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The Spiritual World

Whereas the clairvoyance of the Theosophists like Blavatsky and Leadbeater - like that of most spiritualists and clairvoyants - was limited mainly to the astral (lower psychic) level (I am not talking here about Blavatsky's intellectual intuition), that of Steiner was quite exceptional in being able to perceive the higher spiritual regions.  In this regard, his spiritual perception was comparable not only to the insights of the Greeks and Hellenists (about which he knew a lot), but also the Kabbalah, Sufis, and Ishraqis (about which he knew next to nothing).  As a contemporary representative of this spiritual or noetic gnosis, his ideas here are worth looking at in some detail.  Despite his Classical leaning, he has still to some extent been able to translate these ancient concepts into a more contemporary expression.

In his early book Theosophy - An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man, which, as its name indicates, was written when he was still in his theosophical phase, even if it was later revised, Steiner presents a comprehensive account of the archetypes of the spiritual world as he perceived them.   He begins (pages 102-3) with a very unoriginal Platonic definition, then gets a bit more interesting when describing the dynamic qualities of the archetypes:

"In the spiritual world all is in perpetual mobile activity in the process of ceaseless creating.  A state of rest....does not exist here because the archetypes are creative beings.  They are the master builders of all that comes into being in the physical and soul worlds...["pp.102-3]

He then associates these archetypes with the Pythagorean "music of the spheres", and observes that each spiritual object "described as a picture, as shinning with light, is at the same time sounding.  Each colour, each perception of light represents a spiritual tone, and every combination of colours corresponds with a harmony, a melody." [p.105]

Steiner distinguishes different grades of archetypes, according to the plane they pertain to.  In this early work he naturally follows the Theosophists in their sven-fold classification of things.  So the "spiritual world " is here divided into seven planes or regions, each with its own characteristic archetypes:

"The First Region...contains the archetypes of the physical world insofar as it is devoid of life.  .. Its relation to the physical corporeal world can be described...in the follow way.  Picture a limited space filled with physical bodies....Then...conceive in their stead hollow spaces having their forms.  The intervening spaces (between the bodies)  that were previously empty must be thought of as filled with the most varied forms having manifold relationships with the physical bodies....In appearance this is somewhat like the lowest region of the archetypal world....

The Second Region contains the archetypes of life, but this life forms here a perfect unity.  It streams through the world of spirit as a fluid element, like blood, pulsating through everything....

The Third Region (contains) (t)he archetypes of all soul formations....Here we find ourselves ina  much finer...element than the first two regions....(I)t can be called the air or atmosphere of spiritland.  Everything that goes on in the souls (= psyches) of both the...physical and soul (= astral, psychic) worlds his hereby a spiritual counterpart... all feelings, sensations, instincts, and passions.... The longing of the human soul appears here as a gentle zephyr; an outbreak of passion is like a stormy blast.

The archetypes of the fourth region are not immediately related  to the lower levels.  They are the beings who goven the ar-chetypes of the lower regions and mediate their working together; the ordering and grouping of the subordinate archetypes. [Rudolph Steiner, Theosophy, (Anthroposophic Press, Inc., New York, 1971) pp.108-9]

Concerning these archetypes of archetypes, Steiner says:

"These regions differ from the lower ones because the beings here  supply the lower archetypes with the impetus for their activity.   They are the creative forces of the archetypes themselves, the  purposes that underlie our world.  Like living germ-points, the  archetypes lie here ready to assume the most manifold forms.  If these archetypes are projected into the lower regions, they well  up, as it were, and manifest themselves through the most varied shapes." [Rudolph Steiner, Theosophy, (Anthroposophic Press, Inc.,  New York, 1971) p.109]

Here there is a spiritual language, the Spiritual Word through  which things and beings of this region make themselves known;  they utter what may be called their eternal names [Rudolph  Steiner, Theosophy, (Anthroposophic Press, Inc., New York, 1971)  pp.109-110]

In the highest planes of Devachan are found the subtle or seed-archetypes, the thought-germs, which have a compesite nature.  Only the germ-sheath manifests in the lower  worlds, whilst the life kernal it surrounds remains above.  This  life kernal has its origin in higher worlds [Rudolph Steiner,  Theosophy, (Anthroposophic Press, Inc., New York, 1971) p.110].

In the seventh (or highest) subplane of the Spirit-world, Man stands in the presence of the life-kernals, at the  boundary of the three worlds (physical, astral and mental), and  recognises himself in his own life-kernal.  This means that for him the problems of the three lower worlds have been solved.  He has a complete view of the life of these worlds [Ibid, p.126].

Starting in 1910 to 1912, Steiner also brought in a very Hellenistic astrological cosmol-ogy, according to which the soul ascends through the different planetary spheres afer death, finally attaining the realm of the stars, and descends down into incarnation again before birth.

 Angelology

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 24 June 1998