The Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman

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Christ as Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman - Wooden sculpture by Rudolf Steiner and Edith Maryon.

The Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman is a wooden sculpture more than 8 m high designed by Rudolf Steiner and created together with the sculptor Edith Maryon for the first Goetheanum in Dornach. It was to be placed in the small domed room, the stage room of the first Goetheanum. When the Goetheanum burned down on New Year's Eve 1922/23, the sculpture had not yet been completed and was therefore spared from the fire.

The striving of the individual human being for balance

„The people of the present day have a great need to place Christ in the midst of Ahriman and Lucifer. Christ-power must permeate us. But as human beings we must always seek the balance between that which, in a certain sense, mystically and enthusiastically wants to rise above us, and that which wants to pull us down to the earth in a materialistic, rational, philistine and difficult way. And if we endeavour to seek this balance, then alone can we find the Christ.“ (Lit.:GA 195, p. 40)

„I would like to say, I explain it to almost everyone of whom I only believe that he can have some understanding, to everyone who comes before the well-known wooden group in Dornach: "Christ in the middle as representative of humanity, Ahriman and Lucifer on either side", that the human being as we have him before us can really only be imagined by imagining everything about him as a state of equilibrium. On the one side is the supersensible, on the other the sub-sensible. The human being actually always represents only the state of equilibrium between the supersensible and the sub-sensible.“ (Lit.:GA 324a, p. 152)

„Until the middle of the 15th century, the single, individual human being did not come into consideration as he has since that time. Since that time, what is most essential in the human being is the striving to be individuality, the striving to unite individual personality forces, to find, as it were, a centre in oneself [...]

Through this, however, something becomes particularly important for man in this time, which began in the middle of the 15th century and will only end towards the fourth millennium. With this, something occurs that is of very special importance for this time. For you see, something vague is expressed when one has to say: Every human being strives for his own particular individuality. The group spirit, even if it comprises only smaller groups, is something much more tangible than that which each individual strives for out of the primal source of his individuality. Hence it is that it becomes especially important for this man of the newer times to understand what may be called the balance between the opposite poles: To seek a balance between the opposite poles.

The one wants to go beyond the head, so to speak. Everything that leads man to be a dreamer, a fantasist, a maniac, that fills him with indefinite mystical impulses towards some indefinite infinite, yes, that fills him even if he is a pantheist or a theist or something like that, which is so often the case today, that is the one pole. The other pole is that of sobriety, of dryness, trivially speaking, but not unrealistically speaking in relation to the spirit of the present, truly not unrealistically speaking: the pole of philistrosity, the pole of philistinism, the pole which draws us down to earth into materialism. These two poles of force are in the human being, and between them the human being stands, it has to seek the balance. In how many ways can one seek balance? [...]

In an infinite number of ways you can seek balance. This corresponds to the infinitely many ways of being an individual human being. That is why it is so essential for the present human being to realise that his being consists in the search for balance between the opposite poles. And the indeterminacy of the search for balance is precisely that indeterminacy of which I spoke to you earlier [...]

We are mentally healthy when we find the balance between the rapturously fantastic and the dryly philistine. We are physically healthy when we can live in balance between the fever and the sclerosis, the ossification. And this can happen in an infinite number of ways, in which individuality can live.

That is the way in which man, especially in modern times, must feel the old Apollo saying "Know thyself". But "know thyself" not in some abstraction: "Know thyself in the striving for balance." That is why we have to set up in the east of the building that which can make man feel this striving for balance. And this is to be represented in the sculptural wooden group mentioned yesterday, which has as its central figure the figure of Christ, the figure of Christ, which has been attempted to be shaped in such a way that one can imagine it: This is how the Christ really walked in the man Jesus of Nazareth at the beginning of our era in Palestine. The conventional images of the bearded Christ are actually creations of the 5th and 6th centuries, and they are truly not in any way, if I may use the expression, true to the portrait. That is what has been attempted: to create a Christ who is true to the portrait, who is at the same time supposed to be the representative of the searching human being, the human being who strives for balance. (It is drawn).

The Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman; Plate 17 from GA 194, p 187
The Representative of Humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman; Plate 17 from GA 194, p 187

You will then see two figures at this group: Here the falling Lucifer, here the ascending Lucifer. Here below, in a certain sense connected with Lucifer, an Ahrimanic figure, and here a second Ahrimanic figure. The representative of humanity is placed between the ahrimanic figure: the philistine, the sober-dry-materialistic; and the luciferic figure: the rapturous, fantastic. The Ahriman figure: all that leads man to petrification, to sclerosis; the Lucifer figure: representation of all that leads man feverishly beyond the measure of that health which he can bear.“ (Lit.:GA 194, p. 183ff)

Connection with the Easter Imagination

Easter Imagination - Christ between Lucifer and Ahriman
Main article: Easter Imagination

The Easter Imagination, which Rudolf Steiner gave, describes how the image of the Christ forms out of the earthly-cosmic events, who stands between the adversary powers of Lucifer and Ahriman and keeps both in balance. In the statue of the representative of humanity between Lucifer and Ahriman, essential parts of this Easter imagination find their artistic-sculptural representation.

„In the middle of this group will stand a figure like, I would like to say, the representative of the highest humanity that could unfold on Earth. Therefore one will also be able to feel this figure of the highest human being in the development of the earth as the Christ. It will be the special task to shape this Christ figure in such a way that one will be able to see how this earthly body, in every expression, in everything about it, is spiritualised by that which has moved in from cosmic, from spiritual heights as the Christ. Through the raising of the left arm of the Christ figure, it happens that this descending entity breaks its wings. But it must not look as if the Christ were breaking the wings of this entity (Lucifer), but the whole must be artistically designed in such a way that, as the Christ raises his arm, it is already evident from the whole movement of his hand that he actually has only infinite compassion for this entity. This being, however, cannot bear what flows up through the arm and the hand; one would like to clothe its feeling in the words: I cannot bear that such purity should shine up upon me.

And on the other side the rock will be hollowed out. In this hollow is also a figure that has wings. The figure in the cave is literally clinging to the cave, you see it in chains, you see it working down there to hollow out the earth. Christ has his right hand turned downwards. Christ himself has infinite compassion for Ahriman. But Ahriman cannot bear it, he writhes in pain through that which radiates through the hand of Christ. And what radiates there causes the gold veins that are down in the rock cave to wind like cords around Ahriman's body and bind him.“ (Lit.:GA 159, p. 248ff)

Christ as the Representative of Humanity between the Adversary Powers

The group of figures in the large wooden sculpture shows Christ striding between two Lucifer figures and two Ahriman figures, which belong together in pairs. One pair of the Lucifer and Ahriman figures is active inside the human being, the other is active outside in nature or in the cosmos, as is also shown in the Easter imagination. At the top left, above the figure of Lucifer, a strongly asymmetrically shaped elemental being grows out of the rock out of inner artistic necessity, looking over the rock with a certain humour - the world humour.

„The whole building is arranged, as I said, from west to east, so that the axis of symmetry passes between the columns, from west to east, and it intersects the small cylinder, i.e. the stage space, at its boundary in the east. There, towards the east, between the sixth column on the right and the sixth column on the left, is a sculptural group. This, in turn, is supposed to artistically represent, I would like to say, the most intimate part of our spiritual-scientific world view. It is to represent what must necessarily be integrated into the human spiritual view of the present and into the future. Humanity must learn to understand that everything that is important for the shaping of the world and for human life runs into these three currents: so to speak, the normal spiritual current into which man is woven, then the Luciferic current and the Ahrimanic current. Divine evolution, Luciferic evolution and Ahrimanic evolution are woven into everything, both into the foundations of the physical and into the revelations of spiritual events. This, however, is not to be expressed symbolically, but artistically, in our pictorial group. A wooden group. An idea has arisen which I believe I have grasped as a thought, but the reason for which has not yet become clear to me even in its occult underpinnings; occult research in the future will probably reveal this. But it seems to be absolutely true that all ancient motifs can be better represented in stone or metal, and all Christian motifs - and ours is a Christian motif in the eminent sense - better in wood. I cannot help saying that I have always felt it necessary to rethink the group in St Peter's in Rome, Michelangelo's Pieta, in wood; for then, I believe, it would represent what it is supposed to represent; just as I have had to rethink other Christian groups that I found in stone in wood. There is certainly something at the bottom of this; I have not yet found the reasons. So our group had to be conceived and executed in wood.

The main figure is a kind of representative of humanity, an entity that is supposed to represent man in his divine revelation. I am satisfied if someone who looks at this figure has the sensation: it is a representation of the Christ Jesus. But even this seemed inartistic to me if I had based it on the impulse: I want to make a Christ Jesus. I wanted to depict what is there. What the person experiences then, whether it is a Christ Jesus, must first be the consequence. I would be quite happy if everyone experienced that. But that is not the artistic idea of depicting a Christ Jesus. The artistic idea rests purely in the artistic form, in the design; the other is a novellistic or programmatic idea of depicting a Christ Jesus. The artistic lives in the form, at least if it is a pictorial. - A main figure, the whole group is eight and a half metres high, stands somewhat elevated, behind it rocks, under it rocks. At the bottom of the rock, which is hollowing out a little, an Ahriman figure is growing out of it. It is inside a rock cave, half lying down, with its head up. The main figure stands on this somewhat hollowed out rock. Above the Ahriman figure and to the left of the observer is a second Ahriman growing out of the rock, so that the Ahriman figure is repeated. Above the Ahriman figure, again to the left of the observer, is a Lucifer figure. A kind of artistic connection has been created between the Lucifer and the Ahriman below. A little above, above the main figure, to the right of the viewer, there is also a Lucifer figure. Lucifer is therefore also present twice. This other Lucifer is broken in himself, falls through being broken in himself. The right hand of the central figure points downwards, the left hand upwards. This left hand pointing upwards points to the breaking point of Lucifer; there he breaks in two and falls. The right hand and the right arm of the central figure point towards the lower Ahriman and bring him to despair. The whole thing is conceived in such a way - I hope that one will be able to feel it - that this central figure is not in any way aggressive; but in the gesture I have indicated, there is only love in it. But neither Lucifer nor Ahriman can stand this love. The Christ does not fight against Ahriman, but radiates love; but Lucifer and Ahriman cannot let love come near them. Through the proximity of love, one, Ahriman, feels despair, being consumed within himself, and Lucifer falls. So in them, in Lucifer and Ahriman, lies what is expressed in their gestures.

Of course, the figures were not easy to create for the reason that one has to create spiritual things - partly spiritual in the case of the main figure, but purely spiritual in the case of Lucifer and Ahriman - and in sculpture it is most difficult to form the spiritual. However, an attempt was made to achieve what was necessary, especially for our aims: to dissolve the form, although it had to remain artistic form, entirely into gesture, entirely into mien. Man is actually only capable of using gesture and mien in a very limited sense. Lucifer and Ahriman are entirely gesture and entirely mien. Spirit forms do not have a finished form, there is no finished spirit form. If you want to shape the spirit, you are in the same position as if you wanted to shape lightning. The form a spirit has at one moment is different from the form it has at the next moment. You have to take that into account. If, however, you wanted to hold on to a spirit's form for one moment, just as you would a resting form, then you would get nothing out of it, you would only have a frozen form. So in such a case one must completely reproduce the gesture. So in the case of Lucifer and Ahriman, the gesture is completely reproduced, and this had to be attempted to some extent also for the middle figure, which is of course a physical figure: the Christ Jesus.

Now I would like to show you a few pictures which can give you a small idea of this main group, as best they can. The first is the head of Ahriman, in the form in which it first appeared to me: a human being - think of the threefold division of the human being into head, trunk and extremities - who is entirely head, who is therefore also the instrument of the most perfect cleverness, understanding and cunning. This is to be expressed in the figure of Ahriman. The head of Ahriman, as you see it here, is properly spirit, if I may use the paradoxical expression; but you know how a paradox often comes out when one characterises spiritually. He is indeed after the model, true to spirit, artistically true to nature. Ahriman had to "sit" for that to be brought about.

The next is Lucifer, as he appears from the viewer on the left side. In order to understand Lucifer, you must think in a very strange way of what appears as the spirit form of Lucifer. Think of that which is most Ahrimanic in man away from the human form, that is, the head away, but instead think of the ears and the auricles, the outer ear, considerably enlarged, naturally spiritualised and formed into wings and shaped into an organ, but the organ wrapped around its body, the laryngeal wings also enlarged; so that head, wings, ears form one organ together. And the wings, the principal organ, is that which results for the figure of Lucifer. Lucifer is an enlarged larynx, a larynx which becomes the whole form, out of which then develops, through a kind of wing, a connection to the ear, so that one has to imagine: Lucifer is such a form, which receives the music of the spheres, takes it into this ear-wing organism; and without the individuality speaking, the universe, the music of the spheres itself, again expresses itself through the same organ, which is transformed forward into the larynx, thus is another metamorphosis of the human form: larynx-ear-wing organ. Therefore the head is only indicated. With Ahriman you will find, if you will once see the figure in the Dornach building: What you can think of as a figure has been brought out. But what comes out of Lucifer as a head - although you cannot well imagine that it would be the same with yourself as with Lucifer - is something that is beautiful to the highest degree. The Ahrimanic, then, is the intelligent, clever, but ugly thing in the world; the Luciferic is the beautiful thing in the world. Everything in the world contains both the ahrimanic and the luciferic. Youth and childhood are more luciferic, old age more ahrimanic; the past is more ahrimanic, the future more luciferic in its impulses; women more luciferic, men more ahrimanic; everything contains these two currents. The elemental being above Lucifer - the "world humour".

The being above Lucifer arose as one that grows out of the rock as an elemental being. We had finished the group we had discussed, and when it was freed from its framework, something quite strange appeared: namely, that, as Miss Waller felt, the centre of gravity of the group lay - for the sake of the view, of course - too far to the right and something had to be created to balance it. This is how we were told by Karma. Now it was a question of not just putting up a lump of rock, but of pursuing the sculptural idea further. This is how this being came into being, which, as it were, grows out of the rock as an elemental being. You will notice one thing about this being, even if it is only expressed in hints: you will see how an asymmetry must immediately take effect as soon as spiritual figures come into consideration. This is expressed in the physical only to a very limited extent: our left eye is different from our right and so on; it is the same with the ear and nose. But as soon as one enters the spiritual realm, the etheric body has a decidedly asymmetrical effect. The left side of the etheric body is quite different from the right; this comes out immediately when you want to form spiritual figures. You can walk around this being, and you will have a different view from every point below. But you will see that the asymmetry works as something necessary, because it is the expression of the gesture with which this being looks over the rock with a certain humour and looks down on the group below. This looking down over the rock with humour has a good reason. It is not at all right to want to rise into the higher worlds with mere sentimentality. If one wants to work one's way up to the higher worlds, one must not do it with mere sentimentality. This sentimentality always smacks of egoism. You will see that often, when the highest spiritual connections are to be discussed, I mix into the contemplation something which is not intended to bring out of the mood, but only to drive away the egoistic sentimentality of the mood. Only then will people truly rise to the spiritual when they do not want to grasp it with egoistic sentimentality, but can enter this spiritual realm in purity of soul, which can never be without humour.

Then the head of the central figure in profile, as it emerged with necessity. The head had to be made somewhat asymmetrical because this figure was intended to show that not only the movements of the right hand, the left hand, the right arm and so on reflect the interior of the soul, but because in such a being living entirely in the soul, as is the Christ Jesus, this also takes up the formation of the forehead, for example, and the whole of the rest of the figure, much more than can be the case with the gesture of a human being. We have tried it out, although it does not correspond to reality, that if you put the picture upside down in the apparatus, you have a completely different view just because it is the other way round. The impression is different. But you will only see how this is conceived asymmetrically, artistically, in the finished head of the central figure. - One may well say that in the elaboration of such a thing all artistic questions really come into consideration; the smallest artistic question is always connected with some far-reaching whole. Here, for example, the treatment of the surface came into particular consideration. Life must be generated especially through the surface. The surface simply bent, and the bending bent again: this special treatment of the surface, the double bending of the surface, how this brings life out of the surface itself, you only see when you work through these things. And so you will see that what we wanted lies not only in what is depicted, but also in a certain artistic treatment of the matter. It was not necessary to reach the ahrimanic, the luciferic and again the human in a novellistic way, by mere reproduction, but it was necessary to get it into the fingertips, to get it into the shaping of the surface, it was necessary to get it completely into the artistic shaping. And that expansion which man receives by extending his perception into the spiritual, it also extends on the other side into the artistic.

So this group stands below in the east in the stage area. Above it arches the smaller dome, and this again is painted, as I have indicated. Above this group, there is another attempt to paint the same motif. There is the Christ, above Lucifer and Ahriman, and the attempt is made to express through the colours what should be represented through art. It is precisely through the diversity of treatment that one will see how purely out of the means of art the things had to be brought.“ (Lit.:GA 181, p. 312ff)

The World Humour

Main article: World humour
The world humour on the statue of the Representative of Humanity

The World Humour is a figure that sits at the very top of the monumental wooden sculpture of the Representative of Humanity and, as an elemental being, grows with inner artistic necessity out of the rocky outcrop depicted here (Lit.:GA 181, p. 316f).

The artistic work on the group of figures

In preparation for the group of figures, several models about 50cm in size were first created and finally also a model on a scale of 1:1, which is still preserved today, made of lime powder, beeswax and plasticine. Edith Maryon prepared the wooden framework and the materials for the construction of the model. The plasticine was prepared according to Rudolf Steiner's instructions and kneaded by hand. This material was chosen because it remains elastically mouldable for a long time and so Rudolf Steiner could continue to work on the model again and again despite his long and frequent absences from Dornach.


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
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