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A 16th-century image of a salamander from the Book of Lambspring[1][2]
Sixteenth-century woodcut questionably identified as a depiction of a salamander by Manly P. Hall

The salamanders, fire beings, fire spirits or elementary beings of fire, are elementary beings that work in fire and in all warmth processes. Salamanders, who have exceeded the limits of their actual sphere of action in the plant kingdom, become fire giants.

The salamanders arise as a cut-off at the death of certain higher warm-blooded animals, which already have almost an I-like character, sometimes also at the death of very low-minded libidinous people. Thus, for instance, the monkey takes too much of the group spirit down with him into the individual animal form; and while with the lower animals everything merges again into the group spirit with death, the monkey, because he has become too complicated in his bodily organisation, retains something behind. This is not the case with the lion, for example, but it is with the marsupials. The salamanders thus show an I-like character and have the same members as the human being, namely the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and the I. However, the physical body is a pure heat body, and their I is also not directly comparable with the human I (see also → Members of the elementary beings). The heat of the blood of the beings from which they have cut themselves off gives them their fiery character.

„Think of the group soul of any insect species. If the individual insect dies, it is no different for the group soul than if a hair falls out or a nail is cut off. The animals that always form anew are only replaced new members of the animal group soul. Thus you can follow animal series far upwards, and you will find that what is on the physical plane appears like a cloud always dissolving and forming anew. The physical existence metamorphoses itself and the group spirit only renews that which settles down with it. This goes on up to a certain level. Then something new enters. With higher animals - and the more you go straight to higher animals, more and more - something occurs that no longer looks quite like what I have just described to you. Take the monkey, for example. The monkey takes too much of the group spirit down into the individual form which is below; and while otherwise in the lower animal everything goes back again into the group spirit, the monkey, because it has become too complicated, retains something in its physical organisation. Too much of the group spirit has flowed into it, and it cannot go back again. That is the progressive group spirit. It works in such a way that it creates a new member in the lower animals; then it absorbs the whole being again, creates a new one, absorbs that again, and so on. It is the same with the lion. But if you take a monkey, for example, the group soul produces the monkey, but the monkey takes something out of the group soul, that cannot go back again. Whereas in the case of the lion, when it dies, the physical dissolves and the soul returns to the group spirit, in the case of the monkey it is the case that what it cuts off from the group spirit cannot return. With humans, the I goes from incarnation to incarnation and is able to develop because it can accept new incarnations. You don't have that with the monkey. But the monkeys can't go back either. That is why the monkey seems so strange to the naive mind, because in reality it is a being cut off from the group spirit; it cannot go back to the group spirit, but it cannot reincarnate itself either. Marsupials are another kind of such animals, which tear something out of the group spirit. Now that which remains of these so to speak individual animal souls, but which also cannot incarnate again, that is the true origin of a fourth group of elementary spirits. These are cut-off parts of such animals which cannot come back to the group spirit because they have skipped the normal point in evolution. From numerous animals such I-like beings remain, and these are then the salamanders. This is the highest form of the nature spirits, for it is I-like.“ (Lit.:GA 102, p. 180f)

The salamanders, who live in the warmth-light, bring the warmth ether into the plant blossoms.

„And the pollen is that which now, so to speak, gives off the little airship for the fire spirits to carry the warmth into the seed. The heat is collected everywhere with the help of the stamens and transferred from the stamens to the seed in the ovary. And this, which is formed here in the ovary, is on the whole the masculine, which comes from the cosmos. Not the ovary is the feminine and the anthers of the stamen the masculine!...For plants the earth is mother, the sky father.... And that which now arises from the interaction of gnome action and fire-spirit action is fertilisation. And fertilisation takes place during the winter down in the earth, when the seed enters the earth and meets the forms which the gnomes have received from the sylph and undine effects...“ (Lit.:GA 230, p. 121f)

Salamanders also reveal themselves where man connects with the animal kingdom in a more soulful way, as can be seen, for example, in the relationship of the shepherd to his flock or the Arab to his horse.

„Nowadays people also know the salamanders, because when someone says: Something is flowing to me, I don't know where from -, it is mostly the effect of the salamanders.

When man enters into intimate contact with the animals, as the shepherd does with his sheep, then he receives knowledge whispered to him by beings that live in his surroundings. The shepherd received the knowledge he had about his flock of sheep from the salamanders in his surroundings. These old knowledges have dwindled nowadays and must now be regained by well-tested occult knowledge.“ (Lit.:GA 98, p. 92)

The salamanders have great sympathy for the insect world, namely for the butterflies, they connect with them, become part of their aura. They complete the insect body downwards, together they form enlarged something like a winged human being (Aquarius):

Blackboard drawing from GA 230 (Plate VI)

„When we then come to the fire beings, it is in the case of the fire beings that they form the complement to the fleeting butterfly nature. The butterfly itself develops, as it were, as little as possible of its physical body, of the actual physical body; it leaves it as thin as possible; on the other hand, it is a being of light. The fire beings turn out to be beings who complement the butterfly body, so that one can get the following impression. If you see a physical butterfly on one side and imagine it enlarged accordingly, and on the other side a fire being - these beings are rare together, only in the cases I mentioned to you yesterday - then you have the feeling that if you bake them together, you actually get something like a winged human being, really a winged human being. You only have to enlarge the butterfly accordingly and find the fire creatures adapted to the size of the human being, then you get something like a winged human being out of it (Plate VI, centre).

This again shows you how the fire creatures are actually the complement of these animal beings who are closest to the spiritual; they are, so to speak, the complement towards the bottom. Gnomes and undines are the complement towards the top, towards the head; sylphs and fire beings are the complement of birds and butterflies towards the bottom. So the fire beings must be brought together with the butterflies.“ (Lit.:GA 230, p. 134)

To the imaginative gaze, the salamanders also appear in the form of amphibians (cf. the fire salamanders), lizards, snakes, dragons or lindworms, especially if they are luciferic salamanders. The Samael mentioned in the Kabbalah, who appears in different, also human-like forms, leads a crowd of non-human-like Luciferic entities, which can have a destructive effect on the spiritual disciple in the case of unrecognised and unchanged egoism, which leaves its effects in the warmth etheric part of the etheric body. But Samael also helps us in self-knowledge by sending a feeling of icy coldness against the consuming ardent egoism and by making our imperfections appear as doubles. (Lit.: GA 266b, p. 129ff, S. 239ff and S. 280ff)

Malignant salamanders increase the poisonous effect in the plants, which is often already an effect of the sylphs, right into the seed (e.g. bitter almonds):

„If, on the other hand, the fire beings interpenetrate with those impulses which belong to the region of the butterflies, which are very useful to the butterflies for their development, and carry this down into the fruits, then, for example, what we have within a series of almonds as poisonous almonds comes into being. This poison is carried into the almond fruit by the activity of the fire beings. And again, the almond fruit would not be able to come into being at all if the same fire beings did not burn, so to speak, in a benign way what we eat in the other fruits. Just look at the almond. With the other fruits you have the white kernel in the middle and the flesh all around. With the almond, you have the kernel in the middle and the flesh is burnt all around. That is the activity of the fire beings. And if this activity gets out of hand, if what the fire-beings accomplish is not merely worked into the brown almond-shell, where it can still be benign, but if only something of what is to produce the shell goes inwardly into the white kernel of the almond, then the almond becomes poisonous (Plate VI, right).“ (Lit.:GA 230, p. 140)

For the human being, the salamanders become tangible when he begins to fully awake and perceive his own thinking, as Rudolf Steiner described it in his Philosophy of Freedom. Man then learns not only to think, but to look at thoughts; and then they prove to be world thoughts.

„In the same way that man can, so to speak, penetrate the sleeping dream, he can also penetrate the waking life of the day. Here, however, man makes use of his physical body in a quite robust way. I have also described this in essays in the Goetheanum. Man does not at all come to see how he could actually see the fire-beings during day-life, for the fire-beings stand in an inner relationship with the thoughts of man, with all that emerges from the organisation of the head. And when man is able to be completely in the waking consciousness of the day and yet in a certain sense to be out of himself, that is to say, to be quite rational, to stand firmly with both feet on the earth, and then again to be out of himself at the same time - that is to say, to be himself and to be his opposite, that is to say, to be able to regard himself as a thought-being: then man perceives how the fire-beings in the world form that element which, when we perceive it, makes our thoughts perceptible towards the other side.

Thus the perception of the fire beings can lead man to see himself as a thinker, not merely to be the thinker and boil out the thoughts there, but to look at how the thoughts run. Only then the thoughts cease to be bound to man; they then prove to be world thoughts; they work and weave as impulses in the world. One then notices that the human head only creates the illusion as if the thoughts were enclosed in this skull. They are only mirrored there; their mirror images are there. That which underlies the thoughts belongs to the sphere of the fire beings. If one enters this sphere of the fire beings, then one sees not only oneself in the thoughts, but one sees the thought content of the world, which is actually at the same time an imaginative content. So it is the power to come out of oneself that presents one's thoughts as thoughts of the world. Yes, perhaps I may say that if one does not look at what is to be seen on earth from the human body, but from the sphere of the fire beings, that is to say, as it were, from the Saturnian Being projecting into the earth, then one gets exactly the picture I have described of earth evolution in the "Occult Science in Outline". This outline of a occult science is drawn in such a way that the thoughts appear as the thought-content of the world, seen from the perspective of the fire beings.“ (Lit.:GA 230, p. 135)


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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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