The images of feelings and passions

Feelings and passions are (in the astral world) expressed by plant and animal forms. When man begins to behold his passions in the astral world he sees them as animal forms. These forms proceed from himself, but he sees them as if they were assailing him. This is because his own being is objectivised — otherwise he could not behold himself. Thus it is only in the astral world that man learns true self knowledge in contemplating the images of his passions in the animal forms which hurl, themselves upon him. A feeling of hatred entertained against another being appears as an attacking demon.

This astral self-knowledge occurs in an abnormal way in those who are troubled with psychical illnesses which consist in constant visions of being pursued by animals and menacing entities. The sufferers are seeing the mirror images of their emotions and desires.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 –  An Esoteric Cosmology – Lecture IX: The Astral World – Paris, 2nd June 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

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Previously posted on June 18, 2018

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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New senses / New phenomena

Nobody has true knowledge of the visible world unless he knows something also of two other worlds.

The three worlds are:

The physical world, the scene of human life.

The astral world or the world of soul.

The devachanic world or world of spirit.

These three worlds are not spatially separate. We are surrounded by the things of the physical world which we perceive with our ordinary senses: but the astral world is in this same space; we live in the other two worlds, the astral and devachanic worlds, at the same time as we live in the physical world. The three worlds are wherever we ourselves are, only we do not yet see the two higher worlds — just as a blind man does not see the physical world. But when the “senses of the soul” are opened, the new world, with its new characteristics and new beings, emerges. In proportion as a man acquires new senses, so are new phenomena revealed to him.

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

Previously posted on August 19, 2019

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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

Previously posted on March 19, 2019

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What purpose is served by all our studies of the higher worlds?

And so in this introductory lecture today, we will begin straight-away and without hesitation to speak on a certain chapter of the higher worlds that will lead us to a deeper understanding of man’s character and personality. For after all, what purpose is served by all our studies of the higher worlds? We talk about the astral world, about the devachanic world. In what sense do we members of the physical world talk about them in the first place? 

We talk of these higher worlds not at all with the consciousness that they are quite foreign to us and stand in no kind of connection with the physical world. Rather are we conscious that the higher worlds, as we call them, lie all around us, that we live in them, that they project into our physical world, and that in these higher worlds lie the causes and grounds for facts that take place before our physical eyes and senses. 

And so we learn to know this life around us with its human beings and nature-events, only when we look at what is invisible but reveals itself in the visible; that is, when we look at what belongs to other worlds in order to be able to form a judgment as to where it plays into our physical world. Normal and abnormal phenomena of ordinary physical life first become clear to us when we learn to know the spiritual life lying behind it — the spiritual life that is far richer and more extensive than the physical life, which forms only a small section of it

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The astral world: Lecture 1 – Berlin, October 19, 1908 

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