Women are able to grasp spiritual ideas with greater facility

True humanity lies between man and woman; and it is for this reason that a human being also changes sex in different incarnations. But it is already the case that the woman, as such, because of the different formation of her brain and the different way in which she can use it, is able to grasp spiritual ideas with greater facility. By contrast the man because of his external physical corporeality is much better adapted to think himself into materialism, because, if we wish to express the matter crudely, his brain is harder. The female brain is softer, not so stubborn, that is to say in general — I am not referring to individual personalities. In the case of individual personalities there is no need to flatter oneself, for many truly obstinate heads sit on many a female body — to say nothing of the reverse! But on the whole it is true that it is easier to make use of a female brain if one is to understand something exceptional, as long as the will to do so is also present. It is for this reason that the evangelist after the Mystery of Golgotha allows women to appear first.

And now, as the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought spices, so that they could go and anoint him. (Mark 16:1.)

And it was to them that the youth, that is, the cosmic Christ, first appeared; and only afterward to the male disciples. True occultism, true spiritual science is interwoven into the composition and details of the contents of the Gospels, and especially of the concise Mark Gospel.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 139 – The Gospel of St. Mark: Lecture 10 – Basel, September 24, 1912

Translated from the German by Conrad Mainzer and edited by Stewart C. Easton


Painting by Liane Collot d’Herbois


The gods of hindrance

Imagine that you have a car to push. You develop your strength by pushing it. If heavy ballast is put into the car it will be heavier to push, but you would develop greater strength. Suppose the Godhead had let the world’s evolution remain as it was, up to the time just after the Jupiter evolution, men could have certainly developed very well; but humanity could have become still stronger if hindrance had been in its way. For the good of humanity, certain Mights or Spirits of Motion had to receive adverse commands. These were not evil at first, one need not consider them as evil Powers, one might even say they sacrificed themselves by putting obstacles into the way of development. Therefore, these Mights may be called the gods of hindrance, of impediment, in the widest sense of the word. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 110 – The Spiritual Hierarchies: Lecture 10 – Düsseldorf, 18th April 1909

Translated by Harry Collison


Fairy – Art of Carol Herzer

Previously posted on 14 December 2018

It seems like a contradiction

Spiritual science points to the fact that there are highly developed individuals called the “initiates.” In every age there have been secret schools where it was taught how, through exercises in meditation and concentration, a person could reach higher stages of development. Such exercises lead to insight that cannot be attained by means of the five senses and the intellect. Inner meditative work enables the soul to become free of the senses; something occurs in an individual that is comparable to what happens in someone born blind and whose sight is restored. An inner process takes place through which the spiritual eyes and ears are opened. 

The whole of humanity will reach this stage, but only after long periods of time. It is essential that those who seek higher development in no way neglect worldly, everyday affairs; the ascetic who flees the world will not attain spiritual vision, for the new clairvoyance is the fruit of the soul’s experiences gathered in the physical world. The Greek philosophers have compared the human soul to the bee gathering honey, saying that the world of color and light offers honey to the human soul, to carry it up to higher worlds. The task of the human soul is to spiritualize sense experiences and take them up to higher worlds.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 55 – SUPERSENSIBLE KNOWLEDGE – IV. The Origin of Evil – Berlin, 22 November 1906

Translated by Rita Stebbing

PS This seems contradictory. On the one hand, it is about becoming detached from the sensory world through meditation and concentration. On the other hand, it is about being absorbed in the sensory world precisely with interest. This is something I have often had a lot of trouble with. But I think we should not see it as the one OR the other, but it is the one AND the other. By the way, again, this is not to say that everyone should meditate. I never do either myself. The most important thing is to read and ponder the spiritual insights. Or as Steiner says:

We must have esoterics, but not everyone needs to be one. A very simple example can help us understand: It is a fact that everyone needs shoes. Shoemakers are therefore a necessity. It would however be quite wrong to draw the conclusion that everyone needs to be a shoemaker. Likewise, people need not all to become esotericist, but those who want to do so, will, during their present or future incarnations, have the task of spreading spiritual knowledge, and promoting it in the lives of others.


Dream Child – Art of Carol Herzer

Not blind faith but the right working of healthy human understanding

To him who asks, “How can I gain personal knowledge of the higher truths of spiritual science?” the answer must be given, “Begin by making yourself acquainted with what is communicated by others concerning such knowledge.” Should he reply, “I wish to see for myself; I do not wish to know anything about what others have seen,” one must answer, “It is in the very assimilating of the communications of others that the first step towards personal knowledge consists.” If he then should answer, “Then I am forced to have blind faith to begin with,” one can only reply, “In regard to something communicated it is not a case of belief or unbelief, but merely of an unprejudiced assimilation of what one hears.” The true spiritual researcher never speaks with the expectation of meeting blind faith in what he says. He merely says, “I have experienced this in the spiritual regions of existence and I narrate my experiences.” He knows also that the reception of these experiences by another and the permeation of his thoughts with such an account are living forces making for spiritual development.

What is here to be considered will only be rightly viewed by one who takes into account the fact that all knowledge of the worlds of soul and spirit slumbers in the profoundest depths of the human soul. It can be brought to light through the path of knowledge. We can grasp, however, not only what we have ourselves brought to light, but also what someone else has brought up from those depths of the soul. This is so even when we have ourselves not yet made any preparations for the treading of that path of knowledge. Correct spiritual insight awakens the power of comprehension in anyone whose inner nature is not beclouded by preconceptions and prejudices. Unconscious knowledge flashes up to meet the spiritual fact discovered by another, and this “flashing up” is not blind faith but the right working of healthy human understanding.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 9 – THEOSOPHY – Chapter IV: The Path of Knowledge

Translated by Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Gilbert Church, Ph.D.


The tendency to criticize is one of the most characteristic traits of our era

The tendency to criticize is one of the most characteristic traits of our age. It is so highly developed that it is taken for granted that man has these critical tendencies within him. Yes, one is proud of it and believes that it shows great independence and inner freedom. In the soul, however, such a tendency to criticism acts as a strong negative force, a force which deprives the soul of its connection with the world with which it is in reality connected.

By treading the spiritual path of practice referred to here can it become clear to man how highly necessary it is to combat this tendency to criticism and to leave room for the more and more germinating feeling of reverence and admiration for all that is true, beautiful and good. 

One might now perhaps think to understand from the above that a mood must be cultivated in which all discernment is lost. The opposite is the case. Whoever constantly carries a negative mood in his soul and judges all phenomena and events from there, will in the long run become completely blind to a large part of reality. Whoever, on the other hand, exercises himself in adhering everywhere to that for which he can have admiration and respect, is in no danger of losing this great part of reality through his negative mood. He will come to see everything, which is true, clean and good, in the right proportion to all that is untrue, ugly and bad. However, he will not make such a distinction out of mood or affect, but his criticism will result from his entirely positively oriented soul attitude.

Source (Dutch): F.W. Zeylmans van Emmichoven – Biografie Rudolf Steiner – page 129-130

Translated with DeepL translator