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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Foundations of Esotericism
GA 93a

Translators' Preface

We shall best realise the significance of these 31 lectures given in 1905 if we transpose ourselves still further back in time to the year 1902, when, during her first personal conversation with Rudolf Steiner, Marie von Sivers, later Marie Steiner, put to him the all-important question: “Would it not be a very important thing to found an Occult Society suited to people of the West?” His response to this question was to begin laying the foundations of what was to become his greatest creation, the worldwide Anthroposophical Society.

A small number of Berlin theosophists gathered round him, and formed a group to which he began imparting the basic elements of Spiritual Science, “translating” — the expression was his — direct from the Akashic Script into the words of an earthly language. The mood of these first meetings was profoundly earnest. They were strictly private. If anyone wished to join the group he was only admitted after Marie von Sivers had taken through with him all the material already given. There was at that time no stenographer, and she, together with two members of the group, took copious notes, and as soon as possible after the meeting wrote the lecture out from memory. Later they compared their drafts and decided upon the final version. These manuscripts still exist and when these lectures were published in the complete edition of Rudolf Steiner's works they were again used to check their content.

When we remember that the Ancient Wisdom upon which Theosophy was based did not as yet include the immortality of the individual, or the eventual development, made possible by the Mystery of Golgotha, of individual human freedom, we can see that Rudolf Steiner had to give an entirely new direction to the thoughts of his hearers.

Thus we find that the manifold exact and detailed descriptions of the events of evolution form in a sense the background to the evolving figure of man. The mighty event of the Moon leaving the Earth, most vividly described, took place in order to provide an environment suited to his progress.

The wonderful moment when the higher being of man descended in a bell-like form and enveloped the lower human form, still on a level with the animals, depicts what eventually provided him with a body suited to the development of the ego. Spiritual Beings and the great Initiates led him along the path he had to tread.

Where do we look today for these ego-endowed human beings? They are within each one of us. We stand poised between guidance and responsibility. Let us turn our thoughts from the past to the future. One of the most impressive Basic Elements tells how the present conduct of life can affect the far distant future. It is a cosmic law that what has once taken place can never vanish, but must reappear later in a metamorphosed form. Every thought, feeling and action brought about by man does not only affect the world around him but will re-appear on the future Jupiter as the equivalent of the kingdoms of nature of our earthly world; for, to quote Rudolf Steiner's words, “Jupiter will be a man-made Planet”.

Vera and Judith Compton-Burnett