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Frits Julius: Die zwölf Triebe in Tier und Mensch

Drives arise from the inner vital life needs of a living being that strive for fulfilment. They are an expression of the will in the etheric body. This vital, purely ethereal essence of the drive shows itself most clearly in the shoot of a developing plant. In the flowering of the mature plant, on the other hand, the astral influence is already apparent. In the blossom and fruit formation of the mature plant, on the other hand, the astral influence is already apparent.

Instinct, drive and desire

The drive, which has its origin in the etheric body, thus differs both from instinct-guided behaviour, which is directly rooted in the physical body, and from desire, which emanates from the needs of the astral body. In humans, conscious action is guided by motives that arise from the I, the spiritual core of man.

In the plant world, the drive expresses itself in its purest form only as an unconscious (→ sleep consciousness) chaste growth instinct. In animals and humans, it is reflected in the form of pleasure or displeasure in the astral body, in which it very easily arouses desires that are almost inseparable from the drive. Examples of this are, for example, the food drive, which serves the preservation of the individual living being, or the reproductive drive, which is directed towards the preservation of the species. It is a high spiritual developmental task to make the drives chaste again, i.e. to purify them of the desires that arise from the unpurified astral body (→ catharsis).

The twelve drives in animals and humans

Frits Julius has phenomenologically distinguished twelve basic drives in animals and humans, which he assigns in pairs to opposite signs of the zodiac in order to make their complementary opposites clear.

Sign Name Drive Description[1]
Aries Aries Waking drive On awakening, the animal immediately gives itself over to its sensory perceptions, but at the same time confronts its environment and seeks to build up a state of tension towards it. It rises, leaves its hiding place, starts to move, etc. Behind this, in turn, lies a sharply defined drive, the urge to wake up, to awaken.
Taurus Taurus Food drive By its girth, its food, and its whole constitution, it is destined to devote a large part of its life to the ingestion and processing of food. The bovine animal is predominantly dominated by the food drive or eating drive.
Gemini Gemini Play drive But if we consider how playing completely captivates the animal, and if we take into account that in the process a quite characteristic and nowhere else observable relationship to the environment comes about, then the conclusion is obvious that we must speak here of a drive.
Cancer Cancer Self-preservation drive A mouse, similar to crustaceans, is largely governed by the urge to be cautious and tends to stay hidden.
Leo Leo Fighting drive What appears to be particularly characteristic of the lion is its tendency to attack and destroy large animals. We find something of this tendency in the most diverse animals in the form of the fighting drive.
Virgo Virgo Brood care drive In the opposite sign of Virgo, the utmost care is given to the enclosure, including that of the child. Here something is indicated which takes place in all brood care: the retention of the reproductive products, their envelopment and protection.
Libra Libra Sleep drive We know only too well from our own experience that there is an urge to sleep which can completely dominate us, and we can also find its symptoms in animals. It clearly shows all the qualities which characterise it as an drive, and expresses itself, among other things, by the fact that the activity of the sense organs is switched off.
Scorpio Scorpio Lurking drive, stalking prey For a scorpion, the ingestion and processing of its food plays a much less important role, which can also be clearly seen in its waist. The more effort he has to put into stalking and creeping up on his prey. For him the drive to lie in wait is of the greatest importance.
Sagittarius Sagittarius Hunting drive Sagittarius is a being with an unusually strongly developed locomotor apparatus and a shooting weapon. He thus lives out his drive in rapid movement, which is directed towards a fleeing target and its killing. It is clearly recognisable that this is the hunting drive.
Capricorn Capricorn Self-promotional drive How very differently a common swift lives, on the other hand! Constantly he flies around in arrow-quick motion. It rarely touches the ground or its elevations, except when building its nest. It never seeks shelter anywhere. It escapes dangers by its all-surpassing speed and indefatigability. His way of life makes him one of the most striking animals.
Aquarius Aquarius Nurture drive, suckling the young Can a lion also behave differently, can it hold back, help and support another being, as is appropriate for a human being? In fact, we find such behaviour in the lioness who suckles and feeds her cubs. So we may assign the nurturing drive to the opposite sign of Aquarius."
Pisces Pisces Reproduction drive Among all the signs of the zodiac, Pisces show the greatest carelessness in reproduction. The fish spawn is thrown unreservedly into the environment in large quantities.

Inferior drives and the problematic intercourse with the dead


While the general acquaintance with the spiritual world is relatively unproblematic, intercourse with concrete dead people who are in the Kamaloka can cause greater difficulties without appropriate purification, since the lower drives can very easily be fuelled by this. What is higher life for the dead is connected with the lower drives and desires for the human being embodied on earth. The kamaloka is in fact the "place" where the three uppermost regions of the physical-etheric world (light ether, sound ether and life ether) intersect with the three lowest regions of the astral world (burning desire, mobile sensitivity and region of wishes); this is at the same time the sublunar sphere:

„If we start from the physical plane, we have here (it is drawn) seven subdivisions of the physical plane; then would come seven subdivisions of the astral plane. Of these, the three lowest coincide with the three highest of the physical plane. We must regard the astral plan as being pushed together with the physical plane in such a way that the three uppermost sections of the physical plane are at the same time the three lowermost sections of the astral plane. We can speak of a marginal zone, that is, the one which our souls cannot leave after death, when they are still bound to the earth by desires. It is called kamaloka.“ (Lit.:GA 101, p. 223)

„The other is what one can call direct intercourse with the beings of the spiritual world, concrete direct intercourse, from which we want to pick out today the intercourse that one can have from here to the so-called dead. This is something which is quite possible, but which offers greater difficulties than the first characterisation. The first characterisation is something that is easy to achieve; the other, to really communicate with individual dead people, is certainly possible, but it is difficult to achieve, because it requires attentiveness on the part of the one who seeks this communication. It is necessary for this special intercourse that the human being should really be able to discipline himself to a certain extent. For there is a very important law for intercourse with the spiritual world. This can be expressed in such a way that one says: that which for man here are more base instincts, is from the other side, seen from the spiritual side, higher life, and it can therefore be very easy, if man does not have himself properly under control, that he feels lower instincts aroused through direct intercourse with the so-called dead. If we only come into contact with the spiritual world in general, if we gain knowledge of our own immortality and have to do with the soul-spiritual, there can be no question of anything improper coming into it. But when we are dealing with individual concrete dead people, then there is always a relationship of the individual dead person - as strange as it sounds - to our blood and nervous system. The dead person lives into the instincts that live out in the blood and nervous system; this can stimulate lower drives. Of course, it can only be dangerous for those who have not purified their nature through discipline. This must be emphasised for once, for this is the reason why the Old Testament virtually forbids men to consort with the dead; not because it would be sinful, if it were done in the right way. One must, of course, refrain from the methods of modern spiritualism. If it is done spiritually, it is not sinful, but if man does not cultivate this intercourse with pure, souled thoughts, it very easily leads to man, as I have said, stirring up base passions. It is not the dead who stir them up, but the element in which the dead live. Consider: what we perceive here as animal is the basic element in which the dead live. The realm in which the dead live can very easily, by striking into us, change; it can become low in us what is actually a higher thing there. It is very important that we keep this in mind. This can certainly be said when we speak of the intercourse of the so-called living with the so-called dead, because it is an occult fact.“ (Lit.:GA 182, p. 42f)

„In the middle of the 19th century it was already a big question among occultists whether they should oppose this whole spiritualistic movement from their side. At that time they decided not to oppose it at first, because they expected - which was short-sighted - that when people saw all kinds of things coming out of the spiritual world through the medium, they would fall for the idea that there are things and forces in the world which work spiritually from one to the other. Instead, the whole of spiritualism sank into very egoistic, materialistic waters. The mediums mostly said everywhere that they were in contact with this or that dead person. They brought out all sorts of things by saying that this or that soul, which has died there or thereabouts, proclaims one thing or another through the medium. Certainly, they brought out many things. But in the vast majority of cases there was a colossal error at the bottom of it. It was that when we imagine the medium as Man I here (see drawing), we have to imagine the experimenter or hypnotist, that is, the one who arranged everything, as Man II.

Drawing from GA 162, p. 233
Drawing from GA 162, p. 233

Now in every human being, when he lives here, there is already in him that which is all his dead. But it rumbles below; during the waking life of the day it rumbles below in the sensual sensations. The dead human being rumbles below in the sensual sensations. Now imagine: the medium is there, the experimenter is also there. The experimenter actually transfers that which pulsates in his sensual feelings and often lower instincts - and which will then come to light when he himself will one day be dead - to the medium or to that which otherwise manifests itself in the events. Truths may be contained in them; but one must understand the whole context of what comes to light; one must not listen to the medium when he declares that what comes, what is revealed to him, are messages from the departed.

The people who did not immediately resist spiritualism said to themselves: we will see what it is. - They actually wanted to know the effect of the living on the medium, of what lives in the living, what lives in the embodied human being, that is what they wanted to promote. The mediums have completely misunderstood this, have always believed that they are in contact with the dead. So we see how mediumship creates a connection with the other world, but a deceptive connection. Lucifer is not removed from the path of normality to mediumship, but he is drawn into it even more, the deception becomes even greater. That which is within is not detached and distributed out into the cosmic, but that which is within darkens up into the imaginary world and becomes an imaginative world. That which is thus within the human being can come from the human being himself or rise up in the human being from the influence of another human being.“ (Lit.:GA 162, p. 232ff)


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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  1. cf. Julius, p. 53ff.