Main age

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Before the actual Earth evolution could begin, the Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon states (→ World evolution) were repeated in abbreviated form. Earth evolution in the narrower sense only began afterwards and is divided into 7 main ages or root races. Furthermore, the root races were divided into seven sub-races or sub-ages, whereby the term "race" may only be understood in a figurative sense here. For if "race" denotes a specific formation of the physical body, it is only since the later Lemuria that one can speak of the very first races, for it was only since this time that man was embodied on Earth at all. The concept of race only attained special significance on ancient Atlantis, which served primarily to regulate the formation of races. The division of humanity into individual races achieved there continues to have an effect up to the present day, but will become increasingly insignificant in the future. Instead of speaking of root races, it would therefore be better to speak of great human and earth-historical epochs of development. In fact, Rudolf Steiner hardly ever used this terminology, which originated in the Theosophical Society, later on.

„If remnants of the old Atlantean differences, of the old Atlantean group soulfulness still exist in our time, so that one can still speak of the racial division still having an effect - what is preparing for the sixth period consists precisely in the fact that the racial character is being stripped away. That is the essential thing. That is why it is necessary that the movement which is called anthroposophical, which is to prepare for the sixth period, should take up in its basic character this stripping away of the racial character, namely that it should seek to unite people from all races, from all nations, and in this way bridge this differentiation, these differences, these chasms which exist between the individual groups of people. For it has in a certain respect a physical character, which is an old racial standpoint, and it will have a much more spiritual character, which will take place in the future.

That is why it is so urgently necessary to understand that our anthroposophical movement is a spiritual one, which looks to the spiritual, and overcomes precisely that which stems from physical differences through the power of the spiritual movement. It is quite understandable that every movement has its teething troubles, so to speak, and that in the beginning of the Theosophical Movement the matter was presented in such a way as if, so to speak, the earth were divided into seven periods of time - they called them main races - and each of the main races into seven sub-races; and that all this would repeat itself so steadily that one could always speak of seven races and seven sub-races. But one must get beyond the infantile diseases and be clear about the fact that the concept of race ceases to have any meaning, especially in our time.“ (Lit.:GA 117, p. 152)

In his Outline of Occult Science (Lit.:GA 13) and in Cosmic Memory (Lit.:GA 11) Rudolf Steiner has discussed the earlier states of the Earth in detail, so that a brief overview may suffice here:

  1. Polar epoch
  2. Hyperborean epoch (Exit of the Earth from the Sun)
  3. Lemurian epoch (Moon's exit)
  4. Atlantis (Atlantis perishes with the Flood)
  5. Aryans (the 7 "communities" or cultural epochs of the post-Atlantean period)
  6. Sixth Main Age (epoch of the 7 seals; re-entry of the Moon)
  7. Seventh Main Age (time of the 7 trumpets; reunion with the Sun)


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.