Holy Spirit

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El Greco: Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 1604-1614, Museo del Prado, Madrid
The dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Peter's Basilica, Cathedra Petri, Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

The Holy Spirit (GreekἍγιον Πνεῦμα Hagion Pneuma), often also called Paraclete or Spirit of God in the Christian view, is one of the three persons or hypostases of God (see → Trinity). Symbolically, he is represented by a dove, water or by flames and is mentioned almost 100 times in the Greek New Testament. In the Hebrew Tanakh, the Holy Spirit is called Ruach HaQodesh (רוח הקודש), literally "Holy Breath", Ruach YHWH (יהוה‏ רוח) "Breath of the Lord", Ruach Elohim (אלהים רוח) "God's Breath" or also briefly as Ruchaká - "your breath".

Spiritual background

In Christian esotericism, the astral plane is regarded as the world of the Holy Spirit (Lit.:GA 100, p. 205).

According to John Scotus Eriugena, the source of the four streams of paradise corresponds to the Holy Spirit and the latter itself to the four cardinal virtues.

„In typical contemplation, the source of Paradise, which is divided into four main streams, also signifies the Holy Spirit, as no wise man denies. From this one and inexhaustible principal source flow the four principal powers in the paradise of the rational soul: discernment, temperance, fortitude, and justice, and from these streams in turn flow as rivulets all the virtues to show themselves on the soil of human nature, which is watered and fertilised by them.“

John Scotus Eriugena: On the Classification of Nature, p. 231[1]

According to the Acts of the Apostles, at Pentecost, 10 days after the Ascension of Christ, the Holy Spirit, as the Comforter (Paraclete) promised by Christ, is poured out on the disciples in the form of fiery tongues.

In a microcosmic sense, the part of the human astral body that has already been transformed into Manas (spirit self) is also called the Holy Spirit (Lit.:GA 96, p. 250ff). When man becomes creatively active in the soul, he is creating out of the Holy Spirit (Lit.:GA 107, p. 312ff). He then accomplishes a creation out of nothing, through which he creates a completely new soulic and thereby enriches the astral world with a new dimension of the human.

Before the humans in the Lemurian time had descended to their first earthly embodiment, the communal self-consciousness of the humans lived in the Holy Spirit:

„The Holy Spirit is the one who had the self-consciousness above, before (the beginning of) the embodiment, and the Spirit in itself is the one who had the I-consciousness in man. So that if you were to throw all the consciousnesses together, and thus also to separate them from egoism, you would get the Holy Spirit again.“ (Lit.:GA 96, p. 230ff)

The physical human form, which at that time was only "hovered around" externally by the human group soul, had a bird-like form. From this derives the symbol of the dove for the Holy Spirit (Lit.:GA 100, p. 249).

When man recognises the Christ from the full freedom made possible by Lucifer, then he fills himself with the Holy Spirit and then he not only contributes to his own redemption, but thereby also redeems the Luciferic beings. Then Lucifer will rise in a new, transformed form and join the Christ in us as the Holy Spirit:

„When man recognises the Christ, when he really engages in wisdom in order to see through what the Christ is, then he redeems himself and the Luciferic beings through the knowledge of the Christ. If man were merely to say to himself: I am satisfied that the Christ was there, I let myself be redeemed unconsciously - then man would never contribute anything to the redemption of the Luciferic beings. These Luciferic beings, who have brought freedom to man, also give him the opportunity to use this freedom now in a free way to see through the Christ. Then, in the fire of Christianity, the Luciferic spirits will be purified and cleansed, and what has been sinned against the Earth by the Luciferic spirits will be transformed from a sin into a benefit. Freedom has been won, but it will be taken into the spiritual sphere as a benefit. That man can do this, that he is able to recognise the Christ, that Lucifer rises in a new form and can unite with the Christ as the Holy Spirit, that is what the Christ Himself said as a prophecy to those around Him when He said: "You can be enlightened with the new spirit, with the Holy Spirit! - This Holy Spirit is none other than the one through whom it is also understood what the Christ actually did. Christ did not merely want to work, he also wanted to be understood. Therefore it belongs to Christianity that the Spirit who inspires men, the Holy Spirit, is sent to men.“ (Lit.:GA 107, p. 254)

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church the following seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are mentioned, which as permanent endowments make man inclined to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit:

„The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, godliness and fear of the Lord. In all their fullness they are due to Christ, the Son of David [Cf. Isa 11:1–2]. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful ready to obey willingly the divine promptings.“

Catechism of the Catholic Church: n. 1831

The Holy Spirit, as the healing, wholesome Spirit, has healing, wholesome power which is transmitted to all that partakes of Him. The Holy Spirit gives the gift of healing, He works in the gift of healing:

„Then we come up to what is conscious, what has any degree of sensation, of consciousness, all that is animal and what is animal in man. That can already be grasped with thoughts. Everybody has that in him. What goes on in the animal goes on first in itself: the abstract consciousness. All consciousness in the world also lives in man, in abstract thinking. In himself, man calls it "spirit"; in so far as it works outside in creative nature, he calls it "Holy Spirit". This is what underlies all feeling and consciousness. Sickness exists only in being separate. The spirit cannot be sick in itself, but only when it is incarnated in the lower bodies. The word "holy" means "to be whole"; it expresses that the spirit that floods the world outside is healthy. The Holy Spirit is nothing other than the thoroughly healthy spirit; hence he who truly unites with the Holy Spirit receives the power of healing. It must have to do with the Holy Spirit flooding the world. This is the Spirit who works from man to man as a real healer.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 132)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
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
steinerbooks.org - 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. Johannes Scotus Erigena, Ludwig Noack (Übers.): Über die Eintheilung der Natur, Verlag von L. Heimann, Berlin 1870, Erste Abtheilung, S. 223f [1]