The Easter Imagination given by Rudolf Steiner describes how the image of the Christ, who stands between the adversary powers Lucifer and Ahriman and keeps both in balance, forms out of the earthly-cosmic events.
Limestone and Ahriman
Limestone undergoes significant metamorphoses in the course of the year, if one pays attention to its soul-spiritual qualities. The spring lime is quite different from the winter lime. The winter lime in its entirety is, as it were, a thoroughly satisfied being. In winter, the spiritual of the Earth, the manifold elemental beings, have completely returned to the bosom of the Earth. The salts of the Earth - and especially the limestone - are completely spiritualised. This means a deep satisfaction for the lime. In a way, it is as satisfied as a human head that has struggled for a long time to find a solution to a difficult problem and now carries the solution within itself in the form of crystal-clear thoughts.
As spring approaches, the elementary beings are gradually released from the depths of the Earth, the spiritual-soul of the Earth is breathed out again. As a result, however, the limestone becomes dull in relation to its spiritual qualities. But it now develops a lively inner vitality and above all it now becomes desirous, and all the more so the more the plants sprout out of the earth. The plants extract some of the water and some of the carbonic acid from the lime, and the lime is deprived of this, but it thereby becomes more and more inwardly alive. This process continues well into the summer.
Because the lime becomes more and more alive inwardly, it exerts a tremendous attraction on the ahrimanic beings. They themselves are predominantly ethereal in nature, but cold and soulless. Every year at this time the hope of the ahrimanic beings awakens that they can draw down astral matter, which they themselves lack, from the cosmos in order to animate the living lime with it. They want to penetrate the earth, in so far as lime is active in it, with the soul in such a way that it would feel pain at every step, indeed at every slight touch. This would give the ahrimanic beings a tremendous sense of well-being. In tremendous imaginings these ahrimanic hopes chase over the earth in spring. But they are only illusions that the ahrimanic entities make for themselves; their hopes are regularly destroyed again every year. Ahriman does not have direct access to nature.
Man, however, does not remain unharmed by these Ahrimanic illusions. By enjoying the food that thrives in this atmosphere of hopes and illusions, he also becomes drenched with these ahrimanic forces. And if these already cannot pull down the astral of the cosmos, they now reach all the more for the soul of man and try to assimilate it into the Earth. Little by little the Earth would absorb the human being. From the Earth would gradually emerge a great unified Earth Beingness in which, as it were, all human beings would be dissolved. On the way there, the human organism would be more and more permeated by the living lime. An ever more sclerotic human form with bat-like wings and a completely ossified head would emerge, as Rudolf Steiner has indicated in the lower part of the statue of the representative of humanity. This figure would finally dissolve completely in the earthly, become entirely a component of the earthly-ahrimanic being.
Carbonic acid and Lucifer
When, in spring, the elemental beings rise from the Earth into those regions where the Earth's vapours, the air and the warmth work, and unite there with the cloud formations, moving on paths which correspond to the planetary rhythms, they enter the realm of the Luciferic powers. These are quite different in nature from the ahrimanic beings, but in them too certain hopes and illusions awaken at the time of spring. The ahrimanic beings are ethereal in nature and lack the spiritual. The Luciferic spirits, on the other hand, are astral beings who lack the ethereal but have a tremendous longing to condense into the ethereal state. Especially in springtime, the hope awakens in them that they might succeed. Carbonic acid plays an essential role in this.
The plants that begin to sprout from the Earth in spring build themselves up by assimilating carbonic acid. With the help of carbonic acid assimilation, the plant basically feeds directly on sunlight through photosynthesis. While in plants carbonic acid is at the very beginning of their life activity, in animals and humans it is the end product of metabolism and thus an expression of a radical process of decomposition or death. What is life-enhancing for the plant has a lethal effect on humans in higher doses. However, these death processes are necessary to transform the merely vegetative life of the plant into the conscious life of the human being. In fact, the carbon dioxide dissolved in the blood and transported to the brain plays an essential role in the formation of human consciousness. If the carbon dioxide is exhaled too much through hyperventilation, dizzy spells occur; consciousness] becomes clouded. Cramps may even occur, which is a sign that the astral body cannot intervene sufficiently in the organism due to the lack of carbon dioxide.
The carbonic acid is very strongly attracted by the Luciferic beings. They want, as it were, to lift the carbonic acid upwards away from the earth, they want to bring about a kind of carbonic acid evaporation. If they succeeded to a greater extent, all breathing on earth would have to stop, all breathing beings would have to suffocate. Then the physical of man would also have to fall away and his etheric could draw up the Luciferic powers and thereby become etheric beings themselves. They want to create an etheric sphere of the Earth which they themselves can inhabit.
If the Luciferic beings could achieve their goal, an etheric form would come into being which would not have the lower parts of the human body. The body, imaginatively seen, would be as if created from bluish-violet earth vapour, but only developed up to the chest. The head of this strange figure is idealistically exaggerated, and out of the clouds, in yellowish-reddish hues, something like far-reaching wings are formed, which condense from the side into organs of hearing and press together towards the front to form a mighty larynx. These wings in their wave-like formations sense everything that weaves and works mysteriously in the universe. And what the wings thus sense is grasped by the ear formations and condensed by the mighty larynx into the creative, creative word in which the secrets of the universe are expressed. To a certain extent, the hopes of the Luciferic entities have indeed been fulfilled in the past - and this has also had essential, thoroughly positive consequences for man. By infusing man's main activity with the carbonic forces, they awakened man's consciousness and thus created the basis for human freedom.
„Just as below the ahrimanic beings get their hopes and go through their illusions, so above the luciferic beings go through their hopes and their illusions.
If we look more closely at the nature of the ahrimanic beings, it is actually ethereal. And the ahrimanic beings, who are actually the beings overthrown by Michael, lack the possibility of developing in such a way that they could gain dominion over the Earth in another way than through the lime that has become alive and desirable.
The Luciferic beings up there flow through and enforce that which has been drawn up there and is now stirring in the upper elements of the Earth. They are actually of a purely astral nature, these luciferic beings. They now hope, through all that begins to rise in the spring, to be able to intersperse their astral nature with etheric nature and to produce an etheric envelope of the Earth, which could then be inhabited by themselves. We may therefore say: the ahrimanic beings strive to animate the Earth astrally (Plate III, reddish); the luciferic entities strive to receive the etheric into their being from above (blue with yellow).“ (Lit.:GA 229, p. 45)
Freedom unfolds first in thinking. The forces of thought are a metamorphosis of the reproductive forces. The freedom of thought was prepared in the early days of human development by the liberation of the reproductive forces from the close ties to the course of the year, as is still very much the case in the animal kingdom. In ancient times, it was also the case with humans that fertilisation could only take place in the springtime and births then fell during the Christmas season. We were freed from this seasonal bond by the Luciferic beings. We owe the possibility of freedom to them.
Christ between Lucifer and Ahriman
Every year at Easter time, the Mystery of Golgotha, the death and resurrection of the Christ, is renewed in a certain way. And so, in the Easter imagination, the Christ appears in his resurrection form, suspended above by the Luciferic powers, below founded on the Ahrimanic powers, not fighting both, but bringing them into the right balance. In the formation of the head of Christ the victory over the ahrimanic powers becomes clear and the face of Christ, the whole physiognomy, appears with such a look, with such a mimic, which is wrested from the evanescent powers of Lucifer. Standing firmly on the earthly, in which Ahriman works, the dissolving Luciferian force, which wants to volatilise the physical into the ethereal, is at the same time brought into the earthly in a healthy way.
„With this you see at the same time how justified it was to form the image of Christ in the way it was formed here with us, for it was born out of the cosmic development in the course of the year. There is nothing arbitrary about it. Every look, every configuration of the face, every fold in the garment must be thought of in such a way that the image of Christ is placed between the image of Lucifer and the image of Ahriman as that which is to work in man in his development on Earth in such a way that man is snatched away precisely at the time when he is most liable to fall prey to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers, at Easter, in the time of Spring, precisely to these Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers.
Again, it is precisely in this image of Christ that we see: Nothing can be made arbitrary in the sense in which one loves it artistically today. It is precisely when man wants to develop his complete freedom in art that he does not chain himself slavishly to material and model, but rises freely to spiritual heights and creates freely from the spiritual heights what can be created freely, because freedom can reign in spiritual heights. Then it will be that out of a bluish-violet haze he will create that which is a kind of breast-form of the Luciferic, that he will create that which is the wing-form and the larynx-form and the ear-form, emerging reddishly as from cloud-forms, so that the wing-throat-ear-form, formed as if out of clouds, can at the same time appear in its full reality as a picturesque image of what these beings are astrally outside, what they threaten to become ethereally (see on this and on the following: Plate IV).
For imagine these wings of Lucifer working in the astral and striving towards the ethereal, then you will find that, because they are groping, these wings, by groping about in the reaches of the world, by working about in the reaches of the world, feel all the secrets of power in the universe. In the Luciferic there is a wandering about, a moving about in waves, so that these wings, in their wave-like formations, feel everything that is present in the mysterious-spiritual, spiritual wave-effects in the universe. And what is felt in these waves passes through the formation of the ears into the interior of the Lucifer being and continues there. The Lucifer being grasps through the ear-formations what it feels through the wings, and through the larynx connected with it, that becomes the creating word, which lives in the forms of the living west.
If, then, you look at such a Luciferic being with its yellowish-red wing-ear-throat formations, you see in it that which is working in the universe as feeling the secrets of the universe through the wings, experiencing these secrets of the universe through the ear-formations which continue to work after them, expressing in the creative word these secrets of the universe in this larynx connected with wing and ear as an organic whole.“ (Lit.:GA 229, p. 51f)
The motif of the Easter Imagination was artistically expressed by Rudolf Steiner in the wooden sculpture of the Representative of Humanity and in the dome painting of the first Goetheanum. In Rudolf Steiner's opinion, this should be accompanied by a mystery play with the human being and Raphael with the staff of Mercury as the main characters: The human being, instructed by Raphael, in how far the ahrimanic and luciferic forces make the human being ill, and in how far one can be guided by Raphael's power to see through, to recognise the healing principle, the great world therapy, which lives in the Christ principle. (Lit.:GA 229, p. 53)
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Miterleben des Jahreslaufes in vier kosmischen Imaginationen, GA 229 (1984), Dritter Vortrag, Dornach, 7. Oktober 1923 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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