The Return of the Christ in the Etheric

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The return of the Christ in the etheric, which can be experienced from the early 20th century onwards, was discussed in great detail by Rudolf Steiner in many lectures. At His Second Coming, the Christ no longer appears in physical form, but in etheric form.

The etheric form of the Christ

Since the resurrection, the Christ shows Himself in etheric form. He now reveals himself through an angelic being and lived in this form invisibly connected with the earth at first. When, from the 16th century onwards, materialistic thinking became more and more prevalent and more and more people with this materialistic attitude passed through the gate of death, this "black sphere of materialism" spread more and more in the spiritual world close to the earth and threatened to shut the earth off completely from the cosmic-spiritual world. These dark forces were absorbed by the Christ as a great sacrificial act in the sense of the Manichaean principle in order to transform them. However, this caused a kind of "spiritual suffocation" in the angelic being through whom the Christ revealed himself, which led to the extinction of the consciousness of this angelic being. This sacrifice of the Christ occurred in the 19th century in the heyday of materialism, where at the same time Michael was wrestling with the Spirits of Darkness, and can be described as a second crucifixion, albeit in the etheric. But since then the Christ consciousness has been able to revive in the souls of men. This revival of the Christ consciousness in the souls of men forms the basis for a new clairvoyant consciousness of men from the 20th century onwards, and through this consciousness men will gradually begin to experience the etheric Christ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 45f). The Christ himself becomes the door in people's souls that leads into the spiritual world:

„I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.“

„After the ability of clairvoyance was largely lost in pre-Christian times, according to (Rudolf) Steiner, from the 20th century onwards the most advanced people will again have the possibility of perceiving in the etheric. For the religious sphere this means that from this time onwards a Damascus experience can also occur for them. They will then be able to see the risen Christ in the etheric circle of the earth.“ (Lit.: Adolf Baumann, p. 279)

„Let us understand this, my dear friends, and in our time the time has come when people will only be able to experience the continuation of the Mystery of Golgotha in a spiritual way. That is why I have also spoken of the spiritual-etheric reappearance of the Christ in the 20th century, and have presented it in the first Mystery. But this will be a spiritual experience, albeit a spiritual-mental experience, a spiritual experience.

Thus the Mystery of Golgotha is intimately connected with the necessary elevation of humanity to spirituality from our time onwards. Just as humanity must rise to a certain spirituality from our time onwards, it is equally true that it must understand from our time onwards that the Mystery of Golgotha can furthermore only be grasped in spirituality, that Christianity must essentially experience a spiritual continuation, not a historical continuation, in the external sense historical research or historical tradition. But it is only a question of not taking what I have just said in an abstract sense, of not believing that one has already done everything with a few concepts of grasping the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha, as is very often the case. No, one must approach these things in full concreteness; one must not only form ideas about the Christ and His work, but one must be able in a certain way to find the kingdom of Christ in our earthly kingdom. Christ has moved into the earthly kingdom, and one must be able to find his domain.“ (Lit.:GA 182, p. 25f)

This will be possible from 1930 onwards for the next 3,000 years, until about the year 5,000 A.D. a sufficient number of people will no longer need the Gospels, because they will have met the Christ in their own souls (Lit.:GA 130, p. 48f).

„Through the event of the baptism in the Jordan, when the Christ descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, and through the Mystery of Golgotha, humanity became able to see and experience the Christ later - in this millennium, from about 1930 onwards - in the etheric body. Christ only walked once on earth in a physical body, and this must be understood. The return of the Christ means to see the Christ supersensibly in the etheric body. Therefore, everyone who wants to follow the right course of development must acquire the ability to see with the spiritual eye. It would be no progress for humanity if Christ had to appear once more in the physical body. The next time he will reveal himself in the etheric body.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 77)

Repeatedly Rudolf Steiner emphasised that this was a renewal of the Damascus experience that Paul of Tarsus had anticipated as initiate early on as a "premature birth". He was already able to experience the Christ in ethereal form in the earthly astral world.

„Among the many proofs that could be given from occult science of this fact is this, for example, that the event of Damascus will be renewed, as we have often shown, in the course of the next three millennia for a sufficiently large number of men. That is to say, such abilities will develop in men that they will perceive the Christ on the astral plane as an etheric form, as was the case with Paul before Damascus. This event of perceiving the Christ through the higher faculties that will gradually develop in human beings in the course of the next three millennia will begin in our 20th century. From then on, these faculties will gradually emerge and develop in a sufficiently large number of people over the next three millennia. That is to say, a sufficiently large number of people will know, by looking into the higher worlds, that the Christ is a reality, that he lives, they will come to know him as he lives now. And they will not only come to know him as he now lives, but they will become convinced, just as Paul did, that he died and rose again. But the foundation for this cannot be laid in the higher worlds, it must be laid on the physical plane.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 89f)

„The first signs of these new abilities of the soul will appear relatively soon in individual souls, and they will show themselves more clearly in the middle of the thirties of our century, approximately in the period between 1930 and 1940. The years 1933, 1935 and 1937 will be particularly important. There very special abilities will show themselves in the human being as natural predispositions.“ (Lit.:GA 118, p. 25)

„When these great times come, men will also be able to work together more consciously in the physical and in the spiritual world. Today this is not possible because there is no common language. Humanity is thus growing into a time when the influences from the spiritual world are becoming ever greater. The great events of the coming time will make themselves felt in all worlds. People between death and new birth will also have new experiences in the other world as a result of the new Christ event in the etheric world. But they would then be just as unable to understand them if they had not prepared themselves for them on earth.“ (Lit.:GA 118, p. 33)

Rudolf Steiner describes very clearly how the etheric Christ will also meet the people prepared for this in his bodily real appearing resurrection body:

„For we have arrived at that point in time when the etheric Christ intervenes in earthly life and at first becomes visible to a small number of people as in a natural clairvoyance. Then in the next three thousand years he will become visible to more and more people. That must come, that is a natural event. That it will come is as true as the achievements of electricity came in the nineteenth century. That a certain number of people will see the etheric Christ, will have the Damascus event, is true. But it will be a question of men learning to heed the moment when the Christ approaches them. Only a few decades will pass, and for men, especially of youthful years, the Fall will come - now everywhere it is preparing. Some man comes here or there, he experiences this or that. If he had only really sharpened his eye by occupation with Anthroposophy, he could already notice that suddenly someone is around him, coming to help, drawing his attention to this or that: that the Christ confronts him - but he believes that some physical man is there. But from this he will notice that it is a supersensible being, that it disappears immediately. Many a one will experience, when he sits in his room, oppressed, burdened with suffering, and does not know how to get out or in, that the door will be opened: The ethereal Christ will appear and speak words of comfort to him. The Christ will become a living bringer of comfort to people! It may seem grotesque today, but it is true that sometimes, when people sit together, not knowing what to do, and even when large crowds sit together and wait, they will see the ethereal Christ! There he will be himself, he will confer, he will throw his word into the assemblies. We are certainly approaching these times. That is the positive, that which will intervene as a positive constructive element in the development of humanity.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 93f)

References in the New Testament to the Second Coming of Christ in the Etheric

„And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.“

„And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.“

„Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.“

The appearance of the etheric Christ and the symbol of the Rosy Cross

Rose Cross with 7 red roses

In an esoteric instruction lesson in Berlin on February 8, 1913, Rudolf Steiner gave further remarkable details about the return of the Christ in the etheric and showed the connection with the symbol of the Rose Cross. The connection to the second crucifixion of the Christ in the etheric in the 19th century is also addressed.

„If the esotericist does his exercises regularly and immerses himself in the temple legend or the great cosmic pictures given to us in Theosophy, or in Jakob Böhme's "Dawn" and the other symbols as given in this temple, he will notice that it may be as if his brain were unable to think further at a certain moment, as if a limit were set to his thinking. This is how the esotericist should feel and experience inwardly. The ordinary man sometimes has the same sensations that his brain is failing him, but he does not come to experience and realise this fact. People actually sleep through their whole life; not only by sleeping at night, but also during the day they sleep through the most important events, because they are completely given over to the impressions they receive from the senses. All those who in an important time, such as our present one, have turned against that which they could have attained as a spiritual current, who - however clever they were in and of themselves - nevertheless refused to take up the spiritual, who thus gave themselves up entirely to materialism, have, after their death, likewise turned against everything spiritual and there formed a certain hatred, which they then threw back into the physical world as a force (or forces). From the 16th century onwards, this has basically always been the case and these feelings of hatred make themselves felt in the physical world and have their effect there. The worlds are not separated from each other, they penetrate each other.

We have also spoken of how, at the death of the Christ Jesus on Golgotha, the physical body penetrated into the physical substances of the earth and how from this arose the strength for individual human beings to undergo martyrdom in the first post-Christian times. In his time the etheric body of the Christ also dissolved into the earth as an etheric substance and through this the possibility opened up for individualities to take this etheric substance into themselves, and through this certain accomplishments could take place through these individualities here on earth.

The astral body of the Christ also entered the astral substance (aura) of the earth at a certain time, and with it human astral sheaths could be clothed, which brought about certain events on earth. And now the I-substance will be able to be communicated to people. For even though Jesus of Nazareth left his three shells at his baptism, part of the I-substance nevertheless remained with the shells, and thus this power was also inserted into the earth.

The new thing that will now gradually be revealed (communicated) to men is a remembrance or repetition of that which Paul experienced at Damascus. He saw the etheric form of the Christ. The fact that this will now become visible to us is due to the fact that a new Mystery of Golgotha has taken place in the etheric world. That which took place here in the physical world at the crucifixion, as a result of the hatred of men who did not understand, has now been repeated on the etheric plane through the hatred of men who, as materialists, have entered the etheric world after death.

Consider once more how, at the Mystery of Golgotha, a cross was erected from dead wood on which hung the body of the Christ. And then we see that wood of the cross in the etheric world as sprouting, sprouting wood, green, living wood, which has been charred by the flames of hatred and on which only the seven blossoming roses appear, representing the sevenfold nature of the Christ, then we have there the picture of the second Mystery of Golgotha, which has now taken place in the etheric world. And through this dying, this second dying of the Christ, it has become possible for us to behold that etheric body. The condensation, the dead part of the etheric body of the Christ Jesus will be seen by men.“ (Lit.:GA 265, p. 333)

From the Oriphiel Age (from about 2400 A.D.)

„Then, from 2400 onwards, the epoch will come when the forces for understanding Christ will emanate from the earth alone, when the Christ will have an effect on men from the physical plane. But the heralds of what will be essential after 2400 are reaching into our time: The Christ will reveal Himself on the physical plane in etheric form.“ (Lit.:GA 152, p. 47)

„...and around the year 2400 Oriphiel, the terrible angel of wrath, will again take over. And then, as once, the spiritual light will shine brightly and radiantly into the darkness: the Christ will again appear on earth, though in a different form than then. To receive Him, to serve Him, to this we are called.“ (Lit.:GA 266a, p. 283ff)


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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