Crowning with Thorns

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Caravaggio: The Crowning with Thorns, 1603

The Crowning with Thorns is, in the mystical re-experiencing of the descriptions of the Gospel of John 19:1–5, the third stage of Christian initiation and can lead up to a corresponding stigmatisation in the head area. It is also mentioned in Matthew 27:29 and Mark 15:17.

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

„For the third stage he receives the instruction: Now you must put yourself in the position of feeling how you would be if you not only had to endure pain and suffering, but if even that which is most sacred to you were showered with scorn and derision. You must be able to stand by the forces of the inner being, you must have such a centre in you that you can stand upright. Then a new vision occurs: The disciple sees himself as crowned with thorns. He has as the outer symptom a kind of headache, which shows down to the limbs that this great experience has set in.“ (Lit.:GA 97, p. 232)

At this stage of the Christian Initiation there is an encounter with the lesser Guardian of the Threshold:

„In the course of the stage which in Christian initiation is called the crowning with thorns, a fearsome phenomenon occurs which is called the "guardian of the threshold" and which could also be called the appearance of the double. The spiritual being of man, formed from his will currents, his wishes and his intellectual abilities, then appears to the initiate as an image in the dream consciousness. And this image is sometimes repulsive and terrifying, for it is a result of his good and bad qualities and his karma; of all this it is the pictorial personification on the astral plan. This is the terrible ferryman in the Book of the Dead of the Egyptians. Man must overcome him in order to find his higher self. The guardian of the threshold, a phenomenon of clairvoyant seeing down to the most ancient times, is the actual origin of all the myths about the battle of the hero with the monster, of Perseus and Heracles with the Hydra, of St. George and Siegfried with the dragon.

The premature onset of clairvoyance and the sudden appearance of the double or the guardian of the threshold may lead to madness the one who has not followed all the preparations and perceived all the precautions imposed on the disciple.“ (Lit.:GA 94, p. 56f)


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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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.