the work of St. Martin. He lived around 300-400 AD. Something of the depths of esotericism, of the occult, touched him so that he came under the influence of the mysteries of Dionysis, though Dionysis met the teaching of the hierarchies. He evolved his own liturgy. Some of this liturgy was brought to the Isle of the Green or the Emerald Island. There are suggestions that he was influential in bringing the symbol of the cross into the middle European Christian stream and Ireland, as well. With his heathen background, I wonder if he did not have a sense for the descending cosmic cross of the four ethers – alive in the Irish mysteries. The east, west, north, south – the etheric astral dimensions of the cosmos are made physical in the symbol of the cross. It may be that through St. Martin the entire Irish culture and the esoteric Christian impulse became associated with the cross.
The foregoing is extremely important. We can immediately notice in the painting by Rudolf Steiner that there is an ascending cross. I associate this ascending cross with the evolution of mankind, to raise the human ego – to the cosmic Christ-ego – the ego of the free spirit. We might consider that as the symbol of the cross came into Ireland, there was a tremendous struggle in Ireland itself. We can find tales concerning a woman by the name of Emma Macha. This is a being who established a very strict matriarchal hereditary stream in Ireland. This is an essential aspect of Irish mythology. The activity of Emma Macha anticipates the coming of the Martin-cross influence. The Emma Macha, or the female, hereditary blood line influence, that produces kings and priests, creates a line of heredity. This has to be struggled with. In mythology, the being that struggles against this line is called the Dog Slayer. I wonder if this being – Cuchulain – is connected to the working of Sirius, the Dog Star. In Irish mythology, Cuchulain fights against the work of Emma Macha who carries the matriarchal influence of the blood. The blood line is carried by group spirits. The group element has to pass over to the individual – the individual soul. This struggle is spoken of in the mythology of the Irish. It is likely that the work of the blood-line held sway from ancient times, but became intensified and was struggled with in the activities of Cuchalain. The struggle against the sole influence of the blood, I see already evident in the Hibernian Mysteries where the initiation lead the neophyte to the male and female which gave birth to the child. The child I consider to be the cosmic ego and, in the domain of symbols, is well depicted by the cross. The Irish land and folk were well prepared to take up the symbol of the cross of St. Martin. The working of the cross became the basis for unfolding the esoteric Christian – the cosmic Christian – the cosmic ego stream.
Now again returning to the painting of Rudolf Steiner, the Druid Stones, we have to consider his indications of the Isles of Britain. The British Isles he calls the isles of tin. We know that tin was mined and shipped from the British Isles all over the world. Joseph of Arimethea was a tin merchant. He is said to have brought the grail vessel to these Isles. We can image the Isle of Britain, the Isle of Ireland, as resting in a vessel of tin. Let us think of tin as earth liver. Liver earth process is very active in the Druid Mysteries. In the drawing by Rudolf Steiner, in the region of the blues, we see figures swimming in the blue as if moving in a vessel of tin. These are undine-like elementals.
If we look further at Rudolf Steiner’s painting, we can note a certain geometry. He tells that the painting is done on the cross of St. Martin. The cross is formed by lines which run from opposite corners. For me, this indication in itself is highly supportive of the previous line of thought concerning St. Martin.
Now let us turn to the line that runs from the right lower to the upper left corner of the picture. In the right lower corner, we see a figure in the fish nets. It is the time of the fishes, Pisces is at hand. The figure here reminds us of two triangles that are being transformed into a five pointed star – a pentagonal star. This figure sits in the net. The net seems to me configured like an interpenetrating double form – perhaps even dodecahedral. The figure in the net is man doing an earthly task – perhaps mending fish nets. This man is a spiritual being. He is an earth dweller – a worker. Here on the Island of tin, in the glow of the Hibernian-Druidic Mysteries, it is possible for man to be a worker. The wise men of the past have given way to the courageous men of the Celts. Here the worker, the man of temperance, arises. The daily round can become the beginning of an initiation process. The fisherman himself, becomes the basis for initiation – this we hear of in the New Testament. Initiation is not now given to the wise men, the courageous man, but to one who becomes temperate – one who works. The new initiate has to be able to go through life, through work, and carry the spirit into his being. Through work, the cross-of-the-individual has to arise. Through the working of the cross, man can become a five-pointed star – an individual in the ether world. This we see in the right lower corner. Actually we can consider the netting as a crystalline working from the cosmos on earth. In this way, the earth becomes a little lighter, like the emerald with its cracks. Man as a five pointed star can come to be active within this netted configuration.
As we rise on the land following the line that runs from the right lower corner to the left upper, we come to the first Druid. We see the cross, the four ether domains moving – turning. A shadow of the dolman is present on earth. Above it rises a figure, the Druid with a halo-sun above the head. The man of the earth, the crystalline star man of the earth is raised here into a condition of existence where the physical is raised into a kind of etheric existence. To the right one can see an earth elemental leaving, so that man can come into an etheric state. The elemental is rising, suggesting to me that it is being redeemed. Man is being healed so that he can be raised into the spiritual world. The step from earth man, the fisher, to that of the priest, is a step in healing (a Raphaelic activity). I would like to consider this as a part of earth evolution. The earth participates in the Druid initiation. We now can follow a line from the right upper corner to the left lower corner of the picture. We can follow the light filled sun-rayed atmosphere into the watery-moving- undine penetrated earth – tin earth. The earth is affected by the priests deeds.
As we move to the upper left corner, we come to three stones and a rising priest. A halo has followed the priest, but the red cross has risen into the light to become a light penetrated cross in the middle of the picture. The stones throw three shadows – as the priest rises in the light. The priest stands erect in light. The Druid priest, with a single shadow, has risen and now lives with three shadows – three earthly activities (?sal, sulf, mercury). The priest has been transformed into a kind of Sun-like Being. All is in movement.
If we continue our contemplation of the picture, and we focus on the upper middle segment, we find that the red cross below has become a white cross. On this cross is a figure whose head bends down, in the rays of the sun. A kind of a dove-like being descends out of the head. Angels moving from front to back and back to front give the impression of a cross that can turn, move. From another perspective, the configuration can appear as a four-lobed-colored-form, perhaps a flower, Angel beings move this flower. The position of the flowers – a cross in relation to the sun, suggests that it is the higher sun activity that is at work here. A Being lies on this cosmic cross. Is it to distant to think of a four-petaled astral organ?
Thus our contemplations permit us to begin as a man of the earth. We can work in a healing fashion to become priestly as in this picture. The progression is to move to an ever higher stage in initiation. The possibility is to live and move in the higher light of the sun. Here the cross has become an ether cross of pure light. On this light is a Being who can be crucified on the “Cross of the World”. As man ascends in an act of resurrection, the light (warmth-fire) can descend upon man.
Now let us change our orientation. Let us look not so much with our consciousness oriented in the blue, but more in the light. Now the movement can be from the left lower to the right upper corner. By focusing on the right upper corner of the picture, we can come to see a sagittal section of the human head. The right upper half is a human head in sagittal section. Below where the man in the net sits, one can place the chin. Where the first Druid is active, we can place the nose. The forehead is configured by the three Druid Stones. Near the first Druid priest, we can image an eye – to the right. The impression can be that of a cosmic-head, a warm, light filled head which can gaze, that can peer into the mobile-undine elemental earth. Through this blue-fluid earth, runs a real thread. This cosmic head, cosmic head activity, is needed to gaze into the elementality of the earth – fluid earth.
This cosmic head takes up the man of the net – the priest of the nose and the priest of the forehead. Three different conditions of man can be noted. This is ether – resurrected man, astral seeing, smelling man, ascendancy man and pure light man – ego man. The latter can receive the cosmic ego of the light cross – as a baptism from the descending dove. Resurrection and baptism both can stand before the beholder of the human soul who gazes into the world of imagination. The sun rising in the head permits man to gaze with imagination towards events to come. The initiate can gaze on the baptism and resurrection to come. At the same rime, the basis for the working-man of the future is founded. (The carpenter, Jesus to come.) Only on the isle of tin with earthly will – only on the isle of the emerald – could such an initiation take place. The ascending of Raphael can meet the descending of Michael.
The picture leads one – us – to contemplate the raising of the earth through man, so that man can receive the cosmic spirit, the cosmic ego. The raising of the earth we had considered to be the work of Raphael. What comes from the cosmos to man, through the senses and particularly through the light and through knowledge thought, we might consider this as a heritage from the old Hibernian Mysteries. What descends from the heights to man we can consider Michael at work. I believe we might consider a Michaelic sense streaming in and into the senses into the soul. What enters from below can be seen as a nourishment which rises upward. In this process, the demonic, the demon appears to be going through a harmonizing experience. We can contemplate the workings of Raphael.
Thus we can contemplate a healing that belongs to man – mankind. This is a healing that belongs to the earth – the world. The symbol of the cross points to the birth of the individual. The white cross suggests a descent of the spirit into man. This Druid Mystery was enacted on the Island of Green – the Emerald Island.
Very important then in our considerations is that we see Ireland as the land being born, descending and being resurrected. We see here mysteries of man being resurrected. The elemental world is carried along and is not cast away. We can contemplate the birth of the individual in a mystery cult. The symbol of the cross becomes the awakening of the individual. The conquest of the line of the blood, of the priests and the kings, now can become the birth right of all men as individuals.
This process of the coming forth of the individual out of the cosmos requires the healing of earthly man. Here we have a mystery of healing. That is why the whole Druidic initiation is healing. We have the human who has to come to be able to perceive in the ether world. A healing is needed. The possibility of man, as single man, to come into spiritual life, to find his higher ego, this requires the healing of the blood. A higher principle in the blood is necessary. It is on this Isle of Ireland, the Green Isle, the ether isle, that all this occurs as the cosmos penetrates its physicality. Thus we can say, it is also an isle of green crystal. It shines in the cosmos as green. It may outwardly appears dark, but etherically it can be seen as a green aura in the cosmos. The green of the earth, of the plant, becomes the green of the crystal emerald as a new condition of man. This points to a New Jerusalem which has to come. I gather it is this that streamed over into middle Europe, into the mysteries which then culminate in the initiation of Christian Rosencreutz. It is in relationship to his initiation that we can make our next step, that is the step to the Tabula Smaragdina, the emerald tablet.