Christianity is also a culmination and fulfillment of Pagan wisdom. Here “Christianity” means not so much “organized religion” as the deeds and continuing influence of the Christ-Being and His hosts, not necessarily confined to formal-religious organizations.)
Human speech and thought are Luciferic in origin; so are human self-consciousness and the capacity for independence and rebellion against the normal Gods’ world-order.
A third spiritual influence working into human and earthly evolution is the Ahrimanic. The intention of Ahriman, and his hosts, is to freeze the earth into complete rigidity, so that it will not pass over to the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan ages, and to make the Man into an entirely earthly being— unindividualized, unfree, and divorced from the normal Gods’ cosmos. The essential Ahrimanic tendency is to materialize; to crystallize; to darken; to silence; to bring living, mobile forces into fixed form—in other words, to kill that which is living. This tendency in itself, within proper bounds, is not evil; the dead, material world is necessary for the regular Gods’ plan of human and cosmic development. The Ahrimanic tendency is evil only when it exceeds proper bounds, when it reaches into what should be alive—and Ahriman does try to exceed proper bounds. Again, the basic reality of the world is spiritual beings together with their deeds, but Ahriman promotes the illusion, the lie, that matter is the basic reality, or the only reality. In fact, Ahrimanic spirits, not “atoms” or “ultimate particles,” are the reality behind the apparently material world. Ahriman lives upon lies; he is a spirit of untruth, the “Father of Lies.”
Ahriman lives upon lies; he is a spirit of untruth, the “Father of Lies.”
In the present, fifth cultural epoch the Ahrimanic influence in human culture is reaching a climax. The modern scientific revolution, since the 15th century, has been inspired largely by Ahriman. He is the inspirer of amoral, atheistic, mechanistic materialism, and the kind of cleverness that goes with it. The regular Gods’ intent for the present epoch (also called the “Consciousness Soul Epoch”) is that mankind should develop increased consciousness, together with the individuality and spiritual freedom that go with that
consciousness. Ahriman opposes this; he wants the Man to live from unconscious instincts as an unindividualized, impulsive animal—clever, but an animal nonetheless. (Ahriman is the teacher of the lie that the Man is an animal: Darwinism and similar theories.)
To the modern mind it might seem a contradiction to say Ahriman opposes increased consciousness but promotes intelligence and science. This is because the modern mind is so immured in what is generally considered to be “scientific thinking” that it has almost no conception of the true nature of conscious thinking. The fact is that the “scientific” thinking normal in this epoch, no matter how clever, is hardly conscious at all (possibly with some relatively rare exceptions at moments of “insight” or mathematical discovery). In the kind of consciousness usual in our “scientific” culture, we become conscious only of the fixed results of the thinking, after it has been accomplished; we are not (usually) conscious of the thinking-process itself. And since it is unconscious, it is not our free action; it is automatic. When we think in the manner usual in our epoch, we are sentient automata, acting from instinct. And this is what Ahriman wants: he wants to stamp out all traces and all possibility of free, individualized human consciousness; he wants the Man not to be an individual, but only a member of a general species of pseudo- mankind-to be a clever, earth-bound animal, an “homunculus.”
As indicated, Ahriman is the inspirer of the most extreme kind of “scientific” materialism: the doctrine that there is no spirit or soul in the world; that life itself is not in fact alive, but is only a complex of mechanical processes; that reality is at base only quantitative, that there is no reality in the qualitative— color, sound, etc.; even that the human’s inner being is a confluence of material forces. On the emotional level, he works in the human subconscious instincts, inspiring fear, hatred, lust for power, and destructive sex impulses. On the mental level, he inspires rigid, automatic thinking: thinking almost entirely without thoughts, but thinking tremendously strongly in the language, in the literal words, which easily become empty words, which in turn easily become lies. This “abstract” thinking is devoid of any conscious, inner activity and devoid of any real connection to living experience, and creates a darkened consciousness without light, color, or images.
According to Steiner, it is characteristic of the present culture of Ahrimanic
scientism and Anglo-American economic imperialism that language has lost its instinctive spiritual meaning; that is, the connection is lost between the literal word and the spiritual impulse that constitutes meaning.
Without real, spiritual content, language consists only of “empty phrases,” such as rule by the will of the people, the free world, individual freedom, and so on. These phrases are largely devoid of reality in our socio-political structure; here the pervasive actuality is the power of money over Men and over life. And where the empty phrase rules in language, mere conventions— rather than living human contact—rule in social life, and mere routine— rather than lively human interest—rules in economic life. And: “It is only a short step from the empty phrase to the lie.” Again, this is especially true in politics and economics, for the prevalence of empty words makes possible the falsification of realities—potent weapon in the hands of those with occult, conscious intentions to manipulate people for devious ends. In our time, people en masse act as if they are possessed by evil forces, because, in a way, they are. The demons of materialism speak through empty words. A language in which the demons of materialism have taken the place of human spiritual impulses can lead only to destruction.
The prevalence of empty words makes possible the falsification of realities-a potent weapon in the hands of those with occult, conscious intentions to manipulate people for devious ends.
Certainly Steiner was not the only one to notice this aspect of modern language. George Orwell was perhaps the most prominent writer to decry this trend. See, for instance, his classic essay “Politics and the English Language.” He envisioned the dehumanization of language becoming deliberately intensified in the “newspeak” of the Ahrimanic nightmare 1984. Having no apparent knowledge of spiritual science, and working with only keen observation and a love of truth, he saw what was happening in the political discourse of Western Europe and carried to extremes in the totalitarian regimes.
On the socio-political level, the antidote for this poison of empty words is the liberation of cultural life, especially education, from political and financial power. (As outlined in Steiner’s concept of the “threefold commonwealth”: the separation of the political-rights state, the spiritual-cultural sphere, and
the economic sector—along with the elimination of egotism and coercion from the economy.) On the individual-personal level, the antidote is the infusion of active, creative thought into language, thus creating a language in which the words point to the thoughts, evoking living thinking in the listeners. If we do not put effort into creating our original thoughts, then ready-made pseudo-thoughts, trite words and phrases, come automatically to mind and carry us along with them, resulting in “thinking almost entirely without thoughts.” (Steiner). We can at least make the effort to resist these ready-made phrases and generalizations that effortlessly come to mind, and to form mental pictures of particular people, things, and events—and further, to make original word-formations describing these things and pictures from varying points of view. The essential point is that we not let our speaking and writing be determined by unconscious influences, but that we call forth through our own efforts new, original thought-creations and convey them with original, fluid, artistic word-formations. We will not always fully succeed; we are not all poets all the time; but if we consciously make this effort, then we will go far toward recovering the lost human-spirituality of language, and consequently, toward the humanization of culture. And, not incidentally, we will thus progress toward living consciously in the thinking- free-of-literal-words that is the “language” of the spirit-soul world in which we will live after death—“Men must learn to see through words; they will have to acquire the capacity to grasp the gesture in language.” [From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, p. 124]
In the social-cultural sphere, Ahriman’s influence is apparent everywhere, especially strong and growing stronger throughout the later part of the 20th century and continuing at an accelerated pace still to this day. Chief among the Ahrimanic trends are:
Antagonistic nationalism based on ethnicity. (Moderate folk-nationalism was a progressive principle in the past, but ethnic nationalism is retrogressive and destructive today.)
Dogmatic party politics, engendering hatred and bitterness arising from the refusal to see other, equally valid (or invalid) points of view.
The subjugation of cultural life (e.g. medicine, education, research, criminal jurisprudence) to political and economic power.
The mechanization of the political state, bound by rigid laws everywhere, with little place for free human initiative.
In everyday life: Philistinism, tedium, and alienation, lack of interest in one’s work, even in intellectual work. (Ahriman wants knowledge to be devoid of warm human interest and connection, to be stored in libraries and not to live in human souls.)
In medicine: materialistic, mechanistic (and atrocious) experimentalism and treatment, without understanding of the living human individual. (The related practice of embalming corpses tends to bind the human entity to earth; this is an Ahrimanic reflection of ancient Egyptian mummification.)
In social science: blind acceptance of statistics, and the belief that the satisfaction of economic needs by itself will secure human welfare.
In economics: the subjugation of all living and human interests to the inhuman, impersonal mechanism of profit-seeking, to the “artificial person” of the corporation (In the USA this has reached such a state that the humanizing influence of the labor movement is being obliterated, and the exigencies of “making a living,” along with other destructive Ahrimanic trends, are destroying the human family—this in the so- called “richest country in the world.” (A perspicacious American folk- wisdom has coined the phrase “the Almighty Dollar.”) The Ahrimanic “Mammon” is archetypally the god of “filthy lucre” and of the power of money over life, as well as of all low and dark forces; his hosts also attack the human body and soul to corrupt and destroy them.)
In the Christian religion: narrow, simplistic interpretation of the Gospels, without appreciation for the occult wisdom needed for an approach to the deep mysteries of the Christ Being.
In literature: books inspired directly by Ahriman, works of great intelligence that further Ahriman’s goals (e.g. some parts of Nietzsche’s Antichrist and Ecce Homo).
In techniques: very refined developments, but directed only at satisfying animal needs, promoting human immersion in the sense-world to the exclusion of the supersensible.
In world-view: humans as animals, animals (and all living things) as mechanisms, the nonexistence of soul and spirit, and the non-existence of moral reality: amoralism.
Obviously, these impulses are running amok in this world, more so all the time. They are, in fact, approaching a climax; they are preparations for the incarnation of Ahriman himself in a human body.
To sum up this description of the triad of spiritual streams: The conflicts of human and spiritual life do not derive from a simple, two-sided war between good and evil. It was one of the great insights of Steiner to renew the ancient teaching of the “Golden Mean,” of good as the middle way between opposing extremes. Lucifer is too warm, too flighty, too unstable; he inspires human fanaticism, false mysticism, hot-bloodedness, and the tendency to flee earthly reality for hallucinatory pleasures. Ahriman is too cold, too hard, too rigid; he tries to make people dry, prosaic, philistine, materialistic in thought and in deed—and hardens what would be healthily mobile, supple thoughts, feelings, and even bodies. Christ, as the Exemplar of the regular Gods, represents the middle way between the too-much and the too-little, holding the opposites in balance—and leading mankind to find the healthy middle way. Seen this way, Lucifer and Ahriman are not purely evil; they both bring to human and earthly evolution forces that are needed for good, healthy development and the fulfillment of the Gods’ plans. Evil results only when events get out of balance and run to extremes. However, neither do Lucifer and Ahriman simply oppose each other; in a sense, they work together in opposition to the Gods’ intent for evolution; they both work to prevent mankind and the earth from progressing together to the New Jupiter. Lucifer draws human spirits away from earthly embodiment toward his own psychic- spiritual “planet” of light; Ahriman pushes the individual human spirit out of the human organism and away from the earth, so that only a hardened, mechanized, ghostly human organism, devoid of free individuality and living an instinctive-but-clever animalistic species-life remains on the hardened ”cosmic slag” of the earth (surrounded with Old Moon forces). Mankind’s rightful task for the present is to lead lives of healthy, progressive alternation between the earthly and the cosmic (life, death, and rebirth), so as to lead the earth over to New Jupiter—the profound mystery of evil is that in a higher sense, in the long run, it serves the good. Not to imply that we would be justified in doing evil with the rationalization that good would result: ”…it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” [Matthew 18: vii]
In the USA this has reached such a state that the humanizing influence of the labor movement is being obliterated, and the exigencies of “making a living,” along with other destructive Ahrimanic trends, are destroying the human family.
The true picture of the workings of evil might be even more complex than outlined above. Steiner did make some statements which might be interpreted as indicating a third stream of spirits of opposition: the “Asuras” (a borrowed Eastern term), which are retarded Archai who work to destroy the human “I” or the Ego itself The Asuras might be agents of the actual Antichrist, the Sun-Demon, known to occultism as “Sorat” (or “Sorath”). In some passages Steiner does identify the Apocalyptic Beast 666 as Sorat, not clearly differentiating the Ahrimanic and Soratic principals. While it seems true that the numerological interpretation of the Hebrew spelling of “Sorat” gives the number 666, still the position of Sorat in relation to Lucifer and Ahriman is not altogether clear (to this writer). A possible solution to this question might follow from the imagery of the Apocalypse: Michael casts the Dragon out of heaven; immediately afterwards arise the two “beasts”—the first from the sea (Lucifer) and the second from the land (Ahriman). Thus Lucifer and Ahriman appear on earth as two beings or principles, but they are the progeny of the one spirit of opposition—the Dragon—in Heaven. If we identify the Dragon, the Antichrist, as Sorat, we can picture Lucifer and Ahriman as the left and right hands of Sorat. Christ strives to hold Lucifer and Ahriman in balance so that they serve the good, while Sorat strives to keep them out of balance, so that they work for destruction. While Lucifer seeks to draw the human “I”—the Ego to his own planet, and Ahriman seeks to harden the earth and the human organism so that no Ego can live in a human on earth, Sorat—through the Asuras—seeks to destroy the Ego itself, along with the earth. Sorat uses Lucifer and Ahriman as spirits of seduction to mask his own true intention of pure destruction. And Sorat manifests in social evolution as pure destruction, especially in the wars and mass murders of our time. Thus, the true picture might look something like this: