From AnthroWiki
Rudolf Steiner: Atlantis, pastel on paper (1914)
Pangaea breaks up into Laurasia and Gondwana at the Mesozoic, corresponding to the Lemurian period, at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary about 200 million years (Mya) ago. Laurasia split and finally broke apart with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean c. 56 Mya

The Atlantean age is the fourth of the seven main ages into which the present physical state of form of the Earth is divided. According to obsolete theosophical tradition, this main age is also called the fourth root race.[1] At that time, according to theosophical view, man lived predominantly on the Atlantic continent or island, called Atlantis (GreekἈτλαντὶς νῆσος Atlantìs nēsos "Island of Atlas"), which according to Rudolf Steiner was located in the northern Atlantic Ocean between present-day Europe and America. The term "Atlantis" is considered scientifically outdated today, but it is essential for understanding Steiner's statements. It is possible that his descriptions refer to fragments of the former large continent of Laurasia.

The Atlantean period was preceded by the Lemurian period, in which man first incarnated on Earth, and is followed by the post-Atlantean period, which is divided into seven cultural epochs, the fifth of which is our present modern era.

Climate and location

According to Rudolf Steiner, the Atlantic period on the geological time scale began approximately with the Cenozoic (Lit.:GA 300a, p. 107), the beginning of which is placed at about 66 million years ago[2]. At that time, the climate was completely different from today. At the beginning it was still very warm. Later, about 2.6 million years ago, the most recent Ice Age began with the glaciation of the North Pole. At the South Pole, the Inland glaciation began 38 million years ago. All references to time here are only for comparison with the present state of external research and are to be taken with great caution, as Rudolf Steiner also clearly points out.[3]

The air was saturated with water vapour and filled with fog vapours. About 11,700 years ago, with the subsiding of the Last Glacial Period and the beginning of the Holocene, the Atlantic Era came to an end. It was only at the end of the Atlantean period that the masses of fog began to settle and the sea level rose very rapidly as a result of the rapid warming, so that Atlantis finally sank in a massive flood. Plato still tells of the last remnant of this land, the island of Poseidonis, which is said to have been located westwards from Europe and Africa, a little to the west of present-day Ireland.

„Our root race, the Aryan[4], is descended from the most highly developed sub-race of the Atlantians, the Ur-Semitic, which last dwelt approximately in the region of present-day Ireland. The island of Poseidonis, mentioned by Plato, can be regarded as the last remnant of the declining Atlantis. Manu, a leading figure of the Atlantians, led the most mature people to the East.“ (Lit.:GA 94, p. 168)

„It was essentially the whole area that is now ocean, the ancient Atlantis, and there dwelt the physical ancestors of the present human race.“ (Lit.:GA 100, p. 125)

„The land was covered with vast masses of water-mist; these masses of water-mist were of different density in the first and in the last Atlantean period, namely they were different in the vicinity of present-day Ireland than in the other regions. The water and mist masses were warm and hot at first. In the southern part of the Atlantis they were still warm, partly hot, like warm, hot masses of smoke; towards the north they were colder.“ (Lit.:GA 101, p. 20)

„Let us look clairvoyantly at the old continent of the Atlantic world, which we must seek where the Atlantic Ocean is now, between Africa and Europe on the one hand and America on the other. This continent was enclosed by a kind of warm current, a current which clairvoyant consciousness shows to have risen, strange as it may sound, from the south, passing through the Baffins Bay towards northern Greenland and embracing it, then flowing over to the east, gradually cooling down, then in the time when Siberia and Rumania were in a state of heat, then, at the time when Siberia and Russia were far from being raised to the surface of the Earth, it flowed down in the region of the Urals, turned round, touched the eastern Carpathians, flowed into the region where the present Sahara is, and finally, at the Bay of Biscay, it went towards the Atlantic Ocean, so that it had a completely closed current area. You will understand that this current can only exist in its very last remnants. This stream is the Gulf Stream, which once flowed round the Atlantic continent.“ (Lit.:GA 121, p. 176f)

„What Germanic mythology calls Niflheim or Nebelheim - fog home - is the land of the Atlantians. The Earth at that time was indeed warmer and still enveloped in a constant vapour envelope. The Atlantic continent was submerged by a series of torrential cloudbursts, in the course of which the Earth's atmosphere cleared. Only then did blue skies, thunderstorms, rain and rainbows appear. For this reason the Bible says that after Noah's ark landed, the rainbow became the new sign of the covenant between God and man.“ (Lit.:GA 94, p. 24f)

Geological clues

From today's geological point of view, based on plate tectonics, the continent described by Rudolf Steiner as Atlantis is probably best identified with fragments of the former large continent Laurasia, which broke away from the last supercontinent Pangaea about 200 million years ago in the younger Mesozoic. Gondwana, the southern large continent that became independent (again) with the disintegration of Pangaea, is presumably largely identical with Lemuria described by Rudolf Steiner. Antarctica, Australia and the Indian Plate had already detached from this southern continent at that time.

With the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, which began from the south about 150 million years ago, Laurasia gradually split into Eurasia and what is now North America. According to some sources, however, Laurasia still existed in a largely coherent form in the north until about 55 million years ago in the early Palaeogene, which already belongs to the Atlantic period. The South Atlantic had already opened wide at that time. Since the sea level was still much lower at that time, significant land bridges between the fragments, especially in the north, are likely to have existed for a long time later. From a geological point of view, a longer existence and the relatively rapid demise of southern Atlantis, of which Plato's Poseidonis is said to have been the very last remnant, seems particularly problematic. Andreas Delor has outlined an unusual solution to this (Lit.: Delor, 2011-2014).

The Atlantis as a completely new impact in the Earth's development

Only with the Atlantis did something really new begin in the Earth's evolution; all previous epochs were only repetitions of earlier stages of world evolution.

„Now let us take a look at this fourth period, the Atlantean, and what it represents. It was preceded by what I have often called the Lemurian period in Earth evolution, then by what we may call the second and the first period of Earth evolution. But these first three periods of Earth evolution up to the Atlantean period are repetitions: the first of the Saturnian Age, the second of the Solar Age, the third of the Lunar Age. Only the fourth, the Atlantean period, represents something new. The preceding periods are indeed repetitions, repetitions, however, on a higher level, but just repetitions.

The Atlantic period, that is, this fourth period, represents something new. And that which happened during the Atlantean period occurred when the Earth still had essentially different forms from those of later times. A solid Earth crust did not exist in the same sense in the middle of the Atlantic period as it does today. The geological periods that are assumed for these things are illusions. The times in which the earth solidified from its relatively solid-liquid composition still lie in the Atlantean period. And the human race was quite different during the Atlantean period. In the middle of the Atlantean period it did not yet have the solid bone structure of today. Men in their formation at that time actually resembled substantially more or less lower animals, not in their form - in their form they were very nobly formed - but substantially they resembled lower jellyfish-like animals in soft, cartilaginous substance.“ (Lit.:GA 346, p. 168f)

The group I's of the Atlantean people

Until about the last of the Atlantean times, the individual I had not yet moved into the physical body. The I-consciousness had not yet awakened and the human being was still entirely under the influence of the group-I.

„Only through the gradual pushing in of the ether head were parts of the head condensed, first detached from the parts of the surroundings. Even in the later Atlantis, man was still endowed in a tremendous way with that which has been preserved in a morbid way in the watery head, in a watery brain. In addition, we have to think of a softening of the bones, a complete softening of the upper limbs of the human being. That sounds terrible to the man of today. From this watery substance has hardened what today forms and encloses the human head. This is not even a very unsuitable image, which I sometimes use, the hardening, the crystallisation out of the masses of water, out of a salt solution in a glass; it reflects things quite accurately, this crystallisation of the salt out of the aqueous salt solution. What happened to the head at such a late date happened to the rest of the human being much earlier. The other limbs also gradually formed out of a soft mass. So that we can say: Where then is the human I, the present-day I? Not really in the human being; it is still in the environment. Through the drawing in of the I, we can also say that the upper limbs of the human being harden. Because the I was outside the human being, it was still afflicted with a peculiarity in another respect, which later became different. By moving into the physical body, the I was induced to become an individual I, whereas before it was still a kind of group soul. I want to give you a picture of the facts. Imagine a circle of twelve people sitting somewhere in a circle. Through the development as it is today, every human being has his or her I within him or her. So there are twelve I's sitting around in a circle. But if we look at such a circle of people in the Atlantean time, the physical bodies would also be sitting around, but the I would only be in the etheric body, which is still outside. So in front of each one is his I. But the I has another characteristic, it is not so centralised, it immediately unfolds its forces and unites with the I's of the other people, so that they form a ring, which in turn sends its forces towards its centre. So we have here an etheric circle body which forms a unity within itself, and within it the I's, thus a circle of physical bodies and within it an etheric circle surface which forms a unity, through the fact that the I's are caught up, the individual I is enclosed and through this picture we come to a vivid idea of the group souls.

If we go further and further back, we can hold on to this picture, but we no longer have to imagine such a regular circle of people, but these people can be scattered in the world in the most manifold ways. Let us imagine one man in western France, another in the east of America, and so on, not sitting together, but where the laws of the spiritual world are concerned, the I can nevertheless hang together, even if the people are scattered over the Earth. These people then form this round dance. That which is formed by the flowing together of their I's is not such a geometrically beautiful etheric body, but it is nevertheless a unity. So there was a group of people at that time who were connected by the fact that their I' s formed a unity; and there were essentially four such group I' s. You have to imagine these people again according to the etheric bodies. You must again imagine these people according to the laws of the spiritual world. The group souls of the four groups went into each other; they were not inwardly connected, but they went into each other. These four group souls are called by the names of the four apocalyptic animals: Eagle, Lion, Bull, Man.“ (Lit.:GA 107, p. 74f)

These group souls already existed in Lemurian times. At that time, the female gender had developed from the lion people and the male gender from the bull people.

„At that time a very strange sight would have presented itself to the observer. One would have found a kind of race of which one could have said to oneself with prophetic gift: 'These are physical beings somewhat reminiscent of lions, reflecting the character of the lion, though they looked different from lions today.' They were lion-minded people, aggressive human germs. Then again there was a group of bull-like people, all viewed on the physical plan. You can easily complement the third and fourth races. The third race was already strongly visionary. While the first was martial, while the second cultivated everything connected with the physical plan, with the processing of the physical plan, you would have found a third class of people who were very visionary. As a rule, they had something that was malformed in relation to the other bodies. They would have reminded you of such people who have a great deal of psychic and who believe in visions, but who, because they do not care much for the physical, have something withered, something stunted in comparison with the vigorousness of the other two groups. They would have reminded you of the bird nature. "I want to retain my spirit", that was the tendency of the eagle people. The others had something that was mixed from all parts, so to speak.“ (S. 76f)

The people of Atlantis

In the early days of Atlantis, the human form was still softly mobile, watery-cartilaginous. The work of the regular Spirits of Form was not yet complete, the bone system not yet hardened. The etheric body still protruded far beyond the physical body, namely in the head area. Our everyday, familiar, objective sense consciousness was still barely developed, and a natural clairvoyance was peculiar to human beings.

Already on ancient Lemuria, where man entered the solid earth, he acquired - as a result of the moon's exit - the upright posture. At this time, the separation of the sexes also occurred. Language was then developed primarily on ancient Atlantis, although its beginnings date back to the late Lemurian period. On the one hand, the formation of the larynx necessary for this already presupposes the upright posture, but on the other hand it is closely connected with the westward migration of mankind from Lemuria to Atlantis.

The regular Spirits of Form worked from the Sun or the Moon (Yahweh). These forces, either more sun-like male or more moon-like female, are also the basis of the separation of the sexes, and they imprinted the all-round I-like form on the human body.

„If we ask why the Spirits of Form could not intervene on Saturn, we must reply: because the germinal systems of the physical body formed there were still too young, so to speak; a certain state of maturity had first to occur. And this state of maturity did not occur until our earth was on the threshold of that development of which I have spoken to you by describing how the earth, together with the sun, formed a kind of fine substantial world-body and then progressed further in its development. At that time the Spirits of Form were already active and slowly and gradually worked on the human body until it was finally able to attain human form.

We can point to a time when this shaping of the human being reached a certain conclusion, when the human form was, so to speak, in the main finished. This was not yet the case in the first period of the Atlantic. If we go back to the first period after the tremendous catastrophe which swept away the ancient Atlantis, we find our ancestors in a condition very different from our present one. Only in the middle of the Atlantean epoch do we arrive at the point in time when man in the main received his human form as we know it today. Before that, man was not at all as solid as he was afterwards, but his whole material content, if we may so express it, was softer. In the first Atlantean period we find man consisting of soft matter, which had nothing of the hardness of bones we know today, and was not even as firm as cartilage. Man was, so to speak, still swimming around in the air, which was still completely filled and interspersed with dense water; he was a kind of water creature, in the way that there are certain animals today that can hardly be distinguished from water. Even then, the bone structure was already predisposed in the forces, but it was not yet hardened. That is the time when there was a completely different connection between the higher and lower members of the human being. Let us remember once more that today, when man sleeps, he leaves his physical and etheric body in bed, while the astral body and the I are outside. Since today the etheric body is nearly the same in form and size as the physical one, when man leaves the physical body with his astral body, he is also very soon out of the etheric body. It was not like this in the first Atlantean times. There the etheric body protruded on all sides, especially at the head, above the physical body. The consequence of this protrusion was that the astral body, when it had already left the physical body, still remained connected with the etheric body. When the astral body emerges in the human being of today, it has also left the etheric body at the same moment that it has left the physical body. And the consequence of this connection of the astral body with the etheric body, which in former times still lasted when the physical body had already left, was that man did not have such darkness and unconsciousness around and within him at night as is the case today. Then, when he was out of his physical body, he could perceive soul-spiritual beings in a dim clairvoyance. When you imagine that you fall asleep and your astral body leaves the physical body, your gaze is diverted from the physical world, but instead you are confronted with a world populated with soul-spirit beings. But such a human being could not need a solid physical body, he could not need a solid bone system, for the fact that the physical body was soft also made it more mobile.

And here we come to something that was certainly once present for the clairvoyant consciousness, however much it may be an abomination to the materialistic consciousness of today: In the first Atlantean times man had great power over the shape of his body. Think of it, man at that time wanted a limb which later became a hand - roughly speaking - to look different, for example, to lengthen; then he could indeed lengthen it elastically, he could not only move all his limbs but also stretch them elastically, he could, so to speak, inflate himself. That was quite possible at that time, however much it may be repugnant to the materialistically thinking man of today; he could stretch out his fingers far and wide, lengthen them; and this was especially strongly the case if we go back still further, to the Lemurian age. And now you will see how two things come together. When did man lose the ability to extend his limbs, to stretch them and to contract them again? When the Spirits of Form had finished working out the forms.“ (Lit.:GA 105, p. 96ff)

But now the abnormal Spirits of Form from the remaining five planets worked in one-sidedly and early hardening. Because they are retarded spirits, they worked on the astral body, as was still usual on the Old Moon, and not I-forming like the Elohim. This is how the 7 Atlantean races first came into being, although the racial characteristics were not yet physically hardened at the beginning, but were only etherically pre-formed. Accordingly, the physical human body could at first still easily adapt to changing conditions, as has already been mentioned above. Only with the progressive downfall of Atlantis did the present races come into being, and this by the fact that the Atlantean etherically mobile races were suitably mixed, partly also with remnants of the former Lemurian population, namely in the southern and south-eastern regions of the earth. These secondarily formed races were then confined to certain territories, which essentially correspond to our present continents and which only acquired their present form in the course of the sinking of Atlantis, and hardened into their present shape. 7 is, as the number of the earth's development periods also shows, the number of temporal, i.e. at the same time of etheric development. Therefore, there were also 7 races unfolding on Atlantis, of which Rudolf Steiner speaks in detail in his reports in "Cosmic Memory" (Lit.:GA 11), so that a brief overview may suffice here:

  1. Rmoahals (feelings, sense memory, language)
  2. Tlavatli (memory, ancestor cult)
  3. Primal Toltecs (personal experience)
  4. Primal Turanians (personal power)
  5. Primal Semites (power of judgement, arithmetic)
  6. Primal Akkadians (application of judgement, "laws")
  7. Primal Mongols (lose power over life forces, but retain belief in them)

Seven is the number of etheric development; in the number five the physical formation of the human being is completed, the freely mobile formative forces coagulate into a solid form adapted to the outer world. It is not by chance that today's solid earth is divided into five continents essential to the development of mankind, it is not by chance that the human form with its head and four limbs has a five-rayed structure, and it is not by chance that hands and feet, with which we most strongly encounter the outer world, have five numbers. And so, too, through intermixing and solidification, our present 5 main physical races arose from the 7 etheric Atlantean races. They are just as necessary for development as the five fingers are indispensable for the usability of the hand.

On ancient Atlantis, people were still little awakened to the world of the senses, but instead, as mentioned, they had a natural clairvoyance that was essentially dependent on the physical constitution, which expresses itself in the different races. At the same time, it was a natural clairvoyance that was able to see those spiritual forces that shape nature and also contributed to the formation of races. In the Atlantean oracles these forces were particularly studied. In the oracle sites, those points of equilibrium on earth were conscientiously sought which came into consideration for the formation of the various races, and then the streams of emigration and colonisation were deliberately directed.

All Atlantians had great influence on the life forces, both those of their own bodies and those of their natural environment. The tremendous flood catastrophe by which Atlantis finally sank was brought about by the misuse of these etheric forces.

„At that time, man still had a certain magical power over the growth of plants. When he raised his hand, which at that time still had a completely different form, over a plant, he was able to bring it to rapid growth through the influence of his will. He was still intimately connected with the beings of nature. The whole life of the Atlantian corresponded to this coexistence with nature.

What today is called the sense of combination, intelligence, logical thinking, did not exist at that time. On the other hand, man had developed other things to a high degree, for example memory, the fabulous development of which we cannot even imagine today. Man could not calculate, not even that 2 times 2 = 4, but he knew it from memory. Each time he remembered the earlier experience. This, too, has been preserved in the Atlantean times, that even if one no longer felt the soul of the people directly within oneself as on the moon, one still felt the effect of the old souls of the people and the races. It was so strong that at that time it would have been quite impossible for a person who belonged to one race or folk-soul ever to have associated with one who belonged to another race. There was a deep antipathy between the members of the different folk-souls. Only what was within the same folk soul loved each other. One could say that the common blood, which in the past had poured down from the soul of the people in the moon time, was the reason for the togetherness, and one remembered not only darkly, but quite clearly the experiences of the ancestors. One felt oneself to be a link in the ancestral chain through the common blood, just as you feel the hand to be a link in your organism. This feeling of belonging together was connected with the development in so far as at that time, during this transition which we have been considering and which took place at the time of the detachment of the sun and the expulsion of the moon, another significant process took place. This is connected with all that was going on on earth as a kind of hardening process. The mineral kingdom came into being, and at the same time such a hardening process also took place within the human nature. From the soft mass a harder mass gradually developed, which hardened first to cartilage and then to bone, and it was only with this setting of the bone mass that the walking movement of man began.

And with this division into bone mass another process went on in parallel. As the human being developed further because the lunar mass was repelled from the earth and only that which was capable of development remained, two kinds of forces developed in the beings who inhabited the earth. Now the sun and the moon were outside, and the solar and lunar forces therefore act upon the earth from without. And from this mixture of solar and lunar forces, which had formerly existed in the earth itself, but now radiated in from outside, arose what we call the advance to sexual life. For all those forces which are expressed in sexual life are under the influence of the solar and lunar forces.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 123ff)

Abilities that are very strongly based on these etheric image forces could be developed by the Atlantians, especially memory, language and an initial, but by no means yet I-conscious, but rather instinctive power of judgement. This latter ability was formed above all in the primal Semites under the influence of the solar forces, a small group of whom prepared for the post-Atlantean period after the Ice Age catastrophes. The main task of our post-Atlantean cultural epochs is to raise the power of judgement already prepared here into the awake I-consciousness. This almost instinctive, unerring intellect is still very active today, especially among the Semitic peoples, and has fertilised Western intellectual life in many ways and made it what it is today. With the awakening of the power of judgement, however, the natural ethereal clairvoyance simultaneously evaporated and the sensual awareness of objects became clearer and clearer.

There was hardly any external culture on ancient Atlantis, apart from a few primitive tools.

„An Atlantean settlement - this is probably already clear from everything that has been described - had a character that in no way resembled that of a modern city. In such a settlement, everything was still in league with nature. There is only a faintly similar picture when one says: In the first Atlantean times - up to about the middle of the third sub-race - a settlement resembled a garden in which the houses were built up of trees with their branches intertwined in an artificial way. What man made at that time grew, as it were, out of nature. And man himself felt completely related to nature. That is why his social sense was so different from today's. Nature is common to all people. And what the Atlantean built on the basis of nature he regarded as common property just as man today thinks only naturally when he regards what his acumen, his intellect, works out as his private property.“ (Lit.:GA 11, p. 30)

In general outline, Rudolf Steiner describes Atlantic man and his environment thus:

„If we go back a few thousand years in Europe itself, we find Europe iced over. At that time the glaciers of the Alps reached deep down into the North German Plain. The regions we live in now were cold and harsh back then. They were inhabited by a human race that still used very simple and primitive tools. If we go back about a million years, we find on the same soil a tropical climate, such as is found today only in the hottest parts of Africa; in some parts mighty primeval forests, in which parrots, monkeys, especially the gibbon, and elephants lived. But if we were to wander through these forests, we would hardly find anything of the man of today, nor of the man of the later periods of a few thousand years ago. Natural science can prove from certain layers of the earth, which were formed between these two ages, a human being in whom the forebrain had not yet developed as it does now, and in whom the forehead was far back. Only the rear part of the brain was developed. We are returning to times when people did not yet know fire and made weapons by grinding stones. Naturalists like to compare this state of man with the state of development of savages or that of the clumsy child. Remains of such people have been found in the Neander Valley and in Croatia. They have a skull similar to that of an ape, and the finds in Croatia show that they were roasted before they died, i.e. that cannibals lived there at that time.

Now the materialistic thinker says to himself: We thus trace man back to the times when he was still undeveloped and clumsy, and assume that man has developed from this childlike stage of existence to the present-day cultural stage of mankind, and that this primitive man has developed out of man-like animals. - So he simply makes a leap in this theory of development from primitive man to man-like animals. The naturalist assumes that the more perfect has always evolved from the more imperfect. But this is not always the case. If, for example, we trace the individual human being back to childhood, then there is nothing more imperfect, because the child descends from father and mother. This means, then, that we come to a primitive state that comes again from a higher state. This is important, because it is connected with the fact that the child already has the disposition at birth for a later degree of perfection, while the animal remains on the lower stage.

If the natural scientist has gone back to the stage where man did not yet have a forebrain and a mind, then he should say to himself: I must presuppose that the origin of man is to be sought elsewhere.

Just as a child descends from a pair of parents, so all those primitive human beings descend from other human beings who had already reached a certain degree of perfection. We call these people the Atlantians. They lived on the ground that is now covered by the floods of the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantians had even less forebrain and an even more receding forehead. But they had something else than the later humans. They still had a much stronger, more powerful etheric body. The etheric body of the Atlantians had not yet developed certain connections with the brain; they only developed later. Thus a mighty, large etheric head was still developed above the head; the physical head was relatively small and embedded in a mighty etheric head. The functions that people now carry out with the help of the forebrain were carried out by the Atlantians with the help of organs in the etheric body. This enabled them to make contact with beings to whom access is barred today because man has developed the forebrain. With the Atlanteans a kind of fiery coloured formation was visible, emanating from the opening of the physical head towards the etheric head. It was accessible to a great many psychic influences. Such a head, which thinks as an ether head, has power over the etheric, whereas a head which thinks in the physical brain has power over the physical alone, over the assembling of purely mechanical things. It can make physical tools for itself. On the other hand, a man who still thinks in the ether can make a seed blossom so that it really grows. The Atlantean culture was really still connected with the growth of the natural, the vegetal, over which modern man has lost power. The Atlantean, for example, did not use steam power to move vehicles, but the seed power of plants with which he propelled his vehicles. Only from the last third of the Atlantean period, from the time of the Ursemites until the time when Atlantis was covered by the floods of the Atlantic Ocean, did the etheric forebrain develop. Through this, man lost the power to influence plant growth and was now given the ability of the physical brain, the mind. He had to begin anew with many things. He had to start learning mechanical tasks. There he was still like a child, clumsy and clumsy, whereas before he had already attained great skill in the development of the vegetable. Man must pass through intelligence and then regain what he had previously been able to do. Higher spiritual powers then had an influence on the unfree will; through the etheric head left open, they worked through their intellect.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 137ff)

About the consciousness of (later) Atlantean humanity it is said:

„There we must put ourselves in souls of the last Atlantean population. We must remember that in the Atlantean time man was not unconscious at night, but that he then perceived in the same way as he perceived by day, if one may speak of day and night at all in that time. By day he perceived the first trace of what we see so clearly today as the world of sense perception. By night he was a comrade of the divine-spiritual beings. He needed no proof that there were gods, any more than we need proof today that there are minerals. The gods were his comrades, he himself was a spiritual entity in the night. In his astral body and his I, he walked about in the spiritual world [...] In this state, which was generally human, even if one was conscious during the day, one perceived the surrounding objects differently than today, the day consciousness was also different, and we must try to understand what this last consciousness of the Atlantians was like.

It has been described how the divine beings eluded man when he dived down into his physical body in the morning. He saw the objects as if enveloped in a mist. Such were the images of the day awakening at that time. But these images had another peculiar quality which we must grasp quite precisely. Let us imagine that such a soul approached a pond. This soul did not see the water in the pond as sharply defined as it does today; but when the soul turned its attention to it, it experienced something even more different than when someone approaches a pond today. When approaching the pond, already by the mere sight, a feeling arose in her as if she got a taste of what was physically in front of her, without needing to drink the water of the pond. Just by looking at it, she would have felt: the water is sweet or salty. In general, it was not like when we see water today. Today we only see the surface, but we can't get inside. In former times, when clairvoyance was still dim, he who approached the pond did not have the feeling of being a stranger to it, he felt himself inside it in the qualities of the water; he did not stand opposite the object as he does today, it was as if he could have penetrated into the water. Let us assume that we had come face to face with a block of salt, that we had noticed the taste as we approached it. Today we have to taste the salt first, then it would have been given by sight. Man was as if he were inside the whole thing, and he perceived things as if they were animated. He perceived, as it were, the beings which, for example, gave things their salty taste. In this way everything became animate to him. Air, earth, water, fire, everything, all of it revealed something to him. What today appears to the consciousness as soulless objects did not exist at that time. That is why man felt everything with sympathy and antipathy, because he saw what was inside. He felt, he experienced the inner essence of the objects [...]

At that time, man perceives how the water tastes by approaching the pond. There he sees a spiritual being that gives the water its taste. He can meet this spiritual being at night when he lies down next to the water and falls asleep. By day he sees the material, by night he sees that which lives through everything. By day he sees the objects, stones, plants, animals, he hears the wind blowing, the water rushing; by night he sees within himself what he feels by day, in its real form, there he sees the spirits that live in everything. When he said: In the minerals, in the plants, in the water, in the clouds, in the wind, spirits live there, spirits live everywhere - for him these were not fictions at all, this was not fantasy to him, this was something he could perceive.“ (Lit.:GA 106, p. 41ff)

Formation of the individual I-consciousness in the last third of the Atlantean period

„If we go back to the Polar root race, we find human beings who did not yet possess self-consciousness and were not yet separated into different sexes; likewise with the Hyperboreans. Only in the third root-race, in the Lemurian epoch, does man become unisexual. And it is only in the Atlantean period that the I is born, in the fifth subrace. There man says "I" to himself for the first time. This I-consciousness is portrayed in the myth as a dwarf, as Alberich, it is perceived as rising from Nifelheim. Atlantis was the Nifelheim, and it could rightly be called a "Nebelheim" ("Fog Home"). Our earth's atmosphere had not yet been cleansed of water vapours, there was still no precipitation through rain. Out of this Nifelheim, with its bubbling waters and hovering mists, the human I is born.“ (Lit.:GA 92, p. 124)

„It was only towards the end of the last third of the Atlantean period that human beings began to become aware that they were an I. The disposition to this had long been present and a certain feeling of it also. But to say it clearly and distinctly: I am an I - was only learned in the last third of the Atlantic period. This is connected with the relationship of the etheric body to the physical body. If you look at these two bodies, you will see that they roughly coincide, only the etheric body protrudes a little beyond the physical body. There is a place between the eyebrows which is a centre for certain forces and currents of the etheric body. To this belongs a very definite point in the physical brain. The two must coincide, and on this is based the ability to feel oneself as an I; on this is also based the ability to calculate, to combine, and so on.“ (Lit.:GA 100, p. 126)

The Late Period and the Fall of Atlantis

„Towards the end of the Atlantean period in particular, a powerful cooling occurred. Now it was precisely this cooling of the misty masses, this Nordic cold, which conjured the new outlook, the new life of the soul out of the people. Never could the intellect and the power of judgement have developed first in mankind under the heat of the south. The Atlantean near Ireland felt abilities flowing into him which penetrated him in such a way that he became able to see, hear and so on things outside with his sense organs. He felt that he owed it to the cooling of the air masses.“ (Lit.:GA 101, p. 20)

„Towards the end of the Atlantic period, the external and internal conditions were most favourable for man on a certain part of the earth's surface, which was close to present-day Ireland. Today the area in question is covered with water. At that time, conditions there were particularly favourable; and there, among the Atlantean peoples, the most gifted people developed who had the greatest predisposition to rise to free human self-awareness. And the leader of this people, whom one has been accustomed to call in Theosophical literature the "primal Semites", was a great initiate who, if one may speak trivially, selected the most advanced individuals of this section of the people and went with them to the East, through Europe and over into Asia into the region of what is now Tibet. A relatively small, but spiritually very advanced fraction of the Atlantean population moved there.

During the last Atlantic period, the western regions of Atlantis gradually disappeared and were covered by the sea. Europe emerged more and more in its present form. Asia was still such that the great Siberian mass of land was still covered with vast masses of water; but the southern regions of Asia, in particular, were already present, differently shaped. The less advanced masses of people partly joined this core of the people, which moved from west to east; some moved further, some less far along. But the old European population also came about to a large extent through masses of people moving over from Atlantis, settling there and populating old Europe. Masses of peoples who had been pushed out earlier, some of whom had come to Asia from other regions of Atlantis, including ancient Lemuria, met in this migration of peoples. So that masses of people of the most diverse talents and spiritual abilities settled in Europe and Asia. The small fraction that was led by that great spiritual individuality settled over in Asia in order to cultivate there the highest spirituality possible at that time. From this cultural region the cultural currents went to the most diverse regions of the earth and to the various peoples.“ (Lit.:GA 103, p. 139f)

„But where Ireland is, and to the west of it, where the sea is today, man had been able to develop furthest. There were those mixtures of warm and cold through which the human body could progress furthest. From the willpower, which was still magical at that time, an unspoken I-feeling developed at the first stage. It was at this point that man learned to say "I" to himself for the first time. Then people in the first stage learned to count, to calculate, to develop an incipient faculty of judgement, the combinatorial. But there were always advanced beings among them, the leaders of humanity, who behaved towards people as beings of a higher kingdom. They had become the teachers and leaders and gave rise to the move to the East. - From that point near present-day Ireland as far east as Asia, there were already settlements of peoples everywhere. Now the most advanced masses of people went over to the East and formed a kind of colony everywhere on their way. The most powerful one, with the most highly developed culture, was near today's Gobi Desert. From there, individual parts later went to various parts of the world, some to what is now India; they already met peoples there, yellow-brownish ones, and partly mixed with them.

That was after the Atlantic flood, when this colony went south and founded there the first culture of the post-Atlantean period, the first culture of our epoch.“ (Lit.:GA 100, p. 141)



References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. The term root race derives from the terminology used at that time by the Theosophical Society and was later no longer used by Rudolf Steiner, as was the term subrace. Steiner repeatedly pointed out that the term "race" is actually no longer justified in the post-Atlantean time, since now it is no longer the physical but the soul-spiritual development that comes to the fore. The division of humanity into races will gradually be completely overcome and is already meaningless for the spiritual development of man.
  2. cf. the table in Bosse 2002, p. 57
  3. Abstract concepts of time, detached from things, are not meaningful for the contemplation of nature. Rather, one must rely on the intrinsic time of the system under consideration. For example, the Earth year or the Platonic year can only serve as a reference since the separation of the Sun, Earth and Moon. Intrinsic time is rooted in the essence of a living, developing wholeness and expresses itself through the processes that take place in it periodically in an orderly sequence and thereby constantly metamorphose. All living beings and all living systems, such as our earth, the entire planetary system and the cosmos as a whole, are such wholes and each has its own specific time. There is no absolute time deducted from things. Time measurements can therefore not be related to them, but consist in comparing different proper times with each other.

    „And this brings me to the fact that basically every entity that may be regarded at all as a totality actually carries its time within itself. I can consider a piece [of an] inorganic body for itself, but not a leaf, because it only has a part in the tree. In my observation, therefore, I must take into consideration what is a total system closed in on itself, what is a totality. But every totality that I look at in this way has time in it as something immanent. So that I can't really have much to spare for the abstract time that is still outside every thing and exists [alongside] the time immanent in every thing or process. When I consider the time that is to go from beginning to end, it seems to me just as when someone forms the abstract concept for the individual horse. The individual horses are there in the external spatial reality, but in order to get the concept, I have to attribute something else to it. It is the same with time. The question: Is time in itself variable or not? - has no real content, because every total system has its [own] time in its immanent being, and its [own] course of speed. The course of velocity of the inorganic or of the process of life leads back to this immanent time...

    In geology we describe one period after another, as if it were a reality. It is not. It is only a reality with the whole of the Earth, in the same way that an organism is a reality, where I must not tear out one thing. Instead of relating our processes to coordinate axis systems, it would be more important to relate them to their own inner reality, then we would arrive at totality systems. And then we would have to come back to a kind of monadism.“ (Lit.:GA 324a, p. 144)

    Moreover, developmental epochs do not simply follow each other, but overlap in wide areas. As a rule, the beginning of the following epoch is already indicated in the middle of the preceding one and continues to have an effect until the middle of the next one.

    Cf. also (Lit.: Bosse 2002, p 38ff)

  4. These views of Steiner were in sharp contrast to the racial doctrine advocated by the Nazis, through which they wanted to glorify the Aryans as the supposed "master race". After Rudolf Steiner had already been fiercely opposed by the first representatives of National Socialism during his lifetime, the Anthroposophical Society was banned by Reinhard Heydrich's decree on 1 November 1935 "as a result of the antagonism between the views of the Anthroposophical Society and the nationalist ideas advocated by National Socialism".