The spirit-form after death

We have seen that when a human being has passed through the gate of death and come into the super-sensible world, he reveals himself there to Imaginative vision in a spirit-form. You must understand, of course, that perception of the spiritual is quite different from perception of an object in the world of sense. For instance, those who are endowed with the faculty of spiritual vision will say: “Yes, I saw the phenomenon, but I could not tell you anything about the size of it.” The phenomena of the spiritual world are not spatial in the sense that a material object presented to the eye is spatial. Nevertheless, we can only describe them in such a way that they seem to resemble a visual image seen by the physical eye — or whatever other sense-impression we make use of in our description. You must bear this in mind in connection with all the descriptions I shall now be giving of what takes place in the super-sensible.

When a human being has passed through the gate of death, the spirit-form, of his head gradually fades away. On the other hand, the whole of the rest of his form becomes “physiognomy,” a physiognomy which expresses, for instance, how far the man was, in earthly life, a good man or a bad man, a wise man or a fool. These qualities can remain hidden in the material world; an out-and-out villain can walk about with an absolutely innocent face. But when the gate of death has been passed, they can no longer be concealed. There is no doing it with the face, for the face fades right away; and the rest of the form, which grows more and more like a physiognomy, allows nothing to be hid.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 231 – Supersensible Man: Lecture III – The Hague, 17th November 1923 (afternoon)

Translated by Mary Adams