Egyptian-Chaldean culture

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Rudolf Steiner: The Egyptian Man, pastel 1914

The Egyptian-Chaldean culture (2907 - 747 BC), more extensively the Assyrian-Babylonian-Chaldean-Egyptian-Jewish culture, the Taurus Age, was the third post-Atlantean cultural epoch and served above all to train the sentient soul; it can therefore also be called the sentient soul culture. During this period, the first advanced civilisations flourished, such as the ancient Egyptian culture on the Nile, the Mesopotamian empires in the Fertile Crescent between the Euphrates and Tigris, the Chinese culture on the Yellow River, the Oasis culture on the Oxus in Central Asia and the Harappa culture on the Indus. From around 3000 BC, the Mayan culture flourished in Central America. The vernal equinox was then in the sign of Taurus.


Shortly before the beginning of the Egyptian-Chaldean period, according to Rudolf Steiner in 3101 BC[1], the Kali Yuga (Sanskritn., कलियुग "age of Kali") began, the dark age with which the last remnants of the old nature-given clairvoyance at the end of the ancient Persian period (5067 - 2907 B.C.) abruptly ceased for by far the greatest part of humanity. In order not to lose the connection with the spiritual world, a rich, multifaceted mystery system, appropriate to the various peoples, now unfolded.

The Northern Chaldean Mysteries and the Southern Egyptian Mysteries

„There we have a strange phenomenon in this Chaldean-Egyptian time. It is not for nothing that we call it by two names. For on the one hand, during this cultural epoch over in Asia, we have members of the northern current of peoples, that is the Chaldean element; and the Egyptian element belongs to the other current, the current of peoples that has moved along the southern path. There we have an epoch where two currents of peoples collide. And if you remember that the northern current preferably developed the outward gaze, the search for those beings who stood behind the carpet of the world of the senses, and that the Egyptian people sought those spirits which one finds on the way inwards, then you will understand how here two currents worked together. So the way out for the Chaldeans and the way in for the Egyptians collide. The Greeks also felt this in a quite correct way when they compared the Chaldean gods with their Apollonian kingdom. They sought in their own way in their Apollonian mysteries what they had received from the Chaldeans. But when they spoke of Osiris and of that which belonged to it, then they sought it in a corresponding way with themselves in their Dionysian mysteries.“ (Lit.:GA 113, p. 166f)

„Zarathustra did not see the physical sun first at all, but Zarathustra saw a great all-embracing world spirit at the place where we see the physical sun today through ordinary consciousness. And this world spirit exercised its influence on Zarathustra in a spiritual way. And Zarathustra knew how, with the radiance of the sun, with the rays of the sun on the earth, the divine-spiritual rays of grace come, which kindle in the soul, in the spirit of man, the higher man, to whom the ordinary man should rise. And since in those ancient times the initiates were not called by external names, but by those names which came to them through what they knew, this great initiate was called by his disciples and so he called himself: Zarathustra, Zoroaster, the shining star [...]

And then came a later time when one could no longer penetrate so deeply into the mysteries of the world. It was the time that I called the Chaldean-Egyptian culture of humanity in my "Secret Science". There, too, people looked up to the sun, but they no longer saw the sun as radiant, they saw what was merely luminous, merely shining. And Ra, whose earthly representative was Osiris, appeared as the sun actually moving around the earth and shining. Thus certain secrets had been lost in that one could no longer see the radiant world-god in complete inner clarity as an initiate of the old time, but that one could now only see that which comes from the sun more out of elemental forces, out of astral forces. Zarathustra still saw a being in the sun; at that time he could still see a being in the sun. The Egyptian, the Chaldean initiates, they saw in the sun only the forces that came from the sun to the earth as forces of light, as forces of movement. They saw only something lower than a spiritual being: they saw spiritual deeds, but not a spiritual being. And as the one who represents on earth what one carries in oneself as a human being from the forces of the sun, these old Egyptian initiates called Osiris.“ (Lit.:GA 211, p. 180f)

„In Chaldea, people lived more in an outward visuality. They invented tools like their wonderful water clocks, which came from the imagery of their soul. They lived so strongly in imagery that they saw time in changing images. There, imagery was more an external element in which man lived. With the Egyptians, imagery was something that was grasped in the innermost part of the human being, something that was grasped in such a way that it was even studied in his dream forms. In short, we see a period in which the human being no longer felt himself to be merely a member of the whole world, but in which the human being lifted himself out of the world, individuated himself, in two ways, the Chaldean and the Egyptian. And we see the change in the appearance of the pictorial conception of the instinctive imaginative, which confronts us in two ways: in one way over there in Chaldea, and then in another way over there in Egypt. And we see how in the beginning of the building of the pyramids, which in its measures and geometrical proportions is based on the perception of the measures in the development of man, on the development of the inner strength and on the feeling of this inner strength, we see how there arises a third cultural epoch, a cultural epoch in which instinctive imagining gives a special nuance to the development of mankind [...]

And because the human being is seized in his innermost being, because this instinctive seizure of the human being in relation to himself cannot occur in any other way than in the emotional, in the volitional, those impulses of power are generated in the human being which live themselves out in the grotesquely large pyramid buildings, which are places of the dead and which at the same time are supposed to be testimonies to the external power of those who rule. We see how the consciousness of power is emerging, but also how foreign peoples are now interfering from other regions, how they are bringing in other blood into what is living out there as imaginative, instinctive, even in the social conditions; we see how such peoples are coming more from the interior of Asia and mingling with the others. That which they bring in is connected with this feeling of being more than human, of feeling separate from the environment.

In the case of the Egyptian, this increased in a certain age in such a way that he regarded himself as a divine human being; he felt his self-awareness so strongly that he regarded all others as barbarians and only allowed those who could live in inner images to be considered human beings [...]

If we study the laws of Hammurabi [note: † 1750 B.C.], we find that he does not yet mention the horse among the tamed domestic animals. But it appeared in cultural life immediately afterwards. However, Hammurabi mentions donkeys and cattle, and a little after his time the horse is first called the "donkey of the hill country" in the documents. The horse is called the donkey of the hill country because it was brought over from the mountainous east. Peoples who pushed their way from Asia into the Chaldean region brought the horse with them, and with it the warlike element appeared. We first see this warlike element born in an older time; but we see it further developed when the horse was tamed in addition to the other animals. And this, too, is connected with the state of the soul of man at that time. We can say that man did not sit on the horse earlier and strengthen his individuality, as it were, by chaining an animal to himself in his own movement, than until he had awakened to this degree of self-consciousness, as it was expressed in the pictorial imagination of the Chaldeans, as it was inwardly expressed in the dreamlike life of the Egyptians. So intimately are the external conditions of the development of mankind connected with that which is the metamorphosis of the soul's constitution in the successive epochs, that one can say: on the one side the building of the pyramids and on the other the taming of the horse; they express, seen externally, the third cultural epoch, the Chaldaean-Egyptian, and internally this is connected with the emergence of instinctive imaginative experience.“ (Lit.:GA 325, p. 211ff)

Connection with the Nathanic Jesus who was imbued with the Christ

In Lemurian times, not the entire human being had experienced the Fall of Man and the associated fall into the depths of the earth, but a part of the divine human being, the sister soul of Adam, had been retained in the spiritual worlds and lived here as an archangel-like or angel-like spiritual being, which, however, kept close contact with earthly humanity. Only much later would this being incarnate on earth for the very first time as the Nathanian Jesus boy. The Christ, descending from the solar sphere through the spheres of Venus, Mercury and the Moon, united with this being three times before he entered the body of Jesus of Nazareth with the baptism in the Jordan.

„The third post-Atlantean period of culture, which we call the Egyptian-Chaldean period, arose in part because the souls reflected into them, because the souls inwardly still experienced the effects which had arisen through the fact that the Sun-Spirit had permeated the being who then became the Nathanian Jesus while he was making his circuit through the planets. Thus arose that science of planetary efficacies which we have before us in Chaldean astrology, of which people today have but few concepts. In the third post-Atlantean cultural period, that is, among the Egyptian-Chaldean peoples, that stellar service developed which is known externally, exoterically.“ (Lit.:GA 149, p. 53f)

The Church of Pergamon in the Apocalypse of John

In the Apocalypse of John, the epistle to the church of Pergamon refers to the Egyptian-Chaldean period.

„And in the third epoch man comes still nearer to external sensual reality. There it is no longer a mere hostile power for him to overcome. The Indian looked up at the stars and said to himself: 'Ah, all that is there, which I can see with outer eyes, is but Maja, deception.' - The Chaldean priests saw the course, the positions of the stars and said to themselves: "By seeing the positions of the stars and following their course, this becomes a script from which I recognise the will of the divine-spiritual beings. I recognise what the gods want in what they have done. - No longer was Maja the physical-sensuous world to them, but as the writing of man is the expression of his will, so that which is in the stars in the heavens, that which lives in the forces of nature, was a scripture of the gods to them. And with love they began to decipher the writing of nature. This is how that wonderful astrology came into being, which people today hardly know any more. For what is known today as astrology has come about through a misunderstanding of the facts. Deep wisdom in star writing is what was revealed to the ancient Chaldean priest as astrology, as the secrets of what he saw with his eyes. This he regarded as the revelation of an inner, spiritual being.

And what did the earth become for the Egyptian? We need only point to the invention of geometry, where man learned to divide the earth according to the laws of space, according to the rules of geometry. There the laws were explored in the Maja. In the ancient Persian culture, the earth was ploughed up, and now it was learned to be divided according to the laws of space. They begin to explore the laws and do even more. People say to themselves: "Not for nothing have the gods left us a script in the stars, not for nothing have the gods made their will known to us in the laws of nature. If man wants to bring about salvation through his own work, then he must create in the institutions he makes here a replica of what he can explore from the stars. - Oh, could you look back into the working chambers of the Egyptian initiates! That was a different kind of work than today in the field of science. There the initiates were the scientists. They studied the course of the stars and recognised the regularity in the position and course of the stars and in the influence of their positions on what was happening below on earth. They said to themselves: If this or that constellation is in the sky, then this or that must happen below in the life of the state, and if another constellation comes, something else must also happen. After a century certain constellations will be there, they said, and then something corresponding to them must take place. - And for millennia to come, what was to be done was predetermined. This is how what is called the Sibylline Books came into being. What is written in them is not a delusion. After careful observation, the initiates wrote down what had to be done for millennia to come, and their successors knew: This is to be observed. And they did nothing that was not marked out in these books for the millennia to come according to the course of the stars. Let's say it was a question of making some kind of law. They didn't vote like we do, they consulted the holy books, in which it was written what had to happen here on earth, so that it would be a mirror of what was written in the stars, and what was written in the books was carried out. The Egyptian priest knew when he wrote these books: My followers will carry out what is written in them. - Of the necessity of the lawfulness they were convinced.“ (Lit.:GA 104, p. 71ff)

The Egyptian-Chaldean culture as a conscious repetition of the Lemurian period

„In the post-Atlantean development, the peoples who belonged primarily to that state of human development which we call the Egyptian-Chaldean culture, have the task of repeating what happened for humanity in the old Lemurian time, but to permeate it with consciousness. Quite unconsciously man learns to be an upright being in the Lemurian time, he learns to be a speaking being in the Atlantean time. Quite unconsciously, because his thinking power had not yet awakened in that time, he absorbs the Christ impulse. Slowly, in the post-Atlantean time, he was to be led to understand what he had unconsciously absorbed in prehistoric times. What made him look upright into cosmic heights was the Christ impulse. He experienced this unconsciously, as he had to experience it in Lemurian times. Then, not yet fully consciously, but nevertheless as if in preparation for full consciousness, the peoples of Egypt were to be led to worship that which lives in the uprightness of man. The initiates who had to influence Egyptian culture saw to it that they learned to revere it by having the people erect the pyramids which project from the earth into the cosmos. Now we still have to admire how this raising power was expressed through the influence of the cosmic forces in the whole form and position of the construction of the pyramids. The obelisks were to be erected so that man might begin to penetrate that which is uprightness. The wonderful hieroglyphs in the pyramids and on the obelisks, which were supposed to point to the Christ, awakened the supernatural powers from Lemurian times. But even to such a dark understanding as the Egyptians could come concerning the power of erection, they could not come concerning the power of speech. First their minds had to receive the right training for feeling, so that in later times they would be able to understand the riddle of how the Christ lives in man's gift of words. This should be received with the holiest awe in the maturing human soul. The Hierophants, the initiates of Egyptian culture, ensured this in a wonderful way by presenting the enigmatic Sphinx with its mute, bronze figure, which at most sounded for the human elevation at that time under the influence of the cosmos. In the sight of the mute Sphinx, which only sounds from the cosmos under certain conditions and in certain relations through the rising sun, the sacred awe of the soul was formed, through which the soul was prepared to understand the language which had to be spoken at the time when the Christ Impulse was to be brought to a higher consciousness and gradually enter into the earthly evolution of mankind. What the sphinxes could not yet say, but what they were preparing to say, was to be said to humanity. In the formation of the Word Movement lies the Christ Impulse. This was told to humanity in the words:

In the beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God,
And a God was the Word.
This was in the beginning with God.
There it was where everything came into being,
And nothing came into being
Except through the Word.
In the Word was life,
And life was
The light of men.

“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 110f)

See also


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.


  1. According to H. P. Blavatsky and also according to Hindu tradition, the dark age began already on 18 February 3102 BC with the death of Krishna.