We look back to a past when man was clairvoyant, and to a future when this will again be the case

The cognitive faculty of mankind has developed gradually. Attention has repeatedly been drawn to the fact that in the Atlantean epoch a large proportion of humanity was clairvoyant and able to gaze into the spiritual worlds, and that certain remnants of this old clairvoyance were still present in post-Atlantean times. After the Atlantean epoch, in the periods of the civilizations of ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea — even as late as the Graeco-Latin age — there were numbers of human beings, many more than modern man would ever imagine, who possessed the heritage of this old clairvoyance; the astral plane was open to them and they could see into the hidden depths of existence.

But humanity was to advance to a form of knowledge acquired through the outer senses and through the spiritual faculties connected with the senses. Man was gradually to emerge altogether from the spiritual world and to engage in pure sense-observation, in intellectual, logical thinking. By degrees he was to make his way to non-clairvoyant cognition, because he must pass through this stage in order to regain clairvoyant knowledge in the future. But such knowledge will then be united with the fruits of cognition based upon the senses and the intellect.

At the present time we are living in an intermediate period. We look back to a past when man was clairvoyant, and to a future when this will again be the case. In our present age the majority of human beings are dependent upon what they perceive with their senses and grasp with their intellect.


Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 114 – The Gospel of St. Luke – Lecture Two – Basel, September 16, 1909

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield

Previously posted on March 13, 2018

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The family doctor and the clairvoyant patient

Sensitivity to the spiritual must be judged correctly. One must distinguish carefully: Is there really sensitivity to the spiritual, or is this sensitivity still physically explainable? If a person is not critical, he cannot talk acceptably about these things. I would also like to give you another example of this.  

Once upon a time, a patient lived on the fourth floor of a house. The doctor had to visit her daily, even when she was already on the mend, because the case was quite dangerous. However, the doctor did not come at the same time every day but at very different hours; still, the sick person knew precisely when the doctor was coming – even if he was still downstairs. If he was still outside the house at the door, she already knew: Now the doctor is coming. – Mainly, however, she knew, when he was still in the hallway of the house, even before he had gone up a flight of stairs. People told the doctor about this, saying, “She is clairvoyant.”  

Now, the doctor was a little edgy. Doctors don’t immediately believe such things. But when they told him over and over again, “Yes, our daughter is clairvoyant, she knows when you’re down there,” he said, “I’ll check this story!” And he carefully took off his boots before entering the house through the door. And then she didn’t know! 

Now, you see, there are, of course, such cases, and they must be carefully checked because this patient had simply developed a sensitive hearing due to the prolonged lying down and had heard the steps, which one would not otherwise hear upstairs.  If one immediately assumes that something is due to clairvoyance, one has no right to state that it is a spiritual phenomenon. One must distinguish very precisely between what can be perceived with the senses and what can’t.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – Rhythmen im Kosmos und im Menschenwesen, Wie kommt man zum Schauen der geistigen Welt? – Dornach, June 13, 1923 (page 90-91)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger 

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Thinking / Clairvoyance

We must not be misled when we meet people who have not advanced by means of intellectual understanding, but have certain psychic abilities that seem to appear spontaneously. Based on our understanding of the mission of spiritual science, we know that souls can now think only because the clairvoyance of an earlier age has been suppressed. People with natural clairvoyance, which was not acquired through inner effort, must be seen as persons who have remained at an earlier evolutionary stage and who should therefore receive special care in our Society, rather than be considered particularly advanced. 

It would be an incorrect judgment if we were to consider such souls particularly mature, as having experienced particularly high incarnations. People with a natural gift of clairvoyance have gone through far less than those who are thinkers nowadays. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 154 – The Presence of the Dead on the Spiritual Path: LECTURE THREE: AWAKENING SPIRITUAL THOUGHTS – Basel, May 5, 1914

Translated by Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on March 14, 2020

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Animal group-souls

You will have gathered from the lectures given here recently that when we ascend with clairvoyance into the higher worlds we there meet with beings who, it is true, do not belong to our physical world, but who are in themselves so independent that we can describe them as ‘persons’ for those worlds, just as we call men here on the physical plane ‘persons.’ 

You have seen that groups of animals of the same species together belong to a group-soul or group-ego and that on the astral plane we come upon the lion-soul, the tiger-soul, and so on, as independent personalities whom we can meet there as we meet the human being on the physical plane. 

In the same way we find in still higher regions, on the devachanic plane, the egos of quite large plant groups, and in the highest parts of Devachan we find the egos of the minerals, personalities as distinct as men are here on the physical plane. We saw in this way that in these higher worlds we meet with certain beings who, so to speak, extend part of their organism, their separate members, down into the physical plane. 

If a man were to extend his fingers through openings in a curtain or partition we should only see the ten fingers, the man himself would be behind the partition. So it is with the group-egos of the animals. Here with the physical eye we see what is extended down below as members by higher beings of the astral world, and the actual ego is behind the partition, behind that wall which separates the physical world from the astral world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture I – Berlin, 6th January 1908

Previously posted on September 27, 2019

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Sense-organs/Astral organs

We are conscious of the world round about us, because we have certain capacities and organs which enable us to perceive it. If we had other organs, this world would present an entirely different aspect. For example, if a man had no eyes enabling him to see the light, but an organ enabling him instead to perceive electricity, then he would not see this room flooded with light, but he would perceive electricity in every wire, flashing, streaming through it. — The world round about us, what we call our world, is therefore dependent upon our sense-organs.

The astral world, too, is nothing but a sum of phenomena, which the human being experiences in his environment , when he has severed himself from his physical body and from his etheric body, so that he can use forces enabling him to see what he cannot otherwise see. This is the case, when he has discarded his physical body and his etheric body. The perceptive organs for the astral world are the organs of the astral body, analogous to the sense-organs of the physical body.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 100 – Theosophy and Rosicrucianism – IV – Kassel, 19th June, 1907 

Previously posted on September 23, 2019

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