In the astral world all things appear reversed

Anyone whose senses are opened to the astral world will at first be bewildered, because there is really nothing in the physical world with which he can compare it. The astral world has a whole range of characteristics of its own and he has to learn many new things. One of the most perplexing aspects of this world is that all things appear reversed, in a sort of mirror-reflection, and he has to get used to seeing everything in a new way. For instance, he has to learn to read numbers backwards. We are accustomed to read the figures 3, 4, 5, as 345 but in the astral world we have to read them backwards as 543. Everything appears as its mirror-reflection, and it is essential to be aware of this.

The same law applies also to higher things — in the field of morality, for instance. People do not at first understand this. It may happen that they see themselves surrounded by black, malignant forms which threaten and terrify them — this happens with very many people and they mostly have no idea what it signifies. The fact is that these figures are their own impulses, desires and passions, which live in what we call the astral body. Ordinary people do not see their own passions, but these may sometimes become visible as a result of processes active in the brain and soul, and then they appear as mirror-images. You see the mirror-images of your desires in the same way as when looking into a mirror you see reflected images of the objects around you. Everything that comes out of you seems to be going into you. Further, time and events move backwards. In the physical world you see first the hen and then the egg. In the astral world you see the egg and then the hen that laid it. Time in the astral moves backwards: you see first the effect and then the cause. This explains how prophecy is possible — if it were not for this reversal of the time-sequence it would be impossible to foresee events.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE TWO: THE THREE WORLDS – Stuttgart, 23rd August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy



It is not easy, at first, to believe that feelings like reverence and respect have anything to do with cognition. This is due to the fact that we are inclined to set cognition aside as a faculty by itself — one that stands in no relation to what otherwise occurs in the soul. In so thinking we do not bear in mind that it is the soul which exercises the faculty of cognition; and feelings are for the soul what food is for the body. If we give the body stones in place of bread, its activity will cease. It is the same with the soul. Veneration, homage, devotion are like nutriment making it healthy and strong, especially strong for the activity of cognition. Disrespect, antipathy, underestimation of what deserves recognition, all exert a paralyzing and withering effect on this faculty of cognition. For the spiritually experienced this fact is visible in the aura. A soul which harbors feelings of reverence and devotion produces a change in its aura. Certain spiritual colorings, as they may be called, yellow-red and brown-red in tone, vanish and are replaced by blue-red tints. Thereby the cognitional faculty is ripened; it receives intelligence of facts in its environment of which it had hitherto no idea. Reverence awakens in the soul a sympathetic power through which we attract qualities in the beings around us, which would otherwise remain concealed.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – 1: How Is Knowledge of the Higher Worlds Attained?

Translated by George Metaxa/Revisions by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on May 25, 2015

Healing forces/Forces of sickness/Morality

Knowledge of the healing forces is inseparable from knowledge of the forces of sickness. One cannot be taught without the other. No one in the world can gain knowledge of the healing forces, without at the same time learning about the forces of sickness. So you can see how important it is for people to be morally good through and through as regards such serious matters. For someone who can heal a person’s soul can also make a person’s soul sick in the same degree. Therefore such truths may not be imparted by the gods to man until a stage of morality has been reached at which the healing medicine cannot be transformed into poison.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 173 – The Karma of Untruthfulness I: Lecture Nine – Dornach, 24th December 1916

Translated by Johanna Collis

Previously posted on May 27, 2015

Hold on to the facts

What we speak nowadays corresponds little to outward facts. It is mostly the outcome of various opinions and passions. However, when we add to our external sensory perceptions what does not match pure reality, and reflect it as thoughts, we destroy our capacity for higher knowledge. […] The most basic rule for ascending to the higher worlds is this: learn to hold on to the pure facts of the physical world.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 220 – Lebendiges Naturerkennen Intellektueller Sündenfall und spirituelle Sündenerhebung– Dornach, January 20, 1923 (page 128-129)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on June 8, 2017

Two thousand years of Christianity

We have the advantage over the Asian culture in that we have the Christ-mystery. But what do the Asian people say? I will now tell you something that I did not make up myself, but something that Asians with insight say. They say: ‘wonderful, you fellows have the Christ-mystery over on us; that is something we do not have, therefore you view yourselves to be at a higher cultural level. But you say for example: “by your fruits, you will be recognized.” Your religion advocates that people must love each other, but if we look at the way you live, then we do not see that you love one another. You send missionaries to Asia, who tell us all kinds of great things; but when we come to Europe, if all this is true, we actually see people are not living in the way we were told people should be living! ‘ – That is what the Asian people say.

Think about it, are they so significantly wrong? At a religious conference, where representatives of all faiths spoke, this exact topic was discussed, and what I just said is what the Asian representatives said. They said, ‘you send us missionaries, that is certainly all very beautiful. But you’ve already had Christianity for two thousand years; we cannot see that your moral development is so vastly superior to ours as you assume it to be!’

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 169 – Weltwesen und Ichheit – Berlin, July 18, 1916 (page 159)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on June 6, 2017