Spider creatures is the name Rudolf Steiner gave to various types of spiritual or elementary beings. They can only be perceived supersensually and have no direct relationship to the spiders found in earthly nature.
Spider-creatures and the sense of beauty
A group of abnormal spider-like elementary beings awakens in man the sense for real art. They are always to be found in the vicinity of artists and works of art, but are very difficult to observe with the clairvoyant gaze and are by no means of a luciferic nature, as one might erroneously assume. These spider-like beings are virtually archetypes of ugliness and live predominantly in the water and air elements. They belong to the same elementary kingdom as the sylphs and undines, with whom, however, they are in constant battle. Unlike the regular elemental beings, they are in descending development.
„Another kind is that which lives preferably in the aqueous and aeriform elements, like those beings which you will find described by me in the mystery dramas alluded to as the sylph-like beings and so on. These beings I am now referring to are preferably concerned with the world of appearances, of beautiful appearances; they attach themselves less to clever people than to artistic natures. But they too are very difficult to discover because they can easily hide. They can be found where there are real works of art, where the human form or natural forms or the like are present in appearance. That is where they can be found. As I said, we can only discover these beings with difficulty. When we ask ourselves: How is it that we are interested in beautiful appearances, that under certain circumstances we take greater pleasure in a beautiful statue than in a living human being - a different kind of pleasure, to be sure, but a greater pleasure - or that we build ourselves up and delight in the melodic or harmonic shaping of sounds? - then we very easily roll over into another realm, into the realm of the luciferic beings. But it is not only the luciferic beings which carry the artistic, but again such a realm of elementary beings which keep alive in this interest the human being, who would otherwise always be inclined to have no interest in the artistically beautiful appearance, because it is unreal, which stimulate the artistic interest in the first place.
Now it is so difficult to discover these beings because they can hide themselves even more easily than the foolish in the spirit world, for they are really only there where the beautiful asserts itself. And when one is devoted to the beautiful, when one enjoys the beautiful, then one certainly does not see these beings. Why?
In order to become aware of these beings in a normal way, one must indeed try, if one is somehow given to artistic impressions, to direct the clairvoyant gaze towards those beings which you find described in the same scene as nymph-like or sylph-like beings, which are also present in the elementary kingdoms of nature, and one must put oneself in their place. One must, as it were, look at the others with these air and water beings, who are present in the enjoyment of beauty. And since that is difficult, one must help oneself in another way. Fortunately, I would say, one can easily discover these beings if one listens to someone who speaks quite beautifully and whose language one does not understand properly, where one only hears the sounds without understanding their meaning. If one abandons oneself to this beautiful speaking - but it must be beautifully spoken, it must be oratorically spoken, and one does not have to understand it properly - then one can acquire the ability, it is an intimate, delicate ability, to see these beings. So one must try, as it were, to acquire the talent of the sylphs and to strengthen it by that talent which then develops when one listens to speeches which are beautifully spoken and which one does not understand, whereby one also does not listen to what they are supposed to mean, but only to the beautiful speaking. Then one discovers these beings, which are everywhere where the beautiful is, and give their support, so that man can have the right interest in the beautiful.
And then comes the great disappointment, then comes the great terrible astonishment. These beings are in fact extremely ugly, the ugliest thing one can discover, horrible beings, the archetypes of ugliness. And once one has acquired the spiritual eye for these beings and then visits with this spiritual eye some studio in which artistic things are created, then one finds that it are these beings which, like spiders, are actually at the bottom of the world's existence on earth, so that man is interested in beauty. It is these horrible spider-beings of an elementary kind that awaken the interest in beauty. Man would not be able to have a real interest in beauty if his soul were not enmeshed in a world of primordially ugly spider-creatures.
One does not suspect, when walking through a gallery in this way - for what I have told you is all for the discovery of the forms of these beings, they are there every time man enjoys beauty - how one is supported in one's interest in the most beautiful pictures by the fact that in all ears and in all nostrils these ugliest spiders crawl out and in. At the bottom of ugliness rises man's enthusiasm for beauty. That is a mystery of the world. One needs, I would say, the incitement of ugliness in order that the beautiful may come to the fore. And the great artistic natures were those who, through their strong corporeality, were able to endure the imposition of these spiders in order to produce a Sistine Madonna or the like. Whatever beauty is produced in the world is produced in such a way that it stands out from a sea of ugliness through the enthusiasm of the human soul.
You must not believe that when you go beyond the veil of the sensual, when you come to the region beyond the threshold, you come into all that is beautiful. Do not think that anyone who knows these things is being careless when he says that people, if they are not properly prepared, must be held back at the threshold of the spiritual world. - For first of all, for everything that is uplifting and edifying, as it were, before the curtain, one must become acquainted with the thoroughly unedifying substrata. And if, therefore, you spend your time gazing into the elementary world which belongs to air and water, you will again see the great struggle of the fleeting world of sylphs and undines against these archetypes of ugliness. I say spider-creatures; they do not consist of the spider's web, but are built of the element of water and of the element of water vapour. They are fleetingly formed aerial figures, which increase their ugliness still further by having a different ugliness every second, whereby one always has the feeling that each succeeding ugliness, which is superimposed on a preceding one, is still greater than the preceding one. This is the world which is just as present in air and water as that which is pleasing in air and water.“ (Lit.:GA 219, p. 78ff)
Spider beings and intellect
Another group of spider-beings is related to man's intellect, which is becoming more and more shadowy, living in mere images and no longer able to grasp reality. The future reunion of the moon with the earth, which, according to Rudolf Steiner, will take place as early as the 8th millennium A.D. (Lit.:GA 204, p. 249), shortly after the fifth main age, which is divided into seven cultural epochs, will have come to an end with the war of all against all, is already casting its shadow here. Evil on earth will then have reached its climax. The book with the seven seals (Rev 5), of which the Apocalypse of John speaks, will then be opened. At that time a profound division will have occurred in humanity. The idea that the lunar body will simply crash down to earth is probably too naive and not plausible from a physical point of view. It is probably essential that the hardening, mummifying lunar forces, which separated from the Earth in Lemurian times (→ lunar separation), reunite with it, unfold their negative effects on the reproductive capacity of man and make further earthly incarnations impossible.
„If man today thinks only by his intellect, these thoughts are not rooted in reality. These thoughts move only in a shadowy existence. And more and more, human thoughts move in a shadowy existence. And this became strongest in the 19th century. And today, man definitely lacks the sense of reality. Man lives in a spiritual element, but is a materialist. With his spiritual thoughts, which are only shadow thoughts, he thinks only of material existence [...]
Now you know that the moon will one day unite with the earth again. This point in time, when the moon will unite with the earth again, is postponed for thousands of years by astronomers and geologists living in abstraction; but that is only a delusion. In reality, we are not so far away from that point in time. You know that humanity as such is getting younger and younger. You know that people are increasingly developing their physical and spiritual development only up to a certain point in time. At the time of Christ's death, when the event of Golgotha took place, people were generally capable of bodily and spiritual development up to the age of thirty-three. Today they are only capable until the twenty-seventh year. And there will come a time in the fourth millennium when people will only be capable of development up to the twenty-first year. Then a time will come in the seventh millennium when people will only be able to develop through their physicality until the fourteenth year. Women will then cease to be fertile; there will be a quite different way of life on earth. It will be the time when the moon again approaches the earth, again incorporates itself into the earth [...]
And we must relate what is happening now, the becoming shadowy of the intellect, to what will one day come as a relevant event in the evolution of the earth: the whirring of the moon into the earth's matter. Our intellect is becoming more and more shadowy. If this were to continue, if humanity were not to decide to receive into itself that which can come forth from spiritual worlds, then man would gradually become more and more absorbed in the shadowy colour of his intellect.“ (Lit.:GA 204, p. 240f)
This development can only be mitigated if the shadowy thinking is penetrated with the living wisdom of spiritual science. This is possible because certain spiritual beings have been descending to earth since the end of the 1980s, i.e. shortly after the dawn of the Michael Age in 1879.
„Into the shadowy concepts of the intellect and into the shadowy intellectual ideas must be absorbed that which spiritual science can give in the way of living wisdom. Through this, the shadowy images of the intellect must be enlivened. But this enlivening of the shadowy images of the intellect is not only a human event, it is a cosmic event. Remember what I have described in my "Occult Science", that human souls once wandered up to the planets and then came down again to earthly existence. I have shown in my "Occult Science" how the Martian, Jupiterian and so on human beings came down to earth one after the other. You see, an important event took place - one can only describe it from the facts that are confirmed to us in the spiritual world - an important event took place at the end of the seventies of the 19th century. While in the old Atlantean time these human beings came down from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and so on to the earth, while the human soul beings took up their earthly existence, a time is now beginning in which other beings, who are not human beings, but who are dependent for the further development of their existence on coming to the earth and entering into a relationship with human beings on earth, in which such beings also come down from the extraterrestrial regions of the world. Since the end of the eighties of the 19th century, supernatural beings have wanted to come into the earthly existence. Just as the Vulcan people were the last to descend to Earth, so Vulcan beings are now actually entering Earth existence. We already have supernatural beings in our earthly existence. And it is thanks to this circumstance, that supernatural beings bring the messages down into this earthly existence, that we can have a coherent spiritual science at all.“ (Lit.:GA 204, p. 242f)
If we do not succeed in absorbing this spiritual wisdom, a terrible race of spider-beings will spring up on earth, which, with their automaton-like nature, stand between the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom, but are endowed with an over-abundant intellect and spin the earth and humanity into their web.
„Since the last third of the 19th century we have really had to deal with an intrusion of spiritual beings from outer space, first of all of such beings who live in the sphere between the Moon and Mercury, but who are already, I would like to say, rushing into earthly life and trying to gain a foothold in earthly life by filling people's minds with thoughts of the spiritual beings of outer space. In this way one can also describe what I described earlier, that we must enliven our shadowy intellect with the images of spiritual science. This is how it is described in the abstract. We describe it concretely when we say: Spiritual beings want to descend into earthly existence, and they are to be received. Shock after shock will occur, and in the end earthly existence would have to end in social chaos if these beings came down and human existence was only opposition to the descent of these beings. These beings want nothing else than to be the outposts for what will happen to earthly existence when the moon unites with the earth again.
You see, today it can still seem relatively harmless to people if they only think out those thoughts, automatic, lifeless thoughts, which arise when one grasps the mineral world and the mineral on plants, the mineral on animals, the mineral on man. I would like to say that people today feast on these thoughts, they feel comfortable with them as materialists, for only they are thought of today. But just think, if men were to continue thinking in this way, if men were really to develop nothing but such thoughts, up to the time when, in the 8th millennium, lunar existence will again unite with earthly existence, what would then come into being? Yes, the beings of which I have spoken will gradually come down to earth, Vulcan beings, Vulcan supermen, Venus supermen, Mercury supermen, Sun supermen and so on will unite with earth existence. But if men continue to make mere opposition to them, the earth existence will pass into chaos in the course of the next millennia. Earthly people will be able to continue to develop their intellect automatically; it can also develop within barbarism; but being fully human will not be drawn into this intellect, and people will have no relationship to those beings which want to incline down to them into earthly existence. And all those beings which are now thought of incorrectly by man, the beings which are thought of incorrectly for the reason that the mere shadowy intellect thinks only of the mineral, I would like to say the grossly material in the mineral kingdom, in the plant kingdom, in the animal kingdom and even in the human kingdom, these thoughts of men, which have no reality, will become reality at one stroke when the moon unites with the earth. And out of the earth will sprout a terrible race of beings, which in their character stand between the mineral kingdom and the vegetable kingdom as automaton-like beings with a superabundant intellect, with an intense intellect. With this movement, which will take hold over the earth, the earth will be covered as with a web, a web of terrible spiders, spiders of a gigantic wisdom, which, however, in their organisation do not even reach up to the plant existence, terrible spiders, which will entangle themselves in each other, which in their outer movements will imitate everything that men thought out with the shadowy intellect, which did not allow itself to be stimulated by that which is to come through a new imagination, that which is to come at all through spiritual science. All that which men think of such thoughts, which are unreal, will become essential. The earth will be covered, as it is now covered with a layer of air, as it is sometimes covered with swarms of locusts, with terrible mineral-plant spiders, which very intelligently, but terribly viciously, spin themselves into one another. And man, in so far as he has not enlivened his shadowy intellectual concepts, instead of uniting his being with the beings who have wanted to descend since the last third of the nineteenth century, will have to unite his being with these terrible mineral-plant spider-animals. He will himself live together with these spider-creatures, and he will have to seek his further progress in world existence in that development which this spider-creature then assumes.“ (Lit.:GA 204, p. 243ff)
- Rudolf Steiner: Perspektiven der Menschheitsentwickelung, GA 204 (1979), ISBN 3-7274-2040-5 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Das Verhältnis der Sternenwelt zum Menschen und des Menschen zur Sternenwelt. Die geistige Kommunion der Menschheit., GA 219 (1994), ISBN 3-7274-2190-8 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
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