Primordial Angels

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The Primordial Angels or Archai (from Greekἀρχή arché "beginning", "principle", "origin"), also called Primordial Forces, Primordial Beginnings, Principalities (Latin: principates) or Spirits of Personality, have already completed their humanity stage on Old Saturn. Thus they stand three levels above man in the ranking of spiritual hierarchies. They act through the sphere of Venus. In Gnosis they are called Aeons and as Spirits of Rotation of Time they regulate all rhythmically ordered natural processes. In their totality they form the astral body of the Earth. As Spirits of Time (GermanZeitgeister) they work in association with the conscious development of mankind.

Spirits of light and spirits of darkness

In Genesis, the regularly evolved primal angels are called Jom (Hebrewיום "day"), who, as servants of the Elohim (givers of form ), weave in the light and can therefore be conceived as Spirits of Light.

They are joined by the Spirits of Darkness or Spirits of Night, termed Laj'lah (Hebrewלילה "night"), as necessary companions. These are primal angels a little slow in their development, since they have retained certain characteristics from their Old Saturnian existence, which unfolded with no light and the whole world immersed in darkness. The primary tasks of the Laj'lah are observed working during sleep at night. Then vital forces of maintenance, on the physical and etheric planes of the body are active and are busy repairing the damage often inflicted by our everyday consciousness.

As Asuras (Sanskritm., असुर asura ""demon, evil spirit"), however, the spirits of darkness can assume a role as worst adversaries to humanity. In Hinduism, they are considered demons and "opponents to the gods," the devas or suras, and children of the night goddess Diti. They are the actual Spirits of Egoism, of selfishness, and do their work in the unconscious part of the soul, which takes shape through the unconscious transformation of the physical body, and at the same time they attack the human self. (Lit.:GA 107, p. 248)

„If we want to understand the position of the spiritual evolutionary principle, we must note a significant occurrence at the time of the Atlantean root race (original beginnings) . Those who in the beginning were [wise] spiritual beings, suddenly appeared as the permanently outraged, the rebels who now wanted to win their own independence. Suras (light beings) now became 'a-suras' (dark beings) ; until that time they were latent on earth. They are those powers which in our current epoch often appear representing the intellectual and spiritual side of humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 89, p. 125)


The essential Aeons, often spoken of in Gnosticism, belong to the hierarchy of the Primordial Angels.

„I would first like to direct your attention to an old teaching, which is present in the sense of the Gnostics. There they spoke of powers which participate in the development of our existence, as they successively intervene in the development of our existence. These entities and powers are called Aeons. One refers to the Aeons in the sense of the Gnostics. With these Aeons we do not mean periods of time, but (living) entities. 'Successively' means that after a first Aeon has worked and accomplished its tasks, a second one takes over with its powers, who in turn is replaced by a third one and so on. When the Gnostics spoke of Aeons they meant such successive, mutually replacing entities, which guide the development. The purely abstracting concept of time appeared only very late which we find connected with the word Aeon today, cut off from its original meaning. Aeon denotes entities beingness, living beingness. And in the same sense of living beingness, namely Aeon, we find that what is called 'jom' in Hebrew. That is why one is not merely dealing with an abstract time determination, but with a living being. Jom is an entity. And if one has to do with seven successive 'joms' known as jamim, then one has to do with seven mutually superseding entities or, in my understanding, groups of entities.“ (Lit.:GA 122, p. 90f)

Spirits of Rotation of Time

Main article: Spirits of Rotation of Time

The Spirits of Rotation of Time (orbital periods), belonging to the hierarchy of the Primordial Angels, direct the elemental beings and all rhythmically ordered natural processes. They govern the alternation of day and night, the change of seasons, and all those rhythmic processes by which a very specific typical life span is assigned to individual animal species. In a nutshell, all that we denote as "natural law" is an effect of the spirits of the cycles of time, whilst the forces of nature represent the external expressions of the activity of the elemental beings.

Spirits of Time and cultural epochs (Zeitgeister)

Main article: Spirits of Time

As spirits ruling over the, the Archai guide and govern the development of humanity by taking over the spiritual leadership of the individual cultural epochs. As such they regulate the relationships of the various culture-bearing peoples of the world and their folk spirits in relation to each other. The duration of the individual culture epochs is determined by cosmic conditions/cycles and corresponds in each case to 1/12 of the Platonic world year (= 2160 years). Our present post-Atlantean era is divided into seven such. At present we pass through the 5th post-Atlantean epochs of cultural development.

The Archai as carriers of cosmic intelligence

Main article: Cosmic intelligence

Until about the 4th century CE, the Exusiai, the Spirits of Form referred to in Genesis as the Elohim, were the bearers of cosmic intelligence. Then this task passed to the Archai, the Spirits of Personality. This process of handing over began in pre-Christian times and was not completed until the 14th century. As a result, man's access to the world of thoughts also became different. In former times, similar to perceptions with ones five senses, one even received the thoughts from the outside. Ever since they appeared more and more from the inside increasingly causing a development of an individual personality (Lit.:GA 222, p. 46ff). This vital process can be Inhibited by the influence of backward spirits of form (Lit.:GA 222, p. 60ff), yet at the same time by the increasing spread and takeover of the machine world guided by the ahrimanic spirits of darkness (Lit.:GA 186, p. 274ff).

The Archai as Impulsators of Modern Anthroposophical Spiritual Science

As the new bearers of cosmic intelligence, the Archai very rapidly ascended to play their role in the hierarchy of the spirits of form. This is a significant transition, for they thereby rose from the third to the second Hierarchy at the same time have assumed the role of creative entities. As such they are the Impulse donors of spiritual science, which in our days appeared as a new revelation of the spiritual world.

„You remember, as I have stated in these days, that among the most important, the most essential in the knowledge of the present time, is that humanity is, as it were, facing a new revelation. It is that revelation which is to take place, and in a certain respect is already happening, through the Spirits of Personality, which, if one wants to express it in this way, rise to assume the dignified role of creators. So far we have only been able to address as creators and spirits of form the spirits which in the Bible are called the Elohim that guide the course of mankind in world development. Something creative will therefore emerge, something which man will notice in observing the outer world.“ (Lit.:GA 187, p. 164f)

„If we take into account all that we observe from a viewpoint of spiritual science, we can precisely call the spirits of form 'creative spirits'. To them man owes his entire existence, as he is as a man on earth. Until our age, however, the spirits of personality were not creative spirits. They were spirits who ordered various affairs from the spiritual realm. You can read about the activity of these spirits of personality in my work "Secret Science". But now the time is beginning when they will really have to intervene in the creative aspect of the development of mankind. Later they will also have to intervene in the creative work of the other realms. Development is happening in the Hierarchy too. The spirits of personality rise to express creative activity. This points to a very important secret in the development of mankind. Whosoever does not seek to comprehend the development of mankind, as is common today, with a purely superficial view of comprehending nature, but looks at it inwardly with our inherent spiritual-scientific impulses, knows that since the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean period, which is now often discussed from different points of view, something has begun to die in man. With this dying, I would like to say, with this something in our nature becoming atrophied basically our entire progress in the soul and spirit are connected.

To put it bluntly, we are no longer the living human beings in the same sense, as people were centuries or even millennia ago. They were imbued with a stronger vitality, a stronger power that emanated from the mere physical. Man knows dying only when it occurs in the radical sense of the cessation of life on earth. However, you know from the considerations of the spiritual-scientific that something dies in us continuously. And if something did not die continuously, we would have no consciousness. Consciousness is connected precisely with the dying of something in us. But this dying, this process of dying, is stronger now than it was, for example, in the first Christian century or even in the pre-Christian centuries. That which originated in man from the creative spirits as spirits of form is, if I may say so, beginning to die strongly, and new creative things must be added to human nature, creative things which must first proceed from the spiritual. It is indeed the case that, from our age on, creative forces flow from the spirit to the human being who does not resist it. Spiritual science seeks to understand these creative forces. It seeks to grasp by thinking, by looking, that which penetrates from worlds which have hitherto not allowed their impulses to flow into the evolution of mankind. It is that which enters into the evolution of time as new spiritual qualities. And that actually is what spiritual science means in a truly modern sense. So it does not appear like any other program, scientific or otherwise, but it appears, so to speak, because the heavens send new revelations to man, and because these new revelations should be understood in this way.

And what is revealed through the veil of appearances is the expression of a new creative principle which is taken care of by the spirits of personality. Connected to this is fact that precisely during our present age, which we said began with the fifteenth century (c. E), has as its characteristic feature the development of the impulses of personality. The personality wants, if I may use the trivial expression, to stand on its own two feet, and will want to evolve that more and more into the third millennium. Then other impulses will appear once the process of the completion of the personality has ended.“ (Lit.:GA 186, p. 272f)

The common primordial being that pervades all people

The effect of the Archai who have ascended to become creative beings is already revealed in the pure thinking that draws on the world of ideas common to all human beings, as Rudolf Steiner already described in his Philosophy of Freedom. There it says:

„Each person's thinking spans only part of the entire world of ideas, and to this extent individuals also differ in the actual content of their thinking. But these contents are in a self-contained whole that embraces the thought contents of all people too. The common primal being, which pervades all people, is grasped by the person in his thinking. Life filled with the content of thoughts in reality is at the same time life in God.“ (Lit.:GA 4, p. 250)

That “the common primordial essence that pervades all people” actually points to the Archai, is evident from Rudolf Steiner's answer to a related question from Walter Johannes Stein:

„I once asked Rudolf Steiner a question about this being, to which he replied “ This is a kind of group soul of humanity, that is the oldest of the Archai, who is just on the way to become spirit of form “ (Lit.: Thomas Meyer (ed.): Walter Johannes Stein - Rudolf Steiner. Documentation of a pioneering cooperation, p. 284)

== Asuras - spirits of darkness, gravity and egoism

Main article: Asuras and Laj'lah

Primordial Angels who lag behind in their development and therefore act as adversaries are referred to as Spirits of Darkness (Hebrewלילה Laj'lah “night”) or by Rudolf Steiner as Asuras, Spirits of Egoism. However, paradoxically, they are essential for human existence on Earth. In a positive sense, they work during the night to direct vital building forces that work on the physical and etheric realm of the body during sleep. They heal and repair the damage that is often caused by our day-to-day consciousness.

„Egoism is something that has two sides, one excellent and one reprehensible. If at that time on Saturn and on the following planets the being of egoism had not been implanted again and again, then man would never have become an independent being that can say "I" to oneself. Your corporeality represents the sum of the power already inoculated from Saturn, which makes you into an independent being, that separates you from all other beings. The Asuras the spirits of egoism worked to this end. Apart from small nuances of difference, there are generally two types of them,. One type has developed egoism in a noble, independent way that has ascended higher and higher in the development of the sense of freedom: it is the excellent Egoism of independence: These spirits have guided mankind through all the following planets and have become the educators of mankind to independence.

Now there are also spirits on every planet who have lagged behind in their development. They stayed stationary, they refused to evolve any further. From this you will recognize a law: "When the most excellent falls, when it commits the" great sin "of not going along with the development, then it becomes the worst. The noble sense of freedom has been turned into its opposite into its reprehensible form of spirits of temptation, they lead to reprehensible egoism. Even today they are still around us, these evil spirits of Saturn. Everything that is evil derives its power from these spirits.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 97f)

Retarded Spirits of Personality on the Old Sun created the ancestors of today's animal kingdom. Rudolf Steiner occasionally referred Satan as the adversary power belonging to this category of these dark forces inhibiting evolutionary development:

„But we have already heard that certain beings always lag behind in development. The present powers were primordial forces on the moon. But now there are primordial forces of the moon which have not yet completed their evolutionary quota on the moon. Although they had the prospect of becoming fully developed powers they have come to earth as forces that did not develop quickly enough,. The most outstanding of these primordial forces, which could actually be of the rank of powers, is the entity popularly called "Satan." He is thus of the rank of a primal force and could even be a power. Within the spirits that bring the world forward, this epochal spirit counteracts the others; it is such a force on earth as it would have better fitted on the old moon. It is therefore intimately interwoven with the forces of the old moon, He is the master of all obstacles and hindrances that oppose the advancing spirit of the epoch. You will now begin to understand why in the life of Christ Jesus, he first had to overcome Satan, the opponent of progress, precisely at the moment of greatest progress; for Christ wanted to lead human beings, mankind, a mighty step forward and had to overcome this adversary first. It represented the inhibiting and disturbing obstacle in the development, which did not want the primordial forces of our earth to advance. Christian esotericism calls these unlawful primal forces satanic powers. What is often referred to as providence presents itself very concretely in detail as a group of spiritual; entities. There are some things that man would understand better if he could again explore the connection between the sensual phenomena and these spiritual beings. Everything that appears to us in the world is an expression of spiritual beings.“ (Lit.:GA 98, p. 229f)

The Spirit of Gravity also belongs to the realm of the primeval angels and forms the spiritual cause of gravity. Its essential task is to lead our ego and astral body back into the physical body on awakening. Wrong Spirits of Gravity arouse dissatisfaction that can increase to hypochondria. (Lit.:GA 266b, p. 49ff)

First Beginnings (Ur-beginnings)

The original angels (GermanUr-engel) point back to the original beginning of creation, they are angels of the original beginning. Time is their element of life. At present they are working to manifest the highest possible and most refined form of the indwelling spirit in man . As ‘Zeitgeist’, they provide the necessary impetus for entire cultural epochs (see also -> World stages of development). As spirits of the orbital periods or cycles of time, they regulate all rhythmically ordered natural processes on earth. The Venus sphere is their cosmic domain.

It is only the physical body of the spirits of personality which appears on the plane of the physical world, while all higher members of ones being remain in the spiritual world. Our physical body is woven from the fire element. They reveal themselves to someone with a clairvoyant gaze in the guise of a lightning bolt (see below).

The sublime consciousness of the primeval angels does not reach down to the earthly planes of mineral, plant and animal world. The lowest kingdom they do reach into is the human kingdom:

„These are even more sublime beings, whose consciousness no longer even reaches down to the animals. When the initiate rises to interface with the primal forces, he does not tell them from his human consciousness what the forms of animals are on earth. Because they themselves only reach down with their consciousness to people. Then they know the kingdom of angels, the kingdom of archangels and their own kingdom; to themselves they say "I", and it is the people who ultimately perceive them. What the stone, the mineral kingdom, is for man, that man is for the primordial forces: the lowest kingdom. This already means that they guide the course of mankind from a very high plane. People feel it here and there and that there is such a thing as a kind of "spirit of the ages" which is so different depending on the different epochs. People feel that there is a "spirit of epochs." We have often spoken of the spirit of the Epochs. We have said, for example, that during the first cultural post-Atlantean times, among the ancient Indian people, the spirit of that epoch consisted in the fact that people had a longing for the ancient Atlantean times, but perceived the higher realms only dimly. This developed into the yoga system through which they wanted to reach back up into the higher worlds. Linked to this old consciousness was that people thought little of external reality, of the physical plane. Maja, illusion became the physical plane for human beings. The ancient Indian culture, so to speak, had very little interest in the physical plane. It may seem strange to you, but it is really true: if the ancient Indian culture had remained, there would never have been railroads, telephones, and such things as are on the physical plane today; for it would not have seemed so important to deal so intensely with the laws of the physical world in order to populate this physical world with everything that presents itself to us today as cultural achievements.

Then came the spirit of the Persian era. Through him man got to know a resisting element in matter which he had to work on. He allied himself with the good spirit Ormuzd against the spirit of matter, Ahriman. But the Persian had already begun being interested in the physical plan. Then came the spirit of the epoch, which on the one hand expressed itself through the Babylonian-Assyrian-Chaldean, and on the other the Egyptian culture. Human science became established. With the aid of geometry one tried to make the earth suitable for human needs. One sought to get to know the meaning of the course of the stars with astrology, astronomy, and what fate manifested on earth according to the course of the stars. In ancient Egypt, especially in social life, people very much adjusted themselves to the course of these celestial bodies. One directed oneself according to what one discovered as the secrets of the stars. When the ancient Indian tried to eavesdrop on the way to the gods by completely diverting attention from external reality, the Egyptian studied the laws that govern external reality in order to investigate how the will and the spirit of the gods found expression in the laws of external nature. That was another era. So you have a certain spirit for each epoch, and the development on earth comes about because one spirit of the epochs replaces another spirit of the epochs. That is the case in detail. People arise to embrace the views of the times, but they do not know that woven inot this whole course of unfolding action are these epochal spirits; and people do not know that they are here on earth in order to express the spirit of their epoch, so to speak. They act only as the tools of these spirits of the epochs who are standing behind them. Just think of Giordano Bruno.

Had Giordano Bruno been born in the 8th century, for instance, he would not have become what he became later in the age in which the epochal spirit reigned, of which he then became the expression. He was the tool of the zeitgeist, and it is the same with other spirits. Considering for a minute another opposite possibility: if Giordano Bruno had been born in the 8th century, the epochal spirit could not possibly have grasped such an expression as it found in Giordano Bruno later on. In these things we see how people are the tools of respective epochal spirits, who are then become guiding beings of the great epochs and also of the "spirits of opinions and views" of the lesser epochs. These are the primal forces. that reach down to us humans. They do not direct something that brings man together with other realms of nature; for their consciousness no longer extends to the animal kingdom. The order according to which people prepare their lives from the zeitgeist, found states, discover and develop sciences, cultivate their fields - everything that comes from humans - this course of culture from beginning to end is under the direction of the primal forces . They guide people insofar as people have to do with the people themselves.“ (Lit.:GA 102, p. 145ff)

At the beginning of the earthly development of mankind, especially during the Lemurian period, individual spirits of a higher personality could still enter into human bodies and a such became teachers of the mankind in its infancy.

The essential members of the primeval angels

The essential members of the Archai

The Primordial Angels basically have the same seven essential members than humans, but they differ in type and arrangement to those of humans. The primeval angels weave their physical body only out of the fire element, and it is this fiery physical body that can be found on the physical plane; all higher elements/aspects of human beings, i.e. the etheric and astral body, the I, the spirit self, the life spirit and spirit man as higher spiritual being have their home exclusively on the astral plane.

„And finally we come to those beings that we call Archai, primeval beginnings, primal forces, spirits of personality. Here we can only draw the physical body below, everything else is above in the spiritual world. Such a physical body that can only exist in the fire element. The physical body of the primal forces can thus only be perceived in the flames of fire. When you see the fire of lightning bolts flashing, you can always say to yourself: there is something of the body of the primal forces manifested in there. A clairvoyant view will reveal the spiritual counter-image to me, as in this case it is separate from its physical body. Precisely with these Archai, with the primeval beginnings of these spirits of personality, clairvoyant faculties will make tit relatively easy to confirm its presence. Imagine that these spirits of personality are in the realm that extends as far as astronomical Mercury, that is, as far as to include Venus in the sense of the mysteries. Let us assume that there one has extended ones perception to be able to observe what is developing up there on Mercury: there he can perceive these highly developed beings, these spirits of personality. When the clairvoyant directs his gaze up to Venus to observe the gathering of the spirits of personality up there, and then sees the lightning bolt flashing through the clouds, he sees the spirits of personality mirrored in this lightning bolt, because inside it expresses her body.“ (Lit.:GA 110, p. 114f)

The essential members of the primeval angels during their human stage on Old Saturn

As the ancient (primeval) angels of today passed through their human stage on Old Saturn, their human beings were of a completely different nature. At that time, the lowest member of their being was the ‘I’ they were just developing, their highest being the Father God. Separated from this structure of being, they had a physical body of warmth assigned to them, which they could work on and reflect on in order to develop their self-confidence. The first system for the physical body of man was created from this warm body.

„As independently as man works today, certain beings also worked on Saturn who at that time were on the human level. They could not have been shaped like man today, since heat was the only substance available on Saturn. But regarding their intelligence and their ego-consciousness, they related to today's human beings on the same level; but they could not form neither physical body, nor a brain. Let us consider them a little closer then. Today's human being consists of a four-part arrangement: The physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego, and fixed into the ‘I’ the spirit self, life spirit and spirit being (also known as - manas, buddhi, atma) . The lowest and most perfect part in this arrangement on the earth planet is the physical corporeality, followed by the next higher, the etheric body, then the astral body and the ‘I’. There are also beings now who have no physical body, whose lowest aspect of them is the etheric body. They do not need the physical body to be able to navigate and operate in our sensual world; for this they have an aspect that ranks even higher than our seventh. Other beings have the astral body as their lowest member and a ninth asepct above, and still others who have the ‘I’ as their lowest member and subsequently include a tenth aspect above. If we look at the beings that have the ‘I’ as their lowest member, we have to say that they consist of the ‘I’, spirit self, life spirit, spirit man. Then come the eighth, ninth and tenth links, what Christian esotericism calls the divine trinity: Holy Spirit, Son or Word, Father. In theosophical literature one is used to calling them the three Logoi.

These beings, the lowest aspect of which is the ‘I’, were precisely those who come into particular consideration for us regarding the evolution of Saturn. They were at the level people find themselves today. They were able to exercise their ‘I’ under completely different conditions as described by me. These were the ancestors of our humanity today, the people of Saturn. They irradiated the surface of Saturn with their ‘I’ (-ness) , their outermost being. They were the implanters of the ‘I’ (-ness) in the physical corporeality that formed on the surface of Saturn. So they made sure that the physical body was prepared in such a way that it could later become the bearer of the ‘I’. Only such a physical body as you have it today, with feet, hands and head and the integrated sense organs, could become the carrier of the ‘I’ on the fourth level, the earth. To do this, the germ had to be planted on Saturn. These ‘I’-beings of Saturn are also called the spirits of egoism.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 96f)


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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