Anglo-German culture

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The Faust motif in the ceiling painting of the small dome of the first Goetheanum.

The Anglo-German culture or Germanic-Anglo-Saxon culture (1413 - 3573 AD) is the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch; we are currently living in this cultural epoch, which in a historical context is generally referred to as the modern era. It serves the formation of the consciousness soul and can therefore also be called consciousness soul age. It is under the sign of Pisces, thus it is the Age of Pisces.

„We have entered the Age of Pisces. It is essentially characterised by the fact that man receives the power to abstract concepts from the macrocosm. Today man receives this power from the macrocosm. But for the time the abstract concepts are that of which man does not yet know how to link it up again with reality. It must again be linked with reality.“ (Lit.:GA 180, p. 169)

„We now live for many centuries under the sign of Pisces. It is the sign which marks man's transition to intellectualism. But if you go back to the point where it was still justified to set out from Aries and it was possible to speak of the Zodiac in the old meaning, you will not obtain more than the callings represented by Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces; namely, hunter, breeder of animals, farmer, and trader. Everything connected with industrialism, etc., already pertains to the epoch of Pisces, and it is a repetition.

Consider the following: We now live in the age of Pisces. During this age developed everything which constitutes the present civilization of machines. But if we go back to the epoch of Aries, we still find the four honest callings, and although they had already become more complicated and modified, they placed man into nature. And by going back still farther, to the epoch of Taurus, to the third, second, first post-Atlantean ages, to the last Atlantean epoch and to the last but one Atlantean epoch, etc., we would finally come to Pisces. There we would find that man was a completely etheric being and that he had not yet come down to the physical world. In the age of Pisces we find that he was an etheric being and in the present time he is really repeating what he already passed through at that time, when he developed into a human being. Since the middle of the Fifteenth Century, he is repeating this stage, but in an abstract way. In the past, he grew concretely into his human development. Since the middle of the Fifteenth Century, he is growing into his abstractions, for a machine is also an abstraction. Since the return of the age of Pisces, man has really sailed into the forces which dissolve him. And when he will reach Aquarius this dissolution will have progressed in an essential way; he will then above all be unable to have the slightest connection with the universe unless he clings to the spiritual world. Just because of this repetition, man must penetrate into the spiritual world.“ (Lit.:GA 208, p. 76f)

„The impulses of the consciousness soul have an isolating and isolating effect if they are not practised in anthroposophical form. One can feel this as a tragedy of humanity. But it is precisely the strongest inner loneliness of the contemporary human being that awakens the great longing for community.“ (Lit.: Carl Unger: Aus der Sprache der Bewußtseinsseele (From the Language of the Consciousness Soul), p. 27)

But a true community - if it is not to fall back into already outmoded states of consciousness - can only be cultivated in community with spiritually conscious people - anthroposophists - according to the age. For the anthroposophically untrained person, the consciousness-soul quality often produces feelings of emptiness, searching, and loneliness (see above). These can only be counteracted if the respective person takes charge of his or her own spiritual education, and in doing so exchanges in detail with other, similarly oriented people about his or her progress and regression.

Pure contemplation of the sense world and free imagination as the task of the consciousness soul age

An essential task of the consciousness-soul age is to develop, on the one hand, pure contemplation of the sense world and, on the other hand, free imagination in the way that Goethe already aspired to.

„So, what abilities should the people of the fifth post-Atlantean period, our period, particularly develop? We know, of course, that it is a question of the development of the consciousness soul, which in turn must be composed of a number of forces, soul forces, physical forces. The first thing that must be developed, if man is to remain properly on Earth, is a really pure perception of the world of the senses. Such a pure perception of the world of the senses did not exist in earlier periods, because the visionary, the imaginative, always played a part in the life of the human soul. But after the imagination had taken hold of men to the extent that it had taken hold of them in Greek life, it became necessary for men to develop the ability to look at the outer reality of nature unhindered by an underlying vision. We need not imagine that the materialistic world-view is meant by this; this materialistic world-view is already an ahrimanically distorted view of sense reality. But, as I have said, to observe sense reality properly was one task of the fifth post-Atlantean period.

The other task of the human soul is this: in addition to the pure observation of reality, to develop free imagination, in one respect a kind of repetition of the Egyptian-Chaldean period. In this the fifth post-Atlantean period is not yet very far advanced. Free imaginations must be developed, as they are sought by spiritual science, that is, not bound imaginations, as they were in the third post-Atlantean period, not imaginations distilled into fantasy, but free imaginations in which one moves as freely as man otherwise moves freely only in his intellect. The right development of the consciousness soul of the fifth post-Atlantean period will result from the development of these two abilities.

Goethe felt very beautifully the pure contemplation, which he called its ur-phenomenon in contrast to materialism. In Goethe's writings and in my explanations of them, you will find much said about this ur-phenomenon. It is the pure contemplation of reality, this ur-phenomenon. But Goethe not only gave the first impulse to a vision-free sensuous observation in the ur-phenomenon, but he also gave the first impulse to free imagination; for precisely what we have found in his "Faust", even if it is not yet far advanced in spiritual-scientific relation, even if it is still in a certain sense instinctive only in relation to spiritual science, it is nevertheless the first impulse of the free imaginative life, for it is not merely a fantasy world. We have seen how deep this imaginary world really is, which is developed in free imaginations in this wonderful Faust drama. Thus, however, we have vis-à-vis the ur-phenomenon what Goethe calls the typical intellectual beholding.“ (Lit.:GA 171, p. 34f)


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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