The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness (CW 177)
The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness (CW 177)
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The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness (CW 177)

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The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness: The Spiritual Background to the Outer World: Spiritual Beings and their Effects

Volume 1

14 lectures, Dornach, September 29 – October 28, 1917 (CW 177)

“Spirituality will come to human beings because Michael won his victory in 1879…. On the other hand, the spirits of darkness are now here among us.” — Rudolf Steiner

Speaking toward the end of the catastrophic World War I, Rudolf Steiner reveals the spiritual roots of the crises of today. Since 1879, human minds have been influenced by backward angels, he says, “spirits of darkness,” who—following their defeat in battle with Archangel Michael—were forced out of the heavens and “fell” to earth. That war in the spiritual worlds has had consequences, and it is essential for us today to become sufficiently awake to the retrogressive influences surrounding us. In a positive sense, we can choose freely to engage with the spirits of light, who seek to emancipate humankind from bonds of race, nation, and blood.

In this extraordinary series of lectures, Steiner sheds light on hidden aspects of world affairs. The Bolshevik Revolution was a recent event when he discussed events in Russia and humanity’s attempts to build a theoretically ideal social order. Steiner also speaks in these lectures about the roles and spiritual backgrounds of significant individuals, including Johann Valentin Andreae, Vladimir Solovyov, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, and American and British politicians Woodrow Wilson and Lloyd George, as well as world-renown figures such as Charles Darwin and Goethe.

This new edition of features a revised translation, notes, and extensive appendices by Frederick Amrine and a new introduction by Christopher Schaefer.

This volume is a translation from German of Die spirituellen Hintergründe der äußeren Welt. Der Sturz der Geister der Finsternis. Geistige Wesen und Ihre Wirkung, Band I, Dornach, 1999 (GA 177).

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction by Christopher Schaefer

1. The Driving Force behind Europe’s War
2. Humanity’s Struggle for Morality
3. The Search for a Perfect World
4. The Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death
5. Changes in Humanity’s Spiritual Make-up
6. The New Spirituality
7. Working from Spiritual Reality
8. Abstraction and Reality
9. The Battle between Michael and “The Dragon”
10. The Influence of the Backward Angels
11. Recognizing the Inner Human Being
12. The Spirits of Light and the Spirits of Darkness
13. The Fallen Spirits’ Influence in the World
14. Into the Future


About the Author

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

Additional information

Weight 20 oz
Dimensions 6 × 1 × 9 in


Anna Meuss



Christopher Schaefer




January 2023






CW 177


Rudolf Steiner Press

Available Resources

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