Good and Evil Spirits and their Influence on Humanity
13 lectures, Berlin, Jan.-Jun. 1908 (CW 102)
“We learn gradually to raise our eyes not only to material existence; instead we discover spiritual entities and their actions wherever we look in the universe… We get to know the deeds of these spirits. We are alive and active and we are within the spiritual entities and their activities.” —Rudolf Steiner
This classic series of lectures presents systematic knowledge on many different spiritual entities, ranging from the higher hierarchies of angels down to hindering demons. Basing his presentation on spiritual-scientific research, Rudolf Steiner intends to awaken us to the existence of these beings and how they interact with all aspects of our lives.
Steiner describes how animals, plants, and minerals have group souls—with even an inert stone having a spiritual counterpart in the invisible world. The various planets in the cosmos are connected to great spiritual beings and hierarchies too, as is the zodiac, which is not a static band of fixed stars but is also evolving. Steiner gives a remarkable picture of how Christ relates to the zodiacal constellations and to our own higher aspects. Spiritual entities are associated with the evolution of Earth and the previous stages of its existence—and here Steiner elaborates relevant chapters of his book An Outline of Esoteric Science, explaining how our task on earth is ultimately to develop love rather than wisdom (which was the goal of earth’s previous stage).
From cosmic considerations, Steiner leads to the spirits of the kingdoms of nature—the elemental beings, with their four classes connecting to the four elements—gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders, or earth, water, air and fire spirits. He describes how elemental beings are created by human activities—with coercion of the views of others leading to “demons,” lying leading to “phantoms,” and bad social systems to “specters.” Spirits are also created in the association of humans and animals, while other spiritual entities connect us with the arts. Steiner emphasizes the importance of developing and appreciating the arts—such as music, sculpture, architecture, painting, and poetry—for the sake of humanity’s future evolution.
This volume is a translation from German of Das Hereinwirken geistiger Wesenheiten in den Menschen (GA 102).
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.
Margaret Jonas was the librarian at Rudolf Steiner House, London, for many years, and has studied anthroposophy since 1975. Her special interests include history, religion, astrology, astronomy, literature, the Grail, psychology, and states of consciousness. She is the author of The Templar Spirit and editor of an anthology by Rudolf Steiner on the subject. She has edited several other anthologies of Steiner’s work and has written articles for various journals. She lives in Sussex, England, and has a son.